Location: The Library, Lower Level.
There were times where Aisling thought that maybe her imagination was getting the better of her, or if she was quite possibly going deaf…as she didn’t even realize that Rowan was even in the room. Upon hearing his voice, she jumped…her hand slipping on the book she was tugging on…thus pushing it towards the back of the shelf. They would both hear a click…and then the whirring sound of gears turning and churning as stone started to scrape. Aisling’s eyes were brilliant and wide as she lifted her head towards him…but all the while he would watch as the floor she stood upon shifted and turned in time with the bookshelf that slowly shifted into the wall…revealing blackness beyond it.
Just as the girl realized that the floor was shifting beneath her, she stumbled back into the darkness with a yelp!
Rowen watched as she jumped and pushed back the book of nameless bound on the shelf. The click made the leocorn shift his gaze and take a few steps forward curiously, his golden eyes searching for where the machinery sounds were coming from. A hand reached out to the bookcase as it began to shift and turn into the wall. He didn't seem to notice the ground moving with the bookcase until it was too late and the gypsy girl fell into the blackness. His eyes snapping over, Rowen leaped forward after her, not sure if the blackness meant a pit or simply dark hallway. He knew that Cery had made several secret passageways, though was never invited into them, nor had he been curious enough to stumble upon them. Now it seemed he was thrush into one such path, poorly lit and cold in air. He fell to the ground in a thud after his foot had caught the curious woman ahead of him, though he was lucky to not have smashed his face on the opposite wall. It took a second before he shook his head and sat up. Some of the filtered light from the room showed the ground the two of them where on, the one that previously moved with the wall. He gruffed and got up as quick as he could, his eyes turned glowing to see in the darkness. "Aisling?" He called out before looking around.
What little light that filtered in from the library soon depleted as the bookshelf and flooring moved back into place…shutting them within the dark room.
“Rowan?” The girl would call back as her green eyes darted about…trying to peer through the blackness. But before either one would be able to make heads or tails of where they were or how to get out, shards of light would break through the stone beneath them…revealing that the floor and walls were cracked and crumbling around them. Aisling stood up quickly, only catching a glimpse of the leocorn before the realization that the she was about to lose her footing soon distracted her.
As the stones gave way, a quick glance below would reveal stalagmites lining the bottom of what appeared to be a cavern beneath the two…which the sight of caused the gypsy girl to shriek…trying with all of her might to grasp the wall to keep herself from falling. She managed to grip one of the vines that grew from the bricks and stones…but was it enough to keep her aloft? Why did this feel like some horrible nightmare?!
A little further ahead, the falling rocks would reveal wooden logs that were logged between the walls of the tunnel. One of the logs fell as the walls themselves started to crumble around it…but past those logs, it would appear that the floor remained intact…though, a bit cluttered with crates and barrels. Was there something moving beyond there? Some sign of life? Maybe it was Cery…though, when did her eyes glow so red? A statue of a knight next to Rowan would soon fall down and shatter against the stalagmites .
Rowan soon found Aisling with his glowing eyes, but it was only a glance before his gaze fell upon the crumbling wall and floor. Obviously, this secret passage needed as much work as the rest of the inn, possibly more. He too clutched at the vines that covered the walls on the same side as Aisling, staying close to the stable blocks as he could. His ears folded back at her shriek and he made a look of annoyance. Why did humans have to be so loud? Though, the noise was not his main concern right now. The armor that fell beside him crashed and broke apart on the sharp stalagmites below. He sucked in a breath and held it unconsciously for a moment before looking over to Aisling and letting it go out his nose. His golden eyes soon spied the stable landing, a little more than a leap away. "There. We have to make it over there if we'd not like to be impaled by the rocks below us," he plainly stated before turning his eyes back upon the gypsy girl, "hug the wall and clutch the vines, I'll help you along, but keep from looking down." Rowan told her in a stable tone, it seemed that this leocorn was a master of keeping his cool. At least for now. Out of the corner or his eye he saw the same glowing that Aisling caught, his brows furrowed but he dared not look for the thought of provoking whatever it was. In the back of his mind, he knew it was not Cery waiting for them. "Go on," he urged, taking a side step towards her and as support laying a strong, but gentle, hand on her shoulder. A crumbling rock slipped under his foot, but Rowan was quick to re-balance.
Her heart was racing, and it virtually bewildered her at how calm Rowan was. With a gulp, she nodded quickly at his instructions. There was barely enough footing as it was along the wall…and it grew even less as they made their way towards the logs and stable ledge. Focusing on her hands, getting her terrified fingers to let go of the vines so that she could grip the next set nearby…she side stepped her way over…hopping and swinging slightly to the next bit of flooring that hadn’t crumbled away yet.
A gape in the wall prevented her from using the vines for support any further, and the logs and stable ledge were a leap away. As the world seemed to crumble around them, Aisling took another gulp, glanced hesitantly towards Rowan…as if to either make sure he was ok or gain some kind of approval for what she was about to do. But before he could say anymore, she took that leap, her arms reaching out with a gasp in case her jump was too short. She landed hard on her feet, so hard that it dislodged the log from the wall. Feeling it give way from beneath her, the gypsy fell to her knees and scrambled to get towards the stable ledge…feeling herself fall with the log. “…noNoNONONONONONONO…!!!” She managed to grip the edge…her body slamming hard against the side…causing her grip to slip…
As they went along it seemed that Rowan had more steps crumble below him than Aisling. It made sense as Rowan was fairly tall and muscular, where Aisling seemed much lighter and shorter. He kept close to her, keeping his balance though the sight beneath him did raise his heart rate by a few beats every glance. As they got closer, he noticed how the log was shifting downward even before Aisling leaped to the landing. He would have shaken his head no, had she given him the time to reply, but such was not the twist of luck they had today! She leaped and Rowan found himself leaning forward, almost losing his grip on the last of the vines before the gap in the wall. He gasped shortly, seeing her landing dislodge the log before his eyes. He made a quick decision and...!
Suddenly he leaped after her, having longer legs and a better angle, Rowan landed just to the side of Aisling and made quick steps upward, leaping up from the falling part of the flooring below. It was a struggle, but he quickly turned, one hand on a lone vine, enough to steady him as he reached out for Aisling.
Just as the gypsy girl was losing her grip, a pale hand would grab her wrist and lift her up and over, landing against Rowan who then lost his footing and fell backward himself against a collection of empty wooden boxes. His ears folded back and teeth gritted, Rowan had a bad landing and a corner had jabbed into his back. He opened one of his golden eyes to look at Aisling whom he still had an arm wrapped around strongly. "At least.. we made it.." he breathed out, scooting back a few inches as the last of the unsteady flooring crumbled and fell to the bottom of the cavern below.
There would be so much bruising by the end of the day! Aisling’s head was in a dizzy spin as Rowan managed to yank her back onto solid ground…or more like his solid form after he pulled her into him when he fell back against the crates. It was probably the instinct to live that caused her arms to cling onto him until the awareness that they were no longer falling revived her state of mind. How long had she been holding her breath? “Y-yeah…” She sighed, before carefully pulling herself to her feet, and offering to help Rowan to his.
Whatever grim figure they might have seen before their leap was no gone, but the smell of sulfur and burning flesh lingered in the air. Was the leocorn so sure that this was an unattended portion of the inn that Cery left in a state of decay? She surely was a bit more careful than that!
The gypsy’s breathing was unsteady, a sign that she was trying to calm down in spite of the circumstances. “Can’t really go back…” She said, gazing down the dark and narrow path that laid ahead of them. A glimmer of light popped up ahead, as torches progressively lit up, one by one upon the walls. Some sort of slime shimmered upon the brick and stone, dripping on the walls and pooling along the crevices of the gradually sloping floor. Aisling seemed all the more apprehensive. “Are you alright to move? We…could wait a moment…” She guessed…though, who knew anyone would think to find them down there…if anyone would be looking for them. She brushed some of her unruly curls from her face, wondering if they would die down there…and if anyone would care to look for them…
Rowan nodded to her question, getting up without her help. It wasn't that he was being rude, just that he didn't need it. Standing now, he pushed the boxes out of the way, one fell into the cavern below and broke open on the stalagmites. "No, there is no way back that way," Rowan agreed as his ears picked up the sound of torches and looked down the way, "but it seems we have another path ahead of us." The hallway lighting up, Rowan took a few steps into it before stopping along the wall to examine the odd slime. He sniffed it and the air, smelling faint burning flesh and rotten eggs - otherwise assumed to be sulfur. He narrowed his eyes as he turned his head towards the rest of the hall that slopped downward steadily. He didn't want to alarm Aisling, so he said nothing of the third scent he picked up. It was scent he could only describe as movement. A sort of heat energy that this leocorn could faintly smell when a living body moves quickly; a smell that had no smell, more like it. But Rowan only kept it to himself, looking back at Aisling to see what kind of state she was in. His back still hurt and his heart rate was steadily evening out again, but his face held a worrisome look of concern for an escape, but masked with a piercing gaze of a fierce animal. "We should move, the longer we rest the.... well, it would be in our best interest to get out as soon as possible." Rowan tried to chose his words well before taking the lead down the hall, glancing back to make sure Aisling would follow.
Unfortunately for the gypsy girl, she could not mask her fear and worry as well as her current companion. One hand gripped a wooden pendant she wore on a leather cord around her neck, random prayers and chants of protection filtering in and out of her frantic mind. She nodded, though it could be very hard to tell if it was a nod or not with how shaken she was from the experience thus far. “Y-you’re right…” She murmured, stepping carefully after Rowan as they made their way down the hall.
Aisling took note of the slime, and how slick it was when one wasn’t careful with how they stepped. Once she felt comfortable enough, she hastened her pace just a bit…to keep up with the leocorn. While they walked, she would stop when something caught her eye…the sight of a snake emerging from a crack in the wall, only to slither into another just a way’s down made her feel squeamish. She clasped her palm to her mouth, to keep herself from squealing…or was it vomiting…was the smell of sulfur growing even stronger? She felt like she was running from the family again…her clan that sought to marry her as soon as she came of age…how she prayed that if she survived this...if they survived this…the family would surely seem like nothing in comparison to what might await them…
If things could not get any worse, their path would be cut short after a while…sloping down a steep cliff side that lead into a lush autumn hued swamp-like forest. The sound of buzzing could be heard off in the distance, coming from behind them. As Aisling quickly turned to see what was making such a racket, she slipped up on the oozing slime and started to slide towards the edge. But it didn’t hinder her sight as the buzzing neared…revealing a swarm of wasps heading towards them!
Rowan kept a steady pace going down the hallway, avoiding smile puddles, flattening his ears the snakes that slithered in and out of holes in the walls. What was this place and why, as the only living employee, wasn't he mentioned this? The thoughts swam around his head, but he soon deemed them unnecessary for the current situation and shook them out of his mind. His silver-colored horn caught glimmers of the torch light and his eyes glowing as the torches almost seemed to dim partially. He heard the wasps coming from a far and turned on the spot at they drew nearer. Paying no attention to Aisling, Rowan looked down to the swampy area to see a pool just below them. Luckily, a rock was near his foot that he kicked in and fell to the pool, making a deep sploosh sound that gauged just how deep it was for Rowan's animalistic ears. Finally he looked back to see the wasps closing in on them and clenched his teeth before darting his eyes to Aisling, who just then happened to slip in slime! He scoffed and reached out to her again, "Jump!" he told her just before he himself hopped over the edge for the pool below. Was he going to be saving them every time a new obstacle came in sight like this? Was this leocorn destined to be this human's unwilling guardian? The happenstances of far seemed to point in that direction.
It wasn't too long a fall before both of them made a splash into the water below, which happened to be just deep enough to cushion their fall. The water would then, hopefully, throw off the wasps after them for no apparent reason. The leocorn would come up soon after they splashed in, spitting some water out his mouth and wiping away a few fallen leaves from his face and hair, though didn't notice the leaf impaled on his horn... What he cared more for was that they were safe - well, safer - and Aisling made the leap alright like he did. "Aisling?" He called out, not seeing her right away as his ears flicked, shaking off the water form the short hairs on them.
Aisling had jumped…the fall wasn’t as far as it looked…but she would not emerge from the water. She didn’t make it into the water! But Rowan would hear her cursing in Gaelic, and upon looking towards where such profanity came from would reveal that she had been caught up by some masked man. The smell of sulfur was ever stronger now, mingling with the smell of a feline, perhaps akin to what the leocorn might be familiar with; however it was hard to tell with the robes and head gear that hid most of his features…most of them, except for those gleaming red eyes.
Would the gypsy girl continuously be the damsel in distress to the poor mystical beast who couldn’t stand her to begin with?! Judging by the swift kick she gave to her capture’s groin…probably not so much. She was soon dropped from the cave where the beast had hidden himself…and splashed deep within the swampy water. The wasps, distracted by the sounds of her cursing…flew into the cave and chased away the robed beast…the sound of his roaring disappearing the deeper he went.
Aisling’s instinct now was to run. Pulling herself out of the water, she practically bolted forward…tugging the stray leaf that was stuck on Rowan’s horn as a way of getting his attention. She didn’t know who that was that had caught her, or what that was the happened to brush up against her leg while she was swimming to the water’s surface…but she wasn’t going to stick around to find out. Rowan himself would find that his tail would soon be the bait of a rather large fish with crocodile like jaws if he didn’t start moving.
Their path would lead them to a twisted forest, thick with Spanish moss and tangled vines…and large roots that threatened to slow their pace if they weren’t careful. The gypsy girl didn’t seem hindered by this at all…in fact, with the way she darted here and there, leaping over the roots and swinging from the vines…one would think she was at home…? Either way, at the rate they were going, whoever or whatever it was she thought was chasing them would surely get lost.
Actually…after a while, Rowan would soon find Aisling climbing up a tree to make sure they themselves weren’t lost…
Rowan certainly looked up and over, having swam to the edge of the pool he was already half-out when he saw the man grasping Aisling. A mean growl escaped his throat, his golden eyes returning the glowing stare of the red orbs that peered out from the hood. He would have leaped up after them had Aisling not surprised him and took action, splashing into the water he was going to help her out with him had she not already been on high-speed and bolted. A last look above to the cave where the wasps and the man had went, then the leocorn took off after the gypsy. He could have sworn there was a snapping sound behind him as he left the water, but was too focused on catching up to look behind him and probably for a good reason that he didn't. "Aisling!' He called out in a gruff warning, tripping as he did over a few large roots that caught his feet. He growled some, wishing he hadn't the need to wear these stupid foot-coverings like he didn't so long ago, but that wasn't about to keep Rowan back for long! He at least kept Aisling within his sight while they raced through and through without a second thought. "Aisling, wait a mo- where are you going?" He gruffed, following her even up the tree. He was losing his breath and energy, the air seemed thicker now and heavier with moisture. His nose was cray with all kinds of different scents about him! Moisture in the air enhances smell, but with advances senses already it could be overload to the leocorn. In any case, his mind somehow found it's way back to the image of the man in the black garbs. What was that feline smell and the roar? Who was that and where in the hell was Cery when you needed the odd womanly creature? He calmed his breathing and took in a large breath after finding a solid branch to sit on while he hopped Aisling was done running for now.
The gypsy panted loudly, sweating from running in the dense air. She had climbed up high, and peered through the canopy of the branches and leaves. How in the world was this on the other side of the library walls?! None of this made sense to Aisling, but it all seemed so real at the same time. Looking back in the direction they had come…and then turning left…the right…the looking behind her…she couldn’t find the cliff…or the pond…she didn’t or anything that gave a hint that they were in a cavern…other the darkness that loomed from above.
“I…don’t know.” She finally answered Rowan’s question. “I can’t see where we came from. I thought it was over that way…but there’s nothing there. Just…more forest. All around us…is more forest.” She stated, climbing down to a branch closer to his. She sat down in a state of defeat, leaning back against the trunk…only to bolt forward when something hard hit her back. Adjusting herself to see what it was, she found…a faucet nob? “What…?” She then looked to the leocorn to point it out to him.
Rowan was watching her closely, then turned to look himself to see if he could spot where they had come from. It was in vain as he couldn't see either, which puzzled him wildly. Hie furrowed his brows and scratched at his tuft of hair on his chin. "What... I don't... " He was at a loss for words, his eyes searching and searching - then Aisling yelped and startled him! He would have fallen off the branch if not for his hard grip! He blinked when she pointed out the faucet and came closer, reaching out to it, seeing if it would turn. He flattened his ears as he did so thinking if this was a prank of Cery's he would have her head! But what else could he think? This had to be a trick! There was no way all this was on the other side of the library! Maybe they were both dreaming, some kind of intertwined sleep that occurred shortly after they saw each other in the library. The leocorn pinched himself with his free hand just in case that might have been what was going on. "This is ridiculous." he flatly stated, an unamused look upon his face.
The faucet did turn…and while it took a while for anything to react…it would appear that the turning of the faucet caused it to rain upon them. Or…so it would seem. As water showered upon them, the trees and landscape started to melt away…and they both would find themselves sitting on a tile floor inside of…a…shower…?!
While Rowan might have guessed that Cery had installed secret passageways throughout her estate, what he had not anticipated that she had her reasons for keeping them secret. And her way of dealing with unwanted intruders included a type of intricate holographic system that activated once someone other than herself happened to find their way in.
The tile floor turned around them, and they soon found themselves in a shower stall…next to a bathtub…at the end of a public bathroom…that was easy to see that it wasn’t part of the main building. In fact…once they dried themselves off with some nearby towels, the door past the row of toilet stalls would lead to another ( yet not as decadently designed ) library ahead…and a hall of windows and one room door and narrow staircase to the left. The library and hall had a brilliant golden warmth to it…which made it feel all the more welcoming.
Aisling…however…looked to Rowan with a queer raise of her brow. “Where are we?”