[P] you're not made for my darkness
#1
It was coming together; piece by delicate piece. Vodeva hummed softly to herself as she collected her offerings, each leaf chosen with a discerning eye. This was their chance to assure that the Ladys message went beyond their border – and she was not about to waste it.

She filled her pockets until they could hold no more and set off towards Grand Lake. It had acted as the hub of their little pilgrimage, though in a few days Rand had explained that they would head further west – there were more water ways to be blessed by their hand.

When she found the beach she gasped sharply at the scene she came upon. Stones had been balanced and stacked along the shoreline – each figure casting a long shadow as the sun crept its course through the sky.

”I did not make these.” She whispered, eyes wide. Her hands made a mark across her chest and she stepped out towards the water, her ears pricked for any nearby sound.
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For Aenan (Scott) & Rand (veldt)! Early-ish morning, over cast day!
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#2
Life was slow. It always had been, but now it was a little boring. Without his kids to teach and his wife to talk to, Aenan was left to himself and his eldest. Sadly, said eldest enjoyed following handsome men and pretty ladies, or simply just his nose when an alluring scent danced across his nose on the breeze. Shiras had excused himself, hours ago, and Aenan had done everything under the sun the to keep his mind occupied.

Grand Lake was large, and the waters were relatively cool. It soothed his joints while he checked the fish traps. Mostly fry had made their way in, and so Aenan let them free. Most of them anyway, some were quick snacks. Slimy and small, but fish were fish. Sadly his hands were far too angry for line fishing, so there was little chance for him to catch anything substantial.

The shores of Grand Lake were rocky, and Aenan had nothing better to do than collect and stack them. At various points on the shore he placed them. Some were precarious, seeming to defy physics. Stones placed vertically and layered in with horizontal rocks. Various compositions, sandstone, granite, anything. He had no rhyme nor reason, save for a time passed. As he achieved his goal, exhaustion took hold, and so he placed the final stones in a pile. It was far less extravagant than the previous stacks. He sighed, sore and tired, and shifted down to the less joint-taxing lupus form.

Anyone following the stones made to stand would find the stacks' creator sleeping on a boulder. While the sun was not strong enough to warm the stone, the rock was close enough to the lapping waves that helped him fall asleep. Atop the stone, it was clear Aenan needed a brushing, and maybe a bath too. His fur was messy, and he carried a very fishy smell. He looked ancient there, sleeping on the boulder. Gnarled from age, he almost looked like a corpse that had yet to rot. The lolled out tongue only served to paint the image of his possible demise, be he was still alive, just slumbering.
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#3
There was a certain freedom in being so far from the Kingdom, a lawlessness that reinvigorated him. Rand had felt this way within the confines of his Coven, just after the great war had ravished the lands he knew and loved all his life. They had wandered, haphazard and wayward, following the will of the Goddess alone as they meandered down the web of waterways and rivers that made up the world.

His pilgrimage with Vodeva produced a similar feeling. So long as she didn't turn on him as they did, he would welcome it.

The Ice Queen had collected her own offering, and Rand had been meditating by the lake's edge, eyes closed and reverent. Twittering bird and errant fish had not roused him; but the woman's sharp inhale did. His head turned slowly, seeing her further down the shore, and, further still, something rather peculiar.

Like fog on the water's surface, he glided over smoothly, pushing back his fishtail braids with thin fingers. This was unlike any sign from Her he had ever seen — and the Priest was immediately suspicious.

Eyebrows furrowing, his line of sight followed the rocks a little ways from her, and there lay a great breathing stone, one made of flesh and bone.

His hand hovered in the small of her back, beckoning her to come with him, as he approached this snoring boulder.

"Mae govannen," he greeted in a clear, concise voice; but, quite unlike his usual self, Rand appeared surprisingly open and cordial, contorting himself into something of a reputable man of standing to a stranger that wouldn't have known any better.

"The water is quite inviting today, isn't it, friend?"

[+2]
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#4
Vodeva did not flinch when Rand came up behind her, the palm of his hand resting in the small of her back. She was not resistant to being guided, though there was a taught look to her expression. It was narrow and filled with suspicion as they came upon the sleeping man who lay sprawled across the stone.

The river gurgled curiously at their feet, each lapping curve a reminder of her force.

Vodeva moved quickly, pulling her hands to a sharp clap that was meant to rouse the man to his feet. ”Wake up.” He looked dead. His tongue lolled between teeth yellowed with age, and his fur was whisped in silver and wild. Vodeva adjusted the fall of her silver hair and shared a look with Rand before taking a tentative step away from the safety of his hand.

”Did you hear me? Get up.”

She was a sharp contrast to the Priest, and she felt her mouth settle in a firm line of discontent.

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#5
Rousing him from sleep was typically easy, but Aenan had exerted himself more than usual. In passing time he wore himself out, and the weight of the wear was holding him in the wonderful slumber. Only when sharp tones managed to cut their way through did he began to emerge from the waters of sleep. It was a slow process as the old man stirred. His tongue retreated back into his mouth before exiting again as he yawned and stretched. A chorus of cracks and crunches erupted from his joints as his body prepared for the waking world.

Expecting his son, and a woman he found, if he was right about the voice that woke him, Aenan looked around with tired eyes. The younger Pyr was nowhere to be seen, but two strangers were. Where had his son disappeared to? Were these his friends, or was he happened on by two unknowns who thankfully decided to speak instead of stealing? “Hello,” he greeted them. Despite lacking some teeth, there was no lisp to his speaking. His lack of dental hygiene was not enough to impede his speech, it seemed. “Is Shiras with you?” he asked, as he stood.

Another stretch of the body caused even more joints to protest. He ignored them and their shouts, as he needed to move. Weapons were not drawn, he was thankful, but that didn't mean the strangers didn’t hold bad intentions. If he were to survive this encounter, his son was going to get a good bit of a scolding. Aenan was a large beast, but standing on the boulder put his age on a pedestal. It was clear for the world to see, the fish-scented wolfdog was ancient. He carefully climbed down for the rock and seated himself. The lack of equally powerful fish scent was telltale enough. His child was absent from this meeting. He let out a sigh of frustration before bringing his full attention to the two. “I see that he is not, either way, I am Aenan. Who are you?”
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#6
Vodeva was as prickly as ever, not without good reason, but it all the more necessitated Rand playing the part of the welcoming figure — even if it couldn't have been any farther from the truth. But they were not likely at all to get anything out of this confused old man otherwise, Rand knew, and so the Priest embraced his role to the best of his ability.

Luckily for him, he was quite the established actor.

"I'm afraid not," his eyes narrowed just a tad before he hummed a sympathetic note. "Did Shiras leave you here? It is dangerous to be alone in these parts, you know."

Despite his size, Aenan appeared an easier target than most on account of his advanced age. Less good-intentioned folk would have taken this opportunity to score whatever they could. But Rand and Vodeva were on a holy mission. They were fishers of men.

"I am Rand Coara, of Lorn." His hand gestured in a vague direction. "We are from New Caledonia, a pack not far from here. Surely you have heard of it?"

He glanced sidelong at his companion, wordlessly asking of her to be civil, if only for the Lady's sake.

[+2]
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#7
”Shiras?” It was a foreign name on her tongue, and the long faced dog made a face before responding. ”I know nothing of your child.”

Rand practically hummed alongside her, the stern lines of his mouth twitching as he addressed the ancient behemoth. Was this what it meant to be old? Abandoned by children to sleep on sun-warmed rocks and to be stumbled upon by strangers? Vodeva clutched her shawl, more adamant than ever that when the time came she would through herself into the sea.

”I am Vodeva Nartholiel.” She sniffed, ”Have you no belongings? No shelter?"

She turned on the spot, inspecting the leaning trees with scrutiny.

"It is rude of your child to leave you out like this. Come to our camp - we can wait there until they return for you."

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#8
Names and danger, those what Aenan picked up from the two. Yes, he knew everywhere was dangerous, especially when one was old and becoming feeble. His hands couldn’t grip well, and his legs were very sore. He still had strength though, and the man would fight to the end to save his own skin if he had to. He was still sleepy, and he scratched and rubbed at his face with a forepaw in an attempt to climb fully out of the viscous clouds of sleep that weighted down his eyes. “He left hours ago,” Aenan explained, shaking his head. “He’s no child, he’s becoming grey in the face.” But he was the old man’s son regardless.

“We have a camp far from here, and something small nearby,” Aenan told them, trying to assuage their concerns. “I wouldn’t mind staying with you until he comes back though.” The man stood up from his spot, legs looking mighty achey. “I have heard of your pack, I’ve met some of your people.” The man then stretched his body, stiff jointed with gentle cracks. “I used to live in Krokar and knew Percival when he was just a puppy, it’s good to know he’s doing well for himself.”

He looked between them, ready to move when they were. “It’s good to meet you Rand, Vodeva. I wish my son wasn’t off doing who knows what. He rarely gets to meet those I manage to bump into.” They were being kind, but they were strangers. Still, everyone he had met from New Caledonia had been good to him. He was especially happy about the Krokaran's presence. Familiar, old soul kinship there. It was a home, one that took him in. Flesh and blood from it was not his own, but felt like family regardless.
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