[AW] All cats are queens and you are not royalty
Trick or Treat Wrote:Stashes are being found throughout the territory!

AW for one - Midmorning - Millstone Village
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[Image: d5V6ZhkI_o.png] There were two cats curling around his feet, prancing as they did so. The dark feline that had been his grandmother's companion seemed to be perfectly happy with Belle as her new companion. With four cats in the house, Krios wondered if he and Kamari were planning on starting a breeding clan of cats. Kittens were a fun pet to have, useful and independent, but Goddess above, he was definitely not keen on the growing zoo they were keeping. Valuable or not, how many more animals did they need?

Antoinette did not speak in their language, so Belle was often the one to translate the elder queen's desires. Granted, it seemed more out of regal pride than anything else that Antoinette did not bother to learn or try harder to use the canine's speech. Now and again, though, Krios was so damn sure he heard faint, feline murmurings in French.

It was a brisk fall morning, undeniable as there were more orange and yellow leaves on the trees than there had been a month or so prior. The chill was welcome, though he knew that Kamari would soon be bringing out her heavier cloaks and there would be a lot more fires to maintain to keep the jackal-mix warm. He had begun to chop more wood whenever he had a moment and was bored, simply to have something to do and to have a steady supply of firewood ready and drying for his wife.

He was not quite eager to chop wood or gather anything that morning, so he took a stroll when Belle suggested they wander through the village. Her glance had been mischievous enough to get him out.

Soon enough, though, the cats nimbly lunged away as only a cat could. They practically slid across the ground toward the backside of a tree at the southern bit of the village; it was relatively quiet for the morning, but the way that the queens stared at the tree made him pause. He did not have his bow with him, secured and stashed properly at home while he worked about the interior of the kingdom, and wished he had even thought to bring a knife.

Belle looked at him, long tail curling around her legs and she meowed at him rather than speaking. She seemed hellishly pleased. Rounding the tree, he could feel the blood disappear from his face as it suddenly grew colder. A wooden stick figure, skeletal and grim, waved in the breeze, tied to the tree branch. It was crude and reminded him of the symbols Nicodemus had once put up. But the cats didn't seem too bothered by it.

Krios, meanwhile, stared at it, reaching up to nudge it ever so slightly.
Having missed his usual dawnlit cue to wake up and start exiting Millstone, the sole Mendicant of Salsola was leaving his borrowed roof much later in the morning than he would have liked to. He hardly even said goodbye to Corrine as he went.

It had become customary, within the last few weeks, for Kaimkillen to sleep at the Serf’s residence each night. He did not particularly like the assumptions he had made up in his head of how others might perceive the habit, but the caretaker had become more insistent on the hybrid’s indoctrination. Staying with her only gave her more time to convince him that serving Salsola wasn’t so bad... As if this place was not “secretly” an ode to all things macabre and wicked about the world...

He supposed he had heard of crueler, poorer kingdoms to be suppressed under. And if it wasn’t them, then who would he need to fall in with next in order to survive? Would they be better or worse? Kaimkillen had these questions and more in his head, but some other, more skeptical part of him considered these invasive exceptions to be a part of Corrine’s weevil ideations.

He might have even called it Stockholm Syndrome, if he knew the name the for it.

With his hair still slick from how recently he had run water through it before departing, the coywolf was still fumbling with the brass button on his green capelet as he swept out to the road, into the morningtide. Usually, he would have had time to dry off, eat and such, but he chugged through the Village like a steam train on an empty tank; A trail of smoke billowing behind him as he pulled deeply, almost hungrily, on his fast fading cigarette.

The servant had just tossed the crushed butt of it, when he saw Striker Krios observing something in a tree. He knew better than to walk by without speaking. Noticing the two cats, as he came closer, his attention was quickly stolen by the symbol dangling before them and the curious Factioner. Kaimkillen gently cleared his throat. “Striker,” he greeted him, with a bow. “May I be of service?”
(365) ·
thanks for joining ♥
Remember your youth, in all that you do, the plank and the passion
The cats turned their heads simultaneously towards the Mendicant, but it took Krios more to notice the man. The sound of a throat being cleared and his title echoing out behind him. He turned his head slightly to see who it was, unfamiliar with the voice. His expression was still quizzical, mostly at the figure waving in the wind silently and ominously. It was definite Nicodemus's shenanigans at work again, but it never failed to make his skin crawl.

He knew Kaimkillen, having been there when the rest of his gang had been eradicated. Though he himself had no killing blows, he had been present to witness it all and had lifted his bow against them with intent to kill. After the trials, Krios had put the whole thing in a box in his mind to shunt away to the side so that he did not have to think about it anymore. It had been a horrible time, beginning with the death of his mother, the marriage to cover the growing confusion in the pack's underbelly, and the betrayal of family. It had been a hideous time and he did not go out of his way to be reminded of it.

Kaimkillen was a living reminder, along with the pup that Elphaba took as her own in a strange gesture of clemency. It was more than the Striker cared to deal with on a daily basis.

"Ah, Mendicant," he greeted simply, knowing he was trapped into the interaction. The cats were silent, not even greeting the man with a customary meow. Antoinette seemed to narrow her gaze even more than Belle's impartial expression.

Krios turned his head back up to the symbol. "Have you seen Nicodemus put these up recently? He has a history of..," he trailed off, unable to finish the sentence in a way that made any sense without being excessively rude. "Anyway, thoughts?" he asked.

As soon as the Striker’s lancing blue eyes alighted upon Kaimkillen’s dreary face, he averted his own gaze to the ground, daring not to stare at the queenly feline companions either. None of the small party seemed particularly interested in or pleased by his arrival – a sensation he was unfortunately used to by now – but Krios’ aloof, intelligent glance was noticeably cold; As if steeling himself to the very thought his Mendicant’s presence.

It made Kaimkillen hyperaware, and made him attempt to recall the many times he had seen the Striker in passing. Had the Factioner been avoiding him all this time, and the coywolf had failed to notice the aversion? It could have been misconstrued as a general disdain for the lower ranked, another common experience in Salsola, but he was also prepared to consider that it was personal.

But if Krios did have a problem with the hybrid being there, then he was kind enough not to express it outright.

Smoldering eyes lifted to symbol, as invited, and he slid closer in order to peer up at it. Nicodemus put this up? From his superior’s tone, the activity wasn’t looked on favorably, which felt like a deviation from the usual witchy, ghoulish things that happened in the culture of this pack. Kaimkillen frowned and rocked back on his heels, thoughtfully stroking his chin. “I guess what I think of it depends on what it means, exactly,” he tilted his head towards the earthen archer. “Is it supposed to be a good luck charm, or...?”

He did not really want to think of the alternative.

WC: 266

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