Meeting Goliath

GM: Darius
Players: Walker, Lotus
Synopsis: Darius takes Pema and Walker on a hike up the mountains to meet his free spirit friend, Goliath. Pema requests that she be allowed to use the spirits domain in her upcoming Ordeal, as a place to meditate. Goliath welcomes two new friends.
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 2080

It's later on in the day, early evening or there abouts. There's a while yet before the sun sets, though, to give the group time to make their hike. Darius is currently waiting, near the foot of the mountain, where the gravel road leading away from the highway ends in a small car park, and where the hiking trails begin. He's wearing a pair of jeans, walking boots, and a jacket- and looks rather out of place out of his suit. But needs must. He is leaning against the bonnet of a shiny red convertible americar that is /very/ out of place for him.

After some time, Pema appears. She looks dressed like deep winter; well, she didn't have the sense to put on actual trousers, just some thick pantyhose, but the turtleneck and overcoat looks warm enough. Her boots don't look ideal for trekking, but at least they're sturdy. She's also hauling along a sling back, worn on her back. She comes walking, hands in pockets, looking around at the vista with much amazement in her dark eyes.

The screech of a bird of prey announces another arrival, although at first it's difficult to see. An odd patch of cloud ripples through the sky coming from the Northeast, against the wind and much too fast to be entirely natural. As it comes to a halt above the trees, a bright blue bird can be faintly seen circling, at least if you're paying attention to astral space.

The cloud descends to the ground, gradually resolving itself into a metahuman form: Walker, in his shamanic garb. The elf nods to the other two and breathes deeply, savouring the fresh mountain air. "It's nice up here," he comments with a faint smile on his face.

Darius offers Pema a wave as she wanders up, and he opens up his car to fetch his own backpack- it's a proper (if fairly small) hiking pack, with a water bottle, first aid kit, and probably some other basic survival supplies in there, just in case. He also fetches some snap-pak hand warmers from the glovebox, one set of which he tosses over to the Asian girl before locking up the vehicle, the rest are stowed in the pack before it's slung over his shoulders. It's about then he spies the unusual cloud approaching, and he watches it as it draws nearer. "Show off." he murmurs once Walker finally resolves. "And you're right, I do like to visit." he says to the Shaman. "Well, everyone ready? It's an hour or so's hike to Goliath's Domain. The trail will take us most of the way, there, but we'll have to cut through the woods. There used to be a road, but it collapsed about a hundred years ago, from what I've been able to gather, and it's completely overgrown now."

The Asian girl is obviously not much of a ball player and would capitally fail to catch the snap-pak were it not for her grabbing onto it with telekinesis, making it slowly float to her hand and into her pocket rather than landing in the gravel. She looks up at the cloud spectacle, nodding to herself as if she knows what's happening before it happens. When Walker shows up, she chuckles to herself, having guessed correctly. She takes her hand just barely out of her pocket and offers a wave from the waist before quickly slipping it back in. "I'm ready," she says. "At least I think I am… my ancestors must be ashamed of me for struggling with the mountain cold here," taking the self-deprecation at least partially as a joke. "Anyway, I have been looking forward to this."

"Good," Walker comments on the proposed route, "I'm not really a fan of hiking trails anyway." Besides a small satchel slung over his shoulder the elf doesn't appear to have brought anything else with him, presumably either confidence of foolishness. "You'll get used to it," he predicts on the subject of the climate, "Took me a while to get used to the thin air out here, and I've been up and down mountains since I could walk." Patting his satchel he adds, "Still got the gloves and hat in here if you want 'em." Still beaming from ear to ear at the idyllic surroundings, he asks brightly, "Shall we go then?"

Darius nods his head then, "No time like the present." he says, and then he pushes away from his car, and begins to lead the way towards the aforementioned hiking trail. It's pretty easy going, at first, the ground beaten smooth by the many feet that have walked it before. "Did you not have much opportunity to leave the city, then, when you lived in Hong Kong?" he wonders of Pema. "I suppose I was in the same boat, when I was young. It was boarding school and then university. To be honest, I hated the outdoors." he admits, glancing back over his shoulder to make sure neither has trouble following the lead he takes.

Pema does have her cutesy black beret on. Better than nothing, though it doesn't cover her ears, so she nods appreciatively to Walker's offer. "Thanks… I really needed them last time, might need them again." she sniffs, rubbing her nose as they begin walking. She's not as tall as the two giants but she manages to keep a nice pace with her skinny legs. "There isn't much wilderness to speak of any more in Hong Kong," she says to Darius, looking a little ashamed over what she's about to say. "…and without a SIN - or money - it's hard to go anywhere. So no… not really. And after leaving HK, I spent most of the time on a Wuxing college campus." she sighs. "At least I am happy to finally be free to experience these things now," she says with a weak smile on her face. "Does it get steep further up?"

Walker marches happily along the trail behind the others, letting them chat about big cities while he enjoys the scenery. Occasionally he stops for a moment as he spots a small animal or bird in the undergrowth that he recognises, lengthening his stride to catch up with the others afterwards. Overhead, the faint bird spirit that arrived with the shaman now appears to be fully materialised. Blue feathers glint in the afternoon sun as it wheels above the trio, circling in a slow, lazy pattern, only occasionally flapping its wings. From the ground it's quite difficult to get a fix on its size without a point of reference.

Darius listens to Pema, turning halfway back but keeping his eyes ahead lest he trip on any roots or rocks in the path. "I see. I fear a lot of the world is like that, these days- the lack of wilderness, that is. Denver is lucky, the Sioux and PCC have been very good about preserving green spaces like this. The southern side of the city, bordering the CAS and UCAS sectors is… less pleasant." he says. As she talks about lacking a SIN, he nods his head and looks ahead again, and though it takes him a moment, clearly a difficult subject, he does continue speaking. "My daughters- They were brought to America against their will, as children. I had to have documents forged for them, after I took them in." he says. He falls quiet again for a few moments, before clearing his throat and answering Pema's other question. "It does get a bit steeper, and there is a small bit of scrambling involved once we leave the track, but it's not too bad." he assures her.

"Asia just has too many people," Pema says helplessly, sulking a bit. "And the Chinese will kill and eat anything that lives, so you're very unlikely to ever find much life in the little nature we've got. Everything is sterile like a park, not proper wilderness like here." she looks around and sighs. The mention of his daughters doesn't lighten the mood. "That's a sad story… but I am glad they ended up with you. Without forged documents, I would never be able to attend any school, and I'd definitely never end up here." she falls quiet a bit too, instead looking at Walker. He seems to be keeping up a much more cheerful mood.

Take him out of the city for a while, and Walker seems almost like a different person. He seems to hear Darius' story, his face turning hard for a moment and his eyes changing colour, but a snatch of birdsong catches his attention and snaps the elf out of whatever mood was descending. Absent the usual constant banter that he seems to default to, his smile could even be described as serene. If they didn't know him better at least. "It's handy to be able to make up a new story when you need to," he offers absent-mindedly An odd way to refer to forged identities perhaps, but maybe he's just distracted by the squirrels or something.

"I'm glad I found them, too. I'm a better man for it." Darius says to Pema, pausing to turn back properly and offer her a small smile. "I suppose the point I was trying to make is that sometimes-" he steps over a log that has fallen in the path, "-Forged documents are a little white lie that helps people find justice, even if it means breaking the law." he continues. "Is Pema your birth name, then?" he asks her then, continuing the lead the way. The path is gradually becoming less well kept- the further from the main road, the less casual strollers make their way there to beat back the undergrowth all around. The trees begin to loom overhead, filtering what sunlight remains, though there are gaps here and there, still.

"Pema Lhadron is my given name," she says with a nod. "Meaning something like 'Celestial light from the Lotus'. Later, after hearing I could sing well, they gave me the name Yangchen as well, meaning melodious. Tibetans don't have surnames." she explains, looking away at the vista the whole time. "The name on my SIN is a Chinese one, but it's just a cover name, means nothing to me. I totally agree, sometimes a white lie can do more good than unjust truths. At least when the system is unjust." she stops occasionally to squat down, picking up little rocks and such to inspect them, but mostly ends up dropping them immediately.

Brushing his hands through the needles on a low branch of a pine tree, Walker plucks a few of the emerald spines and breaks them between his fingers before breathing in the heady smell, sighing contentedly. He smiles at the discussion of unjust systems, but doesn't add anything. It'd only fuel the voice in his head and he's pretty sure he can hear a waxwing singing a little ways off.

Darius nods his head a bit, "I thought so, given what you told me of its etymology." he says to Pema. He glances back again, this time peering at Walker, and gives another smile as he sees the cheerful Shaman doing his thing. "Alright, here's where the path breaks off." he finally says, pausing at the edge of the path. At first glance, it seems like an arbitrary part of forest, but keen eyes will note that while it isn't so much of a path, to speak of, there is a deer trail or something like it. "Mind your feet from here out, thankfully it's mostly evergreens so there shouldn't be many roots and such to trip over, but the ground can be a bit uneven." he warns, mostly for Pema's benefit, given Walker's clear comfort in the environs. The path is also at a somewhat sharper incline than the hiking trail, which seems to take a more serpentine route up the mountain.

"Yep, lots of Sanskrit words in our language." The Asian girl seems to be fairly happy for Walker's sake too, given how at ease he seems out here. It is a bit contagious, but who can't help but enjoy the crisp mountain air and the view? She looks up at the forested path, touching some of the trees. "It's amazing up here," she says, though her joy is somewhat spoiled at the awkward path ahead which she doesn't have legs long enough to just casually skip over.

Walker beams at the sight of the new 'path'. "We might see some deer if we're lucky," he muses with a glance at the steadily lowering sun after nodding in agreement with Pema, "Sunset's a good time for that." Seeing the young woman look a little concerned, the shaman whistles softly as his eyes flicker for a moment.

From out of the undergrowth bounds a little spirit in the shape of an aggressively adorable wolf pup. As it snuffles around the shaman's feet, tail wagging ecstatically, the elf hunkers down to scritch it behind the ears. "Can you make sure we don't fall over anything little one?" he asks, an enthusiastic bark confirming that, yes, it absolutely can before the critter bounces towards the other two not-quite-shamans.

Darius glances towards the wolf pup as it comes bounding out of the undergrowth, smiling a bit, "I'm afraid my elementals are no use for situations like these. Best they could do would be to cut a path through the brush, but that sort of defeats the point, doesn't it?" he muses. He begins to lead the way once more, assisted so by the spirits powers, he strides with more confidence trusting it to keep his feet from falling into any pits and twisting ankles. although not too quickly- it's still steep, and he's aware that Pema isn't as tall as he. "This path will take us right up to Goliath's domain. The trees start to thin out, and his domain is right at the edge of the tree line." he tells the others.

The Asian girl cannot help but squat down to take a closer look at the adorable little spirit, but she stays respectful enough not to touch it. She looks up, looks a little disheartened by the terrain but she goes anyway. She's clearly struggling with the uneven ground and the steepness, but she nonetheless manages to tag along, probably only managing to do so thanks to the spirit's aid. "Phew," she says, "This is harder than it looks."

Panting happily at its new friend when Pema squats down to see it, the pup almost looks disappointed not to get a pat on the head. The tiny mood disappears almost instantly though, as the moss-coloured little critter runs circles around the trio as they make their way up the tricky path, barking excitedly. Walker seems perfectly happy here as on the trail, taking a couple of 'scenic' routes that entail a little bit of scrambling on his hands here and there as they go. "You're doing good for a first timer," he assures Pema with a broad smile, "Use your hands where you need to on the steep bits and take your time. There's no rush." As if to emphasise the point, the elf turns to look back the way they came, which by now offers a fairly impressive view back over the forest they came through with the first lights of Twin Forks twinkling further beyond.

Even Darius, who apparently makes this trek fairly regularly, doesn't have an altogether easy time of it- he has the benefit of a larger frame and longer legs, which certainly help, "This is about the point I usually give up and just fly, if Daria isn't with me- she considers it cheating." he admits to the other two, " If you need to pause for a moment, don't hesitate to say." he adds, but then focuses on leading the way. The path, mercifully, begins to level out after a little while. The ground also begins to subtly change, less soily, more gravelly. The trees begin to thin, as promised, and those that do grow are not quite so tall or sturdy. The breeze is picking up, as the trees thin out, and the air is very brisk indeed up here.

Eventually, and rather abruptly, they emerge into a clearing. The reason for the sudden lack of trees becomes apparent- as there is a rather sheer but not especially tall cliff face at the far side of the clearing, and the ground is made of chunky gravel punctuated with a couple of fairly large boulders, with only a few sturdy mosses and particularly stubborn patches of grass managing to take root. Clearly the mountainside has collapsed here, some time long ago, and created something of a miniature plateau.

Truly ancient wooden beams span a gap in the cliff face, with only darkness beyond- the lanterns which may have once lit it long since gone. Darius takes a few paces into the clearing, and then rests a fist on his hip, pausing to catch his breath before saying, "And, here we are."

Struggling along, Pema seems intent on proving herself capable of this, and despite her utter lack of training in mountaineering she makes it to the clearing. Maybe it's her Himalayan blood or something, but once she makes it to the clearing she stops, squatting down. She's pretty young and moderately healthy so it's not a huge toll on her, but she's obviously not fit. "Phew," she says, nonetheless looking pleased having made it. She eyes the ominous collapsed entrance, standing up and gets a serious expression. "Looks dangerous."

At the clearing's edge the little spirit comes up short, sitting down mid-run and screeching to a stop. Peering at the hole in the cliff face, it whines as the first two leave the trees behind, growing to a sorrowful whimper as Walker draws level with it. Hunkering down next to the critter the shaman reaches out a hand and tousles its hair which seems to distract it for a moment before it's eyes are drawn back to the darkness. Bringing it's head back around with a gentle hand, Walker gathers the little creature into a hug, the elf and wolf-shape leaning their heads together before Walker says something to the little creature in Ute that seems to calm it down.

As he gets to his feet, the little spirit barks, then howls a brief farewell to the trio before scampering away between the trees. Walker glances to Darius, apparently none the worse for the climb, "He says your friend is big and scary, but he's only little so I suspect that's just a relative thing."

Darius nods his head a bit at Pema's observation, "It can be, but since Goliath has made it his domain, only if he doesn't like you." he says and offers what he hopes is a reassuring smile. He glances back to Walker and the Spirit, and he dips his head, offering a single word of thanks in the same language, before the spirit departs. Now that he's caught his breath, he takes a couple of steps further into the clearing, and shrugs off his backpack. He sets the pack on top of one of the larger boulders, and then fishes around in it, before eventually pulling out a single rod of clear quartz, about ten centimetres long and fairly regular in shape, even though it doesn't look as though it's been machined in any way. "Your friend is right about one thing." Darius warns the two of them. "Goliath is rather large." he steps towards the maw in the mountainside.

"Goliath?" Darius calls out then, "Are you home?" he calls out.

His only answer, at least at first, is the faint echo of his own voice. Slowly, however, a swell begins- a vibration, more than a sound. The sort you feel in your teeth, rather than hear. Small pebbles on the ground begin to dance and skitter, as the sound returns, louder this time. And then again, once more the sound returns, once more it is louder, fuller. The gravel dances again, in time with this rhythmic pounding that feels as though it comes from the mountain itself. Finally, a hand emerges from the darkness of the mine- made of mossy, craggy granite it grips the entrance. At a glance, the span of the hand seems to be nearly as wide as an average human is tall. A second hand join the first, gripping the other side of the mineshaft entrance. And finally, the rumbling reaches a crescendo as the hulking form of Goliath pulls itself free from the mineshaft, chunks of his granite body grinding against one another. Dust and pebbles come tumbling down from the cliff face above, showering the giant as he rises to his full height- several meters tall, easily taller than your average giant.

"Friend Darius." The giant speaks, sweeping its gaze across the clearing- eyes made of white quartz and faintly glowing, chin covered in a hanging beard of moss. A sapling grows from a crack in its right shoulder. "And others." the deep, gravely baritone speaks, very slowly and deliberately.

Pema, who doesn't speak the language of the local spirits, nonetheless offers a wave to the little spirit. Then, she turns back to Darius, not looking overly confident by the assurance. "I pray he does like me, then," she says, a nervous smile on her face. As Darius takes out his offering, she decides to do so as well, pulling her sling back over to her waist, opening it up and taking out what she brought. It's a roughly egg-shaped hunk of pink Himalayan salt, slightly smaller than maybe the egg of an ostrich. She adjusts the bag back to her back, then holds the salt crystal with both hands. She bites her lip as the vibrations begin, looking around anxiously, and by the time the hulking rock behemoth makes its appearance, she looks downright terrified, her skinny legs almost visibly shaking. She almost instinctively bows as the great spirit indirectly addresses her, almost wanting to drop to her knees and kowtow but restrains herself.

As if operating entirely on instinct, Walker's feet leave the ground shortly after the first tremor, the shaman floating a foot or so above the ground, his eyes glowing as he observes the astral plane. As the behemoth emerges from the ground, Walker looks up into its face with a fascinated expression, studying it's astral and physical forms with equal interest.

Floating up until the immense spirit doesn't have to squint down to see him, Walker places one hand over his heart and inclines his head in greeting. "They call me Walks-with-Spirits," he offers, "It's nice to meet you. Darius told me about you."

Goliath continues looking between the two newcomers, Pema first, and then to Walker, each motion drawing out a slow, grinding sound of stone against stone. It remains silent for some time, before finally speaking- that same slow rumble that makes your chest vibrate and your teeth tingle. "Welcome, Friends of Darius." it finally speaks. Then it looks to Darius, evaluating him for several long moments- it seems this elemental does nothing quickly- "You do not bring the small one." the spirit seems vaguely disappointed

Darius smiles and shakes his head, "Daria is busy today, I'm afraid. But she promises to come and see you soon. And you know how she feels about being called the small one." he says, and places one hand on Pema's shoulder, seeing as she looks like her legs might turn to jelly at any moment, though he continues looking at the free spirit. "This is Pema, and this is Walker. I have spoke of you, and wanted them to meet you. I would like them to become your friends, too." Darius offers.

Goliath seems to think about Darius's words for a long time. The Elemental leans back, slowly, before finally sitting down with a loud thump which sends birds flying away from the nearby trees, and a fresh cascade of pebbles from the cliff face to clatter against his head and shoulders- completely unheeded. "Friends of Darius are welcome." he finally rumbles.

That hand on Pema's shoulder does seem to help. She look up, clutching the salt crystal to her with both arms. "Great spirit, Pema Lhadron is my name. I am honoured," almost wanting to bow again but sticks to just sort of a deep nod. Nobody else is bowing, after all. In fact, she looks rather surprised that they are discussing so calmly with the hulking thing. She looks with anxiety at the mass of pebbles coming down the cliff, but draws a deep breath and tries to sort of meditate herself calm on the spot. She even closes her eyes and whispers some sort of mantra to herself in a voice so low she's basically just wording the syllables on her lips.

Alighting on the ground again shortly after the spirit thuds down, Walker reaches into his satchel and produces a stone. It's not especially large, no bigger than the shaman's fist, but it's almost perfectly smooth. Embedded in the dark grey rock are dozens of little bits of milky crystal, and hundreds more tiny particles that seem to catch the light.

"Darius said you like crystals," the shaman comments with a nod in the mage's direction as he holds out the stone. "A mountain spirit from the Flatirons helped me find this at the bottom of a river. I thought you might like it." If he's bothered about talking to something the size of a building, the shaman certainly doesn't show it, if anything his manner is more of a kid showing something interesting to an adult.

Darius nods a bit, pleased that Goliath doesn't seem too sullen at the absence of his favourite human, "Good. We brought you gifts, Goliath." Darius says then, and he lifts his own offering- the quartz crystal. He releases the hand on Pema's shoulder, to bring it over to the earth elemental sitting at the entrance of his cave.

Goliath reaches out, taking the delicate crystal- a reasonably sized one, but it seems tiny in comparison to him- between stony fingers and lifts it up to hold in front of one of his stony eyes. After some time, it nods in approval. It places the crystal against a stretch of it's stony form, and the minerals fuse together, the crystal slowly sinking beneath the surface. Next up is Walker's crystal. Likewise he picks it up and brings it up to inspect it, the stony giant rumbles slightly as he turns the stone this way and that in front of his eye, and then he does the same- different spot- with this crystal. Finally, he turns his gaze towards Pema. He doesn't say anything, but simply stares at her expectantly.

Finally, Pema holds out her large pink egg-shaped clump of salt. Easily the biggest of the gift, though on the other hand it's not a fancy precious crystal. "This is salt from the Himalaya mountains, my ancestral homeland." She extends both her hands out as she offers it, looking down. She sometimes has a hard time looking ordinary people in the eye, and a giant spirit made from rock doesn't make it any easier. "I hope you'll like it," she says timidly.

Moving back after the huge spirit takes the sample (morsel?), Walker stands at Pema's shoulder as she presents her gift, keeping an eye on the young woman and the spirit. Old habits die hard, it seems.

The spirit leans forwards, reaching out a huge hand to take the chunk of rock salt that's offered. He brings it up and inspects it closely, once more, and then rumbles again. "This stone has travelled far. You too, I think. The stone of this land greets you." he rumbles- he sounds like he's pleased, but it's hard to tell. Also hard to tell whether he's greeting Pema or the rock, maybe both. Like the others, he incorporates the new stone into his form like the others. He leans back against the edge of the cliff.

Now that the pleasantries are done with, Darius heads over to one of the boulders, and leans against it. "Well, then, this is Goliath." he says, to Pema and Walker. "This little clearing and the mine is his domain." he adds.

Goliath speaks up again, "Be at ease. Friends of Darius need not fear within my domain." the elemental rumbles at the two of them. He gestures, slowly, towards other boulders strewn about- like the one Darius rests against. "Rest." he rumbles.

Pleased that the gift is accepted, the Asian girl with the weak knees seems to calm down somewhat. She smiles, rubbing her slender hands together trying to warm them up. Despite the offer of a boulder, he doesn't sit down, but rather gathers courage. "Goliath, great spirit…" she says timidly, "I seek a request. I am searching for a place to meditate for some time, for my personal development. I humbly ask if I may come here, for the environment is sublime, far away from the city… and I feel I can perform my meditations in peace here, not disturbing anyone, and safe from danger." she bows again to the spirit, almost to the point her back is perpendicular to her legs.

Relaxing a little now the 'formal' part of the visit seems to have concluded, Walker smiles and makes his way over to a nearby boulder. He quickly scampers up it and sits on top, one leg hooked under him while the other dangles off the rock. The elf leans back on his hands to observe the interaction between Pema and Goliath.

Darius seems like he's about to speak on one of their behalfs, but catches himself and simply settles back, folding his arms, to watch as well.

The Elemental says nothing, just staring at Pema for several long moments- although perhaps that is becoming expected by now, since he seems to do everything slowly. "The mountain is hard and cold." it eventually says, looking at Pema, "But if that does not dissuade you, then it welcomes you." it concludes.

"The harder and colder the better," the young woman replies, perhaps hinting at what she is actually planning to do out here. "Thank you kindly, great spirit, I will be a respectful guest while in your domain." she bows again. She casts her gaze over at the two other mages, then slowly makes her way to another boulder, taking a seat on top of it in a half-lotus position.

Raising an eyebrow at that slightly ominous response, Walker shrugs idly and decides it's none of his concern. If the spirit said she'd be safe here, that seems pretty solid. Not a lot of things would mess with something that big, especially made of solid rock. Leaning forward and looking at the large elemental the shaman asks, "How long have you been here Goliath?"

Goliath nods its large craggy head once as Pema takes her place on the stone. It turns its gaze towards Walker at the question, "The stones of my body have been here since before man walked the earth." he rumbles. "They gained the light of knowing ten years ago." he answers, somewhat cryptically.

Darius raises his eyebrow too, at Pema as she casts that long gaze his and Walker's way and asks, "You mean to begin right away?" he wonders of the Asian teenager. A pause as he considers for a moment, and says "Would you prefer to be alone?" recalling that she mentioned the journey she wished to undertake was a personal one.

Idly grabbing hold of her leg as she sits, Pema shakes her head, "No… not now. I still have to things to do back in Denver. Especially completing the enchanting process. It will take some time still. And I need to bring some equipment with me." she smiles weakly. "I don't think it would be fair of me to set about doing something like that without telling you first. I was thinking I'll come back when all preparations are done. If you want to walk with me here then, you're very welcome too, of course, but once here I'll need some time alone."

The spirits slightly odd response makes Walker blink. "Do you remember things from before the stones gained the light of knowing?" he asks curiously before glancing to the others. "If you need any pointers on how to get by out here, just ask, yes?" he offers Pema, "I'm sure you won't have to worry about bears or anything, but sometimes it's the little things like how to keep the rain off or dry socks that trip people up. I'm not much help with gear, but experience I have plenty of." He briefly reflects on that, "Unless that's part of your ritual of course."

Goliath rumbles at Walker's question, it's hard to tell, but it might be something akin to a belly laugh. "The stones remember, if you know their language." he says then. He reaches for the cliff face, and runs his rocky fingers along it gently- there's a seam visible in the stone where he brushes away the outer layer of weather worn stone, as though it was merely dust, a slightly different colour between the layers of granite. "From when the earth was young, the stone remembers all things." a pause, and he looks off to the distance- in the general direction of Denver. "But the stone forgets, when humans crush it and twist it and burn it to make their buildings." the elemental says, before falling quiet again.

Darius looks up and listens to Goliath, nodding solemnly, but saying nothing. After all, he too is guilty of living in such a building. Instead he turns his attention back to Pema, "I see…" he still sounds vaguely concerned, about the girl his daughter's age spending time up here alone- even after he suggested the place. But he sighs, "I understand." he finally offers, in response to her last comment.

Pema does listen to the spirit's words, looking up at the clear layers of geological formation that truly tells the age of these mountains. Nonetheless, she' clearly preoccupied in her mind with the project that she has now openly declared she is about to commence. "The trek up here was rigorous but not too bad, and once in the cave I guess rain isn't an issue. I'll bring extra socks," she says, chuckling a little. She turns to Darius, "You wouldn't want to sit here and watch me chant sutras and meditate hours on end anyway, would you?" she smiles, but she looks troubled.

Walker nods along absently with the elementals words, his gaze sliding in the same direction with a slightly sad expression. "I believe I understand," he responds eventually, feeling that there probably isn't a lot more you can say to that. Pema's optimism brings him a little smile, but her expression gives him pause. "Does the ritual itself trouble you?" he asks quietly, "I know these things can carry a lot of weight…"

Darius chuckles a bit at Pema's comment, "I think you underestimate my scholarly interest in your traditions- but, I do understand." he offers her a small smile. He doesn't pipe up in response to her troubled expression, glancing across at Walker instead, since he's asking the question.

For his part, Goliath falls quiet and lets the mages talk amongst themselves, content to just sit and be, it seems.

"Well…" Pema hesitates, "It is an old Tibetan ritual, very different from anything Wuxing has taught me. I've only had it described from books, but I feel it is one way to…" she hesitates, "Find myself on a deeper level? I guess? It's a difficult ritual to perform, and intense. I do not expect to come out of that cave the same person." she speaks with a calm voice, despite how ominous her description sounds. "You could come and check if you want… I don't know, stay down in Twin Forks for some time? I don't know how much time I'll need… hopefully not too long. A week, perhaps, maybe two?" she shrugs, looking up at Goliath for a moment. "If I may… I suppose for the mountain, a week is basically nothing anyway."

"Meditations are often quite intense," Walker offers in sympathy, "I believe I understand what you're looking for." With a quick glance at Darius he suggests. "One of us could pop by astrally regularly if that would not disturb either of you?" the elf glances between the young woman and the spirit before looking to Darius. "This isn't so different from a vision quest, and we let new high schoolers do that if they're ready," he points out, as though trying to reassure the other man, "I imagine she'd be safe with Goliath here, and so long as she has enough food and some shelter I wouldn't worry."

Darius nods his head, "I know, I know." he sighs in regards to letting highschoolers go on vision quests. "I think it would be better if we stay in the town- neither of us belong to her tradition, and our astral presence might muddy the waters somewhat." he says to Walker. "Goliath is as much part of this place as the soil, these days. Will you tell us, if she seems as though she needs help?" he asks the giant. A glance at Pema, and he ponders, "But only if it's an emergency, yes? I don't want to spoil your efforts by overreacting."

Goliath looks at Darius for a long moment, "Come down the mountain?" he asks, and casts his gaze to the distant lights. He seems hesitant. Eventually, though, the giant nods his head slowly in agreement.

Pema does not really involve herself in their talk, instead sitting quiet for some time, with obvious trepidations about this whole ordeal. Eventually, she says, "If you like to stay in town, I'd be grateful. I could even pay for your your lodgings if you want. I just don't want to take up too much of your precious time. About the astral presence… honestly, I don't even know. This is not something I've ever tried, and the books describing it are… well, the newest one is about 200 years old. No mention of astral space there."

Resting his chin on his hand, Walker considers this. "You make a good point," he remarks in response to Darius' concern over astral interference, with a nod in Pema's direction, "We don't want to make it harder for you." Glancing upwards, to where an indistinct winged shape still circles, he adds, "I could have a sky spirit keep an eye on you. It could do so from a distance and might save you a trip down the mountain." That last is directed to Goliath with a smile. "I'd be quite happy to wander the lower areas of the park for a bit honestly, Twin Forks doesn't really appeal and I can get along just fine out here," he glances around, "What works best for all of you?"

Darius nods his head a bit, gratefully, at Goliath. To Pema, he says, "You don't need to do that, it'll be nice to take a little break to be honest. I've been burning the candle at both ends for the past few months." he says. He nods his head to walker, "That might be an idea, too. I'll stay in the town, that way we'll both be nearby. If push comes to shove, I can get up here quite quickly from Twin Forks." he says then. He grins over at Pema, "I'm afraid that's the territory we all find ourselves in, these days. Some of the old ways are best, some… well, they did the best figuring it out with what was available at the time." he says.

Pema nods, looking a little relieved. "Thank you, all three of you," she nods to the two mages, as well as to Goliath. "I appreciate you're willing to do this… I know Twin Forks is a bit touristy, but it's nicer to be here for a few days as compared to Denver, no?" she ponders, "It might take longer than a couple days… a fortnight at most, I guess. Maybe less. Again, I really don't know. I am experimenting here. I don't even know if this ritual has been practised since the Communists invaded Tibet about 140 years ago."

"Like my learned colleague said," Walker quips with a grin at Darius, "All of us are feeling this out as we go. It's part of what keeps it interesting." He gives Pema a reassuring smile, "Don't worry about doing it fast, just do your best. I'm sure you'll be fine. Just let us know when you're planning to start."

Goliath dips his massive head at Pema's thanks, but doesn't seem to have anything to add. Darius nods his head once more, "Exactly. Take as long as you need to." he offers Pema. "I'm sure that the experience will be enlightening for you, regardless- you're going on a personal journey, and though the books might offer guidance on how to go about it, walking the path is often enough." he adds then. He shifts his position a bit, and glances up at the sky- the sun has long set, by now, and the moon is beginning to peek above the tree line. "Shall we think about heading back down?" he wonders, "It sounds like we all have preparations to make."

"You are both absolutely right. I mean," she shrugs, "I assume you've been where I am now at one point too. Maybe slightly differently, but in the end we're the same." she looks up at the sky as well, then undoes her lotus position and gets off the boulder. "It's about time, yes. This path might not be all that fun to walk in the dark…"

"Sure," Walker agrees, "Time is ticking on." He hops down from his perch to land lightly on the ground before once more placing his hand over his heart and offering the same incline of the head towards Goliath. "It was wonderful to meet you at last, hopefully our paths will cross again soon," he says before turning to the other two with an expression of mild concern, "How is the light for you two?"

Darius ahs, "I have these." he says and goes back to his pack. He pulls out a small little slender black box, inside of which are similarly small sealed packages. He hands one such package over to Pema, and then opens one himself. Contained within are pairs of contacts. He places them in his eyes carefully, blinking a couple of times to make sure they are centred "Night vision." he informs the other two.

Pema straightens out her clothes as she gets up, looking a little surprised as she's offered a black box. She opens them up, watching how Darius puts them on. "Wow," is all she manages to say. Thus, she puts them on. Fortunately, she's a bookworm with glasses so she's not unaccustomed to using contacts. "Amazing," she says as she looks around, how the landscape has almost changed in the new vision. She turns to Goliath, giving him one final bow before slowly heading towards the path, and the descent down the mountain.

Nodding to the others but taking the lead in the low light, Walker whistles as he leaves the clearing and his bestest friend in the whole world bounds out of the undergrowth, clearly very happy and very relieved that his new friends are OK. As the elf trots down the steep path like a mountain goat, the little spirit runs around the other two, occasionally nudging a foot away from a loose patch of stones or a hidden root.

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