[P] Legend has it
That the moss grows on the north side of the trees
OOC: Lorien is in Secui form.
Set on the western edge of Court of Fangs in the afternoon.

Lorien meandered.

Something Kaleidoscope told him recently stuck with him. It was a stubborn burr of a reminder trapped in his fur. He apparently reminded Ida of someone they knew before - loved before. They told him it was not a haunting memory, but that did little to quell how conflicted he felt.

As he was a Lifeguard, the Chief’s expectation for him was to protect the Camp. This was not solely his duty. Bloom was a powerful and unflappable Lifeguard herself. Beth’s primary Calling was to guide, but Lorien still considered her a Lifeguard in her own right. Camp Eclipse did not require his guardianship so much today.

The dark depths of Nanin’s heart and the languid riversoul of Nin beckoned with more urgence this time.

Lorien was never one to refuse a call from Osoa.

What he was on the search for, Lorien knew not. He would know it when it found him. Everything happened for a reason. That was why Nanin connected them all in His uninterrupted circles. This manifested in patterns throughout the natural world. Golden spirals and worn pathing snaked along the land.

Lorien noticed the path here was worn under canine paws. He dipped his muzzle low and sniffed the paw-beaten earth curiously.
The air was balmy that afternoon, with the slightest breeze blowing the forest was comfortable and cool. Things had been quiet in Ethereal Eclipse – their neighbors had been called away to some event far in the north. Oblivious to the goings-on of the Lancaster Stockshow, Oberyn paid little attention to what the Cavalieri busied themselves with. By and large they did not bother one another. The Fangs were able to live without interference or threat, and they in turn did not bother those who lived behind the walls of the fort or within the reclaimed cities of the dead.

He imagined one day he would need to take his children there, so they could see what Luperci civilization outside of their forest was like. Oberyn worried that this exposure might bedevil his offspring. With any luck this would not lead to them abandoning their upbringing and feral ways, but only time would tell.

Had Harley found others like them on her journey? Oberyn thought of her often and feared that bringing Nikamew in had been part of the reason for her departure, but she had seemed very earnest about her intentions. Perhaps one day she would return with a collective in tow – remnants of older ways like their own.

These idle thoughts helped pass the time as he loped through the forest. As a scout, part of his assumed duty was to keep an eye on things. By and large he didn't find much, and often merely explored as he wished. There were many places that were more frequented by their collective these days, however, including the trail he crossed onto when he split from the deeper brush.

A few yards down this path, an unfamiliar, musky scent entered his nose. This male was a stranger. He did not smell like the local area. Concerned, Oberyn frowned and went to seek out the source.

The wolf – except he wasn't all wolf, not with his cocked ears and soft looking fur – was sniffing around the trail. Well aware this might lead him to their densite, Oberyn decided to be prudent and intercept him here.

Bonjour! Oberyn woofed. While his posture was non-threatening, there was an obvious wariness to his expression and in the way his fur had prickled along his shoulders. Given the fact that the larger Secui was not a local, Oberyn believed he had every reason to exercise caution. “Are you looking for something?”
As predicted, what he searched for found him.

Lorien did not know what Osoa intended with this encounter. The enigmatic machinations of anything deific were inherently beyond someone like him. It was beyond the individual that stood before him too. His eyes were bright as a polished pair of emerald beads. Light cream and tawny earth spread over his fur. His frame was of true sturdiness, a trait Lorien shared with him. This newcomer – or rather, the welcomer – had the imposing and strong impression that a wolf’s large skull had.

When he called to him with a word he did not recognize, Lorien backed up and lowered his head in respect. He had to make it clear he intended no harm, lest he bring danger back to his family. This soul was just like him, he was sure of it. He smelled like he dwelled with numerous others here. He had not truly intruded, but he was borderline.

”What was that?”

He was perplexed by what he said. Maybe he misspoke, or Lorien misheard.

”Oh, hello. My name is Lorien Coara, Lifeguard of Camp Eclipse. I believe I am. I was sent to search for something – out of place. Something foreign. Something that must be removed, destroyed or cleansed,” he mused.

Lorien flicked his ears apologetically to make his struggle to convey the idea apparent. Interpreting what his distressing visions told him was difficult. The imagery was all so vague and seemingly random at times. He was told following the messages within was not rational, but his mother bade he remain dedicated to their faith. That was her dying wish.

”Something dying or damaged, likely in need of help. Consider this an offer of my aid in apology for intruding, if you could use any.”
Though the gray Luperci made a show of respect, the longer he spoke, the more Oberyn's expression turned stern.

While the man might not have meant his words to have this effect, they suggested to the Slipstream that this “thing” he was searching for might have been the Court of Fangs. They were out of place compared to the larger packs in the area, and lived a lifestyle that others might not view favorably. Did word of their band spread to others who, seeing their numbers being small, considered them a damaged collective?

Worse, was the man seeking to cleanse them?

“What I said to you?” Oberyn asked, carefully crossing so that he might form a barrier between the stranger and the densite proper. “A greeting, that was all.”

His nose was working hard – seeking clues about the stranger. He smelled like others too. Were they here, hiding in wait? Would this be an ambush like the one he had suffered in his youth, when he had been beaten nearly to death?

“I don't know what you seek, stranger, but we are not this...blight, or whatever it is you are after. If anything is unnatural here it is what has been built beyond those walls to the north,” he added with a gruff noise. If this man was seeking trouble, the Cavalieri would certainly determine this and have the power to stop whatever this man was truly intent on doing.
The luperci’s face hardened. Lorien felt a twist in his gut and wished dearly he was better with diplomacy. He was more offputting than charismatic, something Eclipsians like Bloom or Liam usually were there to complement and cover him for.

”Baw-shore? A greeting? Interesting,” he said.

It tasted strange on his tongue, butchered and broken beyond just a borrowed loanword. He allowed the stranger more room than before. Gwen would surely have Lorien's head if he offended someone of another group. Her tongue lashing was a daily event, so Lorien could not imagine what she would think a fair enough punitive measure for that.

”I’m sorry, I meant nothing against you by it. I am on a mission. I suppose this means the walls to the north are my next clue. Where are they, and why are the stone mountain walls there unnatural?”

Lorien turned his head northward. The trees and other works of nature hid the horizon from him. He thought he should climb a tree or something taller to find his way, should he be provided direction. The luperci that intercepted him was likely not too open to much further conversation than that, Lor thought.
Bonjour,” Oberyn repeated patiently, emphasizing the sounds. He was teaching his children in the same way – they had picked up on the French and Slovak words easily enough, and far faster than either parent had with the new languages. To their father, who was biased, this confirmed that their twins were even smarter than he had expected. They did not need to learn in such formal, stiff manners to expand their minds. The world and those who helped raise them would do that well enough.

The wolfdog made a throaty hmm noise as the man explained himself.

Someone had sent him, he said. Another living creature, perhaps. If this wolfdog answered to another Luperci it was possible he had been told to seek out the weak, so that the others might follow. From the way he spoke of a “mission”, Oberyn could easily imagine some militaristic ruler looking for grounds and people to conquer. If that was the case, then the Cavalieri would crush them underfoot as they had so many others.

Perhaps the stranger was a zealot. There was nothing wrong with believing, of course. Oberyn believed in the God of Abraham, like his father before him. His mate didn't seem to put much stock in spiritualism. Vannin and Elkin had shared stories from their old pack, many of which Oberyn had found stuck. It helped turn the forces of nature into personalities that could be reasoned with, and this was no different than any act of prayer.

“They are walls to a fort – a thing left behind from the age of man,” the wolfdog explained. “But since the time of my forefathers the Cavalieri have lived behind those walls. If anything is unnatural here, it is wolves living like that.” The bite in his tone had not left, but it found a new focus as Oberyn expressed his thoughts on the humanized Luperci pack.

His eyes glittered with suspicion. “Who sent you here, stranger?”

[Image: wolfmoon.gif]  Word of the day   Jolabokaflod - 9/6/23

”Bonjour. Ohh, I see. Thank you.”

Lorien was not so inclined toward picking up foreign language as other luperci were. He struggled to keep up with new vocabulary. It frustrated Lorien whenever Liam and Kule conversed heavily in the latter’s odd mother tongue. He knew Liam did that around him because Lorien did not know it or other languages, including French… yet.


He echoed it one more time for practice’s sake.

”The Cavalieri? Ah, I know of them. Have they truly remained behind those walls for so long? Hmm,” he hummed. ”What is the Age of Man? Also, I believe I forgot to ask – what is your name?”

Lorien had yet to form a full opinion on the soul that stood before him. Through the course of their conversation, he noticed more. Scars rippled their ways over his pelt of innocent white, warm sunshine, and earthen brown. He appeared similar to Lorien in age. From where he stood, he knew that the two of them had radically different pasts and divergent paths forth for it.

For today, their paths intersected. Lorien believed that was for a reason.

The man asked him another question. Lorien had a simple answer. He smiled. An opportunity to further speak his faith into reality brought him joy. It felt like jolabokaflod.

”My god.”
The man spoke the word, getting a taste for it. Oberyn knew from experience that learning a language was difficult – he had lost most of his father's tongue due to lack of use, something only just now becoming more common as he taught his children. They spoke their mother's far easier than he did, with a speed and cadence that suggested native fluency. As long as they stayed here, they would be able to keep that.

Of course, plenty of this depended on the Court of Fangs enduring. That was part of why Oberyn was so suspicious of this man, who claimed to be questing for something meant to be destroyed.

Only when he revealed the truth of the matter did the Slipstream realize what was driving him.


Oberyn's body stiffened. He smiled, but it was forced now. The last thing his family needed was some stranger proselytizing and claiming he had visions. Vannin was perturbed enough by the spirits he alone understood (or did not, being ethereal and difficult things as they seemed to be).

Did he know what he sounded like, this man? From his expression, Oberyn doubted that he saw anything wrong with this claims – coming to another man's home and preaching about the need to remove things that did not belong. If he had thought of their little enclave, Oberyn was certain that the others (his mate and Nikamew in particular) would do the same. Harley might have chased him off outright if she was here.

“Is that so?” The wolfdog asked, but did not wait for a response. “They have live in that manner since before I was born. The things which built those walls built that old city north of us, and all like it. Those are the works of that age. I heard stories, when I was younger, about Man – an animal who was created by God, but doomed and lay low. Perhaps that is the abomination you seek.”

His eyes remained fixed on Lorien, as if waiting for him to strike.

“I am Oberyn Haskel, of the Court of Fangs. I'm afraid you won't find what you are looking for among our people.” From the tone of his voice, it was clear Oberyn was insisting upon this latter point.
OOC: Jeez, fine, I'll go! Was it something I said?

”Yes, it is s – … Hmm. I will check it out, then.”

Oberyn talked over him when Lorien tried to interject again. He let it happen. He was on this man’s turf. He had done enough Reaver raids with Hokori to know that he needed to leave these people alone. Unless he had a death wish, that was. They outnumbered him handily. Hokori was not here, and neither were any of his former pack-mates, or any of the Eclipsians, for that matter.

Oberyn Haskel’s eyes evaluated Lorien with what could only be suspicion. He was well-acquainted with that. Everyone always blamed the Dark Heart of Vengeance for their misfortunes until the real threat showed itself from the shadows.

Real danger came with no warning and gave no luxury of foresight. If Lorien came here to strike, he would have done it before these people knew what hit them. However, they had done nothing to earn it in his eyes. In fact, the Court of Fangs seemed to have the right idea. Lorien liked living closer to the land. Gwen insisted he wear their ceremonial robes all the time, but all Lorien wanted to do was sink into a bog and lay there forever.

They all would return to the foundations of decay one day.

This was very, very far from the first time someone suspected he was insane. The accusations that Lorien was a real lunatic of a luperci lapped at the corners of childhood memory with taunting fingers and laughing smiles.

Lorien chose to shrug it all off. He had things to do, places to be. He would go nowhere if he let the doubts of nonbelievers get to him. Gwen would surely reprimand him worse for allowing this to get under his skin.

Different strokes for different folks.

”Well met. I’m not afraid, and you shouldn’t be either. I think your people are good, not doomed at all like ‘Man’ was.”

Lorien turned tail and vanished for the north.
It was unfortunate that their meeting had gone this way. Perhaps if they had met under different circumstances, Oberyn and Lorien might have found the common ground between them. They could have waxed philosophical about the way so many Luperci were removing themselves from the old ways, and even delved into the more complex nature of the spirit and soul. Oberyn might have enjoyed the idea of these lesser gods of the forest and streams, just as he humored the names Elkin and Vannin used when they spoke of these primal forces.

Alas, it was not to be.

The wild-eyed man misinterpreted his words. Oberyn could not tell if he meant this in jest, or if it was merely more of his fanatical talk. He was different from the last man who claimed allegiance to Camp Eclipse, but not in a way which cast them in a favorable light. It had been months since that encounter, though, and Oberyn did not have communication with the north. Isolated by design, the Court of Fangs was removed from the little pockets which had sprung up in the wake of New Caledonia's disaster.

Still, Lorien seemed to think positively of the Fangs. If he was here to cause problems, perhaps this meant he would leave them alone. Oberyn resolved to warn his people about Camp Eclipse and its followers, uncertain of their motives. He would ask one of the Cavalieri when he next spoke with them.

The long-faced dog turned back the way he had come. Oberyn lingered.

Then, after enough time had passed, he tailed the man's route until he was satisfied of his departure.

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