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For the most part, the marsh was quiet, in terms as in there hadn't been much commotion of chaos yet. However, there was the sound of toads croaking, birds flying up and through the trees and the occasional soft rustle of grass and plants as rabbits or squirrels made their way through the underbrush. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, a soft breeze that would whisper through the leafy canopy overhead of the wetland. At the edge of the marsh and trees was a soft humming, almost too small and quiet to be heard by most, but it was undeniably there if you were to have a keen sense of hearing or if you were perhaps to be a fae. On a high branch stood a tiny creature, looking out to the young city of Mezthaluen, a city just on the outskirt of the Bloodstone Marsh, as she murmured a tune. The creature was a small girl, only standing at a height of a few inches under a foot, leaning her shoulder against the trunk of the tree. She looked content, her loot of the day set on the branch beside her, which consisted of few gold coins and pieces, a somewhat damaged locket necklace and because today seemed to be her lucky day, the small sprite had managed to lift and sneak away with a silver pocket-watch. Fae never had any use for the pocket-watches that the girl would steal from the nearby cities, but they were always a jackpot considering all the different pieces and gears in the chronometer that could be taken apart and used for multiple reasons. The sprite tucked a piece of her short, white hair behind her pierced, pointed ear before reaching down and sliding the golden coins between the cream-colored sash belt and her hip, looping the defaced locket around her shoulder like a satchel and lifting the somewhat heavy pocket-watch into her arms. She truly looked like the epitome of avarice as the fae lept from the branch, allowing her speedy wings to carry her further into the marshland. "Iridia!" A familiar voice had called out to the flittering thief as she had made her way through the trees. "You were told to stop going to the city!" "Oops!" The sprite called back sarcastically as she continued on her way, looking every which way. Iridia had a favorite mechanic she would always bring her looted tickers too, however, she found that it wasn't the best idea to steal from a grease monkey because, well.. there's slippery grease and oil. Hence, being banned and pummeled a bit, the sprite was looking for a sign of another, a shop of some sorts that she had been told about by a friend that could take apart the watch for her. In the trees of the marsh were multiple little homes and places of business for fae, expertly hidden from prying eyes and others that would come through the wetland looking for the Bloodstone. Carrying her loot from the day still, the white-haired sprite found a specific arrangement of mushrooms she was keeping an eye out for around the base of a tall, green ash tree. Immediately flying upwards into the branches and leaves, Iridia found the establishment she had been looking for. It was a different mechanics shop, one that she hopefully wouldn't get kicked out of as soon as stepping through the doorway. Iridia set the pocket-watch down on the tree branch, rolling it on its side with her as she walked up to the little wooden door. Pushing it open, the smallest little chime of a bell went off in the shop, her mismatched eyes scanning around the establishment in curiosity. The sprite stood in front of the door, assuming the owner of the shop was in the back, the ticker resting against her hip, a little hum of interest coming from the girl. In the light of the shop, it was almost as if Iridia's light brown skin had a warm glow to it, her pearly hair in messy waves and curls, a calm and confident look upon her attractive features, knowing she'd be able to easily convince the owner to take apart the watch for her.
Untouched by civilization for countless years, the Bloodstone Marsh continues on in wild existence. Unclaimed and unspoiled woods and waters stand to folly humankind and any other denizens of Valucre that come to seek the fortunes of the marsh. Monsters roam these vast areas, claiming the lives of any civilian who treads too far into the foreboding lands. Without question, the Bloodstone Marsh is a dangerous place. It's been four months since some of the regents of Genesaris decided to pull up funds to gather experienced personnel to lay waste to these areas, trying to open up a better trade route between the prison city to the north and Mezthaluen to the south. It was more of an official recognition of the problems that were the Prison City, and finding an easier way to get to them and start fixing the hellhole it was becoming. One vassal of these regents, Sir Tolgrith, headed this task. Starting from the northern reaches of the prison city, to show a probable 'hope' to the citizens there, they established a small pass and created a temporary abode in Fort Thorn. In the months since, Tolgrith and his men have toiled and worked well enough to minor success, but have reached out for extra assistance where it's been deemed necessary. “Land, Gold, and Title!” Those are the things promised for taming the great swath of wilderness known as the Bloodstone Marsh, but so far, the journey there has been little more than hardship and boredom. As the miles rolled past, the company of merchants William found himself traveling with had grown steadily more subdued. There were whispers that the marsh was haunted or cursed. Not surprising really, coming from the other rumors of the lands of Genesaris that supplied plenty of lore and misfortune. The wagons stopped to take in the view before them. In the distance one could see the prison city to the north just barely visible beyond the lush green wilderness. Below spread a sea of leaves, broken only here and there by moss, water, and strange and erratic flora. Another twenty miles of travel, and a wooden fort broke through the forested canopy, with a thin wisp of smoke twisting through the air. Crumpling up the handout that read the details of the excursion, William smirked as he walked into the encampment. His first stop was what they called their inn, the Boar's Bones. William needed a room to shackle up within during his stay here. Rumors scuttled about, nothing in regards to him of course, since he was unknown and just a foreseeable aid. One caught his ear though. People had begun to disappear. Ok, sure, that was a common thing that was talked about where the Marsh was concerned, but it was better than nothing. In fact, it was reasonably why people were being called from outside the regular work-bearers to assist. Like William himself. "Excuse me, I'd like a room, and could you tell me where Sir Tolgrith is?" Taking a leaning stance on the bar within the Boar's Bones, William pulled out some money and handed it to the barkeep, hoping that his search and stay wouldn't be too costly. "Check the keep across the way. Big, stone. You can't miss it. Lodgings will be dealt with later, but I'll have a key for you when you come back tonight." Fort Thorn's keep was an imposing structure and one of the few stone buildings in the small outpost. It was reasonable that the man was probably over there, though William didn't surmise this as he was more keen on a bed he could secure when night fell. "Thank you," he responded with a tip before stepping back outside. The building in question was two stories tall, with few windows that were little more than arrow slits. A pair of guards standing in front of the portcullis protecting the main entrance took note of him as he approached casually. "Newcomer! You must be one of the adventurers come to answer the lord's call! Welcome! Please wait nearby until the rest arrive that are due today, please."
@HumanBean03 The advantage of short friends, Cecil thought wryly as he ran, is that they're easy to carry. Talia was a diminutive woman, by almost anyone's standards, and time spent in the prison city of Reyer had shrunk her even further. Malnutrition and illness wracked his former first-mate's body, and Cecil could feel his anger building at the thought of conditions in Reyer for the "weak." In the lawless landscapes of a prison city, physical and magical power were everything. Those without were up the metaphorical creek, and while Talia was blessed with many gifts, the aforementioned two were not among them. Crackling in the brush behind him alerted Cecil that their pursuers were making headway, and he turned over one shoulder, leveling his magi-tech pistol in the are generally behind him. He squeezed off a burst of rounds and was rewarded by a howl of pain and a reduction in the sounds of pursuit. The trees and underbrush rendered their escape difficult, instead of entirely impossible. The prison-guards on their tail couldn't get a clear shot, and their stun-grade weaponry wasn't suited for penetrating the foliage. Cecil's pistol had no such vulnerability, and every time he opened fire, the running guards had to take cover, or be ready to tend to casualties. The original pursuit group had dwindled to a small contingent of particularly determined individuals, and every one he picked off actually meant two, because one had to carry their comrade to safety. Unfortunately, there were still probably enough of them that he wasn't winning a straight up shoot-out, especially with his dwindling ammo supplies. He was staying ahead of them for now, but he'd be out of shots eventually, and outrunning the guards in the long-haul was all but impossible while carrying his feverish comrade. Cecil could feel her hot breath on his neck even now as he ran, her panting far worse than his. Escaping the city hadn't been easy, and had involved hiding somewhere rather damp for an extended period of time. Talia had practically collapsed in his arms when he'd gotten to her, and he was worried she might not make it through the night. Of course, if they got caught, neither of them would. Fortunately, help wasn't that far away. He just had to break out into the grasslands and they were home free. Tantalizingly close and yet so far. Dusk was closing in, and Cecil wanted to be out of the deep marsh before it got truly into nightfall. The risks grew worse and worse as night wore on, from the danger of losing one's footing in the darkness, to the more virulent wildlife that populated the swamp when the light grew low. The guards would pull back when it got late, but only because they knew that Cecil and Talia never survive the swamp itself. So they were forced into this awkward footrace, Cecil staying just a step ahead with judicious use of suppressing fire, and the guards behind trying to run him out until night fell, unknowing of Cecil's potential avenue of escape. And then the metaphorical wrench in the works. In the low-light, Cecil didn't see the halfling until he was right on top of her, and by then it was too-late. He tripped right over the woman's huddled form, sending himself sprawling. He spun as he fell, landing on his back and catching Talia before she could slam into the swampy ground, but the damage was done, and precious seconds lost. "There they are!" came a voice from the trees. "There's someone with them, catch them all!" Stun shots erupted from the trees, bathing the area in blue, and the pirate captain barely had time to drag his charge behind a fallen log before the sizzling magic washed over the region he'd just vacated. He returned fire with two snap shots, but neither found a target, and Cecil cursed under his breath. Could he make a break for it? Was it the time to fight it out? And what had happened to that halfing? What were they even doing here so deep in the marsh at this time of night?
Finally, they'd made it. Dan looked at the Bloodstone Marsh, taking in the whole, nasty thing. Dan readied his notebook, and kept another herb book primed in case they came upon one already known. Dan took a step, and his foot sunk into the soggy earth. Dan grimaced. "Eeeeew ew ew ew ew ew." Dan looked behind him. Brinna and Xaien were still there, as was Brinnas horse, Buttercup. Autolycus had long since clambered up on Buttercup's back, and Colonel Blood walked silently with the others. At least he wasn't doing this alone.