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The Story Thus Far: ...?

Why, my dear boys and girls. The story is just starting! Come, come! Sit by the fire and listen as I tell you the tale of these brave heroes...
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Guardian Angel Haruki
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Wayward Forest


The Wayward Forest. It is home to many beasts and creatures and it is one of the routes to the seaside town of Shola that many caravans and travelers take. Because of that, it is said that a vicious group of bandits live in this forest. They call themselves the Barnaby Brothers and are quite infamous amongst those who visit and leave Shola. Most of the animals are active but hardly bother anyone, except for the occasional town fool who pokes at the sleeping owlbear every now and then. However, this night is quite different. Those in tune with nature have noticed that the animals have been unusually quiet as of late, not just in the Wayward Forest, but also in many other forests beyond. Three moons ago, numerous shooting stars streaked across the sky, and one of them seemed to land in this very forest. But one couldn't be too sure, for there was no explosion when the star landed. The shooting stars did attract a lot of attention from both the religious, scholarly, and nature folk.

It is another seemingly quiet night within the Wayward Forest. The only sound that seems to be echoing around the forest are the sound of crickets chirping, and the glow of the fireflies' light lit up the forest along with the moonlight. It is quite a peaceful scene.

As you venture through the forest, whether you are merely traveling to or from Shola, or you are exploring the forest in search for answers, you find yourself at a fork in a road made for caravans and common travelers. The signpost points the way to Shola, while the other two signs, pointing to right path and pointing to the path away from the splitting roads, both read respectively,
"Arakil"
"Peford"

You do find that at this fork in the road...

You are not alone.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by ihinka
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Safira's sleep was fitful. And it wasn't due to the fact that she was a couple of feet up in a tree secured to its trunk by a rope. Generally she preferred to keep to herself. Social interaction was... not easy for her. Even after all those years out in the world, away from the prison of her childhood, she still had trouble connecting to people. Communicatig. When she did manage it, it sounded strained, awkward. But being who she was and looking the way she did, it mostly appeared like she was gruff or outright angry. And so she kept to herself. But traveling alone had its disadvantages. No one to take shifts with you watching over the camp. No one to watch your back. Hence why she was sleeping up on a tree, tied to its trunk.

Well, sleeping was putting it mildly. Rather, she was having a terrible nightmare. She had them often. Some recurring, some not. But always in the same vain. Either horrible, distorted and enhanced recollections of her childhood. Or the most vile of horrors unleashed upon all the lands one could ever imagine. The armor clad woman woke up with a start, closely followed by a grunt and an exasperated sigh.

"When will it stop?" She whispered tiredly under her breath and looked about. Her hunter training immediately took over and she couldn't help but notice yet again the unnatural animal inactivity in the forest. She'd sensed it immediately when she'd first entered these woods. Had it not been the reason she'd ventured into these parts, she would have been immediately on high alert. As it stood she had been tracking this phenomenon throughout a few forests in the hopes of finding the source behind it. It had to be something unnatural. And it was her duty to make sure it was nothing fowl. She'd sworn to rid the world of all evil. Even at the cost of her own life. A terrible image, burned indelibly in her memory, flashed in her mind's eye, making her clench fer eyes shut. The Blood Hunter's whole body tensed for a moment, two, three. And then a sigh and the tension was gone.

"Well... If I can't sleep, might as well move on." Safira said to no one in particular, untying herself from the tree. She replaced the twine of rope on the side of her travel pack, secured that on her back and gracefully lowered herself down from a branch. Her long frame brought her close enough to the ground that she simply released her hold and landed quietly in a crouch on the forest bed. Straightening she took a moment to reorient herself and finding her direction forged on.

After an hour or so she came up on a fork in the road and a signpost placed there to direct travelers. As Safira slowed her pace and approached the signpost, she spotted a figure approaching from the corner of her eye. Her right hand went instinctively to her scimitar, grasping the hilt, her body at the ready. She turned slowly towards the other traveler, careful not to transmit any form of aggression, but also vigilant to present herself as someone not to be messed around with.
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Venture forth, they said. Find your destiny, they promised. The kenku wandered through the forest slowly, listening to the sounds of nature all around. Maybe they should have been the ones walking instead. A silver flask was produced, and the cork pulled off with the kenku's beak before it was spat to the side, dangling from the rope that tied it to the flask. Up the container was turned, and the sound of glug glug echoed through the lonely paths.

He had been walking much longer than he had any desire to do so, and where paths existed, there was promise of company. Sometimes the company was vicious, such as the bandits rumored to roam these woods, and sometimes it was deceptive, claiming friendship when it only wished to use you. When one found a companion worth traveling with, eventually circumstances would wretch them from your grasp. That's what the kenku had learned in his seclusion. What was really there worthy of his time? Why should he bother to find his destiny when it would eventually claim him, drunken, lying alone in a thatch hut?

The kenku staggered forward, mimicking the sounds of the crickets around him. Were they singing a song for him? Or did they mock his loneliness as they searched for a mate? It mattered little in the end; the crickets were no threat to him, and he was little threat in return. The beasts of this world were his only friends: the beasts and those who walked among them, at least. He had long lived with their mockery, and would survive much longer still. The cap to his flask was replaced with a practiced hand, wasting no effort.

The kenku muttered the sound of fire crackling on a warm hearth, and a flame was produced in his hand, dancing in the light breeze to provide illumination to his path as the shadows threatened his vision. The light it produced was minimal, but it would do to light his footsteps. A bend in the road revealed a signpost and a fork, as well as another traveler who had approached from a different path. The hand on her blade did not escape his glance, but the kenku continued traveling forth under the same pace, wobbling somewhat as the alcohol guided his feet. "The blade..." the kenku began, his voice low and gravelly. "Sheathe! It is not needed." With each phrase, it sounded as if his voice changed entirely: first a deep man's voice, then a woman's excited voice, then a quiet whisper.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by The Harbinger of Ferocity
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A lone woman of the wood stepped amidst the trees in the calm night, her nimble feet navigating the low brush, fallen leaves and wayward stones alike. She followed no real path, no specific heading, rather just a sense of direction that was a magnetic draw upon her; the stars had fallen after all, one which fell to the earth here somewhere. It was not tonight, a few nights ago rather, but it was enough to reach out to her when she did see it for such a thing could not be ignored. Why else would a lone wanderer dare delve into the thick where only those now absent animals went, particularly in what amounted to the dark of night?

A number of reasons was the truth there, not the least of which was that she was not so alone as she seemed at first. Revealed by watchful eye alone, a silhouette among the darkness and the night's shadows flitted about from time to time, following both along with her or in the very steps she took. These two things, both drifting like stalkers of the wood, did not upset the strange calm that had become of this place. The one in the same that had the outsider wondering what had so changed despite her obvious lack of belonging to this particular wood; her trappings of varied greens atop earthy leather armor was accented by a number of adornments from far away feathers to antler and horn, not all of which belonged to this forest. She certainly lived up to her namesake as a "wildwalker", that was for certain, and it was this quality that even drew her here to begin with, otherwise she would well have been content to keep to her land and that was not only because of her vivid elven blood.

Yet the woman didn't, not for a moment and neither did her traveling company who shared the same adventure as her.

With the brush of a hand, she swept her loose hair from her face and peered up to the stars above, now having found a tranquil place where they were not so obscured. She surveyed them for a time as if almost curious if they would change again as they had before. Perhaps indifferent, no other divine messenger had come across the sky and it was clear she needed to keep on with her travel, but not before a hand reached out to stroke the dark, furred thing that accompanied her. With a pat to its flank, she motioned slightly with her head to carry on and they well did.

How long she went on from there she did not know, time to an elf was a strange thing, but she was certain it was none too long for it was still very dead in night, alive only with cricket song, a drifting and virtual sea of glowing insects and the most distant hoot of an owl. Things became more wild here, that much she knew, but it was not that which startled her - at least in genuine surprise. For soon she found a path, yet not just any path, but one that banked and branched, accompanied by two other travelers. One was a man-bird, something she had recalled but could not place what they were in name, the other was a woman in the trappings of a huntress with sword.

She proved to speak with genuine and near innocent confusion, not truly aware enough as to what was transpiring if this was a decision she should be making or not as the shock of it, really its timing, was much too overwhelming for her to think clearly upon.

"I... I though I was the only one here tonight." She said, surrendering her natural camouflage from among the brush and trees where she stood and as typical of any wood elf, even one as tall and as fair as she, seeming to almost fade from the woodland into view.

@Guardian Angel Haruki@ihinka@JBRam2002
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A middle-aged halfling named Boram wandered throughout the forest, wearing studded leather armor that was both too small and too big, he wasn't out of shape, but with his small height and big bones, he looked like a midget basketball, his eyes darting from side to side, he felt a shiver up his spine, though he knew the forest was safe, he couldn't help but fear what dangers it hides, but that was not what scared him most, he stopped wandering and stared at a rock on the ground, he had been in this forest more than once, but he never passed that rock, one step forward and he would be the furthest away from home he had ever been. far away from his loving family, he felt miserable thinking of them, his sons Edd, Eddy and Edward must miss him, he wondered what life was like at home, did he send enough money?, his wife Vanys god bless her soul mentioned that it was becoming harder and harder to buy food, ever since his hometown ran out of Deer's to hunt, he found that poverty was growing on every corner, like putrid moss it covered his town, turning it into a worthless ghost town.

Though he wanted to come home and see his family, he knew he couldn't, mercenary work was the only way he could provide for them. He hated it, it was messy and violent, not at all like hunting deer, he thought the adventuring he'd be doing would be like the songs the bards sing, where knights in shining armor saved maidens from dragons, instead he fell into the wrong crowd, ruthless thieves guild known as the Black Hands, he hated them, but he hated himself more for being with them, when he sent letters home, he lied to them about their journey, to his three sons he was trying to throw a evil overlords ring into a volcano, when in reality he participated in robberies, muggings and murder's, he felt like his hands were sticky with blood, though he never killed a innocent, he stood by as his "friends" did whatever they damn please. he couldn't stay with them, he wanted to help his family, but the horrific crimes they did was too much. he prayed that they didn't know where his family lived, he saw what they did to traitor's, he couldn't get caught by them, nor could his family. He'd rather die then let any of that happen.

He thought of his father, who was the exact opposite, he was a deer hunter like Boram, but he was actually good at it, Boram just cowered in fear until he mans up and shoots, then misses. His father lies to his coworkers about him, to his dad's coworkers, he was a brave Soldier off fighting in distant battlefields, when in reality he was a common crook committing crimes in order to put bread on the table, for his family, he'd do anything.

Boram took a deep breath, he refused to look back, he knew if he did he would never leave, then he would get caught, so he had to keep running. he took a step over the rock and kept walking, frightened in the fact that he was now far far away from the loving warmth of his wife and kids. The little halfling wobbled across the road until he came across a bird, a fierce-looking human and a savage elf, he instinctively felt the need to run and hide, after all they looked like bandits, but after a while of running everyone looks like a bandit. But he knew that he couldn't wander alone forever, one man was worthless, two men were invincible. "uh-hello!" Boram waved nervously with a fake smile, he saw that one of them had her weapon drawn and looked like she was about to kill a poor Kenku, he stepped between the two, if the scary human tried to kill the kenku, she'd have to go through him "There's no need for violence!, why don't we all just be friends!." Boram spoke through a nerve-wracked voice

@The Harbinger of Ferocity@JBRam2002@ihinka
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It was at that point that yet another person approached the crossroad. Although a strip of green fabric covered his eyes, he moved as if he could see the world as clearly as any other person. In his right hand, lay an orb that glowed as bright as a lantern and appeared to have an eye comprised entirely of blue light encased within it that moved from person to person, regarding them each with a speculative and unblinking gaze. Aside from that, the man was quite unremarkable. His simple traveling attire left him hard to notice, and his humble mannerisms left him easily forgettable.

His name was Jacoby Drexlehand, and contrary to his appearance he was more than what he seemed to be. He was a servant of the heavens, but not in the usual way. He wasn't a cleric or a paladin who had pledged himself to a god. He was warlock who had entered into the service of 1 of the gods' underlings, a solar. And it was by the order of this solar that Jacoby was in the forest. Jacoby's patron oversaw the material plane on behalf of the gods. The recent occurrence of shooting stars had caught the solar's attention and the odd goings on in the place where the shooting stars were happening caused the solar to send Jacoby to scope out the situation.

"Good evening to you all" Jacoby said in a friendly manner "I hope I'm not interrupting anything...Unless this happens to be a robbery. In which case, I must ask the perpetrators to cease and desist".
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by ihinka
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Safira looked the kenku up and down. He didn't seem too stable on his feet, but that didn't mean he couldn't pose a threat. Still, going by what he said, if she understood him well enough as his common was somewhat unrefined, he meant no harm. The blood huntress relaxed a fraction. Her hand still on the hilt of her scimitar, but her posture less guarded and ready for attack. As she was about to apologize for her gruff reaction another figure emerged from the brush onto the crossroad. This an ethereal looking woodland elf who greeted both her and the kenku upon approaching. Safira sighed internally. Splendid, more people! She bemoaned in her head. One of the advantages of travelling through forests was the solitude it provided and the slim chance of meeting other travelers. Of course that advantage went down the drain at crossroads. And the chance to intersect with other folk increased. So Safira tended to avoid those. But that was not always possible.

She could have dealt with the kenku alone, but the appearance of another person amped up her discomfort level and the apology she'd carefully prepared lodged itself in her throat almost painfully. She swallowed nervously, considering what to say in this new situation when all social hell broke loose and two new people stepped onto this now overpopulated fork in the road. The first a jittery half-ling male and then a human male of humble appearances that also looked like he had no use of his eyes, but still had sight. Safira focused for a second on the half-ling who observed her with a fearful but determined expression as if she was intent to slaughter all present and he would be forced to try and stop her.

Gods, help me! I'm terrible with social interactions on my best days. Dealing with crowds... Her thoughts died out in her head as the newcomers voiced their introductions. No one seemed to be of ill intent, still Safira knew evil hid in many forms and disguises, so letting her guard down completely was an impossibility for her. But to demonstrate good will she stepped back and made an effort to further relax her stance, gripping her scimitar with her left hand and raising her right arm to her heart.

"Apologies." She made eye contact with all present individually. "I travel alone." She paused as if trying to find words. "Lose my manners." Her words sounded chopped and as if forced out of her mouth. An intent observer would catch her apparent discomfort at having to interact with this many people at once. "I am Safira Gerrus. Well met."
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by The Harbinger of Ferocity
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"Oh..." The elf brought a thin hand to her lips just beneath the point of her nose, softly speaking through them, "There's so many of you..."

A bird-man, a man, a woman, a dwarf? Or was it a halfling? It could be both, actually come to think of it, which the woman pondered for a moment as to if such a thing even existed. It must have, because there was one there, but what if it was something else? All the same, the littefolk of questionable status to her appeared quite nervous, they all did really. They were not wrong for that either, in that no one for any reason should have well stumbled on to all the rest at the same time. That was odd, more odd than anything the shadow of the woods knew at least at the moment. Mayhap it was that they all knew one another and in the dark, lonely, quiet forest it was just confusion? That did not make any sense either, so she kept quiet for a moment and listened, but not for long.

"Robbery? Violence?" Her interest piqued as she felt herself at an even greater loss; it became increasingly more clear to her that this happenstance was none of those things here in the tranquil woods, rather the fate she imagined it to be originally.

Galandoel removed her hand from hushing her lips and softly raised her voice, "No?"

"I am none of those things, I am Shaedra... Shaedra Galandoel, just like that woman said she was..." The elf paused for a moment, she too not one too articulate with the way mortals thought or even spoke, "... Safira? Safira Garrus?"

The leather boots, folded at the top with a fur cuff and marked by their fine craft, wandered their way out of the brush before the tall elf turned back again to say something behind her in a hush voice. It wasn't quite a word, a command, or anything of the sort, almost as if it was a cue. It was as overt as it was subtle - the odd sort of thing one could not help but notice yet likely would have no idea what it was she was doing. That was the intent after all, at least in part and somewhat accidentally too at that. The company she spoke to was to ease their unquestionably suspicious demeanor, but who that company was in terms of specifics could not be said, at least not now. Just as it came, it too left and she turned front again.

Stepping out on to the ever so faintly moonlit path, the tall, pale thing she was dusted her fingerless gloves free and smiled softly. Company was rare, at least in any circumstance that had to be fated like this, so she decided to again pose the overt in her utter lack of not knowing any better and willing to trust the gestures of ease.

"Mister bird, dwarf, and human, lady Safira," She addressed them as best she knew them, looking from one to another in that order, "Did you come to see the star?"

This tactic of simplicity and directness worked with the animals, but people... even bird-people were different. Or so she could only guess in her absence of understanding. They seemed very polite thus far, none wanting any issue from the other, and this was no chance. The moon and stars, just like the sun, were messengers to all plant and animals, people too.

@Guardian Angel Haruki@JBRam2002@Pennydumb123@rush99999@ihinka
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@JBRam2002 - Speaking to directly

See shells shee shells down by the sea shore! Nay, that can’t be right...”

Marching down the forest road in a bustling suit of chain and shells comes forth a strange, short individual, suited in armor. The first outlandish think about this man, aside from the seaworthy theme his arms and armor seem to follow, are his lower legs, bare and blue, with what looks like fins sticking out of them. This, along with the barbs lined on his face, show that he is no common resident of this place.

”She shells she shells down by the... no, no. She sells... sea... shells?” The blue man repeated, stroking one of his barbs thoughtfully. He seemed so confouded, so lost in thought by this mantra of sea shells and a woman selling them, that he didn’t notice the others on the road.

Until he heard the words “violence” and “robbery” exclaimed.

"Standeth thy did grind, brigands! Thee has’t cometh across a Guardian of the Flotes!” The fishy knight exclaimed as he drew his trident, raising his turtle shell shield while making his approach to the gathering, slowly. ”Who is't is the one being did attack?!”

The Guardian’s vigilant orange eyes surveyed the crowd, stopping on the Kenku. Curiously, he has never seen one of his kind before, only hearing stories of “bird-people” from the many stories he has heard.

”You! Bird sir! what art thee doing hence from the Plane of Air? Art thou eke on a quest to hunteth down the vile agents of Elemental Evil?” The blue-man raised a brow, his shield lowering slightly. He has heard of such bird sirs before as valiant heroes of their plane, though he has never seen one up close. Perhaps it is destiny that they meet on these crossroads....
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"That was indeed why I came here" Jacoby replied to Shaedra's words, looking considerably happier now that he knew no robbery was taking place "Furthermore, there are no dwarves here. The closest thing to a dwarf currently standing at this crossroad is the halfling standing in front of the kenku". It was then that yet another traveler arrived at the crossroad. "There is no attack occurring here, noble triton" Jacoby calmly explained when Mirdas finished speaking "Merely a brief misunderstanding that is currently being cleared up. Also, I should point out that the 'bird sir' you are referring to is not an aarakocra as you believe him to be, but a kenku. they are quite different. And I do believe what you were trying to say as you approached us was 'she sells sea shells down by the sea shore' if that is of any help to you".
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The raven-feathered head bobbed to and fro as the kenku followed the conversation. Most humanoids had such odd naming conventions, insisting on a meaningless jumble of sounds that sounded vaguely wordlike. Those whose names had a meaning often didn't know the meaning or had no reason to care. Jacoby. Safira. Shaedra. Meaningless terms of reference, and yet required for interaction. Kenku names were more personal, chosen by the kenku himself to represent what they were known for. A collection of sounds... although other humanoids often were unable to replicate them. Another reminder of what he had lost.

The Sapphire sounded as uncomfortable with crowds as the Kenku was, withdrawing into her shell like a shy hatchling as others approached. The elf seemed concerned with some star, and her goal could potentially be of interest to the kenku. The word spoken behind her did not escape the kenku's hearing, and it sounded as if a companion were close by, be it animal, humanoid, or construct. She seemed from cursory glance a master of nature, perhaps of beasts, but appearances were oft inaccurate. Patience was key.

The next to appear was intriguing to say the least. A fish out of water, speaking in near gibberish and comparing him to the lofty and distant cousins whose wings were never clipped. The avian people that the gods still smiled upon were never allies of this kenku's, nor of any he had met. And yet, before the unintended insult could pass by ignored, the Jacoby one found it his place to correct the fish. And the elf. This kenku found it fortunate that the man had not found cause to correct his vocalizations yet.

Out came the flask as this Jacoby one talked, and the sound of liquid being consumed could be heard. Once the man had silenced himself, and barring any more immediate interruptions, the kenku deigned to respond. "Words are... words," came the sound of an elderly man, as if he were a teacher in a classroom performing a lecture. "Their meaning is meaningless on their own." The voice switched, now mimicking that of a young girl, full of wonder and curiosity. "Pleased to meetcha! My name is..."

What followed next was a series of sounds that could only be described as a boxing match being vocalized. Punches whizzed by, yet never seemed to land. The kenku ducked and weaved, almost looking as if he would fall over from the sudden movements, yet never quite losing his balance. The sounds and motions continued only a few seconds before they ceased, replaced by a man's voice drawling lazily and not a little bit drunk. "But y'all can call me... Bobbin Wiev. A damned kenku, no less!" The voice was replaced by the old teacher's voice, this time sounding energetic and happy. "We call him the Drunken Owlbear, too. You should see him fight!"

The head cocked towards the triton, and the kenku's eyes blinked lazily. The energy with which he had talked seemed to be an ill match for the kenku's current state. The voice next mirrored the triton's own words, a facsimile of the fish man's previous statement: "Guardian of the Flotes!" The kenku's head bobbed the other direction before the little girl's voice could be heard again. "What's that?"
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Here he was, traveling all by his lonesome. It was something of an unusual occurrence, since there were always travelers to be found who welcomed someone with a bit of woodcraft and the extra security provided he provided with his hunting bow. It didn't hurt that he was a fair shot and could usually bring something to the cook fire each night. Signod even tended to enjoy the company of fellow travelers, even if most of them were truly unappreciative of his talent with music. Most recently, some merchant who had taken him on as a guide/guard had described it along the lines of "sandpaper across his eardrums". Humans. Didn't know good from bad.

At any rate, he wasn't here for coin at the moment. He was after something more lasting. Perhaps it would amount to nothing but he had caught wind that there was the potential for glory here. It seemed all the local folk were positively buzzing with gossip, all centered around some mysterious shooting star seen coming down in this forest within the past couple days. The wild abandon of the rumor mill had churned out all sorts of explanations, ranging from apocalyptic planetary alignments to divine (or profane) intervention. Either way, Signod knew how these stories went, and he knew beyond shadow of doubt that the main character of those stories always ended up being the one who found the fallen star first. Now, there was always the risk that his story would end up with a title of "Signod the foolhardy" should some of the more dire rumors ended up being true. If that were the case, then his would be the tale told to children that was tied to some sort of cautionary tale regarding unreserved curiosity. Still, if you never took risks, you would never reap the best of rewards- at least he would be remembered for something.

There was one other thing that a number of rumors seemed to agree on. The talk was that the animals had all disappeared, or else gone completely silent. As he mulled that over, he did note that he had seen no wild animals the entire duration of his journey thus far. That is, until it began to grow dark and the reassuring flashes of fireflies began to crop up among the gathering dusk to the accompaniment of crickets. These familiar animal activities comforted him, demonstrating to him that the rumors were concerning the wildlife poofing away like some sort of Fae magic had taken hold of the forest were clearly wrong. Nay, the real reason he hadn't seen anything up until now was almost certainly due to him stomping around far too loudly and startling any small game away before he even caught a glimpse. Chiding himself both for getting caught up by crazy rumors and scaring away his potential supper with his carelessness, he continued on his way.

Before too much longer he began to hear sounds from up ahead. Not the sounds of most animals he might expect to encounter in these woods. Rather, it sounded like voices. Yes, voices for sure- he could pick out several different people talking. Fortunately, they didn't really sound like what he would expect if he were about to walk into an ambush by brigands. If that happened to be where fate was taking him, he expected he would hear nothing up until the scraping of steel on leather announced the drawing of weapons and the trap snapping shut. Still, it never hurt to be cautious. With that thought in mind, he rounded the last bend in the trail leading towards the voices, bringing a set of crossroads into full view.

For a moment, all Signod could do was stand there blinking at the spectacle. He was used to running into diverse groups in his travels, but this was something on an entirely different level. He wracked his memory briefly, trying to recall if the mushrooms he had foraged earlier in the day could have possibly possessed any hallucinogenic properties without his realizing. No, that probably wasn't it, which meant that this was probably real. Mayhaps he had happened across a troupe of carnival folk? "A human, an elf, a blind monk, a mermaid, a gnome, a drunken owlbear..." he grumbled under his breath. Heaving a sigh he stepped towards the bizarre assortment, "...and a dwarf bumped into each other at the crossroads." There had to be a joke in there somewhere. He primary concern was that he might not like the punchline.

"Well, I have no weapons drawn and I thank you all to follow my example." he spoke aloud, holding up two gnarled hands to demonstrate the truth of his words. "Got no real possessions of value, 'sides my hunting bow and no coin purse on me." They still might be brigands, just a highly irregular group who relied on their peculiar composition to put their victims off guard. "Rest of my party has me out scouting and will expect me back before long. If I don't get back in good time, they mean to turn around and head back to town with triple the normal guard, so I expect we'll have no funny business."
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The Harbinger of Ferocity Aspect of the Ferine

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It was not enough tonight, not for whatever hand played guide to them all, for more appeared in the forest as if drawn in by some ethereal net to be together. The woman paused, at first a bit frustrated they carried on without returning to what she reasoned brought them there, but as it were revealed a water-man and another dwarf joined them, rather a dwarf as the man called the other a "halfling". It was an odd halfling, whatever it was, but the elf was not about to argue semantics with any of them when the only ones she knew for certain just what they were the humans. Those at least were readily identifiable, yet the others were an odd mixture of littlefolk, some bigger, some smaller, and the rest were... beast-people or water-people. Or perhaps the water-man was a fish-man? At this point she could be none sure of any of them, barring the two overt exceptions.

"No, there will be no 'funny' business and no one is being attacked!"

It was all enough to rub the fur the wrong way, so the woman's previously soft tone became stern, almost certain. If it were not for the fact there was no way of her knowing if her claim were true at all, she might well have been tremendously accurate in this. In fact, she largely was but what difference at this rate it would make was debatable.

"I came to find the star and to where all the animals in the wood went." Her fiercer side calmed as she explained herself amidst the brewing chaos of so many foreign figures, "Is that is why you are all here? Trying to find the star?"

The elf's head tilted ever so gently to the side and she perked her shoulder, speaking with the subtle inquiry of words and body alike, "Or... did you all just wander here by accident?"

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Boram nearly jumped out of his skin when the elf suddenly yelled, a person being stern was like a person yelling to Boram, though she had tried to tell everyone, that no fight was happening, it only made the situation look even worse for him, a shiver went down his spine, this looked like something out of a surreal nightmare to Boram, tall people everywhere, tall fish people, this looked like some kind of freak show. he found himself straining his neck to look at everyone, as if he were a child looking at a adult. "count to ten and take deep breaths" he thought to himself, trying to get himself under control. Boram was pathetic and he knew it, he looked at his feet and looked in the direction of the savage elf-lady, who was talking about finding a star and animals, he found it weird that she was looking for that, why leave the safety of your home for a star and some smelly animals?."errr-I'm a adventurer!, Boram's my name" he confessed, though not truly, he wisely decided not to include some parts, mainly how he was a former crook and was on the run. "It's really the only way to provide for my family, now that the euh-all the deers went extinct" he added, though he suddenly felt intrigued how the elf was searching for animals.

Could it be possible that the deers were never extinct?, and that there was more to the story?, if he could find out how deep this rabbit hole went, he could restore deers to deer town, then he wouldn't have to run, he could go back to the warm fire of his family's loving home. "What about the animals?, did they all disappear?." he asked, curious like a little child.

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Safira paled visibly at the addition of yet another traveler to this crossroads party. Her pale complexion a stark contrast to her crimson huntress attire. She felt the urge to rummage in her satchel and start working on her alchemy. Tinkering with her mutagens always put her mind at ease. But this wasn't the time nor the place for that. The distressed huntress glanced at Bobbin, the kenku, and his flask of spirits. She wished she could turn to it for courage like he appeared to be doing. But alcohol didn't mix well with her formulas so that wasn't a possibility as well. Safira cast one last wistful glance at the flask and turned her attention to the lady elf. She was inquiring all of them as to their motives for being in this forest.

No! She wouldn't tell them her reasons. Why should she do that? She'd done the necessary. She'd been polite and given her name. She didn't owe these people anything. Especially her reasons for being in this forest at this time. With each new thought Safira sank deeper and deeper within herself and at the same time her huntress instincts began to surface. Whenever she felt crushed by the weight of social anxiety, she fell back on her more basic instincts. She tuned out the world of people and tuned in to the world of animals and critters. She tried this escape here and now and was abruptly reminded why she was at this forest, on this crossroad, among these people. Because the animals were gone. Or silenced. Or who knew what exactly. As she pondered the conundrum she began muttering under her breath.

"The animals. No animals. Silence. Where are they? Gone? Or...? Is it this star?" She wasn't really talking to herself. It was just that her thoughts were no longer contained within her mind, but were escaping sotto voce through her lips.
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A sleek, four-legged figure stayed hidden in the bushes behind the druid. The figure kept his golden eyes on the other humanoids and his surroundings as Shaedra tried to break through the other humanoids' meaningless prattle and foolish actions. If a big cat could roll his eyes, Jamil had done so multiple times by now. Only Shaedra would be able to hear the light, almost quiet, sounds of the panther's huffs and growls, and be able to interpret it as such,

"Elf-cub. Why are we wasting our time with these...humans and not-humans? I thought you wanted to see the--"

He stops mid-sentence and he looks to the side. He turns his body towards the direction he was looking towards earlier, and positions himself, lowering his body and preparing to dash in that direction. He could smell it. There was the smell of blood and metal, smells that are not natural in a forest. From his travels with Shaedra, he learned to never ignore that scent.

Boram, Mirdas, and Jacoby would have noticed a pair of eyes watching them at some point during the discussion. After a rustle of the bushes, and they looked back to that spot where the eyes were, the eyes are gone.

Shaedra would see Jamil dash off at an impressive speed.

Everyone in the group now would hear the silence and tranquility of the forest shatter at the sound of a loud roar, and a scream echo afterwards.

Jamil was now pinning a squirming human to the ground, and was snarling, but making no move to bite yet. He would only bite if Shaedra wishes for this man's life to be extinguished. The human was wearing leather armor, with a white shirt, brown pants, and a red sash and bandana. On his leather armor there is also a symbol with the letters "BB" branded on it. He was desperately trying to escape from the panther's claws, and while he did so, he puckered up his lips and let out a shrill whistle that echoed through the forest.
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The Harbinger of Ferocity Aspect of the Ferine

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The hinterlander had broken through, at least in part and where it mattered at least for her, so she could not help but let a smile tug at her lips; the conversation of animals was life to her, animals were life to her, both in creative sense and down to the exact definition of what living things were. There was no hiding that she listened intently to the odd halfling, but not in any manner that was aggressive, instead loose in posture and offering a methodical nod of her head time to time and a gentle hum of agreement, not without the slow squinting and relaxed blinking of her otherwise vibrant eyes. Perhaps halflings were like the cats great and small, maybe he would subconsciously understand the unspoken language being transmitted.

"I think they have. There should be more, a lot more... at least a normal amount. Something odd is going on and the only thing I know that has really changed was the star. That is why I need to find out if that is true. Or if something else is responsible..." The woman's voice trailed off as her attention turned from the little hunter to the other woman who eyed her warily, some internal battle of wills ongoing in her.

Yet before she could so much as address her own questions that grew from this exchange of glances, a familiar voice spoke to her, causing her to turn her head to look back over the shoulder. She listened first, a light sigh escaping her mouth as the unseen companion berated the more human company, but her demeanor shifted the moment he went abruptly silent. At such an unexpected event, the elf turned at the waist, not surrendering her footing and brushed a bit of hair from her face; she pierced the moonlit forest with a stare, knowing just where one shadow did not belong and it was off in a rush, a bolt of black fur. The wildwalker spun to look at the rest of the wanderers on the path, utterly confused, did she turn again in place and then start after her companion, with only the time to yell a few words to them in the surprise.

"That isn't right! Something must have happened!"

With a start, her legs had already sought to begin navigating the forest floor with their long strides from the moment they entered the brush. There was no real time to explain, as despite the loyalty of her pantherine ally and his willingness to hold off his attack for her, whatever it was he was bound to be wrestling with was not bound to those rules. The wild elf was not about to let anything become of that fact.

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When the sounds of a man being pounced upon by Shaedra's animal companion, Jacoby's empty hand closed around thin air. A moment later, an elegantly crafted longsword appeared in his hand that seemed to glow softly with the same shade of blue the eye in Jacoby's orb gave off. Jacoby walked over to where the man was being held by Jamil. "Hmm..." Jacoby said and the eye in his orb examined the man before coming to a stop at the 'BB' burned onto the man's leather armor. "BB..." Jacoby commented "I assume it stands for 'Barnaby Brothers', a bandit group that operates in this forest. If any of you aren't looking for a fight, I suggest you move on. That whistle he just let off was probably a call for help". If the whistle was indeed meant as a call for help, Jacoby had every indention of staying to face the bandits. They were a danger to the innocent and their actions were detestable. The less there were of them in the forest, the better.
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@Guardian Angel Haruki@The Harbinger of Ferocity@rush99999@ihinka@Pennydumb123@0 Azzy 0@JBRam2002

The Triton smiled as he heard the words noble Triton from the blind sir. The begilled man was suddenly beguiled at such a small compliment, stabbing his trident into the ground and taking off his conch helm, briefly shaking free his damp, brown hair, magnificently shining as moonlight dazzles upon it ever so delicately. Hearing both explanations from the sightless and the befeathered, Mirdas’s guard lowered ever so slightly.

”Ah, a Kenku! Children of the Sky afflict'd by the malediction of the Dark Prince, if 't be true I’m not wrong. Mine own condolences.” Mirdas bowed his head, apologetically. Letting the Kenku continue with his... unique matter of speaking, Mirdas raised his eyebrow in curiosity. And when the Kenku known as Bobbin Wiev asked Mirdas of his knightly order and its purpose, the piscine prince let out a hearty laugh, amused at another chance to explain his people’s greatness.

”I am most fain thee has't hath asked, l'rd Bobbin of Wiev! Us Triton art the most holiest defend'rs of the ocean depths! with a tenacity of the greatest flote bruin and the might of the most f'rocious krak-“

The Triton’s nose- why do fish people have noses?- suddenly crinkled in disgust, as if something dire had happened. He looked around, wondering if it were true, and laying his eyes on the Dwarven newcomer. Did he just say the M word? Mirdas could have sworn he heard it... Either way, this along with the apparent threat he has made had caused the Triton’s expression to crumble in rage. As the others went on to talk about... missing animals, was it? The Triton wasn’t too sure, and didn’t seem to care, becoming far overheated so easily. He dropped his helmet, pulling his trident out of the ground and looking as if he were about to explode until...

Until Mirdas had noticed something was off.

Turning to the pair of eyes, Mirdas pointed viciously at the direction. You! The Triton growled, steaming like a lobster. Before he could proceed further, a panther suddenly pounced on the interloper- a man in leather armor, who let out some sort of... whistle?

Unable to piece together what that whistle means, Mirdas decided to take matters into his own webbed hands. Stomping forward, bubbling with rage and ignoring the others, the finned fighter pointed his trident to the man’s face, bearing his teeth before he began in a commanding tone...

Yond whistle! Bid me what yond means, 'r I shall skew'r thee on mine own trident and weareth thy knott'd c'rpse like a bann'r!



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It became quite evident relatively quickly that this group of carnival folk were not, in fact, a group at all. If he had to take a guess, he might almost say that the whole lot of them stumbled upon this exact same spot at the exact same time just as he had. He wasn't much of a superstitious man, but the odds involved here were quite a bit more of longshot than he was comfortable with. At least he could accept the small solace that it didn't seem like any of the people in his immediate vicinity were about to pull a knife on him the moment he turned his back.

As things stood, unless someone tried to pick a fight or engage him in direct conversation, Signod was more than content maintaining a gruff silence until he got a better feel for this bizarre hodgepodge of people. Almost immediately he had to roll his eyes in disgust as the elf started parroting that ludicrous gossip about the animals all being gone, even as the crickets continued their song and the fireflies dotted the growing darkness with their luminescent rumps. Dwarven rule number one in dealing with elves: you can always count on their ignorance. In this case, it seemed the fancy-pants elven maiden didn't even possess enough basic wilderness knowledge to realize that insects were animals too. Or perhaps she had some other pretentious elven thought- mayhaps she considered such animals not aesthetically pleasing enough for those delicate elven sensibilities and as such were beneath her notice or consideration?

At that thought, Signod had to bite back a bark of laughter, turning it into an amused snort instead. He looked around, waiting expectantly for someone to tell the elf to open her eyes and look to the forest if she wanted to find some animals, then suggest she learn how to move more stealthily so she wouldn't scare off all the rest. Unfortunately, they all seemed to be going along with this farce. Dwarven rule number two for dealing with elves: all the more foolish of races out there tended to let themselves get beguiled by elven nonsense for no good reason.

Fairly abruptly, the relative peacefulness of the forest was shattered by a feral sounding roar, followed shortly after by a scream. "Whelp, there's the animals yer looking for." Signod chortled, this time not bothering to hold back the bark of laughter. Though some of the others seemed intent on rushing into the woods to see what the commotion was about, Signod was smart enough to stick to the trail instead of blundering around half-blind. Instead, he calmly drew his bow and nocked an arrow just in case things went South.
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