"Judging by the reaction humans are either hated, feared, or don't really exist in any quantity at all. Frankly I'd lean towards the third, even with magic a human surviving in this place seems incredibly difficult to almost impossible. Right now I just hope who or what ever is in that castle is somewhat amicable." Alexander replied as they walked along, nothing really felt right here to him and so he was incredibly on guard through the entire walk.
To be honest he was almost jumping at every slam. He decided to speak to his shadow about their conversation earlier.
"Honestly a part of me thinks that Seth's recklessness and bravado might be a boon here. It may just be enough to keep some of the weaker creatures from picking a fight with us... and perhaps make the bigger ones think twice before doing anything." He said quietly to it.
"Though you may be right and it could end up causing some harm to the cause. I can't say for sure, but right now I'm leaning more towards helping than hurting."
As the group moved through what could only be described as the ruins of the little town, Raven took in the info around her with equal parts dread and admiration. Whatever had caused the inhabitants to abandon this area had done a very through job of it. The empty husks of homes held lots of welcome pockets of darkness, but the vines creeping over and protecting those pockets were unsettling.
The Nightshade hung close to to the Pyro as the still fresh out of the nest Hydro attempted to spread her wings and fly. She looked more like one of the baby dragons as opposed to the flyers back in the Prime Minister's kingdom. Didn't knock the yap out of her though. "As much as I am impressed at the ruthless way someone snuffed out this village, something is off Seth. You don't think that trumped up bitch the monsters babbled on about serving had anything to do with this, do you?" Cause I'll believe she has this kind of ability with a wanna-be name like "Iron Mistress" when I see it...if I see it...
As the group of mages that had decided to go through the town arrived at the castle, they were greeted by a collection of blue flames within the moat around the castle. They seemed almost hungry in some spots, trying to climb the pit that they sat in as the mages approached the bridge. While the flames were indeed an impressive feat, what was even more impressive was the castle itself.
Water seemed to constantly be pouring from the walls, giving the stone and walls an almost shiny look as if they had always been properly washed from the day they were set up. The water, despite constantly pouring down, seemed to never flow into the moat of flames. With that, the winds also seemed to keep the line of flags at the doorway constantly flowing in a wind that seemed to be localized only to the front of the castle, almost specifically for the flags. And with all that occurring, it wasn't clear what was causing it all to happen, as the windows and holes that were about the castle all seemed to be covered by a blackness, ensuring almost complete privacy.
As the mages proceeded the last few steps towards the large door, several ordinary cats made their way out of the slightly opened door, some paying the mages no mind, the others carefully watching as they proceeded outside. This was followed very suddenly by a string of curses.
"GOD DAMNED CATS! FINE! MISS THE SHOW, YOU MISERABLE THINGS! NO DAMNED GOOD AUDIENCES MEANS NO DAMNED FINE MEALS TONIGHT! UNGRATEFUL WRETCHES!" A man was heard screaming from inside, followed by a loud slamming of a door.
One thing that the string of curses seemed to attract was a small collection of gargoyles, who seemed to group up on the other end of the bridge. As they gathered, some of the dogs slipped past their legs, more interested in the cats that now wandered about than the mages.
"Well, then its good that he went the other way then. I get the feeling he might...irritate anything that could be friendly. But, you are right that it can have the effect of stopping potential problems...or inviting even bigger ones. This world is different, so I hope we can find some form of consistency." Alexander's shadow cautioned, only to glance about the castle.
"This place is...strong. Protected, perhaps?"
Seth laughed as Fei gave her wings a small flap.
"Just ice and wings? Sounds like a good accomplishment for the day. I bet thats why you wanted to go to the lake instead, so you could play with that stuff instead. Thanks for telling me about your plan." Seth teased, sticking his tongue out at her.
Though, Raven was there to make sure that he didn't forget what was going on, nor what had just happened to them. As he turned, he found that she was standing a little close, which he almost felt tempted to wrap an arm around her. He stopped himself from doing that, as he got the feeling that was too much.
"You are right, Raven...Something about this place isn't right, but it seems the gargoyles here don't much care for us...mostly. But I don't think our 'mistress' is going to be any problem. Sending a few bits of stones to stop us was quite the underestimation. If she had any bit of guts, or power, she should have sent it first." Seth said, finally stopping at the edge of what was an odd lake.
It was particularly large, and oddly enough, completely clear. It was a shimmering, which was unexpected and unnatural since there was a direct sunlight to really cause that to happen. With the clear water came a view of many of the fishes, slimes, and other underwater creatures.
Around the edge of the lake, a selection of creatures sat around the edge, some hunting for things in the water itself, others just taking a drink. Even some strange fire beasts had stepped next to the water, seeming to be tempting fate. As they had gotten close, a few goo monsters seemed to approach the mages. One seemed to reform itself in the form of Raven, though with the blue form it was not exactly the most consistent appearance.
"Well....I would say unexpected, but I shouldn't be surprised...Hey, your hood is gone. You alright with that?" Seth remarked, noting with the goo appearance didn't have a hood either.
"Of course it doesn't feel right, it isn't. We're not at the Academy anymore, or even in the same world." Fei looked around the lake. Nothing aggressive. Everything was just sort of minding their own business and drinking water. Fei ran ahead to a small floating dock. There weren't any boats or anything attached to it, but the dock went out into the deeper water. Fei knelt over the side, touching the water briefly with the tip of her finger. A big smile broke across her face and she turned and dunked her whole head in the stuff. It was cool, and refreshing, and there were all these fishes swimming and stuff growing under the dock. Maybe they could do some fishing or something! And swimming! The water was pretty normal. Not poisonous or anything, or really anything different than water. Fei was disappointed, she hoped it would taste like juice or something, like, fruity or something.
"If the creatures are like this, I wouldn't want to see the humans. Let's pick up the pace. This doesn't seem right..."
"Indeed. But then again the whole place is wrong, so I doubt our destination is going to make things any better..." Drew said as Cale walked ahead of him, until the castle was finally in sight. Drew whistled at the sight of it, admiring the peculiar properties of the flames and the water. "Well, regal folks here certainly knew how to make a nice castle. I wonder how they got it all to work this way..." His thoughts were interrupted by Alexander.
"Right now I just hope who or what ever is in that castle is somewhat amicable."
"Of course it won't be. Because that would mean something here is going right." Drew said, getting annoyed with himself at his own whining. I can't help it. I know that we're facing stuff like the end of the world, but that doesn't make this any less shitty.
"GOD DAMNED CATS! FINE! MISS THE SHOW, YOU MISERABLE THINGS! NO DAMNED GOOD AUDIENCES MEANS NO DAMNED FINE MEALS TONIGHT! UNGRATEFUL WRETCHES!"
"What did I say?" Drew chuckled, glad to at least hear the sound of another human being at last. The cats certainly caught him off guard, and the gargoyles made him reflexively send a few sparks flying for a few seconds. Take it easy. We have someone inside, and the last thing we need is to send the wrong message by blasting a hole in the castle.
"I never said you are wrong, but I will still hope. Eccentric or crazy is one thing, we shall see if he is hostile as well." Alexander said to Drew as he continued through the interior courtyard through the cats, being careful not to accidentally step on any. He spoke quietly to his shadow.
"I have noticed some consistency to this world. The winds can have odd currents but these oddities are localized, the water is shockingly clear, and flames are oddly controlled as evidenced by the moat of flame not consuming anything around it without proper safeguards. Basically the consistency is that the world operates as if Mages were everywhere doing everything. I may be wrong but it makes sense given what we know of the Reaver and his lands. Nature itself is almost controlling the magic in a sense. Now whether the Reaver is controlling nature here or if this is just normal remains to be seen." Alexander looked to the base of one of the walls of the castle. He wanted to see if it appeared to have been built instead of raised or formed without the need to cut the stone.
Raven smirked at Seth's quick dismissal of Serena's abilities. It provided a positive entry onto the lake's shoreline, which was absolutely gorgeous. The water was shimmering even brighter then it did from afar, also the the slight purple tint that it projected as a reflection of the crimson sky was a little off putting at first. Really? Of all the colors? At least it's not pink or white.
The goo monsters that emerged towards the mages provoked some apprehension of their intent, but from the way they moved it appeared they were more curious of the visitors then anything. That kept the Nightshade from being on the offensive from the get go. When the pile that was the closest to her decided to take her form, Raven was a bit surprised that it was able to pull it off at first, and then at the actual shape of it. OK, either this thing is flirting with me to flatter me, or I have been losing weight since I got here... Raven's shadow just remained in the background, although it was easy to tell from the body language it was not pleased with this blue mockery of both itself and Raven.
"Hey, your hood is gone. You alright with that?"
"Hmmm?" Raven's attention was briefly caught by the remark and she looked back to face Seth, who was now looking at her. "Oh, well, yeah, there's not much I can do about that, is there? I don't think we're going to be finding a tailor or anything to get me a new one any time soon, so yeah. I guess this is just a cape for the rest of the trip." She looked back at the goo thing, poking it with her finger. The creature rippled a bit but managed to maintain the shape for a few more seconds before falling back down to earth like it's brethren.
Meanwhile, the actual water expert didn't seem to mind the difference as she sprinted off along the water before plunging herself face first into it. When she finally returned to the surface, looking like a bird that had flown face first into a wet dog, Raven could only shake her head. "Well, it seems she's enjoying herself." She went back towards Seth, with the goo monsters now laying on the ground. "She must be, since she's kept quiet for more then a minute. So what do you think? It's a little weird but not the threat to humanity that I was expecting."
Seth walked closer to the edge, and cupped a bit of water in his hands to take a small sip. While Fei was a little more...cavalier about getting back to her element, Seth figured he could give it a taste test before just jumping into it. It tasted...right, was the best word Seth had. It was an odd thing to say, but of all the things he could have expected, clear drinkable water in a land of the bizarre was an odd occurrence. Though, it wasn't without its oddity as Seth's shadow knelt beside him and took a drink as well. Maybe they were not as...well, ghostly as he figured.
"So what do you think? It's a little weird but not the threat to humanity that I was expecting."
Getting up from his drink, Seth gave a contented sigh. Raven was right that this definitely wasn't as...world ending as he figured. Though then again, he couldn't claim that this place was exactly normal, with the odd sky, the creatures wandering about, and people who were apparently in charge.
"Well, so far its been pretty nice, actually. Though, I get the odd feeling that those who are in charge are not going to just ignore bolts flying through the landscape, or us dunking ourselves into the water. So, maybe we should enjoy ourselves while we can. Think they have some drinks in town with a little more kick?" Seth replied with a small grin.
"And maybe you could...well, not like I needed the hood on my robe. You know...if you needed it. Just a thought, of course."
Well, that was almost smooth, if you dove into the damn water.
"Hey, Fei! Don't go diving into the water! Scaring the wildlife! And I imagine the fish were doing just fine before you said hi."
As Fei dunked her head into the water and gazed about, a hand reached from the surface of the water and tapped on the hydromancer's shoulder. It tried to be clever about it, only to then pull itself out of the water. It appeared much like the goo creatures, but instead rather a creature of just the water, which seemed to be detaching itself from the water it was in to take a seat on the dock.
"Hello you. Haven't seen your kind here before. What do they call you?" The creature whispered, still halfway being in the water.
As the party went forward, the small group of gargoyles followed along, keeping the fair distance between them as they all seemed to walk forward. The cats had some dogs which seemed a bit more...overzealous, and got a good swipe to the face for it. The cats kept to the outer courtyard though, and the door to the castle proper stood large and imposing, likely the one slammed shut from before. The castle seemed to have been being watched and very well cared for, despite some of the walls being in less than the greatest of shape in some instances, the flowers still stayed in their pots, despite being differently colored whites, green leaves with red stems, and a large variety of just colored flowers and vines all staying to where they needed to.
As Alexander looked closely, it seemed that rather than be like typical carved stone, it had been either pulled up, or dug deep into the ground. What was more intriguing about the design was that the supposed cracks in the stone were simply surface deep, there more for the appearance of a stone built wall, rather than the reality that the walls were all built together.
From inside, suddenly rumbling could be heard, and then the swelling of energies and elements all crashing together all at once, shifting and swirling behind the castle door. With the elemental increase seemed to come a lot more dragons. It seemed that many of the dragons that had at one time just been in the air now all seemed to land and go where they could. On the walls, on the roofs, some of the smaller ones even landing in the courtyard where the mages were.
"Hmm...A consistency in the magic? An...interesting observation. I do not think you could be wrong either, as magic does seem to be of some consistent appearance, with the earthly gargoyles moving about, the walls, waters, and windows being made of the elements...but the last part of your idea worries me most of all. If the Reaver has the energy to exert power over all the elements, then is he perhaps the only god left? The other gods are supposed to balance the elements...all of them under one is no doubt going to have...dire consequences." Alexander's shadow spoke quietly, then perked up as they got closer to the door.
"Power...lots of it. What is going on in this castle? Better...to perhaps not enter?"
The other shadows of the mages seemed to have their own reservations, though they went about them in different methods. Nydia's shadow almost seemed to want to challenge what lie beyond the door, stepping almost ahead of the rest of the group, energy glowing about her arms. Drew's seemed to be a little more reserved that his actual being, but only ever so slightly. The shadow actually glanced back more seeming to be keeping an eye out for others.
Cale's shadow kept to the back, more to be ready for just in case of something, with Phebe's shadow lingering along with him. Gabriel's shadow stuck close to his master, seeming to keep an eye on the irritated and lost hydromancer who seemed a bit more hopeless with the situation.
Fei shrieked in surprise, jolting back onto the dock. Her shadow, who had been standing behind her, jumped back as well. Something crawled out of the water, like... water crawling out of water. She pulled her knees to her face, staring at the thing with wide eyes. Was it a mermaid? Or a water spirit? They learned about water spirits in class one time, and she had read some books on them. "My name's Fei" She whispered in reply.
The spirit leaned in closely to Fei's face, seeming to be listening very hard as she spoke, and when she whispered, the spirit nodded...or maybe that was just it flowing about? Whatever the case, it seemed satisfied with the answer, and enveloped Fei for a moment in what could possibly be considered a hug. Again, with the consistency of the creature it was hard to say what it was exactly doing, as the face and arms seemed to be the only thing that really kept any kind of form.
"I've never met a Fei before. Or three of them at once, actually. What were you doing with the water? Isn't it nice? I help keep it clean..." The spirit whispered back. "I'm a protector. I keep this place nice and fresh. Do you like it? There are pretty flowers at the middle....but you can't see them cause its too deep."
Seth had turned away for a moment, looking about the lake at the creatures that had all seemed to agree on these waters as a type of safe place. Maybe instead of setting up camp in the castle they would do this lake instead? Though, there weren't exactly any beds...but then his thoughts were interrupted by a shriek.
Seth spun, already taking a pair of quick steps towards the dock where Fei was and he saw the spirit which had decided to greet her...well, he assumed greet her. He wasn't familiar with the things in the slightest, and he could only assume it was a spirit based on its...less than consistent appearance.
"Fei! You OK?" Seth shouted over, hand at the ready to let loose some fire. It likely wasn't the best of things, but it was all he could do with the distance they had.
Seth's shadow, meanwhile, waved a finger at the shadow of Fei, obviously in some form of joke in the gesture at being surprised when she was likely supposed to be keeping watch. The shadow still moved closer though, keeping up with Seth on the same readiness of flames.
"Well this confirms my theory." Alexander said out loud.
"The walls were raised not cut. I am sure of it now, there is consistency to this place. An underlying order to it all, everything acts as if mages formed it or controlled it. There is no doubt about it in my mind, nature here is what would be considered mage influenced back home." The next part he spoke lowly to his shadow as he continued forward though more slowly.
"It would explain the storm back home. I guess it could be thought of as two extremes. Here the magic is already in order and may very well have chaos imposed upon it, while in our side of the portal magic is wild and has order enforced upon it by mages. It holds up to the mirror worlds theory and even enforces it. Perhaps as all magic is consolidated here it balances through to our world where the storm is magic in the truest state back at home. Wild and utterly uncontrollable. Destructive and powerful.
And perhaps you are right about the Reaver, maybe he is the only god left. Perhaps he has just in some way stolen or syphoned power from the other gods. I can't speak to that yet, and while I appreciate your trepedation about entering the castle. I see little choice but to enter it, we should proceed with great care and caution though."
"Oh my gosh, I'm fine Seth!" Fei whined, as if he had told her she couldn't eat candy before bed. Cause she could have candy before bed. "I like flowers!" she beamed, as if this were a rare interest, shared by a few people. " Can you show me where the flowers are? I can swim very good! And and I can hold my breath for a looong time!"
Drew had gotten sick of Alexander's constant muttering, getting closer so he could eavesdrop in on the conversation he was having with himself. "By all means, fearless leader, keep us all in the dark. Great way to keep everyone alive..." he grumbled to himself.
"The walls were raised not cut. I am sure of it now, there is consistency to this place. An underlying order to it all, everything acts as if mages formed it or controlled it. There is no doubt about it in my mind, nature here is what would be considered mage influenced back home."
Once he had finished the rest of his theory, he spoke up. "An interesting idea. The whole thing certainly seems plausible." Drew said as he drifted away from the group, looking at the dragons, still staying close enough that he could see the others. "I wonder what this world's version of a mage would be. Since you seem to think that each yin in our world has a yang in this one, there has to be someone here who can mess with the way things work here. If we bring order to the elements back home, there might be some people who disrupt nature here."
He was waiting for someone to take the first step into the castle, noting the hesitation of the shadows. "Imagine someone who could make carefully molded structures like this crumble under its own weight or wave his hands and makes a still lake suddenly become a flowing river." He looked towards the entrance of the castle, walking towards it, but stopping after a few steps. "Of course it's all just a theory."
"That's one idea, and it does make sense. My idea was that rather than instilling chaos upon the system, they instead influenced the order to their own ends. make it easier for one thing or another to happen through their will and then having the order do the work. Like how a society might divert a portion of a river, the river has a natural order in the way it flows. Then the society comes in and digs a trench to divert the flow to their crops, influencing the natural order to benefit them. Of course these are both incredibly shaky theories and without running into such a person it is impossible to tell for sure which is more accurate. It's why I'm muttering as you put it. I'm going over theories in my head which I have little to no surety in." Alexander replied to Drew.
I don't like it here.
That was the chief thought going through Gabriel's mind. He had absolutely no idea where the group was going, what they were doing, or what any of them were supposed to do. There was simply not enough information at the mages' disposal, there had never been a clearly defined task, and yet everyone else seemed to be more or less fine with it all. Gabriel had tried to listen to what the others were saying, but it quickly became less and less comprehensible.
Until people started talking about the castle before them, and the... whoever they were, that they guessed ran the place. Drew and Alexander were discussing the world... theories thrown to the wind without being entirely sure on the evidence at hand. The enforcement of chaos where there was natural order. Such 'enforced chaos' didn't apply in the mages' home; rather, it was the opposite.
"If we bring order to the elements back home, there might be some people who disrupt nature here."
"Maybe... maybe that's the key. This world and our own could have some form of bond, so a change in one affects the other... maybe. Could that be our goal here? Something's shifted in a bad way? Are we meant to restore the balance between the two worlds?" Gabe piped up, clearly clutching at straws but just as desperate for even a scrap of clarity. "Could that be the reason for the changes in the portal chamber back in Kerbones? A warning from the Council, perhaps?"
Seth couldn't help but laugh. Fei was still...well, Fei, and didn't need to be babysat. Maybe this place was getting to him, with too much peace in a place where he expected a lot more fighting...at least, with the initial welcome being as exciting as it was. He figured he could relax, and let Fei play with her new friend.
"Hey! You shrieked, so I wondered! Just you play nice with your new friend." Seth said, a small shake of his head as he went back to the waterside.
Heh, as impulsive as ever. But, I guess its what got her to where she is now...or what she looks like, at least. I almost wonder if there is something that we can do here like those odd deals that fellow did before. Or maybe there isn't any link?
"So...uh...Are you feeling alright? Sorry that I wasn't able to stop that fire...I mean, I would have if I could have. You look very good though, without the hood and everything. Of course, I understand if you wanted to get it fixed fast, because I'm sure you were used to looking that way." Seth chatted, largely just wanting to be...friendly, he guessed. He still wasn't sure what he should say to the dark mage, but he was sure he could think of something right eventually.
The spirit's eyes seemed to get wide as Fei said that she would be willing to go see the flowers. The creature leaned over the edge of the dock, and seemed to slip back into the water like a small waterfall. Oddly enough, there seemed to be an odd tint to the creature that kept her distinct from the water, while at the same time still seeming to be one with it.
"But...its very deep, and no one else has come with me to see them before. Are you sure its OK? The other Feis seemed to be worried, and I don't want to get in trouble...But if you would come, that would be great! I mean, if its OK with you to come down. If you don't want to make it, its OK, because it is still very deep. But the flowers are very bright, and when we see them I can let you have some!" The creature seemed to get more spirited the more the idea of Fei going to the flowers seemed to be possible.
"So if you could do it, we could go do that. It would be something! I've never done it before, and you have wings, so if you don't wanna do it, thats OK, cause you don't have to go under there for long, I promise!"
As the mages made their way close to the door, an odd sound began to slowly permeate the castle walls. It could only be described as an odd thrumming that seemed to cause the walls to vibrate. What the effect from it was small, but for those that watched, it seemed that the walls that were damaged crept towards each other ever so slightly, trying to repair the damage that had been done previously to them. Meanwhile, the flames that were in the pit behind them intensified, and the water seemed to begin to pour out more than just a gentle mist.
The cats outside seemed to pay some attention to the changes, some playing with the water, others jumping through some of the holes as they changed. Some of the cats wandered to the door, and scratched at it a few times, only to shortly after abandon the effort and got to wandering the courtyard again.
"They can't tell me what to do, I'm a grown up!" Fei got up and took a deep breath before jumping in the water. The splash from jumping in the water was her favorite part. Underwater, everything was crystal clear. She was really good in the water because she was a hydromancer so she could see in the water and swim good and she could even breathe a little but not too good yet because she didn't practice very often because she was practicing making ice more. She tried to take a few strokes forward, but her wings were a lot more cumbersome underwater at first. She had to splash up and take another breath before she learned how to use her wings for swimming, which wasn't what you were supposed to use wings for, but it kinda was except in water instead of air. She could swim a lot faster and move further with them though! Fei gave the mermaid spirit a thumbs up when she was ready, and followed her deep deep down in the water. Since it was clear, she could still see all the pretty fishes and other stuff while she swam. There were pretty clam things with stuff sticking out of them, and underwater snake things, and lots of stuff.
They swam all the way to the bottom, and Fei saw a big area of flowers, like a meadow clearing, in the pebbles. They were beautiful. They were composite flowerheads about the size of her palm, with shining gold disc florets and ray florets that were black underneath and gold on top. The ray florets looked pinched in the middle, so you could see their undersides.
Fei let out what would have been excited yapping, but the noise was reduced to a flurry of bubbles that raced for the surface. She clipped one off with her nails. They had long, leafless stems, perfect for making into a crown, or wreath! They would add pretty colors to Raven's dull and boring appearance. She picked as many as she could hold in her hand, her culling of the flowers barely denting their population.
When she was satisfied, Fei made a quick beeline to the surface, exploding from the depths in a burst of gold. She was actually pretty far from shore, it looked like. For now she laid on her back, wings extended and floating on both sides, and looked at the flowers in the sun. She arranged them on her chest and started making chains with them. "So, you haven't seen anyone like us here, ever? Is everything like, dragons and gargoyles?"
A yell followed by a string of loud curses flew through the castle doors along with a few cats. Cale exchanged odd looks with the rest of the mages before entering himself. He too was wary of the source of the voice but at least it was a voice and human-sounding. The other mages approached the door and so did Cale. Once he finally reached the door though, Cale gave it a pull and opened the door for the rest of the mages but he kept his sand nearby in case anything would pop out. His shadow seemed as wary as he did and it was probably for good measure. The walls seemed to vibrate and water began to pour from the walls while the fire in the moat started to intensify. All of this seemed like the work of a powerful mage that he hoped wouldn't mind a few visitors.
Raven would have thought that the distraction that Fei had offered during her dalliance with the lake would have given Seth a bit more time to compose himself, but it appeared he was still trying to stumble across the right tone. She didn't even know how to really react to it, not used to this kind of attention from another person, so all she could was laugh.
"I think I'll be able to manage without the hood for a little bit," she told the Pyro once she was given the opening. "I mean, it's not too bad here. For the sun, I mean." I am feeling a bit warm but I don't think it's from the sun. "Maybe we can sit down though. While we have a minute without having to worry about fighting something." She sat down on the strip of dirt that ringed the lake. "It'd would be nice to just take it in for a moment, hmmm?"
As Seth moved to sit down next to the Nightshade, Raven looked out on the water. I can't believe I'm saying stuff like that. Has Seth really changed me this much? This quick? Is this...am I even changing from the real me? Or was that the real me? I can't even tell anymore.
She knew Seth wasn't going to let her be alone with her thoughts for too long. "So....after surviving in the streets, killing a few people, and then ending up at an academy to learn how to do more than set the random passerby on fire, I did not think I would end up here. How about you? Think you would end up in another world looking over a nice lake?"
"Not in the slightest," Raven answered. Wouldn't have told him that truthfully either. She paused to brush her bangs out off her forehead, the sun having made her sweat a little bit, but the hair fell back into place right after. "This whole thing is just surreal. Didn't think I'd be conjuring apocalypses or battling demons or anything, as much as always dreamed it." She stopped again, trying to maintain her thoughts having seen how Seth flailed around on his for a bit. "You know I don't blame you for what happened with the creatures in that chamber back there. I know if you were able to, you probably could have stopped it. But you definitely don't need to take the blame for that. That was through no fault of yours that I got scorched." She leaned in on Seth, her shoulder against his as she put her hand on top of his. "Although it's very sweet of you to want to protect me and all, I'm not going to expect you to take the blame for something you can't or don't have time to do."
"But," she added as she pulled back off of him. "If you want to try and find me one of those drinks you're talking about, I guess that could make up for it. Never tried anything harder then soda, so I guess while we're here I might as well knock another thing off my list of stuff I've never done."
As Seth sat next to Raven, he couldn't help but be extremely happy with Raven and himself just sitting there, shoulders next to one other. Even with Fei over on the lake apparently playing with her kindred water spirit, it seemed almost like it was...just right. Which was extremely strange, in the light, by the water. If they were not in another world, and were it with other people, Seth might have been tempted to make fun of the entire situation. Right now it was just too nice to really let it go, especially when Raven chatted with him too. At this point, he considered the small possibility that they had both gone a little crazy.
"If you want to try and find me one of those drinks you're talking about, I guess that could make up for it. Never tried anything harder then soda, so I guess while we're here I might as well knock another thing off my list of stuff I've never done."
"Well, then I guess we might need to save the drinks for the castle, if you don't mind. If you go a little too far, I'm going to need something to put you into. Just to be safe." Seth said with a small grin as she pulled away for a small bit. "Though...thanks for the....compliment. I do wanna make sure I'm doing the right thing." ...especially since you decided to trust me so much.
Seth let the thought go unsaid, and when getting up offered an arm to help bring Raven up as well. "No rest for the wicked though. And if anything, we are the worst this world has to offer. Might as well go...Hm, where did all the dragons go? In fact, where did everything go?" As Seth glanced about, it seemed that many of the creatures that had before been at the water had taken off. Turning to see Fei come back out of the water, Seth decided it might be time to get going.
"Hey Fei! Nice flowers you got there...but I think we might want to get going." Seth said, instincts from before kicking back in to keep his eyes on everything.
The water spirit came up with Fei as she had the flowers, and watched them in fascination. It was some kind of unique thing that she seemed to be watching as the winged girl began to tie the flowers together. The spirit hadn't bothered to collect any flowers, and seemed interested in what she was possibly making. The question made the spirit tilt her head and drift around Fei.
"Oh, there are lots of things around here. Some are kind of like you, some are way different...other spirits, like the rock ones. Some of them are shifty creatures, some of them are lizards, others are steel creatures...so many different things to keep track of." The spirit said, just barely whispering. "Mm...what are you doing? Those flowers are so pretty, arn't they? They provide a really nice feel, and are just great to have around. Do you have someone you will give some to? Thats a lot of flowers..."
As the spirit circled around, she seemed to run her hands along the wings as well, almost admiring them. "I never knew they would be so great for swimming...you were majestic under the water."
As Cale opened the door and stepped inside, they came upon a large hall. It was well lit, with torches all around lighting many of the areas that might have had a hint of darkness within them. While some of the bits of furniture, carpeting, and curtains had some wear and tear from what seems many years of use, the inside was largely intact. Along the hall there were stairs going to the upper levels, as well as two side doors going to opposite ends. Upstairs there seemed to be some stairs going to again the left and right to different rooms.
Straight forward was a large, well decorated door. Golden designs of dragons, spirits, and other such intricate designs dotted on the doors, but most interesting was the middle of the door. It was marked with a multitude of magical runes and glowing weapons. Some knives, clubs, staves, and other such items decorated the door. Behind the door itself seemed to where all the energy was coming from, with the ebb and flow of elements seeming to be echoing out of the room. Also, some form of classical music could be heard coming from the room as well.
In the meantime, a few cats wandered in behind the mages, some going to sit on some of the chairs or tables around the area. Some of them seemed to be paying an extreme close attention to the mages, but many of the others paid them no heed. The water didn't seem to be flowing inside the castle, but then again some statues of some of the creatures they had seen had water flowing about them, with some of them doubling as torches about the room by holding flames, either in their mouths or hands.
Raven happily took Seth's extended hand, even if it meant an end to their all too brief respite. As she got up though, she verified the Pyro's comment on the lack of lifeforms in the area. The goo monsters who mimicked her, the beasts who were drinking, all had cleared away from the lake.
As Seth called out to the still water-bound Fei, Raven asked him, "What are you thinking, Seth? You don't think there's something heading towards the water, do you? Or something...in the water?"
Cale looked around in the spacious room. Off to the sides were several stairways and doors leading to other places of the castle but what interested Cale the most was the large door right ahead. He looked around carefully and tried to stay as quiet as a mouse as he carefully walked forward. Cale looked down periodically to make sure he didn't step on any on a cat's tail and give away their presence. But if whoever lived here was a mage like them then why did they need to be stealthy? Cale pinned the magical castle to whoever lived in here and whoever lived in here must be a mage.
Cale crept forward towards the magical door ahead and towards the end of the large hall. He motioned for the others to do the same. They had to stick together in case whatever lived here didn't exactly welcome any guests. He could feel the power emanating from the door which might give them some answers as to what is happening in this world.
Alexander followed behind up until the time came to actually open the door. He stopped for a moment, mumbling a brief prayer to the gods before he finally decided to speak.
"Much as this seems like a bad idea, it is the only idea we really have it seems." With that he went to the door on his right and pushed it open before entering and walking forward cautiously yet with an outward showing of confidence in case whatever was on the other side was willing to talk or expected the following of some ritual.
Drew simply followed behind the other two, looking around the interior. "It's certainly impressive..." he muttered, but there was a slight echo, making him shut up. The music was oddly soothing considering the situation, keeping him in better spirits as he caught up to the others. He stood back from the door, ready to offer Cale and Alexander ranged support in case they ran into anything hostile.
As they headed outside, Silvana noted the crimson red sky, which she was fascinated by. It looked quite nice to her, especially because she didn't have shadows almost covering her sight when she looked at the other people in their little group. She remained silent as the others talked, even though Drew addressed her, though that was mostly because she had no idea what to say. She wasn't sure what they should do or where to go, so she let others decide on that. When they split up, she followed Seth, Raven and Fei.
The sights of this world were all fascinating to Silvana. Mostly as they were in another world that was foreign to them. The lake they reached looked nice to her, if a little odd because of the color of the sky. It was amusing to see Fei enjoy herself so much, though Silvana opted to stay a bit behind the three of them. She watched as the water spirit interacted with Fei, Seth reacting to Fei's shriek and then Fei diving into the water. She wasn't interested in going any closer. She felt no reason to, as she was close enough if they were to leave again.
She also noticed the interactions between Seth and Raven, but wasn't too interested in it. Mostly as it was a little hard to make out with all the shadows around them. She closed her eyes and rubbed them gently. I was so damn stubborn to keep the crimson color of my eyes. This is the price I pay for it... She was annoyed at herself, but there was nothing she could do now. She had to live with it. Her shadow remained by her side, also not opting to go any closer to the other three or their shadows, her arms staying ever crossed.
Joey definitely called this place a blessing. He didn't know why the castle was out here, or what it stood for, but he also didn't care. What did know, however, was that the place was mostly vacant, and he had a place to rest that wasn't somewhere in a tree or in the dirt. Though, he would favor the dirt over a tree, at least then he'd have some sort of security. Still, he was quite giddy as he mulled over his find.
"Never before have I seen so much brass, steel, and silver in one place!" He thought from the comfy bed he lounged in, taking up one of the castle's many upper floor rooms. But, he was right. All the ornate cutlery and candelabras he could get his hands on, and even some weapons went unattended and ripe for the pillaging. All of it, just left out in the open. And he hadn't even managed to explore the entire castle yet! "Just how much more stuff can I find here?"
To prove these things to himself, he presented himself the solid iron dagger he found a day ago, holding it over his face to admire it fully. A peculiar weapon, it was somewhat ornate in appearance, with a ring adorning each end of the cross guard. "Came with it's own leather scabbard n' everything!" He sighed in contemplation, the dagger wielded hand plopping into the mattress. "If I ever get out of this crimson skied world, I swear, I gonna take every damn thing that ain't nailed down in this place." For once, the boy showed some optimism. He actually thought he might've had a chance at getting back to his own world.
But then, he was ripped from his glowing thoughts of moneymaking. There were noises coming from outside of his room. Human noises. There was a shout at first, not loud enough to be within close proximity, but just enough to get a rise out of the rogue mage. He cursed at the occurrence. "Thought I was alone. Hmph." He could've just stayed in bed, and waited for it to blow over, but his curiosity got the best of him. He stood, and collected his things. Along with the dagger he had a tattered brown shawl he'd wrap around his neck, and a small sack of pebbles and gravel, which served as his line of defense up until that point.
Entering the hall, there was a clear line of sight to the first floor, barred only by the second floor's banister. "It's certainly impressive..." Bounced up towards him. That was certainly a different voice. Were there more people in the building? "Guess I might as well go introduce myself." He headed for the stairs, and proceeded down them. His bare feet only covered in mangy wrappings, he kept his footsteps light as he casually made his way down. He produced a gold piece he had from before stepping foot into the new land, and began to have it dance betwixt his fingers as he stepped into the main hall.
The biggest door at the end of the hall, and there stood a individual at its threshold. His back was turned. And there seemed to be other able bodies already exploring the new room. Joey couldn't help but smirk at the situation. Closer and closer he swaggered up to the new individuals, and decided to make his presence known. "Seems you kids are a little far from home, ain't 'cha?" He announced, making sure his voice echoed throughout the tall room.
"Seems you kids are a little far from home, ain't 'cha?"
Drew jumps back and faced the new presence. "Who the hell...?!" he had electricity arcing up and down his arms, ready to shoot before he calmed down. That didn't mean he let the electricity go away, he was just in a more relaxed position. "As I was saying... who the hell are you?" It was what he said that stood out to him. That vague reference of distance. Maybe he knew something... or maybe he was one of the natives, and Drew was just overcomplicating it. "And while we're at it, where are you from? You don't seem like the type to live in a place like this."
"Here you go, you can have one!" Fei sat up in the water, dropping it on the water.
"Hey Fei! Nice flowers you got there...but I think we might want to get going."
"Aww... sorry, I got to go. It was nice meeting you, though!"
Fei decided to see how fast she could swim to the shore, now that she had gotten the hang of it. She took a deep breath and dove a few feet under the water, enough for her wings to propel her. It was so cool: she was basically flying underwater! Well, it was a little different, because she had to cut the water forward, and then push the water back with her wings perpendicular. She decided to try it when she got back on land, see if she flew. She didn't.
With a few extra garlands of flowers Fei splashed up onto the beach, stopping to pick up a few interesting rocks before skipping over to Seth and Raven. "Look what I maaaade" she gave one to Seth before offering one expectantly to Raven, holding up the bright flowers.
"I'm thinking that someone who has some weight to throw around is going to show up. Its...well, call it a gut feeling, but when someone in power where I come from decides they want to be somewhere at a particular hour of the day, you make sure you are not there at that hour of the day." Seth said, keeping a bit more of a stern eye looking around once again.
"Those that decided they could were often corrected. I get the same feeling from here, since this place is so....well, normal. Course, if you want we could just stay here out in the open and show them we don't have to give a damn about them. Seems Fei plans on going with that approach." Seth continued with a small grin.
As Fei skipped forward, it seemed that she had gotten the hang of her wings in the water. Seth wasn't sure how that worked, exactly, but it only made sense that she would find a way to work with her favorite element before trying to dabble in the air. However, she had brought up some very interesting flowers.
"I see you met an interesting someone, and made some very nice little gifts! Thank you Fei. Guessing your friend got you these?" Seth said, taking the garland and giving it a smell. It was a nice fragrance, kind of...well, to say unusual would be normal in this case, but Seth went with it anyways. There was a calmness about them though, and he draped them over himself.
"Hope you had some fun, cause I think we got more to see than the lake. What do you guys think? Castle next, or just wander off? Personally...since it isn't...dark yet? I think a bit more exploring might be nice." Seth suggested. He slightly secretly hoped they could catch a glance on what might have caused everything to run, but he also wanted to make sure everyone else wouldn't pay for his curiosity.
As Fei had swam to the shore, the water spirit had kept up with her to the edge, and waved as she finally made her way out, before slipping back into the waters. The lake and surrounding edges were very still now.
With the new man having approached the other mages, just as suddenly the glowing door of runes had stopped going off. With the sudden stop, the cats all suddenly seemed to take this as a sign to scatter, and split into the different rooms. Once again, a string of curses, general rumblings, and other such words were heard behind the door before some work seemed to begin being done behind it.
"GOD DAMNED MESS! Going to have to work on this ALL OVER AGAIN. And something is going around my DAMN CASTLE AGAIN. Won't even introduce themselves, the extremely rude bastards, EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!" Another long stream of curses, general ramblings, and clattering of metal was heard behind the main hall door, but the runes and other marks on the doors had stopped glowing, and it seemed to be more of just a specially designed door than anything magical.
In the meantime, one cat had returned to the mages, and sat in front of the door almost expectantly. The light grey cat offered little in the ways of different, and once it seemed that the mages were distracted from the door by the newcomer, the cat began to wind its way around their legs.
"Well if they are supposedly as tough as Iron Bitch, I like our chances," Raven told Seth as she stayed close to him while waiting for Fei to come out of the water.
The scene was surreal; a winged creature emerging from the depths of the lake. Creature probably wasn't the right word. Still, the Nightshade regarded the image as just par for the course, both in context of this new world and in the young in spirit nature of the Hydromancer. As she came over bearing flowers and stuff she seemed to have gathered from below the surface of the lake, Raven gave Fei a skeptical look before slowly accepting the offered garland.
Upon taking it, she almost didn't know what to do with the wreath. "I don't think I've worn flowers anywhere, ever," Raven remarked. She just held it limply in her hand while she answered Seth's question. "I'm guess I'd be up for a little more exploring," she answered. It was surprising given her usual lack of physical activity. I don't think I've ever still had this much energy after so much walking. "There will be plenty of time to go inside the castle when the red sky goes black."
"Don't kill iiiit" Fei pouted, snatching the flowers back. "You just put it on. Like this." She did a little jump, tossing the flowers over Raven's head. She threw it a little too hard, and it ended up more like a crown. Fei burst out into giggles, pleased with Raven's unexpected appearance. "Now you are the king and queen of flowers, and I can be the princess!!! If i get to name these flowers (I hope I can name the flowers cause the water spirit said no one else has seen them yet) I'm gonna call them something with everyones name maybe, what do you think? Maybe we can name EVERYTHING here, like explorers!" she pulled out a notebook from her bag, and started to draw a map. It really only included the first building, the lake, the village and the castle, but she was proud of it. On the next page, she wrote some stuff about the flower: the color and where she found it.
All at once an idea came to Alexander. Whoever the lord was had been watching them from the beginning, and this house was essentially under constant surveillance, and like a switch had been flipped he immediately kneeled and bowed his head before speaking. He had never been spoken to by anyone of royalty but the few times lords had passed through their city had made enough of an impression on him when combined with his father's tales as to what should be done.
"Forgive the intrusion and rudeness lord. I am Alexander Smith and we are travelers from far beyond your borders, we are not used to this land as of now. We meant no disrespect."
The robes made it obvious, the fierce crackle of electricity only confirmed Horatio's suspicions. "These guys're mages." He thought. "Not the ones I came in with, though." He got a good look at the spooked mage that addressed him. He liked the look of his robe. "That sort of blue would work well against the shadows..." It would've been better than the ragged hood he owned. "...Who the hell are you?" The mage clarified, breaking Joey from his thoughts. He also didn't give the young Earthshaper enough breath to answer before he assaulted him with more questions. "And while we're at it, where are you from? You don't seem like the type to live in a place like this." The mage's tone made Joey's smirk lower, if only momentarily. But then, it came back.
"I'm...just a weary traveler, who just needed a place to rest his head. Luckily, I managed to find this place a few days back, and trust me, it's been my base of operations since." He raised into a smirk once again. "I'm sure we're from the same place...the same world, at least." He caught the coin he mindlessly fiddled with, letting the information sink in. "We probably got sent here by the same guy too. Threw us in...didn't really tell us how to get back out."
"GOD DAMNED MESS!" Rang out from beyond a door, indicating the mystery owner wanted to scream some more. Joey scoffed. "He wasn't making all this noise a few day ago. Sounds like you guys might've got his attention proper." One of the other mages fell to the ground, and started begging for forgiveness. "So that's Alexander, huh?" He wasn't personally addressed, but it wasn't hard to pick up the information. "Yessss...I'm beginning to think we're here for the same reasons." His smirk grew into a smile. "And something tells me you guys have a lead on a way out."
"I'm sure we're from the same place...the same world, at least."
I knew it. Drew thought to himself, letting the magic die down. The new mage's behavior certainly didn't seem threatening. Strange, but not threatening. After listening to his response, he spoke up "So the Prime Minister sent in a few other mages. Obvious. Clearly not from the Academy. But unfortunately, we don't have any idea how to get out, either. Tell me you at least know what's been going on..."
The line of inquiry would have to wait, as the owner (Drew presumed it was the owner, at least) of the castle started shouting and swearing. "Uh... I'll let you handle that, Alexander." Drew wasn't sure what was bothering him more: the mage in front of him or the shouting behind him. As the grey cat moved towards him, he started shaking his leg, trying to shoo it away. "Go on! Git!" He wasn't particularly fond of cats, which made it annoying whenever Fei asked if they could get one. Well, at least it isn't trying to kill us...
Cale turned to the new arrival but before he could speak, Drew had and along with the owner of the castle. Alexander went to the ground but Cale ignored it and looked to the new arrival.
"And something tells me you guys have a lead on a way out."
"That depends on you, I'm afraid. How can we trust you? We barely know you and here you are asking if we have a way out. You could be another test for all we know." Cale shrugged the man off and turned to the source of the loud shouting. Drew could talk to the man but Cale focused more on the mysterious owner of the castle. While Alexander went to his knees Cale didn't feel inclined to do so.
"Excuse us for the intrusion. Show us yourself so that we may tell you our quest. It is of prime importance." Cale spoke aloud so that the owner might hear them.