Within A Mile Of Home

Title: Within A Mile Of Home
Time Period: April 16, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until / Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him.

Nights are dark in Dornie. Especially when you get a bit of distance between you and the town. Especially in the woods.

Wind blows chill through the trees, whistles softly through the tall grass and it seems, for brief hints and moments, like there's a voice in that wind. Words aren't clear, and the voice is fleeting, but it's an almost motherly, musical tone riding the wind deeper into the trees.

And within the trees there's something moving, and a curious chittering in reply to the wind's song. But that doesn't sound human at all, but a creaking, groaning sound in the dark.

She stayed out too long. With spring brings Sorcha's penchant to find high places with which she can watch the ocean and incoming ships, hoping to catch sight of Patricks particular sea chariot. The urge to wait just one more minute, then another, then another had done her in and the sun had swiftly dropped beneath the horizon and left her in the dark.

Sweater wrapped tight around herself, a small woven basket with crumbs, crusts of bread and some leftovers from her dinner with mother nature swinging on her arm, she's moving swiftly as she can afford to in the dark and not make an excessive amount of noise. The sounds of her bootsteps falter though, looking behind her to the voice on teh wind, stray dark hairs whipping across her face as she purses her lips in consternation.

Curiosity did kill the cat, but she's never really been a cat person. She turns again at the sound from the tree's, the chittering, freezing further in spot, unsure of whether it's something for better or worse in the tree and whether she should contemplate running.

Or looking. Silly Sorcha.

I don't like this…

The nasally female voice in Jain's head intrudes on his own concentration as he walks. Lifting his head, he tries to see through the dark to where his familiar has disappeared to. They've been closer as of late, since his near death at the hands of someone he knows yet can't remember. What don't you like?

His horse seems calm enough, plodding along without the proud steps it displays during the day. Which means no immediate danger, the horses are usually the first ones to get a little skittish and go wild. Even at the sight of an unfamiliar glove in the middle of the road.

The trees are speaking, it's hard to explain.

Connectivity with nature is not something that Jorn communicates often- primarily it is Aislinn that knows of his ways, as many of them are also hers. As far as the great white bear is concerned, he may trawl anywhere in the woodlands and mountains as it pleases him, for the sake of connecting to a place where trivial things matter so much less. Jorn shares his borders and the land with other predators, including packs of wolves and other bears. They avoid him more often than not, especially in the spring when cubs and pups are numerous.

Humans less so. Hunters know him, of course, though that does not mean they avoid his path, becoming offended when the white bear gallops off into the trees. Perhaps it is out of man's continuing arrogance that they presume familiarity.

This land overlaps with that of a sow, and he knows of her new cubs only because she once bristled at him from afar, the little balls of brown fur rolling about her ankles. It could be something besides his presence that keeps the sow from expressing herself, and keeps her inside her den. Ears are only as good as how you use them; Jorn's are cupped at the crest of his skull, nubs of white attempting to find the height and source of the sound in the overcast April night, where he stands alone in the quiet, dark wood. Smell gives him far more than curious ears manage to, no matter how much he strains to listen more closely to the forest. The lingering scent of bread and horses, the musk of something woolen, the recurrence of things soft, pink, and vaguely familiar.

As the lonely, young wife pauses in her journey home, things settle for a moment, but it's not a calm quiet, but an uneasy one. Sorcha is alone with the sound of her breathing for a moment before what feels like brittle, bony fingers catch on her sweater.

The familiar, the horse, rider and the bear don't experience the lull in sound, but rather the opposite, as the wind picks up violently, tossing fur and clothing alike as a hint of cruel laughter passes the ears.

There is definitely something not to like in the woods tonight. But the source of the disturbance is difficult to pinpoint, as no predators— no other predators— appear to be out in the dark.

Just your imagination Sorcha. That doesn't stop her breath from catching in her throat and her heart suddenly skipping a beat from the telltale weight where there was none before. She presses her lips together even as her knuckles go white on the baskets handles, closing her eyes and trying to steel herself. Gather courage in her spine before lifting eyelids just a fraction, peek out fro between naturally dark lashes and down to where boney fingers have possibly settled. Just some of the town teenagers acting out, getting a good lark in. Right?

Right?

You could swear there's a pig on the road, not a horse, by the way Jain's mount begins to squeal. Nervous, it rears up, just small lifts at first but with each succession they raise higher and higher until the beast is in danger of tipping over. It's rider makes the valiant attempt to bring it back under control but after the last jump, he wrenches the mount's head to the side to prevent any further bucking.

Come back, we'll face this together, he yells through his mind. It doesn't take long for him to feel the familiar scrape of tiny nails to skin as the shrew digs through his shirt.

Jorn's head shakes about when the wind plays upon them, and he pins them tightly to his fur when it passes more fully. He is more wary than fearful of such sounds- the whistle of the wind and the tinkling crackle of what seems laughter putting vague fancies into his head. His nose itches, and a breath passes through it before the bear reels his head and lets out a whuffing sneeze. The next intake gives him more to scent, and in the direction of bipedal mammals he goes.

There is no telling who it is, or what else is nearby, but the bear picks his way onward nonetheless.

It's not the town kids that Sorcha sees when she steels herself enough for a peek, but a great tree branch which seems to have grown out across her path, smaller twigs holding firm on her sweater.

Funny. It wasn't growing that way a second ago when she passed it.

But there's no time to ponder the oddities magic has put into the world, as a crack rings out over the woods as a higher branch breaks suddenly off the trunk of the tree, diving toward the seamstress. The force of it knocks her over and the weight of it pins a leg to the forest floor, the bone inside cracking as well. But worse, when the woman find herself stuck, other trees in her line of vision start to twist, and bark and branch reach for her, as if each one were wanting a piece.

It causes a ruckus through the woods, the odd creaking having a much more obvious source.

A scream - decidedly feminine in nature - Is also heard, one of pain and laced with fright. The basket having been dropped, crushed under the heavy branch that pins her as well. Slender fingers so adept at pushing needles through fabric spasm at the pain that rockets through her right thigh. She's never been fond of magic, much less of magic used for ill. This, is magic.

The second scream that comes from her - in the vain hope that there is someone out there who can hear her - is one of fear, as she see's the tree's twist, the branches near her reaching for her. Causes the brunette to attempt to shove the heavy branch off her leg despite the fresh wave of pain overriding the current wave. Try to get it off in her panic to be free of the foulness that's happening around her.

The scream of the woman mingles with the scream of Jain's horse. There's a woman out there, Traa-dy-Liooar informs him in a rather nonchalant manner. He heard the voice as well but he didn't care to comment about it to the shrew. They have their own problems. We could see what it's all about… maybe there's a thank you in it for you. If you rescue her.

If.. Jain replies, his eyes seeking the treeline and then spying down the road. If would be the thing, then, wouldn't it? I'd rather get home to Mairi, alive with a guarantee, than bank on a hypothetical reward from some tart that may not deliver. Arguing with a familiar about the possibility of sex with a stranger in the middle of trees acting strangely— of course it's Jain's focus.

Skin under fur crawls with something rather unkind, just before the first scream. The bear is further from its source than he might like, and the trees off of the path are uncannily packed, causing his pace to stunt. The crack of an old, dead log under his weight rings out through the wood, followed by the telltale thrashing that one would expect by something large and broad pushing its way around. The second scream presses Jorn a step faster, and in short time he is able to find a clearer route. White fur flickers in the dark, grayed out in the shadows of pines and leafy branches, and contrasted like moonlight when the night's lights strike it.

A short bellow of warning echoes out of the chambers of his chest, rumbling through the forest. What few birds were awake enough to hear and see him take noisy flight.

While Jorn breaks into a run, trumpeting out a noise that may or may not make Sorcha feel better, the forest seems to take umbrage. Branches fall, barely missing the bear as he hunts for the troubled woman, trunks fall into his path, forcing him to slow to climb over them or halt to keep from getting hit. But eventually, he can see the form of Sorcha struggling to get a broken leg out from under a sizable branch while the other trees lean unnaturally, leafy fingers grabbing onto the woman and yanking her painfully in several directions. Some snap off, leaving cuts against her face, but most of them seem to have a pretty good hold on her.

While Jain and familiar mull over what to do, they get to hear the sound of trees crashing about deeper in the woods, although none of it seems terribly close to them. Until. The path back toward Dornie is suddenly cut off as a pair of trees fall across the path, landing at odd angles and making it a space no longer horse-friendly.

It's not comforting at all, Jorn's bellow that help is on the way. If anything it makes the stuck woman attempt to get free even more, the fresh image of trolls burned into her head. Free hands grab at thing branches that are skinny enough to snap, try and use her other foot, bend at the knee to leverage against it and push the log off. Tears are streaming down her face by now, rivulets coursing a clean path through dirt and debris that's accumulating and smeared blood, voice faltering as she works to breath through panic and pain.

Shall we?

Right…

The agreement between mage and familiar sees the horse violently spurred into a gallop toward the crashes deeper in the wood. There may be a guarantee with Mairi but one more grateful woman on the roster couldn't hurt. Besides, the path to Dornie has been blocked anyway.

The claymore is unsheathed from Jain's back, gleaming silver as it swings around and to the side. Its razor sharp edge swaths an easy path around horse and man as they gallop toward the sound of a roaring beast and the falling trees. From the back of his neck, a bat takes flight, screaming with each rapid flap of leather wing.

Bears are more agile than many give credit for, and with adrenaline pumping and mouth wet it still remains difficult for him to maneuver. The trees are fighting him. One could say alive, but are they not already? Jorn finds those final few strides a breath of fresh air compared to the trunk that nearly caught his back end. Sorcha can see no troll breaking through the wood- no dragon, no fae-hound. In the dark, the white bear is as a ghost, albeit one a great deal more raucous; it makes for the thin, twining and grasping branches that tangle into Sorcha's clothes and around her joints.

That it is Mrs. Ferrier, however, seems to pass him by- Jorn snaps his teeth around one of the more firm branches tugging at her and wrenches it forcefully away.

Unforunately, Sorcha isn't able to move the branch trapping her beyond causing it to rock forward and back over her thigh, sending a fresh jolt of pain through the already sore flesh. While the appearance of a great white bear may only add to her fear, the beast helps break her free of grasping and tugging branches. Save one. It snakes around her arm up to the elbow, and only the weight of the branch on her leg keeps it from being able to drag her across the forest floor. Which is good, as the tree its attached to starts to split down the middle, trunk bowing out like knees to either side and creating a gaping hole just waiting to trap stray limbs in.

Jain, too, finds he has to cut through the smaller branches trying to block his path, and dodge the larger ones that fall to try to catch or halt him. But worse, as he has to contend with a frightened horse as he makes his way along. Traa, too, sees her share of trouble as the wind picks up again to carry the winged familiar off away from her mage on too-strong winds.

If she believed in god - Sorcha believes in very little religious wise - She'd likely be praying at the sight of a huge white bear. As it is, the world is going grey at the edges from tree inflicted pain. She gives up on her leg, acknowledging taht she's just not strong enough to make an impact beyond rocking it and stressing the leg further and works at the one that starts at her wrist, breaking nails in attempts to snap the wood, get both arms free before the impending unconciousness descends.

More than his own safety, that of Traa-dy-Liooar is forefront on Jain's mind. As it is on Traa-dy-Liooar's. The tiny familiar swirls in a gust of wind, that could be fun for a while except for all of the trees to dodge. No woman is worth this much of an effort, she tells her mage before dropping to the forest floor in a loud crash. The boar shakes its head, razor back and wisps of fur fluffing out when she settles.

Except for you, of course, Jain is always more cheerful when he's swinging a sword and this time he's absolutely joyous. He's not trying to save the woman any more, the horse is more valuable and getting just as tangled. Jumping from the saddle, he pulls another knife a smaller one to weild in his other hand. Large claymore swirls ahead and above him to deflect branches as the smaller one swishes from side to side to cut at the smaller ones.

The tree with a rudimentary mouth puts Jorn off surprisingly well enough- in that it wishes to take the woman for itself. Strangeness aside, he won't allow it. The bear sidesteps over the fallen woman to get at the branch attached to her arm. He lifts up to hook both forepaws onto it and pull it further downward, in order to put the full gravity of his weight onto it. Jorn cannot bite it apart, he is no muskrat- but the laws of physics are always neutral things that he relishes the exploit of.

Jorn's weight keeps the branch from tugging more on Sorcha, and gives her the chance to unwind it from her arm. If she can stay conscious that long. But it's a small window, as the trees around the bear and woman rustle menacingly. What branches are still attached to trunks sway about in the rush of the sudden wind. It blows unnaturally back and forth, like a child throwing a tantrum rather than the majestic grace of mother nature.

Traa hits the ground and a heavy branch follows her down, giving her scant moments to jump out of the way. Jain fights with branches, chopping and cutting where he can. When Jain jumps out of the saddle, the horse takes the opportunity to bolt, a reckless dash through the woods, but it does do something for opening a pathway. If only for a brief moment, as the branches are already looming and ready to close behind the beast. And while Jain's sword and knife do well against many of the trees' limbs, a larger one swings down to try to knock the militia man off his feet, and to the ground with his familiar.

She's conscious, still. Sorcha works with clumsy fingers to get her arm free before reaching out to the white polar bear who's clearly helping. try to grab some fur with one hand then lope another arm around him, her, it despite that everything in her being wants to recoil fro what is also obviously magic.

"Pull"

Pull her, she means, trying to get a good hold and hold tight. If the bear can get her out from under the tree branch, they can both get the hell out of here, before that gaping maw in one of them decides to make another attempt instead of a tantrum.

Jain flies backward when hit with the large branch, the wind knocked out of him against the trunk of another tree. Glancing toward the boar, he shakes his head, almost looking like he's clearing it. But she takes it as a signal. She scurries off into the undergrowth, only to have him feel the familiar scratch against skin moments later.

No thought are given to the woman and bear before the militia man simply gives up and sheaths both of his weapons. "It's a futile effort, brother, leave her!" he yells to the bear and then bolts after the horse as fast as his legs will carry him.

His pelt is coarse and as thick as it appears, and Sorcha is able to knot her hand into it, and though he is not thin enough to loop a grip around, there is plenty to clutch onto. Jorn lets out a growl, though he does not pull. Not yet. Jain's voice is as much a surprise as the tantrum the trees seem to me making, but he cannot find the means to answer to it, and the words themselves do not shock him in the least.

The bear turns about after loosing Sorcha's arm, allowing her to cling to his fur as he moves. The panic is gone, but the sense of urgency is not; Jorn takes care to not agitate the trees once they have been loosed. One paw digs down under the fallen branch, claws scraping on bark when he hefts it clear of the pinned leg.

Jain and Traa with him are pursued as he makes the dash after his horse, branches grabbing at him, tree trunks falling a bit too close for comfort. But the horse's instincts prove decent, as it out runs the danger, and the militia man soon finds the creaks and groans of the trees growing distant.

With Jorn's help, the branch lifts of the woman's leg, but the act seems to anger the forest, and the trees start whipping about them, branches hitting against skin and fur like lashes while the wind howls past them, blowing dirt and twigs into faces in protest.

Gone is the branch, a fresh wave of agony welling in it's place. There will be time enough to inspect the damage if and when they get the hell out of here. For now, Sorcha is ducking her head, hunching in to protect herself from whipping branches as she works her good leg under her, using her hands to push herself up and throw herself atop the polar bear as best she can, attempting to flatten herself atop him and hold on. "Go!" Get out of here, run like hell big white bear. run you fool.

Once the groaning trees are behind them, Jain slows his run and ends up clasping his knees and ducking his head down. Long, heavy breaths are taken, just before he starts to laugh.

What are you laughing at, fool? The question from the shrew is full of bitterness. She almost got hit by a tree branch.

Think about it, my love, we were almost killed by trees. It's funny when you think about it… especially if they were to give chase.

It's that thought that has the militia man jogging toward his horse. Finding it in a greener pasture, he hops onto its back and makes way toward the Dovetail. He'll clear the path home in the morning.

Fight amongst yourselves, spirits. I seek no quarrel.

Jorn offers this plead to whatever could possibly be listening in, whether or not there actually is. An oath, of sorts, is how he makes it. The dirt-flinging and whipping branches are salt in a wound. The bear tilts himself downward so that she can latch onto his shoulders, levering Sorcha up when she throws herself onto him. More keen than a horse, but perhaps not as comfortable in this state. With a grunt and a growl, the white bear and his passenger start off in another direction from where MacCruimein had gone, hoping that the trees will be less inclined to split such attentions.

Much like the horse before him, Jorn's larger form cuts a line through the trees. He has enough speed that the trees have a difficult time grabbing at the pair, but they whip and smack against them as they pass through. But cuts and bruises are a better outcome, one might argue. The wind follows after them, but seems to lose its anger the further they get and slowly dims into a soft zephyr sliding through fur and hair like a gentle caress instead.