[M] The Balancing Act (Wrath and the Raft)
#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.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: SEXUAL REFERENCES AND POTENTIAL VIOLENCE.

After meeting the Salsolan leader, Wrath took the scenic route to give himself time to think. He cut a southerly course towards drifter bay, via the Halcyon Mountain. He conquered the snowy summit—or at least some peak that seemed to protrude the most—and found the approximate source of the Pictou River on his way down the south side. He travelled alongside the meanders, picking up small prey here and there. He sometimes stopped to think, to eat, to rest, and once to fuck—which really was a sordid affair.

The south-westerly wind pushed him along, becoming increasingly chilly the more the days wore on. Eventually, the river began to serve as a physical border to Salsola's lands, and every so often he would look across the valley, possessing some curious expression; an angry and sullen frown etched into his ominous features. He had mixed feelings about his future. To no longer be alone meant to follow rules, laws. Perhaps, he thought, he should be making the most of his days. Slaking the thirst of these harmful desires. As if they were not an addiction, as if they could be burned up and never heard from again. As if, indeed.

Finally, an hour's walk after passing the oncoming rush of the Pictou's impressive tidal bore, he arrived at the shoreline of Loch Fundy. He dipped his tongue into the water and winced. The water ran back out of the gaping hole in the side of his face.

The day was cold, grey, with a fine mist of rain lingering in the air, barely falling. Even so, his black fur was drenched. He turned his head back, lapping his long, thick tongue over his coat to clear the taste of brine before his attention was captured by a soft sploshing and knocking sound.

Fifteen feet away, buffeting against the dismal looking rocks of the shoreline, was a small sailing vessel with a crude mast and tattered fabric sail. Wrath scanned the shoreline as far as he could see, but there was no clear evidence of an owner. He moved tentatively towards it, his massive paws dipping into the frigid water. He placed his left front onto the raft, pushed down on one corner. The raft tilted, the opposite side lifted from the water. He tried a little further in, and it appeared more stable.

To any that knew Wrath's personality, the behaviour was undoubtedly odd. For him to find curiosity in anything other than killing, debauchery and general wickedness toward all species, was, to say the least, unusual. He growled for no other reason than a threat was his most used tool when wanting a situation to turn in his favour. Perhaps subconsciously, he figured threatening the raft would ensure it didn't do anything unpredictable during what he was about to attempt.

He leapt for the centre and landed on all fours. However, the momentum was enough to push the boat away from the shoreline. He overbalanced, and his enormous form fell forwards. His already disfigured face hit the mast, snapped it, causing the ragged, ripped sail to fall down over his now unmoving form. The wind blew again, and both Wrath and the raft continued to drift away from the land.

---

OOC: You know when you start writing, but you don't know where it's going to end up...
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#2
(+569)
Optime | Drifter Bay | NPC: Cedar

Kamari’s scent is disguised.

xD Definitely know that feeling! Made an assumption about the boat having a mooring line simply because, if it didn’t and Wrath is unconscious, welp, he’s sailing out to sea and this thread would be endin’ quick xDD
Cedar’s pace had been steady ever since they had crossed the Waste and old Infernian territory. With their current timing, Kamari was sure that they could make it back to the Thistle Kingdom before nightfall so long as they didn’t have any cause to veer off course. It was a promising thought. After all, the Emissary had a report to write, and things were always easier when they were still fresh in one’s mind. As well, after a week-long mission, she was looking forward to having some place dry and familiar to sleep for both herself and her horse.

The dreary weather also played a factor, of course. She didn’t want to be out in it longer than necessary, and didn’t particularly care for the thought of another night out being cold and wet.

The misted rain had collected in a fine, dewy layer across her clothing, her effects, and her horse. Her hooded cloak had kept the majority of the droplets off of her, but, even so, she could feel the cold dampness of the rain even through her clothes. Still, she rode on, driven by the allure of what awaited her and her horse at the end of their journey. Had she been the lazy or less-disciplined sort, Kamari might have chosen a route that was further away from the chilly breeze that came in off of the Loch. Duties elsewhere had kept her from patrolling the area in recent weeks though, and she knew it to be overdue.

She hadn’t expected to find much given the awful weather, so, when she spotted a large, beast of a canine investigating a small sailboat, she had been curious. From the distance, she couldn’t make much on detail aside from the individual being darkly-furred and wolf-like in build. Even so, surely, they didn’t mean to sail out in the dingy-looking watercraft? Particularly without the use of hands? Seeing their initial hesitation with boarding the semi-beached boat, Kamari’s thoughts were brought back to a non-shifter she had met many weeks before.

With a frown, Kamari urged her stallion to pick up his pace, having every intention to intercept the individual and warn them about messing around with the human relic. If it was a non-shifter and they drifted out—

Kamari cursed under her breath and broke Cedar into a gallop.

“Hey!” She barked loudly, hoping to get their attention—that was, if they weren’t unconscious from the boat’s mast breaking on them. “Jump out of there, now!” When the horse and rider came close to the sailboat, Kamari slowed Cedar enough so that she could dismount mid-stride.

While Cedar ran off his excess momentum, Kamari raced forward, spying an old mooring line trailing behind the boat as it drifted away from shore. She splashed into the cold, ankle-deep water and snatched what she could of the line before it could drift out of reach. The rope in hand, she backpedaled quickly, whistling loudly for her horse to return to her. With the wind and size of the wolf adrift in the boat, she knew she stood little chance in keeping the boat from drifting out on her own.

“Hey!” She barked again, digging her feet into the ground as the rope began to pull taut. “Get out of there!”

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#3
(567)

The impact wasn't enough to knock the beast unconscious, for he had a head like a rock—a sizeable, stubborn rock with a cruel expression. He'd interwoven himself with the mucky sail and the rotten mast and become tangled, and really pissed off.

The small vessel rocked beneath the Secui while he struggled to break free. He paused for a moment, thinking he heard a voice. 

Couldn't be. 

With a loud growl, he sunk his teeth into the mast and ferociously ripped out a mouthful of chewy, rotten wood. He spat it into the sail and bit into it again. This time the wood seemed more robust, and he used the strength of his neck to heave the mast overboard. The sail was dragged into the chilly depths behind it, whipping Wrath behind his notched ear and irritating him with a final fuck you salute, before disappearing underwater.

At last able to reorient himself, he paused, looking out at the seemingly endless expanse of water ahead. His expression slackened, and his eyes widened; he was not a good swimmer, despite a lifelong attraction to the sea.

"Shit."

It was almost as if a voice in his head was telling him to get off the boat. That was until he turned around and realised somebody was telling him to get off it. She appeared to be quite far away before he realised she was just particularly small. Under normal circumstances, the thought would have drawn a sardonic grin. He'd perhaps have been more impressed if he'd seen her rather deft demount while running for the mooring line, but there wasn't time to dwell on the consideration.

He frowned. Not taking long to decide between the option of potentially drowning in shallow water, or definitely drowning in deep water, he jumped as far as he could from the raft. His powerful rear legs sent it flying backwards away from the shore and, without warning, harshly tugged the mooring line along behind it, and presumably anyone crazy enough to be holding it.

He sank like any old munition—with a rock for a head—would when thrown into the water. The cold made him gasp, the gasp made him choke, and his paws and claws slashed and grabbed at the unwelcoming, awkward shore, as he disappeared from view in a froth of growl-filled bubbles. 

He resurfaced in James Bond fashion, albeit far more Krakenesque; coughing up a throat full of brine, which he vomited —along with blood-streaked phlegm—into the shallow, lapping waves at his feet. 

He was panting hoarsely with his teeth bared, blood running from his gums, over his tongue, onto the ground, and a very subtle limp where it appeared he could not apply much pressure to his front right leg. The salty water still blurred his vision, so he could only move in the direction he thought the stranger had been. He stepped clumsily over the rocks, panting with a spray of blood ejecting from his severely scarred half-mouth on each exhale as he continued on increasingly confident steps, seeking the literally bite-sized stranger. 

A deep growl, like rolling thunder, rumbled a warning at the large blurry silhouette that appeared to be nearing him. A chuffing sound and a gust of wind to Wrath's nostrils revealed it to be a horse.

How embarrassing! He growled again, beginning to scan for the stranger that he may have simply walked past—surely she wasn't that small.

---

OOC: Lol, true... good thinking!
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#4
(+605)
NPC: Cedar

LMFAO @ his inner thoughts before he jumped off the boat xD
There was movement on the boat, and she was thankful. Small as she was, even if she’d managed to bring the boat back to shore, it would have been quite the hassle to try to heft an unconscious, monstrous beast out of the boat and further inland. The Other’s movements though caused the boat—and attached rope—to shift, and Kamari grunted as she kept backpedaling, hoping she might be able to win the tug-of-war match between herself and the wind and Loch’s outward current.

Cedar came up beside her, snorting and tossing his head as if to tell her that he was ready to aid his rider. Keeping a distracted eye on the boat and its occupant, she glanced at her stallion and gave him a command to follow. She strode forward to slacken the line, however, just as she turned to mount up, the molded rope jerked sharply in her hands. Had she been less disciplined, she might have fallen with the sudden and unexpected tug. Kamari was quick to maintain—or perhaps, regain—her balance. However, she was also just as quick to let the rope go upon seeing the darkly-furred canine bail out the side of the boat.

She padded forward and stood as tall as she could, trying to search the crashing waves and dark waters for the overboard wolf. Altruistic as her actions and intentions might have been up until that point, Kamari was not someone to throw her life away needlessly, particularly, for a stranger. It would be up to them to make it back to the shallows. The Shadow could live with the knowledge that she had “tried” if they ended up drowning before then. All the same though, she searched and hoped that the wolf was strong enough to make it back to shore.

Sure enough, she spotted a dark, solid mass part from the waves. Loch water dribbled steadily off of their fur as they gradually made their way back to much more solid ground. Cautiously—there was always a caution to be had when approaching a stranger, especially one that was so large—Kamari padded toward them as they coughed and sputtered.

Closer now, Kamari could make out the four-legged individual in detail; their broader features hinted at a male, as did their scent that whipped by her on a wind coming off the Loch. It was most certainly not the ensnared female that she had met before. Studying the male further, she noted that the most striking feature about the wolf was not his size or his heft, but, rather, his scarred face. The half that she could see was heavily disfigured to the point that she could see the wolf’s teeth despite his lips not being curled back.

Her tall ears flicked at the sound of a deep growl, and, taking it as a warning, Kamari stopped her advance. One of her hands reached behind her, ready to unsheathe her knife—at such close quarters, her bow would have had the disadvantage—if the Other decided to suddenly turn on her. A step behind her, Cedar watched the wolf carefully as well, with ears pricked and muscles tensed to react to a threat. It was clear that the stallion did not trust the wolf, however, he was also trained well enough to not attack a Luperci without clear cause to.

“Are you alright?” Kamari asked the Other, being sure to make sure her tone and body language conveyed that she was no threat to him…so long as he wasn’t one to her.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#5
(606)

Wrath blinked until the water cleared enough to see the stallion in sufficient detail. The steady growl continued, realising that the rider was probably close.

His fur was pressed flat and slicked down against the bulging contours of his muscular frame. His back partially arched, some wet hairs popped erect around his neck. The growl increased—he was like an armed bomb, ticking down to an explosion.

Wrath had a significant blind spot on his left side, which he only very rarely left unguarded, but in that instant, there was a lot to process. Finally getting his breath back, along with the freezing temperature of the water and the fact there was some inquisitive equine staring at him, left him a lot to process for long enough for someone to stick a knife through the side of his neck.

Then she spoke up, and the rumbling aggravated beast tensed once more and shot an eerily fast look to his left. His gaze met hers in the shadow of the hood. His eyes differed; one wild amber fire, the other a cold, grey-blue, shifting fog. Blind in the latter, of course.

The growling stopped, he perused her slight frame, lingering around her hidden hand, before returning his gaze to her eyes once more.

Finally, he chose to deal with her grating question. It was one of those platitudes that had an obvious answer, and so was utterly pointless, and worse: boring. Wrath had blood leaking from his mouth, splinters in his exposed gums, a slight limp from an entire mast landing on him, and he was soaked head-to-claw on a cold, dreary day.

"What do you think?"

As the reality of the situation caught up with him, he became somewhat conflicted. There were several reasons to attack and kill this female: For starters, it would have been entertaining. Furthermore, she watched him make rather an idiot of himself; not a good start for the reputation he was supposed to be gaining in the area. Then the conflict: She had attempted to save his life, and second to that, she probably had a knife, and she was close enough to feel and smell his hot, briny breath, and therefore close enough to try to stab him.

"That would be a mistake," he warned. The last word came out as mishtake. He was still agitated enough to have little control of the injury-induced speech impediment.

"Unlesh, of coursh, you're looking for trouble." He grinned in that lopsided, maniacal way. "I can give you trouble."

It wasn't necessarily any more a threat than a fact or offer. So, he was interested to see how the girl deciphered it. The information would be revealing.

His massive form began to move, first turning his head away to spit blood onto the ground, before stretching slightly and starting a long, thorough shake of his entire body which would no doubt soak the weapon-donning woman next to him.

Next, he snarled at the horse while beginning to circle both equine and equestrian on his good side. He bared his remaining teeth threateningly and snapped a bark at the stallion. He was so very conflicted about how to deal with these two.

Then he paused, sighed, and with a frown looked to the girl again. "Why?" He asked. "What could you possibly have gained by trying to help me?" Poshibly.

Although he couldn't relate to it, Wrath wasn't a total stranger to the social phenomenon of altruism, as he would have been long since dead if not for the emerald-eyed Saphira. But experience told him most others had an ulterior motive behind their seemingly honourable intent.

---

OOC: haha... I smiled while writing it.
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#6
(+500)
NPC: Cedar

I am SO sorry for the wait on this ;O; Last month (and this month) has ended up being super busy for me.
His eyes turned onto her, and she noted the obviously blindness of one of them. It was not unlike the Queen’s servant, Odalis; misty and clouded, forever unseeing despite mimicking the movements of the other eye. For a moment, he stared at her, before his answer came out in a sarcastic bite of a remark. At the very least, despite his obvious injuries and condition, he was well enough to stand on his own four feet and maintain a bit of spark to his attitude. It was all Kamari needed to know. If he could muster that much, she had no need to help him further.

The Other’s next words were that of a warning—lisped as it might have been from the cuts in his gums—and Kamari scoffed softly at it. “It would also be a mistake attacking me,” she warned back, ignoring his suggestion about her looking for trouble. “But I don’t think either of us want to die on this godforsaken beach on a day like today though.” If he attacked her, she would attack him, and if he managed to walk or run away, she was sure her stallion would finish the job. None of them would leave the beach victorious.

She had dealt with this type of behavior before, threats from larger men who saw an easy target, and she had learned well how to deflect most with just words. Those that would not be deterred were introduced to the sharpness of her blade or the point of one of her arrows.

Kamari remained poised and calm when the dark wolf spat out more blood and stretched, as if he hadn’t just almost drowned in the briny waters a few moments prior. His snarl towards Cedar was met with the stallion snorting and pinning back his ears in warning. The mustang didn’t let the wolf leave his sight, and the muscles in his body tensed up in anticipation, one that Kamari read as the stallion poising himself for a well-aimed kick or to rear into a stomp should the wolf encroach any closer to them.

Judging by the way the wolf circled them and continued to act aggressively towards her horse, Kamari assumed that he had never dealt with the dangers of such an animal before. Either that, or he didn’t care, and was looking for a way to carry out his earlier threat of giving the pair “trouble.”

When the Other finally paused from his circling and aggressive behavior, she was met with a frown and a question. “In all honesty, I thought you might have been someone else,” she replied bluntly. “But, even knowing what I know now, I would not have acted differently.” She offered a half shrug. “Without a pack to rely on, us Loners have to stick together when we can. Life’s hard enough. I help you today, and, who knows? Maybe you’ll end up helping me months from now.”

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#7
WC:577

OOC: No worries, I know how it can get sometimes. Still glad you managed to get a reply in!

My posts may get a bit sporadic over Christmas, fyi....

---

He stopped circling—apparently unaware he was favouring his right leg much more by then—and took a drag of her scent, committing it to memory. Wrath's torn-up facial features and ominous presence were usually enough to dissuade others from interacting in any way, let alone with a counter-threat. He was riddled with scars and peppered with grey fur. He had lasted years despite having thrown himself into the worst of life. So, of course he didn't expect her retort, and certainly not her scoff! How much damage could a miniature humanoid inflict on a bear-sized killer, anyway? 

"True," he grinned, blood still leaking from the join between gums and teeth. "It'd be a lot of energy to waste on such a small meal."

Not boring then; he no longer felt inclined to traumatise her. Not because she 'accidentally' came to save him, but because her self-assuredness was refreshing.

"What's the difference?" He asked of the beach and the weather. "Dead is dead."

He watched the restless stallion with a sidelong, narrowed gaze of distrust. The tension between the two was palpable and the horse became more agitated. Wrath growled again—the unspent energy of a potential fight irking his mind like an itch.

He continued frowning at her answer, still struggling with the concept that he may feel inclined to help her at a later date. 

"Would I?" Impassive, unreadable. His live, amber orb was dragged from the mount back to the rider.

There was still some hint of the handsome wolf he had been in his youth—before he lost half of his face, one eye, and all enthusiasm for life—but what mostly remained was a weathered monolith, too hard, too cold inside for a heart to beat properly. Circumstance and cynicism had poisoned whatever good he once possessed.

"You can move your hand. I won't bite you." He didn't look entirely convinced of his own words, nor did he seem particularly bothered whether she chose to or not—death was not high on his worry list. 

"A loner?" He regarded her dubiously. Despite the damp fur adding sleek, pronounced contours to her countenance, something felt off. She seemed too vibrant, too well-nourished and appeared to hold too much purpose. But the world did deliver those ever-optimistic and driven individuals every so often. "Where were you going?"

"And who'sh the bodyguard?" Nudging his head in the direction of his primary source of unrest. 

He moved towards the large beast to break the tedious stalemate, but by then the adrenaline of his morning swim had worn off, and the extent of the damage caused by the falling mast became evident. He winced as a nerve-twanging bolt of pain shot over his right shoulder and partway along his neck from even the slightest touch of paw-to-ground, and he quickly stepped his left-front leg forward to catch his weight. 

He released a quiet exhale, attempting to hide the grimace. Lifting his head to regain his dominant posture, he showed a sick grin as if he may have been internally revelling in pain. But he was struggling to think of something with which to brush off the event. He opted for spitting blood onto the ground again, as if it may offer some kind of distraction from the truth: He was injured, and not going anywhere fast. 

He was soaked from the icy plunge, and the dismal day began to feel colder than it actually was.

"You should light a fire. I have a lot of queshtions."
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#8
(+735)
NPC: Cedar

Hope your holidays were good<333
Her reply seemed to deter him from continuing his previous thought process of doing her harm. Either that, or he had found some small amusement in her words, particularly, with the way his right side of his face shifted to match his left in a full grin. She smirked and offered him a half-shrug at referring to her as a “small meal.” She had nothing to argue there, knowing full well that she was smaller than most of the wolves and coyotes that populated these lands.

Again, she shrugged at the dark male. “It is, but, I still have my preferences for how I go out of this world and where I die. This ugly beach is not it.” She shifted her weight before gesturing to him. “What about you? I’m sure you could think of better places to die.” He could die in a forest and become a great pine tree, or in an open field and become a thorny patch of thistle plants. Out there, on that beach, he’d be nothing more than food for seagulls or covered in disgusting barnacles after the tide took his carcass out to sea.

He seemed to accept her reasoning for helping him, though, was sure to focus on her final words. Though his tone and expression were unreadable, Kamari was not unfamiliar with such things. She had grown up in Salsola, after all. The smirk she gave him had an almost playful edge to it as she answered, “Maybe, maybe not.” Karma had a weird way of working sometimes.

The tension between them settled a bit, and the wolf claimed to have no interest in bringing her harm by his teeth. She stared at him, trying to gauge the honesty in his words. The man seemed rather feral, and his actions upon emerging from the Loch’s briny waters hinted at someone to be wary of. He had growled and snarled and flashed his teeth, but, perhaps, it was all a front. He had a bad eye and was injured, after all. It was instinct to appear more threatening. If one looked injured and acted weak, they made themselves more vulnerable to being attacked.

In the end, in an effort to promote a truce between them—and show that she was confident in her fighting skills—she removed her hand from her knife. However, she remained vigilant, her muscles ready to react defensively should he decide that he had a greater interest in attacking her than talking civilly. Kamari had had her fair share of liars and deceitful Luperci, and knew better than to naively trust a stranger simply because they “gave their word.”

The Shadow nodded to his doubtful question regarding her status as a Loner. “There’s a river that runs along the borders of a pack west of here. If you take it north, you can make your way around their territory through the mountains.” She reached a hand back to pat the mustang’s muscled neck. “My horse,” she explained simply. “He’s a bit aggressive towards strangers, but, he’s sweet to me. He carries my stuff for me when I have things to trade.” It went without saying that she didn’t have much in the way of tradable goods in that moment. While the saddlebags Cedar carried looked to be filled, they were not full.

Perhaps curious now that he did not have a point to prove, the large wolf moved towards them, however, hardly made it a step before he was overwhelmed with pain that seemed to stem from his right foreleg. The male quickly shifted his weight, and tried to play it off. Kamari had seen it all though—the wince, the instant regret of pain, the attempt to hide it all and look tough and in control—and couldn’t help but to quirk a brow at him at his suggestion that she make a fire.

“Only if I can ask the same amount back,” she bargained without skipping a beat, smirking at him. She had no obligation to indulge him, had no reason to help him further now that she knew he wasn’t who she’d originally thought he was.

She waited for him to either accept her stipulations or for him to decline and be forced to find a way to dry off and lick his wounds on his own.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · Character Wiki

Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#9
WC:657

OOC: As good as they could be with the whole world being in a bit of a state, thanks! I hope yours were, too.

---

Although old trauma and hate and sickness filled the darker recesses of his mind, he was relentlessly curious and cuttingly sharp. His one working eye glistened with excitement as he watched her reaction to his taunts. Most found the trait unnerving; a hefty, scarred grotesque looking wolf that rarely moved his gaze away during a conversation. It was "akin to being interrogated by a monster" she once said before she was gone.

His eyes narrowed as soon as the loner shifted her weight mid-sentence. He was not the trusting type either, and he was always ready—if not eager— for things to turn a little messy, but she started talking again and the readiness faded.

He paused a long time to consider her question, and, for a brief moment, he glanced away. Too stubborn to consider such matters, he repeated his previous views emphatically, this time with a hint of a growl. "Dead ... is dead."

He watched her hands drop from behind her back and, though it did not show, he felt some relief that his last fight wasn't going to be with a horse and a small loner. Perhaps she was right. Maybe there was a more ideal place to fade out, or flame out.

He enjoyed the explanation as she stood with a certain tension in her frame and body language. It wasn't unusual; he had yet to meet another who was completely calm in his presence—an accolade he'd bestowed upon himself of which he was somewhat proud. She described in reverse the course on which he had arrived, so earned the rather terse reply: "I know." 

He remained impassive throughout the description of her predicted trail. Yet, a small crease developed and then disappeared between his eyes when she referred to the overprotective mount as only "my horse". The explanation did nothing to reduce Wrath's dislike of the creature either.

"He'sh lucky I'm in a good mood, whatever his name is."  For the risk of his very dry and subtle irony being overlooked, he was not in a good mood. Shooting the horse another look, while neglecting to mention the truth: The good fortune of both mount and rider could have been the failed balancing act and subsequent injury to his leg. And despite the lift of her brow when he requested the fire, he still did not admit aloud that the issue existed.

He sighed following her demand, a hot briny breath soughed from the exposed half of his face, through the yellowed molars that were a more accurate indication of his age than was his physique and, towards the end, a steady growl began to build. Wrath had a very short fuse, especially when he didn't get what he demanded, but—with some help from the bitter chill that began to feel as if it were dissolving into his bones—he found a way to temper the flare of anger.

Although opting to acquiesce, he still could not hide the rage in his stare, so he averted it. He dared to take a step towards anything that may resemble shelter, but he still wasn't going far. The pain was phenomenal; something ripped or ruptured, like a bolt of lightning, coursing over his shoulder and the top of his neck. The frustration wavered in the tone of his voice.

"My anshers in return for fire and your anshers. " He said, struggling with the word because of his old injury. "Fine," The agreement laced with menace. "But don't blame me if you don't like what you hear."

He made it three steps, favouring his bad leg, and decided that was far enough. His massive form sank without much grace to the ground, and he lay there, curled into a C shape to take most of his weight on his left side, and rested his heavy, beaten head between his enormous paws. It wasn't his first defeat in life.

"Shashola..." He uttered under his breath, while flicking his gaze back to the svelte luperci. 
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#10
(+539)
NPC: Cedar
With his words severe and short, the wolf sounded almost irritated with her answer of her where she had been headed. She had answered what he asked though. Had he expected—or wanted—something else? She wondered with mild interest. For her to name a location? To give something more precise? Was he suspicious of her? Or did he have intentions to stalk and hunt her down once his wounds had properly healed? She let it go, though, made a mental note to take a rather obscure path home to ensure she was not followed by the scarred male.

It was amusing, somewhat, to see the wolf’s continued, outward disdain towards her horse. She didn’t offer Cedar’s name where another, more friend and perhaps naïve individual might have. The less he knew about her, the less trouble he could cause her once they went their separate ways. Even still, he didn’t pressure her more on the matter, though, he did make sure to have the last word and glare between the horse and he before the subject of their conversation changed.

She watched, waited, as he seemed to reluctantly consider her bargain. In the end, he agreed, and scoffed at his warning. “I’m afraid there’s little that would disturb me after all that I’ve heard over the years,” she reassured, her smirk still remaining on her lips. She had seen Luperci from all walks of life, and had done many deeds that would have made a do-good Cavalier gasp and call her a devil. The list was short on what he might have done that would earn her scorn.

Kamari left the wolf to settle somewhere comfortable while she scoured the nearby beach for burnable kindling. She found what she needed in a short amount of time, and piled them near where the large male laid down. Once enough was gathered, she retrieved a flint stone from one of Cedar’s saddlebags. A few strikes saw a fire lit, and, with a bit of coaxing, the fire grew and began to warm the immediate area.

The Shadow settled down then, sitting opposite of the wolf as he let out a single breath with a word uttered onto it. “Salsola?” She asked, if only to make sure she’d deciphered his lisped word correctly. She continued without losing a beat, “They’re the pack I was talking about earlier. They’re a secretive bunch that don’t really like outsiders.” She raised her hands so that the fire could warm them. “Rumor says that their borders are boobytrapped, and, if you trespass on their land, well…apparently no one comes back.”

Her cornflower blue eyes left the flames to glance at him through them. “Are you a Luperci? Or a non-shifter?”

Since she’d first spotted him drifting out to sea, he hadn’t changed form. There could have been a number of reasons for it though, she supposed. Timing and placement, for one. Shifting also made one vulnerable, and others were just funny about doing it in front of others. If he’d been a non-shifter though, he would have been the second one she’d ever met.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
#11
WC:658


OOC: You know, I've just realised I haven't mentioned that he's in Secui form, sorry. That's his most usual.

_____


His turn to quirk a brow. He thought about a serene river with treacherous undercurrents and remembered a phrase from an old, somewhat humorous pack leader: No matter how big you are, you can always drown in a small puddle. He grinned inwardly and watched the little puddle wander off to get wood.

When she returned with the kindling, he replied before she could speak:

"Then, I shympathse. I'm sure no one would wish to keep company shuch as that." Such as himself is what he really meant, but that sounded a touch too self-deprecating. 

The middle-aged Luperci pulled himself up and watched as she set up the fire. He spent the vast majority of his time in four-legged forms, preferring a more wild existence. So, he was utterly useless at anything that required humanoid dexterity, though he was adept at wielding very large, very blunt objects that could be used to kill people.

His entire form tensed as he watched the birth and slow progress of the tiny, yellow flames. He tensed even more when the fire vanished, and a puff of smoke ascended from the wood before a light breeze reignited the kindling. He relaxed, fascinated as he had always been. He felt a connection with fire; almost protective of it. Much like Wrath, the only way it knew how to survive was by burning and destroying everything it touched, leaving its darkened path of ashes and lifelessness. And all they both really sought was purpose. The luperci had learned to harness the power of fire, however. That was the difference. 

He nodded, watching her closely as she confirmed the name he had murmured. He found her communication very precise. It flowed from her as easily as someone who talked too much; yet, somehow, no word seemed wasted, and she managed to deliver clarity despite apparently lacking some facts.

His remaining lips curled back. It could have been a grin or a grimace, but it'd be hard to tell. "Maybe that was true in the past. But I'm aware of at least one Luperchi who survived not only treshpassing but also threatening members of the pack. And he.... well, he is shtill alive." What's more, he's practically a prospective member of Salsola, he decided not to add. "We should test the idea someday."

Captivated by flame and company, Wrath hadn't noticed that the rain had stopped, and the afternoon was beginning to give way to dusk. As the low monotonous clouds started to thin and recede, the sky was rendered a pastel magenta, which, he belatedly noticed, was an impressive contrast against the hue of her irises.

"What?" Distracted for a moment, his mind had to catch up. He was a monster of a wolf, getting on towards a bear's size, so the question wasn't the most obvious. But, she wasn't the first to note his lacking inclination to shift.

He nodded at her first guess. "I don't like to shift, and I rarely see the need. Social events, maybe." He curled a sardonic smile. Wrath, social?

It wasn't lost on him that he could shift, and walk away bipedally but, in truth, he had nowhere to be, and he'd only had his own company for the last few days, which wasn't the safest place to be from a psychological perspective.

"So... you're not a member of a pack. But, you know of a pack close to here. A pack you're scared of." Statements of supposed truth so he could follow her reaction. "How long have you been a loner?" He asked, curling his head in and down and using his hind paw to scratch behind his ear; bliss.

 "And, er, the leaders of Salsola..." Managing to get his speech impediment under control for a while as the fire began to warm him; he began to feel more alert, and the warmth helped with the dull ache in his injured shoulder. "Do you know what they look like? How many there are?"
Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here...
#12
(+738)
Writing a fade out, so, feel free to assume that they discussed what we talked about! Thanks for the thread!<333
On the topic of trespassers, Kamari quirked a brow at the male’s suggestion that he knew otherwise. “What? Really?!” She asked, her eyes widening as if hearing something fascinating. In the back of her head though, she dove through her mental catalogues of noteworthy instances regarding the pack’s borders. Nothing recent came to mind, however, the information sounded familiar. It was something to ponder when she returned to the Kingdom though. For now, she had an alias to maintain.

“Psh, we?” She laughed harmlessly, her tone, doubtful. You might survive whatever comes out of there, but, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. Besides—” She thumbed over her shoulder to Cedar. “—I can’t afford to lose my horse.” For a huntsman and fur trader like Birch Kaid, the beast of burden was too valuable to risk on a curious venture where the odds were decidedly not in their favor. That was, of course, aside from the fact that she wasn’t about to agree to helping someone trespass into her own pack.

At her inquiry about whether he was a Luperci or not, the male assured her that he was shift-capable, merely only comfortable to remain in his lesser form. It was reasonable enough; there was hardly a reason to shift if one was able to meet all of their needs in a single form. The explanation was not an entirely new concept for Kamari either. Though she hadn’t met a lot of Luperci with preferences for a lesser form, she had known and dealt with enough individuals for the news to not leave her wide-eyed or pestering him further about his choices.

In an effort to keep their conversation going though, she smirked at him. “Only for social events, huh? Is it so you can send cowardly Luperci scattering?” At her own teasing, her smirk split, revealing a little bit of her teeth. With his size in Secui, Kamari imagined that the wolf was probably quite formidable and intimidating when he shifted up to Optime, particularly with his facial scars. Given his previous attitude with her as well, it would not have surprised her if the dark male found some sort of amusement in scaring lesser individuals.

The conversation turned to be about her again, and Kamari nodded as he listed off facts about Birch. She made sure to give him an offended scowl though when he mentioned her being scared. “I’m not scared,” she huffed under her breath indignantly, though, her voice hardly held any anger to it. She made a show to purposely become distracted with the fire’s embers. “I just merely understand where my limits lie, and know when to bow out with grace.”

She let out another puff of air before shrugging. “As for being a Loner, I’ve pretty much always been one. I’ve lingered here and there when it suits me, but, otherwise, it’s just been me and the horse.” She thumbed over her shoulder to Cedar.

When he asked about Salsola again, Kamari tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Hmm...I’ve heard a lot of different things about what they might look like. A beautiful goddess. A terrible witch. A battle-scarred individual. A fearsome, gigantic beast. A silver-tongued prince. I imagine there’s probably one or two of them. Most packs around here seem to rule that way. You know...”

They talked for a while more, asking questions back and forth. The male seemed oddly interested in Salsola, and Kamari did her best to give him satisfactory answers that any local Loner might have known, making sure to give him enough facts amongst a lot of lies and overexaggerated rumors. She memorized his face as they sat there, mentally documented all that they spoke on. He had not been the first Outsider curious in what lied beyond the border of thistle and thorn, but, as always, Kamari erred on the side of caution, ever wary that the male might make himself a threat.

Eventually, Kamari left the wolf to enjoy the fire while she, Birch, claimed to have further she wished to go before nightfall. On the off chance that he might follow, she’d purposely gone out of her way to make her trail winding. Only once she had been sure that it was safe, did the Shadow return to the realm of mystery and trap-infested borders.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi


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