“So he spoke, and so he spoke. That lord of Cats-A-Mere. And now the wolves howl in his hall with not a soul to hear…” Hunter is, amazingly, playing a musical instrument. It’s a stringed one, he’d picked it up in the market after meeting with one of the information brokers about the strange ‘Croatoan’ riddle that had been posed to he and Kaji and Ardul. No luck, really, finding out what it was. Maybe Kaji’s trip will be more fruitful.
At the moment the wolfen is playing a street corner near the Bazaar area of Saren’s Rest while he waits for Ardul to get a bite to eat. The song he’s singing is an old one. Pre-Rifts. So old no one really knows where it came from, only that it was important.
It’s gotten him a few cash as he plucks at the strings of a twelve stringed ‘strummer’.
The instrument is one that it’s familiar to Ardul. Hunter had seen her play one similar not long after she got here. That he can play was a pleasant surprise but she was hungry enough that she’s left him to get them both food. Which she’s now returning with – something meat-on-a-stick. She doesn’t know what and truth be told, she didn’t ask.
She’s not in her armour today, just a simple tunic that leaves her arms bare and soft leggings. On her right arm, a cuff circles her wrist and anyone who can see it will see it has wolfen markings on it.
The Iyesgarthian is still distinctive though, those giant wings on hers are hard to hide. Black – not grey / black as they once were – a mark of what the nanites had been doing to her.
“That’s a pretty song, Hunter …” No longer does she call him, her Lord. “… does it have a meaning, do you think?”
It had been a very narrow thing to catch the ferry out. Kaji had tried to make the most of his return to Vesper, but his priority had been checking out what he could find at the academy. At least his efforts weren’t for naught, and before he could get caught up in delving too much into the library in the old-school fashion of wiki-link clicking, he’d pried himself away with his notes, run over to Gran’s to check on his cat, and then hurried back towards the docks.
The ride across the bay gave plenty of time for him to catch his breath and calm, and fiddle with his phone on the off chance that maybe some ancient strains of the interwebs might still be functioning somewhere that wifi might pick up. Probably a lot of wishful thinking on that part.
Phone pocketed, he’s coming down the main way from the docks, his jacket tied up at his waist because of the warm weather, his weapons at his sides hidden beneath it. He makes a beeline for the music purely by curiosity, pace quickening when he sees who’s playing and who accompanies them.
“Hey!” he waves, grinning.
You know, El’s been busy. She’s been trying to find the right… artistic approach (read, Demons) to add a macabre flare to the art collection she’s been building, but honestly, she’s struck out.
Totally struck out.
That’s why she’s back in town, now, a hat over hre snakes as she slogs along, a flask in her hand.
The music first has her snakes pushing out from under her hat to peeeer in that way. Maybe it’s hypnotizing them! Or they’re just sensing the vibrations. Either way, she turns towards the wolfen herself thereafter.
“Oi! Hey!” She waves enthusiastically at the lot of them.
Through the crowd Hunter can see two women wending their way toward him. One nymph and one dryad by the looks of things. People he knows. And Kaji knows. Then Ardul gets his attention and he smiles.
“It’s a song about hubris laying a powerful man low. The ancient humans associated it with great sorrow and distress and the color red. Don’t ask me why though. I just like the tune.”
Kaji arrives right about the time the Penelope and Sophia do and before Hunter can greet the young man the nymph squeals in delight.
“Kaji-kun!” Where did she learn Japanese honorifics? Not that Hunter knows it’s Japanese. Or knows what Japanese is for that matter. The buxom spirit throws itself at Kaji to hug him. As she does. The dryad rolls her eyes.
“Ardul. Hunter.” There’s a pause. “Gorgon.”
Hunter sighs as Kaji is accosted. “Hello Elpida. Kaji, did you find anything?”
“It’s a pretty song …” Ardul smiles at Hunter, leaning in to press a kiss to his cheek before holding the food out to him. He’ll have to put the instrument aside, which gives her time to see everyone approaching. “I wonder how Penelope is …” she murmurs, snorting softly as Sophia throws herself at Kaji.
“Hello Penelope, Sophia.” The winged woman greets those two first. “Kaji and Elpida. Are you well?” Hunter’s already asked how Kaji went, so she adds “Our sources here were of no help at all…”
A nymph. And a dryad.
Elpida, you know… Elpida has already a bad feeling about this. A super bad feeling. “What’s next?” she mumbles under her breath, “A nixue? A siren? Harpies?” she takes her hat off and combs her fingers through her bitey snakes and then addresses Hunter.
“..nothing useful, anyway,” she tells him.
The voice that sounds behind him has Kaji glancing over his shoulder. He blinks. “Oh, hey El.” The question that might have followed is completely derailed by that squeal, and it seems that the young necromancer’s familiar with the sound or something, however looking a bit startled as he begins to turn around.
And down he goes.
“Ooow, ow…” Wincing, he tries to politely pry the nymph back. “H-hey Sophia. Oh, and Penelope’s here too!” He seems to have recovered quickly, looking relieved that the dryad seems more herself, at least. His attention returns to Hunter and Ardul, and his frown at the latter’s report on their findings dissipates into a bit of a crooked smile. “Actually, yeah- I did. It sorta sounded familiar with what Hunter said. Anyway- um. Sophia, could you….?” Get off? Cuz it’s hard to get anything out when she’s sitting on him.
“Sophia.” Penelope says wearily. She seems alright, to Ardul’s question. Hunter glances up at the blonde and shrugs tentatively. They’ll have to ask. He’s concerned. But later.
Sophia picks herself up off Kaji and offers her hand to help him up.
“Our Lord told us of you.” The dryad says to the gorgon. “You earned the ire of Athena. There are many eyes on you at the moment. Your doings on behalf of Persephone were… noted. Champion of the Lady of Death.”
Hunter quirks his brow. Another question for he and Ardul to ask. He does take the food she offers though and bites into it hungrily. Kaji will probably answer the implicit ‘what did you find’ question but Ardul can prod him if need be. He has meat on a stick.
Ardul just smirks in Kaji’s direction and doesn’t offer any assistance. The youth will have to work this out for himself. She’ll also see to Penelope … later.
Not knowing many of the legends, but having found out some, Ardul frowns as the Dryad addresses Elpida. “That sounds like an interesting title, Elpida.” The blonde isn’t sure that it sounds … good.
“When you’ve finished playing with your friend there, Kaji, you might tell us what you found about Croatoan…”
SO yeah, Elpida’s expression tightens at the greeting, the title.
A few snakes droop over her eye, making her look like a gorgon caricature of an anime person.
“Yeah,” she says. I got Athena’s ire. No kidding.” She pushes them out of the way and adds, “I really don’t want that many eyes on me,” she explains.,
Kaji likes meat on a stick. The smell makes him hungry and reminds him that he’d only grabbed a roll of bread before he’d got on the ferry, and that trip’s not a short one. Hopefully his growling stomach isn’t as loud as it sounds to him.
“Thanks,” he says as Sophia helps him up. He dusts himself off, rolling his eyes a bit at Ardul as he reaches under his jacket to pull out his notebook from his belt pouch.
“Here,” he says, flipping through pages before getting to the one he was looking for, a rough sketch of the coast and markings here and there. Notes scrawled around the top and bottom. “So I dunno if it’s the same Croatoan that Kazue mentioned, but there’s one that pertains to colonists like Hunter remembered. There’s some old case where these colonists from England settled on this island here- Roanoke Island. But then they mysteriously vanished and no one knows for sure where they all went. The Croatan were one of the local tribespeople that already lived in the area. ‘Croatoan’ was one of the only prominent findings, carved into a fence post in the village that had been abandoned.”
“Roanoke…” Hunter looks at Kaji’s notes and frowns. “That island in your notes… it’s not very far from here. And most of it is still above the water. We might be able to check it out. Though… we should be careful. Kazue mentioned a spirit.”
A spirit. And Roanoke, one of America’s oldest mysteries. If Elpida knows what’s being referenced she probably won’t be comforted.
“Sounds like Hunter and Ardul have a quest in the works. Perhaps you should help them, Gorgon. Might earn you some grace.” Penelope says. Sophia’s not paying attention. She’s too busy making anime eyes at Kaji.
Ardul hasn’t seen eyes get so big on anything before but Sophia’s eyes are certainly large. “Sophia.” she says quietly. “How do you expect Kaji to carry out his quest if you keep distracting him?” The tone … is one she would use for a newish soldier.
Taking the notebook from Kaji, she smiles a little as she hears his tummy rumble and hands over her meat-on-a-stick to him. “I got this for you …” Had she? Or will she be back at the vendor soon, getting more? Probably the latter.
With her hands free, she looks at the sketch and then to Hunter.
“It seems to match up with what … Kazue … said. They said something about colonists or something didn’t they?” A colony going missing though. That’s … bad. “Will we need a priest or similar to take with us?” Do they even have anything like that on Rifts Earth?
“You’d be welcome to join us, Elpida. An extra sword arm, so to speak, wouldn’t go astray.”
“…Wait, are talking like…actual Roanoke-Croatoan weirdness?” says Elpida to Kaji, since she knows he’ll get it figured out. She advances towards them while keeping a skeptical eye on the dryad and the nymph. She is wary, y’see, of pretty much anything to do with any of the Gods. Or their agents. Or Greek-influenced supernatural critters. She does join them, though. “You know I’ll help,” she adds, “GODS GRACE OR NO.”
Kaji’s not so sure that he’s eager to find out where the spirit comes into things, but otherwise this sort of investigation is right up his alley. He can’t deny his being at least a little interested in going to a place where something unusual has happened that hasn’t even been resolved in his own time. He looks at Elpida to see how onboard she is with this, but then he recalls that she’s also, despite her unusual appearance, come from a world even more normal than his own.
Sophia for the moment has been completely ignored, if unintentionally so, but between his enthusiasm in sharing his findings and Ardul sharing her meat stick, his attention’s easily elsewhere. His eyes nearly sparkle at the food, and after thanking Ardul, he tears right into it- and then decides maybe he should savor the rest as he can.
“Mm? Well, the place is maybe the same. And whatever happened might be too, since it happened waaaay before the rifts stuff in this world. But even then, no one’s figured it out, right?” he says as he glances back at Elpida. “So if it’s aliens or some spirit or a magical warphole, it’s still a big mystery.” Pause. Chew. Swallow. Smile! “But maybe we’ll find something out!” How can he be so cheery about this?
“I have a wonderful way of focusing most people, Lady Ardul.” Sophia smiles sweetly and then refocuses on Kaji. Penelope shakes her head behind her but is ignored by the nymph.
“If you want our help as well, Lady Ardul, we’d be happy to since you’ve helped us.”
“Well of COURSE we’re going to help Kaji-kun, aren’t we?” Sophia half pleads with her Dryad companion.
“Oy…” Hunter mutters and looks to Ardul as if to say ‘help’. “Okay. An island. We’ll need a ship. Those can be had. You two seem to know something of this. I take it it’s a story you’re familiar with?”
Oi indeed. Ardul fixes those cold, grey, eyes on Sophia and tries again “You are welcome to accompany us, Penelope…” yes, she’s talking to the Dryad “… but I will have Sophia’s assurance that she’ll … be more discreet.” Her fingers itch, right at the moment, to take the etheral woman by the scruff and hang her like a recalcitrant puppy.
Something tells her that wouldn’t work here.
“And it’s just Ardul, Penelope …” the blondes look softens as she glances to the Dryad. Is that just a way of addressing her or is the effect of the nanites still riding her?
At Hunter’s question to the other two, Ardul looks over expectantly. Can they tell them more than what they’ve already said? It certainly sounds like an age old mystery.
Elpida reaches up and pinches the bridge of her nose again. She is getting a headache.
“Just tell me what I can do,” she offers. “I mean… this was old history where I was from, more or less,” she explains, “I’m sure Kaji told you everything I could,” she adds.
Looking at the now bare stick that’s conspicuously absent of meat, Kaji blinks and glances up when Sophia mentions his name. “Huh? You say something?”
He’ll put his notebook away again unless it’s needed further, removing the stick from his mouth once his hands are freed up again. “Eh, somewhat. I remembered it a little more once I went through some of the stuff at the academy library. Felt a little weird doing research from an old book on unexplained and unsolved mysteries, but I guess that’s where we are in this day and age,” he chuckles.
“But more or less, that’s about the gist of the story,” he continues, nodding at Elpida. “No one knows where these people went- some guys from the colony had tried getting back to England for supplies and when they came back, everyone was gone and the houses and stuff had been dismantled. Of course, travel by ship takes forever so it wasn’t like they’d vanished overnight, but it’s still weird to lose a whole colony, right? They thought that maybe they’d relocated to Croatoan Island, which is nearby Roanoke, but immediate investigation there fell through cuz of a storm.”
“Sounds mundane if slightly creepy. I’m guessing it’ll be more complicated than that.” Hunter sighs.
“Well, time is of the essence but boats aren’t something you can just get. So everyone… don’t wander too far. Get food. I’ll make sure we can sail out as soon as possible. Ardul, why don’t you come with me…”
They should discuss anything else they might need.
Sophia smiles at Ardul. “I’ll be good.” For now. Mostly. “Shall we go get something to eat, Kaji?”
Penelope sighs. “An excellent suggestion. Care to come with us, Gorgon?”
Looks like folks are splitting up. For now.
“I mean, in reality, most people figuring they went to another island with the natives and mixed in with them and adapted to their ways rather than die. Here, it’s probably an army of vagina looking aliens threatening to consume all in their path,” remarks Elpida, still rubbing her eyes. “Yeah, yeah I’ll come along. I’ve never actually seen a vagina lookin’ monster from out of time with tentacles. Yet.”
“Hmmmm.” Ardul murmurs, already working out what they might need for the journey. Hunters words get a look from the blonde “As if I would be anywhere else, Hunter …” She’ll go with him. Between them they’ll get all that need. She hopes.
“See that are you.” Sophia gets a stern look from the Valkyr who then echoes Penelope’s sigh. Kaji is going to have to work this out but if Sophia puts them at risk with her … infatuation … the Winged Warrior will reprimand her.
“Be well, you four. We’ll find you at Rousseu’s in a couple of hours.”
With that, she loops her arm through Hunters and they head off. They’ve supplies to fetch and boat to hire.
Staring at Elpida like she’s grown an extra head aside from her snakes, Kaji slowly looks back to the others before nodding. “Yeah. No problem. We’ll be around.” He smiles at Sophia and Penelope, nodding. “Sounds good to me! -and we’re going for food, El. I dun wanna know what kinda weird hobbies you have.”
As Hunter and Ardul start to head off, the necromancer waves at them after snapping off a salute. “Rousseu’s. Got it. Okay girls, how about some eats?”
Ardul, Hunter and Kaji reconvene to report their findings regarding the riddle Kazue left them with. Elpida finds herself drawn along for preparation of their next adventure.
July 18, 2411