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Rabbit

One of Many (Gillick Child Thread)

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Ardmore watches in contemplative silence as he watches Eldridge saunter away, his request for a partnership politely declined but a deeper understanding of the witch obtained. The boy heaves a sigh as he watches her go, collecting Barbarossa in his arms and perching the little monkey atop his shoulder. "Kind? Guess that's one way to look at it - never had much of a way with people." The boy laments to Prince, standing up tall.

"Aye aye Cap'n, let's get a move on." Arty nods with a sense of affirmation, adjusting his hat and turning it about face. "Might be...or I might be the first to drop dead, should I manage to piss off a pixie or something like that." Taking the opportunity for a new challenge in stride, the young thief quickly makes his way back to Prince's wagon, walking past all the other carnies laboriously packing up camp.

Just like that, they're off yet again! Soon after heading out, the clouds quickly grow overcast as a light rain rolls in over the horizon. Arty decides to combat the dreary atmosphere, by regaling the full details of his earlier run-in with the guards to Prince, omitting the part where his touch alone aged wooden scaffolding into naught more than bone-dry dust. He doesn't want to cause any alarm by revealing the nature of his power. The hours toiled on rather uneventfully, the night soon to come as the group made progress towards the Fenwyld's border. 

Ardmore doesn't notice it at first, but his attentive companion Barbarossa makes certain to pull the boy's attention towards a curious mire. "Whoa! H-Hold on!" He'd request Prince bring the wagon to a stop despite the urgency caused by the swelling rain shower. The boy points out what a thick, ethereal, almost silvery fog that's accumulated just on the precipice of a far off swathe of land. The sight is still a fair ways away, but its almost otherworldly qualities and expansive range makes it stand out, even at a distance.

"I know it's raining 'n all but...there's something odd about that mist. Tell me I'm not crazy, Prince?"; the lad looks to the man, a quizzical frown forming across his boyish cheeks.

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As with many others, Prince enjoyed the quiet journey across the land. The light pattering of rain his music, singing gently to him as they slowly traveled the dirt paths. These small breaks inbetween his work were blissful to the young leader, a holiday away from the screaming children and loud music that came with the carny. Hours went by and yet he never got bored of it.

But as always, life had a funny way of throwing storms in Prince's path. A strange phenomena threatened to wash over the caravans, blocking the circuses path forward. To most of the caravan, it simply reeked of an unnatural entity. Prince brought everyone to a grinding halt, keeping the lot at the greatest possible distance. He jumped down, with Eldridge walking to his side. 

"What you thinking?" Prince turned to give both Arty and the witch a quick glance.

"Not sure. Might be a natural mist, enhanced by something. Hard to tell without delving inside, has anyone been keeping track of our placement on the map?" Eldridge pondered the many possibilities 

"Pretty sure we're roughly 25 miles north west of The Gully, but it's hard to tell."

Edited by Rabbit

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The fog continues to billow ominously over the yonder treetops, down the canopy until it settles beneath the understory just mere inches off the forest floor. Whatever was causing the mystical mire wasn't keen on sending the mist any closer - it simply remained stationary, creating an ominous presence even at the great distance Prince placed between the caravan and the cloud. The otherworldly sheen emanating from its precipice takes on many hues, ranging from a hazy blue to a striking magenta, almost like a psychedelic kaleidoscope.

Arty hops out the wagon and saunters up beside Prince and Eldridge, his Capuchin cowering, ducking his fuzzy head back into the safety of the bag. A cold wind blows across the way, sending an uneasy shiver down the young urchin's spine. "I'm gettin' a bad feeling about that mist, I is! Sure it's raining and all but...something ain't right about it."

As stridently intrepid as Ardmore presents himself, he's still just a kid who's been thrust headlong into whatever perilous adventure life's prepared for him. His first instinct is to seek comfort and guidance in his more experienced company. Turning to Prince and Eldridge the boy would ask; "Are we...going in there?"

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Both Prince and Eldridge stood quietly, unsure of how to answer Arty's question. Turning back would bring many issues, such as limited supplies and extended travel time due having to hunt for food. Moving forward would bring the unknown, a potential resolution or an unimaginable death. Either way, both the witch and Prince knew what was coming next. 

"Welp, of course we're heading into the fog. Someone has to deal with this issue." Eldridge spoke softly, but had butterflies in her stomach. She knew the danger, as did everyone else.

"Agreed, tho I most certainly am neither eager, nor going in there myself. Take Cecco with you, I'm sure he's eager for battle. The witch and the guardsmen, a beautiful combo." Prince turned to Arty, giving him an understanding eye. "Nothing to fear, we've dealt with many anomalies on our travels. Maybe this could be something good for you, experience dangers beyond that of a thief. I think you've got an inner rogue in there somewhere, maybe a stealthy animal tamer. You're of course free to join them, if you so choose.

From behind the group came loud footsteps, of which came from an oversize man who towered above all he walked by. A shield was strapped to his left arm, an red mettle mace on his left hip. His leather armor was beyond patched up, basically forming a whole new set. Despite all this, his eyes were kind and he had a large smile across his face. None of other workers so much as batted an eye, comfortable in his presence. 

"??? mist ??? now." He left out a few slurred and mumbled words, of which it seemed only Prince could understand. 

"Yeah, you'll be heading in their shortly." Prince leaned down to whisper to Arty "Few can understand him...If you can't figure out what he's saying, just reply with a smile and nod when he speaks to you."

"Are we ready yet?" The witch spoke up. 

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Ardmore looks between the both of them, swallowing the nervous lump that formed in his throat as he shrinks away from the distant presence of the looming fog. "Yeah sure, but why do we have to be the 'someones' dealing with it?" The boy adjusts his hat, looking to prince with a strikingly concerned expression; the boy points to himself, eyes wide in disbelief. "M-Me!? No...no way! Uh-uh!" Arty shakes his head, holding his arms in the shape of an 'x'...that is until he hears Eldridge is going. He thinks about what she had said earlier, about the boy proving himself to be a reliable member of this motley crew.

With a hefted sigh the boy changes his tune; "Fiiiine! On second thought, sure — I'm coming with you two, too." Of course, the thief had been forgetting his less intrepid companion; surely Barbarossa has a say too right? The Capuchin is quick to leap out of his bag and scramble away from Arty, hiding behind Prince's leg. Seems something about that fog has the primate particularly spooked; he refuses to follow his trusted master any further.

"Heh. Have it your way, ya ol' scaredycat Barbar." Arty waves off the Capuchin's concerns, after all; "What's the worst that can happen? It's just some funky mist."

Stepping aside, Arty looks up to the towering fellow who he can only assume is none other than Cecco. Great; he can't understand a word of what the seemingly kind giant was saying. Something about the mist? Maybe he was wondering if they were going in now or not? In any case, the words he does heed are Princes — the boy simply smiles and nods. Hell, he even throws in a thumbs up! "Yep! You hit the nail on the head, big guy." Strapping his bag on tight and fastening his leather gloves, the agile urchin suavely saunters up beside Eldridge with a coy shrug.

"I'm ready whenever you guys are. Consider me a tag along."

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"Gather your courage, crew. Let us plunge into whatever this mist is." The witch began walking, as did Cecco follow closely behind without a word.

The walk to the mist took a only few minutes, but felt long and daunting to Eldridge. She had to muster much determination to not look back, seeing her fellow carny slowly get further away would only lessen her courage. A few crows followed closely behind, the only ones willing to also take the plunge. Cecco drew his sword, seemingly both willing and ready for combat.

"??? to death ???" Cecco mumbled, handing both Arty and the witch an end of a long piece of rope. 

"And so let it take us!" The witch responded with eagerness, taking her end. "Isn't that right Arty!?"

As the two moved into the mist, a sudden chill and lack of visibility fell over them. There was no adjust time or steady movement into the wall of mist, it was a sudden punch to the senses. The witch gripped the rope tighter, leading the three further and further in. There was no noise, no smell or even any wind movement. It was still. Just ever still. There was a sudden small incline in the terrain, leading them up a hillside path.

"Hmm, hold tight and be on the look out for anything. Anything at all, call it out. I remember some of this path, but not all."

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Ardmore follows Eldridge and Cecco in turn, not wanting to end up falling behind in case the instant they entered the mist proved to be a disorienting one. He figures getting lost is the literal worst case scenario for the little expedition team. The boy feels an unnatural chill run up and down his spine as he takes a step into the ethereal mire, feeling as though the strange essence was...calling out to some small part of him. It draws him into an almost dreamlike trance for a few seconds before the voice of the witch brings him back from the brink of delirium.

"H-Huh? Oh! Yeah...what he said."; he chuckles nervously, rubbing the back of his head with the faintest blush. He had no idea what Cecco was saying but he can deduce it was something courageous. As the three progress through the magical mist, sticking close together, Arty takes heed to his companions. Ever the attentive little street rat, the lad's quick to peer through the encroaching fog as best he can, the low visibility making it difficult enough to discern details let alone any that'd stand out behind the colorful shimmering distractions.

Even so however, it only takes about a minute of scanning for Arty to make out...something shifting in the near distance. It's subtle, not much more than a darkened shape adjusting itself upon some monolithic, arboreus perch; he reaches out to try and tug on Eldridge's sleeve. With a whisper he'd point; "O-Oi. I think I saw something on that tree over there. At about 3 o'clock, 6-or-so meters away."

He'd look between Cecco and the witch, a quizzically concerned look spreading across his boyish face. "Should we check it out?"

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Eldridge stopped, Cecco coming to a halt just after she turned around. Confused at Arty's words, she peered through the fog, hoping to catch a glance at what the newest member had seemingly spotted. Neither the warrior nor witch could see anything, merely seeing brief movements of a nearby tree swaying in the breeze. But that was the thing that confused the witch the most.

"Why is everything moving as if there was a breeze? There's no wind, at all. I see no figure, but definitely movement." Eldridge pointed towards the grass and trees, moving as if the wind was pushing them. "I feel nothing, but it appears as if the motion of everything around us is still flowing."

"So ????, right?" Cecco let out a deep mumble.

"Yes, that confirms this is far from natural. We..." Her focus was thrown of the the rapid movement of a humanoid figure darting off into the dark, at a inhuman speed. "Well, we may have a fight on our with your friend there, Arty."

Eldridge drew a dagger from beneath her chest plate, as did Cecco draw his sword and shield. The witch signaled for them to follow, picked up pace to a fast walk up the hill. The fog got thinner as they got further up the hill, but darker. Despite having entered during the day and walking for barely an hour, the night sky and stars appeared as they broke the fog. The hilltop was just in reach, allowing for a birds eye view of the area.

Edited by Rabbit

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