Author Topic: Following a Cold Trail  (Read 84 times)

Offline Azalie

  • Handlesgilde
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Following a Cold Trail
« on: October 28, 2019, 12:41:41 AM »
Posted by Azalie   
She had done all she could do. Getting some people to come out and dig a hole large enough to host the great scaled beast in its death. It still bothered her about what sort of thing could have taken down a Rok Liontari. Those things, rock-hard scales and five eyes... lizard like gait and teeth of nightmares, took down basilisks as its natural prey. Then there was the man who was watching it die-- he said it was his dogs? Did he have so many they overwhelmed? And the rider, Aleksandr... what of him?

She had alerted her guild, figuring he was still on the roster, to his extended absence, wondering if he had been sent somewhere or if anyone knew what he was up to since Asphodel passed away. She also put up an ad for a hunter or someone experienced in tracking animals, preferably with a dog or something, to help her try and get where Keiro had been trying to take her. But it had been days, the trail was more than likely cold. She'd give it a shot, not knowing the limits of scent tracking. She didn't do that for a living after all. She trained beasts and figured out how to bond with them to make them a working animal in one way or another.

Right now she was preparing to take a raptor on an exercise run, one of few people who can work with one without a muzzle-- really she didn't need any sort of tie on any of her 'flock', capable of just walking up to them and slapping on the specialized saddle. She gave this one, colored like a mourning dove in brownish-grey, a scratch on the crest of its toothy beak before she mounted up, shifting up into the leg guards, her legs stretched down with toes barely on the bar of stirrups.
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Posted by Ben   
His reluctance to leave the forest hadn't swayed his hunt for coin. He poked around bars, spoke with shepards, offered to prowl around barns and private lands to catch vermin. Searching for any job that didn't have to do with his official one. <br/> <br/>He had amassed a few times the amount of gold he was gifted upon arrival, but still he wasn't content. Every roll would add to the (unneeded) comforts he strived to own, whether it was for Fae, or himself, or the fortunes of any future whelps.
An ad for a tracker, hunter, and possibly a dog. Well, he fit the bill well enough, didn't he? <br/> <br/>Not shy about asking for directions, he was guided towards Azalie soon enough, finding the woman preparing to leave before speaking up. <br/> <br/>"Afternoon." He was never great with greetings, finding some excuse to make as much eye contact as was polite, then look elsewhere as if distracted. "Did you put out the call for a tracker, Miss?"  Or, at least he thought she was a Miss. Honestly, some citizens had surprised him...
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Posted by Azalie   
She paused, having just been about to click her heels into the bird when he walked up. Her farm wasn't too hard to find once pointed in the general direction. Handlesgilde had its mark all over as an 'approved' or 'member' location. She was a half elf, the tips of slightly point ears peeking out from straw-like hair. Messy, that of a working woman than someone concerned about looks. Her garb something practical and only as expensive as it needed to be for lasting quality.

"I did actually," she looked him over with maroon eyes. "You're a hunter then? I'm trying to track down where a beast of mine had come from... I don't know how much of the trail is left though, its been some days since I've put up that request."
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Posted by Ben   
"Aye. Days? That shouldn't be too bad, but it depends on the beast." Something with scales would be harder to find than say, a horse or deer. Something that shed, or sweat. He was more concerned with traffic. How many other scents masked the one he sought? 

He looked... Acceptable, but it was clear he'd been slogging around in the woods. Burrs clung to his clothes here and there, or matted themselves into the coarse fluff of his tail. His pants from the knees down and forearms were scruffed with dust from a minor tumble, but his face was clean, and he couldn't be called disheveled.

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Posted by Azalie   
That didn't bother her any more than he might have cared about they hay in her hair or mud on her boots. But a scruffed up person meant they got their knuckles worked, she could probably trust this person to not just stare around for a few minutes and then declare it a lost cause.

"A Rok Liontari, or rock lion. It's not a lizard but has quite a few qualities of it, It has a mane though, so I'm sure it sheds at least from that and the crest... I had sold it to a member of my guild, and it came back to me bloody and dying." She shifted in her seat, the subtle adjustment of weight causing the raptor she sat on to turn in place, figuring she was trying to adjust direction before they head off. She reached up and pet it again, digging her fingers into the underfluff.

"He was trying to lead me back from where it came... but died not far off my property... I don't expect us to get far, but I would be remiss if I didn't try..."

Another pause, mourning still and heavy with concern.

"That and, if there's something out there that can take down a beast like that... I need to make sure its not heading anywhere near my farm. If it's close to town, then we should probably let Handlesgilde know... and maybe Battaglia or something to come exterminate or... whatever they'll do..."

She didn't do much off the farm, policies and regulations of anything other than what she needed to know to survive a 'meeting' at the Zeithalle was all she cared to mess with. She could handle all manners of cultural nuances though, strangely enough.
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Posted by Ben   
Instantly, he thought of the 'Hellcat'. After all, he hadn't seen anyone else riding beasts like that. Just one, that he hadn't seen in quite some time.

He chewed his lip in thought, lost for a moment as he recalled the beasts' features. In their quieter moments, he'd taken to eying Aleksandr's. And sure, Keiro balked when Toasty caught fire, but for something, or a few somethings to rend one near dead?

"Did you bury it?" Hopefully not, though he didn't expect anyone to keep a rotting creature of that size nearby for long. He wanted to see... The bloating of decay might have hidden the attacker's scents, but at the very least, he might have been able to glean lost hair, or observe the teeth marks. His old study might have saw some use.

"Er...do you have time to show me?" She did look as if she meant to leave.
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Posted by Azalie   
"I did. It didn't deserve being left out and I couldn't cart it back to Prasino.. for a few reasons."

For one, she couldn't lift it onto a wagon if she tried, let alone get it back off once she arrived. For another the beast was sacred in those parts, she'd be stuck there trying to explain and worrying the lot of them. Then there was the whole... not-quite-embargo on place. It wasn't forbidden to be there, but it was certainly suggested against... but people had relaxed with how long Meizarae had been silent.

"Over by that tree there, split and gnarled?" She gestured loosely down the road a ways to one of the only trees on her property (or at least the front half of it). The dirt had been pounded down, rhy grass starting to seed there as it did in the fall and winter months, encouraging deer to visit the property.

"A strange man was following the beast too... weird conversation, he claimed the victory... but I don't know, the extent of damage... from one man and some hunting dogs?"
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Posted by Ben   
He followed her gesture, eying the tree for a few moments before sniffing experimentally, from where he was. His sense was limited now compared to what it could be, when his nose was wet, low to the ground, at the end of a snout, not a human's face. Like when he tracked Sam, he'd have to bear being 'Xavier' for a time, should this job prove a challenge.

"Weird like...? I'm sorry- does Battaglia know about this? I might be tempted to say it's just some man with no respect for exotic wildlife, but at a time like this?" He shook his head.
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Posted by Azalie   
Azalie only shrugged. "It didn't yet seem like a matter for Battaglia. If it's a hunter with no respect then that's something the Doge takes care of, no?"

Even moreso if it was a member of a hunter's guild in Uhrwerkstadt. If it was from another region, then... well there were going to be political things about that. Battaglia might have to step in and settle it, might not. Again, Azalie didn't think further than she had to concerning these things.

"But I haven't told Handlesgilde about this either, I will after we follow the path a bit, maybe there's more to report on..." She shifted again. "I rather not go to them blowing whistles and crying wolf if it ends up being nothing"
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Posted by Ben   
"You're right." He agreed with some reluctance. Even so, what was rock lion doing out here, anyway? If it was someone's mount, as it had been hers, wouldn't something of that rarity have tabs on it?

At the very least, it was like a bad omen...next time he saw the Conductor for one reason or the other, he might run it by him. "You wanted me to follow it then? Well, backwards? Where it was?" He started forward, towards the tree, only to stop and look back at her.
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Posted by Azalie   
"So where he had come from was more this direction... do you have a mount? Prefer walking?" She shifted her weight to turn the raptor in the right direction. It had been calm and quiet this whole conversation, a far cry from some of the others who'd sooner yank their rider off by the leg as willingly as they'd tear into a rabbit.

"I have others, besides raptors. Some horses that can be managed by almost anyone, assuming nothing drastic happens."
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Posted by Ben   
"If you're selling horses, I might just take you up on that later. But it's better to track on foot." He reached up to tap his nose idly. "I'm already not at my best like this. Ought to stay as low to the ground as I can. Are you coming with me?"  He assumed this was a job she'd leave him to, but he didn't mind company if she didn't mind his sniffles and sneezes.

He'd start either way passing by the lion's grave first. He could smell it just fine beneath the dirt. Muddled heavily, but there all the same. It was strong to him, possibly vile...but if there was one blessing that came with being so sensitive to smell, it was that he didn't find many of them truly repulsive.

Then to where she stated, walking some ways before he hardly moved without a hint of direction at least.
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Posted by Azalie   
"Yeah, it was trying to lead me there, I'll go for as long as I can... schedule to keep and all." She would wait until he was done investigating the grave, not one to go visit it regularly. Too much work to do, and better ways to show remembrance. Including finishing its final task. She had given no attention to the rest of the encounter with the strange shadow man.

A man who pointed out that he could kill her, even. Really she should report that too. But he would return with a test? As an initiate or apprentice to his guild? It seemed like a non issue for now, as she was registered with Handlesgilde. He can't really go and change that without her... right?

Offline Azalie

  • Handlesgilde
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  • Posts: 4
Re: Following a Cold Trail
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 12:14:04 AM »
Posted by Ben
"Would you part with a horse?" Anything to keep the walk from being awkward. He spoke without looking at her, head tipped downwards, taking short strides here, there, possibly causing her to start and stop before he glanced back at her self-consciously. "Ah...one second."

Skald, did he hate 'Xavier', his nickname for the werewolfy form he could take. The last thing he wanted to do was pick a thousand burrs out of his ragged pelt, or appear any closer to the creatures of Coldhaven. Yes, he knew they were about the same. No, he wasn't going to get over it.

It look longer than his twenty-second record to adjust, facing away from her all the while, his grumbles tumbling into growls as he changed until what stood before her was a simple werewolf.

Well, he'd be less shy about putting his nose to the ground now at least, starting off in what was luckily the right direction, just guessing until he did catch onto something faint. Old blood...
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Posted by Azalie   
Azalie honestly never watched someone transform... never had to. So when she watched Ben become 'Xavier' she was cringing juuuuuuust a little bit. In some ways it was like watching a contortionist, a little bit of awe at the flexibility... and then they do something completely bonkers and every vein in your body screams in panic. It wasn't meant to do that, or at least your body knew it couldn't. She'd get over it though, taking note that he did in fact bring a hound as she had asked to. It was a little more, somehow, than she expected to come from the ad.

She was still straddled on the mourning dove gray raptor, stroking the feathers gently as this was definitely one of her more patient ones. "It's what I do," she said, though the topic was probably forgotten. She sold horses, so of course she could part with one. Or find him one that better suited him.

The starting and stopping was expected, making her wonder if maybe she should join him on foot. She mainly remained mounted for ease of getting away should they encounter something violent and dangerous... as despite her work ethic she was not exactly primed for running marathons. Strength and speed and endurance were not always hand in hand. They influence one another, sure, but training one did not automatically improve the other.
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Posted by Ben
"Mm. I don't know much about them, so bear with me." He didn't hesitate to speak, but the voice that came out of his sharp-toothed maw wasn't the same. Harsher on his 'r's, almost hissed on his 's', and seemingly coming from the back of his throat, rather than his words being formed on the tongue.

He shook out his pelt like a dog trying to dry itself and sneezed when loose fur attacked his nose. It had been some time...he just got used to the itching as of late.

He found something stronger, by the way his ears pricked up, and he took off at a trot, the attention required of a hunt distracting him for a moment.

"Oh, ah...those big horses. Draffs, are they quick? I need one that won't strain under me, and doesn't spook so often."
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Posted by Azalie   
She struggled to understand, but not so much that she couldn't communicate. It just meant she was slower at it. Or she was just thinking. When he got wind of something to carry them along she felt a twinge of excitement and apprehension, shifting her weight forward and squeezing her heels in to signal the bird to move with him.

If he looked at her while the creature was in motion he'd see that she looked as though she waddled from the hips down only-- her balance keen on these things unlike most people. In demonstrations she'd carry an egg on a spoon or water in a measuring cup.

When he asked the question she furrowed her brow. "Prey animals tend to be quick no matter their size. However they do struggle with staying collected and finding one that can do so without feeling awful to sit on is the real challenge. Drafts are bred to pull at a walk or trot, mostly. Doesn't mean they can't do more, but there are just better... designs."

She thought back to his bipedal form, his height and muscle structure and considered what his options were. "There are a classification of light drafts. Bit bulkier but still pretty trim. You've probably seen a lot of them in Inizio D'Oro."

She was speaking of the all black horses with excess fur, usually seen pulling fine carriages in pairs. "Around Uhrwerkstadt people seem to prefer an offshoot with more color options, though they sort of shot themselves in the foot with fad coat colors too, most of them are sort of cow spotted. They're very versatile, strong enough to host heavy drums for a march and such, while still being docile enough to practically babysit children."

She shrugged. "They tend to get used to things pretty quickly, but if you're looking for one that doesn't spook then you're looking for something that's been around the block already. You definitely don't want to be on a draft when it spooks. I'm surprised the Tapestry isn't filled with just pits from their jump-spin."
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Posted by Ben
"Oh! Those big ones, yeah, with the..." He paused to dip his head and practically shove his nose into the undergrowth, still for a moment, before snorting and sneezing and returning to the trail. "Socks?"

Feathers. He meant feathers...

"I take it you don't have one then? Sure, there's Inizio, but I'll admit I'd rather spend in Uhr. No worries, though~"

By now he had found a fairly tangible trail, though now and again he still scanned the brush for footprints or snapped twigs (many of which had been smeared away, carried off or simply buried under new growth).

However, the scent of the beast itself worried him. Was it really Keiro? What other rock lion would come out this far? He cast a decidedly nervous glance back at Azalie, by his short, sudden pant.

"This lion...it was one you recognized as an individual?" Surely, if it trusted her enough to try and lead her. "Who did you say you gave it to?"
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Posted by Azalie   
"I can get what I don't have, but yes I have one or two. I have a gypsy that's ready and a noble that's got some finishing needed. Given the season, I'd probably take a ride to the next few town events so he can get used to crowds and noises not typical of daily life. Both have been trail ridden enough to know that not every snapping branch is danger though."

She shrugged... talking shop was easiest for her and she was clearly well versed in what she did. It was sort of all she knew and did, really. When he changed the topic to the investigation she cut off her rambling.

"I can tell animals apart better than I ever have people, Aleksandr had named him Keiro. But... I hadn't worked with a lot of Rok Liontari, they're sort of sacred to a few tribes that roam through Prasino Kolaz. I managed to strike a deal for this one. He was a bit unfit for his natural duties. Perfect for what Aleksandr needed though."
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Posted by Ben
A wince on his doggish face looked more pained than concerned, and he stopped outright, shuffling his paws as he looked up at her.

"The Hero." He said, flat, licking his chops and looking towards Keiro's grave. "One second. Maybe I'll get some leads. Watch your ears."

He didn't like howling. There was no reason to. He wouldn't announce his presence on land that wasn't his own, and felt no desire to communicate with other beasts. He did have one use for his call, though this was a rather distinctive, long-distance bay than a romanticized wail. Tipping his head back, he called to his unreliable menaces, the onyx birds that dealt in teeth and blood.

Then fell silent and listened. There was no deep connection between him and the corvids, only the hope that they would hear a wolf and fancy some help at tearing into pelt. If they came, they'd lead him around, hopefully not to the body of one Toasty.
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Posted by Ben
Ben rolled a 1 out of 2!
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Posted by Ben   
Ben rolled a 4 out of 4!
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Posted by Azalie   

She blinked at the title Ben had given Aleksandr. The man would have hated to hear that... Asphodel and everyone else around him had been so insistent on it. The sword shoved into his hands on the premise of destiny and how it chose/fit him. She had upset and betrayed him once, she had only meant to try and get him to integrate better with his new life here... but it had gone tits up and pear shaped. It took him a bit to get over it, and maybe he never did, but they had been on okay terms the last they saw each other.

The raptor screeched in response, clicking a bit as it mixed between something expected of dragons and something more recognizable as a predatory bird's chatter. She pulled its head around to her and scratched the crest of its beak where bone turned to skin and feather. "Hey, quiet you."

Then an uneasy glance around, maroon eyes looking with the expectation of a pack filtering into their location. A friendly ambush, per se.
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Posted by Ben
"No wolves, I don't play nice with them. Sometimes the birds call me to things they need tearing into. It's grim, but I was hoping they'd take me around and we wouldn't find Toa- uh- Aleksandr."

If the man was dead he certainly wouldn't cry about it, but the idea of Alek rotting away somewhere, after such a miserable time did tug at his heartstrings.

"Keiro is dead. Where is Alek? I don't smell him... I haven't caught ash yet."

He moved, birds or not, with a renewed vigor, determined to find the scene of Keiro's attack.
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Posted by Azalie   
"Ash? Like someone burned him?" She didn't know a thing about him catching on fire when enraged. When he moved forward with determination she clicked her heels into the bird again to get it to follow suit, Azalie also concerned with his whereabouts and condition.

It was, after all, partially why she summoned help to track. She assumed Keiro might have been trying to lead her back to him, and she felt a bit guilty not going immediately after her encounter with the shadowy man with the single white eye. But, she told herself, if Keiro was in that poor of a condition... Aleksandr might not have made it by the time she got there anyway.

She gathered both reins into one hand and rubbed at her upper arm. "Not smelling him... that's a good sign right?"
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Posted by Ben
Ben rolled a 8 out of 10!
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Posted by Ben   
"Ash from him. On a trip we were attacked by a demon he took on, fire in his eyes-- quite literally. Even Keiro was wary at his rage...but you know, I don't really remember ash from  him, per se...maybe from what he burned, but all the ash I smell is from food. Or firewood." Disregarding the fact that his nose had classed Gawain's cooked stumps as 'food'...

"I don't know how to feel about it. I don't smell corpse, assuming nothing's gone and eaten what's left by now. And I'd be tempted to say better missing than dead, but... I don't know."
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Posted by Azalie   
"Hrm... well the guild will be looking for him, I suppose. Merchants have a pretty wide reach and can be more conspicuous with their search... a rumor is bound to bounce this way." The confidence was misleading, and only proven such with the betrayal of an addition: "Hopefully."

She wasn't sure what to say about the fire in his eyes and burning things around him. She had seen his ire, and wouldn't want to see it again, but it was not so bad as to burn anything.

"So no further then?"
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Posted by Ben
He stared off, considering her words and nodding reluctantly. "You can if you want. Your schedule needs attending, ah? I think I'll keep at it for awhile, see if the birds call me. I'll be back in town before dark, of course."

Was it something he ought to write to the Choir about? He didn't really know what significance Alek had in the guild other than something to do with the Prima herself. He was in another guild, wasn't he? But at the very least, a missing man in general might be notable, especially when that man was known to carry cursed items.

"Mind if I stop by to see that horse in the morning? I'm not much of a rider, but I imagine I'll need one soon. We'll talk price then."
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Posted by Azalie   
"Sounds fair, thank you for coming." She shifted her weight, signaling the turn to go back. The woods were a little less creepy with him escorting her. But the talk of corpses and carrion had her a little on edge. She'd have to touch base with her own guild about this soon, too, though it wouldn't doubt that it wouldn't change the fact that they'd be looking for him.

Unless he had more to say, she'd click heels in and this time let the raptor loose as far as its willingness to run. She meant to give it a stretch of the legs today, and the ride home would have to be it.

She still didn't have answers, but at least she had the assurance that she had tried. No guilt or curiosity to be left from it.

[End Scene]
[Request Completed - 100g/Horse]