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Heart of the Earth

The Red River clan has long cherished its independence, yet maintained friendly diplomatic relations with Stormwall. Recently, Karli an emissary representing the clan arrived in Stormwall. She tells of the desecration of one of their sacred altars deep in the mountains, and the theft of an enormous and ancient uncut ruby called the Heart of the Earth. She has asked for the help of the Rulers of Stormwall, who in turn have sought the help of adventurers from Arx. Karli has offered safe passage through Red River lands to those willing to investigate the site, and help return the sacred Heart.

[OOC: Investigation/Adventure PRP open to anyone. There will opportunities for combat, but those skills are not necessary. Feel free to send mail if you plan to join, or just come by if there are fewer than 6 at start time.]


Feb. 8, 2020, 8 p.m.

Hosted By


GM'd By



Ian Rowenova Rukhnis Blacktongue Jules Rosalind Oili Mikani



Outside Arx - Northlands near Stormwall - Red River Valley

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Ian gets hardened leather vambraces from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets a hinged star iron portrait case and chain from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets Vest with steel buttons from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets Crimson leather spaulder from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets a voluminous silk hood -usually kept pushed back- from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf from Oiled leather bag.

Ian gets custom fitted goggles from Oiled leather bag.

Jules checked perception + streetwise at difficulty 15, rolling 62 higher.

After a long ride through the forests, meadows and hills of Stormwall, the red-haired Karli guides the party into the Stormridge mountains of Western Stormwall. The village of Red River Clan consists of various low huts made of stone, brick and thatch. Even in the summer, the weather here is cool, and in the night, quite cold.

After entering the village, Karli introduces the party to a gray-haired woman named Sorcha, who greets them sincerely if with some reserve. "Welcome to Red River lands," she says. "We are preparing for the funeral of Heber, who pleased the spirits and the gods." Her Arvani is good, though she has a thick Northlands accent.

Sailors -- ISLES sailors who live in archipelagos -- are not, by nature, very good horsemen, and Ian is no exception. He can successfully not fall off as long as the horse doesn't go too fast, but otherwise, he's useless. Thankfully, someone found him a patient horse who realizes that he's a dumbass and pretty much ignores anything he tries to tell her to do in favor of what she ought to be doing right now. At least it gets him where he's going. Once at his destination, he half-slides, half-falls off the horse and crumples all the way to the ground, as his legs object to what he just put them through. The extremely patient horse remains patient while he uses her to lever himself back to his feet and get his cane from where it's stowed among his saddlebags.

Atop a grey horse with black points (also including the dorsal stripe which neatly travels from mane to tail under the light saddle), Scout Rowenova is taking point to some degree to always maintain a constant vigil for any potential threats which might endanger their adventuring party. Meanwhile, a Soulful Hound -- with tawny fur and greying muzzle (aka Sir Floppington) -- is moving along beside her. She quietly thanks Sorcha for her welcoming words and momentarily glances around from her mounted perch before ever dismounting.

It's upon the back of her faithful if nondescript dun gelding Grit that Rukhnis comes riding into the humble village of the clan. Making her usual complete lack of concession to any potential danger, she's wearing not a single patch of armour, though she is prepared with an alert gaze and a battered satchel of medical supplies and sundries. As the party enters the village, Rukhnis dismounts from her horse to offer a bow and her usual ceremonious greeting. "Sorcha, I greet you. It honours me to make your acquaintance. I am Rukhnis al-Katibi, minister of medicine for House Crovane." Inclining her head respectfully, she adds, "May the spirits and gods be as pleased to receive the soul of your Heber as they were to look upon him in life."

Blacktongue is somberly dressed as befits his usual habits and nods soberly at the welcome and stands quietly. A bit stiff but more because he's not so young any more. Remaining quiet for the moment he watches and listens respectfully.

Ian is liable to accidentally piss Sorcha off if he tries to say anything, and he knows this, and is taking care to be seen and not heard. The strange walk -- not a limp, but not quite right, either -- probably doesn't do much to reinforce confidence in him, especially following his terrible skills as a horseman. The scarf is still in his saddlebags, at least.

Jules enters alongside the group and his cheery disposition is sent not towards any one direction but towards any of the residents that will look his way. Likely he's learned the appropriate way to greet them, whether waving, bowing or leering cheerfully. As he makes his way towards Sorcha, he gives a bow towards her and says, "Your lands seem amazingly blessed by the rams and ewes. How utterly appropriate for the rugged beauty of your lands. Jules Fabron, your servant." He gives as his greeting. His expression has a strong look of amazement but it continues to return towards their host.

The matriarch Sorcha bows with grace and reverence to Rukhnis. "So may it be, Rukhnis al-Katibi." Her gray hair is bound in neat braids, and small tattoos in triangular patterns mark her face below her left eye.

Karli glances at Ian as he dismounts. She says softly to Rukhnis, "Will he be ok? He does not seem particularly steady on his feet."

Rosalind is walking! Well--prowling about here and there. Her bright red hair is covered by the feathers of her cloak. The northern is still looking rather pleasant as she looks about.

Jules loquacious and complimentary greeting brings a rare smile to the face of Sorcha. "You are most welcome, Jules Fabron. I am Sorcha, and this is my son, Finn," she says, gesturing to an athletic, blonde-haired man standing near her. Finn, not seeming particularly pleased to be there, offers Jules a nod.

After a brief scan, Nova momentarily rides in a short circuit around their arriving group and makes sure to pass along some relevant information to them, doing so in quiet tones and on an individual basis unless there are some of us who are 'more together' than others. She also includes Karli and Sorcha, too. "While riding in, I sensed there was another camp nearby, relateively large, which is most likely southeast of this village. I could sense the camp fire."

Rukhnis frowns slightly at Sorcha's quiet words, but then as she looks over her shoulder to see who the older woman is speaking of, she can't quite suppress a quiet snort. "You would be quite amazed to see what Lord Ian may do when he puts his mind to it," she tells Sorcha, still respectfully but with a hint of wry amusement as well. "Rest assured, you have no cause for concern. If anything, he is likely to be the one saving the rest of us from falling upon our faces."

Always at the rear, Oili leans into an overgrown arctic wolf from the northlands as it bounds through the forest and brings up the rear of the party. It prefers to ignore the path and duck in and out of the forest on the edge. At some point before the village, Oili and the wolf break off, but then walk up the rear of the path side by side. She's quiet as she approaches the group listening to the woman. The talk of spirits and passing on causes her to bring a hand up to a talisman at the hem of her cloak shaped like a bear. As she moves her hand, a talen of beads and wolf teeth jingles at her side. She inclines her head towards the woman.
"The land is ready to accept. Let us celebrate and offer."

"I'm alright," Ian assures Karli in his usual flat voice as he passes.

Rukhnis said all that to Karli, who was clearly the one speaking to her and not Sorcha. Seriously, Rukhnis really can tell all these northerners apart.

The Red River clansfolk (except Karli), take a step back in surprise as Oili enters the village on her giant arctic wolf. "Gods and spirits," mutters Finn, and raises his ornately carved shield slightly. Several of the children react with screams of joy or fear.

Joining the children of joy, Nova does not quite scream, but she does grin to the arctic wolf and Oili's appearance there. "I like your style." says she, a fellow Northerner decked out in wolfy garb.

Jules turns to Sorcha and gives a bow to her, "I thank you very much." He turns to Finn and says quite cheerfully, "Quite the pleasure my good sure." He makes his way over and after a bow says something in more of a whisper to Finn and then opens his bag that he holds for Finn to look in if he cares to. He then looks to Sorca and says, "I'm certain there are many difficulties in hosting" He was going to say something but then they spot Oili and the sound gives Jules a small start of surprise but then gives a soft laugh, "Dear me."

Mikani is glad that Cookie is a patient mount and that she has a far easier time this trip riding Cookie than other trips to the north. She smiles at Socha as Rukhnis and Jules greet the woman. She dismounts and rewards the mare with an apple before greeting the woman herself. "Goodwoman Sorcha ... Master Finn ... pleasure to meet you. I am Lady Mikani Crovane. I am very pleased to meet you both." She says warmly and with a grin. "I am glad to be welcomed so warmly by your Tribe."

Blacktongue looks over to the children when they scream, looking all dour and serious until he winks and smirks playfully at one and sticks his black tongue out at them.

Rowenova's words cause Sorcha's eyes to narrow, and she nods. Both she and Finn bow, and offer a greeting to Mikani Crovane, Lady of Stormwall. "Please," says Sorcha to the group, "join us in saying farewell to a beloved member of our clan. He was the one who watched over the Heart of the Earth. There will be drink and dancing."

A bit of red rises to the pale cheeks of Karli when she realizes Ian heard her comment.

Finn grins at Jules after the latter says something in a low voice, and says, "Aye. Why not when meeting with visitors from the south?" There is a degree of mirth and curiosity and in his green eyes.

The children laugh riotously at Blacktongue, and two young boys and girl come to his side to touch his strange clothing.

Seeing the wolf and Oili, Rosalind and a huge smile appears. Looking over at Sorcha, she sympathetically apologizes,"I'm sorry about your loss."

Ian exchanges a few soft words with Rowenova, nodding to her as he does so. When he can get a moment to talk to Sorcha without interrupting anything obvious (if it's not obvious, he's not gonna notice) he asks her: "The camp to the southeast. Do you know who's there?"

Sorcha shakes hear head at Ian. "We've known all the clans in these lands as well as the Crovane. Red River lands have always been respected as sacred on account of the Heart. Heber's death was a shock to us all, and if there is a camp nearby, it could be White Oak, Cold Wind - or deadly enemy. I know not."

"It will be an honour to do so," Rukhnis tells Sorcha (yes, definitely Sorcha this time) as the elder makes that invitation. With that the physician steps back a little from Karli and Sorcha, with a small bow to Mikani, then folds her arms loosely across her chest as she casts her dark gaze around the village. She might just be taking in the scene, or she could be making a quick judgement of the village's state of hygiene and the apparent health of its residents, or she might just be looking at it because that's what there is to look at. Ian and Rowenova do get a sidelong curious look at their mention of a camp, though.

Jules continues to speak to Finn after Mikani has introduced herself and then asks to the man, "Is there something special that your clan does to honor the dead? I assume a bit of drinking but I should be careful to give what honor I can while pleased to make what new friends and allies I may." He gestures around the area and asks, "Were you close to Heber? Something he particularly loved here?" Jules is allowing the others to focus on the elders while he remains more connected to Finn.

Blacktongue does not shy away from the children when they come over to him and he looks over to Sorcha curiously before he turns his attention back to keeping the kidlets occupied and diverted while the grown ups talk. He may also be asking an unobtrousive question here or there of his new little friends. People often forget how much the small see.

"Follow me," says Finn to Jules, in a solemn tone. He makes his way through the central path of the village, as dogs trail nearby, and the children swarm about Blacktongue. "There will be singing, dancing, drinking the Earth Whiskey, and the pyre, whose fire will guide Heber to the Spirit Lands."

Oili smiles at the villagers, "She's perfectly safe." Turning to the wolf, she offers a whistle and it walks forward a bit before laying down, obviously non-threatening. Oili nods at Sorcha, "I'm Lady Oili Acheron. Would it be acceptable for me to join your rites? I'd like to help you guide your fallen to the Shining Lands." If allowed, she'll step forward to follow them to the pyre and participate in their ritual.

"Alright," Ian says. "We'll make sure there's not an issue." And that seems to settle that. He'll go to the funeral with everyone else, but he's taking more of an interest in the village now that he knows they're not just passing through. He scans the place at ground level, the layout of houses (best direction for an attack to come? Best places to fall back to?), and even their rooftops, and the trees that surround the village. (Do they move like there's someone in them?) This long look will put him a bit behind everyone else, probably, but he intends to just watch the funeral anyway.

Mikani follows Socha and Finn towards the funeral.

Sorcha gazes hard at Oili. "Can you sing the [something in Northlands Shav]?" she asks.

After those words with Ian, Nova finally dismounts from her good horse, after which she hands off the split reins of the bitless bridle to the Sir Flop the soulful hound (who hilariously accepts those into his toothy maw). "If I may, although I regret to say it, being Northern as I am, we shoud avoid drinking beyond our means." says the wolf scout before walking over to where Olio is, momentarily gazing with some awe to the lovely wolf but does not try touching and simply watches her for a few seconds. After this, she walks further to scope out the camp situation, too. "Mayhaps, we could do quick fortification? Something to slow anything incoming down?"

Jules makes a wave of his hand towards Mikani so she can see he's making his way off since she's probably responsible for everyone. He turns back to Finn and says, "Is the earth whiskey different than any other type of whiskey?" He seems truly interested in the question and then adds, "I shall be glad to do my part to honor him how I may." He makes a gesture around, "Are there particular spirits about here, ones close to your clan?"

Rukhnis is still treating the village to her own critical inspection, though likely for rather different reasons than Ian, so her progress at the tail end of the funeral party is only slightly faster than his. She seems content enough to keep a small distance from everyone else anyway, perhaps not deeming an obvious scary foreigner to be a particularly welcome sight to the people of an isolated northlands village.

Nearly the entire village is gathered - some three hundred people in total. Finn says to Rowenova, "We have caves to use in times of war. They are well stocked after what happened. If we are under attack, that is where we will go."

To Jules, Finn nods. "Instead of oak barrels, it is aged in clay that comes from the home of the spirits. You should try it - though it is strong. Our clan has since ancient times been charged with honoring the spirits of Earth." He frowns darkly. "But now..." he trails off.

Oili smiles at Sorcha, "I'm familiar with the song, but I never learned the language of our ancestors. I can sing it in Arvani."

Ian watches his own footsteps when he finally crosses the distance to where the funeral is taking place. Like Rukhnis, he keeps a distance, and "watches respectfully". (He's at a distance where he's got a pretty good view of everyone, and he's looking to see what weapons people are carrying, who carries themselves like they can fight, etc.)

Sorcha says, "Forgive my rudeness for the request - but if you will sing the song of the seasons now, to prove your knowledge of the Old Ways, we would be honored if you would lead the rites, as Heber was our true shaman, and now he is gone."

Oili checked command + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 9 higher.

Rosalind checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 19 higher.

Jules seems delighted by the different method of storing and says, "Ahh, thus the earth whiskey. I assume a hearty earthen taste then?" His brow lowers in thought as he considers, "I have a feeling if you say it's strong it'll be good but take a little bit to acclimate to." And he laughs at this thought. After a moment he does grow more serious and adds, "So tell me about the spirits and ... well, what you feel comfortable with. I know there's always that element of desire to hold back. I hope you will not feel I press you for any more than you want to share."

Rukhnis drifts herself over to a margin of the crowd roughly opposite to Ian, and oddly enough also positions herself where she's got a very good view of everything happening nearby. She's almost managed to drift to a stop just barely beyond the edge of the firelight, where she's a darker vertical shadow more still than the flickering ones around her.

Jules checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 30, rolling 0 higher.

After what Finn says, Nova takes note of the caves with a slight nod of her wolf-framed visage. As Ian and Rukhnis are setting up across from one another, Nova sets up at a perpendicular position to them (90 degrees if they were the top and bottom of a circle), equidistant as they are from the center, too, probably more on the side closer to the Camp Unknown than the other side where Sir Floppington and the good horse head off to complete the circle now. Thus, there are four points which are being covered for the time being.

Finn, forgetting the sad occasion laughs for a moment. "Yes, you can say it does have an earthy taste, and it is very strong." When Jules asks about the spirits, Finn grows solemn again. "There is place nearby - a sacred place: the Throat of the World. Inside once rested the Heart of the Earth, and it was our offering to the spirits that reside beneath the mountains."

While the others have been talking and things, Rosalind has been off wandering. Her inquisitive eyes see that the village is well stocked with goods, and decent food. They dont lack and have water supplies.

Walking further, she finds the caves Finn was discussing. Looking over her shoulder, she asks someone,"Hey hi! How were these doors made?" Could she be anymore curious? "They dont look like something a person made,"reaching to touch them.

Rosalind claims the investigation of neat doors!

Blacktongue checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 15 higher.

Mikani listens to the story about the Throat of the World and the Heart of the Earth. Her mind makes careful notes. Mika is solemn for the event and quiet as those around her are speaking.

Sorcha and Finn glance at each other, and then turn to Rosalind. "They... were gifts... from the spirits," she admits.

Blacktongue is sort of distracted from keeping up with the group but does not stay completly still as he ask the children if they saw anything strange before or after things went wrong. He's gentle about it because they're kids and he'd rather not upset them but he's not one to leave any source of potential information untapped.

Oili doesn't seem insulted by the request. Stepping forward, she undoes the wolf clasp on her cloak and lets it fall to the ground. The bone talen attached by string to the right side of her robes is now fully visible. A deep breath and then she starts to sing. Slow and languid at first, then growing into a loud and forceful fever pitch. The chorus always seems to linger just a little bit longer as she goes through each season.
"Samhain, Samhain, We'll call this night Samhain. Samhain, Samhain, Call this magic night Samhain."

Jules listens, he does not immediately respond as he seems to be considering the man's words, "Meaning it was what you offered or where you went to offer?" He opens the bag and looks inside, "I have a strawberry run, I believe the fireberry infused mead was from the good lord's" He gestures to Ian, "wife. I have this rum from 989." He squints and looks at the next one, "a mistral golden rum and" He looks at the last one and laughs, "Dear me, I didn't mean to bring that one." He looks at the glass and adds, "I can pull glass or from the bottle if that's more your sort." He glances back towards the bag, "I should have brought some ale, whiskey, or wine. I brought too much rum" And he laughs, "You can still offer some offerings to the spirits though, right?" He seems to assume the answer is yes.

It's hard to tell for sure given the fact that she's at a remove from everyone else and turned partly away from them, and yet there's a general air of brooding around Rukhnis as she looks on and listens to Oili sing for the spirits. Of course, she's always a little bit broody, so that might not signify much of a change. But this seems a particularly dense and heavy sort, of all the intricate varieties of Rukhnis-brooding. She clasps her hands loosely in front of her, rubbing slowly at her right palm with her left thumb, quiet and otherwise motionless.

Drinks are passed around the villagers in large, spiraling rams horns. Many take drinks, and they seem to be discussing the life of Heber - the simple things, the funny and those of greater importance to them. A man stands near the pyre, talking with several villagers. When he hears Oili sing some distance away, he beings to makes his way over to her.

"You are a true shaman of the Northlands," says Sorcha to Oili. "We would be honored if you saw Heber on his way to the Spirit Lands. This is Heber's brother, Colin." She gestures to the man who had stood by the pyre. He bows his head to Oili. "You honor us, m'Lady," he says. "I hope you will perform the rites for my brother."

After she has found her spot at the 90 degrees between Ian and Ruknis on the 'camp side', Nova employs her gauntlets and the coverings of her boots to help climb up a tree. Once she has her feet on a sturdy branch, she hugs the tree, doing so with one arm, as her other hand pulls her bow around to her front. Although she momentarily casts admiring regard to Oili, Nova soon focuses on everything external to the village itself, watching out for anything incoming.

Mikani listens to the life of Herber. She smiles at the stories and takes a single sip from the rams horn. The first sip was important to the spirits it was a good offering to the life of Herber. She relaxed as she listened. Mikani above all else loved listening to a good story.

Many in the village come to speak to Mikani as she listens. When some of them learn they can converse with her in Northlands Shav, they are astounded and impressed.

Finn says to Jules, "Such an sacrifice would certainly honor the spirits. When Heber has gone, we will take you to the Throat of the World."

Ian is, however bad he is at social situations, quite good at watching for signs of threats. He takes notice of the door, but seems inclined to leave it alone and let these people go about mourning before springing into any kind of action. So he just watches, bright blue eyes always in motion. Okay, it's probably a little bit creepy. He can't help it.

Rosalind is curious as she asks Finn and Sorcha,"You must start gathering early. Your village looks small, but you seem to have lots of stuff!"her northern accent thick but kind. More than enough supplies actually.

Ian gets Marquessa Marigold's Mint Madness from Oiled leather bag.

Sorcha nods to Rosalind. "We do. Our village is small, but because we have a good relationship with the Crovane and the shav'Arvani, we have prospered. Any foe that we have encountered," she says, glancing at Finn, "has been defended by our great allies of the earth." Turning back to Rosalind, she continues, "but without the Heart..."

Jules nods to Finn and says, "Then we shall honor them." He states with a broad smile, "And may Heber find his way to the Spirit World with all haste." He allows Oili to do his magic shaman work, or just talking. Who knows, certainly not Jules. He's trying not to look too happy here, just interested and focused and he leans over to ask Finn, "Was Heber your Shaman?"

One of the children with Blacktongue nods. "There was a scary woman who came with her men. They said they'd kill one of the Crowvayne. My momma said they almost did it at an opla."

Finn nod to Jules. "He was - and a good man too. He drank a lot, told bad jokes - but he truly had a soul of reverence and the spirits loved him too."

Mikani perks up at the mention of the opla. Her eyes move to where Blacktongue is and the children. She moves over to them to get a better listen.

Blacktongue sits with the children when it comes time for the rites and asks when its appropriate "Oh scary huh? was she from around here? Was she dressed strangely like me? I'm not scary am I?"

The girl shakes here head at Blacktongue. "Uh uh. The were from the White Raven clan." A boy pipes up and says, "More came too. But Heber said we shouldn't listen to the bad shaman, and we didn't."

Jules gives a soft laugh, "I should have liked to have met him before he went. He sounds like the best sort of man. Was he one who loved the caves or somewhere else more? I should think at least during the winter it'd be pleasant in the caves, or are they not used for that?" His eyes glance over towards the children but he's moreso keeping his attention on Finn, "I would think caves would be a good place for a stash of liquor."

Although it is a bit distant, Nova is a perceptive scout and she glances back toward Blacktongue, the kids, and Mikani. She only does so a brief moment before focusing anew on her overwatch duties from her tree-hugging perch.

There's a lot going on, and Ian doesn't pay a hell of a lot of attention to children, in general. As such, he's left, for now, in a state of blissful ignorance that he's about to be protecting Rysen's pregnant wife from assassins (and probably also demons) who are very intent on killing her. Let's let him have this moment.

Meanwhile, Sir Floppington and the grey horse are on the opposing side from where Nova is, and they watch out for anything from that back half, too.

Finn nods to Jules. "The Throat in particular is perfect in the winter. You will soon see why."

Rukhnis would probably be a little more angry and a little less broody if she were anywhere near hearing distance of Blacktongue and the children. But no, she's exactly in the spot where no one is saying anything interesting at all, the conversation in her general vicinity seeming to consist largely of people lamenting the eternally dissatisfying state of the weather and a quiet argument between a man and his wife about who was supposed to milk the goats before coming here. The Eurusi woman sighs slightly, her gaze shifting across the crowd, then to the surrounding woods.

Rosalind looks over at the trees and jumps up to a branch. Swinging herself upward, the tall Ravenseye starts climbing higher, looking for--something throughout the village. Anything odd-you know-one of these things are not like the others--

Oili smiles at Colin. "I'll make sure your brother finds his way." She steps towards the pyre and raises her hands to start singing again, this time slow and steady.
"Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had, Are sorry for my going away."
She starts to dance in circles around the pyre, humming a tune as she does so, trying to keep it as loud as she can.
"And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had, Would wish me one more day to stay."
She stops to spin in place at the foot of the pyre.
"But since it falls unto my lot, That I should rise and you should not."
She takes another trip around the pyre to stop once she reaches Colin and Sorcha again. The song continues for a last verse.
"Fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all."
Oili stops singing and lowers her head waiting for Colin to light the pyre. Once lit, she'll continue speaking.
"On this day, Heber leaves this land to find his place in the Shining Lands. We drink to his honor, we sing to his glory, and we celebrate his life. We light this pyre to shepherd him on his way. All of you that knew him, remember him. All of you that didn't know him, remember his name. These will be the beacons that show him the path."

The words of Lady Oili Acheron, shaman of the Spirit Walkers, holds her audience in awe and reverence. Tears stream down Colin's face - not only of sadness, but of pride. The fire catches on the fuel beneath the pyre, and a huge flame quickly rises to the sky as Oili continues to speak. "Spirits guide him!" come the shouts of the Red River Clan that echoes through the mountains. It is not long before flutes, drums and lutes appear, and as the stars come to fill the night sky - so does music fill the mountains.

The villagers dance and drink with abandon to honor the their friend, and to live in the moment for his sake.

From her tree, Nova smiles softly about the song sang behind her, but for now, the wolfy scout does not look back to the wolfy barbarian and instead watches for anything incoming. Of course, she makes sure to slightly flex as well as slightly move, every so often, to not stiffen up at her overwatch post here.

Rukhnis sombrely watches the funeral ceremony proceed, and as flames begin to lick through the tinder and then stretch themselves in a brilliant plume up to the heavens, she touches the tips of her fingers gingerly to her throat, then to her lips, and lastly her heart. She closes her eyes for just a moment -- yeah, okay, she's not as good at the psycho-eyed watching thing as Ian is -- and whispers something softly, perhaps her own quiet prayer to the spirits and for the safe passage of Heber's soul.

Rosalind checked stamina + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 11 higher.

Rowenova checked stamina + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 22 higher.

Rukhnis checked stamina + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 8 higher.

Ian checked stamina + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 18 higher.

Rowenova GM Roll checked stamina(5) + survival(2) at difficulty 30, rolling 5 lower.

Oili checked stamina + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 24 higher.

Rukhnis checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 28 higher.

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

Although Nova might be staying up all night, Sir Floppington flops kinda tries, but he cannot quite hold out. Hey, he did not have a horse to ride here and walked the whole way. So, he flops and curls to sleep.

Blacktongue is spending time with the children, mostly making sure they're dealing okay. Part of what a Harlequin does is counsel the bereved and helping the small understand and deal with death is part of that. Of course if this gets him any additional information about the scary bad shaman from the white raven clan all the better. Eventually he will go to sleep though, he's too old for this shit.

Jules checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 25, rolling 16 higher.

Rosalind watches and listens down below, smiling a bit. It's sad yeah but hes going up with with the spirits. And that's great and the song is pretty. Rosa leans back against the back of trunk, one leg dangling as she watches over the camp.

Mikani yawns and makes her excuses so that she can find her bed. She barely needs any prompting to fall asleep.

As the ritual breaks up and people start going off to do whatever things they do, Ian finally goes to his saddlebags and breaks out That Scarf. It's cold out here. The scarf smells bad, but it's warm. He's accustomed to long nights keeping watch from his time aboard ships, where that duty almost always falls to him.

Rowenova checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 21 higher.

Jules spends a bit of time with Finn for a while. The two laugh and chat here and there. Eventually the time comes for some general revelry and Jules happens to find himself opposite some woman who had found herself in solitude for whatever. Jules makes his way over towards her and soon the pair are dancing and drinking. It lasts until the gathering starts to break up and so Jules speaks softly to the woman and looks somewhat lost and slightly worried. But apparently, whatever problem he has is being taken care of by his dance partner who leads him to a nice warm hut where he can be well rested for another day's activities.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 19 higher.

%Maikki, the wolf Oili brought, makes her way further into the village and finds a nice spot near the festivities and the warmth of fire to sleep If kids or people take to playing on her, she won't even blink awake. Oili, on the other hand, stays up the rest of the night and celebrates the passing on of Hebor with the village in every way she can. Even once the party dies down, she doesn't go to sleep, instead her and Maikki disappear off to the edge of the village to act as an early warning system.

Rosalind checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 22 higher.

Ian stays fairly close to wherever Mikani is sleeping, near a fire if there is one except when he gets up to look around.

Rukhnis prepares herself for her own watch by cadging a mug of tea from someone and settling into her self-assigned post with a spare horse blanket draped around her shoulders. As usual she's found a nice shadowy spot in the shelter of a wall from which she can observe the surrounding countryside, her dark form unsullied by the revealing touched of moonlight. The distant noises of the night keep her alert, but on the whole she passes the dark hours by in peace and quiet and a little bit of discreet shivering.

At the sound of distant wolves, Rosalind sits up from her perch. Her eyes look about but she realizes they're not nearby currently. Rosa relaxes for now, but remains alert.

The cold of the evening has no effect on Jules, though most of the others feel acutely in spite of the hot weather in miles and miles away in Arx. In the morning, Karli and Finn make their rounds to find the party, and one of the huts, Sorcha's hut, is offered for all to eat some oatmeal, eggs and refresh themselves with water and tea.

Ian drops ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf.

Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf.

Every so often, the Halfshav scout sometimes uses an upper branch in her tree to do pull ups before setting down diamondplate-clad feet on a lower branch. Eventually, when the morning comes, she asks those who come around her way whether they have a backup scout in the village here who can take over her current post, so she can go get some breakfast, and mayhaps even a light nap.

Rukhnis slips through the door of Sorcha's hut the next morning looking hollow-eyed, beaten-down, and deeply exhausted, which is to say, just the way she always looks. Offering a bow of gratitude for the meal, the physician readily avails herself of the tea as well as a bowl of oatmeal, which she quickly takes outside again to allow room for everyone else to fetch their breakfast from the small space. She crouches down on her heels just outside the door, though, within hearing distance of whatever goes on inside as she starts in on her oatmeal with brisk efficiency.

Ian isn't picky about food, and, in fact, seems most comfortable with oatmeal, which he has a habit of picking through as though looking for something. It's such an absent gesture that he probably doesn't even realize he's doing it.

Mikani rubs her hands up and down her arms as she goes to get something to eat. She does smile at the oatmeal and thanks Socha for the breakfast. Her dark eyes look around the group and around the camp as the area starts to wake up. She smiles at Ian, knowing he looked over her during the night. Mikani eats the bowl slowly.

"You are most welcome, My Lady," replies Sorcha to Mikani. Finn stands outside the hut near Rukhnis, smoking his pipe. "You are Eurusi?" he asks, looking her over, as a trail of smoke rises from his mouth.

Oili spent the night out on the edge of the village, laying against Maikki for warmth and staring into the forest off to the distance. Wolves begin to yell at each other in the night, but she doesn't move. When the sun crests the hills, she turns to walk into the center of the village towards Sorcha's hut. She'll arrive the same time that Rukhnis does, but stand back and enter second. "Good morning minister." She spreads out her apothecary robes to get the dirt off before entering and finds a place to eat some breakfast.
After a bit, she'll broach the subject. "Dire wolves out there. Did you know about them Sorcha?"

Rosalind stretches and yawns. Looking down, she joins the others and climbs down-hopping from the last branch. Greeting the others with a smile, she says,"Morning,"going to get breakfast.

Jules makes his way out of the hut, he looks a bit disheveled which makes sense as he probably just woke up but it's uncharacteristic for him to step out even to look without being put together. He goes back in for a few minutes, comes out a little later looking more put together. He looks refreshed and makes his way cheerfully over where the rest of the group is gathering and goes to get some food. He makes his way about looking for someone off by themselves for him to connect with.

Sorcha raises an eyebrow at Oili's report. "Dire wolves? You certain?" she asks. "Wolves are rare in these mountains, unless they're following a food supply."

Blacktongue is brewing some strong black tea for his breakfast drink not seeming at all awake at first and preparing it almost entirely on auto pilot.

"Yes," agrees Rukhnis in response to Finn's question. She takes her time spooning up some more oatmeal before finally seeming to consider that perhaps she ought to furnish some other scrap of information, just for courtesy's sake. Eventually she settles on, "I came to the Northlands a little over two years ago, and from there went on to Arx. Have you lived in this village your whole life?"

While eating, Ian remarks to Mikani: "There's a camp to the southeast, and the villagers here don't know who it belongs to. It might be worth looking into." He picks absently through his oatmeal. "But we need to take care not to be out after it gets dark. I heard wolves last night."

"I have," he says. "Though I've traveled to Eyre Fells and Stormwall." His green eyes remain on Rukhnis. "Is it true the worship the Reflections in Eurus?"

"Oh! I'll go with to look at the camp,"Rosalind quips. "And yeah, I heard the wolves,"taking a bite of food.

From her tree yonder, Nova pipes up additional confirmation, "Dire wolves, yes." Then, she climbs down and walks deeper to the village center where a young warrior is currently training. She quietly speaks with that young man, and then she points over to where her tree perch was. He smiles back with a quick nod before going to climb up where she had once been, taking over the overwatch duties. Nova finally finds a breakfast bowl, which she loads up.

To Ian and Rosalind, Sorcha says, "We would like to take you to the Throat of the World first, if you're willing, so that you can see where the Heart rested, and perhaps learn something about who took it."

Mikani picks at her food as well. Her dark eyes look over at Ian and she nods. "I think so too. I heard something about the White Raven Clan ... they seem to have been the ones to set into motion the attack at the Opera ..." She takes a few more bites. "You are right, in the daylight of course." She murmurs quietly.

Blacktongue comes over to the group talking with Sorcha "The children were telling me about a bad shamman from the White Raven Clan? might that camp be theirs?"

It's actually VISIBLE the way that Ian defers to Mikani, something subtle that changes in the way he carries himself and a quick look in her direction. It's pretty clear he comes out of a life with a pretty rigid command structure.

Rukhnis grunts quietly in Finn's general direction. "Some do.," she acknowledges. "I do not know how many people truly embrace it, though most accept it. The fate of one who openly professes any other belief is.. unkind." She shrugs a little, finishing up the last of her oatmeal and standing up again. "However, some there follow the spirits instead, as my own people did."

Sorcha watches Rowenova as she retuns to fill her bowl. "You seem a truly talented scout, and leave little to chance. What was your name again?"

The words from Blacktongue bring a scowl to Sorcha's face, and she says, "Yes. First a woman named Gisel, who wanted to assassinate a Crovane lord, and a then a shaman." Her hand involuntarily rises to cover hear heart. "He was tainted. I am almost certain."

Rosalind nods her head, being pretty agreeable,"I'd like to learn that too."

Ian is also probably internally screaming or something, because his player just saw Mikani's pose. Stoic islesman.

Mikani checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Oili checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.

Rukhnis checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 6 lower.

Rukhnis's eyes have suddenly narrowed and her shoulders become tense, mostly likely having overheard what's being spoken of inside. Her lips press together tightly, and a faintly smouldery look of ire appears in her gaze.

"Hmmm," grunts Finn to Rukhnis. "You are a warrior?" he asks, eying the scar on her forehead.

Mikani checked charm + performance at difficulty 20, rolling 25 higher.

Oili notes the discussion about the Eurus and mirrors. As Rukhnis begins to answer, blacktongue opens up about a bad shaman and there's a cough. It's very well timed. Maybe she just got a little egg caught. She hits her throat a time or two.

Ian sighs and rubs his face. "What are the chances I could talk you into going back where we can surround you with guards?" He asks Mikani.

When Sorcha asks who she is, Rowenova deeply bows to her. She does this without even spilling any food, apparently practiced with handling such like a server before she stands up to her full height once more before she does her intro which several here might have heard before. "I am the Scout Rowenova of the Ranging Wolves, a scouting party - in the Halfshav Military - under Lord Arik for whose house I am a devoted servant, as well. Esteemed protege of the Baroness Lucita Saik, too." At least she has somewhat condensed said intro! "Pleased, to meet you." She looks around for Sir Flop who has some dirt on a floppy ear but is finally here. She motions her bowl toward him, "This here is the Bestest Good Boy Ever: Sir Floppington."

Jules has finally made his way really in with the others, having been momentarily caught by someone. When he enters in, his smile is evident and he looks through the group and makes his way over towards where Mikani is generally speaking. He gives a couple quick bows to those around and then moves to sit down to gain his hold on the situation.

Rukhnis blinks at Finn, being returned to social niceties by his question. Sort of. She reaches up to reflexively touch the relatively new scar above her temple, and the look in her eyes is still a dark one. "No," she answers flatly, and then, after a pause and a deep breath, explains in a tone of perhaps slightly forced neutrality, "There are many people in Arx who are not glad to see more Eurusi arriving there."

Sorcha laughs warmly, the cloud of memory brought about by the White Raven shaman apparently dispelled by the mighty (and very, very good) Sir Floppington. "May I touch him?" she asks Rowenova.

Mikani grits her teeth yet manages to keep her face calm. Her dark eyes look at Ian and she smiles, manages to look even very sweet about it. "Slim to none. You know that if we put a full group of guards around me that we wouldn't get close to finding them. And by the gods and spirits ... I want to find them." The last of her voice sounds almost vicious yet still oddly sweet.

"But how about if I tried really hard?" Ian presses.

Finn says to Rukhnis, "I can't say I loved seeing one arrive here." He grins though, and taps his pipe out on the stoney wall of the hut behind him. "But there is something about you that's... reassuring."

Nova takes note of the taint talk as well as the other nuances about it all, but then she looks back to Sorcha, "If he is okay with it, then you may."
Okay with it? Of course Sir Floppington is okay with it! He looks up at Sorcha after she talks about wanting to touch him and gently wags, doing so whilst gazing adoringly at her with those soulful eyes of his.

When everyone's eaten there fill, Sorcha calls to Finn, frowns, and, leaving his conversation with the Rukhnis, reenters the hut. "It's time," says Sorcha. "Please take them to the Throat of the world. Bring the guard and be back as soon as possible."

"Yes, mother," replies Finn. "When you are ready, please meet me and the guard outside town's wall. You will not need your horses."

Rukhnis frowns faintly at Finn, then snorts softly. "As you say." She takes a long sip of tea, then tells him, "In the end, people are much the same wherever one goes. There are good and bad among all peoples, and despite what one hears of Eurus, most there are as ordinary as anyone here in Arvum, with no more than the usual flaws, and no fewer than the usual virtues." The Eurusi woman bows slightly to Finn as he's called back into the hut, ducking in herself just long enough to deposit her empty bowl and mug on a table.

Mikani takes a few bites of her oatmeal and watches Ian making sure that's what he really wants to ask. After a few beats she licks her spoon clean before answering. "I will not be deterred. Someone tried to kill the man I love ... the father of my children .... You know if you were in my place you would say the same damn thing."

"I'm a lot harder to kill than you are," Ian points out. He didn't REALLY think he was going to be able to talk Mikani into going back to Stormwall, this is clear from the resigned way that he uses his cane to push himself to his feet and follows. Once they're out of the town wall, he'll resume his prior vigilance.

Blacktongue will get himself ready to go at the designated point, eager to be about business. For all he wears an irreverant lazy seeming he's a professional. Even with his morning grooming having included coloring a bright red stripe into his beard.

Oili peers over her food at Finn as he makes comments about Rukhnis' origin. When it comes time to leave, she will make her way slowly so as to bring up the rear as before. Maikki will stay behind in the village at the request of the guard.

Rosalind has finished eating and for once, not the usual chatter box. She's been LISTENING! So when it's mentioned they're going somewhere, she's the first to jump,"I'm ready!"not looking at all tired. Gods and Spirits Rosalind!

Mikani bursts out laughing. "Oh the Redreefs tried to kill me and it didn't work out ... I think I will be fine. I am really stronger than I apparently look." She digs back into her oatmeal to finish it so she can get back on the road.

"I'm also not pregnant." Ian might be resigned, but he's not going quietly, apparently.

Nova completely cleans her own bowl of any food particle which might be there before setting aside the empty bowl where it should be. She walks over and momentarily hugs Mika from one side about her shoulder level. Maybe, she is potentially saving Ian now. Or, just comforting Mikani. WHO KNOWS WHICH ONE?

Jules allows his cheerful disposition to drop almost immediately as he listens to Mikani and his eyes look about the place slowly. He does not immediately interject but after several moments he asks, "Do they know what you look like Lady Mikani?"

"I was at the opera," Ian says to Jules, since Mikani is being hugged and he can't keep protesting at her. "I fought a couple of them. They were just people in black robes. There might have been a tattoo that I didn't see, though."

Near the low wall that demarcates the village proper a group of nearly thirty Red River warriors have gathered. They are young, for the most part, but not exclusively - with one woman having seen enough summers to have two full grown children in the warband. Yet her spear is sharp and her posture suggests a supple and dangerous skill at arms.

Finn, too, is present, welcoming Rosalind when she arrives. "When everyone is here, we will set out."

Jules nods to Ian and says, "I am about Lady Mikani's size ... perhaps a few pieces of fruit more secured in the right places and a cloak over me. I may be able to pass for the Lady if she has some Crovane embroidered garments. At least then they'd potentially target me. Perhaps you could hang closer to her and get her out if things turn sour?"

Ian shakes his head to Jules, taking the suggestion of Jules with fruit boobs with remarkable severity. "You don't want that. And she won't let me hustle her out." Yeah, he's resigned. He knows how this is going to go.

Rukhnis has left the petty bickering Ian and Mikani behind and isn't too far from Rosalind as the Ravenseye woman comes up to the wall. She executes her usual bow to everyone waiting there, then studies the assembled warriors thoughtfully. After a moment she nods, her clinical eye possibly having deemed them in fine fettle for fighting.

Mikani growls under her breath. "I shoved one to his death and was convinced to stay my hand on the second one." She murmurs. "I don't know if they know me from any other woman in Crovane. I wasn't given any report from the Inquisition that questioned them." It is after Jules' comment that she just looks at the man, "First of all ... I don't think fruit will give you enough curves to convince anyone you are me ... second ... I can take a hit far better than most ... you know this. I know you worry but I got new armor and I have learned how to fight. It is not like you are guarding some daft noble around pretending to look pretty in armor as a fashion statement." Mikani's demeanor changes as they near the group from Red River and she smiles warmly at them. "Thank you. I appreciate your company and your guidance."

"I'm just guarding some daft noble," Ian mutters.

At the crossdressing suggestion, Nova smirks faintly. "I think you should let the man be the woman he always wanted to be." She of course has let go of the Crovane noble at this point and makes her way along with the group to where they are supposed to be.

With everyone assembled, Finn begins to lead the group down a trail towards the mountain valley. Below the trail, the sound of rushing water and bleeting sheep can be heard along with the tramping go feet. Colin comes to walk beside Oili. "I appreciate what you did, m'Lady. I won't forget it."

Blacktongue snickers at Jules' suggestion and looks between him and Mikani as they make their way along the trail "If I had access to my things and the shops back in Arx I could make you up into a beautiful strong woman. Probably not a duplicate though."

Mikani laughs softly under her breath and claps Ian on the shoulder if he allows it. She can understand his point of view even if he is wrong.

Rosalind is getting antsy, obviously. Restless by nature, Rosa is trying to stand still as she checks for bow. Which is of course across her back. Lifting her feather cloak over her red hair, shes excited as they go. Inhaling the outside.

Ian doesn't dart away from being clapped on the shoulder, although he moves with it to lessen the force of the gesture. Once they're well underway, Ian leaves off with (most) of the complaining in favor of alternately watching his own footsteps over the uneven ground, and scanning the surroundings, but he IS sticking very close to Mikani.

Sir Floppington of course comes along, never letting Nova get too far out of his soulful sights! Since he has a tail, he takes up the tail end of the group, watching behind them for anything amiss.

Oili checked intellect + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 5 higher.

Rukhnis makes her way quietly as ever down the trail, if not so sure-footedly as the sheep and goats ambling easily across the terrain. Despite the fact that her gaze keeps an alert flicking back and forth across their surroundings, she looks nearly as glad as Rosalind to be out and about in the natural world. Which is to say, there's a remarkable absence of outright glowering or brooding on her face.

Oili stops near Rukhnis as they reach the warriors. The rest of them will eventually catch up. She smiles at the assembled guards. When they start out she waits to be the last one so she can keep in the rear as normal. Prone to poking on and off the path at random, she seems to know her way around a trek through the wilderness. Colin comes up to her as she stops to pick up some thin, rope like nettle growing on the side of the road and wrap it up. "I only did what I've been called to do." As they walk along the rear of the group she turns to Colin, "Now that we're alone. You can be straight with me as a daughter of the ice. Whose the shaman using that stone?"

Jules has his hand wrapped around the jar of honey, and he looks decidedly less cheerful than might normally be the case. He continues to walk along beside Mikani with the occasional special glare just for her. His natural element is far from the wild and among the only one to get a really pleasant expression is Flops. He deserves it. He looks to Nova and asks, "Does Sir Flops stay with people that blackout and come to somewhere else?"

"We did use the stone, m'Lady," replies Colin to Oili. "It was an offering from ancient times to the spirits. We kept watch over it, and it was a symbol of our pact with them."

Before long, the party comes to a great cavern not far from a small river running through the valley. The cavern's mouth is large enough for four people to walk abreast. Ancient pictograms have been carved into its walls, and several of the clansfolk light torches.

Rosalind checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 33 higher. Rosalind rolled a critical!

Ian keeps one eye closed in anticipation of going from the bright sunlight to the dark of the cave, hopefully preventing the worst of the initial blindness.

Rukhnis sighs a little as she tries not to listen to Oili and Colin speak of the spirits, and she falls back somewhat to let the conversation pass her by. As they enter the cave her eyes open a little wider at the sight of the pictograms, and an expression that is almost nostalgic passes briefly across her face as she looks at them, as if they awakened some fond old memory of something long gone.

Much like the other scouts, Nova stays aware and moves along, somewhat forward from where Mikani is. Sir Floppington happily wags to Maikki, Oili, and Jules. Though, he sticks with the first two. Meanwhile, Nova glances back to Jules, "Mmm, I would say that he would probably try to prevent the black out, or... should he not be able to, he would rip out the throat of whatever caused it, especially if it was done to me." She points out that whole train of thought before she shrugs slightly then moves along.

Mikani isn't foolish. She lets Ian guard her and she lets Jules glare at her. But secretly she enjoys Jules glares knowing that he cares. But she cares too much to allow him to take her place. The pictures of pictograms though pulls her whole attention. "Ooo what is this?" She holds out her fingers as if to touch them but doesn't.

Oili peers into Colin's eyes at the answer and then turns away. "I see. I think I understand what's happening, then. We should be careful." She's quiet the rest of the trip and keeps her eyes forward. More importantly, she no longer strays from the path.

Rosalind tells the others, because you know-just in case,"I'm going to check things around the cave,"hurrying off. After a bit Rosa returns and tells everyone,"Theres tracks that go northeast,"Pointing as she chatters endlessly,"'Theres a group of about 6 or so. I can follow them...."her eyes the color of the forest. Looking excited.

Mikani checked intellect + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 19 higher.

The beginning and ending of what Ian is interested in, in this cave, is whether there's something present inside or outside that could conceivably attack them. Once within the dimmer environment, he opens his eye, now adjusted to the dark. "Stay here," he says to Rosalind. "If you go off, we won't know what happened to you if there's trouble at the end of those tracks."

Rukhnis shifts her gaze slightly towards Mikani as the pictograms draw her attention too. "Do you know anything of what they mean?" she asks the other woman, a shade of wistfulness colouring her voice.

Jules grimaces at Nova's mention of it ripping someone's throat and he mutters to himself, "I don't think it was bad though." He turns away from that disenchanting thought and sees the pictures and looks rather excited, "Dear me how wonderful. If I find a piece of chalk could I draw myself visiting too?" He has momentarily forgotten about Mikani because he more has the attention of a five or six year old, "I'm actually not half bad ... not the best but not bad."

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 35 higher.

Blacktongue is approaching the cave like its the scene of a crime. Sure he might not know what it looked like in the first place or the particular customs of these people involve but he does know patterns and can maybe make a guess at something to see if its a clue that doesn't belong.

Walking up to the pictograms, Nova quietly surveys them but cannot discern much besides the apparent designs. "Incredible, but I know not what these mean." Then, she turns with a glance to Jules before she looks to Rosalind and Ian, doing so without saying anything more.

Rosalind considers Ian's words and tells him,"Lord Ian, I -know- I can find them. And safely." She looks around the cave asking,"What what means?" maybe she can help.

Blacktongue checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 12 higher.

Mikani nods softly, "They are quite amazing. Ancient shamanic markings ..." She points out as she describes them. "A hierophant honoring the spirits of the earth. Sacrifices of grain, wreaths, berries and various types of stones .... minerals ... all to honor the spirits of this region." Mika grins as she takes them in. "They are so beautiful ... and wonderful."

Sir Floppington wags up to the group and looks up with a curious look to Jules and his muttering there.

"You can do that in --" But Rosalind is already distracted, so he lets it go. If she's looking at pictographs, she not charging off alone into woods that probably have demons in them, because of rules #1 and 2. He walks a little deeper into the cave. "Well, this is blood," he says.

Rukhnis nods softly to Mikani, her gaze traveling across the ancient paintings with an almost loving eye. Then that disappears entirely as she gives Jules a very flat look, and with a shake of her head she turns to face back down into the cave.

Oili follows the group into the cave, but doesn't touch or look at anything. She looks over at Colin again, "Which path leads to where you kept the stone?"

Rukhnis checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 16 higher.

Mikani gets pulled out of her amazement on the markings at the word blood. "Blood? What blood?" She looks around to find the blood.

Nova walks back to see this blood about which Ian has spake.

This party is the pits, Jules can't even leave his mark behind and he just slumps his shoulders. He remembers what he was about though and gives Mikani another glare for a brief moment and he follows along. He's not really doing anything but if there was ever the need for some artwork, Jules might be the resident artist. There's a glance around as he hears blood and tenses up. He's like a belt pulled to tight and when it snaps, will be utterly useless.

Ian did a sort of walk-by commenting. After he remarks on the blood on the altar, he takes a few more steps deeper into the cave.

"Im going to follow those prints,"Rosalind calls, probably much to the annoyance of Ian. "Nova, did you want to come?"

Rowenova checked perception + alchemy at difficulty 15, rolling 52 higher.

From her weapons belt, Nova pulls out a couple vials and her hunting knife, which she uses to scrape some of the blood into each of the vials before then mulling through a few herbs and other ingredients in various pouches on her. After testing several, with adds of water and alcohol from varying flasks. "Yeah, just one moment, please!" says she to Rosalind as she lightly swirls those two vials, as she ultimately pretends to be a human centrifuge.

Finn, walking with Oili and following Ian, says, "It's just up ahead at the alter." The passage remains wide, and eventually all who enter come to stand before a stone altar, coming perhaps four feet and some inches from the ground. It is made of a simple red-hued stone, and it seems that many offerings had been made at its base - but at the top of the altar a small indentation can be seen, where something most likely rested.

Blacktongue frowns as he continues into the cave, looking for something that doesn't fit, calling out from near the altar as he indicates three circles (in a down pointing triangle) and some feather markings "I don't know these symbols but I do know that these are much newer than the others, I don't think they belong here. Especially not near an altar this old."

Oili points at the top of the altar where there's a missing item. "What's missing? Be straight with me."

Rukhnis follows along to the altar, casting close and wary glances at floor and ceiling, and occasionally back towards the entrance as she goes. She doesn't look remotely pleased at the mention of blood, her mouth tightening slightly and the expression in her eyes darkening. She frowns at the altar for a moment, hard, before reaching out one hand to touch her fingertips lightly to the depression in the top of it. Blacktongue's words catch her attention, but she seems to expect that she's not going to know anything more about these mysterious symbols than she did the pictograms.

After a singular minute of constant swirling, Nova finally chimes. "Only blood but not too old: a few days at the very most, and intentionally splattered on specific runes here."

Mikani walks closer. Her eyes look to the mysterious symbols and the runes. She nibbles her lip as she thinks about it.

Finn frowns. "That was where the Heart of Earth stood for generations. It was a red stone - a ruby, I think, but I never touched it, and, to be honest, I'd always been more of a warrior than a shaman, so I never payed it the attention it was due." An expression sadness and shame rests on his face when he admits this, though noticing the blood on the altar, causes him to grit his teeth in flash of anger.

Jules decides it is perhaps worth taking a look at the alter and pulls out his flask. His other hand is still holding onto his honey and he pops off the top of his flask to quickly take a drink. He finagles the top back on the flask and puts it back in his pocket. He squints at a the general area rather than the alter, he's got to participate here, "Did anyone look to see if it fell behind the altar?" He does seem serious.

Nova looks up to Finn with a somber gaze then looks back to where Jules is, "Well, you aught to." She also sounds fairly serious. Why not at least check?

Rosalind remains where the tracks are, ready to follow them. Honestly. If restless had a look--it would look like the Ravenseye.

"Either blood magic or a desecration," Ian says, returning (I think) from a short walk deeper into the cave (unless he doesn't). "Or maybe a little of both." Once again, he's leaving these things to People Who Know About Them. "There's some hairs there, too. Be careful you don't brush them away. Where did the bird woman go?"

Mikani nods at Ian's words as she tries to pick up on clues to which answer it is.

Oili closes her eyes, those close enough can hear her saying, "What restless thing remains, find peace." She looks ahead calmly. "Desecration. The question is why."

Blacktongue frowns and considers "Jelousy. Lust for power. Why else does anyone do anything. With the evidence we have so far my money is on the bad shaman and scary woman from the white raven clan being envious of the deceased shaman and the prestige and power the Stone gave him. they killed him and stole it."

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