Post by Rosen Stele on Oct 21, 2015 4:58:13 GMT -7
Jason looked at the apple, turning it over in his hand, before offering it to the horse. He allowed himself a small smile at the horse's animated reaction as it snatched the apple from him and munched it happily. He reached up slowly, touching and then petting the top of the horse's head. It was a huge, powerful horse, and Jason would never admit it, but he was a little beside himself.
Introductions made, he came around to the side of the horse, looking up at the stern knight. "You've got a pretty narrow view of men, don't you?" He asked dryly, giving her his hand "did you have a bad experience or something?" Jason had to admit this was the first time since his sister that he had been this close to a woman. And despite her war-forged frame, she was attractive. "You don't have to say. We all have our shadows." He cleared his throat, and laced his fingers together over her armored abdomen, making sure that there were as few points of physical contact between them as possible.
(OOC: Nori gave me the green light to skip her this one time for story reasons, just FYI.)
Narrow? Though a thousand rebuttals flew through Kasna's mind, all she gave in answer to Jace's observation was a mild huff. Even beyond the mandates of the Order and her vows as an Adhara, she had her reasons. Now, however, was neither the time nor place to discuss them; Jace had proven himself a stalwart ally, despite how things seemed at certain moments, but the brown-haired knight-errant was no more about to bare her soul to him than she would remove her armor before charging an enemy.
Shadows... with Jason secured in the saddle behind her, she allowed herself a brief moment where her constantly stoic and annoyed expression twinged into something else, a flicker of pain and distant thoughts that was gone almost as quickly as it came. "...Let's just say it's something like that." Was the only response she gave. With a 'Yah!' and a flick of the reins Levene strode forward, Kasna urging her steed to a gallop as they cleared the tower. Smoke drifted out from it in faint undulations as they made for where Ruben awaited and then onward to Karschtuk's farm...
With the trio reunited the ride to the nearby farmstead was underway. The rays of dusk were a glimmer of pink and orange on the horizon yet long shadows seemed to cling onto the fence posts and distant house as they came upon the boundary of Karschtuk's land. The night was brisk, moon waning from its peak days earlier, stars dotting what bits of sky peaked out around the abundant cloud cover, and distant howls of canines wailed in the distance.
There were no lights in the home or barn, no lanterns danging on posts marking the doors, no dogs perking at the adventurer's approach. In the stable there were three horses lazily shuffling and where there was usually a forth and fifth instead were empty stalls with doors wide open. The yard held many typical tracks of human and animal, some even embedded deeply from the last rain. The stores and cellar were still locked with heavy padlocks. Overall the place looked undisturbed and quiet; though some may argue a smidge too quiet for an active farm.
The smells, however, were still pleasurable as always. Wet grass, crisp air, chickens, and a hint of compose, burnt oils, and slaughter. There were faint sounds of pig snoring from around the barn, but not even a chuckle from any rooster or hens. "Here we are." The ranger stated simply in a low voice. The man slowed his horse seeing as how he needn't be leading at this point.
Post by Rosen Stele on Oct 26, 2015 16:24:27 GMT -7
Jason took the first opportunity to dismount the steed he'd been awkwardly mounted on. He hadn't held any mischievous thoughts until Kasna had brought it up, but once she had, his male brain couldn't quite shake it. He was disgusted with himself, but it had been a long, silent ride for him. He was glad to be done with it, honestly. He wondered if his awkwardness had affected the female warrior at all. Of course not. This running imagination was the bane of all men. Self-important a-****, focus on the task at hand, He berated himself, kicking the dirt. He turned to help Kasna down, but quickly stopped himself. She needed no help. She wanted no help. Stupid.
He huffed inwardly, turning to the farm. He strode ahead, heading first for the stables and those empty stalls. Perhaps there would be some clues to those things in there. after all, there had to be a correlation between stampeding horses and an empty stable, right? Freaking Zombies. He grimaced. "Lets check the stables." he urged, probably a little late. "maybe this is where those horses came from."
The ride to the farm has been unexpectedly quiet, and their arrival had not as yet been heralded by any grim discoveries. That alone made Kasna concerned... for all they knew, coming here could have been a mistake. The threat could be elsewhere, having come from or gone to another direction, and there was the question of all the horses from before. Perhaps they were wild, but if not...
... if not, this wasn't where they'd come from. At a glance this farm didn't seem set to raise horses, though the falling dark obscured much. Cows, perhaps, given the faint scents of a butcher's work that mingled in the air with so many other odors of the work of the lands, but not, perhaps, horses. At least, not in this field. Yet there was plenty else to suggest that all might not be well here. Silence hung in the blazing amber of the dark as though the last vestiges of daylight were holding their breath before slipping below the dark horizon. There were no lights lit that could be seen as they approached; at this hour the farmhouse would be well and truly dark inside without at least a candle. Any signs of regular habitation were unsettlingly absent.
As much as she hated admitting it to herself, having something to focus her thoughts away from the awkward and silent ride here was welcome, almost pleasant. Almost. Kasna dismounted after Jace, giving him a muted look that betrayed neither irritation nor amusement as she noticed him turning towards her for something but stopping abruptly. Whatever that had been, it wasn't important. Reins in hand she silently followed as he made for the stables, as that seemed the best starting place, the Adhara's eyes sweeping the land around them vigilantly as they went.
"...Some, maybe." She walked over to one of the empty stalls and led her steed in, letting it rest for now. "Just two empty, but I suppose it's possible they keep more in a field nearby. We're not likely to discern as much with night falling."
The fervent warrior paused, listening. "...I don't like this. We haven't heard or seen a living thing besides pigs and horses since we arrived. I smelled burnt oil on the way in but there's not a lit lantern to be seen. Something is off." Without even realizing it Kasna's hand had come to rest on the pommel of her sword as she let her eyes wander the stables, searching for she knew not what. "Ruben, those tracks in the yard, what do you make of them? Anything unusual?"
The three plus horse made their way into the stables where the poignant smells of the farm encircled them. Hay and straw were littered around the dirt ground with more piled into the stalls, each of which were barred with wooden gates that went to about chest height. The beams above were riddled with white specks of avian droppings but no coos or beady eyes accompanied the residue. By each stall were hooks to hold a lantern, all of which were empty save for the one at the end. It was a simple bullseye lantern with a scent of oil about it, moving it would confirm the swish of liquid at its base. There were other typical tools and equipment hanging along the walls for stable and horse care with only 2 sets of riding gear missing.
None of the horses balked at their approach though they were somewhat restless. The middle one in particular was very interested in receiving some attention. She was smaller, a speckled brown mare. Each stall looked like the horses hadn't been let out in quite a while. The gates had been chewed, dung starting to pile up, food shortage present in the equines general low energy movements and water buckets nearing their end. The one at the end didn't look very well at all.
After tying his horse just outside Ruben had gone down the row to take a peak at the poor cooped up beasts. "There ain't much for fresh tracks around from what I saw," he started in reply to Kasna's inquiry. "I'll go take another look." He then set out for a more focused look outside, taking a decent amount of time to crouch and track along the several obvious trails and some less so plain to see.
Reporting his findings a while later to the two hunters, "There's a couple trails that are only a day old but they seem to be aimless around the area. There's a corral out back that's open and had at least another half dozen horses at some point, old tracks from there lead to the stables; rather rushed. Then there are barefoot tracks. Scarce and around the house mainly. They are small and light, brushed over by a robe or cloak, but with an odd... cracked... pattern. Not just typical drying mud neither, it shows in grassy terrain."
Last Edit: Nov 15, 2015 17:37:38 GMT -7 by The Maven
Post by Rosen Stele on Nov 12, 2015 8:49:42 GMT -7
"Well this is the source of the horses. Question is...Did it start here...or was it brought here?" He asked, looking out the open stable door toward the house. "We should check the house." He reached his hand into the first stall, stroking the mare lightly. He began unlocking the stall, releasing the mare, before moving on to the next horse. He was sure to stay well out of the horses' paths. Hopefully, they would know where to find food.
"You said there are tracks as fresh as yesterday, yet these horses haven't been fed in a while. Obviously, whatever is going on started some time ago." Jason pointed out, looking back to the house. he fingered the hilt of his Kukri, a twinge of apprehension creeping up his spine, prickling the hairs on his neck.
A hand on her chin, Kasna carefully considered Ruben's report. This did indeed seem to be where the horses they'd seen earlier had come from, though how and why they were let loose remained a mystery. The greater mystery, though, were the odd, unnatural footprints that the ranger had described -- parched and cracked ground, even in among the grasses, with signs of a robe or a cloak. That was an unsettling description, and what it brought to mind only raised her concern even further. There were rumors that the Order had heard...
Jace's words snapped her from her thoughts. The house, indeed. With the last rays of day nearly gone they would have to seek shelter for the night anyway, and besides being the most logical next course of investigation it was also the best place they could hope to get some rest. The Adhara nodded her agreement. "Be on guard, though. I have a terrible suspicion of what we may find... and what may be responsible for the undead."
Sword drawn but flail still strung about her waist, Kasna took point and gestured silently for the others to follow as they proceeded. She did her best to attune her eyes and ears to the settling dark, alert to any unexpected sound or out of place sight. If her suspicions were correct then the house would either be abandoned... or watched over by whomever set the dead to walk. Given that, she would have preferred to enter by any means but a main door, yet the iron padlock securing the cellar meant that an approach from below was not an option. Which left only the main entrance...for her, at least.
Looking back to Jace, she silently pointed to him and then towards one of the second floor windows -- with that grappling hook of his he could likely get leverage enough to climb up and in. By way of explanation she pointed to herself and the front door, then directed Ruben to take up position at the back corner of the house such that he would be able to spot anyone trying to flee as they came in. At the tower, Kasna recalled, whoever had been present had evaded them... she wasn't about to allow that to happen again. Whether the house proved as deserted as it looked or harbored the evil they sought, the prudent course was to take no chances.
Ruben clenched his teeth and gave a determined nod in reply to Kasna. "I've got the back door covered." This time he wasn't going to freeze up in fear. This time he wouldn't leave these two in the position of protecting him while they fought a dark force. Though... if there was nothing to fight he'd be okay with that too. The ranger turned and began jogging around to get to the back of the farmhouse.
The place was a well kept partial two storey with a vaulted ceiling over the room at that back. From the front windows the kitchen could be seen connected to the living room beside. Upstairs could be assumed to be bedrooms, at least a couple guessing from the windows. One in the front was shuttered, but the other two upstairs windows were vulnerable to entry if one could find a way up there. The veranda had a hand made chair next to a small empty can but otherwise not too much of interest. The front door was locked and there were no obvious movements within.
No windows or doors appeared to have been broken into, though one accessible from the veranda had a small crack in the corner. Some of the siding was scratched as one would expect from dogs, some sills had some wear and tear from sliding and latches. The vegetation however didn't seem to be doing very well. Small flowers had begun wilting in the flower beds laid under the veranda but no weeds seemed to be present. At least the place wasn't as chilly as the tower even with the sun's warmth fading with its light.
There was a smell of recent candle, however faint. The smokey wisp barely a tingle in the nose above all the other farm smells.
(OOC: Come back to us, Rosen... we'll give you cookies, I swear!)
Kasna waited a few moments for her companions to get into place, silently counting down to herself. Her eyes strayed across the windows and front porch -- under other circumstances this farmhouse would seem to have been a peaceful, even prosperous place, but neglect and the eerie stillness in the smoke-haunted air told her those days of divine generosity had come to an ominous end. Quietly, her free hand tried the door, just enough to feel it catch and resist but not enough to make more than the faintest of creaks. Her eyes went to the windows again... she could maybe notch open one, slide herself through, and avoid making an alerting ruckus.
If she weren't clad in armor and girded with a chain-flail, that was.
The moments of preparation came to an end; she felt, as much as knew, that any more delaying would not serve them. It was time. The front door, she could tell, was made to swing out, not in -- it was common sense that a door could be forced more easily into the direction it was supposed to swing anyway, so carpenters tended to build them contrary to the ease of those wishing to break and enter. Normally that would make it a strong point, as compared to the windows leastways... but, at the moment, it didn't matter. Planting herself firmly, Kasna eyed her target before lunging at the door in a single forceful move, aiming her armored shoulder to strike just a bit to the side of the lock. The strike rattled the door badly and splintered some of the wood in a resounding crack!, but not enough to make it give way. Which is what the back-heel kick, with Kasna's body spinning into the momentum of her recoil, was for.
The door, halfways torn off its hinges and nearly folded at the middle, gave way at an odd angle forcing the Adhara to step carefully around and partially over it as she entered, sword drawn. If all was going well Jace would be using the distraction to ingress the second floor and Ruben would be lying in waiting around back for any fleeing foes. It was time to see what dark fate had befallen this rustic place...
With a freed horse trampling away from the farm, a the ranger positioning himself outback, and Jace meddling with a stubborn shutter whilst trying to slip in through a second story window, Kasna destroyed the finely made front door. The silver night light trickled in through dust and splinters to faintly illuminate the edges of furniture through the faintest haze of smoke. The boot locker stood open by the door, emptied. Next was the kitchen, taking up the left side of the open concept room; the living room on the right. Dirtied counters matched the utter mess that had been roughly piled on the floor of plates and utensils that likely once sat readied on the table. Now a single sheltered candle sat on its surface, currently extinguished.
The living room had all the chairs and tables shuffled and haphazardly stacked to one side of the room; one of them broken up into a pile of sticks. The floor had been scratched up but it was questionable whether that was new or just a natural build up from having dogs walk through the house. They didn't appear to be in any obvious arrangement like at the tower at the very least. Still, the air hung heavy and stale in this place as if the entire house was holding its breath; waiting.
Looking across the room were the stairs up and a doorway leading to a large bedroom: the master to be presumed. Right at the door was the fire place, filled with ash and charcoal overflowing the brick base onto the floor of the room. Upstairs only the faintest of steps could be heard as the Claymore moved about through the bedrooms, until a loud thump clattered against the second floor followed by the splash of water and clatter of a bucket. Something dense, hard, but small had fallen preceding what was undoubtedly a bucket. Jace's whispered curses gave news that he was alright as he kicked a door back to scout the room, hurried steps scuffing the floor above. But he never gave a call or notice of alert.
Last Edit: Mar 22, 2016 16:47:16 GMT -7 by The Maven
Nothing here sat right with her. The Adhara knight had halfway expected to walk in to signs of slaughter or heretical ritual, but the scene that greeted her had too many riddles woven into it. Her eyes took in first the state of the kitchen, then the living room and the fireplace by the door. Just as in the tower there were signs that someone had been active here, though in this case that someone clearly didn't belong. Dishes placed -- not scattered -- on the floor, stacked so as to be out of the way, all to make room for a lone candle; the cleared space where furniture had once stood, some of it now destroyed; perhaps most suspect, the fireplace and its overflow of ash. Too many clues, yet not enough to make sense of anything yet.
Moving cautiously, she decided to leave the second floor to the Claymore and focus her attentions here -- from what she could hear it seemed he'd already been caught by some kind of simple trap, the kind more set to prank or alert than do harm, so it stood to reason there could be other measures lying in waiting. The knight checked the candle first, trying to gauge how long ago it had been extinguished, then moved on to the fireplace. If the ashes were still warm, or if anything was to be found there, it might better indicate what had taken place here.
The candle had been lit rather recently. The wick was no longer spewing a thin trail of smoke from its blackened strand and the wax had hardened, but the smell of its light and warm touch compared to the stale cold of the rest of the house indicated as such. Moving onto the larger fire source at the mouth of the bedroom, the thick pool of debris sprayed out of the mantle. Now with a better angle to view it was obvious the disposal of ash just hadn't been taken care of and was instead just raked out from under the grill where now only a few small remnants of long cold logs sat crisp and black.
Looking more around the bedroom it seemed mostly untouched and in a normal arrangement, though there was a chair bearing the weight of a small canvas bag, not unlike what was in the tower room holding sand. Not much more of the room would Kasna have time to observe however as a large blunt object scraped across the collar of her armor, bumping her on the back of the head luckily without enough force to knock her down. Someone had emerged from hiding behind a dresser, holding a large panel of wood. They were cloaked and hooded but about her same height but much scrawnier. Seeing that their surprise had faired worse than they hoped the panicked, yelping in fear. Kasna was blocking the door, which left only the bedroom window as an escape and though it was shuttered closed they still rushed for it. The plank of wood was thrown at the warrior woman as they dashed for their hope of exit.
She had endured worse blows in training, true, but it raised Kasna's ire to no measure that someone had managed to sneak up and strike her from behind. Either she was getting careless or the hooded figure was stealthier than one would expect. She deftly braced her shoulder against the wood flying her way, letting the steel pauldron take the force of the impact and then swinging her arm to cast the obstruction aside. It was time to be done with subtlety.
"Ruben! Back window!" She wasn't sure if the ranger could hear her shouting as she charged after the unknown person, careful to keep herself between them and the door, but it was worth a try in any case. The question then became whether to attack first or try to subdue her assailant... making a split-second judgement, Kasna opted to try and reach out with her free hand instead of her blade. Someone reliant on a plank of wood to protect themselves wasn't a trained fighter or killer, not an equipped one at least. It might even be a survivor of those who'd lived here, even though that seemed doubtful.
If she could get in reach she'd make to grab the cloaked stranger's shoulder, pull them backward, and try to get her arm into a hold around their front.
The woman's shout caused an obvious stutter in the unknown figure fumbling with the shutter, managing to fling one side open before considering just who she was calling to. The thought was quickly thrown away however when the daunting armored female barreled her way toward them, their small thin hands throwing back the other side and attempting to scamper through. Sadly their momentary hesitation had cost them, Kasna's gauntlet grabbing hold of their cloak and pulling them back. It would be noted that the individual was much lighter than what could be expected of someone of their size, the stronger knight easily able to drag them from the window turn them around and get a good solid hold.
With the window wide open providing more than an inkling of light it was easy to see the thin hands grasping at Kasna's own weren't skin but looked to be... cracked. Like a panel of mud left to shrivel with a fading pool of water. They scraped against her gloves as they breathlessly struggled for the first few seconds, but then in an organized fashion went to the weak link; the pinky finger. Unfortunately for them Kasna had a hold with both hands, but one less was one step closer to freedom as they tried to get a grip on the little finger and peel it away.
Hurried steps clamored down the stairs moments before a familiar silhouette darkened the doorway, kukri in hand. From outside it was possible to see Ruben re-positioning, bow readied as he watched the darkened figures in the house. With these new additions and Kasna's steaming face the cloaked person gave in, "Wait wait! Don't hurt me!" they pleaded, a barely masculine voice carrying smoothly into the room. Kasna would feel a gentle push of air from under the hood as it sounded. The pinned individual raised their hands in surrender, a flicker of the faintest yellow-green from under their hood in small circles about the place one would expect eyes.
Last Edit: Mar 26, 2016 18:50:08 GMT -7 by The Maven
Credit to the original artists of all displayed artwork. Themes designed by The Maven.