☘ Helixagonal ☘ (#179815)
View Forum Posts
User & ID: morii #212942
Written by the traveler host
(mild throw-up warning!!)
Adventure: Mazzikim followed the raven as they went together, taking in as many sights as she could. Although she was doubtful as to why it would choose to take her through a desert, she went along with it, seeing-not literally, of course-as she didn't exactly have any other options. A sandstorm seemed to be sweeping the desert horizons, but her trip through the sandy wasteland was mostly undisturbed; just her, the blistering sun and golden sands, and her seeing-eye raven companion. It only took her a few days of walking, but she eventually saw a telltale smudge of green in the distance. As she got closer, the sandstorm seemed to close in, but it seemed to stay far enough away that she was unbothered by it.
But as she took that first step onto the much cooler, softer ground shaded by overgrown leaves, a sharp shock of pain shot up her leg. Hissing, Mazzikim jumped back, the raven fluttering around her, perhaps startled by her sudden movements.
Her whole leg felt like it was burning, especially in her paw pad, which had made direct contact with the ground. Had she stepped on something? No, that wouldn't make any sense, because she hadn't felt anything really touch her. Scowling, she brought her paw up to lick the tender pad, but as her tongue came into contact, she felt a sharp zing go through her, making her tingle with the electricity of magic. Gasping, she stumbled back, the raven's caws echoing in her ears.
She felt bile rising up in her throat, an effect of water magic this place was soaked in. She didn't understand why it was reacting so harshly with her, shouldn't' her protection charm have helped her?
But no, the charm was seemingly rendered as she fought to keep herself from emptying her guts right then and there. She felt, rather than heard, a voice calling out to her, and saw a small brown figure, too slim to be a lion, even one of those dwarves she'd heard about.
Stumbling towards the creature, it led her away from the treacherous magic field and to a small cluster of rocks, where she collapsed on the cool, dank stone floor, panting breathlessly. She lay there for a while, sensing the small presence around her but not seeming to say anything more.
After a while, as Mazzikim felt the air cooling around her, she slowly heaved herself up into a sitting position, the top of her head grazing the ceiling of the small cave. Through the raven's gaze, she saw a thin, brown wolf staring at her from the other side, a small gap between them, but, small as it was, in her weakened state, the wolf was safe. She swiped her tongue around her jaws, cringing at how...aware she felt. Not aware in an awareness of danger sort of way but, she was consciously aware of every single surface touching her, something that usually didn't happen. She could almost feel each string of fur touching one another and the stone. She felt so hyperaware that it almost hurt, and she was tempted to lay back down and sleep it off.
Thankfully, the magic didn't seem to affect her vision through the raven the same way, for, thankfully, she didn't seem to be able to see every detail on the wolf's face, unlike how she felt everything and heard with painful clarity each breath, each slight rustle of movement, as well as how she could smell almost everything that had passed through this area recently on top of the dry, stale air.
She was just about to snap at it to go away, stop that awful breathing noise when he spoke, thankfully not in her mind again.
"Hello there, Traveler Mazzikim of the Rustlebrush pride. Or, as the lions of these lands greet one another, axcazi. You're quite lucky I found you, you know. Had my companion not been in the area, you surely would've died there. The magic of the Oasis is not kind to trespassers. While they are more than welcoming to outsiders, travelers are only allowed to get close with permission granted from any of the pride members. The sandstorm is to prevent outsiders from getting too close so that the pride may find them and take them home without fear of danger, as those with impure intentions will be unable to survive the sandstorm. Thankfully, most lions will simply pass out in the sandstorm, to be found asleep in the sand by the pride," the wolf explained, his dark eyes glowing dimly in the gloom, which was heightened by how night had fallen outside.
Mazzikim stared at him, trying to concentrate over the pain-but-not-pain sensation she was feeling. She would think she was dreaming if not for how vivid her surroundings were. But certainly, the talking wolf did not help matters.
"Who are you?" she rasped lowly, almost rudely, but she didn't want to focus on that. Polite or not, she really just wanted answers.
"Ah, yes of course. I am Milo. I may not look it but I am a member of the Pride of Burning Sands. We live in the Oasis where you nearly collapsed. My adopted mother is a traveler much like yourself. Perhaps she has visited your pride at some point. She adopted me on the night her eldest daughter, my sister, was born, so we grew up together."
"W-what? How did lions adopt a wolf? And how do you know all of this about me?"
The wolf, Milo, shook his head. "My story is not important. But you come seeking answers. The raven and I have spoken while you rested. You are seeking answers about magic, and I may be able to help you, if only slightly."
Mazzikim stared hard at him. She felt a small stab of betrayal, and her ears twitched slightly. She couldn't even think of any specific questions, so sensitive did she currently feel.
After a few moments, Milo seemed to catch on. "Oh, pardon me, Traveler. The magic must have shocked you. It exists as a last-ditch effort, if you will, to keep intruders out. But here, I hope this helps."
As if he'd summoned it out of nowhere, she felt a shawl draping itself around her shoulders. She flinched away slightly, not wanting even more things touching her, but to her surprise, the dark fabric only filled her with a calming warmth. She noticed a shallow, smooth bowl of stone by her paw, when she was certain it hadn't been there before. Lowering herself into a more comfortable position, Mazzikim lapped at the thick liquid it held, cuddling into the fabric. The thick, translucent blue liquid had a dim glow, and as she sipped it down, it slid warmly down her throat and had a sweet taste, but she picked up a slight hint of something minty.
Feeling much more energized, Mazzikim looked up, now feeling more comfortable and relaxed. Milo had watched her intently, sitting straight and waiting for her to finish. Only when she had looked up again, her pained expression gone, did he speak. "Very well then. Now that you're feeling better, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer."
The lioness considered her words carefully. There was much she wanted to know, many answers she'd traveled in search of. Hell, there were probably questions she wanted answers for that she didn't even know she had. But, maybe it would be better to start small and test Milo's knowledge.
"Well, ah, when I was younger," she started off a bit hesitantly, feeling a small prickle of self-consciousness which she did her best to ignore. "When I was younger, the first thing I saw was a solar eclipse. I can't see without this raven's help. Ever since that solar eclipse though, wherever I go, strange things seem to happen around me. That solar eclipse definitely wasn't a coincidence, as it happened almost right when I looked up at the sun for the first time."
Milo seemed to grow more intent as she spoke, leaning forward in earnest. "While neither my sister nor I were yet born to witness that event, as it was a good few years before our time, we have heard about it from the elders. They say that the Keeper of Light, who is supposed to be the sun, was fighting to protect us from the Decay. The Decay is an ancient being, older than the stars, who exists to spread their darkness against the light. Apparently, they attacked the Keeper of Light on that day and overcame her for just a moment before she fought back and fought them off. But," he was speaking so fast and eagerly Mazzikim could almost not understand him, "they say that, in that brief moment of the Decay's darkness, a lot of dark, ancient magic seeped into the world. It also apparently allowed those demons that had been wreaking havoc on the land to escape and also caused those dreadful locust plagues. "
Mazzikim tilted her head slightly, considering. So many names, and, she had never even heard of this 'Decay.' As if reading her thoughts-or, more likely, realizing she didn't know the pride tales-he continued speaking.
"The Decay, also known as the Keeper of Decay and the Blinded One, is an ancient being. Well, they're more like all the darkness in the world rather than a proper being. They are the anti-light if you will. Light exists in all creatures, from the tiniest beetle larvae to the largest elephant. But the darkness despises this light, and so it seeks to eliminate this light so that it may spread where it pleases. So, it follows around every creature, waiting for its moment to leech the life away. That is why we have our shadows. As the elders say, 'you must always be wary of the shadows.' So it will be and so it has been.
While the Keeper of Light-you know her as the sun, perhaps-and the Keeper of Dark-her, the moon-work in harmony to outshine the darkness and keep it at bay, the decay can sneak up and overtake the light even if just a little bit. Such was the case on that day. "
"Wait, so this dark magic is just...floating around out there?" The death part didn't really bother her. Everyone died, she knew, and she knew it followed around most everyone. Granted, she hadn't understood that it followed around everyone in a more literal sense, but even so, it was still the same to her.
"Yes. it gathers in shadows and is most dangerous when the darkness is at its peak when it is the Keeper of Dark's turn to rise in the sky. Do not worry though, we are in close enough proximity to the magic of the Oasis that we shall be safe from the night terrors that lurk."
Milo peered over her, eyeing the raven curiously as if he was listening. "Perhaps, when that darkness seeped out into the mortal realm, it affected you. But, at such a young age, it surely would've killed you. So, maybe, your raven friend here protected you. But that is what confuses me, you see, for I do not sense particularly strong light. While all creatures have light, it is the stronger creatures who have more light, and in order to protect you from the Decay's direct effects, one would a particularly strong light, much stronger than this bird's own. However, I do sense a good degree of an ancient magic, one we call grey magic. Grey magic used to be more common, but it was light magic that became more common over time. Furthermore, when the raven protected you, its grey magic did not shield you as fully as a being of light magic that strong would. So that could explain these oddities that happen in your presence. The black magic of the Decay touched you only slightly, not enough to harm you but enough to cause strange things in your presence."
Mazzikim felt her raven's talons on her head, and while she had some questions answered, especially about that solar eclipse, she didn't remember feeling any different afterward. Curious and excited, maybe not as if she'd been touched by some strange, new magic. However, the more she thought about this light magic, the more it sounded like the whispers she'd taken to learning about. While this whole 'Decay' thing sounded rather false, perhaps there was an element of truth, as Milo had said, to the light within creatures. Certainly, it seemed more than a coincidence to be so close to the way of whispers.
"So, this light within all of us, can it be seen or absorbed by anyone?" If she could learn more about this light magic, then perhaps she could understand more about whispers.
"Perhaps, but I do not know of anyone who has been able to see the light. However, certain beings can absorb light. There are only a select few that we know of, more or less forgotten to history. But when one absorbs the light of another, they gain that creature's knowledge, and it makes them stronger."
Mazzikim's ears flicked in interest. Perhaps this pride simply called the whispers by a different name or saw them differently. Why they would, she didn't know, but they didn't seem to know of Apedemak or Apollyon or any of the other gods that were commonly heard of elsewhere. Perhaps it was because of the isolation. "Milo, have you ever heard of whispers?"
Milo titled his head. "Mmmhm, no, I can't say I have. Are these 'whispers' something you seek?"
Mazzikim scrunched her nose slightly. "I suppose you might say that. But I was wondering, just because your stories of light sound awfully similar to these whispers I've heard tell of."
A curious, eager expression flitted across the wolf's small face. "Really? That's peculiar. Now, I would like to take you to meet our king, who can likely help you out with some questions, but, ah, he is currently...unavailable. We're actually trying to limit our interaction with outsiders right now, so technically, I shouldn't let you into the Oasis, but I'd like to show you something."
Without warning, Milo stood up, leading out into the chilled air of the desert night. Mazzikim followed hesitantly, the raven letting out a small caw atop her head as she did her best to keep the warm, soothing black fabric wrapped around her. The pair headed back to the Oasis, and Mazikim felt a prickle of dread. Now that she knew why it didn't seem to want her within, she was a little bit afraid. What if she got hurt even worse this time-or, even worse to think about it, the raven itself was injured? But Milo didn't seem to have any of the same worries as he led her through the overgrown, dark shrubbery. Once they were within the Oasis, she was surprised at how well lit-up it was. Woven balls glowed with a steady and warm glow, hanging from the trees. Flowery shrubs lined the well-trodden path she realized they were on, and she could hear water as loud as if it was beside her. Between this, the heady aroma of various flowers, and the bright lights, she felt uneasy, fearing that they may be seen, but they eventually seemed to reach the place Milo wanted to show her.
They stood before a large, calm, clear pool of water, reflecting the dark sky above it as crisply as if she were actually looking up. Even when Milo touched a paw to the water, its surface did not even break for the tiniest ripple. Mazzikim almost wished she could see it with her own eyes, but through the raven's was at least good enough to witness the breathtaking sight. She could almost see down into its depths, but it seemed to be too deep as the water was too dark.
"Welcome, Traveler Mazzikim, to the Starfall Springs Oasis. I'm sure you can guess how it gets its name."
Just then, the large pool started to glow, deep within its depths. But the glow heightened until each droplet seemed alit with light. She could almost feel whispers dancing around her, and when she stepped forward, she felt the light washing over her, filling her with the same warmth that the fabric she had draped over her shoulders had filled her with. Turning over to Milo, she saw that, to her surprise, he was no longer there. Confused, she whirled around, and, just like that, the warmth of the whisper-light left her. Circling around anxiously, she was now in a dark wood, looking and smelling completely different from the Oasis where she'd just been. She called out for Milo desperately, but to her surprise, it was not the small wolf who answered her but her raven's caw, dragging her back to the lush Oasis.
The wolf peered at her, clear concern etched across his face. "Are you alright? You must be careful, the Wisps do not take kindly to outsiders. It is their Will that we remain isolated, even now more than ever, especially after the recent horrors of the apocalypse and the demons, those foul Corruptions, that roamed over the lands."
While she now knew for sure that even this pride knew of the whispers, if by a different name, she felt shaky and scared. "What was that?" she breathed, the warmth of the fabric started to leech into her once more as if trying to calm her down.
"The Wisps took you to a land that had succumbed to the Decay, I presume. It was dark and lifeless, yes? That is what happens in the absence of light. That is why the Wisps watch over this place, and their Will follows that of the Star-Setter. They may have been trying to warn you, or threaten you, more likely. Even though I have granted you access here, you are still not wanted by the Wisps."
His brow furrowed, his tan fur looking almost golden under the light of the orbs hanging from the trees. Mazzikim would have liked to ask him about them, but just then, his ears pricked up, eyes widened. "They have followed you! Run!" he snapped, darting away through the trees. She followed clumsily, thankful that she had her raven's sight to help her more or less avoid tripping over the overgrown path they now raced down. It wasn't long before she managed to pass him, and although the wolf did his best to keep up, he was still barely up with the tip of her tail.
The raven briefly turned its head to see what could possibly be pursuing them that gave Milo that much urgency. While she did thankfully not trip, all they could see was Milo's frantic face. She didn't think that a pride member would cause that much panic, even if she was unwelcome, but she was still confused as to what could possibly be happening.
Only when lush flora gave way to bleak desert did the tiny brown wolf skid to a stop, his flanks heaving, desperate for air. The two panted breathlessly, the dark night sky starting to fade at the coming of dawn, several long paces away from the outskirts of the Oasis.
Finally, Milo looked up at her, dark eyes full of worry. "You must leave this place, and make desperate haste. They have followed you here. During the recent apocalyptic times, did you ever see a horse of the apocalypse? Death, war, famine, or even pestilence?" At her nod, he shook his head. "Those creatures are created from the Decay, and live an undead life to spread it through the living realm. Seeing one is a sure sign of your own impending doom."
"But, I saw the horse of famine, and the king of another pride 'cured' me of the curse," Mazzikim interrupted, tail-tip twitching in response from the pure anxiety sparking off the tiny creature-well, tiny compared to a fully grown lioness such as herself.
"That may be so, but that does not mean that the Decay itself has not followed you. You are likely interesting to it, with your obsession with magic. The Corruption has followed you. That must explain why the Wisps were angry with your presence. "
Milo led the way forward through the desert, and she could feel a hint of the wind of the supposed sandstorm that lurked on the horizon. She followed him, feeling rather absurd; all this talk of light, dark, and grey magic, as well as this odd Decay, she honestly felt like it was some odd dream. Or perhaps a tale told to cubs of the pride that supposedlylived in that oasis. While Milo did smell strongly of lion, she hadn't caught whiff of anything in the jungle.
By the time the sun has peaking over the horizon, they had reached the outskirts of the desert, with rocky bluffs looming up over the more firm dirt which sprouted short scrub and twisted, tangled brush. It was here that Milo slowed his brisk pace over the sand.
"You must leave here. I believe we have lost what was following you." He looked back out across the desert behind them, and, before he turned to go, stopped to face her.
"Keep the cloak. It is imbued with healing magic, and while it has done its job well, it seems to have shieleded you from the darkness around." The wolf of few words brushed past her, sloping off into the desert and leaving many more questions unanswered.
Scowling, Mazzikim huffed. "It's just us once more, hm?" Shaking her head, she set off under the rising sun. While she'd certainly learned much over the course of the night and had quite a few questions answered, that was still the strangest encounter she'd ever had. There was supposedly an entire pride of lions within that jungle, and yet, she had not meet a single lion.
Huffing, she quickened her pace, keeping up with her avian friend who was now flying alongside her. It was time to move on.