[P] After-Dinner Deja Vu

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While many of the feast goers had left the Bastion good and skunked on wine and mead with their bellies full of food, Celaeno and a few stragglers helping her would be taking the leftovers away to be utilized back at the cookhouse. The remaining berries were set to be boiled down and made into jams and preserves. Meanwhile, the meats were due to be added to a surf and turf stew that would feed the New Caledonians for days to come. Even with assistance, though, she couldn’t quite lug the platter that held the remaining portions of wild boar. Same as how she’d needed someone her own size to bring it into the feast hall she needed someone to help take it away, and in the end that task would fall to Ierian. They hadn’t spoken much before now, even earlier that morning while helping to hunt down said wild boar. Still, the loose familiarity and the fact he was the only one her size still lingering made the decision easy. 

Would you be willing to help me before being on your way?” Her voice was chocolatey and warm, belying the bashfulness she felt having to come and ask some poor pseudo-stranger for his time and effort when he ought to be heading out to enjoy the remainder of his evening. “It’s only the boar I need help carrying out, and only just to my sled. I can carry it the rest of the way back to the cookhouse from there.” Aah, but what about offloading it once she was there? For now she left that part out, unwilling to burden him any more than was necessary. Besides, making the task seem small would make him more likely to help, wouldn’t it? That was her hope.


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Ierian could look like many things depending on light and proximity. He could be seen as a hulking brute or skulking beast in low light. He could be discerned as a man heavily scarred and bent by age and old injury up close. It was when he spoke and showed his behavior that a thoughtful old Luperci could be discerned.

Somewhere between the joy of the Feast, the quiet conversations with Saga, the occasional brush with Bellad or his little nephew and niece, he got the chance to survey the remains of the main course. One could dream of a pack to be so fortunate as to leave so much unfinished food. The voice of the huntress from their recent foray, who he knew also had her hand in preparing the meal, caught him at that point.

“Hm…?” He turned his head with a soft hum. His hand flexed slightly around the heft of his massive staff, rendered more festive for today’s occasion. “Very well. This I should be able to do.” It was little wonder he’d ask him. Not many Caledonians could be her equals in stature. Of course there was Hokori, but it was safe to assume she wouldn’t be there to assist. He too has had some to drink, but the intoxication was mostly gone now. Though perhaps not traces of the drinks’ scent.

The elder Songthorn set his staff aside, leaning it against a wall to be retrieved later. Then he turned to the woman. The way he balanced unassisted by the staff almost made it seem as though there was some instance of adaptation there. One could almost suggest that Ierian was testing his own two feet before putting them to work. Not giving it another thought, the older healer reached for the side of the platter, taking hold of it and nodding at his pack mate.

“Let us proceed, though we may need to pace ourselves.”

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Grey eyes looked on somewhat pensively, her thoughts disparate from the task at hand as she slowly lifted her end of the platter and shared the weight of it with him, taking special care to guide them around so that she was walking backward with the platter and he was able to more comfortably walk forward with it. “Tell me if you need a moment. I’m in no rush,” she’d explain, but left it at that. The offer was there but she didn’t want to risk sounding patronizing. Rather, she’d shift the subject. In the end she couldn’t help but mention that “You, and your brother, too… you remind me of home.” My, my! Quite a thing to say to a stranger, for sure. “Not that I know either of you, of course. It’s just the face. Your coats. The size. Forgive me if that sounds strange.” 

All that confided, she’d tuck her ears and averted her gaze somewhat. Self-conscious. For a little while thereafter she focused on getting them out of the dining hall and on their way to making it outside, eyes on where she was going rather than on him so that she didn’t risk tripping on the steps quite like she was tripping over her attempts at idle conversation. With each step her nacre beads and seashell charms would chime to create a kind of music to fill any pockets of quiet between them. “Caledonia is a far shore from where I’m from. It’s nice to find some familiarity. It was also nice to… find something unfamiliar? I’ve never been to a feast before. It was quite something.” There we go! Another, better attempt. Less awkwardly interpersonal, too.


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His state often found ways to humble him, but over time the new pace became all the more familiar. He could almost tell where his limits lay, and did his best not to let hubris drive him past them. Only pain awaited as a reward for pushing himself too hard. The way they carried the plate with the leftovers, he could clearly see her, try, as always, to read the non-verbal cues of a fellow Soul. New Caledonians conversed differently, but there was a sense of familiarity about the wolfess with the wild mane.

A soft laugh rumbled through his throat in response to her reminiscence. “I understand. You I could easily picture by the campfire.”

Though he concurred, which hopefully showed he was not offended, he did not pressure her into further conversation on the matter. She had not been with the pack long. And even without conversation there was plenty to fill the space. The still-tantalizing smell of remaining food, the sound of her peculiar accessories. Ierian took the opportunity to study them, which may well have made it seem as though he were examining Celaeno attentively.

She spoke up again and urged him into conversation. “My brother and I found many strange things, and were strangers to many.” He mused with a somewhat thoughtful smile. “And yet, we were welcomed. We even found Howlbond.” The last word landed somewhat with more weight, like a profound term involving both pride and a sort of fondness. “It is well that the pack has occasions such as these to feast...” He trailed off, and his gaze grew heavy with thought, though what about, specifically, he didn't voice.

There was a happy occasion before that ended, against all festivities, in the loss of a pack mate to exile. He wondered if she'd found a place somewhere, outside of this one that he had grown to call a new home. With a slight grunt, he readjusted his grip on the platter, his hold still firm. Whether laden with thoughts or not, one thing the scarred wolf certainly wasn’t was a slacker. “Are you at peace in the pack?”

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His study of her jewelry would reveal a plethora of detail to what the wild-maned wolfess considered ‘finery’ fit for a feast. Interwoven with her braids would be polished beads formed from tumbling broken shards of seashell, their pearlescent sheen akin to dew clinging to her dark and contrasting hair. The raw, intact shells she wore would jingle and clink together, having been incorporated into her hair ties and used in her dangling bracelets and necklaces. Each time they’d pass a window the moonlight would wash over them and cause the jewelry to shimmer. What’s more, the piebald fur that she wore across her shoulders like a shawl would shimmer along with the jewelry, whites turning to silvers and the dappled greys taking on a glossy sheen. In the daylight it had been an interesting yet relatively humble ensemble. Yet, now that night was setting in? Her shells and shawl were far more than they seemed.

To his question of whether she was at peace or not Celaeno would once more find the courage to meet his gaze, attempting to read his expression a moment while she chewed on her answer. “At peace? Do you mean to say content? I feel… content, yes. Happy, even. Happier than ever. I have run far away from what used to trouble me. Now all that brings me trouble are superficial things. It is beautiful, in a way. I never thought I’d know the luxury of worrying about what to wear rather than what to eat.”

With that, they would make it to the doors that lead outside, and Celaeno would take care with going backward down the steps with the platter, feet touching grass not long thereafter as she lead him around and towards what appeared to be… a sled? Forged of wood and equipped with a harness, Ierian would get his first taste of the eccentric method with which Celaeno moved equipment and supplies around. “Here, I will move around the back, and you just lay it down long-ways-- yep. Like that,” she’d helpfully instruct, getting her own chance to grunt as she bent to set the platter down on the empty sled board at the same time that Ierian moved to lower his end, taking the load off both their backs at long last.


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How much of a connoisseur of finer fashions Ierian was remained open to interpretation, but if nothing else Caelano’s festive finery garnered some of his attention. He wondered where it stood between the scavenged spoils from the wilderness and the clothing traditions of New Caledonia. A question best left to those associated with the Dye Studio of course. Calan Brecours in particular.

Cutting short the would-be drift of his mind towards manners of pack fashion, Ierian instead focused on the answer Celaeno gave him. Like his younger brother, the giant Songthorn did not always emote through facial expressions when there was more minute body language and non-verbal signage with which to communicate. That said, the look on his face, for the most part, seemed to reflect a kind of peaceful focus on his task. His glance, in the meantime, would serve to let her know she had his attention.

“Then it is well. It pleases me that you would come to learn such happiness.” To exchange hunger for matters of maintaining an appearance indeed seemed a luxury, and Ierian spared a solemn nod and a smile to mark his agreement. Grass and leaves replaced the man-made floor underfoot. A slight grunt marked his adjustment to the new terrain, knees bending slightly to support both him and what they were carrying.

When he saw the sled, he was not entirely aware just how they were to position their cargo on it. The occasional cart or saddlebags were vehicles enough to consider. This contraption lacked wheels. Was the long frame underneath to serve as handles for them to continue their journey? Surely the food, however well-earned and well-prepared did not deserve its very own palanquin upon which to be paraded towards storage.

Luckily his guide showed him around it and, in synchronicity with the wolfess, he finally lowered the platter on the device. “Hm… Then this…” He attempted, at first, to name the sled, but, lacking words, trailed off, then transitioned straight to the question. “Is it to be carried further?” Freed from the weight on his arms he circled the sled with his slight limp now somewhat more apparent, examining it from different sides. If nothing else, it seemed to have a discernable front and back, but beyond that did not appear intuitive to him. “I would accompany you, if you have further need. Whether of aid or of company for the trek.”

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