[P] Hunt or be hunted
#1
OOC: For Wally!

Time marched on despite Casa’s losses and Sian, too, kept going. The season would turn soon, the nights growing cold and long. The pack would need the buildings to be maintained and the stores to be replenished. Sian hadn’t forgotten her self-promise to contribute as much as she could. She still wasn’t convinced the horrors were entirely behind them – but she had to keep moving, to stay occupied.

She’d remembered another promise, too – to visit Wally’s room and take him out hunting. It felt a long time ago that they’d met and raided the store cupboard for rope and buckets. She hadn’t forgotten the man’s affable way and sense of humour, though. She’d appreciated it at the time and prayed as she walked through the Courthouse that Wally’s jovial demeanour hadn’t been chased away by the trauma they’d all suffered. Sian hadn’t seen him much since the trials – she felt somewhat guilty for that. She’d been too ashamed of her panicky episodes in the wake of everything to open up to many people and the time she’d spent with Pallas had been due to his persistence. Sian didn’t want to burden anyone, least of all a bright soul like Wally, with her finicky emotions.

The Damaichu woman had collected her bow from her room and scented out Wally’s quarters; she planned to go on this hunting trip with or without him but would do her best to encourage him to accompany her. It seemed that distractions would do most of Casa good at the moment and inwardly she hoped that would apply to Wally, too.

Sian raised her hand but froze just before knocking, remembering Wally’s plans to erect a booby trap in case of any unwanted visitors. Clearing her throat softly instead, her ears pricked to listen for sounds of the occupant.

“Wally? It’s Sian.”


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#2
378 Words
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With an annoyed huff, Wally leaned back, stretching out his sore spine. Whether it was guilt from inaction or less things to do, the shepherd dog had tried his hand in investigating the intruder's identity, leaving his room much messier than when he was setting up the pair of traps.

Papers were scattered everywhere, littering the floor with his thoughts. Wally's own illiteracy had proved to be a big obstacle, making something that could've been written on a few pages to be spread out with abstract symbols, along with a few archive piles on the sides of the rooms. To make things worse, he made no leeway and was close to admitting defeat, making all the time he had wasted so far being in vain.

As Wally continued to stare at the ceiling with tired eyes, grabbing another piece of jerky from a nearby pile, he wondered about who was the person orchestrating these events. Did the shepherd dog give him too much credit? That was a reasonable possibility, but he had seen some crazier things happen, so it wasn't anything out of the realm of possibilities.

A voice caused Wally to sit up with a startle, taking him a moment to realize it was Sian. With all that was happening, he didn't expect anyone else to come by. Without responding back, he was quick to get on his feet and made his way to the door, involuntarily stepping over the tripwire in the middle of the room and moving the bucket on a spear off the door and against the wall.

Cracking open the door, he stuck his head out and offered a friendly grin. "Mornin', how're ye managin'?" He didn't stay there long, pulling back to walk over to his knapsack and allowing the door to open some more. "Ye're here fer t'a gloves, aye?" He started sifting through the gloves for something with some thicker material, his tail stirring up some of the papers. "T'a fit might be a bit off, but it should manage well enough. If it's too off, I'll be needin' some better measurements..." Pulling out a pair, he held it out for Sian to take. It was nice to be doing something for someone else. "Anythin' else ye need help wit'?"
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#3
Sian was patient but she still found waiting for doors to be answered an anxiety-provoking experience. She was never sure what to do with her hands, or how long was appropriate before announcing her presence a second time. With her ears pricked for any sign that she could forgo that awkward second call, she pushed a lock of white-streaked ginger away from her face and tried to assemble her features into something that didn’t give away her hesitation.

The Damaichu woman was utterly relieved when she caught telltale rustles and shuffles from within the room and it felt much easier to relax from that point on; a warm smile spread over her muzzle when her friend cracked open the door. Sian’s eyes didn’t wander into the room, though she did catch the movement of a sheet of paper as she bobbed her head in greeting. Sian understood the need to keep things to oneself at times – such as almost the entirety of her experiences in Portland, secrets which were closely guarded, although her reasons probably weren’t as noble or productive as Wally’s.

“Hey – about as well as anyone else, I guess.” The door swung a little farther open, affording Sian the chance to take in more than a sliver of the room. She didn’t like to pry but it was always interesting to see what her pack mates kept in their room. Their skills and pursuits were usually distilled into a handful of possessions; things could sometimes say a lot about a Luperci.

Wally went to sort through some items but Sian held up a hand, her tail wagging.

“Actually, I came to take you on a hunt,” she admitted. “Won’t say no to testing out a pair of your creations, though. You can see my – uh – prowess with the bow, too.” She grinned, aware that she wasn’t selling herself very well. “So? You up for it?”

[327]
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#4
341 Words
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So that was the reason why she dropped by. Wally was quick to nod, still maintaining his enthusiasm. "Aye, I'll tag along, though I'm not sure how useful I'll be." Maybe some time outside the walls would help with his thought process, though with how long he was cooped up, a change of scenery would be a nice change of pace. When was the last time he had seen the forest?

"Jus' let me get some things." Pulling away, he grabbed a spear and his club, glad he finally got around to sewing in a slot for it on his pants leg. Getting ahold of Sian's old bag and quickly stuffing the rest of the jerky in his mouth, he stopped short and held onto the last pair of strips before returning to the door. Swallowing, he held out the remaining pieces for Sian. "Jerky?"

"I think t'at be everythin'." He shifted around the bag on his back. "Be ye ready, or is thar' anythin' else ye need t'a get? I got me huntin' knife an' a few extra arrows if ye need 'em." with a pause, he added, "If we get a kill, I'd like t'a skin. Darius taught me a few things wit' makin' leathers durin'..." he stopped, thinking on how to rephrase it. "W'en I started workin' wit' the lad. I wanted t'a see if I could make somethin' more durable t'an me normal skins."

With an interested look in his eyes, he asked, "How long have ye been an archer? I don't think I've asked ye 'bout t'at yet." He rested his spear against his collarbone. "I've met a few archers on me travels. Some far scarier t'an others..." At the thought of Wither, a sinister smirk formed on his face. "Say, lass, what are ye plannin' on huntin'? A deer, or maybe, a buck?" Sure, he wasn't the kind to be extravagant, that was Darius' job, but he did have that petty side to him. "If so, ye don't mind if I snag t'a antlers, aye?"
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#5
“Great!” Sian enthused when Wally agreed – with a slightly surprising amount of readiness – to accompany her beyond the walls of the Fort. Sian had always found that contributing to the well-being of anyone beyond herself was a good way to lift her mood, not to mention an excellent distraction from life’s woes. Judging by the papers littering Wally’s room Sian thought he could likely do with a change of pursuit.

Sian accepted the jerky with a murmur of gratitude, sniffing the dried meat before tearing off a chunk. “You make this?” she asked casually. If this was of Wally’s own making he was clearly a man of more talents than he let on.

Sian patted her bow with a smile. “This is all I need – got arrows, too, although extras might come in handy; it’s a while since I’ve had the chance to go after anything bigger than a groundhog.” Turning down the hall and toward the stairs which led upwards to the ground floor of the Courthouse, Sian moved smoothly but not as briskly as she might have had she been alone.

“The skin’s all yours – I mostly just want the practice and the meat for the stores,” she remarked agreeably.

The woman’s tail swung into a slow wag as she set foot on the first step of the upward-leading flight, glancing sidelong at Wally. “A few years – it was the first weapon I was really drawn to – I used to watch people shooting and it always looked so.. controlled.” Controlled was good in Sian’s book, when compared to the chaos of flailing spikes and swinging blades. “Probably a boring reason, huh?”

Sian shook her head lightly, blinking as the relative gloom of the lower floor fell away.

“A buck -" she snorted lightly "- now that’d be a test of my aim.. need to hit him in the right spot unless you just want to make him angry... I guess it’ll depend how brave I’m feeling.” She shot another glance at Wally, this one coupled with a smirk. “What are you gonna use the antlers for? Not shoulder embellishments, I hope – has Darius rubbed off on you?” There was a mischievous glint in the Damaichu wolf’s eyes before she broke her gaze away to study the sky outside.

“Seems like a good day for it. Hey, how long’ve you been using the spear?”

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#6
666 Words
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Some sheepishness flowed into the shepherd dog's features. "Nah, I jus' snagged a bunch from storage. I've been eatin' a lot more lately." Whether it was from stress or for winter, he had yet to decide. "I guess it be a good thing I'm taggin' along, I can repay t'a pack fer all I've gobbled up so far." Though such an idea was a bit soured by the fact he was probably not doing too much of the work. Maybe he could help carry back the kill; he was definitely getting stronger.

"I don't know how ye can hit such a small target," Wally started. "Though, I guess ye have a similar size target on bigger prey. T'at prolly balances it all out." As he followed along, he again wondered how long a few was. "Borin' is better t'an 'I be forced t'a fight fer me life fer t'a enjoyment of others'. Besides, controlled be always a good thing t'a feel, means everythin's goin' alright." Something that wasn't too common these days.

There was a mock sigh as Wally's ears pulled themselves back, a faux sense of outrage weakly plastered on his face. "Ye have so little faith in me. Nah, I have a need fer it all. Real important fer me well-bein'." His foreboding grin curled to become more toothy. "Thar' be a...friend? Well, maybe a one-time acquaitance from New Caledonia." Sure, he did truly consider her a decent friend, if a bit touchy, but Wither was probably the only person in the area he was willing to mess with, and without his brother or some of the more irritating old packmates back down south, his mischievous side was getting restless. "We got off on t'a wrong foot, but t'a lass helped me out. I'm only repayin' t'a favor. Thinkin' of makin' a ridin' cap fer her, t'a lass almost ran me over wit' a horse, an' what's more majestic an' unwieldy t'an a pair of antlers?" His face grinned for a bit until he did start to see a part of Darius within him, and he faltered a bit. "Aye, I guess ye do have a point thar', but in me defense, I've t'ought of shoulder antlers before, jus' didn't have a means t'a motivate me-self t'a make t'em."

"Aye, jus' a bit bright fer me eyes." Maybe he should try to get out more often, even with the threat of being murdered. His attention was quick to return to Sian. "Me spear? Well...I guess...prolly at least a year. I got me hands when winter ended last year, so I guess since t'en. It has its own breathin' room, an' I'm not defenseless if someone gets too close, though I've been strugglin' wit' t'at." At least now, the extra pouches gave him a bit more options to work with, including the club. It was enough for his thoughts to shift.

"I guess I also got some club knowledge too, but t'at be tradition fer me old pack. Everyone had t'a use one, though some of them had some weird one wit' another stick screwed into t'a side." He still wasn't sure the purpose, never asked, but it had to mean something if they kept putting it on. "We did have bows, but those be fer t'a hunters, an' me father banned me from bein' 'round'em long before I could shift."

This talk made it feel like things weren't going downhill. It seemed everything was normal, and Wally wished that was the case. As much as he'd rather avoid it, he wanted to ask Sian how she was dealing with this mess, how she was managing with it all. He doubted she would be anywhere near as big of a wreck as Darius, but there was probably some issues she was dealing with. Maybe he'll ask it later, or if the topic came up, but at least she seemed chipper enough at the moment. The same couldn't be said with some of the other residents.
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#7
OOC: Feel free to move things along if you want, minor PP is fine with me if you wanna use it :D

Sian liked talking to Wally. There seemed to be no awkward silences and even if that was because the man filled them with words, Sian enjoyed listening. He had a quick wit, too, and a way of retelling things that kept the listener engaged. It was impossible for Sian’s mind to wander too far during a conversation with Wally – and for now, that was definitely a good thing. Her mind had done too much wandering in recent months; she suspected it had been the same for most of the pack – maybe even her doggish friend himself.

Sian’s ears pricked, the rims of her eyes crinkling in a smirk.

“A friend, eh?” She chuckled and waved a hand to signify that she was just playing. “Oh yeah, well, at least you’d see her coming next time.” She shot Wally a grin. “I don’t think you’re much like Darius, really, don’t worry. Happy to have the odd check-in to make sure you don’t fall under his spell, though.”

At the mention of Wally having gained his hands just over a year ago, Sian’s eyes widened. “Totally thought you were older – uh, not in a bad way, just you seem more worldly than me and I was born four Summers ago…” Though Sian had a better sense of where she was headed now, she still regretted the time she’d squandered. The memory of failing her First Blood had never quite left her.

“I should probably train in something closer range, too. Can you see me wielding a club?” She grinned, only halfway joking.


Sian gave a nod to those guarding the gates and, once through them, inhaled deeply. Sometimes the world beyond the Fort - since Sian had spent time barred from the outside - seemed to smell and feel very different to within those walls. Everything was a bit different now but there was always a sense of a weight being lifted, for Sian, once she got into the woodland beyond Fort Kingsbury.

“I, um, I like our conversations. They take my mind off things, you know?”
Sian’s gaze dropped to the ground their paws were carrying them over, partially to avoid any tangled roots or unseen dips in the terrain; partially, too, to keep an eye out for deer tracks.

The Damaichu archer shot her friend a meek smile:

“The way you talk – it reminds me of someone I used to know in a pack further North. She was the closest thing I’d had to a Mother since my Grandmother died.” Sian frowned, shook her head. “Not that I think of you as a Mother!”

Deciding that that was quite enough foot for her mouth in one go, Sian bent to examine a spoor. The two grooves, curling inward slightly toward each other, indicated which way the deer had headed. “One’s been through here – not a stag, though, by the looks of it.” Sian indicated it with a bob of her head, looking to Wally for agreement before moving on.

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