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  #211  
Old Nov 13th, 2020, 01:52 PM
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Annika: Bug HunterAnnika shook her head to herself and tried to review the facts. The smell of the room was what brought it back to her. Remembering that hideous smell of rot; the special smell that was humans decaying...she could almost hear Marsilia and Tymek in her ears, talking again.

Cuts like claws, in groups of up to four, with punctures in them. Bodies were battered, bones broken. But they died of blood loss. Didn't one drown? Yes...But no footprints or scent.

What is it?


"...Tymek?" Annika asked as she turned to gaze at the lake. "...what about something like bats? Some kind of flying creature that drinks blood? Maybe comes in swarms. Like mosquitoes but bigger maybe? I mean, it sounds silly but...mosquitoes are found around large, calm bodies of water. And those wounds could have been made by a flock of creatures. Claws to hunt for blood vessels, then poke that awful little tube in...all of them, over and over. They could be strong enough to try to knock someone out, or even lift them up and drop them."

She shakes her head. "I don't think it's a person. People need motives. And what you're talking about is a lot of work and risk just to kill someone."

"Anyway, as for bait...what about just using some blood? A butcher should have some. Or we can go on a quick hunt."

Last edited by SalmonMax; Nov 14th, 2020 at 01:01 AM.
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  #212  
Old Nov 16th, 2020, 04:10 AM
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Biology"Nono, if it drinks blood, it doesn't seek blood, it seeks warm bodies. Scavengers seek blood. We would need at least a living pig. But maybe it likes no animals... We would lose a whole day." She was evidently hesitating about how to continue. "Even if Tymek loses a lot of blood, he would survive and I can restore it easily with a spell." Pointing this out, almost timidly, was as close as she came to asking the witcher to stick to his own original suggestion.
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  #213  
Old Nov 16th, 2020, 07:57 AM
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"Very good deduction, miss Annika. You are actually correct on your first guess - there is no large mosquito that I've ever heard of, but there is a creature known as a Plumard, essentially a vampire bat but with much nastier attitude. They normally feed on livestock, but a large enough swarm could theoretically be emboldened enough to attack humans," Tymek replied in turn, also looking at the lake while considering both what Annika had said and that calling her an apprentice was swiftly moving from a term of exasperated endearment to something scarily resembling the truth. "Their swarms can number anywhere from half a dozen to a thousand, however they only ever hunt at night and are deathly afraid of light, whether it be the sun or a fire. The campsite back there had a fire, so even had a swarm attacked at night, they would have avoided it. I suppose something could have drove them to attack, but who or what that might be is the question."

The Witcher scratched his chin as Angharad replied to Annika's suggestion regarding placing blood out, and it was very close to the same point he himself would have made, though much less hesitantly and quietly. It was quite sweet that the sorceress did not wish to fully come out and say that he should continue with his ploy to use himself as a lure. "Lady Angharad has the right of it, and it would not be the first time I've used myself to tempt a target out into the open. As long as it doesn't kill me outright, I should be fine between her magic, my potions and miss Marsillia's healing hands."

He gave the three women a small smile to put them at ease. It was one of the morbid privileges of being a Witcher, being freed from the burden of death's uncertainty - others had any numbers of potential deaths, up and until that final moment on your death bed when old age finally came for them. For a Witcher, it was an almost certain that they would die at the hands of some monster that they could not overcome, it was merely a case of when that fateful day came. Every contract could be the end, and there was a certain peace in knowing that. No Witcher had ever died of old age, dictating a will on their death bed surrounded by their loved ones, and he was not going to be the first.

Maybe once upon a time...But no more, not without you...

The smile took on a melancholy edge for a moment, before he brought himself back to the present. "Lady Annika, if you wish to assist me, I will ask that you do as you suggested and take up position in the tree that gives you the best, uninterrupted shot at the river and jettty. Miss Marsillia, if you wish to return to town, I will understand, but if you are willing to remain, I suggest you take shelter in one of the nearby bushes. If you are armed, do not draw steel unless you are directly threatened, alright? The same for you, Lady Angharad, if you wish to stay and assist if needed."
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  #214  
Old Nov 20th, 2020, 03:01 AM
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Annika and Tymek sitting in a tree"These...plumards," Annika said, "Will I need silver to kill them, or will ordinary steel work? Also, if they can fly, being up in a tree might not offer much shelter. I'd say I could have a torch or something I can light if they come for me instead of the bait, but...lighting a fire while up in a tree isn't a great idea I expect. Hmm, maybe if there's some branches with lots of leaves near the trunk, I could hide in them..."

She shaded her eyes as she looked around, eying the trees for branches meeting that description.
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Old Nov 21st, 2020, 01:11 PM
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The Mourning AfterWith Annika, Angharad, and Marsilia hidden amongst the shrubbery and trees, Tymek had taken up the role of pretending to be a fisherman. Thankfully nobody was depending on Tymek's fishing skills, as throughout the whole time spent posing as a fisherman he only caught two fish, both trout. There was no sign of movement, no sounds of crunching branches or rumbling of stone nor boulder only the sound of the river and the casting of a fishing rod. An hour passed and nothing came, two hours passed and nothing came. On the third hour, the birds stopped chirping for exactly thirty seconds then started once again. It wasn't until the fourth hour that something finally happened...

A small mud-covered and grey-blue skinned child-like humanoid carefully plodded its way towards a tree on the other side of the clearing from the group of ambushers that were Marsillia, Angharad, and Annika. A pack of wild dogs stand behind Human Perception for some judge intentions, Awareness to try and discern any details about its appearance.The child-like creature, which looked over its shoulder and made some kind of motion, the dogs looked from the child-thing and back to each other, then wandered off into the woods. The child-thing looked back at the fishing Witcher, then slowly (and somewhat comically) outstretched its foot to the grass and gently pulled its other foot over in the same way, in some exaggerated manner of sneaking.

The child-thing had somehow managed to sneak right up to Tymek without him so much as catching on to something being there, a feat most would consider near impossible... Then it reached into the basket Tymek had deposited the fish within, pulling one of the trout out and looking back at the Witcher and slowly starting to sneak away from the fish, the child-thing stopped in its tracks and stared into the trees that the three were watching from. No, not at the trees. At them, directly. The Child-Thing's mouth dropped as it suddenly threw the fish backwards.

There was a loud splash as one of the fish Tymek had caught was suddenly tossed into the water. A small Child-thing slowly turning around to Tymek and giving him a tug on his sleeve. "'scuse me ser" a small child-like voice spoke up with a peculiar accent to its tone. "'as yous got any spare fish? Am ore-fully 'ungry, an' Is not'ad any food fer days." the voice continued, though even without looking at the monster Tymek knew immediately what it was: A Godling.

The Godling was, as all godlings typically are: child-like, barely standing taller than a Dwarf and had a pair of peculiar eyes, or, one peculiar eye as the other was covered up with a Temerian eyepatch, visibly well decorated. Likely an old soldiers eyepatch. "Sorry abouts yer otha fish, Is was gonns take it fer me owns, buts then I saw yer friends over in th'trees."

Last edited by Marshmallow; Mar 16th, 2021 at 12:03 AM.
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  #216  
Old Nov 21st, 2020, 02:45 PM
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In WaitingIt wasn't long until Angharad was leaning against a tree, legs stretched out, and relying on the fallen darkness more than anything else to hide her. She was observing Marsilia as much as their surroundings, and had been contemplating for a while whether to take the risk of attempting telepathic communication once more. But she was tired and couldn't stomach the prospect of further mental unpleasantness. Eventually, she whispered loudly.

"If you could go to any place in the world, where would it be?" She soon forgot to whisper at all, and just spoke quietly. "Travelling into the unknown with a bunch of strangers - there must be somewhere you would prefer to be. Or at least something you would rather be doing?"

The sorceress turned her head with a look of annoyance when Annika reminded them wish a hissing noise that this was, in theory, supposed to be a trap and they had better be quiet. She crossed her arms.

"I'm worried", Annika could hear the sorceress' voice in her head. "It'll be midnight soon. What about Aefa and the children? They must be anxious."

***

Angharad didn't dare move as she watched the mysterious figure at the head of a pack of what might be wolves. She was suddenly quite aware of her own body - how her heart had quickened, her breath was shallow and fast, how she was tense and cold, and how her backside was uncomfortably pressed against the root of the tree.

Wolves were afraid of fire, weren't they? All animals were. Though who could know what control whatever this was had over them. Before she could further contemplate the possibilities, it exercised said control - by sending them away. The sorceress' gaze darted to Tymek for a moment, and then back to the figure. She saw it rub its belly with an exaggerated gesture. It seemed to be surveying the scene, but there was nothing predatory in its demeanour. It certainly didn't look like anything that would have killed and neatly drained of blood a group of fishermen. Perhaps it could transform? Still, it seemed entirely too harmless. Angharad wasn't sure what to do, and did nothing even as the thing was sneaking up on Tymek - or rather, it seemed to be sneaking up on his basket! It was hungry, then, and disposed towards more reasonable culinary choices than blood (or lettuce, for that matter).

About to abscond with a wish, the figure suddenly stared right at them, and then, after a moment's confusion as to what to do, seemed to grab the wrong end of the decision tree and threw away the fish. One might have expected it to run away, startled - but instead, it turned around and tugged on the sleeve of the witcher who had remained uncharacteristically oblivious of the entire proceedings.

Angharad was confused, too, but a smile was creeping onto her lips. Making no effort to conceal herself, she stood up, but slowly so as not to startle the creature - or indeed, perhaps, person.
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  #217  
Old Nov 23rd, 2020, 12:48 AM
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While the others had started taking up their places in the trees for the supposed ambush, Tymek had excused himself for a brief trip back to the village where he was able to procure a decent fishing rod and a low-hanging fishing cap for far less than the last few meager Crowns he still had to his name. So on his return, the three women were treated to the mildly-amusing sight of the Witcher, hat pulled low over his yellow eyes, a waterproof sack normally used for holding one’s catch but in this case hiding the Witcher’s swords in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.

As he passed by underneath the trees, he spared a quick glance up and a smile before heading towards the jetty and after a few sketchy casts, some sort of long-forgotten knowledge seemed to dredge itself up and he finally made a decent cast into the water and settled in for the long wait…For fish and beast.

***

While backs creaked and buttocks grew cold in hiding spots, it seemed Tymek actually seemed to be drawing some measure of enjoyment from his playing bait and there seemed to be bit more of a jauntiness to his next cast following each of his two successful casts, the second even causing a small whistled tune to be heard from the river – either the Witcher was truly living himself into his role, or he was enjoying himself.

Perhaps this was why he missed everything happening in the woods behind him, at least until his one fish seemed to escape the sack and splash itself back into the water by itself. Turning around, Tymek spotted the child-like creature behind him. He smiled, knelt down in front of it and started digging in the bag, but in place of a silver sword, he pulled out the other fish he had caught and he started speaking to the small creature.

”Oh that’s quite alright, and we’ve got food enough that I can spare,” Tymek said, holding the fish out to the Godling. Beneath his friendly exterior, Tymek was quickly recalling all he knew about the creatures – that they often served as guardians to the villages near their homes, but were inevitably driven out when the village became too large or prosperous. But he knew that they could just as easily take offense and destroy a village in the long run. An ungodly amount of power in the hands of a creature that was no more sensible than a child at times. ”My name’s Tymek, you don’t have to call me ser anything. Might I ask your name?”
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  #218  
Old Nov 23rd, 2020, 01:14 AM
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The Mourning AfterThe Godling took the fish and licked his lips at the sight of it, the rows of dagger-like teeth glinting in the light of the sunset as the child-thing sank its teeth into the fish given to it by Tymek, tearing the head off the fish with its teeth and chewing it up with surprising speed, swallowing the fish and looking back up.
"My name's Olsen, Berd the fishes'min called me 'One Eyed Olsen', b'cause Is only gots the 'unn eye." he began, the Godling taking anohter bite between responses then looking back up to Tymek. "Is rekkuns yous aren't here's froms the smelly burdock lady? If yis was I's say yers would'a made me no-eye Olsen." he says, wearing a stern frown at the mention of the 'smelly burdock lady', looking like a child scorned. "Buts I swears the fishes'mins defs were'ent me, ser. Is swears it, theys weres the only'unns nice t'Olsen. Theys tolds Olsen the smelly burdock lady tooks mes eye 'cos sum nobill needed sumfing fer his.." Olsen continued his almost inane rambling. As Angharad got closer she'd start to hear the next snippets of what the Godling said. "Reptile defunction, Is don'ts knows what that means, but Berd told mees it means the nobill 'asa limp carrot, but Is never known a carrot that was limp!" Olsen finally finished his somewhat insane rambling to continue devouring the fish in his hands. Upon finally getting close enough, Angharad was able to make-out the Child-Thing had an A black eyepatch with the Temerian Lillies embroided on it, a rim of golden thread around the shape of the patch. A very well-designed item.elaborately decorated eyepatch and some rather ratty make-shift clothing.

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  #219  
Old Nov 23rd, 2020, 02:44 AM
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The conversation between Tymek and the small creature seemed to be going well enough given that he hadn't drawn silver yet, and he seemed to find the ferocious way it swallowed chunks of the fish down amusing, more than anything else.

"Pleased to meet you, Olsen. And no, I'm not here from the burdock lady," Tymek assured, while quietly filing that information away - burdock was often used to drive away Godlings, or in extreme cases, kill them. The "smelly burdok lady" was likely some kind of local medicine woman who made her money from folk remedies and the like, something confirmed when Olsen noted she had taken his eye. He was about to reply when he saw Angharad approaching them and motioned for her to come closer, unable to hide the smile when he mentioned the limp carrot just in time for the sorceress to overhear. "Olsen, this is my friend, Lady Angharad. Lady Angharad, One-Eyed Olsen, Lord of the Woods. He was just telling me about his friendship with the fishermen"

The Witcher lifted his cap a little to get a good look at the Godling. "Olsen, the people in the village asked me to find out what happened to your friends, and I believe you when you say you didn't do anything to hurt them. But did you perhaps see what happened to them, what it was that attacked them?"
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  #220  
Old Nov 23rd, 2020, 08:45 AM
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The Mourning After: One-Eyed OlsonThe child-thing looked from Tymek to Angharad, taking a cautious step back from her and taking another, far more cautious bite from the fish. "Ohs, Is knows whats yous are on abouts." Olson said, biting into the fish and looking up one he swallowed his next mouthful "Is had only been out here a few weeks afters smelly burdock lady stinked up my big tree in town. Fishesmen were nice to Olson, so Olson kept the forest doggies and Grizzle-Gruzzles away from Fishesmen. Told fatter fishies to swim this way, too. Olson likes the fat fishes. Tasty." Olson explained, giving a short-lived chortle before his joyous expression came down to a frown. "One day bunnies stop coming through and deer-hops too. Something stinky came - not stinky like Burdock Lady, stinky like..." Olson stopped the child-thing pointing up at Tymek and saying something. "Like you, ser. These mens was lumpy, like mud when a horsie hoofs over it and all dressed up in bed sheets! Is hears the birds says Lumpy mud peoples shoot the fishesmen, thens stabs them. Theys poured the bloods into pottery jars and waits for the next night, then the next. Lumpy mens left now, Is see them take theirs camp and leave."

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Old Nov 24th, 2020, 01:08 AM
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The Witcher frowned when Olsen pointed at him, hand coming up to pensively stroke his chin.
"Your tree in town...Is that the one with all the glass bottles hanging from it? Why did the woman want to drive you away?" The question was tertiary at best to the current situation, but to a Witcher there was no such thing as useless information - everything became relevant eventually. The more pertinent question came next. "Stinky like me in what way, Olsen? Like the smell of someone who was often on the road? Or the smell of someone who's killed before?" He didn't consider the possibility that Olsen meant other Witchers - there were few enough of them left alive that to gather in any number, let alone some sort of killing party, was a longshot. "Did the birds tell you where the men went when they struck camp, or if they did something with the blood?"
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Old Nov 26th, 2020, 07:12 PM
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The Mourning After: One-Eyed OlsonThe child-thing crossed its arms while looking up at the Witcher, shaking his head as if he had made a request. "Smells like a barbercane seeds grew rottens. Wrongness." Olson said, giving his head a firm shake "Thats the sorts of information that'll costs yous, sees, Mister Morning Wood Pecker doesn'tses likes to gives up his informations so easilies, so Is wants somefinks in returnsies." Olson said. The child-thing turning away from the Witcher and sorceress as he walks away and stops, turning back around with a single hand raised, his index finger raised upwards. "That mean burdock lady has a shops, Cauliflowers Cauldren or somefink likes that. She always burns burdocks at night and even bathes in the stuffs! Is wants yous to get rid of her burdock, so Is can pay her a little visit at night."

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  #223  
Old Dec 1st, 2020, 01:24 PM
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The Social ContractAngharad was no witcher, but even she recognised a Godling. She knew the creatures were intelligent, and harmless unless antagonised. The poor thing had only one eye, and was probably blissfully unaware of the nationalistic character of the imagery behind which it was hiding its ocular deprivation. Perhaps someone hadn't known that there were better substitutes for Godling eyes when it came to alchemical purposes; but then, the North was a savage place.

What was equally savage was this one's accent - the sorceress had to listen very closely, and even so she felt like every other word was unrecognisable and could only be replaced with a guess. Every time Olsen spoke, it took her at least until a second after he had finished before she had managed to form an idea of what he was talking about.

But she did gather that the Godling had witnessed the killers of the fishermen, and would be able to set them on their trail by showing them an abandoned camp. With any luck, Tymek would be able to track them from there. But Olsen, animated by a healthy self-interest, was insisting that in return they should help him with what Angharad gathered must be some woman in the village. The burdock lady, he called her; and seemed to particularly detest the plant, as she had read his kind did. The sorceress remembered a note posted on the tree in the village about drowner brains and remedies for ailments - perhaps this woman was the misguided alchemist who had taken the Godling's eye?

She gave him a friendly smile and, despite her own short stature, leaned forward slightly, hands on her thighs. "Alright, Olsen", she said in a sort of motherly tone. Her eyes briefly darted to Tymek, perhaps she was looking for reassurance that she wasn't doing something foolish. "We'll get rid of the lady's burdock for you. To tell you the truth, I have no love for burdock myself", grimacing slightly as if the thought of it disgusted her. "We'll do it immediately in the morning. She'll be all ready by tomorrow night."

The woman would likely not have a pleasant night - but if Angharad's suspicion was true, she deserved it well. Angharad didn't hold the entire discipline of alchemy in particularly high regard, finding it such a crude way of manipulating reality compared to magic, but the inept, near-lay practitioners of anything were always the worst.

Then, without waiting for a response from Olsen, the sorceress straightened up, turned around to where Annika and Marsilia had been, and raised an arm to wave them over animatedly. "Annika, Marsilia! Come, Olsen here is going to show us the killers' camp!" she announced happily - and hoped that Godlings felt sufficiently constrained by social norms to make it difficult for him to insist on payment before delivery.

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  #224  
Old Dec 12th, 2020, 03:31 AM
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AnnikaAnnika felt her heart thumping as she eased her grip on her bow. She'd lowered it when the creature hadn't attacked, but an arrow was still at nock, her fingers still gripping the shaft of it between the fletchings in a deathgrip. She'd never seen a creature like this up close before. Something near human but not human...and not like an elf, not strange but still rather beautiful. Something twisted.

Something that's name was Olsen.

Olsen??

She took a deep, slightly shaking breath and willed her hand to return her arrow to its quiver. Then she reached back to replace the bow itself in the slipcase. For three breaths she worked her fingers to get blood flowing, then Annika started climbing back down the tree.

"Wait, a camp? The killers have a camp?" Annika felt a little stab of regret that it was apparently not horrible monster-mosquitos...followed by a stab of relief that she wouldn't have to try to shoot monster mosquitos out of the sky. "What are they?"
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Old Dec 14th, 2020, 01:58 AM
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Tymek had little doubt as to exactly what kind of visit Olson was going to pay the woman at night, and so did she, hence the continued burning of Burdock at night. Likely the small creature would not go as far as to do any permanent harm, and the Witcher had enough sympathy that he believed Olson deserved a little bit of revenge for the lost eye.

"So in exchange for showing us where the people who killed the fishermen are, we get rid of the medicine woman's burdock? I believe we have an agreement, Olsen." Tymek said, folding his arms with a smile that widened when Angharad attempted to bamboozle the creature into fulfilling his end of the bargain first. Well, who was he to stop her? The sorceress was equally as skilled with her words as she was with magic and if anyone could outfox a Olson, he would put a Crown or two on Angharad's chances.

Instead he turned his attention to his apprentice as she wormed her way out of a tree and questioned what they were dealing with. "Humans, or close enough that they look like them to Olson. He says they smell wrong though - apparently I share that odour," Tymek said with a wry grin. "After killing the fishermen, they collected their blood and waited for two days before leaving. Now apart from just generally being a mad bunch of bastards, the only reason to have that much blood is for use in a magical ritual - Lady Angharad can correct me on this, but I believe some magic users are trained to substitute blood in place of other ingredients in a ritual."
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