[P] We burn bright and broil in our crusade
#1
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She was glad for the threadbare, moth-eaten blanket that she had swindled off of the old and bowel-incontinent man, even if it did not adequately warm her from this land's brutal, biting cold. The added layer of warmth that it did provide, though, was welcome. Combined with the thickness of her cloak and the quality of her shawl, it provided more than she would otherwise have had without it.


Still, it wasn't quite enough.


Glowering into the heavy sky above, its clouds appearing as though pregnant with an impending storm, The Vicar allowed the bridge of her long, tapered nose to softly wrinkle and, from beneath her dark upper lips, the bottoms of her canines gleamed dully. Ain't gonna win, she thought, recommitting to the earlier promise that she had made when she and Calhoun and Santiago had first rolled on into this godforsaken wasteland. Not against me. And, as far as she was concerned, her boys were included in "me."


Because – and she would not be caught dead admitting as much to any living soul – she was nothing without her boys.


Clucking her tongue sharply against the surface of her incisors, Evelyn pulled her layers of added warmth more tightly about her thin shoulders and carried on walking through Searsport. The frozen ground bit at her toes and the frigid air nibbled her tattered ears, but she ignored these uncomfortable sensations as she passed by stalls and their tenders; patrons and their goods.


But she never passed a single soul by without first laying her mismatched eyes on their face. Most of the time it was no more than a cursory glance, but sometimes there would be something about them that would pique her interest. Fool! her radar would ping. Idiot! And then she might pause to feel them out and to mince words. If they seemed stupid enough, she might try her hand at a trade. If not... well, she carried on without a second glance.


She had little time for hesitance and games. Though, more times than not, that seemed to be the case with these folk. There were plenty that she had successfully swindled, that much was true, but there were more who were far too cautious to take the word of a strange and half-blind coyote woman.


What they needed, Evelyn thought, was a young pack Luperci – someone who knew nothing but comfort and stability and goodness – to come by and fall for her speechcraft. Easy and boring as that was, desperate times called for desperate measures and The Vicar was prepared to sacrifice a good challenge for a nice, thick, warm blanket.


Subtly allowing a tremor to trail down her spine, The Vicar carried on walking with her single, ember-hot eye searching for her next victim as she allowed herself a moment to imagine what it felt like to be adequately warm – when she did not shake almost incessantly to keep her body temperature normal; when the most distant extremities of her limbs, her toes and her fingers and her ear tips and her tail tip and her nose, did not burn and threaten her with intermittent numbness and a biting ache; when her eyes did not burn and tear up and when her throat did not feel rough and dry.


Though it had come with its own set of problems, Rattler's Gulch was a more desirable location than this. At least there Evelyn had known all the landscapes and the customs and the people. Here, in more ways than she could name, it was different.


But, so far, it was also safe. And, though she still often felt a tugging sensation telling her to continue running, Evelyn was glad to be in one place again. Travel and the road had its own fair share of troubles and inconveniences, that much was true, but at least remaining stationary had allowed them to gather possible allies should their arch nemesis locate them in this wide and and distant swath of land and call for their heads.


Though, whether those allies were worth the title was yet to be seen. And Evelyn desperately hoped that it would never come to that. Because, as far as she was concerned, she and her boys were on their own and, no matter how many friends they made in this new and frozen land, that was how they would remain.


Pausing a moment to cast her ruined face around the Luperci milling about town square, The Vicar caught sight of a golden woman and paused, wondering.


There were a good many folk around these parts that came and went who were more wise to the ways of salespeople and their goods. But sometimes it was difficult to pick these people out without talking to them first. Sometimes, it took a good argument or a lively bartering to determine just how sensible (or not) some people were.


So, which was she?


Adjusting her layers subtly, The Vicar started toward this golden woman in a way that suggested she was merely going in the direction the woman was in, and not that she had sought her out specifically.


[WC — 864]


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#2
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There had been a time that the Hatzi name had meant something beyond its attachment to the golden woman. She had been borne in the Coeur du Nuit and raised by a mother who had lost herself to her work. It was a cruel place for a young girl, but Miriette had been successful because she had been blessed with a pretty face and a keen, disconcerting tongue. For her whole life she had been given things; hearts, trust, love, and despair – and somehow they had found her and decided that she was worthy.

The many faced god had given her a great many things and each day she was grateful.

Gabriel had wanted her. She remembered him picking her out of a line of girls, her hair perfectly brushed, the red twine still wrapped about his wrists that marked him as a gypsy-boy. Sometimes fate intervened, and as he had been too nervous to do much other than talk, they had sat cross legged upon the bed as he nervously picked at the hem of the sheets. He had been shy in the beginning – though as time went on he lost the red twine and the boyish charm.

War did that to people.

Miriette wandered Searsport in her blue robe, her hands concealed in the long sleeves as she inspected the stalls and Luperci that passed her by. Something about the place had attracted her attention, and as with all things she wanted to know that they knew she had seen it. Each morning when she awoke she offered a silent prayer in the hopes that she would see something worthy of them and so she allowed her eyes to eat up the world greedily in homage.

The air here was crisp with the scent of the sea, and each time she passed a fisherman she could practically taste his profession on her tongue. In comparison too many of the wolves that passed her Miriette stood out. She was well fed and had long hair that hung in endless waves about her shoulders, and there was not a scar visible upon the parts of her that were exposed.

A man grunted at her as she passed, jostling his shoulder against her as he brushed by.

So many of them did not take the time to see.

Her violet eyes tipped toward the sky as she offered a quick prayer, and with a snap of her fingers she turned and asked to anyone that would listen:

”Must you all rush?” Her French accent was pronounced, ”If you are not careful you will never see what is important.” Her eyes sharpened, "Before it is too late."



Smile

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#3
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A man reached her before she even got close enough to smell her, his shoulder digging into her body as he passed on by. Instinctively, her eyes searched first the woman's body and then the man's hands, only the living flames of her left eye able to see whether or not she might have had anything on her person that the figure who had run into might have subtly pilfered. She did not see anything, but Evelyn only had 50% of her sight on a good day.


She would never admit as much, but there was a great deal that she missed – visually, anyway.


There was no time for hesitation, though, and the fire-kissed coyote did not show any as she carried on in the direction of where the golden woman stood, sticking out sorely among the weather-worn and drab-clothed others that milled about the square, looking into the pregnant sky. Evelyn felt the stirrings of doubt at the back of her mind. Who stood, nose to the sky, in the middle of a bustling trade town looking like a flax flower against a backdrop of arid desert if they were in their right mind?


And then the woman snapped her fingers and glanced about at the passing patrons, crying out to anyone who might hear. About what? Evelyn did not know. After all, this woman golden woman, with her blue robe and her passionate eyes, was not in her right mind.


Further more, the stink that wafted from her honey pelt told the coyote that she was also not of the right species.


"Well, now," The Vicar began against her better judgement, pausing in front of the woman to peer into her face with the sharpness of her own mismatched eyes. "You ever stop to think folk are rushin' to avoid bein' too late?" For her and her boys, running and staying ahead of the revivalists had been the only thing keeping them from knowing what would happen being too late.


"Tell me," she sniffed, deliberately looking the wolfdog up and down. "What's important to you, sister?


[WC — 354]


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#4
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Miriette stopped for a great many things for fear of missing out on a vision that would be important for them to see. It was why she always wandered so far from the others, hopeful that she would be a conduit for something wonderful. Searsport stunk of rotten fish and the hopelessness that came from non-believers – but despite all of this Miriette could see the beauty in it. The man continued on his merry way, ignoring the golden beauty as she narrowed her violet eyes after him.

There would be others – others would see or be attracted to her light.

The woman who appeared through the crowd immediately caught Miriettes attention. He was swathed in bandages that hid her from view, a blind eye hidden beneath smoky tendrils of wild wispy hair. Miriette curtsied, gathering her long sleeves and stepping as if to dance, her light feet carrying her towards the coyote whos ears twitched through the holes in her long hood.

”Too late?” Miriette laughed, tossing golden hair over her shoulders and dipping her head as she continued, ”One is never too late if you trust that fate will deliver you precisely when you are supposed to get there.” Her French accent caused a musical lilt to the words, and she spun around the scarved woman, and ignored the crowd that slowly began to congregate around them.

”A great many things are important to me.” A finger traced a line down her throat and hovered upon the clasp of her cloak where it lingered.

”They are always watching. I ensure that what I wander for finds them, always.”

She hummed, drumming her fingers upon her forearms as she straightened.

”Omni sees all. Knows all." She smiled prettily, "You are all lost without them."




Smile

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