The small, sleepy village of Heldren has never known such excitement nor such concern before. A mere week after the summer solstice celebration, the air was already feeling as crisp as a late autumn day, and hunters claimed that it had begun to snow in the nearby Border Wood.
As time went on, reports from the Border Wood grew more and more concerning: Old Man Dansby, whose farm lies closest to the Wood, claims that half of his crops were stolen, and that whatever was left behind died in the cold; the hunter Dryden Kepp has seemingly become obsessed with hunting a white weasel that he found in the Wood; and word has it that the gang of bandits, Rohkar's Raiders, has grown more daring in the cold.
But perhaps the most concerning of all is the uneasy feeling that has fallen over the Wood. Most hunters come back to Heldren saying the same thing; they constantly felt like they were being watched, but when they turned around there was nobody there.
Gossip, as it usually does in Heldren, has become wildly speculative. Word at the Silver Stoat is that the Qadirans to the south are to blame, though villagers would never dare letting Zaarida Safander, Qadiran wife of Elder Natharen, hear them say this.
The villagers initially thought they could continue living life normally, as though nothing were wrong and the snows would melt away in the morning, but after a week of this weather, they are no longer so sure.
Our four heroes cannot yet fathom the journey that awaits them as they begin their day on this lovely "summer" morning...
(OOC: Please respond with a short introduction of your character, what they're doing/thinking this morning, and their own thoughts on this weather. Please bold any dialogue.)
The sun is high in the sky as Zylsys watches over her student. The student releases his arrow. Swoosh! It lands to the left of the target.
"Correct for the wind; an elk will not sit still for a second shot," she says, the subtle magic of her guidance taking hold of him as she places a hand on his shoulder to adjust his position. The next shot flies true. Zylsys looks on in approval as the arrow strikes the ring just to the right of the bullseye and a little high. He also corrected his last shot being too low... The boy's improving. The student looks back joyfully at her, looking for approval in her emerald, elven eyes. She nodds reassuringly down at him.
Zylsys is a tall woman. Standing at six foot naught, she towers among even the males in this city. Her olive skin and pointed ears further mark her as one of the few elves in Heldren. Of course, she is more than accepted by the people, and is a fixture in the city of almost folk hero proportions.
While her fey ancestry has maintained her beauty over the years, the thinning of her brunette hair and great wisdom in her eyes tell the story of Zylsys many years in Heldren. As a young elf of barely a century, she moved to there to be with a human man, a Cleric of Erastil. In the hundred and fifty years since, she's assisted at the temple, teaching generations of children in the small town in the ways of hunting, farming, and living in harmony with nature.
A breeze passes Zylsys as she sends her student home for the day. She shudders. Not from the cold, but from the... un-naturalness of the cold. Her late night trances had been uneasy as of late... interrupted by visions of frozen countryside and the icicle covered corpses of forest fauna. The snow she had seen at her cabin recently, and the uneasiness in the woods has led her to believe those visions had been portents of what was to come, gifts by Erastil with some unknown purpose.
She gathers her things and makes her way back to the Temple, her mind uneasy.
Rynle scowls at the sticky mark on the table, trying not to think too hard about what someone had left behind last night as she attacked it with the scrubbing brush, gritting her teeth against the lingering ache in her ribs that the vigorous movement summons. The cleric's magic had knitted the broken bones back together after the bandit attack, but the flesh around them was still bruised and sore when aggravated. Still, once she'd finished scrubbing down the tables she only had to lay down some clean rushes on the floor and she'd have a solid few hours to herself before the dinner rush to soak her aches away at the bathhouse. This is tough but sailors are tougher, she chants in her head, an echo of her old Captain's bellow ringing in her ears as she heaves the heavy bucket of water to the next table.
The memory gives her a grim sense of concern; she'd already been gone longer than she anticipated when she set out on her travels, and she'd been stuck in Heldren for a bit over a fortnight now. She'd expected traders to come for the solstice celebrations, but none had made their way out here. She might be forced to wait until next month, when Kale headed off to Zimar with the wagon to restock the taverns ale supplies. It's a depressing thought. It's not that she minds the scrubbing and cleaning, or helping out with the evening rush (indeed, there was rather less scrubbing here than on-ship where the entire deck had to be scrubbed to prevent salt build up that could damage the wood) but time was starting to add up and it couldn't be much longer before the Yellowfin was sea worthy again, and if she missed it how much longer would she have to wait to find a spot on another ship? And although she'd gotten out to Heldren mostly on her own, the throbbing bruises that still marred her skin were a telling testement to the stupidity of attempting that again. It was galling to realise how far she'd gotten, not off her own skill but off of luck.
The talk of weird weather made the need even more pressing; the Captain would be even less likely to hang around once the vessel was seafaring if strange weathers would endanger the ship further. And it was curious, certainly; she wonders if it is unseasonable weather, or if magic or gods are behind it. A chill runs down her spine; she wasn't superstitious but snow in high summer was... unnatural to say the least. And if Heldren was cursed or doomed or going to be the home of the next apocalyptic drama then that was something she really didn't want to get caught up in. This wasn't her town and it wasn't her problem, she told herself firmly, and frowned at the uncomfortable twist in her stomach at the idea of leaving them to their fates. Stop that. She scowled at her conscience. What do you want me to do about it? Run off and wave a sword at the ice and ask it oh-so-nicely to just leave these people alone? My debt's paid, they're just going to have to sort out their own lives.
"It's not my problem." She tells herself firmly as she picks up the bucket of dirty water and heads out the back.
Red. It was all so very red. There were shapes amidst the murk sporting various shades of the color as well; but, none of it made sense! No. Rathakk refused to make sense of it. None of it was true. He didn't mean to -- A shrill sound cuts through the air, shocking the slumped over pile of patch-work hand-me-downs and paper back into reality. Papers go flying and several books fall during his rush to sit-up in his seat. But, none are paid mind as faintly glowing red-eyes fervently searched the room for the first few seconds of rekindled life.
Rathakk is a tall man. At six foot six, few came close to reaching his height in the city. If it weren't for the fact that he favored his mother in terms of facial features and only slightly robust jaw, the greyish-green skin, pointed ears, and protruding tusk would mark him as nothing more than one of the elusive "scrawny" orc. And while most of the people of Heldren have come to accept the young man's presence, plenty of folk still find it hard not to cringe or avoid meeting his gaze.
He is not necessarily ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does he radiate even a sliver of beauty that a typical elf possess, let alone that of a human of good stock. One might not believe there is more to the beady, black-eyed gaze of the man other than hostility just waiting beneath the placid veneer. Yet, after fifteen years of scrounging for any scrape of the arcane -- be it mythical, divine touched, or merely historical accounts, folk knew him to be at least a dabbler in the arcane practices, and sometimes disturbingly insightful enough to be consider an up-and-coming sage of some sort.
A heavy sigh escapes Rathakk as the panic fades from mind. In its place, the dull echoes of the awakening shrill drifts front and center. As he slowly started to put things back in order on the sole table in the darkened abode, Rathakk freezes in place mid-placement of the final book. "Oh... Shite... The snare…! Priestess' offering! The alarm-- Wait! What if... Ohhhh-..." Rathakk starts beating himself over the head with the palm sized tome, causing a small welt to form. With a defeated grumble, he ends the self-punishment to begin rushing around in the dark. After catching a glimpse of sunlight slipping past one of the sealed window seals, Rathakk picked up the pace, knowing the only other occupant of the abode -- his mother -- would've already been out for the day. The lack of close by neighbors on account of their placement being so far to the edge of the city was a plus.
Stuffing the journal into one of his many pockets, he quickly brushes the thought aside and nearly breaks down the door in his rush... again. As he hurried his way in the loose direction of Zylsys cabin, a mix of excitement and trepidation tugged at the corner of his expression. Even if he tried to keep his head down, and thus outside of trouble besides little accidents at the forge, Rathakk had heard his share of the recent rumors going around. It took real willpower to avoid thinking of the town's latest arrival, and how her presence -- however crazy unlikely thought it may be -- could have something to do with it all.
Aki Swiftwind stares down at her little sister, who was rubbing her nose after sneezing like a newborn kitten.
She found her outside of Heldren, spread-eagle on a patch of icy-white snow. Estaria had nothing on but a tunic and the woolen hat Aki stole from a gypsy in Demgazi. She got the lecturing of her life, of course. Not only was Estaria not allowed outside of the garden, nor the fact that she was wasting strength—valuable strength that could've sustained her another day—but under no circumstances would she wander anywhere near the Border Wood, let alone be inside of it.
And now she was paying for it. Bedridden, tired, running a fever with a runny nose and sneezing. It was the first of a laundry list of things going wrong with the worsening weather. Aki expected warm summer days, a plentiful summer harvest. She expected to ditch her tattered winter furs, to roam the woods and find beasts aplenty. She thought her hard times were over, that she could relax for the first time in nearly ten years.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Aki also couldn't forget the bandits afoot. She too heard the rumors of Rohkar's Raiders expanding their reach, venturing further and further outside their realm of the Border Wood. Bandits that weren't below taking from the elderly, or even children, especially as the temperature plummeted. Living tired and cold and miserable, especially out in the forest, had ways to make a brigand upset. Aki should know—she was one of them.
She sighs, then brings her hand to stroke Estaria's hair. Her fingers find a chip of oak bark, flicks it away to the ground. She had to admit: she looked awfully cute out there. Limbs spread wide, arms flailing back and forth like a fledgling trying to find its wings. Aki could still see her smile, hear her infectious giggling. It had a way of brightening your eyes, pulling your lips up, filling your chest with warmth like the plane's best shot of whiskey. The only difference: this warmth was permanent.
Aki pushes off the bed and dresses. A set of thick, brown trousers. A heavy tunic and a dark cloak over her body. She allows her fiery red hair to rest upon her shoulders. She didn't need to disguise herself. At least, not today.
She walks into the living room, finds a woman sitting in the chair next to the fireplace. Dark, sunken eyes, frailed grey hair, a gaze that stared into the non-existent horizon. "Good morning, Laferi," Aki says. She's met with silence, but she continues. "I'm going to the tavern, then the apothecary. Estaria has fallen ill, doing whatever foolish things Estaria always does. Tend to her while I find medicine." Once again, she's met with silence.
Aki didn't know why she kept talking to her. She would get a better conversation from the fireplace behind her. Maybe it was a way to remind herself of the day's chores. Maybe she hoped there was still some life in those dead, emotionless eyes. That if she talked to her enough, she'd eventually respond, and they could be a family again. Not the dysfunctional mess she's trying to keep together.
Maybe the thought of her sister and her alone was too much to bear.
She flicks her gaze, stares at the embarrassingly bare table. Half a loaf of burnt bread sat next to a teapot of tasteless tea leaves and a slice of sour cheese. Aki steps forward, cuts a bit of cheese on a slice of the bread, then stuffs the sad excuse of a meal into her woman's hand. "Eat," Aki says, then turns for the door. "I'll be back. Probably." The woman blinks, stares up at Aki, then down at her hand.
Aki puts on her bag, then adjusts the shortbow and the black, leather sheath slung over one shoulder. As she dons her hood and leaves for the tavern, the crunch of hard, stale bread echoes behind her.
As the four go about your business, you are interrupted by the familiar ringing of the bell at town hall. Perhaps you think nothing of it at first, but it does not take you too long to realize that the bell is not announcing the top of the hour--it rang in nine o'clock not thirty minutes ago--but rather, it is ringing in a sustained, rhythmic pattern...
Rynle, while you may not be as familiar with this town as the others, you certainly understand it to be an unusual occurrence, and you notice that the other villagers seem to drop whatever they are doing and leave their homes, all of them headed the same direction. You hear Menander and Kale shuffle about on the upper floor of the tavern, and soon they are downstairs. Menander, a tall stocky man with a shaved head and impressive yellow mustache, notices you out the back door. "Come, Rynle. An emergency meeting is being called, and all townsfolk are expected at the town hall. And you've been here so long, I'd say that includes you as well, eh?" He says this last part with a wink.
A thin woman with long red hair, streaked with silver walks up behind him. “Be serious, will you?” Kale asks. “This probably has something to do with this damned weather.”
Menander straightens up and clears his throat. “Of course! But Rynle, you should still come.”
Aki, you know the sound of the bell quite well. Perhaps too well, as this very alarm was the prelude to two very important announcements in your life: the disappearance of your father, and the cancellation of the search effort several months later.
Zylsys, you have probably heard more of these alarms than any living villager in Heldren, and have seen several generations of bellringers--Orillus Davigen is the current holder of this office, you remember--and you easily recognize the urgency of its call.
Even Rathakk, on the fringes of the village, can hear the bell, though perhaps it is a bit dim for you at first. But as the ringing goes on, it only grows louder and harder to ignore, and you remember what your mother told you about the urgency of such an alarm; it could mean attack is imminent or that a plague is sweeping through Taldor. But you probably have the same thoughts about this alarm as every other citizen of Heldren...
Hearing the Zylsys grabs things and walks with elven swiftness towards the town hall. She hesitates a second before deciding to go ahead and bring her crossbow, tucking it under her travelers cloak. There had been raiders around, after all. Something isafoot, she thinks. Perhaps my grandson has uncovered some information about what's causing this damnedable cold. He was always a smart boy.
"What do you mean you don't have any more?" Aki slams her fist against the counter, makes the rows upon rows of glass vials jingle.
She arrived at the Willowbark Apothecary fresh in the morning, right after visiting the Silver Sloat. It was a tradition for her to fill her waterskin with whiskey at the Sloat, in preparation for the long day ahead. Once upon a time, she'd arrive and need not a drop, lest her flask would overfill. Nowadays, it was hard to recall a day she didn't return empty. As Aki pops the cork and takes a long drink, it seemed she would return empty once more.
"Listen," she says, after recovering from the liquid fire down her gullet. "You don't understand. My s-..." Aki stops as Tessaraea Willowbark, the owner of the apothecary, interrupts her. She twists her mouth at her words, at the fact that many fell ill due to the dropping temperatures, that her stock was out due to being unable to fulfill the demand. Aki persists anyways. "My sister needs this medicine. She needs it. I can't stay home and tend to her. She needs to get better now."
"If, gods forbid, her health declines, or worse, I... I..." The clang of the bells cuts Aki off. Tension crawls down her throat, into her lungs, seizes her breath. She clutches her breast, feels her heart throb, but with no oxygen to pump through it. It takes several seconds before the girl can collect herself. After opening her lungs to the miracle that was fresh air, she gasps, then wheezes as if emerging from the bottom of a deep sea. Her hand waves off Tessaraea as she pushes off the counter.
"The moment your stock refills, you get me a vial. Do it, or her life is on your shoulders."
Rathakk silently swore as yet another hidden patch of ice nearly causes him to fall flat on his face. As if he honestly needed to flatten a nose already boarding on a piggish standard! Fortunately, what momentum was lost could easily be regained quickly by the wizard. Even if she did eventually catch him, running away from Aki so much last year really drove deep the importance of adapting on the fly.
A second later, and with a mix look of intensified determination and fear, Rathakk greatly picked up the pace as if devil dogged his heels. No amount of renewed passion could prevent pockets of deep snow and ice patches from popping up from time to time; but then, it didn't rightly matter, seeing as he had no plan to stop soon.
The thrum of his heart beat in his ears...
The stringy mist of white that sprung up with every rushed exhale...
The strange but growing exhilaration and agitation...
The red diming the fringes of vision, and gradually creeping into --
Rathakk half-skids and half-stumbles to a hunched over stop. Amidst light panting and the occasional gulp for air, the sound of shhs and deep cooing slips out. "Shh, shh, shh~ It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. Just calm.. stay calm... breathe... Always go away. Always." He murmurs, rubbing his chest for good measure. For not the first time, Rathakk silently praised cayden cailen for the accidental good fortune of living so far out to the edge. Far, far away from most chances at a gawker catching the scene.
Start to, that is to say, but the nagging sound of distant bells drove him away from finishing it. He looks off to the rough direction of the alarm thinking another beast might've tripped the spell. But then, he freezes, blood cooling as he turns sharply back towards the village. "Mother..." Retaining only enough sense of foresight to stop by home long enough for good 'ol "Thumper" -- a gnarled walking stick -- along the way, Rathakk took off again deeper into Heldren. Much as he hoped it to be about news on the weather, there was no way the Lord of Patches and hand-me-downs was going to let a bunch of bandits get away with causing a ruckus IN town.
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When you realize you're doing too much: Signature.
Aki could remember several times for when the bell tolled in Heldren.
Sometimes a plague would sweep through the land, and the town council would tell everyone to stay indoors, away from the sickness and the disease. Sometimes a group of bandits would become too ambitious, and attempt to attack the town. The greatest possession one could have is their life, they would say, as they ransacked empty houses and stores of their savings.
When Aki was young, she thought they were cowards. Now, with a family to support and a little sister to nurse to health, she understood why.
Speaking of a mother and little sister, the red-haired girl in a black cloak spins around and scans the crowd. She stands at the center of town, beneath the statue of a woman with her arms extended out. The woman was covered in robes, her hair tied up in a crown braid. Her eyes were soft, caring, and peaceful. Aki's eyes were anything but.
"Estaria?" Aki screams, above the gentle murmur and drone of the crowd. "Estaria, where are you?"
Her eyes flash with recognition, but not of her little sister. Instead, she sees a tall man towering above the crowd, with greyish-green skin and pointed ears. She saw his sharp, orcish tusks, and his black, beady eyes that examined the faces of the commoners like he was looking for his next meal.
Aki runs up to the half-orc, grips his shirt and gives him a shake. "You. Beef-witted phony hunter," she says, her 5"3' height forcing her to strain her neck up at him. "I need you to find someone."
'Wha-- Gah! … Gosh darn it, boy! How many times do I gotta tell ya to pull that darn hood of yours down when yer loom'n over folk!? Got me think'n are darn red-eyed devil got into my shop'
Ever since Rathakk heard those words, the half-orc endeavored to follow them to the letter whenever in polite company. But this was an emergency, and he had no time to stand on ceremony looking for his mother in the crowd. While he didn't quite have the heart to call out for her just yet, the same couldn't be said of his compunctions about occasionally turn a fellow hooded Heldren around in hopes of getting lucky.
Preferably sooner than later. His poor heart could only take so many faces contorting into a constrained fear looking up at him, including the ones starting off angry. He was hurried mid-apology for the latest error when a sharp yank tugs on him. And he was no light weight by any stretch of the imagination.
"Bwa-... Ba-bah.... B-beef?" He asked quirking a brow, and sounding genuinely fearful in spite of the full foot and change he had on the fiery red-head.
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
When you realize you're doing too much: Signature.
Rynle bites back a comment at Menander; she's only been here for two weeks but the ribbing about staying has already started to wear. They're good folk, she knows, and they mean well, but... she'd grown up in a large city, and the tight-knit lack of boundaries of village life was new to her, and still rather discomforting. It grated, sometimes, the way people here were not only interested in everything about her but on some level felt entitled to know it; she held her privacy dear and sometimes the prying was enough to make her want to just damn the bandits and take off on her own determinedly towards Zimar, which was probably large enough for people to understood what the word 'boundaries' meant. And if one more person told her that a pretty girl like her should be settling down, not traipsing all over the place, well...
Still Menander had been joking -- probably -- and he and Kale had been good to her so she limits herself to a small groan and shakes her head, silently and reluctantly writing off the few hours of relaxation she'd been looking forward to today. She's not sure why he's so determined that she come to a town meeting that he's already specifically said is for the townsfolk, but it won't kill her. Besides, the weather is curious, and she might find out some more on whether it's natural or not.
It could also be a bandit attack, and her brow furrows at that thought. "I'll just be a minute," she says, leaving the bucket next to the trough. "You two go ahead, I'll catch up." It's only a few seconds to cross into the stock room where her gear is stored, and she pulls the leather jerkin over her head. The sides she leaves unlaced for the moment, more focused on getting her gear together then anything else at the moment. She buckles on her swordbelt, slides a pair of daggers into their sheathes and throws her quiver and bow across her shoulder as she hurries after her hosts, someone awkwardly trying to tie the laces on her armor as she goes. She might not need it, and hopefully won't, but the undefinied nature of 'emergency' means she'd rather be prepared than not.
"Like I said. Beef-witted," Aki mutters under her breath.
She turns around, stares at the people around her. When she was a child, men, women, and children filed about in relative peace. Some of them murmured as they walked to the town hall. Others in complete silence. Aki always found it uncanny that during a time of duress, things always seemed so peaceful.
She couldn't ignore the tension in the air, however. It felt like an invisible strand looped everyone's chest, then was pulled tighter, then tighter again. She looks back to Rathakk, watches his quirked brow, sees the fear quivering in her eyes. The girl takes a deep inhale, steadies her hammering heart.
She then grabs Rathakk's sleeve and turns for the town hall.
"Why are you alone, grey-beard?" She asks, half-walking, half-dragging him through the crowd. "Do you know someone else around here? A father? A sister? A friend?"
As the village's scant population crowds the front door of the town hall, Ionnia Teppen--a middle-aged human woman with short, gray hair--steps out, urging the crowd to back up. "Please, please, remain calm!"
"This is about the weather, isn't it?" one voice calls out from the crowd.
"When are you going to do something about this?" cries another.
"Have you contacted Oppara for aid?"
"My crops are dying!"
As the cries and demands of the villagers grow louder, Ionnia tries to raise her voice to be heard over the crowd. "...attack near the Border Wood!" is all you are able to make out.
"What else is new?"
"What does that have to do with the weather?"
Ionnia looks flushed and on the brink of tears as the crowd shouts at her. Two guards on either side of her take a step forward and place their hands on the hilts of their swords, and some of the more vocal villagers quiet down, granting a momentary reprieve. Those of you who have lived in Heldren for a while cannot remember the last time the villagers have been so riled up.
(OOC: Those of you who are looking for specific people can take this opportunity to make Perception checks to search the crowd. You all also have an opportunity to ask questions or take another action.)
Rathakk brows actually furrow hearing the insult a second time. Yet, the air of confusion about him doesn't quite dissipate. As much as he may wish to go back to the search, time and time again has long since proven the wiser course to be to listen to be patient with Aki. Still, he wrinkled his nose at the scent about her, and it is his hurried attempt to effect his original look of confusion when her eyes are back on him.
"Whoa! H-hey! It-I-I-..." He sputters, but is nevertheless dragged along behind her. Every now and then, he tries to look off into the small gathering of familiar faces, still hopeful of finding the one. But, after no doubt being tugged at least once to keep moving after accidently stopping, he winds up abandoning the effort all together. He does keep an ear out as best he could, and even perks up at the mention of an attack.
Bandits perhaps? Who? Wait, did he just see tears on Ionnia?
Before he even begin sorting out his thoughts, his attention is once more dragged back to Aki. "Wh-what? I-I... Oi. Are you addled again? Rathakk--" He tries tugging at his beard using his non-grappled hand. But doing so and holding "thumper" complicated matters to the point he lets out a huff. "--s'not grey-beard."He murmurs, then aloud adds, "You... said seek someone, though? This, I help." And in typical Rathakk fashion, the Half-Orc wastes no time on explanations before attempting to awkwardly pick hoist Aki up by the waist with every intent on giving her a better view.
Zylsys listened to the agitation of the crowd with understanding. She had survived through famines in her time, and the farmers were right to be worried. This unnatural cold could mean death for all but the most hardy of the villagers. But they still need to be aware of the dangers of bandits who might like to pillage a city such as Heldren... especially in light of the coming famine. After all, their stores of food could go quite a bit farther for a handful of raiders than for the small town.
Making her way carefully to the front of the crowd, Zylsys' ancient, elven voice rings out, "You say there's an attack near the Border Wood?"
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League of Improbable Adventurers: Fargrim Ironfist, Dwarf Cleric(2) Order of Dawn: Seraphine Dundragon, Human Sorcerer(1)
"Keep up," Aki mutters, but it seems more to herself than to Rathakk. "I will soon be addled if I don't find them."
It's not until the two are several rows away from the town hall does Aki finally stop. Her eyes widen as she feels her feet leave the ground. It's followed by a loud, piercing scream. After she realizes what he was doing, however, the fiery-haired girl stops resisting and allows the half-orc to hoist her up on his shoulders. The moment she's up, she scans the crowd, searching for any sign of her sister's shoulder-length black hair, or her mother's faded grey ones.
She wracks her mind as she attempts to recall what the two would be wearing on a day like today. The image of a woman wearing a prickly, brown dress comes to mind, standing next to a girl no older than eight wearing a cotton, baby blue one. She imagined the girl's shoulders were hunched, her arms clutched tight against her chest like a shield. She imagined the woman as dead-eyed as she ever was.
That was when her ears catch wind of the Border Wood.
Aki stiffens up. The Border Wood? What could possibly be going on there? She knew the rumors well-enough to think them as fables. Tales to keep the guard and the common folk from exploring too deep in Rohkar's land. Besides the odd snow and the stories, she didn't think they were true. They couldn't be. She tugs at Rathakk's shirt.
"Psst. Wizard," she whispers to him. "You know what ruse is being played in the Border Wood? Some kind of season or prank I'm not aware of?" She then watches as a woman from the crowd approaches, speaking with a vaguely familiar tone.
(OOC: Aki makes a Wisdom (Perception) check to search for her mother and her sister, with the help of Rathakk.)
Rathakk is helping Aki by hoisting her up on his shoulders. If that gives her advantage, take the higher of the two rolls, please! If not, just take the first.
With one eye squeezed shut and the other squinted following the whole ordeal, Rathakk is slow to drag his eye away from terror stricken faces of a gaggle of children nearby clinging desperately to a man. Harder still was pushing aside the heated gaze from the father... Yet, grumbling he gives Aki his full attention.
"Mmph! Never again... I keep promise." He states flatly before tapping the corner of his jaw with the tip of thumper. Even if Aki hadn't been around at the time, the story of his ill-thought out belief in the word of a kids some several years ago spread like wild fire throughout the village. Pranks are good for making people happy his butt! Even now some had the audacity to rub their chins at him and smile toothily after so many years.
With a shudder, he turns next to familiar voice, and upon spying Zylsys's form began to slowly he had to stop himself from taking more than an instinctive step forward to follow her. "Mmmmph…. Closer?" He whispers back up to Aki.
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When you realize you're doing too much: Signature.
Aki glances toward the man and his children, gives him a scoff.
"Pay no mind to them," she snarls under her breath. "A man who sneers at race is not a man at all. As for the children, they're simply naive. Taking after their father, most likely." She uncorks her waterskin, takes a long draw from it.
"Right. Yes. Your prank..." she says, but her eyes remain glued on the crowd around them. She remembers the children speak of the strange grey-skinned man on the edge of town. They called him Tusk Tooth and used to laugh about it constantly. She even remembers the game they made around it, Tusk Tooth Tag, where the children would take turns and roar playing the 'monster' in town.
It made her sick.
Aki stumbles at the half-step toward the front. She looks to Rathakk, then to the woman speaking with Ionna. It wasn't until then did she realize why she recognized her. "Wait, you know Slender Legs over there?"
Zylsys waited patiently for the couple seconds it took Ionna to collect herself from the outburst of the gathered townsfolk. If Zylsys had never seen the townspeople so worked up, she imagines that Ionna must be even more shocked at her young (well, compared to the elf, at least) age.
Taking a look around her in the pause, she notices with amusement little Aki comically held up by her friend Rathakk.
The two definitely had a close, if unusual bond. It was good for Aki to have friends... especially since she'd been taking care of her mother and her sister. The townsfolk help as they can, but there's not much you can do in a poor town such as this... especially for such a strong willed young woman.
Seeing Aki looking in Zylsys' direction, she gives a slight nod acknowledging her before returning her attention back to councilwoman.