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You Don't Stop: Something Stirs

Near the southwestern border of Riven lands, is an area known as Mother's Marsh. It is a dark place, often avoided by the locals due to a sinister reputation as a stronghold for a tribe of Abandoned known as the Guardians. The tribe is fiercely defensive of their territory, but as of late they seem keen on expansion, having waged a number of raids on those traveling on the outskirts of the Marsh along the Great Road. They are getting bolder, and the last raid saw the kidnapping of a Peer. Clearly the time has come to deal with these Abandoned.

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The start of a plot arc for the Riven family and their vassals and/or friends. If you want to participate, you'll need to ask Mia or Thesarin and get an invite. This is going to be a long arc with multiple sessions, so there is plenty of time and opportunity to participate!

Date

July 28, 2019, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Reigna

GM'd By

Reigna

Participants

Brannen Mia Irisa Thesarin Orrin Scythia Kaldur

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - The Twainfort - Mother's Marsh

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


As the fighting through the Crownlands begins winding down and people are starting to return to their various territories after the battles, the letter from Remus arrived, speaking about his missing daughter, Larelle, her transport ambushed on the Great Road near the northern most part of the Mother's Marsh. Lord Remus has reached out to his liege and neighbors, asking assistance in locating his kidnapped child. By all indications, Lord Remus Wolfhall was making plans to head immediately there, and hope to meet his liege's party there.

By the time the group arrives, Lord Remus is there, a trio of guards standing near the clearly aggitated lord who is pacing back and forth by the side of the road. The day is waning, but there are a couple of hours of light left still.

The Godsworn Knight of Solace, Sir Brannen, is a natural loan to the situation. He had only just recently returned from time patrolling the roads, a service of many months. Though he is not the best friend of any in the group, previous, it is clear from the first moment he arrives that he is there to protect them with his life and keen attention. He seems a little on the dour side, but one can't argue too much against roadworn protection.

When Mia arrives, it is mounted on horseback, flanked by her usual array of guards -- and quite a few members of the local Counties. A dark frown paints her face, a change from its usually carefully neutral cast. Perhaps it's the worrying situation. Perhaps she still expects danger on the road, given that she's clad in armor rarely worn off the parade grounds. That in itself may say as much about current events as her expression does. One gloved hands lifts in greeting. "Lord Remus. Any word or signs of the lady?", she asks with a hopeful note in her voice.

Before the whole parlay, Irisa had taken time to carefully clean and shine everything. She wanted to make sure she looked smart and such for the sit-down with Generalisimo Importante. Not many people would pick her out as a Prodigal. Not many people know if she really is. Others, like the General, just don't care and decide it for you. And try to kill you. Its very rude. How rude? SO rude. Rufe enough that you just lop off their head. And unfortunately when that happens, blood gets everywhere. All over your shiny armor. And face. And hair. UHG. That's the worst part. The battle afterward left her coated in a pattern of blood and brown mud that is interspersed with the random leaf and treebranch. At least she managed to get a towel over her forehead. The diamondplate rests on her hip, riding behind Mia and Thesarin.

Thesarin is rather clearly back from the wars. A sutured cut on his face, bandages wrapped around his left arm, a few stains on his cloak with origins best left unquestioned. He's riding in the saddle looking as grim as ever, proud and upright. Usually, in Arx, he looks exactly like a shav that's dressed up like a Crownlands nobleman; in the field, he looks nothing like a Crownsworn nobleman at all. Tattooed arms bare, with a string of bone and stygian beads in his hair, with plated skirts of hide around his thighs; the man looks exactly like a crownlands shav warrior, albeit one who can afford a better class of armor. (At least he's washed off the paint from his face after the battle ended.)

Orrin arrives with Scythia and Kaldur, of course, though somewhat behind Mia and her entourage; more proximate to her lands, she's in the lead. There are murmurs as the guards and the Wolfhall lord come into view, and he slows at some distance, giving a look around - perhaps to provide a margin for the conversation Mia sets off, and perhaps to establish some vague sense of security out in the open, here.

Scythia's traveling ridiculously light - for her. Far more light than some of the trips across the Crownlands. She has in her retinue a man who looks as though he would fare far better in the sea than the land, but Captain Bryon will have to make due with his guard service. He hangs to the back though while Scythia? She's very content to be at her husband's side where she has been through most of this journey. A little bit on the quiet side - she tends to get chattier in the evening hours, or when engaging with Orrin himself, but overall she's far more prone to quiet contemplation. Now though? Watching this interaction? She's clearly taken an interest, listening as she might to the interaction with the lord.

Kaldur breaks from the knot of Selikis to draw rein next to fellow Knight of Solace, Brannen, giving the dour knight a nod, eyes trained on the nervous lord and the Countess, taking cues from the both of them. He sits easily in the saddle. Dumpling as calm and unruffled as ever, swishes her tail. There are flies. Always flies.

Remus is an older lord, pushing close to forty with more than a little silver further lightening sandy hair. His face is weary, worried, his weathered skin ruddy from a lifetime of sun exposure, his gray eyes ringed in lashes bleached nearly white by the sun. When he spies Mia and her party he straightens as much as his posture allows, the stump of his left arm bookended by a wooden forearm and hand, laying stiffly at his side. "My liege! Thank you for coming." His voice is raspy, sounding tired. "I sent a tracker ahead with one of the hounds. They should be back any minute now." He looks to those beyond Mia and offers shallow bows to the Seliki, "Count Seliki, your aid will never be forgotten." The Knight of Solace gets a grateful look as well, "And you, good sir. Thank you."

Brannen bows politely to Lord Remus, and offers his fellow knight of Solace another, along with a tap of his fist, briefly, against his breastplate. "Sir Brannen Harthall." he introduces, with a finality, like he's perfectly content to glean names. He stops once he gets in closer and crosses his arms over his chest with a clank. He has his horse by the reins, giving it a break from hauling his armored ass around for a few minutes.

Mia shakes her head slowly, making her long braid sway. "I'd not accept any thanks until your girl is found well and whole, my lord," she replies, swinging one leg over the back of her horse to dismount with something of a clank. The weight of rubicund does not sit easily on the Countess' slender frame. "We've brought the hounds with us as well. They're young still, but I've not yet seen better noses than a Keaton hound can claim."

"Yes, nothing of it," Orrin agrees, giving a sidelong glance to his son wandering off to Brannen. Then he's looking to Scythia and then offering an arm for her to approach with him. "Have you learnt anything about the circumstances under which she went missing?" he asks the aging (ahem) lord. Groundwork.

Irisa watches the Lord for a moment while people talk. Once the Countess dismounts, the Knight begins looking around. Her eyes glance through the woods, down the road both ways, looking for someone or something that may be approaching. Quiet for the moment, no introductions made. The normally sunny and delightful woman is very dour and cold at the moment.

When that arm is offered to her, naturally Scythia is accepting it. The young lady is settling her fingers lightly upon Orrin's forearm and approaching with him. Unlike her husband, she does not speak, but she dips into an exceptionally practiced curtsy by way of greeting.

Kaldur dismounts as well, plates of his armor rasping, using Dumpling's great barrel body to conceal the not-at-all-subtle secret salute of the Sly Greaves to Dame Irisa. Forgive him, there are precious few moments left when the man will not bear the heavy mantle of leadership, it's all the fun leaving his body nearly at once.

"Count, Countess. Lord Kaldur." Thesarin gives a low nod toward the Selikis, and then turns toward Remus with a low grunt. "Baron Wolfhall. Came soon as we could." The grim Prodigal steps off his own horse, settling on the ground beside Mia, looking more comfortable than she does (and practically rattling with each step, under the assorted weapons he's strapped to him). He looks toward the marshes, and then turns to give another ponderous nod toward Brannen. The glacial shift of his attention slides back toward Remus. "Aught word come from the raid? How many, or from which way?"

The bay comes from the southeast, a weak sound, ending on a whimpering whine. Remus looks about to answer when that sound comes and his brow furrows. He looks to his men and asks, "Is that Heathro?" The guards seem to nod and there comes that weak canine sound again.

Mia's head swivels, quickly, at the familiar sound of a dog's bay. Whether it's found something or something is terribly wrong, it seems they have their answer as to which way the tracks have lead. "How many men did you send with him?," she asks, gripping the reins tight, ready to return to the saddle at any moment. Vigilance, the large hound that's with her, seems to have taken this as a signal that the hunt is on and tilts back her head to let out a howl of reponse.

"Three." Remus asks as he peers into the thick foliage. The vegetation is beyond thick, the bushes wild, kudzu creeping along the edges of the bushes and clinging to tree trunks. The sound of the baying is a little closer, but not as close as if the dog were moving at full speed.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 30 higher.

Kaldur checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Scythia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.

Irisa spies the secret signal and flashes it low in return, something of a smile on her face. A sort of familiar look to her normally bright features. But the sound of the dog? She rides around, ready to put herself between arrows and the Countess.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Orrin checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Brannen checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 60 higher.

Brannen parts his lips and looks towards the sound as the Count does. He lifts his bearded chin. Blue eyes look distantly for a moment, then he shifts his attention to Mia. At the sound of concern, he leads his horse towards the line of foliage, wordless and efficient.

Kaldur flashes a smile at Irisa, draining away at the weak baying. He moves to remount, Dumpling standing placidly for the dismounting and mounting in rapid succession. He checks the draw of his blade, fit of his gauntlets, helm, chin strap, his seat in the saddle, gauntlets again, flare of his skirt just so that it doesn't catch, gauntlets a third time (because tradition) and it is amid this long ritual of battle readiness that he misses whatever it is everyone else doesn't.

Orrin gives a dip of his head to Thesarin, then attends the sounds - dogs shouldn't sound like that, should they? He peers off the direction of the sound, then turns to Scythia, rubbing his beard a moment. He's not taking his mount, here yet; he's watching the periphery, not searching out the source and path of the braying near so much, easily letting others slide into roles best suited for them. There's a quiet murmur, there, to her.

Kaldur checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 1 lower.

Thesarin turns toward the sound with a grimace and a flare of his nostrils, and he reaches to pluck the rubicund helmet he'd set on his saddlebags. "Best have a look. Irisa--mind the Countess." He keeps on foot, and pulls on his helmet as he goes; where his moments had been ponderous and measured before, he has a surprising amount of speed when he's set his mind to something.

When the call of the bay comes, Scythia is swiftly looking back toward her husband, her brow arched. When he murmurs to her, she steps closer to him, hesitates, and nods by way of agreement. No moving to her borrowed stallion just yet.

There are enough people able to navigate through the thick vines and treacherous underbrush to find the direction the dog's howl was coming from to find the hound. It's a speckled coon hound, lanky body laying in a nest of leaves, a long jagged cut along its side, slowly seeping blood. It is struggling to breathe, clearly choking on something, the barks weaker as it struggles and hacks, before finally horking up a bit of... well. Something. It's slimy and covered in bile, but the dog is breathing more easily, though still injured.

"I doubt he'd be coming back this way to follow a scent," Mia murmurs darkly, passing the reins of her horse to one of her guards. "More like he's hurt, by the sounds of it. Be on your guard." She could be wrong, of course, but, well...

"Yes, Chief." The words from Irisa are quick. She looks over to the Countess to just meet eyes with her. I'm watching youuuu. She will not try to corral the Countess anywhere, but Mia will find Irisa welded to her side with her sword drawn.

Brannen leaves the horse behind. It looks like he practically just orders it to stay with a stern look. But there are presumably a couple guards or soldiers that can linger to take care of them there horsies. When they are able to come across the dog, he turns away from it, looking at the underbrush around them. His sword slides from the sheathe and he takes up a position opposite Kaldur and Irisa, trying to protect as much of their flanks as possible. "Dog didn't kill it...its still out there." he says, darkly, and slowly.

It's strange when Dumpling whickers. It means something is amiss or of great interest. Kaldur sees her pinned back ears and murmurs something reassuring, urging her forward with pressure from his knees. "Git up. C'mon girl." She doesn't move. And something is off. She is lurching a bit, whickering more, head tossing. A querulous sound sees Kaldur twisting in that saddle to peer and an hoarse holler, sort of words, not really. He dismounts, "Easy, easy." Dumplings diamondplate shod hoof is sinking into the squishy turf. Those horseshoes are great for long treks over stone, but maybe not so great on marshy ground. "Stand," he orders here and she, well trained as she is, does so. Trusting. Kaldur moves around to carefully navigate the muck - trying not to get stuck himself - and pull her leg free. "Looks like you're staying back, girl."

Mia checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.

Orrin watches the trouble with Dumpling and frowns, peering off after the rest. "We'll stay with her," he tells Kaldur, and then he's giving a chin toward Scythia - like: take her lead. He pulls his axe from his back; the group of guards are surely well-armed, but why take chances.

"Very well," murmurs Scythia, her voice a soft thing as she again casts a little look toward Orrin. There is something assessing there, considering, and afterward she is on the move to take hold of Dumpling's lead. Mind you, she takes care, showing the palm of her hand to the horse first, trying to stroke her along the neck to soothe her and keep her at peace.

Kaldur is overheard praising Fianna: For support and leadership.

"Ain't doubt it," Thesarin rumbles toward Brannen with a nod. He picks one of the small axes of his back, holding it at arm's length, looking through the trees with a frown, and standing over the dog and Mia as she works. "...this was reckoned an ill place, 'fore I left the Forests. Best be at our guard."

At the sight of poor Heathro, Mia crouches low, stiff leathers creaking as she does. Peeling one glove off with her teeth, she strokes the dog's head gently, whispering a gentle shushing noise to it, a soothing sound meant to calm its fears as she inspects the cut. An upnod indicates, well.. whatever he hacked up, left there to be inspected by another as she looks to keep the Wolfhall hound calm and steady. "Give me a few minutes and an extra set of hands to keep him still, and I can see him back to his master alive, most like," she murmurs.

Orrin checked intellect + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 3 higher.

Orrin is overheard praising Shazza.

Irisa checked intellect + animal ken at difficulty 30, rolling 10 lower.

Mia checked command + animal ken at difficulty 10, rolling 20 higher.

Irisa takes a few seconds out of her day to poke at what was horked up. Its on her boot right next to something else bloody, so it isn't like she is going out of her way to get messy. Not really identifying it, she makes a face and then looks back around through the trees while others talk. Not exactly a chatty knight in times like this.

Back with the guards and horses, Orrin finds a large stone to haul over, a fallen branch; he levers the branch over the stone, sticks it in the much under stuck hoof, and bears down, unwedging the hoof before chinning toward a patch of ground that looks a little firmer - cooperative effort with Scythia. He catches her eye a moment, and there's a lift of a brow, just as assessing, before he resumes sentry duty with his axe.

Reigna GM Roll checked perception(3) + survival(2) at difficulty 20, rolling 3 lower.

Whatever is it that Orrin is doing? Scythia just continues to hold the reigns of Dumpling as Orrin goes to make his little lever, the young woman watching curiously. Ah-hah, when she finally puts together what he is doing, she assists as she might and coaxes the horse forward, all the while murmuring praise to her.

Brannen is not trying to identify it...because he already knows what it is. A Threat. And everything really fits into only a few catagories with him and he's already brain-filed it appropriately! "Should end his pain. You don't know what infection he might be bringing back. Or if you do bring him back...keep him on a chain for a while...away from others." MEAN!

Mia's work on the dog is capable and while he will need to be stitched up more thoroughly later, the worst of the damage is patched up and the pup is likely to survive. Remus frets, his men roaming around him. He's just about to stride into the same patch of quicksand that trapped Dumpling when one of his guards spots it and catches him, "My lord! Why, ah, why don't we hold down the camp and let the others scout ahead for the others? We can keep an eye on Heathro and I'm sure the Countess will bring little Larelle back to us."

"Wolfhall say if he'd set the hounds alone?" Thesarin is still looking over the woods. The blob of... whatever that had been coughed up doesn't seem to command much of his attention; he's standing on guard, ready for an attack. After a moment, he takes a knee, to set a heavy hand on the dog, pressing down with solid strength to keep it as still as he can while Mia works. He looks up toward Brennan with a frown.

Mia's brow furrows at the little ball of bile-coated mess that Irisa nudges with her boot. "....snakeskin?," she suggests to the Riven knight, before looking back to the dog. "What in the world are you eating leathers for, huh, boy?" The stitches she places are quick ones, not meant to be pretty or minimize some fine, proud lady's scars, but to keep him from bleeding out there and then. And likely to keep him from biting Thesarin while she works. "Lord Wolfhall's guards can take him back with them," she says firmly. "And if it proves to be infected, or he becomes dangerous, we'll deal with it then. Until then, I've had quite enough of blood these last few days." Brannen most certainly receives a furrowed brow. "We should find the three men that should've been with him."

Kaldur continues to murmur soothing words to Dumpling, handing the reins to Scythia with a nod of thanks to her and his father for their quick thinking and help. He presses a gauntleted hand to Scythia's shoulder saying something quietly to her before moving to help his father as he can with extracting the mired hoof. "Aye, careful. Treacherous ground here. I'd be obliged if you could see to her safety, Baron." Kaldur says to Remus and the gathered soldiers, bowing.

Orrin checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 11 higher.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 30 higher.

Kaldur checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.

Snakeskin. Irisa glances down to Mia, then looks around more. She's always moving her head and eyes, never in a predictable way. "Chief, Count Orrin, do we know anyone that uses snakeskin leathers for armor? Is it common with the local Shav'arvani tribes?"

Irisa checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 20 higher.

Remus looks a little tense, like he's going to fight the request to stay back. But he looks at his freshly lost arm and the dog and the others. He grits his teeth and nods, "My thanks. Yes. I will hold down the camp. Keep an eye on the dog. Please... find my daughter. She is only thirteen. I..." He cuts himself off, but the emotion is raw on his face. He nods to his guards and walks with them back to the road.

Brannen checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 8 lower.

Scythia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.

Brannen moves towards the edge, trying to find the trail of the men that left the wolfhound, though he's just not in the right area. He peers deeper into the woods, listening, but to little avail.

Orrin checked intellect + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 6 higher.

"We'll see to her, Lord Wolfhall." There's a wince at the mention of Larelle's age, one she tries to keep in check. Not much younger than her own daughter and heir. Mia pushes herself back onto her feet, wiping her hands on her tunic, or what little bit of it pokes out from underneath her armor. "It may not be snakeskin. But if it isn't, then it's from a lizard larger than I've ever seen," she replies, thin shoulders shrugging faintly. The marshlands are not well-settled, and she doesn't visit them often. Dark eyes trail the the Selikis. "Are you comfortable on foot?"

To whatever it was that Kaldur murmured to her, Scythia is flashing him a smile after a beat, dipping her head before she refocuses upon the poor beast. She's trying to tend to her as best as possible. To the query posed by Mia, Scythia's offering forth a weak little smile. "More than on horseback, my lady."

"Baron. I got four children. You an' yours are under Riven's protection. I know the weight o' this." Thesarin stands, still frowning, and looks over the ground, taking a few slow steps as he goes. He gives a low, rumbling grunt, and a short nod. "Tracks this way. Anyone going, keep to me. And step careful--ain't need folk drowning in the bog." He starts off, moving slowly and carefully through the growth. He looks over toward Irisa with another of his grunts. "We just kept away from the place." He keeps on with anyone following, moving like a wolf at the hunt, with every step, and then pauses at the sight of something on the ground. "The fuck..."

Orrin - distracted by his searching eyes, the interaction between Scythia and Kaldur drawing just a moment's glass - blinks, thinking. "Er," he calls toward Irisa: "There's... rumors. Of some that wear reptilian armor, some hissing four-legged swamp creature." A pause, then: "Do watch out."

"Ehm, I'm best mounted, but I'll be able to keep up." Famous last words. He's strong as an ox, and about as deft navigating a swamp as one. He checks the draw of his sword again, his gauntlets (once, twice, thrice) and gives a nod to Remus, his father, and Thesarin, falling in, flanking with Sir Brannen and Dame Irisa. Sly Greaves, HO! Squish. Squish. Squish. Snag. Grunt. Squish. Squish.

"I doubt we'd be much better moving through the muck via boat, Countess, or I would offer," Mia replies, with something vaguely reminiscent of an attempt at humor. The first of the day, and quite likely to be the last, given the circumstances. Orrin's words wipe away whatever trace of it there is and she mutters low, "I much prefer tracking shadow hinds than swamp monsters, when it comes to obscure creatures lurking on my lands. But thank you for the warning."

Irisa spares herself a glance back to Orrin. She looks him over and nods slowly. "It would not be the first time I've fought a giant four legged beast with Chief. I never thought the first would be the last." She looks back and stays close to Mia. As they walk, she follows the gaze of others to the ground and frowns. "If this is the path of solid ground, then what else would use the path? Watch for traps," she tells whomever is in the lead.

Brannen is following Thesarin! Once the path is shown, he's on his way with the others. Sword drawn, moving well in his armor. He's not sneaking anywhere, that's for sure. He steps on hillocks, where he can, sword still drawn unless it becomes truly terrible terrain.

As the group following Thesarin reach the bottom of a small hill, it would appear that they have lucked into relatively safe and solid land. The slope is mild at first, the ground hard, jagged bits of rock occasionally breaking the surface. The kudzu isn't as thick here, trees growing more thinly. There is a definite path leading forward, though soon enough there is a massive carved stone that sits on the side of the path. A great maw, carved teeth lining the top and bottom, with bits of shiny yellow pyrite and mica affixed like great lantern eyes at the top of the long, flat head.

Kaldur checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 23 lower.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 23 higher.

Brannen checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.

Irisa checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 4 lower.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 3 higher.

Mia is overheard praising Irisa.

Mia is overheard praising Thesarin.

Mia is overheard praising Mihaly.

Kaldur tips his head at the stone, squinting, peering at it shoulder to shoulder with Irisa. "Does that look like a rabbit to you?"

Mia is overheard praising Reigna.

Mia is overheard praising Scythia.

Mia is overheard praising Orrin.

Mia is overheard praising Kaldur.

Mia is overheard praising Brannen.

Brannen is overheard praising Mia.

Scythia is overheard praising Mia.

Brannen is overheard praising Kaldur.

Scythia is overheard praising Laric.

Scythia is overheard praising Kaldur.

Scythia is overheard praising Orrin.

Back at the road, Orrin seems quite comfortable keeping an eye out for trouble that comes along; apparently he feels quite confident in a trio of knights and a few Rivens handling something that wounded a dog. There is no color commentary to offer Scythia or Lord Remus - just a shushing of Dumpling, now and again as he watches out.

Thesarin lurches, suddenly. The axe in his hand falls to the ground, the hand that had held it palm-down to catch him, breaking his fall. His eyes close and his teeth grit together, giving the impression that he's fighting back a powerful impulse to vomit. His breath is steady, but labored, and hissing between his teeth with obvious disgust.

Irisa doesn't look to Kaldur, but she does look at the object on the ground. "I don't want to visit a place where rabbits look like that. That thing is entirely too cuddly. Its definitely a kitten." Firm nod. Irisa looks around at the potential seating but is not going to be plopping down anytime soon. Annnnd then Thesarin goes down. She brings the sword up and gets ready to swing, moving next to Mia.

Though Orrin is busy watching warily on the road, Scythia is not actually taking up post. No, she finishes soothing Dumpling until she has settled properly and afterward goes to her travel satchel. Some of the water is poured to handkerchief and she uses that to tend to her hands and clean them before acquiring a pouch of hardtack biscuits. One is acquired for her to nibble on as she waits. A chunk of salami is eventually cut and she does not indulge herself, rather wordlessly she is offering Orrin lunch.

As Thesarin's group reaches the top of the hill, and push through the outer treeline, a grisly scene is revealed. At the crown of the hill is a meadow, a circle of carved stone pillars, holes carved in the tops to hold torches. Those present are unlit, the sky still illuminated by the setting sun, streaks of orange and pink stretching across the vault of the sky. In the center of the circle is a low flat rock, deeply carved channels forming runnels that are black with old blood, though a fresh layer smears tacky red as if recently passed through with a fresh quantity. Rope restraints are undone, situated at four points around the slab. A single curl of dark brown hair, slick on one end with blood lays across the gray stone.



There are three pinned figures spread on the ground, all wearing the livery of Wolfhall. They've clearly been beaten severely, their bodies spread eagled, restraints holding them down. None of them appear to be moving.

A picture of cooperation, Orrin eyes the offer of crackers and salami, and - yes, shifts his axe off-hand, and takes his lunch there, giving her a peevish look. Multi-tasking. He can keep look-out while also feeding himself. "Mind the ground," he tells her, which is as much as the silence has been broken since the rest left.

"A rabbit?," Mia asks, distracted from her curious examination of the terrain by Kaldur's suggestion. Consideration of it writes confusion across her face and her lips part to ask another question when the dull thud of her husband's axe sinking down into the dirt draws her attention. "Thesarin?," she asks, her voice rising to a new, higher pitch. For a long moment, it seems she's not even taken note of their surroundings as she moves to his side, one hand resting on his back, her face pinched with concern. But it's not the sort of scene that can be ignored for long and as the dark nature of it sinks into her thoughts, she draws him back from the crest, better to maintain some semblance of cover.

"The men!" exclaims Sir Brannen in a hushed voice to the others nearby. He comes up next to Thesarin and puts a gauntleted hand to his shoulder, a steadying and supportive gesture in silence, without anyone needing to get too mushy. His eyes try to scour the surrounds for signs that its a trap, but he seems quite eager to go release the prisoners. He looks to Mia. "Three go down, the others cover our way out of here? There is obviously...something terrible going on here, but those stones won't leave overnight..."

"Gods..." There's probably more in Kaldur's head, but after imagining rabbits, he is relatively unprepared for what they find at the top of the hill. He presses a wrist to his face, gauntleted hand blocked by helm as his stomach queases at the sight and presumptive activities that transpire here. He fans out, heedless of the danger, looking for any sign of who did this and where they might have gone. That the blood on altar is black and old he doesn't notice. Not fresh shed. Small thanks he doesn't know to give. No, he's got his sword out and has an expression as bleak as that dried blood.

"...this is... a bad place." Not a warning that seems like it needs to be given. Thesarin opens his eyes, with a look like he's holding back another wave of sick. He reaches to take Mia's hand, and--with some care to not drag her down--forces himself upright. He looks toward Mia with a nod, and then toward the scene in the circle. He gives a shake of his head, taking a single long, unsteady breath. "...see if they're alive." His tone doesn't seem to be filled with much hope.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 21 higher.

Orrin checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 1 higher.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 21 higher.

Back at the basecamp, Scythia has to behave appropriately in response to that peevish look cast her way from Orrin. She shoots him a look that is absolutely radiant, a sharp smile that goes well with the sparkle in her gaze. Why yes, she seems amused at his vexed expression. She also happens to look altogether too pleased with herself as she nibbles away on that biscuit. Silently. Eventually Dumpling will suffer her generosity as well, the horse scoring not only biscuits but apple. "I would like a dog, Orrin," she tells him, suddenly as she strokes the horse's neck. "Something massive, slobbery, and very mean to other people."

Brannen checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 7 higher.

Scythia checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 1 higher.

Kaldur checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 14 lower.

Dumpling is stolid under all the murmurs and assurances. She noses the biscuits, but is very interested in the apple, ears coming forward sharply. She is very polite though and only nudges at Scythia's hand, not trying to take the apple from her, or bite it where it sits.

"Lord Kaldur, wait!," Mia hisses, her voice low. Perhaps the Countess is simply paranoid, but given their findings, well. Is it so far-fetched to think that whoever may have done this violence may not be so far off? Once she's seen Thesarin back on his feet, she rises up onto her own. "Watch your feet," she instructs all of them, drawing her diamondplate blade. With an outstretched arm, she runs the flat of it along a wire, thin and well-hidden, among a cluster of trees several steps to their left.

Orrin manages to shoot Scythia a /Look/, more peevish by turns, having the salami before his eyes turn sharply - head not turning with it, of course, that would be overt. "We've a scout," he murmurs to her, low. "Move toward the Baron, we need to tighten up." Lunch break over; he marks the trajectory of that scout, shifting weapon back to dominant hand.

Kaldur's stomach is really uneasy, the grim sight, that weird rabbit stone. It rumbles. He sees some berries at the edge of the clearing that are bright and appetizing looking. "Hey, anyone know what these are?" He's making his way over there. What is it with Kaldur and berries and trouble? He taking one of those carefully checked and re-re-checked gauntlets off to gather up some of them.

Frowning slightly to something, Scythia's eyes graze across the area as she continues to stroke the horse and undoubtedly considers horse-sized drooly beasts. When the Pearlspire Count murmurs to her, she dips her head and draws back toward the Baron. He, however, is not offered biscuits.

Kaldur checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 38 higher.

Brannen looks over towards Kaldur as the man starts to move. He lifts his hand, then gestures towards the flat stone. "There is another one down there...a pit trap, by the stone. See the edge of it there, just in front of the stone." At Mia's warning, he avoids that direct area, and looks down, trying to make sure he's not stepping into them. "They want them...and whoever comes after them." His grip flexes on his weapon and he continues to look for a /safe/ way down that won't end in spikey doom.

"There's a snare. To the left o' the captives--where the path walks you." Thesarin rumbles out, as Mia moves to direct them away from the trap. He moves forward carefully, probing ahead with his axe, and then looks toward Kaldur as he reaches for the berries. "...this the fucking time?" He does look at the berries, to try and determine if they're anything particularly poisonous.

Irisa follows over by Mia, staying close. This is no time to abandon her post to the woman. She moves carefully, stepping where the countess steps, and moves to help her.

Kaldur's ears color at Thesarin's rebuke, "Stomach's rough, you look like you could us 'em tooOOAWHOA!" The ground shifts and falls away out from under Kaldur's feet and he leaps clear over it, backwards, rolling as he falls, long-practice bringing him back to his feet looking startled and shocked, blade trained on the trap like he might stab it. Berries crushed into dripping paste in his left hand. He blinks at them. "Ehm," he holds them out to Thesarin, sheepish offer, face still bleak, though, for the happenings.

"It a sacrifice," Mia states plainly, assumption though it may be. "I've seen blood sacrifices made to dark things before, along the border with the Northlands, where it was a griffin they meant to bleed out." Her voice has thickened and gone black as night at that memory. "But with nothing so precious to bleed out, it's likely they need more of it, from whatever source they can snatch from--," she trails off, turning sharply at the sound of Kaldur's stumbling cry. A lunge, but he's steady again before she can reach him. "Take care. You'll not want to be next."

[Baron's Camp] The Scout, seeing he is spotted, makes a break for it -- but not before he is seen, pointed out by the Seliki lord. He's cloaked in a dark green splotched and mottled cloak, the leather scaled and sporting a jagged bite taken out of one side, the size of a dog's mouth. The Wolfhall men give chase, but a vial is broken behind him, releasing a noxious stench and thick gasseous smoke, giving him a clean getaway.



[Hilltop] The traps are all discovered, Kaldur's via near miss. The berries are red currents. Probably. Once the other traps are dismantled, the path to the three guards is clear. The three men are alive, one is barely conscious, the other two are not.

Orrin clears his throat, tongue sweeping his teeth, as he tracks the scout with eyes only. The Wolfhall men's misadventure draws a disgusted noise, and he goes to collect them, leaving Scythia only briefly with the horse to come escort them back. "I saw which way he was going," he murmurs to the Baron. "When the others return we can track him."

Brannen weaves his way down, adrenaline thrumming through his veins as his eyes search constantly for attackers, and more traps. Once a route is clear though, he makes his way down to the men, using his sword and a quick thrust to release the bonds lashing them down. He works in silence, beyond a hushed instruction to the one that is awake to also remain quiet. Once a man is freed, he will sheath his weapon and bridal carry the man to the treeline, making sure that the others are getting the remaining two, of course!

Scythia's moving closer to guard, and her personal guard moving closer to her when she is temporarily abandoned. There's no further commentary from Scythia, nor is she eating. Her eyes scan the treeline instead in wary fashion just in case. Eventually she will ease, but for the moment she fidgets.

"They're breathing. Better'n I'd reckoned." Thesarin shakes his head, and looks toward Mia. "...if there's aught we need to do 'fore we move 'em, see it done. Ain't want 'em bleeding out 'fore we're back. I'll carry one; Kaldur, help the last. Irisa, keep watch." He looks at Kaldur with a short shake of his head and a grunt. "I'd not eat aught found here. This is a wrong place."

The Countess is not of the sort of strength and constitution to be able to carry a man fully-grown over one shoulder, nor in her arms. It seems she has little enough reason to make her way down towards the men, carefully picking a path between the traps already identified, than to see what can be tended and treated as quickly as possible to ensure that they stay breathing. "Get the hair?," Mia says to Irisa, a quick gesture towards the center stone. "It may be the girl's. Her father will know."

The berries probably WERE red currants. They're just a sticky paste now. He is keeping an arguably sharp eye out on the surroundings. Moving around the hilltop, poking his blade into the turf here and there. Wary of more traps. Not gonna surprise HIM again. At Thesarin's command, he nods, sheathes his blade and moves off the help the last of the men. Unbinding and lifting him carefully. Good in the woods, he is not. Tireless he definitely is, and he falls in with the last soldier gathered in his arms, to trail behind Thesarin. The solider whose going to have red currant (or whatever they are) stains on his uniform tunic.

Irisa does not reply to Thesarin. Nope, she just stands off and keeps her eyes open, looking around and peering through the thickets and down the slopes. The direction from her Countess, though, gets a nod. The only sound of a reply are her boots on stone as she cradles up the mess of hair into a hand and holds it there. Then back to watching. Vigilant.

The men are freed and carried back down the hill. The hair is able to be retrieved, one end of the lock tacky with drying blood. The trip back down the hill is easier than the climb, though there are parts in which balance is hard to keep for those carrying the men. Still, they are able to make it down the hill and through the claustrophobic greenery and back to the road. By the time they reach the Baron's camp, all three guardsmen are awake, if not alert. The one that has been conscious longest tries to speak, but it's hard, he's clearly concussed and the trip down the hill was kinda bouncy. Once he sees Lord Remus however, his face says it all. Failure and shame are stamped on his face and he cannot meet his lord's eyes. "We... we were too late, my lord. She was already being bled out when we arrived... we charged in but they had this smoke..."

"They had a scout with the same," Orrin says, gesturing up the direction the scout fled. "The guards that gave chase weren't able to continue through it. He wasn't heading toward you lot." He surveys, a moment, then shakes his head. "This isn't a good position," he says. "If there is a town nearby we should adjourn there and make a plan."

Brannen has a grim face normally, but at the news from the soldier, he doubles down on the expression, by now simply helping the awakened man walk by supporting him under the arm. He puts his hand over his face for a moment.

Kaldur's chest aches with the man's report, for him, for Remus. He glances at Brannen as they settle their charges in preparation to move somewhere safe - which is what he thinks is the best course of action, nodding along with his father. "Do you think they're well enough to ride? Or should we fashion litters." And by 'we' he means anyone else, wiping what looks like blood from his hand.

Thesarin listens to the soldier speaking, and takes a breath. Lets it out slow. His dour face matches Brannen's well, and he looks toward the soldier with a low grunt. "...if the scout escaped, they know we're here." He gives a nod toward Orrin, and looks back toward Remus. The Prodigal doesn't much look like a shoulder to cry on.

Mia sucks in a sharp, hissing breath at the words that fall from the wounded man's lips. It was not what she had hoped, but what she was afraid of. Gods above, what do you say to a man at a time like this? She's silent for a long moment, before she settles on, "....We will find them, Lord Wolfhall. And we will bring the Sentinel's justice down on them." Little comfort that may be, but.

"I agree...move on to the town. I can take one with me on the horse. Moving slow...we should be ok with them, and if they come back...we will be long gone." Brannen agrees with Orrin and Thesarin, answering Kaldur as well in the same breath. Efficiency! "Then we can learn more about the enemy...once they've rested."

The news hits Remus like a physical blow. The man's face is ashen, his pale eyes with their nigh invisible lashes widen in shock and he is simply stunned. His lips part but no sound comes, his knees tremble and for a moment he looks small, tiny, as though a light breez might knock him over. His grief is an unbearable thing, his remaining hand clenched into a fist, that pain transmuting slowly into rage. He looks up at the twilight sky and his pain is given voice, a roar of anguish, despair and rage bellowed like a challenge to the heavens themselves. Heathro's head lifts from the ground, thrown back as he howls alone with his master, as if lending his own voice to the pain. Once that roar is ended, he looks to Mia, his jaw tight, muscle flexed. "I believe you, my liege. We will find those that did this thing to my sweet girl." He looks back up at the sky, "Fly to the Queen, my Larelle."



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