it’s long been nothing but a graveyard

POSTED: Mon May 11, 2020 6:18 pm

Fundy National Park, mid-afternoon, overcast. Bennett is in Optime form.

Not all lessons were the same.

His father trained him as well as he could, and that was even with Bennett's tendency to rebel. He had always been like this – angry, seeking resolution no living person could provide – and often took it out on others.

It had been that girl, first. Through no fault of her own, she had become part of the violence that had eclipsed his own life. Shooting her hadn't done anything. He hadn't felt better, only worse – not because he had shot her, but because there had been witnesses, and because she had lived. If no one knew what he had done, it wouldn't have mattered at all.

Still, he had begun to worry less and less about all these what-ifs, and indeed no longer lost sleep over such things. It had been long enough that he considered himself in the clear. He had already dismissed the incident in Bathurst as some sort of peculiar stranger seeking who-knows-what. To hurt him, he supposed.

By and large, Bennett stayed close to Mistfell Vale. He had little reason to want for things beyond the border, but sometimes he went just because the urge struck him. That was the case today, and what had lured him out into the big forest east of his home.

Fundy National Park spread more than fifty miles at its furthest reach, though it was hard to tell where the proper forest ended and the wilderness began. Regardless, it made for good hunting – not that he was looking for anything too large. Bennett wasn't big enough to carry a deer by himself, nor would he attempt to hunt one alone.

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Mistfell Vale
Hawkesond
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Mel
Luperci
anger is a gift
dig two graves
live free or die
sasāra

POSTED: Mon May 11, 2020 7:45 pm

Traveling back to the coast would set Marti's journey back a couple days, but after hearing word that there was a way to cross into the peninsula, their curiosity had gotten the better of them. To their dismay, the way across the inlet was little more than a precarious sand bar that Martina did not feel particularly confident would hold out while they crossed. Waves crashed into the narrow strip of land from either side, and it would take the better part of a day to traverse with so much to carry. After that, there was still the monumental task of finding a safe place to camp for the night. In all, it would have been a poor decision, so the foreigner turned back around, heading into the heart of the forested park.

Beneath the canopy of the trees, it was difficult to tell the time, or how much daylight was left. The overcast skies gave little for Marti to work with, and served only to offer a sense of impending doom, at best, although perhaps it was merely the projection of feelings onto the ominous, dark clouds. This sense hounded the traveler, plaguing their thoughts until something akin to paranoia set hold, right at the opportune moment when they crossed paths with another luperci.

Immediately, a rough bark bubbled from their gullet, tearing through their jowls with such accusation that Marti took a step back from the force. "Hey, you!" The thought of someone finding their belongings that had been so carefully tucked away beneath some roots and branches, taking everything that Martina had, nearly put them into a blind rage. Anger and panic welled up from the pit of their stomach, up into their chest, squeezing at their lungs, their heart, causing their lips to lift in the first hints of a snarl—

—Until Martina realized that they were acting irrationally, jumping to conclusions without proof. The shorter, stockier luperci was not carrying anything of remote interest to the hound, and did not appear to be headed to or arriving from the location where Martina was headed, he simply happened to cross paths nearby. A sense of surreal detachment washed over the young luperci as they processed their embarrassment, and then with growing horror remembered that they had to follow up with something, an excuse for so aggressively grabbing the ruddy furred wolfdog's attention.

"Heeey," This time, the tone was smooth, slinking along with drawn out vowels and sheepish appeasement; the gentle wag of their cord-like tail, relaxed shoulders, and a disarming smile. "You didn't notice anything unusual in the area, have you?" Marti called out the query, trotting over with casual ease to leave a gap of just a few meters between them, running their long fingers through their ivory fringe, brushing it back against the auburn mane. If the stranger had seen anything unusual, it might be the oddly placed foliage hiding Martina's belongings, or perhaps any actual danger they might have missed. Or the wolfdog would be so distracted by the thought of danger that they wouldn't notice how weird the hound was being. Their grin widened with the thought that they had just made a very smooth save.


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Loners
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POSTED: Tue May 12, 2020 12:59 pm

A loud, angry bark made him stop in his tracks. Bennett's free hand dropped to his hip immediately – he wore his arrows low, in the small of his back. This allowed him to reach them faster, which meant he could fire them off with better speed. One shot didn't promise a kill, as he had realized early on. An archer could be deadly, but only if everything went exactly as it should.

The wolfdog was bristling as the spotted, lean dog showed her teeth. She didn't look much like a fighter, but that didn't mean anything these days.

His fingers closed around the feathered end of an arrow, but by then, the woman had changed her approach. Now it was all friendly, all smiles.

“You stop right there, lady,” he barked at her. She might have been easy to dismiss her outrage, but Bennett – trained since childhood not to trust strangers, warned about remnants of the Court which had killed his mother – saw no reason to so easily return to normalcy.

“What's your problem?” Bennett demanded. He was showing his teeth now. “Why are you acting all weird?”

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avatar art: lin | signature art: despi
Mistfell Vale
Hawkesond
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Mel
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anger is a gift
dig two graves
live free or die
sasāra

POSTED: Tue May 12, 2020 1:32 pm

Of course, things did not go exactly as planned; they never really did. They were already far too close by the time they realized the wolfdog had a bow in one hand, with another reaching to string a feather ended arrow. Perhaps it was due to nervousness that their grin did not falter, but widen, fleetingly manic while their mind reeled with all the potential consequences of their irrational actions. Fresh waves of embarrassment and panic washed over the ivory hound as they struggled to both think and act on the spot.

Marti lifted both hands up to their chest, as if to say, now just hold on, but the imploring look swiftly turned to indignation, for the former noble did not do simpering. "You would act weird too, if someone had been stealing from your camp, night after night." It was a bold faced lie, but their low rasp was full of conviction, and it certainly wasn't unheard of for wayfarers to struggle if they were not part of a larger group. "I am just a weary traveler, I don't want any trouble." These words were honest, and Marti did not need to feign the tiredness in their voice, nor the trailing exasperation. They had been traveling for almost a week, and the loneliness and stress of exploring a foreign country was beginning to take its toll.

"And if you aren't the one who's been targeting my camp, then I'm not going to give you any trouble." There was a lie to maintain, and a character to become. Although the young luperci felt as if they lacked the skills that would make them valuable to a pack, they had an aptitude for becoming someone other than who they really were. Surely there was some merit to that, if only to prolong survival, but at this rate, it seemed as if Martina was tempting fate.


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POSTED: Tue May 12, 2020 2:40 pm

“Of course I'm not a thief,” Bennett growled. “You having problems isn't a good reason to start harassing people, especially if you're not from here.”

She was doing her best to ease the situation, and though he did not entirely trust her, Bennett let his hand fall back to his side. He could still get to his arrow before she got to him, he thought, but if they avoided conflict it would be all the better. Starting problems so close to the Vale might cause his pack more issues (and draw more attention to himself) than Bennett wanted.

“Where are you trying to go?” He asked her a moment later, straightening him and mellowing out his own tone. She did look funny, he thought – with her long face and skinny tail – though not so alien as some of the other figures he had seen in passing within his own home.

If she was traveling, it would explain why she was so worked up over her stuff. When he and Symre went camping they often had to find clever ways to hide their packs if they went off to hunt or explore.

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avatar art: lin | signature art: despi
Mistfell Vale
Hawkesond
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Mel
Luperci
anger is a gift
dig two graves
live free or die
sasāra

POSTED: Tue May 12, 2020 5:04 pm

Marti could not help but bristle, the skin along their nape beginning to prickle, as they narrowed their pale, hazel eyes. "Well it's the luperci here that are causing me problems." The words were rolling off their tongue with a snap before the hound even had a chance to think. Truly, their rude introduction was unwarranted, for no one had been previously causing anyone any problems. Martina was digging a metaphorical hole, and it would not be long before it was too deep to jump out of.

Prompted by a vision of the slender featured male jolting forward to stab them with the arrow, however, the hound sighed loudly and took a step back, simultaneously reaching one hand over their torso to grab at the opposing elbow, and raising the other hand to press their long, thin fingers against their temple, the will to fight visibly released from their body. "Look, we might have gotten off on the wrong paw," As Marti casually brushed aside their stark white fringe, it was clear that there would be no attempt at an apology. The lack of a home to return to made it almost impossible for the sighthound to maintain their rigorous grooming regime, and they felt that their scruffy appearance was enough of a blow to their pride. It simply was not fair to have to apologize for being a jerk, too. "But we both know that fighting each other would be a waste of our energy." Not to mention, Marti really did not want to scrap with someone with such a pretty face. "I'm willing to put this behind, for now. What do you say?" Then, as if to extend an olive branch, the hound reached out, offering their hand to shake, and pointedly ignoring the image of being stabbed for pissing off the wrong luperci. "My name's Marti." For good measure, they tested out their winning grin one more time.

Although Martina had never been in an actual brawl, they were confident that they could easily overcome the much smaller luperci. Equating their athleticism with combat capabilities, the runaway was over confident and blissfully ignorant of most realities. Therefore, it was hardly beneficial to continue to lie, but now the young luperci could not stop. "I was told there were packs to the north and northeast that had horses and mules for trade," That information was a rather significant stretch of the truth, for it didn't occur to them that the fluffy stranger could be a member of the nearby pack. Back in Freetown, Marti had learned that there were packs to the east, and further north from there. It would have been convenient to stop and trade with the closest pack, but for fear of someone coming back to to find them, they chose to press on.

"I have nowhere to be," The words were faintly tinged with sorrow, but Marti barely paused in speech. "but I figured I ought to check it out."


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Last edited by Martina de València on Thu May 14, 2020 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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POSTED: Thu May 14, 2020 12:23 pm

Bennett watched the woman as she made attempts to pacify the situation. It wasn't the sort of thing someone looking for a scrap would end up doing, even if she had acted out earlier. If she was being robbed and harassed, like the Vale had been, he understood her frustration.

“I'm Bennett,” he said, and reluctantly closed the distance between them to shake hands. His diminutive height was most obvious then, but with his thick fur and sharp tongue, the wolfdog had overcome what had once bothered him to no end. He would never be a giant, nor would he have the raw power to destroy the people who had wrecked his family – but he had only ever known this body. All of his training and skills had been crafted around taking advantage of what he could.

He thought to ask her about the Vale, but realized the pack had few resources that could be spared. Most horses belonged to people, and he doubted many would be open to trade.

“Yeah, maybe. I heard there's a bunch of coyotes up by the end of the river, they might have horses. That'd make you double back, though. If I was you, I'd keep going until you hit Amherst – it's a bunch of buildings and crap. There's always people around there, they might be able to tell you more about who's got what. I wouldn't go too far south once you hit the city,” Bennett warned her. If she was truly a foreigner (as her thick accent suggested) the last thing she needed was to stumble into proper trouble. “There's bad people in that area. Worse then whatever you've been dealing with here, apparently.”

The wolfdog considered this briefly. If there were bandits in the area, the Vale ought to be informed.

“Did you see whoever was messing with your stuff? We had some problems with that over the winter,” he admitted.

« ∙ when the wind blows, the grass bends ∙ »
avatar art: lin | signature art: despi
Mistfell Vale
Hawkesond
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Mel
Luperci
anger is a gift
dig two graves
live free or die
sasāra

POSTED: Fri May 15, 2020 3:16 pm

Luckily, what Marti said seemed to be vaguely on par; the wolfdog, who introduced himself as Bennett, was able to confirm some of the things the hound already knew, and helpfully supplied some new information as well. If anything, Martina was tenacious, and knew that eventually, with enough information, something of it could be put to use. It seemed rather suspicious that there was no mention of the nearby pack, in terms of what they had available for trade. Perhaps, like the luperci of Freetown, they had little to spare, thriving on just enough to take care of their own. Knowing only a culture that relied heavily on trade, Marti could not even begin to imagine what it would be like to live among those that were entirely self-sufficient.

Pondering silently for a moment, Marti scratched thoughtfully at their chin. A wayfarer lifestyle did not suite the ivory dog's vanity, but although the wiry fur around their face was choppy and uneven on close inspection, it was nonetheless trimmed, for even long days of travel would not interfere with their grooming regime. "Sounds like Amherst might be the way to go." Their eyes slid over, briefly, towards the direction they had come from. "Coming here was a bit out of my way, but I heard there was a shortcut into the peninsula." By the sound of their tone, it had not panned out to be all they had expected.

Despite Bennett's warning, Marti did not seem to think it warranted any immediate concern. Just about anyone would be more troublesome than the poltergeist that plagued them. "What makes them so terrible?" They inquired in a way that suggested they merely sought conversation, and did not believe that the strangers south of the city would pose a threat.

"Oh," As if being drawn from a reverie, the sighthound reasserted their focus, blinking at Bennett for a moment before slowly answering his question. "I did!" Marti blurted, and immediately regretted this decision. Instead of ending the lies, they decided to elaborate, crafting a story that would be impossible to keep up with over time. Of course, what were the chances of ever running into this local luperci again?

"It was dark, and I had just woken up, but I remember seeing..." The momentary pause was either for effect or to give Marti a moment to think before confidently resuming. "There was one, maybe two of them. The one I saw was taller than you, but shorter than me, with ⁠— uh, brown fur and green eyes." It was a totally believable and generic description, as far as Marti could tell. "Could they be the same ones that bothered your pack in the winter?" With a love for drama and gossip, Martina momentarily forgot that these fictional thieves were not responsible for targeting the Vale earlier that year.


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Loners
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POSTED: Fri May 22, 2020 2:37 pm

“There is,” he jerked a thumb in the direction of the land bridge. “Not what you were thinkin' it was, eh? It's bigger than it was before, if you can believe that,” Bennett offered freely, flashing a brief smile. He was less worried about sharing this information. The layout of the land wasn't something he thought worth keeping a secret. “I dunno, I've heard they kidnap people. Bad magic around that place,” he shrugged, thinking about what Symre had told him.

Her story, however, sounded a little bit too detailed, for someone who was robbed in the middle of the night. Perhaps his liar's blood felt the call. Whatever it was, Bennett just shook his head and left the story alone.

“Nah. Any of them that ain't dead are with us now. You know, so they can be reformed or whatever. If I do see anyone that looks like that I'll be sure to see if they act suspicious. What'd you lose anyway? Nothin' too special, hopefully,” the wolfdog asked. From the way she had so viciously defended her things, there had to be something valuable among them.

« ∙ when the wind blows, the grass bends ∙ »
avatar art: lin | signature art: despi
Mistfell Vale
Hawkesond
User avatar
Mel
Luperci
anger is a gift
dig two graves
live free or die
sasāra

POSTED: Sat May 23, 2020 10:42 am

Their pale eyes widened in shock as it was revealed that the narrow strip of land, little more than sand, gravel, and stones pushed together by the force of the sea, was actually a much wider path than it had been, presumably not too long ago. A shudder crept down their spine as they tried to imagine anyone attempting to cross with more than a light pack attached to their person. Without accounting for the treacherous terrain, without any trees or larger vegetation to hold the soil in place, there was a risk that the ground beneath would crumble away underfoot. Even without accounting for the treacherous terrain, with nothing to act as a windbreak, the gales coming off the sea would surely do their best to buffet any traveler foolish enough to cross. Marti, so tall yet without much substance, was not built to take that sort of a risk. "Do people really cross it?" They mused, more in wonder than in search for an answer.

Bennett went on to briefly detail the bad vibes of the mysterious pack he had advised the hound to avoid, suggesting that dark magic was afoot. The luperci of Valencia claimed that they did not believe in magic, that they were god-fearing dogs who put their trust in God and the laws of nature; their take on something as close to science as they had been capable of achieving so far. Among the poorer citizens, Marti knew, however, they still practiced pagan rituals. Even the nobles, notorious for rejecting and even denouncing magic, could easily be swayed by the trade of a potion that would grant them more power, more success. "It sounds like a place I should avoid, in any case." The Ibizan Hound said, trying to sound brusque, even dismissive, but coming off tense and apprehensive. While their company had confidence in a skill he had honed, something that would keep him safe against those that might want to harm him, Martina had very few practical skills for survival in the wilds, against ferals.

Looking away uneasily, Marti considered what might happen if their lie came unraveled. The luperci of Bennett's pack had presumably killed their enemies, and taken in the survivors. To hear that they were reformed (or whatever) suggested, to Marti, that they were tortured into submission and then tethered to servitude. That's generally what happened to those who had threatened the Spaniard's birth pack. A frown crossed their face monetarily, distracted by worrisome thoughts that nearly distracted the young sight hound from answering. "No, nothing too important, I keep my most valuable belongings on me." Smiling weakly, they patted a small satchel strapped across their chest, the shape just visible beneath the loose fitting shirt they wore. "But what I travel with is all that I own, and without a family or home here, it is not so easy to replace any of it." Marti looked down, embarrassed to have shared that information; they had no choice but to react aggressively if ever they perceived a threat. "But once I get to where I'm going, and I'm settled..." This was murmured mostly to reassure themself, rather than Bennett, because Marti did not know exactly where to go or where they would settle. Now that they were convinced that the Vale tortured their enemies and kept the remainder as slaves (a perfectly reasonable expectation from someone who's former pack mates would have done the same), they would have to press forward with their travels.


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Northern Tides