The wind whistled in her ears and her heart hammered in her chest--but nothing compared to the horror in her eyes when the rushing waterfall reached her ears.
And then she saw it.
The biggest body of running water any Rubatoian really knew was a stream from a bathtub faucet--swimming was not a widespread skill. It wasn't even the staggering, sheer height of it that struck her, sending a primal feeling of fear quivering up, dark and cold, from her gut--but the power of the water, the churning, gushing, never-ending current that would shove you down and slam your head on the rocks and choke your lungs with dense, chilling water, never to let you rise back up to the surface until the life was extinguished out of you.
Despite all the Dome's efforts, water like this was still a big fear of Cadenza's. The gypsies had venerated and feared it as the power of the moon and earth together, both life-giving and life-taking. And so when the unicorn plunged them both off that cliff, into a total free-fall, she shrieked and screamed until her voice was lost in the slipstream of the wind.
"Pleeeease! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorrryyyy! Gods save me...!"
Maybe the worst part of all was that Johnny's old amulet, kept under her blouse, against her chest, feeding her vitality and energy, would not let her faint. Her eyes rolled back and her lids clenched tight over them, and blood drained, lost for direction in the momentary weightlessness of the leap, before gravity hauled at it and her and the unicorn and they went hurtling down.
Cadenza was barely conscious when they touched down upon the riverbank with the lightest touch of graceful hooves upon earth. Ilyena was gently setting her on the ground and nosing at her when the mist in her head cleared and she finally came back to full awareness again.
"You're better at tag than rodeo."
The gypsy could only make some kind of wearied, miserable noise that passed for a reply, and rolled over, aching, ears-pounding, heart still catching up to the state of rest she now found herself in. The grass underneath her was damp, and the soil and air almost smelt familiar. But they were still in the fae wood... weren't they? Then... why did it smell so much like...
Blancwood...? The... river by Blancwood...? I'm home...? On my earth... just a few towns over from our house...
Her dizzied brain was too exhausted to fight how impossible that sounded, instead only marveling in muted, numbed wonderment. Home. Ilyena might have just put her through hell and back, but it seemed somewhere along the line, the unicorn really had decided to help her. Kate was going to have her dream birthday. She'd succeeded in making her little girl's first birthday with her new family truly special...
Warmth came to ease the pain and weariness in her body and mind at that realization. She'd done it. She'd found her daughter a damned unicorn. Delirious with exhaustion and disbelief, Cadenza began to laugh, first quiet chuckles, then bigger, shaking, warm belly laughs at her accomplishment. She'd gone into a fae wood and come out alive! That was enough reason to be happy on its own, but to have matched a unicorn in a hunt, too! She felt lucky that Ilyena had allowed it to even be possible.
"....Th... thank you..." she murmured, wiping joyful tears from her eyes. She rolled onto her back and smiled up at the sky, still chuckling, and planning for a good, long, well-deserved nap when she got home.
OoC: I chose Blancwood instead of Cadenza's hometown of Santa Mariela because it's the only place in the country with grass and some proper bodies of water to make the seamless transition. There actually is a waterfall by the city as well, on a cliff where hibiscus flowers bloom, and there would be a similar riverbank/lakebed at the bottom. ^^ Cadenza loves that place, but only for the memories, and the view from afar, safely away from the cliff edge. xD