This... this is actually the way out?
4 July, 2018
Olivia and Cecil escape The Borrower's Realm. Part of Olivia's Crucible
Cecil was adamant that he found a way out. Just that she had to trust her. That way was a good five hour walk, but it did take them away from all of the fire and magma. The land they get to is flat. It'd even be beautiful with that tall grass that grows, but the high winds make it impossible. Tornados can be seen here and there in the distance, but that isn't where Cecil leads her. No, they're sticking close to the high mountain's edge as they travel.
Olivia is skeptical, but she's letting Cecil lead the way for the time being. She is used to walking and traveling long distances, at least; she's trudging along at a moderately good pace. But she can't swim through the ground like Cecil can, which may slow things down a little bit. Her eyes move around, observing the area around them, watching carefully. Just in case. Tornadoes are a problem, but so long as they stay over there, she's fine with it.
Cecil digs at that rocky space. Claws shank and slash at the rock. Despite his usual endeavors this is very slow going. "Keep watch for moment," he asks of Olivia. As he says this Olivia is allowed a bit more time to look at those tornadoes, and after a while it becomes clear that these forces of nature are as much Changeling as she. "Watch for bird."
"Watch for bird?" Olivia looks a bit confused before just shrugging and turning slightly, keeping Cecil in her peripheral vision while turning her eyes to search for anything out of the ordinary. Like that bird. Though she doesn't expect to see an actual bird.
There are no birds, but there is something watching them. She can barely make it out in the clouds, but when she does it's impossible not to see it. An overlarge pair of eyes staring at them from the clouds, and it's clear that it's just them. Each of them shifts in size, shape, and color. As they do so Cecil finally makes some headway, and he calls to Olivia. "Need help!" There's a really, really faint bit of light coming from the tiny hole to the other side.
Olivia watches the sky carefully, her gaze focusing on the eyes once she picks them out. She breathes deeply and shifts a bit uncomfortably, pursing her lips. Not good. She has an idea of what that is. "Cecil, we're being watched," she hisses in his direction, turning to lean in and help at his call. "I don't think we're going to have a lot of time here."
"See nothing," the Beast says with one quick glance at the tornadoes. He turns back to digging, but those eyes remain. Staring at the two of them. The only only gets slightly bigger despite the work being done. "Need help." That help isn't gonna come as she appears right behind them. The Borrower. He looks between the two of them as the earth rises to hold them there. "You have survived," she remarks with a very mild hint of disbelief. "But you both have things that belong to me, and have proven them to work well."
"Your eyes aren't as good as mine," Olivia mutters, watching the eyes in the sky cautiously. She turns to offer some help, but they had far less time than she anticipated. Far less equalling none. Olivia inhales sharply as the ground comes up to hold her in place, gaze focusing on their Keeper as it appears. She shifts slightly, squirming and testing the strength of the bindings in the earth. She does NOT want to be here under that scrutinizing gaze. "When will you stop being surprised that I've lived? I told you that I wasn't going to die here."
There's no response from the Keeper, and little emotion to speak of in response beyond a slight lift of his brows. She steps forward, running a hand over Olivia's face. Two fingers dig into the woman's eyes, and Olivia soon finds herself blind again. Her vision does return to her, but nothing is there for a moment. As her sight returns everything is drab. Lacking in what once was there as everything is awash in grey. Pain comes to her back despite the Keeper still being in front of her. The blood that pours from her ripped off wings only flows for a beat. She isn't taking the worst of it as Cecil screams so loud and for so long that even when it sounds as if their Keeper is done with them he still suffers. She then lifts them both in the air, hands around their throats. "I no longer have need of you. Either of you. I have what I need,and your time here is a waste." The hole Cecil was working on expands. She then lets the go, and allows them to breath after forcefully throwing them through the hole. Unlike his realm there is no sun here. The moon is high above,and the distant howling of wolves can be heard. Cecil, for his part is sporting a new pair of arms, weaker in muscular definition, but stronger than before.
Olivia screams in pain as the Borrower's fingers dig into her eyes. No matter how many times this has happened, it still hurts. It's agonizing. Her back arches with pain as her newly formed wings are instead ripped off her body, the shooting pain lingering even as the deed is done. Olivia's hands snap up to grab at the Keeper's wrists as she's hauled up by her throat, her damaged vision darkening somewhat as she is half strangled. She gasps as she's released, falling through the hole to land on the ground with a dull thud. There is only a brief moment to gather herself before she's scrambling up onto her feet, looking around frantically. "Where are we now?" she asks, keeping her voice low. Wolves are probably not good.
Cecil is still terrified. Shaking. He tries to hug himself with his new arms, but it only drives him further inside. Just way too much nope for the Beast. The world around them appears natural, but nothing of the trees here seem normal. Trees as high as the eye can see, the sight of a four-winged bird flying around, and an overlarge mountain in the distance. The shape and size of that mountain looks like something Weaver told her about. Some vast, rocky thing in the hedge local to Fort Brunsett.
Olivia takes a few moments to orient herself, blinking her eyes rapidly a few times, trying to clear up her vision. Nothing looks right. She walks over towards Cecil, reaching one hand over to gently pat one of his arms. "Come on. This way. I think." Olivia frowns a bit, thinking. It SEEMS right. It looks like it should be the right way. Unless it's some other cruel trick. "Let's go." She doesn't really wait for any extended stretch of time, beginning to head towards the one thing that looks like a landmark.
Cecil recoils at her touch, shivering from it. He does eventually concede. He first tries to push himself up with his arms, but the sensation just freaks him out again. Instead he belly crawls to a tree, turns his back to it after sitting up, and then starts to slowly push himself to his feet while sliding up the tree. "Watch it!" comes the voice from up there, and a green, twin-tailed squirrel shouts at him from the shaking tree.
"Okay look, I'm not staying here. I'm going to keep going. You can come, or not, but I'm not going to stay in one place." Olivia glances up towards the tree, shaking her head a bit and turning to start walking. She rubs at the side of her head, a throbbing headache lingering in her skull, not to mention the sharp pain in her back. No time to dwell on that right now. She walks steadily, marching on towards the mountain.
It takes a while for Cecil to catch up to her, and as they walk they can feel their connection to that place fade. Much of it slwoly and surely leaving their mind beyond a distant memory of pain and suffering. Their bodies become much of what they once were, but the touch of their keeper is still very much there. Her within the cold recesses still in her heart, her now icy blue eyes, and the eversharp natural weaponry she still possesses. In Cecil's case he returns to the shape of a fairly short man covered in faint scales with a large set of claws on the ends of his fingers and toes. The worst of their slow return to humanity are the protections they once had, and now the lack of clothes becomes a problem as it begins to rain.
Olivia shudders a bit as she feels things begin to shift and change, her own skin feeling uncomfortable. She rubs at her eyes with one hand, pausing briefly before continuing on, glancing sideways at Cecil. She doesn't say anything yet, not now. But the fact that she's naked is finally starting to be a problem. She releases an annoyed, heavy sigh and looks around. "I don't want to stop, but this rain is miserable," she comments quietly over towards her companion.
Cecil does notice, and his cheeks are beat red. "Was miserable before the rain. We-" He's cut off by the sound of deep, sonorous howling from somewhere in the distance. It sounds like it might be coming from up the mountain, but also well around them. It's hard to tell with the rain. "What was that?" he fearfully asks. "Friends?" More a question than a guess, and a hopeful one at that.
Olivia stops as she hears the howling, looking around carefully. She doesn't have time to be afraid. Not right now. She isn't out yet. She isn't safe yet. This is just another something. "I don't know," she says quietly. "Probably not. But I don't know." Hide or run? She has to decide. "Let's keep going, but see if you can find some kind of shelter. A tree we can climb, a cave we can hide in... something."
Eventually they have to come to stop as lightning crashes down. It destroys a tree, slowing them for just a moment. This proves to be just enough time when one of the briarwolves leaps from the shadows behind them. A canine beast with long limbs marking it as something other than just a regular wolf. It howls, calling the attention of the others. They all return a howl with their own. Cecil freaks out the sight of this, and drops to his knees.
Olivia jumps first at the lightning as it explodes a tree, then again at the wolf that appears. "Shit," she mutters quietly, looking around frantically. She blinks once at Cecil, seeing him collapsed on the ground. "HEY. You need to get up!" Olivia turns slightly in place, pushing her damp hair back behind her shoulders, as she again tries to call ice shards to her hands. It used to work. She isn't sure it still will. She isn't entirely sure what the Keeper did to her before dumping her.
Cecil doesn't get up. Fear's taken hold of him, and he just shivers. Now he's not afraid to hug himself as he sits there, head going down. He rocks back and forth, proving himself the easiest prey as the briar wolves narrow in. The icy sensations are there, but nothing comes. The ice she can connect with is too far away to help them immediately. THe most she can muster is an icy, spiky set of armor that covers her entire body.
Olivia flexes her fingers, shaking one hand at her side, vaguely frustrated. The icy armor that she manages to conjure up is better than nothing, but it isn't going to repel an assault. It's not working like it used to. "CECIL!" she yells over at him, turning carefully in place to watch as many of the wolves as she can manage. She can't kill them all. She can't kill ANY of them if she can't find some way to defend herself.
From above and through all the rain Weaver flies, holding Velvet in tow. He comes down bit by bit, still unable to see who or what might be teh target of the briarwolf's hunt. "I don't see shit," he points out. "Gonna drop down lower and may hit the trees while I move." To that, he comes low enough that at least Velvet can see. A man covered in soft, brown scales with claws longer than even Weaver possesses is on the ground. He's currently hugging himself, and rocking back and forth while the briarwolves approach. One of the beasts has made itself known, and is skulking towards the pair. The other is a woman that looks mostly like Olivia, but something is off. She's covered in ice, her presence cooling the air around her. From Weaver's circling she can also make out five more briarwolves approaching the pair from all sides.
As they start to go lower, Velvet shifts her grip. Glowing eyes narrow as she tries to focus on what's going on. A dragon and... "It's Olivia," she growls to Weaver as she focuses the weapon one a few of the wolved that are starting to surround the woman. "Get the fuck away from her," she bellows as they decend, taking shot after shot, launching grenades into the pack. The explosions pop off, one after the other, three of the wolves not even getting a chance to howl and whimper before dropping dead.
Olivia hisses softly between overly sharp teeth, taking up a more defensive stance as the wolves circle her. This isn't going to go well. Her eyes snap up when she hears movement overhead, soon followed by Velvet's voice. Velvet's voice? That can be dealt with later. One thing at a time. Olivia's gaze refocuses on the wolf that's trying to attack her, instead lashing out with sharp icy claws.
Velvet's shots land with unerring accuracy. One explosion follows another, leaving the hedge alight alongside the lightning that comes down. Briarwolf parts, underbrush, and tree bark goes everywhere after each grenade goes boom. Weaver growls as soon as he hears Velvet call that out. "When I call ready, land." She can feel his grip loosen, waiting for her to call ready. The briarwolf slashed by Olivia didn't much like that, and it loses track of what's happening to is packmates. Instead it lunges forward to swipe at the woman, and finds the ice on her body lashing out at it.
"Ready," Velvet says as his grip relaxes. She waits for the drop, landing delicate with a little half run to keep her momentum and to keep from toppling. She skids to a halt, grenades launching at two more of the wolves, setting them screeching back to hell. She aims towards that last one, but with Olivia right there, she can't risk it. The launcher is dropped, freeing her hands for new weapons.
Olivia can hear the explosions and the sounds of voices. The voices are secondary, though. They're less important at the moment. While Velvet takes care of most of the wolfpack, Olivia focuses on the one in front of her, absently inching away from the majority of the flames around her. She steps to one side, finding what appears to be a weak point before lunging at the creature, sharp icy talons ripping across flesh and impaling the wolf viciously, letting it drop to the ground in front of her as she pulls her hands back.
The ice wasn't somethign he'd known or was used to. Much less that much ferocity and terror. Weaver stares her down, an askance gaze shot at the still terrified Cecil. He doesn't matter to the dragon, but the woman does. "Olivia?" he asks when taking a step forward.
"Nicely done." Velvet's voice rings towards Liv as the woman cuts through the wolf. "Not everyone fresh out can take down a briarwolf. But we need to get you the fuck out of here." She'll let Weaver handle that as she starts to move towards the cowering draconic, Cecil. She doesn't touch him, just kneeling down in front of where he cowers. "They're dead. We need to move. Can you walk?"
Olivia's head snaps over towards the pair as she hears them speak, eyes shifting between them with undisguised suspicion. What's only been a matter of days for them has been months for her. This has to be yet another game. Another trick. She shakes her head rapidly, taking a few steps backward, inching back towards some kind of cover. "I'm not going to keep playing these games. This isn't funny."
Weaver has been through a lot the last few weeks, he doesn't seem all too happy at the response he gets. He growls, that much about him is unmistakable. "Olivia fukcing Utridge, I really don't have time to for nay fucking games right now. We need to leave, and-" He shakes his head before that rage overtakes him. "If we have to act like children that's what it's gonna come down to." Mirroring a threat he's told to her a million times over in their youth, "Liv, if I gotta drag you to go, I will." Cecil looks up to Olivia, her visage much less something to be frightened of when compared to the briarwolves. Then the beast realizes his lack of clothing, and hastily turns away. "I'm- I'm okay. Where can we go? Where are we!?"
Velvet presses three fingers to her forehead and closes her eyes as Weaver starts to go off on Olivia. She has to take a deep breath, composing herself and focusing on Cecil. "Don't worry about clothes. Worry about safety. You're in the Hedge. There are safe places and unsafe places. Right now, we're in an unsafe one. I can explain more when we aren't likely to be attacked by another pack of those wolves." She pushes up to her feet and gestures for Cecil to follow her before she turns, walking towards Weaver to thwack a hand against the back of his head. "Hey, Captain Insensitive. She's not sure she's out of her fucking Durance yet. Look at her face." She knows that suspicion, clear as day. "Threatening her is going to make her join you, just like it wouldn't have worked on you when you were fresh." She glances to Olivia, expression impossible to read, but there's a certain level of relief in her eyes that even she can't hide. Or isn't bothering to. "You don't have to trust that this isn't a game. You don't have to trust anything other than your instincts. Do your instincts say that you are better on your own?" She gestures to the one wolf that Liv took out. "Or are you safer with me?" She gestures to the rest of the pack around her. "You have a choice. Make it fast."
Olivia pauses as she inches back a bit, posture shifting. At the moment, she looks very much like a terrified, caged creature. "You can try. But I like being alive. You're not going to drag me anywhere. I'm not going to fucking DIE HERE." She has no idea where she is. As far as she knows, she's where she has been the entire time; in The Borrower's realm. And there's no way Weaver could be there.
Olivia's eyes snap over in Velvet's direction as she begins to speak, now-blue eyes blinking a few times as she listens, keeping a 'safe' distance between herself and the two illusions. They have to be fake. She thinks, processing the question for a few moments before nodding slowly. "...alright... which way?"
Weaver stops as Velvet warns him. His growling remains, something else bubbling beneath the surface. He takes several deep, smoky breaths, wings tucked in as he steps forward again. "A man took you, Olivia. He looked a lot like, but had grey scales. I don't know what he told you, but you were taken. Like me." Then a a hand is pointed to his wife. "Like Velvet. I have fallen for a lot of bullshit lately, but I believe that this is the real you, Liv." He needs to believe it lest he spiral further. There's a vault near the top of the mountain. THrough that and we can go to the lakehouse or the hotel." While Cecil doesn't speak for Olivia he seems trusting enough to follow them. It's better to say follow Velvet. The sight of Weaver's snarling, scaled visage does not make him the slightest bit happy, and he hids behind Velvet. "I'll go, but stay there." He points further ahead. "All the way over there."
Velvet pauses for a moment to reach out and take Weaver's hand, giving him a little bit of a squeeze. Supportive and warning at the same time. "I'll scout ahead, I need you to stay behind the group and keep from anyone sneaking up the back." Also, he's scaring Cecil, and Cecil seems to have been there for Liv's escape, so he's getting a big of respect tossed in his direction from the woman. Appreciation. "Like he said, top of the mountain. We shouldn't stop until we get there." She grabs the grenade launcher and tosses it over a shoulder, preparing her pistols at either side of her hips. "Keep the claws out and the armor up, you might need then again," she tells Liv.
"He told me...." Olivia trails off, thinking. It's been a while ago now. What did he tell her? She looks thoughtful, the sound of ice crackling quietly surrounding her before her eyes return to him. "He told me it was your fault." The statement doesn't seem to sound accusatory, at least. Her head turns again, looking up towards the mountain as both Velvet and Weaver give the same suggestion. It's the same landmark she was aiming for anyway. May as well tag along. Strength in numbers. "Not the first time," she mutters in response to Velvet's suggestion to be prepared.
Weaver takes that hand and that polite suggestion, and moves towards the rear. As he passes Cecil the other scaled Changeling gets a long hard look, and his shadows are as weird and Wyrd as usual. This sends a shiver down Cecil's spine, nad he hurries after Olivia and Velvet. "Is he gonna eat us? He looks like he might eat us."
"He came from the same place you just came from. Seeing you is a hard reminder for him. On top of the fact that his cousin was kidnapped and brought there... he's not in a good place. But he won't hurt you. He'll just glower." Velvet pauses, giving Cecil a once over. "You'll learn to do it yourself soon enough." She starts to lead the way towards the peak of the mountain, careful eyes sweeping the landscape for traps, pitfalls, and enemies. She glances towards Olivia for just a moment before refocusing. "It's only been about a week since the reception," she notes in a strange tone. "How long has it been for you?"
Olivia thinks for a few moments at Velvet's question, watching the other woman warily. "Longer than a week," she says drily. Her head turns slightly, glancing back towards Weaver as he follows along, still not entirely certain if she's following the pair into a trap of some kind. But she's going to be ready if she is. "Couple months, maybe? I stopped counting. The sun didn't always set. I didn't sleep a LOT."
Weaver reminds silent as he trails them. He shapes the hedge around them as they move. Plants growing higher, shadows reaching longer. It doesn't help that it's raining like hell right now. Cecil doesn't much like nor him. Even if Velvet's fairly high herself she's a better bet than Weaver not to be a keeper somehow. When they reach a what looks like a normal, antural rocky face Weaver whispers something, and a rock slides away to reveal the entrance to his Hollow. Inside, the golden walls are covered in vines, and much the earth below has been left untended as plants grow ithout boundary. Several racks, tables, and other manner of presentation are all around in this place, and past that are three doors. He stops at the left-most one, turning to the group. "Hotel or house, Liv?"
"I would have prefered that it was no time. But a couple months is better than the alternative, I suppose." Velvet doesn't sound happy about it though. As they find the hollow, she steps aside, tucking the guns back into their hiding spots. "You guys go first, I'll take up the rear to cover the exit.
Olivia pauses just outside the hollow, hesitating. Going inside is going to narrow her routes of escape. She shifts, fidgeting outside the door as she weighs her options. Her fingertips drum against her leg, a quiet tinkling sound of ice on ice. "I... don't know," she says slowly. "House I guess?" Fewer people. Better security.
Weaver nods, and moves away from the left door. "Home it is." He steps towards the center door, and it opens to reveal Weaver and Olivia's bedroom. Which, unsurprisingly, has not really been slept in for the last two weeks. "We can talk more later, but after you wake up we need to have a long, long conversation about Dietrich."
"Dietrich is the man that grabbed you," Velvet explains to Olivia as she waits for the others to go into the door. "Once we get through, let me know what you need to make yourself feel comfortable. Weapons or whatever." Making sure that Olivia knows that nobody is trying to take away power from her. Just give it. It's what helped her when she first came out; Having choices. They'll get Cecil set up too, with clothes and somewhere to sleep. But for right now, she just wants to get everyone safe.
"...I don't know who that is," Olivia tells Weaver. Velvet's explanation does little to enlighten her. The familiar sight of home softens some of the paranoia, the small spark of hope brightening a bit as she looks between Weaver and Velvet. It may not be HER room, but she recognizes it readily enough. She looks back the way they came, trying to process fully what's happening. "This... this is actually the way out?" One hand rises, a single finger pointing at the door as she steps towards it. "That's it?"
"Way out? Kinda. Sorta. This is my Hollow, and this is my house. You've seen the house before, but-" Weaver doesn't get teh rest out as Cecil goes barreling past him to run into the house. It doesn't take long, and the sound of the fridge opening and much of the contents being moved around. "Gonna kill him," Weaver grumbles while following after the Beast.
"Try to remember when you first got out," Velvet tells Weaver with a sigh as he heads into the hollow and towards home. She pauses, her eyes lingering on Olivia as the woman points. Her head slowly bobs, just once. "It is," she assures. "I think it's high time that you got to go home."
Olivia watches as Cecil goes running past, a somewhat incredulous look given. That's probably not the wisest action, but. She just shakes her head a bit and moves forwards towards the door, pausing just briefly before stepping through and returning to the familiar house. It's going to be a long night.