[J] [J] farewell to the chains we were born into
#1
Your character's precise species and species percentages: 50% coyote, 50% wolf

Your desired Immunes rank(s) if known: lol I can't decide yet lalala

Your character's cNPC: River Lark Reverie

Your character's animal NPCs: N/A

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At the Inferni borderlines, the winter girl screeched a frantic sound into the clouded sky. Please help. Hugging her arms and shivering, she stared into the fire-clan beyond the skull-tipped spikes, an image long since trained into her mind by her father's stories.




"Please don't panic, Winter," said the young man of rich browns behind her, a black cloak balled up and pressed to his muzzle. Blood dripped into his lap, into the snow. The characteristic smile his sister relied on had been betrayed for a grimace and wrinkled brow. "I'm going to be okay."




She kept her back to him. "Do you think they followed us?"




"I don't know. I don't think so."




Her long, white locks picked up as if they belonged to the winter and the winds wished to reclaim them. "I'm scared," she said after a beat.




"Of Inferni? Dad insisted they were good people when he used to talk about them."




"Of—of everything. All of this." The Reverie girl walked back to him and gently took his hand and the cloak from his wound. The gashes, the missing fur, the blood—it turned her stomach as it turned away her eyes. Steeling herself, Dove wiped the matted cloak at the wound.




"Ow, ow, please be careful," said River Lark.




"It's going to scar."




"That's okay."




Dove glowered at him. "Are you serious?"




He tried to smile his newly torn lips. "It'll look cool, right?"




"You're the only one of us that doesn't really look like Dad. I'd rather you didn't change that now." She patted at the wound, then replaced her hand with his over the wound. "I'm—I'm going to look around. In case they're still here."




River Lark frowned. "Winter, please don't leave me here alone."




His eyes, big and gold, voiced a fear she recognized to be her own. Glancing all directions Dove held her breath. She pulled off her bow and notched an arrow, and after a moment spent visibly hesitating she sat down in the snow beside him, the weapon still poised and her ears ever-turning. River put a hand to her shoulder and smiled. Dove didn't smile back.




It wasn't supposed to be this way, she thought. They were supposed to see the red star's aftermath with Saffron and then go home. They were supposed to stay together and bring back stories to Juniper Peace as a family. They were supposed to make their parents, their pack proud. They were Junipers. Nomads since birth. They were supposed to know how to fend for themselves while abroad.




Instead, there they were. Their eldest sibling, dead; the four remaining, divided. She thought Gust and Mint probably hated her. River had stayed behind with her for her sake, and now he had been hurt. Scarred. A few weeks past, he had spent his first birthday with her, with miserable and troublesome Dove. Not with the rest of their happy, loving family.




...Would their family even be happy and loving anymore? The look Dove imagined on her father's face when he learned the circumstances of Saffron's death through Gust and Mint...




She put the bow and arrow aside, pulled up the collar of her sliding sweater, and buried her face in her knees. River Lark pressed his wound and rubbed her back.




They waited.




They didn't have a choice.

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#2
Vesper rushed through the snow, her coal-tipped tail streamed out behind her as she bounded across drifts and over logs and deadfall hidden beneath the white blanket. Frost and saliva flecked whiskers as she pulled her lips back and growled, yellowing teeth exposed to the cold. Blue eyes narrowed.

The ravens had been on edge lately. Strangers, they said, wolves, they lurked close to the borders and then disappeared like smoke. Paranoid as she was, Vesper didn’t hesitate to believe the worst of their intentions. It could not be coincidence.

And now—

A cry for help.

She fumbled across a frozen brook. Claws scraped ice then hauled her onto the opposite bank, where she continued to run. She was closest, she thought, already on patrol; but certainly her Bellum would have heard and come running too.

The scent of blood was metallic in the crisp winter air, and then Vesper emerged from the tangle of bramble and dead ferns, scarred face contorted in a defensive growl as she came upon them: two hybrids, a girl white with charcoal streaks in her hair, and an earthen boy nursing a wounded muzzle.

“Come here,” Vesper ordered, tail stiff, and her eyes darted past them to the forest beyond. “Are you being pursued?”
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#3
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Within minutes their call met response; a coyote burst from the underbrush bristling and torn at every nook and cranny of her being. River Lark merely startled, while Dove sucked in breath fast, leapt to her feet and grabbed her bow with shaking hands. She didn't notch an arrow. She couldn't. The veteran before them boasted more scars and a rattling charisma than Dove could even interpret, and if that coyote were to turn on them, Dove knew she and her brother were already dead. Even her father had been banged up and bruised, but never like this. What sort of fortune did that woman boast, that she could lose so much flesh but still emerge breathing each time?




"I don't know," Dove said, moving only once River had taken her arm and pulled her along. "A couple people just, just attacked us, and we just, we ran."




Grip on Dove's arm, River Lark whispered to his sister, "Didn't Dad mention someone like," and gestured at his ear, implying it to be missing. Dove looked at him big-eyed and too bewildered to think straight. River exhaled and looked back to the stranger. "We left everything in the woods, ma'am. We don't mean any harm."




"I can, um, I can clean River Lark's wound if we can just have a place to hide, and some supplies." She was clutching her bow in tight fists, squirming and swiveling her ears. "We didn't know where else to go. I thought they were going to..."




"Winter," her brother interrupted, patient, mindful. They didn't need to screw this up.

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#4
The white coywolf snatched up a bow, and Vesper bared teeth in warning though the rest of her posture compensated for this, lowering to placate her. She sniffed the air but smelled no sign of attackers beyond the blood, and she relaxed a hair, her eyes sweeping to the girl as she was pulled to the safety of the borders by (presumably) her brother. She explained that they were just attacked—out of the blue, was implied, and Ves frowned at this.

“Did you see them? Smell them?” she pressed, but already turned to pace back through the trees. As such, she didn’t notice the exchange between the siblings, and didn’t look at them again until the skulls were out of sight.

“I’m bringing you to a building in our territory,” Vesper said. Snow and leaves crunched beneath her feet. She trod on, head low, nose pointed. “We have a medic who can tend to him, too.”

Winter, said the boy, River Lark, and Ves’ ear swiveled at the name. She paused and looked at them at last, curiosity lighting pale blue eyes. Thinking of her mother, if only for a brief moment, made her think of other things. She looked at charcoal-streaked hair, red muzzles, and opened her mouth.

Footfalls came from the trees ahead, and Vesper turned back around. She exchanged no words with the dark coyote that slunk from the foliage, only jerked her head from whence they came.

“What did you leave in the woods,” she asked River Lark directly, and if given an answer looked to Conrad meaningfully. The warrior would bring these things back, if he could—and even if not, Ves trusted him to make sure the area was clear of enemies. Hopefully the scent trail was strong.

“You’ll be safe,” the Aquila added. “Just keep walking with me.”

Then she went on. This wasn’t time for questions.
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#5
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River Lark looked at his sister given the inquiry. "I didn't get a really good look at them, did you?"




"I don't know, they were wolves," she said, shrugging. "I was too busy worrying about you."




The coyote implied for them to follow, and they did. Both siblings crossed the invisible line between skull-staked borders with visible uncertainty. Dove watched behind their backs as they followed subordinately until the ivory of the skulls had blended in fully to the backdrop of snow.




"This is all very kind of you, thank you for your help," said River Lark, and he grabbed his sister's arm to stop her when the four-legged coy turned and looked—really looked—at them. Together, the siblings blinked and exchanged looks of discomfort, extinguished when a darker coyote emerged and Dove grabbed for an arrow.




"A couple backpacks is all we had," Dove said, trying to cover up shame for her jumpiness by being first to respond. She held down her eyes and slipped the arrow back into place. "Some blankets and basic stuff. We could replace it, but Saffron's necklace and her knitting..."




The two looked at each other again. "We would really appreciate getting those things back," said River Lark, smiling pitifully. He thanked the dark coyote before the Infernian departed them, and Dove meekly called after Conrad to be careful.




They walked. Quiet, for a time. River removed the padding on his wound to find the gashes were nowhere near closing up.




"You're the leader here, aren't you?" asked Dove, once she summoned the courage and breathed away the worst of the shakes. "This is Inferni... right?"

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#6
The scene would have been too chaotic to catch a glimpse of attackers, but Vesper was unsurprised to hear they were wolves. Paranoia weighed down, and she attempted to fight it off. An attack on a coyote was not an attack on all coyotes, but their history made her leery. It was possible this pair were thieves, or liars feigning injury to spy, but in her heart Vesper could not dwell on the possibility. Not when they smelled faintly of Lykoi and the girl had streaks in her monochromatic hair.

She did not fault them for jumpiness, though the brother spoke politely and grasped his icy sister’s arm, for comfort or reminder. Vesper glanced at Conrad to make sure he’d heard of their goods—the necklace and knitting in particular—and relaxed again when he nodded and trotted off.

Deeper in her own territory, surrounded by familiar scents, Vesper relaxed further. Enough to laugh, a little, at the girl’s query.

“The skulls didn’t tip you off?” she asked, raising a scarred brow, and paused. “I am the leader, yes. Vesper.” She looked them over again; the girl, in particular, still caught her interest. “Did you mean to come here? I mean, before you were attacked?”
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#7
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The leader's laugh startled Dove most of all. More than the attack, than the terror, than her scars or River's scars or the skulls on the borders. The coyote laughed. Dove took solace in the sanctuary around them and found herself breathing easier, but she was appalled such an event could be laughed off as one might laugh off a splinter in their thumb. She and her brother had been attacked. They'd done nothing wrong and they were attacked. The Reverie wasn't sure she could even summon a smile, let alone a sincere chuckle, and the mere thought of reaching a point of callousness to danger sickened the one-year-old to her stomach.


Dove threw up her hands, and her frantic voice reflected a breaking point. "The skulls— No! I don't know how many places around here line their homes with gore! All we've seen since coming here is gore!"


Her brother stopped her, stepping between she and the leader and spoke quietly to her, reminding her of their situation and how poorly the last scenario had gone when she lost all wits, the same scenario that had landed them where they were now without their siblings. After minor coaxing the two nodded two each other and River stepped out of the way, flashing Vesper a sympathetic look as they picked up speed to catch up.


"We weren't sure where to go," Dove restarted, sobered. Ashamed. "Just not... home. We knew Inferni was around here, we knew to look for the skulls. Dad said before we left that if something happened, we would be safe there."


Her shoulders sagged. "My brother and sister went home. River and me thought we'd figure out something around here, and then... this happened too, so... Here we are."


"It isn't this..." A pause, as River Lark spoke. "Bloody, where we come from. I guess."


"My name's Dove Reverie," she said. "He's River Lark."

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#8
The girl’s wary demeanor shattered to sharp points, her voice exclaiming and her hands tossed skyward. Quickly, Vesper’s dark smile faded and something like shame came into her face, but she let the brother soothe the girl and walked on in awkward silence.

Carefully the white coywolf spoke up again, and Vesper glanced over her shoulder. She nodded, understanding. There were worse places out there—but there were peaceful places, too. Had she not had innocence broken with her mother’s body the day she met her father, she too might have balked at this place: the skulls, the history, the blood. Or—she couldn’t remember if she had. She’d been in Inferni far longer than she hadn’t, and the clan was as much a part of her as it was any Lykoi.

“I’m sorry,” she said first, an apology and gesture of sympathy both. “We’ll take care of you here,” she said. She wanted to promise that they would be safe, but she couldn’t do that; couldn’t lie like that again. “For as long as you need. A week, a season, it doesn’t matter.”

She frowned.

“Who’s your father?”
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<a href="LINK" class="permanent-disability" title="Crippled right hind leg."></a><br/>
<a href="#!" class="skill-fighting" title="Fighter mastered in feral combat."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-generic" title="Experienced survivalist able to scout, hunt, and navigate."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-animals" title="Able to talk to, care for, and train ravens."></a>
</div>

</div>
</div>

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[/html]
#9
[html]

For all the good Micah attributed to Inferni in his stories, so too had he claimed danger there: Some of the scars on his face and shoulders had been earned from a clan member before he himself had joined them. Dove knew to approach the fire coyotes taking great precautions. Their leader, Vesper, was every evidence Dove needed that the clan would be a culture shock. But she hadn't expected an apology. She hadn't expected to be taken past the borders and promised safety with next to no questions asked.


But Dove was strung out and too exhausted to maintain suspicions, and River Lark's scars still needed tending. She noticed her brother had grown quiet. She'd ask about it once they were settled and she could take a better look at his scratches.


"Thank you," Dove replied, though with some uncertainty. If she or her brother had grown to more resemble their wolven mother than coyote father, would things here be the same? "His name is Micah Lykoi. He said he only lived here for a little while, but his side of the family has always been here. He told us a few stories."


"He's mentioned you," added her brother.

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#10
[html]

00+

See galleries for credit.

Micah, echoed Vesper, and looked at them again. She smiled, though it was small, fleeting. Good memories of a kind-hearted man could hardly linger when she was studying his daughter's shellshocked expression and his son's bleeding muzzle, but she gave her head a fond shake. Good things, I hope, she joked. If you at all take after him, I'd be extremely glad to have you stay.

She would not be terribly surprised or disappointment if they wandered, either. Clearly Inferni was not what they expected; she thought of Kharma's warning, of wandering Lykois. She knew, even before she knew who the wolves in the woods were, that she could not promise them true safety.

She returned her gaze to the path ahead, ears still flickering for the sounds of pursuit, and trotted on. We're almost there. Harosheth will see to you, Lark, and you'll have time to decide what you need to do.

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<a href="//wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Players.Raze" target="_blank" title="PLAYER WIKI" class="player-wiki"></a>
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<a href="#!" title="I prefer if you do NOT use graphical tables in our threads. Thanks!" class="no-tables"></a><br/>
<a href="//wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Characters.Vesper" target="_blank" title="CHARACTER WIKI" class="character-wiki"></a>
<a href="//imgur.com/a/X5Zf0" target="_blank" title="CHARACTER GALLERY &amp; CREDITS" class="ic-gallery"></a>
<a href="#!" class="lupus-preference" title="LUPUS unless otherwise stated."></a>
<a href="#!" class="accompaniment" title="Typically accompanied by a raven or two."></a>
<a href="LINK" class="permanent-disability" title="Crippled right hind leg."></a><br/>
<a href="#!" class="skill-fighting" title="Fighter mastered in feral combat."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-generic" title="Experienced survivalist able to scout, hunt, and navigate."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-animals" title="Able to talk to, care for, and train ravens."></a>
</div>

</div>
</div>

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[/html]
#11
[html]

And done?


You'll have time to decide what you need to do.


She didn't want to. Dove didn't want to think, to make decisions, to make any more calls that could potentially weight her shoulders any heavier, for she wasn't certain her fragile bones could bear a greater burden. River Lark, for all his Juniper-esque naivete preachings, was a rational thinker and a good read of people and scenarios. It had been her choice that landed the two of them unfortunate and directionless in Inferni; surely River Lark could step up and make their next choice. The despairing glance she turned to him spoke these concerns, and despite his bloodshed and troubles, her younger brother nodded acknowledgment.


She was ashamed. Vesper seemed to think highly of their father, and reflected upon his children optimistic expectations that Dove felt doomed not to fulfill. The Reverie looked at her feet and hadn't summoned a smile. She wasn't sure if she would belong in Inferni, nor was she certain how long they would remain, but the impression her father left behind had opened a door for Dove and her brother. The white Reverie hoped to do him proud, at least in what span they were with the fire clan, long or short.


Dove didn't know the name Harosheth, but recognized her surname — Kimaris — when they met as a shared part of her paternal lineage. Neither sibling commented on it while Harosheth tended to the cuts in River Lark's muzzle, and remarked like Dove about scarring. They hadn't need to worry about blood loss or serious stitching, and when the siblings were sent away after fixings were made, they felt stranded, like they weren't sure where to go.


At least, for now, they had each other.


You'll have time to decide what you need to do.


Better said than done.

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