Of Dragons and MenReplies: 459 / 2 years 282 days 6 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds
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[b [center "Bruvel messenger service! We deliver at least as many babies as we do messages!"]]
The kingdom of Bruvel. Idyllically located on the continent's coast, this country has long dominated the neighboring countries with its history of dragon husbandry. The oldest dragon lines come from Bruvel; the first tamed dragons were ridden on the fair plains of its northern lands, and Bruvel's proud citizens won't let you forget it. Dragons are almost ubiquitous in Bruvel. They're used for transportation, heavy lifting, and sending messages, besides the mighty war-dragons whose wings flap as loud as thunder and whose bulk blocks out the sky.
However, over the years the other countries have begun to develop their own dragon lines and stables, threatening Bruvel's domination of the dragon market. Particularly Sarance, the country to Bruvel's south, has begun to rival Bruvel in terms of dragonstrength. It is well known that Sarance's queen has her eye on Bruvel's fair lands, and troops have been seen moving in the hills near Bruvel and Sarance's border. Though war has not yet broken out, it looks to be near.
Bruvel has sent a group of messengers to the west to ensure that their ally, the kingdom of Gabront, still stands with them and will take their side in the event of war. However, the lone safe way to Gabront puts any dragon rider or horse-riding messenger firmly into Sarance's territory. It is no longer viable to travel over Sarance; aside from the possibility of getting shot down, it would reveal sensitive material about Bruvel's war preparations. Instead, the messengers must travel through the Wastes.
[h2[center[b The Wastes]]]
The Wastes are the vast, swampy wastelands where wild dragons and other creatures roam. It is dangerous to take a dragon over the Wastes, as wild dragons often kill domesticated dragons on sight; as such, dragon riders cannot fly over them to reach the kingdom of Gabront. If a dragon is taken, it must travel on foot and secretly, perhaps even painted to look more like a wild dragon. It would be foolhardy to send a lone messenger through the Wastes; they would not make it out alive.
[b Fighter]--Swordsman, sniper, archer, knight; more or less self-explanatory. They fight with their weapons or their own two hands. No single fighter can take on a dragon and win.
[b Mage]--Magic is elemental. Mages choose an element and perfect it through years of study. All humans have the equal ability to learn magic, but most do not bother; it takes years to learn a single spell, decades to master an element. Magic is hard on humans, and mages feel its toll in headaches, cramps, and all manner of discomfort after casting. Magic can take years off someone's life; the most powerful of mages do not live long lives. [b One Remaining]
[b Messenger]--These quick-footed rogues rely on their wits and their speed to get them out of fights. They spend the first years of their employment training rigorously with daggers and similar small weapons to fend off bandits; many also learn lock picking and other survival skills as they travel around the country and find themselves often in unfamiliar and unfriendly environments. Speed is their strength. Higher-ranked messengers often come from lesser noble families or are the later children of higher nobility.
[b Dragon Rider]--A dragon rider bonds with a dragon and shares a weak telepathic link with it; dragon and rider know where each other are at all times, and basic commands can be communicated via the link. Domestic dragons have had the intelligence bred out of them; they are about as intelligent as dogs and cannot speak. Dragon riders are usually chosen young from noble families and raised away from society, as even domestic dragons require a lot of effort and space to tame. Domestic dragons, particularly those used by messengers, are usually smaller and almost without exception less vicious and powerful than their wild counterparts; while a larger domestic dragon might stand a chance against a wild dragon, most would perish in a one-on-one battle. [b Taken]
[b Demi-dragon]--A demi-dragon is a human that was cursed with an ancestral dragon rune and has begun to take on a dragon's appearance and power. While these are by far the most powerful dragon hunters, they are shunned from human society and often have to wear a veil to even so much as walk through a market. Only a few are so desperate as to take on the curse of becoming a demi-dragon.
[b You can get a little creative about your class; I don't mean for these to be absolute and restraining. I can be persuaded to add extra classes if need be. Talk to me about it.]
[h2[center[b The Guide]]]
The Wastes are difficult to navigate. Even seasoned adventurers consider them dangerous--dangerous, that is, without a guide. This group of messengers has hired the best guide in the region, a man known only by the name "Clawfoot." He will guide you through the Wastes, and, if you get lucky, you just might survive.
[h2 [center[b Notes on the World]]]
This story is not set in medieval times but is instead set in this world's analogue to the late 1890's/early 1900's. The Industrial Revolution is underway; while cars exist, they are few and far between. Guns exist, but swords remain practical for monster-fighting. Dragons remain the sole method of aerial travel. In this world, women are considered equal with men for the most part; they can be soldiers or even dragon riders, inherit property and titles, own land, and rule countries. While only people in the most rural of Bruvel's communities would be shocked to see a dragon, in other countries, Gabront and Sarance included, dragons are rare and are treated with awe and fear. Magic is used rarely and in extraordinary situations. Mages are typically researchers or fighters, or else peddle their spells to the gentry. A few quacks make a living as performers. Wild dragons are a plague on Bruvel's outer lands, especially where it borders on the Wastes, and regularly steal cattle or even humans for a quick meal. Few humans live near the edge of the Wastes. Wild dragons are typically larger than domestic dragons by a factor of two, though a few exceptionally large war beasts rival them in size.
[b [center To get Accepted:]]
Send me a PM with your skelly, picture, and a sample post. I do not require that the sample post be in character. Easy enough, right?
[b [center TL;DR]]
We're a group of messengers traveling across a dangerous, monster-infested wasteland to deliver a message that might prevent a war. Also dragons. "Notes" provides valuable background information.
[h3 [center Rules]]
Literacy is a must. Not just how long you can write your post, but how well. If you don't know the difference between you're and your or don't know how to format dialogue, don't bother responding. 1000 chars +.
[b NO MARY SUES, PLEASE. THANKS.]
I vastly prefer illustrated/anime pics. Find something classy and original if it's at all possible. If you need help, contact me. I have a library of several hundred pictures you can look through.
No cyber. No godmodding. Follow ES rules. Violence, gore, drinking, etc--all acceptable. Romance is fine but don't get so caught up in each other that you forget the plot. If you must have sex, do it somewhere else or timeskip.
Let two people post after every time you post. If the rp slows, I will be flexible with this rule. If you commit to this rp, be able and willing to post at least once a week.
DO NOT make your character ridiculously overpowered. That's boring for everyone. Everyone has weaknesses and strengths. Also, don't make your character insane. While a little mental instability can be fun and add to the rp, I've found that characters who are pants-on-head neck-biting insane just drag the plot down.
My word goes. I have a specific way I run rps, and I do not want you to question it or tell me how I ought to run my rps. Honestly, I don't care about most things when it comes to formatting and the such; if you're pming me about them, you're wasting your time.
DO NOT fight amongst each other. If, for example, someone's stepped on your toes and godmodded, or you don't like the quality of someone's post, talk to me about it and I'll sort it out. I am your moderator and everyone's friend, and my tolerance for most things is pretty high. Tell me about it. Let me take care of it. Having said that, I offer no one special treatment. If you only said "Hi" and no one recognized you in their posts, that's on you, not me. Participate or drop.
Be dynamic. Add to the plot. I'll be DMing as well as playing Clawfoot, but I enjoy it when other people come up with twists and subplots of their own. If you have any ideas, don't be afraid to pm me! If we get stuck, don't be afraid to move the plot along!
Phew! That's a lot. I hope none of it becomes important! Anyways, here's the part you care about.
[h3 [center Skelly]]
[b Picture URL:]
If Dragon Rider, please add:
[b Dragon's Name:]
[b Dragon's Age:]
[b Dragon's Size:]
[b Short Description:]
[h3[center Accepted Characters]]
Personality: Gruff. A social recluse by his curse, he is often a little out-of-touch with others and has a difficult time relating to people.
Description: His feet are clawed like those of a dragon's. While he wears heavy, padded shoes in town to make them appear more normal, in the Wastes he usually travels barefoot.
Bio: No one's really sure where he came from. He seems to live in the Wastes, or at least closer to their edge than most people travel. There's no doubt that he knows the Wastes better than anyone else; he's led expedition after expedition into them, and while few of the bold adventurers return, he always has. Whether a sheep or child wanders into the Wastes, or you're desperate to quest off to kill a dragon, he's the man you want. He doesn't like to talk about his past, and frankly, no one's asking. As a demi-dragon, he's treated with hatred and fear by most of the merchants he interacts with.
Name: Sasha L'afka
Personality: Sensual and smooth. She enjoys attention from others and every gesture she makes is always hinting something. However, deep down inside of her is a very frightened and secretive child.
Description: Though she wears a hooded cloak, it is often pinned back to reveal clothes that resemble lingerie.
Bio: Sasha grew up as an orphan under the care of her grandmother, but when her grandmother died and she was given to a new and abusive caretaker, she ran away from home and started to live on the streets. Sasha ended up in getting tangled up with homeless mages who practiced dark magic. She got tricked into a deal where if she agrees to take somebody else's 'burden' then they would take care of her and teach her the ways of being a mage. The 'burden' became a curse where her life gets cut down by half and in her twenty-first year of age, she is destined to die a horrible fate and her soul would neither go to heaven nor hell but banished to limbo. Though she became an extremely skillful mage, she struggles everyday to get rid of her curse. The only way for her to escape this is to pass the curse to another person but even that spell may take forever to be able to do. As each day passes, Sasha becomes more and more aware that her time is growing short.
Name: Oliver Brent
Weapon: Crossbow or longsword. Has an heirloom ceremonial dagger, given to him by his father.
Personality: Follows orders from higher-ups without question, never hesitating to put his life on the line when its asked. He’s a very somber individual, ambitious and a hard worker. He’s not the best conversationalist, and has few friends due to his constant suspicions, over-analyzing everyone and everything. In his free time he likes to write and draw in a small journal he keeps on his person at all times. Holds some bitterness that his lowborn status prevented him from becoming a Messenger.
Description: Fairly unremarkable, average height and build and has very few defining features. Dark-haired, more often looks like he’s glaring than he intends to. He takes pride in keeping his appearance clean cut and professional.
Bio: Oliver’s family moved to the outer border within Bruvel near the Wastes when he was young. Life was harsh and from a young age he was raised under a strict household, expected to fight to defend himself from world at large as soon as he could walk. His parents pushed for him to join a dragon crew, and after years of dedication he became a Fighter. While his skills in combat are carefully honed, he’s not always the best at trusting others, a trait that has alienated him from possible friends and lost him opportunities in the past.
Name: Ausric Galligan
Class: Dragon Rider
Weapon: Claymore, resorts to hand-to-hand when the claymore is inappropriate
Personality: Cheerful, dutiful, confident, animal-lover.
Bio: The Galligans are Bruvel old blood--wealthy, but not exactly influential in court. More than nobility, they've been a military family throughout the ages, and Jasper as his parents' first and only son had no say in his future career. Not that he minded, especially since he was able through his family's status to get into the highly-comptetitive draconic branch of the military. Left to his own choices, he probably would have ended up as a tamer himself, being highly interested in not only dragons but most types of animal. His family's military prestige also helped net him his own young dragon from a military scouting bloodline, which is to say strong but small and usually sent out alone. Jasper is slightly abashed of these promotions, but deliriously happy with his lot and therefore not much inclined to complain. Besides, he figures he's got the skills to prove himself retroactively worthy of them.
Dragon's Name: Pearl
Dragon's Age: 30
Dragon's Size: ~6' at the shoulder, bit more for the neck and head, so probably ~10' from claws to horns. ~20' long with ~5' tail, and a similar wingspan from tip to tip. Think something like a smallish bus with wings, a tail, and a head. Spines reduce passenger numbers considerably, though otherwise she's big and strong enough to carry six or so.
Short Description: Spiny mostly on the back and head less so on the tail, taupey browny off-white scales, yellow wing membranes , squareish low-slung and muscular like a bulldog more than long and slender like some other dragons.
Name: Jesper Alzerv
Weapon: Steel sword
Personality: Jesper has a snakes tongue and he isn't afraid to voice his opinion on a matter. He generally keeps to the back of the group until it comes to social gatherings or weaseling out of trouble. He is generally calm and collective, however there's a few things that will send him into a rage.
Description: Jesper is about 5'9 with a slim yet slightly muscular build.
Bio: Jesper was the last of three children, the eldest son with five years over his head. Their daughter being second born, was groomed to be a fine young lady some day. Jespers eldest brother was started from a young age to take over their fathers place when the time came. Jesper, however, was let to roam around freely. He held no responsibilities of his own, gambling in the streets and missing important gatherings to play in the streets. One day, while he ditched his family as they traveled to their uncles, they were attacked, wife, son and daughter were slain. The duke hardly made it away alive. Jesper's life took a sudden turn, being groomed to become the Duke. The pressure of responsibility was too much and he took off at the age of 15.
Name: Teagan Brillane
Weapon: Double-bladed staff -- like this, but a bit longer
Personality: Confident and reserved. Doesn't trust easily, and is kind and hardworking. She has strong morals and she sticks to them, leaving only a little bit of grey. Once she opens up, though, she's laid back and cheerful, still kind of quiet, but good at heart. She doesn't get angry easily, but once she does, it's explosive and often violent. Can be stubborn.
Bio: Born as the youngest child to a minor noble family, Teagan never lacked for anything, but she wasn't as restricted as her siblings. She wasn't going to inherit anything, so why bother? Thus, she was allowed to pursue her own interests, as long as it didn't harm the family reputation in any way. So she chose combat as her pastime, eventually going on to fight in duels and eventually, use her skills to help others. Her thirst for exploring lead her to the edges of the Wastes, but never past, even though she always wanted to explore there. When she was offered the chance to help guard the messenger through the Wastes, she jumped on the opportunity.
Name: Avani Ekta
Class: Fighter (Sniper)
Weapon: Sharps Model 1874 Creedmoor Rifle
Personality:Loud and talkative, Avani often has troubles understanding social situations. She means well, but is sometimes a little clumsy, and often her chatter causes frustration to those nearby. She also can become frustrated easily, but will quickly diffuse with a joke or two.
Description: 5'3 blonde haired woman, blue eyes, roughly 120 pounds and usually looks either severely sleep-deprived, or beaming, with little in-between.
Bio: Avani was taken in by an orphanage when she was quite little, her earliest memories being of the caretakers in the dorms. Usually a bubbly kid, she would end up roughhousing with the boys every time an adult turned their back on her. Contrary to the usual orphan story, Avani rather liked her time at the orphanage. She had lots of friends, new brothers and sisters would come , and the owner was a retired military man who even occasionally showed some affection towards the kids.
Growing up practically desperate for his approval, Avani followed her own version of the soldiers path, learning to march, run obstacles, rifle and fight. When she was old enough to apply for the local military she was ecstatic, taking her chance with glee to joined the armed forces, maybe ending up like the orphanages pseudo-father? She promised to later return and tell the new generations of orphans her adventures.
Name: Alexander Pendragon
Weapon: Staff, shortsword
Personality: Decisive, confident and often silent, Alexander is of the opinion that actions speaks louder than words. Not known for idle banter or chatter, he will normally only 'chat' with people he knows well, or who have managed to come closer to him emotionally. He has a tendency towards cynicism.
Description: Silvery-white hair, a trait combined from his lineage and magic-use, he is rarely seen not wearing red somewhere on himself. A broad runic tattoo is inked thickly onto his back.
Bio: Alexander descends from a long line of sorcerers . The family has been well known as servants of the realm, whether in battle, counter-espionage, scrying, magical research, weather affecting or, in Alexander's grandfathers case, advising the high courts on magical matters. The family's most recognizable trait is their silvery-white hair, which developed over the first dozen or so generations of mages, a testament to one of the many tolls magic has on the body. Working in unison with dragon-hunters, Alexanders's learning involved mostly combat magic, which took him out of the safety of civilization frequently.
Name: Virginia (Gina) Rockwell
Personality: Hardheaded and stubborn, she nonetheless has a good heart, though if you get in the way of what she wants, you'll meet with fire. Open and friendly, perhaps a little [i too] friendly sometimes.
Bio: Fourth child of the Rockwell family, little was expected of her. As was the tradition for third children and beyond in the family, she was sent to become a messenger once she reached a suitable age. She enjoyed the work, and particularly enjoyed wandering the world and seeing everything there was to see in the country. Recently, she's had more than the usual wanderlust, and when the option to cross the Wastes was offered, she was sad to see an older, experienced messenger get assigned instead of her. When additional information came to light, she jumped at the chance to go out and explore.
Weapon: Claws, Elemental Magic: Light and Water
Personality: He’d always been the life of the party, charismatic, friendly and eager to please. He was never the most ambitious, but could make the best of any situation, but that was before being turned into a demi-dragon. A monster. Now, shunned from society, he lives in solitude in a cave he’s laid claim to and turned into a home for himself, and discarded his given name for one given to him by a friend. He doesn’t want much from life, and has learned to keep his head down, preferring to keep to himself rather than drawing attention to himself and his newfound safe haven.
Description: Zaman’s most defining feature is his tail, which is proportionate to his body, thick and scaled like a dragon’s, often flicking about and curling as influenced by his emotions. His head, neck, back and tail are lined with horns, and most of his skin from his torso down is mangled with bronze coloured scales. His fingernails and toenails are long and curved like claws, making shoes and gloves an impossibility, but otherwise has only had to deal with minor inconveniences in no longer fitting in human clothing.
Bio: The son of a wealthy lady and a prostitute, his life was full of ups and downs from a young age: Things were always either sailing easy, or struggling just to get by. He was on the track to entering Mage training when one night of bad decisions led to his being marked with a draconic rune and banished from his mother’s side and into the Wastes.
Weapon: Her bite and scratch are dangerous and can cause infection as well as other diseases due to the amount of bacteria present in them. She is also extremely flexible and have the ability to climb things very easily.
Personality: Often depicted as a little savage, Aya enjoys to eat bugs and anything that has rotted for a few days. Fresh food is often a luxury for her so she resorts to becoming accustomed to eating almost anything she can digest. As a solitary creature, she flees in the face of other living beings but lashes out if she was cornered or if somebody disturbed her only food supply.
Description: Long scraggly hair. Pointed ears and sharp teeth . Her face paint consists of feces and dirt in order to frighten off certain creatures.
Bio: She was once a part of a venerable tribe of elves that roamed the lands of Sarance however one day the tribe was used for target practice to train new dragons and dragon riders how to kill people at a distance and nearly her entire tribe was eliminated. Aya dishonorably fled from battle and went to live in the Wastes where the harsh environment and merciless wild reduced her and her mental state to a sniveling creature.
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Gina watched with amusement as the mage who was supposed to be her bodyguard wasted no time in attempting to get in a woman's bedroll. And he'd been telling her to contain herself! Hardly ten seconds later, not even paying attention to the food but just going straight to bed a woman!
[i Well, at least I was right,] she thought ruefully.
She sat by the fire, choosing a seat beside the dragon-rider, and sat close enough their legs were just touching. "What's cooking?" she asked, looking up at him. "Smells delicious."
"Harpy," Clawfoot replied shortly, taking another bite.
Gina gave him an annoyed look; she'd wanted the dragon-rider to reply. And then it occurred to her exactly what he'd just said, and she made a face. Harpy? Monster? But it smelled so delicious.
She gave it a look, then pulled out her rations and chewed on a little bit of jerky. Monster! Monster, of all things. Well, it was the edge of the wastes, and they did look to be mostly hicks. The demi-dragon in particular bothered her. He was practically a monster himself; who'd invited him along? True, he was their guide, and true, who'd know a monsters' lair better than a monster--but still. This message was of the utmost importance, and they were trusting it to someone so unstable?
And the dragon-rider was happily eating the harpy like it was nothing. Gina twisted her lip and reconsidered, then looked around at the party. It was the dragon rider, the demi-dragon, the boy, her bodyguard, or the mustachioed messenger. She gave him a look, then looked away. Too old. The boy was too young. Alex wasn't her taste, and besides, he was...already preoccupied. And the demi-dragon...she feared what his claws might do in the heat of the moment. With a sigh, she stared into the fire. It looked as though it were the dragon-rider or bust, and right now...she made a face into the flames. Bust.
She only looked up when the youngest one spoke. "I'll take the morning watch," she offered. "I'm an early riser anyways."
The way Ausric pointed to the dragon stirred something up within Alexander. With a snap of his fingers he was ending a life, albeit a horses. Almost as if a distant memory, he could see it. Like an emperor in a coliseum, the man was condemning a fighter to the death with no more than a gesture or a word. The dragon pounced almost as if with glee, sailing through the air for the briefest of moments as it’s heavy weight came crashing down upon it’s target, renting the horse’s body with it’s tail like some kind of brutal Coup de grace. For Alexander, it was poetry in motion as each interlocking scale moved in unison, his eyes glancing over and observing the muscle groups as the dragon tore away at its meal, relishing in the delightful flesh of its prey, just as her rider did with his own food, which looked to be fresh meat; Likely it was from one of the many denizens of the local wilds. He had fought the creatures before but, this dragon was clearly different from the wild beasts that roamed the wastes; A perfect subject for study. He stood to get a closer view of her feasting, paying attention to how it used its limbs. Alexander looked over to Clawfoot as he spoke, nodding at the comment. The dragon was indeed in a way beautiful.
Alexander blinked at Oliver as he walked over, did they really send someone so young on such an important mission? Perhaps he merely looked young? No matter, he could be ruled out as a person of interest, so to speak. The other mage spoke up and his eyes darted to her again. She seemed to have been finishing up her meal as she approached him now. His eyes once again were almost alight with thin wisps of flame. Alexander had this thing about other mages, especially ones with such a confusing sense, or aura. There was something darker about her, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. As she shepherded him away he flexed his fingers, watching her as she spoke; A blast of mana? Did she mean to strike him? No, it was said with a different inflection, likely it was something else. The wink only confirmed Alexanders suspicions. She very well could have been intending to do terrible things to his body, but more than likely it appeared she wanted them to do something intimate to each-others respective lower halves. [+red [b “To put it simply, I deal mostly with fire.”]] he stated, raising an eyebrow at her. [+red [b “But we both know there’s a lot more to it than that."]] he added, turning to face her. Alexander was a reasonably tall man, standing almost head taller than his current companion; Leaning in, he raised his hand to Sasha’s chin, lifting her head to meet his eyes as he focused on gazing down at her. [b [+red “I cannot be whatever it is you want me to be to you. I think it prudent to tell you that now; Even if it’s just desires of the flesh.”]] His voice was a low monotone as he gazed at her, lowering his hand. His expression too, remained blank.
[+red "Bird people are people, yes~"] Avani's face visibly dropped midway through the mans sentence, the green tinge returning to her face. [+red "~but the important thing to remember is that they're also birds!"] Avani regretted turning to look as the man began carving the harpy, the sickening squish and gristle making her clutch at her stomach and mouth, a hint of vomit rising up. Stumbling away, Avani found a hiding place just out of earshot of the grisly task, forcing a smile to help keep what was left in her stomach down. Settling down she leaned heavily against the tree stump, bringing out her rations. Trying to force the earlier thoughts from her mind she nibbled mindlessly at a piece of jerky, looking out over the wastes. [#1E90FF [i "Such a desolate place. Even a little spooky, kinda."]] she mumbled to herself. She was raising her flask to her lips as she heard a scream. The voice sounded like the mage, maybe she was in trouble? Closing her flask and flinging down her stuff Avani grabbed her rifle and shot back towards the group, only to find the mage returning with some kind of, mystical warning. Of-course she should be careful in the wastes, but if the mage was getting some kind of premonitions it might be important to mention any oddities to the group.
By now the harpy had been crackling on the fire, and the juices were steadily dripping down onto the fire, sizzling rather nicely. The sound of hoof beats drew her attention as the new arrivals presented themselves. A new message? Re-penned? She paused to ponder what would have happened if the earlier message had been delivered without the changes. Nodding to the two newcomers, her attention re-focused on the carved up harpy meat. To her rather great distress, the meat actually smelt fairly tantalizing. Awkwardly shifting over, she stood next to the roasting flesh. Lost in an abyss of conflicting emotions and priorities, she tentatively reached out to pluck one of the pieces of meat, just as the dragon began to chow down on the horse. Panic shot through Avani as she looked over, the rather violent and sudden feasting causing her to jump back, startled. As the others began to dig in, the similarity between the dragon rider and the dragon was startling, both feasting on the flesh wildly and with abandon, and even Clawfoot's sharp pointed teeth ripping into the meat was rather unsettling. She could feel that same sick feeling sweep over her, the idea of monsters eating people flashing through her mind. The meat smelled good but, [i the meat was people]. [#1E90FF "Excuse me for a bit-"] she managed, turning and stumbling quickly away, back to her earlier post.
Retching on the roots of a nearby tree, she could still smell the meat, only now the good scent turned to a reminder of 'people meat'. Retching again, she shakily eased herself up the tree, leaning heavily into it's thick trunk. [#1E90FF [i "They're going to think you're weak. A liability. Can't handle being with monsters."]] The thoughts added to her worry, what if the group sent her back? That means she was basically fired, or she'd be thrown out of the military, right? But they were eating [i people], sort of. She clutched at the sides of her head as the inner monologue continued on, trudging back towards her stuff with her rifle slung over her shoulder. Finally reaching her gear she slumped down hard into the stump, bringing up the earlier discarded flask and washing out her mouth with some water. Maybe she wasn't cut out for this? They were barely away from town and she'd already failed the others. She had excelled in most of her training, was an excellent shot, learnt signalling, basic math and even how to read and write, a rarity among the orphans. Still, it wasn't enough. Packing away what she had taken out, she trudged slowly back to camp, wringing her hands with unease as she entered the clearing. The smell from the meat threatened to turn her stomach once more, but she'd already lost what she'd eaten earlier. Sitting down near the fire she seemed to almost shrink down in place, appearing even smaller than she already was. She was staring intently at her hands as she wrung them over and over nervously.
A small creature hunched over an overturned rock. It was stuffing tiny insects into its mouth noisily. When a small, emaciated furry creature passed by curiously, a skinny and dirty hand reached out and snatched it up. Then the creature bit down on the soft bones of the squealing critter and tore its head off, chewing on the vertebrae . . . occasionally spitting out some hard things.
[i So good.]
It relished the soft, warm belly meat. Then the creature scratched itself, sniffed its nails and sucked on its fingers for a few moments. It heard some steps of a bigger predator not too far away. The creature hissed and scurried off on three limbs, still holding the mangled critter's body in its scraggly hands.
After what seemed like a long time, the creature stopped running and took a bite of its headless food, chewing it loudly and looking around wildly. Slowly, the scent of warm, cooking meat began to drift towards it. The creature's head swung in that direction and it dropped the dead thing. [i Fod]
It dashed forwards with drooling lips, hands ravenously tearing away at the foliage and roots that slapped against its face as the creature charged through the undergrowth of the forest to get the food.
Then there was talking.
It halted and trembled uncontrollably before urinating on the spot. They were people. The creature realized with a pang in its heart that it has been so long. It panted unevenly and jumped around in place but nobody heard it. There was a sort of desperation in its desire for social contact as the creature wrestled with itself to run out and greet them.
At same time within it raged a paralyzing fear of anything live and bigger than it. Then there was [i meat]. It let out a loud, anguished screech and sprinted up a tree, its long dirty hair trailing after it.
The creature decided to watch them for a while as it jumped from branch to branch to catch a full view of the group. Around ten were situated around the fire and . . . a dragon. It trembled, terrified of angering the giant fire-beast. But the [i meat]!! The creature's breathing started to quicken in panic but a small conscience within it told it to calm down and wait.
Sasha looked up in surprise when the newcomers arrived. This she had not forseen. Her fingers were sticky from the juice of the harpy meat and her mouth was slightly slathered with grease. It was too good and tasted very similarily to wild chicken--just a little bit more stringy and less fat. Nevertheless it was still delicious considering how for previous few days her diet consisted of brown pellets and booze. Sasha didn't realize how much she was missing out on.
After she introduced herself to the newcomers, her eyesight was trained on the man with white hair and the background noises of Pearl feasting on the new horse drowned from her ears. Suddenly she wished she didn't feel or look so exhausted. She could tell he was a mage but she could only assume the type. It was rare to find another mage and even rarer to find one of the same type. It would be good to combine powers while casting spells and perhaps the repercussions would not be so bad. Sasha sucked the juice around her fingers and then wiped her mouth on the bottom part of her cloak. It was already dirty and greasy from all sorts of obscure uses and she knew she should try to wash it soon.
Because Sasha had only been around a limited number of mages in her life and all of them practiced illegally, it was refreshing to be around somebody a little more like her and it made her feel drawn to Alex. She looked at Oliver, "[b I'll volunteer to take the next watch.]" Sasha felt somewhat apprehensive of what would come to her if she ever slept or meditated. Most likely she'd also stay up during Oliver's watch as well.
Sasha stood up and walked to the new mage, put her arm around his and then slowly drew him from the crowd, "[b I'm sure you'll have time to eat later. Anyways . . . are you a fire mage or an air mage? I can give you a [i blast of mana] wherever you want.]" She winked at him tentatively. Pickup lines were old and occasionally silly but she still enjoyed using them because though not entirely serious, they got her point across while being subtle.
Oliver had quietly watched the group as they set up the camp. They weren’t far into the journey, but the expected Harpy attack had drained them more than Oliver had expected. Sasha in particular had been the worst affected, her magic, while powerful, clearly took a large toll on her in use. Combined with the curse she had mentioned earlier, Oliver didn’t envy her.
The harpy meat had been carved up, roasted over the fire and divided amongst them. At least, amongst those who were willing. Oliver thought it was foolish to give up food just because it was unsightly. Food was nourishment, and it was another meal he wouldn’t need to dip into his travel rations for. He could also admit that it was a lot tastier than he’d expected. In training he’d never eaten this good.
At least, it had tasted good before the surprise of newcomers had caused him to drop his dinner to the dirt, his hand already at the sword still on his hip. He hadn’t been told there would be newcomers, and his brain racked for reasons why the mission may have been altered after it had already begun. Had something happened? Could their mission itself have been effected?
As a mere grunt in the party, he didn’t have much a place to ask. Dutifuly though he made his introduction along with the others, and tried to dust off as much dirt from his dinner as possible. He was still determined to enjoy it though.
Then came the dying sounds of the horse and the wet, crunchy noises of Pearl devouring the horse from the inside out. Oliver choked on his next bite, then forced himself to swallow it, casting a sideways glance at the messy feat. Clawfoot didn't seem the least bit put off the dragon's poor manners, and Ausric himself almost seemed [i pleased] with them.
"We're a bunch of freaks," Oliver muttered to himself, chewing up another bite and swallowing before addressing the group at large. "I'll take first watch tonight. Who wants second watch?" It would give him a chance to write in his journal for a time, and he was too worked up to sleep now anyway.
The harpy was strung up and roasting in no time, releasing it's delicious scent into the air. It might attract monsters, but he didn't care. He wasn't about to complain about the first hot food he'd had in a while. And once they were in the Wastes, they'd be unable to afford a fire most nights, let alone hot meals. They could enjoy their last night in relative safety.
Most of the party was surprisingly unworried about eating the harpy. Not that there was any reason to be worried, but he'd seen groups eschew perfectly fine meat for stupider reasons. If anything, he was a little sad there'd be less for him.
He hardly paid attention to the mage's proclamation. It was always dangerous in the Wastes. Knowing what form the danger came in barely helped, especially when clairvoyance was such an uncertain art in the first place. She'd had a vision of a young girl, for crying out loud. Where did she expect to run into one of those in the Wastes? But if it kept the others on their guard, all the better.
The two new additions to the party were...irritation he didn't need at the moment. He glared at both of them as he settled back by the fire and grabbed a stick of harpy meat. It was still a little raw--the way he liked it. A part of him wanted to bury his face in the creature's belly and tear it apart, the way the dragon was doing to the traveler's horse, just rip it apart and devour it while it still squirmed, blood dripping from his jowls....
He suppressed the urge with a grimace. They'd been getting stronger lately, and more frequent. A bad sign.
[i Can I complain? I've lived longer than I should have already.]
And yet there were still things he had to accomplish, goals to achieve, enemies to slay.
[i After this mission,] he resolved, biting into the harpy meat. [i Before I go mad. I can't afford to put it off any longer.]
"Your dragon is beautiful," he commented to Ausric, gesturing with the stick of meat. She was splattered with horse's blood and eagerly licking herself clean. A noble beast. "Nothing like the ugly brutes out here." Her scales were a far more uniform color, for one, and she wasn't wearing any of the warpaint the wild dragons he encountered usually wore. "My best friend became a rider, you know..." He fell silent, then turned back to the meat. How odd of him, to bring up the past...perhaps it was because the rider reminded him of her. Or maybe it was a sign of something darker, the first warning of the decline.
[i Or maybe I'm just old and tired.] He smiled to himself and shook his head. It wouldn't do to worry over every little thing, when there were threats far more real awaiting them in the Wastes.
They'd just about finished roasting dinner when a nearby scream made Ausric nearly jump out of his skin. He whipped around to see Sasha, looking haggard and wild-eyed, turning also towards them. She didn't look hurt, only scared. Ausric relaxed in increments, not exactly sure what it meant when a mage freaked out like that. Was it her powers tormenting her again? More payment for the spell that had helped bring down the harpy? Or...
"I had a vision about a little girl in a castle filled with treasure, a man and a dragon in darkness and then two dragons slaughtering themselves in the sky," she said hoarsely."I cannot tell you whether my sights are good or bad but we must be alert."
Ausric tensed all over again. "I wasn't too worried about keeping an eye on Pearl, considering I can't help but know where she is all the time, but tearing each other apart midair is a little more worrisome," he said. "It may be inevitable travelling through the Wastes like we are, but a castle and a little girl... Could it have been a vision of Gabront? Or... Sarance?" Sasha's face didn't seem to hold any answers. He gave her a tight smile, trying to reassure her. "Ah, well, we'll know it when we get to it, anyway. Here, take some roast, it's about done. You look like you could use some nice, hot food and a good night's rest." He offered her a skewer of the meat, dripping with melting fat. The stuff smelled a lot like duck, strangely.
[i Curiosity? Interest! Wariness!] went Pearl, across the camp. Ausric looked up from the skewer of harpy meat he'd been collecting for her . His mighty steed was alert where she lay, her head erect on her short neck and her head turned upwind, nostrils flaring. Her tail stirred restively in the leaf litter. Someone was coming, but it was definitely a someone and not a something. Probably best not to raise a fuss prematurely. Ausric continued his interrupted motions, casually stepping around the fire to Clawfoot's side.
"Someone is coming towards us, on horseback, I think. No clue who."
As it turned out, the caution was unnecessary. The two new additions to their merry band were a surprise. From the looks of Clawfoot's costernation, they were a surprise to him, too, and not a very welcome one. Pearl, on the other hand, more than welcomed them. Ausric's attention snapped from the return smile he'd been aiming at Gina to Alex's words.
"I will need the dragon to at least carry one of my saddle bags, in return for the meal."
"Truly? Carrying your equipment is the least we can do for such generosity! Thank you!" he grinned fit to burst. When all of the tack and Alex's belongings were clear, and the horse was nervously shifting away from the group of chattering people, Ausric snapped his fingers and pointed at it. "Pearl, dinner! Eat up!"
This was a verbal command Pearl knew. Eagerly, she rolled to her feet and pounced. The horse barely had time to startle at the dragon's sudden motion before a few dozen tons of scale and muscle were landing on it, snapping its neck instantly. The tail-strike to the side was almost superfluous except for the way that Pearl's spikes slit open its belly, spilling blood and intestines across the grass. The dragon wasted no time shoving her face into them and chowing down.
The sounds of bone crunching and meat tearing had been pretty horrific when Ausric had been new to dragon-riding, but now he found them soothing. It didn't hurt that all of his and Pearl's minds were alight with [i delight and satisfaction].
Ausric bit into one of the skewers he still held and nearly moaned at the burst of flavor. It [i did] taste like duck! He tore at the food almost as voraciously as his dragon was doing as he made his way back to the fire and his companions.
The treck had been a short, but rather hard and fast one as they made their way through the forests on horseback. The horses had been pushed quite hard to get this close to the wastes this quickly, and at such a pace were bound to keel over should they be ridden for much longer. Alexanders horse squealed in protest as they paused, snorting as it stamped. [#FF00FF "See anything?"] Gina called out. Alex's travelling companion, Virginia Rockwell, looked to be lost, not that they weren't probably lost as soon as they entered the forest in the first place. With a slight sigh, Alexander looked around for any signs of the party they were searching for. A slow, careful look revealed little, but he was sure he had seen a trail of red droplets earlier in the leaf-litter, likely blood from something. Perhaps the party had already been wounded? As Alexander moved to hop off his horse, Gina called out to him once more. [#FF00FF "Alex! This way!"] Raising an eyebrow, his eyes followed hers as he peered up at the parting in the treetops. [i Smoke]. Not a very inconspicuous sign, but then again there shouldn't have been anything too dangerous here for whoever it was to attract, normally. Alexander spurred his horse after the woman, following in her wake as she shot off.
As they slowed to a stop, reaching the clearing, Alexander looked over his new would-be-team, observing each one carefully. [+red [b [i "I wonder."]]] He thought to himself, peering over them with a nod towards Clawfoot, who looked to be the most likely of the group to be the guide; The array of misfits were spread before them. Alexanders eyes finally settled on the more promiscuous of the women. [i A Mage]. No doubt about it. Alexander remained on his own quite heavily-breathing horse as Gina moved off to tether hers, shorlty before being scolded by Clawfoot. Alexanders gaze was fixed upon on the other mage, almost as if he was trying to pierce through her with extreme scrutiny, a steady flame burning behind his eyes as he regarded her. The mention of a dragon snapped Alexanders gaze away. Thinking over the situation, the demi-dragon was correct. These horses were little more than bait now. Sighing quietly, Alexander dismounted and began unsaddling his horse; It had been starting to develop a swayback and he had planned to sell it to some farmers for driving; But a chance to gain a closer, calmer observation on a feasting dragon was at least interesting, and the horse didn't know these woods well enough to return on its own. Dragon-food seemed to be the most likely outcome for Gruff. The horse gave an almost puzzled look at Alexander as he removed it's bit, dumping the bridle and reins aside.
As Gina made her introductions, Alexander followed her gaze to the dragon rider before clearing his throat a little. [+red [b "Try to contain yourself."]] he muttered, trying to be quiet enough for only Gina to hear. [+red [b "Alexander Pendragon."]] he called, giving a slight bow towards Clawfoot with an almost courtly flourish. Alexanders eyes passed over the other mage once more before he turned to face the dragon-rider. [+red [b "I will need the dragon to at least carry one of my saddle bags, in return for the meal."]] Alexander stated, looking back to the rather uneasy looking horse. The crackling of the fire and the scent of roasting meat was enticing enough for Alexander to wander in it's direction. He eased himself down onto a log near the fire, stretching out his hands towards the flames. He began to stare into the fire as it danced along the wood, the flame licking at his hands and hissing as droplets from the meat dripped slowly down.
"See anything?" Gina asked, looking around at the sky and the brush for any hint. It had been a day's worth of hard riding to get here to the edge of the Wastes, and now that they were there, there was no sign of the group they were supposed to join anywhere. It made sense, she supposed; if they were easy for humans to find, they'd be easy for monsters to find, as well. But even so...they were supposed to have brought a dragon, right? Surely the beast would have left marks.
Maybe they were just really far off. She'd thought she'd been following it, but then the tracks had just disappeared and, well, it'd be suicide for a domestic dragon to take to the air around these parts. Truth was, she'd been lost since they'd entered to woods; she just hadn't known it.
"Well, shit," she said, and leaned back in her saddle. She stared up at the sky, exhausted. Why'd this always happen to her? Why couldn't she get some good luck for once in her life?
At that moment, she spotted the smoke.
"Alex! This way!" she called, and wheeled her horse around. The smoke wasn't that far away--she hadn't been that wrong to start!
Though her companion...well, she wasn't quite sure what to think about him. He looked old, but his face was young--it was the white hair that did it. The odd choice of jacket, baring his chest nearly to his bellybutton, didn't win him any points in her personality book, though if she were being completely honest she didn't mind it too much. Questionable fashion, but, well...he did have the goods.
In a few moments, they had reached the edge of the clearing. The group of people gathered within looked...a little more eclectic than she'd been expecting. She eyed up the promiscuous-looking woman with a knowingly-cocked eyebrow; looked like Alex would get along well with her.
A man with odd shoes--no. A man with a dragon's claws for feet stood, eyes slitted. Gina's eyes widened--they'd told her the guide was [i odd], but they hadn't mentioned he'd be a demi-dragon! She put her hands up in a peaceful gesture and swallowed her surprise with a smile. Demi-dragons were dangerous--but then again, perhaps it was best to trust a monster to lead you across a land of monsters. "I'm a part of your group; they sent me a day too late to meet you in the town. New information has come to light, and a new message had to be penned."
"I was told there would be six," Clawfoot growled, crossing his arms.
"Sorry," Gina said, taken aback. "Nothing I can do about it, sweets." She hopped off her horse and guided it to a tree. None of the rest of the travelers had horses; what kind of idiots were they?
She felt the demi-dragon's angry gaze on her as she tied up her horse, and she looked up. "There a problem?" she asked.
"Do you want to get killed? Send that monster bait away," Clawfoot said, deeply irritated.
"Sorry," Gina said, shaking her head. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today...
"You can leave one for the dragon. I imagine she's hungry," the demi-dragon replied.
Gina exchanged a look with Alex, then looked back at her horse. She'd borrowed it from her father's stables; he'd probably want it back. "Um, no thanks," she said, and slipped the bridle off the horse. "Go home, sweetie," she whispered to it, and patted its cheek. The horse looked at her, then wandered off into the trees.
"Right, hello," she said, addressing the group at large. "I'm Virginia Rockwell, but you can call me Gina. I look forward to traveling with you." She smiled at the group, gaze lingering on the dragon-rider boy. At least there was no shortage of eye candy on this trip.
//OOC:We can go ahead and assume name-introductions happened off-screen. At the rate we're introducing characters, we'd be doing introductions every other post if we tried to keep at it.
Blood-red sky. Scorched tree trunks. Desolation stretching as far as the sky can see. [i The Wastes] She thought to herself. Sasha felt like screaming. Her vision proved true--except that there wern't any dragons in the sky tearing each other apart. She looked towards Pearl and pointed at Austric randomly, "[b I had a vision regarding dragons. You must keep her within your watch.]" Sasha stated ominously.
As the entire group started to settle down and volunteer to help out with camp, Sasha knew she would rest for now. There was nothing she could do.
The mage walked away from the camp and found an isolated rock some ways from where everybody was and sat down on it with her legs crossed.
Sasha closed her eyes, rested her hands on her knees and took a deep breath.
[i A shimmering golden goblet. The table was long and filled with golden plates and cutlery. In the middle of the extravagantly-carved redwood furniture were crystal flowers and flowerpots. Tiny little gems gleamed from the petals and silver shards shaped like leaves were present on the stalks. A little girl sat at the head of the table. She had long golden locks that tumbled down her shoulders like a waterfall. She had light, fair skin and her cheeks were rosy pink. Her eyes were closed as if she were napping and she was holding a golden scepter. An over-sized crown sat on her head as if it were about to slide off. Surrounded the little girl were hills of golden coins and jelwelry. The chair she sat in loomed many feet above her head and in the center of the top was a massive emerald.]
[i Then there was darkness. A dragon roared and a flame erupted from the walls. A figure manifested itself from the fire and there was a big man. His eyes blazed with power and when he reached forwards, his hand turned into the head of a massive dragon. Soon his entire form was gone and in place was a dark flying reptile with small, menacing eyes. It opened its mouth and all there was is infinite darkness. Suddenly she felt burning all over her body and the vision returned to two dragons fighting in the blood-red sky of the Wastes. One bit the neck of the other and the other dug its claws into the throat of the opposing dragon. The two of them fell out of the sky with a loud echoing screech.]
[i As she burned to death, she screamed.]
"[b AAAAAHHHHhhhh..!!]" Sasha opened her eyes and realized she was panicking. She looked down and momentarily saw the skin on her hands charred and burnt but when she blinked, the vision was gone. Her heart was racing and she realized smoke was billowing out of her nose, ears and mouth again. The mage leapt off of the rock and landed on the ground clumsily. Her legs gave out from under her and she landed face-first into the dirt. [i Damn!] Sasha forgot she was still pretty weak. She picked herself up shakily and then tried to calm herself.
Sasha didn't intend to use her foresight but it somehow happened anyways. She rummaged through her pouch and ate some of the tiny black pellets. [i I think I've made a much better recovery.] Though she felt somehow fatigued, Sasha knew her appearance should be back to normal now--she even felt a little hungry.
Smelling roasted harpy, the mage slowly stood up and walked towards the group, "[b I had a vision about a little girl in a castle filled with treasure, a man and a dragon in darkness and then two dragons slaughtering themselves in the sky.]" her voice was hoarse and Sasha desperately tried to clear it.
"[b I cannot tell you whether my sights are good or bad but we must be alert.]" She plopped down on the floor and closed her eyes for a few moments, her head still swimming.
Somehow, Oliver had fallen short of expectations in battle. His charge had been too slow, Teagan getting the wounded harpy first and in a series of strikes finally been downed.
On the bright side, and he tried to focus on this, he was better off. He hadn't used much energy in the battle, hadn't dirtied his uniform or dulled his blade. None of his actions could have been judged as [i wrong] or failing the team. There wasn't a chance for him to mess up. He hadn't brought extra attention to himself.
But all the while it nagged at the back of his mind like a mosquito that couldn't be swatted away or squished. [i He had been useless.]
Oliver re-sheathed his sword as the others began to banter. As the group set into moving again, Oliver trailed further behind, this time determined that he would make sure nothing else snuck up on them. At least not from the rear.
In battle, Clawfoot had proved he had a mind to keep the fury of battle from clouding his judgement, instead moving strategically to end the harpy swiftly and with the least damage to their team. Sasha had brought the beast down with her magic, a terribly impressive feat of bending the very environment around them to her bidding. Teagan, as Oliver had seen all to clearly, finished off the harpy. Then, because he hadn't seen her in the frontlines, Oliver knew Avani had been doing her job properly, and had probably slipped away to seek a better vantage point to cover them from. Ausric had gone to wrestle with Pearl, but then dragon riders were a strange people.
Their camp was designated to be within the cover of trees before the great expanse of the wastes. As a child, Oliver had seen the Wastes before, and he hated them the more for it. The dead brush, unnatural barrenness. A place so clearly like an infected wound on the earth.
"I'll collect some word," Oliver declared curtly, turning away from the Wastes and depositing his pack at the base of a tree. He kept his weapons on him as he stalked away from the group. Whether they would build a fire or not was up to the others, but Oliver figured it gave him something to do, and they could always use the wood to build some manner of shelter or cover should it become necessary.
Of course, [i of course] the first thing that would happen in the first fight that broke out would be Pearl causing a ruckus. From the moment Sasha's vines caught the harpy, Ausric was forced to sprint across the path to seize the harness around Pearl's neck and dangle his full body weight from it in order to keep the dumb beast from lunging into the air and giving away their position. He couldn't keep her from trumpeting a strident challenge at the trapped monster, which only marginally increased her already-furious struggles. Then the harpy was on the ground being swarmed by the others, and there was no room for either Ausric or Pearl to cut in . Teagan finished it off, Sasha suffered greatly for her contribution, and Clawfoot pragmatically trussed the monster up for dinner.
The Pearl-wrangling only intensified now that the creature was lying in its own delicious pool of blood on the ground. It was more than a meal for the domesticated dragon, but wouldn't feed all of them and her, too. Ausric sternly transmitted [i command! Denial!] and resigned himself to subsisting on his packed rations so that Pearl could take his share of the harpy. When Pearl responded with [i sullen acquiesence] he let go of her harness and moved to pick up the other end of Clawfoot's makeshift spit roast. At least Ausric was pretty tall--one of the girls might have had trouble hefting the thing as high as Clawfoot was doing. It was pretty tricky to step around the blood being trailed across the path as he walked though, especially without jerking the spear around and either annoying Clawfoot or making him drop it. He was so focused on his feet and burden that the sight of the Wastes hardly made an impression at all. Not that it was a particularly interesting sight to begin with, really. This was hardly Ausric's first journey to the Wastes, though this one would be taking him far, far farther in than he'd ever gone before. Still, appreciated aesthetics could come after dinner was made.
“Y-you’re not really going to eat ‘her’, right?" Lance Corporal Ekta asked worriedly as the two of them slung the thing back down to make camp. “I mean, it’s like a person, but a bird, right?” She was addressing Clawfoot, but Ausric smiled at her anyway.
"Bird people are people, yes, but the important thing to remember is that they're also birds!" he chimed in cheerfully. In addition to being used to Wastes travel, he was long inured to Wastes food. "Don't be fooled by her pretty face, she's got the brain of a rabid animal. No different at all than eating a doe or a hind. And we've got plenty of pretty faces to keep us company for the rest of the journey anyway!" Methodically, he brought out a knife and began to strip the corpse in preparation for roasting. Pearl, still sullen, retreated deeper into the trees both to better conceal herself and to keep a lookout while they made camp. She settled down to her belly with a colossal sigh.
Avani had the rifle up and ready; Pressed in against her shoulder she steadied her sights onto the creature. Clipping the harpy’s wing with the bullet was difficult enough, and hitting it while allies circled it in the thicket was probably going to be too risky. Surely they''d be fine without her help though, they were capable fighters, right? Avani scanned the area briefly before she hopped down from her slightly elevated perch, wobbling briefly as she stepped onto the lower set of tree roots. Within a few moments she had bounded close enough to the small clearing to see vaguely what was happening; It looked as if the others looking to attack the thing from multiple sides. Frowning as she glanced down at her rifle, Avani considered how much munitions she had. ‘Not enough’ was her conclusion. Sure, the case was still full, but how long would that last here in the wilderness? It sure as heck didn't last all that long in target practice. That was a definite benefit that the others had over her; Their weapons didn't run out of bullets. Even crude arrows could be fletched on the move, and the mage-woman just needed rest. Avani ran the back of her right hand over the concealed revolver at the small of her back. She watched the fighting as she considered the fuller implication of their journey, and in the fleeting moment of worry, doubt was taking root.
The skirmish continued as Avani looked on, unsure whether to help or not as Teagan fell, but the small battle quickly came to an end with a few killing blows from the party. With the harpy dead Avani’s smile slowly returned and her heartbeat slowed. She smiled more broadly as Teagan chuckled out her amusement. [#1E90FF “Well, it was probably the best we could expect to fight so early.”] added Avani, adding her own chuckle in. The sound of throwing up sounded nearby, drawing Avani’s eyes. The mage-woman appeared to be returning her last meal to the planet, and she looked [I terrible]. With her outburst Avani’s smile turned awkward, still watching. With the team moving on Avani once more slung her rifle, making sure to check that everything was in order. Shuffling aside as the mage woman trudged past Avani looked to the others with a shrug. [#1E90FF “So, uh~”] Clawfoot interrupted as he explained his meal arrangement. Avani visibly turned a light shade of green at the mention of [I “her”] and [i “eat well tonight.”] Sure this thing wasn’t a human, but to Avani it was too close for comfort. [#1E90FF “N-no thank you.”] she managed, edging around the corpse. [#1E90FF “Just trail rations for me tonight.”] she added, her stomach audibly gurgling at the thought of eating a humanoid. A disturbing thought passed through her mind as the queasiness set in; Maybe this guy ate people, instead of chocolate? ~ What if [I people] tasted [I better] than chocolate? She trudged on, clearly distressed.
Avani unconsciously held her breath as she looked over the desolation that was the Wastes. Ignoring the fact that there was barely any real cover, this place was like some kind of jagged nightmare, burnt stumps, trunks torn apart, branches long since gone missing and those that remained were gnarled and spiky. With the call for camp Avani’s mind wandered back to the idea of cooking and eating the harpy, returning to her pale-green visage. [#1E90FF “Y-you’re not really going to eat [I ‘her’], right?”] mumbled Avani, focused on her fingers as she awkwardly pressed them together. [#1E90FF “I mean, it’s like a person, but a bird, right?”] she added, awkwardly smiling as she looked up at her companions. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was worried she’d try some and like it. Silly ideas of turning into some kind of creature that roamed the woods eating people sat at the edges of her mind, taunting her more childish side.
The harpy fell at last. It hit the ground with a wet thump, leaves flying up where it fell. It twitched, weakly cried out, and then fell still. Completely, utterly still.
The mage fell to her knees, puking, and Clawfoot watched silently. Mages always had it rough...he wouldn't wish that fate on anyone, anymore than he'd wish his own fate on anyone.
"Is anyone injured?" he asked, looking over the group. Everyone appeared to be fine, with little more than scrapes and bruises in the way of injury...besides the mage, but that had little to do with harm the harpy had dealt. She would know how to deal with it.
He looked back at the harpy. There was good meat on the creature; it'd be a pity to see it go to waste. He fetched the wrappings on his spear and rewrapped it, then pulled two lengths of leather cord from his pack. Businesslike, he tied the ankles to one end of his spear and the wrists to the other, then looked back at the group. "Someone grab the other end of the spear. We'll carry her to camp and eat well tonight."
They continued on through the woods. As they walked, the path narrowed; fortunately, the woods grew sparser at the same time. The sun traveled slowly across the sky as they traveled slowly toward the border of the woods.
As the sun set red as fire in the distance, they came to it. The edge of the Wastes. The treeline dropped off abruptly, as though someone had drawn a line. On the other side of the line, there were only burnt stumps, trunks torn apart, branches long since gone missing. The previously flat terrain became rolling hills here, rolling hills that mounted higher and higher until at last they were tall-cresting mountains, rocky faces exposed to the elements, heights tipped with snow. It was a breathtaking view, and one that Clawfoot was soundly sick of. He looked back to the group.
"We'll camp here," Clawfoot said, "in the trees, where we still have some cover. Tomorrow, we'll have to set out across the empty lands. Dangers more dire yet await us in the folds of those mountains."
//It's okay if no one wants to pick up the harpy, I'll react one way or another in the next post.
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