Reetch trudges through the swamp, almost slipping over as he gingerly places his hooves in the murky waters, all the while guiding Dara along. As he helped Dara over a fallen tree, he looks up to the things hanging from the branches.
"By the gods, what are those....?" he trailed off as realization swept over him.
"By the gods, what are those....?"
"Corpse Weed" Rias said walking across the top of the swamp water on red platforms. "Most the time people avoid them. yes, they can be dangerous, so keep moving"
Karen trudged by the vile plant, then turn turned to Rias, looked at the platform, looked at the group knee deep in swamp "you kinda suck"
Claire looked up at the trees with disgust, and moved as best she could towards the other side of the road. Even Elise seemed to avoid the plants, their eyes unnerving and unnatural in the extreme [/b]"Corpse Weed"[/b] Rias called them, then went on to say "Most the time people avoid them. yes, they can be dangerous, so keep moving"
Claire had little reason to disagree and followed suit - hoping to avoid the potential danger as best as possible. "No argument from me." Claire said, her voice slightly hesitant, as though the act of speech would draw too much of their attention.
William made his way through the swamp. He was looking around for any danger when he saw it. Plants growing human heads, William's face betrayed disgust. "By the gods, what are those....?" the Buvor named Reetch asked. Rias replied "Corpse Weed. Most the time people avoid them. yes, they can be dangerous, so keep moving." "No argument from me." Claire said.
William kept walking, he kept quiet listening for anything that might suggest danger. He held one hand on his longsword, and the ash moved within his armor ready to defend him when called upon. "Stay together, I don't want anyone wandering off in these swamps."
Bom tried to guide his mule around the Corpse weed. Not worth getting into a fight with it. He was careful when dipping his feet into the deeper swamp water, accustomed to testing the depth before venturing further.
"I can't believe plants are your concern, its this stench that will kill us" Dara said completely oblivious to what everyone found so creepy.
"I can't believe plants are your concern, its this stench that will kill us"
"Just be thankful of your ignorance," Reetch said quietly, still eyeing the heads above him.
As the group moved slowly through the thick swamp water a set of 3 moss covered boulders started to float towards them after being hit by the ripples in the water the group was causing.
"Out of curiosity would anyone tell me what's swimming towards us?" Dara questioned hopeing that it was nothing.
"would anyone tell me what's swimming towards us?"
Bom stopped in his tracks and looked around to see what Dara Gon was referring to. He wondered how a blind Buvor noticed what they all didn't.
"I don't know. Best keep an eye..." he glanced at Dara, "...stay vigilant."
The corpseweed began spitting acid onto the rocks, as they floated passed, though this achieved nothing merely causing the moss to be corroded off. The rocks lifted themselves out of the water revealing them to be a giant crap, the crap started tearing down the corpseweed trees, causing the acids in their heads to spill into the water. It stopped approaching the group and continued its lumbering rampage. The group started feeling a tingling sensation around their feet, it looked like the crab was trying to acidify the water instead of attacking its prey head on. The road seemed to re-emerge form the water a fair bit a head.
Rias wrapped the 'fruit' in red balls, pincher and all before to more acid poured into the water "i suggest hurrying" Rias said as she kept walk, though slower since most the energy she was using for the platforms, was now being used to keep the acid out of the water.
Karen nodded, and picked up the pace a bit.
"i suggest hurrying"
Bom nodded and waded faster. His webbed feet would have given him an advantage, had he not been hindered by hooves of his own mule.
"Come ooorn!" He grunted at it.
"Does anyone know a way to distract those crabs?"
"would anyone tell me what's swimming towards us?" The buvor has said what William had also though. "I don't know. Best keep an eye...stay vigilant." Brom said. William looked around, looking for any other threats. Suddenly a crab appeared. It started destroying the trees filling the water with acid. "i suggest hurrying" Rias began using her power to stop as much acid as she could. "Does anyone know a way to distract those crabs?"
William looked at the crab, he knew an way to distract it. He lifted his left hand and ash began to gather around it. He aimed at the crab, and shot a stream of ash at the crab face. Hoping to blind and or suffocate the crab. "Everybody hurry up, we need to reach that path up ahead." William grabbed his tooth sword with his right hand, ready to fight the crab if needed. He also gave his pony the order to walk faster.
Reetch turned to see the mad crab and the approaching acid when an idea struck him.
"Mr Fish!" he called to Bom. "Please take Dara to safety, I think I might be able assist Mr William and Miss Rias." Reetch prepared his body and plunged his hands into the waters, with much effort he pushed the acidic waters away from the party and back towards the crab. It may not be much, but it will buy the others more time to get to dry land.
Bom heard someone call him a fish. He winced and turned to see Reetch doing something to the water.
"Please take Dara to safety..."
With one hand on the reigns of his mule, he reached for Dara with the other.
"Come along, old fella."
Mr Fish indeed.
Claire had little she could do against a giant crab, so she pushed her mare forward, trying to make it to dry land before the acid hit. "Everybody hurry up, we need to reach that path up ahead." William called out, echoing her own thoughts on the matter. Then he drew his blade; just in case. Seeing the wisdom in the action, Claire drew a weapon: her crossbow; and readied it to fire should either the crab or the exceedingly creep fruit make a direct move against them.
She briefly considered using one of Fromanzio's bombs, but decided against it; they were best used sparingly.
When the ashes hit the crabs eyes it didn't even flinch, thought it started flailing its claws blindly, hoping to knock over more trees. The crab also seemed to ignore getting its lungs stuffed with ashes. The crab still wasn't attacking the group directly.
Most of the group was starting to get close to the land.
Rias kept watch on the crab as the group passed her. she was the safest from the acid after all, and with the orbs around the claws holding the fruits, if it did make a move it would pay for it instantly.
"Hadn't someone better stop it?" Reetch said through gritted teeth. "We don't need to kill the thing, just get rid of it!"
The effort of keeping the acidic water back away from Williams and the others required alot of energy and Reetch was feeling the strain, liquid was far harder to control then wood or plants, it's too unwieldy, it was like trying to sculpt water into a shape and hold it in place.
"Hasn't anyone any ideas....?"
"Farewell, Son. May the ways of peace and fellowship become clear to you. Learn this well, and when you return, we will welcome you with open arms. You will be your own judge for this punishment, for you are smart young bear." Ivaan's father, the town's shaman, gave a smile to his boy, tinged with sadness. Behind him, his mother silently cried, she knew Ivaan's enforced 'Trip' was necessary, but that hadn't stopped her crying, hugging, and trying to look after her little boy before he left.
Ivaan smiled silently, nodding at his father's words. The trip was necessary. In a lot of ways, it was a relief. He had been wondering why his Animancy was different to his father's... And to anyone else's, for that matter.
Ivaan was beginning to believe it wasn't animancy at all.
He had accepted the banishment with humility. He could change. He would change. He would be rid of the anger ingrained in his blood. He would overcome that which none of his kind had overcome.
There was a cold bite to the air today, and Ivaan's fur bristled at his thick cloak as he held his mother for one last time, and set off. As he began to walk down the dusty path away from his village, he faintly heard thunder in the distance.
Ivaan wiped his brow, his fur clustered together, matted with the blood of his patients and sweat.
This town had been attacked by Antigonus, a filthy cretin that Ivaan had seen before. Had it not been for his father, Antigonus' minions would have lay waste to Ivaan's home long ago.
Though this town had had help. A group of travellers of some kind, wielding strange and wonderful powers had saved them, and killed Antigonus.
Ivaan had buried the cretin in an unmarked grave, giving a friendlier ceremony to others killed in the battle. He now worked on healing those not quite dead.
Those of his own kind were already healed, but now he dealt with healing those that had been controlled by Antigonus. The creatures had not been acting of their own free will; they did not deserve to die. He had healed raptor monkeys, and now he was giving the last of the strange, clawed spiders another chance.
After he finished up, and made sure they left the town and didn't come back. It was amazing what total control of a creature's life force will do to your abilities of suggestion.
He offered to help the village rebuild, but the town seemed keen to see him leave, possibly because he had healed the creatures that had tried to kill them. So, setting off again, Ivaan looked to the overcast sky.
Looked like there was rain on the way.
Ivaan was no expert, but he had a fundamental knowledge of tracking from his younger years.
He had been following the group of powered beings for a while; for he had many questions to ask. He knew there were a few humans and a Yama, which might have explained why they were heading towards the county capital. The travellers he had met on the road had told him of horrors of this land; the darkness that was pushing all the inhabitants of this land to the capital. Perhaps they were planning to do something about it?
At some point two Bovur had joined the group. Why? Possibly agents from the capital? Who were these people working for?
There they were! The group seemed to be fleeing from an enormous crab, enraged and scything it's way through the mud.
Ivaan climbed upon a large stone submerged in the water, giving him good footing to let him concentrate on dealing with matters at hand.
Ivaan rose himself to his full height, his hooded cloak billowing as a small breeze rolled by, even as he stood ankle deep in sludge. He drew power from the surrounding acidic reeds, leaving them alive, of course, and sent invisible spears of energy at the group, invigorating them, hopefully giving them courage and energy to boost them to dry land.Opening up more than five links at the same time was a shock to the system. It was more than he had tried at home.
He forced the links. It made it a slow transfer, but the energy pushed through. Ivaan threw his own energy into the mix, making sure all the the group knew where the energy was coming from.
The Crab was far too large for Ivaan to damage, and the largest thing he had gotten his powers to work on so far was a cow, but that wasn't about to stop him trying.
"Go, please, go!" He said, loud enough for the group to hear him.
Ivaan drew a little more energy from the hundreds of acidic weeds, and sent another burst of energy towards the crab, before drawing it back and forth, creating a link of energy between the crab and Ivaan that was much stronger the the temporary links he had sent to the group of people.
Ivaan had learnt that if he concentrated and tied an emotion to an energy link, he could transfer a little of the feeling to the target of an energy transfer.
Having meditated on peace, calm and tranquillity for most of his life, it was quite easy to send a calming flash directly into the crab's animalistic mind.
"Eeeasy, buddy. No-ones trying to kill you. I bet there's plenty of food in the deeper areas of swamp." The bear said to no-one in particular, using his speech as a way to put himself in the right mindset for his power.
C-crap I can't keep this up... Ivaan began to shake. The link was fraying. The creature was too damn big, and there was so much energy tied up in those knotted muscles holding the giant exoskeleton up that Ivaan was having to widen his search for energy. The sparking juice in the small fish darting beneath the waters, the tiny fuzzing of the insects and leeches, the soaring arcs in the birds overhead.
Nothing died. Everything gave up a little energy that snowballed into a hulking mass within Ivaan.
Even If this worked, Ivaan was going to need a break from using his power after this. He was a conduit that was nearly burnt out, and if the crab didn't start to calm down soon, Ivaan would have his own life energy torn from it's rightful place. The crab would devour Ivaan without even noticing him.
But there was something else; as ivaan had made the connection with the crab he noticed something; the brain was dead, its heart motionless and its veins empty, it was a being controlled by someone else.
There was nothing in it to be reasoned with.
He ran away from the crab, though the fact that he was on the opposite side of it to the others meant he had to run around the crab and the acid. He gave both a wide birth, making sure to not attract the crab's attention, and made a break for the shore with the others.
As Bom neared dry ground he felt a sudden pulse of energy, driving him onwards. It was almost as if he was being pushed from behind. As he, his mule and Dara made it to dry ground, he heard a voice call from behind.
"Go, please go!"
Looking back, he saw a Sophronius standing among the marsh weed. What is he doing? The creature was stood, apparently doing nothing but staring at the crab.
"You can't be staying there!" Shouted Bom. He had half a mind to go back and grab the Sophronius, but he seemed to finally come to his senses and make his way to the shore.
Rias just kinda stared at the Sophronius, she was surprised to say the least to see one. "Um, hello" she said as he went by. She also made her way to the shore, diverting some energy to gently lift Reetch out of the water and onto a platform once every one was ether out of the water or close enough to shore the acid didn't matter "Party's over, out of the pool" she said sarcastically as she motioned the Bovur to follow
Karen was equally surprised to see this new person but she was busy helping get the horses out of the water, till he was close to shore "your kind of a long way from home aren't ya"
"Party's over, out of the pool"
"Thank you kindly, Miss" Reetch said to Rias as she helped him out. She was less impressed as he shook his body like a dog, attempting to dry his furry hindquarters of swamp water, sending droplets everywhere. He looked up at the stranger now in their midst.
"A bear?" He thought to himself, looking Ivaan up and down. "Next to our fishy friend I've seen everything." He clambered over the terrain to where the party now stood grouped, finding Dara besides Bom, he squeezed between them.
"Who's the new fellow?" he asked out loud.
William was surprised by the lack of response of the crab, but every living thing needed air. So if it didn't need air it would be dead, which wasn't very strange in a land filled with necromancers. William suddenly felt strange energy, he spotted a Sophronius "Go, please, go!" he said. William wasn't happy to see another foreigner, still he appeared to be friendly. The party began to make their way to the shore. William joined them and used his power to make his items lighter, making him go a bit faster.
"Party's over, out of the pool." Rias said a bit sarcastic. Reetch responded with "Thank you kindly, Miss." William looked at Reetch, he was still wary of him because he was a foreigner. Still he had shown that he was willing to protect the group, William had mixed feelings about him. The Sophronius also ran away from the crab, he joined them on the shore. William hid his disgust for the foreigner behind a mask. "your kind of a long way from home aren't ya" Karen asked. William began wiping the swamp water of his armor, listening closely to the conversation around him.
As ivaan had to run through the water for longer and in parts that weren't being kept separate form the acid by the other, by the time he reached land the clothing and fur on his legs were completely gone, even some of the outer layers of skin had started corroding. Thankfully he had reached land before anything major had started melting. after the group reached the other side of the shore the crap rested, merely facing the group.
Rias was indeed less then impressed Reetch shook off near her, and had the expression of 'dude, really ....'. She put a side the fact there was a Sophronius around to get the swap water off her
Bom glanced at the submissive crab.
"There now, you've had your fun."
Now to tend with the new arrival. Bom had to stifle a laugh at the sight of the Sophronius' balding legs. Realising how impolite he was being, he doffed his hat and nodded to the newcomer.
"You are not hurt, I hope?"
The large sophronius frowned a little at the lack of fur on his lower half; Oh, come on. He chided mentally. He took the unburnt top half of his cloak and wrapped it around his waist as a makeshift kilt. There.
His modesty now regained, Ivaan looked at the group and paused.
"I... Hello, my name is I-Ivaan." He grumbled in a deep, bass filled voice.
Oh god. Ivaan hated meeting new people.
"I sort of. Um, Wait a second." He said slowly, as he reached into the pack he had brought with him on his journey. It had been high on his back, so the acid hadn't got to it.
taking out a pile of thin wooden plates, Ivaan turned them to face the crowd. there were three of them, the first showing a well crafted picture of Antigonus being stabbed through the throat by a sword wielded by claire. However, it also showed claire in the foreground and Antigonus in the background; with the use of a portal of some kind clearly visible.
"These were done by an artist of the sophronius village. I believe you were, umm, there?"
He switched to the next slide. It was a portrait, showing a portrait of bom, william and rias.
"The artist swore on his life that this is what he saw, and I feel inclined to believe him. I saved his etching hand from gangrene, you see."
The last slide Was put back in the pack with the rest, without being showed. Ivaan hadn't meant to take it out.
"I, um, my a-animancy isn't like anyone elses, in fact I think, umm, it might have more in common with the... Umm, powers you wielded defeating antigonus. Oh, I'm a shaman in training. By the way."
It was like a car crash in slow motion.
Ivaan Turned to the crab as it sat bleakly in the water.
"And I'm fairly certain that thing isn't actually alive. When I tried to link with it, I felt like another presence was controlling it. Like it was just a, umm, husk, a puppet. Though the power needed to control such a beast would be massive..."
Ivaan trailed off, his deep voice mumbling into a bassy cresendo.
Bom scratched his head and weighed up this Ivaan chap. So he knows about us already? he thought, He doesn't seem too bright, and he could be a danger. Did the Sophronius tribes send him?
"Pardon me for asking, but you must have been uh, following us. For a while....Why?"
"nice to see the etching skills of your people are still good as ever" Rias said looking over the slide with her on it "But why would a shaman in training be following us? shouldn't you be studying with your tribes shaman?"
Karen was content to sit back and listen for now
Claire stared at the pieces of art, a little shocked that they had been immortalized like that. It was strange that now, in some little village in the middle of nowhere, she - the diplomat - was seen as some sort of... hero?... murderer?... "person worthy of being remembered" - she could make no judgement without context; for all she knew they were w"anted" posters. For good or ill, they were remembered; which was especially odd given the less then friendly conversation with the Trent there after.
"Pardon me for asking, but you must have been uh, followed us. For a while...Why?" she heard Mr. Bom ask, followed by Rias asking "But why would a shaman in training be following us? shouldn't you be studying with your tribes shaman?". Claire, having heard mention of animancy and remembering the inexplicable "bolstering" feeling just before they escaped the acrid swamp, put two and two together and realized another comment was needed. "If you're an Animancer... or something similar, then I assume the burst of energy as we were escaping was your doing? If so; thank you."
Giving the self-proclaimed "Shaman-but-not-really" the benefit of the doubt, Claire sheathed her sword, and slipped off her horse; such that she could give the Sophronius a proper greeting.
When that was done; she reiterated Mr. Bom's question, in a slightly more diplomatic way. "So what brings you to this neck of the-" she said, taking a moment to look around, and finish "-swamp?"
Ivaan greeted claire, pleasantly surprised that she knew the way of the sophronius. clearing his throat into the back of a paw, Ivaan began trying to formulate the right words for the situation.
"But why would a shaman in training be following us? shouldn't you be studying with your tribes shaman?"
"I, umm, well, I suppose one could call it banishment, but it's more of an enforced 'trip' of sorts. I lost my temper when I found some of your kind- Sorry, I mean no disrespect- I met some humans, who were illegally logging part of the forest near my home. I don't know how they did it without the guardians destroying them, but they were destroying the forest for profit. Killing without mercy. I saw them slaughtering animals that were just trying to defend their home... and then laugh about it. I couldn't stop myself, my father, the tribe shaman, my mentor, was not with me when I found them, but when he eventually found me, I had- well, the humans weren't going to kill anymore."
Ivaan had clenched his paw-like hands into fists during his recollection, and took a moment to calm himself down, before continuing in his bassy, slow voice:
"Though my kind is known to have aggression ingrained deep within, Shamans must be well above such base urges, and must be able to control themselves. I left on good terms with my tribe and my family, but all of us knew some kind of punishment was in order."
Something struck Ivaan;
"Not that I killed anyone! No, even while enraged, I kept my senses enough to not betray my fathers every teaching."
Ivaan, having made sure this point was clear, went on to say;
"So that's my story as to how I came to be on the road. I kind of... Heard... of your exploits, and decided it was worth following up on the lead."
Ivaan hoped he had been clear about who he was, and went on.
"If you're an Animancer... or something similar, then I assume the burst of energy as we were escaping was your doing? If so; thank you."
"Yes, and.. no. I sent you a package of energy to keep you perked up, yes, but I'm not sure if it's animancy."
"Pardon me for asking, but you must have been uh, followed us. For a while...Why?"
Ivaan paused, this was going to sound weird no matter how he put it;
"My animancy doesn't... feel, like animancy should. If you've come into contact with animancy before, you'll have noticed it feels different. My father told me that I shouldn't be able to control the feelings of creatures, that my energy should not be so freely passed on, he told me not to dabble in sensumancy. But it isn't sensumancy, I've seen sensumancy, I've felt it in the minds of those poor creatures controlled by antigonus. My power's different. And your powers, the portal I saw in the etchings, the feelings of the energy that you" Ivaan motioned towards Rias "used to create those platforms, the power I feel flowing through all of you right now, it's like it all comes from the same place within all of you."
Ivaan scratched his nose with a long pointed claw and tried to explain.
"It's like... If animancy was a tool, a means to an end, my power, our power, feels more like... An appendage, like an eye, or arm, something that we have innately, that is as much a part of us as our hair or muzzle- erm... nose."
Ivaan ended awkwardly. He didn't like talking this much. It made him feel awkward.
"Look, I can show you, If you wish-" The sound of water lapping against the giant undead turtle seemed to grow a little louder- "But for now, could we get away from the giant crab? It's a little disconcerting."
"...But for now, could we get away from the giant crab? It's a little disconcerting."
Bom had listened to Ivaan's story. He could understand Ivaan's distrust for humans. It was natural to see them as something ignorant and strange; but then that is why he came to like them in the first place.
"I guess we should move on. Would you like to come with us for a bit? It might help you with your, uh, your journey of self discovery. Thing."
Rias nodded in agreement with Mr Bom's invitation "I think that's a fine idea". She though back on the days even and just smirked 'lose one gain three' she thought to her self, finding the sudden spike in members amusing as well as fortunate
Karen just shrugged "if we're done, we do have a mage to find and separate from the ability to 'be alive'"