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“He took lot of zat vood,” Igor said as they looked at the pile of rubble that remained.

Over the past few days, he and O'Riley had spent the majority of their time cleaning up the aftermath of a tree falling on a house. This would have been problematic no matter who had owned the place, but it had been his Oma, of all people. She was safe and resettled now. Grievous' old servant had begun staying with her in an imitation of her old role. Well, that was her choice – she was a free woman now. People like Heulwen, Amos, and even Silas had proven to O'Riley that some Luperci were better suited for their subservient places in the world.

It had been free hands which largely toiled over this disaster, though. Arius de le Ulrich had been a tremendous help in dealing with the pine and asked only for the wood in return. The pine had been large in size, weighing a half-ton or more. Having Egregore further help break the tree down had reduced the three huge logs the horse had hauled out of the rubble. Only one portion of the original tree remained.

“He said he wanted it,” O'Riley said with an indifferent scoff. There was little value in a dead tree – and it was not the sort of tree he liked to build with, though the thought had occurred to him. If it was weak enough to have fallen, or otherwise forced to do so, the superstitious O'Riley wanted no part of it around him. Arius could do what he pleased with the pine.

There was still plenty of rubble left for the two men to process. Only one wall of the cabin remained upright, supported by the section of chimney that they had left until the end. After this was finished, the more mundane duties – things that could be done without supervision – would be able to proceed.

Igor dropped his bag and stretched. He had put on winter weight, somehow. With his winter fur present, he looked absurdly large even next to O'Riley.

“Have you talked to your old man?”

“About moving? Da. I went to see how he vas earlier. He said something is strange with vater.”

Two days ago, there had been faint tremors in the earth. While not of any intensity to be worrisome, O'Riley was familiar with what this meant and taken precautions. It wasn't necessary to raise an alarm – they had all felt it. Still, he wanted to get the remaining corner of the building torn down now, before they had more to deal with.

“What's wrong with the water?” The Erilaz asked, annoyed that complications were already occurring.

“He said it was warm.”

“What?” O'Riley snapped, looking confused. “What do you mean it's warm?”

“I don't know, he said he didn't like how it looked and that it vasn't as cold as it should be. I touched it, he isn't wrong.”

“<Bullshit>,” the darker wolfdog cursed. Amused by his reaction, Igor laughed.

“<After this go and touch it, then you tell me,>” the fat man taunted, misunderstanding.

“<Get to work,”> O'Riley replied with a snap, and hoisted the makeshift sledgehammer aloft.

When indicated, characters are speaking Russian. Noting that the seismic activity increased.
[+ 5]
Sleep seemed to be eluding him these days, but then again it had for both him and Aidan. How he wished he knew the proper solution to handling this... perhaps some more time might be able to give him the kind of answer he was looking for... but until then, he would have to endure some sleepless nights in order to ensure the harm left from the nightmares was eased away. Lack of sleep was no excuse to keep himself from working though. Since his training with the other male and Tattersall, he was confident to return to a more usual work load.

So despite the tired feeling in his eyes, he still got himself up early, set out on finding something to do. No doubt the Henchman would be looking to do the same thing. Anything to get his mind off whatever was shown to him in his sleep right?

Word had trailed to the silent man about the tree that had fallen on someone's home. What rotten luck that it had to be the golden woman's home it had happened to. Still, it was good to hear she had not been harmed from this event. Still, the damage had to be taken care of, something he could easily lend his assistance with. If nothing else, he was an extra set of muscles to handle heavier labor. He had handled it for so long in his life, why not extend that to others in the kingdom whom could use it.

Others, he had heard, had already done some of the work, so it wasn't too late to make himself useful.

Silas reached into his pocket, pulling out his book as he approached. His eyes fell on the forms of the leader and Igor. He tapped his writing utensil against the surface of the book, the best noise he could make in order to ensure he got their attention. His head dipped to both of them before he flipped to an open page. After writing, he offered it to the Erilaz to read, 'Does Erilaz and Henchman require help? Silas can help.'
(+300) | NPCs: N/A
The weight of the tool was greater at its head, which was how it was designed to function. Having been struck by a weapon of larger mass, O'Riley could personally attest to the damage a proper swing could deliver. They had brought down other structures in the past, but none which had been previously occupied.

None that had once been his home.

A faint tap-tap-tap alerted O'Riley to the arrival of another man, though his nose informed him of this the moment he turned. Silas was a familiar sight – he was established within the fabric of Salsola due to his longevity within the pack, but also from what he brought to it. As both an ideal servant and talented combatant, he was proof that in some places, the old ways could work. More than that, however, was the fact that when given his freedom, he chose to remain.

Not all did.

After he read over the paper, O'Riley looked back at their task. Though he was certain he could explain and set Silas to demolition, the fact of the matter was this was a skill into itself. There was too much risk involved with the old chimney – and the last thing O'Riley wanted was to be responsible for injuring a fellow packmate indirectly. There would be no end of it from his Oma, and that would cause even more trouble with Elphaba.

His gaze trailed to the stack of wood and remaining log. Anyone could chop wood.

“We have this under control,” he explained. Igor, his hands hooked onto his belt, nodded proudly. “But the tree still needs broken down. Chop it up like the rest,” O'Riley told Silas, and made a point to indicate the pile Arius had been gathering throughout the process. “You can stack it afterwards. We're leaving it here, someone else will collect it.”

I'll bring Huelwen in with my next post for translation services (and maybe snacks!)
[+ 3]
Silas caught enough in his vision to notice the Erilaz turn his attention to the task at hand after reading what had been written. The answer truly wouldn't matter to the male. If there was something he could do, then he wouldn't waste any time with getting to work. If it turned out both males didn't need any help, then he would simply be on his way to find someone else he might be able to assist. Such was the routine he held.

The silent man's focus returned to O'Riley, taking in his words. He and Igor had more than enough to handle what they were already focused on, but did have something he could do. Golden gaze moved over to the log, looking over it. If there was one thing he was good for, manual labor was that task. Over the years, he had certainly gained the muscle for it, though it probably helped more that no matter the work, he never complained... not that he could even if he wanted to. His head returned to the Erilaz, giving a nod before stepping over to the log.

Or rather, to the collection that had already gathered. It was a good idea to see the exact size he was going to need to break them up to before he got to work. It didn't take him long to mentally measure out the length and thickness of the individual pieces. All that left for him was making more of them.

Gathering the proper tool, the silent man finally made his way over to the log. It made the most sense to him to divide up the log into sections, then breaking down each one. It was bound to take more than just one motion. Sounds filled his ears as he worked, though allowed them to move every now and then. He wasn't expecting the other two to address him while all three of them were working, though there was nothing wrong with keeping an ear open for any other command.

Or correction as the case may be.
(+300) | NPCs: N/A
Works for me. Made some assumptions. Let me know if I need to change anything.
For a while, the work went on without much conversation at all.

The process itself was not terribly complicated, but dangerous enough that it required the expert hands which handled it now. Even so, Igor and O'Riley were not above injury – they had been bruised and cut by debris plenty of times before. Tearing down the chimney required an understanding of how the bricks and stones might fall, and anticipating this to such a degree that they could control the demolition.

They began this by starting in the center, working from a high point. While bringing ladders had been an option, they had both decided against this. Both men were large and heavy-set, and the amount of force behind their swings was likely to result in at least once accidental fall. Relying on the stones coming down was a bit of a reckless plan, but that was why the cousins had wanted to handle the process alone. It allowed them a bit more freedom, though a bit less safety.

Things, luckily, went as planned. They attacked the chimney in shifts, alternating when one or the other grew tired. The rubble was removed between these swaps (which was, in this case, shoving it into a pile nearby) and by the time they had opened a gaping hole in the stone both O'Riley and Igor were feeling the ache of their combined efforts in their shoulders.

Respite arrived in the unassuming form of the she-wolf. Huelwen, former slave-turned-Serf, had been present when the cabin was initially struck. She looked nervous to be returning to the site, though it was just as likely that the presence of the men was to blame for this. O'Riley saw her coming and stopped his work, but it was Igor who smelled what she had first.

“Food!” He woofed, abandoning all pretense of carrying on in order to go meet the woman halfway. “What a sight you are!” Igor said to the she-wolf, complimenting her further in his native tongue though she clearly did not understand.

“Give her some space, you oaf,” O'Riley shouted after him. He snorted air through his nose rubbed his face with the back of one hand to clear the dust. As he stepped away from the demolition-in-progress, he turned towards the tree where Silas was still working.

“Hey!” He barked at the blonde. “Take a break!”

By the time he had joined the other two, Huelwen had put the big satchels she carried down. In one, warm, freshly cooked meat could be found, while the other sloshed about in a way that suggested it was full of water. She had several wooden bowls with her, though Igor was holding these now and looking very pleased with himself.

“I was told to bring this to you, Erilaz,” the woman said quickly. She kept her head down as she spoke, and refused to look above O'Riley's belly.

“By who?”

“Th-the Regent, Erilaz.”

O'Riley but didn't find this particularly surprising.

Feel free to PP stuff with Heulwen as far as helping serve the food/greet Silas in sign language.
[+ 511]
Silas hadn't been paying too much attention to the other work going on around him, not that there was much reason for him to be doing so. O'Riley and Igor were working on their own project involving the cabin while he was working on his own. If they needed his help, they would call. When it came to his own given tasks, asking for help was not an option. Perhaps it was still the remnant of his time in servitude. If he was given something to do, it was expected he would be the one to complete it. Assistance was given at someone else's command, not his own.

So continued he went, handling with the chopping of wood. Time seemed to just blur together with each one he split, and each bundle was gathered to be put with the rest.

The silent man's ears turned to the sound of someone coming, though once again didn't pay to much attention to it. He was focused on his work, only taking a pause when the Erilaz had been the one to call him to do so. No doubt if there was no word, he would have just continued to work through this break.

Golden gaze moved to one whom came to join them, surprised to see who it actually was. Heulwen and him had come from the same location, yet she seemed to tend to herself from the few times they had 'spoken' with one another. He didn't mind that much. It was nice to see her again though, especially when around other people. Using his hands to speak was far more natural than his book. He was glad to have someone else around who would be able to understand him in that language.

Silas was content to eat in silence, though his attention moved up from the bowl in his hands to the conversation being had. There was a slight tilt of his head before his claws tapped on the bowl. If nothing else it was a noise used to get their attention. He soon set it aside, signing to the Serf. She could just as easily translate for him, so no need for his book.

"Regent? The green eyed blond woman? Silas remembers her." He couldn't recall now if he had heard of her true title, just that he'd known her before her departure.
(+400) | NPCs: N/A
As they divided the food – roasted meat – between the three men, O'Riley set about devouring this eagerly. He liked his grandmother's cooking, even when it was something as simple as chunks of venison prepared over a fire. There had been something added to the outer layer: salt, for certain, but some other mixture of herbs that gave a depth of flavor to the lean meat that complimented its taste. By cutting it into smaller chunks, she had been able to sear the outer edges of each piece in some sort of fat, rendering these crispy on the tongue but locking in the meat's natural moisture and juices. Igor, who was gorging himself like the glutton he was, seemed to be enjoying it even more than O'Riley.

The light tapping of Silas' claws distracted O'Riley from watching his cousin shove food into his face. He watched the motions the silent man made with his hands, studying them. When he and Kamari were in the field they sometimes used similar gestures to communicate. Some of these he recognized – green, woman – but when he looked to Huelwen she provided the context he lacked.

“You've been around a long time,” O'Riley said to Silas, whom he turned to again. How old was the former slave now? He was older than the Erilaz, that O'Riley knew. When exactly he had he been become a part of Salsola? Five years ago, or sometime around there. Back when O'Riley had still been an Apprentice, looking ahead to a role in the Shield. Perhaps after that, when Elphaba had come to him with her concerns about her father, and their conspiracy was conceived.

“She was the Boss before Elphaba,” he supplied, unsure if Igor remembered this. Not that the Russian was paying the conversation much mind, it looked like. “You probably met her when you were brought to the pack.”

[+ 321]
All of them were eating in silence, save for any noises coming from the natural act of chewing. The meal itself was wonderful. The silent man found himself going a little slower than the other two, taking a moment to not only appreciate the flavors, but see what he might be able to pick up for trying with Aidan. Even though no true solution had been found for his problem, what small comforts he hoped would be enough for now.

Silas' head moved up for a brief moment, glancing around at the others, even if he wasn't making eye contact with them. Both other males were making quick work of their food... one certainly far quicker than the other. It had been a moment that gave him pause. Sure, all of them had been working hard for... well he wasn't sure how long. Time didn't matter to someone like him. One kept working until the assigned task was done, or he was given something else to do. The way he was shoveling the food...

You'd think he hadn't eaten in so long. Hardly an image one would want to associate with a ranked member. Strange for him to care so much about that observation now.

His attention was drawn back to the Erilaz once his question had been answered. Yes... he had been around a long time, though his assumption had been wrong. When Helena first brought him to be a gift, Elphaba had been the one to greet them, and bring him into the fold as a Mendicant. It was interesting to hear her position none the less.

After taking another bite of his food, he set the bowl aside so his hands were free to move. Rather than looking at the Serf as he had last time, he signed to O'Riley himself, letting Heulwen translate. He didn't have to actually sign to her for her to understand what was being said. Even so, his motions were a little slower than usual to make sure everything was being picked up, "No, Silas did not meet her then. Current Boss took in Silas. Silas remembers meeting her with Silas' former master. We were near horses."
(+300) | NPCs: N/A
The muddled details of Silas' past were complex and – frankly – not all that interesting to O'Riley. He was aware that the world beyond their own was full of strange places. In all corners of the earth there were those who lived like animals, who raided and took captive their own kind, who worshiped strange gods and raised men to such heights. Compared to many, O'Riley had lived a sheltered life. He had never known true hunger, or been forced to worry about where he would sleep at night. All parts of him had been crafted and forged by trials, certainly, but he could not fully understand nor empathize with those who had spent their lives elsewhere.

He was, after all, a product of his upbringing. By careful design, the old Boss had removed him from the port city, isolated him, and set him on the path towards his current position. It had seemed like free will at the time, drawing his sword against her, but was it really?

As he ate, O'Riley listened to Heulwen's soft voice speak for Silas. It faltered a bit on the words “former master”. The wolfdog glanced in her direction and saw she was purposefully not looking at anyone – in fact she looked quite strange, he thought, though she often seemed to disassociate from herself.

“I see,” he said. It must have been right around the time they had taken control of Salsola, he thought. A smirk spread across his dark face. “You came at a good time, then.”

“How long ago was that?” Igor asked. Mercifully, his mouth was empty.

“Five summers ago.”

The fat man whistled. He scratched at his chest and leaned back. His own meal consumed, Igor kept an eye on the others – partially in hopes they might give him scraps, but also to ensure he was now involved in the conversation.

“I think that's how long we've been here,” he said, meaning himself and his father. “Is a good place, Salsola. Warmer than where we come from. You used to be a slave, yes? I heard about places that kept slaves,” Igor went on. “My father, when he used to sail, he saw traders like that. We did not keep slaves,” he clarified quickly. “My family did not need for them. Perhaps if we had stayed...”

His hand began to absentmindedly rub the ugly scars on his arm.

“We don't keep slaves here either anymore,” O'Riley reminded the group loudly and unnecessarily. “Debts can be paid. You two served your masters well and were rewarded,” he went on, looking between Silas and Heulwen. “As long as you continue to contribute to Salsola, that work will be recognized.”

We can work on wrapping this up! :>
[+ 4]
Silas had picked up on the way Heulwen faltered at the mention of their former master. He wasn't sure who she served under, but anyone bearing the same brand as the one both of them carried know of the silent man's own master. He was the one who ran the entire ring after all. He held quite the reputation, and could not fault her for acting in such a way whenever he came up. He could see now... better than he had before, just the kind of effect the man had on others... not just his own.

Then again, he had been blessed in a way most others were not. False as it was, he was still kind on certain occasions.

He had taken to eating while the Erilaz and Igor were conversing with one another. The stew itself was warm and tasty, but then again most food could be boiled down to that description. It wasn't like he was given the best kinds of meals with the lifestyle he had. If anything, the stuff he was doing now was partly due to a result of what he had participated in while he was away with Aidan.

He also hadn't missed the way the Erilaz's lips curled into a smirk. Perhaps it was just to go along with the comment he made in regards to his coming to Salsola... or perhaps it was for some other reason. The true reason didn't matter. Salsola was his home, and nothing was going to change that.

Silas' attention was brought back to Igor, seeing as the man was addressing him now. He simply gave a nod when asking for clarification on whether or not he had been a slave. His own voice trailed off when he had begun to rub some of his old scars. He didn't see much need to point out anything. Slave trade happened, and while there were more precautions to it, they had their own force. He should know... as he was one of them. Overconfident buyers or on-lookers confused to why they would be fighting a slave of all things.

He put them in their place, as ordered.

Head snapped up slightly to the Erilaz, eyes moving to the man, but never making eye contact. What the man spoke was true, but he had no doubt that Heulwen felt the same as him, at least on some level. She was probably happier than he was to have gotten her freedom, though he had learned to adapt to his new life. The problem was not the work... that was something they were practically programed to do. Work and contribute. It was a matter of breaking the entire mentality.

He took another bite of his stew before looking to his translator. He set his food to the side, allowing for his hands to move again. He had to be careful with his words, as always... though more so with a leader, "Freedom is hard for those like us." He did wonder if she felt the same... or how she might have changed too in her time in Salsola.

The silent man glanced down at his bowl, finishing off the rest of his stew before setting his things aside again, "Silas can get back to work now."
[WC — +500] | NPCs: N/A
We can wrap this up here or with your next post.