[AW] at least they said they would
Cook is by Loch Fundy's shoreline, checking out the weird flowers!
It would be super cool if someone could help him dig some up :>

The little plants looked like small trees in the garden, but Cook knew their spiky leaves told them apart from a more common maple. He tended to these shoots carefully, as he had when they were seeds and sprouting indoors.

With the threat of frost over, it was time to properly begin growing. The cannabis plants were weeds, admittedly, and would endure a lot. Getting them to flower and bud was a whole seperate process, though the old man was skilled and knew how to ensure this happened. He wanted to see his plants take root and take off, so as to increase his supply and make it easier to spread their trade. While he had yet to run out, he had run low – he was running low now, but he could stretch things until summer, when the first harvest could begin.

There were other things in the garden now too, including seeds. Whether or not they'd get the things they had been promised remained to be seen, but Cook was faithful.

He had wandered away from the garden on his walk, unaccompanied but not without alerting his companions as to his intentions. All of them had noticed the colorful plants growing along the coast, and while Marlowe and Salem had warned them as to the more nefarious nature of their origin, these ones didn't seem so bad. Their poor fortune-teller seemed convinced a ghost haunted the space, and so Cook avoided the area she had mentioned pointedly. Even if it wasn't haunted, he didn't want to worry the poor girl.

By mid afternoon he found a crop of the strange looking plants. They were higher than he expected and out of his reach, but the old man took this in stride and tried to study them from the ground.
The older you get, the better you realize you were.

Spring was always a welcomed relief, like the sun rising after a long night. They were both certainties with a reliability demonstrated over years and lifetimes and generations, but despite an unshakable belief that the seasons would change and that the day would come, the depths of winter and the darkness of night often seemed endless.

Soliloquy did not mind the solemn quiet of either, but there was a loneliness to them he didn't like to linger in for long. The was life in the dark -- there were always critters scurrying around and birds making mournful calls -- but it was different, divided, distant. The contrast with morning and the spring was always so stark.

The grass was green again, and everywhere he looked there were plants and flowers he had never seen before, or only seen in his mother's notes. He felt an almost instinctual pull to collect and catalog and harvest, as he had always been tasked to do, but his bags had long been plenty full, and what use did he really have for trade? And what was knowledge for knowledge's sake?

He had never minded learning or helping with his mother's craft, but it had always only been his mother's craft. Fiction had had a keener interest than he. Soliloquy had only been an obedient child.

The hybrid walked along the coast, lazily leading his horse through the low shrubs that grew along the rocky shore. They approached the strange flowers he'd seen from the distance, tall and bright, as if from a dream. These were not flowers he knew even from Cassandra's notes. He didn't know whether it was habit or duty or true curiosity that led him to them, but there was a peculiar sense of relief when he spotted another man near a cluster of the flowers.

"Hello," he greeted.
q-q I am sorry I am so slow.

There was pollen in the air – if he looked towards the sun it was more obvious – but the breeze coming off the lake kept most of it high above his head. Sawyer could still smell the flowers, though. Like all canines, his nose was sharp and told him far more than any of his other senses.

That was how he knew the stranger was coming, even though he didn't spot him until the man was nearly upon him. Had he been violent, this would have been a far different encounter. As it seemed, though, the spotted hybrid and his horse did not seem to be an active threat. For the most part, people weren't outrageously dangerous. They all had the potential, sure, but few took that leap into savagery. Some unseen like separated deviants from regular society, and inevitably led to these aberrations being rooted out and destroyed.

The smell coming from the flowers might have had something to do with Sawyer's casual smile and wagging tail.

“Hello there!” He woofed back. “You come to look at the flowers too?”
The older you get, the better you realize you were.
He sneezed twice as he approached the stranger and the group of flowers. As he shook his head to clear his vision, his mare pulled forward, straining her neck towards the sweet-smelling blossoms. Soliloquy tried to hold her back for all of a second before loosening his grip on the reins -- there was no way he would be able to keep her from going where she wanted to go, if she really wanted to go. It was unlike her to pull towards a stranger, but it became clear very just a moment later that she didn't care about the other man at all.

Raindew plowed right into the flowers, shaking her head up and down a bit before settling in the middle of the cluster. She didn't seem interested in eating the plant, but instead just stood there, snorting softly and contently. Soliloquy found himself laughing inexplicably, a soft chuckle that felt unnatural somehow. The hybrid settled into an awkward smile before turning blue eyes turned to the stranger, an older dog with greying fur.

"Yes," he said. He was sure his voice sounded different than usual, but he wasn't sure how. "I've never seen or heard of these before... are they common here, do you know?"
Though he had thought to bring Babs down to examine the peculiar growth, Sawyer was less inclined to haul the skunk around during the day. She liked to sleep then, and it was always quiet early in the day, so he left her to do as she pleased. No one bothered her. They'd be fools to do so, of course, but this number was lacking among their collective with Mateo's absence still ongoing.

The smell of the flowers was pleasant. Even the stranger's horse seemed to like it, a response that drew wheezy laughter from the old man.

“Eh-hehehe, looks like yer horse sure likes them.” Sawyer made sure to give the animal space just in case it was less friendly than it looked. Horses were big, and a kick or bite from one of them could do plenty of damage, especially to a body in its twilight years like his own. He thought the idea of riding them very clever, but had never made efforts to learn. Taking care of a horse was complicated, and more work than he wanted.

“Y'know, I'll understand if y'don't believe what I'm about to tell you, but this is what I heard,” the dog said. His eyelids felt heavy, almost like he was stoned. It was an all right feeling, he thought. “Apparently, a star fell outta the sky a few years ago. I know, it sounded unreal to me too! But that's what happened,” he exclaimed. “I guess sometime after that, these big flowers grew – way bigger than these ones, and way stronger smellin' too. Guess some people got hurt or killed around 'em. Well, those big ones went away and then the next season these little guys popped up. Nice colors and all, but I sure would have liked to see a flower as tall as a tree,” he sighed and shrugged. “They sure smell good, don't they? I was thinkin' of takin' some back to my garden. I grow all sorts of things, and these sure got a nice a-ro-matic quality.”

The older you get, the better you realize you were.
Soliloquy had heard many tall tales on his journey -- so many that it seemed too easy to simply to write off so many travelers as having had a mass delusion. He wasn't quite sure that accepting their stories as truth made much more sense, but the wide sampling of strangers that seemed to tell similar stories was difficult to dismiss. A mountain had fallen into the sea. The ground had split apart and moved around. Even the man who was apparently a cousin had described a falling star, though he hadn't mentioned any flowers.

For the while, he held the stories in a mental limbo -- they were others' truths, certainly, but whether he would accept them into his own understanding of the world remained to be seen. Maybe he'd see for himself the signs that these things had all happened, or maybe he'd never know for sure. If it mattered, he'd have to decide eventually, but in the meantime, there was no urgency.

The hybrid nodded at the man's explanation. "Flowers as big as a tree...? Maybe they couldn't grow here," he mused, though it was more to himself than anything. "It'd make sense for them to mix with the local flowers, though, if they were smaller and hardier."

Cassandra's notes on cultivating plants were spotty and incomplete in many places; though she seemed to occasionally return to certain areas, on the whole, she had simply moved around too much to really observe a singular garden season over season. By the time they'd settled, her eyesight was too poor to allow for further writing. After that, Fiction often took her own notes and begrudgingly collaborated with their mother in forming theories and ideas, but Soliloquy had never been horribly interested. He sort of wished he had been, if only to have better theories now.

Had his sister passed through here?

"How did people get killed around the big flowers?" he asked suddenly, unsure how this tidbit didn't reach his brain before. "Are these poisonous?" It was easy to not eat something though, right? "Do we know for sure that these smaller ones aren't also dangerous?"
“I dunno,” the old man said. “Seen some big sunflowers a'fore, but nothin' like these.” He meant, of course, the colors. While many of these occurred elsewhere, the brightness and vibrancy of these were outstanding. The smell might have made him think this way, but he liked it a lot. There was something interesting to their shape, sure, but it was the aroma that was the best of all.

Sawyer lifted his brows as the stranger brought up the possibility of plants crossbreeding. As a man who cultivated his own...flowers, the dog was familiar with the ideas of plants having male and female parts. Not all of his plants produced the right sort of product, and sometimes if he didn't have a mixture of both nothing happened at all. Then all he had left was hemp, and while it made sturdy rope and canvas, didn't have quite the properties the old man wanted in his bud.

“Nah, I don't think eatin' 'em would kill you. Some deer were eatin' 'em just recently, and I haven't seen any dead deer 'round here.” None of the meat they had taken in at La Roja had been strange looking. There were plenty of yearling animals whose new separation from their mothers would make them vulnerable. Even though Sawyer couldn't go hunting, he knew the younger people in their collective were likely to take advantage of such a bounty.

They weren't here to talk about food, though Sawyer's mind was never far from his next meal. The dog sighed and shook his head. “Well, that's the strange thing – smell made 'em crazy. I guess it must have been different then, 'cause I don't feel much different. Smells good, though,” he sniffed again. Delighted by it, the Dealer wagged his tail.

“I'm Sawyer Cook, by the way. Me and my friends run a little entertainment establishment just over yonder,” he said, and indicated the direction from whence he had come. “If that's the kind of thing you're into. Seems like you sure got a mind for flowers, friend.”

The older you get, the better you realize you were.
The smell was pleasant, but the more the older man drew attention to this fact, the more uneasy Soliloquy felt about it.

There were a number of mind-altering flora that he was familiar with and many didn't require very hefty doses to have an observable effect. It didn't take a lot of poison to do its job, especially if the target was four-legged, but those substances were typically easy to detect by smell, even by someone unfamiliar with exactly what it was. Sometimes poisons smelled bad, sometimes they smelled nice, but they almost always had some smell.

He looked again to his horse, who remained standing serenely among the tall stalks. If she was dying slowly, he couldn't tell. There were bees around, through they didn't seem to be bothering the mare, instead wriggling vigorously on the wide middles of the flowers. If the tree-height flowers had emitted a smell strong enough to drive canines mad, would there be a similar effect if he stuck around long enough? What did "make them crazy" really mean? How had the victims met their deaths?

Soliloquy worried, but it was hard, somehow, to focus on his worry. It was a nice day. The old man seemed pleasant. The blotchy hybrid wanted to laugh -- maybe about his own worry, or nothing in particular -- and this concerned him, too.

"My family specialises in plants," he said, distractedly. "There are a lot here that I've never seen before though, not just these." Blue eyes turned back to the other dog and cocked his head slightly. "Entertainment establishment? They don't normally have need of flowers, do they?"
Would it be so terrible, to die feeling good?

It would certainly be better than bleeding out, or suffering a grievous injury. It didn't seem fair to imagine himself laying down among tall, colorful flowers and just never waking up again, when his oldest and truest friends were cut to ribbons, their bones scattered elsewhere.

You do? The old man asked, delighted. “I grow plants myself! In fact, I specialize in weeeeed,” he drew out dramatically. A laugh burst from his throat and faded out in a wheezy exhale. Years of smoking and old age in general had done plenty of damage to his body, though the hot springs, steady meals, and medical attention he received among the group had reversed some of this.

“So as y'see, I got a special interest in flowers. Aside from that I do some cookin',” he wagged his tail, pleased with his secret joke. “Me an' some of the girls are startin' to grow some herbs an spices. Now that we got somewhere I can grow things – been totin' around pots for a long time. Still like 'em, of course,” Sawyer went on. “You ever stop by I'll show you, if y'want. Y'might find some folk that know more 'bout the flowers than I do.”

He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “Man, I bet these would be nice in the garden. Maybe lure some people in,” Sawyer joked. A part of him meant this. Maybe the sweet smell would even help keep the mood calm and pleasant around the place.

The older you get, the better you realize you were.
He had been raised to be practical and self-serving. The indulgences of others were to be taken advantage of, and resisting base pleasures made it harder for others to take advantage of him. Still, he found it difficult to begrudge others their small joys, especially when they were things that didn't bother or involve others.

Life was long, hard, and lonely, and the flowers smelled nice, and he probably wasn't dying, so he supposed the older man -- Sawyer, he said -- was probably fine to try to cultivate them to draw in business? If the flowers were dangerous, they'd find out soon enough, and if the end goal was business, then there wasn't any reason to keep them around.

If the flowers were dangerous, Cassandra would have been more interested, but Soliloquy thought there plenty of simpler poisons. He already had too many on him, but he always felt bad after he traded away those ingredients. What would those plants be used for? Who had he doomed for his own benefit? His mother had always dismissed these concerns as irrelevant to them, but he always wondered, and worried, still.

"Yeah," Soliloquy agreed. His voice felt lazy, and he still felt distracted. "If they're like regular flowers, it should be easy enough to collect seeds," he said. "But if you can dig deep enough to get all the roots out, you can probably transplant them where you want directly..." Tentatively, he took a few steps closer to the strange, colorful blooms and looked closely at the leaves and petals. "These still look pretty young, so you probably have time to move them and have them settle in before they seed..."

He knelt down and started to brush away some of the dirt at the base of the stem. The ground was dry, but not terribly so -- optimal conditions for uprooting something. "I wonder how deep the roots go, though." The fragrant flora resembled sunflowers in appearance, though that was basically where the similarities ended. He'd seen a variety of sunflowers over the years, and the largest ones had roots three to five feet deep. That was deeper than he could dig without tools and a lot of time, but it was possible that the plant could survive and reroot with even just half its original system.

Soliloquy turned back to the older dog. "Do you have a shovel?"

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