An Expedition

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An Expedition

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3rd Trial of Season, Arc 718


Signing
"Signing while speaking"
"Speaking"

The weather had not shifted since Quiet's arrival.

Gray.

Overcast.

Featureless, barren, gray.

Quiet's discovery of Quacia was met with mixed emotions, which had not faded in the 16 or so hours he had spent on its streets.

He had anticipated desolation, and only desolation, to be found on the old land.

If he had found a town, he imagined it to be as prosperous as New Haven. Perhaps more so. He imagined an old world worthy of a story to tell. But these ruins, this dirt, the stone and the broken method these people choose to operate, it felt unreal in such a way that Quiet had wished it was.

The wildlife was no where to be seen, and when it was, abominations took the place of the beasts of typical circumstance. It was difficult to picture a world in which the state of nature surrounding its inhabitants was unable to grow as intended by natural hand.

Quiet felt disgust.

And as his staff clicked against the cobble, and Quiet absorbed for himself his new surroundings, he felt himself not unimpressed, but underwhelmed. If this is what the outside world had to offer, it would be better for his people to remain.

"Eu não me importo, você precisa encontrá-lo!" He heard, in the direction of Quacia's borders.

The voice, in its desperation more than its volume, stood out to Quiet. In desperation for any sort of emotion, in desperation to see more than the gray day-to-day slumming movements of a uninterested people, Quiet moved towards the sound.

"Ele está vivo! Ele não morreria, eu sei que ele não morreria!" The voice continued.

As Quiet entered visibility of the individual causing the ruckus, he was met with an odd sight.

A young boy, no more than thirteen, pleading with a larger man in armor. That larger man, he reminded Quiet of the others in this town. Uncaring.

That boy, however.

Maybe hope wasn't completely dashed.

"Por favor senhor! Eu sei que você pode ajudar!" The boy pleaded.

The larger man sighed. "Encontre-me um voluntário para encontrá-lo. Não apenas seu irmão, mas todos os homens. Faça isso e eu vou ajudar." He said.

The boy was giddy, jumping, as if he had found a solution, and, in spite of himself, Quiet smiled.

Then the boy's eyes locked with that of Quiet's, and that boy's smile grew wider.

Quiet nodded, smiling a bit more, and waved just bit.

Then the boy pointed at him.

"Ele! Ele consegue!" The boy exclaimed, tugging on the larger man's sleeve.

Immediately, the man turned to face Quiet, who was made aware, just as immediately, of the armaments which the man carried.

"Você." The man demanded. "Você vai ajudar esse menino?"

Quiet's smile faded, unable to understand the situation, but knowing now that trouble may find itself his companion soon enough.

The larger man looked down at the boy, then back at Quiet.

"Cinco homens desapareceram do lado de fora de Quacia na noite passada. Um deles era o irmão desse menino. Você vai encontrar os homens?" The man asked.

Quiet felt his throat catch, although no words left him. He said nothing. After a moment of silence, he placed a hand on his chest. "Quiet." He said, assuming an introduction.

"Oh!" The man said. "Ele está com morte cerebral! Escolha maravilhosa para um guerreiro, garoto." He said, patting the boy's head. The boy's smile had faded. "Você fala Common?" He asked.

Quiet struggled to understand.

"Com-mon. Você fala Com. Mon."

"Yes." Quiet responded.

"Perfeito." The man said.

The larger man pointed to a passerby, a man around the relative age of Quiet. "You! This asshole can't speak right, do you speak Common? Can you translate for me? He needs to be sent outside the borders."

Quiet turned to the man newly addressed, silently hoping for assistance.
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Re: An Expedition

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Two trials had passed since the season had shifted, and already the people of Quacia found themselves faced with uncertain – but familiar – circumstances. While they had all been advised to remain within the walls of the city, some – those that could afford to do so - had gone so far as to hire their own personal protection; they called it a precaution, but it only really served to make everyone else all the more unnerved.

Mads didn’t notice any of it.

Fear was something he hadn’t felt in a long while - in fact, he didn’t really feel much of anything at all. It allowed him a relative state of comfort, a peace of mind, an objectivity above and beyond emotion. It also made it difficult to feign interest in anything he wasn’t particularly invested in.

When the dragoon called him over, Mads obeyed without question. There were rare times in which it was appropriate – even beneficial - to play a bit coy with the secular enforcers of the king’s decrees, but most often, it was better to bow one’s head and do what was asked.

“Como posso ajudá-lo, senhor?” His voice was soft and unassuming, but it carried loudly enough there was no question from whom it came. Bright grey eyes studied the darker, richer earth hues of the other man’s weathered skin. A neatly trimmed beard was, by far, the man’s most prominent feature: glossy, black, and tapered to a carefully groomed point. It bobbed up and down as the man spoke, voice gruff but not unfriendly as he briefly explained the situation.

With a curious raise of his brow, Mads’ gaze settled on the even darker skinned man who stood with staff in hand and looking... alone. He didn’t seem so foreign as to not be one of the downcast faces that ever roamed the streets of the broken city, but he had no reason to doubt the dragoon. Taking in the man’s stern but interested expression, the suggestion of an athletic musculature beneath his travel-worn garments, and the ever-ready nature of his posture, Mads decided the most suitable expression to wear was that of a thoughtful frown.

The child glanced between the newcomer and his hopeful champion, eyes wide but knowing better than to open his mouth when things were seemingly going his way.

Still staring unabashedly at the other man, Mads addressed the dragoon with the same smooth respect in his voice. “Eu farei o meu melhor, senhor, embora eu também tenha sido criado para falar a língua adequada.” He politely smiled out the second half of his sentence, eliciting an amused grin from the dragoon.

“Ótimo.” Gripping the boy by his little shoulders, the dragoon pushed him forward some, into the spotlight of the trio’s attention. “O irmão desse garoto fazia parte de uma festa de reconhecimento que enviamos esta manhã. Acabamos de ouvir que todo o grupo foi eliminado - tenho certeza de que você pode adivinhar o que aconteceu.” His voice lowered a bit at that, and the boy’s wide eyes flashed with defiance.

“Estou te dizendo, ele não está morto!” Though he spoke loudly, brashly, there was just the slightest waver of doubt and fear.

Mads ignored it. “E esse estrangeiro está sendo recrutado para ... o que exatamente?” There was only a need for clarification in his voice. He, like most Quacians, considered foreigners as expendable as any other animal – perhaps even more so given his unique upbringing.

With a nod, the dragoon continued, hands no longer on the boy’s shoulders as his left began to absently twist at the very bottom of his bead’s point. “Eu disse ao garoto que, se ele conseguisse convencer alguém a ir lá para ter certeza de que o relatório é preciso, eu permitiria.” It seemed reasonable enough to Mads.

Drawing a slow breath in through his nose, he turned to finally directly address the dark-skinned foreigner. It was rude to keep people waiting, but foreigners weren’t really people. “Hello. Mine name Mads. You helping boy?” A carefully aimed finger denoted what it was he was speaking about. “Boy-“ He paused, searching for the word. “Boy sister no here. Boy sister… there.” With a vague sweep of his hand, he gestured toward the city’s wall – not too far a walk from where they stood – and beyond. “You going. You finding sister, finding… finding friends, yes?”

Both the dragoon’s and the boy’s eyes focused intently on Mads’ face as he continued.

“All maybe died. You going. Can no staying. He sending you, you going. Okay?” The effort needed to translate everything he’d been told so quickly and so casually had left his face entirely emotionless as he spoke – save for the ever-present glimmer in his eyes, the glimmer of intense perusal. In what seemed an afterthought to those who watched him, Mads’ visage quickly – almost too quickly – brightened into a warm smile. “You coming... here. Going there, finding friends, coming here. Wow, very good!”

The dragoon nodded, realizing the translation had been completed, and the boy stared up at the foreigner, his smile wide, grateful, and oddly demanding as he chipped in a hopeful, "Você vai me ajudar, certo?"
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Quiet
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Signing
"Signing while speaking"
"Speaking"

"You say speech?" Quiet asked, unbelieving and relieved. "I speak alone here, but then you."

Quiet smiled slightly, but for only a moment.

The people here were odd. It was more than their language, however. It wasn't even their odd skin or hair color, no doubt bleached by the Cataclysm which caused Quiet's ancestors to depart long ago. It was how they behaved. How alien smiles seemed to be to them. Rarely, if ever, would a face contort from its deadpan expression to anything worthy of mention. This child's face had. So had this man's.

It was entirely possible that this man, called to translate, was unimportant, ultimately. That he was unnecessary to Quiet's mission - even this seemingly simple task.

But Quiet thought of Sweet. Thought of Big. Thought of Patient.

Quiet thought of home.

Perhaps being alone was not the optimal way to carry out duty.

"Mads." He said, placing a hand to his own chest. "Quiet." He said, signing his name.

Quiet looked Mads in his eyes, noting the gray tones.

Quiet looked towards the gates, then back to Mads.

"Finding sister is thing I can do." He said, matter of fact.

It had been just a trial since Quiet's last experience in the Quacian wilderness. His body still ached from the trial's events, and he wasn't entirely keen on returning. At least, not without assistance. With that realization, Quiet sighed, gripping his staff tight.

"No. Will die by self." He said. He looked towards the gates. He felt the wind at the back of his neck, encouraging him to assist. He looked at Mads, knowing what he desired to say but unable to find the correct words to say it in his limited tongue, struggled with his thoughts. "The Gift is not enough."

As Quiet signed the word 'gift', a small blast of warm air blew in Mads' direction. Not powerful enough to phase him, not powerful enough to even disrupt his hair, a zephyr, but, hopefully enough to deliver the message Quiet hoped it would.

"Come with. Then come here. Will you?"
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Even as he turned to relay the message to the dragoon that the self-stated quiet – and equally strange - foreigner would do as he’d been told, he was drawn back to stare blankly at the man’s sudden “no”. Though he was hardly fluent in Common, he wasn’t a stranger to what the clumsy language should sound like – after all, his own meager abilities were only won through evenings of reluctant practice with the Madam. It was one of the few facets of his extensive education he had found unappealing – it didn’t help that the language itself was so much more boorish than his own native tongue.

The word “no”, however, was close enough to be understood regardless of one’s linguistic capabilities.

“No?” Mads echoed, intentionally raising a brow and widening his eyes in a brief display of what appeared, more or less, as a subtle surprise. That the man worried about death was more of a minor annoyance than anything else, and he blinked once, still starting punctiliously at the foreigner, before he offered the dragoon a blithe, “Bem, ele certamente não é completamente ignorante. Ele acha que vai morrer se for enviado sozinho.”

The bearded man let out an annoyed grunt, shaking his head at the young boy whose shoulders had visibly deflated. “Parece que você está sem sorte, garoto.”

As the two exchange a meaningful stare, one almost apologetic and the other dejected, Mads continued to stare at the other man, eyes sparkling in a brief moment of genuine, unfiltered intrigue. Though he didn’t have any idea what it was the man meant to say about presents, there was the sudden unmistakable scent of ether in the air.

It wasn’t anything he was quite familiar with – there was that same general sense of power that shivered through the air-, but the unmistakable overtone of a storm just breaking swept over him, carried by a subtle gust. There were undertones of salt and sea, of cold clear sky, of silence. It was new – deliciously so.

And, just like that, the clumsy tongued foreigner became just puzzling enough that the next hobbled request out of his full but poorly managed lips was met without any sort of consideration at all. “Okay.”

Whether the man lived or died was of little concern to him; both had the potential to provide him with ample situations in which to watch how the man’s magic – and, he supposed, by extension the man himself – worked. Though the shifting of the wind screamed defiance, Mads knew better than to jump to conclusions where domains were concerned. There were many different disciplines, and plenty enough of them had no issue mimicking the effects of others.

Self-preservation, however, was a persistent hum that ran beneath the working, spinning, whirling bits of his constantly appraising mind, and Mads hadn’t failed to notice the way the man looked at the child. There was that odd connection humans all seemed to have with one another – that natural desire to protect and comfort and care for. While he couldn’t guarantee the man wasn’t dangerous, the second-best way to ensure he didn’t do anything untoward would be to lug along a little collateral.

Holding up a finger, his lips turning a polite smile that suggested an unspoken, “Wait just a moment, please.” Mads leaned down toward the wide-eyed child who turned toward him with a glimmer of weary hope in his soft green eyes. “Ele disse que precisa que você venha conosco para ajudar a encontrar seu irmão. Você sabe como os estrangeiros podem ser, sempre exigindo as coisas mais estranhas. Você é livre para dizer não, se quiser; não há dúvida de que será uma jornada perigosa.”

The boy’s face fell into a contemplative frown, brow furrowed and hands clenching and unclenching as he considered the entirely fabricated solo. The dragoon said nothing – it was clear he was nearing the end of the limited amount of interest he’d already invested.

When the boy spoke, he did so with the steady, measured pace of a man many arcs his elder. “Eu sei que ele está vivo. Se não há outro jeito ... Eu vou com você.”

“Excellente.” Mads patted the boy on his shoulder, his expression immediately shifting from the slight furrow of concern and worry to that of a welcome amiability. Once more addressing the quiet man, he gently pushed the boy so that he stood in front of him, occupying the comfortable distance between them, green eyes staring and hands shaking just slightly, knuckles white from the firm clench of his fists. “Boy saying… boy going. I saying no going, boy? Boy going. I going. Quiet man going.”

The dragoon didn’t need a translation as Mads nodded farewell. He merely waved a hand goodbye and watched them leave with the mild curiosity of a passerby.

“Você gostaria de compartilhar seu nome, rapaz?” He spoke soft and steady, clearly addressing the child who strode about a half step in front of him and to his right.

“Cecilio.”

“Ah, Cecilio. Você pode me chamar de Mathias. É um prazer conhecê-lo. E o nome desse homem é...” He paused, though he kept his pace even as the three of them headed toward the city’s gates, and spoke a bit louder – enough that the other man might easily hear him. “What is name?” Clearly, he had misinterpreted the adjective made moniker.
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Signing
"Signing while speaking"
"Speaking"

"I... Quiet. Name Quiet." He said, placing a hand on his chest, concern evident and obvious on his visage as he glanced at the departing dragoon. "Mads and Quiet go, this good. Wow, very good!" He said, imitating Mads' words from earlier to deliver the same connotation, in hopes of breaking familiar ground. "Boy... Boy come?"

Quiet knelt, observing the boy.

Observing his green eyes - a color he had never seen eyes take before.

"Boy is s-"

"Cecilio." The child repeated, placing a hand on his chest, much as Quiet had done before.

"... Cecilio." Quiet repeated. "Quiet."

"Besta." Cecilio said, placing a hand on Quiet, smiling.

Quiet smiled back. "No. Quiet."

"Besta."

Quiet laughed, not quite understanding, as he stood back up.

Cecilio looked to Mads.

"Por que não deixá-lo morrer como um animal?"

"Yes." Quiet said. "Cecilio is yes. We go together. Make Cecilio keep safe, yes?"

"Com a pequena faca que eu tenho, eu poderia cortar seu pênis ao meio com um golpe do longo caminho. Ele é dispensável."

"A good team. Wow, very good!"

Quiet turned towards the gate, nodded to Mads, and began walking, keeping himself slow so that Mads, should he know the area better, could take lead. As soon as the gate was passed, Quiet would be out of his element. In truth, he was out of his element within city walls as well, but moreso outside them.

"Thank you," Quiet offered to Mads, looking him in the eye and nodding.

It had been but a trial since his last expedition, and, if Quiet were wiser, he would have learned his lesson and remained somewhere safe.

Quiet was not wise.
Last edited by Quiet on Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 291
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Blatant realization sparked in Mads’ eyes as the name was given a second and third time. “Yes, Quiet. Boy coming.” There didn’t seem to be any resistance to the proposition, something Mads was vaguely pleased over. It was difficult enough communicating in his clumsy Common; the fewer explanations asked of him, the better. Reiteration, however, was hardly as challenging.

He tacitly observed the exchange between the other two. Though he’d operated under the assumption that Quiet neither spoke nor understood Vahanic, it never hurt to verify such things on one’s own terms. As far as he could tell from the manner in which the other man responded with a short chuckle to Cecilio’s bald-faced honesty – or perhaps it was superiority, he never really knew when it came to children -, Quiet didn’t seem to have a clue what it was being said around or to him.

Conversation was out, then.

Without missing a beat, Mads replied to the boy’s question, matching his expression to Quiet’s more easy-going smile – though where Quiet’s dark eyes swam with a tentative uncertainty behind his otherwise stern demeanor, Mads’ remained bright and attentive. “Não faz sentido desperdiçar um corpo perfeitamente capaz, não é?”

The next exchange shed a little more light on the child’s upbringing – a Quacian Heap, through and through.

He shrugged, his expression fading into a more neutral, though still carefully positive curve of the lips and lightness to his brow. “Caso surja a necessidade, ele desempenhará seu papel de escudo, como deveria. Tente ter um pouco de paciência, rapaz.” There wasn’t anything particularly condescending or commanding in his tone, but he did raise a warning brow and added a soft, “Se você vai cortá-lo, corte-o em algum lugar útil. Logo acima do calcanhar funciona melhor.”

Cecilio considered the advice and nodded, though whether he would live up to his threats or reveal them idle was anyone’s guess; his little hand patted against his pocket where, no doubt, the little blade was kept, as he fell into step behind Quiet, eyeing the back of the man’s boots with an intensity Mads supposed best not interrupted.

So, they continued on in silence. All the while Mads stared unabashedly at the peculiar mage. His thoughts considered the myriad of possibilities, but they remained just that for the time being. Until he knew more about the foreigner, the best he could do was guess blindly.

And he’d never been much of a seeker of self-satisfaction in regards to “being lucky”.

Almost reflexively, Mads responded to the sudden offer of gratitude with a polite, “You’re welcome.” Immediately after which he blinked blankly for a trill or two, uncertain why exactly Quiet felt the need to express his appreciation.

Fortunately, though he was unable to determine why – or what else he was expected to say in return to it – Cecilio interjected. His voice wavered only slightly – fear overshadowed by excitement. “Meu irmão foi enviado para explorar as trilhas no leste.” A bit more uncertainly, he pointed straight ahead. “Dessa forma, talvez.”

Outside the city’s gate, the land was black and scorched. It seemed Quacia was overdue for a burning, as there was a multitude of small, sprouting tufts of grass and bright, defiantly beautiful flowers. The plant-life was inherently unnerving, and though Mads didn’t feel fear in the typical sense, he was aware of the silent sense of danger, rustling in the gentle breeze that swept lazily over the swaying grasses.

“Cecilio saying this way. Walk on path. Grass bad.” It wouldn’t do to have the man gradually swallowed up before something truly dangerous crossed their path. “Quiet first.” Both he and Cecilio allowed the darker man to take the lead. Whether intended or not, it was clear enough that both seemed to consider him the muscle of their little group. Though what exactly “muscle” entailed was, perhaps, quite different in definition for each of them.

“Você se lembra o quão longe eles foram vistos?” Mads spoke low but conversationally, no need for a conspirator’s whisper when the only other set of ears didn’t have the sense to tell a compliment from a death threat.

“Foi... apenas sobre as colinas lá.” Just far enough to be uncomfortably risky.

“Estou entendendo.”
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Long ago, the gentle crest of a hillocks over a flat-land would have elicited little more than a quaint sense of peace and tranquility. Indeed, when Quacia had first been settled, many people had found it to be altogether enjoyable to take their families and friends with them, and to picnic out upon the many local locations. After all, there had been very little in the way of danger when the city had first been established, and even the surroundings had been somewhat paradisiac in their composition. Beyond the faintest sliver that a wild and escaped hound would cause issues, there had been nothing hidden away within the forests that might have caused trouble to the people.

They had long since learned their error.

Where once a hill was little more than a place for peaceable conversation and gathering, it had now become another separator, and a particularly dangerous one at that. If a person was assailed whilst within view of the city, after all, there was always a chance that a Dragoon patrol would be dispatched in order to assist them with whatever menace had made itself known. When vision had been lost, however, that distant hope faded into a complete absence, and a person was left entirely on their own, relying upon their own wits and talents in order to survive the hellish and pulsating landscape that surrounded them.

Perhaps the Dragoon patrols had decided that the series of hills would serve as an excellent marker for their burning operations, because it was clear even as the trio crested over the nearest knoll, they would find the path had grown decidedly more treacherous, and plant-life had begun to flourish. There were, thankfully, no trees in sight, but some of the local bushes had begun to grow in a rather worrying prominence, and a particularly thorny series of brambles shifted ever-so-slightly as the group passed by, as though it were watching them for its fibrous master.

Easily one of the most beneficial facets of the Creep’s presence was that missing persons were not necessarily dragged a far ways from the trail, at least, not unless they were being consumed by Ferahoms or else rent into pieces for sacrifice and nutriment. The small wagon which had once housed the expedition including Cecilio’s sibling was rather evident. The plant-growth had not yet consumed it, but there were tendrils of Creep which stretched onto the path, clearly quite intent on locating whatever organic material had been hidden away inside.

Closer examination of the wagon would reveal the presence of a single corpse within the carriage, its flesh already beginning to slough off of its bones in the throes of decomposition. It did not stir, nor make any motion, further confirming the absence of life in it, and a rather severe puncture had been plowed through its jugular. Altogether, the corpse appeared as though it had been present in the midst of the woods for several dozen trials, nearly all of the liquids inside of it having been mysteriously drained.

Perhaps, to a foreigner, the wounds would be unidentifiable, but the denizens and abominations of Quacia each had their ways about them, and it was not altogether difficult to discern that this particular strain of injury belonged to only a pair of entities: Frackers, and those particularly brave scum who pretended to be Frackers in order to more easily loot others. It might have been the sudden quietness around the group that alerted them to the presence of something unnatural, or perhaps it way simply the way that they suddenly felt the keening inclination in their heads to turn, to look at something that had stepped only barely into perceptible view, something that had perhaps returned in order to retrieve the remainder of its meal.

The Fracker did not care for the foliage of Quacia, and for the most part, it seemed that the Creep afforded it easy transportation through the faint and grassy locality, unbothered by its presence, not shifting towards it in the same manner that it often did with the mortal races. It possessed a strangely cerulean flesh, pock-marked hither and thither with odd indentations that seemed to serve no natural purpose. Each of its hands was tipped with a severe dagger-like talon jutting forth from its middle digit. The being was, notably, remarkably slow, but it meandered with purpose, its eyes locked on the trio as it marched casually towards them.

Yet, it was the eyes that drew the most attention. The thing’s eyes glowed so vibrantly that it was impossible to ignore them, and in fact the glow was so bright that it very nearly obscured the entirety of its head, making it difficult to perceive beyond the flash of light. And the color, the color was unnatural and twisting and it spoke of inexistence and too much existence all at the same time. The color could not be identified, nor did it exist anywhere in the world, nor was it allowed to exist anywhere in the world, and yet, even looking at the thing was intoxicating, a slew of emotions jutting forth every moment that someone peered into that unknown expanse of unnatural light.

Anyone who looked at its eyes would suddenly feel a gentle pressure in the back of their head, the sensation continuing to intensify the longer that they looked, and if they kept on? The tips of their vision would begin to darken, their eyes focusing further and further upon the color that could not exist in the eyes of the Fracker, slowly losing all vision of the world the longer that they gazed upon it.

After all, a person could not hope to stare into the abyss, and still believe that they would be capable of seeing the normal world afterwards.





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Signing
"Signing while speaking"
"Speaking"

It was now very very clear why Mads and Cecilio had placed Quiet in the front of the group.

It was also clear that a clearly present danger was very apparent.

And Quiet was the only one, to his knowledge, with a weapon.

On any other day, Quiet would have been surprised. On any other day, he would have seen this creature, a beast beyond the laws of nature his culture and upbringing had taught him to not only respect in utmost authority but uphold, a beast which defies not only those laws but exists in spite of them, and he would have been filled with a horror as eldritch as the being before him.

But today?

Quiet was annoyed.

He had been condemned to death from the moment he landed on Quacian shores, maybe before.

He had nearly perished far too many times in his mere two trials on the mainland.

The nature here was a bastardization of the environment he had known. Twisted and demented to become an ends to a means that Quiet couldn't comprehend nor desired to attempt to.

This beast, it was the next item in what would soon become a long list of grievances; tumors grown on the tortured land of Quacia.

Without breaking visual contact with the creature's body below its glowing lights, Quiet tapped the ground twice next to him with his quarterstaff, and spoke. "Mads," he beckoned, quietly, in such a way that his request would be taken more as a grim suggestion. He was asking Mads to stand with him in a barricade in front of Cecilio.

After such, he took a defensive stance with his quarterstaff, gripping it firmly, his left hand holding his staff forward, his right hand solidifying his stance in the back.

He was confident, but he wasn't ready for this.
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Both Cecilio and Mads headed directly for the wagon, their movements cautious and alert. Quacians, from the moment they could think for themselves, were well aware of the dangers of the Creep. It was a part of their lives as much as the gentle sizzle of the rain during the turning of the cycles, the cool winds that blew in from the seas, the warm blaze of the sun's heat. In this way, there was a familiarity about it - danger, but a danger known.

The body was clearly visible - unmoving and, more importantly, unclaimed. The sinewy veins of the ever hungering green had already made good progress across the overgrown path, but they had yet to reach their goal of flesh. Mads, however, had no such hindrances upon his movement as being comprised solely of sentient, grassy tendrils. Though Cecilio arrived at the corpse first, he spent only a short time staring down at the pale, rotting face before he turned at shook his head.

"Este não é meu irmão." There was relief in his shaky voice, but not the fear one would expect from a child. Death wasn't uncommon, and Mads had no doubt Cecilio had seen his fair share of it.

Silently, he nodded, assuming the words to need no translation - though he had no intention of doing so even if Quiet disagreed -, and knelt down beside the body. The wound was singular and, he supposed, relatively expected. While he'd never had the pleasure of facing a Fracker, they had always been a popular subject of conversation among those of his peer group when Graciana had forced him to interact. They were a dangerous creature and not something he was overly eager to engage with in terms of surviving; when it came to his curiosity, however, he felt the faint spark of excitement deep in the centre of his chest.

There was also the chance it was something a little more mundane and much more clever, but from what he could tell, as he examined the single puncture wound, there had been no blood wasted nor wiped away. Either the man had been killed by a very thorough band of experience highwaymen, or it was-

When he heard his name and low, warning caution of the Quiet's tone, he didn't turn around. Not yet. Instead, his hands quickly and fluidly removed the dagger from the man's fetid fingers, the scent of decaying meat disturbed wafting up to offend his nose and draw a few stray tears at the corners of his eyes. With his back still turned, Mads drew a slow breath in, ether seeping out of the careful confines of his body's contour, drifting around him in an invisible fog.

Cecilio too had drawn his little knife from his pocket, moving in nearly exactly the same way as Mads, though his hands had begun to shake.

The ether slowly settled into place, its wispy nature forming to the curves of his body, solidifying into protective layer after layer. He felt the cool drain of ether shiver through the icy spark within him, the gentle, guiding whispers of Graciana's instructions. As the replicated armour he was so familiar with began to shimmer ever-so-slightly around his person, Mads let out an even breath through his parted lips. How did the children's rhyme go again?
Slowly, slowly moves the Creep,
A crawling mass of yearning.
Slower still, as if asleep,
And eyes aglow and burning,
The Fracker whispers not a peep
As moves it undiscerning.

Don't look you, child, in its eyes,
They blaze bright, blinding, binding!
For then stare you into the guise
Of the abyss unwinding.

Guard first your eyes and then your throat,
Run far as you are able,
For if you linger in its gloat,
You too shall join its fable.
How much truth was shrouded in the unavoidable hyperbole of those old men and women who were so fond of spinning tales was difficult to discern, but the specific nature of the warnings seemed likely enough to have at least some accuracy to them. Rare was the Quacian who didn't know the rhyme, and rarer still were those who would so brazenly cast such cautionings aside.

Dagger in hand, its pommel slightly sticky from the bits of gooey, fetid flesh that had peeled away from the hand he'd extracted it from, Mads considered his options. It was clear, from what he could tell, Quiet had already looked at the thing. Whether or not he'd fallen captive to the creature's alluring gaze, it was in his best interests to assume the worst. Which left him three options: risk his own life to save Quiet's - hardly a choice at all -, escape and take Cecilio with him as bait for anything else they might come across - attractive in theory -, or gamble on the child's nursery rhyme to be accurate in all regards and wait to see just what it was Quiet's magic was capable of.

Having no sense of real fear - merely the mild realization that his life was, possibly, in danger, Mads made his decision.

"Okay! Quiet fighting now. No looking eyes." He spoke incredibly calmly, unnaturally so given the situation, but he offered a lower, though just as casual, "Looking eyes, very bad. Very dead Quiet."

Cecilio, who had come to stand beside Mads, both hands gripping his knife to the point his knuckles were white, whispered up a shaky, "Devemos correr?"

"Espere até que o estrangeiro mate a criatura." The boy glanced up at Mads quiet command, nodding in understanding. Almost as an after-thought, he blankly added on the off chance the man's magic was more impressive than a little gust of wind, "Ou a criatura o mata."
word count: 975
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Quiet
Approved Character
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:52 pm
Race: Human
Profession: Ambassador of his People
Renown: 50
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Re: An Expedition

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Signing
"Signing while speaking"
"Speaking"

It approached slowly.

With purpose unknown and nameless and malicious.

With a presence unnatural and outside and alien.

Something about the creature panicked the world around it. It panicked the air surrounding its form, the earth under its feet, because they knew it wasn’t at home here. It wasn’t meant to walk the earth.

Quiet felt it as well.

The hairs on his arms perked, an the air whistled through him like a quiet siren.

He had perhaps not seen the beast for what it is. He had perhaps not given it the inspection which someone, perhaps more forgiving than he, may have.

But he didn’t need to.

The colors he could see in his periphery disgusted him.

Insulted him.

Offended him.

His stomach was made sick by its presence, and its approach felt like a swarming of bees some place deep. Some place more connected with the world around him.

He needed it gone.

But he feared his decisions becoming irrational.

But it kept getting closer.

Mads seemed capable. Nothing he had done would have proven any ineptitude whatsoever. He seemed to be a quick wit, and in most other situations, Quiet would consider him an incredibly powerful ally.

But Quiet was the only one to bring a viable weapon.

So he swung it.

His vision averted, but his body dedicated to the swing, he choked up on the staff assothat his hands held the brim, forcing the majority of the weapon and its weight onto the beast.

It connected, although Quiet wasn’t sure where, and the forefront of the staff clamored against the side of the wagon.

In the corners of Quiet’s vision, he could see that color fade, as if the creature had bent in reaction to the hit.

It was then that Quiet felt it safe to peer at the creature directly, and his hunch was correct. It had bent in reaction.

Quiet had expected that once he was able to make visual contact, beating it down would be much easier, but as he peered upon the pale, tannish, leathery skin, stretched across thin bones, writhing as if it were made of an alien organ, Quiet felt his instincts dissipate.

He retreated, taking a step back, and urging the others to do so as well, holding out a hand in front of Cecilio. He didn’t push Mads back, however. He trusted Mads to make the correct decision necessary for the situation. The man wouldn’t get himself killed.

“If boy follows, return to Quacia slow?” Quiet asked. “Yes? Get help? Wow very good?”

He could see the creature beginning to regain itself, slowly moving its head - and its gaze - once more towards the trio.

Quiet averted his eyes.
word count: 470
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