Description: Walter, chased by Hunters, is saved by a mud-based girl named Lump! The priest resolves to repay the favor!
It's not been a fun day for one Father Walter Bardsley. What started as a road trip to support a charity has turned into an encounter with some awful, awful Hunters! The sounds of a boat going full blast down the waterways and guns being fired while a man with a sword waves it dramatically, sending shockwaves of chi at the form of a certain priest.
And he's hardly able to hide his draconic nature right now. His priest's frock is little more than tatters on his chest, he's sporting a cut on his cheek hastily bandaid-ed, and those scales covering the well-muscled chest of the fighting-priest-knight are nice and scuffed up from dings from bullets. BLAM! Another shot sends the priest careening as he leaps from tree to tree, wings giving him just enough speed and lift to keep gliding away. Every now and then, he turns, and chucks a spear.
WHAM! Sword guy gets it on the noggin, and topples, out cold from the blunt thrown object.
"Sod off you racist bastards! I am not your trophy or easy meal ticket!" Howls the dragon-priest in a rather bestial tone. He's had it up to the wings with these jerks!
Save for the shouts of hunters and priestly prey and the resounding gunfire, the bayou is very quiet, the local wildlife having long since retreated from the interlopers. Presently, however, there's a faint groaning from amongst the cypress trees, one that can't likely be attributed to the near-still wind.
The hunters are paying little mind, of course - they're in pursuit of a dragon-man, after all. One stops to fumble with his gun briefly as the last spent casing in its magazine plops into the thigh-deep swamp-water, hastily pulling another load from his harness while cursing under his breath.
Suddenly, something reaches out of the water, grabbing the rifle and wrenching it from the hunter's hands with such violence that the man drops his ammunition and falls backward into the bog with a cry of surprise. The gun disappears beneath the water's surface, causing a burst of bubbles to rise in its place.
The man quickly recovers his nerve and lunges forward, fishing for the weapon on his hands and knees. It proves to be a fruitless endeavour, as neither the gun nor the thing that pulled it away are turned up by the hunter's frantic search.
In the meanwhile, a ripple in the bayou moves further along the waterway, rapidly approaching the next hunter in the group as he continues to fire at their quarry...
Walter of course is a bit busy to notice the timely assistance from an unseen hand. A well-placed shot by one of the men has Walter stumbling on the branch of a tree, spinning tail-over-head in the air as he desperately reaches for something to arrest his fall! He grabs a branch, but he's strong /and/ scaled. It threatens to snap quickly, sending his wings into over-drive. He attains more lift in a very comical, flailing fashion in a flurry of curses in his smooth british voice.
The owner of the ripple will find three active huntsmen left. One speeds off towards Walter, sensing a kill...up ontil the dragon-man pulls in his wings and nearly capsizes the boat by falling into it. A proper bar-brawl level punch to the jaw sends him out, and suddenly the man has a conveyance that isn't his own sweat-covered, gasping form. Thankfully he's taken a holiday or two fishing, so he knows how boats work. Amidst the remaining two boats firing off shots at him, the young priest keeps his head down. A chucked spear right to the engine has one puttering out in the chase. The last hunter is doggedly on Walter's heels, though, far better with a boat than the englishman!
"Bloody persistant...I /am/ a priest you know! You will catch holy hell for this!"
"Sh'up ya stupid scaley abomination!"
The ripple in the water's surface vanishes, a single large bubble burbling to the surface in its place. Whatever creature may have been lurking beneath the water would seem to have stopped - or gone too deep to mark its passage on the surface.
As it closes the gap with the priest, the last boat pursuing Walter jars suddenly to a stop, nearly sending its pilot overboard. Holding his gun with one hand, the man leans over to see what's caused the collision. Visible in brief moments as the bogwater sloshes is a dead, water-worn log jutting across the waterway at such a height that it should have been impossible that the priest's craft could have passed it unimpeded. As he reaches a hand up to straighten his hat, disbelief on his face, there's a 'bloop' from behind him, and he realizes that his gun is missing, a ripple emanating from the water on the side of the boat he was holding it near.
It would appear that the dragon is home free... until, out of the faint, perpetual swamp mist that hangs in the air, a silhouette appears, of a woman standing in the water...
Upon closer inspection, the woman appears to be completely drenched in mud, her facial features obscured by the willowy hair that hangs down to her waist. Very little else to distinguish her is visible, save that she has a pair of rifles slung over her shoulders and seems to have little to no other possessions on her person.
Such as clothes.
The woman's voice carries a very distinct Southern twang, though not quite local to those who could tell the difference.
It's only about a minute or two later as the last hunter loses his gun that Walter realizes he's safe. Indeed, this all has the halmarks of being a truly miraculous intervention!
Thus he's not exactly paying attention as suddenly there's a muddy woman in front of the boat. Walter screams, tries to turn the boat, but not in time! Poor Lump will get to have a skidding boat aimed at her as the priest desperately tries to kill engine and momentum. This doesn't really work out. The boat goes into a powerslide, and now Walter goes flying into the air, pitched over towards the swamp!
"GET OUT OF THE WAY YOU BLOODY IDIOT!" Screams the priest, as he scrambles for the mud-girl in a last ditch effort to either pull her into the boat or tank his own boat with the scales on his back and his wings. Either way, Lump now has priest and boat alike flying for her!
The dripping woman's head tilts a little to the side as the priest flies toward her. What can be made of her expression seems confused, either by the imminent danger, the priest's screaming, or the fact that said priest has wings. Perhaps it's all of the above. In any case, she doesn't get out of the way, whether due to stubbornness, poor reflexes or a complete lack of self-preservation instinct. As the dragon-priest collides with her, mud splatters everywhere, and both priest and woman collapse into the bog, the rifles hanging spinning in the air for a brief moment before dropping into the water as the woman's arms wrap around Walter reflexively.
Walter will find himself pulled under the swamp water, toward the soggy bottom. The woman proves to be extremely slippery to the touch. Somehow, both are able to narrowly duck the boat as it plows past. There's a sense of movement in the murky depths, and it would seem that the woman has disappeared completely.
If Walter should re-emerge, though, he will find her standing with her arms folded across her chest, weight on one hip, mossy hair dangling in her eyes.
"Now, it ain't my way to question a preacher-man, but ain't it a little rude to call a lady a 'bloody idjit' when she just done stopped the fellers tryin' to shootcha, mister?"
One moment he's trying to save a person from his own surprise. The next, he's beneath the murky swamp writhing in the grip of a slippery woman's arms. Then they're both back up, and suddenly he has a muddy woman staring him down while he floats in the swamp. By now, he's pretty muddy himself after their recent dunk. Blink blink. Wings flap. Tail wiggles. And he reaches out to get a twig out of both of their hair.
There's a long, awkward silence. Eyes close. Walter sighs deeply. "....I apologize, the rush of being shot at and your sudden appearance was most....unexpected."
Pause. He just kind of slumps his head a bit. "Let me start this meeting over. God's blessings upon you my dear! I see that it was a distinctly muddy angel that saved me from those racist wretches back there! You have my thanks. Erm, come, let us get us both out of this wretched swamp. Father Walter Bardsley, at your service!" Swim swim swim. He sloshes back to the boat, and soon, he's offering her a hand up into it!
"Yes, the wings are real. Yes, the scales are too. Yes I'm really a priest, and no, I'm not going to eat you. Right then, whom do I have to thank as my heroine this evening?"
Somewhere between trying in vain to towel himself off, and offering one to Lump, he finally realizes something important.
"Ahhh! Where /are/ your clothes? W...wait, I swear I was not staring, let me find you something!" Yup, he's now blushing horrifically.
While the priest may find himself muddied by the waters of his impromptu baptism, the woman is almost impossibly slick with mud, as though she's bathed in it for years. The water doesn't wash it away to expose flesh; it only causes it to slough and run and reveal more mud beneath.
Once Walter has finished his fresh greeting, the woman shifts her weight to the opposite hip and drops her hands to the sides of her waist. Fortunately (if perhaps not fortunately enough) for the priest, the slop coating her form gives her roughly the appearance of a Barbie doll.
"Well, nice to meetcha, Father Bardsley! Folks 'round here call me Lump. You reckon those hunters done thought you was a gator or somethin'? I ain't never seen a gator with wings, though!"
Lump looks Walter up and down with some appearance of awe as she climbs up into the boat - though how she can see him through her hair is a curious matter. Plopping down on a seat, she doesn't pay much mind to the offered towel - though she pulls her knees up to her chest when Walter makes an issue of her apparent lack of clothing.
"Oh! Well, it ain't that I meant to be runnin' around with no clothes, but they kinda got ate by the bugs 'n moss 'n such a while back. I mean, I figured I don't really need 'em anymore anyhow. And, uh, I ain't got any money for 'em anyway."
Slowly, things start to make sense the more he peers in his flustered way. There's something off about all that mud, and slowly the the dragon-priest's brow rises. At least with her curled up a bit he's not quite so blushed to high heaven.
"....Lump. W..well, fine. The pleasure is entirely mine." Reeach. He tries to take her hand for a palm-kiss! He mostly doesn't flinch at all that mud. Polite bastard, this priest.
A laugh escapes him as he finally seems to relax a little. "N...no, not a 'gator'. Dragon, or so I've been told. Every now and then you get...oddities such as myself. Not quite human, but close enough. And we tend to attract men such as those that were hunting me. I assure you, my head is worth more than a mere water-dwelling reptile's!" He almost sounds proud of it.
His head tilts. "My dear, I will be blunt. Part of me wants to turn this boat around to the nearest hotel, strike you up a hot bath and meal, and get you something proper to wear. But be honest with me. You're not exactly 'normal', are you? May I?" He asks, before trying to poke some of her mud-skin. Poke poke squish. Yup, he's feeling for texture, now rather curious.
The mud-lady doesn't seem to mind having her hand kissed, though she does cant her head in the same curious way as before, still studying the dragon-man. A thoughtful 'hmm' sound escapes her as Walter speaks, and her legs and arms cross over each other.
"You mean like a dragonfly? Well, I guess they got wings, too," she muses, swaying a little on her seat. "You know, I ain't every heard anyone who talks like you do before. You ain't from around here, are ya?"
Her head lolls back to the other side as Walter starts to poke at her side. The mud, when prodded, gives way easily to - more mud? It's a touch rubbery and flesh-like under the surface, but there's a sense that the finger could break through and go deeper still with only a moderate effort.
"Well, you ain't wrong about that, I reckon. I ain't been normal for a real long time. Hot bath prob'ly wouldn't do me any good. Probably just make me get real runny. An' I ain't sure it's worth ruinin' a nice dress by puttin' me in it."
She peers down at Walter's hand. "You're probably just gonna find more mud if you keep pushin'."
Squish squish squish! Walter looks a bit perplexed. This is, indeed, a mud-based girl! Of all the creatures like himself he's fought and come to know, this one could be the most unique. The priest's eyes are a bit wide during this entire process before he finally seizes on good old fashion manners!
Pulling back lest he disturb poor Lump too much, he blushes and wipes his hands. "W...well the sentiment remains, Miss Lump!" Sigh. He runs a hand through his hair, and his tail sways a bit. Cough. "Do let me know if there is anything I can do to repay you. You were most brave and resourceful!"
That said, he still smiles. "Erm...close enough, I suppose." Those wings of his flap proudly. Not quite as beautiful, but a lot more durable!
Ahem. "England, my dear! ...I assume you are not much of a traveler? How long have you lived in this swamp and had your...interesting form?" He inquires curiously. Reaching into a small cooler in the boat, he finds a few sandwiches from his former pursuers. One gets offered to Lump!
"Aww, gee, thanks!" Lump says with what seems like it might be a smile, though it's hard to make out her expression in any meaningful way. "I'll bet I could think of a favor a preacher-man could do for me." The mud-woman sits back in the boat, taking the sandwich she's offered and examining it curiously.
"Oh, England? I got some kin from 'round those parts," she drawls. "Or at least, I used to, anyways. I been to Mexico once! By accident. Me an' ol' One-Eye. Took us a long time to figure my way back here."
She starts chewing a mouthful of sandwich, sitting up straighter when Walter inquires as to how long she has inhabited the bayou. "Oh! Oh! That cowboy feller with the fancy truck asked me the same question, so I done figured it out! 'Cept he didn't stick around to hear it. I can't remember what the number was anymore, but it was a real long time. I was livin' in the bayou a couple years before it started happenin'. I didn't notice it much, on account of I was so dirty all the time anyways."
She turns her head toward Walter, swallowing her mouthful. "How long you been a dragon-folk for?"
Walter tries not to squint too much in figuring out her expressions. Mud is weird like that. He constantly fights the urge to towel some of that stuff off! Cursed cleanliness habits!
Not that he's not in need of a massive shower after this is all over.
Arms cross, and he seems to perk up just a bit. "Anything my dear! If it is in my power, it shall be done!" He proclaims most gallantly, reaching deep into his Sacred Order training. A pause. One leg crosses the other, and he raises a brow.
"...One-eye? That is quite the trip. A traveler you are indeed it seems!" The image of a mud-covered, hulking one-eyed man pops into his head. He shakes it to clear the errant thought.
Hmmm. "An effect of something odd in this bayou, perhaps? The Lord's work is mysterious and awe-filled after all." Clearly, she was meant to be a mud-girl. And seems fine with it!
A chuckle. "Since I was born, or as near as I can tell. I was raised by the Church, as my parents were..." His hand waves.
"Violent monsters. I was saved from that, by the Lord's mercy."
"Oh, right. My folks weren't too nice either," Lump says in a sympathetic tone. "I think near as I can figure they probably been dead a while back now though. I didn't think about goin' to a church instead o' down the river, but I weren't much for strangers back then anyhow." The sandwich disappears into the mud-person's mouth; one may wonder why she's even eating it, if she's made entirely of mud.
"Nowadays I kinna like havin' visitors, 'cept when they's runnin' around shootin' the place up to tarnation. Ain't never seen too many folk gettin' shot at, though. Usually they're just fulla the whiskey or somethin', makin' a big noise just 'cause they can. Or they're huntin' critters, which I ain't fond of neither."
Lump stretches her arms up over her head, making a sound that seems to be something like a yawn. As she does, her figure starts to melt, losing its form as she turns into a pile of mud on the boat-bench at an alarming rate. The mud flows across the deck to the other side and, just as quickly, yet in a way that still seems rather lazy, reforms once again into the shape of the young woman, this time sitting against the side of the boat, fingers curling around the edges as she takes shape in her new perch.
"Say, do you know how to drive a truck?" she wonders, somewhat abruptly.
Even if he knows how a negative parental relationship feels, he still crosses his chest for the woman's loss. Walter offers a small smile in turn. "It seems we both benefitted from the change, however." He offers. The dragon-priest doesn't seem too put off by the whole affair.
Sandwich gone! Walter peers at Lump, and almost asks where it's gone. Almost. That way lies madness, oh knight of the cross!
Ahem. "Well, I certainly shall not encourage shooting or being shot at. I have had quite enough of that sort of thing for a lifetime today." The image of being dragged under by mud-tendrils assaults him. Yes, best not to annoy the mud-lady in a swamp where it's so easy to hide!
From girl, to melty flowing mud, and then back again. This time, he very much /does/ gape. Bliiiink. Blink. Oh yes, the dragon is a little caught between weirded out and a little awe.
Her question brings him back. "What do you...a truck? Oh. Why yes, of course. Do you need a ride? And...do you have a truck?" Two and two fit together. Maybe that one man left a truck!
Grin. "Maybe you'd like to learn?" Yup, he can see where this is going!
"Boy, would I!" Lump is up on her feet in moments, muddy hands clasping in front of her chest at the dragon-priest's offer. "That cowboy feller left his truck down in the swamp and told me I could keep it! The tires was all stuck down in the mud, but it weren't too hard for me to get it out. Trouble was, I never drove a truck before. All I could do was figure how to get the radio workin'."
She moves around to the boat's navigational equipment, leaning near the wheel and placing a muddy hand on it while using the other to point toward a spot downstream. "I can show you where it's sittin' at, if you wanna show me how to use it. Maybe you can get whereever it is you need to be goin' an' then I can take it back once yer done with it."
Expression visible or not through the wet sheets of hair draping over her face, her excitement is almost inescapably obvious. "Ol' One-Eye could ride in the back! I bet he'd get a kick out of it!"
Dear goodness, this Lump of mud could be /adorable/! Letting out a warm laugh, Walter reaches over and gives the girl a good pat on the muddy shoulder.
"Then learn you shall! I'll have you know I was the best driver at our orphanage back home!" He boasts, before he takes the hint. Hand on the wheel, he revs up the boat's engine, and sets it forward slowly.
"Direct me, my dear. I'm far less sure with a boat than an auto." Vrooooom!
Walter thankfully is far less reckless than his pursuers, and they'll make an easy way back thanks to Lump's directions.
"Who is...ah, sod it. The more the merrier! I'd love to meet your friend. It must get lonely out here."
Log created on 21:16:09 10/18/2016 by Walter, and last modified on 15:01:11 10/23/2016.