Rhoelyn: Rhese rolls over when the skies are grey. Nysse quietly slips away to gather wood, make food, and finally, assemble a small travel kit.
Araatris: Tsume shadows her as she works, sniffing at just about everything. She earns herself more than a few whispered scoldings for getting underfoot.
Rhoelyn: Nysse finally kneels and pays attention to Tsume. The wolf whines and licks at her face. She pushes the pup away, “What’s gotten into you?”
Araatris: Tsume dances away and back, begging at her about something. She wuffs, receiving a harsh “shh!” from Nysse, who glances at Rhese.
Rhoelyn: She narrows her eyes and tilts her head. Rhese is there, but something feels odd. She looks back at Tsume and signals for her show her.
Araatris: Even as Tsume leads her toward him, Rhese stirs and sits up. He looks down at something on the ground, his back to them both.
Rhoelyn: Nysse finally looks on the ground in front of Rhese, “Corruption. Are the wards failing?” She seeks the artifact hanging within the vines.
Araatris: The vines have rotted away. The scythe glints brightly with the burgeoning dawn light, the beads and claw laying across the frozen ground.
Rhoelyn: Her hand flies to her mouth and she runs to grab her cloak. “Rhese! We have to ward it again. Now!” She moves to pick them up using the fabric.
Araatris: Though Nysse wraps them and picks them up, she feels no change. Tsume growls a warning just as a pair of fiends slither out from the tree line.
Rhoelyn: She cradles them to her chest and draws her dagger, “Rhese…” Nysse backs away towards him. “Tsume, guard!” Her bow still lay by the bedroll.
Araatris: Rhese drags himself up, unsteady and struggling to focus through a grating hiss in the back of his awareness. He grabs Nysse’s bow and his mace.
Rhoelyn: Looking over her shoulder leaves the perfect opportunity for the fiends rush at her. Her head snaps around, but the mistake’s been made.
Araatris: Nysse raises an arm just in time to catch the fleshy tendril whipping at her face. It snaps across her gauntlet, slicing her upper arm.
Rhoelyn: The other fiend wraps its appendages around her ankles; knocking her over and dragging her closer. The cloth bundle tumbles to the ground.
Araatris: Tsume snaps at the first fiend, distracting its attention from Nysse. Rhese tosses her bow and quiver to her as he swings his mace at the second.
Rhoelyn: The mace makes contact and the second fiend is knocked away. Freed, Nysse trades her weapons, then she lodges an arrow deeply in Tsume’s fiend.
Araatris: The fiend screeches and flails its long appendages wildly in rage. As Rhese stalks toward the second fiend, one snaps across his back.
Rhoelyn: Rhese grimaces. Nysse’s eyes widen and she quickly calls out, “Tsume! Left!” Tsume responds by dragging it away from him. “I’ll keep him away!”
Araatris: He nods, but doesn’t glance over at her as the second fiend takes the moment as an opportunity to wrap a tendril around his gauntlet, yanking.
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns, but focuses on the first. She shoots several arrows. Rhese stumbles slightly, but swings his mace at the base of the tendril.
Araatris: Rhese’s fiend shrieks, but it only loosens its grip. As the druid swings his mace again, it snags his ankle, dumping him on his sore back.
Rhoelyn: “Hold!” Nysse commands Tsume as she spins. “Rhese, stay down!” She fires several arrows as she walks forward; the last flies towards its head.
Araatris: The druid and wolf both do as bidden, Tsume harassing her target to keep its attention. The other fiend collapses soon after at Nysse’s assault.
Rhoelyn: She hurries over and gives a hand up to Rhese. “Are you okay? That was a really nasty hit to the back.” Nysse glances at Tsume to ensure she’s safe.
Araatris: He takes her hand and scrambles to his feet, kicking the tendril off his ankle. “I’m fine,” he growls, surly. “Just not used to fighting like this.”
Rhoelyn: “That makes two of us. Heal yourself up. We’ll figure out what to do after all this.” Nysse turns and draws her bow. She barks at Tsume, “Retreat!”
Araatris: Rhese’s attention swivels to the forest. “More are coming, Nysse. It’s calling them.” He rushes over and grabs the cloak, gritting his teeth.
Rhoelyn: Nysse growls under her breath as she fires another shot into the head of the fiend. “Do what you need.” She moves to guard Rhese; Tsume joins her.
Araatris: As they take their positions, three more of the fiends slither out of the forest, directly aggressive. One is much larger than the others.
Rhoelyn: Tsume growls. Nysse speaks firmly, “Stay.” She pulls an explosive arrow and draws her bow, “It’s going to get a little noisy.” She releases.
Araatris: Rhese struggles with the wards, holding the artifact in her open cloak while vines wrap around his hands toward it. The explosion jostles him.
Rhoelyn: “Sorry.” Nysse comments as she glances over her shoulder. She quickly turns back towards smoke noting a shadow moving. “The big one’s still up.”
Araatris: Rhese growls. “This is not going well.” The large one slithers out of the cloud of smoke, swinging a pair of appendages at them all.
Rhoelyn: Nysse stays purposely in front of Rhese, “It’s not staying contained any more?” She hisses as the tendrils hit her legs. Another arrow flies.
Araatris: Even as the arrow penetrates its thick hide shallowly, the creature lashes out, throwing its weight forward and barreling straight into Tsume.
Rhoelyn: Tsume tumbles across the ground. “Tsume!” Nysse snarls and drops her bow. She draws her dagger and dives forward onto the fiend; stabbing it.
Araatris: Her dagger does a bit more damage than the arrows, but the creature wraps Nysse tightly, squeezing. Rhese abandons his work, drawing his mace.
Rhoelyn: Nysse hacks at the tendrils viciously. She gasps, “Go… Tsume!” The fiend’s grip tightens cracking a rib as she finally cuts one off. “Please!”
Araatris: Rhese rushes in, smashing his mace against the fiend to no effect. With a growl, he drops it and grabs the scythe, slicing at the other tendril.
Rhoelyn: It slices cleanly through the limb without effort. Nysse frantically works on the one still holding her legs. Tsume struggles to get to her feet.
Araatris: Snarling viciously, Rhese buries the artifact blade in the fiend’s head. It shifts and grows suddenly until its tip protrudes from under the mouth.
Rhoelyn: Nysse’s startled glance was quickly replaced by worry. She whispers hoarsely, “Rhese?” Her eyes rest on the blade until she hears a whimper.
Araatris: “I- I’m fine.” He gasps for breath, his voice rough. He pulls the scythe free of the twitching corpse, his gaze going to the wolf. “Tsume?”
Rhoelyn: She scrambles to her feet. Nysse attempts to run, but quickly wraps an arm around to clutch at her side and hobbles the rest of the way.
Araatris: Tsume whines and struggles to rise once more until Nysse lays a hand against her heaving side. “Stay.” She commands, assessing her injury.
Rhoelyn: “Mostly bruising, but…” Nysse feels Tsume’s front paw causing her to yelp. She sets the paw with a sharp jerk. Nysse grabs her side again.
Araatris: Rhese steps up beside them, resting his hand on Nysse’s where she holds her ribs. “Let me help.” He holds the bare scythe in his other hand.
Rhoelyn: Nysse shakes her head. “Please heal Tsume first.” She frowns, “And I’m not sure you should be holding the scythe like that. It’s too dangerous.”
Araatris: “One thing at a time, lovely.” Rhese lays his hand on Tsume’s paw, resting healing magic into the joint. He turns to Nysse, next. “Come here.”
Rhoelyn: “I’m not that bad. You could do the wards first.” Nysse weakly redirects Rhese. He growls and narrows his eyes at her, “Nysse. Come here.”
Araatris: She steps into the hand he holds out but hisses softly at the touch of his magic, frowning. Though it stings like nettles, her rib and shoulder knit.
Rhoelyn: Nysse breathes deeply, “Don’t forget about your back, then the wards. We can’t have it calling for more.” She steps behind him to look at it.
Araatris: “Yes, my lad-!” Rhese jumps in surprise as she starts tugging his jacket off. “What are you doing? Nysse?” She mutters, “Show me your back.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes slightly as he complies; letting her hands take first his jacket, then his shirt. She frowns in worry, “It looks bad, Rhese.”
Araatris: “It’s just a– agh!” Rhese jumps once more at the touch of her icy hands as she probes at the oozing welt across his back. “Cenarius’ beard!”
Rhoelyn: Rhese turns around and takes both of her hands in his own, “I’ll do anything you wish, lovely, but your hands are freezing!” He rubs her hands.
Araatris: Nysse grins. “Sorry. My cloak has been o–” She halts mid-thought, staring at his hands wrapped around her own. “Rhese? Where’s the scythe?”
Rhoelyn: He leans forward and kisses her forehead, “I couldn’t very well hold it while you were removing my jacket, so I- ” He pauses and frowns.
Araatris: Rhese steps back and away, raising his hand. A silver gleam slithers up his arm from under his gauntlet, and the scythe materializes in his grip.
Rhoelyn: Her heart beats frantically, “You need to get new wards on it.” She holds out his jacket, “Why don’t you set it here while you heal yourself?”
Araatris: He nods and sets it down in her protected arms, but it fades away the moment he removes his hand. Nysse is left holding only his jacket.
Rhoelyn: “Nysse frowns, “It’s gone. Do you feel al–?” She interrupts herself, “One thing at a time. Heal yourself. It’s too cold to stay like this.”
Araatris: Rhese grins, taking his tunic back from her. “I forgot it was cold.” He closes his eyes and the welt across his back begins to heal.
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks away and mumbles, “Forgot? You hadn’t forgotten when my cold hands touched you a moment ago.” Rhese slides the tunic over his head.
Araatris: “That’s different.” He smiles, taking his jacket from her and slipping it around her shoulders. “The cool air is nothing compared to your hands.”
Rhoelyn: “They’re not that bad.” Nysse shivers and looks for her dropped cloak. “You’re just hot blooded.” She brushes by him to retrieve her cloak.
Araatris: Rhese tilts his head thoughtfully, watching her. “Not right now, actually. I feel… good. I think the fever broke.” He takes his jacket back.
Rhoelyn:Tossing her cloak around her shoulders, she walks back to him and reaches up to feel his forehead. “You do look better.” She shivers again.
Araatris: “You don’t.” Rhese pulls her into his arms, holding her against his warmth. “Do you feel alright?” Tsume comes over, nosing at Nysse’s hand.
Rhoelyn: “I’m a bit cold still. Probably because I haven’t repaired the leg of my pants.” Nysse muffles her cough. “I think it’s getting to me.”
Araatris: He frowns. “I can probably do something temporary about your pants, at least. Maybe you should take some of your herbs.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “I will, but we need to figure out other things first. That scythe is acting like part of you. That worries me. Do you feel alright?”
Araatris: Rhese nods instantly. “I feel fine, Nysse. Good. Like I haven’t been pathetic and sick for the past few days.” He pauses thoughtfully.
Rhoelyn: “And that doesn’t seem strange to you?” Nysse drops her hand to his cheek and stares into his eyes. “You were struggling just minutes ago.”
Araatris: “I… “ He hesitates before nodding slightly. “Yes, of course it’s strange. But we needed to travel fast, and now we can. Maybe I can even shift.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse looks worried and lets her hand drop to her side. “I suppose. I’m getting a really bad feeling about all of this. Maybe I’m still tired.”
Araatris: Rhese takes her hand, kissing her knuckles. “You’ve been making up for me for days. You must be exhausted. Should I make a sled for you?”
Rhoelyn: She flushes and shakes her head, “No, I’ll be fine. I’m not sick like you were.” She turns to her pack and kneels, “But herbs are a good idea.”
Araatris: He laughs softly, brushing a hand down the back of her hair. “It was a joke.” He leans down by her ear. “ … I’d just carry you, anyway.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse suddenly fumbles with the latch on her bag. “Yes, right… You can turn into a stag.” She manages to open it despite Rhese’s breath on her ear.
Araatris: “Right… a stag… “ He chuckles once more, having mercy on her by moving on to retrieve his pack and his mace. He shrugs on his jacket.
Rhoelyn: She takes the herbs then closes up her pack. Nysse lifts her obviously heavier back and swings it onto her back. She whistles for resting Tsume.
Araatris: Rhese steps up beside her. “Turn around, lovely.” He kneels to examine the back of her pants leg, tugging on the cloth.
Rhoelyn: Nysse squeaks a little, but turns to allow him to get to her leg. “I can mend it once I have a change of clothing. What are you doing?”
Araatris: “Improvising,” he mumbles. He pinches the slice in her pants together, pulling forth small black plant tendrils from the dirt to stitch it.
Rhoelyn: She attempts to watch. “Do you think it’ll hold?” Rhese closes off the stitching and tests the rough seam. “It wouldn’t hold up in a fight.”
Araatris: Straightening, he presses a kiss against her cheek. “So let’s try not to fight anything else, today. But it should be warmer. Ready to go?”
Rhoelyn: Tsume bounds over to them and Nysse ruffles her fur while looking at the camp. “Yes, we’ll leave the pit and kindling for someone else.”
Araatris: The morning sun is warm and the day is clear as they trudge out toward the hillside forest, leaving boot and paw prints in their wake.
Rhoelyn: Nysse laughs as Tsume pounces in the snow. “She’s acting like one of the pups. I’m glad.” She reaches down and loosely grasps Rhese’s hand.
Araatris: He nods, watching the wolf romp. “Needless to say, the paw healed fine.” Tsume hops over for a pat on the head and runs off, again.
Rhoelyn: “I’d say so.” Nysse smiles briefly and then looks at the sky. “We’re running behind. We’ll need either an early start or to keep going tonight.”
Araatris: “We’ll have a nearly full moon, tonight. It should be easy to keep moving after dusk.” He looks at her. “As long as you’re feeling up to it.”
Rhoelyn: She nods, “I’ll keep going.” Nysse releases his hand to pull her cloak tightly around her. “We need to get there and find out about the scythe.”
Araatris: Rhese holds up his arm, examining it thoughtfully. “It’s surprisingly… comfortable. It used to grate on my nerves, like the land did.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s doesn’t mean it’s good.” Nysse sighs, “I was comfortable fully Taken at the end. It was hard to tell where I ended and it began.”
Araatris: “Nysse, love…” Rhese pauses, drawing her to a stop. He rubs his thumb along her temple, smoothing away the worry lines. “This isn’t that.”
Rhoelyn: She closes her eyes and slowly reopens them; her eyes were shining with exhaustion. “I don’t want anything to happen to you,” She casts her eyes down.
Araatris: “I know, lovely.” He coaxes her to look up at him. “We’re strong. Even stronger together. Whatever this is, we’ll figure it out and overcome it.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods and gives a weak smile, “I’ll try to keep that in mind.” She hugs him, “Maybe we should stop tonight. If that’s okay with you?”
Araatris: After a short hesitation, Rhese nods. “If that’s what you want, Nysse. We can rest and get an early start. I think there’s a clearing up ahead.”
Rhoelyn: “I need it unless you really want to be carrying me, beloved.” Nysse yawns, “I can try to push on if you want.” She walks towards Tsume.
Araatris: Rhese follows her, commenting, “I don’t mind carrying you, but I think we’ll be safe if we get an early start. We should arrive by late day.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse snorts softly as Tsume falls in line, “You forgot that I’m carrying most of our supplies.” She hurries in the direction of the clearing.
Araatris: He blinks and pauses before trotting to catch up with her. When he does, he grabs her and sweeps her into his arms. “I did forget. How awful.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse makes a startled sound not unlike one of the wolf pups. “Rhese! You’re not actually going to carry me all the way there, are you?”
Araatris: “All the way to the Lodge?” He grins down at her. “It could be necessary. Maybe just to the clearing for now, though. By way of apology.”
Rhoelyn: She yawns and lays her head against him, “You know what I meant. You have nothing to apologize for, silly…” Her voice fades into soft breathing.
Araatris: Rhese cradles her against him and trudges to a little clearing, Tsume trotting at his side. Nysse barely stirs as he settles her into her bedroll.
Rhoelyn: He prepares a fire and feeds Tsume. He whispers to the wolf, “Your mistress is exhausted. Try to be quiet tonight.” He sets up his own bedroll.
Araatris: Before long, Rhese sits quietly by the fire, Tsume curled up at his side. He fiddles with his right bracer, pulling it free to examine his arm.
Rhoelyn: A black vine twists and shifts barely under the skin; mostly into the shape of the scythe. He flexes his hand and the tattoo flows to his hand.
Araatris: The slightest thought brings the mark, the energy flowing out to form the scythe in his hand. He frowns thoughtfully, touching the dangling claw.
Rhoelyn: A tingle runs through his body; changing and shifting his body. After a moment, he shakes a silvery coat of fur and paws at his long muzzle.
Araatris: Tsume leaps to her feet, alarmed at first. After a low growl, she edges forward, sniffing at him. Rhese stands still, listening to the new form’s senses.
Rhoelyn: The wolf circles him and whines in confusion. She butts her head against him. He growls softly in answer and sniffs the air: Nysse is everywhere.
Araatris: Rhese peers at her as she sleeps, jostled as Tsume presses against him once more. He growls irritably and snaps his teeth at her as a warning.
Rhoelyn: Nysse groans and rolls onto her back, “Go back to sleep, Tsume.” Tsume lays down and whimpers at Rhese. His ears twitch listening again.
Araatris: Rhese turns his senses to the forest and the thousand rustling, scurrying, slithering things he can smell and hear. He fights an urge to leave.
Rhoelyn: He pads to the edge of the clearing and paces at its border. Rhese pauses to watch Tsume slink to Nysse’s side and growls in frustration.
Araatris: After another few minutes of restless pacing, he turns back to Tsume and Nysse. He takes a few steps, only to freeze as a new sound reaches him.
Rhoelyn: He turns back to the forest and listens. Rhese glances back at Nysse before slipping into the woods. It was close. He’d only be gone a moment…
Rhoelyn: Rhese rolls over when the skies are grey. Nysse quietly slips away to gather wood, make food, and finally, assemble a small travel kit.