The wardstone line is hours behind them. Hunter and Ardul are experienced guides into the depths of Vanished Point. The Wolfen didn’t bring the bot. It’s big and obvious and doesn’t have enough room for five people. On foot is the best way to avoid unnecessary fights and that’s exactly what they’re doing.
The big wolfen has ditched his red coat. It’s too hot and also too obvious. He’s moving through the city in grey trousers the color of his fur and a black sleeveless shirt. His weapon is belted onto his left leg as he leads the group through ruined streets.
The dryad is not too far behind him but the Nymph? She’s sticking close to Kaji. Both are dressed sensibly in cloaks and trousers though the nymph’s is… er… low cut.
The dryad has a stick, because of course she does.
The street around them is littered with disused cars and rubble. Towers sprout up around them and the overhang of the upper levels of the city blocks out the sun. He’s making for a large express elevator in the near distance. Another, say, quarter of a mile.
Ardul is quiet, as she usually is these days, dressed in her gleaming silver armour. She keeps casting strange looks at the Dryad as they walk and her wings move with slight agitation.
Is that because of the Dryad or because of what she heard her people say the other day? It’s hard to tell, she’s keeping her counsel and no one, as yet, had tried to draw her out. Perhaps they feel she just needs to time process all this.
“There’s movement in the left quarter, my Lord.” the soldierly Avian reports. These areas typically have creatures in them – some of them just like to observe.
Oh yes. She’s keeping an eye on Kaji as well. Though the youth seems to be able to look after himself and … there’s the Nymph, who Ardul is sure won’t let any harm come to him. At least, none that she doesn’t cause herself.
Despite the warmth, Kaji’s still wearing his long jacket, figuring its regular and now somewhat faded olive green to be a neutral enough color that he doesn’t have to flip it inside out to display the necromancer blacks. He’s traveling light, his usual weapons at thigh and hip, a leather pouch attached to his belt behind him, hidden under his jacket.
Even though he’s been out around Vanished Point before, nothing looks familiar and he wouldn’t have been able to say what direction he’d been through. It seems he’s tolerating Sophia today, but then that’s probably because she’s not outright clinging to him. It’d make their trek a lot more difficult, to be sure, especially when there’s a lot of things strewn across their path that hardly anywhere seems accessible by a straight line.
The young necromancer straightens a bit, slowing when Ardul speaks up, and he glances back at her and then in the direction she seems to be looking, squinting to see if he can catch a glimpse of whatever she did. His hand rests on the hilt of his long ‘dagger’ strapped at his right, unsnapping the length of leather keeping it in place, but doing nothing more for now.
“Do you think there’s anything dangerous out here?” The Sophia whispers to Kaji. The nymph is close enough for her breath to tickle his ear. She’s been that close… pretty much as much as possible without actually touching him. She’s really actually quite good at playing up the ‘oh no, I’m helpless, I need protection’ angle even if one gets the rather distinct impression that it’s a very, very big lie.
The dryad, the one sticking closer to Hunter and Ardul, does not give off that impression.
“So lifeless…” She murmurs. There isn’t much green here by comparison. It exists but it’s all overgrown lawns and park spaces rather than anything else. No real ‘wild’ to the place and it IS mostly metal and ferrocrete.
Hunter holds his hand up when Ardul calls out movement and motions to the soldier, silently, to check it out while he covers her. Kaji he motions to cover. Cover juuuuust big enough to fit too if they’re willing to get well acquainted.
“It is, and it isn’t …” the blonde murmurs to the Dryad “… but what you’re seeing here most certainly is. Be aware though…” It might nothing more than vermin that Ardul saw moving. Vermin that’s big enough to chew your leg off, albeit, but vermin all the same.
The Winged Warrior signals her acknowledgement to Hunter as she unclips the cylinder from her belt. She doesn’t say anything as she slips through the rubble, past the cars that are standing there. There’s a shadow or two that moves not far from her, they don’t look big. This … shouldn’t be hard…
“I’d be lying if I said no,” Kaji murmurs, not glancing back at Sophia as he keeps looking around. He’s pretty sure the two can handle themselves, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to hide behind them.
Stopping as Hunter signals them, he then nods, bringing an arm up to wave Sophia back and to the side behind what might have been a wall at one point. It can barely be called that now, but it’s still something, and for the moment he’s not thinking about how cozy Sophia might get so long as they’re out of immediate sight of…whatever might be up ahead.
He looks over to where the others are before carefully peering around the edge of the wall, his right hand sliding out the long-bladed dagger from its sheath.
Hunter crouches behind a vehicle in remarkably good condition for having been abandoned for a few years and keeps his weapon aimed past Ardul just in case. Penelope crouches next to him, holding her staff like it’s a spear almost.
“Do you think it’s demons or… rodents or something?”
“It’d have to be kind of… unusually sized. I don’t think rodents that large exist around here.” Hunter murmurs.
At that moment the ground near Kaji shakes. He might be forgiven for a moment in thinking that he’s just being jostled by a suddenly very close Sophia – which he is. But the shaking is something else.
What bursts out of the ground in front of him – and at the same time comes lunging out of the shadows of a tumbled down all at Ardul – looks a great deal like a star nosed mole… if it’s hideous nose were lined with fangs and it’s protrusions prehensile, three feet long and lined with suckers. And if it were the size of a grizzly bear being investigated for steroid abuse.
The bellow has Hunter turning before he realizes to his dismay that it’s coming from both sides of the street.
“Hard to tell…” Ardul murmurs back, glancing over her shoulder to look at Hunter. That’s unusual, that she would do that – her discipline, might not be quite what it was. “… your nose is better than mine, all I can se–”
She doesn’t see what it is that jumps on her, but the weight is enough to send her stepping backwards and tripping over the bumper of the car that she just passed. Ending up on her back, the blonde is barely able to get her hands up to try and hold this thing away from her face – the only exposed flesh she has.
If it wasn’t so serious, it might be almost comical – the tall, Valkyr wrestling with a …. ‘mouse’.
This is going to make it hard to do anything with her breathing on him. Kaji shifts as he nearly loses his balance, turning his head to say something to Sophia when suddenly something explodes out of the ground. He yelps and jerks backwards, and whether or not Sophia might enjoy the close contact is up in the air as he might very well land on her if she doesn’t help him stay on his feet.
“Oh gosh, what the heck–?!”
Whether or not the nymph helps, Kaji’s scrambling to stand, still mindful enough of Sophia that he keeps in front of her as he brings up the dagger in front of him. “Drashaar,” he whispers to it, and its handle lengthens, Kaji grasping the spear with both hands now as he levels it in the direction of the creepy monster mole…thing.
Hunter opens fire on the one wrestling Ardul. He definitely hits it but it doesn’t seem to notice. These things seem to have a very thick hide. Then Penelope charges and swings her staff like a baseball bat and just… bowls the 12 foot beast head over heels right off Ardul. It’s not really hurt, but she did move it. It’s quite mad now, though.
Sophia grabs Kaji’s arm and tries to haul him back which is perhaps not the most helpful thing in the world. She’s also babbling in Greek though it’s unclear exactly what she’s saying or whether or not it’s a spell. What is clear is that several face tentacles reach for the shaft of Kaji’s spear to try to take it away from him.
Ardul flinches as Hunter fires, fingers trying to close around the creatures neck but to no avail, the thing is amazingly strong for something so … small-ish. Then it’s tumbling and the blonde rolls smoothly to her feet “Well, that was embarrassing…” she says dryly, squaring off with the animal.
The plasma blade hums to life in her hand and hums again as she swings it, straight for the angry moles neck. She’s not messing around here, she means to kill the creature… and although she doesn’t have fire, she’s something even better.
“Gah! What’re you doing??” It’s kind of hard using a spear when someone’s hanging onto your arm like that! Kaji hops back a bit, trying to keep his feet under him so he won’t end up falling again. He’s not sure what Sophia’s saying, much less doing, but it seems he’s got other problems.
“Eyew, nonono!” he says, yanking his spear back. He’s still paying for that!! When it seems that pulling it away won’t do much good, he changes tactics and pushes it forward instead, tugging his arm away from Sophia- or trying to anyway, so that he can try to give the creature a vicious jab. …the mole thing, not the nymph.
Kaji feels something press against his cheek. It’s… Sophia. Specifically Sophia’s lips. “Receive the blessing of nature.” She whispers almost sweetly.
And then his spear tip bursts into flames – don’t read anything into that – as he plunges it into the mole-rat-thing’s mouth. Amazingly… it’s still alive after he does that and still trying to drag him closer for an almost certainly lethal hug. Bonus, Sophia isn’t holding onto his arm any more. Where… did she go?
Penelope smiles at Ardul. “For it, perhaps.” Hunter steps up in line with them but Ardul and apparently Penelope are the melee combatants. Likely mostly Ardul.
The thing charges, dropping down onto all fours and lumbering forward like a bear. A very ugly bear.
“I don’t think so…” Ardul grumbles at Penelope since smarting from being tackled by an angry mole. “Shoot it, my Lord…” she calls, her blade humming as she draws her arms back and sets herself. “Let it near, Penelope and then hit it. Hard.”
That’s all she says as she watches the lumbering creature draw near. “… Now …” it’s so very controlled, the instruction when it comes, and the blonde brings the blade down again. There’s nothing flashy about the move, she’s taught Kaji this. In battle, you do the job and do it well.
Her blade should bite into the creatures neck, if it doesn’t sheer right through it. And with its attention on her, the other two should have heaps of time to … act.
She’ll worry about Kaji, in just a moment.
Under different circumstances Kaji might be blushing right about now. Actually he is, face flushed at the realization of Sophia’s having planted one on him, even though a better part of his brain is going ‘Really??? Right now?!‘
Buuuut suddenly his weapon’s caught fire but the mole-monster’s mouthed it like a flaming marshmallow. WHY IS IT STILL MOVING?! Kaji drives the spear in further, slipping his left hand away from the haft to grab his plasma blade from his belt. It’s only then that he becomes aware of having his arms free, but now doesn’t seem the time to look around for Sophia. So long as she’s not dangerously within range of suddenly igniting weapons– like that!
Shhhhhk! The pale blue blade comes to life with a satisfying snap-hiss, and Kaji’s wasting no time in hacking away at those grabby tentacles. Between the nymph and the mole thing, he’d prefer nymph kisses. …don’t tell Sophia that though. She might get the wrong idea.
Hunter shoots the beast to goad it and then steps aside as it charges. As Ardul catches it, green bands of energy encircle it’s legs. The Dryad moves her staff and speaks in sonorous Greek, slowing it enough to allow a clean hit. And a clean hit there is. Ardul’s energy blade meets resistance, but does bite deep. Deep enough to kill.
As for Kaji. It’s probably not clear what it is in the end that kills his beast. The spear, the blade or the Nymph that jumps on its back with a blade, stabbing wildly. And it’s odd – likely part of her magic – she still manages to look really quite good while looking psychotically violent. Meg would just look… psychotically violent.
Either way there’s two mole-beast corpses now. Hunter looks to the skies with apprehension. That was noisy and noise attracts things around here.
“We need to move.”
Fortunately, it’s an energy blade that Ardul uses and when the creature twitches and starts to topple, she simply turns it off. With the blade disappearing, it’s no longer caught. “Nicely done. You have my thanks, Lady.” she says to Dryad, before turning to bow slightly to Hunter. “As do you, my Lord…” She’s still doing that.
“Kaji, are you alright? And you too, Sophia? My lord is correct, we need to move. As quickly and as quietly as we can.” Her booted toe catches the still twitching carcass and she shifts it out of her way.
There’s a moment when Kaji pauses mid-slice as Sophia reappears and goes at it with the creature. Once the thing’s tentacle face has gone slack, he steps back, thumbing off his blade to return it to his belt before he finds a place to set his foot against the monster corpse so that he can free his spear from its gross maw.
“Er, yeah. I think. I think we’re good,” he says, looking over at Ardul, then back at Sophia. “…thanks.” He’s still not sure what that was about, but at least no one’s ended up as mole food.
“Moving does sound like a good plan,” he agrees as he looks back at the others with a nod.
“Of course Ardul. Happy to be of help. But just Penelope please.” The dryad says. “How much further Hunter?”
“If we can make the elevator, probably another couple of hours. We may want to stop and rest before then though. We just need to get some place safe ish.” Hunter nods to Ardul. Yes… she’s still doing that.
Sophia practically bounds off the creature and lunges at Kaji straight into a cheerleader-to-the-winning-quarterback hug. “You did it Kaji!” She practically beams. “I’m fine Ardul. Thanks.”
Penelope rolls her eyes as the Nymph tries to press another kiss to Kaji’s cheek. Only one! Then she lets go as Hunter indicates they need to move. And they do.
“This way.” The wolfen says, indicating a hatch that leads to the maintenance level below the main street. It’s possibly dangerous in a different way but at least there’s no sky for anything to come crashing down out of. And yes, there could be more mole monsters down there but given that they didn’t come boiling out like a plague, he’ll take his chances.
“Yes, La– Penelope.” Ardul answers, hooking the cylinder to her hip again, rolling her eyes as Sophia continues to grapple Kaji. “She doesn’t have a lot of self control, does she?” she murmurs to the other woman, turning to lead them onwards.
She doesn’t think twice about questioning Hunter regarding the hatch – that too has changed in recent times. She was never rude or insubordinate to the tall Wolfen, but she would challenge him if she thought it necessary. Maybe she just doesn’t think it necessary at the moment.
Not … likely.
“If you’re all ready, I’ll open this and you can go through. My Lord do you want me to take point, or will you?” Of them all, it’s the two of them that seem the most experienced after all.
There should be some place safe to rest, soon.
It’s only because his spear is still embedded in the mole that Kaji doesn’t go falling over in a heap of nymph. On the upside, Sophia’s forceful hug does help loosen the thing the rest of the way. Kaji tries to ignore the sound, but then that’s not too difficult when you’ve got a nymph latched onto you. He gives her an awkward pat on the head.
With the party moving, Kaji’s glad that she’s detached herself so that he can do likewise, although he spares a last glance at the remaining beast bodies, perhaps still unable to completely kick the expectation that they’d disappear and leave gold or some kind of goodies behind.
One way’s as good as another, and Kaji’s already seen how dangerous things could even be in the buildings that look in tact. He looks at Hunter, nodding grimly before compacting his spear to return it to its sheath. If it comes down to it, sticking with his lightsab– er, plasma blade might be best.
“I’m ready,” he tells Ardul, waiting to see who decides to take the lead. He’ll follow after.
“Oh she’s got a lot of control… this is what it looks like.” Penelope says to Ardul dryly.
“I’ll take point. You bring up the rear, Ardul.” Hunter says, dropping down. He’s not got a sword but he does have a laser gun. That counts right? So it’s some time in tight tunnels with Ardul and two nature spirits, one of which will probably be almost literally breathing down Kaji’s neck.
Is it his imagination or does he hear koto strings and vulpine laughter for just a moment.
Probably just… his mind playing tricks. Off they go.
Accompanied by dryad and nymph, Ardul, Hunter and Kaji venture deep into Vanished Point on the quest they've been nudged into by Lysander.
June 21, 2411