So I've decided to switch up the order in which I'm writing my fics for now. I'm letting my latest chapter of "If only it were easy" build up some views, and my newest story, "The Exeter Project, kicked off with a great 150 hits in a day and a half, so I'll write a chapter for it later. What's left is this, the third chapter of ATE, which is much longer than it's two predecessors. Again, it took awhile to update the story with this one, so you'll have to forgive me for my lack of spare time. (And my laziness in my spare time!)

The endless cliff served as a constant reminder to Fyuria that things were not as they should be. No matter how far or how long she and Leo walked, it was always to their right, the freakish white sun of this world suspended in the void beyond it. Due to the lack of movement by that same sun, Fyuria had lost the exact count of days she and her lover had been walking. She could get an estimate based on the time she tired out and woke up, but she knew it wasn't an approximate number.

Her current estimate was about three days, maybe four. Which led to another mystery: in all of that time, neither she or Leo had needed food or water. Which was a good thing, considering that there were no resources to attain such things anyway. The waterfall that spewed from the endless cliff was too far away to get any water from,and it probably wasn't safe to drink anyway. But it was disturbing, not needing substance or nourishment. But as long as it didn't have a negative effect, she supposed it didn't matter.

Another few days passed, or at least what Fyuria had decided were long enough to be days, and finally, FINALLY, something had changed. Over the past few hours, she and Leo had lost their view of the endless rainbow plains, and had something new to look at. A forest, just like the copse that Leo and Fyuria had awoken in, but large enough so that they couldn't see the whole thing. Of course, she was only assuming that it was a forest. It looked just as weird as the rest of the landscape, and for all she knew, maybe it wasn't a forest at all.

Since she and Leo had grown bored of walking along the cliff's edge, they had decided to explore the forest fringe for a little while. The trees looked much like the ones they had awoken to, with twisted, gnarled roots and sickly green glowing foliage. Really, the whole area had an unnatural feel to it, as though the trees themselves were hostile.

The forest also had another strange effect, but neither of the two intruders was aware of it. The longer they were in the forest, the more their thoughts seemed to wander. They were losing focus on their surroundings, not noticing the subtle changes of the terrain as they spent their time in a trance-like state.

Fyuria snapped out of her dream-like stupor once she bumped into Leo's back. She was about to reprimand him, but was silenced when she noticed the forest around them. Many aspects of the forest had changed, without her even realizing it. The forest's trees were no longer what they had been, but were now large pine trees. and Fyuria could've sworn that she heard the cries of animals and beasts in the distance, something she hadn't heard the whole time she and Leo had been traveling around this strange world. And even weirder than that, it had started snowing!

Or perhaps not 'just started snowing.' By observing the trees, it looked like it had been snowing for quite a long time. The trees were coated with it, the ground was covered in it, and the whole forest looked like it had always been snowing, as if it had never known any other weather. Fyuria honestly had no clue what was going on, and a quick question to Leo confirmed that he didn't either.

She also noticed that she felt incredibly tired, as though she had just run a marathon or fought a large battle.

"Leo, do you feel...tired? Exhausted, even?"

Her lover rubbed his eyes before answering. "...Yes. I don't know why, but I just sleep..."

Fyuria spotted a nearby boulder the two of them could sit on. It wouldn't necessarily be comfortable, but it would suffice. Not to mention it was one of the only boulders she could see that wasn't covered in ice. She grabbed Leo's arm and walked him to the over-sized rock, where he sat down heavily with a bone-on-rock thud. If it had hurt, he didn't say so.

Fyuria, on the other hand, sat down gingerly, sighing and rubbing the tips of her long ears to warm them. "I am so confused right now. None of this makes any sense."

Leo merely grunted in response and flattened himself against the rock. He obviously wasn't in the mood to talk right now.

Fyuria glared at him, a little annoyed that he couldn't tell she really needed to talk right now. The past few days had been eerily quiet, with the two of them only exchanging brief words of little importance with each other.

But on the other hand, she was pretty worried about Leo. Was he really so bothered right now that he couldn't talk to her? He should know that he could always tell her anything, whatever it might be. She was his wife, after all.

The gray-haired Syrium decided it was not something she should dwell on. Leo would be fine eventually, and if it took longer than that, she would endure it indefinitely. Her thoughts trailed off in this direction, and she lost focus on her surroundings. The cries of the animals, the snow falling on her exposed body... and the footsteps approaching from behind her, which belonged to neither her nor her husband, who was fast asleep on the rock beside her.

"Oh my, what is such a ravishing beauty like yourself doing out here by yourself?"

Fyuria was startled by the sound of a male voice behind her, one she would have associated with a Casanova like Winfield, although she knew it wasn't that idiot. Whoever it was also thought that she was alone, which meant that the unseen speaker couldn't see Leo from his vantage point. If things turned bad, that could be an advantage, if she used it correctly.

She turned her head nonchalantly to the side, just enough to see who was talking to her. She was a bit surprised to see not one person, but two, and that the duo looked as odd together as she and Leo probably did. One was the man who had spoken to her, a blond-haired man in a blue suit with a stupid smile on his face. The other was a woman, with long, red, spiky hair and golden eyes. Scantily dressed too. Kind of like Fyuria, except this woman had more to show off, much to her own displeasure. Fyuria hated being reminded that she wasn't as mature as most women, whether it was on purpose or not.

The red-haired woman also had pointed ears, but it was obvious that she wasn't Syrium, which meant that she was some sort of elf. The two strangers were also armed with rapiers, and they looked like they knew how to use them.

After she was done examining them, Fyuria remained silent. She wasn't exactly sure what to say anyway.

So instead, the blond-haired man spoke again, with his same flirtatious tone, or at least what was supposed to be flirtatious. "Truly, a fragile nymph like yourself ought not to be alone out here in the cold. Why don't you come back to camp with us? In the meantime, I could keep you warm in my arms from this bitter cold, and-!"

The man's foolish monologue was cut off as the elf woman smacked him in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground. "Shut up already, Thoma. No self-respecting woman would fall for you. And besides, nymphs live in the sea, you idiot."

The man, whom Fyuria assumed was Thoma, stood back up and glanced ruefully at the elf. "Actually, nymph has two definitions, Lavinia; one is the kind you're talking about, and the other is a modest and small woman who is still attractive. Besides, I am very-!"

Now it was Fyuria's turn to hit him. Whether he had been trying to insult her or not, he had still pushed her buttons, and she was frustrated enough to punch someone anyway, even if he was a complete stranger. And by the look on the elf's face, she thought so too. Fyuria could already tell the two of them would get along just fine.

The trek through the frozen forest did not take long with Lavinia as their guide, and it was made all the easier because Thoma had been forced to carry a still sleeping Leondhart. Perhaps his fatigue was more than that. Fyuria would check on him once they reached this camp these two supposedly had. Of course, she herself was still exhausted, and would probably require some sleep very soon. She was also still confused about the exact nature of her situation. The hows and whys of the phenomenon that had landed her and Leo in this place were too complicated for her to fathom, at least for now.

Instead, she focused on how to resolve the problem, although honestly, she hadn't quite figured out what that was.

OK, so this chapter was still short, but the reason is because I am going to be without WiFi for awhile, and I would prefer to give you something before that, even if it is short. Sorry guys.