Familiar Faces

Title: Familiar Faces
Time Period: July 10, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Liverpool's treasure comes back, not without minor loss and not without a fright.

It was a mage that alerted them first. Miles out to sea, a lame ship floundering its way to Dornie, the sails made of women's clothing. Luna had run out of the castle, dress held up by the fistful as she sprinted toward the docks. Not an easy feat in heels. Duncan and Constance had a much easier time of it on horseback, the latter being allowed to accompany through the combined pleading of too many women for Duncan to wish to bother arguing with. His mistress included.

By the time the trio makes it to the dock, half the town is out to stare at the marvel of a ship. A piece of work that should, by all rights, have never made it home. But it did. Through the perseverance of a forgotten crew, militia women, and a little less than a dozen children. When the ropes are tied off on the pilings and the plank lowered, Murdina is the first to step off, ahead of the captain. From the glares the soldiers and sailors are passing one another, there must be some sort of story behind it.

She stops short in front of Duncan and salutes before a younger and slighter framed woman comes up from behind and does the same. "Commander," the second woman addresses him, "We've lost a few of the children."

Idris waits patiently at the edge of the crowd, watching the crowd itself, rather than trying to see beyond it - it's not like he could, at his height.

His familiar, however, in the form of a sea eagle, alights on the edge of the ship, close enough to watch and hear Duncan and Murdina. Seeing Duncan, it shifts into the form of a raven, and tilts it's head a bit to one side, watching him more closely for a moment before returning it's attention to the scene before it.

Curiosity killed the cat. Or, familiar. Jorn has enough distance on the crowd to see the eagle alight on the bedraggled boat, and segue to something else. It distracts him from the fact that the boat, is, in fact, here. Finally. He has a poor feeling in the ball of his stomach, however, and judging by the look of them it is probably well-placed worry. The northman growls his way up to the crowd and starts his way into it. Thankfully, people find it easy to notice him- and if he wants something like to get past- shifting into one another to give a decent berth.

Jorn hails to Duncan, and the women, by extension, getting to the front of the crowd by the time the women in charge of it are coming down the gangplank.

Someone in trouble is not staying in the castle. There's no way Constance won't be here. As soon as she'd gotten word, there was indeed begging and pleading and Luna to help her until the prostitute ran off. The rest of the confrontation was put to the side to wait for either a later time or day. With her father on horse, she'd decided to run and scurried down to the docks as fast as her legs would carry her. She hurries to the crowd, pushing her way through it (she's too busy to care if it's rude) so she can be at the front.

Coming to a stop somewhat near Duncan, she notes some words very carefully. They're talking about the children. Her brow furrows and she looks back towards the ship expectantly.

"How, exactly, did you lose them?" She's not trying to imply that they weren't treated as well as they should have been… but she's implying that they might not have treated them as well as they should have been.

The younger of the brothers Rowntree does not dismount to take Murdina's report. From his elevated position of equestrian authority his furrowed brow looks all the more thunderous. This is a conveniently wide-ranging expression, one that can be read charitably to convey remorse at this archetypally bad news. In truth he's actually more confused. Children? If Luna or Constance mentioned this portion of the manifest, it must have slipped his attention, along with a number of the more fanciful - and troubling - details of the journey. He was just glad to have the home.

And now he has nearly a dozen grimy children on his hands. As if his own progeny were not enough.

"I wonder more at how you found them."

Wartooth receives a hail in return - a man of capacity, that one. A shame he isn't an officer of Duncan's, but he can accept that some of the best must go to the Ross clan - their dignity mirrors that of his own family. The raven goes unnoticed by all appearances and, to be fair, the militiaman is has matters besides birdwatching to deal with. Let him go about that way. You'll make him paranoid otherwise.

His attention returns to the matter at hand. "I suppose they can be of use in my noble father's factory," he says, more out of convenience than conviction.

Disease is a constant companion of Dornie's people; if it isn't influenza, then it's dysentery, and if it isn't dysentery, then it's measles or some other unfortunate malady. Today, it's a case of childbed fever caused by the retention of a first-time mother's placenta - something that could have been easily avoided if the patient didn't live in the rookery and was able to afford the services of a midwife. The case, like all preventable complications, has left Aislinn in a troubled mood and she welcomes the distraction of a spectacle when she crosses it on her way back to the Apothecary.

She does not have the benefit of height or a horse to elevate it, though she can plainly see the ship's sails from her place toward the rear of the crowd.

Shall I go take a closer look? her familiar offers, draped around her shoulders in the form of a smoky gray cat.

Ten children debark the boat, unlike slaves of the past, these are not tethered together at the wrist and neck. They run free. Run. Though they're quite silent, the first sight of Constance has the majority of them racing down the plank toward her. One of them, a small boy approximately the same age of Duncan's nephew and Hush's youngest, is pushed off the side in accident and splashes into the water. "Not another one…" the weary soldier groans, she doesn't move but the sailors are quick to shout alarms and quicker into action to fish the struggling child from the water. "It's how we lost the other three, sir," she explains in a tone as impassive as Duncan's suggestion of what to do.

"Jorn look!" Luna cries, back turned to the spectacle as she runs toward Duncan and Constance. "It came! I knew it would come!" She's nearly trampled as the ragtag group of worshipers that the teen girl has gathered beats her to them both. She's blocked by the swarm of them, her hands in the air and grimace on her face as she attempts to pick her way around them. She might even beg to be lifted onto Duncan's horse to avoid the dirty face and snotty noses near her person. Her more valuable person, as of a half an hour ago.

A glance backward sees the sailors struggling along the side of the dock. One of them has gone in afer the boy but neither has come up.'

He's able to hear enough, really, before being able to gauge the conversation. Jorn's presence would otherwise be noted, rather than considered, but he was on this particular trip to boot.

"Truth be told, sir, they would likely be more use on the farmlands…" The northman does not know this for certain, but airing an opinion for Jorn, has become a matter of at least sounding as if he is certain. It may be enough, depending on circumstance. And right now, circumstance is a pile of rugrats scrambling onto land and buzzing around Constance like bees. He isn't surprised that some were lost, but he thought it would be illness, not something so easily prevented. Ire is, unfortunately, aimed briefly at the female sailor speaking with Duncan. Jorn lets out a small snarl, moving away from the crowd and jogging towards the side of the dock, where the soldiers pain themselves in trying to get their fellow back.

He says nothing, stopping a short length away from them; Jorn turns a heel and descends feet-first into the water, hand and one knee dragging against the dock itself so that he doesn't simply flop his way in. By the time the skinwalker is underwater, they can see the breadth of white fur down in the murk.

The raven looks down into the water, and begins to transform into something larger, tusky, but seeing that Jorn-as-a-polar-bear is already in the water, beats it's wings and transforms back into sea eagle form just before hitting the water, climbing higher while keeping it's gaze on the water below.

Idris begins to rush towards the water, shoving someone to the ground in his rush, but then slows down, as his familiar doesn't jump in. He pushes his way to the front, completely ignoring decorum, but avoiding hurting people, at least.

Hush spills from Aislinn's shoulders and lands in a graceful heap at her feet at her behest. His feline shape makes it easy for him to weave between legs, worming his way to the front of the crowd with his tail flagged up behind him to avoid getting caught under someone's shoe. When he reemerges at the front, a vertical leap carries him up onto a wooden post around the same time Idris gets there.

I would stay where you are, lady, he advises Aislinn from afar. Our friend the Bear has things well in hand.

Duncan levels a look at the space the bear-man left behind. He is less bothered by the swarm of children than his mistress and shakes his head slightly toward her to keep her from approach. "Constance, round them up," it's a command that he would have given one of his own men but the ruddy things seem to beg for his daughter's attention instead. They can have it, but only until they're locked up. Then she's back at the castle. "We'll take them to the factory until we find more suitable places for them." He'll consider the suggestion at least, though owning a decent amount of small fingers would make the machines at his father's business run a bit more smoothly.

Constance casts a glare at the female soldier, she'd trusted these women with the care of her followers. She's supposed to be a hero, not lead them to their deaths! Afraid that if she goes in after the boy that the rest might tag along with her into the water and then drown. She accepts the order from her father and begins to usher the children after him, keeping them in a small group. "What about the one in the water?" A glance backward to where the white fur disappeared to is cut short when the sharp answer from the front comes.

"He'll follow or perish." Duncan doesn't seem too concerned.

For that matter, neither is Luna. When Duncan departs with his procession, she turns back toward the boat. Fists meet hips as she lets out an irritated huff, "Murdina, take the other women and offload the cargo, will you? I'm sure Wartooth has the child and the sailor."

The soldier turns slightly, about to argue but decides to follow the direction instead. "Right away, ma'am."'

There is a downward churn in the shadowy water alongside the boat. Bubbles, shafts of water pushed skyward by paws bigger than plates. When the white comes stretching back up, the bear's broad skull and thick neck bobs up from the surface with only one body, not two. There is a reddish tint above his brow, coloring the fur pink between his eyes. Whether he grabbed just the first he could get to, or if something may have prevented whole rescue, Jorn hauls the soldier up by the scruff of his sodden coat, the fabric squeaking hard between his teeth. The man has a ratty sailor's coat still clutched in his hand- the boy was wearing it when he fell in. A leather thing, likely actually belonging to one of the women on his boat.

Jorn treads water for a breath, puffing it wetly from his lips and nose, hot through his teeth. Another bob, and he hoists the man up far enough so that his fellows may grab him up.

Idris simply stands there and watches, tilting his head a bit to one side as he sees the two of them surfacing without the child. Interesting. His eyes alight on the sign of blood - also interesting, but no need for any action from him. He hasn't even met the down's doctor yet, and he doesn't see the town's veterinarian around.

The sea-eagle climbs higher into the sky, in case there's something going on down there, and continues to survey the waters.

The blood, stark against the white of Jorn's fur, gives the feline on the post pause. No sign of the boy, yet, but he doesn't require Aislinn's urging to do what needs to be done. He hops from the post, bounces off the dock and into the water, submerging in the shape of a sleek otter with long whiskers and black eyes that shine. His hind legs propel him toward the bottom, tail steering him through the gloom like a rudder.

Aislinn, meanwhile, attempts to find the path of least resistance to the front of the crowd.

From the sea-eagle's vantage he can see a dark shape under the water, much too irregular to be the shadow of the ship. Quite a ways away, the boy bobs to the surface, coughing and screaming before a dappled pink and salmon tentacle rises and wraps itself around his neck. Another shrill scream, loud enough for all those on shore and in the water to be alerted to the child's presence is cut off by a burble and a string of bubbles.

Under the water, Hush finds something completely different. A large eye staring at him before another tentacle makes the attempt to catch him. You again… A feminine voice so hauntingly familiar to the familiar, one that's had him in her clutches before. In a different form.

Luna is bored, until she hears the scream and the crowd rushes to the edge of the doc around her. Soon enough, she's pushed to the back of the crowd, gripping her injured shoulder and trying not to cry out for fear she might be accused of trying to divert attention to herself. "What's going on?" She asks Aislinn as the woman passes by her. She tries to help, by using her good shoulder to help separate the people, "Stand aside! The healer's coming through!!"

Something long and thin swipes by Jorn's bear foot, not wrapping around him but feeling. Like an elephant's trunk, it taps and jabs around the body of the polar bear, measuring for girth and strength. Traa-dy-Liooar recognizes the bearman, he's the only of his kind in Dornie, but as of right now, she feels no need to split her attention three ways. Hush might prove distraction enough… besides, they might not understand her motives.

One giant paw is hooked on the edge of the dock, and the others safely pry the soldier up from the water. Jorn's head swivels at the burble and shrill screaming, chest vibrating with a growl. The bear lets go of the dock and drops back into the water. He suspends there, turning his head to and fro, to find either something pink, or something to aim his riling anger at. They seem a mutual construct. And poking is a private matter.

Jorn's growl can be heard in the water, but he does not yet dare to dive until he can see something more than a shadow below.

Seeing this child in danger, in need of immediate rescuing from a fearsome beast… the sea eagle swoops up higher into the air, to make sure it's out of range, before heading back towards the shore.

Idris turns to face the crowd, and leaps up onto a post, to speak in a loud, commanding voice.

"Sea monster's got the child, a ways out. You humans would be wise to cut your losses and retreat until your leaders can form a coherent strategy to deal with the problem, lest more be pulled into the deep! Run back to your houses, if you value your tiny lives!" He points back towards the village dramatically, and then his lip trembles a little as he tries to suppress emotion.

The emotion, of course, is amusement, and as he hops back down from the post to make his way from the dock, he's smiling.

Hush scissors away from Traa-dy-Liooar's groping limb. He might not have picked the right form to do battle with a giant squid, or octopus, or whatever shape the other familiar has settled in, but he has speed and agility on his side - which is a good thing, because he recognizes the sound of her voice and it chills his blood.

By the time Aislinn finally reaches the water with Luna's assistance, it's to hear Idris making his proclamation from the top of the post, and she's glancing around to see if any of the other townsfolk are taking heed. Regardless, she strips from her coat and sheds her boots. Her bare feet patter down the dock as she takes it at a run, pulling the outer layer of her dress over her head and discarding it into the wind at her back.

She hits the end of the pier and plunges into the water.

Below the surface, Hush launches himself at the fleshy globe that is Traa-dy-Liooar's eye.

As Hush hits his target, the water around him and Aislinn goes black with billowing clouds of ink. The sunlight suddenly disappears for Jorn when a tentacle wraps itself around his leg and yanks him under, pulling him through the water at a fast pace. Resistance is futile, it's a curse that mechanical creatures put upon those with flesh before the world ended. To this end Jorn is whisked into the open water of the lock, where inky clouds are gone. To his left a small boy is bobbing up and down in the water, struggling for air. To his right, the shore seems too far a distance, at least for a man to swim, let alone a boy.

With those two distractions out of the way, Traa-dy-Liooar propels herself back to find her new prey. A woman she's longed to see the end of for more than half a decade.

"Aislinn!" Luna's shriek as the woman hits the water is piercing at the very best. When she can't see the woman for the darkness in the water, she panics and grabs Idris by the sleeve. "You have to help her! Get in there! You have to save her, there's a monster in there!!" He's her mother's servant… it does work that he's hers by proxy, doesn't it?

When it is all said and done, Jorn is not terribly certain what has occurred; he felt the thing grab him, and by the time the ink washes away, and the water is clearer, he is breaking the surface again, snapping teeth at air. The black glop seems to have already washed from his fur, though there is still a red smear between his eyes. Sniffing water from his nose, the bear bobs and turns, dropping into an expert dive before darting forward and underneath of the struggling boy.

There is enough shoulders and back for almost all of those gangly children, so the single little boy won't have trouble staying on as Jorn starts a steady, streamlined paddle for the nearest bit of harbour. Dock, shoreline, whatever he can get. Jorn isn't picky at this point.

Idris wraps his arm around Luna, and begins to try to guide/drag her towards the shore as best he can. "Milady, please contain yourself. You should go home to where it's safe." He laughs. "Now, if I had my bow, I could at least shoot it if it peeked above water, but I'm afraid that's not a possibility right now. I'm not about to risk my life for a foolish human who jumped into the water." The sea eagle swoops down from the sky towards him, and lands on his shoulder, facing backwards on his shoulder to keep an eye on things as he walks.

Hush breaches the surface, an oil slick with eyes, and sneezes squid ink out of his nostrils. He coughs up a hoarse warning squeak at Aislinn from where he's bobbing, for what little good that will do.

The physician is halfway out to the boy before she sees Jorn appear - she even thinks she can make out tiny hands clutching at his thick neck - and only once she's certain that the pair will find their way to shore does she turn back toward the pier. Someone is shouting something about a sea monster that isn't actually a sea monster at all, not that she can communicate this to anyone except Hush.

And he already knows. A flick of his tail sends him back under the water, but it's a fin that slaps against the water's surface rather than fur. It's a race to get to Aislinn before Traa-dy-Liooar does, and porpoises are much faster than otters.

Two fins.

One porpoise, one porbeagle.

Now as one of the fastest swimmers in the ocean, Traa-dy-Liooar's tailfin whips back and forth as she navigates through the cloud. She can feel the electric pulse of Aislinn's heart beating faster, leading the shark toward her. There's blood in the water, blood that makes her hungry. Ravenous. In a frenzy, she swims around in a circle, hitting the pier before gnashing angrily at one of the piles.

Aislinn is in luck, because Hush doesn't have the unfortunate distraction of his own blood.

Idris' plan works for the first few paces, until her foot hits the roadway then Luna blinks into the present. Wrenching away from him, she wags a finger at the water. "No! You have to save her! I can't go home without her, Mister Edmund already hates me. If she dies because my ship came in, he'll never forgive me!" She begins to run back, dropping stray pieces on her way to the edge of the pier.

Jorn has already kicked up one sort of trap hovering in the water, and it cracks apart and floats in bits behind him as he paddles harder forward.

The kid clings to him still, and so he takes that as license to paddle harder, broad strokes parting the water around him like a small boat. The bear nears the shore at a more rapid pace now, and it is quite possible that he's gotten into some manner of tunneled determination to get there before something lurks up again. He can worry about monsters after he has his bearings.

Idris blinks at Luna's words, then laughs, watching her break away. "I don't see how that's my problem, milady. And you are a fool if you value someone's affection over your life." He doesn't really care if she's listening to him, though, and gives a slight shrug of his shoulders. It'll be troublesome if she dies, but it's not worth risking his life over - after all, she's only human. But watching, as entertaining as it may be, might cause someone who it'll be more troublesome to disobey to show up. He walks away from the docks, and further into town, wondering what to do with the rest of the day. Maybe he'll get something to eat.

Hold your breath, lady, Hush suggests as he comes up alongside Aislinn, who has already filled her lungs with air in anticipation of what comes next. She wraps her arms around his middle, squeezes her eyes shut - and they're gone.

The dock won't hold Traa-dy-Liooar's attention forever, and rather than risk following Jorn to the shore, Hush opts to dive deep, shepherding Aislinn into a crevasse where neither squid nor shark can reach.

It doesn't take long for the polar bear to reach the shore just on the other side of the ship. Safely away from where the monster was last sighted and well away from the commotion on the pier, once again the locals are screaming about something. Another monster probably? One man has already deduced that the quick disappearance of the kraken must have been some sort of trick. Nothing that big could possibly disappear. To prove his point, he jumps into the water and treads for a moment or two before being lurched down. He bobs up into view again, face down and in another cloud… this time of blood.

This stops Luna dead in her tracks. Yes, Aislinn is important to her but Idris might be right on this point. Could she possibly be worth more than her own life? A man has already been cut off at the knee right in front of her eyes. "Oh dear… oh dear… oh dear… Aislinn, please be alright.."

Inside the crevasse, Hush can hear the angry screams of the other familiar. He's won this time but she'll be back, like a movie villain. Threats and insults fade away as Traa-dy-Liooar swims farther out, her hunger not satiated for the time. Robbed of a juicy little boy, a fat sailor, and the prize of Aislinn Rowntree.