[P] long shadows on the street
#1
The sleepy town was not so sleepy today, he noticed. Nor had it been in the past few months: the Dye Studio had luperci coming to and fro, and he heard rumors here and there of the other buildings in the area being put to good use in the future. Whether these were solid plans trickling down from the King or if they were just someone's pipe dream, he did not know. It wasn't really his business, anyway.

The Rabenuhr man walked with his hands in his pockets, the thin cloak around his shoulders doing little against the cold — but that was the purpose of fur, he thought, and he wondered sometimes why he even bothered with clothing at all. It had been a silent request of his Lady for him to be more civilized, once he was inducted into the Realm properly, but considering he scarcely ever saw her anymore, it seemed like a waste to keep fiddling with it.

And still, he did. Fennore's words often did not stray from his mind. Even if she was drowning in the work of her pack and couldn't spare a moment for him, he could still hear her polite, eloquent voice telling him to not slouch, to speak loudly, to make nice with the others.

He always listened, but he didn't always follow through with her more sociable ideals. Wearing pants, at least, was not as much of a chore, even if it felt a bit unnecessary.

Perhaps he had a chance to work on it now; just ahead, near the Studio, he spotted a familiar, hunching figure, one splotched with fleshy scars and graying fur. This was quite far from the Songthorns' shared home, Amon observed, and he found himself drawing closer to the elder brother, his face long and his greeting woefully underwhelming as he gave a nod.

"Ierian."
[+315]
for ierian! dated to uhhh whenever he's in haven lol
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#2
ooc [+505]
As intended, the day has been a dive into a region unfamiliar to him where New Caledonia’s influence had spread. And though it seemed less densely populated than the now familiar City Square, he still found no shortage of encounters with members of the pack on this day. Some as new to him as the place he set out to visit, others less so. He’s been growing somewhat more familiar with his pack mates, if only learning names during Caledonia’s recent celebrations if not from his time living in a house erected by The Gone and bestowed by the Realm’s sovereigns.

Feeling most of his intended plans have been fulfilled, he moved steadily into the part of the day less planned out. He supposed, unless the locals needed the aid of a healer and could benefit from him happening to have made his way here, he could soon set out in the direction of Fort Louisbourg.

Yet his body had not been immune to all this time spent upright, rather frequently in motion, and without the aid of his staff. He found himself looking down at his feet, as though a stern look could fill them with some newfound energy, make them steady against the dull ache in his joints. Sadly they were not so easily coaxed and he pondered whether shifting would relieve him enough for the road back. He almost felt the urge to smirk at the thought that it wasn’t the journey that was problematic. It was the fact it had to be retraced.

Disappointment in having these limitations had become a familiar sentiment. But perhaps the more pressure he placed on those shortcomings, the further the border could expand. The more he would be able to do. Surely with time his feet would become steadier. His need for the staff would diminish. His ability to cover ground would expand, and let him reach even further than the Haven that he spent the day exploring. Surely this wasn’t forever. Was it?

In those thoughts, Ierian very nearly missed a greeting, such as it was. Surprise at being addressed only lasted for a fraction of a second. It took that long to remember he was standing outside, there were other souls here, and there were some who could recognize him. Amon’s manner was about as much as could be expected of him. Despite that, with the time he spent with the man providing a steady shoulder, he knew well enough that this was as amicable as he could get.

After all, he noticed him. He approached him first. He uttered his name. What was this chain of events if not the friendliest offer of conversation he could muster?

“Ah, Amon. It is good to see you." And it was. Amon has proven reliable and honorable, even if he didn't pair it with much expression. "What brings you to Haven?” Ierian asked, trying not to give much attention to the part of him that regretted not having his staff to lean on right now.
#3
Ierian was looking better, these days. The scars would never fade, but the gentle giant did not seem as feeble or weak as he had been nearly a year prior. That wasn't to say he was entirely sure-footed, even now, but progress had been made where the Songthorn once seemed so dire and hopeless a case.

Besides, he had made it all the way out here without a cane or walking stick of some sort. Although, Amon could tell as the healer neared him, that it was not without a sizeable effort.

"Patrolling." By now, Ierian was probably not expecting any more words than were necessary out of him. To be fair, Amon was marginally more conversational with the elder brother than he was with most people.

Remembering Fennore's pointed request, though, the wolfdog offered another morsel.

"You're pretty far from home." It was an observation and little more. Ierian was much more well-versed in the art of small-talk to hopefully make something out of nothing.

He paused, casting a glance back towards the direction of the Square before looking to his companion once more. It was getting rather late, he noticed. Ierian was not likely to make it back before darkness fell.

"I can help you get back."

Difficult though it was for Amon to add much inflection to his words, his hope was that this offer was neither pushy nor assumptive. It was not his intention to insult the man, but to extend the sort of assistance they had built their quiet, respectful relationship upon. If nothing else, he would accompany him, but Amon was prepared to hoist his arm over his shoulder and act as an anchor.
[+2]
you can make assumptions here if you wanna!!
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#4
ooc [+444]
No extraneous movement, no gestures, not even change of expression. Amon was, as always, mostly taciturn and stoic. But Ierian’s had enough time to come to terms with it. He answered exactly what he was asked, giving a reply that made sense. The Songthorn chuckled to himself briefly. Perhaps were they to take lessons in oratory from Amon, they would save a lot of time conveying their meaning without resorting to their verbose manner of High Speech.

Placed against this pinnacle of reserved behavior, to have him voice an observation was almost a gift. One that Ierian did not squander. “I am. I attempted to arrange for a cloak.” He realized he was talking to his prior sponsor where it came for clothing, and so continued. “I did not wish to borrow from you indefinitely, Amon, as generous as you have been.” And he certainly attributed the generosity to Amon himself, ignoring that it may have originated from the order of the former Councilor, now Isiltári.

He contemplated the offer of the large man before him, one of the few in Caledonia to match his size. At least prior to one of the Lady Savoy’s daughters turning out to be quite gifted where it came to a robust physique. It was a good offer, and though what remained of his charred pride wished to rear its head, it managed only to make him hesitate for a moment or so.

“I would appreciate your company, Amon.” With no belongings to pack before the trip, Ierian needed only get to his feet. As though preceding the need for the Songthorn to exert himself, he found Amon had extended a hand for him. The scarred healer gripped it in his and with combined effort pulled him upright. There was only a slight grunt of tension.

Soon they were off, Amon close by his side throughout. It was clear that Ierian could lean on the man at any given point. There wasn’t even a complaint about their snail’s crawl pace. Perhaps later, when he felt less tired, or if, he could attempt to shift. Surely Amon was not someone who would insist on traveling on both legs.

“Have you been well, Amon?”

Ierian asked at some point, knowing the reply would likely be fairly curt. He did know that he’d never once had to treat this glacier of a man for anything. Though whether this was because he stayed out of trouble, or was the greater trouble for whatever he came across the Songthorn didn’t know. Just as well, it could have been because it was not in Amon’s habit to complain, however warranted it might have been.
#5
He'd almost forgotten about the loaned cloak, in all honesty; it had been no trouble at all letting the older man borrow it, and the Moonwraith made quick work of securing another one shortly after the fact, at her insistence.

"Keep it as long as you need," he said. Even if Ierian was in the market for a new one, made by the hands of their own dye mill, the one borrowed was just as well as his, at this point, and Amon certainly wouldn't be in the business of busting down any doors for a debt owed. That was a shadowy past behind him — and a task better left to the High Lord Tanaka, anyhow, if it had been anything substantial.

So they began their trek, slow and steady, but this didn't bother the wolfdog much. He thought himself a graciously patient man, at least in the right company, which the Songthorn thankfully was. The polar opposite of Wither Rose, even, and a fraction of the headache.

He gave something of a grunt in response, a vague, yet agreeable answer. There was not much to expand upon, really; a man of a tight regiment, Amon's routine did not deviate much at all from the norm.

"It's good you're getting out." Though, to be fair, he hadn't kept up with the comings and goings of the Songthorn residence nearly as much as he had in the past, when his services were utilized more frequently. Perhaps Ierian's journey here was not so peculiar at all.

Amon was attempting, at least, to be sociable. It was a far cry from the easy conversation the Isiltári could initiate at the drop of a hat, seamlessly and effortlessly, but it was something.

"The cold must be bad for your joints."
[+3]
you can make assumptions here if you wanna!!
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#6
ooc [+377]
“I appreciate your kindness.” Ierian said earnestly. However ceremonious their High Speech, at least in the elder Songthorn’s case it was rarely ever used to mask something. It was a courtesy that he wholeheartedly believed in, rather than one coached into him. Even so, he couldn’t help feeling some degree of embarrassment. It’s not as though the cloak he’d borrowed was any worse than whatever article of clothing he could have properly claimed as his own. Perhaps it seemed a bigger gesture to Ierian than it did to Amon.

For some time there was only the crunch of snow, and Ierian did not do much to coax more words out of Amon. The healer’s feet were what set their pace. In turn, a method of creating equilibrium of a sort, he let Amon’s speech be that which set the pace of their conversation.

“I try.” Ierian admitted, preceding it with a slight grunt. He could have used a longer turn of phrase, but the walk seemed surprisingly taxing, and the wind blowing at his scarred frame only seemed to further mock him for overexerting himself. As though in defiance, Ierian let out a soft chuckle – the kind of gentle rumble that often came from him at many a different time.

“I suppose it was foolish of me to set out without the cloak you so generously provided me with.” He admitted as his eyes surveyed the ground in front of his steps. Their two sets of feet left imprints in the snow. Some distance behind them they’d left the area of the forest trampled when Ierian was unexpectedly beset by a pair of hunting pups.

“You have done much for me, Amon. For that in the past, and in the present, I must thank you.” His voice was nearly a murmur, and this time he failed to infuse it with as much humor as his prior remark. He felt tired. Less so of walking, but more of the day in its entirety. Of having to be tall and large and strong. Of having to stay scarred despite it all. Of having to remain aware of all those things and their implications. Albeit those the Songthorn had invented for himself, rather than drawn from the comments of others.
#7
Accepting praise had always been a difficult thing for Amon. In Rabenuhr, he didn't much have this issue; he was duty-bound and expected to perform, and the reward was living another day. While he had never been one to receive excessive punishment, as others did for insubordination, nary did he earn a kind word, either. He just existed, day in and day out, to fulfill a purpose, and that was as far as it went.

In Caledonia, however, it was a different culture entirely; a culture of gratitude, of neighbors helping one another out of altruism and not obligation. While he didn't see his assistance to Ierian as a job, or a chore, it truly was no problem, either; and yet, to the ailing Songthorn, it must have seemed a more meaningful gesture.

All that was to say that, when the burned man gave him his heartful thanks, the wolfdog didn't immediately react. What was he supposed to say, "you're welcome?" As if he was doing him a favor? Even if, at some base level, that really was what it was, it certainly wasn't some debt he expected to be repaid somewhere down the line.

In the end, he settled for a grunt of acknowledgement. It wasn't so much that he didn't appreciate the elder's words — he just didn't know what to do with them.

He attempted to change the subject, for what little good that did.

"The Call to Court," he said, at first unclear to even himself where he was going with it. "What did you make of the Duel? And the guests?"

Truthfully, Amon hadn't even stopped to consider either of those things when the occasion had been fresh on his mind. He was curious, however, what perspective a member not dwelling in the High Nobility might have made of everything.
[+3]
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#8
ooc [+343]
Truly the Myriad enabled for an endless splendor. It even had room for wonders such as Amon making conversation. It brought a smile at Ierian’s face, the healer talking no offense at his gratitude only eliciting a grunt. His tribe believed Souls to be able to communicate wordlessly at times. Standing up on two legs would not completely rob them of this venue of interaction.

And yet, Amon was instead talking more conventionally and posed a viable question. “I enjoyed it.” It was somewhat broad of an answer, if completely sincere. And one that was unlikely to keep the conversation going. Feeling he would rather reward and encourage Amon’s ventures into being sociable, he sought a way to expand.

“Before the Call to Court, I have only seen the Feast.” He explained. “And I have never seen a Duel in which you would… ah, what is the term… “fence”, yes?” Pausing for confirmation or else a correction to the term, he continued. “And of course it pleased me to see so many of New Caledonia in one place. Although…” And although it, like the difficulty with which he walked sometimes, stemmed from his condition, this particular thing made the Songthorn laugh rather than lament. “The daughter of Kalypso and Torabera. Hokori? Hahaha, I feared she… oh, Myriad, I feared she would wring out my arm. I am… sure it was not at all how Caledonia’s dances were intended…” Come to think of it, out of all his encounters with those of Savoy or Tanaka blood, he would only name Athalie as one with whom interactions went smoothly.

Gradually the rumble of his laughter ceased after marking his opinion on his own near death by a drunken dancing pup. He wasn’t sure if Amon would relate to the humor of the situation. And even if Ierian could derive some merriment from various misfortunes of lesser degree, he was not sure what sorts of jokes, if any, the man by his side would laugh at.

“What of you, Amon? Was the celebration to your liking?”
#9
Amon had seen many duels in his life, but none before Caledonia had gone quite like this. In Rabenuhr, bouts in the gladiatorial ring did not end in some bloodless, symbolic, trivial victory. He remembered feeling confusion when he attended the first Court and saw the combatants making glancing touches with their wooden swords.

For some reason, he felt a touch of anger, even, at the sight, but he did not know why.

But he nodded anyway at Ierian's assumption, even if the theatrical display was nothing close to the term, not really. He was an agreeable sort and saw no reason to go into some long-winded spiel about what true fighting was. Not only was irrelevant, but it was far too many words for him to comfortably speak.

There seemed to be some miscommunication, which was expected for him. The wolfdog hadn't necessarily meant the Caledonian guests at all, instead thinking to their shadowy benefactors from the south — but the conversation moved on in spite of it, and he attempted to flow along with it.

He grunted. Parties were not exactly his forte, and he instead busied himself that night keeping an eye on the outsiders and making sure nothing went terribly awry. At least this year, Fennore hadn't stumbled into his bed, drunker than he'd ever thought possible.

A strange knot formed in his stomach at the thought and he bristled.

"He wants me to teach his daughter." A pause. "Toraberā. He said she was unruly." She had already grown tall, and there were no signs that she was stopping anytime soon. The High Lord wanted to form her into a fighter, but as much as she had the physique for it, he lamented her lack of training. Amon supposed he could give it a go; her antics couldn't be much worse than what he'd experienced with Wither Rose.

"I like the sound of 'Isiltári' more than 'Lord-Regent.'" It was a rare thing for him to give his opinion, much less on a political matter — and while he was undoubtedly biased, it was true.
[+3]
haha im sorry amon's speech is always so disjointed and all over the place but that's how his brain works xD
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#10
ooc [+408]
"He is not wrong about his daughter." Ierian responded with a chuckle, the rocky start of his interaction with Hokori apparently not leaving him with any sort of a grudge. Maybe, though, it did leave him with a far more realistic grasp of his capabilities as a dancer. This knowledge may not have been flattering, but it would surely serve him in the future. Perhaps even save his life and limb.

Well, more so limb than life.

Amon’s next statement was a surprising shift of topic, though he supposed it still rested in the realm of the Court and its matters. “Hmmm…” He drew out thoughtfully, as though supporting this part of the conversation required some more careful consideration before he could speak.

“We owe the Lord-Regent much…” He didn’t specify whether it was “we” the Songthorns or else “we” the New Caledonia. He did not, for that matter, even specify if the two “we” have become one and the same. That moment was certainly something that felt close at hand. “But for the lady Fennore… Yes, I believe the title of 'Isiltári' suits her better.” His lips curled into a gentle smile. “Her we owe much as well…”

His context was different from Bellad’s. His interaction with the newly crowned 'Isiltári' has been less involved. But he recalled how they both were alike in their concern back when they discovered Bellad and Calan may have been buried in the Underthing. He remembered their shared relief at their return. He also had an inkling of how much she meant to his brother. A fact that he wouldn’t carelessly gossip about or use as a suitable topic of conversation.

A few more steps drew out crunches from the snow underfoot. Ierian hadn’t looked back, but they have surely left a trail of large paw prints in the snow behind them. “This word, 'Isiltári', could you explain it to me? I have never heard it prior to the announcement. Lady Fennore’s previous title. It seemed less… exotic?” That, of course, was a matter of perspective. For all he knew the title was something completely mundane, if well-fitting, to Amon.

“In our lands we had but our names. Though one would be acknowledged as Elder, once their knowledge was vast and their guidance proven.” He interjected before letting the man next to him speak. As though to provide an alternative that could explain just what the older Songthorn was accustomed to.
#11
Amon himself had suffered very few interactions with their previous subleader. Really, he only knew the Eryn through the lens of his mistress, which was rather flippant and scathing as it was. He particularly remembered Fennore fuming over a supposed breaking-and-entering at the hands of the Lord-Regent, one that left her flustered and embarrassed — and scolding him for not being present to prevent it, of course.

After Athras had left, though, he heard little, if anything at all. It was as if he disappeared in a flash of smoke, leaving disarray and confusion in his wake. It left a bad taste in his mouth and was his motivation for speaking up in the first place, only months after the fact. Amon doubted very seriously that Ierian was a gossiper and felt his opinions were safer with the healer than many others in their Realm.

He nodded solemnly at the elder's words, finding his later sentiment relatable. It was no secret that Amon owed his very life to her, in some capacity, and he had worked tirelessly to repay this debt. He was, at first, very reluctant to accept the help of the pack, if only for their own safety; but when it became apparent that Rabenuhr had no intentions of seeking him out after his supposed 'desertion,' he was much more receptive to staying and earning his keep. She was owed that, at least.

Ierian gave a bit of context, pulling his ancestral lands into play, perhaps looking for reciprocation. But Amon was tight-lipped about his upbringing to all, and this was no exception. It would only lead to more questions that he was not eager to answer. It would garner unnecessary pity that, even if only coming from the Moonwraith currently, drove him up a wall.

"'Queen of the Moon.'" The title's origin was foreign to him, as well, but the one in question had explained it to him before her coronation. Though it seemed fittingly flashy for her.

He would not delve into his own relationship with names or frivolous titles, but he figured he could still ask questions and avoid giving his own answers.

"You were an Elder?" It seemed more like a statement, if anything, or an expectation.
[+3]
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#12
ooc [+311]
Ierian chuffed softly when Amon explained Fennore’s recently acquired title to him. “Fitting.” He said with a genuine smile. It felt so if only placed against the Isiltári’s beautiful alabaster pelt. The older Songthorn did not voice this observation, and in so doing left the men unable to compare their views on the titles of Caledonia’s highest nobility.

The smile, unfortunately, did not last as the conversation moved along. It vanished as though some unseen hand swiped it off Ierian’s features in an instance. Instead he all but grimaced mournfully at the thought, though of course he’d exposed himself for such a riposte the moment he spoke of the tribe of his birth.

“I was meant to be…” He said heavily. There was a time when he believed himself to be one, though he’d only heard whispers of his promising future back in the day. And yet he attributed it to himself, much as it outpaced any official proclamations from those who bore the deceptively simplistic title. He aspired to embody their qualities. Teaching the young. Protecting the pack. Being an unmatched pillar of might and wisdom. And he was. He used to be. He believed himself to be.

What was left now of this might? What good was the wisdom that could not save a single life? He was being lead through the forest, cold biting at the gaps in his pelt, his feet aching merely from the need to stand. Placed against the Ierian of today, the self of the past seemed all the more wreathed in grandeur. Very nearly grotesque in the sheer superiority this figure exuded. It was a height infuriatingly out of reach.

Against his will, Ierian’s brows knitted together in a look of internalized disdain. “But I am not.” The burned healer finalized with the kind of scorn one couldn’t be sure he himself noticed.
#13
Of the two brothers, Amon considered Ierian the more amicable one; Bellad had struck him as the brooding sort, which while there was nothing wrong with that, it gave a man such as himself very little to go off on.

It was somewhat strange, then, when the elder Songthorn's words grew weighty and somber, where previously they had been conversational and light. Amon hadn't thought his question to be entirely disagreeable or probing, but it must have struck a chord, somehow, which hadn't been his intention. He wasn't the type to pry nor dig deep, if only because he wished for the same courtesy to be afforded to himself.

"Hmm."

He considered the sullen words for a moment, letting silence stretch between them before coming to a conclusion.

Amon couldn't say with any degree of certainty what exactly constituted an Elder, according to Ierian's homelands and their traditions. But here, just as Fennore had made herself her own rank and wrote her future accordingly, perhaps Ierian could do the same.

"You are an Elder here."

It was a statement, not an "I think" or an "I believe." He truly thought it was so, if his time with the scarred healer had proven anything.
[+2]
[Image: vjZQTW1.png]
#14
I suggest we finish here! Thank you for the thread! [+322]
He may not have kept track of the self-aware vitriol that seeped into his voice. And yet he could feel there was something weightier, loftier to Amon’s silence. The man was, of course, not prone to conversation in the first place. And Ierian’s sudden change in mood no doubt did little to make him more talkative. A poor reward for all the courtesy of companionship that he’d been offered.

Ierian was very nearly about to apologize for his outburst. How indiscreet of him to contaminate their exchange so. And yet he’d only slightly opened his mouth when he heard Amon’s words.

“What…?”

The voice in which he dropped the single nascent question was not harsh. It was no shocked bark at an embarrassing slip of the tongue or a tactless remark. It was barely above a breath instead, as light and as shivering as the vapor to which the cold air turned his exhalation.

The older of the Songthorn healers slowed down from his walk and stared at Amon. This time it was a direct gaze rather than merely Ierian keeping him in sight from the corner of his eye. He was an Elder here? He was not one. But here?

What meaning would it have to be an Elder of a people long gone?

The corners of his mouth curled ever so slightly and he let out a brief huff. Not quite a smile. Not quite a laugh. Not quite agreement. Not quite freedom from the weight of an intended title he did not prove worthy to bear.

“Perhaps…” He said, turning his glance in the direction of the City Square again. The two of them were not far now and with Amon’s steady shoulder, surely the Songthorn could reach it. Perhaps not reach the glory of an Elder. But reach the one last place where he could be one in the first place.

"I thank you for your kindness, Amon."


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