Logs:A Dangerous Hunt
A Dangerous Hunt
|Summary:||Dale leads Luisa on a Sacred Hunt on a strange beast he found in the swamps around their territory.|
|Disclaimers:||Light Gore, Language|
The swamps behind the abandoned warehouse seem to go on forever, with little to differentiate one plot of land from the next. This particular clearing is well known to the Aces and Eights though, the shallow pit filled with muddy water ringed in rough-shorn standing stones marking it as special. This is where they were called to meet.
Dale is already here, nearby to where Luisa has her things, mostly arcane contraptions of unknown use... or maybe just bits of wood and animal remains. Hard to tell with her. There is a small fire, and above it a tripod of green saplings holding a stone bowl. It is over this that he is waits, tending the fire while the rest of the pack arrive.
Calling anything Luisa's ever made with her own hands a 'contraption' would be very generous, indeed -- she's very much a traditionalist when it comes to the witching. 'If it can't be done with blood and bone it ought not be done' and variations thereof have passed her lips many, many times. There area number of small bundles of herbs, some hanging from the surrounding trees or cobbled-together drying racks, as well as a variety of animal bones, some lashed in to distinct shapes, others left in small piles for later use. Skins and pelts are scattered about as well. Luisa emerges from the swamp in human form, arching and twisting in odd directions as she approaches. Joints pop that really shouldn't; it's likely she's been spending more time as wolf than woman, then. "Dale." is offered in a low tone. She lingers nearby, leaning against one of the stones. Waits for the others.
Dale stoops low to add some more wood to the fire. Until now the flames had been kept low, but with the sun low on the horizon he is building it up now. He has a small basket with him, and he takes some herbs from it, putting them into the stone bowl atop the fire. He looks over to Luisa, and his usual flat expression and rough exterior seems to soften just slightly. "Little sister." he replies, motioning to a stump between them where there is a small cloth bag and a leather skin with some kind of liquid in it. "Food and drink." he explains, "Take at least a bite and a mouthful, but have as much as you like."
The bag is full of dried meat from a recent kill, the skin full of a homemade spirit made from fruit with some sort of spices, flavor of smoked wood, and a high alcohol content. "Thanks for coming. I found something I think will interest you in particular. Not sure what the hell it is, but it smells funny."
"I got that impression." Luisa murmurs, "I know you lot are always whispering and fretting over me, but have I ever /not/ been there when needed?" Her tone is somehow warm and gently needling all at once. How like a sister, then. She leans over, takes a couple sips from the skin, a few pieces of dried meat. Chews idly while they wait. "Smells 'funny' though. Funny how." Her hard hazel eyes stay fixed on Dale; she's never been shy about eye contact. Or apologetic. "Elaborate."
Dale gives a half smile, "Just cause you always are doesn't mean I can't thank you for it." he says, poking at the sticks in the fire one last time before heading away from it and going to stand near her. The meat is lightly seasoned, just a bit of salt, maybe an herb there, the spirits are smooth despite the potency, a little earthy tasting. "The fretting is because we care about you. The whispering is because you can be a bitch." He's matching the eye contact, and the gentle needling. "It's different than anything I have smelled before. I thought it was an alligator at first, just a big one. There's something else under it though... the kind of musk you only find with hot-blooded things. I saw tracks nearby last week, and I have been looking for it since. I think I found where it's at, or at least where it spent a lot of time. Might be a spirit-possessed, but that's more your specialty. I just know it isn't 'natural'." He uses his fingers to make air quotes as he says that word.
"I am a bitch." Luisa gives a little shrug to accompany the words, clearly untroubled. Another piece of meat. Chewing as she ponders this. "Smells like a lizard but..." she trails off, eyes wandering off, up and to the right at first, then down. Almost as if she's reading a chalkboard only she sees. One hand stays largely still, which the other gestures vaguely while she works through... something. Then as suddenly as it started this little 'episode' is over and those hazel eyes fix on Dale once more. "Ridden, maybe. But it would be very strange to find the spirit of something warm-blooded in a lizard. Maybe more abstract, something you just associate with mammals. Rage? Reptile tend to do things because they're necessary. Fear, yes. Anger? Rare." She humms softly.
Dale chuckles softly, "You can be. You're a softy sometimes though." he kneels down, grabbing a piece of the dried meat himself as well, chewing it as he watches her. Its a patient thing, letting her work it out. "Could be. This is just different. Never ran into it before. Still haven't laid eyes on the thing, but that's the plan for tonight. Track it down, and kill it." He takes the stopper out of the skin and takes a deep drink, letting the heat of it fill him. "It's been close enough to here that its a threat. Do you need anything before we head out after it?"
"Not that I can think of..." comes the little brunette's response, after a brief moment's consideration. "The others aren't coming, then...?" She glances around as if just now realizing it's only the two of them. "Or perhaps later." A little shrug. "Whatever. Lead on, I guess."
Dale looks around too, sighing softly, "I don't think we should wait any longer. We need to at least figure out what we are dealing with here. If I can get my jaws in it while its close then we can at least track it later if it takes the others too." He steps over to the bowl of herbs, smoke starting to rise from it. He motions for Luisa to join him. He waves his hand through the smoke, bringing it over his chest and around his head, breathing it in as his eyes close. His body begins to tremble, the sound of flesh tearing, bones popping as the joints dislocate and limbs lengthen. It's still Dale, just a bit bigger and hairier. His eyes open, and he uses a claw to cut along his palm and drip blood into the bowl, looking to Luisa expectantly.
Luisa shifts in similar fashion, though the results are decidedly less impressive; it's no secret she's not a great help in a fight, but not useless either. She moves forward to stand opposite Dale across the bowl, wafting the smoke around herself and breathing deep. When it's done she too slits a palm, squeezing it over the bowl to let her blood mingle with his.
The Blood mixes with the ashes of the burning herbs, a slight sizzle as it puts out the embers, and Dale's claw dips in, mixing it all together. There isn't a lot of blood, so it makes a thick paste. He reaches out, using it to mark a symbol on Luisa's forehead, and then traces the same on his own to mark them both as on the hunt. As he does, he speaks in the First Tongue, <<Father, we honor this night in memory of you. As you stalked the great wilds in ages past, so too will we claim our birthright tonight. Watch over us Mother, as you always do, and let our Hunt please you, and leave our mark on the land>>. With that he lets his head back and howls. It is a deep, mournful sound as it echoes through the trees, rising up higher towards the half-revealed moon above. He pulls at the shirt he was wearing, tearing the fabric free, and then drops low, shifting again ashe lets his pants and shoes remain behind, sure to not sully the Hunt with anything. There is enough of a pause to let Luisa follow, and then Dale is heading off into the swamp towards their chosen prey.
Luisa does not flinch as Dale anoints her (they're doing better, there) and joins in the howl in whole-hearted fashion, closing her eyes for a long moment as a shudder works through her body. She opens them again just as he tears off in to the surrounding swamp, and is close on his heels. It was a lot quicker for her, no real preparation needed given she'd been nude since she broke the treeline earlier.
Dale leads the way through the swamps, and after a short time he changes direction, b-lining it off deeper through some shallow water. It's here that Luisa would be able to smell it for the first time. Definitely reptile there, and definitely large. About the size of a man, or maybe larger from the sign that she can see. It is more than that though. Whatever Dale was trying to explain this is it. Like the difference between smelling a snake and smelling a raccoon. Dale shifts to his near-wolf as they run, and Luisa would be able to tell they were getting close as well, the scent stronger even through the wet of the swamp. <<Up ahead>> is growled out in the First Tongue, and Dale slows his run as he steps out into a small clearing of the underbrush.
The clearing is almost entirely coated in water, but it doesn't seem deep, and the trees and branches around it have been knocked over to make an almost perfect circle. In the center, there is something in the water that looks like a hairy log. It turns slowly, the eyes and maw of an alligator looking back at them, but there is something not quite right about it.
The witch seems content to follow along when it comes to the hunt; she has always been one to hang back, let the others do the bulk of the tracking, show up where she's needed... but tonight her nose is holding its own and she's right there with Dale. <> she responds, having long since shifted in to near-wolf herself. Then they break in to the clearing, she sees that hulking form. <<This... may be a problem.>> It's a difficult thing, whispering in the first tongue, but if any might manage it, it would be Luisa. Too late for stealth and strategy, though. The thing is already clearly aware of them. <<Fuck.>> More of a bark, there.
There is a low growl in Dale's throat, and he circles the thing as it faces them, putting himself closer to it than Luisa is, and off at an angle, forcing it to choose where it will keep its attention. Teeth bared, the Urshul speaks to his packmate again, <<Do you know what it is?>> The thing raises up out of the water as he speaks, the arms and legs of it showing as it stands to the height of a man. Dale lowers himself, readying to pounce if the creature attacks.
<<Dale...>> Luisa calls, beginning to circle the thing as well, but keeping well back. To her credit she appears far more concerned with her pack-mate's position than her own. <<I was right, more of less. Have some ideas. Nothing we can use right now, though.>> Her fur is bristling, and she's growling even as she speaks, trying to keep up an at least somewhat dangerous appearance.
Dale growls deeper as the monster looks to Luisa, stepping closer to it and snapping his jaws in its direction. The reptilian body swishes back in the water, facing the more aggressive wolf again. The thing on it's back though, is staring lifeless eyes back at Luisa. It is pale, long limbs atrophied as if having starved for years. There is a deep red coating the hands, streaks of it around the toothy maw that hangs open in a languid way. Sharp talons tips each finger and it is hunched over, a tongue attached to the monster like a lamprey, but it is hiding in Twilight. Dale shakes his body, ruffling the fur up to look larger than he is, <<This isn't the one I was tracking. It is smaller.>> he admits, eyes darting around them to see if there is anything else nearby waiting to attack them.
<<Smaller.>> Luisa echoes. <<Alright.>> She's calm, but doesn't exactly sound confident. <<And what do you propose? We try our luck?>> Her attention is focused on the thing riding the almost-crock. <<It is ridden.>>
Dale lowers his head, a deep growl coming out as he gives a response, <<Then we need to try. You deal with the spirit, I'll take the beast.>> He doesn't wait for an affirmative, instead letting out another howl, piercing the night air as he lets the rage take him over. It is a liberating experience, feeling it well up within him and then boil over. As he fades, letting his instincts take over he focuses on the monster before him, raising up on two legs as his body shifts to the warform.
As Dale shifts the spirit pulls its tongue back into the fanged maw, and slides backwards off the creature. It is shorter than a man, not much larger than a child really, and in the water it is over half covered as it skitters sideways around, stalking Luisa before darting in to attack."
The great gray wolf that /is/ Luisa for the moment crouches down as the odd, skittering thing only she can see rushes toward her, waiting. When it draws near enough she leaps sideways, the lamprey-tongue flying past her, razor sharp little teeth at the end grasping at the air. She goes for the thing's neck, missing but goring its shoulder deeply as she literally flies past, clawd feet sinking deep in to the mud beneath the water as she prepares for the next pass.
Dale and the alligator beast are locked together. The jaws of the alligator head are clamped down on Dale's chest and shoulder, blood dripping down into the water of the swamp, and Dale's claws are gripping into the sides of the beast. The tail is thrashing, spraying water and mud everywhere as they turn around each other, the Rage within Dale steadily taking over more and more. The air is electric with the energy of it, nature itself seeming to respect that primal power.
The spirit is leaking a milky-white liquid from where Luisa had struck, the torn ephemera in the right spot to make one of the things long, thin arms go limp. It does little to make it look better as it moves, a loping stride taken as it rushes at the gray wolf again, the barbed tongue whipping out towards her.
Luisa waits for the thing once more; it's so quick and erratic in its movements that it really doesn't make sense to chase. This time she's standing at least partly in the water, though, and either that or her new-found (over)confidence proves problematic. The strange tongue lashes out again, this time finding purchase in her side; the result isn't physically debilitating, no more than a particularly nasty cut, but the agony that results, seated deep in the pit of her stomach, that is something else. It gnaws at her insides, and at the back of her mind. Anger, then. Anger at being hurt, at its attempts to worm inside her. She twists, bodily, clamping down on the tongue maybe a foot from her body and ripping at it with her fangs.
The Gauru and the Alligator-beast continue to thrash in the background, chunks of meat and fur being thrown into the swamp as tooth and claw rend in both directions. It is difficult to tell which of them are ahead, both bodies being mangled and bloodied. The Gauru heals as quickly as the damage is taken, and the scales of the other seemingly holding out and protecting from the worst of the damage that would otherwise be caused.
Luisa's jaws clamp ontop the tongue of the spirit, and as she bites down it tears, more liquid white spraying out and tinting the water as it comes free from the thing's body. There is a screech, that seems to amplify the empty feeling within her briefly, and the spirit skitters backwards, a slash of long claws as it retreats.
There's a lot going on here. Luisa's gut is trying to destroy her from within and doing a reasonable job of it, Dale is losing bits.... And in the moment she's foolish enough to look after her pack mate she feels the sting of claws -- yelps for the first time since the start of all this madness, and turns to face the now tongueless thing with rage boiling fresh behind her eyes. <<I will end you>> is hissed to none in particular as she barrels toward the thing, jaws clamping down on its other shoulder to tear muscle and sinew away... or the spiritual equivalent, at least, leaving it just as useless as the limb she'd ravaged before, but the wolf decidedly worse for wear.
The battle between the larger monsters seems to be tipping in the favor of the Rahu, one of the Alligator monster's arms gripped by the sharp talons. Dale bites down at the thing's shoulder, the sound of tearing flesh and cracking scales leading to a roar of pain as the arm comes free, held up in a triumphant howl. Almost too fast to see the beast twists, and a massive, powerful tail smashes Dale in the chest, knocking him back into a tree and fracturing the wood with a loud snap. The Alligator-beast starts to flee, going into deeper water as Dale lets himself go, the throes of Kuruth taking hold as he bounds off after the thing, disappearing through thick brushes and palmettos, the sound of splashing and crashing receding as they get further away.
The little spirit screeches as another massive chunk is torn from it, and it falls back into the water, partially floating and partially trying to scramble back to its feet. There is a hiss, spattering white ephemera into the air as it makes one final attempt to best Luisa.
The thing yowls wordlessly as Luisa bears down on it, useless arms crumpling beneath the full weight of the wolf. She looks it in the eyes, snarling... and the great jaws close over its head. A second or two later its skull shatters under the pressure. There is no time to gloat; she turns toward Dale and the alligator beast, too high on the thrill of victory to be slowed by her wounds just yet... but Dale in Kuruth; even at her best she couldn't keep up with that. So she doesn't try. "Mother willing you'll best it." she mutters, slumping on to a nearby log in the same moment she shifts back to human, a symphony of tearing flesh and bones asked to do the impossible. She sits on the log for a time, waiting to see if he'll come back or she'll have to track him down. Finally reaching down to touch the sizable gash in her side she mutters a soft, "Well, fuck me." The wounds are already starting to knit together ever-so-slowly at their very edges.
With the spirit dead, it melts away, back to the Hisil as the traces of it wane from the world. The time that passes as she waits for him is enough to let the wound heal well, and as soon as the skull was crushed that wretched feeling in her guts fades, a lingering burn all that's left of the horrible feeling. Eventually, there is the sound of water, nearly a half an hour passed since the two disappeared into the swamp, but back through the brush comes Dale, covered in blood and mud, making his way through waist-deep water in Hishu, panting as he drags something behind him. He looks over at her, and there is a genuine smile at seeing she is mostly alright, "You got it?" he asks, but it is more of an excited tone than a questioning one as he hauls the body of the alligator thing up next to her, letting it float there in the shallow water as he looks her over to see how bad the wounds are.
Luisa only winces a little as she rises from the log, though it's mostly out of habit. Doesn't even hurt that much anymore; the... gnawing feeling was far worse. "Yeah, I got it. Was like a... lamprey-man. Rage, and hunger." She looks over to were the thing gave up the ghost, even if it had been a ghost to Dale all along. "Fucker bit me with his weird snake tongue." Using technical terms now, it seems. "Ripped it off, though. Do /not/ recommend getting bit. Sets your stomach on fire, your guts start trying to melt their way out." Her face screws up at the still-very-fresh memory. "Thankfully, sending it back seems to put a stop to that, or I'd be much worse off." She looks Dale over in turn, dark brows knit in open concern. "How about you -- most of that blood his, I hope?"
Dale seems concerned as she explains what the fuck happened while he was raging out, and there is something else there, something deep-seated that he tries to push aside as he listens. "Shit. I'm sorry you had to fight that thing alone. Sounds like you had it under control, but still... that could have gone worse." He looks down at the Alligator thing beside him and laughs, "No plenty of it is mine too... just heal really quick like that. There are pieces of me all over the swamp. Bet the critters'll enjoy that." He dips down, using the water they are standing in to wipe some of the blood off his face, enough that he can smell something other than it. "This ain't the only one of these things out here. You think there'll be more of those spirits with 'em too?" he asks, enough concern in his voice to register compared to his usual slow, laid back tone.
Luisa looks down at the remains of the would-be crocodile-man and, after a long moment's consideration, nods her head. "Almost certain of it." she murmurs, no fear in her voice, just acceptance. "Think about it. Sure, swamp-thing here is impressive... but we're the Eights. This is our swamp, our fucking back yard, and anything with half a brain knows it. Hence, largely deserted." She kicks the corpse. It hurt Dale. "Only reason the big dummy was still hanging around was the spirit pushing it. Only reason it came at us was desperation. If that's what getting bit feels like... when we first came up, it had the tongue-thing /buried/ in him, Dale. Maybe to the spine." She shudders, then... and that takes a lot, to make the witch shudder. "The others will be the same."
Dale scowls at the news, whatever warmth offered by the gesture of her kicking the thing hidden deep within that worried look on his face. "That thing was hard enough on its own. If I hadn't went Gauru it would have killed me, and I couldn't kill it before I felt myself slipping over... and there's at least one mor eout there, bigger than this one. We need to get everybody up to speed on this." He actually kneels down now, his fingers reaching out and pressing lightly to the wound on her side as he looks at it, "It doesn't look too bad now, but I can see the little marks where the tears were... that had to fucking suck." He looks up at her, and there is admiration there. "You're a tough bitch." he says with a smile, standing back up and grabbing the tail of the gator thing to pull with them, "We should get back. The sooner we can let everyone know the better. Plus... if there are more of these things out there I bet the other packs are in danger too. After I talk to Rude we need to get the word out."</div>