IC: Lacertus - The Wastes
Deep breaths. In—
The freezing air tore into his lungs, spreading through what felt like his whole body as flesh screamed and metal screeched in sickening unison for a moment that seemed to stretch on for far longer than should ever be possible. Gasping, both for breath and from the shock, he reeled forward, into the waiting snow. After a few moments, the pain subsided, replaced by the familiar and numbing sensation of cold creeping through his limbs and biting at his flesh.
Grunting, he slowly shambled back to his feet and pulled his cloak tighter. He should have listened to the Matoran, he should have waited for warmer weather, he should have prepared for the cold better, he should ha—
No. He had put this off long enough. Besides, he couldn't risk forgetting any more of the landmarks.
He glanced up at the cliff face, squinting through the snow and shivering in place. After a few moments, he found it: a vaguely X-shaped carving in the rock, though at this point it had partially been covered up by a layer of ice. Still, if that was it, he had to be close.
And if it wasn't, well... At least he had given in to the Matoran's insistence that he leave flags as he went. It didn't guarantee he'd make it back, but it was at least a far sight better than hoping he could somehow wander back on his own. And for as cold as it already was right now, he really did not want to be around to experience the Wastes at night.
He stepped forward, trudging through the snow one step at a time until finally, after what felt like and probably even was hours, he found himself standing in the shadow of the cliff. Pushing aside the thoughts of it being a bit taller than he remembered, he began to run his hand along its surface, searching, searching, searching for anything that would feel familiar. Something that would have given him reason to hope for a cave as a storm bore down upon him, something that would hearken his life's salvation and destruction.
Something he could never forget nor forgive for as long as he was still ali—
It was a narrow crack within the rock, almost invisible save for the glimmer of ice just within its mouth. He slipped inside, ears ringing at the sudden silence that overtook him the moment he was free from the wind's incessant grasp.
It was barely even worth calling a cave, though the looming importance of it in his mind meant he struggled to downgrade it to the perhaps more accurate "large hole in a wall." Nevertheless, it was exactly as he remembered it—seemingly untouched by anyone since his last visit, though he didn't care to recall how long it had been since he first found this place. Too long, and too many mistakes ago. And here he was once again, to make one last mistake. One last bit of spite, and then he would be good to go.
He pulled out a dagger and got to work, slowly chipping away at the letters carved onto the rock's surface. Little by little, his supposed purpose for existing was broken, cast into the snow to be forgotten by all and known by none. Painstakingly, he began carving his own message onto the rock. A meaningless tribute to his own existence, in the place where it ended and began anew. If someone else had truly been meant to find this cave and understand these carvings, well...that was not his problem. That was their destiny to figure out. He'd already sorted out his, apparently.
But there was nothing to say that a destiny, once fulfilled, could not be scratched out and overwritten.
He blinked, aware for the first time in hours of the screaming pain his body was in. He blinked again when he noticed the sunlight shining through the cave's tiny entrance. He stood up, staring at the message he had spent the night carving into the wall. There was certainly more he could have said, but somehow he felt it was enough. Besides, he needed to head back and deal with his limbs—the cold had unsurprisingly not agreed with them in the slightest, and knowing his luck he was likely already on the verge of getting frostbite in more than a few areas. As he stood at the mouth of the cave, he took one last glance back at the wall, nodding to himself after a moment's hesitation before exiting and beginning the trip back to civilization.
Lacertus was here.