Season Four, March 10 -15, directly after "Tag Team" and "Hostages" before it splits into "Greg and Warden Talk" and "Smoothing Things Out".
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Akkey Black: Akkey had no idea where they were going, so it had thrown her into Purgatory. Mmm, this way, rabbit-kind. She could feel the demon squinting inside her, trying to get her bearings and looking for the right portal.
Aha, here it is.
Wait! Stop! Where does that lead-!
The power that the Warden had tried to tap into was raw, uncontrolled; it was the novice control she had at first. She tumbled through the water. She couldn’t breathe and she could feel the cold stinging her skin. Cold? It should be warm! Where are we going?! After what felt like an eternity, she was rudely flung through the surface and across the air; her back meeting with the harsh points of the rocky wall and knocking the air out of her. That’s going to leave a nasty bruise…
She coughed and retched, trying to get the air back in her lungs. She stood and blinked water from her eyes, “Gods damn you, Warden! Who gave you the right?! Get out of me! Out! Ou-!” She had been screaming this out loud, thinking she was alone. She thought wrong.
Around her were the gawking faces of Tree, Vox, Grey, Greg, and plenty of other rebels. And they were inside what looked like an insanely deep pit.
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Next time, struggle less, it won’t hurt as much. The Warden slipped out of Akkey’s mind and hovered in the pit, examining everyone’s minds and identifying each rebel that was there. Her heart sank a bit when she couldn’t find Stonegit amid the confusion. Manifesting in front of everyone with long ears, a slim, pointed snout, and a bushy tail, she shook her head in concern, looking over everyone. How did you all get down here?
Treepelt gaped at Akkey as the rabbit half-breed quite literally appeared out of nowhere. “A-akkey, where have y…where did…” Her heart clenched at the memory of their last meeting, but she shunted it aside and dropped down by Akkey, helping her to her feet. “How did you find us?”
Then a voice echoed through the pit and Treepelt froze in place, eyes opening wide. No.
Grey Bergman: Grey widened her eyes at the sight before her. She couldn’t believe it! She had to be dreaming! Loki had to be tricking them! They were calling for a dragon, but…they got someone even better!! It was…
"Chief Akkey!!" Grey said as she ran over to the chief and wrapped her arms around her hugging her tightly. She didn’t care that she was the second-in-command! She was just happy that help finally came! "I can’t believe it! You found us! You—" She froze and released Akkey. "Wait…how DID you find us? And…" She looked up at Akkey’s travel companion, "is…that…who I think it is?"
Svied Jora Maer: "Chief Akkey?? but how?" Svie∂ looked up in disbelief.
"This isn’t another trick, is it?" Kira asked.
"Finally, a way out of this place!" Cairbre exclaimed.
Greg saw the spectral form standing next to Chief Akkey and dropped his scabbard. There was only one person he knew who had a spectral form. “N-Nala?” He asked, his voice wavering. “Nala, is that you?”
Bree Ostberg: Bree watched as their rescuers landed. All the noise they had been making must have been heard… But how? Chief Akkey would have been so far away! Unless they weren’t as far from home as it seemed.
She ran towards the others, smiling. “Even if this is a trick, it’s still great to see your faces.” Then Bree looked towards the spectral, and cocked her head to the left, unsure of who this stranger may be.
Greg Ericson: [ response deleted ]
Vox Arnason: The presence was familiar. He knew of the being before them, who had come to their aid with Akkey, but the name didn’t strike him as any that he had known.
"Nala… who is this?"
He looked around to those in his vicinity, hoping for an answer. Some looked equally as confused as he was, and some appeared to recognize her and fear the presence.
"Can somebody explain to me what’s going on?"
Akkey Black: Her knees shook as the other rebels surrounded and interrogated her while staring fearfully at the Warden. She held onto Tree for support, grimacing as her right hand twitched. Blasted Warden messed with the portals… I need time to align myself again. She scanned their surroundings; there seemed to be no way but up. Very high up. Huh, so she was telling the truth about them being trapped…
"Sorry," she said in a low voice to Tree. She was glad that she didn’t bring up the last time they saw each other. She gritted her teeth, her hand clenching as the blood pulsed painfully through it, "I didn’t know… she would do that. I didn’t even know you were all here. She was the one who found you. I didn’t mean to bring the Warden… I’m so sorry…"
She listened to the hubbub, questions being flung around, half of which she couldn’t even answer, ” Her ears suddenly picked up Greg’s voice and she narrowed her eyes. She could see Vox noticed it, too, “Hold it. You called her Nala… is that her name? How does he know your name, Warden?”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: The Warden covered her eyes with a hand and moaned quietly. First the king, she complained, and now half of the rebellion. I care about you but could you kindly not mention…that…in front of them?
Well, it’s too late now, they already know…
Look, it doesn’t matter. She pointedly ignored Vox and Treepelt staring at her. Yes, I’m the Warden, yes, some of you know my name, and no, I’m not here to kill you. Whoever still wants to harbor a grudge against me is the first to get left behind. She touched to the ground and folded her arms, tail twitching back and forth expectantly.
Greg Ericson: Greg quickly weaved through the people towards Nala. Once he reached her, he tried to wrap his arms around her, even though they still passed through her. He held his arms approximately where her body was. “I missed you.” He said quietly, not really caring if the others saw.
Kira Maer: Kira stared confused at Greg’s reunion with this dark entity. Was this just another one of Loki’s tricks or did this guy really like this demon?
Grey Bergman: Grey couldn’t help but chuckle as she watched her adoptive little brother reunite with the Warden. Her sudden departure really upset him, and they were supposed to go find her to let him have one last goodbye. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up happening, but it was nice to see them finally reunite. Her smile quickly fell when she realized that a few certain rebels, who were outside the Forbidden Friendship, were staring at her, probably expecting her to say something to the Warden since she was the closest they had to a leader, and at Greg and the Warden hugging probably wondering if this was some sort of trick, especially a certain half-breed and her boyfriend.
"Okay, look, guys," she said gently, "I know this looks strange, but—" Sadly, she was interrupted.
Vox Arnason: Vox was stone still — it was beyond his comprehension to see the physical manifestation of that which had cause so much strife between himself and his love.
He gazed at the figure that had presented herself in front of him. It was her… she had killed him, in cold blood, only months earlier.
"I’m not going."
His voice shook. He couldn’t place it as fear, anger, worry… all he knew was this entity was the catalyst for the worst moments of his life, and to have anything to do with her would be detrimental to all he and Tree had worked on to amend their relationship.
"Leave me behind, so be it. I will not fraternize with the likes of you."
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Nalaagura rolled her eyes and sighed. I forgot how stubborn you were… she murmured. You were the one who wouldn’t stay dead in Hel. Fine then, rot here for all I care, but both you and I know that we don’t want a repeat of Purgatory, do we?
Turning back to Greg, whom she had automatically fixed his nervous system for, she smiled warmly for the first time in a few days. Yes, I missed you, too, little one.
She glanced up and spread her arms. Are we going to escape or are we just going to stand here and talk about our feelings?
Akkey Black: "Unless you needing my nix powers was just a random fancy, it’ll be a while before we can."
Akkey let go of Tree. The thudding was creeping up her arm towards her head; she clenched it with her other hand, glad that the folds of her cloak hid it from plain sight. Her back was aching, too, and she was starting to shiver. This again. "I’m still fairly new at this. It’s difficult enough to use them properly, then you tampered with my abilities and they messed up. I need time to recover. Hel may have amplified them to make the job easier but my body can only take so much in so short a time frame."
Grey Bergman: “I don’t want you to push yourself too hard,” Grey said placing a hand on Akkey’s shoulder giving a reassuring squeeze. “We can wait until you’re fully recuperated. Then we’ll head back to camp as quickly as we can. My only hope, though, is that jerk Loki doesn’t do anymore damage while we’re here.”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Nalaagura growled once, sharply. Loki…I should have known. She turned her head to look down at Akkey, and her expression softened slightly. I am sorry, my intent was not to cause damage. How long until your abilities heal?
Akkey Black: She raised an eyebrow, surprised. I didn’t know that “sorry” was in her vocabulary…
“A few hours, perhaps,” she grunted, sitting down heavily to rest. She wanted to pull off her cloak, it made her more cold than warm; but it was useful to hide under, “Or a few days. I don’t know. This is the first time it’s happened like this.”
Kira Maer: “A few days?” Kira asked, then looked over toward Svie∂ who was still trying to calm herself after her most recent anxiety attack, “I don’t know how long my sister is going to take it mentally being in here that long.”
Grey Bergman: "I understand that we can’t afford to wait that long," she said, "but unless we come up with another plan, I’d rather wait until Akkey is well-rested and back on her feet and get all of us back to camp in one piece. We’ll wait as long as we can, and in the meantime, we can come up with a back-up plan."
Asuka: Asuka walked out a little and sighed. “I’m afraid that’s our best option right now. But don’t fret. I think I may have a better idea than summoning walls of wind to get us out of here… Now… Hmm… Aha! When Loki comes to us once more; why don’t we threaten him?”
Greg Ericson: Greg just looked at Asuka with a deadpan stare. “You’re joking right?” He asked. “Asuka think for a moment. This is a God we are dealing with. To him we are nothing more than ants, and he’s the kid that kicks the ant hill because he enjoys the chaos. Threatening Loki would do nothing less than amuse him, or worse…”
Grey Bergman: Grey was snapped out of her shock at Asuka’s suggestion when Greg finally spoke. When he finally finished, she decided to step up as the second-in-command she was supposed to be. “Asuka, I appreciate your suggestion, but Greg is right,” she said placing a hand on his shoulder. “You saw what Hel did to me and my Night Fury when I tried to stand up to her when Haddock told us about the souls-thing. Standing up to Loki would surely not end well either. He can’t hurt us because of Hel’s protection, yes, but he can still do damage if we threaten him. No, we need a plan that will help all of us stay in one piece and get us back safely.”
Asuka: Asuka giggled a little and looked at them both. “Well, why don’t we troll the troll?”
Akkey Black: She looked up and recognized the… well endowed woman that so graciously gave her a face full of breast a few weeks back. A tiny prick of annoyance passed her as she glanced at her chest, but she mentally shook her head. Now is not the time, she needed to align again before Loki came back. Otherwise, they’d be in serious trouble.
"How do you propose we do that?” she asked, admittedly intrigued.
Asuka: "What I’m saying is he loves to irritate people. Why don’t we just act unphased by it? It’s bound to irritate him more if we act as though we don’t care! And if we make him harm us over nothing then Hel will deal with him from there!"
Greg Ericson: “That’s a possiblity.” Greg said nodding, “Another possibility is that he’ll get bored of his playthings and leave us to starve. I don’t think any of us wants that. Besides who know when the next time he’ll pay us a visit. By the time he comes back we could already be out of here… On a side note if we do start to starve and need to start eating people I call Grey.”
Grey Bergman: Grey turned to Greg with the most insulted look she could muster up. “NO ONE’S EATING ANYONE!” she shouted. “We’re getting out of here before that even happens! Besides, Greg, you’re already treading on thin ice with Haddock. I don’t think he’ll be happy with you for eating his second-in-command.”
Akkey Black: “Don’t worry, I’ll pick up what you leave behind,” Akkey grinned from where she sat, still trying to ignore how close Greg stood beside the Warden. A majority of the rebels were already on high alert. But… she seemed willing to help; she brought her there, after all.
“I didn’t know Haddock promoted you,” she continued, “Congratulations are an order. We definitely need more in command since Frosti died and I am… busy with other matters.” She couldn’t help but glance quickly towards the demon’s direction, then Tree’s. The half-cat hadn’t said anything since she hugged her. She’s angry. She reached up and touched her paw softly as the others talked, “Hey…”
Treepelt Halfpaw: Tree shook her head very, very slowly as Akkey touched her. The approximate summary of her thoughts was something along the lines of No, nope, nope, no, no, no no no, nope, uh-uh, no.
She gritted her sharp teeth and lowered her gaze from the Warden to glare at Greg. “What. Are. You. Doing.”
Kira Maer: Kira glanced over at the half breed, and then to the Warden and Greg.
“We’re getting out of here, I don’t know when but..”
Greg Ericson: Greg looked at Tree, not understanding what she was saying. “Um… Plotting ways to eat my sister, and wondering if we could be able to start a fire down here. What are you doing?”
Treepelt Halfpaw: Her mouth dropped open and she continued shaking her head more vigorously. “Look, I don’t—what—what are you doing with the Warden?!”
Greg Ericson: Greg shrugged, “Chilling, sitting in a deep pit. Though I pretty sure we’re all in the same boat on that one.“
Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt snapped out of her fear-induced paralysis and stormed forward to shove him in the chest. “SHE’S A DEMON!!” she yelled. “Why are you on her side? How do we even know we can trust you?!”
Greg Ericson: Greg looked over at Nala and sarcastically said. “Oh so she is, I didn’t really notice before, she’s my friend, and I haven’t done anything to harm the rebellion yet.” He answered Tree’s questions in sequential order. “True I wanted a different leader but that was only because I was angry with Haddock and I thought a new leader would be best for the camp. Granted I’m still mad at him but, I’m not trying to overthrow him anymore so that’s a plus.”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Greg.
Nalaagura had grown quiet as her eyes shifted back and forth between the two. Just…don’t, she said again, reaching out and putting a hand on his shoulder. It’s not worth it. We’ve been through this before.
Grey Bergman: “She’s right, Greg,” Grey said gently coming in between Greg and Tree separating them. “We’ve already had a bad experience with Haddock finding out. We don’t need a repeat…not when it’s crucial that we stick together.”
Akkey Black: Akkey felt incredibly torn. And guilty. She knew where Tree was coming from. This was the demon who had tried to kill the entire camp and tried to possess their king only a few months ago. Even when she wasn’t there, she was still affecting her and Tree’s mental states, causing rifts between their already delicate friendship.
But without the Warden, she wouldn’t have known where the rebels were. Or even that they were captured. Thanks to her bringing her there, Akkey can help them escape.
She gritted her teeth and stood, approaching Tree and taking her arm, “It’s three against almost a hundred, they can’t harm us. Haddock knows and hasn’t thrown them out, he even promoted Grey. There must be a reason. Just ignore her.” In a low voice she whispered, “She doesn’t need to come with us, I’ll direct her through a different portal.”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: You will do no such thing.
The Warden eyed Akkey distastefully. I am embedded in your mind; I’d like to see you try to get rid of me. When we arrive back at the fortress, I will leave and return to my duties, but in the meantime, I stay with you. Do we have an understanding?
Akkey Black: She growled under her breath and glared at her. She forgot that she could hear her thoughts, how inconvenient. “Can’t you just escape by yourself…”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Nalaagura huffed. No. I cannot. These things are easier to get into than out of. She glared down at the half-breed. Would you prefer I escape into someone else here? Would that ease your temper?
Akkey Black: “No!” Yes.
“No… nobody else needs to be possessed.” she grit her teeth, “Fine then. Stay.”
Greg Ericson: Greg raised his hand. “I’ll do it.” He said simply. “If it helps relieve some of the tension, take me.” He smiled at Nala. “I trust you.”
Treepelt Halfpaw: “Are you insane!?” Tree yelled in a sudden fright. “Warden, I swear, if you touch him—”
Grey Bergman: Tree’s shout was suddenly muted as Grey stared at her best friend in absolute shock. She wasn’t sure what to think about this. Was it really a good idea to just let Nalaagura possess Greg? Greg was so willing to do it, and they couldn’t let the Warden stay here by herself. It wouldn’t be right after she came all this way. And…would the rebels still trust her and Greg if Nala does possess him? They could see it as an act of aggression against the camp. She would offer herself in exchange, but she couldn’t do that either. She was second-in-command. These rebels needed her. Letting the Warden take over her mind would be like abandoning them. Perhaps…Greg did say he trusted her.
"Greg…are you really sure you want to do this?" she asked. "There’s no telling what might happen."
Greg Ericson: Greg smiled and put a hand on Grey’s shoulder, “Of course I’m sure.” He said calmly. “I do what I can to help my friends, and like I said, I trust her. If you have a hard time trusting her, put your trust in the me that trusts her, okay?”
Grey Bergman: Grey smiled. She did trust Greg, and she was still getting there with Nala. “Very well,” she said. However, remembering what Haddock had told her during their private chat, her face turned serious again. “But before this happens, I need the both of you to agree on a few conditions. If you don’t, then I can’t let her do this. One: Nala, you allow Greg to have control over his body…unless he is in grave danger. Two: as soon as we arrive back to camp before we even walk past the guards, the possession ends.The two of you separate completely and that’s it. Anything after that will be up to you both to decide. Do I make myself clear?”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: Greg was about to answer when he doubled over, gasping. The Warden didn’t move from where she stood but she reached a hand up to her cheekbone and stroked her claws down across her cheek, under her jaw and diagonally across her neck, leaving gleaming gashes where the sharp points trailed over her skin, and the cuts spread and flashed over her as she shed her old form. Greg straightened, clutching the sides of his head as she settled into his mind, flooding through him, unhooking her mental claws from Akkey and sinking them into Greg.
The painful light receded and the Warden’s new form was left standing, smiling grimly. “Crystal clear,” Nalaagura and Greg said in unison.
Although, to be perfectly honest, she mused, after letting Greg gain control of himself again, there was no way you could have stopped me, Grey.
Akkey Black: Truth be told, she was very willing to hand her over to someone else, but how would that look like? She already brought the demon here, she should take responsibility. She should feel more guilty. But the immense relief as the Warden released her was incredible.
She exhaled a long shaky breath, staring wide eyed at Greg. Unbelieving, thankful, and horrified, “Why… What… Do you even understand… What possession can do to you? Mentally… Physically? Just… What…”
Greg Ericson: Greg sucked in a deep breath, recovering from the possession process. He turned to Akkey and said with a shakey voice, “No I don’t fully understand the consequences of my actions. But when your friends need help you don’t tend to think about the consequences fully. I’m not having you leave her somewhere and I’m not having her being in your head if you don’t want her there.” He continued, his voice slowly gaining strength. “That is why I did it.”
Nalaagura Ep'ha: The Warden was quiet, but within Greg’s mind she filled him with a rush of love and gratitude for seeing the good in her where even she herself could not see.
I promise not to harm you, little one, she murmured only to him. I swear it.
Akkey Black: She couldn’t think of anything to say. He was insane. He didn’t know what he was getting into. How could he consider her a friend when all she’s done was wreak havoc and cause pain? Especially to Tree and Vox, who were right there, five feet from where he stood? She ignored the nagging voice that told her it was thanks to the Warden they found them in the first place.
She couldn’t understand… she didn’t want to understand.
“F-fine,” she rasped, unwilling to admit aloud that although she was horrified, she was also relieved, “Do what you want. I’m just going to concentrate on getting us out of here.” She staggered to the opposite side and sat down, eyes wide, very confused and very torn.