Marzena disliked the sensation of passing through the Rift. She had a scowl on her face when she watched the mages and knights go, dreading her time to go.
The Rift was weird, and scared the shit out of her. The place itself was heavy with magic, and so eerily silent that it gave her goosebumps. If it was for Marzena, she wouldn't be here. Yet, she was because of something that weared her out much more than the Rift: Mishal and Cassius.
Of course Mishal wanted to go into the Rift again, no matter the actual reason that the Mages and Knights were organizing a search party. He kept insisting that the Rift was interesting, and there was so much more that they needed to explore. Wouldn’t it be interesting?
For her? No. Not interesting at all. Marzena just wanted a quiet life. But Cassius just had to be a naive creature who listened to all of Mishal's crazy ideias, and she had to care about them both, enough to go with them and make sure nothing bad happened. The horror.
At least the Rift wasn't as bad as having to deal with Mishal. With that in mind, Marzena quickly followed the mages, making a scowl as she entered the Rift.
Seconds later, she was greeted by its deserted, and the blue vespire overly excited face.
“Ahh, it's nice to come here again, right?”
Of course, Cassius was the first to answer:
“Yeah!! This place is cool!”
And as usual, Marzena was the one who would ruin their fun:
“No. I don’t know why you would even consider coming back here again.”
“Aw, c’mon, Marzie, it’s gonna be fun. Who knows what lays out there for us to discover?”
“Yeah!! Adventure! Discover new things!” In other circumstances, Marzena would find Cassius' excitement adorable. Right now, she only grimaces.
“You are a terrible influence on this boy, Mishal.”
He actually acts surprised. And offended. Marzena laughs.
“How dare you! I’m a great influence.”
Cassius is quickly sent to go bother the mages.
"Nope." Marzena continues. "You're terrible. I dread the day you ever become a father." Oh no. Imagine many insufferable kids like Mishal.
"Excuse me" he says indignantly. "For your information, I am already a great father." Knowing him, he was likely bluffing.
"You? With a kid? Pfft. Who was crazy enough to do geode magic with you?"
"He's adopted, actually. And a great kid, you'd love him."
"What... No, I can't believe it. I doubt anyone would you let you adopt a geode.'"
"I found him, it's true! You'll see, once we're out of here I'll take you to meet my boy."
Marzena rolls her eyes. Highly possible that the vespire was just messing with her, nothing more. He grinned at her, and whatever they were gonna say, was immediately interrupted by the actual creatures that knew what they were doing.
"We ask that everyone, please stay close to each other." She heard Klondike say. "Do not wander alone, even if you see Axel or Avalon around, okay?"
Caramel almost did not hear those words. She had her mind away, and the head pointed upwards, observing the unnatural nature of the sky. The hues, flickering, meshing together, with barely a hint of a world: a tree, a cloudy sky, a landscape that’s never seen before. It was hypnotizing. Something she could look for hours and hours, and maybe even try to find Bellacoste’s sky among them.
She, of course, did not bend to this strange whim, and instead listened to Klondike’s instructions, focusing her green eyes at the other members of their search party. Mishal, Marzena and Cassius she recognized, a Vespire with feathered wings for his ears, and another red vespire, which she kinda recognized from the fight back in Chrysanthos, but didn’t quite remember her name. Apparently, capable people, despite some not having titles or anything. Caramel didn’t want to doubt.
She and the others began their search, then. Caramel and Rose walk together, in reverent silence. It’s such a weird feeling to come back here again, without the threat of a corrupted leviathan looming on them. Just like it was then, there is a heavy air around, a stench of unknown magic. It feels hard to move, every poove, every claw landing with reasonably more strain than the other before.
It 's weird. Caramel doesn’t know what to make of it, and neither does Rose, Reina, Klondike, Aoife or Amy.
They don’t talk in the way. Silence creeps up at the group as they walk, passing through countless swords, remnants of a war long since fought. The landscape stays mostly the same: blindly colorful sky, swords, and sand stretching to the horizon, almost never ending. They walk, walk and walk, but after what seems like hours, nothing of notice can be found. No trace of life, of Axel, Avalon, or anyone else. Nothing lived here.
Yet… Caramel still felt uneasy the whole time. It was such a strange feeling, unexplainable. She felt watched. She felt like danger lurked somewhere. She felt nervous. Overwhelmed, all at the same time.
Maybe the silence was getting to her.
“I think we have a problem.” Reina mutters to the others, after most of the group have fallen asleep. All that remains now is the knights and mages.
Upon her eerie announcement, ears perk up.
“What’s wrong, Reina?” It is Amy who asks first.
“I can’t seem to find the way back.” She declares. For a few seconds, there is dumbfounded silence among the group. Caramel and Rose themselves, feel the fear creeping up on them. Just… What?
“What do you mean you can’t find the way back?” Rose asks hurriedly.
“Exactly that. I can’t find the way back. I was about to suggest we leave, maybe make a report and come back, but…. I just can’t find the exit anymore. Can any of you?”
“Uh, hold on.” Says Klondike, followed by Caramel herself and Aoife also go on to check. Klondike talks first: “I… Can’t find it either.”
Caramel feels a prickling at her skin, belonging from Aoife magic. It makes a bit hard for her to concentrate, but she manages it all the same. One by one, the mages and knights declare that the exit cannot be found again. It was like there was never an exit to begin with.
“I don’t get it.” Rose says. “Me and Caramel were able to leave before with no issues. What’s wrong now?”
“I’m not sure, but…” Aoife starts, her rattle tail twitching. “It’s not there anymore. It’s like something, or someone, just closed it…”
Rose makes an intelligible noise. No one could understand why that happened.
“Can it be opened again?”
No answer. The truth was that the mages weren’t sure. They could try, maybe, but the Rift was a curious and unknown place. All of them must’ve noticed how magic didn’t work quite like the usual here. Its nature was distorted, nothing like they ever studied before. They needed time to understand the place, its magic, and see about getting an exit to go back home.
“Well, what do we do now?” Amy asks, her voice being a salvation to the stormy minds of the mages. “We’ll continue searching?”
“Sure.” Reina answers. “You mages can investigate this in the meantime.”
The issue of telling the others isn’t addressed.