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From the dark of night, dim is the dawn.; [o]
Topic Started: Sun May 6, 2018 6:07 pm (213 Views)
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Norwood…it was the kind of name one said in a hushed whisper - but not out of fear; rather, out of respect and a certain sense of wonder held by those whose imaginations may still run wild from time to time. Many legends surrounded the ancient elf-guarded woodlands - regarding the woods themselves; regarding the elves; regarding the elven paths hundreds of feet above the forest floor; and regarding the creatures that dwelt both above and below. Many things have been forgotten about the ancient wood, and many mysteries yet remain. Take, for example, the elusive cervitaurs and their timid natures, using illusions much as the elves do to escape from hunters and casual travelers alike. It is said that they will sometimes help those in need, but to seek them after will end only in disappointment.

And then there was Ceryneia: clumsy, with weak magic, a short attention span, and a tendency to wander where she should not. Yet the forest was thick and heavy with silence more often than not, and so dimly lit that one could not see one’s own hand before one’s face in the night. During the day, at least, there was some measure of light - but torches, terrible things though they are, might allow one to see properly for a short range. Still, one stray spark could be quite dangerous…but the cervitaurs did not need torches to light their path. They had other means of seeing in the dark. Indeed, their eyes were perfectly suited to the lack of sunlight that filtered through the treetops of the old wood. Of course, they still needed light in the blackness of the nocturnal hours - but such hours were fading fast at the time of this story’s beginning.

Ceryneia’s hooves were light and quick, and her delicate frame was supported well by them - mostly. The mixture of red shifting into gold and finally tan from her hips all the way down her slender, short-furred legs seemed to shimmer in the light emanating from the upturned palm of her left hand, when the light was moved in such a manner as to reveal it; longer tufts of fur grew from her lower back, where flesh gracefully blended into them near the base of her spine, giving her a natural sort of privacy that one usually attained with garments. Her skin was just as pale as her lower legs, and her fire-like hair flowed freely and wildly behind her as she moved. Yet for the moment, it was only her crystal-blue eyes that shone in the gradually lifting gloom.

Those eyes scanned the bush that she had found, her body bent almost double as she hunted for the last of the fresh berries growing upon it. The light glowing softly from her palm illuminated them just enough that she could see blackberries hiding in some of the deeper boughs of the bush, and had it been closer to her face, a slight upturning of her lips might have been revealed - not quite a smile, but the hint of it. She reached in carefully with her right hand and plucked them cleanly from the bush to place into the pouch of hemp that she carried, its thin but strong rope stretching across the swath of olive-dyed cloth she wore to cover herself. Bucks were no less interested in does than men were in women, you see, for all creatures must be drawn to potential mates at some point in their lives, and so a kind of halter-top was often fashioned by cervitaur does to add a bit of mystery into the “game” that was frolicking (as they called it). Ceryneia continued searching the bush for some time, until she pursed her lips a bit and rose at last, disappointed that no more remained for the moment.

Sighing, she looked about for other bushes nearby and found one quickly. She went to it at once and began plucking the ripened berries from it, though there were so many that she knew she would not be able to pluck them all; besides, they would rot before she was able to eat the whole of them! She gathered quite a few, though, and popped one into her mouth as she reached up to the trunk of the tree against which the bush was growing. A loose piece of bark was quickly and thankfully found, and she studied the trunk for a moment before drawing shallow markings upon the small bit of bare trunk with the edge of the bark, chewing her berry as she did so. The bark she then added to her pouch; once again, she moved on.

Yarrow was growing among the roots of another tree nearby, so she gathered as much of that as she could; she knew a couple of cervitaurs who would love some, as it was one of the many plants from which they could make dyes - yellow dies, in this instance. Her eyes fell upon the fading light in her palm when she was done gathering the yarrow, and then she looked skyward; yes, the light was growing in the forest. By the time the darkness had faded into a dim and omnipotent shadow, her palm-light would likely be gone entirely, but she wouldn’t need it at that point anyway.

She moved on, soon finding a raspberry bush as lush as the blackberry bush she had found just a few moments ago. This one was growing among some shorter shrubs, however, and so she must mark it differently than she had marked the other blackberry bush. A quick look around revealed a yew tree none too distant, and so she pulled out one of the stalks of yarrow; she wrapped it tight about a lower, skinnier branch, the flower pointing toward the bush; even when it faded, the yarrow would remain, a lifeless marker. She then proceeded to gather as many of the berries as she could.

She was just standing up again when she stumbled backward over a root. This would not have been a problem had it not been for her stumbling over a larger root in her attempt to find her footing, and she soon found herself tumbling head-over-hooves over a short wall of thick, heavy roots bordering the ground here. When she recovered, she found that she was some twenty feet away and five feet below where she had been. She tried to scramble back up the roots, but it was no good; she would have to find another way up. She moved through the trees a bit one way, but found nothing to her left within easy reach; to her right, however, she found a tiny path. She marked the trees here with the piece of bark gathered earlier, as she found a small hill dotted with tiny black and red flowers, and she wound her way back to where she had fallen, marking the trees as she went. At the base of the roots, she did find some boysenberries growing just at the base of them; with a quick inspection, she found others growing between the roots as well. They were not easy to get to, but she managed to collect a few of them, and she marked the trunks so that she could find them again.

It was at this moment, however, that a new danger arose - and this one was not born of Ceryneia’s own clumsiness. She could almost feel it before she heard it…no, feel wasn’t the right word…smell…yes, that was it. She could smell its subtle aroma, a musk hidden by the scent of flowers nearby. It took her several long moments to place its general direction, and then she found herself staring into the seemingly empty foliage before her, leaning a little to the right as she peered among the trees trying to see whatever it was that was making her petite nose twitch. Her eyes widened as she saw it at the last moment, and she had just enough time to dart away before a great jaguar dropped to the ground from a leap, growling and hissing as it missed its prey.

Then the chase was off, and for the most part, Ceryneia was deft enough to avoid much of the undergrowth of the Norwood Forest’s tangled floor. But this being Ceryneia, after all, she could not avoid every upturned root or jutting rock, and so she stumbled quite a bit. This slowed her down significantly, and it was only this same terrain that saved her from being caught and eaten by the jaguar chasing her, for the jaguar was moving more swiftly but having just as bad a time trying to catch her on the ground. Jaguars, you see, can move quite well through the trees; but like many great cats, they require stealthy ambushes to quickly overtake their prey. In a place like the Norwood, long chases are almost impossible…

…almost, for at last, Ceryneia (quite literally) stumbled into a tiny clearing in the wood; she moved through it as quickly as she could, but the mossy fallen log before her was too great for her to jump, try though she did. Instead, she found herself scrambling onto her back and trying to push herself away from the jaguar that now sat poised upon the log, baring its fangs and making a noise. It was about to spring!

But it did not. Something off to its right made it flinch and turn that way for a moment. It looked back to Ceryneia and then back into the distance, clearly trying to decide between a meal and flight. It looked to her one final time before choosing flight, snarling at her before bounding away. Ceryneia looked quickly to her left and stared long at the trees, yet nothing came. In the distance, however, she eventually heard the roar of a bear. She half-sighed, half-laughed as she realized that it was one of the dire bears that roamed these parts. The bears were huge, powerful, and very territorial but did not bother most creatures so long as they kept their distance. Yet the jaguar was not going to risk a dire bear coming into the clearing. Looking down now, Ceryneia saw why it might: a small stream moving hardly at all grew wider and narrower in places along the eastern edge of the clearing.

She sat up and sighed, trying to still her fast-beating heart and mentally cursing her foolishness, as she had completely ignored the spear that her father had given her before leaving the grove this morning; bucks hunted for pelts and traded everything else with the centaurs who sometimes came into the wood and the satyrs and fauns strewn throughout it, but guards of groves often carried spears, slings, bows, and other simple weapons as a means by which to defend the groves themselves and the cervitaurs within them. But she had not thought she would need it just for picking berries in a part of the wood she knew so well! Then again, she wandered often, and this was a somewhat new part of the wood to her; while not completely unfamiliar, neither was it at all well-known by her.

As Ceryneia tried to calm herself, her eyes were drawn to the log, which she was certain she had just seen move - but perhaps it was only the residual motion of the jaguar’s leaving it. She smiled as a couple of antelope beetles crawled out of holes in the log and onto her leg. Watching them with a smile, she put a finger down and let one of them crawl onto her hand. She played with them a bit, grinning and even giggling as they scuttled about her moving fingers, finally settling upon her legs. Part of her smile was taken away again, however, as she saw the log move for certain this time. The beetles moved up to crawl about her arm, shoulder, and halter-top as she shifted her body into a kneeling position.

Coming up into a crouch after the log twitched again, she stared at the log, unnerved. What was inside this? A threat, or simply some animal just waking up from a night’s (hopefully pleasant) dreaming? She examined the log by sight and by touch for some time, finally leaning over slightly to peer into the inside. At first, she could see nothing, for it was too dark. But her eyes adjusted as she squinted a little and moved her face closer to the hollow…and then her face jerked back, her eyes wide again, and she stared unblinking at what she was sure she saw despite some small bit of uncertainty lurking in the back of her mind.

There was a person in this log!
Edited by Ceryneia, Sun May 6, 2018 6:22 pm.
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Of the forest of Norwood one thing could be said. Here be mysteries. Songs had been sung of this place. Its trees were sometimes very much alive. The creatures in it so very different from anywhere else. Few had explored its depths to the entirety. Even the elves who made this wood their home could not say for sure what lay in the deepest of its parts. For Arthur always the adventurer and explorer that meant challenge. He had been to Norwood many times over his life. He had explored where few had before. Yet there was always more to see.

Of course sometimes that brought danger. Arthur was no stranger to the dangers of the world. He was more than capable of dealing with them. Arrogance maybe but not without fact. Though for his looks for he seemed a normal man. He was armed to the teeth and the fading darkness barely hid his armor fit for warrior. It was his eyes that spoke the truth about him. They were Dragons Eyes. He was dragon even if only half. Thus his belief he could handle whatever this forest might throw at him.

After all not many could say they ever beat a dragon. But he was not here for a fight. Not if he could help it. Though it always seemed he attracted combat like a flame does a moth. He was here to see if he could find anything he had never seen before. Which was no mean feat because he had seen a lot. More than most folks. He had seen and done more than anybody ever had at his age. Which was saying a lot because he had only been around 28 years. And hade been adventuring 10 of those.

Sometimes it was relaxing for him to take a break from the norm of fighting for coin and just ramble about. He often discovered many things when he just rambled about. He did not doubt he would do so today as well. He came into a small clearing with a great big log in it. The log was huge enough to even fit his bulk if he got on his hands and knees. From the log a myriad of smells came. One stood out though. He smelled the sickly sweet scent of Norwood Fungi. That would sell for a high price among alchemists. The elves guarded the stuff religiously.

Arthur got down on his hands and knees and went into the log. It was big enough for him and then some and there were a myraid of insects that dropped on him as he went in. But he paid them no mind. He went deeper into the log until he found the fungi. It would have been dark for someone without his eyes which could see in the darkest of places. He managed to pull out his sack and started putting oddly shaped and colored fungi in it. He was about done when heard a commotion outside. Someone or something was running from something big and hungry.

Arthur just managed to turn himself around and started to head out. He saw a jaquar over the cover of the log and he could hear its jaws snapping at the thing on top. His hand went to his blade in case the big cat noticed him. It however flinched and Arthur could hear the dire bears growl in the distance. The big cat ran off its tail tucked between its legs. He took his hand off his sword and the log moved with his movement as it had done earlier when he turned around .

A freckled face girl peered down into the log here eyes adjusting to the darkness of the log. Arthur knew she could see him. He said," Hello mam. Nice night aint it. Bet that cat gave you quite the scare. If I had known it was after a person I might have acted quicker and killed the thing but I thought maybe it was after a deer or something. Glade that dire bear growled cause then I would have been making a big mistake."
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((Funny he should mention it chasing a deer...I shall have a post up shortly. XD))

Her bright-red hair framed her face like the bark of a tree’s trunk, her features staring at the person talking from amid them. Still she said nothing, but she did finally blink - the kind of blink that only big, round eyes could make. Those eyes held much: slight fear, of course, for this person was unknown and it was unusual to find a person inside a log (though she had often been inside them herself); but also a small bit of excitement and wonder, for now her curiosity was taking hold. What was this person doing inside the log? Was he looking for something? Mushrooms, perhaps? They often grew inside such logs as this one, and they were highly sought-after for their medicinal properties; but her wide eyes did not shift from the face of the person. Her nose twitched a couple of times, for she smelled something…odd about him. He definitely wasn’t a cervitaur, a satyr, or a centaur. No, the last was the most ridiculous by far; his legs were all wrong for that. Also, he had odd hooves; the shape was weird. So what was he, then? A hunter? She hoped he wasn’t a hunter. But he had said he would have killed the jaguar. Then again, had it threatened her and had she her spear in her possession at the moment, she would have been bound by survival to do the same.

But she had never killed anything in her life. At least…not people or animals. Plants, maybe, as they did technically die when plucked. But still…

“What are you?” she said meekly without thinking, her voice somewhat high but soft.

She was still leaning a little to the right, her hand upon the edge of the log for support, when she asked this. The beetles were still crawling about her arm and shoulder, one hidden partially beneath her hair and one seemingly trying to burrow into it. She hadn’t meant to speak; it had just…happened. Perhaps her innocence had led her to speak, or perhaps her ignorance of the outside world and its many curiosities. But she wasn’t taking it back, for she had already spoken, and words are a very difficult thing to retrieve once released. So she simply stared, blinking rarely, at the oddity of this person possibly hunting for mushrooms (or maybe he had just been sleeping) in the log she had just tripped over.
Edited by Ceryneia, Mon May 7, 2018 3:56 pm.
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[I know right. I know what a cervitaur is. Half-deer half-human almost like a centaur.]

The girl looked at him and Arthur smell fear from her, and a myriad of other scents from her. That might have been from the big cat or it might be from him. Arthur could understand both. He was an unknown to her. So possibly dangerous. Well Arthur was dangerous just not to her. She asked what he was not an entirely odd question. The problem was the answer was complicated.

Arthur would not admit out right that he was dragon even if only half. People often grew fearful or hateful because they saw people like him as abomination. Of course Arthur had spent most of his life changing that perception. Though people themselves did not often change. No he would tell her not until he was sure she would not react badly. Arthur replied jokingly," I am a log dwelling heffalumpf. Surely you have heard of us." He chuckled at that and said," Sorry bad joke on my part. In truth I am a man from outside the forest. I was collecting some fungi from in the log when you and that big cat came along."

He then said," So what are you then? A outer log dwelling cat food or something else? Sorry another bad joke. And if you don't mind could you move so I can get out. I am starting to feel a little cramped".
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Ceryneia blinked at the person again and stared for another moment before leaning once more out of view, taking her new beetle-friends with her. She carefully extracted them before shifting her hair behind her and placed them upon her arm once more, where they crawled up and climbed into her hair once more. One of them settled atop her head and began to poke around a bit harmlessly, while the other one seemed to have a death grip on the various curls that actually gave it tremendous climbing potential for such small creatures. She liked the beetles; they were fun to look at and play with. But right now, she stood and stepped back, checking carefully to make certain she wasn’t going to trip again. It was bad enough being clumsy around her own kind and even negating her spear before leaving the grove, but before a person who wasn’t even a cervitaur and knew nothing of her, that would have been mortifying.

Ceryneia was not typically a guest of trades with centaurs or satyrs and fauns, lest she embarrass the grove.

She cocked her head, watching the log as she stood, wondering what the person would look like when he came out. Had she known the log was there, she probably would have plucked it clean herself; she likely would have found it eventually, coming this way. But that would have been some time, and the person likely would have been long-gone by then - with her mushrooms. She could have tracked the person, of course, but she probably would not have bothered. What was gone, was gone. But she had stumbled upon this tiny clearing, barely five feet across and barely double that from one end to the other - shaped rather like an eye, really - while being chased by a jaguar. She hadn’t come upon it intentionally. Besides, the person was far more interesting than the mushrooms right now.

Ceryneia’s eyes blinked and rose as the beetle atop her head started hanging over the edge, teetering and about to fall. She pushed it up a little and guided it back atop her head before her eyes lowered once more. She could still feel her other new friend climbing through her hair. She didn’t mind. It was kind of funny, actually. But she mustered what focus she could and spent it on the log before her and the person within it…for now.
Edited by Ceryneia, Tue May 8, 2018 4:50 pm.
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The face disappeared from the hole and Arthur felt movement on top of the log. Arthur came out of the log. Well crawled anyway. Once out he stood up and streached out and his popping sounds could be heard as he did so. It had been big enough but he had still felt a little cramped. He brushed himself off. A few bugs were on him and some in his hair. He got them out. He raised the heat in his body a little thanks to an ability he had and bugs scrambled out of his clothes. He got rid of them as well. Once that was done he lowered the heat. And sighed and said," Much better. Not so cramped up and no more crawlies. Not the best of sensations them rummaging all over everywhere".

He turned around and saw the girl. Well girl might not be the best word. She was girl from the waist up but deer from the waist down. A cervitaur she was or he was no half-dragon. He had seen only a few and those from afar. They were a secretive waist by some accounts. Avoided humans and because he looked human him. He whistled and said," Well I'll be. A Cervitaur. That might explain the big cat. Only ever seen your kind from a distance. Secretive, avoid humans, so I can understand. Still never really expected to run into one by accident."

Arthur ran his hand through his long hair and then said," I am Arthur by the way. Arthur Mandraeg. And its a pleasure to actually have met a Cervitaur. I have been around the world more times than I can count and this the first chance I have ever had to actually speak to one of you".
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When he finally popped out, he seemed rather annoyed by all the creatures that had joined him in his mushroom excursion. Ceryneia could feel the heat rolling off of the log-dwelling heffalumpf-man and involuntarily took a step back, wrinkling her nose at the sudden odor of his body now permeating the air; the heat itself was uncomfortable enough without the stench. Finally, he whistled and spoke. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and hair seemingly spun of strange golden light; his eyes were…odd. A human girl might have called him dreamy had it not been for his eyes.

“Do all log-dwelling heffalumpf-men look like you?” she wondered aloud as the beetle burrowing into her hair suddenly peeked out somewhere near her left ear; the other beetle seemed to have settled atop her head, near the back, and was watching quietly. The beetle near her ear swiftly followed suit, settling down and watching.

The log-dwelling heffalumpf-man had said it was a bad joke, though she didn’t know what that meant. He had laughed slightly as well, however. Perhaps saying what he was had been a word-prank? Ceryneia knew all about pranks, of course; she had suffered many herself, though she had also retaliated with a few. Word-pranks were something else again, a play on words or a riddle or a story meant to amuse or confuse. If being a log-dwelling heffalumpf-man was a word-prank, she didn’t understand it. But she did know that she wasn’t food for a cat. The bear she no longer see in the distance had seen to that, even if it hadn’t done anything to the jaguar.
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The Cervitaur girl asked if all log-dwelling heffalumpf men looked like him. He laughed at that. She had taken him serious. He should have known better than to joke. He should have known that kind of humor might have been lost on someone like her. Still the attempt had been made and had to be rectified. Arthur said," Lass it was a joke. Not meant to be taken seriously. I thought to make you laugh. I am human just a normal person. Heffalumpf's don't exist at least not to my knowledge. And as do all men look like me. No they don't some are taller, shorter, wider, thinner, stronger, weaker, not all of us are alike. I am one of a kind just like everybody else."

A paradox that but one that dominated life. Arthur then said," So you must be out here by yourself. Else that cat might not have gone after you. From what I understand y'all tend to stick closer together. Or am I wrong". He then thought for a moment and said," Sorry I don't mean to ask you those questions but I am an explorer-adventurer. So when I run across something new its hard not to want to know all I can".
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