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  1. #71
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    Cries of dismay reached her ears and she couldn't help but smile. The sweet music of a plan executed well. The norn turned at strode down the hillside as quickly as she'd climbed it, not wanting to waste time in reaching the meeting point. They had new information to sort through and Nairn was still quite excited about what they'd stumbled on in the cave. Anakita hadn't seemed overly surprised - but perhaps that was just because the ranger had been forced to come up with something on the fly to save the thief from her arrogant curiosity.

    As she loped up to the pair, she noticed that they were looking off in another direction, as though they'd seen something. Immediately, she crouched low and made a sharp turn angling to a position that would allow her a vantage point of the area they were looking in. She made eye contact with Anakita as she crept into the Ranger's field of view, then disappeared. Whatever it was, she intended to flank it without it noticing and provide assistance to the pair out in the open should it become necessary.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #72
    "That was a bit risky," the man commented mildly.

    "I know," the woman replied. "They may be enemies too. But I couldn't take that chance."


    ***


    Anakita approached cautiously, but by intention not noiselessly. She could move through the woods almost silently if she so chose - but that didn't tend to work very well when approaching humans, like it did with animals. Humans became startled. Sometimes they attacked because of their surprise, when a Ranger popped out of nowhere. So instead, she allowed a crunch of twigs beneath her boot as she approached. Her hand didn't go to her bow - yet - but would move there quickly if needed.

    Four people stood in the clearing. Well, in one case more 'leaned' than 'stood.' The woman in dark blue - what looked like a caster's robes - seemed winded, and was reclining against a rock. Anakita suspected she had cast the barrier against the wolf. If so, she must be drained. The woman had long, curly black hair, and very blue eyes. The eyes were striking... so much so that it took Anakita a moment to notice that the woman was missing a portion of her left arm, from the elbow down.

    With her was a blond man of approximately the same age, soldier-type build, wearing traveling armor. The other two were younger and dark-haired; the young woman with the same pointy ears as the people in the cave had a bow and quiver too, and the other almost looked like a miniature version of the mage woman, with a slightly rounder face and straighter hair. A daughter, presumably - or perhaps a sister, given the apparent age gap. Anakita couldn't quite tell.

    "Hello," Anakita said. "Thanks for the assist back there. Things could have gotten hairy. Haha. Hairy! Get it? Hairy."

    The mage woman cracked a smile at the pun. "You're very welcome," she said.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #73
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The small party was full of curiosities. Not only did one of them have the amazing pointed ears, but they all had an air of...something. Something was different.

    Unlike Anakita, whom she'd noticed had taken a straight forward tack with the new group, Nairn remained in stealth and observed. The man stood close to the woman leaning against the stone - perhaps as support, but she guessed it was something more. The similarities between two of the women. The general ease with which they existed close to each other. It reminded her of the Snakecharm clan. Interesting.

    Still, there was something different about them. Nairn made a silent approach, circling behind the two younger women and coming to stand between them and the other two. She looked them over carefully, then caught herself staring at the caster's apparel. That was it. That was what seemed different. This fabric was entirely unlike any she'd seen in Tyria. At least, she was nearly certain. Leaning down, she gingerly took a loose fold of the woman's garment between her thumb and forefinger with an appraising rub.

  4. #74
    Nairn's sudden appearance drew surprised looks all around - including from Anakita and Stefan, who knew she was nearby but hadn't expected her to pop out of hiding at just that moment to grasp the robe of one of the newcomers.

    The soldier's hand went to the hilt of his sword, reflexively defensive. But the youngest member of the group responded with much more immediate and definitive action. In the space of a second, a small dagger had been produced from some hidden pocket in her clothing, and the point now rested against Nairn's neck just below the chin.

    "Cara, it's alright!" the mage said amiably but in a tone that would allow for no argument. "She isn't doing any harm. There's no need to start off on the wrong foot."

    Cara continued to scowl at Nairn, but did as she was told. The dagger was withdrawn and she took a step back... but it remained in her hand, and she continued to watch the Norn warily.

    The mage seemed utterly unruffled by anything that had happed, from the Norn's approach to her daughter's reaction. She smiled again.

    "Forgive my poor manners. Allow me to introduce my family - well, part of it, as some of our children have remained at home. My name is Tempest. This is my husband, Cullen. And these are the oldest of our daughters, Rashel and Cara."

    As Tempest indicated them, Rashel was the one with pointy ears. She seemed shy and watchful, but greeted them with a nod and a small smile. Cara was the fiercer sibling, and practically the mirror image of Tempest. She nodded too, but didn't quite manage the smiling part.

    "We are newcomers here," Tempest explained. "Just visiting. So I apologize if we are unfamiliar with your ways. But we mean you no harm."

    Cara looked less than sure about that, but didn't contradict her mother.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-04-2020 at 08:36 PM.

  5. #75
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She'd stayed remarkably still except for her eyes. Those glass-green orbs had slid to the side to watch the girl who looked so much like the caster seated before her. Not look at - watch. The sharpness of the blade was impressive, but far less so than the quickness with which it had been drawn and placed. Make two members of the party with excellent form. Nairn didn't remove her gaze from the girl's until after the blade was sheathed and introductions began. At that point, a twist of a smile curled the edge of her mouth.

    Nairn seated herself on the same rock as Tempest, turned three-quarters away from the woman as well as Anakita and Stefan, meaning she had to turn her head to make sure she was heard - and to keep an eye on Cara. She folded her arms and crossed her legs at the ankle as she leaned toward the others.

    "Nairn Tuckamore. We have had a lot of visitors around here lately." It wasn't just the suspiciously unique fabric and the robed people with the ears that she was thinking of - it was the carvings of unknown animals she'd seen in Mikael and Iliana's stall. Too many distinct threads with similar qualities to be from entirely different tapestries.

    "You made the barrier." Her chin had ducked down to address Tempest directly. While her statement held no question of its validity, a question still hung in the air. She paused, almost seeming unsure about the asking before she added, "Why?"
    Last edited by Quaxo9; 10-05-2020 at 01:41 PM.

  6. #76
    Anakita Snakecharm and Tempest Rutherford

    Tempest nodded confirmation that she had made the barrier.

    "It seemed only right," she explained - with openness beyond what Anakita would have expected. "As you've probably already suspected, we didn't just come here as tourists. I came here to look for my friend."

    "Were they kidnapped?" Anakita asked.

    Tempest shook her head. "No. He's missing, but not kidnapped. He left us voluntarily. He... well, there's no good way to say this. He has a plan to tear down the walls between realities and release all the magic... which would destroy the world. Well, worlds, really."

    Anakita frowned. "You seem really nice. But I don't think I'm okay with that." She belatedly realized she and Stefan hadn't introduced themselves. "I'm Anakita. Ranger and person who doesn't want the world to be destroyed. This is my husband, Stefan, Warrior and person who also doesn't want the world to be destroyed. So could you maybe... not do that?"

    "We're not here to destroy your world," Tempest assured her hastily. "Quite the opposite. We're trying to stop him. Like I said, he's my friend. I think I can talk him down."

    "And if you can't...?" Anakita asked bluntly.

    Tempest and Cullen exchanged a look. Then the mage replied with similar candor, "If I can't, I'll do what must be done. I will not spare his life at the expense of countless other lives. But we aren't quite at the precipice yet, so I want to try to end it peacefully if I can."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-05-2020 at 05:35 PM.

  7. #77
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    "Of course, he wouldn't be the first to try."

    Traipsing across the world to chase down a friend making poor life choices. Sounded familiar. It sounded like something Anakita would do. Of course, she would chase down that friend only if they were in danger...

    "But you think he has a chance of succeeding. Or else...you wouldn't be here."

    Nairn lifted herself off her seat and stretched, rolling her shoulders from side to side until she got that satisfying 'click'. Picking the item she'd pulled out of grey's robes she resettled herself between the two parties. Her attentions were fully focused on her hands, making her questions seem more like rambling.

    "Are these robed people involved with your friend? The ones in purple seem to have several nests, but the ones in grey...are new."

  8. #78
    Anakita Snakecharm and Tempest Rutherford

    Anakita found herself liking these new arrivals instinctively. They seemed honest. Anakita appreciated that. People who tried to hide things were confusing and stressful. She appreciated when someone laid their cards on the table... even if the cards were the potential end of the world. Worlds. Plural.

    And, Anakita admitted to herself, she liked how feisty the stabby youngster was. A person like that had potential. A girl after her own heart, as it were.

    "I think so," Tempest replied. "I think they're some of his followers. He's not here himself - we thought he might be, but we haven't seen him."

    She examined what Nairn had procured from the robe pockets of the leader. "This vial... it's a potion that contains a substance called lyrium. In our world, mages use this to empower their spells."

    Anakita raised an eyebrow. "You drink this stuff too?"

    Tempest shook her head. "No, I don't," she said, but did not further elaborate. Instead, she continued examining the objects. There were a few coins - just money, Tempest informed them, and Cullen nodded. Nothing arcane there. But there was something else... a tiny piece of carved stone in the shape of a fierce, snarling wolf with raised hackles.

    "This represents the Dread Wolf," Tempest explained.

    "It does look like a pretty scary wolf," Anakita concurred.

    But Tempest shook her head. "The Dread Wolf isn't an animal. He's an elven trickster god. Very powerful."

    "Is that the god you worship?" Anakita asked curiously.

    The Rutherfords all shook their heads.

    "But you're sure he's real?" Anakita further queried, just for clarification - not out of doubt. She knew several gods she would never bend the knee to were quite real.

    "Very sure," Cullen said, with an odd expression. "He's the one we came here to find."

  9. #79
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    While the conversation continued around her, the thief held the vial between her thumb and forefinger, turning toward the sun to inspect the liquid inside. It was very pretty - she tucked it into the shadow of her palm and observed that it really was as luminescent as it appeared. She briefly wondered what it tasted like before her better senses reminded her that if it was for mages and the mage there didn't use it...perhaps there was a very good reason. Besides, she didn't use magic - what good would it do her?

    The revelation of the 'friend' being some god brought an inadvertent sigh from the Norn's lips. "Gods are often more trouble than they are worth. Kormir aside, I suppose." Nairn was well aware that of the human gods, the blind one had been of some help so thought she could amend her blanket statement on basis of fact. She continued on the topic, "Would your friend be seeking other gods to assist him? I don't think he'll find any here - even the Wolf spirit fell to the dragons some time ago."

    Practically in mid-sentence, she turned to Anakita and Stefan. "Perhaps if this god is 'talked down', the cultists won't need to sacrifice the children. Therefore, helping them find their friend would be more efficient than attempting to eliminate everyone in a robe."

    The statement was delivered matter-of-factly with little emotion behind her words. Really, all of this with the Rutherfords and their god-friend was none of her business and, while she found them interesting, she had made no attachments to Iliana and Mikael as of yet. She'd agreed to help keep them and their children safe and if all they had to do was find one man to do it, well...all the better.

  10. #80
    Anakita Snakecharm and Tempest Rutherford

    Tempest and Cullen exchanged another look.

    "That doesn't sound like him," Tempest said to her husband.

    "I have to agree," Cullen replied. He explained to the group, "We had begun to suspect we are dealing with two different groups who are working together for some reason, and this is further evidence. The person we're looking for has never had child sacrifice as part of his repertoire."

    "That's good!" Anakita said cheerfully.

    "I don't mean to imply that his actions are morally superior," Tempest assured them hastily. "If his plans come to fruition, a great many children would die. But I don't think he is a threat to these children in particular. That seems to be related to the other group. I'm not sure what purpose they're working toward or why they've allied."

    "We should maybe find that out," Anakita replied. She wanted to protect Iliana and Mikael's children - but also prevent the end of the world. The worlds, she reminded herself again. Not just this one.

    "I don't know if he would work with other gods," Tempest said honestly in response to Nairn's musings. "Historically, he... has not gotten along well with others. But that might be why he's looking farther afield than the world we came from. He may want to make allies of those he hasn't alienated yet."

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