1130/One Last Leisurely Walk

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One Last Leisurely Walk
Date of Scene: 12 December 2014
Location: Hundred Forged Fire Manse <Manse>
Synopsis: Amalthea takes Ainsley into an enchanted wood one last time to finally learn its secret.
Cast of Characters: 151, 395

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Dorsett, England, once again. This is the third time Amalthea has taken Ainsley to this seemingly ordinary stretch of the British countryside, on one seemingly random world. And by day the forest is certainly ordinay enough, if a little eerie. But each time Amalthea has called on her student, the sun was already setting, on this particular world, allowing the forests denizens of the night to begin waking up, for a much more enchanted journey.
    Of course Amalthea is here already and waiting. She's left her armor, and her weapons back at the manse, no need for them, and of course for another reason. Nevertheless, she's waiting propped under a tree. Beech, hands folded behind her head, eyes half lidded.
    She looks tired, yet even still, rainbows glimmer as usual from the last rays of sun hitting that solid mithril plating, in a serene display, no matter how haggard she gets.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley steps lightly as she approaches the forest. She has, after all, learned the power of flight, and so she can move with a similar weightlessness to Amalthea if she wants to. And she does, feeling it appropriate for a place like this. The difference is that she emits a breeze around her feet as she walks, making grass and flowers dance. It's only strong enough to pluck a few petals off of a large flower at most.

    She stops to smile at Amalthea. "You look fatigued," she remarks, softly. It's hard to feel concerned for Amalthea because of how much of an experience gap there is, but there it is.
    The lizard woman's feathers puff out as she stretches her arms over her head. The ribbon at the end of her tail activates to emit a smidgen of ambient heat into her to prevent discomfort, the little circular gem emitting the faintest of glowing. It's bound to be cold in this area this time of year, after all.

    "After you," she says, gesturing to suggest Amalthea should lead the way, melding it into a bit of a fluorish. She has some energy to spare.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    "I'm fine, I was in my office all day." Amalthea replies, picking herself up with a small hissing vent of steam from her knees as she does. "Doing nothing." Added as an afterthought. Not suspicious at all, but then again when has the unicorn ever fully let on to her secrets?
    Nevertheless, she seems to be able to shake it off well enough with a good stretch, sending rainbow hair tumbling everywhere with a little shakedown. A snap of metal fingers results in something of a 'plink' sound, though as she motions for Ainsley's feet, "Try not to mess the flowers up as you Walk."
    Now then, the unicorn simply turns, already beginning down a path long lost to man, wildly overgrown and tangled. "So Ainsley how have you been keeping yourself? It's been a while since we've had one of these walks. And one of these talks."
    Oh yes a talk will be happening. "--Watch out for the Griggs, something's been spooking them, so they mighty try and stick to your ankles."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley pays the idea some thought. 'What was she doing in the office?' She could've asked, but it's more polite to leave it be, and she has presence of mind to just smile, despite the look of obvious curiosity in her eyes. "Okay."
    She looks down at her feet, and frowns momentarily. "I don't have full control yet. I had never used wind magic before the change." She shakes her head, and decides to tone it down a little, making the feeling of wind a little more subtle. She is trying not to disturb the plant life at all.
    "As well as can be expected. Activity in Aztlan slowed down on the surface after the first trip. I haven't been to Solomon Island or the Plain of Tales much lately, either. Signing up to do those classes is something I only had time to do within this window... the house has needed a great deal of repairs and has only recently started to come together." She frowns a beat, looking down into the grass. She doesn't need to actually turn her head to watch out for them, it's more of a habit she developed to keep her weird field of sight from creeping people out.

    "Spooking them..." she murmurs, wondering what it could be.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Amalthea was doing nothing in her office. She already said that much. Nothing for long enough to leave her starved and tired. That is a lot of nothing. But right now she's easing her way through the forest brush, as silent as if not even there. "In time." She replies in regards to Ainsley's control. "I'm sure you'll get it down." But she does not stop. There's no rush to her steps, as the Wisps begin to rouse with the falling of the sun. gentle foxfire-white lights. One very familiar little one is already inquisitive;y perching on Ainsley's shoulder, and the silhouette of a very tiny house can be seen in passing after some distance.
    "Did you get one of those towers like you had wanted? Or did you and Faruja settle on something else?" Ah, but now she turns her head, that endlessly deep blue eye peeking over her shoulder. "I didn't take part in the events on Solomon island but I did vaguely keep up with them. What of Aztlan though?"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley takes in the sights again, this time more familiar with them. However, this does not stop it from feeling mystical. The way the forest begins to take on a forboding feeling. The way the wisps dance out of wherever they hide, under leaves and in the grass, to greet the night. The wisp that landed on her shoulder got a smile of familiarity. "Hello, little one," she says to it, softly, without breaking her stride.
    "It's a manor that once belonged to a religious group that worshipped a crystal goddess. It has a basement that was full of prison cells. Now the cells are for long-term food storage and for any research materials I stumble across. Faruja has covered the house in crosses, though, which is like filling a house with heating coils that are only on when they sense darkness, when it comes to me." Referring to the Dark Mana thing.

    "Aztlan was evacuated. It... well. The Filth, a threat not unlike a creeping, hungering darkness that devours sanity, decided to hop worlds somehow and now my birth city is inhospitable to life due to a surplus of walking skeletons and very mad zombies."

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    A tinkling, shimmering noise is Ainsley's reply from the tiny wisp that seems to remember her. Nevertheless, the walk slows. A wide berth around some oak trees and now the two are getting into a section of forest the prior walks hadn't touched on before. Bushes rustle, and a nearby oak groans, the melting-wax looking face of an Oakman poking his head out. A sharp look and a bark from Amalthea seems to tell him to sod off, however.
    "It sounds like a lovely home. I'll have to make this year's gift a double christmas and houswarming gift, won't it?" Idly mused before she halts. "Mmm. My condolences for the state of your birthplace. What do you intend to do about it?"
    There is little room for break after this question though, as a pair of golden eyes peek out from the darkness, blazing and bright, with horizontal rectangular pupils much like a goat. The eyes are seen first. The rest of it comes second, in the form of a small black pony, simply standing there, seemingly grazing on dark purple flowers in the darkness of the forest.
    "Heh..." This makes the unicorn pause. "Tell me, Ainsley, what do you see?"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley stares ahead. She doesn't actually answer the question about what she's going to do about Aztlan, because in a rare moment for her, she is utterly without a clue. It visibly troubles her and that much is certain, and she struggles to come up with an answer, finally settling for shaking her head when she can't even come up with an 'I don't know.'
    She halts and looks at the pony with some bewilderment. This continues for a few beats. "Some manner of equine." Another beat. "Likely magical."

    She pulls her mouth into a thin line. "Oh right."

    "Hello, my name is Ainsley," she introduces in a soft voice. Awkwardly, she manages a smile, though she's not sure what to expect. To her recollection, most horse-related creatures are pretty scary... if they don't live in Equestria at least.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Equestria is nowhere near here, and judging from Amalthea's prior warnings about this forest, it could mean anything about the pony. Nevertheless, the mechanical unicorn sets a hand lightly on her student's shoulder and lets the topic of Aztlan drop for now. Because topics shift quickly in the enchanted forest.
    "An equine. A horse she says. A horse am I? A horse indeed. Am I to be something to gawk at, and study?" The pony speaks up, his voice is a low rumbled burr, though his mouth doesn't move as he speaks. At least not in the motions associated with speaking, anyway, he's still busily chewing at the purple flowers.
    Amalthea doesn't answer, simply flashing the cheekiest smile as the 'pony' snorts.
    "Well then how about I take your student on a tour? Come then. On my back."
    "Don't get on his back." Amalthea notes right out the gate.
    But he goes right on. "I have no care for your name." This is said in an even tone, like a true immortal with literally not an ounce of care in the least. Almost marginally disdainful but too old and lazy to actually inject a venom into his words. "You are one of many I have seen. Either you climb upon my back or not, I do not care."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley stops feeling nervous or uncertain the moment he starts acting like a complete dick to her. Her face becomes cold, as if it were a defense mechanism. The magic that she was emitting? Gone. The air itself seems to go still around her, and even her gently twitching tail stopped and slowly came to a rest against the grass. It isn't menace.

    It's intense disapproval, as if she was projecting the very soul of a librarian.

    "Equine. Because you are shaped like a horse. As near as I can tell, the oddities are in coat color and your eye structure. I am mortal, and thus too flawed to perceive whatever intricacies are presented before me without assistance or extended scrutiny."

    She doesn't seem all that excited about it. "It was never meant to offend you, if that is what this is."

    She does not budge. Her arms remain at her sides and she practically locks eye contact with the awful goat eyes of WHOEVER this is. She expects him to say something or do something negative in reply to her. "No, thank you," she thinks to say, with a mellow neutrality.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    A cluck from the unicorn and a squeeze to the Quetzal's shoulder and if anything, Amalthea seems amused by the situation. "Come now Ainsley, what do you expect from something as old as I am and just as jaded? Now now though show a little more respect. Even I hate being called a horse." It's not so much a chide from Amalthea as a light tutting. But it's not one-sided.
    "And you." That's to the pony. "You used to be friend to the girls of this region. What is all this grim dark 'get on my back business', you nasty old thing."
    It's almost like the pony shrugs. "Never friend once I was. Not to any human, not to any child, and not to you or yours. I simply am. It is in my nature. I can tell you what I am not. I am not horse. I am not wolf. I am not rat. I am not fog. And I am not here." He says, simply tossing his mane and turning off. Before adding warningly: "I am not you, but If I were, I would also not be here."
    The reason why he starts slowly trotting off might be because of the very angry pair of baleful red eyes in the darkness. And the blast furnace forge smell of the hot breath of an utterly massive shadow in the darkness, practically looming over the two walkers.
    "Pooka are kind of dicks, yeah." Amalthea says simply at first, before her attention shifts, "But it looks like we have another visitor."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley squints for a moment at the Pooka(???) before her. She doesn't have much to really say to him, and doesn't really want to be respectful of someone who sees her as nothing but another passing breeze in his day. She remains silent as he speaks. As he leaves, she follows him with her gaze with an almost robotic turn of her head. She understands at that moment what he means... some manner of shapeshifter, a glamoured creature. She's got some reading to do.
    The warmth of hot breath washes over her, and the acrid scent of whatever boils in its gut.
    Ainsley turns to regard the red eyes in the dark. She stares up at him in silence, not introducing herself. She remembers this one from when Amalthea made a big deal of going far away from it.

    "Hello," is all she says to it, crossing her arms and waiting for it to reply.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Now's the tricky part. Last time the two ran into This One things almost got very dangerous. Amalthea had to be extra placating and pull off every arcane and fae knowledge of forest etiquette to fend it off without altercation. And with the two unarmed, there's no saying whether or not it will work twice. But this time, Amalthea simply smiles.
    Yes, she smiles, when Ainsley faces it down with a simple greeting and some patience.
    The reply however is a growl. Not an animal sound, no it sounds nothing like anything any animal could make. It's more again to a tree groaning as it bends in the wind, to the point of breaking- yet never snapping. Like vines twining and straining against each other as that hot metal smell vents from its gut. Of course the Pooka would flee something bigger and nastier than it.
    Because it is huge. Even just from seeing nothing but eyes and a silhouette there's no mistaking, this thing is as tall as a house and as wide as a truck as... Amalthea takes a step back.
    It's approaching. Specifically gravitating towards Ainsley and ignoring the unicorn as those eyes draw nearer. No words. But the eyes lower. And something happens.
    From the ground sprout two flowers. In the span of an instant one blooms, growing gorgeous and beautiful. The second follows suit but proceeds to immediately wither and die.
    All the while it stares at Ainsley as if presenting her with some form of test.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley watched it with silent patience. She didn't seem unhappy anymore, the feeling replaced with a mellow stare.

    After all, what would it do to her? Try to kill her?

    Her arms unfolded when it got up almost in her face. Almost close enough for her to reach out and touch. But she doesn't. She just stares up at it, almost serene about it. There /is/ a hint of her instinct telling her that she should probably get ready to move out of the way if it tries to bite her in half, her muscles tensing, her tail curling just slightly.

    She hears something. A rustling at her feet. She follows its gaze down to the flowers, and carefully examines them. Then she kneels down to regard them carefully, reaching with her fingers to touch the soil, grazing fingertips over the wilted flower so that she doesn't make it crumble under her touch. It isn't necessarily compassion, so much as a soft, almost Fae-like curiosity.

    The air shifts around her. She carefully reaches up to put her fingertip in her mouth... and puts down just enough pressure to make herself bleed, not even flinching at what would've made most people feel a significant jolt.

    She held the fingertip not over the dead flower, but over the dirt below it. When a droplet of blood fell onto it, a pulse of barely-perceptible red that washed out like a ripple atop a pond expanded outward. It was not holy, but not evil either. She was just giving a little bit of life to the soil. Because if she just healed the damaged flower...

    The other flower would be starved, too.

    "Hmm." She smiles, content, even if it doesn't rejuvenate the dead flower.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    And it watches in curiosity. Waiting to see the Quetzal's response to the little conundrum it has laid before her. Thoze blazing eyes watching. It is an intense stare. As if every single life in the forest itself were behind those eyes and everything for miles all around were watching Ainsley as she bites her fingertip and feeds the dead flower.
    It twitches. --The flower, not the beast. And slowly but surely, right then and there begins blooming back to life, soon enough on par with the other, now both standing tall, petals spread. Wildflowers the both of them. But now what of her grade?
    Amalthea has already sat herself down under an ash tree to watch, because another step forward and the massive THING is suddenly much more visible. Its face is bone. A grinning horse skull, but the rest of it is covered in a shaggy white furt as it trods forward on four legs. Though its fur would be white, the sheer amount of vegetation growing upon the creature- vines, ivy, ferns and plants have stained it a mossy green as those hot red eyes simmer down to a jade glow; the metalworks breath dying away to be replaced with a popuri wildflower and grass scent as it makes to nudge the Quetzal with its bony snout.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    It is a sight to behold. A creature of mysterious power and ways that decided to speak to Ains in a way the lizard didn't really understand. But apparently she can speak forest spirit, because soon the terrifying, oppressive weight of the forest turns into the familiar warmth that the lizard girl was oh so used to in forests of the Multiverse by now.

    She laughs gently as she's nudged. She seems very tired when she laughs, making it all the more genuine.

    Both of her hands go up to rest on the creature's skull. It's a light touch, very careful. She makes no effort to speak to it at that point. She takes in what it looks like, because she can see it clearly like few others could from the same angle.

    She rests her forehead against its nose and closes her eyes, glad to have come to an understanding with something that has never spoken a single word to her. It takes a small burden off of her shoulders.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Every vocalization from the creature is like the creak of wood, a shifting slide of vines over bark and leaves in a gust as Ainsley rests her hands on the solid ivory of its face. Its very breath sounds like it's coming not from the creature, but from everywhere around it as it allows the contact.
    It very well could have attacked. But seemingly satisfied with Ainsley's answer all hostility melts away and grants the chronicler this rare moment of contact that none others have gotten in centuries upon centuries upon centuries. And it lets her rest her head against its own for a lonf moment before it slowly pulls away.
    A shake of its shaggy neck detaches something. Something small and glimmering, that it lets fall to Ainsley's feet before it turns and begins to plod back off into the darkness with one last low groan, disappearing into the night.
    The object is a tiny medallion. Made of very old iron- preserved only by the thing's aura perhaps. But the intricate artistry etched into a metal celtic knot says that no one might have seen this beast since the age of the druids. And just like that, it's gone.
    Amalthea hasn't moved from her spot of respectful distance, simply patting the spot on the ground at the tree beside her.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley reaches down to pick up the medallion, moving slowly just because she's not entirely sure how to process what just happened. When it's gathered up, her face immediately shows a kind of bizarre startle like something about her seemed off to her. The way it interacted with her own aura, perhaps? Once she had it, she considered it for a second, turning it over in her fingers like a quarter.
    The spot next to Amalthea is accepted. The lizard girl ambles over and sits down, curling her tail over her lap. She clasps her fingers around the medallion, and holds it to her chest, seeming to treasure it a great deal.

    "Well, I can see why the forest's inhabitants are edgy about him," she remarks, the mystical air fading for a more casual, social one thanks to her tone.

    "I think I made a small friendship with an ageless spirit of a mystical forest." She mentally stirs that idea, staring into the darkness where it went. "Oh." She blinks, realizing something.

    She reaches over, and picks up a small, rounded stone without looking. Then another stone. And carefully she begins etching a small pattern in it. She's got a purposeful air about her.

Amalthea (395) has posed:
    Folding hands behind her head, Amalthea reclines against the tree trunk, eye sliding closed with a tiny snort as Ainsley settles down at her side. "Of course they'd be edgy about it. It's not one to piss off. Amd for good reason." The unicorn states plainly.
    Funny how even after it's left, the ambience has shifted. The dark of the forest this late at night is inifnitely less oppressive. Enveloping- gentle and comforting even. But the menace and feeling of constant threat from the prior visits is almost entirely gone from the air now.
    But then Amalthea's eye opens, curiously watching Ainsley work the stones. "I think you can safely walk this forest without me, from now on. And possibly many others as long as you keep that gift it granted you."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    An ancient Celtic symbol is etched into the stone, something that she figures is the closest thing to lizard or feather. It figures that Ainsley would know these. It holds no real power on its own, until she smears the last remnants of her blood across it. Then she sets it down, very carefully, in the grass, like she wants someone to come and find it one day.

    "He gave me a gift, it is only polite to reciprocate," she remarks. "I am sure the rarity of encountering a mortal that is tolerable is memorable enough to have a token associated with it."

    Then she leans back against the tree properly, and stares up into the sky through the branches. Her light blue eyes sparkle some with a magic that her sorcery can't bring her.