Into the Wild Pursuit

Harroc leads Mara and Loxiel in pursuit of the source of River Elk deep in the jungle.

Abandoned or retired roleplaying storylines are moved here. If you wish to have a thread restored, please message staff.
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

The trek out of the sprawling city of Ajteire was dull and slow-moving. Densely twined walls of vines and trees blocked the path often, and only the first several had been hewn asunder by citizens and militia. When they encountered their first uncut wall of vegetation, Harroc came to a halt and turned to his companions.

"From here onward, the dangers begin. You've perhaps not noticed the signs of undead the militia deals with, but I assure you we've passed many mangled corpses." Harroc tightened the straps of his pack as he spoke, before finally nodding and making eye contact with the others. When his eyes met the mask of Mara, he chuckled to himself. "Apologies Lightbringer. I had forgotten again your talents lie outside of sight. Please cover your ears." Without waiting to see if they complied, Harroc leapt forward into open space and shifted.

When the roiling green smoke cleared, he was a great wolf just over 18 hands at the shoulder. The body was long and sleek, but powerfully muscled, beneath a coat of silver and black. With a shake of his now massive head, Harrroc planted his paws firmly and let loose a bone-rattling howl. The mournful wail seemed to pierce through the jungle and leave silence behind. After several moments of silence, far off replies could be heard. They wove together and became uncountable before finally fading away. In another short hop, Harroc shifted back into his human form.

The Druid held his staff and free hand out towards the wall of vines. With some concentration, he let out a soft grunt before moving them apart. When he moved, so did the vines, leaving a thin twisting path through the once impassable foliage. With a smile, he turned back to his companions and said, "We can move forward now, there will be no immediate danger on the far side, but it is a good excuse to practice your talents eyas."



The day continued similarly, though the impassable walls of the jungle grew farther apart as they gained distance from the city. Harroc took a roaming path through the undergrowth, weaving in and out of dense patches of ferns and giving other areas a wide berth. Every time he changed direction, he sought out the most stable pathway to continue their journey eastward. Whenever they avoided a seemingly safe path, the Druid would tell them why it was an actual danger. Venomous bugs, deadfalls hidden by decaying leaves, and easily angered jungle denizens were all passed by. "Watch carefully and understand Loxiel. Tomorrow I'll have you lead us on the open ground as best you can."

When the vine walls they encountered grew thicker, Harroc no longer allowed Loxiel to scout past the opened barrier. Instead, he walked directly behind the boy, Mara in his wake, as they worked their way through. "There are beasts I cannot ward away in this part of the wilds," he said as way of explanation. "I did promise I would protect you both on the journey. As long as you keep close, that will hold true."



The sun was just beginning to dip below the distant undergrowth when Harroc halted their journey. "The light is still bright, and in the city, we'd have hours yet before darkness. Here though, on the floor, we'll seek shelter now. If we wait, darkness will come faster than you expect," he explained as he looked over a small clearing in the hollow of a great tree's roots. With practiced efficiency, he removed a set of hammocks from his pack. Using lengths of cord pulled taught over low branches and thick stalks surrounding the clearing, Harroc raised the sleeping slings into place. "We'll work without fire this first night. I don't trust the creatures this far from the river to be smart enough to avoid fire," he said as he was cinching the final hammock into place. When he finished, he turned and held his arms out wide to the party. "So, what delicious foodstuffs does everyone have?"
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Mara Whitewood »

Mara was not one to complain. Growing up in a monastery had not afforded her much time or opportunity to experience luxury, as the rough texture of her hands could attest. She was accustomed both to hiking long distances and making do with very little.

Even if that were not the case, the pace Harroc set was not difficult to keep. Between her superior hearing and her staff, Mara did not lag behind her companions, but rather kept apace with them. Exposed roots, jutting vines and the natural rise and fall in terrain did not slow her up too much.

As the rhythm of their footsteps changed, growing shorter and slower, Mara knew to stop at precisely the moment Harroc and Loxiel did. Angling an ear towards them, she waited and listened, happy for the brief opportunity to rest. Her muscles had not yet begun to cry with the strain, and her breathing was moderate yet, but she would take advantage of these moments when she could.

Mara smiled, plainly amused by Harroc's apology. "You are forgiven," she said, already shifting her staff into the crook of her arm to comply with his request. She murmured a quiet, "My thanks," before pressing her hands over her ears.

Truthfully, the wolf's cry was as clear and bright as a bell; it filtered through the flesh and bone barriers of her hands with resounding ease. Mara's mask concealed the way her features pinched together in discomfort, though they quickly relaxed when the last haunting note died away. She peeled her hands from her ears just in time to hear the answering chorus beyond the wall.

The next few minutes were something of a mystery. The sounds of vines slowly pulling away and twisting into new shapes were somewhat alien and hard to classify. Mara struggled to formulate a coherent picture within her mind, and was still puzzling over it, when Harroc gave them the all clear. With a thoughtful hum, she began to move again.

***

After a few more hours of travel, Mara had acquired a better idea of what that sound was and how Harroc was making it. It was less alarming now that she could see in her mind's eye how vegetation bent and turned to Harroc's will, opening paths around obstructions.

Mara did not question the druid's decisions. This was mostly because she couldn't perceive the world and its dangers in quite the same way he could, and also because -- even though they had just met -- she trusted his judgment. In that regard, it seemed solid and reliable to her based on the bits of wisdom he doled out to Loxiel while they traveled. If she was still nervous about their adventure, this much at least was a comfort.

"Your vigilance is much appreciated," Mara said to Harroc's back, which she sensed was not too far ahead of her. Her breath was coming in gentle pants now, and a thin sheen of sweat lay upon her brow. "I promise I will try not to wander off."

It crossed her mind to ask them -- jokingly -- to remember to point her away from any trees should they have to run for their lives for any reason. Mara decided against it, though, unsure how the remark would be received. And so she lapsed back into silence to focus on placing one foot in front of the other.

***

When Harroc finally called the march to a halt, Mara was quietly relieved. Whether or not it got dark early didn't bother her terribly, a fact she suspected their erstwhile guide knew, but she was ready to get off her feet for more than a moment's respite.

Mara moved deeper into the small clearing on small, cautious steps, staff sweeping searchingly over the ground. It struck a thick tree root jutting out of the ground with a hollow thwack. Inching nearer, she ran a hand on the moss-covered surface to get a clearer idea of its size and shape. Upon determining it was sturdy enough, she let her pack slip from her shoulder and lowered her backside onto the root with a long exhalation.

"If we need light," Mara started to say, a hand flapping ineffectually in front of her face, "I can provide it without trouble. It need not be a beacon one can see from miles off."

She was, of course, poking fun at herself, recalling the moment from the night before when she revealed something of her abilities.

"I have oats, dried fruit, a bit of bread and some cheese." Setting aside her staff, she bent to pull her rucksack into her lap. She gave the worn leather exterior a pat, as if proud of it somehow. "I also brought a canister of tea, some spices, and a bit of honey. Water, too, of course."

List complete, Mara paused to set her bag aside again and gathered the thick rope of blonde hair over one shoulder. It was heavy against her back and she did not want it sitting on the back of her neck any longer either. Ristgir, it was so humid. After another moment, she spoke again.

"Could either of you point me west? I should like to say my evening prayers as the sun sets."
User avatar
Loxiel
Character
Level
03
48 / 48 HP
38 / 38 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 55c
Race: Fae and Shapeshifter
Class: Rogue
Posts: 47
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Loxiel »

Loxiel praised Inya for her lessons as they traversed the jungle. His slight form and months of training meant that he moved through the forest with relative ease, though he couln't deny he would much rather have flown. That was near impossible though, considering the heavy bags strapped to his shoulder. There was no way his hawk-form would be able to lift anything bigger than pair of socks! Let alone everything he had with him.

At first, the young Changeling had worried about Mara getting by, but his fears were soon put to rest at her ability to move along at an even pace and with an ease that surprised him. She was blind, after all!

As they moved, Loxiel tried to keep in mind all the bits if wisdom that both Inya and Harroc had instilled in him, while also nodding along and trying to absorb what the Druid was saying as they made their way through.

When Harroc called a halt and shifted, Loxiel pretty much stared open-mouthed, as if he had never seen anyone shift before, let alone already having seen this form. It was a magnificent sight to behold. It was also so ... big! His cat form was such that it's head might reach a grown man's hip, and he wondered how powerful and skilled he would have to be before he could ever hope to shift into something bigger, and more useful in a combat situation.

And when Harroc howled, and the forest howled back, Loxiel was all but awe-struck. He said nothing at the time; it was a strangely moving moment, to him. It reminded him of something Mistress Karla used to say when she told them stories "Wolves represent family, the pack. It represents the deepest of bonds." She would then reassure them that they too were a family, those group of orphaned boys and girls. Loxiel had never felt anything of the sort. Perhaps that was why his forms tended to be creatures that were those that didn't live in groups; the hawk and the cat?

***

Loxiel too was glad of the call to halt. His bag was heavy on his shoulders, since he had never had cause to take so much out with him. He rubbed them after he slipped it to the floor, then stretched out his arms.

"I have pretty much the same," he said, as Mara listed off the provisions she had brought. "I can always hunt us some small game; I did it back in the city every other day, and managed to bring back 3 or 4 back at a time."

He watched Harroc put up the slings, and nodded as he said no fire. He was a little disappointed. He had kind of hoped they would sit around the campfire and he would listen to tales of worlds very different from his, but he also agreed that it might cause a problem with the light, and smells if they had tried to cook anything; that could interest some very nasty things this deep in the forests.

"Master Harroc; I wondered if I might be allowed to have a quick fly ... only a few minutes and I will stay very close?" He was usually in his hawk form every day, and he thought he might not be able to sleep if he didn't literally stretch his wings for a little while.

When Mara asked which way was west, he pointed, then realised how stupid he was. "May I?" He asked, before putting a hand gentle on her elbow and turning her to face the setting sun.

When she was finished, he couldn't help but ask. "How did you come to be in the service of Ristgir, Mistress Mara?" He wondered, hoping he wouldn't be being rude at asking such a thing. "I've always said my prayers to Ixaziel, ever since one of the Fae tutors told me about him. I've never really been sure how to pray to him properly. I thank him after every hunt, of course, but no one ever taught me anything ... official." He wondered if he was making sense.
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

Harroc continued to busy himself about the camp as his companions rested and talked. Out of habit, he nodded to Mara as she mentioned using her light. "We'll certainly want it in the days to come, there are several times we'll not want to rest in the night for fear of visitors," he said as he worked on affixing the hammocks. When the others listed their provisions he chuckled. "We'll not want for food it seems. I'm glad you both packed so thoughtfully. If you're sharing, I would love some tea. I'm still largely unfamiliar with it," he said as he cinched the final rope to the hammocks.

He listened as Loxiel asked to be let loose and gave the boy a stern consideration before breaking into a grin. "Of course eyas, stretch your wings as long as you like. Stay below the high branches, lest you find yourself a great spider's meal. Fly above the low foliage to avoid the cats. With those in mind, you'll be plenty safe given your eyes and ears." The instructions were more than he'd gotten on his first unsupervised roam in the deep jungle, but he considered it his duty as a teacher to do better for his students. His instructions shared and the beds constructed, Harroc walked the edge of the camp, checking for unwanted guests but keeping some attention to his companions. When Ixaziel came into the conversation he smiled to himself. He may as well teach the boy a rite the next evening, given the equinox was upon them soon.
User avatar
Loxiel
Character
Level
03
48 / 48 HP
38 / 38 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 55c
Race: Fae and Shapeshifter
Class: Rogue
Posts: 47
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Loxiel »

Loxiel gave the man a big grin. "Thank you, Master!" And he meant it. Dropping his bag near one of the hammocks Harroc had set up, he took a deep breath, then enveloped in a deep, dark blue smoke, launched himself into the air, giving his companions a 'kee, kee' in pure joy at taking to his favourite form.

He wanted very much to go straight through the canopy and fly as high as he could, but he would heed his master. He had never been this far from Ajteire, so was not going to take any chances. Plus, he wanted to be a good student. Inya had told him he had had to.

He saw nothing of note. Any beasts that weren't out to eat them would likely had fled as they had spoken and sorted their bags. So he settled for small but quick flights from tree to tree. He needed this.

Loxiel could feel the hunger in his stomach, knowing it would be twice as powerful when he resumed his regular form. He supposed he ought to go down and help with the tasks and get some food in him.

Returning to the clearing, he thought he might show off. He swooped into the middle and shifted just before he landed, which he did so in a roll, coming to a stand and smiling. "That felt good." He said. "What would you like me to do? I've never really gone camping with folks before. I usually just hunt game and eat it raw on the go."

He had also not been unaware of Harroc's expression when he had mentioned Ixaziel ... was the Druid a follower or some kind of disciple? On the worship of that particular ancient deity, he had not been taught much. He hoped his master would know something!
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Mara Whitewood »

Mara permitted Loxiel to touch her with a nod and a small smile. Rather than sink to her knees and begin her prayers right away, she lowered her staff to the ground with the broader, knobby end pointed west. Upon straightening, she brushed a bit of dirt from her hands, rubbing her palms into the skirt of her robe.

Loxiel's curiosity didn't seem to be cause for any offense. In fact, the opposite appeared to be true as a serene smile spread across her lips. "Ixaziel is the father of creation; most forms of life as we know it exist because of Him. Praying to Ixaziel after a hunt, thanking Him for the life that will sustain yours, sounds no less official to me than kneeling before an altar."

Turning back to her belongings, Mara crouched before her bag on the floor and began sifting through the contents. "To answer your question, I was born into His service," she said. "My father was a priest and raised me at Ristgir's monastery in Fellsgard."

Mara paused in her explanation as she withdrew a squat, round tin from the bag. She ran the pad of her thumb over the lid, upon which a shape had been engraved. With a soft "ah!" she stood.

"I might have chosen a different path, but I enjoyed the lessons and His teachings spoke to me. Now I carry His flame and He lights my way."

The expression she wears upon completing her answer is one of contentment. After Harroc and Loxiel's exchange, and Loxiel's gleeful ascendance into the sky, Mara twists the lid off of the tin and raises it to her nose to sniff the tea leaves. As a thought occurs to her, she tilts her head.

"If you want tea we will need a fire," she says, addressing primarily Harroc who she sensed to still be relatively nearby. "I suppose you could put the leaves in cold water, but I could not guarantee the quality of the flavor."

When Loxiel returned, she smiled again somewhat in his direction and said, "Welcome back," but allowed Harroc to give him directions in terms of providing for the camp.
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

Harroc listened raptly to Mara as he finished his rounds of the camp. He often found the lives of others terribly interesting compared to his own. When Mara mentioned fire, he frowned in thought until an idea came to him. "It needn't be a large fire, I can manage a foliage dome that will block the light long enough," he said before searching for a suitable plant to enact his plan. Several moments of concentration, and a few curls of his fingers and twists of the palm, and Harroc had a dome the width of his arm and height of his knee. He placed it on the ground and moved to the open space near to Mara. He moved his hand like a scoop, and the earth obliged him. Dirt pressed away and made a small hollow. The Druid nodded, grabbed some nearby dried vines, and set to work. In several minutes he had a small fire crackling.

"I hope this is sufficient. I don't know enough to help the creation process, but I'll try to limit the light and stay out of your way," he said when he felt the flame would sustain itself long enough to be useful. Loxiel chose that moment to return and at the mention of raw meat, the Druid made a disgusted face. "There's not terribly much to do this evening. When we have a full fire going on other nights I'd appreciate the help with checking for visitors before it starts." Harroc looked over his student and could tell, despite his impressive roll, the hunger was hitting him hard. "Also, I know you can shift back easy enough, did no one ever teach you to make a simple fire, because sure you can eat meat raw, but you're not an animal. Plus, once it's cooked it's far less likely to attract all the extra things that want to eat you." The Druid stopped, realizing he was ranting and shook his head to clear his thoughts.

"Apologies, eyas. I don't typically have companions out here, and the day has been long," he said as he walked in a small circle to vent his lingering frustration. "I know it takes time, Mara, but when the tea is ready I'm sure it will help," he said as his pacing came to an end. The fire crackled softly, a faint popping as a vine fell inward.
User avatar
Loxiel
Character
Level
03
48 / 48 HP
38 / 38 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 55c
Race: Fae and Shapeshifter
Class: Rogue
Posts: 47
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Loxiel »

Loxiel listened with keen interest as Mara spoke of herself; something she had not done much of during their short time together. She was a fascinating person. There was something almost ... other-worldly about her. She moved with the grace of a queen, and her soft tones spoke of a wisdom much beyond how she looked.

"I'll be sure to thank my Lord for His gifts, the next time I hunt." He said, solemnly. "One day, perhaps I might be able to serve Him properly ... as a disciple." He blushed a little. "Though perhaps I am being a bit ... well, maybe someone like me would hardly make a great disciple to Ixaziel. He glanced back to Harroc. Master? If I may be so bold as to ask; do you also follow the teachings of Ixaziel?"

When Harroc had snapped at Loxiel, the boy had hung his head. Everything the Druid said was true, of course. Leaving fresh, eaten carcasses lying about the place was sure to be a big invitation for unwanted guests. "Yes, Master. Sorry, Master." But raised his head when the man apologised, then bowing it respectfully. "I will endeavour to keep that in mind. It is just a habit I picked up being alone so often. I've never been taught much about what I am." Loxiel knew he could learn so much from Harroc; though the two were different, he a Changeling and Harroc an Elemental (something he would have to ask about in future), and so he would take the lessons, even delivered harshly, for any and all experience was necessary, if he was ever going to be a true hero.

Loxiel didn't have much to do while the two got about making up camp. His eyes widened as Harroc manipulated the plant-life to cover their small fire. Mara moved about and prepared the tea in such a concise manner, that Loxiel often forgot she was actually blind!

He took a seat on the floor, pulled out his bone dagger and looked down its edge. Since it hadn't been used, it was still very keen, so he put it away. He hated moments like this, where he felt completely useless. But, he reminded himself, he was here to learn.
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Mara Whitewood »

While Harroc worked his will on the earth as he had been doing all day, Mara stood patiently aside and waited. Afterward, while he bent to build a fire shortly, she retrieved several necessary items including a small pot, her water, and little tin cups. She smiled gratefully when the druid was finished at last and moved nearer to take his place.

The fire was small but she felt the heat at a distance nonetheless. If Mara concentrated, she thought she could see it behind the dual barriers of visor and lids, although that could have just been her imagination. Whether or not that was the case, she crouched on the jungle floor beside the fire and set to work, moving with a deftness born of practice.

Mara kept an ear to the conversation between teacher and student. She hid a smile when Harroc gently scolded Loxiel, recalling all too easily how frequently Hedrick had done the same. Neither seemed to be the kind to pass up a teachable moment -- an ideal quality in a mentor.

Setting the pot of water on the fire to boil, Mara sat back a ways from the fire and tipped her face towards the sky. Face flushed from the heat of the open flames, she couldn't tell anymore by the temperature in the air how far the sun had sunk.

"Did you know," Mara began, abruptly breaking the silence, "there is a love story about Ristgir and Ny'tha? It was said that Ixaziel did tell them to rule the heavens equally, instructing them to march across the sky in an endless parade of day into night, night into day. They follow after one another, always just out of reach."

Mara shifted slightly, getting more comfortable, and tucked her hands into the sleeves of her robes. "The life-giving sun is necessary, but the night is beautiful. Ristgir heard stories of Ny'tha's remarkable beauty but could not fathom how He might see Her. To show His favor, He spoke to Ixaziel and begged the Lord of Creation for a gift for the one He so admired."

A small smile touched her lips as she lowered her face to the sky, directing it once more towards the fire and the muted burble of water slowly reaching its boiling point. "Ixaziel did agree and devised of delicate, ethereal creations that would bloom at moonrise, rather than under the golden rays of Ristgir's light. Thus the night-blooming flowers were created, as a token of Ristgir's affections for the fair Pale Lady."

"I like to think it is true," Mara continued as she inched back towards the fire. "I suppose we will never know."
User avatar
Loxiel
Character
Level
03
48 / 48 HP
38 / 38 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 55c
Race: Fae and Shapeshifter
Class: Rogue
Posts: 47
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Into the Wild Pursuit

Post by Loxiel »

Loxiel had taken a seat near the fire, ruminating over the lesson Harroc was ensuring the young Changeling took in. No doubt Inya would be pleased as punch to hear that he was being so rigorously educated! But, Loxiel was still a 16 year old, and was prone to sulk now and then.

He waited by the fire, watching Mara work at making the tea, and listened as she told her tale. he had heard many myths and legends over his time, and he had always been too young to have been bothered by them much. Most of them had always included something to do with how the Fae got their magic and how terribly wonderful they were ... not the kind of stories a person like him, devoid of such talents, ever really enjoyed hearing about. It hardly bolstered one's self-esteem to listen to tales about how superior the Fae thought themselves for their natural affinity to magic.

But hearing Mara speak, in a measured and wise tone, Loxiel found himself transfixed with the story. Anything to do with Ixaziel always caught his attention, and he had never heard this particular tale before. He found himself hanging on every word; for how was he truly to honour the deity he claimed to worship when he knew so little about him? When Mara concluded her story, Loxiel took a moment before he said anything. "That's beautiful," he said, eventually. "I always thought of the gods as being ..." He struggled to find the words. "Well, I always thought of them as ... serparate. But the way you tell that story, it's like they're a ... family ... or something." He flushed a little, feeling stupid. He wished he hadn't said that last part. What did he really know of the ancient deities, when he had paid so little attention to them throughout his life.

"How is it you know so much?" He asked, boldly. "Did you spend so very much time in study?"
Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests