Snow coated mountains shone bright in the sunlight, and stretched out for miles around into the horizon. Pine and spruce trees sat in clusters, blanketed with snow on their green needle branches, too heavy to move in the soft wafts of wind. Etched in the snow were winding ribbons of large animal prints, along with long winding tracks of lines.
Riding with the icy wind, a girl on a board flew down the mountain side; kicking up snow into the air behind her. Running after her was a large white Snow Hound; leaping over large drifts and trees, and made the snow fly in his wake. The girl entered a narrow ice, and rock channel then bent low to slip through the pass, sliding under the glinting teeth of jagged icicles. She swiftly neared a drift that was pasted into a ramp formation, then took to the air, bending to grip her board as she spun. Nearing the snow, she held her left hand flat toward the approaching ground. Wind that she could bended to her will pouched her up as she turned her body in a flip. Landing safely back on the snow, she continued to race down the slope.
"Show off!" Shouted the Snow Hound playfully.
"That wasn't showing off!" She called back. "That is!" She pointed to a large snowy ramp over a steep slope.
"You're going to end up in the snow again, Sis!"
"I'm going to get it, just watch!" She called back, steering toward the ramp with a wave of snow flying behind. Shifting her weight in preparation of the jump, she took to the air, and spun while gripping her board. She soared high past tops of tall pine trees, and stayed airborne as the deep sloop flew by under her. With gravity pushing her back to the ground, she hit the snow and lost her control, then found herself diving head first into the snow. The Snow Hound bounded over as the girl dragged herself out of the snow.
"Told you so!" He grinned, showing his white sharp fangs and long tongue as he panted.
"Yea, yea, well I hope I made your day!" She growled, pulling away her large crimson scarf that covered the lower part of her face, and her round goggles in attempt to remove the clumps of cold snow.
"You certainly did!" He retorted with glee. "You didn't hurt yourself this time did you, Sis?"
"Does pride count in the category?" She grumbled.
"Only when around strangers."
"I'll live." She informed.
He walked up to her, and she climbed up onto his back while holding her board under her right arm.
"You what to go again, or head back?" He asked.
"Actually, could we head to Fang Peak?"
"Maria—," he sighed.
"Come on, it's not that far!" Maria pressed.
"Fine! But when it gets dark, and we get in trouble; I'm telling mom, and Ara that it was your idea."
"It'll definitely be dark at the rate of your complaining." She grumbled.
"I heard that!" He growled over his shoulder, and ran up the snowy slope.
The way up Fang Peak was peerless for a human. But for a Snow Hound, it was a simple climb over the steep and ragged snow covered rocks. Within the hour the pair where near the top, and looked out to the horizon. Just past the snow capped mountains was a thin line of green that can only be seen on clear days such as this.
"One day, Ronon," Maria murmured. "One day I'll go to every Kingdom and world that Aunty Ara has gone to, and to the ones she hasn't been to."
"You say that every time we come up here," Ronon replied. "Do you even know how she's gone to those other worlds you talk about?"
"The same way the Royals of the Mushroom Kingdom have done it," She replied. "She must have. I haven't read about any other ways people have passed between dimensions."
"Still," Ronon changed to a topic he could understand with logic, other than ancient magic that he cared little for. "Our world is plenty big enough with our guardianship of the north: battling Gulpits and Frost Piranhas. And besides, it's hot to the south!"
"I think it would be amazing to see the desert, or a jungle, and the sea!" She murmured dreamily.
"Of course you would, you can't live without heat! You furless Hound." He playfully joked.
"Not everyone is born with a fur coat. And I'm not completely hairless!"
"Yea, only on your head that you like to weave. It's not even the proper color for camouflage."
"At least I don't smell like a Gulpit." She jested with a smile.
"Hey, I resent that remark!" He smirked, and began the climb down as Maria looked back to the distant green horizon.
"Have you noticed anything strange lately?" Ronon asked after a long silence.
"No, why do you ask?" Maria inquired.
"Mother has been restless for a week; she hardly sleeps, and she's making us do more patrols."
"I can't see why, nothing strange has appeared in the heavens—at least, nothing I've noticed—and Ara doesn't seem to be bothered by anything. Maybe Stormy is just suffering from stress."
"Maybe, but something is off. I can feel it."
Silence grew as they climbed down, and finally reached to bottom of Fang Peak. As Ronon made for her home Maria though over his words. And the more she pondered, the more she believed that something has changed in the world.
Snow Hounds are the guardians of the north for a reason; not only are they powerful, large creatures in a shape of a humongous wolf that can live for up to two hundred years, they're also wise and can sense things that not even a Sorcerer could.
"I'll ask Aunty if she's heard of anything, okay?" She stated after a while of thought.
"Okay." He replied.
It wasn't long till they finally reached Maria's home. Twilight was closing fast with the setting of the sun behind the jagged mountains. Maria slid off Ronon with her board still under her arm then turned to him.
"Thanks for the ride, Bro." She thanked.
"Hope you had as much fun as I did, Trouble." He teased.
"I always do on snow days, good night."
"Night." He replied, then took off into the hills of snow and rock.
Maria turned to the log cabin that glowed with the fire from the hearth and candles behind the windows. The glass greenhouse stood untouched by the snow—upon it melting within an inch of the glass because of the enchantment that allowed them to grow their plants in the endless winter. She pushed her way through the snow that nearly reached her knees to the door. And patted away most of the snow from her before entering.
Once inside, Maria inhaled the aroma of spicy chowder that she could tell still needed time to cook. But her stomach rumbled achingly in protest of being empty for hours. She pulled her gray fur coat off, and placed it on the hook on the wall, next to the bookshelves that covered a vast majority of the wall space.
"About time you came back home," Spoke the flat, proper voice of Ara as she emerged from the cellar. "You and Ronon went to the peak again." She stated rather then asked.
"Yes, but we didn't stay long!" Maria informed, removing her boots and wet stockings, and placed them near the fire to dry.
"I wish you would listen to me about that mountain. Even a Snow Hound can lose their footing up there."
"Ronan is the best climber in the north, Aunty. Even better then Stormy!" Maria stated, gazing at Ara with her sapphire blue eyes. "May I be excused? I'm cold, and a cup of hot chocolate is calling my name."
Ara watched her go into the small kitchen with her dark gray eyes, matching the hue of her curly tresses that was pulled back in a long braid, reaching past her hips. She watched Maria cook up a small pot of the creamy chocolate liquid. Then after a short while, Maria caught her looking at her, and a look of insecurity showed on her face.
"What?" She asked. "Have I got something on me?"
"Just remembering you in your infancy, is all." She replied, and Maria went back to preparing her hot chocolate. "How is Ronon?"
"Fine," Maria replied as Ara took a seat by the table. "But, he's…he's concerned for Stormy."
"What do you mean?" Ara asked as Maria poured the stemming chocolate liquid into a mug.
"You want any?" she asked in offering.
Maria took a seat next to Ara, and wrapped her chilled fingers around the warmth of the brown ceramic mug.
"He said that she's been restless, and making him and the others do more patrols. Also, he feels that something is off. Have you heard of any news from Shiver City, or from anywhere else?"
"No, I haven't. And you need not worry, Mia. Stormy most likely just wants her cubs to learn the lay of the land better."
"I guess you're right." Maria murmured, taking a sip of the hot chocolate to warm her from the inside, and satisfying her aching stomach till dinner. Ara caressed a loose lock of Maria's dark chocolate hair behind her ear. Maria glanced at Ara to see her gazing lovingly at her.
"Remembering my infancy again?" she asked.
"Yes, and no," Ara replied, reaching a hand to stroke Maria's messy braided hair. "It seems only yesterday that you came into my life. And now you have grown into a young woman. Finish your drink, then come down to the cellar for practice."
Maria watched Ara rise, and go as the wind beyond the walls started to whistle; indicating that a storm was picking up. She finally drained the mug, and went back to the main room to slip on her wooly slippers. And then went down into the cellar through the thin doorway.
The cellar was always chilly, even with a hearth blazing to the right. The stone walls were tightly packed, and sealed to keep out any leakage, should the warm days of summer manage to melt any snow; which they do normally around the solstice. Book shelves covered every wall in the first room of the cellar. All well-kept and organized. Ever since Maria could remember, Ara told her to keep good care of the old, worn books that were made centuries in the past. Some were newer, but most were written in the ancient languages that Ara drilled into Maria from age one. She still curls-up in her favorite corner; surrounded by books, fluffy pillows, and a pelt to keep warm as she read.
Maria followed the thin hall around to the second room that served as a training aria when the weather was too unforgiving for practice outdoors. Torches all around the room had been lit, casting dancing light on the stone ground, and on the wooden posts that also held torches. And Ara stood to the far wall with a small open jar of sand in her hands.
Maria took position at the center of the room, standing in a circle drawn on the stone with white chalk. She closed her eyes, then breathed deeply and slowly, listening to the wind of the growing storm beyond. Ara held out the jar and tilted it to release the sand. Maria heard the faint hiss of the falling sand, and willed the air around her hands to fly over and catch the sand. The air followed the fluid motions of her hands and body; flying from one torch to another in twirls and spirals. She bent and turned in a type of dance, but never left the circle as she guided the air. Soon all the torches were snuffed out, and the two clouds of wind and sand meet around Maria's hands that moved in a circular motion, gathering up the sand in a sphere of wind. Once all the sand was gathered to her hands, she guided the sand back into the jar in Ara's hands with a quick gesture of her hand flying outward.
They both stood in near complete darkness; save for the orange glow of light from the other room. Ara tilted the jar back up, then snapped her fingers, and the torches bloomed back into fiery life.
"When will you teach me to do that?" Maria asked.
"We have been over this before Maria," Sighed Ara as she followed the hall back into the second library. "When you have mastered the elemental power over air, you may then begin to learn the next element that speaks to you. If a second one speaks to you."
"But I have mastered air," Maria pressed. "For all my life you've taught me how to bend it to my will, I'm ready to learn my next element!"
"Guiding sand on air currents is much different than bending the winds of a storm to your will. For most, it takes a lifetime to learn the simplest forms for a single element!"
"Then let me prove it!"
"No, Maria! You are still a child, and too ambitious for your own good."
Maria glared at Ara, looking as if to start snarling at her like a Snow Hound. But the tension fell when someone started to rap on the front door. Both stood silent and looked up to the rafters.
"Stay here." Ara ordered firmly, then swiftly went up the steep stairs. Maria's eyes followed Ara, wondering who could possibly be at the door. The only visitors they ever received were Stormy, Ronon, his brothers and sister: Sef, Kane, and Raw. And the occasional northern penguin from the city; delivering supplies that Ara ordered. But Hank the deliverer wasn't due for another week, and Snow Hounds don't knock; they scratch at the wood of the door.
Maria heard the door open, followed by the howling of the storm. Muffled voices reached her ears, and she quietly ascended the stairs as a thud meet her ears followed by the sound of the door slamming shut. She crouched low as she neared the top, then slowly peered around the corner.
Laying on the floor was a snow covered form in navy blue robes that had a limp pointed hood. Ara crouched by the form's side, pulling the hood back to examine the charcoal black skinned man. His straw blond hair laid in frosted waves, frost also clung to his lashes and eyebrows.
"Is that a Shaman?" Maria asked with wide eyed curiosity, remembering her studies of other magic users. And the man on the floor matched all the descriptions of a Shaman: dark skin and pointed hood. Save for a staff that he seemed to lack, as well as a wand, and even a crystal ball didn't appear to be on his person.
"Maria!" Ara snapped after glancing up at her. "I told you to stay downstairs!"
"Is he dead?" She asked, creeping closer.
"No," Ara replied. "Make yourself usefully and push the sofa close to the fireplace, then help me move him."
Maria quickly darted out of the stairwell to the main room, and started to maneuver the cushioned sofa that was blanketed with a large brown fur pelts, closer to the hearth where her boots still sat. Once done, she darted over Ara and the Shaman.
"Lift his legs when I say." Ara ordered, and Maria firmly griped his legs just beneath the knees.
"One, two, three." Ara counted, then they heaved him up.
While lifting the heavy Shaman toward the sofa, she found herself thankful for the hours of chopping wood and trees, and for adventuring in the snow and mountains; otherwise she would be struggling more like Ara. Soon they heaved him up onto the sofa, Ara ordered her to get blankets as she removed his robe, boots, and gloves. Maria quickly clambered up to her loft to retrieve a quilt and fur blankets, then lightly leapt down to give them to Ara.
"Do you know him?" Maria inquired.
"No," Ara replied laying the fur blankets down first over him, then the quilt. "I know nothing of him; save for the fact that he is the grandson of Merlon."
"How can you tell that he's the grandson of your old mentor? And what would bring his grandson here?"
"You ask too many questions sometimes." Grumbled Ara. "Go tend to the chowder before it burns, would you?"
"Fine." Murmured Maria, then went to the kitchen.
Maria laid comfortably beneath her layers of fur blankets. The questions that swirled around in her head kept her from drifting into the arms of slumber. Laying on her side, she gazed at the small army of wooden figurines she carved, comprised of polar bears, gulpits, frost piranhas sitting in wooden carved stones, a lopsided swoopula laying on its back, a miniature set of her Snow Hound family, and a star with two slits for eyes.
The feeling of unease stuck to her like a looming shadow, thoughts raced from one reason to another on what disaster could have befallen some distant city, or some poor soul. Even wondering if Bowser had decided to throw aside the peace treaty, and has kidnap Queen Peach once more.
Maria remembered the penguins of Shiver City telling her such stories of the famed King and Queen in their younger years. As well of the heroic adventures that Mario and Luigi, the Great Brother Duo had through the years. It was those stories that gave her the thirst for her own adventures. And from the books depicting such lush and wild lands that were just beyond the frozen horizons of her home.
"Perhaps the King will venture here," She wistfully thought. "And will require the aid of someone that knows the lay of the land. And maybe then, just maybe, I could finally see the world for myself!"
Maria knew that this was wishful thinking, and that it was a far cry. But that didn't stop her from wishing to the figurine of a star among her small army.
Next morning, Maria awoke at the crack of dawn to check on their guest, only to find him still unconscious. Though she was disappointed that none of her questions would be answered yet, she laid a hand on his forehead to feel that he was now warm. She was no healer, but she knew that it couldn't be much longer till he was well again, since Ara informed her that he hadn't gotten frostbite on his hands or feet. Maria left his side, and stroll toward the kitchen.
"Are you, the apprentice of Ara?" Asked a low, hoarse voice from the sofa.
Maria turned to see that the Shaman's eyes were partly open.
"Yes, yes I am! Ah!" Maria hastily replied. "Wait right there!" She darted past the doorway of the kitchen, and flung open Ara's bedroom door.
"Ara!" Maria called, rushing to the bed, and shock Ara's shoulder. "He's awake!"
"What?" Ara snapped awake, bolting upright.
"He just woke up!" Maria reported. Ara pushed the blankets aside, slid out of bed, and slipped on her brown robe and slippers.
"Go to the greenhouse and get poppy roots, and stems of Helen's lace, then make them into a brew." Ara ordered.
Maria darted from the room to the kitchen. Running past the table and ember glowing hearth, she dashed to the door that led out into the greenhouse. She quickly gathered the roots of the blood red poppy flower, then cut some stems of Helen's lace; a white, small flowering bush plant that hardly stood a foot high. She then returned to the kitchen to perpetrate a brew, but grew still when she heard the muffled voices from the mine room. Curiosity overpowered Maria, compelling her creep close to the corner to eavesdrop, and get some answers. But, she couldn't be farther from the mark.
"…The people of the Mushroom Kingdom are in terrible peril; with their King and Queen in Bowser Junior's hands, even the Duke Luigi has gone missing!" The Shaman informed.
"I am sorry to hear this, truly," Replied Ara. "But, I am not as young as I once was, Merlow. I cannot match the young brute."
"Begging your pardon, Mistress. But, it's not you the Star Spirits called upon, but your Apprentice: 'A young hero can be found in the north; a sorceress that can command the wind.' That is what they told me. Can your apprentice command the air as they've claimed?"
"No," Ara lied, bewildering Maria. "I have been teaching her the ways of the Sage. The child has no elemental power."
"No elemental power?" Maria angrily echoed her words, throwing the plants to the ground as she stormed around the corner. As Maria marched toward Ara, her mentor placed her hand over Merlow's face, and quickly whispered under her breath. Merlow slumped back into the pillows, his eyes rolling up into his head, before his eyelids closed.
"What've you done?" Maria asked, gazing at Merlow.
"What any good Guardian would do." Ara replied, reaching for Maria's hand, but Maria stepped back. Anger and confusion shown on her face.
"What have you done to him?" she repeated in a growl.
"A harmless memory spell," Ara replied. "He will not remember anything the stars told him when he wakes up at Shiver City. And he will not remember coming here."
"Why? Why did you lie about me?"
"You are a chil—,"
"Don't, call me a child!" Maria roared. "I'm sixteen years old!"
"You are my child!" Ara gripped her shoulders, and dug her fingers into her. "I raised you, trained you! I love you as if you were my own flesh and blood, and I will not let the blasted stars destroy you!"
"Destroy me? The Star Spirits are meant to protect people, not destroy them!"
"One day I will explain, but not now."
"When I'm not a child, right?" Maria growled, breathing heavily from rage. She tore herself away from Ara and gathered her boots to quickly slip them on.
"I've heard enough!" Maria barked, throwing on her coat, and grabbed her scarf and board before throwing open the door.
The morning was quiet with fresh drifts of shining snow; in contrast to Maria's heart and mind that stormed like a blizzard. She leapt out onto her board, and pushed herself away with the air, and blooming snow behind her. The forest of snow covered pine trees that reached for the sky, consumed Ara's calls, and all other sounds as well. Maria flew down the slope with snow flying behind. She wove around trees, and knocked snow from branches as she brushed past. And only stopped when she came upon Jack's Cliff.
The cliff loomed above a frozen river, shimmering with snow, and sharp ice covered rocks. It was named after an explorer who walked right over the edge, and died hitting the cement like ice of the river.
Maria gazed over the snow covered land of pine trees and mountains that rise up to the cold blue sky, and fell far below to countless humps of drifts. She got off of her board, scooped up a handful of snow, and angrily slapped it into a hard ball then chucked it far over the edge of the cliff.
After venting her anger out onto the snow for a while, Maria sank down into the snow, and placed her nearly frozen hands under her coat. She sat there shivering with the sun shining its light on the snow before her. And she refused to shed any amount of tears of frustration.
Twigs snapped behind Maria, making her leap to her feet with air picking up around her. But the wind died when she saw Ronon creep through the needle branches of a pine tree, knocking snow onto his muzzle and white coat.
"Sis," Ronon softly spoke. "What's wrong? I could smell your anger miles away."
"You were right," Began Maria. "Something was—is—wrong, and Ara…" She sighed, trying to calm her swirling thoughts.
"Start from the bagging, Maria." He gently ordered, and went to sit next to her board. She sat close to him for warmth against the brisk breath of wind.
"Alright," She began. "Last night, a Shaman came to the cabin as the storm started. He fell unconscious, but awoke this morning. As Ara thought I was making tea, she talked with him. But I eavesdropped, and learned that Bowser's son has taken over the Mushroom Kingdom."
"What about the King and Queen?" Ronon inquired. "Don't they usually handle things like this?"
"Not when they're being held captive, they can't. That's why the Shaman came here; the Star Spirits told him that a young sorceress of the north that controls the air element can fight him. But Ara lied, and has whipped his memory of the prophecy and me. Then she started spouting nonsense about the stars destroying me."
Ronon sat in silence, processing what she told him.
"Did she say why, or how the stars would destroy you?"
"No." Maria replied.
"Did you let her?"
"I gave her a chance to explain, but she didn't!" She snapped.
"Alright, cool it!" He replied. "Maybe we should go to mother, and see if she can straighten this out."
"No," She replied. "She would only take Ara's side. We're on our own with this one."
"Maria no, get it out of your head!" He ordered in a small growl after a moment of silence, seeing the gears turning behind her eyes.
"Why not?" She retorted. "The Star Spirits did send for me, and the people of the Mushroom Kingdom needs me."
"It's not our concern."
"You sound like Ara," Maria snarled before rising. "I may not have been burn a Snow Hound, but I grew up next to you and the others. Your duty is mine. We protect the innocent. And the people of the Mushroom Kingdom needs someone, and my name has been called!"
Maria and Ronon gazed hard and long at each other. Only the wind and glittering snow moved and softly whistled.
"You really mean to go then?" He softly asked, and she gave a small nod. "I heard the son of Bowser is more ruthless than his father ever was."
"I've fought bigger and meaner things than myself before." Maria stated.
"Yes but not on your own. Please, sis…" He stopped knowing well that once an idea was in her head, it never left. "Then I'm coming too."
"You said you would never go the south."
"That was then, this is now."
Maria's features softened then apprehend him to wrap her arms around his thick neck.
"I love you brother, and as much as I'd love to see you whine like a baby about the heat; I can't help but feel that this is something I have to do on my own."
"Have you been frostbitten in the head?" He replied, pulling away to look down at her.
"Ronon, pleas. I need you to back me up on this one."
He gazed at her pleading eyes, knowing well that she could get into a lot of tribble, but also could get out of it.
"Fine, what's the plan?"
Ronon effortlessly trudged through the snow, sniffing the air and snow with the sun on Maria's back as they headed north-west, following the Shaman's old trail. She tightly clung to her board and Ronon's fur as he bounded up the side of a small mountain. The snowy valley far below of forest spotted with clearings, hid her home. Albeit, clouds of smoke from the chimneys was visible off in the distance. Turning back to the path before them, she clung closer.
Not long later they came upon a mouth of a cave. Sharp icicles decorated the entrance, giving an appearance of a mouth full of ragged fangs. Maria slid off of Ronon's back and slowly approached the cave. Ducking under the gleaming tips of ice, she stepping into the cave, and followed the frozen rocky tunnel. She took out a small glass vial from her pocket then shook it to activate the glow worm extract, and a pale glow illuminated the way. Ronon squeezed in after her, finding himself thankful that he wasn't yet fully grown.
They followed the tunnel for less than half a mile, then the tunnel opened into an ice walled hall with a blue metal pipe sitting in the center. Maria gazed at it with wide, awestruck eyes, and slowly approached it, holding aloft the glowing vial.
"We were right," She smiled, and examined the pipe. "Holy-Frost it's real, I can't believe it!"
"Doesn't look that impressive." Mumbled Ronon.
"Are you joking?" She exclaimed. "This is some highly advanced piece of technology!"
"I'll take your word for it." He replied, not wanting her to go off rambling on how warp pipes work. They both peered inside the black depth of the pipe that was the size of a small well.
"You really want to go down this thing?" He asked, likening her plan less and less.
"Merlow used it, so it must still work." Maria replied, stepping back. "Now that we have confirmation that it's here, I'll need some things from back home. Then we'll come back here, and I'll be off."
Ronon sighed a warm breath that created a cloud, and they followed the tunnel once more. And silence grew between them.
"What will you tell her?" Ronon asked.
"I'll tell her that I'm going climbing. It'll account for the supplies, my normal habits, and for the amount of time it'll give me to get away."
"I don't like this Mia," He stated. "I don't like any of this."
"Ara made her decision, and I've made mine." She replied, secretly sharing Ronon's view, but refused to simply forget what she overheard.
When they returned to the cabin, they found large prints in the snow that resembled Ronon's, but was twice his size.
"Stormy must have come for Merlow," Maria stated. "Ara said she'd take him to Shiver City."
"Smells like Ara went with her." Ronon informed after sniffing the air.
Maria slid down with her board under her arm, and made her way through the snow that reached her thighs to the cabin. Pushing the door open, she placed her board in its normal place, and started to gather her gear she normally takes with her when going out to climb: her two ice climbing axes, a sleeping bag, and backpack that she started to stuff food and other things she may need on her quest; as well as her wooden star for good luck.
After listing off all the things she packed, she remembered that she had to leave a note. Maria then quickly went to Ara's room and approached the sleek, mahogany desk, and quickly wrote with her neat left hand: "Gone climbing"
She stood there, gazing down at the note, remembering Ara saying how she loved her. Maria loved her aunt, but after what she did, and what has happened; she refused to sit idly by as others suffered when she could do something. And if that meant breaking Ara's, and her own heart; then so be it.
Maria wrote three more words and brought the note into the main room to place it on the sofa. She looked around her home, praying to the stars to be able to come back to it alive, and be a woman that Ara could forgive, and a person that could forgive Ara in return. She turned away, and leaped on to Ronon's back, axes clanking at her hips. Maria don't dare look back and risk changing her mind.
With hours left of sunlight yet, Ronon and Maria walked back through the tunnel to the hall. Maria gazed at the pipe's dark gaping mouth, tightly gripping the harnesses of her pack. Ronon sensed her fear, and stepped close to her to offer her his neck. She embraced him, fighting her fears and uncertainty as she buried her face into his soft inner coat.
"You still can reconsider, Mia." He stated softly.
"What would you do if our positions were swapped?" she replied into his fur.
"We're not, Maria. And, I don't want you to get hurt, or worse."
Maria pulled away, and placed her hands under his long jaw.
"Do you trust me?" she asked.
"Then support my decision, please."
He gazed at her with his dark eyes, then placed his forehead to hers.
"Okay," he murmured. "But you better come back alive, or I'll hunt you down, and use you as a chew toy."
"Thank you, brother." She whispered, and kissed the aria above the bridge of his muzzle.
Maria turned to the pipe, and leaped up onto the metal rim. She looked back at Ronon, and smirked.
"Wish me luck." She said then leaped into the dark mouth of the pipe. He watched her quickly vanish into the dark mouth, and a strange sound unlike any he has heard before emanated from the pipe, but faded just as quickly as she vanished. Stepping close to peer into the pipe, he murmured to the darkness with his ears pinning slightly back.
"Good luck sis."
And thus the adventure begins!
Okay, I know that it may look like I've incorporated bending into the story from the Last Airbender cartoon. But, it's both true and not. I've drawn from it, but it's not what's going on with Avatar. Magic is something I don't have much experience writing, so I had to get inspiration from somewhere. Also, I named Ronon the Snow Hound—I took liberty to create his species—after Ronon Dex from Stargate Atlantis; which I don't own.
Hope you all are enjoying it! I'll be jumping back to Assassin's Creed after a bit, but no fear I'll be back, I just take time trying to write is all. And fair warning, my third semester of collage begins on the 9th of January. So, writing time will cut, again….
Happy New Year, and thanks for your time!
See you all soon!