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Task Name: You're not gonna go far, kid!
Tier: 1
Location: Little Garden
Crew, Team, or Personal: Personal
Description: Rookwood's fellow revolutionary has, for whatever reason, decided to make a run for it with the little cargo he had salvaged. Time to chase him down and ask some questions.
Enemy Details: Just the environment and a conflict of interests. No actual enemies though.
Boss: No

A jungle never truly sleeps. Once the sun sets the nocturnals take over, and when the night ends the diurnal reign commences once more. You shouldn't let the silence of the night fool you, for there are great many things to find should one pay attention.
Right now it was nighttime, the sun having set mere moments ago. And in the shadow of the early night, an unusual rustling made its way through the forest. A man, who was carrying a bag, was running. Another man, who was assuredly container-free, was chasing him.
"Merry!" Rookwood called out to the man to get his attention. There was no response. This should have been obvious if one knew anything about Merryweather. Rookwood did know, but at times like these even the most obvious facts tended to hide in the background, right behind "This is unnecessary", "I really hate leaving Saint back there" and "My lord can that boy run".
"Listen!" The lad didn't seem to listen. It was hard to tell, especially from the backside, especially in the dark. It was hard to tell anything from anything, actually.
"Sto-" Rookwood almost tripped over a plant of some kind, but somehow managed to stay steady, in both his balance and his pace.
"Stop, dammit!" Merryweather did not stop. The ever-increasing heat and moisture on his skin started to erode some of the obviousness back to the forefront of Rookwood's mind. Thoughts like "I should save my breath", "We're making an awful lot of noise" and "I don't get anywhere if I can't stop him right here, right now"

"Oh... kay..."

Merryweather had had a noticeable head start, but it sounded like he had managed to close the gap somewhat. It would be close. It was now or never. Rookwood's breath wheezed in as much as it could before he started his final push.
"roaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAA" All of the air was getting pushed out of Rookwood's lungs as he accelerated on his sore legs, tensing up his whole body for the effort it was about to express. Miraculously enough, started to catch up to his shadowy companion. And as soon as he could see him well enough...
"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!" Rookwood leaped forward right at his companions back, tackling him with all of his weight and downing both of them.
And so, in the dead of the night, in this foreign jungle, the two fools laid on the forest floor, cursing the other for the other's foolishness, wheezing for air and too tired to move a muscle. Rookwood was the first of the two to gather up his battered lungs.
"Whydja... dhoit...?" It was that obvious fact from before, having seen its chance and resurfacing itself once more in the aftermath.
"Hiiis... hiiisaenemy..." Merryweather gasped and gulped from the effort. "Thas why"
"Figures". He didn't say anything for a while. He had to rest, and think. Figure out what had been made of the situation they were in, and how to fix that.

Or that would have been the case were it not for the unusual rustling. The slow kind. The muted kind. From ahead.

[505 words]

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"quiet, stay quiet". Rookwood did his best reassuring his companion about the sudden situation, hoping that the muffles he let past Rookwood's hand weren't audible. He clearly wasn't taking this sudden intrusion too well. And the small rustles continued.
"something's close, just stay still" Thankfully he seemed to be getting through, as Merryweather stopped resistance and joined Rookwood in laying low, as still as possible. They waited for a relief with baited breath. They waited for what seemed like the longest time either of them had waited for anything; an unnotable feat for the young Merryweather, but an impressive accomplishment for the old Rookwood. They waited through a reoccurring loop of quiet, rustle, then quiet again, until at some point Rookwood noticed that they were getting quieter and quieter by the moment. Only once the only noticeable noise defaulted to the small whishes of wind  among the treetops was when Rookwood felt safe to breathe deep, and to let Merryweather do the same. They both sat up slowly, brushing some dirt off of themselves as their minds calmed enough for a muted conversation.
"what were you thinking? he came back for you, he's not gonna backstab us"
"he doesn't know. or he might. what's to say he won't have us questioned?"
"he will now."
"might as well go up to a sea king and ask for a lift"
"look lad, that attitude will be the end of you"

A small wind brushed alongside the top of the jungle.
"we should find shelter"
"yeah... yeah, we should". The two got up from the ground, decided on a direction and started to make their way quietly through the jungle in hopes of finding a big rock, a large tree, or anything else that might make a makeshift shelter. Rookwood didn't know why he was the one in the lead, but he didn't really question it either. The time for pure instinct was over, and even a facade of order would be an improvement to its alternative, chaos.
The two sore, tired men made their way through the primal land, stopping at any small noise and laying in the ground at the big ones. For a while it was uncertain if any process had been made by this pointless wandering in the darkness, but they regained their hopes as soon as a new sound filled their ears; a sound of running water.
In their excitement they picked up their pace, but as they got closer they quickly realized that the sound was getting a bit too loud, a bit too overwhelming. Luckily, the pair managed to stop just in time.
They had arrived to the edge of a ravine.

[435 words]

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"How's it looking?" Rookwood grunted at the remark. His hands were already full with the task at hand, and while it was an innocent question it did make his concentration falter. And when you are suspended over a ravine by rope, you are going to need all the concentration you can possibly get. Rookwood scanned his surroundings once more before making his way back to safety.
"There's a cave. Around 10 meters or so below the edge." He sat down on the edge, loosening the knot around his wrist and shook it about to make it feel less like dying. "Probably deep enough for shelter, as long as there's nothing lurking there..."
"You think you have enough rope?"
"Yeah... there should be enough..." Rookwood's murmuring clearly  caught Merryweather's attention, as there was a sudden follow-up.
"You sound tired".
"Well, you know..." There was a small pause, and even Rookwood figured that taking so long to form such a simple sentiment was an answer by itself. He continued regardless. "All of this nighttime exercise, you know. Takes a toll" Well, that and being in his mid 60s, but that wasn't relevant at the moment. He started reeling the rope and figuring out how to do this; putting knots to make the climb easier, and deciding whether to use both ropes or just one, until finally deciding to keep the other one ready just in case. And Merryweather was...
...well, Merryweather leaned silently against a tree in contemplation. Or that was the assumption at least; in all honesty, Rookwood never was quite sure as to why that young man would have so much to think about. A matter worth of inquiring about in the future, for sure. But for now...
For... now...
" it just me or...?" But as soon as Merryweather turned his head as well Rookwood knew that it wasn't just the delirium of the tired. Noises from the forest, once again, except this time it was loud and abundant. It wasn't clear whether this mass movement was done in deliberation or in panic, but what was clear that they were getting closer. It was clearly coming from afar, but it was hard to tell exactly how far.

"They're not gonna run us over, are they?"
"Animals aren't stupid. They wouldn't just run towards a cliff". Rookwood's hands didn't seem to believe this, as they started to work faster on the rope.
"You sure?!"
Sounds were getting closer. Sounds of the lower area of the forest getting trampled were becoming more distinct, and it didn't sound natural. They could risk it by staying on this small clearing near the cliff and just hope for the best, but Rookwood had deemed Merryweather's comment to be reasonable; he wasn't sure, and in this part of the world a known danger was always preferable to an unknown one.

"Done!" The announcement was said with confidence, if a bit hurriedly. The rope itself was more or less done, as while Rookwood didn't quite dare to take the time to make some finer tuning, it would still function as indented. It wouldn't be a problem.
No, the anchor was the problem. There weren't any convenient anchor points nearby, and making sure that the spike wouldn't just blob off or break off from the cliffside would have been necessary. Perhaps if it was just Rookwood he would have dared on a more dodgy descent, but Merrywood likely didn't have much experience on this kind of stuff. That was the problem.
Fortunately there was a solution. But it was an unfortunate one.

[581 words]

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Rookwood tied the anchoring end around his own wrist, throw the end down and quipped at Merryweather. This'd have to be done quickly or they'd both get endangered.
"Climb. Now!" Merryweather should have protested at this point, but instead, he merely went silent for a brief moment before heeding to the command and got over to the rope. He gave Rookwood a quick pat on the arm and started his scaling at a reasonable pace; in other words, as fast as he possibly dared.
The duo's panic seemed to become more and more justified by the moment, as the noise steadily swelled in size. Rookwood was almost glad that there wasn't enough light to justify peeking behind himself every now and then, as focusing on being an anchoring point from his arms was proving to be challenging enough. He had to admit that Merryweather had a damn steady footing, and overall seemed to be doing pretty well.
Steady... and slow...

Rookwood was starting to get unnerved. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the animals(?) were heading towards this way. He was sure that he heard a tree fall down. And in his nervousness he had started to face away from the cliffside, hoping to see movement of some sort at any moment. But as the situation was getting this close it was almost necessary to do so, just in hopes of gaining those few extra seconds that'd help him live through this.
Or he might just kill both of them due to his panic. Either or, really.

Something rustled out of the forest and rushed its way into the clearing. A weight was lifted from Rookwood's hands. He drove his other stake at his feet as he gently leaned off the edge, his one hand still holding the new rope while the other had found its way to the original's stake. This was the hard part.

Upon coming face to face with solid rock surface Rookwood drove the stake on his hand into it. It didn't sink deep enough to stick, but deep enough to keep grazing its surface (with an awful screeching sound) as Rookwood practically slid down the rope. In other words, it sunk just deep enough for this to work.
The original rope was all knotted up, so the descent would have been slow enough to give the anchor a chance to disconnect. A fast descent would mitigate that, but at the same time he'd have no actual means of stopping his descent nor could he react in time should the anchor fall off. By slowing it down with the other stake, he could at least...


Something screeching just fell past Rookwood. He felt that it was in his best interest to keep his reasoning to himself until his feet were planted firm on the ground.

[460 words]

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The two sat together in the cave, listening quietly to the ruckus above. Panic and chaos were at the core of it, but for what reason would remain a mystery. Whatever it was, it was enough to get some of the more unfortunate... somethings off the cliff.
"Did you see what it was?" Rookwood decided to ask from his companion, referring to the thing that screeched past him on the way down. All he got from Merryweather was a shrug.
"Must have been a lizard of some sort. It wasn't all that big, but that's all I could tell". Silence ensued once more. What it was didn't seem all that important right now, as long as they were safe.
"I wonder if the lad is safe..."
Rookwood sighed at the though, and laid back on the rocks, crossing his hands at the back of his head as to not feel too uncomfortable. It wouldn't be a pleasant sleep, far from it, but it would be sleep, and that much was enough. Time for some thoughts, too; as tired as he was, now was the time to process the situation.

Sebastian Saint were to be left at his own devices. It was unfortunate, but it was the only option that made sense at the moment, although not for the reasons that Merryweather had provided.
Saint was a capable young man. He could handle the beasts that roamed here, that much had been proven. Merryweather, on the other hand, while certainly not incapable, didn't strike as a person who could survive on such a dangerous island all by himself. That much had been proven. But choosing Merryweather meant leaving Sebastian behind...

If Rookwood was allowed to be perfectly honest, it was a shitty situation and he'd rather find a way to get both of these good men in safety; too many young lives left to waste during these times of strife. Stupid details always got in the way. Stupid little details, dancing around, making things ill-fit, shaping things bothersome, complex shapes where they don't belong. No easy, never easy, just some... stupid...

"...and while I didn't fine any firewood, I suppose some vines around here would work as... Rookwood, you listening?" Merryweather finally realized that his planning was receiving none of the usual feedback. Rookwood's snoring answered his question, and he sighed himself in response. "More work for me then".
He stayed up working on his idea until he finally fell from exhaustion as well, joining Rookwood on his well-earned sleep.

[410 words] [TOTAL: 2391 words]


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Fun little journey, well over the required word count for a Tier 1 task.

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