((Compiled from the IC Discord chat, as written by Quorgi, Blu, and myself. Minor edits for spelling, punctuation, and clarity.))
Somewhere, back at the guild hall, there’s a very angry norn barkeeper fending off a bright blue griffon with a broom. He’s definitely not paid enough to deal with rogue mounts.
Tove’s jaunty whistle dies off as she walks down the stairs and lays eyes on the scene.
This is…strange. She recognizes Cap’s griffon, and if all was well, then the mount would be stabled with the others. Perhaps…he just escaped? It was possible. Trouble still managed it from time to time.
The sinking feeling in her gut said otherwise.
“Hey now,” she says soothingly, weaving between the chairs. “What are you botherin’ him for? Are you hungry?” She unsnaps her treat pouch, a sound nearly all mounts and pets of the guild have come to recognize by now. “Bored? I have better things for you to do than harass poor Nathan.”
The animal is perched upon the bar, hissing and snapping its beak at the barkeeper as it searches beneath the shelves in the back, having already torn open a bag of what amounted to assorted nuts. When the Norn approaches, it’s attention turns and the wide eyed hissing and snapping and growling returns. At least, until the presence of food, at which it’s pupils dilate and it’s head tilts. It remains perched on the bar, leaned back on its haunches.
Tove searched through her goodies. Many were smaller pieces of meat for the skyscales, but she had a bit of something for everyone. She pulls out a handful of bright red berries, and holds them out on a flat palm. “Come over here, hmm?” She clucked softly. “Let’s get you out of here and I’ll get you settled with some of the good stuff.”
Berry is none too eager to stay once there’s food involved, hopping off of the bar and hopping towards her tenderly, but halting and unsure, and with a strained gait to her shoulders.
Tove croons. “Did you get hurt coming back?” She carefully closed the distance, offering plenty of the berries in recompense for intruding on her space. “Can I take a look? I can make it better. Just…don’t eat my fingers, hmm?” Where have you been? What happened? All questions the animal couldn’t answer.
The bird begins to eat ravenously, now seemingly paying Tove no mind as she sits again and rests from her misadventure.
Tove tries to keep providing food with one hand–mixing in tasty liver bits with the berries here and there–while calling up a golden wisp with the other. She’d let the tingly bubble of magic settle on the griffon, hopefully easing any aches and pains in the process. More serious things would require more serious magic, and honestly Tove would rather go back and get some sedative for that. She doesn’t know Berry well enough to risk a panic reflex from the vines.
“What did our dear Captain Disaster get himself into, hmm?”
Berry does skirt a little at the presence of light, but the draw of food is much too powerful to be resisted. Slowly but surely, what could have been the characteristic black of her toes returns to a lifelike hue, instead of the dull, frost bitten color they’d taken on.
Tove squints at the change and mutters. “…frostbite? You poor thing.” Then, softly, “…where where you that it got so cold?”
There were a few places, of course.
“Come on,” she says softly, parceling out food–albeit more slowly–and leading the griffon towards where the other animals were kept. “We’ll get you a real meal, hmm? And some water?” And then she had…people to talk to, didn’t she? Riathan would want to know.
Berry is more than happy to trot along behold her, eager for liver and berries and only favoring the one foot that got the worst of it — all things considered, she’s completely forgotten the terror incited upon Nathan.
Tove settles Berry with ‘the flock’, next to her own (somewhat idiotic) griffon Snowdrop. She heaps enough food in front of her face to distract her from the Druidy things Tove feels compelled to do. A little bit of vine work in addition to the wisp, and perhaps that’ll take care of what remains, or at least minimize the limp.
And then there’s about twenty different things Tove wants to do at once, at least fifteen of which are yell at Cap.
Fiel is waving at her, stepping down the golden stairs to where the stables were situated.
“Nate told me I could find you there! I wanted to ask you if you preferred dragon head, or dragon fangs for the bug repelling lant–“
He stopped short when he realized which griffon she was tending to.
“That’s Cap’s griffon,” he said grimly, his face suddenly grave.
“I know,” Tove said, her tone equally grim. “And she came in with frostbite.” She crouched to inspect the worst foot. Mmm. One toe might not make it, but that was a loss the animal could easily adapt to. She’s have to tap Ambrosine for that–surgery was one area she didn’t consider herself adept at. “What the fuck has Ironwood been up to, Fiel?”
Fiel is wearing another face now. He is wearing the mask of terror.
“Did you say ‘frostbite’?” He rushed down the stairs, would have jumped the remaining distance separating he and Tove were he a frog. The norn put a hand on her arm. “Are you sure? Are you positive?”
“Fiel,” Tove said, mildly alarmed by the SUDDENLY, NECROMANCER. “And yes, I’m sure. While I’m not the healer Ambrosine is yet, that’s definitely something I recognize. Why…?”
Fiel lets go of her, and cradles his head with both hands, his eyes lost in the distance.
“No, no, nononononono…”
Suddenly, he runs. He flees. Bolts up the stairs and rushes to destinations unknown like skritt from a house on fire.
“FIEL GET BACK HERE. DON’T MAKE ME ALSO PANIC WITHOUT KNOWING WHY,” she shouts after him. Hell, she chases him. “FIEL. FIEL WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, TELL ME.”
(Berry is more than content to sit by and rest its poor tired feet. Its feathers ruffle adorably. Snowdrop trills and looks sad that she has to starve to death while this other griffon gets food. Starve. To death!)
Tove finds Fiel scaling the steep incline to his little corner over the waterfall.
And he’s not stopping.
“FIEL!” She mutters and curses–his name, Ironwood’s, everyone–but doggedly follows. He KNOWS something she doesn’t.
He is into his wall-less “room” now, rummaging through things, collecting supplies, packing bags… He raises a hand and Eloise swoops down from the canopy, dropping the gnarly branch that was his staff into his hand.
“Fiel.” Tove didn’t even so much as glance around, just advanced on the necromancer. “What do you know that I don’t? Why are you packing in a panic?”
In the middle of this whirlwind he pauses. But only for a moment. His fist clenches over his staff and he shakes his head silently, before finishing packing. He dons the warmest cloak he has and lets out a loud whistle. Mer drops from the ruined balcony above and trots towards the norn, pausing to glance at Tove curiously.
“For the love of Wolf’s warm den in winter, Fiel, tell me. If you know, or suspect, what Ironwood’s gotten into–let me help. I’m sure you have your own methods, but I am a scout and tracker of no small skill. Please.” She went so far as to grab his arm. “I’m not one to let one of my pack remain in trouble. Or to let another one strike off into possible danger if I could help.”
Finally, he turns to meet her gaze. His eyes are glistening with tears. It takes a moment for him to unclench his jaw, and even then the words struggle to escape his lips.
“They got him,” he mutters. His mouth snaps shut and he grimaces. He frowns as his lips quiver.
“Who?” She asks, softly. Part of her wants to joke–who do I have to murder?–but even her gallows humor dies unspoken.
“They.” Another grimace, another strangled gasp. “Svanir.”
Tove closes her eyes. “Captured, or…are they swaying him?” Her honeyed voice quivers, and her fingers tighten their grip on his sleeve.
Fiel opens his mouth, but says nothing. He takes a few deep breaths.
“I… I’m not sure.” He slumps down onto his bed and runs his hands in his hair, over his face. “I’m not sure.”
“Okay.” She takes a deep breath, straightens, and opens her eyes. She will not let her past haunt her. She will not. “Let’s go find out together? I’ve always got a bag ready to go. I can help. I know a lot of…look. I’ve done my battles with Svanir before. A lot of them.”
“Have you?” His tone is unexpectedly harsh.
He shakes his head again. “I’m sorry. I have… history with svanirs.” He chuckles bitterly. “Then again, which norn hasn’t?”
“My uncle. After his wife died, he…lost his way. We thought…there was his son. And he was mentoring me, teaching me everything he knew. Finest hunter in Snowden, I swear it. Plenty of glory, plenty to live for, yeah?” Tove shook her head. “But there was a hole in him and the Svanir found a way to fill it. We tried to win him back. I tried to…he killed my lynx. The one he gave me when I was a child. That’s when I knew…”
She shudders, her voice trailing off. It took her a few deep breaths to find it again. “I’m the one that killed him. Taught me everything he knew, indeed.” Then, more softly, “They can all go fuck themselves.”
Fiel can barely look at her. As she finishes her tale he turns away, head hung in shame.
“I’m sorry,” he mutters weakly. Then he gets up and drops everything. Bag, staff, trinkets. He shakes the coat of his back and goes down the golden steps leading the the pool below. “Go ahead. Go before me and look for him, I’ll.. I’ll catch up with you.”
Tove watches him, confused, but too wrapped up in her own misery to chase after him further. “…I don’t even know where to start,” she sighs, but her mind is already racing down ways to narrow it down. Starting with seeing if Berry has any signs of exactly of where she was. “You’d better catch up with me and not strike off on your own,” she calls after him. “We don’t have radios for nothing.”
And then she turns and strikes off for her nook between trees, and her pack, her steps slowed by worry and shame.