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[RO] Midnight feeder, beggar pleader - Printable Version

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Midnight feeder, beggar pleader - Messiah de le Poer - 18 August 2014

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Backdated to early August.


Rain churned the damp earth of the marshlands, and brown water and blood cascaded from the thin, drenched form of the injured coyote. Great gouges scarred his haunch and stung even now, though he'd not dared to stop to lick them. It was an odd mercy that the downpour struck so hard, destroying evidence of his trail, washing his wounds, cleansing him from the various muck clinging to his pelt. As he trompted through soggy earth, wearily gasping toward Inferni, he only felt anger.


Lips writhed back, teeth bared in a breathy, high snarl -- but the hero who padded home changed quickly into the defeated runt he was when a silhouette appeared in the rain.


Skel, are you sure -- Messiah! The soft chirp of a voice drew up his exhausted head. The mottled brown coywolf peered down at him, yellow eyes wide and concerned behind dark locks of wet hair. A raven huddled, soggy-feathered and shivering, on a skull, croaking impatiently. Wh-what happened to you? Sparrow asked, and knelt in the mud, reaching for him. Fingers curled in wet fur, and he whimpered.


A wolf, a -- a demon, Messiah whined, and flinched for real when Sparrow brushed a cut on him. His hind end was on fire despite the cool rain; he didn't need to fake the fear and pain coursing through him. She shapeshifted into a lynx and she almost killed me, the young coyote babbled, while Sparrow stood, looking at her bird a moment. The dark thing flew to her shoulder, exchanging words -- then flew off again.


You'll be okay, Sparrow assured him. She pulled her hands from him, clearly uncomfortable with the prolonged contact, and fidgeted with her cloak instead. She pulled the hood back up and stood half-over him, sheltering if nervous. Skel is going to get Asher, and we'll carry you to Harosheth, okay?


Messiah nodded. I'm woozy, he said -- and began to panic when, standing in the rain and trembling with exhaustion, his vision began to fade. Sparrow -- Sparrow, Sparrow, don't leave, he urged, nearly commanded, and hesitant hands stroked his fur again even as he blacked out.


***



He woke to a wooden plate of meat and a bandaged rear. He devoured the first and nearly the second, whirling on his wrapped wound to bite at the itching and stinging, but a sharp string of curses in Spanish deterred him. Fire-colored eyes glowered hazily at the old woman peering in from the other room, but Harosheth returned to preparing other things, muttering softly to herself.


Angry, Messiah stood and circled three times and flopped back down, uncomfortable and hot now, and reeking of poultices and wet coyote. He was furious that he'd been driven off again -- about the fourth time since he'd joined Inferni. What kind of soldier was he if he couldn't kill the enemy? The skulls confused him when coupled with Stigmata's speech, and he knew that expiation had something to do with it all, saving and killing one and the same -- but he couldn't do either right. Olivia -- he'd liked Olivia, and she'd rejected him. The others just hurt him within an inch of his life and chased him away.


He wasn't strong and no one appreciated what he did. He was very, very angry but he was becoming increasingly more upset.


Doubt did not often touch Messiah, but when it did, it was poison in him. He sulked and summoned just rage until Harosheth's voice came from the other room, this time maternal, gentle, and answered by another familiar voice. He lifted his head, large ears pricked.


Sparrow entered the room, smiling at him timidly. Hey. How are you doing?


He thumped his tail on the bed as she sat in a chair near him. I'm -- I'm okay, he said, and looked her over. Her fur was as pretty as ever, no longer hidden by the cloak. The wood cross at her throat reminded him of his own family. She had a piece of rope in her hands, as usual -- or something that she now braided into rope, keeping her hands busy, making her visit productive. Th-thanks for coming, he murmured to her, resting his head on small forepaws. I -- no one wants to see me. You're the only one around here I like, the only one who's decent.


She frowned, large ears swept to either side of her head. What about your brothers?


He sighed. Well -- of course them, he answered. She'd paused to stare at him. I love them. They know what I do, they -- appreciate me. But out of all the rest you're -- you're the only one I think likes me, too. He tasted bile on his tongue. Others -- that Scintilla coyote Marlowe said I was just a bag of fleas, and the grey girl, Whatserface, she yelled at me just for being nice. He didn't deserve this, he thought. Fury overwrote depression and shame. You -- you're nice, he stated, for probably the tenth time since they first met.


Sparrow smiled, if a bit awkwardly. You've been nice to me, she replied. I'm sorry my clan mates don't treat you the same. They're -- She shook her head after a long pause, yellow eyes focused on a spiral painted on the wall and apparently in thought. I'm here right now.


Messiah thumped his tail again, grinning at her, boyish. Thanks, he said.


And she was there. She kept him company for the next hour, chatting -- about mundane things, then about family, and while she skirted the topic of her family, he circled the conversation back, his eyes never leaving her. She admitted, at length, that her father was a bad wolf just like Messiah had guessed -- but went into no detail. She admitted too that she worried sometimes her own sister, Vesper, did not have the time for her. She made apologies, justifications, while Messiah watched her and watched her and controlled the conversation again, tugging it like reins the other way, around again.


After a while, sunlight no longer shone through the windows -- and Sparrow stood, her rope braided and her back straight, and smiled. It's late -- I'm going to go. I hope that you feel better.


Messiah stared at her -- for a moment, not comprehending. Then, he barked. No, wait.


Sparrow turned, ears pricked, her narrow muzzle pointed to him and fluffy tail curled close to her side. What's wrong?


He frowned at her, frustrated a moment. He laid his ears back. You -- you're leaving me? he demanded, hurt. Why -- why are you going?

It's late, Messiah.


You just -- you just don't wanna spend time with me, Messiah protested. Come on, please -- stay with me. A little longer. It's the least you can do, I -- I'm hurting again and I really like your company. Ears pinned more sharply to his narrow skull, and his voice had become a whine again. Please, Sparrow, stay, he urged.


The coywolf frowned, hesitating, the newly-made rope frayed with her sudden grip. O-okay, she said, and flattened her ears against her bob of mane as he began to whimper. No, it's okay -- I'll stay, I'm sorry, she urged, soothed, and reclined back into the chair.


Sniffling his thanks, Messiah curled up for a few minutes' silence and tentatively began to talk to her again.


Another hour passed. Crickets chirped in a world otherwise silent and dark. More than once, Sparrow tried to leave. And more than once, Messiah refused her the option.


After all -- didn't she have the heart to see he was lonely and in pain?




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