[P] he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth
#1
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The rain drizzled down on him. His cloak protected him from the rain, but Stigmata still needed to move through the muck with the ends of his robe lifted. It was muddier here, in between the limestone caves where some coyotes chose to dwell. It was fitting, he thought, his brothers would chose this more feral place where he settled easily into the mansion. The coyote could smell little with the overpowering scents of of salt, mud, and rain drowning out all else, and he was quickly growing frustrated. Dry as most of him was beneath the cloak, he would still be soaked if he stayed out here too long.

He had always inclined toward humanity, having picked up reading when he was young. He had not worn clothes, however, when he'd last seen his brothers. This had been a habit picked up along the road -- finding many canines donning clothes, the dark-hued coyote thought it most appropriate if he did, too. What he chose -- drab browns, several shades lighter and less chocolatey than even his fur -- was simple. The robes were primarily formless, having only sleeves and a body. He tied a strip of leather, long and thin, around his waist to bring shape to it.

Picky as he was about his cleanliness, this did not extend to his general appearance. He did not care for dressing excessively or presenting himself as foppish or extravagant. He was still, after all, a boy shaped by his youth. His wild mother had influence over him as well as his somewhat more cultured father. He strove beyond both their bounds, however, having adopted several habits along his way here that might outcast him among his family. He sought to make Messiah -- and by proxy, he knew, Nephilim -- understand his purpose.

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#2
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Messy's in Lupus form and this post is lame.


He dozed near the mouth of the cavern, half-lidded eyes wandering the grey of the bay as rain drummed on the limestone. He was not quite asleep, but still wholly in his head as he often was, not thinking about much in particular—Messiah was not a thinker—but still daydreaming, and vividly enough to rival a hallucination.


In his daydreams, Messiah walked right across that bay outside, paws and rain sending out ripples, but the water was red. He almost tasted iron in his throat and opened his eyes fully at last, stretching his front paws with a yawn. He twisted and batted at a scratchy shoulder with a hind paw—Marlowe's plants had helped, but sometimes he still thought that he felt a flea bite—then straightened suddenly.


A dark coyote wandered about the caves, and while Messiah did not recognize the robed figure at first, telltale scent reached him under the cloak of rain and mud. Stigmata, he barked, and loped from the entrance.



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#3
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The clouds did not threaten storm. They were pale, but very gray and heavy. It would rain until the sun came up tomorrow, Stigmata thought, or perhaps even long. It was difficult to tell longer than that. He had been certain his brothers lived amongst these caves, but the longer he wandered the less sure he was. If it hadn't been raining, if he could smell -- he might have known for sure, but as it was he was wandering in the dark blind. It was not until he heard his name that he knew he'd been right all along. Turning, the coyote greeted his brother with warm olive-colored eyes.

Messiah, he said, smiling warmly even while peering into the darkness of the cave behind the coppery-hued coyote. Is this your home? he asked, knowing the answer already. It must be damp in the rain, he said. But no more than the mansion, I think. The hybrid's olive-colored eyes met his brother's, and Stigmata saw Messiah looked healthier than he had. He was not much heavier, but his ribs looked more filled, his fur healthier.

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#4
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'scue me while I am still trying to figure Messy out v_v


His warm-hued, dark brother smiled at him, and Messiah smiled in return. It was not as enthusiastic a grin as one he might level at an idol, but of his family, he considered only his parents and Stigmata much smarter than he was. He loved his brother, but he loved Nephilim too. It was strange, and he didn't altogether know how to feel, but all he knew was that Stigmata spoke well—and when he spoked, Messiah listened.


The mansion stinks, Messiah said in the usual blunt, casual way he talked. He could speak more carefully if he wanted, but it was effort he didn't care for unless he needed to intimidate or convince someone. This cave here is actually very dry. Drier than some of the others. Come on in. He grinned and wagged his tail, turning and padding back into the comforting darkness of his home—which stank, but only of wet coyote and rawhide. It was natural and more preferrable to the mustiness and mold of the creaky old human building.


I'm glad you're here, he added, turning around. You belong here.



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#5
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Stigmata smiled and nodded his acquiescence. The mansion stank of old, rot, and dust. It was still better than a damp cave, Stigmata thought. He needed smell the rot and dust only when he was walking to and from his room. Within, a thorough cleaning and application of flowers and sweet-smelling grasses had done the trick. He followed his brother within the cave -- and was surprised to find it dry. He pushed the cloak from his head and lingered in the doorway to remove it, not wishing to make the dry cave damp. Lacking anywhere neat to hang it, the coyote did his best on a slight outcropping of rock. He'd just have to hope it didn't fall into the dirt.

I do, he agreed absently, glancing around the cave. His deep olive eyes settled on Messiah, and he smiled. This is not at all uncomfortable. The hybrid settled back against the wall, leaning and relaxing. He kept looking at his coppery-hued brother, but only commented with absent agreement. He waited, patient, lime-colored eyes never leaving his brother's multi-hued ones.

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#6
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Messiah quirked his mouth in a smile as Stigmata hung up his cloak, or tried to. The rest of his body quirked, too—paws wiggling against dusty limestone and tail wiggling at the tip in amusement. It was odd, the cloak that had kept his brother dry, but Messiah had seen stranger articles of clothing by far.


The darker coyote settled down, and Messiah watched him a moment. He looked more like Nephilim than Messiah did; Messiah had taken on the hues of the true red coyotes like the Massacres. But color did not matter as much as conformation and scent, in the case of his mother. They were coyote, if tainted. They were enough to survive.


How was your journey? Messiah asked, and nodded at the precariously-hung cloak. Where did you get that?



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#7
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The road was long, the coyote responded, his olive-hued eyes not moving from Messiah. But it was not unpleasant. I taught a coyote how to read -- or, at least, I started him on the path to reading. He traded me his donkey, that cloak, and some other odds and ends. Most of what he had, actually. Stigmata's smile was warm on his chocolate-hued muzzle. Hopefully, Stigmata had imparted more than simply the ability to read on this canine. Strange what a canine will trade for something untouchable. Having grown up around a reading father, Stigmata almost took the skill for granted.

And how was your way? How is Nephilim? Stiggy did not need to inquire whether Messiah had seen any of their other siblings: no doubt they, too, would have followed Messiah to the land of their childhood legends. It was no matter -- perhaps they were on the path as well. Their way might loop and zag, even pause for a time -- months or years -- yet it would end in the same place, Stigmata knew.

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If one stopped by the cave and witnessed the coyotes talking, one wouldn't likely assume they were brothers. Appearances aside, where Messiah's speech was blunt and accented with laziness and simple words, Stigmata spoke smoothly, sounded educated. They were inclined to different things, though Messiah had learned many of the same lessons as his darker sibling. He could speak the words too, if he wanted to. He could do all the same things. But he was a man of action where Stigmata was one of guidance and talk, and their interests differed even beyond that. Messiah wanted to mock the thought of owning a cloak and a donkey, when one had fur and feet on their own, but he would not. He respected Stigmata too much.


What did he need to read so badly? Messiah asked, a giggle escaping a sharp-angled jaw. He sobered quickly. The word? Maybe. It was all that was important to read. Messiah did not read well, not at all—but he knew the word of coyotes and God, and that was what was important.


The way was easy, Messiah said, shrugging. I met a funny dog, and he made me a shiv. His fire-colored eyes darted to the shadows of the den where the odd makeshift weapon lay. It wasn't a finely crafted or scavenged knife, only a sharp screw meant to stab and poke—but he spoke of it like it was a fine sword forged in flame. Nephilim is okay. I'm worried about him, though. He still chews at himself, no matter how much I wrap the hide. But maybe others here will look after him, too.


His voice shifted—a mark of what he was beneath anxious fidgeting and quick smiles. He mimicked his brother in this, if subconsciously, when the topic settled amid deep emotion—like love and worry for a brother, or rage for an idiot who'd die without him.



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#9
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Stigmata shrugged and offered his coppery brother a smile. He could not say what the other canine needed to read so badly. It had not seemed a matter of having a particular thing to read, but the idea of reading itself -- that had fascinated the coyote almost too much for him to say. A simple creature, half-feral and reminiscent of Stigmata's brothers in a time when he hadn't seen siblings in long weeks -- it had been a much-needed meeting for both of them.

He may never stop, Stigmata said. He was uncertain if Nephilim would ever grow out of the habit as they'd thought when they were younger. So long as we are with him, though, he'll be alright. The chocolate-hued coyote leaned forward and caught his brother's gaze with his deeper olive eyes. I'm glad you stayed with him. Thank you. I won't be leaving him, or you, again. It might have been his brothers who left first, but Stigmata ought to have followed. It was, in his mind, his abandonment of them. Their other siblings had their parents -- he should not have left Messiah and Nephilim to the cruel world by themselves.

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I am glad he has us, Messiah said with a smile that hid bitterness. The fool, the halfwit, he would die of infection or bite his own fucking arm off if he did not have us. Nephilim's only redeeming trait was that he loved and worshipped Messiah. But with Stigmata here -- Messiah did not know where his broken brother would turn. If he'd less respect for Stigmata, he would be jealous and angry.


But he respected Stigmata and loved him, and when green eyes remarkable in spite of a dull color found his, Messiah smiled. He wagged his tail and dipped his head before stepping forward and nudging affectionately against his sibling. It's okay. There's no reason to leave, anyway. We belong here. He'd said the words dozens of times and never tired of them -- they tasted right in his mouth.


You'll live in that uh, tall house thing though? Messiah asked, ears twitching with uncertainty. Not the caves? It mattered little to him, though he disliked the notion of the rotting wood thing -- and he might try to push Nephilim to Stigmata, see how he liked waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of saliva and gnawing. The thought passed, and he yawned -- the noise drowned out by a peal of thunder that made him jolt and grin again, nervously.



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#11
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Stigmata nodded. There were many places in the world they might have gone, but they were made for Inferni. He did not doubt others would follow in their wake. Their parents were young, and there might be many happy births between Priest and Symera. The chocolate-hued coyote, however, knew his place was here. There was more to be done here -- he did not belong in the back of the woods, the middle of nowhere, with only family to keep him.

Yes, Stigmata said, though the response was swallowed by the deep rumble of the storm. Yes, he repeated when it had passed. He did not smile, for fear his brother would take it as a smile at his jumping. Not the caves. More coyotes live there. More coyotes who'd be receptive to his word, anyway. Stigmata needed every coyote he could count as an ally, but those who thought on their feet and had the advantages of worldly knowledge were more valuable.

Messiah, the hybrid said. His voice had changed too, a subtle shift from casual chatter to purposeful words, each formulated carefully. You and Nephilim are my brothers, my kin. We will always be more closely allied than most. The hybrid dropped to his brother's height, as he had done for the other. I know you understand the way. Others here do not. He reached out his hand, offering for one of his brother's coppery paws. We must be closer now than ever before, and fight for each other. We will fight in different ways -- but the same fight, back-to-back. The corners of the coyote's eyes crinkled with a smile. Do you agree?

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Large ears, one tattered in a struggle, stood alert at Messiah's name. He did not follow Stigmata as single-mindedly and loyally as Nephilim followed them -- but he respected the word of his brother and recognized it as true, as intelligent.


Generally word of fighting would fill the young coyote's chest with excitement and cause him to leap about, but -- he smiled instead. Odd, calm. He settled one dainty paw in his brother's hand and nodded in understanding -- true understanding. It helped that he was single-minded, but his sole purpose in the world was the subject of this conversation, and so he accepted it.


I do. We must -- always, brother. He grinned. You fight with your words -- and I'll fight to cleanse.



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