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No organs either. A monster through and through, more far gone than even the spawn of the Elder Beasts. Or maybe it was just a slime. Hah. A slime, in this weather?

A dozen tentacles shot out, and Atzi, with no recourse for retreat whilst Vammy was making her own way out, charged forwards as well. One caught her by the wrist, but without any joints to lock and reinforce its position, it meant nothing.

Indeed. That was the thing about tentacles, about appendages without bones.

In the face of unexpected motions, it could not snap in any direction like a hinge. Like a fist connected to a wrist connected to an elbow connected to a shoulder. And though one caught her wrist, the others simply went past her, the skewering points missing. They settled onto her body instead, dragging against her skin like heavy chains, and Atzi could feel the tendons of her injured leg strain at the weight she bore.

So what though? The faceless, bodyless, soulless freak had approached her, and she had approached it. Gotten up so close now that they were face to face, and getting even closer from there. If she could get behind him, the length of his tentacles would make it impossible to do anything expediently! If she could get there, she could grab him by the waist and suplex his ugly mug six feet underneath the permafrost! Her blood surged a third time, empowered by fury as she struggled against the sheer mass of eldritch flesh!

But Atzi was only human. Her wounds didn’t regenerate in an instant, and her muscles, not her bloodline, was the source of her strength.

She stalled, one meter away, her body almost entirely enclosed by those impossible appendages. Ribs, crushing. Lungs, squeezing. Air, burning. And still, the cultist approached, arrogant in his victory. Her club had no room to swing. Her knife had no room to stab. And it squeezed tighter still, the edges of her vision blackening.

Closer now. Closer.

She didn’t even have the breath to speak now, but as he entered her range, Atzi had a simple two word phrase in mind.

She dropped her knife. Caught it with her foot. Kicked it up into his throat.

And as the blade bit in, she twisted sideways with all her strength, leveraging all that she could to pry his head right off his shoulders.
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Lissa


From the corner of her eye, Lissa watched as Nylah and her stretcher screamed away from her in the direction of the spider lady’s house. Good; Haruno would get the help she needed, and away from danger, to boot. The moth girl had thrown and left a light-energy shield spell or construct in her wake. Impressive, and potentially helpful… but although her Raam strength meant that she could easily wield a longsword one-handed, the difference in technique and weight of using her weapon in an unfamiliar way and technique could be potentially fatal.

With that in mind, she left it there on the ground for a moment, although she gestured to one of the spear-wielding hunters to claim it for themselves. They would probably need it. Lissa wasn’t sure how the acid would react to her own physiology, but together with her own armor, she would rather she take such hits rather than one of the squishier villagers. With some luck, Nylah’s gift would keep them uninjured, or at minimum, alive.

At least it sounded like the hunters knew what they were dealing with, even if they hadn’t expected one at the village.

Reinforced by the hunters, she slashed out at the monster with her sword before yelping as the creature shot out a gout of acid towards her and her newfound allies. The Raam quickly moved to dodge out of the way, pulling the nearest hunter that looked to be in the line of fire with her.

"Assuming that neither of them had taken a bad hit from the nasty liquid, Lissa’s next decision was to gesture for the hunters to begin to flank the chameleon before she charged it from the front, sword raised.

“Die, you godsdamned overgrown lizard!”
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The Missing huntress
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“Futile.” The man approached, his slow, steady and purposeful gait carrying him across the snow covered ground. Atzi had been fully subdued by his estimation, completely and utterly rendered ineffectual as the tendrils tightened across her body. Crushing, binding, breaking. Her bones creaked, her flesh burned. Yet, even so she managed to struggle. The knife dropped to the ground, caught between her toes and plunged into the creatures neck.

Blackened blood spewed from the wound, the creature recoiling, but his grip never loosening as the knife would tear its way through his body.

“Grrrghhhk-” A gurgling noise as its head would fly off its body. A few seconds passed, its body remaining completely still. Perhaps, she had thought, she had managed to best it, but that thought would be quickly shattered.

“Ah, such barbarism...” Suddenly, Pain. More pain. Atzi’s entire body lit up with it. The tendrils released her, only to then reform, impaling her body in numerous areas on her front. “Is this. What you humans. Prefer?” The spikes would withdraw from Atzi’s body as the mans head would slowly start to reform on his body. “Still alive? Your endurance exceeds. Expectations. Shame. You would have made a good…subject.”

More pain. A tendril, lashing out.

Her right arm would find itself laying on the ground in front of her.

“I will…be taking this. Perhaps you’ll be of some use.”

And then, he’d release Atzi. Her body collapsed to the ground, unable to do anything but watch as he’d take her severed arm and proceed to slowly, slowly, disappear into the distance as she would slowly bleed out…vision fading…







The smell of cooked meat.

Her body aching, hurting.

But she was…alive. Somehow.

Opening her eyes would reveal a small cavern, lit just by the light of a fire.

And there, at the other end of the cave, was Maira.

“...You’re finally awake.” She’d say quietly. "Don't move too much...you...got hurt pretty bad."





An eight legged herbalist
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The ball of acid thankfully, did not seem to travel very far. The area in front of it was liberally doused with the substance, burning away the snow from the ground and creating a wet, muddy slurry that would make it hard to walk in for likely both the creature itself and the hunters. Thankfully, her quick reaction pulled the hunter and herself out of the mainline of fire of it, only singing both of their armor just slightly.

The other hunter with the spear quickly did as suggested, maneuvering to the creatures side while the other two would remain at a distance, firing a few more shots at the creature, one impaling itself deep in its flank, another embedding itself in its front but neither delivering a fatal injury.

In retaliation as Lissa charged from head on, the creature would charge forward too, opening its mouth wide and lashing out with its tongue once more, the front of it sticking to Lissa’s body as it would attempt to pull her towards it.

“...Gwwwk?” A slightly confused sound as its tongue was now latched onto Lissa, but she didn’t find herself being pulled towards the creature. Instead just held in place as it ran towards her, slightly confused as to why it couldn’t pull her towards it, but still intent on swallowing her.

The hunter that had flanked from the side, had managed to dig a knife into its side, and was slowly climbing up onto the beast's back.

—-------------------

Calra quickly got to work, having the Oni undressed in mere seconds as she’d begin making attempts to stabilize Haruno. A wide gash on her chest and stomach. A blade? Looks like it had already started healing, though. An older wound, but it hadn’t been properly treated. Smaller incisions on her back, chest and shoulders. A few bloody arrowhead was left in her shoulder and back. She likely couldn’t remove them. Luckily no infection. A broken arm. Fractured leg. Wounds indicating some clawed animal did a number on her. A chunk of flesh had been ripped out of her side. Frostbite had started to set in, too.

She was obviously in some sort of battle with other people, and then with animals from the looks of it.

“Nylah, I’ll need to do surgery. She’s got arrowheads stuck inside her and some internal bleeding. Poor thing looks like she was in a battlefield before being attacked by a bear or something and crushed a number of bones I'll have to set. Make some anesthetics and prepare as many healing potions and salves as you can while I start.”

It’d be easy enough to prepare both of those things especially with the things she had on hand. Fresh water for a base, crush the ingredients, then boil it to a broth. Simple enough, they didn’t have time to refine it. The Salves could be made by taking the same ingredients and crushing them into a paste without the water. Better for topical use on flesh wounds.

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Choosing to ignore Sionna's comments, the elf instead decided to focus on the task ahead: Assessing the fishermen's equipment. At the very least, it all seemed quite satisfactory. The harpoons were serviceable, with a little cleaning, and the other equipment seemed to be in much the same boat.

Of course, it was the harpoons and one other item she was interested in most.

"Maybe a single man might not be able to pull this creature in," she commented, "But it won't just be one man."

Nodding to herself, she turned to face the fisherman.

"We'll need as many harpoons and as much rope as you can spare," said Seelay, "As well as some secure locations to tie it to. We'll probably have only one chance at this, and I'm certain you feel the same way."

Certainly, this was a large, powerful, and dangerous beast. In the water it would be so easy for it to escape in an instant.

Which is why letting it get back to the water simply wasn't an option.

@Rune_Alchemist
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Fish? Fishing.
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“Ah! I think I get it.” The fisherman replied with a look of realization. “I think if we have your help we can certainly pull it off…hm, maybe having some hunters help too would be good.” He’d start looking through the equipment present. “We’ll need a place where we can lure it…Ah. The shoreline near the old ruins should be good for that I think. Its got high, rocky cliffs around the ocean and has some strong rock we could anchor the ropes too. We could probably use the weirs and make enough bait for it, too…”

The fisherman would grab one of the Weirs.

“It’ll take a few days to set everything up, I think, but if Akando or Soyala help I think we can just pull this off.” He’d hoist some ropes over his shoulder and grab a Harpoon. “I’ll go tell Bolcha to send some men here to clean and repair the stuff. See if he’s got any more sturdy ropes we can have…maybe Calra could drug the bait or something too…hm, I’ll ask…”

“Thanks Miss Seelay!” He’d head out the door, in quite a good mood it seemed. “In the meantime, I’d like to ask you to guard the fish storage so we don’t lose anything else until we’re ready.”

“Hmph, I got ignored.” Sionna patted the top of the elfs head. “Seeelay, come ooon, lets go do something fun! Like tying that Raam’s shoestrings together when he’s not looking!”



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And the culprits are...?
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Lissa


Lissa felt a bit surprised at her own temper, feeling herself grow uncharacteristically heated over a simple fight against an equally simple monster. Then again, she had seen witness to a town devasted and laid low by twin disasters, only to be beset once again by a third, and likely not final threat, all before its inhabitants had time to get back on their feet.

The karmic injustice of the matter tugged at her heartstrings, even as she wrangled with said overgrown lizard. She was thankful that it wasn’t actually overgrown, at least for its own species.

Because of her own little charge, she was in no position to dodge the monster’s chameleon tongue once again. This would have been a larger setback had it been full-size, or if she wasn’t actually a Raam, but even she was surprised when its pink tongue shot out, found purchase, tugged… and just barely made her stumble as she braced against it.

Well, well, well. That was a mistake she would be taking full advantage of.

With a flick of her wrist, she dug into its outstretched tongue with her blade to sever it. For a moment, she waited for the beast’s momentum to carry itself over to her before she finally moved, keeping in mind the movement of the hunter clambering onto it.

“Now!”

Once it was finally upon her, she drew herself low, so that the chameleon could almost pass above her, before she thrusted upwards with her sword, to tear into the beast from its vulnerable belly.

If she timed the move correctly, then her hunter friends would be delivering the coup de grace moments later. Not leaving things to chance, however, she made sure to quickly pop back up and pirouette on her feet once the creature passed, bringing her sword up once more incase the monster proved more resilient than she had calculated.
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"Gah! That stupid fucking muscle head!" Vammy complained as she held onto the hostage and the dog. It wasn't really too much a struggle for her, thought the hostage bitch wasn't helping much in that regard. "And you calm the hell down!" She said to the woman as they started to near Dawn. Perhaps it was because she knew the area quite well, but it took her no time to make it back to town as she slid into town. "Ummm... Where to... I wonder if Lazhira's home... It'll be really hard for me to explain to anyone else why I have this woman, a dog and not the muscle brained dumbass I left with."

With that, she rushed right back home, hoping that her landlady would be home. As she arrived, she didn't exactly see the cutie, but she set the mutt carefully. "Oiii~ Lazhira! I'm home. Got us company." As she exclaimed that, she looked around for some rope and found it. Nice, sturdy and more than enough to bind a stupid cult lady. She tossed the woman on her back and hopped on top of her, pinning down the hostage's legs with her butt. Quickly, she tied up the woman's hands so she couldn't use them and then took some more and tied up her feet so she couldn't run. Nothing too difficult for such a powerful demon, after all. "Lazhira!? You home?"
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Nylah





As Nylah watched Haruno be undressed, the sheer extent of her wounds beyond what she'd been able to see made the Mothraki's bite her lip nervously as she worked to make the anesthetics and as many salves and healing potions as she could. Her hands would become sore just trying to grind some things down in the first place, not to mention the drain from pushing her magic so far and so fast to get back to the village. And yet her own ache felt somewhat secondary, the focus shifting to the injured oni on the table. Just what had happened to her? What events had sent her into a battle, against animals, and then running all the way to Dawn?

She had no clue, but she hoped to be able to ask the oni girl later at the very least. But for now? She had to keep working.

Wait, how many herbs had she just gone about crushing? No, wait, that was likely enough. Yes.

Ok, put them in the fresh water as the base. Good-

[coplor=tomato]"Ah!"[/color]

A small, quiet peep from the Mothraki came out as she nearly dropped the herbs she crushed so far.

No, don't fumble-fingers! Almost lost some of her ground up herbs Thanks the gods she hadn't been near the fire-

"When you set your mind to something, you need to focus. See what you are doing, but don't become blind. Control your breathing, and let your hands do the work."
???


...Yes. That was right. Just like mother had told her when practicing. Similar to what Miss Calra had told her when training in this in prior days. Don't let the other thoughts of what happened get to her. This was what she needed to do, and someone's life was on the line. Yes.

Breathe. Controlled. In. Out.

Get some of the crushed herbs mixed with the water, and get that water over the fire to boil into a broth. Remember how long it took to make a salve while the water is boiling over the fire. Get more of the crushed herbs she had and grind it into a paste without the water. Keep an eye on the fire, let the water turn the right color for the broth. Good.

Bit by bit, Nylah would make the medicine she best she could for Miss Calra. Indeed she seemed to gradually become more focused. Serious. Calm. Just like she was back in the woods trying to help Haruno stabilize to get back to the village again.

If she wanted to help her mother, if she wanted to make her better again, she had to do these things to her best ability. No matter what.

@Rune_Alchemist



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Dawn of a new day
Days after blizzard: 7->10
@VitaVitaAR@Click This@Crusader Lord@ERode@Pyromania99@Cu Chulainn



And so three days would pass in Dawn. Following successful hunts and regulating how much the village hunted, they village for now, was well off enough as far as food goes. Still, though Seelay was guarding the storehouse and she would encounter no one trying to pilfer any fish in the interim, the creature itself continued to make itself known on the frozen shores of the ocean. It seemed like it was getting progressively more violent, too - one of the fishermen had been pulled under by it.

Hopefully though, she could pull off this plan of hers without a hitch.

Maira would bring Atzi back to the village, much to the relief of everyone to see Atzi alive. Maira made a point of not telling everyone she was alive, electing to find her way to Atzi’s home during the night at some point. She did exactly what she said she was going to do, too, cleaning up Atzi’s place whether she wanted to or not.

Also cooking.

And making sure Atzi wasn’t over exerting herself with her new lack of an arm. After a checkup from Calra and Akala though, they both said she was entirely fine and the wound was healing fine. Didn’t stop Maira from fussing over Atzi slightly, though. Achel was doubly concerned for her too, though in her usual ways of informing her to value her life more. She offered to make Atzi a new hand. Of the skeletal kind. She didn't sound like she was joking.

Haruno hadn’t woken for the few days, though after the day had passed the color had returned to her face and her breathing was far more regular. Calra made a point to find and thank Lissa for her assistance as well, and that the herbs the two of them gathered would certainly be worth the headache. The spider also made Nylah work much harder, and the Mothraki would find herself incredibly busy in the past few days. Collecting herbs, stocking up on salves.

Lazhira and Vammy would spend their time taking care of Tallen and also dealing with their new guest, who was proving to be quite resistant to interrogating and was doing her best impression of a rock. Lazhira had for now, prevented Vammy from doing anything to her, but it was becoming increasingly obvious they should probably think about something else, since she also had yet to tell anyone else about their…friend.

Gideon would for the most part find himself being watched by a certain little spider constantly, with Akando asking him for assistance with a hunt again over the few days. Also helping to help forage for edibles and supplies from the forest for later use - mostly consisting of berries and the occasional fruit bearing tree.

And so, another day would rise in Dawn, and as usual Enli would start the day by calling the villagers to the church.

“I want to thank everyone for their hard work these past few days.” He’d begin simply. “As it stands, we have plenty of food for the next few weeks and Bolcha has informed me that we have a decent amount of wood to be used for fire and construction. With any luck we’ll be using it to rebuild some of the houses damaged by the blizzard and the Rimebeast. That monster stealing our fish and hurting our fishermen is still out there, but I’ve been assured it will be taken care of today.”

“Aye, the little miss Elf helping us has come up with a pretty good plan.”

“Just be careful with the harpoons.” Asvar grunted from the side. “Still runnin’ short on iron and any I’ve got is going to help repairs. I’ve been having Raezleth look into that vein I mentioned with her Stone-singing but we’re having trouble findin’ it.” He’d glance around for a moment. “...speakin’ of, looks like she’s run off again. If anyone sees her, give her a good talkin’ too will you?”

“What about Mie? Any sign of her?”

“Nylah and Lissa found Haruno gravely wounded a few days ago.” Enli responded with a frown. “She’s been in a coma since then, but judging from her wounds-”

“I can speak for myself, Chief, thank you.” Opening the door to the cathedral and brusquely walking past some gathered residents, was a still injured Haruno. Her body was still covered in bandages and it looked like Calra had been in the middle of replacing them when she had got up and walked off.

The spider in question was not far behind her, a none to pleased expression on her face though she seemed fine with letting Haruno be up and about.

“Apologies for my rather sorry state, but you have my gratitude for looking after me.” Despite being a bit unsteady on her feet and breathing heavily the Oni seemed just as formal and polite as she ever was, bowing deeply to those present. “Mhm, I’ll get straight to the point since Miss Calra is exercising great restraint at the moment. We were attacked by the Yaga and Krysa - urk-cough-” The oni began, though was soon interrupted by a fit of coughing.

“Yes yes, sit sit. Let me finish bandaging you. Drink this.” Calra would pull Haruno onto one of the pews. “And let me do the talking.” She’d turn towards those gathered. “Mie was attacked by the Yaga and Krysa in the northern snowfields Haruno barely managed to break their siege out of Mie’s camp and was hoping to receive some assistance from us...”

“Apologies for imposing, it does not look like Dawn is in any shape to help…” The Oni lamented, leaning on Calra.

“You hush. Rest. I’ll let you lay on my abdomen if you be a good patient~”

“That is…not good.” Enli frowned. “Mie’s goods would be a great help now…though that still leaves the issue of not having too terribly much to trade with at the moment as well…I’ll talk with the hunters and other residents. I don’t know if we can help much without knowing more of the situation, though.” Haruno didn’t respond with anything other than a nod.

Well, that was certainly something.

“Oh…and before everyone starts their day, Achel informed me the crypts are currently off limits to everyone but Akala and myself.” There were a few questioning cries from those gathered. “I understand your concern, but Achel likely has her reasons. If there is nothing else, Akala and I shall be in the back. I have something to discuss with her personally.”

The priestess had been present the entire meeting and gave a friendly wave to those gathered.

Lazhira was currently standing off to the side, seemingly contemplating something herself.

Of course, you didn't have to be attending this meeting at all if you didn't wish to be. There are plenty of other things to do in Dawn, or to have already started on for the day if you already had something you wished to do...but you may miss out on certain information.

Maira of course, was nowhere to be seen. She was holed up in Atzi's house keeping a low profile, likely not to stay for more than another day or two if Atzi wanted to bring someone to speak with her.



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The past few days, well, were busy. Busy getting caught out and chewed out by Maira, of course. Though there was the ever-looming danger of the cult, it was honestly hard for Atzi to really be all that concerned about her missing arm. It was, after all, just an arm, an arm belonging to just a human. What were they going to do? Cure it and eat it? Boil it in a soup? Pin it up to a wall as a trophy, as a warning to others? Maybe it would have been spooky if they had taken Vammy’s arm, but if it was just big ol’ Atzi?

There were other things to worry about…or praise! Plenty of food to eat and wood to heat, as well as that terrible waterbeast about to meet its demise (and provide even more meat) was all great news to have. Though Mie’s situation looked to be dangerous, Atzi was unfortunately not in any real state to go help. She was pretty sure she could beat up some of the Yagas with just one fist alone, of course, but considering how Achel lectured her after her return…

Yeah, she would either get cocooned by the Chilralta or shot in the legs (again!) by Maira. And well, even if she didn’t have a clue what those cultists were doing, she wasn’t exactly going to keep mum about it either. Rising up from her seat at the church, the muscular woman let out a slight wince as her knees protested from the effort. She swayed to one side still, not totally comfortable yet with the whole ‘lacking her dominant arm’ deal, but those were irrelevant too. Others had lost their lives or their wives, their kids, their homes.

An arm, when her dearest friends were still alive, was a cheap price to pay considering the situation she had found herself in.

“Enli!” Atzi called out, then turning towards the Raam there as well. “And Gideon too! Help a girl out, would ya? Got a buncha stuff in my house that, well, can’t really do anything about right now, so uh, yup!”

She motioned for them to come after her. The Raam made sense, considering the whole ‘steel body, tough guy’ deal, but Enli? There were a couple of weird looks from the others, and Atzi quickly stacked on another lie.

“And yeah, Enli, it’s like, y’know? If there’s anything that could be reused for village stuff, check em out! Just doing some cleaning and…”

The woman continued to blabber on as she half-dragged the elder and the sage to her little home, gradually bringing them further away from the rest of the populace.

“...and basically there’s a cult lead by this guy who didn’t die even after I ripped off his head with my feet and then he took my arm and apparently kidnapped Maira too but now here she is to explain the story properly. And have you heard of magical stones used for rituals before?”
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It had been an eventful few days for the demon elf. Well, not as eventful as it had been for everyone else, probably. She did her best of making herself useful. By useful, one would of course mean staying out of everyone else's way. She mostly did stuff Lazhira in taking care of their two new pets. One was a lot more cooperative than the other of course, but that one was an injured dog so there wasn't much surprise there. The uncooperative one was starting to wear on her. Really. Why wouldn't she just fess up information? Or anything, really. She was like a stone. Vammy was fully ready to notch the torture up a few degrees but Lazhira wasn't letting her. A shame, really.

Still, that was fine for now. No odd force had come to the village and assaulted her or kidnapped the chick yet. She had talked with Atzi and Maira... And it was kinda gross. That woman? Thanking her for saving the dog? Yuck. It felt gross. Well, like, felt like she won some non-existent war, but still. She'd feel almost better if the woman had shot a half dozen arrows at her.

Now? Lazhira went ahead of her to the town meeting for the day. She was gonna show up at the last minute again. No need to stand around and let all the villagers stare at her and wonder if she was gonna eat their hearts or something. Instead, she'd make herself a bit productive. She scratched the dog behind the ears a small bit before standing up. "Damn fuzzy mutt." She mentioned before opening the door to where the prisoner was. She was about relatively in the same spot as before, laying there in some sort. "So, you need food? Water?" Nothing. "Guess not."

Vammy used her leg to roll the cultist over before kneeling down to pat the woman's butt a bit. Perhaps a little more, but that was besides the point, really. "Now, if only you'd lighten up a bit, be less dedicated to this illuminaughty thing and talked a bit... I wouldn't have to do this." So, she grabbed one of the cultist's feet, took off any footwear... And started to tickle her with her rather long nails. There was really nothing of note. No noise, though she seemed to be holding back her facial expressions. That was a good sign at least. But... She needed to get going. "Welp, that's that." She dropped the woman's foot and left the room, closing the door behind her. "Alright, dog. If she leaves that room somehow... Just knock her down and sit on her or something. I think you can handle her." Unsure if the dog even understood, she left for the town meeting.

The demon made it there swiftly just as it began and took her spot standing next to Lazhira. "I'm here, Lazhie~" She cooed in her friend's ear. As the conversation went on, she slowly slipped her hand around Lazhira's waist and listened. Occasionally, she would lower her hand trying to get a grab at her friend's butt. Every time she went, her hand was slapped away or moved away until the very end of the meeting when she quickly moved to give her a little smack. "Hehe~ Gotcha." She teased, moving away a small bit. "Haaa... Lots of crazy things happening and the thing I still can't believe is Muscles over there only missing an arm. I for one am shocked." She seemed unnecessarily happy despite everything said being anything but. "So, what's on your mind, Lazhie? You've seemed rather distracted. And not by me."
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Nylah





A pat on the head from Miss Calra. It brought a small flush to the Mothraki's face at the tie, as in all honesty Nylah hadn't expected it as she had gone about trying to help clean up in the aftermath. Blood soaked up from the floor and table, gathering used cloth to wash the next day, putting up the unused herbs and taking care of the fire, but nothing she felt would get her such accolades. Well, something a simple as a pat on the head and a 'good job' anywho. She'd just been doing her own job to save a life, and it had been Miss Calra herself to really do the major work. All she'd done was support, which was something she was glad to have been able to do at the very least.

Yet her teacher seemed to be in good spirits, and it was enough to ultimately put a small smile of gratitude on Nylah's face at the time.

Simply to watch Calra work had been something she'd admittedly done a lot more of than she'd expected, all as she'd primarily gone about making the potions and poultices and such things to provide as best as she could. Stitches. Bone setting. The exposed muscles and tissues and any kind of organs that could be seen from where the Mothraki had worked. Like she couldn't totally look away...or perhaps didn't want to. She wanted to learn more, and this in part was true for why she'd been looking, but likewise she'd felt like keeping an eye on the injured oni still too. Out of habit. Instinct. Care. Haruno had been her patient to stabilize and get here, and it was a miracle she'd been able to.

It had made her think back to those days she'd been first learning all of this, and the first sight of blood and viscera of even some small kind. She'd nearly fainted on the spot! But she'd gotten better. And better. And better at seeing it and working around it at least. Learning to focus when it came into the picture, and to keep her mind on the tasks. Or, well, perhaps in reality 'numbed' was the particular word that described her adjustment process thus far into her learning. Desensitized, but not ignorant or uncaring by any means. If that made any lick of sense.

Safe to say she'd been happy to head home, the caress of the moonlight on her skin a reminder of the peculiar situation she had with the moon goddess herself. She could see this display and these things, and even a tiny goddess she could interact with in her head! It was crazy, like madness, and yet it was real and something she only knew about her own situation of having to deal with. Were there others? She had no idea. Yet was that not fitting in the end somehow? A mystery, shrouded in moonlight in that little regard when it came to the whole span of things.

Whatever was to come, she had gotten home as soon as she could to finish caring for her mother. Sleep was good, but to reduce the fever and such using a small humble bit of the leftover herbs was mandatory in her mind. Ensure a cool cloth was nearby. Make sure she was as comfortable as possible. Wait until she fell asleep before Nylah herself went to bed. In short, the nightly ritual ever since mother had fallen ill.

One more day. Please. Keep hanging on until she...until she could find the solution for this. For this illness. For all of this stupid mess!

This was the only parent she had ever known, for better or for worse, and she loved her dearly. She didn't want to lose her, nor would trade her for that matter, for anything in this world that she could imagine or dream of.

...

...

...

Wood. Food. Enough to get them through the next few weeks at least. And a plan to take care of the fishing issue? Perhaps that would even more so help the food matter, though at least that giant chameleon hadn't been a waste of an experience after all. Maybe.

Even though seeing the meat-removed remains the next day had left the Mothraki feeling uneasy anywhere near the tongue of the thing. Felt like it was going to shoot out and eat a moth salad at any second! But she'd wanted to collect some poison from it in a few vials to keep with her, and that was what she'd gone out to do the next day after getting up especially early.

Not a pretty sight to watch it get butchered, but she'd seen that sort of things before with her mother.

And beyond taking care of her mother, and heading over each day to check in on and try to help Haruno, she'd tried some lesser excursions to replenish her own herb and poultice and potion supplies. She'd given all she'd had at first to Miss Carla, but with time and some patience she'd at least been able to get a personal stock back up. Just barely enough though.

But today? She had an idea, but first...

'BONK'


The light hammer of justice would come down toward Vammy's head from behind once more, sound and fury erupting from the silence as it brought a hopeful end to the waist grab. It had become a habit of trying to improve sneaking up on the strange girl in service of saving Lazhira. Almost like a game, even if Nylah herself did not find it openly funny.

"Give her room the breathe, you lecher!"

With a simple but visible 'humph', the Mothraki would look to her childhood friend with a smiling face despite the small amount of concern easily read in Nylah's eyes otherwise. She would gently take the other girl's hands into her own for a moment.

"Don't listen to her, Lazhira. If anything is troubling you, we can talk later if you'd like! Same spot we used to go, like always."

Nylah spoke as reassuringly as she could, if nothing else.

She couldn't just let a friend look troubled and not offer help, not when she seemed so concerned over something or troubled. She could tell after all these years when Lazhira had something on her mind well enough. But she didn't want to force herself either. Whatever the case would be though, whether she would get a response or not, the Mothraki would eventually bid Lazhira a friendly 'farewell' before heading to her next target. She had serious business, and it was not going to be easy to say perhaps.

Not that she'd get to talk to Enli before he seemed to get dragged off by Atzi. The same Atzi she'd shouted at after seeing her with only one arm now! What in the world had happened?! She had no idea, and any chances to talk in-between had been taken up with so many things going on in general. It was frustrating, to sum it up in one word. But watching the dragging-away did make her stop and raise an eyebrow to say the very least.

Nylah would keep an eye out for Lissa, though ultimately would head on over to where Haruno and Calra were before standing next to them. Her eyes glanced again over the bandages and other wounded parts she could see of the oni, carefully so, her brows furrowing for a moment before she spoke:

"I know Miss Calra is helping you as well, but...please, please be careful."

She tried to put a hand on the oni's shoulder for a moment, touch as worried as her face was notably concerned. Even so, Nylah did hesitate for a moment. Like she was trying to formulate words in her head, but was afraid to say it. The right words? No idea if they would be that. But she had something she wanted to ask regardless. That much was visible and apparent about her as well.

"I want to ask you something, but if you don't wish to tell me then I will respect this. I do not wish to bring up anything you are not comfortable with.

However....could you tell me anything about the situation at Mie's camp when you left? Injured persons, supplies, umm, if the Yaga and Krysa said anything useful. Anything that might help give us more of an idea in detail."


Anything that could make a potential rescue that much more viable. How long they might last, how bad the pressure from the attackers was, how much medicine might be needed to help the wounded. Things like that. It was a desperate stab into the dark, but if they could learn something, anything useful at all, maybe it would create an opening to help somehow.

She'd already thought about bottling containers of her own scale dust, but trying something alone would not be a good plan either. Lissa she knew had been out to help with her before, but even then after the incident with the chameleon...ugh. She was trying to think of something. Anything to help after something else had gotten her thinking.

The moon goddess is watching a rat, a fox, and a hound chase each other in circles.
Tiny Moon Goddess


If all else failed, all she'd have left to try to do alone would be talking to Akala and seeing what a magic user like herself could do.

Things were going on beyond this, she could tell. So much to do, so little time, and she was only one person. The best she had was light magic and herbalism on her side, among any other things she could try to learn maybe to help the village. Even Lazhira seemed troubled, one of her best friends, and she wasn't sure if she could do anything to help.

But focus on the next task. Get the next thing done. Yes. This would work, as it was all she could do somewhat.

@Rune_Alchemist (And @ERode secondarily just because of a small Atzi mention in the post)



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Lissa


The defeat of the overgrown lizard was a bit anticlimactic, all things considered, but in an ideal world, such a thing should be. Lissa was a lot more relieved that the entire fight had gone on with no casualties, and the thing provided food for the village, which was about the best outcome that anybody could ask for, even if Lissa still need to have some words with the Mothraki girl about her fight or flight responses.

At least with that over, Lissa was able to check up on the injured Oni girl, and overall, relax from a job mostly well done. As it happened, it seemed the girl would survive, but more concerningly, there had been other adventures going on about the village while she and Nylah had their own. It seemed there had been some incident on the other side of the village. Lissa had to look into it further, but it seemed there had been some deaths according the rumor mill. Mostly, though, Lissa simply helped out with odds and ends for the past few days, occasionally popping in to see how the injured were fairing.

It was only until Enli called another gathering did things become interesting again, and not really in a good way, as the injured Haruno more or less staggered into the meeting, delivering concerning news. The other happenings in the village were also troublesome, but Lissa immediately focused on what had happened to Haruno, and by extension, Mie. She had been hoping to engage with the merchant on behalf of the village, using some of her own skills and funds to help with their rebuilding, but with said merchant and her caravan stuck in the snow and potentially besieged, those plans were out the window.

Rather, Mie herself needed help, and from Haruno’s tale, her situation seemed dire.

Lissa was of a mind to volunteer to go look for the merchant herself, nodding in agreement at Nylah as she asked her questions.
“I think… it would be mutually beneficial if Mie made it here. If her situation is as bad as it sounds, I would be willing to join any expeditions to help, however small it may be. It would leave a bad taste in my mouth if we just ignored their plight, regardless.”
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Dawn
A New Day


It was another day in Dawn. Another day of hard work managing the village's food supplies and ensuring they weren't overstepping their boundaries in any way. Another day of research, piecing together the small bits of information he had gathered from his dungeon delving. And another day of study, having properly taken some soil samples of the nearby wilderness. With a bit more time, Gideon should be able to prepare an almanac detailing all the flora and fauna of Dawn within detail. Perhaps this could even be used to figure out a more renewable food source in this harsh, cold land.

Of course, improving on Dawn's logistics was not the only thing Gideon was busy with. He was hard at work with the spear as well, training and drilling himself on the many spear techniques of his people. There were threats about, both outside Dawn's borders and from within. Gideon needed to practice his techniques, improve upon them so that he could potentially teach the hunters of Dawn how to handle these threats more efficiently. Thoughts of a proper militia had come to his mind within the past few days. The Sage of Steel just waited for the village to stabilize until he brought the suggestion up.

There were a few things that interested Gideon in particular during the town meeting, particularly the attacks made by the Krysa and Yaga. While the time spent with both groups had been varying degrees of strange, especially in regards to the Yaga, Gideon felt like something was off with such an attack. Either Mie carried something of spiritual significance to either party, or the people of Svyataya Zemlya are under some strange influence. It was something he wished to look into, although his... experiences with the Yaga had caused Gideon to stay his hand in mentioning anything. After all, he did not want to interject with a potential accusation against a merchant like Mie, who would have things the village would desperately need. Not without evidence, at least.

In any case, it seemed Gideon would be preoccupied with other matters, especially as he was dragged off by a mountain of a woman along with Enli.

"I-I'm a mere scholar! I'm sure one of the other laborers can help you with what you need!" The Raam protested, on deaf ears. Once again, he was plagued with the burden that was his formidable physiology.

Of course, when Atzi had told her tale, Gideon seemed to be a bit more cooperative. He had a similar encounter with a cultist, although it possibly wasn't one as deadly as craftswoman's. At least, he didn't seem to believe so. After all, the cultist he had fought did seem to die after his head came off... and dealing with the slimes posed no risk to Gideon's extremities. He wondered, if only for a moment, just what Achel was doing in the crypt now that it was cleared, and why she chose to close it off.

"Magical... stones, you said?" Gideon rose an eyebrow. He had an idea of just what Atzi might be referring to, but he held his tongue. "Well, there are a few different sorts of minerals that can be used to aid in various rituals. I've not looked too much into magic given my people's incapability of practicing the mystic arts, but I'm sure I can narrow it down if you described them a bit better." Of course, given how integrated the cultists were in this town, Gideon was hesitant to reveal all he knew, even in the privacy of Atzi's abode. He also feigned ignorance in order to to draw as much information about these crystals from the others as possible. After all, he did not want what he hypothesized to muddle any information given by the others.
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@Pyromania99

“Weh!” Lazhira responded with a small shout of surprise, not having felt or noticed Vammy approaching. She’d shoot the demon a glare, before shaking her head with a giggle. “Only thinking about how I’m gonna dunk you in holy water…though knowing you, you’d enjoy it.” She’d respond with a small huff, not saying anything once more as she noticed Nylah approaching again.

She couldn’t help but to laugh as the hammer was swiftly brought down on Vammy’s head.

“Hehe, thanks Nylah…its fine, just thinking about some things…but maybe we can talk later, sure.” She’d turn her attention back to Vammy. “So what are you up to aside from being a menace as usual?” She’d scoot a bit closer to speak lower. “...is our friend talking yet? I might…have ideas if she’s not, but I might have to uh, call in a favor from someone I’d really rather not speak to.” She rubbed the back of her right hand nervously.

“Ah? Does this welp not trust us? You should be more assertive on our prisoner friend, Vammy…or let me pilot this body for a bit and show you how to make a prisoner squeal like a bird.”





@Click This@Crusader Lord

“...you’re…Nylah? Calra’s apprentice right?” Haruno responded with a wince. “And I don’t believe we’ve met.” She’d offer Lissa a small smile.

“Keep it short you two.” Calra interjected a bit quickly. “She needs more rest.”

“It’s fine…If they’re helping I need to give them as much information as I-cough-ugh-can…” Haruno slumped slightly in the pew, breathing becoming a bit heavy as Calra would tap one of her feet irritably and make Haruno instead lay down on the seat she was on.

“We were following our usual route on our way to Dawn. You know how the northern fields just…end? A huge cliff that just drops off for a long ways? Well, we had just made our way up the pass that connects the base of the cliff with the top of it when we were ambushed by the Krysa and Yaga.” She took a few seconds to steady her breathing. “We managed to retreat a bit further up into a small valley, but its a dead end. We put up our defenses and dug ourselves in after an initial clash. They seem to be…ha…trying to starve us to death. Those…rat…cowards and filthy mongrels I’ll kill every single one of-ghhhk-ack-cough-ha…”

Calra forced the Oni to drink something from one of her vials.

“Oni…are tough, and we were well supplied. Casualties weren’t too severe, but…it took a small team of five of us to try and break through their siege…I was…the only one who made it. We’ve had a good relationship with them until now, so I…I don’t know why…I asked Lady Mie and she simply said that the Krysa were being unreasonable.”





@ERode@Cu Chulainn

“A-atzi? I really need to speak with Akala…!” Enli replied, a bit forcefully as he was dragged away from the much stronger youth. “It’s very important!”

“...Mhm, don’t worry about it, Enli.” Akala replied giving a sleepy wave. “We can talk later. I need to speak with Achel anyways…”

“R-right then…well…” Needless to say, he was questioning why Atzi needed him of all people to help move boxes and cleaning. He might have been the elder and oversaw the day to day and general direction of the village and gave orders, but when it came to craftsman stuff he was no expert.

He’d follow along Atzi quietly, giving a polite nod and a friendly greeting to Gideon.

“...Maira?”

“...Enli.”

“Oh thank the goddess you're alive!” Upon entering Atzi’s abode, he was greeted by the friendly sight of Maira’s face. The elder quickly ran over, making sure what he was seeing was in fact, real as Atzi went on to explain what had happened. He visibly paled as she spoke, the gentle hug he had been giving the younger woman losing its grip as he’d bring a hand to hold the middle of his forehead.

“Now of all times our past has to come back to haunt us.” Enli sighed, speaking in a hushed tone. “Maira, Atzi, I’m sure you’re aware in the past that Dawn was once a place where most of the inhabitants worshiped the Illuminator - Iva’Krorh, the God of Knowledge. It was during my grandfathers time, not to long ago really.” He’d begin, keeping his voice low and glancing towards any windows that Atzi might have had in her home. “...but Maira, tell me what happened first.”

“...Mhm.” With a simple nod, Maira would recount to Enli and Gideon the events of what happened during the tail end of the blizzard. The breaking and entering into her home, the cultists attempting to kidnap her. Her barely managing to escape, followed by being caught. Tallen getting separated, her being brought to some old ruin or church place and tossed in a cell. Her escaping said cell, stealing an orb and then hiding it somewhere followed by hiding out in the forest.

“Haaa, its just one thing after the other…Gideon,” He’d turn to the Raam. “Nothing we say leaves this room, understand? We can’t be certain who we can trust at the moment. Not Achel, Akala, Akando, Soyala - anyone.” Assuming there was a mutual understanding here, Enli would begin.

“I was just a boy barely old enough to walk at the time, but during my grandfathers time, the village worshiped the Illuminator primarily, alongside Delpithi and Rifelshka. That’s who that church was originally dedicated too, even. During my grandfather's tenure as chief, an…unfortunate event happened. The leader of the church went…too far, in his research and study of the Moonless Era. He stumbled upon something sealed here, beneath Dawn. He tried to use the influence of the church and the Illuminator to unseal it. Had it not been for the fortune of a group of travelers having aided us, he likely would have succeeded. After that anyone who continued to worship the Illuminator was thrown out of the village.” He sighed. “The stone you mentioned are likely one of the key’s to this seal. There are two in fact. It's one of the reasons that he didn’t succeed - he could never find the second one.”

He fell silent, feeling it was a good time for others to ask their questions and let the information sink in.

“I don’t know what this…thing is you mentioned, Atzi. But if it truly is something as you described then it is likely some sort of sick or twisted experiment made by this cult.”





@VitaVitaAR

While some had been sleeping in the village, preparing for the next day, the fishermen and Seelay had decided to wake early, getting an early start on their endeavor to hunt this beast that had been pilfering their food. No better time to get started, really. Soyala had elected to put herself on this mission too, wanting to assist for whatever reason. The place the fishermen had chosen was a small alcove some distance out into the sea. The water was fairly deep, and the cliffs created a half circle around the beach. A perfect place to ambush something.

The hunters had positioned themselves along the shoreline, hiding amidst the rocks and snow after dumping the bait near the shoreline where the water was shallow enough for one to walk in.

Now all they had to do was wait for the beast in question to show up.

It would take a few hours, but eventually they would see the water out at the shoreline ripple. Something was moving fast towards the shoreline! The hunters would immediately stand at alert, while one near Seelay would grip the harpoon in his hands tightly. He’d pass her one and prepare themselves to ambush it the moment it’d pull itself on land. A few lights could be seen under the water as the creature moved. As it approached the shoreline, the hunters would tense…and then nothing.

The hunters collectively held their breath, tension filling the frigid morning air.

And then then there was a cacophonous crashing noise, the tension breaking in a thunderous cracking of ice as a figure crashed through the surface of the ice.

It was…humanoid? Vaguely so, but standing nearly fourteen feet tall just from its ‘waist’ up. Seelay and the hunters were about as big as one of its arms, and there was no telling how big its lower body was too. Its body was covered in red, almost seaweed like follicles. It was hard to make out any other features in the dark, but the small blue bioluminescent lights that lit up spots on its back and chest at least gave it a somewhat feminine appearance.

As water dripped from its body, it reached for the bait. The hunters seemed to be waiting for Seelay to make the first move and follow her lead.




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Dawn
A Strange Day


Gideon considered what had been said carefully, relaying these past events with the ones he had gone through not too long ago in the crypts. This chamber in the church was indeed something concerning, especially considering Gideon might have already had a gander of what it looked like. Achel closing the crypts and rushing him out expeditiously was also something quite strange, as well. Was he being played in all this, a scheme in the spider's web?

Whatever the case, the primary issue was this cult's resurgence while Dawn has been left vulnerable. As much as Gideon wished to prepare for such an insurrection, he also did not desire striking at the cult at this time. A reactive approach seemed better than a proactive one, in this case. After all, the members of the cult are also members of the village. They needed to rebuild with as much numbers as they could muster.

And besides, Gideon had his own interests with the Illuminator cult. Interests that would just as likely be meddled with should they be quashed too early. Quite frankly, he was tired of playing in the hands of higher powers for now.

"I'm sorry to say that I have little experience with the Illuminator's Cult, being an outlander and all. I don't wish to dwell further into the dark secrets of Dawn's residences, either, as I don't feel it's my right as an outsider to be a part of such plans. So unless my expertise is needed, I'll be going elsewhere." Gideon stated coldly as he stood up. "Ah, and you have my word that nothing that has been said so far will ever leave my lips. Raam's honor."

The Sage would proceed to make his way to the door, apparently not interested in being part of such a scandalous conversation. However, before he would make his leave, he instead stood before the exit. Perhaps he had a change of heart?

"... Enli. How much do you trust Achel? Do you think she would work with the Illuminator's cult? The little spider asked for my help the other day, and we ended up finding a sort of shrine to the Illuminator deep beneath the catacombs. I'm guessing this was the shrine you were referring to?

"After we had unearthed this shrine, she was quick to rush me out of the crypts. I surmise this may have something to do with her closing the catacombs. For what reason, I'm not sure. It may be your best place to look, though. Just be wary of any glowing crystals down there. I've come to believe they have mind-altering effects. I hope you are able to find the perpetrators for your own sakes, Atzi and Maira, and I'm sorry for the misdeeds this cult has committed against the both of you."

If he was not stopped, Gideon would then make his leave, not wishing to concern himself with the cultists further at this time.
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"Fortune..." Atzi murmured, eyeing Gideon, then recalling all the other strangers that came into the village recently. The Raam offered little that she could consider helpful though. As a matter of fact, if not for his good work before this, she would 100% have planted her fist into his face (probably breaking her bones but definitely breaking his veins) for even suggesting that Achel was suspicious in any way, shape, or form.

It appeared, though, that Gideon was not pulled into this by the same fortune that those travelers from years past have been pulled into, and the Sage of Steel was more Steel than Sage. So she didn't bother to stop him on his way out. Didn't bother, but...why the fuck was he apologizing? The sting of her stump, the twitching of her phantom limb, all fed into a certain distrust. A budding dread, perhaps. Atzi let out a breath though. She could recognize when she was thinking too hard about courtesies, looking too deeply for malice. Gideon, after all, hadn't been with Achel while she laboured over the countless deceased who had to be placed inside the catacombs.

Didn't change though, that there was a shrine beneath the church. The same shrine that...

Atzi stopped. Thought.

"Could they have connected it?"

An undying body, possessing inhuman appendages and strength just shy of her own. A shrine that they needed keys for, lying right beneath the church. The dark-skinned woman could feel her mind fraying at its ends, trying to wrap it together. But it was certainly possible, wasn't it?

"Like, if they were looking for the stone, they would already know about the shrine. And if they knew about the shrine, they would want to get to the shrine. So like...tunnels? Easy to do if they don't die and have lots of arms. And going from the shrine to their church? Makes it easy to sneak into Dawn too, so Achel would want to close it up." Atzi moved to scratch her head, but only her shoulder moved up with that intention. She scowled. Shook distracting thoughts out. "Honestly though, Enli, could we just like, break that rock? I'm sure Bolcha's got at least one sharp chisel in his shed."
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"Geh!" Vammy exclaimed as she was bonked over the head. She gritted her teeth and gave the moth a dirty look. AS she walked away after saying her piece, the demon snapped her fingers and a small wisp of flame slowly followed her. Eventually, it would end up in front of her face and give a small pop noise with some text for a small few seconds hovering in air. "Watch your ass, mothie." And Nylah would most definitely be able to question how literal that this warning was.

That aside, Vammy turned her attention back to Lazhira. The girl scooted in closer to speak quieter and so Vammy did the same. "I'm about as much a menace as anyone else~" The demon said, before continuing. "But I don't want you to have to ask favors from people you don't want to ask them from. Besides, I had some rather nice ideas to try and get her to talk. I had a small bit of success so far, actually. After you left, I might have tried tickling her to see if I could get any reaction. I think I can. You, me and our hands are all we need to make her giggle until she can't breath any more. 'Course, I could maybe physically torture her but honestly, there's no fun in that." Vammy seemed to have considered the option before, that much was for sure.

The demon shrugged a small bit, unsure fully. "Anyhow, we can head back home and try some real stuff to get her to talk. I for one think we should both work at tickling her. Well, there's other things too but this is the most fun idea for me. You have any other fun ideas?" Vammy seemed ready to head back home as she slightly moved herself closer to the door.
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Lissa


“Just a helping hand passing by,” replied Lissa, returning her smile with her own. “You were out for most of it, but Nylah and I got you back to the village.” There was also the whole fighting off the giant chameleon thing, but she really didn’t need to know about a superfluous detail like that. She slipped into a nearby pew, giving her some space to rest and to allow Calra to fuss over her patient while she gave more details on her ill-fated trip.

“Forgive me, but given I’m not from around here, I’m not too familiar with the Kyrsa and Yaga, though I’ve heard of them in passing.” She frowned as the girl descended into a coughing fit, but it did sound like they were in a dire situation. She couldn’t help but to grimace further when she elaborated that she set out to the village with an entire party.

“Did she say why they were being unreasonable? I’m of a mind to at least scout the situation myself. I can’t in good conscious sit still to let them be sieged out until starvation, and the village needs the caravan, too.”
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