[AW] the juniper bends as if you were listening
all welcome
#1
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All welcome. In Halifax, dated 19 September. Storm Lily is present but invisible.


At last Micah had forged the solitary trip to Halifax, pleased to have slipped from Cercatori d'Arte unquestioned and unaccompanied. He had met a small number of his packmates, most of which went unrecognized; it seemed many had come and gone in his two-year absence, and likely to Skye he was just another name in that list. He mattered little. They did not ask him questions, and so he kept to himself. It was best that way. He would not embarrass himself.


He remembered the spots of Halifax where spraypaint had been previously found and was delighted to discover them still primarily untouched. Spraypaint was a terribly limited resource, yet always present to scavenge from the underbelly of the rotting cities. His fellow wolves did not need them as he did. Without a doubt many admired the graffiti work of those that came before, still marking the walls as if not a day had passed, but such sights evidently did not inspire others as it did Micah. Given a brush and oils he could do little, but given a can of spraypaint and a wallface and Micah could replicate all that squirreled around in his tiny skull.


Emerging from a storefront of webs and broken glass the coyote eyed his reward: three filled cans of navy, white and auburn, and in an alleyway not far he found a fourth, emerald, partially filled and unresponsive. He took it anyway. Pulling the zipper of his blue hoodie to his collarbone the Lykoi sauntered to the back of a building of random selection, a piece of rear stone wall still standing and intact. With a tune on his tongue and a bit of a skip in his step Micah tested each new can on the wall with quick and simple waves of the arm; a swirl here, a wave pattern there. Finally, the white can dashed a small, unflattering and cartoon-like portrait of his sister who floated begrudgingly over his shoulder.


"There," he said to the invisible ghost, laughing into her disapproving frown. "See, I'm not wasting time. I drew you like I said I would."


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#2
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(435) Saw your lonely AW and decided I would throw Valerie at you :D Hope this is okay!

The cool weather was fast approaching, decaying leaves as it wandered fourth from where ever it had been hiding. However pretty the leaves would end up looking during the course of Autumn, Valerie was none too happy about the coming cold weather. Her lips were turned down into a small frown as she headed past the borders of her home and into places where she wasn't as protected, wielding nothing but her dagger, which was tucked away although easily accessible. Her ears -- which were somewhat larger than those of an average wolf because of the coyote blood she'd ended up with, a gift from her absent mother -- had turned backwards as she ambled towards Hailfax, one of the more interesting places she'd come across, even if she rarely visited the place.

An unbreaking silence had taken over the town, and even the birds hardly chirped. It was ghastly, and the quietness was not something the canine appreciated. As she continued walking through the place on cautious paws, she heard a slight hissing sound that was fairly unnatural to her. Curiously, she peered around one of the slabs on concrete, her nose twitching a bit to determine what the noise came from or who else was around. A dark canine, fur dappled in slight spots of gray, stood in front of a portrait of another wolf which seemed like it'd only been there for a few moments. And then he started talking, but to who she couldn't tell. As far as she knew, there wasn't anyone else around.

Thinking that maybe she just wasn't seeing the other, much more silent canine, the Cavalier stepped out from behind whatever it was she standing behind and wandered forwards, stepping lightly and carefully. The smell of Cercatori d'Arte touched her coal-colored nose and she loosened up a bit. Casa had good relations with the d'Artisans, that she knew. Although she didn't know if this individual was one of the nicer canines or if he was hostile, or something like that. Nevertheless, she continued forwards.

"Who are you talking to?" the Rhiannon-Knight asked. Her suspicions had been confirmed; there was no one else there. "Did you paint that? It's pretty," she continued, trying to seem friendly, which was something she always tried to do. "No wonder you're in Cercatori d'Arte," she continued with a small, hopeful grin spreading across her face. "I'm from Casa di Cavalieri, our packs are allies," she continued. Obviously, she didn't fear strangers, not in the slightest -- and, if her other suspicions were correct, there was no reason to fear this unfamiliar canine.

Image credit goes to John Carbone from Getty Images!

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#3
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He jumped at the voice as he did every time, and in some comical display the can in his hand went flying as he spun and pressed his back against the still-wet doodle on the wall. Arms extended as if to hide it. "Oh—" he gasped, frowning one moment then forcing nervous laughter the second, "—heh, um, yeah, I painted it but it's, um, n-n-not my best work or anything."


He took a deep and obvious breath as she continued speaking. The Cavalieri was nothing less than pleasant and charming, of course, but that was never enough reason for Micah to calm his nerves so quickly. The coyote considered grabbing whichever can of spraypaint he could reach first and coating the cartoon in a few second-long sprays, but that would not be enough to erase the picture from the woman's memory. He was labeled; it was too late. Her words were surely forced in their kindness to preserve the packs' supposed alliance. Deep down she must have already thought him a bumbling, talentless fool!


Chest thumping, the squirrely smile on his face wiggled around in all his attempts to remain calm and keep from panicking. "I-I-I've never met anyone from Casa," Micah stammered. "I, um, I heard they have a lot of weapons and training and, um, well, I don't have a-a-any practice like that so I haven't really t-talked to anyone from your pack, so..."


He squeezed his eyes shut a moment, breathed again, then stood straight and outstretched a hand — the back of which was now coated in bright white. "M-M-Micah Lykoi. I, um... Well, I jump easily. Sorry."


And a sheepish smile, one he would think pitiful and stupid. Any other might find the display endearing.

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#4
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(351) No problemo :3

A slightly confused look spread across her face as the male started talking, stuttering and spitting out his words. Oh. He's shy. Sudden realization flashed through her mind before she turned her expression into a kind one and set off to talking again, hoping that the coyote hybrid would start warming up to her in no time at all, however unlikely that notion seemed. "Really? It's not?" she said, pure surprise taking over her present expression when he spoke -- and it was real surprise, not something false, she hardly ever didn't mean what she said. "I wish I could see what your best looked like, then," the coywolf said with a somewhat encouraging smile. She didn't like it when people were skittish around her, it made her feel kind of scary or something along those lines.

He hadn't answered the question that she'd first asked, about who he was talking to, and she decided to leave that one untouched. She didn't want to sound mean, pushy, or arrogant by bringing up things he was obviously avoiding -- unless he simply hadn't heard her. Valerie looked to the picture again, ignoring the fact he was trying to cover it up. The d'Artisan started talking again, blabbering about something that had to do with Casa having weapons and being fighters. "Well, now you have," she stated with a confirming nod. "And we do have a lot of weapons and such, and I suppose it makes sense if you haven't met anyone from my back before -- my da stopped visiting d'Arte, and I guess we haven't sent anyone there for a bit. I've been thinking of going to d'Arte to see what it's like, though! I have half-siblings there, too," Valerie added, hoping that she wouldn't end up boring the spray-painter to death.

"And, it's nice to meet you, Micah," continued the Guarire, extending a padded hand for him to shake, if he used that sort of formalities. "Sorry if I scared you by coming out of nowhere and looking at your art," the coywolf added briskly, still holding out her hand.

Image credit goes to John Carbone from Getty Images!

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#5
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"Well," he said, smiling as he caught his breath, "um, I-I guess if you really want to see, y-you could stay... Just, umm, prepare to be d-disappointed, maybe."


It wasn't often he allowed for an audience. His work was an escape from the outside world, from viewers that might judge and scrutinize his work as so many did he himself. A chance to be free of the rattles and anxieties. To express. To visually verbalize, in a way, what he could not mutter in decent sentences. But he was afraid to say no to her, to put any weight on their packs' alliance, even if he knew doing so would have had no effect whatsoever. Micah worried for these things, these silly details. He knew he shouldn't, he knew he might have been blowing things out of proportion, and yet could control it no greater.


He realized he hadn't answered her very first question— whom he had been speaking to when she arrived. She had since failed to mention it again, and so it was not revisited though Storm Lily floated behind the woman's head making terrible faces all the while. Always competing for attention. The Cavalieri outstretched her hand and he took it, arm highlighted with white, his grip weak but palm warm.


"M-Maybe I should go there to learn how to, um, fight," he said, playing with his fingers a moment before forcing himself to stop and retrieve the can of white paint. He brushed a clean canvas across the face of his sister on the wall, and swiveled an ear when Storm Lily fussed and promptly disappeared. "I tried learning once, but... well, I-I-I haven't really done anything since. I wasn't very good at it."


"Don't, uhhh, don't worry about it, heh," he said finally, a tiny laugh escaping, as she apologized. He pulled the blue kerchief up over his snout and readied the can in the air, then paused to glance over his shoulder. "Y-You... um, you didn't tell me your name... or why you're even out here."

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#6
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(345) --

Valerie had never really watched someone draw before. She'd seen pictures in the books located in Casa's library, and she'd also seen her brother Alexander write something down, but never actual art. Even when Micah said she'd probably end up being disappointed by his work she continued to smile, hoping all of her grinning wasn't strange or anything. "Probably not," she said with a nod, glancing back over at the quick sketch she'd spotted after wandering over towards the speckle-furred canine. Valerie was still wondering who the wolf in the picture was. When he actually took her outstretched hand she gave it a shake and then released his humanoid paw, dropping her's down to her side again.

"Oh, yeah, if you actually wanted to I bet someone could show you something, since Casa and d'Arte are on such good terms and all . . . " the coywolf continued, taking on a less enthusiastic tone, mellowing out a bit. "And just because you aren't good at something doesn't mean you should stop practicing," she continued with a shrug. At least, that's what she thought, "That's what practicing is for -- getting better at stuff, I bet you practice painting a lot," continued the Knight girl, feeling as if she were blabbering too much. "I'll stop blabbering about that now," she added with a shy twitch of her ears and downwards look, kicking at a chunk of concrete.

Blinking bright yellow eyes, she listened to the rest of what the d'Artisan had to say, sucking in a breath when he pointed out she hadn't even introduced herself. "Oh, gosh, I didn't," she said with an apologetic look, before continuing to speak. "I'm Valerie Rhiannon Knight," she said with a tip of her head, some sort of a bow, before straightening back up again and trying to think of a reason for her actually being here. She honestly didn't know why she was. "Eh, and I'm just wandering around, I do that sometimes," Valerie said with a shrug of her shoulders, hoping that was a good enough reason for the Lykoi.

Image credit goes to John Carbone from Getty Images!

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#7
[html]

She was quite younger than him yet with twice the confidence, and for that Micah quietly envied her. Casa di Cavalieri lived well to its reputation; more than once he had heard of their endeavors and strength, and the apparent capability of one still so young among their ranks only impressed him more. Micah knew he could potentially learn how to handle a blade, but would never fit as a Cavalieri. He simply did not have the guts.


At his modest remark Valerie answered a simple "probably not" and the coyote frowned. Most would take the comment in stride and use it as a means to boost their own esteem, but not Micah. She had already placed high expectations on him. She had faith in his abilities that he might be of some talent and good impression. It was a sudden weight of pressure, a sudden necessity to do well, and in that moment Micah realized he could not bear to paint a thing. He could not let her down.


"Um," he said, glancing at the blank wall, thinking quickly. "Maybe, umm, maybe you'd like to try inst-stead, Valerie."


Micah offered to her the can of red spraypaint from the ground and stepped back, heart pounding and nervous smile on his face. Anything to keep himself from pushing her away with his incapabilties. "Mi-might be more interesting than just, umm, 'wandering around,' heh. Right?"

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#8
[html]
(309) sorry about the wait and sucky post

The coywolf shrank backwards quite a bit as soon as he suggested that maybe she should try spray-painting something. She shuffled her paws almost nervously, a definite contrast from her earlier attitude. Valerie was most definitely not an artist -- she was a fighter, and didn't do much else, aside from reading and writing (although those things were required for her to learn). The girl wasn't sure if Micah was just suggesting that so that he could get out of drawing or if he wanted to see if she was as good of an artist, but Valerie wasn't about to disappoint the d'Artisan. "Oh, uh, sure," she said, reaching out padded fingers to grab the bottle of spray paint. Another reason she didn't want to paint something -- the girl didn't want to waste his art supplies.

"Yeah, probably," she continued with a small smile in response to his next statement, straightening up and regaining her courage again, hoping not to disappoint the Lykoi with her horrible art skills. She stared at the bottle for a moment and then turned it towards the blank spot on the wall, taking in a breath because she assumed breathing in the paint wouldn't be a good idea. The Guarire pressed down on the top, moving her hand until she was all finished with her drawing, which was a pitiful outline of a red flower with five petals and a tiny circle on the inside.

She sighed and then held out the spray paint for Micah to take, looking somewhat distraught by her lack of art skills. "Not nearly as good as yours," she pointed out, glancing over at his painting and then back at her childish flower. "I can hardly tell that it's supposed to be a flower," the girl continued, hoping that the other coywolf wasn't too disappointed with her skills.

Image credit goes to John Carbone from Getty Images!

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#9
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The moment she took the can he felt guilty. Her heart was not in it, that much was obvious; Valerie painted only to appease him, and she did so with her elbows tucked, shoulders stiff and back straight. Ears folded back, the coyote considered her every movement, thinking she as awkward with paint in her hands as he would be with a weapon. So opposite, and yet their packs were allied. Was it the proximity between Cercatori and the Cavaliers that forced them to find things in common?


Taking a breath in the wake of her spoken discouragement, Micah summoned false courage and replied, "Well, umm, here. Let me help you a second."


If she allowed it, the coyote would place a trembling hand over her own atop the spraycan and extend her arm out across to its fullest length. His second hand would touch at her shoulder just briefly, just enough to lead her so that she stood further back and at a slight angle, the wall further still than the full length of her arm.


"Okay," he said, moving her hand in wide circles, "it's, umm, it's kind of like a dance. You have to put your whole body into it—think of it like, uhh, like swordplay. That's, well, that's how all art works, you know? Even music. It really thrives on everything you put into it."

Then he removed the kerchief from his collar and made to tie it around her snout, if she so allowed. "There. Now try, okay? I-I know you will feel better this time. Honest."

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#10
[html]
315 words → sorry for the wait and poor post!

Valerie accepted his help without hesitation, noting how shaky the Lykoi male seemed to be, wishing she could think of a way to help him be less shy, although Val was sure that there wasn't much she could to about that. Arm moving to whichever position he adjusted it too. She moved backwards, did whatever else it was she had him do, and then chuckled lightly when he told her to think of it like swinging a sword around. "Got it," she said with a grin, lowering her arm for a second since it was getting a bit tired from being held up for so long while she attempted to paint. The Cavalier didn't stop him when he tied the kerchief around her muzzle, grateful for the piece of fabric hanging between her and the oddly-smelling air, littered with particles of paint that she had more than likely gotten in her fur.

Keeping Micah's advice fresh in her head, she moved over and set to drawing something else, moving her entire arm as she did so, considering the stream of paint the blade of a sword as she worked, which helped a small bit although she still thought she was horrible at this form of art. Her finished product was something slightly odd -- a large pair of red eyes staring straight at her and the coyote hybrid, dripping red. She shook her head and removed the kerchief from her muzzle, looking somewhat disappointed by her word yet again. "I don't think this kind of art is for me," she proclaimed, holding out the fabric and paint can for Micah to take, wishing she was much less disappointing. "I think I'd be better with just a pencil and paper," she continued, laughing again, somewhat nervously this time although she was at least trying to keep a light air that wasn't tense or anything like that.

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#11
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The granite coy grinned and looked on with great exuberance as she rearranged herself and set back to work. No, Valerie did not possess much confidence in her ability, most likely because she lacked any practice, and a faulty self-esteem could drag away the inspiration for any artist—Micah would know that best. But in her movements, restricted and tight as they still were, he recognized the stance of a warrior, of someone who ordinarily worked against leaving themselves as open as she was forced to at that moment. It made sense that she was uncomfortable, and though Micah did not force her to continue he offered genuine words of encouragement and praise here and there.


The end result startled him: two bloody eyes staring into his soul. The coyote was not sure why images of the birdcage from Halifax flashed immediately into his mind, or why his heart began to throttle in his chest. Before she turned around, Micah glanced wildly over his shoulders, feeling at once under surveillance, a target of a hunt, and struggled to shake the chills when Valerie smiled and turned without noticing.


He tried not to show the terror, but had never been good at suppressing his emotions. Micah offered her a timid smile and took the can and bandana with increasingly tremored hands. "Y-Yeah, umm, i-i-it's okay if you feel that way," he said. "I-I'm sorry if I pressured you."


How he wished he could throw paint over those eyes, those bloody eyes, and erase them both from sight and memory! He took a deep breath and turned his back to them, shrugging. "Y-Y-You're not bad, though, honest. These eyes even cre-creep me out a little—err, like, in a good way. Are they, uhh, like, do they be-belong to someone you know?"

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#12
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Valerie was being a bit shy herself because of Micah, not wanting to frighten him or anything of the sort, although believed she had already done so with the eyes. She thought about snatching the paint cat out of his hands and covering them up -- out of mind and out of sight -- but thought that would be much too rude of a thing to do. She watched as he took back the can of paint and the bandanna with trembling hands and then dropped her own to her side, staring at the eyes which seemed to bore straight into her own, staring right at her soul. She blinked, deciding to suggest that the d'Artisan could paint over them if he so desired after he had finished speaking. "Oh, no, it's okay -- nice to try new things, you know," she said quietly, flicking one of her ears, attention drawn to her horrific bleeding creation again.

"You can paint over them if you want, I was just drawing whatever came to mind -- eyes, and the only color you had was red," she said, shoulders rolling in a slight shrug as she spoke, hoping that she didn't frighten Micah off with her ridiculousness. She had even scared herself with the art and was honestly quite embarrassed by it. "And uh, yeah, paint over it if you want, I don't mind," she continued a bit more nervously, still wanting to snatch the paint can away and do away with the drawing herself (although she wasn't about to do that, since it was still rude).

sorry for the shorter post +264 words


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#13
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She suggested covering the eyes with new paint and Micah bit his tongue to keep from agreeing too suddenly. He couldn't have her misunderstand. It was good work and he felt a level of pride in watching the novice bring a piece into fruition, but those eyes—something about those eyes chilled him. Followed him. He had to be just imagining it...


"N-No, you should be proud of it," he said, summoning false courage and a wimpy smile. "Really. Even if you, umm, don't like painting, y-you should still respect yourself for trying, right? I-I-I don't want to cover it up."


He took a deep breath and put his back to the wall once more as he began to gather his things into a satchel. "Home is a bit of a trek a-and Cercatori is nearby, so I-I-I'll walk you back, if you'd like." He relished gracious company, after all, and the sooner he could escape from the stare on the wall, the better.

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#14
[html]
sure! maybe one more post from you? and sorry for my stinky posts >.<[256]

Through squinted yellow eyes, the girl started at the eyes she had painted on the wall, not at all impressed by her own work. Although Micah claimed they were impressive she believed no such thing and they were honestly creeping her out. Valerie wished he'd agreed to covering them up, though she didn't care much anymore. Giving a shrug and a huff of breath, she turned to the salt and pepper hybrid as he spoke, ears turned towards him, attentive as always. She was respectful, of course, even though the d'Artisan was more bashful than anyone she had ever met before. "Well, I'm not," the Cavalier said with another shrug of her shoulders, twitching her tail as she gave the work one last look. "Guess I tried, though," she added in slight agreement, turning back to the canine again.

A quiet smile spread across her maw at his offer, surprised he'd even want to do something like walk her home because Valerie honestly thought she was someone who'd be walking other people home. "Oh, sure, I'd like that," she confirmed with a brisk nod of her head, ready to head off whenever he was. "Um, maybe when I get around to visiting my half-siblings in d'Arte you could show me some of your more impressive paintings?" Valerie suggested lightheartedly, and wouldn't be hurt at all if he didn't want to show her any of his other paintings. Valerie was interested in his art, still, and would probably walk to Casa's neighbor pack just to see it.

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#15
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With the eyes on the wall at his back Micah could breathe, could hear Valerie again. He could not force her pride nor manipulate her eyes to see the same beginnings of a talent for the arts the coyote had witnessed, but he did not mind it. His mother once preached that the Great Mother blessed each living being on this earth with a purpose and talent; though he had reservations about gifts by the spirits Micah knew he was to paint, and perhaps Valerie was to fight. He need not direct her way when it had already been found, and Micah smiled.


The d'Artisan gathered what remained of his belongings into his satchel and readied for departure, leading her through the alleyway and back into the street, grateful for company on the short walk home. His art, impressive? The coyote bit his tongue. "I would like that," he said, and though his art was so rarely shown Micah added with a grin, "You are always welcome to come by, Valerie."

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