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Kalmuli

Into the Unknown (Svanhild: Fenwyld to Ilvor)

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After the fall of the Uldwars...

Ingrid had come off of Mt. Ego a defeated Mage and even worse...unemployed. After the fall of the House of Uldwar, losing her student Luis and having no home to return to, Ingrid looked out to other areas far, far out of the way where she could study what had happened to the land once the Elemental had died. It felt like the whole of Ursa Madeum had been turned upside down, the magics uncontrolled seeming throughout this kingdom of Svanhild. Almost everything had been wiped from what was left of the Uldwars save for few who had memory of them. That and she had to evacuate and abandon the beautiful school she had left behind after becoming the HeadMaster, sending students to one of the safer branches far, far away. Left in a burning wasteland with magic out of control, Ingrid had fled.

Without an Elemental in place, she would never be able to return to Misral...and with her ties to the old family that had ruled there and having fought the Oathsworn from trying to kill it...Ingrid had gained an unfavorable reputation. Her noble family had been wiped away, everything of her past employment now under ash and flames.  The only choice she had was to run, get away and not look back. Her son Camille had started school already under Kalmuli's care...it left her more time to figure out what to do. Find an elemental? Find a new noble family to serve? Her travels had lead her to find about a city of Fae that lay behind the Fenwylds. It was a place where she could recover and give her some peace while she regained herself....get back to her roots. 

Being Fae herself, an elf, she wouldn't have much trouble getting through the Fenwylds...but she wasn't so sure about her sanity. Ingrid had made herself a base camp outside of the Fenwyld to give herself some time to ready herself. Gathering materials for potions, meditating and reading over old manuscripts...but it was just delaying the inevitable. She would have to go where the other Fae wandered and she wasn't sure if even just being an Elf would be enough. "Gods...What am I doing..."Ingrid said, bringing her hands up to her face after having been at a mortar and pestle grinding herbs for more potions. "What in the seven hells am I doing..."

Ingrid brought her hands down away fro her face, sniffing and wiping at her face while she sat alone in her tent. "I can't keep just...putting it off..."She said to herself, looking through the gap in her tent that had a full view of the beginning of the Fenwyld.  She could hear whispers...things checking her out, finding out what she was doing. What kind of creatures or Fae they were, she didn't know...but she hadn't slept in three days and ate very little from it.  The last thing she wanted to do in this state was to have something approach her with the intent to do harm...least she lose herself again. "Tomorrow has to be it...Tomorrow...or I just...find somewhere else. Ilvor can't be the only Fae city in Svanhild..."

 

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Ingrid had packed her things, taking her time early in the morning. She was delaying the inevitable. Being meticulous was just dragging out her time for leaving into the Fenwyld. Ingrid finally packed the last thing, looking to the forest with concern. It was misty this morning, creating a dense fog into the forest and out to the field she had been staying in. The fog reached out everywhere like fingers and Ingrid could see her breath in the cooler air slipping out in front of her in warm clouds. Ingrid wrung her hands on her mage's staff, looking up at the stone. After the fall of Misral, it hadn't glowed the same since...It was usually a beautiful amber hue when it glowed but not it just seemed like an ugly brown rock.

The elf looked back to the forest, swallowing thickly and starting to move forward. She watched as fields turned to forest, Ingrid completely dwarfed among the enormous trees.  The ground was damp, smelling heavily of rot, fungi and moss. As she moved in deeper, the voices seemed to get quieter. Ingrid had moved in a few yards, waiting a moment and looking upwards. The sounds of whispers had stopped...maybe it was because she was an elf that they didn't so much care to play tricks or mind games. 

All that fear seemed to melt away when the forest fell quiet. 

It wasn't that scary...right?

Ingrid swallowed, reaching into her robes still and pulling out a piece of parchment. It was a map about the forest but it was very vague. She took a moment to sit on the roof of a tree, running her fingers over the various trails. The map was fairly old and full of holes...the person she got it from said he had been through the forest many, many times...but all the paths he had marked out were different. Some over lapped, some went in circles and others just seemed to get to the middle of the forest and then right back around to the exit where she had started. 

"This...makes absolutely no sense..."Ingrid muttered. She looked into the forest and then back to the map. Wrapping up the map, Ingrid got up and started walking deeper into the woods. The woods seemed to come alive away from the fields and she heard the sounds of all the birds that had made this place home. She heard the lonesome hoots of owls that were just getting ready to go to bed, the chirps of early morning birds...all these sweet things belied the truth of the Fenwyld...you were never really alone. There was always something watching you.

Ingrid had heard many rumors about getting lost and there were many hidden items. Most were just clues or tools to find Ilvor...but if you couldn't find them and even a map held no clues...where was she supposed to turn? Ingrid had the instincts of a legless badger when it came to navigating. She could only hope that maybe going in a straight line through the Fen would have some kind of sense.

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Posted (edited)

Ingrid had walked for hours in as straight a line as possible. She marked her path with clear signs she had been there, only leaving just the faintest mark. If she ended up passing it more than once, the spot would glow brighter...and Ingrid had passed the same tree eight times. By the ninth, the light was almost as intense as a street light in the dark. She  sighed, looking at the glowing sigil. She sighed and sat down beneath it. She felt exhausted. Ingrid looked down to the soil that, after a while of walking noticed that whenever she walked seemed to move like she was walking on water even if it felt like soil.  When she looked up, she swore she had seen fish darting among the leaves and the songs of whales crying sweetly among the trees. Still...other than being tossed around and lost in the Wyld themselves, she hadn't been threatened.

Rather, it seemed like she had been taken in wide circles.  She would pass places that she thought would lead her straight to the right path to the caves but she had never spotted them.  Ingrid took a break, using a moment to eat a bit of dried fruit. Something was keeping her from going to the caves...maybe it was a sign that she wasn't supposed to go? Maybe Ilvor was for someone who deserved to find it...She looked down to her feet, watching as the ground warped around like waves. A snapping sound made her head jerk up.

And she saw someone she didn't want to see. 

They were a short, white-haired elf. As beautiful and foreign as could be for an elf who was neither tall nor lean or graceful...dressed in black clothes and emerald green adornments. "M...Master Kalmuli..."She said with a frown and lowered her eyes again. 

"You let him die."

Ingrid stiffened.

"You let him die and you let the school burn..."

Her body just wanted to shrivel up and become part of the tree. 

"Archmage...Master Archmage...you might as well be the novice I raised from birth."

Ingrid looked up but the image of Kalmuli was gone. She got up, looking in horror and looking around. She heard another snap and turned to see Kalmuli there again this time up in one of the trees.  "Go figure you would  be lost in the woods...For Fey should be able to see beyond the veil...Your eyes have gone blind girl."

"I was doing it alone!"Ingrid shouted back, amber eyes brimming with frustrated tears. "A dozen Oathsworn and one archmage! I warned them...I told them to leave the mountain alone...It was my home...Master...My home was destroyed...and I lost...I lost Luis...He was just a boy..."

Ingrid sobbed. "I just...I wanted to protect them...That was my job and...and they...I was their adviser and they just..."

There was another crunch and the Kalmuli she was seeing was out of the tree and on the ground in  front of the tree. "Then they were fools...so start advising yourself."

The next Ingrid blinked, Kalmuli was gone but in the tree across form her was a face in the bark, eyes closed and contemplative.  Ingrid stared, looking around and only seeing wisps of fish and mist. She wiped at her face, gathering her things and making her leave of the space. Ingrid  ran off, tripping and fumbling through the brush. 

Edited by Kalmuli

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Wonderland. It seemed a more fitting name to him as he ducked under a branch, hands brushing a tree on his left as he easily navigated the roots around him. He kept a low stance, and a slow pace as to make little noise. Rat didn't really know where he was going, but he was determined to get there, one way or another. After a certain point, he knew he was lost, however. Any idea of a beaten path had escaped him and despite his attempts to memorize the area, it seemed to change around him instead, making his attempts in vain. Therefore, he was a ranger without a path. Something that couldn't make him more unhappy. The endless expanse of trees went on and on and at times seemed to drift out of sight, making a singular path forward. He tried to avoid seeing that, instead looking low and watching for some kind of sign.

And after hours, he did. Rat didn't often feel thankful, but at that moment, his heart skipped a beat. He managed to find the remnants of a trail. Someone had been travelling in what seemed to be a circle for a while now. He considered that as he picked up a broken twig and felt about the ground to find footsteps to follow. A circle was better than what he had, and finding out how they were managing it felt imperative to him. This place was draining on his senses and something felt alarmingly wrong about coming here. His initial plan to make a short visit was quickly turning him to desperation as he didn't know where he was or how to leave, and his time here was leaning on the side of 'I don't know.'

Once he had followed hints of a more obvious path, it wasn't long before he found her.

Ducking behind a tree, he took in a sharp few breaths and put his hand to his chest. 'Pointy ears?' He hadn't seen a woman like this before, tall and slender with long locks of brown curls that complimented her unexpected appearance. The word 'Elf' didn't even process for him, being an unfamiliar concept altogether to the young man. Her attire and tool too were of concern. He wondered if she were some sort of demi-human, touched by the fey, hopeful she wasn't a danger instead. He watched her eating for a moment, then begin speaking, seeming afraid. Following her gaze, he saw only a tree that she regarded.

"M...Master Kalmuli..."

He thought he heard something then, speaking back to her. Something otherworldly and utterly haunting spoke to her in a voice he could not understand. Malice, however, he could comprehend in any language. The tone of this being seemed to enjoy the terror it wreaked on her emotional state. The strange woman with her unexpected appearance began crying-something he didn't quite know what to make of. He didn't plan on comforting her, that wasn't something he could even do for someone else, let alone himself. So instead, he hid for a few moments longer, watching and waiting for the right moment. Instead, it drove her into quickly gathering her things and running off in a completely random direction. Rat gasped, and realizing the fleeting opportunity to not be alone in this place was about to vanish, he broke into a sprint from his hiding place.

No doubt terrifying the already crying woman, he came breaking through the brush directly behind her, and grabbed her by the right-arm with his right-hand as she stumbled while calling out, "Hold on!" He was moving too fast, and she was completely off-balance, making it no surprise when he pushed her down and fell on top of her. He smashed his left-hand into the ground as they fell, simply trying to avoid touching her face with his for even the briefest moment. He didn't want to harm her, he just didn't want to be alone here, and skin contact with him was all it took to be hurt by him. As a result of the fall, his hood came off, exposing his long, straight black hair which fell loosely along the sides of her face.

He held onto her right-arm tightly, though he looked away with a hint of embarrassment at his physical entanglement with a woman. It was an odd contrast to the forceful nature of his right-hand's grip on her arm while he kept his gaze turned from her while he spoke. "I'm not...I'm not going to hurt you." It seemed for him, saying that took effort. "So just...calm down, okay, dagger ears!?" He was very bad at being gentle.

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Ingrid had thought she had gotten away from the delusion but heard something following after her in the brush. She kept running, not looking behind her and felt something snag onto her right arm. She felt the wind be pulled out of her lungs with the sudden jerk that sent her falling backward with a big, black lump on top of her. She didn't know what it was but she felt more like a rabbit being caught by a predator, laying on her back stunned with this...thing on top of her. Her staff had fallen out of her hand into the bushes and her right arm pinned under his. She lay panting, looking upward to the forest canopy with a thousand-mile stare. She slowly brought her amber gaze over to what had caught her.

It looked human...no foreign ears poked out of the hair like a demon or an elf would. Ingrid was still trying to retrace what happened over the last minute. She had smacked her head rather hard on the fall, hissing and bringing her free left hand to touch the back of her head. "Oww...."She grimaced and looked up to him. He was so...tiny. How did a human this small manage to get her down on the ground?

Wait...

Ingrid moved her hand away, bringing it to his chest and feeling around. "Yo...you're real..."She said in relief, groping at his chest until she realized she was groping a man's chest and withdrew her hand closer to her chest. 

There was a man on top of her.

A short man on top of her. 

A short human man on top of her. In the woods. Alone with her. 

Her relief switched back to panic and horror.

And then to annoyance with his name for her. 

"D-d-d-dagger ears?!"Ingrid said, clearly insulted. "I'm an elf!"

She started jerk, not able to move for right now and looked up with him with an annoyed frown. Her panic was gone for now but she was still upset from the delusion she had seen earlier.  Ingrid brought her left hand to her face, sniffing and shuddered. "G...Get off of me...I...I don't like this..."

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Ingrid had gotten the strange boy off of her,  shoving him away  scrambling up and fleeing the scene. She ran through, not caring where she went but she needed to get somewhere. Anywhere. 

She must have ran miles, finally collapsing in exhaustion in an area that didn't seem familiar at all. She trembled, unable to control the shake of her hands and she lay on the ground. This was the worst.  She could feel the wet earth on her skin and her clothes clung to her sweaty body. After a few minutes she was able to push herself back up to her hands and knees. "This was a mistake..."She sniffed, leaning back and looking upwards to all the floating, whimsical looking fish above her. 

"Maybe I'm not worth finding it...What kind of fae am I that I can't even navigate the woods..."Ingrid said, wiping her face and just smearing mud on her face. She took the inside of her sleeve, wiping at her face and trying to get herself together. She hadn't cared what direction she ran...but she knew she was probably way far off from where she needed to be.  Kalmuli  would have torn her head off for being so foolish.

Now lost in the woods....she wouldn't see her...nor her son again. 

Ingrid had wanted to Ilvor to find some personal healing after the terrors she had witnessed at Misral...but the misery of Misral had just followed her there. Leaving her alone. For good. Ingrid sighed shakily, grabbing her staff and forcing herself back to her feet. She couldn't go backwards...but she could keep going forwards. A straight line would have to take her somewhere and she started into the woods again, melding into the dense fog with a limp. 

Ingrid would keep walking, hearing the drones of battles that that either did or didn't happen in the Fen. The fish danced in front of her face and above her, singing alien songs. She could hear more whispers in her ear, feeling like she was hearing foreign conversations from all over. Still...she tried letting her mind relax and focus just on the path ahead. One step in front of another. 

"Mama."

A child's voice made her stop. Ingrid raised her eyes, tears running down her face. In front of her was a little boy with thick, curly brown hair and big blue eyes. She knew who this was. Ingrid eased down to her knees, looking at the little boy. "Camille..."She whispered. "Why is it showing me you...You're supposed to be home..."

"Come home Mama..."

Ingrid started sobbing. She reached out for the little boy but he was always out of arm's reach. "I want to...I want to so much...but I'm so sick Camille...Mommy's broken. I couldn't save him...I could save the school...There's something wrong with me."She said, still reaching out but she could never hold him. "I just wanted to give you a good home...I just wanted to make everyone happy....I can't even make myself happy...and now..."

Her face contorted in pain and she dropped her hand into the dirt. "Forgive me Camille....Forgive me for being so stupid...Forgive me for letting our first home together burn...I want to get better...Please....Please wait for me."Ingrid cried, crumpling up on the ground again. 

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