[AW] Let the truth speak for itself.
(word count: 375)

The Warden had blood on her. She hated when blood was on her, but it was unavoidable when she hunted. Which was why she made a point to do it on a day that she was planning to clean herself more thoroughly anyway. It wouldn't do to get dirty on a day when she had just cleaned. It would mean that she had to go out of her way to clean an extra time. There was a pattern to how often she cleaned her fur and she was loath to break that habit unless absolutely necessary.

Currently she sat near the ocean and licked at the spots where her fur was matted with the blood of her prey. The rabbit had been a satisfactory meal that she had eaten as soon as it was caught. Only enough for one, alas. The scrawniness of prey was starting to get a bit annoying. She had saved the bones and pelt buried under a tree to use later. Everything else she had eaten, her belly filling with the warm results of her work. There would be better rabbits to eat come springtime. Even better when they became fat and lazy with the heat of summer.

She was looking forward to the change of season. It had been too long that cold had captured the world in its fangs. Angora might not have minded as much if it wasn't for the way the earth froze and then warmed and then froze again, making slick spots that tried to trip her and slushy spots that squelched beneath her feet. Mud was what it often created. Spring would bring some of that too - much to her annoyance - but the young Valentine girl would avoid it as best she could. Summer was the best, when it rained less and she could spend a lot of time in cool pools of water.

This year would be different. Nindari was here now. She wondered if the other girl would spend time with her and Ivy. What could the three of them get up to once the weather shifted? There was great promise in the air for what was to come. She just had to wait out the last dregs of wintertime to get there.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Aidan’s attraction to the coast was irrational.  Of course, he’d attempted to explain it, and currently he believed that its allure was its indomitability.  It was the ultimate puzzle.  How could a tactician overcome such a vast and ever changing obstacle.  If a Luperci attempted to swim it, they would tire long before reaching land again, and to drink it would lead to death.  Despite its dynamic nature however, there was a pattern to the ocean, the breathing in and sighing out of the waves was a constant.  Sometimes those breaths were deeper and more violent, but the sea would always breathe.

It was also a place where Aidan encountered few pack mates, and his mind could enter a meditative state.  The journey he had made with Silas had changed The Henchman, perhaps not obviously and maybe not dramatically yet, but gears had begun to turn and there was an inevitability.  There was a change and it was happening, and the Silent man had ensured those changes were unavoidable and irrevocable.

He scented the blood before he saw Angora.  His cool grey gaze following his nose and seeing the splashes of scarlet upon the pale coat.  Aidan noticed that she was almost fastidious in her cleaning.  For a moment The Henchman thought to turn and leave, but it was socially impossible to do that, a consideration he would not have been burdened by at one point. 

Aidan approached, stopping a small distance from his pack mate.

”I take it you’ve had a successful hunt.” Never skilled at small talk, Aidan asked the question that sprang to mind ”How goes your training?” His expression was inscrutable as ever.

[WC - 277]
(word count: 334)

Gora didn't like to be seen in any state except perfect. This was an impossible goal. Things were often getting out of place, dirt was practically magnetically drawn to her lightly colored plush coat, and life was just messy. Unfortunately. There was no way to be a wolf and not be dirty sometimes; if there had been a way, she would've found it. Alas, she had to just live with what life offered her as far as amenities.

Her cleaning paused as she looked toward the sound of someone else. Aidan. Her ears swayed backward in a whisk of respect for the Henchman. They used to not know each other all that well. She'd still say it was true that they weren't exactly friends, but she had grown to like him more. Certainly she had come to understand him more than she used to. Before he had just seemed a companion to Silas with only marginally more to say than the mute. Now she had spoken to him a couple of times and found there was more inside that quiet head than maybe others gave him credit for.

"Yes, rabbit." she said to his question, licking her lips and savoring the taste that still lingered there from her meal. It helped that she had been cleaning the blood off her coat, the taste lingered more from that than when she had eaten.

He asked of her training and she considered what he meant. Did he mean specifically what they had trained with or her general training for her role within Salsola? "My training has been going well, though some parts of it are harder in the winter. I am considering learning to throw knives in addition to using them for self-defense." it was something she had been pondering lately and Aidan might actually have an opinion about it; he knew far more about weapons than she did. It just sounded... fun, the idea of throwing a knife and watching it sail toward its target.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
There had been a great deal of turmoil in Aidan’s life as of late.  There had been the visit to Silas’s former master’s grave, and the long trek the pair had taken to his birth pack.  In truth though, many of these events could be traced back to Salsola’s protection of their pack and property, and The Henchman’s subsequent poisoning.  Aidan’s mind had been trapped in unconsciousness while his body fought the poison which had swept through Aidan, leaving him weaker and more vulnerable than he’d been since his days as a pup. 

In the room he’d shared with Silas inside the medical hut.  The grey eyed male had whispered words to the silent man’s unconscious form that he’d never said to anyone else in his life.  It was puzzling to Aidan, that he’d not simply told Silas while he was awake, and part of his journey to the coast was to try and determine an answer to that conundrum.  However, having come across Angora, the Henchman listened to what his younger pack mate had to say.

When she had finished, Aidan continued to pause, just for a moment as he thought of what he should say.

”Throwing knives is an impressive skill, though I believe many are made differently to blades you use in close combat.  The waiting of a throwing knife is different.  I would also advise that you improve your close combat skills if you wish to learn to throw blades.  The reason being is, if you throw all your blades and your opponent is not defeated, the fight is not over and they will most likely charge at you.”

Aidan spared a glance towards the rippling expanse of the ocean before turning back to Angora.

”Is it vanity which makes you maintain your pelt with such attention, or is it related to your training with magic?” He asked with his customary directness.

[WC - 316]
(word count: 409)

She listened to what he had to say about throwing knives with care. The Warden appreciated his perspective and knowledge in the area of fighting. It wasn't somewhere she claimed expertise and she probably never would; even the idea of throwing knives was more for her own amusement than it was because she wanted to get into danger somewhere to use those skills. There was no saying when she might need to take a more aggressive stance if she roamed farther away from the safety of Salsolan borders though.

"I believe you are right about throwing blades being weighted differently. Tate and I worked one time on, like, throwing regular daggers but I bet that's not what you're supposed to use." she said thoughtfully. She did think she'd put out feelers for getting a few of the throwing kind of knives to practice with. At the very least she could try it out and see if she would like it. Though he made a good point about maintaining her knowledge of close proximity fighting as well.

His return question made her laugh, her tail swishing once as she considered what remained of the blood on her body. Her mother had taught her to be so careful with her coat. It was so soft and plush and thick that it really liked to get visibly dirty. A thing she couldn't stand for long periods of time. Whether she would've been that way if her mother had not encouraged it was uncertain. The fact remained Morgana had raised her and the need to be clean was constantly buzzing in her mind. "Mostly vanity." she replied with a final swipe of her tongue against her breastbone.

Her cool blue gaze assessed his own coat curiously. Pretty much no one was as fastidious with their coat as she was, but he seemed well-groomed. Certainly she had never had cause to feel discomfort around him for his scent or appearance. Sometimes he was more disheveled from practicing she assumed in his warrior ways. It still had never been to the point that she would've judged it.

"What do you think of New Caledonia falling?" as a warrior, he might have some feeling about what that meant for Salsola. It left a power gap in the land that would need filling. By them or by someone else. Certainly they would not move to New Caledonia's lands or anything, but... opportunity arose in times like these.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Aidan did not judge his pack mate as she spoke.  Rather he accepted her words and filed them away, making note of what Angora had said.  While The Henchman maintained the health of his own pelt, it was to ensure he was free of parasites or irritation.  Cleaning also meant he could reduce his own scent and blend into surroundings, further obfuscating his connection to the Kingdom, just as so many Salsola’s did.  When The Warden asked her question of him, Aidan paused and considered.

”Many within the Kingdom enjoy jewellery, cloth and adornments.  Our trade with New Caledonia had begun to furnish Salsola with those things.  With that pack destroyed, those things will become more difficult to acquire.  We could send a scouting party to pick over the carcass of the land and strip it of what is left behind and might be useful to the Kingdom.  Their territories were large and while we might be able to force a claim on those lands, it would stretch our defences.  What might be more advantageous to us would be to temporarily occupy the lands until we are able to change the migratory patterns of our prey, so that they are driven closer to our borders and we are furnished with a further food source, helping us to raised more young and expand the pack.”

Of course, Aidan’s assessment was simply that, and the decision to capitalise upon the misfortune or not was up to the leaders of their pack.  The Henchman would always offer his opinion when it was sought, but he did not judge the course of action the pack chose to take.

”I know that tale singers often tell tales of Luperci who have breathed fire, or hypnotised their enemies to do their bidding.  If such feats are possible and magic truly does exist, then perhaps this is something you should study to master.  A Luperci throwing a knife may struggle against an opponent who can breathe fire, or control their minds.”

Aidan’s tone remained flat and even, if he were jesting then there was no sign, and given he rarely employed levity it was a good bet he was querying a line of strategy.

[WC - 367]
(word count: 540)

Angora didn't find that she needed to dress up her words with Aiden. He was a straightforward wolf and she thought appreciated the same in return. This was not to say that she did not maintain the natural facade of someone accustomed to politicking most hours of her day. It was just that she didn't feel like she had to specifically try to impress him. She didn't think there was anything that would impress him except actions and follow through.

He weighted his response to her question and then spoke it. The interest of the Kingdom into things like jewelry was a reason she had selected it as her own specialty. Though she had been a bit of a natural at it, anyway. Which had led naturally into being a beautician. The hands moved in similar ways. And there was almost as much interest into hairstyles as jewelry. She would encourage it more, anyway; a fancier hairstyle with different adornments could make someone stand out amongst their peers quite well. Angora could be the one to help that happen.

She was interested to hear the rest of his assessment about the power gap that New Caledonia's fall had left in its wake. The girl had considered going to pick over the land herself and looking for prizes. Undoubtedly everyone who had heard about the end of the pack had done the same, though, so it was doubtful there was much left. One never did know where something interesting might be found. Artifacts from the Time Before were still found and that was many years ago now.

The prey thing sounded time consuming and not something she knew enough about to remark on. She caught prey and followed it within their land. What it did before it got there... she didn't really know nor care. "I will certainly be checking the territory for things we could use, though I doubt I will be the first or the last to do that. I am curious how many of their numbers still reside in the area despite the disbandment. I know some fled, but certainly there are others still there who took a lot of what was valuable. And who still make some small claim on the land that was once a pack." it was possible these bands would be of interest to Salsola in the future, if they started to grow any sort of power. Their investment in New Caledonia had not panned out, so she doubted the Boss would invest again... but they still had to keep a close eye on what was happening outside their borders.

Aiden spoke of magic she didn't know. Fire breathing and hypnotizing were very active magics. She considered the suggestion for what it was, knowing it was unlikely he meant it to poke fun or joke about what magic might do. Gora recalled their last conversation well. "I don't know how to do those magics. I'll have to see if I can find more information on them. They are probably well kept secrets by those that do know them. You wouldn't want your enemy returning fire with fire." and the land of Salsola did not - as far as she knew - have access to such spellbooks.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
”I would advise caution if you intend to pick over the carcass of what is left of New Caledonia.  The death of a pack sends out ripples.” Aidan paused for a moment, thinking of his own birth pack and how its destruction had caused a shift in The Henchman’s own life.  He’d been freed from his sire and thrust into the world of a loner.  A difficult enough thing, but Aidan’s mind had been broken before he’d escaped his family, and so survival had become an all-consuming thought.

”Like throwing a rock into water, for a moment there is a whole, but soon more water rushes in to fill it.  The inflow are loners desperate to scrabble for spoils.  If you feel your combat skills are not extraordinary, but even if you think they did, it would be unwise to travel there alone.  Of course, that is merely my assessment, ultimately the decision is your own.”

Aidan knew that the life of each pack member did not really belong to themselves, but rather to Salsola.  Were any of them to be injured frivolously, the resources of the pack would have to be strained to care for them, and the loss of a pack mate would affect moral and reduce skills, weakening The Kingdom further.

”During combat, if an enemy threw blood at you, or stained your coat with faeces during combat, do you believe it would distract you? Make you hesitate or recoil in disgust?  If the answer to those questions are yes, then perhaps it would be wise to practice becoming accustomed to stains, dirt and grime as it would be a grave weakness and one that could prove fatal during combat.”

Aidan fell silent, looking out over the water again, realising that he was incapable of small talk.  No matter how hard he had practiced or as many times as he’d attempted it, it was easier to sink into the analytical mindset which had helped him survive for so long.  Ironically, the Luperci who had become so close to Aidan was a better conversationalist, even with a severed tongue.  It was doubtless a thought that might have made another grin or chuckle, but it was lost on The Henchman.

Finely Aidan spoke again.

”Though, I have noticed during pack gatherings how adept you are at conversation.  I have watched you speak to someone who is hostile or ambivalent, and by the end of your conversation, you have conquered them.  Not all battles are fought with knives or claws, perhaps that is where your battle ground lies.  Your skills are different to mine.  It is clear that my skills in conversation are weaker than many, so instead I watch and I listen.”

[WC - 453]
(word count: 505)

Gora nodded to accept his advice to be careful about going onto New Caledonia's former territory to seek treasure. There would definitely be those that took offense. Whether the place was still formally claimed or not, the former residents wouldn't see kindly to those who picked over its bones. If Salsola had fallen, the blue-eyed witch would have been in the Blackwoods being an outright terror to anyone who arrived trying to take what had been theirs.

She also liked that he told her the risks and then left it at that. There was nothing of him trying to demand of her that she follow his superior knowledge; Aidan respected her enough to let her make her own decisions. Whether that was just how he'd treat any packmate or because he thought she wasn't an idiot, Angora didn't know. Either way she liked it. "I will take that into consideration." was all she really needed to say. It was doubtful she'd bring him as an escort if she decided to bring one at all. He'd be a more than suitable guardian, but the Valentine would probably ask Tate if she felt she needed one.

She was less pleased with his further statements about how blood and fecal matter could be thrown at someone in combat. The mere idea made her whole body shiver with distaste. It wasn't that she couldn't have these things on her coat. Blood especially was something that had to mar her fur when she hunted. Mud, too. Poop didn't get on her quite as much, that would be very gross. But wouldn't anyone who was struck with that be a bit distracted and grossed out?

"I can clean anything out of my coat if it comes to it. If I'm fighting, it must be for a good reason. I don't think I'd be any distracted than someone else. It's not as if I can always be entirely clean. Although someone, like, throwing shit at me sounds absolutely appalling." she said, wrinkling her nose and flicking her tail once. Only someone very foul would do such a thing. She did not doubt that someone like that existed. It was just that she hoped she never met them.

He surprised her with his assessment of her own capabilities. It wasn't as if she had tried to show off these particular skills to him, so it felt gratifying to realize he had seen her way with words at gatherings. "It is good to have different skills. Salsola needs strength from all areas so that we win, whether through tongue or knife or sword or bow." it was good that neither of them found the other wanting just because their skillsets were different. Angora would've never wanted Aidan's capabilities and perhaps he didn't want hers.

"I think you are just fine at conversation, though. I have never struggled when it comes to talking with you." the only time that they had spoken very little was when sparring and there was no reason for talking then.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Aidan nodded in acknowledgement of Angora’s assessment of her abilities.  He would not impugn her combat skills, he had merely offered an assessment, not a warning against a course of action.  When she shuddered and spoke out on the use of faeces in combat, Aidan answered her.

”Were we to fight in earnest, knowing you as I do, I would use faeces to distract you as the few moments of shock would buy precious time.  However, slicing into an opponent’s underbelly can also release viscera which can mar a pelt.”

”I believe you are attempting to be kind with regards to assuring me of my conversational skills.  I am aware that, though I am adept at combat, I am considered strange and the way I speak is unusual.  Many Luperci take for granted concepts with which I struggle.  I have a desire to possess your ability to speak with others and put them at ease in order to make them more compliant with what you desire them to do for you.  It is an admirable talent and one of incredible value to The Kingdom.  Silas has attempted to teach me a great deal, but my mind…” He wasn’t entirely sure how to phrase the next part, so he took a pause ”Works differently to many Luperci, both within and outside of the pack.  I have inspired great discomfort within many Loners, especially those who see my quiet solitude as weakness and wish to prove themselves to friends.  Those encounters always ended in a way they did not anticipate and forced me to leave an area.”

Once again Aidan paused, and thought.  When he had first arrived in The Kingdom, he would have never spoken so extensively to anyone.  While he still might not have grasped many things, clearly, he was better equipped to speak to pack mates other than Silas.

”What attracted you to making non-essential items for the pack and for trade?  Other than a demonstration of wealth or vanity, what purpose do these items serve.  A necklace can be used by an opponent to choke a fighter, an earring can be torn out to cause pain and distract an opponent.  Are these items not dangerous to offer to pack?”

Aidan did not mean to criticise, but to a greater understanding would offer further insights into the mindset of many Luperci.

[WC - 392]
(word count: 452)

Gora felt her nose wrinkle at what he had to say about the disgusting matter of fighting on a battlefield. Viscera was something she had to get on her coat from her prey, but her own? It made her stomach turn a bit to think about it. If someone got at her underbelly, it probably wouldn't matter how gross it was; she was likely on her way to an end anyway. That would mean they had gotten past her defenses and near enough to get at her most tender parts. Not a promising proposition.

"Noted. Keep away from battle as much as possible. I would very much like my viscera still inside my body and absolutely no feces on it." she said with another shudder. Now she kind of wanted a bath just from thinking about all that. She was probably going to head there right after this conversation so that she could scrub until it felt at least a little better to exist in her body.

He assumed she meant kindness and the girl held back a laugh at the thought. There were rare occasions that what she said was just with an intent of being kind, but it was good of him to think she might have altruistic motives. "Silas has probably taught you more than you realize. And there's nothing wrong with your mind thinking a different way. You see weaknesses I am blind to, I am sure, especially as a fighter. I wouldn't even know where to begin preparing a defense of our pack properly to ensure the likelihood of success." where she'd begin would be talking to Tate, Lace, and Aiden. Certainly never trying to do it herself. Though she didn't know why that would've ever been left up to her anyway.

It was clear even in the way his mind viewed the things she created the difference in the way their minds worked. To him, jewelry was a vulnerability, something that could be exploited. To her, they were pretty baubles that made her feel a sort of contentment. "I just enjoyed it. My mother is a tradeswoman and I fell into the art of jewelry making naturally. It doesn't serve a purpose in the way hunting or fighting does. It creates beauty in the world, and that is enough for it. Of course I wouldn't recommend wearing anything of great value to fight. I also weave spells in them, so perhaps they offer better protection if they are worn or encourage better trade or make heads turn a bit more toward someone..." she trailed off; doubtless he got the point. "Have you never done anything more for the pleasure of it than the usefulness of it?"

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Aidan, as ever, remained quiet and attentive as his younger pack mate spoke.  Angora talked of a world The Henchman had little concept of.  When Aidan saw a vista unfolding breathlessly before him, he didn’t see its beauty, but rather where vegetation and shadow could hide enemies, or how higher terrain could be used as an advantage. Beauty had never played any part in Aidan’s life.

”I have grown to understand that I did not have a conventional family unit.  My sire tortured my siblings and I as pups.  A war swept through my birth pack and decimated it.  I was left alone, and for a long time there was only one thing I was required to do, and that was to survive.  There has not often been great opportunity for pleasure, my next meal, or even the following day, were never guaranteed.”

His words were spoken in his implacable tone and his expression remained inscrutable.  His feelings on those events, if indeed he had any, were impossible to decipher.

”Perhaps now though, the one thing that may be categorised as not necessary to my survival or execution of my duties to The Kingdom, would be my connection to Silas.  Perhaps that is pleasurable as it serves no strategic purpose, and might even be considered to make things far more complicated and dangerous.”

Aidan considered his response.  Somehow, having spoken the words aloud to someone else, had given them structure in his own mind and granted a new understanding, or at least one he’d not been allowing himself to consider, that was interesting.

”What do the spells you weave into your items hope to achieve?  What is their purpose?” Aidan found himself curious at what an item with a spell bound to it would or could do.  Would it feel different in the hand?  The Henchman was always interested in anything that could be used to gain an advantage in combat.

[WC - 321]
(word count: 542)

They came from vastly different worlds and yet lived in the same place. The experience that Aidan had in the matter of war was different from what a highborn daughter of Salsola would ever face. She had been born into privilege and status to a Kingdom that had not been fraught with wartime for her entire life. The thistles had deep roots in the land and no one had stood against them in a long time. Other than smaller battles being waged, which were not at all the same as the thick fog of war itself.

She listened as the Henchman spoke of his childhood. Tortured them? Her lip curled with distaste at the concept. Bambinos were highly prized within the Salsolan pack, none would ever be tortured. And she doubted very much the Blacksun male used the word lightly. He knew what torture was in a way that she did not. Knew it intimately as the subject of it and possibly the torturer. She wouldn't have put it past him to have that kind of experience under his belt.

It didn't come as a surprise to her that his relationship with the silent del Morte male was just pleasurable. Angora was interested to hear him say it, though. The warrior was the kind that seemed to keep that kind of thing close to the chest. Even when it was obvious to those paying attention that the pair were inseparable; whether or not they had committed themselves to each other, Salsola saw them for what they were.

"Your birth pack sounds like a terrible place. I am glad you survived it and have found a home here." she said, her tail twitching slightly with indignation as she thought again of what he must have endured to get there. "And it is good that you have Silas. All of us deserve pleasure in their lives, not just purpose." All of us being Salsolans; she cared little about whether Outsiders found pleasure.

She considered the spells she had woven. "Defensive spells, protection spells, spells for hiding and for being seen. These are not forceful spells. They are woven into the very fabric of what is made to help encourage the world around a wolf to react in a certain way. To make them less visible, to keep them from harm, to make them more visible to the one they want to love them..." she trailed off. "A stronger magic to force that kind of thing into the world would come at a great price. Gentle suggestions, though, need less. But they do more than having nothing."

The wolf considered something, "have you ever seen a jewelry that was made to be pretty until it was a weapon? I have cut myself before on pieces of metal. I wonder if there would be a way to, like, make something that just looked like a bauble but was actually a weapon in disguise. This might be especially useful if you were peacebound to leave all weapons. They wouldn't recognize jewelry as a threat." it was a small spark of a concept that she thought could grow into something far greater. Though there were limits into what you could make look innocuous while actually having secondary uses.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Aidan watched Angora as he listened. Her reactions appeared genuine, and there seemed to be concern in them.  Though they had spent little time with one another, this was another time when the younger Salsolan had piqued his curiosity.  The manner in which she viewed the world, the way she spoke with him, and even her way she spoke, were very different to so many other Luperci within the pack.

”Until Salsola, I had no frame of reference for what a pack was like, nor were we allowed to interact with many of its members.  From what I remember however, Salsola is more structured and ruled by lore.  Though, I would surmise being a member within either pack was equally as deadly.  While there might not have been great subtlety in the members I can remember, there was an overt brutality that could be…difficult to replicate anywhere else.  Pack mates in Salsola are often more careful, they have greater patience, but ultimately, an opponent is destroyed due to their actions.”

Aidan recognised that Angora wished that members of Salsola find what they desired, but it was that way of seeing the world as it was expected to be, rather than how it was, that Aidan lacked, and it interested.

”Why does any Luperci deserve anything?  From what I saw during my time as a loner, Luperci enjoy tales, but they seldom believe in them.  Many wish to categorise others into evil and good, but Luperci just are, as is the world.  Everything fights to maintain its foothold here, to see yet another day.  One day, someone with greater skill, or perhaps someone simply luckier than me, will bury a weapon in me and I will die, perhaps quickly, or perhaps slowly.  If it weren’t for the Emissary I would have died already.  What Luperci feel they deserve and what they receive has angered and frustrated many.”

Aidan went silent again, his eyes scanning the horizon as he paused to reflect.  It was odd that he vocalised his internal thoughts, but Aidan doubted such ideas were controversial.  Angora’s last two points though, were what intrigued him the most.  Magic to force a chance came at a great price?

”To force a change with your magic would cost you physically? Or do you mean in traded goods?” Aidan had allowed an idea in his mind to simmer and bubble.  If magic did exist then perhaps such a thing would be possible, but it might well require a magic that did not exist.

”As for jewellery with the purpose of a weapon. I once saw a loner draw a large sword from a staff.  Other than that, I have heard of rings with fine barbs on their inside where a drop of poison can be placed, and so when the ring is worn, it will scratch the user.  Though I don’t believe either of those things are what you meant.  I don’t believe I’ve seen a Luperci in combat enter unarmed and use their jewellery to win a match.”

As ever, there was no mocking tone, simply a flat explanation of Aidan’s understanding of a situation.

[WC - 523]
(word count: 506)

Gora considered what it would be like to grow up in a different place. A place where brutality was lauded and her own skills would've been treated as useless. It was hard to fathom. She would not have thrived in a place like that. Would she have simply adapted when she was younger? Would she have left? Would she have been treated poorly? Clearly the last had happened to even Aidan, so she had no doubts it would have been a terrible place to live for most wolves. Why someone would choose to live in a place like that was strange to her. Yet clearly some thrived in it or it would've crumpled.

He asked why any Luperci deserved anything and she shrugged. "Why do we deserve air, and food, and water, and life? Because we exist and take these things for ourselves. The Thistle Kingdom has well-founded roots and prosperity. You are right that could end someday because of our follies or the greater strength of an outside power. No matter how hard we prepare against it, we are not infallible." and yet... "We deserve it because we continue to take it." she wondered if her logic tracked for him or if he would persist in feeling that there was folly in the belief of deserving something in and of itself. She could see what he meant; nothing in life was freely handed to someone who wouldn't work for it. Not even for her, the daughter of a highborn House born with great privilege. If she had been a layabout she'd still be out on her ass faster than she could blink.

"A physical price. Not necessarily your own, but there is always something to be paid for magic. We burn things or leave them behind in rituals or exert physical energy as a sacrifice. A big enough spell... it can tax you to the point of death. Sometimes that harm can be mitigated by dispersing some onto others, but it's a delicate thing." and this was the reason that the Coven was careful what they cast and how they cast. The blow back of magic gone awry could be terrible indeed. No one wanted to deal with that.

She considered what he had said about weapons, especially the poison concept because it was one she could potentially use in the future. "I will have to ponder this more, but I think there may be some ways to create jewelry that when broken in battle could be useful for fighting. Maybe not as useful as a weapon intended solely for fighting, but as an additional form of self-defense... especially for those among our residents who are not generally warriors. They could wear jewelry that seems innocuous at first yet prepares them in case of a worst case scenario." how to make them both pretty and practical was another consideration... she'd mull over some ideas in regards to that too. There was little that she felt was beyond her ability to create if she really tried.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
Weaponised Jewellery?  It was an interesting concept.

”The idea has merit.  Often the element of surprise can tip the scales in favour of one opponent or another.  Were a Salsolan to possess something which appeared innocuous and harmless, it may well be overlooked.”

Aidan understood his own flaws, and did not berate himself for not having considered such a thing before.  Angora had a creative nature about here that Aidan found intriguing.  Perhaps she interested him, because she thought in a way that he struggled to, and speaking with her meant he could devise new solutions to problems.  Drawing upon the way in which Angora thought and saw things, allowed Aidan to approach a problem in a different way.

”Salsola has slaves and The Kingdom can take prisoners or capture tresspassers.  Surely their lives mean little to the pack.  Why then do we not create powerful magic and allow the price to be paid by those Luperci.  If they are injured or killed then it makes little difference to The Kingdom, and it would mean a Salsolan is not jeopardised.”

The logic appeared straightforward to Aidan.  To risk a pack members life would indeed be foolish and risky.  However, if the price could be exacted from a prisoner or slave, and there were enough of those, then the Salsolan practitioner would be safe, and the pack could easily hold off on killing opponents if their deaths could help to fuel the protection and security of Salsola.
The Henchman had no idea of the goal he wished could be achieved by magic.  As of yet, much of what he’d seen was purely belief and faith, there was yet to be any tangible difference.  Again though, he would not close his mind to the avenue, any tool should be tried, even just to confirm that it could not be used.

[WC - 308]
(word count: 313)

Perception was half of reality. If someone perceived their company as innocent and devoid of weapons, then they would let their guard down more. They'd let a Salsolan with a garrote enter their most sacred of places if they thought it was a bracelet interlaced around their wrist. Angora would consider this more carefully later. Such things would take time to develop... and make sure they were not a risk to the wearer. If they were uncomfortable for someone to wear, there was no use in making them.

She considered his suggestion of harming prisoners with interest, though she was a bit surprised to hear it from Aidan. Wasn't his own presumed beau a former servant of the Kingdom? Did he truly think their lives meant so little? It felt odd to her. Silas was a full member now, of course, but that didn't mean he hadn't once been a wolf that would have been vulnerable to these ideas.

"It would depend upon the value of the life versus what we could gain." she said. "And whether we had a practitioner that would be confident in their ability to channel the magic once it was obtained. It's not a thing that can be stored, as far as I know, it would need to be done as the need to use it arose." this was the most basic information that seemed important about such sacrifices, but there was likely more to it.

Angora shook out the ruff at her neck and narrowed her eyes in thought. "The Coven would need to consider it carefully. It is not a thing done lightly or without the Boss's approval." though surely Aidan knew that. They couldn't very well be taking prisoners without approval from the Mafiosi... and she wasn't entirely sure it would be worth it right now. They were in a time of fairly reasonable peace.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory

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