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Fantasy Terrorchild: Awakening

2. Faster is Better - "The more ground we cover in a day, the better off we'll be. Let's just get on the road and be done with it," you say.

"Sounds about right," Nytha replies, giving the reins a gentle flick and setting her horse into motion.

You start to follow her when Embryx speaks up.

"So, that's it? We're just going to do what she says?" she asks, without meaning to be insulting towards you, but rather out of confusion for the apparent inversion of the circle's power structure. In theory, you should have the least authority over the group's plans, after Corrinth, Nytha, and then Embryx. But with Corrinth already in wildshape, and Nytha feeling particularly bitter toward the drow's recent pot-stirring, she had apparently deferred to you for advice instead.

Nytha looks disdainfully at Embryx. "You're going to do what I say, and I say we're listening to Agranne for once. Got it?"

Embryx seems to grow distant in her saddle, sheepishly falling behind as your three horses trot along the road out of Tashlaan.

"Hey," you say after a few minutes spent in silence, wincing at your newly resurgent chest pain, "did we send any crows ahead of us?"

Nytha shakes her head. "Faran will handle it," she says. "We'll send out some more tomorrow morning in both directions; let everyone know that we're still alive out here. Speaking of which, how's that wound?"

"I can barely breathe," you say, slumping forward on your horse as you struggle to pull air in. You look back at Embryx. "Do you have any more of that potion Corrinth gave me?"

Embryx nods, "yeah, just a second," and quickly rides to your aid. You're extremely thankful for your second dose of the remedy, and feel like you could keep going for another few hours as the pain gradually subsides into numbness once again. The day is still young and you haven't even had breakfast yet, and so you reach for the bag Embryx tied to your saddle before pulling out a chalky cracker and taking a hard, crunchy bite out of it. There's very little flavor; it's the sort of thing that would be better used to thicken up a brothy soup, but you've made do with far worse in the past.

The road eventually winds down a steep hill, switching back a few times, before linking up once again with the Turus River at the base of some waterfalls. Almost immediately afterwards you see a fishing boat, and you realize why there seemed to be so little traffic on the river closer to Tashlaan - the waterfalls made it inaccessible from the sea. Near this terminus of the navigable river, there are a few buildings comprising a village.

"Yaghat's End," Nytha says. "The road branches here - south, where we're going, and east, toward Sonnamille. I came through here a long time ago when I resettled in Tashlaan," she explains, nostalgically.

Quite suddenly, Corrinth lands in the grass nearby and dispels her wildshape, reappearing from within a cloud of fading shadows as her normally human-passing self. "...Crossroads are a good place to find traveling clerics. Why don't we see if we can get Agranne some help for her 'hunting mishap?' I can play the part of an innocent witness."

Nytha looks to you to gauge your reaction.

1. Ask for Help - If the elixir runs out and you come down with unmitigated pain in your lungs before nightfall, you definitely won't be sleeping tonight. Even worse, you remember how much you bled from your mouth earlier - if one of your lungs was punctured, you could wind up with permanent damage without some light magic to reverse the piercing and burning that was done to you. "It's worth a shot," you reply.

2. Reject Corrinth - You do need help, but you can't be sure of Corrinth's intentions. After you put her in her place earlier today, what if she tries to sabotage your efforts? "Nytha and I will look for the cleric. You two can find something else to do while I get patched up. Maybe we can spend a little bit and get some fresh meat to eat..."

3. Keep Riding - "I don't think we should stop in a village so close to Tashlaan," you say, wearily. "I feel like we'd get wrapped up in something if we're not careful."
 
1. Ask for Help - If the elixir runs out and you come down with unmitigated pain in your lungs before nightfall, you definitely won't be sleeping tonight. Even worse, you remember how much you bled from your mouth earlier - if one of your lungs was punctured, you could wind up with permanent damage without some light magic to reverse the piercing and burning that was done to you. "It's worth a shot," you reply.

"Okay," Corrinth says. "Leave your sword here with the horses. We don't want to scare the locals."

As you head into the village, you begin to notice how empty it seems. The few residents here must spend more of their time working to gather food and other supplies than what's necessary in a larger town, and so they don't loiter in the road like they did in Tashlaan or even Ryggander. There are less amenities here, too - instead of a market, Yaghat's End only has a general store. It also lacks a chapel, although it isn't long before you locate a shrine to Vestria, a goddess representing multiple virtues as well as nature itself, on an island at the center of a small, shallow pond. A young man in a white robe is tending to the shrine, ensuring that the grass isn't too tall.

You give a nod to Corrinth, and she calls out to him. "Sir! ...Excuse me, sir!"

He turns and sees the two of you, and the way that you're limping along, and sort of jumps at the sudden opportunity to help. You feel a surprising bout of homesickness, as even though the majority of you village back home in Zuklanar paid your family no mind, the likewise-poor were often eager to help each other, as was the will of Gallanis, or so you all assumed. The man reaches you quickly by walking through the water, which is only an inch or two deep at most points, and greets you both. "H- Hello, and welcome. Is everything alright? Are you hurt, miss?"

"My friend here shot me with an arrow," you grunt.

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry," Corrinth repeats under her breath, doing a good job of making herself appear panicked as she helps you lay down on the dirt. "We were hunting, sir, south of Tashlaan - far south, where the game is better - and I accidentally... Oh, gods," she explains, convincingly.

The cleric doesn't hesitate, helping you to pull your clothing back and expose the wound. "Oh, oh no," he says. "Did you cauterize this yourselves?"

"It was the only way to stop the bleeding," Corrinth says, "I hit her in the back; there was nowhere to put a torniquet. Please, say she'll be okay, I beg you."

He nods. "I can help," he simply replies before rising and moving over to a nearby shack, presumably his own home, and retrieving a long staff that looked akin to a fallen bough from a tree. "I- I might pass out, but I'll give you what I can."

"Thank you," you say through clenched teeth. A white light begins to glow from the man's staff as he turns it over, pointing it at your wound. His lips move as if he's speaking, although no words come out. You realize he's silently praying to help keep his focus measured. Inside, you feel a change; the pain, disguised by numbness, begins to truly dissipate and resolve itself as your flesh is repaired from the inside out. This goes on for several minutes, with your strength returning as the cleric's diminishes, until at last he can't take anymore of the exertion and he nearly falls over.

"There..." he says as he leans on his staff. "H-how do you feel?"

There's still pain in your shoulder, but it feels only surface-deep. You take a deep breath, your first since you were struck, and find nothing preventing you from taking a full and rejuvenating breath. "Thank you," you say again. Corrinth, meanwhile, grabs onto you in an elated hug, burying her face into you as she squeals with joy. When she finally lifts her head, you realize she's not just pretending to cry - she's actually crying. Perhaps she feared that after losing her mother and being cast out of her hometown, the great project that caused all of it would end without any satisfying conclusion. Or maybe, it's like Iona said, and Corrinth just likes you.

It could be both, you reason as she helps you to your feet. "...Can I make a donation in gratitude?" you ask, looking over at the shrine.

"Two copper is enough," says the cleric, and you set about getting them out of your coin purse. Inadvertently, however, you open the bag and the cleric catches sight of the gold and silver inside as well. "Oh my," he says simply with a tired smile, but then the smile fades. "...I won't ask you where it came from." he mutters.

You realize that he's not as much of a fool as you thought. Any ordinary villager wouldn't be carrying this much with them; this is the sort of money a merchant would carry. But you aren't a merchant; merchants rarely, if ever, need to hunt for their own food, especially so far from town and with so much money on their person. He makes the most logical assumption - that you and Corrinth robbed someone for this money, and that's how you actually got shot with an arrow.

1. Deny It - "It's not what it looks like," you say. "We hunt for furs, not food, and business is good," you explain, feeling especially smart for coming up with the lie.

2. Embrace It - You give a cynical smile. "Yeah, well, maybe that's for the best," you reply. "You won't see us again."

3. Play Dumb - "What do you mean, sir?" you ask innocently. "Are you accusing me of something?"
 
2. Embrace It - You give a cynical smile. "Yeah, well, maybe that's for the best," you reply. "You won't see us again."

"I'll pray for you both," he says, walking his staff back over to his shack and leaving you and Corrinth to your own business.

Corrinth leans in as you head back toward your horses. "I was wondering if he was going to catch on," she says under her breath. "He didn't seem to notice there was no hole in your clothes for an arrow to go through," she snickers.

And, despite yourself, you laugh with her. It's hard to believe she's in such good spirits after everything that's happened so far today, but it occurs to you that she might be relieved that you're not only okay, but that you're willing to afford her enough trust to travel along with you like this.

"I think we should head through the village like we're traveling east," you say. "We can circle back through the woods and rejoin the road south afterwards, but if any hunters come through looking for us the villagers will point them the wrong direction."

Corrinth nods eagerly. "That's a great idea, sister," she says as you near the edge of the village where the circle is waiting.

"What is?" Embryx asks, having only heard Corrinth's comment. She looks worried, almost alarmed. From the way Nytha is staring off into space to the south, you can easily infer that things weren't exactly peachy between the elf and the drow while you were gone.

Corrinth explains your idea, but then worry and annoyance appears in her eyes. "...I'm not sure if I can get back into wildshape, now that I think of it. I'm nearly tapped out. Can any of you...?"

Embryx eagerly offers to share her horse with Corrinth, saving you that headache.

---

After another few uneventful hours of riding, you're forced to stop and rest in the afternoon near the riverside. The weather is clear and crisp, and while the trees haven't begun to change, you can tell that fall is in the air. As you scarf down your first real meal of the day - a hard biscuit with a bit of smoked meat from the bards' smoker back in town. You're hardly a bite into it before the argument you suspected back in Yaghat's End flairs up again.

"Can you not!?" Nytha explodes after Embryx tried again to patch things up. "I don't want to deal with you - not after everything else that's happened today."

Embryx, meanwhile, seems distressed. "It was a misunderstanding!" she pleads. "I wasn't trying to set you two up as enemies-"

"Of course you were," Nytha growls. "You just couldn't stand the thought of a new witch in the circle being named your elder!"

"-I just," Embryx stammers, "I just don't know how else to make friends with people. I gossip, okay? I'm sorry!"

1. Do Nothing - Embryx seems plenty distraught over this situation. In fact, she might leave if nobody gets else involved. But you're having a bit of fun watching her get tangled in the lies you told, and you decide it's not your responsibility to fix any of it - it's Corrinth's job.

2. Take Nytha's Side - You're tempted to speak up in support of Nytha, before Corrinth weighs in. You don't want the changeling to suggest that Nytha's mistaken or that she's being too sensitive.

3. Take Embryx's Side - There's still a long way to go before you reach the big city, and Nytha's insistence on litigating this issue now, and not after everyone is safe, is concerning. You could probably sort this out if you're willing to forgive Embryx.
 

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