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Venus Sprite

Warm Hearts (relaxing RP IC)

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(OOC Thread)

The sun was setting on an autumn Genesaris, casting long shadows from the trees and sinking the valleys and gulleys between the mountains in deep darkness. Torie’s coat and substantial layer of insulating blubber kept her warm, though her nose felt the cold keenly. It hadn’t started snowing yet. The sky was clear and pink above the hilltops. But it was cold enough to freeze the edges of the nearby creek, mixing ice and autumn leaves together in a multicoloured mosaic. With the setting of the sun it would only get colder, she knew, and what’s more, she could sense other travelers nearby.

Torie was a druid who took the form of a tiger. She was quite likely to be the largest and fattest tiger in the world, easily standing over five feet tall and with a thick, ruffled neck, and a belly that almost dragged on the ground. Her coat was thick and hid most of her unsightly rolls of fat, but it couldn’t hide her bulk. In fact, it only increased her apparent size to something enormous, though perhaps less threatening than a regular tiger.

Around her neck hung a chain of pouches filled with all manner of various herbs she had picked up in her latest foray into the wilderness, though she was looking forward to returning to nearby Vdara, and all the comforts (and foods) modern city living provided.

But still, it would be easy for a traveler to mistake her for a wild beast. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d have to fight off someone keen on claiming her pelt. Talking was always an option, and she’d modified her natural tiger throat to enable her to speak, but it was still a deep grumble that could easily be mistaken for growls if someone wasn’t listening properly.

So she’d have to make herself look less like an animal, and the only way she could think to do that out here was to build a campfire. She gathered some fuel together in her mouth and carried it to a clearing, where she sat on her haunches and used her dinnerplate-sized paws to rub one stick into the other.

It was slow-going though, and not something she practiced very often. By the time the sun had set and only the light of the moon was left, she found herself hunched over her attempted fire with nothing but a pile of dry sticks and splinters in her paws to show for it.

“Morku,” she said, cursing in her native tongue, but then her ears twisted between their fatty ruffles at the sound of movement nearby. She hadn’t been listening to the earth for a while. Had the other travelers found her?

“Welcome,” she said slowly, grinning into the trees in the direction of the noise – and feeling equal parts stupid and scared. “Come, please sit with me. I don’t suppose you’re skilled at lighting a fire, are you?”

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Laughter reverberates off brightly colored banners, that are stretched across dull stone walls, and twists through murmuring crowds to smack into the senses with all the subtlety of a bull. The harsh trill does nothing to stop the swirling of color as elegant dresses spiral outward from around the dancers. And yet even at the height of the joviality, there he is… alone… unwanted.

The music, the joy, the bright colors, they all stand in stark contrast to him and within the depths of his mind there is only one way to obtain reparations for this slight against his sensibilities – blood. Their blood, their kin’s blood, their friend’s blood. All of their blood.

He blinks, drifting from one moment to the next. The warmth of countless bodies is replaced with the fall breeze, and the smokey artificial lights with pale silver moonlight. There is a brief pause in his steps, for evidently he had been walking, and he finds himself wondering where he’d been wandering both mentally and physically.

Within the depths of his mind hundreds of voices unify together into a soft whisper that becomes his most surface level thoughts, was it a dream or a memory? Is this a dream…. Or reality? Was that reality? Whatever serious consideration might have been brought to bear against the inquiry is dismissed with both a mental and physical shrug. The truth is, he’s long given up on trying to distinguish between the two. “It’s not like there is a meaningful difference anyway.” The words roll from his lip with an empty apathy that draws the moisture from the air and condenses it into a faint cloud.

The unified chorus of thoughts that permeate his being unravel from one another and cascade around him. This unseen mass slithers and writhes kicking dead and dried leaves into the air, while crushing sticks, and bending grass. Within this physical manifestation of his inner maelstrom he can taste the brown of the tree some feet to his right, feel the decay around him, and smell the silver of the moonlight that showers him.  

Within this moment he harbors the most minute amount of appreciation for the natural world, however the ever-pervasive sense of not belonging almost immediately overwhelms it. Whatever underlying beauty might exist is miniscule compared to both the vast dullness and depthless cruelty of creation. It is a lesson he regularly relearns as well as teaches.

Confident that his mind isn’t about to drift again, he once more starts up his trek. This time, with purpose… or at least as much purpose as aimlessly wandering can have. His footfalls carry him through thickets that part around him, and past trees that bend away, sometimes the ground shudders in objection, repulsed by the revolting idea of having to touch him. It’s only after he steps into a clearing that he once more gives pause.

Golden brown locks of hair dance in the gentle breeze, fluttering around indigo specked golden irides that melt and swirl around the all-consuming abyss of his pupils. The flawless stoic features, possibly crafted of marble or porcelain, appear to transition from stone to liquid, preventing creases from forming even as his visage morphs. Pale lips part, as he questioningly mouths the word kitten, his left hand rising up to brace against his chin as his head cants to the side. “No, not kitten.” He corrects himself a second later.

His left index taps along his cheek bone as he searches through a databank of words, desperately trying to find the one that best fits the situation. “Panther, maybe?”

His hand drops and clasps with the other in the small of his back as he begins walking toward Torie, “Panthera Tigris…. Tiger?” The word tastes correct, and yet he feels dissatisfied with the designation…. If only because tigers don’t talk. “Cat.” The word is general enough to be at least temporarily suitable for the situation, because short of tigger he is at a loss and this particular cat doesn’t appear to bounce.

His brows furrow and his nose scrunches as the realization that he is being rude strikes him. Although, in most circumstances, he never talks to his prey, only at them, but cat is not a desirable food item. And so, with only another second’s delay, he plays back the events in his mind, this time ignoring himself in favor of the other.

“Thank you, I think I will.” The answer is dry and monotone. But it isn’t insincere, and he does sit, cross legged on the opposite side of the unlit heap of wood and kindling. “And no, I’m afraid not. Not skilled at much, truthfully.” There is a moment of pause as he considers which part of his statement is the lie. “I am Farkis, by the by.” The titan makes no attempt to offer a hand, because cats probably don’t shake hands... probably.

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It has been days now since the old man left the forge. Forced to cease his work and go on a break. 'Break' something that happens to gear not his body. Even Ishanis and the young prince agreed. A sigh came from the man's lips. Before his next thought there came a 'yip' and his little travel companion was back to nibbling at his pant leg. 

The Yarakul, a large, intelligent race of wolves, had bred finally. The runt of the litter was given to the forge master before he was given temporary resignation from work. 'Go find yourself big guy. Keep the little guy as company, might do you good.' the words echoed in his mind, "Berislav... He's right but I hate to admit it." 

The forge master had decided to take up some type of hobby, sketching. He'd heard it was good for inspiration and creativity. Of course this was a long time ago, back before he was a forge master, back before he was a commander. Nearly three days ago he bought the supplies, took some small game rations for the pup, and set off into the wilderness to get lost.

The whole experience was new to him. Not being clad in his heavy armour, his lungs felt lighter. The burden of the armour was non existent, same could be said about his large blade. He carried light, going with a scale mail he'd forged a while back when the clan was stationed in Felder Grip some decades ago. His body hadn't changed much since then but the armour was a touch looser than expected. As for weapons, he carried a bastard sword and a back up mace. His knapsack carried the rest of his supplies. 

It was strange being in the moment, a nice strange as opposed to the constant military/mercenary/forge work he'd come to know as 'normal'. His brother was right to force him out of the shop like he did. The quiet sounds of the forest, the occasional hunt for wild game, the company of the pup and leading it to early hunting, which didn't end well. 'bonding' was the word Berislav used. Imprinting was the correct term however. 

It was the sounds of conversation some long ways out that caught his attention however. The forge master turned his boots the opposite direction he was facing and decided to speak with another person for the first time in three days. He blew a light whistle to get the pups attention. The little foot long fur ball looked up and followed, tail wiggling and all. 

A few minutes would pass before he was in the presence of the 'people'. A large, both on size and mass, tiger by the looks of it and..well..a humanoid. Standing around some fire wood no less. Attempting to make a fire. "Hail..I take it you aren't having much luck?" He spoke up. The man was tall, heavy musculature from years of war and forge. His skin was light tan and rugged. His beard was braided and trimmed down, as for his hair, very light aside from a traditional strip down the middle. Nordic looking at first glance. 

His companion made a yip at the sight of the new comers. An excitable scamp. The little grey ball of fur, energy, and poop was happy to see me people, still naive to training. 

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Humans are…excitable. Loud. Always moving, speaking, doing things. He’s fascinated by them, but also utterly exhausted. And it’s only been around two weeks since he left home.

Dew had thought he was prepared to do this adventuring thing. He'd thought his father’s personality and all the stories he’s shared with him since he was but a wee sapling had prepared him to confront and explore the world beyond his clearing and its many wonders.

He’d been right…but also very, very wrong.

Dew has a lot of theoretical knowledge. He knows how cities work, how money works (mostly) and he also knows how people interact and bond. In theory.

Reality is a completely different kind of nut, though. As stated before, people are loud and always moving. For a half-dryad that has lived most of his younger years as a tree, the rhythm humans are accustomed to is bemusing; it rattles him and tires him out. How can they be in constant movement, living with only a handful of hours spent in quiet rest during the nights?

Two weeks of trying and failing at keeping a relatively human-like schedule as he explores the city closest to his forest, and Dew is ready to escape to nature once again. Take a breather. Actually relax, for a change.

Nobody takes notice of him as he wanders away and into the forest. It takes a while before he finds a good spot, but once he does, he stretches out the kinks on his back (human forms could be such a hassle!) and throws down roots. His body seamlessly shifts into a long but young-looking laurel tree, and when he is done, he gives his leaves a good rustle before falling quiet.

He spends a couple of hours like that, in a state of peaceful existence, until movement in the clearing he’d chosen brings his mind back to the present.

As a tree, Dew doesn’t have eyes to blink, but his trunk creaks a bit in curiosity as he observes the big cat—is it a cat? Dew isn’t sure—picking up fallen branches and then try to, presumably, lit up a fire. That’s…not normal cat behavior. Or is it? Dew didn’t have big cats in his forest, or if there were any, his father scared them away from his and his mother’s clearing.

Then the cat speaks, and oh. Oh. She’s like him. She is people but not. His leaves rustle again when he's hit with the sudden need to shift back to human form and speak to her, but the appearance of another figure entering the clearing stops him. There’s something…there’s something weird about this new person, and all his instincts scream at Dew to stay where he is. But the man is polite once he sits down, gives his name, starts a conversation.

Dew observes them for a while, still uncertain. Then another person makes an appearance, this time from behind him, and he startles so badly that his roots shift. He really hopes that nobody noticed that, and they might not—an excitable ball of gray fur yips and dashes forward towards the other two, an older man walking calmly behind it.

This is…a lot more excitement than he was looking for when he decided to get out of the city. But Dew can’t deny his curiosity. He will observe the group some more and then, if he feels safe enough, he will change back and join their conversation.

(That is, assuming they don’t take offense at his sudden appearance, of course.)

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3 hours ago, Praetorian said:

“I am Farkis, by the by.”

“Pleased to meet you, Farkis! Excuse my bluntness, but, what are you?”

Torie looked on with surprise as the burly bearded man entered the clearing, only a short time after the man with a strangely mercurial face. The latter looked hard and dangerous, but was softened by the presence of a small wolf pup at his heel. Torie’s heart melted at the sight of it!

 

 

1 hour ago, Fennis Ursai said:

"Hail..I take it you aren't having much luck?"

“No luck at all. Would either of you like to try? I’m getting splinters,” she said, and held out the stick she was using to try to light the fire. “I think the wood’s a little wet, maybe. Or I’d like to think it isn’t because I’ve forgotten how to do it! But my paws could use a break.”

“What are you both doing out these parts anyway? Are you from Vdara city?” Vdara was the city whose lights were visible in the gathering darkness, on the horizon to the east. But it was still a good distance away, probably a day by carriage, two or three on foot.

Just then the pup came closer to sniff her paw, and she held it out so it licked her fingers. "And who are you, little fluff?" she said in a sing-song voice, grinning from ear-to-ear, whiskers bouncing.

Edited by Venus Sprite

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A man and his pack horse walked together underneath the silent, silver and gold boughs of the trees that lined the country road. A carpet of dead leaves crunched underfoot their steps and mingled with the melody of a quietly whistled tune. The song bounced through the forest and announced the presence of its owner long before any one came into sight. Their presence was warm again the crisp evening air.

Ainsworth paused to look over his shoulder at the sun. He frowned. It was later than he thought. His shadow stretched out long ahead of him. Though the northern temperatures were generally mild compared to the seasonal freezes of the southern kingdoms where he lived, he didn’t fancy getting stuck without a fire in the dark. It was time to set up camp. Still whistling the notes of a half-forgotten tune, he turned off the road, pulling the packhorse with him. Voices came from up ahead. They were far enough away that he couldn’t make out any words. The man went quiet and raised a brow. There weren’t usually bandits along this stretch of road- not so close to the city. Perhaps there were more travelers out tonight? He deliberated for a moment, then shrugged to himself.  The chance to share a fire and some company tonight far outweighed the risks.

———

A few minutes after the last traveler joined Torie’s encampment, Ainsworth entered the clearing.

He visibly jumped upon seeing the group for the first time. “Gods above!” He swore quietly and put a hand over his pounding heart. Of all things he expected to meet in the woods, a tiger was not it. His packhorse seemed unaffected and more interested in the leaves of a nearby bush.

The newest traveler was a tall human with lanky, uncoordinated limbs. He had olive skin and a smattering of freckles on top of a large, hooked nose. His hair was dark brown, pulled back into a low, loose ponytail, and mostly hidden under a brown woolen cap. His general appearance was weathered. His boots were muddy and his nose and cheeks were red from the sun. He had a strange jacket that looked to be a size too large for him. It was old and had been patched so many times that its original color was lost. A multitude of pockets covered the exterior; many of them appeared to be full. Along the hems and on the outside of pockets, a mess of strange embroidery spidered across the cloth. Most of it was done in colors that matched the jacket, though some of the messier designs had been done in whatever color thread had been available. 

“I’m sorry, you all surprised me. Hello!” Ainsworth smiled at the group. His voice carried the faint traces of a western Genesaris accent. “My apologies if I interrupted anything. My name is Ainsworth. Would you mind if I shared your, erm...” He looked down at the unlit pile of sticks. “Fire?” He finished lamely.

He looped his horse’s lead around the low hanging branch of a nearby tree and walked over. He didn’t make direct eye contact with anyone in the group, though he offered another smile. He tried not to think too hard about the tiger. As a general rule, it was best not to think too hard about anybody one may meet on the road. “I can help if that’s okay. Here-“ he took off his gloves and grabbed a handful of smaller sticks and bark from the pile and cupped them in his hands. He blew softly on the pile and a thin wisp of smoke trailed upwards. A second later, a small flame licked up from the center of his hands. He was unaffected by the fire as he carefully placed the starter in the middle of the unlit campfire. “That should catch as long as your wood isn’t soaked. I hope.”

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A third man appears, and this one has a horse! Dew can’t help the curling of his roots—just the very tip of them, buried deep enough in the ground that the movement should be invisible, undetectable. He knows, rationally, that he’s safe from being chewed on—laurel is poisonous to horses, after all—but it’s still a little nerve-wracking to have those teeth so close to his branches. And to make things worse, the man uses one of them to loop the beast’s lead!

The horse ignores him, of course, and starts leisurely grazing from a smaller bush that won’t cause it an adverse reaction. That doesn’t stop Dew from metaphorically sweating.

What to do, what to do.

He can’t take it. It’s too much.

Without thinking about it, Dew quickly retracts his roots and then shifts into his human form. The horse makes a high-pitched noise of surprise and distress as the tree he’d been standing by shrinks and turns into a long-limbed, wiry teenager of nineteen with olive skin and green-blond hair. His eyes are almond-shaped and wide, and of a vibrant green. He wears simple clothing: tan pants and a white long-sleeved shirt. No shoes. On his left hand, he holds the horse’s lead.

“Ah.” Dew blinks owlishly at the gathered travelers, and offers them a sheepish grin. “I see you’ve managed to get that fire going. Um. Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Dew.” He waves awkwardly with his free hand. “I…was the tree,” he finishes lamely, cringing as he does. Wow, he's really nailed this interaction-thing, eh?

The horse neighs.

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There came laughter, hearty, from the man. There was now a merchant, by the guess, a dryad of sorts, the tiger who on first guess was a druid or a lycan, and the man he couldn't put a finger on just yet. "Well aren't we a group of unique people. Kreigstad, nice to meet you all. This little pup with me is my little guard 'kul. Wasn't expecting to see any other people out here." Kreigstad found a tree nearby, looking over to the Dryad for a moment. "This isn't one of your kin is it. I'm about to lean on it and don't wanna piss off your kind." 

His eyes looked around the group, waiting for the response before he leaned against the tree. "Mind if I ask what brings you all out this way?" 

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The numbers grow, and yet with each new addition his facial features remain frozen. The tree morphing into a person, a talking cat, some old guy decked out with sword and mace, and a guy with flame breathe, these things are no more abnormal or unusual than the dragon-kin flying overhead.

His gaze, haven broken from Torie, is transfixed on a cluster of dragons circling overhead. Although they are little more than shadows among the backdrop of the starlight, their silhouette is both too large and too distinctive to be mistaken for a bird.

“What am I?” Farkis finally repeats the question back to her, his gaze leveling in the process. “I thought the proper protocol was I give my name, and then you introduce yourself? But if we are just jumping to intimate personal matters like that…” he pauses, his mind alive with a hive of answers all buzzing to be uttered. “Depressed, I suppose that’s what I am… and you?” With the answer he falls backward, his eyes catching one final clear glimpse of the stars before the orange glow of the campfire pollutes them.

Comfortably on the ground, fingers laced behind his head, he takes a moment to listen to both the people and the world. The crackling flames and crack of wood splitting as the water inside begins to boil, adds a suitable and enjoyable ambiance that he can almost appreciate.

“Huh, I’m in Genesaris again?” His mind churns back to the last thing he can recall. Something about three brothers voltroning into a purple ogre, in Last Chance. Before that was Orisia and a vampyre punching him in the face. How long ago was that? The thought is whispered along the ground as slithering tendril that serpentines its way toward Dew, starting out in large lazy coils that work their way closer, forming tightly wound concentric circles.

His right hand lazily swats through the air, as if to shoo away a pest, dissipating the wayward thought. “Anyway, I am not from here. But there are supposedly merits to visiting places and cultures that are not your own. So, I guess you could say I’m sightseeing.” The question of why is here occupies a small portion of his mind. It is a recurring question that is never answered, so it no longer matters.

His hand falls to a light grey shirt, landing to straighten out and smooth a necktie that isn’t there. The hell am I wearing?

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Ainsworth scrambled up from his crouched position by the fire as the horse neighed in alarm. His metaphorical hackles were raised until he saw who was holding the the lead. He relaxed as Dew introduced himself. The young dryad seemed pleasant enough. Maybe it was his unassuming nature or the fact that the horse seemed calm now that Dew was in human form, but Ainsworth felt at ease as he approached the newcomer to take his horse back. “It’s nice to meet you.” He said as he gently took the lead from the teen and hitched the horse to a different tree. This time, as he listened to the ongoing conversation, he took the cargo and tack off the horse and set it to the side.

“I didn’t realize there was much out here that was worth sightseeing.” Ainsworth slung a smaller pack over his shoulder and rejoined the group. He glanced over at Farkis with a confused tilt of his head. Kriegstad was right; they were an odd lot. He crouched by the fire again and was pleased to see that the small flames had caught on the wood. His mouth watered at the thought of a hot meal. “I’m going home.” He answered. “My caravan’s last stop was in Vrada, so I have to go south on my own.” He waited for the others to answer before turning back towards Kriegstad. “And yourself? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.”

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On 4/5/2020 at 5:28 AM, AngryCacti said:

“That should catch as long as your wood isn’t soaked. I hope.”

Torie watched the fire build and build with gladness, though for the others, it had the creepy effect of making her tiger eyes flicker in the darkness. She smiled toothily, which could also be construed as threatening, so she made sure her speech was gentle.

“Thank you,” she said to Ainsworth. “How did you do that? Was it magic, or just some trick?

“I’m Torie, by the way,” she said to everyone, but especially to the sight-seer, who seemed offended she hadn’t said her name immediately. To the tree boy she added, “Welcome! Please, come and join us. Thank you for the sticks, if any were yours.”

She looked at the boy, thinking that he looked about her age, if she were in human form. Druid or not, it was good to meet someone a little bit like her. And he could turn into a tree. Perhaps, like her, his elemental powers stemmed from nature.

“You’re a dryad, then?” she said. “I’m a druid, though not a very… erm, dedicated one.” Indeed, she was probably much better at staying in inns than she was in the countryside. Was there such thing as a city druid? Leader of rats and other such vermin?

More like friends of beds and well-prepared meals.

 

18 hours ago, Fennis Ursai said:

"Mind if I ask what brings you all out this way?" 

 

“I’m just foraging,” Torie said, using her paw to jingle the loop of bags around her thick neck. “There’s lots of good foraging in these parts. Herbs, but also truffles! You’d be surprised how much the merchants in Vdara pay for them. I’m trying to be self-sufficient, until my friend lines up more work. We just cleared a mine site nearby of salamanders, and we got to cook some for dinner. Have you ever tried salamander?” she said the last bit to the dryad boy. “You don’t even need to heat it. Something about the meat makes it start boiling as soon as you drop it into the pot! It's the best food for travelling."

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This group was definitely unique. A depressed man, a druid that was, by her words 'not much of a druid', a merchant on his path home aged by the look of it possibly the most normal here so far, the dryad boy, and him, a werewolf commander smith. His eyes looked over at the large man laying back, trying to gauge the man. Was he lost? Did he even know? 

It wasn't until his attention was turned back to the merchant Ainsworth. What was 'he' doing here?

"Ahh, well funny story. I'm on forced leave from my forge and well I guess my position as well. A forced vacation. So I took up a hobby, not the most artistic but I'd say it's a start. My clan decided I hadn't taken a break in...well...since before I got with the clan some long time ago so I was forced to go take a break." Kreigstad leaned back into the tree that was behind him, taking a load off of his legs. "That and taking the little 'kul out for his first experiences out in the field. 

It was the statement Torie spoke that really had his attention, "Why do you say you aren't much of a druid?"

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Laughter comes first from the older man, amused and hearty, and Dew relaxes.

"This isn't one of your kin is it. I'm about to lean on it and don't wanna piss off your kind."

Dew chuckles, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “I’m pretty sure there’s no other dryad around, at least not nearby.” He blinks. “And I’m… looking for adventure. Or something like that.”

As he speaks, Ainsworth walks up to him to relieve him from the horse’s lead. Dew passes it over without a fuss, and smiles at his greeting. He seems nice, even if he does own a horse. At least the horse is well-behaved. And is thoroughly ignoring him. Nice.

Then Torie, the big cat, welcomes him into the group with a smile and flickering eyes. Dew studies her curiously as he walks over to the fire Ainsworth is apparently responsible for. She’s big, and her pelt looks soft and fluffy.

"Thank you for the sticks, if any were yours.”

“Ah, none were mine, but the trees don’t mind.” He sits down near Torie, on the opposite side from Farkis, who seems strangely…sad, as he stares at the night sky. Even if neither his monotone nor his face reveal anything. He does say he is depressed, though. Dew eyes him with worry. He…doesn’t know where he is. That is. Uh. Well.

He follows the man’s gaze up, but can’t see anything. “Um...What are you looking at?”

Dew scratches his cheek, then answers Torie’s question. “Ah, yes. Half-dryad, actually. My dad’s human. It’s because of him that I wanted to go out and explore the world,” he admits, just a tad embarrassed. He tilts his head to one side, hums. “Salamander? No, I can’t say I have. I’ll have to try it sometime.” Maybe a tiny bit? Dew’s not eaten much human food in his life, since in his tree form he can sustain himself with a diet of water and sunlight, but he’s trying to be adventurous, and that includes trying new foods.

He listens to Kreigstad’s reasons for being in the wild, then nods along his question to Torie. You are what you are, after all. How could you be more or less of yourself?

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3 hours ago, Fennis Ursai said:

"Why do you say you aren't much of a druid?"

Ah, well,” Torie said, shifting around on her huge belly uncomfortably. “Druids are… the best druids are defenders of nature, or teachers about the wild, or worshipers of nature gods. I don’t often ‘defend nature’ and I don’t worship any nature spirits or gods, though I teach, occasionally. I suppose I’m more interested in the human world. I have some druidic powers, like shape-shifting, though you’ll usually find me in town rather than out in the woods.” She smiled. “I suppose you’re all just lucky tonight!”

 

3 hours ago, ReachForStars said:

“Ah, yes. Half-dryad, actually. My dad’s human. It’s because of him that I wanted to go out and explore the world,” he admits, just a tad embarrassed.

 

Torie’s eyes lit up. “That’s what I’m doing, too! My clan sent me out a couple of years ago, to grow and to learn new cultures. It's a rite of passage for us. If you’re keen to wander and learn, you’re welcome to travel with me. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two about being a tree?” She grinned, tail flicking, as if genuinely excited by the prospect.

“Anyway, who’s hungry? I don’t have much, but if anyone can hunt I can lead you to some game nearby. I’m not an especially good hunter, for a tiger, but I can point them out so all you need to do is shoot a bow. I'll even donate a truffle as seasoning.” To Dew, she said, “You don’t look like a hunter, but you can come with me, if you want.” She smiled at him invitingly.  

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“Dragons.” His answer to Dew is minimal, his attention too focused on his hands as they frantically work down his body, fingers dancing over his shirt and pants as he tries to figure out exactly what he is wearing, when his attention is drawn toward Ainsworth’s statement. “I suppose for someone you traveled with a caravan; you haven’t seen a lot.” The retort is leveled with a hint of smugness. “The world is vast, each region different. Even those that are similar, have their own unique idiosyncrasy… flavor… personality if you will. Seems like you look but you don’t see.” Seeing, yes, he needs to see what the hell he is wearing.

Farkis sits up, his gaze firmly affixed on his feet. What he finds is boots, flat black shin high leather with a higher gloss decorative lattice fabric on the toe and heel. He can’t remember the last time he wore boots. Just above that, in the glow of the campfire, he can make out darker blue-grey pants, definitely not wool, maybe cotton? “Who the hell dressed me like this?” He wonders aloud as disgust and shame start to bubble up from deep within.

His attention shifts once more when Torie mentions hunting, and it prompts him to work his gaze over the gathering. Although he can’t remember the last time he ate, none of them look particularly appetizing. Plus convincing them to let him devour them would probably take more energy than he’d get out of the transaction.  

“Someone should catch a dragon, that would be entertaining.” He offers up the idea, if only because it might be more thrilling than a rabbit, deer, lion, or bear.

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