(121-01-12) The Black Sick
The Black Sick
Summary: Lord Cregan Stark sent riders to search for his bannerman, Cressen Glover, who was said to be on his way to Oldtown, yet never arrived. One of them returns, bringing with him strange news and a terrible illness. Lord Stark gathers a party to investigate, and they ride out on the Roseroad.
Date: Date of play (12/01/2014)
Related: None
Players:
Cregan..Bryn..Haydn..Maera..Isador..Derrioth..Eonn..Kai..Karys..Amadys..

Hightower Square Oldtown
Sun Jan 12, 121 ((Sun Jan 12 17:12:14 2014))
It is a summer day. The weather is hot and raining.

This is a broad cobblestoned square, ringed by grand buildings hewn from stone. A massive fountain, also hewn from the same strong grey stone, stands in its center. It is wrought in the form of the Hightower in miniature. A tiny flame burns at its peak, and crystal waters pour from its base, pouring down the stony pedestal into the mirror-smooth pond below.

Stone benches offer places to sit, vendors cry their many wares, merchants ply their trade, and all around one can see the finely-dressed Oldtown wealthy meandering about. There is a pleasant smell of cooking food in the air, tingeing the ever-present smell of the salt sea, and a hint of perfumes and spices.

To the West, the Hightower street leads away. To the South, the archway to the Beacon Boulevard rises. To the North, with the Watch House standing alongside, is a stretch of street leading to the Beacon Gate and out to the Roseroad beyond. The cobblestone market square is quite clean and fresh, with nary a sign of any beggars, street rats, or grimy peddlers hawking stolen goods. The buildings here are in pristine condition.

Contents: Eonn Cregan
Exits: [GQ] Good Queen's Cake House [WH] Watch House
[S] Beacon Boulevard [W] Hightower Street
[NE] Roseroad

Maera comes from Hightower Street.

Bryn comes from Hightower Street.

It's an ordinary, hot, rainy afternoon in Oldtown, with water running off the roofs and down the cobbled streets to spill into the canals. It has slowed down business in Hightower Square. Other markets that provide more essential goods would still be crowded, but the rich don't peruse their silks and spices when the rain dampens the colours and makes everything smell of horse. The watchmen on the Beacon Gate look stoically miserable.

Haydn has arrived.

The rich may not often come out in the rain, but Bryn isn't rich. Nor does he seem to care about being soaked through as he runs up and into the square, given it's so warm out. He slows his step once he's in the square, looking around between the stalls, looking for those that are still open.

Kai comes from Beacon Boulevard.

Eonn is partly to blame for the horse smell. He's on his great white mare, an animal that's as much dray-horse as she is destrier, plodding along from Hightower Street.

Karys comes from Beacon Boulevard.

Kai sprints through the rain as he comes from the south, appearing to be trying to escape the rain until he casually swerves towards Karys as he draws near, and attempts to tackle the man with a smile.

Warm rain. It's something of a novelty, not known to Cregan since childhood, and it shows. He doesn't really bother to cover up from it in the absence of chill or bite, the hood of his black cloak back, letting the shower wet dark hair to his face, seemingly utterly oblivious to the drizzle dripping from a growing beard. The burly Northman stands paused before a merchant vending deliciously spiced meats, trading a few coins for more of the addictive delicacies.

Most would find the hot air and rain uncomfortable. Lady Maera Mormont is not one of those people. She has cast aside the hood of her cloak to let the rain run down her face and wet her simple braid as she trots across the square on her roan colored palfrey. As she nears the center of the square, she pulls on her reins to slow her mount to a walk.

The sodden guardsmen on the top of the arch of the great gates perk up, just a little bit. One of them points.

Haydn is on the far side of the gates, just outside of the town. The hound he acquired in the last hunt is with him. Since the accident the dog is now healed up. In an effort to keep the dog from getting injured again Haydn has been working with the loyal creature out in the fields around Oldtown. The rain starting put an end to the exercise so they've started to make their way home.

Haydn gets: 'You can see what the guards see — one horseman, charging down the road towards the town as fast as he can ride.'

Coming from the south is Karys with his usual bored expression, his shoes clacking against the pavement as he walks along, the rain drifting along his cheeks and falling from his chin. He lets out a sigh, bringing his right hand around to scratch the back of his head before he'd let out a grunt, being tackled down to his right hand side by Kai, his bored expression developing a smirk rather than the more usual surprised expression as he collides with the ground, along with Kai.

Kai also grunts softly as they hit the ground together, smirking as he begins to try and roll to his right, off the man, rain dripping from his wet hair, he moves a hand to the neck of his cape, on the off chance that it is grabbed.

Haydn slows his buckskin destrier up before they get on the road, there is a rider coming in hard and fast and Haydn chooses to keep out of the rider's path and let the guards deal with the man in a rush before he'll make to enter the city on the hurried rider's heels. His chivalry extending to this polite courtesy. A short whistle is given down at the dog and the hound drops into a sit next to the mount and rider. The hounds head tilted a little to see past his master's horses legs to watch the source of all of the galloping noise. "Stay, that horse will kill you if you got up under him." Haydn tells the dog.

A package wrapped in paper is handed over from merchant to Lord and Cregan tucks it away inside his cloak, securing the chow clear of the rain as he turns from the stall with a nod of gratitude. An intent, icy gaze sweeps the waterlogged concourse thoughtfully, passing over the sudden tussle to the pair of approaching riders. It's towards Maera and Eonn that the Northman strides, pace steady but unhurried as he shakes gathered rain from his cloak with a practiced flourish. "Who'd think -this- weather would drive so many indoors?" The young Lord Stark muses once he's within earshot.

The guardsmen are less forgiving than Haydn. As the rider approaches, those in the market below can see them stiffen and square up. One shouts through the rain, "HALT!" The gate is always open in times of peace, but it's not merely bad form to charge through it.

Spotting Eonn and Maera, Bryn makes his way quickly over closer, though he pauses, looking back towards the struggle between Kai and Karys, and then towards the sound of the galloping horse. This latter has his attention more, and he stands watching the guards as they move to confront the rider.

"Perhaps this is what they consider to be bad weather." Maera says to Cregan as he approaches. The woman makes a move to take her foot out of the stirrup and join the Stark lord on the ground, but the shout at the Gate gains her attention. Her head turns towards the source of the noise, and she watches the events unfold curiously.

Eonn smiles at Cregan's comment. He seems rather happy in the rain, really, pushing his wet hair back with one hand.

Karys grunts as he rolls away from Kai in the opposite direction, swiftly bringing himself to his feet, he'd reach around with his right hand to grasp the handle of his blade, staring to kai with a smirk before stopping, looking over towards the other commotion, developing a frown again, before looking back to Kai, raising his right brow as if in the form of a question.

Haydn allows the guards to handle the ride, of course, though he remains there on the side of the road by the gate in a poise that is ready for action of this should go very badly. The hard training his brother gave him as a squire echoes for some reason in his head and as he speaks to the dog and horse, "A man rides like that if he has an important message…or if he's being chased…" as he rises up in his saddle and looks down the road, squinting to see or hear anything beyond.

The guards lift crossbows. And again, one shouts, "HALT!"

Kai stands with Karys, a few feet now between them, "Good day." his accent a strange mush of multiple Eastern accents, he keeps an blank expression, also momentarily gazing towards the commotion at the gate before looking back at the man he tackled, "Nice weather, eh?"

From the square, the rider can't be seen unless one looks directly out the arch of the gate. But he does try to stop at that command, this time. He's closed enough distance to hear it. His courser slips in the gritty mud that currently surfaces the Roseroad.

"All relative, I suppose." Cregan agrees readily enough, before he's distracted by the alarm at the gate. A hand grips his sidesword as the Northman turns towards the gate himself, hurrying towards that arching portal and peering out into the rain. It's the colors adorning the man's light mail that are familiar even in the poor visibility, giving Cregan pause, "Hold your fire!" he shouts upwards to the men on the walls, "He's alone…" It's observed with concern as much to himself as anyone else; though it's a good reason the fellow isn't enough of a threat to pepper with crossbow bolts as well.

Bryn changes direction, as people start to move to see the rider, climbing up on the ridge around the pond at the base of the fountain, standing on it agilely to try to get just a little more height to see what's going on.

Karys shrugs, lowering his right brow as he brings himself stand up straight again, lifting his left hand to brush away hair from in front of his face. "I suppose so." he says before twisting on his heels and moving to walk away from Kai, gritting his teeth as he moves to continue along to the gate, his bored expression having returned.

The rider's skidding stop is enough to spray Haydn's dog with reddish mud. The man holds a hand up to his eyes and shouts to the guards, "I ride to Lord Stark! Let me pass!" Through the rain, his voice comes into the square a bit muddled, but no man seriously injured could shout so loudly.

Kai waits a few moments before following Karys with a blank expression, being about as bored as he is. He runs a hand through his hair briefly, which is now quite drenched.

"My Lord…?" Maera asks in a quizzical tone. The shouts of the man at the gate cause her to lightly put her heels into the palfrey's side to get him moving, and she rides over to where the Lord Stark has gone. At the sight of one man her expression grows somber, "He is the only one..?"

"So it would seem." Cregan confirms dourly, not sparing a glance back before walking out the gate and into the rain towards the man on horseback directly. He shields his eyes from the rain for a better view of which of his scouts has returned, calling out "You've found me, Dunston, be calm and tell me everything." The Northern Lord's hand greets the horse even as he speaks in a gentle, calming stroke.

Haydn's destrier snoffles and whickers with an tossle of his head in a way that almost snickers out 'Bloody Amatuer' about the rider's horse has such trouble and makes such a mess in stopping. He kicks and tosses his head around some more trying to flick off the sprayed mud that got onto him. Of course as soon as the horse has cleaned himself the hound does a wet dog shake and both horse and rider make sounds of complaint.

Dunstan's courser is soaked, sweat and mud and rain. Fortunately the rain will take the mud off him, and Haydn, soon enough. The northman says, "There was word of a wheelhouse, not thirty miles North, M'lord! The farm-girl said it took a side track, perhaps to get water from the river, though she told them of a stream closer. I rode with Taigh, M'lord. We've found him. But…" He shakes his head, his eyes wide, "It's not right, m'lord. And Tiagh fell ill of the greatest swiftness and could not ride."

With the rider now stopped and close enough to be visible, Bryn climbs back down and runs back over to the small crowd around Lord Stark and the formerly speeding rider, sneaking in to try to get clse enough to hear, visibly curious.

Maera stops her own horse several paces behind Cregan. She listens to Dunstan's tale, but makes no comment of her own. Still, at the mention of a wheelhouse being found and things not being right her eyes will widen slightly at the strangeness of it all.

Haydn is sort of stuck on the outside side of the gate with all of the action and congestion the Man from the North has caused. So he uses his gloved hand to brush off the splattered mud and allows the rain access to wash away the worst of the mud. He is of course eavesdropping, it's very hard not to after all.

"Fell ill? You saw Lord Glover?" There are more questions than answers inspired by the tale, clearly. "Tell me more of this wrongness; swiftly, now." A pause is spared after the important queries and Cregan Stark turns back to seek Eonn beyond Maera, "I suspect I will need armor and steed… and whoever is prepared to ride with us to investigate." At the last, the young lord's eyes turn to survey the assembled onlookers, as if weighing each in turn.

Kai keeps a hand rested atop the pommel of his falchion, still a few feet behind Karys like some description of bodyguard.

"His wheelhouse," says Dunstan. Then he promptly bends over his horse's neck and pukes on its front feet. The liquid that comes up is steaming hot even in the summer weather, and black, and foul-smelling.

Eonn turns his great white mare and rides for the Hightower Street, urging the big animal into a lumbering gallop, hoofbeats noisy on the cobbles.

Karys would stop along the side of the pavement with a sigh, looking around before turning and walking back down the street the way he came, seemingly having lost interest already.

"My Lord…" Maera says to Cregan with some alarm as Dunstan empties the black contents of his stomach on the front of his horse, "Whatever that man has fallen ill with…it cannot be let into the city. Something plagues him."

Haydn digs his heels into his horse, though the animal was already backing up away form the puking human. The Lannister and his two animal companions all have the rather same sneering disgusted expression.

Kai remains where he is, watching the display from a distance, smiling slightly as the man empties his guts.

Dunstan tries to sit up again, wobbling. His horse is, rather daintily, stepping backwards away from the puddle of vomit, and it's making it hard for the guy to keep his seat. "M'lord," he says. "The lizards…"

Bryn quickly takes a few steps back, even though he's already farther from the sick man than others present, wrinkling his nose at the smell. Still, he doesn't go too far, still staying close enough to listen, glancing towards Eonn as he rides off then looking back up to Maera and Cregan.

It's a swamp-rot sort of smell, that vomit. Swamp-rot and meat-rot and shit. Dunstan looks grey-white but still tries to spit the taste of it out of his mouth.

Haydn notices Bryn through the people, it's the hair. It seems always when there's puke, there's Bryn! "You, bucket boy…" Hadyn calls over to Bryn sounding rather amused and friendly. He points indicatively at the puke with another hand lifting up the edge of his cloak to block his nose, mud and rain water logged wool smells better than the oh so descriptive scents of the vomit.

Cregan steps back quickly as the man loses… well, it doesn't look like lunch. He covers his mouth with his hand and takes another step away, nodding once to Maera's words. "You need a healer at once. -Outside- the walls." A rather dubious look is paid the outrider, studying his expression, "Lizards? You're not making sense, Dunstan." More loudly, Lord Stark bellows, "To the Citadel, now, bring a healer!" He's not really concerned -who- does it. "I'll find the truth of this." Somehow, anger seems to seep into the words more fully as Cregan's tone quiets to assure his convalescent soldier.

"Lions, m'lord," says Dunstan, "Lizard lions." He looks terribly disturbed. He lies down on his horse's back, arms about its neck for stability. "Taigh…"

Wulfred comes from Hightower Street.

One of the younger of Cregan's men, leading the Lord Stark's horse and riding on one of his own, comes up from Beacon Boulevard at a canter.

Bryn looks up to Haydn, reaching up to wipe rainwater from his eyes and then shakes his head, "Not even for a gold dragon, m'lord. Last time was drunk-sick, not plague-sick. Besides, it's raining, don't think a bucket will help." He looks around at Cregan's order, though. If nobody else does, he'll run for the Citadel, but given he lacks horse or even long legs for running speed, he waits to see if someone else does first.

Maera dismounts from her own mount, and comes to stand next to Cregan. "Lizards…" She shakes her head once softly in wonder before saying in a soft tone so their conversation is confined to Cregan and herself, "…It cannot be basilisk venom, but perhaps it is some sort of poison, My Lord?" She watches Dunstan as the man clings to his horse weakly with a somber expression.

Karys stops, watching the northman ride up from the south, he'd sigh, turning around and heading back over towards the gate, "This is somewhat annoying now." he lets out to himself as he proceeds to walk up from the south… Again.

The newly arrived man says, "That Eonn sent me, m'lord! We've sent for a maester, he said…" he stops and stares at Dunstan for a breath or two, startled by the man's condition. "We've sent for a Maester and they are coming from the house with your small pavillion. I guess the sellsword was right."

If ever there was a sensation for feeling watched, perhaps those in the Hightower Square will begin to feel such a sensation. Then again, the square is not exactly uncharted territory. There is likely to be some lurking in windows or in alleys. But for the supposition of narrative and the interest of participation, those who are standing in the street may feel a sense of eyes on them. Eyes that do not belong to the others standing about.

Haydn chuckles under his breath at the reaction from the urchin. Muttering, "Cheeky little beggar." He does lift his voice to say the next. "There now, he's just eaten or been bit by some lizard. No reason to go bandying around the 'P' word." With the ship the couple of weeks ago, 'plague' is a word that has everyone quite on edge. "A splash of water will cast away the stench quicker than this drizzle." Its his dog whining and barking that has the young knight looking around as he's feeling quite uneasy.

"At least poison is a foe we can see spread." Cregan notes, slightly bitterly. "But I've not seen such a venom from lizard-lions… or the tendency to waylay armed patrols." He's not ruling it out though, either. "Hold fast, Dunstan, a maester is coming." For his part, Stark prepares to ride, taking the mail hauberk and direwolf-adorned breastplate from his horse and quickly equipping himself to face… well, whatever may be out there, if indeed armor can stop it.

Kai slowly scans the area as the dog begins to bark, noting the feeling of prying eyes. He turns his gaze back over to the Stark afterwards, watching him equip himself.

Isador comes from Hightower Street.

Eonn isn't long returning. He comes with Maera's arms. More men from the Stark's manse can be seen hurrying up towards the square from Beacon Boulevard, with the pavillion.

Amadys has arrived.

Bryn looks up to Haydn a moment, hesitating, but then nods and says, "Alright…" Making the smell go away wouldat least be something good. So, he runs to get an unattended bucket (there has to be one at *one* of the merchant stalls), likely already full of rainwater, to bring back to try washing the sick away.

The eyes on the crowd continue to do nothing more than watch. As is the nature of those that are observed, as well as those who do the observing.

"I've only heard stories of the lizard-lions." Maera says, "But I thought they were stupid creatures? How could they waylay an entire wheelhouse, and your men?" She takes her quiver from Eonn, and slings it onto her back. The bow follows next. Lastly, she buckles her swordbelt onto her hips. "It sounds as if there are survivors. …I do not know how long they will last if we linger, My Lord."

Karys grunts, looking around with a frown as he feels eyes staring at him from all around, glaring into surrounding alleyways and the sort before he brings himself to Kais side, "We're being watched." he says with a annoyed grunt, gritting his teeth afterwards in annoyance.

The Stark man sent to gather up a maester has returned with a sorry sight indeed, presumably the best that could be garnered at such short notice; a lanky, shaggy, black-haired scarecrow of an acolyte, unchained save for a glint of copper amidst his ring finger, his robe flapping disordered over soft, dark leathers. Perhaps the lad's only saving graces, and presumably the ones that fetched him here first, are a fine black gelding and an adequate seat upon it. Still, the acolyte has a certain unexpected and ungainsayable authority as he threads his way towards the wounded man…

Eonn looks back to Cregan, and nods firmly in response to what Maera has said.

Isador enters the square from some form of generic direction. Drawn by curiousity more than anything else. She watches from the sidelines before closing on the wounded man at a pace - to see what injuries he has. Content to remain silent she does not offer advice - and rather than ask what is going on merely hopes to pick that up based on what is being said. She makes no move to conceal her presence.

Kai shrugs slightly, "Obviously." he says in reply to Karys, watching the maester weave his way through the crowd, and then shifting his gaze over to Isador as she approaches the man.

The sick man seems unblemished except for his pale face and glassy eyes and the stinking puddle of black vomit that Bryn is washing away. He just about falls off his courser once somebody tries to help him get down.

Karys growls in annoyance before twisting on his heels and walking away, down the Beacon Boulevard.

The acolyte looks as befuddled as - no, more so than - anybody else present, but even he has an instinctive and sudden response. "Wait. Let me see that effluence. Stop swabbing at it, lad. It may be crucial to whatever is the matter here…"

"They couldn't." Cregan concurs, still wearing that stoney expression that speaks volumes in simple, nearly static frown. He fastens his own armor in place with minimal help from the soldier attending horse and arms, then mounts the black courser with a practiced heave despite the added weight, a leather harness carrying bow and greatsword slung over his shoulder last. "Nor do I mean to linger." The quiet aside to Maera takes a turn as the northman turns his horse about and makes a single pass of the gate, "Those who would help us discover the truth of this attack and the fate of a Lord in the North, ride with me now and you shall be both rewarded and remembered!" The offer rumbles out over the assemblage of onlookers. The courser is reined in next to the maester and the witch, the latter receiving a lingering consideration from the northern lord. "Do whatever you can for him." Cregan offers, in far quieter tones.

Some of the Stark riders from in town start to set up the canvas pavillion they brought, away from the road, while others begin to carry Dunstan towards it.

Eonn rides his big white mare up to where Bryn, and the vomit pool, are. He leans down, grimacing at the smell, to offer a hand to the boy.

Bryn quickly steps back at the acolyte's instructions, "Sorry." He pauses and asks, suddenly curious and interested, "You can tell something by looking at sick?" He looks back up to Cregan's announcement, and then to Eonn as he approaches. Putting the bucket down, he grins and accepts the hand, climbing up.

"I'd say he has been poisoned - not sure which is active," Isador offers, "So an antidote is not within my power at the moment. Three different plants have this effect. Usually it comes from inhaling the smoke of the plant." She states this with a shrug to the youngish maester. Not expecting to be taken seriously or trusted given she is known or suspected to be well a witch. "I'd give him milk of the poppy…"

Haydn gives Bryn a bit of a 'whoops' expression and a smirk when he's told not to clean it up. The wrinkle in his nose and the curious expression in his eyes show that he's just as curious about the Acolyte's answer as Bryn is.

Eonn drags Bryn up to his saddle and settles the boy in front of him on the big grey. He rides to Cregan's side.

Maera turns to mount her own horse, and wheels around to follow Cregan out the gate. She gives Isador a cool look, but says nothing to the woman. Instead, her attention is turned on Amadys, "Another maester will come soon to tend to him, but we have need of your services on the road with us now. We've heard word of surviviors, and we cannot wait for a more experienced maester. Can you keep up with us on your horse, Baratheon?"

Dunstan appears to have passed out. He makes one of those little 'hurk' noises that comes with not-quite-puking, and a little air. Surely he is lucky he's passed out; the taste must be dreadful.

Interrupted during the unlovely process of scooping a little of the black vomit up in a wineskin to examine later, Amadys Baratheon, the acolyte the assembled folk deserve if not the one they need, looks, a trifle wistfully, after the wake of Lord Stark's commands, request, and departure. Then he shrugs, and, settling gloomily back into reality, replies to the urchin for lack of any other imperative procedure. "S'worth a try, boy. Anything is, at this point. We'll see." He looks aware of the deep unsatisfactoriness of his reply, and, in particular, avoids looking at, or being regarded too closely by in turn, that strange and alarmingly well-informed doxy with the red hair. "Leeches, I'd venture," he mutters, with an attempt at confident curtness that more than touches on panicked insecurity. "Drain out the bad humours…"
Then he is addressed by a name, and a lady, that changes much. "I'll do my best," Amadys answers mock-dismissively, as he clambers back onto the saddle, "…if that's your will, my lady."

"Give the hounds the scent." Cregan calls to his assembled men, who do indeed of a cadre of dogs with them— some bred for war, and others for the hunt. It is the latter that are released to backtrack the trail taken by Dunstan and his horse. "We ride north!" He leaves the academics to those more familiar with such maladies, and turns his focus instead to what -he- does well.

You head North up the short stretch of road leading to the Beacon Gate, and leave the city.

Roseroad The Reach
Sun Jan 12, 121 ((Sun Jan 12 19:53:21 2014))
It is a summer evening. The weather is warm and fair.

The Roseroad is a wide and well-travelled route, spanning a great distance. It stretches Northeast away from Oldtown, leading through meadows and light woods, and in the distance, the rocky hills that are the mild Westernmost edge of the Uplands. Keep going long enough and you will reach Highgarden, where you might continue all the way to King's Landing, or diverge to take the Ocean Road to Lannisport.
The Beacon Gate represents the Southern terminus of the road. It is Oldtown's largest city gate, made of grand white stone, and lit with torches day and night. It arches over the road, and while the enormous iron-banded wooden are almost always open, the gate is also always guarded, with murder-holes in the arch above.
Near to Oldtown the countryside is spread with farms and vineyards, and smallfolk and their livestock can fill the fields during the days. As one travels further from the city the farms become fewer, and clump together into little villages.

Contents: Eonn
Exits: [SW] Hightower Square

Maera comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Maera has arrived.
Bryn comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Bryn has arrived.
Cregan comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Cregan has arrived.
Amadys comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Amadys has arrived.
Isador comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Isador has arrived.
Cregan comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Cregan has arrived.

The dogs are keen to run, at least. Hard to say what they're following, if anything. They just head straight up the Roseroad, the way the rider came.

Kai comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Kai has arrived.

Speeding with all the rash impetuosity of his House on the black gelding bred, indeed, for speed, but hardly for endurance, the young acolyte Amadys endeavours to keep pace with the posse of fighters on doughtier mounts, Lady Mormont's curt invitation, or request, or order, evidently ringing distinctly in his ears. The horse is fleet enough but half winded, the boy a decent rider pushing his rusty squire's training somewhat beyond its capacity.

Kai speeds along the roseroad atop his black mare, his hood flying back as he tries to catch up to the group, the wind blowing hard against his face, he grits his teeth as he rides along, his riding skills a little rusty.

As much to his own astonishment as anyone's, the young still-just-about-Baratheon finds himself surged straight into the midst of the sarch party, even, perhaps, slightly too near the van of it for comfort's sake.

Isador keeps up with the party remaining just behind them. Trying to be discrete. As discrete as someone as noticable as she can be. "Nicely done girl," she whispers to her borrowed horse.

It's a long ride. At a canter, nearly two hours. The dogs slow down. But there, on the western side of the road, past a sodden farming village, there is a little track, and the pack leader does sniff around at it.

Bryn grows a bit fidgetty as the ride goes on. Sitting still for two hours straight isn't quite his style. Still, he's distracted most of the time, looking around at practically everything they pass. This is the farthest from Old Town he's ever been, and he's taking in every sight he can.

Maera slows her horse to a trot as the dogs begin to sniff at the trail. She takes a quick gulp of water from her wineskin before tossing aside her sodden braid and turning slightly to address those assembled, "if these are lion-lizards it is important not get close to them, and imperative not to go anywhere near the water. If you've bows try taking them out with those, first."

Kai slows as he reaches the rear of the group, pulling up behind the red witch and exhaling slowly, he pets the head of his horse, whispering praises to it as they ride along.

Sitting Eonn's big mare is closer to sitting still than most horses, but it's still a bit of exercise, just riding. Someone peeps out of one of the squat little thatched farm-houses as the group stops at that track, then slams the door.

"Lizard-lions?" Amadys, still far from briefed on any aspect of the saga, finds himself spluttering. "In the Reach? I…" He breathes weakly, then deeply. "…I…'ll borrow a bow and help, if any of Lord Stark's men perhaps have one to spare…"

Isador shows up behind Amadys, "You can borrow mine handsome if you ask nicely enough," she says to the young maester in a churlish manner. The entire exercise seems a little bit more lighthearted to her at the moment. Witches prerogative.

Bryn looks towards the house when the door opens and slams so quickly. He doesn't pay the house much more attention, though, curiosity bringing his eyes back to the dogs.

"I'm sure you're quite as useful a shot as I am, my good woman, probably more so," the young acolyte replies with stiff not-quite-politeness. "To deprive you of your weapon at this time would serve no fit purpose." And he hastily trots off to importune a Stark rider instead.

The trail is sodden, the dog's feet sinking into the turf and leaving little mud-filled divots. One whines.

"You two, break off and watch that farmhouse. Interdict any who try to flee." A pair of mail-clad soldiers give necessary M'lords and break from the host to do just that. Cregan himself rides near to the vanguard of the force, a steel-adorned longbow strung and ready, propped in one hand. The other guides his horse at the slowed pace down the narrower trail, signalling several men to take up positions near their rear flanks, lest they be taken unprepared along the mucky path. His courser struggles here and there with the ample mud, as the northman's intent eyes search the area in front of them. Amadys would indeed find a spare bow among the replacement arms carried by the Stark and Mormont soldiers, and even some arrows to go with it.

Kai grunts softly as they navigate the trail, finding the slippery ground most annoying, he follows after some of the better riders, using the others as a guidpost for where not to go.

The trail is too narrow for a wheelhouse. Sometimes one can see narrow water-filled ruts from the passing of one, though. The dogs growl, and gather around the legs of Cregan's horse.

The bow looks right and proper in the young Baratheon's limber grip - perhaps especially as it hasn't actually undergone the test of being fired by him yet. Thanking the nearest Northern retainer in an awkward tone, the acolyte trots off again down the little party's lines, asking and peering for where Lady Maera might be. Evidently the conscientious lad wishes to report to her.

Isador takes up a random position in the line - not too near where the action is going to be. Considering herself support staff in this enterprise. Lizard-Lions? Really? She thinks to herself.

Bryn looks to the soldiers as they flank the house, and then to Cregan, watching curiously. His expression is almost studying. A thought seems to occur to him, and he bends his neck back to look up to Eonn, "Will I be in your way here, if there's trouble?"

"What possessed them to bring a carriage down this road?" Cregan murmurs, rather rhetorically. He pulls up short as the dogs snarl and close ranks, as they were trained… a chorus that's joined by the larger mastiffs still held at bay by their handlers amidst the riders. "Whatever trouble we've trailed, I suspect we've found it." For the moment, he throws up a halt via a hand gesture that's echoed by a commanding horn blown by another rider, "Eyes open! Bows ready!" He follows his own sage advice, turning his horse to the side and surveying the trail, an arrow knocked loosely to string.

Maera is slowly urging her mount down the slick trail. She occasionally opens her mouth to give encouragement to the steed, and occasionally she mutters soft half-formed words to herself. "…Why would they come this way…?" More muttering to herself as she leans over slightly in the saddle to look at the ruts. "This doesn't feel right." She says to no one in particular. At Cregan's order, she takes her own bow from her back, and knotches an arrow.

"Depends on the kind of trouble," Eonn replies, guiding his mare down the sodden path. She, too, sniffs and snorts nervously. "You'll be all right, boy. If there's trouble, run like hell, back to town."

The damp air smells of rot, and a few hundred feet further down the trail the horses sink in to their fetlocks as they walk. There's not supposed to be a swamp here.

Kai pulls to a stop as Cregan raises his hand, moving a hand to the pommel of his sword once more, eyes slowly scanning the surrounding area.

Disappointed for now in his quest for colloquy with Lady Mormont, Amadys dismounts, the easier to string his new bow…and sinks in a robed, muddy mess to the ground. No sinister vapour or hidden dart has overcome him, but the simple weariness of a soft-bred boy worked hard since dawn. Fortunately for the acolyte, his involuntary nap has commenced close to a kindly Northern soldier, who will turn out to be willing to cover for the youth's…temporary…lapse at the hour of glory…

There's a faint, smoky smell. More like wet ashes than live smoke, hidden within that bog-stench. And the definite, creepy, feeling of being watched.

Kai continues to scan the area slowly, listening to the minute sounds as he waits, looking quite odd amongst the 'honest' men and women around him.

Ahead, one can see the trail end. The path sinks into swamp. And sinking into the swamp is the wheelhouse. It's not a big one. It's painted brightly red, with the mailed fist of the Glover's on its side.
Isador follows the crowd notching an arrow. She bends and picks up a bramble off the ground wrapping it around her hand. Some sort of wildling ritual perhaps? Or maybe a reagent for some magic? It is unlikely anyone who would note the gesture is observing her at the moment.

A swamp is a poor place for armored men on horseback; even moreso when it's an uncharted and potentially unnatural bog. "We're not alone out here." Cregan muses softly, dismounting as his horse becomes more impediment than tool of war and steadying the uneasy black courser as he takes to his own feet amidst the hounds. "Dismount and close ranks, find the steadiest ground you can and hold fast! Yalen, lead the horses back to the road." If it comes to an ambush, Cregan doesn't particularly want horsebound warriors falling over themselves trying to maneuver and strike. For his part, the Lord of Winterfell seeks out Isador— she has a way of standing out amongst this lot, herself. "You were saying such poisons were often administered through smoke. Smell that?" Someone was paying attention, it seems.

Maera's nostils flare at the smell, and her eyes squint in suspicion. The hairs on the back of her neck stand up as the eerie sensation settles over her. Her horse skids a bit in the mud, and she lets out a gentle but firm Woah to calm the mount. She dismounts at Cregan's order, and gives her mount a sound slap on the rump. At the mention of poisons she adjusts her cloak so the fabric of cowl covers her mouth.

There's a rumbling roar sound from the water, and a thrashing. The big dray-horses that pulled the wheelhouse, four of them, are still hitched to it. Dead, their heads sunk in the mire. And there is indeed a lizard lion there, tugging at entrails of one, thrashing it's huge tail. It smacks another of the monsterous animals in the head, and the second reptile protests with a hissing roar. The horse guts rip, releasing yet another stench into the air.

Eonn dismounts from his mare, who is snorting angrily now. He then tries to bring Bryn onto his armoured shoulders.

Kai sighs softly, mimicking Maera and pulling the fabric of the cowl over his mouth, dismounting his horse afterwards with a grunt. He watches the lizard-lions rip the horses apart, choosing to step over near Eonn as he dismounts himself, eying the child silently.

Isador nods, "Yes - Isador my Lord," she manages a short introduction. Looking at Lady maera's covering of her mouth - "I would suggest your men follow Lady Mormont's example and make sure they breathe as little of the smoke as possible…" She looks suddenly to the Lizard Lion. "Oh fuck…" she manages.

"Or," says Eonn, hands at Bryn's waist, "Do you want to stay on the mare?"

Derrioth comes out the Beacon Gate from Oldtown.
Derrioth has arrived.

There's a nod, then the command. It seems solid enough advice. "Wrap your mouths and noses with cloth." Cregan calls to his men, wrapping part of his own cowl about his face like a halfmask. "Check the borders of the path, see if you can find what was burned. We may need to know." The grim words are intimated quietly to a handful in the vicinity, before Cregan pushes back to the fore of the group, heavy boots sucking loudly as they're drawn from the mud, time and again. Seemingly on impulse, Stark raises, draws, and releases his longbow, sending the broadpoint twisting tightly about itself as it whistles through the air seperating him from the nearest reptile. "Kill them. Clear the wheelhouse."

Bryn doesn't even hesitate, and says, "I'll stay with you." If Eonn doesn't think he'll be in the way, it seems he feels safer with the man than the horse with the creatures around.

Cregan's arrow sticks into the armoured back of the lizard lion. The animal roars, a nasty, breathy roar of rage. A moment later, when Maera's arrow takes it in the eye, but this doesn't seem to kill it. It thrashes, violently, bashing at the dead horses, the other lizard lion, and the wheelhouse, with its powerful tail.

Eonn sets Bryn on his shoulders and offers the boy a rag, just a bit of black knitted woollen fabric, before tying another one around his own face. He has no bow, and stands in the muck, watching. His horse turns and starts to pick her way back up the trail.

Isador ties a kerchief around her face that she obtains from the saddle bag of the horse she borrowed - pausing to say a silent prayer to the whoever that the thing was clean. Then she engages near the lord Paramount shooting an arrow at the nearest reptile. Her own flathead aimed true - this time around at least. She was a little out of practice.

Isador's arrow strikes the second reptile. It hardly seems to notice, because it's busy trying to bite the first one, which is thrashing against it.

Maera lets her arrow loose, and it strikes the beast in the eye and does…nothing. "…What?" she takes another arrow from her back, and takes aim to fire again. "I don't understand…."

Kai watches the reptiles thrash and rage about, having no bow of his own to use, he simply waits for his time, standing by Eonn and the child emotionlessely, noting the apparent lack of reaction from the beasts.

There's a sound, something in the tallest of the trees. It's hard to notice, because of the racket the lizard lions are making.

Maera's second arrow flies true, not to the eye of the beast, but right behind its head, between a pair of its leathered scales at the base of its neck. Thunk. The animal doesn't go still, but it's thrashing stops. Instead it just twitches. And blinks. And blinks around the arrow sticking from its eye. The one wounded by Isador turns.

Bryn accepts the cloth from Eonn, quickly wrapping his face. He looks up, watching as the others fire the arrows at the creatures. "Maybe they're drunk. Or, well, something like that. Some people when they're very drunk, you can stab them and they don't notice." He then looks up towards the tall trees quickly, "Did you hear that?"

Kai looks up as he hears a quiet sound far above him, squinting as he tries to make out what it could be, his fingers wrapping around the grip of his weapon.

"I think they are just lizards," says Eonn, softly. He points up into the trees, and says, "Shoot it," louder. There's a figure up there, human, small, carrying some large long limp bundle in its spindly arms.

The lack of damage on the creatures tempts Isador to resort to blood magic but upon reflection she does not think things so dire as to resort to a vulgar display of power. So she takes another shot from her bow. The Bramble around her wrist remains unused.

Cregan steps forward twice, drawing another broadhead from the quiver at his hip and immediately knocking and releasing it with practiced ease. Once Maera's second shot slows the first beast, it behooves him to inhibit the second— especially as it turns on them. Only once he's studied its flight does Lord Stark pause, brow furrowing, as his gaze darts upwards at something barely on the edge of his senses.

Kai reaches into his right sleeve slowly, his fingers fiddling with something within it momentarily before he slides his right foot back slowly, preparing to move.

The lizard lion must be fourteen feet long, and they are peppering its thick scaled hide with arrows. Isador hits it in the corner of an eye, and it hiss-roars. Cregan's arrow takes it in the throat while it's head is lifted to make that sound, and it snaps its jaws shut on the arrow sticking up through the underside of its mouth, breaking it off. It bleeds red, like any creature.

Maera takes a third arrow from her quiver, and puts it into her quiver. She doesn't aim for the lion-lizards, but instead turns to let her arrow fly in the direction that Eonn points.

Then something falls from the trees, heavily and fast. A human shape, tumbling into the water in front of the group, and in the reptile's path.

Maera's arrow barely skims the figure in the trees. Or perhaps it hit. Whatever it was, there's a nasty sound from up there, a hiss not like the lizard lions' voices, but like a madwoman's voice. Then there's wheezing laughter, which abruptly cuts off.

Isador leaps back looking at the figure and swearing in Braavosi. She ignores the figure not know what it is yet. And then shoots another arrow at the Lion Lizards.

"What the…" Where did -that- come from? The young Stark doesn't immediately pick up the small shape, but the falling, man-shaped bundle? That's hard to miss at it crashes into the muck. Cregan recovers quickly, to his credit. "Whatever's up there, gold to the one who brings it down to -us-!" He shouts, even as he steps forward, not trusting arrows to stop the great lizard in time. Instead, he drops his bow, redoubles his pace, and draws the greatsword from his back. The intricate, waving grain of Valyrian steel somehow catch the light even in this weather, shifting darkly like smoke as the pull leads into a sidestep and a descending cut, intent on seperating the beast from its body at the neck before it can reach the fallen fellow; at least, in an ideal world.

Maera quickly flings her bow back onto her back, and draws Longclaw from it's sheath. The rippled steel of the Valyrian blade shines suprisingly bright in the dull rainy weather. She makes a quick cut at brambles in her way before she sets off into the woods after whatever foul mad creature hides within the trees.

Kai continues to scan the trees after the human figure falls from above, the thought of gold egging him on.

There's no snicker-snack with the descent of that ancient greatsword but a different, slick sound distinct from that the mud makes as lizardskin is split like so much soft flesh, the massive beast's deadly maw snarling a final snarl before its head is liberated from its body, rolling only thrice before the mud claims it, and it lays where it lands. The breadth of that unusually sharp blade is then thrust, point first, into the twitching midsection; it's the only way to be sure.

These animals just don't seem to die properly. The beheaded one keeps opening and closing its jaws. Just slowly.

The man who fell, or was thrown, from the branches above, is face-down in the muck.

Bryn watches the figure fall from the tree, but soon his attention is back on the extremely-durable lizard lions, only to grin as Cregan beheads the one. He'd probably have cheered, if they weren't still in danger. And that opening/closing mouth freaks him out just a little, though he says softly, "Like a chicken, gotta be like a chicken." Looking up at the trees as Cregan's promise of gold sinks in, however, he pulls his knife from its hiding place under the back of his tunic. Just in case anything up there comes into throwing-range of his place on Eonn's shoulders.

Eonn watches Maera take off. It's not a bad path, if the thing in the trees is climbing down. Or maybe it is, if she doesn't want to meet that thing. Eonn doesn't seem to think she does, and calls, "My Lady!" in alarm.

Maera seems to have misjudged where the creature in the trees went off to! She emerges from the woods a moment later, cursing.

There's a mist starting to creep in from the woods on the other side of the little swamp, just to the north of where it joins the river.

Isador goes to investigate the man who is face down in the muck. Trying at least to turn him over and identiofy him. Taking note of the mist the witch says, "What in the seven hells?" A worrying coming from a mystically literate witch.

Wearing a deep frown as the /head/ of the lizard-lion continues to try to take a bite out of… well, anything within reach, Cregan doesn't seem as eager to dismiss the creatures' fortitude as a natural event. "Bind and bag the head; oil and burn the rest." He orders several soldiers… who seem hesitant to approach the beasts, but then who wouldn't be? As Isador moves to check the fallen figure, Lord Stark moves onward to approach the wheelhouse, waving a hand to beckon accompaniment; or at least someone to watch his back. Even with the ominous encounter and the gathering mist, he's disinclined to retreat without at least taking a closer look at.. and inside… that carriage.

From how deep the wheelhouse is sunk in the mire, it'll be a wade to get out to it. That murky water will be up to a man's chest.

Kai chooses to follow after the witch as she moves to flip the body over, making his way through the muck, his eyes still glued to the trees.

Eonn looks at the mist. He reaches up a hand to touch Bryn's arm. "I think, boy, that I want you to /run/ back to my mare. Do you think you can get on her?"

The not-properly-dead reptiles do seem to be slowing down, at least.

Maera comes forward to follow Cregan towards the wheelhouse. She stops at the edge where swamp water meets murky and soft land, and her boots sink into the mud. "…There may be more in there." Maera notes to Cregan, "Do we risk it?"

Bryn slips his knife quickly away as he looks back to Eonn at his words, and says, "Yes, I think I can. Do you want me to bring her back?" He follows Eonn's gaze as best he can to the fog, and he tenses up slightly as he gets ready to run as soon as he's set down.

Eonn steps up to higher ground, where the path is merely sodden and doesn't suck quite so much at one's boots. "No," he tells Bryn, setting him down. "Get on her and wait. If somebody tries to take her, just tell her to kick him."

The smell of the mist preceeds it. It's smoke. But smoke rises, and this is creeping along the ground. Sweet, incensey smoke. Sickening.

The man in the mud wears Stark's sigil on his surcoat. Under the muck, his face is white and clammy. But he's alive. There's that stinking black vomit on his lips, the terrible stench of it on his breath.
Cregan's frown only deepens as his first steps forward sink him to the knees in the suddenly soggier ground, and it's clear that there -is- no proper path out to the thing. At least, not a course that doesn't take a dangerously long time under the circumstances. The nearer beast is doused in oil and set aflame with a torch, flames fluctuating and hissing in protest-laden battle against the rain. "Ho there, in the wheelhouse! Can anyone hear me?"
Oh, how he's tempted to risk it, it's painted plain as day all over the northman's face. Still. It's more than his life at play. "Sound the withdrawal, back to the road." The deep notes of that northern horn do just that, as the majority of the party backtrack along the path. "Glover could still be in there…" he observes, pushing forward several more steps to listen carefully for any reply.

Kai stands besides Isador as she flips the man over, staring down at him, "Can you help him?" he asks, kneeling down besides her.

Isador tries to garner some help moving the man if it is available otherwise she covers his mouth with a band of cloth and drags him out of the muck herself. "Look at me dragging dying men when there's science to do…" Isador quips. "Poor bastard…" When he is clear of the muck she sees if there is anything she can do on the spot.

Bryn nods to Eonn, and then turns and runs. He runs as fast as his legs will carry him back along the path, until he finds Eonn's horse. It's not the easiest, but he climbs onto the horse's back just in time for almost everybody else to be returning to the road too.

There is no sound from the wheelhouse. The mist-smoke is seeping over the water now, the smell of it both appetizing and nauseating.

Maera looks across the way to the unnatural mist that rolls in. "My Lord." Maera says in her flat, sensible voice, "The horses have been out here so long that their guts are putrid. We must go." Maera takes a step out into the murky water after Cegan, "All due respect, Lord Stark. It'd rather not die puking up shit, and I do not think it is a fit way to go for a man of your station." She stands up to her knees in the filthy water, "There are none alive in there."

Eonn starts to wade in after Cregan the moment Bryn runs off, drawing his battered old sword as he goes. He ignores the depth of the muck in favour of hurrying through it. Which is still slow. It's hard to stride along fast when, under the water, you're up to your knees in mud.

Kai follows after the witch as she drags the injured man clear of the muck, looking down silently and watching her work, his hand resting atop the pommel of his falchion once more.

Isador turns to Kai who is nearest, "Could you please help me carry this man good Ser? I am err delicate…" She smiles at him helplessly, "I really want to get him out of here before the smoke comes…"

Eonn gets nearly to the cart when he starts to waver. He stands in the water, bending at the waste, and vomits. It's not black, but brown-grey.

Kai nods slightly, kneeling down slowly and grasping the injured mans arms, he slowly lifts the man over his shoulder, grunting quietly as he stands, and then looks over towards Eonn as he pukes his guts out, "Wonderful." he says, his voice monotonous.
You paged Maera with 'You pretty much must do the same. Hard to stay standing, impossible not to puke.'

Coming down the track with along bladed westerosi longsword pleasantly resting upon his shoulder is Derrioth with a curious expression upon his face, oddly he'd be wearing his thick leather vest and leather gloves, which would give the impression he's in his combat attire, and thus perhaps looking for a fight. He'd stop as he comes into a safe speaking distance of the group before calling out, "Greetings! I was told there was something going on down here so I just decided I'd come and help! And so I ask, may I be of assistance?"

"Doesn't mean he's not -in- there." Cregan is no maester, no acolyte, not even an exceptionally learned man, by the world's standards… but he's not an idiot. Anyone in the carriage may almost certainly be long dead, but as it stands? The fate of Lord Cressan Glover remains one more mystery on top of mysteries. Pushed forward to his own waist, perhaps another step or three and Ice could bite into the side of that wheelhouse, create a window… but as Eonn joins him and loses his lunch, priorities shift. "We know what that smoke does, and we don't know if we can stop it…" A pained look takes in the form of Taigh as the outrider is drawn back along the path. "It's not worth our corpses to confirm his." The decision drips sour from his lips, for more reasons than the acrid stench that tugs at his gut, as he backpedals.

From the wheelhouse, there's a little stirring sound, just as Cregan starts to turn. Or maybe that scrape is Eonn's guts. Guts don't sound like that, though.

Maera turns to leave with a grateful expression on her face, but that expression fades to one of horror as she falls forward into the water with a splash. Next comes the vomit, the same as Eonn's. Her knees sink into the muck as she vomits into the surface of the water.

Isador manages a small show of defiance against the Lord Paramount's order, "Mayhap he will slow us down my lord," she says continuing to help cart the man away. "But I am awfully curious to know what exactly happened here. And if I can save him we might learn just that," no time to argue though only time to act - and Isa has chosen her course whether motivated by altruism or curiousity or both.

Eonn staggers into the wheelhouse, still puking. He's about to fall down, and it's the nearest thing to grab on to.
Kai carries the man back to his black mare quickly, throwing him over it and securing him before turning towards the water once more, walking over to Maera, seeing as she is the farthest away from the wheelhouse.

Derrioth stands there, staring at everyone heaving up their earlier digested foods. He looks over to Isador, whom he'd tread down to, bringing around his longsword into its sheath, "What in the seven hells is going on?" he asks, his right brow raised.

"Take him, and the head." Cregan confirms, yelling back to Isador and offering no argument; he wants as much evidence to peruse as they can find. Of course, then Eonn is incapacitated against the wheelhouse, and Maera doubles over as well from even the cursory exposure to the smoke. Cursing under his breath, the Wolf pushes forward with a surge of defiant energy, seeking to rather roughly bust out the window of that carriage with his blade, before sliding it away and offering an arm to Eonn… but not without using the moment to peer inside the carriage, the Lord of Winterfell clasping his other hand over the cloth on his mouth and nose.

Eonn tugs the wheelhouse door open in his effort to not fall face-down into the murky water and drown on swamp-water and puke simultaneously. There are two people inside, white-faced, clammy. The stench that comes out of the cart is bad enough to over whelm, at least for the moment, the sticky-sweet-rotting-meat burning smell of the smoke-mist.

Kai makes his way through the murky water, heading towards Maera, feeling the bile rising in his stomach already, despite his experience with such things, he holds it in though, determined to hold it in until he at least gets the Mormont lady out of the water, as he reaches her he moves to grip her arm so that he may throw it over her shoulder and then head back out of the water, unless the Lady has other plans, grimancing as he slowly feels the enviornment getting to him.

Derrioth grunts as he follows Isador up the hill, grabbing the handle of his sword, he looks over his shoulder before looking to Isador again, "What is all that… Mist..?"

Eonn pukes again. What comes up from him is getting blacker. He looks out of it, his face waxen, and it takes him a dizzy moment to recognize Cregan's arm before him. He takes it, his grip hard, transfering his weight from the wheelhouse doors to Lord Stark. He's a tall and big-boned man, but at least thin.

It takes some effort to pull Maera out of the muck, but she is freed with a popping noise as her legs are released from the muck. She stumbles forward with Kai's help, "the other's…?" She asks weakly before turning her head to vomit again, luckily in the direction away from Kai's face.

"Well that…" Cregan pauses, pushing down the bile that rises in his throat from a combination of poison and rot, two breaths taken shallowly before he finishes, ".. answers that." He coughs violently, but maintains his own footing, the Northern lord anchoring Eonn as best he can, all but dragging them both back through the muck with strong, urgent heaves. The added weight makes the passage difficult, to say the least… but options are scarce. "Come on Eonn, focus! You've got to work with me, here. Just a little… farther…"

Isador looks at the sellsword with a wane smile, "Poison," she says, "One I've not seen outside of Essos," she elaborates briefly. She continues to check the barely living Stark retainer making sure he is still breathing. After she briefly waved others up Isador scratches a sigil in the dirt - she pricks her hand with the bramble and lets a few drops of blood pour into it. "Not sure if this will work…"
.
"Fine.." Kai says in reply, leading the woman up the hill and then setting her dowm mear Isador, he then stumbles over to the right side of the trail, grunting once, twice and then heaving borwn-colored bile out into a bush.

Eonn blinks miserably at Cregan, and leans on him, trying to stagger for the bank. He says something in some low Valyrian tongue, and then vomits again. Black now, very black.

Derrioth lowers himself to one knee as he looks to the Sigil, and then to Maera before looking over to Isador, "I am well trained in self inflicted injuries, would more blood make whatever you're doing more proficient?" he asks as he pulls off his right hand glove.

"Good job… helping me…" Cregan snarks drily, probably to keep his own focus; or lighten the mood and keep Eonn's head in the game. Nonetheless, with the effort from the other warrior aiding his own, it's not long before they're back out of the muck, even as it drips in gloppy clumps from each man right to their waists. Stark pushes forward, back up that incline towards the others, "Won't be long before that smoke covers the whole area." Another hoarse cough, another willful bout pushing back the dire poison, and Cregan repositions Eonn across his shoulders, hauling the man along at a faster pace. "If you can walk, grab someone who can't, we have to get out of here now."

Kai slowly stands up straight after heaving his guts up a few more times, exhaling slowly and heading back over to the Mormont lady once more, sighing quietly, "Good thing I only ate an apple before coming here.."

Maera falls down on her knees into the mud. When Derrioth offers to cut open his own wrist she cries out, "No!" She claws at the dirt with her hands, the wet mud caking under her fingernails as she tries to crab-crawl towards a tree to stand. She half-slides up the tree and reaches back to her back for her bow. Then she falls over again.
You post your note about 'Derrioth' in group 14 (GoB Quotes) as message #1

Eonn groans, "Ah. Fuck." He retches again, but at least here on the semi-dry ground he seems sort of capable of self-propulsion. Possibly not upright self-propulsion, but near enough.

Kai follows after Maera, catching her as she falls over again, "Woah." he says, trying to lift her to her feet again and then attempting to throw her arm over his shoulder again, hoping to take her and her bow over to her horse.

Isador watches Maera's histrionics incredulously, "No I think I have enough thankyou Master Derrioth.." she says. She would offer Maera help but thinks better of it. Then after mumbling a few words over the sigil she goes back to checking on Taigh.

As Eonn proves capable of nearly walking, Cregan releases him readily and moves to help with Taigh, "Come on. It won't be long before the smoke reaches us here." He stoops, getting under Taigh's body as fully as he can before lifting— with his knees. Something tells him, awkward and difficult as it may be, he's better equipped for it than Isador.

"The men in the wheelhouse," mutters Eonn, between weakly trying to spit the terrible taste from his mouth. He staggers up the track towards where the horses are, and the Stark bannermen who were left to guard the farmhouse.

Derrioth nods, as he brings himself to his feet with a grunt, fitting on his glove again. He reachs over and draws his sword again, stabbing it down into the ground as he looks back in the directino of the wheelhouse, "Do we know who's responsible?" he asks, resting his right hand on his swords pommel, "There doesn't happen to be anyone I may require to fight, is there?"

Maera allows herself to be lead over to her horse. She half-climbs half-slides onto the back of her horse, and leans forward to bury her face into it's mane.

The smoke seems to like to sit in the low areas, and doesn't reach up to the Roseroad. Only a trace of its terrible stench.

Eonn uses the trees along the side of the track to help him reach the road, and Bryn on the big white mare.

Bryn is there, waiting at the end of the path on Eonn's horse. When he spots Eonn staggering up the path, he rides forward to him. Bryn's eyes are wide, "Are you gonna be alright?"

Kai grabs hold of the horses reins after Maera collapses atop it, leading the horse towards his own, he then ties the reins to the saddle of his horse and climbs atop it, slowly turning his black mare away from the wheelhouse and making his way back up the hill, where he waits for the others.

Isador says absently, "Someone who knows alot more necromancy than I do - at present at least." That is all she will say on the matter to Derrioth - a frown on her face. "I'd like to meet him her or them."

Halfway to the Roseroad, Taigh is passed off to several of the Stark soldiers, along with instructions to get the afflicted parties back to Oldtown… and the maesters. "Something most foul indeed." Is Cregan's not-that-helpful answer to Derrioth. It does, however, sound better than a plain 'no, we don't.'. There's a dark, momentary chuckle at Isador's words. "So would I." It's likely Lord Stark's words carry very different intent, however. Cregan's own course is up the road towards the farmhouse and the two men he left watching in; it's a safe bet he has questions. But who has the answers?

Eonn puts his arms around his mare's neck and leans on her. "Sick," he tells Bryn.

Eonn tries to climb onto his horse. His first attempt fails and he ends up doubled over, vomiting more black liquid. Hard to imagine where it all came from.

Derrioth grunts, grabbing the handle of his sword and placing it back within its home at the sheath, "I see." he says, before he brings both his middle and index fingers from both hands into his mouth before letting out a whistle, in response to the whistle would come a beautiful brown courser would come trotting up in front of him, he'd grunt, bringing himself up onto his steed, he'd grab hold of the reigns with his left hand, leaving his right hand free as he'd look to Isador, "I need to talk to you later." he says before lightly kicking the horse in the side, prompting it to begin trotting as he directs the horse to ride up beside Kai, stopping next to him.

Kai grunts as he leans over to his left, puking dark-colered bile onto the ground from where he sits atop his horse, he spits after repeating the act a few times, determined not to fall from his steed.

"I'm going to die…" Maera babbles a bit between spitting up mouthfuls of the black liquid. "I'm going to die puking up shit." She grips her horses mane before moaning out, "This is bullshit…" Her palfrey's ear twitches briefly before it begins walking in the direction of the road.

Eonn tries again to mount his mare. The animal is patient, in spite of the fact that the man stinks now. "Can you ride?" he groans to Bryn.

"Any time," Isador says to Derrioth in a congenial manner. "Keep an eye on those nobles - they have a tendency to be targets in these parlarous times." Isador remains on the hill looking at the smoke - only moving if it gets any closer. "I think I want the first look at this scene…" She again could help Maera - but thinks better of it. Not wanting to deal with the awkwardness of rejected help.

Bryn bites his lip, looking to Eonn and then up and around to the others, mainly those who are sick. No disgust this time, just thoughtfulness and a bit of worry. He nods quickly to Eonn and says, "I can. The Baneforts have been letting me practice riding." He likely won't be winning any horse races, but he has the basics down.

Around a half-dozen of the Stark riders who escaped the gathering smoke early look at each other with a mix of relief and trepidation at the turmoil of the others, but hold true to their assigned duty: they will protectively escort the others back to Oldtown, and the aid that hopefully awaits at the hands of the Maesters. Cregan and his escorts, meanwhile, approach the farmhouse and pound loudly on the door.

Eonn manages to get himself on the big mare's back. He slumps there, leaning over her side and making Bryn's seating a little awkward. "Ride," he tells the boy, then chokes a bit, stifling more vomiting.

Derrioth would grunt, bringing his mare around to ride up next to Isador, "Want some company?" he asks with a friendly grin, taking the occasional glance to the smoke-mist to assure he's in a safe distance from it.

Kai reaches back as Maera's steed starts moving, gripping hold of it's reins and giving them a light tug, as they are attached to Kai's own horse, he slowly turns his horse about, looking for someone to hand the hysterical lady off to.

The smell of the smoke becomes more prevailent, but somehow gentler. It seems to be dispersing down by the riverside, and the weird marsh there.

Bryn nods to Eonn's instruction, turning the horse and starting to ride back towards Old Town.

Isador follows Cregan looking around for something interesting behind the group but otherwise just remaining as part of his entourage. She nods Derrioth along as part of the party. If he so wishes.

Eonn heads through the city gates to Oldtown.
Eonn has left.

Kai slowly leads Maera's horse further up hill, after a bit, he detaches her horses reins from his horses saddle, handing them to one of the Stark soldiers, he then digs his heels into the sides of his horse, bringing his horse into a canter and heading back down towards the witch and the self-harming sellsword.

Bryn heads through the city gates to Oldtown.
Bryn has left.

Someone peeks out of the door of the farmhouse. It's just an eye, peering through a crack in the planks.

The fearful eye rolls at Cregan.

"We intend you no harm." Cregan offers up to the alarmed inhabitant. Frank, forthright… without actually promising not to hurt anyone. "You've surely noticed… unusual happenings around your homestead. I need to know all of it, you could all be in danger, here." To say nothing of beyond.

"There ne'er was a swamp doon there, M'lord," says the man inside. Still just an eye peeking out, not opening the door. "You went down. It's cursed. Don't tell nobody, or they'll never buy me pigs. Maybe it'll go." A grunt. Someone else inside says, "As if we still have any pigs."

Kai pulls up besides Derrioth, turning his horse about and joining the smaller group outside the farmhouse, gazing towards said farmhouse with a blank gaze as the peasants within blabber about their curses and most likely disease-ridden pigs, holding in his desire to puke his guts up again.

"When did it start? How quick was the change? Have you noticed anything else out of the ordinary?" There's both ample urgency and an amount of patience in the queries, despite.. or perhaps born of the alarming trip. "Your pigs, they died? Retching, perhaps… or taken?" A glance is paid back to the others accompanying him, weighing their own reactions to the news. Or lack thereof.

"Magic that can transform terrain as well…" Isador notes at the farmers response - she plays with the brambles about her wrist and looks about for any more interesting physical evidence outside the homestead. "But why engage Stark forces," she wonders to herself.

"It was just there," says the man. "There wasn't a swamp, and a few days later, there was." The eye looks away, then looks back. "Taken. I let them pigs feed in the wood. Did you see what's down there?"

Derrioth lightly chuckles, glaring around at his surroundings, almost cautiously, "Maybe they don't like dogs that much?" he suggests, grabbing hold of the reign with his right hand and letting go of it with his left, resting his left hand upon the pommel of his longsword that rests in its sheath.

Kai looks away from the farmhouse, scanning their surroundings on the off chance that another enemy attacks, his hand also resting upon the pommel of his blade.

"I did." Cregan answers soberly, "Two are dead, but there may be more." He spares the farmer the details on what it takes to -stop- the things. "Tell me about the carriage that passed. Your wife or girl spoke to the driver, and they diverted that way despite being told of closer water? When did they come through, and had the swamp already formed by that point?"

"It went no swamp then," says the man. "My girl, she tol' them to use our stream." There's a movement within, as if somebody's pointing without realizing that Cregan can't see it. "They wanted water fer their wheelhouse, they use our stream an ' not take the damn cart down that track. I knews they'd get 'er stuck. Even when it wern't no swamp. But a man kent tell a lord anythin'." A pause. There's another sound, of somebody smacking the man in the back of the head, and his face hitting the wood of the door. "Beggin' yer pardon, M'lord."

Kai looks back the the mention of a girl, but shakes his head, going back to scanning their surroundings.

Isador says quietly, "Ah so a noble culprit," she smiles to herself. "Interesting." Folding her arms. "The rain is going to wash away alot of the evidence here unless we move quickly."

"Men rarely listen when they believe they know the right of things." Or are being herded by ulterior motives. Cregan's features darken at the sequence of events, but he makes little other immediate comment. "Who decided to take the carriage down that way, the lord within? How many in their party?" So little of it adds up immediately.. but that there are dark and dangerous things afoot, Cregan has no doubt. Sparing a glance back to Isador and the sellswords scanning the grounds, he appends a simple, "See anything of interest? That smoke may well keep us from searching the river basin until the rain's had its way, I fear."

"They said not to tell they were there," says the man. "They told me girl they'd rape her if she told. But they was howe'er many was in tha' wheelhouse, and two men on palfreys an' a boy on a pony. All of 'em wen down there. Wi' their dogs. An' I saw the boy an' a man ride out, and go on down th' road toward Oldtown as in a hurry, but nobody else come. An' when I wen to sneak a look an see, t'was a swamp doon thar, an' the wheelhouse stuck." The eye peers at Cregan's face. "They fin' out and come t' rape me girl, m'lord will hae their heads, an I right?"

Kai looks back at the Stark, shaking his head, "Nothing of interest so far, milord." he says simply in his strange accent that resembles a mix between multiple Essos accents, and then goes back to scanning the environment.

There's not much to see, just a farm. Fields, farrowing houses for pigs, a barn with a cow and a calf. They're doing well for themselves, by the look of it, but aren't rich people. Nothing seems wrong, except that the rain makes it quiet and appear desolate when otherwise it might be a merry, if shabby, place.

Isador looks helplessly at the Lord Paramount, "I could scry for answers I suppose," she offers - "But whoever did this is an adept. I would have a battle on my hands. When the rain clears the smoke we should be ready to scour the newly accessible areas. I'd make camp here." Hearing the farmers story, "And it would allow you to protect our new friend's daughter's virtue." The witch looks like she is descended from the first men like the Starks but speaks with an Essossian accent.

"Good man…" Cregan notes with a chuckle that's absolutely absent any mirth or warmth. "Judging from what you've said, I may have their heads regardless their intentions towards your daughter." He fishes in a leather pouch and offers over a small handful of silver, flashing it before the crack in the door. "If anyone else comes looking, if you see or hear anything unusual, you ride as fast as you can to Oldtown, and you ask after Lord Cregan Stark." A simple nod affirms Isador's analysis of the situation, "That smoke came from the opposite riverbank, it may be we can find what we seek coming at it another way. We'd not make it much farther than the wheelhouse into that swamp, I fear."

The door opens to allow a rough hand to come out and accept the money. The man inside is old enough to be grey haired and young enough to still look strong. He bobs a little, not quite sure how to behave before a lord, and says, "Yes, m'lord, thank you, M'lord." There's a woman standing behind him, younger than he and taller, too, a handsome strong woman with long blonde hair. Further back in the house there are more farm people, but the dim light makes it hard to make them out.

Kai takes a gander at the blonde woman behind the old man, a slight smile coming to his lips, but he looks away soon after, expecting her attention to be focused on the lord.

The man stands there, his door open a crack, looking at the group unsurely.

Kai yawns quietly, "We should go.. wrestle lizard-lions."

His questions, at least for the moment, answered, Cregan steps back from the door and moves off with the others, directing his men to set up bedrolls and arrange a watch. The sellswords, meanwhile, would be offered a wage worthy of several days work, for their troubles on this ride.

Kai takes the offered wages, smiling slightly at the first bit of honest coin he had recieved in a while.

__ later _

Isador does not quit looking scrunching her bramble she seems to effortlessly ignite a makeshift torch. If Kai is trailing her she says, "Care to walk with me Master? Or content to be my shadow?" The beautiful witch fears neither the dark nor the wild. But then she was wildling born and would tell anyone who asked as much.

The farmer in the squat thatched house shuts and bars his door again. The smell of the mist has faded, it's only the smell of rain and mud, now. The barest whiff of rot from down the track.

Kai looks down at the girl as he rides behind her, smirking, "Better view from back here." he says, apparently content to be her shadow, for the wrong reasons, perhaps.

Isador walks around the farmhouse perhaps attracting the attention of the farmer or his family if they were overcurious. "I wonder how much truth came out of our honest provincial folks mouth. I'd have liked to speak with the daughter to be honest." She vocalises out loud so that Kai can hear her. Then she knocks on the door of the farmhouse.
You paged Thane with 'research, if you have it, just mind if you havne't.'

The eye appears in the crack of the door again. "Who's you?" says the man.

Kai grunts in reply, dismounting his horse and tying it's reins to a support, stepping in besides the girl and gazing towards the farmer as he opens the door, silent as per usual.

"Isador - good Master farmer. You might have noticed me in the shadow of Lord Cregan when he was asking you questions. I was wondering whether I could trouble you and your family with some more. Acknowledging the lateness of the hour I bring recompense. My purse does not have as much silver as the Lord Paramount - but I have a couple of decent bottles of Arbor wine. Would you allow me and my fellow entry to your farmhouse?" She curtseys politely as she speaks but this might seems a little farceful to smallfolk. Isador is very well spoken and educated for a wildling.

"What d'y want to ask?" asks the man, narrowing his eyes.

"Specifics… the appearance of the men who threatened your daughter. In her own words if it please you. It is awkward speaking across the doorway. Would you care to allow us entry. I am not so terrifying am I?" Isador manages a halfway helpless but winsome smile.

The eye moves away from the crack in the door. There's the sound of the bar being lifted, and then the old man opens it again.

The old man looks out, staring at Isador. The younger woman, behind him, looks suspicious.

Isador gracefully glides in. At close range she smells nice and looks even unnaturally better than she does at long range - her alabaster skin and flame red hair a potent combination of fire and ice. She smiles reassuringly at the commonfolk. "Oh our deal." Isador produces a bottle of fine Arbor and hands it to the farmer. "I have another to share. Only the Highborn and the well to do can obtain this vintage. But it has always been more a question of connections than coin. Have you had it before good farmer….?" Isador fishes for a name.

The old man says, "No, girl, I haven't. We're simple folk here. We don't get wine much. We have. Stew. And cider?" He's almost offering. Besides the woman, the others in the room are youngsters. A girl, perhaps fourteen. Two boys, probably ten and twelve, a smaller girl, a baby, asleep on a pallet in a corner.

Kai steps in after the girl, bright grey eyes scanning the room slowly, and then setting down on the farmer, he simply stands there silently, he smells fine despite his earlier experience with projectile vomiting, possibly due to some cleaning, he stands there as if it were only natural.

The family stares at Kai. The old man looks at Isador accusingly. Evidently he feels betrayed.

Kai casually removes a coinpurse filled with a few silver stags from his satchel, remembering his manners.

Isador smiles, "A most generous offer. But good Ser you should have some of my wine. I do like to see the faces of all light up as they try it for the first time. It is my gift to you and your lovely family. As I said I am Isador…" She looks over her shoulder at Kai, "Forgive my silent wall over there - violent situations attract violent men. But his involvement in this matter is the same as mine all in good faith." She frowns at Kai with a quizzical look on her face that might not escape the farmers notice.

The youngsters huddle together a bit. The woman goes to stand beside them. The old man nods. He gestures to the two rough wooden chairs that the place boasts, and moves to the hearth to get a few wooden cups. "What did you wan t' ask?" He says as he shuffles about.

Isador opens the wine and pours some for everyone. "These men who threatened your girl - if I might hear in her own words what they were like? And one more thing… You mentioned the land was cursed. Did this group have a woman with them? Or a man? One with a certain energy? One who perhaps had an energy that resembled mine?" Isador the witch is doing some witch hunting.

Kai re-pockets 'his' coinpurse, choosing to put on a somewhat more friendly face, at least until he exits the building, he remains standing.

"If there was a woman," says the farmer, handing the cups to Isador. "I didn't see her. It was the lord. Glover, they say, from the North. That's what the sigil on the wheelhouse means. I saw the wheelhouse, and the outriders." He keeps gazing at the witch. The way men do.

"Well the plot thickens," Isador cants her head at the farmer. "Lion-Lizards are not a common occurrence around your farmstead I presume as well? Have you ever met Lord Glover before?"

"There never was a swamp, nor a lizard lion, before he came," says the farmer. The woman nods in agreement, though she still watches Isador and Kai suspiciously. The man continues, "I ne'er met him at all, just them outriders."

Kai stands about silently, being charming and what not.

"So neither you nor your daughter would know Lord Glover by sight?" Isador does the conventional thing, "I apologise if I am being inquisitional I just want to get to the bottom of this matter. Oh and I did not catch your names? How is the wine?" she asks trying to deflect the natural suspicion of the smallfolk.

The man takes up the wooden cup and drinks from it. He doesn't sip, it's a hearty swallow. "Mikkin," he tells her. "My name's Mikkin. 'Sgood wine. ow would I know Lord Glover? I saw th' wheelhouse, is all. An' asked what the sigil was for, after they'd gone. People come 'long the road. An' get water from our stream."

"A pleasure to meet you. And your family. You say your daughter was threatened not to speak of this lord's passage?" Isador digs a little deeper, "Can the girl speak for herself on the matter? What is her name?"

The old man looks over at the maiden, who sits huddled by her brothers. The blonde woman says, "Leave her alone."

Isador looks at the blonde woman with her entrancing emerald eyes, "I always smell so much fear when I encounter the smallfolk and it is such a discouraging thing. I myself was born an outcast north of the wall yet I make traffic with all great and small. Lord Cregan - Lord Aeron all the powerful of oldtown so casually. Now you say that some of Lord Glover's band threatened your daughter with rape. Or he did himself. I can protect her. But I only will if I know her side of the story."

"There's nothing to say!" says the woman. "She told them to use the stream, and they went down the track to the river, and said to keep it a secret that they were there, or they'd come back and fuck her!" She speaks angrily. "There's no more to the story than that!" She looks at the old man, "You shouldn't have said!"

"The die is cast good-woman," Isador replies, "Whether you spoke or not you are compromised simply by being in possession of the knowledge. Master Mikken here is quite correct in seeking out what protection he can. If these people truly desire secrecy they will come back and do more than rape the girl. They will seek to silence you all. Such people as those who produced the abomination of today do not stop at rape on the road to murder." Isador tries reason.

"How are you supposed to help!?" asks the woman.

Kai opens his mouth slowly, speaking calmly as he lifts the bottle of wine, pouring it into the last glass, "There is no need to raise your voice good woman, we mean you no harm… We only wish to know more of the situation, so that we may help you.."

"That's all there is," says the woman, more quietly, but a bit sullenly now. "Leave my daughter alone."

Kai turns his gaze over to his companion as she says this, feeling he had done all he could, having little experience in the reason department in the first place.

Now the girl speaks up, hesitantly. "That's all," she says. "I didn't see them again. Mother and father kept watch for them so I could run inside when they went by."

Isador adds her voice to the cacophany, "For the moment you need to take measures - solid ones to insure the safety of principly your daughter and then the rest of your family. You were not neutral in this matter the moment your daughter witnessed the passage of these men. I'd place her in particular and yourselves within the protective custody of Lord Cregan. I'd offer help personally but I suspect the hammer in this matter is going to fall hardest on myself. If indeed the lands are cursed here I am one of the few who can un-curse them. So I have to be cautios."

The old man frowns. "We can't leave now. Not while the season is good."

Isador chuckles but not in a patronising way, "The yield is good - but you lost all of your pigs did you not?" She cants her head, "I was educated in Essos but born north of the wall as a wildling. I have not had the chance to talk to many farmers outside of the Quill - but truly all these nobles in their metal pantaloons with serious talk of curses and strange deadly things afoot. As well as threats to your family. What is a bad season?"

The man looks at the blonde woman, and at the girl behind her. "Do you want to go?" he asks. The woman shakes her head, without hesitation. The girl takes a moment, but looking at her mother, also shakes her head.

Kai looks towards Isador and simply nods, encouraging her to do whatever she thinks is best, as she has no way of knowing what else he could mean.

Isador sighs, "I know - it is 'your home'. I have had few roots myself and have forgotten what that means. Excuse my arrogance." The seductive persuasive witch tries to convince the hardheaded smallfolk of no more. "Lord Bregan owes you more for your role in this matter however. I think that the Lord Protector of the north has both the resources present to protect your family or at least twist the arm of the Tyrells to do the same. Will you let me lend you some soldiers at least?"

"Soldiers?" says the man. "/You/ have soldiers?" He seems worried now.

"I prefer a smaller footprint than that master Mikken. In Essos I had the resources to hire soldiers but only because I had a wealthy adopted father. Here I simply carve toys for children and own a small house - perhaps smaller than yours - but inhabited by one. But I have skills that make me useful to the powerful and I am sure I can persuade someone to spare you some guards.." Isador tries an elaborate clarification. "But no I have neither guards nor minders - if I needed such things I would hardly be useful to anyone."

Mikken looks at Isador with a worried expression. His blonde wife nods approvingly at him. She says, "I think you'd better go."

Isador looks sadly at the family, "I can do no more for you. But if you have trouble and the usual authorities will not help I make berth in a small house off Blackcrown road. You take care of your family Master Mikken. Seven bless you all." Isador does not press the matter. She has gotten as much as she can out of the simple folk. She leaves behind the bottle of Arbor wine. When she is outside and out of earshot she speaks to Kai, "I bet you they knew more. Smallfolk simply overwhelmed by the attention." Lighting another torch (or faggot) she contiues her scouting, "The area that has begun to clear of smoke?" she asks Kai.

The family watch them, worriedly. Though the man cracks a smile when they leave the bottle behind.

Kai gazes down the road, "Would you like me to go down there and see whether I vomit or not? But yes, I would assume so by now." he says, cracking a slight smile.

It is dark now, and so impossible to see if the smoke has cleared.

Isador lights another torch using her own and gives it to Kai, "Lets keep our fingers crossed that we are not wasting our time." She motions towards the blackness the fire shining off the bright red hair of the bold young witch, "So what was your name anyway?" Isador asks.

Kai takes the torch, holding it above his head briefly and gazing about in the darkness, "Kai." he says simply, "And you?" he asks, as if he didn't already know.

It's an ordinary summer night, as far as one can tell now. A night-bird calls.

"EE-Sah-Door!" the witch enunciates sarcastically, "Only Isador. Wildlings dont reall have last names. Though some have pegged me 'red witch' my favorite was 'Lady of the brambles'." Isa shakes her head still looking at the ground and into the darkness. "Is it just Kai?"

Kai nods slightly, "As far as I know." he says, pausing a moment before speaking up again, "If we're going to go on a witch hunt, it may be safer to go around to the opposite side rather than trudging through the potentially toxic swamp."

Isador counters, "It's dangerous but I want to see some of the affected land. Get some samples. We don't have to walk right through it - just a little way in - and then perhaps go around."

Kai smiles slightly, "I'm sure we can convince somebody to go in.. I've had enough puke for one day.." he looks the girl up and down momentarily, "Why don't you use your.. charm to convince someone to do it for us?"

"…Whashgoinon…?" A lank and blary-eyed young figure rejoins the hunt from the malingering rear of the Northern soldiery. Amadys the Acolyte has recovered from his…strategic consrvation of enrgies, and is willing to put such talent as he possesses at the disposal of Lord Stark's little band again…

Kai chuckles quietly, "Here comes one."

"Young maester are you ready to take upon yourself a mission of critical importance to king and country and in discharging such duties save Westeros from almost certain and unavoidable doom?" Isador says to Amadys theatrically.

"I'm not a bloody maester," the Baratheon acolyte objects, "yet. But if I can render some useful service…?" He looks like he has grave doubts about the witch-woman's ability to recognise one.

Kai looks between Isador and the maester, "I'm sure she has /something/ for you."

How many times does he have to say it…giving up on convincing these dubious remaining companions of his precise status, or lack thereof, Amadys sighs and shrugs, a shirker but no coward, rady for whatever pointless or disgusting errand the witch has in mind. After all, he has a bit of…resting…to make up for.

"Find the funkiest and most poison filled quart of soil out in the marsh and bring it back to me," requests the red witch, "Do you have gloves and a mask?" she asks beforehand.

Kai points down the hill, into the darkness, "Just wade a small distance into the water and take a sample, the poison shouldn't effect you, but I've already had enough of that swamp for one day." he says, smiling slightly at the man.

Dubiously, young Baratheon pulls a leather riding glove out of a pocket in his bemuddied robes and starts to strap it about his wrist…but at Kai's additional council he looks irritated, shrugs again, and strides into the swamp, certainly not removing boots or britches, still one glove off and on on! His bare hand carries a detached saddle bag in which to contain the desired gunk…

"And watch out for the immortal Lion-Lizards," Isador says. "In fact you better stay wher ewe can see you. And take this. A little gift from Isador…" She hands Anadys her blood soaked bramble. Purpose unknown.

The wheelhouse with the Glover's sigil on it is out there, lodged in the mire, stuck. With its horses dead in front of it, their bellies ripped open by. Something. There's quite a stench. Obtaining gunk out of this murky water is not at all difficult. It has that joyous attribute of being on top of half-water muck.

Still possessed of no idea whether or not these Lizard-Lions were actually found, but determined not to show fear in front of the witch's mockery, Amadys plods on towards the half-sunken wheelhouse - though it may be noted he did accept the reputed sorceress's weird talisman, whatever it is. Doing his utmost to ignore the poor disembowelled steeds, he sets to filling up the saddlebag with filth.

The water gets pretty deep — Amadys would be about chest high if he walked all the way to the wheelhouse. It's doors are open, left there by the last who investigated. The burned bodies of the two lizard-lions are floating in the mire. It's the four horses that raise most of the stink. And the interior of the wheelhouse. It's that same swamp-rot, meat-rot, shit stench of the black puke that came out of the Stark's bannerman. And several others whose gastrointestinal distress Amadys was fortunate to miss.

Kai slowly follows after Amadys, torch held high above his head, he calls after the man as he reaches the edge of the swamp, "Can you confirm the deaths of the men within, if it is not too much trouble?"

"Get a move on youngling - and not too deep - or I'll have to explain things to that blasted Maester Thane and the rest of your virginal order." Isador is annoyed at the progress. "Damn we should have tied him to a rope…"

"I'll definitely need new robes after this," the acolyte complains with an attempt at querulous humour. "You want the effluence of the deceased, or just the vileness seeping from th land itself?" Kai's latest demand brings an almight sigh from the Baratheon's breast. "Of course. No trouble at all." His grey garb assuming an ever browner, sludgier shade, about two-thirds below the water level, he attempts to haul his way up onto the woodn structure, all the time struggling against the urge to retch himself.

In all these endeavours, alas, Amadys proves a spirited, but definite failure, and Baratheon bile mixes with more noxious Glover fluids…

"We definately should have given him a rope." Isador looks at Kai. "Want to find one we can throw to him?" The witch is averse to at least most of the dirty work. "Get all of it but try to keep it seperate…" directs the red witch.

There are two men in the wheelhouse, waxen faced and motionless. The thing is at least tall enough to have kept them clear of the mire.

Kai places his torch on the ground as he hears the man retching, dropping the pouches and such around his belt to the floor, he ignores the witch, wading into the swamp, "I'm coming." he says, satisfied that he at least knows what he is getting into now.

Amadys clings to one rotting wheel for dear life as he chokes back more vomit and tries with all his might not to lose his last shred of footing and go altogether under. "No trouble…?" he manages to choke out, "mayhaps I exaggerated just a little…"

Kai eventually reaches the man, not struggling quite as much as the maester, "Sorry for making you do this." he says, before going to grasp the man's arm, attempting to throw it over his shoulder so that he can support the man and then guide him out of the swamp. He holds his breaths for as long as possible so that he doesn't have to breath too much of the smell in, it wouldn't help too much if the poison remains, but he seems confident that he can leave the swamp without barfing too much.

"I'll provide moral support from the sidelines. I'd offer some sort of anti nausea cantrip but I don't know any and if I did I suspect i would have had to get a fair bit of blood from you both to pull it off anyway!!" Isador says unhelpfully. She does make a fire to give them a point of reference at least as best she can safely.

"No silver link yet…not a maester…" Amadys continues to splutter between further frame-shaking retches… "still…think they looked dead…but…ought to…take…look…pulse…house?"

Kai pauses as he begins dragging the man away, looking back, he sighs softly, turning about and walking back straight into the smell, the two eventually reach the wheelhouse once more, and Kai props the man against the wheelhouse, to his pleasure no doubt. He finds the smell bearable, having shoveled his fair share of shit in his life.
You paged Amadys with 'One guy, the slimmer, taller one, is dead. The other, they one with a biggish nose, is alive. But barely, very barely. It's a sort of posh little wheelhouse, with nice pillows and stuff, but it smells absolutely revolting, and tehre's a lot of that black puke in there.'

The flush seems to be returning to the acolyte's lordly features, and he enters the construct at last with a measure of enthusiasm. But this measure is nothing to the excited peal of his voice as it cries out, "The shorter, stockier one still breathes! Help me get him out of here, my good man…"

Kai grunts, climbing into the wheelhouse and then stepping over to the man's side, he kneels down by the shorter one, and lifts him by the arm casually, he throws the guy over his shoulder slowly, turning to the maester afterwards, "I'm going to have difficulty supporting both of you."

Isador hears the commotion from the wheelhouse and can barely believe it. "TRULY!!" she calls out. "Keep him stable while I get some help!! we should float him over the swamp or at least use more people to retrieve him!!" she suggests.

"Take the…invalid, if you would. I'm over the worst of it," Amadys yells back down with a clipped confidnce he does not, perhaps, altogether feel, attempting, with Kai's help, to heave the wounded, perhaps dying man down the same way he himself was carried up.

The nearly dead man is limp, and stinks of that terrible, terrible puke.

Kai lowers the man down with the maesters help, and then turns back to the 'invalid' as he called him, somewhat roughly throwing the guy over his shoulder. He carefully makes his way out of the wheelhouse, nodding to the maester, "Ready to go?"

Isador says to herself, "Oh for whatever power's sake…" Yelling, "Be careful - I'm getting help." She runs off in the direction of Cregan's camp and makes a huge qamount of noise enough to draw at least the sentries from around the camp quickly and hopefully in force/.

"Gentler, man! You don't want to finish him off," Amadys objects, rather ungratefully, to his saviour of a few momnts before, as he himself trudges behind with relative, if filthy, ease. Fortunately it looks as if the Northerners are finally beginning to stir to their rescue and succour…

Kai slowly drops into the water with the deceased man shouldered, awaiting the assistance from Starks men.

"I don't suppose I could have the taller, deader one for later…inspection?" Amadys, who has now taken over the transport of Big-Nose, in the full knowledge the Stark men are about to relieve him. "I think th archmaesters would be intrigued. Fresh corpses are hard to come by, and this one is out of the ordinary…" By now one of the Northerners has the wounded man, and Amadys can step untrammelled from the swamp. "I'll look that one over back at the camp…"

A bundle of men stream down from the camp with Isador in tow. She even helps with the last leg of the trip out of the swamp since there are only four - dirtying her favorite red brambles dress. "Quick lets get the live one to an apothecary right now!! The citadel would be best but in the interim camp will ahve to do!!"

Kai shrugs at Amadys question, having little authority concerning that matter, as they emerge from the swamp, he gathers his stuff once more, and then heads into the camp without a word, looking for some place to clean up.

The young acolyte looks surprisingly healthy, for all his befouled state, and radiating confidence and authority once more. A diagnosis made, a life perhaps saved, and th prospect of an interesting cadaver. Lady Maera may have proved elusive, but who is to call this a wasted journey, after all…?

Kai makes his way into the tent where Isador treats the half-dead man after cleaning himself, and his gear up, "Greetings." he says, taking the chance to admire the woman as he often does with many women, with a blank expression of course, "How goes your patient?"
"He's alive - barely," Isador looks tired and yawns - not the fire and ice goddess of the earlier eve but a very tired and yet still comely girl.

Kai walks slowly inside the tent, the flap closing behind him, he undoes his cape as he does so, setting it down neatly near the man, "Quite a day." he says, stepping over to where the man lies, gazing down at him for a moment before turning his gaze back over to Isador, a slight smile coming to his lips, "Do you have anymore of that wine?" he asks.

Isador shakes her head somberly, "No sorry - Lord Cregan probably has some. After what you've done he'll probably give you a whole case of Arbor's finest," She postulates.

Kai shrugs slightly, "Still haven't found the culprits yet." he says, likely referring to the cackling woman they heard from the trees earlier, "The reward can wait until then." He then looks back over to her patients, "Hopefully he can help with that."

"There are other rewards for being the man of the hour. Fame. Women." Isador notes churlishly. "So you are another sellsword come to Oldtown?"

Kai nods once more, "More or less, wanderlust and all that." he says, "Women are fun, too."

"Where did you come from though?" Isador asks. "Oldtown is hardly the cosmopolis that King's Landing is?"

Kai looks towards the entrance, "I come from Essos, as you may have guessed, travelled across the Stepstones into Dorne, and strolled around there for a while before coming here." he looks the girl up and down for a moment before speaking again, "You mentioned being a wildling earlier?"

"Yes," says the witch, "My family was murdered and I was sold into slavery. Got educated in Essos by Gascoign - a Blood Maegi of some note who bought me and adopted me as his daughter. Even slipped in my revenge on my parents murderers before I came back here. Even fell in love - he died - killed by a jealous knight. All very dramatic," Isador is serious but seems only half so.

Kai remains silent for a moment after the woman finishes speaking, pondering his options for a moment before he too speaks up, "I was an orphan raised in Lhazareen, Dothraki raided my village and I served as their slave, I killed a few of them before I was taken, so I was their 'favorite'. I escaped after a while and then started travelling, started in Meereen, headed over to Old Ghis and New Ghis, then Qarth and the free cities, and now I'm here." he keeps a slight, calm smile as he speaks, bright, almost glowing grey eyes gazing towards the girl in the dark, his tone of voice also one of semi-seriousness.

"Yes indeed slavery is fun…" Isador says checking on the man. "But seriously you have my sympathy and my empathy - it happeneed to me too. Gwarm the Defiler who killed my parents wanted the pirates he sold me to to sell me to a brothel or harem - but thankfully a sentimental rich man offered them more money and freed me. And pirates pay little attention to their promises. At least these stories don't always wind up badly."

Kai smiles slightly, "I suppose not, I for one, am glad a beautiful lady such as yourself escaped the harder fates." he says, a slight, maybe half-joking smile on his face, although the intent behind his words aren't exactly transparent.

"Hmm but if I had remained in chains mayhap I would have been more commercially available to sellswords," Isador responds neutrally to the flirt and compliment - but alas she seems tired. "I'm glad you escaped as well - but this fellow here I'll bet is even more glad."

Kai nods slightly, turning his gaze over to the sleeping man, "I hope he didn't eat too much before coming out here." he lets out a dry chuckle, slowly taking a seat in the corner of the tent, his legs crossing.

"Hopefully we'll get to ask him. If there is another witch involved in this matter things are going to get even more interesting I am afraid," Isador says. "But we all have our trials."

Kai nods slightly, letting out a brief yawn, "I suppose I shall remain here for the night, I have little desire to sleep with the Stark men." he pulls his sheathe free of his waist as he says this, carefully setting the odd, two-handed falchion down besides him.

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