Logs:TSO-NOLA - Thieves in the Hedge

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TSO-NOLA - Thieves in the Hedge

Characters: Jacob, Seven, Tristesse, Mingzhu as ST
Date: 2020-07-11
Summary: Thieves escape through a portal to the Hedge and are followed by a mortal...

The Hedge

A brilliant emerald sky is overhead in this part of the Hedge. The usual tall, sharp and vicious-looking walls of thick thorns and briars that form the Hedge's structure have parted way to form a roughly oval clearing, in which a circular pool rests, maybe twenty metres in diameter. The banks of the pool are set with brightly coloured and time-worn pebbles in every hue that human eyes can see, and also some that their minds make up. There is about a meter between the pebbled banks and the thorny walls, allowing some movement around without getting wet.

The waters of the pool lap gently against the banks rather than remaining still, dragging pebbles down only to replace them with fresh ones. How can so small a pool be tidal? Welcome to the Hedge.

As Tris comes tumbling through the wall, her eyes squint to adjust to the brighter, verdant world she finds herself in, making sure there's no immediate threat in the form of hobs or other Hedge critters that might be waiting for them on this sight of reality. As she moves forward, she glances down at her stinging hands, frowning as she peels off the gloves and shoves them in a pocket. She walks a few feet away to sink back into the shadows to await Jacob.

Jacob stumbles through the door a moment after Tris, his fake mask fading. He's back to the man with the depthless, alien eyes, the hint of fangs, and the... blurr. Even here, in the Hedge, it's somewhat difficult to look at him. The eyes do'nt want to focus, as if he's still stuck somewhere between worlds and not quite all there. High Wyrd, there's no doubt about that, and there's a hint of Autumn to her which Tris might or might not have picked up before. Mostly because it's very new.

He turns towards Tris and says, "Hide. And hide it! But don't run back and turn it in just yet. After you left, she said something, and she /wasn't/ lying. We gotta listen. This is worth /way/ more than 15 K." Be it because they can sell it for a lot more (a fact he's sure of) or because they'll be saving the world (a fact he's 50/50 on). Either way, his tone is filled with conviction. "I'll find us a gate back." He starts off, motioning Tris to follow him, his intention to find a gate back. He has a knack for them. And he doesn't know if anyone's coming after them.

Through the portal jumps Seven before it can completely close. That push of willpower gets her through the gate, helps to start clear her senses from... well, whatever that stranger had done to her. Mind control? Emotional manipulation? She's unsure but it doesn't quite matter, it had sparked an anger in her nonetheless. As the effects start to fade, she takes a glance around and... what? The mortal is more used to the teleporting of the psychic variety, poof here and then poof there. This is not at all what she was expecting to happen. Blink blink. From the frying pan and into the fire, hopefully she doesn't become consumed by the heat.

She catches sight of Jacob and Seven snaps back to her mission. She can figure out where she is and how to get back to the ship later. "Where is it?" she practically growls as she starts to make her way toward Jacob. Although she doesn't look like she's about to immediately attack him, it might come to that if he doesn't answer her. There's a flare of the temperature as she slows near him, not underestimating this creature. "You don't know what you're taking and what you're returning it to," she tells the Changeling.

While the Changelings and Mostly-Mortal orient themselves and accusations are thrown around, the sound of sweet birdsong chirp-chirping overhead can be heard. Three little birds come into view, circling overhead and beginning to descend slowly. They are small, no larger than an adult human's fist, and coloured in shades of brown and grey. Some kind of finch perhaps? Their beaks are small and gleam yellow.

"Hurry. I don't like it in here," says Tristesse, ignoring the rest of whatever he's on about. That can wait until they're out. "That thing cut me or something." She glares at the tote bag over her shoulder with the world's meanest yoga mat still stowed inside. She quiets as she sees Seven enter the gate from behind them, not about to reveal that Jacob isn't alone -- at least for the time being.

Her eyes narrow as she sees the birds circling above -- she's spent enough time as a bird and other things -- trees, ice sculptures, whatever struck her Keeper's fancy -- and she knows that birds are often spies. Or worse. "We gotta go," she whispers quietly to Jacob under her breath.

To Tris, his whispers back, "Stay close." His dark gaze shifts to the birds, then back to Seven. He motions towards the birds. "They're after blood. Crimson-Fanning wings. That's all they're interested in." He doesn't know how the mat sucked Tris' out yet, but he can put two and two together. Vampires have an object. Blood-obsessed hedgebeasts come alive in its presence. It's not hard to discern that it's blood related.

He obviously doesn't have the mat, but the one who does isn't immediately obvious. Still, he looks at her. "Tell me the story, the truth. Or you may /never/ find it. Do you even know where you are? I suggest you be quick, too, because the things her," he motions at the birds, "don't wait long. And you don't know the danger we're already in. So spill it, and fast."

The birds get a brief glance from Seven, not lingering for more than a few seconds. Although she doesn't doubt the danger she may be in or the threat that the birds might pose, her real concern is the mat. Eyes dart around, perhaps searching for even a glimpse of where it might had gone. Frowning, she focuses her fiery gaze around onto Jacob. She's attempting to keep herself as composed as she can but it's clear to see her temper broiling underneath the surface, both him and the invisible Tris can /feel/ the literal heat coming from her.

But, if it's one she can appreciate is someone that gets right to the point. It's clear that she doesn't know where she is so she decides to leave that quesion verbally unanswered unless pressed. "It's a weapon that has already taken the lives of over a few dozen innocents." A pause before she adds, "That we know of." Who knows how many undiscovered bodies were out there? "Only more bodies will be left behind if you give it back to it's owner."

The birds circle lower, landing on the water. They bob there for a few moments, splashing water over themselves as if taking a nice little bird bath, and then they begin to transform. Each adopts a human-like appearance; one male and two female. Were they true humans they might be described as 'Native American' in look, with proud features and bronzed skin, marked with tattoos in crimson and turquoise ink on the majority of their visible skin - which, given they're naked and stood in hip-deep water, is quite a lot of them. Their hair is the only part of them that remains avian, long black feathers tipped with red rather than true locks of hair.

The male former-bird steps forward slightly, though remaining within the pool and so still a good 7-8 metres away. "You have invaded our home. What rudeness is this?" he enquires. Perhaps surprisingly to some, in English, albeit quite heavily accented with something otherworldly. "Do you bring something to trade for our hospitality or do you presume to steal it unpaid?" The two female bird-people remain where they are, eyeing their visible visitors with a blend of hostility and hunger. They seem to care nothing for the dispute already ongoing.

The hidden darkling nods, stupidly since no one can see her, but she stands a little closer to Jacob so he can feel her at his elbow, not speaking to keep the mortal among them from hearing her disembodied voice. Her fingers curl around a dagger when the birds grow bigger and more humanoid. There might be a sense of kinship for the bird-like beasts, given her own time spent in feathers and talons, but at this moment, they are the enemy, and she smells like the blood they want to feed on, so she stays quiet.

Jacob looks intently at Seven, his gaze unwavering. "What if we don't? You say it's a weapon and I believe you. I believe you believe it at least. So what if we don't? You're in the Hedge. And you're probably going to be lost forever without our help. But there's a way. A way we can all get what we want. You pay us double, you grant us a favor from your bosses, a favor for each of us, and maybe we can make this thing disappear forever."

He stiffens as the birds become women, but he does not look surprised. "We give it to them. With a deal to make sure they can't use it against anybody." The words are spoken quietly, for Seven to hear. "I'll make a bargain to ensure it. He feels Tris' little elbow and whispers, inaudible to anyone who not standing as close as Tris is, or who doesn't have supernatural hearing.

When the former-bird addresses him, he offers a smile. "We are not here to steal from you. We are here to trade with you." Hopefully the mat, but Jacob can get creative if that doesn't go over. And the bird-people would likely sense his Wyrd. He's more like them than he is most people, after all.

The mention of the Hedge causes Seven to raise her brow. That triggers something in her mind, some hidden knowledge that rises to the surface. "You are Lost?" she questions to confirm, arms folding across her chest. "This might be going against the Accords," she warns. Though the exact details of the laws haven't been memorized by her, it's a signal that she's not just some random mortal. There's even a tap of her fingers, drawing attention to the silver snake ring around her finger. Do they know of the Black Constables? They might recognize the ouroboros. If not, it's just a nice ring.

"I cannot make promises on the behalf of others. I'm not about to make a promise to a Lost who feels favors and money is more important than ensuring bodies don't keep piling up," she tells Jacob, brows narrowing heavily at him. "This is not a /job/. This is a mission. We /need/ the weapon to stop her. We don't know if she can just create another... or what she'll do if we destroy it." Her tone is serious, firm, not easily giving into Jacob's attempt to coerce her.

Looking over toward the creatures, she gives them a curious look at their words. "What do you want?" she questions, straight to the point. It's clear she's more willing to bargain with them over something than Jacob at the moment. They're not an issue and it's true, they're probably on the hobgoblin's territory.

"Good." The male bird-man nods at Jacob's assertion that they're not here to steal, though he doesn't seem entirely convinced. Meanwhile, one of the bird-women turns her turquoise eye to Seven, giving her a smile that is probably a little too full of sharp teeth to be comforting. "That is not how it works, little human," she says, her voice soft and sweet. "You make an offer, and we accept or haggle." The other female bird nods her agreement, though doesn't say anything that her two companions haven't yet said either.

Behind Jacob, Tristesse seems to relax a little before she steps on tip toes to cup a hand over his ear, her voice not more than a breath to keep the others from hearing: "At least for the man, he cannot take blood by force, but if offered, must accept it and pay with a gift in kind. I don't know if the mat counts but my guess is it would. I can look and see some of its history, maybe. I can try." She listens to the words of the bird beasts and from Seven, her brows drawing together at the implications. Maybe they're not the good guys after all. "If our employer is that evil... do we want to double cross her?" she whispers. "It needs to be worth the risk."

Jacob looks towards Seven as she speaks about the Accords. "Later. And you aren't the /only/ one who cares about the world. So just shhhh." It looks like he's past coercion, his attention shifting towards the bird people. "I have an offer. An item of power. And we will give it to you, under a condition. You can not use it to harm another, or give it to another, and we can study it. What do you get out of it? We will bring you fresh blood once per month, plus any time we wish to study it. Fresh, mortal-world blood."

There's a pause as he listens to Tris' whisper and he gives a faint nod. He whispers back, only audible enough for her to pick up on, or anyone with super, super hearing. "She offered 15k for /this/. She knew exactly what she was doing, and deserves it. I'll make it worth your while." He smiles, then, looking between Seven and the bird-people. "Blood. Enough for you all. And all you have to do is keep it safe, keep it hidden. And allow us to visit to study it for additional blood." He glances at Seven, "Is that acceptable?"

There's an understanding nod at the hobgoblins words, Seven furrowing her brows as she tries to think of what they may want. The frown quickly returns as Jacob continues trying to offer the thing to the goblins. "No. If this is truly the Hedge, it's not a place we can easily access. Bring it back to the ship. It's protected there from /her/, obviously not you and others like you." She shifts a little, clearly not enjoying being at such a disadvantage. But such is the life of a mortal amongst the supernatural. At least sending others shows that the place is more than likely safe from the angel. "I will make this deal with you and whoever... whatever is hiding with you. Bring it back to the ship and I will share whatever information about it and /your/ employer you want to know. Tell you all about the danger /you/ might be in if you destroy it or hide it here." It's not a threat from Seven, more a warning of the Lost dealing with an angel they know only a limited amount of information about.

Looking back to the hobgoblins, she considers what Jacob is attempting to offer them. The words he's using in his potential promise. "I can offer blood from me. If you don't completely drain me or take enough to kill me, you can take as much as you want."

The as-yet quiet older bird-woman makes a faintly dismissive sound. "A gift that comes with conditions is not a gift, but a burden," she replies, her voice low and melodic and very pleasant to listen to. "We may accept it payment for hospitality for the two of you, but no conditions. And a separate negotiation to begin for the right to access it and study it."

The male bird nods to this, looking to Jacob. "Blood, blood is fine offer, but unless you personally intend to open a vein here and now, there is no value in it. Future blood is of interest, but for that I think we would require an oath. We have little trust of strangers."

Then all three birds look across to Seven when she offers her own blood. "We accept," the younger female agrees. "As much of your blood as we desire without harming you," the older female affirms, and the male finishes with, "In exchange for providing hospitality to you." They make no mention of the Changeling(s). Then, the younger female speaks again. "We will also give you a gift." Though she doesn't say what.

"I hope you mean pig's blood from the butcher shop or something," is all Tristesse has to say to Jacob's offer from her spot hidden behind him. She listens to what Seven says and now that the mortal has noted there's another person in their gathering, the gig is up. So the darkling speaks in an audible but soft voice.

"It's true she wasn't able to get to it or else she wouldn't have needed us. But she could hire others like us, so I'm not sure that it's safer there," Tristesse points out. "If you truly want it to be out of her hands."

Jacob looks over at Seven, shaking his head. "And what's to say you aren't trying to use it to gain power over others? To study it because you want to make more? This isn't about /our/ employer anymore. She lied, so the agreement is null. But we should destroy it now, if it's what you say it is."

He pauses as Seven offers her own blood, his brow furrowing. And moreso as the bird-people make their counter offer. He nods slowly, his jaw clenching. He glances at Tris as she speaks, murmurig, "I have goats." Then back at Seven. "You obviously /can't/ protect it there, or we wouldn't be in this situation. And what if it wasn't taken by someone who stopped to /listen/, hmmm? It'd already be in your enemy's hands. And it will be, next time." To Tris, he whispers, "Don't give it up. Hide it. And get her the hell out of here if something bad happens."

"I already explained why we can't destory it. Now that we know she's resorted to hiring others, we can better prepare," Seven tells the pair. Well, she's looking at Jacob but also speaking to the voice coming from the shadows. There's a pause before she adds, "Preferably /with/ your help. If you're against your employer now, bringing it back to the ship is your best chance at getting back at her." The mortal doesn't know if the Fairest is a particularly vengeful type but she knows there are few who enjoy being wronged by others. "All I'm asking is that you come back. Let the others explain it. I want to destroy it once this is all done but... again... we /need it to destroy the angel or she will keep killing. /All/ of us included unless we work /together/." It's clear she doesn't like having to repeat herself about the dangers of destroying it. At least until the actual issue is taken care of. Seven sees the Changelings involved as much as she is now, even if they don't quite see it that way themselves. Then she peers over toward the hobgoblins, curious to see which offer they take, or if it's both.

The three bird-folk look at each other. The two women, they head for Seven, their motions graceful, casual. "Extend your arms, please," the younger one croons, each taking one side, each taking an arm. There's a moment of peace as if the two are speaking some silent prayer, then in sync they dip their heads, biting into the young mortal woman's arms enough to taste blood, then drawing in slow, practiced motions. There is pain initially, then a numbness that spreads - like most hunters of blood they prefer their prey to be docile, and thus not in pain. They gulp slowly, then finally let Seven's arms drop, the wounds still sluggishly weeping the red stuff.

The bird-man remains looking at Jacob. "Well? What do you offer for our hospitality, for yourself? And will your friend continue to sneak about and expect that we shall allow her to be here without payment?" His words are stern, underscored with a low level of threat.

The bird-women do 6 lethal damage to Seven as they feed

"I wasn't trying to be rude," murmurs Tristesse as she leds the shadow fall away, a wintry thing in the bright meadow, little snowflakes fluttering in her wake. Her eyes fall on Seven and she looks apologetic for the mortal taking so much damage, before she turns to the bird-like things. "I was only being cautious. The Hedge is dark and deep and I am afraid." She glances up at Jacob, then back to the birds. "We three," she says, gesturing to Seven, Jacob, and herself, so that it is clear, "would like safe passage out of the Hedge back to the City of New Orleans." She reaches for the two gloves, still stained with any of her blood that didn't make it into the mat itself. "In exchange for these?" she asks, hoping perhaps the blood will serve as enough of a tribute.

Jacob grimaces as he watches the birds flock to Seven and suck away. He glances over at Tris and then she's growing visible. His eyes widen and he's shaking his head. "No! No! What the hell are you doing? They can't /have/ it. Did you see how easily we took it?" He's about to say more but then the bird people are looking at him, pointing out that on Seven has earned passage out. He's a bit irritated now, although not at the Crimson-Fanners.

He takes a breath, looking at them, and then says, "You want a bargain? Ok. Me and my friends get safe passage out /and/ you point us in the direction of the nearest door." He can find it from there, hopefully. "You want blood? I have a memory for you. I'll give you the coffee table. That's where my dad's hand landed. My blood, his blood, my mom's blood, my Fetch's.. whatever the fuck it was. The coffee table. You can have /that/ memory. That blood. Trust me, it never stops giving."

Seven grits her teeth at that initial pain, it's clear that it's not something she's unfamiliar with. Her fists flex until that numbing senstation takes over. Then she relaxes slightly as she watches the bird-people feed from her. Once they're done, she takes a step back. Eyes close for a moment, pulling most of her ephemera to heal most of the damage done to her. It's not too long before she's looking better, the blood taken returned to her. She glances to Jacob. "I'm /trying/ to work with you but you're being resistant. You don't even know what against. /Please/," she begs, looking at both of the Lost, perhaps Tris a bit longer than Jacob. The woman doesn't want to have to resort to other methods to get back the mat. "I can promise you both it won't be moved if you're worried it'll be hidden elsewhere if returned. We can /all/ decide what to do with it once we return."

Seven heals 6 lethal damage by spending ephemera

It's a good day to be a bird-person, apparently. All kinds of bargains being offered. The bird-man considers Tris' offer and nods, extending his hand as he approaches her, to take the blood-soaked glove and its somewhat drier twin. "Agreed. Safe passage to New Orleans for the three of you," he confirms.

The two female bird-folk gently pet Seven's arms, then once she seems recovered, they turn to Jacob. They hear his offer, glancing between themselves then offer a counter. "That memory, for the hospitality owed by yourself and your fellow Lost," the older one murmurs. "And a gift for you as well," the younger one adds.

The darkling nods to the bird people at their acceptance of her offer, her wintry eyes flitting over to Seven as the woman makes her plea, and she nods once in understanding, before turning to the Fairest. "Let's at least get out, and then we can discuss this more. Maybe not on the ship, but somewhere safe?" Tristesse suggests. "Safe for all parties," she adds. "For now, this isn't it, so let's table the talk for later, yeah?"

Jacob shakes his head at Seven. "I believe you /believe/ that. But I don't believe it. But let's talk about it on the other side, before you end up like us." And then he watches the bird-feeding with a grimace. When another bird-person appears and seems to heal her, he tilts his head slightly, taking in it, making a note. He watches the exchange between them and Tris, the blood-soaked glove, and nods.

He about to turn away, figuring his own offer was declined, when he hears those words. The hospitality owed by himself and his fellow Lost. Something about it resonates with him. It wasn't 'your group' or 'your friends'. But 'fellow Lost'. And knowing the history, he's certain there's much to be forgiven. And others who might stumble here. He turns back towards them and nods.

"I accept. Hospitality for myself and fellow Lost. And you get... the coffee table." The way he says it is a mingling of emotions. Hate, good riddance to it, but also... a subtle sorrow, because it's a part of him, and it going away /will/ change him, at least a little. But he agrees, readily.

Seven watches the pair for a moment, giving a reluctant nod. The mortal is hardly a negotiator, so she's satisfied for now with at least getting them to /consider/ not just running away with the yoga mat of doom. She may have healed most of her physical wounds, but another part of her was drained to do so. If the Hedge is as dangerous as she's heard and the Lost claim it is, it's not a place she wants to stick around too long for. But, she tends to get tunnel vision when it comes to her missions.

Although she's curious of the gifts, she doesn't ask for them, waiting to be gifted instead. Folding her arms over her chest once more, she takes a couple of steps so that she's standing closer to Tris. Both Lost of are still giving respective space, but it's clear that Seven isn't taking her eye off of the mat if she can help it. She's silent for now, letting the more experienced handled the situation for the time being.

The bird-man nods slowly as Jacob agrees to the terms set out by his female companions. "Very well." Tucking Tris' gloves away - where? He's got no pockets or clothing but somehow the gloves are no longer in his hands - he then extends his hand to Jacob, to take the memory offered.

Meanwhile, the older of the two women reach down to the bank of their pool, scooping up three coloured stones. They're beautiful, very smooth and polished to a high lustre, with striations and dappled patterns not found in the mortal world. These they offer to Seven. A further two are offered to Jacob when he has relinquished the coffee table. The gifts, apparently.

Finally, the younger of the bird-folk looks to the pool, making a motion with both hands. The centre begins to twist slowly, forming a slowly deepening whirlpool, and she points to it. "That way leads to New Orleans. As long as you can hold your breath for around thirty seconds, you will be able to pass."

The players surface in the Mississippi and swim to the closest pier. They are home, if not dry.