Tree becomes frustrated with the feast taking place in the Great Hall and stalks outdoors. There she encounters a man named Tezzeret "Tezz" Verdile, one of the prisoners of the Grounded Dungeon who never joined Haddock's rebellion.
Full Text Edit
Part 1 Edit
Tezzeret Verdile: I’ve lost count of how many days I’ve been stuck in here. There’s no food, and no way I’d resort to cannibalism. The only water I have is the puddles that are left from the occasional rainfall. With winter coming my need and desire to escape is steadily growing. I can almost fit out the hole in the ceiling, but there’s just too much rubble for me to move alone, especially with my abilities stifled in this dungeon. If only someone would come looking…'
Part 2 Edit
Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt stalked out of the rebels’ hall in a huffy state of disapproval, limping slightly and shaking the water droplets off of her fur. Irresponsible, all of them, she thought scathingly, still in a bad mood over everything that had taken place. How everything was back to normal now, she couldn’t evn fathom. She kept expecting the hooded stranger to appear out of the shadows, or the rebels to spot her and shout for the guards, pulling out chains again.
Just like Bree had shouted.
Don’t. Don’t. She was drunk. She didn’t actually think you were the Warden.
The freezing night air was refreshing on her flushed skin, and she sat down on a jutting rock and put her head in her hands. I don’t even know what to think any more.
I have to do something, I need to get out… Maybe I can force the other me out, and we can escape. I just hope I can put him back. '
Part 3 Edit
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz sits on the floor of his cell, and lets go, sliding into darkness was easier than expected. The psychotic killer within him was frothing at the mouth, waiting to get out again.
Tezz awoke sitting in the same spot he left, no gruesome carnage surrounded him. The only thing that had changed was there was no longer a wall blocking him in. The hole that was too small to get through had been ripped open by… a glacier?
But how? I can barely move a puddle around, let alone turn it into ice. Nevermind, it was obviously the conditioned me. I wish I had his power, or at least control of him, but, this is a start…
Tezz walks out into the night, it’d been so long since he’d felt a breeze…
Treepelt Halfpaw: There was a faint rumble in the distance and Tree glanced up, gasping when she saw—what is that?!
Tree got to her feet and her jaw dropped as she saw something off in the distance. It was a massive, ghostly white silhouette of a kind of glacier. Another Bewilderbeast!?
No, something didn’t seen right. It wasn’t spiky, it was kind of…curled. Bubbled. Different. She couldn’t describe it. But noticing the landmarks around it, she saw that it was on top of the ruins of the Grounded Dungeon. She glanced over her shoulder and then out at the glacier. It wasn’t that far…she’d be able to make it back by daybreak. She needed a break from the party, anyhow. Treepelt squared her shoulders and began racing into the forest, heading for the massive structure of ice.
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz shivered, the light clothing he had wasn’t doing much to brace him against the cold. But, he was free again, free to find another group to roam with. He didn’t have to look far, not even a half mile away from his glacier he heard the pounding of approaching feet.
Only one person.. they must be investigating what I did. I hope they’re friendly. '
He didn’t have any access to weapons, and his water manipulation wasn’t up to par for combat yet. So Tezz did the only thing he could and hid in the nearest shrubbery, hoping to avoid notice.
Treepelt Halfpaw: Sniffing the air, Tree caught wind of an unfamiliar scent. It was coming from somewhere up ahead in the undergrowth, but she couldn’t pinpoint it, exactly. Not with the temperature and the breeze. So she went for the obvious approach.
"Hello? Is someone out there? I won’t hurt you…"
Tezzeret Verdile: The footsteps revealed a half-breed entering a small clearing, with lighting it was impossible to determine much more than that. Then she spoke, declaring herself friendly.
Oh, what could be the harm? It’s not like it could be a guard of the dungeon, and the worst criminal out here is probably me.'
He squirmed out of the bushes he had lodged himself into. “Hell—..”
His greeting was cut short as he had tripped on a root, firmly planting his face into the snow.
Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt stopped short as someone fell abruptly out of the shrubbery, her mouth opening slightly. “He…llo…?” she said, bemused. “Here, let me help you.” She stepped forward, giving him a quick once-over to make sure he wasn’t dangerous before offering her hand.
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz was glad his cheeks were already flushed from the cold, and the night was dim all around. Lest he show how embarrassed he truly was from falling in front of the only other person around. He grabbed the hand offered and stood with her assistance.
"Thank you stranger. M’name’s Tezz, I, uh, was hoping to not have to make my way away from that prison alone. You found me pretty fast, were you locked in there as well? Well, before it exploded anyway…"
Treepelt Halfpaw: "Me?" Tree nervously brushed her hair back. "Oh, no, I was…well, I used to be…technically…but I kind of got…promoted…?" The end of her sentence traveled up into a question, going in the exact opposite direction of her stomach. This was one of the prisoners. One of the ones that hadn’t left with the rebellion. She examined his face closely but she couldn’t quite recognize or remember him. Figured. The Warden had made her memory quite spotty.
"Oh, I’m—I’m Treepelt. The, uh…" She swallowed. "The former Warden."
Tezzeret Verdile: "OH." Tezz, obviously taken aback, was stunned into a momentary silence.
"So, does this mean you have to take me prisoner again? I mean," he paused to examine Treepelt. "I think you’re helping me now, but I guess I’m more confused by this than anything. You don’t look as though you’re here to round up the prisoners."
Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt grimaced. You idiot, she snarled to herself. He probably hasn’t even left his cell until now. Good job making the whole thing more complicated for him. "No, no. That’s all done now." She peered closer at him in the darkness. "You don’t know what happened? You didn’t escape with the rebels, did you? You don’t know about the battle? Or the real Warden?"
Tezzeret Verdile: "No, I don’t remember a lot. I’ve always had trouble with large gaps in my memory." All thanks to the other me, "As of right now I have no idea the date, and how much time I’ve forgotten. I don’t even really know how I was able to finally get out. I remember sitting on the floor and blinking. Suddenly the wall was gone and in its place was that ice monolith."
Tezz shifted about in the snow, trying to hide the lie he told when he knew perfectly well how that glacier was formed. He grew uncomfortable under her scrutiny.
"I would like to know more about what I’ve missed… Are you camped close? I’d assume so as you were able to find me surprisingly fast. I thought I’d have to walk for miles before finding anyone."
Treepelt Halfpaw: Tree’s heart clenched and she tried to brush his words off. No. Coincidence. Complete coincidence. That doesn’t even make any sense, Tree. It couldn’t possibly be her. She’s gone.'
"Yes, we’re just a mile that way," Tree said, gesturing through the woods. "Do you know if there’s any more trapped in there, in the dungeon?" she added worriedly, fending off the familiar guilt. "And have you heard any…voices? In your head? Or feeling like…like someone’s in you, controlling you?” She grew more urgent with each question.
Tezzeret Verdile: "All right, I’d prefer to talk in a more… Well, not here," Tezz begins to trudge forward. The panic in her voice was discomforting, did she share a similar experience? It didn’t feel right to ask, he may come to find out soon enough. “No voices, just a blankness. Things happen, and I come back to reality, sometimes not where I started. And as far as someone controlling me…” Tezz’s face grew grim as he trailed off. I can’t explain this, what I have. Least of all to a stranger.
Treepelt Halfpaw: There was silence for a moment as Treepelt watched Tezz’s back retreat , her only movement being her tail flicking back and forth. Then, without any warning, she darted forward and slammed Tezz against a tree, pinning her forearm to his throat and leaning forward until their faces were almost an inch apart.
"This is your only chance!" she hissed. "Warden, if you’re inside of him you’d better come up front about it quick. If you’re inside him, get out. Once was enough.” She glared into Tezz’s eyes, searching for anything that didn’t belong to him.
Tezzeret Verdile: So this one wants to play? Can’t have anybody harming MY body.'
Tezz’s hand began to move in a circular pattern as he was pinned against the tree. The snow around them started to melt and began crawling up Tree’s legs.
"THE WARDEN DOES NOT INHABIT THIS BODY." There was only anger in the voice that emanated from Tezz. Clearly he was not the same person Tree had been talking to moments before, nor the Warden. With another motion of his hand, the water moving up Tree solidified, trapping her legs in a casing of ice. He pushed her away, and fell to his knees, hands gripping at his head.
Go back to wherever it is you hide.
This is for your protection.
He was breaking through this time, if only to save Tree from the murderer he carried with him. The strain was too great on his mind though, with a pain like nails being pounded into his forehead he blacked out. Blood leaked from his eyes, rolling down his face like tears.
Treepelt Halfpaw: Tree threw her arms out to steady herself as she was shoved backwards, but her legs stayed straight and stiff and frozen and she nearly fell over. The thundering voice alarmed her even more than hearing the Warden’s familiar rumbling harmony would have. Are there more demons?!?
She looked back and forth between Tezz’s unconscious figure and her iced legs, panting and panicking. Might’ve been a bit of a mistake. All right. Okay. No big deal. He’s just…bleeding…oh, Thor, what do I do…!?'
Leaning over the best she could, Tree hesitantly touched Tezz’ shoulder. “T-tezz? Tezz!” She shook him gently but firmly, afraid to cause any more damage.
Tezzeret Verdile: It was a while before Tezz awoke, the blood had coagulated on his face. He tried to shake off the pounding ache in his head. Opening his eyes to see Tree with her legs trapped in ice stuck next to a tree. “Oh no, it happened here. In front of you…”
I suppose I have to explain now.'
"Let me help you out of that, I’ll try and tell you what happened…"
He recounted most of his childhood to explain the other person she encountered, while chipping away at the ice with a stone he found nearby….
Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt listened carefully to Tezz’s story, feeling an overwhelming rush of sympathy towards him. When her legs were finally freed, she pulled free and knelt down next to him, carefully putting a hand on his shoulder. “You might not believe me, but…” She hesitated. “I know exactly how you feel. I…I didn’t keep everyone in the dungeon of my own free will. I was being controlled…possessed. By a demon called the Warden. She’s gone now.”
Treepelt lowered her eyes. “I didn’t mean to set you off like that,” she murmured. “I was so worried she had come back, even though we came to terms with each other in the end. I was worried she hadn’t actually changed and was still possessing people.” A wry smile quirked across her lips. “It’s different for you, I guess. My monster was outside of me. Yours…is part of you. Is there—is there anything I can do to help?”
Tezzeret Verdile: "Not that I know of, not yet at least. But, thank you for telling me about the Warden. It’s an odd sort of comfort to know that I’m not totally alone in this. The weird thing is that last time I was able to fight it, to keep him from hurting you. I think I’m learning to control it, I just don’t want to hurt anyone while I learn how to…" Tezz looks up at Tree, "we should actually leave this time, I’m getting cold out here in this snow. " Tezz shivered in the night air, he was starting to lose feeling in his toes.
Treepelt Halfpaw: Tree grinned again, more at ease with the stranger. “If you need a punching bag, I’m here. Or at least a mentor, I guess. I spent almost a year under the Warden’s control. I’ve learned her tricks.” She shrugged and helped him to his feet again. “Maybe I could teach you a thing or two.” She thought a bit longer. “Or you could ask Blue and Kiri and Clover, too. They both managed to fight off the Warden as well. It’s not a perfect match with your problem but we could help you, a little.”
Tezzeret Verdile: "There’s more people where we’re going? How… how many?" Tezz furled his brow. He was worried about hurting people, whenever he traveled with groups he kept it small to minimize the damage in case he slipped up.
He needed to distract himself from the memories of all the people he’d seen mangled by what he knew now were his hands. “I’m curious about the Warden. You said she’s not coming back, but are there more like her? I mean, I don’t think my head can fit too many more if something like that happens.”
Treepelt Halfpaw: "A couple…" Tree’s claws rasped over the bark of a log as she hopped over it. "…hundred? Or so?" She realized why he might be worrying. "Don’t worry; they’ll leave you alone if you want them to. And sometimes even…when you don’t."
She shook her head, grateful for the partial change in subject. “Who knows?” she said, shrugging. “Hel is big. I would assume that there’s all kinds of unearthly beasts down there. It’s all about not letting yourself become susceptible,” she added. “It’ll start slowly, gradually. Tiny thoughts that aren’t too far away from your own, and then you get led farther and farther away until you’re convinced you’re thinking like yourself when you’re not any more. Then snap." Treepelt flicked her tail. "You’re gone. You have to know what they feel like. You have to win the first battle right off the bat to avoid losing the war. You might actually be protected against anything that tries to take you over."
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz fell silent. Who knows, maybe he would protect me from something else trying to inhabit my mind. He followed Tree, mulling over the conversation in his head, and worrying about hurting all those people if it came to it. That or having to die to protect them. His thoughts were cut short though, as the camp came into view through the trees. “I don’t know if I’m quite ready for this…”
Treepelt Halfpaw: "Oh, you’ll be all right. You should really meet King Haddock before anyone else." Under her breath, she muttered, "If he’s still sober." Pushing on before Tezz could ask for an explanation, she said, "But you don’t look so good. We need to get you warm and dry." Treepelt threw a critical glance at him from head to toe before nodding. "I’ll see to it you get a room. We’ve got all kinds of weird caves and things made by the Bewilderbeast’s ice. I don’t know where Haddock pulled this thing out of." She smiled reassuringly at him. "Don’t worry, we won’t make you meet anyone yet. Not until you’re ready."
Tezzeret Verdile: "Okay. I can do this." Tezz was eager to get inside anyway, the cold was becoming unbearable. He let Tree guide him to the door and moved inside. The warmth of the hall flooded into him. Remembering the comment about sobriety, Tezz could see she wasn’t lying. The inhabitants of the hall were almost all drunk, and food was strewn about the place. His mouth watered, he suddenly felt the hunger of weeks of malnutrition and starvation wash over him as he saw food. I must talk to this king first… as I don’t know if I’m even allowed any of this yet. He once again fell in behind Tree, preparing himself to meet King Haddock.
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Tezz Meets Haddock