[AW] On the brink
The Pictou River
Morrow is doing a border patrol (he is in Lupus form) when he finds a scrap of miscellaneous fabric in the Pictou River (maybe it belongs to you?). Thread takes place on the eastern border, late morning. Anyone welcome - want to make a new loyal friend? Want to be a big meanie to an easy-to-target social outcast? Be my guest! ;)


The change in seasons was creeping up on them. Morrow was determined not to be blindsighted by it - he observed the woods on his rounds every day, and noted each tiny change as it occured. Summer had been a surprisingly pleasant time for the hound. He had managed to remain largely unnoticed by Salsola Proper, which was his preference of late. Most of his days had been filled with little explorations into the lawless lands beyond their borders; few of these expeditions turned up anything fruitful, but all had been useful in giving him better general knowledge of the Peninsula itself.

When he wasn't venturing into the unknown, Morrow attempted to make himself useful by fulfilling his scouting duties. He had almost worn a meandering track through the Greater Pine Barrens via repetition, but stuck to the natural routes alongside the gurgling Pictou for his patrol of the eastern border.

The river was a reliable companion - day by day it changed very little, but was full of small curiosities that never failed to lift his spirits. Waterbirds that he could not name came and went, driven by their strange internal mechanics to follow a invisible route north, then south, then north again. Some days the water was clear enough to see the shimmer of little silver-scaled fish (he finally knew better than to try and catch them, although sometimes the urge was truly irresistable). Morrow knew the spots where the water was shallow enough to walk in up to his belly. He knew to avoid where the current was deep and strong, disguised by a glassy surface that looked welcoming to the unwary eye.

On very rare occassions, such as today, the river even brought him gifts.

At first he overlooked it, having more concern for the placement of his large paws on the big grey boulders that flanked the river this close to the feet of the mountain range. But it stubbornly caught in the corner of his eye until at last the large dog turned to look - what a strange little fish, tangled in the eddy crook between an old white-washed log and a snaring tangle of river reeds!

Only, it wasn't a fish at all. The closer he got, the more curious Morrow became. He sniffed at the shimmery thing in the water to no avail. Finally - braving the edge of the river itself - he got a better look at the treasure.

It was a length of fine cloth. A scarf, maybe, or a kerchief, or a waist wrap. Morrow (ever burdened as he was to his four legged form) had precious little knowledge about the intricacies of clothing. He carefully retrieved the scrap of fabric, and pulled it from the water. Mouth dripping, he deposited it on flattest nearby boulder for closer inspection. Where had this fabric come from - was somebody swimming upstream? Perhaps doing their washing?

Baffled, the hound lifted his head in the direction of the distant mountains.

[Image: sl_corank.png] Prompt [923/1,200] Practice your beliefs or faith — this can be anything from a sacrifice, creating altars/artifacts, casting a spell, a blood-rite, imbuing a magical item, an exorcism, etc., be creative! Even a spooky prayer or song will work!

”Dad said you have to help me, Uncle.”

Lev blinked his bleary eyes open. He found sweetly blissful slumber prior to this disturbance. His nephew sat uncomfortably close to his face at the side of the bed. The sudden appearance of a starkly painted clown’s face scared the daylights out of him.

”Boo! Haha. You need to be less jumpy, Uncle Lev.”

Lev groaned, but he sat up without complaint. He clutched his blanket close to his front. Egregore remained vague in answer when Lev asked if his niece or nephews knew what he was. He dismissed it as an irrelevant and trivial matter whenever it came up.

”It doesn’t matter. We’re all the same blood. What happens in our House stays in our House.”

Lev did not like how Dar looked at him. That smile was knowing.

”Fine, and what does your father want of me?”

As they spoke, Lev felt awake enough to notice what else Dar wore. A shimmery scarf wrapped itself loosely around Dar's neck. Innokentiy must have given it to her son as a gift or something.

”He wants you to take me to Pictou River. He said that’s where I can call on the spirits better, because of the water,” Dar babbled. ”It’s like a leyline! Like how me and Indigo talked about with Warden Nickodemus.”

Lev just nodded along. He had no clue what Dar talked about. He mentioned Sky Brothers, ghosts, divination, blood rituals, all things occult. All things potent slavic magic and all things odd. It called back eerily to Lev’s time spent in St. Petersburg. The flavor of those memories turned bitter in his mouth. How quickly that sweetness soured in retrospect.

”I know your father would not say such a thing. This is something that Sanctus Apprentice or jester told you.”

Dar grimaced. He opened his mouth to argue. Lev spoke before Dar could begin a defense.

”Not to worry. I am on your side. If we are lucky, we may run into someone that can help us with your strange rituals – or whatever you want to call them.”


The wind chilled Lev to the bone more and more as the distance from home – and more importantly, the Library – grew. Autumn smothered summer until it was nothing more than a cooling corpse. Lev’s warm pelt turned summers into uncomfortable affairs. He should have felt relief.

Dar’s oddly familiar practices tainted the potential for that today.

The young man (if not an immature boy still) skipped alongside his uncle with that mischievous smirk of his. Egregore’s trademark shark grin haunted as a predator’s threat. Dar’s smug smiles did not make his intentions clear at all.

Lev’s nephew tightened his lips to whistle up a haunting tune. Lev bristled instinctively. Whistling may be innocuous in the eyes of other Salsolans, but House Prizmov had a different meaning attached to the sound. Lev lingered farther behind his charge out of dread.

Their family oft said ghosts followed their bloodkin when they whistled.

”Dar, stop. I do not like this.”

Dar ignored him. He removed the scarf he wore about his neck with unwinding fingers. The fabric caught the sunlight. The article transformed it from something natural into something that appeared unnaturally animate.

”Spirits of the natural world, hear my prayer! Give me the resources and blessing of fortune I need to make it through the rest of this moon. What goes up must come down, right?”

Dar let the scarf fly into and sink under the river's water. It swam away from the two of them like a fish would. Openmouthed, Lev watched it go.

”So mote it be, so mote it be, so mote it be,” Dar chanted.

The fabric snagged on reed and wood. Much to Lev’s alarm, a wild animal of some sort swam forth on four legs and took it for itself.

”Uh. Dar, I believe something has stolen your scarf.”

”Really? Yay, it worked!”

Dar darted through the underbrush with zeal. Lev gave chase. He could not afford to lose sight of his nephew, not while they snuck around without Egregore’s awareness.

Lev broke from cover to see Dar harassing what turned out to be a luperci, not some other creature. This was not what Lev expected. He heard with shock what Dar said to him first.

”Woah, you’re different! Why are you in lupus? Weird,” Dar commented.

The stress Dar gave Lev with the rest of their kin increased day by day. He was unhappy with Egregore currently, yet he still had to keep Dar in check for his brother. Lev had to avoid the potential for later conflict after the mess he made recently.

”<Dar, do not be so rude. You didn't even introduce yourself first.>”

Lev chastised Dar in Ukrainian. The jester boy's ear twitched in irritated acknowledgment. Lev swung his head to their fellow.

”I am Confidant Lev Prizmov. Please excuse him. He is still young.”

Lev was quick to play damage control. Dar, like the rest of his siblings, did not go out much yet. His nephew liked to sneak out and about to do these little rituals. They did not involve other Salsolans up until Dar met Arbiter Angora Valentine. The sensitivity to societal convention had yet to internalize in this young, macabre little mind.

”Whatever. I’m Dar Prizmov. Family. You found my gift so you helped my spell, thank you! Who’re you?”

OOC: Hope you don't mind lil ol' me ;) Let me know if anything should be changed!
thanks for joining! I wasn't sure if the painted clown face you mentioned was facepaint on Dar himself, or a clown mask that he was no longer wearing when they meet by the river - went with the first assumption because it's fun to give Morrow a big fright, but it's an easy fix if that's not the case! also made some minor assumptions about Lev and Dar's scents (sniffing is Morrow's life), let me know if I need to change anything :3


It was unusual for Morrow to hear company before he smelled it, but the creature that crashed through the undergrowth toward him was making no effort to disguise its approach. Briefly alarmed, the hound's body tensed, instinctively readying itself for the threat of the unknown.

When the garishly painted face exploded from the foliage and into view, the scout nearly leapt out of his skin. He recoiled with a yelp onto the flat boulders flanking the riverbed and just barely refrained from careening backward into the rushing water that swelled beyond them; one of his back paws splashed warningly into the current's edge.

Just as quickly as he had been startled, the hound's ever-keen nose began to feed information to his shocked brain regarding the underlying truth of what his eyes could scarcely comprehend. No, this was not some otherworldly demon summoned by the infamous coven witches, come to hunt him for the sins of his ancestors - nor was it a spectre at all, but a living, breathing luperci, the stuff of flesh and bone. His nose reassured him of this with each deep sniff: the stranger smelled strongly of Salsola Proper, of old dusty parchment, and of the rich clay-type pigments that had been used to paint his face in the mimicry of a jester. He was a boy, just barely on the cusp of manhood; and, quite importantly, he was not alone.

A second figure, chasing the first, rushed belatedly onto the scene.

This new man was older, a true adult. By the disgruntled and harried expression he wore, Morrow imagined that he was currently serving as something of an unwilling guardian for the boy, who had immediately begun a barrage of observations and questions.

The hound did not answer right away. It simply wasn't possible for him to process all this new information so quickly. He blinked wide brown eyes up at the two as the cogs between his floppy ears churned and churned. Finally his heart rate began to settle, and the raised ridge of hackles that ran the length of his spine eased down and became indistinguishable from the rest of his short, mottled pelt.

"... Confidant Prizmov, yes - uh, hello, and hello to you too, Dar Prizmov," What was it with House Prizmov lately - it seemed like members of this strange bloodline were sneaking up on him all over the place!

"I'm Tradesman Morrow Larue-"

His words stumbled short as the boy spoke again. Morrow turned his head to follow the gesture of Dar's arm as he pointed at the sodden length of material, now slowly drying in the sun near the hound's feet.

"Oh! This is yours? A gift? I - I don't understand," The boy spoke very quickly, and with great animation. It took a lot of focus for the hound to follow his words, and even then, there was a wide gap of understanding that he didn't have the context to fill. This wasn't a big deal; Morrow liked children, and he knew well enough that their minds tended to run along much like the river, full of babbling flashes of light, and submerged deeper thoughts that were hard to percieve. Amicable now that he knew he was in the company of fellow Salsolan kinsmen, the hound's skinny tail gave an uncertain wag, a gesture of his goodnatured demeanor in spite of the unsettling scenario.

"I was just making my patrol rounds," It was important that he deflect any curiosity the boy had as to why he was on all fours.

"I'm a Vedetto. This form keeps my nose closer to the ground, where it's easier for me to pick up any unusual tracks. What are you two doing out here - a spell, did you say? Are you witches?"

OOC: Aw it’s my pleasure!
No worries, the assumptions are super accurate actually, niceee

Dar hounded the hound.

Horror dawned on Lev. Dar was so similar to his Shield father yet so different in many ways. Thanks to Sabriel’s ‘prophecy’, Dar was labeled an outcast and black sheep since before his birth. He rebelled against Egregore, which frightened Lev. He was too bold.

Worst of all, he did not know yet when to stop treating someone else like his next meal.

Dar ignored Morrow’s questions. He just skipped in a circle around the hapless Vedetto and Linguista. He picked up the whistle again. Lev scooted in closer to Morrow, as if he could help him – which, Lev knew he could not. The air turned colder as Dar’s whistling swirled its way over a haunting melody.

Lev thought he heard something in the water. He did not dare look. It was better to be ignorant.

”The four-leg bound sniffer! He who does not understand, your death comes quicker. Wake up quick, fool, or you will find yourself locked in a cypher!” Dar sang.

Dar continued to circle around the two of them, a shark with the same blood-sniffing grin his father had. His skipping legs tightened the circle he ran around the two of them with each revolution the Prizmov boy made. He lifted his hands above his head in a dance.

”He who fears our kin’s nature! You ignore our bloody way, so you are nothing more than ornature. Beware, lest it be cut mercilessly short; the death of your overture,” The jester's song continued.

Lev’s eyes flew wide. When Egregore talked like that, it was a sign to run. Every word of what Dar said felt like a curse classic to their homeland.

”Dar, seriously, knock it off.”

The clown stopped with a little hop. He tilted his head at both Morrow and Lev.

”Why? You’re a freak, you’re a freak, and I’m a freak. Does it matter if I’m calling the ghosts from the river with my whistling? Nah. You need to be less jumpy, uncle.”

Dar leapt forth. He landed squarely in front of Morrow and Lev, and a strand of his silvery-white hair strayed into his face paint. It plastered itself in the blood-red crimson on his cheeks. He leaned in close to the two of them.

”BOO!” Dar roared.

Lev fainted. Dar cackled a deep, gravelly, grinding, awful evil laugh.

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