The shadowy path beneath his feet was ever narrowing as Raditz followed the Lupine female towards the den, watching how the slivers of moonlight trembled across the dark, mossy sod of the undergrowth. Mycelium vines unfurled themselves, blooming nocturnal.
Raditz crawled on his hands and knees, a makeshift pelt draped over his back, along with his dark eyes peering through the wulyfskin mask. Yuhi glanced back at him once, licking her chops, and Raditz gulped hard.
He had to keep up the illusion that he was one of the Lupines in order to get by them unnoticed. This wulyf den had not been mentioned to him by Borgos or Shugesh; who seemed to know their way around well on the foreign planet. It didn't make any sense to him, but nevertheless, he went on with it; committed entirely to playing wulyf cub for a night if that meant he could get past the den, and towards the fortress where his mother and father had been taken.
"It's right up ahead, Raditz," Yuhi said as she quickened her pace down the trail, the white tip of her black tail a beacon that kept him centered, as his heart began to race with what he anticipated would be a trap. He could turn back now, and run back with his tail between his legs, after all, Bardock had only instructed him to defend himself and his mission now was to protect Kakarot, not to save Bardock. Raditz slowed his pace, looking back once into the darkness and hearing a wet chittering, and slithering as the nocturnal insects of planet Lystraya awoke; gargantuan centipedes and many headed worms wriggling out from the soil he was standing on.
"Don't stay out too late. They bite." Yuhi called back to him, and then yipped to announce their arrival to the others in the den. Raditz felt something wriggle across his hand and lifted that one too, wincing as he retracted it sharply. She was right about that, even a worm could bite you on this planet. He stood, and weighed his options as he wiped the dirt from his hands on the black fur pelts he was dressed in.
Do I stay, and get torn to bits by wulyfs? Or…? Raditz was a little puzzled, apparently lupines were much different than the nursery stories he had heard. The Lupines were unpredictable; had they been sacrificing their lives to fight the Kraken and save him, or was it simply a chance encounter? Yuhi herself even stated that she was a vegetarian, a wulyf that didn't eat meat? It had to just be a matter of circumstance, because if she were on his planet, the wildebeests would have trampled a wulyf that didn't defend themselves.
This is too confusing. Raditz concluded, and huffed, his ears buzzing.
All around him the sounds of the forest were becoming uproarious; one chitter turned into a chittering chorus, the soft, wet noise of one worm wiggling around on the soil became so deafening with the sheer amount of insects taking over the ground that it became a deluge. Raditz pulled his boots out from the mud, flying above the ground until he reached the hill above the dugout.
No going back now, he thought, better safe with the enemy than eaten by an army of worms I guess. Raditz got on all fours like a canine and sighed, trodding down to the den's opening.
Luminous eyes peered at him from within the dark cavern; flickering as they blinked, and looked on in interest as Raditz approached. He crawled up to the den, and hesitated at the opening, staying completely still as the lupines came out, and made circles around him, sniffing.
"Interesting," One murmured, and eyed him closely, Raditz keeping his head lowered.
"Never seen you around here, but you smell familiar..." Another said gruffly, and flattened her ears.
"Mom, dad! It's alright. Raditz is a friend." Yuhi insisted, coming out and nudging him with her snout to encourage him to enter the den.
"I'll be the judge of that." Her father responded and sat down before Raditz, slowly transforming right before his eyes; becoming more humanoid, his black fur receding from his chest and face to reveal a muscular man with a dark complexion, his reflective, blood orange eyes burning holes through his disguise.
"We are of the Gadhra Clan. Black coats. You should be familiar with our clan, Raditz, isn't it?"
"I'm a lone wulyf. I have no clan."
"Szelkvå. Leave the cub alone." Yuhi's mother insisted, curling up to rest in her wulyf form.
"Outsiders are unwelcome, Aeliya." He growled, baring rows of shiny white fangs. Raditz froze in place, feeling the sweat drip down the sides of his face.
"I promise, I mean you no harm." Raditz said meekly, and lowered his gaze down to the floor, relaxing his shoulders and making himself appear smaller to him.
"...Hmph. He's nothing but a runt." Szelkvå muttered, and turned his face away. Yuhi gave Raditz an apologetic gaze for her father's rude welcome. Raditz shrugged to her, it was nothing compared to his own father's demeanor.
"We should rest. In the morning, he can meet with the rest of the clans. Maybe someone will claim him." Aeliya said with a low whine, Raditz's ears pricking as the two communicated with one another in Lupine. Szelkvå snarled something back, making her yelp in frustration, but Raditz couldn't make out what it was he said that made her upset.
"Don't worry, Raditz. I'm sure my parents will let you stay." Yuhi reassured him, and licked some dirt from his cheek.
I'll leave in the morning. He decided, and nodded to Yuhi, raising one hand hesitantly. She understood his intention, and nuzzled her head into his hand. Raditz smiled, and scratched behind her large, fluffy ears. Yuhi made a low growl of appreciation and lowered her head, resting it in his lap as Raditz petted her for some small sense of comfort.
He saw Yuhi's tail thump on the floor, and responded to the familiar motion, his own thumping back without his permission. It was warm, and safe in the den and the truffle he'd eaten earlier seemed to have some type of hunger-fulfilling property that went beyond what little nutrients the small fungus should have contained.
Aeliya noticed the two huddled in the corner, her sapphire irises contracting. She heard the thump of Raditz's tail, and observed how it was an odd length and shape, as well as color. It was more ape-like than Lupine and she had her suspicions about her daughter befriending the visitor as well. She couldn't place what it was that was off about the cub, but Yuhi seemed to enjoy his presence, so she turned her head and nuzzled against her husband. They would know more in the morning.
It had been some time now since Gine and Fasha began their ascension from the deep chambers of the Lupine prison, searching for an escape. What they had found though, was that this prison wasn't all brick and mortar, and in fact it housed an impressive basement that was integrated with the natural cave system. The two women came out of the cramped passageway to find themselves in the expansive den, where upon entrance they found a stream of water and took the opportunity to have a drink and rinse the caked mud from themselves. Gine squeezed the water out of her tail as Fasha attempted to shake her hair dry, neither of them feeling much cleaner.
"Do you smell that?" Gine sniffed, Fasha
pausing her fussing to scent the air.
"I smell, hmm… food?" She sniffed eagerly, both of their stomachs rumbling for nourishment. They left the stream, and made their way up the slope, coming to the edge and marveling at the depth of the cavern, with many bridges and stone pillars modeled to make a long staircase.
"Let's go and see what's down there." Gine suggested, and Fasha nodded, the two taking flight off the ledge instead of taking the long way across.
"Seems these wulyf-lings are somewhat sophisticated, eh?" Fasha mused, Gine nodding in agreement at the ingenuity of the lupine kind; to have used nature as their building blocks to the massive fortress.
"Where there is water, there's a way out. Perhaps we can find it and get out of here." Gine noted, watching the trail of water that fell from the slopes and into smaller pools, eventually leading to the lowest portion where it would most likely lead into a subterranean lake.
"First, let's investigate that smell. Then maybe we can sneak in and get some leads on where your little ones and the others could be." Fasha suggested, and Gine agreed with her. They began their way down the staircase, following the rich scent of food, also heavy with the scent of wulyf.
The wood tiled floor gradually gave way to earth, and grass as the three saiyan males were led out of the shaman's temple, and deep inside the forest, out into the center of the Lystrayan wilderness. Blindfolded and bound, the three men stumbled forwards as they were nudged with the ends of wooden poles which could also be used to whack them if they decided to misbehave. Bardock and Nappa remained in angered silence, impatiently waiting for the moment they would be set free - and could see. Tora on the other hand, lagged a little behind, his apprehension more with his fellow men than with the Lupine shaman and his pupils.
Bardock felt the soft dirt beneath his feet, and scented the rich earthiness of the forest and waited for some answer as to why he was here. He supposed he could easily tear off the binds and blindfold, but he was perfectly content staying here allowing Tora's plan to play out. He felt fingers pulling down his blindfold and freeing his wrists, the same being done for the other men. Bardock was able to visibly confirm his location, still irritated that he was here in the first place but there were worse places he could be than in a forest.
"Take in your surroundings. You are at the edge of the Grey Hills. This is where you will endure your first trial. I am Elder Shaman, Zhrkhyen." The shaman informed them, gesturing with one hand at the tall mycelium trees surrounding them, the surrounding forest seeming to be moving around the tall spires. Nappa fisted his hands and stepped forward first, his low snarls matching the way his tail moved angrily behind his bare backside as he faced the shaman.
"We don't have to do a thing we don't want to, you bunch of mutts. I'm an elite saiyan, I don't belong here in the middle of nowhere!" He snapped angrily, and Bardock cleared his throat, stepping forth as well.
"...Nappa. Let's...listen." He reasoned, the large saiyan turning his head quickly to give him an incredulous glare
"Are you out of your mind?!" Nappa barked but Bardock only gave him a barely perceptible wink, placing his hands on his hips.
"I'm ready to take these 'trials', so go on and tell us what we need to do." He shrugged, Nappa stepping back and muttering curses under his breath. Tora meanwhile, looked on with determination; ready to take on the trials and prove to Bardock that he had good reason to bring them all here. Strange as it seemed, the idea had come to him in a dream. Zhrkhyen had informed him that he needed to retrieve Bardock, and bring him back to this place. The entirety of the dream was somewhat blurry, but had a very strong effect on him. The second he woke up, he decided to follow his intuition and made the trip there within the early hours of the morning.
He had been born there once, long ago, and lived there up until the time he was Raditz's age. The peaceful natives did what came naturally to them and they raised him from a cub. A time came where Tora was ready to venture off into the world, and left his clan to finish the mission that nagged at him from some place deep within. The Lupines were unlike the Saiyans in that they were not a warrior race and they could not allow Tora to bring violence into their peace.
Now he had returned to his birthplace but his intentions and the Lupines were all misunderstood. This was the only thing he could do to make it up to Bardock.
"I'll go. I can guide you both." Tora said adamantly and the shaman turned to examine him. He glanced up and down at Tora's tall, sinewy body as the saiyan stared at the sky, unflinching. He jabbed him in the ribs with his staff and saw that Tora didn't flinch. Making a thoughtful sound, Zhrkhyen nodded.
"Yes. You shall brave the wilderness, clansman Torazhū shall guide you." The elder decided, and gripped Tora's shoulder. The others looked over with shocked stares, Bardock's glare boring holes into Tora's face. He seemed to recall Tora mentioning how he was raised by wolves once or twice during their drunken chronicles but he'd always thought it was something he said to impress Fasha or the other teammates, something to that effect. Bardock had thought they were close companions but now he realized he'd neglected to believe his friend's story for the sheer reason that it seemed like lunacy.
Zhrkhyen turned away and pointed his staff towards a steep hill far off into the distance, the red crystal at the top glowing and magnifying the patch of sky above them, the traveling lense revealing how the tall trees parted and a high cliff made a sharp precipice over the edge of a deep, black lake. Zhrkhyen's staff moved and magnified once more to allow them to see a massive white tree towering from the highest peak, it's wide branches fanning out like veins, casting a shadow over the dark forest. They could see the two suns on either side; one a rosy shade, the other a small, yet piercing chartreuse color. Once he was certain they had all committed the image to memory, he shrank the magnifier and the sky returned to its strange yellow-green shade.
"You must venture through the woods until you reach the Dhyägdha Tree. There, you each will drink the healing sap. This will negate the Lhopophoæ I am about to administer." He said, and reached into his cloak, taking out a small pouch. Bardock and Nappa looked on tensely as Tora presented his tongue to the elder, and allowed him to place a dried piece of fungus there. He didn't hesitate to chew and swallow it, closing his eyes and gulping hard as he did.
Nappa shook his head and crossed his arms. It was ridiculous, that was for sure. But he wasn't one to turn down a challenge. The three of them received the fungus, then were sent on their way.
Tora trudged on ahead, feeling the suspicious glares of the other saiyans boring into his back. Soon the Lhopophoæ would begin to take effect, and they would be too disoriented to stay mad at him. Maybe this could be his way to begin the process of fixing things. The eye-opening experience could perhaps assist them in understanding things from a new perspective. One that would change their minds forever once it took hold of them. He led the way silently, Tora was quite young when he was sent away from Lystraya as a pup, but he could recall enough to know what to avoid, and what to follow. He skirted around a large ant-hill like structure, the others following his lead and keeping a good distance away from it. A marker that Tora remembered being a good indication of direction was the moss on trees. Moss typically grew in all directions on a tree, but the thickest parts would be where the sun shone on it the most and that was in the north.
They walked in silence for a time, taking silent cues from Tora as he knew the terrain better than either of them. Bardock grimaced and moved along swiftly, his tail beginning to tick irritably against his hip. What time is it? He wondered, glancing up at the sky but gleaning nothing from the sight of two suns, a fat, crimson colored one high up in the sky, the blindingly bright neon-yellow one halfway to the horizon. They still had much daylight left but it felt like they'd been walking for hours. His footing began to feel almost too light as they landed in a patch of mud, the cool paste molding to the shape of his toes with each effort filled step. He looked down at the ground and realized his vision had become doubled, mixing with the colors in his surroundings and making it harder to walk.
While Bardock was lost in the mud puddle, Nappa had stumbled into a large mushroom and stirred to life an angry hive of bees the size of a grain of sand but for long stingers that were hair thin; good for plugging each of his pores until each one felt like it was burning. He cried out and slapped his body frantically, landing against the mushroom and breaking the soft flesh of it apart, knocking the entire hive free and coating himself in a thick layer of coral hued honey. Tora hadn't realized that his company was falling behind until he went to check the direction and came across a tree that had thick moss on all sides. No, that's not possible! He panicked, circling around it to be sure he hadn't just looked at it wrong. He ran around it in a panic, the tree turning to ten, then twenty until he became so disoriented he ran head on into it and knocked himself flat on his back.
Bardock's struggle with the mud had become such a nuisance that he thought maybe the best plan of action was to blast at it and dry it up. Upon doing so, he underestimated his own strength and sent a wave of it blasting back at him, a wave of mud coming down and completely saturating him. Nappa was lucky enough to get caught in the splash, smothering the bees and disentangling himself from the sticky honey. He yanked Bardock up out of the shallow puddle of mud and slapped him across the face, sending sparks flying through the other warriors' vision. Bardock found his footing at last, though it was still shaky he slowly began to get accustomed to the effects of the Lhopophoæ like Nappa had.
He couldn't let the hallucinations and misleading physical stimulus distract him from his quest, so Bardock took his wake up call from Nappa and the two made their way out of the slippery pit, coming to dry land where they found Tora laid out flat on his back, speaking nonsense. He pointed up at the falling leaves and rolled in a pile of them, then got on all fours and dove in them, nothing but his wagging tail showing. Nappa and Bardock looked at eachother, then back, not believing what they were seeing. Even though their vision was like a kaleidoscope of rainbow prisms, they could still sort of make out Tora and hear him clear as day.
Bardock reached for Tora's wagging tail and grabbed it, but only caught the after image. Nappa attempted to catch it too, and struggled with the same double vision. Bardock waited until the after image faded, then caught it just as it appeared just right to the last one, like one would when shooting an arrow at a flying bird. He pulled Tora up and he got to his feet, albeit unsteady. He swayed for a moment before blinking dazedly, attempting to clear his vision.
"The old man gave us a hallucinogen. As long as we keep calm, we can move forward. My vision is blurred and my reflexes are slowed, but my sense of smell and hearing are sharp as ever." Bardock said, gulping. His mouth was dry and he was feeling a bit feverish as well, but other than all his other complaints he felt… a clarity in delirium. Nappa slowly nodded, and Tora reached out to hold onto Bardock's shoulder for balance.
"G-good plan, yeah… I think I'm getting used to it now. What time is it?" He said, rubbing bits of leaves from his tall, spiky hair. Nappa looked towards the two suns, squinting.
"Feels like hours have passed...but it's only afternoon."
"Let's go." Bardock said, and the other two nodded.
When Raditz woke up that morning, it was certainly a change from what he was used to. Instead of Gine's banging on a pot and Bardock's barking to get up coming from the kitchen, he woke instead in a wulyf's den. Other than the odd setting, he hadn't complained much when he was given a meal of fire roasted puffball mushrooms and chewy roots with a savory flavor. It may not have been meat but it gave the illusion of it so Raditz ate it, and was an obedient pup for Yuhi's mother, Aeliya. Her father wasn't anywhere to be seen, so it made the small cave a little less cramped and Raditz was able to stretch his legs with a morning run.
Wulyfs of every color converged in the forest, packs of them frolicking through the tall grass and wrestling, kicking up spores and making dust with every playful growl. Raditz laughed and chased Yuhi through the thicket, trying to capture her white tipped tail as he and some of the other wulyf pups played 'chase and get' with their tails. They didn't judge him for having the appearance of a saiyan, in fact some of them would periodically change back to their humanoid form, helping him to blend in. He didn't possess canine ears like them, or a fluffy tail and brightly colored eyes, but to anyone else not paying attention he looked like any other wulyf cub from a distance.
"Yuhi! That's not fair, you didn't tell me we could use our teeth!" Raditz squealed as she chomped down on his long tail, sending him skidding to his knees. A group of wulyf children surrounded him, giggling at the way he squirmed as they nudged him. Raditz was partially paralyzed by Yuhi's bite but he tried to cover it up by laughing at the sensation of their cold noses.
"Look at his skinny brown tail,"
"Why is it so long?" The others conversed as they were sniffing at Raditz, fluffy tails wagging over the secret gathering in the weeds. "What kind of wulyf are you?"
Then, just as Raditz was feeling sensation returning to his numb limbs, a shock went through him.
He was lifted from the weeds by his tail, and shook roughly. Raditz was startled; something happened that he hadn't expected. With the numbness, he had a small advantage when his tail was grasped. He was able to move. Raditz curled his tail and used it to pull his body weight right up and floated above it, coming face to face with the one who'd grabbed him. Gasps came from all around as he performed this impossible task with his prehensile tail.
"There you are, Runt. Thought maybe you'd been eaten up overnight," The assailant who had him caught by the tail sneered. His face paled. It was Borgos and Shugesh!- Yet…not. The other wolf cubs shrunk back from the pair, looking on in silence.
"He almost blends right in with the other pups." Shugesh said, his voice not quite his own. It was altered, almost… feminine. Raditz's brows furrowed, and he slipped his tail out of Borgos' grasp, floating overhead. It was then that he saw Kakarot's pod in Shugesh's arms, swaddled up in furs.
I'll give you this, what you did was impressive. But you may not want to give away that you're a saiyan, little one. A woman purred directly into his ear, but from where? He glanced back at his father's teammates, and saw how Shugesh grinned at him with two glistening fangs. Slowly, his features softened and blurred until he was partially coated in fur, and slimmer. His bulk receded and he became a sleek, ebony skinned woman with golden eyes and a partial black coat. Borgos changed as well, russet fur growing out from his shoulders and back, his height slightly diminished and his girth sucked back into muscle, his features remaining male, but more handsome and aquiline as he turned into a large red wulyf man with green eyes.
"Brother Szelkvå said he was a black coat. Let's bring him to see the Gadhras."
"Who are you?! What have you done with Borgos and Shugesh?!" Raditz cried out, but was quickly detained by another hard yank on his tail. Yuhi jumped up from the pack of pups but was quickly swatted away and fell to the ground, yelping.
"You pups had better stay back. This isn't your business." The man said, then the two took flight with Raditz in their possession. The other wulyf pups flocked around Yuhi with concern, but none of them took off after the odd pair.
"Shapeshifters." Aeliya growled, bounding out of the thicket and hurrying to her daughter's side. As she ran, her wulyf form gradually changed so that her arms and legs lengthened and half of her fur receded, turning her into a woman with a partial white and black piebald fur coat. She got her footing then knelt beside Yuhi, turning the girls head to see a small scuff on her brow where she'd been hit. She nudged her until her daughter coughed and shook her head, regaining her wits. In her humanoid form, Yuhi was a black haired child with fluffy white ears atop her head. She retained her blue eyes and black coat nearly completely, besides a small patch of bare skin on her chest, hands and feet.
"What happened?" Yuhi groaned, then blinked a few times with realization.
"They took Raditz!" She cried out, her mother frowning at this information. Aeliya picked up Yuhi and growled, running back in the opposite direction, towards White Whisker den.
Beneath a long table laden with food, Gine squatted much like Raditz had at one point. She reached up carefully, her fingers finding purchase around a round, yellow colored fruit. Gine was about to take it when her wrist was suddenly seized and she was yanked up, her cover blown. Fasha came next, revealing herself to the Lupine women that had Gine in their grasp.
"Dirty saiyans! In our nest?" One exclaimed, picking up Gine's tail and sniffing it. Gine retracted her tail quickly, easily freeing her wrist from one hand only to be caught by another woman and held in place by a group of them. She could overpower them if she wanted to, but at this moment she was waiting to strike, once she knew they were truly a threat.
"You shouldn't be here, monkey girl." One wulyf woman growled, baring her teeth. Fasha snarled, her violet eyes heated with anger as she took a step forward.
"And who's going to stop us? You?" She asked with one hand held out at the ready, beginning to glow with a pink energy.
"Did you come from down in the cells?" Another asked, eyeing Fasha up and down and seeing how she was partially covered with mud. When Gine gasped and revealed it to be the truth, they suddenly all released her, and she fell to the floor on her bottom.
"Oh. Well, why are you here then?" The one who had bared her teeth first queried, extending her fur cuffed hand. Gine blinked, dumbfounded as Fasha remained in a fighting stance, ready to snap into action the moment they harmed Gine.
"We were hungry…and I needed to find my family." Gine answered, looking baleful. She hoped that maybe if she was nice to them, they would have some answers. If only Fasha would cooperate.
"My mate and I were captured, along with a few others of ours. We didn't mean to infiltrate your nest, honest." Gine pleaded, her glossy black eyes sparkling as she blinked and took the outstretched hand at last. She was pulled up, and the group fell back slightly, leaving Fasha and Gine standing back to back in the center; ready to strike out if necessary.
The Lupine females all seemed more curious now than angry, their initial aggression upon having saiyan women infiltrate their nest having faded once they learned their identities. The female that the others all seemed to speak after retracted her hand from Gine's and crossed her fur covered arms, narrowing her green eyes. She was colored tawny like the guard they'd seen before, almost like a large coyote-wulyf hybrid.
"That may be true, but you two were placed in a holding cell for a reason. Tonight is our full moon's strongest day, and we are preparing for the ritual night. Truly, we Lupines do not bear any aggression towards the saiyans. It is you that needs to be restrained." She responded in a detached manner, the others all nodding in agreement. Fasha growled and surged forward, standing in front of Gine protectively.
"Listen you! It was your people who came to our planet and attacked us!" Fasha snarled, jabbing her finger into her own cracked black breastplate for emphasis.
"We were captured by your white wizard's orb, and transported here! I know I'm not crazy, I know I didn't jump in it myself or else I wouldn't have lost Tora!" Fasha cried, her tail slumping in shame as she craned her head back and shouted in mourning. Gine gripped Fasha by the shoulders and hissed at the other women, sending a jolt through them all as they looked on with surprise at the saiyan women. Fasha dropped to her knees and began to sob, wiping the tears away from her scuffed cheeks angrily, feeling the sting of salt in her cuts as she attempted to muffle her sobs. Gine squeezed her friend's shoulders and raised her ki, flaring it out around the both of them in a protective barrier.
" 'White wizard?' Does she mean Elder Shaman Zhrkhyen?" The head Lupiness asked, tilting her ear tipped head with interest.
"Perhaps… Only he is capable of such a thing. But why?"
A white furred wulyf woman hesitantly came forth, glancing back at the saiyan women then to her pack leader, Lady Vrynael. "I was there."
Lady Vrynael turned quickly to look at the younger girl; her diamond shaped pupils constricting to focus on her alone.
"Speak, Nachté! What were you doing on Planet Vegeta?" She seethed in a low, threatening growl, making Nachté lower the lynx like ears atop her head of short, piecey white hair.
She grasped one arm with her opposite hand and looked neglectful to answer for a moment, her ears turning and her long tail swishing uneasily until she finally decided that it was safe to say, and looked up at her pack leader.
"It was all a ruse, my Lady. I'm just an apprentice, I want to be in the circle with the White Ones. That's why I went along, it was for Torazhū. We didn't mean to anger the saiyans! Just to fool them!" She exclaimed, dropping to her hands and knees and bowing down in submission with her confession.
"Clansman Torazhū…He was instrumental in this? I suppose that would make sense, He is half saiyan." Lady Vrynael hummed, placing her hand on her chin in thought. Nachté nodded, hoping perhaps the blame could be placed on Tora instead.
"Get up. You're embarrassing me in front of the saiyans." She huffed and turned away, walking up the stone stairs.
"Let them eat, and get cleaned up with fresh furs before the ritual begins. We shall find out more, later. For now, we should not be fear-mongers. As for you, Nachté, I would speak with you and the other apprentices in private."
"Yes Lady Vrynael. I will fetch them right away." Nachté said as she stood up, glancing back at Gine for a moment. Gine dropped her guard for a moment to eye the girl, her eyes widening as she remembered where she'd seen her before. Nachté walked with one hand nursing her ribs, and Gine realized that was where Bardock had headbutted her.
The two wulyf women left the dining area, walking up a set of stairs that led to an opening up higher in the wall above. Gine and Fasha were left with the remaining women - who with some hesitancy, came to their aid.
Bardock knelt down by a stream and cupped his hands to bring water to his face, drinking it. Nappa was facing away, relieving himself in the bushes as Tora joined Bardock by the water. The Lhopophoæ made them dehydrated quickly if they didn't supplement it with water. They finished up by the stream and made their way back towards the trail. Progress was very gradual with the suns beating down on their backs, the shadows growing longer and the slope steeper as they climbed up the Grey Hills towards the Dhyägdha Tree. They couldn't see it yet, but they would be coming upon the precipice soon after passing through the forest. They soon began to understand why this place was called the Grey Hills, all around them were tall, grey capped mushrooms, the white ribbing leading up to the shady lips teeming with life. Spores fell gently down, creating a smog that obstructed their visibility even more than the psilocybin.
The three saiyans grouped closer together, reaching out with the tactile hairs on their sensitive tails, much like a cat's whiskers. They could feel how narrow the gap was they walked through, how close the air and mist were. One thing that was completely eliminated now was their visibility, and with the smog filling their sinuses they could only smell the musty, moist scent of the forest's decomposition. All that was left for the saiyan's senses was hearing, taste, and touch.
Tora was at the head of the group, his eyes closed as he walked with both hands out at his sides. He placed one foot before the other, feeling the soil mold to his steps as he went. The forest around them was very alive with the sounds of life, such as chirping, squeaking, buzzing and squirming. Bardock was growing tired of walking, but he didn't think he could fly in this state either. Nappa was blundering through the mist, not as soft footed as his companions. As he hurried to catch up with the two of them, he ran forward and stepped on something cold and slimy. It gave with his weight and his foot was sucked into the dirt. Nappa resisted the suction, flailing his arms around to try to regain balance. Soon he felt more than suction though, he also felt razor sharp teeth dragging along his ankle and he blasted at the dirt.
His foot was rapidly released, and Nappa fell onto his back. Tora and Bardock took notice and turned around, able to hear Nappa's grunts and curses with the struggle. They went back to inspect, finding their companion and the hole in the soil where he'd been stuck. As they bent down to look, the dirt quickly filled in, and a tremor came from beneath them. It was strong enough to move the entire forest floor, shaking the dirt away and revealing the grey, slimy body of something massive covered in mushrooms. It shuddered with an ear piercing screech, the saiyans atop its back all attempting to keep their balance. Something had been awakened from its rest, and was unhappy about it.
Sorry for the wait! Hope you all are still interested in reading more!