Neither of the two budged in response to Sable's growl in the dark. Aeolus's skin was cool to the touch, cooler than normal, and his eyes were unfocused, seemingly unseeing. He did not answer Sable's call. He seemed frozen in a trance, staring out into nothing.
The man in front was the same way. His once-red face was blank and completely devoid of his previous anger, eyes vacant, shoulders slack. The light around them flickered even when the lanterns did not. Shadows shifted and crept back and forth as if they had life of their own, sluggish and deliberating. Footsteps echoed from down the black corridor. They were slow and muffled, almost distorted, one...drag...ging...af...ter...a...no...ther...
And then the footsteps were gone, but it wasn't just the footsteps that were distorted. Even the party now sounded strange and alien in that space. It wasn't just muffled—it was as if something took the sound waves, played with them, and then released them in their warped state to the open air. Sable would be the only one who could notice this. The other two...seemed unconscious. Standing, but unconscious.
A cat trotted right past Elric and Asuka, giving them a cursory glance before it moved on.
"Meow. Mrroww. Mreow."
And standing just past that cat was a figure
in all-white, a colorless star against a sea of black, leaning against the wall with a pocketwatch in his hand. He was fingering the chain that hung from his pocketwatch, and then he raised his silver eyes to regard the two, a monocle shining from his right eye. He adjusted his monocle and leaned in to get a better look at them.
called another cat, sitting on a table.
"Leaving so soon?"
called the white man. His voice was smooth and controlled, a silky tone to mask obscure intentions. "You've hardly been here...five minutes."
The man glanced at his pocket watch. "Five minutes standard Zi time, that is. You can never tell in here."
The blue-eyed Bloodler watched a cat tiptoe by, sinking in the snow with every step it took, tail high and whiskers frosted over. He shifted his gaze to the dancing zoids and the unmoving zoids, and he thought of interrogating one of them for answers that were a little saner.
They're all idiots, anyway.
The Bloodler could swear he detected a hint of a growl in the Liger's transmission, but that did not concern him. He glanced to Aeon with some unease, and then dismissed the unease tugging at the back of his mind. Idioten or no, they might still be able to provide me some answers. My curiosity knows few bounds with my lifestyle.
Fine, badger them if you'd— ...Did you just say idioten?
"Mrow. Mreoww. Mroww."
The Liger Zero hauled himself to his feet and angled his head toward the sky, seeming to test the air. The Bloodler stiffened and watched. Is someone else here?
Aeon glanced up toward the mountains above, his bright eyes probing the wintry darkness. He spread his jaws and growled at the sky.
The Bloodler got to his feet. Shall I probe for visitors?