A Daring Drive

Iniara walked out of the carriage as Ad'cero rested inside and found Im'os standing by. She chose the pillar, she should be fine soon.

The pillar? Im'os questioned even though he understood perfectly well what the pillar was, You haven't been so generous since-

I know, I know. Iniara held her hand to his lips, She obviously chooses strength over her own hope and fortune, which either one of the others would have immediately granted her. Iniara spied the area closely; it was still fairly early in the day. I believe she told us to cork the carriages and travel northeast to Crykst where the portal lies to Bishen Realm.

After Ad'cero awoke, strengthened and alert, the caravan began to brave the waters of the northern bay to Crykst.

Now, Crykst is a large island, Ad'cero, do you have any idea where the portal resides? Iniara requested from the old woman.

Ad'cero hesitated, I assume it would be directly on the western coast of the island, she nodded.

Well then, we will see...

The shortest path between Northern Rhul and the island of Crykst led to a small peninsula off to the west of the main island. There, Ad'cero directed the caravan to a secluded area surrounded by tall trees, however the inner area lacked lush plants and instead quite solitary with a short alter in the middle.

Ah... hehehe, here she is! Ad'cero joyfully recited to Iniara.

Similarly, Iniara smiled slightly, hidden to everyone else. Now then... how do we use this portal, Ad'cero? She knelt in front of the altar. There, foreign symbols marked either corner of the triangle. Let me think, what comes in threes?

Elements? Im'os prompted.

Iniara stared closer at the markings. Im'os, if they were elements, I think we could definitely distinguish between an air and fire marking... and disregarded that theory. Everyone leaned closer and examined the symbols once again and as Iniara inspected the symbols, she touched each one lightly, starting with the smallest and ending with the largest. It seems as if there is hierarchies as far as the symbols go. The bottom one looks much smaller of the other duplicates, where the middle one is strong and healthy and the last looks slightly disfigured, but they all have the same basic shape. Now if we take into consideration of which way the wind blows upon the-

Iniara? Im'os interrupts, but I think we somehow activated the portal...

Iniara looked up and noticed the scenery change. Instead of an open clearing, lush trees grew from every angle and almost covered the sky. My, my... how unique. How come I have never designed a thing like this, Im'os?

I am not certain, Mistress.

She picked up her staff and looked around. The trees are much taller here, and I thought Litor was a wild forest... her voice drifted off into the faint sounds of wind rustling through the tree leaves. In a momentary silence, she closes her eyes and drifts into deep thought. The air in this realm flowed freshly through her lungs and calmed her senses.

Ad'cero's urging cough disrupted Iniara's sense of purity. Are we to move on?

She rustled her robe slightly, Of course, I only hesitated concerning the path we shall forge next. Griping a small gem in her hand, she lifted her thin fingers and placed it on top of her staff. A weak, yet piercing glow emitted from the stone as Iniara whispered, Please show me the way to the Bishen...

Through the darkening forest, Iniara with Ad'cero and Im'os (along with her endless supply of guards) follow the way of the light blue gem. If turning to the wrong path, the gem's light would fade, and to the correct its light would grow stronger.

Up ahead are some strange bushes, your highness. Ad'cero asserted.

I can visualize that exactly, Ad'cero, Iniara growled, I am not blind! A tug at Iniara's garments followed by a rip captured the silence and Iniara stood in the darkness peering down at her ripped robe. Damn it, she replied, I have no time for this! She moved far from the outreached branch and tugged at the robe's end. A long tear starting from the base of the blue/silver material climbed Iniara's long legs. With one final tug, the loose fibers split apart and a misshapen rectangle of cloth laid still caught in the bush. Iniara bent down and picked up the tear, placing it snugly into one of her pockets, mumbling to her how she'll have to have someone sew it back together.

During this, Ad'cero stood motionless herself. And she thinks she will actually get an egg? Tr'ynka Valae is one rough dragon and just not any babysitter. She laughed to herself picturing the oversized dragon overwhelmed carrying many wyrms in his hands.

Who do you think you are, Ad'cero?! Iniara screamed in the dead of darkness. The old woman awoke from her daydream and stumbled on to the ground, terrified. Yes, pray to your Aille, Please save me from her strike! she mocked. That's right, fool. You are but a mortal. Heh.

I thought it would have been closer than this, Iniara spoke quietly in Ad'cero's direction. Her head was bent forward into her chest and she was leaning on her staff.

The old woman did not reply to Iniara, but thought silently to herself. What have I agreed to contribute? she stirred. Her feeble hands hung limply in front of her and by the light of the blue gem she could make out many years of blistering heat etched into her fingers.


A young girl ran up to Ad'cero as a younger form of the woman picked up the spirited girl, swung her around in the air and laid her feet back on the ground. The young girl wore a dusty red skirt and had lengthy legs dressed in white stockings that stretched to her small feet in her red slippers. Further up on her body, she wore a white blouse embroidered with red thread in the shapes of little roses all around the edges of the fabric. She was pale, freckled and thin in all areas of her body. Her smile stretched from one corner to the other and looked as if strung by her two pigtails on either side of her head.

Where are we going today, Mother?

The young girl grabbed young Ad'cero's right hand. Ad'cero knelt down without the pain of old age to face the girl eye to eye. Well Jyina (Jay-na), I thought we could go into Hearth today and buy something. How would you fancy another wooden pony for your collection? She pinched Jyina's left cheek.

Really, you mean it? Do we get to ride in the carriage with Bogart and Millie to Hearth? Please? I promise to be extra good! I don't think walking would be very fun.

Young Ad'cero acted like she pondered deeply about letting Jyina travel to Hearth in the Kujiin pulled carriage as Jyina's deep brown eyes gazed upwardly to her mother. If you promise to be very good, we can, she spoke slyly as a smile twinkled on her face.

Jyina and Ad'cero walked to the stables outside where their two Kujiin, Bogart and Millie, slept. Wake up Bogart! Get ready Millie! Jyina chirped from the barn door as Ad'cero opened up the hatches and began to ready the carriage. We are going to Hearth today, doesn't that sound like fun? she cooed as she petted Bogart's long, thin snout and ruffled Millie's braids.

Well, don't upset them, Jyina, Ad'cero asserted, Kujiin aren't very smart, you know.

Millie and Bogart are the best Kujiin I've ever known. They wouldn't get worked over someone like me! And she stuck her tongue out in Bogart's face.

In any way, go get the bridles and we will get on our way in a few minutes.

Ok, Mother! Jyina skipped over to the supply shelf and grabbed a few carrots along with Bogart and Millie's bridles and piled them up in her thin arms and carried them over to Ad'cero.

Thank you Jyina! Ad'cero chimed, You are always such a good child.

Ad'cero readied the kujiin and tugged them both outside by their bridles. Jyina hopped into the carriage seat and tied the kujiin to the wagon.

Now, be careful, Jyina. I'll be right back; I need to load the strubbleberries into the back. Ad'cero walked back into the barn and lifted two large buckets of strubbleberries up and carried them outside. Just as she was going to load them into the carrying case of the carriage, a large black creature flew in front of the Bogart and Millie.

A frightened Jyina created a long scream from the carriage. Mommy, there is some flying thing! Ah! Spooked by the weird animal, Bogart and Millie rose to their hind legs and began to neigh uncontrollably and shake the carriage from side to side. The weird animal bore his salivating fangs and flapped dark draconian wings. Moooommmmyyy! cried Jyina as Ad'cero dropped the berries on the ground and watched in anguish as Bogart and Millie sprinted off towards the flying canine with Jyina still sitting in the passenger seat.

Ad'cero ran behind the fleeing carriage and stomped over the berries with her slippers, calling to Jyina to jump out, but her breath soon escaped her lungs and she fell on to the ground, reaching towards her lost child. Jyina... she whispered.

Jyina, Ad'cero said louder this time as she remembered where she was again.

Jyina? Iniara questioned. No, I said we are here! She pointed through the bushes of the path. I think if I know anything about civilization, we are near a civilization! she laughed slightly. Ooh, look, I think that would be a dragon, my friend!

Friend? Ad'cero shrugged it off, must have been a reflex.

An old arboreal dragon hovered near the entrance that they arrived through and caught surprised by Iniara's arrival. And why are you here, maiden? he mind-spoke to Iniara and looked at the large caravan behind her. We don't normally receive such a large party to the Realm, not on regular days, and not usually on even Shantel days.

But kind sir, I am here to adopt a Hirgyae Clan egg, she smiled sweetly.

Taken aback, the red arboreal's eyes opened wide, Are you sure you know what you are getting yourself into, my dear?

Iniara tossed her head a little, pretending to act innocent, Why, whatever do you mean, sir?

Narrowing his eyes, the arboreal mind-spoke to Iniara, Don't take me as a fool. How else would you have even known about the Hirgyae Clan? You must have understood what was in store for a caretaker.

Her grin faded into her pale face, I seek council with Tr'ynka Valae.

After a long exchange between the old arboreal and Iniara, he allowed for her, Ad'cero and Im'os to enter the Realm; everyone else remained outside the gates and camped there for the night. The old arboreal led the trio to a cave on the other side of the Realm, far from the gate they arrived through, away from all the other members of the sanctuary.

Tr'ynka Valae has been notified of your arrival please step in, and the arboreal left to tend to other things.

Iniara brushed the arboreal off without a goodbye and stepped in. From inside she could hear a fire crackle and a shifting of sorts.

Iniara... a voice hisses, I hear you have come to attempt at an egg from my clan.

Walking further down the tunnel of the lair, Iniara came face to face with a large Bishen. Almost dumbfounded, she steps back and trips over Ad'cero who had closely followed behind her. Tr'ynka Valae, I presume? she falsely acted confident.

Heh, he smirked slightly, a human who pronounced my name correctly. This is already a good sign.

Iniara bowed slightly once gaining her balance again, ignoring the insult comparing her to a human. I wish to adopt one of your magnificent eggs, sir.

That depends, he interjected, why?

Why? she spat abruptly.

Yes, have you even thought of a reason yet why you want to take care of this egg? It takes much responsibility and a powerful caretaker with magic.

Looking down at her right palm and placing her staff against the dirt constructed wall of the cave, Iniara bent her head downward, I practice powerful magic, I could give this young one much possibility.

You are going to have to do better than that, Daemenite, he hissed in reply.

What did you call me? she stormed, and then realized that petty fighting would not accomplish getting an egg. Fair enough, I request a private conversation. Im'os, please take Ad'cero outside, she exasperated and lifted her head once more.

I don't understand, Ad'cero commented to Im'os who has guided her outside of the cavern. What could she say to offend us, of all people who have seen the worst side of her!

Im'os just shook his head, You don't know much about Iniara, I am afraid. And I don't see her revealing herself to you anytime soon. You perceive her to be a wretched woman with an egotistical problem. He bent his head and continued, If you knew.

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