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Party 1

jfish

Junior Member
Conflicting feelings clash against each other in Ina's chest; even though she had suggested it she felt uneasy about leaving Moire and Hircus. It had barely been a day - one filled with confusion, pain and fear, at that - but Ina felt fiercely protective over them already.

And she was finding herself feeling similarly protective over their newest friend, too. She'd already disregarded the idea of Syvis conveniently filling a Tegan-shaped hole in their lives - the two couldn't be more different; Syvis' discomfort since entering the village was...well. Who could blame her after that macabre display at the gates? She shudders a little.

Ina surreptiously glances at the other elf, smiling as Syvis talks to the bird - Otrev. She steps a bit closer to Syvis as they pass more people, offering a guiding arm if needed, relieved when they finally approach the tavern. A guilty look upwards and a returned smile to Danika later, she ushers Syvis towards the porch, shooting a dismissive look to the man who brushes past them (oh, to his back, of course). Maybe he's our man? Wait, no, beard's too long?

"It's alright," she replies to Syvis, likewise in elvish. A small smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, pleased to be speaking the language again. It feels like it's been so long... "I just need to offer my apology and ask after a couple of people. We really shan't be long."

"Danika,"
she hurries forward almost breathlessly, tugging Syvis alongside her to keep her close, "I see you're very busy, but can I steal a moment of your time? I came to apologise for last night." Her voice lowers for the last sentence, then lifts again as she turns to introduce Syvis. "This is Syvis, another...traveler, I suppose you might say. A friend."
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire smiles gently at Nina and once more pats her arm. "Thank you," she says, dipping her head in acknowledgement. "I know you have the best of intentions for us. That you would trust strangers from the beyond the mists to have a good reason for invading the home of a native villager? It's generous for you to judge our characters so highly. But if we are to live up to being the kind of people worth that trust, we can't accept your invitation."

"As my friend says, there is a child's life at stake. But we don't have any proof that this man was involved and we don't know the laws of your village enough to justify the invasion of his privacy and property without something more to go on." Moire nods to Hircus and his suggestion. "But that doesn't mean we can't look around. If he's left an open window and we can peer inside without breaking in, for example? Let's see what there is to see before we escalate things."

The Paladin grins once more at Nina's expressiveness and general energy. "Besides, doing the right thing is its own reward. Once we've finished this day's work, perhaps we could talk more about it. Say, over dinner?"
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus shies away just a step embarrassed by the contrast between the paladin's approach and his own. He looks at the ground for a moment in contemplation and slowly begins to nod. "Yes, yes. There is a way to keep this safe and lawful while still making progress. If there is just cause we can bend the rules, but until then I would prefer that we steer clear of willful criminal action."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Ina & Syvis
Porch of the Blue Water Inn
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otrev.jpgThe little bird is perplexed by Syvis. A talking humanoid is truly an anomaly in his eyes. And while he's chatting away to her about the crowd and the weather, he's doesn't seem to entirely trust her. With deft kicks and dashes from side to side, he simultaneously shows off the interior of the cage and warns her off of getting any ideas about taking his place in there.

By the time Ina gets within earshot of Danika, the man with the floppy hat is already at the innkeeper's side. Danika waves him off and turns to Ina instead, an apparent source of great annoyance to the surly man.

"Oh Ina, you silly," Danika says, brushing a hand through the white streak in her black hair, "like I said last night, there is nothing to apologize for. I asked too many questions. It was a deserved lesson for me." A dark bruise colors her face where Ina hit her.

She takes Syvis' hand in greeting and offers cups to both women, apologizing that they contain sweetened, spiced goat's milk instead of wine. "Will you come in for something to eat? Maybe you heard we had even more drama last night, after you left, but Urwin still made sausages this morning like always."

Floppy hat, still waiting nearby for Danika's attention, stares daggers at the two elves.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
The House on Bow Lane
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n.jpgNina drops her hand and looks somewhat put out at Hircus' chiding. Moire's further explication of principles seems to soothe Nina's hurt pride a bit, but she professes to still be bewildered by some of the finer points. She begins to pose some hypothetical about what if you knew that this man Pullo was already dead, but thinks better of it and takes up Moire's suggestion of a later rendezvous instead. "Sure," she says, "let's meet up outside the inn just after seven bells tonight." (It seems safe to assume the young woman is not referring to the system of bells used to mark the passage of time at sea.)

When Hircus adds a still another clarification to Moire's statement of values, Nina shakes her head, chuckles to herself and says with a smile, "You guys are so adorable."

As Hircus and Moire pass between Pullo's house and its neighbor to get to the rear, Nina and Mykola watch and whisper to each other. All of a sudden Nina calls out, "Wait, what missing child? You didn't say anything about that before." and hurries after while her glum companion stays put in front of the house.

The shutters all around the small building are closed, as is the back door. The land behind this row of houses opens out in a misty meadow that ends in the distance where part of the village's palisade wall cuts across it. A few good-sized trees grow close together about two hundred feet away. More houses, fronting another street, are visible through the small grove.

In the grassy area immediately outside Pullo's back door are some objects Moire recognizes from past acquaintance with waterfront scenes: a rack for drying fish, a three-legged stool, a dirty knife on an upturned pail, tangled fishing lines handing from a pole propped between two forked stakes.

A gentle breeze picks up and rolls across the open meadow, shaking the tree branches, tangling the lines further and making the house's shutters tap against the window frames they cover.
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire nods approvingly at her fellow clergy-member and then brightens a bit when Nina follows after them. The young woman is rather adorable herself and the Paladin is already coming to enjoy her company. Especially if her expertise, like Ina's, lies in the clandestine. That said, she winces slightly at Hircus' admission and doesn't elaborate on details to Nina. After all, if it was revealed that the missing girl was Vistani, her helpfulness might very well dry up.

Stepping around the back of the house, Moire takes in the familiar scene before frowning at the fishing lines. Why would the man leave them to tangle, when he knew he'd be needing them? ...and for that matter, if he's gone fishing, why leave his fishing lines behind? If they were extras, surely they would be spooled and stored rather than left outside to tangle. Something wasn't right about this.

Moving to the backdoor, Moire trades looks with Hircus and there's a lack of humor in her face now that hopefully communicates to the cleric that her casual interest has turned serious. Then she knocks. Loudly. "Sir, are you alright in there? Can you answer the door? Do you need help?"
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus surveys the area behind the house and watches as Moire examines the fishing line and heads toward the rear door. Nina's sudden question and Moire's loud knocking embolden Hircus. He charges toward the door. "Don't judge me too harshly Torm! There may be a small child in harm's way." Grabbing the doorknob he attempts to open the door.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
Behind the House on Bow Lane
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The house's back door is swollen in its frame and sticks before popping inward with a bit of effort. The dark interior is a single room about ten by fifteen feet. A faint odor of dead fish, mixed with stale sweat, wafts out from within. By the dim light from the open door, Hircus and Moire can make out an unmade bed, a small table bearing items undiscernible in the darkness, a cook stove, a long chest, a few shirts draped over a chair. Muddy boot prints dot the floorboards. Two pieces of decoration adorn the house's walls between shuttered windows: an old hand saw and a two-headed fish skeleton an arm's length from head to tail.

Nina, who has been looking around the drying rack and three-legged stool behind the house, moves so that she can see into the dark room while remaining a good five feet behind Hircus. "Is there anyone in there?" she asks him with trepidation.
 

jfish

Junior Member
"There is nothing deserved about the mark I gave you," Ina's voice is laced with sincerity and regret, "You were merely trying to be hospitable to newcomers."

Ina gratefully takens the cup and takes a sip, pleasantly surprised by the flavours - instantly transported back to a winter many, many years ago in her childhood. Cheeks warm, she inclines her head to Syvis, "This is the sort of...incident we mentioned earlier. With the memories." Again, the last sentence was said in a quieter voice lest anyone be listening too closely. Ina then turns and makes direct eye contact with the bearded man, flashing him an apologetic smile before reclaiming Danika's attention.

"That sounds wonderful, but unfortunately we've got several things to attend to before the festival - the winery, for one," she raises her cup, taking another sip before continuing. "I thought I saw...something?" Ina gestures to the window, "I couldn't be sure - I was rather out of it, as you say. What did happen?"
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
"It doesn't look like it," Moire says, peering in after Hircus. Seeing the cleric intends to investigate further, and seeing how small the space, the Paladin instead turns back to their resident guide. She takes Nina by the arms and looks her in the eyes. "I don't think we're going to find anything here. Which makes it that much more important that we find the man himself. He's a fisherman, obviously. Do you know if the town has fishing shacks? Places where the fishermen store supplies closer to a lake or river, or a place that provides shelter from the rain or snow?"

"Or for that matter, do you know if he's likely to be with the others at the bridge?"

The questions are important, and they're questions she wants answers to. But she's also conscious of buying her friend time to see if he can turn up any clues while keeping the girl preoccupied.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Ina & Syvis
Porch of the Blue Water Inn
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Pressed among the crowd of people on the porch, Syvis sees a pair of gray squirrels scamper to the edge of the awning above and peer over. "Uh oh, something smells dangerous here," one squirrel says to the other. Seeing the two rodents, Otrev flaps his wings aggressively, shooing them away.

"Who does he think he is?" the second squirrel asks the first. They exchange some unkind judgments of the little songbird that Otrev is probably happier for not being able to understand.

Danika pauses at Ina's question about the previous night's incident at the inn. Her eyes dart to the man with the beard and the other people on the porch. "Oh, whatever you heard, I think it might have been exaggerated. It was just some bats that got worked up by something and broke one of our windows." She gives Ina a subtle look that pleads for no further discussion of this topic out here in front of so many ears.

"This is good news that you will be seeing what has happened at the winery," she continues, "But please, be careful on the roads. Hopefully you will find Tobar Kale and the others who headed there a few days ago."


Hircus & Moire
Behind the House on Bow Lane
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skull.jpgThe little house's dirty floorboards creak as Hircus steps inside. He invokes Torm's light, the better to see within. Myriad everyday objects spring into view from out of the shadows. The table, for instance, holds a candle and two worn books, one of which has a wooden cup resting on its cover.

The long trunk near the foot of the bed is made of stiff canvas and the lid wobbles as Hircus tips it open. This appears to be the source of the fishy odor here. It holds a few fishing poles, some rags, a knife. Several tiny metal bits and other scraps have collected at its bottom. Resting on top of the poles is a brightly-painted bird skull, maybe that of a crow, mounted on a short stick like a jester's wand.

Outside, Nina grows a bit more serious at the intensity in Moire's eyes. "Really, just up at Lake Zarovich, north of town, like I said before! They leave some old boats and things there. But I don't know where this guy is now. Sometimes I've seen him with the others going off to fish at the bridge, but not always."
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Syvis tried to pay attention to the conversation, but being uneasy about so many people ... made it hard to focus. She tried a sip of the milk in the cup, nose crinkling at the spice of it. The sound of chittering caught her ear more than the words of people did, wearing a confused look at the squirrel's noise. Murmuring softly, Syvis spoke to Ortrev in Sylvan, "They will not have your nest little one, I promise." Speaking slightly louder to the squirrels she asked, "What danger do you smell little ones?"

Her attention returned briefly to the tone in the woman's voice, frowning as she sipped the strange drink again, muttering in Elvish, "I think bats would rather be anywhere else than the glass of this place."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Syvis
Talking to Squirrels
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squirrel.jpgThe squirrels freeze in place and stare at Syvis when she speaks to them. "Did you hear that?" one asks the other, who replies in the affirmative.

"Everyone should run away and hide," the first squirrel rapidly chitters to Syvis. "Big predator over there." It points its head towards the far end of the long porch, where a narrow staircase climbs to the inn's second floor. The two squirrels turn and scamper back out of sight onto the awning.

"Don't talk to squirrels," Otrev advises Syvis. "They just want to steal things."
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus feels the heavy pounding of his heart in his chest as he inspects the contents of the small home. Lifting the lid to the trunk he turns his head in quick response to the smell. The trunk contains fishing gear and a strange stick with a bird's skull attached to one end. He turns to let Moire know there is no one here and whispers in her direction only to see that the paladin has moved away from the door. He turns back to the trunk to retrieve the wand, shoves it in his pack and lets the trunk fall shut. Another quick look around the room, he looks behind the furniture and under the bed. "What is this?" With a shove he moves the bed aside and peers into a two foot by three foot hole into a crawl space. "Moire!? I think I need your assistance." He leans into the hole extending the light to see what he can see.
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
The House on Bow Lane
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With the bed pushed off to one side, the light from Hircus' cantrip brings the hole in the floor into stark relief. Floorboards have been removed, granting passage between two joists, down to a tight, hollowed out space in the dark soil under the house. The hollow turns and seems to extends under one of the joists.

Leaning over to direct the light down the tunnel, Hircus finds that it winds back at least fifteen feet, to where a pair of golden eyes reflect back.

Faria.jpg"Hiiircoooos."

The voice is thin and rasping, distorted but still somehow familiar, as is the pale, drawn face around those sunken, glittering eyes.

Hircus and the elven woman with golden eyes and white hair, Faria is her name, stand together on a stone parapet, looking out over a mist-covered valley and a steep winding road leading down to a walled town. She's describing a number of enhancements that should be made to defenses of the "abbey", pointing out a gate below that can be easily reinforced, windows to be barred in a nearby building, and other measures, all sound advice. "I know Markovia plans to march on the castle soon, but the Beast could still strike at us here first."

This woman Faria looks so much younger than Hircus that it's easy to forget she's already older than he'll likely ever live to be. He's apparently said some complementary words about her recommendations. She stifles a grin and, touching the symbol around her neck, says,
"Torm made the plans, I only read them, as you have taught me brother Hircus."

"Hiiircoooos."

The thin voice wrenches Hircus back to the here and now. The distorted mask of Faria's face has come closer, now just five feet away in the claustrophobic crawlspace.

"You are dead Hircus Hornbrow, sealed in your tomb beneath my Lord's castle."

Taught, ropy arms pull the creature forward with incredible speed. Long fingernails reach out to grasp at Hircus' face and shoulders.
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
"Thank you, Nina," Moire says, hands still on the other girl's shoulders which she squeezes slightly to show affirmation.

At which point she hears Hircus' voice from inside calling for aid. The Paladin frowns, as the place didn't seem large enough to have anything to need help with. She turns back to peer in the door, just in time to see Hircus looking beneath the bed into a...hole of some kind? Moire's frown deepens and she reaches for the handaxe she wears on her waist, stepping forward in case there's trouble.
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina nods casually, meeting Danika's eye. Interesting. "Damn bats - I swear I saw one as large as my head last night!" She chuckles in response to the other elf - a sideways glance tells her the bearded man is still loitering uncomfortably. "We'll do our best to help - and of course keep an eye out for others." Well...it's not a complete lie. She finishes her drink and places the cup down, grasping Danika's hand in hers. "Hopefully we'll see you later - Maybe we can help you out a bit during the festival?" Ina steps back, turning towards Syvis and tilting her head away from the Inn. "Shall we see where the others got to?"
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
A concerned expression rested on Syvis' face as she listened to the squirrels, glancing towards the direction they gestured to -- seeing no one there but gaining a sense of unease from their words. She shook her head slightly to Otrev, "I've seen many birds steal as well in my years. Feathered ones aren't so innocent."

Over the conversation with Danika she took small sips, scanning the group before returning her gaze to the steps, only to realize she was being spoken to with actual words again. Syvis tilted her head as well, "If we can find them ... is there a dog or similar here? A mouser?" She tapped her cup lightly on the birdcage, "I ... overheard concerns?"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
The House on Bow Lane
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Before Hircus can react enough to even roll out of the way, the creature that is clearly some debased parody of Faria is upon him, wrapping a pale arm around his neck and, with incredible strength, pulling him down into the hole. His armored shoulders scrape wood off the floorboards as she moves back and dargs him into the cramped earthen passage. The closeness of the walls make his light almost completely ineffectual, but it is not so dark that he can't make out her grinning face inches from his. There is no doubt that the woman from his vision now exists in undeath. Though her features have become grotesque, there is no odor of decay. If anything, her breath and body carry a strange, exotic fragrance, and her flesh appears waxy and clean in the dimness. Everything Hircus knows about the undead from his former life tells him that the woman has become some sort of vampire.

"Is it really you, teacher?" she hisses in the dark tunnel. "Why? What are you doing in my fisherman's house? I must know, must taste if you are real." Her mouth opens to show long, decidedly non-elven fangs, and she begins to twist Hircus' head so that she can bite his throat.

Ina & Syvis
Porch of the Blue Water Inn
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As soon as Ina says her farewell to Danika, the antsy bearded man draws close to the raven-haired hostess and, in a loud, showy voice, asks, "Well, Danika, what is this new drink you offer us? What of the wine you had in abundance last festival day?" he looks around to the other townsfolk on the porch, whose attention he seems to have captured. "Why is this? If you had to say, is there a particular individual who might be to blame for there being no wine in Vallaki? Who might that be, do you think?"

As the people on the porch shuffle around to witness what Danika will say, a narrow path is opened through which Syvis can see, in the shadows beneath the staircase, a crouching figure that quickly ducks back out of sight. It was only an instant, but there is someone or something hiding there.

Otrev chooses this moment to respond to Syvis' recent counterpoint about squirrels, birds and thievery. Darting about in his cage, he offers, "It is true that the diabolo dunnock will steal your eggs."
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"I know you." The cleric squints against the light of his spell. "Faria." Hircus releases her name like an exhalation. He watches as the creature approaches him through the dark crawlspace. Before he can react he is grabbed and dragged through the earth below the fisherman's home. He gathers his wits while he being dragged and when the dragging stops he reaches to his chest and clutches his amulet. With a bellowing plea, he produces a spontaneous prayer to turn this beast that was once his friend.

"Torm! Look to your standard bearer, your warrior, your servant.
Your righteous gaze, your victorious light can drive evil back to the shadow from where it creeps.
Grant me this in my darkest hour, Grant me this, your divine power!"


Hircus expects the grip to loosen, but the vampire Faria resists his attempt to cast her out. With a flourish of his free hand, Hircus reaches into the air and draws forth a weapon as if plucked from Torm's own armory. "Torm! Grant me this gift!" Appearing next to the vampire that was once Faria is the weapon Hircus saw slung on her own hip in his vision. "I will cut you down with your own weapon, fiend!"
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
The House on Bow Lane
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The vampiric incarnation of Faria smiles when Hircus brandishes the symbol of Torm, the very same one she wore in the vision. "Is that something I should recognize, teacher? It does not seem so important after all these years. Your god abandoned me, I think. A sad day for you. Your luck is worse than the fisherman's."

In the tight space, there is little room for the summoned blade. It comes into existence close by Hircus and Faria's heads, jabbing forward into the undead woman's temple. The weapon is not a creation of pure light as Hircus expected, but appears rusty and worn instead. Nonetheless, it pierces Faria's smooth skin and she winces in pain, failing to bite the cleric's exposed throat as she had intended. "Take it away," she rasps as she pushes her claws below the neckline of Hircus' armor, drawing blood and pulling him deeper still into the passage.

Outside the house, Nina reaches out for Moire's arm, genuinely alarmed. "What is it? What's happening in there? I thought nobody was home!"
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
"I thought so too!" Moire cries to Nina, just as Hircus is pulled beneath the bed.

The Paladin charges afterwards and uses one boot to kick the bed entirely clear of the concealed entrance, exposing it to sight. She peers into the brief dim light beneath, and gasps at the sight of Hircus struggling with something, with someone? Dropping low, the Paladin sweeps her handaxe out of the way with her right hand, as her left hand plunges down and grabs the Cleric of Torm by the back of his armor. Then she pulls with all of her might to pry him loose of the grip of the damned.
 

jfish

Junior Member
"Oh? What sort of-" Ina's question is cut off by the bearded man. She exhales in frustration at his words. Bloody fool. Even if he's right - especially if he's right. She scans the man's garb for any hint of weaponry, concerned that his words may invite violence of some sort. Potential spots: half a dozen. Probability...low. He seemed more of a talker. Ina flicks her eyes to Syvis, alarmed for an instant when she realises the other woman has begun moving away. Ina glances questioningly at Danika, ready to intervene if necessary. She then brings a thread to her mouth, using message to contact Syvis: "Is everything okay?"
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Syvis continued working her way through the crowd, bumping into a few here and there as she went, attempting to sort out what she was seeing run around behind the stairs -- eventually realizing it was a man with curly gray hair and scruffy whiskers, crouched behind the steps, looking around at everyone, eyes even glancing over Syvis herself.

Her focus was on the man so much she jumped as she heard Ina's voice suddenly in her ear. Murmuring in response, the elven woman narrowed her amber eyes, "Unsure. Squirrels warned of a predator and I found a man hidden behind the stairs ... Uneasy."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Hircus & Moire
The House on Bow Lane

Hircus' shoulders, arms and head pull free of the earthen tunnel. Other arms, pale and lithe with sharp nails, reach after him, having lost their grip. A face shows itself, peering with golden eyes and a countenance that Moire recognizes, despite the distortions that it has undergone.

The autumn leaves crunch underfoot as Moire and the others follow several paces behind the elven woman with white hair who is scouting ahead of them among the trees. There are at least twenty in the party. Aurica is nearby, silently mouthing prayers to herself as she goes. Hircus is here too, off to the left behind Moire's shoulder. He has his palm pressed to his forehead, maybe trying to remember something or suffering a headache.

The scout—Faria is her name—stops, crouches and stretches hand out behind her, the sign for everyone to be still. She puts the other hand to the ground and listens to the wind. "Here. Here," she whispers.

Aurica breathes in sharply and puts a hand on Moire's shoulder. A thin tendril of mist snakes among the trees, soon joined by others. Sheets of the stuff rise from the forest floor.

"Prepare yourselves," Aurica says to the group. "Here our journey truly begins." Moire and the rest step forward and soon lose sight of each other in the dense fog.


Lying prone at Moire's feet, Hircus is not privy to the details of her vision, but he certainly recognizes the symptoms. She stands and stares, slack-jawed, even as the undead creature that was Faria lurks at the mouth of the tunnel. "So, Markovia's favorite has returned as well. Lickspittle. Flunky. Sycophant. My Lord will wish to hear such news."
 

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