[P] looking forward by always looking back
North Shore
#1
Before they had left, her father had been very serious about the matter at hand.

“They will know your face now,” he warned her. “You will not be able to hide who you are.”

Whisper had thought about this only briefly. She understood the seriousness of what this meant: secrecy was paramount in Salsola, where omertà was a Law of the the land. By revealing her identity to an enemy, Whisper gave up a layer of protection she would have otherwise been afforded. Anonymity could provide her safety in some situations – but from what she understood of the matter, when it came to the coyotes, the weight of Salsola was more important.

For that reason she had quickly decided that she would go. Later, when she heard about the goings-on in the north, she would regret the decision for a time. This would not last long: at her core, she was a proud creature, and valued her bloodline and pack. She was one of the most wolfish looking of her sisters, dwarfed only by Azalea's size. Even if she did travel to where the coyotes lived, they would view her with suspicion. It would be better to travel without pretense, with the whole of Salsola's power behind her.

Grievous took to his large Secui form while Whisper traveled on horseback. A third man accompanied them, one whose presence had surprised the young woman. That Flint was present at the barn did not surprise her – until he explained he would be going along.

“They're bringing some pigs, aren't they?” He had said. “I don't want anything sickly contaminating our stock.”

The plan was simple enough: Whisper and her father would handle the delivery. When the coyotes were gone, Flint would examine the pigs. If they were not up to his standard, the Salsolans would travel north, to New Caledonia, and trade the livestock for more useful material. No one from the Gang would ever see Flint, and he would depart as soon as his work was done.

With several hours of travel ahead of them, Whisper had ridden Laurel. The mare was an excellent trail horse. Her size and steady pace made the going easy, and her familiarity with both men meant even with Grievous leading in his hulking Secui form and Flint trailing behind in a smaller four-legged shape the horse was unbothered. It was a good day for an excursion, Whisper thought. There was a steady breeze, and though the sun was hot, much of their route was shaded by trees.

“We're close,” her father announced when they neared the coast.

Flint took this as his cue to stay behind, and slunk off to find somewhere shady to rest. Whisper urged Laurel into a light trot to match the lope Grievous picked up.

“What are they like?”

“Who?”

“The coyotes.”

“It depends,” he said. “They were our allies once, but betrayed us. They think that because they lost the war it makes us evil – do not speak too openly with them. Our name carries meaning, so you may provide it. They do not need to know where you stand. We are their superiors,” Grievous insisted. “They are only here to provide what Salsola is owed.”

The father and daughter carried on until they reached the likely landmark. It was a low, wide building which seemed far worse for wear, overgrown with vines as it was. Tall grass and unruly weeds surrounded the place, which suggested it had been abandoned for many years. Whisper thought it was an ugly sight.

Grievous sat in the limited shade available while Whisper remained mounted. They had discussed this too: in the event of danger, they would flee.

With coyotes, one could never be too safe.

Backdated to August 12th.
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#2
They had waited, where instructed, laden with goods and looking like nothing more than sitting ducks, ripe to be plucked, spatchcocked and thrown to the cooking fires. And, with instruction to be wary, that these wolves were something dangerous, perhaps they very well were. The trio of Ashen in his company had been complacent enough with the saddling of this task at hand.

But Cassidy knew better.

Try as he might to shake the preconceptions of the Rey Salvaje, he knew the man as contemptuous, and fond of his grudges. A seed had been planted before his very conception, and, even now, Cassidy carried the weight of his father’s transgressions -  a sin not his own but bound to him by the nature of blood, and superstition. It’s why he was meant to come. Should his own debt be settled in blood, it was no skin off the leader’s back.

Perhaps, he too, should have felt bitter ire about it, about the very nature of how disposable this little trip had made him feel, yet, after the first few hours had dwindled away into night, so too did his reservations. Why, by the time that the next morning had come, bright and early and flecked with glittering dew, Cassidy had hardly a thought on the matter at all. The company was pleasant enough.

Including the pigs.

Holly had gotten an early start, tending to the duo of heavy young gilts who had, in turn, woken everyone around, only to set off on his orbiting scouting, evidently a bit more perturbed as to the group’s safety than either Flintlock or Dusty seemed to be, and, being the youngest of the group, Cassidy intrinsically fell in line with the complacency.

It was difficult to feel fear over a threat that had largely, to all of their recollection, been unseen, and unfelt. Cassidy leaned back onto Beauford’s side and the ox gave a slow, measured exhale, only to resume chewing on what he could only assume was cud, and he picked his nails while Flintlock checked over the inventory they had brought with them – a moose pelt, fine doeskin, a sachet of polished quartz and flame agate, and a full set of barding and tack the likes of which certainly would not fit any Polvo.

Somewhere, through the trees, a songbird trilled, and Dustin, sitting with his back propped to a tree, lifted his finger in recognition, bobbing the digit to the little sung tune.

"Hear that? Black-capped chickadee." Flintlock hummed, mock-impressed by the skinny dog’s identification skill, and Cassidy’s gaze, which had only momentarily lifted, lowered again.

”Impressive,” he added, before he loosed a soft and breathy sound that could have potentially been a laugh. ”Have… You seen these folks before, Dustin?”

Flintlock seemed more interested then, and stopped his fiddling and the busying of his own hands to smooth his fingers over his thick eyebrows. Dustin hummed in thought.

"’Fraid not. They’re… Before my time, I believe."

The young coyote scoffed, almost bitterly, by response.

”Go figure the Jefe sends us out to face some danger we ain’t never seen before,” he remarked.

"It’s not your place to speak his intent, lad," Flintlock interjected sternly with that English lilt, and Cassidy’s hum soured, only to continue beneath his breath:

”Am I wrong, though?”

The sentiment was cut short at a woof, and Holland came trotting back to their makeshift camp. "We’ve got company."


OOC: AAAA sorry for the wait on this ;v; <3
dead fingers talking, bare foot boy walking
dead earth to cosmic dust
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#3
For what felt like a long time, they were alone. The only company the two Luperci had were the insects, which bothered Whisper's horse, and the birds, which avoided them entirely. It was boring, and led to Whisper studying the landscape in the hopes of finding something notable. They were not far enough north to see true deviation from the territory Salsola claimed, but the proximity to the eastern coast had led to grass being the dominant species here. She knew enough about grazing animals to guess that no horses or feral livestock frequented the area, given how tall the sedge and grass had grown.

A gruff noise from her father brought the young woman back to task, and when she looked saw a tawny dog approaching them. He was a big looking animal, but the tall grass had helped hide him. There was very little to suggest he was any part coyote, and at first, Whisper had thought him a loner or a Caledonian. When he diverted his lope towards them, however, she took notice.

“You here for the stuff?” The dog asked. It was a vague question: if they had not come here with a purpose, they might have dismissed him as a peddler or trader.

Emboldened by the presence of her father and her role as a representative of the Thistle Kingdom, Whisper lifted her chin before she replied. “We have come to collect what is owed.”

This seemed to satisfy the dog, who told them to follow him and turned back the way he had come. Surprised by this, Whisper looked down at Grievous.

“<Do you think this is a trap?>” She asked him, reverting to the Mountain tongue in fear the dog might overhear them.

“<They would be fools to attack us,>” he reassured her. “<The Mafiosi know where we are and what we came to do. Harming us would bring war down on their heads.>”

Satisfied by his reasoning, Whisper leaned forward and squeezed her thighs to encourage her borrowed horse to follow. Using a dog as a scout was clever, she thought. It was as much to hide their presence as it was to show that there were larger Luperci here to protect the smaller coyotes – but when they came in view of the makeshift camp, she was surprised to see that only one individual fit what she considered a standard for the breed. The long-haired, long-nosed dog certainly did not look the part, and the dark-colored man with the scar on his face, while pointed and angled, was set apart by his unique pelt. Only the short, reddish coyote looked the part – but he too was too dark, especially around the legs and face.

It was a far cry from the supposed coyote-superiority she had heard in reference to the Gang, this was for certain.

Whisper drew her horse to a stop. For a moment she lorded over the collective, and used this opportunity to make her introduction.

“We are here on behalf of The Thistle Kingdom,” she announced loudly. “And are here to collect what is owed.”

Satisfied, she dismounted. Grievous remained close to her side, but said nothing. It was better if they presumed he was a lowly bodyguard despite vastly outranking his daughter. With coyotes, one could never be too careful.

When indicated, characters are speaking German.
I used your line for Holly lolol let me know if you want it changed. ;>

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#4
Off Holly’s heels appeared two individuals – not wholly wolf, by appearance, yet more than enough to give the trio waiting at their little encampment some pause. They all turned on queue, and Dustin stood, in unified motion that either suggested a thin, wavering manner of respect, or, more accurately, belied their unease. In the way the two groups appraised one another, it was any wonder as to what they thought about the other. Unexpected, perhaps.

Somehow, with all the warning and precaution, Cassidy had expected more – which was, perhaps, blatantly evident in how he craned sidelong past the beautiful rider horse and attempted to skim the trees with his brassy eyes, only to turn up with nothing. He wrung his hands a bit, and patted down his trousers, before he stepped forward with an unwarranted amount of confidence and hazarded something of a smile when he had caught the full breadth of her then.

Imposing. Obviously important – her nature as a delegate clear yet trusted. Her expression was sharp, and severe, her hair falling in loose, silvered waves that framed her stern frown and tapered into a whip of a braid. The emissary was a full foot taller than him, at least – her bodyguard infinitely larger. Cassidy’s hand hung loosely in the air a moment as he ‘ah’d softly in his own uncertainty before he drew it back and cleared his throat.

Thistle Kingdom wasn’t entirely in his repertoire – the only kingdom he had even the barest familiarity with was that of New Caledonia, but had nary a clue as to their relationship to plants, much less thorny ones. Behind him, Flintlock cleared his throat and drew his attention, the coydog’s expression pinched and stern, before he raised a brow and gave a little nod.

”Oh – yeah, right, well, we’ve got it all here. Two gilts, pelts, some rocks –“ He couldn’t look at her then, quite suddenly, and moved to scratch the nape of his neck, the hair sticking up unevenly as he rolled his wrist in a gesture towards the cart. ”We got the fancy barding there, a caparison and a saddle to properly fit it.”

"You got someplace you want us to start loadin’ things, or?" Holland interjected. Cassidy exchanged a glance, and Dusty, avoiding everyone’s eyes, had sought to start gathering the leads for the swine, who fed off the jittering in his energy.

Cassidy, wishing quite suddenly that he’d more experience with these sorts of diplomatic ventures, stepped aside, offering up a cleared path for these Salsolans to get a better look at what was proffered.

”I like the fringe, by the way – very equestrian.“

"Cassidy."

”What?“


OOC: i'm so sorry whisper, i'm even more sorry, grievous
dead fingers talking, bare foot boy walking
dead earth to cosmic dust
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#5
Whisper had asked her father about their plan too – she had worried that a small number would lead to treachery at worst and difficulty at best in their endevour. It was, he had explained, a show of force.

This riddle had perplexed her, but she came to understand it over time. Their secrecy was paramount to their strength, and the fewer faces revealed to a potential enemy, the better. It was why he had focused so intently on making her understand what she now gave up. Anonymity meant that anyone could be Salsolan. By hiding their numbers, they hid any weakness that might be exploited. Showing only two faces meant that they represented this whole cabal. That was a type of power. She had been given authority to wield it. She could carry her head high knowing she was here with the weight of the Kingdom behind her.

The coyote spoke first. Whisper recalled the list provided to her father and glanced subtly in his direction. There was the slightest of tells from him to confirm this was true – and her eyes turned to the dog sharply when he inquired at their lack of transportation. Should they have brought a cart? No – it would have been too easy to follow. If they thought they needed it, someone could meet them halfway.

“I would like to see the saddle first,” Whisper said, partially because it was what she had been told to do but mostly because she wanted to be allowed to examine it before anyone else.

She had begun to move forward to do so, leaving her horse to stand behind, when the coyote spoke up again. Whisper stopped abruptly, surprised by his bluntness and what he smelt like up close. Her eyes widened very briefly, and her whiskers curled as her nose examined the scent.

Distracted by both of these things, she missed the way Grievous glared at the smaller Luperci.

Abruptly, she turned and went to do what she had come to do. She used her hands to feel all the parts that were most important. Familiar with leather, she gauged it's thickness between her fingers. When she hefted it between her paws she guessed the weight. Pleased by the things she could see, and the detail she quickly began to examine, Whisper thought this was quality work. Ruffians as they were, even the fierce Del Cenere Gang had enough pride to send what they thought represented their talent properly. It was a sign of honor – and perhaps, respect.

Behind her, Grievous examined the minerals with a knowing eye, and when satisfied, did the same to the pelts. He was tall enough to unfold the moose without it touching the ground.

Whisper moved on to the barding and examined it with curiosity. The decorative flare was unique to the coyotes – Salsolan horses were not meant to show their origin so clearly – and was an insight to their culture. When she next glanced up, she was looking down at the long-haired coyote again.

“Is that your cow?” She asked bluntly.

she went ???
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