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The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Six

97mg

Explorer
Having walked parallel with Kalair’s northwards road for several hours, you well and truly leave the outskirts of the southernmost settlement in your wake. With each step, your surroundings become less beaten and more organic and wild in form. Tall and sprangley evergreens reach high, their shade falling on an earth littered with hardy shrubs and bushes, the odd grey boulder here and there poking its head above the dark fertility of Marix Isle soil.

The heat and density of the air builds as this new day swings into the centre of morning. An occasional bird chirps or tweets, as warning of your arrival or the call to a mate from the branches above. A rustling in the undergrowth as you pass a small hollow in the stump of a tree. A trail of ants, diligent workers winding upon the throngs of a fern. The beauty and an appreciation of Kalair’s quieter places settles upon it's latest visitors.

Despite your numbers and the encumberment of long-distance supplies, as a whole the group’s movement is well planned and quiet. Following the path of a ranger certainly helps too. For now, becoming lost is nothing of a concern.

Those familiar with the road that is out there somewhere by your side, would know well that basic services for travelers aren’t too difficult to come by. For folk disinterested in city life, the foot, hoof and cart worn track is a source of trade. An hour ahead there would be a small general store, and a humble little tavern. Further on, a row of simple wooden huts where visitors can rest or freely camp, maintained by a kind hearted gentleman named Dod. All easy to reach with a short detour to your east.

All of a sudden, leaves rustle upon the ground, and Dain scouting at your front senses approaching life. Soft but furiously quick kicks against dirt. Then, in a flash of black, a rodent whips along the earth in front of you, before speeding up into the foliage of a neighboring tree. But that is not all. Somewhere out there, to your left a young voice calls out quite far in the distance.

“Mirella. Mirelllaaaa!”

More sounds then, but not a child’s footsteps yet. Like furry lightning a wild fox comes into view, startled by your presence and turning to glare in your direction with beady black eyes and the arisen alertness of a predator’s ears.
 

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Jeovanna

First Post
Jeovanna grimaced at Metea, though mostly at her back. "Tiefling. You're glowing," she'd reply, but Jeovanna's tone was too dry to take much from it.

She was not taking travel beauty advice from a sweaty demon!

Otherwise, Jeovanna seemed to get more and more relaxed the further they went into the woods. The further they got from Kalair. She tensed, though, at the sound of rustling bushes- then actually relaxed a bit when she saw what was following the rodent. The fox was not running- it was chasing! And foxes were certainly normally of no threat to them.

"Hss," she'd warn it off, "back to your owner, or back to the woods!"

The shouting voice- did the child sound lost, or like it was tracking a loose pet?
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain smiled at the creature, and it was an honest smile. He liked animals, often times more than people. Especially some people.

Looking back, he motions for the party to halt with a gesture. "This is a good omen, I think. Tsk, Jeovanna...do not seek to scare off what may bring good fortune." Such was Dain's opinion of the situation.

He crouched down, extending a hand with a bit of goat jerky to the fox. "Be at peace, quick one. Mirella. Is that your name, you pretty vixen?"

<Animal Handling check: 20>
 

Metea

First Post
"Hear that, Magaw? We're to have company, so behave yourself," Metea remained unphazed by the slightest hint of a scolding! Were any of them surprised?

Metea watched the rat scramble, actually, while Dain flirted with the fox. They were a strange group to encounter in the woods!

"Are we close to a town?" It was strange, to think a young child would be out here on her own- unless she'd run far from the road after her pet?
 

Otiroth

First Post
They'd gone from the path, but not far enough, it seemed! Otiroth doubted a child would know much of what had been happening in the north, but they might as well reunite a child with their pet.

Whether it was the rodent, or the fox...
 

Carthum was more worried about the child than the animals! They were not far from the road, true, but they were far enough that a child rushing about yelling was dangerous... for the child! There were monsters and bandits on the road, after all!

He'd strain his hearing, to tell if there were any other sounds in the woods that might be lost beneath the child's shouting...
 

97mg

Explorer
The animal approaches the ranger nervously at first, flicking its eyes upon the assortment of strange folks behind him. Then it smells food, and sensing that this clean-shaven man means no harm, walks forwards to lick at the offered treat before grabbing it between teeth. A hop backwards, a leap, and the fox retreats a little way to savor the snack.

To the party’s side in the direction of where the distant road would lie, the young voice begins to fade away into the distance. In a moment of quiet, your senses pick up on something else as a hot puff of breeze edges through the forest. The bitter smell of smoke, charred timbers, and is that… bread?

Dain’s well-honed outback senses and Jeovanna’s prowess in hunting pick out the aroma’s direction. Otiroth's culinary interests confirm the source, freshly baked he might think. It is somewhere ahead, striking off a short way to the west perhaps. Maybe you aren’t the only folk who choose the lure of nature’s surroundings, over the dry and monotonous path of Kalair’s main road.

<If memory serves some of you correctly:
East: more light / medium density forest and eventually the main road.
North: A narrow riverbed will soon cut through your path, and is often thick with scrub, weeds and hanging vines. Further north, there used to be an old track that leads for many many miles to a set of extremely dangerous steps, down to the seaside (one of the few known places to access the ocean directly). Beyond that the forest thickens, and there is rumour of an abandoned mine in the area.
West: The forest becomes wilder with each step, and thick with dense plant life until meeting the Isle’s cliffs some day or so away.>
 

97mg

Explorer
Interlude: Hills Behind a Curtain

The long and reverberous note of a downtuned gong bounced it's way through the mountain’s bowels. A once in a lifetime event, or maybe less given a dwarf’s average lifespan of some 350 years. Not a sleeping child, chiseling mason nor wandering drunkard was spared the ominous arrival of this people’s urging.

For a handful of days now, ugly and hard-hided beasts had picked and poked at this demihuman community of highlanders. The first sightings stirred curiosity and disbelief, but the intentions of these strangers were clear from the onset. Obliteration. Genocide. What had begun as small packs of scouting many-legged beetles, poisonous tusks and stinging barbs, was now a great dark curtain. A mass of primeval hatred had been spotted, moving down the mountainside as though a dark and living river had burst.

Even the shade of an elaborately carved cave entrance, and the natural insulation of a great summit of rock, didn’t prevent Warruv from breaking a sweat. The heat had become inescapable, as thermally charged desert air persistently blew southwards, bringing both grit, sand and the stench of death upon it's back.

“Harrukkk!” The order was given from an elder, somewhere behind Warruv and the bearded footsoldiers by his side. Short but tireless arms pulled then, dragging down the ropes that would see this access point closed tight.

Clicking.

Clattering.

The sounds of thousands of legs upon the hard granite of a dwarven land.

Warruv felt himself deafened, tensing, squeezing the grip on his axe tighter and tighter.

The stone door was almost closed, only several feet apart when they arrived. Like a plague of vermin, hungry and angry, the swarm came rushing through the gap.

“Rocks!”

To the entrance’s sides, great boulders were released, rolling down into the Sandsborn mass with crushing effect. Creature’s squealed as limbs, body, head and more were flattened. It was a good start, but neither Warruv nor his companions would be calling out in celebration yet.

They were still coming.

Warruv sucked in a breath. This was it. He and his kin, his dwarven brothers and sisters, were at war.

“Charge!”

There was no turning back. He moved forwards as quick as those stubby little legs would take him, into the jaws of the unknown, and probably the mandible of a beast...
 

Jeovanna

First Post
Jeovanna licked her teeth, and watched Dain's interaction with the fox. It ultimately caused no trouble, she supposed. Bold wildlife was not always a good thing, though. Well enough if you were a hunter and the deer was not afraid- worse if it was simply not afraid because the buck was charging at you from behind.

She exhaled somewhat sharply.

"We are too close to the road already, obviously," Jeovanna grumbled, when their next steps were discussed. So, she was against heading east.

A trek through harsh woods was fine with her, and most of them were doing fine with what was before them already. She'd have to keep an eye on Metea, though.

Jeovanna was not carrying the tiefling!
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain lifted his chin, following the scent of food with his eyes.

Towards the west.

Essithea...are you close? I long for you.

"We should follow the scent of food. Perhaps we will find the girl who lost this fox, and perhaps there will be folks eager to speak of the world."

The woods looked dark and menacing, but Dain had no cares it seemed. The darkness, the deep forest...they were his abode.
 

Metea

First Post
The heat wasn't so much the problem. It was a different sort of heat than in the mines, though. The humidity was what got to her! Metea's tail swished back and forth a bit- she could not imagine anybody wanting to eat anything after a hard day on the trail, but maybe her stomach would feel a bit different on some rest?

"Are we sure the fox isn't just a critter?" Metea asked. But she wasn't a ranger, she was sure Dain knew what he was talking about.

Still... Metea liked kids! Maybe it'd be a nice break from the walk through the tedious woods so far. (How did people enjoy hiking?!) Nature was mysterious and unyielding, but not in the way that interested her!
 

Carthum was apt to just head onwards. The denser woods would provide some respite from the heat, as well, he imagined.

They were, as a group, endangered around other people should combat become necessary. The skills and abilities they had used so freely in the darkness of the mines, which had lead them on to great success, were illegal here above ground. The Council was not particularly shy about acting on suspicions, either. Should they be forced to use their abilities in combat, they risked being reported on by the very people they had come to assist- should anyone that saw them use their magic not be feeling generous.
 

Otiroth

First Post
West. A venture into deeper and darker territories- but the danger held by the wilderness was not necessarily any worse than those on the roads these days. Especially not with the company they were keeping.

And it would potentially bring them in line with another whisper of their vision. A dark boat upon darker waters.

Was it foolish to chase prophecy? Possibly. But that was usually in regards to preventing it.
 

97mg

Explorer
Continuing northbound while drifting a little westwards, the forest densens as you chase the alluring smell of someone’s morning meal. It seems that the fox too, enjoyed an easy breakfast, shadowing the group and obviously quite intrigued by a party of bipeds forcing their way through webs of branches and shrubbery. As you walk on, there is a flash of red and brown from time to time, the animal appearing to your side, popping out of bushes behind the team’s rear guard, hopping out before Dain and giving the ranger a cheeky look.

Between the sounds of your feet tapping upon the earth, the odd bird call or distant scuttling of a lizard or other unseen resident, you begin to hear the trickle of water. The little river is close at hand. In fact, the undergrowth gives the ranger a confirmation. Thorny bushes, some laden with plump edible berries, begin to catch at bootlaces and tickle at pants. After a bit of exploration, you seem to have found a viable way forwards. A patch of large stones indicates something of an old crossing, and with a bit of care it might be possible to reach the waters without any loss of blood. It is either that, or cut your way through, or follow the river’s serpentine winding further westwards, in the hope of the shrubs thinning out.

Your foxy friend darts in ahead of you atop the stones, bounding between the scratchy weeds a way, before coming to a stop. It waits to sniff the air, and then takes a step or two back.

Magaw turns slowly to face Metea, and speaks softly."There are times being legless is beneficial, perhaps?"

<Feel free to make nature / perception checks etc if you want.>
 

Metea

First Post
Metea had read plenty of stories in her times in the church's library, and there were some about mortal men and women, disciples of Suru or other gods in some cases, with wild beasts that acted tame. Most of them were eagles or lions, though. A burrowing animal was maybe not very sun-god like. The ranger did not follow Suru though.

They'd come to a halt near the thorns, and while Metea was absolutely certain Dain and Jeovanna would probably just barrel through them without a second thought, she didn't want to lose any tail feathers or blood to prickling thorns.

"What's wrong with the fox?" She'd ask. It hadn't seemed afraid of the bristles at all.

Well... Metea could possibly give them a little bridge over by moving loose soil to create a ridge through... shouldn't cause any more damage to the plants than a rampaging deer, if she were careful...

<Nature check = 20>
<Cantrip- mold earth>
 

Jeovanna

First Post
Much like the fox, Jeovanna paused. She didn't have the long, industrious nose of her spiritual gnoll pack or the fox, though, so her observation was a bit different.

Look where the prey looked. If it was not at you...

"Don't cross first," she'd scold the tiefling once more, because Metea had not, it seemed, learned her lesson about staying in the middle of the pack. The fragile pack members had to stay to the middle of the pack.

She'd scan the area warily.

<Perception check- 20+1= 21>
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain takes a step back, watching the fox, as Metea's conjuration takes effect and a path of stones slides over the thorn bushes. He almost says something, but ultimately stays silent.

He agreed with Jeovanna's assessment. It was important they maintain their positions. They had not been attacked yet, and indeed might still be in friendly territory, but getting into a good habit might save their lives later on.

Moving forward, Dain made his way across towards the riverbank. His eyes scanned around him.

<Perception check: 20+5=25>
<Nature check: 10+2=12>
 

Otiroth

First Post
Being in a deep, dense forest was more a problem for the forest than for the fire sorcerer. The thorns catching at his boots were signing their own death warrant, really. But no, of course he would not burn down the forest.

Although if something attacked him and he missed, well, he couldn't be held responsible for that, now could he?

He was being quite a bit better than Metea at keeping position, but perhaps it was luck more than caution? These berries looked edible. He'd pluck a few strands, avoiding the thorns, and tuck them into the back of his pack for later. Once they made camp, maybe they could test a few.

<Survival check=16>
 

Carthum was, honestly, likely more interested in keeping an eye on Metea than on the surrounding landscape.

If she created a bridge over the thorns- couldn't a creature pursue them right back across it? Then again, he had seen her use that spell with quite amazing speed before...

Like the fox, most wild beasts would likely be unconcerned by a few prickles from a thorn bush if the prize was dinner...
 

97mg

Explorer
With a wave of a slender tiefling finger, Metea’s spell collects loose earth and gravels, pushing most of the spiney bushes safely to the side and out of the path’s way. This is all quite startling to the fox of course, who retreats and anxiously ends up lurking behind the party members at the rear. The cantrip has worked a treat, and looks enough to get you through the weed-encrusted banks, and down to the river’s edge!

Otiroth’s berries are a treat well chosen too. He recalls that they are edible and of culinary grade. Although botany isn’t one of Metea’s strong suits, she recognizes them too. The humble Yarramberry. Black spheres of sweet and seed-filled goodness. They also have an interesting side effect, when heated and served in large doses of a handful or more in one sitting.

The barbarian and ranger seem to have more on their minds than bush tucker, or the promise of a fruit-encrusted flan. Their senses seem to be at their best out here in the wilderness. Eyes wide open. Ears perked up. Noses sniffing. Rivers, streams and waterways, often serving up both life and danger in their trickles and flow.

Beneath the bushes to Dain’s left there is a slow movement. A light rustling. Did he just see the day’s hot and clouded light reflect off something covered with scales? Then further afield, down the river a little, there is a large...

Splash!

<Metea & Otiroth: Roll D100 so I can advise on berry side-effects knowledge please :). >
 

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