• Another scrumptious episode of Bulbacast has been uploaded to YouTube. Watch it here. I hope you don't feel desserted after watching this one.
  • Hello all! The forum staff have introduced a new rule set. We've reduced the number of rules, made trick language easier to understand, and have hopefully simplified the rules to make understanding them easier. Please have a read over the new forum rules here.

Anywhere and Else *Me (Thestarjar) and That Guy*

lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Spindle's shaky fragments of speech managed to quiet into heavy breathing, and then nothing that was properly audible around the corner. The unfamiliar alligator turned to Bristlecone, though she still deliberately blocked the doorway with her position, and said, "I trust the two of you as much as I trust everyone else who lives in this town--which is to say, far more than these foreigners." Then, letting her voice descend entirely into a snarl, she turned back to so-said foreigners. "Where. Is. It."

Theida peeled herself off the ground, not even daring to brush the dirt from her underbelly, and chanced a tiny, confused, terrified glance towards Hother before trying to respond. "We--I didn't--Uhh?"
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
"Where's... what..?"
Hother berated himself for his choice of words. As if that, alone, didn't already sound guilty enough, of whatever accusation was being levelled at them, the crack in his voice hardly helped his cause.

"They don't have it!" Bristlecone insisted. "They don't have it, Sweetgum, because they didn't take it!" He seemed to catch himself at that remark, and clear his throat. "Verignoev Sweetgum; excuse me."
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
"Please--" Spindle said weakly, and took a moment to clear his throat, or perhaps just work up the nerve. "Th-they couldn't read it--I mean, not entirely, at least--a-and it wouldn't have any v-value to--I just c-can't imagine why they would..."

"Read--wait, the book?" Theida blurted incredulously, before quieting again quickly.

Looking between the hosts and their guests, disagreement from all sides, Sweetgum's composure hardened. There was a short moment where her legs seemed to bend, as though nearly about to crouch to face Spindle, but another glance at Hother and Theida kept her standing straight. "Regardless," she said, "They were among the last near it. If the Veripalex finds them innocent, then I will treat them as such. Only then." She turned to address Hother and Theida again. "You two will come with me. Now."

Sweetgum turned and moved slightly down the hall, but twisted her head enough to keep them in sight until she could be certain they were following. Her eyes paused on Spindle and Bristlecone. "Gnoev Bristlecone, Gnoev Spindle, I am not here for you, but I imagine you'll be summoned soon for testimonies if you don't come. It is your choice."
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
Hother found himself following obediently before he even realised he had stood; though his ears remained firmly plastered in the "I don't like any of this" pose, his tail hanging just as low, already feeling guilty for this crime he knew he had had no part in.

"Testimony..? Of course I'm going to testify!" Bristlecone wore a scowl that neither hid, nor particularly bore, that mouthful of alarming teeth of his, faltering and not-quite keeping pace with Sweetgum, apparently doubting his own conviction to keep up this act of defiance, never mind whether or not his words were even truly reaching her. A fleeting glance back from him, at that point, seemed to betray more concern for Spindle, though, than for himself, through his behaviour. He persisted, "These fine, young sprouts are our guests, and I won't have them slandered like this..!"
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Theida followed beside Hother, her tail curled behind her. She was too scared to defend herself or Hother, but she was immensely grateful for their hosts' support, even if she had little way of showing it--had they really thought these two were going to poison them?

Spindle hesitated, eyes screwed shut while he took a deep breath, and then looked up at Bristlecone and nodded. "W-We won't stand for this," he confirmed, taking his mate's hand and squeezing it. "I was--I b-brought them to the book in the first place, and I... I will be heard."

Sweetgum nods at the two of them in acknowledgement, and after sweeping her eyes over Theida and Hother one last time, she proceeds to lead them out of the house.
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
There seemed to be more confidence in Bristlecone's posture, at that gesture; and, in turn, that inspiration to keep pace with their guests inspired Hother to take at least some heart in the situation.
Yes, he acknowledged to himself, things appeared hostile; but he and Theida had honest-to-goodness support, and in the form of not one, but two upstanding locals who could both verify, even beyond his own irrational self-doubts, that neither of them had put a foot wrong since arriving here.

...He blinked heavily. The surrealism hit him, in that moment, that he placed more trust in the objective observations of total strangers than he did in his own memory of his own actions. That... Well, that was an internal turmoil best left to one side for the time being.
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Soon enough, they came to an area near the center of town, where a small gathering of anxious-looking locals spoke among themselves. The words faded to whispers as the party came near, and the crowd readily parted at Sweetgum's approach. One alligator didn't entirely fall back into the sidelines, though.

"Censor Larch...?" Spindle says, the words riddled with uncertainty.

"Ah, I'm glad you all could make it," Larch said, looking at each of them but passing over Hother and Theida entirely. His voice was only slightly above its usual flatness. "This is a truly awful day. I don't suppose the thieves were foolish enough to keep their prize with them..." He glanced at each of their hands, looking for someone who might be holding the book.
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
Hother's uneasiness returned in droves, his tail flicking at a rate sufficient to cause a quiet thumping noise as it collided with his thighs with each pass. Bristlecone, meanwhile, seemed reluctant to fully step forward, but he spoke up nonetheless.
"You're wasting your time, Censor." There was undeniable impatience in his voice, but not a total lack of deference; which, given the situation, Hother could only guess was probably appropriate. "They were with us ever since they left your company, yesterday."

The subtle half-inhale Hother heard punctuate the end of that remark suggested to him that, perhaps; just perhaps, the alligator's tone had emerged somewhat more defensive than intended, again threatening to upset that circumstantial deference he had noted before.
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Sweetgum narrowed her eyes at Bristlecone, and her gaze flicked towards the crowd around them: not a threat, just caution. Whatever amount of backlash she'd tolerated upon entering his own dwelling, it probably shouldn't be repeated with the same forcefulness out here, towards Larch.

"I can see you've taken a liking to them, but have some sense, please," Larch said, a hint of warning in his tone. He spoke just slowly enough for Theida to feel anxiously impatient between every few words. "Did you not sleep last night? They have been polite, but you... we do not know them. We cannot trust them."
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
The dog cast his eyes not-quite-frantically around the assembly, then back to their hosts, silently wishing that they would somehow second-guess what was running through his head, and stop him before he could offer--
"Then... can we... uh... prove ourselves..?" His tone was, in itself, even less confident than usual, fearing that he may have acted out of turn, contrasting with a dim and desperate hope, in the corner of his mind, that, if so, it might be forgiven on the understanding that he was one day shy of being totally foreign to the local customs. His own self-doubt insisted that, no, of course he had no claim to that kind of consideration; but, for once, the state of affairs being as dire as they were gave spirit to a second, heretofore unknown voice in Hother's head that told those self-loathing instincts to shut up and back down for once.
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
"Of--Of course," Spindle said, in the too-long moment it was taking Larch to respond, if he ever intended to speak at all. "W-We all value the truth." He looked around at the rest of them, earning a brief nod from Sweetgum.

Larch only turned to Hother, the first time he'd properly looked at either of the outsiders today. "Yes," he said, "The truth will indeed come to light."

Theida spared a grateful glance at Spindle but didn't dare look further up than that, even as she responded, inspired by him and Hother both. "Well, we're being honest," she said, with more confidence than she felt (and even then, it wasn't much). "So who actually decides?"
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
"I will be presiding over this hearing." The voice that spoke up wasn't without tenderness, but still exuded authority on every level. Its owner, a frog in formal attire-- even more so than anyone else present thus far, it seemed-- breezed past, as if her final destination at the centre of the gathering were her divinely-ordained territory. She cast her gaze across the assembly, coming to rest on Larch and his accused, adding, "For the benefit of these travellers: I am Veripalex Myrica. The accused and the complainant are to testify, under oath, regarding the circumstances of the case, after which any further deliberations, should they be deemed necessary, shall take place. Thereafter, I will determine a verdict. Is that suitably clear to our... guests?"

Hother found himself nodding before he had even finished digesting the programme of events; but, he mused, taking issue with it now would do very little to help their cause.
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Theida felt a momentary wave of relief at the prospect of one of the smaller species being in charge. Although she had seen rational evidence towards their equality, or at least knew that Bristlecone could support them if that wasn't the case, it was still nerve-wracking when a whole lot of big, scary-looking folks had control of her fate. Too much like home. And so she replied, with too-vocal relief, "Yes! I mean-- yes."

Larch stepped forward and pulled a small jar from his pocket. "Veripalex, should you find it acceptable, I have the serum for the oath already prepared."
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
Myrica gave a simple nod.
"The caucus hereby accepts the serum. Ordinarily, Censor, I would give you leave to distribute it as necessary, but since, in this case, you represent the complainant party, I trust you take no issue with this task being delegated to a neutral candidate?"

Hother half-inclined his head, casting his eyes towards their hosts. Too many fancy words, not enough getting to the point... and what was that jar supposed to be? Had his fears about poison been justified all along..?
...Surely not. They wouldn't just poison people during a trial, he tried to assure himself. ...Would they?
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
There was just enough of a pause that Larch's response might have actually been up in the air before he said, "Of course," and held out the jar.

It was taken by a frog who followed Myrica into the clearing initially, and he eyed the contents critically. "Looks potent," he mumbled, almost to himself. He produced two small glasses from his robe, seemingly ready for this occasion, and dispensed barely half a glass worth into each, in some maneuver that looked difficult to do with only two hands. Then he handed the jar back to Larch, and he held the glasses out to Hother and Theida.

Theida found herself wondering just the same thing as Hother. Even if their distrust was misplaced in Bristlecone and Spindle, it would take a hell of a lot more for her to believe that anyone else here wouldn't poison them. But it seemed like they weren't going to get out of this one. With a hesitant look at Hother, she took the glass clumsily with her tail and managed to down it before she could think it through any further.
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
The dog offered a conciliatory smile, albeit a weak one that, in no subtle way, betrayed his apprehension. Still, enthused by Theida's leap into action, and immediately feeling that he owed her a debt to keep up-- go down with her, if need be; any excuse to stop bad blood from forming, as was his way-- he also took the strange concoction, swallowing it before he could permit himself to think too hard about it.

Idly, he found himself wondering just what the purpose of this even was. It didn't seem to have had any particularly adverse effects... or any, for that matter. He felt just a little bit more aware of a passing breeze, and the ambient noise it brought through the trees along its way, but nothing more than that. Were the circumstances not quite so dire, he might almost have called the sensation whimsical. Quite why Bristlecone was watching with that look of stoic concern, Hother suddenly couldn't fathom.
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
"So, then," Larch said as the effects of the potion settled in, "You both saw the book yesterday, correct? And you decided to steal it." It was barely a question.

Theida squinted up at him, through the oddly sharp sunlight. She remembered seeing the book, and a slightly vaguer memory of wanting to take it snuck in along with the memory. She looked at Hother. "We saw the book," she repeated. "And I... wanted it. Did you want it?"
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
"I wanted..." He paused. At this point, it felt less like thinking, and more like swimming against the current of his own thoughts. "I wanted... to see it. To get a good look at it, close up..."
 
lost in the sauce
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
3,852
Reaction score
0
Larch looks at the quiet, expectant crowd, and then addresses them both again. "So, then, my suspicion is that you snuck out at night, and you stole the book. Yes?" Only at the end does it even slightly sound like a question, not that Theida has the presence of mind to be worried about it. His voice is so reasonable, after all. It all sounds entirely plausible.
 
thea ante hominēs
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
28,205
Reaction score
1
Hother's head inclined towards one shoulder. Why, so suddenly, was it so difficult to separate the words from the tone..?
"Yyyyyyy..?" The word only half-formed on his palate. He had just heard something, in a reasonable voice, putting forward an idea that... could have happened, yes. It was wrong, but that wasn't the question, right? A wrong assumption, but a valid one. Yes, it was valid. So... yes, then? Yes? "...Yes..?"

He raised both eyebrows and tried to form a sympathetic smile, as if asking, with his face alone, if he had done something worthy of approval. From here, Bristlecone seemed to exude an air of tension and impatience; but the observation left Hother's mind as quickly as it had arrived. Another gentle zephyr brushed by, stealing his focus aside ever so briefly, and that was that.
 
Top