(2018-01-17) Venture Forth
Venture Forth
Summary: The Autumn Crown is found during a venture into the Hedge
Date: IC Date (2018-01-17)
Related: None
Player Characters: Eddie, Grayson, Lucas, Tyla, Savoi, Velvet

So many things to be figured out and what feel like so few answers. But then, the only way to get some of those answers is to step outside your zone of comfort and trudge through the trenches. However, it's less trenches this time around and more untamed wilderness. Just like the Hedge everywhere else so far, this most recent gate leads to a trod that's been long since overrun by plantlife. Trees canapoy overhead, vines stretch out across the ground, shades of dark browns and greens surrounding, threatening to swollow all those who enter whole. Very little light makes it's way through the place, eerie, making the surrounding noises seem just that much closer.

"Ooh wee." Savoi says, flexing his fingers nervously. His black and grey fur shifting and flexing as he twitches, raising his head to scent the air. "Ya, dis is just the kind of welcoming nightmare I right expect afore I wake up screamin, ya?" He chuckles hesitantly and rolls his shoulders. "Do we know where we go'in or just kinda winging it here and hope against how we don't end up 'et?

"Well here it is." Tyla points out, pretty much using up all of her usefulness until the group gets in there and has to find their way back out again. "At least there isn't any black ooze this t-time." Tyla offers sticking close but hopefully also out of the way, though she does give Grayson a look every now and then. "Are you g-going to be okay in here?" She asks, a little worried.

There was no time wasted utilizing Lucas's cane as a prop — no, as soon as they'd stepped into the dark shadows of the hedge he'd unclasped the handle and drawn that blade of cold iron, the leaves and vines cringing away. "A preliminary scouting expedition, shall we call it," he says, voice a creaking echo from behind the plague doctor's mask of bone that he wears, the long beak seeming to smile despite the serious nature of his words, "We shall see what the Wild Hunt has done with the Hedge in our absence… and see if we can see where the fires burn black into the sky."

This is definitely outside Eddie's zone of comfort, but it doesn't seem to bother him as much as last time. No twitching, no buzzing, not even any strained attempts at humor. He seems a little preoccupied. Maybe just tired? He's been out all day running down leads, after all. "Huh? Yeah, what he said," he gestures vaguely at Lucas. "Seeing what we can see."

"Hey, lookie here." Savoi says as he bends down and flexes his claws. A few swipes and tugs later he's outlined the remains of a trod and then points his hand off in a direction. "I can just about keep making dis here out." The Cajun racoon says. He sniffs again and swipes his claws at the ground as he hunches over and steps a few feet forward. "Look like the country not totally forgot us, ya?"

Content enough towards the back this time, Velvet is covering the retreat. Bow in hand, at the very least she can shoot over people's shoulders. "Have I mentioned ow much I don't like the Hedge with all this overgrowth these days?" Probably a few times. Probably loudly. Lucas gets a tick of a brow, the edges of her lips curling. "Never stop talking," she murmurs before jutting her chin forward. "You're leading the charge then? And you," Eddie. "You brought the winter crown, right? In case?"

Grayson just escaped this place. Why on earth would he want to go back? A question to be answered later. But the small of stature Changeling is here. Carrying nothing and wearing sheer white clothes some have called indecent. Maybe he's trying to escape. He's certainly not prepared for much else. Tyla's words catch him, and he's already a little jumpy. He nods though, like he does to her, very emphatically. He's quiet otherwise, but it's easy to see curious eyes flow over everything. Maybe he's too ignorant to be properly scared.

Those looking close enough will find that Savoi is right, there's the remains of an old trod underfoot, but it's almost too difficult for most to make out beyond a foot or two. The vines along the ground are wriggling, starting to move and curl closer towards the group. Chances are that if they stand still for too long, they're going to become part of the scenery.

"Paths are g-good." Tyla agrees. "Better than last time anyway." As she peers into the Hedge. "So what we g-go from this gate to the next one? Or see if we c-can anyway?" She looks off into the hedge itself shifting and ducking a little. "Maybe this place has some fruit at least." She shifts the empty backpack on her back. "Or are we g-going to try and get the the Redoubt?"

"And what a lovely day for a stroll it is," Lucas's voice is joined with an eerie click-click-click of the beak of his mask as if laughing, and he strides forward int he direction that the trod seemed to lead, "Do you think you can follow it, my fine cajun friend…?" A look of glass eyes to Savoi, and then he snorts, "We're not going tot he Redoubt, not yet. We need to know what's out here… to the next gate should be a good test run. Listen for birds. And for the Hunt."

Eddie reaches under his coat, like he has to check, then nods at Velvet. It's there. He watches Savoi do his thing with a faint professional interest, more at the process than the results. Then the plants are moving, and he snaps to attention. "We better keep moving, whatever we're going to do." He glances back at Tyla and Grayson, frowns. "You sure it's a good idea, bringing him along?"

"Out in front eh?" Savoi frowns, and then shrugs. "Well, what the hey, everyone loves the 'ero right? Just remember ta burn my body with my kitchen knives and cook books." With that he lopes ahead a bit, taking on a more racoon like cast as he stays more hunched over to better observe the trail. His movements jittery and nervous as he constantly stops to sniff the air and peer about.

"Good." A look of relief Eddie's way as Velvet uses the end of her bow to thwack away some of the vines that are beginning to creep. "I'd rather he be with us were we can keep an eye on him. Besides, where's he gonna go?" She gestures to the surrounding bushes. "Right Grayson?"

Tyla shrugs and waves a hand in Velvet's general direction. "No more sharing custody, just confuses things." Tyla reminds Eddie and waves again in Velvet's direction. "But with how this place ch-changes, I d-doubt even if someone is still looking for him that they would find him with how everything is so grown. Anyway this p-path seems good. Right direction if we're trying to g-get to the next gate. Not too far away. Well…about fifty yards or so. That g-good?" Tyla ducks again and lets out a happy little squeal. "And if anyone who has a longer reach than me d-doesn't mind I think I see a couple of flowers. Hedgefruit! See, the little yellow trumpet ones?" She points them out and starts to shrug off her backpack.

People keep talking about him like he's not right there. Grayson eyes go to Eddie curiously, and then to Tyla, as if she might tell him he can't go. Then Velvet is speaking and he nods to her a lot. "Yes, Miss?Velvet." Good save. And then there's Tyla. She doesn't say no, which is good. But that second part. His eyes go wide and he peers into the Hedge. Well, now he's on edge.

"Careful." Lucas doesn't say don't, he just offers that warning. Eyes of glass consider the flowers in question for a moment, "They could prove useful. I doubt we'll… get many chances to gather fruit for some time. The foliage seems rather aggressive however."

"So long as he leaves the 'Mistress' stuff at home. Nothing out here is for bowing to." Eddie aims that last line directly at Grayson, not very kindly. He trudges after Savoi, kicking out every once and a while at root or a vine. The fragile ones, that he thinks he can take. He looks over at the fruit when Tyla points it out, tries to remember back to the little bit Bea taught him, can't. "Do you know what they are? What they do? Sometimes they just turn you to stone, or grow you a set of donkey ears."

"N-no." Tyla admits quietly and dejectedly as she stares at the flowers and committing them to memory. "I feel comfortable in here, though which d-doesn't make much sense. D-didn't really come out here much before we started forgetting. I think I d-did a lot when I c-can't remember now." She admits. "I have vague memories of making other p-people feeling better with Hedge fruit, so I must have n-not found the ear one at some point. Probably." She shakes her head. "D-don't recognize it now though, if I d-did."

Seemingly only able to parcel out the trod in small bursts Savoi lopes ahead. Then stops and searches, then lopes a bit more. At least until he's brought up short by the cry of 'Hedge Fruit' perking his ears the Cajun'coon straitens up and saunters on over. "Oh, hey, hey, you let ole Savoi have a crack at that." He says and extends a clawed left hand towards the fruit just temptingly off the path. A few steps out he reaches and grabs down some of the flowers with a few deft motions. Severing the fruits and seemingly being wary of the tree they're wrapped around.

He got them! Savoi's hands wrap around the fruit, starting to pull back. Before he can pull more than an inch or two away from the tree, one of the wrapped vines suddenly hisses to life. It's quick, alarmingly so, an as it moves, it's clear that it was never really a vine. A pair of slit, golden eyes peer from just a little higher on the tree. It starts to wind itself around the offending hand, squeezing around Savoi's wrist to hold him steadily against the tree.

Tyla lets out a little yelp at seeing Savoi reach and get the fruit, and then get wrapped up since she was just trying to commit the flowers to memory. She swings the empty backpack at the eyes, trying to whip it like a dishtowel and hoping maybe to annoy it enough, or hit on of the eyes with the zipper or something. She's not strong, but it's all she's got. "So n-not Hedge Fruit then!" That get's committed to memory too.

"Aw, hell." Eddie rushes forward, shrugging off his coat as he goes and twisting it into sort of a makeshift rope. He lunges forward towards Savoi, to try and loop it around the imperiled raccoon and drag him back toward the trod. "Little help?" He calls at the group without looking back.

"…quite aggressive," Lucas murmurs hollowly behind his mask, and then he steps over as well, head turning to follow the length of the vine with his eyes - attempting to ascertain the source, be it serpent or tentacle.

"Aww crap." Savoi remarks as the tree reaches out at him. Tendrils sliding around his arm squeezing tightly. "Oww! Oww!" He manages to keep a grip on the flowers as the plant squeezes. His other hand swinging up and flexing to stretch out his claws which he swipes at the plant. Trying to dig into the thick greenery enough to get free, his claws finding little purchase as he swipes and digs, grunting in pain as his other arm is wrenched.

For what it's worth, Savoi has a good grip on the flowers that Tyla wanted, even with the deterant of the beast that is trying to keep him from taking them. Eddie's rope wraps around Savoi, trying to help give the man a little leverage to pull himself away. Claws rake the along the vine's body, causing green to ooze out from the wound. It's enough to cause the creature to reer back with a hiss, it's body loosening for just long enough to yank the man's hand free from it's grip. An arrow follows up the claw slice, pinning a part of the animals body to the tree. Lucas has stepped in closer, following the line of the creatures body back beyond the tree line. With it's body pinned, the rest of the creature begins to thrash, revealing to Lucas something a little further from the trod a it kicks debri and leaves out of the way.

"Really?" That's all Velvet can muster as she lifts the bow. "Try not to move too much." Eyes narrow as she takes a deep breath and then lets it out, letting the arrow fly. It's not the best shot, granted, but it seems to be enough to piss the thing off. "We need to move. There could be more of these things."

Tyla does absolutely nothing to help, and sort of feels bad for pointing them out, and Savoi getting caught up by a thing in the first place. "Are you okay?" She asks, going a familiar shade of purple.

Eddie stumbles backward and nearly falls when the tree lets go of Savoi, but he manages to keep to his feet. He shakes his coat off of the raccoon and slings it over his shoulder, grabbing his gun out from under his jacket. It's the big one tonight, the 1911. "Sounds good to me. Where are we going?"

Can you hear that? Off in the distance? A single howl echoing.

As the question's asked, Lucas is still staring out into the tangles of thorns and vines where that one serpent-vine came from. Then he raises one hand, gloved fingers lifting upwards - and as Eddie and Savoi stumble away, those leather-clad fingers suddenly clench. There's a whirl of chill wind around him, leaves of gold and red rustling in the air, and an eerie light gleams in the glass eyes of his mask. "Die," he says, voice echoing against bone, and the vine suddenly shrivels and stills where it's draped.

"There is something in its nest," he states calmly, "We need to acquire it. Preferably before the Hunt arrives."

"Ooof." Savoi lets out as he's freed and dragged backwards. Swiftly back to his feet once the coat/rope is off. He uses his thumb to clean his claws slowly. Then turns and nods once to Eddie then the others. Before he grins to Tyla and offers her up two flowering fruits, on the tips of his fingers. "Dere ya go mon chere." He sniffs and grins, then his hair seems to stand on end at the sound of the howl. His lips curling back to showing his fangs at that noise. Then with a glance at Lucas he shrugs. "'Ere we go again. Let me guess I'm nest raiding?" He wiggles his fingers nervously after brushing his right hand under his t-shirt.

"Whoa." Immediate recogniztion shines in Velvet's eyes as Lucas orders the thing to die. She's never seen it quite so effective, however. She angles herself a little bit, eyes narrowed as she focuses past the man towards the indicated nest. Lips thin as the bow raises again. "Lucas, go. I'll try to snipe anything that gets close enough."

The vine succumbs to what looks like immediate dehyrdation. It begins to shrivel and fall away from the tree completely, it's shading shifting to a muddy brown as it flops to the brush below. The thrashing has stopped with the death of the creature, leaving a tiny, now-clear path towards the nest.

"Thanks." Tyla says quietly, taking the flowers and placing them in her backpack and shrugging it back on. She looks back the way they came and squints a bit to Eddie's question and points in two different directions, but looks at Grayson to see how he's doing at the sound of the hounds. "Well if we g-go back, we're going that way. B-but I d-don't know how much longer that p-path is going to be open." She says, biting her lower lip. "Just a few minutes if someone grabs it and we g-go back." And then she wiggles a finger on the hand pointing in the other direction. "Or that way along the p-path to the other gate." She just stands there like a weird, fae-touched weather-vein.

Eddie gives Savoi a don't-worry-about it gesture, and he lets out a low whistle as the thing shrivels and dies. He looks down the path toward the nest, sees what everyone else is seeing. "Doesn't fit the pattern, exactly," he says, suspicion in his voice. "But I guess we've got to chance it." He raises the gun, gripping it with both hands, the way they teach you to do, and goes to stand apart from Velvet so they can cover more angles.

Lucas inclines his head slightly at Velvet's words, and then he walks forward; that yellowed bone 'beak' of his mask seeming to gape slightly in the grin of a dead avian as he approaches the next, the hem of that waxed leather coat dragging over the dead vine-tentacle as he passes. "Winter is found in sadness and loss," he speaks, reaching out one gloved hand towards the crown to attempt to claim it from the hand, "Summer found through the boldness and courage of one. And Autumn… through one willing to seek in the tangles of darkest magic. The pattern holds, brother."

The dead hand is attached to a very dead woman. It looks like she had meant to protect this crown but had fallen prey to the vine creature atleast two days ago, strangulation marks clear now that Lucas is close enough. He manages to pry the coronet from her fingers just as another howl starts to rip through the air. This time joined by other in varying directions. Still not dangerously close, but moving in.

There's a wave of relief in Savoi as Lucas goes for the crown instead of himself. Shifting on his feet he brushes his hands over his clothes and then scratches behind his right ear absently. "Well now why don't we.." There's a pause at another set of howls. "Get the hell outta heah?" Again his lips curl as his fangs show and brings up both of his hands as his claws reflexively show. "Not quite in the mood ta fight fair, ya? Prefer to find a way to get dem in a pinch rather den let them run right up our behinds."

Giving Eddie's shoulder a little bump of appreciation, Velvet never takes her eyes off of the area around Lucas, training the bow around him just in case any other snake-vine things think about popping up. "The man's right, getting the hell out of here seems like a really good idea, wouldn't you say, oh Autumn King?" She bobs her head, gesturing for Lucas to hurry back towards the trod.

"Having found that, and with the hounds c-coming? Much as I would like to explore some more, I think the best bet is to head back the way we c-came." Tyla says and drops the hand pointing to the far off gate. "That way." She points off back the way the group came, keeping an eye on Grayson. "But we have to g-go now, and that's even if Lucas d-doesn't put it on. Please don't put it on Lucas. I'm tired of b-birds." Tyla half begs, half jokes. "I mean we d-don't even know if Eddie's has ch-charges or something. We d-don't want them to run out, right?" She then grins and looks over at Lucas. "Wouldn't it be d-double King now, or something? Emperor?"

"Remind me to pick up some rubber gloves before we go looking for the next one," Eddie deadpans, eyes staring down the sight of his gun. His finger edges toward the trigger as Lucas reaches toward that dead hand, then back to the trigger guard when it doesn't snap up to choke anybody. He relaxes, a little, despite the howls. "I'm with the raccoon. Time to take the run-out. This much good luck makes me nervous."

The crown of leaden mirrors is weighed in Lucas's hand, and he regards it for a few long moments through the glasses eyes of the mask. "Hello, old friend," he murmurs lowly, "Perhaps I was right. Perhaps seven years was enough…" At the urgings of the others, he finally turns with a rustling of leaves to stride back towards the trod, iron blade in one hand and crown in the other, "…yes, yes. You're quite right, of course, time to go. We are not ready for the Huntsman."

Shifting on his feet Savoi looks left then right, then starts loping back along the trod towards the exit. "Right, we go. I need me a drink and a few soaks in the tub. Or a few soaks in the bottle and a tub of drinks." Dark eyes on the edges of the trod as he scours it out, his shape moves along a brisk pace. Pausing every once in awhile to make sure no one has fallen behind.

Once Lucas is back on the trod, Velvet drops the bow back down towards her side, still strung. "No we are not." She gestures for Grayson to follow along with the group as they begin to move.

Tyla is a little distracted, thinking about something. She's watching where she's going, sticking to the path, and the right direction, but she's deep in thought about something, when suddenly she blurts out. "Eddie! That thing you said yesterday that Lucas told you about five c-crowns. You said something about seasonal things but everything I was reading about oaths and pledges I was t-telling you was all about seasons. What if the fifth one is n-no c-court? Can you g-guys not have one? I d-don't know how any of this works." She's thinking back, really hard though, past when she can't remember. "I think I remember meeting someone who d-didn't have a court…" She trails off looking at Grayson oddly. "I think they had just escaped t-too, but weren't part of a court yet?"

"Three down," Eddie mutters, letting the gun hang down in one hand as he moves along with the others. He spares Tyla a brief glance as she speaks, but keeps his eyes darting around the periphery of the trod, mostly. "There's Courtless, sure. Mostly useless, but you run into the odd exception. Other Courts in other places, too, I heard, and those Solstice dummies." He sounds distracted, not giving it much thought. After a moment he changes speed to match pace with Lucas. "We've got to talk. I found something today."

Hooooooooooooooowl. Getting closer!

At the statement, Lucas's head tips in a slight nod to Eddie. "Of course," he says quietly, "You know where I live, Eddie." Then he's looking back towards the path, moving with a brisk stride. To Tyla's questions. he states— "Yes. The Solstice. The Margravate, out on the Brim. Loners and rebels. There are always the Courtless about on the fringes of things."

"Hmm." Savoi says, standing up strait and watching in the direction of the howl, he peers around and motions along the path. "C'mon, get mov'n." Shifting on his feet he lopes on ahead continuing to help plot out the path back out of the ever changing landscape of fast moving vines.

"You gonna share with the rest of the class?" Velvet wonders of Eddie with a little bit of a smirk. Her feet hit the ground a little faster as the howls get closer, checking to her side to make sure that Grayson is following along with the group. "When we're out of here, I mean."

Tyla gives Eddie a little shrug, and makes that sound that generally means I don't know. "G-guess I'll have to look more at the books, If I know what to look for." A tiny shrug as she picks up the pace too. "And I have some things I n-need to tell you too, Lucas. Eddie knows them but he figured you would know what to d-do with it though." She adds after silently taking note of the things Lucas has said. "Here it is! She explains happily. She points and then she is out of there. She only has a backpack as a weapon and that is probably no match for dogs - it didn't do much to the vines anyway. Out she goes, waiting on the other side. Conversations to be continued.

Eddie doesn't answer that, for a while. He picks up the pace along with everyone else. Once they're in sight of the gate, he spares Velvet a look. "Maybe." He breaks into a jog until he's back on terra firma.

Lucas's coat trails behind him, rat's tails twisting over the vines and grass as they walk. The howling grows closer, and his steps grow more brisk, boots crunching over dry leaves that aren't there with every footfall. "We can discuss this back on Earth," he states curtly, voice a hollow echo within the mask.

There is no grand display of heroism from Velvet. She seems quite content to run through the doorway as soon as the oppertunity presents itself. But she does turn, bow clenched in her hands as she waits to make sure that the others make it through.

Curiousity is one thing. It's wonderful, but those hounds. Grayson wants none of those. Up until now he's been observing this and clinging to every bit of shadow or background he can while still staying on the path. Now though, the Hounds, not a chance, he starts running past everyone and out through the door way. He's decided he doesn't like this place much. He's a fast little guy, too.

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