[The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“What do I look like, a scribe?” scoffed Pascal, as if her question had been unreasonable, “Ask someone who reads, or Diligence, if he’s got the time. I’m getting back to the gate.”

With that dismissive wave, the broad quarrid lumbered his way back to the outpost, now of significantly less worth than before, with its bridge gone. From where she stood, she could just barely make out the forms of canidaer on the other side, searching for their Sergeant. Beyond that rose the orange hills of the floating isles and the shape of the city, Navipolis. In the other direction were the rough foothills of the passes between the Yormundyaws.

“What the bridge-man meant,” carried on Bjorn after they had managed to work their way up the first hill of many, “was that it is not well understood why this happens to quarrids. There are stories of quarrids going berserk that stretch back for ages. Maybe it is a worker. Maybe it is a soldier. Each one is told to have woken up one day in madness that eventually spurs to violence, hence, berserker. Each story ends with the berserker either going to Dyrnwyn or the forests of Vengeance, and never being heard of again.”

Phyllis’ eyes stared off in the middle distance, before slowly dripping to the ground. Her hands pensively squeezed the haft of her weapon.

“All I’m hearing is liability, liability, liability,” groaned Helen, fishing out some root vegetable to hang on the end of a stick, in an attempt to urge Thaler on, “The faster we can get up this mountain, the better.”

Up the mountain they went, crunching loose dirt and rocks under their feet as they ascended. Wildlife was sparse in this part of the world. The calls of birds were just echos, making the settling of the surrounding forest all the louder amidst the rumble of the cart. Occasionally, there would be another wagon rolling by, carrying supplies back down to the bridge, but other than that, it was quiet.

The occasional conversation was stilled by bubbling giggles, indicating that Willow’s stony handbag had awoken.

“Great,” grunted Helen, who had hoped that they wouldn’t hear from him again. Instead, this caused him to turn his head towards her.

“Stone upon stone, an ancient responsibility lost; forgotten,” Ghyslain hummed in a daze, his eyes searching blankly, “a father forsaken…–”

Helen froze, looking back at Ghyslain, before stuttering, “Wh- wa– What sort of d-dumb sod a-are y-you...”

“...--a mother lost–...”

“S-shut him up!” buzzed Helen, shaking. She got up on her bench and threw her whole bag at Ghyslain, and to a greater extent, Willow, “S-s-shut h-hi-m up!

Thaler, spooked, jerked on the cart, and snapped off one of his restraints. Helen went tumbling off the side, and the porcinepine broke loose. It darted forth, dragging its reins and restraints behind it as it went up the path and towards the sparse wall of trees.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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"Oi!"

Willow swat a hand against the incoming bag. The Brit had been managing just fine, but then Helen goes and loses it almost immediately? What's more, her fit had scared off the pig. Letting the golem tumble and Ghyslain slip from her shoulder, Willow took off after Thaler. While she'd never had to wrangle a stampeding animal working for Miss Smith, she did feel like it was close enough to her ranch hand wheelhouse for it to use some of her other skills.

"Get back here, Vegan Bacon!" Willow shouted as she ran and dove for the dragging reins.
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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It was a fierce dash, something creatures with smaller legs could not have made, but a giant like Willow was able to manage. Thaler pressed further up the hill, kicking back dirt in the Allomancer’s face as she dove and snatched up the reins. The porcinepine, a formidable beast of burden, drug Willow further up the path a few feet before coming to a tepid stop. It huffed, still panicked, but answering dutifully to the tugging of its reins.

The frenetic sounds of chase began to die down again, replaced with a distant growling. Looking to the source, Willow could see Ghyslain pushing himself to his hands and knees. The others were trying to help him, but she could just barely make out the bulging of his eyes, the gritting of his teeth. He had never looked more maddened than in that moment.

Perhaps it was instinct or understanding, but the Allomancer would find her awareness just enough to look left into the tree line.

Looking back at her were the empty eyes of a wraith, three times her size, and twice as wide, larger than any she had ever seen before. It screeched, crashing a dark fist through the tree towards her, which signaled a horde of other wraiths to leap from the woods and onto the cart.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow yelped at the sudden appearance and shocking sound. Shifting as she flinched away from the calamatous horse, No Name, a shocking realization crossed her mind. A jagged piece of bent sheet metal careened passed the girl's head as she spun, pushing away from the table while digging in her heel.

"Not gonna lie, ma'am. I prefer the pistols to the horse," Willow huffed as she righted herself. Jane had been putting her through this metal pulling exercise for almost a half hour at this point, and the sun had not become anymore pleasant as the afternoon passed. "Those are loud and shocking, but there's somethin' 'bout a large, unpredictable, screeching monster that... yeah, yeah... that's the point."

"Also, he ain't screechin', he's whinnyin'," Jane added before motioning for Willow to start again.

Willow released the reins and rolled to the side as the large fist of an actual large, screeching monster struck out. Shifting her weight during the roll let her gain her feet enough to spring back and gain some extra distance. Reflexively she immediately reached for her metal pouches with one hand, but stopped herself. She only had three nuggets, and she worried about making the same mistake she'd made earlier in the adventure; eating all of a metal, and wishing she'd had some after it was gone. Sure, that nugget of Brass would be super helpful right now, but what if...

Shnk

The Noble Saber was drawn. Willow knew these things could mess with her head, but to that same merit she knew how they would. Gripping the saber, she remember the story she had told in the park. She wanted to... no, she would be better than she had been. This wraith was in the way of her helping her impromptu travel companions, and she wasn't going to let her past that she wanted to forget get in the way who she wanted to be.

"Sorry about this, Big Hoss. I working on putting a stop to this," Willow said to the large wraith as she held the sword in a pose she'd seen before in a movie. Then she charged; focusing on how the mammoth wraith might strike at her, and less about how she herself was going to strike it.
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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The Allomancer was wise to keep an eye on the movements of the ogre wraith, as its arm bent unnaturally to chase her over the ground. Her saber, brought to bear with all the skill she could muster, sliced an open wound into the thing's side. A ribbon of shadow burst from the wound, filling the path with the stench of decay, while she dodged past another swing at her legs. The creature leaned into a run, in the opposite direction, but its arms bent back and stretched; a clawing hand gripped her ankle.

In an instant, Willow could see an open road.

A dark monstrosity undulated, and bursted as bullets tore into its hide. Jane Smith was emptying her colts into some unnamed beast. In the distance, a hooded woman was leaning over a wounded body of a familiar looking triclops. Mr. Flynn and Ms. Kagami stood at the fore, firing back at some tall, four-legged creature wielding a rifle firing on them in the mist. The battle was getting desperate, but not before another hooded woman appeared about the monstrosity and drove a vial down its throat. Willow’s mind was assaulted by a bright light…

… and then she was back in the forest. The grip of the wraith loosed off of her feet, Bjorn had hopped off her shoulder and was stabbing his way up the wraith’s arm, hopping and pinning as he went. Taking a cue from his charge, his grim face was keeping on the other hand as it turned to reach for him.

“Jurik! You c-coward!” she heard Helen scream in the distance.

“You’re leading us to our deaths! To the void with you!”

Whatever else was drowned out by distant screeching and the distinct sound of Ghyslain gibbering madly.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Back in the real world, Willow wiped away the dazed stupor and set her face with a determined look. She had seen Mister Flynn and Miss Smith in that vision. Had they... no... they had been here. They had walked these lands, and now Willow was walking that path.

"Untie the berserker!" Willow shouted down the road to the others. She charged forward towards the giant wraith. While it was focused on Bjorn she dart around its side, jumped, and with the saber gripped in both hands made a mighty downward slash across its back. Following the momentum downward, she landed, spun, and made an upward swipe with the saber in her right hand.

"Bjorn! Go help Phyllis, and get Helen under the cart."

Cats, how did Mister Flynn do this kind of thing? Thinking through battle strategy while also thinking about spells, and all that. Focus. It'll come in time. With Bjorn helping the outnumber cart defenders, Willow felt comfortable enough commiting to Big Hoss in front of her.
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“I better not regret this,” was heard barely above the din, in a voice that almost sounded like Phyllis.

Bjorn leapt from the shoulder of the wraith right as it clawed at him; he spread his wings, and glided. With only a crushed wing, he could only coast in the air, but it was enough to let him sail down the path. He zoomed past Willow, who rounded the ogre. In her leap, she managed to hew another deep gash of dark ribbons in the back of the creature.

With a deafening screech, it spun on its spine, like a machine, legs facing one way, arms to the other. It saw the strike coming this time, and seized the blade with its bare hand, shadow blood flowing from its palm. Then, like lightning, the other formed a fist and struck Willow in the chest with the force of a hammer. Her ribs bent with the strike, rattling her whole body as her vision faded for a mere moment.

A new scene appeared, this one of Mr. Caxton. He was legless and prostrated, holding his remaining limb up with what little dexterity he had. He seemed to be pleading to a goliath of a black-armored warrior in a horned helm, who held a long blade over the back of a woman that knelt in front of him.

Willow’s eyes snapped back to reality before she could see the blade fall home, and found the ogre cranking its arm back to strike her again.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Grimacing at the pain, Willow forced herself to take a deep breath following the strike to her chest; she couldn't afford to bet stunned or staggered since these things could also force her to see visions. This last one had been of Percy, and this realm seemed like it used to be a bit of a nightmare. Thinking of visions could wait however First she had to...

"Dodge roll!" Willow cried as she pushed off with her left foot into a tumble. Wincing against the pain in her chest, she got some distance and regained her feet. Thinking, she considered the enemy. The wraith back on the beach had been a spriggan, but it was a safe bet that this wraith wasn't one of the smallfolk. While it was technically just an educated guess, she figured this one was like the big golems she'd dealt just prior to the first wraith. Those big lugs had looked intimidating, but a little bit of percussive maintenance to the head reset them. Could that work here? She just needed to find a big stick or a...

"Ghyslain!" Willow shouted as she scarpered back down the path.
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow could hear the wind on the fist as it flew past its mark. The wraith ogre seemed preoccupied in figuring out what was going, its many eyes tracking Willow’s retreat. First, it tried to lumber, but began to limp. It tried to run, but its ravaged form could only manage a wounded lope. The Allomancer could feel the ground shake whenever her step matched her pursuer.

A black blur raced past her, hissing gleeful giggles of the scourge to come. Ghyslain, for his size, was agile; his legs powered a jump into the chest of the beast. The force was enough to slow the pace of the ogre, stunning it. Like a bug, the quarrid crawled up to the ogre’s shoulder, looking for the worst wound Willow had inflicted upon it. Then, he disappeared on the back as the creature began to claw at him. There was a brief ripping noise, precipitated over a growl of exertion and the ogre suddenly split from the chest to head and foot, erupting into a mass of withered wraiths, which in turn, dissipated into shadowy ribbons.

The quarrid fell to the ground, flat on his back, a look of satisfaction on his face as he stared at this sky. Willow’s saber landed serendipitously next to his head, without wounding him.

Looking at the cart, Phyllis was ripping her pole-axe out of the ground, after having finished a wraith. Bjorn was atop the cart, out of breath, sword in one talon, his eyes scanning the treeline.

“What the bloody hell was that about,” asked Helen, looking about to no one in particular, “I’ve never seen wraiths come down like that, organized; never seen wraiths as big as that brute.”

There was no sign of the other odinkine, as spriggans or present, and Helen could be found under the cart, as requested. She was shaking, holding her hands over the domed protection of her head. A small shield of light surrounded her in a bubble.

“This isn’t my fault… It’s not my fault…” she muttered shakily, repeating the phrase in different ways, over and over.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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"C'mere! 'm gonna..." Willow began to call as she ran towards Ghyslain, right up until the quarrid blitzed past her. She slowed and turned to process what she was seeing. "Throw... you... That work's too, I s'pose."

Casually looking back towards the cart, Willow began to jog to retrieve the rope in anticipation of needing to tie Ghyslain back up; and to check on the others, of course.

"Hey, sound off. Phyllis, you good? Helen, storm's past, you can come out now."
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