One of the Damned (Peregrine x Muffin)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Peregrine, Feb 18, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Zalika stood with her feet firmly planted on the rocking deck of the two person boat which was slowly making its way into the cove. The water was calm and smooth, almost glassy, and so clear that it almost looked as though she could stick her arm in up to the elbow and touch the sandy bottom. Yet the simple fact that the bay looked so calm was precisely the fact that worried her.

    So far, the places that looked the easiest to sail always wound up to be the most challenging. And there was no part of their voyage that could be called easy. It was no wonder the natives called the ring of islands the Devil’s Trap, because, at least as far as the legends were concerned, no one who went in ever came back out. And Zali had indeed seen plenty of evidence of the ill fated journey of the ships that had entered the Trap, most of them run aground against the shallow shoals that could not be seen from deck, or trapped in a passage that had looked wide enough to safely pass through, but was actually narrow enough to trap the ship between the edges of the cliff face. The treasure on some of those ships alone would be enough to make anyone’s fortune, but those who came in to the maze to scavenge vanished just the same as those who were hunting for the legendary treasure rumored to be waiting for the first person who could make it to the center and claim it.

    But the legends never stopped anyone. In fact, if the evidence about them was to be believed, the darker the legends surrounding this island became, the more people it had lured to their death. She had glimpsed the skeletons of countless fools drifting in the fast current just below the surface, the current that had smashed just as many ships against the cliff sides as the shoals had ripped the keel off of. Two more fools? She mused briefly, glancing over at her traveling companion and long-term friend, Kiro.

    The two were about as different in appearance as it was possible for people to get. Kiro was pale, so pale that he went straight from white to burnt if he stayed under the sun for too long. And his hair was naturally the bleached blonde of those who spent their lives under that same sun. Zali, on the other hand, was so dark that she could almost be called black, and her tar dark hair reflected orange in the sun. Her features, though, were fine-boned and straight, unlike many of the dark-skinned companions she had traveled with in her twenty some-odd years of life. The thing that made her stand out the most, though, were her pale grey eyes which, when combined with her dark skin, made her come across as a ghost or some sort of malevolent spirit. Once, in her early childhood journeys, she had been accused of witchcraft, and she had gleefully kept all the villagers cowering under her “power” right up until her parents had come back ashore to find her, and gave her a firm spanking. The sight of their “witch” being abused such had emboldened the local people, and her parents had been forced to sail away, goods untraded, before their ship was burnt to the ground.

    What bound Zali and Kiro together so firmly was not their appearance, but their attitudes. Both possessed a soul bound towards chaos and adventure, and neither was satisfied with doing things halfway. When the merchant ship with which they had been traveling unceremoniously dumped the two troublemakers at a small, native port and sailed away, the two had taken just enough time to take stock of their situation before using their small pocket of remaining gold to purchase a boat and sail away towards the Trap. By that point, the locals had seen enough fools that they didn’t even try to stop them. Instead, they had gathered all of the two traveler’s extra supplies, saying that they would “guard” it until their return, hurried them on their way, and promptly begun fighting over who would have the right to lay claim to what belongings.

    Zali cared little for their antics. She had acknowledged, even before stepping foot aboard their new, little ship, that there was a chance that neither herself nor Kiro were coming back alive. And if they were, the few belongings they had would not matter, for they would soon be the richest people in the world. Besides, everything that she needed to survive never left her person, so there was no way for the villagers to get at the things that truly mattered: A length of rope, bound around her shoulder and cunningly designed as a part of her clothing, with a large canister of water and a smaller container of alcohol strapped on. Two knives strapped to her shins, a dagger strapped to her back. A firestarter, a compass, a small handful of tinder, and a few other completely essential items secured in a waterproof leather bag around her neck. None of it able to be dropped, stolen, or easily lost, should she take an unexpected plunge into the brine.

    And,despite the dangers of the sailing portion of their journey, Zali and Kiro had made it to their destination remarkably intact. Later, when night had fallen and the two of them were safely sequestered around a small campfire, Zali would boast of her skills in sailing, whether Kiro wanted to hear it or not. But boasting would do her little good now if, at a moment of inattention, she ran their boat aground in sight of their destination.

    Despite her ritualistic anticipation of problems, the cove was almost completely free of hazardous obstacles. Only one boat was sunk in the cove, its mast raising out of the water, but it was just as likely that some violent storm had pulled it off of short and dragged it into the water, because it did not seem as though there was anything upon which it could have damaged itself.

    The shore, a narrow beach covered in white sand, a few trees, and large piles of seaweed, was another testament to the dangers of what they were approaching. Easily twenty boats, a few larger, but most the same size or smaller than the ship Zali now navigated, were moored at various locations along the curving beach. She let out a sigh, but continued her careful navigation of the ship, pulling up close to the shore before shouting at Kiro to drop the anchor. The bloat skidded to a halt, and spun slightly, so that it was facing lengthwise to the shore. Zali let out a sigh, but hopped into the water, letting out a small hiss as the cold water soaked her up to her waist. She pulled the boat in towards shore, until it got too heavy for her to be able to move by herself.

    “Are you going to help, or just sit up there?” she complained good-naturedly.

    Personally, Zali doubted the truth of it when people said that no one had ever come back alive after entering into the Trap. If that was the case, the location of the temple, and the river that emptied into the cove and was the most efficient way to get to aforementioned temple, would never be known. Most likely, the treasure had been claimed long ago, and the myths kept circulating simply because no one had ever bothered to tell everyone else that there was nothing there anymore. And there was no doubting that the route was dangerous. The many close scrapes even her little boat had been forced to face to get here gave clear evidence of that. But the fact that there might be no treasure waiting at the end of their journey didn’t bother Zali all that much. For her, the best part of all this was the adventure.

    She double checked that all of her possessions were solidly in place, shook some of the water out of her boots, and turned to her friend.

    “You ready to go?” she asked Kiro, a wild, almost feral grin plastered across her face.
  2. Kiro helped Zali push the small but heavy boat toward the shore, hissing as the cold water soaked into his clothes and assailed his pale skin. He shivered and let his teeth chatter to show his clear discontent at having to wade in the chilliness - any amount of discomfort Kiro felt was always met with complaint, verbal or not. For now he wouldn't say anything, as it would ruin the triumphant moment of arrival as he pictured it in his head, but his dramatic chattering continued until the moment his foot hit the sandy shore.

    “You ready to go?” Zali asked him, smiling like a hyena as Kiro patted his pants and flapped the front of his shirt to try and get the water out. He looked at her with his dark, solid brown eyes and uttered a half-hearted “yeah.” He didn’t smile. His full, sharply defined lips sat together in a slightly pouty expression – his eyes moved down to stare at the darkened, sopping cloth in his hands.

    They had been through quite a lot to get here. Starting with their old military fleet being taken over by pirates years ago, everything had kind of spiraled down into this incredible, hideously dangerous journey with just the two of them, their tiny boat, and a handful of supplies. Kiro, who was slender in build and incredibly tall, had managed to keep on him a canteen of water, a net, fishing hooks, one very small knife and, amazingly, a thin sword, which was kept tightly against his back and ran from his shoulder to his thigh, hidden from the villagers who had taken everything else that he and Zali owned. The bleach blond man was still shaken from being separated from his other belongings, but, like Zali, he hadn’t protested, knowing there was so much more ahead of them than what they left behind.

    Despite his failure to appear enthusiastic during these first few moments on the shores of a new island, Kiro was just as motivated as Zali to go forth and seek the treasure that they were either courageous or foolish enough to go for. He wanted that rare, massive, almost magical reward, as much as he wanted the adventure that went with it: the feeling of epic heroism that came with venturing out into a dangerous, mysterious place when few others had the courage to do so.

    But Kiro wasn’t really courageous. More like cocky. Courage was knowing that something was dangerous and that you should be afraid of it, but facing it anyway. Kiro didn’t quite seem to realize just how much danger he was in, even as they had sailed past the remains of sailors and ships, paralleling each other in soggy, splintered, skeletal piles. He was too deluded with inflated confidence about his ability, and his luck, to really believe he would dive headfirst into this adventure without ever surfacing again. So Kiro wasn’t pouting and sighing because he was discouraged or afraid to be nearly alone, scarcely equipped and vulnerable within the treacherous maze of the Devil’s Trap.

    He was doing it because he was cold.

    “Where to?” Kiro mumbled, wringing out as much chilly water as possible from the front of his shirt, then awkwardly sticking his elbow in the air as he reached over his shoulder, toward the sheathed sword that had been poking him and exerting an uncomfortable amount of pressure with its rigid form every time he tried to bend his torso in any way. He figured it didn’t need to be hidden anymore, now that it was just him, Zali, and the skeletons on the island. He awaited a response from his somewhat bossy companion, prepared to follow her lead as they went deeper toward the center of the Trap, and hopefully toward the riches and glory his greedy and rebellious spirit yearned for as a result of his innate character since birth, combined with the influence of his wealthy and affluent upbringing.
  3. "All the rumors say we simply follow the river," Zali replied calmly, throwing her braided hair back over her shoulder, and tucking a couple stray strands that had escaped their bond behind her ear. She quickly double checked that all of her supplies were in place, lightly touching each spot, and by now so familiar with their feel and weight that she didn't need more than that brief second to confirm their presence. As soon as that task was completed, she returned to the boat that they had sailed. The villagers may have taken all their unnecessary supplies, but Zali wasn't about to let them walk away with her extra survival supplies. A light blanket, first aid, and, of course, food. Wrapped in water-tight packages so as to protect at least some of it from a dunking. She swung the heavy pack over her shoulders, grunting slightly, before tying a rope around her waist to get the weight off of her shoulders. Satisfied, she nodded once, crisply, before turning around to face the forest.

    The trees at the edge of the beach were dense, and what little space remained between them was completely filled by vegetation. If it wasn't for the river there would have been no way to enter the forest. Zali walked her way calmly up the beach, long-legged stride carrying her over rocks and piles of kelp, before pausing just before the fresh water. As soon as it broke out from the edge of the trees, the river spread out, creating tiny little gullies in the sand that would exist only until the next time the tide came in, and washed them all away. She stepped into the water with little hesitation, her boots already soaked, and the water being hardly deep enough to even reach the top of her soles.

    The river was definitely the only way into the jungle, and it was far easier than trying to bushwhack your way through the jungle, but that didn't mean the journey was going to be easy. The trees grew right up to the point where the loose soil that made up the bank could no longer hold them up, and the plants grew even closer. Those trees that had the very ground washed away beneath their roots toppled over, blocking the path, and vines hung down from above, twining together into thick ropes. Add the packs to that, and the task before them looked barely passable. Zali looked at it with a sigh, before forcing herself to grin again. After all, she loved an adventure

    "We've got our work cut out for us," she told Kiro, taking some small pleasure in his apparent misery. They had been friends long enough that both of them knew when it was ok to simply bounce off of each other, and when it was actually serious. And she was his friend, come what may. That didn't mean she was going to let him lead, though.

    She turned towards the forest, and took a deep breath before practically lunging into the woods. Despite her attitude, Zali was no fool to land travel, even though she had been born on a boat, and spent far more time in the water than she did on land. She knew to take things slow and steady, to expend no more energy than was necessary, and to stay properly hydrated in the humid climate. Even though her feet were likely to blister because of the wet, she was grateful for the source of fresh water. They would need it.
  4. Great, more water. Kiro thought, messing with the straps under his shirt in order to haul the long, concealed weapon over his shoulder and relocate it to a more comfortable position. As Zali fearlessly marched forward, her companion did everything he could to stay on land, struggling to keep his balance on the muddy bank. Unlike Zali, Kiro had been thrust into a life of sailing and swimming and generally tolerating wetness, not born into it. He could typically handle being around water, as long as it was not physically around him, touching him, soaking his clothes and chilling his flesh - he was fine sailing on a ship or riding a boat, having gotten over his initial problem with seasickness years ago. He just didn't want to be damp, and cold. He didn't seem to realize that this occasional discomfort was an inevitable part of his chosen occupation.

    As he moved forward, balancing himself with his arms outstretched in a childish manner, he glanced over at the thick, green, overgrown forest on either side of the river, taking in its newness, and its strangeness. Everything about this place was new and different - the look, the smell, the feel of the air on his skin and in his lungs - and, besides the clinging humidity, he liked it. That was part of being an adventurer: encountering and enjoying the "new" and the "strange." And he began to wonder; he had only seen the most miniscule fraction of the island so far, and he was imagining the endless possibilities of scenery, wildlife, and geographic components that he had yet to see as he moved into this new, wondrous space.

    "What kind of animals do you think are lurking around here?" Kiro asked his partner, who continued to lead ahead of him. "Do any of 'the rumors' say anything about that?" So few people had ever entered this forest and come back alive enough to say what it was like, so Kiro's mind was swirling, racing with images of brand new creatures, animals with wings and fangs and tentacles and creepy-crawly skin and fur in all different places. Suddenly he shivered at the thought that such creatures would be so much more than interesting - they would be dangerous. They could be the reason no one ever made it to the treasure and came back alive.

    That was a lot more daunting to Kiro than water, and he found himself inching away from the tangled, green nest of life, wetting his shoes more than he had originally planned to.
  5. Zali did her best to ignore her friends antics. They had been together for long enough that she simply had to adjust to his quirks, just as he had to adjust to hers. And one of the simple facts about her friend was that he could take nothing seriously. And that was probably a good thing. Zali had faced enough hardship in her life that she was not one to let go easily. Without Kiro, she might never remember to laugh.

    “Not much,” Zali responded lightly. “I’ve heard all kinds of weird things, but I think the chances that there is actually a Basilisk hiding in these woods is pretty slim. The details up until the beach are fairly reliable, but all I know now is that we follow the river until we reach some kind of grand temple.”

    With that, she focused her attention back to the river. The further inland they got the more the river narrowed, coating the stones that did manage to break the water’s surface in a sticky, slippery green moss. Zali did not particularly mind getting wet herself, but there were some supplies in her pack that she would rather keep dry. So she placed her feet carefully, pushing vines out of her way and keeping a careful eye on the surrounding woods.

    Despite her reassurances to Kiro, Zali was not as certain about the safety of these woods as she might pretend. It was indeed doubtful that there were any mythological creatures hiding in these woods, as they would have doubtless worked their way well beyond the confines of this one island. But that did not mean that she considered the island safe. No matter what legends surrounded this place, there was no doubt that most of the people who came here did not return. The stranded and sunken ships, combined with the many skeletons that littered the water, attested to that quite nicely.

    Zaia brushed another low-hanging vine out of her way, shivering slightly at the feel of the vines clinging to her skin. One whipped wildly around her arm, lashing her across the face. She let out a surprised yelp, before attempting to pull her arm out of the loop. Instead of slipping free from the vine, her arm became even more entrapped as the vine looped several more times around her forearm.

    These weren’t vines. They were... “Snakes!” she shouted to Kilo, desperately hoping that her friend wasn’t already entwined as well. Her free hand grabbed wildly at the knife strapped to her back, but she toppled towards the water as another “vine” curled around one of her legs and yanked sharply upwards.

    It looked like there was nothing much she could do to keep her pack dry.
  6. "Basilisk" Kiro repeated, not quite a question but an emphasis on the word that stood out to him, the thin s's whistling through his teeth. Should he be scared? He didn't feel the need to be afraid as long as Zali wasn't - she knew more about this island and this treasure than he did. Throughout their friendship, Zali had always been the leader, and he, always her follower. In his head he fancied himself the tough, charismatic, stand up person he imagined would make a good leader, but in reality he didn't have the courage, the empathy, or the sense of strategy to truly fill that role. If faced with a situation that required him to lead, Kiro would probably freeze up, and crumble, or rise to the challenge with an inappropriate amount of confidence and mess up terribly, just terribly. It was much easier and made much more sense for Kiro to tag behind someone else, and it didn't hurt his ego, certainly not as much as leading and screwing up would.

    With the thought of the Basilisk no more than a passing image in his head, Kiro continued to follow Zali, quickly becoming bored and distracted as they trudged along the edge of the narrowing river. He let his vision blur in front of him so that his thoughts could take him over, and he began to slip into a daydream. But before he knew it his consciousness and vision were restored, the moment he heard Zali's shout. "Snakes!"

    "Wh-" Kiro didn't have the time to get a real vowel out before he felt something brush against his face, and immediately jumped back, throwing his hand over his shoulder to draw his sword. He looked and saw the "vine" that had touched him - the tail tip of a snake hanging from a tree branch some seven feet in the air - and immediately swung at it, not knowing what would become of it before looking over at Zali.

    She had one serpent curled around her arm and another wrapped around her leg, as though they were deliberately capturing her, working as a team. Kiro didn't know if there were more to come or if the snakes would bite, but he knew he couldn't swing at these without taking off one of his companion's limbs, so instead he knelt at her side, frantically pulling out his small knife and trying to cut a snake off of her leg, as though it were a rope and not a living thing.
  7. The snakes continued to wind their way down from above, and many more slithered in from the edges of the jungles. The snake that Kiro was hacking as spun, hissing violently, lunging at the young man with mouth open wide, deadly fangs gleaming in the gloomy light.

    With a shout of rage, Zali managed to rip her hand free from the snakes, before snagging up her knife. She swung at a snake that was curling in front of her face, but it swung to the side, away from her blow, and the knife missed by a scant half-inch. But that left her free to sit up, and she joined Kiro in hacking at the snake around her leg. The sharp knife slid easily through the scales, and a shower of blood stained the river crimson for a brief second. The front half of the snake spasmed wildly for a few seconds, while the rear dangled limply from above.

    “Lets go!” she shouted at Kiro, hauling herself to her feet and decapitating another snake that drew too near. She was drenched to the bone, but the adrenalin pumping through her body kept her moving. She slipped sideways around one of the snakes, which latched on to the back of her pack. She nearly tripped when the snake snapped suddenly taught, its head being pulled right from its body.

    There was something very weird going on, beyond the fact that there were snakes attacking them. But she didn’t have time to think about it right now. She could see more snakes hanging down from the vines in front of her, and the river seemed to spiral away into darkness.

    Did they go back? Snakes were only snakes, and she had certainly faced much more dangerous things. But there was no telling what one bite might do to them, and they did not seem to be coming to an end. However, when she glanced behind her and saw a veritable curtain of the things hanging down behind her, she knew there was no option but to proceed forward.

    “We’ve got,” she said, panting slightly as she swung her knife at the snakes that drew too close to her. “To get out from under the trees.”
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.