13 Red Twilight Worldwalkers chapter 13
Eclipse: Phase 1
When the portal closes taking the party to Saverngaurd it is clear which of them are experienced Worldwalkers and which are not. Keyor is the one to open the portal this time, with her steering the mana takes the form of oceanic waves, the experienced travelers land gracefully; Keyor, and Cinder. the others not so gracefully as they don't so much land as fall out of the mater stream gasping and chocking.
Looking about the area that they have landed in look developed, in a sort of early iron age sort of way, simple brickwork buildings, cobbled limestone roads, and tools of wood and cold iron propped up on the road. The air is freezing but it seems as if the planshifters can't feel the cold.
Music fill the air and there seems to be a crowed gathering only a short jog up the road. The music is something of a age that is not becoming of the astatic of the time. It sounds like folk metal, heavy punding drums, dueling garters, power metal undertones, fast tempo, and a vocalist that clearly has opera training, chanting and grunting from the crowd roars as they sing along.
"close your eye's
The night is coming.
The air is cold
But warm as safe you will be
With me by your side…"
The party approaches the music to find an ampadrome, a shell shaped construct desgined to catch sound and redirect it. On stage stands four goblins, Halfling sized demi-humans with gray green skin, sharp ears and long noises, the ones on stage all possessing feminine traits, and one elf towering over them, he has a felcon like eye shape and shining golden hair spike out and waving forward like a lion's maim, he has sharp teeth and glittering skin. At least a hundred more goblins stand in the crowd around them, this gathering is somewhere in-between a concert and some sort of worship, the elf being revered like divinity. The artist is smooth, sophisticated and sensual in the way he moves on stage.
Lances grunts uncomfortable as he listens to the music, Charlie seems much more entertained. Hetetsubatchi looks to Keyor. "I might be mistaking but these don't look like wolves to me."
Cinder points to the elf singer "he is."
At the end of the set the elf throws out his arms and soaks up the devotion of the crowd allowing the goblins too bask in his glory. Keyor looks disappointed "Redcap."
Cinder adds on "that's not the name I know him by."
Milli ask "what do you know him as?"
Cinder replies "Loki."
Milli looks confused "Like; half god, half giant, shapeshifting, hermaphroditic, lord of dance, and destruction."
Keyor repeat what the others already pointed out "Worldwalkers are often mistaken for gods. Redcap is just playing along."
Lances leans into Keyor "Friend of yours? Should we go interduce ourselves."
Keyor turns to face away from the lot of them, "Not if you know what is good for you." Keyor seems to start sniffing at the air around them, looking from something "Redcap is kind, so long as he thinks he can gain something from it, he is also a mind bender, if oyu make eye contact with him be aware of your thought and be prepared to protect them, he will try to steel your memories or give you fake ones if you let him."
Hetatsubatchi looks up at the strange acting Keyor "pardon, but what are you doing?"
"looking for salt water. I'm a conjurer by trade, I'm at my best when half submerged in sea water. I was hopping to see if the beast of this plaint could be of aid to us." Keyor points "this way." She freezes "well carp." She finds that when she rased her hand to point Redcap seems to have moved in beside them, his back leaned against a wall the caller of his coat flicked upwards. The Elf noticing, he is being beckoned forward by Keyor smiles showing of his fangs as he moves in, a regal sway to his step.
"Hello Arial, I see you have surrounded yourself with beautiful people as always…" Redcap glances at Charlie then back to Keyor "…some exceptions may apply."
Keyor lowers her head struggling not to make eye contact with Redcap "I left the name Arial behind, It's Keyor now."
Redcap slides a hand under Keyor's head and turns her to face him "why so cold my love? We have no bad blood between us."
"let us be on our way Redcap, he have work to do." Keyor complains
"I'm no longer Redcap, I go by Loki these days." Redcap tease. Redcap brings his hand to Keyor's shoulder starting to pull her towards himself. Charlie interrupts placing a hand on Redcap's shoulder and shoving him back.
"Lady said she has places to be." Charlie orders.
Loki chuckles at the insubordinates. A crowd of angry goblins swarm around picking up any tool in sight to use as a weapon threatening those that would question the will of their lord and master. Jazzman is the first to pull his sword threatening Loki in return, Milli pulls out RONA crouching readying herself for battle. Charlie pushes back his jacket making Souleater visible. Lances and Cinder seem to remain calm. Tatsu lowers his head and his eyes burn bleeding flams in a flashlight like glow. Keyor backs away terrified by Loki's very presences
Loki holds his arms out to the sides holding his goblins back "there is no need for all this nastiness. I was just being hospitable."
Cinder walks to the head of the group "Loki. Why are you in Savergaurd?"
The party and the goblins remain at ready as Loki and Cinder talk "I was born her thank you very much." Loki makes eye contact with Cinder trying to enter her mind, doing so clearly making Loki uncomfortable.
"You have tried invading my mind before, you can't do it in case you have forgotten." Cinder moves in unsettlingly close to Loki
This time it is Redcap that brakes contact, dramatically he turns away from Cinder complaining "Do you want to know what your problem is Cinder…" the question is rhetorical "you are always running around, always walking from place to place but never stopping to take in the sights, taste the wine, enjoy good company. What is the point of traveling if you never get anywhere? Me on the other hand, I have arrived somewhere and on top of that I have become someone. Watch this." Loki waves a goblin over, the one that answers the call is a child with wild hair and bright eyes.
Loki continues as he waits for the goblin to move to the front of the group "These people, I love them, they ask me for so little and give so much in return. When I found, them they were on this slimy green mudball of a planet being hunted by iguanas the size of giraffes, I arrived half dead after an embarrassing misstep and they quite altruistically gave me food and water in exchange for a drinking song. I didn't even need my magic to draw them in, I could sing before I was able to polymorph."
The youngling goblin stands at Loki's hip looking up at him, Loki need not look down as he has his gaze fixated on the party "how my I serve you my lord?" the goblin asks
Loki smiles devilishly "allow me to demonstrate what one can do with only the slightest amount of understanding of who we are and what we can do." He turns his head down to the goblin offering it a carnal glair "what is my name?" he asks it.
"Loki lord and master of the night sky." It replies
Loki nods "good. Do you love me?" he asks
"Yes. Everyone loves you!" To answers
"would you like to take off your armor?" Loki suggest. Without hesitation, the goblin strips in front of Loki dropping its armor and clothing on the side of the frozen road, the goblin is young, a human might think in its early teens only begging to show its sexual characteristics, the goblin to any who wished to look is clearly feminine. Loki rolls his and over calling into his grip a knife made out of starlight sliver "now write my name across your chest." The Goblin takes the knife and places it to her chest ready to execute the order given.
Cinder and the other watch in horror as Loki demonstrates his cultist power over the goblin. Loki grabs the knife not letting the goblin carve its flesh knowing that he has made his point "what is your name child?" he asks the girlish goblin.
"Blanya." she tells Loki.
"good," the knife vanishes back into the darkness from which it came "you may join me at the mead hall at dusk." Loki slaps the goblin playfuly on the rump sending her on her way. He then looks back to the others "add on top of this sort of power wealth, fame, and sorcery and you could have anything you want. In short, Cinder you can bring the world to you if only you would let me teach you how."
Hetatsubatchi grins observing the young flesh before him "I think I like this guy." He growls.
Cinder offers a repulsed sneer "your feral side is showing wolf."
Loki scoffs "no it isn't! this is me at my most elegant."
Milli cracks her joints "so this is what a worldwalker looks like without a sense of humility?"
Loki rolls his eyes up Milli's body taking in her abnormal shape, his eyes and lips curl into a lustful sneer, his head cocks slightly as he slides over to the alien kangaroo. "and who might you be my lovlyness? I don't recall seeing thee alike of you around here."
Feeling Redcap reading her thoughts Milli tries to struggle, tries to fight, but her body will not respond. Loki places his hands at Milli's sides and feels down her stomach and hips getting a feeling for Milli's unusual shape, his hands brush across her pouch and her head tips back with a provocative grunt.
Hetatsubatchi growls, his eyes glow with green spectral light, his teeth unsheathe. "this is my pack and if you want in you'll be going through me."
Loki looks to Tatsu "hardly a challenge, I already know your shape and your needs, I could have you on your back asking for milk at any time."
Hetatsubatchi's head lowers and his tail lifts, his hair sticks up and a roaring sound echoes though his body "prove it." His voice is a eerily calm whisper next to his growl.
Charlie steps between them "Loki, how about we get some drinks." Charlie almost shouts as he tries to defuse the situation.
Loki distracted Milli regains control of her body, she lowers herself close to the ground to get eye to eye with Hetatsubachi, Milli whispers "thank you."
Tatsu lowers his voice "you can pay me back later."
Loki laughs "yes! A drink does sound good." He raises a hand overhead and a flash of light erupts form his breast. When the light reseeds the lot of them are inside one of the goblin buildings, a rowdy room filled with singing and dancing, the smell of cheap Tabaco and watered down ail, the stink of sex thick on the walls can be detected even without the enhances senses of a wolf. Loki waves about, "look about, see if there is anything here that meets your taste, the booze is cheap, the women are fair, and the food is served hot."
Tatsu spins around overwhelmed by the smells in the room. It takes him a hash moment to gain his balances. Keyor finds a set "I see you took after my sensitivities'"
Loki sits nearby "I know a good thing when I see it."
Charlie scoots in close huddling into an almost hug "Loki, I need something. You look like just the guy to help me find it."
"Flattery will get you far around here." Redcap flicks his hair back then rest his head on his arms "how my I serve you?"
"do you know anythinh about a Three-Headed-Goddess?" Charlie whispers
"Teimate comes to mind but she has nine head, Cerberus but he is male, I should know… maybe one of the Krishna?... but do you need the Three-headed-Goddess or something she has I wonder?"
"I need to know how to kill something that can't die." Charlie explains
Loki's eyes light up "then you are looking for Fate!"
Lances offers a suspicious glare "and you will happily take us to Fate?"
Redcap looks over to Hetatsubatchi, then between Cinder and Keyor as he thinks "for a small fee" he offers after a short time of thinking it over.
Cinder points out "our pockets are a touch on the light side."
Loki waves for a number of drinks to be set down "not to worry, what I need won't cost a single silver out of your pocket." He drinks his drink before continuing "my cousin Gideon is in the area, he is in debt to me, a little mater of inheritance that was never delivered. I want you to fallow me back to my old home and see if we can't convince my cousin to give me what he knows is mine."
Hetatsubatchi narrows his eyes and lowers his ears "I think I smell a rat."
Loki places his hands behind his head with a look of satisfaction "I would not doubt it, this side of town is thick with then."
The next few hours pass in a strange haze. Only brief glimpses seem to be fully formed in anyone's mind, much wine is drank, most of it by Loki, Cinder and Lances, Charlie refuses to drink as does Keyor, Hetatsubatchi is nowhere to be seen for most of the day. By the time the drunken mist is clear from everyone's eyes they are miles from camp, most of the party weighted down by bags full of camping gear. Loki has pushed Hetatsubatchi to the front of the group.
Tatsu shakes his head off as all at once his mind is clear, he looks around seeing that they are walking over a frozen ocean "Where in the Nine are we?"
Loki has changed into a coat of dove feathers, he yells over the wind "twenty something miles from Landen beach."
"how did we get here?" Milli yells up from the end of the group nearly lost under three survivor bags.
Redcap exsplains "We walked, we have been fallowing Hetatsubatchi this whole time."
Hetatsubatchi looks back tucking tail as he struggles to remember the last day "to where?"
Loki produces a perfume bottle from his cloak, he holds it down to Hetatsubatchi "to a person that smells like this."
Tatsu sniff the bottle, his ears jump up and his noise wiggles "that is not an over-the-counter fragrance?!" the smell is an exsilirating one, one to subsumed for any but a true wolf to smell, but to one that can smell it, it is intoxicating.
"Keep walking, we only have enough previsions to last us four days." Loki request.
Tatsu sniff the air then starts running, he howls easily outpacing anyone in the group "this way!"
David grunt "guess he has some idea where we are."
Lances tries to chase after Tatsu as do the others but in the end they can all only move as fast as the slowest of them. Lances pants as they run, he grabs Loki to talk as they move "what was in that bottle."
"Wolf blood, nothing more." Loki tells him.
The group runs as long as they can but truth be told neither Chalrie or Lances are in top physical shape anymore Charlie at the end of his forties and Lances well over that. Keyor only slightly stronger then them calls for the group to slow down. Tatsu it seems could run all day never slowing, as could Loki and David, Cinder cheats, she floats.
After some time, the group slows to a crawl, then has no choice but to set up camp for the day. Cinder flies off head to retrieve Hetatsubatchi.
The sun sets, the night grows load with cracking water and animals crying in the distances. Hetatsubatchi stands watch over the camp clearly aggravated as he stars off into the endless horizon. "It is at least 60 miles to the other shore. This walk is suicidal." He calls out to no one in particular.
Charlie sits with Redcap on one side of a magical fire Loki summons, the others sit across keeping a suspicious eye on their strange companion, David alone being the cool cat to throw down his bed roll and lay his head on his backpack and arms under his head resting. Charlie is speaks first "what is it that your cousin has of your that is worth this trip?"
"Forged of moonlight, crafted in the heat of the sun. a silver mirror my uncle forged, Giedion look it and I want it."
Keyor looks confused as she leans in close to the flames "Moonlight?"
"Ethereum, but my uncle didn't know that. It is soft like gold but when mixed with zinc becomes light as silver and stoic as Nordic steel." Loki chuckles.
Cinder seems to have a vindictive smile frozen on her face as she watches the flames kiss the sky "would you like to tell us about your family Loki?"
"I am a Skoll as well you know, I was the fourth born my year so I didn't get to carry my family name. only the fist born male and female every winter get that privilege. My family is holding firm to some 900 year old superstition about an all-powerful wolf mother…"
"Clarify" Cinder orders.
Loki lifts in eye and cocks his head "about the wolf mother?" he sits up straight "some wise wolf once foretold that all wolves where born form 1 grate wolf, and that the Skoll family would one day have the power to welcome the wolf of all wolves into this world. For 1000 generations the first born Skoll girls would lay with only their cousins to keep their blood strong and once all the holy blood has gathered into 1 girl that girl would lay with a mate that was not the mate given to her and she will give birth to a girl puppy that is not one of the Skoll but whose womb awaits the birthing of the goddess…"
Lances tries counting in his head "how long is 1000 generations for a wolf?"
Redcap cuts in quickly "2500 years if every wolf has its first heat between one and two years old."
Lances falls onto his back looking up at the alien sky, some part of everything he has heard is wrong, he can feel it. But still Lances can't decide which parts of what Loki has told him does he want to believe. Every lie has a rhythm; truth, lie, lie truth, lie. That is the pattern his kids would fallow any time they tried to feed him a line. Is that constant? and if so, where is the first truth?
The fire side talk dissolves into what most old men would call 'Fish Tales before long. Milli gets bored and walks over to the tints calming one for herself stepping over David who is already sound asleep on the ice. She opens the flap and crawls in even the largest tent cant house her full size when she starches so has to pull her lags into her shoulders as she wiggles in.
The inside of the tent is lit with a flickering tan light, the hardy fabric make voices outside sound hushed and distant. Milli unzips her jump suit then steps out of it. Her feet drift apart and her knees together as she sits at the back of the tent. She looks at herself running her hands through her fur; Tiny bumps can be felt on her right hip where she fell of her hover bike at military camp, almost a dozen stripes of fur are missing from both her lags do to training accidents at boot camp, there is a discolored patch of hair on her left pectoral where she was hit by photon ray during a raid, one hand feels one of her ears and across one eye she had lost booth in a knife fight, but even with the lost parts of herself replaced in her mind they are still gone and she can still feel the rush of pain of the separation from one's self.
Then Milli rubs both hands from her chest down to her stomach, nightmares from her youth invading her thoughts and silencing her mind in anticipation, her thumbs find the uppermost fold of her pouch, then the slash-mark that makes it unusable, Milli is no longer a woman, the right to call herself one was lost to her in her teens wall walling between to basecamps when she got into a fight with a snow-beast. How many miles has she had to walk in her life? How far has she traveled? So many miles has she gone that no one planet could hold her back. Now an even greater horror falls on her as Milli thinks aout the idea that even after all the darkness of her own universe she is now in someone else's. yet still she is walking. Now under skies that no one she would ever know would walk under.
Milli slides one hand down the slit of her pouch, her fingertips finding the soft skin underneath and how her skin has grown cold to the touch. Milli's lips curl up and her eyes squeeze twisting her face in pain, she whimpers, the stillness of the night calling out the pains that chaotic sunlight forces away. Only lost in ones thoughts can there innermost fear and regret become manifest.
The ocean of ice is far to filmier to Milli, the sound of ice-plates scratching across each other is a siren call to her memories, the world itself teasing Milli reminding her that she is a woman with no countery of her own, nothing worth fighting for, no man will ever lover her, no children will ever be hers, dyeing on her feet is the only glory she can ever hope to enjoy, the only drive to awaken.
Despair assaults Milli's mind, her drive to fight, the foul hope that somehow she will walk amongst her own people again pushes her onto all four, she can't sleep alone, she is not strong enough to awaken if she tries. Milli sticks her head out the tent looking about.
Milli shouts to Tatsu "hay wolf! Come here!"
Stunning in toxic rage Hetatsubatchi watches the horizon with such interest he can feel the spinning of the earth beneath his paws , his eyes fixated so narrowly on the brake between land and air that his vary body equilibrium is dependent on the shallow movements thereof. Hetatsubatchi's mind shouts his past at him, the smell of wolf in the air beckoning him to bloodlust, but it is laser focus that shuts out his hunger.
"Tatsu!" Milli calls again.
Intent after instant of survival rage flashes across Hetatsubatchi's eye, every time he has be threatened, every time he has been struck, each drop of blood he has shed tugs at his stomach encouraging him to run, to kill, to eat. Hetatsubatchi has been hungry before but this feeling is unlike any time he can remember. These thoughts these feeling they can't be his. The ice is drivng him mad, nothing else makes sense.
"Hetatsubatchi!" this yell brakes the trances. Tatsu turns to face Milli his eyes glowing with hunger as his head first starts to turn, but once it registers with him who's voice he had heard he looks tame again. "I need you." Milli speaks her voice trembling.
Hetatsubatchi steps into Milli's tent, he examines her "That is a new look for you."
"yeah, it is a road map of me getting my tail kick in do like it?" sarcasm is thick in Milli's statement.
Tatsu avert his eye trieing not to look at Milli "what did you call me for?"
"Do your sleep on your side?" Milli ask sounding strangely uneasy
"I sleep on my stomach." Tatsu is direct, he keeps his head turned and eyes closed as they talk
"when I was a girl, I once got lost on the flats walking from base W9 to E44. I had lost my bike in a training operation but my S.O. still though I was the best man to make this long drop. The job was a dammed mess, I was hardly old enough to understand what most of the words my S.O. was using even meant, hell I was still having trouble smelling the differences between boys and girl the way I remember it. I was given a Chimchim as a watch dog for my trip, cute animal, about three feet tall, slightly under two buck is weight. Right around waypoint NNE2 my Chimchim started going nuts. I had just sat down to open one of my MRE and the thing started squealing. I picked up RONA and looked around to see if I could find out what was aggravating her so much. I tripped over a Snowbaren, it's this 18 foot 10 buck tailless rat, belongs to the same family as Chimchim. In the time it took me to raise RONA and unlock the trigger the thing picked up and eight my guard dog and slapped me so hard it broke apart my body armor…"
Hetatsubatch cuts in "your world sounds as bad as mine."
"… let me jump to the end of the story. E44 troopers end up coming to my aid. They pointed out to me that it is regulation that all Stith travel in pars. If for no other reason than to cover each-others tail wall at camp. They also recommended a special sleeping ritual, most temporary housing has a primary exit" Milli points at the door "and a secondary" she points at the window flap "one person sleeps facing each exit, theit tails overlapping so the other will feel them if they move."
Hetatsubatchi watches Milli confused "are you asking me to lay on your tail?"
Milli nods "Just till I fall asleep."
Hetatsubatchi nods indifferently "ok but I want something special on our third date." He offers a playful jab at the prospect. Milli curls into a ball facing the door, her tail outstretches. After a short amount of deliberation Hetatsubatchi find a comfortable way to lay on Milli, the weight of Hetatsubatchi's body and his warmth on her back calms Milli allowing her to sleep. Hetatsubatchi only wishes he could sleep so soundly.
Hours pass as Tatsu watches Milli sleep. Something pulls at Tatsu's senses, he sneaks out of Milli's tent. Hetatsubatchi takes a head count; on the ground near where the fire had been David Jazzman is sleeping on his backpack, his tent never erected, Lances and Charlie's tents are back to back watching each-other, both men are asleep, Keyor's tent is set at a 45* angel facing away from Charlie's, Loki had placed up his tent facing west a short jog from the others, he had used his tent to mark a set of animal tracks they had seen. Funny, Redcap and Cinder don't seem to be in camp.
Cinder is untraceable, Loki on the other hand Hetatsubatchi knows what smells like. Tatsu sniff around looking for their sneaky comrade. Tatsu runs a short time off ahead fallowing Loki but he gets sidetracked, a new sent passes under his noise drawing his eyes. Tatsu examines the intruder, A sliver haired she-wolf, larger and more majestic then most that he has seen, this is no pit-fighter, this is a princess, long flawless hair, mystical markings painted onto her body, red spiraling wind patterns running symmetrically down her back, she stinks of magic.
Loki is gone, his sent masked by something. Tatsu offer the she-wolf his full attention "this is my pack, treed softly."
The she wolf hold her head high "this is my land, you are a visitor." The she wolf turns her head pointing the direction the group had been walking "continue that way for another half day and you will find my den should you wish to see it."
Hetatsubatchi moves in ever close to the She-wolf "that is awful hospitable for a wolf."
The she wolf meet Hetatsubatchi part way as they get noise to noise Hetatsubatchi looking hungered and angry, the she-wolf friendly and domestic "I don't know what type of wolves you run with but around these parts we are kind to strangers." The two of them walk around each-other learning one another's sent "tomorrow night in fact is a festival, show up and win some of the games we will be playing and you will earn much glory. All the meat you can eat and a fine selection of fruitful girl or boys if you prefer." the she-wolf chuckles at the idea. She slides her head under Tatsu's pushing his head up as she rubs his neck.
Cinder yells from nearby "Have you seen Redcap around her?"
Tatsu look at Cinder then back to the She-wolf "who are you…" he starts to ask only to find that she as vanished into the wind. Hetatsubachi takes a deep breath, his noise is filled with the she-wolf's sent, he knows he was just talking to someone but outside of the fur she has rubbed off on him her sent is miles away. "I haven't seen him since yesterday." Tatsu replies to Cinder.
Cinder looks around. "he walked off last night around the same time Keyor went to bed." Cinder places a hand on Tatsu head rubbing him "Well the nice part about being a Worldwalker, if Loki isn't back by sunrise we can just warp to another world and leave him stranded her."
"he is a worldwalker too right?"
"yeah, but it is exceptionally difficult to fallow someone else's trail after their portal closes."
As the sun comes up comes up the fallowing day the smell of fresh cooked fish and sliced lemons fills the air. The parts walks out to witness Loki now dressed in a vest woven out of porcupine quills and a belt of gemstones standing over his magical flames grilling up fish stakes and singing to himself.
"…I never give up:
Never give in,
Never let go,
Never let down,
Never lose your way…"
Milli looks about after sliding her pink boiler-suit back on, her composure regained "Right what is all this now?"
Redcap grins as he pulls a fish from the fire "I call it breakfast. Lemon grilled chicken. One of my most delectable dishes." He throws a fish at Milli
Milli catches the fish juggling it for a moment "I have't had grilled fish since W9"
Tatsu looks up at Milli jokingly "I have always been more of a red meat sort."
Loki produces form alongside him a bison leg "I thought as much, that's why I brought this." He throws the meat at Tatsu.
"your my new best friend" Tatsu growls as he picks up the leg in his mouth beginging to chew on it.
Lances and Cinder step out of their tents side by side Lances call over to the elemental "Cinder, what is the temperature right now?"
"-40*f" Cinder replies
"why aren't we dead?" Lances ask
Keyor steps out of her tent, her scales fan up venting her muscles "you are being protected by 'the mist' when a Worldwalker planeshifts their bodies produce aura of displacement, so long as one of the Worldwalker are around you will be protected by their magic."
Lances lips and noise twitch slightly as he thinks about the phrasing of the former statement "that would be a good safety tip. So tell me how 'close' is 'around'?"
Cinder softheartedly grins "I have a feeling you will be able to tell when the magic wears thin." Cinder looks over at Redcap her gentle excretion hardening "If you will give me a moment." She walks over to Loki, Cinder grabs one of his ears between two fingers and twist it forcing him to stager sideways "Loki, I want to talk, will you please come over here?" facetiously she asks as she pulls Loki out of camp
"This is somewhat embarrassing." Loki complains
"I can do so much more to you if I had a mind to do it. Now Loki, what game are you playing with us?" Cinder orders.
"was I somehow unclear?" Loki ask "I want the Helios mirror that Gideon has."
"Why?" Cinder folds her arms under her breast. "you are nothing if not vain, but asking not one, not two, but three Worldwalker to help you steal a trinket sounds like overkill."
"you know that Gideon is one of us, too don't you?" Loki adds
"so then we are here to even the score?" Cinder shacks her head in disbelief. "you would never make it that simplistic."
Loki turns his back on Cinder as he looks out into the snowy distance "if you think I am lying to you then simply walk away."
"you stabbed me in the back once Redcap. Turns out I can hold a grudge after all. If this really is nothing more than extortion so be it, but don't think I didn't notice you sizing up Hetatsubatchi and Milli. If you do anything to…"
Dramatically Redcap spins to face Cinder, the two of them walk around each other in a star down "If I do what?" the slightest hint of anger creeps not Loki's voice. Cinder is on to something, she saw something that Loki thought she had not, now what does it mean, what is Loki really looking for?
Then Cinder remembers, the story about 'the old church' and the 'unclean mother giving birth to a goddess'. "you believe it don't you? Your families fairytale about the Mother Wolf?"
"you are one to talk about fairytales. You believe there is a direct link between you and Vishnu. So, so do I. Now I warn you Cinder. Don't cross me." Loki growls, his eyes turn feral, he is losing his grip on his transmutation.
"Redcap, have you chosen a mother for your messiah? Or are you going to try to do it yourself?"
"actually I'm not eligible. According to the rules of the spell there are to few generations between me and the first sacrament. That is why I need the Skoll's" Redcap's back is to the wall, over his lifetime he has learned; he can lie to anyone, manipulate any one, control anyone and make them love him, except Cinder. His only chose is to let her in on the game and hope she is willing to play along
Cinder nods "the spell you are toying with, it come from a century that not a one of us is old enough to remember. Be warry."
"Are you truly concerned for my wellbeing? I am touched." Loki tries to ease the tension between them.
"I am going to go head and play dum, for old time sake. But if you need blood for this spell you are setting up it had best not come from anyone I know."
Loki smiles, the two of them reminiscing about so distant past they shared. "I have all the blood I need already, it is the small window of opportunity that has me on edge."
Cinder doesn't understand fully why she is invested but she feels she needs to better understand what Loki is thinking, she asks for more information "what sort of a casting window are you looking at?"
"I am at a very sensitive phase of the ritual I have fourteen days to make sure all the components are in place, eleven now and it will be no less than 64 days before I know if this part succeeded, by then I will be well into the next phase of casting and there will be no way to go back if anything went wrong. That sounds like a lot but, considering it took me six centuries to find the spell components I would need I'm sure you can understand why I'm on edge."
'An Avatar spell?' Cinder thinks as she walks away. 'no other conjuration is so complicated. So then what Loki must be looking for is a place to plant one of the spell components.' Cinders curiosity is peeked, she is willing to let this play out, see what Loki is really working on "that is all I need to know. I will turn down the heat for you."
Even the smallest and most simplified Avatar spell requires a generation to cast. Cinder has seen scrolls describing such rights in the past; to even attempt such a feet first requires one to be able to move stars or be able to predict there movement, then to be able to fallow a bloodline from one astrological event to the next of the same type, and finally to be able to find a way to fit a fully developed soul into an infant body. Such work was meant for the people of Pantheon, on one else Cinder knows of have such a skill set. It would be amusing to see if Loki has mastered all these skills.
Charlie Belmond awakens last, and when he does it is hardly a peaceful awakening, he awakens with a scream, his body coldly sweating, his pulse racing, his body quaking as if having be struck by a object many times his size. Quickly Charlie regains his stability and in an rush of energy starts to pack up his gear, he yells out to his friends "Eat and walk guy, we got places to be!"
The team gathers their gear, they are back on the trail in only a short time. Keyor gifts Hetatsubatchi a caller and leash to keep him close by, she allows Milli to hold the chain seeing she is the largest and could most easily control the white wolf. This time it is Cinder the brings up the rear of the team. A hill comes into sight as they find the edge of the ice ocean, climbing the hill across a valley of evergreen trees a city of rounded houses can be seen forged from what can only be hardened leather. After a day and a half on ice, a walk through the trees should be easier.