May 16, 2018, 8 p.m.
Outside Arx - Oathlands near Artshall - Duskshire Keep
Comments and Log
Alexis checked dexterity + smithing at difficulty 29, rolling 32 higher.
Alexis checked dexterity + smithing at difficulty 21, rolling 51 higher.
The forests of Duskshire gradually slope down to the plateau in which the keep rests on the cliffs overlooking the western branch of the Lycene split. The derelict fortress can be seen in the far distance. It looks intact, if worse for wear. Today we have a varied group of heroes put together by House Laurent to inspect the area and determine just how bad it is. The keep and the lands around it have traded hands more times than anyone can count over the decades. Duke Edmund all but abandoned the thing in the later stages his dukedom, not having the energy to keep up with fighting off the shav in the outer fringes of his duchy. Three years after his death, the family is looking finally to reclaim that land.
Alexis jingles when she walks. Comes with that whole mail-and-plate fashion. White silk is visible here and there beneath the metal, and she carries her Gold Order greathelm under one arm. Both Wyrmstooth and the Dragon's Daughter are strapped to her back, and she sticks close to Norwood as they go.
Norwood wields Queensguard the Sword of Laurent.
Jonathan looks out over the overgrown fields in the distance and sighs with a shake of his head. "This place is a mess, isn't it? Going to take weeks or months, just to clear it out for planting." A tut as he strides along next to Norwood, his spear across his shoulders and adorned in leather, save for a damn fine breastplate that is all shiny and new and /amazing/.
Daemon has come along whistling a little tune to himself while he marches through the forest, bits of greenery crushed under his plate boots as he brings up around the center of the group. "Must we be on the look-out for bees?" He asks his companions, a gauntlet placed on the second of a pair of two swords at his hip. One of Oathlands Steel, the other Diamondplate. He's hovering around the steel for the moment. Bit of a safety blanket, if you would. "Or, do not all Laurent lands subscribe to potentially stinging for sweet honey?"
Jael is on a horse because of course she is. Astride a sleek bright bay, the lady Laurent is towards the back of the brigade and ducking the occasional branch like a pro, sword at her side and bow at her back. "It's looked worse," she comments blithely on the state of things, and shakes her head at Daemon. "Just wasps."
Apparently this is a group that doesn't believe in carrying just one sword, because Norwood ALSO has two, his rubicund safely upon his back while Queenguard is on his hip with one hand lingering on the hilt. Idly, "Bees only sting if you endanger them." #formerbeekeeperknowledge. "It has been quite some time since I was here last." Whenever the last time was when Duke Edmond decided to try to get this back. "Keep your eyes up in the trees."
Daemon checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 6 higher.
The forest itself is quiet and peaceful. It looks like it would be a great place to hunt for game or trap for furs. There's the distant sound of water, a creek maybe. And an interesting outcropping of rocks that juts from the ground. It HAS looked worse. Isn't that interesting?
Jonathan checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 24 higher.
Norwood checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 6 higher.
Daemon checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 3 higher.
Paige is apparently the lone ranger in the group, cringing at every crunch and jangle but remarkable stoic about the whole affair. She chooses to range slightly ahead of the group, moving towards the forest with eyes searching for unusual or unexplained rustling.
Paige checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 3 lower.
Jael checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 24 lower.
Alexis checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 9 higher.
easily maneuvering over the roots and rocks and other small obstacles, Jonathan pauses for just a moment at Jael and Norwood's words, his frown faint. "Does that mean someone is trying to maintain it, if it's looked worse? Or was it /that/ bloody last time anyone tried this?" He seems remarkably unconcerned, in the blissful ignorance of youth.
Alexis keeps her eyes on the trees. And the path. And the bushes surrounding the path. Quirking a brow. "Wasps and hives rather unnerve me after the whole... Thing... Outside of Farhaven," She admits. one gauntleted hand going up to check the hilt of her blades, that they are ready to be drawn, even as she shudders at the memory. "So... So hopefully we'll avoid wasps, yeah?"
Hey? Are those two cute fluffy squirrels? So quaint. Jael's horse begins to act oddly rather suddenly and when she encourages it to move forward, it does. But without her as is occasionally prone to happening when they suddenly jump forward into the air for seemingly no reason. But it's fine, because Jael lands on the ground! Or does she? Hey! Where did Jael go? The same place as Paige is about to go as she abruptly finds herself teetering on the edge of a pit. A man-made pit in the ground that was covered up by bramble and a net. Until Jael fell through it. The rest of the group is either alert enough to notice what's happening before it does or far enough away that they're spared falling.
Jonathan checked strength + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 15 higher.
"It's strange." Norwood interjects as they walk. His eyes skim the ground and he manages to avoid the pit but doesn't call out about it just ASSUMING everyone else will too. He glances back and goes, "Wait, Jael?" Back peddle to the edge of where Jael disappeared to. "Just to be clear, pits do not dig themselves. Jael!" Rising his voice just a tad as Norwood steps forward to catch the horse's bridle. "Are you alright?"
Jonathan, reacting with a sudden burst of instinctual speed, /LUNGES/ forward and snags the back of Paige's leather coat in a tight, firm grasp, hauling her back from the edge in one quick motion and letting her brace herself before he lets go. "You alright?" He murmurs, before stepping forward to check on the unfortunate Jael.
Paige gives Jonathan an irritable glance and makes a small growling muttering noise when she's yanked back, only after the fact noticing the pit. Still looking a bit peeved, she straightens her coat and gives a nod, "Fine. What week is it, I wonder..." Glancing up to the sky as if that will give her the answer. Alternately distracted and a bit on the touchy side is the ranger!
"Wasps?" Daemon looks as though he might break out into a cold-sweat at any moment at the very idea of being subject to some aggressive, stinging insects with a perchance for causing only pain. It is a look that persists up until the moment that one of them is whisked down a long, cavernous hole. The Knight stops dead in his tracks and spins on his heel, coming to a rest at the edge of the pit and looking downward. "Oh goodness gracious. We may need a rather long stick."
Jael shrugs, blue eyes squinting at the interesting scenery. It's interesting. "I more meant that we try to come in and tidy up the place every few years. Aster, whoa. Hey." The bay sidles and Jael makes a few clicking noises at him until...he curvettes hard to one side and she topples right off, vanishing quite neatly into a pit. SURPRISE! There's a reason there's a thing called horse sense; Aster tries to canter off, but Norwood grabs him and he frets at his bit. From the pit, wheezily, "Ow, gods /damn/ it." There's a pause, then, "I'm fine. This is fine."
"Why do you ask what week it is?" Alexis inquires of Paige, even as she steps over to the pit, and groans. "I knew I should've brought my glaive." She murmurs. Once it's clear that Jael is mostly okay, that is. "Worst comes to worst I suppose we can fill the hole and let Lady Jael stomp her way up, but that may take more time than we have... I don't suppose we brought rope?"
Norwood is working on the bay to get the animal to calm down, petting the creature's neck. Calmly, "Someone throw a rope in there and get Jael out, Dameon, would you keep an eye on the skies? I'm not going to bet on there only being surprises below us." Norwood lifts his own eyes up to scan their surroundings. Murmering to himself as he backs Aster away from the hole, "If was trying to kill someone with a pit, I'd put spikes. So what were they," hello abandoned, Norwood means YOU, "trying to catch?"
"Thank you, Woods, that is most informative," Jael's voice drifts up.
"Wondering what moon phase it is.. just something that popped into my head. Full moon can bring out... interesting things," Paige lifts a shrug and looks back to Alexis with a faint smile. "Cuold blame the clumsiness on the moon, or something like that." Then she's pulling off her backpack and yanking out a wound up length of rope. Probably about twenty feet all said and done. "Yeah, always bring rope. Its one of the most versatile things to carry in the field." She untiess one end and tosses it into the pit, feeding the line down until Jael can catch hold, then anchoring herself so the lady can climb out of the pit.
"Jael //is// quite a catch..." Norwood throws out, this time purposefully loud enough so Jael is included. "But I doubt it was a Laurent considering how long we've left this land alone."
"Well, if you aren't currently run through with spikes and we aren't getting riddled with arrows, I'd say it's an old animal trap! Or just an old trap period. Cousin, you have some rope we could u-there we go." Because she already has the rope out. She's clever like that. Jonathan, meanwhile, moves to help with the rope, as needed.
"An eye on the skies?" Daemon inquires, cocking his head to one side till his platinum hair is falling into his face. "Ah, yes, to beware of swarms of wasp. Excellent thinking, Sir Norwood." The Knight takes a step back, perches upright and holds a hand just over his forehead to shield his vision from the sun. No insect swarm shall descend on them without due warning.
"Bears? Deer? Lady Jael?" Alexis suggests to Norwood. Quirking a brow at Paige, and joining the woman to help haul Jael up. "Secure it around you and walk the wall, I'll help pull you up," She tells the noblewoman.
"More like Arrows, but if wasps are what is on the mind..." Norwood quirks an eyebrow at Daemon. "Jonathan - do you see any other traps? If this was hunting related there could be some rope ones about." Or worse, the nice metal chomp chomp ones.
There's some dark muttering from the pit, then, "I've got it," followed by scuffling noises and a tightening of the rope. Jael is trying to clamber out.
"Paige is a lot more adept at the forestry side of the Huntsman business," Jonathan explains, peering sidelong at his cousin for this /and/ for the odd moon comments, eyebrow arching. He keeps one eye on Jael though, reaching a hand to help her out after she reaches the top.
And while the narrator is a little disappointed that the group didn't try to shovel Jael to her freedom, the rope works just fine and they will be able to drag her out (or maybe she climbs!) The path they're on does generally lead down to the keep, though it meanders through the woods somewhat and brings them closer and closer to the large outcropping of rocks. In the distance they can hear the sounds of voices also moving through the woods as well.
"I don't suppose any of us speak Oathlands shav?" Norwood is all over the thoughtful asides tonight as he strains to near whatever the voices are saying, though he also pauses to ask, "//Everyone// is hearing those voices, right?" Norwood has good reason for asking that.
Alexis gives a satisfied nod both to Paige anmd Jonathan, assuming a vanguard position once more when Jael is settled alongside them properly. Canting her head upon hearing voices, raising a hand to halt the group. "I can hear the voices," She agrees with Norwood. "And no, I don't speak Oathlands Shav'arvani. Guess we should've brought a Greenmarcher."
Jael makes it back into the light of day, armor and face dirt-smudged but none the worse for wear. Hurray for no spikes 'n death! "Well that was embarassing. Thank you," she tell her rescuers. "I do not remember a pit being there." And away they go! Though Jael leads Aster this time. "I don't speak any languages."
"Arrows? Oh yes, I suppose arrows would be a problem..." Daemon laments as he moves toward the back of the group now, keeping a watchful eye upon the treeline. "Afraid I don't speak any other language besides Arvani myself. Perhaps these Shavs are also a fan of the common tongue?" Those emerald eyes narrow as he looks out through the trees. "... It helps to be optimistic, no?"
"I hear them, don't worry," Jonathan puts in, moving to stand next to Paige (archer and all) and hefting his spear over one shoulder, but still easily used from that position. "And no, not much call for learning Shav on the farm, sorry." He peers aside to Jael and asks curiously, "You don't speak any languages? You do a fine job of pretending, Lady Jael, I am impressed." Treating this very seriously. Well, a bit, since his grip on his spear is iron-tight at this point.
Paige winds her rope back up and tucks it into her backpack, shouldering it before taking up her bow once more. She offers a shake of the head and murmurs, "I've been trying to find a teacher for it, but I kept getting put off til later." She glances at the group and lifts a brow, "I don't suppose anyone here is good at sneaking?"
"After fighting them this long..." Norwood really should have learned their langauge. Shaking his head Norwood refocuses on the task at hand. To Paige, "I think you would be our resident sneak, unless you have untold depths Jonathan, Alexis, Daemon?" Norwood glances at the three. It's POSSIBLE Jael is also sneaky, but Norwood is also not betting on it.
Jonathan checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 20 lower.
Alexis checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 6 lower.
Daemon checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 13 lower.
Norwood checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 16 higher.
Jael has rolled a critical success!
Jael checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 20 higher.
Paige checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 35 higher.
"I'm afraid breathing makes me rattle like a cage." Daemon replies in kind to Norwood. "And my eyes aren't the best either. Though if you'd like, I can climb a tree and pretend to be a wind chime. I do a mean swallow impression."
"Don't count on me being quiet," Alexis offers, ruefully, giving a soft jingle of her mail surcoat. "Still, they might be friendly?" She suggests, turning to face the group. "Besides, I think most Shav'arvani groups understand and use at least a little of the Compact Tongue, no?"
"I'm light on my feet, but I have about as much stealth training as a squirrel hopped up on coffee beans," Jonathan explains with a wince. "I mean, it's Shavs. There's a million tribes, all different. Unless someone wants to sneak, I suggest maybe we just stand our ground and try and work it out?"
There's a withering look for Jonathan's remark on languages, and then a soft snort in the back of Jael's throat when stealth is mentioned. "I won't jingle at least, but I'd probably trip on myself or something at this rate."
"I'm not very sneaky myself, really. My job tends to be less stealth and more tracking someone across lands and then dragging them back for trial," Paige chuckles and shakes her head at Norwood. Nodding to Alexis, she agrees and offers, "I think perhaps that would be our best bet. Keep weapons sheathed, approach cautiously, but with no ill intent."
"Every time I have come to Darkshire someone has tried to kill me." Norwood says this dryly, and he's going to keep his hand on Queensguard. "I am not about to think this time will be any different whatsoever."
Hey, where did Jonathan go? Jonathan was standing next to Paige until suddenly he was not. He's now several feet in the air, upside down. Daemon and Alexis get dangerously close to stepping into some of the snares themselves, which is when they'll realize that while they didn't step into a trap they are now dangerously close to a hive of stinging wasps. The wasps haven't realized that they're there, /yet/. Jael is not in a pit and neither is Norwood or Paige. The three of them are able to hear that the voices are coming closer, much closer and that they can... /hear them too/. There's a sudden hushing from the other party as they also begin to quietly approach. Probably with an equal amount of suspicion.
Jonathan checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 6 higher.
Norwood checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.
Daemon checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 9 lower.
"SWEET SASSY MOLASSY THE INSECTS OF THE UNDERWORLD BESIEGE US." Daemon cries the very moment he's come to the realization that, by the gods, they're right next to a trap with wasps. /WASPS/. The Knight's teeth have already begun chattering, and that grip on his blade is white-knuckled and hard.
The wasps know you're there now and they're pissed.
Norwood pauses abruptly when the voices come closer, hushing. The WOOSHING sound of Jonathan going up in the air halfdraws Norwood's attention, "... I..." He's not going to say 'I told you so' no no no. Instead he reaches down to grab a stick and sweeps the ground in front of them to make sure there aren't any more rope thingies. "Jael, can you reach Jonathan from Aster's back?" So Jonathan doesn't have to like... FALL all the way down. "Daemon. Alexis. Step back slowly."
Paige checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 9 higher.
"Gah!" Jonathan lets out an instinctual /yelp/ as he is hauled bodily upward into the trees to hang next to Daemon. "Sir, please shut the shit up or they'll just get angr-oh shit" And suddenly there are wasps. Damnit Daemon. He growls to himself, shifting and struggling to try and angle his spear to saw away at his bindings, swearing up a storm under his breath.
Alexis checked luck + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 35 higher.
Daemon checked luck + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Alexis wields The Dragon's Daughter, an Alaricite Greatsword.
Jonathan checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.
"I guess we're standing our ground," Jael says wearily, doing the pat down to make sure her weapons are where she can get to them easily, even if she's not going to have a hand on them when the strangers roll up. To Norwood, "I could try but..." But wasps.
"Jonathan, prepare to roll when you hit the ground," Alexis declares - the angry wasps aside, they'll be joined by the Abandoned soon, and gods know how _that_ will go. So she draws her alaricite blade, and cuts the rope to Jonathan's rope trap, freeing him. And hopefully _not_ giving him a concussion.
Norwood checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 6 higher.
"You have armor on," Norwood says - the man is way too fucking calm for there being WASPS about. "You won't get too hurt." Norwood is more worried about the VOICES OVER THERE that could SHOOT ARROWS AT THEM. Stepping into the nice safe area (his stick guiding the way Norwood finally calls out, "HELLO THE WOODS." If they're Abandoned, Norwood's got his sword ready.
The wasps begin to furiously sting Jonathan and Daemon, because wasps are awful creatures. It's probably worse for Jonathan because he can't actually get away, at least until someone cuts him down or he frees himself.
Paige nudges at Norwood and shakes her head, nodding towards the edge of the woods where the small group is. She steps forward (CAREFULLY), and mutely lifts a hand to them in greeting. Provided she's not peppered with arrows or spears, she calls out carefully, "Hello. Do any of your group speak Arvani? I think we stumbled onto your hunting traps on accident, we're very sorry about that."
Norwood is not sorry, he has his sword and he is NOT AFRAID TO DRAW IT.
"Please, mercy, mercy you unkind buzzers with asses of hurt!" Daemon pleads with the amount of wasps that buzz him. Memories of the Northern battles flaring in his mind, like a fresh dose of fear incarnate as he's covering his head. They get at his face, under his gauntlets, his chestplate. It's awful. It's hell. And the Oathlander can barely defend himself amidst such a terrible flurry.
"Daemon. They're not him. They're not -him-, Daemon, they're just regular wasps." Alexis might be trying to convince herself as much as Daemon, and she's quite deliberately -not- looking at the man who's got wasps crawling in and out of his armour. Just in case that might trigger some horible memories she packed away, very far away.
The small group of Abandoned hunters come out of the woods, they're utterly mesmerized by the sight of Daemon writhing around fighting the wasps. And then their eyes go to Jonathan up on in the trees. Then they go to Paige. "We speak Arvani." Replies the fellow in charge, guarded and uncertain. They're not truly ready to shed blood however until they see Norwood's sword. Then there's a snarl, "/Laurents/." Not a popular noble family around here. Lots of bloodshed on both sides.
Jonathan, hissing and spitting curses as the wasps sting him, is thankfully spared /too/ much hurt due to his full-body armor. But wasps are small, and get in cracks. "I swear to the Gods I will declare a crusade on all wasps, and burn your memories into dust, you hard-shelled little pieces of-" But then the rope is cut and he's falling...Right into the middle of the gathering, rolling with his impact to go to one knee right before the group of shavs. "Oh." Looks to Norwood, then to them. Hears the snarl. And his hand tightens on his spear.
At //Laurents// Norwood is just going to draw Queensguard all the way and hold the sword out before him. "Got a problem with that?" Norwood isn't going to MOVE agressivly, but if they are going to spit out his house name then they can see more of the Diamondplate sword.
"Stop flailing. Stop flailing, you're just pissing them off!" Jael calls over her shoulder, but then her attention is drawn back to the hunting party and her hands go in the air even as Norwood draws his sword. "Hello!"
Paige quickly steps in front of Cristoph, sending the knight a LOOK. Turning back towards the group of shavs, she runs a hand across her scalp, touching the tattoo and letting out a breath. "We're not here to harm you. We cam eo tsee what sort of state the building and grounds here are in. I'm sure if we -all- put our weapons down for a moment, we don't have to shed blood tonight." NORWOOD. SQUINTEYE. Looking back to Jael, she shrugs slightly and keeps trying, "I know there is bad blood. I know you've been mistreated. But that is not our purpose. We are not here to harm you."
Daemon is less than helpful once the other shavs show up. In fact, he's barely cognizant that more have come at all. Alexis' words do seem to at least rumble his senses a little bit, as the man is soon no longer flailing and instead just crouched down low. His arms covering his head as the wasps buzz around, hard and labored breathing being sucked in through his lips and exhaled through his teeth. He's not a very knightly representation of anything in this state.
Alexis doesn't put away her sword, but she does lower it, letting the tip rest against the ground, and placing her hands atop the cross-hilt. Ignoring the wasps as best she is able. "This doesn't have to end in bloodshed," She agrees. "We can go our separate ways, after a nice conversation."
The man standing in the front of the group all but bares his teeth at Norwood. "Yeah, you here to kill some more of my people?" He takes a deliberate and aggressive step forward to Norwood. Which is when he hears that cheerful hello from Jael and he studies her bee-decorated armor from a distance. He hisses, "More of you!" The whole group would really like to kill them now but he's brought up to a pause when Paige steps in front talking to him. "/That/ one has his sword drawn. He might want to put it away, it seems one of your knights would be too distracted to fight. The state of the lands is /fine/. We take care of it /fine/."
Jonathan stands, his spear most definitely in his hand (it's too big to really put away, after all), but not aimed at the shav group. However, as sting-riddled as he is, he takes a single step, and places himself in front of the shav leaders, tilthing his head to the side but keeping his words simple and quiet. "We can fight well enough. But how about we not do that today? I don't think anyone would like that. I know I wouldn't." But he doesn't move or back down, all the same.
Eyes on the bunch of shavs, Jael asides to Daemon, "Move over towards me. Slowly, straight line. Then take off your helm. Slowly."
"The fact that you know Queensguard and our symbols hints that you are not peaceful settlers intent on caring for the land." Aka, they ain't farmers. Norwood isn't about to put Queensguard down or lower him. "This land belongs to the Laurent family." Period. End of story. Norwood isn't up for more talking.
A quick, momentary closing of Jonathan's eyes at Norwood's words, and his grip on his spear tightens. When they open, he stares right at the shav leader, his gaze intense and focused and seeming to brace himself.
"I'm Dame Alexis Wyrmfang, the Sword of Blancbier and Paragon of the Gold Order of the Dragon," Alexis offers, her voice quiet. "And I really don't want to fight you today. Can we find some sort of middle ground here? Sir Norwood, would you at least consent to lower your sword a little? A gesture of good faith?"
An INCH. Alexis gets an INCH of lowering. But seriously, no more. Jael's fallen into a pit. Jonathan's been strung up, and Daemon's been attacked by wasps. Norwood has no faith in talk.
The wasps are still around by the way! But the nice thing about wasps is that they /don't/ discriminate. They're as happy to torture good, Gild loving knights like Daemon as they are random Abandoned hunters in the woods. They start flying around the group and sting a couple of them too for good measure, causing them to dance around like the other group and begin to curse in Oathlands shav. The leader isn't as easily distracted and he focuses on the people in front of him, batting a wasp away. Angry eyes are turned onto Norwood, mildly mollified when he lowers his sword a whole inch. "You wouldn't know anything about peaceful settling, old man." He states to Norwood before his eyes cut to the other too. "If you're so intent on looking this land over, I'd just quit now while you're ahead. There's a big tribe that's moved into the Keep. They'll shoot you with arrows before you get anywhere near it. If the dead duke couldn't hold onto this piece of land, the dandy pup doesn't have a chance."
Daemon is doing his best slow crawl over to Jael, hopefully some of the wasps having dissipated when he'd stopped moving around so much. But who knows, he is such a stingable target after all. Once he's beside Jael, his helmet is peeled off. Little welts are covering the poor man, beneath his beard and across his cheeks. A few landing in the scar-tissue left behind from one such battle a year prior too. He looks sufficiently miserable, his hair disheveled and fallen loose in all manner of places. He's sweating and still hyperventilating. All those Shav threats are falling on deaf ears till he's back to his senses.
Norwood checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 4 lower.
Just ignore the wasps, Alexis, it's worked so far. Nobody is exploding today. Nobody is turning into another hive. And hey, they're geting useful information. She gives a nod of thanks to the man. "Nonetheless, we're here to explore and see what we can find out. And we're grateful for the help. Do you know anything more about this tribe? Would you be willing to share?" She inquires, exhaling, looking between Jael and Daemon, and Norweood, Paige, and Jonathan. Taking a step closer to the Knight of Solace. The bonds of battle meaning she'll protect him first, if needed. Though she thunks the Daughter back against the ground. No threat here, just a tiny woman with a massive sword.
Paige looks relieved when the shav are willing to take the olive leaf Norwood offered. She lifts a brow at his words, however and is quick to ask, "Do you know how many? Are they all archers? The keep should have multiple entrances, if there's enough of them, they can't possibly cover them all. We'd love to get them cleared out. Its no skin off your nose either way. If we succeed, they're out of your hair too. If we fail, well, we won't be coming back this way anyways."
"Oh gods," Jonathan murmurs at the mention of 'dandy pup', glancing back to Norwood as he murmurs toward the Shav leader, "Really should watch your words, my friend. I mean it when I say we don't want to fight today." He seems braced for Norwood taking that badly, really. He does seem to hearten at Paige's words, but stands ready to spring, should this turn sour.
"//Duke// Edmund Laruent, and //Duke// Cristoph Laurent." Norwood says the name very, very, very slowly. Clearly there's some heat there at the disrespect being thrown about. It's a good thing that both Alexis and Paige are talking. Norwood can't in honor attack when there is //talking//.
"Sir Daemon, I'm so sorry." And the Lady Laurent pauses for a moment, expression compassionate...then hauls back and aims a slap at a wasp crawling on Daemon's face. If the shavs weren't quite sure what to make of the situation before...this probably isn't helping. She looks back the the parlay over her shoulder then. "We can help you. I'm the Duke's sister, I speak on his behalf."
"They're all murderers to me." The shav replies to Norwood, clearly enjoying getting under his skin. "Man couldn't even come down here himself. Sent his underlings." He sneers at the Sword of Artshall, faring much better with the two women even as he chuckles when Jonathan tells him to watch his words. Then of course, there's Jael slapping Daemon in the face. He frowns at both of them and that frown deepens at 'sister'. "Of course you are. I don't need your help. We move around, we hunt, we trap. We live. Stay out of our damn way." There's still the matter of the keep itself and he shrugs. "I couldn't tell you how many are in there and I doubt they're all archers. There's a big wall around and the gates stay closed. There might be some other entrances. But you'd have to find them. That pile of rocks has an old door on it." And he points to the outcropping of rocks. "If you want to die in a cave in. We heard it's an escape tunnel. You Compact dogs really are cowards."
Jonathan checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 11 lower.
Norwood checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 6 higher.
"Excuse me?" Jonathan's voice is as cold as ice as he takes a step, getting right into the shav leader's face with spear in hand, the so-very-sharp steel tip hovering over the man's head (but still not aimed at him, he's just holding it). "You do not call the Laurents cowards. You do not /ever/ call Sir Norwood a coward. You /will/ apologize for that slight, right now." Staring right into his eyes (or up at them, Jon isn't /that/ tall, really).
Paige checked strength + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 20 higher.
"OW!" Daemon seems to come right back around when he's promptly slapped and a pair of wings and stinger are mashed against his face. He rubs the desiccated insect off his cheek. "Good heavens, I'm still alive! I swear it! Please don't hit me again..." The buzzing in his suit of armor is a little less pronounced now, and he's even making a climb to get to his feet. It's only now that he's realized the stand-off that besets them. "I... Oh dear. Please, do not tell me we're about to come to blows after those flurry of traps...? Surely, there's a better solution."
Norwood is back to being cool and collected. At least on the surface. He can be pissed as hell where NO ONE CAN SEE. "We're not here to help //you//." Norwood's tone is cool and a bit distant. Someone tell him to ask what Margerie would do here - and then do it. His gaze flicks towards the stones then back to the hunters. Oh Jonathan, //come on//. Norwood steps forward also, this time to grip his squire's shoulder, though not to pull Jonathan back less he take the man off center and put him in more danger. "Thieves and scum can't scratch my honor. Back off Jonathan." It's not phrased as a request.
Paige stares wide-eyed at Jonathan for a moment before hurriedly rushing over. One hand clamps over his mouht, while the other grips his bicep. She flashes a brief smile towards the shavs. "Door int he rocks, maybe other openings in the wall, possible cave-in.. got it, thank you! We'll be going now!" She starts dragging her cousin off without any further ado, sending Norwood a pleading look to please, PLEASE follow.
"Mrghflrgleppfffmp" Jonathan puts in helpfully as he is grabbed by two people and summarily pulled away from the shav, looking quite irritable about it.
Jael investigates a smear of bug on her gloved hand, then offers Daemon a weak little smile. "I am very sorry. That's the only one I saw." Let's just say she doesn't hear the insults to her family name at this juncture. Better that way. She offers the poor knight a hand up, for all the good it might do. "I think we're going." Paige says so.
Alexis, too, is happy to ignore the insults. "Thank you for your aid. I'd offer you ours in turn, but from the way you've treated I'm afraid I'd do nothing but insult you by so doing." She offers to the leader. Ignoring, as best she can, the tumult around her. It's not very effective, what with her glancing over at Norwood and Jonathan and such. "Gods and Spirits favour you." She adds, almost absent-mindedly.
The man is very smug when Jonathan has to be hauled away. His work here is done! And then a wasp stings him. "OW!" He slaps his neck and stars to dance as the insects harry him and his people. "Yeah, get out of here!"
Norwood might be pulling Jon away, but he also isn't putting his back to the men. "This land will be reclaimed, and soon." Cold dignity color's Norwood's words. "You had best consider leaving, or bending the knee," Hopefully they hear that.
"Oh, leaving?" Daemon inquires of Jael. "Yes, leaving. I can do leaving. I would like to be away from here. Very far away. Please, let us away from the wasps."
as soon as Paige lets go of his mouth, his cheeks aflame with anger and embarrassment and multitudes of wasp stings, Jonathan /glares/ at his cousin. "I was /going/ to back up when Norwood ordered me to," He responds, still a bit coldly, although less agitated than he was, the laughter of shavs ringing in his ears. "Now lets get back, so we can do something bloody useful around here."
"They're a hunting band of shav'arvani. Near as we can tell, not related to the keep group. Though if they are, we'd best be prepared for ambush in that tunnel." Alexis notes. Rolling her shoulders, sending chain a-jingle. "Sir Norwood had the right of it - being called a coward by them matters little at all. And they were trying to get a rise. If we had gone for them, I expect they'd've fallen back and used their bows on us." She points out. Then groans. "...Duke Arn is getting to me."
While there were certainly some mishaps along the way, everyone comes out of this trip alive. Even if they do have some wasp stings all over their persons. The hunting band lets them go peacefully and they don't encounter the group from the keep. They do leave with some useful information, the keep is occupied (bad), they have the gates on lock (bad), there might be a tunnel to get in (good but might also be bad).
"Do you suppose they might be agreeable to talking?" Daemon inquires of the lot of them, nursing one of his big red marks against the side of his face. "Not the ones in this Keep, but those still around it. They seemed rather angry. But any temper can be coerced to a chill, no?" He shrugs. "We'll have to see I suppose!"
"Someone would need to be willing to give ground in good faith. Accept wrongdoing or otherwise make a gesture out of it." Alexis notes. "...And with no guarantee of return."
A grunt fron Jonathan, still thoroughly angry about the entire affair at the end, but sticking close to Norwood even as his skin puffs up in many places with wasp stings. He is silent otherwise though, his turning thoughts behind his lips.
"I'm sure Reigna has something for stings," Jael reassures as the gang falls back, listening to the others talk options for future endeavors.
"Duke Edmund tried to reclaim this land for years." Norwood says flatly, eyes flicking back at where the others retreated to. "It would take a master negotiator to cross the bad blood that exists between Laurent and... them." Norwood puts a shiz ton of derision into that word. "They're no better than bandits."
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