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The man grunted. "And if I don't work, how do I eat?" He shot Simon a withering look as he pulled his clothes back on, before walking off.
The young boy stepped forward gingerly, his eyes only darting up to meet Simon's for a split second. The boy could only have been two or three years younger than the hedge wizard, and the L'Anguiller realised that it wasn't stubbornness that was preventing him from saying anything - fear was written across his face.
The boy opened his mouth, but no words came out. His left hand remained tucked in the opposite armpit.
Hearing the question Siegfried pauses and thinks for a moment.Then speaks"That's a difficult question." Siegfried pauses for a moment, once again thinking. "The knight that is travelling with us he can be trusted certainly as I think can the woman Valerie and the other warrior Heinrich. The others I'm not so sure of but I doubt they would do any thing to harm you".
Last edited by BlueMagnusStorm : 01-29-2013 at 02:08 PM.
Edgard pursed his lips. "That's good to hear," he said. His eyes darted between Luc and Claude, settling on the latter. "I think we owe it to Jean to try to enlist these men's help." Luc nodded vigorously, eyes wide; Claude shrugged, before dipping his head briefly. The village elder turned back to Siegfried.
"Will you help us once more, monseiur? Will you tell our associates that a man's life is in danger, and that we need their help to rescue him from the forest?"
The boy slowly took his hand out from under his armpit, balling his fist. It was slick with blood, and the right side of his tunic was already stained. Slowly, with immense concentration, he held the arm forward, unclenching his fingers. There seemed to be blood-drenched flaps hanging down from his palm, fluttering with the anxious tremors running down his arms.
He spread his fingers. Simon saw the blood was emanating from between his fingers - when they were finally splayed wide, the hedge wizard saw the truth of the matter. The hanging flaps were thin webs of skin that had been stretched from digit to digit - until the boy had taken some sort of blade to them, cutting deep into the valleys between his fingers, and leaving the ragged edges of the flesh to hang horribly about the wounds.
As the crowds gathered and got in line for healing and what not, Heinrich just hung around, watching the procession with dying interest, seeing the ailments of these folk was...unsettling. As his interest and stomach waned, he saw the webbed fingers of the boy, now split. "....mutant!..." he murmured in Reikspiel, looking around, as though an imperial witch hunter would appear just at the mention of chaos. He glanced to the river, then furiously rubbed his head for a moment, where the water had touched, though he knew it would be no good if indeed the water was tainted. He grabbed the hilt of his sword in his off hand, gripping it firmly at his side, which gave him some small comfort.
Surely the boy's mutation was no secret for the people of this village, but Simon worried about how his travel companions would react. The Imperials especially; according to some, the Empire was more organized and systematic than Bretonnia when it came to hunting witches and mutants.
"I... understand why you did it, boy," he murmured, moving closer to force the boy to put his hand back under his armpit before too many of his friends saw it, "but you really should have asked someone more skilled to do it for you. Was Émilie aware of your... condition?"
The boy nodded tearfully, suppressing a shudder. "She said it wasn't ... she said it was because my parents are, they're cousins." He was nearly sobbing. "But people say I'm, that I - and I'm not, and I wanted it all to stop." He gulped down a breath. "But I don't think I cut it right, and I don't want my hand to go bad. Please." He looked imploringly up at Simon, a gooey mixture of tears and snot collecting on his philtrum.
''I hope you know that mutations should be eradicated whenever it's seen when we are enter the empire, right? Luckily this is not imperial ground... Can you help the poor kid? make his hands look well and 'normal' again?'' She said in a whisper, sounding worried for the young boy, but also worried about WHY the boy is mutated.
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"I'll... do what I can," Simon assured Valerie, "but I'm no surgeon. I can stop the bleeding and stave off infection, but I can make no promises about cutting off the loose skin. I'd rather leave that to Émilie. I just don't understand why she didn't take care of it long ago..."
As soon as Edgard has finished speaking Siegfried responds "Of course I'll help. A man's life is at stake." . Then he begins moving towards the door. As he moves he says "I shall go and get them immediately clearly there is no time to loose."
"Thank you," said Edgard again nodding vigorously - something in his larynx bobbing up and down put Siegfried in mind of an elderly dog happily gnawing away at a bone. As the apothecary got to the door, Marianne grabbed his wrist. The sudden motion made him stop, although her thin fingers felt so delicate that he doubted her hand would have even slowed him down.
"Please," she said softly. "Be discreet."
Outside, the south face of Edgard's house was in shadow as the afternoon sun dawdled closer to the horizon. It was cooler, too, approaching the temperature it had been when he and the others had been standing on the quay in L'Anguille that very morning. It was going to be a cold night.
When he reached the inn he paused, trying to catch sight of anybody familiar in the common room through the tight windows. Something in the corner of his eye made him glance to the left - down the path towards the bridge, the dregs of a crowd were gathered by the shrine. Even from a distance, d'Abenne was obvious - his green blouse and tan breeches obvious against the villagers' cloaks.
As Siegfried got closer he noticed the others. Valerie and Simon were standing at one end of a table that had been set outside the door to the shrine; a woman in the yellow robes of the Shallyan order was at the other end. A few villagers were gathered opposite them. It seemed to be some sort of rustic clinic - Simon was bandaging a young boy's hand, while Émilie was peering into an older man's mouth.
Can you make an Awareness test, please.
Simon did his best with the rough bandages at hand - it wouldn't be comfortable, but the bleeding would stop. He'd had to wind them awfully thick; the boy looked practically club-fisted. Beside him, Émilie was staring at one of the villager's tonsils.
There were hurried footsteps as Siegfried approached from the direction of the inn. The apothecary frowned as he glanced over Simon's work, but if he had seen the evidence of mutation, he didn't look too bothered by it. Instead he approached the spot where Heinrich and Abel were hanging back.
"Sir Abel, Heinrich," he murmured quietly. "The villagers tell me a man has been injured in the woods - more goblins, they say. There's a search party being organised. I thought we might help. What do you say to exterminating more greenskins?" he asked, raising an eyebrow to Heinrich. He switched to Reikspiel, the words spilling out of his mouth like water bursting through a dam. "But I doubt we'll be doing that," he whispered. "Something's not right - I'll explain if you come away with me ..."
Can I get a Heal check at +20 for Simon, please. Looks like we're out of spoiler territory once more.
None of my business, Simon decided at once. As unpleasant as it was to look for maggots in old peasants' buttcracks, it was still infinitely preferable than risking one's life against goblins. He would take care of the injured man if needed, but his travel companions were free to die heroically.
"Aye, lets get to it," Heinrich said, correcting his slumping posture at the mention of work that he found worlds more interesting than tending to poorly kept villagers. His arms uncrossed as he eagerly followed Siegfried and Abel.
Siegfried shot Simon a disapproving glare - the young man's indifference to his plea must have come across on his face. The apothecary glanced at Valerie momentarily, his frown ebbing away, but he seemed to decide there was no time to waste; turning back to Abel and Heinrich, he beckoned them back along the path, muttering as he went.
Simon and Valerie
"Well," said Émilie, apparently deciding to pay attention to the newcomers once more. It seemed she had exhausted her patients. She smiled at Simon. "You've done reasonably well. Where did you pick up the healing arts?"
Heinrich and Abel
"I didn't want to say too much back there," said Siegfried, holding up a hand to the others as they reached the inn. "The village elder, Edgard, claimed it was a goblin attack. But I've already treated one of the survivors, with a wound that was definitely not from an arrow. It seemed more like ..." He rolled his eyes, as if he couldn't believe what he was saying. "A snake bite. A gigantic, poisonous snake bite." He swallowed, his eyes darting from face to face.
"I don't know what's going on, but I'm pretty sure everybody involved wants to keep this quiet. If there's another man whose life needs saving, that's what I'm going to do, and I hope you will too. After that ... I don't know." The apothecary shrugged. For a moment, standing there, looking unsure, his robes still splattered in goblin blood from earlier ,the man looked absolutely exhausted.
"Giant snake? Not sure we have those in the
Empire, but I think I could kill it, given the chance. Are we to hunt it or...?" Heinrich said, scratching at his chin as he crossed one arm over his chest, resting his other elbow in his open palm, the look rather contemplative. Another unfitting pose and demeanor for the pit fighter.
Flattered in spite of himself, Simon answered truthfully: "Grew up in a family of fishermen and sailors. My bros always had all sorts of accidents; hooks in their flesh, falls from masts, splinters, diseases from the spoiled food on ships. They couldn't afford a doctor, so I became the family healer since I'm pretty useless at anything physical. I learned the basics by asking around... Old wives, foreigners and such. Even an Elf, once."
He had also experimented a bit on stray dogs, but he thought it best not to mention it.
Émilie nodded thoughtfully. "You're a city boy. You've got to be a quick thinker, and adaptable, to get by these days. No need to deny it, boy," she responded to any false modesty on Simon's face. "I can tell you're a clever one." She seemed to be weighing him up, as if he were a prize specimen of livestock at the market; Simon had never had an adult stare at him in such a way before.
Then the priestess turned to Valerie. "And you, my dear? What's your story? Because you won't mind me saying that the two of you are damned odd caravan guards. A bit on the scrawny side. People notice, in a village this size. They'll probably keep it to themselves, of course, but I'm rather nosy so I don't mind asking." She grinned wickedly, clearly enjoying her ability to bypass social niceties.
Abel, Heinrich and Siegfried
Siegfried shrugged. "I'm not too keen to chase after anything with a jaw that big. We'll find this peasant, and that's all."
The apothecary led the others down the lane that ran by the market. The stalls by now were completely deserted - just empty skeletons, like the jutting ribs of some immense beast buried beneath the village. The shadows were starting to creep around corners, as the afternoon sun dipped to the treetops in the southern sky.
Three men were standing outside the last house, where the lane deteriorated into a thin line of dry earth. The tallest was the figure of the village elder, still clutching his ornate staff. He nodded cordially to Heinrich, then bowed slowly to Abel; the stiffness of the movement was probably due to his age rather than any lack of respect. His two companions were much quicker to make their obeisances, although one had a rather sullen look on his face as he did so.
"Monsieur," said the elder to Abel, "I am Edgard. I have the honour of being village elder in Remy-sur-Orne. These good men are Luc and Claude." They straightened up. Claude was the grumpier of the two.
Edgard continued. "We are truly blessed to have such a man of your status in our midst in this hour of need."
Valerie raised an eyebrow at the question that came from Émilie. ''I do not know why i should tell you my lifestory... but I am born within the empire, my family are the owners of a nice inn... what else would you like to know?'' She replied, slightly sarcastic yet still truthfully.
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The priestess answered Valerie's raised eyebrow with one of her own.
"No need to take umbrage, my dear. Let me offer you a piece of advice, if you'll accept it. You don't need to fight off everybody. Sometimes, an open hand and an open mind is the road to wisdom." She nodded to Simon. "Thank you for your help. Drop by anytime." With that, Émilie shoved the table back inside the shrine, shut its doors and headed home.
Marperic had been chatting good-naturedly with Matias and Laurent. He wandered in the direction of the young pair, the others keeping pace with him.
"Did you see what happened to the others?" asked the merchant. "I'm sure they were here a minute ago."
Abel, Heinrich and Siegfried
The man called Luc was looking between Edgard and the vague region of Abel’s hips, curling and uncurling the fingers of one hand in visible agitation. “If Monsieur would follow me …” he said uncertainly, indicating the direction of the woods. Claude strode past, not standing on ceremony.
“Good luck. Our prayers are with you,” the village elder said solemnly as the group of five began walking south. Though even the dirt path disappeared before they entered the shade of the trees, Luc seemed to know exactly where to go - and it was a good thing too, for even if they had known the lay of the land, both Heinrich and Abel almost instantly lost their sense of direction. As the shade of the evening fermented between the trees, one trunk became indistinguishable from the next, and the uneven landscape of fallen logs, muddy puddles and clumps of ugly weeds made it almost impossible to see their own footprints behind them. Perhaps the villagers had ways of recognising land that had felt the tread of a human boot before, but to the knight and the pit fighter it all looked like just so much more forest. As the minutes passed, the shadows thickened noticeably, and the air chilled; it would not do to be left in the forest after dark.
After ten or fifteen minutes of clambering quickly between the trees, Luc suddenly paused.
“What is it?” whispered Claude - and until that moment, there seemed to be no reason to whisper, but now that he had spoken, his voice sounded most unwelcome beneath the howl and creak of branches stirring in the wind.
“There,” said Luc, pointing to one gnarled thicket of spiny bushes. “This is where I lost him.”