[P] drop a lifelong curse on your own last name
for camellia
Harriet surfaced from her already-fading dreams to find herself, as usual, tangled in her bedsheets. It took her a moment to remember where she was, so accustomed was she to sleeping in her bedroll under the sky. But it came to her after a moment: Del Cenere territory, Charmingtown, Trailside Inn. She wrestled groggily with the covers until she finally extricated herself and sat up in bed. She swung her feet to the floor, feeling the rough rug beneath her toes. The coydog sat for a moment, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and letting the cool air wake her up further.

Pale gray light filtered through the curtained window. Harriet had always been an early riser, even as a child. It worked in her favor, as her father planned sunrise training sessions for his daughters on most every day but Sunday. She hated those training sessions. Ulysses had constantly pitted his daughters against one another from the start, thoroughly preventing any chance of sisterly affection among them.

Desperate to avoid the memories, Harriet stood abruptly, stretching her powerful body. She dressed quickly, slipping on her clothes which she still hadn’t washed. She’d get around to it, eventually. The extra stink might prevent folks from talking to her more than necessary, which is how she preferred it anyway.

Slipping out quietly, Harriet made her way to the stables where Cerberus was held. This had become her daily routine: wake up early, let Cerberus out to pasture, putter around Charmingtown and try not to get roped into chores by Alonso. Inevitably, she’d wind up at The Ugly Coyote later that night after bringing Cerberus back to the stable. It was a bit boring and she was already feeling restless. She would have to come up with something else to occupy her time until her probationary period was up.

The coy woman made her way down the dirt street of Charmingtown, avoiding eye contact with the other early risers. The stables loomed ahead and the smell of horse was already thick in the air.

OOC: (343 WC)
The stables were one of her favorite places to go if she had extra time. Spending time among the horses who she was getting to know better and better the more days passed. The relationships between them were as diverse as between coyotes. Most of them got along alright. Some of them loved each other. Others hated each other. And all of them had their own unique personalities. It was impossible for Cami to even pick a favorite, she loved them all so much. The communal ones, that was. Hands down, her favorite horse overall was Voodoo closely followed by Juanita. Someday, her absolute favorite would be her own horse. When she got one.

Carmesí had come with her, as the kitten often did now that she was getting older. Cami wasn't even sure it was right to call Carm a kitten anymore, though she still did. "Mi gatita pequeña." she said softly to the cat, who gave her an appraising and slightly judgmental look. Often the feline would go off to hunt mice or play among the hay while Camellia worked. Just because she wanted to hang around her mistress didn't mean the cat wanted to do anything with the horses. She just wanted to be around, not left behind as she had been when she was much smaller.

It was still fairly early in the day. Lessons were planned for later, but she had a spot of time to go to the stables first. Which was where she found her feet heading. Mesí seemed a bit annoyed at the timing of their adventure, meowing and then yawning widely as if to scold Camellia for the choice to leave their warm bed. "I was awake! No sense lyin' abed when there's things ta do, Mesí. Ya coulda stayed home." the Courtright girl reminded the cat.

The cat turned up her nose then continued walking, her tail up and her movements stiff to express disapproval. Cami rolled her eyes and kept walking. She was surprised to see someone else on the road and seeming to be headed the same direction. There seemed to be something familiar about her... both her scent and the way she walked. As if Camellia had seen it before, though she couldn't quite place why since the bits of the other canine's face she could see didn't feel quite as familiar.

"Beautiful mornin', Miss! 'r ya new ta th' Gang?" she asked as she got nearer, ignoring the fact that the stranger seemed to be steadfastly staring at the ground while she walked. A diplomat found ways to get to know even the most surly of canines.
The silence of the morning was broken by an entirely-too-cheerful voice from nearby–one of the individuals she had been pointedly avoiding eye contact with. Harriet managed a surly grumble in answer to the young woman’s greeting, then paused as she caught her scent. It was familiar, familial. Having seen Hosea just the other day, it was unmistakable that this youngling belonged to him.

God, another Courtright.

“Yeah,” she answered hesitantly, burying herself further in her coat. “Just got in from Palisade.” Too much information already.

She watched the young Courtright from the corner of her eye, waiting for her to peel off from the road and go somewhere else. Anywhere else but the stables. But she didn’t change course. Harriet briefly considered making a detour, turning down a random alley to circle back toward the stables some other time. Anything to lose the kid. But Cerberus was waiting for her–if she didn’t let him out on time, he’d demonstrate his displeasure with his teeth. The coydog sighed and continued walking toward the stables, picking up her pace slightly. Maybe the kid would take the hint. But, if she was anything like Hosea… likely not.

Harriet reached the stable doors, sliding them open wide enough to slip through, and hurried down to Cerberus’s stall. He was already standing at the door, impatiently awaiting her arrival. He knickered deeply in his chest when she appeared and tossed his head.

“G’mornin’ to you, too, you big ole brute,” murmured Harriet as she unlatched the stall door.

OOC: (253 WC)
Camellia got the immediate impression that she wasn't welcome. That fact had been radiating from the stranger before she even approached, so it wasn't surprising. The Chispa was accustomed to sometimes annoying others with her questions, though it usually wasn't right off the bat. They hadn't even met and this other canine seemed to be resolutely walking her way to the stables. The interesting thing was that she had said she was from Palisade, though.

"Palisade ya say? M'family's from there! Act'lly, both'a my families, Courtright 'n Braithwaite both. Are ya from one'a 'em?" she asked, undeterred by the other female's clear attempts to just not have a conversation. It wasn't going to work on Cami. At least not that quickly. Especially when they were headed the same spot anyway. Even if she had wanted to fall away from talking, it was rather obvious they'd end up the same place anyway. Wouldn't it be more awkward to just not talk?

Carmesi was already up ahead, waiting near the stable doors for them to be opened. The one big thing cats couldn't do with their lack of opposable thumbs. She wondered if Ringtail could open them... she'd have to ask Todd. He'd know better what raccoons could do. Carm would be irritated if she found out that the small-handed little guy could do something she couldn't. Ringtail probably couldn't do something that Carmesi could... though right now Camellia couldn't think what that would be.

The stranger opened the doors just enough to get through. Carm darted in right after the stranger - she had been smart enough at least not to try and get ahead of the coyote - and then dashed off somewhere. Cami followed. And kept walking after the canine that didn't seem to want to chat. Because she was still determined to talk more with her. It was good to get to know the newest Encenders, especially ones from Palisade.

She wagged her tail excitedly when she saw the new horse, obviously the new Encender's. "Wha' a beautiful stallion." she breathed. The last one she had liked so much had been that one wolf's... she remembered the horse's name was Belaith and she thought the guy had been... Lo-something. Less important than the horse's name. Who cared about some wolf's name? She probably should've remembered, but she didn't. The Stockshow had been such a buzz of activity... she needed to get better at remembering all the details, though. A good diplomat remembered everything.
Harriet sighed. The girl wasn’t going anywhere, and there was no use in denying it anyway. Hosea was likely to spill the beans eventually. Besides, this wasn’t Portland where she could just disappear into a crowd and assume anonymity. She was known here.

“Yeah, I’m a Courtright,” said she flatly. “Harriet Courtright.”

She turned to face her young relative and leveled her with a vivid green glare. She wasn’t certain how much this kid knew of her family and its history, but the last thing she wanted was to be treated differently based on her relatives–the ones no longer living, that is. The word infamous had been thrown around a time or two in her presence, and each time it had caused a brawl. Harriet wouldn’t hit a kid, though. At least, she didn’t think she would.

She followed the young Courtright’s appraising eyes to Cerberus and felt the ice in her heart melt by a very narrow margin. The big dun was her Achilles’ heel and had been for several years. He had once belonged to a less-than-savory mutt that hung around Palisade and was drunk seven days out of the week. Cerberus had been underweight then and the mutt blatantly mistreated him. It didn’t take long for Harriet to step in, thoroughly whip the layabout’s behind, and claim the horse for herself. The pair had been inseparable ever since.

“His name’s Cerberus,” she said, though her voice still held a rough edge. Cerberus craned his neck out of his stall to smell the other coydog, her scent no doubt familiar to him. Temperamental though he was, he seemed unfazed by her.

“You one of Hosea’s kids, right?” Harriet asked abruptly, eyeing the girl a little less sharply.

OOC: (289 WC)
Harriet Courtright? If she recalled in the litany of names that she had been given for family members at some point, that was "ya mean my Aunt Harriet? S' great ta meetcha finally!" she said with an exuberant wag of her tail. Just because the other coydog wasn't excited to meet her didn't mean Camellia wasn't excited to meet Harriet. Also maybe that wasn't what Harriet technically was, but it felt the easiest way to describe their relationship.

She did freeze very slightly when those bright green eyes looked at her with some force. What was that all about? Cami had never met a Courtright that was so... prickly. Amos had been alright the one time she had met him, and she was real close with Trelawney. There were stories about her grandpa, but this wasn't him. This was her aunt (really, some sort of cousin, but aunt was easier to think) and shouldn't she be at least a bit happy to be in Del Cenere? If she wasn't, why was she here? Obviously she had to have known that she'd be coming somewhere where she had a fair stack of family members. By blood, there were her three cousins and then three "nieces."

She held out her hand to the stallion in the way that she had been taught: palm flat, letting him take a good whiff of her if he wanted. "Cerberus, s'a good name fer a good fella." the girl said, her voice taking on the sing songy tone she usually used with the horses. It was her way of saying yes, I'm talking to you to the horses instead of someone else. It also was a bit higher pitched which she thought made it easier for them to focus on it.

"Yeah, 'm one'a Hosea's daughters. Camellia, the youngest, bu' you kin call me Cami if'n ya want." it was a nickname for family and friends; obviously Harriet was one of those. Maybe eventually both. "M' sisters are a bit older, Daphne and Tansy. 'm sure you'll meet 'em around eventually." at least Daph was often around the stables (and being a bossy britches) and Tansy was around doing stuff too. "D'ya need a hand at all wi' Cerberus? I know m'way around th' stables." she knew where things were stored, for instance, which could be useful to someone new to the place.
The girl’s shrill exuberance raised Harriet’s guard once again, her tan ears swiveling at the sound of her niece’s (cousin’s?) voice. She did her discomfort by fussing with a knot in Cerberus’ dark mane.

She was happy to be in Del Cenere–at least, as happy as Harriet could be. But she hadn’t come to the Ganglands to get cozy with her extended family. She wanted a fresh start, out of Noelle’s shadow (and away from her big head) and far away from Josiah’s overbearing presence. Her mother was, for the most part, easily ignored, having taken to the drink shortly after her father and sister’s demise. Without Ulysses’ neuroses to enable and lacking a spine with which to continue bullying her children, Rosalie had surrendered herself to indolence.

Not for the first time, Harriet wondered how different her life would’ve been had Josiah been her father. Would she be in Noelle’s place, learning how to manage the Courtright family? Or would she be here, some bigshot like Hosea? Maybe she would’ve even had a good relationship with her parents and siblings. Maybe she would’ve had a family of her own. It was a weird train of thought.

“Lovely,” she murmured, not at all thrilled to meet the rest of Hosea’s brood. All girls, bless his heart. Hopefully, it was simply Camellia’s age that made her so hyperactive. Harriet wouldn’t know what to do with herself if all his kids were like this. It would be akin to something out of a nightmare, all the giggling and talking and squealing.

“No,” she answered Camellia’s offer. “I’m just lettin’ him out to pasture for the day.” As cold as it was, the big dun preferred to trot around the pasture with the other horses rather than sit in a stable all day. Harriet couldn’t blame him. She would always choose the open sky over being cooped up, too. Which gave her an idea.

“Say, kid,” she said, turning to her niece with a quirk of her brow. “I don’t suppose you’re allowed to escort me outta Charmingtown, are ya?” A day where both Harriet and Cerberus could stretch their legs would do them both good.

OOC: (363 WC)
Camellia noted the swivel of those ears that said god you're annoying as clear as day to her. She'd seen it before and often ignored it. Because she couldn't help being small and loud. Now she was getting older, though... her manners needed to take a greater precedence. Right. Propriety. She probably shouldn't be squealing and near jumping with glee just because she had met another family member. There was still the matter of decorum. Even if the excitement did make her toes wiggle a little bit still because it was so neat to meet someone else from her bloodline.

Harriet certainly didn't seem anywhere near excited about meeting Cami's sisters. Which she'd understand about Daphne, but Tansy was pretty great. Who didn't want to meet their family, though? She didn't know if she could remember Hosea describing Harriet's personality or just her existence when he had mentioned members of the family tree. Obviously if he had, she would've thought the adjective prickly suited her well. Camellia had never met someone she couldn't make a friend without some effort, though, she'd get Aunt Harry on her side, just you wait.

"Makes sense, he prolly needs rest if y'all recently came in from Palisade." no reason to run a horse through their paces right after a long journey. Like anyone else, they needed a rest day. Probably even more than a coydog. Sometimes she envied their ability to just soak up the sun and enjoy an open pasture for hours on end.

The question about if she could escort someone made Cami tip her head. Could she escort an Encender? It had never occurred to her one way or the other, actually. There had never been any of them that she knew well enough to escort. Being the daughter of the Bella Dama, she thought maybe she could get away with it. Even if Chispas weren't technically supposed to. Maybe? She rubbed her jaw thoughtfully. "Ya know, 'm not entirely sure. Don' think mos' Chispas know 'nough about newcomers ta escort 'em. Where d'ya wanna go?"

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