... Ivaan, have you worked out why it was done? That is what I'd like to know." Mr. Bom asked after arriving. He'd missed her earlier statement, so she repeated it.
"I see two possibilities based on our current state. 1) The ghoul rebelled like the old man said and needed to be killed. 2) The culprit was after Fromanzio's bomb case." she said, pointing at the empty bag and her broken window. "Though who would want them and know they were there is anyone's guess." she continued thinking it through. There was plenty of other equipment that was valuable; including several of her crossbow bolts, cooking supplies, etc. If it WAS the old man, and he was indeed after survival supplies, then it made no sense to her that he would only take the bombs. More likely, one of Fromanzio's colleagues returned to claim the "assassin property" - though that was hardly the only option.
Mostly though, for Claire, the culprit's main goal seemed to be causing her headaches.
"Thank god." Claire said as she saw the horses. William spotted Fromanzio's bombs were gone, he turned completely pale. Could it be? A undead Fromanzio?! William would rather face a couple of trolls then Fromanzio. "Fromanzio's bombs are gone. Ivaan; you know medicine - do you have any idea what could have done this?" She said pointing at the barn she then turned to William and asked "So is there any good reason for us to remain here?; I don't think this town is safe by any stretch of the term and we don't have much of a reason to stay any longer then we have." William agreed, the faster they would get out of this cursed village the better. Karen appeared, William was glad to see that she was fully dressed this time. "I suppose the worthless old fool would like to blame us for this as well, sure he'd love another poorly founded excuse to steal from us" It was obvious Karen still held a grudge.
Ivaan grabbed an undead and spoke "See this?" He said, rubbing the remnants in the cloth, "No bone fragments, not a scrap intact. Whatever did this, crushing a body into such a paste, had a lot of force behind it." Ivaan then walked over to a wall and continued "This isn't blood. An undead doesn't have blood, you see. the CO2 breaks down the proteins after a certain mount of stagnation occurs......the body would have to either be destroyed and then smeared, or the walls would have had to have been reinforced some how." William simple stared at Ivaan. What the hell was CO2? And what the hell are proteins? William had studied biology for a year among other things, but he had never heard of those things before.
"William, Claire, Karen. Two things occur to me. One, whomever, or whatever did this specifically chose to destroy the guard....Wooden walls have a significantly higher tensile strength when they are frozen." Ivaan gave William a stare, William was started to get annoyed. "I don't mean to overstep my bounds, sir, but this town has seen some truly disgusting inhabitants. And I'm not talking about the undead." Bom appeared and spoke, he seemed glad. It was obvious he hoped that last night's happening would be forgotten, but William wasn't the type to forget things. "Ivaan is right; no animal would go to the trouble of trying to overpower a guard. Ivaan, have you worked out why it was done? That is what I'd like to know."
Claire answered Bom's question "I see two possibilities based on our current state. 1) The ghoul rebelled like the old man said and needed to be killed. 2) The culprit was after Fromanzio's bomb case." she said, pointing at the empty bag and her broken window. William looked at the broken window, his heart skipped a beat. If Claire had been in her room that night, there was no telling what would have happened to her. "Though who would want them and know they were there is anyone's guess." Zombie Fromanzio seemed even more likely now.
William looked around the party. "If it is indeed the old man who stole the bombs let him keep them. And let's hope that he blows himself up with them. It doesn't matter much because, we are leaving this village within the hour. So grab your gear and get ready to move." William looked at Claire, he gave her a short smile before going inside. He walked towards his room and began gathering his gear, he also put on new clothes and his armor. He then remembered Rias hadn't been there when they were talking, he walked over to her room and knocked loudly. "Rias are you in there?" He asked sounding a bit worried.
Rias opened the door "Where else would I be." She said clearly still irate about last night and this morning, but she was ready to leave. "If we're done here, lets put this dump of a town behind us, lest we give that thief another opportunity to get more from us with no proof" Rias said as she exited her room
Ivaan nodded, silently agreeing, and followed the group back to the inn.
He already had everything he needed in his pack, so he was basically waiting for everyone else to get ready.
"I'll wait by the horses."
"I'll wait by the horses."
"If I come with you would you mind helping me get there?" Dara asked seeing as no one was letting him use there eyes "It is troublesome to be blind"
They took the bombs?
Bom thought about it. Even if they weren't the most valuable things, they were certainly a useful - and devastating. It was probably a bad idea to leave them on the horses, for the whole world to see.
With no further reason to stay, Bom was willing to get moving.
"I have no problem with that. So long as you don't snoop."
"...It doesn't matter much because, we are leaving this village within the hour. So grab your gear and get ready to move." William said, then smiled at her. Claire returned the smile - how could she not?
As the group broke to pack up and go, Claire did much the same. Before she went inside however, she stopped at a well to clean the worst of the mud off; no sense dirtying her cleaner clothing. With that complete, she made her way into the Inn; intent on getting out of this town. As she was moving through however, she heard Rias speaking from around a corner.
"If we're done here, lets put this dump of a town behind us, lest we give that thief another opportunity to get more from us with no proof" she said, clearly still upset about the night before. Claire tried to ignore it, rolling her eyes in annoyance. As far as she was concerned, it was the only good solution; Mr. Bom's guilt or innocence regardless. Whatever the truth was, the old man believed the group was responsible. If they had refused, the man would have attacked them. Given their state of dress (or in Karen's case lack of), it would have been a fight with little protection and few medical supplies to make up the difference. Best case scenario, they would have likely lost the medical supplies from the fight anyway, plus the time to heal (and the food entailed in that time) and it would have been a net loss long term
Combined with the way Mr. Bom had been acting; casing a weapon store, taking a late night stroll, and acting defensive the moment he returned - Claire didn't think there was a good way to mount a defense. She was annoyed at Mr. Bom for putting them in that position, but at least they had made the best of the situation - in her opinion.
Claire shook her head as these thoughts went through her head. She would voice them to Rias, but she feared Karen would overhear. Rias she could speak to; and if they had a disagreement they could resolve it. Karen however... Claire got the feeling she wouldn't know what hit her when Karen went berserk.
By the time the thoughts were through, Claire had finished checking to ensure nothing but the bombs had been taken (nothing else had), getting dressed for the day, and packing for their trip. Claire stared at the Inn's bed she had hardly had a chance to use forlornly, then left the room. Leaving the room, Claire called down Elise - who she suspected was sleeping in the rafters somewhere - and got ready to load up the horses. Resolving herself, she decided to apologize to Rias for waking her in such a rude manner upon there next encounter.
"It's going to be a long day" she muttered to herself, grabbing a bit of hard tack for her morning meal.
Rias opened the door "Where else would I be." Rias said sounding annoyed. "If we're done here, lets put this dump of a town behind us, lest we give that thief another opportunity to get more from us with no proof" Rias walked down stairs. William walked down the stairs too, he was ready to leave this village behind him. He walked over to his pony and he petted her. He had grown attached to her, it was almost like it was his last connection to home. He smiled at the pony, and then turned around. He gave the move order, and began to travel towards their next destination. He walked alongside Claire during their travel, he wondered how long it would take the others to figure out.
as the group closed in onto the city the swamp got more lifeless, eventually the only noises that could be heard was the group walking through the muddy roads. After while pieces of broken wood and cart wheels could be seen floating in the swamp waters.
It was about mid day when the group saw a group of five men completely and utterly covered in moss, They slowly rose from the ground and started very slowly heading towards the group.
Claire had spent the better part of the trip in close proximity to William as they made there way toward the capital. She'd apologized to Rias for the unpleasant waking, but found the relationship still strained (at least in her opinion); the cost of the food and medicine was apparently still eating away at the other woman. Claire flatly refused to apologize for the action; she was in the right. She knew the tension was only enhanced by her stubbornness, but Claire couldn't find it in herself to apologize for doing the right thing. The end result was less then a dozen words said to Rias over the course of the trip since the town. It was even less to Karen, but then Karen scared her so it was hardly unexpected.
Claire was pondering how to rebuild the bridges between the three women when they spotted the floating cart wheels and broken wood. It wasn't an unusual sight - even in human controlled swamps, but it was never a good sign. Broken wheels meant broken caravans, which meant lost souls. She uttered a quick prayer for the lost.
Were they in human lands, it would have ended here, but then, from the swamp itself, a number of humanoids appeared from the mud. They were covered in moss and, as a result, their figures where ill-pronounced. When they started moving toward the group however, Claire stopped and shouted at them. "Stop! Approach no closer!" She said much the same in the Yama tongue, hoping they would understand at least one of the warnings.
She held up her crossbow just in case they didn't.
Ivaan reached out to feel the newcomer's energy, He was unsure of them; possibly ghouls? They look a little worse for wear.
"Stop! Approach no closer!" Ivaan heard Claire call out in multiple languages.
Ivaan felt he knew a universal language; He drew himself up to his full height, bared his large canines and rumbled out a long, menacing growl, sure to let the newcomers aware of the danger if they were at all lucid.
Ivaan stopped growling after he felt the being's pain.
"Wait, Claire, they're being controlled." Ivaan shifted his bag quickly off his shoulders.
"I don't know how, but I'm betting the moss has something to do with it."
Ivaan rummaged through his bag and found his alchemy kit.
"I think I know a herbicide that could kill it off whilst leaving the people inside alive, but I need time to create it."
Ivaan's brow began to moisten.
"I can't fight and create at the same time, and I'm fairly certain if they manage to get a firm hold on me it's curtains..."
Ivaan began to panic a little as the creatures edged closer, before looking to his commander.
"Oh god, they're trying to fight it, but it's too strong... William, What should we do!?"
Hand to hand combat would be useless, Perhaps we could stall them somehow? Ivaan thought, repulsed by the idea of getting infested and controlled like that.
William had been walking alongside Claire during the trip. It seemed that Claire was thinking about something else while they were walking, William decided to give her some space. He would ask about it later. He spotted the floating cartwheel and the other broken wood. That was a very bad sign, William drew his longsword. Then a number of humanoid looking creatures appeared form the swamps, they were completely covered in moss and slowly walking towards them.
"Stop! Approach no closer!" Claire yelled in human and Yama language, William didn't know how to speak Yama but he could understand it quite a bit. Ivaan growled at the creatures, William gather his ash around them. "If you come any closer we will attack!" He yelled as the ash began to move around him violently, he was preparing for an attack.
For Karen the road trip was typical, her up front and on point, the fact Claire hadn't said anything to her didn't bother her, as the two didn't really talk much anyway, she did how ever notice something 'different' about how Claire, it was a 'difference' she knew all to well 'And another fears me that has no reason to' Karen thought when she noticed, but said nothing, no one listened before, and had no reason to believe anyone would suddenly start.
Rias and Claire had talked, briefly. Claire apologized for her rude wake up call but remained stead fast on the issue of the supply's. With a wedge driven between her and Claire they barely spoke during the trip, in fact Rias barely spoke at all, viewing the issue of the 'supply's' as a betrayal of sorts. Rias detests thieves, and the two 'leaders' of this team had just caved to one, and for the first time, Rias was starting to doubt the odds of living through this.
Both noticed the broken wheel and wood fragments in the water, when the moss covered forms rose from the murk, Karen readied her self for a fight while Claire shouted a warning.
Rias was disinterested in another pointless fight, and it showed. Her mist had a different feel to it as flowed from its bottles, the color was a bit darker to, reflecting her mood in a way, as well as giving her the air of a coiled and hissing Rattle Snake
Bom turned to see the advancing moss people, and took a step back.
"Don't let them touch you!" He yelled to the others, "whatever you do, don't let them come near you. That moss, if it even touches you, you'll surely be infected!"
He turned to Claire.
"There is no point warning them. They can't control themselves any more. The moss controls them now."
"There is no point warning them. They can't control themselves any more. The moss controls them now." Mr. Bom called out; there was little need to tell her twice. Claire pulled back the reins of her horse, making some distance between her and the 5 controlled creatures. Judging by Ivaan's words, they had a way to stop them without killing them, which was a good thing. That it depended on their ability to delay the monsters was a somewhat annoying fact, but not something that couldn't be dealt with.
Using her powers, Claire opened a pair of rifts - one in the fork of a tree and another below the closest one's foot. When the foot entered, she closed the portal around the ankle so it would be bound. That was one, but it would tie up her powers until the fight ended; the rest would need to be either dealt with by others or in a more traditional way; with swords and arrows.
"Ivaan! How long is that herbicide going to take?" she called out, hoping for a very small number in a very small unit.
"Weed killer won't do much good either," Bom said. "Their roots go pretty deep into the flesh. You'll have to burn it off."
Rias rolled her eyes at the back and forthing. "Bom, if the host dies does the moss die as well?"
Karen just backed up
Ivaan chuckled as a hiss and thick smog came from the chemicals he was mixing.
"This isn't your ordinary weed killer, Bom."
A drop fell from the container and landed on the grass, the plants getting practically vaporised.
"give me two more minutes, the solution has to not destroy animal tissue."
"Bom, if the host dies does the moss die as well?"
Bom shook his head.
"They'll just keep coming."
The whole group was backing away from these things now. Bom was worried that they might stumble straight into something else if they kept strafing. He looked around to see if anything else in the swamp was likely to attack them.
The swamp was lifeless in this area, apart from the trees, though who know what waits in the swamp water. The moss men just kept heading towards the group though anything but fast could be used to describe their movement.
Ivaan was beginning to panic; "The solution's almost done, but I need some heat to boil the mixture."
The large boiling flask Ivaan had transferred the viscous green herbicide into had enough to use on all the moss, but the creatures were getting closer and Ivaan didn't have any matches.
"Their roots go pretty deep into the flesh. You'll have to burn it off." Mr. Bom called out after her mention of Ivaan's herbicide. While she didn't doubt Ivaan's knowledge on the matter, she didn't doubt Mr. Bom's either. Turning to William who was fortuitously still near her, she called out. "Do you think that you can use your ash powers to start a fire?" she asked, desperate for some kind of ignition source in the damp swamp.
Ivaan faltered in his efforts as he felt that his companions didn't have mush faith in his herbicide.
"William, are we using fire or herbicide? I'm fairly certain fire would kill the victims of the moss, but if you think it would be a better use of my time I can sap the moss and the host's energy, making it harder for them to move." Ivaan needed leadership, if they weren't going to use the herbicide, Ivaan would stop working on it.
"Herbicide or fire, William?"
"Don't let them touch you!" He yelled to the others, "whatever you do, don't let them come near you. That moss, if it even touches you, you'll surely be infected!"
"Well thats great" dara muttered as he lifted his walking staff ready to fight
"Their roots go pretty deep into the flesh. You'll have to burn it off."
After hearing this he decided that he was more a of a liabilty at this point so instead set about helping Ivaan "What can i do to help?"
"Don't let them touch you!" Bom yelled. "Whatever you do, don't let them come near you. That moss, if it even touches you, you'll surely be infected!" William shudder at the thought and readied his sword. Bom then turned to Claire and said "There is no point warning them. They can't control themselves any more. The moss controls them now." William looked at the moss people, what a horrible fate.
"Ivaan! How long is that herbicide going to take?" Claire called out to Ivaan. "Weed killer won't do much good either. Their roots go pretty deep into the flesh. You'll have to burn it off." Bom remarked. William and the others kept walking back, keeping a distance between them and the moss people.. "This isn't your ordinary weed killer, Bom. Give me two more minutes, the solution has to not destroy animal tissue." William didn't know which one of the two had the better plan. Ivaan then yelled "The solution's almost done, but I need some heat to boil the mixture." Heat? Where were they going to get that from?
Claire then turned to William. "Do you think that you can use your ash powers to start a fire?" William shook his head "I am sorry but I am not able to do that yet." Ivaan then spoke to William "William, are we using fire or herbicide? I'm fairly certain fire would kill the victims of the moss, but if you think it would be a better use of my time I can sap the moss and the host's energy, making it harder for them to move. Herbicide or fire, William?" William had no clue, he hated these lands avoided them. William looked at Ivaan and then at Bom "We are going to use both! Ivaan, you start mixing that herbicide, the rest grab anything you can use to make a fire! And don't let them touch you, no matter what!" William grabbed a torch and a flint from his bag, he used the flint in combination with a rock that was laying on the ground to light his torch. William then ran over to Ivaan, offering his torch as the source of heat. William used his ash to form a weak wall in front off the moss people, hoping it would slow them down.
The moss people started to slowly, but with a lot of force, punching the ash wall.
Karen helped gather fire starter, while Rias reenforced William's shield with her own
Ivaan grabbed some tongs from his alchemy kit and frantically scrambled to get the mixture over William's torch
"At a glance... It should take about two minutes. Do we have that much time?"
Ivaan listened to the booming strikes against the ash wall.
"Thanks for the fire, William. How're we going to do this? fire then herbicide? or herbicide and then burning off whatever's left?" Ivaan asked.
Bom was desperately looking around for dry wood. Unfortunately, swamps are usually bereft of anything dry. He had to tear the branches off of a nearby dead tree and chuck them to the others for fuel.
"...Fire then herbicide? or herbicide and then burning off whatever's left?"
Bom stopped and stared at him.
"For pity's sake, whichever we can get ready first, use first!"
If only we had those bombs still.
The moss people arrived at the wall and started punching it with a lot of force. William could feel himself weakening. His power wasn't that strong yet and he had never made such a big wall before. Sweat began to pour down his face. One fist from an moss man got through the wall. William sent the last of his ash towards the hole. The moss man pulled his fist back, and the last of William's ash closed the hole. William felt his energy depleting fast, he wouldn't be able to keep this up for long. In fact his shield would probably have already broken down if it hadn't been for Rias helping him.
Ivaan had meanwhile walked over to him, and was holding his flask above the torch."At a glance... It should take about two minutes. Do we have that much time? "I don't know," he said, sounding unsure Ivaan then said. "Thanks for the fire, William. How're we going to do this? fire then herbicide? or herbicide and then burning off whatever's left?" Ivaan asked. William looked at him, he heard Bom shouting. "For pity's sake, whichever we can get ready first, use first!" William said "Just hurry it up, please. I will keep the shield up for as long as I can." William saw Claire, his revolve strengthened. He wasn't about to let any of the moss man hurt Claire and began putting more of his power into the wall.
"...the rest grab anything you can use to make a fire! And don't let them touch you, no matter what!" William said, giving them their orders. At them, Claire let go of the Moss-man she had contained with her powers and instead used them as directed. Realizing that there would be little flammable materials near the damp swamp floor, she opened a portal to the higher reaches of the trees and started cutting off the drier branches she could see. It was hard work to try and cut the branches without a saw, relying only on a longsword for a cutting edge, but she was making progress. As she completed the cuttings, she held the branch over the torch to light it.
Calling out to Rias and William - the front line of their current defense - saying "I've got a second torch ready; who wants it?" When someone answered, she passed them the torch through a portal. It was while she was handing off the torch that she caught glimpse of the resolved face of William. He was doing his best for her - for all of them. It was why she loved him, and why, despite how tiring it was to tear open so many rifts, she did it again and again; making sure the entire group would be armed with flames if and when the shield failed.
Rias noticed William's 'boost' of sorts, then looked to Claire, she'd kinda noticed a difference in the way the where around each-other, and for what ever reason it only annoyed her more, which was making her more inclined to just start hacking them up now rather then wait
Ivaan looked down to the tongs, seeing the mix just as it came to a boil
Ivaan looked to his bag, strewn out in the road a couple of yards back, the box of alchemy supplies open beside it.
"In my alchemy box, there's a Hand pumped sprayer, could Someone get it?"