• PM To Join • [Krome] Monkey Business

The only thing worse than being held captive, is being held captive by a mandrill.

The seven Duchies of Central Rynmere and their respective baronies, cities, towns, villages, and landmarks each overseen by a Duke of one of the seven noble families and ultimately controlled by the King of Rynmere.
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Alexa
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[Krome] Monkey Business

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55th Trial of Zi'da
Arc 716
8th Break


Alexa might as well have been a character in an old wives' tale. Her circumstances were certainly fantastical enough. Few could boast a story in which they were knocked out while wandering the woods, carried off like a helpless damsel, and held captive in an obscure cavern guarded by a primitive man and his mandrill henchman. Only a couple of days had passed since her kidnapping and her reality seemed to surprise her each morning she woke still. So far, the routine hardly differed. More often than not her day began with the creepy, staring glare of the blue and red painted primate mere inches from her face. A defiant flinch of her hands or feet in his direction was usually enough to ward the animal off by a few feet, though she was swiftly reminded of what peril he was capable of when he bore his long fangs thereafter.

"Don't wander the woods alone, children. You'll be hit over the head and kidnapped by a crazy hermit and his rainbow-assed pet," the Burhan girl muttered, narrowed her eyes at the ape, and crossed her arms across her chest. The hermit that made the cave his home wasn't about, and she quickly deduced that her lack of restraints must be attributed to a trust the man had in his companion. She pressed her lips together and her golden eyes darted toward the cave opening. To that gesture, the mandrill stomped and once more reminded her of his teeth. Tala, her wolf companion, had been evidently unable to defeat the primate. Alexa could feel Tala's spirit present, but she had no illusions about over-powering her present captor without certain injury that could inhibit her ability to flee from the hermit upon escape. Nonetheless, Karem's favored had grown tired of the bare cavern walls and the foul smell of the monkey within tight quarters.

"I'm going out," Alexa stated foolishly yet firmly with her gaze set on those of the intimidating, violent ape. The animal blinked at her meaningless words. She started to rise and turn her body toward the exit. Coupled with her stare, the mandrill took offense. The ape pounded at the floor and beat his puffed out chest madly. Alexa shakily retrieved the hand-axe in her belt before she gestured toward the dying fire to the back of the dwelling. "It's cold. More firewood." Again her statement was met with no evidence of comprehension.

Her intentions were undoubtedly to free herself from blatant captivity, it was true. Yet her statement remained fact. The man's pile of lumber was dwindling and the cold season demanded more consumption than any other. "It's not like I would know where to go anyways." It was that statement that wounded the girl the most. When she's abandoned the thought of approaching Fort Krome, Alexa had a vague sense of the direction she was heading. Being knocked out and dragged through new territory left her at a severe disadvantage. Even if she did escape, she had to admit doubt that she'd feasibly last long on her own.

She took a slow step toward the exit, heart accelerating in her chest. The mandrill stirred at the movement. Another step. Only the creature's eyes followed her. Gradually she found her cautiousness won her privilege to the opening where she recoiled at the blistering wind that could reach her then. "Tala?" Alexa tried to communicate silently to her companion with eyes glancing about the outside world. The monkey followed stubbornly close to her heels. "Here," Tala returned her call to spread a warming sense of relief within the girl. Alexa glanced back curiously toward the ape that had apparently elected not to impede her free will. As she exited the dwelling altogether, it became apparent the creature was content to be her chaperone at the demand of his master. "Whatever. Let's go."
word count: 676
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Alexa
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Alexa wandered aimlessly into the morning light of the quiet forest. Few signs of other animals seemed to be readily apparent in the fresh layer of snow, most likely the product of the mandrill and his master's residence nearby. There was no scent of smoke in the air besides the dying fire she'd left behind. As from as the eye could see, there was nothing but towering trees and white-frosted brush. When she paused in her pacing there was no greeting of familiar Krome singing and celebration she'd once always heard as a distant echo when she first entered the region. The revelation of her current isolation was polarizing her very own thoughts. How was it she could be relieved to be far from those she could do harm as she intended, and yet feel a creeping terror now that it would seem rescue from her circumstance was unlikely.

The mandrill navigated in the girl's wake on all fours proudly. Now and then he'd stray before he seemed to remember himself, eyes looking curiously upon his master's captive as if trying to decipher her intentions. Several trills later the Burhan girl seemed to choose her first victim. It wasn't a very tall or wide tree, but a single touch to its flesh signaled the hard exterior would provide the resistance the girl craved. Alexa positioned herself before the tree and took his hand-axe in both hands. The mandrill blinked at the weapon in her hands and bore his teeth nervously when its silver edge struck bark. Chunks of the tree's exterior flung away when Alexa retrieved the axe from it. The ape leaped onto the tree to quickly shimmy up to a thick branch from which he could perch to watch her. Seeing him up above, Alexa couldn't help but fight a smile at the thought of what was later to come.

The girl set to work swinging into the tree again, and again, and again. Each stroke came with more energy and effort. The sound of her weapon wounding the tree with a dull thud provided motivation for the next assault, and the use of such a familiar, productive force was the only satisfaction she'd earned in recent memory. All her frustration bubbled to the surface like a dam within her had broken. Her working grunt had turned into furious yells. Sweat beaded across her forehead and plastered some of her hair to her face. Before long her efforts drove through the tree's center and a final kick to the tree yielded a series of telling snaps.

The mandrill's irritation stirred as the tree began its tremble and subsequent violent tip, and the creature barely managed to hustle down the falling trunk and bail before the loud crash. Any instinctual inclinations to punish the girl for chopping down his perch was paused by the menacing snarl that erupted unexpectedly from Alexa's side. Tala crept forth to flank the girl with teeth bared and haunches raised. The ape returned the gesture with a wide grin Alexa no longer dared mistake for a friendly smile. Yet despite the shows of aggression, neither animal dared make the first move to escalate their encounter into another fray.

Their last battle ended with Tala's temporary disappearance following grievous wounds. The wolf's reappearance lacked the presence of outstanding wounds that would've been expected to remain on her flesh unhealed, which revealed Tala's unique ability to recuperate with time that had never been observed in con specifics outside her pack. Alexa had her doubts the ape possessed such an advantage. No doubt Tala could wreak havoc upon the mandrill over time until he simply had no hope of defeating the wolf any longer. The epiphany was tempting but quickly shaken away. Never could she come to exploit a loyal companion from Karem's pack bestowed upon her by the immortal herself.

"Leave him," Alexa commanded Tala breathlessly, her chest rising and falling while she turned her gaze toward the fallen tree. The wolf begrudgingly retired to the girl's will and reluctantly ended the belligerent display of aggression. Her bright blue eyes never left the lingering monkey even as Alexa set to the next labor of her task.
word count: 728
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Alexa
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The stump left in the wake of Alexa's lumberjacking wasn't perfectly even by any means. It was lopsided and a thick cluster of splinters on the outside still connected to the fallen trunk. Nonetheless, after a bit more hacking, she succeeded in making the stump's surface just acceptable enough to balance something upon it. "I'm glad you're alright," the girl offered sincerely to the black wolf at her side before meandering to the fallen trunk. Tala shook out her pelt while Alexa set to chopping the tree into smaller sections. "We're hard to kill." The Burhan girl couldn't help but pause to smile at that sentiment. The mandrill, on the other hand, was far less amused by the wolf's miraculous re-entry. His displays continued with a full range of screeches and chest-pounding. Now and then he seemed to test the canine, charging toward her only to harmlessly blow by. The unruly ape's antics were visibly difficult for Tala to maintain composed. Nonetheless, the wolf allowed the mandrill to win little more than a warning growl and occasional snap of her powerful jaws.

Meanwhile, the tree trunk had been broken into chunks Alexa now focused on balancing one-by-one upon the stump and splitting. Felling the tree hadn't been a very daunting task. It was certainly nothing in comparison to the behemoths of timber routinely beaten down in Burhan's thick forests. Still, it was a taxing job to undertake by one person. Lactic acid had built considerably in her arms and shoulders. Each swing was practically agonizing now. Yet her emotions were what motivated her from that point onward: her internal pain and guilt, her frustration and helplessness, her existential confusion and the loneliness that came with a lack of social ties aside from an individual she both hated and feared. Pieces of wood flew every which way and the forest became filled with the echoes of her grunts that were accompanied by every swing of the axe.

Eventually she collapsed at the foot of a nearby tree, angry tears carving down the planes of her cheeks. Her already calloused hands ached along with her muscles. The mandrill dared near her only to be greeted by the haphazard throwing of her axe in his general direction out of spite. The ape's eyes went wide and he skittered sidelong from the weapon never truly intended to strike him. He shrieked at her but Alexa had nothing left within to care what the mandrill did next. She put her head back against the tree trunk and stared up at the grey sky. "I didn't think they'd let you leave," Tala quipped before sitting back on her haunches. The Burhan girl wiped away her tears and laughed bitterly. "Neither did I. Something tells me he's not going to be willing to let you in though." The wolf snorted and stood again to shake out her pelt. "We'll see." Alexa smiled despite herself. It seemed Tala would just have to maintain the err of confidence and persistence for the both of them.

"Karem chose you for a reason. Don't let this stranger and his monkey make you his bitch." Alexa whipped her head around and narrowed her eyes at that. "I'm no one's bitch!" Tala's tongue lashed out to lick her jowls, offering the girl a sidelong look. "Then quit acting like it." Alexa stood up and placed her one hand on her hip, the other gesturing grandly to the world about them and namely in the ape's general direction. "What would you have me do?! I doubt even the Sacred Seven could find us out here, let alone find their way out if they did!" Another disapproving snort exhaled from the wolf's nostrils. "Lose the monkey for one." Alexa cast her gaze toward the mandrill with a forlorn expression. Nearby the creature was busy inspecting the hand-axe where it landed, sniffing at the head of the tool curiously. "Any ideas?" The Burhan girl crossed her arms and looked toward the wolf with more talk than action to offer. "You'll figure something out."
word count: 712
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Alexa
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Alexa rolled her eyes but then found her focus returning to the pile of wood she'd just split up for the cave's fire. It was then that an idea struck her. "Maybe," she murmured so low it seemed only Tala's ears switched at the sound. The mandrill's head snapped up from the axe the moment Alexa made her first move. "Easy, easy!" Alexa soothed the creature with slight irritation, palms up. She slowly extended a finger toward the pile of wood she was making her way toward. "Look, we're going to take the wood back to the cave for the fire. Wood. To cave?" The girl was already feeling second-hand embarrassment for herself. She pressed her lips together at the revelation she was truly trying to communicate to a monkey. "Stupid, stupid." Alexa crouched down and slowly took the axe back from the ground and tucked it into her belt. Then she set to gathering all the wood she could within her arms before making way back toward the cave. The monkey followed in her wake, staring up oddly at her while Tala trailed a safe distance back.

Once inside the cave again the timber was carefully dropped. She took a few pieces of wood and tossed them upon the fire to revitalize it. Then she returned to the pile to repeat the process. This time, as she began to gather wood to carry, Alexa picked up a piece and held it out toward the mandrill. "See? You try." The ape took the piece from her and slapped it upon the ground. She rolled her eyes, feeling the heat of Tala's stare on her back. "No! Carry! See?" She added to her pile and then offered another piece of wood to the monkey. He hugged both pieces to his chest as though mirroring Alexa. Unsure of how long she could hold his interest, and ushered him on with her back to the cave. Again the stacks were dropped before a final trip was taken back into the forest for the rest. Without instruction the ape took excitedly to the task, temporarily distracted by the novelty of it and his perception of Alexa's cooperation under his watchful eyes. The Burhan girl feigned gathering a new pile of her own just before the monkey began to head back to the cave with his pile.

"Now?" Tala's voice in Alexa's head echoed with an intonation of praise. Alexa nodded and slowly released the timber quietly onto the ground. Then she moved quietly as she could at her wolf's side as they moved quickly through the forest. A single glance over her back indicated the monkey was almost out of view and evidently unaware of her betrayal. Once he was out of vision, the pair took off. "Keep going! I'll run behind you to cover your scent. Head for the brook and don't stop. I'll break away to confuse the trail and then double back to find you." A dangerous surge of adrenaline filled the girl up. Freedom, it was a concept all up forgotten as of late but one she would soak up so long as it lasted all the same. She obeyed her wolf and Tala quickly broke away to run from view. Tired, sore, and losing steam, Alexa dedicated herself to moving until she physically couldn't run anymore.

She gave up when she broke from the trees into a snowy meadow. The girl turned and collapsed on her back, letting the white powder catch her fall. Her golden eyes squinted against the brightness of the sun that battled its way through the layer of grey clouds up above. Her chest rose and fell rapidly. Her heart continued to hammer its beat like a drum within her rib cage. Ironic laughter burst from her where she lay alone, shaking her until she was breathless. She couldn't hide from the monkey forever. Worse, the man who haunted these woods would surely catch her eventually even if she managed to evade his beast for a while. The thought of a true and ever-lasting escape was never the plan. Such an attempt would be nothing short of suicidal. All the things she needed to survive were back in the cave, most of which could not be quickly replaced or substituted. Yet this moment, this one pure moment, that the stranger could not steal away from her. This moment would be one she would own as long as it lasted.
word count: 768
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Alexa
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Tala's cocked head and blinking blue eyes stared down at her from above. "What are you doing?" the wolf inquired, tail lightly wagging behind her. Alexa moved about her arms and legs to create a winged figure in the snow beneath her. Then she stood up and stepped back to inspect her work, a broad smile on her features. "Thinking of a way to con the man like we conned the monkey," she reported back simply with a facetious shrug of her shoulders. The wolf glanced behind them only to spy a still forest. "And how do you plan to do that?" The pair began to meander slowly through the meadow as gentle snowflakes began to fall. "In a not so different way, just more...complex. A longer game."

"You're going to try to earn his trust?" Tala's ears perked up and the speed of her tail wag increased its pace.
"Exactly," she confirmed with a wink. "I don't know why he didn't kill me, but I'll continue to prove whatever worth he thought he saw the other day. I'll chop the wood to feed his fire, bring back whatever quarry we hunt down to share when his monkey isn't around. I'll play the part until he believes the role is real. Then, maybe with a little trust, the cave stops becoming so much of a prison and we get to come and go with more liberty."
"And then when you're sure he's long gone with his ape, we pack our things and go." Alexa nodded and breathed a deep exhale that was visible in a thick white vapor in the cold air. "But until then you'll be the only one truly free. I'll need you to scout the woods in every direction as far as you can. When we get away we'll need to know exactly where we're going." Tala seemed to grow uncomfortable suddenly, body tense and silence on her end persistent for several trills. "I don't see another way. When you call for me, wherever I am, I'll come back."
"I know you will," the Burhan girl praised and reached down to scratch behind the canine's ears affectionately.

"Wait," Tala bid her and paused in her step, nose flaring and eyes glancing about. Alexa frowned. "The monkey?" The wolf's ears moved about before her blue eyes looked up at the girl with a shake of her head. "Something dead." With no further need for explanation, the wolf took off in a light trot toward the scent. Alexa trudged in the animal's wake until the pair had come upon a deer carcass. It was a faun, skinny and fallen frozen in the snow. "Starved," Alexa observed by its scrawny figure and crouched beside the animal. Tala sniffed about its hide before sinking her teeth into its flesh. Her fangs tore about the creature with ease and Alexa's own stomach growled at the sight of raw meat despite the bloody mess.

The predicted call of the mandrill rose in alarm and echoed ferociously about its forest domain. With the sound came the sinking of hearts both canine and mixed blood. Of course there was a bit of excitement to be had, too. The eminent arrival of the savage's pet meant that the rouse would be on thereafter. The sooner she made actions toward her cause, the better. The monkey would be on them in a quarter break for sure. The Burhan girl elected to crouched beside the carcass when Tala had her fill and hack away at it with her axe. What was not devoured would be saved: meat, pelt, bones full of marrow, and any useful organs. It was then, just as Alexa had hoped, that the furious mandrill crashed through the trees into the meadow. She turned and raised a bloody hand in peace before quickly tossing a hunk of bright, red meat in his direction.

The mandrill snorted, shrieked, and then bowed his colored head toward the snow to sniff at the food offering. Alexa and Tala both watched hopefully. The monkey proved unable to be swayed away from the free meal despite his rage. When he gorged himself on the first piece, Alexa hastily tossed him a few more. Overall her work with the faun was an amateur butchery but it would do. With Tala's help, what could be spared from the dead animal was taken. The mandrill was quickly appeased as Alexa made the first move back in the direction of the cave. Already was the cold biting through her layers and harassing her flesh. As much as the cavern was a prison, it was a warm dwelling. She'd have to make it work until she saw her plan through.
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Alexa
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Alexa and Tala dropped the salvaged bits of the faun within the cave. Just as the pair considered, however, the mandrill quickly began to make display of aggressive behavior in an effort to usher the wolf from his home. The girl cast a meaningful stare toward her companion. Tala caught sight of her tight, golden eyes before relenting to the monkey's demands and willingly exiting the warmth of the subterranean dwelling. The creature quite literally followed the canine to the mouth of the cave and snorted proudly upon observing the volunteered submission. Then he lumbered back to keep his beady eyes fixed on Alexa and play with the bones of the faun, occasionally stealing a slice of meat or two. Routine had led the Burhan captive to predict the savage man would once again return with food to offer her, a daily gesture of goodwill that contradicted all of his other primitive behaviors. She doubted the man would be gone for more than a couple breaks. The time to perform was upon her.

Alexa picked up her boar spear from her small pile of belongings and skewered a few fat pieces of meat to the metal spearhead. A couple more pieces of wood were tossed upon the fire to bring the flames to life. Then she merely tipped the spearhead just over the fire to slow-cook the meal while doing minimized damage to her weapon. The ape was noticeably more fearful of the larger flames and scampered back away from its glow with unhappy shrieks. "What's the matter? Afraid of a little fire?" Alexa couldn't help but tease the creature, taking a small piece of flaming wood from the fire with her free hand and reaching out toward the ape with it. The monkey gave another shriek and retreated further toward the exit of the cave. His jaws unhinged to reveal his angry fangs and Karem's favored did likewise with a rabid grin.

Before long the meat was cooked to a level where the girl felt confident it could be safely eaten. She pulled the spear away from the flames and tested her work with a careful bite into the meat. The juice within was still far hotter than she expected, bringing the girl to open her mouth to let the heat escape once she felt it lightly burn her tongue. Nonetheless, the venison was delicious. Her stomach growled in demand for more and her golden eyes nearly rolled back in her head with each bite. With the flames still high she could safely bet the monkey wouldn't dare make too many more attempts to swipe the remaining meat. Thus, the famished girl fell back against the wall of the cave and gorged herself on her small meal while the monkey paced in frustration a ways away.

"You really think this will work?" Tala voiced her doubt from the outside. Alexa shrugged her shoulders out of the wolf's view and chose to reply in similar silence, "It has to." Her companion had no response to the truth of such a statement, and after several trills Alexa moved toward further productivity. "He'll be back soon. Maybe if you take off now you'll be able to scout a ways in one direction before he returns." She watched the great black silhouette of her wolf pass obediently by the mouth of the cave as Tala raced off into the forest without a single qualm. The Burhan girl set to her next task.
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Alexa deprived the fire of much-need nourishment until the intensity of its flames lowered into that of a truly modest blaze. Only then did she take one of Sky's stone bowls and empty the contents of one of her waterskins into its center before placing it atop the fire. The faun's salvaged bones were dropped one-by-one into the warming water and covering the bowl with a flat slab of stone. She pursed her lips as she eyed the sitting bowl. Without other ingredients, it was bound to be bland.

The Burhan girl and her captor were nearly as thinned as the starved faun she made their next meal out of. They would need more tissue surrounding their bodies if they hoped to retain much body heat at all necessary to survive the coming cold and perpetual twilight. A broth of marrow was not the most delicious start, but it was a start all the same. Besides, it was the preferred alternative to snacking on wolf carcasses like Sky had in the recent past. On the day she sunk her fanged teeth into flesh of Tala's conspecifics, she'd happily take Karem's axe as punishment.

The lowering of the fire and the scent of food began to draw the mandrill back in. Still visibly agitated by her previous, treacherous antics, the animal was pacified by the food she'd offered him for his trouble. His beady eyes were all but glued to her while she sat near the blaze waiting for the bones to boil. Both their eyelids seemed to grow heavy with the fading daylight and energy exerted. Falling asleep for more than a break or two was a rare phenomenon since the beginning of her captivity. Fear and distrust kept Alexa's state of alarm nearly always on high, especially when Sky was around. Yet now a sense of content stirred by hope had wrapped its comforting tendrils around her.

The Burhan girl had a plan. Whether the plan was a good one or not would depend on its execution. She didn't know if her captor would ever lower his guard. She wasn't sure he could be swayed by false perceptions of her willingness to contribute or resignation to her situation. Moreover, even if she did escape, evading the master of the forest was a laughable endeavor. All that kept her optimism alive was Tala. She'll find the way out, the right way to go. I know she will, I know she will, I know she will, Alexa assured her repeatedly in her thoughts. Perhaps if she thought the sentiment enough she'd come to truly, whole-heartedly believe it.
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[Krome] Monkey Business

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Alexa


Points!:

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: NA (solo thread)
Structure: 5/ 5
Knowledge:

Axe (Handaxe): Swinging and aiming
Axe (Handaxe): Hitting the same place more than once
Cooking: Faun
Detection: Noting local animal life in your surroundings
Discipline: Not running when afraid
Endurance: Continued physical labour
Endurance: Repetitive tasks in the cold
Endurance: Adrenaline helps
Fieldcraft: Chopping trees
Fieldcraft: Splitting logs
Fieldcraft: Camp cooking
Running: Snow covered ground requires more effort
Strength: Repetitive movements to build muscles


Loot:
NA
Fame:
+2 (good deds)
Devotion:
Karem: +5 (survive a difficult situation), +10 (use every part of an animal you can)
Magic:
These points may NOT be used for arcana

Overview:

General comments. Really interesting thread to read, I enjoyed it. You are painting a very clear story and I love your writing style.
Story All good - cohesive and clear, you got a really good mixture of thought, dialogue and deed. Very balanced. Like it!
Structure No problems!


Please do PM me if you've got any questions
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~~Red in hoof and claw... ~~
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