|These Woods Be Haunted|
|Summary:||Blaire and Bastien meet another set of characters in the Weeping Woman and Hunter plot.|
|Date:||10 December 2012|
|Related Logs:||All logs about the Hunter and Weeping Woman.|
|Out in the Woods, Terrick Lands|
|It's the woods.|
|December 10, 289|
"Ouch." Though it's hissed, and the following expletives are only softly muttered, Blaire's brief outburst is audible enough for one close enough as she stubs her toe - not for the first time - on a cunningly placed tree root. Tripping a step or two, she somehow manages to keep her paned lantern aloft and glances aside toward Bastien with a disgruntled look, then a grimace of apology. So far, this isn't the stealthiest of missions. Mouthing a 'sorry', the petite brunette continues along whatever trail her mind has adopted. There's certainly no obvious path through the forest in the dark of night. But then, she always does seem to operate on an entirely different compass.
Pausing as a dot of lighter hue catches her eye, the apothecary sighs and shakes her head. This theory of hers isn't exactly without flaw.. damned daisies are everywhere! Ah well, at least it's an interesting way to spend an evening. Sort of.
As much as the Ashwood Lord would like to be dressed from head to toe in the Brigandine armor that he calls his own, such equipment isn't exactly suited for this sort of terrain. Instead, the large knight has opted for a chain shirt and a buff jacket. His bastard sword rests cradled across his back in its frog, and the lantern that hangs from his hand remains unlit as of yet.
Blaire's apology falls on deaf ears as the large Knight keeps his eyes pointedly gazing away from the light, lest he lose whatever dark vision he has. "You never did start making maps, did you?"
While true night is still an hour or more off, there is a quaint darkness that has fallen over much of the forest. The lazy song of day birds has been replaced by the more morose song of twilight. Amongst the carpet of daisies blooms nocturnal jasmines and poppies that thrive on moonlight. There is a lazy breeze that ruffles up the canopy, adding another layer of sound to the deep bass of fat toads, the chirp of crickets, and the occasional thudding of a sapsucker's beak. It is perhaps comforting that there is so much noise to be had — after all, silence always equates to danger, doesn't it?
"I hadn't got round to it, no." replies Blaire, cheerfully and already distracted as she notes a particularly pretty poppy erring on the edge of her chosen route. Gently fingering the petals as she passes it by, she adds with a backward glance to her far larger companion, "..have you ever tried Milk of the Poppy, on your adventures? It's lovely and woozy." A brief pause. "So I'm told." Looking back forward, then briefly down as she unsnags her skirt from a wayward bramble, the girl continues doggedly onward through the twilight, her lantern swinging merrily, held high in one hand. Too many daisies here.. what she wants is a patch without. No joy, thus far. But it pays to be patient, when hunting down flora is your business. And when you're rather woefully rubbish at paying proper attention.
"Never for pleasure. We generally reserve such things for moments in which we are injured and the pain is…unbearable." He explains it in that flat tone as his eyes scan the night soaked forest. Turning around, the large man narrows his eyes and stares off into the darkness for a moment, before grumbling about frogs. "Though I have heard it does a great job of dulling those bites caused by blades." Nodding to himself when he's confidant whatever he saw moving was simply one of the forest's normal denizens, the man turns around and quickens his step to catch up to his companion.
As the smallfolk girl and her noble guardian continue into the clearing, the twittering of noise begins to die down. There is a watchfulness that seems to be felt from the shadows of the surrounding trees. There is a lump of shadows some paces off from where Blaire walks, and as her lantern light befalls it, it gains more definition and shape. It is a boy, perhaps fourteen or so years in age. He is dressed in smallfolk threads, all coarse and cheaply-woven. He is lying on his side in a lovely thatch of daisies and poppies with his back to the approaching pair. Thanks to the fact that his head has been twisted one-hundred and eighty degrees around confirms that he is, indeed, dead.
"Well, no, I mean.. I didn't try it for that.." corrects the girl, swiftly. "When I was studying in the Vale, the Maester gave me a drop on my tongue. Best to know how people feel when they're under the inf-..lu-.." Having been a few steps ahead of the Ashwood knight, and the one holding the shadow-casting light, Blaire suddenly draws to a halt, her words trailing off. Already large brown eyes widen further as they settle upon the sightless, opaque gaze of the dead teenager lying in the bed of flowers. The girl's lips part as if to speak further, in the end, but nothing comes out. Hopefully her expression alone is enough to direct Bastien's attention that way, as she stands frozen in his path.
"Under the influence?" Finishing the sentence for Blaire, the large knight nearly walks into her when she comes to a stop. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he mutters, "Careful." It isn't until the word has left his mouth that he realizes what has caused her to pause. A tsk sounds between his teeth as he moves in front of her and towards the body. Kneeling down on one knee, Bastien reaches forward and lifts the boy's hair away from his face. "Do you recognize him? If we're on the right path, as morbid as this is, it's a sure sign." Running his fingers over the boy's lids, he shuts those eyes to rid them of that all too eery dead stare and returns his gaze to Blaire. "Are you sure that you wish to continue?"
Mutely, quickly shaking her head, unable to shift her transfixed gaze from the body, even as Bastien kneels beside it - him. "N-no.. I don't. I mean.." She pauses to clear her throat, which has come out a little hoarse. "..I've never seen him before." Only slowly does she register that her companion is looking to her once more, and her dark eyes wander uncertainly back up to his. Though she's paled visibly, even in the warmth of her lamp's glow, and her lower lip threatens a momentary tremble, she forces herself to nod. "..yes. But.. what about.. what should we do?" Her free hand twitches slightly in the boy's direction. They can't leave him here, surely? All by himself?
"Mind the daisies…"
The breeze ruffles up the trees once more, but it is accented by a scattering of impish laughter.
"Can't leave him here," mocks another voice opposite of the first. "All-llllll by himself."
Again, there is another reply of laughter. Shapes begin to move about the branches above — thin and narrow bodies covered in patchworks of leather clothes and hoods. They might be human what with their two hands and feet, but there is something inhuman about the way they move throughout the trees.
Rising up from the body, Bastien's not clueless and its quite apparent that Blaire is shaken by the sight. "We'll mark the spot so that we can return for him, when this business is done." Reaching over his shoulder, the large knight grasps the hilt of his bastard sword and twists it, unclasping the frog which holds it in place. "I highly doubt that he'll…" The man's words fade to silence as the sound of that laughter and mockery reaches his ears. "Blaire, stay close." The man's voice has become a low growl, the danger present making itself quite blatant.
In contrast to that all-too-obvious nausea at the sight of the murdered child - because let's face it, nobody can really do that to their own neck - when the strange voices begin to waft in around she and Bastien, the girl blinks and raises her eyes to the branches, just barely outlined against the dusk sky overhead. Her features are immediately changing, to an expression of surprised curiosity, rather than the fear one might expect, given the circumstances. Fortunately, though, Blaire remains where she is, as the knight command.. whether she even heard him or not. "..what is that..?" she enquires, apparently of herself, as she squints, trying to get a better look. Not having a weapon of her own, since she'd probably only lose a finger or ten, all she can do is raise her lantern a little higher.
"What did you think you were gonna do, big scary knight?" Inquiries the first voice, though it has moved a bit since last it spoke. "Gonna go charging in and find the evil Hunter and his Weeping witch?" The voice is patronizing, squeaking in a baby voice. "What made you think you could do what all the others couldn't?"
Don'tcha wanna know about the boy?" Asks a third voice from behind them. "He didn't listen, tried to run away. Tsk, tsk."
The second voice offers a loud whisper from the base of a near-by tree. "You should come with us…"
The large Knight takes a deep breath and steps closer to Blaire, and into the light. Lowering his voice to a whisper, his fingers grip knuckle-white around the hilt of his blade. "This is not the time for curiosity. When I tell you, run." The voices recieve a response, finally from the man as he lets the anger show plain on his face. "I'm not like the other's. What are you?"
Blaire's aware of Bastien, it would seem, as her head turns vaguely in his direction with her words. But her eyes remain cast about the surrounding undergrowth. "..I'm not sure that's a good idea." Her whisper in return is eerily calm, even as she pivots on a heel, seeking the source of that final suggestion. "..come with you where..?" It's a fair enough question, and uttered in her usual speaking voice, rather than a mutter. She does, however, pointedly avoid looking toward the body nearby.
"This is not the time for curiosity," the first voice mocks as it moves about the trees.
That second vocie whispers again to Blaire, "Into the woods. You think them cruel, but they are not so."
The third voice starts to laugh in that impish giggle. "We are what you aren't, little knight. Go back now, go back."
"And leave her to your desires? You're fools if you think I'd leave behind a friend." The man is starting to grow frustrated, talking to giggling shadows and the like. Opening the cap to his lamp, he pours the oil inside out across the flat of his blade and removes a bit of flint from his pouch. He does not strike it quite yet, but is taking what precautions he can to avoid fighting in the dark, should Blaire actually heed his command to run. "Show yourselves, beasts."
"Friend?" The first voice asks with a laugh. "Your kind do not make friends with hers. You would have left us to snatch and take and keep until the end of days had we not taken… the one in the red riding hood. Admit to the girl here that you don't care about any of them save the one that is like you. Admit to, and we will surrending ourselves to you!"
"We will?" Asks the second, astonished.
"Fine, I will!" Clarifies the first.
"Come with us, sweet girl," the third whispers again, ignoring the spat between the other two.
Indecision plagues Blaire's features. The desire to get to the bottom of things, to believe that there's something other than sheer malevolent horror.. versus the common sense that warns her, however quietly, against trusting these creatures. She's certainly not running. Yet. Her dark gaze flits in the direction of that minor difference of opinions, then back to that third as it addresses her directly. In the end, though, her attention drifts to Bastien, eyes widening in innocent enquiry. "..what are they talking about? The one like you..? Wh-.." Dawning realisation gradually robs the usual warmth from her mien. It's not true. Is it? Everything's so confusing..
"They're trying to feed into your indecision. Were I here for whoever they speak of, likely the noble daughter you mentioned, I would not have brought you with me." The man's eyes soften ever so slightly as he looks over towards Blaire. "Truth be told, I didn't expect to find anything out here. You know I came to keep you safe, in case you were right." Lifting the bits of flint, the large man places the tip of his sword against the ground and lets it's pommel balance against his chest, careful to avoid letting the blade touch upon his clothing. Holding the flint in either hand, he calmly looks towards the source of the voices. "I am not here for you, I don't care if you surrender yourselves. I am here for the woman I've escorted, and you will /not/ be the one's to divide us."
"Well, Bastien.." replies the girl, taking a last look around herself before finally meeting his gaze again, "..I'd say we found something.." Her tone is soft, lowered for his ears but not indecipherable. Is she convinced by his explanation? Who knows. There are more pressing matters. Flitting a glance to his blade, apparently having missed his intention there, Blaire then hefts her lantern once more, swinging it slowly around herself. Where are they? "Who's 'they'?" she enquires aloud, rather gracelessly. Well, she's not a noble, is she.
"The Knight lies," the first voice chitters, and the second and third voice echo those three words in an eerie sing-song.
"He's here for the noble girl, the little frightened thing," the second voice chimes in with a giggle. "Just you ask the others that come tromping in our woods. All they care about is her… he wasn't going to come back for the body of this boy."
"Think about it, sweet girl. They don't care about ones like you. They only care about themselves."
It sounds as if the voices are starting to retreat back into the northern side of the woods.
"You should come with us," the three voices say in harmony. "We will care about you."
As the voices begin to drift away, Blaire takes an involuntary step forward, away from the knight.
Bastien nearly drops the flint in his hands when Blaire starts in the direction of the voices. Reaching out fast, he grabs the girl by her arm to stop her from going after them. "They're gone, and we are outnumbered Blaire. Let's return later, with aid. In the meanwhile, we can take the boy back and give him a proper burial." The man doesnt even respond to the accusations levied against him, apparently deciding that arguing with shadows is a fruitless battle that won't be won with truth.
"You'll know where to find us," the third voice whispers to Blaire as the others fade. "We will show you the real truth…"
There is the last little sight of a hooded creature moving deeper within the woods, and slowly their impish giggles fall into synchronization with the rest of the nighttime noises. Whatever they are, they are gone now, leaving the girl and the knight with more questions, perhaps, than answers.
The girl stops easily enough. She's no match for the knight's sheer strength, of course. But her eyes linger out there upon the darkness, her thoughts beset by those final whispered words and her form otherwise unheeding, despite Bastien's rational argument. Peering after the 'creatures', thinking she catches a glimpse of something, Blaire flexes her fingers around the handle of her lantern, frowning ever so slightly. Maybe it's the mention of the poor lost boy that brings her back, when all's said and done. "..a proper burial." Nodding slowly, almost dazedly, she blinks and looks to the man beside her. "Alright.. you're right."