As Mishka announced their next break, it was all Ada could do to keep herself from simply collapsing where she stood and laying in the dirt. She was a relatively fit individual; she used to go on morning runs, though the practice had become far less regular with her admittance to the university, but she still managed it occasionally, not to mention her weekend trips to the gym and her yoga classes. She had been on her fair share of hiking trails, although none of them were nearly as complex nor involved as this particular trip, but she in general didn't tire so quickly or easily. No, the sole cause behind her slow pace and low energy was the incessant pounding in her head, striking at her temples. It was the sudden change in the world around her, and the fact everything she saw was no longer what she knew and was familiar with. Bursts of bright color everywhere: fire energy, according to Ashfur. The feline had been surprisingly sympathetic with her charge, perhaps because she was directly experiencing Ada's confusion and discomfort, and was taking measured steps to try and calm the young woman and walk her through tis new experience. With Ashfur's help, Ada had managed to 'tone it down' enough to at least be able to function properly, although it took a massive amount of concentration in order for her to see clearly. Just about all her energy was spent on trying to keep this 'magic vision' under control, and with the resulting headache that had not left her since she first woke up in the alley, she was not in the best condition to be trekking through the forest to this cabin.
Taking a deep breath, she found a relatively large and flat rock resting in the shade of a tree, and slowly brought herself down to rest on it. Pressing her palm flat against the rough surface, she relished to cool sensation seeping into her fingers, a welcome change from the sweltering heat of the sun. She was growing to really hate the fiery orb that hung in the sky, giving off both heat and a massive amount of Fire Energy, both of which threatened to crush Ada both inside and out. Once her hand had sufficiently cooled, she brought it up to her forehead, finding solace in the small short bit of relief it was able to grant her. Opening her eyes slightly, she peeked past her lashes to glance around at her travel companions. As Mishka spoke, informing them of their progress, Ada's brow furrowed in worry. Everyone was clearly worn out, and even if Mishka didn't say anything, Ada could tell she wasn't pleased with the speed they were traveling at. The young girl couldn't help but wonder if she should abandon this quest, maybe go back and join Jakob. She was undoubtedly slowing the group down, but...she couldn't quite understand it, but she didn't want to part with them. They were an odd, ragtag group of individuals that had clearly just fallen in with each other out of the single thing they had in common, that being the strange animals and the knowledge of magic that they harnessed. Regardless, Ada already felt an odd sense of attachment to them, and was unwilling to part with them. It was selfish, she knew; closing her eyes again, she leaned back, silently asking them for forgiveness, and to allow her to indulge in just one selfish desire. It was surprising, even to her, that she was willing to part with Jakob. It had been a mutual decision, but the heartache that came with longing for someone was growing persistently by the day. She couldn't deny it, she missed him.
After they had decided who was going with Mishka, Jakob had accompanied her back to the university so she could start packing for the trip. There had been an awkward silence hanging between them for some time, even as he helped her gather her things and pack her backpack for her. No matter how familiar, goodbyes were never easy. Once they found themselves standing outside the building, however, the silence finally had to break.
"You sure about this, Varley?" He had asked, the worry clear in his eyes. "Not to be rude, or anything, but you seriously look like crap." She had laughed then, rubbing at her temple.
"Yeah," She had responded, wincing slightly. "It'll just take some getting used to. I've still got a massive migraine, but Ash is helping me cope with it. I'll be fine."
"You know you're welcome to stay with me and my folks. It might be a house filled with testosterone, and my dads might be a little odd-"
"Your fathers are beautiful people." She had immediately interrupted. "You know that I love them, Waltz. I'd love to stay with all of you, there's not a doubt in my mind that I'd be well taken care of in your hands, but...I just feel like I need to do this. Not only will Ash be more comfortable out there, I might too. I've sort of got my fingers crossed that this...magic energy stuff might be a bit calmer out there. It's just so loud here, in the city, you know? Besides, everyone needs a little adventure now and then."
"Yeah," Jakob had chuckled. "You always were the more adventurous of us." Sighing, her took his hands out of his pockets and opened his arms up in a rare show of intimacy. "Well, if you're sure, guess I'll see you around Varley." Smiling, she had walked in to accept the hug, holding him tightly and trying as hard as she could to memorize his scent and the sound of his voice.
"You take care of yourself, Jakob." She said, giving him a brief kiss on the cheek as she let him go and stepped back. "And tell your dads hi me."
"Will do." He replied, with a quirky smile that she had come to associate with him. "Keep in touch if you can. If you ever swing around, make sure you stop by." As she turned to walk away, his voice brought her back one more time. "Oh." Looking over her shoulder, she saw him flashing her a thumbs up with a cocky grin. "Break a leg and knock 'em dead, Ada." She couldn't help but smile at the words, ones that he had repeated countless times before, every time they had a show and she was feeling nervous -- a silent, optimistic 'good luck!' of sorts. And somehow, it seemed like this was the most appropriate time to say it, with the uncertain future that they were facing.
Ada's heart clenched with longing at the memory. They had never actually said 'goodbye', not knowing whether or not they would truly never see each other again. Somehow, the possibility suddenly seemed much more real than it had just a day ago. Shaking her head, she brought her attention back to her current companions. Ashfur lay at her side, a single paw sitting atop her shoe, as a show of companionship that remained within her boundaries of comfort. As unpleasant as the little feline could be, Ada truly appreciated it. The cat hat made it clear that Ada would have to get control of her newly gained sight on her own in time, but for now she could feel the cat's consciousness quietly urging the magic within the girl to quiet down for the time being. Still, what Ada saw was clearly not what everyone else did. Of course, everywhere, there was Fire Energy. It was the strongest color to her, blazing reds, oranges, and yellows. Everything still retained its shape, but the colors were...not exactly distorted, more like overlaid with tints. Ashfur was still clearly a cat, and Ada could see the texture of her fur, but the natural brown-grey of her coat was mixed with a bright orange that danced along the edges of her figure, while a deep red seemed to reside within her. It was as if her physical form had become slowly transparent, so Ada not only saw the magic that whispered around the cat, but the stores of magical energy that she retained within her as well. Everything had magical energy -- despite the fact that the Fire Energy was the 'loudest' one, she could still see other forms. One thing that she had noticed was the appearance of this...whiteness. She hadn't even noticed it while they were in the city, but as they hiked further into the forest, the white energy had begun to appear, and was growing more and more prominent with each mile they crossed. She had begun to call it 'Pure Energy', as it seemed to coincide with nature -- Ash had explained, somewhat, about it being the Earth's natural energy, and how it was stronger in areas untouched by civilization. Ada couldn't quite grasp the whole concept, sensing that it was something much larger and deeper than her shallow understanding, but she got the idea.
What really set her on edge, though, was the new appearances her travel-mates had gained. 'New appearance', wasn't quite the right way to describe it, more like added features. All of them had their own, unique magic that Ada could see. Mishka had a beautiful teal color, the magic a bit more 'solid' than that of the others. Around the edges, it was more of a green, and seemed to outline and reinforce her frame, as if simply waiting to be called upon at a moment's notice, ready to break free into the environment whenever she called upon it. This outer energy was more of a green tinge; inside, however, through the peculiar transparency that Ada was slowly trying to grow accustomed to, was another magic that had less substance than the green -- it seemed to swirl about inside her, a greenish-blue, there but not ready to come out just yet. Ada had decided to call this her 'potential', as it's nebulous form led her to believe that it was waiting for Mishka to find it and gain control of it, in a way. It was an odd thought, but just felt right, on an instinctual level. Nathan was another story. His magical energy was somewhat similar to Mishka's 'potential', but fundamentally different. The color was not a soft bluish green, but a sharp blue-white; rather than swirling about aimlessly, the icy color seemed almost solid, sitting motionlessly within him and concentrating heavily around his hands. It would shift, so slowly that Ada had to really concentrate in order to see it, but it would occasionally form jagged points before ebbing off into a smooth surface, just to spike up again. Al, on the other hand, was yet another story. Like Mishka, his magical energy was separated into two forms, and he possessed 'potential' himself. He stood out the most out of the three, because his primary energy was Fire Energy, which burned brightly to Ada's Fire sensitive eyes. It was primarily orange in color, like Ashfur's energy, but unlike the cat, his did not seem to blaze with a lively danger; it ebbed and flowed, in a gentle and calming manner, almost resembling liquid more than flames. Within him, a different energy stirred, moving in a similar manner. Ada couldn't quite find the words to describe it -- it wasn't a distinct color, like the rest of the energy she had seen, but more a colorless blend of everything, fluid and untainted in its essence. It was a very calming energy, that seemed to concentrate right where his heart was, and Ada often found herself staring at it. Despite it not having a definable color, it was predominantly white, she had decided, though nowhere near as white as the Pure Energy that surrounded them all. When she looked down at herself, she was just as different as the rest; her energy swirled about her almost chaotically, a bright yellow that danced about like an excited child. She wondered if this reflected her own personality, in some ways, though it seemed to slow and almost solidify and condense in the center of her stomach, just behind her belly button.
A sudden yell yanked her out of her stupor, and she jolted out of the near sleep she had fallen into. In her shock, she lost the focus she had been maintaining up to that point, and the world suddenly exploded with brilliance around her again, causing her own cries of pain to mix with Nathan's angry screams. Ashfur jumped up, fully alert and focused on her human's anguish. Growling quietly, the cat shook herself off, and deftly left onto Ada's lap, sniffing at the girl's hand.
She commanded, directly into Ada's mind, trying to assist her. Ashfur was able to encourage the subconscious control from the sidelines, but would not be able to fully manipulate it for the girl. Ada had to gain control of her sight herself, but she was like a newborn pup right now, floundering in a foreign world, so Ashfur would help her for now.
~Breathe. Think. Calm~ She repeated, like a mantra. ~Clear head. Clear thoughts~
Ada struggled, holding her head in her hands as she whimpered pathetically, trying to follow the bobcat's commands. She felt a furry head nuzzle up against her, the claws of a heavy paw digging into the material of her jeans.
"It's too hard." She whispered quietly. "It hurts so much..."
~Magic not bad~ The unusually soothing voice spoke into her head. ~Accept. Embrace. Enjoy~
Ada's brow furrowed as she tried to process this new information. She had been seeing the magic as an outside attacker, something trying to brutally assault her mind. It had never occurred to her that she might...accept it. Biting her lip, she tried to change her method of thinking, and instead thought of the beautiful colors she had been examining within her new friends before, and the potential and powers that it granted them. It was a wonderful thing, a gift from the earth. With the new perspective, the pain slowly ebbed off and she gave a relieved sigh, as her eyes were finally able to open again.
"Thank you, Ash." She said softly, reaching down to pet the bobcat who was allowing the action just this once. When Ada looked down, she noted that the cat almost seemed to be grinning playfully at her, causing her to cock her head in confusion.
~You eat. Get strength. I hunt. I eat.~
Images of rabbits, squirrels, birds, fish, and all kinds of different animals flashed through her mind, and she smiled at Ash's excitement. Nodding, she bent over to pull out one of her many bags of trail mix as well as a granola bar, while Ashfur lept off of her lap and began to trot further into the forest. The image of a deer flashed through her head, and Ada paused. That small bobcat? Take down a deer? She laughed at the thought, and unwrapped her granola bar. Ashfur's displeased thought penetrated her mind, and Ada lost her appetite as Ash walked her through exactly how she would go about killing a deer. In Ash's eyes, all herbivores were the same -- weak, easy prey.
Okay, okay, I get it.
~I go hunt. Deer, meat, good portions for everyone~ As Ada sensed a new resolution, she jolted upright and turned around to try and catch the feline, but she was already out of sight. But not out of range.
Ash, no. In response, an image of the group settled around a fire, happily digging into the juicy roasted meat of the deer played in her mind.
In return, Ada sent an image of the four of them awkwardly trying to drag the corpse of the deer along, thoroughly ruining the meat and it's appeal. Ashfur silently resigned, sending images of rodents instead to reassure her pesky human. Annoying humans and their logic.
Sighing in relief at the averted crisis, she turned and gave a small surprised squeal as she found Toc standing before her, looking ruffled and cautious, but clearly waiting for something. Placing a hand over her racing heart, Ada tilted her head in confusion, before laying her eyes on the frozen bird that lay at her feet. She quickly put the pieces together, between Nathan's yells and his ice-like Magical Energy, the diet of these animals, and her own power. She realized that the bird was waiting for her to thaw out a meal for it. Her eyebrows rose, and she cast a skeptical glance at the small frozen dead bird. The thought was...unnerving to say the least, and she didn't feel terribly compelled to execute the task. The bird was waiting so patiently in front of her, though, that she felt almost obligated to fulfill the silent request, and...well, she would be lying if she said she wasn't at least a little bit curious as to what she could accomplish as well. With a small resigned sigh, she reached down and scooped the bird up into her hands, and with a silent apology and words of thanks, she cupped her hands over it. Closing her eyes, she focused on the dense ball of Fire Energy in the pit of her stomach, remembering the positive feelings to associate with it, and tried to call it into her hands. She sat like that for several good minutes, without anything really happening, no fireballs or beams of flames shooting out from her palms, although in retrospect that was a good thing. As she was about to give up and apologize to Toc, however, she suddenly felt droplets of water seeping between her fingers. Opening her eyes in surprise, she looked down and was shocked to see her cupped hands glowing with a bright yellow, almost orange, energy. Ignoring her 'Sight', she could see that her hands in the physical world were also a bright red, as if she had been playing in snow for too long and the blood was rushing to the surface. At her than feeling cold, however, they felt very very warm, pleasantly so although she could imagine that changing over time. After holding her power there for a moment, she finally opened her hands up to find a steaming and fully thawed bird, droplets of water still clinging to its feathers. Smiling slightly in victory, she lowered her hand to offer Toc her meal. Sitting back again, she stared at her hands in slight awe, before picking her bag of nuts back up and storing them back in her bag. She imagined it would be time to get moving again soon, and with her sight more under control now, she was hoping to quicken her pace and avoid slowing down the group again. She hated to be a burden, and was determined to be helpful for the remainder of the trip.