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Author Topic: Drúadan Forest  (Read 715 times)

Eden

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Drúadan Forest
« on: January 12, 2020, 05:39:29 PM »
Drúadan Forest, Anórien, north of Ered Nimrais
{T.A. 3017}
The Drúadan forest had an air of decay mixed with barely audible animal calls, yet night was already close and the next possible stop - almost a day away - was Minas Tirith.

Eden had been travelling for many moons now – Eru knew how long it had been since she had laid on an actual mattress. The woman could not complain though for this was the life of a Ranger, the life she had chosen; the sky was her roof, the Earth was her bed.
A low grumble disturbed the monotonous sound of the black stallion's hooves. The female rider  looked at her complaining stomach for a moment, contemplating whether she should stop for the night.

There were rumours that the said forest was inhabited by a strange, unfriendly folk of men, the Wild Men of the Woods, as Gondorians called them. Nevertheless, they were seen so rarely that few still believed in their existance.

Eden was never one to put blind faith into people's words, let alone rumours or prejudices, but admittedly she had never crossed paths with such a race in any of her travels through the years. She had passed through the woods a handful of times in the past when in need of a shortcut but it was always under the light of the sun.   

Eden's stomach grumbled once again and, as if on cue, the horse neighed in protest, slowing its pace.

'' Alright, alright, you're right. We could both use some rest. '', said the woman. Fatigue and hunger had won.

───※ ·❆· ※───

A seemingly heedless to all dangers doe moved about the land. Eden's eyes were fixed on the animal when at last  an arrow twanged towards it, smacking it in the chest. The doe collapsed into the water, taking one last breath. Dinner was found.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 09:43:22 PM by Eden »

Harper

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2020, 10:23:25 PM »
There were rumors of an even stranger race than skin-changers who inhabited these forest of Gondor. Harper had heard the tales even back in Dol Amroth, or when she would go into the harbor town from her parent's hut in the woods just on the edge. As skin-changers, and her a young child who didn't grow at the rate she should, living within the midst of the other Men of the place would have been a recipe for trouble and being driven out; yet Harper's parents had also understood she was just a young girl, and needed the social interaction of others of Men. Themselves as well; so they had made cautious trips every now and again, and allowed Harper to go into town as well, with reminders of being careful and to not change where any could see her.
 
Along with the other children of town, Harper had taken in many of the tales the elder grandparents knew, and the Drúadan among them. Even knowing there were things unexplained in the world, and with a secret of her own, she hadn't known what to think then, and hardly did now, years later and after both of her parent's demise and on her own. She kept her eyes peeled, partly in curiosity, as she began her journey soaring over the expanse in Hawk form before landing on a branch and glancing around to ensure the coast was clear.
 
She would have assumed staying as a Hawk was her safest course of action, if it weren't for the fact that an arrow had actually killed her father while he was in Hawk form, when a Man of Dol Amroth assumed both that he was a normal hawk and had been the one to raid his traps. Knowing nothing of these Drúadan, perhaps they would give more allowances and hesitation to a young girl of Men than they would a predatory bird hovering about. It was a toss up, and Harper kept her wits about her both ways as she changed and continued along on foot for a bit.
 
Hearing a noise, she ducked back behind a trunk and waited, but it was just a rabbit hopping along. Changing back to Hawk form, Harper hunted her own dinner before deciding to change back and try the rabbit the "traditional" way, cooked over a fire. A big part of her survival, on her own, seemingly just a young adolescent girl, and not even carrying weapons, was her ability to "rough it" and kill and eat small game as a Hawk, without the need of building a fire every time; but Harper was still of the race of Men, and enjoyed the simpler pleasures, like warm bread.
 
There was none of that here now.
 
She had just got a good fire going, when she heard a noise, like an arrow, the thought came to her. Not far off, near the creek. Could it possibly be one of the Drúadan? Harper reminded herself to keep her thoughts grounded.

Feeling the distance didn't make leaving her fire unsafe, the girl stood and walked over to investigate, coming upon the woman, just a regular one of Men, (not even Skin-Changer, she felt she could tell) just as she had a successful hunt it seemed. "Nice shot", Harper stepped out slowly, so as to not startle, "I just caught a rabbit myself and built a fire to cook it over, if...you need one yourself". Of course she hadn't said her fire was big enough for the deer, but figured she could expand it a bit with some stick or such, and especially if the woman felt like helping with that in their sharing. Though, as her offer, she wouldn't require such if she also felt like not.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 04:16:36 AM by Harper »

(#DCDCDC)

Eden

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 01:06:02 AM »
Eden had momentarily lowered her guard, making her way to the dead animal when she heard leaves rustling nearby. The woman stopped dead in her tracks and stayed perfectly still, her hand slowly making its way to her sword's hilt. One could only expect the worst in unknown territory. 'What were you even thinking, you damn fool?' she thought to herself.

With her back turned to whoever was hiding, her only choice was to attack - or so she thought.

''Nice shot'', said the unfamiliar voice; a feminine, chirpy one.

Curiosity and confusion peaked and the woman turned around in an instant to face whoever was adressing her so casually. She was met with, what seemed to her, nothing more than a young girl. Then and only then did she loosen her grip on her weapon, still scanning the stranger with her eyes; despite the young of her age, she did not look fragile and out of place. A native, perhaps? But if the rumours held any ounce of truth, natives ought to be savages, more or less. Or perhaps she-

"I just caught a rabbit myself and built a fire to cook it over, if...you need one yourself"


Eden's thoughts were interrupted by the girl's voice again. The fact that she was being offered food was reason enough for Eden to reject the idea of having stumbled upon an actual Drúadain.

'' Are you out here alone? '', questioned the female at last, dismissing the girl's suggestion for the time being.

Certainly, no smart man could blindly agree to follow someone they had just ran into a forest - not even an innocent-looking girl offering dinner. Besides, Eden thought, nowadays evil rarely presents itself as an ugly, old witch. It could be an enticing succubus or -in this case- a harmless-looking child.


Harper

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 03:52:02 PM »
Even changed back as one of the race of Men, Harper noticed the other tense as she spoke. From more than surprise, she would guess. Her initial observations were reinforced as, upon turning, the woman had already placed a hand on her weapon, in mere preparation perhaps, and given she didn’t draw.

More than that, she relaxed upon sighting Harper. Though she still scanned her, and no doubt the situation.

Harper gave a smile to further encourage the relaxation.

Rather than answer her offer directly, though in a way the question directed at her was related, the woman asked after her own status out here, and if she were alone. It could be its own trap, Harper realized. She was still probably naive, near a century of life experience or no, and there were rumors of much longer lived Skin-Changers.

Still looking so young herself just proved that very fact, as her own kind would look at it, she still was; young. Harper gave her own pause, and thought...but, as she had been the one to address the other, and make her offer, no doubt most of the hesitancy lay one way, and she had the most to prove.

She just also had to be careful, holding a secret.

Her parents had told her how the other Men, normal lived ones, of Middle Earth would not understand. Not even the Dúnedain were assured in their reactions, though perhaps more likely to remain calm in the face of even a Skin-Changer.

Orcs and the Dark Forces must never discover her. Some of her caution could be seen as her parent's paranoia passed down, but it also wasn't a bad idea to be cautious. Harper decided that she could easily enough escape if she had to, and if she kept her secret, escaping as a Hawk, if she could manage it unseen, would guarantee she wasn't tracked.

A lot of Ifs, and not all actually certainty, but Harper also just didn't get a bad vibe off this one. Her story had to not raise more questions, and perplexity, though, she knew. As to how she'd been making it, on her own. She had run into a self-proclaimed pirate, Eldred, a while back, and he seemed to tolerate her presence enough, when she could find him, that she was toying with the idea of using him as a sort of 'uncle' to mention when she needed the validity of an older presence to justify her survival*, but Harper had also been making up excuses without him long enough (and even used them on him) that she felt she could continue to dodge her way around the issue.

"Yes", she answered, with a confident nod, so as to not seem like someone who would set a trap, though they did never seem like such, "It's just me. I made a sort of detour, since I heard the rumors of this forest and was curious, but you're obviously not a Drúadan", she smiled.

<<*Hades and I have mentioned plots but not actually threaded these two before so I don't know what's set and not and tried to be light with mentions>>
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 04:17:06 AM by Harper »

(#DCDCDC)

Eden

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2020, 09:30:57 AM »
" Yes, it's just me. I made a sort of detour, since I heard the rumors of this forest and was curious, but you're obviously not a Drúadan. "

Eden cocked her head to the side and raised an eyebrow upon hearing the girl’s words; could it really be so, a girl all alone in such a place? There must have been something more to it that the woman could not yet see. What was she hiding? Did she even want to know? She had gotten this far because she knew when not to meddle in other people’s lives and it had worked just fine.

Admittedly, she would feel some unease, leaving the other girl like that, but then again she didn’t seem to need her all that much. Or did she? ‘Have I gotten soft?’ , Eden thought to herself and immediately shook her head as if to shake that very thought  off - earning a curious look from the stranger opposite of her while doing so. No, no. Certainly not. It was high time she was on her way. Babysitting was not one of her duties and neither it would ever be.

'' I don’t think we’d be chit-chatting if I were. '' , she finally spoke as she withdrew her hand from the hilt of her sword, yet her tone remained firm and serious.

'' Beware though; seems to me like you’re looking for trouble. Nothing good ever comes out from chasing legends and tales of the old so recklessly. '' , she added before pausing again for a moment, as if contemplating a matter of great importance.

'' I shall join you for dinner. '' , stated Eden, finally having made up her mind.

Friend or foe, it was uncertain which one the girl would turn out to be at the end of the day but Eden would take her chances. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

The woman’s attention returned to the fallen deer. With one swift move, she retracted the arrow from its once beating heart and proceeded to pick the poor animal up, placing it around her shoulders, unphazed by its weight.

'' Lead the way. ''

Harper

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2020, 05:02:40 PM »
The woman cocked her head , as if she found Harper's explanation (or perhaps the casualness with which it was said) unusual. No doubt she did. Harper had already found that her pretty typical explanation, of being alone but ok, sounded unusual. She would say it was part of why being able to add Eldred's name helped, and it did, but she also just liked being around the pirate for his own sake.

'' I don’t think we’d be chit-chatting if I were. '', the stranger said, and there was no mirth in the statement, but that didn't stop Harper smiling again. "No, that and...you don't look like the tales say, though that's never full proof I know!".

What did the tales say on Skin-Changers? She wondered. She'd heard them mentioned a time or two, by travelers around campfires she stumbled across, usually, but people didn't seem to know very many specifics, even in speculation, to toss out. It was sort of sad, because it meant her parent's assumption that there weren't that many was likely true, though they had admitted they had the best calculation on other Hawk Changers (of which they felt they and Harper had been the last) and there could be any number of other animals.

Harper lived in hope of coming across any of them!

'' Beware though; seems to me like you’re looking for trouble. Nothing good ever comes out from chasing legends and tales of the old so recklessly. '', the other said. It could apply to both her current quest and the one on other Skin-Changers. Any number of animals could be...well anything, and Hawks were small, and...while Skin-Changers always remained them, temperaments could change when in animal form, she knew.

It wasn't too noticeable in a tiny Hawk who's focus on rabbits and such just got sharper and more defined, but larger animals could be dangerous. Harper gave a slow nod, thinking through it. "I'll...keep that in mind", and she would.

The woman agreed to join her. Harper, ever glad of companionship, even someone as straight-laced as this one seemed, smiled. She also watched impressed as the other hefted her own quarry of the deer so effortlessly.

' Lead the way. ''.

Harper nodded and lead the way back over to her small fire. She bent to inspect its status, adding a few more twigs, and ensuring the two sturdy ones she'd set to make a spit for the rabbit were sturdy enough for a deer now. It should do. Even though her own game was smaller, and would thus take less time, as the "hostess", even out here, Harper stepped aside to allow her guest to cook her quarry first. "You can set your deer right here, go on ahead". Maybe there would be room on the sturdy log for both the deer and rabbit, but she would check after allowing her guest to go first. "Oh, and I'm Harper, sorry I didn't give you my name", she also didn't hesitate to do such, though she could guess the woman's own trust was probably not so forthcoming, given what she'd said prior.

(#DCDCDC)

Eden

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 08:47:59 AM »
((Sorry for taking so long, exam season is killing me >.>))

The woman followed the young girl without exchanging any more words for the time being. It was a comfortable silence - or at least so she thought. Eden was never one to speak when not necessary and appreciated those who shared that same trait. The Rangers were indeed silent folk, so much so that most of the time they only exchanged some grunts and head nods and yet somehow that was all the communication they seemed to need.

It didn't take too long for them to reach a small clearing. There, scattered on the forest floor, were the girl's things; mainly traveling equipment, nothing out of the ordinary, she thought. A small fire was set in the middle. Eden doubted that it'd be sufficient for a rabbit and a deer if they were to be cooked evenly but the girl seemed to already have been preoccupied with adding more twigs so as to expand the fire.

" You can set your deer right here, go on ahead. " , said the girl.

With a final look of doubt, Eden set the dead animal on the ground with one swift move.

" Oh, and I'm Harper, sorry I didn't give you my name. "
, added the girl.

" Well, Harper, "

Spoke the woman as she dropped her backpack to the ground, completely disregarding the fact that she had still not formally presented herself.

" I think 'tis gonna need a bit more fuel. " , she continued. She then proceeded to whistle. Soon enough, excited hooves could be heard from a distance. A black stallion made its appearance, halting as soon as he met them. On its back were strapped a bunch of branches along with the rest of Eden's possessions.

" Good boy. " , murmured the woman as she caressed the animal's snout.

She then proceeded to carry the wood to the fire. After efficiently expanding the once smaller pit, she took a seat on a nearby rock and gathered her equipment.

Meanwhile, the horse had hesitantly approached the stranger, curiously sniffing her while doing so. Eden briefly looked up at the two and a half smile formed on her lips.

" That's Brego. And I'm Eden. "

She said before getting her skinning utensils out of her bag.

Harper

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Re: Drúadan Forest
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2020, 03:59:45 PM »
Harper didn't notice anything tense, or uncomfortable, in the silence either. Sure, her companion just quietly followed along, but the girl was also coming to realize she just seemed the stoic type to do such when there was nothing more to be said, and there didn't seem to be, not en-route to the fire she'd promised and before they reached it.

Of course her offer of sharing her fire took care of the further offer of space for the deer, but Harper still made sure to say such, out in the woods or no she was still a hostess and would act like such as much as she could.

It was a blend of just the customs of Men, for the most part and varying cultures aside, as well as the more intuitive addition to this feeling of 'sharing your nest as it were'. True, actual hawks in the wild were probably less inclined to do such.

" Well, Harper, I think 'tis gonna need a bit more fuel. "

Her guest didn't give her name in reply, though Harper let her still keep such close if she wished, and yet did offer comment upon the fire. "Oh...", Harper felt somehow she should have realized this, and felt a bit caught out, though the woman no doubt meant now that they were going to add the deer, and it was in no way a critique of her fire earlier.

Still, she should have realized perhaps. She glanced about for suitable sticks, though such was not needed and the comment might have been its own offer, as a horse appeared at the woman's whistle, laden with both saddle bags and firewood. Harper glanced to, and over, the creature curiously with a small smile as the woman carried some of the wood to the fire and introductions were finally given, of both.

" That's Brego. And I'm Eden. "

Harper glanced over to her guest and then back to her horse. "Pleased to meet you both!. While Eden set up the wood, Harper decided to try to introduce herself further, if she could. She slowly approached and held out a hand. Animals, especially horses, were smart, and there might be something in her Hawk nature the creature would feel, though currently a Man again she hoped she gave off nothing but what she was, a curious young girl, if not as young as supposed. As she was able to pet the muzzle of Brego, she felt maybe he was conducive to making friends.

"So", still petting Brego, Harper turned back to Eden, "Have you two traveled for long?". Were they professional, all the time travelers (like her) or on a trek?

(#DCDCDC)

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