"Honey?" Ithunn says, looking from the deck and apparently speaking her thoughts outloud. "Do we have honey on board? Not mead...no alcohol--I don't think that would be a good thing. But something sweet--honey, nectar--to give as a gift, pay for our passing and perhaps speak for us if we cannot understand each other. She frowns, then closes her eyes, as if thrying hard to hear or feel something.
Back on the ship, Amy's not got so good a view as those on the Skiff, so she's not seeing what they all are. She finds a spot on the ship where she can watch the ship, about ready to leap airborne if it looks like they need help.
Ruby leans, stretching out her body and using a leg to counter-balance to avoid capsizing the skiff she shares with Maggie and Gygr. Her hand quests to grab onto a stalk or vine to pull the craft in closer. Mouth open and tongue pushing out one cheek. "Roight, embrace...Nnngh..Nature."
From the wavy waters in between the ship and the shore boat, Merri bobs to the surface with a quick toss of his head, slicking his hair out of his eyes so he can take stock of all the new positions since he'd last been topside. He starts to cast towards the boat carrying Maggie, Ruby, and Gygr, but upon considering that his wife already knows most of what he knows, makes for the Fair Wind instead. Reaching for one of the secure lines still dangling across the hull, he starts his climb back to the rail. "Has Maggie filled you in on the goings-on at the roots yet?" he calls as he goes.
Amy pauses, as she spies Merrisol, and she shakes her head. "No, not yet," she replies. "But I found there's a square of this thing here, but other than that it seems to go on forever in either direction, and there's a huge white blossom in the center, but it's closed. Seriously huge, I think - maybe as big as I am. In dragon form."
Ruby is just about get her paw on a likely looking bit of vegetation when there's a very fast movement from beneath a leaf. A small thin spear jabs out from cover and Ahab's the wrist of the encroaching monster. Ruby flinches back with a cry.
"Oh..." I thunn opens her eyes. "The plant," she says. "Stay away from it! And...." SHe doesn't finish, as Ruby's cry seems to prove her point.
Ailith coughs quietly. Recent to this whole adventure, she's been taking what she hopes is the wiser course and listening before she speaks. "If there is speaking to be done, I may perhaps be of some service there," she offers. "But what is being offered, and what requested?" She pauses. "What kind of flower? Do you know?"
Siobhan is, likewise, a new addition to this adventure. She is on the ship, somewhat freshly arrived. The arrival of the dragon causes a slight paling of the skin, but nothing further. Her expression doesn't even change. She makes her way over to where Ailith is, and nods. "I would like to know as well," she says. Her accent is faintly tinted by prussian.
Merrisol grabs the rail and hauls himself halfway up, only to brace his crossed forearms over the edge and remain more or less drip-drying on the outside of the ship while he listens to Amy's disoveries. With a heave, he raises up on his elbows as though that extra bit of altitude will afford him a glimpse of this huge flowerbud. "Sounds like the place to be," he muses, glancing now around the deck as others speak up. A startled smile to see Ailith among them, followed by a more pointed nod of greeting to encompass the others with whom he is less familiar, if at all. "I don't think we're beyond the 'first contact' stage of relations, yet. They probably see us as yet another threat to their turf. The denizens are active on the seabed as well, defending their territory there from rather bloody-minded sea life. Some of the plants are dead or dying.. though it seems inconsequential given the overall robust health of the root system."
"The plant is dangerous," Ithunn says, shaking her head and turning to call to Merrisol. "The less we disturb it or come near it, the better we are."
Ruby rocks the skiff as she pulls her limb back to examine the effects of something that wasn't an olive branch. The big baby peers really close at it and frowns. With Maggie and Gygr nearby, she has to get a stiff upper lip going and leans over the railing again, and this time extends her other hand. A stuttering glow builds from her palm as an eclipse in ink starts to slide through phase of the moon. The light builds and she plays it into the area she was trying to grab. There's a skittering of movement to stay out of the beam of illumination. There! And there! "Bloody Bog it's /in-fested!/. Quick wee things!" She brays back over towards the ship.
Amy listens, and frowns. "Really? That's - okay then." She pauses, frowning a bit, as she looks over to Ailith. "I am not really big on plants, but it kind of looks like a water lily to me." The entire plant system here is a huge water lily or set of them. "It seems all connected with this big wall of plant." She shrugs though, since that means not so much to her. At Ruby's cry, she looks that way, about ready to leap off the ship and go after her. "maybe we should get a second skiff ready? In case of - anything?" The captain takes that as an order and starts getting the second skiff ready.
Ailith studies the little people thoughtfully. "This is not a place for my magic," she muses. "Not unless battle is inevitable. Else, I suspect it might *start* one. But if you would speak with them, what would you wish to say? They seem to be leaving us in peace."
Merrisol leans the frame of his arms and shoulders to one side, looking inquisitively at Ithunn, while Amy speaks with Ailith. "Do you mean the whole wall is dangerous, or were you saying we should stay away from the flower Amy spotted, Lady Ithunn? Not that I prescribe personally to the idea that all dangerous things are better off avoided," he adds, a quirk to his smile.
Siobhan is quiet for a few moments. "I might be able to talk to them," she says. "My powers lie more with fixing things than battle. I do not do plants either, but if there are symbols or an obscure language, written or spoken.."
"Not sure," Ithunn replies to Merrisol. "The danger...it's near the plants. Thought it was the plants themselves, but it might not be the case. Not very helpful, I'm afraid--only to be on your guard, for certain. Is Ruby all right?"
The skiff ready, Amy looks over to Ailith and Siobhan. "I guess it sounds like maybe you two should go in the second skiff? And see if you can talk to them?" she suggests. "And I'll stay here to make sure the boat ... doesn't accidentally float off." Though the last is said teasingly, for the most part. Owing Uncle Gerard a favour as the Fair Wind's captain does, it's not going anywhere. Or Maybe the crew and captain are by now just curious to see what's going on? Hard to say. "Merrisol, you could go with them, I suppose. What did you say is going on at the bottom?" She pauses, breathes, and then adds, "As to what to say to them - I dunno, maybe ask them if there's a way through?"
Ailith looks toward Siobhan. "I must ask. Can you send whispers, yet?"
Siobhan nods to Amy, lips quirking up into a smile. "The boat not floating off may be a good idea," she says. She glances to Ailith and nods. "Yes I can."
Ailith notes, "Then perhaps one of us on each vessel? Whispers and translators; between us we might keep all in communication."
Siobhan studies Ailith for a moment, brow furrowing a little bit. "You are familiar," she says. "But yes, that sounds good. Do you wish to stay behind, or go on the boats?"
Gygr stands by Ruby, watching the entire proceedings with interest, but not yest making any suggestions or comments. She has found no reason to add anything to the proceedings.
Merrisol nods agreeably to Ithunn as she clarifies her point, then looks over his shoulder at the forgemistress's attempts to track the little people via spotlight. "Ruby's... fine," he confirms, in a tone that implies that Ruby is also not fine, but that the point is neither here nor there, because she's freaking Ruby. And the little folk are going to be smears on leaves, sooner or later.
Turning back to view Amethyst, he thinks on her question, then reiterates, "There's a determined effort by the local bottom-feeders to hack down this wall, however they can't have been at it for very long since there's relatively few dead or dying plants that I can tell. This civilization of... uh.." Lily-putians! Lily-putians! "..tiny lily dwellers.. appear to be rather entrenched, on the other hand. They have established ways of anchoring persistent bubbles of air underwater to survive while they do battle against crabs and butcher the carcasses."
He glances at the prepared skiff while he lays out the details, then looks questioningly between Siobhan and Ailith to see who is going where.
Ruby twists and pulls herself back mostly within the skiff. One last play of light to spot amphibious eyes and whatnot. "Can't trust things tha be wee. Too easy tah 'ide." Ruby tries to transmit a knowing nod to Gygr. "Wee...be...deadlah." She shifts in her seat to speak more to the Fir Bolg ambassador. "Too bad we don't 'ave snakes or something fast. Course, not willin tah wait tha long. An then we 'ave big snakes aftah..." She peers back towards the ship and muses. "You think we could ram through?"
"So we've stumbled upon a war, then?" Ithunn asks. "Lilly-pad dwellers protecting the plants versus under sea creatures eating away at it? And dnagerous on all sides. Perhaps I should try to call for a herbicide, in that case? Get rid of the plants altogetehr?"
Amy looks to see what Sio and Ailith are deciding to do, glancing over at the skiffs. Then she pauses, giving Ithunn a grin. "You might also want to go on the skiff," she suggests, thoughtfully. "Maybe you can help suss out what is going on from up closer?"
Ailith says, "I will remain, if you do not object," she says. "My kinswoman on the skiff, and I here, will let all remain in quick contact with all others. And thus both vessels will have a translator, as well, should there be need."
"Of course," Ithunn says, hurrying to get into the skiff--and making sure her sword is loose in its scabbard.
Stay, or go. Go or stay. That is the question, is it not? Siobhan inclines her head to Ailith. "I do not object," she says. She walks over to the skiff, offers a polite nod to Merrisol, and steps into it. She appears unarmed, though she carries an umbrella, and is dressed sensibly in attire suited to an expedition through jungles and temples.
The skittering in the plant increases, it seeming almost as though the plants are moving with as much coming and going and chattering the little folk are doing.
Merri nods to the communications strategy hatched by Ailith, and then to Siobhan. "I'm already wet, so I'll keep to the water for now. See you down there!" He carefully straightens his arms until he's angled outwards from the rail, then pushes loose to drop back into the sea with a short-lived crash of sound. Once the skiff is lowered with her passengers, he is there to accompany them to the towering plant wall. "The prevailing theory," he by-the-ways, "is that this is a grand old shadowblock on the way to Kitezh, maker as yet unknown."
He glances over at the first shore boat, to check on who's will is winning out regarding the fate of the lily-folk there: Ruby's microphobia or Maggie's marshmallow heart. "So they've noticed you, yes? Are they... massing for battle?" he calls over.
Gygr smiles to Ruby's comment, "Everyone's Wee to you Ruby." SHe puts a hand on the larger shoulder, "Do not worry about this. there are many who know these matters, just wait and see. We're here to provide muscle if need be."
Amy stays at the side of the Fair Wind, hands on the rail, ready to leap, but so far managing to refrain. Meanwhile, there's a second skiff being lowered to head to towards the plant, with a Rebman guide in the water alongside. Amy nods to Merrisol, before he drops to the water, and then she smiles at Ailith. "The prevailing theory yes. This sort of feels like a shadow block does. But it's very old."
The little Nixies for want of a better term (Thank you, Ailith!) are scurrying like crazy, and those near enough might be able to hear sounds of confusion by now. There is definitely communication happening and it's entirely possible to hear them, though perhaps not everyone can understand them.
Ailith nods. "Given our elders' preference for brute force when pressed for time, as a block this seems...weak." If one's defining 'weak' as 'a shadow army looks like it could march right over this'. "But it would weaken, over time, if not maintained." But the little people are speaking! And her attention turns at once to catch every word she can.
Ruby squints and clenches her light-bearing hand into a fist. The light tries to escape past her fingers and then erratically splutters out of existance, as if smothered. She murmers to Gygr, "As you say, Truth."
Siobhan nods to Merrisol. "You have a point," she says, lips quirking up, eyes sparkling. The smile fades as the man fills her in on what's going on. "Ahhh. So, we have to figure out how to overcome it." Statement, not question. She nods, one hand lifting up to tap her chin in thought. "Hmm. Well, hopefully I can talk to them and smooth the way at least a little bit." She turns to look toward the little people, listening to what they're saying.
Ithunn is quiet, watching the Nixies. "What are they saying?" she asks. "Can anyone understand them--And might we try to calm them now, before we approach any closer and agitate them even more?"
Ruby turns to regard Merrisol and her faces screws up into annoyance. She brays back over the waters like a grumpy cockatoo. Squawwww. "They bloody /did/. There more in there than I thought! Can't be too smart though! They /small/!"
Who knows what Wulf's been doing? Possibly not even Wulf. He emerges from below decks, to once more contemplate the wall of waterlilly and its lily pad nixies, but no wiser than he'd been the last time he'd taken a gawp at it.
Ailith frowns. "...home. Protect. That's all I can make out. I will ask if Siobhan can hear more clearly." Her lips move, then, but none near her would hear a thing.
Merri keeps pace with the boat carrying Siobhan and Ithunn, just his head and shoulders above the waves for the most part. He nods aside to their remarks and questions, putting a steadying hand to the side of their skiff and intending to hush so she can do some close listening to the pipsqueaks. With Ruby yowling at them, however, he has to turn her way a moment. "Kindly pipe down, we're trying to establish a peaceful inter-ACK." He jerks in the water abruptly, and then treads backwards in careful haste. "What..!" Peeeers through the ripples. "Lir's Gears.. they're swarming me..! Ow. Damn it."
A contingent of cosmonautic Nixies on frogback, complete with airbubble helmets, are menacing him with spears under the waves. The leader may or may not be making tiny demands.
Merri dunks his head after a frustrated moment, and says something burbly in reply.
Siobhan is listening very intently, or appears to be doing so. She frowns at the grumpy cockatoo squaaaawwwwwwwing, and holds up a hand. "Quiet, please," she says, her tone calm and the words while soft, carry easily to everyone near the plant wall. "I can hear them.. They are confused." She pauses, a small frown furrowing her borws. "They don't know what is going on. They want to protect their home." She shifts to peer down into the boat, and speaks, but it's not in Thari, whatever it was she'd said.
Siobhan says, "Please don't attack my friends. Will you speak with me? *very calm and reasonable, even humble*"
From afar, Merrisol tells 'em, "Quit poking, little fffu-... friends." Yes. Friends. "We want to *talk*." If they don't seem to understand or want to continue poking, he appeals to the frogs instead, empathically.
All of a sudden, the sounds seem to change, still confused but now some wonder and awe in their voices. Chatter, chatter, and there's a cautious wariness to the voices, for those who can hear them, and understand. They do not seem to understand a word of Thari. For those who are empathic with animals, the frogs are all "oh wow oh wow, that's big!" about Merri, and also, somewhat skittish. So far the riders haven't been tossed off or anything, but their mounts are really not sure they want to face off against the Rebman. The leader of the cosmonaut brigade stares with big eyes at Merri, and then his brow furrows. He jabbers briefly, and then gestures to Merrisol - up! Spear pointing the way he wants the Rebman to go. Or she - hard to tell.
Amy listens to the information relayed and stays where she is on the boat. Though somewhat anxiously, she keeps a watch on things, occasionally rubbing her belly. "It - an army could go right through, it certainly seems like it, yes. I think we probably could - but we wanted to know first what is going on. I mean, if it's their home, I don't want to destroy it if there's any other option." Maybe it's because she's pregnant? Softhearted anyway.
Ailith nods. "And we are *not* an army," she agrees quietly. "It seems we have surprised them, being willing to parley."
Sio can hear them all awed and wondering about - She speaks! Our language! Just as it was foretold!" Followed by "No no, this is not the end of the world!" "How do you know?" "It can't be! Home is not dying!" And also, she can hear the ones near Merrisol saying, "Up, up up, and get in dead-plant thing."
Wulf peers up and up at the wall, down at the water as he leans over the side of the vessel, snooping no doubt on the strangeness of this business, then heading toward where Ailith and Amy are, scratching at the back of his neck with one large hand. "Wulf has been thinking about wall," he gestures at it, up, down, side to side, all over the place with a twirl of wrist. "Keeps coming up on ice. When young, being ice-breaker plough at prow of ship - must move slow, must persuade ice out of way. But this is not ice, is revenge of pondweed."
Siobhan turns sideways in the boat, placing her hands on the edges of it to peer down into the water. The way she's sitting in the boat, it tips a little down toward the water, but not enough to be in any danger of capsizing. She speaks that langauge again, getting easier with it the more she hears and speaks. She turns to Merrisol. "They are about to invade you." Wait. What?
Siobhan pages: Wo do not want to harm your world. We just want to pass through.
Amy glances at Ailith and nods to her comment. "We are not, truthfully. Though I supposes we could get one, if we need." She chuckles softly though. "It does make one wonder what exactly has happened, doesn't it? I mean, if it is a shadow block, what do you suppose it is blocking?" As Wulf arrives, she smiles his way. "That might work - though we have encountered little people who live here, and it does seem they are willing to defend their home."
To Merrisol: they are getting a little more insistent, the one leader gesturing that you should go up. Maybe out of the water? Into the sky? Up is all he is motioning, with the spear he's got. The others are poking at your legs.
To Siobhan: There is one voice, coming from the plant area, that seems to stand out the most. And you can hear them saying, "Can't. No passing through, not since the Breaking."
The giantess Ambassador Gygr stays close to Ruby, to make sure she doesn't do anything stupid before stupid is required. She bites her tongue on Ruby's comments about small creatures being stupid, though it is clear she wishes to speak more. She considers Wulf's Suggestion, "If we could get an opening in the Wall, we could build supports above and below the waterline to hold it open."
There is one obvious change, a small person stands on a lily pad, near to the first skiff. For once, that little one doesn't duck or hide, but stands tall, and proud, a small crown on her head. She is elderly and wizened, looks to have been around for quite a while, and she seems to answer Sio's words, speaking directly after Sio does.
Ailith smiles toward Wulf. "The ways of Summer are no less effective than the ways of Winter," she says. "Ice breakers break ice. Fiery blades would break this. But this *lives*. And, perhaps, may be persuaded." She nods toward the arrival of the single nixie. "And we are now meeting their leader, I suspect. The situation must be, from their perspective, rather dire."
Merrisol glowers briefly at the pantomime, with just his hair surfing on the waters like bleached algae. Like hell he's going back up so they can perforate him on a whim. Oh.. perhaps /all/ the way up, they mean? Lifting his empty hands to show them via universal gesture he is 'mostly harmless', he kicks gently and rises enough to push his head and shoulders back into the open air. "So... any bright ideas?" he looks at Siobhan as she leans closer to the surface herself. He frowns unhappily at her answer, flinching now and then at what is most likely the aforementioned perforating activities. "Wait - ow, gods - wait.. tell them - nnn! - tell them.. we can help them with their crabs problem. In exchange for..." He whips out an arm to point at Gygr. "That. A passage. With-" He winces more sharply as one little bugger scores a direct hit. "-freaking bloody bridges! Alright alright.." He grabs the edge and waits for Siobhan to be ready before he starts pulling himself into the skiff. Show of good faith and stuff.
Siobhan turns to look at the little nixie with the crown. She speaks so those necessary can hear her again. "The queen," she might be guessing here, "Says there has been no passing through here since the Breaking." She turns in the boat, now, kneeling on the bottom still, so she can face the little elderly queen. She speaks to the queen, this time, rather than in general to the nixies. She nods to Merrisol and braces herself for when he comes into the boat. She nods to him and looks to the queen again, talks to the queen again. She sounds diffident and rather humble. But then, she's talking to a Queen, even if it's a tiny one! During the speech, she waves a hand toward Merrisol.
Siobhan pages: Can you tell me what the Breaking is? And why there is no passing through? *after Merrisol talks* We can help you with your attackers, in exchange for a passage with bridges. Dead-plant Thing shows an act of good faith.
Ailith pages: We aren't familiar with this Shadow, and thus couldn't say what in its history the Breaking would be. But shadows make ripples that affect other Shadows. It's possible the Breaking refers to Kitezh's Ragnarok. You should probably ask.
Wulf nods to Ailith once, almost absently. "Is just.. memory he highlights. Approach in same way, slow, gentle, because Ice is unkind to ships," he peers over at the skiffs, stares a little while, huh's and adds "giant pond weed is unkind to Rebmans." At Merrisol's discomfort, no doubt. He squints at the advance scouts out there and their closer-up inspection of everything, ear cocked to what he can hear clearly and twisting his nose to the side at what he cannot. "Crabs?" He repeats to Ailith and Amy, then... just gets a look on his face, one wide-eyed, distant and then highly amused, because he claps his hand over his mouth to hide the rather unmasculine giggle that threatened to escape.
Amy is totally unable to speak at this point, she's not sure if she can keep her own laughter down at what Ailith translates for them.
Once Merrisol is out of the water and into the boat, the unit of frog riders surfaces, and they actually remove their helmets, sitting there proudly, spears in hand. The queen chatters at them, and then their leader salutes her, looks to Merrisol and nods his head once, before the helmets are replaced and they vanish back under water.
The Queen moves a bit forward, though she eyes the skiff with Ruby and Gygr on it a little askance. She turns her attention back to Sio, one hand reaching to the side. A smaller Nixie promptly puts a glass in her hand and she drinks deeply, passing the glass back for a refill before she speaks again. "You ask for old stories, big one. The Breaking was before my time, before my mother's mother's mother's time. We do not know what caused it, but it brought the hungry chompchomps. They are good meat, but no brains, and they try to kill Home."
Long distance to (Siobhan, Ailith): When the queen chatters at her own folks, she speaks quickly ,but it's mostly just "good job, return to base."
Ailith relays, noting, "The queen is merciful to her people. She praised them for getting Merrisol out of the water. But at least we know now the plants and the nixies came first; the fish are what was added."
Merrisol slouches in the middle of the skiff while negotiations pass between the Chantrises and the Nixie Queen of Lilyput. His diver's pants are hole-riddled about on par with swiss cheese, although the spear wounds themselves are barely visible cuts at the center of each expanding tear, trickling less than a thimble's worth of blood before healing over. Looking over at Ithunn, since she did tell-him-so, he merely shrugs his eyebrows up in acknowledgement of her danger-sense. Nothing is spoken for now, while he listens and waits on the outcome of the talks.
Gygr tries not to look threatening at the queen's gaze. There's not much the Giantess can do about Ruby though, "If the plants came first, how did the Breaking cause them to prevent passage?"
That sort of a salute is a more or less universal gesture that needs no translation, so Siobhan doesn't. But the Queen speaking, that she translates, her voice low, but stil carrying easily. She speaks to the nixie queen again. "Do the fish prevent passage, or was passage blocked before the Breaking?" She glances at Merrisol, a look of sympthy for the now Holy Shorts.
Ruby definitely does not sugar coat her feeling of anxiety and usual unfriendliness. Lips parted and the whites of her bottom teeth visible. Her shoulders hunch forward and she watches unblinking.
Wulf holds his jaw shut. It's safer than risking the removal of his hand and a boom of laughter escaping. This is a serious business, which he is aware of on some distinct level, but the Kite just cannot get his head off of the absurdity.
The queen gets her goblet refilled and drains it again. Then she speaks, replying to Sio. "The chompchomps - they come from the Breaking. And before they came, the Way was open. If you want to pass by, you must close the Breaking." And then she vanishes back into the plants.
The chattering of all the Nixies goes quiet now, and the emotions of the frogs fades too, as though they have all retreated somewhere further away.
Ailith mmms. "Now we get to the meat," she muses. "Interesting turn of phrase- 'close the breaking'. Do we perchance have any Karm on this venture?"
Gygr says, "I am still trying to be clear, Do we know /where/ or /what/ this breaking is? I mean phyiscally.""