'Souls RPG

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As the weather turned warmer, Nathan grew bolder not only in his dress, but his actions as well. 

The temperature crept up, slowly but surely, and Nathan immediately took it as a cue to shed the thick gator tunic he'd hobbled together on the journey north. He'd never been one for clothes in Bayou - but it had been necessary when the temperatures took a drastic drop and he shivered pathetically in the cold. 

But now the sun was shining, Nathan had a fat sack of fresh oysters slung over his shoulder, and he couldn't be happier unless Nazir suddenly showed up. He whistled a jaunty tune, one that he'd heard many times in his youth, as he strode through the woods back to camp. Landon hadn't warmed up to the oysters, and Owen -- well, still felt the spiders crawling all over him after one of their failed digging expeditions -- but Nathan felt too good to care. Maybe he'd stroke up a fire and throw a few of the shells on the smoke. It had been a long time since he'd had the Bayou spices, but the taste of smoke alone might be enough to warm his companions to the delicate, salty treat. 

Or not. And there would be more for him. Either way. 

As fast as he walked, though, Nathan still felt a thrum of quivering energy pulsing through him. He wanted to do something. Camping in the wilds wasn't the life he saw for himself -- Nathan wanted something more, and it had been a long fucking time since he'd had much more than a thin tent that barely kept out the cold. 

Perhaps it was serendipity, then, when Nathan's nose twitched with unfamiliar scent. That wasn't uncommon - these lands were shockingly populated compared to the wilds he'd seen coming up along the eastern coast --  but he couldn't shake the mischief in his blood. Nathan turned towards it, quietly as he could with his bumbling feet, and came across a freshly abandoned camp. 

Serendipity indeed. 

Stealthily as he could, Nathan sorted through the scattered items strewn near a barely-living fire. It didn't look like anything particularly valuable, but there were a few items of practical use -- a somewhat shiny knife, for one, and a few cords of good rope. He tucked these quickly into the sack (and apologized internally to the oysters, should they be damaged by the foreign invaders), and moved to stand when -- 

"Hey! Fuck you doin'?" 

Of course, it was too good to be true. But perhaps this was the chaos that Nathan so sorely missed, because the adrenaline pumped through his veins and a wicked smile curved across his face as he locked eyes with an extremely angry looking stranger. 

A smarter, wiser man would have apologized. Nathan was neither, and so instead he laughed, loudly and audaciously, before turning in the opposite direction at a flat out run. 

"Catch me if you can!" he thought, pealing towards the safety of the woods.
[x] // maybe i'm not your speed 
open for one! Nathan's running from a stranger after stealing a knife. Can go a lot of directions here!
After the incident with the border trap, Rosemary had given scouting a break. She had no more tools to grapple with what she had experienced than she did to make herself completely useful to this new society, and so she did all she knew how to do: lean into her animal instincts, go to ground, allow distance and time to come between her and the memory. Eventually, the days grew warmer and the shaded woods were welcome again. She resumed her explorations, avoiding the point where it had happened and coming often to the grassy edges of the Pictou.

There, she tested her limits by swimming in the water and crossing to other bank. She once made it all the way to the field of tall yellow flowers, their blooms the size of her head or bigger. That was the first time it occurred to her that she could run. Sometimes she was compelled to do just that, even though there was nothing caging her but her loyalty. This too was an animal instinct, bucking at tethers just for the sake of it. Without realizing, she was searching for the freedom she'd long ago traded away.

The world outside of Salsola was strangely apparent to her now; the woods on the other side of the Pictou were overgrown, far too dense for any meaningful activity. Nothing was cultivated. She could follow prey trails and lose them just as quickly. By the time she reached the field, grass all stuck in her braided hair and not a single catch to show for it, she understood once more why she stayed in the Kingdom. She had almost died for nothing.

That was easy to do out here.

Distant barking drew her attention.

As her new Family was learning, Rosemary could not help but involve herself in matters that were, perhaps, better off without her help. The danger was that she never thought of it that way, and it was for this pernicious lack of insight that she found herself now running towards the sound of commotion rather than away.

When she got close enough, she spotted an angry figure cresting the field of sunflowers, his gaze lashing the terrain like a deadly beacon. Dodging this was the thief, bag in hand, barreling full tilt towards the woods. Towards her woods. Her river. Her traps.

There was still a chance he might be caught by his pursuer or turn away before he crossed that line. But if he did cross the river, though...if he did, and the stars forbid, Casimir was there on the other side, with his quiver of arrows and flint in his eyes?

Rosemary didn't hesitate. She bolted after the man - a boy, really, no older than herself - and once more bowed to instinct by veering into his path, as if to herd him. If the timing was right, she'd go for the tackle.
(—) | NPCs:
feel free to PP whichever action is taken!
Nathan's heart beat in his ears as he hurtled through the underbrush, less graceful than he might have looked at a standstill. He'd never really mastered his feet, large as they were, and couldn't help the long-standing vision that kept him slightly off kilter. Someone with a bit more grace, perhaps a bit more finesse, wuld have been acutely aware of the racket he was making. Perhaps it would have done him well to slow down a bit - the stranger was a fair bit behind him now, though still clearly pursuing - and find somewhere to wait the man out. 

Granted, he also could have simply put down the stolen knife and rope and let the traveler have what was rightfully his. But Nathan took what he wanted, and he made no apologies for it. Today, he wanted that knife, and that was that. 

But, as he continued to dodge his pursuer, Nathan recalled for the first time that he was far from where he'd made his little home.  He had wandering spirit, and so the distance hadn't seemed consequential to him at first, but if he thought about it -- it had been a few days, at the very least, since he'd wandered off from his friends in pursuit of something tasty. This sunflower field was lovely in its own right, and the land had certainly been fruitful for gathering, but Nathan was more separate than he'd been in months. 

Before Nathan had too much time to dwell on this, though, he heard trampling footsteps. His eyes wheeled wildly to the side as he tried to cut away from the rapidly approaching figure - who was that? - and he barked in warning and alarm before -- 


A woman careened into him, likely intentionally thanks to the way he was effectively tackled to the ground. Nathan cursed, landing awkwardly on his shoulder and feeling something crunch underneath the figure's weight. "What the fuck?!" Nathan yelped, scrabbling for purchase as he pushed himself away from the suddenly new pursuer and onto his feet. He could hear the other one growing closer, still crashing through the underbush, and for the first time in this whole encounter, Nathan desperately wished Nazir were here. 

Maybe this girl - that's what she was, barely a girl - maybe she was also a traveler, with the man. "You wit bro back dere? He gone crazy I tink, be chasin' me for no reason. You gotta get him under control," Nathan gasped, wildly reaching for the first excuse that came to him. 

[x] // feel free to PP anything with the poor traveler! lmk if you need me to change anything.
Up and over they went, onto a bed of grass and something crunchy.

Rosemary did her best to keep a hold of the boy, but in the blink of an eye, he managed to wriggle free and get to his feet. Most boys had the decency to wait a heartbeat before fleeing from her.

Wisdom had taken a break from all of them that day, but for Rosemary this was the case more often than not. She hadn't thought about what she would do if she stopped him; if she had, maybe she would've realized how dangerous it was to involve herself in what was clearly an aggressive situation, and without backup or even a weapon. She would've made the same choices of course, but then at least she would've been prepared to grapple him properly.

She sprung to her own feet, ready to fight or give chase if that was what the situation next dictated, only to find him barking something at her that didn't make sense. Rosemary stared blankly, her hair unraveling into a tangled wilderness that rivaled the one they were in.

"What, me? I don't know that guy!" She was flabbergasted how anyone could misread her intentions or affiliations, but upon reflection she realized how tackling a person might send the wrong signals.

"I'm trying to stop you from, from—you can't go that way," She gestured vaguely toward the direction of the Pictou river, which could be heard humming through the trees if one listened closely enough.

What was he thinking, telling her to clean up his mess? She might have been lacking in wisdom, but she wasn't lacking in a certain kind of awareness — Rosemary knew mischief when she saw it. Stars above, she'd lived a lifetime of it. She jabbed a finger at him. "You need to lead him somewhere else!"

"Hey!" The barking had gotten closer. Rosemary whirled around to gauge the distance, and made a yip of surprise when she saw that the pursuer had started booking it. He'd be on them in a matter of seconds. "You two! That's my shit!" 

Swearing loudly, she grabbed up the bag they'd let sit in all this tumbling and yapping and took off with it. There had to be a good climbing tree, somewhere around there.
(—) | NPCs:
you good! xD Lmk if any changes here too bahaha
"Fuck you mean, I can't go dat way?" The words came out breathless and in between pants for air; he'd run faster than he realized trying to escape the pursuer. But Nathan wasn't stupid. In New Orleans, there were clans and families that were territorial about their tracts of land. Nathan and Nazir had been as well, though they'd never gotten old enough to truly feel sunk into the land as some of the older men did.  He'd spent so much time wandering up here, but with the exception of a brief foray into the coyote gang earlier that year, he'd avoided the packs. Maybe there was another nearby, one less willing to welcome traders.

Or maybe there was a giant bear. Or moose. Or northern alligator (he doubted this particular option, but it might be fun to wrestle with something.)

Or maybe this woman was just fucking with him, which would make sense considering she'd tackled him to the ground (and, somehow, this was not the first time this had happened to him since he'd settled in the North.)

Regardless, she wasn't with the stranger (who was quickly approaching -- Nathan could hear him crashing through the underbrush.) Nathan had to wonder if this knife and rope were worth it, but ---

Well, that wasn't the point of the whole thing. He'd wanted to cause just a bit of ruckus, and here he was.

Before Nathan could formulate anything that might resemble an intelligent plan, the traveler crested back into view and the woman grabbed the items - including his oysters! his good, tasty oysters! - and took off. As wisdom had abandoned Nathan entirely, he dashed after her instead of taking the opportunity to split away in a perpendicular direction. "Girl - what'chu doin' wit dat - gimme dat -- " He could barely get a sentence out, but he was grateful for the chase. It made him feel alive to hunt and pursue and just flat out run. It was in the genes.

The woman was visibly stronger than Nathan, and she moved quickly. Nathan dashed after her, a magpie after its stolen shiny treasure trove, and he did not give up quickly. But it was particularly obnoxious when he saw her begin to scale a tree with a lot less outward effort than it would take him. "Bruh jus' drop it, dis ain' dat serious, what'chu people be doin' all dis for?" he whisper-hollered, cautious to avoid bringing attention to them but thoroughly irritated  at the indignity before him. Nathan craved mischief, but he also thought he was entitled to everything going exactly the way he wanted.

This, unfortunately, was not going exactly the way he wanted. He'd have to go up the tree, or let the stranger take what was rightfully his. The choice was easy when Nathan framed it that way., and Nathan began to pull himself into the tree where the woman went. It wouldn't be easy, if he got up there -- she was larger than him,  this thing didn't seem particularly sturdy, and - perhaps most importantly - Nathan was not particularly graceful off the ground.

"I swear, kid, I'm gonna beat you bloody once I get my hands on you --" the traveler called, a bit distant now and audibly fatigued from the chase. Nathan, glancing over his shoulder briefly, couldn't make him out through the brush. Perhaps he would tire and decide that the items weren't worth it. Then Nathan could just pluck it from this strange girl and be on his way. Still, it wouldn't be smart to be within easy grabbing distance once the beleagured traveler drew closer, so Nathan - with the strength of any wiry, streetwise teenager - began to scrabble faster up the tree.

[x] // pp ok'd, let me know if anything needs changing!
“Later!” She barked at him. This boy was a mouthful of questions, and she was glad to be running fast enough to leave most of them behind. There would be time for explanations, not that she could explain much due to the rules of her society.

The oak tree presented itself like a gift, grand and leafy and oh so welcome at that overheated time of day. Plunging into shady reprieve, she stuck the rucksack in her mouth and scrambled up with all the grace of a newborn spider. There were a few lower branches with good heft to start, but it got trickier the higher she went, leaving just her experience to do the rest. Rosemary was a woman of extremes - there was no depth she wouldn’t plumb and no peak she wouldn’t climb - and it was in these moments that her foolhardiness served her well. Before long, she was up high and seated comfortably out of sight, and most importantly, out of reach.

She had snatched a bird nest on the way, and now picked through the spoils as she peered down at the boy who was tangling himself in the lower bramble. His complaints made her snort a laugh.

“What’re you doin’ all this for? That guy was pissed,” she called back. This reminded her of the bag, which she’d slung over a broken knob off the trunk. Rosemary set aside her snack and investigated this troublesome prize.

Oysters (that explained the crunch), rope, a worn out knife. “Sick haul.” She said. “But I’m not getting my ass kicked for this, so hurry up.”

Returning the bag to its spot, she proceeded in selecting for herself a nice big egg. She cracked it on the branch and sucked up the little treat inside.

There was a good chance that the angry Outsider would find them eventually, probably (they weren’t exactly inconspicuous, and the scents easy to track), but there were advantages to the high ground. She could throw things down to impede his progress, and he’d probably elect to wait them out (though with these snacks, she was sure they could wait him out). It was a lot of trouble though, and Rosemary didn’t want it to come to that.

In leading the thief (and in turn, the pursuer) on a detour away from the river, she had been marked as a co-conspirator, and would no longer be exempt from any bloody-beatings.

Checking again on Nathan’s progress, she began feeling restless. Incorrectly identifying his speed as a motivation issue, she held out a bright blue robin egg. “If you get up here before sundown, I’ll give you one of these.”
(—) | NPCs:
Growing up had its advantages -- Nathan certainly enjoyed the lack of accountability and general freedom to do whatever he wanted -- but it certainly made scrambing up trees a lot harder than it had been when he was small. There were plenty of large, sprawling willows and the like scattered around the Bayou, and Nathan and Nazir had climbed with the best of them. It was, after all, sometimes the best way to avoid an angry gator or a cranky old man who found himself suddenly deprived of his personal belongings. It was an even more effective way to avoid Mawmaw Sabi, especiallky since she'd long lost the ability to go anywhere quickly, much less up a tree. But Nathan had grown into a tall man, if a lanky one, and that came with at least some bulk and weight. 

He'd also tell himself he was out of practice. Survival hadn't meant tree climbing in quite some time. 

The woman, on the other hand, scrambled easily up the tree and commenced rustling through his stuff and taunting him with a robin egg. "Be faster if ya helped instead of talkin' shit," Nathan grumbled, focused now on scaling the tree even quicker. He hated losing. This felt like losing, and not at all like mischief. 

The tree was tall, and the deprived traveler was far behind him, but it wouldn't be long before the traveler tracked them both here. Nathan supposed he could stay there for a bit -- the stuff wasn't that valuable, and a smart loner would know that two on one was not a fight he would win -- but -

Well, there wasn't a ton of room up there. 

"Budge up," Nathan grunted, reaching the branch where the woman sat. "'N gimme one o dem eggs, sun's still shinin' girl."
[x] // sorry for delay and general bad :(