[AW] ash flows into water
The Waste
Jethro is in his Optime form, not far from La Estrella Roja

In the aftermath of the two large gatherings, a curious quiet descended on La Estrella Roja. They still had customers and visitors, of course, but as the nights grew colder there seemed fewer travelers out and about.

Jethro didn't mind the cold. He was descended from canines who had lived in these rugged territories for generations. The thickening of his pelt had warned him that winter was not far off, and other signs began to appear too – the shortening of the days, the smell in the air, the sharp prongs that crowned the bucks he saw in the very-early hours of the day. With the quick arrival of nightfall there seemed less time to see the sun.

This was more common as the rains returned. On some days it was too miserable to go out and they stayed indoors, venturing into the miserable weather for bodily needs or to take care of the animals. Without Marlowe's temperamental stallion to rile up Tobias the draft horse had settled into the lazy days of casual rides or occasional labor. The fashionable bridle they had won from the race was kept in their communal quarters as opposed to use, though Jethro imagined he would show it off at the next grand event.

Certainly, he thought, that would not be until after this upcoming winter had passed. Not today either, given the gray haze that was lingering over The Waste. From where he stood and smoked, looking out to the curved edge of Loch Fundy, Jethro could feel the storm coming. Not yet, he thought – the wind was present, but the sky was still light and the air didn't smell like rain.

Not that he, his nose full of tobacco and local herbs, could smell much more than that.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
The witching season had come. Here now, in the tenth month of those who observed it, an invisible border wavered. The death of the year was nigh; summer was gone, the harvest almost fled for that part of the world. Come nightfall, strange and wonderful things would wake and whisper. Those who wielded the occult would dance and howl in the night, and fires would be lit to keep away cold. The Loch frothed in its high tide, little gurgles of waves depositing on the shores that day.

He smelt smoke. In that pale, washed-out place overlaid over a living world, he turned his formless head. Where there should've been features was a yellow-gray mass, the form swirling like an eldritch concoction. He could smell a living canine, and with it, the bitter herbs it was smoking. A rumble resounded in his deep chest, and the huge, lanky wolfdog-spirit moved. Leaves and branches passed through him, his golden eyes fixed on a speck of light through a copse of trees. Into it he passed, and out into the open where he could hear the Loch lapping. Through tall, dying grasses, yellow and swaying in the wind, he approached.

He hadn't seen this coymutt before. Then again, he hadn't been on this side of the Loch much. The phantom had only existed in the mortal world for a year or so. The Loch didn't give him up so easily to the other parts of this land, and he didn't want to risk being dragged back. Every time he went too far from it, he'd fall into a strange unconsciousness, reforming on the land bridge. It took much out of him, as if his own self and mind had scattered like birds and flown back together. Only now did he have the nerve to try for the other shore, and to his delight, the Loch let him go that far.

Now he was almost at the coymutt's side, and with him, the scent of smoke and sea salt. The wind blew in his direction, turning colder as the ghost sapped what warmth he could from the air. It was one of the easiest ways to gain energy to materialize.

OoC: Wordtober 2021 Challenge Word of the Day: "concoction".
sorry for the delay!

There had been no word from Portland, which he supposed was good enough. The absence of his sister and their elder relative felt like it had lasted too long. He was worried about her, but this was not the first time they had been apart.

Maybe it was better, for a while, that they were. It give Jethro time to get closer to Malik, to whom he now confided all those secrets which had once been to those absentee kin. Though they had never come out and said it to anyone else, they were not nearly as cautious as they once were. Even Holli, who was often and easily distracted, commented on how “cute” they looked, though did not really bring up what she thought she knew to his face.

Jethro wasn't sure if the secrecy was for their sake, or because giving their relationship a solid word would break the spell of this friends-forever camaraderie that existed only because they did not make it complicated. The coyote knew they were on the precipice of another great and terrible change.

Indis' departure had almost destroyed them.

What would this new change cause?

The pressure in the air changed. Jethro felt the cold breeze rise. It felt strange and oppressive – like something was pleading for him to move – and perturbed, the fur on the coyote's spine prickled. Despite the warning that urged him to turn away, Jethro stepped forward. He lowered the cigarette to sniff at the air, but the smoke-smell lingered.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
For many minutes, there was nothing. Then, there came something, and it materialized right by Jethro's side. It was made of smoke and light, grays and yellows swirling like fireflies in a mist. It began as a translucent, canine shape, its soft edges sharpening. The temperature dropped quickly as its mass solidified, a faint glow cast. It came and went like a cigarette's ember, and after it did, the smoky form of a large, lanky wolfdog stood.

Golden eyes appeared last, one after the other, and stared up flaming at Jethro. The specter grinned at the still-mortal man, letting out a soft hwuff. Sea salt and smoke's scent wafted from him and into the air as he said, "'Tis gonna rain, innit?"

A cold wind blew over them both. The phantom lifted his nose to the wind, sniffing. "Smells like it'll," he said, a quiet echo to his words. "I don't mind it. I'm dead, after all. But I'm sure a fella like yerself would want t'git somewhere dry when it does. Ye don't look 'alf-retriever to me, heh."

He gave a casual glance in Jethro's direction, half-expecting the mutt to turn tail and run. Most did before the creature stopped speaking, and who could blame them?

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