Kulrik enjoyed the serenity of their surroundings, the birdsong and and natural beauty of the land harkening him back to charm of his native Oki. It wasn't quite the same, lacking a certain wildness to it, but as Kulrik closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, he delighted the opportunity Zuto-Nui had given him.
As he and Kilanya continued their ascent up the mountain, conversing about a range of topics, Kulrik decided he rather enjoyed the Toroshu's presence. She spoke to him much like an equal rather than a subject, as most Toroshu were oft to do. First Sons may have a cherished position in Kentoku society, but they still ranked lower than Toroshu on the social ladder, a fact which many of the insecure or pompous clan leader's delighted in reminding his gender. Kilanya, it seemed, was both secure in her position and level-headed enough to have pleasant conversation with the most handsome man in the Empire.
They stopped at the top of a hill, the soaring presence of Mt. Oshi not far in the distance.
"Quite a vista, isn't it?"
Kulrik looked downwards to the plains, and agreed. Such a sprawling view of the land was a rarity in all of Kentoku.
"Yes, it's quite magnificent. As are are you, Toroshu Kilanya."
Kulrik immeadietly regretted the words he'd uttered. The long walk and pleasant company had lulled him into a sense of security, and as a result he'd reverted back to his usual, womanizing self. He hadn't been lying - Kilanya was certainly beautiful, even if she wasn't a Vilda - but Kulrik had no desire to entangle himself with the higher echelons of society. It was far too dangerous, and Kulrik was rather fond of his freedom as a First Son. He didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize that freedom.
He hoped the Ageru Toroshu thought it a simple complement, and nothing else.
Then, the earth began to shake.
Nearby birds squawked and took flight while landlocked animals roared, groaned and screamed. Small boulders were dislodged from the mountain, tumbling down the hill only to smash into trees in the valley below. Kulrik and Kilanya flailed their arms, trying to steady themselves as the land moved and acted on its own accord.
Then it stopped.
"Did you feel that, or was it just me?" Kulrik asked quietly, as if too loud a sound might trigger another earthquake.
Suddenly a great furrow appeared, earth collapsing and falling in on itself. It advanced in a straight line, cutting across the hill and swallowing everything in it's path and leaving a deep trench in it's wake. Kulrik saw it heading straight for Toroshu Kilanya.
The Vilda First Son jumped forward, hoping to push the Toroshu out of the way, but he was too slow. The earth buckled beneath Kilanya and gave way. The Toroshu fell into the earth's maw, and Kulrik followed in after her.
The dust settled.
They were underground, in some sort of tunnel. One side was collapsed, a wall of earth and rock blocking the way, but the other extended deeper into the ground, and from it emanated the faintest glow of blue. Every dozen feet or so a small, clear crystal adorned the passage walls', otherwise undetectable except for the peculiar way it caught the ephemeral glare, reflecting a point of light.
Kilanya lay on the floor, Kulrik knelt over her and arms upraised, having tried to protect the Toroshu from falling debris. He had, as evidenced by the dozen rocks of various sizes on the floor beside him and the bruises across his back. After everything had stopped moving, he held out a hand.
"Are you ok?" Kulrik asked Toroshu Kilanya.