31 March, 2017
A group of Lost go to investigate something odd in the woods. Part of Plot:Endurance
There were whisperings today, just after noon, really, from the hobs around Stoneheart. Nothing concrete, just vague noises about something weird and unpleasant in the woods. None of them really wanted to touch it.
Those whispers carried to the Lost, who have either decided to go check it out, or who have (or will) meet up with those investigating. For now they're at the edge of the trees, Stoneheart clearly in view. From where they're at, it all /looks/ normal. But in the Hedge, looks are very often deceiving.
Wearing his suit of scale and leather riot gear, his massive sword angled across his back and gun at his thigh, Damion stands by the edge of the woods. He's watching the trees closely. Even if there weren't those whispers from the Hobs, the Hedge is the Hedge. Even the seemingly safest trod can be dangerous. Eventually, he turns his attention from the trees to whoever is already gathered, taking in the little group.
John may have been there forever, or may have just wandered up. Whatever the case may be, the usually unnoticed Winter Wizened steps out onto the trod, hands out and up to display their emptiness, and says, "Peace." to the other Lost present. "May I join you? I presume we are all tracking down the same disturbance?"
Aneira shows up on time, for whenever on time for this event is, with a rapier slung over her hip and clothing suitable to trekking around the Hedge. The ice woman is silent as she arrives, maybe dipping a nod or two toward the few recognizable faces already here but otherwise as expressionless as one would expect from a mien as hard and sculpted as her own. She takes up an outlying position in the clearing, such as it is, and waits.
Doll arrives appearing from some shadows that only seem to darken around her presence. She's in a long black cloack with the hood drawn over her head, her silky black strands spilling out with loose waves. Whats exposed of her pale skin appears to have hairline cracks and those brilliant green eyes of hers appear to be made of glass. She gets in the wake of the warrior, weaponless herself, but the intrigue has drawn her here. Her own gaze lacks emotion but those eyes are ever wide and wondering. "Yes. I'm curious to know what the talk is about in the woods. Shall we all go?" Her own soft voice speaks.
Jonah's arrival comes a bit later than the rest. The Ogre's interest was piqued by something strange, and here he is. He's dressed in a plain white t-shirt, jeans, and, surprisingly, shoes. His gaze lingers on all of the present lost, and to the question he simply shrugs. "I don't see the harm in all of us looking around."
Damion studies each one as they emerge or arrive, giving them a nod and a sharp-toothed black smile. "Hey there all. Damion King. Nice to meet you, those I haven't met already." He glances at Jonah when he arrives and nods towads his Captain. "Jonah. Glad you could amke it." He considers the outfit the man is wearing and asks, "Why all dressed up?" Whatever the answer might be he then turns to the woods. "So...anybody have any ideas on where we should start looking?"
The hobs gave vague directions...which mostly consisted of five minutes inside the woods going due west from Stoneheart. If they're right it shouldn't be /too/ terribly hard to find...right?
"I'm ready to go whenever the rest of you are," Aneira says after a long moment of silence on her part, her voice as chilly as the rest of her appearance. She flexes her fingers, a little hint of eagerness at the idea of getting out into the Hedge, and gives a slight disapproving sniff as she mutters, "Hob directions." Out comes her rapier with a sibilant rasp of metal against leather.
Jonah turns his attention to Damion, and then looks down to his shirt for a moment. Another shrug follows, and he points off to the west. "We start looking thataway, and see where fate takes us." To that end the not so patient Ogre starts marching off.
Doll seems to blend into any shadow she comes across, making her hard to spot especially when she's standing still. She nods when they all get the direction sorted out and will follow silently while keeping to the darkness.
Doll nods to Damion. "I can easily slip away if something tries to hurt me." She assures him. "Try not to worry but I'll stick close either way." She says while adjsuting the hood around her face, one can see her nails are made of glass as well it seems.
People start heading off, following the directions given by the secretive hobs. They tromp through the woods, some more quietly than others, and they do a pretty good job of sticking to due west. When they get several minutes in, some of the Lost might notice hobs watching them, but nothing approaches them or tries to stop them. They do hear a weird, high-pitched, creepy giggle once, though it's quiet.
It's right about five minutes after they entered the woods that they see something ahead. Something bright white on the ground. It stands out drastically with the wood and leaves and thorns around them. It's not small either. Perhaps six feet long, and it's not flat. At a glance, from a distance, it looks like...a white rug, rolled up?
Aneira answers John's question with a slight shrug, stepping forward into the brush and scanning the area for tracks and signs of recent passage as the group moves along. Upon reaching their apparent destination, she stops and surveys the area, checking the path behind them and pacing the perimeter out of an abundance of caution. She leaves actually investigating the thing to the others.
Damion nods at that. "Well. I went into the hedge recently with a sneaky little bug. I ended up having to help carry him when he wasn't sneaky enough and got mauled by squirrels. So be careful." Then he falls into the marching order behind Jonah. He eyes each Hob they pass, but since they're not attacking he doesn't start anything himself. Then the white shape appears in the distance, and he squints at it. "Is that a...rug? Just sitting there? That's not suspicious at all."
John arches an eyebrowa as he approaches the white thing to examine it more closely.
Jonah's one of the louder folks marching along, and those horns don't do much to obfuscate his presence. He remains unperturbed by the attention of hobs, although he does pause when that odd bit of laughter rings about. His gaze narrows as they move along, only to widen in surprise again at the bright bit of white in the Hedge. "Is it a lost carpet, or something worse?" he asks of those investigation.
Doll tips her head as she spots the rug, hair tumbling all over one of her shoulders. "Whatever it is I would be careful around it." She suggets, holding up a finger as John seemingly gets closer to it.
Damion probably would have kept his distance at first, but it seems John is going right over to the thing. So the Fairest moves with the smaller Lost to approach the item. Once closer to the thing, he circles it and studies the item, looking for any obvious signs of a trap. "I don't know yet."
When they get closer, the white thing looks thinner than a rug, but heavier than, say, a sheet. And it's clearly wrapped around /something/. And it's been messed with. The lower half looks neat, very precise, while the upper half looks like it was quickly tossed back into place.
John says, "Hm." He looks around and says, "Would you like me to unwrap it, or will one of you be doing the honors?" He adjusts his gloves a bit, to make them tighter.
"Traffic is fairly recent," Aneira says from her position on the perimeter of the area, having done a loop about the place by now. "Seems like quite a few denizens of the Hedge came to take a look already."
Jonah stands stock still, gaze unblinking for a beat. It takes a few moments for him to snap back to reality, and then looks over to John. "It should be safe," he responds to Doll. He caps this off with another shrug, and crosses his arms over his chest. "Go ahead, if you don't mind it."
Damion frowns a little. "Mmm. And none of them took whatever it is. That's not really a good sign." He glances around. "But I don't see any corpses either. So either whatever is under there isn't lethal, or somebody else took the bodies." Then Jonah speaks, and he arches a brow towards Jonah. "Yeah?" He looks at John and shrugs, drawing his sword just in case.
Doll moves a bit closer but she's not going to be the one to touch it. "If so many have come through why have none done something with this?" She wonders and glances towards John as if he's going to be the one to peek under that sheet like object.
John nods to Jonah, looks to Doll and says, "Likely because they're not a pack of exceedingly powerful Lost." He squats down by the thing, and begins to unfold the cloth.
It's not probably no surprise to anyone, and certainly no surprise to Jonah, when there's a body under the cloth that John gently pulls away. A Lost, and most certainly a Fairest. Or she was, once. Lovely, at least her face is, with long black hair and pale skin. And some of them have probably seen her about the freehold at some point. She certainly seems familiar. When he opens the cloth more fully, they see she has a dancer's build. Strong, toned, lithe. And she's nude. More, and the most concerning, is that someone's carved into her belly, just above her belly button. No words, no symbols, the carving says: 35h 12m.
John frowns deeply, and moves slightly away, so that others can see the woman. "Do any of you know her?" he asks. He doesn't disturb the scene, at least as best he can.
Damion grimaces at the sight of the corpse as it's unwrapped, settling down onto his heels next to her snd studying the body. "Well... that's not really unexpected." He tries to spot any signs of what might have killed her while asking, "She looks kind of familiar, does anybody know her name?" A pause. "And I guess that explains why none of the Hobs took the body. They didn't want to get blamed if somebody saw them with it." He focuses on the 35h 12m. "Hours and minutes? Maybe they torured her somehow?"
Doll pokes a nail to her lip as she looks over her fellow fairest, shaking her head. "No, I don't think I knew her..." She says soft, still fairly emotionless. "Thirty five hours and twelve minutes?" She questions aloud. "She doesn't look very tortured or anything." She notes.
The woman, it should be noted, does /not/ have flawless skin, though she is perfectly clean. It's hard to see everything, given her perfectly positioned pose on her back, but there are burns on the bottom of her feet, pale marks that may be fading bruises, and lines across her legs, like she was struck with something thin and long. And who knows what else may be revealed when they turn her over? If they turn her over.
Aneira takes a few steps closer to the body once it's unwrapped, looking it over. "I recognize her. Beth," she says, her tone neutral, chilly and not particularly shaken by the sight. "A Spring Courtier. Not someone I knew well." She cants her head, causing a spark of sunlight to bounce off her faceted edges. "It's been too long for it to have to do with the passing of the season. Turn her over?"
When the rest of the corpse is uncovered, Damion sighs. "Well, I guess that's a yes on the torture. Great." He squints at her body. "Looks like she had her feet burned, was possibly beaten, and....whipped maybe? Or flogged. Or one of those things that means 'beaten with something'." He looks up at Aneria, then glances at John before rolling the corpse over onto her belly, to reveal what might have been done to the other side of her.
John looks at the others. He's not going to turn the corpse over until...but then Damion moves her. He says nothing, just moving slightly back and, while the others focus on the body, he looks at the cloth.
"Beth? Did she say anything last you saw about somewhere she was going or doing?" Doll wonders as she moves in some to peek at the turned over body, curious to see what might have been done to the other side. Maybe more clues, maybe not. "Its obvious this was left as a warning of some sort."
The body moves easily when Damion simply rolls her over, moving with that utter limpness only the dead who have been dead past rigor can manage. There are a few marks on the back of her body as well, but the most notable are the X's slashed into both wrists. Beyond that there are bruises, mottled, almost blue patches of skin, and more burns.
Damion studies the wounds on her wrists closer. "Huh....you know, for somebody who seems to have been killed by having her wrists slit, there's not really a lot of blood. Or any blood, actually. She was drained, maybe? Fuck. I don't want to know what somebody would want to do with a few gallons of Lost blood. But it probably isn't anything good."
Jonah remains silent when the sheet's removed to reveal the body. His gaze shifts between those speaking as context is added to the woman's identity. His breathing hastens at the mention of torture, and it's only when Doll Damion speaks a second time that he begins to calm back down.
"I'm not the best person to ask," Aneira answers Doll as she looks over the back of the body and gives a slight shake of her crystalline head. "She needs to be taken back to the freehold, and this needs to be reported to the Queen. The Spring Courtiers will likely know better what Beth's plans were recently. Someone can take a proper look at her body once she's out of the Hedge."
John looks up from studying the cloth and says: "This is a hedgespun piece of cloth; it is whole and not cut from a larger piece. It seems pure and unstained, though that could be the nature of the cloth. Let us see." With that, John pulls out a pocket knife and nicks himself above a portion of the cloth that is not near the body, dripping a couple of drops of blood on it to see what happens.
The cloth...turns red. It is hedgespun, but it doesn't react in any special way when stained with the blood.
Doll watches the blood drip onto the cloth...and stain it. "The lack of blood is strange." She notes. "But maybe we should just get her back to the freehold? Someone might be able to figure out what is going on if we know the whole story."
Damion studies the cloth as John dribbles blood on it. "Okay. So it does show blood. Meaning there was none left when she was wrapped up. Yeah. Definetly drained." He shakes his head, then says to Aneira and Doll, "You're right. We should bring her back. I can carry her, once we wrap her up again."
John puts his gloves back on, then takes his knife and cuts off the piece of the cloth that he bled on, pocketing it. Following which, he helps re-drape the cloth over the woman and adds: "If that is a time that has been marked upon her, this may not be something we wish to wait too long on the assistance of others for."
"As you say," Aneira replies to John. "I see no reason why this wouldn't be reported immediately, to the Queen or whichever Council member is available." She casts another glance about the area warily, moving to pace the perimeter again as the body gets wrapped back up.
Jonah cants his head briefly while looking over the body. He looks to each of those speaking, and settles on John. "The time is another factor. It's how long it took her to die." He shakes his head, nostrils flaring as frustration's beginning to set in. "I don't get the point of all that. Not a damned bit."
With assistance from John, Damion carefully rewraps the corpse. Once it's firmly bound, he lifts it up in his arms and then stands. He turns back to the others. "I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the first body we find. Hopefully, we can figure out who did this and why before that happens. If not...we'll make them pay for what they did." He nods back up the trod. "I guess we should head back now."
John looks up at Jonah. "Why do you believe that the numbers indicate how long it took her to die, as opposed to some sort of cryptic warning of events still to come? If it is how long it took her to die, where does one choose a starting point for such a thing--point of capture, point of consciousness or first act of pain? Lastly, if that -is- the case, it would likely be a good idea to have the Courts see if anyone is missing, and have folk check in with their motleys and friends to make sure no one is out there in the waiting room to join this poor woman."
Aneira shifts a sideways look at Jonah through the corner of her crystalline, faceted eyes. "Are you certain?" she asks on the tail of John's question, the audible temperature of her voice dropping a few degrees further. She says little else, dropping her gaze down to the shrouded corpse briefly.
Jonah looks between the two Harvestmen, and then nods. "Yes, I am certain." To John he notes, "I see things, and some others won't likely see. However, that goes with being a Watcher." And slightly insane, most likely. He then turns around to eye up Damion, briefly. "After you're done carrying that back, I need to speak with you when you've the time."
"If anything we should at least get her back to warn the others." Doll points out. "Having more people in the know may mean less ending up like this." She nods towards the sheet. "I don't feel there is much else we can do at the moment unless one of these hobs has seen what happened?"
Damion glances at the nearby hobs. "I might come back here later to ask some questions of them. But for now, yeah. We should head back." He considers Jonah for a few moents then nods, "Yeah. Of ourse." Then he starts up the trod back towards the way they came from. "One way or another, we're going to find out who did this."
The hobs are careful to stay out of the way. If anything is visible, generally it's just the eyes, or a flash of movement. But they're staying well out of the Losts' way.
John says, "It is not right for me to enter the Freehold until I have properly sworn or am an official guest, and so I will take my leave. I will, I hope, join your fellowship in due time. Should any of you wish to speak with me, I am often in the Crossroads Cafe."
Aneira turns and paces after Damion, evidently with the intention of escorting him and the corpse safely back to Stoneheart.