The Brighton Incident

From Kingdoms of Kahara Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Title The Brighton Incident
GM Cai & Fritz
Characters Kalixi, Ulfarr, Tade, Viktor, Cathleen, Luthais, Lophostri, Noelani, Shan, Nikolai, Vaelyn.
Date of Log Mar 01 2020
Log Poster Kalixi
Summary Many adventurers attempt to solve the mystery of the flood of unrested spirits coming from Brighton.

With three hours shaved down to one thanks to the horses and cart belonging to Vaelyn and driven by Ulfarr, the former of the two has remained in town to tend to the sick and to also set up a temporary barrier to see if he can keep more ghosts from rushing into Ellischester should anything the mixed group do cause even more of a disturbance. This could not last forever, but for now it held. Luthais has sat himself up front with Ulfarr, and though the journey had been shortened, their evening start time was seeing the sunlight weakening. A smattering of supplies had been hoarded and brought, torches and rope, and whatever else others thought might be useful in such an unusual situation as this was. Spirits had littered the road, no less thick than they were in Ellischester, though the closer they got to Brighton the more their distinctness had faded and they seemed to amalgamate into a nebulous fog. The gate into town was just up ahead, though it was difficult to see in such thick miasma, and with a sudden jolt the cart stops as the horses refuse to go any further.

The sudden jolt of the cart wakes Kalixi, who'd been snoring enthusiastically away on the floor of the cart. "Eh!" Snort! "Avast!" Blink. " we here already?" She's actually sort of kind of dressed for the occasion, if you count wearing a stout sack with two holes stitched in it for trousers. With a small *CHFF* of a sneeze, she stands up and straightens out her bandoliers of assorted potions and notions, as well as her otter-sized sword belt with its otter-sized cutlasses astride her fuzzy mom hips.

With the horses coming to a stop, Ulfarr's expression eases into a simper and he clambers off. Giving the poor creatures a pat along the neck and feeding them both a pair of apples he'd brought along. "Poor things," he'd murmur, then call out a bit louder. "Can anyone through an impressive feat of eyesight or skill see through this fog?" He flashes a smile to Kalixi. "I'm sure ghosts are dead ahead."

Between the jolt of the cart and the colourful verbiage of the otter lady's reaction, the owl chap finds himself waking up as well, though the slowness of blinks calls into question how awake. "Ghosts usually are..."

"Well looks like we brought ourselves a comedian along. Any chance your jokes are bad enough to kill?" Noelani asks in reply to the pun. "As for seeing through dense fog, no."

Armed to the teeth and having recently been likened to a hedgehog with all the pointy, stabby weapons on her person Cathleen hadn't slept. Hadn't moved at all really, just sat in brooding silence, until that cart jostled to a stop and she unbent her limbs and clambered out for a stretch. "Fuck..." Did her hip just pop? Nah, it was a ghost. "Don't know if a torch would be a help or a hindrance, yeah? This shit is pea soup, oi! Kind of like that funky shit you make back at the den, yeah Kalixi?" The otter woman was offered a smirking point before Cathleen ambled up alongside Ulfarr. Not her most favorite person in the world, but hey. "Kay. Ladies first, so after you." Har, har.

Luthais was in a bit of a quiet mood, so the trip had been a quiet one as people napped or brooded - at least it let Ulfarr focus on driving the horses safely along the narrow road. A quiet breath escapes him, and a shiver runs through his body as he clambers down from the cart. It was perhaps not ideal, but a cigarette came out and was lit up, the smoke taken in for a soothing effect. He squints, shaking his head, "We'll need to stick close so we don't lose each other." The bright flicker of his cigarette makes barely a dent and he looks around but getting a sense of bearings at the moment seemed impossible, "Well... let's unload and figure out a direction to go in."

Every now and then, faint but indistinguishable whispers seem to brush against the ears like a passing breeze, though the air was completely still and save the noise of those present and the horses, everything was unsettlingly quiet.

Kalixi breaks into a guffaw, but it's not entirely for Catherine. It's mostly for Lophostri. "Haw! That be a good'n, mate," she rasps, and then hitches up her belt. "Ken ye eat yer weight in it like ye can me funky soup, gal?" She shoulders her way to the front, whiskers abristle. "...was the afternoon when we hauled to, now it's dark as balls to four bells, what be this jiggamaree?"

Ulfarr scoffed and steadied the cart. Reaching into the back he grabbed a torch. "Someone else who is willing to carry one should get it. I think it'd be easiest if we just walked in. As stupid as it sounds. If we wander too much in this fog we'll just get lost." He let out a sigh and headed back to the front. Flashing Cathleen a smile as he lighted the torch. "Make sure to stay behind me unless you want to be a lady."

The owl shakes his head slightly as he gets out of the cart. "Only the highest of comedians can literally slay with their barbs. I content myself with applying metallic instruments to wooden parts." Clearly the owl is no lady though, as he's not exactly rushing to take up the lead spot. Noelani grabs a torch, "Someone get some rope so we can find our way back. Walking into low visibility fog in the dark with torches is something ill advised without an escape route."

Cathleen sniffed and rubbed her leather-clad forearm under her nose. Classy. She looked to Noelani. "What's more, I say we take those ropes and tie ourselves together, eh? That way there's no losin' each other in this soupy shit. Lou and I can leave a trail of cigarette butts to find our way home." Her mouth slashed in a grin before her blue hues sliced down Kalixi's way and maybe she had some salty comeback, but one of those spooky whispers caressed her ear just so and she gave her head a hearty shake. "Fuckin' spooks. Fuck." It was another sniff, snort, and hocking of a loogie to the side before she continued, flashing Ulfarr a toothy grin. "Nah, bein' a fancy lady doesn't suit me much. We're walkin' in, I'm gettin' rope. Y'all hold onto it. Or loop it through a belt loop or some shit, unless ya' want to be wanderin' 'round in this murk. I'll take rear." She'd also take a torch for herself before knotting the end of a line of rope to her belt loop and offering up the rest.

"I say hold onto it, it'd be bad to be attached if we need mobility. Lou offers, reaching in to grab a small sack of supplies; a bit of lantern oil, some high proof alcohol(not for drinking!), some well used tools like a crowbar, a hammer, some heavy scissors, and some small provisions like hard bread and some water. Those, the water and bread, he passes along to each person, one skein and one small loaf to keep on their person. Even if they didn't need to eat or drink they could come in handy in one way or another. Cathleen's rope is taken hold of, "I don't know that cigarette butts will be the best trail to follow but..." He gives a helpless shrug towards Noelani, knowing well what sort of stubborn mood Cathleen was in, "Let Ulfarr take the lead for now."

" none of ye know how to do this," Kalixi rasps, the old crone among the young pups. She waddles to one end of the rope and fixes it to the wagon. "Loops. Loops. Like this. Eight arm lengths betwixt each, loop over here so ye can hold it and slip loose if ye need, there we be." Waddling down the line, she sets it up like we're climbing a glacier. "One tug means hold, two tugs means stop, three tugs means 'hell's bells, run for ye ass', aye? Come on now, me little Killick, if ye'll have me at yer back." Lou gets an effusive warble of thanks, and she tucks the bread and water... somewhere, how many pockets does she have??

"Better than a too short rope." Cathleen countered, but allowed Lou's one point of logic: no tying. Except now they were looping. "Shoutin' 'fuckin' run!' is way more efficient than three fuckin' tugs. Just sayin'." She drawled, but hey what did she know? This was a fine time to light up her own cigarette, letting it dangle between her lips while she maneuvered the skein and bread into the small, mangled pack she'd brought and meticulously crammed with a flask or two, another pack or cigs or three, more blades because one can never have too many accessories, and pilfered jerky (sorry Nicky). Lofting her torch high, she brandished it like a club. "Let's get gone then. Spooks wont settle themselves."

A soft, brief laugh comes from the knight. "I don't adventure much to be sure, I do other things. But I'll follow your lead." Once the ropes are in place with Kalixi's expertise he starts to head into Brighton. "Also better not to shout. That'd likely attract more ghosts or whatever else is here." Though, Ulfarr also never intended to run so why yell? Torch held up as he hoped for what light it made would break through the miasma. For the most part he could only trust the feel of cobble under his feet, knowing he was at least following the main road into the town proper. Lapsing into a silence.

The owl nods along with the rope related looping instructions and gets settled in, with provisions being stashed in some pockets. Hooray for trousers. "Adventures are easier when they deal with the tangible," Noelani says, but she has her torch in her hand.


The road opens up, finally freed from the oppression of a cliff on one side, and the corruption of Sagcoln on the other, veering slightly westward before straightening out to go in a true north direction. The further one travels along the road, the more healthy the foliage around becomes, going from ailing, browning and otherwise dire looking, to verdant and green as the season permits. There is a lack of branching paths along this road, save a small one that leads northeast, directing most travelers to Brighton.


Wide enough for a single cart, the road first curves up to a small field with a single mango tree left, though there is scattered evidence that once there was an abundance of trees here, old trunks and withered branches telling the tale. Further up the road there appears to be an old farmstead. The mango tree itself seems to be doing quite well despite the demise of it's brethren, or perhaps because of it, it's trunk and branches strong, and heavily laden with fruit and fronds, even late into the season. A once frequently traveled foot path winds towards a river.


The fog is thick indeed, for the group does not come across the gates of town, but rather a large mango tree flourishing amongst the broken and withered remains of other trees, and brown, withered grass. Strangely, it is not the season for mangos, yet even know the tree is heavily laden with fresh, ripe fruit that look just perfect for eating. The fog still lays heavily here.

In the scheme of things, Luthais has fallen in behind Cathleen, be that near the middle of the congo line or the back, and something seems to be bothering him. The chill of ghosts is strong, certainly, but no more strong than it had been earlier, and only somewhat so over the miasma that has taken hold of Ellischester, yet he shudders every so often, his face sinking into a bit of a grimace only briefly relieved by each pull on his cigarette.

"...aye, ye better run yer own way if yer gonna be hootin' like a wounded cow," Kalixi rasps, vaguely in Cathleen's direction through the thick fog. The mango tree gets a curious snuffle, but the ottermom doesn't move to touch it. Snuff. Snorfle. *CHFF* "It be foul out here, like a bad smoke. Mouldy tobacco," she whispers.

There was something not quite right about this but Ulfarr couldn't put his finger on it. He crouched down examining the ground around the mango tree. Giving the rope around him a single tug to let them know to slow. He spoke softly over his shoulder. "If we can figure out what's going on with this damn tree it may give us a hint as to what magic is exactly going on here."

The owl guy tilts his head slightly at the oddly fruitful tree. "Any ideas? Afraid agriculture was never exactly my field."

"Rule out natural growth and go from there," Noelani says. "There are always stories about strangely fruitful trees, but folklore will tell you anything from divine intervention to dragons to a boon from the old empire which never faded."

"Wouldn't know what direction was where in this murk." Cathleen slid her gaze askance. First left, then right, before declaring as they approached the tree. "Yep. Still ghosts heraaaay. What's this?" A mango tree! Now, was it suspicious that there were mangos growing at the tail-end of winter? Sure. The weather was always mild in comparison to some places, but full ripe mangos? Who could resist those? Kalixi, apparently. And Ulfarr. Go figure. Leaning back Cathleen's words for Luthais formed around her smoking cigarette. "Hemmin' and hawin' about the 'why' aside, how likely is it I'll get possessed for takin' some of them fruits?" What was Noelani saying about folklore and stories? Cathleen, apparently, only picked up on the 'boon' portion it. "They'd catch a mean value, tell you what. Give me the likelihood on a scale of one to ten. Ten bein' definitely possessed, one being not a'tall. Ya' know what, never mind, I'll gamble." She turned her gaze the elf's way, a grin at the ready that was immediately flipped upside down into a frown in quiet concern. "Oi, Luthais. Ya' alright then?"

"Boy, those mangos look tasty, don't they Cathleen. Just calling out your name, Cathleen. Don't you want to eat a nice, fresh, juicy mango which you'd never get in Ellischester these days? An almost distinct circle around the mango tree was greener - appropriate for the season - grass. It was healthy, unlike the scraggly grass that carpeted the rest of the field.

Luthais acknowledges Noelani with a nod, agreeing with her assessment of unusual trees like this, "Yeah... you don't find trees like this for now reason. There's always *something* behind it." A wane smile to Cathleen and he shakes his head in reassurance, "It's fine. It's just a bit of a headache at the back of my skull." It's fine. Don't worry. Go get that mango, gurl.

Kalixi snuffles around, more interested in the dead trees than the live ones. Now and again she takes the guide rope in her fangy jaws to free her paws to pick through the grass or nose under a flap of dried up bark. "I be more concerned with what be wrong with the rest of them. Why be that one live, and these be dead?" Pause. "Lovely, d'yer need a draught? I brung some of Fancy's." Snuff. Snorf.

Pressing down on the nice green grass it felt too good to be true in this miasmic hellscape. Reaching up he finally beat Cathleen to the punch and pulled off a mango. Giving it a good examination before peeling it open. In the messy way, that is jamming your big armored thumb in and getting juice all over it. "Maybe it's the bodies and souls of the dead making the tree so good."

The owl has a distinctly annoyed look at how that mango's been opened. "...That feels about as likely as a nice chair staying in good condition by keeping a pile of sacrificial kindling near by."

"If anything weird happens I won't hesitate to open fire on you!" Noelani says to those with the fruit, smiling rather cheerfully at this. "But don't worry, death by mango possession sounds sufficiently awkward I would at least tell a better story. I hope that's fine with all of you."

Cathleen never *would* get a mango in Ellischester! That meant she should take about ten, minimum. That was just math logic, that was. Luthais's reassurances earned him a blink, one brow lowering in disbelief, but who was she to pry? A flask was procured from somewhere in her leathers and offered to the elf with a shoving motion. "It'll bring the color back." And *that* was medicinal logic! She beat ya' to it, Kalixi! Cathleen was so fuckin' logical some days it hurt. "Only one way to find out." There were probably a thousand better ways but rash decision making was her strong suit. So was Cathleen going to do it? Hell yeah she was going to do it. She wasn't going to play at it like Ulfarr over there, manhandling perfectly good fruit. Please. "If I die, know I'm goin' to haunt all your asses. Just for fuckin' fun. But if I *live*? Dibs on the rest of these fruits." Spitting her cigarette out, Cathleen made a grab for one of those juicy, ripe, beckoning mangos to take a big ol' greedy bite out of its hide.

"I think i'd rather suffer a headache than drink that man's medicine." Lou replies with a sarcastic sense of cheer, the flask shoved into his hands a moment later, "Thanks Cathleen." It is mid-swig that he realizes that Cathy is eating the mystery fruit and his eyes widen, the poor flask tumbling from his grasp, "No no no. Cathy! Why did you do that?" Now Lou here? He believed in the sorts of things Noelani mentioned. He wasn't someone who was unreasonably suspicious, but he seemed the sort to have more... personal experiences with things other folk might believe more wildly about. His loop of the rope is dropped and he moves to Kalixi instead of Cathleen, "Oh Kali, what else did you bring with you?" He didn't know what yet, but clearly he believed they'd need *something* to counter that fateful fruit.

"Dead... the dead..." Kalixi makes a thoughtful noise, hopping awkwardly around gnarled roots. "Ye might not be wrong, missy, but not in the way ye think. The rest of these plants, they be sucked clean, like." Her claws scritch against the dry bark of a tree and tufts of dry grass. "Kindling, no, but a nice chair be dead already, mate. It be needin' no food, no sun. Little sun here, so the life hasta come from somewhere, aye?" The ottermom cocks a brow ridge at Cathleen's bravado in the face of cursed fruit. "...ohh, Jetsam's gonna be sore if girly gets herself cursed..." She trails off, rummaging around her assorted bandoliers and pockets. "Sage, willow, some copper scraps, pouches of yer ghost-shooin' herb, woundwort leaves, fleabane... what be ye lookin' for?"

With the mango opened up Ulfarr's nose wrinkled it was sickeningly sweet. Looking back at Cathleen as she just bit into the mango he threw his own at her. Before kneeling down to start digging up the dirt. It was time to investigate harder! So hard. He'd dig out a knife to better upturn the soil, before he reached out to slash it against the tree. Wondering if any of it's sap would give a better indication. "Lou. You know your special...elven magic. Is any of this familiar with you?"

The otter lady gets a nod "Yes, it's something of an inexact metaphor." "Does it at least taste good?" Noelani asks. "If we're going to just eat strange fruits we should know that much."

Yes. Cathleen did bite into the leathery hide of the mango just then, and spat it upon the ground in victory before chomping at the sweet meat therein, juices running down her chin. "I haff no wegwets..." She crooned, apparently blissed out by the sweet, sweet journey to flavortown she was taking. Population: Mangos. "And I don't feel like I'm dyin' which means..." A finger was thrust Ulfarr's way, "You." She chewed off another bite of fruit. "Dwop it. A swallow as Ulfarr chucked his mango her way. Thank you, I called dibs, and calm your tits Lou. I'm *fine.*" A pointed look at Lou, "It's *fine.*" A look to Noelani, "Actually it's fuckin' delicious. Not just fine. But it's all...not fine! Ah, Lou! Ya' dropped the fuckin' flask! That was some good shit too!" This was a nightmare! Good booze! Swiping it up from the ground she spun the clasp closed and gave it a shake to see what remained. "Now listen here, Lou, I only got two more of these to last so ya' can't be throwin' this shit around, yeah?!"

Luthais frowns down at Kalixi, "None of those." Luthais only gets off a small sigh, his gaze scrutinizing Cathleen for a moment as if he was looking for something in specific before Ulfarr calls his attention and he strides over to the man to kneel down before him, "Well mangos don't tend to be very magical or... carnivorous. So this is a bit... odd, it could have been cursed but it would have had to be recent. There weren't any cursed trees here ten years ago. Kalixi, you'd know better about the sap than I, can you look?"

"Yarrh," Kalixi rasps, drawing what would look like a little curved knife to a regular sized person but is a proper cutlass in her paws. She lumber-hops up to the healthy tree, and goes to lop off the end of a low hanging branch. If it cooperates, she will snuffle at and investigate the sap of this strange vampiric fruit tree."

Ulfarr nodded up to Luthais and as he dug through the dirt he did find something odd. Plucking out a few bone shards they had an eerie blue glow around their worn and broken edges. His eyes narrowed at them. "Someone is definitely here and causing this. Unless this tree uproots itself and kills things. Don't know if they're responsible for the ghosts or not though." He'd let out a sigh and hold up the bone shards if anyone else wanted to take a gander at them.

Lophostri blinks slowly a couple of times and eyes the bones curiously "Why would someone put bones there in the first place? And why are they glowing?" "Someone or some thing?" Noelani asks of Ulfarr. "That changes whether or not this is a case where someone may be reasoned with or if it is like dealing with an upset Sagcoln where we just have to mitigate and hope for the best."

Cathleen unscrewed the flask again and downed a belt. "Might as well finish it at this rate...lighten the load..." Some more Cathleen logic, that. She alternated between sweet bites of fruit and pulls of warm liquor, double-fisting like a champion, while the others mucked about in the dirt. They could have at it. Sap and dirt? Not her specialty. Instead she turned to regard the barren landscape beyond the one mango tree, take in the skeletal branches of the dying trees around it, while a nervous tension crept up her spine. Maybe it was the spooky surroundings, or Cathleen's own heightened sense of paranoia, but as she double-fisted her treats she couldn't shake the lingering sensation of a wrongness and quite literally shook her head to try and disrupt the feeling. A fleeting glance was thrown over her shoulder, an acknowledgement of those bones Ulfarr unearthed, before she looked ahead once more like a sentry keeping watch. Or looking for the reason for her itching unease. "Reason with? I don't think anyone or thing leavin' all these spooks restless can be reasoned with. Let's bag 'em. Vaelyn can fuss with 'em if we come up with nothin' else." Sliding her flask into her back pocket she smacked her sticky palms together - the mango eaten - before rubbing them against her thighs and patting herself down for a cigarette, ignoring the subtle tremble of her fingers. *Nerves.*

Having moved aside to allow Kalixi her observation and Ulfarr his space to dig, Luthais looks towards Cathleen again, watching her like a fretting parent. Perhaps on some level he saw himself in a parental role to the people of Ellischester, elder of the place that he was. He didn't see the trembling hands yet, as he turned back to look at the bones that the Knight had rummaged up from the earth, his face immediately squinting in a moment of pain, "We don't know-" He offers, sucking in a breath, "-If they're human or animal bones yet... do we?" Another breath is sucked in before he meanders over to Noelani to speak low to her, though Lophostri might hear if he's close enough, "These headaches are like the ones i get with bad visions - but nothing's coming through."

Kalixi crinkles her nose, ears and whiskers back. "It don't have to uproot itself, it be its own bait for its own trap, aye." She turns to Cathleen and bellows in her rusty-bucket voice. "Oi! Amateur! Get yeself back from the tree, if ye falls at its foot ye'll be its next meal, seems if, an' it's a poorer mission what loses crew, no matter how feckless they be." She hops in her clumsy lope over to Ulfarr. "Blue like the edge on this sap, yarh? Ought to be orange to red in here, instead it's deep like blood an' bits of blue and white, ye see?" This is punctuated by a sage nod. "Praps it be some one an' some thing, less this one tree et alla them souls wanderin about. AN STOP EATIN' THE RATARSED FRUIT, LUBBER. GET BACK FROM THE TREE, ALL OF YE." Holy crap, was that last bit loud. Like if someone yelled it from a church tower it would rival the bell loud. It seems she has deployed some kind of Mom Voice.

Ulfarr was still deep in thought. Not that it was helping. In the end he - no, he cringed because Kalixi was yelling so loudly. He got up and shifted away from the tree like a child that had been told off. He grumbled under his breath. Then finally looked to Noelani with a nod. "I hope it's someone rather then something, but given Kalixi's judgement I don't know anymore. Though, I don't expect Sagclon to be much of a gardener." He'd glance about once more. Eyes narrowing as he looked around the farm. "Aren't there houses nearby? I'm a lot better at searching those then...trees."

Lophostri does what he can to shuffle farther from the tree, not wanting to annoy anyone deploying a parental voice like that. "...No visions? Headaches are bad enough when there's no benefit."

"Eating strange fruits from magic sources is bad but what's done is done so we might as well see what comes of it since I get the sense sucking magic poison out of someone isn't viable in under thirty seconds," Noelani says as she looks on with the torch in her left hand but notably her right extended towards Cathleen as Noelani watches her.

Cathleen arched a haughty brow and turned at the waist to look back at Kalixi, sliding a cigarette free. "Amateur? Oi, fuck you and the horse ya' rode in on, Kalixi. Fuckin' amateur. I'll smack the taste out your...mouth..." She blinked then, the tops of those skeletal trees beyond Kalixi blurring and shifting in her vision. Cathleen squinted, bringing her lighter up to the smoke to set to her mouth, a distinct tremor in her grasp, and she sucked down a breath once she was lit. "The fuck..." She breathed, the exhale whorling around her visage. She blinked once more. Hard. Something was stirring in the gloom that only her eyes beheld. Something her vision tried and failed to track. It blurred with the treetops, the figure's movement disjointed and broken by lapses in her sight and a cerulean glow that fuzzed her vision. "Fuck me seein' this shit?" Unfortunately, no one *was* seeing this shit. No one but her. Cathleen took a step forwards away from the group, past Noelani's offered hand, and towards whatever it was that encroached before her footsteps froze and the color leeched from her facade. More figures oozed up from the mists and gloom, fractured into flickering imagery that she tried to blink clear. They were discolored, melted things reminiscent of corpses, but her eyes only beheld one in particular. His flesh puckered to his bones in a tight grip, seeming to shrink around his skeleton in a mummified look, and without realizing Cathleen had palmed one of her knives and her cigarette fell from parted lips, a high keening noise creeping up her throat and threatening to choke her.

A wan smile was all Luthais had for Lophostri, while under normal circumstances he would be a point of cheery light, with nothing but smiles for the newcomer, "I really want to claim they're just normal headaches, but there's a particular *feeling* with these ones. I just... I wish I could at least see *something* that might help." Quick though, as Cathleen's visions drew her past Noelani and saw a blade to Cathy's hand, his gaze focused on her, his teeth chewing into his lower lip, "What are you seeing, Cathy?" He had pitched his lyrical voice to a soft tone, meant to encourage her to speak to him and keep some focus on the people around her.

As the keening noise begins to rise in Cathleen's throat, the phantasmagoric fog around them all begins to shift and swirl, seeming to thicken around Cathleen in particular.

Kalixi puffs up like a very angry critter, baring her teeth and drawing both of her otter-sized cutlasses. "Whatever this be, it likely ain't a person, and it stinks unnatural. Don't touch the fruit, lest ye be struck mad. Can anyone see? Be it poison or magic? The fruit stinks like a pitcher plant, it begs to be et. Dangerous."

Ulfarr couldn't help the look he gave Cathleen. It was one of great disappointment, vague smug 'boy do I have something to tell Vaelyn' and I knew it. Though it didn't last long as his eyes narrowed the vague shapes of ghostly arms coming into view. Then soon enough they were gone. Considering the situation he knew it wasn't a smart plan to act like he didn't see it. Instead he'd focus and approach Cathleen to tentatively reach out to try and grab the ghost. He assumed that if it was really there, he'd get quite the chill down his spine.

Lophostri blinks a couple of times with a somewhat confused expression, and some fairly quiet muttering "is that?, it's gone. Are they? Something's there... maybe?"

"It is difficult to request I hit a target I can not see and you are not even sure it exists," Noelani observes as she keeps watching Cathleen.

"The dead." Luthais's voice had whispered to Cathleen through the mist and somehow she found the nerve to answer while she stared down her own personal hell. Not that it was a helpful response. They'd been surrounded by the dead for weeks now, but Cathleen saw to the fleshy corpses beyond. The undead all seemed to realize that in some capacity or another, Cathleen could see them and as one turned their blank, unnerving gazes towards her, their frames flickering in and out of focus and haloed by the same eerie blue light that the bones had been imbued with. That light had a source, the belly of the beast in the most literal of senses, but that looming monstrosity was largely ignored. Not when the vision of her undead husband cracked a yellow smile, something oozing from the corners of his leathery mouth, and took one step towards her. Cathleen startled. "You're not real..." It was a harsh whisper to no one. A wild stare was thrown around; moving treetops, the undead and their leisurely reaching out as though they were imploring, a spectral creature beyond whose faceless veneer glowed cerulean. And then *him.* Her undead husband reached at the same time as Ulfarr, the cold air disturbed by the latter and brushing her cheek, and Cathleen - self proclaimed biggest badass in the world - thought of nothing better to do than to turn tail and run, though it was *into* Brighton she ran, not away from. It was fight or flight and with this particular breed of nightmare she chose flight one hundred percent of the time, panting breaths repeating the mantra while her footfalls hammered, "Not real. Not real. Not real."

"OH BY SAGCOLN'S SANDY ARSEHOLE," Kalixi blurts, sheathing one cutlass and placing the other in her teeth. "Holl nee rooob," she growls through her little fangs, dropping to all fours to follow the fleeing, mango-gassed thug.

Ulfarr definitely felt the chill. Not that it mattered. Or did it? He wasn't so sure because in the end Cathleen had still ran off. "I hope you all follow." That's all he'd say before rushing after Kalixi so that the strain on the rope wouldn't be too bad.

Lophostri still doesn't look sure that he actually saw anything real, but he gets a better grip on that rope and trots after the others. Better than being dragged anyway.

"I hope you know what you're after," Noelani says. But she moves along with everyone else.


The road opens up, finally freed from the oppression of a cliff on one side, and the corruption of Sagcoln on the other, veering slightly westward before straightening out to go in a true north direction. The further one travels along the road, the more healthy the foliage around becomes, going from ailing, browning and otherwise dire looking, to verdant and green as the season permits. There is a lack of branching paths along this road, save a small one that leads northeast, directing most travelers to Brighton.


Well built, Brighton's southern gate and the walls surrounding the city have seen minimal wear over time despite not having been maintained for some time. There is, however, something unsettling about the way the heavy wooden, steel reinforced doors lay ajar, and the empty guard posts. Occasional, indistinct whispers pass through the area, or perhaps that's just a trick of the wind.


The well cobbled lane heads north from the gate, opening up to the city beyond. It's wide enough for several wagons or coaches, as well as pedestrians to travel, and lined with houses and shops which no longer house a single soul besides vermin. There is a well here which was clearly meant to serve this area, and the wooden lid meant to keep the water free of detritus is still intact, and the water within clean. Eerily, the evidence of every day life can be seen scattered around, as if the people who used them simply vanished; children's toys, buckets for water collection, clothing lines still hung with the tatters of clothing. While many doors don't seem to want to budge, there is one shop which can be entered, it's door hung open on loose hinges. Further up, Chesterel intersects with Hafston and Winrey.


Not one to be left behind, Luthais naturally follows the group, his grip white-knuckled tight on the rope. However, the further into town they get, the more his head seems to ache and occasionally his steps falter. It did not need to be said, but through gritted teeth he ushers out a surprisingly rough, considering the musical quality of his voice, utterance, "Something is *very* wrong here."

Kalixi stops, shaking her shaggy head and flexing her fore-and-hind paws as though she has an itch somewhere. Everywhere. She spits the cutlass, briefly, onto the ground. "What I be after," she rasps, "Be a lost little one. Feckless lubber aside, still young, still needs savin. We have all hands? Sound off, gentle-like, if ye pleases. Or if ye don't."

Ulfarr looked around with a sigh, brows furrowed. "I'd have to agree with Kalixi. Even if we fail it'd be better to fail without someone dead." He'd then sharply look to Noelani. "What do you think we should be looking for? Aside from Cathleen." He was curious as to that. This spooky scene wasn't quite his thing.

Lophostri comes to a stop with the others, somewhat in a skid. "Still here... wherever here is, anyway."

"I am here," Noelani says, her voice still lighthearted even now. "I was just thinking I would have her on her knees already if I weren't worried that would only put her in more danger!" After a moment she adds, "I would keep a watch for anything explicitly dangerous. The difficulty is we do not want to leave without her, so I would prioritize that as once we find her it will be easier to leave." Notably her right arm is still extended, as though she was wielding a prepared weapon.


Winrey road wends in charming, gentle curves through the shops and houses, eventually leading to the town square at it's northern tip. Back to the south it connects with Chesterel Lane, and Lavalter Street branches off from it heading west somewhere near the mid-point of the street. One of the more noticeable fixtures of Winrey is the tavern, it's sign, though faded and difficult to read, still hangs jutting out from the building, creaking on it's fixture whenever the wind passes through.


"I'm here." Luthais offers to Kalixi to affirm his presence, voice not only hoarse but now affected by a trembling of pain on both a spiritual and physical level. Clearly this place wasn't good for someone with the talent of divination, like Luthais. The fog remains thick, but the signs of Cathleen's path seem to be easier to follow - freshly broken glass and newly disturbed detritus mark her hasty travels like a storm beacon for ships at sea.

"All right, Lovely, you keep your sails as low as ye can, don't get borne off course. Hold that rope," Kalixi rasps, doing her best to be soothing despite the edge of this cursed place wearing away at everyone, an invisible sandstorm scouring away at the very spirit. "We find her, shake her loose of it if we can, find somewhar to hole up if we can't. Meanwhile, hold the ripe like yer soul banks on it, because it very well do." After a delicate sneeze, she tightens her loop, and waddles ahead, following the trail of mess.

Following along Ulfarr held onto the rope. "I think it's just Cathleen, because she ate the fruit," his brows furrowed as he looked around. Still trying to keep a look out for danger since Kalixi knows how to find lost kids right? "Maybe I should've set the tree on fire." He'd mutter under his breath. Lophostri tightens his grip on that rope and glances at Ulfarr "Might not be a bad plan, all things considered. But I claim no authority on such matters."

"Set it on fire then put it out with holy water," Noelani says. "You have to make the plan fitting and exciting if you want to do something like that."


The well cobbled lane heads north from the gate, opening up to the city beyond. It's wide enough for several wagons or coaches, as well as pedestrians to travel, and lined with houses and shops which no longer house a single soul besides vermin. There is a well here which was clearly meant to serve this area, and the wooden lid meant to keep the water free of detritus is still intact, and the water within clean. Eerily, the evidence of every day life can be seen scattered around, as if the people who used them simply vanished; children's toys, buckets for water collection, clothing lines still hung with the tatters of clothing. While many doors don't seem to want to budge, there is one shop which can be entered, it's door hung open on loose hinges. Further up, Chesterel intersects with Hafston and Winrey.


Winrey road wends in charming, gentle curves through the shops and houses, eventually leading to the town square at it's northern tip. Back to the south it connects with Chesterel Lane, and Lavalter Street branches off from it heading west somewhere near the mid-point of the street. One of the more noticeable fixtures of Winrey is the tavern, it's sign, though faded and difficult to read, still hangs jutting out from the building, creaking on it's fixture whenever the wind passes through.


A residential street, the houses that line it are short, squat and pressed in close to each other. The road is wide enough for a cart or two, seeming to indicate the houses here were likely shops in the past before being repurposed into homes. There is the unsettling sense of being watched, despite the town clearly being abandoned.


The alleyway stretches east to meet up with Brighton Square, claustrophobic though wide enough for two people to travel abreast if pressed shoulder to shoulder. The ground is littered with fallen bits of plaster and broken glass, accumulated over the years of abandonment that Brighton has seen.


For Cathleen, the urge to move forwards continues, but the fog and confusion has seen her loop around, making little progress that has allowed the others to catch up to her. She is still a bit ahead, but every now and then a clear look at her figure can be found in the shifting spiritual miasma that blankets the town. The pound of boots can be heard by both parties, Cathleen's for the larger group, and theirs for her. There is no element of surprise in this deadly silence.

Luthais offers no reply to Kalixi, merely grips the rope ever tighter. He has gained a tremble, his lips drawn tight.

The rhythm of Cathleen's booted footfalls was like the soundtrack to this particular action sequence. It was hard to say if she was fleeing so much so as chasing something now. That ideal of safety, of protection, as the specters urged her onwards. Hurry. They seemed to whisper. Don't stop. Cathleen reiterated those words to herself even when the sounds of chase echoed in her fogged mind. She wasn't nabbed yet though, not yet, so she tucked her chin and surged forwards, one fist still wrapped around the hilt of a blade. She was a fucking armory on her own and if those who gave chase got in her way - if Richard, her personal fucking demon - got in her way...well, then she'd go down swinging.

Kalixi sees Cathleen, in all of her frenzied glory, and falls quiet. She circles this way, and that way, whiskers bristling and ears held flat against her head. "It stinks here, it reeks, it be dead and fog and rot and bilge and..." Perk! One paw darts into the opposite forelimb pouch, drawing forth a once fancy but now battered packet. She opens the water given to her by Luthais, and pours in what's left of the pouch. The skein is capped and shaken vigorously. "When somethin' stinks, YE WARSH IT!" she cries, and proceeds to slosh it generously around the afflicted punk.

Ulfarr continues he doesn't slow. He'll run straight for Cathleen since he had a vague idea what to do. He couldn't risk Cathleen's episode getting worse so he went in to subdue her. Arms coming out to try and grapple her and hold her still so the discount holy water can hopefully do its job.

Lophostri keeps going with his somewhat limited part of the chase. Chasing people tormented by ghosts is sort outside his normal day to day existence. Well, it was anyway.

Noelani's arm is still outstretched, but she doesn't do anything with her right arm yet. "This will become a mess if you resist," she begins with a smile. "The only reason you are still able to stand right now is because I did not wish to impede your ability to defend against rogue spirits while you were separated from us. So how about you get to stay standing and calm down and we end this? I wish you no harm but it is not as though I can issue orders to those with me. I'm not paying them for this, after all."

Around Ulfarr and Cathleen, their clothing now selectively soaked in discount holy water, the miasmic fog has thinned some. It has not entirely dispersed, but it has made the pair of them more visible at a reasonably close distance. Too far ahead or behind anyone and that minor advantage would be lost. In fact, within town the fog is even thicker. It blocks all but the weakest of light, torches penetrating it little. It's impossible to tell how long it's been, how late it is, or even what time of day it is.

Luthais cringes, the thick part of his palm pressing to his forehead while the other hand remains steadfast, though trembling in it's grip upon the rope meant to keep them all from getting separated, "Hunger." He mutters to himself, "There's something here that's ravenously hungry."

Now, now Noelani, there was no need for thinly veiled threats! Why, Cathleen was just fleeing mango-induced horrors! And so what if those horrors just so happened to take the shape of her own worst nightmare? That just made her run faster! Regardless, Cathleen wasn't in the mood for petty banter. She wasn't in the mood for much except to just keep right on running. Kalixi flung what Cathleen oh-so-affectionately called Vaelyn's dragon's piss and it skimmed her booted heels, the think gloom around her relaxing, and the air stirred along her spine from Ulfarr's reaching grasp. She feigned to the right, his fingertips falling short, before course correcting. She wasn't nabbed yet, but it was close, and that proximity triggered a different response in the woman. Flight switched to fight and with a skidding pivot around she'd ideally use both her and Ulfarr's own momentum and closeness to her advantage as she slammed the sole of her unforgiving boot straight at his knee cap to ostensibly buckle his leg and take the whole crew down. Armor be damned!

"Arrh, black skies, she's caught us aback and she's gone all aflail," Kalixi barks in her rusty little voice, darting floppily to and fro, a bundle of steel cabling wrapped in several layers of fur cloak. "Gads damn it all. Try an' swing 'er about this way, aye?" She backs up a few steps, wiggles her bottom, and charges, clearly intending upon tackling the maddened woman to better administer the dragonbone draught.

Ulfarr is thankfully adequate. At maneuvering out of the way of the mango infected Cathleen. He does his best to grapple her again and toss her Kalixi's way so she can try again. He doesn't ant to use the Good Stuff just yet. Especially on Cathleen that's a bit of a waste...

Lophostri tightens his grip on that rope,while looking somewhat annoyed in a helpless sort of way. "...if people think it might help, I can make the ground around her a bit harder to walk about in... I won't if others don't like the idea though. Have a feeling that it will hinder our own efforts more than anything."

"If you're going to be so indecisive," Noelani says to Lophostri, "Then everyone else will just throw punches until someone goes down." Then she smiles, "So shut up and actually do something if you have a nonlethal option, okay?" She points at Cathleen and looks at her intently, but doesn't do more than that immediately.

"Now really isn't the time to look to anyone else for making decisions. She needs to be stopped." Luthais offers, more gentle than Noelani, "So do it. Just do it. We don't have time for this." Of that last part he seems certain, eyes taken of a certain unfocused look as he peers straight ahead, past Cathleen, "The longer we stay here the harder it will be to leave."

Ulfarr really shouldn't take it personally. Cathleen hadn't been attacking *him* per say. Not that anyone would put it past her though - she wasn't exactly a member of the Ulfarr Fan Club - but that could have more to do with his association with one haughty, uppity, no good, fancy-dressed, sick-boy back home at the Refuge. Ulfarr managed to get his mitts on her long enough to pass her off to Kalixi, but it was with a lunge and pivot Cathleen avoided the otter. Hunkering low in a defensive position she passed her knife from one palm to the next, her wild gaze unseeing the *actual* faces lurking in the fog. No, what she saw was the press of the undead, their whispers a nagging symphony in her ear, and each face of her party had taken the shape of her own worst nightmare. She spat on the ground. "Fuck you if ya' think you're takin' me back! I'll gut ya' like a gods-damned fish before that happens, yeah? Come on then. Come on!" This was totally fine, Cathleen having an imaginary conversation with whatever monster was in her head. Never mind the tremor in her grip, the real fear that slicked a cold sweat down her spine, and her baby blues darting from one member of her party to the next and then somewhere beyond. Battling inner demons was no fucking fun. Specters pressed in and that hungry thing Lou alluded to? Well, it was a shadow in the back of her mind too, a ghastly thing haloed in blue, its image flickering and overlapping with her skewed sight. Cathleen's upper lip lifted at the sound of Luthais's voice and he became the focus of her attention. *She needs to be stopped.* Well, damn if that wasn't a trigger! With the party gabbing away at what-ifs, Cathleen took advantage and turned tail and bolted deeper into the town.

"Hell's bells!" Back and forth, back and forth, Kalixi dives at the rampaging Cathleen and misses. "Aye, yon flyer, make it harder for the mad lass to escape! Handsomely now!" Her stubby claws scratch furrows in the dusty ground as she backs up and readies for another charge. "Be easier to tie up an octopus!" Again, banking on stubborn determination, the old ottermom tries to tackle Cathleen.

Ulfarr cries internally, thankfully nobody can see it. He really doesn't want to use this holy water on Cathleen, but this seems to be it. He'd follow Kalixi's suit and dive for Cathleen. "You stupid stupid-," his voice starts to crack as he reaches for the bottle to try and ram it down her throat. "You motherfuckin' shit-eared whore! Drink the damned HOLY PISS!" There's the northern brogue that was trained out of him that could only belong to a low class citizen...or someone who wasn't even that.

Lophostri nods slightly to himself and idly fingers the figurine around his neck while most of his attention is directed at the fracas, with a bit of muttering. More or less all of this is with the intention to tangle up the general fracas area.

"See, I believed in you and look what it's done!" Noelani says to Lophostri. Her right arm is still outstretched and pointing at Cathleen but with the entanglement she seems less intent on casting anything. "So can we try and have a discussion now or is this just going to look really awkward when we should be worried about being done here?"

The trio of Cathleen, Kalixi and Ulfarr are all ensnared in what seems to be cobblestone turned now into a thick, suckling mud that makes it difficult to pull limbs free and move towards solid ground. Cathleen will feel the effects of the holy water immediately upon swallowing, and the purity of the water is shocking, it's effects immediate. Reality will snap back to her dizzyingly, sickeningly and it will feel precisely like being in shock for at least a moment or two.

There is a worrying frown to Lou's features, and while attentions are focused on Cathleen, he looses his grip on the rope. Turning this way and that, his gaze is searching, and he steps just a bit away from the others, back towards where they had come from, his figure fading in the ethereal fog.

It was with a feral shout that Cathleen went down, the 'THUD' of her impact on the cobblestones a real bone-jarring experience, and she might have rolled over to make a swipe for Kalixi if Ulfarr wasn't shoving shit down her throat like the good, paying customer he ought to have been. Seriously, she should get paid for how she deep-throated that holy swill. Not that she went down easy though, mind. Limbs were flailing to try and connect with flesh (or plate mail) in a solid strike. Oh, she went down swinging alright, swinging and screaming raw and ragged bellows, at least until that purifying goodness swelled within her and her limbs went limp as reality snapped into place. Specters and nightmares evaporated from her vision, but it didn't bring any relief, instead causing sweat to freckle her brow, her complexion blanched to a sickly hue as she was haunted instead by what had been. She blinked rapidly, but whataya know? No time to try and make sense of this new, stark reality! Now she was in fucking mud. "The...fuck is this shit!" She rasped.

There is a sequence of events here. Kalixi has managed to tackle the rampaging rogue, and then, well. She guffaws, despite everything, at Ulfarr. "By Belphegor's mighty ballsack, lad! Remind me to buy ye a drink if we gets outta here, that was the best show I been in since afore I went grey." Pause. "Aye, it be already awk-- Lovely? Lovely? LOU! Where the hells be he..." Peeling herself off of Cathleen without so much as a how do you do, the ottermom finds herself sinking into the mud. "Quit squallin', girlie, ain't like ye be kissin the gunner's daughter. Woman up, an' quit eatin' traps afore ye end up tied to a barrel. Somebody toss the rope this way, and haul us to, aye?" The first thing she does is untie her sack-shorts, lest they become a bag of mud. The second thing she does is hand the rest of the bottle of discount holy water to Ulfarr, still chortling a little with glee at his outburst of bad language. The third thing she does is try to haul herself out of the mud, not entirely unlike a seal.

The knight's ears were red, whether it was from anger or shame it was hard to tell. But Cathleen had certainly tested him. He grumbled under his breath something like 'this is why I work alone'. Then began to try to wade out of the sudden deluge of mud. He'd give Lophostri quite a look. "A good skill, truly a benefit had it been sooner." It was a forced attempt to be polite. "I'll need more then a drink after this." He'd grimace. As with Lou wandering off that posed essentially the same problem all over again, just more tolerable he hoped.

Lophostri looks vaguely exasperated as he lets go of that figurine and gets the ground back to its normal state, and uses the now free hand to toss some of the rope in Kalixi's general direction.

"And we're down one again," Noelani says. "It would be awfully chaotic if I disappeared too!" Her demeanor is overly cheerful but she finally puts her right arm back to her side. "It is troublesome enough to hold my arm out, having to do it with a weapon in hand seems like it would be too much."

"A chara," Luthais' voice floats back, clear in the deathly silence of the place, "Please don't fret, i'm not far. I just-" He pauses, the fret of worry having rasped over the chords of his voice alongside the pain that still wracked his skull, "I don't think we're going to find it easy to escape. We've wasted too much time. It feels... thick, trying to go back." His hand extends back towards the group, a vague shape in the mist with the barest glint of the wedding ring on his finger.

Cathleen wheezed, looking consigned to just sinking in the muck because why not. She was fucking tired, like she'd run a gods damned marathon...hung over from a week long sleepless bender. Not a super fun experience. She slashed Ulfarr a side-eye and narrowed her lashes before rasping. "You call me a fuckin' whore?" A wet burp interrupted anything else she might have said, her pallor going from corpse-pale to a green that promised a real wild time. "Ima be sick." Thank whatever God was looking out that the mud solved itself because Cathleen promptly rolled over and heaved her guts out, mango and all. Emptied, she pushed herself up on unsteady arms and made a show of wiping off her hands, pulling out a cigarette with a huff, and lighting up with trembling fingers to stare into town. She blinked slow. While her reality was shook, imagery of what she saw was still stuck in her head. "Did anyone grab those bones?" She sniffed a loogie, hocked, and pulled a drag. "They were blue yeah? So was that...thing. There was a thing. With the dead." She squinted her eyes. "Floaty motherfucker. Blue face...well, not a face." She mused.

"Fer fuck's sake, Lovely, don't scare me like that," Kalixi grouses, not even turning around to look at horking Cathleen before offering a very solid couple of back-pats. "Yer all right, lass, aye, it was blue. In the plant and on the bones." After shaking herself off, vigorously, she picks up the rope, hands everybody a loop, and bellows into the mist, "GET BACK HERE, YE DAFT ELF." Ahem. "We be needin' all hands, -together-, to get outta this. All. Hands. Aye aye?"

Ulfarr's gaze also slashed to Cathleen. Like he was ready to pounce. Of course, he didn't. Instead he was secretively appreciative of Noelani and Kalixi and would go back to being a polite in control knight. "You must have been hearing ghosts," he'd coolly answer Cathleen. Before once more looking around. Rope secured. First thing he had to try and do was figure out a direction.

Lophostri takes a moment to make sure his part of the rope is still reasonably secure about his person. There's really not much to say here, some attention needs to be kept on figuring out where the wanderer wandered off.

"Yes, wandering off into thick fog is quite wise. At least I know what to charge if people want me to send others near this area," Noelani says, taking the rope.

Luthais truly had not wandered far, and reappeared just a moment later, "I.. don't think it's that i'm seeing nothing." Noelani, Kalixi and Cathleen at least would know better of his divination, which is what he spoke of now, "I'm seeing too much and it's hard to distinguish. I can't make any one thing out clearly. There are some feelings though, none of them good. Whatever it is doesn't want us to leave." A wane smile, but a shadow of his usual cheer was passed along to Noelani, "You don't trust I knew what I was doing?"

Cathleen's quiet was appreciation enough for Kalixi's solid ministrations. She sucked on her cigarette, nodding, then shaking her head. "No. No. *It.* It was blue, yeah? The big guy, least I think it was a big guy, but it don't matter 'cause I'm callin' him the big guy. Anyways. He fuckin' glowed blue, yeah? Like your plants and bones and shit. Floatin' around. Least I think he was floatin'." She was wandering back to the rope, mainly because Kalixi's hollering was clanging around in her head something fierce, to take whatever place she fell in line. "There were all these dead folk..." Was she having a conversation with herself? "A fuck ton of dead folk yeah? Was the big guy dead too I'm wonderin'? He looked more like a reaper. A fuckin' blue reaper." Seemed it didn't matter to her if she was or not. She'd call it thinking aloud if anyone asked. As for Ulfarr, well, she *had* been hearing ghosts and that fact was distracting enough that she didn't rise to his occasion. Had she gleaned anything from the spooks? They'd been incessant, pushy, urging her on and on, but in her terror did she glean *anything*? "Maybe reaper man is the one who doesn't want us gone. Probably wants to melt our flesh and suck us dry like those other corpses, eh? Yeah." Killing one cigarette she moved for another, falling silent.

"Well, we can either find our way out, find this blue monster an' wallop it, or wear out our floggin' welcome, methinks," Kalixi muses, counting all the heads she can see, following the rope knot by knot. "Ulfarr, me dear, how much water've we got left, an' do ye think anointing all assembled would be of any use? Repellent, like. Like rubbin' oneself with crushed fleabane to keep the critters from making comfort in me fur."

A certain expression washed over Ulfarr's face. One of defeat, then one of pure rage, that soon settled into serenity. He clasped his hands together and took a deep breath. "None." He then looked at Cathleen. The gaze said it all. She did it! That wench! Right there! It's her fault it's all gone! Damnable mango whore! Then he looked back to Kalixi with a smile. "Though if you have any powder left that would be good to apply to our weapons and such. Or even use as fuel for a special kind of torch." Though he had this distinct feeling he should look at Cathleen again with that spiteful gaze.

Lophostri quietly looks from one person talking to another. Eventually people will decide if the group presses on or leaves to regroup. Only the drumming of the fingers on his free wing against his leg suggest his general uncertainty about everything.

"It isn't about trust, it's about assessing risk," Noelani replies to Luthais. "And right now there's only a few people I can send out this way and expect to see again."

There is little but that wane smile to Noelani again. There was no need to argue her words at this point in time, as there were better things to be worrying about. He had fallen in line behind Noelani, at the rear of the group and the end of the rope, "Somehow we'll have to find a solution to this. Or a way out of here. Both... ideally."

Cathleen either didn't notice Ulfarr's spite, or didn't care. It was probably the latter. Granted, she seemed to been slowly withdrawing into herself, even her posture was huddling in with the slope of her shoulders and tuck of her chin, the woman's gaze darting from left to right like she expected something, or maybe someone, to come leaping out. The cigarette dangled from her lips while she drew from it, smoke filtering from the corners of her mouth to wreath her head and mingle with the thick fog. She sniffed. "Okay." She clapped her hands, hyping herself up. She jostled her shoulders some in some kind of nonverbal pep talk. Pull it the fuck together, Cathleen! Atta girl! "Let's just talk hypothetically yeah? Let's say the Big Guy is the one keepin' us here, yeah? Seems legit because what the fuck do the spooks care? They 'aint doin' shit. But the Big Guy glows blue. The bones glow blue, plants glow blue, like he fuckin' took a piss on everythin', markin' his territory. So he pissed all over shit, right? Cursed the fuckin' place because all the melted dead I saw?" She sucked a quick inhale off her cig, shaking her head, "They weren't sick or old or nothin'. Nothin' natural 'bout them dying. They looked like kids! Teenage, like. So, hear me out. what if the Big some clich poltergeist motherfucker with 'unfinished business' 'round here? BOOM. Whole place cursed. Dead. Literally."

Kalixi, on the other hand, isn't looking spiteful at all. "Narrh, put all the powder up in the bottle, and Count Fancy only give me the one parcel. Got the dregs left in the bottom, fer all that be worth." She idly scratches her leg with the opposite foot, and ambles over to reclaim her sack-drawers, shaking the now un-mudded dirt out of them. "Not likely we can burn it, but it might still be good fer a blade or two." After a thoughtful couple of sniffs, and ANOTHER headcount, she ensures the bottle of discount holy water is safe in Ulfarr's possession, and starts moving to follow the nearest wall, apparently disinterested in hypotheticals. "Lopho, me lad, be ready with that muddy stuff should anyone else go dancin' with madness. Hold fast, ye lot. Be ready fer hell or high water."

A dreadful sigh leaves Ulfarr and he takes the faux holy water. He tucks it away and trots along after Kalixi. Though, he does seem to take pity on Cathleen. "So I suppose you want us to find the 'glowing blue' and hit it?" A droll sarcasm had leaked into his voice, despite the fact Ulfarr really found it to be as good idea as any. "Or call the 'ghost' names to get it to come out." That was also more his speed.

Lophostri nods at the otter lady's suggestion. Everyone's apparently fine with potentially drowning in magical mud, so there's no real point to hesitating now. "Mud on standby."

"Let's continue," Noelani says simply.


A once picturesque lane to travel down, Bredensil remains lined with thick trunked black oak trees which now loom ominously, their branches reaching like skeletal arms and twining with each other. A mixture of semi-fresh, rotting and rotted acorns cover the ground, and the grass that pokes through while verdantly green is long and unruly. Two oaks in particular, standing to either side of the walkway right outside the heavy double doors leading into the dormitories which once housed students of the academy, are marked thickly with all manner of arcane symbols. The marking is so condensed it not only covers the trunks all around their circumference, but that it is also difficult to discern all of what the markings are, or what they were meant to do. There are hints, however, that it was done in haste.


As Kalixi leads the group along, following the walls of buildings as best she can, the road opens up and such a thing becomes more difficult to do consistently as breaks between houses and shops become more spacious, signaling a more affluently designed area of the town. Giant black oaks line the streets and seem like dark omens with their bare branches reaching outwards like grasping limbs. There is the stench of rot, and underfoot both the squelch and crunch of acorns which are in various stages of decay from seeming quite fresh, to wholly rotten. The fog seems a bit less thick here, the incoherent whispering hushing to a low murmur.

Luthais remains steadfast behind Noelani, occasionally looking back over his shoulder to where they came with a squint.

Cathleen slanted Ulfarr a wry grin. "I'll hit it. You can call it names since ya got the silver tongue for it." Cue a brow waggle for the knight. Seemed she didnt truly believe it was ghosts calling her a 'whore' after all! Sorry Ulfarr! "I dont fuckin know. Im just sayin I saw shit. It was weird. Dont know how the fuck its connected, but if ya see a floatin blue reaper man youre probably on the right path, yeah?" Tugged along by those moving before her she cast a look around and scrunched up her nose. "Smells like shit." Nope, nothing else of note in these here parts, apparently!

"...hrrm... shit an'..." Kalixi snuffles her way along, turning back once in a while to check the tautness of the guide ropes. "...some kinda..." Snuff snuff. "Carvins. Runes, methinks. What be this? -Whose- be this? Feels like the right path, though. Carefully, -very- carefully, she gives the nearest carved tree a hard, appraising squint. "Cathleen, could ye take a breath, aye? 'm tryin' to feel out this scratch and ye gull-chatter's cloggin' me earflaps." Carefully, carefully, she'll try to find something familiar in the carved symbols.

Trepidation filled Ulfarr as they went along. This had to be in the Top Ten list of things that didn't bode well for him. His eyes shifted about the once decadent streets. His eyes scanning the fog and he came to a stop. Lofting up his hand. "Hold." Apparently Cathleen just got ignored. "It's as Kali says and they only grow more numerous further on." He grimaced. Joining Kali in examining the symbols.

Lophostri looks nervous as he follows along with the others. Nervous and slightly confused. "Getting anything out of those markings?"

"You know someone meant to do something if they're going to the trouble to use runes," Noelani says.

Back and forth, Lou keeps looking behind, then ahead again, as if checking on somethign or other. It didn't seem to be in a way that was concerned they were being followed, or stalked, but something or other had him looking, though it could be as simple as the change in fog between where they had been and where they were now. The further the group moves ahead, the more evident it becomes that the road veers west into a courtyard for what looks like a dormitory building, and east off to some other part of the town. All along the left side of the road, and towards the dormitory gates.

"Better then sitting 'round in the fuckin' quiet scratchin' our heads..." Came Cathleen's defiant mutter before she sucked down a drag on the cigarette she was obviously still smoking. "Fondlin' up a fuckin' tree." She slashed a look at Kalixi and Ulfarr, the symbols meaning jack shit to her, and her brow furrowed. The runs were reminiscent of scars, gouged as they were into the surfaces they wounded, "Somethin' nasty too." Her regard shifted to Noelani. "Curse no doubt, yeah?" An obvious assumption given the state of Brighton. "Now, I don't know 'bout y'all, I can sling a curse or two, but there's no magical 'oomph' hoodoo shit with runes behind it. It's just a fuckin' word. I'm not a fuckin' sorceress or witch, but usin' some deductive reasonin' here could reaper man be a...oi! Lou, what you lookin' at that's got you so hot and bothered, eh?" The man had her looking back the way they'd come too, squinting into the fog. Surely not paranoid, no way!

Kalixi looks over her shoulder, back at Cathleen. Her earflaps are flat against her head, and her bristly-whiskered lips peel back from her strong jaw full of sharp teeth. This, and not the exaggerated 'booga booga' cheek-puffing, can only be what she looks like when she is -actually- upset. "By a brass monkey's balls, ye flag-wavin' chest-puffin' SEAGULL, COULD YE PULL YER HEAD OUTTA YER ARSE! Be. Facking. Serious FER HALF A BREATH." This is punctuated by a gape-mouthed HISSSS before she settles down and exhales loudly. "Can't make sense what this be. Be someone else's school, methinks. But there be less fog here, aye? Less creepin along me spine. Stay close, crew. Can any else of ye make sense of this?"

Ulfarr was in the same predicament as Kali. He couldn't make heads or tails of it either. He grumbled under his breath and turned his focus on Lou as well. He was blissfully good at drowning out things he didn't want to pay attention too. Like Cathleen. All he had to do was pretend she was some snooty elf noble. "What Mama Kali says, I'm not keen on going further lest we know what these symbols mean for us."

Lophostri gives his wings a sort of resigned half flap as he heads towards the runes "Well, might as well have a look since I'm here."

Noelani looks at the runes for a few moments, "It's hard to make it out," she says. "I see the way the runes are presented it's meant to be protective, and it looks similar to runes from the tradition of Brighton's magic academy. The problem is they look awful, like some made these in a hurry. Sloppy runes usually means sloppy magic, so this was probably desperate."

"It's nothing. It just doesn't *feel* as dense here." At least to him it didn't, who knew how anyone without a gift(curse some might say) for divination was interacting with this ghostly miasma around them. Cathleen is offered a smile, and he creeps up the rope chain to get closer to Cathleen, only letting go to skip the people who were ahead of him, and regaining a grip when he was with Cathleen, "Do you have another flask?" While Luthais did slice a look towards the runes, his magic wasn't based on symbology and incantation, so he had no insight to give.

Cathleen's blue stare drifted lazily back towards Kalixi, nonplussed by the otter's ire, and she rolled her cigarette from one side of her mouth to the other. "I'm not fuckin' talkin' to hear myself. I'm tellin' ya' what I fuckin' *saw* so we can fuckin' work with it and theorize." She sucked down a drag of smoke before spitting the killed butt aside and rummaging for another smoke. "And there ya' have it. Protection. Now why would folks be scribblin' protective runes? Probably because they got themselves a big, glowin', magicical reaper man sowing nasty shit is what." The fresh cig was set in the corner of her mouth and Luthais took up her line of sight. "Got two." This cracked a fleeting grin across her visage. That satchel she brought? Yeah it was covered in mud but by some grace of some God the contents within weren't so sullied. "How's the head, eh Lou?" She palmed off one of her flasks to him. "Keep that now. It'll cure what ails ya'." Well, wouldn't Nicky be pissed as all hell to learn she was sharing *his* sweet hooch with Luthais? Shh, no one tell. "Let's go back."

"Aye, we know, big blue glowin' magical reaper man ye've said it four floggin' times. Now if ye would tuck yer pride in a pocket an' allow me an' the rest of the crew who have risked themselves dearly and continue to do so to find the way for'ard. We can't go BACK, the fog be unnatural thick an' we will be lost because we were -too facking long- savin' YER mango stuffed arsehole." Kalixi rasps, plodding her way carefully along. ", somethin' went tits-up. Protection runes... thicker as we get this way. Thicker runes, thinner fog, aye?" She looks to the other magically inclined persons for confirmation.

Hearing what Noelani had to say, a touch of relief washed over Ulfarr. "That means someone had to have made it and maybe they know more. Hopefully." Cathleen was given a rather bland stare. "I don't think the person who ate the obviously suspicious mangos should be the one telling us what to do. I think everyone can agree on that." He'd look forwards then. Checking the rope with a tug. "We all ready to move -forward- then?"

Lophostri clicks his beak a couple times softly to himself before looking up from studying those runes "These are too well carved to have been done in a hurry. More a case of someone attempting changes to the traditional forms. Probably hoping to extend the protective range, but... it doesn't seem like it would protect from everything they wanted."

"These aren't in a hurry?" Noelani asks Lophostri. "Or are you suggesting whoever did this was trying to alter a standard rune for a non-standard use?" Her tone more serious now. "It at the least suggests protection was needed from something. Whether it be some apparition or a more typical threat I couldn't tell you, but typical threats require typical magic, I know that much."

Luthais takes the flask from Cathleen, but he doesn't take a drink from it at the moment, and rather tucks it away in his pocket for some other purpose later. Another cigarette is lit up while the others study the runes, "That would add up, naturally, if they're for protection as you believe." He shakes his head back to Cathleen, "It's almost overwhelming. I feel like i'm swimming in mud."

Cathleen arched a brow Kalixi's way. "My pride?" She snorted a humorless note. "Yeah. My mango stuffed ass that got some clue as to what's lurkin' 'round these parts." She stepped away from the rope then and closer to the tree, hunkering down to swipe a finger through the muck and rot. "I'm not arguin'." A shocking turn of events. "With either of ya'. So y'all go your way and I'll go mine and we'll reconvene with what we know. Think it's better that way since I'm such a chatty fuckin' Cathy." There was a smirk then while she squinted at the runes. "You have to be magical to get these scribbles to work?" Now her baby blues turned toward Lophostri. She didn't wait for his response, instead shoved her left sleeve up, gooped some muddy runes on an arm pock-marked and ruined with scarring, before standing. "C'mon then, Lou. Off we go. You're gonna be like my fuckin' compass." Hooking her right arm through the male's she made to haul him off into the ether.

Kalixi drops the rope and goes skidding across the rot-strewn ground, coming to a stop only once she gets in front of Luthais and Cathleen. Her paws are on the hilts of both cutlasses, and her sharp teeth are OUT. "YE WILL NOT take him, child! I risked this entire crew's safety to save yer life, do ye NOT make it a mistake. It be NOT a mistake I will make twice."

Ulfarr's brows twitch. "Okay, you belligerent cunt, I get the idea that you seem to think 'oh a super blue ghost reaper' is really important but it's still a ghost. You don't know shit besides it's blue and there. What does it mean? We don't know. But whoever did these fucking protective runes. Likely knows." He spits out and walks up his hands snapping out to just tear Luthais from Cathleen's grasp. With little care for either party. "Go kill yourself or let yourself go mad again if you want you mewling little shit, but you're not condemning anyone else to choices they didn't make."

Lophostri blinks a couple of times at the current fracas before throwing a very annoyed look at Cath's direction and some more of that muttering the preceeding sudden mud recently.

"I wish to make an inquiry," Noelani says, still sounding pleasant enough even with what has happened. "I understand what one wishes to accomplish by leaving, but Kalixi, what is your plan?" She pauses before explaining, "Is your goal simply to prevent someone from leaving, prevent her from taking someone with her, or is it to force her to continue and fight with you? Now that all of you are a bit restrained we might as well answer that question." While Lou is yanked away into Ulfarr's grasp, the ground turns muddy and thick once again thanks to Lophostri, leaving the quartet of Kalixi, Lou, Ulfarr and Cathleen cloyingly stuck for the moment. Lou himself just seems tired. He hurt from having too many things vying for attention in his head, and while some may think that a crazy making description of a man, that was simply his reality as man who could touch upon the other side of the veil, "My cigarette..." That really was all he could manage to care about in this exact moment, as the barely smoked stick of rolled tobacco tumbled into the liquified paving stones and fizzled out. He'd needed that.

Cathleen rolled her cigarette just so so that it angled up, smoke filtering up in lazy whorls. She eyed Kalixi, bored, and let Ulfarr snatch Luthais away with her own hands held up, palms out. "Look whose the big man now." She drawled, lolling her head Ulfarr's direction. The mud sucked and schluped at Cathleen's boots and ankles, gurgling. She rolled her regard back to Kalixi, Noelani's inquiries a mirror of her own, and one brow arched high. "Luthais is drownin'." She waited a beat. "We spread out, we get more information, we bring together what we have and we move forward. I'll leave marks to follow along the walls in town so hug the walls when ya' can. Look for landmarks when ya' can, eh? Unique shadows, debris on the ground because there's a ton of it, that'll also help guide ya'. But sittin' here blockin' my path is wastin' all our time. I'm not bein' stupid, I'm not bein' fuckin' spontaneous, but I'm also not yours to be orderin' 'round like ya' have the only ideas here."

"My plan is to go forward where the protection be growing greater, an' possibly find us the means ta clear through this cursed fog long enough to get outta here. My intention in this moment is to keep this girl from draggin' me girl's godpater into danger. He be a dear man, no' a compass, and ye didn see fit to share ye plan with us? Just expected us to let ye drag him away?" Kalixi growls, whiskered lips twitching, fur abristle, and tail lashing furiously, scraping furrows in the restraining mud. "That be it. I risked these folks once. None now. No more."

Ulfarr's arms wrapped around Lou, giving him a pat. "There's a high chance the further we go into the protective spell, the less miasma there'll be. It'll give Luthahis a reprieve. Rather then dragging him back into it!" He had done his best to speak through clenched teeth but it soon ended in a snarl. "As we've already discovered the further we go out the thicker the miasma is. You can barely tell where you're going. Markers won't help you, you can't make any that can be seen because we have no fucking holy water or dragon bone powder since it was mostly wasted on you. The least you can fucking do now is shut up. And not give us more work. We come across a bad guy. You hit it. Understand? If you don't get walking. We've wasted too much time." He let out a huff and glanced to Noelani. The mud was...well it was ignored as it clung up his sabatons and held him in place, he was too angry. Too riled. The complete lack of discipline was starting to hurt him to the core.

Lophostri sighs inwardly for a moment before glancing over at Noelani "Anyway, as I was saying before everyone got even more agitated... yes. These runes appear to have been deliberately altered from a standard form for some abnormal usage." And with that, his attention goes back to the group in the mud. Mud that is no longer being made mud. "Can we please keep these disruptions to a minimum? I'm not enjoying this place very much either, and it's something of an effort to keep restraining us all." He's definitely looking less together than he'd probably like. Adventuring shortly after a concussion probably does that.

"So if the plan is to leave, why do we need to go deeper in order to leave?" is Noelani's next question. "If we can agree upon leaving being the course of action what is the point of all of this mess?" her pleasant tone starting to sound annoyed. "I said the runes are protective, not a word about how the protection works and whether there is more protection if we go deeper in." Then the annoyed tone disappears and is replaced with the overly pleasant one again, "I would prefer it if the rest of you survived this and we can think about what all this means later."

Luthais was not swooning into Ulfarr's arms, but he just... seemed to accept it as his fate for the moment. At least it wasn't a certain rascal outsider in town with a love for snakes. Please, no kissy lips, Ulf, "We should bring more rope." He breathes, squirming just enough to get another cigarette out, and lighting it up to take a relieved inhale. Everyone had their vices, after all.

Cathleen snorted and shook her head. "Yeah, because I was goin' to up and get Lou brutalized. Why it's like ya' don't trust me, Kalixi." She batted her lashes. There was Kalixi and then...then there was Ulfarr. Strangely where Vaelyn rankled every nerve Cathleen had, Ulfarr didn't. Not anymore. It was like she knew a secret, a foul-mouthed secret, and somehow that made things A-OK. She could forgive his nastiness because, hey, she'd probably call him all those "adoring affections" someday too. "But hangin' near protection - if that's what it is - isn't goin' to solve whatever is lurkin' deeper." Released from the muck of Lophostri's making, she swiped her palms across her thighs, letting Noelani speak her logic with a mental fist pump for herself. Welcome to Team Cathleen Noelani! "Now, if you're tryin' to leave entirely, can we copy the runes and get them to someone who can give a closer look? Maybe Vaelyn and his special" Oof, just saying the words was a struggle! "With those and what I saw."

"Why ought I trust ye with Luthais? Yer actions would have left ye -dead here-, ingrate." Kalixi snaps, and then rounds on Noelani. "So what, ye think splitting up is a -good- idea? Because I disagree, whole heart. This place be full of traps and the unquiet dead. If we be going to venture out, we do it as a crew, not as a disjointed gaggle of seagulls shrieking only fer themselves."

The House Knight pinched the bridge of his nose. "Noelani." He says, "Did I not say the runes get more numerous deeper in? If someone made adjustments to the runes. They are likely further in as well and have protection. If you all want to leave when we finally have one good lead." He pointed down the street now. "You've got shit for brains. Once we investigate what's down there we can try to walk out, but I assure you it won't be easy. But we might have an easier time if we find who did the runes." His arm now dropped and he'd adjust his grip around Luathis before starting to meander down the street with him. He wasn't waiting for anybody. He was going to follow the runes.

Lophostri tries to generally deruffle hisself and get ready to move again "Much as I'd love to leave, those runes do seem like the closest thing to a lead we have right now."

"All I hear are people barking orders they have no standing to make, people not thinking, and people who insist their way is the only way and acting on it without the others," Noelani says. "If you want to leave, tell me how we do that. If you want to proceed, tell me how you plan to do that after depleting supplies as well as using effort to cast the spells which have been cast. Because right now no one has a cogent plan beyond perhaps their next immediate course of action, and I think it would be nice to hear one."

Alas, Luthais is too tired and disoriented anymore to really protest. So off he goes with Ulfarr's guidance while the arguing continues.

Cathleen threw back her head and howled with mirth when Ulfarr proceeded to follow in her proverbial footsteps and drag Luthais in the direction *he* deemed was best. Why! This was all so funny she buckled at the waist and rested her elbows on her thighs to wheeze. "Ah, ya' fuckin' hypocrite! Pissy as hell when I go one way, then doin' the exact same when it suits ya'!" She hooted. "Stress." She rolled her stare Kalixi's way, and smirked knowingly. "Really shows folk's true colors. Don't it?" Straightening, Cathleen sucked down a lungful of smoke and pocketed her hands. "Noelani's right." A shock! "I say we take what we know back to town, ask 'round," She already mentioned Vaelyn once, don't make her do it again! "Get together supplies we know we'll need more of for a more prolonged stay, discuss different strategies, and come back with clear heads. We're as fogged up as this fuckin' place is and it's really bringin' out the best in us, eh?" Cue a toothy grin, smoke seeping out from the corners of her mouth.

"Apparently it does," Kalixi rasps in response to Kathleen, and goes bounding off after the NEXT person who's dragging Luthais. "I already said, -Missy Liminal-, follow the runes and see if we can find anythin' that'll help us part the godsdamned fog and get out of here. If ye farkin' want me to tell ye what plan lies beyond that, ye'd have to tell me what to expect! The hells is wrong with people." She slogs herself through the rotting acorns and other debris, staunchly unwilling to be separated from the elf. "Could ye people stop pullin' the poor man to and fro?"

A snort came from Ulfarr much like a bull. He was stubborn and hotheaded and he still held Luathis close. Kalixi had said all that needed to be said and he just called over his shoulder. "A proper plan - if you need written instructions - can be made once we've found a resting spot through these runes." It sounded like sarcasm but it wasn't, the knight always brought paper and ink with him wherever he went. "How are you holding out Luathis? Do you even think you can make it back through the miasma?"

"I am going to find cleaning supplies," Noelani says, finally. "Be angry at me now if you need to, be thankful later should you need them. I might even get some water for you!" Then she stops and more seriously says the word, "Recall." And with that she is gone.

With a sigh, and another half resigned semi-flap of his wings, Lophostri trudges along after the nice otter lady.

With such a fractious confrontation between party members, it seemed like lines may have been drawn in one way or another. Noelani was getting out to potentially amass more supplies or whatever her plan might be, Cathleen seemed ready to go her own way and felt like the black sheep, while the other four were definitively heading towards the dormitories. Well, it would be four if Luthais didn't suddenly just vanish. ... Well, it's still four, just not the four everyone expected. Five, if Cathleen suddenly decides to keep along with Kalixi and the gang.

"Wow!" Comes the higher pitched, cheerfully grating voice of someone as of yet, only Cathleen had encountered, "You guys are really having a hard time, huh? It's ok! I sent your friend home for you." Why yes, you should thank him, his words seemed to imply. It was only moments before he became visible through the swirling fog, this mystery man in a big, floppy wizard's hat, with a long cloak over a tunic and pants. Notable were a few things: first, he had a gilded silver mask covering the upper half of his face, and closer inspection might see one realizing that his brilliantly ruby red eyes had the slitted pupils of a serpent. Second, there is an immense, ruby scaled snake draped across his shoulders, easily seven feet with a body as thick as our dear, muscular Ulfarr's arm. Lastly, in his grasp is a tall staff carved of some ancient looking wood, which splits at the top into several grasping limbs curled around a large gem, perfectly clear and ruby in shade as well. One might think there's a theme going on here.

Well wasn't it just super-fucking-duper but super-fucking-expected that lo' and behold! The Quest Giver Cometh. No, Cathleen hardly looked surprised that Tade decided to show up, draped in reptilian glory, but it was the nail in the ol' coffin on if she was going to continue with this rodeo. "Ya' know what? Y'all just keep on doin' you, and I'll do me and...fuck! Lou had my flask!" This was the second one she'd lost to Luthais! Gods above and below she wasn't going to survive this jaunt, not without copious amounts of alcohol, and that just really sealed the deal! "Yeah, I'm out." She snorted. "Can't be handlin' two-faced bullshit anyways. Y'all can deal with his crooked ass." With a sniff and a smoke, Cathleen shoved her hands in her pockets and ambled back the way they'd come into the murk of Brighton.

"What?" Kalixi sputters, as Noelani vanishes. "WHAT?" Kalixi hisses, as Luthais vanishes. When Tade makes his flamboyant arrival, and Cathleen her exit, the Vydra is temporarily reduced to wordless hiss-chatter-rumbles. Her entire coat bristles up, and she exhales through her sharp teeth. "...what, in the name of Sagcoln's rotten underbelly be goin' on here now? What'd ye do with Lou?" Olive-dark eyes fix on Tade. "' what in blazes be ye wearin?"

Much like Kalixi he was very 'what?'. But not a peep came out of him. Instead his expression flattened, brows furrowing down. Mind racing a mile per second, not that it showed unless you knew him like Count Rillek. This was past being angry at easily avoidable circumstances or defected personalities. His lips turned down harshly in a scowl. "Are you the one who made these marks?" He'd point at the protective runes scratched into the walls. After all, Kalixi had asked the most pressing question and the interrogation had to continue.

Lophostri also looks rather befuddled at everything. Though that may just be the big owl eyes. Blink. "...I think the others have covered the important questions for now."

Tade rocks up onto the balls of his feet, his smile wide. For a moment his eyes slide towards Cathleen's retreating form, and in the next he leans over and to the side, arms outstretched so that the very large snake can slither down to the ground from his shoulders and slither after Cathy. "Hmm?" He offers, each half syllable seeing his rise in pitch, "What am I wearing? Fashion! It's called fashion. Goodness, you're really cute when you're puffed up! Anyway, I sent 'Lou' back home - you know, where you came from? That shitty little city?" Up and up the pitch went, his smile as unwavering and potentially irritating as the upward ticks of his voice. Ruby eyes slice across to Ulfarr, and Tade hops and skips across the short distance between them to land up on his tippy toes, sticking his face close as he can to Ulfarr's. Behind the mask, his serpentine eyes flared with a wide sense of.. wonder? "You're cute too! People are so cute. But no, it wasn't meeeee." Yet, there seemed to be some sense he knew *something* at least.

Blink. Blink. Blink. Briefly, Kalixi develops a profound twitch in one lower eyelid. Is it the pitch of his voice? Is it the sudden scattering of the crew? Is it the big honking snake? Is it the -fashion-? Her nostrils flare, and seal shut, and flare again. She hisses, softly, when he gambols over to Ulfarr. "...all right, lad, what be ye smoking, and have ye got enough to go 'round?" There is another twitchy, eye-watery moment, before she heaves a vast sigh, rubbing her forehead until the fur there is spiked into deep furrows. "...if it weren't ye, then who were it?" Stayed perfectly still. Unblinking. Even as Tade came all the way up into his face - well - as much as someone that short could. The annoying lilts would have been enough to make Ulfarr want to absolutely deck the man, but he had a job to do and that trumped everything. "If you're truly here to help as well...How did you send our elf friend away? And who are you?"

One of those owlish eyes definitely twitches a few times during all the llting speech. The expression still somewhere between befuddled and generally incredulous. "Fashion? From where?"

"Not smoking anything, oh fluffy leader! And I haven't had a drink since last night." No telling hue of rose was splayed across his cheeks either. A merrily unrevealing smile is given to Kalixi, "I suppose we'll just have to go find out like you wanted to! Anyways, I can do plenty of fun things because i'm the greatest wizard in the entire world." Did you not know? How could you not know? Yes it's true. He IS the greatest wizard in the world, "Valland, o'feathered beauty." He calls across to Lophostri as he rocks back onto his heels and feels very free to take up Ulfarr's arm. Come along now, it's time to *explore*, Tade's body language screamed, "I teleported him away." *Of course*. "My name is Tade. Syvis went to go look after your friend annnnd..." A wiggling geture of his staff indicates his wrist, where a much smaller, iridescent scaled snake was curled, "This charming little thing is Lathai."

There are a few more eye-twitches. Kalixi doesn't seem to like this loquacious fellow handling Ulfarr. "...Tade, then," she rasps, tightly, tail as stiff as an upended anchor in the sand. "Hn-- ffh. Chhchh." Exhaaale. "All right. All... right. So. So. What can--" SHe pauses. "What would ye -like- to tell us about what goes on here, aye?"

The House Knight's eyes follow where Tade gestures, he's stiffer then stone as the other makes himself comfortable latching onto his arm. Though he doesn't seem as bothered by the contact, but it's hard to tell. He looks incredibly unhappy and irritated either way. "Will Syvis eat her?" He'd ask, vaguely hopeful. Because if that happened Cathleen would be gone then he'd have an excuse to beat Tade to death.

Lophostri perked up slightly at the otter lady's inquiry about what the new gent might be willing to be forthcoming about. He doesn't look to have any immediate inquiries past that though.

Kalixi is regarded with the most devious little eyes half closed, smile widening just a bit more sort of expression, "I'm willing to tell you that you should go have a little looksies. Over there!" A staff point directs them along the line of trees engraved with runes, at the end of which they'd find the gate leading onto dormitory grounds, if they moved along that way, "Oh well, no. Not this time." A vague shrug of shoulders were difficult to interpret either way - was he being apologetic? Who was to say. Smile. With that he aims to march forward, arm locked with Ulfarr's. Please move, man of stone. It would look terribly silly if Tade was stuck tugging hopelessly on Ulfarr's arm.

Kalixi gives the path along the trees a long, quiet, bemused look. "Arh, the way we be goin' afore we be shanghaed," she murmurs, perhaps more to herself than their new ringmaster. "We couldn't make a sense of the runes, as they be presented..." She says, this time a bit louder, skewing an olive-dark glance in Tade's direction. "Do ye suppose, peraps, that -ye- could decipher 'em for us?"

Unfortunately for Tade. Ulfarr has a penchant for being cruel in the smallest of ways. He stays stock still. As if he hadn't been listening, he even looks off. Letting Tade pull and tug on his arm. Then suddenly as if coming back to reality, though he'd always been there and hated it. Piped up, "Oh! Sorry. Yes, let's go. It wouldn't hurt to walk and talk." And with that he'd finally move. Allowing Tade to lead him onwards.

Lophostri does another of those half flappy shrugs of his, and gets ready to press on once more. "The modification of those runes is certainly interesting."

Ah yes, good. Thank you, Ulfarr, there had been nothing embarrassing at all about that little tug of war. Not a single thing. That smile never seemed to wear off, "Interesting how?" Chirps Tade towards Lophostri to prompt him to talk more, "I mean, I guess I could, but protection and stuff like that was really more my brother's strength. Oh, or my sister. Now *she* knew everything." There was a wistful sigh, "She was the best at everything. Too bad you can't ask her!" There is hardly half a breath before he chatters on in such a pleasantly annoying, and utterly unhelpful way, "Looks really sloppy though." The gate would be before them in no time, now that walking and talking had been initiated.

Kalixi makes a little gesture, as she pads along on the other side of Ulfarr, clearly ready to back the precious young knight up should things take a turn for the worse. The gesture is two of her clawed little fingers, held outward, and then raised. Up. Up. Then she plants her paws at her waist and plods along some more. "Really?" She asks, in her little raspy voice. "Smarter than ye? Surely ye can hazard what it -seems-, like, I mean I couldn't, I be just a bit of a hedge witch meself? Wouldn't be havin' the first idea about it." There's enough butter there to handle all the acorn-flour rolls in the Refuge, at this rate.

Ulfarr chimed in then. "Are you not the greatest wizard in the world Tade? Surely you can enlighten us? Please...even though I am not from that 'shitty little city' as you put it." Though, he'd quite agree. "I am still a mere human up from Valland myself." He'd smile at Tade. It looked the picture perfect of sincere and honest. Pleading even. But inside he was dead and empty. He hated this.

Lophostri makes an attempt at deruffling some of his feathers as they get going "Well, for one, they certainly look to have been carved by someone who knows enough about these matters to modify a standard rune, but not enough to get the full desired effect. Possibly the best someone could do on short notice? But they have decent quality on the carving work itself, so probably not done in too much of a hurry."

"She's the oldest of all of us. Of course she's smarter. She just... disappeared one day though." While there might seem a hint of nostalgia to his words, his expression remained dubiously happy, "Why don't you take another look?" Speaking of looks, one was shared with Ulfarr between them, and Kalixi alike. Passively and secretively elusive of a direct answer, "Don't sell yourselves too short!" Surely! Tade beamed with #pride, because this was a teachable moment, was it not? Here was he, the implied greatest (remaining, he thinks) of his sort! Just a person like you! But great, "Well anyone can modify a rune, can't they? Doesn't mean it'll do anything *good*. It takes *more* than that to change what you know!" A chirping little titter escapes him as he looks over his shoulder to Lophostri, "Isn't it funny, though, how sometimes the greatest things are discovered by *accident*?"

"...ooh, runes be beyond my ken, a fair sight. I only have the magic the earth chooses to give me," Kalixi rasps, expression a flinty glower except when Tade looks her way, then she folds it, like origami, into a gummy elderly-lady grin. It is not entirely unlike an old nursemaid beaming harmlessly at a student. "Accident? What manner of accident be ye referrin' to?"

Ulfarr hummed in...perhaps awe and he lapsed into a brief silence. As if pondering what Tade said, though it was more so he was pondering how difficult of a nut he was to crack. Not as easy to butter up as an elf noble, though they did like to rub it in. They were just never 'nice' not even like Tade. "You are right. It was quite an accident meeting you. And fortuitous that you took Lou to safety." That still remained to be seen. "And was this accident what led you here?"

Lophostri nods as he heads over to one of the runes for another inspection "Yes, anyone can make modifications, but the modifications seem quite deliberate. Strikes me as more likely the modification was in response to some other accident. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to the nature of it though. Speculations on top of speculations... about as productive as designing a good set of shelves, based off of a candle holder. You may get there in the end, but it's not a terribly practical approach."

There is a definite air of disappointment as Tade once again regards Ulfarr and Kalixi. His days as a teacher were over! Such fanciful days that had never been meant to last. Ulfarr gets a sympathetic pat on the arm - there there sir knight, the gesture seemed to say, "Accidents of discovery, of course!" A nod begins it's increasingly enthusiastic bobble as Lophostri earns his reply, "A response! Yes! There you go. Oop!" There they were, the gates of the academy's dormitory standing open in invitation, scratching marks over the posts forming the same sort of runs as the trees have. Never mind that though, Tade intended to just march them all right inside.

Before being marched straight inside, Kalixi comes to a stop, presumably to examine the marks on the posts. However, what she is actually doing is casting about to determine if the miasma is in fact growing thinner the closer they come to the academy. "What be this place, then?"

Ulfarr stared at Tade. His eyes blinking owlishly, almost glassy as he crushed his impulse to glare at Tade in pure spite. This bastard was smarter then he looked. And how convenient that their timing of walking up to the academy dormitry's would stop his questions from being answered. "Ahem," he'd start mildly, once more peered at Tade, chin dipping in. "Don't let our arrival at these doors deter you from answering, Tade. I am very curious as to this accident within your family. And why you're here." That part was said more bluntly.

Lophostri stops examining that rune to look towards the others, clearly interested in the nature of any related accidents. And where they are. Lots of answers potentially forthcoming. Possibly.

"Oh you mean Vefari? Well, I don't think it really was an accident she disappeared. I'm pretty sure she did it on purpose for some reason! Why, he seemed perfectly confident in it, "But no, I mean, I didn't come *here* for any particular reason except uhm." He looks Ulfarr up and down, "Well, I came to bring your master's friend to see him. Mara? You know Mara, i'm sure. Anyways, why'd you bring a guy like Lou here? Don't you know it's hard on people like him to be in the thick of this sort of stuff?" You know, *ghosts* and things. The Fog had indeed become thinner, though it never vanished entirely. Rather it thinned to a point and remained steadily so, the faded landscape beyond the gates evidence enough it hadn't completely gone.

"Who?" Kalixi says, almost reflexively. "Whose master's friend to see who now? Narh, we didn' know it would be bad fer Lou, because we didn' know what was going to be here. Ye see, we be here to find out where alla the ghosts have been comin' from, because they be all leakin' about the countryside, yarh. Was tryin' to come this way to ease the poor lad, aye?"

Ulfarr's whole body cringes in that moment. Back curling, his hand going to his gut. Why this? But soon enough he straightened up. "A lady from Valland in a merchant family. The Count has been purchasing their wares for a long time." A pause. "Clothes. That is. Nothing untoward." His eyes flickered to Kalixi, then back to Tade. "Where is she now? And what purpose did she find it relevant to travel with you?"

Lophostri continues to look interested as he absorbs the various things being discussed.

"I got my cape from them!" Well Mara couldn't be blamed for the entirety of the outfit at the very least, "Well that's really unfortunate huh? Ghosts are a really big bother." There was another attempt to tug everyone along. Places to be after all, "So this is the student's dormitory. A long time ago there was a school here, you know?" Winning smile is for you buddy. Take it in Ulfarr, because it comes with a wink, "She's with your Count, at that refuge place, and she only said she wanted to come see him. That's all she told me, and that she needed an escort because her fiance couldn't afford to miss his end of year classes." Why, he implied, wasn't he just the greatest and most best friend anyone could hope for?

Kalixi's brow ridges knit together so furiously they could metaphorically generate an afghan. "...aye, a school here... why d'ye want us to go inside? Shouldn't we be findin' out how to get back home? Can somebody fill this poor old hag in on what in all the hells be goin' on here, now? Why this dormitory, aye? Why -here-? It be full of ghosts and mists and trees that eat people."

Ulfarr's brows furrowed all the more and he grimaced. "Yes, yes. I suppose once we're done investigating here we head back." After all, he had to be by his Count's side, not just so he could help ensure any and all purchases went smoothly. But so he knew what was going on and not let his lord suffer socialization. Entering the dormitory, he begun to look around without another word. Opening desks and cupboards. Checking for signs of life and use for...anything!

Lophostri shrugs slightly and glances at Kalixi "Well, I get the feeling we're never going to get any answers until we go inside..."


One large central staircase is immediately in view stepping into the dormitories, leading up to a central landing that further splits up to the east and west wings of the upper floor, housing the students. Polished white marble makes up the floors, large square tiles mostly intact, however large cracks and chips marr some of them. This same marble makes up the stairs and landings, while polished mahogany wood constructs the railings, however there are broken and missing supports and even small sections where the railings have completely fallen away. To the east leads the kitchens, however fallen roofing and debris have blocked the way. To the west the dining hall remains accessible.


The hall stretches out to great lengths, lined with numbered doors each serving as a shared room between two students of the academy. Not all doors are accessible however, either blocked by debris, or simply refusing to budge when tried.


White plastered walls and a large window once would have benefitted in keeping the room light filled during the day to help the students who lived here in their studies. A pair of bunk beds is pressed against the wall near the window, while one desk is sat at the foot of them, and another to the wall opposite the bunks. A standard room. The window here is broken, and a jagged shard of glass pierces the withered hand of a former student, only the arm dangling on the outside. The corpse can't be seen below. A few things have stood the test of time, though only an exploration of the contents of the two storage chests beneath the beds could say if anything inside remains.


Partially Preserved Diary Many of the pages are ripped and torn, some stuck together and even more with all sorts of scribbles obscuring the text. However, there is a set of three pages describing, though incompletely for the chunk of paper torn free and missing from each one, some sort of ritual for summoning a sort of nature based, spiritual creature.

Ulfarr and Lophistri find little more than crumbling pieces of paper and the very obvious hand and arm pinned to the broken window. Kalixi, however, sniffs out something else - a book of some sort that seems preserved-ish. Tade, however is standing in the doorway, waiting while the others search about, "Oooh." Up and down went his vocals, nothing further but that sound of imitation awe coming from him.

Kalixi crinkles her nose at the dried up hand/arm/etc pinned to the broken window. "That be a very bad omen," she rasps, murmuring a little chittery prayer-sounding thing before joining the digging about. She looks at Tade, buttery benevolence all but run out, and just makes what can only be described as a "WTF" gesture. Then, she finds the book, and sidles off to the side to pick delicately through it. "...well, this looks to me like the young an' most probably departed lasses be trying to cobble together a... summonin." Again, she crinkles her nose, and *chffs* a delicate little sneeze. "...never goes well. Got a piece missin', though."

Ulfarr wasn't well-versed in girls rooms. How sad and indicative. He lets out a sigh, ignoring Tade. Now he focuses on something else, the two storage chests that were obviously there. He hauls them out from underneath the beds and checks over it. Hoping it's not booby trapped. He'd carefully try to...break it open. Speaking as he listened to Kalixi. "Piece missing of the book? And what kind of summoning?"

Lophostri doesn't look entirely comfortable in the girl's dorm. Even *if* everyone is probably long dead. He does look curious as to the nature of the summoning, but there's no sense in asking again this soon.

"Gosh, they really do tend to go wrong, don't they?" Tade wonders to the others, hands clasping behind his back, holding the staff nestled between his shoulder-blades. A solid whack to each chest earns Ulfarr entry to them each in turn, the wood around the latches cracking and releasing the lids to half crumble, half creak open. Ruby eyes blink towards Kalixi with the air of innocence soon drifitng across to the arm pinned to the broken window, "Well, looks like they were trying to escape to me!"

"If I be readin it right, me Killick, it be for summonin' a spirit of nature," Kalixi rasps, sparing Tade's wide-eyed innocent act a flinty little glance. Her lower eyelid flutters again, briefly. "Aye, it do seem that somethin' went wrong. Peraps they succeeded, brought forth somethin' hungry, like our mango tree, or peraps failed, and brought forth somethin' worse, an' the tree just be a... wossname, symptom of the bigger cause. Peraps that big blue jobber Cath was gabblin' about afore she went an mutinied."

Ulfarr let out a grunt as he listened. "Well, better not leave the book here." He turned the ring over in his hands as it glowed all the colours of the rainbow! He slowly rose and shoved it into a pocket. Then headed for the withered hand and carefully pulled it out along with the glass shard. Hoping it wouldn't fall apart entirely. He'd quickly pull out a long cloth from one of his many pockets and wrap it up. "We should probably head back now...and get a better plan for next time. Lophostri could you mark the door?"

Lophostri nods at the request and fishes out a decent blade from his pouch. Tempting though it is to make a nice artistic carving of some sort, he settles for a decent sized circle bisected at an angle. "Alright. Should be obvious we've given this room a once over now."

Tade watches them search and plan with the presumed wide-eyed wonder of a child seeing something amazing for the first time - a child watching ants in a little terrarium. He verily was not a child, and yet that's the feeling that seemed to be conveyed in any case, "You're all done for now?" The self-proclaimed greatest wizard ever backs out into the hallway a bit to let Lophostri pass and mark that door, his lanky body curling around the length of his staff.

Kalixi's fangs clack together, gently. " ye consider we be missing something then, wizard? The book be found, the chests be opened, the... poor remains be gathered up for burial. Have ye seen somethin, peraps?" She is as stocky as Tade is lanky, and as jaded as he seems childlike. "Speak up, if ye would, aye?"

Ulfarr's eyes darted about the room. Wondering if he missed something, but maybe that was something that could be solved later. They had found some good information. Even if it wasn't much. "Hm. We likely are, would be best to regroup in Ellichester soon."

Lophostri nods "Still, if there's something important close by, it might be worth some additional scrutiny before departure."

Tade's shoulders lifted with a shrug to Kalixi, "I dunno, did you? I'm just checking in on the plan here! This is your adventure, not mine." Allegedly his adventure involved being obtuse and vaguely in the way of things. One hand unfurls to gesture towards Ulfarr, "Well, he seems to think going back for a bit is a good idea. So is that what we're doing? Oooooor?" Ruby eyes swing from one person to the next, his expression remaining full of good cheer.

There goes the eyetwitch again. "We thought, peraps, there be a clue to how to -get- out of this place in here, on account of the miasma fog, which disorients and blocks the vision, aye? Also we have the trouble of yon Cathleen run mad an' mutinous. This be less an adventure an' more an escape, lad." Kalixi's olive-dark eyes are not terribly cheerful, actually sort of watery, as though she's quietly suppressing some manner of unpleasant commentary.

Ulfarr would nod to Kalixi, then looked back to Tade. "Say. Can you teleport us to where Lou is?" He for one, was not as forceful as before. As they truly didn't need to leave right now, just sometime soon. Hopefully.

Lophostri looks curiously in Tade's direction at that for a moment, before swiveling his head around as far as it can go one way, then the other. All rather slowly. Apparently no harm in giving the place another glance while everyone's deliberating things.

"Cathleen's fiiiine. She has Syvis with her, after all!" Encouragement, enthusiasm! Tade's gaze soon settles upon Ulfarr, his chin bobbing in a nod, "Sure I can! That's as easy as can be." Cheshire like, his smile pulls just that little bit wider, "Just tell me when you're ready!"

There's a bit more twitching, twitching of ears, eyelids, whiskers, and even a tail lash, before Kalixi can muster up a response. "As much as I would like to haul out of here as though our tails were afire, if we could find a way to make a safe exit, without reliance upon the kindness of strangers," emphasis on the word strange, "It would be, valuable information for any body that finds themselves a trapped here, aye?"

Ulfarr let out a sigh and smiled weakly. "The way we can get out is easy. If we had enough of the dragon bone powder we could've made a torch to dissipate the mist. But it all got used up into - uh - water." He paused. "Tade is also the quickest way we can find Lou and make sure he's safe. Even if there is a risk. Better we get trapped together with Lou then him being alone."

Lophostri shrugs slightly "Well, whatever we do, I'm fairly confident there's nothing left of immeidate interest in this room. So unless we're planning on having tea, it may be time for a change of venue."

Tade's hands sneaky up to squish up his own cheeks as he look like he might swoon at Ulfarr, the rest of his body wiggling momentarily though in no such attractive way. It really looked like an awkward strip-tease against his staff, without the stripping, or the teasing, "Isn't he just the most considerate boy?"

Kalixi heaves a long, quiet sigh. "I be sorry, then, all of ye, for leaving us without the path away. I thought, peraps, the Cathleen would have been, well." Chuff. "I thought it woulda gone different, at the very least. If this go wrong, well. I take the responsibility." She folds her stubby paws across her barrel chest, and gives Tade's wiggling the most suffering of long suffering looks. "If ye would be so kind, then? To send us to where Luthais be?"

Ulfarr does his best to not look at Tade and his eerie wiggling. Just keeping his eyes anywhere else. "And if we bring rope and stakes we can use those to chart our way in. As Luathis likely thought," he let out a sigh, "Both ways would help ensure we can go in and out." Though with Kalixi's agreement, he was now sadly forced to look at Tade and smile.

Lophostri looks somewhat weary "Sounds about as good a plan as we can hope for at the moment, anyway."

The wiggling ceases so that instead Tade can gesture for the whole gang to gather in close. Once everyone had complied, s ruby glow begins to pulsate from the top of his staff, shrouding he and the others in a blanket of red light. It is only a moment, then the gut wrenching feeling settles in as reality seems to shift around them, becoming one big, incomprehensible blur. It suddenly stops and they all find themselves in...

...Lou's bedroom, at the Chester Inn. Lou? Well he's kind of in bed, half hanging over the side of it and vomiting. Griffith - one of the Chester's boy's is sat there on the side of the bed with him, patting his back every once in a while. Conor is at the door playing guard - a door which has seen better days and is clearly in need of repair. Someone who may not be present got a bit too kicky with it.

"Augh. Well, that be, ruddy. Awful." Kalixi shakes her head to clear it, and then waddles over to Lou's side. "Lovely... I be so... so sorry. Somebody fetch us a damp cloth, please?" Her ears and whiskers droop. "It be my fault, dearest. I shouldn'ta used the dragon dust, it could have gotten ye out sooner..."

It was all thoroughly terrible and nauseating. Though when they'd arrived Ulfarr merely swayed ever so slightly, looking more pale then usual. But he doesn't let his guard down, his eyes make a sweep of the room. Over Lou and his dedicated boy band. Then to Tade. "How fortunate you can be trusted." Deep down he was still wishing he could beat the tar out of Tade.

Blink. Blinkblink. A bit of owlish head swiveling to take in the new room, too. "...No offense, but I don't think this mode of transit will ever overtake a good carriage in popularity... Erm. Where *are* we? Apart from a room that could use some door repairs, that is."

Lou shakes his head at Kalixi but words fail him before he's hacking and coughing again, bringing up only bile and drool by now, "I shouldn't have gone in the first place." He rasps after a few heaves, the solid thump of Griff's hand on Lou's back half drowning out the words.

Tade rounds on Ulfarr, smiling, "In Lou's bedroom in town!" He chirps back to Lophostri before his attention returns to Ulfarr, ruby eyes narrowed with cat-like mischief, "That really IS fortunate, isn't it?"

"Narh, narh, how was ye to know, Lovely?" Kalixi soothes, pawing around in her pouches until she finds a minty smelling sachet. "Oi oi, come on, lads, a damp cloth, if one of ye pleases, and some hot water? Be I speakin' a language any of ye understand, or do I need to start wavin' flags!" Her tail is lashing, and her fangs scissor together with harsh, scissory scraping sounds. She's mostly yelling at Lou's crew, but it's likely everybody at this point is going to be hauled in to the aid brigade.

Ulfarr kept his eyes on Tade for a moment longer. Before looking to Lou. It really doesn't take long for him to bend to Kalixi's will. He walks off, he may barely know the place. But he knows logically how he's going to find cloth and water. Soon enough by the miracle of asking and seeing he comes back with with a small basin filled with water and a clean cloth for Kalixi to use. Setting it down beside her wordlessly. Then his focus turned back to Tade. " do you know Mara?"

Things seem well enough in hand for the moment, so while Lophostri doesn't exactly wander off, he doesn't feel too bad about giving the broken door a looking over. At least as much as one can without annoying the local guards.

It really is good Ulfarr can move to action, because Conor and Griffith seem a bit dumbstruck with all this teleporting in and out of the place. An apologetic murmur is thrown Kali's way from Griffith as he holds Lou up. The poor elf just seems completely worn out, though after experiencing a Tade brand teleport, one might assume the puking is from that.

The staff Tade holds is casually leaned against a nearby wardrobe, his hands clasping instead behind his back and beneath the cape. As Tade regards Ulfarr again, his head tilts aside as if it was a curious question Ulfarr was asking him, "Well, because I pop in for clothes any time i'm in the area!"

"Thank ye, darlin," Kalixi rasps, finding solace in puttering around, soaking the cloth, cleaning Luthais up. "Be glad someone in this place has got ears that work, a brain betwixt, and heart besides. Me poor dear, flush with misery, choked with dark. Ye'll be okay, I've got ye now, aye? All right, there we go, clean clean, let us get ye sittin' up so yer guts don't strangle ye." It doesn't matter if she has to clamber herself up onto the bed, she'll work to get the elf upright and then reach to dab his forehead with the cool, damp cloth. He has about 95% of her attention, the other 5% gives an occasional stinky glare at the back of Tade's head.

"Uhuh," Ulfarr doesn't believe it. Though he nods. "So you say she's gone to meet Count Rillek?" He asks, before moving along to examine the door with Lophostri. "Who broke it?" He said aloud to nobody in particular. Though he hoped someone would answer.

Lophostri shrugs at the apparently rhetorical question "Someone with a grudge against lumber? Though either way I'm willing to get it fixed, if time allows. Be nice to do something more directly useful than making educated guesses about runes on trees."

The boys find the hinges loose and signs of stress damage in the wood of both door and frame, "Cathleen." Croaks Lou in response to Ulfarr's question, shuffling, with Kalixi's help, into a sitting up position, his head lolling back against a pillow. His hand seeks Kalixi's paw, as if to give her comfort in return.

"Yup. Took her right to him at that place with the soup! It tasted a bit ashy." That would be the Nicholas special, soup with cigarette ash garnish, "Do you guys flavour your soup with ash? Is that a thing you do here?"

"Awrf, ye give me a scare, there," Kalixi chides the elf, gently, almost as if to cover up her unease, and takes his hand in her rough little paw, using the other to adjust the pillow for optimal support. She squeezes her eyes shut, briefly, at mention of Cathleen's name, but they snap open when there's a mention of ash in the soup. "...ashy... soup... arhhh me sandy bung, no, no not on purpose, and charcoal only if there's been bad water." Grumble mutter squeak. Growl chitter hiss Cathleen.

Another long sigh and straightens up. "It would be my lord and I's pleasure to help pay for the cost of repairing the door. So do whatever you need to do Lophostri." He'd then turn to Kalixi and Lou. Giving them both a bow of his head. "I will take my leave, I must go back to the Refuge." Lophostri nods at that and considers the damage the door has "Really, just replacing the whole thing would be better at this point... but if we can find a few planks to get the frame a bit more sturdy... could use a metalworker to fix those hinges. A few bits of wood to patch up the door itself... If we're in a hurry I can just magic it a bit, but it's not exactly great for long term, and doors do tend to be there for a good while." Blinkblink "Ash soup? How would that ever catch on?"

Lou gives Kali's paw a little squeeze, "I'm glad you're back safely." Lou murmurs to the ottermom, closing his eyes in the same moment, "Go on back with him. I want to sleep for a bit."

Don't you mind Tade, friends. He's found himself a nice bottle of moonshine to tuck under his arm to take with he and his staff back downstairs. Watch out! Super cool wizard, potential best friend coming through, thank you!

" gads, I want to punch that boy so hard in his arsehole that his spine goes shooting out his ridiculous hat," Kalixi finally exhales, like she's been holding THAT one in since it'd become apparent that they'd need him to escape Brighton. And just like that, her tone shifts back to ubermom. "...all right, Lovely. I'll leave a mint and ginger tea downstairs with the boys and if they don't give it to ye I may have to bite one or two of them, on account of how senile I be." It is with clear reluctance that she leaves the elf to follow Ulfarr, but when a man's got to sleep, a man's got to sleep.

As Tade left Ulfarr gave him a curt wave and a polite, 'Thank you' in passing. "Rest well, Luathis." With that he'd turn on his heel and head out, back to where he should be! And to make up any excuse Vaelyn needed to escape any given social situation or commitment.

Lophostri stretches a bit as he finishes examining the door and goes to follow the others "I'll try to get back to fix that door when people don't need the quiet for sleeping."

Harbour of Refuge Atria 08:52 PM 05 April 1488


Wide and spacious, the soup kitchen takes up the lower floors of what used to be two separate residences. The brickwork inside is partially exposed, though not for any aesthetic reasons, and the evidence of reinforcements and repairs over the years can be seen all over in newer plaster work as well as supportive beams made of younger, sturdier wood, while others show their age and the wear and tear of a harsh climate. The back wall has been taken up by a large hearth with racks for roasting, hooks for pots and a clay oven for baking bread. Further along the back wall is a window which peeks out at the distillery equipment kept in a small walled yard accessible through a nearby door, as well as cupboards for storing dishes, tools and dry goods. Long, sideboard like tables make up makeshift counters for serving, daily lined with large pots filled with whatever the day's fare may be, doled out by volunteers. Much of the space is taken up by mismatched tables and chairs, with similarly mismatched table cloths for the patrons to sit at. Light filters in through two windows at the front, to the left side of the door, and in the darker hours, comes from above from lanterns hung on sturdy chains. What hints of decoration there is scattered about are largely nautical in theme, prized ship parts salvaged from shore as well as strings of collected shells, polished to a sheen. In the far, back left corner is a stairway leading upwards to a landing with a door, the upper floor serving as the proprietor's residence.


It's relatively quiet at the refuge, though it's a bit of mess after service that's not yet been cleaned up. Ashy bits of cigarette droppings litter the serving counters, and the slop of soup from an indelicate hand doing the serving is mixed amongst it. Nicholas, however, is nowhere to be found. Neither is the Lady Mara, leading to the possibility that the first was accompanying the second and somehow the two groups just didn't cross paths along the way. Vaelyn was, at this very moment, slowly making his way back downstairs from the second floor, lips pursed in disappointment.

Kalixi heaves a sigh that could be heard from out at sea, no doubt, and lumber-hops her way to behind her kitchen counter, unashamedly pitching her adventuring clothes out the back door and tying her apron on before giving her hands and face a very, very good wash in the sink. Grumble mutter chitter "SMOKING IN THE KITCHEN" growl hiss squeak "BLOODY KIDS" meep huff sigh. She ladles herself a mug of the house special before setting to cleaning up.

Upon seeing Vaelyn's expression, Ulfarr grimaced and he swept towards him. Standing by the end of the stairs. "Count Rillek. Do you need anything?" Lophostri doesn't particularly look any less lost than he has since being concussed, but makes his way over to the otter all the same. "Anything you need a hand with?"

A hand reached out to steady against Ulfarr's arm as Vaelyn took the last few steps, "I need my medication." He huffs, slicing a glance towards Kalixi grumbling in the kitchen, "Her son saw fit to take it as leverage. My book-" The Holy Book, that is, "As well." A slight sniff, and his dour attitude is no more subdued than it was a moment earlier, "You're all back much sooner than expected, though."

Ulfarr's expression lowered into a glower. How he hated Ellichester. "And did Mara come to see you?" He'd ask, heading towards the kitchen to prepare the medicine. As was his habit to always keep a vial of it on him. After all, it was he who near always made it for Vaelyn. He'd set the kettle on and not even glance at Lophostri. "Would you prepare a table for the Count?"

"Ohhh, aye, thank ye, dear," Kalixi says to the owl. "There's a mop an' bucket by the back door, like, if ye could just get the floor a bit tidier, so we don't look like a beer-an-piss club, shelter for mutineers and madmen." Oddly specific. Somebody is apparently still a touch salty about how that mission went, or in this case did NOT go. "Leverage fer WHAT," she snaps, and then shakes her shaggy little head. "Me apologies, we be back early because I spent, in a foolish moment, the dragonbone draught to pull my son's idiot friend out of a cursed tree's trap, whereupon she turned about, tried to kidnap our Luthais an' then fussed her sandy clamflaps out into the aether, leavin' us with some snake-eyed peacock with half his head up his arse and the other half done up like a troubador." After some more chuffing and squeaking, she nods to Ulfarr. "I'll get the table done, aye." She and her tannin-soaked wash rag will go scrub a table and chair for the count, even as she keeps up a tiny rusty chorus of sour muttering.

Lophostri blinks a couple of times at the oddly specific description of what this place isn't, but goes about getting hold of the mop and applying it to the floors anyway.

"Then it seems to me that it is your idiot son's friend's fault, is it not? Not all is lost." Vaelyn offers as he makes his way across the room to the freshly cleaned table and chair with a certain degree of stiffness, "We can gather what you learned and devise further plans." He looks across to Kalixi as he takes his seat, "His plan seems to have been to use them to enforce meal times." The Count explains to the ottermom. An incline of his head follows to Ulfarr, "She did come to visit, but I sent her back to her lodgings for now."

Another scowl at that reasoning. On one hand Ulfarr could understand it, on the other the sheer audacity of this peasant. Once the medicine was brewed he was back by the table and set the foul thing in front of Vaelyn. "We did discover a few a things and an arm, as well as a ring for you to examine."

Kalixi stops her rusty-bucket rambling for a moment, and cants her head to Vaelyn. "Oooh, I understands it now," she rasps, briefly mollified. "If ye'd just put the food in yer trap nobody'd need to go roundabout with ye." Pragmatist? Always. "Aye, and a book, too, most of one, and I shall write ye descriptions of the tree, what we found about the tree, an' either description of the fiend itself or the crazed ramblings of a cursed traitrous wastrel." Pause for breath. "Also we found some jackanape gambolin' about with claim of being friend to ye and this Lady Mara. Done up like a... gypsy wagon run headlong into a rest home for travelin' circus escapees."

Lophostri pauses momentarily in his mopping up to process that description of Tade. "Yes, that would certainly identify him out of most crowds." Vaelyn's lips twist in a sneer, though whether it is for Kalixi's pragmatism or for the foul brew presented to him, it was difficult to say, "Yes, do write down everything you can recall." Stiff postured, he spares a few breaths and a moment to down his medication. A few quick breaths recover his air, the now empty cup presented back to Ulfarr, "No friend of mine, no. Hers? It seemed as much, from what little I saw." One more breath, though this was purely in order to release some small amount of tension, violet eyes lifting to Ulfarr again, "I will be fine to examine these objects shortly." In precisely as long as it took for the medication to settle in.

Ulfarr was stoic faced the whole time, taking the cup the moment it's offered back. "Of course." He went back to the kitchen washing out the cup thoroughly before putting it aside and walking back to stand by Vaelyn's side. "We were ill-prepared, but next time we will be ready."

Slip, slup, goes the washrag, decades' worth of muscle memory leading Kalixi through the steps to clear the counter, the hearth, and the tables of ash, broth, and crumbs. "Well, I told the boy to make sure ye didn't starve yeself, so here we be," she rasps, calming down with every tick of time and every cleaned surface. The smell of acorn tannins, strong and astringent, sets a sharp, earthy undertone to the eye-watering swamp reek of the Count's medicine. "Well, how does one prepare for cursed mangoes and mutiny?" She huffs, apparently still disappointed in herself.

Lophostri pauses in his mopping to shrug slightly at another rhetorical question "Dunno. Carpentry doesn't really prepare you for that sort of outing."

"Here 'we be' indeed." Vaelyn murmurs to Kalixi, hands folding on his lap to have the long, gloved fingers play at each other in thought, "Ideally-" He addresses them all, though pointedly his gaze drifts up to Ulfarr, "-What do you require in order to feel as though you are fully prepared to confront the place once again?"

Ulfarr's eyes drifted to Vaelyn's. He had some choice words about Cathleen himself, but none he said. "We will need rope and stakes. More holy water and the...other variety of it." Aka the cheapo one. "There is also a chance this is all a summoning gone horrible wrong. Kalixi you have the book?" He'd ask, before promptly bringing out the wrapped out arm and setting it on the table. Carefully pulling back the cloth to show the withered arm with the glass still loosely stuck in it. "There is also this." He reached into his pocket to pull out the ring he'd found and carefully setting it next to the arm. "From what I can...guess it's a summoning gone so wrong everyone basically died."

"Aye, or it went right and they just got somethin' they weren't prepared for," Kalixi rasps, potting around and making sure everyone's settled in and things are clean before extricating the tattered journal from one of her forelimb pouches. This is presented to Vaelyn with as much ceremony as a ratty-furred and peevish Sea Vydra can muster. "It be a nature spirit they were seekin', so... coulda been good, coulda been... well. Hungry, like."

Lophostri gets that mop put away, now that everything's reasonably clean, and joins the others. "Hungry seems... likely."

"There is at least one more pouch of powder, and one vial of water." The ones Vaelyn had kept on his person, "Rope and stakes should not be terribly difficult, I hope." One could not be entirely sure, in Ellischester, but there was a pawn shop to raid at the very least. The shriveled, glass impaled arm is left where it is on the table for the moment as he instead reaches for the journal so that he can flip through it's pages and the remnants of the ritual, "What, precisely, do you know of nature spirits, Kalixi?"

Ulfarr's gaze now turned to Lophostri who was decidedly a carpenter."I suppose you'll be good help with that if we can't find anything of metal." He'd smile faintly, though soon enough it'd vanish into stoicism as he straightened up besides Vaelyn.

Kalixi settles down into a chair, and lifts a hind paw to scratch her midsection. "Enough to know that there be nothin' precise to know, nature be what nature be. Wind an rain, shine an dark, warm an chill." She takes a long slurp on a mug smelling strongly of chicory. "Pages missin, could be a clue to what sort, but well. Nature rarely comes when ordered, aye? Ye must respect it, nurture it, beseech it, peraps even fear it. Littluns in a magic school?" She spreads her paws. "Who be to know? Either the... blue cursed monstrous thing came to Brighton and they tried to summon against it, or... it be what they summoned, seems if."

Lophostri nods at Ulfarr as he takes a chair as well. "Assuming we can find decent enough wood to work with, yes. I'd rather not tear up good buildings for the sake of a supply of tent pegs."

"You would be hard pressed to find a good building here that is not already in use." Vaelyn offers to Lophostri dryly without looking up from his study of the book, "You mentioned some sort of tree? I'm afraid i'm not an expert on summonings, but I have heard that one which has not gone to plan - and it is frequently so, my aunt has warned - may twist the original intent and bend the creature being summoned into something it is not. It is good fortune when our magics simply fail, when such things become the alternative."

Ulfarr's head inclined to Vaelyn. "Yes, there was a mango tree. It was practically vampiric in nature. Where everything else had simply withered and decayed, this tree was incredibly healthy. It's fruits ripes, smelling almost too sweet. Cathleen took a bite of it and was practically possessed and seeing spirits. A large skeletal ghost like reaper." He let out a sigh, almost waving his hand dismissively. "Then there was the very soil, it had shards of bones in it that had a blue glow around it's edges."

"Aye, lad, I can take ye to the shore for salvage, there be wood now and again, no need to scrap what already works," Kalixi says to Lophostri in her little rusty voice. Then, she nods in agreement with Ulfarr. "The sap be colored strangely, dark in places an' blue in others. The smell was sweet upon sweet, like the pitcher plant, singing, practically, to come an' eat. All had the will to resist, well, except for Cathleen, aye. She ate a great deal an' went mad. So we used the powder an' the draught to clear her free of it, and got a bite in our arses for thanks." Her irritated chuff echoes in her earthenware mug.

Lophostri nods at the shore news "Oh, good. I wasn't putting much hope in the notion of a spare building to scrap. Even if I wanted to do that..." A couple of blinks at the latter bit of what the otter said about the lady what abandoned everyone "she did seem rather disagreeable, yes."

Vaelyn Rillek's lips pursed in thought while his fingers gently pried at pages, trying to get them apart without causing further damage to the journal. He's seeing very little success there, time and time again stopping for fear of damaging what they do have intact, "How quickly did she succumb to such madness? Was there anything particularly extraordinary about her behaviour?"

Ulfarr closed his eyes as he lapsed into thought. "Hm. Well, it wasn't like she was possessed. It was more like she was incredibly afraid. Her deepest fears manifested perhaps? It wasn't like she'd lost complete control of herself. She could still fight and struggle. From seeing things only she could see, but at the same time...," his voice trailed off as he pondered how to word it. "I too saw something. It took a few moments for whatever it was to effect her, but I did see faint spectres head towards her for a moment. But she ran in the next moment and they were gone."

"Aye," Kalixi rasps in agreement. "Ate of it, an' saw whatever it wanted her to see, which would have herded her, no doubt, into somethin's belly. Took the lot of us, pell mell into the depths of the fog, to bring her down, and she'd have knifed us in her madness if we'd have let her. Our new young friend had to turn the ground to muck to keep her from bolting anew when I finally got her to ground. The dust mixed with water be effective a touch against the spectres but it took yon Knight bravely pouring the proper stuff down her throat before she chucked the fruit an got her senses."

Lophostri nods at the mention of the things seen, and the muckifying of the ground. "Saw a bit of... whatever it was, myself. Sort of. It was hard to get a good look at it with all that transpired."

"It is rather curious." Vaelyn offers, setting the book down so he can instead lean his elbows on the table and clasp his hands, "Do you not think it odd this mixture of plants and phantoms?" One finger taps upon the knuckle of another, "Nature may be this and that and much more, but I have never heard of any spirits of nature which also have to do with phantoms and death. Have you?" Kalixi was the druid here, so this was her realm to answer, "Ah." Vaelyn sighs, inclining his head towards Ulfarr, "It's unfortunate we cannot use the royal library."

Ulfarr curtly nodded at Vaelyn. "I think we'll have to have a proper meeting before we go on our next trip as well. To properly draw lines of command and such. As well as split into groups capable of doing whatever is needed."

The ottermom chugs the rest of her mug of house specialty before letting out a little rattly belch and scootching farther back into her chair. There is some nautically appropriate chin-stroking. "Well. Death, be certainly a part of nature, but -un-death? Narrh, narrh. Ye die, go to ground, feed what comes next. Spirits what call one to doom, be generally the domain of the sea, like, but well the sea be full of its own problems now. Bigger fish, as they say. Praps one siren song found itself in that tree instead, and liked it too much?" She utters a long, snorfly sigh, nose-flaps flaring and then closing as if pinched. "Doesn' explain the blue glowing monstrosity that the miss took for their ringleader, though? To think upon it, then, twisted, as ye said, Mister Count. Somethin' of nature that went all back upon itself."

Lophostri listens attentively to all this, one tuft of those eyebrowish feathers raised.

Vaelyn nods to Ulfarr, "Indeed that would be a good idea. We needn't bring ourselves unnecessary chaos in such a situation." Vaelyn's head inclines towards Kalixi, as he nods to her expertise, "Something twisted then. If this blue taint is a theme and Cathleen's visions prove true then we may assume anything with a blue-ish taint to it may be controlled by the creature we must uncover then." His hands unfurl and he reaches towards the withered arm, two fingers pinching delicately at the skin.

Ulfarr's eyes flickered from the wall to Kalixi then Lophostri. "We also found runes leading further in towards the old Academy there. It's where we found the journal and these things." He gestured to the book, arm and ring on the table. "I think someone is staying in there but we haven't managed to find them."

Kalixi watches the... arm. "Ye know," she finally says, with a sailor's bone-deep superstition, "I thought ye were going to give that poor fragment of a soul a proper burial. Ye invites terrible luck until it be burned or put to ground." Her nose-flaps flare, and then crinkle. "...well there be that oddson with the red lizard eyes and a child's giggle. Gamboling about like it were neither haunted nor at all dangerous." She snorts, quietly. "He were not the source of the runes. The runes be set fast, added to ones that be already there, likely to protect from whatever be gone loose in there. The miasma be thinner in that way, so if anyone -were- to be mad enough to want to weather this, in that school it would be."

Lophostri nods at the mention of the runes "Odd runes, at that. Whether that design discovered accidentally or not I couldn't say, but they were carved quite deliberately. Very much a deviation from standard constructions."

A brow is raised at the runes, and Vaelyn looks up from his arm pinching to look between the three, "Ah- I don't suppose you recall them well enough to draw? Perhaps we may yet find some co-relation between them and what is to be found in this journal, hm?" His lips purse as he regards the arm again, but puts it aside, "We will indeed give it proper burial, but it may yield clues upon further examination, first." Next, the ring. It does not glow in the Count's frigid grasp as it had in the warmth of Ulfarr's hand.

Ulfarr flashed a smile at Kalixi. "Much can be learned from examining the dead, but - yes - they'll be buried afterwards. Though I doubt the soul would be happy with the body divided how it was already." He'd then pull out that trusty pad he'd always kept with him and tore out the page with the rune sketched onto it. Placing it in front of Vaelyn. "Odd though. That ring took a certain glow when I held it." He held his hand out for Vaelyn to give it back to him to see if it'd happen again.

"Heh heh, it likes ye better, Killick," Kalixi chirps to Ulfarr, and then shrugs at Vaelyn, gesturing both Lophostri and Ulfarr forward. "I shall leave that to the gentlefolk and smarter among us, as by then the woman had decided to lay hand upon me girl's godpater and drag him apart into the mists, and I had more pressing things to fix me attention on, and found meself less composed to readin' rune scratch." Well, that's a diplomatic way of saying you turned into a bristling ball of 'pissed-off' with sharp bits at all ends, ma.

Lophostri gets what look he can at the already sketched out rune as it's passed along "Looks much as I remember it, really." The otter lady gets an amused nod at the mention of pressing needs "Indeed."

"Hm." Vaelyn murmurs, placing the ring in Ulfarr's outstretched hand. Once again it glows, though the colours this time flare with a more muted tone. The runes are examined as he asks, "What of this - ah, reptile eyed man? What was your impressions of him? Might you be able to coax aught from him?"

Ulfarr's brows furrowed as he peered down at the ring. "Very odd. It glowed brighter when I pulled it out of the chest too." He deposited it back on the table, unwilling to even try to put it on. "My impression of Tade is that he's only in it for his own entertainment. He'll help if it suits him, but otherwise I know not who or what he is."

Kalixi makes a noise, when Tade is mentioned, which she repeats when asked if we might be able to coax anything out of him. It's sort of a quick hissing inhale followed by another, more snorty inhale, which even if one were the most amateur reader of Vydra body language, or any body language at all, would translate rather clearly into 'not for love nor money'. "Well," she finally says, in a thin rasp like an iron file being dragged lightly across a rusty nail, "He claimed to be in company with this Lady Mara, was coy and vague about what he be doing in Brighton otherwise, brooked not a scrap of recognition of the serious straits we were all in, dressed like he'd robbed a theatre group an' talked like he'd spent days sittin' under the windows of an asylum to get tha' high pitched voice just so." She pauses, and dredges a hand-carved pipe out of one of her forelimb pouches. "I desperately wanted to bite him on the nose, just to get him to stop actin' like it all be a traipse through a park."

Lophostri clicks his beak a couple of times in thought about the Tade question "He strikes me as someone who likes the play the fool, but has sufficient resources at his disposal to not worry about anyone actually calling him on it."

Vaelyn Rillek momentarily looks puzzled at Kalixi, the particular squint of brow and crinkle of his lips marking a surprise at such restraint. Clearly he'd expected some form of retaliation if there was belligerence about, "Ah. It is dubious then that you might learn any truths from him." Absently he reaches for the journal again, shifting the drawing of the runes aside a bit, "Then, I suppose the next order of business is how long until you all wish to venture again?"

Ulfarr wrinkled his nose at the thought of venturing out again. "Till we're all rested and prepared. And can actually gather everyone to have a briefing," his eyes would shift to Kalixi. "I think Kalixi would be the best to help...organize and lead everyone." His gaze swept to Lophostri then. "After fixing Luthais' door will you start on seeing how many stakes and ropes we can manage?"

Kalixi makes a very sour face, as though she'd just eaten an entire bitter orange, rind and all, raw. Her ears droop. "...we." Ahem. "Needed the little arse-biscuit to... escape, because I decided to waste our magical aides to rescue Cathleen. Also in this rescue we tarried too long an' the miasma became too thick. So. Gods knows what manner of payment the gaily colored bilge-rat will insist upon, but that be my burden to bear." Vaelyn gets a flint-hard squint, and then she looks upon Ulfarr with distressed. "Arh, ye be a sweet lad, but it were my mistakes that left us in that titterin' twit's hands, and that were the least grim of our possible fates. If we hadn't found that twitterin' twat we might still be huddled in that school prayin' for a scrap of clear air."

Lophostri nods at Ulfarr's entirely reasonable request "Certainly." The otter lady gets a more encouraging look "I'm inclined to place most of the blame on Cathleen causing so much trouble. You did what was necessary at the time."

"It is important to be able to do what is necessary in the moment, and to think quickly." Vaelyn reinforces with a nod towards Lophostri, "In any case do you not feel as though you are fit to lead? Besides which, who and how many would you find ideal for your next foray. Perhaps that is a better question to ask first."

Ulfarr scoffed and glanced off. At what it was unclear at present. "Hm. Well, Cathleen certainly isn't fit to work in a group unless - I assume - it's with other thugs that are her friends. Otherwise, everyone else was fine if it weren't for the lack of communication." His eyes would land back on Kalixi. "I'm an outsider, this isn't my town. I'm only here to help and advise." Strongly at times. "There was no one else who went with us to Brighton that cared about solving the problem as much as you, Kalixi. You're the only person who will do what's best for Ellichester." A pause. "Which is tragic really."

Everybody present gets some moony otter eyes, and a quiet gurgle of "Awrsh ye lads now..." But it is Vaelyn who gets the cocked brow ridge and the little flinty stare. "Can't even let an old lady wallow a little bit, can ye?" she rasps, and then allows herself a tiny bashful chortle. "Well, twist me tail, ye all be right. Been here too long to let me raggedy little armpit of the realms go to seed. Once a bossy old salt, always a bossy old salt, aye me darlin' boys?"

Lophostri chuckles slightly "Well, I assume so, yes. Anyway, you can hardly expect me to take charge. I only just crashed into the area... though I do find myself more or less stuck now, so might as well do what I can to make it... better."

"Yes, yes. Bossy is as bossy does." Vaelyn offers a vague hint of a smile, his eyes crinkling momentarily before settling back into his impassive, dour expression, "So, a door and stakes to be made - you may give me the bill for your services, Lophostri. Rope-" He pauses to sit back in his chair and allow himself enough space to twist and fetch the sachet of dragon bone powder and vial of holy water, both of which are held out to Ulfarr, "-Those. Now, besides is there anything you may desire of me to prepare?"

Ulfarr smiled tiredly, then looked to Vaelyn at that. He was still thinking of business. "Would it be possible for you to help prepare something to reveal the unseen? As well as help...mediate any further planning. We will still need to question Cathleen on if she did find anything. And then there is that Noelani." Who he didn't even know.

"Have ye a magical draught to make folks behave themselves?" Kalixi jokes, gnawing on the end of her still unlit pipe and making a wry little chortling noise. "Miss Noelani be of Liminal, sort of a... guild for adventuring types, like. She mentioned knowing how much she was going to charge to send folks out there, so that COULD mean she's got an eye to what be needed to handle it? Ugh. I... be in no place to talk to that girl, me disappointment be too great for a civil conversin'." Pause. "Let us be honest, I be awful at civil conversin' in general. There woulda been teeth if any of me children had been put at risk by this jiggamaree."

"Unfortunately I do not. How useful that might be, if unethical at best." Vaelyn cants his head and lapses into thought momentarily, "I will see what I can do, though i'm not certain we have all that I might need for such a brew." He nods though, "I will mediate yes, when you all are ready. Perhaps for now it is best you all rest, and we might view things with fresh minds tomorrow."

Lophostri stretches a bit stiffly in his chair "Not a bad idea, really."

A long sigh left Ulfarr and he nodded to Vaelyn. His concentration as well as will to simply put up with things was reaching it's end. For the day. "That is well enough. I'll take some time prepare and we can reconsider how we'll work with someone of the adventuring guild." In hindsight that would've been helpful to know, but alas. He washed away any shame with the fact it ain't his town! And this doesn't have to be his problem!

Kalixi scoots her fuzzy backside out of her seat and starts collecting mugs and etc. She offers Ulfarr a pat with her gnarled little paw. "Ye be a good lad, and we be lucky to have ye around. Feel free to have ye some rest here, me feathered friend, as well. We only did as well as we did because of all of that good workin' together." With that, she lumber-hops back into her kitchen domain, to make sure all is prepared for bright and early breakfast in the morning.


Marking the meeting points of Fletcher Lane and Bay Avenue, Paradise Crossing was so named for the deluge of bars and houses of ill-repute that once lit up the avenue. With a lack of tourism, many of those establishments have either shut down, or transformed into dens for the various gangs and the homes of less-savoury sorts. To the west, the tall, faded walls of the inn can be seen jutting above the other structures. A once brilliant mural of an elegant woman enjoying a glass of wine or sherry is now sun-bleached and barely recognizable. 'CHESTER INN' stands boldly in big black, block letters, repainted every now and again to stand out and advertise to those that do visit Ellischester for one reason or another.


For Ulfarr there was still an amount of weariness towards him, his presence along with Lord Rillek's was begrudgingly accepted. Though they still kept out of his way. Moving through the crowds it was easy for him to spot Tade. Someone he both wanted to see and didn't want too. He moved through the crowd which moved for him in part and came to a halt right in front of Tade. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

Kalixi, on the other hand(paw?) is heading from the direction of the Chester Inn, bearing an empty gunnysack and still repeating raspy instructions to one of the lower-ranking Chester 'boys' as to how specifically the food, drink, and medicines that must have been in that sack are to be delivered. "An' if I finds any of ye have drunken it yerselves, the next will have ONE draught that'll have ye tastin' bilge for a fortnight!" She lights up when she sees Ulfarr, and starts lumber-hopping in his direction with a rusty greeting. Tade? Well... him she looks at like a pile of horse apples she's narrowly avoided putting a bare paw in.

"Hmm? Well of course! I always enjoy myself." Surely that could not be true. Surely some of this indomitable, annoying cheer was some form of act. Everyone had flares of emotion. Everyone, "I mean the food's kind of crappy, and it's really dirty and it storms too much and the theater has holes in the stairs! But you know, slumming it can be fun." Speaking of food, he takes a nice chomp out of that shank, chewing and chewing until he's swallowed it down, "This isn't too bad though. You should feed one to your Lord. He looks like he's going to crumble to bits." Tee hee hee, the childish laughter makes it's way free before his gaze settles on Kalixi and her low ranking Chester lad, who seems to just be nodding obediently, afeared of a mother otter's anger, "Hiiiiii."

Ulfarr says, "It is," Ulfarr would agree with a measured nod. What he was agreeing too was left vague. Likely the taste of the food. He peers over Tade, "But it's good to see that you're well after all that fantastical magic from before." Though before he could start to grill Tade there's Kali. And he's back to smiling widely. Nothing bad had ever happened recently! Not at all. "It's nice to see you Kalixi. Not working Luthais' boys too hard are you?""

The ottermom gives Ulfarr a fangy, genuine grin. "Only as hard as they need to be, aye. Can't have them stealing a nip of the boss' medicine. It ain't fer them." Her teeth stay bared, but the honesty in that smile, as well as the corners of her mouth, have gone about half-mast as she turns to Tade. "...the Count don't prefer gnawin' off a bone," she drawls, as neutrally as sand, before switching gears back to Ulfarr. "Tis good to see ye too, me Knight. Have ye had a dinner yet?"

"Have you considered meat pie?" Tade suggests with what seems an absolute immunity to any sort of rebuke, and awkwardly wiggles the untouched pie in his hand. It shifted slightly with a heft in his palm. Whoop, don't drop it now, "We should all have dinner!" More dinner. In fact, that shank was disappearing with alarming alacrity. Blink, Syvis shifts on his shoulders a bit, her tongue flickering out to fwip at Ulfarr's hand. Tade beams, speaking to both of them, "Syvis really likes your friend Lou, you know."

Ulfarr's brows lofted as he realized what he'd completely forgot to address with Tade. He'd heard it and it went right out the other ear until Kalixi acknowledged it making it a 'real' statement. "Meat pie is nice," he'd say with a nod, while still avoiding the topic of Vaelyn's eating habits. His head turned from Kalixi to Tade. Then to Syvis as he stiffens slightly as it's tongue flickers across his hand. "Hm. Friendly snake I take it? Perhaps over dinner we can discuss where you got her?" He'd ask, "Of course, I'll pay."

There is a brief moment where Kalixi looks like she has absolutely NO idea why Ulfarr would -want- to invite Tade to dinner, but after a little bit of brow-ridge wiggling, she seems to catch on. Like it? Not so much, but catching on nonetheless. Syvis gets a slightly less flinty look than Tade does, but there's still considerable suspicion there. "Aye, he be... very popular with ladyfolk," she deadpans, and then swallows some pride with effort. "Well I won't have ye payin' me way, me Knight, ye do enough good fer us it'd not be right."

"Oh, she's very friendly. She just looooves people." Apparently as did Tade, if any of his behaviour was any indication.With barely any scraps left on the bone of the shank, he tosses it aside to join a pile of trash to the side of the road. With a hand freed, he takes his staff from under his arm and cradles the meat pie to his chest like it was a precious thing. Twirling on the ball of his foot, with the cape swooshing a little bit, Tade soon faces the pair again and inquires, his head tilted, "Where are we going to eat?" A shank of meat, a meat pie yet, and he wanted more food.

A smile cracked across Ulfarr's face. "Don't worry too much. I am here to serve." He'd give Kali a hearty pat on the shoulder. He does his best not to grimace at Tade disposing of trash in such a way. Especially since it's the standard fare here. "We may as well go back to the Chester Inn. It'll be a change of pace...for me at least."

"Eatin' food I didn't cook meself be a change of pace fer me, aye," Kalixi rasps, giving Ulfarr another fangy grin when he gives her a pat. Tade, she just stares at, for a long, unblinking moment. "...for certain," she says, her little rusty voice dry as the dryest bones. "Tis the least we can do, what with ye gettin' us home from Brighton. Great Wizard an' suchlike."

"It wasn't much!" Tade exclaims casually as if his talents weren't unusual in the least, nor his demeanor and general being, "You were *struggling* oh and what shame if Lou had collapsed on you. What a troublesome burden that would have been, hm?" A sharp turn of heel and he was marching towards the Chester, chirping in his wake, "We can have drinks, too!" Because dinner? Had to become a whole *affair*.

"A troublesome burden I would have gladly carried." Ulfarr would remark, staring down at Tade before turning on his heel just the same to head to the Chester Inn. Pace just a bit faster then Tade's he had to be in front after all. A knight he may be but he still had juvenile proclivities. "Drinks would be appreciated, though I am paying so there will be some." Dinner did have to be a whole affair, they could agree on that. Ulfarr was a hungry boy and it fit his size. Unlike Tade.

First, Kalixi says, "I be glad it wasn't much for ye," Kalixi says to Tade, cordially enough, and then there's a long, quiet pause. "A true and loyal friend be -never- a burden," she rasps, with an edge of upper fangs scraping against lower, and then she sighs heavily realizing that a direct shot would not be taken seriously by this capering boy-child, let alone a warning one. "No drink fer me, I wouldn't impose upon ye, suchlike, an' the kitchen needs to be prepared for tomorrow's breakfast."


The Chester Inn is hardly a place of luxury accommodations, the interior fairly spartan. The available rooms reflect this, with creaky, thin mattressed beds, rickety side tables and threadbare blankets. Part of the lower floor has been sectioned off into a restaurant for guests and locals alike to gather in, often serving fish done in a variety of preparations, though various types of other meats are available depending on what can be found at market. It's an open secret that often the rooms of the Chester Inn are used to make back-room type deals.


Tade didn't mind the juvenility on display, and Ulfarr was so free to lead the way as the self-proclaimed greatest wizard in the world pranced along behind him. The Chester Inn, on arrival, was as it usually was: quieter than the other gathering spots, but no less filled with those trading coin for food and drink. It wasn't crowded, but the dining room/bar was respectably flush with patrons. Whatever table Ulfarr chose, Tade sat his skinny butt down on a chair and put his meat pie on the table, leaning his staff as one does. Kalixi was well known, so they could be blessed with drinks that weren't watered down, and as for food - well, there wasn't really a choice. It was take what the daily offering was or don't eat. Today? There were clams with a barley stew and some small rolls of wheat bread.

Ulfarr would pick a table off to the side. Somewhat private in the establishment, though not too far away from everyone that it'd make them suspicious. Though, that was impossible with Tade (not that the knight would admit he too was suspicious in a town like this). "Order what you like," he'd drawl out.

It takes a bit of a scrabble, but Kalixi gets her fuzzy butt into a chair and makes herself comfortable. "It be odd, sittin' down an' havin' food brought on," she chortles, peaceably scratching herself with the claws of her hind paw. She holds two fingers together, indicating she'll take a little slosh of whatever happens to be for drinking today. "Be ye gonna eat that pie here, b--wizard?" Diplomacy, yarrrh! Ahem.

Rum. An order of clams, stew and rolls, and an enthusiastic nod to Kalixi is Tade's response, "Yep! Do you want some?" The meat pie is thereby lifted once more and displayed around the table to Kali and Ulf alike, as if to entice them both to a slice. While he does this, Syvis takes the liberty to start slithering down his arm and right onto the table like some scaled, snakey centerpiece as she soon curls up right in the middle, with a clear view of all parties involved.

A faint smile was flashed to Kalixi and considering the limited menu. Ordering was easy enough. He made sure to tip well, not too well though. "I suppose I shall," he reaches out to take a slice of the meat pie. His eyes shifting to Syvis as she makes herself at home on the table. "You are aware it's bad manners to let your pets on tables?"

"I be content with the house special," Kalixi rasps, looking at both the snake on the table and the meat pie with equal, if mild, suspicion. There is a short pause. "Snakes, despite their reputation, are generally clean, if treated well and kept off of dirty floors or from eatin' unclean things." She just leaves that there. Granted, she looks at Syvis with a lot less suspicion than she does Tade. I guess not being a hairless human person scores you points. Or maybe dressing sensibly.

Tade beams at Kalixi first, then at Ulfarr, the pie as a whole set down before he takes out his own slice. Unfortunately it can't be said to be as straightforward in quality as a haunch of meat, bits of organ and less savoury cuts of meat mixed into the filling, but it wasn't going to make anyone sick. Probably, "Oh, Syvis isn't a *pet*. She a *familiar*. It's different!" Familiars were not so common anymore, largely it seemed for cultural reasons, but they were not an unknown phenomenon. The slice of pie is downed with the same alarming speed as the shank had been, and just as he finishes that, everyone's orders arrive, during which Tade is busy cooing at Syvis and telling her what a good girl she is. A bright smile for the server as they wander off, and his hands curl around the glass of rum, "She only gets the best. Plus, she needs baths to keep her scales so nice." Well and, she seems to ride on his shoulders an awful lot, so keeping off the floor is an obvious thing, "Soooo. Are you going to go back to the haunted town?"

Ulfarr gives the pie a sniff and takes a bit. It won't kill him to his relief, so he continues to eat it in polite mouthfuls. "A familiar," he'd hum and peer at the snake in curiosity. "I suppose it is. Though, I still don't know if it's polite or not." His eyes flickered back to Tade. "I'm not...familiar with familiars though. How did you get one?" He ignores his meal for now. He still has the sickening meat pie to eat.

Kalixi eats her dinner with the high speed gusto of a person who seldom takes breaks, and whose fangs can shear through food like pinking shears. "Aye, we be plannin to return to Brighton, proper prepared this time, not in a disjointed gaggle of seagulls fightin' over scraps like it be some sort of fun outin," she rasps between bites. "Certainly no playin' about. After all be said and done, it be found to be a very dangerous place." She pauses to scrape a clamshell against her lower teeth. "Ye did not find it to be so dangerous, did ye?"

For the moment, the meat pie is ignored as first he takes a sip of rum, a red flush touching at his cheeks immediately. Why yes, Tade was in fact the cheapest drunk in the entirety of the world. A titter follows, "Oh, my sister gave her to me when I was a baby! And Lathai-" Lest we forget he had a rainbow scaled snake curled around his wrist, "Was from my brother." A pleased little hmm noise was offered to Kalixi, the warmth of liquor already filling his belly with fluttery pleasantness, "Well no, why would I?"

Ulfarr's eyes narrowed at Tade, even with all the red he wore that flush stood out. He grunted and picked up his own non-descript alcoholic drink. He had whatever Kalixi was having! Safer that way. With the meat pie finished he ate some of the steamed clams. "You're a very odd man. In fact are you even human?" Normally such a question would be rude, but this was Tade so he could be.

Yep, it's totally ok to be rude. Kalixi just looks at Tade over her half-glass of rum. "Because it be full of haunts and traps and a thickening miasma that chills the lungs and sickens the heart, peraps? Because it be a maze where one can hardly see? Because it obviously be a place that wants to kill folk? Ye cannot possible be so mazed as to think there be nothing amiss there." The 'you dumbass' is unspoken but would be spoken if 'dumbass' were part of the parlance.

The tittering giggle that was a signature of this very odd man now is pitched even more, and more raucous, making even more obvious how easily drink affected him, and yet even when they'd arrived back in Luthais' room, he'd nicked himself a full bottle. He liked to drink, evidently. And to eat. Would it ply much from him? Well... "There's plenty amiss there, silly! That doesn't mean it affects *me*. Ahhh ha ha ha." Serpentine eyes regard Ulfarr with a glitter that matches the wonder of tipsyness he had so quickly become, "And what if i'm not?" Oh, hello Syvis. Yes you're cute. Boop. Snoot kissies. Muah.

Ulfarr's focus shifted to Kalixi as she took charge of that line of questioning. He'd enjoy some of that clam whatever I'd forgotten already. "Well, it's not that important. We're all odd here and if you asked the others where I live I'm barely human anyway. So what are you, Tade?" He'd take a gulp of his rum.

"Why don't it affect ye, then?" Kalixi says, her little rusty voice barely holding a civil note in the face of all. That. Giggling. "Be it to do with the wizardry? Along with the riddles an' half truths an' like? I know that generally come with wizardry so that be no surprise. What it be is a thundermug full of -annoying-." Again, she picks up a clam shell and rasps the remaining shreds of meat from it with her lower teeth, scraping little furrows in the shell. "Peraps ye enjoys feelin' the mysterious princess but we have not the time now. Brighton be a hell's arsehole and why do it not bother ye?"

With a flourish, Tade removes his mask and hat both to reveal a boyishly handsome face with nary a sign or crease to indicate age, yet he had to be older than a teenager, for no teenager could master feats of wizardry as he had, "Well what do *you* think I am?" He chirps to Ulfarr, employing the classic of answering a question with another question. A wide smile is presented to Kalixi, eyes scrunched up at the corners with mirth, "It's because i'm special." Special. Of course. His shoulders rise and fall in a careless shrug, "I can do things you could never hope to do. Because of who I am."

Ulfarr could feel a smartarse reply welling up in him. He smiled politely at Tade. "I think you're definitely older then you look. Which would mean by some feat of magic you've managed to not age. Which would also mean you're very talented at magic as you said, but such talent is...rare." His brows furrow. "You also don't commonly see people with snake eyes or familiars. I couldn't possibly say what you are."

"Neither can I, that be why we keep askin'. If I had a guess I woulda made it already, like." Kalixi picks up her roll and settles back into her seat to gnaw upon it. "It ain't some manner of power play, we just need to know what we be dealing with. Do it LOOK like we have courtly intrigue an' politicking out here? That be a luxury. To keep Brighton's demons from feastin' upon the last of us be a necessity." A ragged chunk of bread is torn off, gnashed to bits, and swallowed. "So that is why we ask. The thing ye can do that we cannot hope to do is walk free in Brighton with neither illness nor fear. Undstand it?"

"I mean, isn't it obvious to follow the mysterious magical symbols to find clues? You were really just lolligagging so much I couldn't stand it." Implying Tade had been watching for some time. Oh that ever so loathed titter returns, serpentine eyes narrowed upon Kalixi, "Court intrigue? Politicking? How funnily misplaced." Tee hee. His attention abruptly shifts to Ulfarr, that merry squint narrowed upon him, "When you pray to your gods for guidance, or your lord does, do you expect all the answers to fall into your lap?" The smile widens even more, and surely -- SURELY this was only the drink talking, "I'll tell you why I have no fear if you give me a *really* good smooch."

When Tade said that Ulfarr sucked in his breath. "I'm quite aware," he'd look down to his food and focus on eating that for a moment. Just when he was hoping to never think of Cathleen again, he was reminded of her. "The gods don't sit in front of us and aren't open to wanton questioning." His lips pursed at the ultimatum. Really, he didn't care a whit. Though he knew the Count would. "And how do I even know you'd actually honor such a deal? What if any kiss I give just isn't good enough?"

"Firstly, we wasn't lollygagging, we was handling a facking mutiny," Kalixi drawls, finishing up her roll and licking her chops clean. "Secondly, yer ain't a god." She huffs herself out of her seat and literally heaves her fuzzy bulk onto the table. "Thirdly, yer wants a smooch, give us a smooch, then!" When she purses her lips, it brings ALL of her bristly whiskers forward like an ambulatory shoe shine brush. Hairy kissyface, in FULL THREE DIMENSIONS! Good gods she's headed right for Tade.

"Didn't say I was, but the point remains the same if you have a care to see it!" Tade doesn't hesitate to boop and smooch Kali too, but it was more like he smooched Syvis on the snoot, "Oops, too bad I asked him, huh?" Whee hee hee hee. Oh, without realizing, he'd already finished his whole glass of rum and wiggled his fingers in the air for a refill. His cheeks were really quite red and warm looking now, "Your whiskers tickle. Hee." Flop. He leans back in his chair, and while Kali is on the table, Syvis takes the opportunity to bury her snout into the ottermom's fur with a tickling flicker of tongue. To Ulfarr Tade throws his hands wide, "How will you ever know if you don't try?"

Ulfarr stared off somewhere. Who knew where. Only Aquilae knew as the kissing went on. "Yeah, I'm not falling for that one. I'd rather keep what's left of my dignity since the trip last time." He'd drain more of his rum then, with sufficient alcohol in him he'd finally look back. "I take it you're here to enjoy the ride then. Tade."

Kalixi squints at Tade for a bit, obviously inoffended by the smooches but puzzled by the fact that the usual reaction to a full face hairy aunty lip pucker is significantly more... comical. "Ye don't have to kiss anyone ye don't want to, me Knight," she rasps, a steely little reinforcement, before scooting back to her side of the table. Syvis gets a couple of pat pats before the otter's butt is plunked back in the seat.

Syvis seems pleased and satisfied with the pat pats, and settles her head back down on her ruby coils that glitter in the dull lantern light that serves the dingy dining room. Oh hello new drink, hello first sip, and hello pleased sigh, "Well i'm not falling for telling you all my secrets when you don't trust me. Why should I trust you? You don't even know what you're asking." Ulfarr is offered a vague shrug, "Maybe. I only came here because Mara did. Though you know, people like your Count are interesting."

Ulfarr's head turned back to Tade. "You know what I hate? Cryptic responses." Though he left it at that. "I do hope you'll spare my Count from your treacherous shrill voice though. Else I may have to take very drastic measures to protect his sanity." He smiled it was part threatening, but also part joking. Ulfarr was having a good chuckle at how pained Vaelyn would be being forced to meet Tade and be polite.

"Cryptic responses be for treasure hunts, boyo," Kalixi rasps, wriggling herself into a more comfortable position in her seat. There is a fangy yawn. "I be thinkin perhaps ye should stop drinkin' before ye make -less- sense, but I be hopin perhaps ye skirt the whole equator an' find sense along the way betwixt?"

A terrible fit of laughter takes Tade for both Kalixi and Ulfarr, so raucous that his glass jiggles this way and that, sloshes of rum spilling over the sides, "I think your real problem is you want answers you aren't *entitled* to. Answers about things not meant for your ken. Answers you wouldn't believe no matter how truthful they are." His smile is devious as his glittering gaze turns upon Ulfarr, narrowed in a peculiar way which could be interpreted in all sorts of fashions, "I should just take your Count away from this horrible place. Take him on a journey of fantastical discovery. I wonder then, if his faith would quiver and shake in the face of what I could show him."

There's a bob of the knight's head to Kalixi before his focus turns back to Tade. A wry smile on his face. "Such a mysterious and powerful being you are. And perhaps you're right. All that matters in the end though is whether your intentions are good for us or not." He'd refill his cup and take an eager gulp before his gaze levelled at Tade once more. Gaze cool, no hackles rising. "You will do no such thing and you underestimate Count Rillek's finest trait. His love for his family. His son and daughter. If he were to ever stop believing - which I doubt - it would not change the course he has to take." He now smiled more sincerely at Tade. "My apologies if I have offended you, but it is better you leave Vaelyn out of your shenanigan's."

Kalixi just stares at Tade for a long, long moment. "As much as I'm sure it would tickle ye to talk about yerself to those ye obviously think are well beneath ye, I also care not for yer vast an' unfathomable mysteries. We just want to know how ye relates to this Brighton jiggamaree, and what manner of help or hinder ye will be in all this." She cocks a brow-ridge. "An' now, what yer obsession with the Count be, as he be currently under me care. I carry a great dislike for anyone or anything, powerful as they may be, interfering with the health or well being of me patients."

"Secrets and mysteries, my dear Kalixi, always come with a price even if you may not realize it, and some secrets are not meant to be shared so freely. That's not looking down on anyone, that is simply the truth of the world whether you like it or not." Offhandedly, as he jiggles around what's left in his glass, Tade asides to Ulfarr, "He's already met her once." He shrugs at Kalixi as he downs the last slag, a renewal of the rosy glow in his cheeks rising to burnish them with a brighter red that only adds to his jovial bent, "You sure take the littlest things to mean obsession, huh? Anyways, how much I help or hinder seems to me to be up to you since you already took help as a signal of distrust."

Ulfarr's brows quirked up. "Met who once?" He then quickly lofted his hand up in a dismissive wave. "You are not wrong, it is part of my duties to be suspicious. I must protect the Lord after all, but - in concern to these ventures? Well, I can take a few more risks. Depending." His eyes narrowed at Tade. Then he glanced to Kalixi the angry otter mum. "Though, to be fair your entire attitude seems to ooze a -want- for distrust and suspicion."

"Ain't ye dear. Also ye've talked about him more'n I have, and the bugger -lives- with me right now," Kalixi rasps, as dryly as the sands at the top of the beach. This is punctuated by a cavernous and fangy yawn. Her breath smells like the bottom of a barrel of fish that rum has been spilled into

Met who? Well that's a question going unanswered as Tade blinks at Kalixi, "A few comments isn't much. You're just looking for something to be grumpy about, aren't you?" There is nothing adult about the way his cheeks puff out briefly in imitation of the way Kalixi's have in her righteous anger. Hello, waiter? Waitress! Empty glass club calling in another. Much to his disappointment, he seems to be ignored on that front, "Risk one! Give us a smooch then, pretty boy. My secrets are free to give at whatever price I want." Here we go again, the lips get puckered up nice. It makes his face look more punchable, somehow.

Seeing Tade do that again her turns in his seat, hand coming out to rest on Kalixi's shoulder to gently turn her for this secret meeting. He speaks softly to her. "I know he's more suspicious then a pirate saying they want to change their life to become a priest at the richest of churches. But that teleporting skill of his was incredibly useful and we may need it again." He then turned back around to face Tade. Smiling. "I've changed my mind. I don't want your secrets. Just your help."

The grumpy ottermom grunts quietly as she is turned about, and blinks her big olive-dark eyes at Ulfarr. When she turns back to Tade, well she still looks grumpy. "Well, there is me reputation to uphold," Kalixi says, in her rusty little voice.

Tap, tap, tap goes the finger to the lips, because apparently help comes with a smoochin' too? Or he's just trying to get a smooch for something he was going to do anyways. No? Hm. Never fear. Tade will be right there for first aid and mouth to mouth if you need it good buddy. Just look at him. That wide smile practically guarantees it, "Soooooo. When's the next triiiip?"

Ulfarr gave Kalixi another reassuring pat on the shoulder. This was awful. But it was safer this way probably. He'd pull a smile at Tade. Ignoring the tapping of his lips. "Soon hopefully. Once we're all prepared and have a party accounted for."

"How many times do ye need to be refused before ye minds it, boy?" Kalixi is ottermom. Ottermom is mom of all who need mom. "Yon Knight does not wish to kiss ye, so stop tryin' to force it. Love needs to happen natural. Like a bout of intestinal wind, if ye let it come, ye feel better. If ye force it, ye wind up with shit."

"Who said anything about love? You guys sure have some weird hangups." Tade stands, there's a little wobble, and it is likely due to the bartender and wait staff's keen eye to know - or at least think they know in some cases - when to cut someone off. Tade wasn't drop down drunk, but the wibbles and wobbles were there as he swiveled around to give Ulfarr a big pat on the back, "It's okay to want smooches and affection!" Annnnnnd hug! Even Ulfarr scoffed at the mention of love. "It is no hangup simply -," he's cut off as Tade wobbles up and ever so closer to give him a hug. He just...pats Tade's back. "Yes, it is. But it's a matter of propriety. I simply do not kiss and such in public. Especially strangers."

Kalixi cuts in with her little shanty-roof voice. "Where I be from, if someone be insistent in such a fashion, it be socially acceptable to bite them lightly upon the face to remind them that unwanted attentions be unpleasant."

"Some people like being bitten." Tade offers with a high titter of laughter, his cheek rubbing into Ulfarr's side, and his cheery body language leaning towards awe at the difference in their physiques. Alas, Ulfarr is not the only one to get drunk affection, for his hand extends for Kalixi's head seeking fur and ears like for his fingers to rub rub at, "Say, we should sing a sea shanty since we're near the sea! Waiiiiter!" Because shanties deserve another drink.

Ulfarr grimaced as now Tade was now rubbing his cheek on his clothes. Though he didn't resist. Just let the drunk be, was his current stance. He needed that teleporting ability. "Oh no. I'm actually terribly tired! I don't think I have it in me to sing." Very smooth.

Kalixi leans backwards at a rather agile angle for a hawser cable wrapped in a huge fur rug, and bares alllll of her pointy teeth. She's not going for an active bite, but it's definitely a sort of 'switch my head for my jaws' maneuver. Her only commentary is "hssssssssss"!

No matter how many times Tade wailed for the waiter, that new drink never came. It wasn't generally the policy of the staff to cut people off even if they should, but Kalixi and Ulfarr had the distinction of being friends of the boss, while Tade merely had the distinction of being particularly annoying. A big sigh, fingers brushing carelessly with Kalixi's teeth as he wasn't even really looking, "It's ok, i'll just sing you to sleep!" Squeeeeze. Breath, annnnd, "Go down you blood red roses, go dowwwwwn!" Oh no. He's *terrible* at singing.

Ulfarr's eyes widened in alarm. Like a deer realizing it was about to be shot through the heart with an arrow. "Ah..haa!" He grabs Tade by the shoulders and begins to move towards the entrance. "I prefer to sleep alone you know. For reasons." He looks to Kalixi, begging for help as he tries to shove Tade through the door.

"Oh, I be not drunk enough for any of that to sound good. We shall send someone to fetch ye when we are going to return to Brighton," Kalixi rasps, exiting her seat to help separate Tade and Ulfarr with the sheer volume of her bulky little body.

Wibble, wobble, Ulfarr shoves Tade towards the exit, Kalixi wiggles her way between, it's an awkward scene to be watching right now. The door is there, there's definitely some shoving, Tade's song continues on for a moment. Syvis remains on the table through all this with Tade's staff, hat and mask, "Uhm. If you're not trying to take me to your bed, then how come you're shoving me out the door?" One hand lifts - this does not help him not be shoved out the door - and points back in, "My bed's that way."

To be not so fair. Ulfarr wasn't thinking too well, but he was sure everyone would prefer it is drunk Tade was out rather then in. "Oh. Don't think about it. I just need a drink. Alone!" Which really meant without Tade. So he'd try to close the door on him.

Thinking quickly, Kalixi figures out that if Tade wants to go to bed, it would be better if he were heading in that direction. Patrons of the Chester Inn be damned, the boy's got a room here, he's their problem. She turns herself around, attempting to rotate the confusing trio so that the wizard was pointing back inwards, and she and the Knight were headed outwards. The door, however, can definitely still close.

Good thing Tade doesn't seem to get sick when he drinks, because for some folk a little whirly-gig like Kalixi is pulling would set their stomachs to turning, "Drinking alone in bed isn't healthy!" Chirps Tade. Does the door close in his face?

Ulfarr is a notorious push over depending on who you are. If you're an ottermom? You're in luck, the Knight despite the fact he could easily be unmovable, helps to move Tade back in to guide him to his proper room. Foot kicking out to close the door. He gives an apologetic look to those at the Chester Inn as he now helps Kalixi shove and shove him back to his room. "I'll drink standing up, before I go to bed!"

"And I shall drink with him," Kalixi squeaks, trying to wrangle a spangly human(?) back to his room for him to be perhaps less irritating to the rest of Ellischester. If they succeed, she'll add, "I mean if ye want," to Ulfarr.

Going upstairs is awkward, a bit difficult, but ultimately it's successful. The problem now was that Luthais' room was on the way to Tade's room and oh, hello Luthais. Like a slippery fish Tade angles towards that room, with it's door as of yet unrepaired, to make to go into it if no one stops him, "Looooouuuu."

"Oh, yes of course we can." Ulfarr would say genially, before he reached out to now firmly grasp Tade by the shoulders. "You are not going in there." There was an ever so slight growl to his voice, as he now more forcefully pushes Tade onwards down the hall.

Yep, there's an otter in the doorway, preventing passage through it, gripping the doorjamb like a cat trying to be shoved into a basket. "Shush," Kalixi hisses into Tade's chest. "He be trying to rest. Home you go, lad. Sleep it off."

There is definitely a displeased and mournful moan and groan that comes from inside the room, and any glimpse within just shows a lump under a blanket trying to hide away from the world as Kalixi prescribed; Lou was trying to rest. Down and down the hallway they go until they get to the end of it, where Tade's room lies. There isn't much to be found in it insofar as personal effects, but... his staff, hat and mask have found their way up here by some form of magical retrieval no doubt. Syvis? Well she's slitering up the stairs behind everyone, "He sounds like he needs a cuddle." A resounding scoff came from Ulfarr. "I don't think that was the sound, more so to leave him alone." His nose would wrinkle and he'd give the magically transported items a brief glare. "Now. You need to rest, I need to rest." Though, it was more like Ulfarr just wanted this conversation over and he didn't care how.

Kalixi holds the door. Well, the doorway. Quite firmly. "Aye," she agrees with Ulfarr. "Ye may want to try to understand that not all roads lead to yer body, great wizardly ar-- arr. Sleep off yer drink and freshness will come in the morn."

"Weird hangups." Tade reiterates, though this is more to himself than to anyone else as they finally manage to get him into the room and tripped backwards onto his own bed, "I'm fiiiine---" Oh, this blanket feels nice. Cuddle the blanket. Slither slither. Excuse me, big snake coming through to join the 'it's time for bed' crew.

Ulfarr scowls at Tade, but he's happy enough when he falls flat on his face in his bed. He takes one careful step back, making sure to avoid stepping on the snake and gently shuts the door after it. He then lets out a sigh of relief. Not saying anything to Kalixi just yet, he wanted to bask in some silence.

Kalixi, too, soaks in the available moment of quiet, squeezing her olive-dark eyes shut and flattening her earflaps against her skull. Finally, she lets go of Luthais' doorjambs and slides back down to the floor. Echoing the sigh of relief, she turns to plod back down the stairs and get back to the tatty comforts of the Refuge.

Sagcoln Beach Atria 06:47 PM 26 April 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

White sands stretch the length of the beach, up until a rocky outcropping that marks the end of relatively safe grounds. Beyond, and stretching along the eastern boarder of Ellischester are dangerous lands even the well prepared are wary to travel, the lands beyond the beach home of the corrupted beast Sagcoln, for whom the beach was named, it's territory reflecting it's corrupted state. The safe sands are often strewn with driftwood and debris, the occasional shipwreck washing ashore and sometimes bringing with it a wealth of scavageable items to sell; a popular activity, weather permitting.


The day today has been clear, though the miasmic fog of spirits might have one thinking otherwise, and the chill of sea air off the coast does nothing but accentuate the damp feeling that permeates the area. Either way, today was the day for gathering any supplies they could forage and the beach was a good area to find scraps of this and that. There was something else here, too, which sees Vaelyn all the way over towards the little embankment of sand and scrubby grass that leads to the corrupt grounds upon which Sagcoln calls home. He's skirting the edge, looking at this bit of foliage and that, few and far between that they are.

There is a basket on the shore, woven out of scraps of canvas, bark strips, and bits of dry grass. Attached to it is a rope, which leads over to the water. Attached to this rope is a blue glass float. Attached to the float is presumably another rope, but it is bobbing around under the waves. Locals will know the blue float belongs to the Harbour of Refuge, and Kalixi in particular. Bob, bob. Bloop! Up comes the fuzzy mom, carrying a net bag of salvage. Some wood, some metal, and some sodden cloth, for starters.

Ulfarr has two jobs. One more important then the other and that's protectinv Vaelyn. Sure they're not that close to the corrupted grounds of death and decay, but they're close enough. The house knight makes sure to stay several paces from Count Rillek as someone - the large man with big arms preferably - would carry all the wood they needed. As Kalixi and Lophostri did leave things to be desired in that area. With sigh and a petulant prod of rotting wood with his foot. He called over to Vaelyn, "What are you looking at my Count?"

Lophostri is indeed scrounging along the beach for suitable bits of wood and really, anything else that can be turned to a good purpose for the next expedition. He is however, keeping himself on the relatively dry ground. The humidity is ruffling his feathers badly enough as it is.

"Ah." Vaelyn breathes, gesturing with one hand towards a ruddy toned, woody looking bit of branches sticking out from a short, stubby trunk, "It is aptly known as 'dead man's fingers'." A slight curl of his lips was all that was needed to communicate his distaste for the name. Lips which pursed further, "We must be careful not to get any sap on the skin. It grows in places where there are many corpses to anchor to, and feed from. I can only imagine what vile taint I shall have to first cleanse." There is a quiet sense of lament before he asks of Ulfarr, "Do you think you might be able to uproot it?" Safely, of course.

There is much to scavenge from on the beach, much of it covered in seaweed that ranges from fresh to rotting slime. Some of the wood is simply waterlogged, and may take a bit of extra work, but would be fine once it dried out. Others, like the piece Ulfarr has kicked, are rotting and useless. There's scraps of metal, much of it rusted, and rotting bits of rope all around, scattered in the sand,

Kalixi waddles up to the shore with her prize, dumps it into the basket for sorting with a massive clatter, and prepares to head back into the water. For the sake of the humans present, she has one strip of kelp artfully wrapped around her chest, and one around her waist. "Here ye be, lad. See if there be anything worth salvage in there. Sighted a crate wedged between some rocks yonder." The difference in speed and grace between her on sand is leagues away from that in water. On land, she waddle-hops awkwardly down to the shore, and once she hits the water, she moves fast enough to create a v-shaped wake behind her. Zhoom!

Ulfarr's face twisted in what was perhaps disgust or simply disdain for the whole situation. He genial front was being worn thin what with all the spooky ghosts. "Of course I can." Safely? Probably. He promptly leaves his not quite sorting of the debris and heads over to inspect the plant. Kneeling down to press fingers to the dirt. Gently tugging the plant to see how firmly rooted it was. If only it was like a carrot. "What are you going to use it for?" He'd ask idly. Looking back at Lophostri and Kali. He really hoped he wasn't going to be expected to inspect, he didn't know good salvage from bad. In this situation? He was relatively useless.

Lophostri perks up a bit at the delivery of the no longer submerged crate, and redirects his search to focus pretty directly on it. "For the moment, I'd say that once we can get this dried out properly, we can probably put a lot of it to good use. Assuming the contents haven't simply dissolved by now, anyway."

Vaelyn Rillek is similarly useless in the determination of what's good enough when it comes to potentially rotting wood and debris. Ulfarr, at least, was able to carry a great deal when the time came, while the Lord himself would be of little help there as well, "Ah, for the potions you requested, to aid you in seeing specters which may hide from your vision otherwise." There is a brief pause, "It will be entirely safe once I have finished with it, naturally."

Kalixi's glass float bobs, being tugged to and fro as the ottermom darts through the water, looking for... bloop! She surfaces. "Yarh, we be having a fat lunch today, found a brace of mussels." She paddles easily to the surface, dumping another load into the basket, this one featuring some floating wood, a broken tool or two, five shiny rocks and the aforementioned mussels. Triumphant, she flops down beside her basket o' booty to take a little rest.

"Oh. Right, yes. Of course." He let out a cough as the plant proved stubborn. "Perhaps Kalixi would be better at removing it. Being a...," he glances at her, "" Yes, that's the word. Today just felt all the more miserable now. No thanks to the miasma. Ulfarr wasn't doing so good at appearing smart and he just. Let go of the tree. Lacking confidence in removing it and he'd dare not hack away at the ground with some wood. He wasn't five or with Marceline!

Lophostri nods at the latest arrival of potentially salvageable bits while he digs through the first crate. It's not the greatest look of pleasure on that owlish face, as a fair portion of the contents are pretty slimy and gross. "Have a bolt here that could be put to some good use..." It gets put off to the side. "Mussels, you say?" As he continues searching through the muck. Probably fruitless, that.

Vaelyn Rillek flattens his lips as the twiggy bush proves stubborn, his brows coming in slightly. Ulfarr's suggestion of Kalixi brings Vaelyn's gaze up and across to observe the ottermom as she sits down for a small break. Vae clasps his hands together at his waist, "Kalixi?" His voice raises to call across the beach to the pair further down, "Might you be able to come help us a moment?" Delicately the count side steps as if to clear a view for the otter, and owl, to see the plant in question. In the same gesture one hand raises and squeezes at Ulfarr's shoulder.

Similarly Ulfarr also parts to make way for the stubborn shrub. Though he still remained close enough to provide support for Vaelyn. "Perhaps I should start packing what's sorted," he muttered under his breath as he gazed over at Lophostri. He didn't like this at all, not being able to do much.

"Yarrh, get us a hole and some coals and we could get ourselves the proper sea bake..." Kali replies to Lophostri, idly kicking sand from her clawed feet. Vaelyn's call causes her to raise her shaggy head. "Eh? What be the trouble?" She hops to her feet, and unhooks her safety line. As she waddle-hops across the sand, she stops mid-way between the Vaelyn group and the Lophostri group to shake the water from her fur, safely out of range from all of them. "Oh, arrh, got some deadman's bones there, have ye?" She rummages around in one of her forelimb pouches, producing a bent length of metal, commonly referred to as a 'cat's paw', being somewhat like the claw end of a claw hammer, only smaller. "Ulfarr, me dear boy, would ye be so kind as to dig us a hole on the beach proper, so we can bury us some mussels an' coals?" Mom radar to the rescue!

With a mildly annoyed cluck of his beak, Lophostri finishes getting all of the entirely too mucked up crate contents that aren't good for much off to one side. "Well, maybe something in that pile can burn if it ever dries out... crate itself might be good for some stakes, again, if it ever dries out..." A very brief and vague smile is offered to Kali as she pulls out her 'cat's paw', and as she approaches, Vaelyn moves a step or two back as to not be in the way, "Indeed." He murmurs, nodding towards Ulfarr to go ahead and dig that hole, "Yes, I intend to use it in the potions Ulfarr requested for your next trip. Do be careful."

A breath of relief leaves Ulfarr and off he hops, away from the plant. Sauntering over to where the muscles were so he could dig up a hole in the sand. A job to do that he could do! It feels nice to be competent. He flashed Lophostri a smile as he crouched down near him. Taking up one of the pieces of rotted driftwood to start digging up a hole. "Fixed up Lou's door yet?"

Kalixi sets the metal in the ground, and then pushes it in around the plant's roots with the heel of her foot. She levers it this way and that, making thoughtful little noises. "Arh, it be caught on somethin," she rasps, and then looks up with a wry little glint in her olive-dark eyes. "Perhaps some -real- dead man's bones, aye?" Poke poke poke! She pokes the ground. "Let it go, ye lubber, yer treasure be ours, now."

Lophostri nods at Ulfarr as he gets to sorting out the more recognizable bits of salvage into piles based on how intact the bits appear to be. Or at least how corroded they aren't. "Damage wasn't as bad as I thought at first glance. A whole new door would be better, but I wouldn't class that as a terribly pressing concern right now."

Kalixi was not wrong in her guess, and the roots of the plant were twined and tangled through the rotting flesh and sturdy bones of a water bloated corpse. The more she pokes and tugs, the more sand is repelled from around the body.

Vaelyn steps back once more, his heels sinking into the damper sand behind him, where tide licked on each surge, "How woefully inconvenient. Ah." He breathes, inquiring of Kalixi, "Do you need some sort of help?"

Ulfarr rolled his shoulders. "Hm. I wonder. Privacy is important to rest, don't want everyone gawping as they pass after all." He'd flash Loposhtri a grin as he dug up a hole in the ground. Sand flying off, most going into a pile beside the hole. Little he could do about that really. "Where are the coals Kalixi?!" He'd call over his shoulder.

"Ye gotta make 'em!" Kalixi hollers back, with a little thoughtful hiccup as she observes the poor dead... fellow? Lassie? Who knows? "...also we be needin' more, and driftwood besides. Got us a dead'un here who wants a pyre. By yer leave, Count, I be goin' to fetch more wood." She scrubs the cats' paw briefly in the sand before stowing it back in her forelimb pouch, and galumphs off down the beach in search of scrubby brush and anything dry to burn.

Lophostri continues sorting out the current salvage pile "Oh, certainly privacy is important. And the repairs on the door will provide that... for a while, at least. Anyway, I'll really need to secure a new work space to do a more thorough job of it."

Left with the corpse, very unrecognizable as either male or female with it's scrubby hair, scraps of clothes and bloated features besides, Vaelyn clasps his hands together and looses a gentle sigh. A quiet prayer is uttered beneath his breath, chin pulled down to bow his head, before he steps away further onto the beach to clear a space with his boot and roughly smooth out a rectangle to build the pyre upon, "Bring your wood here, Kalixi." Calls Vaelyn.

Ulfarr's expression falls. Make the coal? He looks back to the hole he dug. Then to Lophostri. "Um. Well, yes. I hope you do find a new work space!" Very helpful there he was. "Do you have any wood I can use for a fire?" He'd look around aimlessly. This should be a simple task, but he didn't know ANYTHING about living around beaches. Was the wood different? Was the wood all filled with water and damp!?

"Aye, aye, I be fetchin' it!" Kalixi rasps in response to them both, as she lopes around from rock to rock, yanking out dead branches and dislodging chunks of driftwood. " any of ye know how to work with flint and tinder? Or praps magic that calls a fire? Wouldna be averse to either." Something goes *crunch* as she shifts something behind a rock, before waddling out, triumphantly dragging what looks like half a busted ship's wheel. "Arghh look at this'n. Thick with pitch, it'll burn lovely."

Lophostri stands up from his spot by the now sorted piles of salvaged bits and bobs, with the clear intent to help haul over the fire wheel. "Afraid I didn't have much call to light fires inside a carpentry shop."

Vaelyn Rillek makes a fine figure on the beach, standing there while everyone else digs and hauls and generally makes themselves useful. He glances between the half-wheel and the still half buried corpse, his lips pursed in consternation.

An awkward simpering smile was plastered all over Ulfarr's face as Kalixi was the MVP today. He stood back as the wheel was hauled over. Surely two pravalkans could easily handle such. "I can easily light the fire with magic." Casual brag there, no big deal. Though, he certainly isn't thinking of a pyre for the corpse, just a fire for the tasty mussels.

"Aaah, good," Kalixi rasps. "Me boy can do this too, it be passing useful." She sets the wheel down at an angle, and stomps on it with her rough little foot until it breaks into convenient pieces. These she stacks up in a square, end over end over end, and starts stuffing the space in the middle with scrubby brush. "All right, so we get this lookin' like a chimney, aye? Then we stick smaller branches in the bottom, one layer ye point this way, then the other ye point that way, aye?" As she patiently explains, she looks up after every pause, to make sure that all her little students are following along. "Then we can keep addin' wood round it till we got a rectangle big enough to... put a dead person on. Dinner will be wantin' their own coals, of course."

Lophostri nods along attentively with the day's lecture, and gets to doing his part to stack up wood for the pyre "...Yes. This feels like a bad situation in which to share coal."

Ulfarr listened intently and watched. He wondered why they weren't using the hole to cook the mussels. Then by the end it clicked. Oh right. The dead person. His face fell. "Ah. Right, yes of course." Not a pyre for the mussels then. Though same principle. Probably. He aptly leaves the Pravalkans to make the pyre, dead body? Not as important as mussels. He fetches similar looking debris. That feels as dry as possible. Scuttling further away from the waters to find dry shrubs to yank out to fill in the hole he'd made.

"Fear not, me dear Killick, we'll get to the living once we be done seeing to the dead," Kalixi soothes, dragging back some kind of driftwood chunk, which she bangs merrily against a rock until it breaks into manageable pieces. "If we had a raft proper I'd set it on there an' set the whole lot ablaze, to float in offer to the sea, but as we lacks this, we be sending it to the earth instead. All be fair in life an' death, besides."

Lophostri shuffles along, continuing to arrange bits of available wood into the ever growing pyre. "Well, if things ever settle down enough that I can get a new workshop going, I'll see about keeping a few rafts in stock for such... occasions."

Vaelyn Rillek shuffles a bit as he watches the trio gather and arrange wood, his gloved hands not made for such work. While by all rights it was awkward standing here being of no help to the causes going on, Vaelyn managed to carry it with a practiced grace that made him seem not awkward at all, "I would think it liable to wash back ashore with the swift turns in weather you are prone to here."

As the small hole in the earth is filled with tinder and such. Ulfarr leaves it. Not sure if he should set it alight just yet. Now he had to focus on the pyre. Or rather on the other icky business. "I'll go get the body." Now that wasn't a task he'd foist onto the pravalkans. Vaelyn was obviously out of the question. He'd march on over. Flashing the Count a smile. "It isn't too awful is it?" He'd speak lowly to the elf as he reached down to hoist up the dead bloated corpse. Of course, it smelled terrible, but that was at least manageable.

Kalixi sets up a mosaic of chunks of wood, filled in with dry grasses and withered brush. Twigs are laid out in a crosshatch pattern over this. "That's why ye sets it ablaze before ye sets it afloat," she chortles, as though this would somehow be something everybody would know. "Naught but ash and bone to feed the seas if ye gets it high an' hot enough. Mind ye, far out at sea ye just wraps it in whatever's handy, weight it down, an' over ye go." She takes a few hops back, peers at her work, hops forward, and adds more scratched up grass.

Lophostri nods at what looks to be a reasonably acceptable pyre, and makes to get far enough away that a stray spark won't set his plumage ablaze.

A handkerchief is produced - for what was a nobleman if he did not have a handkerchief tucked away on his person? The handkerchief is raised to Vaelyn's nose to ward off the corpse's stench, lips stretched thin, "Besides the smell, it is not too awful, no. Just... try to disentangle the plant from the corpse if you can, else we'll have to find another."

Ulfarr nodded up at Vaelyn, then set the corpse down. He had little qualms with prodding the dead. He knocked off sand and dirt. Scraping it away with the steel of his gauntlet. Yes, he'd worn armour here. He now attempted to remove the plant as gently as possible from around the corpse.

There's a rather impressive pile of wastewood building on the impromptu pyre; the broken wheel, shattered driftwood, a few sections of a discarded barrel. Kalixi, panting lightly, gives her work one last once-over and then plops back into the sand, propping herself up on her paws. "All right, lads! Someone magic the fire up over here, and when she's proper burnin, set our guest of honour upon it, aye? I be takin a rest, on account of bein' old."

Lophostri stretches a bit and takes a seat near the otter lady. "Looks like they have this part well in hand... bit of a stubborn looking plant, that one." Vaelyn Rillek offers out his gloved hands so that he can take the plant from Ulfarr once he's wrested it free, "They tend to be rather stubborn, but I suppose a plant which relies upon the dead to thrive would be, hm?" With his hands outstretched, however, he cannot cover his nose with the cloth and it wrinkles at the stench, "I do hope it is not anyone who was known in town."

"Not like anyone can recognize them anyway," Ulfarr would grin wryly, before starting to haul the corpse over to the pyre. Now Kalixi and Lophostri could both enjoy the smell! Dipping his hand in. It was with just a snap of his metal fingers, that sparks flew and the tinder caught in the pyre. His hand carefully shielding the flame for a moment so it wouldn't be snuffed out by a breeze as quick as it came.

Kalixi applauds politely for the fire, because everyone's talents deserve to be recognized. Well, everyone we know or care about. The smell only seems to bother her a little bit. "Aye," she agrees with Lophostri first. "It be told, that such a one who is greedy in life, will cling to the livin' world, and the plant ye sees there will spring up to call them out." Then, she turns to agree with Ulfarr. "Can't tell who from who, when they be that much to bones, alas. Could be a washed up soul as well, the right wave and a sandfall and puff! Ye be buried for ages."

Lophostri blinks a few times with a vaguely uncomfortable expression at the burning flesh smell. And probably a bit for the sudden fire, as well. "Handy thing, that fire."

When one hand proves sufficient for the plant, the other raises the handkerchief back up to shield Vaelyn's nose from the offending scents wafting around, "The fire will purify and and allow them to pass on, now." He turns reaching out and leaning over to rinse the roots of the plant in the salty sea water, "It is an easy plant to overlook, and easily mistaken for mere twigs."

Ulfarr's hand eventually withdraws. The fire is well on it's way thankfully and as the blaze gets higher. Ulfarr now hauls up the corpse into the pyre. Job done! He smiles. "Have we found any good salvage though?" OOC Ulfarr says, "oop theres supposed to be a " at the end"

"Aye, some and some," Kalixi rasps, watching the fire for a little bit. Once it's caught proper, she gets to her feet, pulls a flask out of her other forelimb pouch before belting out in her rusty-bucket voice: "Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea, but such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full of sound and foam, when that which drew from out the boundless deep, turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, when I embark! For tho' from out our bourne of time an' place, the flood may bear me far, I hope to see me pilot face to face, when I have crost the bar!" She raises her flask, uncorks it, and takes a nip.

Lophostri watches the fire engulf the body quietly. No sense in interrupting a rousing farewell like that. With the dead man's bones(the plant of course!) rinsed off, Vaelyn gently sets it down in the sand after turning back to regard the pyre and the corpse that is slowly heating, steaming(gross) and cooking. There is a certain tightness to the Count's lips, his eyes flickering up to Ulfarr, "Perhaps we might shift our dinner down a bit further, hm?"

Ulfarr truly doesn't have the respect for the dead or rather...these dead. He grimaces as the song stars, but he hides his expression by the pyre. He gives a small clap once Kalixi is done, then moves at Vaelyn's voice. Straight to his side. He gives a nod and sighs. Why did they make the pyre near his he had to move it. And so he did. He meandered off towards the edge of the beach. Going back to diggy diggy hole.

After a few little glugs from her flask, Kalixi corks it, stashes it back in her forelimb pouch, and shakes the sand out of her fur before going to help load Ulfarr's new baking pit with wood chunks and dried thatch. "Sorry about that, dearlin', couldn't have known we'd be diggin' up proper dead man's bones, aye. So for this'n we want to get the fire goin' good, then let it go down to coals, toss the mussels in, cover with some loose rocks, then bury with sand. This'll get us a nice little seaside oven, aye?" Her tail leaves a little furrow in the sand as she waddles about. With salvage sorted, and a corpse well on the process to being well done, and a bit of a stifled yawn, Lophostri wanders over towards Ulfarr to help dig the second mussel hole.

Vaelyn Rillek leans over to take up his prized plant again before he too moves down the beach to join the others. The wind is in their favour, blowing the streaming, thick coils of black smoke pluming up from the pyre away from the group and towards Sagcoln's festering lands, "Is it common to make little impromptu ovens in the sand?" Something about his tone seems to indicate this seems a quaint thing to do.

When Kalixi lumbers over and starts explaining the very quaint thing. Ulfarr nods. "Oh, I see," he looks up to Vaelyn and nods. It is a very quaint. The pit is soon dug and filled. Once more he dips his hand in and with a snap it's alight. He then comfortably sits back and let's out a content sigh. "It is quite nice though. I wonder if we could do a similar less sandy places." There wasn't much sand where they lived.

"Aye," the ottermom replies to Vaelyn, enthusiasm both in her delivery and in the accompanying snaggle-toothed grin. "It be grand, the freedom to eat wherever ye wishes... or in yer case, NOT wishes, har har har." Still laughing rustily, she grabs the safety line (good examples, children!) and heads back into the water to gather some edible seaweed. "Suppose ye could, dear, build a pit in rocky soil near as good as in sand," she rasps as she departs with a BLOOP into the waves again.

Lophostri looks thoughtful for a moment "Suppose in a pinch you could craft a sizable box and fill it with sand for a more portable version... have to think about how large that would need to be though. Might not be too feasible."

A nod is returned to Ulfarr as Vaelyn carefully kneels down to sit in the sand, resting the dead man's bones in the sand beside him now, "I would think it a bit easier to simply bring a shovel, would you not?" Even easier when you're not the one who would be digging out the hole to cook in, too! A mild furrow of brow is offered to Kalixi, "I'm quite fond of mushrooms stuffed with cheese, you know."

"Half the fun be making yer own way. In the city, there be ovens aplenty and cooks to staff them besides," Kalixi rasps, sloshing merrily out of the water and spreading a double-pawful of fat seaweed tendrils on a flat rock to await the residual heat of the stove. "Aaarh, I -would- like mushrooms stuffed with cheese. Mushrooms be easy enough to come by, it's the cheese that be the challenge to find in these parts, aye." She sprawls comfortably in the sand, water running from her thick fur. "Do ye need more deadman bones, yon Count?"

There was a long pause at that. Why didn't he bring a shovel? Well, he hadn't expected to be digging holes. Or good debris to be under the sand...or was there? There was a telling furrow of Ulfarr's brows and he shook his head. "But, at least this seems nice?" Yes, perfectly quaint and nice with all the miasma and dead people. He let out a sigh as he knelt down to keep an eye on the fire pit as it started to burn away. "I do miss some good cheese though." He says this as if he didn't bring some cheese with him on the trip, it just wasn't the good shit.

Lophostri pauses for a moment in his current attempts to deruffle his feathers at the mention of cheesed mushrooms "That *does* sound rather nice, actually."

A quiet exhale of longing brushes past Vaelyn's lips, and first he makes a 'hm?' towards Kalixi before looking between her and the uprooted plant at his side, "Ah, oh. No no, this should be quite enough. More than I should need, I do believe." Another small tip of the chin towards Ulfarr - good cheese was something they both missed. There were all sorts of amenities the Count wished for in these spartan lands.

The fire finally died down and the tinder had turned to coals. It was now ready for the cooking. He eased back and motioned for Kalixi. "I don't know anything about cooking seaweed. But I assume you just put the mussels in." A brow would loft at Kalixi. More lessons please. Though more then likely he'd forget them the moment he left.

Kalixi rolls to her feet, gently shaking sand from her fur, and picks up a bit of driftwood. First, the mussels are rolled over the coals, and then covered with another layer of rocks. The seaweed is spread over the top layer of rocks, and then the whole little cookpot is covered in sand. Ulfarr gets a fangy grin, and she flops back into the sand. "Need cows fer milk, milk fer cheese. Get that, get some good pungent roots, mince it up good, chop the stems, stuff the caps, sprinkle with bread crumbs..." She licks her chops, and heaves a great sigh. "Be the fanciest food I ate in years, yarh."

Lophostri nods along at the lengthy explanation of cookery and the history thereof "A fair bit of prep work to even start the cheese, really. Do cows not do well around here?"

"I can only imagine it is difficult to keep animals when there is such banditry about." Not where Vaelyn came from, a land that was well patrolled to keep bandits and gangs to as minimal a level as possible, "I would not think it easy to tend to a flock if one is constantly worried of your animals being stolen or killed."

Ulfarr watched as that was how he received his lesson. As for cheese? Well, he tried not to listen to that. Many were the times he had to listen to nobles drone on about their hobbies in near excruciating detail. He smiled and nodded. Then looked over to Vaelyn. "And now there are ghosts. I doubt any animals here would be good for anything with all that stress."

"Yarh, we had a goat, saved up for a long time fer it," Kalixi rasps, digging her toe-claws gently into the moist sand. "Stolen right outta me yard, she was. A right shame, many a frail babe can be bolstered well on goat's milk, and the cheese was fresh and sharp enough to wake a sleepin' teenager. Got a fence fer the yard since, that were an age ago, but we've neither coffers nor a purchaseable goat to be had. Har! Such is the way of Ellischester, a scrape and a scrabble to get to the next dawn."

Lophostri winces a bit at the tale of goat thievery, and goes to flatten back down the feathers that apparently thought that was a suitably dramatic time to get ruffled. "I seem to have found quite the paradise to crash into."

"That is terribly unfortunate. I take that it is rare to see animals hale and whole for sale here?" There were many things that Vaelyn took for granted, and the ability to purchase an animal practically when and where he desired was one of them. He pursed his lips, gaze lifted to Ulfarr in agreement, "No, I don't think they would be of much use after all the stress."

Ulfarr on the other hand didn't take it for granted, but that was on the merit that he'd worked to get where he was. His gaze flitted from Vaelyn to Kalixi. "It's amazing you've all managed so well," his gaze even dipped over to Lophostri. "I'm amazed even further by the fact none of you seek greener pastures so to say."

Kalixi yawns, wide and fangy, "Arh, this be where me husband last knew me, this is where he be seeking me once he's found a fortune fit for his family," she rasps, and then shrugs, grinning. "Besides, I be not fit for fancy places. Some can't be affordin to get away, aye? Be a lot of youngins what need deliverin', a lot of oldins what need aid. Who could have the time to plan to leave?"

Lophostri gives a bit of a shrug at Ulfarr's question "You saw how little cargo remained present and intact after the ghosts spooked the horses and the carriage wrecked. Afraid it doesn't leave me in the best position to be planning long journies, even one way trips."

"We are fortunate to have the means." Vaelyn offers dryly, his hands smoothing the robes into one pristine layer over his thighs. Finished with the task, his fingers creep together and lock, thumbs triangulated above and pressing together, "Of course we appreciate your continued hospitality. Ah- how do you know when they are done?" He gestures towards the makeshift crock in which the mussels were buried.

It was something Ulfarr couldn't understand. Though he had family that he cared for, it was him who hauled them to safety. At least his parents. Any who went another, went another way. Such as his sister. His eyes shifted over to Vaelyn, before back to the covered pit. "Well, hopefully soon enough the ghost issue will be solved and we can all go on with our lives."

Kalixi cocks a brow ridge at Vaelyn, briefly. "Do ye not smell it? Do ye not hear the sizzle from the shells?" Pause. "Well I suppose ye might not. Ye could count time, like when bakin' a bread, I suppose." Another pause. "Likely ye do not bake bread, either. But in this case, if ye see the steam risin' from the sand, an' it smells of salt and seaweed, it be ready to unearth." When the time is, in fact, right, she scratches the layer of sand away from the pit, and uses a chunk of driftwood to lever the stones free. "Ta-darh!"

Lophostri claps politely at the freshly revealed sizzling foodstuffs. "Indeed. It will be far simpler to get established in this new town if it's not swarming with ghosts and the like. Has a way of ruining shipping for one."

"I fear cooking is not something with which I'm acquainted on a personal level." Which was a polite way of saying people like Vaelyn don't do mundane tasks like cooking. Why, he's seen more of the workings of a kitchen here than he has in most of his life! Suffice it to say there were a lot of people getting paid to make sure Vaelyn and his family's lives ran smoothly.

Ulfarr instinctively lets out a content sigh as the smell of food gets stronger. After all that horrid work he could use some. Admittedly mussels and seaweed weren't his preferred snack after work, he wouldn't dare complain. "Yes, Count Rillek gets taken care of well. A treatment you can expect yourselves if you ever visit us at our estate."

Kalixi unearths the mussels, picking through them with her clawtips to avoid getting burned. The seaweed gets piled on a flat stone, and any open mussels are selected and dropped beside it. One stubbornly closed mussel is rapped sharply against a different stone, and when it still doesn't open, she flings it expertly over her shoulder into the waiting sea. She guffaws, albeit pleasantly, at Ulfarr. "Arh, ye be more adorable every day, ye sweet boy. Who would let a shaggy creature like me into an estate? Darlin' of ye to think so." Her expression is less humor-some when she faces Lophostri. "We shall do our best to get ye on yer feet, lad. No, it be not the best place to land, but, well, at least we all be down on our luck here, so ye'll fit in snug, like."

Lophostri nods at the otter's words "One of the few bright spots is simply that a carpenter can make themselves useful just about anywhere." There's some slight scratching at one particularly ruffled bit of arm feathering "Though this probably wouldn't have been my first choice had the move been planned."

"It is only proper to offer hospitality to those who have shown you as much. That is presuming we may pry you from your existence here for a time." The placid expression Vaelyn maintains is as if this should just be known. All those fiddly rules of high society that he lived by, "Of course we would not expect even a visit to be done lightly, given how vitally you are poised here."

Ulfarr blinked owlishly for a moment. What a good impression of Lophhostri he did! "It is as Count Rillek says. It is only proper and besides...," his words trailed off and his hand did an odd little gesture to himself. He didn't want to say it, but Vaelyn broke plenty of taboos with guests. Or rather house knights. What's a pravalkan guest compared to such a long term stain as having a human at such a rank.

Kalixi rolls an olive-dark eye over to Vaelyn, accompanied by an appraising squint. "Now, that be a very kind way of both flatterin' my fuzzy arse an' discouragin' me from trackin' sand an' fur all over yer fine furnishings," she laughs. Ulfarr is offered a pat. "That's sweet, dearie, but ye be much better at high society than I could ever hope. Come round now, all of ye, eat up, celebrate the lives we had, an' the circumstances what bring us together, aye?"

Lophostri helps himself to a few of the mussels and accompanying marine foliage. The heavy blinking from Ulfarr is somewhat amusing to him though "Need to learn to swivel your head most of the way around if you want to improve that impression."

"A bit of sand and fur would not be much - you'd shed much of the sand on the journey across, I should think." Vaelyn offers with a gentle shrug. He peels the glove off of one hand first, then the other before he reaches for a mussel to consume it as delicately as one can consume these things. The shell is placed neatly in the sand before he reaches for another.

A shrug is given to Lophostri. "Would if I could, I'd be better at keeping watch then." He took a handful of mussels and unlike Vaelyn, was rather rough in cracking them open and downing them. Then as an aside to Kalixi he goes, "I will say I don't care for the circumstances that brought me here. If only they could be better, or just not ghosts. I'd rather deal with bandits then ghosts."

Kalixi chortles a little bit with the owl, in a bit of Pravalkan humor, for the poor folks with no fur, feathers, scales, or tails. She waits for everyone to take what food they need, and then serves herself from what's left over. "We shall find what wrong's been done, and... undo it, yarh. There be enough smart folks an' enough strong folks, as long as everyone makes good behavior we can do this." But fer now, we eat, we get home, and we rest. Then our fine count may make us some potions and suchlike to carry us more prepared unto the breach, aye?"

Lophostri stretches a bit as he finishes his share of the meal. "Yes, rest sounds like a good idea. Then I can get to fashioning some stakes in the morning."

White Rock Point Atria 08:41 PM 26 May 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The path upwards is a steady and rewarding climb, the peak of the point jutting out over the water. Once it was a popular spot to dive off into the waters, but these days few are found up here just in case a storm strikes. Someone must be a regular, however, as there's a flattened and fire licked circular spot in the grass. Sometimes in the distance one can see Sehrasil thrashing about in the ocean.


There is a lump here. Right before the gravestone perched right need the furthest point, a lumpy mass of blanket sits. Griff is here too, watching over the boss, though he's opted to stay back a ways to give Lou some privacy - watching and waiting for the signal that he's needed. It's a bit of a chilly day, hence the blanket, the cool, dampness of the weather a subtle sign that, unsurprisingly to those who lived here, another storm was on it's way - and it was liable to be a bad one.

Bad storm or no, there are chores that need doing. As the Point, and its grassy firepit are near the meadow, fire as it roams free is an uninvited guest. A waddling form, wearing only a big floppy sou'wester hat out of respect for the weather, and a half-apron out of respect for people who think clothes are important, huffs over the ridge, dragging a sack. It's definitely Kalixi, judging from the assorted blue-language mutterings scraping like an iron rasp over stone. Stone, in fact, is what's in the bag, broken chunks of rock and etc, probably for the fire circle. "Yarh," she rasps to Griff, and then squints at the blanket lump.

The blanket lump hunches up a bit upon hearing Kalixi's approach, but still his focus seems to be largely on the gravestone in front of him. Lou leans forwards, and though his head is covered, it's fairly easy to tell he's pressing his brow on the cool, engraved stone, with quiet whisperings in that foreign tongue often mixed into his common speech.

Before Kali can get too far past, Griff reaches out to stop her a moment, a quiet word placed into her ear flap, "Uh, he's been in a real funk today missus." Now Griff, sweet man that he may be, did not deal well with the emotions of others. He didn't forsake them, but he also did not know what to do in the face of them, and an awkwardness that otherwise wasn't present appears in the man when he must. This time is no different, and the awkward ticks are right there for Kali to see, his expression practically pleading for help.

Kalixi responds with a thoughtful grunt. "...well, I shall make a deal with ye, then," she rasps. "You dig a circle round that there fire spot, and stuff these rocks therein, an' I be goin' forth to work me magic upon the boss, like. Do that sound like a fair accord?"

Griff nods, reaching for the sac of stones so he can take on that job, "Aye, missus." No protest of work, he just turns to march over to the fire circle to begin the task. Griff digs in, though the work itself will be slow, the ground hard and packed firm over years and years. Lou shifts, but only slightly as if he was needing a change in position to relieve a numbing leg or something of the sort.

Kalixi, taking her job very seriously, lumber-hops over to the blanketed lump of Lou, and plunks herself down beside him. "Arh, hallo," she rasps, as though noticing him as she'd gone to sit down. If allowed, she will flump her fuzzy bulk against him with neither pomp nor ceremony. Just a pile of lump and care, here for a friend.

There is no protest from Lou at Kalixi flopping up against him, and he even shifts to accommodate her a bit, half pulling ottermom into the blanket of solitude to be tented beneath it with him. His voice, no less musical in it's fluting tones was certainly quieter, and a bit hollow sounding, "Hello, a chara." A sigh, the hollows of his cheeks a bit thinner since the ordeal in Brighton, "What brings you out here on such a mediocre day?" Oh, but the sweet cheeriness had drained out of lovely, and indeed he was quite blatantly in that funk like Griff ascribed to him.

"Well I was gonna finally set a rock ring around yon fire place, but seems as if yer boy be doin' such for me, so it struck me I ought to set me old bones here for a rest. Ye just happen to be here as well, aye?" Kalixi rasps, as though it were pleasant small talk, and moves to snuggle her big warm fuzzy self up to her elven pal. "Thank ye for the blanket, it be gettin' cold. These old bones..." Like she'd need a blanket.

Luthais curls his arm around Kalixi, not shy of the closeness, and for a moment it's as if the outside world simply does not exist. The sounds of Griff's work are muffled enough, not that it was a particularly noisy job yet, and the bubble of warmth drapes over the gravestone to create a little bit of a fort, "I'm tired too." He mumbles, reaching out with his other hand to run his fingers over the faded lettering carved into the headstone, his eyes lifting to the inscription he'd read time and time again, "I think I felt her. There. In that place."

Well, she's trying to be flippant, as she always is, can't make a fellow feel bad by making a holy fuss, but, a gravelly little 'awwr' escapes the ottermom, and she reaches to squeeze his hand with her tough little paw. "Aye, well," she finally says, after covering a small sniff with a couple of little nose-flaps. "Seems to be a leaky spot, between the world of the livin' and... elsewhere. Or... it be a fair haunting, little roots reachin' to the soft places in our spirits, aye. Coulda been either, though, me expertise be from birth to death, and no farther."

The squeeze of hand is met by a thumb absently brushing over the stubbier knuckles of Kali's little fuzzy digits, "Maybe both." Few people could know how much the dead factored into Lou's life, for that in particular was not a skill he advertised for one reason or another. But in this moment, there was more for Kalixi to learn in this state of vulnerability. A few deep breaths in, the harsh breaths shuddering out as he shifts his gaze down to his feet, "I used to see her here." His habit of coming here so frequently, of speaking to a grave that could not possibly hear and understand him? Perhaps all that made so much more sense in focus now, "Eventually she just faded away and never came back."

"Well, if we sees her, we'll tell her to get her spirit arse back here for ye, Lovely," Kalixi soothes in her little gravel voice. "I've no haunts meself, so I can carry her just fine, aye?" Kalixi croons, tiny raspy guttural syllables, half lullaby, half sea shanty. "Let the high tide sing a sweet lullaby, when morning shall come we'll be sailing... ye've charted the waters from here to the island, where ye'll go tomorrow nobody can say, but where-ever ye go, ye won't sail alone, for always with ye I be sail-ing..."

Luthais falls quiet for a moment, but soon his head bobs left and right in a denying shake, "No. No, she doesn't need to come back here. She needs to move on. Like she had, before being dragged back." Lovely's lips purse, bottom lip sucked in and chewed upon gently in a near unseen gesture, "I can't be selfish like that." A suckling breath pulls past his lips, his hand grasping around Kalixi's a bit more tightly, "Let her go."

"Aaahhaa, I sees," Kali muses. "If that be what ye like, I shall tell her straightaway to go into the light, an' if any force be holdin' her here, well." Some rough, thoughtful noises follow. "...suppose we can hove that flashy wizard at it until it changes its mind. If we finds her, I shall tell her meself that ye wishes her to pass on. I promise, aye?"

Luthais offers a nod, slow and steady while his eyes squinch shut, "Thank you." He offers shakily, harsh sniffles and sharp breaths taken for several minutes before he seems to calm, "... what is even up with that guy? He-" Lou shudders. If nothing else, much like his friends, he found Tade annoying to an extreme, and intrusive of personal space, "He's weird."

"Aye, he -is- flogging weird, and he comes near ye again I may just bite him," Kalixi rasps, a little rumbling undernote of growl present. "Yet another reason why ye ought be staying home the next time we venture out. Boy will no doubt tag along, and perhaps be helpful, but so help me one more person treats ye like a toy and I may just start puttin' torch to things, I swears it, an' it has been decades since I done such." There is some rummaging, and she comes forth with a little clean folded kerchief from one of her forelimb pouches. Shake off the fur there... and she offers it. "Ye've got a little dust from the wind up here, it seems."

Out of Character Chester Inn Atria 06:35 PM 28 May 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Chester Inn is hardly a place of luxury accommodations, the interior fairly spartan. The available rooms reflect this, with creaky, thin mattressed beds, rickety side tables and threadbare blankets. Part of the lower floor has been sectioned off into a restaurant for guests and locals alike to gather in, often serving fish done in a variety of preparations, though various types of other meats are available depending on what can be found at market. It's an open secret that often the rooms of the Chester Inn are used to make back-room type deals.


A clink of crockery, a muffled rusty barking, and the distinct sound of tail scraping along wood floor heralds Kalixi's return to Luthais' room. She's got tea, proper tea, brought over properly from the cache of the ottermom's favorite young knight's gift of said proper tea. There are also a couple of biscuits, stacked in a cracked ramekin with a little bit of precious honey at the bottom. "Here we be," she rasps, "Told yer I'd be right back, yarh." Seriously, she must have clambered down the side of the building with the speed at which she returned.

Considering he hadn't moved, Luthais was the easiest to find. You didn't even need to look for the blanket lump, since the blanket had been left on the bed in light of the fire's warmth. Lou was not so well put together at the moment as he usually was, however, his clothing a rumpled mess of bedclothes and his hair tousled and unkempt. Absently his fingers, index and thumb, were running over the wedding ring on the ring finger of the opposite hand. A twitch of a smile, "Cathleen snuck in while you were gone."

Oh, momma doesn't like that. "Oh did she now," Kalixi rasp-growls, her ears going flat as she lumbers over to find somewhere to put the tray down. "What did she take, then?" The room is cast a critical eye. "Little codswallop."

There's surfaces everywhere from small tables to the dresser, cabinets and the mantle, but much of it was taken up by mementos and little curios Lou had collected over the years. A little side table though - she'd likely find enough space there, even if something or other had to be set aside, "Nothing. She gave me a necklace instead." His lips purse, gaze drifting down to his lap where, beneath the cover of his palm, the necklace rested, "She didn't stay. Obviously."

"Harrrumph!" No love lost, there. Kali shuffles the tray around and finally decides to nest the tea and biscuits on the side table, minus the tray. "Why'd she give you that, then? Be it cursed, or stole? Might praps she be apologizin' for near draggin ye by the collar into the muck like a hound dog?"

Luthais shakes his head slightly. His hair shifts, and it does nothing to alleviate his unkempt appearance, "I'm not sure." A momentary glance is sliced towards the tea and biscuits before crystalline blue shifts back to regards the flickering, dancing flames of the hearth, "She mumbled something about finding it in the mist."

"Hrrrrrn." Lots of grumbly thoughtful noises from Kali today. She stirs the tea, purposefully wafting the fancy smell of it over. There is some more huffing and puffing, thoughtful, peevish, then thoughtful again. "Well," she finally rasps. "Be it... familiar to ye?"

Again Luthais shakes his head, "Not at all." With a curl of his fingers rasping against the fabric of his pajama pants, he grasps the pendant on it's surprisingly undamaged chain and holds it up for Kalixi to see. A wand point pendulum, the crystal is a cloudy purple that's faceted rather than rounded with a wide bottom that narrows into a stubby point, while the upper two thirds taper off into a thin point secured by the fluted metal work of a semi-decent jeweler. A small loop allows the chain through, the length enough that the pendant would rest just below the collar bone, "Maybe she thought it would be useful."

There is a long exhale, equal parts relief and exasperation, that ruffles Kalixi's whiskers mightily. "Well, as long as it be not cursed, or reminiscent of..." Her nose seals itself, briefly. "...ones past." Ahem. "Come on now, have a sip of this tea, it be the good tea, Count Fancy's adorable knight give it to me. T'will be powerful for what ails ye."

Luthais reaches over to put the pendant on the table closer to Kalixi, then takes the tea. There is a brief grimace, though to what end is unspoken, "You should take it with you." Surely were it cursed, it couldn't be passed so easily from one to another? There is some small spark of joy to be found in the warmth of a cup of tea in one's hands, and a faint glimmer of that reflects in Luthais' eyes. He sighs, and takes a sip, "When are you going next?"

Kalixi pinches the chain of the pendulum between her claws, and settles in to scrutinize it with both the suspicion of a hedge witch and the greed of a pirate. "Hnnnn..." she rumbles tinily at it. "Eh? Ah. We be nearly prepared, many arcane supplies be needed and we be relyin' upon yon Count Fancy, as he be an honest elf, if a bit fussy." Metal 'tink's against her claws as she pokes at the pendulum. "Smell good, don't it? I pinched the littlest bit of mint in it, to raise ye up."

"It does smell nice." Another grimace though, and it seemed perhaps prompted by mention of Vaelyn, "What sorts of supplies? Do you need more bundles?" Luthais drowns whatever that grimace might mean in tea, and when the mug is half empty and the warmth has settled in his belly he sets the tea cup aside to fold his hands back into his lap.

"Ooh, yes, that would be most appreciated, would very much like to have some more bundles. The more options we have, the better off we shall be, methinks," Kalixi rasps, taking the tea cup and putting it on the tray. "Erm, some powders, methinks, to put on a torch? Or weapons? Young Ulfarr knows what to do with them." She then picks up the ramekin with its two biscuits. "Share a biscuit with me, Lovely?"

A devilishly sneaky perfect sharing amount of biscuits. How can Lou say no? He reaches to take one, honey drizzles instantly sticking up his fingers, a brief flash of a smile the result even if at this moment it's fate is to fade quickly midst all the inner turmoil the 'elf' was facing, "Hmm. Hopefully this round goes better than the last. I wish I could go with you."

"Noo," Kali says, the sound half worry and half a mother's order. "It pained ye greatly last time, and that whole mess was too damned close to losin' ye. It sits poorly with me to this day." She picks out her own biscuit with the claws of her free hand, and snaps up the honeyed end, grinding it up in her fangy jaws before grooming the loose honey droplets out of her whiskers. "I like it not, neither Tade's interest in ye nor Cathleen's besides." The rest of the biscuit is snuffled carefully. "Not that I owns ye either but ye be family and that be differnt."

Cathleen he had a different view of that surely was more kind than Kalixi, but Tade? That pursed his lips, crumps of biscuit stark upon them only to be plucked away by the sweep of his tongue a moment later, "I think he's just starved for attention." That was perhaps being too kind. Too kind indeed. Thoughtfully he takes another bite of biscuit, "Boys tell me he's downstairs drinking every night. Never seems to get sick. It's strange, even the best of us go a bit too far with that sometimes."

"Boy didn't even flinch when he was beggin' young Ulfarr for a kiss an' I pulled me horrible smooch face," Kalixi rasps. "I know not what he be, but trouble. For certain." She gnaws another chunk off the biscuit. "Him, him I be keepin' away from ye. A folk that mad knows not the difference between a person an' a piece o furniture, no good can come of it. I'd bite the lout but I be unsure it would deter him. Praps he will haul off when this is done with, an' if not, there's always the cliff."

"That's... not surprising." Luthais' lips turn down a bit at the though of smooching with Tade and shakes his head a moment later to clear it, "He's just all around... odd." Lou had no other way to describe it, and you met all sorts in Ellischester so when someone like Tade came along and even the locals were thinking a man was strange - well surely that man was strange, no two ways about it.

"Not a worry, Lovely, I'll not be having anyone mishandling ye, great wizard or no," Kalixi declares, in her little rusty voice, as she gnaws the everloving daylights out of the rest of that poor biscuit. "But enough about snake-eyed jiggamarabbles, how be ye feeling? That cursed land sapped ye something awful. Gave us a proper scare, it did."

Luthais is naturally more delicate about the way he goes about finishing off his biscuit, but crumbs still flow no matter how one tries, "I'm ok." He tilts his head a bit, and once the crumbs and honey has been licked from his fingers, reaches for the remainder of his tea, "It was just... overwhelming." This, of course, was a blatant understatement of the effect it all had on him.

Kalixi makes a few thoughtful noises before finishing off her biscuit and nosing around in the ramekin for any remaining honey bits. "It seemed overwhelmin, aye. Like chokin on smoke. Not a good way to be. But I am glad ye be recoverin'." She settles back to lick the ramekin clean, carefully but without self-consciousness. "If ye needs anything at all, ye know I will bring it. Can't have ye fallin' away from us now, that just won't do. Not at all." Hrrumph.

There is a brief laughter but it is hollow and quiet, "You already bring me so much. The boys are going to get jealous." Not that they actually would, but at least a small joke could be made. Luthais sips more slowly at what remains of his minty, fancified tea, "Are the kids doing okay?"

"Aye. Vivi be unhappy that she missed the adventure, of course. My Jace be thankfully unawares of anything wrong, bless him, an' well Nicholas was rude and kept gettin' tobacco ash all over the food again," Kalixi muses, watching Luthais with a nurse-mother's eye over the snack ramekin. "We have not talked of Cathleen, yet. She be all right. Disappointing, and it may still come to fighting, but she be alive and that be the important thing. One can return from foolishness but not from death, aye?"

Shoulders hunch a little bit. Perhaps not to full effect, but Nicholas' adoration for Cathleen was practically there for everyone to see despite the lad's best efforts. Luthais had seen it, surely Kalixi had as his ottery mom, "That's not going to be an easy conversation, I don't think. Still, he should be grateful she's still alive. Who knows what she could have gotten caught by on her own."

"The mango tree woulda caught her," rasps Kalixi matter-of-factly, setting the ramekin down on the tray and stretching her clawed toes out. "Ah well. Likely as any she's already told him I be terrible, and he's still about, so the talk will come when it can. Praps after this mess is all through. Or he will tell her I ain't terrible and she'll have to swallow it." Her tone is light, but her tail lashes back and forth. Momma be pissed.

Soon enough Luthais lifts his shoulders in a bit of a shrug. This whole interpersonal set of affairs was out of his hands, and he wasn't in any state to deal with it on any deep level anyways, "Did you end up finding out anything else of use despite all that?" Naturally he has not been present for the remainder of that semi-doomed first expedition.

"Oh aye, found some runes, an also a book that the Count be investigatin'. We be trying to suss if somethin' bad come upon the school and they tried to summon some manner of spirit to defend themselves, or if... the summon was what be the thing that went bad. We be mostly thinking the latter, so what we be facing may indeed be the summon gone wrong," Kalixi drawls, settling into a more comfortable position with a wide, fangy yawn. "So, get some folks together, find the er, -thing-, hopefully strike it down, and then the spirits be set free. Not sure where the tree comes in with this, like, except maybe to lure the living in to be drained out by the dead, as it were, or the bad summon. Honestly I rather leave that to the smarter folk, I shall wave herbs at the spirits an do me best to keep everyone from joinin' em."

The smile is weak - Luthais was not quite qualified to deal with magics of this scope either, and neither was he particularly prepared to take big threats head on like some of the other folk on this expedition, "I certainly hope we strike it down and get rid of the ghosts in the process." His chin droops, legs pulling up so he can hang his heels on the edge of the chair and rest chin to knees, arms wrapped around them, "I feel like being there... made an opening in me. Now all the spirits here won't let me rest."

Kalixi's jaws clack together as she chitters with sudden irritation. The nerve of those spirits! "Well, ye should come stay at the Refuge, then, as it's been sealed up good, by yer own hard work besides. We even have ourselves a Liminal apprentice on hand to haul off any that manage to make it in. When we go off again, our Count Fussy shall ward that end of town more strongly, just in case. We can't have ye bein' chawed on by the devil's arsehole when ye should be sleeping."

Luthais goes through a bit of facial turmoil as he hems and haws internally about Kalixi's offer to stay at the refuge, but ultimately he shakes his head, "You don't want the boys swarming the place with worry." This was surely in part an excuse, inkling of truth or not to what he said, "You don't need to make the Count take care of me while you're away." Gently Lou starts to sway a bit from side to side, nothing more than a soothing motion. He blinks, tiredness stinging at his eyes and enticing his gaze to droop back down and stare towards the fire, "He'll have enough to do, surely."

This elicits a colorfully-pitched snort from the ottermom. "I wouldn't! Also ye know Vivi wouldn't let anyone else look after her godpater. Nothin' to be even questioned for it." Kali hoots, then, with a little amusement. "Then the boys'll be put to work, place'll be cleaner'n it's ever been when I gets back, aye? This be sounding like a better plan by the moment." There is a long pause, as she looks the 'elf' over keenly with her olive-dark eyes. "Praps I should tuck ye in and we can argue it more in the mornin." Regardless of the answer, she hauls herself to her feet to start tidying the bed up. "I can stay again, if ye doesn't think it'll make the boys jealous. Heh heh."

Bed certainly sounded better and better, and it *definitely* sounded better than trying to argue with Kalixi at the moment about the matter of accommodations and who was taking care of who. There is a glance towards the tea cup but all vestiges had long since been sipped away and it's left where it rests on the side table. Slowly the 'elf' unfurls and with his feet solidly on the ground, Luthais stands to shuffle over to the bed, "Probably jealous either way. Jealous I get a snuggle buddy." Because friendly affection in a place like Ellischester was a rare thing indeed.

"That be out of respect for ye delicate constitution and the fact that ye carried me pregnant belly and all to the beach when the labors struck me," Kalixi proclaims, in the tsundere manner in which most affections in this hardscrabble corner are given, even though she'll cuddle the much larger fellow as though he were her own pup given half the chance. Few if any maternal instincts in the known realms can challenge that of the Vydra, after all.

Surely only folk who had lived in this ass backwards end of the continent with it's sub-tropical climate could still find any bit of chill in late spring, but here they were. Lou was definitely not forsaking the blanket as he crawls into bed, burrowing under both a duvet and a much rattier looking, hand-knit affair from some days long past, "Mmm." He murmurs, sinking into pillow and mattress alike with an arm outstretched in invitation.

Kalixi scrabbles herself on to the bed with all of the grace of an otter out of water, putting herself over at least one blanket because she is a giant floof and will cook if she is under both. Her stubby paw goes to grasp the outstretched hand. "There ye be, sleep well, I be keepin' ye safe."


Harbour of Refuge Atria 07:24 PM 31 May 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wide and spacious, the soup kitchen takes up the lower floors of what used to be two separate residences. The brickwork inside is partially exposed, though not for any aesthetic reasons, and the evidence of reinforcements and repairs over the years can be seen all over in newer plaster work as well as supportive beams made of younger, sturdier wood, while others show their age and the wear and tear of a harsh climate. The back wall has been taken up by a large hearth with racks for roasting, hooks for pots and a clay oven for baking bread. Further along the back wall is a window which peeks out at the distillery equipment kept in a small walled yard accessible through a nearby door, as well as cupboards for storing dishes, tools and dry goods. Long, sideboard like tables make up makeshift counters for serving, daily lined with large pots filled with whatever the day's fare may be, doled out by volunteers. Much of the space is taken up by mismatched tables and chairs, with similarly mismatched table cloths for the patrons to sit at. Light filters in through two windows at the front, to the left side of the door, and in the darker hours, comes from above from lanterns hung on sturdy chains. What hints of decoration there is scattered about are largely nautical in theme, prized ship parts salvaged from shore as well as strings of collected shells, polished to a sheen. In the far, back left corner is a stairway leading upwards to a landing with a door, the upper floor serving as the proprietor's residence.


Ulfarr entered the Refuge after a day of 'loitering' the streets of Elichester. Keeping an eye on things, being friendly where he could. Save for Cathleen and did he have news about her. Once he crossed the threshold he called out. "Ah. Kalixi. Lord Rillek? I found out a few odd things from Cathleen that may help us. Or not."

Kalixi pokes her head into the main room from the back yard. "Eh? Ruddy second person come to talk to me about Cathleen, ye'd think she were avoiding me fer some incomprehens'ble reason." There's some rustling and clunking and the ottermom waddles back inside, drying her paws on a raggedy scrap of cloth. "What be 'er contribution ta ye, then?"

The Lord was sitting by the fire today - unusual for how he usually wanted to avoid any excess heat, but perhaps a bit of the damp had gotten to him today. An ear perks at Ulfarr's entrance, brow raising as he speaks, "I cannot say I find it easy to believe there is anything helpful she could possibly offer."

A grin briefly flashed across Ulfarr's features, before he moved to Vaelyn's side beside the fireplace. "Well. In her own way I think she wanted to try to be helpful to prove she's not all that bad. Desperate for validation and love like any orphan." He'd drawl out, giving kinder words that still held the edge of disapproval.Orphans? Have feelings. They shouldn't. "She found a collapsed house though. Had a carnivorous plant in it, except it was somehow warped. I assume by the same thing in Brighton. There were bones and such. Perhaps they had the same blue glow. I don't know. As well as conveniently placed ash piles which are perhaps people. Sad thing is she had no idea where this house is. So checking...will be fun."

"She give a pendulum she found to Lovely, an' he give it to me, so I soaked in the ocean overnight an' now am hangin' it out in the sun," Kalixi rasps, her whiskers bristling as she crinkles her nose. "If she be wantin' to prove she ain't all that bad, she ought to stop shrillin' at us for helpin and get to work like a part of the team instead of some chapped-arse loner who don't need nobody, even if she -do-." Chuff. "So we've... another evil plant, an... she don't know where. Belphegor's ballsack, what be we to do with -this-, then?"

Vaelyn purses his lips. Orphans indeed have feelings they should not. A conspicuous glance is passed Ulfarr's way, but there were differences dealing with a mid-teen compared to an adult. Adults were unreasonable and stubborn, "I would not set expectations any higher than middling, at *best*, in regards to her. She is inconsistent in her behaviour simply *speaking* to me." Hands folding in his lap, one finger taps against the knuckle of another in thought, "Why... did you soak the pendant in the ocean, Kalixi?"

Another flash of the grin on Ulfarr's face. Gone as quick as it came. They were all doing the roasting of Cathleen for him. "Tragic." He says. But he approves of Vaelyn's question. "Also it is likely in Brighton - or rather around it. Should've been specific. Somewhere along the wall...of Brighton." So a fair area to search. "Also there's a Rat King in the sewer. Well, it may be one. It might not be. But nobody even knows precisely what a Rat King should be. But...a giant swarm of rats on one giant rat. That qualifies for something." He'd give a lofty shrug. "Whether that has anything to do with the - uh - was it a nature spirit they tried to summon? I am not sure."

Kalixi cocks her head at Vaelyn like he's just asked her a silly question. "Ta cleanse it, o'course, Fancy, I mean it ain't scribin runes in silver or the like but the salty sea be quite fair at scrubbin' the ill will outta something. All we needs now is a full day worth of sun," at this the otter snorts, comically, "An' it be clean as when it were first wrought. Whenever that was, an' for whyever it was." Her earflaps swivel, and then flatten. "Rat. King. How many things be goin' wrong in or aroun' Brighton at once? Ain't enough hours in the day at this rate fer us to tidy 'em all, narh."

There is a squint. It is a very particular squint. Surely Ulfarr would recognize this look of 'that's very quaint', often reserved for the odd ideas of less educated folk. This is one of those times. It's a polite squint to be sure, but a squint none-the-less. Vaelyn was a master of quiet, polite dismissal of foolish ideas. He doesn't comment, this is part of the routine. Rather he looks towards Ulfarr, dipping his head, "I do believe that is what they *attempted* after some study of what was legible still. Regardless it was foolish to even try. I have never known of a case where one's summoning went to plan, and it is why it is a magic we simply do not pursue. I truly question what it is they were teaching at the height of that academy's time."

Ulfarr's gaze met Vaelyn's squint. No comment is being made on quaint little people practices. More important matters anyway. "Perhaps to push 'boundaries'. Not that that's wise in most cases. But we may not have to necessarily deal with the Rat King. It's in the sewers and this house Cathleen found is likely much more viable to investigate. As well as the academy again. If we're properly prepared we can split up appropriately too."

Kalixi just squints right back at the Count. Clearly she's picking up that SOMETHING is brewing under that fussy politeness. "Sure, ye've likely got better ways with yer pointy ears and fancy airs, but we ain't the time to cork it up yer fancy arse, so in the ocean it had to go," she rasps, plodding over to grab a broom and clear the hearth area up a bit, never a free moment here to ponder academies and rat king armies and everything else on top of ministering to the aged and infirm of Sagcoln's armpit. "Pah. Fancy schools an' all they manner to come up with is how ta make somethin' blow the town to scrap an' shards? Plenty of things already in this world that be plenty able an' willing to do that. Ye gets too smart, it goes wrap around to damn foolish, like."

"That is... rather misguided. It is not knowledge, it is the ones who abuse it. That is a problem with *people*, one which we do not need knowledge to see." Exibit A: Ellischester. "It is a tool, no different than any other tool." Evidently, while stated calmly, Vaelyn had strong opinions when it came to education. A soft sigh, "You realize, Kalixi, that as a man of the church it is an aspect of my job to clense that which needs to be clensed, and it would have taken much less time than a night in the ocean, and shared no risk of being washed away." Again, he purses his lips, a slight shake of his head following.

Ulfarr pulled a much more gentle smile now as he looked to Kalixi. "It is as the Count says. We would be happy to help even if it's just cleaning a pendant. It is only fair of us to earn our keep. Even beyond this we will still think of you and what you may need." Almost sickeningly sweet. "But how do you -feel- Kalixi. About us splitting up. I feel time is running out and we need to bring this to a close...there is also the fact there don't seem to be that many violent dangers in Brighton."

"Aye, well, the land, sky an' sea be me church, an any Vydra worth their salt knows how no to wash anythin' away in the waves, ye'll find," the ottermom rasps pleasantly, stopping to get the wiry hearth brush out and tidy the ash and coals back into the firegrate proper. "Well, a place of knowledge without a gaggle o' *people* be just, well, a library. How often do one hear about a -library- blowin a shit to shit, aye?" Kalixi coughs a few little rusty chuckles, poofing out her whiskery lips in a comical echo of the Count's gesture. Then, she squints at Ulfarr. "Errrrrrum. I don't terrible care for it, just because it be a flogging misty maze fulla traps for the eye and mind. But ye be right, time be shorter than me underhairs about now, an' well it's certainly makin' folks unsettled and in at least one case unwell, which I cannt be standin' for."

Vaelyn Rillek raises a brow, "You may be surprised at how many libraries have, in fact, exploded." He was not particularly impressed with the idea a Vydra would never lose anything in the Ocean, lips flattened a bit. This patch of Ocean especially, "I am here to give aid just so much as Ulfarr is, much as you might prefer him." Vaelyn stands and for a moment he stretches before meandering off to the upstairs where his effects were. A bit of quiet rummaging might make it's way down to their ears before he reappears again, a few vials of some strangely glittering pale, silvery liquid inside of them. There's enough for one for each person in the adventuring party, except Tade.

With a nod to Kalixi, Ulfarr looked to Vaelyn. "Then it is settled. A pair to try to find the house Cathleen found. And another pair for the academy." His eyes soon caught the vials. "Ah. Are those for helping see what isn't there?"

"Well, he be NICER than ye are, only stands to reason he be me favorite," Kali shoots back, amused, before rolling her olive-dark eyes over to Ulfarr. "I be sure he knows, it, too. But don't yer worry about me doin' what I do, that be always. Ye be a wonderful help regardless, and I assure ye, if I needed some help, I'd ask for it easy like. Not gonna ask ye all to warsh something come out of who knows where an' gonna go in me pouch anyways." She idly lifts a hind leg to scratch her midsection. "So... that be, you an somebody an me an somebody, no doubt." Her ears flatten when she looks at the bottles. "Do we even want to think about what might be invisible out there?"

There is a mildly derisive snort offered towards Kalixi before he nods to Ulfarr, offering the vials across to him, "In the case of dealing with matters of spirits and phantoms, it may be of particular use. One can never say for certain, but it is better to be prepared." The little details of their plan he left to them, as he wasn't going into Brighton himself. His seat is reclaimed, "I did not find aught in particular about the arm you brought, so we shall plan to bury it with proper rights. As for that ring... I believe it is a mere trinket. It seems to react to warmth." Which... no wonder it didn't react when the Count held it.

Ulfarr internally cringed. Though he said naught on the matter. Lest it continue. Ulfarr took the vials, and handed one to Kalixi. "How unusual. But - er - I shall take Lophostri." After all, it was his job to take hits for the team. "Actually. How are the stakes and rope coming along?"

"We be well supplied now, with stakes an' rope, since our nice salvage mission. So, well, I suppose that means we be prepared, now all we've got to do is be... ready to go back out there." Kalixi rasps, growing quiet towards the end. It was very obvious that this was a thing that -had- to be done, as opposed to something one -wants- to do. She flexes her toes, claws scratching against the floor. Look, a change of subject! "Ooh? Let me see the ring, if it's only on warmth it'll sure light up for me, aye?"

Vaelyn Rillek reaches into his hip pouch - a thing nearly always on his hip, handy as it was. The ring is retrieved, and a hand extends for Kalixi to take it from him, "You have the last of our dragon bone powder and holy water as well." He need not say it: use it wisely. "I cannot say for certain why it's glow might be more dull than it had been when Ulfarr first found it, but perhaps there is some silly meaning behind the colours?"

Ulfarr's shoulders rolled in a shrug. "Ah. Who knows. At least after all this we can have cake and play games with the ring. Maybe it's colour reflects your mood or something ridiculous." Mood Rings Fantasy Version. "I'll be glad to have some proper food. No offence Kalixi."

Kalixi cups the ring between her pawpads and peers intently at it, whiskers forward. "None taken, we rarely gets cake here. Although where ye intends to find cake, that I don't..." An earflap swivels. "...aah. It means, perhaps, that ye be taking yer leave after this, then? Well, that'd be a sad day, but well, Ellischester ain't a place ye stays unless ye must, eh?"


Hafston Street Atria 06:11 PM 04 June 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A short residential street, Hafston ventures south but also connects westwards, leading into a small alleyway that travels between houses and shops. A twisted garden gate can be found along this street, the warping leaving just enough space to squeeze through into the garden, and the house the garden belongs to can be seen looming further to the south.


The going had been slow, perhaps, but eventually with a trail of rope and stakes left in their wake, Kalixi and Tade have found their way to, presumably, the correct house. The garden comes into view as the pair wind their way from the north, the fog betraying a sense of direction as they'd wandered the streets. Of course this had been a most merry-making of journeys! How could it not with a brightly smiling Tade chattering at one's side? Why look at that shadow over there. Ohhh, isn't that window broken in a funny way? Oh and what's that figure in the fog?

"Oi oi," Kalixi hiss-whispers, having been downright taciturn during most of this trip, upon discovering that in volunteering Lophostri to go with Ulfarr for safety, that left her with the powerful - or powerfully irritating, Great Wizard Tade. "What -is- that figure in this cursed fog? Hush a breath until we can tell if it be friend or foe, aye?"

After a moment of staring, during which Tade is blessedly silent, the figure in the mist disperses and vanishes, nothing more than an illusion it would seem. A trick of the fog. Tade rocks back onto his heels, holding his staff horizontally across his back, "Nothing, seems like!." A slow whistle escapes his pursed lips as he takes in the outer wall of the garden, with it's twisted iron gate. Even at a glance it looks jammed, but there still seems to be a gap one might be able to squeeze through, "Sooo, what did Cathy say she saw?"

Kalixi utters a rather strong snort, temporarily displacing the fog in her general area. "A twisted plant, maneater, seems if. Bones and such." Grunt. She starts nosing around the gap in the gate, hiking up her 'clothing,' which seems to be for all purposes the equivalent of canvas waders that a human might wear to stay dry, complete with little suspenders. Although hers seem to be more for keeping her from stepping on/in something hazardous. "Not clear if they was blue an aglow." As every smart creature does, she uses her whiskers to get a better spatial understanding of the gate and whether squeezing through would be possible or a tragically comical episode of being stuck.

The nose knows, and so do the whiskers as they seem to indicate Kalixi would have a decent chance of squeezing through without issue. Tade might have to contort a bit, but he was a thin one, "Have you ever seeeeen a maneater before?" Chirps Tade, not wholly helpful in his questioning. If Kalixi squeezes through, naturally he will follow.

"Aye, seen plenty of maneaters, Great Wizard," Kalixi rasps, quietly, scooting her assorted pouches around as she moves to wriggle through the gate. "Of land, of sea, of sky. If it walks, flies, swims, or creeps, it has to eat, aye?" If she makes it inside, she'll readjust her pouches and have a cautious look around, hand on the hilt of her Vydra-sized cutlass, standing back so that Tade can also get inside.


Once ordered and well kept, the carefully manicured symmetry of the garden was lost long ago, and what remains now is a mess of overgrown plant life, some of which looks rather ominous. A once pretty well near the kitchen door is now wrapped in thick vines with dire looking thorns as large as small dagger blades, the lid which kept the water clean cracked but somehow still intact. Bushes have grown wildly, and while it is possible to forge a path through, it is not easy. The center of the garden where the centerpiece of the collection once stood is now home to a mass of twisted vines which while bulkier at the base, rise up in a thinner column to be topped with a massive flower with pink petals mottled with violet. There is a twisted and warped gate which leads back onto Hafston street, and while it is closed, there is enough warping that it can be squeezed past.


As expected, Tade needs to contort himself in a rather snakelike fashion to get through, and as he does the ruby snake they were all familiar with by now, slithers up the twisted gate and onto the top of the cobbled stone wall. There Syvis rests, surveying the scene below. There is barely a path to be found amongst all the overgrown foliage, and even the one Cathleen had blazed in her escape seems to have nearly vanished once more, consumed by plants. Above it all, in the center, the immense pink, violet mottled flower of the central feature can be seen, making an easy marker as one navigates through the overgrowth. Once squeezed through, Tade stands behind Kali and slightly aside, staff stabbed into the bush ahead of them; a blackberry bush it looks like, though all the berries are withered and sad.

Kalixi looks up... and up, and up. "...well," she finally whispers. "If any thing here be suspect..." She points a claw at the huge plant, follows its massive thorny vines through the garden, over to the cracked wellhead. "If I be right... aye, look, that bush before us be dyin', and I wager elsewise in this garden be dyin' as well. Watch ye step, touch nothing, eat nothing, move careful, as though ye be hunted. Because we may as well be." An end of some of their guide rope is tied to the garden gate. "Hold fast, it may be still, but it may -not- be, and I fear fire here might light us all up in turn, aye?"

"Okaaaaaay." Tade offers with surprising agreeability, staff tapped gently back against his shoulder to lean. It manages to give him some sort of airs of delinquincy, "You just lead the way then, ok? Try not to get lost in the bushes too. You're soooo short." Not that Tade was much taller, but naturally he had to make a note of it.

"Well, if I was taller, none of me aprons would fit," Kali whisper-replies, matter of factly. She pulls an unlit torch from her pack and uses the stick end to poke gently around in the shrubbery. When she finds a point where branches will move, she passes a rope end to Tade, puts her earflaps to her head, and lumbers forward. "Spirits of earth, this be unnatural enough to curl me tailfur."

Something about that statement seems to bemuse Tade, his smile widened as he takes the rope and hunches down to plow through the undergrowth after Kalixi, "Well, there's a lot of funny things in the world. So what if it's perfectly natural?" As they travel along, vines start crossing their path. Unmoving for now, they seem to just be scattered throughout the rest of the growth

Kalixi chuffs, quietly. "Careful. Vines." She steps under one, over another, doing her very best not to touch them. Thankfully, being a long fuzzy sock with no qualms about walking on all fours. Every time she passes one, she points it out, and waits on the other side to make sure Tade makes it across safely. "If it be natural, then we can be pleasantly surprised, and all shall be well. If no, then we be ready for it, aye?"

Tade is deft at avoiding the vines himself, partially because he doesn't mind getting on hands and knees, but also for the same reason he squeezed through the gate just fine; the boy's flexible. Like a wiggly bean stalk, "Do you think something like Sagcoln is natural?" Oddly, he seems genuinely curious. The garden is not large, and soon enough the pair stumble upon a small - and by that it is meant *quite* small - clearing in which the mass of vines congregates, leading up to the crowning flower. Some of the vines seem cut, bruised and battered, but the monstrous flora seems otherwise intact.

"Was," Kali replies, her whisper growing ever thinner the closer they drew to the Great Flower, "...aint no more." Her nose flaps close, instinctively, for a moment or so before she dares to take another breath. "...if I had to guess, these breaks be from when she come through here... it be none the worse for wear, it seems." After some thoughtful humming and squeaking and rusty grumbling, she reaches into her forelimb pouch and pulls out the pendulum, looping the chain around her middle paw-finger and holding the paw out to let the cloudy crystal swing. "...all right, little feller, tell me if this be the place for ye, or elsewhere."

The pendulum does not sway any more than Kalixi's locomotion allows it. There's not a whisper of anything from the crystal, not a shimmer of light or a sense of energy. Whatever it may or may not be, there were no answers to be found for it here, "Wouldn't you be twisted too if you were suffering forever?" Tade asks, pausing for a moment to watch Kalixi with a bemused sense of curiosity, his head canted. Up onto his very tippy toes he goes, to peer beyond Kalixi at the bulky plant slumbering before them, "I don't think they match."

Kalixi takes no offense at the unresponsive stone. "Later then, it be all right," she murmurs to it, and tucks it back into her forelimb pouch. "Sagcoln -began- natural," she whispers, turning her attentions instead to the dirt around the great column of vines, scratching -away- from the rootmass to search for the bones Cath mentioned to Ulfarr. "T'was man's inter-ferrence what made it twist. Likely the same as the mango tree, and same as this here. Corruption be a sickness, and how much, we must wonder, comes from us?" Pause. "Well. Us as in all who walks on two legs'n speaks, like. Not us right here, saying."

"...ahh-ha," Kali rasps, more to herself than anything, and then swivels her head around to Tade as he peers over her shoulder. "Aye." Chuff. "It be the same." She pats the dirt back over it with a murmur of "Rest in peace, ye poor bastard," before straightening herself up. " Be on guard, we dun know what its manner of catch be. Suppose we ought see if we can't get through to the house? Praps there be something to know therein?"

It is very subtle, as the pair of them turn away from the vine mass to face the house, that the vines slowly begin to shift as if awakening from a great slumber. Cathleen's path through towards the house is in much the same state as the previous branch of it they had followed: not wholly consumed, but vanishing fast. Much like the other bushes, flowers and fruits are all withered alike, "There might be! There's no point in exploring if you're just going to skip places, right?" Tade nods at this, because he is sure this is very great wisdom and surely Kalixi should be rightfully awed.

Kalixi squints at the vines, briefly. Her ears flatten, and she utters a snort. "Aye. No sense. Quickly now, back through Cath's tracks. If she went through here like a wildebeest, it be recovering right quick." Following her nose and whiskers, the ottermom goes to lumber-hop towards the house, casting the occasional suspicious glance back towards Yon Great Flower.

A squint here, a squint there and Tade patters off after Kalixi, a tittering giggle lost to the wind as they pass. The door into the house leads through the kitchen, and hasn't been kindly treated by the way it's barely hanging by a hinge, and flapping against the back wall. The way into the house is clear, and a few passing swipes sweep by their feet, brushing too closely once or twice.

Kalixi does not at ALL enjoy the unwarranted movements anywhere near her feet, and at least once the reflexive clenching of her hind paws drives her claws through her little canvas booties. "Hssss!" she says, baring her teeth and instinctively putting herself between the path and Tade. What is she thinking? Who knows. "Clear to go inside??" she asks him, fur bristling and paw on the hilt of her cutlass.

"All clear!" Tade calls out as he prances past Kalixi and straight through the portal, "Come on then~" He singsongs as squinting eyes widen at the country style kitchen and dining combination room laid out before him. A slithering sound rustles the underbrush, seeming to rush towards Kalixi quickly.

Well, here goes nothing. The ottermom attempts to back into the kitchen, blind on her hind end because who knows what's headed at her front.

And right over some debris on the floor, to WHAM gracelessly onto her back. "Somethin-coming-sonofabitch!"

And up into Tade's grasp goes Kalixi, hauled under his arm like a fuzzy sack of potatoes. He dances back until his back hits one of the dining chairs at the dining table. This gives the both of them a clear view of the thick vine that whips out of the underbrush and slams down on the spot that Kalixi had occupied just moments before, writing and grasping at air. However the plant had detected them, it seemed either it no longer could trace their movements, or it's reach simply did not extend far enough as the vine retreats back to vanish in the foliage. A bit of laughter escapes Tade as he pitches his ruby gaze downwards to Kalixi, "Well that was close!" TEE HEE.

"FFF-FFF-FFF-FFF!" Kali hisses, bristling at the vine first, teeth bared, sputtering like a roiling teakettle. Hrnf. Hsss. Huff. Puff. Pause. Her olive-dark eyes look up at her rescuer. One lower lid twitches. "Thankye." Exhale. "Down."

Tade giggles, his fingers wiggle briefly as if to tickle at Kalixi before he leans down to set her solidly on her feet again, "That was exciting, wasn't it?" He chirps merrily as if life and limb hadn't been at risk just moments before. Whirling around, he turns to regard the dining table. It is set, covered in cobwebs and long since rotted food that's left only a bare trace. Some of the dust has been disturbed, most obviously where the bottle of wine had been moved from one spot to another. Beyond that, the chairs themselves seem to have little piles of dust upon them, though one has been knocked loose and half dumped on the ground from Tade bumping into it a moment earlier. He taps his staff to the ground before resting it, steadied by the grasp of one hand, "This all looks like everything happened really suddenly."

Kalixi sneezes. Chrrrf! Chff! Hfff! Once, twice, three times. "Augh. Hnf. Sure. Exciting, like. Well that be its true colors, like, at least. Now... fer. Augh. Why... so much dust?" She cranes her head to inspect the chairs, but not too closely. "Suddenly, but... damned long ago. Rest in peace, whatever remain of ye..." There's a murmur, and then a sigh. "...aye, sudden like. But what were they doin' here? What makes this place special enough to get its own... well, murder plant. The rest of them wither an die around it. Praps there be somethin' else here." She draws her cutlass, slowly, and holds it in a defensive position while she explores the common room, just in case something else wants to try and make dinner out of her. Her fur is still a-bristle, making her look about one and a half times her actual size.


Once ordered and well kept, the carefully manicured symmetry of the garden was lost long ago, and what remains now is a mess of overgrown plant life, some of which looks rather ominous. A once pretty well near the kitchen door is now wrapped in thick vines with dire looking thorns as large as small dagger blades, the lid which kept the water clean cracked but somehow still intact. Bushes have grown wildly, and while it is possible to forge a path through, it is not easy. The center of the garden where the centerpiece of the collection once stood is now home to a mass of twisted vines which while bulkier at the base, rise up in a thinner column to be topped with a massive flower with pink petals mottled with violet. There is a twisted and warped gate which leads back onto Hafston street, and while it is closed, there is enough warping that it can be squeezed past.


The upper floor of this home is completely inaccessible, the stairs caved in by a collapse of the roof some time ago. Some of the rooms on the lower floor have been affected as well, leaving only the main hall, through to the dining room and kitchen viable for exploration. Dust floats heavily in the air, only to get worse with any passage through the once ornate halls. A half eaten meal has been left on the dining table, by now withered into nothing but the dried husk-like remains of once rotting food, covered in a thick layer of dust and spider's webbing. Curious piles of dust are heaped on the chairs around the table. The kitchen is in a similarly strange state, with pots on the stove and food on counters clearly meant for meal preparation left to fade into this beyond decayed state. A large window in the kitchen overlooks a back garden, and a door leads out to it. There is an entirely unnatural chill within the house that lingers regardless of the warmth of the weather outside.


Tade reaches down with one hand to trail his finger through the dust, rubbing what he'd picked up between two leather clad pads, "Who can say, really. There doesn't seem to be a lot here besides a big murder plant, but maybe it's just coincidental. Magic's not as predictable as you'd all like to believe." He trots around Kalixi, giving a cursory glance to the cupboards, but there doesn't seem to be anything of particular interest inside of them besides dust, dishes and ancient bottles of wine and jars of preserved food, now rotted through the seals and turned after who knew how long being exposed to air. When he gets to the corridor leading through to the front of the house, he pokes his head through the frame and peers through the dusty darkness, "There really doesn't seem to be anything here. Syvis didn't think it was that important either."

"Nature," Kalixi rasps, crinkling her nose at the utter lack of -life- here, "Be not predictable, but it has patterns. Find the patterns and ye find the sense." She rumbles and grumbles around, looking for something that might be a clue as to why the big murder plant planted -here-. If not? Well, time to move on.

Besides the rare garden space in a town of close buildings and tight alleyways, there seems nothing of particular to indicate why there would be a giant murder plant in this spot specifically. The kitchen holds no clues, and the rest of the house besides the hallway and slice of front hallway is in no fit state to explore. Tade begins to meander down the hallway himself, his staff waved in gentle sways before him to clear the path of any cobwebs, "But magic makes those patterns moot. There's tons of magic here."

"Pah. Had we time, we could even make patterns out of what be NOT here, but..." Kalixi hisses between her pointy little teeth, and lumber hops to follow Tade. "Haven't got bloody time. This like of magic vexes me, it twists instead of bends. Cuts instead of flows. Hsss. Best try to find our way out, an' not through that thrice-damned garden."

There truly is very little left of the house to explore, and the front room is quite small, half the roof collapsed in and cutting down the space in which they can move. However, they make it to the door, and out into the front yard. While it is brighter outside, it is still gloomy and grey, and the time of day is impossible to tell with how everything is blanketed in that spectral fog, "I think we got the short end of the stick, Kaaaali." Tade offers, sparing a glance around the front yard. Syvis comes slitering around down the containing wall to rejoin the group. Smartly, she avoided the garden debacle entirely, as if she already knew what was there.


Hafston Street is narrower than the main thoroughfares which lead towards the town square, and seems to have been a largely residential street, with moderately sized, brickwork houses. One house stands out amongst them, though, larger and with more decorative elements than the others, likely once belonging to the dean of the magical academy. Glorious in it's hey-day, it now stands as a broken monument to what once was. The street curves up northwards.


"Oh, I will not argue with ye there," Kalixi grumbles, still keeping her rusty little voice quiet so as not to announce that there are snacks wandering the streets. Syvis gets a little squint. "Smartarse." The ottermom fusses over her fur and what passes for clothes for a moment, swiping off dust and cobwebs. She looks between the other houses and the house they just left. Her nostrils flare, seal, and then flare again. "Ey. Great Wizard," she rasps, looking again between the other houses and the dean's house. "Pattern."

Tade's eyes squint up at the house behind them as he turns to half face it, his gaze soo shifting left and right between the dean's house, and the other houses in the area, "Oh ho ho. Well, we still don't know what it means, but..." There's a but there, because maybe something will fall into place later. He looks up and down the street, peering at the fog in either direction. Syvis settles back onto his shoulders as he does so, flicking her tongue at Kalixi, "Uhh, I *think* we came from that way." He points north.

"Aye." Kalixi rasps in agreement. "It means... something. Hopefully later we'll get to find out -what-." She also peers up and down the street, and then looks at Syvis. "Oi, smartysnake, do -ye- know which way we came from? Well. More accurate, we should know which way we be goin. All signs point to that damned school, methinks. Which would be... aye, to the south. Towards the middle of town."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The well cobbled lane heads north from the gate, opening up to the city beyond. It's wide enough for several wagons or coaches, as well as pedestrians to travel, and lined with houses and shops which no longer house a single soul besides vermin. There is a well here which was clearly meant to serve this area, and the wooden lid meant to keep the water free of detritus is still intact, and the water within clean. Eerily, the evidence of every day life can be seen scattered around, as if the people who used them simply vanished; children's toys, buckets for water collection, clothing lines still hung with the tatters of clothing. While many doors don't seem to want to budge, there is one shop which can be entered, it's door hung open on loose hinges. Further up, Chesterel intersects with Hafston and Winrey.


Winrey road wends in charming, gentle curves through the shops and houses, eventually leading to the town square at it's northern tip. Back to the south it connects with Chesterel Lane, and Lavalter Street branches off from it heading west somewhere near the mid-point of the street. One of the more noticeable fixtures of Winrey is the tavern, it's sign, though faded and difficult to read, still hangs jutting out from the building, creaking on it's fixture whenever the wind passes through.


While once the tavern was a hub of socialization, it is no longer a place to relax with a pint. Rats can be seen frequenting the place, scavenging for nesting materials and food. Large oak barrels line one wall, and while some remain intact, any brew left inside is sure to have long since gone rancid. An open kitchen once provided food to the patrons, but the thick layer of dust is protest enough to it's lack of use, tiny paw prints cutting through it here and there. An unusual fixture, there is a water pump in the kitchen area. Many of the windows are broken, and through one at the back there can be seen a distillery area once used to brew the beers and meads that used to be served here. Dust covered tables are spaced out around the open area beyond the bar counter, though some chairs lay broken.


It could perhaps be of no surprise that a casual regrouping was not on the table when Tade quite abruptly had grabbed Kalixi's paw to drag her down the main street and right into a tavern. The why had been a mere, chirping 'Oh let's go over here!' as if the lanky, devious fellow had a bloodhound's nose honing in on some sort of trouble - or an adventure, if you asked him. When he finally stops they're in a dilapidated tavern, within which there wasn't, at first glance, much to be found besides broken furniture and rotting ale.

"Eh wha--" Kali barely has a moment to protest before she's dragged into the sad remains of the tavern. "Why would ye bring me... here? It smells of pisswater and rats' arses." She rasps, in a small voice that sounds like gravel being poured from one rusty bucket to another, rustier bucket, as she hikes up her rough canvas traveling overalls. This is accompanied by two paw shakes and an indelicate CHFF of a sneeze.

A tall, broad shouldered man with slicked jet black hair and mutton-chops mingling into a thin mustache edges slightly out of one of the darker shadows. "Come now, even after several months at sea, I did not think I smelled that bad..." He smiles in an inexplicably unsettling manner, turning slightly to look at a bottle of something most assuredly expired, revealing a scar on the left side of his face, running from brow to chin, "Even to one with such olfactory endowments such as you." "I am Nikolai Dragos." He said, bowing "I am here to find my... Let us say not entirely stable, cousin. Viktor is his name. Perhaps you have had the misfortune of meeting him?"

Tade gives Kalixi a bit of a 'told you so' smile and squint, as if he really did have a sixth sense for adventure. A few gestures to emphasize his point before the cheerful beanpole releases Kalixi's paw and marches towards Nikolai with a bounce in his step. He stops before the man, leaning up and closer to Nik's face, "Oooheee~" He murmurs, his smile wide and his voice pitched in a way that can only be described as annoying going on more annoying, "Look Kali! I found us a real tough looking guy." Tee hee. The tittering giggles start and stop all in the span of a breath before Tade whirls on the ball of one foot, grand cape flapping out behind him with a dissapointing whoosh. No wind in here to help that image, "Why, you guys kind of talk in the same funny way. Is this just how country folk talk around here?"

"Well this one's name ain't Viktor, but as ye can see, not entirely stable. Will he do? Granted, he's likely to drink ye dry. Also, handsy an' persistent," Kalixi rasps, after overcoming her brief bout of flat-eared and bristle-whiskered surprise at the man's sudden arrival. She takes her paw from the pommel of her small cutlass and un-frazzles her whiskers. "I be Kalixi, of the Silver Fang, and... this be Tade, and he be... a. Wizard. Of a fashion."

What passed for mirth before, disappeared in the blink of a dark eye, as he regarded the small, annoying man's own. They were similar to a snake's. Nikolai shifted his weight, on edge now, but doing his best not to show it. While the serpent was his family's seal and the crest on his own banner; he hated snakes. He also hated arrogant little in-landers, but that was beside the point. Not taking his eyes off of the small man, he addressed the otter. "He does not ehm, 'do', and you would know Viktor if you had encountered him. He has a taste for dead things. I have come to collect him before he brings trouble down upon his own head."

"Well!" Tade chirps, rocking back and forth from heel to toe with restless energy, "It's too bad there's nothing good to drink here." Not even a bottle of wine that might be salvagable. This was clearly a tragedy. Tade thought so, as was so clear by the wash of disappointment that swept over his face, briefly, so clearly the other two *must* be thinking the same as he was. He looked between them, sure to find confirmation of such a fact. Hm. Bad audience. No matter, "If anyone's found him-" Tade begins, twisting about to start marching around the room with no particular pattern, just flitting this way and that to poke at this and that, "-It's probably Ulfarr and Lophostri. Do you think there's more bodies in the dorimitory, Kaliiii?"

Kalixi's ears flatten against her head, and she bristles slightly, waving a paw at the gamboling Tade as though trying to calm a child hopped up on too many boiled sweets. "Why... why would ye eat or drink -anything- in here after the business with the thrice-bedamned haunted mangoes?" She rubs the bridge of her graying, scarred muzzle. "Another troubleseeker... Well, if that ain't the devil to pay, and us with no pitch hot," she muses in her little rusty voice. "So long as he don't eat the cursed fruit, ought not be too late--- aye, aye, there are likely more dead in the dormitory, wizard."

"Haunted... Mangoes? Ergh, nevermind, there are more of you?" Nikolai asked, unable to hide a hint of irritation. "Are you a proper band of mercenaries, or just a random smattering of opportunistic wanderers?"

"Neither!" Tade answers most unhelpfully before there was a chance for anyone else- in this case, Kalixi- to speak. He doesn't elaborate any further, instead ducking his head to peer under a table, "Ah-ha!" Declares the great wizard - please acknowledge him - and drags out... a pair of boots. Holding them up, he smiles triumphantly, "Look!" A clue! Surely.

Kalixi spends a moment with her eyes squeezed shut and her whiskers twitching. "Aye. We be neither, we lives down the route apace and have been plagued by spirits. So we tracked the outbreak to here, became trapped in the mist when one of our number ate yon cursed mangoes, and.... had to be lead out by... this great wizard." The air quotes are -palpable-. "There are a great many twisted plants in this place, and the ones we have seen so far be very hungry."

Nikolai nods, "I have encountered much of the same myself. Except the annoying wizard parts. My crew arrived here to unload... Unnecessary goods, and restock on provisions. There is not much here. It does not surprise me this place appeared on no maps that I possess. Viktor wandered into the streets and I have been more or less killing time until he gets himself into enough trouble to return." He grimaces slightly "It is taking longer than expected and I am now concerned as well as vexed."

"I'm sure we'll find him." Tade nods reassuringly, which manages not to seem very reassuring. Perhaps it's the goofy smile plastered on his youthful-looking face. He holds the boots up, fingers hooked into them to keep them secure, and juts them insistently towards Kalixi and Nikolai, "Loooook." He insists again, this time in a conspiratorial whisper that is too loud to *really* be a whisper, "I'm pretty sure these boots are special."

"Well, that makes two of us," Kalixi rasps to Nikolai. Her ear twitches as Tade approaches with the magic boots. "All right, all right, take them with us and we can have them looked at, by Sehrasil's sandy cloaca!" Exhaaale. "Why..." Ahem. "Do we not, get out of this empty pisswater shack, find our fellows, find HIS fellow, before anyone else gets caught in any ruddy traps, then get to the bottom of this mess so the godsdamned spirits will quit hauntin' our damned settlement."

Warily, and fairly obviously with his hand on the basket-hilt of his broadsword, but with all efforts to be personable Nikolai agrees. He did not like being on land much. As frightening as the seas could be, land unsettled him significantly more. "This would be best, I think. Lead on, whiskered one."

Crouching down, Tade carefully ties the laces of the boots together and slings them over his shoulder to take them along, "Do you remember which way we came?" There is this sense of unconvincing innocence to his voice - not that he does not genuinely believe he speaks in innocence, but rather in that the facts are against him, having dragged Kalixi here on a whim. With staff in hand, he points it onwards and bounces to the door to hold it open for the other too in some over the top display of being a gentleman.

"Aye," Kalixi rasps, sour as a bushel of bitter oranges. "We be goin' south, and then -suddenly- I be dragged in some who-knows-what-flogging direction because ye totes me around like a gunny sack." Pause. "O great flogging wizard." She chuffs, ears splaying almost comically. "If we stays to the main route we should be able to find the accursed school. Watch out, he's got a grand big snake, but she's better behaved than he be. This way, Mester Dragos. Don't ferget ye magic boots, wizard."

Nikolai moves in close to Kalixi "Ah, Kalixi or Kali? Why does he behave like that? He acts like a cocky colt and moves with the bumbling swagger of an aristocrat on his first voyage. My crew would laugh at him and I don't think he would understand it would be at his expense."

Speaking of that great giant snake, she slithers up after he's opened the door, having been waiting outside, curled up atop an upended barrel. Ruby red, just like his eyes, she's easily large enough to hang from Tade's shoulders, tail and nose both to the ground. His staff is extended so she can crawl on up to his shoulders, though she drapes herself in a much more amiable way, curls and coils loosely around his neck and her snout pressed cutely, if one liked snakes, into his cheek. The boots are now even more secure on his slung by their laces over his shoulder, with her weight to keep them stayed, "Come, come. We'll find the way, nothing to worry about. Isn't that right, Syvis." Why yes, he's cooing to the snake as if he understands him.

Kalixi makes a little snorfling noise as she lumber-hops through the door. "Kali be fine, lad." The next question is answered with a bit of a shrug. "Honestly, he be the only one with the powers necessary to find the way in and out of this cursed place. Peraps it be great power, or peraps he be too mad for it. I've come near to setting teeth to the man and he don't understand it be at his expense. If I were still before the mast, me crew woulda taken a gaffer to him afore the madness spread." Her tail lashes, stirring up dust. "Necessary, nonetheless. Hauled me out the fire twice now, so at the very least I be indebted not to pitch him to the foam."

A genuine ear-to-ear smile appears on Nikolai's face "I had a feeling you and I might be kindred spirits. You have a saltbitten air about you, Kali. Well. If another child of the seas can find it to stomach the dangerous fop, then I shall make an effort to... Well at least not slit his throat."

There is a brief moment in which Tade's eyes narrow to those devious slits, and his smile widens just so, "It's not that I don't understand, Kali!" Can he bop her on the nose while she passes through the door? You bet he'll try! "I just don't care." Now a grin is plastered across his face for Nikolai. When everyone is outside, he makes a show of looking around as if he could penetrate the fog, "Well, which direction do you want to go in?"

Perhaps predictably, Kali bares her jawload of fangs as the nose-bop approaches, snapping them shut with a sound like scissors and most likely missing. Perhaps she didn't want to bite that; she knows where he's been. "South! South, ye bilge rat. We want to go flogging south!" Exhale. "Aye, many years before the mast, I was, captained me own, watched the seas grow blacker an blacker. T'was me belly put me ashore - black waters ain't a place to raise a pup. Had me way, of course, I'd still be lookin' for horizons."

"You will make it back upon the deck of a ship one day, I am sure. Once a child of the seas, always a child of the seas. My family is superstitious. They say that those of us with the salt in our blood, can never truly survive without it. I suppose that superstition was right, after a fashion; my father and his three brothers were killed on the road headed inland. I'd say they took it a bit too literally." The middle-aged fisherman-turned-privateer smirked darkly, staring at the floor. "Enough of that, to the south? Right. Let us move."


Winrey road wends in charming, gentle curves through the shops and houses, eventually leading to the town square at it's northern tip. Back to the south it connects with Chesterel Lane, and Lavalter Street branches off from it heading west somewhere near the mid-point of the street. One of the more noticeable fixtures of Winrey is the tavern, it's sign, though faded and difficult to read, still hangs jutting out from the building, creaking on it's fixture whenever the wind passes through.


White plastered walls and a large window once would have benefitted in keeping the room light filled during the day to help the students who lived here in their studies. A pair of bunk beds is pressed against the wall near the window, while one desk is sat at the foot of them, and another to the wall opposite the bunks. A standard room. However, while many personalizing objects now lay broken and unrecognizable in the dust covered room, there beneath the dust in the center of the room, carved into the wood floor is some sort of magic circle, the markings looking almost hasty and frantically done. While not all the corpses have remained intact, leaving mounds of dust and in a few cases an arm or a leg, a few hunched, withered bodies remain, sat cross-legged around the circle. A few things have stood the test of time, though only an exploration of the contents of the two storage chests beneath the beds could say if anything inside remains.


"I see no reaper, just ghosts." Again Viktor waves this off as if they were asking inane questions, "There are phantoms everywhere. The sea harbours great, terrible ones." He laughs at this though, as though the idea of a ghost being able to harm a living man is a factitious lie. His laughter remains the worst of all the horrible sounds that creep from his throat. A shrug ruffles the feathered ruff around his shoulders and collar, "These ones are noisy." A slithering harrumph and he stands up, letting the rest of the dusty viscera fall from his hand.

It is very probably that Tade's laughter could be heard from dowm the hallway, where he was nattering inanely about this and that in his distinctly happy - why, one might call it merry, in fact - but pointedly irritating voice, punctuated here and there by pleasant chirps that were, however briefly, deceptively soothing on hearing already worn from having to listen to him. The topics of conversation up until this point no doubt do not matter in the least, a mere breaking of silence to fill the time while they found their way here, "Sooo." He begins to query as he shifts ever so much more close to Nikolai's side, surely soon to be pressed right up against him. The snake was part of the entire Tade being too close for comfort package too! Lucky lucky, "How far out to sea have you beeeen?"

"Oh, arrh, I make it to the waves often enou---" Kalixi's rasp stops mid-sentence, and she looks at Viktor, olive-dark eyes following the dusty viscera that were previously in his hand. "Well, I think we've found ye daft cousin, just in time for us to bring our daft wizard. "Looks like ye've found the eye of the storm, as it were, good work, lads. The great wizard and I found a garden in the dean hisself's yard, with another cursed plant in, this one a flower with reachin' graspin' vines, no less."

"Viktor!" Nikolai interrupts, "There you are!" The look of relief turns to confusion, and then anger "There you are! Fool. What are you doing this time? More dead things to play with? I hope at least, that wandering away was worth it you morally perverted wretch! I should wring your neck this time..." Suddenly becoming extremely aware of everyone else in the room, he swallows hard and cocks his head slightly to the side, as if trying to avoid looking at his kin currently toying with a corpse, knowing it would only set him off again. "What have you found, cousin?" he almost spat the last word, forcing a not-at-all convincing smile to stretch across his scarred face.

There it is. A most horrific sound. Tade's laughter. Ulfarr grimaced as he heard the gradual and noisy approach. Staying still besides Viktor, who remained dismissive and admittedly unhelpful. Though with the entrance of what was essentially everyone and a stranger, who he presumed with Nikolai. His gaze cut to them in silence as the tirade began. Only to stop. His brows furrowed. And his gaze flickered to Kali, then back to Nikolai. He refrained from saying anything lest he reveal they didn't find out much since they'd been trying to deal with Viktor. Lophostri opens one eye a bit wider at Kali's mention of a rather grabby plant in the garden. "So, a less subtle specimen than the mangos?"

This particular pile of dusty viscera, scooped from a withered corpse that had been dragged from the circle and resituated on the bed, then cut open from throat to crotch, also happens to have subtle blue sparkles mixed into the gummy black dust. The other piles of dust - the corpses that didn't remain intact for one reason or another - sat around the circle do not share this quality. For his part, Viktor behaves as though Nikolai yelling at him is just some boring part of every day life and stares over the rim of his small, round and dark-lensed glasses in a bit of a dull way. A sloppy, wet sigh is heaved and followed by a low mutter of garbled words, clearly meant for no one but himself, "They think that foolish bauble you found has meaning." He rasps gutturally with the slopping vibration of his vocal cords. A small chuckle manifests itself when Nikolai forces himself to calm somewhat, a jutting finger tracing a line from the corpse on the bed to one of the dusty piles around the magic circle, "They taste different." As if that should mean much to anyone besides himself and whatever strange conclusion he had drawn up. When his finger is done pointing, it slips into his pocket, resting there for now.

"Excuse me, I also found us a gruff seaman and a very important pair of boots." Tade chirps up, and indeed among the inventory occupying his shoulder, besides the familiar snake, there is indeed a dusty pair of workman's boots hung about by their tied-together shoestrings. Flouncing into the room, he makes a beeline for Ulfarr like an annoying moth drawn to a very unfortunate flame, "Did you discover anything interesting Ulfyyyyy?" Why yes, Tade is making a half swooning face at Ulfarr, which cannot look anything but foolish with the way he is also maintaining his clownish cheer all in the same frankenstinien expression.

"Why, in the name of Belphegor's bristly ballsack, do we keep endin' up with disruptin madfolk on this trip?" Kalixi grouses, in her little rusty voice. "This be the most garbled crew I've ever had the misfortune of gatherin up. At least we found one able man with his head outside his arse." Nikolai gets a clawed-paw gesture of acknowledgement. "Also yes the Great Wizard found some magic boots. PLEASE tell me this... jiggamaree on the floor here be what we be lookin' for so we can... unset it or whatever and get me rapidly balding underside outta here." Pause. "Yes it was much less subtle, damn near stove me head in, had to be rescued by... godsbedamnedwizard." SIIIGH.

Nikolai bows slightly at Kali's acknowledgment, then narrows his eyes and again turns his attention to Viktor, "Foolish bauble? This?" He produces a bright blue, polished stone with a subtle glow from the inside of his greatcoat, and holds it close to his chest. "It appears to be cursed. Or enchanted- whatever the word for such things is, things that should not glow, generally do not, in my experience." He lifts an eyebrow "Wait, what do you mean? 'tastes different'?" Not caring that he would appear as insane as his twisted kinsman he continues to indulge Viktor "Explain."

Ulfarr is now also dully staring down at a withered corpse, with sparkling blue innards. Might've even been nice if it was anything else. To add insult to injury Kali posed her question. Which he had no idea about. Even though Tade had asked something before the pravalkan, the house knight was ignoring it. "It's linked to the other runes," though that could be told at a glance. Then he gestured at Viktor. "He's interesting." Yes, he'd thoroughly found out little. "It's nice to see you're all here. Especially with Nikolai. Who I have heard can be more helpful." Though he'd lapse into a silence at the sight of the 'foolish bauble'. "It looks like it was part of the ritual."

Lophostri shakes his head sadly at Kali's question "The runes in here are such a mess it's been hard to get anything resembling a clear meaning. Probably related to the ones outside. Glad you got rescued all the same though."

"Different." Viktor emphasizes with a roll of his eyes, as if he was the put upon one here, having to deal with fools at every turn. A sharp turn carries him away from the corpse to instead pace about the room with a frenetic energy, one hand clasped behind his back while the other taps a finger against his temple, "This one-" He carelessly kicks one of the piles of dust from the magic circle, scattering it into the general grime of decades of neglect, "It- It died before anything could take hold." He was hypothesizing as he marched around, his hand lowering from his temple to gesture towards the corpse he'd placed on the bed and sliced open, "It's chewy and wet. Something had time to get in." A chuff, "There's no rot. It doesn't smell. That one is more... earthy." As he rounds to Nikolai, the clasped hand reaches back around to press a coin minted specifically for Brighton at some unknown period of time into his cousin's hand, "I found this too." He had originally tossed it aside, but never mind that.

Ulfarr's arm was being held hostage now, as Kalixi's earlier description of being handsy proves itself quite true, "It glows too!" Commentary which surely one needed and could not have observed on their own, "You should try these boots on later, Ulfy. They look like they're your size. I'm really sure they're special!"

There is a long, long pause, as Kalixi teeth-grindingly processes everything that's going on. Olive-dark eyes skew over to the glowing blue stone and the old coin. She digs into her right forelimb pouch, and produces an amethyst pendulum on a silver chain. "Young Knight, if ye would, that ring?" Another pause. She heaves a sigh. "Do anyone ELSE have anything what glows? Sure, sure, the magical boots too, if ye pleases, o great wizard of tittering twits an twittering tits."

Trying to suppress a juvenile chuckle at Kali's jab towards the wizard, Nikolai regarded the stone in his hand and regained composure. He didn't trust these people, maybe the otter, and Viktor to an extent, but not the rest. "Save your condescension when I ask this, Viktor," he sighed "What conclusions do you have? Should we try whatever the Pravalkan has in mind? I get the feeling she has an idea, and the sooner we can be rid of whatever 'It' is, the better."

Ulfarr stared at Tade. He had little choice in the matter, even though he was paying attention to each and every one of Viktor's words. He did however actually take the boots to look them over. "Mhm." He reached for the ring he had kept on him, it glowed softly in the warmth of his hand but it wasn't blue. "This one you mean, Kalixi?"

Lophostri gives his stuff a quick once over "No, I don't believe I've procured any glowing objects."

Ulfarr is released, no doubt a blessing, as Tade first meanders over to lean his staff against the wall at the end of the bunk beds. There is a wide smile present, as with just a wave of his hand a mop and sloshing bucket of half dirtied mop water appears in his hands - in fact, they look quite suspiciously like the mop and bucket from the Refuge. That was clearly in the middle of being used, "Gotta clean the floor first! Can't even see the whole circle!" He chirps. Oh, but is he going to mop? No, it doesn't look like it. It's dubious to think he's ever mopped a floor in his entire life.

Speaking without condescension is not something that comes all that naturally to Viktor, and Nikolai's request is met with a grunt of what at least seems to be acknowledgement. In the very least it seems that, for better or for worse, Nikolai trusts Viktor *enough* to follow his lead, despite the clear oddities that afflict the man. Viktor leaves the coin in Nikolai's keeping to instead reach for the stone that seemed so pointless to him, but that the others had an interest in. There is no immediate hand-over, and instead he spares a moment to look at the stone and it's soft glow, still not caring much for the thing himself. As his gaze comes down, and he seems to regard Kalixi, it instead moves past her towards the empty door frame, a faint smirk coming to his mouth, "She's shaking her head at me." He rasps, a particularly harsh breath being sucked in and rattling in his throat. Whatever - or whoever, that Viktor was seeing, she wasn't visible to the others. After a few more minutes of staring, he shrugs the specter off and properly regards Kali, the dark blue of his eyes, like the deep sea, visible above the frames of his dark lensed spectacles, "Just give it back after. She doesn't think it's a good idea, but I don't really care." A step or two and he's close enough to offer the stone down to the pravelkan.

"All right," Kalixi rasps, looking at all of the artifacts in hand. In paw. "If I be right, praps I be, we've an amount of things that glow, found here in this very afflicted city, yarh? We should bring these things together, methinks. Or see if one or another o' them be particularly friendly with one or another of us. Ye looks to be a diviner of sorts, Viktor? What thinks ye of this?" She lets the pendulum dangle, chain looped over one of her thick, fuzzy knuckles.

Ulfarr's eyes dragged across to Viktor. It did occur to him that the man had ingested some of the bones tainted by what could safely be assumed spirit. "You're seeing something, Viktor? I suppose a number of things could go wrong. Like putting all these objects together could just summon a swarm of ghosts. Or not at all!" There was a flippant regard as he said this as if it didn't bother him at all and he moved to Tade, taking the bucket from him and just tipping the water all over the circle. "Well, it's not like -I'll- die." Why was he so sure? Because he had to be and he would be very upset if he did die. Then he grabbed the mop and started to clean the dirt up. Muttering under his breath, "I'm certainly not going to die after cleaning that's just sad."

Lophostri really can't die just yet either. There's a business to rebuild after all. So he fishes out a rag and gets to cleaning the smaller areas that the mops won't do such a great job on. He does look to be listening to the current discussion of course. Simply waiting for an opportune time to contribute.

Ah, there it is, the condescension returns as if it was screaming to be released for the all of two minutes it had been held back, "Didn't I already tell you there's ghosts here?" He sucks in a slithering breath, while giving Kalixi's paw a little pat. Her declaration of him being a sort of diviner is met with a bit of a raised and simultaneously furrowed brow, as if the very concept was foreign to him. Even Nikolai clearly didn't entirely believe was Viktor said about this and that, especially when it concerned spirits. His tongue presses briefly to the roof of his mouth, a wet sound preceding his response, no less condescending than what he had spoken to Ulfarr, "Is there... something about you all that you think pointless baubles are meant to do something?" Magic items? Clearly of no interest to him. The water sloshes and Viktor is quick to scoop a second, mostly intact corpse up to be dumped on the bed alongside the one he cut open. There is a lot to be said for years and years and years of grime build up, and most of it comes down to: boy you better scrub harder than you've scrubbed in your entire life.

Tade scoops up his staff when Ulfarr takes the bucket from, and he holds both it and the mop up like some sort of dueling staff situation is going on, pirouetting on one foot before he flounces over to the window to awkwardly, on account of his hands being full of wooden shafts, wriggle the stiff window open some, "Better air the place out, too." Is this the most helpful thing he's done, besides fetching the mop and bucket? Why yes, and on the scale of helpful it's so minor it probably doesn't even count.

"Or ye could just be a pompous arse, sure," Kali rasps, beaming pleasantly, if fangily. "It be no fur off my nethers." She looks for a place to sit down with her armloads of possibly pointless baubles, and starts pawing through them to see if any of them glow when set in her callused palm and squinted at, thoughtfully. If not, she'll beckon whoever's closest over to see if anything glows when THEY hold it. Science! Ish.

Ulfarr had no reply for Viktor. Though he did have a question as he idly scrubbed away. No stranger to elbow grease. He was more worried about rubbing the marks of the circle away. "Viktor. Do you know who 'she' is? Just out of curiosity." Scrub. Scrub.

Lophostri continues to work his way around the room, scrubbing bits here and there, generally in Kalixi's direction. Ulfarr and the otter lady seem to have berating the not so poor Viktor well in hand, anyway.

As Lophostri and Ulfarr had already learned, social graces were not something Viktor seemed to care about, or even think about. His Auntie, Nikolai's mum, would be rolling in her grave. If she was dead. If he was home, well, he'd be getting yelled at for sure. Viktor is close enough to Kali to be the first to try her unsuccessful venture of glowing objects, a glove removed and held out to be a platform for the objects. The only thing that glows at touch, is predictably, the ring. This would hold true for every single person who tried. However, outside of this, there is one pair that seems to react - or rather one thing reacting to the other. A faint amethyst hue alights the crystal pendant when the blue stone is brought near to it, giving the pendulum a bit of it's luster back. The scrubbing goes well, without fear of rubbing away the marks as they are, it's revealed, carved directly into the wood and soon the full circle is revealed, "Hm?" Viktor utters while the objects are tested on him, his gaze lifting back towards the doorframe, then shifting aside towards the desk as the spirit seems to have moved, "She doesn't remember who she is anymore." He shrugs, seeing no particular value in this information, "The ones who linger always forget eventually." Or they weren't being open. Who knew for certain. Perhaps they really were all in Viktor's head.

With Ulfarr and Lophostri doing the literal dirty work of cleaning up, Tade takes this opportunity to wriggle the window fully open and plants his butt on the sill, legs dangling above the floor, "You know-" Tade starts, his smile wide without a hint of this story he is surely launching into being remotely useful to the situation, "If my brother Efim was still alive, he could have told you allll about these runes and circles." His staff is waggled in a general encompassing of the circle and the runes it was made up of, "He was the beeeeest with magic like this. He's been dead for a looooooooong time!" In a brief moment, Tade actually seems sad for half a second before the expression is wiped from his face to once again be unshakably cheery.

"Well, we've come away with something, seems if," Kalixi rasps, before making a little gesture that Viktor is free to go back to whatever it is he was doing. Perhaps, he's just more palatable by comparison. Tade gets the BEST whiskery pokerface the ottermom can manage. "Aye, and I suppose ye knows not of whatever magic he be the master of," she says, disappointment dripping from her little rusty voice as she takes the pendulum in paw once again, putting it closer and closer to the blue stone to see if the reaction increases. If it seems safe, i.e. no vibrating or humming or otherwise volatile tendencies, she'll touch the two stones together.

Ulfarr paused in his work, it was all coming along quite well, if only it mattered. But it didn't! There was going to be no nobility or Count to say 'good job' to him on this lovely floor. So he tossed the mop aside, eyes following Viktor and where he was looking. "I am going to see how crazy you might actually be," he'd then decide now was the time to pull out the potion he had gotten Vaelyn to prepare and downed it. "And to see if Kalixi's experiments are successful." Though it tasted awful, the knight grit his teeth and bared it like anyone of his station should.

Lophostri nods in apparent satisfaction at a cleaning well done. Just a pity that wasn't why everyone came here in the first place. Ulfarr gets a bit of a curious look as a potion is quaffed though. The day's just getting more and more interesting. "See anything of note?"

"Oh Kali, it's so cute how grumpy you get about things you don't even know anything about yourself!" Tade lifts his staff aloft with the authority of, or what he believes gives the impression of it, a teacher ruling over their classroom, "Don't be hypocritical now!" A titter of amusement flows past his lips, shrug soon following, "That was never my job. 'Little Tade' he'd say - he was really tall, you know, and the very image of a big brother -" This diatribe is complete with an imitation of his brother's voice, his own higher pitched tones dropping to some attempt at sounding rather masculine and manly, "- 'you can't just alter the form however you want.' I always tried to make new ones. It seemed more fun." During the course of speaking, Tade's legs had begun to gently kick, the heels of his boots tapping a light rhythm against the wall, "Oh but then war happened and he died fighting for mother."

Viktor had already dug into the corpses to his apparent satisfaction, so when he's released from Kalixi's testing, he meanders back to stand beside Nikolai, where even a cursory glance between their features could see them as related closely by blood. Viktor was thinner and shorter for sure, but the family traits were there to be found. Ulfarr's consumption of some potion earns a wet, disgusting chuckle from Viktor, and similarly does the idea that he may or may not be crazy. Even if he did see what he said he saw, there were plenty of other traits that were unbalanced about him, and it seemed Nikolai might even manage to temper some of them.

For Ulfarr, for a moment the world seems to spin and it brings with it a great sense of vertigo as his perspective violently shifts, the room seeming fuzzy for a good long minute or two. There is so much more in this room than just the girl that Viktor was listening to, though she is most certainly standing by the desk, a teenager in a rumpled nightgown with long blonde hair and tired, dark eyes. She was pretty, that much is clear, and to many such a death would be even more of a tragedy because of it. However, besides her the room is crowded with specters, not all of them all to clear to see and it creates a dizzying mash up of 'bodies' that are difficult to tell apart from one another the way they layer on top of each other willy nilly. Not all of them seem aware of the group of living either, while others seem all *too* aware, waiting and watching for something to happen.

For Kalixi there is no volatile reaction to the stones being brought together, but neither is there anything more. Whatever it is meant to indicate, proximity is not it.

"Pah!" Kalixi's whiskers bristle, and she goes to set the glowy blue stone aside, so she can walk the pendulum as it is meant to be walked, around the room, chain looped over her knuckles and the crystal swinging freely. "Ta think, indoors, usin' grandma magic. Pah. Well, desperate times, and all such." She carries it to the circle first, holding still so it can dangle and hopefully do something other than point straight at the floor. Ulfarr's chugging of the potion gets a raised eye-ridge, but that's about it.

It was not a comfortable experience at all. For a moment Ulfarr paled and he swayed on his feet a moment, before reminding himself he is on the ground. That he's standing and he just needs to remain still till the wave of nausea is over. His nose wrinkles as he gradually starts to perceive what he shouldn't be able too. "Do you see all of them, Viktor?" He'd ask, gaze turning about, almost feeling claustrophobic for all the spirits in the room. "Why...why is there so many in here?" His head would turn then to look at the pendant, before going back to the girl as it struck him, perhaps they can hear, or even answer him. " you know what's going on?"

If it hadn't been for all the general weirdness in this place, Lophostri might look terribly confused about what Ulfarr seems to be seeing. However, there's something almost depressingly normal about it right now. Or at least, so suggests the owl's expression. Mostly though, he watches the pendulum dousing with some mild curiosity.

"Uhm." Tade eventually murmurs, watching Kalixi meander around the circle with the pendulum as if it's meant to be some sort of dousing rod, "You know you have to *activate* magic circles, right? *Everyone* knows that." Slipping from the sill, the self-proclaimed greatest wizard alive patters over to follow behind Kalixi, and he will stop when she stops to stand beside her with a surely benevolent smile upon his face. Beatific, one may even call it if they were so inclined to believe there's sincerity there.

It is odd and stiff, almost jerking the way that Viktor cants his head towards Ulfarr, studying him for a moment with this odd feeling like Viktor is regarding the knight as some potential next experiment. A brow raises, "I told you there were ghosts everywhere here. They've been here the whole time." The harsh rasp of his voice is accentuated grotesquely by a sharp, scratching sound coming from deep down his throat. As Ulfarr focuses on the girl, other spirits grab and grasp at Ulfarr, but it seems their pull isn't enough to even be felt. Not yet in any case. Ulfarr can see her lips moving, but whatever she's saying, the potion isn't strong enough for the Knight to hear more than an indistinct whisper. Presuming Ulfarr can hear her now, Viktor doesn't offer up any clarification.

"I be tryin' to see if anythin' else makes it light up," The ottermom replies, squinting up at him every time he stops next to her. "Me first idea didn' work, so now I be tryin' anew. I ain't dowsed in decades, though, it were more me grandmum's path. I ain't much for the magic with a roof on. So ye be wrong, no -everyone- knows how to fuss on a magic circle like some fancybritches." There is a long, thoughtful pause. "I be certain a master wizard of yer ilk be findin' such a thing -easy-, aye?"

Ulfarr's brows twitch. Of course, this would happen. 'See the dead' he said, but what of hearing them? Well, a lesson learned he supposed. Though, he partly wished he could just have this be a crusade and kill all the spirits and such. But that might not actually be effective. Or would it? He was having second thoughts as he shook his head and looked around once more. Before pointedly looking at Viktor. "I cannot hear them," he'd say bluntly, not specifying why. Then he'd step towards the circle on the ground all washed and ready to use. With every step his mind resisted on the fact that the spirits were tugging even if it couldn't be felt. It would take some getting used too. "We could probably use the circle to resummon the spirit that did this and kill it. Honestly. I am starting to feel a good purging might be order to sufficiently fix this problem as quickly as possible."

Lophostri nods slightly "That's one option, certainly. Haven't spent a lot of time with such circles myself though, so I'll wait further input before claiming to have an informed opinion of a good path forward."

"She's just scared." Viktor pauses, leaving the details of exactly what was being said by the wayside, adding a moment later, "Confused." The sawbones shrugs, feathery mantle rustling up against his cheeks before he looks aside to Nikolai, the past his cousin again towards the phantom girl standing by the desk. To both he and Ulfarr, the terror would begin to morph her face into a horrifying twisted mien as the idea of activating the circle seems to be the direction the group is leaning towards.

"Well of course I do! Also dowsing isn't *real* magic, Kali." As it seems to be the course of action Ulfarr wants to pursue, Tade offers the Knight a merry smile, and twirls his staff in his grip for the dramatic flare of it all before the base of it is planted firmly along the outer edge of the circle. Serpentine eyes are concentrated downwards on the circle, and before long the ruby incorporated into his staff begins to pulse with a hue of ruby deeper than the glittering gem could naturally produce. The magic begins to flow out of the staff in visible waves, refined but unadulterated - clearly fuel rather than a spell in and of itself. All through the lines carved into the floor this energy flows, filling out each and every intentional crevice until the entire thing was alight with the ruby glow of Tade's magic. For a moment it seems as though nothing would happen, like the entire exercise was pointless, and perhaps that was a relief to some. However it is a false sense of security, and a crushing weight rushes through the air for a half a second before the silence in the air, and the weight bearing down is shattered by a horrific, inhuman scream. It is distant. Not in this building from the sounds of it, and it is *angry*. In the same moment the blue stone and pendant in Kali's grasp violently reject each other, and a moment after that there is a rustling sound coming not only from directly behind Nikolai and Viktor, but echoes of similar sounds can be heard outside of the room, and down the hallways.

Kalixi watches the process, momentarily relieved when it doesn't look like anything's happened, and then she gets jerked nearly off her feet by the pendulum being YANKED away from the glowing blue stone. "Belphegor's hairy arsehole!" she blurts, struggling to keep her feet. "Well, that did something. I think ye might be getting yer wish there, young Knight... if we can find the thing. At least this thing is got somethin' to contribute now." It takes both of her little iron paws, but she gets the chain wrapped fully around her fist and wrangles the angry pendulum.

Ulfarr watches as the poor spirit twists into horror. He wish he didn't have to see it, but even if he were to pander, there was no stopping Tade. That and the knight was liable to convince himself (privately) that it does not matter what happens to dead spirits. Especially in a place like this. He focuses on the magic filling the circle. "Tade, do you know what you're doing?" He'd ask. Though, it sure seemed like he did, Ulfarr wondered if a simple charge of magic could bring what was wanted. "Or rather what exactly are you doing. Then again I have a feeling that the angry thing will come to us." His gaze would shift to the blue stones as they seemed to suddenly hate Kalixi. Moving over he'd aim to grab one.

Lophostri looks around with a certain amount of terror in his expression. But mostly confusion. Confusion and some general effort to take everything in, in case sudden movement to a safer place is needed. Or something more direct should it come to that.

Viktor looks behind him. Oh. Corpses are moving. He doesn't react. This just seems so blandly normal to the strange man that it doesn't even warrant caring. The room is scoped out next, because to him, something far more interesting has occurred - something Ulf would be able to see too. Suddenly, all the spirits filling the room have *vanished*. Including the blonde girl who had been standing by the desk. While he's surveying, the corpses gain more life and their movements rapidly become quicker. Shambling corpses were not to be found here as the one which had been cut open rises and in a split second it is looming near Lophostri, leathery hands outstretched and it's mouth open in a wide - too wide - gape aiming to chomp down on any part of the owl it can get. The other goes for Kalixi, perhaps sensing her moment of unbalance for it certainly cannot see with no eyes within it's sockets. Down the hallway the shuffling that preceded the two is growing louder, and it's becoming clear that a lot more are on their way.

"Activating a magic circle is easy, but I told you I don't really know what the runes mean. That wasn't my *job*." With the screech and Ulfarr's voiced hope the creature who made it will come find them, Tade shakes his head, "I don't think it's coming, Ulfyyyy. It feels... hm, stuck?" After a moment of thinking to himself, and with the rise of the dead, Tade more confidently nods, assured in his conclusions, "See? It can't. It needs help."

"What be needin' help is US, ya fang dancy," Kalixi hisses at Tade, before darting out of the way of the approaching eyeless threat and taking an ineffectual return swipe at it on her way by. "Yarrrh, get away, yer unrested barstard."

Ulfarr's gaze slipped to Kalixi, then to the corpse that went to chomp on Loph. He was calm of all things. Then he looked to Nikolai and Viktor, "You had best help." No reason was given because they should know too. He moved to Kalixi fist aiming to lob off the shambling corpses head, but instead an ineffectual chunk of the things side came off. "I also can't help Lophostri." Or so he says.

Lophostri lets out a surprisingly loud yowl for such a normally quiet owl, accompanied by a glare at the annoyingly intact and apparently hungry corpse "I do *not* appreciate being on the menu." There isn't even his usual muttering with such things. Just some brief gestures at the currently dining corpse. Well, the formerly dining corpse. Just a dusty pile of corpse bits now.

Viktor has rolled Melee and Unarmed combat at a 0 modifier, a total of 10 dice. There are 7 successes. "Well now i'm just not gonna help since you wanna be a grump instead of understanding what I said for what it is. Maybe you should make up your mind if you *really* want help or not." Poof! Tade vanishes, but he doesn't go far. Up on the top bunk he perches, watching the others below with his staff lain across his lap.

Viktor offers a grunt, but he moves towards the eyeless - this was precisely his fault by the way - corpse that had grasped first at Kalixi. It is a simple, brutal manoeuver as he grabs the thing's head and simply twists it off, carelessly tossing it aside like this whole thing was just such an *annoyance* to him.

"Oh, this be no time for any of this jiggamaree," Kalixi spits, wheeling away from yet another shambling corpse and making her way over to the apparently tasty seeming owl. "This'll do," she rasps, grabbing a broken bit of wooden furniture, and murmuring over it. "Remember what ye were," she says, before reaching out to touch Lophostri with the wood, which is now expanding and blossoming into a barrier of hopefully protective vines. Then she pulls her little cutlass.

Ulfarr's brows furrow in irritation. Tade was sulking, despite having said something very useful. People were getting attacked and it seemed like many more corpses were going to shamble up. He'd quickly go to the door and slam it shut and move to drag a desk in front of it. So yes, they were trapped, but it was better then more unfortunate corpses coming in. "Tade! Can you - ah - take me to this creature you're talking about?"

Carpenter owls must be a delicacy around here. Another bite upon his person has Lophostri looking even less calm than before. That lack of calmness might account for the arcane energies completely failing to phase this particular corpse. Apart from the accompanying mutters about that, he does send a quick thanks to the otter for the new vine based accessory he has.

Viktor has rolled Melee and Unarmed combat at a -2 modifier, a total of 8 dice. There are 4 successes. Tade lifts his shoulders in a vague shrug in response to Ulfarr, "Maybe. There's lots of old magic here, and lots of lives were sacrificed to it. I can *try* to get past it, but that's a lot harder than if we knew what to do to break it." In an instant Tade is beside Ulfarr, but before they vanish together, ruby eyes widen and Tade utters an "Uh oh... you're in trouble."

The reason for this is simple, and that is because Viktor is menacingly and quickly approaching Ulfarr, who's taken up the blue stone and requested transport elsewhere, "Return it." Viktor growls, the sound even more grotesque with the way it slops through his damaged vocal chords. The anger is and very well can be considered irrational, despite that he had said they must give the blue stone back. It wasn't quite yet at a level where such a response would be warranted, especially in light of the fact that Viktor is grabbing at Ulfarr's throat.

"Sehrasil's puckered arse, this be NO time fer attackin' our own," Kalixi rasps, baring all of her teeth as she hops into the air, turning to face the shambling corpse presently attacking Lophostri. "Git back, and go to ground, accursed ones!" She lashes out with her little cutlass, unraveling the undead monster with an upwards cut from bowels to gizzard.

Ulfarr was at least glad Tade was not sulking and being useful, though it should be shameful that he was relying on Tade. It ultimately did not matter, hopefully. As long as he didn't come to Moriquende. He gave the wizard a polite smile, like the others weren't under attack by the undead. After all, he was sure they could handle those few. If Viktor hadn't come up to him and grabbed his throat. Immediately the knight lofted up his hands. Surrender. He hadn't expected it at all and the vice grip around his throat made it hard to answer. All he could do was rasp out, "I will. I've no better idea, sweet Viktor."

Lophostri looks understandably pleased that the corpse that was recently chewing on him has also stopped being a nuisance. But things must be sorted out properly, and a few more gestures send some more crackling energy at another corpse that has apparently forgotten that being dead is more important. The reminder looks to have settled in just fine.

Nikolai draws his sword, but holds it casually. "Well, I suppose this threat is the immediate one now. No one move, and have no delusions my willingness to drive this blade through each and every one of your guts." He turns to Viktor. "Njord's bollocks, Vik. Drop him. You've cocked this venture up enough at this point, we don't need to fight through these mercs and still deal with the not-dead outside."

A tentacle reaches through the open window, followed by another, and then another. After a moment, all three grip onto the wood, and a lumpy shape pulls itself over the windowsill. The Vos'mynih slithers over towards Nikolai and Viktor. "There you are!" It announces with the smooth tones of a practiced liar. "I've been looking all *everywhere* for you. Did you know? There are dead people swarming *all over* this place?" Coming to a stop near Nikolai, it stretches upwards to a roughly human height, smooths down its cloak, and continues. "I'm not *late* to the party, am I?"

The low rumble of that growl continues on through Viktor's throat for a few long moments before it dies off and slowly Viktor releases his grip on Ulfarr's throat. No words are spoken, but a wet huff slithers from his throat before he paces a few frenetic laps and comes to settle near Nikolai and Shan, the latter being given a bit of the ol' evil eye, "There are always dead *everywhere*. You *are* late."

When Ulfarr is released, Tade, who had slid behind Ulfarr in the meantime while this little altercation had been going on, hops on to piggyback on Ulfarr's back, cheek snuggled up to his, "Reeeeeeeady?"

"All right, now, let's not bilge ourselves on our own anchors, fighting amongst ourselves when the enemy is ruddy clear as the horizon, aye?" Kalixi rasps, keeping her own cutlass drawn and making sure she's facing what has suddenly proven itself to be a rival crew. "Stone an' storms, young Knight, belay that fer a moment an' let me shield yer reckless arse before ye hauls it to gods know where."

Ulfarr let out a wheezing breath as Viktor let him go. His hand rubbing at his neck as the odd little hulk went back to his cousin. There are also unfortunately bigger issues to deal with then Tade hitching a piggy back ride. Like the slimy pravalkan that slimed up through the window. His brow ticked down. "Not ready, unfortunately." He drawled out, eyes staring from Nikolas, to Viktor, to the octopus. "Make no illusions that I will do more then -kill- you," He'd point at Nikolas, "If I come back and find Kalixi and Lophostri dead by your hands. I will make sure you are hunted and it will be a joyous occasion for Moriquende. As Aquilae does not like those who spit upon good faith as we are working together, no?" Yet the greatest irony was he'd look to Tade then. "Now we can go." Lophostri can't help but look a little relieved as Ulfarr is no longer being strangled. Though it's somewhat diluted with the confused expression due to the recent squelchy window based arrival. Regardless, there's a certain amount of trying to smooth his plumage back out. Not that it ever lasts. But Ulfarr does get a quick nod. "Yes, do let her get you shielded. Has to be better than getting chewed on."

Nikolai's eyes went wide at this new revelation. Ulfarr was a house-knight. The surprise turned to suspicion and disgust. "A blood traitor. I knew you looked soft, southerner. I had chalked it up to just being of inland breeding stock, but now I know the truth. An elf's whelp. Very well, 'noble house knight'..." The venomous tone in his voice accentuated by a mocking side-to-side motion made with his shoulders and head, "...No harm will come to either of the Pravalkens, I have no quarrel with either of them. But you, you are worse than the lowest form of sea scum that I hire adolescent street-rats to scrape off of my hull. Make to double-cross or threaten myself, my cousin, or my crew again, and there will be no safe harbor for you outside of the lands of the elf-slime. You will forever watch your back upon the seas, and should you see black sails, you had best make for your precious land with all haste." He spat on the floor and sheathed his sword, and turned away from the knight. "See, Miss Kali, no fighting. All is under control, and we all..." He paused and sneered. "Now know where we stand." He finally regarded Shan "You slimy dog! ...Err, well, you know. Good of you to join us! Ignore Viktor. He's been rather cranky. How is the crew, and uhh... Where is the ship?"

"Of course there are." The Vos'mynih regards Viktor with a bland smile "I would have been here sooner, but you see, I had to climb a tree to avoid a pack of wild serpopards, and by the time they had wandered off the trail had gone cold. The ship is anchored..." A tentacle rises from the floor to gesture towards the coast, before curling back on itself. "Well. That can wait for now. I see you two are making friends already. How positively *delightful*." The wound-up tentacle makes an ambiguous gesture towards Ulfarr. "You can call me Shan."

It is far too late for anyone to make any attempts at shielding Ulfarr, for the moment the knight says that he's ready to go, Tade pulls a wide smile and declares, "He doesn't need it! He's with me!" It is impossibly instantaneous the way Tade vanishes, taking Ulfarr with him.

Viktor reaches out to gently smush his fingers on Shan's blobby head, as if this were some odd, calming ritual, or a silent reprimand, "You should have caught one. I haven't dissected a serpopod yet." Dark eyes shift between Ulfarr and Tade, seconds before they vanish, and then across to Kalixi and Lophostri. One might think he's looking to them for dissection after that little outburst.

Kalixi positively bristles at the insult hurled Ulfarr's way, but instead of loosing a long diatribe in response, she twists her face into its fangiest grimace. "Well then, Mister Nikolai, seems as if yer having a piss from yer own crow's nest, what with none of us safe an' young Ulfarr set to do the savin'. I mean unless, if indeed ye be so much greater than the man ye speaks ill of, peraps YE would like to go an' fight the thing which threatens us an every town from here to shore?" This is followed by a 'be my guest' gesture.

While Lophostri doesn't look thrilled about the not so veiled threats, he can't help but half smirk at Tade's sudden departure. Weird as that fellow is, he's oddly amusing at times. Never mind the terrible timing. Kalixi gets an odd look all the same "Well, if anyone's going to be able to keep him safe, it's that... fellow."

Nikolai feigned a hurt expression at Kali's jab before letting his face fall to a mild scowl that had become his default as of late. "I do like you, Miss Kali, but check yourself. Had your 'hero' not attempted to cheat my kin, there would have been no need for any ill words." He let out a long sigh "Regardless, you are correct. There is a job that must be finished. You need not worry about any more meaningless aggression. Let us rid ourselves of the not-dead. Viktor! Shan! I lost myself, briefly, but these are our allies for the time being. Treat them as you would one of our own." Although he addressed his men, it was a reminder for himself more than anyone else.

Shan holds out his arm towards where Ulfarr and Tade were for a moment, then pulls it back and thoughtfully strokes the side of his face. "Hmm." He raises a second tentacle and strokes the other side of his face. "Hmmm." A third tentacle joins in. "HMMMMM." After a long moment he squints his eyes, and the tentacles vanish back underneath his cloak. "Yes. Well. Since I arrived late, would someone mind filling *me* in on the plan which you've most assuredly devised?" His eyes swivel around the room from person to person.

"He still has it." Viktor grumps to Nikolai, bringing his gaze back around to his cousin. This was spoken with clear airs that he should have been allowed to keep squeezing the life right out of Ulfarr's neck. His hands are shoved back into his pockets, doing nothing to help the habitual slump of his shoulders, no doubt gained from long nights hunching over some corpse or unfortunate patient.


The chest that's keeping the door barricaded shifts and jumps a bit.


Kalixi leaps up onto the desk that sits against the wall, its old dry wood creaking as she grips it with her hindclaws. "The plan be easy, new friend," she says, in a rusty voice that sounds like someone pouring gravel down a very long and very aged pipe. While she's only about five feet tall, she resembles a bundle of hawser cables wrapped in thick fur and bristling with fangs and claws. "Stay alive, set the dead to rest, an' pray to whomever or whatever ye pleases that the Knight and the Daft Wizard defeats the thing what traps us here." Lophostri jumps away from the banging, in a direction that still keeps some distance from the new friends in the room. Charming folks, really. Not charming enough to keep his owlish eyes from turning a piercing gaze upon the jumping chest "...That chest was empty when we searched it before. What's gotten into it?"

Pointedly ignoring Viktor's grumble, but taking note of what was said, Nikolai joined the others in staring at the chest that just got scooted from the door. Moving towards it and drawing his sword once again, he readied himself for whatever was about to finish coming through.

Shan turns towards the door quizzically. "I fear that it's not the chest that's cause for alarm, but the door behind it." He raises a tentacle thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you put something *inside* that empty chest before using it to block a door, by any chance?" The tentacle creeps in the direction of the still-open window. "I don't suppose that any of *you* are open to making a quick exit before that door comes down?"

The banging doesn't cease and only becomes louder and louder on the door, the chest meant to hold it shut shifting more and more with each thud. Soon the first few distorted undead faces begin to press through the gap, leaving only a very short time for the group to make a decision; fight or flight.

Viktor looks between Shan and Nikolai, his gaze eventually swinging back to fix on Shan, "Why-" He rasps, sucking in a wet breath, "Do you always want to run off?" Their attitudes were no doubt very different; Viktor could be quite the brute, and he had the temper to match it. He enjoyed destruction, methodical or otherwise. One scalpel is retrieved from his little side bandolier that held several others. It's not a particularly grand weapon for a situation like this, but he always liked to have them on his person - one never knew when you'd need to dissect something or someone, now did you? Either way, he wiggles it at the horde that was steadily encroaching, "You should practice on them."

There is a brief moment of pause, but now is not the time to be asking 'what in the nine thousand hells are you doing with a bandolier of scalpels?!' boy, however, does Kalixi look like she wants to ask. "All right," she drawls, still keeping her cutlass pointed towards the door. "We've one for cut and one for run. Do we stand against the horde, or do we risk heaving out the window to whatever may be outside?"

Lophostri takes a moment to eye the window, and the rustling pile at the door "Running won't bring back those horses. Or make it more likely other travelers get through the area safely. Best stand for now." The bandolier of scalpels goes unremarked upon.

Nikolai looks to the floor thoughtfully, "We stand. There may be many more outside, and keeping them from surrounding us is our best advantage. Additionally, we may have to help the Fop and the Elf-pet." He looks to Shan, "Steel yourself my tentacled friend. I do not think these shambling brainless ones will be your downfall."

Shan wriggles in the direction of the window. "I didn't see anything on the way in." the octopoid asserts, grasping the windowsill with four tentacles and heaving himself outside. His head bobs one side, then the other, and then twists all the way around and drops back inside the room. "And I don't see anything now. We could bar the doors from the outside, light the place on fire, and get rid of the lot of them in one go."

The press of the hoard causes a great scratching noise as the chest pushes further, and the first few undead stumble through, falling flat on their faces to the ground from the press of the rest of them trying to clamor through to get at the group. There is enough that everyone gets a zombie or two in their direction, so the moment to decide a course of action is in effect, right now.

Viktor doesn't wait for a decision, one, two, three scalpels are off in a flash, burying in the heads of three zombies each, taking the burden of one off of Nikolai, himself and Shan in turn. There's clear favouritism there, but what can one expect when one is his cousin and the other is the first mate on his crew.

Lophostri nods slightly at apology to Kali's legs at having to stay in this lousy place. Probably isn't anyone who really *wants* to be there. All the same, there's a bit of muttering, some odd gesturing, and a few frustrated clicks of his beak as he sends out some energies to see to it that the nearest several zombies lose any apparent desire to move about.

"You are showing off, Viktor!" Nikolai says as he swings at the neck of the closest cadaver. With a savage chop aimed at the neck, he severs the thing's spine. As the next zomboid approaches, the privateer brings the cutlass back the other direction, taking its head of with a deft back-handed strike, Smirking as the rotten wretches fall to the floor with successive thuds. "Hah! Clumsy and fragile. I may regret saying this, but, too easy!"

Shan produces a knife of his own from somewhere under his cloak, and ineffectually hacks at a zombie bearing down on him. "Next time." The octopus grumbles, wrapping several tentacles around the zombie's grasping arms and holding it at bay. "I'm lighting the building on fire first."

While there is a limit to how many zombies can get in, which is some sort of a blessing, this also means their room to maneuver is rapidly growing less and less. There's almost no room to move, making avoiding biting and clawing a bit of a difficult prospect, but in turn it makes the zombies easier targets in and of themselves. Kalixi, perhaps it's her height, is the only one who manages to avoid anything at this time.

"Now you're distracting me." Viktor grumbles as his scalpel zings past a zombie's head and lodges in the wall instead. With further grumpy grumbling, Viktor turns instead to yoink Shan up into the air to hold him, zombie and all, above his head to start shoving his way towards the window to make his way out. Don't worry friend octopus.

"Yer know, funneling the bastards fer slaughter would work better if'n they'd STOP COMIN," Kalixi bellows, in her raspy, chesty voice, hopping up briefly on her perch to nail a zombie right in the top of its bony, rotten skull. "Get off, ye scrapin' bilge lurkers!" It takes a moment, along with a braced foot against its forehead, for her to yank the cutlass back out, leaving her unable to take on another target.

Lophostri is looking increasingly frustrated. Things have been hectic enough that roughly none of his plumage is looking tidy anymore. To say nothing of the wooden armoring looking rather chipped up. A little more muttering and the nearest mobile corpse ceases being mobile. Or intact. "If there were fewer, I'd muddy up the ground. Perhaps it's time to make for that window?"

Nikolai tries a similar maneuver to last time and manages to do nothing but lodge his weapon into the neck of a now even more aggressively flailing ghoul. "BLYAT! Njord's fish-smelling bollocks! Get off of my sword you wretched lump of dried meat!" He finally wrenches his weapon free and steps back, but his momentum is lost. "To the damned window! Outside! Everyone!" He roars. He looks to Kalixi and yells "We must go! NOW! To the hells with this building. We burn it to the ground!"

Shan wriggles like a bag full of snakes, managing to twist his head around to Viktor's eye-level. "Oh good." He says smoothly, trying and failing to get his knife into the zombie. "The window, then?"

There is biting, clawing and pressing and effectively the whole ordeal is pushing the group back towards the window by sheer numbers.

"The window." Viktor rasps in agreement, trying and unsuccessfully kicking at a zombie. It clings to his leg - another passenger for the trip, "Are you ready?" He assumed Shan knew what he meant in regards to not just leaping out the window, which he was about to do, but throwing some fire out on the way out.

Kalixi doesn't need to be told twice. With a hearty "ABANDON SHIP!" she kicks at a zombie currently clawing her tail and scrambles her way over a bunk bed to get herself in position to fling herself out the minute space becomes available.

Lophostri squawks a bit as the wooden armor disintegrates without quite stopping the last bit of zombie clawing. "No argument here!" And the queue for the window is joined.

Nikolai aids Lophostri towards the window and turns to Kalixi with arms outstretched "Awkward as it may be, JUMP! I will do my best to catch you!" he shouts.

Shan pulls a tentacle out of a pocket, wrapped around a dark bottle of something. "I've been ready this whole time." The octopus jams the bottle into the zombie's mouth, and a second tentacle produces and strikes a match, holding the flame against the bottleneck. Once the flame catches, he heaves the zombie to one side. "Let's us make haste now."


No doubt owing to the illustrious Brighton Academy of Arcane Arts, Dalgan Walk has a thick concentration of what used to be magical supply shops where everything from alchemical components to enchantment reagents could once be purchased. Oddly, despite other shops elsewhere in town still seeming to have supply, the shops here seem to have been stripped of everything as a peek through any of the doors would make clear. A stray, bleached, humanoid skull is resting near the gates leading into the Academy's courtyard.


Jumping out of a window while not generally advised, is still the better option, and while the landings are a bit rough they aren't so harmful beyond a few scrapes and bruises. Viktor lands on his feet, saving Shan the trouble of that rough landing save for a bit of a rattling about, though rather than set Shan down for now, he merely, yet awkwardly wraps the octopus man around his shoulders, half tucking him in the hood of his coat.

Everyone manages to make it out safely before the fire really starts to spread, and the window is literally jammed with zombies who are not frantic because there is fire, but frantic because their only missive has been to attack the party. However, their dried, husk like nature does much to help the fire spread inside, as does all the old wood, and soon the entire building is alight.

This escape comes with another boon - though Nikolai with his distaste for snakes may not think so - as Syvis, Tade's rather large ruby snake appears right on Nikolai's shoulders, snoot to his cheek like 'HELLO'.

Jump? Kalixi does indeed jump, flinging herself like a furry carpetbag full of steel cables, right into Nikolai's waiting arms. So much floof, indeed. Once they're safe on land, she wheezes a very amused "Huff! Been years since a feller's offered ta ketch me, imagine at this a--- OI!" She gives Syvis a double dose of stink-eye and bristled whiskers. "GET YE OWN DOCKSMAN, YE STOWAWAY."

There's rather a lot of flapping as Lophostri approaches the ground fairly fast. Well, slower than the rest of the crowd at least. The outburst from the otter certainly catches his attention. "...I can't decide if her arrival is a good thing or not."

After not dropping her upon catching her, Nikolai almost did upon the otter's sudden shouting in his face... And the realization that something heavy and scaly was on his shoulders and had just touched his cheek. His entire body tensed "THRICE DAMNED WIZARD!" Attempting to regain as much composure as possible, Nikolai put Kalixi down gently, before tensing up again. Snakes. He hated snakes, Tade was now upon his shitlist as well. Attempting to be civil with the serpent, he began trying to extricate himself from underneath it to no avail. "Off. Down. ...Sit? REPTILE! Remove yourself from my shoulders!" He sighed "Please?"

Shan unwraps his arms from Viktor's shoulders, and flops unceremoniously to the ground. "Well now." He says smoothly, straightening himself up. "Wasn't *that* exciting? I trust that everyone has escaped with various appendages still attached?"

"I think you'll find that there are always other options." Shan says primly. "The ship is that direction. There's hills that way. The forest is over there." Three tentacles point in three different directions. "So how does this snake work? Is it a compass?" The octopus observes Viktor with some skepticism.

"I was bored waiting." Viktor offers as his sole justification for wandering off. It was the truth, and whether it was a good reason for disappearing into the fog, through which one may or may not find their way to the things Shan was directing to, well that was a bit less clear. Or really it wasn't a particularly good reason at all, but Viktor found it to be enough, "The fop doesn't have to agree. That's why we're pirates." A rough, sloppily wet sounding chuckle slurps from Viktor's mangled throat before he turns back towards Shan, "I don't know. I just like her colour."

While they hem and haw, Syvis slithers down from Viktor's shoulders, curling her tail end around his wrist to give a little tug in a specific direction before he's fully released. She slithers some ways in the direction the group should, according to her, be going before pausing and raising her head to look back at the group with serpentine expectation.

"I think-" Viktor asides to Shan, as his gaze follows the immense snake, one step taken forwards from the tug, "She's answering you herself." His hand raises to tousle at his unkempt hair, "I can't hear her." Unlike the ghosts, who were still chattering a million words layered on top of each other into Viktor's ears.

Meanwhile, the fire from the dormitories is spreading. Fast.

"Methinks," Kalixi cuts in, in her rusty-bucket voice, "The serpent be leadin' us to her... well, it be either her master or her pet, ain't quite figured out which, yet, which hopefully be away from this ruddy mess. Any port in a storm, lads!" She hikes up her traveling waders and starts lumber-hopping after the snake.

Lophostri looks perhaps a tad irked as he trots off after the otter lady. "Long as the port's not also on fire"

"Thank you for the reminder, Viktor." Nikolai says quietly through a smirk. "You are right. On top of that, the human playing at being an elf, has something of mine. As much as I'd love to leave this mess behind and get back to my ship, I desire to not let him think he's won something over me." Sighing, he adds "Very well, basilisk, lead on."

"Well, off we go then." Shan undulates in the same direction as the snake, moving slightly ahead and to one side. The octopus keeps his eyes on a swivel, watching carefully for anything up ahead. "And may I suggest." He monologues dryly. "That in the future the rallying point be agreed upon in advance, so as to avoid developing a habit of following magical creatures off into the wilderness. I had a sibling that thought a porpoise was trying to communicate with them. But as soon as they got close! Chomp! One bite!" Shan pauses and half-turns to regard the snake thoughtfully. "This one's not that big. You're probably safe."

Syvis may not be large enough to eat a person whole, but she is still a very large snake. A tongue flicker flicks towards Shan, and the serpent continues on the way, leading towards the university looming up the street, vaguely visible through the fog. It is odd to be able to see the silhouette at all, for how thick the miasma is, added to by the smoke billowing from the old wood buildings that were quickly catching the flame from the group's dashing and daring escape.

Viktor hangs back for only a moment to ensure that Nikolai is following despite his definite dislike of serpents before he marches forwards like some slouching sentinel to follow after Shan, "You should have eaten the porpoise." Viktor suggests with a slurping rasp that morphs into a rattling chuckle, "How many siblings did you have?" Surely this isn't the first sibling tale that's been shared!

"..I'd fret more about bein bit by her keeper, all told," Kalixi rasps, sooty and muddy and worried and annoyed. She lumber-hops after the snake familiar, rattling and hissing to herself. "Luck be with ye findin' any manner of rally point when ye cannot hardly see a bow's spit in either direction, and yet here we be, and there be the ill fated place now, like a cliff in the fog. Only one way to go but forward, and the wind willing, we get our Knight and get the hell's bell's out of here."

Lophostri nods slightly at that, and clicks his beak slightly in faint annoyance. It really has been one of those days. "Curious how visible that place *is* through this muck..."

"One thousand and seven." Shan says curtly. "This is the place? Best be cautious, then." The octopus slumps down into a pile of cloak and quietly creeps forward towards the building.


The oppressive and unsettling feeling that had whispered throughout Brighton concentrates here in the courtyard, seeming to grow stronger the closer one gets to the heavy doors that lead into the Academy. It is strange, the way the courtyard seems to have remained pristine in the wake of all the decay evident throughout the rest of the town. The cobblestone walkways are undisturbed, looking as if they were just freshly laid, and the trees lining them look well maintained and lacking any of the wild overgrowth that has taken the trees beyond the academy's gated grounds. The grass is green, though when the breeze whispers through it the rustles sound like indistinct whispers that leave a cold feeling shivering down the spine. The academy stands tall and proud at the center of these grounds, the layered stone walls and peaked roofs left just as untouched by time as the courtyard itself.


Viktor was very much not a sneaking sort, and he lankily lumbers into the courtyard to look around. Visions of this and that flit before him, and unseen to the others he watches spirits go about the routines of old with their faces twisted into masks of silent agony. The way this particular spot seems untouched by all the rot and corruption only adds to the intensification of the unsettling feeling that permeates the area.

Syvis seems to care nothing for a sneaking approach as well as she slithers onwards, headed straight down the cobbled walkway towards the heavy entrance of the university, closed and barred as of yet. A faint shimmer seems to glisten in a strange way around the building, as if the entire thing were covered in a bubble.

Kalixi, in particular, would find the crystal amulet in her possession drawn and pulling towards the building.

"Arh, finally, ye stirs it, me little shiny," Kalixi barks in mild surprise - "Well, it wants to go in there, for good or ill, seems if." She wraps the chain a few times around one wrist to keep her free hand free to wield that scaled-down cutlass. "Every hair on the back of me neck tells me that our Great Wizard be on the wrong side of that magickal wall, an likely our Knight and our enemy besides. Every kingdom above seas and below for a ruddy break in this cloud!"

Lophostri tilts his head slightly at the shimmer bubble around the building, and nods. "Well, let's find a way in then."

Nikolai does his best to shake the odd feeling of dread that seemed to be permeating his being. Normally he'd dismiss it as sailor's superstition, but he could tell Viktor was also picking things up with his... Gift, and did not doubt there were most definitely remnants of souls around.

"Well." Shan shrugs with four arms simultaneously and makes a vague gesture towards the gate. "You've got a magic snake and a... whatever that is." He points towards Kalixi. "Look for key-holes that fit. Or you could try just pushing them against the magic shield, and see if that does anything."

Syvis slithers right up to the door, as close as she can get with the iridescent shield blocking her way, and lifts her head to look back at the group expectantly. Her tongue flickers out frequently, tasting the smoke that's quickly flooding the area, the fog becoming tinged with a shadow of red as the fire rapidly spreads through the town, engulfing streets and houses alike in fire. Distantly the sound of a building collapsing echoes.

Viktor slows down a moment to turn and look towards Kalixi, squinting at her and her crystal amulet. His steps ever-slowing, he eventually drags behind to move apace with Nikolai now instead. Leaning in close, he mutters something quietly to his cousin, the rasping of his breath louder than the words he shares.

Kalixi peers first at Shan, snuffling thoughtfully to herself, then nods. As she lumber-hops over to the barrier, crystal in one hand and cutlass in the other, she fixes Viktor and his whispering with a flinty sidelong glance and a baring of fangs. "We be in enough danger as a whole without shit-whispers behind me back. Think ye not just because I be old that I be slow... or soft." Muttergrumble hiss. Palm out, she waddles to where the crystal's 'pull' is strongest and tries to let it tug itself into the barrier.

Lophostri watches with interest as the otter lady does what she can to open up the barrier. Maybe it's just stress, maybe some nervousness, but the feathery fingers on his right hand keep flexing a bit.

Nikolai winks, pats Viktor's arm, and moves around him towards Kalixi. "Nothing to worry about, Madame." He flashes a smile in an attempt to ease some tension. "It looks as though you've discovered something. What do you think?"

Shan folds several tentacles over one another into a complicated knot, and watches Kalixi to see if anything happens.

Syvis curls around Kalixi's furry little feet for a moment before slithering aside to let her work. The serpent's gaze angles across to Nikolai, watching him in silence.

Viktor's lips ease up into a crooked smile, stormy blue-grey eyes cast ahead and flickering between Lophostri, Kalixi, Shan and his cousin, Nikolai. While he moves forwards some, he hangs back, watching as the crystal sinks into the barrier. Cracks shatter the surface, racing along the barrier until it shatters completely into a million different shards that dissipate into tiny points of refracting light before disappearing entirely.

Not long after the barrier had fallen away. There was the frantic thump of feet as Ulfarr came running out the doors. Tade in a fireman's carry over his shoulder, while he had a rather large sack that was rather filled up bouncing at his side as he was too stubborn to leave it. Seeing the others he felt relieved for a moment and moved straight to Kalixi, run now turning into an awkward limp. Kneeling he slid Tade off his shoulders to lay him down in front of her. Revealing how there was a decent hole right in Tade's chest, oozing out of his wound wasn't just blood but what looked like stars pooling in dark red. Plenty of it was smeared across the back of Ulfarr's armour, but that was less important. He just pointed at the Best Wizard Ever. "You need to fix him up quick and then prepare for a fight."

"What under the sky be this?!" Kalixi barks, her little voice rattling like rusty hardware falling into a tin trough. She tucks her cutlass back into its sheath before kneeling next to the battered Wizard, planting one paw on the ground and one paw over his leaky chest wound. "I be unsure as icy waters if the lad even be recoverable, me Knight, so pray to whatever ye have that there be enough spark in this cursed earth for me to pull from." There is the distinct scent of freshly turned earth and spring rain on clean stone, along with the crackle of leaves underfoot and wind hissing gently through swampside rushes. "...if this even works, I be tapped clean... this day has been too long and too choppy."

Lophostri looks decidedly worried about the otterlady being too drained to help much further, and Ulfarr just gets a not too hopeful look "Not pinning much hope on a quick escape, then?"

Somewhat surprised to see Ulfarr alive, Nikolai backs up and motions to Viktor and says something quietly before announcing somewhat loudly, "Viktor is well-versed in anatomy. You might let him have a look at the wizard. He's odd, we know, but something-something don't punch a gift horse in the mouth or whatever."

Shan shuffles up to Lophostri's side. "Making a quick escape does seem like the better idea." He seconds, pointedly. "Run now. Heal later."

It was certainly the magical barrier which Kalixi had shattered with the help of the pendant, and not this flimsy building which had imprisoned this abomination as a shower of wood, glass and stone fragments pelt down at the party. What bursts through the top of the building is clearly something which was not meant to be. Though large, the bulk of it's mass seems to be a ball of twigs with a large, robin's egg blue stone about the size of a very large watermelon. A thin twist of twigs extends to either side in some bizarre imitation of arms, while another blue stone serves as the head, the entire thing clothed in a tattered hooded robe that flaps and sways around it's mass, getting caught on prodding little sticks. It hovers high above the group, not seeming to notice them in the first moments of freedom.

Viktor is a bit like a shark in bloodied waters when he sees the injured wizard's egregious wound, and with a bit more animation than his usual hunched gait, he creeps up to stand behind Nikolai's shoulder, favouring the left. A slow, slithering smile creeps across his lips as it's directed towards Kalixi, "Yes." He breathes sloppily, wet and harsh all in the same moment, "I can *help* the wizard."

Kalixi's spell does much to help stitch the gaping wound in Tade's body shut, but the damage had been done and he still needed to recover, even if he was currently in the throes of trying to drag himself up into a sitting position, "Silly girl." He offers, and though his voice is hoarse and riddled with pain, "It really hurts but I would have been fine."

Ulfarr's eyes dart across the group, partly critical - mostly critical and also concerned, before his gaze looped back to Tade and his wounds that was leaking black starlight. His brow twitched. Now that he thought on it he could smell it just a bit on the breeze. The ash, this was indeed awful. "Actually, I was wrong. If you've all set the place on fire it'd be better if we get out now before we're trapped. I would've thought fighting was perhaps possible, but not without an avenue of escape and I doubt Tade is able to just magically get us all out right now." He would perhaps demand and order, but at the same time he didn't want too. Instead he'd just gesture to Kalixi and Viktor to look at Tade. "Patch him up. Quick. Then I kindly suggest we all leave before we end up like him."

Kalixi leans over and aims a gentle(?) slap at Tade, either to help him regain consciousness or to discourage him from calling her a silly girl. Not sure, and her whiskery expression doesn't really qualify, considering her earflaps are already flat to her head and her whiskers are already abristle. "Couldn't be helped, young Knight, there be as many dead as hairs twixt me ears. His Oddness be as patched as I can manage, aye. Full speed away, if we all be able."

Lophostri nods at Shan's remark about escaping, and again at Kalixi's further comment about getting out of here. "Feel like we're about as able as we can reasonably hope for."

Nikolai narrows his eyes slightly at the Tade. "Viktor, before we get killed by the flying, rock-twig ghost... Thing... Why don't you give the wizard a quick look over, and get him on his feet?"

Shan quickly comes to a conclusion. "I am not trying to stab that." He announces firmly, giving Ulfarr a disdainful look. "Now, there's a chance all that tinder is flammable, but an equal chance that whatever is left can still kill you. So I'm definitely going to run and hide." He spinelessly undulates towards the shelter of the nearby buildings.

Objectively it's impossible to tell how the aberration sees, and without eyes impossible to tell where it may be casting it's senses, however it's safe to assume that the group below is not unknown to it. However, there is something to be said for freedom, and a piercing screech rips through the air - difficult to say what emotion is meant to be conveyed in this one. However there is a feeling, like the cold of spirits touch is being sucked up towards it. Like it's feasting.

Viktor maintains that eerily placid smile that's too pleasant for his normally dark and dreary energy, and with Nikolai's blessing(thanks cousin!), he moves forwards to insert himself into the circle around Tade to have a look.

Ulfarr looked up as he heard the sounds of a roof being blown out by a monstrosity. The knight froze up. Then after that moment quickly moved to pull Tade back onto his shoulders in a firemans carry. No longer heeding what the others were saying. As that creature he truly feared since it absolutely would kill him. "Time to goooo!" He says through clenched teeth. Now starting to jog for the exit. Sorry Tade.

Slap! This is apparently not Tade's day as he is slapped then thrown right back over Ulfarr's shoulder for his tender stomach to slam dunk right onto that hard, unpleasant armor. He wheezes out a fitful groan and resolves to live his life as a limp noodle.

There's not much shelter to be found in any nearby building, though the town gates and a sewer grate do happen to be close by.


While the northern gate stands tall, and largely intact, there is a bit of crumbled stone work where a cart seems to have crashed into the wall. Even so it remains sturdy, and the mechanism which works the gate is a bit stiff with rust, but otherwise useable. Currently the gate remains open, as if the people had vanished in the middle of the day when the gates were usually kept open to allow merchants and travelers to pass. Every so often a damp waft of air comes from a passage further down the wall which seems to lead to sewers below the town.


"Yarh, yarh, out out out," Kalixi rasps, wheezing as she lopes to and fro like a nervous herding dog, ensuring that no one is lost and no one is left behind. "All ahead, all ahead, run fer yer lives as yer lives be fair, foul and fire behind us be." Back and forth, lumber-hopping in a zig zag, occasionally casting teeth-bared glances over her shoulder, she herds the group towards OUT.

Lophostri is indeed herded along with the justifiably cranky otter lady. There's much trotting and ruffling of feathers along the way. His quietness probably isn't a lack of breath, so much as just focusing on staying alive.

Despite the obvious threat, Nikolai can't help but smirk and lightly chuckle. It had been a while since he'd had to flee for his life twice in one day. Trying to swallow his oddly placed mirth, he shouted to his crewmen: "Shan! Viktor! It appears the profit is NOT worth the effort anymore, comrades! Follow the fuzzy one!" He couldn't help it anymore and cackled as he sprinted along.

Chester Inn Ellischester 08:21 PM 13 November 1488 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Chester Inn is hardly a place of luxury accommodations, the interior fairly spartan. The available rooms reflect this, with creaky, thin mattressed beds, rickety side tables and threadbare blankets. Part of the lower floor has been sectioned off into a restaurant for guests and locals alike to gather in, often serving fish done in a variety of preparations, though various types of other meats are available depending on what can be found at market. It's an open secret that often the rooms of the Chester Inn are used to make back-room type deals.

               It's a bit spartan, but the Inn's main floor has been decorated for the fall solstice with a few carved pumpkins and dried bouquets of wheat and field flowers.


Kalixi drag-hops her way down the stairs, after swaddling the unhappy Super Wizard in his room and ensuring everyone else was stable. "I have the greatest need," she wheezes, "To soak in the ocean for the next fortnight." There is a creak as she flops into the nearest empty seat. Whether it's the seat or the ottermom remains up to perception.

Lophostri nods wearily from the seat he'd already flopped into "While I can appreciate the notion, I will have to pass. It's impossible to look presentable with soaked feathers."

How one perceived Viktor as he hulked along, following the group back home while the other two had vanished to who knows where, may be a very personal thing. However, it can never be personal as it is a very stolid fact that he is creepy in mannerism, no matter what he intends with the actions he takes. Had he followed out of true concern for the so called Super Wizard, or was he a bit too interested in the blood that looked like a starry sky, similar but oh so very different to the blue tainted blood of the corpses they'd fought off for who knew how long in the damnable fog, "There's spirits in the ocean too." Viktor so pleasantly informs her with the disturbance of his ruined voice slurping right up his throat. The seat right beside the otter is claimed, and he leans a bit closer to Kali, the crow's feather collar rustling as the leather of his coat subtly creaks, "There's more spirits in the sea than there are here."

The bedraggled ottermom leans a bit closer to Viktor in turn, beady eyes a-shine, dark as olives. "Aye," Kalixi rasps, agreeably, in tones of one telling a particular sort of tale. "The cormorant above and the eel below, some says they bear the departed spirits, and some says they -eats- 'em." There is a wiggling of clawed paws to accentuate. "Praps they shall nibble the haunt from me fur so's I can sleep."

Lophostri clucks his beak slihgtly in apparent amusement "Well, you do seem to be calming down rather well after all that's happened."

Viktor smiles in a way that seems bemused but little else, "The seas aren't that generous." He rasps, reaching out to pluck thin, spidery fingers at the fur of Kali's shoulder as if lightly grooming her, his other hand gesturing, hopefully, to catch the attention of a waiter, "It curses us that venture onto it so much it gets into our blood." A sloppy chuckle issues forth, and a moment later his gaze turns to the waiter that's dropped by their table, the seafaring doctor ordering mead for the table before sending the man away.

Now that they've gotten out of the mysterious muck of Brighton, Kalixi unabashedly shimmies out of her land-lubber's waders, leaving them in a sad dusty pile under her chair while using the claws of one foot to scratch the other leg with otterly bliss. Viktor's approaching fingers get a rather serious side-eye, but other than a slight curling of her lips, she seems disinclined to stop him. "Tch. To ye, praps, but we be born asea, and asea we returns at the end of our days. If ye began there, it woulnda curse ye so." Scratch scratch scratch with one foot, then, switch! Scratch scratch scratch. She settles a bit further into her seat, and offers Lophostri a little fussy shrug. "All be alive what should be, and the dead be ablaze. Other than the smell and weary, I be fair enough."

Lophostri nods at that and gets to getting his feathers back into a more generally presentable state. "Is there anything to be done about... whatever that was floating around at us?"

Offering Lophostri a shrug, Victor casts stormy blue eyes towards the owl, peering over the rim of his round, dark lensed spectacles, "If it hasn't come here after us then it's not our problem anymore." Kalixi is rounded on by another smile, curiously none of which seemed the least bit comforting on Viktor's face. A few more plucks of fur before his hand returns to it's own lap, "It's too bad you can't see everything." The corners of his lips twitch a few times, as if the smile is undecided even though it remains steadfast on his face.

Kalixi bares her teeth, perhaps pleasantly, although there are a lot of teeth. "If we be fortunate," she rasps, making a warding little gesture with her claws, "The fire be cleansing the unrested souls as we speaks." There is a pause, as the great bundle of fur and muscles rearranges in the chair so that she can scratch scratch scratch at her armpit. "I doesn't find it bad at all, not being born on yon dies infaustus - unluckiest day, aye. Only then does ye see -everythin-." She punctuates this with a gentle snorfling noise, a weak and raspy expression of amusement.

Lophostri nods as he pokes at a particularly bothersome feather "Right now I'd settle for seeing an abandoned workshop that I could take over. Everything would be well past my useful focus."

Viktor offers a raspy laugh just in time for the waiter to arrive, who tries poorly to hide the squinch of his nose as he delivers the meat at just how grotesque the sound really is. A big jug and three wooden mugs, easily distributed and filled as Viktor keeps talking, "It's not distracting at all." He whets his throat with a slug of mead, "It's just another thing that's there, like grass or trees. Either you choose to notice them or not."

"Plenty abandoned here," Kalixi rasps, her little dry gravel voice a solid contrast to Viktor's throaty gurgle. "Whether or not it be a workshop, depends on what ye puts into it, seems if. The Refuge started as two houses, one I sheltered in to start, then we lashed it to its neighbor like two ships an' nailed it all together with scrap and salvage. No sailin' when ye has a pup." She takes her own mug between two paws and takes a long slug out of it. "Oarrh, that drives the chill out." Viktor gets another side eye, expression absolutely reading, 'and ye can keep 'em'.

Lophostri takes a long drink off his own mug with as much of a thoughtful expression as an owl obscured by a mead mug can have "Must see about going shopping for a place soon then."

Viktor glugs back his mead, and much like anything that travels the confines of his throat, the very action produces a wet, grotesque noise beyond the mere act of swallowing, "So you're not from here?" Viktor asks sidelong to Kalixi, though it very well applied to Lophostri as a question too. If one may consider anything of Viktor normal, now would be the moment, hunched in his seat, asking mundane questions.

"Narh," Kalixi rasps in return, finishing her mead and digging around in a forelimb pocket for a few tarnished coins. "Of The Silver Fang, I was, many a score ago. Used to be the sea was all right fer raisin the pups, but as the dark spreads, the less ye can sail it. So ashore I came, and a storm split me and me mate." After a series of thoughtful noises, she decides to perform the complicated series of twists and hops to heave herself out of her seat. The coins are left on the table. "I be quite late for a wash, a belly of hot soup, and me hammock. Fair skies to ye, and hopes that we've put the unquiet dead to rest."

Lophostri nods at Kalixi and her awkward departure "Rest well, if at all possible." Viktor just gets a shake of his owlish head "No, I was just passing through the area, intending to deliver a shipment of my carvings. Unfortunately, my horses didn't enjoy the company of the spirits that were wandering the area at the time, and there was a bit of a crash. By the time I came to, they were long gone, and most of the shipment was gone or simply ruined in the crash."

"Goodnight." Viktor's voice slithers simply sounding supremely sloshy, "That's very unfortunate." Empathy was a difficult thing to sound off with a voice like Viktor's, "It sounds like there's plenty of places for you to set up shop again here, though." Refilling his mug, he leaves the rest of the jug with Loph as he stands, offering a naturally unpleasant grin, "I should go see how the patient is doing." Though likely Ulfarr would block that little foray.

Lophostri nods as he refills his mug with what's left "Of course."