'Souls RPG

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pNPC: Atica Songthorn [+590]
Long ago now he had feared that were the losses of his past known to those in the pack, he would see his loved ones turn from him. Such notions had been mostly dismissed, if only by the trusted circle and his Howlbound. Those who accompanied the Songthorns through their grief had the necessary insight. Today, with the painful resurgence to worry about, feverish labor was not Bellad’s only refuge.

The other was family.

Even as they grew to consider new sorts of questions, even corner their parents with sudden persistent curiosity, still Rohan and Atica retained a certain innocence. They had not seen Bellad’s breakdown at the sight of the fire, but they knew well enough that their father was worried about something. To some extent, that was all that they needed to know. Atica anyway as she trotted by his side, occasionally hopping over a precarious root jutting out of the ground or circling a tree.

Both she and her brother now clearly had the appearance of young wolves, having grown into the shape if not the size just yet. Bellad was in Roaming Paw, less of a towering figure. Unlike Ierian he could mitigate some of the size disparity just by shifting.

- Dad?
- Little Light.
- When will I walk on two legs?

It wasn’t the first time she asked. His daughter seemed much invested into the matter of shifting and couldn’t wait for the first time it would happen. When she was smaller she would actually try to balance on her hind legs, more often than not fumbling onto her backside in the process. There was an unspoken promise never to bring that up in public.

- Soon, Atica.
- You know when all kinds of things grow, - she mused with a pout like he was holding something out on her, - but not when I’ll have Daft Hand?
- Deft Hand, - Bellad corrected, hanging on to hope that her slip of the tongue wouldn’t serve as foreshadowing, - or Optime.
- Two legs! When will I walk on two legs? There are places to be on two legs!
- And you will. Soon. – Her father nudged her with his nose and she smirked, bouncing to the side playfully.

However impatient, it’s not as though nature could be stopped. Inevitably she would come to grow further and get her coveted chance to walk in Optime. Though putting on an air of knowledge, Bellad still wasn’t without his doubts and anxieties. Yes, young children asked these questions. But now it was his young children asking them. There was still something bizarre about the notion every now and again. 

This was little more than an excursion through the forest between Haven and the City Square. A way to stretch their feet. A way to test Atica’s budding abilities of a tracker. The girl set the pace, occasionally forcing Bellad to switch from a slow gait to a more animated trot.

“Don’t stray too far.” Bellad warned at one point, looking around. Scents in the air became muted as fog rolled in. Wreathed in it like a veil, the surrounding forest looked like a realm bewitched.

“I’ll be fine!” He heard Atica say. Then silence.

“Little Light…?” Bellad called into the fog, not entirely certain just when he lost all sight of his daughter. “Atica?” His voice raised. Something or someone rustled leaves nearby. “Atica?” Still no reply. Was it just the wind? Could the fog have consumed sound together with sight? “Atica, answer me!”
The mists left a sour taste in her mouth. There were strange memories hidden in the swirling silver, half-remembered from a lost time. She had forgotten herself during their first autumn in the new land, her illness had spiked a fever that had her losing her sense of reality.

She had felt lucky to have made it back at all. Sometimes she could still feel the familiar ache in her side, an echo of the wound left by the war. It all seemed so long ago now – sometimes she struggled to place herself in that safehouse with the other women and their children.

As she walked Alma followed along behind obediently, the long folds of her robe hiding her small dark feet. The little dog had proven useful while preparing for their prayers. Her sister, Martha typically hovered about Rand with the sort of over eagerness that came from youth – though Vodeva was certain that they were all of a similar age.

There were flecks of brown and silver in Alma’s coat, the crimped fur about her ears dashed with slivers of white.

Vodeva had found her that morning near the burnt out cabin as she wrung her hands.

”Are we almost there?” Came the little voice through the cloud. ”I’m cold.”

Vodeva bared her teeth, her gaze cutting like a guillotine.

"Enough."

Both ears pricked forward at the sudden calling - a deep booming voice which Vodeva recognized immediately.

Alma trembled in place, smoothing the fall of her hood with her hands before sliding behind Vodeva. The mists blotted out most shapes, hiding trees and landmarks that would usually make the journey much easier.

When the Healer emerged from the mist Vodeva dipped her head to the High Lord, her eyes narrowed subtly like a cat.

"Bellad -" She waved a hand before her face as if to clear her vision, "I'm sure your child is fine."

Alma hummed lightly as she materialized out of the mist, "We can help you search?"

(///) | NPCs: Alma Elanor (cNPC)
ooc [+333]
It felt not unlike wanting to burst out of his own body. To break into a furious run. To scour the entire forest. With every shout of her name met with no reply, it was all the harder not to dart off his spot. Stillness felt stifling, silence – suffocating. He just barely held on to his wits against a growing fear.

No. He had to think straight. She couldn’t have gone far and if he randomly ran off, then surely he risked only growing the distance.

“Atica?” Much like before, no result. He started feeling a biting chill on his back that made him bristle. It was as though a new shadow was looming behind him, aiming squarely at the back of his neck. A chill like the blade of a guillotine pictured plummeting at him, cold edge freezing to the touch even while it remained suspended.

Growing more and more restless with a fear that was swelling more horridly than even that of a fire, Bellad alternated between more calls for his daughter and attempts to sniff at the ground. There was her scent here, and there. Wasn’t this where they came from? Then at what point did his scent and hers split? When did he lose sight of her? Had he already bolted from that spot?

Vodeva’s greeting wasn’t anything jarring in its wording or tone, yet Bellad froze in place, panting, eyes wild. “What? Vodeva? What are you…” Actually, what did he care what she was doing here? “I… I can’t find Atica. She was right next to me and now she’s… she wouldn’t respond.” The normally calm healer was completely oblivious to the shivering edge in his voice. When Alma, for now a stranger, materialized out of the mist, his head whipped about wildly to face her.

“You… Yes. Search.” He grit his teeth and let in a hissing breath like it was meant to calm him. It didn’t. “Please. She can't have gone far. I must find her.”
Alma hovered as if she were spectral, her figure in and out of focus as the mists swirled around her. Vodeva cleared her throat, taking in the heavy gaze of the worried Father as he explained his situation. It was the sort of worry that she had always hoped would force its way into Iomair’s expression, but somehow he had managed to maintain a thin veneer of nobility.

"Atica." She repeated, her brows rising slightly.

Iomair would have placated her. He would have diverted her attention long enough that she would have allowed herself to wander down a different path.

She could feel rage churning in her gut. "Alma!" She barked, commanding the little one forward, "Make circles around us - call out if you find something." She growled, "Anything."

Vodeva clasped her hands, "You're certain she was here?"

Alma slid off to begin her search, her dark face turned into the breeze. The mists enveloped her quickly, and she was lost beneath their silvery tendrils.

Vodeva flared her nostrils and glared out into the fog as if to force it to dissipate. It remained unrelenting, dancing about their feet as they called out loudly for Bellads daughter.

"Atica!" Vodeva shouted, "Atica!"
(///) | NPCs: Alma Elanor (cNPC)
out of character text here [+349]
He’d never experienced this kind of fear before. The regular attentiveness of the healer became narrowed to an overextended focus, the sort that was bordering on agonizing. A few times, Alma’s emergence somewhere to his side nearly startled him. A few more it roused false hope. Then he learned, and adapted, and was left, for some time, with nothing but the trio of voices calling out to her daughter.

“She was here! She was right here...! Wasn’t she…?” His voice sank by the end of the phrase. Had he already trailed off from the spot where he last saw her? No more time to talk to Vodeva or her companion. Bellad put his muzzle to the ground. He drew in the cool mist and the traces of scents. He was a skilled tracker. He could track his own flesh and blood.

If not then why have the skill at all?

Alma crossed his path again and he growled. Unwarranted, perhaps, but his frustration flared together with his fears. From an animalistic form of communication alone he told her to search elsewhere and not trample over the tracks he was investigating. He hoped they were tracks. He hoped they were hers.

Every now and then, between navigating over treacherous roots and ducking branches, he would call out to his daughter again. Elsewhere, Vodeva was doing much the same. Why was she not responding?

An enormous tree seemingly rose out of the mist out of nowhere, though most likely this would have to be attributed to Bellad’s poorly moderated sense of mind. The scent he’s been following no doubt lead to it, intermingled with it. Unexpectedly, he smelled not only bark and not only his daughter.

He could also smell blood.

Bellad’s eyes slowly grew wide and he lifted his head, only to find another eye, wide open, weeping, painted in blood upon the tree, staring right back at him. Bewildered, he stood transfixed by the sight.

“What… is this…?” He mouthed in confusion, stupefied by the nauseating combination of the scents of his Atica and the blood on the tree.
Every few steps Vodeva was faced with the memories of her own lost children. Solas had been gone for longer than they had been together. Indis had gone to The Citadel to forge a life for herself there – away from prying parents with a complicated relationship.

She did not blame her, but there were days she felt angry about the way her life had turned out that made her wade through the memories of her marriage when it had been good.

She understood the panic that Bellad felt and did her best to reassure him, though this proved difficult.

”Atica!” Vodeva levelled a look toward Bellad, ”We’ll find her.”

They had to find her.

Alma was uselessly spinning, awkwardly trying to stay out of the way but also assure that they didn’t miss anything.

”I’m sure-“ The scent of blood stunned her to silence, and suddenly Alma sent up a keening wail as a tree seemed to slide out of the mist. There were eyes drawn upon the bark, bloodied eyes that dripped and seeped in stark contract to the pale mist that surrounded them on all sides.

Alma was wiping her eyes, ”I-I can smell her.”

Vodeva reached to gently touch Bellads arm, ”We’re close.”

She growled at the display, ”This is foul.”
(///) | NPCs: Alma Elanor (cNPC)
Please feel free to powerplay anything in the mist. The two Songthorns are absolutely oblivious to all around them [+295]
With the strange painted eye staring him down, Bellad felt his fur bristle and his throat vibrate with the makings of a growl. “Atica!” He yelled out again, sounding more alarmed this time, as though the paint by which the eye had been cast upon the tree exposed him to new cruel possibilities in regards to his daughter’s fate.

Vodeva touching him nearly seemed to set him off, whipping about. “What are they, what are these eyes? My daughter was here!” He was certain of the latter fact, and tried desperately to untangle the smell of his flesh and blood and the gruesome dye of the tree.

Suddenly he heard it. A howl. High-pitched and disjointed like a stutter. The eye was forgotten in an instant. It was Atica and she sounded scared.

Bellad bellowed a hasty howl in response and darted off the spot without waiting for either of the women accompanying him. “Atica, I’m coming!”

He was oblivious to possible danger, and to more and more trees turning out to have eyes with which to follow his path into the fog. He broke branches, he left deep pawprints, he didn’t watch his breath. All until he saw a small familiar figure in the mist.

“Atica!”

“Dad!” The smaller wolf bounded towards Bellad and all but rammed into him, sniffling. At first the Songthorn neither knew why she was weeping, nor cared. All that mattered was that she was found and her little trembling warmth was against him. “I’m here… I’m here, Little Light…”

Surrounding the two of them, the mist gradually parted, exposing a clearing. From every which way, the weeping bloody eyes looked at them from the trees, surrounding them.

“Dad there… there was someone in the mist…” Atica’s trembling voice informed.
They found her, and Vodeva gasped with relief. The pale girl bounded from the mist at last, her tiny form colliding with her Father.–Shades of black and red mixed as the clouds began to part, the wind tugging at their pelts as they trembled and pulled their cloaks close.

”Atica! You’re alright.” the Priestess exclaimed, her hand pressed to her heart.

She knew what it meant to lose a child to the unknown. Indis and Solas had lived lives completely separate from their parents and it had taken Vodeva years to accept this. Solas had been problematic throughout most of his childhood, and having him disappear could have been looked at as a blessing in disguise.

Despite this she still ached for them the way every Mother did. They were pieces of herself that had been set free into the wind.

Vodeva reached for Alma’s arm and tugged her close for fear of losing her to the fog. Bellad hovered a moment with his daughter before padding his way towards her, their eyes reflecting the massive eye with gruesome effect.

As the wind continued, Vodeva gasped.

”I.. I can’t believe it.” Every where she looked there were eyes slathered in the trees – painted in shades of red and brown across the pale tree-bark. ”They’re everywhere.”

She abandoned Alma and trotted to a tree to place her hands against it.

”Who could do this!?”

(234) | NPCs: Alma Elanor (cNPC)