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Interactive Quest  - with a noise like mountains falling

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" the visionary end of the dark-sight"

Through a haze of fever, the imperial hound dreams of running. 

Its wide paws twitch, scrabbling against the deep roots of an ancient red cedar. In its mind it’s coursing with its pack through the primordial forest, skirting fallen logs and clear babbling streams, ever on the hunt. But it lies in a shallow scrape of pine needles and dirt, and its left hind leg is useless, hinged at a terrible angle, infected where the skin is broken and the bone shines through. 

It’s white as a ghost against the roots, though the pale hair is patchy in places, caught between winter and summer. The hound has no concept of days or time; all it knows is that its pack has passed on, that it has lain in this hollow for long enough to go hungry, to go thirsty, to find that it can’t manage to stand. When its golden eyes flick open they are far away, and gleaming like marbles. The dog cannot hunt, cannot flee, cannot fight. It can only wait for death, or for a savior. 

Why Aion is passing through this section of Viride Forest is of no concern to the hound. Little is to the creature who pain and fever has carried so far, to the land of dreaming, the country next to death. But as the stallion makes his way beneath the ancient boughs the dog wakes, whimpering. The flies have found it again, and to them it is no proud canine, swift-running, limber-limbed, but only a moveable feast. Such is the law of the wild. 

Perhaps Aion hears the hound’s whining, perhaps he sees it white against the dark of the forest floor. When the canine sees the stallion, a growl ripples in its throat, but it is a half-hearted thing and dies away in a whimper. Whole and well, it would be a fearsome predator, five feet long and well over a hundred pounds. It might have hunted horses, once. Now it is reduced to the mercy of whatever happens by - a killer, a healer, an impassive man. The infection at its broken leg is clear, as is the fever that gives it such a glassy-eyed look.

And maybe, somehow, it knows its fate lies with Aion. Maybe it can feel the magic in him, deep and cold as a glacier, a breath of stoic winter against the racing of its heart and the coursing of its hot blood. It doesn’t lift its head, but though its dark lips draw back in a smile or a grimace its thin tail beats against the ground, stirring last autumn’s leaf-litter, scenting the air with rich earth and rot.  

There is always life in the forest, feeding off of the death that is just as constant, though hidden, slow-growing in the dark and deep. Seldom does any participant in the ancient cycle have a say. 

But Aion does. 

@Aion might feel a certain darkness in the forest when he's walking. The air feels heavy with a howl that has no sound. Even the leaves are quiet, deathly so. Any footsteps that have walked with him, even for a small distance, have long since dissolved in the shadows of the canopy. But maybe it's fate that carries him through the weighted forest towards the hound that growls at him the moment he finds it. But aren't all things full of sorrow always growling?

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This quest was written by the lovely @griffin


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