[P] and it whispers through the trees
#1
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Starlight
ooc stuff here!
[428]



Life was dull now. Greens had faded. Yellows, oranges, and reds had all shifted to brown. This was a world in which the monochrome Hushhowls should thrive in. It was their season to blend into the scenery and disappear from sight. Yet the Hushhowls all had a quiet blanket draped over them in the wake of Darkness's passing. All of them felt his loss acutely, though some managed it better than others.


Starlight was others. She threw herself into her work, disappearing for days at a time to Hibiki's shop. When she wasn't at the forge she was in the stables or the training rink. Lately, Rumpa had started dragging her along with him on his little trading trips. He claimed that they were necessary and that he needed protection, yet no one ever threatened him and he rarely turned a profit. Starlight thought he was too soft to be a merchant.


After a long day in the stables, Starlight returned to the Hushhowl's den reeking of manure and hay. Underlying that was the ever present stench of ash and brimstone. If Starlight was in the field of making sure everyone stayed far, far away she was succeeding.


If her smell didn't send people running, her eyes certainly did. They were no longer glazed over and sightless. Instead they glared darkly at everyone she passed by. Orion had grown used to it and sneered in response. Some relatives looked worried for her. Other members of the pack simply pitied her. For now. Soon they would grow tired of feeling like they were being stared down every time she entered the area.


This evening, the Hushhowl clan seemed to be vanished from the usual sleeping area aside from one tall figure who hunched over something. Starlight didn't approach. Instead, she moved off to the side as if uninterested and used her peripheral vision to spy on her uncle. It was then that she noticed what he was doing. Her green-yellow eyes widened and she felt the knot in her chest tighten. Softer, sadder than usual, she called to him. "Pushok? You're not leaving are you?"


Rarely was it that Starlight showed weakness in such a manner. But he'd only recently returned and she didn't think she could handle it if he left again for a great length of time. What if he didn't come back this time? Her heart hammered at the thought and suddenly she found herself standing by his shoulder. Her brows furrowed as if angry and her voice grew shrill. "You can't just leave again!"



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#2
Silver tipped ears turned back to take in the sound of an unexpected arrival into the denhouse. By scent alone, he knew who it was, to which broad set triangles flattened into his hair. Pushok didn't know who he'd rather expect instead, but Starlight always had a dominance about her that was abrasive to the touch. She didn't take anything from anyone, and he'd done plenty enough to be spoken to as he deserved. He didn't have the heart to deal with it right now, though, and simply tried to quietly finish up what he was packing and think about what Amherst might have in store for him.

The two young Cavaliers stood quietly in the same room, both half watching the other while seemingly busy with something else. Silence, only broken by a tone in her voice that he'd not expected.

Quietly, he wished she'd chided him. This? This hurt a lot more.

Wincing as if a knife had dug into his chest, he turned his head completely away from her as she neared. Her question turned int a cry out, furious at him, and he bit his tongue. He'd lashed out enough for now and he'd have to live with that for the rest of his life. It was a lot easier to sill his tongue when the repercussions of loose lips were still so fresh in mind.

“I ahm noet lieving... Noet like last time,” Tempered against her outburst, he turned sad eyes over to her. She'd wounded him even if she didn't mean to, but he couldn't blame her. He'd probably always be figured to run now, because of that stupid mistake,” Dhe Luen. He plaenned giefts foer some of us, so I ahm going to Ahmherst to traed for soemthing.”

Stepping back from his pack, he opened it up for her to see inside. The proof was in the pudding. Food for only one day, and a few bits and baubles that might all be traded. Nothing really for survival that would do any good out in the wilds. This he knew from experience. An experience he really wasn't interested in foolishly doing again, but the fueled reminder had him thinking.

Looking up with odd eyes to the charcoal female, he prompted a curious question, “Staerlieght.... Wiell yeu coem vith me?” He had two horses now, after all, and making the journey alone would be awfully lonely and likely a little self-destructive. There was a desire for his family, so strong in his heart, despite the wide circle he'd given them lately, and this seemed like a good opportunity to start building with them again. His father wouldn't have wanted him to stray, for sake of family alone, not like he did, so maybe there was some kind of redemption in leaving with Starlight,” I doen't... really wahnt to go aloen.”

494
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#3
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Starlight
ooc stuff here!
[509]


The tension in the room was palpable as weight of Starlight's words hung in the air, unanswered. She leaned forward, anticipating the heartbreak but eyes pleading for Pushok to not do it. Please, I can't lose another. All around her, her world was falling apart. All she had was family. If that was taken from her, who was she?


Starlight Hushhowl was first and foremost a Hushhowl and a Knight. Then she was a proud Cavalier. Only after those two things were validated did she become an individual. She would give up her pride, her arrogance, her combative nature to be with her family. She would give up her passions and loves to be with her pack.


It was for these reasons that she ultimately would never understand those who betrayed their families and their packs to be something else. To betray your own blood was to deny yourself. To leave your home was to no longer be yourself. She no longer knew those who had left and never come back.


To some degree, she understood the need to leave and figure out where one stood independently of all that. But you always came back. Arlen had come back. Pushok had come back. So why, why, why did some people decide that nothing was sacred anymore and declare their allegiances elsewhere?


So perhaps her heartbreak really had very little to do with Pushok himself. After all, he had come back of his own volition once he was ready. Perhaps that once would have been enough to restore Starlight's faith in him. After Teagan's departure from the pack to join another, Starlight couldn't trust him to return. She couldn't trust anyone to come back to her. After Darkness's death, she no longer trusted any one to come back even if they tried. Sometimes the inevitable happened. That's why it was inevitable.


So when Pushok eased her first fear, he still didn't manage to lower her hackles and fully douse the fire in her stomach. Instead, she crossed her arms over her belly and held herself close to ease her own fears. Alone? All that way alone?


She looked from his face and into his open pack to see that he spoke the truth. She nodded and the lines in her face softened. He wasn't planning to leave forever. But that didn't guarantee his safety.


As if he could read her fears - and maybe he could - he offered her solace and breathlessly she took it. Yes, of course, almost before he even finished speaking. He didn't need to clarify that he didn't want to go alone. He wouldn't have gone alone in the first place even if he wanted to. She wouldn't have allowed it.


She quickly turned away from Pu to go pack her own bag. With no clothes and very few personal possessions it didn't take long. She pulled her now gray rank cloak over her shoulders and slung the bag over it. When do we leave? Horses or on foot? And how long do we plan on staying?



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#4
The last thing Pushok could do was deny her the accusations that had solid foundation resting in a not so distant history. It made sense for her not to believe him, no matter how coarsely she did so, because he had run, and she had been the one that was home wondering when he'd return. If he'd return. Shame mounted dutifully on his shoulders as he thought it best not to tell his Niece exactly what had happened to him while he was out there. At least until he was capable of protecting himself against strangers that had far more experience than him.

Before he'd even finished with his request, Starlight hat split her maw to him in unquestioning agreement. He very quickly got the idea that she was going to have that be the case, whether he'd offered or not. It warmed his cold center a bit to know that Starlight wanted to help look after him and that she didn't take his request as weakness, so did the suspicion arise that maybe she didn't completely trust that he was going to Amherst and only Amherst.

Any doubts would be settled, however, when they got there.

Without hesitating, she got her few things together that she needed and volleyed a full interview at him. Each thing she asked, he had an answer for her ready to go, having already thought about the journey on his own for the entirety of the day. After giving her the date, he tied his pack closed and turned to her completely,” I thienk dhe hoerses voeuld be best,” The offer to use either Snicker or Podarok was there, both horses having an equal bias in approval of Pushok, while Podarok was a little more difficult to handle and a swell larger,” Noet long. Just to traed and coem back. I doen't wahnt to stay very loeng at all.”

Taking the pack, he slung it over his shoulder and moved it to the corner. If he had any other little things to bring, it'd be best to think of them while he had the time before they left out,” Does dhat sound good to you?”



The sun rose just over the trees, it's rays hidden beneath the dense fog that littered the morning sky. It was the day they'd planned to go and everything was set and ready to go. Pushok had done well by venturing the journey to the Fort, grabbing the horses and setting them up properly. Both reigned and Poda left unsaddled for the sake of the weight on his back, a thing his father had always done but Pushok really didn't truly understand to what extent the horse actually could bear. Just that he didn't want the stallion to bear too much, being one of the few things they all had left of their father.

Completely settled, with Poda even packed, Pushok ensured that the horses were safely stationed in the lean-to until Star was ready to go.

Walking into the Densite home, he settled himself down against a wall to rest a bit until Starlight finished up what she needed to do, or unless she asked for help in packing the horse. With the rise of the sun and the stretch of the short days, they wouldn't have a vast amount of light to travel in, so it was important to leave as soon as they could, and when they got there, to shop for the perfect gift for his recipient in the best amount of time. Pushok had an idea about what he needed to gather, but if the product wasn't there, he'd be a bit out of luck.

He'd hate to leave empty handed, but it was a fact of life. The pale boy didn't want to be in Amherst and longer than he had to be, already gilding himself for the lacking trust that he was force the merchants to endure on his behalf, not to mention Starlight's own flare of personality added into the mix.

689
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#5
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Starlight
ooc stuff here!
[345]


Pushok had left to gather the horses and the last of his things and left Starlight to guard the pack he'd left behind. It left her with far to much time to think. By the time he had returned with the horses packed and ready to go, Starlight had resumed her usual sourness. In silence, she rolled her pack and strapped it to her horse all the while avoiding eye contact with her uncle. She quickly mounted her horse and seemingly glared down at where Pushok leaned against his wall. Are you coming or not?


Without waiting for the answer, she started her own horse at a slow pace. Pushok would catch up in no time but it was probably mildly insulting to be left behind on your own journey. For Starlight, this wasn't a journey for Pushok. It was a journey for her. It was a time for her to prove to herself that she could protect her loved ones and that they would one day come back to her.


When he finally arrived, she allowed their horses to keep pace with one another at an adequate distance. Starlight had already set her course for her future, but she was uncertain of her uncles and brother though they had all grown up together. In many ways, Star felt like she was the only one with all her ducks in a row so to speak.


Usually when she left Casa's territory it was to resume her training under Hibiki. She was becoming a blacksmith and while she still felt like she hadn't accomplished much, her role was becoming most evident to others. The lean girl was gaining defined muscles. The smell of dirt and forest was replaced by the acrid stench of ash and molten metals. Her hands' fleshy bits were rough to the touch now and her fur was dotted with small patches of scars from having burnt herself so many times.


In an effort to show good faith, Starlight found herself willingly starting the conversation. So. What are we going to Amherst for?



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#6
Starlight hadn't wasted any time getting all her things together, leaving a comment over her shoulder at him before she took off. Scrambling to his feet, he didn't have a moment for a second look over the place to make sure that he had everything for sure. Whipping the great sword up and tucking it into sheath, he jumped atop Podarok and took off from the Hushhowl site at a gallop.

When he'd finally come up as near as she'd let him, he slowed the stallion down and gave him slack on the reigns. The awning of trees blanketed them from above as the trail was made by his Niece, the boy rather thankful that she'd take the lead of it all. If it wasn't his trail, if something went wrong, then it wouldn't be his fault. He blamed himself enough already for things, he didn't think he could survive if Star were to get hurt because he did something stupid.

The journey started out a bit quiet, but Pushok was thankful for the company. The threads of his hair danced with the gate of the horse while his eyes watched the swiveling ears of the warhorse beneath him. A big beast, Podarok plodded along, happily following Snicker without much protest. It seemed he was thankful to have another of his own for company this time.

Ears snapped up and eyes found the charcoal female with curiosity. A tilt of his head expressed that he hadn't expected her to be so inquisitive about what it was he wanted to fetch, but he wouldn't complain. Talking would pass the time,” A gieft. I ahm thiking soemthing to wear. Liek clothing. Flowing stuff. Может платье?” From what he did know about the other, his certain recipient, there was always a certain quality to what they wore. He was sure they wouldn't mind another piece,” I thienk dhey wiell like dhat,” Nodding, he situated himself atop the stallion more comfortably.

"It's been a loeng whiel sience we rieally talked," He made mind to say," I miessed you all," Quietly the lilted voice came over the sound of hooves that rattled on the rocks," I'm soerry,"Silver tipped ears folded flat again as he found Star's imaged, the corners of his maw turned down. He was stricken with guilt and avoiding the issues weren't going to solve anything. He hoped with all his heart that she'd forgive him, if even in her own way.

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#7
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Starlight
ooc stuff here!
[480]


Starlight wrinkled her nose at the suggestions that her uncle raised. Star had never been one for the institution of clothing wearing in any way. She'd balked at wearing a belt for her blade for months before she'd finally undertaken the task of getting used to it. Even now, she rarely wore the full ensemble of a belt and sheath. Instead she usually chose to hold the sheathed sword in her hand rather than wear it on her body. The rank cloak she only wore for the most important of occasions. Of course, setting the original one on fire had been an accident but it certainly didn't hurt Star's feelings when it happened.


"Who's it for?" Perhaps if she knew the recipient she could provide better advice or idle chatter. That's what people liked, right? Idle chatter? Star was convinced that maybe if Pushok liked her more, he'd be more willing to stay within eyesight. It was never something she'd had to worry about before and had given very little thought to it before this particular adventure.


As if Pushok had read her mind, he stumbled out a heartfelt apology to her and made a mention of their lack of conversation. Suddenly sheepish, she grunted out a sort of agreement but mostly looked away from him. It was hard to maintain eye contact when there were feelings being shared.


She blew out a huff of hot air that formed a cloud in front of her. "Yes, I - we missed you too Pushok. You should not have left." Her mouth was pointed down towards her horse's withers and her ears down flat on her skull. Feelings were definitely not her forte. None of her training had prepared her for anything like this.


"Let's stop talking about depressing stuff." Too much sad stuff had happened lately for Star to want to indulge her spiral down. Starlight would rather go back to talking about emotions, even, as long as they were good feelings. Just anything but sorrow.


"I started an apprenticeship," she offered half-heartedly. In honest truth, she was very excited about the prospects of this apprenticeship. She was doing active work with her hands. It was hard, honest work. It was back breaking. It was skin-burning. She loved it as much as she loved everything except perhaps working with farm animals as she had done with Aldora. It was hard to maintain them both though since there wasn't a master blacksmith within their pack's reach. "I'm going to be a blacksmith."


Starlight patted the horse's neck beneath her. "But if it doesn't work out, I'll probably work with horses." She didn't have one of her own, but she was hoping to change this once she was capable of making metalworks that were good enough to trade. A few good swords might be good enough for an old gelding or something.



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