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A Hunt In the Wild [Ellwood Forest]

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Their arrival to the island of Orisia was quick, silent and hopefully unseen. The boat had been carefully hidden among the rocks to insure that they would have an escape plan handy. Annabelle wanted to be able to leave as soon as this dreadful business was over with.

"The unicorn is somewhere deep in this forest" Annabelle explained to the two fellow hunters she had hired for this trip. Hoping that they would do well in the art of stealth and hunting, she would take a deep breath before continuing. "We will have to be careful though, there are a lot of things that will try and stop us or just try to eat us in general. We did not get permission from the Black Queen for this hunt, so assume anyone out here will try to arrest us for poaching."

"Oh yes I can see just how that conversation would go. 'Yes your majesty we only need one little unicorn in order to craft a device capable of killing a god. Oh and do give your deific fiancé a hello from us, we swear he isn't on our hit list.'" 

The Masked Man was wearing thin on her nerves, his blue garbed form laid out on a rock like a cat. Annabelle was the only one that could see or hear him, so she tried not to let his annoying antics get to her. It was hard enough to get people willing to risk their freedom in order to take down one of the fabled mythical creatures, but she couldn't seem like a crazy person to them.

It was him that showed her how to make the plans which would be given to a blacksmith talented enough to make the device she needed. Only with the horn and blood of a unicorn could it work, making the next step of their plan more likely for her to survive. Of course it all goes south if she dies at this point of it anyway.

"Okay, we're nearing the forest, everyone ready?"

@jack-attack @danzilla3 @Slank44

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Benjamin Shawcross had hunted many things in his life; everything from rabbits to people. So when the young woman leading this expedition had come looking for partners to help hunt for a unicorn, well, there was no way he was going to pass that up. Besides which, he'd had a run of bad luck in a few card games recently, and now he owed some serious people some money. Not that he was scared, he was pretty sure he could kill them if it came to that, but he didn't want to solve every problem with a rampage. 

When the boat reached the shore, he hoisted his pack onto his back, and let his axe rest on his shoulder and disembarked. He listened to Annabelle explain the mission one more time before she asked if they were ready. 

The black eyed man grinned, "Ready when you are boss."

 

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Jack kept low in the undergrowth of the forest - in beast form, of course - and followed the crew of three with his eyes as they looked to the forest and trudged off of their boat. They were quiet enough, and they had some nice gear. He fought back the urge to huff at their presence. Jack crept along a fair distance away from them, and listened to the three talking about their mission. They were hunting the unicorn. The very same unicorn he was hunting, of that there was no doubt. For when does one hear of two unicorns roaming the same forest? Jack peeled back his lips in a silent snarl. In this form, he was well over ten feet long, and just under six foot high. If he wanted to, he could have killed all three of them on the spot.

But instead, like the true hunter he was Jack waited. Maybe they could work in his favor. He settled into a comfortable crouch, and watched them some more. Chances were they would leave the body, maybe they would want the hooves or the head. Or maybe they would take its tongue for some witchcraft spell. Jack didn't really care, so long as he could get his fill of the meat and blood. If they wanted to take the whole thing with them, well, that would be a different story.

Jack knew there was a chance he would have to kill the three of them but that didn't bother him. What did bother him was the skills of the three. One person was fine to hunt. Two was a challenge if they were hardy to the environment. But three? Jack would have to steel himself for a battle. He kept low, and decided to take it slow for now. Maybe he'd pick them off one by one and crush their skulls in his jaw. Maybe he'd impale them on trees. The options were unending.

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Malik Smithson was thoroughly enjoying himself. After the nightmare of having journeyed a field of deadly poppies it was nice to just enjoy the forest in it's natural state. As he journeyed through the forest he cast his mind out into the surrounding area. While he was certainly not a conventional telepath he could communicate with any creature of magical nature. To his surprise, he felt quit a few minds touch his own. One of those minds was hot, firey, and generally uncomfortable and Malik deliberately pulled back from it. In balance to that mind however were several minds that were cool, calm, soothing, almost fluid in nature. Feeling one of these minds nearby, Malik thought to it "I am a friend. If you would allow me I would see what sort of creature you are I would be most gratified." Though the creature did not respond with words Malik felt a general sense of acquiescence. As he approached the forest opened up into a clearing in which grazed a magnificent blue unicorn. 

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The second hunter nodded, holding his rifle close to him as he stood there. It was an old flintlock enchanted with a bit of magic. His father had this weapon and his before him, so it was fitting he would be the one to wield it. "Lets do this."

Annabelle nodded, leading them into forest, her senses were finely tuned to pick up anything that may happen. Getting surprised meant death in these situations, and Annabelle didn't wish to go to the afterlife right at this moment. Normally this would have been a picturesque place to visit and to behold, but now it just seemed like a place filled with unseen danger. They didn't belong in this place, they would definitely be expunged if they were caught, or even worse...

"The unicorn is close, I can almost feel it. Any sensation at all would be nice but its something that one can see. Its almost like little patches of light that's been filtered through a prism, just laying there on the ground in the shape of a hoof. That's unicorn magic for you I suppose."

The Masked Man had an odd way of seeing the world. He told Annabelle its like peering through a filter, one that allowed him to see things that most others couldn't. Sometimes it yielded useful information to him, others it was just a nuisance. At the moment it was an important tool for tracking down this mythical creature. Keeping her footprints soft, she wanted to make certain that they wouldn't spook the beast when they closed in on it. From what the Masked Man was saying, it was going to be a little deeper into the forest.

"Watch out for black wolves." Annabelle warned, knowing that they would be a terrible danger for them at this time. Together they may stand a chance against one or two, but a whole pack would be asking for a grizzly death.

(Meanwhile, at the location of the Blue Unicorn)

Today like any other day, was just as pleasant as any for a little stroll through the forest. Her kind wasn't afraid of the many predators of Ellwood forest, except for the Red Bulls of course, but as far as she knew none seemed to be around. Suddenly she felt a presence near her, so she responded to it.

"Hello there" she thought to the other mind listening "who might you be in Ellwood forest? Another sprite come to play a trick perhaps? You folk are getting rather sneaky aren't you?"

Sprites usually never did anything too harmful, besides the one time they braided her mane in a ghastly design that just didn't fit her personality. Most sprites were fairly cautious around her kind though, knowing that unicorn magic is vastly stronger than anything a sprite could throw at them. This presence though felt very different, almost like some sort of different thing altogether. Maybe it was a human?

Humans or any other kind of bipeds didn't stray so far into the forest as to speak with a unicorn these days. Black wolves and other nasty things tend to intercept them before they ever get as close as a hundred feet. Then of course those that do get to her kind are always after some kind of selfish desire or another. If this was one such person then she would run him through without hesitation. 

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One of the soldiers said to watch out for wolves. Jack smirked to himself and wondered if they knew of anything more dangerous in the forest. Jack moved to a more comfortable position, rustling the leaves just a little. Jack whispered a curse to himself in Afrikaans, then let the humans go ahead.

He had to think of a plan. Perhaps he could go to them in human form and join their team. Getting them by themselves would certainly be easier that way, if he played his cards right. The beast crossed that one off. It was more of a desperate measure, and if the humans had special abilities he couldn't see that would complicate things. Jack bared his teeth. He hated magic.

Jack felt the sweet sense of the Unicorn speaking to the soldiers. He could feel other mystical being's telepathic voices, but couldn't respond very well. He responded usually with images or brief sounds. Jack had to test some of the human skills, so he followed a little closely to them. About twenty feet or so. He made sure to step on the occasional twig, but otherwise he kept completely silent.

Edited by jack-attack

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When Annabelle warned of black wolves prowling the forest, Benjamin shifted his grip on his axe to allow him to respond quicker. As he walked he became aware that something was watching them, following them. It wasn't just the occasional snap of a twig that tipped him off. He could also smell something nearby, something big he guessed. He walked up beside Annabelle to whisper to her. 

"Something is watching us/"

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Malik new instantly that this was something more than the unicorns of his homeland. While both species were proud, strong, and beautiful the unicorn in front of him was a true force of nature, fundamentally tied into the land. "My name is Malik Smithson your..... honor," he communicated towards the creature. "I was once human, very, very long ago but I am not any longer. My race, my species, is called the Guardians of Haven." As he continued to gaze on the wonder before him he felt an overwhelming desire to tough the creature rise in him, though he was careful not to let that desire show through his telepathic link. "Haven is a sanctuary for creatures and persons of magic and, as I'm sure you have discerned, I and my people are charged with guarding it."

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Jack watched them closely through the shrubbery and trees. Two whispered to each other. The third seemed preoccupied but with what he could not discern. Perhaps he was a city boy, never been in the forest before. Perhaps the unicorn had reached out to him specifically. Jack narrowed his eyes on the whispering ones though. Although his senses were heightened in this form, hearing whispering from twenty feet away with the noise of the forest overhead was still tough.

His paws snapped once last twig, then Jack converted back to his hunter walk. He was as silent as a fox hunting rodents under the snow. The beast moved around shrubbery, moving even further away from the soldiers. There was no use in taking them all on without knowing how they would deal with the Unicorn body. All he wanted was the high from the meat and blood; so this was nothing to die over. Dying was not permanent for Jack, but it was an inconvenience.

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While tracking the footprints of the unicorn, Annabelle couldn't help but feel as if they were being followed. Looking around, she wondered if the sounds she was hearing wasn't just normal wildlife of the forest. The Masked Man hadn't said anything about them being followed, but not even his strange sight could pick up the trail of certain things.

"Hold." There was something wrong about the forest right now, something in the pit of her stomach. Perhaps it was paranoia, but that could be a good thing in a place such as this. Birds chirped in the distance, leaves swayed in the wind, and Annabelle was beginning to feel very unsure of their stealth. 

"I'll scout ahead for a bit, watch out for anything that doesn't look right." 

Carefully she would make her way ahead of the group, senses on high alert for any sign of danger that would be coming her way. Every nerve was on edge, so she decided to use her powers somewhat to try and remedy that. Feeling the power of her psionics come to life, Annabelle could feel the Mantle of Awakening drape across her body, feelings of safety washing over her as a shield enveloped her form. A halo of psychic energy formed around her cranium, marking the activation of her powers. Hopefully it would be enough to protect her against whatever she theorized was after them.

(Meanwhile, back to the Unicorn)

"I am humbled by your presence, good Guardian. Is there a threat nearby I must be aware of?" Many people coveted the power of the unicorn, their magic capable of many great things when used properly. Unfortunately many of these people intend to use them for wicked things that would cause harm to untold amounts of innocents. As a paragon of all that is good, blue unicorns must protect themselves from the machinations of those that would abuse their power. 

Looking up to where the birds were chirping about in the branches, she looked back to the guardian. "The forest is certainly buzzing with chatter. It seems that you are not the only other human to roam these woods. Are these people threats to my safety?" Surely she would be able to trust this one due to his connection with nature. Of course it wasn't the same as a fair maiden untouched by the hands of men, but it still made her feel safe around him. 

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Benjamin had been in a lot of weird places, but none had ever put him quite as on edge as this place. He knew something was watching them. Somehow, he couldn't quite explain how, he knew that other things in this forest were aware of their presence. Every now and again he thought that he could hear whispering coming from somewhere nearby, only to realize that it was coming from inside his head. Was he finally going crazy, finally loosing control to his more beastial urges?

"No. That ain't it."

He growled with more confidence than he felt.

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Malik's eyes widened at the Unicorn's mention of humans in the forest. "They are most certainly not with me." he communicated to the unicorn. "They may indeed be a danger to you." Malik began looking around the forest both for the individuals the unicorn mentioned and for defensive options. If it came down to it he could near-instantly build a dome of rock around both himself and the unicorn, but he had the feeling that the majestic creature would appreciate neither the confinement of the tactic nor the resulting damage to the forest. Malik prepared himself to, if necessary, break the rules of his magic and suffer the consequences.

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Jack still watched the crew as they moved along. He sensed the tension radiating off some of them, and narrowed his eyes to it. Did they sense him following? Or did they imply feel that all-too familiar feeling of uneasiness when treading in a foreign place? Jack kept low and quiet, but got a little closer. Had he known about their skills - especially the telepath - he would not have made this move. Be it a mistake or a great advantage, he decided the change would bring about one reaction or another. After all, he did need to learn their reactions speeds and martial abilities before he went in for the kill.

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Listening, waiting, wondering just what would come, Annabelle could only come to the conclusion her nerves were getting the better of her. While it appeared safe for now, Annabelle would not yet remove the Mantel of Awakening from where she had placed it. She needed all the protection she could get while in this damned forest, so she would not relinquish it at this moment.

"All right, lets go then."

With the coast now clear, Annabelle wondered just what was waiting for them in this wilderness, likely something even more dangerous than what she had normally encountered. What she didn't know was that the group was not only pursued by the strange beast man, but by another predator as well. Since they were on the hunt for a Blue Unicorn, it was only a matter of time before they would cross paths with those that already wished to hunt them. Their only warning was a hoof pawing on the ground, and that was when the Red Bull charged them from the west.

These bulls were not like the normal ones might see, they were far deadlier. Several feel larger than a normal bull, a Red Bull was a hulking mass of muscles wrapped in scarlet fur and razor sharp horns at its head. Each breath it took did not send out mist, but flames that caught fire to the ground for just a moment, and it was heading straight for Annabelle. With only seconds to spare, Annabelle was able to place her second Mantel into memories of Joy, allowing her the boost of speed she needed to dodge in the nick of time.

"I knew there was going to be a fight at some point." Drawing Chaos Soul, she was surprised to see it activate its power of being a dull hunk of metal. "Great."

(Meanwhile, back with the unicorn.)

"I sense something worse in the forest...oh my, a Red Bull is nearby!" She was beginning to feel scared, knowing that only a Red Bull was ferocious enough to actively hunt her kind. Their magic was strong, enough to combat her own, and that was what made them so dangerous. "Good guardian, whatever you have in store please do not allow that Red Bull to find me. I shudder at the thought of what it would do to me should it find me."

Red Bulls were known for devouring Blue Unicorns, their strength only further increased by drinking the blood of their mystical prey. Only by constantly running from them have the Blue Unicorns been able to keep those brutes from getting too strong. She hated thinking what would become of her sisters if even one of them became too strong. 

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Benjamin heard the sound of hoof beats just seconds before the Red Bull charged them. Instinct took over rational thought, and he rolled out of the way just in time to avoid being trampled by the furious beast. One look at the hulking animal left no doubt in his mind that he wouldn't be able to overcome the creature at his base level of strength. Deciding quickly, he withdrew a vial of black liquid from a pouch on his belt and popped the top off. He downed the liquid in one go, and placed the vial back in the pouch.

The effect was nearly instantaneous, as his veins turned black underneath his skin. The sound of bone and muscle shifting and changing could be heard by those around him, a grotesque, sickening melody. His teeth grew longer and sharper, and his fingernails followed suit, turning into razor sharp claws. As the transformation finished, he bellowed out a roar of fury, and prepared to face down the Bull.

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