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PRP: Scouting The Lyceum - Part 1

Something is amiss in the Lyceum. Dreams and portents have set them on edge, telling tales of those that pass through the land, seeking to do it harm. Some say the city of Granato is in danger, others Ostria. Still more say that Tor is in danger, and then there's Setarco. It's concerning enough that the Lyceum has called for scouting parties to be sent out into the midst and see what can be discovered.

OOC: This is a multi-part plot for the Lyceum with some signups done in advance. @mail Quenia if you can make the time and are interested in being a backup for those who have been invited to the first leg of the plot.

Date

Feb. 29, 2020, 2 p.m.

Hosted By

Quenia

GM'd By

Quenia

Participants

Alessia Ian Vitalis Rowenova Kaia Thea

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Lyceum near Granato - Woodlands and Villages

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Rowenova before departing.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Rowenova before departing.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Thea before departing.

A month or so ago, Archduchess Jaenelle held a meeting of the Velenosa fealty to discuss the threats posed to the Lyceum, and as a result teams of people were placed together in order to scout the lands of the Lyceum for these threats. The threat? Lord Oberion Thornweave has been traversing the lands, with his merry band of the Knights of the Swarm. Vitalis, as a top-ranked member of the Mirrorguard is leading this particular mission, as it was the Mirrorguard the Archduchess put in charge. There have been varied reports in the area that the Sylv'alfar have been seen spotted around some of the more remote villages of the Lyceum, far away from any city. Following a lead, this is where Vitalis has chosen to start seeking out where they might be.

Riding out, Vitalis ensured that all were as prepared as he could make them for the dangers the group might face, ecouraging those present to share what they know as well. First, if any Thornweavers or Slyv'alfar are discovered, it is paramount not to offer names. Second, it is more important to report to the Archduchess, and volunteers are needed to carry word back if things get bleak. Contingencies.

Personally interested/invested in the Sylv'alfar/Thornweave activity as well as the esteemed protege of the Baroness Lucita Saik, Scout Rowenova not only signed up but also saddled up to head out with Lord Vitalis and associated company. She certainly appreciates any prior planning, as does Sir Floppington the Soulful Hound right beside her, too.

Ian is good at a number of things, but riding horses is not one of them. Someone has found for him an exceedingly patient, exceedingly lazy horse, however, and this saves him from any danger of falling off, at least. The horse seems to have a pretty good idea that her rider has no idea what he's doing, and thus is making her own decisions about where to go, rather than pay attention to any attempts at commands that he gives her. Fortunately, she's a team player, so while she insists on mostly ambling along, she at least sticks with the other horses.

Riding behind the others, the youngest Malvici is looking quite comfortable on her horse. Thea is here for a few reasons, but much of it is personal. Her gold-flecked green eyes take everything in, her surroundings, whatever else of important. She's already shared whatever necessary with those that needed to know, and now--it's time to work.

Following along atop her steed, Alessia seems comfortable on the saddle, though the half mask pulled up keeps any discernible expression concealed. Her amber eyes are alert, on the lookout for anything of use to their search. Her weapons and equipment are tied to the horse.

Kaia, garbed in her basic leather armor, would be riding on a borrowed horse - right next to Thea. Truly, her sister in law was one of the main reasons she had chosen to come along, aside from an odd dream she had long ago.

Vitalis checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 0 higher.

Rowenova checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 33 higher.

Thea checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 14 higher.

Kaia checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 22 higher.

Alessia checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 37 higher.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 28 higher.

With all informed as best he may ensure, those on patrol will find he isn't the man of easy smiles and good humor they know in the City. Senses trained forward, to the sides, all around, sharp for sign of their elusive foes in these hinterlands and the villages. His thoughts are thick with the tactics they might employ, what they might meet, scenarios playing out, jockeying for his attention.

As they travel through this particular area, Rowenova pipes up, "All this brush seems thicker than it might normally be." Sir Floppington picks his way through as much as the grey horse of short stature that Nova currently rides.

What was once a well-traveled road seems to be narrowing more and more as the vegetation encroaches upon it. Up ahead, the outlines of a village start to appear, but it's easy to see a decision will need to be made on how they are traveling, as soon they'll only be able to walk single file.

Ian is almost definitely the last in the line, because his horse is going to refuse to put in the work required to not be last. He seems okay with this. Either that, or he's resigned himself to just letting his damned horse be in control of what they do.

Nodding at Rowenova's words as they ride along, Alessia raises a brow, squinting at the brush. "Almost as if it was arranged that way." She slows her trot as something seems to catch her eye, before she pulls on her reigns, lifting a hand to warn the person directly behind her. "I see something...." She says. "Under the bush. It looks like...." She squints. "A foot." She dismounts.

When the others speak, Vitalis' attention slews that way sharply. Trusting Alessia to investigate, he studies the brush, looking for signs of it being deliberate. Eyes move slowly to Thea, a question writ in his expression before he turns attention back to the village beyond, the treeline, the undergrowth, anything he might see or discern the pattern here. "Human foot?" He asks, still mounted, he rubs his horse's neck. It whickers.

Thea halts her horse, eyebrow lifted at Nova's words. I mean, she's been listening to the rest of the conversation, but when you hear "foot" that's hiding under a bush, you tend to pay even more attention. Thea has her dagger on her person, dismounting,"Can I look,"going to walk over.

After giving pause for 'print' or 'step' to possibly append Alessia's words, the fact that it might be a body part that she indicates actually dawns upon Rowenova who momentarily scans their surroundings atop her horse.

Ian draws up his horse with enough force to make her pay attention and stop, while he scans the brush with a sharp eye, looking like he's right on the edge of dismounting.

Still mounted, Kaia watches from afar with evident curiosity, as Alessia dismounts her steed to inspect the...foot? Her lively blue-grey eyes widen a little at the sound of that, still she remains quiet for the moment. A glance directed to Thea just before she dismounts her own horse to accompany Alessia; and then, another glance directed towards Ian and his horse, before returning her attention to those talking.

"I think so." Alessia says in response to her cousin, though she doesn't sound entirely sure, until she inches closer, kneeling by the brush to inspect the body part a little closer.

Vitalis tenses as Alessia leans close to the bushes. He's heard things. Reins, squeezed, creak in his hands. "Cousin, you've a bloodly great poke-y staff... can you prod it and, mmh, not stick your face in there..." It's a bleak bit of humor, gently offered, terse for the worry. "Acorn Hill vanished under something like this." He swallows. His horse dances a step. He assesses everyone's locations: Alessia dismounted, Thea dismounted, Rowenova mounted, Ian mounted, Kaia mounted.

Vitalis checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 80 higher. Vitalis rolled a critical!

Kaia takes a precious alaricite bow from a black backpack with two pockets.

Vitalis barks, sharp, eyes flung wide, "Stop. There." His horse dances a step again, the young lord's arm outflung, finger pointed sharply near Alessia. Following the line of his arm others can look to see what he saw. "Vine. 's not like the others."

Ian slides off his horse and promptly ends up on the ground, as his legs give out under suddenly being asked to bear his weight. He struggles back to his feet, pushing up with the help of his cane, and draws an alaricite blade from within it. His horse watches, roundly unimpressed.

After a quick flick of her cobalt-blue eyes to Vitalis, Rowenova quickly pans her intense gaze from him to where he is apparently indicating. She closely watches the 'wrong' vine, gets down from her short horse, and pulls on her diamondplate gauntlets. If there is still time, she will also apply her diamonplate footgarb, too. Meanwhile, Sir Floppington lifts up his sensitive nose and momentarily sniffs!

When Vitalis points out the issue with the vines, its not all too readily apparent. The bushes and overgrowth in the area are very thick, and it's not easy to determine just how it's all so thick. But after a small bit of searching without touching, the group can see it. A single vine has snaked its way into the bush, curling in and out of the branches, and on that vine is razor sharp thorns that could easily dig and cut into a person. Nasty stuff, that. Upon closer inspection, the vine doesn't seem to be wrapped around the foot that's exposed, but that doesn't mean there's not more to it.

Rising abruptly, Alessia ceases her investigation into the mysterious foot, turning back to her horse with the glaive strapped to the saddle. She pauses, returning her gaze to where her cousin points, before resuming brandishing her weapon. "Right... one of those vines." She nods back to the foot. "I wonder if we can find the rest of the person underneath."

Alessia wields Requiem - an ancient glaive with an iridescite handle.

Thea stops and hears Vitalis. Her hand already goes to Skystrike,"Seriously?" She better starts to investigate her surroundings, eyeing the foot AND vines.

Thea wields Skystrike, the finely crafted diamondplate kopis.

"Anyone have a flask? Something that'll store liquid?" Ian asks. He paces carefully towards the vine, and lifts the shaft part of his cane in such a way that indicates he's about to prod gently at it.

Of course, it would be the Northerner who reaches down to her weapons belt and pulls off a whiskey flask she passes over toward Ian. There is a little clacking from her diamondplate-clad fingers making contact with the metal flask.

As Vitalis pointed out the odd vine, Kaia's eyes would follow from afar. Her attention on the group, as they moved in to inspect further. As she recalled, the only time she had seen a vine like that before was in a dream. Still, she said nothing on the matter. She would squint from afar - a bit hesitant to dismount- she would remain on her horse still; pulling her bow off her right shoulder and getting it ready just in case.

Ian hands the flask back to Rowenova. "There's a waterskin in my saddlebags. If we're going to dump something out, it should be water. Get that for me and hold it ready. Lady Eirene said she needs the sap from these vines."

Vitalis eyes the mass of brush and leaves, eyes tight at Ian's tumble, but turning attention to the vine. "I've one filled with holy water. Both might be useful." His voice is gravelly. He'll maintain his position atop his horse, keep an eye on things. He looks at Alessia unlimbering her glaive, Rowenova donning gear, Ian about to prod, Thea... "Lady Thea," Vitalis' eyes scan the direction the vine comes from, "You know a bit about plants. Do you think this one'll react strongly to getting prodded? Or cut? Any of you." He glances to Thea and the others.

Nodding when Vitalis poses his question to Thea, Alessia turns to her friend as if to say. 'Well.....?"

Thea exhales, looking at the vine,"You'll piss it off, if that's what I think it is. But if I'm righ,"her gold-flecked green eyes on Ian,"Ian and my aunt Eirene have--worked with them, yes?" She is also quick to add,"Piss them off, and theyll wrap around around you. They scream and bleed...." She shudders, remembering the feel of the thorns.

After Ian explains the situation, Rowenova happily accepts the flask back and quietly utters a quick thanks for not having poured out good whiskey. Thus she again fastens said flask to her weapons belt. Then, she brings back that mentioned waterskin which she starts emptying on the way back. On her way, she also offers a hand up for that holy water that Vitalis mentioned, if he wishes for it to be readied up, too.

Vitalis flips the satchel sack open, fishes out the vial and hands it to Rowenova, prayers murmured as he presses it into her hand.

Ian motions to Thea. "Get the horses back a little ways, then. Just in case. They're not armored." Which implies he's just fine with risking getting tangled in the thorny vines. Once Rowenova's back with something to potentially store the sap in, he'll prod gently at the vine with his cane, trying to get it to wrap around the wooden shaft, while keeping his sword at the ready.

Thea looks up to Kaia,"Kaia, you want to shoot from there if needed,"already starting to lead the horses from the vines. She of course will return to butcher whatever-not the first time.

Kaia grins at Thea, as she approaches with the horses. "Oh, will that be necessary? I could, but, I do believe Lord Ian may have it under control for now, no?" she points out with a glance at his sword.

Rowenova checked intellect + alchemy at difficulty 30, rolling 6 higher.

At the gentle prodding, the vine seems to 'wake up', where before it wasn't moving. It wiggles a bit, but then prodding doesn't really pose a danger to it so much. If a plant could seem annoyed, then it's mildly annoyed. It seems like it tries to shrug it off, like one would a fly that landed on their shoulder, but doesn't lash out at or wrap around the cane.

Vitalis nods, "We're not precisely equipped to get a sample gently." He lowers his voice, eyes going wide, "We need to be careful of names." He shakes his head... lips pressed flat. Vitalis and Thea press back with the horses.

Ian lifts the vine and slices neatly through it with his sword, drawing back a few steps as he does so. He'll hand the shaft of the cane with vine over to Nova as quickly as he can, fully prepared to immediately have to defend her.

Rowenova checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 30, rolling 30 higher.

Ian checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 30, rolling 18 higher.

The vine was perfectly happy being wrapped around the cane. No harm no foul. It even allowed itself to be pulled out into the open, stretching itself out a bit to be exposed to the sun. But the moment that Ian slices through it, the loose part whips out at him, and then again at Rowenova, as though aware she is there, attempting to snare one of them. It leaps back and forth, continuing to attempt to go after them. Unfortunately, this means that there is no easy way to examine more about the foot.

Carefully watching Nova and Ian, ready to strike at a moments notice. And that moment appears to be now as she starts to move.

With the holy flask and the slender neck of the leather waterskin within her right hand, Nova deftly accepts the sliced shaft of the cut vine and carefully guides the bleeding part to the open cap on that empty waterskin. Staying alert, if anything comes her way, she adjusts accordingly, side stepping the whipping vines which nearly cut her. Her side-to-side motions are also accompanied by backwards motion to mayhaps put a good distance between any snaring attempt that those thornweave vines might try while still hanging on to the sliced piece she still has in her left hand, milking out as much vine blood as she possibly can.

Ian isn't interested in the foot right now. The foot belongs to a person who is probably well past help. Eirene wanted vine juice, and his intention, right now, is to get her vine juice -- as much as he can figure out how to acquire. He backpedals, fending off the vine with his sword so that Nova can focus on what she's doing.

Alessia watches the two intently, frowning as the vine starts to -react- badly. She keeps her grip on the glaive but doesn't seem inclined to intervene, unless they start to get squished.

Made possible by Ian's protection, Nova completely drains the severed piece of bleeding vine into the leather waterskin before deftly capping it. "Got it!" says she. She offers out the thorny length of 4-5 feet toward Ian.

At Vitalis warning, Kaia's eyebrows would lift with a bit of curiosity and concern. "Oh, why is that, my lord? Do you think they can...?" she would ask, hushed, the rest of the sentence a quiet gesture: A motion from the vine to one of her ears - directed at Vitalis. Her eyes moving to the slightly nervous horses, before taking note of the vine whipping at both Ian and Rowenova. Then to Thea moving in closer with her sword at the ready. Instinctively, she would raise her bow and aim it at the thing; still, she would not shoot - not yet, anyway - but instead watch them and what they would do before taking any further action.

Vitalis hisses as the vine starts whipping around, murmuring low to the horses if they show signs of starting or startling. He looks off to the village, squints at the brush, where did that vine /go/? Commotion around the vine draws his attention back there, teeth bared, he's not particularly in a position to help, save the most useful of comments offered by those not faced with swinging thorn vines of dire origin. "I wonder where it goes." Is it screaming yet? There were reports of screaming. To Kaia, he can only offer a shrug, "I couldn't say. Let's hope not. But best to practice."

There is no screaming from this end of the vine. But, maybe that's because the thing that would actually do the screaming is dead, as evidenced by the not moving foot underneath the bush.

Ian waits for Nova to finish with what she's doing. Once he has his cane back, he uses his sword to scrape the cut vine off of it. "I think I can get more," he says, looking to Vitalis. "Should we hang around to do that, or go straight to the village?"

Kaia nods at Vitalis, her own eyes looking further away towards the village as he does. "Perhaps we should go further and inspect that village?" she adds, with a small bob of her head ahead.

"Do you need help?" Alessia eventually asks Ian, lifting her glaive ever so slightly.

Vitalis nods at Ian, "Get as much as you can. We can't be certain we'll have more opportunities. And we should learn who-" his lips press flat again, "-that foot belongs too. Good odds its someone from the village. They'll want to know, I'd wager."

Thea twitches her lips at Ian as she answers him. Even though he didn't ask her. "Knowing Aunt Eirene, she is going to try and come back to get more of what you miss. Because you missed it. Whether you tell her you did or not." She too steps closer,"I'll help too."

After the blood collection, Nova quickly stashes the holy-water flask into her fur-topped bootie then fully focuses on constantly safeguarding the leather waterskin (which she opens back up now that there is talk of round 2).

Alessia checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 45, rolling 12 higher.

Alessia checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 45, rolling 95 higher. Alessia rolled a critical!

Rowenova checked dexterity + brawl at difficulty 45, rolling 10 lower.

Ian retreats to his saddlebags for a moment, and retrieves from there a horrible nightmare of a scarf. Despite the smell coming off of it, he wraps it around his nose and mouth, then draws his goggles over his eyes. He might be cavalier about getting grabbed by the razor thorns, but he clearly doesn't want any spraying vine juice on his skin. And then he goes back in.

Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 45, rolling 30 higher.

Ian checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 45, rolling 2 higher.

Thea checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 45, rolling 21 higher.

Rowenova checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 45, rolling 52 higher.

Thea checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 45, rolling 6 lower.

Thea checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 1 higher.

Taking the lack of objection as an invitation to help out, Alessia shrugs and begins to striking the vine, allowing the mystery liquid to drip into the empty flasks. She deftly dodges any attempts to restrain, block or entwine her, by the vine.

Vitalis's teeth bare as the vine, wakened, thrashes. He continues to sit his horse, which whickers in unease, watching out for dangers beyond the one in their midst.

Thea starts to hit away at the vine, helping out at the aspect of things. Nice solid swings.

Reaching out her primary hand, Rowenova tries grabbing the thrashing vine, but it just looks as though she is flailing around because she never quite catches said vine, too distracted with making sure her other arm keeps the open waterskin held steady. At one part, the vine end shoots out at kneecap level, and she just barely backs away at the right moment, or she would have to have a wooden wheelchair forever more, most likely. "Oh my!" she quickly gasps about the near-invalid situation. She stays back just enough now, to not be unduly struck but still accept vine pieces offered back her way.

It takes the concerted efforts of the group to hack and slash at the vine, for it is a fiesty beastie that does not want to be hacked and slashed, and in turn it goes after each person making an attempt at it, until finally it takes hold of Thea, and starts to wrap itself around her wrist. It is only with the slightest bit of luck that Alessia was there at that moment, for she was able to cut the very end of the vine off, right at the bush, just as it was about to dig deep razor like thorns into Thea's arm. She doesn't come out unscathed though, as it did end up scratching her before it caught hold.

20 inflicted and Thea is unharmed.

Ian uses the same strategy as the first time, enticing the vine to wrap around the shaft of his cane and slicing through it with his sword, while sidestepping another bit that flails in his direction. He brings any vine bits he gets back to Nova for 'milking'.

Thea feels the vine wrap around and around her wrist and she braces herself for the pain she knows that will come. But then--Alessia comes and slices the thorns away, and she smiles aside at her, relieved,"Thank you." Thea looks down, knowing there will be scratches.

With the vine retreated and the overgrowth as safe-seeming as they could hope, Vitalis dismounts, summoning a Mirrorguard Bracer forward to mind their horses. "Let's see about this foot." He sets to, hacking and sawing at the undergrowth with a brush knife.

It is bloody business, but Nova quickly accepts the oozing pieces, making sure that they are deftly directed to the waterskin opening and trying hard to ultimately optimize the collection process.

Ian keeps half an eye on the proceedings as Vitalis cuts the brush away, but most of his attention is on helping with getting the blood out of the vine. The scarf has served him well, keeping his face from getting spattered during the collection process.

The foot leads to a body. It is, or was, human in form. That's about the best identifying mark one can find. In truth, once pulled out from beneath the bush, the body looks badly mangled. The flesh is torn away in some places, where thorns might have pierced it. The body is also completely sanguinated, the skin wrinkled, grayed, and collapsed from sitting out in the weather. Almost mummified, if not for the fact that it was sitting under a bush, collecting any moisture that might have settled beneath. There's not even dried blood around the corpse, showing just how greedy the vines might have been in draining it dry. Though, curious, there is at least one section of the body where it looks like it might have been stabbed with something larger.

Vitalis checked intellect + investigation at difficulty 35, rolling 1 higher.

Thea checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 20, rolling 32 higher.

Alessia checked intellect + investigation at difficulty 35, rolling 22 higher.

Vitalis likewise keeps half an eye on the vine-milking operation, expression growing grave as the body is revealed. Shriveled, sucked dry. "Gods." He makes a symbol on his chest, The Wheel, prayer for the person's soul reflexively offered. He squints, spotting the extra other wound and pointing at it, looking to the others to see if they note it or anything about it. He looks to Alessia and Thea, "Some kind of blade?" He shakes his head. "Anything identifying about ... him?" That's not even totally clear.

Kaia on her part, lowers the bow and relaxes once the threat seems to be neutralized. She watches them pull and inspect the body - from the top of her horse. The foul smell of the drained corpse having her frown in disgust, before pulling a handkerchief from her backpack and bringing it up to cover her mouth and nose. At last choosing to dismount and approach the others -to take a closer look.

Kaia checked intellect + investigation at difficulty 35, rolling 3 lower.

"A sword, I'd guess." Alessia says, studying the body, nose scrunching at the smell. "Doesn't strike me as anything with extended reach, or an axe."

After draining out as much blood as she possibly can from the vine pieces, Rowenova caps off the leather waterskin once more. She steps back and wraps up the bloody bag of sloshing liquid in a buffer towel and then stashes away that whole bundle in Ian's saddlebag once more. "Don't forget to not drink it."

Ian loosens, then removes that horrible scarf. But rather than stuff it in his saddlebags, he loops it up like a whip and secures it to his belt about where his sword would be if he were wearing one. He uses a cloth to clean off the blade of his sword and slides it back into his cane.

Checking to make sure Nova and Ian have the vines under control, Thea goes over to check the body. Kneeling down, she begins to examine it closer,"No. You both are right." She looks shell of a man and shakes her head,"Anything used to identify him is unfortunately gone."

Turning back to the expedition party, Nova pipes up, "Good work." Then, the Wolf Scout curiously asks Thea, "Did you dig in the dirt below and be sure that nothing fell off from him?"

Vitalis nods at Alessia. Thea. He glances at the sap duly stowed, Thea's scrapes, "Are those going to be okay? Are the thorns dangerous? Or the sap?" Are they sticky, the vine milkers? He gestures the Mirrorguard over, "We're going to approach the village. When we've passed, put this brush back and keep the horses off the road. I am not sure, but we should approach carefully," he looks to where the vine lurks in the overgrowth, "Even if ...something already knows to expect us." \

"Aye, aye." Alessia says to her cousin's command. Though her tone may appear teasing, she does keep her attention on Vitalis, indicating she'll follow his lead.

Rowenova checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 9 higher.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 39 higher.

Thea checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 26 higher. Thea rolled a critical!

Alessia checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 3 lower.

Vitalis checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 33 higher.

Kaia checked perception + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 23 higher.

Nova picks up a random stick and then scrapes through the dirt there, but then there does not seem to be anything there worth seeing. "Hmm." She then chucks away the dirty stick into the brush beyond, a far flung throw.

Now that the commotion is over, everyone save for Alessia can hear the lack of sound in the area. No frogs, birds, or even bugs so much as make any noise here. The only noise is the crunching of the party's footsteps on the dried grass or leaves beneath their feet as they head toward the village. The path gets narrower and narrower, and as they get closer to the village they can see why. The vine that they saw about two or three miles away, is suddenly thousands upon thousands of vines. But, there's still enough space to walk through, which suggests that something, or someone has come this way before. The other thing that they notice is that this is not a village of peers; this is a village of shav'arvani. Or, it was. The vines have covered absolutely everything here. They've caved in homes, wrapped around poles, warped wood. Nothing survived here. At least, nothing that the eye can see. The vines in this area appear to be dormant, at the moment, but rest assured that they likely know something is in the area. Every now and again one wiggles or shakes, and an end perks up and then goes back down. It's much like a fly trap, waiting to ensnare those that get too close or brush upon them. For now, though, those walking along the path are lucky. Then there are the bodies. Oh, so many bodies. They're ensnared in the vines, and in some cases the vines have grown through them, seemingly many months dead; and the vines have not discriminated between large humans or small ones. No one was spared. This might very well be a scene that Thea has seen once before, not that long ago. One most move carefully here, else they may find themselves ensnared.

Kaia takes a steel and red gold serpent hairpin with sapphire eyes from a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia takes Red Raptor Cloak from a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia takes Reinforced Malvici-Raptor Bodice from a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia takes Malvici Raptor Bracers from a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia takes Red Leather Hand Wraps from a black backpack with two pockets.

Is Vitalis silently praying? YES HE IS. The man's lips move, tracing the scales of his armor, like a rosary as he works his way through the pantehon, lingering at the scale he associates with Petrichor. That scale might be extra smoothed by the time this venture is over. And then there are the bodies. He draws a soft breath, mouth shaping regret at the tiny bodies in there with all the rest. And then like smoke or mist, that sadness is replaced by anger, deep and banked. He has no words, perhaps fears speaking.

Kaia takes Side Laced Leather Pants from a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia takes Malvici Raptor Leather Boots from a black backpack with two pockets.

Both she and Sir Floppington move carefully, the latter to be sure not to wag... not that he would have much reason to do so, considering the twisted scenario which is laid out before them here. Rowenova frowns deeply about it all, too, picking out the holywater flask from her fur-topped boot and handing back said flask his way, since he is the praying one. Mayhaps, it is best used by him.

You know what else is on the list of things Ian's not good at? Tromping through the wilderness, moving on a narrow path between tangles of man eating vines. As such, he once again winds up a little behind everyone else, his attention firmly fixed on the ground and his own footsteps so there's no chance of him tripping. When everyone else draws up, he looks around and shakes his head. "I've seen something like this before."

Thea steps ahead, slowly-carefuly before she suddenly stops. What is that SOUND? With great care, she looks closer, pointing out to the others,"Do you see that?" IT'S MOVING! Thea points out clusters, attached to the vines. "I -think- the vines feed from these, and I -think-,"Thea inspects some more as the vines are wrapped around them,"They might still hold food." She walks around the village, seeing them around, in placed that are difficult to reach. She frowns a bit, at the scene here. So familiar here--

Vitalis's voice is low, "'Food.' You mean people." Vitalis looks to the clusters, Thea points out.

"People have meat." Alessia points out grimly, as she trots along. "So bits of people are in those?" She nods up at the clusters.

Kaia puts violet shadows wrapped in a low-cut dress with floor-pooling sleeves in a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia puts south seas starflower and golden pearls haircomb in a black backpack with two pockets.

Kaia puts a pair of pristine white slippers in a black backpack with two pockets.

Rowenova stays quiet but hears out everyone else, especially Sir Floppington who is not happy with all this. He lets out a low whine at the Northern lass who has basically gotten them both into this tangled mess, most literally. "You are the best..." she quietly tells him. She probably would have said 'boy' but he is often called that like it is an alternate name, so she only trails off there.

Snapping her attention back to the others, a haunted look in her gold-flecked green eyes, Thea clears her throat before answering,"People. They are people."

Vitalis checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.

Alessia checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Kaia would simply walk along with the group, observing the surroundings carefully and taking in the scene with both shock and sadness of her own. Her attention shifting to the clusters Thea was pointing at with a bit of horror present in her features.

Vitalis suppresses a shiver, instead shifting from one foot to the other. He swallows, "Do you think there's a way we could coax those open without-" he pales a bit, swallowing again as he looks at the dormant mass /everywhere/ all around. "-upsetting anything." He takes a deep breath, meant to be steadying, but it serves to fill his nose and lungs with the strange air. He reaches for a handkerchief and finds a sheaf, puzzles at it, reads. "We have a Mirrorguard report from Tommaso," he gestures back up the hill, "He just joined us up there, gave me this it seems. It's relevant." He finishes skimming the sheaf and hands it around. Vitalis will have to have a chat with Tommaso about their sparring to sneak things onto one another when the stakes are high.

Ian looks up at the vines. "Maybe with an animal carcass," he muses. Not that they have an animal carcass.

Thea refrains from saying her niece would be a a year old now, if not for this mess in front of her. Nope. Instead she squares her shoulders and answers Vitalis,"I dont know. How do some dogs feel if you take their food? You just saw what happens when you cut them,"her tone grave as she looks back at the clusters. When she hears Ian, Thea dips her head in agreement. "But the village..I mean. Do you -see- anyone?"

"So these are all probably alive." Alessia says, almost as though speaking her thoughts aloud. "Should some of us walk around and check for survivors? Or all of us... since it's not the type of place you want to wander around in twos or alone."

There are no readily apparent paths that get to any of the tightly knit clusters. It seems the only way to do so would be to actually attempt to wade through the vines themselves, or to create a path through them somehow.

Kaia seems thoughtful for a moment and then she glances over to Ian. "You don't need any more sap from these, do you? We may have been able to fend just //one// back there." she gestures to where they came from, briefly. "But //this//..." she says motioning to all the dangerous looking vines around them. "I definitely do not wish to wake them up..." she says that last sentence more quietly. Goosebumps running up her spine at the thought. Her gaze moving around and about as if to see if there was anything worth noting.

After staying quiet for some time, Nova pipes up, "What if we use oil and fire?"

If we're trying to get those people out alive, we'd have to be careful with fire," Ian comments.

Ian checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 26 higher.

Vitalis checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 20 higher.

Alessia checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 24 higher.

Thea shakes her head, her lips thin,"The ones that are moving. They may be--alive. There's a chance."

Kaia checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 14 higher.

Thea checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.

"The more sap, the better in all honesty." Alessia says to Kaia.

Rowenova checked perception at difficulty 10, rolling 13 higher.

Nova pipes up, "Well, we could try to come up with an alchemical or mechanical distraction of sorts, so the vines might attack it, while we try to break whoever is in there out of there."

Vitalis nods slowly at Thea, looks at Floppington. He nods, "I thought as much." He turns attention to Ian and what the man uttered. "We stay together." He makes good on that easing closer to the others. Not so close a good vine swipe could take the lot of them out, but ... closer. He nods firmly, giving a shake of his head at Alessia, "We've got all the sap we'll get. If one vine was dangerous, and we wake this whole place... No one will know what we've seen." And THAT is why he asked that someone volunteer to carry information back. Noting also that no one did. "Yes. No fire." He looks at Thea, agreeing with her sentiment. "Maybe nightfall they'll drowse?" Flowers sleep, right?

Kaia grimaces at Alessia's comment. "Oh...I'm not saying it isn't...is just..." she pauses and gulps. "How would we fend against all //that//?" she adds, gesturing once more at the vines - which surely outnumber them.

As the group stands around talking, the question of whether or not anything is alive is answered for them, for as they discuss things everyone can start to hear a low keening sound. It's the first sound they've heard, outside of themselves, since walking down the three mile trek from the first vine they saw. It's filled with pain and terror, the sounds of torture really.

After taking stock of the situation here, Nova kneels closer to Sir Flop and quietly whispers to him.

Sir Floppington gently licks Rowenova's face, then turns around and peels out of the area, being extremely careful not to go anywhere near the vines.

Vitalis checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Nova leans slightly so that her cheek brushes Flop on his back on his way out, so as not to touch him with her grody gauntlets. She stands back up after he has ultimately escaped.

Vitalis takes a deep breath, "We came here to see what was happening. We have." His mouth dries even as the keening rises. He swallows, expression hard, but eyes bright, "Archer," no names, "When we're near clear. If you can get a shot," he points at the keening, "Take it." Suppressing a shudder, Vitalis, trembling, turns and begins to make his way out.

Kaia says, "Frankly...I do not wish to die here. I do not wish to poke around these things...we saw what just one did back there. It...it would be madness..." she says, a grimace once more on her face at the sound of the tortured screams. "Oh gods...have mercy..."

Ian hesitates to follow Vitalis. He scans the area, sharp eyes taking in details. "I need meat with blood in it. If you can get me that, I can get that person out," he decides.

The sounds of screams seem to draw a perplexed look from Alessia, which fades as she stares at the cluster. She shakes off the confusion and turns to Vitalis. "Long range. Good idea."

Ian checked wits at difficulty 10, rolling 15 higher.

Thea looks at the cluster, the one with the screaming. She closes her eyes for the briefest of moments, as if remembering something. Looking to Ian, she decides and asks him,"What else you doing,"nodding to Vitalis as he leaves. "I have my daggers well, if it's needed."

Vitalis stops in his tracks, "Talk quickly, man," he's looking at Ian.

Nova speaks up, "We could light up one cluster, and while the vines focus on that particular one, we can break out another one. One is better than none?"

Vitalis shakes his head, "As soon as we did that, that half-mile stretch of getting the hells out of here would close up tight as a miser's fist." A miser's fist full of thorns.

The sound is muffled somewhat, coming from much further away from the earlier one, but a second keening joins the first, sounding just as horrid and nightmarish as the first. There's wiggling and movement in the first cluster, a struggle that lasts only a minute or more before the struggling stops. The keening sound from the first sounds more forlorn; touched with an unsettling hopelessnes.

After hearing out Vitalis, Nova solemnly nods before heading off toward where her hero Floppers and the horses and what not are. Apparently, she will choose to walk away, for now, from the immediate danger and those keening sounds.

ICly, Ian has just commented that he thinks he can get the person out if he has a piece of bloody meat. It wouldn't be hard to follow his train of thought. Then the second keening starts up, and he shakes his head. "I can get the closest one. You'll have to shoot the others."

Kaia would begin to walk away along with Vitalis, stopping just slightly further away when Ian makes a suggestion. Her features hold nothing else but fear, and she seems to be holding her bow quite tightly. Perhaps too tightly. Her eyes moving here and there, glancing at the vines, the numerous vines wriggling about, the clusters and wincing at every sound of torture being let out nearby.

Thea squeezes her eyes tightly,"I--might be able to aim at,"she swallows thickly but continues,"at one. And help Ian with the the closest one." Thea flinches at every sound from the clusters, watching as they move. "I need a drink."

Glancing up once again, Alessia furrows her brows at the sounds emanating from the clusters. Though she seems to lose her resolve once she absorbs the risks involved in the endeavor, and the forlorn sounds don't seem to change her mind.

After she finally exits the danger zone, Nova kneels down to gently kiss Flop upon his floppy-eared noggin before standing up. As she turns around to look back toward the destroyed village, Nova pulls around her recurve bow and gets out a single arrow from her belt quiver under her direwolf cloak. Apparently, she can ready up a mercy kill for yet another person who is tangled up.

Vitalis looks at Ian, the details of a plan sketched, the potential cost, the risks, the chance of their lives against those tortured, agony in what are like to be their final moments. "I am responsible for your lives." The keening rises, and he closes his eyes hard. Swallows. Opens his eyes again, "We will not leave them to be tortured, if we can help it." He pauses, "Go. Bring Tommaso's horse." It's not a request. He'll wait, now.

Rowenova says, "Before we all do anything, come pet this one."

Nova head jerks her wolf-framed noggin toward Sir Floppington so soulful.

While preparations are made offscreen, Ian... he prays. Ian. Prays. Let that sink in for a moment, because there's no questioning that's what he's doing, lowering his head the way he is, murmuring under his breath at length. It sounds... personable. Like he's talking directly to someone.

Vitalis isn't aware of the import of Ian, of all men, praying, his own faith a readier thing. But Vitalis, too, prays. For all of them.

Rowenova checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 40, rolling 10 higher.

Kaia checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 40, rolling 2 higher.

Vitalis checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 18 higher.

Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 60 higher. Ian rolled a critical!

Vitalis looks at Kaia, "You're the one. You'll take word back if this fails."

Ian checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 40, rolling 1 lower.

Vitalis checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 40, rolling 20 higher.

Ian checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.

With a thinning of her lips, Thea steps back and simply starts taking out medical supplies. You need to be prepared. Inwardly, she's hating herself for not being able to save anyone in those ckusters.

Kaia checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.

30 inflicted and Ian is unharmed.

Alessia watches them as they attempt to free one of the poor souls stuck. Her skin seems to pale, especially as she awaits the response from the vines.

Rowenova checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 30, rolling 15 higher.

The plan is this. God dammit they are going rescue someone even if it gets them all killed! Or, at least, most of them killed, as it stands. And so, one by one, each person who is determined to help to get to that one victim dives in and does so. Oh, the vines react. Boy do they react. They flail. They stab. They spear. And as they do, the low keening, torturous sounds turns to screams of terror, but those two screams now turn into a chorus of screams as now all of the victims have been awoken. And the voices, so, so many voices, that join them, are numerous. Too many to count. What they saw was just the clusters that were on the side of the village they could see, not the ones that were on the back half, hidden by the wooden beams, or the metal awnings, or the roofs that have collapsed. But they can get one. Just one, and they do manage to do this, collectively, through shared efforts. But they are unable to do for themselves, and thus rely on the party to grab them and go, once they do get their one freed.

Once the meat is prepared from a source that will not be discussed, stuffed into a sturdy rucksack that won't leak and can be worn on Ian's back, Ian climbs a tree and scrambles with care over a rooftop, testing to make sure the roof isn't going to collapse under him, testing to make sure there's not some vine waiting, hidden from view. His progress is agonizingly slow. When he gets to where the person was moaning, he ties his scarf around his waist and ties himself to some sturdy object, a tree or pole, to make it harder for something that wants to pull him in to do so. Weapon held at the ready, he hands off the meat.

At first, it goes well. It goes very, very well. The vines part, and Ian uses his cane to knock them aside further with a perfectly placed strike long enough for him to get his arm in and grab someone. He's doing it. He's going to do it.

Then one of the vines in the cluster grabs his arm. Overbalanced with the weight of an entire person (probably a person), it doesn't take much force to pull him in...

Except his scarf holds. It hold. Ian makes an 'oof' noise as the breath is knocked out of him from the sudden pressure of it on his stomach, but he's able to fall back with his charge in his arms. Thanks to his scarf, thanks to the steelsilk lining his beat up leather coat, he's unharmed.

Vitalis raises his own keen against the voices shrieking, maybe to counter the harmonics in his ears, maybe... he's just screaming. He takes the presumably goo-covered mass from Ian as the man falls and catches. Gods. He dragsthe poor bastard away, Mandate alive in his hands, held aloft, like a talisman, to block the swipes of vines as he hustles, stumbles, needs help - gets it - Kaia and Thea at the end of the gauntlet. What is even left of the one they saved... was it a mercy at all? He collapses when they're free and curls around ... nothing. He's just curled there.

At the right time, Nova lets go of the strung arrow which is sent forth to ultimately sink into only one of the poor souls which have been cluster fucked. She lets out a battle cry of a held note to drown out the screaming chorus, doing so as she leaps away from the thorny vines which vainly attempt to stab deep into her. Though, her Northern yell barely makes any comparable noise, not really working. She dashes away from the wriggling mess of 'weaving thorns', zig-zagging away!

Following right after Rowenova, Kaia and a gathered group of (npc) archers set their flamed arrows into the air. Their targets as many of those clusters as possible. Gods have mercy on them all and allow them a final rest. A silent prayer given in her mind, right before the group begins to move back to dodge the angered vines stirring torwards them.

There's something wrong, something very, very wrong, with how calm Ian is (once he catches his breath from his scarf saving his ass). There's something very wrong with how easily he can leave those keening voices behind, having risked everything to save the one he thought he could save. There's something wrong with how easily he moves to the next step, calling Thea over to treat the person he just saved, making sure the Mirrorguard don't break under the strain of listening to all those screams while the survivor is stabilized for travel. He's not 'I am repressing intense emotions behind a stone wall' calm. He is literally at peace with what's happening right now, or close enough to it. And when it comes time to leave, there is something very wrong with the fact that he only looks back to make sure they're not being followed.

Nudging Thea when the 'rescued' man rests on the floor, curled, Alessia rushes toward him. She peers down at him, a grimace on her lips. "Malvici." She calls, warily.

Rushing over, medical supplies in hand, Thea kneels next to the man. She leans down and murmurs to him as she begins to get to work.. Trying to ignore the screams in the background.

Thea checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 40, rolling 17 higher.

Vitalis is also so goo-covered, his own cousin didn't recognize him... he uncurls, pushes to hands and knees, swallows. Steels himself, and pushes upright, using Mandate to do so. He swipes his hand over his face, goo glistening in his beard. He grates, glaring not at Alessia, but through her, "Where is a stream."

Alessia checked charm + empathy at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.

Extending a hand to help her cousin up, Alessia furrows her brow. "You did the best that you could." She says gently, trying to exhibit empathy. "One day, we'll have the means to save more. And end this suffering."

Rowenova checked luck + alchemy at difficulty 35, rolling 135 higher. Rowenova rolled a critical!

Moving closer to Thea's side, Nova helps out with efficently-timed assistance, offering out belt vials of helpful Alchemy.

Vitalis blinks, eyes snapping into focus on Alessia's face, sensing her there abruptly, close. Gentleness... furrows his brow. He looks at her a long moment, chest tight, and nods. A jerky halting thing. Sure. His best.

Thea, now covered in goo and gross, looks up to Nova and thanks her. She continues to work on the man, using the awesomeness of whatever is in the vials that Nova made.

It's literally nearly three miles of running for everyone to get to safety. Running and dodging and more running, pushed near to the point of exhaustion if not used to doing such a thing in armor, or at least walking very fast in the cases of some others who are not so good at running. And, they did this all the while jockeying a very, very injured and near death person between them to make it all possible. In the meantime, behind them, the vines catch fire from the arrows that were lit and shot into their area. They do catch fire, and eventually go up into a large whoosh of smoke. It is an awful smoke. A green, sickly smoke, but burn they do. They get passed the barrier of the outermost vines, and into a safe zone, after gathering the remaining of their horses. It is there where they are certain no vines can be seen, or even sneak their way to them. It is there that they tend to their victim; who looks almost as grossly horrible as those that had died. But this victim did not die. And it's through the miraculous efforts between Thea and Rowenova that he doesn't die. His breathing is shallow and raspy, but he does not die. They think after a bit of rest they'll be able to move him, and if they can find a wagon at the next village, he can be moved more safely. But nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever erase the horrors of what they saw and experienced in that village, or the death and carnage these Sylv'alfar can render.



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