OPEN SIGNUPS Terrenum: The Great War

One Who Tames

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One Who Tames

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The Lowlands was a lot of things in Terrenum. It was a cultural and ethnic melting pot. It was a region perpetually confused about its identity. It was forever overshadowed by its neighbors. However, when people thought of trade, they thought of Gallant - the heart of the Lowlands and arguably the largest single city on the continent.

Those who live in this city for an extended length of time know it as River City. Its name was officially changed by the church (at some nebulous point in the past) in order to honor the heroes of the land. Since then, its name was shortened simply to Gallant.

Gallant's geological advantages are significant. The city sits at the mouth of an elaborately carved estuary which provides it with a significant natural breakwater for shipping. Its river is fed by the many tributaries from the Highlands to the West. The rich arable land throughout the Lowlands are perfect for farming communities. Since most bodies of water lead to Gallant, this makes the city a natural trading hub.

Gallant is not without its flaws. Sanitation has been a considerable issue. The standard of living continues to improve with the implementation of advanced plumbing and sanitary technologies, however, this is an ongoing process. Additionally, the Church of Our Goddess maintains a strong presence in the city and are able to aid in matters of spirit and health; their churches often double as clinics across Terrenum.

The city was never as cleanly planned out as some of its neighbors. Its patterns of growth can be marked by the ever-expanding patterns of walls from the initial settlement. The newer areas are, of course, typically much more modern and better planned. Some of the inner walls were removed to repurpose the materials and create more space. As a result, the defenses and layout of the city as a whole seem eclectic and arbitrary. It is also a fairly spread-out city lacking in buildings taller than two stories. The tallest structures in Gallant, aside from its formidable walls and attached guard houses, are the central keep, the main church and the warehouses at the docks.

The wealthier districts are located near the main keep (the most defensible position in the city, being as it is behind many concentric layers of walls) and near the outer layers of walls. The slums and lower-income housing tend to be between the two, where the buildings and infrastructure lack the careful planning of new construction and have yet to be rebuilt to modern standards.

People in the Lowlands lack a unified cultural identity in part because of Caerbea, far to the South. The region has long been a tributary to the powerful city state. Thanks to a powerful military patrolling its territory and a remarkably relaxed set of governing laws for its vassals, most citizens of the Lowlands enjoy a relatively safe and uninhibited existence. While a "noble" class does exist to some degree, the Caerbean tendency toward meritocracy and emphasis on strength and trade has enabled an odd Capitalist approach to life in the region. Since Caerbea ostensibly owns the land, the "upper class" tend to be successful businessmen instead of hereditary nobility.

The primary reason that the Lowlands does not outproduce its neighbors in food is simply because of their dependency on walls. In the earlier days of Terrenum, most settlements needed formidable defenses not from their rivals but instead from monsters. Caerbean military presence and a sprawling industry of adventuring guilds have markedly reduced the threat of monsters to the point that new farms are being built without walls. However, this level of safety is fairly recent and habits die hard.

As part of the terms of their vassalage, no governing entity in the Lowlands is allowed to have a standing army. Mercenary and adventuring guilds, however, are encouraged. While this system has its problems (and the issues are many), it does effectively decentralize and reduce the military potential of the region.

Here is where you come in...

How you ended up here is of little concern. The important part is that you, adventurer, work for a guild named the Shield Brethren of River City. You carry a copper token stylized with the guild's standard; a shield over a river feeding into a greater body of water. Despite its name, the guild is neither religious nor unisex - however, the influence of the Church of Our Goddess is ever present and the vast majority of its members are male.

You find yourself in the heart of the city bordering the slums and the lower class residential areas toward the outer walls. Rent is much cheaper here and the smell isn't so bad. There is a modest amount of coin in your pocket and you, for whatever reason, have yet to find your own home and therefore stay at the guild barracks for now. Your livelihood depends on completing tasks for the guild master.

So, hero... where do you go from here?
 
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Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
Ilystasa sat in the common area of the guild hall strumming a tune on her lure and humming a key that complimented it. She wasn't as much a fighter as some here, certainly capable in her own right, but she had a knack for making others listen.

She finished up the tune and weaved her way through the people to the job board. She wondered if there were any suited for her talents. Her eyes looked at the various postings. There was always something on there that required a delicate touch, but as an undocumented user of magic she could not simply expose what she did.

Instead, she reached for one. The bracelets on her wrists gave a little jingle as her hand was guided by the Master she served to better serve its agenda. She looked at the ticket. It was never the simple ones. "Sure lets poke the bandit nest and wee what falls out."

Now it would have been simple to do this with an extra blade or two, but it was rumored once she turned a whole group against their Leader. It wasn't far from the truth. Her patron had done so and for her team lived, but she was something of a bad omen since then only used as a weapon when the need suited someone.
 

One Who Tames

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The guild hall tended to be busy in bursts as people came-and-went between jobs. In moments of low business, the hall could end up packed to the brim. Right now it this was less the case. There was much to do across the land.

Banditry was ever a problem, even in peacetime. With the sporadic raids from Hectate ruining people's lives, many saw opportunity for making a quick bit of money. There were also quite a few displaced people from Iron Harbor after the disastrous raid on that noble port city, farther to the North. As Ilystasa looked over the notices, she would find no shortage of jobs for dealing with these brigands.

A voice boomed over the modest commotion in the guild hall.

"Oie! You there," the man said, gesturing directly for Ilystasa . "Yeah, lass. You! Guild master wants a word before you find anything too interesting on the board! Anybody else 'ere low level? You two, then! Follow the lady. C'mon, move along!"

The odds were good that the person yelling for her, a burly, pot-bellied bear of a man, didn't actually know her name. He probably assumed she was an entry-level adventurer. By the silver coin on his shirt, she could easily see that he was an officer of the guild. He also bore a few scars and walked with a limp. More than likely he was considered a senior member too broken to adventure but useful for his wisdom and skills.

Considering the circumstances... Ilystasa would realize she probably had a chance to blend into the small crowd and take a job of her pick. However, this was an opportunity to meet with the guild master directly, which was something she had yet to do.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
Ilystasta tucked her hair behind her ears and offered him a smile. Her tone was tinged with warmth as she replied to the man. "And who am I to say no to the guild master." She walked over, securing her buckler and small pack across her back.

She followed the burly man taking note of the details. Each of these things told a story, perhaps a chapter. "Did he say what for", she asked, changing her tone to inflect innocence and enthusiasm someone green would have.

Her eyes looked toward the job board only briefly. The jobs could wait probably. Dues needed to be paid in the name of cover and in time she might even get invitations for them when her merit was proven and the others had more to go on than the rumor that got her hired in the first place.
 
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One Who Tames

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The man let out a deresive snort at Ilystasa's question as he lead her to the guild master's office but didn't reply. The other two who had been rounded up for this seemed every bit as eager to learn what was going on as Ilystasta's tone suggested.

"Big door at the end of the hall. Get a move on."

The man spoke his peace and stood to watch them go. His eyes may have lingered on Ilystasta a bit. While there were women adventurers, they were not nearly as common as men.

Once they arrived and opened the door, the three of them would see a big, well decorated office. On the right wall were shelves of books from floor to ceiling. Any closer examination would tell that most of them were ledgers, job records and logistics; basic boring accounting crap. The back wall, behind the desk, was mostly windows. This time of the year they were open to try and kick up some kind of breeze. On the left wall was a closed door and a minibar filled with exotic bottles from distant lands as well as lots of locally produced bourbon. The desk itself was a big, fancy piece. It had scuffs and scars from its many years of service and it might have been salvaged from an adventure.

The head master sat in a big wicker chair designed to let the warmth of a body drain away instead of being captured by something made out of stuffed leathers. The head master herself was a woman with jet black (if, by now, graying) hair, brown eyes and an irritated scowl on her face. By all accounts, she might have been quite pretty when she was younger and she still had a fit body for being half way through her thirties.

"Ah, there you are," she said. She sat back in her chair with a glass tumbler held to her forehead. To your surprise, the tumbler held ice in it; ice was rare at this time of the year. The glass itself was probably real lead crystal as it caught the light brilliantly; likely an expensive import from Kingsland. There was a golden coin pinned to her shirt showing the guild's sigil. This was her badge of authority and shown her as the proprietor of the company.

"I'm sure you heard about the attack on Iron Harbor," she began without ceremony. "We've had to divert a lot of our best up North to help clean up after that affair. It seems many of the demons and undead spawned by those cursed blood letters went wild after the fight." By 'blood letter', she meant Hectatae blood mages. "They're terrorizing homes all over the region. The Castellan is at his limits and his guards are pulling double duty as city constables just to keep order.

"Put it simply, everybody is short-staffed over this. That is why I need you three."

One of the young glory seekers accompanying Illystasta could no longer contain himself. He nearly yelled out, "Are you sending us to fight demons?"

There was a pause before the guild master (or guild mistress in this case) burst out laughing. "What," she said, not even trying to compose herself. "Oh, Goddess no! Can you even imagine? Holy shit, boy, I said we were sending our best up North! No, no, no... With all of the shuffling of personnel, I've had to start sending the less experienced teams out to hunt bandits and collect bounties. You'll be going to augment one of these teams."

The man who spoke out with such excitement now flushed brilliantly at her laughter. With his ego shattered, he fell into a sullen silence.

"You'll be going up the poor man's road to the swamps and meet up with the group there. They will be there regrouping for their next sortie. You should make it in three days of travel. You will also be taking a purse with bank notes for payment to the boys already out there as well as travel money."

"Will we be getting horses," asked the other young man. The woman let out a bark of laughter.

"Get going," she commanded.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
She held her tongue on the matter. There could be horses, she thought. She tapped her pointer fingers together as she grinned at the other two. "Let me see what I can do about that."

She walked through looking for friendly vendors that had been touched by her magic before. It was a risky prospect to use magic without paperwork and she did not. She did not desire the attention it brought or the fear. Fear worked against charm.

She weaved through the city to a small stall that mostly went ignored compared to the others. She smiled her same charming smile. "How's business?"

The words flowed from her in a singsong way. She looked the man over. "I didn't see you at the tavern last night for my singing. I sang the one about the White Knight and Demon."
 

One Who Tames

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The guild mistress didn't bother watching them go as the three new teammates filed out of her office. On the way out, when she mentioned getting some horses, the other two looked intrigued. They evidently didn't think she could pull it off but were willing to see what happened.

When she arrived at the stall and called the man out, he looked up in surprise. He had a face that was difficult to put an age to. His expression was one of surprise at seeing the musician.

"At the tavern," he asked, evidently playing for time to get his thoughts together. "I ah... I was busy, uh..." When she mentioned the subject of her song, the man seemed curious. He shifted in his spot and leaned in a bit. "Yeah? What's that one about?"

A good musician rarely had trouble garnering attention even without enchantress spells. The same could be said for a pretty lady. He had his attention focused on her for the time being. The other two adventurers stood a bit back from her, yet he hadn't paid them so much as a glance.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
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Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
"The White Knight with sword and steed with eyes to make the demon bleed. He rode the day and rode the night to rid the land of demon blight", she sang gently before pausing after the first verse. "Jordanus the Unbreakable. Slayer of a whole company of demons alone. They say he was a swordsman, but also wizard, blending the two into one discipline....or so it goes. Either way the locals love it.

No matter at all. When I return to town I shall have to sing once more. I am afraid the road calls, but the journey to give much needed morale would be much quicker were it to be on horseback and not foot. Do you think you can help me in any way? I'd be grateful beyond word alone."
 

One Who Tames

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The man listened with an attentiveness that Ilystasta would come to be used to by now. He seemed eager to hear more about the story. Even the two young adventurers behind her seemed interested. When she left him on a cliffhanger, he frowned. However, when she asked for horses, he blinked and then shook his head quickly.

"These are not my horses," she said quickly. "'I'm responsible for them but I just work for the stall owner. Hells, we don't even own any of these horses! People just rent the space and we tend to them!"

Ilystasta was not new to using her powers. She would see the longing in his eyes and the rise of panic as he considered the implications of an idea he should have turned down out-of-hand. In the back of his mind, a part of him was looking for justification for this.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
"I know. I know." She patted him reassuredly.

"But I see you believe in me and that steels my heart even as the road ahead would prove perilous." She offered him a smile and bid him well as they departed.

"I have one other I might ask favor of", she said. "Otherwise it looks like we're walking, but do wait here. They are untrusting and reclusive to most." Who she had in mind was her contracted patron, but this was a chance to gain trust she felt they wouldn't want to turn down.

She went back through an alley, then another before she came to a door not far from where she left her comrades. She stepped into the place with the twist of a key and locked the door behind her, then barred it. "Patron hear me. I've been entrusted with a deed of some import and have need of horses. Grant me this to spread your influence."
 

One Who Tames

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There was a pause while Ilystasta waited for her prayers to be heard. Then there was a low, subliminal rumble that shook her body. Once the reverberations faded, a smooth, pleasurable voice sounded in her mind. Despite how easy it was to listen to, there was an edge to it.

"You summon me for this...? Horses?" There was a long moment of silence before her patron spoke again. "Human animals are ruled by their greed. Appeal to that greed and you will get what you want." The voice sounded dismissive of her plight; as if the answer was so simple.

"If you can not handle it on your own, then I will lend you my power - but at a cost. Get the person to consent to physical contact. Ensure that their eyes are locked with yours when you do this. I will... make them pliable.


"In return, you will give me a soul. I care not whose. Do this as it is convenient. I trust you remember how?"
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
She nodded at the Patron. The gears in her head turned and turned. She knew of one other man that kept horses for use on short notice and made her way to him. He wasn't a nice man and more than once had she rebuked his choice of words, but with her patron this would prove easier.

She walked into a building on the edge of town, a short ten minutes from where she was and to a tall man laden with muscle. He was a businessman, known for his horses, long silky hair, and piercing blue eyes that seemed to judge harshly. "Jean, how fares the day", she said in melodic tone.

She walked closer to him and he eyed Ilystasa with a deal of caution. Still he kissed her hand as she presented it. He was not without presentation you see, making sure all saw him with the Songstress. Her eyes looked his and his back. "T'was well Songstress and now that you are here I hope to add to my successes today."

She returned the smile. "And you mine, but I must make haste to deliver something of import. For if only mine and my comrades feet were swift as your horses. I was hoping to make a deal." She presented half of her cut for travel and sighed. "Will you help me Jean?" She placed her hand upon his face, her eyes still on his.
 

One Who Tames

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Jean's expression was skeptical but he did not turn away from her touch. His eyes were on the money first but soon he met her eyes to, presumably, give her the bad news.

"This isn't a charity case, girl..."

He trailed off. His expression did not change but he became still for a moment. She could not feel her patron working through her, however, she would know how to tell the signs by now. She would also never find out just what manner of consent he had given to her touch.

It took him a moment to recover from the meddling that had taken place in his brain. He blinked and took a breath then rocked back a bit on his feet.

"You need horses," he said, his tone lacking the earlier passion.

It is best not to give him time to think about this.

Her patron's whisper echoed in her mind as his presence quietly receded.

Jean moved to prep three horses for Ilystasta. Of course, it took some time to do it right. By the time he was turning them over to her, the effects of the spell seemed to have worn off. She would know from past experiences that pressing her luck too much, or lingering too long, might undo some or all of the effects of her patron's meddling.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
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Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
She handed him a larger cut than she had previously presented him, reducing from each of her and her comrades pool of travel expenses. When all was done it was one person's full amount of expense evenly split.

She did not linger, instead making due haste to where her and her comrades waited. "Do we get horses? One supposes we do. Now let us make haste. I suggest we travel quickly before the negotiated price is rescinded."

Her things were ready to go already having escorted the horses herself and picked up sustenance They rode from the gate to the open road, consulting the map now and then to make sure they were heading the right direction.

When they rested she sang for a short while at the villages, for free of course, but never turned down coin or food. That was not the way of her. She wore the guild's seal where she went so they would fondly remember the seal in future days.

Her comrades seemed to enjoy her work also, given any reward she managed be it smile or favor worked for them. "Farewell friends! I shall return! Or come see me in the city!" She blew kisses as they left and went on their way.
 

One Who Tames

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It was, perhaps, for the best that she did not return to the first stable worker with her spell. When she arrived with a trio of horses she would find her two companions chatting amicably with the man about their assigned task. The cat was, as it were, out of the bag with him and it was clear there was no money to be made on this investment.

When he saw her with horses already, he had a mix of emotions color his features. He seemed happy that he wouldn't have to turn her down but sad that he wasn't the one to fulfill her need. There was some jealousy and curiosity. He didn't ask her how she came by these horses but instead bid her farewell and safe travels.

Suffice it to say, her two companions were in awe over her score. They had not at all been given nearly enough money to rent, much less buy, horses of their own.

It would be impossible to travel with somebody and not come to learn a little about them. One was a tall, strongly built redhead who seemed always to have a big, toothy grin on his freckled face. He was clearly of Caerbean descent, although culturally he was as much a Lowlander as anybody she had met. His name was Aaren and he was a loud, playful sort who lacked much of a filter. He also claimed not to have a last name and wanted to make one for himself on his adventures.

The other person was quite a bit shorter with black feathery hair that spoke of distant elven interbreeding. He was every bit the mutt that most people saw Lowlanders as. He was also the one who asked about fighting monsters. His name was Devon Riverman. The young man was inquisitive, talkative and head strong. He took care to make sure his prayer token was visible around his neck at all times, despite the fact that it was only a wooden relief carving of the Goddess.

Both of them were, at most, early twenties. Aaren fought with an arming sword and medium shield while Devon preferred to try holding his arming sword with both hands while forgoing a shield, claiming that it "slowed him down".

Undoubtedly, Ilystasta would be able to make some money while performing. This would neatly cover most of her personal traveling expenses.

The weather conditions were positively divine during their ride. However, the same could not be said for the safety of the road. At one of the many river crossings, they came across a stone bridge with three wagons sitting idle upon it. Two were traveling in the same direction as them while the third was facing them. The river here was not especially wide but it did cut deeply into the earth, making it difficult to see the water without getting closer. A series of thick, robust vines seemed to have grown out of the river and up either side of the bridge. Each had a "tiger stripe" pattern of lighter and darker green colors.

As they came nearer to the bridge, the horses became unsettled. Flies could be seen buzzing around the bridge, but not on the bridge itself, and they would be hit with the barest hint of a putrid, rotting smell.

Because of the debris already on the bridge, navigating it would require some maneuvering at a walking pace, although they could easily get through it without having to dismount. The only other path would require them backtracking and taking another road. It would add a day to their travel, however, with the horses they would still reach their destination in good time.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
Roleplay Invitations
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Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
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Genders You Prefer Playing
Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
She held her hand up signalling for them to hold. Her gaze fixes upon the vines, then the stench. "By all the unholy smells. Move the horses back and ready weapons. It smells worse than a butcher's quarters in summer."

She drew her crossbow. Ideally they would have moved their horses far enough back and tied them to something. She fired a bolt into the plant vine, muttering a prayer the damn thing wasn't sentient and wanting to eat them. Just in case she was ready to dodge it.
 

One Who Tames

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"Holy shit! Did something die," Aaren yelled right after Ilystasta commented on the smell. Devon looked pale and remained silent.

There would be no trouble in finding a spot to tie the horses up. Despite how fertile the land was in the Lowlands, relatively large areas were uncultivated. A well-positioned tree was easy for them to find.

When Ilystasta called for the dismount, the other two were confused but went along with her. She seemed to know what she was doing so far. They flanked her but didn't seem ready to fight; more curious about what she was getting ready to do than anything else.

Her bolt struck the targeted vine at the edge of her crossbow's effective range and became stuck in it. To the immense surprise of her companions, the vine twitched as if in pain and attempted to lash out at whatever had stung it. The vine turned out to be quite a bit longer than it had first seemed as it thrashed about. Finding nothing, it coiled in toward the bolt, writhed for a moment then extracted it.

A low, deep rumble sounded from the bridge. They didn't so much hear it as feel it reverberate in their chests. The rumble came, lingered for a moment then fell silent. Then it came again, feeling somewhat like the footfalls of a giant.

The offended vine began to, much more slowly, move away from the bridge. It seemed to be gradually searching along the grass and dirt road. Black ichor ran from the modest bolt hole and, as it moved closer, the stench became stronger. It moved plenty slow enough for them to avoid it but if they stayed to watch then they would see it stretch to around one hundred feet in length. There were at least five other vines that they could see on the bridge.
 

Esper

Dungeon Mistress, 9th Circle of Hell
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
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Genders You Prefer Playing
Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
It depends on the plot and my role in it. My role playing style is a little of both. The plot isn't all about me and so as long as everyone is having a good time, then style matters little.
Favorite Genres
Steampunk
Fantasy (High, Low, Modern, and Romance)
Cyberpunk
Paranormal
but in the end it is the plot that matters and interesting characters.
"Light some torches, I will distract it with my bolts. Chop the tips of vines off and don't breathe whatever that is. We don't know if it's poison or not. When you get an opening throw them at where I spill the oil. Last I checked plants don't like fire.", she said as she fired moved around.

It had reach, but she wondered if it had eyes or was just feeling them out. She reloaded the crossbow and fired another bolt where she put the first hole to distract it. She wanted the vines to follow her around the trees, reinforcing the idea with another bolt as closest to the tip as she could get it.
 

One Who Tames

Spread the Love
Original poster
"Fight it without breathing," said the redhead. "Yeah, that sounds like a plan." He laughed while the other man looked more than a little nervous by the whole affair.

Neither of them seemed excited about the idea of getting close to the thing. The shorter of the two did begin setting up a torch, however.

When another bolt hit near to her first mark, the tentacle-like vine gave a start and flailed about with sudden speed. There was another deep, low frequency rumble from the bridge. When the vine calmed down, the redhead went to take a swing at it. He missed completely, however, and had to make another swing to try and regain some of his street cred. This time he nailed it and cut deep into the vine, severing a roughly three foot length from it.

"Oh, Goddess," he yelled while backing away. "That thing stinks!"

The vine writhed and pulled back into the river. All of the vines on the left side of the bridge slipped free and there was a prolonged splashing in the water. A longer series of rumbling could be felt through their bodies. Then the tentacles they had seen retreating came up over the right side of the bridge.

One of the wagons was caught by the tentacles and, as they were pulled taut, it shattered. The stout bridge seemed almost to buckle. Then a huge mass of... plant? Creature? Something pulled itself onto the bridge with a great deal of force. It sent one of the wagons wheeling off down the other side of the bridge.

What came out of that river is somewhat difficult to explain. It had a central body that was more-or-less spherical. Coming off of that central body were six smaller bodies, each tipped in a long, powerful tentacle-like vine. There were many smaller tentacles all over the body, especially around the top. The top of the... thing was bright lavender, while the rest of its body was a mix of earthy green. Pseudopods sprouting from the top of it lifted and began to slowly turn this way and that as if searching for something. Eventually one of them settled in their direction. Then another one aimed toward them. Soon all of the stalks on that side were "looking" toward them.

"Holy shit," yelled the redhead. The other man had dropped his torch and ran to the horses, who were presently screaming and bucking at the ropes holding them to the tree. Another heavy rumble sounded from the beast, which was at least as tall as two of those wagons stacked one on top of the other.