Quete

by Comrade Bagel Muffin

First published

A unicorn's quest to return home.

How far would you go to get home?

Inspired by Imploding Colon's Epic.

Lever du Soleil

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The wind blew in from the east into the small green grove. The golden rays of Cesletia's sun would soon follow the winds over the horizon. The wind continued at a gentle constant across the lightly wooded grove. The birds began to sing as the first golden beams of dawn pierced the far eastern horizon. Escutcheon awoke in an instant, wishing that he could bid his dreams to stay for a while longer. They never lasted, there was no point in crying over it.

Besides he had wasted all of his tears a while ago. They had done him nothing but given him a sore throat. It was still sore now that he thought about it. He reached out with his magic. The ground glowed with his golden aura, as the drops of dew formed a small ball of water in front of him. He quickly gulped him down. He was still thirsty but after a few weeks of never having enough water to quench his thirst, he was beginning to get used to it. Using his magic he quickly got his bed rolled back up, and tied back to his saddle bag. Which was already fastening itself on him. Heaving a heavy sigh he started heading west.

He wasn't even sure if west was the direction that he needed to go. He didn't know where he was, or how to get to where he was going, but going somewhere was better than just sitting around and waiting to die. Besides there was always hope that just over the next hill or threw the next wooded grove he'd be back home. It never was, but it gave him a reason to keep moving, at least.

He headed on through the woods, telling himself that on the other side of the trees would be ponies looking for him. That mother and father were just around the bend, with a dozen royal guards. He hoped, prayed that this time he would be right.

l'immensité

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Escutcheon continued at his pace through the wooded grove. The morning sun filtering through the leaves causing his golden mane to shine. "Mother will probably ground me for not combing my mane." He laughed at the thought of mother trying to brush out all of the knots that had built up over the last couple of weeks. His laughter died as he thought of how painful it would be. If combing out tangles from just one night hurt then combing out the tangles from three weeks would probably kill him. He tried to grab one of the sticks in his magic. It didn't work.

"Still stuck on just one spell a day I guess." He sighed and tried again. The burn out had lasted two weeks already and he was just starting to get his magic back. but he was beginning to get annoyed at having to use his mouth for everything, so now his stupid horn was going to do what he told it to. He scrunched up his face as his horn started to glow. The twig lifted of the ground and then, nothing. It slipped through his magic like a his aura was made of water. "No, come on stupid horn work!"

He closed his eyes and focused just like Mother had taught him to do. He took deep breaths in and out, and let the arcane energies of the universe move around him, through him. "Ow." He rubbed his eye where the stick had hit him, the offending twig falling to the ground. "I really need to learn to do that with my eyes open." He grabbed the twig in his hoof and started trying to detangle his rat's nest of a mane.

Escutcheon had gotten nearly half of his mane detangled when he saw the tree line. The sun was still close to the eastern horizon, if he was right Mother and Father were right over there and he'd soon be going home. He rushed through the thinning trees to the edge of the grove The twig forgotten in his half combed mane. "Mother, Father I'm sorry I-" He stopped. No pony was there. He looked north and south, left and right. Nopony. Nopony was here, he was still lost. He felt a familiar pressure in his sinuses as tears began to form behind his eyes. The Shadow of the grove stretched for nearly fifty meters into a vast, flat grassland, which seemed to stretch on to infinity. Only a few trees dotted the immense plain that stood before him. The golden beams of Celestia's sun cast its light on the emerald carpet before him. There were no more hills that Mother and Father were just over the other side there were no more groves that Mother and Father were just beyond. There was just grass and the western horizon.

Ouest

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Escutcheon, walked on for what felt like an eternity. As the sun's beams bore down on him. He felt like he was at on the edge of the world. That there was nothing left that only the grassy prairie would just go on forever and ever. He looked behind him he could no longer see the grove he had slept in earlier that day. Behind him was only grass and the occasional tree. In front of him was only grass, to the right and left only grass, with the flatness of the earth being breached only once or twice by the trees that rose from the dirt. There was no end in sight. The was no end to the prairie. If he had anymore tears to shed he had shed them at the tree line of the last grove. Where any delusions of getting home where left behind.

And yet here he was still on his hooves some voice in his head telling him that all he had to do was get to the end of this prairie and he'd see the tail tale signs of home. And all he had to do was keep moving and keep believing. And despite the fact that he no longer believed that strange voice still compelled him to move, and so he did. With his eyes set on the sun which set before him he continued heading west.

Crépuscule

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The sun had already sunk beneath the horizon, leaving only the echoes of it's brilliant glory in the sky above. The stars were slowly appearing in the deep purple vastness above him. As Luna took over dominion of the sky behind him. For the first time in weeks he didn't care. He didn't care that there was nothing ahead of him, and only an empty world behind him. He sat down not because he wanted to, but because the habit had become so familiar that it was impossible to disobey. He shook his saddle bag off of him he'd use it as a pillow.

"Ow. What the hay?" Escutcheon rubbed his head where something had poked him. He picked up the offending object. The twig which he had taken from the grove. The one he had been coming his hair with. He turned it over and over again in his hooves examining it in the fading sunlight of dusk. Soon Luna's moon would be out and he could us it to see. Not that it would matter, he couldn't see anything through the tears that streaked down from his eyes. "I'm sorry Momma I didn't mean to. I don't want to go away, Momma I don't want to." He took the twig and continued the painful process of coming out the tangles in his mane. "Please Momma, if you're here when I wake up, I'll never disobey you again. Just please Mommy be here. Please?"

He lay his head down on his saddle bag combing his mane as he cried himself to sleep. "Please." The last bastions of the day long faded as Luna's Moon rose from the Eastern horizon.

Étangs

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Escutcheon awoke before the sun. The light was soft and gentle on the eastern horizon. He got up, his side was sore, the ground not nearly as forgiving to him as his bedroll was. He got up and began to focus the magical forces on the dews around the grass. The ball of water that floated in front of him was a lot smaller than the once that he could pull together in the wooded, hilly area, he was in before.

He looked behind him to the east to the coming dawn that would soon breach the horizon. He got up, and fastened his saddlebag to himself, as he did so a twig fell off of the bag to the ground. Escutcheon picked up the stick and held it in front of him, and heaving a long sigh he put the twig into his bag, and turned his back to the east. He started trudging through the prairie toward the western horizon toward.

Once the sun was to his back he took the twig out of his saddle bag and holding onto in his aura began to comb his mane with it. It was a lot easier than it had been the day before. As he continued to brush his mane out of boredom, and relief that he could again maintain more than just one simple spell a day, a glistening to his right caught his attention.

There in the middle of the prairie were several dozen little ponds. Escutcheon whooped and dunked his head into the closest pond. Gulping down water as fast as he could. It was the tastiest water he had ever had, and for the first time in weeks his thirst was finally quenched. When he finally pulled his head out he was gasping for air, with a smile plastered on his face.

He looked at his refection in the small pool. His golden mane draped down his face. His white fur was only white where the water ran down his neck and chest. He took his saddle bag off, and with out a second thought jumped into the pond. It was the first bath he'd had in nearly a month. It felt great. He reached out with his magic and grabbed his water jug he submerged it into another pool as he continued to play in the now not so clear puddle. "This is a great spot to camp out." He said as his water bottle floated back to his saddle bag. "I think I'll call this place Playful Ponds. After all I did discover it." He lay in the grass and let the sun dry him off. His coat was again it's pearly white color and his mane was back to its normal golden hue. He took his sleeping bag off and rolled it out and pulled a couple blades of grass to munch on as he passed the day away.

Côtés de Fer

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Escutcheon watched as the sunset on to the west. He wondered if Mother and Father where watching the sunset to thinking about him. He swallowed the tears down as he curled up on his sleeping mat. He felt twinges of regret at not have continued further, but the ponds offered him fresh water and the promise of being able to quench his thirst when he woke up. He was already thirsty, but he knew that if he took a drink there was a chance he'd wet the mat, not something he wanted to do. Even with nopony around he'd die of embarrassment.

Instead he'd wait till morning and then gorge himself in one of the ponds. Turned over on his side. It was still to early for him to fall asleep. Normally he exhausted by now but then again normally he had spent the whole day traveling instead of weaving a hat out of prairie grass. He looked up at the sky. It was so foreign to him, Mother had showed him all of the constellations, unfortunately, he only knew how to find one, but it wouldn't be visible until mid June, six months from now. Once it hit it's zenith he could use a trick that Mother had taught him, and use it's location and Northern Star's location and figure out where he was at. Hopefully though he'd be home by then. He yawned as he watched the stars slowly move across the sky, and under their hypnotic glow, he eventually went to sleep.

Escutcheon awoke in shock as the earth beneath him shook. He was instantly awake, adrenalin and panic pumping through his veins. He looked around for the source of the ground shacking, and quickly discovered its source. All around him giant gray plated creatures moved around him grazing on the prairie grass. They were easy to recognize. "Iron Sides, a whole herd of them. Wow!" Escutcheon used his magic to roll up his sleeping mat and fasten his saddle bags to his side. He trotted up to one of the gentle giants. He had seen pictures of them in one of the books that Mother had. It had pictures of every creature but none were as cool as the Iron Side, at least that was always what he had thought about them. They grazed in grasslands all over the world, and were four times the size of Big Macintosh, and he was the biggest pony that Escutcheon knew.

He smiled as an idea crossed his head. First he ran over to one of the ponds and got as much to drink as he could, then he through his home made hat on his head. It was made from a thicker prairie grass, that tasted like moldy bread, but it was really easy to weave, and he'd never be tempted to eat his own hat, unless he really had to, something he hoped he'd never have to do. Lastly he climbed onto the back of one of the larger Iron Sides and pulled some Apple Chips from his bag. He tossed one of the chips into the Iron Side's mouth, It seemed to like the apple cereal as much as he did. Once it got a taste for the sugar apple flakes he tossed a hoof full as far as he could and the Iron Side slowly started to move westward. It was a lot slow than he was but it covered more ground than he ever could. Besides what pony would ever pass up a free ride.

Gouttes de Pluie

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Escutcheon yawned as the side to side walk of the Iron Side lolled him to sleep. It was around noon when he finally succumbed to sleep slipping into its embrace on the back of the Iron Side as it continued to graze in a general direction of west.

Escutcheon awoke from an unsettling dream, the nightmare he'd awoke to for the past three and a half weeks. The sky was dark, and the wind wiped across the prairie from the Northeast. In the distance he could hear thunder off in the distance. He looked all around the sky searching for the pegasi that had brought in the storm. None could be seen. "This place it's just like the Everfree Forest, the clouds move all by themselves." A shiver ran down his spine as another roar of thunder echoed across the flat grass lands. The Iron Sides let out a deep low growl, as a bolt of lightning ripped across the sky. It was immediately followed by the loudest peal of thunder he had ever heard. The Iron Side herd let out another deep call, and stampeded off to the west. Escutcheon grabbed on as tight as he could to the stampeding beast.

Escutcheon's hat flew off, and he felt the first of many thick raindrops fall from sky. Up ahead was a wall of water connecting the ground to the sky. The rain fell down in sheets. The rain stabbed into him like knives. The wind and rain continued to assault him. Another roar of thunder, and the Iron Side bucked and threw him off. He hit the ground, and the world faded to black.

Rêve

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Escutcheon woke up in his bed, still wrapped up in his baby blue comforter, his head resting comfortably on a freshly fluffed pillow. "Mommy?" He got out of bed, his head hurt and his limbs felt like lead. His movements were sluggish and off. He tried to open his bedroom door, pain shot down his horn and reverberated in his head. His magic wasn't working at all. "Dad?" He pushed open his door and headed down the hall to his parents room. They weren't there. Outside was a loud commotion. He made his way to the front doors as he tried to ignore the pounding pain in his head.

Outside was bright the sun was shinning brightly down on the town. Everypony was gathered along the streets, as a parade made it's way down the town's main street. On the head float he could see Mother and Father. Escutcheon tried to push his way through the crowd to get to them, but the more he pushed and struggled the further and further they went. "Mommy! Daddy! Mommy, Mommy!" He felt something wet move down his face from his forehead. It was red, thunder and lightning blazed across the sky which was blacker than night.

"Hey, hey, I think it's still alive." A strange creature blurred into his vision.

"Help."

"Hey it said something! Come on we need to get it back to the village." He felt himself leave the ground. "The storm's only going to get worse, let's go!"

la Ville des Griffon

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Escutcheon woke up in a dizzy haze. He was completely disorientated. He only knew two things one, his head hurt horribly bad, and two where ever he was it was dry. He could hear muffled voices from across the room. "What do you think it is?" One of the voices perked up. Whoever it was they were a bit louder than the others. Given his current headache it wasn't something that he was happy about. The answer was muffled. "What don't be ridiculous if it was a zebra it'd have stripes, it doesn't have stripes, so it's not a zebra."

"Well clearly it just washed the stripes off Feather Head!" There was a sharp gasp.

"Mom said you weren't suppose to call me that!"

"Mom also said that you two should stay out of her room while she was out." A third voice join the conversation a bit more masculine than the other two spoke up. Somewhere in the house a door opened.

"Nogrif says anything got it?" The two others must have agreed but he couldn't hear them.

"He's in here, I have know idea what he is, except for injured." Bright light flooded the room Escutcheon slammed his eyes shut as hard as he could.

"It seems that he's already recovering. That's good." An old scratchy voice said. "And he's a unicorn colt the horn's a dead give away, No idea what a colt's doing out this far though."

"I'm lost."

"No talking until after I've had a look at your head. Nod if you understood that." He moved his head up and down whimpering as the movement caused the pain in his head to triple over itself. He felt a pair of talons take a firm grip on his head. The talons moved it around ever so gently, being sure to cause as little suffering as possible.

"Is he going to be okay, elder?"

"He'll be fine, you got him here quick. These injuries aren't even three hours old. I can fix him up, and he should be back on his hooves in a couple of hours. You three little grifs. Start grinding the herbs in my bag now. And as for you drink this it'll put you under for a few hours. When you wake up there shouldn't be any pain." Escutcheon the brim of a bottle put to his lips. He opened his mouth and took a few sips, his senses instantly became dull, and he drifted into unconsciousness.

***

When Escutcheon woke up again all the pain in his head was gone and the only thing that felt wrong was a sore back. He didn't immediately open his eyes instead he tried to figure out where he was. They had said grif he assumed they were griffons, though they didn't match up with any stories that mother or her friends had told him about griffons. Second he was on a bed a very soft bed at that with covers and a pillow, and it was dry. In fact he couldn't hear the sounds of the storm, at all.

"Glad to see that your awake now quit playing dead and open your eyes," the old gruffy voice demanded. It's owner was to no ones surprise and elderly griffon.

"Who are you Where am I."

"You're in my house, and we're in Griffon Rock, I'm Tilda, these are my chicks, Gilda, Gildan, and Griffa."

"Mom, I'm not a chick anymore." The eldest griffon spoke up. She was to young to be the Gilda he had heard about from Rainbow Dash it must have been a popular griffon name.

"Now, that that's out of the way who are you and why is there a unicorn this far east?"

"My name is Escutcheon, and I'm lost, I'm from Equestria, can you help me get home, please just get me to Griffon Stone I know the way from there."

"Griffon Stone, you sure you fixed that head of his Doc. Ow" Tilda slapped the back of Gilda's head.

"Griffon Stone is a myth, colt."

"No it's not I've been there dozens of times to visit with Gabriella and Gilda. A different Gilda." Gilda rolled her eyes, Escutcheon began to wonder if it was the same Gilda.

"Even if we could point you to Griffon Stone, you're not going to be leaving here anytime soon not with that storm raging out side."

"I don't here a storm."

"That's because we're inside the great mountain, it protects us from the storm and monsters." Griffa said with a knowing smile. "Mom said so." Both her siblings discreetly rolled their eyes.

"When the storm stops we'll try and get you to Rozi, she'll help you get to the Empire."

"The Crystal Empire that's great I-"

"The heck's the Crystal Empire?" Gildan interrupted.

"With the snow and stuff."

"There ain't no snow in the empire colt. You are either lying, crazy, or a long long way from home," the elderly griffon somberly said. "Now let's go get something to eat while Tempest out there throws a hissy fit."

"Sure thing I'll get something cooking, You three be nice to Escutcheon he's our guest."

"Sure mom," Gilda answered

"Yes mom," the other two said.

"A unicorn eating griffon food this is something I have to see."

La Tempête

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Escutcheon's white face went pale when he saw the spread laid out on the table. On the table was laid out several different types of meats. Gabby had told him once that griffons would eat meat on special occasions. A fact that he Pinkie Pie Promised to never tell Fluttershy, but he was told that there was normally only enough for a couple of bites and that it was only fish. On this table however there wasn't a scrap of fish to be seen. "Uhm, what kind of meat is that exactly?"

"Pony meat." Gilda laughed before her mother slapped her on the back of her head. "Ow, what did I do?"

"We've got mice, rat, goffer, prairie dog, and my favorite of all rabbit." Escutcheon's face managed to get paler. He fought hard to keep the content of his breakfast in his stomach.

"Um do you have any thing a bit more green and not meat?"

"What, but you need to eat meat in order to grow up big and strong." Griffa put some of the rat meat in her mouth, Escutcheon gagged, nearly losing his lunch as the rest of the color in his face vanished.

"Unicorn's are vegetarian aren't they?" Gildan asked.

"Completely yes." The elder's answer caused Gildan and Tilda to chuckle at the obvious.

"What's a vega-terian?" Griffa put grabbed a piece of mouse and tossed it into her mouth.

"It means that he's never test the amazing taste that is delicious, juicy, succulent meat." Gilda grabbed a piece of prairie dog and waved it in front of him before throwing it up in the air and catching it in her mouth. "Ow! What'd I do?"

"Well we don't exactly have a lot of stuff for making salads," Tilda apologized.

"It's illegal to eat meat."

"Not here it isn't." Gilda offered him a piece of goffer. It was then that he found out two things: one, this was in fact the same Gilda from Griffon Stone, and two, prairie grass tasted a lot better going down then it did up. "Ew."

"I'm going to be sick."

"You are sick."

"You shouldn't have been picking on him Gilda, you got what you deserved."

"Shut it Gildan."

"Gilda go take a bath, Gildan show our guest to the second tub. Griffa get a rag, and go eat in the living room. Elder sorry but could you help me get some food for my guest?"

"Of course."

***

Escutcheon ate his supper in another room from his host. "So tell me which way are you coming from the south, east, or west?" The griffon elder asked him.

"I've been traveling from the east since I got lost." Escutcheon finished chowing down on his small salad. "Why didn't you ask about the south?"

"Because there's no way that you could have come from the south."

"Why not. There's an eternal tempest there. There's no way to get through it only around it. It's caused no short amount of grief to all the surrounding civilizations.

"How can a storm last forever? It would need constant new clouds to continue indefinitely."

"I don't know."

"Do you have any books on it?" The elder razed his eyebrow. "I lived really close to a ton of books I'm a good read. Plus if I can cut of find something out about this storm it will help you griffons, and it's the least I could do. After all that you've done for me."

"Well there's no harm in letting you read some books. I'll bring over the books I have on the subject in the morning, but it's midnight now I, and I need some sleep I think you should get some sleep to."

"Yeah I think you're right." Escutcheon answered. "Thank you, you griffons are great." Escutcheon fell asleep on the couch as soon as he put his head on the armrest.

Livre

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Escutcheon woke up on the griffon's couch, it was the most comfortable night's sleep he'd had in ages. He got up and trotted over to the window. Outside was a large open cavern. The home he was perched in set nested into the wall, over looking the griffon city. The entire cave was lite by a single giant light crystal that hung over the city.

"Look who finally woke up." He already recognized Gilda's voice. "Pay up Gildan." He looked around to see her brother begrudgingly part with a gold coin.

"They had a bet to see whether or not you'd wake up to day." The griffon elder explained. "To be honest I didn't think that you would, after you slept through noon."

"What time is it?"

"Two in the after noon. Though I honestly though that you'd stay asleep till dinner, but hey, a wins a win." Gilda put the coin into the folds of a dull brown scarf.

"What's with the scarfs?"

"Patrols." Gildan said sourly and left.

"Griffons are sore losers."

"Yeah I know, so elder did you bring the books."

"Book just one the only book our people have on the Tempest." He took out an old book with a deep black leather cover. "It's almost as old as our colony, and it only briefly mentions the Tempest." Escutcheon's golden aura enveloped the book and in an instant magical letters started to fly from it to him.

"Wow this city is almost as old as Griffon Stone." He gently set the book down. "And you have almost nothing on the Tempest, other than it's been there just as long." He sat down there was nothing about an eternal storm in any of the books back home, and Mother's library was the biggest in the world, as far as he knew. "I am really, really far from home."

"So, you won't be able to help us. Well you're just a colt I didn't know what I was expecting."

"I didn't say that." Escutcheon stood up. "Mother's library was big and had a big book of theoretical magic. She made a picture book of it for me for my last birthday."

"Sounds like a terrible birthday to just get a book." Griffa said from a corner.

"Nope my eighth birthday was my best birthday. Mother always liked giving me funny gifts, and the pictures were really cool looking too. Also I got a cool sword from Father."

"Fascinating, but how does that effect this situation."

"Well, uh what was I saying." Escutcheon blushed as he realized he had lost his train of thought. "Oh right the book. Well you see there could be a way to hold as storm indefinitely in place. So if the spell was altered then it could also maintain a storm indefinitely as well."

"Both things we already know."

"Yes, but the magic would only last as long as the caster, unless they put it in an object."

"That's new information."

"That object would have to be at the center of the storm in order to maintain its location, and since it's lasted for so long is probably made of stone or metal, and if it's a spell in an object all you have to do is get the object and use a simple execution spell to cut of the magical flow and then the harmonic energies will shut down."

"You lost me."

"It's going to be real easy to cut off you just need a unicorn that understands basic magic. I could do it for you but first I'll need my bag."

"It's up stairs, I can't believe it will be that easy to end the Tempest."

"Well I actually have to get close to the object." The elder raised an eyebrow.

"How close." Escutcheon moved his hooves together. "That will be a problem."

Voler

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Tilda lead him up the stairs to his bag. "So what are you going to need?"

"I'll just need someway to get to the storm generator," he answered back. as his magic opened his bag. "Once I'm there it'll be easy to cut off the harmonic flow." He pulled the bag over to him and started shifting through the contents. "Here it is, I was worried for a second." He pulled his combing stick out and tossed his bag to the corner of the room.

"Is that your magic wand?" Tilda asked as he held the stick in his aura.

"What no, magic wands are nonsense, at least that's what Mother always said."

"Then what is that stick for?"

"It's for combing my mane." Tilda looked at him like he was crazy, he noticed the look. "Look I've not combed my mane in a two days and the last time I let it get out of hoof it was really painful to comb the tangles out."

"We have brushes."

"I know but this stick just feels right." Escutcheon studied the stick in his aura before putting it in his mane, and starting to comb out the tangles. The two of them went back down stairs Escutcheon still combing his mane with the twig, much to the bemusement of Griffa and the elder. "I'm sorry what's your name?"

"My name is Pace." he answered. "So are you ready?"

"Yep. I just need to get there now."

"And you Tilda?"

"Wait, what?" He looked between the two griffons. "No, no, no, no, no, no. I can't ask you to come with me you have a family."

"Well you not asking me to come, and I am sure you have a family too." Tilda grabbed him and tossed him on his back. "And as a mother I know that if my son was going to help end a never ending tempest for a part of the world he knows nothing about, and no one bothered to help him. I'd be far worse than peeved." Escutcheons just nodded his head. He'd only heard Mother use that word two times and she was really anger when she said it, he knew better than to argue.

"Will you be back for dinner Mom?"

"Not tonight darling, hopefully I'll be back the night after tomorrow. If all goes well." She hugged her youngest and set Griffa on the couch.

"You'll look after them?"

"Of course, see you in two days."

"If all goes well."

"If all goes well."

"Well come on Escutcheon. Let's get going hold on tight, if you fall off not even Pace has medicine for a fall like that." He gulped and hugged her neck. "That's good now let's go." She stepped out of the door to a hundred meter free fall. Her wings shoot out from her side, and the two of them shot off for the mouth of the cave and the eternal storm just beyond.

Dans la Tempête

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Outside the storm was furious. The wind wiped around in every direction. as the rain beat against the two souls that would try and brave it. Tilda tried her best to maintain her body's position, while all Escutcheon could do was wrap his hooves around her neck and hold on for dear life. The wind threatening at any moment to rip him away from the griffon and send him plummeting to the ground below. The two of them went south holding their course for hours.

"Things are about to get a bit bumpy!" Tilda yelled at the top of her lungs, trying to be heard above the howling wind. She could feel the colt's grip slipping. She grabbed his forehooves with her talons hoping that it would be enough. The turbulent winds slammed into Tilda throwing her and her passenger around like a ragdoll. Escutcheon was nearly ripped away from Tilda several times. The two of them fought desperately toward the south.

The storm's fury intensifying each second. "How far is the storm!" Escutcheon screamed over the storm.

"I don't know I've never flown south before!" The sky lite up as a bolt of lightning raced from one storm cloud to another. "Crude, hold on and what ever you do don't let go!" She tightened her grip till she was afraid that if she squeezed tighter he'd start bleeding, and then she nose dived straight down to the ground hundreds of meters below. The roar of the thunder drowned out the sound of the wind and Escutcheon's screaming. At the last second she threw her wings open coming to a sudden breaking stop ten meters from the ground, the flat grassy prairie had become a raging quagmire as the ground attempted to absorb the never ending tide of rain. She raced to a tree that now formed an island, and landed.

"Are you okay?" She asked as the two of them took shelter as the wind swayed the tree back and forth.

"I think my life flashed before my eyes." Escutcheon answered. rubbing his for legs where Tilda had grabbed him. They felt wetter than the rest of him. A flash of lightning confirmed it, showing five red streaks flowing down his white coat.

"Let's get that taken care of and try and keep going." Tilda pulled some bandages from a belt. "I'm sorry about that."

"It's fine. It beats falling to my death by a long shot." Escutcheon tried to sound like it was nothing despite the throbbing pain. "I don't know how much more rain I can take. I really hope that we're almost there, ow."

"Sorry." Tilda looked back to the colt and the south. "I was just distracted." After a few minutes Escutcheon climbed back onto her back and the two headed back into the storm fighting their way to the south, and the eye of the eternal storm.

Nuage vivant

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The storms fury intensified as the two of them pushed their way further south. Tilda flew low nearly skimming the raging lake that had swallowed up the grass lands. The lake’s surface surged with each gust of wind and flash of lightning. Escutcheon held on to the griffon for dear life, as winds and surging waves threatened to knock him from her back.

Tilda struggled to stay in the air, her wings ached, and her body drenched to the bone. The little unicorn’s grip around her neck was tight, and it was getting more and more difficult to breath with each flash of lightning, and peal of thunder. She had hoped to take another breather, assuming that the tops of trees would continue to offer spotted resting points along the way. Her assumption that the grasslands extended all the way to the Storm Peak was sadly misguided. No griffon had come this far in hundreds of years. Still she was cursing her luck. “Escutcheon I need you to check the compass are we still heading south.” She strained her voice to be heard over the howling winds.

Escutcheon’s golden aura reached out and grabbed a small compass from Tilda’s belt. “Yes! Our heading is exactly due south! How much further do you think it is?”

“I have no idea but I hope we’re close.” She faltered nearly plunging both of them into the turbulent waters below. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” Suddenly the weight on her back vanished. “Escutcheon!” She panicked.

“I’m fine.” Escutcheon scrunched up his face as his horn continued to glow brightly. His whole body surrounded in his golden aura. “I can hold this spell for a little while, at least.” He felt as though his head was about to split. “I think.”

“Don’t push yourself, If you burn out you can’t use magic.”

“I know, but if we don’t get there it won’t matter if I can use magic or not. If I burn out it’ll take me a few days to get it back, and you’ll just be a few days late for dinner.” He looked up at the raging storm, and his magic broke. “Uh, Tilda, do you see that.” He pointed one hoof up at the storm clouds up ahead.

“Yes, yes I do.” Four cumulus clouds rose above Storm Peak. They rose higher into the sky forming a wolf like body above. Lightning ringed around the chest of the cloudy body. Bolts of lightning eternally flashed forming blazing blue eyes. It’s maul opened into a raging lightning storm down it’s gullet. "Do you know what that thing is?"

"I was hoping you did."

Tomber

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"I've never seen anything like that before." Tilda hovered above the rough waters of the lake. "Do you think that there's any chance that the talisman that we're looking for isn't inside of that thing?"

"I-I don't think it is," Escutcheon gulped. "at least I hope it's not."

"There at the very top of the mountain." Tilda pointed with a talon to the peak of Storm Peak. "Where the creature's legs are forming. Do you think that could be it."

"Yeah, but why would it from the storm into that thing?"

"It doesn't matter, we're going up there and cutting this storm off at the source. Hold on tight Escutcheon. We're going in!" Tilda flapped her wings with renewed vigor, racing off for the mountain as she slowly gained altitude. The storm wolf looked down on the two of them. Tilda didn't flinch, and continued her flight to the peak.

There was a flash of light from the creature's mouth, soon followed by a large bolt of lightning. She veered hard to the right nearly throwing Escutcheon from her back. The storm beast's blazing blue eyes followed the two of them, as did several more bolts of lightning.

"It's protecting the talisman, are you kidding me?!" Escutcheon screamed.

"Escutcheon it's fine just hold on!" Tilda continued her advance flapping her wings harder and harder pushing herself to get to the top of Storm Peak before a lightning bolt got to her. She was already over land and ascending the lone mountain that jutted out of the land. A stray bolt of lightning struck the rocky surface above them. The mountain roared to life as boulders, the smallest of which was easily the size of the colt, began to avalanche down the side of the mountain. She pulled away from the mountain face, only to fill a buzz of electricity. In the half second she had to respond, her motherly instincts went into over drive and she turned around putting herself between the wolf's lightning and the world. A moment later the world went white, and quickly faded into nothingness.

Escutcheon hit the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of him, luckily his adrenaline kept him from blacking out. The ground was hard, and the rain pelted him like small stones. There was a buzzing in his ear, and the whole left half of his body was numb. "Mom?" He looked around in a haze. A bolt of lightning struck only a few hooves away, bringing him quickly back to reality. "Tilda!" He saw her body laying limp on the stone face a few meters from him. "Tilda!" He grabbed her in his magic, and looked around. A bolt of lightning lit up the mountain side, reviling a cave entrance. "It's okay Tilda you're going to be okay." He moved as fast as he could to the relative safety of the cave the griffon floating to his side.

éclair de lumière

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Escutcheon gently put Tilda down on the driest rock he could find. The storm outside had increase in ferocity, and the storm beast hadn't relented in its attempts to snuff out the two intruders. He paced back and forth, his eyes never leaving Tilda. Her breathing was haggard and weak. Each one seemed like it would be her last.

"Please be okay." Escutcheon walked up to her, and put his head to her scorched chest. His ears flopped back. Her heart beat was irregular, and slow. "Tilda I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry. This is all my fault if I hadn't tried to end the storm, you'd still be at home with your kids." He started to cry when he realized that Gilda, Gildan, and Griffa were going to loose the mother because of him. "No, no stay focused I can fix this, I just need to focus and stay calm." His ears drooped again. "How am I supposed to fix this. "What would Father do?"

"Dad would have done something awesome, and turned that storm wolf into a nothingness, and he wouldn't even be in this mess. Not helping not helping not helping!" He started hitting his head. "Wait a minute. Pace if he were here he could help. He helped me." He looked back over at Tilda and gulped. He knew the spell. It was what had got him into all of this trouble in the first place. He was afraid, afraid to use it again. "If I don't she'll die." He closed his eyes and steeled himself. He was going to use it one more time and this time he had to use it on someone else, and it had to work right. If it didn't he wouldn't know about it and she'd be dead.

"No it's going to work this time. It has to work this time." He closed his eyes and remember everything that Mother had taught him about the spell. He visualized Tilda's home her table with an assortment of meats. He focused making sure that it was real. Then he began to cast the spell his horn lit up, as the advanced harmonic tunes were woven. He need this to work, Tilda needed this to work. He knew he'd be burned out, but that didn't matter right now. HIs golden aura enveloped Tilda his face scrunched up. There was a golden flash. He fell on the floor slowly leaving consciousness he smiled at the empty spot were Tilda had earlier lay. He passed out alone in the cave as the storm raged on outside.

La Grotte

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Escutcheon got up, his side was killing him and his head was throbbing. The spot where he had set Tilda down was empty. He smiled slightly relieved, so long as she got back he was certain that Pace could heal her. Oddly enough he didn't feel drained, like the last time he had used that spell. Then again he hadn't teleported her half way across the world to some unknown corner of the planet in the middle of nowhere. He still didn't know how much further he could push it after all casting the spell had left him unconscious.

He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath and focused. He needed his things if he was to continue on his journey. He could see it in his minds eye in an upstairs room in a griffon's house. As his things all went back into his bag he began the more difficult part of the spell. "Come here." His voice was barely a whisper. HE could feel his magic pulling his toward him. He was already starting to sweat. He could feel his magic start to slip. If it gave out he'd never find his bag again. "Faster. Faster! Faster!" He watched as it speed toward him ever faster, across the raging quagmire. He could now see the mountain. Wait it's already here. "Slow down. Slow down! Slow down!" His eyes shot open to see the bag come threw the mouth of the cave. It slammed into him knocking him off of his hooves and throwing him the ground. The bag's contents spilled out on the ground. For the second time that day the world faded to black as he fell into unconsciousness. His horn a little charred at the tip. He was definitely burned out now.

He woke up with the headache to end all headaches. Both of his sides were in absolute agony, one where his bag hit him and the other where he was slammed into the ground. The pain congealed into an over all hurting, that just left him laying there crying. He had never felt like this in all of his life. He wished that Mom or Dad would come and hold him that this month long nightmare would be over, that he could finally go home. After an hour he had cried all the tears that he had. He struggled to his hooves and grabbed a bottle filled with a red liquid. He pulled the cork and took a few sips before putting it in his bag.

He began to grab everything and started putting them in his bag. All of his belongings from his old life, when he had a Mother and Father. Everything that he thought that he would need. He put it all into his bag. It wasn't even full anymore. He took his flint and steal and struck them together. His little candle lit up, and after a few minutes of fighting with a rope, candle holder and stick he finally got his light source ready. He headed deeper into the cave. His candle lighting the way, into the dark abyss.

His light pierced darkness of the cave, as he headed in. The cave was devoid of anything except the continuous dripping of water from stalactite. Even the sounds of the storm outside faded away into nothingness in the darkness of the cave. Just like him, he too would soon fade away into the darkness when his little candle went out.

"No." He shook his head side to side. He instantly regretted it as his headache came back with vengeance. "I can get home I just need to go west." He tried to convince himself of that. It was so much hard than it had been only a few days ago. Is home really on the other end of the horizon. The question had haunted him since he had started. It was always there. And even if home was just over the horizon. Would Mother and Father take him back.

His train of thought was brought to an abrupt stop as he stepped on something that snapped under his hooves. It looked like a twig, but it was white and there were so, so many of them.

Les Os

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The entire cave floor was filled with bones. They covered the ground at least one layer deep. Along the walls of the cavernous room wrapped a stairway. More bones covered each step. Even in his fear ridden state he noticed two things about the skeletons. The first thing that he noticed was that they were old. Many of them looked like they'd turn to dust if he so much as touched them. Some of them already. The second and more concerning to him was that all of them with out exception were unicorns just like him. His heart was racing in his chest, as stared into the hollow eyes of every skull.

After a few minutes Escutcheon's minor panic attack had come to an end, and he slowly regained his nerve. He found the stairway's base This wasn't even the bottom level. On his right were the stairs going up. They seemed to go all the way up to the top of Storm Peak. To his left were stairs that descended deeper into the bowls of the mountain. He took a few deep breaths hoping to that they'd calm his anxieties, and took the first step up. The room broke out in a flash of light.

"So, you've finally come to me, little agent of Clover." A deep, cold, and dark voice filled the cavern, coming from every part of the cave. "I've waited for her to send another to me. Another challenger, another proof of my power. I was beginning to think she had forgotten, or perhaps that she had come to her senses, and chosen not to challenge me again."

"Who, who are you?" Escutcheon stepped down off of the step, looking around the cavern all the hollow eyes of the dead looking back at them.

"I am the god that you've come to defy. That you've come to try and strike me down. I am Tempest Tossed." The voice boomed in the cave it was so large Escutcheon felt so little in its presence. "I am the one that you've come to challenge, did think that you could succeed where all of these that have come before you." Escutcheon began to panic his eyes never able to break contact with the hollowed empty sockets of all of the skulls. He began to run down the stairs in a futile attempt to get away. "That's right little unicorn run. Flee. Nothing is here for you but death. You are lucky that you are here now, for I have more pressing concerns. Those griffons shall be taught to fear me."

Escutcheon's blood froze in his veins, his heart stopped in his chest. "Wait the griffons. What are you going to do?"

"I will make them as I've made these. They shall be punished for bringing you here assassin. They shall be tempest tossed. Destroyed as all of these that came to defy me." A new horror filled Escutcheon's mind. A cavernous city filled with the dead. Tilda and her family nothing but bones, in a destroyed, decimated city.

"You can't do that!"

"I can do as I please. Nothing can stop me from destroying. None can save what I mark for death." Escutcheon looked back up to the floor he had been on moments before. "I shall not stop with them. I shall spread to the ends of the earth until all is Tempest Tossed. Escutcheon's face grew hard. He wasn't about to abandon his new friends to this. If saving them meant facing a giant storm wolf and winning then he would. He took a deep breath and headed back up the stairs.

Loup

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"What's this, you've had a change of heart little unicorn? Very well then come to me, Gaze up close upon my glory, and then little unicorn you shall die." Tempest taunted. Escutcheon didn't listen. Tempest Tossed had killed hundreds of unicorns, that number rose higher and higher as he did. The living storm was able to kill and clearly had no qualms doing it. If he could Tempest Tossed, could wipe the griffon town off the face of the earth. He wasn't about to let somebody else get hurt because of him. He wasn't even sure if Tilda was still alive. It was his fault he wasn't going to let her down again.

The thousands of empty black eyes followed him as he went up floor after floor to the top of the mountain. The dead watched the young unicorn as he headed up to battle the eternal storm. Each pair of eyes, that only a few minutes ago filled him to the brim with fear, now fueled a fury inside of him. An anger at the callous disregard for life. Each pair seemed to strengthen his will and resolve. The top floor lit up with a flash of lightning.

"Well little unicorn I congratulate you." Escutcheon looked up at the giant living storm that stood over the mountain like a god would stand over a city. Between him and storm wolf was the crystal that maintained the spell. It floated two hundred meters above the center of the mountain. "You are the first to make it this far in over nine hundred years. You may now marvel at my power and tremble before me!" With a howl the winds wiped up into cyclone force gales that ripped formed hundreds of water spouts over the lake. Lightning balls rolled across the sky illuminating the pitch black storm clouds that continued on in every direction to the horizon. "Bow little unicorn. Bow to me!"

"No!" Escutcheon screamed at the wolf. Buffeting himself against the winds that threatened to throw him off of the mountain. Fear raced back into him as Tempest Tossed's blazing blue eyes glared at him. He fought down his panic. "You're not going to hurt anybody ever again! I'm cutting you off!" Tempest opened his maul sparks of blue and white shooting out at random. He shot out a bolt of lighting at the defiant colt. Escutcheon ran for cover just seconds before. The bolt of lighting zapped the ground throwing that part of the mountain of the edge. A stray branch of the bolt struck him. He screamed as he rolled across the top of Storm Peak. Tempest laughed as he struggled to get back up on his hooves. "I won't bow to you. You're no god, you're just a bunch of rain clouds, with an ego."

"Insolent foal!" Tempest spewed out a river of lightning. Escutcheon jumped back into the cave. The ceiling above exploded and fell in. "You will not escape me." Tempest Tossed blew down into the cavern. A cyclone blew into the cave wiping up the skeletons of the dead and throwing the colt back out into the raging storm. Escutcheon slammed back down onto the ground. "Now do you see my power?"

Escutcheon stumbled back onto his hooves, a grin on his face as he wiped the red away from his eyes. "Hehehe. I've felt fans that were stronger than that." Tempest grinned and stooped down to face suddenly terrified colt.

"Do you think that I don't know what you're doing?" He was so close Escutcheon could hear the buzzing of the lighting that lit his eyes and mouth. "Did you think that I'd blow another cyclone and you'd get to get close my talisman to destroy it?" Escutcheon's ears dropped down. "No I think it's time for you to die." With a strong breath Escutcheon was sent flying of the mountain.

Escutcheon grunted as he slammed into the soft fluff of a storm cloud. It shot out several bolts of lightning. "What? How?" Tempest demanded as he rose back up.

"None of your concern." Escutcheon put this little fact in the back of his head as something to ask Mother and Father about later. Sure Father was a pegasus, but he was born a unicorn. Unless his mother's magic was somehow involved. She was always over protective, but until now none of her spells had protected him. He just thanked his lucky stars that something was going right. Even if it made absolutely no sense. "No matter." Escutcheon jumped to another cloud as a bolt of lightning blazed past him.

He ran as hard as he could jumping from cloud to cloud as Tempest tried in vain to throw him down to a sure death below. He was slowly making his way to the gemstone. Tempest howled and shot one final bolt of lightning. Escutcheon jumped landing on the sapphire. He tapped his horn to it. Nothing.

"What." His ears went flat against his head. as Tempest Tossed laughed.

"You're the first to ever get to the stone, and you're burned out aren't you colt. You're powerless, and stranded." Tempest Tossed turned toward the north. "Now watch as I destroy those griffons."

"No." Escutcheon focused on the talisman. "Come on stupid horn come on." Tears started streaking down his face, as pain and desperation started to force their ways to the surface. "Come on, come on. Come ON!" The world burst into illumination from a brilliant bright light. His eyes glowed like two moons as he floated over the gem. "Enough is enough Tempest Tossed. I send you back to the void." Again he lowers his horn to the gem. It shatters. Tempest screams as the lightning inside him roars out in every direction temporarily the whole world, to the horizons goes white. Escutcheon slowly lowers himself to the ground though he had know idea by what power he's doing it. He drifted into unconsciousness for the fourth time that week.

Les Visions

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Escutcheon felt weightless. He looked down on the ground he was so high that on the northern horizon he could see the mountain that housed the griffon's village. In an instant he's there above the griffon's mountain. The mountain looked as though it had survived a siege. Many of parts of the stone face had been scorched. Some of the griffons were coming out of the battered mountain gazing up in wonder as the few clouds that remained dissipated into nothingness. They seemed to be awestruck. He looked up over his shoulder. Above him glowed a brilliant aurora. It streaked across the skies out shining most of the stars. It was only matched by the moon in it's brightness.

He looked through the small crowd of faces for Tilda and her family. He soon found two very familiar griffons in the gathering throng. Instantly he was at the side of Gilda and Gildan. "Huh, he did it." Gilda mused.

"Yeah looks like it." Gildan looked behind him before casting a glance back up to the sky. "I wish mom could see this." Escutcheon looked away. Back to the moon. In an instant he flashed into a familiar room.

"I'm afraid that he's not in the north. We've looked over every corner." He knew the voice well. It was from Shining Armor. "I'm sorry I wish we had better news.

"He isn't in the south either we've gone as far as we could into the Badlands." Rainbow Dash's voice. He'd recognize it anywhere. "Hey don't cry, we'll find him. Even if my team and I have to fly to the ends of the Equus we'll get him home to you." Escutcheon wanted to go down stairs to see Mother and Father, but whatever power had brought him here wasn't obeying him. He could only pray that one of them would say something. If he could just hear them that would be okay.

"Please just let me stay here. Please." Escutcheon looked out of his old bedroom window out on the town. The sky above them was blue. The sun stood strong at midday. "I'm on the other side of the world."

"Everypony. Quickly outside. Something's happening!" Escutcheon marveled as the aurora. streaked across the western horizon.

Suddenly everything went black. He just floated in a dark void of nothingness. Instantly his body was raked with unbearable pain. It spread over his body. When he opened his mouth to scream all the air left his lungs leaving him gagging and wreathing for breath. Two giant fiery red eyes opened right in front of him.

"You will come to me." A mouth spoke spewing brimstone. "I will rip you, tare you, burn you, kill you." Escutcheon floated suffocating before the eyes, wreathing in agony. "You will suffer. You will come to me."

Escutcheon jerked up, sucking in as much air into his lungs as he could. He looked up the from the top of Storm Peak in every direction the aurora spread. He smiled as the fillings of pain faded like a bad dream. His eyes turned to the west, on the other side of the world, was home. Mother and Father were still looking for him. All he had to do was head west and he'd be home.

Marque de Beauté

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After a few hours of stargazing, Escutcheon started moving the bones of the dead unicorns to the next floor down. Once he was done he used the last bit of his magic to move a large boulder over the stairs. "Rest in peace." His small smile waned. He grabbed his saddlebag that had caught itself by its strap on a rock, and tossed it on his back.

The setting moon's light shown brightly as it approached the western horizon. Throwing the world into soft shades. The shards of the sapphire talisman began to evaporate, in the light. Escutcheon watched entranced as the stones turned to smoke blew away. All but one faded into nothingness. He tapped the crystal. Nothing happened. He shrugged and put the sapphire shard into his saddlebag. He jumped down to a ledge beneath him, as he slowly started decent down toward the entrance to the cave that he had originally entered. Hopefully stairs led down to an underground tunnel that would lead him to land on the other side of the lake. It was unlikely but he could hope for it.

He slid down the slope of the mountain. Most of it was simple, involving nothing more than walking or skidding down the side of the mountain. The first golden rays of dawn slowly casting the mountain into contrast of light and shadow. He arrived at the entrance to the cave as the sun's golden rays poured over the eastern horizon. He watched the sun light before he headed back into the cave. Something on his flank caught his attention. Were once his flank had been blank and the same white that the rest of his coat, now there was a cutie mark. He smile as he gazed at it. A purple Shield with seven, golden, seven pointed stars, two light blue swirls of magic wrapped around the bottom outside of the shield. "Well I guess I'd better get home, I don't want to miss my cute-ceañera. Mother and Father are going to be really happy to see this." He whooped and rushed into the cave hoping he was right about there being a tunnel under the lake.

Vers Le Bas

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Escutcheon headed back to the stairs that went through the heart of the cave. Hoping that there was an underground passage that connected the island to the mainland. There were after all a lot of unicorns but not a single pegasus in the bones in the cave. He was back in the darkness. The darkness of the cave wasn't as suffocating as it was previously. He didn't notice until he reached the middle of the mountain. Before he had a hard time seeing this time the room was full of a gentle blue hue that filled the whole cavern. He could see everything all the way to the back wall. Escutcheon looked around trying to find the source of the light.

"What the?" Escutcheon took off his saddle bag and pulled out the shard of the talisman. It gave off a gentle glow. The light never intensified, nor faded. "What the heck is this thing?" He rolled it around in his hoof. "Well this isn't really something that I'm going to complain about." He smiled as he put the sapphire back into his saddlebag. And headed down the stairs to the floor beneath him.

The gentle blue light filled everything. He then realized that the light was making everything calm. Before the dark eyes of the skulls had nearly scared him out of his wits. Now though they just seemed to be. He took a deep breath and headed deeper down. His feeling of dread that came from the bones, was now replaced by a deep sorrow, at this loss of life. All of these unicorns had died trying to stop Tempest Tossed. All of them had felled. Now he had survived. Him and not Tilda. "The world isn't fair." He stepped around a pile of bones. The light faded around him as he continued to descend.