The final challenge in their journey would prove to be the most difficult, and when the group of vayrons finally reached the peak of the mountain they had been climbing the anxiety of facing the final trial permeated the air.
They stopped at the top the night before, resting and planning for the final day ahead. It had been a companionable evening as they swapped stories of their lives in Roenden, and the strange or impossible things they’d experienced or seen. Even Akuma had opened up a bit, divulging embarrassing stories of Yasha that she’d been sworn to secrecy on. A few pawfuls of snow later, and they were all in hysterical giggling fits, especially Yasha and Wool.
As sleep took them one by one, they lamented on the end to their journey the following day, and how the view from this peak was unlike anything they’d seen before. Even the anxiety of the next day couldn’t stop Yasha’s snores, and it wasn’t long until they were all following suit after such an eventful hunt that day.
When the sun rose over the peaks of nearby mountains and woke the group, the reality of their last challenge struck nerves into Akuma and Yasha. Loyalty was something they’d only ever experienced towards each other, and to trust another with what was potentially their lives unnerved even Yasha. Akuma would never have taken part in this trial had Yasha not assured her it was important, but her nervous stance and furtive glances around the group made her unease clear.
It took only a few sparse moments to tie the blindfold over the eyes of both the puller females, and Wool and Yang assured them they were in good hands. Yasha laughed nervously, while Akuma simply snorted.
They approached the start of the trial, a sheer drop down to the ledge below. The wind whipped around them, freezing and sharp so high off the ground. The Vayrons experienced a collective shiver as Wool and Yang dropped to the ledge below. It was an easy drop, but with the wind howling around them, and the lack of sight to guide them, it seemed like a death trap to the two blindfolded Vayrons.
“Take it slow, find the edge with your paw and let yourself fall. It is a medium length drop, so brace yourself for when you land,” Yang instructed, looking up at the two still hovering over the drop.
“There is plenty of space to land, you won’t trip and fall off if that’s what you’re worried about!” Wool called out, earning a kick from Yang as the words caused a shiver to run down the contestant’s spines, not at all from the cold.
Yasha dropped first, heavy body landing with a thud and a quiet yelp as her paws found purchase in the soft snow. It took only a second for her to regain her composure, and she smiled in the general direction of Yang and Wool. Above them, Akuma hissed out a growl as she braced herself against the ledge, front paws hanging slightly over as her body stood rigid. It didn’t look like she was prepared to move at all, and a twang of pity echoed through Yang and Wool.
“You can do it, have confidence in us and yourself!” Wool called, breath fogging the air in front of him as he watched his companion look towards the sound of his voice. With what appeared to be a heavily garnered action, Akuma let out a suffering sigh and dropped from the ledge with more grace than would have been expected.
When she landed Yasha let out a bark of happiness, brushing up against her awkwardly due to their both being blindfolded, and her rump being right in Akuma’s face.
“Whoops! Sorry,” she chuckled, the nerves finally starting to fade after the first obstacle. Akuma huffed, pushing Yasha slightly as a very small smile crept onto her face.
“What’s next?” She asked, ignoring the tail whacking her face as Yasha tried to re-orient herself.
“It looks like there is a jump down the path a bit, though we’ll be descending the mountain a ways before that,” Yang offered, looking down the path they were to follow towards the bottom of the mountain. If she squinted, in the very distance she could make out the human settlement that marked the end of their journey.
“Let’s get going, then!” Yasha said with excitement, already eager to encounter the next obstacle. Wool giggled along with her, moving to lead the way to the jump. Yasha followed after him, using his footsteps and voice to guide her down the path. There was a slight nervousness to her gait, but Yang figured it could be either excitement or anxiety, and she wasn’t sure how to tell the difference with that one.
Yang followed after them, Akuma behind her, marveling in the sight as they descended the mountain. It was a shame that the others had to be blindfolded, because it was truly unlike anything she’d seen before. It wasn’t a common thing to climb to the peak of a mountain, so this was a special occasion indeed.
When they reached the jump, Yang and Wool quickly made their way over the obstacle, leaving Akuma and Yasha behind. It was a simple matter to get them to leap over the fallen-but stacked-logs, though Yasha clipped her back paw on the top and had to be talked down from quitting the trial right then and there. When they finally convinced her that she wasn’t going to plummet to her death because she brushed the top of the jump, they continued on down the mountain.
The next obstacle was a climb. In order to continue on down the mountain they were forced to climb to a ledge, which lead to the rest of the trail. The surface of the rock was rather steep, but there were plenty of opportunities for footholds, and a fall from it certainly wouldn’t kill. Bruise one’s pride perhaps, but nothing life-threatening.
As per usual, Yang and Wool climbed first. They deftly scaled the obstacle, only slipping a few times and certainly not enough to make them fall, until they were at the top. From there, they could see it was an easy path to the base of the mountain, and a place to stash the blindfolds they had acquired at the top of the mountain. Wool briefly wondered who brought them up there, and how they got such an obscure job. He shook his head free of those thoughts when it came time to guide their companions up the climb, though.
“Go slow, and be sure you have a good handle on the next ledge before you put your full weight onto it,” Yang instructed, watching carefully and Akuma and Yasha began their ascent. They were unwilling to make any real progress in the beginning, however, until exasperation made them commit.
Akuma made progress quicker than Yasha, guided by Yang’s clear and concise voice as she reached ledge after ledge. Yasha followed behind, spurred on by Wool’s words of encouragement and determination, laughing when he cheered her on after each successful ledge cleared.
After what seemed like ages, but was probably only ten minutes, the pair reached the top of the ledge, all smiles as Yang and Wool removed their blindfolds.
“We did it!” Yasha shouted, voice echoing on the mountain. She brushed against Akuma unabashedly, giggling when Akuma scowled and pushed her away gently.
“Thank you for the guidance,” Akuma said, addressing both Yang and Wool.
“It was no problem!” Wool said, stump twitching excitedly as he looked between Yasha and Akuma.
“You did wonderfully,” Yang replied, nodding to them both.
“Well, shall we finish this journey, then?” Yasha asked, inkling her head to the continuing trial beyond them. Akuma nodded, depositing her blindfold in the basket that was apparently designated for them.
“Yes, lets,” Wool said happily, already bounding off down the trail, Yasha close behind. Yang laughed and followed after them, Akuma trotting along behind as they made their way down the mountain.
The group of Vayrons made idle chat as they descended the rest of the mountain, often talking about what they were going to do after they ended their journey. Yasha and Akuma would go back to the territory they knew in the north, having a den and home there. Yasha complained about having to leave their new friends, urging them to visit at least once, bragging about the crystalline pool near their den that you could see the stars in on clear nights.
As they approached the human settlement that marked the end of their journey, they prepared to say their goodbyes. Wool and Yasha, having bonded in their shared amount of sheer energy, were surprisingly subdued as they said goodbye. Akuma nodded her thanks to the pair for accompanying them on their journey and through their trials, while Yang congratulated them once more on a job well done.
As they went their separate ways, Akuma and Yasha to the north, the sense of accomplishment spurred them on, and even Akuma giggled here and there at Yasha’as antics.