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Near the War Fortress, in a series of caverns, their entrances barred in enchanted bones.
Overcast and cloudy; pitch black.
Ayunaye (Blazeh), ? (Fyfer)
Twenty days since Viper had found her; twenty days since she had been repeatedly raped, since her failed escape attempt ended in the alpha hellwolf's rage. She had been thrown in his cage - a cavern sealed off by long bones fashioned into a barred gate, locked and guarded by a War 'wolf outside - and the one who had meant to help her not feet away in the cave one over.
But he had stopped talking. She hadn't felt or heard his presence in weeks. The only company she had were the too-small skulls, many broken and cracked and crushed, of the dead young such a horrible pack had culled. They fed her enough to keep her alive - they provided her with enough water to survive. The former alphess grew Viper's brood in her belly, after all - she would be kept alive until they were born and weaned, and then... who knows what her fate may be.
However, the food was not enough, and often made her sick to eat. Ayunaye was emaciated, bones protruding under her matted blue and white fur, white markings stained brown and red with waste and died blood. Her violet eyes were dulled and glazed, and she lay in a heap against the gate - the farthest away she could get from the puppy skulls, and her usual place in the hell that was her cage.
She was giving up.
The granddaughter of Cirrus had no idea that Viper had been ousted; she had no clue that her son had attempted to rescue her, and had been driven off somewhere into Kurai's dangerous wilderness. She couldn't know that he had gone searching for help, bloody and beaten as he had been...
...and couldn't wish for a scrap of hope that he might, at this very moment, deliver to her salvation.
The winged hellwolf grinned as he gazed at the entrance to the caverns, hidden in a deep shadow, mad all the darker by Kurai's moonless midnight sky. Garza didn't care one way or the other about the captive Vystrian wolf held by War's wolves, but since she was held by a rival Kingdom's pack, he felt it would be a good chance for one of Famine's wolves to put one over on War's curs.
To that end, he had agreed to help the Vystrian wolves looking to rescue their comrade, and led them here, deep into War territory. After a bit, he melded with the shadow he was hiding in, and emerged from another one next to the pair of hulking direwolves he'd joined up with.
"This is the place, alright. I don't know how many you'll find inside, but it shouldn't be too many. And they certainly won't be expecting a pair of Vystrians to come barging in," he smirked, offering the grim-looking one with a wooden leg, Isengrim, a sly grin. It wasn't returned, but Garza's grin never wavered.
"You'd better be right," Isengrim growled softly, gazing briefly out from behind a rock at the entrance to the caves. He hated this place. Sparse as its vegetation was, the Realm offered little when he tried to extend his senses through the earth. He glanced back for a moment to see if Vryheid was still close by, then padded slowly forward, eyes fixed on the entrance, half-hidden in the gloom.
Garza, for his part, faded into the shadows again, and, unseen, slipped inside the cavern. It didn't take him long to find the emaciated female slumped in a cage of bones. "Today's your lucky day," he whispered to her from the shadows. "If you're still alive, that is."
Vryheid, a massive wolf of both Dire and Blood descent, regarded the hellwolf silently. Garza's grin held no humor in it, only a sick excitement that put Vryheid's scruff on alert, the dried blood-red spines between his shoulder blades stiffening before their guide vanished into the shadows once more.
"You're not worried about his allegiances?" Vryheid asked softly as he swung his head back and forth, tasting the air every so often as they slipped through the shadows after Garza.
Inside the cramped space, Vryheid's huge bat-like wings folded against his flanks, the muscles complaining after having been able to stretch out so comfortably in the open air. Still, though, he kept his focus on the task at hand. He knew all too well the horrors that accompanied life in a cage, no matter the length of time spent within. As he followed Isengrim, still keeping a nose out for other wolves, the scent of despair and suffering flooded Vryheid's nostrils. He'd expected the scent of other wolves to increase as they delved deeper in, but there were few constant scents.
He called out quietly to his Wielder, "What will we do with those we encounter?" he asked, ears now straining to detect movement nearby, each swiveling every few moments like meerkats scanning the desert.
This post has been edited by JeSuisUnAne: May 7 2018, 05:01 PM
The she-wolf stirred weakly. She pressed herself up against the bars, vision unfocused, head barely lifted from the ground. "Y-You can't," Ayunaye whispered. Then, her head touched the ground again. "Y-You can't... a-aren't... it's an-another... you a-aren't... here..."
Hallucinations like this happened frequently. She had seen everyone; even Dargan... even her children. But she didn't believe in any of them. She thought they were tricks laid upon her by the War 'wolf outside - and for the most part, she was right.
But this seemed... different. Why wasn't the guard snickering at her? Where was the guard? Groggily, she lifted her muzzle again, but couldn't focus her sight enough to look. "Guard," the former Vhela whispered. "Where..."
Garza smirked slightly as the captive Vystrian stirred slightly and spoke. "I'm not? Strange. I could've sworn I was. I wonder where I got off to?" he snarked, before stepping out of a shadow into her cell and gently nudging her ear. "I assure you I am quite real, and right here beside you," he added in a more even tone. "Your guard has a couple more important matters to tend to, at present."
As he spoke, he grinned as the two matters i question made their way inside the cave. Isengrim glanced back at the massive beast, his equal in height, though the hybrid was broader of body, that had attached itself to his service. "I don't trust that grinning loon any further than I can throw him," he grunted, before gazing ahead once more and pausing as he planted his wooden foreleg in the ground. "But he's our best bet, at present."
Branching vines crept through the ground as the grim direwolf concentrated, extending his awareness further into the cavern. He frowned as one of the tendrils passed beneath the paws of a hellwolf stalking towards them in the shadows. As it abruptly leaped, a thick vine shot upwards beneath it, smashing it bodily against the rocky ceiling and hauling it forcibly back to the stone floor before tossing its limp form aside.
"We will do whatever we must to reach Ayunaye," he stated as he withdrew the vines back into his wooden leg. If there were any other hellwolves nearby, they were further inside, but now he had a better idea of where the kidnapped she-wolf would be. H stalked forward, past the fallen hellwolf, not caring if the beast was dead or merely knocked senseless.
Vryheid heard the soft padding of a Hellwolf nearby, though his nose couldn't quite pin down its location. He'd stepped several paces closer to Isengrim, a Direwolf he'd been surprised to find was his equal in height at their first meeting, preparing to throw his heavier body in front of whoever was closing in on them. When the wooden legged dire stopped moving, though, Vryheid stepped to his side, scanning the darkness around them.
Moments later, the scrape of claw against stone alerted him, and he stepped in front of Isengrim to absorb the incoming attack, but it never came. A burst of vines threw the hapless guard aside, before Vryheid could even voice his warning. As his Wielder moved on, Vryheid studied the prone wolf for a moment before returning to Isengrim's flank.
"Down, but not for long," he muttered, loud enough for only Isengrim to hear. "Will we need to do anything about him? He likely caught our scent." Vryheid tasted the air again as they stalked through the cavern, but could detect only the downed wolf and Ayunaye's presence.
Stepping into the cavern housing the caged female, Vryheid scowled for a moment, realizing he hadn't noticed the Hellwolf's presence prior to entering. A wolf with no scent is an ill omen indeed, he thought to himself, turning away from them both to peer into the inky blackness surrounding them all.
This realm unsettled him, feeling both alien and familiar at once. He realized he'd been bristling instinctively, and forced the long quills on his scruff to settle down and lay flat between his wings once again. This was not a time to be acting solely on instinct.
What? They... they were real? The she-wolf's breathing quickened as her eyes widened. The world spun about her and she shuddered, a thread of panic taking cold around her heart. Someone - someone was here. Someone. Multiple someones, multiple wolves. Their scents... no, she couldn't place them. but were they here to save her?
"Out," she gasped, clawing at the dirt weakly, pressing herself even farther into the crude bars. "Get me... o-out. Pl-please... out... a-away..." Her unfocused gaze slid to the dozens of tiny skeletons and skulls on the other side of the cage-cavern. "Th-the... my p-pups..."
"Soon, now, you'll be free. You, and those you carry in your belly," Garza assured her, briefly solidifying beside her to further assure her that he was, in fact, present, and not some hallucination. Then, as the pair of great direwolves made their appearance, he faded into shadow.
As they entered a large chamber that appeared to be a prison, with small cells blocked by bones, Isengrim halted, and gazed around in the gloom. "If that one comes to, then we will put him down and make sure he stays down," he stated, even as his own scruff rose instinctively. Nothing about this place sat well with him. He could only just make out the scent of a female wolf, a Vystrian and not one of the foul brutes of this Realm, and that of Vryheid.
It was only then that he realized the devious layout of this prison, and of its guards. Easy enough to get in, yes, but once inside, here in this chamber, the hellwolves within could easily array themselves to block every exit, and make their way inside to fall upon the intruders, taking advantage of the enchantments upon prison to remain undetected until it was too late. He snarled, and paced to Vryheid's side.
"They must already know we're here. How could they not?" he grated as his wooden leg shifted and twisted, extending up and around his body as he armored himself. Even as he spoke, seven sets of gleaming eyes appeared in the tunnels before the War wolves abruptly rushed the intruders.
Leaping forward immediately, Vryheid threw his massive body before his Wielder as three wolves materialized from the tunnels directly ahead of Isengrim, though he could smell and hear even more coming from nearby openings. Two sets of fangs found purchase on his shoulder and right flank, and he snarled at the sudden pain. A third attempted to clamp down on his back leg, but received a mouthful of the sharp quills that sprang out from his fur, and she recoiled with a startled whine.
He gnashed his teeth and growled before rolling his body over on top of the two who held fast, using his size and weight - nearly twice their own - to crush the foreleg of one while the other released in time to evade. A throaty howl accompanied his gnashing teeth, mere inches from the wounded wolf's snout, keeping him from rising from the dusty floor.
With a snarl, Vryheid's wings erupted from his sides as he bristled, filling up as much space as he could, daring them all to approach. "Say the word," he growled to Isengrim, eyes locked on the largest of the wolves.
This was it. This was the end. Ayunaye sobbed as she curled into as tight a ball as she could manage - she hid her face in her paws, trembling with terror and weakness. War 'wolves were nearly as large as the direwolves of Vystriana - and were built like ram-horned tanks. There was no way two could win. No way at all, she was doomed, they were doomed...
And suddenly, a blue streak shot past her, screeching, glinting with little bits of gold on long feathers marked in white and black. The small thing collided with a War hellwolf's face, scratching at its eyes, before darting away - a blue jay - Ayunaye's drienar!
Raighn attacked another hellwolf as the first snarled in pain, flailing with blood streaming from its eyes. The second didn't react fast enough - but now, the hellwolves had noticed their tiny attacker, and he had to dodge two sets of teeth that snapped shut where he was not moments before.
"Get her out!" the drienar cried, ducking under a blast of flame from a red hellwolf with a smoking pelt. "Please! Now!"
Covered in armor as he was, Isengrim was slower and less agile than his heavier companion, so was unable to avoid being drawn into a savage brawl with three of the massive hellwolves. Root-like tendrils extended from his paws to give him a nigh-unbreakable grip on the ground beneath his feet, and his jaws tore into one of the brute's faces, even as the other two inflicted shallow wounds upon his body as their massive fangs found their way through his armor.
He briefly caught sight of a small flash of blue as Ayunaye's drienar bravely joined the fray, begging them to get her out. He snarled as one of the hellwolves clamped its jaws down on his armored shoulder, knowing odds were against them. He knew taking Ayunaye and running for it was the wisest move they could make, but a quick glance her direction showed she was in no fit state for such a desperate race.
|I'll see to her safety, oh wooden one. You look to your own, if you can.| He snarled irritably as Garza's mind-voice brushed his mind, and he briefly glanced back at the cell as the smaller hellwolf crouched beside Ayunaye, and began to vanish into shadow. The same shadow began to spread over the Vystrian female, and if she didn't resist its pull, she would be hidden by it as well. Then he whirled around to focus his full attention on the hellwolf tearing at his shoulder. A sudden growth of vines sprouted from his armor, and down the beast's throat, rupturing the brute's lungs and heart before bursting out of its belly, leaving its mutilated corpse sprawled on the ground.
"No mercy!" he howled, giving Vryheid free reign to hold nothing back. There was no way out for the two dires, except to go straight through the hellwolves, or die trying. Taking momentary advantage of the brief reprieve he'd gained with the death of the hellwolf, Isengrim focused, rooting himself fully, and sent more vines across the floor, walls, and ceiling of the prison.
"Surrender to the shadow's embrace. Freedom awaits," Garza gently coaxed the cowering wolf as the growing vines began to work their way into the very stone of the cavern.
With Isengrim's cry, Vryheid bolted forward and into the fray. He snarled as he launched himself at the largest of the Hellwolves - nearly his own size - tearing at its throat with his jaws. While the wolf's rippling muscles kept Vryheid's fangs from piercing too deep, he had the purchase he needed to drive the huge wolf backwards and into the growing vines of the cavern's walls.
Another, smaller wolf took the opportunity to attack his flank, and Vryheid lost his grip in surprise, sending the wolf tumbling from his jaws in a heap. He growled and beat his wings as he leapt up, bringing the wolf latched onto him to its hind legs. Forcing his body backwards with each wingbeat, he skimmed the cavern's roof, hunching his head to avoid cracking it against the stone.
Try as it might, the wolf lost its balance as it was forced to step backwards, and he dropped down to his exposed belly, ripping at the coat and gouging deep openings in the flesh. With bloodied paws, he lowered his head to the whimpering wolf's neck, and snapped it with his jaw, ending him quickly. He rose up to face the rest, and caught sight of a blue bird, talons soaked in blood, crying out for the she-wolf's immediate release.
"A little busy," he muttered, rushing at a Hellwolf as it stalked Isengrim from his blindside.
Oh no! An energy storm of visible power has stricken the area in which your characters are located in! It can be as big or as little as you want, and can have any effect, just remember to make it happen!
The she-wolf didn't struggle. Too exhausted, too weak, too terrified, she lay unmoving as the shadows crawled along her emaciated frame; they hid her bones from sight, and for a moment, before they overtook her head, she could have appeared with some semblance of normality...
...but then the shadows had eclipsed her entirely, and then... she was gone.
The row of cave-cells was empty but for the bones of the rotting dead. Overhead, a starless, moonless sky reigned; to the west, white trees loomed.
And then, the sky began to glow.
The first droplet that fell from the sky smoked and hissed where it struck; but unlike the normal, acidic rain, it ate through the whitewood branch it had landed upon with vicious intensity. The second glowed bright amber, the third a sullen green, each fuming and melting wherever it struck. Then, the entire sky erupted in a localized rainfall of colorful energy, eliciting screams from those it touched below.
Two of the hellwolves screeched in agony as their fur was melted away, the energy storm's chaotic rain catching them unawares in the open; others retreated to the trees, but they offered little cover, and they soon ran. One knocked down the weakened bars of one of the prison cells and darted inside - the stone overhead protected it, sizzling and spitting, but trapped it with no escape.
Ayunaye's drienar, however, was not so lucky.
Raighn crashed to the ground as the rain-energy struck him; the little bird had been able to utter a single shriek before he was felled, rolling to the base of one of the trees before he stopped. There, breathing hard and rapidly, he was protected from the majority of the storm. However, what damage it had done was not readily noticeable... and had Ayunaye been there, she may have screamed with shared agony.
On and on the horrific rainfall went, before it finally began to recede. As the skies began to darken once more and the storm dissipated, a swath had been charred into the countryside, half-eaten trees and smoking terrain and melted bones all that was left of those things that had not found cover in time...
The light show was noticeable from miles away.
On a small ridge, a wolf paused in his limping gait; his white eyes fixed on it for a moment, ears pressed forward, one still caked in dried blood. He bore horns upon his head not unlike a Death wolf, but an odd blue and scarlet coloration - the one he traveled with was much the same. "Siri," he murmured. "Do you think that's...?"
@Nechesa here's your spot!