The caves are where it all started. They allowed the first wandering wolves access to the land of Blossom Forest, and afterward housed the monster that had threatened the earliest of inhabitants. The heroes had slain it, yes, but in doing so had also closed off one of the pathways in the caverns, magic blocking one of the many exits to Blossom Forest. But over the years, the original spell has weakened and now the way is clear. What will not only crawl out of the caverns, but erupt from it? The caves now thrum with the ever growing magic wellspring as it spreads out into the land. It is from here that the first vampire of Blossom Forest was corrupted, and it is here that any subsequent vampire will be born. To traverse its paths is dangerous - there is an almost impenetrable darkness, and in that abyss lays many secrets - hidden holes one could fall through, weakened floors, and then of course there is the labyrinthe itself. No one knows what the deeper levels hold - no one has traveled them and survived to tell tales. Not even those who call this place home dares to test their luck by going in deep, deep, deeper. The magic exuding from this place has rearranged the lands - moving packs, changing the terrain. Here the cave looks the same but it is not - it is more dangerous than ever. In addition, outside the mouth of the cave the sacred stones that once stood erect in another place now stand guard. They are colored the most beautiful arrangement of jewel tones, and almost appear to be made of gems themselves, no longer the dull grey they once were. It is within them that all official fights must take place - at the Blican Orlege. Welcome to Drylic Cofa...




her tears had stopped falling by the time akuji arrived. his voice echoed in the cavern and she turned her crown as he approached, dual toned gazers locking onto the brujo behind her. ”do you mean to cause me strife, princess? do you not remember the previous conversation we had earlier? why would you leave the territory again, do you know what dangers there are for you outside of your father’s borders?” he began to make his way towards her and guilt gnawed on her heart as she took in the limp in his walk, ears flattening at the sound of his pained growl. ”how is my broken leg to heal if i have to go running around the entirety of blossom forest after you? you need to be protected.” she winced as he spoke, her guilt spreading like wildfire in her chest. she had not meant to cause him any problem, but he had done the duty he promised to her father - he was being her constant shadow, watching over her when caspian could not. if she was being honest, his presence was almost too much for her to take. she wanted to be alone, wanted to sort out her thoughts, wanted a solitary moment to herself so she could break and then put herself back together, and him being there was a distraction, was overwhelming.

she pushed off the cool cavern wall and turned to face him fully, unsure of her next move. she hesitated another moment before speaking softly, avoiding his eye. ”i’m sorry - i didn’t mean to...cause you any problems. you should have stayed in cold summers,” she murmured, flinching as her words bounced off the walls. it was too loud here - every murmur broke the silence like a gunshot, jolted anxiety into her tender heart. the princess was eerily similar to her mother in this regard: both too fragile to withstand the horrors of the world but so willing to carry the burdens of others on her thin shoulders. perhaps it was her greatest weakness or her greatest strength, but it was certain that this trait would be her northern star through her lifetime, guiding her through any heartache or struggle. the last remaining golden blood had taken all of the gentleness of her grandame and mother and none of her father or grandsire’s steel.

she hovered uncertainly, keeping her gaze on akuji but never meeting his eye. this was her last defense, the last shield she had around the softest, most broken parts of herself. he could read her too easily, could see through every mask and facade she had in her arsenal and it was frightening. it was scary to think that he and his sister could see her when caspian couldn’t. she cleared her throat lightly, another flinch rolling across her shoulders as the noise echoed in the cavern, and katia was suddenly frustrated. she didn’t like the timid, restless energy boiling under her skin, didn’t like the fact she was treading so carefully, walking on eggshells around him. she felt like a string pulled taut, worn out from always being careful, always gentling her tone and policing her words before she spoke them. she could recall the day they officially met, could recall the white hot panic and the steel of bravery when his mask had fallen, when he was exposed.

katia tipped her chin, finally catching his eye, and she attempted to do as he and shae did to her - strip away the rough exterior to see what was actually going on inside his mind. his daughter, shasta, had almost been wounded during the bull hunt, and the other young woman - the nameless one she had never seen before - was important to him, somehow. she was silent despite the loudness of her thoughts, keeping her appraising gaze on the older man. she didn’t bother masking her expression - he would see right through her even if she tried - instead contemplating what it was she should ask him. she had dedicated her energy to helping him heal, but she had not yet approached her task. this moment, when she was just as cracked - admittedly in different ways than him - seemed to be the best to begin her task. she gentled her expression, mouth curving into a half-smile.

”akuji.” her words died on her lips, whatever it was she had thought to say. there was no right way to do this. he had told her himself of the monstrosity that lay beneath his mask, had spoken briefly of what horrors he had experienced. she knew that she couldn’t approach the topic as directly as she had once thought and instead set to another course of action: she would become someone he could trust, even if it meant trusting him in return. ”if you’re going to be going to another pack with me, we should give up this charade of you being in the shadows.” her grin widened a bit, eyes crinkling just slightly at the edges. it wasn’t exactly happy but it was not the sadly-sympathetic smile she had worn originally, nor was it fake and for show. ”i promise i’m not going to bite if you decide to actually walk with me. it’s getting a bit odd, you know - you just appearing when you think you should.” it was an olive branch, an offer to let him be her friend and not just her protector, but it was a step forward. a small one, yes, but she knew that progress was still progress, no matter how big or small.


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