If you missed the last episode, you can find it [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/224058153/0/0]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous episode, you can find them all in the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/220441594/0/0]Master Post[/url]. Please give a bump, upvote, or leave comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter!
* [i]How are we going to get through here?[/i] * Anixias asks as she looks around the Vault of Glass with equal parts wonder and horror. * [i]The legends say it’s a labyrinth… *
* We’ll have to think of something quick,[/i] * I respond, tapping my ether mask. * [i]Only reserves are what we’ve got on us.[/i] *
“Perhaps I can help,” a voice says suddenly behind us.
I jump and wheel around instinctively, blades drawn as the fur sticks up at the back of my neck, Anixias snapping to attention beside me. We both look at the stranger in front of us curiously as she steps out of the shadows.
She drops her weapons and withdraws her hood as she steps nearer, revealing a serene, metallic face blinking slowly at us.
* [i]Exo,[/i] * I growl. * [i]The City’s already sent –[/i] *
“I’m not from the City,” she replies, and it takes me a moment to realize she understands our language.
* [i]What’s it saying?[/i] * Anixias asks me.
“Tell her I mean you no harm,” the Stranger says, nodding to Anixias, who just growls deeper.
* [i]It’s okay,[/i] * I tell Anixias as I look into the Stranger’s eyes. * [i]I don’t think she’s here to hurt us.[/i] *
The Stranger smiles.
“You’re very brave, coming down here,” she says. “You’ll need that courage for the road ahead.”
* [i]What do you mean?[/i] *
“There are things that must be done,” she answers cryptically. “Some things we can change. Others must happen as they were meant to.”
I shake my head in confusion.
* [i]I don’t understand –[/i] *
“Don’t worry,” the Stranger tells me. her voice strangely calming. “You will. But right now, you must follow me. There are things that must be done so that others may be undone.”
She hoists her weapon back into her arms and turns, leading the way ahead. Anixias shivers behind me.
* [i]Who is she? What is she? *
* I don’t know,[/i] * I answer back. * [i]But we can’t follow what we don’t know.[/i] *
The Stranger turns after a few steps, noting that we haven’t moved.
“Are you coming?” she asks.
* [i]No,[/i] * I tell her firmly. * [i]We must return to where we are needed.[/i] •
“You are needed here,” she replies, but I shake my head firmly.
* [i]We can’t. We must find the way out.[/i] *
The Stranger watches us carefully for several seconds, scrutinizing us – finally, she shoulders her weapon, turns and walks away again.
“Suit yourselves, but you’ll have to take the long way back.”
* [i]Don’t you know the way?[/i] *
But the Stranger merely waves over her shoulder, ignoring our question. Anixias bristles as she disappears into the shadows ahead, growling low.
* [i]What a bitch,[/i] * she mutters darkly, but I push aside her grumbling and look up the rock wall we just leapt down.
* [i]It’s a long way back up,[/i] * I groan as I feel my neck grow stiff from tilting back so far.
* [i]All the way back there?![/i] * Anixias nearly wails in misery. * [i]But we just – *
* It’s either climb back up or follow the Stranger,[/i] * I respond sharply. * [i]Besides, it’s not like there’s a threat back up top. The Lun didn’t seem to want to harm us.[/i] *
Anixias whimpers slightly as she looks up the wall again, and I snicker as I lightly punch her shoulder.
* [i]Besides, you could use the exercise.[/i] *
* [i]Oh, look who’s talking![/i] * she shoves back playfully. * [i]Since when has royalty ever turned down luxury and treats for hard labor? *
* But I’m not royalty anymore, am I?[/i] * I point out. * [i]There is no royalty under Dra Ge. We’re all equal Disciples now.[/i] *
Anixias smiles behind her ether mask as she joins me at the rock face, and we begin the slow and arduous climb back to the top –
Hours later, with a great heave of final exertion, I pull myself up from the abyss and gratefully collapse onto the floor, all my arms rubbery and weak. Anixias climbs up a second later, panting.
* [i]Need….[/i] * she wheezes. * [/i]….to find…..ether….[/i]*
I don’t respond, trying to force my breathing to slow as I feel my head beginning to swim.
[i]Have to make it…..have to return….[/i]
I pull myself to my feet, and Anixias follows suit as we brace ourselves against each other, weakly struggling forward.
* [i]We’ll…..find….[/i] * she struggles to tell me bravely, but I cut her off with a shake of my head, tapping her ether mask pointedly. She nods and falls silent as we help each other back through underground labyrinth the Vex led us through.
It doesn’t take us as long as the climb did, but without any direction or sense of where to go, all we can do is stumble blindly through the caverns and tunnels, hoping that we’re getting closer to an exit. After several minutes of silence, I finally chance speaking:
* [i]Can….you smell?[/i] *
Anixias sniffs the air lightly.
* [i]Yes….[/i] * she nods. * [i]Jungle.[/i] *
Following the scent of the humid jungle growth, we struggle forward, finally seeing light and hearing fire ahead –
Stumbling into the ruins of the Ishtar Academy once more, we see the Lun engaged in a firefight with a different Guardian.
* [i]They’ll….take care…..of it….[/i]* I mutter to Anixias.
The Lun nearest to us hears my whisper and turns to regard us. I nod welcomingly toward it, but without a second’s hesitation it points its rifle at us and fires –
We hit the ground and roll instinctively, taking cover behind a cluster of fallen stones as the Lun fires on us again.
* [i]Thought…..they didn’t want….to hurt us….[/i] * Anixias wheezes, confused.
* [i]Looks….like they changed….their minds….[/i] * I respond with effort, dots dancing before my eyes.
Fear threatens to choke me as I realize our predicament – [i]Can’t face the Guardian or the Lun in this state, but without getting past them, we’ll both suffocate…[/i]
I quietly draw my blades, hands trembling, as Anixias watches me. We meet each other’s eyes for a brief moment, and no words need be spoken. She draws her own, and we take a moment to hug tightly once more before battle.
* [i]You’ll always be in my heart,[/i] * Anixias whispers, nuzzling against my neck. I lean into her embrace, squeezing her tightly, wishing I could stay like this, but knowing what must be done.
I break the embrace and struggle to my feet, brandishing my blades as Anixias rises beside me – we glare down the Lun who turn once more to face us, and prepare to charge –
But suddenly, the echoing blasts of scorch cannons rip through the Lun, their mechanical corpses falling to the ground before us. Looking past them, I see several large Captains rushing toward us, their blue cloaks whipping violently behind them.
[i]Wolves[/i], I think joyously as my mask goes empty and my vision starts to blur. [i]What are they doing here? [/i]
Sigh... that other guardian died didn't they...
[spoiler]I've got a new chapter of OEAE up.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]I am going to set The Frontier during the house of wolves.[/spoiler]