The length of this journey seems to be wearing thin on the Zahir duke's otherwise such ebullient disposition, a string of loud curses ushering from the brush, apparently questioning the valid parentage of a rabbit as Aiden stalks back into the encampment, a deep scowl on his face. "Fornicating little fiend," he all but spits in rancor. "Wouldn't hold still long enough for me to run it through. Damn impertinence."
His vigil interrupted by the cursing of the returning Zahir, Vhramis looks over to the man. "You'll never catch anything clinking around in all of that," he comments, his sharp voice probably indicating that his temper is wearing thin as well.
Dradin is sitting by the fire pit, checking the shiny crystal dirk he carries with him for nicks and tarnishing and other blemishes. He wipes the blade carefully with his cloak, pausing only to look up at the Duke Zahir and Vhramis before continuing.
Aiden Zahir looks askance at the steward, his expression moderated only by the scowl turning into a sour smirk. "You think? Bah. It is too dangerous out there to venture forth -without- armor, Master Vhramis. I'd sooner lose a rabbit than my life, if it's just the same to you."
Vhramis snorts quietly, his typical politeness more or less lost as he looks back down to the knife. "And do you often put effort into futile tasks, Lord Zahir?"
Corriden is seated near the fire, sharpening his greatsword with a small whetstone. Occasionally he strops the blade on a peice of leather, grumbling.
Aiden Zahir's emerald eyes narrow in indignation, looking down his nose at the likewise less-than-friendly scout and guide. "Save your breath more for trying to interpret the nonsensical speech of our Wildling friend and less for unwanted opinions and snide, churlish remarks, countryman. For the moment, perhaps that energy would be of better use readying us to leave."
"Very well. We'll prepare to leave," Vhramis replies, rising to his feet and stretching his arms slightly. He looks to Corriden and Dradin thoughtfully, before turning his attention to the trees.
Four-Splotch swings down from the lowest branch of a tree ... on the other side of the encampment from where Vhramis is looking. Fluidly, clawed arms swinging back and forth as it moves in a crouch, the Wildling moves through the camp and stops next to Vhramis, gazing with him toward the trees. "Expect them to move?" the creature inquires.
Corriden uses some oil from a jar on the blade as he finishes, going over it with calloused fingertips. With an approving nod, the man stands and works the sword back beneath the sheild on his back, before picking up his gauntlets and helm. "We're moving out, then?"
Dradin sheathes the dirk and stands, stretching and yawning.
Aiden Zahir turns to concern himself with collecting his bedroll and other sparse effects, leaving Vhramis to contend with the gramatically-challenged Wildling.
Vhramis jumps slightly as he turns about to regard Four-Splotch. Though not enough to keep him from playing it as some other, non-surprised movement. At least he would probably hope it comes off as that way. "There you are. You're ready to lead, again?"
"Lead, yesss," the Wildling replies to Vhramis before loping off to the northwest, up a jagged-looking knuckle of mossy rock. An eerie blue-green in the twilight, Four-Splotch points off into the distance, beyond the ridge. "Ssssnake Tangle."
A brow rises archly from Aiden as, having gathered his belongings, he turns back to espy the aforementioned ridge, and ponder what must lie beyond it with such a foreboding name. "Snake tangle? How charming," he opines, managing a wry smile. Seems the notion of serpents is enough to improve the humour of this Viper, if only from irritation to sarcasm.
Dradin frowns as Four-Splotch announces their destination. "Snakes. It had to be snakes." He sighs and shakes his head, obviously not liking the idea.
"Snakes?" Corriden asks warily, affixing his helm while he watches the wildling warily. "Maybe you'll see someone you know, Zahir. All I can say is.. Thank the light for heavy armor. Snakes.. I hate snakes."
"Difficult moving?" Vhramis asks, following Four-Splotch up the rock as he can to attempt to look.
Those glimpsing beyond the ridge, downslope about two hundred yards at an easy angle, will see the territory the Wildling has identified as Snake Tangle: An expansive, misty swamp clotted with vines whose stalks are as thick as elder biinwood trunks, writhing and sloshing about as they shift in the stagnant, putrescent knee-deep water of the quagmire. These vines, the only apparent vegetation in the swamp, also seem to provide the only relatively dry way to the other side. And they shift, constantly, sometimes rolling over one another, tangling, twisting, choking and snapping loose in violent *twangs*. "Not difficult ... for Wildling," Four-Splotch says to Vhramis.
Aiden Zahir's eyes roll in droll consternation. "How marvelous. That means we're going to be in for the slog our lives, then. Just when you think it couldn't get any better, we're presented with a vine-covered, water-logged midden. One wonders if the Light could possibly piss on us any more, but perhaps it's best to not ponder that notion too much. Wouldn't want to give any encouragement."
Vhramis stares down at the sight, shaking his head slowly at some private thought. He turns half about to look down to the more heavily armored members of the party. "That armor. You may need to shed it. If you slip into that swamp, it will suck you right down."
Nikolaes takes two steps back from the water and shakes his head slowly back and forth... and back and forth.. and back and forth. "I can't do this," the Bladesman says with an unusual tension in his voice. "I can't. Not... water." He's still a little pale, but the sleep and tea did him a great deal of good.
Dradin mutters under his breath, "Oi, I never liked the marshes back 'ome..." He looks rather nervous at the prospect of marching forth into uncharted swampland.
Grinn Harwel's jaw sets squarely as he lays eyes on this latest obstacle. He tilts his head to one side and spits out a plug of dried lowweed. "Now don't this look like fun? Anyone got a length of rope?"
Aiden Zahir exhales a heavy sigh, but at length nods in agreement with Vhramis, making to remove his magnificent obsidian protection in a hurry. "In this much, you are likely right, Steward." In the midst of withdrawing his cuirass, the Duke stops, and levels a withering stare at Nikolaes, rebuke quick-witted and razor-sharp, "Buck up, man. You have a -wife- at home, and if you intend to return alive to her, you're going to have to overcome your fears the same as the rest of us have had to."
"You can," Vhramis states to Nikolaes, frowning faintly. "And you have to. For your Emperor." He looks away from those grouped back to the swamp, perhaps plotting a path that would be friendly for those larger and heavier than wildlings.
Without any hesitation, Four-Splotch lopes down the ridge and springs onto the slitherous southern end of a thick brownish-green tendril as it rolls slowly in the bog. The Wildling bounces from foot to foot, spreading his arms just so to maintain his balance. Within moments, another thick vine is grumbling up and over the Wildling's vine. It almost rolls over Four-Splotch, but the creature springs atop the rolling vine as it makes its crossing, and then drops back onto the original as the other goes splurshing back into the muck. The Wildling swings around, peering at the expedition. "Come! Black Tribe! Yellow Tribe! Strong here!"
"I've got rope," Nik states, but he's still staring at the path before him with dismay. "I can't do this." His breathing has quickened, but he's doing his best to gather his courage. The man is truly troubled by how the vines react beneath Four-Splotch, gaze following the rolling greenery. Slowly, he puts down his shield.
Corriden flips down his visor and makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a groan as he follows the group. Fishing around among his things, he takes out a grappling hook and clutches to it warily as he starts to wade into the swamp. Getting wet, he doesn't mind. Getting smashed by vines, he minds.
"Oh, tha's wonderful," Dradin mutters. "Fightin' off Wildlin's *and* making our way through snakey vine-thingies. Bloody wonderful." He quirks a brow at Corriden as he begins to attempt to climb onto one of the tendrils. "Wouldn' 'appen to have another one o' those, wouldja?"
"Slip it 'round yer waist, m'lord." Grinn slips the haversack from his shoulders and hides it amongst a cluster of brush. "Give me an end. If y' fall I'll pull you out quicker'n you can spit." The sellsword opts to keep his armor, though, it being lighter and more manageable than the noblemen's suits of plate.
Vhramis measures the distance to the vines, before sighing. Slipping the longbow off his shoulder into his hand, perhaps as an aid for balancing, he begins to make his way down the ridge towards one of the nearest vines, and up onto it.
Aiden Zahir joins the group as they begin their slog, his head shaking in faint bewilderment. "Let us hope none of us fall in. Somehow I expect whatever, if anything, lives beneath the surface of that muck, would prove even more unsavory than the smell."
Nikolaes slowly begins to relieve himself of items, sending a glare in Aiden's direction. "My brother Kole drowned when he was four," the man snaps to his relative. "And I watched it. So don't lecture me about what I can and cannot do."
Wiry and swift, Four-Splotch trots along the water-slicked sandpapery surface of the tendril, silvery eyes glinting in the dying light of day as its gaze shifts left and right, keeping close watch on the mercurial shifts of the strange mobile vine. "Fassst!" the creature calls over its shoulder toward the walldwellers - but it's a tossup whether its cry would be heard over the tumult caused by the sloshing vines in the morasse.
Grinn Harwel eyes his halberd critically and discards it after a moment's contemplation. He lays it flat on the ground and camouflages it with dirt and stray leaves, standing a single stick upright as a marker should he have the chance to return for it. Largely unburdened, the soldier makes his way to the marsh edge of the marsh and belly-crawls onto one of the writhing vines
Vhramis makes his way cautiously along the vines, despite Four-Splotch's urging. "We're coming," he growls, glancing behind him to see how everyone else is doing.
Dradin moves as quickly as he can without losing his balance, his pace slowed by caution in case the vine suddenly moves. He watches Grinn and decides that the sellsword has the right idea, getting down on his stomach and trying to crawl along the tendril.
Aiden Zahir cautiously navigates along the tenta ... tendrils, murmering invectives all along. "If we can get through this without meeting any violent opposition, I'll do a jig," he foreswears, if flippantly so.
Nikolaes pulls off his boots, leaving his feet bare, and discards other pieces of armor. He refuses to give up vambraces and cuirass, however. He hitches his haversack into place, pulls the looped length of rope to his shoulder, draws his sword, and pauses to look upon the vines with hatred. Clenching his jaw, the Blade chooses a vine he thinks was used by Four-Splotch and tries to run along it.
With a skittering of claws on rock, two dozen Wildlings crest the mossy ridge along the southeastern shore of Snake Tangle. They peer down at the expedition members trying to make good their escape along the vines. And then they turn to regard the arrival of one of their looming black-skinned Wildlingkin. That beast chortles as it watches the walldwellers struggle to remain uncrushed and undrowned. Then it raises a clawed hand and drops it, signaling its minions to pursue.
"I'll hold you to it," Grinn calls out, sparing a backward glance at the Zahir. It's at that moment he notices their uninvited guests. With a bestial snarl he turns, hands and feet scrabbling frantically, and propels himself forward as quickly as he can manage. "Move," he hollers, offering no explanation, "move, move!"
Vhramis mutters something unintelligable and begins to pick up his pace across the vines, apparently having seen the wildling charge forming as well. He keeps track as he moves, trying to find a more stable place to stand amist the twisting mess.
Aiden Zahir needs no further encouragement than Grinn's bellow, knowing full well enough that when 'Move, move!' is called, it must mean something wicked this way comes. So somewhere else, the duke goes, as fast as he can across the twisting vines, face twisted in concentration, trying his damndest not to fall into the mire.
"Water," Nik mutters under his breath as he tries to run barefoot atop the slick vine. "Why did it have to be water?" His longsword is tightly gripped in his right hand, but his attention is solely upon the path before him as he tries to dance along it.
Crawling over the vines near the back of the group, the much-stripped down Lomasa mutters every curse he can think of beneath his breath. His armor is left in a tidy pile atop the kite sheild behind the group, save for the boots which he can't get rid of without being barefoot. Only the obsidian scimitar at his belt and greatsword at his back remain, as he huffs, puffs, and curses his way over the vines.
Dradin doesn't need any explanation from Grinn. The Freelander speeds up his crawl, moving hurriedly across the tendril. As he crawls, he mutters a string of profanities and something about why the shades he left Fastheld.
Wildlings caper down the slope, some bounding off cast-aside shields and helmets as they fling themselves onto twisting lengths of vegetation, scurrying and dodging the writhing vines, bouncing from one to another. None pursue the walldwellers along their chosen vines. Instead, the pursuer Wildlings lope along on a parallel, moving to get ahead of the expedition members. Some in particular appear intent on catching up with Four-Splotch, intent on eliminating the guide.
"Light damned," Vhramis mutters, finally locating a slightly more stable foothold. He takes a moment to take a read of the situation, and, apparently thinks enough to nock an arrow and take a quick shot towards those creatures chasing after their guide.
Aiden Zahir exclaims an anxiety-laden, "Bollocks," his legs carrying him all the faster with those murderous cretins at the group's heels.
Nikolaes finds to his surprise that he is more surefooted than he expected and his bare feet might be the cause. With the ability to flex his feet and curl his toes, he finds better purchase upon the vines, but still has to struggle to remain upright. "Don't look at the water," he murmurs. "Watch the vines. Watch the vines."
Grinn Harwel places a hand awkwardly and slips, smashing chin-first into the vine. He up spits blood, probably from a bit tongue, but forges ahead without so much as a yelp. There will be time enough for griping once the expedition has reached dry land. A knife is slipped free from its sheath, gripped carefully by the tip of its blade.
Corriden narrowly avoids having his hand crushed between a rolling vine and snarls in reply, having considerable trouble keeping up with the group. "You know, without our armor on the other side, some of us are going to be bloody useless. I should've brought the lighter stuff." He grouses, tumbling over a vine and nearly into the murky bog.
Dradin is propelled faster upon seeing the forms of Wildlings in his peripheral vision. He scrambles across the vine, determined not to slow down.
As one Wildling is leaping from its vine to the one over which Four-Splotch is currently scurrying, an arrow from Vhramis' bow thunks into its neck. It goes down in a tangle of hissing, screeching limbs, splashing in the shallow mire before a thick vine rolls over the creature, crushing it.
Aiden Zahir looks over his shoulder, running all the while, as a Wildling is felled. "Well," he comments with that ever-irrascible candor, "I guess now we know what happens if you fall in. Lovely." And thence, it's back to watching his footing to make certain he doesn't follow suit.
Always one to follow up on his success, Vhramis draws another arrow and fires, before abandoning his suddenly shifting position and continuing to move on. "When do these vines end?" he asks to a small insect flying past.
The small insect offers no answers.
"One down," Dradin mutters, taking out his katar as he moves, in case one of the Wildlings decides to join him on his vine.
Another Wildling leaps across the gap between vines, closing on Four-Splotch. The creature leaps in the air, lands in a crouch with its back to Vhramis, and still manages to catch the shaft of the arrow in clawed hands with little more than a grunt and a slow blink of its silvery eyes. It looks down at the projectile, then glances briefly back toward Vhramis. While Skinner has been taking time to shoot, about six of the Wildlings have gotten within leaping distance of him. A feral, fanged grin breaks over the Wildling's face and then it raises the intercepted arrow like a dagger and scurries after Four-Splotch, intent on stabbing the guide in the back.
Nikolaes pauses, arms flailing as he tries to keep his balance on a vine that is moving. He quickly steps along it and tries to leap to another, yelling, "LOOK OUT, FOUR-SPLOTCH!"
Grinn Harwel pauses in his mad dash long enough to whistle at Vhramis' expertise with bow and arrow. There isn't much time for admiration, however. The sellsword grits his teeth and bends his arm back, casting the weighted throwing dagger end over end at Four-Splotch's nearest pursuer. His fingers wrap around the hilt of another blade before the first has even reached its target.
Corriden doesn't have the hands free for his weapon, considering he's having as much trouble as he is staying on the vines at all. He curses up a blue streak, trying to pick up the pace. "Shadow take it all! Those bloody arrows, again!"
Luck, more than anything, protects the Wildling in pursuit of Four-Splotch from the blade of Grinn's knife. Although the weapon finds its mark, it does so with only the blunt hilt - and then the knife bounces off the mottled flesh and vanishes into the murky swamp.
Aiden Zahir does not turn to take in the wax and wane of battle, far more concerned with getting his priceless arse across to whatever waits ahead. And not making of it a pincushion for Wildling arrows or claws.
"Jump, Greenskin!" Vhramis shouts to Four-Splotch, the circumstances forcing him to, once again, halt his advance and take a precarious shot from the shifting vines.
Dradin keeps crawling along his vine, watching arrows and knives whirl and fly by to the side and overhead. "Hope none of 'em hit me," he grumbles to no one.
Grinn Harwel knows his limits. He forgoes tossing the next knife, instead clenching the blade between his teeth and making use of all four limbs. The ungainly Fastheldian skitters across the deadly marsh like a palsied chitter, intent on reaching the opposite bank and solid ground.
But the Wildling's luck doesn't last. Still wielding the first arrow it snatched out of the air from Vhramis' bow, the creature is bringing the sharp arrowhead down in a lethal arc toward Four-Splotch's shoulder blades just as the second arrow strikes the pursuer in the lower back. Hissing angrily, it drops its arrow and then stumbles uncontrollably into Four-Splotch, who is just at that moment turning upon hearing everyone calling above the tumult of the mire. Hit full on by the momentum of the dying wildling, Four-Splotch tumbles off its current vine just as it's rolling over another - and miraculously lands on his back on the slick, rough surface of yet another, staring up at the sky and panting for breath. Vhramis, meanwhile, is now completely surrounded by Wildlings who are bouncing from vine to vine, waiting for the moment to charge.
Nikolaes' bare foot slips on a slick vine and he tries to stab his longsword downward into it for anchorage. "Light save us!" he cries in a genuine plea for aid.
Aiden Zahir finds time amidst running, or rather scurrying, for his very life to reproach Nikolaes' impromptu prayer, "Forget about the Light, man, and save yourself." Easier said than done, as the duke nearly slips on the slick surface of a vine, saved only by a last-moment teeter which re-stabilizes his balance. He wastes no time in running along, understanding full well that stopping for a breather could bring the last breath he'll ever take.
Vhramis just keeps ending up in these situations, doesn't he? "Probably my own fault," he mutters to himself, a quickly growing habit, as he looks about to those surrounding him. The longbow goes back over his shoulder as he warily eyes the hostile Wildlings, drawing Valacar from his belt and waving it about menacingly.
Dradin gives a relieved sigh as Four-Splotch manages to not die. At this point he decides that crawling isn't getting him across fast enough, and scrambles to his feet, continuing down the vine in a more bipedal fashion.
Four-Splotch's silvery eyes widen and its fanged mouth falls open in dismay - not at the predicament Vhramis has found himself in, but at the night sky: Two of the six moons, passing each other in orbit - one green and one blue, eclipsing. "The Ssssissstersssss," the Wildling gasps, quickly scrambling to clawed feet and spinning to shout back at the expedition: "The Sissssterssss! No time! Make hasssste!" Still unaware of Vhramis' peril, Four-Splotch redoubles the effort to scramble to the north shore ... tantalizingly close, just about sixty feet away. The Wildlings around Vhramis bound ever closer. And then ... then the strangeness begins with the point where Nikolaes rammed a blade into the vine beneath his feet. That vine - and all the other vines - start splitting apart into tenacious brownish-green ribbons of strangling vegetation. They lose all semblance of support and structure and thrash about madly, catching *everyone* - wildlings and walldwellers alike - in a thrashing, choking, tangling mess. Everyone plunges into the knee-deep murk of the mire, but will struggle not to get asphyxiated in an effort to get across the last stretch of swamp.
"Light!" Grinn croaks around his knife, flailing madly as he splashes into the shallow soup below. Through shear strength alone he finds his feet and struggles onward, clawing at the thrashing bits of vine and stumbling to his knees on more than one occasion.
Nikolaes's sword easily slides free when the vine splits open and he falls backward into the water with a splash. Rising from the murk with a roar, he slashes at the smaller vines with his longsword, spraying droplets of water and muck with his violent movements. Water is even slung from the end of his long braid when he turns. Little by little, he works his way toward the shore, teeth gritted.
Corriden shrieks as he's deposited unceremoniously into the muck. He starts ploughing forward to try and get out of the rotten swamp, using every ounce of his strength to push forward and shove aside the massive vines.. Well, it's more like, to avoid being shoved by them. "Sweet light on a stick!" The Lomasa roars, pushing past a hapless wildling without the time to waste on it.
A random curse rising in Vhramis' throat at the Wildlings about him is choked off at his sudden loss of support. The woodsman plunges downwards into the muck and twisting vegetation, surprise switching into awareness. Adrenaline already pumping, he slashes out with his fighting knife at the vines, cutting a way through the mess towards the shoreline. "Move!" he splutters, almost becoming entangled with a thrashing Wildling on the way. Out of more survival instinct than malice, he thrusts the blade into the back of it's oblong head and pushes past.
Shouting curses and deprecations upon the apparently illegitimate vines, Aiden wrangles with the flailing tendrils, doing his best to overcome their tactile strength and escape the deadly tangle. As one of the vegetative cables whips through the air, right for his red-haired head, the duke's response is strange, and perhaps inspired. Reaching out with both hands to grasp it, he wrenches the end off of it, throwing it into the soupy swamp with a spit of scorn before, breath belabored, he continues his wrestling with the massa damnata.
Dradin falls off of the once-whole vine and lands in the swamp with a SPLOOSH. "AAGH!" He scrambles to his feet, spitting out swamp water and, drawing on an untapped reserve of strength, charges through the flailing mass of tendrils. He slashes at offending vines with his kata, running madly toward the shore.
As the expedition members reach the shore, it is to find Four-Splotch waiting, crouched on a black finger of obsidian urged from the earth by the erosion of years, wind and water. The Wildling's gaze settles specifically on Vhramis Skinner as he emerges from the morasse with his comrades. "Too sssslow," the creature offers by way of criticism. Just then, a handful of surviving pursuers - Yellow Tribe servants of the dark Wildling still watching from the opposite shore - manage to wriggle their way out of the clutches of the moon-mad tendrils ... just in time to be pounced by the mottle-skinned Green Tribe scouts who had been lurking in the brushy shadows along the shore.
One of the bits of vine snags on Grinn's cloak, nearly yanking him off his feet. He grabs a fistful of velvet and YANKS, tearing the garment nearly in half but at the same time freeing himself to press onward. But yet another of the cords finds his ankle. He lurches forward and disappears beneath the marsh for one scary moment. Somehow Harwel manages to wrestle free and spit out a mouthful of swamp muck. His features contort in a strained grimace as he drags himself onto the bank, lying flat on his stomach and gasping for breath.
Aiden Zahir manages, at length, to evade the remaining, flailing biological tentacles, heaving himself upon the far shore with a sigh of pure, unadulturated relief. "Light," he murmers, hugging the brackish earth for a moment, "I'll never look at a topiary the same way again."
"Too slow?" Vhramis gasps for breath as he drags his wet self out of the mire, leaning over to rest his hands on his knees as he stares incredulously at Four-Sploth. "/Too slow/? I was busy saving your spotted ass, and you say I'm too slow?"
Dradin collapses on sweet, sweet dry ground, exhaling heavily. "Shades," he groans, slowly climbling to his feet and sheathing his katar back into his belt. "What, 'xaclty, *was* 'at?" the question more or less directed toward Four-Splotch.
Four-Splotch shrugs at Vhramis, watching in quiet contemplation as the other Green Tribe wildlings make short work of the weakened and weary pursuers. Satsified that the enemy is done for, Four-Splotch then regards Dradin with silvery eyes, fangs clicking together. "Ssssnake Tangle," is all he says, and then he lopes down from the finger of rock and makes toward the ridge to the northwest. "Camp tonight. Village not far."
Nikolaes says nothing as he catches his breath on the shore, gazing down at his soiled longsword. He ineffectually wipes it on the wet trousers he is wearing and carefully trudges forward on his bare feet, moving in the direction of Four-Splotch.
The corner of Vhramis' mouth twitches, and he glances down at his knife, as if he's giving some thought about putting it to use again on the back of another Wildling's head. He apparently thinks differently, sliding it back into his belt and turning to take a headcount of everyone. "We're all here?" he asks, breath heavy.
"We're staying in a wildling villiage?" Corriden asks with a bewildered expression. "Well, this ought to be interesting, at least." Coated with mud and nasty stuff from the bog, the less-burdened Lomasa trots along with the group unhappily, looking back over one shoulder. "Well, at least my armor won't fit any of the little bastards."
"Present," Dradin replies to Vhramis, regaining his breath by now. "Wildlin' village... hope they have summat to eat aside from stew," he mumbles.
Aiden Zahir rises to his feet on momentarily unsteady legs, noting dourly, "For the most part. I hope those damn cretins can't figure how to buckle my armor," the Spymaster suggests, looking askance at Corriden. "May they find no enjoyment in your craftsmanship, Lord Lomasa. A pity that it had to be sacrificed, but better armor than one's own life."
On the opposite shore of Snake Tangle, the dark Wildling on the far ridge grunts in disappointment at the outcome of the pursuit. The looming beast crouches to pick up one of the dropped helmets. Slowly, he rises, straightens, and peruses the hollow armor. His head tilts, considering the helm as it turns in clawed hands. Eventually, the dark Wildling's brain seems to work something out. Ever so carefully, it puts the helm atop its head. Too small for a decent fit, the helm sits in wobbly fashion. The dark wildling's eyes narrow and it removes the helm once more, studying the gap designed to go around the skull. Fangs click together and eyes glint in the glow of the eclipsing moons before the beast carries its newfound prize off into the shadows.
Nikolaes wipes his sword on his wet cloak this time and shakes it a few times to throw off excess dampness. Head shaking at some unspoken dismay, the Bladesman awaits further orders to move.
Vhramis turns his eyes to look about, perhaps catching glimpse of more Wildlings here or there. With a faint sigh, he gestures in the direction Four-Splotch headed, before making to follow.
Dradin squeequees his sleeve and wrinkles his nose before trodding along after Vhramis and Four-Splotch, his water-logged boots making a *squelch squelch squelch* noise as he walks.
Grinn Harwel drops a bespattered hand to the hilt of his sword and coughs raggedly as he finds his feet. Mud and grime covers the swaypike from head to toe, moreso than usual. He wipes his brow with the back of a sleeve, managing only to smear more of it across his face. The prospect of spending a night in a Wildling village weighs heavily on his shoulders, but he makes to follow their native guide just the same.
Aiden Zahir joins this latest slog with something less than aplomb, wet and grouchy and devoid of armor. But, perhaps there'll be something roughly akin to a warm bed. One can hope.
Four-Splotch stands on the ridge, which is on the verge of a dense forest that sprawls off to the northwest. "Camp here," the Wildling says, turning to gaze up at Vhramis. "No further tonight. Foresssst ... very dangerousss."
"Of course it's very dangerous," Vhramis mutters, stepping up aside the Wildling and looking down into the deep woods. "What's inside there? More Yellow or Black tribes?"
"I don't suppose you fellows drink beer?" Corriden asks, without much hope. He looks down at his sopping, muddy clothing with an expression of sheer misery. "You know, we probably have to go through that again on the way back."
"Twelve years of marching have hardened my feet somewhat, thank the Light," Nikolaes says to no one in particular as he pads along without any shoes. For now, he continues to carry his longsword as a precautionary measure.
"Mad ssspectressss," Four-Splotch replies to Vhramis, dropping into a crouch and scraping clawed fingers in the earth. "Mindtakerssss. Gibbererssss."
"Because everyfing so far has been fluffy clouds an' bunnies," Dradin mutters, and nods at Corriden. "Could do with a pint right 'bout now. Some good apple ale..." a small grin appears on his face, which turns to a frown as the Wildling speaks. "Mindtakers?"
Aiden Zahir's expression darkens as his hopes of better accomodations than the hard earth are dashed at a stroke. And with the threat of even worse than they've travailled through to look forward to. "Seems tomorrow will be packed with fun as well, then," the duke curtly remarks.
Vhramis frowns and glances to Dradin, shrugging his shoulders. "Spectres? Gibberers?" he asks as well, looking down to Four-Splotch. "They're at war with Wildlings? Or are they animals of some such?"
Upon reaching the indicated spot, Grinn beings to peel his armor off layer by layer. First the hauberk, then a battered leather jerkin, and finally several layers of soaking wet wool which he slings over a branch to dry. He points across the Snake Tangle, smiling faintly beneath a brown mask of gunk. "Got a few sips of stout left over, if y' care to swim back for it. Be my guest."
"They're ... kin," the Wildling replies, and then lopes away into the shadows to engage in rather excited-sounding conversation with other members of its tribe, leaving the expedition members to settle in for the night.
Return to Season 3 (2005)