Welcome to Amortentia! We're a unique personified animation site set in the HP universe. The second semester is in full swing, the Yule Ball is finished complete with our royalty poll, the Goblet of Fire ceremony has been conducted, and our champions for the Triwizard Tournament have been selected! The first task will be under way beginning in March. In the meantime we are wrapping up a Valentine's Hogsmeade Weekend and the champions are preparing themselves for the first task. The effects of an illegal truth serum finding its way into the punch bowl at the Yule Ball have rippled their way through the populace, resulting in the firing of two staff members and friendships made and broken. So fall into place and let your own stories unwind!
"This..." The St. Mungo's healer fastening the small, leaf-shaped pin to the collar of your shirt could probably be a little more gentle. "...will allow us to see what you see. Don't take it off. It's not so much for spectators' benefit as for your own safety. I'd hate to see you, well... You'll see." There's a certain pessimistic, maybe even grave tone to her words, but she clasps you on the shoulders, spins you roughly around, and thrusts you down the dimly lit hall.
The light ahead, at the end of the hall, glows an earthy green, and the sounds from above are muffled through the concrete walls of the Quidditch stadium. The red and yellow paint on the bricks of the south-southwest entrance to the pitch is reminiscent of one of the Hogwarts school houses. Gryffindor. Leaving the locker room behind, you walk down the long hall with your curious little, orange flower in hand. It feels almost happy -- cheerful, even -- as it sways back and forth in your hand. Maybe it is excited to see it's family?
"Reunite me with my family at the heart of the jungle."
Though, you couldn't be farther from a jungle with the flat, open grass of a Quidditch-- Interesting... As you approach a barred gate at the end of the hall and look out onto what should have been a manicured field, your gaze stops short. Foliage. A lot of foliage. Broad leaves, thick underbrush, towering trees that scatter the sun in small patches of green light in the quiet, sub-tropical jungle. There's no mistaking it. There is a wet heat rolling through the bars of the gate and a distinct, earthy scent in the air. Ahead in the dim, green light, you can make out a narrow path that disappears into the trees.
Quite suddenly, the sound of a loud buzzer rings through the hall and the gate in front of you springs open. Ready? Set? Go!
OBJECTIVE: Starting from your south-southwest entrance, make your way to the heart of the jungle and transplant your Happy Crocus alongside their awaiting family of identical flowers.
SETTING: The Hogwarts Quidditch pitch has been transformed into a dim, hot, and damp subtropical jungle. There is a narrow path that appears to head toward the center of the jungle, but it disappears into trees and foliage. The ground underfoot is uneven, and the path itself is not so neatly groomed. At the center of the Quidditch-pitch-turned-jungle stands the Heart Tree, the sentient mother of the jungle interconnected with all forms of plant life in the jungle. At her base, you will find your flower's family.
GOALS: Complete the objective in 6 or 7 rounds. The completion of five or more rounds by the Champion is considered a success. The objective may be completed on round 5, but will be considered "barely successful". If the objective is completed on rounds 6 or 7, the Champion is "highly successful". If Interference stalls the Champion for eight or more rounds, the Champion is "moderately successful". Failure to complete five rounds will result in "task failure".
If Interference does not reply within three days of the Champion during any round, the Champion may move onto the next round and mildly Power Play the Interference's failure to intercept, stall, or stop them. If this occurs on Round Six or higher, the Champion may claim an automatic success in their post. If an interference player misses a three day deadline, staff will take over their interference posts for the remainder of the task and they will not be allowed to play another interference role in the tournament.
MECHANICS: The task starts with an Introduction Round the week before APR 01 in which the Champion replies to the task introduction with thoughts and a reaction to the conditions presented. They may act toward their objective, but must be realistic in allowing Interference the chance to act before progressing too far down the path.
Round One begins on APR 01 with a reply post from Interference, followed by a response from the Champion.
Round Two and beyond follow the format of Round One.
Champions have until APR 24 to complete their objective.
Interference will present challenges and obstacles for the Champion to overcome. The Champion's ingenuity and realism in how they overcome, or fail to overcome, each threat or distraction will be reflected in their score at the end of the task.
PREPARATION: The Champion is armed with their wands, their wits, and a small, emotional flower. The Champion has received a message from their Second Task clue to reunite their flower with its family at the heart of the jungle.
OOC: In the week leading up to Round One, the players of the Champions may PM a staff member up to two questions pertaining to the task. Choose your questions well, as the staff will answer them ONLY to the point of knowledge your character would have. For example, a question like "What is in the jungle with me?" would receive the answer "Ahead of you, you see a rough, narrow path obscured by foliage. The area his heavily wooded with trees, and the path cuts through a thick underbrush.". Players may PM the staff another question at the beginning of each round of play. Keep in mind: we will not complete your task for you.
I didn't even feel the sting of the pin. This healer's bedside manner was lacking. But I had more pressing matters to worry about. I was missing the roar of the crowds, which were now somewhere outside of the Quidditch Pitch. In this locker room (you couldn't quite tell off looks, but by smell. Deodorant, gentlemen. A little goes a long way) the only sound was the healer's droning voice talking about my safety...
Wait, she said safety. Ominously. Wait what?
"It's not so much for spectators' benefit as for your own safety. I'd hate to see you, well... You'll see." Spin and shove. Lady, you should not be a healer. I walked towards the doorway and stopped.
I'll see what? Considering my only warning to get a puzzle box was "You are not alone." before finding out there was a very large, very angry Minotaur jealously guarding it, I was now even more on edge. I really wish there was some form of noise now. Like anything. Even rapid Russian, or Norwegian, or whatever happened to be Anniken's language of the day. Seriously, something.
Speaking of, something brushed my hand, and I jumped slightly. My little crocus had butt its petals against my hand, and puffed brown and grey pollen. Oops. I didn't really buy into this mood ring idea the herbology and horticulture books talked about, but it was surprisingly accurate. And I was making it worry. "Sorry little guy. Let's get you home."
Sound would be the least of my problems. The task said take the flower home. And as much as I liked it, (I gave it a mini-heart attack the first time I shifted into a cat near it...if flowers could have heart attacks...hmm) this was not it's home. I had did my homework about the flower. Happy Crocus or not, this was not it's home.
I set my hand down next to the little flower and waited for it to walk into my hand. One last adventure for it. I walked down the hall, the puffs of pollen now orange and purple. It was ready to go home...guess it didn't like me as much as I thought. That hurt a little bit. But it needed to go back.
Though I wasn't sure how to get it back to...a...
There was the jungle. But I was still anxious. The buzzing of the bugs and the distant bird calls was not reassuring. What was so dangerous for need of monitoring? The minotaur had been bad... Just keep it together Kate...get the little guy home. At least plan a bit before you decide you want to run.
The buzzer sounded, making me jump again. God, I had to get over this.
"Reunite me with my family at the heart of the jungle."
Get the flower home.
Get the flower home before I find whatever thing that makes this pin necessary.
My boots hit the vines and roots underfoot as I jogged into the undergrowth. Priority: find the heart of the jungle.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes: Maybe a muggle lawn mower would be helpful for the groundskeeper. Outfit
The forest was still, but not quiet. The chirping of insects and birds filled the displaced jungle. As a creature appeared, some of the larger trees seemed to shift a little. It was as if they were craning their necks to check the creature out. What was she? She didn't look like any sort of plant they had seen before. As the girl passed, a bird screeched loudly, perched atop a small bush just next to the door. The screech echoed throughout the forest and many identical screeches followed from varying distances away. It was a warning, but for who? The girl had stepped onto the edge of some vines and the green, spiky plant attatched to them seemed to puff itself up, as if threatened. It was rather small, covered in green spikes and had what appeared to be teeth. It was just behind the girl now as she stepped further into its mass of vines.
The vines began to slither under her slightly as she reached the middle of the plant's trap. Then, before the movement became too noticable, the vines shot up and wrapped around her ankle tightly. After this, they began to climb up her calf, seeming to tighten as the vines climbed. The puffed up plant was confident, prepared for anything. It was just trying to get a good grip on its' prey, just in case she struggled. And if not, well then that was less work. The vine pulled on her leg slowly, lazily a few times, trying to gauge its and her strength before it actually reeled it in. It seemed to be doing no damage with it's pulls and it was not hurting her leg, just holding tightly to it. The birds screeched again, one of them even closer to the girl. The sound was alarming and probably even disorienting, if not deafening. For a split second, a sound could be heard behind her. It was an angry, hissing sound. It was abruptly cut off by more birds screeching and that low hissing sound was gone? Was that even real or was that her imagination? The plant shifted behind her, seeming to prickle up angrily. As it puffed up, it came in contact with a large pink seedpod filled plant, glimmering with shiny seeds. At the slight contact, that section of the plant flowered instantly. It seemed the plant was padding itself to protect itself from the spikes of its neighbor.
It was impossible to not step on the plants. I really had no other options but to step on the plants, as puffed up as they got. Wait, puffed up? Plants weren't supposed to do that, were they?
We don't have jungles in Eastern Europe, okay? We have forests. Very large forests, but not anything like this. The humidity was making the stray hair sticking out of my bun friz and stick to my neck. Ick. I was never moving to somewhere this warm. I did not like it. Not even the cat part of me wanted to be in a place this warm. The cat part of me did want to know where the birds were all hiding. I just thought they were all annoying.
"When we get farther into this place, Lux, I'll figure out something so I don't have to be carrying you." I was going to need both hands from the look of things in this jungle. Plus, I had not thought of pockets when I had grabbed clothes today. I just knew I wanted to wear something that wouldn't get in the way. So my wand was sticking out of the top of my boot. It was actually semi convenient there.
At least, right until something grabbed my ankle. Oh crap. Crap. This was not okay. I looked down. The vine was attacking me? Oh hell no. I pulled out my wand just as the vine started climbing higher. I was not going to be some gas gulper's breakfast. My plans for the day did not involve being a meal at all. It involved getting little Lux home. And surviving. They were both at the top of the list.
Pointing my wand at the plant, I whispered "Diffindo." I needed to get free. I needed to get moving before some other plant decided on revenge.
The birds were now more than annoying. Annoying could be ignored. Officially on my nerves? Not so much. It was like someone had decided to hand the damn things mega-phones. Well that's magic for you Kate. But as annoying as the birds were, there was another sound.
Hissing. I couldn't be sure though, because the freaking birds. When the calls died down to a dull roar, the hissing was gone...weird. That wasn't ominous at all. "Snakes in a jungle, of course. Can't just have vines that want to attack." And now I was talking to myself. Not good for stealth. Besides the birds and whatever made the hissing sound, I didn't want anything else to know that I was out here. Unless...the birds.
The birds could have been announcing me. It was highly likely. I had to get moving again. I quickly got away from the vines to a fairly clear area. "You still good little guy?" I looked down in my hand to the orange flower. The flower nodded and puffed grey and amber pollen. So far so good. "Let's do something about this carrying problem. I'd say you could hang on to my hair, but I don't trust that one bit." I pulled an enormous leaf off a nearby tree and a non-attacking vine. Within a few moments I had a sufficient little pouch for Lux to be sitting in.
I never told Anniken that I had named the plant Lux. He probably would have rolled his eyes and mocked me for it, since I had to give it back to the jungle. Well it wasn't his plant at the moment, so there. It was something to focus on. something to make the flower meaningful. Just off of my first few steps, I was surprised how these flowers...or creatures...whichever (they really were a little of both), survived.
I carefully put the crocus in the pouch and pulled the little vine drawstring close, but not close enough to hurt the plant. I'm pretty sure that hurting the flower would not be condoned by the judges. Taking another non-violent vine, I made a belt and looped the pouch onto it. "Next time, something with pockets. And belt loops" As nice as it was to be wearing the pants/skirt combo, I was now seeing it's drawbacks. A little too late now though.
Looking over the area one last time, I noticed a flower had bloomed in the process of me escaping the vines. It was beautiful...but I couldn't afford to waste any more time here. I had barely made a dent into the jungle. There was no way it was the heart of the jungle.
Checking one last time that Lux wasn't going anywhere, I set off again, wary of the vines...and if the hissing thing would make an appearance.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes:The cold never bothered me anyways..no me gusta humidity.. Outfit
The hissing sound resurfaced for a moment, a bit louder this time, and then it disappeared again. More screeching bird sounds as one flew directly over, but not at her. Oh yes, they were alerting the whole forest of her arrival. At the murmured words of the strange plant-girl, the vine was sliced through and the plant puffed up again angrily. It had first recoiled, as if in pain. Oh, but it came back with a vengeance. It's vines whipped at her angrily and tried to grab her limbs as she moved to get away from it. It acted like a baby, throwing a tantrum. Funny, that's exactly what it was. A baby plant whose only useful tools were its vines. The plant whipped her one last time, having lashed out at least a dozen times. It was sure to have hit her at least a couple times, it was confident in that. Anywhere she had been hit would most likely sport a puffy, red and painful welt already. Oh, the sass that the small, toothsome green plant had carried. Now, it was out of her reach, so the baby plant settled its vines back into a trap.
As the girl moved into a clearer area, she would probably get the feeling that she was being watched. Several creatures around her were intent on watching her every move. Talk about an eerie feeling. She stopped now, countless pairs of 'eyes' on her. She began to pull on the vines of a tree, why was she taking the vines? Well, they weren't going to stand for that. How would the strange plant like it if they took her things? The vines had flicked at her at first, trying to get her off of them without force. That didn't seem to be working at all. However, they did notice the flower that she was holding onto protectively. Wait, the flower was one of them! A bird screeched again, almost sounding like it had formed a word. Thief! Accompanying the bird's screech, the vines lept into action. some of them beginning to whip at her. They didn't actually touch her. Hurting her was not the point. While she was distracted with the seemingly angry whipping vines, another vine had wrapped around the plant's pot three times over, gripping it lightly and yanking as hard as it could. She would have had to had a very strong grip on the plant to get it back. And, it seemed she had. That was okay. They let her believe she won, until she finished her pouch and turned to go. Now, they whipped forward, almost quicker than human eyes could detect and snatched the plant from its pouch. Now it was tightening around the plant and lifting it up further into the vine covered tree.
Ow. The hell??? "Well I'm sorry, I need that leg." I really wasn't sorry at all. I didn't do plants. Even more so if they attacked me. This wasn't like the rose bushes I usually said 'attacked' me, no. These were vines that practically had a mind of their own. I gave myself one quick once over. Nothing too bad. I wasn't bleeding. No harm, no foul. No problems. This hissing was still a problem. Could only think of 'snake.' I mean, what other creature hissed? I didn't want to think anymore on that.
I ignored the strange feeling I was getting. I was in a jungle, of course I'd feel that way. The mega-phone birds were proof that there were creatures everywhere. And now these vines were copying their buddy. Come on, really?? "I'm sorry, I forgot pockets. This is the only thing I will take, I swear." And now I was talking to plants. With little to no effect.
Those books that said 'talking to plants helped them grow,' well, they lied. They lied soo bad. Talking to them just pissed them off. It pissed off the vines, and it pissed off the birds. Well, maybe bird. Singular. They were all freaking loud.
The vines weren't actually hitting me...odd...what were they. "Whoa whoa whoa, hey!" The vines were jerking on my wrist. The hell! They were trying to take Lux! Okay...don't squish Lux. That would be bad."Let go! Seriously, I'm just trying to get Lux-err, the flower, home!"
The vines back off for the moment. Okay, maybe there was some merit to this talking to plants thing. But it was short lived. I didn't see it, but I felt a breeze. I looked down at my makeshift pouch. Lux was gone.
"Hey!" They just swooped Lux! I had to get him home, or 'the heart of the jungle,' whichever. Nowhere in that plan is there 'have your flower stolen by vines.'
The flower was quickly out of reach. I could not try another Diffindo charm to free little Lux, otherwise there was a high likelihood that I would hit the crocus.
But these plants didn't know that I had claws. I put my wand back in my boot and willed myself to change. I had to hurry. The longer this took, the farther away the flower would be from the ground.
Like last time, I could just feel when the change was done. I shook myself, already feeling the humidity seeping in through the long fur I now had, noticing the slight jingle of a collar. Ugh. Of all the types of animal I could have become when I finally made the change, I was a long haired orange cat. In a jungle. With a high amount of humidity. Ew.
Enough of that. I needed to get that flower. Sorry Lux.I turned around and padded off a bit, gauging distance, and then turned around and bolted at the tree, my momentum carrying me up to the vines that were whisking Lux away. I pulled the flower carefully out of the vines and pushed off of the tree.
Falling...falling. Twisting in midair, I landed on my feet. Cat skills. We really do land on our feet. But really needed to get moving, before the vines caught on.
I bolted, carrying a very distraught Lux in my mouth, who was now spewing black, white, and gold pollen. In my face. I'm so so sorry Lux. Hopefully the little guy would forgive me.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes: Here kitty kitty! Outfit
The jungle watched curiously as the strange flower transformed itself. It was small and covered in fur now. It lept into the tree after its stolen potted flower and despite the vines' struggling, managed to break it free. The vines whipped and grabbed at the orange creature and the flower, but were unable to catch hold of either as they fell. The vines eventually gave up, whipping angrily at neearby plants. The theif had gotten away, and it had gotten back its stolen flower. The forest seemed to calm, though the eerie feeling of being watched probably wasn't going away anytime soon. The forest was watching her every move, trying to figure out what her goal was. But wasn't that flower from near the Heart Tree? No! She must not be allowed to reach their sacred mother tree. The bird's screeches became louder and more urgent, again sounding like they were speaking English. Stop her! The screeching didn't stop yet. Stop her! Protect the Mother Tree! Then the forest became creepily quiet and still. It had been extremely noisy just a few seconds before, what had happened?
As Kate walked along the nearly clear path that seemed to be narrowing as she went, a very faint hissing noise could be heard. She came up on a curve in the path, the curved side surrounded by spiky bushes. As she got closer, the hissing seemed to slowly get louder. The spiky bushes were very still, the noise seeming to be coming behind them and on the other side of the extremely narrow path there was a twisted, ugly, gnarled stump. As she reached the curb, the hissing got louder. . . And louder. It sounded like it was getting closer.
It was much harder as a cat to ignore the cacophony the birds were creating. Especially when every fiber of me wanted to go chase them. But the pollen Lux was still puffing in my face was a good way to focus on what I had to do. I kept on running, until the attacking vines were far behind.
I felt really really bad for having to stress the flower so bad. Before the task, I had just been around him, switching between cat and human until it was used to the change. Never once had I picked him up in my teeth. I wasn't biting him, god no. There would be bigger problems then. Plus, Lux would be fighting a lot more to escape if I had done that.
I wanted to set Lux down and nudge him, to let him know it was okay, but with my luck after barely walking into the forest? The poor thing would be stolen by the vines again. And the clear ground was rapidly vanishing the deeper into the jungle I went, even though I had slowed down from my breakneck speed to a slow...trot? Jog? I didn't know. I was moving faster than a walk, okay?
More spiky plants. Fun, not. Meant more things I couldn't detour through. There could be more vines waiting to whip into action behind them. And there it was again.
I felt my fur on my back and tail start to stand on end. I could only imagine what I looked like: an angry, orange...pom-pom. Yeah, I'm terrifying. At least Anniken could be a wolf dog and actually look ferocious.
A growl rose in the back of my throat, only adding to the amount of pollen Lux was spewing in my face. Still the same colors. God I felt terrible for the flower...but also glad I didn't have allergies, in cat form or otherwise. Otherwise I would have spat out the stressing flower by now.
I needed to find the hissing, so I could pick a different (well, sort of different...I could tell this way was closer to the 'heart' of the jungle. Less light filtering down) direction. As a cat, I couldn't fight a snake. As a human...I still probably couldn't fight a snake. That wasn't an education you could get in school. And then if I got bitten and if it was poisonous...well I was screwed.
And this was all saying if it was a snake. It put me on high alert, in all of my puff ball glory, slowly walking past the bushes and the stump. I was ready to bolt again if and when I had to.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes: Snakes...why does it always have to be snakes? Outfit
As the strange flower trotted past the spiky bushes and closer to the tree, the hissing began to get louder. It was as if whatever was making the sound was coming closer at a rapid speed. It was definitely loud and close enough to become an immediate problem. The strange furry creature began to move faster through the path, beginning to reach the massive stump. The jungle was once again still, the hissing sound overpowering the other, much quieter noises. The birds seemed to have suddenly vanished, quiet for once in the entire time she got there. If the sproutling knew anything about Muggle culture, she would know that quiet was suspicious. Even more so when the hissing suddenly stopped. Ahead of her, there seemed to be no more path, no more clear ground. There were just overgrown plants of all sizes, shapes and colors. The jungle was waiting, waiting and. . . Go.
Three quarters of the way past the stump, the orange puffball stepped on some ugly, scarred and knotted roots. Nothing happened, at least not right away. She would have had just enough time for a sigh of relief, If she learned anything about stepping on plants before the stump sprang to life. Large, ugly branches shot out of the tree sporting sharp spikes that had to be at least half a foot long. At full length, they would have blocked the entire path, but they stayed close to the stump for a moment before they began to attack. Branches covered in spikes extended to their full length, then begun to swing sporadically and in all directions. Had she been bigger, the swings would have been more strategic and calculated, but she was a cat. She was tiny and she was fast. The forest had been observing her speed and reflexes during the silence, trying to figure out what the best form of attack would be. She must not reach the mother tree.
God, the hissing was now just as bad or possibly worse than the birds...wait, where were the birds? I had gotten used to their noise, but their silence was even more disturbing. Their presence had been constant since I had entered this place...I didn't know how long ago. That was problematic.
Checklist for next task: outfit with pockets and or belt loops, and a watch. Eh...okay maybe not a watch. So many conflicting thoughts, and none of them had anything to do with my imminent problems.
Hissing. No birds. And the lack of a path. My breadcrumbs were gone.
I jumped at the sudden movement of the...stump? Was the stump what was hissing? Wait, bigger question: why was the stump of all things, moving? Stumps didn't have branches...they were what was left.
Except this was on the right. 'Puns? Or coincidences? Now? Really brain? Really?' If I didn't focus in the next second, I was going to be seriously hurt. I skittered out of the way of a flailing branch, only to have to jump over another jump rope style. Now was not the time for a dance...dance.
'Argh SNAP OUT OF IT.' I could not keep it together. First I come into this thing panicked and afraid, and now I couldn't focus on the ta--ordeal, at hand. What was wrong with me?
I slid under another branch. They were like whips...wait a minute.
I ran away from the tree, still not quite out of range. This thing looked familiar. There was something like it on the grounds of Hogwarts. 'A willow?? They put a willow in here??' Sorry Mr...or Mrs...whatever, Minotaur, you just got beat out by a tree.
Lux was pushing at my mouth trying to wriggle free. Facing a willow (I'm pretty sure this thing is a willow, the climate was right) was not on his list of things to do today. I wished he'd stop his pollen thing now. I got it, he was not happy. He was downright terrified and distressed. But there wasn't time to be blinded by pretty smelling clouds...
Pretty smelling clouds...oh my god. I had been ignoring my biggest clue. However, I couldn't put that theory to the test until I got past this demented tree.
But how did one beat a willow? I took a breath. Different angle could help. Make it something I did know...I was dueling a tree. It had a range like a wand had with spells. 'Get out of range...or too close.'
I knew what lay behind me, but not what lies ahead. Too close for comfort it was. I ran back into the fray, closer and closer to its stump. A branch nicked my ear as it whistled past. Ow. That was going to sting. I pressed myself against the stump. If it wanted to attack me or Lux, it was going to have to attack itself.
Tag: Interference for Round Five! Notes: Duh nun nun nuh, nuh nuh, can't touch this. Outfit
The furry little creature was... getting closer? Well, that would make things easier! What a strange little thing this was, scurrying into the danger zone. Well, the snargaluff wouldn't complain. If the little meatsack was ready to die, it was ready to die. A prehensile root curled back toward the base of the gnarled stump, following the suicidal critter as it skittered against the rough bark of the stump, so close to the feeding hole. It just needed to move a little more to the left, then it could be shoved right in.
There was crash from above and a sudden heavy thud as something slammed into the jungle floor beside the four-legged feast, coincidentally slightly off to the left. A bird; it was the dried up husk of a large, tropical bird. Something had drained it of its blood, but the snargaluff wasn't interested in the blood. It was a perfectly good meatsack still. And... it wasn't struggling or moving. Another thud and puff of colorful feathers nearby the first had the twisted stump very much distracted now. The spiked root which had been trying to quarter the orange critter toward the feeding hole slithered off toward the first fallen bird, another heading for the second, and they wrapped about the dried up bodies and started cinching them in toward the hole at the base of the stump. These would hold the snargaluff over for a while! Large, already dead birds. Those Transylvania Flytraps were awfully useful upstairs neighbors.
Much to the snargaluff's delight, birds began raining down on all sides. The traps must have taken a whole flock! This was wonderful! It would indeed feast today, eat until it couldn't possibly fill its decomposing chamber any more! All thoughts of the orange creature it had been chasing before came to a halt as all of its spiked limbs were occupied with picking up the dead birds as the fell from the sky. The downpour was becoming quite intense, and the husks of meat and feathers rained down at an alarming speed. For something as rough and sturdy as a snargaluff, this only meant delicious food. However, for a soft, frail critter like the furry little thing standing by, these falling corpses could be serious trouble. And, with them showering down from straight overhead, the orange critter was going to have to get moving, lest it be struck unconscious.
I jumped again, growling at the bird that had fallen from the canopy. Well, that explained the silence. The birds were unalive. I'm not sure if I preferred them that way. They were a good way to know what was going on, mega-phone status or not.
Lux was still spazzing and stressing, based off the pollen colors, and a not so good smell cloying my nose. Ew. This plan of mine would not work if Lux was going to be like this. First things first, away from the dead bird...which the willow was getting ready to eat?
Willows were vicious, but not like that. I was so so wrong about what it was. I needed to get out of here. I scampered away from the trunk, and had to dodge another falling bird. What was attacking the birds?? 'If it's something I said I'm sorry!' With birds falling from the canopy and spiked branches lashing and grabbing the dead feathered creatures, what was originally difficult was now downright close to impossible.
A bird landed right in front of me, and I jumped backwards. 'Too close too close!' With how high the trees were compared to me, I could not be hit by a bird. I leapt over the body, and dashed off, dodging birds and the branches coming after them, getting scratched in the process. When this insane task was over, I'd go figure out what that thing actually was.
Now on a new path, I opened my mouth and dropped the flower, who immediately wanted to skitter away. I put a paw down on the stem of the flower. Lux was not cool with that one bit. 'Aw come on now Lux, you know who I am.' I highly doubted the little Crocus cared though. I started morphing back to human. Somehow I had to let Lux know it was okay. And I needed him happy, otherwise this (most likely) scatterbrained plan of mine would not work.
I managed to keep my eyes open this time around, but god was it disorientating. Cats didn't have the same eyes as a human, with the vertical pupils and extra light receptors. But closing my eyes, with the kidnapping vines anywhere (and possibly everywhere), was not an option.
Finally human, I only then noticed my ear was ringing. Putting my free hand up, I touched the spot and pulled my hand away. The branch had hit it harder than I thought. I had a bleeding ear. At least it wasn't my right ear. Then the dragon ear cuff I was always wearing would be hurting like nobody's business.
Outside of that, I was still pretty okay. Nothing serious. I knew I was going to be exhausted after all of this. Cats used a more energy than humans, and usually in short bursts. I had been running the equivalent of a marathon.
I carefully scooped up Lux, who was now cowering in my hand. He was okay, I hadn't bitten him. This was good. "Hey...little guy, it was just me." The flower refused to look up from it's quailing position. "Lux...seriously, look." The flower turned around...and promptly blew a large amount of foul smelling black and red pollen into my face. I coughed violently. "Love you too. Listen, I need you to be happy. As happy as possible. I'm gonna try to get you home, but you have to trust me." These flowers were practically human, so I was hoping beyond hope that Lux was understanding.
"I'm going to change back now, and you have to be happy. You're going to be home soon, okay?' The flower looked (if it had a face it would have looked anyways) as if it was in deep thought, and puffed out sad pink and brown pollen. I had done my homework on this. They were colors of resignation. Lux knew what had to happen.
I started the morph back, keeping my eyes on the flower the entire time. 'Please please understand. I know you're not quite human, but please understand.' Back as a cat, I lifted by paw off the creature and gently nudge the flower with my nose. I was hoping beyond hope that this would work.
Lux turned his face to mine, and gives me what could be a condescending look (I was trying to translate 'flower' for crying out loud), but puffed orange and purple in my face. That worked. It smelled of sugar, and just sweet in general. It's what every flower I had every stuck my face in as a child should have smelled like (Ken had lied about dandelions smelling good).
I sat up and scratched my neck with my leg. I was a cat. Sue me. I heard the jingling of my collar with my one good ear. That was still a fairly new thing. I had never had a collar before. I pawed at it enough to see it was a leaf charm on my collar. The same leaf that had been on my pin. Convenient. The nurse or whoever was still tracking me.
I gently picked up Lux with my mouth again, and he wiggled to a spot where he couldn't accidentally get stabbed by a tooth. Settled in, I set off again, sniffing for the smells of the Crocuses. They'd be happy to have their lost member back, and depending on how many, I should be able to smell them. It wasn't as good as being a dog (I'd leave that to Skyguy, a la wolf dog chasing his own tail, thank you very much), but it was better than blindly following the path.
I finally, faintly, picked out a sweet smell. Well, that was my best chance. I was over being in this forest, with the birds (which were now dead, but still), the willow thing, and the vines. Lux needed to get home, so home was where we were heading.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes: Go and smell the roses. Outfit & Cat Form
The snargaluff was rather unconcerned with the orange meatsack's personal affairs. Really, whatever the critter was busying itself with now, the twisted stump could not be bothered to care. It was completely consumed by the task of consuming, and the large, dead birds were far easier to eat than a squirming, fuzzy, struggling thing. What little effort there was to be wasted on endeavors was currently focused on gathering up the dried up meat husks in a pile for later, knowing full well that they would not all fit n the snargaluff's feeding hole.
The path before the little orange creature narrowed, and the terrain under foot was steadily growing more and more treacherous. As it followed with its nose, the sugary, sweet smell was getting stronger in heavy, oppressive jungle air. Even weighed down with humidity, the scent of flowers was strong as the small critter came upon a hill, and, once it had reached the top, the reason was fairly obvious.
The jungle trail had widened slightly and stretched out nearly level before it was obscured by hanging branches. The path, however, was far from clear. Flowers. Five-petaled, and growing in clumps together on thick, lush greenery, carpeted the path for a good fifteen yards. Though it was hard for a creature of limited color vision to tell the exact hue of these blooms, it was quite noticeable that some were light, some were dark, and others were striated between the two. They were quite lovely, actually, and their scent was a strong, sweet, and pleasant thing that hung in the air.
Far off -- beyond the flowers, and through the intermingling foliage obscuring the farthest reaches of the path -- something glinted in the patchwork sunlight filtering through the jungle canopy. From such a distance, and with so much ground coverage, it was not easily distinguishable, but it was certainly quite strange. Like the glint of something metallic, it was oddly misplaced in such an organic environment. As the trees swayed above, the sunlight flashed off the unknown object again. And again.
Staff Note: Katelyn has been granted an single round lenience due to interference being dropped by the previous player. All terms for range of success are bumped up by one number, and any affect it has on the time of her completion will not count toward her scores.
I was so sick of the forest...jungle...whatever the politically correct term for the task setting was. If I had been human trying to get through all of this, I most likely would have twisted an ankle by now.
But as my luck had it, I could be a cat. And cat-me was extremely less likely to twist an ankle than human-me. I could also smell better, and as I sped up towards the 'happy' smell Lux had given me, I found flowers! Yay! But wait...this wasn't right...
'These are not the flowers I'm looking for, and I've got a bad feeling about this..' These flowers looked like Happy Crocuses (at least...I think they did...colors didn't work too well when they were reds), smelled like Happy Crocuses...but were definitely not Happy Crocuses. It did not feel right. I nudged a flower nearest to me, hoping it would budge.
Nothing. 'Well great. Freaking perfect. These aren't the right flowers.' I should have realized some flowers smell like the smells Lux gave off (I never want to smell one that smelled like Lux when he was stressed). No way this could be 'the heart of the jungle,' either. It was too quiet, and it didn't feel like 'oomph, here I am, heart of the jungle.' What the heck was I supposed to do?
Maybe I needed to go back to human. It'd hopefully give me more clarity of thought, without all of the cat characteristics and thoughts coming in--what was that?
I had just been about ready to sit down and morph when something shiny caught my attention from the corner of my eye. 'Shiny? What would be shiny out here?' Sure, some things in the jungle could appear shiny, but not like that--there it was again!
It was hard to stay interested with the 'shiny' so far away. It was tiring to be a cat now anyways...and Lux would probably appreciate not being in the teeth of a domestic predator as well.
I dropped Lux and put my paw down on him again. Even though they weren't Happy Crocuses, I still didn't trust these blooms to not take the little flower. I closed my eyes and felt the cat part of me return to the back corner of my mind, the smells dying down (but not quite. there was still a huge amount of sweet smelling flowers around me) along with the noise, to be replaced by my ringing ear. Eh...I could ignore that.
I scooped up Lux in my hand. "Okay...my bad. That plan was a bust...but there's a good view." A good view and I still had absolutely no clue what the bloody hell I was doing.
But there was the shiny thing...which was flickering and flashing more than my cat self had picked up on. Now that? That was more likely than these flowers I was currently crouched in. Only one way to find out. "So...not trusting the vines will stay away...so no convenient pouch for you. But I need that hand."
Screw it. My hair had been shot straight to hell as soon as I'd stepped into the arena. I didn't care about my appearance, there was no prerequisite to be pretty during this. I pulled the elastic out of my hair, stretched it with my free hand, and carefully slipped it over Lux and my other wrist. He wasn't going anywhere. And there's no way he could be swooped without me feeling it.
"Okay, new plan. Smells didn't work. Now, time to see what the shiny thing is." I'm not even sure why I was saying that out loud. Probably reassurance more than anything. Lux didn't seem to have an opinion on it. Carefully picking my way through the mess of flowers on the path ahead, I set off at a steady jog as soon as the last fragrant flower was behind me. Had to make up ground, had to make up time that I lost chasing after smells.
Tag: Interference/Staff Notes: Welp, that didn't work. Plan C! Outfit & Cat Form!
A cat? In this jungle? The Fanged Geraniums were a bit puzzled. Oh, sure; they were foreigners too. Transplants. Taken from an elderly witch's garden in Greenwich after biting one too many neighborhood children. That's how they recognized the little orange feline for what it was. But, whether or not they were naturally grown in this subtropical jungle, they knew nothing like that was supposed to live here. Plants talk. A lot. Really, the forest never shuts up. So, yes; when the first five-petaled flower was gingerly nudged, it didn't know how it should react. Therefore, it decided not to react at all. It was a cat. What harm could it be?
The Geraniums thought absolutely nothing of the tabby cat which stopped and sat in their little grove. That is, they thought nothing of it until it was a tabby cat no more. What the devil was this sorcery!? Cats turning into humans? And this was not at all agreeable! A human, with her big, trampling feet! Why couldn't these people just leave them alone? Nobody but their dear old mother witch had ever had any sense. What a saint, that woman who fed and nurtured them from seeds. Nothing like this murderous bink! Well, okay... She was only trodding on them a bit here and there, but it still was not at all favorable.
Grumbling to themselves indignantly, most of the Geraniums simply hoped for the girl to pass through as quickly as possible. However, one plant at the far edge of the grove of blue and white flowers lost its temper and lashed out with its fanged seed pod as the girl was lifting her foot from a trampled leaf. The teeth sank into her left ankle in what was sure to be a rather painful bite, drawing blood just as she began to take off at a jog. Having such a grip, the pod was torn from the angry Geranium and remained latched by the tooth to the girl's ankle as she ran down the path.
The trail narrowed sharply a few paces from the flowerbed, and the girl found herself jogging through more hanging leaves and vines than clear space. Here and there, a curious tendril reached out to feel the stranger, touching her odd outer covering and strange wispy plumage, but nothing more than a light touch. With the mother tree so close by, they would not risk making their guest feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.
The farther the girl jogged down the path, the more glittering silver she could see. Silver, and red. The shimmering bark of the large, squat tree ahead was certainly a vision as it scattered the light that trickled in from above, and it's crimson, heart-shaped leaves which the light filtered through cast the sizable clearing in a warm, red glow. A crop of brilliant orange could be seen nestled close to the thick, silver roots of the tree. Flowers. Crocuses. As the girl entered the clearing in which the tree stood, the little crocuses began to bob and dance happily, letting off several happy, bright hues of pollen, and the flower strapped to her wrist wiggled with excitement. Oh, she had done it! She had found them!
A thick vine snaked around from the left of the tree, raising the large closed, pink bud at its end like a rearing snake as the guest approached. Leveling off above her eyes, the bud burst open and let loose a gusted flurry of multi-colored petals, and they showered down on the girl like confetti. She should rejoice! Unlike that last fellow... Poor, injured man sprout. Though, to be quite fair, this one looked to be a little worse for wear as well...
The branches of the large silver tree creaked overhead, and its heart-shaped leaves gave a pleasant rustle despite a clear lack of wind. Two of the three guests had made it to her circle, and that was good, but another was still out there somewhere. For now, though, she would tend to those present. First things first...
The sweet scent of buttercups began to grow strong in the air as a second trail -- much like the one which had sprouted back down the trail of the dark-haired boy -- began dotting the narrow path which the girl had taken to the clearing. One after another, the little flower bloomed down the trail and continued on well out of sight. If she listened closely, the girl might hear the rhythmic sound of another's catching breath from around the side of the great mother tree, coming from the dark-haired boy sitting between her roots near his bed of little yellow crocuses.
Judges will be by soon to review and score your task. You will receive information on your third task during the Beltane celebrations. Feel free to stick around the Heart Tree for a moment of recuperation, join the Hogwarts champion around the side of the tree (in his thread), or simply depart at your leisure.