[P] [m] and their cloaks of justice are only cloaks after all

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: for blood and potential violence.

They patrolled together in companionable silence. Every once in a while, Brocade would check over his shoulder to assure that Tattersall still followed. The yearling was never far behind, his large ears trained carefully upon the route they travelled. On horseback they covered ground quickly, pausing every so often to discuss a strange break in the trail or the print of some wild creature. Out here they were more than Father and Son – they were professionals, experts of their calling.

Brocade shook out the thick fur around his neck and paused, flaring his nostrils as the wind began to change.

Amherst was a jumble of twisted metal and concrete. Their horses would snort at the unfamiliarity, tossing their heads Brocade lead them through what had once been a main thoroughfare. Summer had caused the greenery of the small township to flourish, and it seemed that every square inch of space had been covered in swaths of fresh green.

It made the entire place seem as if it was alive, each switch in the breeze forcing leaves to rustle and sing.

At one point Brocade dropped from Tonnerres back to lead him around a row of abandoned cars – metal beasts that no longer served a purpose, their metal frames discarded like skeletons in asphalt meadows.

Amherst was an excellent hiding place.

”It’s important to maintain a presence here,” Brocade lectured, ”As you can see, it’s a good place for anyone-“

Further afield – past swinging trees and broken windows – a dark curl of smoke hung on the air like a summons.

He growled softly, "- to hide."

(///) | NPCs:
For Tate!

This is the camp that they are going to find - feel free to PP!
It was one thing to train with his father – it was another to go out with him on a scouting expedition beyond the borders.

They looked alike, though dimly, as they road through the forest. Both men had similar horses and similar scents, and while Tattersall's bold colors had come from his mother, he shared quite a bit with his scarred father. The latter was dressed for the weather and for the potential dangers that lay ahead, while Tattersall had only a simple leather tabard and short riding pants. The quality of these items was dwarfed by the elaborately tooled belt he wore, though Tate had only had a single dagger with him. Though he trained with a variety of weapons, and favored the shield-and-spear combination, he had neither with him today.

His job was not to fight – he was here to look, to learn, and to follow.

Tate was pleased with how things had gone so far. Nothing extraordinary had happened. The ruined, overgrown buildings seemed devoid of life beyond an occasional cat or noisy bird. He would have been glad to enjoy the rest of the day without incident, and gone home to a quiet night.

Despite this, when they came across the smell of smoke, Tattersall prepared himself for a conflict. He pulled his horse to a stop alongside the larger one.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked his father.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
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The smoke beckoned like a curled finger, and Brocade growled softly as he considered their options. Though his son had trained for most of his life (a fact that the Director looked upon proudly) he had yet to face true combat. The two sides of him battled for a moment – to put his son into danger made his heart twist in his chest, but the soldier in him understood that it was a rite of passage. He made a humming sound and twisted in his saddle, ”We get as close as we can – we’ll tie off the horses nearby and go in on foot.”

He flared his nostrils for a final time before nodding. Brocade kicked his heels to Tonnerres sides and together they trotted to a protected area where they could leave the animals behind.

Brocade looped the reigns of his horse through a nearby tree, and then attached Tattersalls horse to the older animal. He said nothing as he checked his saddle bags and adjusted his armor – checking over the ties that held the leather in place over his tunic. He slid a short spear from the horses back and hefted it in his hand as he waited for Tattersall to gather whatever he needed.

”Ready?” Brocade thumped his sons soldier before the pair set off through the woods. Brocade kept his steps light, his gaze trained on their surroundings as they picked their way towards the plume of smoke. Every so often the pair would pause to listen, and Brocade would gesture to a break in the trees. There was evidence of a struggle leaves had been crushed under foot; branches left hanging in nearby brush.

"Hmph." Brocade grunted, dropping to one knee to lift and smell a handful of debris. "This smells old."

(///) | NPCs: n/a
In the ring, he favored a shield and spear. This was the best way to balance both defense and offense, though it forced him to account for extra weight. He was a fit, relatively tall young man even if he lacked the bulk of his wolfish father. Training would help with that. Eating more, working himself harder, all of these things might give him the edge he needed.

He could not rely on one weapon. When it came to riding on horseback, he certainly wanted the protection a shield might offer – but he wasn't confident enough to ride without both his hands free, and the sort of sneak-and-trail work his superiors often asked him to perform required things that could be hidden. The dagger and the club he had borrowed from the War Room would help him if they ran into any trouble.

Besides, his father was armed. If there was a thread, Brocade would handle it like he always did. Tate would just be there to back him up.

He trailed after the older male cautiously. Moving without being heard was a difficult trick, but it was one of the earliest he had been taught. As long as he watched where he stepped and where he was going, and didn't move too quickly, he'd be able to travel about unheard and unseen.

Tate lowered his nose towards his father's findings. Plants released smells when they were torn. What remained in these was dry-brown and crumbling. When he briefly dropped to all fours to get closer to the ground, the adolescent took in some other clues – which he followed deeper into the clearing, where bent grass and weedy flowers had been bent into odd angles.

“They went through here,” he said, lowering his voice. The forest here was thick, but openings like this were ideal places for an ambush.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v2.png] | Player Wiki

They crouched together as they collected what few clues they could. The scent trail was stale, and Tattersall took a moment before pointing through a break he had discovered in the trees. ”Good eye.” He stood, one ear carefully fanning as he ducked and set off down the already used trail. ”Let’s go.” He paused a moment and held up his hand as if to assure that his son paid him due focus.

”If I tell you to run, you run. Understood?” He gestured at himself, ”Out here I am your Captain first.”

One day, he knew that Tate would run his own mission. Until then, he was Brocade's responsibility when out in the field.

Without waiting for a response, he turned and stalked off down the path, pausing every so often to listen to the way the forest went still around them. There was no squalling birds, no rapid chitter of a squirrel. Everything around them was silent, save for the careful trail they cut towards the wisp of smoke.

When they finally emerged into the small clearing Brocade couldn't help the growl that slipped through his teeth.

It was a rudimentary camp; a sagging tent aimed towards a small fire which burped now pale smoke into the air. A cooking pot leaned against what would have once been a roaring flame, and a sweater (or a cloak?) hung from a broken tree branch as if to dry. Towards the edge of what had been cleared of brush and debris were long marks in the soil, and beyond that... a trail of blood which lead into the trees.

Brocade flared his nostrils a final time before allowing the fur along his shoulders to relax. His stance changed as the silence of the place grew - there was no one here. He and Tate were alone to investigate what had happened.

(///) | NPCs: n/a
The hand signal brought Tate to a near-comical stop. He had spent all of his young life preparing for duty in the field. While there had not been war for many years, it had existed in recent memory. As all things cycled, reason suggested that conflict would come again. Their history echoed these warnings. Each of his teachers had reinforced the idea of superiority in one's own self. Failure could risk every one of them.

Tattersall nodded curtly. “Yes, sir.”

If he ran, it would be back to Salsola. He would be responsible for finding aid and bringing help back to the Director. He had been given a horse to help him run and fight. That they would come across such danger seemed like a distant possibility, but the hollow was still and the air felt strange.
They walked as they had in the past – a boy following his father – but with new energy. He was emboldened by the elder soldier's presence. This wasn't simply his father, but the only Capo. All but the Mafiosi fell beneath Brocade Valentine's command.

What they found was not a bandit camp, but the sad remains of something more docile. A hunter, perhaps, or a traveler who had come west after a long night at La Estrella Roja (a place he had yet to go inside of). Maybe it was someone looking for them, even, the way some merchants did.

He didn't see any tracks to suggest a horse. Footsteps, certainly, and a place where something heavy had pressed down the grass. There was a damp smell coming from the tent, and the ashes in the firepit had leaked outward, as if water had been spilled on them.

The blood trail was old too, and did not smell as strongly as it had when fresh. It had a metallic-earthy smell, one which was harder to pick out in the thicket.

Death-smell, on the other hand, came like a thunderclap.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v2.png] | Player Wiki

Brocade pointed to the flattened grass, still moist from a dewy morning. ”Looks like there was a struggle-“ His brows knit as he tried to follow the markings left on the ground. There were scratches and twists, and much of the debris that littered the forest floor had been brushed aside to reveal fresh dirt underneath. He grunted until he found the first drop of blood, and then glanced up towards the tent.


The scent in the clearing was horrible the longer they stayed. The tent winced in the breeze and Brocade took a deep breath. The canvas sagged as if it was on its last legs. Blood splattered the side as if someone had been struck, and a visible handprint slid down the surface – the once vibrantly red mark now a sullied and aged brown.

The Director knew what would happen when he opened the tent, but he had to. He pulled the hanging flaps carefully, fully prepared for the stench that would rock out into the open. Even with preparation it still hit him like a bag of bricks, though he did his best not to heave in front of his son. Inside, the tent buzzed with flies, and Brocade could make out a figure who lay prone with the silhouette of a dagger protruding from the centre of its chest.

"Looks like there's a another blood trail here." This one moved away from the tent and out towards the shadowy wood.

(///) | NPCs: n/a
It was the first dead body he had ever seen.

He was certain that Silas had killed the strange Outsider who had harassed himself and Azalea when they were children, but had fled as instructed and not seen the end of things. This was different: this was a corpse which had been left for a few days. Not long enough for the worst of its decay to occur, though the little tells of scuffs and scrape marks suggested other scavengers may have rooted around the place.

The knife in the body's chest had been left behind. Tattersall couldn't understand why.

He thought to ask his father, but Brocade had found more signs of the conflict in the forest. Obedient and terribly hyper-vigilant, the adolescent stuck close to the older Luperci and followed him deeper into the thicket. They spooked noisy birds as they passed, but this suggested that there had been no disturbance in the area long before their arrival.

Were things always so brutal and violent out here? He had never gotten into a real conflict. If there was danger ahead, Brocade would determine how to proceed. As long as Tate did what his father – his Captain – ordered, any unknown threat could be vanquished.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v2.png] | Player Wiki

Perhaps it was a lovers quarrel? A robbery gone wrong? Brocade could imagine someone in over their head, as evidenced by the abrupt trail of blood and the dagger left abandoned. Brocade watched his son closely for any sign of nausea or uncertainty. Unfortunately, as a member of The Shield death became familiar.

”You alright?”

He placed a hand against his sons shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze before carrying on.

”Someone likely snuck up on them during the night. Got tangled in the edges of the tent and panicked.” He growled softly, ”Should you ever choose to attack –“ The thought bade him pause before he continued, ”You watch first. Watch as long as you can should the situation allow.” He huffed softly, suddenly stopping to brush leaves aside to reveal another set of tracks.

”In Ame-Rouge,” He stood again, scanning the trees before turning back to his son. ”There were often scuffles like this. Territory was hard to come by and so we fought for it with tooth and claw at every opportunity. Camping along was a dangerous choice for whoever this was.” He ran his scarred hands through his hair before blowing a breath through his lips.

”You think there’s anything worth scavenging?”

(///) | NPCs: n/a
[+ 3]

The weight of Brocade's hand grounded Tattersall. He exhaled and pushed past the gore that lay before them. These people, whoever they were, could not return from the dead to cause them harm.

His father had talked about his homeland before. Ame-Rouge was a strange, far-away place which seemed dominated by violence and societal demands. This latter feeling was more familiar to Tattersall, who had grown up keenly aware of what Salsola, his parents, and his peers expected of him. It could not stand for him to be idle or otherwise fail in his duties. He'd be no better than the corpses spread out before them now.

Tattersall reformed the image of the murder scene in his mind, but dismissed it when they came across the trail. He could see the marks clearly. Luperci tracks were big and obvious the way those left by deer and horses were. Whoever had left these was large enough to imprint the earth – someone smaller and lightweight wouldn't sink so deeply into the earth.

Given the state of the bodies, and the presence of blood, the event must have occurred recently. Days ago, Tattersall thought. Hours. He had no real concept of death in the physical, and now that he had, it seemed somehow unlike what he had expected.

Brocade didn't act like they were in danger, and this reassured Tate it was all right to speak.

The question his father asked felt like a trap. Was there something in the tent he was supposed to see? How important was it for him to think about loot when faced with the remains of an Outsider or an enemy?

After a brief pause, Tattersall answered: “The knife.”

Weapons were valuable. The fact it had been left behind suggested that things had gone wrong from the start.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
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The putrid stench hung about the clearing like a cloud. Brocade made a final sweep before returning to the tent, his scarred face caught up in Tattersall's thoughtful expression. The camp site did not have much to sort through, save for the blade which protruded so obviously through the body. Brocade grunted his response, "We'll take it." He leaned down to pull the flap up so that Tattersall could gather up the knife, "A spoil of war."

He chuckled, dropping to a squat to enter the tent following his son.

Inside he pressed his nose to his elbow in an effort to control the scent as he used his free hand to rifle through the layers of clothing on either side of the body. It was reminscent of the work completed in Ame Rouge - where deals were cut throat and nothing useful was left behind. Not so long ago in Salsola's history bodys like this had been left along their borders with coins hidden in their mouths.

Brocade growled softly as he patted the deceased pockets, his eyes widening as something slipped from his hand and landed with a thunk at their feet.

He took a deep breath through his mouth and bent to collect it.

"A key?" He canted his head, "Whatever its for must be long gone."

Outside the air was fresh and clean.

(///) | NPCs: n/a
His father did not seem bothered by the corpse, nor the gruesome task which he left to his son. Tattersall held his breath as he leaned into the tent. After a few days, the body within had begun to decompose – it stunk of this, and of the gasses still trapped inside. There were other, equally putrid smells, like waste and old blood. He couldn't escape the scents, but he could steel himself against them.

Still, the act felt strange.

In his hand, the killing weapon felt solid and firm. Part of this was due to how deeply it had been driven into the dead man.
Tate yanked it free and hurried to step back into the clean air. There was blood and gore on the blade, and he excused himself to clean this in the nearby grass. It was hard to imagine that the knife, for as small as it seemed, had been what killed the man. Weapons were made for killing, though. He had always been told this, long before he started handling them, so that he did not forget the truth of their purpose.

He tried to imagine stabbing someone in the back. His hand tightened around the handle of the dagger.

When he turned back to his father, the Director was pocketing the treasure he had found. With the knife still in his hand, Tate stood there and considered what they had found.

“Should we go get the horses?” He asked, no longer certain he wanted to be around the dead bodies and their ruined camp.
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v2.png] | Player Wiki

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