Kytheran calmly walked down the crowded street, a hood shadowing his face and his hands stuffed into his pockets.
He watched all the people walk past him, several of them stealing quick glances up at him.
He furrowed his brows. Were all tarhyn so short? How did he not notice the entire race were barely taller than dwarves. No wonder he always hit his head on everything.
“Kytheran, where are we going?” asked Aaralynn, interrupting his thoughts.
“Oh,” he scratched his head, “I guess to the boarding house? Maybe somewhere to stay the night?”
The elf looked at him, shifting uncomfortably. “Do you really think we should be here? I mean, what if someone recognizes you?”
“Don’t worry, no one will. Have you seen the drawings they made of me? They will be chasing around a demon rather than an Atherien,” he said.
She shrugged. “True, but is it really worthwhile to test the waters?”
Kytheran sighed. “Regardless, Tarthen is my home, my birthplace. I can’t just forsake it. You have your home with the Forest Elves near the mountains to the west, would you allow me to tell you to just leave and never come back? To push your home from your mind?”
She grimaced. “I guess you have a point.”
He placed his hand on her head. “Why don’t we go and look at the palace? From afar, of course.”
Aaralynn shook her head. “You never listen to me.”
He put his arm around her shoulders. “Well, I can’t listen to my moral compass all of the time! How would I have any fun?”
She brushed his arm away. “Exactly what you need; more dangerous fun.”
He frowned. “Aaré, is it really so wrong for me to get homesick? We are only staying here for a couple of days. Long enough to relieve my aching heart.” Kytheran placed his hand on his chest.
“I don’t think that aching heart of yours is from being homesick,” she snipped. Aaralynn crossed her arms. “Really, Kytheran, this is no better than walking into Valvoren territory! All we have to do is run into one guard, one soldier, and we are in trouble.”
“You mean I am in trouble,” he corrected.
“No, we,” she snapped.
He snorted. “Fine, we won’t stop by the palace. Let’s just find a boarding house and get something to eat.”
She smiled. “Thank you.”
The pair continued walking down the sidewalk in silence. Kytheran watched a carriage roll down the street, a small cloaked figure--possibly a woman--hanging off the back of it.
He raised his eyebrow. “I never did understood stealing a ride on a carriage. I mean, what if they aren’t going where you want to go?”
“Kytheran, the poor try to get around however they can, even catching a ride on a carriage going the wrong way. Maybe they find it fun?” said Aaralynn.
He shrugged. “I wouldn’t, those things can go pretty fast.”
“Weren’t you whining about me not allowing you to have fun just a few moments ago?” she asked.
He stuck his tongue out at her, which made her laugh.
Suddenly, a deep shiver ran up Kytheran’s spine. He blinked and shook his head, rubbing it.
“Are you all right?” Aaralynn looked up at him worriedly.
“I’m fine, just have a bit of a headache,” he said.
She looked at him darkly.
Kytheran glanced over his shoulder, and several feet behind them was the small cloaked figure from the carriage weaving its way through the crowd.
He placed his hand on her back, pushing her forward. “Aaré, I want you to go ahead of me and go into the first boarding house you find, I’ll meet you there.”
She blinked. “What? Why?”
“Just, do it all right? I’ll explain to you when I get there.”
“Go!” he ordered.
After a moment of hesitation, Aaralynn sped up and disappeared into the crowd ahead of him without another word.
Kytheran looked back over his shoulder, and sure enough, the mysterious figure had come closer, but didn’t seem to make any aggressive movement through the throng of people.
Curious. It was obvious he was being followed, and now he was alone, so why weren’t they making their move? Maybe they wanted him completely alone.
He glanced over the heads of the people around him--which wasn’t all that difficult-- looking for an alleyway he could sneak into. Maybe he couldn’t lose him, but maybe he could ambush him.
Ducking down slightly, he slipped into the nearest alleyway. It was lined with pails of garbage and he could hear the squeaking of rats. He hurried down the alley, grabbing a broom along the way, and hid behind a pile of wooden crates. He pressed himself against the wall, clutching the broom close to his chest, his entire body tense.
The stranger stood in the entrance of the alley, scanning the piles of crates and wooden boxes. The stranger took a cautious step forward and once they came near Kytheran’s hiding place, he swung the handle of the broom and struck them square in the abdomen.
There was an audible gasp and the stranger fell onto their back. Kytheran jumped forward and pinned their shoulders with the handle of the broom. “Who are you?” he snarled.
The stranger grabbed the handle, trying to push it away. They shook the hood of their head, revealing a young Desert Atherien woman.
Kytheran pressed harder down on the broom handle. “Don’t think that I will give you a respite just because you are a woman.”
“Wait!” she gasped. “My name…my name…”
“Is?” he asked.
“Cipher! Cipher Lombard! I work for the Carthesisens to the north and I came here to look for you!”
His eyes widened and he released the handle, scrambling to his feet. “Excuse me?”
The woman grabbed the broom and tossed it aside, rubbing her shoulders. “Ow, who knew brooms could hurt so much?”
“Why are you following me?” he snarled.
She huffed. “Did I not just say because I was looking for you? I saw you walking down the street with your little elf friend so I tried to catch up and get your attention. I didn’t know you were going to attack me with a broom!”
His lip twitched. “Then let me rephrase that: Why are you looking for me?”
“I have my reasons,” said Cipher as she dusted herself off.
“Oh really? What would those be?” he asked.
She suddenly stiffened. “I have come to proposition you.”
Kytheran titled his head. “Proposition me? What could the Carthesisens want with me?”
“I didn’t say they were the ones propositioning you,” she said.
“You said you work for them.”
“There is a difference.”
“What kind of difference?”
“I was asked by a higher force to come and ask you to accompany me on a journey,” she said.
“Journey?” His eyes narrowed.
“Yes! A Journey of most importance.” A smirk tugged at the corner of her lips.
He looked at her suspiciously. “A journey of most importance? Care to elaborate?”
The smile was able to win out this time. “I am sure you are aware of a man by the name of Tamesis?”
Kytheran went stiff, his face going red with anger.
“Then I am sure it will not take much for me to ask if you would like to accompany me on a journey to bring him down?” she asked.
He was silent for a moment. “Only if I can bring Aaralynn.”
“Your elf friend?”
Cipher bowed and she looked up at him with her strange silver-hazel eyes. “Why don’t we go collect her then?”
“Well, she should be in the nearby boarding house,” he said.
“I’m a tad unfamiliar with this town, could you show me the way?” She grinned.
“Follow me.” Kytheran turned to exit the alley, only to find Aaralynn blocking the entrance, hands on her hips.
“Aaré!” he cried.
The elf glared at Cipher. “And who are you? Were you the one following us?”
“Oh! ‘Following’ sounds so harsh,” said Cipher. “I prefer ‘looking for’.”
Aaralynn snorted. “‘Looking for’? Why are you looking for us?”
“I was looking for Mister Kytheran here, and look! I found him,” said Cipher.
Kytheran grabbed Aaralynn’s arm. “I already said that she has to come.”
Cipher tilted her head. “And she can, but if she’s going to act like that…”
He sighed. “Aaralynn, you have to behave.”
“Why? Why was she looking for you? Who is she?” she asked.
Cipher held her hand out. “My name is Cipher Lombard. I was looking for your friend because I am aware of his affiliation to the royal family and his very vocal opinions towards Tamesis.”
“So? Many people have his qualifications, if that is what you are looking for,” said Aaralynn.
“Aaré, she has offered us the chance to take Tamesis down. She works for the Carthesisens,” said Kytheran.
“The Carthesisens? You mean that rebel group up north who stole land from Drecona a few years ago?” said Aaralynn. “And you think we should trust her?”
“First of all,” said Cipher, “they aren’t a rebel group. You would need to be part of a bigger group to be a rebel group and they were never part of a bigger group. Second, they didn’t ‘steal’ the land, Drecona lost their hold on it and they reclaimed it.”
Aaralynn glared at her. “We should trust you, why?”
“What other choice do we have?” asked Kytheran. “We are wanted fugitives wandering around aimlessly. At least, she is giving us a bit of direction.”
The elf sighed. “Do you really want to?”
“We would be doing more than we are now,” he said.
Cipher clapped her hands. “Decided now?”
The pair exchanged glances. “We will come, and help. Though, I’m not sure how we can be of help.”
A small grin appeared on the woman’s face. “Trust me, you will be of the utmost help.”
Days turned into weeks as the group walked north through the old growth forests. Cipher refused to reveal where they were going, a sly smile on her face the entire time.
After a couple of weeks, Aaralynn had enough. “Cipher! I’m tired of this. Either you start giving us some information or else we are leaving.”
Cipher stopped and looked at her quizzically. “Oh? Really? Now?”
The elf stood defiantly. “Yes! You haven’t given us any information since day one! We barely know who you are, and least of all her.” She glanced sideways at Caraka.
“Whoa! Don’t bring me into this!” said Caraka. “I want no part of your little squabble.”
“Oh you are part of it,” said Aaralynn. “I want to know why Cipher wants to have a girl who has Sorceress’ blades with us.”
Caraka’s face darkened. “I told you once, I don’t have Sorceress’ blades.”
“Prove it,” Aaralynn spat.
“How am I suppose to do that? You will never believe me!” said Caraka.
“And that is why all of us have to go out on a limb,” said Cipher. “We are all putting our faith in each other. That makes a good group.”
“Are you saying you purposefully collected us?” asked Kytheran.
“Well, I didn’t do it accidentally,” said Cipher.
“Either way, give us something, Cipher.” Aaralynn begged. “Anything.”
The desert Atherien pondered for a moment when a chill went up her spine. “I can tell you soon, please, just give me a few more moments.”
Aaralynn bristled and looked up at Kytheran. He shrugged.
“This better be good,” she sighed.
“Perfect, can we get going now? It’s starting to get cold,” Caraka complained.
Kytheran tilted his head. “It is getting colder, isn’t it?”
Cipher rubbed her hands together. “Then I guess there is no reason in standing here, is there?”
The group continued forward, combing through the brambles and branches.
As the day wore on, Caraka began to fall behind, slowly separating herself from the rest of the group. She pulled her hood over her head, her ears twitching madly underneath the fabric. Her eyes darted around and her shoulders hunched forward, her wings curling slightly around her arms.
She didn’t like how the shadows darted around the forest.
Aaralynn looked over her shoulder and gave her a suspicious glance. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Me?” Caraka blinked. “Nothing,” she said stiffly.
“Are you sure? You look tense,” said the elf.
“I’m sure.” Caraka crossed her arms.
Kytheran and Cipher stopped. “Do you need some rest, Caraka?” asked Cipher.
She shook her head. “No, I’m fine.”
Cipher walked up to her, placing her hand on her forehead. “You are so clammy! Honestly, Caraka, are you all right?”
Suddenly, Caraka’s eyes went as wide as saucers. The color drained from her face, making the dark circles under her eyes more pronounced.
Cipher grabbed her shoulders, alarmed. “Caraka? What’s wrong?”
She raised her hand, pointing behind them. “Look.”
Between the trees was a thick wall of fog, breaking the monotonous sight of trees. It didn’t move or crawl along the belly of the forest, despite the fact that a notable breeze whistled through the leaves and branches. It simply stood there, as if made of stone. The mist was thick, nearly opaque.
“W-What is that?” asked Kytheran, shocked.
“It’s called Silver mist. It’s what left behind after someone casts a spell,” said Caraka. “And that’s a lot of mist.”
“It’s so thick!” Aaralynn cried. “Who could have done something that could have allowed so much?”
“Tamesis,” Cipher said softly.
They all snapped their heads around, staring at her. “What?” said Kytheran.
“It’s because we are…we are…” she sighed. “We are near Trilibela.”
Caraka’s eyes slowly went wide, not with shock, but anger. “What.”
Cipher spun around. “I am taking you to Trilibela. We are meeting a friend there, a friend of mine.”
“W-Who meets in Trilibela? Isn’t that city dead?” asked Aaralynn.
Cipher looked at the ground, bowing her head. “The gods do.”
The trio went silent, their mouths agape. Cipher did not look up at them, merely clasping her hands in front of her. No one said anything for awhile, the only sound being the wind.
“T-The gods?” Aaralynn squeaked finally.
Cipher nodded her head slowly.
“How do you know the gods?” asked Kytheran.
Finally, Cipher snapped her head up. “Because I am one of them.”
Kytheran’s mouth opened and shut like a fish. “Y-You are joking.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I’m not joking.”
“I knew you had strange eyes.” Aaralynn muttered.
He looked over towards Caraka. “Did you know about this?”
“That Cipher was an oddball?” She shrugged. “Sure, I did.”
“If you’re a goddess, then what are you the goddess of?” asked Aaralynn.
Cipher placed her hand on her chest. “I am the Goddess of the Hidden. I take command over prophecies, secrets, codes, riddles, and the like.”
Kytheran looked at her, confused. “So, is this part of a prophecy? Did you prophesize this?”
She shook her head. “I cannot make prophecies, but, I do know every prophecy in existence. My job is to make sure the right prophecies become realized at the right time.”
“Isn’t it fate when someone fulfills a prophecy though? At least, that is how the tarhyn see it,” said Kytheran.
Cipher grinned. “Every race sees me differently, but, my job remains the same.”
“So, your friend, are they a god?” asked Aaralynn.
She nodded. “A goddess, actually.”
“Who is she?” asked Kytheran.
Cipher bit down on her finger. “Look, the other part of my job is secrets. If someone tells me a secret, I am bound to keep it at all costs until the person reveals it themselves or releases me from the secret. I am the perfect secret keeper.” She rubbed her hands. “I can’t tell you who she is because she won’t let me.”
“Then, I guess we have to wait,” said Aaralynn.
“Yes, you do,” said Caraka. “Pushing her for the answer will only cause her to fidget and harm herself. So, it’s best you leave her alone.”
Kytheran looked at her. “How do you know?”
Caraka paused, then tilted her head. “Everyone knows.”
“What do you mean ‘everyone knows’?” he asked slowly.
She lifted her chin up slightly. “As I said. Everyone knows how Cipher’s abilities work.”
“Caraka…” Cipher began.
“Shouldn’t we be off now? Just because we can see the edge of the mist, does not mean that we are close to the city,” she said.
“Wait, correct me if I’m wrong but, wouldn’t we be at the top of the city? I mean, its built into the Cliffside,” said Aaralynn.
Caraka narrowed her eyes. “What’s your point?”
“How am I suppose to get down? The three of you can fly. I can’t,” she said.
Caraka stuck her lip out. “Oh, sucks to be you then.”
The elf glared at her. “You aren’t leaving me up here in that mist!”
“Aaré!” Kytheran cried. “Calm down, do you really think I would just leave you up here by yourself? Of course I’d carry you around.”
Aaralynn pointed at Caraka. “It’s her I don’t trust.”
The Atherien crossed her arms. “You honestly believe that I would either leave you here or knock you out of his arms or something? Really? What’s wrong with you? Are you seriously that threatened by the fact that I’m a sorceress?”
Aaralynn’s face went red. “Of course I am. I have met plenty of sorceresses in my life and none of them had any resemblance of sanity.”
“Well, there is a first for everything, isn’t there?” Caraka pointed out.
“Are the two of you done now?” asked Cipher. “I would very much like to get a move on and get this over with. Plus, I would also prefer not to have to listen to your incessant bickering.”
Caraka snorted. “Well, I didn’t start it.”
Cipher snarled. “I don’t care who did. Now, let’s go.”
They walked up towards the wall of mist and stood in front of it. There was a mixture of fear and curiosity on their faces.
“Is it solid? Can we get through?” asked Aaralynn.
“There is only one way to find out,” said Caraka. She shakily raised her hand, slowly moving to touch the mist. Her fingertips past through the barrier unharmed.
“Hmm.” Caraka pushed her arm into the mist up to her shoulder. “I think we are good.”
“Be careful, though,” said Cipher. “It may not be a solid, but that doesn’t mean it’s thick and won’t be difficult to walk through.”
They entered the mist; Cipher going in first, with Kytheran close behind her with Aaralynn grabbing hold of his pack, while Caraka lackadaisically came in last.
Cipher did not overestimate with her warning; the mist thickly hung in the air, making it impossible to see barely a foot in front of them. The trees sat like ghostly sentinels, their branches and vine-like growths, before innocent and harmless, hovered above them like ropes and gnarled, grasping hands.
The forest had gone deathly silent. No birds chirping in the trees, no insects singing from the ground, no game slinking through the underbrush. It even seemed that the mist stole the very sounds their breathe made.
“T-This place is creepy,” Aaralynn squeaked.
“We are getting close, very close,” said Cipher.
Kytheran ran his hand through the mist. It flowed between his fingers like water, leaving ripples in the wake. “This stuff…it’s so strange.”
“It is because it’s residual magic. Leftovers after casting a spell,” said Caraka. “It’s visible where normal magic is not.”
“Plus, it changes the land that it sits on. Don’t you notice no animals are around? It would make them sick if they stayed too long,” said Cipher.
Kytheran gasped. “What about us? I don’t want to get sick.”
“You won’t get sick,” Caraka said flatly. “We are magic beings. We live off of this stuff. Why do you think you can go without water for five or six days? At worst, overabundance will make you turn silver.”
He turned his head to look at her, but all he could see was Aaralynn, who was closely behind. “Is that what happened to you?”
“Set back of the job,” she called out.
They continued walked through the ghost forest. Caraka started to lag behind, shifting her pack uncomfortably. Her ears twitched around, searching for the sounds of the others’ footsteps. She looked up, but couldn’t see anything. “Wait for me! Hey! You are too fast!” She called out.
Worry twisted in her stomach. She called out again. “Guys? Hello?” Caraka quickened her pace, hoping to accidentally run into Aaralynn, or someone.
The mist started to thicken around her. She couldn’t see a tree or bush even if she was standing right beside it. Her heart started to beat faster and her breath quickened. “Come on! I know you can hear me! Just wait up for me!” she cried, panic gripping her voice.
A chill ran up her spine, freezing her, and she spun around.
Nothing was there.
Caraka backed away slowly. Something moved to her right, making her jump. She clumsily grabbed Tamal, dropping the sword to the ground.
She stiffened. You need to calm yourself. She told herself. Taking in a deep breath, she forced herself to relax. “Who goes there?”
There was no answer. She expected that.
Slowly, she knelt down and picked up her sword, not looking down. She looked around quickly, seeing nothing in the mist.
“Cipher? Kytheran? Aaralynn? This better not be a joke. It’s not funny!” she snapped.
Caraka got back to her feet quickly, holding her sword defensively. Her eyes scanned the mist around her. She could see the shadows skirt by in a flash.
I don’t like this…
Neither do I. What’s going on?
I don’t know.
What do you mean you don’t know? Caraka exclaimed in her head.
There is someone in the mist.
She froze, her stomach doing jumps at the thought. Goosebumps began to crawl across her skin, her hair standing up on end. She slowly returned her sword to its sheath. She didn’t want to stay to know if she was right.
Caraka finally moved, taking off into the forest like a startled deer. “Cipher! Kytheran! Aaralynn! Where are you? Anyone! Where are you?” she screamed as she barely dodged trees and moss covered branches. “Oh great Goddess don’t let it be…don’t let it be--”
Suddenly, Caraka tripped over a hidden log, sliding into the mud. Slowly, she got to her knees, coughing and sputtering. Mud dripped down her face and neck and covered her front. She was trying to wipe the mud from her eyes when a high pitched shrieked echoed through the empty forest.
Caraka felt her heart jump into her throat. She looked around frantically, her body going cold. “Who’s there? Come out! Show yourself!”
There was a growling sound, and Caraka scrambled to her feet. The growling grew louder, deeper, more threatening. She looked around, trying to pinpoint the sound; it was coming from everywhere. The sound surrounded her. Engulfed her.
It was then she felt something solid graze against her arm.
She jumped and took off running, screaming.
“Help! Help me! Cipher! Where are you? I don’t want to be here anymore! Someone! Help!”
Caraka stopped in her tracks. She stood stiffly, her entire body shaking uncontrollably. She gulped, hugging herself.
You are acting like a coward.
Why shouldn’t I be? Something is following me!
You’ve been in worst situations.
But-But, it could be…it could be…
Exactly, could be, but it isn’t, the voice scolded. You are acting like an idiot. Take a step forward and see where your idiocy could have landed you.
Slowly, she inched her foot forward until the ground disappeared. She was near the sea cliffs; a hundred foot drop into the frenzied sea.
Caraka stood there, her body still shaking. There was something in the mist, something that wanted to scare her. She shouldn’t give it the power. Caraka took in a shaking breath and pressed her fear down into the pit of her stomach.
She turned around, coming face to face with a figure in the mist.
The figure looked like a skeleton that had a thick, silvery substance poured over it, giving it a hollowed look. It cocked its head, a cracking sound echoing through the air.
Caraka felt the color drain from her face. She tried to scream, say something, but was only able to mutter a whimpering sound.
The wraith hovered forward, the lower half of its body disappearing into the mist. It hissed at her.
“W-What a-a-are y-y-ou?” Caraka stammered out.
The wraith merely hissed at her again, slowly hovering forward.
She grabbed her sword, trying to pull it out, but being unable to, her hands slick with sweat. “S-Stay away from me…”
The wraith cocked its head to the other side.
Caraka took a step backwards, her foot catching the edge of the cliff. She lost her footing and fell off the cliff.
She let out a blood curdling scream as she fell through the air. She frantically opened up her wings and flipped herself around. The wind caught under them, allowing her the glide through the air. She flapped her wings to gain some lift, but she mostly glided down through the thick mist, unable to see any water below.
Suddenly, a gust of wind knocked into her. Her wings gave out, causing her to fall again. She shrieked, hysterically beating her wings to slow down her freefall. Another gust from the opposite direction hit her, causing her to tumbling through the air.
She hit something hard, bouncing and sliding across it. Caraka ended up splayed out on her stomach, moaning and groaning.
She lifted her head, looking out into the dense mist. She coughed and weakly got to her knees. Her body was shaking, her wings hanging limply. She looked up, but couldn’t see the edge of the cliff, no bearing on exactly where she had fallen.
She pushed her hair off of her face and looked down at the ground. She ran her hand across the smooth, reflective surface; it was ice. She was sitting on sea ice. Caraka dragged one clawed finger across the ice; it didn’t make a mark.
Caraka’s brow furrowed in confusion. Why couldn’t she make a mark on the ice? This was unnatural.
It was then, she heard another hissing sound. Caraka spun around, catching a glittering, rainbow-like glint in the mist.
She tried to get to her feet, but her legs kept giving out on her.
There was another glint.
Caraka looked around, her heart racing. There was a low hissing sound, snake-like. She could hear something sliding across the ice around her; she could feel its eyes on her.
Then, it came. A gigantic snake-like creature came slithering out of the mist, its scales gleaming like rainbows in the dim light. Long spikes ran down its spine, and its slit eyes fell on Caraka.
She tried to scramble away, her feet slipping on the ice. “L-L-L-Le-Le-Leviathan!”
“Hello, Caraka. Long time, no see,” the creature hissed, a slight bit of humor to its voice.
She backed away. “W-What are you doing here?”
He slithered towards her. “I could ask you the same question.”
“That’s none of your business,” she snapped.
He arched back, his long, dragon-like head hanging over her. “Don’t act that way towards me. You remember the last time you did that?”
Caraka cowed away. “Leave me alone, I want nothing to do with you…or him.”
“You act like you have a choice. I could drag you back and there is nothing you can do about it,” he said.
The blood drained from her face, but she kept her hard look on him. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Leviathan curled his lips back, revealing his overly long fangs. “Don’t test me.”
She backed away again. “You don’t control me, and neither does he.”
He hissed and arched back, ready to strike.
It was then Caraka heard a whizzing sound. An arrow cut through the mist and hit Leviathan below the eye.
The monster shrieked, shaking his head. Black blood dripped onto the ice near Caraka. She finally was able to find her legs and scrambled to her feet, although she was still a bit shaky.
Someone grabbed her arm and pulled her into the mist, away from Leviathan as he dragged his head across the ice. They pulled her away, forcing her to run. Suddenly, they stopped and she fell into them, clutching them around their waist. She looked behind her, to see if the monster had followed them.
“You know, you have a pretty tight grip.”
Caraka looked up, and stared right into Kytheran’s face. “You!”
He blinked. “Yes…expecting someone else?”
“Bu--I--Wha--” She shook her head and punched him in the stomach. “How many times are you going to grab me out of nowhere like that?”
Kytheran shrugged. “How many times are you going to be chased by something and be oblivious to your surroundings?”
“I--but--I wasn’t being chased by anything!” she cried.
He raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?”
A high piercing shriek resonated through the air.
Kytheran grabbed her wrist. “We need to get out of here.”
Caraka glanced behind her, and decided fighting may not be the best optioned. She quickly nodded her head.
They ran through the mist, the shrieking and howling slowly fading behind them.
It took awhile, but finally Caraka was able to see two figures in the mist. She began to rush past Kytheran. “Cipher!”
“Caraka!” Cipher ran towards them and hugged Caraka tightly. She grabbed her shoulders, her face inches away from Caraka’s. “What happened? Why did you wander off like that?”
“I didn’t wander off! The mist engulfed me and I lost you guys. I tried looking for you but I fell off the cliff and slammed into the ice…” Caraka trailed off.
“And she ran into a gigantic snake creature,” said Kytheran, finishing for her.
She turned and glared at him.
“A snake creature?” Aaralynn exclaimed. “What? Is it after us?”
Caraka shook her head. “Kytheran injured it and we ran off and lost it.”
Cipher sighed, “Good, we don’t need any more complications.”
“Oh, we still have complications,” said Kytheran. He grabbed Caraka’s shoulder. “You know that thing.”
“Oww!” Caraka snapped. She tried to pry his fingers off of her. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Yes you do,” he snarled. “I heard you talking to it.”
“I think the mist is getting to your head,” she said.
He pushed her away. “What was that thing, Caraka? I am not going to have a gigantic snake chasing after me.”
“He won’t chase after you,” she said stiffly.
“How can you promise me that? He seemed pretty intent on dragging you away if I hadn’t come and helped,” he said.
Cipher stepped in between them. “Stop it, I’m sure Caraka has a perfectly reasonable explanation.” Cipher glanced at her. “Right?”
Caraka bit her lip. “I-I…he’s just a monster. Not all monsters are mindless and mute. He wanted to kidnap me. I don’t know who he is.”
Cipher sighed, but Kytheran looked unconvinced. “Look, Kytheran, if it’s not chasing after us…” Cipher began.
He squared his shoulders then crossed his arms. “How far are we from the city?”
“Not far,” said the goddess.
He nodded his head forward. “Then lead the way. I’ll take the rear in case that thing decided it wanted to change it’s mind.”
Cipher nodded. “All right.” She started walking, leading the way, with Aaralynn close behind.
Caraka didn’t move, merely standing there. Kytheran glared at her. “Come on, get moving. You aren’t going behind me.”
“Y-You saw him,” she said softly.
He looked at her, perplexed. “Excuse me? Of course I saw him! That thing was hard to miss.”
She looked up at him, “You aren’t suppose to see him.”
“Why not?” he asked, a low threatening tone to his voice.
She shook her head and started off towards where Cipher walked off to, muttering, “You weren’t suppose to see him…”
Kytheran watched her leave, completely confused. What did she mean he wasn’t suppose to see him? It? Whatever it was.
He shook his head. He was falling behind and he didn’t want to get lost in the mist also.
It took them over an hour of wandering through the mist before anything came into view. The smell of sea salt seemed heightened, yet the sounds of the ocean were non-existent, leaving the air eerily silent.
“Cipher, are you even sure of where you are going?” asked Aaralynn.
“Of course I am,” she said.
“How? I can barely see my hand in front of me, no less any landmarks,” the elf pointed out.
Cipher smirked. “I’ve had many gifts bestowed upon me by the great gods.”
“Like what? Can you see through the mist?” asked Kytheran.
Cipher suddenly stopped, turning around. She tilted her head. “We are here.”
The group looked around. “All I see is mist,” said Aaralynn.
Cipher turned to her right, placed her fingers in her mouth, and whistled.
The sound rang through the still air. The ground rumbled slightly and far off in the distance, the mist began to thin.
It revealed a massive city built into the cliff face. It stretched out for miles in either direction, and filled the cliff from top to bottom in three levels.
On the lowest level, right next to the iced ocean, it was filled with short, yet large buildings. Boats of all different sizes remained at the docks, forever frozen into the waters, several of them even being iced over themselves. There seemed to be ice built up on the docks and the streets in front and beside the buildings. People.
On the middle level, the buildings were tall and thin and covered in hundreds of windows, taller than any building in the known tarhyn and elven worlds. Some were perfectly rectangular, while others had oddly curving shapes. Connecting them all, though, were bridges; some shimmering like glass and others dark and solid.
On the uppermost level, was most obvious; the residential level. The largest and most magnificent houses on the furthest reaches of the city and slowly getting smaller and blander as they came closer to the center. Strangely though, in the dead center of the level was the largest and most grand of the houses; it stood in two separate yet symmetric pieces, long and rectangular, reaching from the back cliff face to the edge of the level, miniature bridges connecting the two buildings. The silver and blue colorings could see be seen through the ice.
In the middle of it all was a grand waterfall. It flowed through each level, and even in between the symmetrical buildings, before flowing back into the ocean. It too was completely frozen.
“Great goddess, is this Trilibela?” asked Kytheran, completely shocked.
“The one and only,” said Cipher.
“It’s massive!” said Aaralynn.
“And completely frozen over,” Caraka said flatly.
Cipher glanced at her. She walked over so she was in between them and the city. She raised her hands up and tilted her head forward. “Welcome to Trilibela. The capital of Atheran, the political center of the driginis world, and the first city to fall victim to the Solstice Abyss.”
- 'Shadow's Dawn' - Ch. 3