'Find The Witch of The Forest and she will be your teacher.' The words from his tribe's oracle were odd to him. Her predictions were never wrong, though you may have to stretch interpretations at times, but what bothered him was that she never had prophecies for anyone twice; not even the chief. <br><br>These words brought Luca across the sea to Vinland of all places too. Perhaps the discovery of this place is what sparked the vision, or her reason for revealing this part of her original visions for him, but why hide anything? Luca decided he was thinking far too into it all and continued on his way. He had spent a full day out in the forest already surviving as he did while hunting doogs, but he could never shake the feeling of eyes ever watching. <br><br>The day was growing later and the forest air was oppressive, more so than usual. Luca was accustomed to living on the plains but even he knew what this meant: water. Brushing aside the thick greenery of the forest Luca emerged into a clearing with a lake. With a heaving sigh he stepped forward dropping his lance by the waterside and kneeling to drink. The water was not only cool but cold, and refreshing though it ached his teeth. <br><br>"Ah!" Luca leaned back feeling oddly relaxed for once despite circumstances. The forest, no, the whole island was something incredible, but the stories of powerful monsters were odd. If monsters came from the event in Ostia but they were here too then, what did that mean for the truth of those things?
The forests of Vinland were a thing of beauty. They were full of large trees with lovely green leaves that blanket the skies in their numbers. The sunlight that did filter below onto the forest floor supported a multitude of greedy little plants that did everything in their power to crawl towards the light above. Ivy hitched rides up the barks of trees and slowly sapped them of life. Grass and dead leaves littered the floor. And mosses covered the areas that were not currently occupied by leaf litter or twigs. The forest was a place of great beauty and great hardship. If one did not know how to survive here with the bounty of nature, then nature would make a bounty of them. There were things that lived within these woods. Things that gave both taguel and humans a run for their money.
And the signs of them were everywhere. Patches of fur that occasionally marked trees. Claw marks upon the barks of certain trees. And dung piles that were intricately arranged in certain sections of the woods. To those inexperienced with the ways of the forest they would see these signs as nothing more than scenery. But, to someone who knew exactly, what lived within the sea of trees, these were classic territorial markings. There was a fine mist in the air. The mist was cool and refreshing. But, it also served to mask the scent of the forest dwellers.
And it was here in this patch of forest, where Fleur was stationed. Her family commune lived nearby. And it was her job to go out and investigate the activities of any who come within their borders. Unfortunately, their borders overlapped with that of a roaming tribe of doogs. The rabbit clan was familiar with these doogs. They knew to steer clear of this patch of forest when it was this time of the year. The time of year when doogs were in a sort of rut. They are highly aggressive during the early days of mating season. It was Fleur's job to watch this patch of forest to prevent any sort of hostile interaction between taguel and doog. She was alone in this endeavor as the rest of her troop each had their own patch of forest to keep watch over.
She had sensed the presence of someone wandering around within the woods a day ago. And while she expected to find some way word rabbit or injured doog she was mildly surprised to find a human this far into the woodland. Few humans came this way. And even fewer came alone. This man she watched in the distance was someone foreign. His clothes, his scent, they did not match that of a someone who was native to the island. She could only deduce that this man was someone that came from that land across the ocean. She frowned. She was extremely wary of those who came from the ocean. She didn't want this man coming any closer to her tribe or towards the den of doogs. But, how was she to warn him without revealing her position? She couldn't make too much noise. As that would draw the attention of the doogs.. but she couldn't leave this man to wander the forest on a whim. She sighed softly and slowly emerged from the woods. She approached quietly until she was a few feet behind the kneeling man. A part of her almost wanted to kick the man into the water. But, this was not the time for such childish games. Splashes would draw unneeded attention.
During his resting period Luca had considered washing himself but would soon become glad he did not. As he rested weariness had begun to take hold of him. "Urgh," What was up with him? The air was so heavy here. He begrudgingly forced himself to rise. That was when he heard it, so close behind him, had it been a snake, a far more real possibility than he would ever dare to guess, it would have killed him.
"You, Human. You need to leave this place."
The words took him by surprise. So much so he grabbed his spear out of surprise and with a sharp spin brought it to bear upon the rabbit woman. "Ah! Excuse me!" He quickly lowered the weapon but took a cautionary step back looking around. He had heard of the strange locals but to see it was something else entirely. Her skin was dark, darker than anyone else he knew. Most of all his eyes were drawn to her great ears. She was so human and yet so alien; it was surreal.
She ordered him to leave? Well, he did not know the laws of the land and if he made a mistake he should respect that but he still had a mission of great importance and he would not be deterred by one, uh, bunny? "My apologies." He brought the spear to his side so it rested in his shoulder blade. "I am looking for a woman known only by the moniker of The Witch of The Forest. Pardon my rudeness, but could you assist me?"
The Man's reaction was less than desirable. She did not flinch when he grabbed his spear and quickly went to brandish it at her. She knew she could easily overpower this human with her agility. Instead, she just glanced at the large toothpick with an expressionless face. The man was quick to apologize for his behavior. Fleur didn't really care but she was at least glad that this man had a small shred of dignity in his manners. Not like the other humans she had seen in Aurion. Those humans who shouted at her and called her some sort of cursed demon. Or the fox who seemed to want to egg her on into a confrontation with those seafaring humans.
This human was searching for someone who was known only as the witch of the forest. She did not know of any witch personally. And given the definition of the word she knew that witch was a derogatory term. Witch being a person who uses magic, herbs, or potions to help or harm people. By that definition, Fleur herself could be considered a witch. As she was a woman who could use magic and had a vast array of healing abilities. Her powers could both help and harm. But, she was not the only person, taguel or human, to have that sort of combination of abilities to live in the forest.
"I know not of any witch. I will not help you find him or her." She spoke coldly.
"This territory is dangerous. You must leave." She decided to be blunt. Time was of the essence. The mist would not mask their scent forever. And she knew it wouldn't be long before the pack of doogs discovered that there were trespassers in their midsts.
Luca did not feel particularly as though he were needing to tiptoe around any sort of threat but he also knew he was not wanted here. He knew nothing of this surreal woman, perhaps he never would, but he knew she did not fear him or his spear. He shifted his stance back a little further, still cautionary but far more ready to spring to action if need be.
She did not know the witch of which he spoke, and she was unfriendly toward him and his plight. She merely wanted him gone. He was recovered enough, and had his fill to drink so he was in a position to do so, but he could not quit his quest so easily because a local said no, and she needed to understand this.
"I will leave your oasis behind. I will respect that if that is what you wish of me, but I must find the Witch, and I fear that until I do, I cannot leave this forest." He spoke softly but firmly, matching the even tone of the woman. For all appearances he was calm and assured but behind the guise he was calculating, watching her for any signs of her mind, for the advantages and disadvantages of the forest and where it would be best for him to run to.
He knew if it came to a fight he was woefully unprepared for it. "Now then, I shall be on my way," he stepped off, moving a wide range around the woman. He would keep her in spearing distance but far enough she could not reach him. Her eyes were of a warriors and her capabilities foreign and unknowable to him.
Fleur let out a very small sigh of relief. She was glad that this human was leaving this specific patch of forest. She couldn't care less what happened to him outside of this territory but at the very least it ensured that this man would not come towards her family clan. Although, the thought of him being horribly mutilated by a pack of hormone-frenzied doogs didn't sit well with her either. It was not her fault if those events came to pass after all this was the wild. Nature had its own grizzly way of disposing of those who did not heed the warning signs of others.
"Return to the city of which you came human. It is safer there. This is the season when the native monsters are in heat. They are incredibly dangerous and aggressive to all who cross them." She kept her expression neutral. Her ear twitched slightly.
"Should they catch wind of your scent. They will hunt you down." Her voice spoke one of experience. She had seen many bodies in her time among the scales. Bodies of monsters, taguel, and humans. Many of those who were ripped to shreds by those that live in the woods.
"That is the only warning I offer you human." Her ears twitched towards her left. She could hear something in the distance. Something large. The thing was still quite a way aways she doubted that it had picked up their scent yet. But, the fact that it was there, meant that they were in potential danger. Fleur would keep her ears trained on the thing she heard to the left.
Luca listened intently to her as she spoke her advice and or warnings. He already told her he could not return to the city just yet, he had a mission and he was going to make certain that he would reach there. Now, what was this about the wild beasts are in heat and violent in this season?
"The monsters of the region are in a mating season? I appreciate the warning." He nodded his thanks as though it would confirm that his words were true. "But I fear I still can not return to town, unless the mating season would be over within a week or two?" He doubted it would be that quick but perhaps that long would not be too bad.
Luca had hunted and seen the behaviors of animals and wild beasts enough to catch on to the subtleties of Fleur's own behaviors, all too familiar to him. As her ears twitched just after a talk of violent beasts he too turned his head to look in the general direction. He tensed up and readied his spear. "What is it? What is out there?" He narrowed his eyes focusing, trying to see something, anything. "Are one of these beasts you speak of watching us now?"
Luca held his spear at the middle of the shaft and dropped his body low to the ground much like a wild animal might stand. "If something is out here, shall we take it out now before it decides to hunt someone?"
What is it? Fleur turned very slowly in the direction she heard the noises. The human couldn't pick up the noises but she knew he wasn't blind. He had picked up on her subtle body cues. Fleur crouched slowly so as to draw the least amount of noise. She could smell blood in the air and the distinct musty smell of doog. Her ears picked up on it's unusual foot fall. Doog. Must be injured. Probably a loser of a fight.
"Doog. Singular. It's hurt. It probably coming to the water to lick its wounds." She spoke in a whisper.
"It has not noticed us yet." She spoke while slowly backing up away from the direction it was to come from.
"I'd like to avoid conflict. But, it's been pushed out of its territory and forced to come to the edges of it. There's a settlement of taguel further into woods with children. I'd rather let nature take its course upon this creature.. and avoid conflict. But, I cannot risk it weaseling its way into the settlement." She was ready to jump at a moment's notice.
"Cruel as it may sound.. It must be killed or driven off." She was going to be forced to take the creature on on her own. She couldn't light a signal flare into the air to alert her teammates. That had the potential of drawing out the rest of this recent outcasts pack. And she really did not need a whole pack of the beasts so close to her home turf.