[P] Sitting still is harder than any kind of work
#1
It had been an ugly month an a half.

All the running. So much running. The sight's he'd seen and the scenes he'd walked into. Morally, he was confused, and he was hurt in every fiber of his being. His heart was fractured and his spirit numbed.

It didn't help that the cold of his soul matched the bite in his fingertips while he crossed the wintry dunes with the only living thing that hadn't tried to kill him since he'd set off. Cochise. A grullo grade-pony cross, splashed with ashy hues and charcoal etched into his mane, that suited his smaller stature just fine. Even the horse was growing weary of the hazardous travel, and Waynescott knew it was time to do something about it. He was nearing the end of the road, and the ocean's brackish breath kissed his nostrils.

There was only so much time before he would find the ones that had survived the slaughter he'd passed through, and he didn't figure them to be in good state.

It was good enough fortune that he had 'found' a cave with dry wood and a few bits of supplies. A blanket, for Cochise, who wore it happily, and a few food items for himself. The tall tin of warm, bitter coffee steamed with it's heat, and behind him wafted the last hints of smoke from his abandoned camp. What wasn't dirt or grime that stained his muffler scarf was now coffee drippings from his mouth onto the beige plaid fabric, as well as the rest of his attire looking like it'd been through the very same ringer he'd survived. Even Cochise had scars from the arrows, and hidden beneath the wool muffler spilled the sick hues of bruises around Waynescott's throat. They had both done all but died in Texas, and Oklahoma sought no respite. The encounters seemed to stop after he'd trailed the survivings image of the last outlaw hanging he'd seen, but the winter had it's own idea about what suffering was.

What nightmares played behind his eyes seemed to relent at the sight of Searsport, right where that vagabond had said it was. This was redemption, certainly, but in what way? He couldn't be sure, but without a past or a future, the cold trail seemed to lead here. Sooty hooves sunk into the fresh powder as they trod through to the beaten, snow laiden road.
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#2
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Not unlike the anticipation of an approaching storm, a looming feeling of doom, deep and insidious, had settled itself within her. How long had they been on the run? She couldn't remember. Seasons. Handfuls of them, probably. If they stopped now, they would be losing ground. Indeed, they would be all but explicitly inviting their adversaries to find them. So why, then, did they remain stationary in this small and insignificant village?


The allure of friendship, perhaps, and the hope for aid should the need arise.


Falling in with The Cartel had been practical for them, particularly in this land of cold and snow. Rattler's Gulch was dry and hot and sparse – the near opposite of this northern territory. Dry and sparse it still was, though in a way that was decidedly different than what she was used to. In the Gulch, they understood precisely what to expect during times of extended drought and changed their behaviors accordingly. But here? Those small details and important pieces of information were slowly being learned.


And it was with help from this group of coyotes that they were learning them.


Shrugging her cloak more securely atop her shoulders, Evelyn Escuella cast her eyes toward the horizon of their little sanctuary and visualized the horseman approaching them with her one good eye. After taking in his appearance with a sigh of relief, the waif of a coyote released a brief yowl to alert any nearby companions that a newcomer was nearing the village. While she waited for others to join her, Evelyn looked up neutrally at the rider and managed the subtlest dip of her long snout in greeting.


OOC: Yeeeeeee!!

[WC — 277]


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#3
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And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

Their band was small, their camp all the same, but at least, for the time being, things were stable, while they set to learning ropes all over again. Santiago and Calhoun readily traded shifts of high-alert; this was new territory, and with new lands, came new threats.

He was still terrified of the old ones.

The cold made no sign that it was halting anytime soon, and nibbled incessantly at his toes, his fingers, which he'd taken to wrapping in linens to stave it away, only for the damn powder to melt and soak through, making him all the colder. Building fires here seemed fruitless - but he wanted the warmth, damn did he want the warmth, and so he continued, stooped near his tiny pyramid of kindling and logs of whatever he could find that he had hoped was dry enough, and attempted to spark it. Nothing took. He missed the gulch, and it's dry, warm nights.

"Trouble?" Calhoun grumbled, taking his eyes off the roads to lay his eyes down on the silvery man's numb fingers trying to strike a spark against stone and flint, and failing.

"No, no, this is fine. Just like to cut up my hands with sharp rock edges and then stick 'em in the snow, it's a fun new trend," he started with that gravelly voice, before the Reverend made a gruff sound. "No, not that, numb-nuts, I mean him."

Evelyn's yip came up from the snowed-in wagon, and Santiago looked up, spied a figure on a horse, and as quickly as they could, the duo waded and trudged back to the path over to the road, and his pale green eyes were on the rider in an instant. Initial wariness was met with relief - not from their group, no, but he was familiar, in the least.

"Were you followed, amigo?" Santiago started, making his approach and glimpsing behind Waynescott, while lifting his hands to pet over Cochise's velvety muzzle, whiskers tickling against his palm.


F R I E N D
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#4
Cochise and Wayne both found their ears and their eyes darting ahead, sharply alerted by the coyote call that reached out of a silhouette from a ways off. Wayne's eyes narrowed at the vision of her, judging for only a moment until recognition came to him. Her's was not a face easily forgotten.

Her gaze settled on him with a dip of her maw, and Wayne wasn't one to hesitate in the return of the warmest thing in this land. Pulling his hat from his head, he brought it with a sway to the side, lowering his brow in a bow. A genteel greeting despite his ragged appearance, perhaps brought on by something and someone familiar. It was a rare and welcomed sight, these days, when someone you knew wanted you around, rather than went after you.

Just a moment after their silent exchange, another pair crept out of the obscurity of the snow dunes. Santiago didn't waste a second after realizing who Wayne was, and made his way right over to Cochise and him. The horse was welcoming of the gentle pet. Waynescott didn't bother to follow Santiago's gaze back, and simply shook his head,” Th'only things followin' me right now s'nightmares,” He confessed, though it was familiar ground for them all,” I did what I had to,” A more serious nature took his voice over before he looked back to the scarred face that he'd found first,” Lost some in th'blizzards. Lost some in th'mountains.”

They all were sure to knew what he meant by 'lost'. Survival, after all, right? He found it hard to warrant in his better half, but his whole knew what was best for him. Finding Santiago again, he inquired,” How long ya'll been here?” A subconscious pat was offered to the goods on his person, to ensure that everything had made it back here with him. His finger trailed the impression of the flute in his vest, and he breathed more easily with it there.

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#5
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They looked at her – the horse with depthless eyes and the rider with eyes as cold as the world around them – and Evelyn stared silently back. She considered his genteel greeting, with all its flourish and expression, without so much as a twitch of her thin lips or narrowed eyes. Though she would never admit as much, she was relieved when Santiago and her brother, Calhoun, appeared at her beckoning.


From the corner of her good eye, Evelyn watched as Santiago stepped forwards and reached a hand out to the horse's soft muzzle. She blew out a soft breath, inwardly chastising him for such idiocy. Though the man was no wolf – not so much as she could discern from scent, anyway – that didn't mean he and his mount were safe. She shared a glance with her brother before the Vicar folded her arms across her chest and returned her eyes to the rider.


"And what would that be?" she asked flatly, curious as to what the man had had to do. As for who was lost and from what, Evelyn cared little. Everyone lost something. If it was a loved one you lost, or your own damn life, you weren't the only one.


She fell silent again, watching as the rider shifted his eyes back upon Santiago. "Too long," she grunted, holding her gaze on the newcomer's face a long moment more before she found her comrade's face again and predicted that Santiago would have a great deal more to add than she was keen on sharing.


[WC — 262]


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#6
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And the stars will be your eyes, And the wind will be my hands

It was grim, grim, grim - the business of it all.

"Don't s'pose you gotta glimpse of O'Malley on the ride up," he started, uncharictaristically flat, serious - they'd all lost too much, frankly. Life was just that, though, losing and then taking what could be grasped onto with hungry fingers. Calhoun scoffed somewhere in the background, and the golden Reverend went to clear away space for their new companion.

"'Course he saw O'Malley," he simply grumbled over the pulling howl of the wind. "Everyone saw O'Malley." Santiago looked over his shoulder, scarred lip curling a little, before he cleared his throat again. "We been here -- oh, couple weeks. Too long."

There was a little, thoughtful bob of his head at Evelyn's rather dismissive comments, but it was in her nature, calloused as they all were. "Come, hitch up, we'll try to get a fire started and warm up. That sound good to everyone?"


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