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Fantasy [Isekai Hell] The Hag of the Overgrown Marshes

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This RP is part of the Isekai Hell setting. It will take place in a vast and magic filled swamp-like forest on the edge of the Dark Continent, where a powerful Hag is rumoured to live. Many seek out this place in the hope that she will fulfil their wish or prophetise their past and future, but few return. Even so, the Overgrown Marshes have yet again attracted some brave adventures and monsters alike.

The Overgrown Marshes
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Kalina Chivernu

Kalina was tired, having just finished the long trip to the Dark Continent. It hadn't been easy, but now that she finally made it... She realised yet another long journey awaited her. These swamps were vast and there wasn't a single thing that could show her the direction she was meant to head in. Some odd scents and fumes had filled her nostrils, making her wonder how long she'd be able to last in this place were she to truly get lost... if she wasn't truly lost already. At first, she'd travelled whilst trying to stay somewhat stealthy.

By now she was travelling trying to stand out, hoping that someone or something would find her and tell her where in the world she was or where she had to go to. She was confident she'd been travelling north, but... well, her compass surely wasn't pointing north any-more, as it was spinning like crazy instead. Her rations of blood vials were also running low. She'd been very well-prepared, or so she thought, but it felt like just about everything that could go wrong had gone wrong thus far. Besides, she hadn't even found any drink-able cattle here, so if she ran out... She didn't want to think about it. Instead, she gritted her fangs and pressed on, hoping to spot a sing of life somewhere.
 

Develius

"Kaiju Enthusiast"



Farther down the muddy moss-stricken road, one would stumble upon the carcass of a dead animal lain upon the banks of the stagnant swamp. The corpse was around the size of a large cattle bull and it had been laying there for quite some time - at least for several hours by the looks of it. Still, it had plenty of meat on its bones. The smell of blood and rotting flesh would've already attracted much of the resident fauna to scavenge its remains like a dinner bell in a restaurant, but the site was currently barren. And oddly so. Aside from the swarm of blood sucking flies hovering over the corpse and the maggots digging in at the ground, no other signs of animals around the area could be visibly seen. One would typically find alligator-like beasts in an absolute feeding frenzy over for the best cuts, or birds pecking at exposed orifices for the more delicate pieces. Even rats should be seen gnawing at the tough skin to get at the unexposed fresh bits still unspoiled by the elements.

Even if one were to come around to look at the exposed belly, smelling the warm rotten flesh intermingle with the stagnant murky bayou air, there was not a single significant soul that could be seen. Clearly it had already been picked off by scavengers prior, but it looked as if something interrupted their supper. Or perhaps.. something or someone else had claimed it for themselves. There was a large clean slash raking horizontally across the corpse's flank side, as if a blade sliced through it, with the eviscerated guts showing signs of having been ripped and chewed on. Deep bite marks could be seen on the legs, which looked very much like the work of gators, but with the width of the teeth being skinner and more V-shaped. And one of the bottom bloodied legs laid away from the corpse, looking as if it was sawed off rather then being cleanly cut like with the belly.

All of this could then be reasonably assumed that it was the work of a monster in these parts.

But where did it go? For it had seemed to have long since left the area, leaving very little clues to where it might've went. There were no signs of any trackways imprinted on the muddied ground, meaning the creature didn't leave the scene on land. Maybe the monster had wings and it flew away, or that it slipped back into the pond-scummed waters with its webbed feet? Both were fairly good assumptions, but it was hard to say by just looking at the carcass' immediate vicinity.

Yet if one was to look just a bit further down the water's edge, they would come across an unexpected sight. There stood a giant great sword, over 7 feet tall, embedded blade-first into the muck. It was titling slightly towards the swampy lake, with its dark-colored blade showing signs of dried blood and gore caked into it. Jagged edges adorned towards its bladed edge, with a yellow streak running directly down the middle and leading to a fancied hilt of a predominantly bone-white color with four yellow spikes jutting out from the circular base. Most curiously of all, there was a large shiny blue gem embedded directly within the middle of the hilt, still gleaming pristinely within the damp dark marsh. One could also see a set of basic belongings neatly packed and leaning against the sword.

Could these belong to the monster responsible for this killing?

Surely it must been close by or planning to return back soon. But aside from this, there didn't seem to be any further signs of activity stirring. Though he only other particular thing in sight was a wide, relatively thin object sticking out of the green algae pond about roughly 10 meters out. It had a uniquely adorned pattern of yellow spots overlain against a jet-black backdrop, lightly adorned by the green scum on top. Was it some kind of elaborate art piece? Maybe a giant shield? Yet it too stands motionlessly, swaying only subtly against the faint current of the brackish water... being an odd site within a predominately green locale.
 
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Scylla entered the swamp hesitantly, watching in awe and a bit uneasy with the eerie setting before her. She opened a small journal after pulling it out of her robes, and observed an illustration of a particular plant that dwelled within this marsh.

After becoming a student to the Ryken Academy, her first task in alchemy was finding and retrieving this plant. Her teacher's hope was to find a specimen that still bore seeds thus making an addition of various strains into the Academy’s research garden.

She picked up the front of her dress with a pinch, as she turned to her colleague Clarice. “H-hey! Clarice..” She asked sheepishly as she moved a golden lock away from her eyes, “..how do we know this rare plant won’t have some kind of way to defend itself.. I mean..” she shrugged. “..seems like every mage that has gone out to retrieve it never makes it back.” She then suddenly sulked and looked down. “Maybe they want us killed.. maybe, we’re just not all that great.”

She continued to sulk for a bit before bursting out, “Enough of silly thoughts!” She exclaimed with a bright smile that could turn the night into day, before turning towards the beaten path. “Allow me to officially take the first step!” She said as she picked up one of her feet in front of her playfully before taking a big step forward and setting a patient pace. “Well, here goes nothing!”

As they got deeper into the swamp, the scent of the air changed, it got colder and the bugs seemed to be bigger, likely to the teeming biology in this seemingly ancient swamp.

“Gee.. I can't believe I agreed to this..” she admitted as she scratched her head, looking at the eerie scenery. “..now here I am.. freshly accepted into the academy, about to be some horrible creature's dinner.” She said rolling her eyes.

Before long the scent in the air became putrid, compelling Scylla to bring a hand to her nose as she beheld the gruesome sight before her. “Ew.. what is that?” She asked disgustedly, before noticing a massive sword with its blade into the mud. “Hey over there!” She called out, before noticing the lacerations on the dead creature's body. “Is.. that a sword?” She said likely asking herself. “I knew I should have paid more attention in Telekinesis class!” She said frantically. “I’m.. I'm not getting close to that dead thing or that..” her eyes began to shine at the sight of the shiny blue crystal in the sword, letting out a drawn out gasp. “..that.. shiny sapphire.”

She quickly snapped out of her distraction however, before tapping Clarice on the shoulder.
“Well.. nothing to see here but horror..” She said surprisingly happy. “..shall we continue?”

Elvario Elvario
TheSimianMind TheSimianMind
Develius Develius
 
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The Last Curse

21% Delirious

Ever since the events in Aborhaven, Cayde changed. He'd been eating healthier, started to groom his hair more, improved his sleeping schedule, and crafted new recipes, but most importantly, he started having visions. He thought himself insane by putting it that way, but 'visions' was the only word to describe it. Every waking moment, from his free time to the little increments between teaching Kesh, he'd feel himself drift back to the shrine within Aegorizea's roots, standing alone before the draconic god itself. But, this time, Aegorizea did not leave. Instead, that same divine aura began to engulf him, filling the chamber with an incomprehensibly bright light and shrinking his body smaller, smaller, and smaller. Before the radiance reduced his body to a size of a pea, he felt the same as he did back then: feebleminded, inferior, insignificant, envious.

He hadn't told anyone about them yet, not even Kesh. Outside of his uncle's store, Cayde was supposed to be her teacher, he couldn't worry her with his concerning thoughts. Still, every moment he kept them bottled up, he only grew more curious. He needed answers, and someone on this continent had them.

The snap of a branch under his feet brought him back to the present. So here he was, trudging through pungent water, searching for god-knows-what, all while wracked with a sense of deja vu. The swamp reminded him a lot of the woods back in Aston, both uneasy and anxiety-inducing in their own right. Unlike Aston, however, Cayde came prepared. This time, he had a freshly polished crossbow, plenty of crafting ingredients, and his most deadly weapon yet, a rat, on his back. No creature would push him around today, or so he hoped.

He paused the trek to survey his surroundings. Besides the distinctive smell of the mud and a few birds screeching in the distance, it seemed he and Kesh were relatively safe. As safe as they could be in the monster continent, anyway. "Alright, Kesh, I think we're still in the clear," He said, resuming his pace again, "If you're getting tired of the view, you can always come down, y'know. Back's getting a little tired..." But, before he could stop to let her down, the acrid smell of rot wafted through his mask and up his nostrils. Cayde froze, and his eyes narrowed. He glanced in Kesh's direction, "Nevermind."

It wouldn't take long until he found the source of the smell. In the distance, he could see the silhouette of something lying near the water. It was hard to distinguish its features from his position, but Cayde didn't need any more confirmation to know it was dead. That was one red flag; the other came from the massive sword not too far from the corpse. The blade, partially submerged in the mud, was certainly not crude, Cayde noticing the showiness of the edges and the brilliant gem adorning the hilt. He peeked up at Kesh, already knowing what was going through the rat-kin's mind, "Don't even think about it."

The next surprise came from the two figures he spotted further down the way. He identified one as a woman, sporting a very witchy getup. The other, he couldn't tell for sure, though it seemed the two were together. Neither looked like the sword's owner; that could mean two things. One: they were likely adventurers like him and Kesh and stumbled upon it just like they did. And two, whatever wielded the blade was still out there.

There'd be no way of knowing either without speaking to them. Cayde drew a bit closer, "Hey! You two!" He called out, waving an arm in the pair's direction. He raised one finger, "Firstly, is that your sword stuck in the mud?" He asked, pointing at the sword and lifting another finger, "Secondly, and most important of all..." He paused to glance at them both, "Are you two friendly?"

He dropped his arm to his side and let out a breathy sigh. He did not want a sour encounter so early in the adventure, "Please, say yes."
 

Skyhunter

Entity of Change
Kesh

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Kesh was on Cayde's back, smiling a large and ugly one as she kept whispering under her breath with each step Cayde had taken, " rat. rat. rat. rat. rat. rat. ratta. rattata. rat. " Kesh was thinking of those events of Arborhaven... And how much drugs she inserted into herself; she got really disoriented that night, although the look upon a god was something of amazing in the mind of this Ratkin, she was very surprised that such a thing existed. But she still didn't like religions and how they controlled the populace, despite her and Ceylan's discussion about religion in which Kesh sniffed up Frog Dust, a dust off of dried off frogs that helped one with their thinking and focus... Or so she thought, it instead made her talk in rambles and then pass out from talking too much about nothing but how good Frog Dust was. Have you ever wanted to become a megalomaniac God obsessed with the farts of potatoes? Well look no further with the Frog Dust. And yes it has to be spelled that specific way. That also said, she did keep that medallion the god had given them, it was just, uh, sitting in some pawn shop right now.

That was usually the thoughts that generated in her strange head. Her thoughts came rushing back when Cayde spotted something in the distance, when he commented to Kesh to not indulge in her Ratkin ways, she was already leaning over his shoulder, drooling at the mouth with eyes wide enough to make her rat eyes bulge out of her rat skull. In conclusion. She wanted that sword. " Can sell for gold-money though....! " She complained as she then slipped off Cayde slowly like a slug till she landed on the ground in which she quickly got up and slumped against Cayde. " But teacher alchemist human Clyde! It can help sell for good gold-money to get school-lessons for us! We can probably find a mushroom on it and make more Frog Dust! " Despite Frog Dust needing dried frog to make. It was just one of her terrible bargaining tales. Kesh was holding onto his shoulder before she noticed the same thing he did.

Twisting her head to peak at the two strangers. " Stranger-weirdos. " Kesh released Cayde as she quickly scampered onto her feet and looked in their direction. " You think they carry gold-money, teacher alchemist human Clyde? " The Ratkin asked her teacher while hopping up and down excitedly, she even did a small little quick backflip. " Can Kesh run-go through their pockets? " She asked a bit too loudly, mainly from excitement.
 
The Overgrown Marshes
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Mentions: Baharius Develius Develius | Scylla RavenSong RavenSong | Cayde The Last Curse The Last Curse | Kesh Skyhunter Skyhunter

As the brave adventurers were drawn closer to the odd scene of a carcass, a sword and a 'shield' in the swamp, they would start to realise the dangerous nature of this swamp. Bugs, the size of small chickens were crawling all over the carcass.

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The only person able to recognise them out of this group was Cayde, thanks to his general knowledge on nature and survival. These were corpse-beetles, known to thrive in environments like these. They normally fed exclusively off of corpses, hence the name, but anyone foolish enough to challenge one of them would be overrun by the entire group of them, as a panicked corpse-beetle secreted fluids that'd sent the rest in a frenzy to attack anything hit by such fluids. Whilst they weren't big enough to be lethal on their own, they were capable of swarming a person and tearing off pieces of skin and flesh until nothing but bones remained. In general, it was often best to leave them alone and steer clear of them.

Furthermore, Baharius, although fitting in with the environment pretty well, didn't have any talent for concealment or stealth and would therefore stand out just enough to Cayde as a potential threat (thanks to his knowledge on nature and survival). Meanwhile, Kesh (thanks to her heightened hearing and scent) was able to pick up on barely noticeable signs of life coming from underneath that odd 'shield' like thing, such as the soft sound of breathing. Whilst neither would know what exactly was there, both would know to be on guard for it.

As for Scylla's pessimistic thoughts, there might be more realistic than she first realised. Although this swamp was located on the edge of the Dark Continent, it was still the Dark Continent. Only the strong, the brave and the foolish ventured towards such a place. What category each of these adventurer's fell into was a different story, but there was one thing they should all be aware off. Whilst on the monster continent, it was safer to assume the worst out of everyone and everything you encountered, especially if you weren't a [monster] of decent strength and power.

The latter was why Kalina, who'd been going around as normal, was very surprised to hear the sounds of non-monsters in the distance. She instinctively started to stealth, but upon picking up a the alchemist calling out on whether the other two 'were peaceful' she figured she'd change tactics and used an [alternate identity]. It didn't take long for her to turn into Chandra Jarmil, the beginner adventurer.

Chandra Jarmil

“Oh, thank god, finally some other humans!” She called out to them, as she approached, using [Deception E] to sound appropriately desperate and relieved. “I've been wandering through these cursed marshes for ages, thinking I'd be doomed to wander them until the end of time...” She didn't have to lie about that part, as that had been the sad reality thus far. “What are all of you doing here? Don't you know we're on the Dark Continent? It's incredibly dangerous!”
 

TheSimianMind

New Member
With a squelch, burnished black Cavalier boots impinge on the boundary of the Overgrow Marshes as Clarice alights from the roots of the ancient bald cypress that served as her vantage point. Without missing a beat, she slogs through the muck, making a beeline for the thicketed bank where her donkey, Poppy, and her peer, Scylla, await her. Two catfish, one bullfrog, and a host of invertebrates scatter before her as she cautiously ascends the treacherous slope leading up to terra firma. When, at long last, she plants her boots on dry ground, she retrieves her burgundy mantle, now emblazoned with the glowing seal of the School of Psionics at the Imperial Academy of Logia, dons said garment, and fastens it with a patinated brass brooch depicting a gyrfalcon in flight.

Never one to leave anything to chance, Clarice then checks the contents of the small cart hitched to Poppy for the fifth time. She ticks items off of a mental checklist as she scans her expedition's supplies:
  • Three Days of Clean Water: 220 lbf
  • Five Days of Rations and Dry Feed: 75 lbf
  • Two-Person Tent: 7 lbf
  • Axe: 5 lbf
  • Shovel: 5 lbf
  • Five Bundles of Wood (Including Tinder): 130 lbf
  • Cookware: 20 lbf
  • Salt: 1 lbf
  • Three Blankets: 15 lbf
  • Toiletries: 2 lbf
  • Spare Clothes and Footwear: 30 lbf
  • Medical Kit: 5 lbf
  • Three Bullseye Lanterns: 6 lbf
  • 96 Hours of Oil (After Refilling the Bullseye Lanterns): 3 lbf
  • 100 Feet of Hempen Rope: 20 lbf
  • Block and Tackle: 5 lbf
  • Land Navigation Tools (Compass and Maps): 3 lbf
  • Scroll Case: 0.5 lbf
  • 2 Jars of Insect Repellant: 1.5 lbf
Total (Approximate): 555 lbf of Supplies
Note: Standard Practice Stipulates Total Weight Pulled on Level Ground Should Not Exceed Twice the Weight of the Donkey
Check: Weight of Donkey * 2 = 380 lbf * 2 = 760 lbf => 760 lbf > 555 lbf => PASS
Addendum: Safety Factor = 760 lbf / 525 lbf ~ 1.37 => Good Enough for the Wooden Cart and Spare Wheel

Nodding in affirmation at the sufficiency of the expedition's supplies for a two-day jaunt through the fens - an inventory that does not include any of the items on Scylla's or Clarice's persons - the next task Clarice tackles is refilling the bullseye lanterns to ensure she can spot hazards like quicksand, pools of piranhas, and skeletal pirates from a safe distance. It's as simple as opening a port, inserting a funnel, and pouring oil into the aforementioned funnel. Her radiant cerulean eyes focus on the light yellow kerosene flowing into the container. She compares the meniscus to the gradations on a ruler she produces from her pocket and computes the volume of fluid as she listens to Scylla's misgivings. She contemplates their situation before responding, quirking an eyebrow and brushing a rebellious lock of flaxen hair that has escaped her banded ponytail to the side before drumming her fingertips on the floor of her modest, wooden cart.

You should not base your self-worth on others' valuation of your abilities, Scylla. Therein lies despair, for the world is cruel and rife with pride and envy.

As if voicing her agreement, Poppy brays and snorts at Clarice's somber tones. Concurrently, Clarice, lantern in hand, circles around the cart to join her friend. Her eyes emit ethereal light as her true self, muzzled and fettered by black chains oozing animate shadows that seek to eclipse her radiance, is reflected on the surface of the stagnant water as the sun crests the surrounding hillocks continuing its never-ending cycle of death and renewal.

It is no mean feat, I will concede, to unseat this virulent notion, so pervasive it is in our contemporary society. Day in and day out, others measure you by such trivialities as your social class and the marks you received in school; in doing so, they disregard the vibrant colors you add to this drab canvas the gods have bequeathed to us. That is where our true selves manifest, and if our instructors deny this reality, we will show them what we are.

Clarice attempts to set her left hand on Scylla's shoulder as a reassuring smile graces her countenance. The bellicose facade Clarice works so hard to maintain melts away, and in the presence of the purity of emotion that remains - the desperate desire to protect the innocent from the evils of this world - Scylla might glean that Clarice's soul is anything but human.

We are rockstars, and the world is our stage. Where we perform, people throng, for we are light, strength, and hope personified. Though we feel small, though we feel powerless as we size up the army of naysayers and critics waiting in the wings, we play with such vigor that the gods themselves sway to our sound.



Finally, Clarice offers Scylla the lantern she bears.

We can bring light to the dark corners of this land, but if that is the outcome you desire, you must first realize the potential you possess.

As the shades overwhelm her other self, the ethereal light fades from Clarice's eyes. She recoils, grits her teeth, clenches her fists, shuts her eyes, and draws in ragged breaths as though experiencing great pain. When she opens her eyes, the radiance is gone.

Clarice pauses. She collects her thoughts and centers herself. She watches as Scylla mirthfully crosses the threshold. In response, she chimes:

Alea iacta est.

Poppy nudges her down the path.

-----
In no time flat, Clarice and Poppy introduce Scylla to their remarkably backwards relationship. When traveling through unexplored territory and left to her own devices, Clarice seems inclined to rely on Poppy's animal instincts to guide the party. That is to say, Poppy frequently leads Clarice, and bizarrely, this works out better than one might anticipate. Poppy typically picks paths that are dry, easy to navigate, and free of predators. Clarice operates lanterns, calms Poppy, and reacts to anything that seems to alarm Poppy. Clarice also uses her [Psychokinesis F + Investigation F] to cover the party's tracks. By default, Clarice walks side-by-side with Poppy, signaling that they are a team, not just a master and a pack animal. On top of that, Clarice treats Poppy very well, allowing her ample rest and keeping her fed and hydrated as the expedition endures the wet, humid marshland. In short, Clarice relies on Poppy's superior hearing to avoid monsters lurking in the darkness and works with Poppy and Scylla to identify paths that don't involve stranding the cart in unfavorable terrain.

Scylla might also note that when Clarice is indisposed, Poppy tends to amble over to Scylla and either stand near her or try to convince Scylla to pet her. Poppy doesn't seem happy when Scylla or Clarice leave her sight; she endeavors to reestablish line-of-sight as quickly as she can.

Clarice appears tense while exploring the marshland, but she attempts to keep Scylla's spirits high by recounting lighthearted stories as they progress. She chats about anything Scylla wishes to discuss and, much like Poppy, does her best to watch Scylla's back at all times.

-----
The unwholesome reek of rotting flesh unnerves Poppy and triggers the klaxons in Clarice's mind. Time seems to dilate for her as she inspects the scene laid out in front of her.

-
[Accelerated Thought Process F + Investigation F]

Observed four items of interest.

Item 1: 7-Foot Great Sword and Personal Belongings
  • Wielder must be more than 7 ft tall.
    • Handle is not designed for a giant.
      • Typical Location: Sheathed in back-scabbard.
  • Typical single handed arming swords weigh 2 lbf.
    • 7-Foot Great Sword is extremely heavy.
      • Cumbersome: The wielder relies on brute strength rather than finesse to best opponents.
      • Dull: While the sword may have a cutting edge, it is likely more of a bludgeon.
  • Blood and gore present on the blade.
    • Blood oxidizes steel. Under normal circumstances, swordsman would have cleaned the blade before the blood caked.
      • Hurried: The wielder doffed the weapon in a hurry.
      • Bloodied: The wielder was involved in an altercation recently.
      • Recent: The blood has not blackened. Cannot determine how long the blood has been exposed to the air at this distance.
      • Haven: After the battle, the wielder felt safe enough to disarm.
  • Blue gem adorns hilt.
    • Decorations suggest item is valuable.
      • Not Abandoned: Wielder likely to return to retrieve sword.
      • Nearby: Wielder is likely nearby.
      • ALTERNATE HYPOTHESIS: Sword is a trap.
  • Personal belongings resemble humanoid items.
    • Fasteners suggest opposable thumbs. No saddlebags. Methodically arranged.
      • Humanoid: Wielder is a humanoid.
      • No Emergency: While the wielder was in a hurry to doff items, the wielder was not motivated by an emergency.
Conclusion: Evidence suggests the wielder is a large humanoid with super-strength. The wielder battled something, doffed items, and departed for a nearby location. The wielder was in a hurry but did not fear for its life.

Item 2: Pool With Bull Calf Carcass and Yellow-Spotted Object
  • Match: Animal was killed with 7-Foot Great Sword.
  • Match: Yellow-Spotted Object is Wielder.
    • DEDUCTION: 7-Foot Great Sword is too cumbersome to wield in the water.
      • DEDUCTION: Wielder dragged carcass into water.
        • DEDUCTION: Wielder is amphibious.
    • DEDUCTION: Wielder is carnivorous.
      • DEDUCTION: Wielder is ambush predator.
  • Minimal hostile flora and fauna in the area.
    • DEDUCTION: Wielder scared off local fauna.
Conclusion: The wielder is an ambush predator hiding in the water. Exercise extreme caution. Stay out of striking distance of the water.
Addendum: The wielder likely does not have access to ranged weaponry. Remain at a distance and terminate at range if the need arises.

Item 3: Ratkin and Plague Doctor
  • Ratkin backflip?
    • Ratkin backflip.
      • Acrobatic: Ratkin is acrobat.
        • Rogue: Fighting style likely focuses on finesse and quick movements.
      • Superfluous: Ratkin wastes energy.
        • Attrition: Ratkin's fighting style likely leads to exhaustion. Draw-out engagements if necessary.
  • "Can Kesh go run-through their pockets?"
    • Thief.
      • Unjust Gods: Psychopaths could murder this ratkin without fear of reprisal.
    • Named Kesh.
    • Wants money.
      • Mercenary Behavior: Could buy off.
    • Very loud.
      • Bad News: Something wicked probably heard that.
        • Wielder: The sword wielder definitely heard that.
          • Mortality: Kesh might not be long for this world.
      • Novice: Kesh is not a veteran highwayman.
    • Hired Hand: The Plague Doctor is Kesh's boss.
  • Plague Doctor
    • Creepy.
      • Medicine Man: Potentially a doctor.
        • QUERY: Why would a doctor be in a swamp with a ratmerc?
          • DEDUCTION: Doctor is gathering ingredients for a potion
  • "Is this your sword stuck in the mud?"
    • Very loud.
      • Second Mortality: Monsters are definitely headed this way right now. Hope that thing in the water isn't hungry.
  • "Are you two friendly?"
    • These two are liabilities.
      • Flee: Grab them and run or abandon them to their fate?
    • ALTERNATE HYPOTHESIS - DARVEN'S REVENGE: Darven is trying to murder Scylla and Clarice and these two are his illusory pawns for accomplishing that end.
  • Insufficient supplies.
    • Okay, where are ratkin and the plague doctor keeping their supplies?
      • Unplanned Excursion: These two are going to die out here unless something changes.
      • Stash: These two have a camp nearby.
Conclusion: Kesh, the ratkin rogue, wants to rob Scylla and Clarice, but her boss, a plague doctor who is likely searching for ingredients for a concoction, hasn't given them the go-ahead. They are likely in a bind, but it is quite possible that they are hoping to convince Scylla and Clarice to lower their guard so they can rob them more easily. They might have setup camp nearby or they might be a drain on the expedition's limited resources. Optimal resolution unclear. Continuously reevaluate.

Item 4: Loner
  • Trap.
    • This is too much of a coincidence. There aren't many beastfolk or humans on this continent.
      • REVELATION: Something old and powerful has drawn them here.
        • CORRECTION: This place is not quiet and peaceful because that thing in the water drove the fauna away.

-
At this revelation, Clarice's eyes go wide and frantically sweep up, down, left, and right. She shines her bullseye lantern onto the ominous landscape, searching for any clues that she might analyze to gain insight into the enemy. She knows better than to tell everyone to run. For now, all paths lead back to this place.

Don't use your true names!

Clarice shouts in a panic! She is no longer concerned about attracting unwanted attention; they've already been caught in a spider's web! Her heart pounds in her chest as she attempts to pass Poppy's lead to Scylla that she might loose the Aspect of the Sapphire Dragon upon whatever might emerge from the fens.

I thought it was all a nursery tale dreamed up to keep children from wandering into the wilds, but it's all real, isn't it? I cannot remember the words. Still, I hear the voices in the wind.

Clarice attempts to grab one of Scylla's hands.

Until we leave these woe-begotten fens, call me Alice. I am not certain that our adversary is an onomancer, but it is old and wily enough to know the true names of air and earth and darkness and thus command many servants. Accept no gifts that strangers might freely offer to you; through such favors, they may bind you. Stay away from the water; a creature hides within.

And if you remember the story, write it down, for the more I try to recall, the more I forget. Perhaps that is the nature of its domain.

With that, Clarice will release Scylla (if she managed to grab one of her hands) and begin to hum a half-remembered tune concerning the Hag of the Overgrown Marshes.
 
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Develius

"Kaiju Enthusiast"

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Mentions:
Elvario Elvario
(Kalina/Chandra) | RavenSong RavenSong (Scylla) | The Last Curse The Last Curse (Cayde) | Skyhunter Skyhunter (Kesh) | TheSimianMind TheSimianMind (Clarice)


With more attention now gathering around the death site, the animals nearby began to stir ever more in response to the ever mounting tension. As Clarice shouts her warning, several of the crows and storks cried out startlingly and flew off with the rustling of feathers. Those that remained perked in the trees cocked their heads towards the water, eying the shield-like structure as if they scened movement. While the newfound cast was well wary of a potential monster lurking around these parts, all seemed to have failed to notice the black and yellow object lurking in the water's edge. And now...

It began to move.

The sail subtly inched forward with the stagnant current before slowly turning to face the water's edge where the adventurers stood. Where once was a large area had now turned into a thin slice against the backdrop. Inch by inch, the structure steadily glided through the water - getting closer and closer to its target. Even if one or two other members noticed its approach, there would be little to halt its arrival. By the time it reached shallow water, it was too late.

The sail slowly began to rise from the scum-filled bog, revealing the creature from the black depths with a deep groan. Multiple yellow-tipped spines surrounded the base of the sail and back, revealing a truly massive reptilian monster. It had a scaly rusty-brown hide, topped with a darken back and with a tan-underbelly, that gleamed with the water's shine. It was an incredibly muscular individual too, heaving itself onto land with its massive clawed arms well past the size of a regular human head. By comparison, its legs were rather short and stubby, though no doubt muscular in their own right, and adorned with large dark scutes that acted as natural armor. Interestingly, it too worse a set of bronze armor that covered his chest, knees, and arms. A long, almost tadpole-like, webbed tail flicked in and out of the water like a serpent, itself longer than two men. And most striking of all was the beast's crocodilian-like head, revealing its needle-sharp teeth, while adorned with a vividly colorful crest of yellows and blues sporting the top of its head. The left side of its face was also scarred with several faded scratches, implying he had faced battle some time ago.

To some, this thing would look like a massive lizardfolk or a minor forest drake perhaps; but everything else about it would look incredibly bizarre. It likely wouldn't match any depiction of a typical monster, or even rare species or subspecies, to any of the individuals.

As the beast rose it's body to full height - towering over the cast at over 7 feet at the shoulder - it stared at the whole cast with it's round, avian-like, yellow eyes. It was an intimidating sight to behold, especially as it released a deep guttural growl every time it exhaled a breath. Thankfully, for the adventurers, it didn't seem to pose itself as a threat; nor did it seem to be its intention. If anything, it seemed rather curious of them as they are to it.

"Travelers..." the great beast spoke in a deep, yet surprisingly dignified, manner. It had a rather booming presence, with a vague raspy undertone matching its scaly appearance. "It's not often that a band this large comes through here. What brings all of you to these parts?"
 
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The Overgrown Marshes
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Mentions: Baharius Develius Develius | Scylla RavenSong RavenSong | Cayde The Last Curse The Last Curse | Kesh Skyhunter Skyhunter | Clarice TheSimianMind

Clarice's thorough perorations had proven to be a double-edged blade thus far. Bringing so much stuff to the Dark Continent had not been cheap and easy, but considering these marshes were on the very edge of it, they'd managed to find someone willing to drop it all off at a (somewhat) affordable price. Having all of it at had had proven to be wonderful whilst traversing the outer edges of the Overgrown Marshes. Especially the insect repellent was worth its weight in gold.

However, now that they were closer to the interior of the marshes, problems had started to stack up. As nicely as Clarice and Poppy were able to work together in the easier outer parts of the marshes, things were falling apart now that they were closer to the interior. Dry paths were getting scarce to non-existent, every single misstep through some knee-deep water was making Poppy a very easy target for leeches, halting the cart on seemingly solid ground was becoming more and more problematic as even the solid-most ground they could find was having the carts wheels slowly sink into the mushy soil and no matter how much insect repellent they used, the poor donkey slowly and steadily started to attract more and more mosquitoes of sizes big enough to make a shiver roll down your spine. They'd likely have to figure out whether to abandon the car and donkey, try to park them somewhere relatively safe or to turn back altogether, as it was clear that bringing the cart to the centre of the marshes wasn't going to be an option unless they found an extremely creative or magical way to deal with all these problems and were willing to take the risk of the donkey and cart starting to attract the more dangerous wildlife of the marshes' interior.

Whilst Clarice had some impressive quick-thinking going on, drawing as many conclusions as she could from whichever information she could gather, her reaction was a little less though-through.

Chandra Jarmil

Kalina, in the guise of Chandra, didn't have to act surprised at the reaction her words had gotten. She genuinely was surprised and confused in equal measure. “What!?!” Sure enough, she wasn't using her real name by default, but... It was a bit odd for this total stranger to introduce herself by yelling such a thing in panic. However, Clarice's frantic looking around made Kalina follow suit, as she followed her line of sight to figure out what had gotten this girl so panicked.

That was when Baharius decided upon his perfectly-timed introduction. Thanks to his super-strength, he was rising up from the marshes with relative ease. A few leeches had managed to latch onto him whilst he was being submerged, but thanks to his decent enough vitality, they weren't too big of an issue if he were to remember to get them off later, before they could start to cause festering wounds.

Kalina, still disguised as Chandra, however, had already drawn and aimed her crossbow at the monster. She was on the verge of shooting it, aiming it right at is eyes, when it spoke up. In a mixture of surprise and disbelief, she replied, recalling she was currently supposed to be shy, she made sure to stammer a little [Deception E] to keep up the act. “Y-you... you talk!?!” The next bit was a lot more genuine. “What, no.... who are you?”

As for the weird lizard-beasts own question, Kalina figured this was a good opportunity to introduce her story. “I was here with some other adventurers, hoping to find the Hag said to live here. We've heard rumours that she's not a full-blooded monster, but that she's half Fae, so it might be possible to make a deal with her if we want to establish some form of base of operations on the Dark Continent, but the rest of my group... I... I don't think they made it.” Still using her [Deception E], she mixed up lies and a bit of truth into a nice blend. Whilst it was true that she heard rumours of the hag being part Fae, the rest of her story was mostly lied.
 
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Scylla brought a pondering finger to her lips, puckering playfully a bit as she did so at Clarice's comments. “You know what? You're right Clarice! Thank you for setting me straight..” She would shrug a bit, “..I don't know, i'm just still very new to all this..” Scylla made quote signals, as the following words illuminated infront of her, almost as if she was writing into the air before her, “..”official mage business” stuff, you know?” She scratched the back of her head nervously.

Admittedly so much of her discourse on the inner workings of human nature and societal programming went over Scylla’s bubbly head, nodding as she looked over the plant life surrounding them. However, upon mention of proving themselves and showing their superiors the beauty and color of existence she turned to look at her for a moment. “Yeah, I imagine we would need some way to prove our ideological points, but perhaps that’s best left for another assignment or outing. This world doesn’t take very kindly to.. ‘different’ people you know? Would be a shame if we got burnt at the stake just for thinking differently. Lets play our metaphorical cards wisely.”

Her attention was then ripped from her observations to the lantern Clarice would offer, taking it in her hands with a confused blank stare upon her features. “Uhm..” she stuttered. “..yes, yes.. perhaps someday.”

She noticed something different about her partner, she was visibly tense and a bit distracted by something as they continued down the path. Clarice seemed to almost shift between two aspects of herself, but perhaps it was her mind control magic. Scylla, with book in hand compared the flora to the descriptions and illustrations she was provided by the Ryken Academy library. “Hmm.. yeah, none of these are it..” she admitted, “..however we might not completely out of luck, it seems the deeper we seem to go into this marsh the more complex the organism become..” looking back at Clarice and Poppy she gave a nervous look. “..seems like it might get dangerous but we must go deeper into this dreadful swamp.” She said, stating the obvious at this point.

——

Continuing down the path it became more and more difficult to traverse with a their supplies. But was quickly distracted by Clarices inspiring speech on them being ‘rockstars’.

“Heh.. yeah!” She cheered quiet enough to not stir anything hidden in this marshland. “It’s not often i hear you so.. enthusiastic Clarice.” She said smiling back at her.

—-

Before long however, and without much notice she realized Poppy, their donkey companion getting overrun with all manner of insect life, especially mosquitos. “EWWW!” She exclaimed pointing at the bugs surrounding their trusted donkey companion. Determined to help her however she mustered up a few fire darts, lighting as many as she could ablaze pretending to shoot them ,taking gestures as if she had a gun in hand, her staff providing the ammo. "Pew.. pew!" [Fire Affinity]

It’d be futile however, as for as many she defeated two or more would take their place.

Soon after noticing the bog, the sword and the carcass, she quickly notices two others approaching, stopping for a moment and say seemed to converse among themselves. Clarices shout would startle Scylla however, “Wh- what?!” She exclaimed under her breath, as Clarices panic seemed to make her just as anxious. Mention of using fake names, however, as much of a good idea as it was, Scylla felt it set the stage for suspicion. She smiled nervously at the plague doctor, before addressing Clarices suspicion. “Please, Clarice.. pull it together, if they wanted to kill us or rob us they would have done so by now instead of speaking to us.” She responded trying muster an air of confidence.



Scylla was quite anxious to see such a pair, and quite frankly they fit the atmosphere, especially the rat folk who’s kind she’d never seen before, mostly just in research archives conducted by field mages, that for some reason she just couldn’t remember. However, she figured these two lived nearby. Maybe.

Calling out to the witch doctor and the rat folk, she began, “Hello. I am.. S..” she glanced at Clarice, “..Scylla.. were on official Academy business, and we desire no trouble..” then the ratkin began to jump, or dance.. then.. a backflip? “..eh.. who are you?” She asked, unable to take her eyes off the ratkin, something about her made the witch a bit uneasy.

Before Scylla could continue however, yet another would reveal herself as Chandra, she turned to look at her, standing close to Clarice and their infested donkey companion. She seemed genuine enough, but it was strange to meet someone lost in the middle of this otherwise desolate marshland. Scylla fought any weary thoughts however, besides, what Ill could come from simply introducing yourself. Right?

“Hi! My names is Scylla and this is.. C- ..Alice! Heh.. we’re actually on an urgent errand of utmost importance.. however, you don’t have to trouble yourself, I’m glad you have found your way, the exit would be that way.” She pointed towards the path they took to get to where the two were currently.

Quickly, and as if by some twisted luck, whatever was lurking in the bog, suddenly spurred to life. Eyes wide the witch charged up a spell as her staff began to levitate before her, a small gust would brew under Scylla as she beheld the sword wielding creature. “I assume we’re past any introductions with this one right?” She said out loud, but then, the creature spoke, and her magic began to wane upon the possibility of the creature not being hostile. “I.. e..wh..” she stuttered and turned to Clarice. “..did.. that thing just talk?!” She asked with a lightly shrill voice.
 
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saxon

Member
Nissa
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Nissa rested her hand on the pommel of her sword; she had decided to take a trip to the dark continent; the vampire pulled out a jar of blood that she had stored in her pack and took small sip of blood. I still find drinking blood strange, though I suppose it can't be helped. Still, I do miss normal food. She thought to herself as he let out a sigh; she decided it was better not to take a normal path as she moved through the wilderness. The Vampire didn't expect much of anyone to be up here, but the rumors of this hag intrigued her. So the silver-haired Vampire trudged on seeing a sword in the distance, intrigued; as she moved closer, a carcass came into view than a group of people and a giant lizard.

Nissa figured it was best to sit in the bushes as the group conversed; she could tell there were a few humans in the group, a plague doctor and a rat person. Wait, rat people exist here? She thought to herself as she face-palmed herself for her stupidity of not knowing that rat people were a thing. Upon hearing that they were also looking for the hag she grinned. Well, this just might be my lucky day, She thought to herself as she cleared her throat and pushed out of the bushes making as much noise as possible.

Upon exiting the bush, she placed a hand on her hip as she rested the other on the pommel casually,
"The hag you say, well then our interests might be aligned," She concluded, doing her best to hide her fangs as she spoke. There wasn't a need to freak out the strangers off the bat; if she was lucky, she could restock her blood supply. Though the swamp made her feel gross, which was strange since she was undead, she still felt gross.

Elvario Elvario RavenSong RavenSong The Last Curse The Last Curse Skyhunter Skyhunter TheSimianMind TheSimianMind Develius Develius
 

The Last Curse

21% Delirious

As usual, Kesh wanted to rob the strangers. It was a habit Cayde had to endure often and one he'd found an easy solution to. Producing a shiny ryke from a pouch in his jacket, he shuffled over to the rat woman and placed it in her palm. Hopefully, that'd be enough to sate her kleptomania. Cayde had a feeling it wouldn't, though. "Now, Kesh, that's not how we greet strangers," He said, leaning in close to whisper the following, "Especially if they're acting so damn strange." Cayde did find it suspicious that the witch's companion concealed their name, especially in such a frightened manner. Her peculiar humming afterward wasn't very trustworthy, either. Neither was the sudden appearance of another adventurer.

Before he could question Chandra too, the witch, now revealing herself as Scylla and her companion as Clarice Alice, gave a proper introduction. Cayde sighed in relief; finally, they were getting somewhere. "Oh, you two are from the academy?" Cayde had heard of the Mage's Academy, although less frequently than the Adventurer's Guild. Their exploits were just as prone to rumor, however: Magical pilgrimages, grueling initiations, arcane research - Cayde could believe they found something of interest on this continent. Something that'd pique his interest, too, a part of him hoped. "Well, now I'm thrilled you're friendly. Fireballs and lightning bolts don't make good first impressions, y'know?" Cayde quipped, his voice gaining a friendly yet nervous lilt. It seemed he was never safe from magic wherever he went.

Nor was he safe from nature, a colossal, vaguely reptilian figure emerging from the swamp before him. As he reached for his crossbow, his eyes gazed over the massive sail along its back. He couldn't pinpoint it to any creature he'd ever seen. A wave of confusion started to wash over him, even more so when the beast posed a question to everyone. "Excuse me?" Cayde glanced warily at the others. They seemed just as baffled as he was. His lips began to reply, but then he heard another voice behind him.

It was another woman, Cayde noticed, and much like Chandra, they too mentioned something about a hag. Cayde was starting to get a bit freaked out. The swamp was already eerie as is, but now there were people appearing out of nowhere, lizardmen jumping out of the mud, and apparently, a witch stationed somewhere in the fens. He looked at Kesh. She must've drugged his canteen - there was no way any of this was happening.

In the odd case, it was real, Cayde decided to speak up. "Look, I dunno who's going to show up next, but I'll just introduce myself now, yeah?" He cleared his throat and tried to steady his posture, saying, "I'm Cayde - alchemist by trade. The rat woman over there? That's Kesh, my peer in the field. Don't drink anything she touches." Cayde wouldn't have to clarify why - they'd find out soon enough, "We're here gathering ingredients for new recipes. The 'Dark Continent's brimming with rare materials, so we thought we should come to take a look for ourselves." He explained, hiding the fact he'd come here to find another revelation. With [Deception] and [Persuasion], hopefully, that wouldn't stand out too much.

"Plus," Cayde added, nodding to every member around him, a smile starting to form in his voice, "Who wouldn't want to visit the monster-infested continent during this time of year? I hear the beaches are just lovely." He dismissed his attempt at a joke with a cough and began to address Daharius and Nissa, "But enough with the jokes - can you two at least give us an introduction?"

He looked at Chandra next, "And maybe tell us more about this, 'hag'?"
 

Skyhunter

Entity of Change
Kesh

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With the seduction of one singular Ryken Coin placed into Kesh's palm, the eyes of the Ratkin grew exponentially large as she then pocketed the coin like the rat she was, making these weird happy and almost erotic noises that only she could utter. Like a coo that a happy mother would make for their children while she stuffed the coin into her pocket. Kesh had a happy smile on her face as she looked to Cayde who tried, key word 'tried' to educate her on how to introduce herself to people. Kesh looked a bit confused on this statement, how else was she supposed to introduce herself to people if she wanted their gold-money? Although she agreed they were acting strange, almost like... Kesh narrowed her eyes. Almost like they didn't want to reveal they had gold-money. Kesh leaned in a bit staring at the two, this Scylla and Alice, the Scylla that was before them seemed honest, but the Alice was acting very strange... Almost like her name wasn't Alice. " But Clyde. I'm supposed to act strange. " Kesh whispered a bit loudly.

To Kesh, this school they spoke seemed useful, she looked to Cayde with a wide grin and an almost pleasant demeanor to her, " Hey. Maybe we can learn more about alchemy there. " Kesh explained as her small little rat paws were gently patting Cayde's arm like an excited child. She even held his arm and began hopping up and down holding his arm still grinning widely. " But that witch is a witch! Look at what she is wearing! " Kesh pointed out, not really revealing anything too much. Then she pointed at her partner, Clairice or who was actually named Alice. " And that woman... She is looks like a liar. " Kesh called out, tripping over her own tongue, the drugs in her system were having Kesh speak her thoughts. Then the rise of a large monster out of the water had Kesh immediately now intrigued, the Ratkin saw and gasped loudly, crouching low with her arms wide. " It's huge! Can we keep it too! " Kesh asked Cayde, looking back at him, " I'll take care of it! I can keep it in my room! " Kesh tried to explained, her eyes looked at the large beast and moved through the ground to get closer, " Traveller? No, I'm Kesh. " Kesh pointed at herself. " Watch. I can do this. " Kesh then attempted a front flip by jumping into the air and landing on her feet with a " Hup! " She stuck the landing back in a crouch with her arms extended out. " Whahcha. " Kesh looked at the large monster. " Hi. " Kesh stood up straight, " I'm Kesh! I want to go to school! " Kesh pointed her thumb back at herself and looked at Cayde, " That's Clyde over there, Clyde! Come say hi! "

Kesh then backed up as more people appeared, " Okay. I've had too much, there's a lot of people here. Clyde! There's a few people here! " Kesh called as she quickly made her way back to hide behind the plague doctor, peeking out behind Cayde. " Clyde. Why are there so many people in this swamp? Am I just that high? " Kesh asked a little worried looking at Cayde a bit worried but then she laughed, " No. No, I'm not. " Kesh shook her head, " I can never have too much. " Kesh patted Cayde's shoulder with a laugh. " Who wants to donate to the Kesh Family Plan for Schooling? " She asked out to everyone who was listening at this point.
 

Develius

"Kaiju Enthusiast"

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Mentions:
Elvario Elvario
(Kalina/Chandra) | RavenSong RavenSong (Scylla) | The Last Curse The Last Curse (Cayde) | Skyhunter Skyhunter (Kesh) | TheSimianMind TheSimianMind (Clarice) | saxon saxon (Nissa) |


His sudden presence had certainly spooked the travelers upon emerging from the green bog. For awhile, they looked as if they were about to consider striking him on the spot! Not that he would blame them of course; for his size and battle-scarred looks very much painted him as a ferocious blood-thirsty monster for the untrained eye. And if they attempted to slay the beast, he would simply back into the depths from where he came. One or two opponents would've been easy pickings; but five to six armed adventurers was a risky venture. Besides, this lot didn't seem the kind to bring much mischief. Yet only through speech alone was the beast able to quell their frightened looks into dumbfound stares. They certainly weren't expect a giant lizard-creature of his stature to reveal any form of sapience, let alone speak.

And he was very well aware of this.

"Quell your disbelief." the crocodilian beast assured the travelers in a more relaxed tone, his gaze directed towards Chandra specifically, "For I'm not here to cause any of you harm. I am Baharius; a saurian, or 'saurial' as some claim. To say I'm a resident of these parts is inaccurate; rather I consider myself a... temporary guest."

Once he announced his identity, the woman he gleamed at began to tell him and everyone her current objective. Chandra said that she was looking for a particular hag of half-fae and half-monster origins. She wanted to strike a deal with her to form an establishing presence in the Dark Continent, yet her original companions have since perished. The saurian, believing this claim, shook his head. "My deep condolences." Baharius replied with a low, rather sorrowful tone, "Not many people make it out of the swamps alive. From my experience, one must always be cautious for~"

He was then quickly interrupted by a ratkin landing in front of him with a rather impressive front flip. Baharius' head cocked towards the tiny rat person introducing herself as "Kesh" and how she wants to go to school. The beast chuckled at her statement, waving his meaty hooked claws in friendly acknowledgement. "It is never too late to learn new tricks, little one!" he lightly jests, as the ratkin introduced her companion, Clayde the Alchemist. According to the beaked figure, both he and his peer were searching for new and rare materials for their alchemical experiments in these new lands. Baharius had seen plenty of unique and exotics plants and herbs in his time here, but lacked any knowledge to what any were and what properties they bore. He had nothing more to say than to give an affirming nod, as if wishing them good luck on their search.

Of course, Clayde was more interested in what this hag was; saying this just as a new silver haired woman emerged to amalgamate with the crowd with aligned interests. Bahairus couldn't help but to be curious himself as he glanced his scarred snout at Chandra, expecting a further explanation. As he did, he felt several light pinches coming from his lower body. With an annoyed hiss, he used his claws to scratch away the discomfort at his side, with one of them stabbing at something slimy. He looked down to see that he stabbed a leech, no doubt having clung to him when he was submerged in the swamp, and looked to see a few more latched onto his sides. Indeed, he noticed a few more and promptly took care of them with ease.
 
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The Overgrown Marshes
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Mentions: Baharius Develius Develius | Scylla RavenSong RavenSong | Cayde The Last Curse The Last Curse | Kesh Skyhunter Skyhunter | Clarice TheSimianMind TheSimianMind | Nissa saxon saxon

Things were getting so busy that even the corpse-beetles that had been feasting on the carcass were starting to keep an eye out for all the commotion. If it wasn't for the swamp giving some less than pleasant odours, the leeches, the mosquitoes, the high humidity and sogginess of just about everything and the looming threat of whatever might be lurking in this place, it'd almost be nice to be chatting here during a cosy meet-up. However, with this swamp being what it was, they'd had to make do. Those with sharp eyes and a sharp mind might spot one thing, however, as two people were targetted by the mosquitoes and leeches far less than the rest of them; the adventuring lass Chandra and the newest person to stumble into the scene, Nissa.

Chandra Jarmil

As for the disguised Kalina, she frowned when Scylla pointed towards 'the exit' behind her. “With all due respect, I'm confident that only leads further into these marshes.” The didn't have to lie about that, as she was confident she'd arrived from the exact opposite direction. Wait... Kalina looked around. With this many people here, all of a sudden, as well as their directions seemingly not matching up... “Do you think something tricked us to come here?!?” She said, adding a little bit of deception to sound more panicked and shocked than she was.

As for the latest arrival, Kalina instantly suspected she was dealing with someone similar to her when she noticed the lack of blood-leeching insects. Most mosquitoes and leeches didn't like a vampire's second-hand blood all that much, after all. They preferred it fresher. That said, she decided it to be safer not to focus upon it, as she wondered if this new girl would draw the suspicion of anyone else. It'd teach her whom the most perceptive folks were in this odd gather, which would in turn show her whom to be weary off. That said, she did give Nissa a reply. “Are you also looking for the hag, then?”

In turn, she couldn't help herself from raising an eyebrow at the mention of the Alchemist's purpose here. “You're risking your life for ingredients?” She wasn't sure what type of ingredients were valuable enough to warrant such a thing, or if he was lying as much as she was. Either way, she didn't trust this alchemist and his pet rat. They were as shady as she was, which was saying something. She did smile a bit as his odd sense of humour, however, wanting to add to it, but remember she was supposed to be shy now. It meant she had to forgo asking him if he brought enough sunscreen to share. What a shame. That said, there was a more serious question to answer. “I'm afraid I don't know a whole lot more, other than the rumours. She's said to be half fae, half monster, strong enough to make wishes come true and capable of seeing into someone's past and future. However... considering we're suddenly finding each-other here, perhaps someone might be tricking us already, perhaps even her or one of her servants.” She was still wondering if and when something would show itself. Surely, with this many people here, it couldn't be a coincidence.

Although Kalina wasn't too freaked out by Baharius, she figured her current identity of Chandra would be, so she made sure to act the part. A bit sceptical and weary, she nodded. “Then, with all due respect, could you at least tell me of your purpose here?”

However, not too long after she spoke up, they'd hear an odd snap echo across the waters. Upon looking at its place of origin, there was an odd creature standing there that one would instantly associate with the very thing they'd been talking about; a hag. The two folks with enhanced hearing (Nissa and Kesh) would hear the very soft sound of something like falling water droplets as the creature appeared, but what they'd make of that was up to them.

Hag
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“It seems the swamp has once again brought all its uninvited guests together.” The hag spoke, a voice old, slightly feminine and surprisingly powerful. “This would normally be the part where I'd command the corpse beetles to devour you all, but you've caught me in a good mood today and I've got something I'd like to see done.” The hag glossed over the random assortment of 'guests'. “So let's play a game instead.” It didn't take any specific knowledge to surmise that this was rather foreboding. “There are four other creatures in this swamp that have made it their home for quite some time now, all identifiable by the fact that they've earned the swamp's favour. They're not the best neighbours to have, but ancient laws forbid me from chasing them off. Those laws do not apply to you, however. Kill them, threaten them, bribe them or find out how to get them out of these lands and I will guarantee you that you will safely leave these marshes. Entertain me while doing so, and I might even grant you a wish while at it. However, if you fail to play along with this game, I can guarantee you that the same magic that led you all here will leave you wandering through these cursed marshes until your body becomes its fertiliser.”
 

Develius

"Kaiju Enthusiast"

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Mentions:
Elvario Elvario
(Kalina/Chandra) | RavenSong RavenSong (Scylla) | The Last Curse The Last Curse (Cayde) | Skyhunter Skyhunter (Kesh) | TheSimianMind TheSimianMind (Clarice) | saxon saxon (Nissa) |


Baharius continued listening to Chandra with close attention as she admitted that she knew not much aside from the basics she already explained. However, her sudden realization that every party member might've been purposefully drawn to this location caused the Saurian to pause. He squints as his eyes, scouring the immediate vicinity to potentially catch any potential clues, as well as sniffing the air for any unusual scents. Yet he wouldn't sense much out of the ordinary in these swamps; though he did notice that they hadn't been in prime condition since he arrived here. Normally his senses would be incredibly keen in hearing and smelling threats from a considerable distance, allowing himself to brace for nearly any confrontation. Yet here he felt rather overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, including the smell of each unique traveler mixed with the unpleasant odors emanating from the environment. A displeasured growl made his frustrations obvious.

If they were all drawn here for a trap, this would be a great opportunity for the enemy to strike.

Then the same woman asked Baharius what his purpose here was. The Saurian looked down at the woman, his immense size and bulk even dwarfing the considerably tall individual. For an individual like himself, the Spinosaurians in his world naturally liked living in swampy wetlands or cool coastal environments. Their anatomy allowed them to swim quite adequately through the winding river channels and various swampy out-coves with ease. So it was quite natural for someone born with a crocodile snout, a large webbed tail, and sporting extended webbing in between his fingers to call this place home - at least for now. Still, the location was relatively new to Baharius and he'd been sticking strictly to the outer reaches of the locale.

Food was rather plentiful here and the dangers lurking within were usually manageable for him even in his weakened state. Though Baharius also recognized that he hadn't been swimming as well as he used to. Sure he was still able to swim and submerge underwater thanks to his anatomical build, but he felt that he lacked the grace and ease he once had. He couldn't even hold his breath for longer then two minutes tops, where once he could hold it for up to 15 minutes. This, coupled with the rumors he heard about the dangers further inland, had deterred Baharius from willingly moving deeper into the swamp for the time being.

Yet as Baharius was about to explain this to Chandra, he would at last hear the voice of what he assumed to be the hag echo through the misty marsh. The Saurian turned to face the rickety creature, his arms raised and his claws at the ready, issuing a guttural growl that caused steam to vent out from his nostrils. The hag had indeed considered killing them all here, but it turned out she had other plans for them; plans that involved their total cooperation. They were tasked in killing or booting out four swamp creatures that had made a living here as the hag's unfortunate neighbors, for she could not throw them out herself. Their cooperation would guarantee their safe departure from the mashes and, if entertaining enough, a chance to grant one of their wishes. But should any of them defy her order, they would never leave this cursed place again.

The Saurian's lips flared scornfully, revealing two bristling rows of needle-like teeth stacked upon bright pink gums. Baharius was in no mood to take part with her little schemes, wishing he could grab her ancient feeble body within his jagged snout. But even he recognized the fact that he didn't have much of a choice in this. To engage the hag in combat was a far too risky maneuver in this instance, especially if he didn't know the limits of her magic. Nor was it a good option to ignore her now that she made her presence known. With a reluctant grunt, the hulking beast plodded towards the Great Sword still imbedded in the dark muck. Firmly grasping it in his left hand, Baharius heaved the massive blade from the mud with impressive force fitting his stature.

"And just what are these four 'monsters' that you wish to be removed?" he asked bluntly, turning to face the old creature with a vexed glare.
 
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The Overgrown Marshes
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Hag
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The hag turned to Baharius, the only one currently brave enough to reply to her. “As expected, the one that's been here the longest, blunt and direct. Good.” The hag was silent for a moment, before starting off with the descriptions. “The first is a tree demon. An ancient being, slow but strong. He's normally hidden away as one of the trees, but you can recognize him by the foul stench of death and decay beneath his roots. The second is a banshee. This close to the interior of the swamp, you'll undoubtedly hear her ghastly wailing when night falls. Third is a were-rabbit. Don't let her looks fool you, she's killed and eaten countless adventurers that strayed here and you're lucky none of you ran into her while you were alone. The fourth... the fourth I can't say much about, I'm afraid. They'll undoubtedly make their move at some point, just stay on guard at all times and you'll find out.”

Chandra Jarmil

Kalina looked back and forth between the giant lizard and hag. She knew she should be scared of this reptile if she wished to keep up a good fake appearance, but she was more intrigued by it than anything. Luckily enough, the hag was distracting them enough for it not to stand out too much. That said, once the hag finished speaking, she couldn't help but wonder if she should trust this hag. She figured it'd be better to look around first and see how the others were reacting, so rather than instantly agreeing or questioning the hag, she merely observed.
 

TheSimianMind

New Member
Is willful ignorance or spiteful hubris the impetus for countervailing Clarice's admonitions?

Three of the six transients disclose their true names to the biddy's servitors. Perhaps they seek to demonstrate that all the motive force in the world would waste away in the unabating shadow of their self-inflicted benightedness. Nevermind onomancy! Nevermind the arcane underpinnings of the naming ceremonies ubiquitous to immortals and kine alike! Surely, a name cannot bind an individual, hand and foot, to a dread puppeteer's hand in perpetuity! Surely, Clarice is just a crackpot whose judgement cannot be trusted!

Useless.

An abject failure.

Each breach of protocol stokes Clarice's rage. Blistering heat sets her soul ablaze as long-dormant embers - remnants of the World Unmade - erupt into great gouts of blue flame. The inexorable conflagration burns away her panic, purifying her mind. With incongruous clarity for one so discomposed not a minute before, her tuneless humming succumbs to a sonorous testament bespeaking the atrocities she has committed and will commit over and over again.

Clarice bows her head as if in prayer and invokes Sancus, God of Oaths.

[Infernal] Yet again, I anoint myself in innocent blood crying out for vengeance. I feel their suffering - every cut - every bruise - every humiliation - every depravity they were subjected to - indelible wounds carved into their souls by the wicked things that stalk this plane. For every cut, I will rend flesh. For every bruise, I will shatter bone. In everything I do, I will be worse. This rivulet of blood will beget an ocean, for I will never relent. [/Infernal]

The Blue Eminence's conviction reverberates through space and time as she surrenders to appetites Clarice long denied.

-----
When Scylla turns to Clarice in hopes of receiving confirmation of her observations, she will discover that Clarice's patience and geniality are spent. Rather than meeting Scylla's bewildered gaze, Clarice appraises the blood-spattered barbute she holds. It does not feature the frills she is accustomed to - SCBA, enhanced optics, an integrated HUD, onboard VI, etcetera - but the polarizing material set into the eye opening, the ample padding, the crimson accents, the luster of space-age metals, the uncompromising quality, and the maker's mark are evidence of the helmet's otherworldly origins. Her thumb glides over the sleek finish as she contemplates her role in the coming tragedy. A discarded lantern, rests at her feet, illuminating her from below.

When an entity knows your name, it gains a measure of power over you. I should know; I maintain a Book of Names and practice old rites that assist me in overcoming minds warded against tampering. But you know better than me, don't you? In rejecting my counsel, Scylla, you have achieved the dual-purpose of exposing your disturbing lack of faith in me while gifting our adversary with precious information it will weaponize against you.

With that stern reproof, Clarice dons her helmet. No longer would the weakness of this body afflict her. It would either perform as required or it would break. Both outcomes are preferable to living this lie for one second more.

I hope your tenuous alliance and the banter you’ve exchanged is well worth the cost.

-----
Clarice crosses Scylla, interposing herself between her peer and the creature from the green lagoon. She wears a fierce, predatory grin as she levels her gauntleted palm at Baharius. While she must admit that he is an impressive specimen for a reptilian, she has already gaged his capabilities and cannot afford to devote more resources to examining him.

One more step in my direction and I occlude your carotid artery. You'll experience dizziness instantly. In a matter of seconds, you'll have a stroke. Within minutes, you will asphyxiate. That promise applies to all of you. We've a common enemy, but that doesn't mean I have to trust any of you. Your compliance is imperative as we cannot afford to exhaust ourselves before our hunt.

Their adversary, whatever it is, has not dispatched a servitor to harry the congregation. Clarice intends to seize the initiative and set her plans in motion before the tables turn. Unfortunately, impassable terrain and a plethora of parasitic lifeforms have forced Clarice to brand Poppy and her wooden cart as liabilities at this juncture. Without a corduroy bridge (or betterments), the only viable solution to this inhospitable environment is to instruct Poppy to return to base camp bearing a message that might save Clarice from ignominious defeat down the line. The hitch is that donkeys aren't adept at retracing their steps.

Thus, Clarice backpedals to her cart, lowers her hands, hastily scrawls a note on a scrap of parchment using tools she retrieves from her backpack, cuts a very distressed Poppy free of her harness with her utility knife, slips the note beneath one of the straps she did not sever, and, with a silent command, instructs the donkey to follow the moss growing on trees.

[Mind Control - Grade: F] Clarice commands Poppy to retreat from the fens by moving in the direction that moss grows on native trees.

[-Note] Should Poppy make her way back to base camp, Clarice has included a note instructing the camp guards to ready their defenses in case the expedition is pursued when it withdraws.

-----
The next item on Clarice's agenda is tending to the surfeit of supplies left by Poppy's medical absence. Clarice motions for Scylla to grab whatever she needs from the cart before replenishing her own supplies. Clarice refills her water supply, stuffs a 24-hour supply of lantern oil into her pack, cuts off a 50-foot length of rope and suspends it from a system of metal loops and hooks attached to the side of her pack, snatches the land navigation tools and the scroll case, transfers some of her spare clothes to her inventory, affixes the two-person tent to the top of her pack, and pockets one jar of acrid-smelling insect repellent. When both she and Scylla have concluded, she removes her purse from her belt and lobs it at Kesh. She backs away from the cart, but she does not turn her back to the group.

If you need supplies, take them. They’ll benefit no one if we abandon them here to rot.

-----
Clarice does not take note of the crone's presence until she speaks.

If a deranged reporter clapped the barrel of a revolver ‘gainst Clarice’s noggin and demanded that she describe the crone’s entrance in a single word, that word would be underwhelming. Theatrical, bawdy, irreverent, spooky, repugnant, and other adjectives a sane audience might ascribe to a hag’s introduction in a classic fairytale suited this chance encounter about as well as galoshes suit orangoutangs. In point of fact, Clarice would claim that this crone’s uninspired production is all tell and no show - a bland litany of coercions that circumstance already implied. The kicker is that the crone’s offer is as revealing as a centerfold, a mouthwatering tell-all that Clarice can and will exploit in her quest to rid this world of a second-rate kingmaker. Perhaps the crone’s fancies her power so overwhelming that she need not beguile her guests. In due time, Clarice would teach her that overconfidence is an insidious killer. All in due time…

Clarice suspects that this motley group would vehemently object to the parameters and dictates of her new mission. The sociopaths among them might even assault her should she show her hand too early. By her reckoning, three of the entities she will be forced to cooperate with - the Ratkin, the Survivor, and the Newcomer - would view the hag as an invaluable resource.

The Ratkin will wish for a fortune. The Survivor will wish for the resurrection of her comrades in arms - if only so their loss is worth something. The Newcomer will make a wish, though Clarice does not have enough information to speculate on what that something might be.

The Doctor might see collaborating with the hag as an opportunity to augment his knowledge of alchemy - particularly brewing potent potions and poisons as such skills are always in high demand. However, the Doctor displayed enough good judgement in curtailing the Ratkin’s criminal tendencies that he would likely realize that this hag is as sketchy as they come. The Beastman seems like an intimidating but good-natured sort who, on account of his well-developed survival instinct, would neither trust the hag nor act against it without a good chance of succeeding on the respective front. Scylla, while sometimes flighty, should have paid enough attention in ENC 203: Pact Fundamentals to realize that contracting with hags is a very bad idea - assuming she enrolled in that course. Regardless, Clarice still trusts that Scylla ought to be able to pick up on the hag’s vibes and suss out that entreating the crone for assistance in any matter could only end in tears.

The four neighbors are unknown quantities, but they’ve earned "the favor of the swamp” (whatever that is). Without additional information, it is impossible to determine what kinds of opportunities these neighbors might furnish. Most crucially, the key to foiling the crone's schemes and emerging victorious is to commune with the swamp and court its favor directly - a cryptic trial at best but by no means impossible.

Addressing the crone is a calculated risk, but with every syllable the crone intones, Clarice gains more information on the its mental state. Although she has no intention of striking a deal with the crone, Clarice steps forward to play the part of the mercurial opportunist - nevermind that she’s mad as hell and her acting skill is about on par with a man-eating tiger pretending to be a fluffy kitten.

You approached us, Grandmother; that means we've something you're willing to pay for. And pay you shall, but not with a wish, for your wishes are as benign as a cancerous growth. A favor for a favor, perhaps. Your blessing would suffice for me, Grandmother, though we will have to hash out the specifics of such an offer in a moment as I'm quite curious about what others make of your proposal.
 
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The witch pondered a bit, pouting in thought at the sight of the ratkin and the plague doctor. They seemed to have a very interesting relationship, that was reminiscent to that of a father and child. At least to Scylla’s mind, they appeared to be fairly close. After their seeming deliberation however, the plague doctor pressed further, asking about the academy, “Yes..” she started anxiously, unsure of just how much she should say, after all, they’d just met. “..I mean.. we’re not exactly authority, we’re here conducting research..” she smiled lightly at the bit about fireballs and lightning. “..yes, of course..” she said admittedly, “..first impressions are everything after all.”

At once the rat woman next to him admitted her ‘strange core values’ out loud, perhaps it wasn’t intentional though. This rat woman, although strange had a certain charm about her, like someone whose life you would never see yourself living but at the same time envious of it all the same. She did however appear to be on some kind of trance or substance. Scylla could only wonder as she pulled on Clarices sleeve, leaning in to whisper. “What do you make of her?”
When Kesh mentioned out loud to Cayde about joining the academy Scylla interrupted.

“No, no I don’t think you w-“ then she was interrupted by Kesh’s accusing fingers. “..huh?!” She exclaimed, a bit indignant, “Yes I’m a witch so what? What’s wrong with being a witch?!” Scylla’s short fuse beginning to show.

But before she could lecture the rat woman, she was almost startled by another who appeared from out of the bushes that dotted the marshland. Flat out mentioning this hag that dwelled in the swamps. “..and who are you, ‘lady that jumps out of the bushes and nearly gives me a heart attack?’” She said sarcastically with a little smirk. “..this is weird.. “ Scylla shrugged, “it’s almost as if we’re all here on purpose, too many coincidences.” She crossed her arms, still on alert and expecting anyone of them to lash out with an attack at any moment. Certainly, the Academy mentioned the risks, but it was stated to be ‘swamp creatures’ and ‘various strange organisms’, not ratfolk and weird bush dwellers!

When Chandra inquired whether Nissa was also searching for this ‘hag of the forest’ Scylla turned to face Chandra. “Hag? It’s not polite to refer to someone by that title you know?”

As Chandra stated her disbelief about whichever direction was the way out or in she raised an eyebrow, her bewilderment betraying her as she tried to make sense of it all. “So.. the only way to explain it is if there are numerous entrances..” she stated, yet obviously not believing her own words. Yet with an air of empty wittiness, “..but that wouldn’t make sense, unless..”

Her trail of thought broken suddenly by Clarice cutting their donkey lose of their supplies. Quickly going through one of the pouches she pulled out a celebratory treat. A slice of cake. “I was hoping we would eat this once we found this fabled plant. But.. seems plans have changed..” she quickly stuffed her face as she continued to address Clarice. “Nom.. aw, I have utmost faith in you!.. nom.. Please Clarice don’t be upset with me.. nom.. you’ll see, it’ll work out.. nom.. remember when I made everyone in our class invisible.. nom.. while attempting an invisibility potion.. nom.. you said it would be a disaster but the teacher was quite impressed, although.. nom.. I didn’t pass the lab.” Shrugging innocently, with a final gulp, "I PERFECTED that potion!" Scylla glanced at the others. But before she could address anyone else, a strange apparition appeared to whisper and echo through the swamp. It was the crone of this swamp and whom attempted to entice them with an offer. Somehow, Scylla didn’t think this old crone was being very honest, and the exchange wasn’t very fair either, but maybe this crone of the swamp knew about the whereabouts of the specimen they were searching for. However, could she be trusted to keep her word? Why wouldn’t she leave them to become ‘fertilizer’ regardless if they assisted in her dirty work. Following up after Clarices remarks towards the crone she continued, “Hello!” She started awkwardly before organizing her thoughts, “..I mean, hi.. heh.. as my fellow colleague has just stated, a favor for a favor, seeing as you need us as much as we need you we’d only desire the location of a particular.. herb.. that I’m certain you’re aware of it’s location. Considering you’re a resident of this marsh. Should you accept these terms I’d do whatever I can to see your request through to completion.”

Scylla raised her eyebrows at the one introduced as Baharius, she was intrigued to hear him speak with such authority, by bidding all to quell their disbelief. Maybe he’d experience this kind astonishment in the past, maybe he didn’t like to be seen so differently. “I.. see..” Scylla started referring to Baharius. “..Well if you don’t mind my strange hat I won’t mind your reptilian appearance.” She said winking giving him a thumbs up.

Soon after the hag addressed Baharius, her eyes wide at the details of the rivals they were to pursue in order to gain this ‘wish’ or favor. Seemed they were quite formidable, but she figured if everyone present were to work together four against six the odds were in their favor. Or so she assumed it would be, how tough can a rabbit be? Right?
 
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saxon

Member
Nissa
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Nissa looked around at the group, Well this certainly is an odd bunch to say the least. She thought to herself as she glanced around at the swamp, she couldn't believe the mess she had gotten herself into. However, She was interrupted when they inquired about her name. "Oh, you can call me Lyse," She introduced herself as she wasn't about to give up her true name. Though she didn't care much for the witch or the others, she found the rat particularly annoying and sketchy. However, she might have been judging a little too much as she didn't sense the Hag as she appeared to them.

So the hag wants us to do her dirty work, huh, well, I mean, I suppose that makes sense. But, she could have used any adventures or strangers. Why would she...." She thought to herself as she snapped her fingers as the giant lizard spoke to the Hag and inquired about the creatures she wanted dead. "Oh yes, that is my reason for being here, but since she is now here, my interest might be sated," She smirked as she turned her attention to the person in question.

"Since you 'lured' us here, then you need us. However, we can't be the first you sent on this quest of yours. I would assume by that they all failed, am I right or wrong?" She inquired as she took a few steps forward, so she was away from the bushes she had arrived through. She didn't mind killing the creatures but she was going to get the most information that she could out of the Hag in front of her.

"Regardless, we are wasting time, just point us in the direction and we will deal with these creatures. Though the banshee should be easy enough to find. Providing some people don't lose the will to accomplish the task at hand," Nissa commented glancing around at the obvious Humans and the rat in the group.



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The Last Curse

21% Delirious

Once again, Cayde was baffled by Kesh's obliviousness. She had just witnessed a hulking, reptilian beastman emerge from the mud and her first move was to make a pet. He supposed that was better than her usual reaction: asking if she could rob them, offering drugs, or both, simultaneously. Instantly, he feared this would be another habit he now had to deal with. "Ha, ha! Oh, Kesh!" He turned to meet her eye-to-eye, "You've lost it." Cayde deadpanned, though the idea continued to float in his head. Although he was sure Kesh would share her 'creations' with whatever creature she cared for, it'd be an excellent way to keep her mind on her responsibilities, not drugs. Plus, it'd be pretty damn adorable."How about this: when we return to Ryken, maybe I'll get you a pet." He waggled one finger in warning, "As a pet, Kesh. Not something to sell, or a lab rat for, and I quote: 'Experiment-Research,'" Cayde said, trying to hold back a laugh from using her lingo, "Does that sound alright?"

A bag landed near his feet before he could hear her answer. Curious, Cayde looked up to see where it came from, watching Clarice dismiss a donkey to who-knew-where with a spell, and Scylla, the person he was hesitant of a few minutes ago, chow down on a piece of cake. "Quirky," Cayde muttered, contemplating asking for a slice himself. Then came Clarice's warning, which threw that idea and his hunger into the mud. He shrugged it off, "Whatever you say, Alice." Her suspicions were justified, Cayde couldn't blame her for that, but he wouldn't have painted everyone as a possible enemy, though that was likely his naivety talking. Needless to say, he already knew which of the two was his favorite.

As for Chandra's inquiry about his trip here, Cayde offered an affirmative nod. "Well, yeah. First-rate potions call for first-rate ingredients, y'know?" He explained, "Sounds insane, I know. But I assure you, every alchemist you meet's a little crazy. It's a part of the job." He chuckled, though her follow-up on the witch wiped all humor from his system. He hadn't been tricked into coming here, Cayde thought. He'd simply wandered into this swamp of his own volition. Or did he? Frankly, he wouldn't have been surprised if otherwise; terrified would've been a better word. And that's exactly how he felt when the hag finally showed herself.

The crone relayed her request, and Cayde, still shook by her sudden appearance, mustered enough strength to step between her and Kesh. The act was entirely subconscious, Cayde was still unaware of why he did it, but regardless, he had no intentions of moving. Instead, he thought of the offer and how utterly sketchy it all sounded. There had to be a trick somewhere, some unforeseeable twist that'd screw them all over at the end. It was textbook; anyone who'd read a fairy tale knew that deals with hags rarely went well.

But, maybe Chandra was right, Cayde wondered. Perhaps this old witch wasn't completely evil. Maybe he'd actually get a wish fulfilled by the end of this. Then, he wouldn't have to scour this continent for knowledge - she'd lay it before him. He didn't have much of a choice anyway, right? The crone said it herself: It was either this or death. Any good person would accept in his position, right? He hoped so. "If you've no problem with telling us, Is there any particular reason you want them gone?" Cayde asked the hag through gritted teeth, still trying to find a way to convince himself to go along with this.

Nissa's goading would do the trick somewhat. Cayde took a breath and faced the newcomer, "Oh, I'm sure we'll be fine," Cayde assured, though primarily for himself. "We've got you, two mages, a saurial, a crazy rat woman, and a lady quick with her crossbow." He addressed everyone with a nod, hoping his optimism would catch on. "We're basically unstoppable."
 
The Overgrown Marshes
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Chandra Jarmil

Kalina didn't even have to act puzzled, as she genuinely felt so, when Scylla scolded her for calling the hag a hag. “Its... what they're officially known as?” She said, almost starting to doubt herself at this point. That said, she did accept Alice's offer of taking some supplies. After all, she was supposed to have been lost in this swamp for a fair while, so it'd be very odd if she didn't eagerly resupply some rations, water and whatnot. She'd figure out what to actually do with it later. For now, she'd play the part and thank Alice. “Thank you.”

She was still highly sceptical regarding the alchemist and his pet rat, as she could only conclude one thing upon his remarks. “The lifestyle of an alchemist doesn't sound like a long and healthy one. Then again, I'm not one to talk in my current situation...” His optimism didn't catch on, at least not in the act, but Kalina was secretly struggling to suppress the urge to laugh at it, fearing it'd break character too much.


Hag
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The hag, meanwhile, stared Clarice down for a bit. “You're the one entering my home uninvited, I merely came to see you and figure out whether you're worth something to me or not. Rejecting a wish and asking for favours and blessings instead is a peculiar move, but I'll hear you and your companion out.” She then turned to Scylla, who actually asked of her what they were looking for. If the hag had a face capable of smiling, she'd be doing so now. “A herb is a small price to pay for getting rid of these pests. If what you're looking for truly grows here, you just have to name it and I'll procure it for you.”

The hag then turned to Nissa. “First, let me correct you. I didn't lure you here, the swamp itself has a way of tricking those that enter it to end up wandering until they find themselves in places such as these. To you, it might look like every other bit of swamp, but to those accustomed to the swamp, it is a crossroads where its many paths converge.”The hag didn't seem particularly bothered by Nissa's further inquires. “Most end up dying before they reach these crossroads, which means they're not even worth asking. Some are too weak, others with too few numbers. It's been long since a group of considerable individuals of this size has been gathered. Make of it what you wish.” As for the final part; “Directions are not as easy as going left or right here. However, those of you gifted with magic can follow the swamp's paths themselves.”

The latter words meant that Scylla (with magic D), if she were to focus solely on her magic affinity, would be able to pick up on something that looked like odd 'threads' hanging in the air. They didn't really have any colours, textures or anything else describable to them, but were more like an odd sensation that simply was there. They spread out in different directions, but all of them were tied up in this place. It was logical to assume that these were what had subconsciously brought this entire group into these crossroads of the swamp. Following them back out might allow them to explore the marshes without being led in circles. Clarice and Kesh (with magic E) were also able to pick up on them, although with slightly more effort and less clear results. Nissa (with magic F) would be able to sense their presence, but not enough so to reliable follow them. The rest had no clue what they were talking about.

That left the alchemist's question. “If hundreds of years with the same neighbours isn't enough to grow tired of them, you'll figure it out when you learn what type of neighbours they are.” The hag simply replied.

With everyone seeming on board with the request, the hag turned around and walked off. It didn't long for her to vanish from sight. However, once again, those with heightened hearing (Nissa, Kesh) would hear the odd sound of water droplets falling down upon her vanishing.
 

Develius

"Kaiju Enthusiast"

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His directness was rewarded with the identities of three of the four creatures in the swamp; being a "tree demon", a banshee, and a were-rabbit. Each were given unique characteristics that vaguely hinted at their abilities, such as the tree demon blending with the trees but giving a foul odor. Such a concept was alien to him, but he could roughly envision what it might look like. The were-rabbit was peculiar, but Baharius knew the concepts of both rabbits and "were-creatures". He had seen rabbits hopping and darting within the shadowy banks, but they weren't like those he'd encountered back on his home world Not only were most of these lagomorphs "sentient", but a few were also significantly larger than those found here, like those of Nuralagus rex. And while he hasn't seen a "were-creature" in the flesh, Baharius had heard stories of them during his times as a gladiator through word of mouth and tall-tales. Pictures and descriptions of "were-wolves" were most commonly referred, but he'd heard nothing about rabbits taking on these forms. As funny as that might sound, the saurian knew better than to underestimate such a foe.

Yet it was the Banshee that left Baharius completely in the dark. He hadn't heard such a creature before, only going by the Hag's description of her screaming near the interior of the swamp once nightfalls. However, it seemed that the silver haired woman ( saxon saxon ) - being fairly confident in the group's abilities - seemed to know a bit more about this creature. He trodded over to her and leaned his reptilian head towards her. "What do you know about these... banshees?" the saurian asked curiously to Nissa in a low voice, while listening to the hag answering everyone else's questions. He wasn't going to bother with figuring out what the fourth monster could be at this point.

As soon as everyone had their requests answered, the Hag would retreat back into the swampy depths as quickly as she appeared. Once completely gone, Baharius gave an acknowledging hiss and turned to face the entire group.

"Prepare yourselves," Baharius announced to the group, already reminding of his leadership skills as a general back in his world, "We have much ground to cover. Since there are 4 of us here, I propose that we split up; either in 3 groups of 2... or in 2 groups of 3. The former option will allow us to find the three known monsters simultaneously, but in limited numbers. The latter will provide better protection in numbers, however forcing us to look for two at a time and slowing the search. Nonetheless, once we finished taking care of the known three, we can group up here and face the last creature together, unless a group encounters it early."
 

Skyhunter

Entity of Change
Kesh

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For reason or another Kesh wasn't able to react for what seemed like the time when everything had unraveled, the appearance of this hag, the weak attempt of a threat from that Alice character, Scylla's possible offence from Kesh's words. This substance she was on was feeling good on her although made the world pass by a bit too much. Eventually, she snapped out of it when Cayde had looked her in her eyes, face to face about her having a pet. Kesh's eyes lit up and her smile widened into a grin. Kesh immediately hugged the plague doctor smiling as she was somewhat tight with her hug, although her strength was somewhat weak, so it wasn't too hard for Cayde to break out. " Yes, yes! Of course, Clyde! Kesh will take of pet-darling! " Kesh cooed happily as she pulled away from the plague doctor, then she looked offended by Cayde's assumption that she would experiment on her, yet to be, pet. " Hey! I wouldn't experiment-test on my darling-pet. " Kesh crossed her arms with a barely angry look, more offended than actually angry. " I'm not an animal-monster. " Kesh stated before smiling again uncrossing her arms, " So I experiment-test on myself instead. " Kesh looked over to the others around them.

Kesh's eyes moved to the old woman before them, with a strange hunch on her back and a nest on the hunch a little bird on it. " Wow. That woman has some great balance with that hunch on her back. " Kesh stated, her eyes looking around when she felt something off in the air, she could feel a taste of magic on the air of this swamp. " Hey, Clyde, I can see magics in the air. Like little streaks... But I can't tell where they're going. " Her eyes looked into the air. She reached up with a hand and took a step forward before she fell forward into the mud. Laying there for a moment as she heard droppings, Kesh got back up to her feet wiping the mud off herself, still smiling until she then looked sad. " Oh. Old woman is gone. " Kesh had a saddened voice. She then snapped out of it with a weird looking smile. " OKAY! Listen up! " Kesh pointed at the large reptile, Baharius, " Big lizard guy makes a good point! We can split up in groups of three. I think it should be Kesh, Clyde and big lizard man Balthazar in one group. Then Alisitate (Clairice), Stylish (Scylla), Larry (Nissa), that may or may not sound like a lie, and uh... that... Actually, I don't think we got a name from the weird lady over there. " Kesh stated looking at the strangest of them all, Chandra. Kesh leaned into Cayde, " Clyde... I don't trust that weird woman. She's weird. " Kesh stated a bit loudly. " But I want Balthazar with us. " Kesh looked at the large reptile and did a weird gibberish talking that sounded like squeaking.

Kesh then looked at the group. " Clyde and Balthazar and Kesh better go find that tree demon. " Kesh laughed nervously before coughing and moving slowly behind Cayde with a terrified look. The Kesh began to sniff again, her eyes darted around and then her eyes laid on Nissa, with almost a crazy look in her. " Dead... " The Ratkin stated, " There's a dead corpse-body! " Kesh then pointed at Nissa, almost in an accusing manner. " Where did you get the contract to get back up after death-sleep! " Kesh asked with a crazy look in her eyes.
 
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saxon

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Nissa
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Nissa looked to the man dressed in plague doctor garb and squinted her eyes. "I wouldn't be so quick to judge people by their looks; for all you know, I could be that Hag's apprentice told to spy on you all," Nissa pointed out as she shook her head at the mortal's hopeful outlook on the situation. To be frank, we still don't know much about the other creatures other than their appearance and signs. The banshee is relatively easy to track. We just wait for nightfall and follow the sounds," She pointed out as the Hag spoke up.

"Right, I trust that about how far I can throw a boulder," She was about to continue as the Hag then disappeared and the sound of water droplets were heard as she vanished. Hmmm, I wonder what kind of magic she can do, though I don't think I would like to find out by her attacking me. She thought to herself as she let out a sigh as her shoulders slumped down a bit, more or less ignoring what was going on at the moment around her. Or, well that was the case until the giant lizard moved towards her and leaned in. She then took a few steps back, "The banshee is an undead creature; some say it's a female spirit announcing the death of someone," She explained before bringing her hand up to her chin. "Though her wail is said to be particularly nasty, best not to get caught up in that if possible," She paused for a moment.

Nissa started to work through the information they were given as the group discussed the action plan. From the bits she was hearing, it was to split up into smaller groups to deal with the beasts.
Stupid mortals, they didn't hear what the Hag had said; always be on guard, and you want to split up into smaller groups? I don't think one of them would stand a chance against the monsters in this swamp by themselves; she thought to herself as the Rat was now talking.


"Silence, you drug-addicted rat!" Nissa snapped as sh was pulled from there thoughts as the rat when on and on. If she were back in her old life, she would have had a headache from the rat. "You speak before you think; the way you speak only furthers the point you use too many drugs for your own good. The fact that your kind is able to think probably is beyond me," She paused as she massaged her temples before turning her back to the group for a minute and walking over to the water and leaning down to look out further into the swap. Dipping her hand in the water for a moment before turning back to face the group.

"I don't think splitting up is a good idea; we don't know enough about the creatures. Hunting 101 pick off the weakest of the group. The moment we split up, it divides our strength; it was just two creatures, sure that would be fine. But we are dealing with 4, and we only know something about three of them compared to the last one. We have no information about it; for all we know, the Hag could be the last creature. Frankly, the Banshee is probably going to be the most annoying out of the creatures we know about," She concluded as she looked at the group.

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