Let's be Friends

After falling out with her usual hunter, Madeira recrutis Zach for the roll

(This is a thread from Mizahar's fantasy role playing forum. Why don't you register today? This message is not shown when you are logged in. Come roleplay with us, it's fun!)

The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

Moderator: Luminescence

Let's be Friends

Postby Madeira Craven on May 2nd, 2019, 9:20 pm

Image
    75th of Spring, 519
It was a chilly morning at the Hunters Guild. The soggy Spring rain had finally decided to clear for a few bells, and the hunters were taking advantage of the excellent visibility to try their luck in the mountain woods. They passed through the guild alone or in pairs, to fill up supplies or enjoy a hearty breakfast before they hunted down the days catch. The air was flavoured with camaraderie and hope as those who braved the wilderness prepared for the day.

That was until the oak doors opened, and a cold wind shaped like a small, pale woman breezed inside. She was not a hunter, that was plain to everyone there. She was dressed appropriately in sturdy pants and a warm black mohair cloak, with a crossbow hanging from her leather gloved hands. But there was something about her prim posture and the many ugly rings on her fingers, not to mention the fine, clean state of her clothes, that spoke loudly of her complete inexperience with the wilds. As she passed a few people did a double take. On her back, covered by the cloak but for a downy head, was what looked like a year old baby strapped to her back.

The woman paused, quickly scanned the room, and made a beeline for a clean cut redhead bent over his breakfast of mutton, mushrooms and beer.

"Laird, where the hai have you been? I asked for you a week ago", Madeira all but snarled in the hunter's ear as she came up behind him. The half Inarta didn't even acknowledge her presence as she sat on a stool next to him, and simply tipped back the last of his morning beer.

"Can't a man finish his breakfast before he's chewed out? What do you want, Craven."

"What I want is to not chase my hunter halfway across the city to collect what he promised to bring me! I think all the alcohol is making you forget the details of our little agreement, Laird. Where are the lion paws?"

"I'm sorry", he chuckled, waving at the barkeeper to bring him another beer, "did you say your hunter? I don't remember putting on a collar and making myself your bitch. You'll have your petching paws when I'm good and ready to find them. Now leave me alone. Your frigid little ass is spoiling my breakfast."

Something dark and angry flashed behind Madeira's spectacles, and her voice dropped to a growl. "Wow, you really should be careful with those drinks, Laird. Now you're starting to forget who you're talking to."

"No, you're forgetting that a hunter lives for himself."

Laird had always been a free spirited little petcher. He didn't like to be told what to do, and he liked Madeira even less. Their professional relationship had been glued together by greed and necessity, but the tighter she held him the more he struggled. This used to be solved by a flash of coin and a gentle reminder of what he was there for. But after two seasons of this she was exhausted with this man and his stubbornness, of fighting him for every inch of ground, and reminding him just how good she was paying him for what he did. Her patience was fraying just being in his presence.

"I figured you wouldn't have them. That's why today I'm going with you, and we're coming back with what you owe me." Her volume dipped low, conscious of the barkeep a few meters away. "Its cute that you think you can play games with me, but I don't pay you for your sass. Yet lately that's all you seem to be providing me."

Laird took a second to look her up and down from the corner of his eye, lingering insolently as they travelled from her tall black boots to the top of her severe braid.

"No. There's not a chance I'm taking you anywhere. I'm not here to babysit you or your spawn. You pay for my drinks and my kills and that's it."

What kind of trouble would she be in, she wondered, if she loaded that crossbow on her lap and shot him in the leg? Her blood was boiling in her veins, but she refused to show it. Acting cool and composed was not terribly difficult if you'd been practicing all your life. She just had to pretend they were talking over a dining table at the Craven Manor in Alvadas. The thought quickly threw ice down her spine. Cool and composed. She sighed through her nose; she was done with this man.

"You know what? You're right." She sat back and away from his space, her hands open in defeat. "I was wrong to think I could buy your obedience. You're not my bitch and I have no right to tell you what to do."

Laird finally paused in his drinking and turned to face her fully, squinting at her like he wasn't quite sure if he was hallucinating. Off balance after bracing for the storm he expected from her, it was all he could do to nod sharply and return to his meal.

"I do have other dogs, though", Madeira went on conversationaly, slipping carefully off her barstool to keep from jostling the baby on her back. "Loyal, protective hounds that I love. Some of them are dead, others are not." She leaned in close to the back of Liard's neck, watching the skin above his collar ripple with her whisper. "I'm letting you out of our agreement, Laird, but you will still keep my secrets. Or else you'll find these dogs have a nasty bite."

Tugging her cloak around her shoulders she stalked out with as much grace as she could manage. At the door she turned and smiled brightly as she addressed the hunter one last time from across the room. "Of course, if you change your mind I'd be happy to take you back. I still need a hunter, after all. Until then you can pay for your own damn drinks."

It took all her effort not the slam the door on the way out. And once in the dewy morning quiet it was all she could do not to shatter it with a scream. How dare Laird treat her that way! How dare he go back on their deal! She had never counted the hunter as an ally, but she had relied on his skills anyway. Now that that relationship had detonated how was she going to practice her malediction? He was her supplier!

The problem was that she assumed generosity was the iron clad way to keep him around. She had thrown so much money into him just to keep him honest, but in the end that resource was finite. Money didn't keep people around for long.

Pulling a souldart from the quiver around her thigh she slammed her foot into the stirrup of her bow and cranked back the string. Snapping the arrow into the barrel she sighted down the nearest tree. It was a spindly mountain breed, bent by the wind and rustling with a new growth of leaves. She held her breath to steady her hands, leaning away from the weight of the sleeping baby behind her, and pulled the trigger. With a satisfying thunk the bolt hit the trunk, throwing bark shrapnel into the air that she imagined were pieces of Laird's skull. Damn that man!
Image
x
Last edited by Madeira Craven on May 10th, 2019, 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1311
Words: 1103279
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

Lets be Friends

Postby Zach Grasswind on May 4th, 2019, 9:22 am

Image
Zach set his mug down on the table with a dull thunk and returned his attention to the remainder of his breakfast, attacking the food with an energy he hadn’t had in recent days. The hunters of Lhavit had been growing more and more frustrated as the season wore on. The incessant rains had made venturing too far into the Peaks dangerous, and the effect on the hunters was like keeping a dog in a cage. They were antsy and restless as the pickings nearer the city grew slimmer.

Occasionally there would be a day when the sky was clear, the ground still damp of course, but the air mercifully dry. This morning appeared to be leading in to one such day, and the mood inside the Guild had lifted considerably. Laughter would periodically ring round the room as hunters shared their jokes and plans, and Zach smiled from his seat near the door as he caught snippets of conversation.

The doors behind him opened to let in a breeze that ruffled the hair on the back of his head. Light footsteps sounded, and he peered curiously at the back of the newcomer as she passed by where Zach was seated. The crossbow was perhaps the only thing about her that fitted into the surroundings. The hand holding the thing was adorned with fine rings, and her boots appeared to have never seen the dirt trails Zach and his fellows so regularly traversed. Flicking his eyes upward, the Drykas’ eyebrow rose. Was that a baby she had with her?

The woman headed straight for Liard, and Zach watched with curiosity. It wasn’t often that someone sought the redhead out. Zach had never gotten on with the hunter, not that they had actually tried to know each other. He was sat a little too far away to hear the words exchanged between the pair, but he could see that they were definitely not friends. Liard appeared to be doing a very good job of winding the woman up, and Zach met the eye of the barkeep who was doing his very best to appear as if he weren’t listening.

The hunter picked up his mug to drain the last of the ale inside, still watching the pair from the corner of his eye as he suspected most of his fellows were too. The blonde stood from her seat to leave, seemingly admitting defeat. However, when she leaned right into Liard, Zach watched the redhead’s face turn an odd shade of almost white at whatever she had said to him. The corner of his mouth twitched in a smile - it wasn’t often Liard would let someone best him, especially not a woman.

As she turned to leave, Zach became very interested in whatever was at the bottom of his mug. The Guild fell almost silent as she paused at the open door, her words ringing clearly across the room to the man still stewing at the bar. "Of course, if you change your mind I'd be happy to take you back. I still need a hunter, after all. Until then you can pay for your own damn drinks." He heard the door shut behind him, and the voices of his fellows started to fill the room once again.

Stuffing the last of his breakfast into his mouth, Zach stood and grabbed his bow and quiver from where it was leaning against the table leg. He raised a hand in thanks to the barkeep, slung the bow across his back and headed for the door. He adjusted the hood of his cloak to sit comfortably with the quiver and stepped outside, pausing when he noticed the blonde woman was still around. He watched quietly with a raised brow as she loaded her crossbow, irritation clearly evident in the forcefulness of her actions. His expression changed to one of impress as the bolt landed squarely in the trunk of an unsuspecting tree a little way off.

The Drykas headed in her general direction, his booted footsteps announcing his presence. She clearly needed some sort of assistance from the Guild, and if Liard was stupid enough to turn her away, there were plenty of others who would help, Zach included. He cleared his throat by way of getting her attention and would offer her a small smile if she turned to him.
“Are you alright Miss?” He gestured behind himself to the Guild building. “Liard giving you some trouble?” He watched the woman expectantly, taking in the delicate features framed with black glasses, the soft head of the baby just visible over her shoulder. No, definitely not a hunter this one.
User avatar
Zach Grasswind
What’s a tree?
 
Posts: 108
Words: 104146
Joined roleplay: August 9th, 2018, 12:56 pm
Race: Human, Drykas
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes

Lets be Friends

Postby Madeira Craven on May 5th, 2019, 10:10 pm

Image
    Moritz saw the hunter approaching before Madeira did. He watched the stranger approach and bounced anxiously in his sling. But it was only when the stranger cleared his throat that Madeira looked over her shoulder.

    The man behind her was rugged in that charming, sunkissed kind of way. He stood a respectful distance back, but if that was actually out of respect or because she was pissed and holding a crossbow she couldn't tell. Everything from the shape of his musculature and way he dressed to the shortbow he carried casually at his side told her he was a hunter, navigator, or some other kind of outdoorsman. While the small smile on his face told her he was kind.

    "You alright, Miss? Laird giving you some trouble?"

    Madeira laughed darkly, pointing her bow to the sodden ground and stepping back into the stirrup. "I'm quite alright. Its just that Laird and I have some... incompatible expectations. By which I mean he expects he can lip me off and get away with it. I'm guessing you've had the pleasure of his company?"

    The baby on her back burbled happily, simply along for the ride as she bent at the waist and to draw back the string. In went another souldart, and she aimed down that same abused tree. Holding the bow braced with her shoulder and sighting down the barrel, she aimed for her first bolt and fired again. The recoil snapped back her arm, and her aim slipped high. With a heavy thunk the souldart quivered a good fifteen centimeters above where she was aiming. It did not improve her mood.

    Scowling, she faced the man again. There was no way this stranger came after her just to ask how she was doing after that very public blowout. She scrutinized him in a way that was a little less than casual , taking in his dark blonde hair and bright blue eyes, the edge of a tattoo that peeked from under his shirtsleeves. His accent was obviously not Lhavitian. Was he from Cyphrus? Drykras, perhaps? She had gotten used to the sight of them during the brief time she lived in Riverfall, but she hadn't seen one for the better part of a year. What was one doing in the mountains? And, more importantly, what did it want with her?

    "I had a contract with Laird, if you could even call it that", she explained completely unprompted, her scowl gradually softening into something a bit more welcoming. "The basics were that he hunted specific things I needed, and I paid him handsomely for them. But, as it seems we are going our separate ways... I need somebody to take over for him." Her eyes glittered knowingly behind her glasses as she smiled. "You wouldn't happen to be interested, would you?"

    He witnessed her fall out with Laird. Perhaps he was sniffing around to see if he could swoop in and take the hunters place. How very opportunistic of him. And certainly that would work just fine for Madeira, to save her the trouble of hunting down a suitable replacement herself. She nodded to the shortbow at his side.

    "Can you use that? Why don't you practice with me."

    She wasn't exactly intending to practice her bow skills as much as she was just letting off steam. But if he was indeed interested this would be a good time to test his abilities.

    Behind her Moritz fussed, twisting and waving his chubby legs about in his sling. No doubt the boy was tired of being carried. He had a need to frolic no doubt passed to him from his father, and a fascination for all things green and growing he certainly didn't get from his mother. Madeira reached behind her to sooth the babe, but didn't take him out. She wasn't about to let loose a crawling babe when the two adults were about to start target practice.
    Image
    x
    User avatar
    Madeira Craven
    long may she reign
     
    Posts: 1311
    Words: 1103279
    Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
    Race: Human
    Character sheet
    Storyteller secrets
    Journal
    Plotnotes
    Medals: 8
    Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
    Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
    Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
    One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

    Lets be Friends

    Postby Zach Grasswind on May 10th, 2019, 6:11 pm

    Image
    Zach waited while he suspected the blonde woman evaluated him in much the same way as he had her. The Drykas was not particularly hard to read - he never had been, although since arriving in Lhavit he had gotten a little better at not letting absolutely every emotion paint itself too clearly on his face. The flipside of that however, was that he was not the best at gauging other people. Aside from the very obvious irritation, Zach couldn’t really tell what the woman was thinking as she looked at him.

    His eyes dropped to her foot to watch how she loaded the crossbow. It was a hefty weapon, not something he would have imagined a woman as slight as she would choose to wield. Zach flicked his gaze back up to her face as she spoke, and a small smirk worked it’s was over his mouth at her comment. “You could say that. I think it is safe to say that Liard is incompatible with a lot of people.”

    The hunter stuffed his hands into his pockets as the woman loaded another bolt into her bow. It was slow process, at least slow compared to the shortbow he used. Zach couldn’t imagine hunting with such an unwieldly weapon. His eyes flicked over to the baby that was still strapped into a sling on her back, who appeared to be quite happy. He couldn’t imagine hunting with one of them either.
    He watched as the blonde woman took aim at the same poor tree. The force of the bow pushed her off balance and Zach raised an eyebrow. That crossbow packed a punch, that was for sure but perhaps she needed some sort of counterbalance? Or maybe it was just the irritation he could still sense coming from her.

    He schooled his face back into a neutral expression as she turned to him again. This time she didn’t hide the fact that she was assessing him and Zach shifted his weight onto his left foot, an eyebrow creeping up again. He was about to say something when she beat him to it, and he nodded at the explanation she presented to him. It sounded more or less like a basic arrangement that many of the Guild members had with various citizens and businesses. Zach chuckled lightly as she guessed his motivation for asking after her. “I wouldn’t turn down a contract if one was on offer.”

    Mild surprise lit the hunter’s eyes as she motioned to his bow before he nodded again. “Sure I can.” He caught up the shortbow properly, the weight familiar in his hand. Zach took a few steps over, closer to where the woman was standing and evaluated the tree she had been abusing with her bolts. He took an arrow from his quiver and nocked it to the bowstring before raising the shortbow in front of him. The tree was fairly close, and a stationary target, and Zach slid a foot back for balance as he took a breath in. He aimed down the shaft of the arrow, adjusted his grip and let the string loose.

    The arrow embedded itself into the tree just above the woman’s first shot. Zach was by no means a crack-shot, but he was decent and becoming ever more adjusted to the specifics of forest hunting. Hunting in the forests here was by no means exclusively a bow and arrow deal, but it was usually the quickest way to get what you wanted and he was always trying to improve.

    Zach turned back to the woman as she reached up to soothe her baby and a wry smile wound over his face. “I have to ask, were you planning to go hunting today… with the baby?” A baby and a crossbow were not a likely pair of accessories. In lieu of any response or comment from her, the hunter took up another arrow and chose a different tree, a little behind the one now dotted with arrows. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was continuing to shoot, but there was something quite satisfying about an arrow hitting a tree. Maybe it was the noise.

    Foot back, elbow out and chin just touching the fingers gripping the bowstring, Zach sucked in a breath before letting the arrow shoot from the weapon. There weren’t any particular features on the tree to aim at, but it was a fairly narrow specimen, so he was happy to see a nice central hit. The Drykas turned back to the woman again. “If there was a contract on offer, might I ask what it would involve?” He assumed it would be something along the lines of hunting animals to provide meat, for she clearly had a family that needed feeding.
    User avatar
    Zach Grasswind
    What’s a tree?
     
    Posts: 108
    Words: 104146
    Joined roleplay: August 9th, 2018, 12:56 pm
    Race: Human, Drykas
    Character sheet
    Storyteller secrets
    Plotnotes

    Let's be Friends

    Postby Madeira Craven on May 15th, 2019, 10:55 pm

    Image
      Madeira stood back to give the hunter the eyeline as he stepped up and armed his shortbow. She hummed with appreciation at how easily he could bend a bow, her eyes following the taunt line of his muscles like she was admiring a fine horse. He was nowhere near an expert marksman. In fact she would guess their bowskills to be very similar. But the thrum of the loosed arrow and the solid hit on the target told her he was capable. And there was something about how at home he looked in his worn leather boots and wind tossed hair. She couldn't imagine him dressed in those Lhavitian robes, perfumed and elegant and stately. He belonged to the wild in a way she hadn't seen before.

      He turned to her as he fished another arrow from his quiver, and asked if she really planned on going hunting today. With a baby, of all things. It was a fair question, but still Madeira sighed as she answered.

      "Laird owed me something and I wasn't willing to let him weasel out of it, so I planned to tag along to guarantee I got it. Despite how I look I'm not completely useless in the woods. I once tailed another hunter from here... Raeyn, he was called. I survived that and I dare say I could do it again." That was not completely true. She was indeed useless in the woods but had enough sense to stay out of the way of Raeyn, who wasn't. And with the combined power of his knowledge and her ability to do as she was told, nobody got hurt. "As for my son, I couldn't leave him at home. He's still small enough to be carried, unlike his sister, so for now he stays with me."

      At this point Amelie was many times her brothers supposed age and growing faster every day. She could trust Allister to take care of his daughter when she had some small ability to take care of herself too. But Moritz was a different story. He wasn't weened and was barely a year old. The last thing she wanted was for her insane bondmate to get distracted and let his son wander into the spiked moat that ringed their house. Truly neither of them were fit to care for the twins. Neither had experience with childcare or the unique demands of raising kelvics, and they were simply doing the best they could. There was nobody else they could rely on that could teach the babes all the outdoor, animal skills and cautions they clearly needed.

      There was another solid thunk as the second arrow found its mark. Moritz, frustrated that they were standing still, fussed and squirmed against her back. Madeira put her crossbow down at her feet and unwound the babe from his sling so she could bounce him in her arms. The Drykas turned to her again.

      “If there was a contract on offer, might I ask what it would involve?”

      "Hunting." Madeira smiled cheekily, tucking her son into the crook of her arm and rocking him against her body. "Truly, that's all I'd need from you. I would send you the occasional letter at your address requesting certain animal parts, and upon delivery you would be paid. It would be mostly bones, but sometimes talons, pelts and teeth as well. You would be welcome to eat or sell whatever is left, of course." She paused, considering carefully what she would say next. She had learned from Raeyn and Laid that that kind of explanation wouldn't be enough, there were always too many question floating around the strange details. Yet to tell the truth would hurt her reputation, as Malediction was widely considered to be evil and unclean. Still, that was only if the information penetrated the circles she revolved in. These earthy types were far enough removed that she was willing to risk it.

      "I have an... academic interest in these bones", she volunteered. "There is a magic called Malediction that you might have heard of. Forget the stereotype and old campfire stories, none of them are true. This isn't about jungle savages and body snatchers laying curses on the dead, it's simply about learning to harness the dijed the soul leaves behind. I'm a Spiritist; death, life and the soul in all its forms is in my realm of study." The mouse skull brooch pinning her cloak at her throat shone wickedly in the rising light, its alexanderite chips flashing green to red in the pit of its empty eyes.

      "I'm aware this is an unusual request, and my payments reflect that. Fifty gold a corpse, no exceptions." she nodded with a smile. It was an exorbitant amount of money, considering what the Jugged Hare would pay, and she wasn't even asking for the full corpse. But the realization she had before came back to her, rising like a tide to lap at her mind: generosity wasn't enough to ensure loyalty. She had no doubt she could persuade him to join her, though she didn't even know his name yet. But making him stay would be another matter entirely. She truly had no idea how she could weave this man so removed from her field of influence into her web.

      No, she could think about that later, when she actually had this man under her wing. She needed to catch him first. The spiritist shifted her son to one arm and held the right out towards the blonde, blue eyed Drykas so far from home.

      "My name is Madeira Craven. Perhaps we could talk inside? I'm done buying drinks for Laird, but that's only because he's no longer in my employ. Otherwise I like to make sure my hunters are well watered", she smiled.

      Then, out of nowhere, a flash of light between them seemed to dim the rising sun. All the breath left Madeira in a grunt and she dropped to the ground, and in her arms, bleating and thrashing in a flurry of limbs, was not a baby at all.

      "No! No, no no no!" The Spiritist threw her body over the body in the grass, trying to pin to the ground a baby goat the size of a great dane. "Moritz! Moritz, stay there! Moritz!!" It was no use. More surefooted than any baby could possibly be, the Okomo kid shook of its mother and bounded to its feet, wagging its tiny, fluffy tail in excitement. On knobby, spindly goat legs it bounded away.

      On her hands and knees, frazzled, with her neat clothing askew, Madeira could only watch as her kelvic son scampered into the tree line and vanished into the gloom of the forest.
      Image
      x
      User avatar
      Madeira Craven
      long may she reign
       
      Posts: 1311
      Words: 1103279
      Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
      Race: Human
      Character sheet
      Storyteller secrets
      Journal
      Plotnotes
      Medals: 8
      Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
      Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
      Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
      One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

      Let's be Friends

      Postby Zach Grasswind on May 16th, 2019, 10:47 pm

      Image
      The corner of Zach’s mouth quirked slightly as his ears caught the sigh that accompanied the blonde woman’s answer to his question. Clearly, he was not the first to ask such a thing of her. The Drykas nodded at her response for he knew all too well that Liard often needed to be not so politely reminded of things he owed or had promised. The hint of a smile turned into a chuckle at her next words and he quickly collected himself. “Sorry, I was not laughing at your statement. I saw you shoot just now, I am sure you can handle yourself. I just… I bet Raeyn loved that.” The redheaded hunter always seemed so sure of his skill, and Zach couldn’t imagine him finding out he’d been tailed.

      Zach nodded at her next statement as he returned his attentions to the trees momentarily. The baby did appear to be of an age where he was still dependent on his mother, so it made sense in a way. Nothing like starting them young, he supposed. He slung his bow across his back again figuring two arrows was enough to loose when they weren’t hitting anything useful and turned back to the woman, the baby now held in her arms.

      The Drykas couldn’t help but return her smile at such a pedantic answer, though he listened carefully to her elaboration. It was definitely not what he had imagined, though of course it was hunting, just a peculiar offset of it. Clearly she was not seeking meat to feed her family, and Zach struggled to think of a reason someone would need only a talon, of all the things. He waited as she paused, clearly not finished in her explanation, though apparently hesitant to reveal anything further.

      Zach nodded slowly to show he was listening as she went on to speak of a magic called Malediction, an eyebrow raising at the notion of body snatchers and the like. Truthfully, he didn’t have the faintest idea what the magic was, though he had heard of Spiritists before. Though he had never personally met one prior to this woman, he had heard other Dryaks speak of people who can communicate with ghosts. The Drykas respected the circle of life and death more than most, so that was at least one thing he could draw familiarity from.

      An eyebrow raised as the woman went on to speak of money. Zach was by no means a materialistic person, and, since he knew nothing of the magic she spoke of didn’t quite understand why she would offer so much for some animal bones and teeth. Zach hunted because he was good at it and enjoyed being in the wilds. Anything else was just a bonus, and he supposed if it worked out he could use this particular bonus to one day pay for a passage back home.

      Bright blue eyes met the pale ones of the woman, and he smiled as he reached out to take her hand. “Zach. Uh, Zach Grasswind.” He had gotten out of the habit of using his Pavillion name since being in Lhavit. “Sure we can talk inside, I - “

      Zach cut off abruptly, eyes scrunching shut as a sudden light momentarily blinded him. It disappeared as quickly as it had flared up, and blinking rapidly he cleared his vision to note that the woman - Madeira - was no longer standing in front of him. He dropped his gaze to the ground to see she was kneeling and clutching… a goat? It took him a few seconds to remember that some people could take on the form of an animal, Kelvic they were called. He had come across a few in Endrykas.

      The Drykas raised his hands as if to help, though he was not quite sure how. Looking a little closer, he noted that the goat was actually rather large and resembled the Okomo the Lhavitians were so fond of. Zach was a second short of dropping to his knees to help the woman hold it still, when it managed to wriggle out of her grip and make a dash for the treeline.

      Without thinking, the hunter was after it, moving as fast as he could without tripping on the uneven ground underfoot. Belatedly, he wondered if he should have helped Madeira up first, but the Okomo was her son and if he went back now out of politeness Zach would lose him. He reached the treeline and shot a quick glance over his shoulder to check that the woman was actually okay before stepping through into the forest.


      Immediately the world darkened, the canopy of the trees having grown lusher with the spring warmth and rains. The ground was soft underfoot and the air was heavy with the smell of damp earth and wet foliage. The hunter moved between the trunks as quickly as he could, for stealth was not the name of the game at the moment. The Kelvic was making enough noise in its progress that Zach was able to follow with surety for a short while.

      Unfortunately, the young Okomo Kelvic was far more agile than any human, and soon the sounds of it happily running through the forest faded away until Zach could no longer hear it.
      “Moritz!” The Drykas called ahead, using the name he had heard Madeira give the boy. Truthfully, he was not expecting the Kelvic to stop, come back or answer in any way, it was more for the sake of the woman, for he had no doubt that she too had followed into the trees.

      Zach dropped his gaze to the ground now. The incessant rains of the spring had left everything damp, and fortunately damp soil meant deeper tracks. He moved slowly but methodically, making sure that he was picking up the correct footprint. The Okomo tracks were familiar to him, their distinctive shape one of the first things he had learned on his primary hunt for the Guild. A broken low branch here and there would further serve to indicate the direction of the boy. Though many creatures could snap a branch by accident, the number he was finding would indicate something moving at speed and without much care.

      Eventually, Madeira would catch up to him, and Zach would point out a small tuft of soft pink fur caught on a shrub. “Do you have any idea where he may be likely to go?” Zach was unaware of the Kelvic had ever been into the forest before, but if so, it would make sense for him to head for a familiar place. “It looks like he is heading for the centre of the forest, the deeper parts.”
      User avatar
      Zach Grasswind
      What’s a tree?
       
      Posts: 108
      Words: 104146
      Joined roleplay: August 9th, 2018, 12:56 pm
      Race: Human, Drykas
      Character sheet
      Storyteller secrets
      Plotnotes

      Let's be Friends

      Postby Madeira Craven on May 20th, 2019, 10:57 pm

      Image
        Without hesitation the hunter sprinted after the gangly goat, and disappeared into the tree line with him while Madeira was still struggling to her feet. How was it that her heart could be frozen and thundering in her throat at the same time? Her entire body felt thick and clumsy when what she needed most was to move. Moritz was just a baby, no matter how big he may look. He had never been in the forests before and had no idea what was out there. But she did. There were bears out there, and cougars, territorial moose and twitchy hunters. And still something stranger stalked the mountains of Lhavit. As she finally found her feet and ran after the hunter, scooping up her crossbow and the last of her arrows on the way, her thoughts rang loud with memories of Fall, and of a rainbow made of hate and teeth.

        The Spiritist crashed into the forest screaming for her son. Further into the gloom she heard her call echoed back by the Drykas. She followed the noise rather than any subtle signs of his passage, not being familiar enough with his chosen profession to notice the footprints, scratched moss and broken branches that pointed the way. It was misting under the canopy of cedar maple, the sodden leaves still dripping with last nights rain. The earth was thick and soft under her boots, slick with clay and mud. Black bark stuck to her hands and she held tight to the trees to steady herself as she ran as fast as she dared. The air was alive with the fresh scents of spring as she tore up the loamy soil with her boots.

        After a few tense chimes she caught up with Zach. The hunter was cool and alert as he pointed out the tuft of pastel pink hair stuck to the low hanging branch, in high contrast to Madeira herself, who's anxiety could be felt through every bone in her brittle body.

        “Do you have any idea where he may be likely to go?” Zach asked. And he sounded so much like she did, in her life of investigating hauntings. She tried to channel that kind of energy again, and compose herself as best she could. She wouldn't find Moritz if she couldn't keep herself together. “It looks like he is heading for the centre of the forest, the deeper parts.”

        "He's never... He's never been to the forests", she admitted. "He's not allowed to play in his goat form outside our yard. His father and I are not outdoorsmen, we were scared he'd get lost." And now he was. Damnit all, why did they have to be Kelvic's?

        She shook the thought away, ashamed of the twinge of regret. "But he- He really likes to climb. Mostly furniture; dressers and cabinets and the like. But he's started climbing the sturdier trees on our property too. Maybe he's looking for some... some kind of high place to play. A rocky outcrop, cliff, a really old tree, something like that. Is there anything in these woods like that?"

        Reaching out, Madeira grabbed the hunter by the elbow and waited until he turned to her. And as she looked up at the hunter, stress plain on her face, she smiled. "Thank you. For helping me. There are a lot of people out there who would have left us here. You're a... you're a really good person."

        The Spiritist didn't encounter much philanthropy in this world. It was a much rarer trait than people realized. To encounter it, quite by chance, in such a dire situation...

        "Lead the way. I'll be right behind you." She stepped back, gripping tight to her crossbow, her pale eyes wide and nervous as they flicked around the densely packed trees, looking for any sign of her son.
        Image
        x
        User avatar
        Madeira Craven
        long may she reign
         
        Posts: 1311
        Words: 1103279
        Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
        Race: Human
        Character sheet
        Storyteller secrets
        Journal
        Plotnotes
        Medals: 8
        Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
        Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
        Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
        One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

        Let's be Friends

        Postby Zach Grasswind on May 22nd, 2019, 8:13 pm

        Image
        The frantic screams of the woman grew closer and closer, until the hunter could hear her uneven footsteps approaching him. Zach turned to face the direction she was coming from, eyes trained on the space between the tree trunks. Eventually she appeared, blonde hair standing out in the gloom of the forest. Panic was clear in her eyes, and he could practically sense the anxiety rolling off her in waves. In contrast, the Drykas was calm, though he did have an undercurrent of worry for the boy. Predators lived in the forest and they had been known to go after Okomo on occasion, but there was likely easier prey around, and they did not often hunt in the middle of the day.

        Zach waited as Madeira composed herself before answering his questions. The boy had never been in a forest before, so he was likely excited about the prospect of exploring. That was somewhat unfortunate as he wouldn’t have a direction, wanting to see as much as he could. On the other hand he was a child, and children tired quickly, so hopefully he would settle in one place if they were lucky. That was, if Kelvic children were anything at all like regular children.

        The Drykas nodded slowly as Madeira went on speaking. “He really likes to climb…” “…A rocky outcrop, cliff, a really old tree, something like that. Is there anything in these woods like that?”
        Zach paused, brow furrowing slightly as he thought over his previous excursions into the wilderness around Lhavit. There was the obvious answer - the mountains themselves. The forests thinned out the higher you got and there were cliffs and sheer drops aplenty. But the tracks the boy had left behind were not heading in that direction, an observation he made out loud. ”Well I don’t think he is in imminent danger of falling from any cliff… his prints were going the opposite way to the mountains.”

        The hunter turned to look ahead of where the pair were standing, his gaze moving slowly past the trees. Zach continued to speak his thoughts out loud as he flicked through the various places he could remember in his mind. ”He’s going deeper into the trees where the forest is dense. I’ve never come across anything like a cliff there before.” Of course, Zach hadn’t explored the entire forest, he didn’t know anyone who had, but surely the boy couldn’t travel that far in a few chimes. ”There might be some landslides thanks to the rain. They’d probably be an exciting place to play, though they shouldn’t be too big thanks to the trees. I’ve also come across a clearing or two before that have small overlooks. Nothing much taller than me though.”

        Out of the two options he could think of, Zach hoped the boy had found the latter, for the landslides were unpredictable and could easily move a second time. The best thing they could hope for would be an old tree as the woman had suggested, for they posed the least danger. There were trees of the like scattered through the entire forest. In any case, they wouldn’t find the boy by standing around and discussing it. Zach went to move forward, to continue his tracking when a grip on his elbow made him turn.

        The smile Madeira gave him surprised the hunter a little, her words surprising him even more so. Was he a good person? Nobody had called him such before. Zach just knew to do what he always thought to be right. And at this moment in time, the right thing was to help Madeira find her son. He would never understand how a person could walk away from a situation such as this and feel okay about it. He met the women’s eyes and nodded. “Of course. I would not forgive myself if I had let you run in here after him alone to find out later you had both gotten hurt.”

        He turned away from her again, eyes sweeping the ground below to check for any more tracks. A few steps ahead, a deep imprint in the soft ground told him that the Okomo boy had continued to head along the path they were on. They were following some sort of game trail, the soil exposed in patches, the moss stamped flat in others. It was an easy route for both the tracked and the trackers, and Zach was able to point out to Madeira the footprints Moritz had left behind.

        Of course nothing ever seemed to remain quite so simple for long, and soon enough Zach stopped the pair on the trail. The prints seemed to have disappeared, and he walked a few paces ahead to check that they hadn’t picked up further on. He returned to where Madeira was standing, mouth twitching in a slight grimace. ”It looks like he left the trail somewhere around here.” He moved behind the woman, retracing their steps until he found the last Okomo print. His attentions turned to the ground off the trail now, and he carefully inspected the area for signs of an animal passing through.

        Of the track, heading down the slope he found some small stones that had been displaced, the mud smeared on the tops an indication that they had been turned over out of the soil. Any animal larger than a rabbit could have done such a thing of course, but at the moment it was all Zach had to go on. He motioned for Madeira to follow him and started to weave his way through the trees down the slope. The signs were getting less obvious now, as the ground here had a thicker covering of moss and leaf litter. Zach followed what appeared to be the easier route through the trees, occasionally checking behind him to make sure the woman was following okay.

        After a few more chimes of walking, a pair of fallen trees came into view. Zach approached them with caution, for the ground near the base of them appeared more disturbed than one would expect. It looked like the soil had simply washed away, and the trees had fallen with nothing to hold them there. He swept his gaze down the slope further, noting a few more trees here and there that had also seemingly met the same fate. ”Be careful where you step. I don’t know if the ground is solid. The rains have been taking the soil away recently.”

        Slowly, the hunter crept down the slope toward the other trees. Ahead, it looked like there was some sort of outcrop, as the trees seemed to thin out completely before the ground dropped off ahead. It looked to be a small drop, as he could see the ground further on., but what he couldn’t tell was if it were a natural outcrop or a recent slip. He also hadn’t noticed any sign of the boy, and he approached the drop with caution before peering over the edge to see what the pair had found.
        User avatar
        Zach Grasswind
        What’s a tree?
         
        Posts: 108
        Words: 104146
        Joined roleplay: August 9th, 2018, 12:56 pm
        Race: Human, Drykas
        Character sheet
        Storyteller secrets
        Plotnotes

        Let's be Friends

        Postby Madeira Craven on May 28th, 2019, 5:32 pm

        Image
          Zach followed the tail, and Madeira followed Zach. The hunter looked to be half animal himself, like he was halfway to dropping to the ground to sniff out the tracks. He was slower than Raeyn and took less chances than Laird, but she suspected he was making up for lesser skills with thoroughness. It wasn't just skills that made a good hunter, after all. She had learned long ago, from a jackal on the shores of Alvadas, that intuition and instinct played just as big a part. This was about feeling as much as seeing.

          But Madeira felt nothing. She couldn't follow the signs or anticipate the patterns, and could not occupy that instinctive, animal brain that might have a clue where her goat son had run off too. She felt no affinity for the forest, and she suspected the forest held nothing but loathing for her. But that was okay. She didn't get as far as she had in life by only relying on herself. As the hunter studies the ground the spiritist studied the trees. Her crossbow was raised and ready, her ears alert for every rustling and eyes for every twitch. He can look for her son, and she will do her best to protect him. And every few chimes she called Moritz's name and prayed to hear something back.

          Eventually they came across an uneven slope in the ground full of churned earth and studded with uprooted trees; their thick, healthy roots evidently not enough to withstand the floods.

          ”Be careful where you step", Zach cautions as he picked his way down the slope. "I don’t know if the ground is solid. The rains have been taking the soil away recently."

          Madeira nodded, and endeavoured to step only where Zach stepped. The soil beneath her boots was crumbly, loose and dark. Had she not been warned she surely would have tripped. She hoped Moritz's surefooted goat form was enough to keep him steady on such treacherous ground.

          The pair wormed their way down the slope, where a shelf seemed to be cut from the natural landscape. Carefully, holding tight to Zach's elbow to keep from falling, Madeira peered over the lip to what was below. It was a strange natural lip, with the overhang they were standing on jutting over a cliff that rain and wind had carved until it was almost concave. It was less than a four meter drop, and clinging to the face was-

          "Moritz!"

          Her gangly son seemed to be floating in space a meter below them as he clung to the curved rock wall with impossible ease. His fluffy white tail was high and flagged and his ears perked at a jaunty angle, just having the time of his life climbing and exploring. His spindly neck craned around at the sound of her voice and he bleated happily at his mother.

          "Oh, stay there. Stay right there. Mommy's coming."

          The overhand slowly tapered off to either side, though it looked like it might be half a kilometer in either direction before the outcrop flattened out completely with the ground. Now that she found Moritz though she refused to loose sight of him again. She just had to find the nearest bit of cliff with a safe drop and...

          A murder of crows burst into the sky at the top of the slope, and out of the forest an enormous elk burst from the trees and stampeded over the soft ground they just traversed. The animal slipped, coming down hard on its knees and almost sliding down the slope. Stones bounced and clattered over the cliff the two humans were standing on and Madeira yipped in fright, but the beast soon regained its feet and bounded away, disappearing into the trees once again. The event lasted less than a tick, but Madeira was sure in that tick she suffered a thousand little deaths. Only once the crashing of the beats was gone and she was sure they were not going to be trampled to death, her tightly wound muscles finally unspooled and the sudden release almost made her laugh.

          Until she saw the loose, churned soil at the top of the slope start to move.
          Image
          x
          User avatar
          Madeira Craven
          long may she reign
           
          Posts: 1311
          Words: 1103279
          Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
          Race: Human
          Character sheet
          Storyteller secrets
          Journal
          Plotnotes
          Medals: 8
          Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
          Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
          Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
          One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

          Let's be Friends

          Postby Zach Grasswind on May 30th, 2019, 7:47 am

          Image
          Sure enough, there below them was the colourful form of Madeira’s son. The little Okomo had scaled the side of the small overhang and appeared to be having a grand old time of it. Zach kept his footing steady as Madeira clung to him with a vice-like grip to keep herself from tumbling over the edge. The hunter scanned the drop, noting a few ledges that would just about hold a single person, however there we no drops that he would be comfortable having the woman try to scale within their immediate location. The chances of the boy staying put while they went around seemed to be negligible, however his mother appeared to be holding his attention for the Kelvic was peering up at them with those strange goat eyes of his.

          Zach quickly tried to formulate a plan. He had no problem climbing down the overhang for the drop was only just over twice his height, and at least one of the ledges was reachable for him. Whether Moritz would let the Drykas grab him was another question, though perhaps with his mother’s coaxing it might be possible. If Madeira went around to find a smaller drop, it could be easier to encourage the boy down, but Zach didn’t know if the Okomo would stay put without her nearby.

          He was about to voice his ideas when an almighty ruckus broke out behind them. Screeching and flapping, the crows took to the air, and Zach whipped his head round just in time to see the elk appear. The animal was a huge bull sporting a magnificent pair of antlers, and the hunter watched it as it fell, the speed at which it was trying to move over the soft ground too much. At the startled noise from Madeira, Zach absently patted her hand still clutching his arm as reassurance. The elk quickly made itself scarce and the stones stopped flying. Perhaps the birds and the beast had scared each other. He started to turn his head back to look at the woman, when more movement caught his eyes, and this time it wasn’t an animal, it was the ground itself.

          The already loose topsoil started to trickle down the slope towards the pair. Small pieces of soil and little stones rolled and bounced their way over the uneven ground. Zach’s heartbeat stuttered in his chest and he kicked his mind into gear. Earlier in the season a group of hunters had found themselves on the wrong end of a mudslide and had to be rescued. The Drykas tried to remember the conversations he had had with them afterwards. Run. If you can’t, crouch and cover your head. He shot another glance at the soil, noting pieces tumbling down off to either side, though mercifully the solid ground below didn’t appear to be moving. Yet.

          Zach removed Madeira’s hand from his arm and gripped her shoulders, forcing her to face him. ”We are going to have to run, right now. That means getting down this overhang. I’m going to drop down, and then you jump. I will catch you, I promise. And then I will get Moritz, and then we will run.” He sounded a lot more confident that he felt, most of his worry circling the boy. The two adults could make a solid head start but having to coax the boy down could cost them precious moments, and he knew that leaving him behind was simply not an option. He also had a feeling Madeira wouldn’t want to go on ahead either.

          Without waiting for any confirmation from the woman, Zach moved to the lip of the overhang and lowered himself over. When he was clinging by his fingertips, he let himself drop the remaining two meters, landing with his knees bent to absorb the impact. Moritz was mercifully still up on the face of it, and Zach called up to Madeira, holding his arms out. ”Madeira you have to jump to me.” He hoped she would trust him, and Zach braced himself to catch her. When she was on the ground, the next step would be to get the boy down.

          Zach hoped that with Madeira’s encouragement, the Kelvic would let him near enough to take hold of him. Loose soil and small stones continued to rain over the edge of the overhang, not yet a full slide, but the hunter knew they were quickly running out of time. When the trees started to go, that was when the stability would disappear. He headed for the nearest lip of stone to the boy and pulled himself onto it, keeping in a crouch both for stability and to appear non-threatening. ”Hey Moritz, d’you want to come and play with me and your mother?” He would smile encouragingly, motioning in a ‘come here’ gesture in the hope that the Kelvic might see it as a new game they could all play.

          oocI did have a lot more written, but didn't want to jump ahead too much so I cut off a chunk at the end. Hope it's okay, let me know if I need to tweak.
          User avatar
          Zach Grasswind
          What’s a tree?
           
          Posts: 108
          Words: 104146
          Joined roleplay: August 9th, 2018, 12:56 pm
          Race: Human, Drykas
          Character sheet
          Storyteller secrets
          Plotnotes

          Next

          Who is online

          Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests