Icarus leans against a strange black rock formation, breathing heavily. They're clutching their side, where a scratch is bleeding. It seems to have been slowing down.

 

They glance around. The red haze is everywhere - they can't see twenty feet in front of them. There are several black stones around that they can see. Then, suddenly, a resounding BOOM was heard above and the screeching of several demons. Icarus shut their eyes tight and pulled their legs closer to their body.

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      icarus

               she/they

                    ~

                   to live is heaven

I flew through the air; down, down... It seemed like an eternity, though in reality it was probably only a few seconds. I hit the floor, rolling to soften my fall. I winced; the floor was hard rock. The red haze was here as well. What did that mean? Suddenly, a series of booms exploded above me. I gasped in shock. I hadn't expected the destruction of the hole to be so loud. At least I knew I was still in the same location, and not teleported somewhere else or something. I looked around for my chief. It was difficult to see through the red haze that overshadowed everything. 

"Icarus?" I called tentatively into the red void.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"Crimson? Is that you?" Icarus called, not moving from their spot. They grabbed a sharp stone nearby, just in case. "Come over here. Or are you hurt?" 

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               she/they

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"Just a few bruises." I replied, walking towards the voice. Icarus quickly came into view, holding a rock. "That cut looks bad."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus flung the rock at Justus halfheartedly. It hit his ankle weakly and plopped on the ground. "Yeah, it is. But I mean, we're going to die here anyway, so what's the point of delaying it? We have been for... god, almost a year, right...?"

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      icarus

               she/they

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Justus made an annoyed noise in his throat. 

"Come on. Let's find out way out of here."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus glared up at Justus. "And then what? Die up there the next time demons attack?" They winced as they moved, trying to show their legs to Justus. "Besides, I wasn't as lucky as you. My legs are royally screwed. I can't move without-" They grunted in pain as they pulled their legs back towards them. "Maybe I'll make friends with the demons," Icarus chuckled, feeling a bit woozy. Their cut has finally stopped bleeding but their ankles and legs still ached and bled. It felt like their entire legs had been set on fire.

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      icarus

               she/they

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"I'll carry you then." I muttered, walking over to the badly injured chief.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus tried to push Justus away, but they were weak. "As your chief I am ordering you to go on. If I can find my way out, great. But we'll both die if you try to take me with you."

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      icarus

               she/they

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"You aren't going to escape by sitting around and being fatalistic." I replied, bending down to pick up Icarus. 

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus allowed themself to get picked up, wincing when their legs left the ground. They glanced around the red haze, trying to pick out any demons or whatever else may live down here. A loud growl sounded from somewhere upwards, but it was far-off. Icarus watched where it came from carefully.

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      icarus

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I frowned, looking upwards. The there shouldn't be enough room in here for something to be that high up. There was definitely something strange going on with is cave...

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus picked at their skin as Justus walked. "I hate this place." They kept watching what felt like a red sky. "But it's warmer than what I'm used to and that's nice," they added, trying to lighten the mood a bit. They strained their ears to listen for demons coming closer.

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      icarus

               she/they

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                   to live is heaven

Justus nodded. He had been looking for the remains of the collapsed tunnel, to use as a reference point, but it was difficult to make out anything in the red fog that blanketed everything in the cave. Just when he spotted a rock formation that looked familiar, voices began coming out of the redness. 

Justus immediately rushed towards the nearest rock, putting it between the two Quarzi and the voices. The voices speak quickly and angrily, in the demon language.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus frowned, then whispered, "I don't know as much as I used to... They're talking about the battle. One of them is high ranking. Wait, Fara-il's dead? Shame..." Vaguely they wondered if they had shot down Fara-il. There had been several more birdlike demons. "Um. They're arguing about what to do now, I think."

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      icarus

               she/they

                    ~

                   to live is heaven

"You speak demon?" Justus hissed.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"When we first arrived here, I learned as much as I could," Icarus murmured. "It's only gotten worse since then though. Met a few nice demons once. I think I killed one of them today..."

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      icarus

               she/they

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Nice demons? Justus thought, frowning. So they aren't just beasts...

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"They still kind of sucked though," Icarus added. "Used a lot of blood for something... I can't really remember. It was bad." They paused, listening. "Now they're talking about escaping? Um... 'That exit was not the...final way?... We can still leave.'"

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      icarus

               she/they

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"Of course." I replied. "They had to get in here somehow."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"No, the way they said it, it was 'leave' but implied to be 'escape,'" Icarus explained, trying to listen more. "Why would they have to escape though? Um, 'not safe for us' but 'us' as in just them, not all the demons."

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      icarus

               she/they

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                   to live is heaven

"Perhaps they're deserting." Justus replies. "Their superiors might not be happy about them failing to protect the tunnel."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"Yeah..." Icarus murmured. "Either way, should we follow them?"

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      icarus

               she/they

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"Yeah." Justus replied.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"I could try to ask them for help, maybe," Icarus suggested. "Wait, they're starting to leave. Can you see them?"

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      icarus

               she/they

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Justus peered around the rock to look in the direction of the voices. To his surprise, he could see the demons, standing there in the haze not twenty feet away. 

"They're right there!" He hissed in Icarus ear'.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"One of them is saying they should leave now. The other is worried they'll get caught. No wait? They're saying as long as they're careful they can," Icarus translated. They glanced out from behind a rock. The faint figures were moving. "Let's go."

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      icarus

               she/they

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Justus waited a few seconds, then swiftly followed the demons, dashing between rocks, then hiding.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus kept tracking the demons' conversation, or trying to. It didn't have much more information - just "watch out" and "this way" and things like that. Then, suddenly, the words dropped off completely.

 

Icarus strained to hear anything, but found that the demons were gone. About thirty-some feet away was a faint hole in the scarlet haze. Vague, yes, but there, and blue as the sky. "There, there!" Icarus whispered, pointing, even though they assumed Justus had already seen it.

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      icarus

               she/they

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                   to live is heaven

Justus frowned. A seed of a theory had begun forming in his head... 

"Let's wait a few minutes." He commented. "It'd be sad to get out of this place only to be immediately captured."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus rolled out of Justus's grip and onto the ground. They began crawling  as best as they could. "I'll just check. If they get the cripple it's fine, you'll escape then." They kept army-crawling forward, aware they weren't making fast progress.

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      icarus

               she/they

                    ~

                   to live is heaven

Justus made an annoyed noise and walked to position himself in front of Icarus, blocking his way. 

"No." 

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

(pronouns, please)

 

Icarus tried to crawl around Justus. "Just let me get closer," they grumbled, "And if I can still hear them we can go."

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      icarus

               she/they

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"If you can still hear them we can't go." Justus muttered, but didn't stop Icarus a second time.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus crawled faster and dragged themself up the hole. Their legs ached and sharp pains kept shooting through them but they kept going. Then their hands touched grass and they sighed.

 

One of the demons let out some kind of yelp and the other growled. "Rurwety veer!" they called. It wasn't quite a sentence, and it probably didn't make much sense by itself but they needed to call something out. So they chose "without violence," which was a bit pretentious but they didn't care.

 

They glanced up. One of the demons looked humanoid, but maybe around four feet tall. They had ram horns and one of their wings had been torn off. The other was... a centipede.

 

Icarus started laughing hysterically. The ram-horned demon tapped them with a hoofed foot and that's when Icarus sobered up. Right, that might not actually be K'klith. "K'klith? Rurwety veer," Icarus repeated.

 

The centipede demon glared at Icarus and spat out a few curses. Then, he said in Demonic, "How in the world did you end up here?" Icarus just started laughing again.

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      icarus

               she/they

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Justus growled softly to himself at Icarus' recklessness and drew two throwing knives.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

"Woah Justus dont do that thanks," Icarus got out as fast as possible. "K'klith probably won't hurt us unless you like throw a knife into his skull."

 

"I do not have a skull," K'klith muttered in English. He shot a glare at Justus and then turned to his companion. He told them that it was fine but they didn't seem convinced.

 

"Even better! No skulls here, haha," Icarus said, eyeing the ram demon.

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      icarus

               she/they

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"How... Nice." Justus replied.

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

Icarus beckoned Justus closer and whispered, "Listen I get demons suck, they do, but what if we're somewhere we've never been? We don't know how things function down there. We could be in the mountains. So until we have more information, we need allies."

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      icarus

               she/they

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"We haven't walked far enough for that." Justus replied. "Then again, anything is possible... Fine, see if you can get them to help us."

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PhD in Deliberation  

It's still my fault.

 

I am a Mormon

I'm not very good at it 

But I promise to be better

 

 

 

ETA: However long it takes me to figure out the magic words

 

    1 ,