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Part 1:

Once Raxtus had departed with Kendra, Seth and Merek, Warren turned his attention back to Vanessa, who had yet to move from the pile of treasure they'd found her sitting on earlier.

"Nessa?" He said softly, crouching down in front of her.

"You're okay," she whispered, her white eyes staring up at a spot just over his head. Of course Kendra had already confirmed that for her before taking off, but still Vanessa felt a rush of relief hearing his voice again.

"I am." Warren lifted his hand and gently caressed her cheek, using his thumb to brush away a tear that escaped one sightless eye. "It's going to be alright."

Vanessa exhaled and slowly lifted one trembling hand, and after a little fumbling, managed to cover his hand with hers.

She wished she could see his face. She would give anything to see his face...just one more time.

But now she never would. At least...not unless someone could either break Bracken free of the fallen Fairy Realm or some lucky person found the Sands of Sanctity and used them on her.

But that was like asking for a miracle and Vanessa wasn't holding her breath for one. She didn't want Warren to either.

"If you want to walk away, I understand." She said thickly.

Warren frowned.

"What makes you think I would?" He asked.

"I mean...I'm not...I'm a liability."

"To the mission? I told you, you did great."

"Warren." Vanessa sighed. "You know that's not what I mean..."

"You think I don't want you anymore?"


Warren sighed.

"Van, it doesn't matter to me. I love you regardless. I always will."

Vanessa let out a tiny sob as his hand left her face and he wrapped his arms around her.

"I love you too."

"We'll figure this out." He murmured as she buried her face in his shoulder. "I promise."

Chapter Text

Part 2:

"So any bright ideas on how we're going to get out of here?" Vanessa asked. "With Bernosh gone, we're stranded."

Warren helped her to her feet. She swayed for a moment, disoriented and he took one of her arms, wrapping it around his neck, while wrapping his other arm around her waist.

Tanu pulled another bottle from his bag.

"Shrinking potion," he said. "You drink it, Warren can carry you down, then we can join Kendra and the others at Beacon Hill."

"Beacon Hill?" said Vanessa.

"Raxtus suggested it." Warren replied. "Merek seemed to think it was a good spot to observe things."

"And what use am I going to be in that department?" she asked. "Better yet, what use am I going to be at all?"

She hadn't meant to snap, but it was a valid question. There was little she could do now in the way of fighting or reconnaissance. And as there was no chance of her biting any dragons (not that she would have been able to, for one she'd never be able to get close enough to bite one and live to tell the tale, and two, her teeth would never have broken through the tough scales), her narcoblix abilities were void.

Vanessa had never felt so useless before in her life.

"Let's get out of here first," Tanu said after a few moments of uneasy silence. "Then we'll figure out our next move."

She felt him place the shrinking potion in her hand. Her hand trembled for a moment, she was afraid she might miss her mouth and spill it.

You can do this. Focus. Take it slow.

She took a deep breath and lifted the bottle slowly. When she was sure it was level with her mouth, she tilted it and drank the potion in one quick gulp.

Almost immediately after swallowing the potion, she had the distinct sensation that she was falling. When it passed, she stumbled, and felt a hand carefully wrapping itself around her.

"You're okay," Warren said. "I've got you."

"That was the weirdest thing I've ever experienced." Vanessa said. "and I've been on missions with you."

"How do missions with me qualify as weird?"

"Do you want the pamphlet version or the encyclopedia version?"

"You love my weirdness."

"On a good day."

"Hey! You two want to get a room or should we get moving?" Tanu interrupted.

“At this height, I’ll take the second option.” Vanessa said.

"Alright." Warren rolled his eyes and placed Vanessa in the front pocket of the flannel he was wearing. "Comfy?"

"I guess." she sighed. "Let's go."

Traveling by shirt pocket was by far the strangest thing Vanessa had ever experienced...and she'd experienced a lot of strange things in her life.

The trip back down the mountain was slow going even though the Perennial Storm had ended, and she found herself gripping handfuls of Warren's shirt to keep herself steady and prevent herself from tumbling out. After about ten or fifteen minutes they stopped.

"Warren?" Vanessa called, confused and concerned by the stall in their journey. She did not like not being able to see what was happening.

"I'm okay." He reassured. "So is Tanu. We just stopped to rest for a minute. Cliffs are wet from the rain and without climbing gear, it'd be a nasty fall down."

"And suddenly I miss our portable dungeon."

"I'm not that bad a transport, am I?" he pretended to be offended.

"Your shirt is more comfortable. It just lacks a safety belt." Vanessa sighed.

"I'm not going to let anything happen to you." he promised.

She smiled. "You're a lot better than the portable dungeon."

"Aw stop, you're gonna make me blush."

"I like making you blush." she teased.

Tanu groaned. "You two are disgusting."

"We're not that bad." Vanessa protested.

"You could be worse."

"May have been." Warren chuckled. Tanu frowned. "What? Ask Savani if we ever go back to Crescent Lagoon. I think she, Grady and Hako were conspiring at one point to kick us out of the Monkey Maze."

"Okay that's enough chatter about our love life." She said. "We should keep moving. Tanu how long will this potion last?"

"Long enough for us to reach the bottom of the mountain." he answered. "Let's go."

Upon reaching the foot of the mountain, Warren removed Vanessa from his shirt pocket and set her down on the ground as gently as he could. When the shrinking potion wore off, Vanessa experienced a sensation almost like rising up in an elevator, or an escalator, except at a much faster speed.

She felt Warren place his hand on the small of her back to steady her.

"Alright, so what's the plan?" she asked.

"Well I had a thought." Tanu said.

"And that is?"

"Ptolemy. The ettin." He replied. "You bit him, correct?"

"I did."

"Would you be able to see through him if we used him against the dragons?"

"Doubtful." Vanessa responded. "Three heads, three sets of eyes, three different minds. I'd have to pick a head to control."

"Kendra said the middle head seemed to control the other two," Warren said. "I observed as much from when I tricked him with the sheep we dosed with a sleeping potion."

"It was dosed enough to last for a couple of days." Tanu reminded them.

She was silent for a minute.

"No. It would leave me even more vulnerable than I am now." she said. “There would be no possible way for me to defend myself in the event of an attack. And chances are if I were to be ejected from the ettin by force, it would not bode well for my mental capabilities."

Warren ran a hand through his hair, not liking the despair in his girlfriend’s expression. He wished there was something he could do...anything just to take her pain away.

“What’d I tell you before? It’s going to be alright — we’ll figure it out.” He said, reaching for her hand and giving it a light squeeze. “We always do, right?”

A faint smile flickered across Vanessa’s face. “We do.” She sighed. “Let’s move.”