(2018-03-29) PRP: Hot Date
Hot Date
Summary: Denver and Audgrim go dragon hunting.
Date: IC Date (2018-03-29)
Related: http://darkwater.wikidot.com/log:2018-03-27-the-sound-of-silence
Player Characters: Audgrim, Denver, Bea as ST

It's a long and arduous trip through the hedge for Audgrim and Denver to get to the cloud forest. Their research could only offer vague hints at where it lay, with comments on its ephemeral nature. Mix that with an overgrown and dangerous hedge, and the trip becomes an almost tedious excercise in the application of fight or flight instincts. There is plenty of both along the way, but with Denver to do the fighting, and Audgrim's sneaky self to lead the running, the pair eventually start to see the tell-tale signs of the cloud forest ahead.

It starts with a simple, dark fog that envelpoes them to the waist, making anything below that level nearly imperceptable. As they get closer, they start to notice hanging vines, thick and covered in bright green leaves and jewel-tone flowers. At first, it's hard to tell what the vines are hanging /from/, but as they move further in, it becomes apparent that the trees in the cloud forest are upside down, their roots buried in the heavy clouds above. The trees have grown so large, the vines so long, that the ecosystem has descended to almost ground level in many areas.

Audgrim entered with lots of enthusiasm and hope, but is now quiet tired of thorns, hedges and anything on this trek. At least he's not struggling terribly as he leads the way - he knows a fair few useful tricks, and the natural world seem to aid him rather than hinder. Often he slinks out of sight to the side, playing scout, returning to Denver's side and pointing towards their next part of the journey, even if he also gets them totally lost a few times. He's not reverted to using the pathfinder power yet, but has pricked his finger on a thorn earlier in case he does need it.

Reaching the upside down forest, he's first quite confused and can't make heads or tails of this. Then he looks up, squinting with yellow gleaming eyes. "Cloud forest," he breathes. "Can't wait to tell Bea about this, wonder if she has been here." He tugs at one of the vines, experimentally. "Let us look around - but think maybe we need to climb."

"I can't wait until this place is tamed back again. This is ridiculous, I can't see over half of the plants!" Denver grunts and slashes at plants that get in her way like a grumpy little Summer. Part of the grump is because Audgrim has to be in the front in order to figure out where they're going. Which means she isn't in front acting like a shield. It makes her jumpy. The woman is a little slower than normal, but that probably has something to do with the grey rock and rolling lava that has taken form over her skin.

"It's pretty, what I can see of it. Think our phones would actually take pictures in here? She might like to see those." There's another little grunt at the mention of climbing. "Couldn't it be, like, ground clouds? Is that too much to wish for?" Probably."

It's hard to see much in this forest, with the dark fog obscuring your feet, and the vines and foliage obscuring what's above. It's beautiful, in the magical way that only the hedge can be beautiful…which is to say, it should probably also cause at least a little fear as to /why/ the area has set itself up to be so attractive.

When Audgrim gives the vine a tug, it seems relatively sturdy, though the vibration of his tug seems to last significantly longer than it should, as if, perhaps, something else is causing it to move.

All around them, as they adjust to the environment, their senses come alive. Small noises can be heard above and, perhaps more disconcertingly, below. Little rustles, the occasional hiss or caw, far off and above, an angry screech.

The scents are also strong, the heady floral boquet that eminates from the colorful flowers, the damp, fecund smell of woodland, the musky scent of animals nearby.

A close look of the vines and trees above suggests something akin to animal trails, the faintest hint of regular movement through particular areas.

Audgrim releases the vine quickly after trying to steady it, to stop it from vibrating. Too late though. He steps back and tilts his head, listening and watching, tail slowly curling as he focuses. "Lots of animals," he murmurs. "Loud shriek above - could be dragon." He turns to the ogre. "Time to climb." And without further ado, he goes to find a good tree to climb down. Up?

Denver sighs, looking up as far as she can before the scenery is halted bby foliage. "All that throwing we did the other day, are you sure you can't just toss me up?" she suggests, hopefully but without any realy hope. "Let me go up first, atleast. So if something comes plunging at us it has to go through me first." It's stated like a question, but she isn't asking as she finds a tree that looks like it'll work. "Here we go," she mutters and starts to climb, keeping her sword strapped on her back for the moment.

Up they go! It's slow going, the vines wobble, their a little slippery in places where it seems they have oozed a little bit of sap. The sap, they soon realize, is actually helpful, giving them a little bit of sticking power on their hands and feet, making the climb a touch safer and faster. Along the way, the ecosystem seems to shift a little. As they rise above the dense black fog, things seem to get brighter and lighter, there is more obvious activity. Life seem to surround them; insects large snd small, the slither of a snake-like creature can just be seen as it retreats, from a far off tree a creature that looks like an unnervingly toothy sloth watches with sleepy disinterest. A troup of what seem like apeish creatures are heard, more than seen, far above, still mostly hidden by the clouds, but screeching out a loud and rambunctious call. A couple of nests, small and large respectively, one bearing a number of over-sized, pastel eggs, the other cradling a trio of small lizard creatures.

Soon, they are near the roots of the trees, and from what they can discern, it looks like the root system has created a fairly stable 'floor' that other creatures are using, moving through the thick, cloudy mist. The other main mode of transportation for the 'locals' seems to be swinging vine to vine, or leaping from one branch to another, Tarzan style.

Audgrim has not forgotten his promise to Bea - about things he finds in the hedge. He scrapes off some of that sap into a soda-can and seals it with some paper (after drinking the soda - thirsty work, climbing). He even steals one of the eggs and wraps it up in a spare t-shirt in his small backpack. He's fine letting Denver climb first, and takes his time with everything - eyeing those monkeys quite jealously as he's all sweaty and tired once they reach the roots.

He climbs out on some sturdy branches and crouches down, looking across the 'floor', not wanting to be a big fat target. "Maybe they nest up here," he whispers to Denver. "Not sure I want to find cloud dragon itself. If we find nest, maybe there is scale."

Denver makes her way up with a little big of grunting and scrunching faces along the way. It's not easy to climb when you're made of stone, but thankfully, being super strong certainly helps in that regard. She makes it up to the root and dusts off the front of her shirt before reaching back to unfasten the sword from her back. She brings it up in front of her and starts to look around, a leg slowly poking out in front of her and carefully into the mist, checking footing and potential traps.

Audgrim manages to grab one of the eggs, about the size of an ostrich egg, and surprisingly heavy, the color of a pinkish-orange sunset. At first, it seems like he may well have gotten away with the theft. There's certainly no immediate response from some angry egg-parent. But then, just as Denver swings over the top, there is a hiss from below, about where that nest was. Mamma (or is it daddy?) has returned, and sure ain't happy as it counts its eggs, once, twice, then looks up and mutters something that sounds like language, though certainly not a human one. It's a long, sinuious creature, seeming part python, part big cat, it has a pair of legs with long claws, a head shaped like a lynx, and a mix of bright green scales and dark brown fur that meld into each other around where the neck should be, though in reality, the body just keeps extending, snake-like, to a long prehensile tail.

Up it begins to climb, moving through the vines and branches as if they were water, upper half crouched like a cat ready to pounce, whispering in that strange language as it gets a bead on Audgrim.

To the left of Denver, the ape-like creatures, now slightly more visible through the irridescent-white clouds at the roots of the trees, start to dance excitedly, screaching and pounding on the roots as if they were drums, unintentionally (perhaps) creating an ominous soundtrack to the scene below.

Audgrim's expression as he goes down on all fours and peers down into the foliage is almost comical. "I think we already found nest," he says sheepishly, looking down at that beast that is clearly quite upset about his egg steal. Grasping one of the roots in his hands, he focuses fast and sends a wave of persuasiveness into the nearby nature; roots, branches, leaves, vines. The branches below seem to create webs as they move, vines get in the way suddenly of the serpent that is coming for them and leaves cause more shade to make it harder to see. "Be ready!"

"The hell?" The words tumble from Denver's lips as she watches the creature square up across from them. It takes her a few moments to realize what's going on. Don't mind her, she's a little slow when it comes to the brains part of the equation. "Oh my god, Audi. We might have to take on a dragon, you wanna pick more fights along the way? That's his… her…" her head tilts as she studies the creature, "…its egg. Its baby." She moves the sword into a one handed grip and moves to pry the egg out from where Audgrim stashed it.

"I'm betting there's plenty of other souvenirs that we can find along the way. If it's not an ingrediant that's absolutely neccessary, then maybe we shouldn't go stealing hedgebeast kids from their overprotective parents. Right?" The sword is kept extended between her and the thing, but she's starting to move forward, carefully craddling the egg to set it down between them and it. "I'm sorry," she murmurs towards the creature before starting to back off again, eggless, but on alert.

The snake-cat creature lets out a hiss as it finds itself unexpectedly tangled in the undergrowth. As it breaks free, Denver makes her effort to appease the creature, and it ponders, eyeing the pair of them, and that sword, from ust out of reach before darting in quickly to grab the egg in its mouth and retreat to its nest, coiling its body around the eggs protectively and glaring up at the two Lost suspiciously, clearly not planning to let them out of its sight as long as they are near.

The ape-hobs ominous drumming and screaching turns into a rolling, collective laugh and foot-stomping, causing the whole area to shiver and shake with the energy of their excitement, and in turn creating a flutter of motion and sound below as a flock of creatures are upset from their perch. It's hard to tell from this far away, at first you think it's a flock of some strange bat or bird, all colorful wings and light bodies. They move, starling style, as a collective, swooping around in an ever-changing cloud. They swoop in a bit closer, perhaps looking for a new roost to land on, and it becomes clear, they aren't birds at all, but definitely reptilian.

Small, about the size of a small parrot, they have deep, olive-green scales, paired with moth-like wings with a mottled pattern of red, white, green and brown. They're form is definitely dragon-like, Western-style, with a long snout, oversized claws, snake-like eyes. As you take it all in, you recognize them for the descriptions you found of the cloud-forest dragons. But…no one mentioned how small they were.

Denver is given a small glare as she admonishes Audgrim and then he sigs and nods. He's more interested in finding the armor bits than stealing eggs, in the end. Even so, it's with nervously held breath he watches Denver put the egg down, and he's crouched down and ready to fight in case the snake-cat decides to attack. Once it's clear it's going to stay with its eggs, he slowly backs away and gives Denver a thumbs up and a grin. "Good thing I did not eat it."

He shades his eyes and looks up, watching the bats. Birds. Tiny dragons? He gapes in surprise. "That's them. Cloud dragons," he says quietly. "Let's see if we can find their nests. No egg stealing, promise." He starts carefully moving across the foliage and branches at the roof, looking for signs of where they might land or live.

"I know that look on your face isn't directed at me, man," Denver offers, tone full of sass when Audgrim glares at her. Still, once the creature accepts the egg and goes back to its nest, she relaxes a little bit, smirking at the thumbsup from Audgrim. "A very good thing you didn't eat it," she agrees. "I wouldn't suggest eating anything in here the way the Hedge has been lately, anyway. Everything is way too screwy." Her head tilts, gazing up as she watches the flock of creatures. Her reaction is immediate, shoulders slumping down. Have you ever seen a volcano pout? Because that's what it looks like. "Come ooooon, I wanted to fight a dragon! That's not…" Her face scrunches up. "They're so little."

The flock of tiny dragons seems to settle down, roosting somewhat near to the cat-snake, creating a shimmering little pocket in the branches of the trees. The cat-snake seems not to bother with them. It may be noticed that the cloud-dragons, once settled, begin to go about their business, which seems to be to inspect and dip narrow tongues into the flowers, much like the butterflies their wings look like.

The ape-hobs seem to be getting bolder, the longer that the pair remain, and a few of them have hopped close enough that they can be seen clearly through the foggy mist that permeates the root system. They're shaggy, white and have expressive faces with over-sized mouths. The ones that approach carry sticks in their over-sized limbs, but don't attack, at least not at the moment, though if the pair get too close, they do present some pretty impressive intimidation posturing.

Looking down at the trees from above, it's hard to really see much, but after some searching, you do both spot something in one of the branches, seeming suspended from the tree branch going up, like a little dome, or an upside down pouch- perhaps even defying gravity to 'hang' in line with the direction of the tree growth. One of those colorful-winged dragons can be spotted leaving the flock to return to that nest, tucking itself inside and disappearing from view.

Audgrim pats Denver comfortingly on her shoulder. "Maybe we find really big monster on way back," he suggests, trying to perk her up. He moves light-footed across the roof, or under roots and branches - it's like vines and leaves and foliage aid his movements now. Maybe this is what he was talking about earlier, making nature your true ally? Not possesing her strength, it's a good thing he can do it - they keep an even pace.

He climbs down slightly and sits crouches on a thick branch, squinting down at the mini dragons, and spots that nest. He points it out to Denver, thoughtfully considering the next part. "They probably be mad if we get close to nest. Unless we can distract them maybe."

"I can hold grudged you know. You said I could fight a dragon. So you're going to have to either bribe me with five cheeseburgers, or find my ass a big ole dragon to fight." It's mostly teasing, Denver glancing up towards Augrim with a tiny grin on her face. "Maybe I should pick a fight with the monkeys. They look like they'd be rough in a fight!" But she's making no move too. They don't seem hostile, and she's not about to injure anything that doesn't deserve it.

She considerss the nest for a moment, then narrows her eyes. "I might be able to distract them for a moment? If you think that you can get there fast enough. I can very suddenly shine Summer's light on them. Might be enough to make them pause, and it won't hurt them." Denver suggests.

*grudges

Audgrim says, “Maybe you should pick a fight with the monkeys - that would distract them," Audgrim suggests, dead pan. He's joking though, he doesn't really want that problem. Instead, he nods slowly and thoughtfully, scratching the back of his neck. "I can try that. If it not work, I think maybe we have to kill small dragons either or." Least he's prepared every contract he can to move as fast as possible - and he still has a few tricks up his sleave.

He whispers to Denver: "I'll move as close as I can first, hiding. When I am close enough, you do your thing." And with that, he starts moving down towards the nest, trying to stay out of sight.”

"If it doesn't work, we'll think of something else. But let's give it a shot!" Denver takes a breath as she looks towards the grouping of little hedgebeasts. "They're so damn cute," she mutters. She has to wait for Audgrim to get into place, keeping as close an eye on him as she can. She waits for him to give her the signal. When he does, her arms spread, letting her fire suddenly spring to a vibrant life of its own as the light begins to pour from her and fill up the area. Not a small area either. All around them the world illuminates as though the burning sun of a mid-summer's day is shining down on them.

The light /does/ seem to cause a distraction, leaving Audgrim to shimmy down (up) the tree to the branches where the nest is located. It is fairly securely attached, but with a little effort, he can get it, and it's got a dragon inside at the moment, so some fancy maneuvering allows it to be trapped inside! He can feel it fluttering and flapping, trying to get free, beating against the sides of the sturdy nest.

However, the light causes quite an uproar at the roots, the ape-creatures starting to screech and yell as the bright light floods through the naturally dim, filtered light of the cloudy root system, seeming to have decided that she certainly is a threat. Whether joking or not, they apparently have picked a fight with the ape-creatures.

The cloud dragons rise up as one, flutterying and flying around, heading toward Denver like moths to a flame.

The cat-serpent hugs its eggs tighter, hissing and snatching one of the little dragons out of the air as it passes, a nice little crunchy snack.

Audgrim clings to the tree with his legs and one arm, grabs that nest and stuffs quickly some branches and leaves in the opening. He then ties it to his belt and looks up as all hell breaks lose. "Helvete," he breathes, his favorite curse. Ignoring the chattering angry mini dragon in the nest for now, he grabs a vine and starts hauling himself up, chosing a path that will keep him somewhat hidden, grunting with the effort of climbing upwards. Least he knows Denver is about as badass as they come, so he holds his worry back and focuses on getting up there to lend what aid he can.

"Well, that's not ideal." Denver mutters to herself as she hears the sudden yelling from the nearby hedgebeasts. The light is still beaming off of her, illuminating that already fiery form. The blade shifts in her grip, as she puts it between herself and the apes. They're screaming? So she does too! A violent, roaring bellow rips out of her throat as she dives forward. The blade swings through the air, light glinting off the iron blade as it slices deeply into the first of the Apes to get close to her. Audgrim has seen her in practice, with her fists. This is going to be an entirely new side of the volcanic woman.

The apes attack almost as one, converging on the light and sword-weilding woman with angry war-shrieks. The first to attack gets slashed pretty bad right out the gate, managing to barely touch her, but his trio of compatriots have his back, leaping over his seriously bleeding self to go for Denver with tooth and fist. Meanwhile, the cloud-dragons join the fray, a delicate and colorful distraction more than anything, some of them getting knocked aside in the mix, but none landing anything close to a real bite or scratch.

Audgrim suddenly pops out from some dense foliage and right on top of the already injured monkey, a soft growl issued as he digs claws from both hands into the shoulders of the crazed animal. It's reeling beneath him as he finds footing, but it's still not dead, so he shifts back fast - leaving room for Denver to finish if she wants to.

Of all the things that can be said for Denver, one of them is that the girl can take a beating. Which is a good thing, because a beating is exactly what she's getting right now. All of those ape attacks pepper down on her, beating through even her tough, stone skin. But it only seems to make her more angry. She wanted a fight, and now she's got one! The woman snarls, shifting her grip on the blade and pivoting to drive her blade across the throat of that first monkey, finishing the job. Her head turns, teeth bared as she snarls at the apes, preparing to take on the next one.

With one ape gone, the others screech in pain, as if they too had been hurt, and redouble their efforts, one of the apes breaking off to go for Audgrim, while the other two conntinue to attack Denver with mixed effectiveness, one of them so unhinged it just resorts to throwing muddy dirt from the ground at her, while the other manages a pretty solid punch to the face.

Audgrim finds himself at the center of the dragon flock, tiny bites peppering his skin as they dive in and attack, clearly having noticed he's kidnapped one of their own. He begins to feel…wobbly, drowsy…gosh it'd be good to have a nap. And then *Whap!* he's getting an ill-placed smack to the face from the ape who has come to avenge his fallen compatriot.

Audgrim's eyes widen as that flock of dragons swarm at him - he flails, and can barely see a thing as they bite, nibble and claw him. One of them literally bites his neck and pumps some sort of venom in and then he's clobbered over the head - he stumbles back and then starts to literally see double. His eyelids are heavy as he forces himself to try again, ducking low and rushing in towards the monkey, feeling like everything moves in slow motion. First set of claws rake ineffectually in the air, the other sprays blood over the area as he connects with skin. If Denver's paying attention, she'll see that Audgrim's under the effect of something though, moving like he's drunk.

Fight until you die. That's the kind of fight that Denver understands. The more she's peppered and pounded with damage, the more angry and violent she becomes. But that rage is currently coiled around her like a slow boil, the flames licking around her, lashing as the apes get close. Her eyes are a glowing orange and red, fire filling the edges as she glares at her opponents, an animal growl billowing from the back of her throat. She is the Alpha here, and they will do well to remember that. She glances behind her for a moment to check on Audgrim, eyes widening as she realizes he's not in the right state of mind. "Shit," she growls as she swings at the closest ape, only scratching in her distraction. Focus, woman!

At the sound of Denver's primal roar, the dragon flock scatters with tiny little shrieks of fear, retreating to the relative safety of the trees and vines below. One of the apes, who happened to be in the direct line of fire of that Summer anger, retreats as well, fleeing into the clouds until he's nothing more than a shadow in the mist.

This leaves two apes still fighting, one on each of the Lost. The one who's just been scratched by Denver flails back in return, his attack more timid this time, and thus not nearly as forceful.
The same can't be said for Audgrim's attacker, taking advantage of his strangely wobbly, almost irresistably tired state, he knocks the Beast a good one.

Audgrim is knocked over the head and stumbles into a trunk behind him - but then he swings around the whole tree, focuses everything he has with muscles growing and eyes crazy shining, as he manages to battle off that urge to just sleep, sleep, sleep… He leaps at the monkey and digs his claws into its chest and rips them out, leaving some severe fleshwounds before he tumbles back.

Protection instinct is strong, stronger for others than even herself. "Get away from him," she snarls. Back turning on her own ape, she pivots on her heels and swings that sword with all the strength that she can muster. There's a sickening squish and cracking noise as she cleaves right through its spine, right through its… well, everything, cutting it in. Blood splatters, and Denver pivots again, taking another hit from the last of the apes. She snarls again, preparing to lurch forward.

The last ape standing attempts to take Denver from behind, diving low and giving her a bite to the side, yelping as his teeth grind against stone, but managing a fairly good chomp none the less. He's not giving up, though. He's clearly got nothing to lose on this one.

Audgrim manages to fight back the sleepiness again - and he's rather pissed off about all this. What did they ever do to these monkeys? So he barely waits for the body of the cleaved monkey to drop before he leaps over it and thuds into the remaining one, forgoing any attempts to even protect himself; maybe he realises they're now outnumbering the remaining one and this might go their way if they work together like they have the last few fights. He rips flesh right off the monkey's side and then pretty much collapses; he's an open target now.

"Audi!" That was a damn impressive attack, but him collapsing next to her? Well, that's the opposite of good. Her attention snaps back towards the Ape that just took a chunk of stone out of her. "That's enough." It's a bellow, echoing out from the woman as her muscles flex, grip on the sword shifting. She swings, violent and precise, sending the ape's head in one direction and it's body in the other. Once it's dead and she's sure none of the others are coming back out of the fog, she straps the sword back onto her back. She stops to pick up the ape head, attaching it to her belt by its hair. She did promise him a souvenir, after all. Then she looks down at Audgrim, kneeling at his side to give him a once over. She looks beat to hell, but moves to start lifting him up gently. Someone's getting strapped to her back and carried out!

The battle is won, and the blood of the apes and the Lost disappears almost immediately, soaked up with unnerving efficiency by the root system of the cloud forest. Audgrim still has that nest, and inside a cloud dragon, which has been flapping and fighing against its unexpected prison throughout the fight. Though things become almost disturbingly quiet, it's clear from the shadows peeking through the clouds that they have drawn attention that will arrive soon.

Audgrim is moving - barely. He doesn't want to move, he wants to sleep. He murmurs something as Denver checks up on him and manages to roll over to his back, and struggles to sit up. "I can walk," he says, eyes crossing. He yawns and falls back down but clutches for that nest that is still tied to his belt, remembering that of all things.

"No, you're not walking. You're absolutely not climbing. You'll fall to your death. I know it's undignified, but better that than dead." With that, the severly beaten and bleeding, rather tiny woman scoops up the man quite a bit larger than her, and positions him onto her back. Her lights go out, not looking to draw any more attention to themselves than she has to. A rope is tied to the roots, secured in place before her arms shift with great strength again. She takes her time, moving down the rope, careful not to jostle Audgrim too much. "Don't worry, I'll get you home," she murmurs as she makes it to the bottom of the tree and starts to backtrack towards the gate. At some point, she feels his weight slacken as he falls asleep against her. She brushes his hair in a quick pet and sets her eyes towards home with a determined glint. Through the brush and the overgrown wildlife, she trundles. Denver doesn't stop until they reach the gate, stepping through the portal and into the relative safety of the real world.

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