[P] Its hard to keep the rainclouds out
#1
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



He hadn't been back since the ruin -- all fire and smoke and the chorus of screams.

"You can't hardly even tell anymore, huh?"

But Percival could tell. No amount of time and distance could erase the laughter and warmth and love he remembered that these charred, overgrown structures had held. Nor allow him to forget the chaos and fear and grief of the night that they were set alight. Standing at the sandy shore of Sister Lake, Percival scanned the blackened, dilapidated cottages and cabins that used to be Fiskebyn and felt as though he was standing at a gravesite.

"That it used to be a village or that it was burned to the ground?" he replied, more sharply than intended. His cousin flinched and, closing his eyes, the High Lord of Dawn breathed in fully. "Sorry," he sighed. "Let's just keep going."

The trip had mostly been for the benefit of Reblin, who Percival and Inara had taken back home with them only a couple of months ago after discovering him in Charmingtown. A bonafide alcoholic who had made more than a few questionable choices in his life, setting his elder cousin back on the straight and narrow path was proving harder than anticipated. He thought that maybe some time on the trails, just the two of them, could help.

Visiting Krokar, however, was strictly Reblin's idea.

"Hey, wait! Perce!" Reblin uffed softly, the fur along his back bristling. "I think someone's there..."

Holding the brindled ox with a tug of his halter, Percy narrowed his eyes at the open space all around them and sniffed at the familiar, beautiful, tragic air of Fiskebyn.



[WC -- 280]

#2
Two kinds of pain coursed through the old man as he quietly wandered through the ruins of his home. His joints argued, but he protested their anger. His heart ached, and he let it, as he had no way to soothe it. It was something he’d need to endure until it subsided, and it wasn’t a fresh hurt either. This was as old as the blackened wood made by the fires that once torched a beloved place. Arthritis-ridden free hand gently brushed against buildings, occasionally hovering over a thing here and there that evoked memories of the smiles Aenan shared in the happiness he once had where Krokar once stood. The other gripped his spear, to help keep him walking. Shiras was left to remain silent as his father wandered through the ruins.

The son was expecting more to the territory, from how fondly and how often his father spoke of it. All he saw were the burned bones, but he knew the gravity they held by his father’s reaction alone. Aenan was a man who told stories and passed on knowledge freely. Here he was silent, the only sound he made were whispers and hushed utterances, far too soft for the younger Pyr to pick up. Shiras didn’t pry, he could see and sense his father’s sorrow and figured the old man would share if need be.

And it was only quiet grief that passed Aenans lips as he stepped through the ruins in a near trance-like state. Memories danced in his mind, and though they were good, the bitter part of the sweet was that he could never experience them again. New happinesses had happened to him, ones locked tight in his mind. Rounding one of the houses, age-gnarled hand pressed to it as he muttered something about a woman he knew his eyes were captured by something that stirred in all the stillness, and he froze.

Shiras noticed his father’s sudden stop and rounded the corner cautiously, upon noticing others his hackles rose and a hand went to a knife on his belt. Eyes darted from the strangers to his father, unsure of what to do and perplexed by his father’s lack of fear.

“You,” Aenan said, finally breaking his silence. “I know you,” he stated as he began to walk towards his former packmate. He was not phased by the animals, nor the presence of a stranger. Entirely fixated on a face from his past, he moved forward, forgetting about his limp as his tail wagged behind him. “I know you, we—” the old man paused briefly, eyes searching the boy’s features. “We lived here. I remember when you were a puppy.” He seemed beside himself with joy, speaking thoughts as they entered his mind. He felt around his pockets and waist, and made a slightly sour face when he couldn't find anything edible. “I’m sorry, I don’t have any snacks for you or your friend.”
#3
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



The man who appeared looked as old and dilapidated, as the ancient buildings scattered throughout the Ruins of Tog. The High Lord of Dawn narrowed his eyes and studied the greying face of the old man before him. Crooked and weathered now in a way that the younger man did not remember, Percival found that he still recognized him.

Still bristling, Reblin padded stiffly toward his cousin and froze uncertainly when a second figure appeared from around the corner of the blackened cabin. His pale eyes locked onto the other man -- younger than the first but similarly marked in a way that suggested kinship. When his hands shifted to his belt, Reblin bared his teeth.

The old man's voice broke the silence not a moment too soon.

Percival remained where he stood and allowed the man to approach him. In hindsight, he would have helped to bridge the distance between them. But his mind was slow to react, stymied by a thick mire of memories from another lifetime. Almost hesitantly, Percy began to mirror the older man's tail wag, its confidence gaining strength the more the man neared. There was unmistaken evidence of genuine happiness on the man's face and the scruffy Parhelion at last brought a smile to his face.

Either because he was being held back and wanted his head or perhaps because he, too, recognized the old wolfdog, Pim nudged his big, wet nose against his halter and lowed.

Blinking away his thoughts, Percival gave the ox his head and waved off the man's apology.

"Thank you, but there's no need for apologies," he said pleasantly, pausing a moment to sift through his memories. The man's name, however, refused to surface. "I recognize you- I know I know you, but your name... I'm afraid I can't remember your name," Percival admitted apologetically, lowering his ears and glancing away. "Percival Parhelion." He touched his chest with the flat of his hand. "This is my cousin, Reblin, and the ox is Pim. He came from here, too. Krokar."

The sound of their beloved, ruined pack on his tongue was filled with longing and bitterness.

His eyes still on the younger stranger, Reblin glanced up only briefly when his name was uttered before looking back at the other man. Although his teeth were no longer bared, his body remained ridged as he seemingly waited for either the tension to abate or an attack to be launched.



[WC -- 414]
OOC: omg Aenan T^T i love him so much, trying to offer treats to the youngsters like the kindhearted old man that he is
#4
The whispers of the past became a chorus. Faces and names, familiar and known. Even Pim. Was it kismet, for he to return to his home, only to find a remnant. Another Krokaran cast to the wind amidst ash and embers. Those fires had stoked an anger that burned furiously, but time and age quelled Aenan's spite. He looked back at his life in Krokar with wistful fondness, though he tried to not dwell on the end.

"Aenan Pyr," he introduced himself. It was okay that that youngster didn't know who he was, the fisherman had lead a very quiet life in the pack. "My son Shiras is with me," he explained, waving over the younger Pyr. The man approached, staying his knife hand. Shiras was almost the spitting image of Aenan, more ruddier in places, and certainly less touched by age. Still, he had a touch of grey, a telltale sign of age. "He was born far away in my home pack," the elder explained, hoping to shoo away any confusion. The Pyr son was the result of a puppy crush carried into adulthood.

Shiras offered a nod and a hello to the two, and tossed a sly wink towards Reblin. "I ventured way back west after everything," Aenan explained, gesturing to their burned village. "Found a whole litter of my own that I never knew about," the old fisherman's voice was softer than normal, there was a tinge of regret there. "What about you, Percival? What have you found since we departed?"
#5
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



"Aenan," Percival repeated back to himself, nodding firmly. He knew that name, but only just. There were few other memories, aside from quiet and comfort, that the man's name aroused. "Yes, I remember now."

Of the man's son, however, the Parhelion recalled nothing. He looked from Aenan to the younger man, furrowing his brows in thought as he tried to evoke memories that did not exist. Perhaps the elder Pyr recognized Percival's confusion, or understood on his own that more information was necessary, but the scruffy Caledonian appreciated the clarification.

"Ah," he uttered with sudden understanding. Then, to Aenan's son: "It's good to meet you, Shiras."

As the initial tension began to ease and introductions were made, Reblin slowly began to relax, his hackles laying flat against his spine once more. But it was Shiras' wink that allowed the wolfdog to fully ease. He gave his piebald pelt a hearty shake and sat down with a jerk of his chin -- a gesture meant to convey acknowledgement of the man's greeting and also their unspoken understanding that they were not enemies.

"Holy shit, really?" Reblin remarked with amusement, looking up at Aenan. "So, what, you just went home and became insta-Dad? I bet that was a wild surprise!"

Percival puffed out a sigh and offered Aenan an apologetic look. Reblin was well-meaning, but it was becoming abundantly clear that his dear cousin did not understand the meaning of tact or diplomacy.

"Its easy to forget sometimes that the ripples we leave behind carry on long after the stone is thrown," he told Aenan warmly, pausing a beat to offer him a kind smile before breathing in deeply. "After the fall, my mother and immediate family lived together in the Chokehold. We call ourselves The Shoal and we survived for a time, but life was difficult. In the end, Inara and my sisters and I left our family unit and helped found a pack called New Caledonia." He glanced beyond Aenan and Shiras in the direction he thought the Realm lay. "That's where I -- and Reblin now, too -- currently reside. It's a strong, wealthy pack lead by the High King Iomair."

Flicking his eyes back upon Aenan, the High Lord of Dawn smiled. "There's plenty of good fishing. You might like it there."



[WC -- 392]

#6
Shiras seemed more annoyed at Reblin's outburst of questions than Aenan did. The old man was struck a bit where it stung. Thankfully Shiras was not hot-headed and knew when to fight his father's battles, and when tonlet Aenan speak. "I was happy to find family I never knew I had," he told Reblin. "At the same time in had to deal with the guilt that I wasn't there to raise them, teach them, and see them go on to make their own families," he continued.  Aenan did regret that he was not there for them for their first everythings. He was absent for their entire existence, he missed their first loves, he wasn't there to chase away nocturnal fears. "Only Shiras was willing to get to know me, regardless, I'm content in knowing my parents raised them. I suppose their presence healed the wound I gave my parents when I left so long ago."

Hoping Reblin was confident that he had opened a can of worms he probably wasn't ready for, Aenan turned his attention to Percival. "I'm glad your family was able to stick together. Without family, it feels like the world is empty," the old man lamented, knowing that emptiness all too well. Thankfully he was fairly firm in the belief he'd never be alone again, still he worried and wished she could be with his wife and youngest children soon. "Founding a pack though? That's quite the feat, I'm very proud of you."

"Good fishing you say? Is it far?" Shiras chimed in. Aenan gave his boy a glance. "We've been doing well on our own, but we're waiting on my brother and sister and my dad's wife to show up."

"My wife is tending to our pups some ways out west," Aenan explained. "My youngest son was injured on the way here. He's currently recovering." Aenan let out a small sigh. "I'd be happy to be among my kin again," he said nodding to Percival with a quiet smile. "If you'd allow my family to join that is. We'll be searching for a home once they arrive."
#7
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



Before Reblin could get in another word and, more likely than not, taint the Pyrs' impression of him further, Percival passed his cousin a harsh and deeply disappointed glower. Percy was beginning to wonder if his cousin's lack of social awareness and inability to speak with tact wasn't worse than his blatant alcoholism.

"I must apologize for my cousin," he said with deference. "I'm sure he meant no disrespect."

But it was heartening to hear that, whatever the cost, Aenan was able to meet and make some connection to the family he never realized that he had. Percival listened and nodded respectfully, glancing approvingly at Shiras when the man's honorable qualities were revealed. The High Lord liked to think that he would behave accordingly, though his history with is own father had already suggested otherwise.

"Yes, there is certainly truth in that sentiment," Percy agreed with a polite smile. His thoughts about his family living abroad came less and less frequently, however. Still, he was lucky to have so many of his family still with him in the Realm.

Flicking his nutmeg eyes to Shiras, the High Lord's severe eyebrows softened and he gave his tail a gentle wag. Between the River Valley and the Sword Coast, there was no a shortage of decent fishing spots. But it was the thought that he might share these waters with another fellow Krokaran that brought mirth to Percival's face. That they should find one another again among the charred bones of their old village seemed nothing short of the River Goddess' will.

"We would be very happy to have you, Aenan. I would be glad to vouch for you and your family should the High King or our Isiltári ask," he said proudly. "New Caledonia is Northeast of here, beyond the mountains and hugging the coastline. Only about two days' travel, if you take your time." He paused a beat to regard both of them with measured enthusiasm. "Will you be waiting here for the rest of your family?"



[WC -- 344]

#8
The old man’s family remained quite far away, but hopefully they’d arrive soon, especially now that they knew of a surefire place for Aenan to spend his twilight years. There would be no worry of being a burden to his wife and kids, as the pack could help them. There’d be less worry over his health, as they would surely have healers there. It was the best bet for everyone, though the old fisherman had once thought he was still invincible. Alas, age showed its teeth far faster than he believed it would, and when he began to think it wouldn’t be as bad, reuniting with his father did it away entirely.

Deaf and blind, Martin was living the remainder of his life in darkness and silence. Aenan wouldn’t want his wife’s time to be taken up entirely by him, should he suffer the same fate as his dad. “Not here, but yes.” Shiras informed Percival. “We initially planned to leave together, but my brother was injured, so we brought him to an old friend of my father’s to be healed.” The younger Pyr explained.

“I got impatient, and convinced my wife that a fully-repaired home with working hearth and ample stores would be best for our boy. Shiras volunteered to go with me,” Aenan picked up the telling. “Our camp is a way’s south and east from here, past the Miramichi and well into the valley. I began its construction shortly after everyone departed after the fire.” It was a sturdy structure, at least the weaved fence around it was. Fence making became Aenan’s hobby after Krokar became ash, it was a good mind-keeper, and helped him feel safer. He had lost the safety of a pack after all. Now it looked like he’d be gaining it again, and the company of an old friend.

Friend. Though he and Percival hadn’t interacted much in the past, save for a few words here and there, and a tossed fishy snack every now and again; the man felt like a friend to him. Like kin. He hoped his fellow Krokaran felt the same. He extended a gnarled hand out to shake, to seal the deal and agree. “Once they arrive, we’ll come to your pack. You may need to vouch pretty hard though, as my daughter gets into trouble quite a bit.” He spoke fondly of the girl, clearly the disparaging remark was all in jest, though it probably held a bit of truth. Especially when it got a snort out of Shiras.
#9
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



Percival nodded, the brevity and firmness of it suggesting satisfaction and approval. He thought that it would feel eerie and discomforting to rest among the carnage of Fiskebyn's village homes, where friends had died and a society ruined. Even to visit this place now, so many years later, left him feeling decidedly somber and unsettled. He wondered if Fiskebyn's ghost would ever find rest.

"That sounds more comforting," he commented with a polite smile, trying to sound lighter than he felt. "You are welcome any time, should you decide to come to New Caledonia sooner."

At the idea that Aenan's daughter would need a considerable amount of vouching, Reblin gave his tail a jolly wag and drew his lips back in a grin that made his tongue loll out of his mouth. To his cousin, no doubt, a troublemaking wild child sounded much more interesting than a polite and obedient youth who preferred not to take chances. But Percival, too, allowed a more natural smile to touch his lips.

"There are plenty of parents and other responsible adults within the Realm that will assuredly help to keep her out of too much trouble," he reassured the elder Pyr, his eyes brightening just a touch.

"Yeah, no exaggeration there," Reblin chimed in ruefully.

Percy uttered a thoughtful hum and allowed their words to hang in the air between the two parties for a beat longer. Pim, who had made himself comfortable in a patch of sun to chew his cud, got to his hooves again and began to graze.



[WC -- 261]

#10
What happened to Krokar was a shame. Set ablaze in the name of a god who seemed to only take. Though she took, every version of the Water Goddess that Aenan had encountered through the various beliefs of people he had met did take as well, but she always gave too. She provided food, travel, and hydration. Two vital things, and one that was very useful. To destroy something prosperous and wonderful was awful. Despite his attachment to the place, it was best to leave the blackened ruins abandoned. Wounds have healed in the two, though Aenan carried a scar from their fiery eviction, he was sure Percival did too. Why else does one go to a grave anyway? To mourn, to remember, to try to soothe the painful wound left behind.

Krokar was great, and Aenan hoped a future in New Caledonia would be just as grand, if not better. Having plenty of others to watch his youngsters brought comfort to the man. He could do it, but those beasts were just too full of energy to keep up. If Alena fell ill, they’d need someone’s help. “I’m glad,” Aenan said with a smile. “I’m sure we’ll need help sometime.” It was just a matter of time, and his family would be reunited, and they’d have a destination too. Should the old fisherman leave sooner, then perhaps they’d have a home as well. “She is a good girl, just likes to learn things a little too much,” he tried to assure. “Eventually I believe she’ll learn the hard way well enough to figure out she shouldn’t go poking around where she shouldn’t.”

Adventurous for sure, but Aenan had noticed a caution in her methods before he left. Perhaps Susan had already learned? It hurt him a little bit, that he didn’t know. It also hurt that his kids were far away. The ones in Marquette had grown up without him. Jacques and Susan wouldn’t endure that, but time spent away from them was not time well spent. A somber expression climbed his countenance and took over. “I hope they come soon,” he said with a sigh.

Time was not on his side anymore, he wasn’t young like he was when he first arrived. Aenan was old now, enfeebled by age. One day he wouldn’t wake up, and he knew that. When his children were around he accepted that. Now that they were no longer at arm’s length, he was not content with his mortality. “Maybe I’ll send Shiras to fetch them, do you have skilled healers in New Caledonia?” Aenan mused, though this prompted a worried expression from the Pyr son. Shiras, however did not voice any worry there. “Jacques may need one to check on how his wound is healing.”
#11
Location: The Charred Village (River of Fire) || NPCs: Reblin (in Lupus), Pim (ox) || Form: Optime



"If there's a craft she's especially interested in, she may have luck finding someone in the Realm to apprentice under," he suggested thoughtfully, watching Pim as he grazed. With another blink, his eyes were back on Aenan. "We have a number of practitioners in various trades who may be willing to take on a new student. She certainly won't be at a loss for new skills to learn, at any rate."

They were a wealthy pack in a host of different ways, but Percival was proudest of those among them who excelled at their respective vocations. He thought of their current Guilds and of the one that they had lost. Establishing Limthoron with Daisy and Willow had been a source of fulfillment for the High Lord and its disbandment not only soured that, but it also marked his half-sister's departure from New Caledonia and, quite effectively, his life.

It was profound, how many little griefs made up one's life.

"We do," Percy assured him confidently. "Two of them, in fact. Brothers. I would trust them with my own life." Thankfully, he had never needed to, but he knew the Songthorn brothers to be a respectable pair. The aftermath of Inara's ordeal had shown him as much. "May I ask what happened to your son?"



[WC -- 221]
OOC: Since this is a bit older and Aenan is in NC now, we could start to wrap this up by OOCly assuming that they carry on their conversation, perhaps even sharing a camp together somewhere nearby, if you'd like! c:


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