By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
Night had fallen onto the desert, clearing Vlad's head from the daylight exhaustion; despite the giant hat they'd all decided to wear and its protective properties in terms of sunlight, the former ruler was far from used to actually being outside and about during the day. The clouds he's asked to follow them overhead, always granting a pleasant amount of shade, weren't easy to keep in shape without the usual humidity in the air or the soil to their feet, and he was slowly beginning to consult with himself about whether or not he shouldn't save his energy and stay further inside the wagon instead, as to also conserve the stash of magically cooled blood bags his wife had wisely suggested he'd take with him for when hunting would not be an option somewhere on the road.
They were taking turns keeping the horses on the trail they had decided on, generally having split it into day and night shift that aligned with their sleep cycles, though their waking times still overlapped enough to keep a conversation going; the two vampires - though they only shared the name and not really abilities or weaknesses - took the night, since that made of course a lot more sense as night-inclined as they were, while Ciri and Mirena had easily taken over the daytime. It generally allowed the group to cover more land with fewer rest time in between - though they did rest at times, of course, to give their horses a break if nothing else; in the back of the wagon, though, they'd spread bedding to allow for sleep as comfortable as possible while the vehicle moved through the desert lands.
This journey, even so short into it, reminded him vaguely of centuries ago. Of their kingdom of forests and the long travels between cities. Yet, this felt so much more pleasant, perhaps because there was no nation to govern any longer, or because there was no doubt on Vlad's mind that they would be able to fend off any bandits and the like, even in a world like this where everything was possible and their potential enemies had grown in powers and abilities. He felt confident regardless, but perhaps that had always been a flaw of his, his worst sin: pride, right before wrath. Some things didn't change, did they?
Ahead, he could see the forest they'd decided to head towards, leaving a rocky semi-circle in the distance behind them and ignoring the river he's thought to hear trickle down its carved path and the small settlement none of them trusted to be friendly. "It's almost like back home," he mumbled, more in Mina's direction than anybody else's, an almost melancholic smile sitting on his lips.
She had made a programme for herself that allowed her some sleep while she had enough moments with Vlad to share during the day, so that she remained a part of his routine. Mirena knew that their lives would never be the same as they had been, not while in Pandora and with a Vlad that had changed, but she still saw her husband every time she looked at him. And that was enough to keep her by his side, stubbornly and against everything that meant to keep them apart. Her mind had been made and she could not imagine herself not fighting for what she believed in.
Pandora had denied her a large piece of her heart, but it had given her the man she loved and the chance to know more than she would during her lifetime. She was especially grateful for the company, taking a liking in the young Ciri from the moment she had met her. And she was interested to know more Emiel as well, despite her inner restraints. No matter what had happened, she would never look at Vlad as something monstrous. Cursed, perhaps, or ill, but the illness did not deny him his many graces.
She hoped he saw them as clearly as she did.
The air was chillier during the night and more to her liking, unaccustomed with very hot climates as she was. She had placed herself at the front, able to help steering the horses, though not as well as Ciri did. And she was staring at the distance, wondering of what awaited them, when she heard her husband's voice. She turned to face him with a smile that was true, her blue eyes like calm seas. 'The things we miss should not prevent us from appreciating what we have.' she spoke, her tone of voice matching his smile. 'Are you well? I do not feel any tired tonight.' she added louder, for everyone to hear, moving her head towards Ciri and Emiel's direction and making her intentions known that she could stay and keep guard for as long as needed. It was fun for her, she had to admit.
Tall trees slowly moved closer as they steadily rode on to the sound of hooves whirling up sand without much hurry. Night had fallen, and the lights upon their wagon swayed softly in the quiet of the desert; somewhere in the distance, Regis could hear a snake slithering under a stone.
He wasn't much used to such surroundings - wastelands and hot days, empty stretches of land with little purpose. It all felt almost melancholic, the sand whispering of all the history it had buried underneath its weight, and it made the higher vampire reminisce on his home world and its loss.
Without company, certainly, this would have become a dreadful experience in the long run - he was too prone to brooding as that such vast landscape could have promised any happiness to him had he been by himself.
But he wasn't , he reminded himself once more.
The hint of a smile edged at the corner of his lips as he picked a card from his deck and placed it down between himself and Ciri on the surface of the round wooden stool which served as a makeshift table for their late-hour game of gwent.
Regis had happened to have his decks on him when winding up in this world, so why not make use of it?
This was what brought him the most joy - Ciri's presence. It seemed to him that he had been given a chance to make up for all the time he had missed, and finally he, too, was able to really get to know the princess.
Vlad and Mirena were welcoming, warm and friendly. They were an odd couple, perhaps, but in humans love had always been one of the most driving forces, and as opposed to this species' less pleasant tendencies, this one at least brought forth many a wonderous thing.
Vlad himself, of course, had been somewhat easier to bond with - they shared the same identified species, though more by name than anything else; and Emiel found this highly intriguing on a scientific level, and perhaps he had already asked the poor man a few too many questions for his comfort.
I do not feel any tired tonight - the words were raised somewhat louder above the generally quiet conversation between the married pair (of course, it was easy for Regis to catch every word exchanged regardless - though he tried not to eavesdrop), and he glanced towards Mirena, casting a reassuring (never teeth-showing) smile towards her. "You are, of course, free to stay up with us if you would like to. But you are by no means required to do so."
Mostly, Emiel had joined this adventure because of Ciri. And because every decent group of adventurers needed a doctor in their midst. But, if it weren't for Cirilla, he probably wouldn't have tagged along - he was getting too old for such trails, and death and regeneration had made him weary and weaker than he'd like to feel.
And yet, he couldn't deny that this little trip of theirs was beginning to feel almost warmly familiar. It reminded him of the good parts of his journey with Geralt, Julian and the others. It made him nostalgic for times that now, looking back, seemed easier than current ones, despite all their struggles. Despite all their losses.
Though it had been made abundantly clear by the proctors of the event that this little venture could and would be rife with danger, Ciri found it impossible to see it as anything worse than another opportunity for... peace. A slow moving trundle through the natural wilderness was a respite of its own kind, and with no urgency to speak of. Well, the urgency was the competition, but she'd be kidding herself if she spoke of feeling particularly competitive over naming ... something. A street? A rather quaint prize.
And this was coming from one whose prior impression of deserts had been very poor. But this- this was nice, perhaps by virtue of the company mainly, but still nice.
Mirena had been a kind and wonderful woman from the moment she'd met her (albeit in strangest of circumstances. Mirena's husband Vlad had been similarly companionable, and a strange, specific kind of vampire that she'd never managed to read about even in the Kaer Morhen texts. Ciri's own curiosity was naturally more childish than Regis's scientific intrigue, but she had managed to hold her tongue thus far.
As for Regis himself— it would've been woefully remiss of her to have neglected any opportunity to spend time with a dear one she had thought lost just moments after meeting him in the first place. Granted, it was a bit less dramatic now than when she ran into him on that train, but she treasured the moments nevertheless.
Sitting across from Regis over crossed legs, Ciri sacrificed a Poor Fucking Infantry card from her hand onto the melee row absently as she lifted up the back of her opposing hand to stifle a yawn. "It's not that late, is it?"
One hand still holding the reins, Vlad reached for Mirena's to press a gentle kiss upon the back of her knuckles. "You are right, as always, dragostea mea." The forest wrapped them into the sounds of the nocturnal animals, Vlad believing to hear two owls fighting over their prey - and the bats. He heard them flutter through the darkness, and talk to each other. He heard that they noticed him in between the trees, and came closer, keeping a distance to the wagon still but clearly audible now even by the more mundane members of their party.
He gave her a soft, reassuring nod, but didn't object to her wish to stay awake with him. With them. The other two of which had retreated to play cards - he's asked Emiel to teach him when they had a free minute at their hand, because the cards looked nothing like the ones he knew from home, and a chance at amusement was always a chance he preferred to take if it was reasonable.
Directing midnight eyes upwards to the moon barely visible above the trees, Vlad turned his head to Ciri, explaining that it had to be past midnight already, when the cart suddenly came to halt as two terribly loud croak sounds echoed into the night from where just a minute ago there had been horses.
The vampires stared, so terribly surprised at the sudden transformation that he didn't even know what to say for a good second. "I...am afraid we may have a problem at our hands."
Not as big of a problem, as it turned out, as they'd all been afraid it would be. Sure, the loud ribbiting of their...well, they couldn't call them horses any longer, of course, but Vlad's never heard of wagon-pulling monster frogs before either; point was, it was a bit distracting at times, and one had to be careful when stepping off their vehicle, as to not jump into and slip on the trail of slime — but for some reason they did manage to survive the week without much lasting damage.
Leaving the forest behind them, it was on the morning of the seventh day of frog-symphony-lullabies, Vlad about to slip into the back of their wagon to be Mirena's comfort pillow for the rest of her sleep, and with Ciri already awake, that, again, their wagon stopped all of a sudden, distressed neighing making him stop in his tracks and look back outside. There they stood, hooves, manes and all: the four horses they'd started their journey with.
With a glance at the morning creeping over the horizon, the vampire looked at the young woman sitting on the coach box now: "Can you check on them? I'm afraid the sun's up too far already for me," he asked gently, before giving Regis a nod, finally slinking into the back and settling down to wrap his arms around Mirena's blanket-covered frame.
Giddy expression and eyes filled with playfulness met his, as he spoke and expressed his affection. She was not always right, but when she was certain of where she stood, she needed her voice to be heard. Not due to pride and egoism, but with a sincere desire to help. 'Wise of you to notice, draga mea.' she spoke in jest, with a smile that belonged to a young girl and not the woman Mirena was, but there was no harm in forgetting her place when they were together.
Emiel was kind and Ciri was sweet, making Mirena's wish to remain with them ever stronger and they all seemed in agreement. It was a lovely night after all and it would be a terrible shame to miss it. Soon after she had that thought though, the circumstances changed towards the more absurd and fantastical. Mirena had to blink in surprise a few times before she could accept what had happened.
And when she did, she found it ridiculously amusing. Like living inside a fairytale, but with her loved one at her side, a good company and no sense of immediate danger. The giant frogs that were pulling the wagon seemed eager to contribute in them moving forward. They were not as fast and ordinary as the horses, but Mirena was relieved that they were on their side nevertheless.
The trip continued without other surprises. Mirena was resting peacefully, wrapped in the blanket,
her chest falling and dropping rhythmically. Strong arms hugging her pulled her gently from her sleep and a wide smile appeared on her face before she attempted to open her eyes. She did not have to see to know to whom they belonged to.
She shifted appropriately, raising her hands around Vlad's neck. 'This is what I need to wake up to every morning.' she murmured, settling her head against his shoulder. No matter the difficulties, this trip was ending up even better than what she had imagined.
"Regis," Ciri had started, upon investigating the source of the sudden ribbiting. "Do you know if there are any sorcerers nearby?" Because horses did not simply become frogs for no reason at all.
... But apparently these one had, and it was all she could do to abate her suspicions after a while. She could count the number of magic-blessed she trusted on one hand, which wasn't an amazing start. The whole escapade had her stalking the coach box a bit more closely now, even after the giant frogs were inexplicably restored to their considerably more majestic equine forms. Wrinkling her nose, she rested a chin upon her hands and sent a vaguely accusational glare at their posteriors.
The younger (she assumed younger, if only because Regis was ancient by her account) vampire swung by with a question, which she answered with a salute and an air of good cheer—before returning her scrutiny toward the horses again with a twist of expression.
He woke up not from the sun vanishing behind the horizon like usually, but from the vibrations shaking the earth underneath their carriage. Much earlier - or so he assumed - than the others in the wagon, sitting up in confusion and reaching for the hat with the wide rim to shield himself from the lowering sun on the horizon. "Something's coming." He saw the pulse of a giant mass of huge birds approaching, their staccato gallop growing louder by the second. There were too many of them as that they could've managed to entirely avoid them, even though they tried their dearest - and the horses were running without being told to. In the end all they could truly do was seek cover inside their wagon, Vlad making sure to protect Mirena from the sand the birds had turned into a cloud above ground that was now brushing over them with an uncomfortable force, by holding her tightly against his chest. He himself didn't need to breathe, so it only made sense.
The day after, the group spent dusting off the wagon, and taking care of the horses who had been thoroughly spooked by the whole ordeal, though at least they were fine from a physical standpoint, if a bit dusty themselves. The sun having sunken below the horizon, they decided to rest there, unfar from a cave that looked big enough to fit them. The younger vampire - though only young compared to Regis, really - sensed the bats living in there, their whole colony going about their lives. And bats couldn't lead them astray, he was sure of it. "Who's in favor of continuing our journey that way?" Vlad asked, motioning towards the entrance.
Strange and magical occurrances weren't foreign to Regis in the slightest, but the further they moved along this adventure, the more he came to realize that he truly felt too old for this. Horses turning into frogs may have amused him for a little longer than a mere handful minutes a couple decades ago, but these days his amusement over such struggles faded quickly.
He wrote diaries in the evenings - nothing peculiar, but merely thoughts that crossed his mind every now and again. Thoughts he couldn't shake and needed to get out of his system. He kept the notebook which served as a diary close to himself at all times, not desiring for his company to catch sight of his rather depressing musings lest they lose their own joyful demeanor for it.
It seemed this path held many more surprises for them, too, since after the horses returned to normal, a swarm of strange looking birds overwhelmed them - covering the wagon in heavy dust and damaging the wood. He had made certain nobody was injured before allowing them all to take to some repair work and cleaning. They made it back on the road safely after all, and Regis leaned back in his seat, wondering just what may await them next.
They've taken cover from further possible birds in a nearby cave entrance, and Emiel listened into the darkness there, the flutter of tender wings and high pitched cries coloring the cave's walls with life.
When Vlad suggested to simply continue their journey through the cave, Regis briefly glanced towards Ciri - his first concern always being for her. While the dampness and cold of the cave didn't bother him, he wasn't too fond of the thought of sending the young princess into this darkness, even with such protective company. "Is this our best option?"
He glanced towards Vlad, knowing that perhaps there was little sense to the question since both of them were likely capable of hearing and seeing the same amount of phenomena, and as such their perceptions on their road options would likely be not far apart - as such the question was meant to offer room for consideration and rejection from either one of their more mortal companions without outwardly voicing his concerns. Regis didn't want to falsely make the impression of belittling the women by possibly bringing up the fact that they may get rather cold in the cave.
He hoped Vlad would understand his subtle concern even unspoken.
The frogs became horses once more, but Mirena sensed that once the ordinary had been attacked once, the rest of the travellers settled to a state of wariness. Mirena, being the most ordinary herself, understood this change without letting her worries overwhelm her. She cared for the state of all of them, knowing that, in such a restricted space, ones struggle was everyone's issue.
When the birds attacked, they were prepared. She watched Vlad with appraisal every time he performed an action that sought to protect. While she felt confident about herself and was not as worried as she should be, perhaps, she was more invested in Vlad's state and capacity to be at his purest. He did not disappoint and Mirena made certain she expressed her affection.
She helped then with the horses and the state of the wagon with her usual eagerness. When night begun to fall, during the day after the incident with the feathered creatures, Mirena found herself watching at the horizon with inspecting and careful eyes. While she hoped for peaceful hours, she could not pretend to be carefree any more.
Her head turned to the two men that had begun conversing. 'I will support your proposal if you truly believe it is the better one.' Mirena made her mind known as she looked from Regis to Vlad, noting the concern of one and the words of the other. She was not afraid to disagree with Vlad and she had many times in the past if she thought his mind was clouded, but she respected him all the same and had no fear of caves. Mirena was not without her own sense of adventure and emotional reactions,
after all, even if she tried her best to be levelheaded.
Glint in her eye, Ciri was not ashamed to admit that her first impulse was to mount one of the angrily speeding birds flocking their wagon. And that's what Ciri did, wrapping a handkerchief about the lower half of her face flickering out of the carriage (not without a quick "be back in a bit!" of course) once it seemed that the bulk of the horde had passed them by.
She'd waved at her companions once the dust fully cleared but a few moments later, the bright yellow, oversized chicken emitting a docile squawk beneath her.
The bird— the chocobo, she dimly recalled, lingered as they patched the carriage from the damage of their recent-most escapade. "At this rate, I figured it might be wise to have someone riding outside the wagon," she had shrugged lamely in explanation. Not that they really needed it, considering the two that were equipped with exceptionally heightened senses. But, the truth was that she had a hankering for a change of pace, and maybe, just maybe, this could turn out to be useful development after all.
And so she rode alongside the trundling wagon through the caverns, sending Regis a salute and cheerful smile of reassurance along the way, unperturbed by neither darkness nor the elements.
Upon unanimous decision to take the cave path, they had all settled for a rocky journey - but with good company even rocky journeys could be made enjoyable. Regis used the time to get to know Mirena better - the only company whom he hadn't gotten to share much conversation with before this expedition, and whom he was glad to be able to do so with now.
Other than missed conversations, Regis also invested in some quality bonding time with Chicken, their new companion which was of the species Chocobo, as he had been informed by Cirilla. Since his ravens couldn't follow him into the cave - or, rather, didn't desire to, Emiel had invested his abilities into studying Chicken, and soon the two of them developed a rather reliable bond which mainly consisted of Regis feeding the bird in regular timeframes, and sharing stories and head pats with it.
The bird also happened to prove itself very useful when their next little disaster came along - tumbleweeds. Something Emiel had never thought could present a threat, clearly seemed to do exactly that when enourmous specimen surrounded their wagon during a storm, clinging to every surface possible until the wagon itself seemed to become a tumbleweed.
As it turned out, however, Chicken was as much a freak chocobo as this had been a freak tumbleweed storm, because the bird happily proceeded to eat the tumbleweeds off their wagon, heavily contributing to their team efforts.
"Why, exactly, did you name it Chicken when it clearly is not a chicken?", Regis wondered the following day, sitting next to Cirilla at the front of the wagon, leaving the horses' reigns to the princess. He hadn't gotten around to asking until then, and with their journey having since picked up in pace once more, and them being headed towards what was becoming evident to be an exit at a steady speed, it seemed safe to be asking then.
The cave opened up ahead of them, and they rode out into the slowly setting sun, the grass-fresh air having struck Regis about a day ago already, as such letting him know that they were on the right path. What opened up in front of them, however, was not a field or even a forest or a plain, really - or, at least, any and all of these options were inferior in their impression against the enourmous tree looming over them, its branches nearly seeming to be stirring up the clouds.
Regis didn't think he's ever seen a tree quite so big before, and there was no way past it - they would need to circle it to continue on their path. Which, all in itself, wouldn't have been a concerning thought at all, if only it weren't for the fact that this tree was mumbling...
It was something entirely else to be driving through a cave system than through the open desert, a sentiment he was sure everyone on this journey could share, but he specifically enjoyed it far more. Mainly because of the lack of sunlight, the cool that reminded of home - and which allowed him to share his coat with Mirena in an act of chivalry he had been looking forward to showering her in ever since he's lost her so many centuries ago - and the bats leading the way when the draft and the fresh air did not. Ciri had adopted one of the birds during their encounter, something Vlad couldn't help but feel nostalgic about, growing up in the lush forests of Transylvania - and later with the Sultan - and trying his dearest to tame some of the animals he met there. One of the few fond memories he's been able to make with Mehmed at the time. In general, the girl seemed to him like a wild, untamed young woman, daring and chaotic, but ultimately responsible and growing to be a great warrior - or enchanter, in her case, he guessed? He couldn't help but hope that she'd never lose her wild.
The tumbleweed storm was another in a by now long series of unprecedented encounters, and they only had a fragment of a minute to prepare - just that Ciri's foresight, assuming it had been planned to adopt the bird, which he doubted, saved them this time around, as Chicken the Chocobo proceeded to simply eat the tumbleweeds that were the size of people, effectively and drastically reducing the time they had to spent removing the weeds from their carriage.
The sun was setting on the horizon as they finally exited the cave, but something else would've been blocking it anyway as they realized, staring at this giant, hollowed-out and seemingly dead tree. Seemingly, because it whispered. No, murmured, in no language Vlad had ever heard. He'd been sitting in the back with his wife, attempting a round of Gwent that the two others had taught them in the weeks passed - but that didn't mean he was certain Mirena and he were playing it entirely the correct way. The question posed by Regis was one he also would've liked the answer to, listening to their conversation with half an ear while he placed another card down between himself and the woman sitting across of him. Then the tree cast its shadow over them and he glanced outside, past the two on the coach box. "What is murmuring? It's not the tree itself, is it?" He started to suspect that the next event of weirdness was imminent.
She could not be any less amazed when she saw Ciri daring to ride one of the birds that had threatened to stampede the wagon. Mirena was marvelling at Ciri's bravery and skill. She knew that she was not ordinary, but that knowledge did not diminish how impressive her actions were. On the contrary, it made Ciri an even more valuable companion on the trip.
Besides, Mirena was dying to know what riding those chocobos felt like.
But life inside the wagon was pleasant as well, as she enjoyed her conversations with Regis and his incredible wisdom. She had attempted to learn the card game he and Ciri enjoyed and found it amusing herself. The desert was not without its perils, but Mirena had not felt unsafe since the beginning of their trip. Her husband, Regis and Ciri and the chocobo gave the impression that they could handle more perils the scenery could throw at them.
Such was the case with the annoying weeds, another obstacle that they overcame as they continued their trip inside the cave. Mirena almost wanted to laugh, as she expected horrible demons and angry werewolves and met with a rather ordinary journey. But the large tree they encountered later, had her frowning in concern.
She turned her attention to Vlad, unable to focus on the game. 'Does no one understand the language?' she questioned herself, her heart tightening. She stood up for a better view, her mind recalling stories that scared her when she was younger. 'If it is not the tree, then perhaps something lives inside it.' she added, evidently on alert. She much preferred the frogs than any invisible threats.
"Wouldn't it be more confusing naming it Chicken if it were a chicken?" Chicken, who had come to leisurely trotting along the wagon's side. Chocobos were soft enough, but it really did get rather uncomfortable riding one without a saddle for long periods of time. And besides, Chicken had more than proven his worth beyond just being a mount by gobbling up so many of those pesky tumbleweeds out of their hair.
Another bewildering phenomenon, that, but at least they were literally nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Ciri's nose wrinkled quizzically at the... spectacle up ahead, having alerted the attention of every passenger on the carriage by now. Her gloved hands alternated between tightening and loosening reflexively about the reins. "That's... typically a sign of something cursed, isn't it?" Her voice lowered as she dipped her head closer to earshot of Regis sitting by her side. "Geralt once mentioned a talking... evil tree about Crookback Bog." Her face pinched further at the recollection of the crones who used to dwell there.
But perhaps this was a friendly talking tree. Gods willing let it be friendly. Or at least not evil.
Vlad couldn't say whether he preferred a potentially cursed tree that was mumbling threats at them to what they were about to witness, but it was possible. The ground started to vibrate in motion, but there was no herd of birds or any other kind of animal approaching on the horizon this time, oh no. He assumed for a blessed few seconds that it may just have been a kind of earthquake, which would've been bad enough in and of itself, and he was already collecting the cards into his hands as to prevent any of them getting lost, when the ground shifted alongside the horizon. It took Vlad way too long to realize what was happening, his brain unable to connect the dots; he sensed that they were being lifted, and he could see it as he watched the sky, but there was a variable missing in that equation: How was that even possible ?
Well, perhaps, he should've asked "Who was making it possible?"
Chicken, in its fright, jumped into the wagon, presumably to sit down on Ciri's lap as if it was at least four times smaller, and be held by her for as long as the earthquake that really couldn't be one would last. The horses, understandably, started neighing in fear, their distress clear as day. The wagon rolled backwards for a terrifying few seconds, before it seemed to lock itself into place, getting stuck on something Vlad didn't dare question the existence nor durability of. And they were still being lifted.
For a few uncertain moments of being unable to do anything other than keep everyone basically glued to their spot in the wagon, the earth shook and the carriage ascended, though they were most certainly still standing on solid surface. Then it stopped. Abruptly so. Motioning for Mirena to stay put - and after he's pressed a small kiss onto her forehead - the former monarch moved to the front of the wagon and chanced a glance outside.
There was still solid rock underneath them, just as he's sensed it, but by a sheer streak of luck - he couldn't explain it any way differently - they'd ended up on the exact piece of rock that was now the shoulder of something very much alive. Lodged into place by a rock or a shifting joint or something that had, ultimately, saved their lives - and their carriage from plummeting a good hundred meters off said shoulder. The landscape was stretching underneath them, and in a way it reminded him of the valley leading to their castle so many hundred years ago.
The word cursed caused her further alarm and she glanced between the tree outside and Vlad in the wagon. She brought her hand in his chest, trying to calm her breath, but soon she realised she had been worrying about the wrong thing. Or perhaps they had reached a territory of frightening occurences.
When the ground shook and she felt the pull from above, Mirena tried to steady herself, her blue eyes lifting to the ceiling. Then her thoughts travelled to her companions and the horses and Chicken. She did not know how to help them were something terrible was happening to them, but fortunately she saw the strange animal jumping inside the wagon to Ciri. She felt relief for a few moments, before she realised that the movement of the wagon did not show any signs of pausing any time soon. She looked at Vlad, distressed but keeping her wits about her, until she could feel them coming to a stop as the wagon touched an unknown surface.
Vlad came to kiss her in order to let her feel more at ease, but when she saw him moving to the front, her heart begun racing. Something powerful enough to grab an entire wagon could be a threat to her husband. She rushed at his side without hesitation. 'Vlad. What is it?' she questioned when she noticed his expression. There were not many things in all worlds that could worry him so. Her eyes followed his, confronted with a sight she never could have imagined. Mirena's eyes widened in shock, her hand reaching for her husband's shoulder. 'We need to be very careful if we want to leave.' she spoke quietly, her eyes glued at the scene stretching in front of her. It was difficult to comprehend, but she
was not going to panic.
The language was none Regis knew - which all in itself was quite telling, for the vampire knew a lot of languages, ancient ones, too. But this was a different world than the Continent, and as such it was perhaps quite obliged to have born history to ancient languages equally different.
Yet, even if he would have attempted to respond to Ciri's inquiry, and her brief but concerning retelling of Geralt's encounter with an apparently similar force, he never got the chance to do so, for the ground promptly started shaking.
Emiel had experienced earthquakes before, and war, too - for the moment the horses and their armed riders rushed across the fields it, too, felt like an earthquake. But this wasn't one, mainly because they weren't falling but they were moving upwards.
The moment of shock lasted too long for their own good - otherwise, perhaps, they would have managed to escape. Chicken jumped into the wagon while Emiel did the opposite upon realizing their horses were growing mad with terror. He escaped the wagon in a cloud of smoke, reappearing next to the horses and positioning himself between the animals, one hand upon each of their snouts as he mumbled to them, and indeed soon enough they grew quiet.
Their wagon, however, did not. And Regis watched with a mixture of confusion, curiosity and worry how they were lifted up into the air, carried upon a stretch of land much more resembling a shoulder now that he had a different perspective.
By the time the tremor had made place for a somewhat more steady rattle, and Regis had made certain nobody was injured (Vlad was quite evidently taking very good care of Madam Mirena, and Regis didn't dare interrupt), he took in the view.... and what a view it was.
In another situation he certainly would have reacted quite differently - or perhaps he really was too sentimental a creature, too fond of philosophical and poetic musings - but the view was... well, it was beautiful.
"Ciri - come look at this."
Yes, there was even the touch of excitement in the old vampire's voice, and a slightly wider smile than usually, as he waved the princess towards him. In fact, he even thought about taking the girl up onto his shoulders as if she were much younger than the young woman she truly was, as to allow her an even better view of the scenery stretching out far beneath and ahead of them - perhaps if she'd let him, he'd do it regardless.
As the odds would have it, the mumbling tree ended up not having any relevance in the slightest. Then again, perhaps it had been attempting to warn them, albeit to little avail given the language barrier. It was for the best that Chicken had been frantic enough to land on Ciri's lap within the wagon, heavy mess of feathers that Chicken was, grounding her to the spot (and keeping the bird from spooking the horses even further in her fervor). She blinked owlishly as the earth itself seemed to rumble beneath their wheels, to the sensation of being lifted up, up, and up.
She did manage to extricate herself following a few comforting neck scritches. Mirena and Vlad were taking it in admirably — not even Ciri quite knew what to do with herself for a moment as she glanced over the ledge. This was different from leaning over one of the many balconies of Elysium's towering spires. This was different from gazing through the window of airplanes or flying ships. This was something alive.
Best be careful, she would agree, but she simply could not resist scooting forward with or without Regis's invitation, her ashen-blonde head popping over the side of the carriage. Large green eyes blinked downward. This time, she had nothing clever to say at all. Just a breezy laugh tumbling out of her lips, and a singularly awestruck, "Well I'll be damned."
And yes, as the shock gave way to wonder she was more than amenable to being hoisted over Regis's shoulders as though she were half her age, pointing out monuments to their fellow companions with hushed exclamations each time she noted some monument of interest below, and how tiny they were from this vantage.
When, eventually, the giant settled back down to sleep, they all helped to safely move the wagon off its shoulder and then finally moved to pass through a marshland, always making sure the horses wouldn't step into a sinkhole or something similarly dangerous, and steering around blackened trees that should've raised about all kinds of red flag, but they all just assumed the trees had died out a lack of nutrition.
Well, "Lack of Nutrition" wasn't necessarily a good name for a dragon, he thought, but Vlad also doubted the creature would halt its pursuit to tell them its actual name. Did dragons even have names ?
There was barely any way to avoid the beast, nor its flaming breath, even as the horses ran for their life; the vampire would've loved to say he was able to stop the giant lizard, if only because he was, by name, a son of the dragon, but that too didn't seem to sway the dragon's mind. Not that they stopped to compare family trees.
Only after a lengthy chase through the marsh - and luckily no getting stuck in a sinkhole - and the dragon getting at least one fiery attack in, did the wagon cross over the limit of same marsh, which fortunately seemed to satisfy the dragon; he could hear its wing flapping get quieter and quieter behind them, until it landed next to some of the burnt trees, officially ending the hunt.
"Is anybody hurt?" he called through the wagon, before jumping off their chariot and calling a couple of clouds to concentrate above them and soak them in rain to stop the small fire that was still assaulting the ceiling.