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Author Topic: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)  (Read 4036 times)

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Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2014, 10:11:53 AM »
Astrid sighed. Calden was right. They would be foolish to chase after a God that could do something like this to a creature like Eidolon. She looked slowly and sadly around at the new life springing from his death. At least, at the very least, Eidolon's life had not been completely spent. His life force was flowing through the living things his energy had touched. She took a little comfort in that.

Eventually, she stood slowly, gently brushing the dirt from her skirt and sighing once more, "Well, I suppose we should find something for us to eat...I mean...Sorry, Calden", she said quietly. She hadn't meant to be so callous about eating, when he obviously could not. She bit her lip, feeling very uncomfortable as she randomly chose a direction to head in, in the hopes of finding something edible.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2014, 02:31:33 PM »

"I think I there's another one, behind the squiggly tree we just passed!" Calden whispered with a hushed urgency right below Astrid's right ear. He had asked her to pull down the neckline to keep at least his eye out of the clothes after the Lion. Calden had said that he was starting to get a hang of the weird colors of magic that he had been seeing, and though it didn't seem to have helped in the food gathering which Astrid had to do by herself, it had become increasingly relevant as the day turned to twilight.

The first one had been spotted some half an hour ago, when the clouds that could be seen in the skyline had shone with hues of bright orange and red. Calden had visibly spooked by it and yelped when he had seen the aura. His description of the creatures however had been somewhat lacking. Calden had told Astrid the one he saw was a small, maybe bunny sized, dark crawling thing with glowing eyes. However, when he had tried to point one out as proof to her, the tree branch he had indicated was empty.

However as the sunset had begun turning towards reddish purple and pink and the sky opposite began gaining a deep darkening hue, the creatures had begun growing bolder. Although they still kept out of sight, only rarely letting Calden spot them out of carelessness, they began gradually singing in low undulating gnarls that seemed to follow the kids, always some distance away. With the shadows of the trees growing darker and longer against the forest floor, the creatures began closing in. At first, they might have kept three trees between them and Astrid, then two, and now Calden had spotted one on a tree they had just passed.

It would not be long until the utter dark of night would embrace all of the woods, turning stone, trees and moss into one featureless blackness.

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2014, 05:35:53 PM »
With her heart racing and sweat building on her body, Astrid scrambled through the damp forest, trying to keep ahead of the encroaching 'things'. What scared her the most was not knowing what they even were. The fear of not knowing what could be out there. Calden at least was able to 'see' them, but could give her no definite idea of what they were or what they might be capable of. The feeling that they meant no good was obvious to both of them.

The panic was rising in her chest as the darkness fell around them, and the sounds of the animals grew louder and closer. Soon, Astrid kept enough of her head about her that she thought to at least conjure her blue ball of light to help her see. "Calden...", she whispered. "Do you think they might keep away from my light...?" She wasn't sure it would be bright or bold enough to keep whatever it was at bay, but it was a tiny hope, and it kept her from falling apart.

"We need to find somewhere to spend the night", she said, her voice shaking in fear and exhaustion. They had been trekking through the forest all day, and now when she would have welcomed a slower pace, she had been speeding up to keep ahead of their shadows. As she stumbled through another swampy patch and heard the rustling of other small creatures running from her splashing she held her light up high while it hovered over her hand, trying to see further into the shadows in the hopes of finding some sort of safe haven to spend the night.

Eventually, just as they came out of the swamp and into a more wooded part of the forest again, Astrid froze, her light as high as she could hold it. "Calden, I think I see an opening in that rock over there...", she whispered. "Do...do you see anything in it...?" She was terrified of heading toward what may very well be the home of some terrible magic creature. If Calden didn't see anything magic though, perhaps they would be able to make a camp there for the night.

Even though she knew Calden was with her, she was still alone, and that terrified her. To be lost, alone, defenseless except some weak beginner's magic spells and some others she seemed to have no control over, and with no one else to help her if something happened, the fear was almost all-consuming at this point. It was all Astrid could do to keep her mind calm enough to not do anything rash.

"If there's nothing in there, maybe we can spend the night there. Hopefully, if I block up the entrance with some flames or something...do you think that would keep those things away...?" She asked it in a tiny, fearful voice, tears threatening to spill at any moment. She wanted to go home. She wanted her safe, warm house, in the familiar village she had grown up in.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2014, 04:22:43 PM »
For several moments after Astrid conjured the magical sphere, Calden could have sworn he saw some of the creatures stop on their tracks at the very edge of the light. Yet, before he could let himself feel safe (let alone tell Astrid of it) they continued the chase. There was a clear change in their movement now though, the creatures seemed to be avoiding the areas illuminated by the magic, just as they had kept out of sunlight. An uncertain hint of victory was audible in Calden's whisper. "Yes. Yes! Astrid they're trying to avoid the light. They're still chasing us, but they're clearly avoiding the light." Just when he had said that, the boy reconsidered. A particularly daring chaser ignored the fading blue glow being cast on a trunk they just hopped over and followed them; the rest of the darkness came only few steps behind them. "Or... maybe not. I don't know. Yes. You need to get somewhere safe." Calden tried to keep his eye on the way forward. He could hear Astrid's heart thumping so hard and the heavy breathing. The feeling of being a burden had never before been so tangible, but there was one thing he could do. He could be her third eye, but what good an eye could do to stop a pack of monsters?

The night was already well on its way when they resurfaced from the now wholly black swamp back into some sort of cleaner woodlands. For a long while Astrid's light had been much stronger than the distant dimming shine of the sunset and now neither of the kids could spy even a speck of color other than darkening hues of blue or black on the sky behind the trees. The pack of creatures hissing behind their footsteps were still keeping their distance from the center of the azure glow, but some of them were already beginning to question whether or not the magic light was actually dangerous.

One tried the area lit by blue glow carefully with its thin clawed paw as if testing to see if the water was too cold for swimming. It's head was brought to view now just for a brief moment. In the end of a thick neck covered in black fur there was a flatter area from where two red dots glared back with hunger. Just for a brief moment the squinting eye on Astrid's shoulder could make out the details. He saw a face covered with the thinnest layer of dark fur. Wide brows, a small nose and a lip-less grin lined with small thin teeth. Calden quickly turned his eye from the disturbing man faced creature to look into the direction Astrid pointed out for him. Magic had been so easy to see in the day time and he had thought that most of it would have the friendly glow, but these creatures of night were just as black wherever he looked at them or perhaps darker yet. While trying to not look at the details, he gave another creeper close by another brief glance to get reference of it's dark aura and looked into the cave.

Calden instinctively matched his voice to Astrid's and kept it hushed. He had little will left to even try keep the terror within from being audible in the voice. "Uh... no. I think it's empty. I can't say for sure, but I don't see any of them in there. They aren't going to stay away from just your light forever, we need to move fast. But I think fire does it. They always say that fire keeps beasts away don't they? Fire has to work. But how-" He looked up at her tired, terrified face. Calden felt pity and desperation, he had ran out of good words to help her, the only thing he could do was repeat what he had been saying to her ever since. The boy's voice trembled as he tried to convince both her and himself. "You can do it Astrid. I'm here with you. We can do it." Calden hoped - prayed - that she could find some strength to pull herself into that hole and set up a fire that would stay till the morning.

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2014, 03:53:23 PM »
"Uh... no. I think it's empty."

A tiny feeling of relief trickled through her when he said that, and the feeling gave her a boost of strength. She pressed forward toward the crevice, her heart pounding. With a quick look behind her she slipped into the hole in the rock, sliding in sideways through the narrow opening. The gap seemed to open up to about arm width apart just inside the slit, and seemed to extend back just a little further than her own height lying down. She turned to face the opening, racking her brain to think of how to block it up and keep whatever seemed to be chasing her from getting in. She didn't want to find out what they wanted.

"Calden, d...do you think I could...s...summon a fire...?" She had never been able to properly summon a lasting flame before, but she had also never wanted or needed to so desperately. Without waiting for his response she left her blue ball of light to hover beside her and held her hands out in front of her. Trying to clear her mind of the fear that was threatening to crush her, she concentrated all her power and energy into one small point right in the doorway, trying to extend out through her hands to that point. She felt her arms and hands grow warm and strengthened her pressure toward the tiny point. A moment later she screamed as one of the creatures poked it's evil looking head through the crevice and her flame spell suddenly took hold, flashing into a small fire before her. The creature shrieked in pain and pulled it's head out of the small space, and she heard it yelping as it ran away from the heat and light of her spell. It wasn't a large fire, but it's light reflected off the specks in the stone around her, making it look larger than it was, and the gap in the stone was so small it filled the space almost completely.

Tears of relief flooded out of Astrid's eyes and she sank to her knees, shaking in fear and weakness. She had been pushing through the forest and swamps all day, and had really been struggling even before it grew dark and the creatures began to chase her. The bottom of her dress was soaked through, and her legs and feet were almost numb from cold. She knelt on the dirt floor, leaning forward and sobbing into her hands uncontrollably. Her whole body shook as the tension and pain of the day escaped in a painful rush.

Once her tears were spent, Astrid curled into a little ball on her left side, remembering even in her terror and exhaustion that Calden was on her right. Almost instantly she was asleep, huddled with her arms wrapped around her knees, trying to keep warm. The fire continued to give off it's magic light and warmth in the entrance, and her little blue light ball hovered where she had left it. Outside, the growls and snarls of the creatures were evidence that her fire was working, as they angrily paced back and forth a good way away from the entrance, staying away from her flames. She slept fitfully that night, shivering and waking with a start several times from either nightmares or from particularly loud or angry calls from creatures outside.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2014, 03:46:52 PM »
Calden's eye could do naught but follow the scene unfold from first person as Astrid slid into the tiny cave. He was on the very edge of excitement and barely able to pull his eye from the onward creeping mass of those crawling monstrosities when Astrid whispered her uncertainty. Of course she could do it, he thought, or maybe...  no, she could, she would do it. "Yes! Of course you can! Astrid hurry! Hurry before they get here!"

His focus was entirely drawn to the face of the creature poking into the cave before a bright orange flash was reflected on his round blue eye. He felt a powerful surge of success take place as the flame flickered before becoming a small stable flame and the gathered creeps fled in its wake, retreating into the darkness. "Hahaa! You did it! That was awesome Astrid!" Calden tore his sight away from the now brightly burning flame and glimpsed at the girl. He saw tears, but knew from her face that they weren't those of sadness. Unable to feel the stress of the day like her, he just grinned inside and kept on the small happy chatter of victory. He only stopped the cheering babble when noticing her eyelids had fallen closed and her breath had calmed to a steady sleepy rhythm. It didn't even occur to him to think how much her body must've been aching after such a day in the wilderness.

With Astrid asleep, Calden looked back towards the flame. He could see the vibrant brightness of orange fire, and on top of it the pretty magical energy being burned away to feed the flame. It was the first night he spent solely by keeping his eye on Astrid's magic while listening to her quiet puffing. The first of many nights that reminded him of just how much he missed being able to move by himself, or at least sleep to pass the time. In the night, while keeping a vigilant eye for the terrors in case Astrid needed awakening, he had time to ponder.

The night passed with both kids feeling their solitude despite the connection and days went past. Calden tried to keep up his attitude to keep Astrid in high spirits, but it was starting to get obvious how it now demanded effort for the boy rather than being a natural habit. He was starting to really miss the body.


Five days down the nature's own roads - still within the borders of the seemingly endless kingdom of green - and the for the first time after leaving their hometown, the two spotted another living, breathing, human being resting behind a tree. As they approached by climbing on top of a particularly large twisted tree trunk to get on top a small cliff, the voice of an old woman shouted out with a shrieking and wavering tone.

"W- Who goes there? Is, is that people I hear hmmm? Footsteps of a pretty child. Come! Come closer little one, be not afraid. I'm just an old woman weary and lost after a fruitless pilgrimage. Will you come sit down here and help me out?"

There she was, right around the corner, a dozen or so paces away sitting against an old moss covered giant tree on top of one of its roots. The woman was wearing rags that looked like they had been on her for years. Her back was so hunched that even while standing she would have probably not been able to reach Astrid's chin. The long white strands of her ruffled unkempt hair reached the forest floor where they curled into small bundles. However, the woman's face, despite being wrinkled and aged by time, was wearing a content grin as if today was the best day of her life. Her weary green eyes were looking right into Astrid, smiling along with rest of the face. She was grasping onto a dark wooden staff with bony fingers almost as gnarled as the wood. A tiny unlit oil lantern was dangling from the tip of the staff.

The old crone lifted one of her hands to motion for Astrid to approach and tapped the root next to her.

"We've got to go," whispered Calden with quiet terror in his tone. He had been somewhat wary of everything for the last few days, but it had been just careful precaution to try and balance against Astrid's curiosity. Now he really meant it, and only hoped that she would realize it too. Calden could barely even see the old woman that the thing before them was masquerading as. The whole area around her  in his field of vision was filled with a vortex of colourful intersecting auras that danced in strange flowing motions. "I mean it this time," he added, looking up at Astrid, trying to make a demanding expression at her, but failing to move anything other than the eye.

Patiently waiting, the elderly woman kept smiling at them with all the friendliness in the world.

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2014, 07:41:31 AM »
Astrid felt a small amount of relief wash over her at the sight of another human being in the seemingly endless forest. She hadn't realized how lonely she was, even with Calden talking to her about things here and there. She smiled and began heading in the old woman's direction, her pace quickening a little in her excitement at seeing another person.

"We've got to go. I mean it this time."

Astrid slowed slightly at Calden's warning, but she so desperately wanted to talk to someone real and physical. And she didn't see the harm in this old lady. "Calden, it's just a little old lady. She looks tired and hungry. Come on. What harm could it do to help an old lady?"

She approached the crone with a sweet smile on her face and took the spot on the moss covered root beside the woman. "Thank you", she said to her as she sank onto the tree. It felt so good to get off her tired feet and rest for a little bit. She cocked her head at the old woman beside her, "Are you hungry? I don't have much, but I found some berries and nuts a while back, and I have some baked roots I cooked up last night. You're welcome to have some."

She dug into the pockets of her dress, fishing out a handful of nuts and somewhat bruised berries from one pocket and two baked tubers. She handed one to the woman and held out her other hand for her to take some nuts and berries. "I'm afraid I don't have any water...I haven't anything to carry it in. Perhaps you've seen a stream or something around near here?" She popped a few juicy berries into her mouth, which somewhat helped to quench her thirst. That was the hardest part. She got so thirsty walking all day and never being sure where she would find something to drink next.

She smiled at the old crone, "I'm Astrid. May I ask what your pilgrimage was, and why was it fruitless? Perhaps I can help you?" She took a bite out of the root. It was no longer warm of course, but it was still good. The skin was crisp, and the inside was soft, fluffy and delicious. She had to admit, this had been a lucky find! She hoped she could find some more for her dinner tonight. She had planned on having the second one for supper, but this old woman seemed like she needed it more. "Are you cold?" She put the tuber down in her lap and removed the shawl from around her shoulders, draping it over the old woman's thin shoulders.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2014, 05:07:16 PM »
Calden seemed to shut it as Astrid got closer, he really did not want to get spotted. Meanwhile the seemingly harmless old woman's eyes squinted almost shut as her smile widened due to Astrid's approach. The woman replied to her thanks with an old giggly tone. "Ohoho, you are welcome my dear. There is space here to rest for all." Her dry cracked lips pursed together, returning to the smile as her eyes opened again and looked at Astrid with an apparent surprise when she offered food. "Why yes, now that you mention it I am a little hungry. Oh, how generous of you."

The woman retrieved the goodies from Astrid's palm with a deft swipe of her hand. Through her lips she slid one of the nuts, which she then began to roll around in the mouth. "Mmm... it's delicious! Thank you little angel. It's so difficult for my old eyes to spot these sort of goods in the bushes." She placed the nut between her teeth, popping it visibly against her cheek before crunching it and beginning to munch somewhat noisily while Astrid went on introducing herself. Her head bobbed up and down while she was still struggling to swallow the nut quickly to reply.

She extended her bony hand to gently shake Astrid's with a grip weak like a breeze. "Oh it's a pleasure to meet a young lady like you Astrid, such a beautiful name you have I wish I had thought of that for my children. My name is... oh I think it was Julianna, but everyone calls me July. Did I say I was on a pilgrimage? I did, didn't I? Yes, I was trying to find this place here in the forest, but my eyes are not like they used to be and it's been difficult to stay on the road, we are still on the road aren't we? Your help would be most welcome. It shouldn't take all that long at all for me to find the right path again if you were to give lend me your eye." Perhaps it was just the light playing a trick due to leaves blocking it's path, but for just a moment the old woman's grin took on a strange uncanny aspect. Then, the leaves above ruffled with the wind and again her smile was that of a kind elderly woman.

"Oh, you dear must be able to read minds, I was a little chilly. The nights can be unexpectedly cold here," she replied as Astrid wrapped the shawl around her shoulders. She stopped Astrid's hand from returning by gently overlapping her own palm with hers and looking up at the girl with a pleading gaze. "This cape is wonderful, but actually, I'm still a little chilly. The old bones take a while to warm up you see. I don't suppose you could set me up a small campfire, could you?"

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2014, 05:45:38 PM »
Watching the old woman eat the things she offered, Astrid smiled at her in a friendly way. The woman seemed nice enough. She didn't understand Calden's concern about being near her.

"Your help would be most welcome. It shouldn't take all that long at all for me to find the right path again if you were to give lend me your eye."

Astrid nodded. "I'd certainly like to help you. I'll do my best anyway. I'm not entirely sure where I am, actually..." She looked around, frowning slightly. She had been trying to go in the same direction as much as she could, though there really wasn't any way to tell for sure. It was difficult to see the position of the sun through the heavy canopy of the trees, so half the time it was guesswork. But she wanted to help the poor woman if she could.

Astrid contemplated how to help the woman without knowing exactly where she herself was. "I'm afraid I haven't seen a road at all. We-...I've been walking for days and I haven't come across any roads at all." She looked curiously at the old woman. "Where are you coming from? Where are you trying to get to?" Something about what the old woman was saying didn't make sense. Perhaps Astrid was just tired, or maybe it had just been so long since she'd spoken to anyone, but she wasn't clear what it was the old woman wanted. It didn't make sense. She chewed quietly as she tried to think. She wanted to ask Calden, but she felt that Calden didn't want to be known, so she held her tongue.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2014, 06:01:39 PM »
July seemed amused by Astrid's confusion of the location and laughed lightly. "We're in the forest silly, the Forest! It's all the same really." Her head tilted slightly and she shook her head in a gentle disappointment at the girl's remark about lack of a road. "Oh, and here I was hoping I had not steered too far from it." She wore her surprised face again when Astrid asked of her comings and goings. "Why I'm on a pilgrimage. I'm journeying from my home towards the sacred place that I'm trying to find here. It's a tricky place to find, which is why I'm still here wandering like a silly old demented lady I am, hehe. I could really use your help dear, but would you first be an angel and make me that campfire." She hugged her arms and pulled the cloth tighter around her back, shaking visibly. "My hip needs a moment to warm up before I can walk, I thought I had to wait through the whole noon here while bathing in the sun, but now that you are here to fix me a fire it's going to be alright!"

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2015, 12:44:14 PM »
Astrid sat up straighter in horror at forgetting the fire. "Oh! I'm so sorry! I forgot! Yes! Of course!" She scrambled off the root and looked around for a good spot for a fire. She wanted somewhere that the old woman could stay seated comfortably. Finally, she settled on a place right near the root she was already sitting on.

Focusing her mind and power she held her hands out in front of her, staring at the spot she wanted it. Closing her eyes for a moment, she forced the power down and out of her arms and hands and a spark burned for a moment in the spot she had chosen, then flickered and went out. She sighed, then tried again. Once more, the flame flickered and died. On the third try she managed to get the fire strong enough to stay lit and sank back down onto the root beside the old woman. She had always had trouble consistently getting the fire spell to work, and she had been amazed that it had worked the first time that night in the crevice. She felt that she was getting better though, and was pleased it had only taken three times today.

After resting for a minute, she looked back to the old woman and asked, "Well, I'm happy to help you find a road...But is there a road leading to the sacred place you're seeking? Which direction are you going?" She looked up between the leaves above them and frowned. "We should also think about keeping an eye out for a place to camp for the night. Where have you been sleeping, July?"

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2015, 02:56:23 PM »
The old woman looked in awe at Astrid's spellwork and clapped excitedly when the effort finally paid off. "Hohoo a talented little witch aren't you?" She then leaned forward towards the flame and placed her hands closer to it, but something about it didn't seem to please her as July's grin gained a slight pouty frown to it. However, she settled for just listening to the magic fire crackle with warmth while sitting quietly until Astrid asked of her destination again.

Strangely enough the old woman seemed to outright ignore her query as she replied with some pent up disappointment seeping through her tone. "It's all well and good to make fire like this, but you know it just isn't the same thing as a good campfire, this sort of magic flame. You will learn when you get to my age little girl. Your fire is missing all that makes a fire enjoyable to sit around. Sure it has the warmth and colour right, but the sounds...   I miss the crackle of wood as they crispen before turning coal. Oh, and the smell, the smell!" As if to exemplify her point the old woman's nostrils widened as she drew in a deep breath. "It's burnt air I smell in your fire, not wood." How can you start to think of lodging when you didn't even get the fire down right? Well, aren't you a lucky little girl that I am right here to set you straight. Go gather some wood for me, I'll guide you through the process."

July's face was again squinted into one big smile. She had retracted her hands, but now raised one to point a finger towards an old dry standing tree without leaves and only a little moss at its roots. The tree stood some distance away, but worst of all was on top of a small hill with a very steep looking hills. "There, that's just perfect. First go get me some logs from that tree over there."

Offline PennySludt

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2015, 03:23:13 PM »
Astrid cocked her head at her fire. She had been quite proud of her bit of magic, and the old woman's critical reception of it hurt a little. But now that the old crone had pointed out it's flaws, she could see them. They still didn't bother HER, but it obviously bothered the little old lady next to her. She looked in the direction that the woman had pointed and saw the tree she meant.

"First go get me some logs from that tree over there."

Astrid appraised the tree and it's surroundings and sighed. Glancing up at the sky again, she looked to the woman once more. She wanted to tell her that they needed to find somewhere to stay the night, and that making a 'real' fire was not on the list of important things to be done right now. But she could see it was important to her, so she sighed once more and stood up. Walking toward the tree, Astrid felt just how tired she was and how heavy her legs felt. She trudged to the little hill slowly, and when she judged herself to be out of earshot of the woman, she whispered to Calden, "I hope this doesn't take too long. I'm so tired and we really need to find somewhere safe for the night."

She struggled up the hill breathlessly, slipping and skinning her knee painfully. Once she reached the top she broke off a good handful of branches and twigs and turned back toward the old woman. As she started down the hill her foot slipped out from under her and she landed hard on her rear and skidded all the way down to the bottom. She sat at the bottom for a moment, recovering from her spill before standing and carefully brushing the dirt from her bottom and gathering the sticks she had dropped. Sighing again, she trudged slowly back to the root and her little magic fire, feeling the bruises already forming.

She laid the sticks down in a little pile next to her magic flames and sank down onto the root beside the woman, wincing as she sat on the tender parts from her spill. She watched the flames for a moment, waiting for the woman's next request.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2015, 07:08:33 AM »
July waited patiently for Astrid to take on the task while showering her in a continuous faint smile that widened even further when the girl finally began heading to fetch the wood. She encouraged Astrid with a playful tone. "Oh, it'll be all worth it when you're resting by a proper campfire, I promise!" She seemed to enjoy the sight of Astrid climbing, though made a slightly exaggerated silent gasp with a hand on her mouth when a knee scraped against stone painfully.

Calden hesitated slightly to answer back, he glanced back towards the old woman through Astrid's cowl, and even then his eye seemed to be seeing something through the fabric. He hissed back in a hurried whisper. "Astrid! You can't seriously be planning on playing around with that- that thing! We should run now and get as far as possible. I bet she only wants campfire so that she can roast you on a stick and eat you for dinner! Ow, just look at yourself. You're getting injured for some cursed campfire! Come on Astrid stop dancing to her tune just because she's an old lady..." He fell silent again as soon as Astrid's return trip approached its end and the distance to the old woman grew uncomfortably close to Calden's taste. He knew very well how hard it was to get her to not help something, heck he hadn't even tried it before. But then again before he could not have seen this old lady for what it truly was, or at least seen what it was capable of.

The elderly woman kept her eyes and a soft smile constantly on Astrid and, once the girl was done, she didn't hesitate to continue with her demands. "Ah, to be young again! It looked so easy when you did it. Now, be a dear and snuff out that smelly little flame of yours. We don't need no fake flames to help us make real ones do we? Here, let me show you how to get started, then you can do it on your own."

Tip of the old woman's gnarled staff softly pierced the moss on the ground as she steadied it to become a support with which to lever herself up. Both hands on the staff, she managed to rise on her feet, though it looked like she would fall back down at the slightest breeze. She hobbled to the pile of wood and began arranging the twigs into a very traditional looking campfire, then picked a particularly large piece of wood and laid it in the middle, and picked another smaller twig in her hand before turning her face towards Astrid. "Here, watch closely my dear. You put the twig between your palms and place it against the large log like so...  and then roll your palms against each other until tip of the twig begins smoking. Do be careful when it does, a lonely spark is so easily snuff out!" July shuffled on her knees to offer for Astrid to take her place while she would remain at the side and watch.

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2015, 07:32:52 AM »
Once more, Astrid glanced up at the sky and back down at the little old lady, her patience with her slowly beginning to wane. She didn't want to put out her magic fire! It had taken a lot of energy to make it, and now the woman wanted her to snuff it out just to make another one in some silly non-magic way. Astrid sat still, thinking. She wanted to tell her no, and keep her magic fire, but she felt sorry for the old woman, so she sighed heavily and got to her feet. Looking longingly at her little magic fire, she slowly waved her hand over it, absorbing the magic and putting the flame out. The cold and damp almost immediately began to permeate her tired body, especially since she had given her shawl to the woman and only had her thin, slightly wet dress to keep her warm. She got to her knees and aligned the sticks as the old woman had, and began rubbing her palms together. She knelt in front of the pile of sticks and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed. Nothing.

Astrid sat back on her heels, panting slightly with the effort, and looked up at the woman with a distraught look on her face. "I...I can't do it. Perhaps I could just use a spark from my fire, just to get it started? It would give you a nice fire much faster, and it would still be the fire you want..." She desperately hoped the woman would accept that offer. She was rapidly running out of energy and daylight and it was beginning to worry her. She didn't want to be caught out in the open at nightfall again. Once had been enough! And she didn't think the old woman would be able to outrun those creatures. "We really need to find somewhere to spend the night, July. We can build a fire there..."

She gazed hopefully up at the little woman, crossing her fingers and praying to the Gods that she would accept that suggestion. Astrid  was getting more and more tired by the minute, and all she wanted was a warm, safe place to rest. She was beginning to think that Calden had been right about helping this crazy old lady. Perhaps it was a mistake. She didn't think the woman was going to cook her or anything, but she was tired enough that she didn't want to deal with much more.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2015, 03:22:14 PM »
The old woman nodded approvingly when seeing Astrid comply with her request and begin the painstaking attempts of trying to make a 'real' fire. Every now and then she would give a small encouraging comment with more snide in her tone than actual advice, but mostly she just enjoyed watching Astrid work while huddling under the extra clothes she had been given. All of the wrinkles on her face dropped into a one big pouty frown when Astrid dropped the attempt. "Oh, no no dear. We can't do that. Oh I will manage for a while. This is a really important lesson for you my girl, you really need to get this down correctly and you will thank me for it. I promise you that." Some of the frown seemed to turn to a sparkling smirk again, and the old woman, with great effort, pushed herself to her feet again.

Between offering food and wasting strength in an effortless attempt to set up a fire, some time had passed indeed. Although the sun was yet high enough to not begin coloring the clouds with anything but perhaps a faint yellow glow, even the slight decrease in light meant a rapid growth in darkness there on the bottom of the heavily grown forest. Shadows were no longer just light green outlines on the ground, but dark blue spots in which things could hide. Bird chirps and other sounds of life were still strong however, but then they had always stayed loud before ending abruptly at nightfall.

"I do agree. It's getting late, almost tea time, and we'd better have proper shelter in case of rain. We best not waste the good wood though, would you pick them up for us?" She waited for the girl to react while looking down at her, clinging closely to her staff for support while standing. The old woman then squinted her eyes towards the blocked wooden horizon and spoke in a pondering tone. "Now where would you start with the shelter my dear? I believe we don't have the time to make it into any nearby villages today."

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2015, 05:11:57 PM »
Nodding in slight relief, Astrid began picking up the dried sticks, finally standing in front of the old woman.

"Now where would you start with the shelter my dear? I believe we don't have the time to make it into any nearby villages today."

She shook her head, "No, I haven't seen a village for days and days. We'll find somewhere sheltered away from the...natural elements..." She wasn't sure if she should mention the creatures that came out after dark. She didn't want to panic or scare the old woman. She looked around, trying to determine what direction to head in, and finally settling on the same direction she had been heading in when she stopped.

"Let's go this way and see if there are any good places in this direction." So far, she had been fairly lucky in finding secure places to stay and her magical fires had worked well in keeping them...HER...protected from the evil creatures that followed her every night. She tucked her bundle of sticks under her left arm and held her right arm, the one Calden was on, out to the woman to offer her support as they walked.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2015, 11:18:22 AM »
"Oh yes, they say the nature can be unpredictable even in the forest. You hear all kinds of hearsay of vengeful sprites, but I say it's all a ruse to keep people out of this beautiful place", speculated the old woman. Regardless of the complaints she might have voiced before about needing to warm up her hip before moving, she seemed to be more than happy to go now. Her green eyes detached their amused stare from Astrid to peer towards the direction that the little girl was looking at. There was no protest or dismissal in the tone of her reply, rather she seemed to trust this Astrid with this choice. "Very well, you lead the way dear."

She was already starting to limp on her own with the help of her staff when Astrid extended her hand. After a brief expression of bemusement, July's face turned again into a wide grateful smile. "Aww, aren't you just the thoughtful little angel." Her dry thing fingers wrapped around Astrid's palm. They had barely any strength in them but didn't slip even when the old woman let some of her weight shift onto the hand to ease her own burden. She still made no sign of noticing Calden who was feeling a perfectly infuriating mix of fear, anger and frustration towards Astrid's stubbornness. Had it not been for the scary aura emanating from July, which now filled his vision almost entirely, he would have screamed for her to go. Then again, had it not been for that lingering aura he would have likely felt compelled to help the old lady too...

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2015, 03:42:32 PM »
Astrid led the way through the forest, supporting the old woman on her arm, though she herself was tired and sore from her recent exertions on the hill. She smiled when the crone called her an angel, and she looked sideways toward her, "So, July...where do you live? Do you have family there?"

She was very curious about this strange old lady who seemed not to have any idea of the dangers of the forest, and yet must have been traveling for days in it to get where they were...How was that possible? Perhaps the woman was not alone after all? Perhaps she had just become separated from whoever was travelling with her? There was nothing else that made sense. The creatures that circled her every night surely couldn't be unique to her, so how had the woman survived until now?

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #44 on: January 10, 2015, 12:19:29 PM »
The woman gave Astrid sideways glances every now and then as she spoke, while keeping eyes mostly on her own feet so as to not trip on the roots and rocks on the ground. "Oh, no not around here. I've traveled for a long while I have. It's far away, very far. Maybe you will come visit one day?" She directed her smile straight at Astrid, then turned it into a slight frown as she continued. "My children, they've all spread their wings by now..." The old woman kept her eyes pointed forward and fell quiet for a while.

The old hag seemed genuinely like a confused lost old woman on her half demented wanderings. Calden of course knew better. He was constantly looking for a moment when the 'thing' that he saw would put distance between Astrid and him so he could try persuade her again, but to no avail. July didn't give out much new clues of her origin or purpose during the travel to find a shelter, nor did she really complain much aside from occasionally remarking how long they had been walking.

The sky was still quite bright, in the first stages of twilight, when they found somewhere to spend the night. July seated herself on the best spot immediately as if she had been homing towards it. "Ah!" She exclaimed, loosening her grip on the staff and placing it to rest against a wall. "Leave the fire for now dear." She advised Astrid with a flick of her wrist that motioned her to come closer. The elderly woman crouched; her back made crackles that sounded almost painful; and she reached to take her shoes off. If there had been uglier and smellier feet in existence, then Astrid probably had not seen them. The granny wiggled her callous toes in the air playfully. "Come now. Won't you be a dear and help an old woman relax. My soles are dying!"

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #45 on: January 10, 2015, 03:04:22 PM »
Astrid had dropped the sticks into a small pile and bent down to form them the way July had instructed earlier, but paused when the woman spoke to her.

"Leave the fire for now dear."

Astrid looked up at her in confusion, sitting back on her heels to wait for the the next daft request from the old lady. She wasn't prepared for what came out of the old crone's mouth next!

"Come now. Won't you be a dear and help an old woman relax. My soles are dying!"

Astrid gaped at her for a moment before coming to her senses looking away quickly, trying to think. What was she going to do!? To refuse would be rude, and disrespectful! But...She glanced back at July's feet...WHAT in the world was she supposed to do!? Astrid looked around her, hoping to find a stream or brook or ANYTHING that she could get water from to offer the old woman to soak her feet. But alas, no such luck. Not to mention the fact that the young girls was awfully thirsty and would have appreciated a cool drink as well.

After a moment, and another glance up at the sky to check the quality of the light left, she sighed and shook her head. "July...I'm very sorry...I really can't help you until we get our shelter fixed for the night. I'll do what I can when we're set...But right now I really need to work...and if you want a proper fire, it's going to take some time..." She hoped she was letting the old woman down gently, and she fully intended to do what she could, but right now the biggest thought in her head was securing their shelter before the light died. They could take all the time they wanted on feet once that had been done, but if they didn't have a shelter before dark, they probably wouldn't have FEET to WORRY about!

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2015, 02:06:52 PM »
When Astrid still had some distance between her and the crone, Calden did not wait to seize the moment. The pent up frustration in his voice was as palpable as the stench of the elderly feet that were being displayed some steps away. The boy hissed in a whisper. "Astrid! It's really time to go. I've been telling you that woman is not human! Not a normal one anyway. I can see it! She is coated in something strange. Just please, we need to get away, it's going to be night soon. Please don't spend the night with that thing..."

Even if his voice had been just maybe a little bit on the louder side, July did not seem to recognize it under the background noises of the forest and more importantly her own ridiculous demands. She listened to Astrid with a smile, but at the end of the girl's explanation, the old woman's face twisted into a hideous expression of both surprise and frown. "Really now?" She snorted disapprovingly. Her eyes shifted away from Astrid for a moment. Her tone was radiated disappointment. "And here little old me was already thinking you were an upstanding young lady who understood the plight of an elderly crone. It's fine. I will do it myself!"

Fueled by a strange burst of childish and uppity attitude, July tried to bend her knee while she reached forward to try and grasp her own soles. She wobbled wildly while doing so and barely stayed on her seat. Maintaining balance while performing such acrobatics was clearly no longer possible for the old woman. In the end she her finger tips did not even reach her foot, no matter how painful an expression she summoned up to steel her grit and help the old back bend just that one extra inch further.

The old lady gave up and threw her hands in the air to exaggerate her bafflement at how impossible the task was for her to achieve alone. "I suppose I won't be walking tomorrow then. Nor the day after. Nor the on the next. You really got me there little thief. I thought you were a kind child, but in fact you just wanted to exhaust me by leading me around the forest, then rob me in cover of the night and leave my crippled old self crawling helplessly for aid. I really don't understand how you can have the heart to refuse. Sometimes I just wish that young hooligans like yourself would get to feel what it is like to be old." Her tone was condescending, but the face she wore showed pity and grief.

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2015, 12:51:50 PM »
"What do you mean, not a normal human? What is she then? I think you're overreacting, Calden..." She was going to get into it more with him when July spoke up, berating Astrid for her suggestion. Astrid sat there, tears welling in her dark gray eyes. She felt like a terrible, horrible person! Maybe July was right. Maybe she wasn't a very nice girl. She certainly had no intention of stealing from the old woman, even if she looked like she had anything to steal anyway! But was she just making excuses not to do something she didn't want to do?

She watched for a moment as the old woman tried to rub her own feet, then jumped up to help her sit down again. "I'm so sorry, July. I...I didn't mean to make you think I don't care. I do. I just...I just thought if we..." She looked around them into the forest, "I'm scared...at night...There's things out here that are...terrifying...And I'm afraid of being caught without somewhere to stay at night..." She looked at the woman in front of her, "I'm sorry. I'm sure your feet must be very sore and tired. I'm sorry, July."

Astrid moved toward her and knelt in front of her, taking one of her disgusting feet in her hands, resting the heel on her lap and beginning to rub softly on the soles of the woman's feet. As she did so, she looked around them, as if she could see the things waiting for darkness to come. There was a battle waging inside her. She wanted to help this woman, didn't want to make her think Astrid didn't care...but at the same time, she wanted to tell the old lady there were priorities. And staying alive in this wretched forest was one of them. She vaguely began to wonder what Calden meant by not human. What else would she be...? Why was he afraid of her...? How could he tell she wasn't human...He had said she was coated in something strange...like what...? She wanted to ask him these things. To find out what he was afraid of. But she was stuck right there, massaging the old crone's stinking feet.

Offline SainTopic starter

Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2015, 05:11:08 PM »
At least one coating around the crone was imminently clear upon the un-booting of her feet; a thick layer of hardened dead skin had grown there. Twilight had already taken steps towards the night by the time July allowed Astrid to let go without moaning about problems of age or trying to guilt trip her into continuing. The shadows were inching father and farther from their roots and they grew darker with each passing moment. Those critters that filled the day with vivid chirps and sounds of life were too beginning to recede into their secret hiding places.

July's approval of Astrid's treatment did not need spoken confirmation. All of the old woman's wrinkles had united into one big pleasant grin by the end of it. She looked like she had been smiling all her life. Such reaction was really no wonder for it must have been a long while since the crone had gotten her feet scrubbed. They had stiff as planks and even in the end did not get softened up that much, but apparently even that little bit seemed to make all the difference to July. "Ahh... thank you, but you should learn to ease up a little dear. You worry all too much," she said, laying a wispy hand on Astrid's shoulder.

Those green slits that were the old woman's eyes jumped from Astrid's face to the woods behind her with feline quickness. A wicked property got mixed into her gentle smile as she spoke, "Oh, I don't those ugly things you speak of venture into these woods." She blinked. Her smile returned to normal and gaze turned back to the girl. July's expression was questioning but her tone saturated with assurity. "You see child. They say that a God walks these lands. A living one, and that he protects the forest. He keeps the nightmares at bay and the dark things underground. Now an old woman like me, I can't possibly ward off or run from anything anymore. We old folk, we have to keep our faith. In the Gods of land, forest, rivers and those that dwell in the sky. Yet, we always end up fine don't we?" The few yellow teeth left in her mouth gleamed in the faint light as the elderly's grin widened. "So you see. We will be fiiine!" Her hand brushed the air nonchalantly to further embody her comfort in with their chances to pull it through the night.

Towards the kids forest did not seem to be treating any differently so far though. The last rays of sun were muffled out by dark clouds before the horizon was dyed crimson. Not all the crawlers of night were harmful. The kids had already spent many nights in the forest and even though most often they had ended up in the wrong end of a chase with those monkey-like shadows, there had always been others in there; in the dark. The sharp chittering of those monkeys could not be heard yet, but already some of these more mellow minded things were popping out of their holes.

The first to appear or perhaps just the easiest to spot were tiny - pinky sized - segmented worms with a fluffy fur. They emitted brief bursts of faint light teal illumination each time they squiggled in the air, projecting themselves further in their seemingly uncontrollable drifting through the air. Calden had remarked on another night how he hoped that the forest was just filled with these flying feathers instead of those dark monkeys as even he seemed to like them. They crawled out in hundreds through infinitely small crevices in the bark. More and more took air, and though their glow was faint, it grew as the clouds did to candles, torches and even lanterns with the largest gatherings. These fluffy friends however had never been there to stay, and that would not be the case this night either. Fluttering gatherings of light slowly moved further and further from the ground, reaching the upper branches of the trees and then beyond as they penetrated the veil of leaves.

As the afterimage of the illuminating worms faded, more of those nightly critters were beginning to reveal themselves. Something large in the distance made deep gnarling sounds as it walked towards and unknown destination, away from the makeshift camp. A bzz almost too high to be heard emanated from the canopy. Some of its singers, five fingered star fish shaped creatures that slowly slid across the bark with stealth of a chameleon, were at times visible near the camp, but soon they too would hide among the leaves. There were some things, long things, that slithered through the ground moss as if it was water and countless more queer critters of darkness. Only the familiar shadowy monkeys were missing. Their cries were either too quiet or far to be heard across the cacophonous soundscape of the night.

July had kept her grin and attention on Astrid as the night fell, following her reactions. She spoke victoriously, "See? Nothing nightmarish out there. Just a few bugs." She had put her shoes back on, the nights were still chilly even if they had been getting warmer. "Now, could you stop gawking? It's high time we ate something. Go catch us a one of them big juice white puffy pillows. The ones that grow near oaks. I'll make you a stew you won't forget if you do!" Her tone in the end was almost playful.

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Re: Bound by curse (Sain and PennySludt)
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2015, 06:02:55 PM »
Astrid had never had time to appreciate the beauty in the forest, for her deep fear of those 'things' that seemed to hunt them every night. As the sun set and the shadows grew longer, her fear increased dramatically. She tried to keep the panic from her face and voice as she spoke with July, rubbing the old woman's feet, but her assurances that nothing would hurt them were hard for Astrid to grasp. When July spoke of the Gods, though, Astrid suddenly felt a flutter of reassurance, the tales of her younger childhood coming back to her. Tales about Gods protecting and helping, testing and caring. Gods nothing like the one that had stolen Calden's body.

The old woman's smile beamed down on the young girl, and she smiled up at her as best she could. She was still deeply afraid, but the story of the Gods had helped lessen her fear a great deal. But as the light disappeared and the other woodland creatures came out, making themselves known...or not, as they so chose, Astrid was able to take in the abundance of magical creatures that lived in these deep, dark woods. She sat back on her heels, still in front of July, watching all around her as one of of the forest went to roost, and the other half woke and came to life in beautiful, mysterious glory. Her face shone with wonder as she looked around, completely missing July's glare into the woods behind her in her wonder at the life around them.

For the first time since entering the forest all those days ago, Astrid was not afraid of the night. The evil creatures were nowhere to be seen or even heard. She wanted to ask Calden if he could see them, but she didn't want to do that in front of July. She wasn't really sure why she didn't want July to know about Calden, but something, perhaps Calden's concern over being near the old lady, was keeping her from making him known to her.

"Go catch us a one of them big juicy white puffy pillows. The ones that grow near oaks. I'll make you a stew you won't forget if you do!"

Astrid cocked her head at the old woman. She nodded slowly and sighed as she stood. She was so tired, but she was also very hungry, having given her dinner to July earlier. She was also very thirsty, and she figured that perhaps she could find a little stream or something as she went looking for the things July told her to get. She surreptitiously wiped her hands on her dress, then conjured a little ball of blue light as she had so many nights, holding it hovering slightly above her hand and raising her hand level with the top of her head so the light shone around her like a lamp. "I'll be back soon, then", she told July, and walked off into the dark of night, surrounded by her magic blue light.