[P] [m] your ancestry's sold and left just the mist of you
#1

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

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Fog rolled into the fields from the coast. It obscured the gently rolling landscape, dampening the sound of Skoll's big paws in the grass. He sniffed the air, catching scents hanging in the humidity, and stalked onward. A band of whitetail had passed through this area recently, and sometimes they bedded down in the open when it was misty. In his Secui form, he was fast enough to be a real ambush predator—nearly leonine. He could bring home a good meal for the Petite Cour this morning if he was lucky.

He crested a slope at a trot, then skidded down the other side, claws digging into mud. As he regained his footing, his eye spotted a track in the dirt.

Small, four-toed, clawed. A neat line of prints.

Skoll rumbled; the reek of coyote was strong gathered near the earth. It was too close for comfort. While the lands he hunted in were neutral territory now, they used to be part of Cour des Miracles' claim, and it was enough to make him bristle. The last thing he wanted was a poaching scavenger on "his" land.


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#2
Tora had been spending more time than was healthy in the former Court territory, alternating between checking on the caches of supplies he had buried beneath disjunctive rocks and in hollowed out trees and just scratching out charcoal sketches and carving lumps of wood into little figurines destined to be tossed aside as soon as they were finished. It was like a routine, a carving of a bear or a fish falling into a small smile of sputtering cigarettes as the gray ghost moved onto a new spot to sit and feel guilty. Every few hours he'd collect his leavings and bury them a ways outside the packlands. There was no left to care but he was not going to leave the home that had been so good to him a trash heap.

It was during one of these trips to dispose of his waste when he picked up a scent, the smell of a coyote rolling in with the fog. The rōnin narrowed his eyes and brushed the strands of hair that usually formed a topknot out of his face, shifting the cigarette clamped in his mouth to his hand as he took in the pervasive odor. There was an intruder on his second ruined home, or perhaps two? He could smell another male, a wolf if he had to guess. Two grave robbers seeking to defile the corpse of a pack? They deserved no mercy. Carefully Tora followed the scent with his bow drawn until he reached the first of the intruders.

But his aggressive posture softened when he saw the man. It wasn't a wolf but a wolfdog, one of his fellow Little Courtiers. "Konnichiwa, Séneschal." he said in a low tone, exhaling smoke as he swiveled his head in search for the second unknown person. "It seems like a rat has decided to nest in our old home. Shall we drive it out?"

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#3
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He tensed and turned his head at the muffled sound of another's footfalls, his muzzle wrinkling at the stink of tobacco smoke. An arrowhead pierced the fog, and the swordsman's grey figure soon followed. Toraberā greeted Skoll, seemingly on the same page about the "rat" that snuck around the abandoned Kingdom.

Skoll rolled his broad shoulders and grunted. "Yeah, but put that damn thing out or it'll smell us coming." He lowered his head and strode forward into the mist.

It was strange walking through the territory like this, ally at his side. Skoll didn't know Tora very well at all, but he seemed competent enough; he kept company with the former Queen more often than other members of the military tier. He'd stuck around with the other Courtiers, too; that said much about his character.

He paused and squinted at a figure barely discernable through the fog ahead. "Circle around," Skoll said, used to giving orders. "Its only escape route should be the woods away from here." His claws unsheathed and sank into the damp earth. He almost wished it wouldn't run at all; when was the last time he'd fought something?

Images of the boy's bruised, cracked face flashed in his head.

The growl rolled low in his throat.


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#4
Tora dropped the cigarette as suggested, extinguishing it under his foot as he spat on the ground. The taste of tobacco mostly cleared he focused back on his superior. Or at least his former superior. Tora still wasn't quite sure how rank worked in their little family. He knew Skoll had kept the title of Sénéchal, but how much authority did he wield? If someone stole something did duty of administering punishment fall to him? Or was it purely a ceremonial thing, a holdover of when he had been part of something? Tora could understand that need to hold onto one's past. He could still remember both of his packs, his failure to protect them forever burned into his memory.

He followed the Secui as he trailed the prints, adopting a low crouched walk and keeping his bow prepared to fire at a moment's notice. It was a refreshing feeling, knowing that he was mere minutes or hours from taking another head, another rat added to the pile of smashed corpses of "people" that had lived a live of profiting off of other's misery. There was no mercy in his heart for them, no sympathy as he envisioned the thief begging for their life. Killing used to be a job for him, not pleasurable but certainly bearable. But the act had morphed into one he very much enjoyed. He only killed those that deserved it, like the three who had attacked him in the winter or the black-furred monster that had sired the pup named after him. They were dead and buried, a feast for maggots. The thought of their souls leaving their bodies as they bled to death put a small, sick smile on the soldier's face, Tora cracking his neck loudly in preparation for a fight.

"Understood." Tora muttered, stepping around Skoll to creep ahead. "Are we making it quick or letting them suffer a bit?" He hoped it was the second option, waiting for a couple of moments before disappearing into the trees. He could see their quarry, an Optime certainly but whether it was male or female remained a mystery. It didn't matter, ones gender didn't excuse them from punishment. In one fluid motion Tora raised his bow and fired, lethal stone-tipped arrow sailing towards it's target's leg. Perhaps some interrogation was in order...

Wordcount:401
#5
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"Are we making it quick or letting them suffer a bit?"

Skoll glanced toward his companion, who stalked forward with fingers on the bowstring, an arrow balanced to be aimed and shot within a moment. The question gave him pause, and had Skoll truly been a Godly man, or a good man, he would have given a just answer. The "trespasser" had committed no real crime, and no one deserved to suffer.

But Skoll was a vindictive bastard, and the morality of Toraberā's statement went unnoticed as he considered the distant shadow. The coyote was probably guilty of something, after all. He'd already made his mind to frighten them off even before Tora had joined him, because the last thing he needed was to let scavengers get too comfortable treading near the Maison.

In the end, he shook out his ruff and said, "If they fight us, they had it coming."

He waited to allow Tora a head start, then prowled through the green grass, his belly and legs growing wet with dew. Dawn was grey-pink overhead, though the rising sun would bake the fog away.

In the low visibility, he didn't see Tora draw his arrow, but he heard the resulting wet sound of punctured flesh and a strangled, yipping cry.

Skoll rushed forward, his claws digging into the earth for traction. He reached the staggering coyote within a few seconds, and leaped at them with a snarl. With another pained shriek, they fell backward to evade him, and he landed a few feet away, turning and lifting his curled tail over his back, dominant, aggressive.

The coyote was smaller than he'd expected. It was a female of variegated browns and streaks of black like charcoal, including kohl-like markings around her green eyes. She scrambled backward away from him, chest heaving with panicked breaths, her hands braced against the ground and wet grass clinging to her limbs.

"Don't kill me, don't kill me!" she shrieked.

Skoll said nothing, just walked forward and bared his teeth.

"This is all I have, here—" Between gasping breaths, she scrabbled at a pouch hanging across her body and flung items out of it: a spool of yarn, a pair of bone needles, some dried meat wrapped in leaves, a toy doll. "Don't kill me, don't kill me, don't..."


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#6
Tora had noticed the sidelong glance from his fellow "exterminator" but paid it little mind. This was not the time for cowardice and sparing the rod, there was an intruder in their home, a grave robber. The type of person who would still from the dead and take babies from their cribs, a vulture who lived and profited off the misery of others. There was almost nothing lower than that type of vermin, and they deserved nothing more than a slow and painful end. The alcohol and smoke scented ghost of a noble warrior had really only asked out of respect for Skoll's old position. If the man decided that the rat in coyote clothing deserved a relativly painless death than Tora wouldn't argue.

But there was always the risk of an accident. He could swing his sword and miss, impaling their stomach instead of their chest, or he'd slit their throat just hair too shallow, leave them drowning in their own blood for a few minutes. He knew the quickest, most efficient ways to break a person completely, all he had to do was fight years of muscle memory and botch the action. But it seemed liked he wouldn't even need to pretend. If Skoll had any moral qualms about his question he kept them to himself. Tora was grateful his hunting partner was as dedicated as he was, or at least understood.

The fog was a perfect mask, Tora said a quiet prayer of thanks to whatever higher powers that might have been listening as he unleashed his arrow. He watched with grim satisfaction as the knapped tip plunged into the woman's (he could see the feminine figure) leg with the wet sound of rending flesh and the jarring klak of stone against bone. The rōnin chuckled to himself darkly as his victim tried to escape the second male, watching her black and brown fur get streaked with mud and morning dew as she collapsed in a heap. He didn't bother curling his lips or raising his tail as a sign of hostility as he approached the pair, the pair of now naked blades in his hands conveyed that well enough.

"Thieving whore."he spat out hatefully, looking down on the culprit and her selection of loot. It wasn't even valuable, scraps of meat and needles and a child's toy. In some ways that just made him angrier. "What kind of "person" steals the remains of a childhood?" he asked incredulously. "Is it not enough to pick the remains of a ruined family, to gawk and stare at other's misfortune? You'd rob the place of the remnants of happy memories?"

With a grunt he launched a kick into her side, aiming it straight for her ribs in an attempt to crack them. "New suggestion: we don't kill her. Not yet anyway." he growled, the words addressed to Skoll even as his eyes were fixated on her. "We leave her out her for the scavengers. Birds can pick her apart, or some some bastard can come along and use her before tossing aside. Or we drown her, make it slow by keeping her under till she passes out and dragging her out!" So many more hateful ideas of what he wanted to do to this stranger swirled around his mind, his thoughts sickened by years of guilt and violence. In the meantime he contented himself by sheathing one sword and grabbing hold of her hair, hacking away at it as he cropped her so all would know her shame.

Wordcount:602
#7
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Skoll snuffled the air as the coyote quivered in pain and fear, dumping all her belongings out into the mud at their feet. She paused in her motions to see Tora approach, her eyes widening at the swords drawn from their sheaths.

He mocked her, chastised her for her thievery, and she clutched her now-empty bag, mouth agape in terror. Her flat chest heaved, and she tried to scramble back, but Skoll was too close and she couldn't get far. The wolf's kick sent her sprawling down into the grass with a choked sob, clutching at her bruised ribs.

"I didn't steal," she breathed raggedly. "I didn't—"

Skoll lowered his head to sniff at the objects: the yarn, the doll. It was hand-stitched, and the thread matched. It did not smell like the Court, didn't look like any toy he'd seen. A frown settled on his muzzle, and he lowered his ears, realizing that they might have made a mistake. This woman—girl, really—hadn't scavenged from them. She must have made this toy for someone herself.

Toraberā continued. His voice was a rumble, low like thunder, dark with hate, as he suggested that death was too quick a fate.

Pick her apart.

Use her.

Drown her—

Skoll's eye opened wide. "What the fuck are you talking ab—"

The blade was already cutting through her hair, and she was screaming in fear, but Skoll acted as quickly as he could. He leaped for his companion, aiming to knock the man down and land on his chest if he could. Knock wind out, some sense in.


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#8
"Bullshit." Tora snarled, fighting the temptation to crush her windpipe then and there. "If you weren't stealing, why the hell were you digging around here? Do you take pleasure in other's sorrow? Enjoyment from from loss? Did you come to gloat over the destruction of my home?!" The usually composed wolf was growing more frantic, hand clenched so tightly around his sword that his claws drew blood from his palm. He didn't even give her time to answer, a horrible realization lighting a bloody fire in his eyes."You're part of the monsters that did this! Come back to relish your work, you whore? I'll skin you alive!"

It was not an idle threat, Tora moving to drop her hair and grab at her arm. Luckily for the wounded woman Skoll tackled him before the Épéiste could take her pelt as a trophy. Tora collapsed with a grunt, kicking and flailing as he went. <"Get the fuck off me!"> he roared in Japanese, trying to angle the katana at his attacker. He was no longer on the outskirts of the Court's graveyard, he was back in Japan. He had dropped his guard and gotten blindsided, his friends, his cousins, his mother all dead and he was next. " The hand not clutching his sword tried to wriggle from under Skoll so he could grab one of his arrows, intending to use it as a makeshift dagger. But he couldn't tear it lose and at this angle the sword was useless, leaving Tora wide eyed in rage and fear as he gnashed his teeth. ""

Wordcount: 295
#9
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The swordsman erupted into foreign curses, howling his anger, while the coyote wept and clutched at the hastily-chopped ends of her hair and cowered aside.

"Get out of here, run," Skoll ordered the girl.

She could do no such thing, and he heard her pained whimpers as she crawled, but he could not help her. He was focused on keeping Tora's bared teeth and sharp weapons at bay, the former Courtier acting like an absolute madman as he roared his anger. Extending his claws, Skoll tried to dig them into the wolf's arms for purchase, his massive body balanced carefully over the flailing man.

"Toraberā!" Skoll barked back in his face, spittle flying. "Stand down!"

He flagged his tail and pricked his ears, pressing his weight harder into the swordsman, trying to signal for submission even if the words weren't getting through.

"Your Seneschal is telling you to stand down!"


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#10
The wounded woman's cries of pain melted into Tora's delusions, the man hearing the scream of children as their houses were burned to the ground with them inside. " Gruesome threats came easily to him in his native tongue, Tora wanting nothing more than wrench his arms free and gut this invader pressing down on him like a fish. The stranger was calling his name, how did he know it? Had there been spies implanted in his pack the whole time? That would explain how they were able to sneak in and burn the Hotel-

No, that wasn't the Tanakas, that was the Court. He was losing track, a lifetime of death and loss all mixing into one muddled nightmare where he was surrounded on all sides with no where to run. The monster weighing him down was calling for his submission, expecting a lifted tail and bared teeth to get him to surrender. "Not fucking likely!" the rōnin hissed, slipping back into English. "You'd best kill me now unless you want me hunt you down and drown you like an unwanted child!"

He was so close to getting his arms out, a quick snatch and a lunge and his arrow would be buried in the male's neck! The broken man roared hatefully and tugged as hard as he could, trying to tear his limb free but stopped suddenly. "Seneschal."

The word cut through the cloud of panic and rage like a dagger through his stomach, Tora looking up at his superior with confusion. "Skoll? Why are you-" he began to ask, only for the sentence to trail into nothingness. It was all coming back to him: the hunt for the thief, crippling her with an arrow and taking ghastly pleasure at the thought of punishing her, getting pinned down and being overcome by madness. He had lost his mind, fell into that dark mass of horror and violence that had been building within him for weeks and months. He was finally going insane.

"Kill me." he demanded deliriously. "Before I snap like that again!"

Wordcount:366
#11
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Tora snarled in his rapid, multisyllabic language, then slipped into their common tongue. The golden wolfdog's ears pinned and his claws faltered against the other's skin, but he pushed through the shock of the direct threat and bore down harder. His life, he believed now, depended on it; was killing his former packmate the only option?

Then Toraberā breathed in sense.

His words faltered and his expression betrayed his confusion, and Skoll realized that the madman writhing beneath him had not been some sinister secret—but a mental break. Or so he wanted to believe, desperately, but Skoll did not sheathe his claws. He kept Tora pinned with all his weight, tail still curled, teeth still bared, though without the constant struggle beneath him he was able to get his breath back.

It could be an act. He could flip, plunge that arrow into his throat.

"Kill me," Tora snapped out, desperate, horrified.

Skoll looked him in the eye. "Trust me," he growled, "if this happens again, I will." He stepped aside, still keeping his body between the wolf and the exhausted coyote, posture tense and dominant. "You need to explain a lot to me, to the pack"—the word slipped out and he didn't bother to correct it—"but we need to take care of this poor girl first."

The loner flinched, afraid that "take care" was a euphemism. "Please, leave me alone," she said, curling into a tight ball. "Leave me alone."

Skoll's eye thinned and his expression softened with guilt. "We can send for a healer," he said, but she shivered and didn't respond. Grunting, he rolled his head back toward Tora expectantly, face stoic though a storm of cautious energy brewed in his gut.


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