Staring at the potion bottle in her hand, she was slowly growing to the realization that in fact, she did need help these days. Bandit hunting with her brother had been loud and often troublesome, but at least she wasn't alone. Ever since Vincent had broken both his legs, goofing off of course, she had gone back to their usual job ... only by herself. At first, she'd enjoyed the peace and quiet. Virgina's fighting style, as it were, was to keep afar, preferably stealthy, and load her prey with poison dipped crossbow bolts. Or if the case of silence being not golden did arrive, she had more than a few potions and tricks up her sleeves that would destroy any brigand in her path. Some said she was a terrible excuse for a hero at this, shooting someone in the back or blowing them to smithereens. But her brother wasn't any different, he rushed in recklessly, swinging those two blades of his like a dervish. Anyway, bandits deserved no nicety and 'fighting with honor' (as a noble's duelist for hire, once chastised her) was pointless with their ilk. If you couldn't hang a bandit, might as well dispatch them as fast as possible. Now that her brother was still many months into recovery, and her own coinage running low, she traveled alone instead of her usual motive of operating. It was hard to hire an extra swordsman or mercenary to travel with her. Perhaps it would have behooved her to seek assistance in one of the taverns back where civilization lie far behind her. Gin had made quite a few allies amongst the dwarves, not out of any drinking games but everyone who was anyone knew that they appreciated a good brew. The young alchemist was not a bartender by trade, but alcohol was just another mix of ingredients like a potion. She knew how to make all sorts of proof and even extra little affects. Gin had never met a dwarf who did not enjoy being the first to taste the latest Reinard's Ale. The lass was certain she could have traded some booze in lieu of coin.
Alas, her attitude was currently 'I don't need help from anyone I can take care of myself.' Due to her last venture resulting in her hired hand turning on her (it came to her attention that the bandit gang's leader had stockpiled enough extra coin to buy her out. So John Stringer the mercenary had decided he had received a better offer.) In the end Gin survived, but was forced to turn tail and run to avoid losing her head to some backstabbing traitor. Now the brigands were haunting the merchant trails of northern Avalonians, and little miss bandit hunter could not complete the job. With all that, it was time to leave the territory for awhile, rebuild her reputation with small jobs, and when she had the funds, energy, and assistance she would then return North. Everything had been going quite well, actually, before she came to Dalruan. Being not her first time here, she had no qualms going out into the wilderness, the mines, and currently, the desolate lands. What she had not counted on, however, was the orcs and their pet. Of course Orcs, she'd encountered before. Some were cunning and others just plain stupid, both were dangerous and she hadn't any positive encounters with them. Still, Gin was not the type to judge based on looks, but her interactions with their kind had been so negative that she was instantly suspicious when one came meandering down her path. As a reaction, she ducked into the nearby thorns and ruin stones.
Generally speaking, that would have been the end of it. Oh sure, there was the possibility that she would have popped a shot at the orc as it passed. In fact, she had just begun loading a paralysis poison - infused bolt to her smallest crossbow ... When something very sharp, and very heavy, crashed into her. Also very fuzzy. But this was no cuddly puppy looking for ear scritches, no, it was a damn demon of claws and death. Any other occasion would elite some journal scribbling and plenty of study, as she hit the ground she noted the claws, and elongated fangs, of tawny fur and dark spots. Some unknown feline which she would have loved to have taken notes on and researched later. However no was not the time nor the place, indeed her priority was to struggle to reach the bolt she'd been drawing, instead of launching it from her crossbow it was plunged into the eye of the beast. While its yowled and yanked backwards, claws raked the alchemist's belly. Were it not for the leathers she wore beneath her coat, she surely would have been gutted. It still hurt like hell, naturally, but her life was not forfeit in one fell swipe. The great fanged cat fell on the ground, twitching, then went still. She wasn't sure if she had killed it, or if the paralysis merely went into affect, but Gin wasn't taking any changes.
There comes a time in every vigilante's life when they just gotta run like hell. So that is exactly what she did. Orcish curses followed after her, two or more she wasn't going to look back to check. Blood seeped through her clothes an the leathers, and she knew the cat had wounded her to no small degree. Every step and every breath ached, and she was certain caused the bleeding to continue more freely. Still, there wasn't any time for much first aid, so she rifled through the pouch on her belt and chugged the first healing elixir in hand. The familiar ridged glass alerted her to have chosen the correct potion, her bleeding slowed to a trickle. Nothing was a miracle cure (she still had her limits with the potion making), the wound still stung and was not truly closed. A styptic would be necessary to be applied for that, but she would live ... for now there was only the running. Tossing the empty bottle over her shoulder (hey, maybe the broken glass would slow down any orc which stepped on it) Gin wheezed, and tried to find shelter. Something anything had to be here somewhere.
This place could only be described as awful. Completely awful.
For several days he'd wandered through here, clambering over and under rocks, stumbling through thick, thorny vines and caking himself in more dirt and dust than he ever imagined he'd see. The Desolate Lands, they called it, at the foot of the Yseulte mountain range and on the edge of the Kingdom of Dalruan, home of the Dwarves. The place was, quite frankly, a mess and he couldn't see what there really was left to fight over. So why it was so heavily patrolled, he couldn't fathom. Those patrols, in fact, had been quite the nuisance for Horatio ever since he entered this place. The Dwarves didn't take too kindly to outsiders being here and, given the place's history, were a little prone to jumping to conclusions. Still, he'd figured out enough tricks to remain out of sight for now and he'd rather not get on their bad side. At some point he'd need to be friendly if he was to chase the ultimate prize: charting all of their subterranean passageways and their well-fortified mountain cities.
So far he'd found little here of interest, it seemed, but that didn't matter too much. The important thing, to him, was simply that he'd managed to map so much of it out so quickly, at least roughly. It would take many hours back on his ship to do it properly, but his memory was good enough that he only needed these rough sketches to rebuild the whole picture in great detail.
As he sat in the shade of a large boulder, sipping from his canteen, he gazed over his notes and sketches, before looking at his compass. "Little bit further north next, I reckon," he said to himself, glancing quickly up at the sun. It would soon be at its highest and he didn't quite fancy being out in it too much at that point, but he'd only have to rest in the shade for an hour or so. It would be perfect for a short food break, he thought, before heading ever onward. If he was lucky, he might find some battle sites, but truly he would just like to be out of here as soon as he could. As much as he feared being caught by a Dwarven patrol, there were worse things out here, especially those which came down from the mountains. He shook his head, as if to shake the thought right out of it, then set about placing the lid back on his canteen and packing away his things. Another push on before luncheon and all would be-
Horatio paused. That had sounded like a scream or a howl or...something. Wind noise between the rocks, maybe? He doubted too many would be so close. No, there it was again and it sounded...horrific. With more urgency, he bundled his things into his haversack and threw it over his shoulder, before cautiously clambering to the top of the boulder, laying flat across the top of it and scanning the surroundings for a sign of anything. There was nothing. Yet now there was a third sound and this was much clearer. In the distance, he thought he saw a shape, but couldn't quite be sure. Reaching to the pouch at his waist, he pulled free the beaten old looking glass and extended it, placing it up to his eye and looking out towards the horizon. Much clearer now, he saw a young woman of small stature, scrambling through the dust in his direction. What was she doing out there? Had she made the noise?
His question was answered very quickly. No, she hadn't made the noise at all. Behind her came two or three orcs, he couldn't quite tell, chasing her hard. Though it wasn't easy to make out even through the glass, she looked wounded and her movements seemed to confirm that. This was not good, not at all. Horatio's first instinct was to run and his second to hide. He'd seen a few small cave entrances not far from here, perhaps one of those would be safe. As he made to run for it, his conscience caught hold of him and he gave another glance back towards her. She hardly stood a chance against those orcs, but then what could he do that would be different? He wasn't even armed! Hesitating at the base of the huge rock, he finally sighed and headed for another boulder nearby, part of a group of several with some nice cover behind. Patiently, terrified, he waited. He could hear the hurried footsteps getting closer and closer and, peeking out, he could see the tan coated figure approaching. Swallowing hard, feeling the looking glass and pack both digging into him as he pressed up against the rock, sweat dripping down his face and his back, he closed his eyes and inhaled then, as she appeared from behind the rock, he made to grab her, hoping to pull her into the little crevice he'd placed himself in and out of the trail before her pursuers captured her. It was times like this he could only wish he was more dextrous and nimble.