[P] three birds in a row, not late for their show
#1
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A few miles from Fort Cumberland, mid-afternoon. Her horse (black mare) is grazing nearby.


--


The woods were coming alive with the spring, and Fiction found a strange sort of peace in the field of dandelions.


They were such a common and unassuming plant, but almost every part of the plant could be used in some way. She'd spent a nontrivial amount of time harvesting them when she was a child, too, carefully pulling them out from their roots with her teeth, even before she had hands. The taste was awful: bitter and dirt-like, somehow, but easy enough to hide with honey or sweetgrass or even just water. The smell was much subtler: not sweet or light like most flowers, but again, more earthy, strangely warm.


Carefully, Fiction loosened her mask and let it slip down so it hung from around her neck. This was not a plant she needed to identify or verify by smell, but she liked it all the same, and the fresh air was cool and pleasant as well. She did not take for granted the moments she could relax alone in the fields while foraging.


Trading was a tiring enterprise, and though she wouldn't say she disliked it, she far preferred the work of making their goods. Being able to produce concoctions based on a lifetime of study and practice was satisfying, and she liked to think her mother would be proud that she'd retained these skills and put them to regular use.

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#2
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Optime | Near Fort Cumberland | NPC: Cedar
(+619)


[EVENT] Plague Doctors


Kamari’s scent is disguised: mint, woodsmoke, pine.


*O* Thank you<333 Sorry this is terribly long Dx


While not out seeking new rumors and information for the Queen’s ear, her work beyond the Kingdom was not wholly unrelated to her task as Emissary. Her venture thus far had proven to be a more trying task than she thought it should have been though. She sought a raven’s nest, and not one of the ones far up in a tree either. Even with her expert climbing skills, she was still a Luperci, not a bird or some other naturally tree-dwelling creature. Branches grew thinner and more brittle the higher one climbed, and Kamari didn’t find any excitement in the thought of falling to her death while being flogged and chased all way down by angry birds.


She would have no such embarrassment to be further tacked onto the Kaiser name.


Tall pines and other high-built nests were strictly off-limits. Old human settlements had proven promising in the past for rookeries though, and it had been her intention to scout out the long-abandoned Fort Cumberland some miles north of Amherst. Ravens and crows were apparently quite good at memorizing faces, from what she’d learned. And it was for the best that she raid a nest far from her usual haunts lest she be labeled as a chick thief by the local birds.


Her stallion, Cedar’s, pace was leisurely as they broke the cover of the trees and came upon an open field of yellow flowers and white puffs; dandelions. The flowers were short, and Kamari could see clearly across the field unhindered. It had been as her cornflower blue eyes swept across the field that she spied a lone figure out amongst the brightly colored flora. They were a patchwork of markings from what few details she could make out from their distance from one another. The other’s colors were limited to a rather monochrome range, it seemed, and they appeared to be, perhaps, a hybrid of sorts, maybe dog and coyote, given the long ears and non-miniscule size that jackals tended to share.


Kamari might have turned Cedar back into the shelter of the forest had she not spied the strange contraption pulled down around their neck. She’d heard of strange rumors in Amherst, of Luperci with beaks that had spoken about a plague—a drunkard’s tale, surely—that had been cited north of the city ruins. The Shadow hadn’t put much stock into the slurred ramblings, but, now seeing someone somewhat fitting of such wild details, she couldn’t help but to be curious.


The raven search could wait.


In a swift motion, she dismounted from her mustang and pulled the hood of her tattered-edge cloak down to appear less threatening. With her bow slung over her shoulder, surely, she would appear more like a passing hunter than a highwayman or other nefarious ruffian. Giving a soft command to Cedar, she casually made her way across the field with the horse following behind her.


“Hail, traveler,” she greeted with a friendly bark to announce her presence and approach. “I heard rumors of Luperci that had grown beaks,” she chuckled as she drew closer. She made sure to keep a friendly face and a neutral, harmless weight and motion about her movements. “Glad to see the truth behind such a wild tale.”


Kamari stopped—as did Cedar—within a respectable distance of the other, not wanting to put them on edge. “You look as normal as the rest of us.” She offered a half-smile. “I’m Birch,” she introduced before her brows furrowed slightly, “Is the part about some plague true? Or just a rambling from a drunkard’s tongue too?”







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EDIT 20200405: Link to event thread
Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · · Character Wiki
Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#3
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All good~


--


Though she never worried, exactly, about being ambushed or attacked when out on her own, it was a danger she was always aware was possible, and the possibility of which she always held in the back of her mind. Her mother had had many cautionary tales to offer as bedtime stories, and Fiction had grown up with a healthy sense of both caution and the importance of self-reliance. Close combat was not an option (what if their blood got on her?), so the real risk was just being caught off guard. Running was easy and effective in most cases, and both she and her horse were made to run.


Nightfall noticed the new company first, lifting her head from the grasses when the strangers appeared from the treeline. Fiction looked up in turn, perking her large ears forward.


They'd extracted basic information about the area packs from the traders and merchants in Portland, though some packs seemed better known than others. The pack Salsola had had their own presence in the trading town, but they were the pack that travelers seemed least willing to talk about directly.


Fiction cared little for the history and mannerisms of any given pack and often forgot about them as soon as they left an area, but a general understanding of local customs was important for successful trade, and a lack of information was unsettling at best and dangerous at worst.


There was already plenty she didn't know -- what local scent compositions were, what packs had alliances or feuds -- those details aren't often carried out of an area by travelers and traders. But pack values (do they often trade for weapons and horses, or do they trade for trinkets?), pack culture (are they civilised, or have they not grasped yet the concept of trade?) pack species biases (do they hate dogs or wolves?), and pack industry (do they produce honey, perhaps? Or leather goods?) while valuable, should also be common knowledge. It was ridiculous that she didn't know any of it.


The stranger seemed of mixed heritage, confident, but not intimidating, and it almost seemed like her horse endeavoured to be the same. The air was still in that moment, but the tawny hybrid didn't smell reminiscent of the New Caledonians or the Cavaliers that had visited their camp. Fiction slipped her mask back on casually as they approached, while her own horse looked on suspiciously.


"Salutations, Birch," she said. Her smile was mostly hidden beneath the leather, but evidence of it could be seen in her eyes. "I'm Fiction."


"It's true," she confirmed simply. "To the west and the south, we've seen huge swaths of territories affected and many packs fallen to nothing in a matter of weeks." Fiction gestured to her mask. "I hope you won't think me rude. The 'beak' is a helpful precaution." She glanced towards her small pile of uprooted dandelions. "And these will become a cure."

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#4
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NPC: Cedar
(+371)





Strange it was, to see the individual pull the mask up and over their—her—muzzle as Kamari drew closer. The Shadow had only ever seen one other that wore a mask; a crazed woman who had cackled and taunted with strange symbols of eyes and played with fire. The stranger before her looked much more sane, or, at least, more tame, than the other had been. Where the madwoman had had the upper half of her face covered though, this one had the bottom half.


What was the purpose of applying it though? To disguise her face, perhaps? Or was she afraid of Kamari for some reason? Was it some sort of weird cultural thing? How could she breath with it on? Or talk, for that matter?


Holes in the side, Kamari noted with her closer distance, made breathing possible. The size of the mask, too, seemed to allow for normal talking movement of one’s maw at the very least.


The Outsider spoke, smiling with her eyes as she introduced herself as “Fiction.” The merle hybrid confirmed the rumors that the drunkard had slurred; a deadly illness ravaged lands far from the realm. The mask itself was even explained, though, it also gave birth to many more questions. “Not at all,” Kamari reassured with a shake of her head. “I’ve just…never seen anything quite like it is all.” Luperci used their mouths to eat, to fight, to defend themselves. The mask Fiction wore seemed to prevent all of that.


“But, anyhow,” she said, shifting her weight as well as the subject matter. The details of the strange mask could be figured out later. “You’ve traveled far, it sounds,” Kamari commented, her eyes flicking only briefly to acknowledge the woman’s horse before moving down to the pile of dandelions that had already been gathered. “I’m afraid I don’t know much about cures or plants other than the ones to stay away from.” Common knowledge, little more.


Cornflower blue eyes settled on the mask, still drawn by its strangeness. “What does the illness do?” And how will a beak-like mask, of all things, keep you safe? “The drunk only raved about it being terrible.”






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Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · · Character Wiki
Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#5
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"It's unpleasant to describe," she said with a small sigh. "It begins with a stomachache and gets steadily worse from there. They've told me it feels like your guts are being twisted around. Those affected can't keep down any food or water, expelling it all from one end or the other. Those that are lucky die swiftly in the night; those that aren't eventually starve or die from lack of fluid, I think."


There was more to know about bodies than she would ever know, and even things that sounded obvious weren't really, if given enough thought. Creatures died when they bled enough -- that's been tested and proven by virtually every canine who's taken a meal -- but why?


Why was losing a little blood okay, but losing a lot, not? What did blood do? Why was it important? Growing puppies obviously had less blood than adults, but did their bodies stop making blood after a certain point? If you lost a little blood here and there over the years, would it eventually accumulate to a lot of blood loss, and would you die? She didn't know and couldn't explain, and she doubted anyone else could either.


Thus, with bodies poorly understood, disease was certainly a difficult subject to understand as well, especially as it mostly concerned factors that were unknown. A bodily injury was easy enough to grasp, even if all the minute "whys" of function were lost to her. A knife in the gut was a lot of blood loss and an organ puncture. Why the blood and the organ were important were details that didn't need to be understood, but what was a disease, anyway? An invisible threat causing some strange harm.


"The illness spreads through the air," she continued. Fiction discarded the "I think" that might've prefaced the statement in her mind. "Breathing in what those affected breathe out is how it seems to spread in an area." That being the case, it didn't seem farfetched that other illnesses might spread in the same manner, so the mask seemed prudent wherever they went, whoever they met.

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#6
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NPC: Cedar
(+370)





At first, the illness didn’t sound awful enough to warrant the strange mask that Fiction wore. However, as the merle female went on, Kamari couldn’t help but agree that it sounded like a terrible way to die. Being unable to properly eat or drink? To have one’s own body turn against them by rejecting any source of nutrients or fluids? It sounded slow, frustrating, and certainly something that might make one consider a blade to miserably wasting away.


It didn’t sound like any common illnesses Kamari knew either, which was concerning. Though, perhaps, one of the few healers in the pack might have known better than she.


Kamari brought her hand up to cup her chin as she considered the information given to her. Fiction continued, explaining how it was spread—not by a bite, not by bodily fluids, not by some weird plant growth—no, by air. The Kaiser was, understandably, somewhat skeptical. How could one’s breath spread something? But, then she remembered the alien-like flowers that had shown up years prior. Animals were driven into a state just by their scent alone.


Farfetched as it might have seemed, perhaps there was some truth to the rumors the beak-masked Luperci were spreading. The beak-like mask still didn’t make sense to the hybrid, though, she supposed, perhaps it damped the scent or whatever caused the spread of the illness to some extent. No doubt, breathing through the material with its small holes must have been somewhat challenging.


“That does sound terrible,” she admitted. Her gaze shifted to the mass of dandelions that surrounded them and covered the open field. “Why are you here then?” She asked, curious. “Trying to escape? Or just trying to help?” Fiction had mentioned the plants around them becoming a cure, but, how? Though the finer details might have been lost on her, Kamari wanted to get as much information as she could about this mysterious illness. The more she could bring back to the pack, the better prepared they could be if the rumors being spread proved true.


“What’s so special about dandelions?” She raised her arms to indicate the flowers around them for emphasis.






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Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · · Character Wiki
Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#7
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The air had to be made up of something, even if all of it was invisible. If there was nothing there, then why would they need to breathe it? If it was nothing, then it shouldn't make a difference if they drew it into their bodies or not, but obviously if they held their breath long enough, they'd become desperate for whatever comprised the air. Scents were in the air, and with it, information of all sorts. Fiction was often frustrated by her lack of ability to really describe what she thought was in the air.


Their Luperci condition was passed through blood and sex. She had never known very many non-Luperci, but occasionally she'd meet someone who had been converted, rather than being born that way. It seemed clear that something was passed along in their bodily fluids. In this case, it was something beneficial and good, as far as she was concerned, but it was also invisible, even if it was carried through something that wasn't. The air carried many invisible things, and it carried them near and far. It was no wonder that the illness was spreading so quickly.


"A little bit of both, perhaps," Fiction said. "I'm not sure if escape is really possible though. You can't stop air from going where it goes; there's no where to escape to. Everyplace and every person is vulnerable, I think."


Fiction did not particularly care for the wellbeing of others beyond where it benefited her and her found family. Convincing others of coming devastation was less an act of altuism than a vehicle for trade. It just so happened that her skills were in medicine, and it just so happened that her cures worked. If she had skills in carpentry and woodworking instead, then perhaps the plague would not be worth mentioning at all. But if they managed to save a few lives wherever they went, she wasn't going to feel bad about that, either.


And ultimately, it did benefit her that civilisation didn't end.


She looked down again at her small harvest of uprooted flowers and smiled a little under her mask. "They're good for you," she said. "They taste absolutely terrible, but they can help with a lot of different ailments." Of course, she couldn't explain how or why -- she had no idea why dandelion root helped, but it helped, usually. "It's lucky they're so abundant here, though some of the other ingredients aren't."

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