|Time & Date:||06:35 7th of January, 2021|
|Player Cast:||Naur of Navvere|
|Content Rating:||PG-13 (Language)|
On the Manicured Sands of Sidney Beach
Soft brown sand crunches and sinks lightly underfoot, eagerly reflecting light and spotted with small stones and seashells. To the south and east the ocean stretches as far as the eye can see, bordered to the west by the slopes of the rocky bluffs. To the north, the tops of the buildings in town can just barely be seen, along with the deep green of the forest that surrounds it.
It is before dawn, about -18F(-27C) degrees, and there are a few dark grey stormclouds in the sky. There is a waning crescent moon. Ahead of you is Haven Bay. You can hear the sound of waves to the right of you.
[ north northeast ] [ west southwest south southeast east ]
Naur scours the beach.
This is a rugged, red-maned woman in her mid-twenties with C cup breasts.
You would judge her to be a 6.0 out of 10.
They seem social.
She is 5'11" and has the richly tanned olive skin of a rugged outdoorswoman, a leonine mass of matted auburn curls decorated with coins and beads and coloured braids through her hair, and coal dark eyes beneath bushy brows.
You can see her face, neck, and hands.
The tall, spry posture of this woman is nimble and quick, her well-honed muscles coiled like a cat ready to spring. No part of her is delicate, yet she carries her own manner of elegance, one of cocksure poise and a warrior's pride. Coal dark eyes gleam beneath her wild, bushy auburn brows, which are full, thick and never plucked. They slope above her bulbous nose, expressively enhancing the knowing air of mischief that often ignites the keen gaze beneath them. She has a wicked smile, full of teeth; slightly yellow, they're straight and clean, yet imperfect, stained by tobacco or another herb. Her lips are soft and pouty, curling with fluid ease to pluck dimples in the freckled apples of her cheeks. A slightly pointed chin rounds out her angular, heart-shaped jaw, ever framed by a mass of loose red curls.
Scars litter her form, too many to count; this woman looks used to manual labour and the rural hardships of an outdoor life. Her hands are calloused for efficient work, and her toned arms display a sophisticated pattern of henna and richly inked tattoos. The surrounding scent is entirely foreign; it does not belong on Earth. Otherworldly woodland debris clings to the hair, skin and clothes, wild and alive. A natural musk of perspiration lingers underneath, peppered with traces of blood both shed and won in battle or on the hunt. The smell of horses marks this person as a rider, with dirt and dust never far behind.
Naur is using:
(S) a brown coat of well-loved leather with a buckled waist belt
high-waisted, sandy twill cavalry leggings laced up at the front knee-high riding boots of oiled black leather
(S) a ragged black cloth knotted over her right palm
It's become a common habit for Naur, these past couple weeks. She might live in the Wilds now, but she returns to Haven often enough, and all too often follows the same exact routine; towards the beach, like a piece of driftwood, where the sea at least reminds her of coastal Navvere. She's searching for something, and she doesn't quite know what, but the dreams of the Drowning Deeps draw her eternally back here.
In the wee hours before dawn, joggers tend to add shoe prints to the sand and townies walk their dogs along the sea shore. The fishermen tend to come out and cast their lines into the water, eager for the early fish to bite.
But not today.
It's subzero in Haven and townies are huddled in their homes, keeping warm via fireplace, vodka, or triple layers of heated blankets. But it looks like Naur has her own agenda, drawn by fate and tide ever close to the sea, even in the heart of winter. Snow like crushed glass crunches into the sand under her shoes. Among the hibernating crablings, there is a rare critter to poke through its inch-wide burrow, shoveling unwanted 'dirt' out of its home.
It might not lead her to the quest she seeks, but curiosity can't help but drive Naur to pause at the sight of the little crablings, and the rarer of the fauna making their home on this beach. She lowers herself into a crouch to watch it as it works, brushing her auburn curls and coloured braids out of her eyes.
Stat Report: Naur She has Animals stat at 3.
It was acquired naturally.
While the whitish crablings easily camouflage against the icy sand in their retreat, the grumpiest of their neighbors continues to shovel away the pile on its front lawn. Finally reaching the doorway, it breaks through the last wall of sand and pokes its head out.
The tiny thing greets the frigid world with a tentative wiggle of its antennae. Black beady eyes taking in a giant's world. Naur's world, and yet not quite hers to those who know the story. Deeming no threat coming, it skitters another inch out of its hole, baring the glistening pink of its crustaceous shell and the brilliant marble-like stains of amethyst in a design that Naur has never seen before.
(Sensitive) Naur may sense that this critter is nothing that should exist in this world. The stench of magic is easily whiffed. A kind that may seem familiar and yet.. not so.
No, she hasn't seen such a pretty little creature before. But there are a lot of things on Earth that are entirely new and novel to Naur, like phones and electronics and processed junkfood loaded with sugar. She assumes this curiosity is no different as yet, but there's nevertheless something about it that catches her eye. She starts to unravel a ragged black cloth from her palm, one symbolically tinged with blood, and then stretches it between both hands to try and create a miniature trap. While it starts to skitter, she lays the 'net' just outside its sandy burrow, focusing intently on the strange, mystical manifestation she senses in the nightmare.
Naur feels a strong desire to understand this creature.
The trap is set and the otherworldly shrimp is oblivious to the tricks of the Wildling. Nothing at all is amiss. Five pairs of front legs, it uses to carry itself forward. Its tail drags like a farming plow through the sand. Right into that trap it walks. The instant all three inches of it finds its way over that blood-tinged cloth, the very pattern of its exterior shell lights up in a pulse from tail to pincer tips. In this shadier part of the beach, it isn't too hard for Naur to discern how, for that second, it looked quite like an arrow pointing ahead. Incidentally, it faces the forest at the end of Sidney Beach itself.
A sceptical sort Naur is not. No, the Wildling very much believes in fate. Her curiosity only deepens as she studies the magical little prawn, and then she turns her head to look over in the direction of the forest the arrow directs her towards. "What are you trying to show me?" she asks her new friend in her native tongue, right before gently dipping that bloodied black cloth to try and lift it off the ground.
She intends to carry it with her, though as she pulls those dark edges upwards, she starts to carefully envelop it for her own protection in case of any venom lurking within.
(Internally) Naur can't help but wonder if this thing is edible.
Naur feels mild suffering when she is wary that the magic prawn might be poisonous, and that it isn't safe to eat strangely coloured animals that she doesn't know for sure are safe.
(Internally) Naur decides to just make a new friend, for now.
The crustacean flinches forth as it senses the cloth being lifted. Rather than take the leap from its new elevation, it remains still, twitching its antennae as it looks out from the edge of Naur's cloth-swathed fingers. With nowhere left to go when the last of the light is hidden by the fabric, it glows just a few more times before the black smothers it.
Meanwhile, around the Wildling's feet — in fact, across the entire stretch of Sidney Beach — a hundred more burrows start to get shoveled out. Glints of purple disturb the dimly lit beach, and the numbers begin to move all in one direction.
Naur thinks: "Shit shit shit."
Naur thinks: "Think fast, should I let this thing go? No, there's something magical about it, I could study it."
Naur thinks: "Maybe they'll leave me alone if I put it back. That'd probably be safer."
Naur thinks: "But there's no reward without risk!"
As Naur looks around towards the swarming, magical crustaceans, a mild panic starts to set in. Perhaps the hint ought to be taken to abandon the one she's trapped, which could be the source of their anger, but the Wildling does not. She secures the cloth as tightly as she can without crushing or choking the creature (though that's always a risk in her haste), and then turns to run. Her free hand finds the pieces of ocean debris tied to a net about her waist, and she idly toys with the little fish-bones and driftwood pieces secured to it. A magical focus, one which, when she turns to look towards the water, causes a subtle shimmer around her.
With what little magic the human has available to her, she doubles her visage with the water, while she starts making her escape. She's headed in a very specific direction: the forest, where the kidnapped crustacean's arrow points.
Ability Report: Naur She can cause someone to temporarily confuse her with another person.
Although they make no eerie noises to spook Naur themselves, a thousand little legs can be heard scuttling across the sand in unison. As the shimmer comes over the fleeing Wildling's person, the pulses of purple make a sharp turn for the water she'd enchanted. Like miniature hounds in the shape of sea roaches, they hungrily sniff out the traces of her magic and tumble into the bubbling of an incoming wave.
It doesn't last long but it gives the woman herself a good headstart, and soon she disappears into the foliage of the inner forests. Here, the lights from the beachside shops don't reach. It comes to a point wherein the sole fragment of illumination she has left is a seep through the fibers of Naur's black stained cloth. Whenever her hold loosens enough, that is.
But Naur needn't worry, for the darkness doesn't last long. The forest comes alive in lustrous shades of purple, an impending glow that seeks to swallow her up. Should she look back, she'd find none other than a wide, softly glowing carpet — a bed of tiny shrimp gaining speed after they'd been fooled.
(Animal) Naur's knowledge of shrimps from her seafaring life certainly doesn't have anything on stock about this sort. The behavior and shape in these large numbers, however, clue her in to the fact that she is being herded.
Towards the coast, at that.
Coming to a momentary stop, Naur turns around. She's forced to reconsider her trajectory, because what she sees now — she knows it's unnatural. She knows it doesn't belong in this world. Naur maybe a foreigner, but after a month of sleeping in Earth's forests, she never came across anything like this.
Perhaps the sensible path would be to disobey the shrimp and run as far as she can away from the little trap they've laid for her, not unlike the one formed of bloodied black cloth. But she decides to follow it, for whatever reason, trusting gut instinct. Every so often, she glances down at the one in her hand, trying to see if the arrow still provides illumination towards her destination. When she isn't doing that, her eyes rove the trees for a potential escape route if things get dire, one leading upwards into the canopies. But it's a lot of directions to look in; she hardly has time to mind her feet. If this causes her to stumble, it won't be a surprise.
Naur is quite the athlete and is able to traverse a wide range of inner forest with ease. Here, the trees aren't so densely packed and the grass and brush work with her.
But with that said, they also work with the strange shrimp.
The shrimp in her grip flares its arrow slanted eastward, then northwest, then back northeast by a near trivial amount of degrees. It's a very fussy little sea roach, isn't it? She might start to see a familiar beachside cottage soon. One that goes by #80 Riptide Ride.
Before she even gets within earshot, Naur feels the very shoes on her feet being slowed and lifted up, as if stepping onto a shallow stone platform. Balance may be a tricky thing to keep when you're riding this magical crustaceous carpet.
Right for the frigid water.
The shriek of fright that Naur lets out forces her to drop the crustacean compass in her hand, the one she'd so fastidiously held onto in hopes of returning home with a prize — an arcane specimen to study. Instinct has her splaying her hands open, raising her forearms shrilly against her upper torso as if to pull every part of her as far away from the living carpet as possible. She turns around now, attempting to run; and if the heels of her riding boots should crush the critters underfoot, so be it. Her coal dark eyes wide with terror, the only thing she seems to care about now is getting back to the forest, away from the icy ocean grip that these creatures would have her drown in.
The captured shrimp leaps joyously with a kick of its legs that nobody but itself would have been able to appreciate. It lands right in the mass of its brethren, its blinking light strengthening to a bright luminosity blending seamlessly with the whole.
It turns out that whatever these critters' shells are made of is far from the flimsy breakable coating commonly found on earthly platters. Perhaps the secret lies elsewhere. Naur's attempts to flee and flail may be likened to a course on a treadmill, albeit this one of a sort with some priceless motivation. The cold sea breeze cuts at her face and jostles her mane, and soon her riding boots grow damp with the bite of frost-cold water.
The tide itself couldn't be more thrilled. It rushes to greet the guest and its returning entourage, scooping the Wildling and all of the carpet out in its ebb. Naur floats. The shallow waters come to her waist, and though she has attained buoyancy, she still finds herself gripped by the boots, down under the surface.
While Naur still has the chance to make another attempt to swim back, something out in the deeper reaches ripples a bigger wave towards the shore, enough that up to the Wildling's nose is drowned in its passing, for a moment.
Naur is an athlete indeed; her body's as honed and toned as a human's can be without making some serious moral sacrifice. She's a strong swimmer, too, and she's had to be, growing up in coastal Navvere. But she can't outrun this magic carpet ride of supernatural shrimp, nor outswim the tug of the tide rising up to swallow her whole.
The Wildling sputters for air, forcing saline out of her stinging nostrils with a sharp, sudden gasp. Her freed fingers widen in search of something, anything to hold onto, be it a branch of driftwood, a rock, or hell even shrimp. It's not like her conscious mind believes they'll help her, but survival instinct is a powerful thing, and she grows intensely desperate.
Naur thinks: "No no no no no no no ..."
Naur feels a tremendous sense of deja vu.
Naur recalls a recurring dream of just this happening, so many times before, being swallowed whole by the sea.
One by one, the shrimp all around Naur grow dark. She grabs hold of a few in her hand amid the chaos, and their skinny legs skitter disgustingly in mid-air and within her grip. The echoes of the water sting the eyes, but this seafarer is used to that by now.
See, there's a reason why the road running this end of the coast is called Riptide Ride.
With every shoreward flow of the sea, there follows the return to the great, wide blue. And boy, what a ride it is.
With a gurgling CRASH, the frothy water rushes back the way it came, as if a fleeing sea-ridden demon. Naur feels the tiny crustacean bodies floating about herself, and it becomes apparent in the next gasp for breath that her fate no longer lies in the collective of shrimpy claws, but rather in the powerful current that they've led her to.
(Seafarer) Naur's experience as a sailor has once bestowed upon her some unfortunate times in strong currents. Riptides are narrow and are typically escaped by swimming sideways to get out of the flow.
In the final moments when her head remains just above water, Naur lets out a terrified scream for help. She doesn't know if anyone lives on Riptide Road, who could hear her, but she has to try. That's about as far as she gets before a lungful of water spills into her mouth, which she spits with a grimace.
Her body twists and turns. She doesn't wait for anyone to save her, but instead moves against the current, fighting her way towards the sides of the narrow riptide in a desperate effort to avoid the Undertow. Her damp auburn curls, decorated with coins and beads and coloured braids, grow darker when they stick to her forehead and around her neck. Even the droplets clinging to her hirsute brows have her looking like a wet beaver as her powerful arms carry her as far from her inexorable fate as possible.
Naur thinks: "Just have to make it out of the strongest part of the current. Just have to make it to the normal water. I can make it back to shore from there!"
It is a desperate struggle against the elements, trapped in its very womb. For as much as Naur arcs her arms and kicks at her legs, no longer held fast by skittering things, it seems as though she isn't gaining ground. In this case, water.
After what feels like an eternity within a second, the Wildling finally feels that shift of distance. The sweet relief of being dislodged from a fatal fate. Her legs are still in a predicament.
Naur is just barely able to keep her nose out of the water before the current suddenly strengthens. Her leonine mane spreads wetly around her as her head sinks beneath the waves, and then the beaded braids follow. The woman's humanly legs, many a time serving her well as means to escape, now curse her safety in their useless kicking through the vacuum.
And just like that, Naur of Navvere is gone.
It is still dark below the water's surface. One would think dipping your head under the sea would spare you from the violence of the white water waves, so capable of battering bodies and wrecking ships. As it is with these sorts, it never is dark for very long.
A low rumble comes from behind the Wildling, the other side of the strong current. A crackle like lightning splits the muffled noise of water against Naur's ears. Sucking her in at a terrifying speed is a titanic creature, swallowing the world into its gaping maw. The details are hard to make out, but the silhouette is glimpsed as its enormous body illuminates in intricate patterns from stony lips toward all of its fins. Naur barely has time to register any details before she disappears past its teeth and into the darkness inside it.
Naur feels terror.
Naur feels a strong desire to scream.