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aloy!eridani in horizon zero dawn
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It's dark; strangely so, after the roaring light of the explosion. Darker than the world tends to be - darker than everything but a moonless night, because a flickering orange glow pierces the darkness at odd intervals. Aloy still can't see much, because her eyes won't open - and when they do, she glimpses only shadowy, blurry figures - 

She can hear them more often than she can see them, though.

She is dying! 

(Her throat burns, sharp and throbbing. Her entire body burns, pain racing up and down her spine and throughout everything until she can't tell what hurts, can't tell what's real.)

To take her there is blasphemy! 

(She's being moved, jostled. It isn't pleasant.)

She should be near her mother! 

(She's falling, down down down tumbling beneath the earth, into ruin wonder fear, and there's something behind her in the water, something so much larger than her but she can't see it, only hear it.)

Aloy - I'm so sorry -

(And then the explosion - it echoes strangely. No less real than anything else she's hearing; no less nightmarish than anything else she's feeling.)

Turn your face to the sun, child. 

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But it hurts. Hurts to breathe. Hurts to open her eyes. Hurts to turn her head.

Hurts to lift up her arm to activate her Focus.

 

Hurts to panic when she can't find it clipped above her ear.

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It's quieter when she wakes - she's still. There's no voices. No odd flashes. Nothing behind her except cold stone and a thin bed - almost a bier. The only light is from numerous warmly glowing candles, the only color beyond orange or brown from decorations woven from blue and yellow rope. There's no signs that anyone besides her is down here right now.

One good thing: there's no signs of any enemies, either. 

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Yeah, but where's all her stuff? She's gotta find that first.

Ow. Moving still hurts. But it'll get better if she walks it off, always does. Okay threetwooneherewego-

She stands up.

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It's a bit better when her spine is more-or-less straight, at least, which means standing is (for now) better than sitting. 

There's two paths leading out from where she woke up; one has a brighter glow of candlelight than the other.

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Yeah, see, better already. Can't keep Aloy down.

She heads towards the light, on the assumption that light means people and people will have wanted to go through her stuff. Or she can ask the people about her stuff if she doesn't find it along the way.

Grrrr finding her Focus would be so much easier if she already had it

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The next room over's empty of people - but her Focus and the pieces of her armor they must've removed to treat her are on a table. The armor looks like someone made an attempt to clean it, though it's still far more scuffed than the last time she put it on.

There's no sign of her bow, though, nor of the other Focus she looted off one of the killers.

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Wow okay she feels a lot better already. She clips the Focus on and taps it to life while she puts the rest of her armor on again, scanning the area.

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... Under all the candles and decorations, it looks a lot like the ruin she fell into as a child, actually.

It also looks a lot like a Nora sacred space. 

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...Where did they bring her? She never saw a building like this.

Unless...

Is she inside the mountain?

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There's no big glaring signs, but also not a lot of other places it could be. 

(And she's able to get a hint of a signal as she's scanning - seems to be from that other Focus.)

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Well. Let's go exploring a bit. See what she finds.

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She finds...

Her weapons, other gear, and the enemy's Focus on a table in what feels like the very back of the tunnels she can access - though there's a currently-locked door on the wall leading further inside. 

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Cool, cool, cool, hey it's her medicine pouch, yum yum tasty leaves make her feel better. Hm. She'll have to restock after this. Oh well, problems for Future Aloy.

Problems for Current Aloy include: the locked door, the second Focus, finding people. All right, priorities. Probably people? Focus isn't going anywhere right now, neither is the door. Well, if this is the mountain chances she'll be able to come back to the door are, uh, low. But on the other hand, it's not like she has any strong reasons to consider the door exceptionally interesting. So scratch the door. Focus in pocket then she can head the other way and look for people.

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She comes fairly quickly upon a people! Specifically, High Matriarch Teersa, who's coming from the direction Aloy was when she woke up.  "Aloy!" she calls. "You are awake?!"

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"Uh. Yeah."

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She steps up to Aloy, gesturing for her to come closer. "Quickly, you must follow," she says, before turning - back towards the hallway Aloy just came out of, actually.

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Sure, whatever. Makes as much sense as anything else the Nora matriarchs do.

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They come fairly quickly to the room Aloy found the rest of her gear in. Teersa stops next to the door, almost hesitates - then touches the red circle beside it. 

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The door opens with a faint sound - it's in better condition than the bunker doors in the ruin from Aloy's childhood. They reveal a room bursting with candles, easily the brightest in the mountain - especially because of the thin shaft of light falling from the ceiling, where the enormous claw of a long-dead Metal Devil thrusts into the chamber. There's another large door on the opposite side of the room, of a design she hasn't seen before - circular, with a pyramidal design carved on the front. 

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"What is this place?"

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"This is the Great Chamber, where All-Mother slew the Metal Devil - and where we found you. Where you were born."

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"I was... born here? What do you mean, found me?"

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"We heard your cries, and when we came to look - you were lying right there." She gestures at the raised dais in front of the door. "Newly born. Your mother, Aloy, is the mountain Herself."

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"That's not possible."

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"All is made possible by the All-Mother's grace. And it is what happened - Lansra believes your father was the Metal Devil, but that is clearly ridiculous. You were created by All-Mother, and you emerged from the Womb of the Mountain - exactly as our ancestors once did, after the creation of the world."

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