Log:Endurance: The Next One
|Endurance: The Next One|
18 April, 2017
A member of the freehold comes into Stoneheart, freaking out. (Part of Plot:Endurance)
It is, at least for the moment, a quiet day in Stoneheart. A few people and hobs are milling about, but there's not really any excitement. A bit of worry, a few murmurs about the missing Lost, but it's safe here now. In fact, those murmurs seem to be why a lot of people are here. To meet and discuss what happened.
Leaning against one of the crystals, Gisa is settled on the floor; her black coat is used as padding underneath her, and her black canvas satchel is settled against her hip. A paperback book is cradled in her hands, the golem contentedly reading. The shin on her forehead and her eyeflames glow gently and steadily.
Ashe is here this evening, the woman had a bag with things that needed to go the Autumn Court hollow as well, but that could come after stopping and conversing with people about the things that have been happening. She gives a nod to the faces she knows and then to the few hobs that might be new.
"Rule one of the Hedge, even a relatively secure corner of it like this one: Don't go alone," Grillo can be heard to say as he accompanies Max into cave-central. "That whole terrible 'buddy system' thing I said last night? It does apply here. Just smart going. More skills to survive, should things go seriously pear-shaped. " His umbrella does not look like much of a good weapon for hedge-going to really experienced eyes, but he's got it close to hand. "Hello!" he calls, upon recognition of faces like Gisa and Ashe, with good cheer.
Wandering into the Hedge, even to safe places, can be risky. In light of some recent incidents Tai has begun to carry her weapons with her more frequently, which are somewhat harder to obscure outside the Hedge. A heavy, wooden stick is tucked into her belt, vaguely in the style of an old fashioned nightstick, and her sword is held in her hand as she makes her way into the cave.
Tilting her head up slightly from the book she'd been reading, Gisa raises one hand in silent greeting to Ashe, to Grillo, to -- Max. It's possible to tell when she focuses in on the last of the trio, because the shin on her forehead and her eyeflames dim considerably, for a handful of seconds, before brightening again to their standard dull glow. "Shalom." Closing the book -- a battered copy of Feet of Clay, because of course -- she tucks it into her bag, folds her hands on her lap. This is social golem.
Ashe is quiet when she heads towards the Autumn cave entrance. She doesn't get farther than that due to hearing voices she recognizes. There's a wave to Gisa in return. Then the Shadowsoul is turning to look at Grillo and his companion. A bit of a smile slips through the shadows, "It is good to see that you are tutoring her in the workings of the hedge." she tells the man. "How are you all doing this evening?" she asks those that have gathered.
Tagging along with Grillo, it's apparent how excited Max currently is. Those bright blue eyes of hers are wide with curiosity and awe, and a wide smile resting on her lips. Like a kid on Christmas morning. She sticks close to her newly acquired mentor, though not /too/ close since they both have issues with touching. The enchanted mortal is dressed in her normal casual attire - a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, a tank top underneath, denim jeans, and sneakers, all various shades of black and grey. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail with a few strands curving around her face. "The buddy system doesn't sound so silly when you're wandering around a dangerous place like this," she agrees with the cricket. Spotting a few other familiar faces, she raises a hand to Ashe and Gisa. "Hey guys!"
Jonah is altogether caught up in looking to and fro at each of the Changelings and hobs moving about Stoneheart. His tall stature marks him as rather conspicuous, and the bright pink shirt he's wearing only makes it that much more difficult for him to blend in. Beyond the roseate top he's in jeans, and appears sans shoes today. Beyond his constant surveilling of the Freehold's hollow he's slightly occupied with giving a few messages to a goblinoid hob that looks to be getting tired of what its being told by the Harvestmen.
"Shalom, Gisa. Wonderful to see you again. I'm doing my best, Ashe, though so far it's involved discussion of "Labyrinth" as theory and a lot of cautionary tales," Grillo says of his own teaching. "Max requested my mentorship, so I'm doing my best to equip us with necessary knowledge. Forewarned, forearmed." This said, he turns a little to Tai. "Hello. Sorry -- C.J. Grillo. Don't think we've met yet, miss." The cricket, much more eagerly social, even if, for him, he's dressed down for the hedge. No usual suits, simpler clothing chosen.
A Lost runs inside, a member of the freehold people who've been in Stoneheart before have probably seen wandering around. He's tall and slender, skin pale green...or it is normally. Right now it's white. Too white. He looks like he's trying very hard not to be sick. "Oh god, oh god, oh god. Someone...you g-gotta come. It's bad. Oh god it's bad," he calls before falling to his knees and losing whatever he ate for dinner.
Tai bows slightly to Grillo, "Chen Tai..." She starts, only to have any other part of her introduction come to a halt when the Lost comes running inside. She straightens from her bow, blinking a moment in surprise before she starts to head towards them, "Show me..."
"Gisa Cohen." She starts to introduce herself to the others, and then... When did Gisa stand up? She goes from seated by the crystal to upright and in motion in much less time than those who know the golem would likely expect. "George," she addresses the vomiting Lost, "Please speak with calmness, if you can, and show us where the badness is." All other greetings or concerns drop to the side, for now.
Ashe gives a look over to Jonah as he enters and there's a wave to the large man. Then there's a smile to Grillo and the others, "If it works, it works." she tells the man. "I'm Ashe Whelan." she introduces herself before the person running in steals her attention. She heads over to them, reaching down to take an arm, "Deep breaths, show us what's going on." she states. "Keep Max back for a moment." she tells Grillo.
Max can't help but make a scrunched up face in brief disgust when the unfamiliar Lost vomits in front of her. Sure, she's sympathetic but that doesn't mean that she likes seeing such a sight in front of her. Then she glances briefly at Grillo, then toward Ashe as she recomposes herself. "I don't plan on charging in anywhere, but, maybe I can help with whatever is going on," she offers, letting her gaze start to slowly drift with curiosity in the direction that the Lost had come running from.
The entering Lost draws all of Jonah's attention. The hob's clearly pleased at this as it hurries away from the Ogre that's now walking over to the Lost. He rubs at the base of his horns as he ends his approach, mouth open to say something, but nothing comes for the time being.
Grillo crooks fingers at Max. "If we're needed, people will know quickly," he says, perhaps overconfident in this assessment. "But given the fellow's tossing his cookies over something in the Thorns, we might need to give the heavy hitters and experts precedent. And to get the poor fellow some water and some space in the meantime.""
George can't speak in any fashion for a minute. Even once there's nothing left in his stomach he dry heaves, arm twisting to grab hold of Ashe's arm and cling to her as he leans back. "It-it's a woman. Dead. She's dead. God. It's unreal. I mean she doesn't look real." He looks up at Ashe, then over to the others, looking horrified and miserable. "Why would someone cut her up and make her all...dead doll-like?" he asks, pleading for an answer.
Tai's brows lift a moment in surprise, "A variety of reasons..." She offers, glancing over towards Jonah when he heads that direction, then back to George, "Where is she?"
"Just hang back for a minute, I know you aren't going to go charging." Ashe tells Max with a bit of a soft smile. She was worried about safety as well. Then she looks to Grillo, "Thank you." she tells him. Then she turns her attention to George, help him carefully, "Can you point the way for us? We'll try to figure out what's going on." the Legate tries to have a calm tone.
Scooping up her bag, Gisa slings it across her body, and her expression -- mouth in a straight line, face a smooth clay mask -- doesn't change. Tai asks the question -- the golem remains silent, but not passive. A deep breath in and the sigh out sounds like a huge set of blacksmith's bellows being overworked.
A murder? Max's eyes widen even more at this revelation, for various reasons. "Oh, I can help!" she blurts out, wanting to be useful to the Freehold that had graciously taken her in. "I can see into the past, it'll be easy if I'm brought to the location the murder happened," she explains, glancing around at the numerous Lost gathered around her.
Jonah pinches at the bridge of his nose when talk of another murder arises, and lets slip a tired sigh. His gaze briefly lids, and then flits back to George as the other Changeling continues on. His attention goes around to each that speaks, and then falls upon George once more as he awaits a response.
Ashe gives a bit of a look to Max when she blurts out, "Come on." she motions for her and Grillo to come along. Not going to deny her helping with the situation. Then she pokes into her hair, "Wake up, Uvall." she states. A vampire bat scrambles out from the long locks and eyeballs her, "Follow above us. Let me know if anything seems off." she tells her hedge beast. Uvall bites her finger in response and then flies off.
George gulps then slowly gets to his feet, not quite steady, and he nods a little. "I...I can take you there. Don't want you getting lost...not finding her." He shakes his head. "She doesn't deserve to just be left out there." He's not eager to see that again it's clear, but he turns to head back out, though at a slower pace than before.
"Come on, then," Grillo says, both to Max and to others. "Hedge likes to encroach where things like this are concerned, so sooner we can see, the better, probably." He straightens up his jacket and shifts his umbrella, antennae at high alert, ready to follow the crowd.
Tai doesn't wait to see if anyone else is following, although by conversation it seems like most will be. She starts after George as soon as he begins to walk, a hand reaching out to give his elbow a reassuring squeeze.
Without explaining what she's doing to anyone, Gisa breaks away from the small group of Lost, heading off to one of the side rooms. Those familiar with the course of events to this point may be aware that this is where Beth's body is, swaddled in the ad hoc shroud Gisa made for her from a set of white bedsheets, in cold storage. The golem returns a handful of seconds later, stuffing white fabric into her black messenger bag, and following George wordlessly. Her footsteps are just as deliberate as ever, if a little faster than her usual paced trundling.
George is quiet as he heads out of Stoneheart and west toward the trees. He even follows a similar path Jonah and others took when they found Beth, though it's not quite the same place that they're led to this time. George stops just before a clump of wide trees and points, hand trembling a little. "There. She's there. Just around there," he tells them. And when the Lost continue forward they see a white-wrapped bundle, person-sized, if the person is large. It looks neat but for the top, where it looks like someone drew the cloth back then hastily threw it into place.
Even though she's fully aware and understands the seriousness of the situation, Max can't help but grin a little when she's given permission to tag along. While the group follows George toward the crime scene, she places herself somewhere in the middle of the group so she's not easily attack from any particular side. However, she does seem to hover closest to CJ and Gisa, especially the latter. Tough looking golems make good shields! Her gaze flits around this way and that as they travel, until they reach their destination. Then she looks over toward the covered body with furrowed brows. "It'll take me a few minutes to get a clear picture and all that... Anything you think I should look for specifically?" she questions the group, looking between them all.
Ashe follows with the rest of the group, her eyes keeping going back and forth from the group and then whats ahead of them. She stops when George states that the body is up a little further. "Do we know if it's safe to touch the body?" she asks. She wasn't sure how Beth had died other than being tortured. "Want to make sure there's no poison or anything that's possibly going to get on you." she tells Max. Paranoid much? Yes. Then the Shadowsoul steps up to the body as well. Get ready for grossness!
Grillo hangs back, in a sense, but it's not out of reticence; it's a kind of study in perspective. He's there to memorize, after all, at least in part; it's part of investigation. There's a sense of him studying the angles from which he can view what's to be seen. "That would be a kicker, wouldn't it. Using some poor person as bait to further harm. "
"When Beth was killed," Gisa tells Max, though she seems somewhat reluctant to include the mortal in the goings-on, even though she clearly is included, "her body had been dragged to the location. Dumped, like garbage." The golem's jaw juts out slightly. "We need to know where they came from, if -- as it is likely -- she was not killed on site. And of course, who or what killed or dumped her. We know very little from Beth's death." Her clay hands tighten around the strap of her bag. "We will want to save the cloth. Nana will be able to talk to the cloth as she did to the one wrapped around Beth, if no one here is able to do so."
Max slowly steps over toward the covered body and kneels down beside it. The mortal lets her hand hover over the deceased Lost without actually touching it. Slowly her eyes close and a look of concentration appears on her face as she starts to peer into the past surrounding the tragic event.
Ashe looks over the body, the tracks where the body was dragged. She presses her fingers into one of the sets of tracks, the ones that probably were not Georges. Then her black eyes look to the tiny scrap of cloth and she heads over to carefully pick it up with gloved hands, "Seems like someone lost a patch of their clothing." she states as she holds it up to the group.
Settling her feet akimbo, shoulder-width apart, the Earthbones wiggles her naked toes (hidden under those sneaky hedgespun without soles that she wears) against the Hedge dirt. Her fingers spread out, stretching in the air, and for a moment -- as her eye-flames flicker out briefly -- it seems like the forest leans in a little bit toward her, bowing inward toward the Elemental's call. A breeze stirs slightly, a loose leaf curling on it and spinning upward into the air, and then Gisa's eyeflames pop back into being, bright orange and shimmering intensely. "Well-seen." The compliment is followed with: "Can you talk to it?" Her throat clears. "I will try for tracks or a trail."
It takes a few minutes before the mortal reopens her eyes with a bit of a flutter. The last bit of Gisa's statement is heard by her and she glances toward the golem. "Check in the northwest direction," she tells her. "That's where I saw the wagon go." Rising to her feet, she lightly brushes her jeans off before taking a step back from the body. "The murder definitely didn't happen here. It happened in some... sterile looking location. I couldn't really tell if it was over here or back in the normal world," she admits with a slight frown. "What I saw was that a tall figure, male I believe. Thin. Dark hair with a bit of a metallic glint to it. It was around dawn when the body was brought here..." Her brows furrow slightly. "He set the body down on the cloth before folding, kissing her forehead before leaving her. Then he wandered over to his wagon and took off."
Ashe looks to Gisa and gives a shake of her head, "I cannot talk to it, but we'll make sure we find someone who can." she tells the Golem. "Thank you." she adds. Then there's a look to Max when she finally speaks and there's a bit of a frown, "I think it's safe to say he's a bit of a serial killer at this point..." she shakes her head. "Are you alright, Max?" she asks of the Enchanted one.
George is still here, but hanging back, not ready to get near the body again, even if it is covered up and not visible yet. He's just not getting annnny closer.
As Max says 'northwest,' Gisa is pointing down at a long, thin pair of footprints heading in the same direction; the grass bends out of the way of the Elemental's fingers, showing her the direction the tracks lead. "This matches what I have found," the golem rumbles, and then silences herself, turning her head to listen to the whole of the tale. Her head cranks a little further toward Grillo, as if to say 'you got that all?' before she rumbles at Ashe, "Nana can. She gave the memory of the first shroud to Rorschach, after she saw it and bottled it." A deep breath in. "We should follow the trail, but the body cannot be left. When it is all right to disturb the scene, I will call someone to begin sh'mira, and we can re-wrap the body, separate the shroud for Nana, or someone like her, as well." A deep breath in, and one out, and she crouches where she stands, unwilling to disturb the footprints just yet, but murmuring, "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha'olam, Dayan Hoemes."
"Funny phrase, bit of a serial killer. Just a taste," says the cricket with distaste. It's an almost jarring break in his silence; once in what might be called 'recording' mode, there's very little he says, only moving to make sure he observes as much as he possibly can. Sees the body. Watches those who look in other, more magical ways, to catch any words and detail plans.
A nod is given toward Ashe. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just takes a little out of me, you know?" Max replies as she straightens her posture. Though her gaze follows Gisa, the mortal makes her way over to stand more near CJ for now. "I could attempt to scry the location or the man I saw. Though, not right this second. That ability requires a bit of... preparation," she states as she takes a quick glance around. She looks briefly to the cricket, a small smirk at his comment. Then her attention returns to the golem in the near distance, raising her brow slightly as it's apparent she doesn't understand those last murmured words of hers.
"I wasn't meaning for it to be funny, my apologies for wording that poorly." Ashe states with an apologetic look to Grillo. She then gives a nod to Gisa agreeing with her on the body not being left. She gives a look down where they left George, "You doing alright?" she asks the man. Then to Max when she says she's alright and there's a nod, "If you need anything, just let us know." she tells her.
The cricket-man gives Ashe a smile that's reassuring as he can make it. "Black humor gets us through. No need to apologize." He turns to look at George. "Do you recall anything that drew your attention to have you find her? Any details that might be important, now that the first shock is -- well, hopefully passing?"
George still looks white, but gives Ashe a weak smile. "Not really. Never seen a body before. And I was just walking through, saw it...her. Flipped back the sheet and when I saw her? I flipped it right back over her before I ran for Stoneheart."
"What preparation will you need? And can you tell how long ago it was that she was killed? The tracks are no more than a day old, but she may have been killed before that." Since no one's really uncovered the body since George covered it back up. Gisa asks of Max, swiveling her head and considering the area as a whole. "George, can you tell us how you found this? Where were you coming from? What made you notice it?" The golem has assigned herself a task, and so little else seems to be impinging upon her thoughts. Unfortunately, that can make her a little... less gentle, than some of the other people asking. When George answers, the golem grunts once, a low sound like pebbles rolling down a hill, and pushes herself to her feet, propping her hands on her hips with a muted 'thunk thunk' of ceramic against ceramic, muffled by the denim of her jeans.
"I'm assuming within a day, maybe another at most. The further back in time that I'm looking, the harder it is to see anything. So, since this was relatively easy it couldn't have been very long ago," Max explains to Gisa. "Someone with medical knowledge and whatnot might be able to get an exact time," she adds a moment later. Sliding her hands into her pockets, she steals another glimpse around them. With the situation in front of her and all the reminders of how dangerous the hedge was, the mortal can't help but remain vigilant of their surroundings. "I need to be like, really high to do the scrying thing," she says as she looks back to the golem. "And a little time to meditate." Then her gaze drifts from focusing on Gisa and glances between the others. "Are there any similarities between this body and the last?"
Ashe gives a nod to George, "Just stay with us." she tells him. Then there's a smile to Grillo, "Thank you." she tells him. Then the woman steps forward once more towards the body and uncovers it. To do more investigation.
For those who saw Beth's body, this one isn't too much of a surprise. The large woman is perfectly cleaned, so even the cuts on her skin - and there are many - show no blood in them. Carved into her stomach is '66h 03m'. It's nice, neat, and those wounds are clean as well. Beyond that, and the other cuts, she's covered in bruises, burns, patches of skin that are mottled, and small puncture marks.
"Then it would appear that he is killing them and dumping them as soon as he is -- done. With them." For once, there's actual emotion in Gisa's voice. Anger, disgust, right underneath her usual stolid monotone. "We may want to move the body inside, and find -- or leave -- someone to sit watch, begin sh'mira, and follow the tracks before they are lost." She turns her head to Grillo, then back to Ashe, querying, "Do we know if this is the same place where the other body was dumped?" Gisa's shin on her forehead flares, and fades again to its usual steadiness. "CJ, do you remember what the number on Beth was? I think it was shorter." Gisa takes out the white sheet that she brought with her, and shakes it out, apparently preparing to re-wrap the body in the one she brought.
Ashe looks down to the numbers carved into the bodies stomach and there's a frown, "66 hours and three minutes." she states. "Beth's been found for longer than that. Is it a count down of some sort?" she asks herself. Then there's a look to those talking about Beth, "She had numbers as well. Interesting." the Shadowsoul frowns.
"Thirty-five hours, twelve minutes on Beth. So yes, a much smaller number, Gisa. Do we have...a name for our newest victim? Anyone recognize her at all?" the buglike man asks. "A name, a Court, whether she's familiar to any of us?" There's a certain sense that it's an effort to make her a person, one remembered by someone, annd not just a corpse, this line of questioning.
"From what I could gather at the last scene the time was how long they were tortured, Little Shadow" Jonah notes to Ashe. "Which I could believe at thirty-five hours, but sixty-two hours is a tall order for even my own fortitude." A slow shake of his head follows as he nears the body, and begins looking over every inch of skin that he can save moving the body. "Same death as Beth, too. Her wrists slit, and from there she bled to death." He lifts a hand to smooth back hair that isn't there, and almost knicks himself on his horns. As he stands back up he offers a shrug. "However, something of this magnitude isn't completely impossible for one person, but I may be an ignoramous on the matter."
Ashe looks over and then up to Jonah when he speaks to her and the Shadowsoul frowns, "That's..." she trails off and there's a nod to the large man. "This is Annabeth Williams, she was a Courtless, but we should notify the Freehold that she's been found. She went missing aon the 12th from rumors." she states. "I will take George back to Stoneheart and make sure that he's going to be alright. Please be careful in the travels across the Hedge and do not travel alone." she tells them. There's a look to Jonah, "You either, big guy." she tells him. With that, she walks to George and takes him by the arm to speak with him quietly while they walk.
"Torture?" Max grimaces a bit at the thought of it, clearly a bit unnerved. "If there's any similarities between this victim and the last, people with the same features or whatever can be warned or like, protected somehow," she points out, even though she's sure she's not the first person to have such a thought. And by her tone it's also clear she doesn't think she has to worry about being a victim by this particular serial killer. Then she glances over to Jonah and shrugs. "Well, the killer was the only one around when she died. I can't say for sure before that, though."
Physically, the only similarities the two victims share is that they're women and Lost. Beth was slender, lovely, a Fairest. This one is bigger, muscular, and while not ugly, isn't a raving beauty either.
"Missing on the twelfth -- found just now -- but under three days of torture, somewhere in between those six days. There's a timeline to explore." CJ looks up at Max. "Not that I'm an expert, but those similarities are pretty minor."
The golem slowly shakes her head. "There is little similar among them at first glance. It is possible that we can find other similarities on investigation," answers Gisa, adding, "Are we intending to follow the trail while it exists? Or return with others and attempt to do so?" While she talks, she carefully -- almost delicately -- unwraps the muscular woman, spreads out the clean sheet on the ground, and carefully lifts Annabeth onto the sheet. "Forgive us," she asks of the corpse, her voice quiet and creaking, like stressed stone, "We should have started looking for you as soon as you were missing. We had three days."
To Gisa's question about whether or not they should follow the trail, Max gently shrugs her shoulders. "It'd probably be better to follow with more of you guys in case you find something or someone, right?" she points out. Then she eyes over the body a bit more, her brows furrowing lightly in thought.
She moves the body as carefully and as easily as if she were putting a child to bed, and Gisa's ceramic hands follow the lines of the limbs as she arranges them on top of the sheet. "I washed and prepared Beth's body," Gisa says quietly, adding, "I sewed her together after the autopsy. She was slender, yes, but she was muscular. Like a dancer. Athletic and strong, as a dancer is strong. Annabeth is built -- more -- like me. But taller, I think." The golem's only five foot six, after all -- just built like, well, a rock. "It would seem... " and here she pauses as she wraps the body securely in the sheet, her motions almost ritualized, "... that our killer is being extremely scientific in his torture. Perhaps we will find some sort of terrible journal when we find him, detailing how long different body types hold up. Maybe he will have found twins, to see how different twins hold up. Our very own Lost Dr. Mengele, this one." The golem turns her head to the side and spits on the ground. "Er zol hobn paroys makes bashotn mit oybes krets." Whatever that means.
Jonah waits as Gisa begins wrapping the body back up, and then looks off to whence they came. "Well, madame's, I cannot speak much for the logistic of these psychopathic killings, but if there were perhaps something scientific in nature I would offer my services as I do that of the Harvestmen to the Freehold." To that end Jonah briefly bows his head. "Do you require any aid with Miss Williams? If not it may be best to take her home, and give her the proper respect she deserves."
"Do you need any... help with that?" Max also offers to Gisa after Jonah does. Though she really doesn't want to be touching a dead body, she doesn't mind helping her golem friend. Those bright blue eyes of hers flit between the two Lost still lingering around before taking a glance around them.
"You're right, Max. We should bring a group that is more set up for investigation and potentially for fighting, if we should find him." Gisa takes a deep breath, recentering herself, and lifts the body like, indeed, the big muscular corpse of Annabeth is nothing but a small, sleeping child wrapped snugly in her sheet. "I have her, thank you, Jonah. I will be sure that she receives proper preparation for burial. I did this for Beth," she explains, somewhat distantly. "If you want to help me once we are back to the hollow, I will teach you." Her voice has gone back to its usual monotone, and her shin burns more red than orange, but it's Gisa. "Come. Let us go. We will return with a better hunting group."