[P] bearer of bad news
#1
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OOC back-dated to the 16th (+)

No one would know where she was until they found her lifeless body washed ashore. And even then they would not know how, or whom had brought her end, where. She had not been alone, people would miss her, they would look for her. Alistair did what he had to, to cover his tracks, to keep he and Atalanta safe.

He was certain now that purity existed only in the eyes of children, it did not live in the hearts of men or women. Once lost it was gone. Finality. From boy and girl to man and woman it dies screaming and opens their eyes. The world is not black and white. It is everything in between, bleak unfathomable grey, shadow upon shadow, light and dark. Grey.

They were coming.

He hadn't been able to sleep that night. A woman was dead. He had blood on his hands.

The morning dawned a fitting grey. Bidding Atalanta a brief farewell (for now.) He saddled his horse and rode hard for the Inferni border. He didn't stop until he saw the stark white tops of mounted skulls and even then he reined Merlin in reluctantly. His eyes searched the skies for dark wings and his ears strained towards their shrill cries. "Vesper." He called out to them. "I need to speak to the Aquila now."

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#2
398 words.

The Aquila was agitated, restless—and beginning to fall into old habits. Attacks beyond the borders had escalated into a full-on assault on their territory, armed and armored wolves riding brazenly into clan territory, and while they had been driven away, the attack had not been without its casualties. Vesper knew that this war—for it had become a war, she could feel it in her aching bones—would not end without several more.

So she patrolled, stalking through Inferni territory with wild, cold eyes and stiff hackles. She kept a close eye on her birds and sent them out, too, though when some did not return she grew more angry and cautious. She barely slept.

Vicira told her that Salsola had been targeted, too—that they had seen deaths under the same full moon. Vesper did not know what to do with this information, but she didn’t like it.

It was all far too familiar for her.

The coywolf was attempting to snatch a few minutes of sleep, dozing in the brambles of some dead plant on the edge of the moor, when the cries of her flock woke her. She jumped to her feet, beginning to run, letting out a sharp yap when their worried crows came to her: wolf, mounted, armored.

One raven, an experienced scout, skimmed closer; Vesper twitched her ear. Just one wolf, alone—which was strange. Was it an enemy general, come with demands? Or someone else lurking their borders, waiting for prey?

Conrad joined her when she neared the borders, his bright eyes seeking hers in silent support. His wound had healed well, she saw; his fur was rumbled from the scab, but it did not seem prone to infection or reopening. She trotted closer to him, and they fell into the same loping pace.

And then another bird. “Wants you,” she said. Conrad glanced at her, frowned.

Soon the skulls greeted them, as did the black figure of a horse and its solemn rider. Vesper bared her teeth and bounded forward at once. “Fool,” she snapped, but her relief was palpable. “You’re goddamn lucky someone didn’t find you before us. Shoot first, ask questions later.” She panted.

“Oh, it’s him,” said Conrad once he caught up. He sat, but only for a moment, to gently scratch at his scabbed neck before standing back at attention.
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#3
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OOC minor assumptions as to facial expressions and etc, let me know if not okay! (+)

He'd dismounted by the time they arrived and was clearly very tense. His arms were folded tight to his chest and his brow was furrowed deeply. His head jerked up immediately at the sound of her voice and he crossed to her hastily. "Why do you think I asked for you by name?" His tone was dry and very stern. A woman was dead by his hand, this was no laughing matter.

Alistair acknowledged Conrad with a sideways glance but made no comment. "We need to talk." He looked to Conrad once again and his gaze lingered. "Do you trust him?" He had to be certain.

When she gave her assent he continued, leaving Conrad to listen along. "You're under attack." He began, and judging by her posture and the way in which she'd greeted him she knew. "And not by some rag-tag troupe of loners or heedless tramps." He was studying her face for clues as to whether or not she knew. Maybe this was old news. He learned in a little closer. "They tried to 'recruit' me, to fight you- and not just Inferni- Salsola, too."

Again, he studied her...maybe she didn't know. He spoke on, "she said you were godless heathens who slaughter innocents and sacrifice them in the name of sorcery." And if that weren't enough he addressed her personally. "Vesper, they have a name." A pause.

"Boreas."

"I killed her, dumped her in the bay so they couldn't trace her back to me. Vesper, she had armor and daggers and she knew how to use them. These are soldiers, an entire group of them, and they're coming for you- Inferni and Salsola both."

He waited to see how she would take this news. To his surprise her eyes widened. He saw fear.

"You've fought them before, haven't you?"

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#4
“You asked birds. They’re occasionally stupid,” Vesper snipped back, but she dropped the matter at Alistair’s tone and his urgent movements. She wasn’t so foolish as to overlook this, and sat down, gazing up at him expectantly.

Conrad huffed at that, and again at Alistair’s question. But Vesper merely nodded. “With my life,” she might have said, if she weren’t a bitter old creature who bore the scars of several betrayals past, but it was sign enough of her relative trust of Conrad when he had been the one to accompany her in a den of wolves—as she’d seen Casa di Cavalieri.

But the knights were puppies compared to the danger she found herself unexpectedly dropped into now.

Blue eyes narrowed when Alistair surmised that they were under attack, and became cold and cautious slits when he explained that one had sought to indoctrinate him in the righteous cause of killing “godless heathens.” She rose to stand at this, as if she might back away from him, but then a name she hadn’t heard in nearly half a decade dropped into the silence between them.

Her eyes widened. A flicker of something went through her, and scars began to burn. Her mangled ear flickered, her paws itched, and the beads that rattled at her neck felt a moment like they might strangle her.

Conrad, too, had gone tense. He’d not been there—had not fought with them—but the dark coyote had traveled with Scintilla for a time and knew their war.

“Y-yes,” the old coywolf answered, her voice coming out hoarse. Then she shook her head and tried to compose herself, though her eyes darted in minute, thoughtful movements as she pieced together all that had transpired. Armored strangers, wolves, piercing through Inferni territory under the full moon—an organized, purposeful attack. And the report of Salsola’s troubles, too, just as in the past.

“Four years ago,” Vesper said. “About the time I became Centurion. They—they come from the west. Coyotes and wolves fought there. They brought their holy war here after the coyote general’s sons came.”

But Ithiel was not here. Ezekiel was not here, either. She blinked rapidly, forcing herself to look up at him.

Myrika was not here either. She didn’t know whether to be relieved or frightened.

“Shit,” she hissed out, and looked at Conrad, whose big eyes gazed back in shock. “Shit. We need to tell the clan.” She looked back at the knight. “Did she—did she tell you anything? Anything that could help us?”
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#5
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OOC (+)

"Yeah, well..." He scratched at the side of his neck. Alistair knew next to nothing about birds. "It worked out." He shrugged.

His ears twitched at Conrad's huff but he otherwise ignored it. He wasn't important right now. The look on Vesper's face struck him with an odd sense of dread. Both coyotes' faces shifted from shock to tension, even fear and worse the memories. He could almost see them in her blue eyes as they played out. This was not a game.

Alistair nodded still and stern. It was as he'd feared, even worse. He wished he had more to tell. "I'm sorry," he said. He meant it.

"That was it."

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