To Ease a Tempest (Limited Spot RP)

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Kaia Ushari

Kaia listened to Keren as they walked towards the house. She glanced over, adjusting the zipper on her flight suit so that it was a little lower to reveal the blue T-censored underneath. She was just glad Lena was with them. The dragon would scare off pretty much anything nasty that tried to take them on.

"I'll be honest with you Keren, as cool as this is, I'm terrified. I'm just glad we have Lena here to scare off anything nasty." Kaia admitted, glancing up at their Calico dragon friend. 

"And I should be honest with you girls. I've never fought anything larger than a mountain lion or a Chimera." Lena admitted, feeling that even a dragon should be honest with the two humans she was looking after. Her ears pricked up, alert on some sound the girls couldn't hear, her head turning as the golden gate came into view. 

"O mo dhiathan. (Oh my gosh)" Kaia whistled in Scotts Gaelic. She was fluent in the langauge thanks to her parents. She glanced at Keren and Lena. 

"You two seeing this?" She asked her two companions, hearing Lena growl lowly. 

"Stay close. Something isn't right...." Lena warned, stepping closer to the two humans under her care. Her protective "Big Sister" instincts were kicking in. For some reason, Lena felt like these two were important. The dragon wouldn't be able to articulate it later though. It was just....pack instinct or something. "These gates shouldn't be closed like this. I know the owners of this property. They only close the gates if there's danger in the area. And I'm not talking normal danger like manticore and other creatures like that. Something big. Something different." The dragon told them, her Dracian accent thickening a little as she spoke. It sounded sort of like a mix of European accents: German, Danish, Icelandic, Galic, etc.

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~!{0}!~

Some time later (Jason wasn't exactly keeping an eye on the clock, what with all the running for his life), after what seemed an eternity of weaving and dodging left and right through trees, vines, and undergrowth, praying all the while, with the deadly pounding of hooves always behind him, the hoofbeats began to slow.  Jason leapt a small brook, and they stopped.  After breathing a quick prayer of thanks, heaving a huge sigh of relief, and trying to catch his breath, Jason turned to look back.

The horse -no, the... winged unicorn??- stood, evidently only slightly winded, just behind the narrow stream.  Its ears were pinned back, its eyes showed the whites, and its lips were curled back, showing the teeth.  Jason knew enough about horses to recognize "angry" in their body language, and winged unicorns were no different.

The white equine regarded Jason darkly for a time.  Oh, Jason realized suddenly, I must have invaded his territory.  I really should stay out of it, I suppose.  He didn't realize that he suddenly recognized the unicorn as a male.

The snowy stallion snorted derisively and shook his head and long, gleaming mane.  Then, turning to the side, trotted off along the crick and disapeared into the woods.  Jason, still gasping for breath, sighed again, then tried to get his bearings.

Looking around, he realized that doing so would be next to impossible on the ground; the forest trees which surrounded him were tall, and he could see nothing more than their trunks and the undergrowth.  Looking up was no good either; only small fragments of the unusually deep blue (Did it have a hint of purple?) sky were visible between the curious, flashingly colorful leaves.  He must have gone downhill, for the mountain chains which he had noticed from his crash site could no longer be seen.  No, the ground was no good; he'd have to try climbing a tree to get above the forest canopy. 

Before he did that, however, Jason needed a drink.  He was parched after the mad scramble for his life.  He brought out and broke open one of the packets of water from the bail-out kit.  After downing half of its contents, he carefully folded it up and replaced it, then began looking for a suitable tree.

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Elijah Dec

Elijah dropped to the ground of the ledge he found himself on, having climbed a mountain for the past few hours and barely gotten anywhere near where he wanted. A few deep breaths later he sat up, admiring the view the ledge provided, although it was the same view from the plane on his crash landing, it still enticed him. Only now he could enjoy the sight for longer. His eyes landed on a small blob skimming the trees in the distance, its giant dark coloured wings took the creature from one side of the forest to the other in mere moments. Just giving Elijah enough time to notice the body type the wings carried.

 

"A winged human?" He questioned, tilting his head and shaking it as the creature disappeared into the trees. He reached into his bag and pulled out some water and the radio, drinking the liquid as he fiddled with the channels. Not getting anything else but static, he sighed, placing it back in his bag and watching the scene a little longer. 

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Keren Endas

"Kaia?" Keren asked. "Are ye seeing this too? Or is it just my imagination?" Kaia gaped. "No, I'm seeing it too." 

Keren got closer to the sunset gold gate and tried to peer further in. Were those really spirals and flags? Was that really an outer wall? Keren squinted trying to see more. Were her eyes really that dry? Now she just noticed how parched she truly was. No water for a day or more. . . What was the time? How long had she been in this strange land? Suddenly, Keren had an overwhelming sense of desperation cloud her already jumbled head. 

 "Lena?" She asked the calico-like dragon. "Is this place safe?" Lena cocked her head. "Not sure." She said. "I haven't talked to anyone or seen their behavior." 

  That wasn't an answer for Keren. She had to get in. Then she realised how childish and pathetic she was acting. You've been in plenty more dangerous situations, Keren. She thought. How ridiculous are you right now? This could well be enemy territory. Now come on, stop being such a fool. 

 The human girl exhaled calmly, and looked up at the sky. Darkness was falling soon, and who knew what might jump out at night?

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Kaia Ushari

Kaia decided to trust her dragon friend's instincts. If she felt this place wasn't safe, then it wasn't safe. 

"Maybe there's another village nearby? Where we can find an inn or something? This looks like it's some sort of larger complex." Kaia suggested, peering into the gate herself. She could see a full castle, spires, flags, towers, wow. Something out of a DnD campaign all right. She'd seen castles like this in the online game. She wondered if the game designers had been here before and used this place as inspiration. 

"I have to agree with your friend on this one Keren. Something's telling me that we shouldn't go in tonight." Lena agreed, flaring her wings before neatly folding them to her back. Kaia wondered if all dragons did that when they were stressed. At least, it seemed like a stress gesture to Kaia. They seemed different from the How to train your Dragon variety of dragons. But she remembered the animators had Toothless do that a few times. 

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~!{0}!~

After wandering around for a bit, Jason found a spruce-like tree which seemed appropriate to his needs.  It was quite tall, evidently jutting up well above the forest canopy.  The widely outfanned limbs were quite thick and sturdy-looking, certainly sufficient to hold his weight.  Though densely branching, they were not impenetrable, and it didn't take him too long to reach the trunk.  The going here was easier, for there weren't many little twigs to get in his way.  Finding a good handhold, and glad that he had done a lot of tree-climbing in his earlier years, Jason began the accent.

~!{0}!~

Several minutes later, he broke out above the roof of many-colored leaves.  Climbing a little higher, he found a place where he could maneuver all the way around the trunk with relative ease.  Finding a comfortable position, he looked out over the land far below, and gasped.  The view took his breath away.  He had seen many a beautiful angle from the cockpit of his jet, but this, this couldn't even be held to comparison!

Directly below him, the innumerable crowns of the forest trees appeared to form a magical, living carpet which stretched for miles, ever moving, ever changing, and yet ever the same and ever still.  Jason had to resist the wild urge to leap from his perch and soar into it.  Farther on, he could see wide, open plains, rivers, hills, mountains, lakes.  And, misty in the distance, he could see still more mountain chains, forested and not, some snowcapped and glowing gold in the late afternoon sun, others bare, black, sharp against the sky like colossal obsidian knives.  Beyond them?  Who could tell?  Certainly not Jason.  Not yet.

After staring transfixed at the panorama spread before him for time unknown, Jason snapped his attention back to his situation.  Alright, now which way had he been going?  Before running into that unicorn, he had been... Oh, right, following the dragon.  As he finished the last two words of the thought, he felt, very slight, but not imagined, a strange thrill deep within his being.

Huh, he thought passingly, that's strange. He wondered about it briefly, but promptly dismissed the thought.  There were more pressing matters.

Anyway, had there been any landmarks?  Thinking back to the clearing, he recalled a lone mountain peak just to the right of the dragon's flight path.  He could work with that.  Or so he thought, until he began scanning the terrain, and noticed the many single rocky peaks and spires. Jason sighed.

Well, maybe he could find the clearing?  That might help.  He remembered the bluff over which the dragon had first soared, and the general oblong shape of the grassy space.  Looking down and around, he at first couldn't locate it, but then a faint, wispy pillar of smoke in the sky caught his eye.  Following it downward toward the ground, he saw that the trees did appear to thin out, and... Yes!  He could just see the lip of the bluff, and the tall tree that grew just in front of it.

Jason realized he was fortunate he had chosen this tree.  Much more to the... north, going by the sun's position, and he would have been looking straight along the bluff, and thus unable to see it.  As it was, however, he could trace a line from the crash site to any of four different peaks which could be the one he had seen.

Looking over them again, he decided to follow the... hunch, he supposed, that the one which reminded him of a tower, with how step the sides were toward the top, and the apparently flat, slanting summit, was the one he had seen.  Yes, he felt certain that it was, although where this certainty came from he didn't know.

Jason pulled out his compass, intending to shoot an azimuth on the mountain peak.  However, where he had been expecting to have to wait for the north-seeking arrow to stabilize, he instead noticed that it wasn't moving at all.  Was he already holding it so the arrow didn't need to move?  A slight shift of his hand set the needle to spinning wildly.  Jason sighed.  How was he supposed to navigate like this?!

He was about to shove the compass back into his pocket as useless when a thought struck him.  Flipping down the sighting glass so it was flush with the top of the compass dial, he hinged the top plate with the sighting wire to a right angle with the baseplate.  Then, turning the compass so that the sighting wire cast its shadow straight along the viewing slot and fixed line, he rotated the bezel ring until the illuminating line pointed directly at the target peak.  Knowing that this would only be usably accurate for a short period of time due to the sun sinking through the burning sky, ever-nearer the horizon, Jason quickly climbed down the tree to the forest floor. 

Aligning the sighting wire's shadow once again, Jason set off quickly in the direction indicated by the bezel line.

 

~!{0}!~

 

((Okay, I was going to have Jason reach Kaia and Keren, but I think this post is probably long enough as-is.  Probably next time.))

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Elijah Dec

A rough hour later Elijah yawned and sighed, standing up and packing up his things and returned his bag to his back. He didn't see much reason to continue climbing, having got a good layout of the land from he stood, he looked for another landmark to seek out. A few other mountains had caught his attention but their enticing appearance was quickly over come by the dancing trees below, a few clearings, and the water which was mostly obscured by the tall trees now. 'Maybe I should just go back to my plane.... Start again' he thought, a low hum escaping him before he stretched his arms out and took in a deep breath. He focused on the path beneath him, trying to determine the safest way down when the sound of little rocks falling came from behind. Slowly turning around and came face to face with the very dragon that chased off the griffin. His breath began to shake and hold, his hands grew cold and his legs became weak as the large dragon head eased fowards, it's slited pupils were beging held by wide, focused eyes, a small hiss seeped out of the dragons parting lips and it's steps were slow as it neared. Elijah could discern another set of wings in the distance, more feathery than dragon, but he was far too concerned about the dragon to check. Sudden quick movements of the dragon caused the male to jump off the ledge and slid harshly down the mountain, trying to catch onto another ledge. The short, loud roar of the dragon above didn't ease his racing mind, still sliding down and cutting up his hands as he finally slowed, glancing up to see the scaly creature climbing down after him. Another rash leap from his spot and he continued to slide down the mountain, the dragon's skidding steps closing in on him. The mountain side seemed to have gotten steeper, causing the dragon to use it's wings more to stay on the rocky wall, Elijah on the other hand, began falling to fast to process anything, practically bouncing off the wall as he fell. An unfortunate attempt at stopping himself, only caused him to roll, falling head first into the wall and knocking himself out. Landing neatly in the dragons claws, processing the fast passing purple leaves before completely blacking out. 
 

--

((Just getting the dragon to toss him in a cell... Maybe the Queen's too busy to confront him until the rest of you guys are captured... He's just pretty far from everyone else to just wander down and around..))

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Keren Endas

Keren sighed and kicked her calf. This wasn't a pleasurable situation. She still mourned her plane, Gods, her plane. Would she ever get out of this stupid land? This stupidly beautiful land.  .  . She had been to a lot of places, but none like this. Half of her brain wanted to run up to the gate and hammer and scream at it until her throat was dry. The other part wanted to find a way out. Keren sighed again. At least it wasn't freezing. In fact, it was slightly warm. But going to bed was not a good idea. She would stay awake, alert, and hopefully intact till morning. 

 

 She wondered how her wingmate was, but was too tired to ask. Until a few minutes later. “Hey... Do you think we could climb over the gate?” She asked.

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Kaia Ushari

"Not a good idea. There are magical defenses around this place. I can pretty much smell them a mile off. Dragons like me can't even fly in. We have to get special permission first. So no climbing I'm afraid. You'd either be thrown off by the barrier spell or zapped so bad that your brain gets fried. I've seen it happen to squirrels and other climbing critters when they try it." Lena commented, flaring her wings a little before folding them neatly along her color splotched sides. 

Kaia sighed, flopping down on a fallen log near the trail to get off her feet for a bit. 

"Too bad this ain't Jabba the Hutt's palace. They'd have one of those mechanical eyes that we could ask to get us inside." Kaia commented. 

"Who's Jabba the Hutt? Someone you know?" Lena asked, not having heard of Star Wars. There was a delighted wicked gleam in Kaia's eyes when Lena made the mistake of asking about Kaia's favorite subject: Star Wars. 

"Jabba's a Hutt crime lord from a popular movie franchies called Star Wars back where we're from. There's a ton of lore and mythology around the series and I can tell you about it for hours! But I think a lot of it might be a bit over your head if you don't know the show." Kaia replied, going into detailed descriptions of some of the characters, such as Luke's interactions with Jabba, Anakin's interactions, the history of the Clone Wars and so on. But when Lena held up a paw, Kaia shut up. 

"That sounds interesting, but I'm going to have to stop you right there. I need to scout this area and make sure it's safe for you two. Maybe I can find out why the gatees are closed." Lena told the blonde and blue haired girl which earned a groan of annoyance. "I'll be back soon and you can tell me all about this "Jabba the Hut" later. Right now, I want the two of you to stay out here and stay out of sight." The dragon instructed, glancing at Keren as well, which earned another grumble from Kaia

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~!{0}!~

The sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon when Jason noticed the trees thinning out.  A little farther on, and the forest ended altogether. Jason found himself standing on the relatively flat, rocky bottom of a coombe*  about halfway up Tower Peak (as he had taken to calling the mountain).  He had noticed the terrain climbing as he had hiked, but was still mildly surprised to find himself so high.

Glancing around the area, Jason suddenly realized that now that he had reached his initial goal, he had no idea what to do next.  Did he continue climbing the mountain in hopes of getting more information about the landscape around him, or did he try to find a good hole-up place in which to bed down for the night?  With that thought came the realization that the temperature, though still pleasant, was undeniably falling as dusk slowly settled over the land.  He was glad he hadn't left his insulated flight vest with his plane; it would be his only protection against the night chill, other than the tarp in the bail-out kit.

Undecided, Jason ventured farther into the natural, rocky bowl.  He inspected surrounding rock faces as he went.  Though not perfectly sheer, they were nearly so, especially toward the top.  Indeed, where they rose to become part of the main "tower", the walls did truly appear to be perfectly vertical.  Although some cracks and small ledges threaded their way across the walls, Jason realized he could just about forget about making the ascent.  The only viable way up would be to fly.

...Wait a minute, what? Jason shook his head. That such a silly thought would even occur to him, and furthermore actually almost sound reasonable, struck him as odd, but he wrote it off as fatigue messing with his fighter pilot mind. After all, he did fly aircraft for a living.

As he continued to follow the jagged curve of stone cliffs, a bright gleam from the other side of the hollow suddenly caught his eye, the color of flaming gold.  Squinting against the glare, Jason tried to determine what it was, but could not.  Perhaps just a pinnicle of stone reflecting the dazzlingly gorgeous sunset?  Curious, he moved closer.

After significantly closing the distance between himself and whatever was shining so brightly, Jason gasped.  He realized he was looking at a gate evidently made of solid gold, set into a wall of white stones, also flame-tinted by the setting sun.  He continued his approach with caution; such a gate could only have been fashioned by other people, and there was no telling how they'd react to a stranger... especially one from some other world.

As he drew nearer, Jason's uneasiness grew.  He put a hand in his pocket, grasping the angel figurine.  The small touch of home helped to allay his nervousness, but still he moved cautiously.  Coming closer, he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, astonished. He now saw, before the gate, two figures.  Moving to the side so the glaring reflection of the sun no longer nearly blinded him, he was able to get a better look.  They appeared to be quietly talking to each other, apparently fast friends.

Jason debated with himself.  Should he make his presence known to these strangers, or shoud he try to evade them and enter... whatever the wall surrounded?  Should he even enter?  If so, how?  The gate was closed, and the wall was high.  Maybe he could scale the gate?  But that would mean making his presence known...  Of course, there was a chance the two people could help him.   But, then again, there was also a chance they could kill him.

Jason advanced farther, still uncertain.  As he neared, he noticed that the pair of figures wore... Irish Air Corps uniforms?!  That settled it; this had to be some crazy dream!  Although the stinging scratches on his hands and face --courtesy of his mad dash through the forest earlier-- certainly didn't feel like a dream.  

Oh well, he reasoned, if this is a dream, at least they can't hurt me.

His mind made up, Jason stepped boldly forward.  "Er... Hey there!"

 

~!{0}!~

 

*Note that I am not completely certain "Coombe" (or "Combe", if you want the more frequently used spelling) is quite the right word.  I've done my research, and this seems like an appropriate use of it, but I might be incorrect.

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Elijah Dec

A groan escaped Elijah as he slowly opened his eyes, he pushed his burning face against the cool stone ground. The slight ringing in his ears brought him light headedness and caused him to a feel a little faint, only allowing him to sit up slowly to view his surroundings. After a fuzzy glance around, his vision cleared, dark stone walls took up his surroundings, a straw mattress taking up the corner of the boxed room. The light that came from behind was closed off by a barred wall, causing Elijah to stumble to his feet and lean up against the rusting metal. He wouldn't to call out for help but didn't find much use in that. A few other ideas played through his head but by the time he settled on something to do, a hiss creeped into the hall outside. Heavy steps with long clanging claws began to echo after, and shadows of dragons began to fill the walls. His first thought is that he was still dreaming, but then the dragon rounded the corner and sent a glare and low hiss his way. The breath from the dragon sent shivers down Elijah's spine and pushed him further into the cell, staring wide eyed at the creature. He barely noticed the human like figure follow behind, large wings draped behind it as it walked, and large horns shot out from it's skull. The figures eyes stared intently at him and eventually walked along the hall, glancing in each cell holding some creature or another as it passed. Dragon at it's side. Elijah shook his head and took several deep breaths as he looked around for a way out, unsure of what could happen the next time those creatures came back.

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Kaia Ushari

Kaia's hand automatically went for the empty holster at her hip, where she usually kept her g.un. But she had left it back on the ship when they had taken off. After all, why would she need it on a training flight with Ms Anderson? 

"Uh, hi." She greeted, speaking in Irish accented English. She knew the language, but she preferred Scotts Gaelic since it was her native language. But her parents had made her learn English when she was a kid. She was glad for that too. 

"American?" Kaia guessed, looking the newcomer over with a discerning eye.

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~!{0}!~

His military manners suddenly remembered, Jason snapped crisply to attention.  Saluting as would a senior officer, he introduced himself.

"Captain Jason Felton, 550th 'Silver Eagles' Fighter Squadron of the United States Air Force."

When the salute was returned, he dropped his hand, shifting his stance to "at ease", and added, "At least, I was, before my plane crashed here.  Who might you two be?  I assume from your uniforms --and accent-- that you're Irish?"

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Keren Endas

Keren stared at the newcomer, wondering if she should feel worried that another person was here, or annoyed that they would have to help another person and slow them down. “That's right...” She said after a while. “We are Irish. My name is Keren Endas. If I may be so blunt, though, how did you get here? Did. . . Your aircraft malfunctioned as well?" She searched him all over with her eyes, now fully worried that another person had somehow appeared on this seemingly endless dreamland.

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~!{0}!~

"Not so much 'malfunctioned' as 'got hit and half destroyed by some Russian stealth missile'." Jason scowled at the memory.  "As for how I got here, assuming that by 'here' you mean 'the location in which I stand',  I mostly just walked.  Ran and climbed too, but not so much.  Where exactly is 'here', anyway?  Any ideas?"

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Kaia Ushari

"We got pulled in through this sort of purple black hole. We were with Ms Anderson during our flight class with the Air Force. Neither of us knows what happened after we got pulled into the vortex. We met our dragon friend Lena. Well, I met her first. She went to check things out inside. She also asked if she could add the scrap from my plane to add to her treasure trove. I told her she could have whatever she wanted from the wreck." Kaia confirmed, gesturing towards the closed gates. She wondered if Lena could smell this newcomer. Then she remembered her manners. 

"I'm Kaia Ushari by the way, I used to fly an F-22 known as Cobalt Neubla before the poor girl crashed. My Dad, Admiral Kai Ushari of the Irish Navy, pulled a lot of strings for me to get it. He's Navy, Mom's air force. So I followed Mom's route." She knew she was rambling, but Kaia always did that when she got nervous. Besides, she didn't know what to do and she was trying to cover that up

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Keren Endas

Keren retained her tight-lipped position. Even though she knew the pilot wasn't a threat, she was honestly too tired, too dazed, and too stressed. After Kaia stopped rambling, she figured it would be rude to have such an uncomfortable gap of silence afterwards. After all, she did have something to ask. "I don't think a stealth missile would be possible." She said, looking warily at the surrounding trees. "Does this really look like a place missiles couple come from? But again, maybe you were knocked out of the sky and then fell to this land." Her mouth was the only thing that kept her talking; it was like her brain wasn't even functioning. She had a hard time comprehending what she had just said. "Well, I suppose the four of us are all waiting to find a way to get in now." 

 Then an idea popped into here head; could Lena fly them over the gate?

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~!{0}!~

"The missile didn't come from here," Jason responded.  "Some kind of stealth fighter launched it at me while I was patrolling over the Black Sea.  I actually don't know how I got to this... whatever it is.  I guess I blacked out shortly after my plane broke the service ceiling, because the next thing I remember is waking up to find my plane somehow miraculously on the ground in a forest clearing a ways to the..." he paused, getting his bearings, then finished, "north-northwest of here, going by the sun's position."

Jason then stepped closer to the gate, peering inside.  "Hey," he suggested, "I wonder, could we just push the gate open?"

Jason set his feet, grasped the bars, and shoved with all his weight and strength.

 

~!{0}!~

 

(Okay, I'll let you decide if anything happens as a result of Jason's action, because I can't decide.)

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Kaia Ushari

Kaia shook her head. The gate refused to budge when they tried to shove it open. 

"I don't think the owner of the castle in there will appreciate us forcing our way in. Lena seemed to know them and think this was strange behavior for them." She pointed out, brushing blue tipped blonde hair out of her face. She examined the walls; solid granite. Maybe...was that dolomite in there too? Both were strong stones, common in old fortress walls back in their world and she'd seen plenty like this back in Ireland. Too strong for them to force open or climb, the walls were too smooth. She made a mental note to thank her Mother for making her take geology classes in college. She examined the metal of the bars of the gate. Definitely not pure gold. Even if it was a common metal, it had to be enhanced with something or they could just bend it to get in. Probably some sort of alloy that looked gold. But she couldn't identify it. She tapped it, earning a soft "ting ting ting" sound like a bell that was muffled by snow. 

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Keren Endas

Keren sighed impatiently, pinching the skin above her nose. This really should be easier. “Alright,” She said. “Maybe if we all push, it'll open.” Keren looked at Jason and Kaia. “I mean, it's best to try. Right? How about on three, we push.”

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~!{0}!~

"Sounds good to me," Jason agreed, moving over to make room for the two others.  "Ready?"

He again set his feet, digging them into the ground a bit so he could shove with more force, grabbed the bars (which were definitely not made of gold, which was unfortunate; were they, he knew, he could probably break through them with his bare hands), and strained against the gate, pouring every ounce of his muscle and weight into it.

"Why... can't we... just... fly over... it?" he grumbled through clenched teeth between grunts.

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Kaia Ushari

"Kaia TRIED. She's a dragon. She hit some sort of magical forcefield that kept her out. She was the one who wanted to check things out and make sure this was a safe option for us." Kaia replied, wondering how long it took for a dragon like Lena - even a juvenile - to fly around this place and how big this place was. 

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Keren Endas

Keren smacked her head. “If pushing and flying is out of the question, how about climbing? I know this stone is much too smooth, but with all of us, this might work. One of us can try to climb over with the other two helping, and then we can try to scramble over.” Keren then spotted a tree stump close to the wall. It was small, but she could make it. Hopefully. “I'll try to climb over!” She said. Taking a few steps back, Keren ran straight forward at the stump, then leaped when her feet touched the surface. Launching herself up and over, Keren was able to get a grip on the stone wall. Her feet dangled, and with each moment it felt like her grip was loosening. With a few puffs and a wheeze, the girl was able to wrap her leg over. “Arg.” She groaned, looking like a cat clutching the tree branch it was about to fall off of. In a moment, she was able to get over the gate, and was now on the other side. In a second of disbelief, she let out a relieved chuckle. She had made it!

“Guys! I made it! Come on over!” But something felt weird. Keren looked up, and saw a glittery orange is red hue sweep her body. Then she looked at the castle, and saw the glittery stuff had swept the structure as well. 
Some kind of protective field? Maybe it was to alert an intruder... In the minute, she realized she was the intruder. With a sharp inhale, Keren dared to look further up, and saw three dark shapes circling above. “Don’t climb the wall!" She whisper-shrieked. The pilot whipped around again when she heard a cry, a devastating noise that sounded like death. The shapes were plummeting down now, and it seemed like they were dragons or vultures. Run. She told herself.
 

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~!{0}!~

Jason waited a short while after the one girl -Keren, he reminded himself- disappeared over the wall to hear her report, but there was nothing to be heard, save for the sounds of a summer's late evening.  Finally, he called "Hey, uh, Keren?  What's up?", but there was no response.  He tried to peer through the gate, but the angle was such that he couldn't see the area where the pilot would have landed.

Turning to the other pilot, he asked, "So... now what?  Do we follow her?  I could make that jump, I think."

Not really waiting for an answer, Jason positioned himself and took a running leap off the stump.  He was able to grab onto the edge of the wall with his fingertips, but his elbows took the whole force of his impact, as he was obliged to use them to keep his face from being smashed into the very hard stone.  Wincing deeply, he barely managed to pull himself to the top, where he sat, one leg on each side of the wall, as he inspected the damage to his person.

Because the outer edge of the wall's top was very sharp, Jason's fingers, which had had to support his entire weight, were nearly bleeding.  He could tell he'd have a nasty bruise on each elbow, although there wasn't visible evidence of one yet.  Experimentally, he tried to bend his arms all the way back and forward, but had to clench his teeth against the pain.  Otherwise, however, he seemed to be in pretty decent shape.  Turning his head back toward th- Kaia, he sternly reprimanded himself,  he grinned weekly.

"Well, I made it."

Jason then adjusted his position so he could drop down inside the barrier, calling over his shoulder, "I'll see if I can get the gate open for you."

He slipped down, turning his momentum into a roll as he hit the ground, then stood up.  As he did so, he noticed what appeared to be a red-tinted ripple in spacetime itself, all through the enclosed area.  Vaguely, he was aware that he was at the center of it, and with this awareness came an equally vague fear.  However, he didn't have time to think on this, for he suddenly heard what could only be an alarm call.  Looking toward where it seemed to have come from, he saw several dark... things in the sky, where certainly nothing had been before.  At exactly the same instant, the thought Intruder! flashed unbidden into his mind.

A sudden terror gripped Jason, although he couldn't find any reason for it.  Desperately, he looked around, wondering where the intruder was.  Again the thought echoed through his mind, Intruder!  Simultaneously, he suddenly somehow knew both that every living thing inside these walls had heard that alarm call, and that he, himself, Jason Felton, was the now-hunted intruder.

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Kaia face palmed, seeing the other two climb the wall. She decided she might as well join them when she heard a dragon's roar as she crested the wall. She glanced up, seeing what Jason was seeing. She turned to see Lena barreling towards them at her top speed. She got stopped by the wall, the barrier around it keeping her from getting at the trio of humans. 

"LENA?! What are those things?!" Kaia asked, sensing the fear in the dragon's tone. She wondered what was so bad that it could scare a dragon, even a juvenile one. 

"Get out of there, get the others and get out, NOW! I don't know what they are, but they shouldn't be there!" Lena ordered, both the dragon and human hearing the mental INTRUDER in their brains. Kaia swore creatively, looking up at the sky again. 

Kaia looked at the others, glancing at Jason then down at Keren. "KEREN! GET BACK UP HERE! LENA SAYS THOSE THINGS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!" She called, not realizing that her friend couldn't hear her because of some effect of the barrier that kept Lena out while they were still at the top of the wall.  

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The only thing Keren remembered before backing out was a pair of sharp, sturdy claws lifting her by the shoulders off the ground. Her feet were peeled off the dirt, and she was no longer grounded. A sort of excitement lit inside her heart, spreading throughout her body, and igniting her soul on fire. The last time she remembered this feeling was the first time she tested out a fighter jet which would later become the Bullet Banshee. But then Keren realized she could fall to her death at any second. A short squeal slipped from her lips, as she clawed a stiff hold onto the left leg of whatever monster that was carrying her. After that? Everything was a blur. She forgot everything, and most likely passed out. 

 

 "Nghh...." Keren groaned, only seeing gray for a good minute. Her body was sore, and a rib bone felt broken. It took her a second to register the fact she was in a Spiderman crawl pose, clinging to the floor. She sat up, and looked around. She was in a stone chamber... which was freezing and somehow incredibly hot. Yet despite this all, she only thought one thing: “Was Jason and Kaia in the chamber too?"

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Kaia screamed as one of the creatures grabbed her, strong talons wrapping around her arms as Lena tried to bash her way through the barrier to get to her human charges. Kaia must've passed out or something, because the next thing she knew, she was in a world of pain and only able to see shadows. She heard a voice groan somwhere in the blurr of shadows as shapes began to emerge. 

"K...Keren?" She managed, trying to sit up. She yelped in pain, gripping her wrist as she sat up at the sudden jolt of sensation. One of those dratted creatures....she could see the claw marks where they'd grabbed her. Apparently she'd been out long enough for them to stop bleeding, but her wrist was definitely injured. Kaia couldn't tell if it was broken or just sprained though. But it hurt like heck. She knew what broken bones felt like - she grew up around big animals like horses and large dogs. She'd fallen off more than once in her lifetime when riding horses and been bruised, stepped on and even sprained her ankle once. 

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~!{0}!~

Completely forgetting the gate and the pilot outside of it in the spur of the moment, Jason, fatigued though he was, took off at a full run, looking around desperately for a hiding place.  He knew couldn't run for long; even though the adreneline coursing through him made him feel more awake and strong than ever before, he knew he was exausted.  Unfortunately for him, the sun had, by now, set, and darkness was fast falling.  Which, together with the fact that he had never seen even a rough map of the land, made everything difficult. 

What looked like a dark cave here turned out to be nothing more than criscrossing shadows.  An oddly-shaped shadow on the grass there proved to actually be a depression in the ground, causing Jason to stumble and fall.  Rolling back to his feet and ignoring the new flash of pain, he continued to flee.  But run as he would, the shadow-sentries were always behind him, and since they had nothing to dodge in the air, continued to close in.

Eventually, the adreneline wore off entirely.  Dead-tired, Jason tried to make himself run faster, but his foot caught on something else, and down he went again.  With a moan, he tried to rise, but could not.  He could only lay there, gasping for air.  Alas, within several seconds, even that little bit of rest was cut unceremoniously short;  Jason felt a crushingly powerful gasp around his chest as he was plucked from the ground.  He tried to fight it, he tried to bend his neck around to bite at the thing that carried him, but his head swam and complete darkness closed in around him.  Will I always be running for my life?  was his last thought.

~!{0}!~

Some time later -how much later, he had no idea, but the feel of the air was different-, Jason regained just enough consciousness to feel the soreness in every part of his body, and register that he was on stone.  He thought he heard voices, but it was impossible to tell through the mental fog.  He groaned, then drifted back into unconsciousness.

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Elijah stared at the ceiling, his ideas always seemed to have a road block somewhere along the way. The straw bed he laid on was in no way comfortable, but he found it more forgivable than the ground, so he was content. His thoughts seemed to wander down several different roads at once, he wasn't quite sure where he was going by the time the creatures made their rounds again. The usual sigh had left his mouth as he sat up, watching the same dragons and humanoid like creature stride down the hall, but this time he noticed they were carrying a few figures. Tilting his head as they placed each person in cells just across from him. Both appeared to be human, and wore what appeared to be avian jackets, causing Elijah to furrow his brows and tilt his head even more, mimicking a confused puppy in a way. The two seemed to be out cold, so talking to them was out of the question for the moment. Leaning against the bars to try and see what their clothing showed, but still couldn't get a lot of knowledge on it. Not long after the patrol returned, carrying another body, though far more recongizable than the other two. Jason. Who was also out cold, dropping his head in slight annoyance as he watched the dragon drop him in the fell beside him then left the area to do whatever they do. The hallway fell silent and Elijah still continued to examine the other two, who eventually starting moving and groaning, the same sounds echoed from the neighbouring cell but quickly fell silent soon after. Earning another sigh from Elijah, he waited a little, letting the, now discovered to be girls, to wake up more before he even thought of what to say. Merely just leaning on the bars with his arms sticking out as he waited. 
 

 

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Once Keren got a grip on reality, she looked to the side, and saw Kaia who was still out cold. For what seemed like the first time in forever, she let out a sigh of relief. She didn't know her well, but was extremely glad to be in her company. But of course, another frightened thought popped into her mind. 

Where is Jason?

She looked behind her like a frantic dog trying to get its own tail, when she saw another cell with Jason.

Now she was able to settle down. She slumped against the wall, and found herself looking ahead, into the face of another person. 

"Hello?" She said, her temporarily calm heart doing laps once more. What in the blazes is this place?

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(just so you know, Kaia woke up by now) 

Kaia reached out, putting her hand on her friend's shoulder. 

"Keren, easy! I don't think anyone's hurt. Whatever those things were, they seemed to want us alive. I think they were some sort of harpy species, judging from how they conked us out like that. They could've easily ended us with those talons." She told her friend, glancing around for guards. She got up, her legs still a little wobbly as she went to check on the other side of the bars. She saw two at one of the hall and no doubt there were more at the other end that she couldn't see. She could tell right away that these guards weren't human. Orc maybe, or troll judging from the size and horns she could see under their helmets. 

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"Hello?"

 

"Hi" Elijah croaked back, unable to get anything else out as her friend sprung to her feet and began to talk to her friend, then went on to suggest her theories on the creatures that captured them. Which to an extent annoyed Elijah, as no one had asked about it, and he most certainly had no intentions on bringing it up. At least not in the first few minutes of their consciousness, mostly due to the possiblitiy they even remember what happened. He sighed and remained silent, deciding not to converse with them until he knew for sure what to say. More just keeping a cold glare on them for the moment.

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 Keren listened to Kaia for a while before turning back to the man in the other cell.

 "So.  ..   ." She said, not knowning how to begin her conversation. "What's your name? How did you get here?"

His icy gaze was more or less unnerving, making her extremely uncomfortable.

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Kaia Ushari

Kaia looked over, finally noticing the white haired boy. He wasn't the American they'd met, that was for sure. Norwegian maybe? She got up, wanting to stretch her legs. 

"Well, I don't know where the heck we are, but to quote Wizard of Oz, we're not in Kansas anymore Toto." She joked, trying to lighten the mood. 

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Elijah's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, quickly returning them neutral and barely let out a silent sigh, his shoulders didn't even dare to show the exhale of breath.

 

'Bite your tongue, bite your tongue, bite your tongue.... Okay..' He thought to himself, focusing his attention on the brown haired girl across from him.

 

"Elijah... Yours?" He spoke, voice quiet, and somewhat hesitant, he didn't have much interest in explaing how he got there, mostly because he couldn't entirely remember how. He glanced at the stone wall seperating him and Jason and began wishing he woke up to help fill in this awkward air.

 

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Keren clocked her head. Judging by Elijah's body language, he felt uncomfortable. So did she. “My name's Keren. Keren Endas. Though I probably shouldn't have told my last name. Do you have any idea how you got here?”

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Kaia nodded, glancing at the other pilot. 

"We were doing a training exercise with our teacher when we were pulled into a purple black hole. That's the only way I can describe what happened to us." She told the American, glancing between the two with her in the cell. 

"What I can tell you is we met a dragon who was trying to help us." She mused, wondering how worried Lena was for their safety 

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Elijah's lips parted and closed a few times, a small intake of breath echoing from his mouth as he searched for the words to answer her with. Words were about to catiously leave him before the other girl in the cell next to Keren's answered, causing Elijah's head to push against the bars of his own cell and seal his mouth shut. His eyes focused on the blue tipped hair girl while his eyebrows morphed into slight confusion, eventually flattening out as he thought to himself.

 

With the usual quiet sigh, he pulled himself off the barred door and took small dragging steps back to the bed. His head shaking and his eyes dulling as he gently laid on the straw mattress placed on a stone plateform half hanging on the wall. He closed his eyes and crossed his arms facing the wall as he tried to tune out the other girl's voice in the cell across from Jason's. Eventually getting fairly tired and became on the verge of falling asleep.

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~!{0}!~

When next he regained consciousness, Jason managed to make himself aware enough to examine his surroundings.  He propped himself up on his elbow, wincing as the movement flexed his still-sore muscles, and giving a soft groan as the bruise on his elbow reminded him of its presence.  He gave a quick shake of his head to help clear it somewhat, then looked around.

He saw he was in some sort of stone prison cell.  A long, narrow slot up near the high roof let in what Jason could only assume was moonlight, which was the only illumination.  Lowering his gaze, he saw the walls were all rough-hewn stone.  The bars at the front of the cell were of some strange sort of metal which sparkled unnaturally where the moonlight hit it.

It was odd, Jason reflected, that even locked in an unknown prison in an unknown place, awaiting an uncertain fate, he was still struck with the alien beauty of this strange land.  Dismissing the thought as irrelevant, however, he returned to his inspection.

The floor, he noticed, was perfectly smooth (an odd disparity to the walls), and could almost have been used for a mirror in better light.  The lofty ceiling above was lost in shadow.

Struggling to his feet with more wincing and groaning, Jason attempted to step nearer to the front of his cell in order to look around the rest of... wherever this place was, and almost fell down.  He hadn't known his legs could be so sore,  but he managed it in the end. 

From here, he noticed that the stone walls between adjacent cells only extended about two thirds the distance from the back of the cell to the front.  The remainder was blocked by bars, much like the cell door.  Curious, he looked into the cell on the right of his, wondering if anyone else was imprisoned next to him.  When his eyes fell upon the tenant, he gasped in disbelief.  Was that...  But no, it couldn't be!  But the uniform, the build... It had to be!

"D... Dec?  Elijah?  Is that you??  I must be dreaming.  How did you get here??"

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"D... Dec?  Elijah?  Is that you??  I must be dreaming.  How did you get here??" Elijah's eyes slowly opened as he listened to the lower voice. Matching that of a males than females. He lifted his head and turned around to look where the voice was coming from, his searching eyes bringing him to his feet and closer to the barred wall. His sight falling on a familiar face.

 

"Jason!" He chirped, a small smile curving up his lips.

 

"How did you get here?" He parroted. The question escaped his mouth in a fast manner and it seemed to have tilted his head in the process.

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~!{0}!~

Jason gingerly made his way over to stand just in front of the bars that separated him from his friend.

"Depends on what you mean by 'here'," he remarked dryly, leaning on the bars to take some of the weight off his legs.  "If 'here' means 'this extraordinarily beautiful land that always seems out to get me', I'm not entirely sure.  I seem to have blacked out shortly after I radioed you.  When I came to, I found my plane somehow miraculously on the ground.  If by 'here' you mean this prison, though, I was caught by a flock of giant vulture shadow-sentries that appeared after the ripple in spacetime..."

He trailed off.

"That sounds utterly stupid, doesn't it?" he sighed.  "But how did you get here?"

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Elijah let out deflated chuckled as Jason spoke, linning up his recent events with Jason's the best he could.

 

"It doesn't that stupid... I mean.. I was practially swallowed up by a giant purple cloud and then had to run from a griffin... Which then had to run from a dragon... Which I then had to run from as well.... Which, as you can see, didn't end up that well...." He sang, rolling his head around to gesture at the cell he was in.

 

"So, nah.. Can't say it sounds stupid in any manner" He croaked out, leaning against the wall beside Jason.

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~!{0}!~

Jason looked only slightly stunned.

"Er... okay.  Y'know, if you had told me any of that a day ago, I would have thought you'd completely lost your marbles.  Now...  Maybe I've completely lost it and this is all some crazy dream."

He winced as he shifted most of his wait back onto his legs, then ruefully chuckled.

"Sure doesn't feel like one, though."

Not having much else to say, and realizing his mouth was very dry, he took out his half-packet of water and downed its contents.

"So," he queried, folding the packet up and stuffing it back into the bail-out kit, "are we the only ones here?  I can't see into the cells on the other side of the hall very well."

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Elijah sighed out a laugh to Jason's realizations. Glancing over to the other cells across from them and remebered the girls that were there as his friend mentioned them.

 

"Yeah... A coulpe girls are in there, they could probably hear you pretty well though, so" He mused, glancing between Jason and the cells holding Keren and Kaia.

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Keren coughed dryly, trying to get the boys's attention. "Sorry to break up the touching reunion, but someone's coming." She pointed to the looming silhouette of a hulking figure, a soldier or a creature, she couldn't tell. It looked like whoever it was, they were carrying a wickedly sharp spear. When the figure appeared, she saw it was really another human. Or... Humanoid thing. He had pasty gray skin, red eyes, and a tall structure. The human features of him was that his face was like a real person. "Ge' up." He hissed, a thick accent partially blocking Keren's ability to hear the rest of what he had grumbled afterwards. "Th' quee' wants to see 'ou." 

 A chill sliced through Keren's spine. With a shudder, she remembered a less recent thought: Someone had captured her, and the other pilots, but who? And why? 

  "And just what does she want to see us for?" She stood up, an unexpected feeling of bravery possessing her mind. Then she realised how dumb and foolish the words she just spoke were. The bravery left, leaving her feeling small and pathetic like a trapped mouse. The brutish humanoid snorted, out of laughter of annoyance, it wasn't detectable. "Maybe Jix will make you behave." He stepped to the side, revealing a horribly deformed version of the same species he was. Without a word, he drew a blue, glowing scimitar from behind him. Keren gulped, shutting her drooping mouth. Jix sneared cruelly, and took a small rusted key from his pocket. And then, the door swung open, the deafening silence broken. 

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Kaia glared at the guards. They weren't human that was for sure - some sort of Orc species most likely. Kaia was already running through stats for the creatures in her mind - so many hours of D&D online and with her friends mewnt that she had a bit of a Fishlegs type knowledge for D&D. She could tell it was an Orc species - brute strength, not much intelligence most likely, not unless they knew magic. Judging from this world, they probably knew at least basic spells. 

Strength, 16 (+3), dex, 12 (+1), constitution, 16 (+3), intelligence 7 (-2), wisdom, 11 (+0), Charisma, 10 (+0). Pretty much basic orcish stats if my calculations are right. Kaia thought as she studied the two orcish brutes in front of her, and she felt another grab her arm.

"Paws off Duguruk!" Kaia snapped, earning a look of surprise from the guard holding her. That certainly got his attention. Thank you D&D and Lotr fandoms. Kaia thought when she saw how he was looking at her like she suddenly grew two heads.

"'Ey boss! Dis un think she speak ou' language! What the heck do she think she talkin' bout?" The guard commented, glancing over at his two companions - first the one with the glowing scimitar and then the one who unlocked the cell for them 

(here's a page of Orcish insults I found https://realelvish.net/phrasebooks/orcish/ - figure these guys probably have a similar language. Kaia is enough of a nerd that she'd pick up fantasy langauges like Orcish and Elvish) 

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~!{0}!~

Jason started when he heard the voice. "K... Keren?  What are you doing here??"  Unfortunately, the question was lost in the... guard... thing's command (When had that creature appeared, anyway?), announcement, and Keren's subsequent outburst.

As the key was turned in the lock of his own cell, Jason briefly entertained the notion of throwing all his weight into the gate, knocking over the... whatever it was, and bolting for it.  However, he thought better of it, realizing that even if he did succeed, there was a bigger guard just beyond the shorter one, Jix, and assuming he could get past him by some miracle (his legs were still too stiff and sore to allow him to walk comfortably, let alone run), he didn't know his way around this place at all.

Internally, he sighed, then allowed himself to be herded out of his cell into the small group of captives, pressed from the sides by the narrow corridor's walls, and flanked nose and tail by guards.  The one right behind him barked an order which sounded vaguely like "Move it!" and gave him a jab with a spear. 

Obviously, Jason thought with pardonable bitterness, these things have no understanding of the concept of sore muscles.

As the party made its way down the hall and finally out of the prison chamber, Jason muttered to Elijah, who was walking in front of him, "Wonder what's up?"

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((Wow..... It's ALIVE! pfft XD))

 

Elijah shrugged as he walked along, tilting his head to try and get a better view of the creature leading them off. The Jix characters taking an odd amount of pleasure from the girl's fear as it took up the rear. Elijah tilted his head the other way to listen to Jason's question from behind, earning a shrug in turn.

 

"Not a clue..." He breathed out, more trying to stay awake as they walked.

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(Whoa! We're back!)

 

Keren wanted to bust out of her bindings, but it didn't seem like that was such a smart idea. She eyed the key that jingled on their captors' hip. 

"So, uh, Jix, was it?" She said, deciding to break her silence and get them to spill what was happening. "This is a pretty nice establishment, innit?" The dumber guard who had first opened their cells grunted. "Yeah, we in the great halls of the Quee."

Jix slammed his fist across the first guard's chest. "Wha' are 'ou doin'?!" He roared. "Our captives ain't supposed to know where we are!" 

Keren snorted under her breath. Like, "The great halls of the Queen" gave them much information, if any. The cheery little group then began to storm down a long spiral staircase, the rails covered in gold. Their surroundings were pretty bleak; dim stone walls, a few dying lanterns, and even more cell doors. 

 

(I, uh, don't really know what else to put right now.)

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Kaia soon found herself between Keren and Elijah as they were marched up to the upper levels of the castle. Whoever this Queen was, Lena, their Calico dragon friend had tried to stop them from going in. Odd...

"These guys remind me of the Orc and Goblins from Dungeons and Dragons. Some sort of hybrid of the two from what I can tell. I can speak a little Orcish from the game, but not much. I'm more fluent in the Tolkein Elvish myself with a little Mandoa from Star Wars. We use it all the time in our campaigns. Maybe I can try a combination of what I know and see if that helps." She hissed to her friends, glad to have them with her through this