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Ten Minutes Ago

In a deciduous forest, in early autumn, the white wolf looked rather out of place. Surely he would have been well-camouflaged in colder weather, his thick coat of fur well-suited. Yet aside from this, his only unusual traits were the icy blue of his eyes and the condensation that formed when his chilled breath met the nearby air.

He paced impatiently by a tree, which had writing scratched carefully into it, until a cloaked figure finally came forth. Hidden by magic that kept the morning sun's rays from its face, the being turned toward the wolf, expecting something. He pointed at the tree with the writing somewhat clumsily with a left forepaw. Upon closer inspection, the cloaked being could read it: "What say you".

The being nodded, and looked to the wolf, addressing it:
"Couldn't have bothered for a question mark? You must wait here a little longer. One will come whose appearance you may question, but whose quest is noble. Endeavor to help this one, that a speaking form may be restored to you. Should you succeed, stay where you are. Within twenty-four hours your next task will come." Its business done, the being moved on through the forest, smoothly as a breeze through brush, silently as the moon.

The wolf, Irrik, sat on his haunches and growled quietly. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting! I may be immortal but this is boring and a colossal waste of my time. I'll just have to get this done as quickly as possible. So he waited, however impatiently, ears tuned for any sound that the forest's usual occupants did not make.

((The OOC is here. Look to it for information.))

The heavy footfalls of an armored creature rang clear through the forest, as if daring bandits or other unsavory creatures to come out. Those with discriminating hearing could clearly hear the crunch of a paw - rather than a boot or a foot. The rings of the armored figure's chest-piece chinked together in a rhythmic manner, the gleam of a poleaxe high in the air over one shoulder.

He walked forward with purpose, the soft-eared hyena-man. His serious face locked forward, not bothering to look one way or the other - his footfalls more than enough to alert smaller animals of his approach, and his ears enough to hear anything wishing to come forward and check on him.

"It's a pity," the man, who's name was Heart-Fang, thought. "That I cannot use the road, thanks to my ill-intentioned cousins spoiling it for me. I'm getting sick of pulling briars from my fur." The man let out a soft sight, looking from right to left suddenly, stopping in place for a few moments... before continuing his steady pace through the forest. He smiles in a serene manner. "...It's nice here, though I miss the sea breeze."

Taking the time to shift his poleaxe from one shoulder to the other, stretching his arms and jaws out with a long yawn, scratching an itch on his chin as he walked. He spoke to himself, "If sommin' inna this forest be givin' me fleas, I'mma hafta git creative wit' this axe." Despite his... ocean-bound dialect, it was a calm, serene voice - quite a bit outside the box for a gnoll... which, despite his soft features and light fur, was what he was.
Leaves crunched, branches snapped and small animals scattered. A trail of footprints led through the forest. Footprints that yellowed grass, withered plants. The sand in they a shade lighter than the dark, fertile topsoil of the forest. Hyran moved at his customary pace through the trees. He didn't look in either direction and his pace suggested a purpose. He didn't notice the wolf, and if he had he wouldn't have taken note of it anyway. It was irrelevant, a mere creature that could neither help nor hinder him in his task. And the task was everything.

There was someone else hear though even if the lost one didn't see of hear him. A creature of another lost race and in some ways kindred spirit, working to undo the deaths of their races' masters. And that creature, that gnoll was getting closer rapidly as their paths converged.
Irrik eyed the strange being from behind its back, glancing in its footsteps. Now what exactly is that thing? It stinks odd, and apparently has been set to permanently earth-draw... The traits seemed familiar, name and details somewhere similar to the tip of one's tongue (except that he couldn't speak), before his thoughts were interrupted by a voice, something about fleas, from a path not quite parallel to the earth-drawing creature. Irrik was going to make some kind of quip, but of course barked in that direction when he attempted to talk.

D***. Might as well go see who that is anyway. He walked carefully in the direction of the voice, soon catching sight of its origin. How odd...I haven't seen a gnoll look so unbeastly outside of a textbook...and I've seen an entire tribe of them before. Perhaps this is the one I'm intended to help. Or maybe it's that other thing, the...the...whatever. Why do gods always have to make themselves feel so superior by withholding information from everybody else?

He began following, curious if he would be noticed soon.
The 'bark' of a wolf was unmistakable, and caused the gnoll man to look up. "Whoa!" Taking a step back in shock at the appearance of the... thing, there, walking through the woods and draining it's energy - weapon off his shoulder and gripped in his hand instinctively...

...And, in an impressive acrobatic display, the gnoll back-flips, gripping his bare-footed claws to a nearby tree, now parallel to the ground, poleaxe in hand. "I not be wantin' no trubble. I jus' be passin' though, so you 'kin be payin' me no mind, aye?" He shakes his head, leaping and 'gripping' with his feet to another tree, holding poleaxe in one hand to latch with his free hand to a branch in order to get better balance.

The athletic, acrobatic beast smiled down. "Though ye be an interestin' thing, ye don't seem ta be havin' any loot - an' ye had plenty o' chances ta be attackin' me, so I don't think ye 'kin be all bad."
Alone the wolf's bark would have meant nothing. It was another sound of the forest. Unusual for these parts perhaps but not too out of the ordinary. But the Gnoll, it was something unusual. Hyran stopped and watched the acrobatic display, surprised not by the performance, but by the performer. He stood not moving, he had no weapons, his blade having rusted to dust many years ago. It took his several minuets to find his voice, not having used it for so long.

"I am searching." his voice sounded like rocks grinding together, as he looked at the gnoll. it struck him why he was so unusual. It had been long since he had seen a gnoll so close to what they used to be. "Your kin are corrupted but you remain. You are an echo of the past." he stopped realizing that he could have use for the gnoll, he just needed to find out that he wanted. Turning he looked at the wolf, clearly seen from its out of season coat. There was something at work here, he did not trust the wolf.
Eyes squinting a bit as he inspected the creature, not having expected words from it at all. He leaps from the tree, relaxing the poleaxe on his right shoulder. "Whatever that deal is wit' an echo, I don' buy it. Tha gnolls are a part o' a wave. It flowed in, an' I'mma make sure it flows back out ta sea, an' the real land-cousins come back from wherever they came from."

He swipes his free arm dramatically, glaring. "Those thin's that allowed somethin' to corrupt'm are nae me cousins. I am tha true face o' the gnoll, one that'll be seen right quick... an' soon. Me life as a man o' tha sea on it." He taps the poleaxe, making a repetitive metal-on-metal sound with his shoulder armor. "An' wot 'uv you, then? Nevah seen a wanderin' monster. Are you one o' them...?" He shrugs, looking down at the wolf. "An' yer rations are so loyal ta be followin' you 'round!" He lets out a laugh, looking down at the wolf. "Ah, don't git rustled up, land-beast. M'not much inta flesh from the lands. I miss fish." He sighs, shaking his head - it was interesting to note his entire body went into the sigh... shoulders, back, legs, neck - everything.
The gnoll's accent was a little difficult to decipher especially when his voice filled with passion but Hyran managed to understand what he was saying. "The wolf does not interest me. I do not need its flesh." this was not exactly true, if a lone wolf had stuck around it had to have a reason, that aded to its coat meant it was not an ordinary wolf. Hyran was old enough to know of creatures and gods forgotten by most but the wold didn't fit. "I am searching." he said again. "The master is dead but we still serve. We too are echos and seek to undo the master's death."
Irrik snorted. People--as well as whatever that earth-feeding thing was--didn't eat wolves; generally it was the other way around. Truly a man (gnoll, whatever) of the sea, he concluded, with such ignorance. But he was getting tired of being treated as an object, and decided to communicate his own way, the way he had known since birth: With ice.

He aimed a good puff of breath straight at a nearby tree's trunk, combining this with a gesture of his right forepaw that put him slightly off-balance. His magic intensified the cold air, condensing and freezing pieces of water all at once, until a patch of snow was stuck to the trunk. He strutted over and wrote on it with a claw: "Irrik. Not rations. And what are your names?"
The gnoll considered the odd creature's words. "Ah. So we are alike but unalike. I'd shake yer hand, bu'... well, I really don' wanna touch ya. Hope that's nae to offensive, but... well, wot yer doin' ta everythin' else is... creepy." He makes a disgusted look, shivering a bit.

It was this point he glanced at the ration-wolf's display. He jumped a bit, making several gestures - spitting on the ground, spinning around in place, and taking a pinch of salt out of a pouch nearby with his left hand and tossing it over his right shoulder, before backing away, sprinkling the salt in a circle around him. "Demon-dog! I knew that foul thin' would be sendin' yer kin after me... begone, or I'll send ye meself!" He gestured at the wolf suspiciously with his blade, shaken at the thought of magic-using wolves... and his odd display of sailor superstition was, at least, colorful.
Hyran stepped back as the gnoll began enacting superstitions in reaction the the wolf's ability to not only summon snow, but being able to write in it. He stepped towards the patch of snow and looked down at the scratchings in it, at first mistaking them to random lines or a crude picture but then saw the words roughly written in the snow. So the wolf was a creature gifted with magic, but Hyran had never heard of such creatures, the most obvious answer was that the wolf was a shape-changer of some kind, but then why not talk.

"Hyran" he said in reply to the writing, deciding to find out why the wolf had come to them.
Irrik made a slight exasperated head-shaking at the gnoll's display of superstition. He couldn't very well explain, so he decided to try and get Hyran to do it for him. After nodding, acknowledging the being's name, he erased his original words by adding a little more snow, then wrote:
  • X-Demon
    O-Stuck in
    this form.
    Pleas Xplain.
He had to shorten things, or he would run out of room, he realized.

((I offset it like that so you can see the way it would actually read.))
Ex-demon. Oh stuck in this form. Please explain.

As far a Hyran knew no demons had Ice magic even if they where 'ex-demons', he read it again.

Ex dash.......

"Hes not a demon." he said finally. "Trapped in this form......." he paused.

"What are you, ex-demon? Shape-changer? I have never seen your kind before. Not since....." he stopped, better to let the creature answer.
"Stuck...?" He looked at the wolf, his own ears flicking. "I guess that be makin' sense. I think demons be a bit more tactics-like wit' their thinkin' an' plots." He walks out of his ring of salt, kneeling down with an apologetic look, ears dipping a bit. "Sorreh. I get a we bit... zealous. Ye'd be that way, too, I bet, iffin' you 'ad the same deal happening."

He nods, "My name be Heart-Fang. Once o' tha ship 'Fury' - monstrous terror o' tha seas. Nice ta be meetin' ye, though ye be only speakin' in words, an' I don' be knowin' how ta be readin'."
Irrik smacked his head above the muzzle with the lower (clawless) part of a paw. Of course one of the two he was sure he'd have to be helping wouldn't be able to read. He decided to try and respond to the other's answer in a way both could understand, just to see how perceptive they were.

So he did a brief pantomime. First he raised himself up on his hind legs and flapped his forelegs like wings, before quickly catching himself on the way back down. Next, he took a deep breath and puffed out a good bit of moderately cold air, which showed up fairly well as condensation. Deciding to go with something he didn't personally do, that might help things make sense, he formed a bit of ice in the shape of a coin in front of him and pretended to snatch it with a right forepaw. Finally, Irrik gestured toward himself.
The gnoll blinks, brow furrowed. "Wings... wind... shiny stuff...?" The first thing the gnoll thought of was a seagull, but that didn't make much sense. Seagulls were notoriously stupid, and the white wolf in front of him was rather intelligent. He thought on it for a bit.

Then it clicked. "Breath. Tha second one be breath... an' a coin..." His eyes light up. "Ye be a dragon! Better yet, ye be an' ICE dragon!" He nods, looking down at the wolf. "I be quite fond o' you types, why jus' a few months past, I..." Then he remembered the translation: 'Trapped in this form'.

"Aw, nae! Ye not be bein' tha' ol' ice dragon I met a few months ago, be ye?" His ears droop, and he gets a terribly sad expression, his entire body going into it. "...I hope ye not be cursed by tha demons fer helpin' me out... I'd feel terrible iffin' tha be tha case... Even if ye not be, I do owe tha ice dragons a bit o' a favor. 'Kin I be 'elpin' ye?"
Hyran watched the exchange, so the wolf was a dragon, cursed to one form. Seems everyone here was on a mission. But why tell them?

"Who cursed you?" he asked backing up the gnoll's inquiry. "And why?"
Irrik nodded, glad the gnoll could at least tell what he was least until he began to suppose that they'd met before. He shook his head, denying that he was the same, and made an expression with his forepaws of stretching them apart, then drawing them together, trying to indicate he was a bit younger, most likely, than whoever had repaid him.

Concluding it was really impossible to pantomime his next answer properly, he decided to write instead. This time, he made a patch of snow on the ground with some blowing and a gesture, and then quickly wrote on it:
  • gods were offended by my actions.
    Have to help one of you--don't
    yet know which--with whatever
    you're doing to regain abilities.
A small, slender figure clad in deep crimson stepped across the landscape, unforgivingly cold to her pale skin. Wings like a butterfly's lay folded against her back, her black hair drifting lazily in the breeze as she trod, shivering, through the snow. This couldn't be where she wanted to end up, there were no people here, how could there by love in this merciless, cold hell? Her lips were tinged blue in the frosty chill, her eyes glossy as she gazed at the white she found so stark, blunt... ugly.

Up ahead she saw figures, however. Desperately, she darted closer, hoping they might have directions to help her from this place. Her red skirts fluttered in the wind as she rushed towards them, the air chilling her lungs and she felt nearly lethargic.
Interesting... and useful. A dragon's knowledge would certainly be useful in finding a way to complete his task. He might be able to convince this one he should at least tell him...

There was a sound behind him and he turned suddenly. There was a slender figure approaching, there where a lot of 'people' here in the forest, too many for it to be chance, perhaps the god who had given the dragon his talk was at play...

"There is someone coming." he said to the others.