Cynthia faints, dropping the glass and keeling over. The glass shatters against the floor, spilling salt water everywhere - except it's probably not salt water anymore, because it's hissing and quickly evaporating into a green fog, blowing against Cynthia's face and waking her. The whole spectacle takes mere moments.
Meanwhile, the barmaid is hurrying towards a door marked "employees only" calling for someone named Tom.
Rose, the activist Cynthia came with, is ignoring her fallen friend (or at least drink-mate) and walking purposefully towards the door.
The singer Finn talked to earlier is cutting right in front of her, tears streaming from her eyes. Some of the patrons watch her go with a puzzled expression, others grimly. Some are too drunk to care about anything.
Bartleby bravely clutches his Equalizer and goes for the door, post-haste.
Finn Kovlovsky stares into the room - and seemingly into the distance - trying to process the scene and fighting with every ounce of will that he has to stop from rushing back to the apartment to paint.
(resolve+composure-2 circumstances=1 success)
Once he’s wrestled control of his own mind, he walks over to the woman that seems to have fallen over.
Cynthia Hawk wakes up dazed, remembering what she saw but… not knowing how to understand it. She looks around and doesn't see her friend Rose anymore. Perhaps it's better to leave and head home to think about it.
Finn Kovlovsky approaches her, leaning over very slightly.
Cynthia Hawk looks up at the man - or should I say, dwarf – leaning over her. She recognizes him – he’s the one she buys artwork from.
Yes… I think I am alright. Just had a rough day it at work.
(manip+socialize-3 Finn’s composure=3 successes on convincing Finn that she’s okay)
Why, uh...why're you on the ground? Need a hand?
Well..I think you can see that tiredness and alcohol don't really work together.
Well, be careful. People'll put shit in your drink. You, uh...you see anything weird in here just a minute ago?
Finn Kovlovsky offers a hand to try to help her up.
Cynthia takes the offered hand and climbs back up her feet.
(Looking at the dwarf)
I did see...Something, but it might have been the alcohol.
Finn Kovlovsky doesn't look like he believes that at all, but doesn't press the issue.
Cynthia gives the man a critic look.
Cynthia Hawk hopes distracting him, will make him forget about asking more about what happened.
Aren't you that artist that lives here nearby?
Nothing much, I just remember I bought some things of you. You looked familiar to me, it's the only reason.
Finn Kovlovsky chuckles darkly with a cough.
Surprised you recognized me, with how well I blend into a crowd.
Cynthia giggles, giving the dwarf a look over.
Mhm, you blend in so well. Most people don't seem to notice you.
Finn Kovlovsky rolls his eyes with a grunt.
You HAVE had too much. Look - you want someone to walk you home or somethin'? Or you plannin' to sleep in the booth?
I was planning to head home. Although it might be getting quite dark outside…
The barmaid comes back with a man - a handsome fellow, who without looking like the barmaid at all looks very much like her. They have a certain… sleekness to them. It's not in appearance so much as posture. They give the two patrons a suspicious glance.
Cynthia Hawk looks around the bar, trying to see if anything is out of place. Noticing that the barmaid is back with some else. And they don't really look quite friendly.
Finn Kovlovsky looks at the pair as they walk in.
You want somethin', or are you just gonna gawk all night?
The barmaid looks pointedly at the man, then back at her two patrons.
Alright. Which one of you kids triggered it?
Being not much older than Cynthia, this choice of word seems… interesting, you might say.
Finn Kovlovsky raises an eyebrow, as he's neither a kid nor does he remember triggering anything.
Cynthia Hawk raises her own eyebrow at the pair. What is she talking about, she can't know… Can she?
Just answer the lady. We don't want any trouble with the Beldam here.
Tell her to start makin' some damn sense, then.
Beldam? What do you mean?
The barmaid turns to the man, shaking her head.
They don't know, do they. Maybe one of the others triggered it. They're all gone now, though, poor sods.
Tom looks grimly from her to you and back, then shrugs.
Well. Little we can do, then, isn't it. What she wants, she gets, and there's little we can do about it.
He turns back to the pair, authoritatively.
It's high time you left. We don't want any trouble.
And he turns on her heels and leaves. The barmaid looks sad, and more apologetic.
I hope we're wrong. And that you'll just think of us as mad. Best of luck, either way.
Cynthia Hawk still has an eyebrow raised to the pair. Strange…
Finn Kovlovsky huffs grumpily.
Leavin' sounds like a fine idea.
Cynthia Hawk looks at the dwarf.
Shall we go, then?
You can do whatever ya like. I'm outta this place.
Despite seeming rather annoyed, it's clear Finn doesn't really want to leave - or at least, doesn't want to go home.
(shaking her head)
This place is not the best place for now.
(noticing that he doesn't want to leave)
Don't you want to head home after this?
Finn Kovlovsky slowly heads toward the door.
Cynthia Hawk follows the dwarf. It seems wrong but, he reminds her of her father.
Hey, if you don't wanna head home we can walk around for a while, or… This might seem weird, but you can crash at my place for the night, if you want.
Cynthia Hawk doesn't really want to be alone after what happened today, and being near the person that reminds her of her father might help.
Finn Kovlovsky stops and sharply turns on the cane, which looks more awkward than anything.
I ain't sleepin' with some drunk chick just because she buys some art. I'll take ya home, but don't get any ideas.
Finn Kovlovsky sharply turns on the cane again and begins walking again.
Cynthia Hawk sighs acting drunk before didn't help now.
She then walks to the dwarf and starts walking with him.
They exit the bar.
The moment Bartleby stepped out the door... He was assaulted. A multitude of furry bodies pounced upon him, pinning him to the... soft, dirty ground? He barely had time to wonder where the asphalt'd gone, though, as all he could see and hear and smell and feel was cats, cats, cats everywhere. They're clawing at him and wailing and - whispering...
Spin us stories! Hungry, soooo hungry...!
Even as they tear him bloody they keep demanding to be fed. Truth and lies. Stories. Feed them, or be eaten.
There was a lady, in a lake. Her dearest wish was to marry a man, because although she was a lady, she wasn't a woman.
So she sang a song her mother had taught her. A song that should be known, but not sung. But the poor lady had been waiting so long, and thought that it couldn't hurt to sing it, just that once.
And as she did so, there happened a young woodcutter. A handsome fellow, he was.
And when she finished the song, she found him there, staring at her, entranced. But the poor lady had never /seen/ a man before, and she discovered that she was terribly shy, so she hid in her lake.
As the tale goes on the cats become less violent, but they're still clinging to him like a second skin, purring deeply. It's getting hard to breathe, but he keeps talking.
But the poor man, over the agonizing days and nights that followed, realised that he could not get the strange lady out of his mind. He could not sleep. He could not concentrate.
And so he vowed to find the lady, and put his mind at rest, no matter the cost. The witch would pay. He tooks his daddy's best axe, and his ma's best biscuits, and set out one morning, to the lady's lake.
Now, the Lady of the lake was in the habit of getting up early, to wash in the dawnlight.
He crept up, and saw her in the light, and realised that she was no woman. So, as was the custom in those lands, he asked her a riddle.
What is green, hangs on a door, and whistles?
Now, can any of you lovelies guess what it was?
(strength+athletics=3 dice yields 0 successes)
Bartleby tries to break free from his hungry captors while they ponder his riddle, but to no avail. He squirms under his living fur-coating, but they have their claws in him, and he cannot get away.
You, you are the answer!
Tie you in thorns, nail you to the door!
Whistle, wordweaver, whistle…
(manip+persuation=6 dice yields 2 successes for making them solve the riddle)
Oh, but lovely little cats. A riddle is not fun if I tell you the answer!
Where's the chase if the prey walks into your mouth?
They step through the door, Finn first and Cynthia close behind, and... then stop. The door slams shut behind them. "Where's the chase if the prey walks into your mouth?" says a voice in front of them, as several shadows flee into the hedge of thorns that's rising high all around. The voice belongs to one of the people from the bar - that beggar who tells stories in the park. He's lying prone on the dirty ground, blood seeping from several tiny wounds.
Bartleby Johansen gasps for air and lies there a moment, before struggling to his feet and cursing.
Finn Kovlovsky grips the cane tight and steps back a moment.
Bartleby Johansen spins round at the sound.
CATS! Watch out! They're probably still here! Keep a story in your pocket!
Bartleby Johansen grips his stick and squints at the hedge with his one good eye.
Cynthia Hawk takes one look around and wonders where they are, and why they are there. She then notices the man; he is wounded. Before she can think of it she walks towards the wounded man.
Does anything else hurt? Except the tiny wounds you have?
Finn Kovlovsky scans the hedges and notices the woman walking toward the babbling man.
Hey, you crazy? Get back here lady!
Bartleby Johansen takes a step back.
I most certainly am not, dwarf.
(noticing the woman hovering about him)
No, just the cat-holes.
Cynthia Hawk looks back at the dwarf.
I am a doctor! And this man is wounded.
You're also drunk!
Whatcha gonna do, slap a band-aid on his face and stumble into the bushes?
Finn Kovlovsky narrows his eyes
Cynthia looks at the 'cat-holes'. They are small but they can still infect.
Oh, I’m not drunk; as you saw I walked in a straight line. Don't question my medicine schooling though.
Psh. Heard that before. Whatever - suit yourself. I'm gettin' outta this place.
I'll go to a hospital when I know where one is. Or where here is, for that matter.
Pretty sure there wasn't so much... greenery when I walked in.
The place, as it stands, is a rough path – barely wide enough for two and a half person, though it widens as it moves away from the door, through this thorny hedge-place. The door is still behind them, looking very much out of place. There’s no sign of the rest of the bar. The hedge itself is made of leaves and stems and buds of flowers… but there is also more thorns than in any other hedge, ever.
Why go to the hospital when you have a doctor here?
I heard that, dwarf! If we want to get out of here, staying together might be a better option.
Hey, why don't you both fuck off and stop callin' me that?
You are one. I’m not calling you giant.
Tell us your name, then?
Finn tries the door to the strangely absent bar. It’s locked.
Now, where the hells are we?
Bartleby pokes experimentally at the nearest bit of hedge with the Equaliser. The hedge doesn’t seem to care much… Though he thinks he heard a whispering and saw a shadow moving in there, but somewhat more to his down-side. Away from the door.
Finn Kovlovsky scoffs and throws an arm into the air in visible disgust.
You two wanna stay here and play doctor, fine. I'm getting’… the fuck was that?
Probably talking cats.
Talking cats? I do believe it was a bigger shadow. Whatever it was, it went the other way, away from the door. I rather not go down that way.
Well, it’s the only way forwards. So I'm going to see what's going on. Shall we?
(rolling eyes and mumbling)
Talkin' cats? And I thought I was messed up…
Look, whatever this is, it's not funny. Get us out of here before I call the cops.
Cynthia is having a feeling, without quite knowing why, of having been there before. Or, while maybe not quite that, she feels a… familiarity to the place.
You overestimate me. I'm as stuck as you are. Unless you think I can build a forest of thorns in a moment.
And if you can call the police, please do so.
Also the fire brigade.
And whatever else you're entitled to.
If you wish to call the cops, I still have my phone with me.
Although I have a feeling, that they can't get here.
Frezak: NO SHIT :p
Finn walks over to the woman.
Call 'em. This is ridiculous.
I ain't gonna be part of some sick ...forest cult bullshit.
"Forest cult"? Why would you even say that?
Cynthia Hawk looks around the place, it looks familiar in a way. Like something from a dream. How… strange. She shakes her head and looks to the dwarf. She then starts looking in her bag for her phone. Finding it she tries to activate it. But it falls dead.
Great, the battery is dead.
Of course it is.
As Cynthia’s about to put the phone back, the display blinks. Buzzes. Then she receives a call.
Cynthia Hawk looks with wide eyes towards her phone. It's dead, so how does it receive a call?
I better take it, it might be someone that can get us out of here.
She presses the green button (no iPhone for you) and puts it hesitantly to her ear.