'Souls RPG

Full Version: Dodging bullets with your broken past.
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Set in Saint Croix Highlands. Tali is in her Optime form.

Battalion was fairly certain she would return to New Caledonia soon to pledge herself to their pack. Initially she had thought she would like to meet the other packs that were not the Gang. The Gang would clearly not want her, but there were other places that might be of interest. Casa di Cavalieri had been the most likely other option. From what she had been told of Salsola, she wouldn't fit in there. The Thistle Kingdom had a reputation and it was not the kind of reputation that would lead to her success within the pack. She was too unaccustomed to lying and vying for position. She'd probably end up dying of an anxiety induced heart attack there. So the only real viable options locally that were packs were Casa di Cavalieri or New Caledonia. She had already met and liked New Caledonia, so why bother going anywhere else?

Before she returned, though, she wanted to gather things to bring to (what she hoped would be) her new home. Assets. Things that they could trade or use. Things that would show her worth to them. They hadn't asked that of her, but it was what she felt she had to do. They needed to see that she was an asset always, not a liability. That she was there to work hard and prove herself as valuable. Of course all pack members contributed once they entered a pack, but she wanted to show before she entered that they didn't need to give her too wary of an eye. Because she would come to them already contributing. Even if they didn't accept her - and gods above wouldn't that hurt - she would give them whatever she had prepared as part of her petition.

These thoughts spun around in her head as she wandered through a new area, on the lookout for anything of interest. She was spending her time near areas that used to be inhabited by humans more lately, as there were sometimes more interesting goods to be gathered there. Bat had found a couple of old pieces of jewelry last time she went looking around one. They were... fine? She wasn't really sure what made jewelry good or bad, to be honest, but they looked like they'd be shiny with proper care. Presumably someone at New Caledonia would like them. She didn't care much for sparkly things herself. They made you too obvious to prey.

Today, though, she had found something that was very valuable to her. Blueberries. Her dark ears twitched atop her head in delight when she saw the berry bushes growing rampant. Blueberries were her favorite and she didn't find them often enough. Usually because someone else had already eaten them. Here there was quite a bounty of them, though, untouched so far by anyone else at all. Tali smiled at her good fortune and plucked a few, tossing them into her mouth. She savored the taste of them, warm from the sun and sweet on her tongue. Today was a good day.
With summer in full swing, the northern climate was almost tolerable. Nothing compared to the dry summer months on the Mediterranean, but it was far more present than the cold, damp months of travel that brought him here. Odysseus became practically heliotropic, searching for the best sunbathing spots, which led him to the rocky hills.

Sprawled lazily on a broad, flat stone, he basked like a reptile before snapping himself abruptly out of a doze. There was little way of shelter in this region, just some sparse clumps of trees and shrubs dotting the otherwise barren slope, and he didn’t want to drop his guard out in the open. Rising with a large, yawning stretch, the hound cracked joints and flipped disheveled dark hair out of his face, then gathered his meager belongings. He was conscientious in checking the sheaths he strapped to his person — if only to ensure that an errant, rusty knife wouldn’t poke into his side.

This settled, he picked a direction and walked.

This had been Odysseus’ way of doing things for the last several months. Pick a direction, walk, and hope that he ran into something like company or, better yet, true civilization. When was the last time he’d been in a crowd? A tavern?

He licked his lips, then sniffed the air. A breeze wafted a sweet scent of blueberries to him, and he licked his lips again. Nothing in this region compared to the rich and tangy fruits he’d eaten in marketplaces overseas, either, but he wouldn’t say no to nibbling on some berries as he approached his unknown destination.

When he saw that someone else had the same idea, Odie grinned.

“¿Qué tal?” he woofed, casual in speech — and casual in his approach, reaching out to coax a couple blueberries into his palm with dexterous fingers. It was a little bold to sidle up to another loner this way, but while he seemed focused on the harvest, he was watching for the wolf’s reaction out of the corner of his eye.
The sound of someone else approaching made her pivot slightly to look at who it was. Not someone she knew - that wasn't surprising - and also not someone who appeared threatening. She was surprised by his appearance, because it was so different. Stripey in a way she hadn't really seen before in a canine. It seemed more like a cat thing in her experience. Then again, she hadn't met all kinds of wolves and she was learning there were a lot more bloodlines to be mixed with that weren't wolf at all. Maybe he was one of those or majority one of those. Certainly he had a longer, narrower snout than any wolf she had met.

The air about him was casual, easy. Clearly he didn't find her threatening, either. That wasn't particularly surprising. She was small and eating blueberries. These things didn't really crow of danger. Looks could be deceiving, though, and Bat was certainly aware of him as she plucked another couple of berries to toss in her mouth. There was always the chance that he was trying to throw her off her guard so that he could take advantage of her inattention. Having little to steal didn't mean she had nothing to steal. And her life was always on the table as far as things to take.

He spoke and she wasn't sure what he had said. "Sorry, I ... um, don't know what you said." she said with an apologetic twist of her ears. Hopefully he spoke whatever the tongue was she spoke, as well. It seemed to be the most common dialect around here - everyone else she had met spoke it - but she was aware that there were other languages. Another area she didn't have any proficiency. She wondered if New Caledonia had wolves that spoke more than this language. Did the language she spoke have a name? How silly that she didn't know.

She continued gathering blueberries, eating some and putting some in her satchel. There was plenty to go around so presumably they had no reason to fight over them. Plus he didn't seem the fighting type. Right now, anyway. Right now he seemed rather casual and chill. Hopefully it stayed that way.
OOC » Sorry if there's not as much to reply to with this one! We can bring our lil buddy in your next post or mine? ;3

The she-wolf’s dark ears fanned back apologetically, but Odysseus shot her an indulgent grin. “How’s it going,” he translated, and popped a berry into his mouth. Blue juice dribbled onto the white of his chin before he licked his chops with a loud smack. Por desgracia, they’re not persimmons, but they will do. Tell me,” he said, glancing directly at the stranger, “are you from around here?”

It was very forward, but Odie had been bold from a young age. Everything from his quick-moving chatter, to his clothing (if belts and knife sheaths could count as a special sort of garb), to his posture tailored to take up extra space — it was meant to make him impossible to ignore. Any attention was good attention, as if validating his mere presence. Montague used to tease him that he was like a proud tropical bird, calling loudly and flaring his brilliant plumage. Others drew less flattering comparisons.

The other loner, by comparison, was more meek in appearance (if not for the ice of her eyes, stark against her countershaded mask). Where Odie stood in such a manner as to make himself taller and broader, she seemed to hunch. Was it anxiety, he wondered, or submissive habit? He licked a claw thoughtfully.
Say hello to my little friend! >:]

When he translated what he had meant, she felt confirmation of the fact that he was just a casual animal in general. Though she was cautious of the possibility for a farce, Tali didn't feel overly threatened by him. He was just eating blueberries too and chattering away. Her shoulders relaxed very slightly, though she remained deferential in her body language. Regardless of his good nature, she would make sure she appeared non-threatening always.

"I can't say I've had... persimmons, they sound interesting. Are they a berry too?" she asked, popping another blueberry in her mouth. She was occasionally putting some of the blueberries carefully in her satchel. They dried fairly well in the sun and made good field rations. Though Battalion preferred them fresh, there were only so many she could eat fresh before her stomach would start to hurt. So drying some for later was the best way to maximize her yield.

When he asked if she was from around there, she shook her head. "Nope. I'm fairly new to these parts, only been here a few weeks. I was kind of... from all over. I was raised in a trading group that didn't really stay in one place for long." she explained. "I'm Leon." she chose her least popular nickname because she was kind of sad it wasn't as popular. She really needed to use it more often.

Her ears twitched as a crunch sound drew her attention. Someone else was nearby? Her heart beat faster for a moment, worried that he had been a distraction and now someone was coming around to attack her. Instead, she spied a small furry cub ambling toward them and the blueberries. Ah, well, that was alright then. Just a bear cub, who was definitely not some sort of deadly assassin coming to attack...
“A fruit,” Odysseus replied. “They grow in warmer places than here.” He gestured somewhat derisively to the rocky hillands around them. “The taste is beyond description — if you ever have a chance to try one, you should take it. Just make sure it’s ripe.” He grinned, revealing teeth and tongue stained quite blue from the berries they were snacking on.

The other loner tucked some of her harvest into her satchel, something Odie had considered, but he knew he would have forgotten they were in there and have to deal with a burst of blue juice later. He had so little space that he had to prioritize other things; the haunch of a rabbit, for example, would give him more nourishment. Or, well, a bottle of blueberry wine would do him better than the fresh berries themselves…

The stranger explained that she was from all over, and Odie smiled, a little disappointed he couldn’t get a local’s insight. When she gave her name, his smile disappeared and his dark ears fanned out. “I had an uncle named León,” he said, brows raised in a wordless question, wondering if he’d made the wrong assumption. Perhaps the name was a quirk, or not gendered here.

Footfalls, not too heavy but quickly plodding, snatched the loners’ attention. One hand froze where it pressed berries to his mouth, but the other had drifted to the hilt of his shortsword as he followed Leon’s pale gaze.

A frolicking little black bear cub, trudging curiously toward the sweet scent of berries.

“Cute,” said Odie, grinning, until realization dawned and he added: “¡Joder!”

Startled perhaps by the curse, or by the Luperci’s appearance, the cub fell back on its haunches and let out one plaintive cry. That was enough.

Unthinking, Odysseus grabbed for his companion’s wrist and pulled Leon along into a run. Vámonos, before the mom shows up!”

Behind them were more footfalls, lumbering quickly in response to the baby bear’s cry — and these were heavy.
Persimmon... she'd remember the name. "I'll definitely keep an eye out for it in my travels. I think my favorite fruit when I can find it is strawberry. They are definitely very particular, though. Gotta get them at just the right stage of ripeness." she said with a flick of her tongue across her lips as she remembered the last time she had one. They had been a rare treat, especially in good shape, but she had enjoyed them when she found them. Perhaps she could plant some here, if she could find seeds. Perhaps New Caledonia already had some growing. Either way, maybe next summer she'd have a whole bounty of strawberries to eat.

Leon was hoping she'd remember the berries later. Either to eat or to work on properly drying in the sun for later. That was what she planned to do with them. Field rations, as it were. Especially in case her petition to join New Caledonia was rejected. She'd need food to last her the winter, then. Game would become scarce and plants even scarcer. At least she assumed this place had that kind of cold season. It seemed like it.

When he said he had an uncle named Leon, she shrugged her shoulders. "It's a shortening of my full name, Battalion." she admitted. "Maybe that's why everyone picks one of my other nicknames... it didn't occur to me that it had to do with me being a girl." genders had never mattered all that much to her. In her home pack, male mated with female to produce young. The strongest with the strongest. There were more complexities to romance, breeding, and mateships out here though. She found that some stuck to their gender roles rigidly and that what was between their legs was the most important thing. Others didn't care for them. Others were in between. Bat figured she was just... herself, whatever that was at any given time.

Her ears twitched as Odysseus's grinning face fell away with what she assumed was a curse. The cub fell onto its hindquarters at approximately the same time and she widened her eyes. Because it was dawning on her, too, that cubs of any sort were not generally alone...

Sure enough, there were footfalls headed their way that were not another bouncy cub. Odie had already grabbed her wrist and was pulling her away. Leon was happy to oblige, running after him on her unfortunately shorter legs. Still, she was used to being smaller than average and made up for it with extra steps as best she could. Because mama bear was roaring now and she really didn't want to get into a brawl with an angry ursine at the moment.
Battalion,” the hound parroted. “That’s a mighty name. Do you prefer Leon?” His tail swayed behind him, easygoing.

“I’m Odysseus,” he added. “Odie to my friends. I’d let my enemies call me that, too, but it isn’t as impressive calling me that when they’re threatening my life.” He winked to show that he was joking; he doubted anyone that he’d ever gotten into a scrap with or insulted spared a thought for him. (Though the idea of a nemesis seemed rather romantic.)

He did not want to be nemeses with a bear, however. Thankfully, Leon did not resist as he dragged her away, following his lead. While her strides weren’t as long, the hound paced himself so that he wouldn’t outrun her. It would have been the better survival method to let her fall behind, certainly, but that wasn’t Odie’s style. It wasn’t very heroic to allow a lady to get shredded into a flokati.

He sprinted across the uneven ground, small paws picking their way nimbly between the stones that littered the hills. His agile body was made for speed and quick, darting turns: a swiftness that had allowed his ancestors to catch rabbits. Keen golden eyes sought the easiest path, and he barked directions over his shoulder to Leon.

When they came upon a steep slope, he didn’t hesitate to throw himself down it, sliding with claws flexed into the earth, his shirt riding up his back. He skidded down, dropping into the grass, and looked back up to see if the dark she-wolf was on his heels.
"I don't know." she admitted. "I like Leon, and Bat, and Tali... I prefer not Batty because the implication seems to be that I'm crazy. Or it sounds a bit like Betty which just feels really feminine to me... which I don't consider myself." it was the most she had talked about her chosen name to anyone before and she swished her tail once in apology. "Clearly I've put some thought into it, I did pick the name myself after all. But I don't really have a favorite nickname. I like them all." and no one ever used Leon, so she had to make it more balanced.

His name had a lot of sibilant s sounds when it was said in full, but lost them in his nickname. Odie's full name felt heavier than his nickname, which was more playful. It suited him better, she thought. Though perhaps sometimes he was more serious and his full name suited him better. She was just getting Odie, not sibilant Odysseus. "I like them both, they suit you." she replied.

This pleasant exchange was all before the world turned upside down because a rampaging mother bear was on their tails. She had hoped that perhaps she would get to her cub, scoop it up, and then amble away. Or stay there with the blueberries, they were clearly not going to go back... but no. Mama Bear was not happy that they were anywhere near her precious young. Which, she supposed, was fair. They were wolves and opportunities such as plump bear cubs to eat were probably ones that at least some wolves would take. Not when a mother bear was chasing you, of course, but if you lurked around...

Leon followed the directions that Odysseus gave her without thinking. It was a good thing he wasn't trying to leave her for the bear or she would've been easy enough to lure into breaking a leg. Luckily he seemed as interested in her survival as he was in his own. Or, at least, he wasn't going to directly cause her expiration. Which was about all she could ask for in this circumstance.

The slope was... unexpected and not the greatest, but perhaps mama bear would stop at the top? Bat inelegantly tucked and rolled, tumbling head over heels down the slope. Certainly she got more covered in debris than her companion. Tali looked at him briefly, then up the slope at the bear. Who did seem slightly less interested in following them down the hill. She harrumphed down at them in what Battalion assumed was a "and stay away!" gesture, before ambling back toward where her cub had been.

Breathing hard, Bat looked over at Odie. "Well... that one was less cute."
His eyes shone with a faint softness as Battalion spoke about her name, his head tilting with a smile to dismiss her apologetic gesture as unnecessary. “It does lend itself to variety,” he teased, whiskers curling and blue-stained tongue peeking from between his sharp canines. Then, gentler again: “It’s a good name. I chose mine, too — to emulate a grandfather of mine.”

He revealed this casually, although it had been something of great significance when he was a youth hoping to find (and prove) his identity. Odysseus the first — rather, the Spanish Ulises; Odie had chosen something more foreign — had been the type of swashbuckling hero the yearling had envisioned himself as, a mold that had fit far more than anything his parents had dreamed for him. And, over time, it had become his own.

When the wolf told him his name suited him, he beamed.

It was a different, more crazed smile that split his lips as they ran from the bear, his tongue lolling from his jaws as he panted. Behind them, the protective mother ambled in pursuit, a deceptively ground-eating lope — but they’d gotten enough of a head-start, and chosen a treacherous enough path, that escape was easy. (It helped that the beast’s heart probably wasn’t in it; it was more trouble than it was worth to fight two Luperci when frightening them off sufficed.)

Tali fared worse in her tumble down the hill, but she caught her breath enough to make a quip that made Odysseus practically cackle: his voice a bright, sharp yap. Heaving with breath, his pupils swollen in their ring of amber, he grinned at her in that slight manic way.

“I haven’t gotten chased like that by someone’s mother since I was young man,” he joked. He got up, dusted off his trousers, checked his shortsword, then extended a hand to help Leon to her feet. “Did any of your berries make it?”
She hadn't met anyone who had also named themselves before. At least, no one who had told her that they named themselves. Aliases were a form of naming oneself, she supposed, but in this case no one knew her original name. A witch one time had told her it was wise to never even speak it to another soul. Meant no one could curse her or something. Bat didn't believe in curses, really, but it still seemed nice to be safe from them in at least one way.

"I really think it should be more common to pick your own name if your current name doesn't feel right. I mean, sometimes you meet someone named something like Puffington and you wonder what their parents were thinking... but they keep using the name. When they could very well just change it!" Tali said with a laugh. She liked Odie. A lot, actually. She was finding his company made her feel like laughing and sharing. Good things to feel with a new acquaintance. Though, naturally, the talking had to end when mama bear made her move.

When they landed, she liked his grin, too. It was carefree in a way she had never felt. She had a pang of jealousy at the thought. Perhaps she could regain a sense of adventure like what seemed to beat in his chest. Probably not, though. Could something like that be gained or nurtured? Something to consider later, perhaps, when she decided if she really wanted to be an adventurer or just liked the way it looked on Odie.

She laughed when he said someone's mother had chased him like that when he was younger. "Outstayed your welcome in someone's bed, huh?" Usually she wasn't so quick on the quips, but he made her feel like teasing. Not in an intentionally flirtatious way - she didn't even presume he liked girls - more in a I like to laugh with you way.

Leon took the hand he offered to stand up, dusting herself off. She looked into her bag and groaned. "Ugh, no, mostly a mess at this point. Maybe a few I can dry later, but apparently I should've been eating instead of trying to save... although then I might've still lost them, just out of my guts instead of my satchel." Leon said with a shake of her head.
Odysseus winked in response to her quick retort. “I’m what you would call a bad influence.”

It wasn’t untrue, though perhaps he was a poor influence for reasons other than your typical debauchery. Luring someone into a life of adventure would itself have been dangerous. Adrenaline made Odie feel alive, but chasing that feeling opened him up to a lot of risks. And they were risks that often went ignored.

Because, well — if the bear had really tried to maul them, and Odie had flung himself at it to give Bat a chance, and gotten rent asunder in the process — the world wasn’t really losing anything, was it?

His tail waved errantly behind him, because he wasn’t actively dwelling on these thoughts, merely existing in and enjoying the moment and the endorphins. He quirked a grimacing smile at Leon’s satchel. “That’s a shame. And a shame for the bear — your guts would have had such a wonderful flavor.”

He gave a little jerk of his head in invitation. “Come, I think I need to wet my throat after that run. Splash myself in the face a bit. Maybe you can wash off whatever else was in your bag.” There was a stream that he’d seen from his basking spot that wasn’t too far off, if Battalion wanted to join him. He was enjoying her company — though really, he enjoyed any company. His journey northeast had thus far been a terribly lonely one, and companionship, however brief and shallow, kept some of that sorrow at bay.
She was not well-versed in the way of any sort of long term influences... hell, she had talked to him already more than she had talked to many when she was trading. Trade deals she personally did required only minimal small talk and it was mostly just compliments to make the other side more amenable to terms. There was no reason to get really friendly with someone you wouldn't see again after that meeting. At least not the way she used to live. "I'll have to watch you carefully, then, make sure your badness doesn't rub off." she joked, sticking out her tongue slightly in a way she had seen someone do before. It was, she thought, a gesture of goofiness. Hopefully she was right about that.

Leon shivered at the thought of the bear enjoying the taste of her guts. Would it have enjoyed killing them? Or merely been happy that they were no longer a threat to her cubs? She wasn't sure if bears tended to eat other predators as a normal occasion. Certainly she didn't know any wolves that ate bear. Then again, there was a huge size difference there that really weighted the likelihood of who ate who in the favor of the ursine. Unless one was in a pack hunt, but even then... there was a huge risk there that wasn't really worth it. Unless bear tasted really good, but she doubted it.

"I'd rather not find out how my insides taste anytime soon." she replied. "Never sounds really good, actually, let's stick with that!" Leon said with a shake of her head as if motion could clear the thoughts from it. It was mostly successful because they were moving on to other things.

When he suggested they find water, she nodded, walking at his side without any real worry. For once, her anxiety wasn't engulfing her in concerns that he was different than he appeared. He had proven so far to be a good companion and he hadn't pushed her aside so the bear would be slowed. So that was a good sign. It would've been an easy way to be rid of her if he had wanted her dead. Then again, she supposed if he wanted her stuff it wouldn't be the best way to get rid of her... no, she wasn't going to let her paranoia creep back now. It was fine where it was, kept at bay.

"So what're you doing around these parts, anyway? Just traveling through?" it seemed a lot more traveled through than stayed, but that was most places. Eventually most wolves found a place to settle - they were social creatures - but there were so many places to see first...

Yeah, just traveling through,” Odie replied — perhaps a little too casual in his response. He rolled one of his sleeves back down from where it had been scuffed up on the hill. “If I had a destination, I wouldn’t even know how to get there.” He glanced at her. “That’s why I asked if you were from around here, maybe you knew something.”

Facing forward again, his nose lifted to sniff for the telltale scent of silt and vegetation that would lead them to the stream he’d seen. “I’m not a big fan of the wilderness, to be honest. Not a lot of other people around, and the ones that are are spread out. It was fortuna that I came across you.” He flashed her a grin, laying it on heavy, playfully flirtatious. “I like the cities, the crowds, but I’m not certain there are any around here.”

Another sniff, and he changed their bearing slightly. Beyond this next hill, he thought he could hear the whisper of water running across stones.

“What about you? Did you come here to do more trade?
"I do know a bit about the area... I've visited New Caledonia, they're what I would consider fairly... normal, I guess? I liked it there, I may go back actually. Salsola is super mysterious and everyone warns me away from there. I guess they have a bit of a reputation and it isn't good... maybe worse influences than you." she said with a brief smile before continuing. "Del... shoot, I think it's Cisnere Gang is a coyote-heavy location, they don't like anyone with wolf blood. I haven't been there personally but I was warned. Umm and then there's some Casa place that apparently is full of fighters. Haven't been there yet, but no one warned me away like the other two."

Two packs that she could've considered for living. Two that apparently were not suited to her at all. Actually, New Caledonia was the only one she was really suited for at all. She wasn't cut out to be a Cavalier who had their main focus on being fighters. That wasn't really her strong suit. Though she could definitely do with learning more self-defense moves. First she had to find a place to stay, though.

She didn't catch Odie's playful flirtation at all because Leon was oblivious to the ways of flirting. Anytime she did it was unintentional and she assumed anyone who acted that way toward her was just friendly. "I don't think there are really cities, just those smaller groups. I mean, they're all fairly sizeable from what I understand, but not to the level of a city. I think the nearest big city is... Portland? At least I've heard there are trading groups there for groups here, so I assume it's close enough that they can keep in touch fairly well with their home pack."

What was she doing here? "At first I wasn't sure I'd stay, but I really liked New Caledonia... so I think I'll settle there. For now, at least. It'd be nice to be in a group for a while. I only was with a trading band of seven, and they... well, didn't really care for me, so I want to try out living somewhere that there's actually a community."

Bat felt awkward from talking so much. She'd spoken to Odie more than she had to anyone so far in her journeys and it felt good, but also there was a worry stirring in her gut that she was just being a chatterbox. So far, though, her company didn't seem to mind.

It took him some time to realize Bat was describing groups rather than places. Odysseus wasn’t familiar with the naming scheme of the region’s packs; of the ones he’d encountered during his travels, some named themselves after landmarks or territories, others with bragging nouns, and yet others still had no proper names at all.

He contemplated what she said, wondering what constituted “normal” — after all, New Caledonia sounded fanciful, like a city, like New Orleans — and then looked at her with a bemused grin.

“Casa?” he repeated. Casa means ‘house.’”

They sounded like interesting places, places he’d like to learn more about, if only to unearth more details for himself before he made assumptions. A gang of coyotes sounded like troublemakers, if potentially a fun sort, while a pack with a poor reputation that hadn’t been driven out of the area could be dangerous. And a “house” of fighters could mean mercenaries, which intrigued the swordsman.

The hound nodded. ”I passed Portland,” he acknowledged vaguely, his eyes still scanning for the stream. He might have stayed in it — certainly he stayed a good while at Mullen’s — but the familiarity of the place had dredged up old memories. To stay in the port city would have been like a cut to the heartstrings.

He said nothing as she continued, facing forward, but one ear turned back in her direction showed that he was listening. Only when she mentioned her trading band did he glance back over his shoulder, brow furrowed, before their arrival at the creek distracted him. ”Ah,” he said, stepping into the cold water and crouching to dip his hands in it. He splashed his face, shook his head, then looked back up at Battalion.

”Why did your old band not care for you?”
When he told her "casa" meant home, she made a "hmm" of interest. "That makes sense. They're Casa di... something, I'll be honest, I'm terrible at remembering the names of places. I was probably even wrong about that Gang's name. Just know it was a Gang." she said with a shake of her head. Salsola had been easy to remember because it was so mysterious. New Caledonia she had decided to stay there. The fighter group and the coyote group were just... less important. Currently. She really needed to lock down those names if she was going to eventually try to trade between packs. It would be awkward to show up at Casa di Whatever and be like "hey there... you... folks... wanna trade?" instead of properly greeting them with their pack's moniker.

She nodded when he said he passed Portland, though the way he said it seemed... off somehow. Perhaps there was more to it than just passing it, but she wasn't going to pry. It wasn't her business if Odie didn't want to share it. They all had secrets enough to keep and it was their business to share them or hold them close. They had only just met, after all, she was hardly a confidant for his deepest feelings.

The creek was a welcome diversion for a moment as she splashed water on her face and cooled her feet, smiling slightly at the coolness against too-warm skin underneath too-warm fur. All felt well again. At least for a moment.

Her tongue curled in her mouth at his last question. It was something she had considered - and also avoided considering - many times over her time with the troupe of traders. They had taken in a scared, newly shifted cub and saved her life. Yet they had also treated her as if she was an inconvenience most of the time. To them, she was just another tool to use and abuse until it gave out. They hadn't generally meted out physical punishment - especially as she had learned their moods and how to avoid being a victim to them - but they had certainly left her emotionally deprived for most of her life.

"I don't think they considered me... important, I suppose, is the word. They tolerated me being around because I provided things and could be used to trade. And I asked very little, because I didn't want to get cast out with nowhere to go. Safety in numbers and all. They kept me alive, though, I am grateful for that at least." she hadn't really talked about it with anyone before, so it felt weird. Almost like she was somehow betraying the band of traders. Oh, they keep me fed and I am grateful! was what she had often said to those she traded with. As if that was all she deserved. To be alive instead of thriving.
OOC » I’m fine wrapping this up soon if you’d like, or they can move onto another subject, either way!

A rivulet of cool water ran off Odie’s raised brow as Leon answered, painting a picture of her time with the traders with plain and understated strokes. He frowned, but occupied himself with another handful of water to sip.

“Everyone is important,” was his eventual response. Unspoken went So are you, and you deserve better than how you were treated. But his eyes said it, just a brief glance into her pale blue ones, before he slicked back his dark hair with wet fingers and waded back from the stream onto the dry bank.

It wouldn’t do to make a big deal of it. It wasn’t right, but a lot of people had to tolerate bad situations until they could get to the other side of hope.

”I hope New Caledonia suits you better,” Odie said, straightening and smiling. ”I may have to visit it myself, once you’re there.” He winked.
Finish this one soon maybe and then new one where Odie visits Leon?  :eyes2:

We don't have to do that if you don't want, lol, but I would love to develop their friendship moarrr!

Battalion felt an ache in her chest after laying bare this painful truth of her past. She wondered if each time she talked about it, it would hurt that way. Would it pain her more each time? Less? Was it like a physical wound where it would heal and then scar, causing pain only during rainy days? She figured she'd find out eventually. Surely this was not the only time she'd find opportunity to share the sadness of her history. Leon hoped that it would get easier as she shared more. Because right now it hurt.

She drank water and glanced at Odie after he spoke. His words made her feel warmer, the ache lessening just a bit in her chest. Leon smiled slightly. "I'd like to think so." she replied softly. It was something that she believed, truly, it was just hard to apply it to herself. No matter how much she would tell everyone else they mattered, some little splinter dug deep into her psyche and said yeah, everyone except you, you don't deserve it the way they all do.

When he said that he hoped New Caledonia would treat her better, she nodded, wagging her tail a bit. "I am sure they will. It was such a lovely place to visit, truly. I hope you'll make good on that, Odie, because I'd really like to see you again. Show you around my new home." the ache in her chest faded to warmth at the thought. Home, she'd have a home. One where friends could visit.
”I’d really like to see you again,” Leon said, and warmth lit Odysseus’ eyes like chips of amber in the sun.

Because it wasn’t often that folk told him that, not genuinely. Occasionally it would be spoken in sultry tones, an empty promise from a temporary lover. Few said it, and fewer still made good on it. The man’s flashy, swashbuckling charisma was fun for a day of adventure or a night of passion, but companionship rarely lasted longer than that, not since New Orleans and the Grin.

”I would love that, my dear,” he replied earnestly, his tail swaying. Then he grinned, settling a hand on his stomach. “But for now, I should get going—find something more filling than berries to eat.” He would be faster catching rabbits, although with his luck another bear would probably bully him off a kill. ”I’ll try to come calling on you soon, lo prometo.
Leon was pleased that Odie seemed to like spending time with her, too. It would take some getting used to, this bonding with others that had always escaped her before. There had been no space for it in her old life. She hoped to have much more space for it in her coming days. Which was why she had to stop being a loner. Right now, it was alright; by winter she'd be miserable and stuck inside just trying to not die if she was a loner.

"Good, I'll hold you to that. Don't make me track you down." she teased; it was even funnier because Bat was the farthest thing from a threat. Especially to someone like Odie. "Do try to stay out of trouble in the meantime. To good food and good drink, til we meet again." she had heard someone say that before and it sounded nice. Tali thought she'd use it more regularly.

And so they parted ways. For now.