(2018-03-20) PRP: Goblin Bugs - Into the Woods
PRP: Goblin Bugs - Into the Woods
Summary: Bea and Audgrim venture into the woods beyond Forks, looking tracking the source of the Goblin Bugs.
Date: 2018-03-20
Related: http://darkwater.wikidot.com/log:2018-03-02-prp:goblin-bugs-the-sting-of-summer
Player Characters: Audgrim, Bea, Eddie as ST

A lot has changed out in Forks, over the last seven years. It's gotten a little bigger, and Port Angeles has gotten a lot bigger, and where they meet in the middle that storied home of sparkling vampires is looking more and more like a suburb of the big city every day. Still, there's a bunch of farms still out on the far side, and past the farms there's the forest, largely untouched in a lot of places. That's where those angry iron bugs seemed to be headed, after their visit to the homestead, so that's where our intrepid heroes find themselves on this sunny afternoon.

Bea is ready for an adventure. She's got her almost comically oversized axe resting on her shoulder, a heavy backpack fill of things that clank and crackle, dangling with useful things like ropes and nets. She's got an extra little side bag, which she's handed off to Audgrim like it's the Queen's jewels, informing him that inside is the picnic "for when we find the bugs". Bea is in top form, humming under her breath and moving along, trying to track those bugs to their source, strange little butterfly tongue flicking out to taste the air.

Audgrim is quite happy to be tasked with the important work of carrying the food, and hasn't actually eaten it yet either; he /did/ dig out some chicken which he ate and tossed the bone away, on the way into the forest. He walks light-footed across the undergrowth, leaving no traces of his passing. He's not very good at tracking bugs though but keeps alert senses on the ready, enhances with some fae power. His tail loops about in content circles; he does love the forest.

The bugs that got after Danny were pretty big as far as bugs go, but still just bugs. What's worse, they could fly, so picking up any kind of trail is difficult even with the keen senses of a Beast. Still, Bea knows the general direction she saw them buzzing off in, and she knows what she's doing. There are enough tell-tale signs as they progress deeper into the forest that she can get a sense they're headed at least vaguely in the right direction. Occasional holes chewed through the bark of the great tall fir trees, like the one she found near the roots of that tree stump on her property. A notable lack of a lot of the bugs she'd expect to find out here, around this time of year, maybe eaten or driven out by something new. Once or twice even a piece of something that might have been a shed husk, once.

Still, it's slow going, and the deeper they go the tougher it gets to know what direction to head in, with the signs spread out more and more all around them.

Audgrim can track other animals, and decides to do what he can to aid in this effort. The further they walk, the more closely he pays attention to the ground and looks for signs of animals he /can/ talk to. He veers off and gestures for Bea to follow, turning a bit left towards a small stream. "I think there is raccoon near here," he murmurs to her. "I can ask it if it see bugs."
The signs of animal passage are pretty thin, around here. Even larger creatures seem to be giving the area a wide berth. Still, Audgrim eventually manages to pick up a trail leading off into the undergrowth, to the base of a big half-dead cedar. Up in the branches there's a big half-dead raccoon, mangy and old with one eye glassed over. The kind that gets stuck with marginal territories. The kind you could imagine smoking a cigarette and playing with a switchblade in those nasty little hands they have. It stares down at him with its one good eye, very still, probably contemplating what his nose might taste like.

Audgrim stops a respectful distance from the raccon, and rummages around in the food bag for something nice to offer. He comes out with a piece of apple pie, holding it up towards the animal. "Hello, Asbjorn," he says, naming the animal. "Have some nice pie." He crouches down, and looks up at the animal, impressed with its general look. "Have you seen any angry beetles?" he wonders. "They move thruogh here, we think."

"Food?" Asbjorn (so named) stares down skeptically at the pie, weighing his options. You don't get to be that old and gross without being a little canny, out here. Finally, hunger wins out over caution, and he makes his way down the tree and toward the pie. He chews a little at the corner, testingly, and seems to approve. He grabs the tin with those little hands and starts dragging it away, in case the Nightsinger changes his mind. "Food. Okay, man. No good food, here. Too much bugs, come out of the bad root, chase off the good stuff. No good for eating."

Audgrim has the deepest sympathy for someone who doesn't get food as they're used to. He takes out some bread and leaves that on the ground too, careful not to be too close, keeping a respectful distance. "We want to find bugs and make them go away. So food can come back. Can you say where the bad root is? Or show us?"

"Don't you hear? Too much bugs. Stupid, stupid," Asbjorn says around a mouthful of pie, fixing Audgrim with a look of beastly disdain. Still, he's thinking, as much as a raccoon can do. Looking at the bread, working out the angles. "Okay, man. I show you root, you come back later. Bring more food." He drags what's left in the pie tin up against the side of the tree, and starts kicking dead leafs and pine needles over the top of it, to hide it 'til he gets back. He goes and does the same thing with the bread, and only then does he start waddling off into the woods, looking back once to make sure his foolish guests are keeping pace.

"I will come back, with lots of food," Audgrim promises, grinning at the raccoon. But carefully - showing teeth isn't something you just do unless you're aggressive. It's more of a smile. He stands up, and starts to follow, gesturing for Bea. "He will show us a root - might be where they live."

Bea wandered off when Audgrim started talking to racoons, after watching for a bit. Following a deer trail that clearly went cold, she returns, a few new twigs adn such in her hair. "Oh, a root would be good, and at least a start if there are any of those bugs in it. And that is very nice of him." She smiles at the raccoon and reaches out to give it a little pet, "Thank you Mr. Racoon.. That's real nice of you."

Asbjorn chitters with hostility at the touch, but he knows what he's getting out of this arrangement, and he calms down and lets it happen before continuing into the woods. It's pretty slow going. He's not as spry as he used to be, and the further he goes the more he feels the need to stop and listen and look around with that one good eye, very wary of his surroundings. It would be even slower, this far off the beaten path, but the Beasts don't have to worry so much about the undergrowth; it kind of gets out of the way, a little.

Finally, about half a mile from where they met him, Asbjorn comes to a stop. "Bad root," he says, "I go now. You bring more food, stupids, remember." He disappears with surprising alacrity, leaving Bea and Audgrim alone at the edge of a small clearing. One tree stands in the middle, leaning over at a severe angle, leaving the roots of one side exposed to the air. One particular root seems to be of obvious interest, curling up into the air and back down to earth again in a conspicuous arch. It'd be a tight squeeze for anything like a human, but something smaller (or a lot of somethings) could easily use it for a Gate. Or could have, once, before something chewed through the middle of it and broke the arch.

Audgrim gives Asbjorn a farewell wave, and says quietly; "I will be back." He's made a promise, and he'll keep it. He then crouches down at the clearing and squints over at the tree and the root-arch, scratching the side of his neck. "What do you think?" he asks of Bea - she's the bug expert here.

Bea waves to the raccoon as it heads off, then looks to the root, examining it curiously, trying to discern the particular variety of bites that have gnawed through it. "I wonder, maybe if we just…put something back on there, we could see if it is a gate…A little taller…." She looks Audgrim over, as if trying to guage just how tall he is. "But for sure, it seems like they didn't want anyone following them, those bugs." She moves around the area, examining trees, trunks and leaves for any sign of insect activity or another thing which could be used as a gate before returning to the bad root to stare at it thoughtfully.

Following Bea, Audgrim looks at the broken arch, not sure what he's looking for in the first place. "They want to stay here and not go back?" he ponders. "Hedge now is bad, very bad. Maybe they be pushed out and make sure that nothing else can come out." This is troubling, and Audgrim doesn't take this lightly. "Guess we need to see what is on other side."

Bea shrugs off the mention of the hedge being dangerous, laughing it off as she says, "Oh, it is not /that/ bad, and for sure it will get better soon, I am sure. And just I went out the other day and only got a little singed, so that's hardly any worse than it was before this dumb trap." She considers, then adds, "Or /maybe/ they pushed something else out, and didn't want it coming back in. Or maybe just they got hungry and ate the root, and forgot it was the way home. Or maybe…maybe they just came here, and then once Danny went all crazy on them they just realized they were on the wrong side of the gates, and went back to where they came from, and closed up this one so they wouldn't make that same mistake just twice in a row."

The arch was chewed through by bugs, there's no question of that. What's more, it seems to have been chewed through by several types of bugs, with slightly different sizes and mouth parts. The tree itself is alive, though not in great shape, but its problems mostly seem to predate whatever happened to the root. None of the holes burrowed into it that Bea has found in other trees, at least. Searching around the clearing, Bea and Audgrim find no living specimens of the type they're searching for.

What they do find is signs of a battlefield in miniature: broken husks and severed limbs in gold and glass and iron, and strange burnt patches of slag where the ground has been burnt. In the middle near the arch they're all jumbled together, but at the corners they mostly find collections of like with like.

"Think we need to go through and look," Audgrim says, carefully poking at some of that burnt slag with a claw, sniffing it. "Whatever happen, all bugs are dead here. Think they did try to stop something from coming out. But maybe they did not do it, something did come out and kill them all. Now I think, what if that something is still out?" He straightens up and starts looking around with a bit more alarm.

Bea wanders around the area, coming back around to the battle fiend, picking up the different pieces of bug and tasting each one in turn. "Looks like maybe there was just some big bug fight." She pulls out little ziploc baggies and carefully collects samples of each, noting cheerfully, "Even if we don't find any live ones, then at least these will probably be nice in my spice rack. But still, I would like to find them." She finally leans against the tree, hugging it like the durty, tree-hugging hippy she is, and asks softly, "Do you remember, just exactly what happened here with those strange bugs that ate your roots, Mr Oak tree?"

"I will remember… forever…" The oak says and its great sad slow voice. "My root… my finest root… severed… Ohhhh," it groans with self pity, a long low noise. "They came… so many, so many… through the door that I was… they chewed and chewed, and severed poor I… poor I, my finest, proudest root, the door that I was… then turned, turned upon themselves," a hint of glee, or satisfaction, "and fought, fought themselves… gold against black against glass… burning the earth… and freezing… oh, my root, my root…"

Audgrim doesn't understand tree speak, and all he hears is a few groans and some leaves rustling. He strains to understand though - maybe one day he can do it too. Instead, while he waits, he looks through the carnage once more, picking up little bits and pieces of dead bugs and pocketing them. Only the pretty pieces though; glass slag of pretty colors, iron bits, gold limbs that have hardened from the heat.

"And when their war was finished… the left, each kind alone… the black away, moss-ways… the gold away, as the sun sets…" It names four tribes of bugs, and gives the best directions it is able. Good enough to get some rough idea which way each group of bugs went, when combined with the carnage that's been observed already.

Bea frowns a little at that, and starts digging in her bag, "I think maybe I have some… Oh! Yes, here it is." She pulls out a small jar of some black, thick goo, then moves to another tree, a birch, and carefully cuts off a branch after some examination and a moment to ask permission. This branch is taken back to the root and carefully grafted to the root with the black goo. As she works, she explains to Audgrim, "He didn't see anything much we can't figure out from just what we see. Just that they came out and chewed, and then they fought- gold against black against glass, he said." She pats the tree's trunk and says, "There now, that should feel a little better at least, with some grafting liquid on it, and will keep out any diseases at least, and a new friend too, like just a little baby friend to keep you company.. And maybe I will take one of your acorns, and put it in the center of the new forest I am going to grow, since I promised another tree just the other day about that." Oh boy, Bea's got another 'project'. One does have to wonder on occasion what might happen to Bea if she ever ran out of things to busy herself with. "Anyway," this to Audgrim again, "He said which way they kinda went…Sort of. Like the black ones to the east, and the gold ones to the west, and stuff. And at least that is a good start, and probably we should definitely work to catch them now, since if they are still on /this/ side of the thorns, then they will for sure be causing trouble like they did with Danny, I bet."

Stuffing his pockets with bug bits, Audgrim's listening intently to Bea. He does groan a bit - he's lazy, after all. "They go different ways?" He doesn't feel bad about it for more than a few seconds. "I am sure we can find them all." Always the hopeful one. He watches with interest as Bea heals the tree, leaning close to get a sense of it. "We should ask more people to help. Lots of places to look."

Bea nods her agreement, "Oh sure. We can ask everyone to help. Probably it'd be nice if just we got one of every court, since I bet those bugs would be happier around their own kind and all."

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