III: Start Your Descent

Iaurdagnire's picture
Dag & Apeldille collaboration.

Part I | Part II | Part III

The sound of impact, and a silence marked by an exhale of an obliterated airway. Iaurdagnire's harrowing breath is forced and laboured, but as if to relish in the torment the brave King places a raised hoof down on the ground as one final step into the dagger plunged deep into his chest.

And then — stillness.

The forest's noises seems to fade away, leaving only the sound of rapid heartbeats echoing through Ephiré's head. Then he notices another: a quiet drip-drip-drip.

A trickle of deep red dripping from his antlers onto his mask. He looks up and sees his tines stained with blood and suddenly that vast ocean of calmness comes flooding back into his mind. He blinks slowly, the world again shifting into focus.
Before him is Iaurdagnire, his carnelian-red markings joined by new red patterns and shapes running down his chest. The raven stag watches a droplet run through the maze of his matted chest before leaping to the ground, onto a dandelion. The Dandelion.

No... He chose his resting place.
Dag's stertorous voice chokes as his heart hemmorages, a breath cutting short as he his forced to cough blood into his open mouth,
"T-That feeling, the look in your eyes..."
Dag weakens by the second, and Ephiré finds himself helping his friend to stay standing, suddenly feeling the side of the Fortress' face on his own as blood spills into the crease between his mask and his cheek. Both tremble with aching muscle and something else akin to what one might think of as fear. No. It is a realisation that the moment has gone; there is no turning back. It is an understanding between two tied in what is a murderous act, that Dag was never lost, and something in Ephiré was found.
"... Y... Your reason must... -it always must be your own. It could never had been mine to let you... Never something that..."
Dag had been false. He had deceived to ensure an outcome that deep down, Ephiré could not have committed under lesser circumstance; that Dag could not have allowed take place.
"-That needed forgiveness, f-from me. From anyone."



The ground starts to sheer between them, and the hill quakes. The rumbles and shakes grow fierce, and Ephiré cannot hold Dag in his tines for much longer. Exhaustion comes crashing down and it feels as if he would fall, but it is clear he has no choice.
"Force of will surpasses body and mind. Remember that feeling."
Dag's voice suddenly sounds commanding, determined and unshaken with an inner tenacity different from the forced pretence of rages before. That was it... here he is, just as Ephiré remembered. Just as he should be. And as the earth parts, Ephiré is shoved backwards with the last of Dag's remaining strength. As his antlers become unsheathed, a lasting roar of unimaginable pain rips into the forest from Iaurdagnire's torn chest. Both fall away like great boulders breaking from the edge of a cliff, and an explosion of corrosive hot air and fire bursts the chasm between them. A creature rushes from within black viscous smoke to reveal himself standing one with the lifebloods of creation. His body courses with lava-flow and the brilliant white of superheated metals from the earth's very core, while the power and might of an ocean is carried on his back.

Ephiré looks up into the terrifying eyes of both a life giver and destroyer towering meters above him while his friend lays behind the inferno of elements, motionless.
"Speak your name, conspirator!"
The wolf's howl is a seaborn typhoon battering the highest mountains,
"While my servant still breathes he will see the death of his betrayer!"
Ephiré struggles to stand, but once to his feet he simply... stares, with emotionless vallation. The way he was before. The way he is. The way he should be. The wolf is angered to the extreme by the slayer's silence, and another quake is summoned; fine cracks appear all over the forest, and Spring raises a molten, fire-laden paw to snuff out the one with his servants blood splashed about his face.

"I know my place!"
There it is - that feeling of absolute unwavering power. Ephiré knew it was there, and could hear it in the stags belting bellow that stopped the wolf in his tracks. Relentless; Ephiré would forever remember and bare witness to that feeling himself.
A soft fluid tongue flicks between razor teeth, and the wolf turns, steam and smoke billowing from his movements as heat collides with water.
"It is a bit late to have finally accepted that, is it not, Iaurdagnire?"
He moves closer to Dag, who is on his feet but leaning awkwardly barely able to keep his head up - the leg Ephiré had shredded beyond all recognition hung limply, and the colour seemed to be draining from his face with the steady flow of blood from his chest.
"Your will to live is strong and in my favour... as long as you're still alive, I can end this once and for all. You will get what you wanted, and my Brothers and I will finally be put to rest. The Gods will be nothing without us... and they too will wither and be forgotten to the ages."
Dag stumbles and steadies his hooves, looking up through his antler's guard to Ephiré. Through the thickening fog Spring's heat in the moist air is creating, in the hopeless of hopeless moments, something passes between them.
"I know my place."
He repeats, the dying stag's voice a whisper as the forest starts to wake in the break of day. Something tells Ephiré not to move or look away... he could see it in the now crimson-maned stags eyes that this is to be the last time. Everything that had made him - every soul and every spirit that touched him - seemed to come alive as he made a last effort to stand lofty and tall against the creature that would slowly drown him. In his last stand, Dag's expression is that of a hawk descending on prey; focused and merciless.
"This is where they know my name. Here, where I stand, is my place. And I will die of free will taking you to hell to remind you of yours."
Dag's bleeding chest spills as he lunges, driving his crown into the russet, blistering cavity of the wolf's throat. Spring's body changes to rushing water the instant he feels Dag bolt onto him, cooling the magma that continually encircles his form and cracking as Dag pushes stronger still. Each now solid leg snaps at its roots in the earth breaking the wolf's hold, and one final assault sees Dag topple Spring over the edge of the crevasse he surfaced from.

... Ephiré watches as his friend falls in the death-grip.
The moment they both disappear, the ground quivers one final time as the hole partially closes behind them.

The Fortress is gone.

If one were to happen upon Dandelion Hill, it is mess of torn grass, beaten and bloodied earth from a fierce battle between giants. There is a large hole in the ground next to a lone dandelion, and the blood on the ground is the blood of two: Iaurdagnire and Ephiré. Ephiré's tracks lead to the birch forest, and judging by the blood in his fore-prints he appears to be heavily wounded.

Dag, however, is no-where to be found.

For (optional) character reactions towards Ephiré and the scene itself, please refer to this in-character information. This is the limit of knowledge your character can have from the scene - the event was not witnessed by any other.
Apeldille's picture

A huge thanks to Dag for

A huge thanks to Dag for letting me and Eph be a part of this <3 It has been awesome! and Dag is awesome! and eeee!

This, too, is amazing.

This, too, is amazing. ♥
Seed's picture

What. What.What.What? *really

What. What.What.What?
*really hopes that Dag isn't really dead, kind of in spite of herself*
Man, this is... A wonderful, thrilling downer.
...Not sure if I'll have Seed respond to this or not. I'll think about it. Seed doesn't really know Ephire well enough to do much with the info available...

Edit: Eh, I think I'll just let Seed mourn in his own way elsewhere, when I've got a bit more time. Screw the rules.

Someday these walls will

Someday these walls will speak,
The floor beneath you creaked,
To call my name.
Here in my web of dreams,
My whispers turn to screams,
And place the blame.

This had not been the first time she walked to that place with a heavy heart; the kind of fears realized, the kind where apprehension strangles, unforgiving. Though it was safe to say she was hardly prepared for the sights and smells that greeted her.

Immediately, she recoiled; the scent of blood was fresh and plentiful. She swallowed hard, keeping the bile confined within her stomach. It threatened eruption again as she recognized the scent signatures.

Some of it was Iaurdagnire's. The rest of it was Ephire's.

The earth itself was torn, nearly destroyed; it gave the appearance of a battle. A struggle for the right to life. A struggle for the right to exist. Her body swayed this way and that, the bile swirling mercilessly inside. Before she could fall, a sharp roaring bark freed itself from her throat, and she slammed one of her front hooves to the ground, anchoring herself.

She turned her head slowly to the dandelion, noticing the large crack within the ground. Step by careful step, she walked toward it. When she finally reached it, the only sight greeting her was that of empty darkness; it was an abyss that no mortal could hope to rise from. Desperately, she tried to find any sign of life from within, to find their scents; there was nothing to be found.

Desperately, she wheeled around this way and that, attempting to find any sign that could give indication that someone survived - preferably both. Her eyes rested on the slightest hint of a trail; it headed towards the idol in the Ruins, and appeared to extend further into the Birch Forest.

Ephire. But there was no sign of Iaurdagnire.

She couldn't stop it this time; a small trace of bile writhed free from her throat, crashing onto the ground with a dull splat! She immediately theorized what had happened, though there was no way to explain the crack in the ground and the obvious disappearance of Iaurdagnire's traces.

She approached the idol gingerly, sniffing the tracks, and staring off into the direction they headed to. The blood was thick and pooling vigorously - he was seriously injured, and her stomach twisted at the thought that he too would die.

Bones and sinew snapped, the body twisting itself into its familiar, original form. The now sandy brown shape shifter dashed off into the long grass, following the tracks without hesitation.

She wanted answers, she wanted comfort.

She wanted confirmation.
Hraeth's picture

Knew it. Saw it coming, but

Knew it. Saw it coming, but it's still a tough pill to swallow.
The entire story was excellent, though. All of it was well done. Bravo.

- - - - - - -

She had known it as soon as she woke and hauled her swollen form from the secrecy of her sleeping place. It was in the fog that sought to suffocate the forest. Its veil was not its usual, unbiased grey. Today, it was tinged in red and the mother-to-be knew exactly what had come to pass for he was in the mist and offering farewells in the gentle strokes of aerosol water and blood.
There was no rush in her steps as she coarsed through the vegetation and thick-trunked trees. With each landmark she passed, she visited a memory she shared with the Fallen Fortress. His ending came as no surprise to her. For as long as she had known him, she had known his story and she knew the ultimate end that this tale would deliver. It was only a matter of time until all creatures met their fate. Her path led her to Dandelion Hill where she discovered the refuse of the Giants Battle. Again, all she saw, she expected. Her intuition was both appreciated and hated. With it she foretold the grandest schemes, but it had long been the cause of her often bitter view of the world around her. Most fates, unlike so many wished to believe, were written in stone and no matter the efforts taken to avoid unwanted ends, were never deterred. Standing over the gaping chasm that still glowed at the edges, the doe shook her head with a purpose.

Displaced by the swift and sudden jostle, a dandelion seed, plucked during the height of summer, floated from the safety of a trio of feathers and into the yawning hell-hole. Guided by emanating heat and pulled by gravity, the seed floated with a kind of divine grace into the darkest reaches of the cavern without ever being harmed. Noelle watched until she could see it no more. There was no denying that something great had been brought to rubble. However, even the grandest castles could be rebuilt with time and this one had not lost its foundations. Forsooth, if the last great citadel had taught her anything, it was this:
Corner- and keystones of lives were lain not on dirt or rock, but in the lives and hearts that one has touched.

"Your foundation still stands. Until we meet again, Iaurdagnire."

And then she turned to follow the trail of the other giant. The one she had watched for so long from a distance; another pair of strong shoulders.
Reyy's picture

I wish you would write a

I wish you would write a book.
You have such talent and diligence (a hell of a lot of diligence) that I envy so much.
Dag's story has been such an amazing one. A thrill.
The way it has involved the community is just brilliant.
Thank you for such a wonderful plot. <3
Haru's picture

Dag...;n; What a beautiful

What a beautiful end to a magnificent story. ♥
Fincayra's picture

I second the notion about

I second the notion about becoming an author. I'd buy a book of yours in a heartbeat.
Really well done, this whole series. It's tough to see Dag go down, though.
Seed's picture

I third this notion. And then

I third this notion. And then go back to crying over this. It's really very touching.
OkamiLugia's picture


Kaoori's picture

excellent. But.. nonono.



nonono. ._.
GingerNut's picture

You're an incredible

You're an incredible story-teller and I just completely envy your style. Brilliant work... Dag ;;
Sighthoundlady's picture

Been waiting all week for

Been waiting all week for this! And it was just amazing. Brilliant, terrible and wonderful all at the same time. Gorgeous art too. Just the whole thing, so well done. Very inspiring.

;_; for Dag and Ephiré
Kaoori's picture

Dag-sama? Whereever you are,

Dag-sama? Whereever you are, know that you are loved.
..ki o tsukenasai.

Pegasicorn's picture

(No subject)

Zarinthya's picture

O.o wow...>.< man I missed

O.o wow...>.< man I missed the epicness it seems lol. :3 Im happy for you that you were able to take part! I have an unrelated question though, how is this page chaged? Normaly its the ussually back ground but this has been formatted differently, how?
I am the black dove humming to the sweet tune of night.
Hart's picture

Very well done, the art, the

Very well done, the art, the writing. It was a difficult read and I too teared up... Dag is a very special character.
Poor Eph..
Munkel's picture

Ah, I'm speechless. This was

Ah, I'm speechless. This was amazing.. very beautiful and sad.
You're amazing ♥

This was brilliant. &hearts;.

This was brilliant. ♥. Extremely sad, but still absolutely brilliant. I'm practically speechless.

Well done, at any rate.
Starling's picture

So beautiful. But so

So beautiful. But so emotional.

Mis's picture

This has been one epic

This has been one epic storyline, very heartbreaking as well though ._. The images are absolutely amazing, and so is your writing. Well everything is, simply put.. I wish i could write a more decent comment but, after coming back to this quite a few times and still not being able to, I have given up. But yes, I did enjoy this, heartbreaking as it may be ._.
Iaurdagnire's picture

Dille - HUAAAAAAA -flying

Dille - HUAAAAAAA -flying starlight highfive of awesome-
Selruil - Thank you (: ♥
Seed - Thank you, I think? Thrilling downer... haha, I like that. The effect on characters who are close to Dag is entirely up to the player, of course, but Dille and I wanted to have at least a guideline to avoid the complication of allowing witnesses to the fight. Seed can mourn however he wishes (:

Lung - Hnnn poor Lacie. Dag has missed her recently.
The fathoms answered her presence only with echoes of her movements. A hush of the ocean could be heard with closer inspection, the sound of placing ones ear against an empty shell. An empty skull. The hollow of a tree. A trick of nature cruelly offering her no solace - only a reminder.

As she turns her back, a fragment of trodden earth slips into the path her friend took and takes the equally lonely journey. A stone of volcanic nature next to the dandelion shifts in its departure.

Hraeth - Thank you Hrae. -Crunches hand into the screen- I want to play with the dandi-seed ;n; What you've written is beautiful... you're so good at... I dunno, ALL THE THINGS.
I had forgotten about the word citadel; I like it very much, for him.

Something else has been watching...
Though his spindle fingers daren't touch which is not yet his.

Ravyn - Aw you're so kind, thank you for being involved/wanting to read them. That goes for everyone.
Haru - Sweet Haru, endings are boring because it means the fun is over! (;
Fin - Haha, well if I ever serialize Dag's epic adventures you lot will be the first to know ;D
Okami - c: Thank you.
Kaoori - .... ;; That picture... I want to blanket her and give her a hug.

As the Shika cradles it, a voice that cannot be heard cries with her, for their friend.

Pega - Woooow, awesome job on the perspective, very nice composition! Thank you, I really like it and don't know quite how to respond to it. I'll think of something.
Zarinthya - I don't quite understand what you mean? I didn't take part in anything... or are you addressing Apeldille for taking part in my story? XD -confused-
The formatting is CSS. A lot of people use it to change their blogs, and Unplugged has made a great page here all about it.
Vee - Thanks, I'm happy it was a little emotional for some to read! No matter how mean that sounds, haha.
Munkel - No you're amazing -girly swipe- .//u//. rofl /silly
Thank you ♥
Ammy - Thank you very much (:
Starling - Awh, I'm glad you think so ): -> (:
Misako - Ninja, I was about to post and thought "hm, I'll refresh just in case", and there you are! Thank you so much (:

I'm really happy that Dag's series has been enjoyable and that the things I've done for it resonate in the community some way. Someone told me that I should do it for myself, but if I'm truly honest a little part of me just wanted to do it for you guys seeing how much you all seemed to look forward to them.

In case anyone has missed the brick-like hints, it isn't over until it's over! T'would behoove you to take notice of subtleties elsewhere that may appear...
Fincayra's picture

Hrrr, sorry. Wanted to write

Hrrr, sorry. Wanted to write something quick. ;;

- - -

Sleep refused to grant him passage into the dream realm. Though he knocked on Its doorstep and begged to close heavy lids for just a little while - five minutes, perhaps? - the way was barred; it would not be had tonight. So with groaning limbs, The Monarch rose to take a restless stroll through the dark forest. His walk quickly became a jog as he pushed himself onward through the mist, the ritualistic exercise growing more rigorous as brushfire eyes hardened within the socket's shadow of his mask of bone. Despite weariness, he rose his head high and heaved with each footfall, clouds of breath rolling from his nostrils in the biting winter air. He was impressive, but even in his movement his shoulders seemed to sag from a unseen weight laid heavy upon him. His countenance, indeed, was not as it once had been. He was a regal monster, a look of hardship and betrayal and one who has seen too many deaths in his life.

It would be the first time seeing the wreckage of Dandelion Hill. Slowing from his exercise, the skull-masked stag emerged from the gloom to start at the scene before him. The ugliest of scars along the ground told him of an unnatural trench that had been there, though how it had formed, The Monarch could not understand. But perhaps the most unnerving detail of the horrifying seen was the pungent scent of blood that hung as heavy as the fog over the area. How had he not scented it before? Cautiously, Esll picked his way through the ruins of what he presumed had been a fight, the likes of which - although the forest was home to the bloodiest and most disturbing of scuffles - he had never come across before. Someone must have died here. Scenting the bloodstained grass, he realized with a jolt that one of the blood types bore the same smell of that which had covered his mate when he met her that evening. She had known, then. With a snort, the stag brushed off the frustration stemming from their silence and continued.

His eyes fell on the dandelion, the Scar-Giant's pride.

Lonely as it was, the tall thing appeared even more desolate in the dark gloom. It looked quite pathetic now, in fact. The Monarch drew closer. Blood stained its fragile body, and it appeared bruised, battered, and, ultimately, defeated. Esll's heart sank, but he dared not dwell on the possibility. No. He was around here somewhere, perhaps in hiding as he healed from battle wounds. But the stag was kidding himself. The clash of titans - for the ground bore evidence of a fight between two beings with the strength of gods - could only leave one survivor.

With a sudden sorrow blanketing the dark stag, he collapsed to the cold ground beside the great, lonely dandelion. And he began to clean it. His tongue worked more softly than seemed possible for a stag of his size, but he was delicate and loving, as if he were cleaning his own fawn. At length the plant regained its original color, and with a low, mournful moan, The Monarch hauled himself up again and departed as silently as he had come.
Seed's picture

I'm glad it's not over just

I'm glad it's not over just yet -- everyone just seemed to treat this as so final, it was like... "Did I miss the memo?"


Seed was writing a poem, a tribute to a little-seen great friend. He was scratching it first onto the dirt with a forehoof, treating the writing of it in the picto-sign language of the deer as a sort of dance, aproaching each word and drawing it from the side.

the great rumbling mountain of his shoulders
shouldering those burdens of tenderness and time --
of friendship laid to garland his scars like flowers
that we deposit and annoint by him, not for his size
not for his fierceness, nor for his courage to fight the world,
but for...

As his hoof scratched the words into the dirt, tearing out grass and leafmold, the trees sent shuttering whispers into the air. Urgent, and lonely, stretching from... stretching all the way from Dandelion hill. The hill was wrong -- there was blood on the ground. And Iaurdagnire was lost, and nowhere to be found. Lost was the word they used, and Seed heard in it the way they wanted to protect him. It didn't mean anything to him, lost.

But the thought beneath it, that someone who Seed would have always trusted with his heart was... Was gone... Was gone like everyone else, gone like almost anyone he stupidly dared to think of as a surrogate family...
Seed dropped to his green knees, letting the weight of his body smear out some letters at the bottom of the strophe. His head lowered, antlers dropping flowers like a fall shower of leaves.

"Please, please, don't be true... I never got... to spend the time I wanted with you..."

One droplet pried from gold eyes hit the ground. And another. What did pretty words matter, without a Dag to listen to them, to flatter Seed by being flattered in an endless loop?
As the droplets fell, the dirt beneath Seed slowly became mud, and erased the words as if he had never written them at all.

Silverpaw15's picture

Corgeous, stunning,

Corgeous, stunning, mind-blowing. o_o
This was absolutely an incredible story to read.
Dag and Apeldille; just..wow. You guys have done an incredible job, both of you.

The young stag approaches the hill, intending to rest there and gather his thoughts like he does so very often. The hill is a calming place to him. He arrives from upwind, but even then the sight of the hill makes him slow down, his steps falter. Something's amiss. He lifts his head high, listening but hearing nothing. It's silent. Not even the birds are singing. He keeps going, hesitantly.

He circles round, and the sight that meets him immediately has him on edge, wary. Blood. Signs of battle. What has happened here? His front hoof scrapes the ground nervously as he surveys the scene. He is alone. He approaches again, but maintains a respectful distance. He sniffs - the scents are faint. He can separate a few. The other he doesn't really know although it's familiar. The other belongs to his father's friend, Iaurdagnire. What has happened here? Where is he?

Zacharias pulls back, not daring to go closer. Something horrible has happened here. His ears fall back and he turns to walk away. He doesn't go far, but remains on one of the smaller hills next to the ruins. Observant, and worried. A friend had been hurt..and yet his scent is almost gone. The torn scene haunts his mind. The flower..and the hole. He remains vigilant. Hopefully whatever attacked them would not come back. Iaurdagnire..where are you?
Iaurdagnire's picture

Fin - Esll is a softie, bless

Fin - Esll is a softie, bless him.

Seed and Silver - Thank you guys, I'll respond to yours at some point. It's difficult for me to spend time here at the moment.