[P] [LCSS] Look on down from the bridge
#1
[+000]
The Drunk Barrel. Night.
-----------------



It was a lonely affair, this seclusion. Idle, glazed eyes watched on as flecks of dust floated down from from the gnarled wooden ceiling above in the fading candle's light. The Drunk Barrel was no kind home. No hospitality was found in the grip of these cold, concrete walls.

Andrew sucked in breath through gritted teeth as he sat up in his makeshift cot. For days, he had sequestered himself here in relative safety, away from the jovial merriment of the Lancaster Stock Show. It was better this way -- for his family and himself. After all, Andrew Winthrop was supposed to be a dead man. There were some secrets that he could not afford to reveal to the outside world. Open borders like this were an inherent risk.

Had it been over a year now? The seasons dragged on so slow, but even still Andrew felt himself trapped between two worlds. He had made a life here. One with his family that he could be proud of. Yet, the specter of Salsola followed him even still. Unshakable. 

The deafening silence was perhaps the most maddening thing. Entrenched in a tomb of iron and earth, the outside world was dead to Andrew, leaving only a maze of narrow moonlit corridors and decrepit storage rooms. A part of him yearned for company. Perhaps Boone would return with provisions to last for the remainder of the festival. However, knowing his son well, Andrew knew he would be waiting longer than one would hope.

A noise akin to a stone clattering against the concrete floor caused his ears to perk. His breath hitched and he rose deliberately from his cot.  He raised his candle and the cramped room was bathed in dim light.




~~~
  Reply
#2
(+###)
Optime | Del Cenere Gang (Drunk Barrel) | Dated: August 26th

Related to [DCG+] Lancaster Stockshow 2021.

NOTE: Kamari sneaking outside Charmingtown was approved by DCG Leadership prior to this thread.

Kamari’s scent is disguised.
She had thought it a figment of her imagination, the scent she’d smelt. It had been faint and almost fleeting, and…should have been impossible.

The Proctor was dead.

In the hours after the cross-country horse race and into the following day, Kamari had let it fester in the back of her mind. She’d gone through countless of reasons to explain the scent, but, in the end, she knew what she’d smelt, and it wasn’t something she could ignore. She had only recently learned that Pontifex was still alive. What other secrets had hidden themselves behind the last place Salsola would have ever thought to—or could—look?

As the sun set on another day of the Lancaster Stockshow, Kamari made the bold decision to do what she did best; gather intel, and to do so covertly.

It'd been a bit trickier to sneak out of Charmingtown than it had been to merely stalk from the shadows within it. Guests weren't allowed past the town limits except for marked events, all of which, were over with by the time night had fallen. Her saving grace might have been, with things coming to a close, a few had gotten a bit rowdier to celebrate their wins and losses, or to enjoy what time they had left in the town before they went home. She'd had to time things precisely to evade any Del Cenerens or curious bystander or drunk. Being caught would have surely had her kicked out of the Ganglands, or, worse, made her highly suspicious of having certain associations. She could afford neither.

But, she had to be sure.

The Shadow traversed through the rugged terrain that led up into the Burnt Church Mountains. To not get lost, she tried to stick close to the trail she had run with Cedar during the race. However, even so, she’d done well to keep herself hidden and well out of detection of any patrols or otherwise. It wasn't long before she came across the scent that she'd caught by chance before. No longer needing to maintain her alias, Kamari was free to investigate the discovery more thoroughly.

She sniffed and tracked like the Vedetta that she was until, eventually, a dark, ominous building grew out from the woodlands and mountainside. She paused at the site of it, memories of a nightmare not three moons gone stirring from where she had quieted them. She had not brought her horse, and she had not been in direct contact with Bones since she'd walked through the gates of Charmingtown. She was alone, just like before.

Kamari pushed the dark whispers down and continued onward.

She scouted around the building first, thoroughly checking for any fresh scents or signs that the building was much more active and lively than it appeared from the outside. Once, twice she circled, threading her way through mountain forest and other crumbling pieces left behind from the fall of the humans. When she found little evidence of another coyote aside from the one she sought, she slipped into the building.

Inside was worse than the exterior.

The shadowed corridors lit by little more than occasional pockets of moonlight dredged up flashbacks of recent terrors. She felt her heart begin to race in her chest. The whip marks hidden on her back suddenly burned. Voices and sounds that she did not hear echoed in her ears. For the briefest of moments, the Kingdom's Shadow stood stock still as panic roared through her veins.

But only for a moment.

Kamari quickly reined in her emotions, gripping them tightly and directing them like she had Cedar when they’d raced through the barrels. She had a job to do, and she didn't have time to deal with fears from her past. Even so, her hand brushed over the handle of her knife to reassure her of its presence in the small of her back.

The Shadow stalked through the abandoned hallways, avoiding debris and other hazards as she went. She tracked the scent of the Proctor's ghost, the hunter in her growing more and more restless as the scent grew stronger and stronger until it nearly consumed the area. She found signs of recent activity, and, through the darkness, she spied the unmistakable shape of a Luperci. A piece of rubble softly clicked, breaking the heavy silence, and the body suddenly moved with purpose.

Rising from a cot, she’d found the living dead.

Her eyes were sharp as she stood at the edge of the candle's light; a small, ominous shadow with her body hidden beneath the folds of her tattered-edged cloak.

“That was quite the magic trick you pulled, Andrew Greygrief.”

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · · Character Wiki
Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
  Reply
#3
[+000]
OOC text here.
-----------------



Footsteps. He swore he heard footsteps. Curiously, they seemed purposefully muffled, unlike the heavy and unmasked footfalls he'd grown accustomed to from Boone. Andrew's heart quickened and he instinctively scanned the dark room for anything to arm himself with before realizing he had brought nothing but some spare provisions. He cursed inwardly, silently, lest his whispers of frustration give him away. He thought to snuff the candle, be before he could --

A tickling of panic ran the length of his spine. Her voice was so familiar, but it conjured such an alien fear within Andrew and filled him with dread. He swallowed it back, knowing that a rash act now would ultimately spell his undoing. That is, if it hadn't already come.

Nevertheless, this charade was over.

"Greygrief," Andrew repeated in a thick rasp. "Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time." A dead man's name. One laid to rest long ago.

A defeated sigh followed as Andrew placed the candle back onto the small end table beside his cot. He looked at Kamari with cautious eyes. Old eyes. "Oh Kamari..." He'd always had a feeling it would be her. Resourceful and sharp as a razors edge. It was a shame, after all, knowing where her loyalties lied. Her steadfast service to the Salsolan Crown was known. "You've come to bring me in I presume? To stand for my crimes against crown and kingdom?" There was a certain playfulness to Andrew's voice. The game was over, he supposed. Why not be candid?






~~~
  Reply
#4
(+###)

“I suppose it makes sense if you’re trying to hide your past. Going by the same name would certainly complicate that. What are you called now?”

She had half expected him to let out a howling cry for help at the sight of her. Perhaps he knew that his call would fall on deaf ears beyond that abandoned, human ruin. Perhaps he knew that she would have silenced him before his howl could have finished. Whatever his reason, he didn't call for help, he didn't run, he didn't try to pull a blade on her. He simply sighed as he stared at her shadowy figure. Even with only the dim glow of the candle to light them, his eyes were almost accepting, defeated even.

But, most of all, they were tired.

His words were light, if strained, playful, if bitter. She recognized the signs of someone who realized that the ruse was up. He knew he was cornered, knew that the plan that he had so carefully orchestrated had finally crumbled. Her presence there was the undeniable truth as much. Kamari was a seeker of secrets, and she had discovered one of the larger ones in Salsolan history standing before her in that dark room; the previously deceased Proctor Andrew Greygrief was alive.

He had been murdered the summer prior under suspicious circumstances. Kamari had seen the burnt remains firsthand, and, while she had had many questions, she had been unable to find any answers. The incident, as well as the curious disappearance of the Ambassador to follow soon after, had been quickly buried when the trails ran cold. The Kingdom had not needed another Curse of the Sanctum incident to unnerve its people. The disappearances were kept to whispers, before soon fading away quietly as the pack celebrated the birth of new life and the pack's founding day.

And then she’d found the missing Pontifex—or, rather Pontifex had found her—amongst the coyotes, and, now, she’d the dead Proctor as well.

“And what would those crimes be?” She asked, challenged. Kamari did not move, however, to a trained individual, one could feel the tension in her aura despite her concealing cloak. While she made no move to harm the supposed dead man before her, it was clear that attacking her would be met with swift retaliation.

Her eyes watched him carefully, searching for signs of deceit. “Have you been selling Salsolan secrets to the Infernians and the Gang all this time?” She asked coldly.

While there was little doubt where her loyalty lied, she was not a zealot. Another Salsolan, whose loyalties, perhaps, ran a bit more blue, might have attacked him the moment they confirmed him to be the deceased Proctor. Leaving Salsola was not permitted. Luckily for the man before her, Kamari was one of the few that were less stringent about such Laws. Still, she was a member of the Shield. And she had too many unanswered questions.

“Because I’m sure you understand that this doesn’t look good for you.”

His early days in Salsola had not been pleasant from what she recalled. And, while he had eventually shaken off his shackles as Helena’s servant and risen to unimaginable heights, in the end, he had pulled an elaborate scheme to get him out of the Kingdom. And, now, to find an ex-Infernian having returned to where his splintered packmates had regrouped and remolded from the ashes of their own undoing?

The Shadow was not foolish enough to ignore the possibility that Andrew might have been a spy the entire time.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
Player Wiki · · Character Wiki
Avatar art by Alaine · Sig art by Despi
  Reply
#5
[+000]
OOC text here.
-----------------



It was to be expected that Kamari would craft a predictable narrative such as this, false as it may have been. Andrew would have thought it almost amusing, almost, knowing that the crown would twist the details in a way that suited them and their ironclad grip upon the Thistle Kingdom. Truly, what was truth in a kingdom built on lies?

Secrets, so closely guarded, and for what? Posterity? Andrew leaned back against the cool concrete wall and held his world weary gaze upon the Emissary.

"Winthrop," he answered hoarsely. "Just Andrew Winthrop -- the name my mother gave me." Here, he had no mask to hide behind. No rank or status. No persona to live up to. He was free. He was real. He was unlike anything he had ever been under the thumb of the Salsolan crown.

"I suppose it's funny," Andrew went on. "The importance we placed on names." He shook his head in embarrassment. "Greygrief." He let the name linger on his tongue, twinged with an inkling of disgust. "Sounds strong, doesn't it? Assertive. Indomitable." He raised an inquisitive brow, recalling how concerned he and Narcissa had been with public perception. A noble house constructed on a sea of shifting sands could not stand forever.

A pause followed as Andrew stifled a ragged chuckle. "A wet fart in the wind." Noise. Utterly meaningless and full of hot air. "It's a mask. One I wore for a long time to hide the small, scared man I was -- but, tell me Emissary. Are you still wearing yours?"

Slowly, with hands exposed for Kamari to see, he produced a cigarette from the cot-side table. "May I?" He asked. Though, he hardly waited for a reply before wedging it between his lips and leaning over the candle to draw from its flame. "After all, it may very well be my last," he mused aloud through slack lips.

He breathed deep, lungs filling with smoke and resolve. "So, take a look then. See the Lord Greygrief for what he is when all pretense is finally stripped away." The scent of burning tobacco marred the air between them.

Yet still, there was that pesky narrative to dispute. "My crimes," Andrew went on to answer, pulling the cigarette away from parted lips. "Too many to count, I'm afraid. As the former Proctor, I would certainly know, wouldn't I?" Surely, by now she knew of his and Helena's treachery -- or perhaps the crown had buried that truth along with the body of trader dressed in the proctor's clothes. "But alas -- I am not, nor have ever been, your spy. I have no desire -- or rather -- no need, to indulge the coyote clan with what I know of Salsola. Not now, or ever -- should we remain at a distant peace, of course."

After all, leverage was hard earned. Only a fool gave it away without reason.

"However --" Another drag followed . "I can understand that my word has little value at this point, but perhaps if you allowed me to further explain..."

Andrew's voice trailed off and he sought Kamari's gaze in earnest.

~~~
  Reply
#6
(+###)
So, he had returned to being who he was before he had been fixed in a betrothal to Ankh’s daughter. How interesting. She’d thought that he might have created yet a new alias for himself, to make himself untraceable back to the Kingdom he had run from. A new name for a new life. However, from the sound of it, he had merely returned to his truest self.

Kamari remained silent as he went on. It was clear to her that he had no fondness for the Greygrief House that he’d created with Narcissa. Given the circumstances of their union, she didn’t blame him. Instead of bucking against their society’s expectations though, he’d bowed his head to them. He’d accepted the betrothal, had even sired pups with a wife he had never asked for. He’d created a new image for himself once he had taken on the role of the Greygrief patriarch, an image that had apparently been as fake as the aliases every Salsolan wore when they left the Kingdom.

“I have always been honest to myself,” Kamari replied with a sharp exhale. She had been the daughter of a Fell House, and had bore the name of a freed slave. But she had never forsaken who she was. She had refused to be the obedient, conforming pawn of a Highborn’s game beyond accepting Krios as her mate. In that, she had never worn a mask despite the many that she had.

He was smart to not make any sudden movements in that dimly-lit room, however, even so, she watched him with a cautious eye on the off chance it was all a ruse. Her tall ears remained alert, listening for any hint of an ambush that he might have tried to distract her from. Kamari was well beyond the marked border for outsiders, after all, and she had little desire to relive her experiences from earlier in the summer season. The building was silent around them though, and the echoes of the nightlife beyond its cold, fragmented walls had been muffled to a droning whisper.

In the end, his rhetorical question was answered with an uncaring shift in her sharp gaze. Her thoughts were less concerned with him smoking than they were with his cryptic sarcasm. He bid her to look at him, and look she did. He looked old, worn, and tired despite his freedom from Salsola. He looked the exact opposite of Pontifex, who had looked healthy, happy, and comfortable with her new home more than she ever had within the trap-lined borders of the Thistle Kingdom. “You look like shit,” she grunted. Though, perhaps it was fitting for a supposed dead man. He’d been more lively looking even as a Serf. “Like you've been running for a very long time.”

Had this been the freedom he had wanted?

Their conversation eventually found its way back to her question, and his answer caused her to tilt her head slightly to indicate interest. He claimed that he wasn’t a coyote spy.

Salsola had gone to war with Inferni and had brought the proud coyote Clan to its knees. Andrew had been forced into Salsolan servitude by Helena, and he had been tortured by Crone Loki. From the beginning, he had had every right to hate the Kingdom. But here he claimed that he had not shared Salsolan secrets, nor had the intention to ever do so—barring war—despite having run back to the reborn Clan.

And yet he felt that he might die that night, and had plead guilty of still-unspoken crimes that would have warranted her being there.

When his hollowed eyes met her, he expressed the desire to prove that his word was not that of an honor-less Infernian, and her eyes glinted in the flicker of the candle’s light. “Then see this as your trial, and explain yourself.” She granted his request, however, her words were spoken with a frigid neutrality as they cut through the tension of the room. “And pray that I do not catch you in a lie.”

Kamari had always been one to act on facts and truths. For every kill she’d made in the name of the Thistle Kingdom, for every threat she had removed for the sake of protecting those that shared her same allegiance, she had always done her due-diligence before she’d ever brought her blade to their throat. She was no black-hearted, gleeful murderer.

If he had evidence or secrets he wished to divulge, to explain why he’d gone through such drastic measures to fake his own death, to explain why he was with the Gang and looking worse than she had ever seen him, to explain why she should believe him when he said that he would not make himself a threat to Salsola, he had best do so with an honest tongue. Such an opportunity might have not been granted by another Salsolan, but Kamari would not be made a fool either.

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


Forum Jump: