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Fantasy ~ Ⱳƴℓɖ ~



Tende altum, volare altius
~ Ⱳƴℓɖ ~


It was beautiful in an imposing and terrible way. It was beautiful like the stripes of a tiger, or the colours that played upon a coral snake’s back. The beauty was quiet, and seemingly innocent, but Vells knew the dangers that crept underneath it. The Wyld Wood. The trees were coiled and warped, their leaves pretty shades of pink, blue, mauve, any colour but the ones they should be. From the depths of the branches, strange sounds could be heard. They were animals to be sure, but they called like no animal anyone from Krowne had ever known. Occasionally something would move, catch an eye, but it vanished immediately, leaving the watcher wondering if there had been anything there at all.

The beach at least was safe. The sand was black, but that wasn’t strange, the soft grains gave way as the first of the boat crew pulled their supplies ashore and began setting up camp where it was dry. This island had been home to a thriving people not five years back. Even now, they had docked at what had once been a port, and the evidence of stonework and the ruins of wood houses and piers lay half buried around them. It was a large island, with a mountain range rising in the distance above the tangled wood like plates on a dragon’s back. Vells imagined the island was a dragon, sleeping deeply and unaware of their presence…but she could sense it. The Wood knew.

There was a lot to explore. The townsfolk, when they had lived here, were always battling the Wyld Wood. There were ruins nestled deep within the forest, never reached, for the Wood always resisted trespassers with magic. Vells had been recruited with Thorn because the pair of them were the most skilled mages the academy had to offer. If anyone could find a way to travel the Wyld Wood safely, it was them. Vells did not share the confidence of the council. She rather thought she would be relying more on the team they had selected to accompany them. She had read their profiles. Skilled and unique each of them, but they had not worked together before. Vells played with the idea of running them through drills to practice Weaving. If they had the time.

A small crab scuttled between her boots, the shell covering its back bearing bright, glittering crystals. The Wyld magic even corrupted the sea life here. Marvelous. Perhaps the beach wasn’t so safe after all…

Stay on your toes.” She warned her team. “No one goes into the tree line without permission. Get your kit, set up your tents. We will set off at first light.

Further out at sea their ship was moored and waiting, its blue sails bearing the now folded gold emblem of Krowne. It had borne them from the capital all the way East to the very center of the archipelago, to this remote place, where Wyld magic ran free.

Secretly, Vells was glad that this was not the island where she had lost…She could not think of Vanya now. Her stomach turned and something wrenched horribly inside her. For one small moment she was caught in the horror, reliving the sight of Vanya’s form melting away…the look of betrayal. She could not think of Vanya now. Vells bit her lip hard enough to draw blood and the pain and sharp taste of iron brought her back. She licked her lip and turned. “Those of you with more experience setting up camp, help the others.

With that she took her things further up the beach, and began unfolding her own tent. The soft, rich red fabric spilled out onto the sand as if the beach itself bled. Vells frowned at the gaudy tassels that decorated the temporary abode of the “expedition leader”. Hers would also serve as the planning tent and map room. Thank the magic she had a smaller, cotton one stashed away for their journey into the wood. Setting up the red velvet monstrosity would be easier with magic, but this close to the Wyld Wood, she dared not risk it, not alone. The magic was never stable when one mage cast, and she felt that somehow the effect would be stronger here. Vells began pulling the supports into place by her own strength, drawing the fabric over the frame awkwardly…it had been a long time since she had needed to set up a tent…

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Hawthorn stepped onto the beach, eager to begin their journey. Black sand shifted beneath her feet to embrace the soles of her boots. The colours of the island were nothing like her home city of Krowne; everything was so... alive. The drawings in all of her books could not compare to the eerie beauty of the Wyld Wood ahead of them. So much knowledge, almost in her grasp. If she could just-

"No one goes into the treeline without permission. Get your kit, set up your tents. We will set off at first light."

With a huff at requiring "permission" and being told what to do, Hawthorn retrieved her things from the boat and went to set up camp. The Dean of Weather set up the bones of the tent fairly easily, having read enough about tent-building to fill a small library shelf; she would absolutely not embarrass herself and give Vells free ammunition against her.

But what she did not account for was exactly how unstable magic would be in such close proximity to the Wyld Wood. When she channeled her will into the air around her tent, the fabric rose and stretched as expected... until it wouldn't stop. "No, no, no..." Hawthorn scrambled to hold the thrashing magic, to secure it, before her tent would inevitably stretch so far it would tear itself to pieces.
Mitsunari Seikatsu
How long had it been since he'd last spent this stretch of time around so many bodies? The expedition had long been a goal of Mitsunari's and although he company was not what he would have organized, he was grateful for the chance to be counted among them. Plus they were not all strangers. He knew Avanok from his institute days and was familiar with Hawthorn. Well with her magic at any rate. But this long voyage was not for the reunion, but for the knowledge he might gleam from the Wyldwood. As their boat made landfall his eyes were fixed upon the uniquely colored trees that were a stark contrast against the black sand of the beach. It was beautiful and very clearly subject to an overexposure of magic. But analysis would come later.

With every step he took his geta sunk into the sand until he was forced to step out of them and feel the small grains between his red toenails. The ornate, black kimono that he wore carved a shallow trail behind the kitsune to where he had dropped his supplies. "The first steps to uncovering the truth...and more." Mitsunari whispered to himself. His thin fingers shut the fan he had been waving himself with and then he heard someone in near distress. His yellow gaze swept across the foreign beach to see a tent that had been rent in two. "Ha." He managed to stifle his laughter into a chuckle, but his three black tails danced about behind him in amusement as he watched Hawthorn's shelter cease to exist.

"If anyone knows how to put together a tent without the use of magic, I would greatly appreciate the assistance." Mitsunari announced before he turned to look around their landing site at his companions. Val and Cora should be among this group, they should be the only ones present, and Val should be putting the tent together. But then their absence and the pain that accompanied it became his strength, the drive pushing him to be present in this moment.
Barely off the skiff that brought the party to the shore, Isa Sheerye stood seemingly transfixed by the colorful foliage further inland. Her leporid ears stood straight up, twitching slightly to small sounds that filtered out of the Wyld Wood. She had only put both her feet on the land when she had felt the Wyld Seed insider her react. Isa couldn't properly describe what had happened, but it was like a...pulse came up through her feet and now the seed was altering its own rhythm to match. Lost in this sensation, she just stared at the Wyld Wood, wonder if this was a good idea.
Perched on the nose of the boat, Skedar glanced up at his master then slumped his posture ever so slightly. There was a moment of coiling muscles before the squirrel leapt to catch on Isa's clothing and begin his climb up. When he reached her should, he took a moment to look as his master's face. Still staring. With eyes narrowing to slits, Skedar reached out with his good fore paw to pat Isa's face to no reaction. Another slumping motion from Skedar before carefully proceeding up the fluffy white hair to gnaw on Isa's ear.
"Ow!" Isa cried before regaining her composure.
Rubbing her ear, the Wyld Mage shot her familiar a dirty look as she gathered up her stuff. The head of this little scout troop, Vells, was giving directions to the party. A playful smile spread over Isa's face as one of her fellow mages, Hawthorn is she remembered right, was having a little problem with her tent. This was followed by a kitsune mage asking for aid with their tent.
"Have none of you been camping?" Isa said with a laugh. "Just hold on, buttercups. I'll give you a hand when I've set up mine."
With practiced ease, Isa pitched her tent, deciding until she was sure what affect the Wyldwood would have on her, she was better off staying on the farther side from it. With Skedar's help, she quickly had the task done. This seemed a reasonable skill for the simple druidic mage she was pretending to be.
Lata Ramos
Even this beach was tainted by the insatiable urge to devour.

Lata was certain the land was alive. Each crystalised grain that shifted under her step seemed to ache with this impossible vitality. A state of existence only studied in conscious beings; a sharp sentience that thrummed with each stride. She was unable to disregard the guilt of intruding onto foreign land, she instinctively attempted to be light footed. Unfortunately this only allowed the sediment to adapt its strategies into more aggressive sinking of her toes. It was difficult to disregard the thought that if she remained motionless, then the ground would end up consuming her entirely.

Vells’ instructions were clear yet obvious; to dare go into the Wyld without strategy would just be plain stupid. She could not see anyone exhibiting that preeminence, except maybe Isa- there was a strange aura that hung over that Viera that seemed to obscure Lata’s usually balanced judgement. That ungodly, frankenstein-squirrel was quite peculiar too, his being went against all things natural… Her stomach dropped with embarrassment, she could not judge without being hypocritical.

Her encounter with the forest gnomes did offer experience with tent construction. Her tent was not as grand in height as the others, of course the inhabitant was not the largest creature. The weather-proof fabric was stained a slate grey colour, it blended into the sand quite well and it may act in the future as camouflage. The poles weren’t haphazardly shoved in place, rather they slid quite nicely together and the beams stood strong but not rigid- allowing for some giving. It would be rather selfish if she did not aid the others, considering setting up was a breezy accomplishment for her. She placed her little satchel of prized goods under her still-rolled sleeping bag and arranged her bedding accordingly.

Mitsunari’s subtle plea for aid would make for a reason to converse and get to know him better. The Kitsune was mysterious, the pain in his eyes was obvious, too; he was unable to mask such raw emotion and it made her sad too. Lata knew there was more to discover about him and why did he have such sad eyes. Her inability to control her curiosity may deter him from sharing; so she approached him with incognito reason.
“As you may notice,” Lata’s voice was surprisingly well-rounded, “I have completed my tent already. I know it’s small but I guess the principle will remain the same for a larger sized one! If you don’t mind giving me a hand with the poles, I sure will help–”

Her tail stood upright in surprise, the crash of Miss Hawthorn’s magic created a startling reaction that stood her fur on end. However, seeing the Dean of Weather struggle to tame the tent’s rolls was hilarious, it subsided the waves of shock into a more laughable reaction. Lata wholeheartedly focused on not giggling. “Sorry Mitsunari, if you don’t mind…” She dropped down on her all fours and pelted across to the scene of disaster; the awareness of the sand forgotten.

Her eyes glistened with suppressed delight but she dared stand too close. The risk of being knocked out by the uncontrollable thrashing would cause grievous damage. She stood back up, patting the black sand from the pads of her hands. She could not miss the opportunity to revel in Hawthorn’s misfortune. Her heart sank and her confidence diminished when she turned her attention to the Wyld Wood in behind them. The Dean was usually extremely competent with controlling her magic, they all were... This bewildering strength was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before…
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Despite everything it represented, everything it entailed, Thys had never had a problem with the Wyld Wood's actual appearance. It was just another variation of tree next to pine, oak and spruce as far as he was concerned. Even the animals were simply just beings that thrived in different habitats than those he knew. He kicked the sand around his feet, black powder scattering across the beachfront as he observed the group putting up tents without magic, and stifled a laugh. He shouldn't, but seeing mages humbled in this way was a unique experience to be savoured. Thys had finished his own tent already, quietly grateful at the assistance of a man in town in explaining the differences in pitching on sand versus dirt. He'd done plenty of camping in his days, but never on sand.

“Those of you with more experience setting up camp, help the others.”

Gods, Vells looked old. Older than him, and that was saying something. He'd tried already to catch up with her on the ship, but she seemed so focused on the task at hand he'd decided not to bother her. And her tent reflected her position of superiority above him and their team. Thys quietly thought it looked tacky, but didn't see any value in sharing that fact, at least not until he could confirm she was a friend. Still, she was pulling it up capably, for the most part. He threw her, Hawthorn and Mitsunari 2 canvas bags each, that he'd recently emptied of some of the supplies they had brought with them. "Tie your ropes into those and fill them with sand," He started, gesturing to the bag. "Then bury them. It's more secure than a single peg on this...stuff,"

Even as the others continued setting up their tents, Thys was setting up a rudimentary desk and storage, pouring over the infromation readily available on the island, each bearing the golden emblem of the captial in their corner. He frowned, and flipped the paper so he couldn't see it. Officaily his role in this expedition was "Wyld magic Consultant" but that would likely become "Wyld Wood Ambassador" within the week. And the research helped to focus his mind away from the incredibly loud emotions of his peers. He wasn't sure if it was Wyld Wood proximity causing it, but everything seemed more...sensitive. But manageable for now at least. Hawthorn's frustration was practically a burning beacon at this point, and Vells was dwelling on some kind of terror that he couldn't place given her outward persona.
Hew Thalassan

This pole, then that, and... that one along the top? No... This one.

It seemed almost bizarre. Hew squatted by the plot of land reserved for his tent, painstakingly arranging the tent poles on the ground. He thought it wise to do so before setting up the tent so he made no mistakes. Indeed, he was acclimated to city life; it spoiled him, dulled his edges. However, once he was certain each pole was the correct one, the tent was up in no time. His hands worked with a precision befitting a surgeon... or a necromancer. In minutes, pegs were anchoring the newly-set-up, gloomy gray tent into the sand.

Hew could hear the sound of expedition members asking for help setting up their tents, but he wasn't exactly keen on volunteering, so he tuned them out as he checked his own work. That may be detrimental, as he had every chance to fill a few pouches of his own with sand to better anchor down the tent. Of course, the next scene to interrupt his peace made him turn his head in mute horror. That old snob Hawthorn was on the verge of... ripping her own tent while attempting to set it up with magic? Hew clasped his hand over his mouth. Beneath it, he grinned. This had to be karma catching up with her for all the years of condescension and boasting about her magical aptitude.

Once he subdued the urge to giggle, the necromancer turned to his colleague, the giant reaper owl... Avanok. "Slim pickings here on the beach," he remarked, unpacking parts of the standing perch. The metal shaft segments locked tightly together and into the weighted base, and the wooden perch proper on top. "Where do you want it?"

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If there was one thing common among the Symyans, it was an unquenchable need to satiate an innate curiosity. A trio of younglings led by an older juvenile among them, had departed some hours ago from their village with a desire to explore the boundaries of their home. Although Laxi had promised to return by supper, she had in fact kept exploring with her two siblings. Far above the ground as they were, they had been mostly out of trouble.

Mostly. They did anger the Halfling farmer - Tom is his name - that resided deeper in the woods by picking through his stash of fruits that he had been laboring over. By the time he had figured out their presence and shouted angrily, the would-be thieves had already made for the canopies and moved on. Giggling like little demons, they continued to explore in flagrant disregard of everything they had been told. 'Stay close to our borders.' Elder Mixi had once said, 'The outside is dangerous for naughty little youngsters.'

Laxi was old enough to question this, seeing them as tales to scare them, but Bayi and Tayu both remained apprehensive at going further. "W-we should get back. Mother will be furious if she finds out-" Tayu said, the youngest of the three. She differed to her black and gold furred sister by herself being a pale white, and Bayi being completely shaded like the night.

"Only if she finds out." Laxi responded with a grin, taking a moment to stop on a branch. "You won't tell her, right?"

Both of her juniors shook their heads, but the middle child then spoke up as he hung with his tail from a branch above his eldest sister. "Where *are* we going, actually?" Bayi asked, "Are you sure we're not lost?"

"Of course we're not lost! I... know the direction generally."

Bayi looked wholly unconvinced as his gaze trailed off, only to spot something in the distance. He whipped himself up and jumped a few branches away, surprising both his sisters as they joined him after. He looked deathly serious and remained still faced like a rock as his gaze remained fixed on the nearby shoreline. Following his eyes, Laxi and Tayu then found themselves also staring at the coastline from their shared perch.

Outsiders. *The naked apes*. Just as the Protector had described them in his bonfire stories.

"What do we do?" Tayu asked nervously.

Laxi remained quiet, and was indecisive in the moment. Were these bad things? She didn't know. But she did know that the villages needed to know. She turned to Bayi: "You're faster than both of us. Get back and tell everyone."

Bayi blinked but then shook his head. "I won't leave you both alone here." he whispered back in protest. But the glare he received from his older sister indicated that it was more so a command than anything. Hesitantly, he withdrew and jumped from branch to branch; rushing with great speed to get home.

Laxi and Tayu, in the meantime, observed in the cover of the canopy. Waiting to see what these things would do on the coast.

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Vells let herself be distracted for a moment watching her team: Thys seemed practical, and willing to teach. That was good. She didn't know that much about him now. They had been at the school one year apart. Vells remembered when he had lost his magic, been pardoned from the academy. Exiled more like. He had been approachable, friendly, easy to trust. She was glad he had held onto that.
The Kitsune was gifted, in magic at least. In attitude? Well, perhaps he simply needed someone to try. There was something in his eyes she recognized all too well. Vells made a mental note to ask him about it when they sat down for a meal.

Vells liked Isa nearly right away. Her laughing eyes and positive energy brought a sense of levity to their looming task, and she had worked with enough necromancers to be comfortable with her strange, reanimated squirrel. Speaking of necromancers, the pair on the expedition seemed to already be working together. Good. Necromancers and blood mages had few enough friends at the academy, it was good to see them helping each other.

The sound brought Vell's attention in Hawthorn's direction. The snap of fabric as it flailed with a flooded spell. Shit.
Vells dashed over, matching pace with their smallest member, the curious little experiment, embodied in a skunk-like creature.
"I'll take your help if you don't mind." She told Lata politely. Vells opened a channel to accept Lata's magic, letting the young student in to weave with her.

Vells reached Hawthorn's side, planting her boots in the sand and throwing her own will around the thrashing magic, waiting for the dean's acceptance. One could never force a weave, but if Hawthorn didn't accept the help, the tent was doomed to be scrap.
"Does this count as "using your fucking brain"?" Vells threw Thorn's words from the academy back at her. "We're not in Krowne dammit, you need to use your team."

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"Does this count as "using your fucking bain"?" Vells threw Thorn's words from the academy back at her. "We're not in Krowne dammit, you need to use your team."
Hawthorn grimaced, even as she focused her hold on the chaos before her. She would never hear the end of this. "Thanks, Muir, I really hadn't noticed."

She felt the soft urgency of feathers tickle the back of her mind. She instinctively closed up, throwing up a wall of ice, but reminded herself of her decades of training; she inhaled sharply, and slowly let out the air in her lungs. Gradually, she opened up to Vells. With another deep, slow breath, Hawthorn could smell the calming scent of her own office... No, it was her notebooks... No, it was the feather of her quill, just as the afternoon sun coloured her skin through the stained glass window.

In the experience of Vells' echo, Hawthorn felt... calm.

It was this sense of comfort that encouraged the highborn mage to open up a third channel, this one open to Lata, on her other side.
Thus far, to Laxi and Tayu's observations, the outsiders had appeared to not do much thus far. It seemed that they had just arrived from the wooden sea-thing in the near distance off the shoreline, and were placing some things up. Houses? It seemed that was to Laxi as she whispered to her sister: "...I think they're going to sleep on the sands." she said softly, though kept her gazed fixed on the figures there. Tayu looked a bit concerned still, but otherwise remained quiet until she spotted the difficulty that one faced in setting their temporary shelter up. The youngest sibling couldn't help but let out a stifled giggle, covering her mouth as to stay silent.

"They're so clumsy." Tayu whispered back.

But the comment only drew an annoyed glare from Laxi, indicated her displeasure to the carelessness of her sister's attitude. "They're outsiders. They could be dangerous." the eldest almost hissed, to chastise her junior's mindset. "Treat them as such."

Tayu gave a nod, though was somewhat upset, before returning her gaze to the shore to watch in silence.
Isa finished putting up her tent, admittedly more of a lean-to then others, but she was use to it. Skedar hopped up and down on the canvas, testing it's strength. The structure held, much to Isa's delight. Would have been embarrassing to have her own tent collapse after offering to help others. She rested a hand on the tent to allow Skedar to scamper to her shoulder as she looked around at the tents going up. Things seemed to be alright when she caught Vells' barbed words for Hawthorn.
"Oh shit, drama." The Wyld Mage muttered.
She felt her familiar tap her shoulder twice with the flat of his prosthetic claws.
"No, we can't just leave 'em behind." Isa whispered back. "That's rude and we still need 'em."
Squaring her shoulders, Isa turned her attention to people who needed help who weren't involved in drama. Ah yes, Mitsunari.
"Still need a hand, fancy pants?" She said as she closed on the Kitsune with a friendly smile on her face. "It might-wait...looks like you had..."
Isa snapped her fingers and turned to catch sight of Lata.
"Oy! Strips!" She called out. "You still helpin' Mitsunari here, or should I?"
As his master busied herself with aiding the other giants, Skedar looked up to the treetops. Something had caught his eye, but he couldn't see what it was. Something with more brains might have brushed this off as a just a branch in the wind, but Skedar was not distracted by such thinking. His watchful cloudy eyes scanned for dangers.

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Mitsunari Seikatsu


It was certainty a surprise that the smallest of their party would be the first to come to his aid. The little creature was one he knew very little of, but all the same he offered her a hallow smile. “Thank you…” before he could properly express his gratitude the little critter scurried off. He could t blame her though, agitated Magic needed to be out in check and he doubted Hawthorn could manage such a thing. Nonetheless the little skunk had gotten him on the right path and by watching some of the others he managed to assemble the frame of his shelter.

Then, just as he was inspecting the stakes, a voice called out instructions for the bags that had just landed nearby. His yellow eyes bounced from the bags to Thys. “A brilliant assessment.” He commended Thys for his quick thinking and quickly set to the task of filling his bags. It was tedious work, but while the others worked to stabilize the magic, Mitsunari noticed the arrival of an unfamiliar scent. It was faint, but he could smell someone new was close by. A creature of some sort from the smell of them. He briefly looked to the tree line and his eyes ran the length of it searching for any obvious figures, but he didn’t see anything.

Once he was done with his bags, he threw his canvas tarp over the frame, as he assumed it was meant to be done, and then started to secure it to the bags of sand. By the time Isa made her approach he’d managed to complete the humble shelter. “I believe I have it.” The kitsune swiftly replied. What this group lacked in talent and common sense they sure made up for with their survivalist skills. Not one but three people had offered their assistance and Mitsunari couldn’t help but to equate them with being the group’s less magically inclined. The opposite of Hawthorn who was magic reliant it seemed.

The fox found himself glancing back over at the tree line, unable to shake his suspicions.

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Lata Ramos;
Lata’s consciousness, however revolutionary, was chaotic. She exhibited this inability to channel her focus onto a singular task, her mind required constant stimulation. Such a trait would be considered an unrestrained childlike attribute and it could not be overridden. The distraction caused by Hawthorn’s magically flailing tent was just too irresistible not to hurry over; any consequence from abandoning Mitsunari did not come to mind. But how she was so mesmerised by the disruption that she was oblivious to Isa’s calling, too. And as she scurried away, Lata’s concentration retracted in formation, like the sand under her pads but it wavered under the weight of over-eagerness instead.

Lata dared to speak out of turn but Vells was correct; it was evident that a team was needed to accomplish even the simplest of spells- this was unforgiving territory.

An almost silent agreement was made when Lata readily welcomed the privileged invitation to weave with the blood mage and Hawthorn.

To channel just the right amount of energy was a masterful skill; too much could overthrow the complex balance of the magic. So, Lata gently slipped into the weave, the ounce of nature she allowed to intertwine was minimal albeit effective. As soon as she embraced the channel, she encountered an unexpected coldness. Broken fragments of ice sunk their sharp edges into Lata’s existence, it was almost too overbearing. Focus, now.

And matching this unwavering hostility required utmost absorption. Such a small body of pinpointed pressure released until, finally, the smoky steam of her own echo beveled the dagger-tips slightly. They seemed to melt enough for her to pry herself free from their grasp. Without the security of the ice she felt lonely, exposed and she strangely begged for the cold again until the stillness’ moment’s ended transiently. Triggered now, was a much more trusting notion; like follicles of feathers that tickled her head when she rested on a goose-down pillow… The reminiscence of sleepiness let Lata lighten her clasp on the weave, easing out of it like a cosy dream…

She was aware that the addition of her echo could have faltered that weave, so in taking a step back, she permitted the pair of mages to tie the knot of completion on their own. Despite only guiding it, Lata knew she helped steady the pair in controlling any further catastrophe to the tent’s fabric.
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Vells felt Thorn's will give room. She felt the chill of ice, like breath caught on a cold winter's day. It was bristling and guarded, but Vells was a talented weaver. Her magic wrapped around Hawthorn's, steadying their wills against on another. She felt the timid yet skilled magic of a third, the young mage beside her. The scent of pipeweed drifted about her, warm and crackling and thick. With all three mages, the tent grew docile and folded itself over the frame, obedient as a loyal pet.

Vells felt the magic recede, and released her control on it. The spell was complete. She sighed, and shot an angry glare at Hawthorn.
"You're supposed to be the example." She told the woman harshly. "Act like it."
Normally Vells would have laughed the awkwardness away, but they were in too much danger here, and some of their teammates were barely older than children, in her eyes at least. She turned to the young skunk with an approving nod.
"You're a good weaver, Lata was it? Well done."

Isa and Mitsunari, both had turned their heads to something in the tree line. That was the first clue to her that they were not alone. Then Vells saw it.
"We have company!" She cried.
Disregarding her own advice in a flash, Vells drew a dagger and cut her palm.
Blood poured from the wound and the magic flowed. Vells' will wrapped around it quickly, forming the stream into a long, thin rope.
It shot forward lightning quick, made to coil itself around the leg of the nearest shadow in the tree, drag the creature back to them and hoist it up like a rabbit in a snare. Vells would be waiting, sword drawn.

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The situation shifted so quickly that Laxi barely had time to reach, seeing a strange of blood shoot out towards her sister. Out of pure instinct, she shoved her sibling out of the way - who herself landed on a branch below with a thud and a yelp - while the spell wrapped around Laxi's leg. With wide eyed terror, she felt a great force pull her out of the tree as she let out a screech of fear. Being pulled away from their perch, Laxi hit the ground below without any grace or anything to break it and in turn felt her free leg be sprained from having landed awkwardly.

Reflexively she gripped onto her leg for a moment before realizing she was being dragged towards these outsiders as she tried in vain to grip onto the ground. But these things were simply too strong for her. As she was pulled out of the underbrush and onto the beach itself, she now found herself frozen with fear as she was left hanging upside down at entirely at the mercy of Vells. Her eyes darted between every figure nearby, and she shook vigorously in a state of panic. She could only think whether or not she was going to be eaten raw or put over a fire first.

But what snapped her out of this state was the knowledge that her younger sister was still there, as a few small seeds pelted the sands nearby. "GET AWAY FROM HER!" the youngest Symyan shouted, trying desperately to drive them back with what amounted to pebbles being thrown against a cliff face.

"P-please d-don't hurt us! Don't hurt her!" Laxi then said, dangling still from her leg due to Vells' blood snare as she pleaded for both their lives.

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Hawthorn went red in the face at being scolded by the veteran, rage swelling in her chest. She was about to bite back when Vells promptly took a blade to her palm and cast a spell. The weather mage threw up her own hands and stormed off towards her tent, leaving the rest to deal with the now hanging monkey. "Be an example," she muttered to herself, fuming.

She wrinkled her nose, still able to taste the faint bitterness of smokeleaf on her tongue. She admitted, albeit to herself, that the skunk kid was a decent weaver. Perhaps Thys might be able and willing to help her be less timid in her echo.
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Whatever challenges the group were facing with their tents, Thys was quietly content to let them figure it out without him after his small assistance. It wasn't for a lack of caring, but a quick lesson in not relying on magic here would do some of their number some good, as would some general survival skills. Plus, Hawthorn seemed to have managed to get the tent up, so all was well, and the only punishment was a small berating from Vells. Par for the course really. What got his attention more was the shout of their commander.

"We have company!"

Thys flicked the catches on his bracer free, a small mechanical "tink" revealing two crossbow arms and a bolt. The machanism flicked out into his hand, fingers grasping a familiar worn grip. He brought his other hand low by his side and twisting it into swift and precise shapes. The tips of his finger's glowed with a deep orange light, and his irises faded into pools of gold. Thankfully the emotions of his compatriots he could pick up before hadn't increased in intensity, but he still felt them all the more present. Ambient desires and thoughts drifting aimlessly around him like water. He just had to focus on the ones he cared for.

Flanking around Vells left for an additional angle, he gave her a quick nod to let her know he had her back should she want to move up. Her blade was out and a thin red rope extended from her arm to her makeshift snare. It was a monkey, in the sense of a monkey had decided it was bored of being a monkey and wanted to be something else. But the appearance was close enough. He watched as another of their company threw seeds in their general direction, the tiny projectiles falling short of their intended targets. Thys reached out experimentally with his magic, but got nothing but fear from the animals. Fair. He lowered his crossbow in his hand, calling to Vells.

"I don't think they're a threat," He called out. "If they were I don't think we'd have the luxury of this conversation,"
Lata Ramos.
The open window for introduction was slammed shut with a startling, unexpected force. It all happened too quickly for her to fully comprehend; the emotive weave had left as a distant dream would. This crimson that slipped out of Vells wound was tainted with magic, of course, but the way it snared the captive creature…. It writhed with this grotesque independence; how it roped around their ankle and threw them closer for investigation was unorthodox and unholy...

The vehement pleas of mercy from this strange ape were deafening. Lata’s heart swelled with sympathy and the fact that this could be a distraction was outweighed. Unfortunately, she could not determine whether Vells’ distrusting judgement would waver from its innocence, the blood mage’s eyes seemed to glow with startling dissent. It was also sorrowful to witness the other monkey throw its ineffective pebbles; the onslaught was pitiful and quite depressing. Poor thing. I really do hope Vells spares this creature...
Still, however sad it was, Lata would also be useless in combat if one was to occur. She had left her offensive gear in her tent and with the almighty, intimidating presence of Thys concluded that her role in this situation was complete.

There would be no harm in watching though, Lata had little experience with interrogation so this moment would be another keen opportunity to learn.

Vells was more than a little surprised at what was dragged from the tree line: a strange, upright creature that looked like a monkey. Then another darted from the trees after the other, pelting them with seeds all the while.
Vells studied the youngest in earnest, looking at the rounded face and fearful eyes.

"Hells, they're children."

Thys' voice sounded beside her and she grimaced. "They might not be, but their parents will be."

Very slowly, Vells willed her spell to lower its target to the sand and uncoil itself from the ankle it bound.
"Do not run. It will end badly for you, and I advise you not to lie." Vells said carefully. "Are you alone?"

The snare may have been released, but Vells' sword was still drawn, and the crossbow in Thys' hands was still armed. If she thought her team might be in danger, she wouldn't hesitate to act.
"What were you doing spying on us?"

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Hew Thalassan

It all happened so quickly. One moment, some actual cooperation weaving stabilized Hawthorn's spell, much to the hostile dean's chagrin. The next, they were having a standoff with two sapient juvenile apes. 'Hm, that was a phrase I never thought would pass through my head,' Hew thought of the latter. He couldn't have been lost in thought long, however; though the institute mages had the clear advantage, it was still getting out of hand, in his eyes.

"Wait a minute," Hew interjected at the questioning, his weapons still sheathed. "I think it's clear why they were watching us. No one from the outside world comes here if it can be avoided, and judging by their timing, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The better question is, 'What will they do now that they know we're here?'" He never thought he'd speak for some random Wyld creatures, but he supposed being of the reviled sort gave him a much more open mind.

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Avanok the Necromonger
This place was off. Avanok had spent his life in the woods. He knew what it was like to live in the wild and he knew how the wild felt. This was not it. It wasn't evil, just unstable. Far different from any other wood he had found himself in. The beach seeming more calm than other places. It was a fine place to rest, but he did find himself a big concerned. Despite having been awoken, he found that his natural instincts were still intact. This place was more alive than he was.

As everyone began to set up, Avanok was more preoccupied with taking it all in. Keeping his eyes set on the edge of the forest, every fiber of his body, every bristle of his feathers told him that this was not a place to let your guard down. Magic ran wild here. It was not a place to get lazy. This was partially why it was a good thing that he brought his perch instead of a tent. Having been wild, he wasn't much for being contained in a room. Especially one that was too small for him to move. With his portable perch, he would have a much easier time. It also allowed him to play sentry for the rest of the group. Aside from Lata, he was pretty sure the rest of them couldn't cut it in the wild. They just didn't have the tools to do so. At least that was his logic. You need a lot more than magic to survive. Despite that, he was thankful for his compatriots on this mission. Specifically Hew, the fellow necromancer that was helping him set up his perch. Following the same track was a pretty good basis for a friendship, so Avanok was more than happy to keep them close.

In an instant, the peaceful setup had faded to chaos upon the arrival of two adolescent apes. Both of which seemed to be sapient. There was a bit of concern among the group, which was to be expected. The children are easy to handle, but the parents might not be.

Hew was asking the correct question, but he had the wrong answer. Avanok turned his head almost completely around, his blank and hollow eyes landing on the two apes. Finally his body turned to correct stance, allowing him to take his first few steps towards the young apes. His massive talons digging into the sand as he moves. Predatory birds were scary to even the bravest of animals. On top of being perfectly evolved to kill, flight made them nearly impossible to fight off. As such, most animals feared him on sight. He clicked his beak, slowly circling the two children "Might not be a good idea to wait for answers." He raised one taloned foot, showing off the impressive, blade like claws on his feet "I vote to kill them. Necromancy would make getting information all to easy. Plus, I'm a bit peckish." He lowered himself a little behind them, like a hunter that has spies his next meal.

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Laxi, now on the ground after being released, was sitting with a fearful gaze lookup at towards the towering figures above her. Tayu continued to pepper the area with small seeds and pinecones nearby, mainly missing her targets, but that was not of concern to Laxi at the moment. "I... it's m-me and m-my sister here." she said, stumbling over her own words as her gaze darted between these people. A half-truth, given that her brother had been with them and was now rushing back to their people. "W-we were j-just exp-ploring. W-we see you on the b-beach, a-and..." Laxi then said, trying her best to be brave for herself and her younger sibling nearby. But her shaky voice betrayed her emotions. "C-curious. W-we were just c-curious."

By now, her legs were trembling from fear but also the dull pain that throbbed from her limb being sprained on the fall down. And this only grew more intense when Avanok made his opinion known, as she couldn't help but cry. "P-please! We w-won't leave the village again! P-please don't eat us!" she said, shirking down and panicking.

A small fruit nut tapped against Avanok's wings, and one against Vells' shoulderpad as Tayu tried in vain to drive the outsiders away from her sister.

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The weather mage heard the ape's pitiful pleas and rejoined the group by Vells. The creature in the trees was still chucking small projectiles at their group; one such object pelted the blood mage's shoulder, bouncing and hitting Hawthorn in the arm. Hawthorn flicked her wrist in annoyance, sending out a flair of air magic, and immediately regretted it.

Every seed, stone, and nut thrown rose from where it landed... along with a thin layer of black sand. It was too late to stop it; Hawthorn watched in disappointed acceptance as a wall of sand pelted everything - and everyone - in front of her, all the way past the treeline.

"...Fuck me."

Hawthorn sighed heavily and approached Laxi, the young, talking ape. She stood above it, eyes narrowed. "Muir, you hurt its leg." Hawthorn looked over her shoulder at the blood mage, eyebrow raised, and opened up an icy channel for her to weave with, if she so chose.
Questions and answers were lauched back and forth form either side before Thys could draw his own opinion. It was a little surprising how much the mages thought 2 children were a threat to the operation. Still the general panic of their group didn't exactly settle him, culminating in the eruption of sand behind them from, presumably, Hawthorn. The wave of black powder erupted over them and the little spies, like a heavy wave. As his vision returned, Thys brushed the sand as best he could from his coat, glancing at Hawthorn as he did so. He lowered the crossbow, the limbs folding back neatly.

"They're children my friends," He restated, pushing his way forward as peacefully as he could muster. "Not threats. And certainly..." He gestured to Avanok with his hand for him to move back a little. "Not snacks," He knelt down in front of the creature, taking care to give Hawthorn whatever room she needed to weave. He frowned. She was incredibly eager and reliable on her magic, something that might prove troublesome in the woods. As for this new creature, it was definitley simian in nature. Juvenille as well. Thys had heard tales of intelligent beasts in the Wyld Wood, though admittedly never seen one firsthand. "but perhaps they can be of some help,"

"It's alright little one, he won't eat you. But we do require some help from you in return for your freedom. We're hoping to make an excursion into the forest soon, and could use help, especially if permission is required to pass through your village's territory. If you were able to tell your Elders of our intentions, perhaps everything works out better for everyone, wouldn't you agree?"

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