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The Painted Desert, Arizona

September 22nd, 2020

14:00 PM


Doctor Alexander Macedon stepped out of the van, and into the bright light of the Arizona desert.  If his heavy backpack weighed him down in old age, he didn't show. He was an older man, having pushed past 70 some years ago. He would tell anyone that bothered to ask that he was retired, and yet, he was, standing in the Painted Desert once again. Once again, the headmistress had convinced him to take a group of students on a survival class.


He could only hope that it went better than the last time.


Macedon's hair was thinning and grey, bordering on white. His beard was cut short, barely more than stubble. His left eye was hidden behind an eyepatch, with horn-rimmed glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. He wore khaki pants, a white dress shirt that was already starting to stain from sweat. His boots were heavy, but solid. Dressed for the weather. His well worn cowboy had was held in his hand, lightly fanning his face. He wore a slightly oversized revolver in a holster on the right side of his belt.


Turning to the van, he grumbled something, before speaking up. "Alright, hurry up and get out here, kids. We don't want to waste more sunlight than we have to." 


The students were even younger than the ones in last batch. Fine. He'd deal with that. More of them were just regular people, no powers, just training or tech. He could respect that. He had even allowed them to bring their gear, as long as they carried it themselves. For emergencies, of course. Not just for the regular class.


"Rule number one: I give an order, you follow that order. This is a survival class. You're going to learn how to survive if you ever end up in a place like this. No buts, if or maybes. As far as you're concerned, I am in charge."

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I thought that in the desert we want to avoid as much sunlight as we can, actually.” There was a smirk on Luke’s lips as he jumped down from the van. Finally by the way, they had to ride like for how  many hours? To get to a freaking desert? For survival class? Come on!


He stretched his arms, very deliberately before adjusting his backpack on a shoulder. His clothes, a white tank top, gym shorts, worn sneakers and a faded baseball cap, were already beginning to get soaked in sweat. Great 


Of course boss.” The smirk was still there, obviously together perhaps with a hint of mockery.  Sure the Doc’s old cowboy look kinda gave him an ok vibe in Luke’s books (plus that guy had an eyepatch come on! He must have had some cool story to tell.), yet the sixteen years old wasn’t exactly receptive to the whole, drill sergeant speech. He has had enough of those when he was in Juvie after all.


So what are your orders boss?

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Madame Raven

Knowing what to expect Callie put on a pair of shades before putting on a sun-hat, you dressed for the weather however much she’d like a comfortable hoodie right now. Every year since she was little the family had gone out camping in the wild, so she had a pretty good idea of what to do in most environments. But she was happy to let the old man, even if chances were she knew more than him. Her father couldn’t help but try and prepared her for anything.


A little sun is good for you, just make sure you use plenty of sunscreen.”


As she stepped out of the van she shoulder her rucksack which contained all her survival gear, as well as her costume just in case trouble started.

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Nevermore II


Charlie was dressed very differently from the others. A pair of khaki shorts, sure. A bright red t-shirt with a big picture of Daedelus on the chest. Aviator sunglasses, a black cap with a white exclamation mark on the front. It made sense. But under it all, he wore a dark suit, his full costume, with the cowl hanging from his neck. You could just see the top of the teal raven's beak peeking up from under the neck of the t-shirt.


"Man, I don't know what the rest of you are complaining about. Its nice and cool here."


He swung his old worn out backpack over his shoulders, having already checked the contents in the van. The survival gear they were allowed to bring, the rest of his costume, his utility belt... 


Survival class, where he could use his tech, including the fancy costume that Alek had put together for him? The one with the thermal underlayer? 


Yeah, no problem at all.

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You make do with what you have.

Climbing out of the van Zach was almost the perfect image of someone wasn't quite as prepared as they wanted. Sporting Denim shorts, a grey T-shirt with a stylized graphic  of Doc Metropolis working very hard at rebuilding a jenga tower, worn-out sneakers, and a normal school backpack that looked absolutely packed to near bursting. Though to be fair it was currently holding his folded down armor inside it so it probably had only the absolute bare essentials in it otherwise.

Finally though he couldn't resist the small tease that'd been sitting in his minds lap for the entire car ride.
"Charlie just want you to know, friend to friend, i'm going to laugh really hard if that suit starts to chafe after we've been hiking." Zach playfully jabbed before looking towards Macedon and the others.
"So Bossman, is taking pictures during the trip a no go? Or can we take as many as we'd like if we don't fall behind?" Not that he meant to take a whole lot of pictures...well okay maybe if the girls wanted to. Actually brain can you not. That'd be great. Focusing a bit more at the task at hand he couldn't help but notice the upscaled revolver hanging on their chaperones hip.
"Anything we got to worry about out here that needs your revolver to match Dirty Harry's?

Edited by RedSpine
forgot a word
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Muirne was glad that she hadn't worn her armour, as she was already suffering from the heat and wearing maille would probably have killed her. Instead she was wearing a loose white silk shirt that covered her arms and an airy long skirt, all to keep the sun off her skin. She was slathered in sunscreen and was still worried that she would be burned to a crisp. She knew how to survive in the wild, but she had learned to live in the wild in England. She'd read into how to survive in a desert so she was also not sure why he was talking about wasting daylight, since by all accounts it was better to travel at night.

"Wouldn't it be better to travel at night? In a real survival situation we might not have sunscreen, and the heat would dehydrate us." She walked up to join the group, and might have glared up at Charlie's back as he bragged about his gear, but she would deny it if asked. She picked up her bag, approaching Doctor Macedon. "Could you please explain your reasoning Bodere1 Macedon?"


1 Teacher

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"Call me Macedon. None of that boss or sir language." He seemed genuinely annoyed at the nicknames. With everyone out of the van, he inspected them once more, even if he didn't share his thoughts about them with, well, any of them.


"Stayin' in the shadow is good an' all, but you won't always have that luxury." He seemed to fade for a moment, like he was lost in a memory. "Some times, it might be a race to survive. You might be hunted. Or the temperatures at night might be freezing. This is how we do things in this class. We move during daylight. There's strange things in the Painted Desert at night, and I see no reason to test our luck."


He pulled out a map and held it high. "Now, do any of you city kids know how to read a map? Who's up for giving it a shot?"

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Sunscreen? Never needed it.”  There was a cocky grin on his lips. Well… He was used to spend a lot of time outside, but not exactly in the desert though, whatever.


Show off.” He chuckled as he gave Charlie a playful nudge. “Not that there's anything wrong with that.” Yeah, what was the point otherwise right? He smirked.


Yeah, right?” He laughed at Zach’s teasing. 


At least it looked like he was not the only one who had picked what were pretty much just street clothes for their adventure in the desert (more for a lack of choice to be honest, but whatever). 


Hey that’s exactly what I thought… Great minds think alike you know?” Another smirk. 


Cool. Macedon. Fine boss.” Luke chuckled. 


Makes sense, guess we won’t always have a choice.” He ruffled the hair on the back of his neck. Not that he expected to be chased in the desert anytime soon, but then again… 


Strange thing happening at night? Can be cool… what is it about Mr. Macedon?” It did feel like one more reason to stay after dark didn’t it? 


Now Luke Landers wasn’t exactly the type who volunteered while in class (more like the one who did his best to pretend that he was invisible, given his far from stellar relationship on the matter of academics), but they were not in class that day and well, he had always felt more confident with more practical stuff.


Sure why not. Let me take a look…”  It didn't feel so hard, yeah, most of the symbols and lines were easy to read after all. "So where are we going, exactly?"

Edited by Nerdzul
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  • 2 weeks later...

Madame Raven

Of course I do give me a moment.” she took her cell out and mimed checking the thing “Oh wait we’ve got no signal we must be well out in the boon docks! How primitive!” she grinned and waved her phone about for emphasis.


In fact she was a fairly skilled at map reading and orientation, another thing her dad insisted on her practising. Better on the urban streets than the desert, but she was no slough either.


If no one else want to though I can give it a try. I’m a city girl after all!”

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Well between Luke and Callie it looked like the map situation would be handled somehow. Should he have jumped to the chance to check the map? Probably. With his perfect memory he'd even be able to redraw it later if it somehow managed to get lost. This was a whole team class thing though so he'd put his faith in the two of them to get things sorted out, or get yelled at by the worlds grumpiest fossil. Either or. Until that was figured out however he figured he'd do the other part of any good team building thing and get to know the rest of the team. Which if he excluded Charlie left him with Muirne. Which was great as he hadn't had much a chance before or during the drive to get to know either of the girls so there was no better time than now.

"Hey, uh, Muirne right? Want help getting anything out of the van?" He asked as he turned towards the Celtic Redhead. Then patting his still obviously stuffed bag asked "Need help carrying anything? I've still got a bit more I can haul around."

Yeah, that last bit totally landed as a joke. Nailed that ice breaker.

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Nevermore II


"Not as bad as your armor, buddy," Charlie shot back at Zach with a grin, while he hiked up his backpack. 


He followed him to Muirne, shaking his head. "C'mon, man. You gotta get across the desert, you're already lugging around your armor, at least put that thing down before you try to show off." Charlie grinned, before motioning with his head towards the others. "Looks like we're about to go, you guys coming?"

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Muirne shaded her eyes as Luke and Callie looked at the map. She'd seen modern maps and couldn't read them any better than most people, they were just too different from the maps she was used to. She hefted her heavy pack, armour was so much lighter when you wore it, but she knew that it would be a mistake to wear it for a trek through a desert. At least the stave of her spear could work as a walking stick while the head rested in her bag, and if worst comes to worst, she could probably hide under her shield for some shade. She smiled at Zach as he offered to take her bag, "Yeah, I'm Muirne. I'm pretty sure we're supposed to carry our own gear in this class, and yours already looks pretty heavy. I'm sure I'll manage. Thank you for offering though."

She looked over to Charlie as he spoke, "I'm pretty sure you're the only person who's better off wearing their armour right now. But I'm coming." She shrugged on her pack, wriggling slightly when the handle of her father's knife poked her in the back. "I must admit to also being curious as to what you mean by strange things happening at night, Bodere Macedon. Is it dangerous, and if so will setting up camp be safe?" She pushed back on her well of shadows as her apprehension at being in the desert rose. She was pretty sure a couple hairs had turned black there. She needed better control.

Edited by Kaede Kimura
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"There's lots of strange things anywhere you go, kids. This place ain't that different. That's all ya need to know about that right now. But don't worry, long as we follow the map, everything'll be just fine." Macedon seemed confident, at least.


With Callie and Luke gathered close, he pointed at the map. "Y'see the marking there? About 7 miles to the North? There's a cave that should be safe to spend the night. We're gonna take a few days to get to Red Rocks, then we'll go home, if all goes according accordin' to plan."


He rolled the map, holding it out towards Luke and Callie, waiting for one of them to take it.


"Alright, lead the way then."


The path wouldn't be easy, but at least the mountains remained in place, giving Callie and Luke some good points to navigate by. Macedon was strict and rough, but more than willing to help whenever any of the students faltered, with the map being passed among them all along the way.


By the time the group reached the cave, night was starting to fall. The darkness came quickly in the desert, and with the darkness, the temperature started to drop rapidly.


Once inside the cave, Macedon put his backpack down and pulled out an old oil lamp. He lit it with a match, casting the entrance of the cave in light. "Alright, we stay in here, stick close to each other. Nobody leaves line of sight." The cave stretched into the darkness behind them.

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You really are a player man.” Luke chuckled, giving Zach a nudge on a shoulder. “Can’t blame you, though.” He added playfully.


I bet… that we are gonna see those things tonight am I right boss?” Yeah it made sense, after all why bring them somewhere with a supernatural phenomena (or whatever that was that happened at night) if they had no chance to partake. Besides he was gonna take a look anyway, the cat was out of the bag now.


Seven miles? That's easy. Let’s go.”  He happily traded the map back and forth with Callie on the way. “Woah looks like you are great at this, where did you learn?” He tossed casually after a while.


Wasn't as easy though... Seven miles in the desert... Not a walk in the park, but all in all the young man didn’t mind, he kept tossing teases here and there to his friends and in general feeling chatty most of the way. Beside the ‘big lizard’ part of him did enjoy basking under the sun anyway.


Things swiftly changed however when the sun went down. (sundown on the desert was awesome by the way) “Woah.” Yeah sure, he had heard that the nights were gonna be colder, but didn’t really expect such a massive shift. Suddenly he found himself pretty jealous of Charlie’s insulated armor, the thin layer of fabric on his own skin wasn’t gonna be as effective. Come on Luke man up.


So we are like camping here tonight?” He left his backpack on the ground, close to Macedon’s. “I can make the fire.” He offered smirking. Yeah assuming they had stuff to burn around there though.


Really? An oil lamp? Like in a freaking movie. He chuckled as his eyes got accustomed to the darkness, scanning the cave well beyond the pale circle of light of the lamp, curtesy of his monstrous nature.


We are not gonna explore this?” He tossed casually as he absentmindedly rubbed his bare shoulders to try to shrug off the chill.

Edited by Nerdzul
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Muirne looked quizzically at Luke as he talked about Zach being a 'player', but decided to let the issue rest. She listened intently to Macedon's explanation, a slow dread coiling in her gut. Was this place magical? What might happen at night if they got lost of separated? She swallowed dryly as he explained their path and goal, praying that Luke and Callie would lead them without issue, as while she shared Luke's confidence about the distance she was less sure of the terrain.


She was right about the terrain. The sun was hot, the air was dry and the heat was unbearable. At least the company wasn't bad, as she listened to the others trading jokes and teases. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to happen after sundown, and spent a lot of time trying to push back at the well of shadows to stop from transforming. It wasn't like it'd help her under the scorching sun anyway.


Muirne started shivering as the sun set, both from the cold and the fear that whatever Macedon had spoken of would arrive before they arrived at the cave. She wanted to stop and put on her warmer clothes, but stopping would delay them, and she wasn't willing to slow down. She pushed herself harder as the darkness grew, eyes darting around unhampered by the darkness. She wasn't above admitting that she sighed in relief as they arrived in the cave, glad to be where Macedon claimed they'd be safe. She surveyed the cave the same as Luke, but didn't share as much of his desire to explore it, although she'd be lying if she said she wasn't at least slightly curious as to the interior of the cave. Whatever might be outside of it could go straight to hell though. She opened up her pack to pull out a jacket quickly, not wanting to be cold anymore now that she wasn't desperately hoping to get to the cave on time.

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Nevermore II


"A nice cave, huh?" Charlie looked around the dimly lit cave, shooting a grin in Callie's direction. "Almost feels like home."


The others had some good questions about the place, mostly about the things in the dark and exploring the cave. Charlie's first impressions of most of them not being used to taking orders seem to stick, which, alright, that was fair. Not everyone was going to find someone like the Raven to train them, and questions should be asked, but... well... maybe they should find out about the first before starting to explore the deep cave?


"Yeah, c'mon. What's the story here. This is the Painted Desert, what is it, some old magic monsters or something like that roaming around?"

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"Or something." Macedon glared at Luke and Charlie. "We're not gonna explore any caves here, kids. We stay put by the light, wait for the day, and then we leave. Sleep and rest, you're gonna need it tomorrow. There's nothing out there any of you need to worry about while I'm here."


There was something in the darkness, as Muirne. Nothing she could see. But something she could feel. Something that called to her, beckoned her. 


Muirne alone could hear a tiny little voice from further inside the cave.


"Help us."


Outside the cave, the wind was starting to pick up, and sand was starting to whirl.

Edited by RocketLord
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Show off? Player? The heck were charlie and Luke..oh.OH! They thought he was flirting with Muirne. Well that wouldn't be very hard explai-oh god thinking about it it did sound like he was flirting!
A distinct blush crossed his face as the realization set in and he hurriedly adjusted his pack again and jumped at the quickest opportunity to change the subject he could find.
"Right, Yeah uhh I'm coming just uhh.. adjusting bag again. Yep. Ready to go!"
CRUD now what!? If he followed to close behind Muirne to keep chatting with her it'd look like he was some kind of creep, but if he trailed behind it'd look like he was avoiding her. Oh and the ornery dinosaur would get mad and he did NOT need that for the whole trip. Okay new plan. Fall just a bit back enough if he could that there was someone between him and her. Totally plausible then that it was just how the marching line would shake out! Yep and any red in the face was just the heat. They'd buy that he hoped.
The 7 miles felt much longer once they actually got underway and it felt like an extra small blessing when the heat of the day helped disguise any lingering embarrassment blush with good old fashion post workout flush. It was with no small amount of relief when they finally reached the cave and he could take a moment get off his feat for just a few minutes at least. The cold didn't bother him as much either. It was chilly yeah and he did rub his arms a bit to warm up a touch but he did still have his armor in case things got bad enough. With the winds picking up Zach found his annoyance with their chaperone increasing. Dude was bossy as anything and reminded him of every adult who'd ever said they were right simply because they were the adult.
"If there's something out here that could be a detriment to our survival shouldn't we be learning how to deal with them? Or at least told what to look out for so we don't do something on the level of using poison ivy as TP out of ignorance?"


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Of course he was flirting right? Why else would Zach’s cheek turned to a reddish hue otherwise? That said, good for him. Luke did the best to restrain himself just to a couple of small teases here and there, innocent stuff.


God it was getting cold, the young man did the best not to show it, but then again, there was little he could do. He fumbled in his backpack for his hoodie (he kinda remembered that the desert was gonna be colder during the night, but definitely didn’t expect that he was gonna actually need a jacket or something). Better than nothing I guess…


He threw a sympathetic smile at Miurne who did look at least as unease as he was. “Didn’t think this was gonna be that cold either… First night in the desert for you too?


Sure thing boss.” Luke nodded enthusiastically. Of course he was gonna take a look later, well, unless something more interesting happened outside at least. He did wait for Mr. Macedon to turn away from him before throwing Charlie a glance and a mischievous smirk.


Still, I mean, don’t you have any story to share around the campfire or something? Come on Prof. you can’t tease us some big desert mystery and then not share a little…” He teased the professor.


The young man winced at Zach’s poison ivy example. Definitely something that was gonna hurt. “Yeah you are effing right man.” He tossed before he began helping out settling their camp.

Edited by Nerdzul
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Muirne looked quizzically at Charlie when he made the comment about the cave being 'Like home'. Did he live in a cave outside of the Dorms? Her train of thought completely derailed at his comment and Macedon's reply to it. She didn't take much comfort in his comment that they had nothing to worry about while he was there as she felt something out in the dark. Her breathing quickened as she tried to stay calm. She couldn't keep track of most of the talking, but gave Luke a wan smile and nodded hoping that he would assume that her trembling was from the cold.


Then she heard it, the voice from inside the cave. She felt her panic and anxiety spike. Breathing got harder and she could feel herself starting to sweat. Was it a trick of her mind? Some illusion meant to draw her away for whatever might be lurking deeper in the cave? Surely she couldn't risk going towards it and should just stay near the fire...


But if it was a person? She couldn't just leave people who needed help could she? She felt herself take the first step into the shadows before she could think about it. She remembered suddenly becoming aware, Dougal's fortress aging and crumbling in an instant, the mage vanishing instantly from sight to be replaced by people in strange clothes speaking an unknown language. Could she turn her back on them if they were trapped like she had been?


She couldn't, but she could at least be smart about this and let someone know what she was doing, where she was going. She doubted Macedon would let her help, so she couldn't tell him, so it had to be another student. Zach had seemed friendly enough, Charlie wasn't particularly bothered by the cold which would help as it would probably be even more so in the cave, and she knew Luke could see in the darkness and had worked with him before when things had gone down at the mall. She stepped further into the darkness, quickly fishing her costume and spearhead out of her bag, taking her Father's knife to be safe, since she didn't want to leave it behind. Muirne started moving faster into the cave, leaving her bag at the edge of the light for someone to spot and marking her path with her discarded clothes as she donned her armour while she moved.


"Can you hear me? I'm coming to help you, just hold on a little bit longer!" Muirne called as she started attaching the spearhead to the shaft, shield affixed to her arm and armour secured upon her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Luke always wondered why dragons in myths and tales actually lived in caves, cramped places, which was definitely not a plus when you are a massive lizard, not enough space to stretch your wings or fly (huge disadvantage if you asked him), damp and cold (again lizards…), maybe they needed all that space to store all of their treasures. Yeah would be cool to have one. Whatever it was still better than waiting outside anyway.


He was doing his best to help out with setting up camp, with very little experience on the matter, but not lacking in enthusiasm himself when he noticed that something was amiss. Muirne was, gone? What the hell was going on? He could see the path of discarded clothes though, leading into the darkness and that of course got plenty of ground to his teenage imagination about the current situation. More realistically though, she could be in trouble. Now, sure, Mr. Macedon has told them not to go around exploring, but it was not like listening to the teachers had ever been his forte.


Quietly, using a moment when most of the others were distracted, he slipped into the dark, threading lightly on his feet, following the path toward the red-haired shadowbinder. Was it her voice he was listening to in the dark. “Hey…” He whispered once he was sure he had finally spotted her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Madame Raven

Someone weird was going on, though to be fair something weird was always going on. Not that she wasn’t going to help, but she was a Summers and that meant being prepaired for trouble.


We should probably be a little careful if we’re going in there…”


She quickly found and got out her small, but powerful torch and flipped on the red filter before turning it one. She made sure to hide the light so not bring any attention from the others or anyone in the cave, as before she wander if she could take something like this back with her to the 80s when she eventually returned


Don’t want to trip and turn an ankle after all, shall we go and see what's going on down here shall we?”

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Nevermore II


"So, what're we doing?" Charlie had heard them, first Muirne, then Luke and Callie... all leaving one by one, while Macedon slept, or at least seemed to sleep. So of course he had snuck up behind them, after making sure he still had his gear under his clothes, at least.


He frowned, looking ahead. "Did something spook her, the way she geared up?" Or maybe she just wanted to be ready?

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"What the hell?" With only Zach left behind, Macedon had finally stirred and noticed that most of the students were gone. "Wake up!" he shouted, his voice echoing through the caves and reaching the group that had split away. "Get up, get whatever you need and follow me." The old man moved far quicker than one would expect anyone at his age to move, quickly strapping on his belt and a holster with a revolver, then pulling out a flashlight and starting to move into the cave once Zach was ready.


"Help us."


Muirne could hear the voice, calling out to hear. It sounded almost like a child.


"Help us."


Muirne was further ahead. Somehow, no matter how fast Callie, Luke and Charlie moved, they just couldn't catch up.


The path was winding, twisting and turning. Nothing seemed to break the darkness, even those that could normally see in the dark was blind as bats. On and on the path went. Before long, everyone else started to hear the voice as well.


"Help us."


The single voice, calling out for help from inside the darkness.


And then, suddenly: Light.


Muirne was the first to reach the end of the cave, an exit into a bright day. She could see grass and trees. If she left the cave, she would notice a city all around them, one that seemed strangely familiar, and yet different. 


In the distance, she could hear the sounds of battle.


It wouldn't be long before the second group caught up and reached the mouth of the cave, while Macedon and Zach were still in the dark.

Edited by RocketLord
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Muirne's focus was devoted on following the voice, missing the whispers of the people behind her. She wasn't going to leave a child who needed help. She continued quietly calling out to the voice attempting to reassure them. She briefly paused when she realised she couldn't see, even despite her darkvision. She continued on into the shadows after the moment of confusion, seeing for the first time what people meant about something being too dark to see. She tried using the flashlight she carried with her before quickly finding that the light didn't penetrate the darkness either.


And then, suddenly: Light.


Muirne blinked several times to clear the sudden blindness, her eyes adjusting to the world that had suddenly changed around her. She looked around, shocked to find herself back in Freedom City in the middle of a battle. Something in the back of her mind tried telling her that the city was different, that it wasn't the place she knew but she quickly put it aside. She didn't know how she got here, but she had to help. She needed to get any people out of the way of the battle.

Freedom City wouldn't face the same fate as her village did.


Steeling herself she started to run towards the sound of the battle, spear and shield in hand.

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