Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?
darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.
Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
As the trio had woven through the crowd, they had drawn quite a bit of attention. Rather, one individual among them had drawn the eyes of the crowd. It was not only rare, but nearly unheard of for an unaltered and obviously free mortal to roam the Hedge, let alone attend a Market. To say that Tom stood out was somewhat of an understatement, doubly so because of his loud voice and constant questions about a dark-skinned woman and a light-skinned man. There was, by this point, a small contingent of about half-a-dozen unseemly creatures that had begun to slowly and carefully follow the trio. What their purpose was... unclear. What was certain, for any who was clever or sharp-eyed enough to spot them, is that whatever they were up to was unlikely good for anyone involved...
Just as the impromptu and bizarre reunion could truly get underway, a strange looking and beastly looking character leaned out of its darkened stall made of thick silken tarps and what looked like bone. "You seek fresh mortals?" The creature's cloak was thick and pulled heavily over its face, only allowing grizzled looking muzzle full of sharp, grinning teeth poke out into the light. A clawed and pawed hand slammed down on the small counter that faced the street, sending a pile of cards into a scattered mess on the table. "I know of where you must go, but such knowledge comes with a price." It held out its paw and twitched its fingers greedily as it smiled its vicious grin, waiting for one of the group to respond to its offer.
The attempt to make a connection was met with a dip of her ears, for whatever reason Tom's condolences did little to console for Kate, then again, she was a fuzzy bag of nerves so there was really no helping anything. This was stressful business, get in, get out...and try your best to be stoic about it to boot. "Yeah." Of course, Tom didn't know, but that was by her design, she kept him out of the loop for a lot of things he didn't need to know. Her personal life for the most part, which was what made saying any thing about it very, very awkward.
She was a creature who worked better kinetic, thinking on her feet...and feelings? Not really her thing, and right now? They were moving too slow, and not planning things out well enough. Neither were good for a place like this. Though there was a bit of delight in watching the old bird start wailing on that goblin with her cane, now that...that lightened her mood more then anything. Too bad Helene probably wouldn't have cared if she said so, instead Kate just smirked, watching that little shitlet get what he deserved from the last time he broke her balls was like a breath of fresh air. "Devereaux, girl...leave enough pieces that we can get some information out of him." Of course, that meant Tom just blurted out what they were here for, no barter...good god this boy was new. No really, that was all that was necessary, these things meant nothing to her, lower lifeforms in a way, and the fact that's what her mind jumped to gave her a dirty feeling.
Her instincts in a place like this were tense, so much so she actually growled at the new comers, humans were barely welcomed in a place like this- and now with three of them, they were a troupe with a target on their back. And worse, there was a skepticism to their fearless leader's voice when addressing the late arrivals. Kate mean-mugged them both, "Right." A loose hand turned into a fist, and she readied herself for a fight that didn't come...because some shopkeeper decided to profit from their loose lips, the satyr's head whipped around, body poised to jump at a moment's notice, but words coming out more like a rake of claws then the actual action.
Helene’s cane connected with the poor goblin once, twice, and then as she swung a third time the creature decided to make himself scarce. “Good riddance.” She grunted when her cane met nothing but empty air. Served him right for trying to sell her something. Damned pushy salesmen, always hounding her. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
But her dealings with the goblin screeched to a halt when she heard her name uttered in a voice that grated at her like nails on a chalkboard. There was a rustling sound as her feathers ruffled and she spun to face Noah, chin lifted and eyes narrowed. “YOU.” There was a girl with him too, and though Helene did not recognize her, Helene could only assume that she was equally a nuisance. “Mister Fenwick is my neighbor.” She put a deliberate force behind each syllable, managing to make the title of “neighbor” sound like a slur. To make things worse, now he had seen what she really looked like, which of course did nothing to endear him to her. “A plague on the community…” She hissed, pointing her cane at Noah in a display that looked more laughable than intimidating.
Her attention was only drawn away from her arch-nemesis by the intrusion of another shopkeeper. Helene grew still, listening to the toothy creature only long enough for it to finish what it was saying. The thought of cracking her cane over it’s greedy little fingers had crossed her mind, but the satyr had a point. They weren’t likely to get information out of anyone if she beat them all.
“You.” Helene swiveled, pointing her cane to Tom and nudging him forward with it. “You’re the one who called us out at this ungodly hour, and you’re the one who knows what we’re looking for. If this thing...” Coming from Helene was a generous word for it, really. “...is willing to part with its knowledge for a price, then you are the one who must pay it.”
Throwing his arms out, Noah gave Tom a big hug, "Tom you-you old sonuvabitch, get over here!" A weird place to meet and greet, but between this and the gassy rings of Uranus where they had last seen one another, this wasn't even on the top five if even. "I slept through my alarm." Oof, now wasn't that embarrassing? Kind of like the paranoia building up between the Etherite. Oh he understood it, but Noah snorted leaning his head down as as he looked up and over his sunglasses.
A huff. "Really man?" He might have been hurt if not for the fact that this was just how people in these circles worked, especially on a mission, especially when there was something to learn, and especially especially when there were lives on the line, which there were. Didn't mean he couldn't act scandalized by the fact. "I ported here using your coordinates...do you think Gryph and I don't talk or what?" Speaking of- Noah reached into his bag and tossed a second and third beacon towards Tom, and the lady satyr. "Speaking, speaking of...you'll have a hell of a time doing a rescue mission if y-y-ya can't take em with you." Noah's smirk turned eerily toothy, as he looked like the cock of the walk glancing over at his cousin and crossing his arms. "Isn't that right Agnes?" He sighed, "You remember Agnes right? My uh...cousin, second cousin? I d-d-don't remember, but she's my protege now, Uncle Mordie insisted...soooo..." He snapped his fingers and clapped his hands. "Good kid though."
Noah keened, head tilting almost fondly at the aggro he pulled. A smile on his face, as Helene decided to give him nth degree in terms of hostility and vaguely threatening but otherwise adorable threats. They were cute before when she was just an angry adorable old lady, but now that she looked like a ornery old budgie well...how he could he even take her remotely seriously? "Isn't she a delight? Helene, p-puh-lease, call me Noah. I insist. Or give me a title be-be fitting your claims...Destroyer-of-Worlds has a nice ring to it." A cheeky purse of his lips and he was very nearly bracing himself for impact with that cane, though nasty as she was, she had a hell of a point, as much as she hated to admit it. Though that shop keep looked like bad news, the type he didn't want to tangle with.
"Well...yeah. But not without a barter."
He watched the others carefully, noting that at least one of the changelings seemed a bit more anxious then the other, which made him almost curious to know why. Could have been anything, but this was when his suspicions decided to flair up.
Agnes shifted her weight from foot-to-foot as Tom asked for some introductions, letting her cousin handle the formalities as her attention was snatched up by the satyr who was straight-up growling in their general direction. Well, that was... that was something. Still, they were on her turf, not the other way around, and so Agnes simply offered the goat-woman the warmest, most polite smile she could muster. Ain't no way she was looking to start this little adventure off with undue hostility; they just got here for Pete's sake!
But such hopes were short-lived, as it seemed her mentor's reputation preceded him. Agnes watched the back-and-forth between Helene and Noah, then smirked at that line about communities and the plagues upon them. "Oh, so she totally does know you..." Badum-tsh. Still, kinda hard to keep dogging on your teacher after he dropped some praise on you, and so Agnes left it at that, looking just a tad bit proud at that bit about being a good kid.
The goblin market was full of plenty of oddball and wondrous sights, but the hooded creature that beckoned them over was hard to ignore even among the many interesting persons milling about. Agnes kept towards the back of the motley group, lowering her voice and adopting a thick accent before muttering, "Watch yourselves, travelers. Khajiit does not play these games..." A quick back and forth glance and an unspoken 'eh, ehhhh?' followed, and then Agnes fell silent, letting better negotiators take the reigns as she reached out with her mind, trying to get a read on the creature's motives before them.
Tom felt kinda bad about Kate's emotional state, but if she was inexperienced at dealing with feelings than Tom was downright out of his depth. He considered patting her on the back in ways of comfort, but decided against it. It would probably be misinterpreted or at least simply awkward, and that wouldn't really help either of them. Instead he took her cue and moved past it without another word.
When the creature approached, Tom cocked an eyebrow at it. What was this thing and why did it have its all-too-convenient answer to their problems. He glanced between it and the rest of the group. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the sudden screech of the bird woman when she noticed Noah. Now there was definitely a story there, beyond simply being neighbors. Though, as he thought about it, Noah likely would be a difficult sort of buy to share a boundary line with... "Whoa... Plague seems a little harsh there... I mean, he's not always the safest guy to be around..." He glanced at Noah muttering a "Sorry..." before turning back to the Helene woman. "..but he's a good enough guy. Clever too."
Blushing slightly in embarrassment, Tom nodded to Noah and awkwardly returned the hug. "Clever enough to bring extra transporters." Tom had actually forgotten to grab extras, and while he was certain they would have figured out a solution quick enough when it came up, this was both easier and wiser than making up something on the fly. "But apparently not clever enough to set a second alarm, eh?" He laughed and playfully elbowed the guy. "And I should've known you'd figure out a way to catch up... Hell, Gryph'd never admit it, but I'm guessing at least some of the portal was your tech, right?" He winked and glanced at the girl.
"And this is Agnes?" Tom was willing to defend Noah from the bird woman, but only to a point. The introduction of the girl was enough an excuse that Tom took it and left Noah to defend himself. "Nice to meet ya, kiddo. Sorry it had to be under such..." He gestured at the market around them. "...strange circumstances, but it happens to me often enough to be normal I guess..." He chuckled lightly at that as he turned to the new merchant who stepped out of its stall, but not before adding, "Yeah... I don't get that reference..." to her comment about cat-people.
"Um... Okay..." He trailed off glancing at the others and only receiving a prodding cane and a suggestion to barter in response. So they wanted him to handle this? Okay. He'd done some bartering in the past, he could handle this. "Sure, yeah, okay. What d'you want for it?" He had to start somewhere, right? He wasn't ready for the response of "Your most treasured memory..." from the creature. To say he was surprised wasn't quite strong enough a word, but he recovered quickly. "My most treasured memory? For information that might lead us to what we're looking for? That doesn't sound like such a good deal... Maybe I'll keep looking..." It was an old bartering trick, one at least as old as the pyramids, but it was cliched for a reason...
The vaguely canid caped figure was worried about the group. Not only did they designate a single bartering partner, which rarely resulted in as favorable a deal as the 'barter by committee' approach it had expected, but the mortal wasn't nearly as foolish as it had expected. "Wait! Wait... I'm sure we can come to some sort of arrangement... Maybe not your most treasured memory, but any treasured memory...?" The pair went back and forth for a time, the creature proving to be both bad at bartering but also very open to intimidation tactics. After some threats and strong stances from his bartering partner, the creature sullenly agreed to share its information for a memory of some place called Borneo. Activating its crystal ball and extracting the memory, which granted proved to be a beautiful sight of an Earthly jungle, it pulled out its deck of cards.
"The cards never lie, they shall tell us where you must search for your lost mortals..." The creature dealt out four cards, turning them over one by one. "The first is what troubles you, the second what stops you, the third what you must find, the fourth where to look." It grinned its canine smile and turned over the first. "The Sun causes you trouble. A person, methinks, a person who shone into your life." It flipped the second card to reveal, "The Ten of Wands. A card of fire and heat, of pressure and traps, a card of depth and power, turned against you. You must descend into flame to find the Sun methinks..." The creature cackled lightly at this, a faint flash of ghoulish delight in its eyes as it flipped the third card. "Now for what you must find... Ahh... The Moon. The card of hidden things and the unknown. Something treasured but barely understood. Also madness and loss of seeing..." It turned the final card, and let out another little cackle. "And to find your missing Moon... Interesting... You must follow the Queen of Swords. A deal was struck, in the lofty realms of the vault, a woman of earth traded for a piece of the sky. Your moon has moved to the realm above and a new deal must be struck." The creature shook his head. "Fire and sky, depths and heights. Your fortunes are mixed my friend, very mixed. To find both you must find a place where the flames of the earth touch the clouds of the sky, a place where there is a convocation of elements. A place that those wretches can show you..."
With its pawed hand, the creature pointed directly at the lurking creatures that had been trailing the group, some of which had been scared off when they grew careless and were seen but the handful that remained were still watching. The creature now pointed at them with a laugh. They were strange things, each unique: a creature that resembled a mummy permanently enflamed, a tiny figure with wings so clear they could almost not be seen, and another that looked like a tiny man made of packed earth. They saw the gazes of the figures turn to them and they took off running with squeals of terror, each running in a different direction and each seeking their masters... In the moment that their gazes had wandered, the canid figure had disappeared along with its stall, as if it had never been there in the first place...
A few more cautious chuffs, and Kate settled back down easily enough, trying her best to sincerely return the smile that Agnes offered, she knew she was being too careful, too over protective and not at all human enough to make these people comfortable. And in a way she felt bad about that, but this was no place for humans or people behavior. Weakness, or at least showing any perceived weakness would be taken advantage of...
Or in the case of showing warm greetings...they were very nearly sopped up like rays of sunlight in an otherwise darkened state. These things seemed to thrive and deal in feelings they couldn't otherwise experience themselves if not from some outside source. It had to be human, it had to be real...and that was no doubt why that creature had taken such interest in them. Which was probably not the first time a Fenwick had gotten her in trouble, that was for goddamn sure. Though Tom and Helene (as she was apparently named), weren't helping- her stoicism wasn't without good cause.
Still she smirked at a well timed Skyrim joke, as it was one of the few things she focused on between guarding what was now her traveling herd. "Oh god, you're one of them." If she heard 'Arrow in the knee' one more time in her apartment, she was going to flip, but come to think of it, their shady salescat bore an uncanny similarity to the catmen of that video game that those boys all played religiously.
Luckily Tom was not as incompetent as he lead on, making the feline hobgoblin work for his steep price, and while she was no expert on the cards, it sounded like better direction then what the man had before. "Like a volcano?" The environment of Arcadia was wild and not at all earthly, so there was a good chance she was absolutely wrong, especially when it meant those little...things, had to lead them.
“It is not too harsh.” She grumbled at Tom’s objection to her use of language. “You have not seen the metal abomination he left in my garden!” It was not at all in keeping with the aesthetic of the neighborhood.
The only thing more frustrating than her neighbor’s total disregard for bylaws was his indifference towards her intimidation...or perhaps the way he addressed her by her first name rather than the proper, respectful title of Ms. Devereaux. Children these days, just didn’t respect their elders anymore. “Do not think for a second that we are on a first name basis.” Helene clutched her cane in white-knuckled, impotent rage. “Destroyer-of-worlds, PAH. The only thing you’re fit to be called is Destroyer-of-property-values.” That was all she’d ever seen him do anyway.
Any irony in Agnes’s statement went soaring far over Helene’s head. Instead she took the girl’s comment as a show of solidarity. Clearly Agnes knew how much of a pest her cousin was. Perhaps not all of the Fenwicks were terrible people then. Helene was as clueless as Tom in regards to who Khajiit was or what kind of games it liked to play though, but missing out on pop culture references was par for the course when it came to the old bird.
Helene prodded Tom forward and urged him to do the bartering. Lord knew she wasn’t going to give anything up for this cause...whatever it was. She still wasn’t entirely sure who or what they were looking for. Tom’s ability to bargain was surprising. Helene had expected him to just take the first deal he was offered. Perhaps she had underestimated him then, though if she was impressed she didn’t show it.
The answers they received from the shopkeeper were vague, abstract in the way many things in Arcadia were, but if he was telling the truth then...Helene turned to see three small creatures scattering into the crowd. “The sooner we follow one of them, the sooner I’ll be done with this madness, and the sooner I can go home.” With a heavy sigh and a grumble, she began to hobble off after the little flaming creature.
Noah put a finger up as though that would absolve him of his sins, but he knew as well as Helene that he had done it just to be difficult, no matter what he said or put on paper. Still he was nothing if not a smooth operator, smiling coolly, in sharp contrast to the bird who was basically and completely losing her chill. "Which arguably, is your world." He butted in as she scoffed, not seeing the difference, But he had never been that good at making distinctions about minute human stuff, or...whatever the hell Helene was now. Or had always been? Meh.
That elbowing was met with a scoff of his own, "Clever but short sighted, I think that's been written on every report about me for the last...what? Thirty, nearly forty years..." Where was the lie? There was none- it was a curse that he couldn't quite shake, and it had very nearly killed him or worse time and time again. You'd think he'd learn. But nah. Though he'd take credit where it was due, he was the scourge of one old woman's life and was the much needed safety net for some dumb blonde dope. "Well...a gentleman never asks Tom." What gentleman? Weren't any he could see, but he wouldn't admit that he was the one that had helped Gryphon out on the project extensively, old fella needed the win since the last time that portal had gone awry. Though he still soundly wondered if it was the same man some days...he had his doubts.
"This is strange?" Noah shrugged, gaze following a tiny swarm of pixies that fluttered by. As though on cue...it was worth a chuckle on his part, because he couldn't have timed that better had he tried. "Eh it's probably, probably best she get used to this sort of th-thing now." Like tearing off a bandage, do it quick because it was gonna hurt either way, no matter what...things were gonna be strange from here on out. And Agnes seemed to get it, though her way of relating to the situation was absolutely lost on Noah, who hadn't taken in any media references since the late 80s. "Me neither."
Then came...well that whole thing, Noah titled his head and didn't quite get it. He wasn't a metaphysical man, that was better left to his brothers. Thank god, that between getting poked, prodded and needled by the fair folk around them, Tom had the sense to make a deal, and the rest was put together by committee. "Well that doesn't make sense...this biosphere is completely wrong for that, for that sort of seismic activity." A simple protest, but there was also no business for what looked like a temperate rain forest to be in Colorado too...so...he attempted an open mind.Though as fun as he found Helene's antics towards him, the second that she went after Tom, he huffed as he replied with a darker tone. "Helene...don't, this is...this is important, he's trying to find his wife. And...one of my, my g-g-good friends."
He liked to think with a bit more info she'd be a more understanding sort, but part of him was concerned that maybe he doubted it. Even if he tried and wanted to believe the best in people, unsettled, he looked askew at Agnes and nodded. "But yeah, yeah lets...lets grab one of these things and get going..."
Ah, the awkward man-hug, in living color. Agnes watched that fine National Geographic display until their fearless leader turned his attention her way, and she nodded. "Yup, that's me." Cue yet another grin, which was her go-to when she was feeling particularly anxious or awkward, and right about now? Yeeeah, Agnes had a little bit of both going on. Not that she could help it, because like Tom said, these circumstances were a little less than stellar. "Oh, heh, you too."
"Tsk, you two are no fun..." Seemed no one was on the same nerd-level as her. A shame. Oh, wait! Satyr-lady knew what was up. Agnes giggled, shrugging in a 'guilty as charged' sort of way, even though technically it was Noah's kid that had done all the Khajiit-ing while she remained a spectator. Agnes had tried, she had made a character in Skyrim and then some dragon swooped down from the skies and face-melted her, and that was pretty much that. Which kinda felt like how this whole thing was panning out; she traveled to a far away place and just... kinda watched the proceedings.
But that was okay. Tom was smart to wheel and deal with this shady salesman. Didn't take a seasoned veteran of Arcadia to know that you never took the first shitty deal passed your way. So she busied herself, snickering at the conversation Ms. Helene and her cousin were having and glancing at all the strange sights around the market, eyes widening at what looked like a man with an octopus for a head that winked and wiggled a face tentacle towards her, and she quickly spun on her heels and edged in a bit closer to Noah.
"It is?" Agnes watched as the tiny, screaming flame-guy took off and Helene hobbled after. She didn't intervene when Noah cautioned the older woman to lay off a little, not wanting to get on her bad side; she had seen that cane action when they came waltzing over. "I'm crap with riddles so... one's as good as the others to me." Shrug. Volcano it was, or wherever the little fireball beastie had come from. Hopefully, they had picked the right one. She didn't want to think what might happen if they stayed over the Hedge too long.
Tom listened closely as the creature related its vague prophecies and portents. This wasn't the first time he'd been given what he'd asked for, but receiving it in the form of a strange riddle. His experience told him that such things required considerable thought and interpretation before acting or you end up running away from angry tribesmen through a booby-trapped temple with nothing to show for it but a decorative spear through your shoulder.... It was moments like this that he usually leaned heavily on his wife's sharp mind, the thought of which pained him much worse then the aforementioned spear wound.
In his moment of saddened contemplation, he almost missed the prophetic creatures exclamation and gesture, and thus he almost missed the arguments (which he didn't mind missing) and actions of the rest of his party. "Well... Maybe... I'm not so sure it's that literal..." He shrugged at Kate's suggested interpretation and nodded to Noah. "I mean, he's right. A volcano seems kinda out of place. I mean, I get that this place is weird, what with jungles and deserts side-by-side in what should be Colorado, but still..." He tapped his chin and started to say something else, but was interrupted by Helene's sudden departure after one of the retreating creatures. "I mean, doesn't a convocation mean some kinda meet... Wha?"
Tom took off running after the woman, who was in turn running after a flaming little hobgoblin. "Whoa! Wait bird-lady!" He would normally be great at catching up to someone, being in exceptional shape as he was prone to proudly showing off, but the market itself proved complicating. Ducking and weaving (and sometimes colliding) through the crowd, he rushed to keep up and only barely managed to keep her in sight. He wasn't even sure what exactly she was chasing anymore, let alone if the others were keeping up, as he wasn't seeing much of anything beyond the woman in his focused state.
The Hobgoblin had broken away from its companions in a panic when their presence had been so rudely revealed by the soothsayer. To say that the flaming little creature was angry was an understatement, it was literally burning with rage, but its master had to be informed. They were here, just as the crazy witch woman had said they would be. Its master would not be pleased with this news, but it also knew that its master would be even angrier if it was not told before they arrived.
Thus it had taken off at breakneck pace through the crowd. At first, it was merely running, like its fellows had in opposite directions. The sylph and the golem had apparently been more fortunate than the sad little flame-mummy, as it quickly realized when an annoyed glance backwards had revealed that it was being followed and not by a single one of the mortals. No, it seemed that nearly, if not all, of them were following and much too closely. It had to escape! It had to lose them.
Stoking its internal furnace, allowing the flames to temporarily burn away the bandages that kept is flaming energy in check and causing wild and angry sparks to erupt from within its own form. The sparks flew everywhere. Some singed other patrons of the market, causing angry creatures to slow the followers as they attempted to extinguish the flames. Other sparks found the market stalls and set fine fabrics woven from evening winds to catch and the panicked shopkeepers activities further delayed the followers. What the hobgoblin did not realize is that not only was its flames slowing the pursuers but it also left a scorched trail of ashes and flames in its wake.
Even as the creature lost its pursuers in the crowd, and shortly thereafter burned a swift trail to palatial gates on the verge of the desert beyond the market, it also left an easy trail to follow. It ducked through the gates, noticing that its former companions were already lurking in the courtyard with mocking expressions, and headed straight into the caverns below. It barely took notice of the immense palace that hung inverted from the ceiling within the scorching catacombs, but instead took the path that took it up and upside down to enter its lavish (vaguely arabic in decoration) chambers and bowed before its master and its elemental guests. "They come master... They will find us soon." And it had no idea that it had left a path behind it to hasten said arrival...
In fact she was pretty sure she had dated the friend of the little piebald one, and yeah...no fun allowed. Pffst, Kate winked at Agnes and then grew a bit more more anxious, this whole adventure outside the market was outside her own quest, and yet...she felt she owed some assistance to Tom for having gotten her this far, she shifted her weight from hoof to hoof and wiggled her ears as a tense little frown passed over her face. Any travel past this point was just too, too far. "Tom..." Kate held up her hand, but before she could get a word in edgewise, all hell broke lose, with a bird out for blood, and the entire posse of misanthropes running after some sort of fire mummy...
Whose panicked escape caused the bizarre bazaar to erupt into flames, "Okay...this is fine." It wasn't of course, but within moments, she had slipped away from the group- having 'lost' the lot in the frantic swarm of hobgoblins and fae that were trying to save their stands and fares. Now was the time to act, because if she didn't...who knew when she could make it again? She had already dipped past the hedge too many times to check on the lost man for her liking. No or never....
Hopefully they'd forgive her if they ever figured it out. The satyr kept her head down and put her hand over her face, trying to mask herself from the faces of the creatures going past, trying to distance herself from the mortals, "Sorry, sorry..." as she walked by that small green asshole, she 'tripped' over him, giving a good kick before looking down, wide eyed and innocent. "OH! I didn't see you down there..." Bullshit of the highest order, but just a little due order before she bowed off towards the Witch's tent.
That they were searching for Tom’s wife was news to Helene’s ears. She may have been perpetually grouchy, but she wasn’t completely heartless. Noah’s appeal to her better nature was met with a grunt, which coming from her was a pretty meaningful concession.
But Helene immediately charged off after the closest creature. She hadn’t the patience or experience for riddles, especially in a place like this where even logic itself could be warped. She responded to protests against her hastiness with a muttered, “...that beast of a shopkeeper said they could show us. Standing around chatting does not help us find wives!”
The old bird didn’t bother with politely weaving between shoppers. No, she hunched her shoulders and braced herself to plow through the throng of people like a kaleidoscopic bulldozer. There were more than a few yelps and curses as she shoved and beat her way through the crowd, but given the chaos and carnage the little fire-mummy was leaving in its wake, no one thought to stop her. At least not intentionally.
She was delayed several times: First by a burning shopper who Helene so thoughtfully helped extinguish with a few whacks of her cane, and second by a group of inconsolable shopkeepers who watched helplessly as flames swept over their stalls. Helene had no sympathy to spare, only a single minded focus as she bowled through the unfortunate souls. Due to the delays and her own gimp knee, she fell farther and farther behind the flame-mummy until all that she could see was the scorched trail it had left behind.
A trail was better than nothing, and this one was so obvious they wouldn’t have any trouble following it. Helene followed, oblivious to the location of the rest of her group, until she came upon a very large, gaudy gate. There she stopped to see who had managed to keep up and who had fallen behind. They’d lost the satyr girl, but she had her escape button the same as everyone else.
“I am not going first.” She huffed, gesturing to both the gate itself and the cavern behind it. “Last time I walked into a place like that, they turned me into this.”