The Way Through the Woods 2
Of a summer evening late,
When shadow cools into midnight pools,
Where hunters stir with savage hate,
You will hear the beat of a hind's feet,
And the swish of an arrow in the dew,
Steady chanting through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the Gray Forest.
But there is no road through Riven woods...
A party led by Countess Mia Riven rescued one of the Gray Forest's rarest creatures, the cimmerian hind. Simple medicine won't treat the illness ravaging the almost legendary animal. It's corrupted. The source of the taint must lie in the wilderness occupied by Abandoned tribes, and you can guarantee they aren't going to like interlopers. This scene features combat (risk: moderate) from start to finish. Preference to Grayson fealty members and especially new players.
Oct. 12, 2018, 9:30 p.m.
Comments and Log
THE NEW MOON...
Last time, the Countess of Riven and a brave party rescued two cimmerian hinds. Cimmerian hinds are very rare animals -- rare to the point of legend. The baby was so weak it surely wouldn't have survived the winter. Mama is poorly. In the intervening days, attempts to restore the hinds to health hasn't been working. They eat and take water, but the fawn can barely stumble around on its legs.
THE CRESCENT MOON...
Whatever malaise afflicts the hinds isn't normal, whispers one of the Prodigals, isn't of mundane origins. That rumour gets traction as the normal remedies and even human medicines fail to improve the hinds' condition much over a few days. While the poor little animals suffer despite best efforts to rehabilitate them, the Prodigals are /adamant/ this is a sign of shav cursing. And the Countess with her companions did encounter proof of Abandoned in the Gray Forest.
Mia checked intellect + occult at difficulty 20, rolling 19 higher.
Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 10 higher.
Emily checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 29 higher.
Enoch checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 3 lower.
"They're right," Mia replies, as she approaches the party on the edge of the trails. "I've been over them both, extensively, and nothing in my bag of remedies has been of any help." One hand reaches up, brushing her hair back out of her eyes as she looks towards the trees, her expression wary. "It's almost as though they've been tainted -- but not entirely, not yet. I'm uncertain what exactly they did, and likely won't be able to tell unless we find... something, something of what they used."
THE HUNTER'S MOON...
The Gray Forest already advances well into autumn. Riven's holdings may be a fairly straight shot northeast of Arx, but the higher elevation and influence of cooler nights transforms the landscape into a ragged patchwork of flaming maples and gilded beeches like torches. Cedars impart their heavy scent on the air, and the recent rains leave the mired state of the muds hard for transport. Most people ride or go on foot when they cannot use the Daughter or Mother Rivers as their main transports. The higher waters of the Daughter's tributaries marking the area the cimmerian hinds were found in prevents easy fording conditions -- this is a time to have a proper boat to paddle around on.
The three have gone ahead, Emily trying to remember exactly where the arrow was embedded that they found across the river. From there other signs were found between the small group, things one would have missed the other finds and together they manage to piece a trail that follows the path the Abandoned took. They group had left mid morning and managed to get back by midday. Hearing the unlucky news from Mia confirms their next action, "We have a trail," she says, glancing to Thesarin and Enoch, giving a tuck of her chin. "Are we to go after them then?" This is asked of the group as a whole, but her bow is strung and held tight to her back with the quiver.
Enoch had been searching through the woods, looking for the proper trails. But nonetheless, he manages to find nothing. Not letting it defeat his spirit, Sir Enoch of the King's Own returns to the group, crossing his arms. "I was unable to find anything. I'm glad you two had much better luck." he rests a hand then on the handle of his sword, but clearly not alerted. "I believe that a wise course of action."
Thesarin's usual affect, in the streets and grand halls and palaces of Arx, is that of a shav from the Grey Woods, dressed up unconvincingly in the clothes of a Grayson nobleman. Today, though, he's dispensed with silk and finery for bands of red steel over his thighs, forearms, and torso, work with skirts and a great grey cloak in fur and leather plates and straps, biceps bare to show tattoos and scars over ropes of muscle. The sword at his hip is set with what's either an elaborate forgery or the fang of an impossibly huge wolf or bear, and he's carrying a blood-red rubicund axe on his belt and a brace strapped to his back, handles over his right shoulder. All of which is to say: he looks exactly like a well-heeled shav, and nothing at all like a Count. He walks behind Emily, as the trio make their way back toward Mia. "Reckon we have to. If they cursed the Hinds, nothing else for it."
Mia nods once, sharply. "I will admit to not much liking it, given the fact that I suspect none of us move too well in the shadows or too quietly in the woods, and it's entirely possible that with the number of tribes moving through the area -- either on behalf of the Horned God or in flight from him -- we may be looking at a larger band than it would be easy for the lot of us to deal with." She pauses and for a moment, her eyes flick between the other three. The Countess, certainly, is not combatant despite the armor she wears and the sword at her hip. They'd be better suited for the parade grounds than the marshes. "If any of believe that to be the case, tell me now, before it's too late."
Mia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 9 higher.
Emily checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.
Enoch checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 39 higher.
Thesarin checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Emily considers what Mia has to say about running into a sizeable group. "I would be glad to move ahead on our path so that I can stop us should our foes be too great in number." This is given with a glance back over her shoulder towards the direction they had come from.
"Scouts, most like," Thesarin says with a shake of his head. He looks toward Emily with a nod and a low grunt. "A hunting party. Lady Deepwood can act as our scout, give warning if we find a large force. But ain't seem to be this enemy's way."
Heading forth into the Gray Forest is never an entirely mundane experience. Different sounds than the city prevail. The murmuring insects, the cry of a bird on the wing replace the chatter of crowds and the hawker crying out his wares. Finding the path after they abandon the familiar lands around the Twainfort is easy enough. Travel for two hours puts them deep into the afternoon where the light turns dusty and bronzed through the canopy. Thesarin and Emily both pay mind more to the path than their surroundings, which leaves the Countess and the King's Own to note other factors. Now he knows what to look for, Enoch is the one who spots something exceeding well-laid trap off a path, a nasty loop wire that involves firing a nasty little dart or two.
Enoch seems to look towards their path. Though Emily's suggestion gives him pause. "I would offer that I go to scout ahead. But if it pleases you, by all means, my Lady." he bows his head to the noble before he starts to walk. "Be on your guard, all of you. We could be ambushed at any moment." Though he glances to Thesarin. "I agree."
Sadly... Thesarin is /not/ familiar with what he's looking for and steps right onto that wire.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + archery(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 21 higher.
Thesarin checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 39 higher.
Thesarin checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.
Thesarin shifts, just slightly, as an arrow goes whistling past him into the ground. One of the axes on his back is in his hand, very suddenly--for all his usual movements are measured and slow, it seems he can move fast when he needs to. He takes a step back, looking out into the canopy around them. "Trees!"
Compact forces are moving to the Lodge of Petrichor. Once a private organization dedicated as a place for shaman, Petrichor's disciples, and all those who love the land to gather for learning - the Lodge is too far-reaching and multidimensional to be overseen by one group. And there have been rumors of strange threats that necessitate defenses that the Crown is reluctant to authorize for an independent organization. And so the Crown has stepped in directly and the Compact as a whole is responding by extending their regular protection and patrols to this new area. So far, scouts have not reported anything overtly inimical headed for the Lodge. At this point that's good, as the Compact needs time to get defenses in place. The question is, is there enough time left before.... well, what is coming exactly?
Quite a few people make their way into the Gray Forest, making known to all that there is plenty of room for evacuees within the lands the Compact holds fast, offering refuge. The evacuation efforts don't go quite as planned, almost from the beginning. Shav in the Gray Forest aren't really interested in evacuating for the most part. They've seen no signs of armies, there's been no mass attacks anywhere. They are on edge though, and where the Compact has the most success are when they talk to villages that are near the ones that have just disappeared without a trace. Those shav are already considering being on the move, and so the overtures are welcome - but they're still quite unwilling to give up their freedom, and treat these messengers from the Compact with distrust even on this purported mission of mercy.
Still, there's an interesting shift that's starting now - this is the third time in the last few years that the people of the Compact have faced a serious threat in the Forests, and each time they're trying to reach out to shav to make sure they're protected. It's a new sort of attitude, and one that doesn't go unnoticed. Shav raids decrease significantly during this time, out of respect for those who took the time to come talk to them and warn them and offer them safety.
Next Rowenova, Leola, and Valery are seen escorting baby animals to the Stone Grove. Those who are taking shelter with the compact view this a little askance - a lot askance - but after a time even the hardest of hearts look at this as a sign that the people of the Compact are particularly soft-hearted. Maybe they really mean all these magnanimous attempts at outreach and diplomacy, even if the abandoned aren't quite ready to just summarily join the Compact en masse.
The Countess' hand goes to the hilt of her sword at Thesarin's cry of alarm, but then... she stops, mid-step, her gloved fingers not yet closing around the blade. Her attention isn't on the trees for whoever may be hiding in the foliage, but on the forest floor. A nudge in the dirt with her boot and she indicates the snapped line. "No archers," she says, coolly. "Trip wire."
The bow in her hand is brought forward when Thesarin speaks of the trees. Her eyes lift up and look around as she keeps her arrow set to her string. Fingers brush the fletching idly with a step back and to the side. She lowers into readiness however, making certain that the Countess has protection from the angle that the others have not covered. When Mia points out what brought the arrow down was a wire, she frowns and eases up as she glances to Enoch. "I would like to see if we can go ahead to make sure our path is clear. Its obvious that we are going the right way." She nods to Enoch then, "Join me?"
As soon as the call was given by Thesaurin, Enoch quickly moves into cover, drawing his blade half-way before he noticed that there wasn't any archers firing at them. A breath is taken as he sheathes his weapon once again. "Watch carefully where you tread, my Lord and Ladies." at Emily's request, Enoch simply nods. "Of course." and he walks further down the path, as if to scout the area.
Trees rank and file present a whole army of threats if, in fact, Thesarin thinks they're out to get him. Bark proves impervious to axes, and angry plants are not a thing to take lightly. The path before them is no path at all, the game trails threaded through the bracken and thick ferns or bushes hard to distinguish. After a small time, they're all in the brush, forced to whack their way forward.
Emily checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 19 higher.
In completely unrelated news, it seems some of the wilder rumormongers have returned to town. They haven't been seen since the pirate king's ignominious defeat but some are actually talking about seeing High Lord Victus, Lord Acheron, Dame Leola, and Baron Edward on small ships crewed by river otters, practicing the tactics of stopping and boarding other vessels.
It is a truth widely acknowledged that Thraxian rum is stronger than other rum, and it seems in high demand among the gossips of the Compact's capitol.
Enoch checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 18 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + stealth(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 4 higher.
Measuring her pace with Enoch, Emily keeps to her side of the path they are picking out at a moderate pace. When she finds traps she will mark them for those coming behind and in doing so the two scouts are cutting their time spent trailing after by quite a bit. She looks to her partner and lowers her voice, "They know someone is coming...like us. Are you able to go ahead? I might be able to keep quiet enough to see if I can find any actual ambushes ahead for us."
The forest remains softly alive with the sounds of animals and the signs of life, a breathing cycle.
Enoch proceeds with Emily, keeping to his side of the path while using foliage and trees for cover. His hand firmly on his sword-handle, despite not drawing his weapon. He seems to agree with her regarding the path. He marks any traps he manages to come across, sculpting out a path for the others to follow and make excellent time. "Agreed. I can push forward...but I believe I will simply circle around, see it from another angle. Just to be sure."
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + stealth(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 15 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + stealth(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 45 higher.
Thesarin wields a pair of throwing axes.
Thesarin hangs back with Mia while the others scout, still holding the small axe in his hand. He spins it slowly around his fingers, and gives a low noise and a glance at his wife. "...'sides the threat of death, it really is fine today."
She responds by peeking at him from the very corners of her eyes and emitting a low, soft sound that is rather like a snort -- or would be, were it not so quiet and were she not a lady. "A charming day, indeed. Your cheerful outlook warms the heart, my lord."
Whence they go, splitting in twain. The King's Guard forks off in one direction, and Emily in another. Thesarin and Mia get to enjoy a pretty walk out in one another's company, charming as that is. The forest smells sweetly of water and dirt -- petrichor by any other name -- with leaves tumbling down around them when...
Emily checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.
Enoch checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 6 lower.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 18 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.
Enoch checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 36 higher.
Emily checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 35 higher.
Thesarin checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.
Mia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.
Waiting they were and as they get so far ahead, Emily hears the sound of the bowstring release but without proper visuals she catches just the whir of it through the air towards her. Rolling aside, she manages to keep from getting hit as the arrow slams into the ground somewhere behind her. She lets out a high pitched whistle to alert those who do not know and then quickly says, "Trees." Thesarin was right! The trees are against them. Emily attempts to find a place angled away in such a way so she can get some cover and offer return fire. She pulls her bow back and attempts a shot in the direction she aw the arrow come from to help the others see where they are.
Emily checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 20, rolling 43 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 9 higher.
Enoch was simply wading his way through...before an Arow catches him right in the bicep, causing him to instinctually move behind a tree. Wincing, he pulls out the arrow and he drops it to the ground. "Damn..." before his eyes look up and around. He has no idea where they are! But he draws his sword, ready for a fight.
Enoch checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.
"Cover!," Mia hisses at her husband as soon as she hears the by-now familiar thunk of an arrowhead burying itself in to damp soil. She shifts herself behind one of the larger trunks, pulling her sword from its sheath with the distinct ring of metal brushing against metal. "Two archers, to your left!" They'd already been seen, clearly. There was no point in staying quiet now.
Keeping his blade drawn, Enoch follows the arrow that Emily fires and he moves out of cover! Rushing forward as if to pursue!
Delilah has rolled 1 20-sided dice: 19
Thesarin drops into a crouch, axe still in hand, looking in the direction Mia had indicated. He doesn't rush them--not yet--keeping near the Countess and watching for signs of the enemy nearby.
Two arrows come flying out of nowhere, the first of them striking hard in the direction of Emily. Shooting into trees is somewhat difficult considering they do tend to mess up shots for the hidden scouts as it does for those targeted. The second arrow would have struck Enoch in the chest if not for pesky trees. They must be neutral.
Nonetheless, those shadowy figures concealed behind the cedars duck out of sight after loosing their ammunition and Emily sends one firing back. A cry of pain sounds low through the woods. There might be another shot lined up, but one of them breaks when Enoch pulls his sword and Mia shouts their location as they retreat.
Emily checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 29 higher.
Enoch checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 20 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + survival(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 31 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 30 higher.
As she notes the figures are dispersing and the others are rallying, Emily rises up and with her bow still in hand rushes forward after Enoch, looking for the wounded Abandoned she managed to snag with her first shot. Eyes watch as the King's Own breaks off before her to go after the one hale and whole. "Thesarin!" She calls out, sans any titles to try to get some help because while she's quick and good with her bow trying to pin down an injured man is not going to be her forte. She will however threaten with her bow as she comes upon him, catching her breath as her chest rises and falls.
Delilah has rolled 1 4-sided dice: 2
A crashing through the brush from an oblique trail signals something huge making no effort to conceal its movement, gray and gold, muddy green, barreling. A voice booms, "Archers! There are-" the crashing form resolves into Kaldur astride Dumpling, who snorts as she nearly sits down in the spongy turf when Kaldur draws rein, "-Archers!" he's panting, the tinny report getting louder as he throws his visor up. Wavedancer is drawn, gleaming, and he looks around wild-eyed and sees he's too late. "Damn." Teeth bared he peers into the tangled growth.
Enoch checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 38 higher.
Thesarin hears Emily call out, and he turns toward Kaldur with a grunt. He looks toward Mia, and tosses off a quick "keep safe" before he's off, at speed, weaving through the underbrush to try and close the distance.
Thesarin checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 62 higher.
"We need at least one of them alive," Mia calls out, her voice echoing off the trees. She turns and breaks cover long enough to see that, yes, they have both retreated. With no more arrows likely to come their way, or at least no more archers she can see, there's far less need for it now. She trails after the others, not in the hopes of catching on of the shav'arvani, but with her eyes wide and alert for anyone or anything else that might be coming their way. Well, besides Kaldur and his horse. They're rather hard to miss, at this point.
That one escaping fellow ahead of Emily has a way through the woods. He manages to dodge through the lashing branches and the undergrowth. The fast trot, even while injured, keeps ahead of Emily despite her best efforts. He zigzags to stay out of reach, but no one told him about a damn Prodigal count barreling down his path like some deranged red man of the forest. Thesarin manages to intercept his path.
His resolute pal there takes potshots at Enoch. Again the trees prove to be a nuisance, for that deadly shot really should be in the way. He rises from the crouch he's in to dash in a retreating line in the opposite direction from his friend. Every man for himself, after all!
Enoch continues to brush straight on through! Sword still in his hand as he kept moving forwards! An arrow comes at him, and while he uses the trees for cover, one manages to slip by, but instead, Enoch just //barely// tilts his head out of the way to let it wiz right by his head! He keeps charging! Diverging to follow the one running away.
Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 16 higher.
Emily can not quite keep up with her target, arrow nocked she has to switch everything over to one hand to launch herself over a log and keep moving but Thesarin suddenly breaks into the trees ahead of her. "By Gild..." she breathes, Emily tries to catch up and manages to, her foot falls bringing her to a skidding halt, drawing her bow and clearing her voice, "Move and I will shoot you," for added effect - as if the Prodigal won't do the trick. Questions, they have questions and need an unwilling subject.
The urge to give chase and run prey down ahorse or afoot is strong, but Kaldur sees the Countess, heretofore not known for skill at arms, and is torn. He decides to stay close and dismounts, glaring into the brush, listening as keenly as he might for anything creeping close. He watches Dumpling, too, her senses are keener than his. Dumpling whickers, ears pinned back.
Mia and Kaldur face little immediate risk. The advance scouts, if that's what they were, are armed with shortbows and leathers, making mobility and vanishing into shadows much easier. One swings to the northwest, opposite the direction generally of the Twainfort. Enoch remains in hot pursuit.
Emily's attempts to convince the other -- Righty -- to slow down other than for the shot given to his side is... well, a bit lacking. She already went ahead and proved she would shoot. Then there is a terrifying Thesarin *right* there, further compounding things.
Thesarin stands in the path of the wounded archer, throwing axe in hand, looming over the other fighter. Looming is a talent of his. He gives a low growl, and raises the axe toward the prodigal, rumbling something out in the forest-speak of the Crownlands Abandoned.
Thesarin says in Crownlands shav, "Put it down, and don't move."
"Go!," Mia cries out, "before he brings half his tribe down on us. Stop him!" With her swordtip, she gestures towards where she last saw the man on foot. "There's blinds in those trees, and they're trying to force to a spot for easy slaughter. The rest of his people can't be far."
Enoch keeps up his pursuit, and if he can get close enough to the shav he's chasing? He'll try and slice at the leg! Enough to cripple, but not kill. At least not immediately.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + survival(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 27 higher.
Enoch checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.
Kaldur doesn't have to be told twice, "Guard!" Kaldur commands Dumpling and points at Mia. Dumpling whickers, the sound is like distant thunder. The Seliki lord sets off in the direction Mia pointed, moving swiftly through the brushes. Now that they don't have to be careful about how they're moving, Kaldur is in his element.
Kaldur checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 23 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 14 higher.
Enoch checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 20, rolling 34 higher.
Dumpling the horse is in her proudest element, guarding Mia. Maybe there might be an apple to guard, too. Mia's orienting others pays off.
The archer on the run wraps his hand around his side, frowning back. The exchange of foreign, pidgin language between him and Thesarin is awkward, to say the least. Something snapped back in low, brittle tones finds him backing away, those axes reason enough to throw his hand up. The one without the bow.
Meanwhile, his other buddy who ran in the dead opposite direction is trying to avoid Enoch. Nothing like one of the King's Own attempting to run him through. He has some benefit from his leathers, but not nearly enough. Then there's /Kaldur/ charging up and the Seliki apparently came out of noisy nowhere. His face pales and he's definitely all about bolting.
Thesarin advances on the shav, axe still ready to throw. He keeps speaking in the same language, low and slow and rather blatantly threatening.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will stay this steed from her appointed d- was that a whiff of apple? DUTY! GUARD! Dumpling stands strong, ears flicking back and forth.
Enoch manages to get the shave he's chasing good! coming close to slicin' off that leg but not quite! One more hit might do it. Still chasing after the shave, Enoch attempts to spin his blade to strike the man right through his //other// knee to try and completely stop him from escaping...but keep him alive.
There is now a rather large beast -- several hundred pounds of horse, in fact -- standing in between Mia and, well, apparently everything else. It might almost be enough to make her laugh, save for the tense moments of being uncertain whether or not the Abandoned scout will be caught or not. The expression on the face of her *actual* guards, however, is far less amused. They've fanned out around her, with Gerrin taking point. Or trying to, anyway. When it comes to shoving matches between the Blood Warrior and Dumpling for who will take precedence, she clearly has the weight and height advantage.
Thesarin says in Crownlands shav, "Put the bow down. I've been shot at, and that always puts me in the wost fucking humor. I'm tracking them who hexed the Hind, so I want to know how many and where they are. So put the bow down whilst you've got the hand."
Whilst Thesarin tries to negotiate with the shav in the best way he knows how, the puzzled look on the man's face shows pain and a certain confusion. He edges sideways to Thesarin and slowly makes a move of turning the bow sideways, parallel to the ground, and opens his fingers. Thump! It hits the ground.
Kaldur pours on more speed, teeth bared as legs pump and he ducks low branches and leaps twisting roots. More speed. He sees Enoch close and hisses when the strike doesn't fell the man, redoubling his efforts to close.
Emily comes up from behind, listening to Thesarin instruct the Shav to drop his weapons. She keepers her bow in hand as she draws near, giving a nod to the Count as the man drops his bow. She is quick to move in then and hold out her hand, "The rest, the rest of your weapons now..." she is searching him with her gaze for blades while the big bad Prodigal offers added incentive.
A knight bashes aside bushes. Another knight is trying to mercy swat him. The other archer shav /runs/, runs like the wind, but that's not a lot of help with two cliffs trying to jump him, is it?
Dumpling tosses her head and continues that low, ominous whickering. She stamps, the sound heavy and solid. Gleaming steel-shod hoof not something anyone with good sense would approach. Perhaps including those Blood Warriors.
Finally....FINALLY, Enoch catches the running shav and he proceeds to stab the man through the knee, watching as he falls to the ground. Grabbing the man by his wounded leg, he attempts to quite literally drag the fellow back to the group. Hopefully he didn't stray too far.
"You're on my land, boy." Thesarin switches back to Arvani, and indicates with his head to move back toward the rest of the group. He'll give a bit of a shove if the other shav isn't getting the point that he should be moving back with him. "So your life's hanging on my good will, and I ain't in a kind mood so far. I'm looking for them cursed the Hind. I want know where and how many."
One wounded shav caught, struggling as he goes because it hurts. The other shav facing Emily and Thesarin puts his hands up. Blood stains one. The wound at his side is not exactly gentle, weeping even yet. That's close as he gets. He protests in Crownland Shav, "I gave up. Bunch of fucking madmen." He hisses out through his teeth. Hurts, see. "Fifty."
He can't exactly handwave behind him, can that shav. Not with his side stitched up and an arrow at them. He tries to jerk his head east.
"He's telling the truth of where they are," Mia intones coolly, dryly, in a mood that seems to match her husbands. "The question is with all of the effort they've put into reshaping the lands, whether it was the hinds they were trying to force into that trap, or anyone else hunting them." She peels her barbute up, just enough to arch one black brow at their first prisoner -- and then look towards where the others had run after the seconds. "You could answer that question, and what you know of the animals, if you'd care to live. If not...." The Countess shrugs, and she nods towards Thesarin. "I can let my husband do what he likes with you." A pause. "I think you'll find me far more pleasant to deal with, frankly."
Dropping the wounded Shav next to his 'friend', Enoch sheathes his weapon and starts to treat his wound. staying behind the shavs in question with his sword still drawn in case one of them wants to run. Needless to say though, as they give information, Enoch keeps a straight face. Cold.
Mia checked command + diplomacy at difficulty 20, rolling 37 higher.
Enoch checked charm + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.
Thesarin is... smiling, at that. It's a rare sight on the Count's face, and if that's the sort of smile he tends to give, that's probably a good thi
*thing. A rictus, really, might be a better way to describe it.
Poor captured shav brought by Enoch glares at the one without a bow, and therefore terrible. He goes silent and sullen, hunched over and holding his leg. There is no warmth in his face for anyone, much less his captors.
The bleeding one still has his arm up, but wavering slightly. In time his hand drops to his side. "Animals? They're for eating? We just bring back what we're told ta. I don't get to see what they do." He jerks his head weakly to the side. "Keep them in the forest here and make sure they're easy to hunt, that's all I got told..."
Emily walks back with Thesarin to the gathering, the Abandon's bow in her opposite hand. She glances towards Kaldur and Enoch, a faint curve of her lips catching as she gives them both a nod. She remains quiet however while she watches Mia speak with them, her smile completely fading as a breath releases. She takes the moment to inspect the craftsmanship of the bow before setting it aside and offering her attention to their surroundings. After all there could be more coming to check on their forerunners.
"If you spot one of *those* animals and believe they're for eating, then you're as thick and oblivious as the worst of the silks in the city, who can barely tell their heads from their back halves," Mia retorts, sharply, and looks towards the gash in his side with a frown. "Who told you drive them back towards the east?" Canting her head towards Emily, she asks, "....Did he have any other knives on him?" Obviously, she doesn't trust the man to answer as much himself. At least not with anything resembling honesty.
That bow isn't much to speak of. Neither of them are, in fact: decently constructed, but nothing refined in the fashion of a real fletcher in Arx. They're serviceable. And the arrows are fletched in grey, dull as ash, for both sides. If that's not damning enough, Emily can be sure that they were the same hunters after the hinds.
Kaldur is likewise wary that these two aren't all there were, but lets the more seasoned folk talk while keeping an eye - largely untrained for forestry - on the brush and brambles. He moves to Dumpling and murmurs to her. "Hey!" At Mia's disparaging comment on silks and eating the poor hinds, "I said IF they died we could make sausage. IF!" Poisoned sausage. Brilliant, Kaldur. Dumpling eases, the command he gave standing her down. She nudges at him and rolls eyes at the two captives, nostrils flaring.
Glancing aside to Mia, she frowns some, "I did no see any and he did not release a any other weapons on pain of death," she remarks. Glancing to Thesarin to confirm he did not see anything as well. "But we can look him over as well." She points to the bow she set aside, "That...bow, those arrows are the same ones that were shot at the hinds. These men were seeking to kill them..."
No visible knives with the shavs, only the arrows they carry in the quivers. Odd that might be, but it speaks to a particular kind of arrogance. The silent once nurses his really sore leg, muttering impreceations under his breath that start and end with 'tasty deer.'
The bewildered, hurting shav shakes his head. "That's what we were told by the fath-- Ow--"
The other one kicks him.
Enoch keeps his cold eyes on the enemies. His sword still looking red with the blood of a good strike to the wounded one that he chased down previously. His eyes watching. Calculating. Waiting for something to happen. Even as one shav kicks the other!
"He says there's fifty of 'em, out east," Thesarin offers with a low rumble. He looks away from the more talkative of the Abandoned for a moment, looking over toward the crippled archer. Meeting the other one's eyes. Shaking his head slowly.
The injured archer on the ground who kicked the other one with his good leg doesn't meet anyone's eyes. Mostly he looks particularly put out by the whole situation, teeth bared. "Always more. You stop us, always more." That's awful gracious of him. Cursing out the others, right?
For all of her reputation of throwing open the gates of the Twainfort to almost any Abandoned that get it into their heads to come walking out of the woods, Mia is under absolutely no illusions whatsoever about some of the clans simply being beyond the hope of them ever joining the Compact, or even living in uneasy peace. So while her words may come as a shock to some, her voice is surprisingly level when she says, "...We only need one man alive for questioning, you know. I'd strongly suggest you bear that in mind." Her sword is still pointed low to the ground; a statement of fact, in return for his vehemance, but not a move towards violence -- yet. "Separate them."
Kaldur leans down and takes the surly one, tossing his head to Enoch to get the man's other arm. "Easier on you if you stand quiet. On your leg too." It's not a threat, the man is gentle enough, kindly even. His brow knit with some concern at Mia's dark words.
The surly fellow, who might as well be called Sam, doesn't needlessly wreck his leg just for the sake of pride. Neither is he doing much to ease the task of pulling him away. Deadweight in their hands, basically.
The other fellow divested of bow, side bleeding, really hasn't much fight left in him. He favours the side with the damage, trying to angle sideways to avoid any strain. Poor man.
Enoch simply helps Kaldur by taking the shav's arm and leading them off to a quiet place...before appropriately trying to kick him down to the ground. The shav. Not Kaldur. Kaldur's the man.
Thesarin strolls carelessly past the archer he'd captured, giving a grunt to the huntsman. "My wife's got a good heart. Be good to her, might be she'll see your wound there. Lady Emily, keep watch, aye?" The Prodigal Count moves toward Kaldur, helping the Seliki Lord carry off the other man. He starts saying something in the shav language, and not friendly words from the sound of it.
Mia checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 20, rolling 25 higher.
Emily is still looking the arrows over, frowning some as she watches the trouble they have moving them. She sniffs and nods to Thesarin, "Aye, I can do that." She takes one of the arrows with her and turns it over, checking the tip of it. Giving herself a position that has a good view around them all, her bow rests against her hip. Once done examining the arrow she will throw it towards the ground to get it to stick in before taking up her bow and nocking an arrow.
Delilah GM Roll checked composure(2) at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Enoch checked charm + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Mia calmly pats the pouch hanging at her belt. Lagoma's flame ought to be recognizable, even far, far, far further north than they are. "Now, as the man said. I can staunch that bleeding for you, if you like. Keep you from losing anymore, and let you breathe a little easier." So that he could continue talking, obviously. While she may be smoothing her features into something softer and more reassuring, the Countess Riven is making no attempts whatsoever to conceal the fact that this kindness is given with the expectation of fair exchange. "You were saying something? About.... father, was it?"
Thesarin says in Crownlands shav, "You, though. Has it been so long that folks stopped telling tales of Thesarin son of Vahari, 'round these parts? Gurnebolg and his family in flaming pitch? The slaughter of the Tehoa? The last hours of Henri of Solace? Any of that?"
Thesarin has rolled a critical success!
Thesarin checked command + intimidation at difficulty 20, rolling 32 higher.
Kaldur stiff arms Enoch, "Hey! He's not liklier to talk if he's hurt." Kaldur doesn't get this whole intimidation thing. Maybe the stiff arm sent the kick amiss. At Thesarin;'s approach though, that tone, those eyes he stands away from the downed archer, hand on the hilt of his sword, though who he's on guard against isn't totally clear.
Having already kicked the poor soul down, Enoch looks to Kaldur as he gets stiff armed, sending him back just a single step. He doesn't answer. Clearly Enoch is the bad cop. A glance is given to the shav on the ground. "Start talking."
Sam may be in pain, but he has all the attitude of a righteous Abandoned in the presence of Compact thralls. Teeth are bared in a grimace when things get rough. He wheezes in a sucking breath of pain. "All your worthless lives. You should have all been killed," he snarls back. "You admit you like hurtin' and killin' and monstrous crimes." Oh, he's all a big man... until the actual bigger man is going on about things in Shav, and the colour drains from his face. His mouth twists. Profanity builds up in Crownlands Shav to a point that will not be translated.
The other weary man spits out, "The father. Calls 'imself the father. Got that ugly carved log--"
"Shut up," hisses the other one. "You're an unworthy warden, you won't be pardoned for betraying us. Treasonous bastard, leading yourself to slaughter. Your blood isn't worthy of the Hunting God!" Oops.
"This Father." Thesarin draws his sword, shining diamondplate capped with an enormous wolftooth. "Talk to me about this Father."
Any semblance of kindness or forbearance in Kaldur's bearing vanishes with the archer's dark god named.
Thesarin wields The Wolf's Tooth, a Diamondplate Sword.
Enoch checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Enoch watches as the name of the hunting god is revealed. He proceeds to continue to try and be bad cop by kicking the shav that he and Kaldur had taken away, right in the face! "Not smart to give yourself up." his sword is still drawn, as if ready to kill the shav at a moments notice.
The weary archer with a hand on his side shakes his head weakly. "He's an older man. Grey beard. Wide shoulders. Traveled all this way to make faith with us. Don't know where, somewhere north." He shrinks back from the sticky muck on his fingertips, and tries to keep himself upright. "He don't like me and keeps with the others. More important folk. Guards and the warlord and..." He's running at the tongue and faint enough, grimacing. Mentioning that name is enough to loosen his wobbly jaw. "I don't get no place in the night activities." Even among them, there's a pecking order.
Thesarin checked command + war at difficulty 20, rolling 23 higher.
"Ahhhh," Mia says, slowly. "The Hunting God. The Horned God. You serve him, and you drive the hinds to his priest to be slaughtered for the value of their blood, hmmm?" She doesn't sound shocked. Quite the opposite, really -- it's much what she expected, though there seems to be a certain weary disappointment in her voice. "A pity. There's a war coming, between his people and mine, and by the sound of it, you lot have chosen the wrong side. You should've stayed out of it altogether." She's heard quite enough for now -- enough to bring her to try to staunch his wound, if he'll let her. And to consider him worth bringing back, for more information on their camp.
Sam, meanwhile, will give Enoch a thin and bloody smile. "I did my service. I stayed faithful. You'll all die and I go knowing I stayed true. I /stayed/ true." Sounds like he's trying to convince himself, or has a fanatical zealotry. "The Hunting God won't forsake us. Won't forsake me."
Emily checked command + leadership at difficulty 20, rolling 18 higher.
Enoch checked command + war at difficulty 20, rolling 6 lower.
Mia checked command + leadership at difficulty 20, rolling 24 higher.
Kaldur checked command + leadership at difficulty 20, rolling 21 higher.
"Need find you a better god, boy." And then Thesarin's sword flashes, and it might be Sam won't be saying much again.
That was all Enoch needed to hear. He doesn't even bother to stop Thesarin, watching as he slays the shav without mercy.
It is one thing to kill in the heat of battle, another to slice down a captive entirely. Emily turns from her watch as Thesarin's long clean swipe just finishes. She lets out a breath, giving a shake of her head. "Misplaced faith," she intones, mostly for herself as eyes lift to each in turn.
Thesarin turns away, giving a low grunt. "I'm back to the Twainfort. We'll have swords in these woods 'fore nightfall. Folk lost all to this enemy, ready to have some back." He looks toward Mia, gives her a nod. "I'll be at the head of it. See it done."
Numbers count for something. Numbers of angry shav soldiers come into the Compact under a banner they call home, numbers of good stout Rivenfolk and weary Cronwlanders uninterested in being forced to settle under a banner they never asked for, a sword to their collective necks. Funny how that tends to irritate the good men and women of Riven. They ride out in a muster after the return of their lord and lady, heartened by the presence of Lord Seliki and Lady Deepwood and someone with a surname Grayson and some kind of knightly title. Truly these are their tokens and touchstones.
It's a hard task using some scouts and the suggestions of the wounded archer on where to find the village. It's a small hamlet at best. Fifty is a generous overstatement, including old men and women who tend a tiny herd of ponies; a few children and half-grown youths. What counts is the traps surrounding the place indeed are meant to funnel wildlife, men, and everything in between to a killing field of sorts. Under the trees, bones pile up. Useful for deer and other wildlife, the hinds are clearly victims.
In a bloody, brutal battle with casualties on both sides, the inevitable outcome will be short-lived violence. The Abandoned fight brutally to protect their treasured favour of the wrong-handed God of the Hunting Packs, the Horned God. Swords flash, arrows fly. Voices shout, chants rise. It doesn't do much good in the end. It will be a rush that takes them right up to the most guarded corner of the village, an ugly four foot tall chunk fo wood and metal covered in profane markings. It takes a sharp and educated mind to identify the markings, but it reeks of power. The Extinguished from the map that never was, a few victims to take prisoner or back to bury.
Emily checked intellect + occult at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.
Mia checked intellect + occult at difficulty 20, rolling 38 higher.
It is surprising, perhaps, that the Countess accompanies them to the battle -- not into the fray, not directly, when all was said and done, but it wasn't so very, very long ago that the County descended into chaos when left in the hands of a seventeen year old girl. Leaving it in the hands of her twelve year old heir would, surely, be far worse. So it isn't until the deed is done, in all its ugliness, that Mia descends from the treeline on horseback, picking her way through the smoking village with a cloth held over her nose, her eyes stinging and red from it. 'War'. No, not quite. More like a massacre. When she finally makes her way to the shack and dismounts her horse, it doesn't take long to determine this was the place they were looking for. And afer a few moments spent digging in the wreckage they've made of it, she steps outside carrying a long staff, covered in much the same markings. It's quickly added to the nearest flame.
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