The three of them are still hiding in the trench. Liallan, sitting on the ground, stares at Daina, then holds up the pendant she had found at Barrett's Coffee House. What about it?, she thinks. The fox replies with impatience. Then, getting close to Liallan, she fixes the amulet with her steady gaze. Feeling a strange force in the air, Liallan gingerly lets go of the pendant, but it hangs in the air without falling. Golden ripples of energy seem to roll underneath the dark yellow surface of the stone, and the gem on Daina's forehead also gleams gold. Liallan can't help shuddering as the smell of energy in the air becomes more intense and seems to seep into her very bones. How long before they are noticed?
Then it is as if a storm had erupted around her.
Liallan draws in one hoarse gasp as for a split moment, she feels everything fleeing from her - the warmth of her body disappears and is replaced by an icy cold, she can no longer feel the earth underneath her feet, and the air seems to lose all smell and motion.
Liallan is swept into a diffrent world as her body - along with Daina's and Motlepaw's - disappears.
Liallan gradually regains awareness.
Although in reality only a moment had passed, Liallan feels as if waking up from a deep, long slumber.
The first thing she notices are the echoes.
The world around her is full of echoes, waves of feeling and motion. Studying her surroundings, she doesn't recognise them at once - the world around her is like a giant cobweb of energy. Cords of light, pulsing and multi-coloured, surround them, interweaving to form rough - very rough - outlines of objects. She recognises the pavillion - a semi-transparent sheet of grey, as is the ground underneath. In fact, everything that has no life of its own is a dull grey - and on that grey, there are punctures of burning colour: insects, worms, micro-organisms she wouldn't have noticed from her normal perspective.
Beside her, Liallan sees Motlepaw and Daina, both ragged outlines of animals. Daina's wings form an arc above her, the tips of the feathers seeming to fade into the air. Seeing Motlepaw, Liallan hesitates - for a moment it is as if there is something else to be seen within... no, parallel to him, and that she would see it if she looks hard enough. But whatever that something was, Liallan could no grasp it.
Both animals seem unnaturally still, despite moving slightly. Liallan realises they aren't breathing..
Suddenly it comes to her that neither was she! Then she perceives the fact that she pocesses no lungs - no body, whatsoever. Then Liallan notices she could see - or rather, sense - everything around her without turning her head, and guesses that the 'shapes' of her and her companions were merely means of reference, without any meaning.
Daina moves and leaves the trench. After a moment's hesitation, Liallan and Motlepaw follow her. Liallan notices that gravity has no effect on her, it is as if she is gliding above the ground. Yet somehow, as if all the cords of energy of her own bod... essence cling to the ground like the roots of a plant, Liallan's movement is hindered somewhat. Liallan realises this whole experience most resembles swimming underwater.
The creatures surrounding the completed rift do not react to their appearance, so the elf guesses she and her companions are invisible in... ghost form, she decides to call it. She also notices that the creatures are much paler in comparison to Daina, Motlepaw and herself. They are only partly on this side of reality - the other side holds the rest of them - their physical bodies, Liallan realises without knowing how. A journey into the metaphysical... how strange was that? Although, after the things she had been doing for the past century, probably not so strange after all.
They pass through the rift, which resembles nothing more than a hole, a gap in the fabric of energies around.
Throwing aside all hesitation, Liallan, Daina and Motlepaw step into the hole.
Liallan feels as if for a moment, she was a ragdoll being pulled apart thread by thread by an anxious child. Then....
Tal - no. Not find. Not find. Alright.
Whatever is that supposed to mean?, Liallan thinks.
With Liallan in her metaphysical form, it was possible for Daina to actually send her clear, albeit ragged and chaotic, messages.
It was clear that Daina no longer planned to find Tal.
Instead, the fox led Liallan and Motlepaw somewhere else - where, was impossible to judge. The place they had landed in was alien in all aspects Liallan could think of - still, Liallan realised, it was a construction of some sort. Walls of colourless grey rose around her, and the air seemed different. Creatures surrounded her, towering, frightening and chaotic even in comparison to the rest of the metaphysical side of reality.
Daina seemed to know where to go. As always.
The trio move through the alien citadel, walking through walls to the natural surprise of Liallan, avoiding the metaphysical forms of guards, or whatever the monsters around them were. Suddenly, Daina stops.
What is it?, Liallan wonders. The she knows the answer.
Daina no longer knows where to go.
In her physical form, Liallan would've taken a deep breath. Then she slowly studied her surroundings, deciding which wall to penetrate.
Liallan hurries as much as she can, with Daina and Motlepaw by her side. Somehow, they had almost been detected. Liallan had sensed something different about that monster even upon spying him - he was... more capable. Barely a moment after they saw him, the demon hesitated and turned to look at them, although of course his physical form could see nothing. But if the demon could also sense the metaphysical... which was clearly the case. Half a moment after they had started backing away through the wall, strange cords of light trapped the area where they had been when the demon spied them. Then the trio had hurried out of the room through the wall, but the demon magician had been alerted and was now searching for them.
Not sure she had already lost the magician, Liallan leads the group through more rooms, hoping they would not bump into more magicians. She is almost through another wall when Daina, noticing something, stops her. Noticing the real door from the room is locked, Liallan decides that for a moment, she could afford to investigate.
Approaching the far end of the room, Liallan hesitates. There are objects standing on the floor, and hanging on the walls - all of them, despite not being living, emiting a glow she could see in the metaphysical world. Liallan stares at them, entranced by the pulsing, supernatural, dangerous glow. Then, her gaze is drawn to the object on the far left - cords of energy weaving together to form a very long, thin case of grey... with a light almost as bright as the sun pulsing from within. Even while being dimmed by the grey case around it, the object inside is easily the brightest in the room.
Liallan slowly and cautiously approaches.
Everything around her is forgotten.... It seems like Liallan floats in a dark void, alone with the glowing object. She takes another step to it and gingerly reaches out to touch it.
Nothing happens - she only feels a slight buzz as she comes into connection with another metaphysical being - exactly the same thing as if she had touched Motlepaw or passed through the wall.
Suddenly Daina is beside her. The gem on her forehead glows and throws a strange light over the case.... and the case, along with the object inside, take on a different kind of light. Liallan realises they are now completely metaphysical.... Her fingers close around the case and she grasps it, then, faced with a sudden sense of urgency, hurriedly attaches it to her belt.
Time to go, Liallan thinks.
Without Daina, Liallan would've become hopelessly lost while attempting to retrace her footsteps and return to the rift. Moreover, Daina manages to guide Liallan in the right direction without actually retracing their footsteps. But just as Liallan catches sight of the rift, a gaping hole in the fabric of the metaphysical, she sees the magicians....
And the magicians sense her.
At least a dozen of them, they immediately begin to weave a spell, while Liallan and her companions set off towards the rift at their best speed. Even as she runs, Liallan realises how bad her luck is. Strong in numbers, the magicians begin to weave a much larger net than the one before, and until Liallan passed through the rift, she would still be in the net's reach....
The rift is now only several yards before them...
Daina speeds forward, along with Motlepaw, slightly ahead of Liallan. Together the animals pass through the rift, the energies shaping their bodies dissolving into the nothingness.
Then the glowing net constricts, closing in a burning bright aura around Liallan.
Something very akin to agony - in the metaphysical form - rips through the elf, and she staggers, shuddering as a whole chunk of her metaphysical form is simply torn apart. The shield, the Wavebreaker, had been the only thing preventing her immediate... disappearance from the face of the world, both normal and metaphysical.
Summong up all of her willpower to fight off the effects of the net that had torn into her, Liallan staggers through the rift.
As she appears on the other side, she finds Daina and Motlepaw waiting. Liallan is barely able to move, and only poccesses tiny, fleeting shreds of awareness. The events around her fleet by like dragonflies near a lake, and all is concealed in a dim fog, the energies around her seeming dimmed because of her state.
The pavillion...Daina... The wasteland... the copse... Motlepaw... Daina.... trees....Liallan is only aware of somehow moving through the landscape, with her companions hauling her like a chunk of meat. Liallan is barely conscious by the time they stop, and can hardly apprehend Daina again activating the amulet. Liallan's vision and all other senses then go chaotic, as colours pass into different kinds of colours.
She then makes a hoarse and painful gasp for air, as if just having surfaced after a long dive underwater. The last things she is aware of are her strained breathing, numbing pain in her whole body, and the mad, strained pounding of her heart.
The last shreds of awareness vanish.
Motlepaw lies motionless beside Liallan while Daina is out hunting. Three days had passed since breaching the realm of the demons and Liallan, although thankfully still alive, has not woken up yet. There were no wounds on her body, yet she had had a very close brush with death back on the other side of the rift - and of the reality. Additionally to that came the strain of once again assuming her physical body. Motlepaw himself could do little more than lie on the ground regaining his strength for a whole day afterwards. Daina had been slightly better off, for whatever reasons. Since then they had taken turns guarding and warming the elf.
Motlepaw peers into the woodland around them. There were few animals, having been scared away by the wave of destruction caused by the opening of the rift. That was both blessing and curse - there were no predators to threaten them, on the other hand, they was also less prey than was preferable.
A hand runs through the fiery fur on Motlepaw's neck and he glances at the elf. Slowly, Liallan pulls herself upright, still dazed. Saying nothing, she scratches his ear. Motlepaw closes his eyes to announce his pleasure, then snaps back to attention as he remembers his duty is to gaurd Liallan while she is incapable of doing so herself - which she still is, despite having regained consciousness.
Daina? An image of the white fox enters his mind, along with a tone of inquiry. Motlepaw replies with an image of a fox killing a mouse, and Liallan nods slightly.
Feeling ravenous, Liallan unpacks provisions from her bag and spends the next few minutes eating. Finishing off with a long drink of water, Liallan then remembers the case she had snatched.
Disattaching it from her belt, Liallan holds it up. The case is very regular-looking, made of plain, albeit polished wood. For some reason, Liallan's pulse speeds up as she opens the case and retrieves the object. Motlepaw shifts in anticipation.
Wonder sweeps through Liallan as she holds the nearly weightless object in her hand. It is a feather - nearly a metre long, hard and pure white...no, wait...
As Liallan turns it this way and that, she notices the dim sunlight causes the shiny feather to glimmer with numerous colours... pink, violet, gold, blue, green, red.... It is as if a rainbow has been trapped within the feather. And the feather was definitely radiating some sort of power - Liallan could clearly sense it was vast, and holding the feather in her hands put her in a state of awe...
Liallan notices something else - dark splatters on the feather near the very base of it. Liallan recognises them as traces of blood having seeped into the fabric of the feather. The blood is old and colourless, yet there is no doubt that it is blood.
As Daina appears, Liallan absently wonders what sort of bird the feather had come from.