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Lacernella Rubra

Ripe for the picking [Quest.]

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After a humiliating defeat in Valinde, Shanna determines that it is best to avoid the Banshee laden city for some time – instead turning her sights upon rumors of a mysterious plant that prospers within the deep center of Vintel. As with any of these forgotten treasures, however, the risk is equal the reward. Shanna is familiar with the risks, and yet that does not stop her from beginning the trek forward into the jungle depths that may or may not harbor her success or her death.

 

Shanna considers her options as she drops onto a pile of vines, leaving the rope ladder of her airship down. After considerable time, she tugs on it twice – allowing it to roll back up into the depths of the ship. Leaving it to hover, Shanna produces a small journal, as notes are of equal importance to success. Moving through the foilage, she finds herself considering what to do with the berries that give life. Surely a few would be sent to Raphael – in the hopes that the King would find himself never bereft of those he loved again. As the mage pauses, her hands quickly tie her hair into a thick plait so that it may not tangle amongst the brush and winding vines. There were whispers that the forest folk did not invite visitors, and Shanna had no desire to incur their wrath, or give them weapon against her.

 

Pen in hand, she continued, pausing every so often to peer at plants and the like, quickly jotting notes and sketching their likeness in the journal. Those poisonous are easily found, for their permeate a foul scent from their dark red pistils. The flower itself is a beautiful, rich gold, stark in contrast to the poisonous sticky goo that drips form their petals. Carefully, Shanna pulls from her pack a jar, and with calculated movements, removes a flower from it's stem and places it within. Sealing the container, it is put back within the pack, which rattles slightly. Hoisting it upon her back, Shanna continues forward with purpose. 

WureUJM.jpg"Sure is quiet here." A gentle murmur to no one but herself. After a moment, she pauses once more to bow her head and take in the lack of sound that comes from this place. Not even animals dare venture here. There is nary even a birds cry as she listens. Clasping her hands together, Shanna bows her head to pray briefly. 

"O' God of Blood, 

To you I pray for safety in this place. 

O' God of mine, 

Should I fall - grant me serenity." 

Shanna lets her hands fall to her sides as a sigh escapes her lips. "And onward we go." 

 

Edited by Lacernella Rubra

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Time is a curious thing – it wants for nothing and waits for no one. Shanna wishes she could be like time, unyielding and stretching forth a long hand to which all creatures are held accountable. Or….are they? Shanna does not desire power, so much as she desires the ability to change things that have been and even those that have yet to come to pass. Time has ravaged this place, the forest reclaiming what was once its own to begin with. The foilage is so thick that she contemplates on why she had not brought a small knife with which to cut the vines. Perhaps it is for the best, as there is no saying what will turn the guardians upon her. Perhaps harming the local flora would do just that.

After such a devastating loss in Valinde, Shanna was determined to make up for it here. She would gather the rumored berries and return with them – it was the only way to redeem herself. Mustering the last of her courage, she draws in a deep breath and presses forward as feet carefully step, toe first, into the thick vines as she tiptoes around them. So far, there is little cause for alarm – but the day is yet young and Shanna knows that it is only a matter of time before she is discovered, and the guardians attempt to lay waste.

“Perhaps a tracking spell…no, that won’t do. I have nothing to reference.” Shanna murmurs. “And everything is so overgrown it’s hard to map. What to do…” Surely Vintel FhYvVSO.jpgwas nowhere near as large as Valinde, so perhaps simply heading in a straight line would get her to where she required to be.

“Anything beats standing here.” Another hushed murmur as Shanna lifts her feet to begin her trek inward. The foilage seems to thicken as she progressed, and the mage found herself struggling to move forward. Pushing aside a particularly large vine caused her to huff as she shimmied through the opening made, only to come face to face with a rather large tree root. Sighing, Shanna moves to grasp ahold of the bark and pulls herself up over it, neverminding the scrapes that adorn her hands. Once atop, she uses the vantage point to peer at the ever green scenery.

“Ah, it goes so far!” She gasps, lower lip wobbling in a pout. “Well! I didn’t come here for nothing!”

 

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 Shanna drops from her vantage point after taking in her fill of the view. With a determined look, she creates a swath through the thickening foliage. Shanna makes soft noises to herself, as each obstacle is overstepped and overcome. She continues for several moments, nearly a half an hour like this, before peeking above another large root with a frown. It seemed as though she hadn’t moved at all! Jostling her pack ever so slightly, her nose scrunches in disbelief.

“This is nonsense. There’s no way I am not closer to it!” She murmurs to the air. “Ah, I know! I’ll just…cast a fire spell! That’ll clear my path in no time.” Giving a victorious grin, Shanna marries her hands to one another, index fingers pointing outward as magic gathers at her fingertips. IT fizzles, bubbles, and looks as though a large fireball is about to escape and wreak havoc on the unsuspecting terrain. It bubbles, and then pops – disappearing in the next breath as Shanna suddenly vanishes from where she had been standing.

Surprise etches its way across her visage as she suddenly finds herself ten feet in the air on a large branch occupied by a snake nearly as large as she.

Fj61j56.jpg“Eep…” She whispers quietly, fear of awakening the large reptile deep within her bones. Shimmying backwards on the branch, eyes frantic for an escape. Unfortunately, it seems that this is the lowest branch of the tree – and it is a ten foot drop into the dense, moist foliage below. The sunlight filters just slightly between the trees, lighting the otherwise dark ground for the briefest of moments before it fades. Just as the reptile begins to stir, Shanna loses her grip and slips. Grasping desperately at the branch, she finds no purchase as she tumbles to the ground. Hitting jars her body and pack, leaving her breathless as she stares upwards in horror as the giant snake uncoils from its resting position, maw widening in a yawn before it turns its gaze upon her. Fortunately, it seems the snake is not seeking a meal at present, and Shanna lets out a relieved breath she had not realized she had held.

Groaning as she moves to stand once more, she grumbles as vines and leaves were brushed from her person.

“Stupid magic. I shoulda known.” She grumbles into the void. “Guess I’ll just hoof it.” And that’s exactly what she begins doing once more.

It is after some time that rustling in the brush gives her pause, entire body stopping to listen as she tries to gauge what direction the noise came from. Perhaps it was nothing, just a denizen of the jungle on its way home…or perhaps it was one of the dangerous folk she had heard rumors of…twisted and vile visions of what might have been nymphs at one time. She shudders as she recalls the rumors and tries desperately to quell her beating heart and too fast breathing.

 

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It is with bated breath that Shanna waits, impatient and still as the rustling continues. Relief becomes tangible across her visage when only a small lizard approaches her. It is green and speckled, easily blending into its surroundings - so much so that Shanna nearly steps on it. The little thing hisses and spits a strange, clear liquid towards her. Dancing out of the way, Shanna surmises as a leaf upon the ground melts, that it is best to avoid even the smallest of creatures in this place. 

Prancing away from the death lizard, she finds herself in even thicker vines. "This stuff is gross." She concludes as another push gets her through them. However, her delight is found when she finds that not only is she close to the bush that holds the berries, but that all she has to do is shimmy across a very precarious looking bridge. The stone has long been overtaken by nature, but it is cracked and fallen in some places. Steeling herself, Shanna carefully creeps over towards it, mindful of footing and weight placement so as not to attract much attention to herself. Once she begins on the bridge, however, she will be out in the open and easily picked off should something deign her enough of a threat, or as food. 

Wrinkling her nose ever so slightly, Shanna contemplates her vast magical knowledge and determines that perhaps it is best for her to refrain from using magic just yet. There was no point in expending all of her power when she still had yet to escape this blasted jungle. Drawing in a deep breath, she places a single foot on a bit of rock-entwined vines and releases it when she finds it stable enough to bear weight. Shifting, she reaches out to steady her balance as her other foot joins - and it is like this that she crosses. From time to time a rock would slip from beneath her foot, tumbling into the vast hole below. Shanna dares to peek over the side just once, audibly swallowing at the strange emptiness below that seemed to stretch forever. 

Once she had managed to cross, Shanna gives a victorious grin that is short lived. Behind her, the bridge makes a strange grinding noise, before the rock between the vines begins to shift and pull apart from that which holds it together. Watching in horror as her only means of escape disappears, the mage desperately tries to manage a false bravado. 

"Well...it could be worse, right?" She questions, before jostling her pack from her shoulders. The flower she had previously placed in a glass jar was now shattered and strewn about her things. She hisses softly as a shard of glass pierces a fingertip as she finds a small glass free pouch to put the berries into. Carefully she picks as many as the bush holds, little more than a handful, and places them within the bag. Sealing it tightly, Shanna places it back within the pack and offers a gentle soft noise as she bows her head once more in silent prayer. 

Knees dig into the stone floors of the temple, pressing uncomfortably against bone as her head remains down in prayer. Though she knows not of what plagues the God of Blood, she is determined yet to still provide him with whatever support she can muster. Shanna's devotion ran deep, the well inexhaustible. Rafael had been the first of a handful that had truly treated her with kindness, despite his station far above her own. It is because of this that Shanna so desperately tries to give tithe at every opportunity. Each quest is sought with him and his kin in mind - as to what might benefit them, and what might not. Today she only prays for forgiveness for her failure at Valinde, instead hoping to find a fruitful mission elsewhere. Shanna does not mind those around her, glad to see that many have come for their various reasons, and as she stands to leave, she offers a few coins to the offering bin. 

Releasing herself from the prayer, Shanna's ever changing visage peers across the ravine in contemplation. 

"This could be worse." The mage reminds herself, only to immediately regret those words as one of the twisted abominations of bark-skin and leafy foliage shifts its cursed gaze upon her. 

 

 

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Perhaps it didn’t see me. Maybe if I don’t move it won’t see me.

Shanna hopes in desperation, at least. Her form becomes a statue as the mage even goes so far as to hold her breath in  effort to become one with the scenery that surrounds her. Unfortunately, she sticks out like a sore thumb and the creature opens its gaping maw and lets out a terrifying noise that is a combination of dying shrills and nails on chalkboard. Shanna trembles beneath it as hands slap to her all too sensitive ears in effort to drive out the piercing sound. The creature lurches forward, crossing the distance between them in but two small steps it seems and it is on the precipice of the hole, stretching its unnaturally long limbs towards the mage frozen in fear.

Crimson gaze wide and mouth agape, Shanna can do little but stare as those impossible arms reach for her before a shrill cry erupts from her throat as leaves trickle down upon her head.

“No!” She cries, wrenching out of the way just as tendril and vine come down where she had once stood. Frantic eyes search for an escape, before Shanna realizes that she must try her magic once more. Closing one eye, she draws on the mystical power within, enveloping herself within it as the pack is shifted to her front. From behind, wings burst from her back, ripping the fabric of her cloak as her feet are adorned with talons and thick, leathery skin. Her features become angular as she sprints from the position in which she is standing and leaps.

wY9BBgf.jpgShe hangs for a few seconds in midair, before a flap of the wings sees her soaring across the great divide between herself and freedom. The chasm is deep and wide, however, and it will take her several moments to cross. Those moments are precious as more life seems to stir within the thick foliage. Shanna’s gaze widens as three more of the twisted nymphs arrive, their cries echoing the first. It is enough to cause the mage to falter, tumbling for a brief second in attempt to regain her balance in the air. It is futile, however, as a tendril lashes out, grasping ahold of one wing from behind. Shanna lets out a startled cry as she finds herself tumbling further before staring into the dark pit of the abyss as she plummets downward. 

I'm not gonna make it....

The vine releases it’s hold, as if sure that the void would take care of the intruder. A long, piercing scream is all that is heard as darkness clouds Shanna’s vision.

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“What is it you desire?”

“Desire?” The word rings through her consciousness, like a well shaken bell.

“That’s what I said, what do you desire?”

“I…I don’t know. To survive?”

“Liar. I know your heart. You know the truth of the matter, why do you spit false words?”

“I’m not lying!”

“You failed in Valinde, and now you’ll fail here as well.”

“I am not going to fail! I promised to bring the berries back!”

“Yet here we are, hurtling through nothingness. Speak the truth and maybe I’ll help you.”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Your desires, foolish woman!”

“But I don’t have any! I just want to make it home!”

“Tsk, you and I both know that’s untrue. Why won’t you admit that you crave power?”

Wys4dFi.jpg“Because I don’t want it!”

“DO NOT LIE TO ME! I have seen your heart, and know it’s greatest wish! It may not be power for the sake of power, but it is still strength you desire.” The voice hisses.

“I…” Shanna pauses briefly, eyes opening to the darkness as the small hole of light that is rapidly becoming smaller as she descends.

“I want power…the power to protect, to love and be loved in return. The power for compassion, forgiveness.” She offers quietly after a moment.

“See, was that so hard?”

“Shutup.”

“How about we get out of this hellhole, hm?”

Magic swept across her form, it’s flicking tendrils like fire as it caressed her skin and embraced her form like a lost lover. For once in her life, Shanna felt a sense of completion-- of utter and true rightness. She nearly weeps in joy, but is more concerned at present with her rapidly falling state. Wings flutter until she manages to glide to the side of the great ravine, blindly, however, as there is no light anymore. She grasps at anything, rock or vine. Finding small purchase, Shanna holds for dear life in effort to stop.

It takes several moments before she manages, foot tangling into a particularly thick web. It is ignored for now, the mage just grateful her fall has come to a stop. Taking a moment to catch her breath, Shanna contemplates her next move. She is in no way strong enough to climb her way back ot the top, and she doubts her magic will last long enough to fly out. Perhaps in the deep depths there might be a cave that would lead to the top?

Of course that would find Shanna hopelessly lost with little belief in finding her airship. Either way, she knows she must begin moving in one direction lest she become food for some other creature in the darkness. She moves to pull herself up, only to find her foot stuck and unable to move.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Shanna groans as she desperately wiggles her shoe in an attempt to be free of it in hopes that it will free her in return.

 

Spoiler

Poison round 1. Veins at the sight of poisoning have begun turning dark.

 

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Still struggling with freeing her shoe, Shanna sighs heavily.

“Are you serious?” The voice echoes within her mind.

“I said shutup.” A grumble, as fingertips dip down to slip into the neck of the shoe, carefully prying it from her leg and foot. Once it is free, she finds her foot now bare and dangling. Quickly drawing it up, Shanna contemplates the wisdom in that action as many of the plants and animals are known to be poisonous and venomous. It is too late now, as her boot has descended into the darkness.

Wings flutter against her back, before Shanna pushes away from the wall, flapping them to drive her upward as she is ensconced in magic and it drives wind beneath her wings so that her rapid ascent causes her to plummet into the sky like a cartoon. Pausing above the tree tops,  Shanna twists this way and that, though finds herself at a loss. She cannot pinpoint the location of her airship, surely it cannot be so far away! Furthermore, the blinding light above the canopy makes her wish desperately for the dark and moist areas of the jungle.

Seeking refuge in shadow, Shanna settles back on the ground just in time for wings to burst into  feathers and cascade onto the ground as the magic enveloping her also fades.

“See, was that so hard?”

“Guh, I said shoosh.” She admonishes, before peering around cautiously. It seems for now the creatures that sought her demise had gone on to better things. Probably torturing another poor soul somewhere, but it was likely that they were still close, and Shanna would have to be careful. Facing the ravine, she hesitates before groaning.

“I’m on the wrong side.”

Spoiler

Poisoning round 2. Veins of the forearm are darkening.

 

 

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Sweat tickled her brow as Shanna, one shoe less, began her trek through the thick foliage once more. Dancing along vines and tendrils alike, she was hyper vigilant in an effort not to run into any of the natives. Fingers splayed against the bark of a tree as the mage pauses to catch her breath. Heaving one, and then two great breaths into ragged lungs.

Why was she sweating so much? The heat of the jungle was great, perhaps that was it. Maybe she had gotten too used to the cooler temperatures of the mountains where the Red Tower sat. Her bare foot set upon a larger vine as Shanna frowns a bit. Still, she was in decent enough shape, she should not be having this much trouble with simple terrain. Then again, she had used quite a bit of magic getting out of the pit she had been thrown into.

She was nearly halfway around that ravine now – and it amazed her how much larger it was now that she was having to go around it, as opposed to over it.

“You’re getting weaker.” The voice taunts.

“I am not.” Shanna protests, even as she shoves a tendril of hair back behind an ear. “Besides, I don’t need your help.”

“That’s not what you said earlier.” There was a rumbling chuckle before the voice disappeared and Shanna felt the gentle pull it had on her vanish entirely. Sighing with relief, she waves her arm, the strange feeling of numbness has her disconcerted. Wiggling fingers one by one, she hisses when she catches sight of the black veins that are beginning to line her arm up to the bicep.

“Uhm, that can’t be good. Ok, I really got to get back to the airship.” Surely there was an antidote there. Shanna cuts her rest short and quickens her pace around the ravine.

It is still several moments until she reaches the far side. Now she can only hope she chooses the right direction…

“Wait.” Shanna turns to peer at what was left of the path she had taken to the bush. If she went directly back from that direction, then realistically she should be able to find her way back to the airship. So, she moves to line herself up with it.

 

Spoiler

Poison Round 3 -- Poison up to shoulder, quickening with quicker pace. 

 

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Shanna stumbles, nearly losing her footing as she slips over a larger root, hopping on her bare foot  a  moment as she contemplates what she has touched that may have poisoned her.

The poison seemed to originate from her fingers, so it is likely that the small poke she endured after the glass had shattered inside of her pack was the cause of her discomfort. At the moment, it was spreading at an alarming rate due to her increased heart rate, and Shanna finds herself uneasy. She has no antidotes, for once, no potions lining her belts. She had come with only the barest of essentials, even going so far as to leave her familiar behind. Shanna grasps at the arm, it’s throbbing pain causing her to gasp as tears threatened to leak from her eyes. That was surely not a good sign, the tender flesh seeking to wilt and succumb to the poison already. She was not going to make it back to the airship at this point.

She opens the pack and carefully digs for the bag that housed the berries, drawing them out as fingertips carefully count the number. She has ten of the berries, nine if she chooses to eat one now in effort to save her life. Her brow furrows sweat trickling down as she draws in a deep breath and pops the berry in her mouth. It is bitter and strange, heavy on the tongue as it feels as though it’s eating away at the very muscle before it is gone. Surprise etches across her visage for the briefest of moments before the reprieve of the poison causes her to sigh. It is with a wide gaze she watches the dark veins become whole and normal once more, blending into her flesh as they were always meant to.

At least now she knew that they worked. Carefully rehousing the berries, Shanna continues on her way.

 

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Fingers still numb, Shanna moves to stand once more in effort to regain her footing and hopefully escape this jungle with less harm than has already been incurred. Instead she finds herself suddenly face to face with one of the large, sylvan like creatures. She pauses, hoping that they might be like a chasing predator and that her lack of movement causes her to blend into the very surroundings. Her tunic is brown and dark, damp with sweat and lord knows what else, and she stills her breathing to only the barest she can for survival.

“Please, oh lord, please let it not see me.” Shanna chants inside of her head.

“Just hit it with a fireball.”

“I can’t, last time that backfired, remember?”

“Too scared to even try. Tsk.”

“Shutup and maybe it’ll just go away.” The twisted creature stands above her now, a gnarled mass of roots and vines, two golden eyes peering from within one of the masses, as the chest glows ever so slightly with a lifeforce of some sort. The brambles of it’s feet shuffled forward and Shanna barely contains a squeak.

“For crying out loud.” The voice murmurs before Shanna finds her hands suddenly raising and magic gathering at her fingertips.

“No, wait! It hasn’t hurt us, there’s no reason to hurt it!” The wicked mass of greenery had once been a beautiful creature of the forest, now twisted and angry, as nature tended to be.

“Be quiet, since you can’t be useful!” A grand fireball gathers at her fingers as the sylvan realizes her presence, roaring as it brings down a thick arm in  effort to swat away the pest that dared enter its domain. The fireball loosens from her fingertips and barrels through the creatures chest with such force, it leaves a devastating hole in its wake.

The creature screams once, long and loud, as it stumbles backwards in effort to regain itself. Shanna watches with mild horror as vines try to begin stitching it back up.

“Well now you’ve done it! All you did was make it mad!” Shanna cries as she tries to flee, hoping it will take the creature at least a moment to catch up with them, perhaps by then she will have come up with a plan.

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“This is exactly why I told you not to shoot a fireball at anything!” Shanna cried as her feet pounded into the earth. She slipped on a large root, tumbling across the ground in a cartwheel fashion before she landed in a crumpled heap. She groaned softly as she looked quite the mess, the thundering footsteps of the sylvan drawing closer. Shanna squeaked and scuttled beneath what looked to be a large, overturned tree.

Crawling beneath it into the loam and bugs, Shanna could only hope that she would blend into the darkness as she shrugged off the pack and set it to the side of her. Able to hold her breath for a moment, she let out a relieved sort of noise when the creature seemed to pass right over her hiding position. Shanna watched for a moment, waiting as she didn’t want to draw attention to herself just yet.  

She waited in that position nearly a half an hour – watching as darkness encroached on the jungle. When she finally dared crawl out of the hole, it was clear the sun was setting. She wiggled a bit, putting the pack on her back as she stretched languidly. Groaning with each pop and crackle, Shanna moved to begin her trek again. First she would have to find her bearings once more, hissing at the thought, Shanna begins the trek once more. She finds herself hopelessly misguided as darkness falls, however, and sits heavily on a log with a pout.

“Maybe I can try a searching spell…” She muses for a long moment.

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From the darkness among the trees there silently appeared two yellow eyes, staring motionlessly at Shanna on the log .  a hissing monotone  voice than said. "are you an evil" as the eyes remained motionless

 

https://www.valucre.com/topic/43380-jaw-finder-character-sheet

 

Edited by squid peanut
didn't realize where shanna was

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Shanna pauses at the whisper from the jungle,  unable to determine where it comes from before noticing the two luminous eyes. 

A squeak leaves her mouth in a rather comedic manner. 

"I'm not evil. You're evil." The mage offers in an infantile display. Hugging herself briefly,  Shanna shimmies backwards over the log in what she hopes is a stealthy demeanor. It's not stealthy at all,  but she can pretend. "Go away." A mumble after a moment,  hoping the creature would find other prey more interesting.  

"You should probably run." 

"Hush, you."

 

Edited by Lacernella Rubra
Typos

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(Jaw Finder often found it hard to understand why soft ones acted the ways they did, they thrived and yet they lacked the composure or bodies most creatures needed to survive.  the one in front of them especially, it was just there, making noises, almost asking to be eaten, but could it be eaten.  Jaw Finder knew that the only soft bodies that soft bodies were fine with killing were 'evils' which 'goods' would identify and Jaw finder could then eat.  This soft one smelled of magic and venom, like an 'evil' but otherwise made no sense, it was even less suited for the jungle than ones Jaw Finder had helped and wandered exceedingly deep, while walking trait into dangerous territories seemingly oblivious.  and now it says that it is not an evil and that Jaw Finder is an evil, this soft one brought confusion, Jaw Finder needed to know if it could be eaten or if it could lead to new hunts and prey.)

the eyes stayed focused on Shanna as she stayed behind the log, after she said hush, it spoke again "if you is not an evil than what is you?  Traveling alone through the center of the jungle with a toxic smell and a magic smell, you approached strong predators and run while speaking language to nothing"  the eyes slowly and silently moved forward towards Shanna, if she can still see them she can see the creature's form emerging into the twilight, it was a massive black lizard with bits of green that sometimes caught the light.  it walked somewhat low to the ground on four clawed limbs.  as it walked, it's torso hardly moved, it's legs just moved along the brush, not even breaking the twigs or leaves that came underfoot.  "you is wounded and alone, by the jungle, there is every reason to eat you, by the soft body beliefs it is unclear.  why is this thing here now, make words that bring understanding." a sharp looking tongue flicks out of the lizard's mouth .

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“Or don’t run.” The voice within her mind snorts, and Shanna narrows her gaze at the creature that appears before her.

“Uhm, uhm!” She offers briefly, trying to consider how to word herself so the creature might understand. Though Shanna finds herself just as curious of Jaw Finder as it seems to be of her. She had never seen such a being, and she wanted to ask so many questions.

“What are you?” She intones after a moment, before grimacing.

“I’m a mage, but I was poisoned by some plant flower thing, that’s why I smell like venom, or whatever.” She waves a hand in front of her face and offers a hesitant smile. “As for the rest of it, I don’t really want to hurt anything in the forest cause it’s just being …foresty and following its instincts, right? So why hurt them when I can run away. Oh I fixed my poisoning with a berry I found. That’s why I’m here, afterall.” She blurts all of this in rapid succession.

“Please don’t eat me, I don’t think I’d taste very good.” Shanna attaches lastly.

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