(2018-04-02) PrP. Tastes Like Trade - Picky Eaters
PrP: Tastes Like Trade - Picky Eaters
Summary: Bea wants to find some Amaranthine and goes to the hob village of Kabsi to trade. Bea and Denver brave the Everworm Swamp to make it there, and Bea negotiate a perfect trade with the Warlord of Kabsi.
Date: IC Date (2018-04-02)
Related: None
Player Characters: Bea, Denver, Audgrim (as ST)

After a few hours of research into scrolls and books, the Bee Windwing comes upon a book written by another Knight on the local hedge of Port Angeles area. It describes that a hard to get to village of hobs has been known to grow Amarinthe in a garden. The warmongering hobs live in a feudal society and fight endless wars with neighboring villages - it seems to be their whole purpose. They look faintly wolverine-like in appearance, the author writes, and have a very strict hierarchy with titles and a court of their own in the village castle. Since they often get seriously wounded in the wars and in the local hedge, they've secured themselves amarinthe.

However, they're also known to be willing to trade - even to trade Amarinthe. The price is negotiable but since the fruit is rare, they can sell it expensively. But they've been known to trade favors or treasure and they are not, generally, unwelcoming of peaceful visitors.

The Warlord of the village is named Oribak White-Eye.

The only real problem, except for the other general issues with the nearby hedge at the moment, is that you have to cross the Everworm Swamp. Everworms are named such because they technically never die; they're a sort of gigantic leech that lurk in the swamp and trap people, sucking them down and devoyring them. If you kill it, the bits that are left, will just form new tiny leeches that will eventually grow large enough to consume big prey - it is said it's related to Bloodsuckle. And of course, the swamp itself is very treacherous and takes a long time to cross - least four hours if you're keeping up a good pace. It takes a skilled hedge-scout to traverse it safely.

However, getting TO this swamp… that is a breeze, as Bea leads the duo through thorns and brambles, up hills and down hills, through hidden passages and under tunnels only she can find. So here they are now, right at the edge of the swamp that spreads out as far as the eye can see.

It stinks. It looks very unpleasant.

Bea comes ready for travel, backpack full of kit (and food), hedgespun axe, a pocket full of blushberries and a rattling box full of specimen collection equipment attached precariously to the top of her backpack where a bedroll would usually go. She pricks her finger on a thorn along the way, but seems almost too cheerful as she leads Denver through the thorns, moving as easily and naturally as if she was just taking a jaunt through the woods near her house. She pauses to show Denver various plants and animal tracks, not magical in a useful way, but tasty or interesting, and keeps up a steady stream of chatter. This is Bea in her element, where she's most comfortable, and she seems almost relieved to have such a tough companion to join her, as the thorns have become so dangerous even she has hesitated to venture too far.

Nobody goes into the hedge alone. That includes her, of course. But she isn't alone, Denver is with Bea! And Bea is very good with that axe of hers. So if there's trouble, they should be fine, right? As long as it's not apes. She's listened to each and every bit of information that Bea has given her, eyes wide and curious as she learns. Do the words manage to stick as they bob around in her head? That remains to be seen. "I saw Grim do that once, too. Pricking his finger on a thorn. Is that a catch to something?" she wonders.

The last half mile or so - if that's even something you can say in the hedge - has started to become more unpleasant. Annoying mosquitoes buzz about and try to bite you, but they are harmless enough except giving you an itch. The swamp is definitely near - and voila, you move over a slight incline and in front of you it is. Some might think 'I'll just walk around'. However, that just doesn't seem to work, the magic of the hedge forcing people to at some point walk across to get to the other side.

Even so, there's definitely patches of ground that look safer. You'd only have to sludge through ankle-feet stinky water. Nothing to worry about!

Bea nods and gives a little smile, "Oh sure, just for, like…finding the path, or it gives you some way to look around the thorns." She pauses, considering, then says in a hesitant tone, as if she's unsure of the accuracy of her information, "It is some trick of dreams, which is something to think about, really, that maybe the thorns are just some big dream, or like…what if everyone stopped having dreams, would the thorns even stay?" She shrugs, not focusing too long on the thought. She is careful, as they approach the swamp, moving more cautiously and delicately, noting, "Keep your eyes open, and be sure to watch your step, since for sure this swamp is full of vampire worms or something. And they sound pretty tasty, so we should maybe try to catch one, since I found this old recipe for lamprey, and I think it might be even better with some everworm, probably. Or maybe a nice sashimi…" Her butterfly tongue flutters out, licking her lips as she considers all those wonderful possibilities, "Maybe even with the amaranthine, a nice grilled everworm with amaranthine glaze…"With a shake of her head she refocuses on the task at hand, looking around, up and down, all around, as she goes.

"If everyone stopped dreaming, the whole hedge might just vanish. Who knows what might happen to us. Or anyone that was in here when it happened." The thought is a little frightening, actually. But Denver doesn't linger on the thoughts. She is frowning at the water, especially given the warnings that Bea just gave her. "Got it," she murmurs as she takes the lead, using the tip of her sword to stab at the water in front of her as she trudges along. The woman doesn't know the meaning of the word stealth. Stab!

The trudge through is slow because the swamp seem to want you to not go anywhere. It sucks your boots in. The mosquitoes are crazy out here, looking for anything to eat and they found two victims here; they're unusually large and annoying and their buzz is near hypnotic. There's relatives to these mosquitoes that are said to lull their victims to sleep and then suck them dry, but they are about the size of small dogs. These ones? They die from hard swat.

This is the habitat of the Everworm, it IS in its home - and it knows its home. And this is why none of the two Lost even notice the large snake-like leech, all bloodred, that slithers up behind Bea…. and goes for her feet, in an attempt to pull her down.

Bea is moving along, looking all around, but not behind her! She gives a little yelp as she suddenly feels something wrapping around her feet, arms flailing and wings abuzz as she works to keep her footing. "Found one!" She yells, trying not to sound too panicked.

That is not a noise that Denver wants to hear. She whips around, sword half in the water to stab at potential issues. Turns out the issue was behind them. "Hold as still as possible!" The sword is lifted out of the water, glowing eyes narrowing on the creature wrapped around Bea's leg. She has to be extra careful here so she doesn't accidentally stab her friend. The thing swings, the attack carried out with percision, slicing deeply into the creature's side.

Bea uses her axe to latch onto a nearby tree, trying hard to escape the worm's grasp, but only managing to dig herself deeper into the swamp. She flinches a bit as Denver hacks at the creature, doing her best to avoid getting her leg hacked off in the process, though she manages to squeak, "I forgive you," premptively in case of limb loss.

There's a slithering sort of hissing sound coming from the gigantic leech; it's easily the size of two humans long and a foot wide. It starts to wrap itself tighter around Bea, but doesn't seem to get a good hold on the kicking bee-lady - and it has taken a very serious wound, its strength already waning.

Denver's head jerks towards Bea when she says that. "Don't talk like that!" she demands in an almost roar. The bee can see the rage fill up in the ogre's eyes as she focuses her full attention on the worm. There's another roar that peels out of her throat before she swings that masssive blade, almost as big as she is, with that same percision and a horribly fury. Nobody attacks her bee and gets away with it. Nobody! If that thing doesn't outright explode with the force of that shot would be a miracle.

The Everworm dies… and aptly, it /does/ explode. In fact, it shoots out tiny but sharp little bits in every direction, the furthest going over ten yards away - it is how it respawns itself. Fortunuately, there won't be 200 new ones - most of them won't survive.

What is more disturbing is the fact that some of those sharp little bits hit both Bea and Denver and immediately begin to burrow in through their skin in a very magical sort of manner; it doesn't even leave a mark. It can't get through Denver's stone skin, but there is a noticeable lump under Bea's skin on an exposed ankle, from where the leech ripped her clothing.

Bea knows fully well what bloodsuckle splinters can to do to any living being, if it's left there. It will literally devour people from inside.

What she also knows is - if you cut it out quick enough, it won't do anything, but cutting things out of flesh is also unpleasant enough.

Bea flops to the ground, her center of balance put off as the everworm explodes. When she looks down, and sees that bump on her own skin and the worms wriggling on Denver's stoney skin, her eyes go wide and she drops her axe, pulling her bowie knife from her belt and with a deep breathe, begins to gouge deep holes into her skin, trying to cut them out, explaining as she does so, "We gotta get 'em out, Denver. Real quick, or we're gonna be like…that scene in Aliens." She pauses just a moment to mime the chest-burster scene, then goes back to digging, biting her lip and trying not to yell. As a distraction, she asks in a shakey voice, "Can you grab some jars from my bag and scrape those ones on you into them?"

Denver watches with horror as Bea starts to dig into her skin in order to get those things out. "Do you want me to do it?" Sure, just give the ogre a knife and let her go to town, surely that's a great idea. The request for a jar gets a lifted brow, but she nods and goes to Bea's bag in order to dig around. She finds a jar and starts to scrape the bits that are trying to dig into her own stoney skin off and into the thing. "You might not wanna eat these, you know. It could be like the tapeworm from hell."

Mmm, Everworm pate.

There'll be bits all over the nearby area, and with Bea's amazing bee-sight - they shine like little beacons. There's more than twenty she can easily grab - some have been disappearing further into the swamp, but twenty pieces of Everworm, that's a proper feast.

Bea shakes her head as she digs out the last one, holding them out on the end of the knife to add to the jar, before inexpertly wrapping the wounds ands standing up, giving a shaky little laugh, "If it is good enough to eat me, then it is good enough to be eaten back, I always say." She looks around, then pulls out another jar and some long tweezers, taking a few minutes to collect a rather substantial amount of the little bastards before deciding she's satisfied. Maybe she's planning on starting an everworm army? "They'll be nice fried up." She carefully seals the jars and replaces them in the box, "Should we get going then? We've still got a long ways to go."

The rest of the arduous and very boring trek across the swamp is uneventful - they do notice some more Everworms but they're able to avoid them. A few hours later, they begin to reach more dry land and walking is definitely easier.

They find a road and there's even a sign pointing towards the village they're looking for, named Baksi. It doesn't take them long enough to reach the gates - they remain open to allow trades and farmers to move in and out during the day, but the whole village is surrounded by a tall stone wall and is heavily guarded. The population here are faintly animal-like, and do indeed look somewhat like wolverines on two legs, with fur and beady eyes and very sharp teeth and claws.

When asking around they're pointed to the castle, and let inside almost immediately - the Warlord is available to see traders from strange lands. In general, the two Lost are met with curtness and politeness with an everpresent military feel to everything.

The large feast hall also serves as courtroom, and the lord of the place, a tall and strong hob wearing armor, sit on a chair on a dais. Another thinner and older wolverine hob stands next to him.

"Welcome!" Oribak booms and he leans forward to squint at the two Lost with curiousity; one of his eyes is entirely white - iris and everything. Like some sort of battlescar. "This is my advisor, Bekarin The Wise. I am Oribak White-Eye. Do you come to trade?"

"That's a weird thing to always say," Denver offers Bea as she holds the jar back out. She's grinning, of course. There's no way she's eating one of those things, but she isn't about to stop anyone else from doing it. "Back into the Bog of Eternal Stench?" She wonders as she swings the blade around in her grip and starts stabbing at the water again. By the time they reach the village, she has strapped the blade onto her back. In a warrior's town, you don't take out your weapon unless you're planning on using it. "I like it here," she whispers to the windwing as she studies the hobs with bright eyes.

Bea laughs a little at Denver's comfort in the town. Her own axe has gotten strapped to her back so as not to cause a ruckus. When they are introduced to Oribak and Bekarin, she grins a little and nods, wings fluttering, "Oh sure, a trade if you want, but to be honest, I am not sure what I have that you might like. But still, we are on a hunt for some amaranthine, because we have a friend who needs it real bad, and I heard around the vines that you guys grow a lot of it for your war and everything." She considers, watching Oriback for a long moment, her Spring mantle seeming to swell a bit, a floral-scented breeze wafting toward the pair as she considers them and what might be the best thing to offer, "And I will be happy to give you what you want, if I can, in trade."

The Warlord leans back, watching the two with an inscrutable sort of expression. His advisor leans in to whisper something to him, as Bea presents what it is they want. Oribak is not surprised to hear Bea's request - she's not the first and not the last to come for the same thing. "Yes, Amaranthine - a most precious fruit. Very hard to grow, hard to find. We don't sell that cheap. So, Bea - what is it that you could offer? What special items or talents would entice us enough to give up such treasure?" He leans forwards and asks, eagerly; "What lands do you come from?"

At the front of his mind, when they begin to discuss what they might want, Bea gets the distinct feeling that Oribak wants something /new/ and /different/ - something not from the hedge. Something that would give him a story from foreign and very different lands.

The large court room/feast hall has tapestries lining the walls. They depict war scenes, hedge beasts - but also many feast scenes, where the food itself is very prominently and noticeably displayed. In fact, there's a really large one behind the two hobs, where warrior hobs sit around a feast table and gluttonously eat various odd dishes. It's almost a religious motif, with a gigantic Wolverine hob standing at the head of the table with his clawed hands held out in a proud gesture.

Bea ponders that, and offers, "Well, for every fruit you give us, first I can promise to have some new one grow in its place." A beat as she digs through her backpack. She produces something carefully packaged in the Gingerbread Witch style, a delightful display of sugarwork in the form of a flower with multi-colored petals that look like stained glass, with a white-chocolate butterfly delicately clinging to a petal. "I could offer you this, which is one of a kind, and made with my own hands. And it's made for a king, or…well, a former king…" Bea blushes a little, shooting Denver a sidelong glance as she admits that, trying hard not to let her embarassment at having spent so much effort to make the treat for Finn too obvious. "But I would be real honored if you had it instead."

Denver is not much of a negotiator, and that's not what Bea brought her for. She's the muscle, of course. After introductions, the lava ogre decided to stay back and just keep an eye on the situation. Arms folded over her chest, the woman gazes around at the small warriors. Her kind of people. She doesn't have anything physical to offer, but Bea does get a little side-eye at the admission of who the piece was made for. "Aw, see, all I can offer is to fight ya for some. That's all I got."

Now see, that offer from Bea immediately sparks a great interest; Oribak stands up and moves to the bee-lady, accepting the container, his advisor shuffling alongside, equally curious. "Made for a king, eh?" he asks and looks quite pleased to hear that. He does lean in to sniff at it - and look quite pleased. That's a new smell, for sure - he doesn't even need to taste it. "Hmm. So you can make these foods, from another land? Then I have an offer for you. You shall make us 3 courses from your lands. Each course must have something exotic from your lands, and you must present them with a story of how you attained these exotic food stuffs, or any myths surrounding the food. You will come back here in… say three days? And present us with this food. For each dish we find to be to our approval, you shall receive 1 amaranthine. Do you accept?"

The other hob, the advisor, looks closely at Denver - he seems to be contemplating her offer. But he adds, as an aside; "We get many offers of fighting - it is nothing new to us." Poor Denver, they don't want to see her beat someone up.

Bea gives Denver a sympathetic look at the rejection of her fighting skills, but she's way too excited at the trade they've requested, her wings buzzing, "Oh! That is the best trade. And for sure I will do that for you, and can already think of a ton of things. But just you make sure to let me know if you have any allergies or anything. And you will get the /best/ meal, since I am a Knight of the Tongue, and that is what we do." She puffs out her chest, beaming with pride at the title she holds so dear, "And you will for sure find it is a trade worthy of your fruit." She nods, then says, "I will be back in three days, and give you the best meal Por…the port of /Angels/ can offer."

"I bet not all of them have landed a hit on a Gentry though," Denver mutters to herself in a half pout, breath huffed out in mild annoyance. Still, she didn't come here to fight them, she came to escort and make sure Bea doesn't get hurt. She hasn't done too great a job on that last front, however. Poor, fragile Summer egoes. But her bee is happy, wings fluttering in the most adorable fashion. It's enough to bring the smile back to Denver's face. "I say we bring a little boat next time."

"You ever heard of Port of Angels?" Oribak murmurs as he leans in close to Bekarin the wise. The advisor frowns and nods. "I believe I heard mention. It's way past the Swamp - very remote and distant. I am sure you've never tasted anything from there," he says and he too looks like he finds this deal entirely to their benefit. He then goes to draft up the contract itself on paper with a quill he dips in ink; it'll be straight forward, honest and no hidden parts. It will even underscore that, should they don't enjoy the food, nothing particular will happen - she simply won't get the fruit. And that apart from the dish itself, a good story or a myth around the food ingredients must be added.

It will be signed ceremoniously by Oribak himself, and then Bea has to sign it of course. There's no writing in blood - it's not that sort of contract. It's a simple trade, nothing magical.

Oribak does look over Denver with an appreciative eye, recognizing a warrior when he sees one. "If you go east from the gates and down to the river, you can pay for passage down the river and then get off at the Bridge of Murmurs. You cross the bridge and you will end up on the other side of the swamp. We don't ever go that way." He doesn't elaborate on why - perhaps they simply can't, due to some magical barriers. "It only works one way - you have to cross the swamp again if coming back."

Bea is happy enough to sign the contract, though she does take a good length of time to go through it, finger keeping track of each word, a quiet murmuring as she reads the words out to herself…It's a long process. She seems quite happy with the deal, and makes note of the route offered, carefully logging it for future use. "Oh thanks, that'll be way easier than through the swamp, which isn't all that nice. And for sure I'll be back soon." She gives a little wiggle,

It might be a little bit rude, but Denver is reading over Bea's shoulder. Sometimes it's good to have more than one pair of eyes looking over a contract. Just in case something is fishy. But everythign seems above board to her, and Denver doesn't appear to have anything that she needs. "Thank you for the suggestion, that's exactly what we'll do." She offers a quick grin to Oribak, head bobbing in thanks. She straightens, folding her arm to offer the crook of it towards Bea. "Shall we?"

Oribak makes sure there are two copies, one for them each - Bea gets a scroll to bring home with her. It's no work of art, just simple hob script, but still.

The two Lost will not be bothered when leaving the village, and just as Oribak promised, you can hire a wolverine hob to ship you down the river in a sturdy boat; payment won't be that steep. A pocket knife. A pen. A plastic container. Anything from the world of Port of Angels seem to be good. Perhaps these hobs are just into exotic things?

The bridge itself is a rickety old wooden bridge that has an odd murmuring sound surrounding it - but once they walk over it they suddenly end up on the other side of the swamp and much closer to the port angeles trods and the closest gates to home.

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