"Hunt for Witches" is a Season 3 thread written on November 30 - December 2, 2014.

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Toshioka Kiri: Kiri stands before her two chosen companions for her specific strike team.  She has gathered them before her.  There will be more of course, but for now, these two she knows she can trust.

“Tezz… Starlord… how do you two feel about joining me as part of an official witch hunting team?” she grins.  “Dragons are invited.”

Tezzeret Verdile: "I’ve already told you yes, seeing as I’m the only other person in this rebellion that has fought a witch.” Tezz looked over at Starlord, “It’s fun to say the least.”

Kierra Starlord: “What’s it like? Do we kill them, or capture them? I’ve never done this before.” She said, trying to figure out what she was dragged into “It sounds fun, I’m just trying to plan basic attacks.”

Toshioka Kiri: “Destroy them,” Kiri replies, making a slicing motion at her throat.  “Completely and utterly.  The main witch is susceptible to highly powerful attacks.  Our job will be to keep it and the familiars busy until one of the dragons can flame it down.  Or until a very powerful mage - or exceptionally strong physical fighter - can make a final blow.  I wish I had a better way of gauging that,” she murmurs thoughtfully to herself.

Tezzeret Verdile: “Yeah, I only really delivered the final blow, I have no idea how long Kiri was in the labyrinth fighting the witch. The only way to really know what to expect is to jump in and figure it out as you fight.”

Kierra Starlord: Starlord raised her eyebrow, and cracked her knuckles. “Sounds like a plan. When do we set off?” She asked, letting a smirk spread across her face, and straightening her stance,

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: “Heading out I see,” Stonegit said, approaching them from behind. He looked tired. “Before you go…Tezz, I did some research. So we’ll be getting rid of that demon threat after you return from your hunt.”

Tezzeret Verdile: “As you wish Stonegit.”

But it’s not a demon, it’s… me.

“I will seek you out upon our return.” He turned back to Kiri, “I don’t see any reason to wait? Unless we have non idea where to start looking.”

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri motions to the sky.  “Get geared, find food, put on your war paint.  We might be out for a while.  And be ready for some dragon riding,” she grinned.  “We’ll start out looking around any settlements or villages.  Outskirts.  Any sign of a witch’s curses.  We’ll go from there.  Meet back with all your supplies in half an hour.”

She nods, then strides towards her quarters.  She has a couple belts of nadder spikes to strap on after all.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord spins on the balls of her feet, facing the two, and walking backwards. “We’ve been walking for hours. Any sightings of these things? I don’t know really what to look for..” She said, popping her neck.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri grimaces and glances at Tezz.  Dagger and Zuko walk behind them.

“Well problem is, it’s either we fall into a witch’s labyrinth because it’s attacking us, or we find the entrance.  And only Tezz and I can see those at this point… maybe Dagger, since she’s been in one now,” she muses.  “You’ll be able to see it after we fight out first one.  It may be easiest to find the nearest town or village and see if anyone’s been cursed."  She draws a little shape on the side of her neck.  "It looks like a glowing brand on the side of the neck.  Called a witch’s kiss.  The person’d be acting very strangely too.  Murderous or suicidal.”

Tezzeret Verdile: “I wish we had a way to cover more ground. But, we should be able to at least find a village by tonight. Then we can travel by road and just ask around at the pubs and taverns. That’d be the fastest way to locate any witches around.” Tezz was practicing holding the form of his water hand as they walked.

Kierra Starlord: “Alright, sound good. Gives me a chance to have a little drink, I’ve been needing a small something lately.” Starlord sighed. Sheturned to Tezz. You should join me! You too, kiri! Nothing big though, just a little drink" She suggested, nudging the two.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri grins.  “I quite like this plan.  But remember stay mostly sober… the moment we see anyone with a witch’s kiss, or see a glyph, we go in,” she states with a serious look to both of them.

She looks up over the horizon.  “Hmm, that there looks like lights.  Could be a village up there.”

Tezzeret Verdile: *a few miles later*

“The Lab and the Sword? Well, I’ve heard worse names for a Tavern.” He pushes open the door and a wave of smoke and heat greeted them. “Good enough place to get something to drink and find out about any… strange happenings.”

Kierra Starlord: Starlord walks in, and looks around. “..How.. Quaint.. “She said, taking a seat on a stool at the bar. she motions for them to sit. “What do you guys want? First one’s on me.”

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri raises her eyebrows Starlord and laughs.  “All right then!  I’ll take whatever rye ale they have.  A pint should be good for me.”

She smiles merrily, but she keeps an eye on the various patrons around them, checking for any signs of a witch’s kiss or strange behavior.

Tezzeret Verdile: “I’ll stick with water until we’re sure this town’s clear.” Tezz decides to follow Starlord to go and talk to the barkeep.

Kierra Starlord: “Oooh, fine, Mr. Boring..” She goofed, slightly punching his arm. She ordered the drinks, and leaned on the bar. “So how hard is it to kill these witches, anyway?” She asked, keeping her voice low.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri grimaces and takes a sip of her drink.  “Let’s see… near impossible for the ordinary soldier.  A lot of power is needed to take one down… either magical, or dragon flame, or perhaps by magically augmented physical combatant?  If that makes sense?” she ponders.  “It’s like a magical curse that’s been given physical form.  You can’t just punch it and hope it goes away.”

Tezzeret Verdile: “Listen… has there been anything… out of the ordinary happening around town? My friends and I, we’re mercenaries, hired to track down some very specific enemies. I need to know if there’s anything you could consider weird.”


* * * * * * *

Tezz went back to the table with Starlord and Kiri. “Don’t get too comfortable.” He sat and drank some water from a tankard.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord raised an eyebrow, and looked to Tezz, keeping her head turned forward. Yeah? Whatcha got for us?” She questioned, taking another sip of her drink.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri pushes her drink to the side, deciding that she ought not to relax completely.  “Yeah, what’s the news?  Hear of any disappearances, or odd deaths, or unexplained horrific accidents?  Hopefully nothing that’s affected our drinks,” she gives a dark chuckle and taps the side of her tankard.

Tezzeret Verdile: “A series of disappearances, actually. Keep your eyes peeled.” Tezz looked around at the other patrons nervously.

Kierra Starlord: “Noted. This should make for an interesting night.” Starlord commented, letting out a low chuckle.

Toshioka Kiri: “No kidding, right?” Kiri murmurs.  She continues looking about the room surreptitiously.

One of the patrons catches her eye.  A young woman, possibly a town guard judging from the armor.  But something glows from the side of her neck.

Kiri squints at it, then nearly gasps as she makes out the unmistakeable shape of a familiar glyph.

She downs the last of her drink and throws down a few coins.  “Found something,” she hisses.  “That female guard.  Follow her.”

Tezzeret Verdile: “Lead the way Kiri. I’ll follow when you’ve gone out the door.” He gestured for her to stand.

Kierra Starlord: “As will I. Though this is still a learning experience for me, so I’m not sure how much help I will be at first. I will help in any way needed though.” She informed Kiri, finishing the last of her drink.

Toshioka Kiri: “Out the other door,” Kiri hisses again.  She eases gently from her seat to the other exit, and making sure the others are following, she slips around the corner of the tavern to watch the guard’s progress.

This is a terrific time to live up to her viking ninja heritage, so she pulls up her hood and mask and melts into the shadows with ease.  She reaches an arm out to beckon to the others.

It takes a bit, but she manages to make out the destination of this guard.

“Ceremonial storage building,” she whispers to them.  “I guess where they keep all the decorations and things for festivals.  Any idea what might be hiding in there?”

Tezzeret Verdile: “Well if the last witch labyrinth was any indication, some really fucked up shit.” Tezz throws a grin to Kiri and Starlord. He continues to follow Kiri to the door of the building. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Starlord,” He pats her on the shoulder “godspeed.”

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri arms herself with a pair of daggers and calls her dragon over, just in case.  With a nod at the others, she pushes open the door to the storage house and slips in.

The entire room is dark, save for eerie light pulsing from the top of what looks like a totem pole.  A small group of people pray in a circle at the very center, each holding a knife in their hands.  The female guard from earlier lurches towards them, her movements suddenly rigid and uncontrolled.

Two dead bodies lie at the center of the circle, covered in stab wounds.

Kiri gasps as she makes out the symbol of a witch’s kiss on the neck of every living person in the room.

The light pulses.  She looks up and feels her face blanch in horror.  A witch glyph, the entrance to a labyrinth, glows from the top of that pole.

It pulses again.  The group of people stand as one, and each bewitched person turns to the intruders, soulless grins on their faces.

They hold up their knives, and as one zombie-esque mob, charge.

“Well… shit,” Kiri remarks.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord’s eyes widen. She draws the two swords hanging at her hips, and moves into a fighting stance. “What the hel are these? Zombies? I thought we were hunting witches?! Are these the witches?” She asked Kiri and Tezz.

Tezzeret Verdile: A grin creeps over Tezz’s mouth as the first of the attackers reach the trio. “No, these aren’t the witch. They’re under the control of her though.” He changes his hand into a spike and rams it through the chest of the nearest bewitched. “One!” He kicks the corpse and reforms his hand.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri immediately cringes.  She’s amazed by the show of magical power, but not by the result.  “Try - try not to kill them if possible!” she shouts as she parries a knife away and spin kicks another in the head.  She sheathes her right dagger so as to better handle joint locking and any breaking she may have to do.  “The witch is the one controlling them.  It’s going to eat their souls in the end too!”

She disables another attacker by sweeping them to the floor and slicing across their Achilles tendon.  “Take them all down!”

Kierra Starlord: Starlord turns to Kiri. “I can’t kill ‘em? I was trained to kill, not injure. I’m only good with a sword, I hope you know that..” She told them, stabbing one in the feet, and kicking it to the side. “Hurts, doesn’t it? I’d know, that’ll keep ya off your feet for a while.” She muttered to herself.

Tezzeret Verdile: “The witch is in the labyrinth, right?” Tezz bends snow from outside and freezes the the legs of three nearby bewitched to the floor. “Four! agh!” One grabs him and tackles him to the ground.

Toshioka Kiri: “Tezz!” Kiri shouts.  She runs over and manages to stab her dagger into the bewitched man’s hand holding the blade.  She wraps her other arm around his neck, working to choke and disable him.  “And yes, it’s in the labyrinth!  Up at the top of that totem pole!  I think it can tell we’re after it!”

Kierra Starlord: “Alright, quick question? How do you get into the labyrinth?” She asked, spinning, and kicking another in the stomach. “How many, six down?”

Tezzeret Verdile: “Uh… I forgot you can’t see it.” Tezz ducks under a swing as Kiri incapacitates another. He looks up to the top of the pole. “The entrance is up there… but… I cannot make the jump.” He looks back to Kiri. “You’ll have to toss me.”

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri stares at him.  “What - I mean - yes I’m taller than you - but not that much taller - I’m not that strong - or you know, we can wait and see if the witch attacks us first,” she says thoughtfully.  “Decides to expand the entrance and drag us all into the labyrinth, rather than us trying to climb up this pole.  That’s another way that witches attack their victims.  Kind of like walking into another dimension.”

One of the bewitched crawls towards her.  She kicks his face in.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord nods her head. “Actually, when we were in that village a while back, and Tezz got sucked in, I caught a glimpse of it in the corner of my eye, but when I tried focusing on it, it wasn’t there. It was strange.”  She sliced at the stomach of another bewitched, and kicked it away.

Tezzeret Verdile: “Well, she’s almost out of goons, so, she should attack us soon… ri-?” The scenery around him started to change as he spoke.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri recognizes this.  She immediately grabs the second dagger back out as glyph pulses one last time and then disappears as the entire world explodes into color.

It’s a sharp contrast to the room of before.  They appear to be in some sort of outdoor festival ground - yet blood red skies and rays of black sunlight streaking across confirm that it’s anything but a peaceful celebration.  Dried grass and blood-stained circus tents, ripped pennants on garrote wire, spoiled food and rusted festival games, complete with the shadowed, ghostly remnants of festival attendants calling out for people to play their games, buy their wares.

In the center of the square, planted in the center of some stomping ground, is a distorted maypole.  It twists the ripped, fluttering ribbons around it like tentacles, reaching forward to grasp, twist, strangle, dismember.

The festival attendants shout louder and louder, beckoning.

They are the familiars.  The maypole is the witch.

Kiri takes a moment to breath, staring at everything in horror.  It doesn’t matter how many of these she sees, she’s always taken aback by them.

Then she turns with a weak grin to Tezz and Starlord.  She looks Starlord in the eye and nearly cries as she laughs.

“Welcome to your first ever witch labyrinth!” she shouts.  “Now, please kill everything you see before we get devoured!”

Kierra Starlord: Starlord looks around frantically. “This is so fucked up.. How exactly is the maypole a witch? Is it an actual being? How do you kill a pole?” She asked, confused, decapitating anything that came near her.

Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz takes what water he has and makes a flurry around him. “You could always try pole dancing.” He starts strafing to the left killing any familiars that made it past the snowstorm around him. “I’ll focus on the witch, you two keep the familiars busy!” With that he pushed forward through the crowd.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri rolls her eyes as she works with the familiars.  She slices them, drives her foot through them, anything she can do to keep them busy.  She eases into the dance, fighting the mob with efficiency.

Until she notices a flurry of ribbons flying at her.

“What - no - ” she yelps, and she slices them away.  To her horror, they remain airborne and dive at her again.

“Nononononono - ”

She manages to rip another ribbon and slice a familiar in half before the witch’s ribbons entangle her and bind her arms to her sides, leaving her at the mercy of the approaching familiars.

“Shit - no - help - DAGGER!” she screams for her dragon.

Kierra Starlord: "Shit!” Sharlord yells, running toward Kiri. She slices at the ribbons, managing to cut a few loose. Before she could get any more, a ribbon wrapped around her wrist, pushing the sword from her hand.

“Oh fuck no.” She said through her teeth. “Tezz? I could use a little help here!” She yelled, slicing her wrist free, and quickly grabbing her sword.

Tezzeret Verdile: “Did someone say they needed a hand?” Tezz couldn’t exactly see through the flurries but he could hear the yell for help. He began to move toward it and dispersed his little storm before seeing the other two being wrapped by ribbons. “Ribbons? The Hel am I supposed to do about ribbons?"

Toshioka Kiri: "How about keep us alive?!” Kiri screams at him.  One of the ribbons has wrapped itself around her throat, and her ribcage is already straining as she tries to breathe.

To her great relief, Dagger comes flying in, her fire blazing as it burns through the closest familiars.  The black nadder immediately jumps forward, screeching, and breathes her flame upon the closest ribbons, enough to render them ash.  Her attention falls upon the captive pair.

“Little help here!” Kiri manages to gasp.  Dagger attempts to very carefully free them with her fire.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord runs over to Tezz, and unsheathes a sword from her back.  ”It’s not much, but II’m pretty sure it’s better than what you got now.” She urged, spinning, and slicing more ribbons.

Tezzeret Verdile: Tezz had never held a sword, it felt… awkward.. in his hand, to say the least. His swings were awkward, and the sword felt too heavy in his hand. “Alright, new plan! Protect Dagger so he can attack the witch!” He ran back to Kiri and began helping to cut the last of the ribbons off her.

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri takes a deep breath and exhales, suddenly very happy that she’s able to breathe.  She wiggles free of the last ribbons.  “I like that plan.  Worked out last time too.”  She glances over at Tezz with a weak grin.  “We were out witch hunting when we ran into you at the lake.  Even got a grief seed out of it.  No ribbons though.”

She looks up and calls to Dagger. “Hey girl!  Remember, six shots!  Tezz, you might be able to freeze those ribbons to keep her safe and help her conserve her fire.  All of us need to cover her.”  She grins.  “At least familiars go down to regular blades!”

Kierra Starlord: Starlord slices through more familiars, making her way closer to Dagger. “Exactly how many of these things are there?” She asked, visibly growing tired, but keeping strong.

Tezzeret Verdile: “Innumerable, but we get to stop fighting them when the witch dies.” Tezz looks over at Starlord. “Here, take your sword back, I’d be about as effective with that as I would a frying pan.” He un-slings the staff from off his back. “I’m making the storm around us again. Hopefully it slows down the familiars.” With that he began moving the staff in a circle around him, the winds held the majority of the ribbons back.

Toshioka Kiri: Dagger manages to fly towards the witch.  She opens her mouth and breathes her flame upon it, causing the witch to screech in its inhuman way and flail its ribbons everywhere.  The familiars shriek in response and renew their attack with greater zeal.

“Keep going!” Kiri calls to the nadder as she uses leverage to throw one over her shoulder towards an approaching familiar, then slashes them both in half.

Kierra Starlord: Starlord sheathes the third sword behind her back, and stabs two familiars that were approaching Dagger. “Well, this is certainly a workout!” She yells, slashing through more familiars.

Tezzeret Verdile: “I was only around for the end of the last one, so yeah, I agree.” Tezz slams the staff down on the head of a familiar while lodging his free hand through another. “Just keep moving forward I guess?”

Toshioka Kiri: “Good experience for all of us then,” Kiri grunts as she sends a spear hand thrust through one of the familiars.  The dagger still trapped between her thumb and palm slices through it.  “Dagger you’re almost there!”

The dragon continues to flame the witch.  The maypole burns now, and the ungodly shriek echoes throughout the entire fairground.  Then a mess of something black, like a mass of worms, explodes from the top of the maypole.

Kiri screams in relief.  “She did it!  She did it!” she cheers as the sky begins to fall in pieces.

Tezzeret Verdile: “Thank Odin.” Tezz’s staff clatters to the floor as he falls to his knees. “One of the bewitched bit me.” He lifted up his forearm to look at the bleeding bite mark. “I could use that drink now…” He murmers to himself.

“Yeah, come on you hobbit.” Starlord hefted him back on his feet and steadied him. The trio and two dragons made their way back to the Inn, looking much worse for the wear than when they first left it. “A room, and some drink, for each of us. Tezz puts his coinpurse on the bar."

"Looks like you three tried to tackle a balverine.”

“Yeah.. Just.. We’ll take those drinks.”

“I understand. Here’s your roomkeys.” Tezz nods to the barkeep as he goes to sit back down at their table. “Cheers, friends."

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