Ariana is wandering the Hedge, and is hopelessly, miserably lost. It was supposed to just be a quick jaunt to get her feet wet in the hedge, and maybe **NOT** be scared of everything that even had to remotely do with it. That plan went absolutely fantastic. "I knew I should have brought a guide," she mutters to herself, while she climbs through the hedge, being careful of the spikey thorns that jut out at every conceivable angle, and some that aren't conceivable. Do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid thorns that you literally can't conceive of?
Regardless, here she is, muttering and trying to push her way through the hedge to some sort of place that she might have seen at some point, green eyes looking around with soft little mechanical clicks while her lips purse and she stops to take a rest, and maybe get her bearings. Fat chance that.
Damion is on patrol. He's strong enough, and draws enough attention with his high Wyrd, that he tends go do so by himself. There are exceptions, but today isn't one of them. The giant dragonman is walking through the trods. Where he passes, the Hedge around him changes. A layer of gilding sliding over plants, rocks and other things. Small living creatures becoming more draconic in appearance. Old discarded items looking newer. He's keeping an eye out for potential dangers that might have creeped in since his last sweep through. Not that the Hedge ever stays exactly the same. Then in the distance he spots an unfamiliar figure moving along. He stops and peers towards the tiny dollgirl, studying her intently. She doesn't look threatening. And does look like she might be in trouble. So, he makes his way towards her.
Soon enough he tromps up to her. He's wearing a full suit of vaguely organic looking black armor, a huge sword on his back and a likewise huge revolver holstered on his hip. He inclines head head down at her. "Good afternoon. Having some trouble?" He does keep a close eye on her as he says this. You can never be sure if something is pretending to be harmless, after all. His voice is a deep, warm bass. And speaking of warmth, the area around him seems to be considerably so. And there's a sound like distant, heavy breathing.
Ariana starts when she catches movement out of the corner of her eyes, her body crouching as she gets ready to bolt in a second. She might not be as quick as the mouse, or a rabbit. But, she's at least been keeping up with her jogging, so she can get going at a considerable clip when she wishes to. She looks around at the sudden spike in temperature, her eyes narrowing slightly and trying to make her own decision as to this strangers intent. The hair on the back of her neck is already on edge, however. Not only is she lost in the Hedge, but now a wyrd-o has found her. Today... is clearly not her day. At the least, she hasn't run into the icicle... small blessings.
Taking a deep breath, and working on calming nerves that are telling her to start running, in any direction, as fast she can, she bites on her lip. "Well, to be fair.. I'm a bit lost. But then.. I guess that's what one would expect. Didn't mean to go on any sort of expedition, you know, just was... trying not to be afraid of this... erm... place? Thing? Kinda hard to stick a label on it... or anything with all this..." She waves a hand around in a vague motion... "Stuff..."
The dragon glances around the Hedge around them. "Yeah. It's kind of hard to give it a clear defintion. Other than dangerous. I can understand trying to get over your fears. But... there are reasons to be afraid of the Hedge. So in the future, you might want to bring somebody with you." Nevermind that he seems to be alone. But he looks fairly competent. "It can be easy to get lost. And you never know what you might run into. I can lead you to the nearest gate, if you'd like." He offers her a smile. Careful not to show his sharp, onyx teeth to the clearly nervous young toy. "My name is Damion by the way. Nice to meet you." He offers an oversizd gloved hand to her.
Speaking of "stuff" -- the Giant's Stairs where the duo finds themselves are a mad and twisting, gravity-defying nightmare of differently-sized stairways bending into and out of a massive cliff, a nightmare spawned of Escher's wildest dreams. It can be tough to tell which stairway is a continuation of your own, and which is a separate trod entirely, not to mention the minor detail of .. well, which direction really IS up or down? If you step off the edge of a stair, which direction are you really going to fall?
As Damion will no doubt know, from his own explorations of the area, ascending the miles-long nightmare of the Stairs is one of the most common and quickest routes back toward the Market and, thence, toward trods which lead more directly home.
Both changelings hear the sound of stone bouncing on stone somewhere above them, though when they see the stone itself, it's off to the right, thumping down into the thorny ground near the foot of the cliffs.
Ariana's head whips around lightning fast, as she hears the unmistakable sound of a stone bouncing down from higher up the path. Her muscles tensing even more before she looks back at Damion, and slowly puts her hand into that much larger glove and shakes it. "Ariana..." She says, by way of her name, before her attention is rooted at the path above her, her eyes going slightly crosseyed while trying to follow the various staircases up towards the sound.
She bets it's the icicle.. this would be about the time that November would find a way to scare her. She has no doubt in that, but those are suspicions that are best not voiced, and kept to herself, to harbor her secret grudge against the wyrd-o.. plus, it's not like Ariana would survive a second if the wyrd-o decided to end her. So, right now, she mantains her outward nervousness and silence, and just watches the top of the path, waiting on the big'un to take care of the danger.. 'cause she's definitely going to be outclassed. She runs. She doesn't fight.
The Stairs aren't exactly Damion's favorite trod to take. It could be a pain, and quicker or not, it still took a while to ascend it. He looks up. "We'll have to take this route, sadly. The Giant's Stairs." He starts towards them, then stops when the rock comes tumbling down. His head turns towards where it lands, then his gaze raises upwards. It could have been something harmless, a small hedge beast dislodging it or something similar. Or it could be a threat. He loosens his sword in its sheath just in case then looks at the doll. "Stay behind me." He considers, then unsheaths a knife at the small of his back, flipping it around and offering her the handle. "Just in case." Sometimes running isn't an option after all.
Sadly, Ariana would lose that bet. Good thing she didn't voice it! Nothing else seems to be moving down here.
Daron glances down at her again, thinking. Then he turns, and holds up one hand. "Punch. As hard as you can." Why? Who knows. Wyrd-o and all.
Ariana comes up short at that. And she kinda of just.. stares... at the dragon-thing. Punch? Really?! Now?! "If you insist," she murmers, and she leans back with every little ounce of strength that her small frame has. Which.. isn't really any at all. She's more lithe than muscular, and it's quickly apparent in the soft little smack that her fist makes against his open palm.
Yeah. That definetly won't work. He shakes his head slightly. "I was thinking of lending you my gun but... I think your arm might snap off if you tried." Then he turns and starts up the steps. One set of them anyway. Trying to remember the route he's taken in the past... though sometimes, he gets this feeling they change when he's not there. "Have you been in the area long, Ariana?" If it was possible to identify his accent, it would place him from somewhere around Chicago. He also used to be a professional boxer... but he looked much more human then, and she probably doesn't follow the sport anyway. So it's doubtful she'll recognize him.
Ariana has an accent that definitely places her on the west coast. She shrugs her shoulders, "A bit, but I don't get out all that much," she answers while she follows along behind him. "And not snapping off my arm is definitely a good thing," she notes while she occasionally peeks around his bigger frame, curiosity inevitabley getting the best of her while she follows up those stairs. She tries not to think too hard about what direction is up or which one is down while they climb. That way surely lies madness and peril.
And nauseation. Possibly vertigo. After all, within a few moments of walking up those stairs, A) each step is about as high as the average human's thigh, and B) the pair appears to be walking upside down, on the ceiling, and the trod where they just stood is now below their heads.
This, it seems, is where the rock came from...
What the two see ahead of them is not an icicle. It certainly isn't human, but it's about as far from an icicle as one can get. Somewhere in size between a rabbit and a cat, the creature has floppy, yet triangular ears, large slit-pupiled eyes and a fluffy, cat-long tail with big-footed bunny-like hind legs.
It's also made of fire.
At least, it LOOKS like it's made of fire. Or on fire. Or maybe it's transparent and its fur is fire? Whatever it is, it's flickery and tough to see the edges of. It's also staring at them, ears pricked, big eyes wide.
When they reach the flaming hedgebeast, or maybe just flaming-looking, Damion stops in place and studies it carefully. If it doesn't look like it's making any moves to attack, he doesn't either. "Hey there little guy. We're just passing through, right? Don't want to cause any trouble." He settles down onto his heels, smiling over at it. "Alright?" Trying to get a sense of whether or not it understands his words. He doesn't just slaughter every hedgebeast he runs across if he can help it, after all.
Ariana comes to a stop behind the dragon-born. Waiting on him to unleash his shout to talk with it.. or blow it away.. or something. Tilting her head while she looks at the bunny-thing in front of her, she is suitably awed that it appears to be on fire, but this is definitely the spring.. it's too early for all this hot stuff going on! "It's not like... the rabbit from Monty Python right," she asks.
The flaming beast continues to stare at Damion when the draconic man settles onto his heels, unmoving. As for whether it resembles the Beast of Caerbannog... that has yet to be seen.
Damion's nose twitches at the question from Ariana. "Lets hope not. I'd rather not die today." He continues to study the rabbit cat thing, then finally shrugs and stands up. "Well, we're going to go now. Take care, little guy." He casually reaches back with one hand towards Ariana, guiding her so that he stays between her and the creature as they start to move past it.
The thing about fire is that it isn't solid. Damion standing between the bunny and Ariana doesn't help, but the doll's nimbleness does.
The instant the duo gets within a range the critter feels threatened by, it flicker-flashes forward, flowing around Damion's leg to try and chow down on the doll with gleaming fangs of flame, but ends up skitter-skidding on the ochre stone of the step instead when that leg isn't quite where it thought it would be.
Ariana lets out a shriek as the rabbit comes right at her. "It is! It is like Monty Python," she whimpers, waving the dagger around more in an attempt to ward off the rabbit as it comes for her legs than to do any sort of actual damage. Her real goal being to scramble along the path and away from the critter while the bigger more experienced wyrd-o takes care of the heavy work. That's a much easier thing to do, than to try to stab it. The rabbit is kinda cute after all. In a blood-thirsty, just-went-after-your-leg kind of way.
After the beast attacks, Damion's sword is out in a flash, and he just barely manages to catch the nimble creature with hsi weapon and send it sprawling, badly injured. Looking down at the flaming cabbit, Damion frowns a little. He doesn't really want to kill it. But it's already hurt. And it might attack somebdoy else if he lets it go. So, he finally sighs and swings his sword down a second time, finishing the flaming lapine off. It really was a shame. It was an interesting creature. He cleans off the blade of his sword, then resheaths it on his back. "Lets keep going." He shakes his head a little then starts off up the path again.
Ariana lets out a soft gasp as the sword comes down a second time and kills the poor little critter... "You.. you didn't have to kill it... it was kind of cute.. I was going to at least tend to it," she says with a pout. Well, now you've done it. You made the doll sad. She frowns, and turns back towards the path, waiting on the big draconic brute to take the lead yet again.. thinking about her wonderful little attack-rabbit burning bunny pet.
The path ahead is clear for the next interminable series of twisting, brain-addling ascents and descents, beyond what looks to be a small pile of vegetation and, a bit higher up, a nest of sticks and branches and dead leaves with a single large, oddly-metallic egg in it. It's a lovely shade of bluish violet with a silver sheen. It's also at least as big as an ostrich egg.
Damion raises a brow at her. "It tried to attack you. And it was made of fire. I don't think you would have liked the results if you tried to touch it to take care of its wounds. Beside, we can't let a hedge beast that just attacks random people who don't threaten it roam around." He glances back at it as they walk. "Maybe there are others we could find." He looks ahead again. Then... he spots the egg. Stopping, he stares at it. Glancing over his shoulder back towards the dead cabbit, then sighing. "Fuck." He considers the egg.
Ariana follows along until Damion stops, saying, "Well, sure.. but I mean.. it could have been trained, and would have been the best pet ever I bet." Then suddenly the brute in front of her is stopping and she peeks out from behind him, "OooO! An egg! That's harmless.. and I bet it's the fire-bunny's... that means I could have a bunny and raise it from a little spark of a bunny. It'd be just like a Pokemon!" Millennials.
The wind carries the scents of leaf tannins and an odd, spicy sort of musk to the duo's noses as they debate the provenance and eventual disposition of the egg.
Raising a hand to his neck, Damion frowns a little and glances over at Ariana. "Well... maybe. If you kept the egg, you'd have to keep it at the Freehold. It would be too dangerous out in the normal world unless it was properly trained." He leans over, reaching out to carefully tap the shell with a finger.
Ariana frowns.. keeping it at the Freehold means she has to take the oath.. and... deal with other wyrd-os... "I mean.. yeah, that makes sense. I'll do that," she says with a smile while she stands there. Debating if an egg is really worth it, but having a pet would definitely be worth a little bit of discomfort, she thinks.
The shell clinks heavily, like metal, when Damion taps at it with his armoured hand.
After a time, Damion rests his whole hand against the egg, ready to take it away if it starts to hurt. If it doesn't, he'll then pick it up. "Alright then." He hefts it carefully. "Seems heavier than it looks." He turns back up the trail. "You can make it a nest, or something, later. For now stay close to me." He gives her a smile over her shoulder. "I hope it works out for you, darlin." Then he continues on.
Aside from an odd and bell-like vibration, similar to metal being struck with a hammer, but without the sound of it, no, the egg is just an egg in Damion's hand, and soon enough, that twisty section of the stairs is through and gone. Many others remain, however, and small creatures are fairly common along them, or larger ones, hobs appearing here and there, seeing Damion and Ariana, and promptly fleeing. Really, Damion especially seems to be prompting that.
Ariana quickly takes the egg, and protectively wraps it in her top, making sure that it stays close and secure to her so that it won't get broken. "Me too. It'll be nice to have a cool little pet," she says with a smile while she follows along behind the draconic-brute, watching the hobs flee, and twisting her mouth.. at least a little bit grateful that the brute is coming along with her.
Dangers running away form the pair makes things easier, and before long they're on trods that lead them to a gate, emerging in a section of town. Damion calls a cab for the dollgirl and her egg, and promises to set up a meeting with a different doll for her to get inducted into the Freehold and set up a spot for the egg in the Freehold. He also gives her his number, and tells her to call him whenever she needs help.
Ariana takes the number and nods her head, frowning faintly at the man while she says, "Well, sounds good.. thanks for the help getting out of there." She offers a smile at the brute, before she gets into the taxi to head back to the Wayhouse, and take care of all the things.