Star Sixty-Seven
[NC] September Thread Prompts Wrote:“Your character spots something strange resting at the base of the Messenger Tree...”
Optime | Enedwaith (Messenger Tree) | NPC: Bacardi

AW for one, please!
The air was damp and moist as the pair made their way through the thickly forested terrain of the Enedwaith. It had rained a few days prior, and it looked as if it might do so again judging from the grey and cloudy sky that lingered overhead. Naomi paid it little mind though, continuing to lead her brother’s dapple filly along the worn game trail. A little bit of rain never hurt anyone, and, besides, the air just didn’t…smell right for it. If she had to guess, it likely wouldn’t be until later that afternoon or night before it decided to actually rain.

Until then, she had plenty of time to explore and work on Bacardi’s “follow” command.

She had chosen to venture out to what had been collectively deemed to be the “Messenger Tree.” A month or so prior, messages and other things had started to get left behind at the tree; a thick-trunked, gnarled, knotted, and weathered thing hidden away deep in the Endewaith forest. Most of the items left behind were anonymous, and the additions had always been random. Needless to say, the Stryder daughter was curious to see if anything new had shown up since her last visit.

Naomi’s steady gait slowed as she rounded a familiar, thick copse of trees, her glacier eyes already searching the area beyond. There, the Messenger Tree stood, the other, younger trees and shorter shrubbery giving it a wide berth beneath its heavy boughs. She padded forward, the leaflitter crunching beneath her paws as she rounded the thick trunk. Behind her, Bacardi followed, stopping of her own accord as her hooves reached where the tree’s roots peaked above the ground.

The Page’s eyes roved over the various little trinkets and messages, recognizing her brother’s crude drawings—though, he had vehemently denied them being his handiwork—of the year’s children, the little memorial to Thyri and Runi, and, of course, the various written messages left by other of their pack. Naomi paused as she came to a new message tacked to the tree’s trunk. Her brows squinted as she tried to decipher the jaggedly-written and slanted words.

“Consiler Fenor—” They must have meant Fennore. “—thinks Calan…” Her lips twisted into a confused frown. Brikur? She knew the blonde dog, Calan, had a funny last name—Naomi still struggled to pronounce it properly with the strange twists it had—but, was that really how it was spelt? Skipping over the word, she continued, “…is…” Her facial features shifted quickly into an expression of amused mirth. Hot?” She chuckled. Fennore wa kore o mita no ka na?

There was no way the Councilor had written something with such terrible handwriting.

Naomi moved to continue her search for anything else that was new, only for her foot to kick something over. Halting, she looked down, discovering a strange, straw-like…thing at her feet. Squatting, Naomi picked the creation up. “What’s this?” She whispered, turning the strange object over.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
Silver as stone, the sky floated heavily overhead and promised rain. Sólveig breathed in deeply, her bright eyes disappearing for only a moment. She loved the rain. She loved the rain and the dirt and the bitter smell of disturbed vegetation. It reminded her of--


A sudden force pushed her forwards, causing the auburn-haired girl to stumble a couple of steps ahead. She swung her head around and instantly zoned in on her sister's verdant glower. Tucking her ears back against her head and wagging her tail low, Sólveig grinned apologetically.

"This is how come I said I should go first!" Ingvildr grumbled irritably, pushing past Sólveig with care.

Still displaying signs of appeasement, Sóli fell in behind her sister's pace and carried on. She couldn't help it. Nature drew her like the sun drew plants: it felt entirely unintentional and completely subjective and Sóli was only just beginning to understand that not everyone felt the same thing from the world around her as she did.

Not everyone, she was quickly realizing, was drawn to the beauty of flowers or the wonder of bugs.

It was confusing to her to be sure, but of all the other things that her father had declared were important, this seemed to rank lower than any of the other things he had taught them about.

Still, Sólveig was drawn.

"Naomi! Inga cried, catching sight of a figure ahead that Sóli had seen, but hadn't been quite sure about.

Squinting her aquatic eyes, Sólveig gave her tail a cheery wag and confirmed the reason for her sister's declaration. "Naomi!" she echoed, following after her sister with a bright-toothed grin.

The sisters both slowed as they neared their milk sister and her horse, their eyes drawn to the Messenger Tree as it grew nearer. Their father had taken them here a few times before, but neither of them had been allowed to read the messages by themselves, not without the assistance of their father. Suddenly, it felt both rebellious and necessary. How else, after all, were they supposed to improve their reading comprehension?

But while Sóli's gaze hovered on the Messenger Tree, Inga's narrowed on Naomi's squatted figure."What's that?" she asked, instantly drawing her sister's attention to the object in their milk sister's hand.

OOC: Milk-sisters Unite!
[WC -- 402]
NPC: Bacardi

Sorry for the wait! Dx
There was a soft nicker from Bacardi, and Naomi turned her head just in time to find her milk sisters, Sólveig and Ingvildr, hailing her as they came up the path. She offered them a friendly smirk and a single wave of a hand. Kon’nichiwaaa,” she greeted back, elongating the ending of the word to produce a tone synonymous with familiarity.

She grunted as she moved to stand, holding the straw creation out for Ingvildr to either take or inspect for herself. “Your guess is as good as mine,” Naomi answered with a half shrug. “It looks kind of like a Luperci if this is supposed to be the head and these are the arms.” She pointed with a clawed finger. “Maybe a woman wearing a dress or something.” It was the only explanation she could come to for the bottom half.

Her icy gaze flicked to the tree where the note she had been reading previously was. “Fennore wears a dress, so, maybe it has something to do with that note.” The Stryder’s lips curled mischievously, “Apparently Fennore thinks Calan is hot.”

Naomi shifted her weight, flicking her eyes between the two sisters. “What are you two up to?”

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
A bright smile broke free on Sólveig's face and light her misty-blue eyes mirthfully. She didn't know her milk-family's language, but she always liked the sound of it when she heard it. It reminded her of singing, a little bit. Not just like howling, which had its own kind of beauty, but like talking and singing at the same time. It floated like a melody and felt harmonious to her ears.

"Konchiwa!" she tried, butchering both the greeting and the beautiful quality of its tone.

Ingvildr received the odd figure from Naomi without a word, turning it over in her nimble fingers and squinting at it quizzically while the older girl offered her thoughts on it.

"Maybe..." Inga allowed, canting her head as she flipped it upside-down. With her fingers hugging the head and arms, she held it up triumphantly. "Of maybe it's supposed to be like this! It kinda looks like a sword or something this way."

"Or a broom," Sóli added doubtfully. "I like Naomi's idea best."

"You would!" Inga rolled her eyes, at which Sólveig stuck out her tongue.

But Naomi had both girls' attention at the mention of a note.

"What note?"

"What did it say?"

When their milk-sister dropped the gossip bomb, both girls gasped with giddy delight.

"Calan?" Sólveig chirped, covering her mouth with a hand.

"Ew!" Inga giggled, returning her attention to the little straw figure, which she had upturned on its head once more.

Their curiosity quenched, the conversation shifted and Sóli shrugged. "Just exploring, I guess. Then we saw you." She looked back up at the Messenger Tree. "Did you read anything else?" she asked. "Maybe we could practice together." They were here, after all. And maybe they would find some more juicy gossip!

OOC: No worries! <333
[WC -- 307]
NPC: Bacardi
She thought it was cool that her milk-sisters tried their tongue at Japanese every now and then. In time, Naomi hoped that they might become more fluent, and she’d be able to talk to them like she could her father and older brother, but, in the meantime, it was fun to try to teach them new words and hearing them trying to pronounce the foreign language on their own. Naomi’s tail wagged behind her to hear Sólveig’s attempt at the greeting.

As Ingvildr considered the strange object for herself, the Stryder hummed in thought. She supposed it could have been a sword, though, it would have been the strangest sword she’d ever seen with the blade so fanned out. It would have been nothing like the ones she and her family used. Maybe whoever had made it had ran out of twine to bind the other end into a makeshift point though. When Sólveig pipped up, Naomi found herself laughing; both at the suggestion and at the interaction between the two sisters. “You know, maybe it is a little hand-broom, though, I don’t imagine it’d work very well for dusting.”

Naomi found herself giggling with Ingvildr and Sólveig as she saw their reactions to what the note said. “I know!” Her giggling subsiding, Naomi added, “I think someone else wrote it though, unless Calan just thinks that highly of himself.”

Sólveig said that they hadn’t been up to much, and it appeared that the sisters were out doing much of the same as Naomi; exploring. Her icy gaze moved back to the tree at Sólveig’s question. There weren’t many notes tacked onto the tree, though, she supposed, it hadn’t become a very popular spot until recently too. She hummed, tapping her chin as she considered the ones that had been there for a while.

“There’s one by Kalypso about the merchant Guild.” She pointed to the hanging plank of wood. “The one under the rock over there is starting to fade now.” The handwriting on that one was horrendously messy. “And then there’s this one that’s new too…” Naomi walked up to the tree, tapping the parchment that had been nailed beneath the Fennore and Calan one.

She shrugged, turning her eyes to Sólveig as placed a hand on her hip. “Which one do you want to practice with?”

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
Twisting her lips doubtfully, Ingvildr returned the little straw figure back to the way that Naomi had had it and held what could have been its head and arms with her fingertips. She flicked her wrist back and forth, giving the idea of it being a hand-broom a try. "I guess so," Looking up, she considered Bacardi. "Do you think it could be used to brush horses?"

Sólveig followed her sister's gaze to the dappled filly and shrugged. "Dad would know."

"So would Teagan," Inga added, turning her attention back on the Stryder. They cared for enough horses that it seemed a reasonable suspicion. "Right Naomi?"

Flicking her eyes over Naomi, Sóli reached out to take the object from her sister's hands and looked it over quietly Whatever the little straw craft was intended to be, it was neatly bound and cleanly trimmed. Someone had taken care to make it look nice. But then why leave it out at the base of a tree, exposed to the rain and among decomposing leaf litter? The auburn-haired Dawnrunner gave the figure back to her sister and wondered.

It was a mystery, much like whoever left some of these notes.

The girls snickered at Naomi's suggestion about Calan thinking highly of himself and, while Inga continued to make sense of the little craft made of straw, Sóli looked more closely at the offerings left behind on the Messenger Tree. She allowed her vision to be guided by Naomi's directions, looking from the wooden plank about the merchant guild down to her feet at the the base of the tree. She crouched to give the note a cursory look, squinting hard at it before giving up and rising again.

There were other items on the tree -- little planks of wood on a single branch that had drawings on them and a carving of what looked like a cat and a baby kitten alongside something else resembling an upside-down 'T' -- but nothing else that contained readable words aside from the parchment that Naomi tapped.

"Okay. Let's try that one, then," she said brightly, giving her tail a swift wag as she looked the block lettering over. "'Tuh-To th-th'he... thee... the! To the p-puh... poo...'" Sólveig scrunched up her face, looking sharply at Naomi with equal parts humor, bemusement, and disgust. "'Poop?'"

"What!" Inga snorted mirthfully, sweeping in between them. "Why would someone write to a turd?"

OOC: Welp. That descended into potty humor fast. xD
[WC -- 417]
NPC: Bacardi
Naomi’s eyes flicked to her brother’s filly, her lips twisting as she considered Ingvildr’s new suggestion. The little creation certainly wouldn’t work on a horse’s mane, but, perhaps it was just meant to dust off the rest of their coat? It didn’t make sense as to why it’d be all the way out at the Messenger Tree though, not unless someone just happened to forget it there. “Yeah, Merlin or Okaasan would definitely know.” Her attention shifted between the sisters as the mysterious craft was passed between them. “I’ll ask Okaasan when I go home later. We should probably leave it here though in case it’s something special.” Weird as it might have been.

She remembered her brother mentioning that some of the Old Caledonians were religious folk, so, maybe it had something to do with that. Who knew?

Stepping away from the Messenger Tree so that Sólveig could take her pick at the notes left behind, the Page beckoned Bacardi over with a small hand gesture. The filly ambled over, careful to avoid stepping on any of the knobby roots that broke through the earth around the old tree. Bacardi let out a pleasant rumble as she reached Naomi, putting her head in the girl’s outstretched hand so that she could pet the filly. She wondered if they should try out Ingvildr’s idea on Bacardi, to see how the horse liked the feel of the straw creation on her coat.

Her thoughts distracted, she only had half of an ear turned to Sólveig as she read over the newest note. The words sounded right as Sólveig sounded them out, that was, up until she mentioned poop. Naomi’s brows furrowed and her head jerked in a double-take to where Sólveig stood in front of the tree. “What?! Surely not!” She laughed, looking over Sólveig’s shoulder so she could see herself what the note said. Ingvildr joined them not a beat later, and the three girls huddled around the block-lettered note.

Naomi’s eyes roved over the first line of the note, shaking her head as she laughed. “That’s pup,” she clarified, “But, they might as well be a poop according to the rest of the note.” She giggled with mirth. Reaching out, she pointed to the first two letters of the mispronounced word. “P-u makes a puh or sound, like, uh…puppy?” It was the first word that came to mind, unfortunately. She scrambled her brain to find a better example. “Puzzle? Punishment? Anyway, poop is p-o-o-p.”

Pulling her hand back, she jerked her nose for Sólveig to read the rest of it. “Go on, Sólveig.” She flashed an encouraging smirk.

Naomi Stryder
— The Roquen —
Sólveig wrapped her lips around their milk-sister's name for Teagan. Okaasan. She whispered it, the sound like a breath of wind through thin branches, and smiled. "And we'll ask Dad," she decided, giving Inga a glance. "Only to see what he thinks, too." It wasn't that she didn't trust Teagan's answer, but she also wanted to know what her dad thought.

Whether it was a tool, a toy, or a physical manifestation of somebody's superstition, Ingvildr agreed to leave the little straw figure behind when they were ready to leave. It didn't feel right to take it away from the Messenger Tree anyway.

Inga looked up from the creation in her hand when Bacardi began ambling over, watching as Naomi reached out to touch the filly's head. She was listening to Sóli sound out the words, as evidenced by the twisting of one wheaten ear in her sister's direction, while she offered the straw craft to Naomi in case her intention of coaxing the filly over was to try the thing as a brush.

But the note had instantly and irreversibly captured the Knight's attention at the mispronunciation and the figure was forgotten.

"Ohhhhh," Sólveig crooned, nodding and tasting the syllables on her tongue as she quietly sounded the suggested words out to herself.

"You thought it said 'poop'," Inga reminded her sister through snorted laughter.

"Shut up," Sóli hissed back, failing to keep a straight face.

At Naomi's encouragement, the pale Dawnrunner turned back to the note. "Okay. 'To the pup'," she began, shooting Inga a quick, playful glare before she continued the slow and arduous task of sounding out each of the block-letter words. She squinted hard at 'apologize.' "Ah-ahp'ol-oh... Ahpohlo-gih-gihzee? Ahpohlogihzee?"

"That's probably 'apologize', Sóli. 'Come and apologize', Inga offered, putting the word into the context of the sentences before it. "'Cause someone stole the jerky." She didn't laugh at the mispronunciation this time, though. Inga knew first-hand that it was much easier to be the listener than it was to be the reader.

But Sólveig was stumped against at 'guardians' and this time Ingvildr didn't have any suggestions. Both girls looked at Naomi for assistance. "What is 'guahrrdeeahns', Naomi?" Sóli asked quizzically.

[WC -- 394]

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