[P] Climbing higher, through the fire
#1
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Optime | Drifter Bay; mid-day | NPC: Cedar
(+460)


Kamari’s scent is disguised. Feel free to PP them coming onto the herd in your post!


There was a chilly, cold breeze that swept down from the Halcyon mountains and across the open plains of Drifter Bay. It made the tall grasses undulate like waves out on the Loch. The grass had only started to turn green again with the steadily warming weather, and it made for a patchwork of color as it stretched on and on and rolled with the hills. In the coming weeks, the scenery would be sure to change drastically, the large expanse dotted with a wide array of blossoming wild flowers. On that day though, it looked as plain as it had in the many weeks prior.


From her vantage point atop her mustang’s back, Kamari could see that snowbanks still persisted in the natural shadow of hills or rocky outcroppings. From her horse’s gait, she could feel that the ground had grown soft in places that the sun had not fully dried out from the snowmelt. Thankfully, it didn’t seem too terrible, not like some of the marshier areas of the Kingdom, at least. The ground was firm enough for her light-weight stallion to run and cut across.


For the trek beyond the pack’s borders, Kamari had donned plain and commonplace attire; something that wouldn’t stand out and something that wouldn’t give any hint of her origins. She was dressed in a high-collared, short-sleeve, leather jerkin atop a linen tunic. Aided with a pair of loose, darkly-colored pants, her true figure was distorted, her true gender at first glance, easily mistakable. A stealth individual first, the only armor she wore garbed both of her forearms; leather bracers that bore the marks of previous engagements. Her knife perched in its usual spot in the small of her back, and her bow was settled across her lap, ready for usage at a moment’s notice. At her side, the arrows of her quiver rattled softly with the steady movement of her surefooted mount.


Her hood was down, allowing her a larger range of view across the open terrain. There was little to see as far as wildlife went, more birds than anything else. The air changed, and the Shadow’s nose twitched in preparation as a blast of wind whipped by them. Sure enough, she picked up the scent of horses.


The pair had set out to check out the horse herds; to count their numbers, to judge their health. It was a task that might have fallen more under Equinest Grievous’ duties, but, no matter. It never hurt to have help, particularly when the herds’ home ranges stretched as far as they did.


Kamari’s nose wrinkled as she detected something else amongst the scent that had been blown their way.





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Kamari Kaiser
[Image: lbE6mWvb_o.png]
 

Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#2
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Jethro wasn't entirely sure how Marlowe had convinced him to go along. He had recalled saying no, and then offering other, better options, and yet here he was.

The two of them had walked a good length of the Bay on foot, tracking the horses slowly. It was the stallion Marlowe was insistent upon finding, though he had not told Jethro why. Whatever his reasons, bringing Tobi would cause trouble. Any stallion would.

The blizzard probably caused them problems, Jethro told his companion.

Ahead of him, relying upon a crude looking walking stick, Marlowe grunted. Probably. That's why we're looking for them.

I thought you said you saw them.

I did see them, that's why we're going this way.

We ought to try bribing those ravens, they'd be able to tell us where the horses are, Jethro said, looking behind them.

There's a rider up over there, Marlowe announced.

The blonde turned and saw what his companion had spotted – a hooded figure on a dun colored horse. Both were small, but the horse was hardy looking and well fed.

What he also saw, and only because he was looking for it, was the secondary, darker shape tailing the rider. Wary of this unknown presence he spoke a word to indicate as much to Marlowe, but the darker coyote only had his travel bag – he would be next to useless if they got into proper trouble at a distance.

The Troupe wasn't that far away.

Jethro had his weapons, and these were no-man's lands. The presence of these unknowns was enough reason to be wary, especially given the nearest place of origin was west – and both coyotes know this plenty well.



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The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#3
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Looking after the horses certainly did seem more suited to his cousin, but Grievous was all a flutter with his newlywed lifestyle and horrifically annoying when it came to his new routine. O'Riley found him downright miserable most of the time, a boring fellow who had been far more interesting when he was full of fury and turmoil.

Still, there was no shame in sharing the burden and to his own ends, O'Riley was drawn back to the Waste as he was drawn back to the mine.

He hadn't been back since the earth shook.

A part of him was afraid it would be gone.

He was always secretly pleased when he and Kamari worked together. Her husband was displeased by his presence, and Kamari was violent and fun in a way both like and unlike the others. Her upbringing had set her apart, and she recognized this. O'Riley was drawn to things which peaked his interest, and the master spy was one such person.

Owing to the unpredictable weather and his own overwhelming size, O'Riley had shifted to his native form. Four legged and as relatively light as he could be, the wolfdog was nevertheless already muddied and resigned to his fate. Until the days grew properly warm, the ground would dance between half frozen and wet. There were plenty of dry places to be found among the peat bog, but they were doing their best to keep some distance between one another.

He was lower to the ground and slower to pick up the scent, but when he did the thick fur on the wolfdog's spine bristled.

It was only by chance he saw them look in his direction – and O'Riley suspected at once that he had been spotted.

I think they saw me, he muttered, speaking just loud enough for Kamari to hear. Though he had since gone still, his silvery-black shape was not aided by the tall, dead-winter grass.



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Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
#4
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NPC: Cedar
(+424)


Sorry for droppin’ the ball on this, Mel @___@


She spotted two unfamiliar figures in the far distance. The larger of the two was of a pale, dusty coloration. Their companion was much shorter in comparison, and had darker fur as well. They looked male, judging from their general build alone, and, while she couldn’t make out any finer details, their tall ears instantly spoke of coyote origins. Her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed into a thin line.


They appeared to notice their presence—or at least her and Cedar’s—judging by the fact that the pair were staring obviously in their direction. Trailing behind her horse, O’Riley voiced his concern of having been spotted as well. Kamari gritted her teeth, but didn’t otherwise turn her head to acknowledge the Erilaz. “Tch.” It was an unfortunate turn of events, as it meant that they had likely lost all elements of surprise. “Hang back,” she whispered, trying not to move her mouth too much. She subtly turned and angled Cedar to conveniently block whatever fleeting view they might have had of O’Riley. “Maybe we can throw them off.” She urged Cedar to continue forward towards the pair in such a way that continued to block off their line of sight of O’Riley.


It wasn’t ideal, having to confront the strangers head-on, however, it wasn’t like they had any other choice. Short of leaving and hoping they could double back without being spotted, their presence in the area was known.


Kamari urged the mustang into a trot to cover the distance quicker, to make herself more of an alarming threat than her partner might have been. She casually reached for an arrow from her hip quiver and nocked it to the string of her bow. She didn’t place any tension on the weapon, though, the sight should have been threat enough should the men have any bright idea of trying to wrestle her off her mount.


She let her arrows rattle loudly against each other, no longer able to make use of a surprise attack anyways. As well, hopefully it would be distraction enough to further keep their eyes on her, or, perhaps, unnerve them. “You two looking for something?” She called out loudly to the—hmm, yes, they were indeed high-content coyote mixes. If the ears hadn’t been obvious enough, the blazes on their noses were another telltale giveaway. “Or just passing through?”


The Shadow kept her facial expression cold, neutral, leaving little hint of which would be the correct answer.






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Kamari Kaiser
[Image: lbE6mWvb_o.png]
 

Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#5
[size=120] The rider approached them boldly. She was armed – her arrows loud enough to let both coyotes know that they risked the sharp ends of them should things go sour.

Jethro saw at once the risk presented by being on foot and hated the feeling. At least on horseback he could run, or get some distance between them. That wouldn't help Marlowe, who certainly couldn't run with his damaged leg. Losing his horse had indeed caused new problems that Jethro hadn't fully acknowledged until now.

From the distance, the rider was difficult to place – small and sharp looking, but not exactly like a coyote. Though he could guess at her (something he presumed from the sound of the Shadows' voice) lineage, what concerned Jethro more in this moment was where she had come from.

There was only one place west of here.

“Lookin' for food,” he heard Marlowe answer. “Figured we'd give this place a shot, but ain't had too much luck, y'feel me? Don't suppose you saw anythin' good out there.”

It didn't sound like a question, even if it was meant to be one.

Though he tried not to make it obvious, Jethro was looking for the other, darker shape that had disappeared from his sight.[/size]
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#6
[size=120] He flattened himself to the ground and went still.

From the distance, O'Riley could just make out their voices. Kamari had the advantage even if he wasn't at her back – the arrows would reach the Outsiders before they reached her. Failing that, Cedar was a fast, well-trained horse. If Kamari were ever to encounter trouble, she would (presumably) be able to get away.

They'd be stupid to cause trouble. Any excuse for violence was one O'Riley was likely to seize.

The taller of the two coyotes kept looking in his direction. Using stillness as his aid, the Erilaz did his best to will himself to be overlooked. He was not tawny enough to vanish completely, but he might have been a patch of exposed earth or some cast-shadow if a lazy eye missed his true shape. Moving would make him obvious, he thought.

Still, he felt irritated by his slip-up. [/size]
Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
#7
(+288)
NPC: Cedar
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The darker and older-looking one of the pair answered her. His voice was accented, shorting words and making them draw together to make his speech faster. She’d once heard the accent before; during the war, on the night that she had won her Cueponi prize. She’d been chased by a coyote that clipped his words like the male before her, and, for the barest of moments, Kamari’s breath caught at the distant nightmare of a memory.

Though Inferni had long departed from these lands, its clansman could still be found splintered throughout it. Was it too much of a stretch to entertain the inkling of a suspicion that these two were from the broken Clan?

Kamari’s breath returned in a blink as she casually glanced over her should in the direction she had come from. “I’m afraid there’s nothing out here but rabbits and pheasants.” Though the dark male’s words had come out as more of a statement, she treated it like a question. Her sharp eyes returned to the pair, eyeing them pointedly. “Something that might be hard to catch without a bow or maybe a bit of teamwork in Lupus or Secui.”

“I’d suggest hunting in the forests east of—?” Her gaze flicked to the lighter of the pair, noticing his subtle glances of searching the open grassland behind her. Acting the part, her brows furrowed and she twisted in her saddle as if to see what he might have been looking at. “Hmm? What’s the matter?” She asked the younger male directly, her expression twisting as if she were confused, “You see something?”

She needed him to lose interest in O’Riley, to doubt himself.


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Kamari Kaiser
[Image: lbE6mWvb_o.png]
 

Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#8
[size=120] “That so?” Marlowe asked.

He didn't like the way the stranger was acting – atop that healthy looking horse, approaching them so boldly. People were friendly sometimes, certainly, but there was more to it than that.

There was a lie there too. Even if there weren't more than birds and small prey to be found, the way that the horses went carefully unspoken was telling. Someone who valued the animals wouldn't offer them up for food so easily. Alternatively, if the rider was viewing them as poorly as they seemed, sending them chasing after a herd of horses would be ignorant. A kick alone could kill a Luperci, not to mention the sharp teeth and crushing hooves of the big animals.

When Jethro, finally distracted from his glowering, looked back at the rider, Marlowe saw a deeper concern etched in his face.

He had seen something, the older coyote thought.

“Maybe,” Jethro grunted.

“Big cats live around mountains like these, don't they?” Marlowe mused, glancing towards where the Halcyon loomed in the distance. “What about you? He pressed, trying to commit the features of the short-haired rider to memory. “It sounds like you know this place – got any idea where we might find somethin' decent? You from around here?”[/size]
The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?
Character WikiLa Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#9
(+411)
-shakes off rust from this month-
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Her senses tickled, alerted. The older, dark one, he didn’t sound convinced or as accepting of her explanation as she would have liked. His reaction was almost dismissive, neutral, as if he hadn’t cared for her commentary. He wasn’t disappointed to hear of the bounty she had named, nor the difficulty in catching it. Her training as a master spy warned her of suspicion.

If she didn’t manage to deter them off, she and O’Riley would likely have a fight on their hands.

Though she succeeded in distracting the younger of the two coyotes, the look on his face—combined with a reply that came off as him being purposely difficult and evasive—only further tipped her off that they were likely suspicious of her and the carefully hidden Erilaz in the distance. She chose not to react though, not wanting to give any hint that she was aware of their distrust in her. She had played the part of someone oblivious countless of times before.

“Yes,” she confirmed with a nod to the darker coyote, “It’s best to avoid the area if you don’t have anything to defend yourself with. The mountain cats can take down a wolf, let alone someone closer to our size.” She gestured openly between them. “On foot, you’d be an easy target if you’re not careful.”

“Me though? I tend to wander wherever the game takes me. I’m a fur trader,” she explained easily. The fact was true, after all, for both herself and her alias, Birch. Kamari nodded in the direction of the Dampwoods to the east. “As I was saying before, hunting in the forest east of here is probably your safest bet. It’s unclaimed land all the way to the ocean.”

Kamari ignored his unwavering stare. If they were as suspicious of her as she though they were, he was likely trying to either place her face in his memory or memorize her face, no doubt.

She jerked her nose back to the west. “West of here, a pack has claimed the entire stretch of lowlands. The only way around is through the mountains.” The Shadow looked the pair over again. “I’d suggest stocking up on game before making that trek though. It’s slim pickings up there, and there’s still snow in a lot of places.”

With any luck, they’d be satisfied and be on their way.


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Kamari Kaiser
[Image: lbE6mWvb_o.png]
 

Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi


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