When Flemyng found himself at a newly opened cave entrance, he had smirked, seeing the opeing for what it was - an entrance to new discoveries. Ever since the crystalline zataro had reared it's ferocious head, the lacework puller had been more than curious where things would lead. He of course kept himself out of the battle, observing as a creature of the forest, looking for those that stood out. There were few of course, and he wondered if any of those would be the ones to traverse the path that led to his location now. He suspected there would be plenty of reoseans that followed the trail of clues here, but his timing was impeccable - whomever was next would be who he needed to be with.
A familar looking okapi puller was cautiously making his way down to the crevass, and he smirked. Of course it would be this one. Molotov hadn't done anything super remarkable in the time that Flemyng had witnessed, and he knew that only meant that they would encounter each other later - now seemed to be the time. Away from the tundras, and instead in a crystal filled land, Flemyng could only imagine what the other puller was thinking now, as he stepped out of his hiding spot to be fully in view of the angora coming around the bend.
The pain in his ears, a leftover gift from the blistering winds that plagued the tundras on Roenden's far reaches, had not yet gone away. Molotov jerked his head to the side in an attempt to shoo it away, and when that didn't work, he shook his entire head. It didn't help, just as it hadn't the previous twenty, thirty, sixty times he'd done it since the wind had faded-- by now, the only reward he'd gotten for his efforts was a throbbing pain where his spine met his skull. Nonetheless, it wouldn't stop him from doing it again, and again, in a vain attempt to ease away the throbbing eardrums. Cold wind and Molotov's ears had never gotten along; the cemetery, shielded on all sides by thick trees, guarded him from the worst of it. He should've covered them, stuffed cotton down them... something.
Vitalus' warmth was a welcome betrayal, even if summer's heat wouldn't suit him-- and he'd hoped the moisture in the air would help sooth his current dilemma. Maybe it still would.
The ground grew rocky as he approached his destination; the edge of a mountain, crudely drawn on his map by a blacksmith who'd been here before and knew the way. He squinted upward, blinded by the Silver Province's sun-drenched crown. Vitalus' defining feature, the Silver Province, reflected the sun's light in a thousand directions, casting the main portion of the continent into light brighter than any other had ever seen. Mol's eyes dropped back down, grateful for the shadows that the mountain provided, for the dark greys and greens. Paws aching for rest milled over the path, until at last the cavern's now infamous opening - and a familiar face - came into view.
A sigh escaped him at the sight, and he shook his head again, legs eating up the remaining distance. The puller's sides drew his eye as they always did, red dragon dancing its way across them in an angry slash. Scarlet eyes met his black ones, unease etching lines on Molotov's face. Another ear twitch, begging for release. He forced himself to still.
"Flemyng." he rasped, voice hoarse from misuse. He didn't speak much during the waking hours. "We meet once more."
The sigh from his companion didn't escape notice, but it was to be expected. Molotov seemed a very solidary sort, no matter if Flemyng was familiar or not, he desperatly seemed to prefer the company of those during his nightly dreams. It didn't help that the other male often seemed to think the dragon marked puller was delusional to some extent, but kept the majority of his thoughts to himself - after all, there was no way that all others believed him to speak to the dead - so they were at an impasse.
"Molotov. It seems coincidences smile upon us once more." He tilted his head to the crevice, gesturing too with a paw. "Shall we? I'm sure you'll feel better in the stiller air."
A smirk graced his features, and he headed in without waiting for his companion, knowing that if the male had come all this way, he wasn't going to stop now. Indeed, Flemyng could almost hear another sigh behind him, the black and orange male clearly taking the shelter the rock provided for his discomfort, even if he did have to put up with the more outgoing vayron.
Without the sun, the tunnels beneath sight of the sun were far cooler than outside, but for the two males that oft called Roenden home, it was still warm, pleasantly so, and damp as well - nothing terribly unfamiliar. In fact, it felt almost like a mild summer day in the land they had left.
Out of a desire not to drive his companion completely insane, Flemyng kept conversation to a minimum, only making small comments on things from time to time, such as the crystal formations existing even down here, how some seemed to differ from those seen before, or how the tunnels as they grew deeper would twist and turn, splitting at odd junctions, and eventually widen as more ledges and various places to walk could be seen if only the wingless reoseans could fly.
It was easy to lose track of time without the guiding cycles of the heavens above, and while they rested and ate rations when their bodies called for it, there was no real way to say how long they had been down in the expanse of the underground.
The lacemarked male coudl feelt a smirk gracing his features when they encountered the first intelligant species in some time.
"Well now, it seems things hidden in the shadows of kigdoms have begun to come to light." His voice held hints of trepidation as he whispered, looking to his companion to see how he reacted to such a monumental change to history.
Molotov wouldn't call their happenstance second meeting a 'smiling' coincidence, but he knew well and better not to try arguing with the shorter Reosean. The two didn't exactly see eye to eye on one another's positions, and Mol had long accepted that it was easier to merely leave well enough alone. Flemyng's motioning to the cave's entrance was indeed met with another sigh -- they'd both been tasked, and there was but one cave; there was little choice other than working with one another. Perhaps with the two of them paired, this uncovering of secrets would go more quickly. One can hope. Mol wished little more than to be back in his graveyard where the air was still and silent.
He was glad that Flemyng didn't attempt conversation as they made their way through the tunnels; the puller's few comments required little effort to acknowledge, a nod, perhaps a grunt. His own voice grated on his ears, and he was glad for the excuse not to use it. Eventually, they walked in silence uninterrupted save for the drip of water on stone, or the scurry of small paws. Rats, likely. What else could survive in these depths, where the sun hadn't laid its eyes in a millennium? He shook his head periodically, though the throbbing eased with each step, lulled by the heavy, stagnant air.
The quiet was broken by steps, and Molotov stilled, glancing at his companion to gauge whether he'd also heard. Heavy pads on the stone, vastly different than the small paws of a rodent. He cocked his head, ears straining in the darkness, blown pupils doing nothing for him in this darkness. A few turns back the tunnels had still been laden with crystals that glowed and provided them light enough to see, but since then they had faded. It felt ominous, their lack here-- like they dared not venture to this portion of the labyrinth.
A sudden crackle of fire made him flinch, followed by a blinding flash. He hissed, eyes squeezed shut, seeking refuge in the cool stone. It took precious seconds for his vision to adjust, and when it did, the source of the light emerged. His eyes widened as a figure stepped forward, long-toed feet coming into view. He slowly raised his gaze, tracking the creature's form with growing awe. A sleek body, perfect for navigating the narrowest of tunnels; slender limbs, a sinuous neck that seemed to stretch indefinitely. A face mirroring his own.
Molotov heard the creature speak, Flemyng's reply a mere blur. His own gaze darted across the cavern, searching for more of these beings. There were none, at least not yet. None, at least in the near vicinity. "What is this?" he interrupted, the pain in his ear reduced to a dull pulse. "What are you?" His question hung heavy in the air, a demand for answers in this unsettling new chapter of their journey.
They called themselves haedians, and they seemed to be the missing link between tyrians and vayrons, long forgotten and having lived underground for as long as anyone could remember. The stranger introduced himself as Cailu, and was hesitant to answer too many questions. Apparently they would have to earn the trust of those down here to move forward, as getting answers was a task not easily done. Of course, the mysteries on the surface would naturally be a hard journey, for if they were easily solved, one would suspect they would be fixed already.
Flemyng had an itch in the back of his brain, something reminding him of a time when haedians weren't some forgotten memory, but it was repressed, an age old time that was neither here nor there, so he ignored it for now, suspecting that wherever their path may lead, it would have answers for him as well, unlockin his own memories as they found keys throughout the tunnels.
The pair were introduced to the concept of the clans, and Cailu served as a sort of guide, showing them the way but otherwise not interfering - the vayrons would have to gain the trust of others on their own after all.
Unsure if their location was intended to be closest to the surface, or if the crack in the earth was just coincidence to be nearest, the first clan the males met with were called The Forgotten. Misfits, all of them, banished from the other clans for various reasons, although none were too willing to share why. A glowing eyed female led them, who went by the name of Troall, and her gaze was watchful and curious of the outsiders.
Poverty was something the clan was quite familiar with. They played planks and did many things with a light heart to keep the mood upbeat, all while sneaking and stealing to survive. Their caves were barren, crystal clusters being bout the only adornment in the stone, and their platforms were mismatched architechture, showing variances in building materials that indicated that the inhabitants took what they could where they could. While they had no further information, bits of each clan could be represented in the colors and structure of things used to assemble their homes, and anyone who spent enough time among the other clans could likely pin point where certain materials had originated from. The haedians here weren't picky, as they ate what they could, either some fruit grown in another clan, or a skinny cave lizard someone had managed to catch - all was fair game.
"Well, we seem to be at a crossroads. Trust won't come easy. What say you? Have your spirits given you any advice in your sleep?"
The lacemarked male was more than content letting the other male take the lead, encouraging it even, letting him make his own mark upon the clans. The okapi puller had a unique power, one that might give him more insight than any others who came down here may glean. It was a talent Flemyng was keen to hone while he spent his own time in the recesses of memory lost to the ages.
The air in the cavern was thick with anticipation, every nerve in the angora's body tingling with the weight of the unknown. Flemyng's prior words echoed in his mind as they stood at the precipice of a world unseen, the very thought of their purpose here sending shivers down his spine. "...it seems things hidden in the shadows of kigdoms have begun to come to light." Haedians, forgotten beings of an ancient time, now reawakened in the deepest bowels of Vitalus. He could barely fathom-- had the Elder known of them? Surely; there didn't seem to be much that he didn't know of. Molotov's dreams had whispered of these creatures, mentions from old spirits of lost family, a lost society. He hadn't had context to connect the pieces before.
Their existence was a puzzle waiting to be solved... but now, faced with their reality, he couldn't help but feel a twinge of unease.
Cailu's presence loomed before them, a silent sentinel guiding them deeper into the unknown, through throngs of Forgotten members. Her hesitation spoke volumes, a silent warning of the challenges that lay ahead. Trust wouldn't come easy, not in a place where secrets lingered in the shadows like specters of the past. And yet, they had come this far, drawn by a curiosity that burned brighter than any fear.
The Forgotten awaited them, a clan of misfits banished from the light of the other clans. Poverty clung to them like a second skin, their homes a patchwork of mismatched architecture and barren caves. Troall, with her watchful gaze and glowing eyes, led them with a silent determination born of necessity. They survived by any means necessary, scavenging and stealing to eke out an existence in the unforgiving depths; they carved out their place in this society by sheer force of will - and probably more than a little bit of spite.
As they followed Cailu through the winding tunnels, Molotov couldn't help but feel a sense of urgency gnawing at the edges of his consciousness. They needed their trust, their cooperation, if they were to uncover the truths hidden in these ancient caverns. But how to gain it? The answer eluded him, slipping through his paws like grains of sand.
Flemyng's voice broke through his thoughts, his words a reminder of the power that lay dormant within him. His dreams held secrets untold, a well of knowledge waiting to be tapped. Perhaps there lay their path forward, in the whispers of the past that danced on the edge of Molotov's consciousness. "I've heard... mentions of things I couldn't explain-- until now." he replied, eyeing his companion carefully. "Nothing useful though, I fear. Nothing about specific clans; the spirits I've spoken with who knew of these creatures would have died long before the clans themselves formed."
But first, they had to earn their trust. As undignified as it was, Cailu's advice came back to him, something the female had mentioned earlier about the clan quite favoring play, indulging in pranks and well intended thievery-- "What better way to show than to join in their games, to show them that they we're not just outsiders, but allies in their struggle?" A mischievous smile tugged at the corners of Molotov's lips as an idea began to form in his mind. Playing pranks on a neighboring clan, a harmless jest to lighten the spirits of the Forgotten and prove their worth.
With a nod to Flemyng, Molotov stepped forward, determination burning bright in his eyes. "Let us show them that we are not just strangers passing through, meaningless in the span of their lives" he said, his voice lighter, a path forward uncovered as Troall stopped before them, turning, The Forgotten gathered around.