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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Hero
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For a majority of the trip, Luna seemed fascinated with the aldite given to them. She continued to study it, noting its shape and color. She gave it a critical eye as she glanced back at the unoccupied slots on her bow. Now would be a good time to see what aldite could do, so she supposed it was certainly an opportunity. At the very least, she could discern that one piece was supposed to represent wind. It was quaint, if a little unsatisfactory. But this must be what hunters use, otherwise why else would it be given to them? With that in mind, she slipped the aldite into the slot without hesitation, plucking the string to test it. It seemed very weak to her, but perhaps that was the standard.

Once they reached the forest, Luna frowned as she looked around, a cold chill running up her spine. She rubbed her arms as she squinted at the trees, seemingly disturbed. Why was the miasma so thick here? She could feel it on her skin despite knowing they weren't necessarily close to the source, the feeling giving her a great amount of discomfort. Biting down on her index finger, she wondered if she should strike out on her own to find what was causing it.

She snapped out of her thoughts as Balder spoke. Oh, right, the miniboros. Slinging her bow off her shoulder, she reached into the quiver and pulled out an arrow. As much as she wanted to believe that her tutor's lectures would come in handy, she couldn't bring herself to admit just how nervous the whole situation made her. Was now a bad time to mention she had never actually seen a fiend before? Even if it wasn't that, however, the constant chill she got was probably the biggest distraction. She was a touch frantic as she looked around, clutching her bow with a death grip.

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Ianthe

Forests, were unfamiliar territory for Ianthe. Aside from the crops, Argo had been a fairly desolate place insofar as flora were concerned. And fauna. And people. Desolate of just about everything but bandits and fiends, really. But the unfamiliar beasts hanging in the guild hall hadn’t dissuaded her, and a few trees certainly weren’t going to, either.

She hadn’t fussed over the supplies too much. Potions and the like were standard, as Balder had mentioned, and while the aldite was a slight divergence from that, the stones were—practically speaking—entirely useless to her. Ianthe had seen magic only a few times, and most often it was wielded by whatever eleventh-rate mage the bandits could get their hands on, or by a traveling magician visiting the market towns. Neither had particularly impressed her, but then, being inept with the arcane herself, she wasn’t exactly a good litmus for what was and was not “good” magic. Regardless of all that, the closest thing she had to slots in her arms and armor were the countless chips and dents riddling them. So the tiny gemstones stayed in their bag. Maybe they’d fetch a few extra coin when this was all over.

She kept her sword sheathed as they walked, though her hand rested upon the hilt, and the shield strapped to her offhand was more important if they were going to be ambushed. There was something wrong to her about traveling with a naked blade, something almost feral, like an invitation to violence. Weapons put people on edge, that was half their job, in her mind, and it seemed like most of their group was wound up tightly enough as it was.

She’d watched the tinker boy cobble together a few grenades, and that was entertaining, if completely beyond her. The spear-wielding girl joined her and Avaddon at the front with Balder, and that was pleasant. She was confident, like the rest, but less…abrasively. And that weapon, Ianthe guessed, had seen its share of uses.

Behind them, among the parts of the party she and the others at Balder’s side were meant to protect, Ianthe couldn’t help but notice Luna looked…off. Nervous was the word, like the boy Edgar had seemed back at the hall. Now that they’d left the warmth of the city though, and the tinker no longer seemed as worked up, Luna was still the same, if not worse. Ianthe had made a point not to judge those who looked out of place, but it would have been beyond bad form to leave that sort of nervousness unaddressed.

It was too bad she had absolutely no idea how to go about addressing it.

Confident that the trio of Balder, Avaddon and Mitra could handle the front for the moment, Ianthe dropped back a few paces, beside Luna. She gave the girl a gentle nudge with her elbow, hoping not to spook her, and offered a reassuring thumbs-up. Or maybe it was more of an inquisitive thumbs-up. Or maybe it just seemed patronizing, and made her look like an asshole. Maybe it was an asshole thumbs-up.

Words, Ianthe. You’re a big girl. Use your words.

“Hey,” she offered. “Uhm…cool bow.”

Cool bow. Cool Bow. Cool Bow. Cool Bow. Cool Bow. Cool Bow. Cool Bow.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Raijinslayer
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A v a d d o n


"Same here for me, though given the nature of our target. . . it'll likely blend in with all of this greenery." Avaddon walked with Balder towards the head of the pack, finishing up the last few details of his own weapon maintenance. Rather than the battle gloves or tiger claws that many of his profession tended to go with, the Fabulian Monk wore only a set of hand-wraps. Tough ivory colored fabric clashed with the orange-red of his skin as it coiled around his hands and forearms, ending with a corded threat that hung down for his elbows. At the end of this cord sat the Aldite which he'd been given, casting a dull red glow as if it were a dying ember. Tightening his wraps with a single tug each, the large man gave a contented nod.

As the group came to a halt, Avaddon took a relaxed stance, arms raised high and fingers curved inward in a clawed fashion. The first few strikes struck at naught but air, distorting it as it passed through due to the heat being generated by the Aldite placed in their sockets. Mostly satisfied at seeing that his wraps were functioning properly, the Monk would strike once more. This time, with a target in mind.

The poor tree had no chance to defend itself as Avaddon's fingers tore into its bark, the acrid smell of burning wood flowing into the air as he left the strike to sit for a moment, then tearing the chunk of charred bark he'd created out, smiling in anticipation. Tossing the charred would back and forth in between his hands, he turned his attention out to the forest proper. With an almost nonchalant air, he tossed the charred lump out into the side forest, falling into a stance in tune to the soft rattle of his scales clattering against each other.

This is what he loved more than anything else. . . the quiet before the storm, where everyone was on a razor's edge. He had nothing to say, nothing to proclaim, only a desire that was barely held back by his years of experience in the Fabul deserts. In situations like these, the one who acted first was the one who exposed the biggest opening.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Artemisia


Though maybe mundane for the others, the journey to the woods kept Artemisia's wandering mind occupied. Unlike Alexandria natives or traveled mercenaries, after all, she was seeing this land for the first time. Something as simple as how commonfolk -both in the city and beyond- conducted their lives, or the pastoral scenes of this region's flora, interested her. One footstep at a time, she could fill in bits of the grand map of the world that floated about in her head. If she learned anything during her tour of the Free Cities and Bellas as a whole, it was that reality contained so much more than she could possibly imagine. To truly live, she felt sure, meant to experience that abundance.

So she did not grow distant or bored, but she did grow something else, and it quickly became a problem. About halfway through, her breathing started to get heavier, and by three quarters she started wheezing. By the time the group came to a stop at the border of the uncommonly grim and foreboding forest, Artemisia was wheezing and sweating. “Guh!” she sputtered. “You all...certainly keep...a brisk pace.” Straightening up, she took a few deep breaths. “Aah....ahh...ohh. Goodness.” While pretty defenseless as she tried to recover, she figured one of the fighter-types was looking out for her. Otherwise, what were they good for?

Only after composing herself did the mood of the place really settle in on her. Just peering between those murky trees tickled her fight-or-flight response, telling her survival instincts that perhaps some coins could be better earned elsewhere. She glanced at Balder for reassurance only to find a pall of apprehension floating over the team's veteran hunter like a dark cloud, which helped to tank her confidence. Things were not as they should be. Everyone could tell that, let alone feel it, but it seemed as though they would be advancing anyway. Small wonder about that meager life expectancy. It would be foolish not to expect a fight. As the others formed up, with the melee fighters constructing a reasonably sturdy front line and Avaddon in particular bullying a tree to show off, Artemisia hurried after them.

Once close enough for comfort she rummaged around in her supply sack for the fragment of wind aldite, which she weighed in her hand and gave an expert's appraisal. A sigh and a shrug made clear her opinion on its quality, but nevertheless she pulled up her sleeve to pop the relatively worthless decorative quartz out of her bangle so she could insert the aldite instead. “Such an unwelcoming gloom typically portends the congregation of fiends,” she advised. The others no doubt expected an attack to be a possibility, but Artemisia supposed she might as well confirm it just in case. While unhappy that further exertion seemed unavoidable, Artemisia kept a cool head. If forced to fight, her enemies would not find her wanting. The same couldn't be said for Luna, however, who wanted for more than a little calmness right now. Ianthe noticed it too, even going so far as to leave point duty to her fellows and fall back to give the archer some comfort. Artemisia couldn't help but wonder how comforting Luna found Ianthe's compliment, though.

The farther in the group got, the less at ease the black mage became, little by little. “Whereee are youuuu....?” she whispered, scanning between the trees.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Hero
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A thumbs up? Luna wasn't entirely sure what the knight meant by that. Oh, she must have noticed how frazzled Luna was. How careless, striking disconcert among the group was nothing short of detrimental. She was surrounded by more experienced people--hopefully--so she must have looked as shaken as a leaf in the fall season. Still, as embarrassing as it was, the young knight's gesture came a long way, with Luna offering a small smile in return.

At the question, Luna looked down at the bow. "Oh, this?" She placed the arrow back in its quiver and then plucked one of the strings on the 'harp' part of the bow. "It's lovely, isn't it? I hadn't the faintest thought that my harp skills could translate into battle!" She admitted, her fingertips running over the strings. Then again, she was shocked that such a thing was apparently common. And to think her mother used to laud her for her skills. Oh well, at the very least she hoped she would be of some use. And this tiny harp was easier to carry around than the full-sized version.

That said, she couldn't help her curiosity when she asked, "I don't believe I heard you introduce yourself. What can I call you?"

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Ianthe

It really was a harp, wasn’t it? Ianthe hadn’t been sure whether the extra strings served any practical function or if they were purely decoration. Instead, it seemed to be a combination of the two. She still wasn’t sure why the bow had a harp fashioned into it, but she also would have been lying if she said it wasn’t damn pretty.

Perhaps it was a magical thing, the girl had slotted aldite into it, after all. That was good. Old-fashioned archery would likely match the miniboros just fine, but if the mission grew a little more severe…well, the more Ianthe considered that possibility, the more grateful she was to have prospective mages on her side, like Luna, and the foppish Blaike, and…the other one. The winded one with the good sense of danger.

“Guess you’ll be writing all the ballads, then, about our mighty triumphs over the…ah…rioting cabbages,” She said, and offered Luna a smile in return. “Ianthe. Uh—I mean—my name is Ianthe.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Inkarnate
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Ferris Wood | Winding Paths


“This isn't... your first time using the bow part, is it?” Mitra thought aloud, the question being on her mind as she walked at pace with the others.

The blonde had been trained to use a spear for years, so this wasn’t her first rodeo, though for others it very well might have been. Not everyone was as privileged as she had been or as trained. She had picked up her first training spear when she was seven years old, though it wasn’t much of one. She thought about it often. A time where things were happier and she wasn’t forced to trudge through and work for a country she had been raised to despise. ‘Alexandrians hate us more than anything else in the world.’ One of her instructors at the Imperial Academy had said. Looking back, she wasn’t sure how much of it was true.

She shrugged off the thought, keeping her focus on her side of the woods.

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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Savo
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Blaike Fremont

Location:: Ferris Woods
Date:: 21st Sun of Ondine
Interactions:: Artemisia, Avaddon, Balder, Edgar, Ianthe, Luna, and Mitra

"I'm sure she has; come on have a little faith in her," Blaike finally spoke up after keeping to himself for a while, smiling at the women. Was like that when he entered the forest and a little more chatty than when they entered it, even getting a better idea about Artemisia's profession and general skills. She was a mage like him, though she had a bit of mystique and a certain allure that conceptualized in the form of a saucy yet dangerous woman. At least, that's what ran through his head.

And then she displayed a slow, degradation of stamina, becoming completely winded faster than the rest of the party. Opted to stay behind and keep an eye on her while staying on guard, but eventually she did recover, somewhat. There was plenty of things to juggle now, with the issues of the Black Mage's stamina to managing their flank, and even having to stay on guard.

Blaike tightly gripped his blade, flicking something near the guard to reveal a compartment of where he slotted in two aldite before closing it; fire and wind, a decent combination to stir the flames, especially with these monsters lingering about. After inspecting the weapon and the aldite for the fifth time throughout this journey, Blaike bit his lip and closed the compartment; that wasn't changing.

Regardless, looking to his flank and checking up on Artemisia every couple of seconds, jerking his head from one direction to the next as a tiny flicker of flames formed in the palm Blaike's other hand before being snuffed out when he clenched it into a fist. Picking up the pace a bit, he kept an eye on the Black Mage, taking Ianthe's place temporarily up front as he looked over to Mitra.

"Hey, uhm, Mitra, you OK?" While Blaikes smile was still there, it was a lot more muted and toned down than usual as he looked at the girl.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Inkarnate
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Ferris Wood | Winding Paths


“Mhm.”

While the blonde’s response was cheerful and polite, Mitra felt it a certain yet different way.

She had known the Red Mage once in her life and seeing him in the guild hall had caused a certain feeling rise up in her gut. It was one of the reasons she rushed to introduce herself as Mitra and not her trueborn name. She didn’t like people knowing things she didn’t want them to know. There were other reasons that she chose to keep her responses to Blaike minimal and playfully antagonistic throughout the journey from the guild hall to the Ferris Woods. History. Feelings left unresolved. If she was somewhere private she might’ve screamed into the void, her frustration about the situation incomparable to anything else.

But just as the Red Mage knew Mitra’s true name she also knew his and it certainly wasn’t Fremont. He had been born with a much more flowery and pretentious name. Full of titles and everything. She couldn’t believe he was standing there. He hadn’t explained anything. He was too busy grandstanding like he did when they were kids to care.

It was whatever. What was the likelihood she’d have to pal around with him as the token Red Mage forever?

“Just looking for miniboros, like I said.”

Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Hero
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Rioting cabbages, how humorous! Luna was greatly amused by the little joke, unable to contain a giggle as she pictured the monsters as vegetables. On hearing the name, Luna's eyes widened, an odd shine to them as the knight introduced herself. Before she could respond, however, the dragoon--Mitra?--asked if she had any experience with her weapon. Luna deflated slightly, her jaw working as she wondered if she should admit her experience, or lack thereof. But what if she was asked to stay behind? Hiding it didn't seem right, either. What a conundrum.

Fortunately, the red mage--Blaike, yes she was sure of that one--spoke, taking the attention away from her. Luna returned his smile, looking back at Ianthe as he focused on Mitra. She put on a grin, absolutely ecstatic as she practically hopped along. "Your name is like the flower! How pretty!" Luna exclaimed without really thinking, immediately launching into an explanation. "Well, the word itself translates into 'a flower of purple color' and there are a few species of violet colored flowers that fall under that category, but it's better known as a species of butterfly: the Pseudoneptis bugandensis ianthe. Except, I never quite understood it because the butterfly seemed to be more a shade of indigo than a violet color? At least from the pictures I've seen in the library, but if I ever run into one while we are out here, I'd love nothing more than to properly discern its color."

At the very end, she fell silent as she looked around. She didn't think that they would see any while here if she was honest. Animals had a tendency to avoid the miasma, although whether it was instinct or the up-rise in fiends was up to debate. Poor creatures, having their home invaded.

She gasped as she realized she forgot to respond to the other half of Ianthe's statement, waving the bow around a touch. "Songs are my forte, believe it or not! I've played the harp since I could reach and pluck the strings. Mother said it was a dignified talent to learn," Luna swelled with pride as she spoke. "My tutors spent plenty of time teaching me archery as well, and I greatly enjoyed shooting while on horseback!"

Luna paused for a moment, deflating again as she looked downwards. "...although, I admit this would be the first time I've used both skills in conjunction..." She admitted sheepishly. "B-But I won't be a burden! I swear!"

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Artemisia


As the group of hunters advanced, the atmosphere of the forest surrounding them continued to be more than a little impressive, but it didn't exactly get any worse, at least not at any noticeable speed. Nothing jumped out at them just yet, so Artemisia's rising apprehension started to even out. Still, she couldn't exactly start her mind wandering at a time like this, so she contented herself with listening to the dialogue between dainty Luna and her new lady knight friend. Despite the circumstances, the mention of Luna's bow seemed to lift her spirits, her manner quite casual all of a sudden. The knightess replied in kind, also pretty lighthearted if a little forced. Is she trying to break the tension? Because it's working. She even went as far as to introduce herself, offering a rare and nice-sounding name that made Artemisia think.

Toward the other side of the party, the spearmaiden and swordsman exchanged a few curt phrases, their 'conversation' as succinct as it was unsatisfying. As such Artemisia turned her attention back to the others, just in time for Luna's bright, excited voice to ring out through the woodlands in a far-too-cheerful examination of the name, revealing it to be both a name for a butterfly and a flower. The black mage didn't mind, though, since random facts like that never failed to capture her attention. ”Hm, is that a fact?” In addition, the thought of such a formidable and stolid-looking lady knight having such a cute and girly name made Artemisia giggle. Almost like an expression of inner beauty and whimsy, buried deep down under all that discipline and muscle. If she's got a reputation to uphold, she might keep that name hidden away beneath that armor too, sharing it with only those she trusts to see her true self. Wait, no, she just told it to a bunch of strangers.

Almost getting so sidetracked that she stopped paying attention, Artemisia tuned back in just in time to realize that whether she meant it or not Luna was saying something else, aside from that she knew a lot about organisms. Whoa, she grew up with access to a library? She might have lived in a big city like Civitas Miribilia. But who's a tutor? Some kind of teacher? Not wanting to come off like the uneducated mountain yokel she technically was, though, the black mage kept quiet. Instead, since there seemed to be no monsters around at the moment and nobody said to be quiet, she decided to repay Luna's trivia with some of her own. That meant trampling right over the girl's rather childish lack of self-assurance, of course, but that was hardly her fault. We're not a support group, after all.

”If you know that, you probably know about the plant I'm named after too. Well, less plant and more family of plants. Worts, sagebrushes, sage, wormwood, even tarragon. Not exactly flowers, I'll give you that, but still plenty good. Strong odor, strong flavor, strong all around. We don't die easy.” She crossed her arms, looking proud herself. “Plus, you get absinthe and vermouth from the stuff. Pretty cool, right?” The whole time she neglected to mention her name, but if Luna knew her stuff she might even be able to guess it.

Artemisia, however, gave her only a few moments before fixing her with an innocently inquisitive look. If Luna wanted to chat, she ought to experience an expert, and though no doubt a woman of many talents Ianthe wasn't cutting it. “Almost as cool as someone with libraries, and tutors, and fortes who goes shooting for enjoyment becoming a monster hunter, huh? You must be a real natural talent. What's your story?” Sure, she was putting Luna on the spot, but Artemisia's voice held no hostility. As a connoisseur of stories, she wanted to learn what made the girl tick.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Hero
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The mage spoke to them, and Luna had to admit presenting her name in a riddle delighted her to no end. Another plant, what were the odds that all three of them had plant-based names? Absinthe and vermouth from a family of plants including wormwood, huh? She took a moment to think for a second, although she had a guess, face brightening up considerably.

"Ah, mugwort, sagebrushes, wormwood--the most common of which we have around is best known as artemisia absinthium, and those do have very small, yellow flowers on them. Your name is Artemisia? That's a lovely name as well!" She guessed. "Some say that the name originates from another, 'Artemis', and while its origins are uncertain, there is speculation that it has relation to the term árktos, or 'bear', but this is mostly guesswork or coincidence."

At Artemisia's line of questioning, Luna's smile seemed painted on her face as she let out a nervous laugh, tucking some of her hair behind her ear. She supposed she did reveal a little too much about herself all at once. She would need to correct that behavior sooner than later; they had just met and already someone was able to correctly deduce that something was off about her. How troublesome! "W-Well...yes, I did grow up with more privilege than most, I admit," She said sheepishly, avoiding her gaze. "However, I...I feel that there is little I can accomplish surrounded by walls and books. To take action is the right course, and to travel effectively, one must join the guild. I wish only to help in every way I can, even if it means leaving the safety of my home." She frowned, looking at the forest. "I must be able to do something..."

She seemed to catch herself, waving her free hand around frantically. "But look at me, going on and on like a ninny," She laughed more genuinely. "Please, tell me more about yourselves! I admit in my sheltered life I have very little in terms of social circles."

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Inkarnate
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Ferris Wood | Winding Paths


“I’d rather, erm, focus on the task at hand than small talk. We’ve got a mission. I can't afford to fail this.” Mitra remarked, subtly digging at the girl's obvious need to not be here.

Despite focusing on her flank of the trail, eyeing the woods for any suspicious movement, Mitra had been listening. Her meandering about songs and libraries and privilege was annoying, though Mitra couldn’t find her too grating. Mitra had once been in a similar situation back in the empire; toiling through sewers for adventure instead of staying behind safe walls of the manor she had been raised in. Where they differed was their current circumstances, though, and Mitra was often short-sighted and judgmental even if it could be a little hypocritical at times.

She bit her lip as the thought passed her mind.

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The forest paths continued to wind and become more difficult to traverse. Balder's mood seemed to grow darker and darker the further they went. Was this the right path? Were they lost? By now, the maps had grown completely useless. The paths did not match up, and there were no landmarks or guidestones to tell exactly where they were.

"I may have made a mistake leading you all in here..." Balder muttered with a grimace, before a loud rustling and shadowy shape erupted into the path they were on.



"Blwaarrughhh!!!" The creature seemed to warble at the group, it's goofy and boulbous eyes scanning them all, before quickly spinning around on its small tendrils and quickly scurrying away.

"There it is!" Balder yelled, drawing his blade, before standing, dumbfounded as it retreated. "It...ran away. Why?"



Farris Wood
Deep Woods. 21st Sun of Ondine



"Wait did it just run away?" Edgar called from the middle of the pack. "Then let's catch it! Or...kill it! Whatever we're supposed to do!" Edgar grabbed Francesca from his toolbelt, waving the large metal wrench around. "It didn't look that scary!" It almost looked kind of cute, actually!

"Hold up." Balder said. "Miniboros and Malboros are supposed to be mindless beasts. They don't know fear. Or tactics. It should have attacked us head on. But it didn't." His eyes narrowed. "Something is different. We follow, but carefully. Everyone should be ready for an attack from any direction."

A mist began to form underfoot. It seemed like the kind of fog one would find when near a large body of water, and for everyone in the group, it seemed to be of no matter. But at that moment, Luna would feel a sheer pain in the back of her head, as if someone had driven a needle deep inside. Something connected to the mist.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Savo
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Blaike Fremont

Location:: Ferris Woods
Date:: 21st Sun of Ondine
Interactions:: Artemisia, Avaddon, Balder, Edgar, Ianthe, Luna, and Mitra

Blaike glanced over to the wayside, musing to himself, keeping an eye on the foliage while the glow from his eyes seemed to vanish for a bit. Something was up with her and he could tell it in her eyes, to the way she shifted around Avaddon; seemed a bit too stiff if you asked him. "Mitra," he muttered to himself as his thoughts drifted back to Labrenthian. Just what exactly caused her to come all the way there? Was there another slaughter, forcing her to leave as well?

Blaikes eyes suddenly shifted, flaring up as he swore he heard some ruffling in the bushes. Maybe he was getting a bit too paranoid and jumping at the first opportunity? Eh, maybe, but he would never admit that to the group as his sword hand drooped as bit before he returned it to its upright position.

He pretended to not listen to the groups chattered behind him; he was surprised Avaddon and Edgar weren't getting in on the action as well, but then again, someone had to keep watch and it couldn't be just couldn't be the Proctor. Ianthe was a rather pretty name for the lady knight, he wouldn't exactly lie, plus it was coupled with the little trivia on top of that; the priestess seemed to be well-learned, or at the very least, curious in plant-life.

Maybe in another life he would of taken up a job as an alchemist or herbalist, but that would probably just be plain silly, even for him. Brushing aside the thoughts, Blaike peered behind himself, raising an eyebrow with a inquiring frown. Maybe she wasn't a priestess like he thought, even though she was wearing the garbs for it. Of course, it seems the Black Mage had also known a bit about plant-life as well, with her name being a reference to one, which Luna instantly discerned. She was quite apt in this category it seemed.

However, Artemisia didn't seem to let up and looked to push Luna for more as Blaike turned away. Heh, glad he wasn't the only one who wanted to know more about her. As Mystery Lady Luna began to jabber on, a picture of what her background was like began to form; the thing that most stood out to him, however, was the fact that she was sheltered. That tiny, minuscule detail seemed to stick out like a nail needing to be hammered down... but that could be done later

"Ah come on, we're gonna be guildmates after this mission; I feel a little chatting won't hurt, just so long as we drop it once the fighting starts." Blaike glanced over in Mitra's direction with a cat-like smile as he tilted his head, stroking his chin with his free hand, before lightly snapping and pointing a finger gun to the trees.

"Oh, I know, how about the history of one of my inventions?" Blaike knew that this would possibly take some heat off the noblewoman, hopefully making her a little more comfortable to share what House she was from later on. "It originally started out as a machine that utilized the energy of aldite, as well as specific properties from two different types as a way to decrease the temperature around the machine," Blaike shoved a hand into the satchel the Proctor gave him before pulling out one of the complimentary aldite's, a light-blue one at that, and deftly flicking open the compartment for his sword and pointing the the white aldite with his thumb.

"Water and wind aldite; use both of them together and you can create quite the chilling combination, but I digr-"

Before he could finish his statement, Balder murmured something before some tiny figure emerged onto the path, drawing Blaike's attention as he popped the aldite he was holding back into the bag while flicking his swords compartment close with one thumb. A small flame began to form in his hand as the small, tentacled creature began to trill at the group, as if it was... analyzing them?

No, no, these were Minibros! These stupid creatures had no line of thought, aside from attacking and eating the nearest victim. Was probably sizing up who the most delectable member of the group was before running away.

Wait what. That didn't sound right, and neither did it look right either. As Blaike arched his arm back, ready to toss some flames in its face, the creature retreated. The Red Mage merely blinked as his jaw was slightly agape. Of course, Edgar was all too enthusiastic to pursue it; a reckless endeavor that would of possibly got the Apprentice piled on and eaten by multiple Minibros had it not been for the Proctor's intervention.

"Are you suggesting that we could be ambushed, Mister Grescott," he inquired, sounding deathly serious as he lookied directly at the Proctor. "We don't know what's awaiting for us, but maybe instead two of us from the group could scout ahead and figure out what that Minibros is up to? What do you all think?"
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Inkarnate
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Ferris Wood | Winding Paths


“Wait.” Mitra uttered, as she peered through her side of the woods. “Rushing ahead isn't smart. The proctor is right. It's better to get ambushed as a group than be down two people.”

As observant as Blaike seemed to be, there were things that he didn’t pick up on. Mitra knew this about him due to her prior history with the Red Mage, a history that he kept trying to subtly remind her of with his inane comments and ridiculous grandstanding before the mist had set in between their feet.

Her hands gripped her weapon tighter, her curiosity with the creatures compounded with her own nerves. Miniboros were supposed to be impulsive as the proctor said. She had never read or heard of a situation where they fled from any party of adventurers. The proctor was dumbfounded, inevitably more experienced than she was; if he had been taken off guard by this action then something was up and no amount of Blaike's arrogance was going to help the situation any. She wanted to more boldly reprimand him, but she kept her words brief and under the pretense of friendliness.

“This isn't a research lab or classroom, Mr. Red Mage. Don't do something dumb!”

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Luna frowned at Mitra's comment, although she had to admit it did embarrass her a little. She was right, this wasn't supposed to be a day trip, even if she found herself greatly enjoying the group's company. Still, she didn't mean to be a distraction. When she decided to apologize, however, the appearance of the miniboro caused her to jump. That was what they were hunting? It was so cute! Now she saw why Ianthe had referred to it as a cabbage, she definitely saw the resemblance, and the sight made her giggle again. Rioting cabbage, indeed! Once it fled the scene, however, it seemed to confuse Balder. Its behavior was erratic, and Luna found herself starting to worry again. An attack from any direction? That couldn't be good, could it?

She didn't have much time to think on that, audibly wincing as she felt something sharp behind her. Her hand flew to the back of her head as she titled her head downwards and squeezed her eyes shut, as if trying to get away from the sensation, but the pain felt like something was trying to drive something in. Opening her eyes, she gasped as she saw the mist pooling at their feet.

"That's--" Luna looked up with wide, panicked eyes. "W-We need to leave--the miasma--" She winced again, grabbing her head with both hands. "We must leave the forest at once--we are in grave danger!"

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Ianthe

Well, that couldn’t be good.

In her admittedly numbered years, Ianthe had seen men turn tail and flee when faced with greater numbers or a lost cause. Wild animals, too, shared a similar instinct for self-preservation. Fiends, however…fiends didn’t care if they died, they hardly cared that they were alive in the first place. Fiends didn’t run.

Luna hissed beside her, flinching as if she’d been struck. Ianthe whirled, shield raised, putting Luna between herself and the other front-liners. Artemisia, while some steps away, was at least still standing and apparently unharmed. Ianthe kept her in her peripherals as she scanned the backend for whatever might have struck their nervous archer. Her hand, gripping the hilt of the blade at her side, still hesitated to draw it.

Not yet, she thought. Split hands, split mind. Wait. Wait ‘til it’s needed.

But nothing came. The fog grew heavier, sinking to the earth and pooling at their feet, but there was no sign of their assailant. She made a quick, sharp hiss to Artemisia, nodding for her to come closer to the group. Something told her the mysterious woman had more than a few tricks of up those viridian sleeves, and they’d need the arms still attached to make use of them.

Blaike, who she saw with the steadiest flick of her eyes was within comfortable reach of Mitra, put forth the idea that they split up, and Ianthe nearly broke form to gawk at him. She supposed under normal circumstances, that might have carried some merit. Splitting up against human foes was, well, suicidal at best—and, really, at worst—but fiends had no mind for strategy, or lack thereof, and could perhaps have been…surprised? But these were clearly not normal fiends, which only made the need for closeness even more pressing.

Whatever science he had studied in Alexandria, it had not been the science of war.

Luna winced again, and Ianthe adjusted, cursing herself for missing yet another strike. Only, no, there had been no attack. Luna wasn’t injured, she was…oh, dear.

“Easy, easy,” Ianthe offered, quiet and gentle-like, as she’d spoken to a few of Argo’s more nervous defenders in the past. “We’ve got you. String up that harp.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Artemisia


Well, that turned out to be pretty easy. Artemisia couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. This Luna really knew her stuff; the black mage liked her random facts, but she wasn't a walking encyclopedia like this girl seemed to be. Then again, Arty reasoned, such talents wouldn't serve her well in a fight, and all that precious knowledge would go to waste if Luna became mulch for the local megaflora.

Before she did, though, Artemisia wanted to hear about her past. On this count too, however, Luna disappointed her. She kept things vague -purposefully vague- and only admitted she came from a life of luxury, which at this point served to do nothing but confirm the obvious. After a quick and slightly worrisome turn in the direction of angst Luna ended up deflecting, trying to turn the question back on her fellow hunters-to-be. Artemisia's mind was elsewhere. “Goodness, how many well-to-do scions leaving behind a life of security and privilege to go on a grand adventure does this group have?” Blaike already fit the bill, but she looked around at the others in turn expectantly for the sake of her joke, never suspecting a thing.

Few others seemed inclined to answer Luna's question either. Mitra spoke up somewhat quickly, reminding Luna that the party was indeed on a dangerous mission. The half-elezen might have forgotten, but despite her own participation Artemisia had been keeping it in mind. Her general unease kept her muscles tensed, ready to fire off a spell at the first sign of danger. After Mitra's suggestion the group fell quiet, keeping a silent vigil until its leader murmured that he might have made a mistake. No, really? she thought, tuning out Blaike's attempt to get in on the conversation. We find an unusually dark and ominous forest where things aren't as they should be, waltz in anyway, and suddenly we're having second thoughts. You're a fool, and we're fools for following you. This is how horror stories start. And now we're in the rising action.

A moment later a monster emerged from the brush, with neither pomp nor ceremony, and Artemisia's dark expression turned to one of surprise. “Aha!” She would have busted out a blast of magic if Balder, Avaddon, and Ianthe weren't standing directly in her way. Before she could re-position, the miniboro beat it, leaving as fast as it came, and leaving Artemisia to stare at the bushes curiously. ”Odd...” Balder did well enough to explain the strangeness of the situation, stacking another layer on the already-teetering tower of reasons why the group shouldn't be here. Blaike went ahead and got the inevitable suggestion of splitting up out of the way, which was another horror story classic. Luckily cooler heads prevailed; there would be no getting picked off one or two at a time today. Ianthe urged Artemisia to get closer, and she complied without complaint.

It didn't take long for Artemisia to notice a change in the air. Mist began to pool across the ground, and before long it blanketed the forest floor, hiding the already-dubious path from sight. Well, that's bad. As long as the team had the path, they could at least retrace their steps backward to get out, but that window was closing quickly. They could all be trapped in here forest, doomed to wander the dark forest as forgotten spirits forevermore. Well, all of them save Artemisia, who could airboost above the canopy and 'fly' to safety. Just as the black mage thought about doing that, Luna clutched her head in pain. Like Ianthe the black mage assumed she'd been hit by something, but a quick look at her head turned up no wound, not so much as a blotch of discoloration on that lustrous, silky hair. She's going batty, Artemisia hypothesized while Luna warned that everyone was in great danger. “Well, obviously. But it's a bit late for that,” Arty said, her voice dry. “Can't see the path anymore.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Raijinslayer
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A v a d d o n


Avaddon couldn't help but let his grin soften as he listened to his compatriots' chatter amongst themselves behind him. He had been a tad bit worried that the lot of them would likely stay quiet and subdued in dour seriousness the whole length fo their journey given how little most of them seemed interested in conversing in the Guild Hall. But he was glad to be proven wrong in this instance, though he chose to keep his words to himself as he continued to keep an eye out for their prey.

Like the others, he noted the change in the air, the miasma growing thicker as they approached the lair but while they felt nervous and apprehensive at the thought of approaching battle. . . Avaddon relished it. The scales that lined his neck and shoulders were now standing up at their full height as he lumbered forward, ember-lit eyes darting this way and that at every flash of movement he could spot. One could liken his gait and readiness to be akin to that of a tiger slowly stalking his way through the underbrush, jaws open ever so slightly in anticipation for the strike.

It did not take long for the prey to show itself, however, as a miniboro scuttled out of the brush to face the party, tendrils flailing and eyes scanning them. It was the next action, however, that gave Avaddon pause. The creature, with neither brainpower to recognize it's own disadvantage nor a sense of self-preservation, ran away? Like Baldr, the large monk did not trust this development, his scales lowering slightly as he cast his eyes upward at the many trees that surrounded them. He'd little familiarity with such terrain but with how easily the bark gave way beneath his fingers. . .

"Blaike, your idea sounds good. . . but I think only one of us should move ahead." Avaddon motioned a hand upward as he began to stretch his arms and calves, not even glancing at his other companions nor leaving the decision up to them as he already began tracing a path through the treetops. "You, Baldr, Mitra, and Ianthe are the best candidates to keep the others safe in case this does end up a trap of some kind, what with your combined skills in magic and martial prowess." Having stretched to his heart's content and feeling properly warmed up, Avaddon walked backward towards the Rearguard, stopping just momentarily to cast a glance towards Luna.

"You're right. Stand up, breathe deep, and face it proudly, or stay hunkered down. I doubt that this will be the worst experience you'll ever experience if you continue down this path." With his peace said, Avaddon cracked his neck, taking a breath to ready himself before he burst into forward in a blur of action. In one instant he was in front of Baldr and Blaike, body lowered and tightened like a spring, in the next he was airborne launching himself at the base of one of the many trees that surrounded them. With a shuddering crack, the monk slammed into the bark, using his feet and clawed grip in the wood to steady himself as he took a moment to see if his new height advantage told him anything new. If so, he would report it to the group, but if not, he'd line up his next leap to the nearest tree forward, taking a moment to call back to the party if he felt the way ahead was clear or not. He never stayed still for too long, knowing that his weight would likely prove to be a mighty strain if he simply hung off it, so he made sure to keep his center of gravity as close to the tree as possible, to lessen the effect of his mass on his handholds as much as could.
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