Private Tales A-Hunting We Will Go

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Rendezvous New

Grinnell

Venari
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There was a heavy fog lingering between the trees this morning, the sun obscured behind a thin overcast haze. Some might have called it poor timing or back luck, but to the man walking through the forest, it was merely a condition, a factor in a greater plan forming in his mind. It was unnatural, summoned to compromise visibility and hearing. It was justification to his caution and cause for more.

He stopped and crouched to touch an impression in the soil. A pawprint -- one among many, but not so many that he couldn't distinguish them. His dark gold eyes darted across the tracks, adding to the mental tally he had already gathered. Tipping his head, he drew a slow, deep breath and tasted the air. There was no wind in this valley today. His quarry was ensuring that the conditions were in its favor.

A single set of paws came padding up from the side, soft footfalls announcing his companion long before he could see him. Herasmus formed through the mist, head low and sniffing as he walked up to his partner.

Grinnell stood, his hand reaching to stroke his hound's head comfortingly. A dog of equine proportions, the custos canem looked at him and then ahead, gaze following the trail of prints leading deeper into the fog.

"I know. Tomorrow. We'll get Gottfried and convene with the others, and then we'll be back to finish it." He patted Herasmus' head. Neither of them wanted to let it go, but some fights were best fought as a pack. Gottfried was waiting, Gannis was doing some investigating of his own, and Baeshor was on his way. A fight weighted in their favor.

The pair turned back, following the same path he had used coming in. The beast and its entourage were on the move; they would not turn back for a single hunter.



It was a piss poor evening. Tomorrow promised to be overcast, if not outright raining by midday. This close to the southern tip of the Reach, they were spared the snows that would be creeping in toward the Conclave in the next few weeks, but that was hardly a comfort. Grinnell and Gottfried had set up camp for the rendezvous point, but the fire was really all the Venari needed to be comfortable in the wilderness while they waited until morning.

"This will be a notch in your belt, for sure," Grinnell laughed, elbowing Gottfried as he took his seat on the log beside her. He opened his flask and offered it to her. "I think I was about your age when I fought my first legendary monster. Weren't any oldies arpund to help, though. Ought to be quite a show. Gods only know what I'd have given to get my blade in with a leshy hunt in my first field twenty."

For now it was just the two of them. Gannis was still out doing what he did best, but would be back soon to relay what he'd found to build a plan for tomorrow morning. He'd called on Gannis to help sniff out what creature's territory they were wandering into after their prey -- a very, very old leshy -- had crossed into it. One of the better trackers in the Conclave, Grinnell trusted him as well as himself in matters of tracking and deduction.

Gottfried had just been nearby. A stroke of luck on her part. It wasn't every day a young Venator could see a leshy fight. It would be the best kind of lesson the Venari could have: firsthand experience in a controlled environment.

Baeshor, well… Grinnell reckoned if he wanted to be in a fight with a bunch of wolves and a leshy, he would prefer Baeshor over almost anyone else.

"Leshen aren't the best fighters, but their nature magics are powerful and their control of beasts makes them formidable to even seasoned Venatori. They're generally harmless unless provoked, and even then are easily pacified with a sacrifice or an homage treaty with the locals. Whatever has this one riled, it wouldn't accept my attempt to pacify it. It's uncharacteristic of a leshy to be on the move like this; they are usually very tied to a territory. I've tracked this one for almost a week, and its movement is erratic, irregular."

Grinnell's hands moved as he spoke, the much smaller man monologuing very similar to a certain Maior Triumvirate who taught the advanced hunting courses.

"Normally we wouldn't put this much caution into pursuing it, but the problem is that it's moved right into the territory of something else. It looks like either a zilant or a simurgh. If you paid any attention to Peepaw's lessons, you know that both are legendary class beasts and that neither of those are things we want to rile up."

Grinnell was especially wary to upset a zilant, if that was what was nesting in this part of the Allir Reach. He stifled a shudder at the memory of his singular scrape with one. He'd earned a title from it, but he'd also been a young Venator way in over his head. A simurgh would be much easier to deal with, as sobering as that was.

"Hopefully when Gannis gets back, he can say which it is we're going to be trying to avoid when we go after the leshy. Otherwise, we'll be grateful for Baeshor -- if the big bastard ever decides to show up." He snickered and added a stick to the fire. On the other side, Herasmus lifted his head from his paws and chuffed softly, his bushy tail wagging. Grinnell threw his dog a look. "Traitor. Don't be too excited."


evening, early winter, Allir Reach
BaeshorGannisGottfried
 

Gottfried

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A small camp had been made, cloak covering a patch of ground as the copper haired woman set out her things to take stock of what remained of her materials from her latest job. Slobber idled nearby, leaning against a fallen tree to further scratch up his neck. Golden eyes cast about the contents of her gear before looking to the fire.

"Need to-" She began before the sound of footfalls caught her attention. Dangerously close, too close. How did- she began to think, hand reaching for the swords on the cloak as she saw the source of the noise come into view within moments of the reach.

"Grinnel!?" There was unabashed surprise in her tone, hand retracting from it's reach as he made himself at home in her camp readily. "What brings you out this far?"



She almost wished she hadn't asked. The offer of experience however had been far more tempting than taking a side step and avoiding this altogether. Especially coming from a seasoned Venator such as Grinnell, who had plainly revealed how he had earned the title 'First Shadow of Winter's Crest'. More interesting was the fact that he had seemingly found her with such ease. He hadn't been beating the brush looking for her, nor calling for her when he drew near.

He had known where she was.

Something she would not be forgetting anytime soon as she pondered the hunt in question. The details of the job had been shared, her interest spiking at the chance to see strange behavior in such a creature. Grinnel elbowed her, drawing her gaze away from the crackling flames before her and to him as he imitated almost perfectly one of the most knowledgeable bodies in the conclave.

She listened quietly, knowing full well how fool hardy it was to attempt to cut in on the dialog.

Processing the details, and resisting the urge to produce her journal to jot down the information, she silently watched his gesticulations. It was astounding how well he imitated the old man, making her wonder just how studious Grinnell was.

"You are stacking the deck." She let loose a twitching smile at Herasmus being excited as she continued. "Not that I am complaining. This will be enlightening." Was the final remark she made as she looked to her own custos canem, who seemed content in his spot beside her. Going on twenty years, Slobber was still in prime fighting shape with silver capped teeth to show for it.

She'd been remiss with the naming of her hound. But she had also been young, and the globules of drool upon her first encounter with the hound had prompted the name.

Something she would not be repeating with her next assigned hound as the large hound slowly fixed her with it's gaze from it's prone position. As though it could read her thoughts, Slobber chuffed, offering his own opinion on the matter of the hunt. Which prompted another twitching smile before she returned to Grinnell.

"Where is Baeshor coming from?" She finally asked, the detail finally bothering her enough to ask. She'd been told he would be arriving as soon as he could, but that didn't mute the curiosity of seeing both Grinnel and Baeshor work, or hunt for that matter.

 
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Grinnell

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"Enlightening." He laughed. "Once bitten twice shy, kid. You'll know what it's like to be in way too deep someday, and I hope you live to never make the mistake again."

Grinnell took a drink. He rested his elbows on his knees, swinging the flask just to hear the sound of the liquid sloshing inside and the cap tapping softly.

"Baeshor? From Reliquum. If he's not careful, he'll miss the excitement. He's sure taking his time about getting here," he muttered. Or the business that had him at the Conclave in the first place was slowing him down, which was far more amusing. He grinned knowingly and took another drink, then capped and stowed the flask away.

"What about you? What's got a newbie making rounds this far south? A lot of nasty besties out this way." He cast his dark eyes in Gottfried's direction, impish smile cocked to the side. He leaned in closer. "You're surely not out looking for this sort of trouble. Mamaw would disapprove. She loathes risky behavior."

// Gottfried //​
 
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Gottfried

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Amber eyes flicked over to his own choice of words. A small bite at her, but given the difference in age, one that he was fully capable of making as she frowned. She hadn't taken the drink as a matter of choice. Didn't have a stomach for it just yet, or didn't enjoy it. Either way, she didn't correct the guesses as to why she abstained for the time being.

The news of Baeshor coming all the way from the conclave had her brow shooting up. "All the way from the-if he makes it before we find the thing, I would be surprised." She scoffed. The Gate of Winter's Crest was many things, legend and seasoned Venator just as Grinnel wa-is.

The most she was known for was enjoying the swamps and marshes.

Her own Venari line, Calthurian, was notable by itself. But those two men were leagues above her in both skill and bloodlines. Even if Grinnell only had one brother, the pair of them were relatively proud marks to a dying line. Baeshor was, well, Baeshor. The world was a nail shaped problem.

Of which Baeshor was the hammer.

His next words cut off her thoughts as she waved a hand to dismiss the thoughts of risk.

"Finished a job further south and was going to restock some vials. Small villages came together when they thought an old spirit had grown tired of their offerings." She chuffed before she spoke again. "It was a fat, gray bear who barely had any teeth left."

"Poor thing couldn't eat and it looked to be in pain."
She emphasized her point by pointing to her stomach before frowning. "Made it quick as I could. Damned thing was fast for how big it was."

 

Grinnell

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"Ah. Well, you'll have those. No sense in letting them get you down." Grinnell shrugged. "Not every job can be as glamorous as hunting feral griffins or subduing the wrath of leshen." Like either of those prospects could be considered glamorous. Only to the dark Venari sensibility, perhaps. He laughed again, prone to laughing at a little too much.

"So long as all goes well, I'll be traveling back toward home when this is over. Since it can't be helped, I might as well bring some gifts back for Rikket. It's not every day he can get his hands on leshy ingredients and I hate wasting shit like this. You come back with brain matter from a leshy's wolves and you'll make him so happy he might be willing to part with some of those top shelf oils for bottom shelf coin."

Everyone knew his connection to the Conclave's alchemist. It wasn't exactly a secret -- was quite the opposite, actually. They were brothers, as far as Venari were concerned; the two had come up through the ranks closer than most, a class with only two abdication survivors. He made no bones about using his relationship with his "big brother" where it suited him, especially where it benefitted his friends inside the Conclave.

"You gonna head back to winter at Reliquum this year? It's about that time again. I hear there's work in Liadain to be had between the Falwood and the savannah -- if you feel brave enough venturing so close to Vel Anir." He issued a challenging smirk. They both knew damn well that to venture too close to Dreadlord territory was to have a death wish.

// Gottfried //​
 
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Gottfried

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Not every job can be as glamorous hunting feral griffins or-her eyes were sharply focused on him. Nothing about the job was really glorious. Nor was it worthy of laughing in her opinion. But she saved those opinions for another time as he spoke.

He asked about wintering, and she while she had given it some thought, she hadn't defined where she was going to be.

"Most likely. Been away long enough as it is." She shrugged, watching Slobber harumph his way to the ground in a swift motion. "And Vel Anir can suck an egg. We've done naught to earn their ire but exist, and we are far more useful than they." She hissed.

 
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Gannis

Venari
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Gannis drew his finger slowly along the jagged edge of the wound. He never wore gloves. The cold didn't reach him. He could walk through a hailstorm with barely a care.

He sniffed the wound and gave a small grunt of satisfaction. There was no need to find the layer of this beast, its stench was all over the remains of its latest quarry.

Gannis looked to the skies, just in case. He did not feel the cold, but he did not feel the pleasure of a warm hearth either. After his half-botched change the lustre had been ground away from his life.

What he felt most keenly was the hot rage from everything that had come before the vendari had found him. It made perfect sense. During the change he had held that anger close to his heart during the transformation. It was why he had survived the night. Of course it had not been stripped away. He had that, the constant urge to shift, the thrill of the hunt. What he lacked in venari strength he made up for in pure, unleashed ferocity.

He often wondered if it was the beasts that would get him first, or one of his own kind if he lost the last shreds of humanity he held onto.

"Come, Dog," he called out. He was not very imaginative when it came to names. The pair were both the runts of their respective litters.



"Zilant," he grunted, as he stepped into the firelight. "Fed three or four days ago."
 

Grinnell

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His responding laughter was sudden, bursting forth like a gout of water from an upended pitcher. It was also wholly condescending. Gods, kids were great. The world had yet to break this one the way it eventually broke all of them. Venari didn't make it through life alright. He cackled behind his hand and shook his head.

"Suck an egg? I can think of a lot better things for them to suck on."

Grinnell was still sputtering in laughter when Gannis came striding into the camp. He didn't flinch and Herasmus only lifted his head when the newcomer spoke. It took a lot to startle any Venator with more than thirty years under his belt. One perfected being alert to shifting scents and sounds over time. Gottfried still had a lot to learn -- about more than just the big, disorderly world through which they trudged.

On the revelation he brought, however, Grinnell sobered. Zilant it was, then. Sighing heavily, he rubbed his face.

"You couldn't have come with better news? Your ugly mug was bad enough."
he asked bitterly. The playful jab was par for the course. He idly pulled his flask back out and uncaped it, staring at the fire as his mind pieced together their plan with this amendment.

"Well, Gottfried. I hope you brought a crossbow and I hope you're a good shot." He saluted with his flask and hissed a small stint of laughter. "Your new job is to kill wolves and watch our backs. We're going to cause a ruckus, but hopefully it will have business elsewhere tomorrow. This is where the leshy's trail ends, before it gets to the villages southeast of here."

He took a bracing sip and turned back to Gannis. He didn't extend the same offer as he'd given to Gottfried. They weren't unfriendly, per se, but he certainly wasn't trying to be Gannis' buddy. They'd work together and go on their way as usual.

"Any estimation on how far out the nest is?" The further away the better, but he wasn't expecting any good news where this hunt was concerned. They'd prepare for the worst outcome, as was the Venari way. Fortunately for them, Grinnell was always prepared.

// GannisGottfried //​
 
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Gannis

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Gannis didn't react to the jibe at all. He found a place to sit within the firelight. Dog was circling the camp, giving everything a good sniff. Many creatures would not dare approach the firelight, more still would leave at the scents of the gathered Venari and their hounds. A Leshy had no such qualms, but it was hopefully not so close.

"No," he responded, eyes still on the fire. "It slept off its meal and took to air again. We could be within its hunting range. If it is well fed I would not expect it to be circling far. Saw no traces of big packs of prey it'd follow."

Gannis offered a shrug of his slender shoulders. Very slowly his gaze rise from the flickering flames, settling upon Gottfried

"Who the fuck are you?"
 

Gottfried

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She watched the other show up into camp, and remained quiet as the pair exchanged banter. Grinnell explaining her role as she produced a small hand held cross bow before looking to Gannis with a small frown.

"Gottfried. Grinnell brought me along to...watch and shoot some wolves." she quietly admitted, realizing the wording that had been used to describe her duties precisely and the reason for her presence.

She wondered if she would be called upon to confirm the details of the hunt also, or just be a vague mention in the report.

Grinnell Gannis Baeshor
 
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Grinnell

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The news wasn't the best. Grinnell answered it with a disappointed grumble. They would be working on possibilities -- things he didn't like, but also things he didn't have the time or means to answer now.

"We will have a fight tomorrow no matter what. Our leshy isn't stopping, and we can't risk it going beyond this point. We track it down, kill it dead, and try not to worry about a zilant until we have a zilant."

Letting loose a heavy sigh, he stood. He wasn't happy about it, but this line of work was rarely kind. In spite of his sobriety, he cackled when Gannis finally took full notice of Gottfried.

Venari worked together often, and their organization fed on isolation, but they weren't always friendly or familial.

"And now keep a lookout for a zilant," he added with another snicker. Grinnell went to his bag, propped up beside where Herasmus was lying. Taking out two strips of dried meat, he handed one to his dog and then sat down beside him. The Venator reclined against his partner, both chewing loudly, even as the former as he continued to speak.

"Don't look so disappointed, kid. You can keep first watch tonight and tomorrow morning, bright and early after you've had a good rest, you'll get to see some experts at work and have a good story to tell the whelps this winter." He saluted with his jerky. "We'll check back in on that wounded pride after the fight."

With a final string of laughter, he leaned back and draped an arm over his eyes, not bothering with good nights or niceties, or even setting down a bedroll. They were adults; they could mind themselves and prepare for tomorrow without his instruction. Herasmus laid his head down on his paws and the pair settled in for their shift to sleep.

// GannisGottfried //​
 

Gannis

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"Gottfried. Grinnell brought me along to...watch and shoot some wolves."

"Fine," Gannis said, looking back down at the fire. No introduction was offered in return. Grinnell found this all significantly more amusing than he did.

Dog returned and found a place close to the fire. Smaller than most of his kind, he preferred some warmth on the cold nights. The waning fire was better than Gannis.

"I'm going for a piss," Gannis announced. "If anyone arrives during your watch, wake me before it kills you."

He didn't relish the idea of having to corner a Leshy. Normally they were quite territorial, but something strange was going on with this one. Gannis didn't like the unknown when it came to such beasts. The predictable was bad enough.
 

Gottfried

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First watch.

She wasn't entirely surprised. But when Grinnell had come trundling into her camp, she had expected...she hadn't truly known what to expect. Gannis made little effort in speaking beyond his report, which Gottfried mimicked as Grinnell had himself a chuckle with a few more words.

Gannis went to relieve himself, making a comment as he went that had a frown replacing the typically cheery expression she wore. If something got into this camp, it wouldn't be making it back out she thought to herself as she tended the fire, glancing to Slobber dozing near her pack against the tree.

She refrained from sighing, instead taking out her hand crossbow and doing a bit of maintenance to fill time. Filling time until it was her turn to sleep, she honed blades, checked her quarrel, restrung rope, and patched a hole in her cloak all the while listening intently.

 
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The Hunt Begins! New

Grinnell

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Grinnell had risen from his rest bright-eyed and smirking. Not that either had much to do with a good night's rest, but rather his general demeanor. He sent Gottfried off to sleep and finished out the second half of the night. Sitting silently around the dimming fire, The Venator prepared for the day's fight, sharpening knives and filing arrowheads to deadly points. He oiled them carefully and wrapped colored string behind the fletching, just before the nock, to identify which were coated with what, then made sure his quarrel was neatly packed.

Just before dawn, he booted Gottfried's feet to wake her.

"Rise and shine,"
he said, grinning. As she rolled over, he tossed a vial of oil to her. "Dragon oil. In case you have to use that bow today. Leave some for Gannis, too." He nodded to indicate the other Venator. Dragon oil was a rare resource at the Conclave, but his connection with their alchemist garnered him some special benefits.

Baeshor was going to be shit out of luck; he wasn't going to have time to use it if he got here any later. Not that he ever needed oils in a fight, bashing his way through his problems like an imbecile.

Kicking dirt into the ring to smother the few embers left of the fire, Grinnell chewed a strip of jerky and waited. Herasmus returned from the woods and he tossed the remaining half of the dried meat to his hound.

"So the plan," he began, propping his fists on his hips. "We directly follow its trail and hit it hard and fast. Clear a path through its defenses and Gottfried, you'll have our backs against any secondary waves of wolves. Under no circumstance do you try to hit the leshy. And keep an eye on the sky; we won't really have the liberty to be looking for zilants, so we'll be relying on your to spot trouble before it reaches us."

He turned to Gannis, but the authoritative tone had vanished. "You ever killed a leshy?" He almost immediately shrugged. "Bah. I'm sure you can handle it.

"Should a zilant come,"
he continued, turning back to Gottfried. "You keep the hell out of the way. Your bow can't do much, but it's better than nothing. Maintain your first objective, of keeping other shit at bay. Got it?"

Grinnel put on his pack and the heavy crossbow that was as large as the small man's whole torso. He was armed with knives on his thighs and a sword that might be considered short to Venari like Gottfried and Baeshor, but to him was perfectly decent. His skills were not in brute force.

He waited until they were both prepared, then smiled. "Ready or not, here we come."

// GannisGottfried //​
 
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Gottfried

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Grinnell rose, and Gottfried went off to catch some rest. It was peaceful while it lasted, receiving a boot in the morning as the seasoned Venator began explaining the plan. She chewed on her own jerky, throwing a few pieces to Slobber as Grinnel finalized their plan.

"Understood." Was all the more Gottfried spoke, taking a trio of bolts and applying a touch of Dragon oil to the tips, wrapping them to separate and keep them before handing the vial to Gannis.

She sinched up her pack, clicking her tongue as Grinnell spoke.

"As we will ever be."
She remarked, messing with the rope on her hip that held a meat hook tied to the end.

Gannis Grinnell
 
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Gannis

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Gannis sat before an unrolled bundle of furs. He had two short, light spears that could be thrown. They would do previous little to a Leshy, but could distract anything coming at them from the air.

The other was a longer hunting spear, a cross beneath the wicked looking blade to stop it puncturing too deep. This he oiled. His sword was shorter than those used by most venari. It had a wider, flatter blade for chopping.

Gannis didn't have the strength and skill of most of his peers. He often tracked a beast and harassed it to draw it into a trap. If he had to get up close and personal, then he gave into his anger. Gannis would hack away until the beast he hunted, or the one he had become fell.

He kept the short spears in his left, the longer in his right and set out. Long looping strides covered ground quickly and Gannis would not tire for a very long time.

The signs of the first victim came quickly. Beyond the corpse left behind by the zilant, deeper in the woods. At first Gannis couldn't tell what it was, slowing and signalling the others. It hadn't been eaten. Torn to shreds by a pack and the meat left to the scavengers.
 
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