[AW+] And we'll all go together
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my heart was flawed, i knew my weakness

He hadn't heard much, from the Posse through the night after they'd cut the Reverend from the saddle, and Santiago had gone to comfort Evelyn in their shared grief. Others were ready for ambush, for attack, and they couldn't sleep, but the two bands intertwined their numbers for security's sake, for the time being.

It was all potent omens. Nazario stayed up late while Santiago bundled Calhoun's corpse in burlap, slipping a pouch into folded hands. They'd cleaned him and his horse up the best they could. From the dead campfire, Nazario scavenged the ash, and drew markings on the burlap, on Calhoun's horses. Bruni's nose twitched, skittish, as he shushed her gently, and soothingly ran the pad of his thumb up the bridge of her muzzle, painting a gray line in its wake, as he'd done before to what had been Inferni's herd.

They needed the luck.

He swallowed the lump in his throat, before he and Santiago set out into the night to dig a suitable grave.


The morning was cool, damp and dreary, settled in a blanket of fog come rolling off the lake, when Santiago had sent up the call. Nazario clapped a hand onto the older man's shoulder, and glimpsed at the thin line ruined lips drew.

Backdated, May 17th!| [wc — 000] template by hilli
Outside the dawn is breaking, But inside in the dark I'm aching to be free

Lyssa did not sleep the rest of the night. She stared at the side of her tent long after the wailing outside had stopped; Long after the others had finally shuffled off to try and clean up the mess, or attempt to get some rest. Her eyes burned and muscles were tense, yet she did nothing to relieve the pain. At least she could feel something this way. When Santiago finally gave the call, she managed to drag her body out of the tent to accompany the others.

Her body was numb, unable to register the cool, damp air that clung to her as she stepped outside. A haunting fog surrounded the lake, seeming to reflect the hearts of the others around her. The tension and grief was heavy in the air as they contemplated the events of the previous night. They made their way quietly along the path to the final resting place of Calhoun Escuella.

Lyssa had not known the coyote well, but he was still a member of the Posse. He was family to them. She had not been there long, but she knew of the importance that every member held to each of the bands. Lyssa clasp her hands together and stood solemnly to pay her respects to the man.

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They found nothing other than a trail that petered out and led nowhere. John gained nothing more than a throbbing headache and a simmering anger that under-laid everything.

Food he ate tasted of ashes, he didn't even drink, ignoring the tremors in his hands.

The sleep-deprived, scraggly looking 'yote man was a bitter sight when he returned, empty handed.

The light of dawn could hardly have been more welcomed, and yet it set its ray upon a less than pretty scene. The two groups combined together, intermingling enough that only one who knew could tell them apart.

Bloodshot eyes raked the congregation and with a long suffering sigh, John stepped up besides, taking his place.

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All things truly wicked start from Innocence

So many of them had been put on edge by the recent events. Who could blame any of them after finding Calhoun's body the way they did. She had not been the only one to gather with Johnathan in the wake of the moment, prepared for there to be an ambush waiting for them in the fog. It would have been the perfect time to do so, catching them at a time when they were distracted by the loss of their member, and put right out in the open.

Thankfully, it seemed it hadn't come to that... but that didn't keep Dahlia from staying up most of the night.

Tiredness hung from her eyes. No doubt she was not the only one in this sort of state. Hope had come to check on her, making sure that her younger sister was alright. Of course Dahlia had brushed it off, not wanting to put her other sister in a state of worry, though both of them knew there was more going on beneath the surface.

By the time morning had come, the gray coyote had found herself waking up along a post around the edge of the camp, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. No doubt this was Hope's doing. The call had gone out as she was coming to. Uttering a long yawn, she made her way to Hope's tent, gathering her before coming to the gathering spot. Both women kept themselves upright.

Dahlia shot a glance up to Nazario. Now was not the time for bitterness between them. Green eyes softened, moving between the two men as she gave them a saddened look. Her head rested against her sister's shoulder, not used to being without so much sleep, though her eyes peered back forward at the grave, both of them offering their silent respects to the passing man.

+300 words.

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</div> <div id="DahliaPP"><a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Packs.DelCenereGangJoining" title="Become a Del Ceneren!"><img src="https://dcg.soulsrpg.com/pride/songbirdButton.png"></a></div> </div> </div> </div>[/html]

In those first several hours after Calhoun's dismembered body was found – after she had screamed until her throat was raw and her body had gone numb – Evelyn had taken to her tent and stayed there, quiet and fallow, while her thoughts ran circles within her head.

She knew it. She knew it; they never should have stopped. Had they carried on, farther and farther into the distant and unwelcome unknown of the North, rather than stop and set up camp in this foreign land, then maybe they would have been safe. Maybe her brother would have been safe. Maybe it would he would still have his life. Maybe he would still have his goddamned head.

These thoughts ruminated, filling her head with hateful and regretful ideas, but her heart held steadfast and obstinate for it had opinions of its own and, gradually, the Vicar would come to consider, and perhaps even accept, them.

Santiago's mournful call drew Evelyn out of her fallow state and, not unlike a sleepwalker or a zombie, the thin and patchy coyote emerged from her tent and walked silently forward until she was at her friend's side. She neither acknowledged nor so much as looked at anyone but Santiago: the only one who, as far as she was concerned, had cared about Calhoun as much as she did.

Wordlessly, she moved her body toward Santiago until she could feel his solid frame and the warmth of his being, and then she watched, dry-eyed and stony-faced, as her brother was laid to rest.

[WC — 261]

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Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we're friends till we die

Tragedy followed like a great, grey specter. However, despite all the horrors Boone had seen -- or had perpetrated by his own hand -- nothing could prepare him for the savagery of the reverend's grizzly demise. It haunted him still; the image of a rider with his head in his hands. It was a filth of which Boone could not wash himself clean. Wolves were animals. He doubled down on his biases and found himself filled with unbridled rage.

He did not know the reverend well, not like his sister or the posse who traveled with him, but he was one of their own. That was enough for Boone to demand justice. The man, or men, who made this horror happen would burn, and Boone would make it so.

He rode with his uncle -- searching, tracking, but turning up nothing of importance. These wolves were like ghosts, covering their tracks and disappearing into the night with hardly a trace. Empty handed, they often returned to camp bitter and angrier still. His only respite was the shine in which he drowned.

The call came, and Boone answered to pay his respects to the fallen. They gathered around a grave. It was time to lay the man to a peaceful rest.

Yet, for Boone, there was no peace. He would kill every last wolf he could find.

OOC text here.

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And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

His features had been set, still, hard - uncharacteristic for him, or at least, it had seemed so with his typically expressive face, his amicable mannerisms. Nazario could read it on him. The boy tried his stiff comforts, but it all weighed heavy.

The Reverend's body as they both moved to lower it into his too-early grave, his own thoughts - it was all palpable. It sagged his shoulders with the effort to hold it in, and the moment the Calhoun's body touched the bottom of that pit, he pulled himself back out, dusting his palms, but he felt something was left behind.

The mass gathered, quiet, pensive - and no one spoke a word. No one had anything to say - no one had known Calhoun, not like he and Evelyn. They'd been through hell, bore witness to it all. The remaining Escuella sibling came to him, silently sharing sentiment, and she found his side. Out of sight, he unconciously reached for her hand, and gave it a squeeze.

It had been his decision, to stay rather than to flee. He allowed himself to fall into complacency, and brought his own friends with him. Santiago's throat felt tight, and the muscles bunched in his jaws while they tightened.

"Did you want to say anything, amigo?" Nazario spoke at his other side, quiet, that gold eye boring into the side of his face; the Tejada man looked up abruptly to the sound of his voice, and cleared his throat quietly, as though surprised, before he realized his eyes were damp. He pulled the hat from his head, pinching it between his fingers, and moved to pat it into his chest, before he glimpsed back down into his friend's resting place, when it all had come to hit him.

"Calhoun and I -- we weren't good men, no," he started, his rough voice surprisingly solidy. "But we always thought that we did right - right by ourselves, and our own." He swallowed again, and his windpipe felt thick. A pink tongue darted out past his lips a moment, drew over his whiskers. "He was honorable." It almost got hard to breath.

"Late night games of cards, of dice - never a cheat, even if I'd pulled wool over his eyes once or twice -" there was a thin smile, here, a pinching at the corners of his eyes. "Fought bare-knuckle, tooth n' claw to get by, to protect Miss Escuella, to protect me, and make peace with our mistakes. And he did it 'cause it was right."

Santiago took the hat from his chest, and gestured over the grave with it, before placing it back on his head, his voice growing quieter. "But this --" Santiago shook his head, pinched his lips - "this ain't right. I don't reckon anything could make it so."

| [wc — --] template by hilli, image from Wayne Stadler
After they had discovered the body, Skeleton had felt detached from reality and had trouble figuring out if what he had seen was real. It wasn’t like he was numb; it was more like he was standing next to himself watching his body stumble around and do things while he watched. Eventually, he settled in to sleep, hunkering down in his claimed den, and drifted back into back into his body. He laid awake, wondering if he could sleep now after everything. At first, he thought he couldn’t sleep because he was still too riled up, but in actuality, the truth was much simpler: he was scared.

He hadn’t been truly, deeply scared in a long time, and especially not since he and Carnivore had travelled together. He had known his sister to have many vices and many undesirable traits, but he had never felt this sense of dread before. It curled deep in the pit of his stomach and when he woke, it was still there. It ached and sometimes made his breath catch in his throat.

Even now, as he stood among the other members of The Cartel and the Drygrass Posse, he felt it.

As Santiago spoke, Skeleton tried to smile at the fond memories, and for a moment, the dread was held at bay. For a moment, he could think of Calhoun. He could think how everyone in the Posse had known him and could hold that memory in their heart. Briefly, he felt the warmth in Santiago’s smile. But quickly enough, that sense of dread came clawing back.

Every so often, he felt it clawing up his throat and threatening to burst out, but if he focused—watched as Santiago removed his hat and spoke his final words—he felt like he could feel some new emotion fighting to overtake it.

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