[17:14] They didn't know how to help – at least not in a sleep-addled state. It had taken all of Nadani's will power not to demand someone stay and ponder the problem. She couldn't honestly say they hadn't properly considered their options. Nothing in their body language had suggested they didn't care. Nonetheless, consensus was to let the Dawn Watcher ride it out, to move to a greater distance, and to hope that they could regroup later.
For a while, she had considered stubbornly returning to the scene on her own, simply to keep the Dawn Watcher company, simply to disagree with fate's grim verdict. A childish part of her briefly considered finding the specific source of the toxin and destroying it out of reckless vengeance, but she did not even have an approach that would let her find the makers of the trap.
Let him ride it out.
Dusk was beginning to creep in on the group, gathering themselves to migrate themselves and their few belongings through the forests, and with the gradual dimming of sunlight came a certain clarity. It became easier to think with her eyes no longer aching from the bright environment.
"Could you find the people who told you about Serrata if you had to?" she asked Idarago. It wasn't quite a continuation of their conversation – that had tapered off too far in the past for this to class as anything but separate – but by content it fit.
[18:52] He startled slightly at the topic but moved his head in negation. "My parents are nomads. Maybe I could track them down? But it would take weeks." Idarago fluffed his feathers uncertainly. "From what I know it doesn't do long term harm. Serrata. And I was told it doesn't corrupt, but... I don't know if ryrhakenema all agree? He has to ride it out. If he can last until the sunset after this, he'll be okay."
[19:46] The words peppered Nadani with traces of restlessness. Again, the urge to double back surged up in her, or to demand to know why they couldn't simple take the Dawn Watcher along if it was that benign, but she knew the answer. She focussed on rolling up one of their tarps, slipping her muzzle in under the resulting construct to rest it across her shoulders, then gave her muzzle a frustrated shake. She wanted to barb 'You don't have anything other than rumours to go by!', but most of kavkem knowledge was transferred by way of – highly reliable – rumours, so she would only undermine her own authority with the argument. "If the Nayabaru don't find him first," she muttered, displeased. "What if we're wrong?" she said, a little more clearly and plaintively. "What if it's not okay, what if he needs our help?"
[14:54] "How can we help?" he countered. "We don't know how to cure it, all we can do is keep him in the shade and let his body fight it. And we've hidden him as well as we can." Idarago fell silent for a while, picking at his claws nervously, before adding: "My mother said Serrata is a curse. That first it makes it so that others crowd around you, to bunch up a group. And then that you see kiikama and they howl for the Nayabaru. And finally they come to snatch you all up."
The younger watcher paused. "I'm not sure how the summoning bit works, but she was very insistant that anyone poisoned with it had to be muzzled and hidden and then you watched from a distance so the Nayabaru couldn't sneak up on you."
[15:54] It doesn't, Nadani wanted to snap, but there was little use in highlighting that muzzling someone if it was the Howlers doing the shouting was probably not necessary. Ago was bright enough to know that some stories were a useful metaphor, not to be taken literally, and if he hadn't figured this one out yet, he would later, once circumstances returned to some measure of normal.
Despite all evidence, she found herself wondering with dread just how literal this one was. If there was something to the poison that would attract kiikama, it was hard to measure how much danger the Dawn Watcher was in if he was left to himself.
She finished collecting scattered tools, then stalked across to the others, waiting for the last two stragglers without really being aware of her environment. Her shoulders shifted under the rolled-up tarp, trying to nudge it into a more comfortable position. Reluctantly, she yielded to the narrative: "And there's nothing Athechelt can do to ward him?" It was a stupid question, of course – Athechelt was a ryrhakenem. While he was closer to any mythological truth than any of them, he could only talk about it; he wasn't any more magical than any other mortal.
[16:15] The younger kavkem considered that. "I... don't know? I was always told that if I was ever victim the best thing to do was hide. Get into shelter so that they can't see you, and have someone muzzle you so you can't cry out in fear or shock or pain. That you can survive them nearly stepping on you as long as the kiikam doesn't know where to find you."
Idarago gazed upwards into branches above them, seemingly seeking something before looking back at Nadani. "My mother was poisoned with it once," he revealed. "She hid up a tree. I don't know how she managed to stay up there, but she said that she made noise and it got followed and there was a Nayabaru underneath her close enough that could have pounced on its neck but that she didn't move
and it didn't find her. So I hope that if we've hidden him well enough, they won't find him either."
[16:46] That 'if' was a tall order. Piling leaves and light branches onto someone was quite different to hiding them into a tree, but she wasn't sure how they could have lifted the Dawn Watcher up into the tree, even with joint effort. Maybe if they'd improvised some kind of pulley system – but it would have been risky, and if there was any paralytic effect to the toxin and he fell he could have damaged himself badly by now.
[16:47] Still. Idarago seemed sure enough. If nothing else, it was that utter lack of panic had a soothing effect on Nadani. He was tense, but he was not freaking out about it, not visibly dithering between terrible options as she was.
"Since we're moving again," she reasoned, her tone heavy with sadness about the situation. "...it would still be best if we look for those better-equipped with knowledge about this toxin, if only to protect ourselves." She glanced to Idarago as though to warily dare him to disagree. "Can you advise on a direction?"
[17:33] Idarago visibily hesistated and ran his claws through the feathers of his mane in absent, nervous preening. "Maybe?" he answered at last. "At this time of year... I think a little further up the mountains, and heading mostly sunward? Some of the others might know better or have more recent news."
[17:52] Nadani followed his description with her eyes as though he had physically pointed that way. She considered it for a moment, not quite able to shake her sceptical disgruntlement altogether – but it was as likely a direction as any to yield useful information. Perhaps they could stride in that direction as a group – or perhaps someone could be sent that way. Someone had to Watch the dawn, though, and if she supposed it was Idarago that would Watch the dusk, the responsibility for the other shift naturally fell to her.
[17:53] It made for a prohibitive detail if she wanted to take the quest upon herself.
"Thank you," she finally said, subdued. "I'll talk to Athechelt about our options." She tipped at Idarago's left shoulder with her snout and gave it a curt, apologetic rub, wordless, before withdrawing and heading across to where the ryrhakenem was talking softly with some of the builders.