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Fri May 03, 2019 6:36 pm
Winter was losing its hold over the land and, in shifts and cracks and sweet songbird song, spring was quickly establishing dominance over a fast-aging season. Percival cast his nutmeg eyes over the young sprouts and saplings and felt his thoughts shift gently. It was remarkable, how quickly and fiercely life could bounce back. Where once there was cold, barren grey – the only sounds the soft shhh of the bitter wind through naked branches – now there was warmth and music and life. He could see the small nubs of buds dotting every tree and shrub, casting the wilderness in a quiet hue of green, and in the air there was the smell of leaf mold and thawing earth.
Percy breathed in and felt the corners of his lips curl upwards sweetly, his eyes closing only a moment until he exhaled again slowly. Life never died, he thought to himself as he repeated the words of his mentor, it only waited to be reborn.
Beneath him, solid and warm, Pim the ox ambled casually over a verdant earth, pausing frequently to pull up the new growth in earnest. It had been a very long winter and any feed they had had stored was lost in the wake of Krokar's untimely demise. Though Percival had tried hard to provide for his mount, Pim had grown thin in those lean and bitter months that followed. So the wolfdog let the brindled bovine do as he pleased while he sat atop his broad back, both of them seemingly at peace with their individual worlds.
The trickling of water tickled the Shoalman's ears and Percy breathed in the smell the of the tributary, thinking of his birthplace with painful fondness. But when he cast his nutmeg eyes against the trickling water and saw a figure there, he stiffened abruptly. Frantically (though he hoped he seemed calm and collected), the young Parhelion encouraged his mount to pause and cleared his throat unnecessarily. "Hello," he said with feigned confidence, straightening his posture for good measure. Percival watched the older man carefully, but with respect, and thought he caught cues to suggest something had been lost. Thinking he might be able to help, he asked, "Are you lookin' for somethin'?"
[WC — 561]
Tue May 07, 2019 12:04 am
It was difficult for Iomair to see the beauty that came with this new wilderness. Where some saw the verdant green and immediately thought of spring, he saw the space that lay between – the scraggly branches that reminded him of cracked bones and a life left far behind him. They had a camp now, a small insignificant thing set beneath the shadow of a too-tall mountain, its peaks long out of reach. He spent his days wandering the Miramichi Valley, seeking out those who would aide them – Moonwraiths and Sunwardens, Heartsingers and Shepherds.
Together they built a tiny piece of home; far-flung cultures thrust together in the depth of the North.
As he walked, he spun his token, the rich piece of metal shiny in the places where generations before him had rubbed it smooth. The piece of iron was a familiar weight in his pocket, an anchor which reminded him of the life that lay behind him – and the expectation that now weighed upon him in this new Realm. Vodeva would watch him go and finger her beads, whispering prayers that fell on deaf ears – the pain in her side a flash of lightening that refused to be quelled.
She plucked leaves and whispered to them, quietly willing her children to return to her.
Slowly their numbers grew, and still Iomair wandered – hopeful and keen that somewhere, someone would help them.
The King wandered on foot, weaving through trees that were dotted with moss and lichen – silvery birch trees that twitched upon a breeze that seemed to call his name.
It was later when he realized that the Dúr token had disappeared through a hole in his tunic – tumbling into the long grass that had begun to protrude about his feet. When he cursed it was with a grumbling sound, the long whiskers about his muzzle twitching as he began to stamp about.
The voice that called to him had him swinging his head up, his warm eyes squinting at the ox that peered back at him – the man astride it straightening curiously.
Iomair cleared his throat and offered a smile, standing to stretch the stiffness that had begun in his back.
”Yes. It seems I’ve lost my token.” He frowned and blew hair out of his face, ”Can’t say I’ve ever met someone riding a cow before.” He chuckled, allowing the mirth to glitter in his eyes, "Is that common around here?"
Fri May 17, 2019 9:26 pm
The man appeared kindly, his eyes warm and his smile disarming, but Percival remained quietly cautious. Strangers could end up being invaluable friends, capable of great generosity and greater support. Or they could become heinous foes, their wickedness culminating in the destruction of an entire pack and the displacement of many innocent people. High atop his faithful ox's broad back, the young man wondered which this stranger would be.
For his part, Pim seemed less aloof to the stranger than his rider was. He paused the near-constant chewing of his cud long enough to push his wide, wet nose towards the man and eased himself marginally closer. Percival leaned back gently on the ox's reins and shifted his weight over the bovine's back, glancing back down at the stranger as he spoke.
"Your token?" This was not a word that Percy could remember hearing before and the truth of this must have been plain on his face with the subtle canting of his head and the gentle furrowing of his brows. The man's soft chuckle and mirthful eyes reminded the youth of his father, before The Fall.
Percy considered his question before shaking his head. "I'm not sure," he began, and then added, "I don't think so." He had never met anyone else who rode an ox, and Percival could understand why: they weren't the most comfortable of mounts, nor the fastest, but Pim suited him just fine. "Anyway, cows're female. Pim's a male. Except he can't breed, so we call 'im an ox."
Knowledge was power.
"I'm Pecival Parhelion," he continued after a beat, feeling a little more at ease in the stranger's company now. "I ain't sure what a token is, but it sounds important. Would you like help searchin'?"
[WC — 306]
Tue May 21, 2019 12:46 am
Knowledge was power. It was something that Iomair was still learning despite his elected title – despite the crown that always hung over his head despite the fact that he more often than not refused to wear it. One of the Aegas had forged it for him, carefully explaining that it marked him as their new ruler – as a conqueror, a man who would lead them to glory before all of the Clans, united. It served as a reminder that failure was sometimes necessary, and that this new path upon which he walked meant something.
Everyday around the campfire the new members that would become New Caledonia traded their stories in dribs and drabs – and slowly Iomair could make out the threads which would bind them all together.
The man who sat atop his steer had eyes that appeared to have seen too much, for despite the kindness that Iomair offered there was something steely about the set of the dogs shoulders. His tail did not wag against the pale mounts side, though his ears did prick forward at mention of the Kings token. ”It’s good luck. I carry it with me always.” Iomair blew air through his lips, ”I think that its fallen from my pocket.”
He cast a foot lazily through the grass to fold it down, frowning when it revealed nothing but dirt and new shoots of green.
”My name is Iomair Nartholiel,” He paused before offering, ”The first High King of New Caledonia.” The ox came closer, flaring its large nostrils as Iomair smiled and offered the creature his hand. It blew warm air toward him, and with a delighted sound the man patted the creatures nose and cheek – enthralled by his great size and gentle nature.
”I would must appreciate your assistance, Percival Parhelion.” He rubbed Pim’s chin and padded a few steps away to offer the man help down from the creatures back.
Wed May 22, 2019 5:16 pm
Percival felt his eyes blink spontaneously, as though they were preparing for a physical onslaught that, in his mind, he thought was unlikely to occur. He knew a great deal about luck, though whether or not he believed in those same superstitions that his family touted was yet to be determined. After all, he had thought himself quite lucky once upon a time, when his family – his pack – was powerful and whole and safe. And then, in a single fiery night, it had burned away to ash.
Some might say that his luck had run out, as though it were a finite substance that he had wasted frivolously and with reckless abandon. But Percy had his reservations. It made more sense to him – and made him feel infinitely better – to believe that he had some control over his own well-being and success rather than have it be left completely up to chance.
"That doesn't sound very lucky," he commented with sympathy, twisting his lips cheerlessly. Whether Percival believed in luck or not, he already resolved himself to helping the man – a King, of all Luperci!
The young Parhelion's nutmeg eyes widened when the man announced his name and title, his bushy brows lifting and his lips parting. He knew that many Luperci gave themselves many different titles, but there was something special-sounding to Percy about the High King. Briefly, he considered the leader of Mistfell Vale, who also likened himself to a king – a Ravenking – and thought that Iomair's title sounded much loftier. "Nice to meet you," he said, shifting atop Pim's back to dismount.
Once on the ground, Percival offered the High King a small smile and a slow wagging of his tail. "What's New Caledonia?" he asked, glancing briefly back at Iomair before crouching down to search the earth for the man's token.
[WC — 314]
Sun May 26, 2019 5:26 pm
It was a strange thing to announce yourself as King when you had so few subjects. Iomair felt it on his tongue like a lie, but somehow despite it all pride burned deep down for the home that had fallen in the wake of the great war. He had been elected by the people, by a group of Clans who had lived their whole lives divided by lines of tradition that went back so far that no one was able to remember where any of it had all started.
Inuven had been one of the first to accept him as he was – a man who was always on horseback and eagerly spurring on what remained of their sad cavalry. Even now he could see the blue-black of his pelt, the shiny eyes that were so blue they could be caught even from a great distance. He had been proud of his warriors, and had been able to fight on when Iomair had been forced to stay behind with the women and children in their safe haven.
Inuven had since disappeared – like so many other soldiers and clansmen.
”It’s not the first time I’ve lost it,” He admitted with a sheepish twist of his mouth, ”But it is lucky in that it always seems to return to me. No matter what.”
He chuckled and crouched, parting grass with his scarred hands to peer at the moist earth beneath.
Percival slid from Pims back to assist him in his search, and Iomair waved the boy forward.
His question bade Iomair pause, and he felt his brows cinch together thoughtfully.
What was New Caledonia?
”The original Caledonia was ravaged by war some time ago. All of my clansmen were forced to abandon it in an effort to survive. Many lost their lives.” He made a sound in his throat and pushed more grass aside before continuing, ”New Caledonia is our attempt to re-establish our people and their clans. We need more good people as we are small, but in time I am certain that we will prosper again.”
”My clan is Aegas, my god Dúr. We are considered the ironborn – the forgers and metalsmiths.” He held up his hands and managed a dry chuckle, ”All of these scars are from fiery coals and the overeagerness that comes with youth.”
He paused in his search to glance up at the young man, ”What of you Percival Parhelion, where do you come from?”
Wed May 29, 2019 5:08 pm
Percival considered the man – the High King's – sheepish truth silently and wondered what the heck he was doing to lose the token so often. And then, almost immediately, he wondered how – or why – the charm continued to make its way back to him over and over again. Was it the token itself that was special? Or was the man?
Lifting his nutmeg eyes, the young Parhelion wondered.
Sniffing along the earth for a scent of metal or wood, while returning his eyes to the task at hand, Percy listened while High King Iomair Nartholiel spoke. Soft blades of spring grass and weed seedlings tickled his nose as he moved, mildly surprised at first that there was an original Caledonia before silently berating himself for the thought. How could there be a New Caledonia, after all, without there being an Old?
"I'm sorry for th' loss of your clansmen," he said solemnly, lifting his eyes to give the High King a look of genuine sympathy. "And your home." Percy paused his searching and appeared to be considering something before he began his search again, the moment passing silently. Now did not feel like the time to be sharing tragedies, though the wolfdog imagined he could feel the man's heartache intimately.
With the mention of the man's clan and, more curiously, of his god, the young Parhelion lifted his bearded head away from the earth and looked with obvious and sustained interest at the elder stranger. He had never before heard of a god named Dúr before, and the mystery of deity was too much to ignore. "What is– What kind of god is Dúr?" he asked, changing the manner of asking his question mid-sentence. He gave the High King's burn scars a look when the man lifted his hands and wondered if this god was a vengeful one, as their River Goddess had the potential to be if they were careless with the lives that she helped sustain.
When conversation rounded back upon himself, Percy glanced away to the woods beyond the royal stranger. "I came from a place called Krokar," he said, deciding whether or not the time was right to share the full story. He met Iomair's golden eyes again. "Near th' end of fall, a band of loners set our village an' pastures on fire. We lost friends, too, and a lot of our livestock. Nobody lives there anymore; we left and now I live with my ma an' pa an' other relatives out in th'– a ways away from our old home." Even though he felt more comfortable and trusting of the older man, Percival was not so foolish as to disclose the location of his family's new home.
His eyes looked beyond the High King again and, as a breeze combed through the newborn leaves emerging from their buds, making them dance, a glinting of something caught his attention. Percy squinted. "There's somethin' shiny there," he said, pointing. Were tokens shiny? Did they catch the light? The young wolfdog glanced back at Iomair for a response.
[WC — 521]
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:48 pm
”It has allowed us to regroup. To remember what it was about our unified front that made us strong.” The man shook his head sadly, pausing his search to run a wandering finger through the grass, ”We left many behind. I never forget that.” The thought of Indis made his shoulders tremble as if from the cold. His pale daughter had been beautiful, a ray of bright light in another wise dying marriage. Vodeva had fawned over both of their children in their younger days, and when the war began she had defended them valiantly – a proud mother who wanted only the best.
In this, perhaps Iomair had failed her.
”We have many gods. Dúr is hardy, a beast made of mountains and the earths core. Some say that the mountains are the backs of his children, cast away from the forge of which they were born.” He rumbled, thinking back to the many stories that his mother had spun for him as a child. ”We have just as many stories. I need time to remember, but some of the best have Dúr flattening a town beneath his hooves or stamping out a valley to make way for the sea.”
He grinned quietly, ”Those were always my favorite.”
The smile fell soon after, as Percival crouched alongside him. For the first time Iomair realized the youth of the boy beneath the scruffy moustache that sprung from the end of his muzzle, the dark crest of his forehead hiding the sad glow that so often seeped into his eyes. Iomair recognized the displacement, the sense of loss and lingered like a shadow just out of sight. He hummed softly as the boy spoke, nodding his head as they continued their search. ”I’m sorry for your loss Percival. I know that it can’t mean much coming from a stranger such as myself… but know that I understand.”
His brows came together as a sigh rattled through him, ”I hope that your family is able to rebuild. If there is anything we can do – please, let us, - me - know. I have nothing but a warm bed and a kind word, but sometimes that is enough.”
The dogs ears pricked forward as he suddenly explained, ”All the luck in Dúrs feet – you’ve found it!”
Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:18 pm
A somber weight hung above him and Percival glanced away from the older man, his tail low and his posture cheerless, to use the lost token as a distraction from his sadness. Young as he was, he understood what the High King meant about remembering what made them strong and refusing to forget those left behind. After all, he thought silently, it was was what helped them survive their own collective nightmare.
To hear the king speak of Dúr, however, Percival's dour mood lifted visibly. "He sounds like a powerful god," the young Parhelion said, respect in his voice. "If he can do all that. How do you keep him happy?" Simple prayers, maybe? Or maybe a god like Dúr would want something more – a dangerous demonstration or brutal ritual?
"Our River Goddess asked that we only respect her waters and the animals that live there; always show gratitude towards th' lives you take that keep you fed, and give a little offering back for future good luck." He glanced away when Iomair provided words of empathy and support, nodding softly and feeling a knot of confusing emotions: shame and melancholy; wonder and curiosity; fondness and warmth.
Percival liked this eccentric, bearded stranger.
"Uh," he murmured softly, suddenly feeling embarrassed and awkward. "Thanks. I think that, maybe... well..." He lifted his sickle-shaped tail upwards into a slow wag. "Yeah. I can help you too, if you need it."
That he found the High King's lost lucky token came as a surprise. Bending over, Percy took the metal disc between his index finger and thumb and lifted it up to his eyes. "Here," he said after looking it over curiously, holding out his hand to drop Iomair's prized possession into his open palm. "I guess maybe it's lucky after all. Is Dúr a god of luck?" By the man's expression, Percival wondered.
[WC — 319]
Sat Jul 06, 2019 5:15 pm
Iomair could sense the way the boys heart was weighed down by something – the way his eyes followed his hands sadly, his bushy whiskers twitching sadly as he spoke of his River Goddess. Iomair immediately thought of his wife – the frigid woman who was prepared to launch into her prayers at a moment’s notice, her expression jagged as a rapid. As a woman of Lorn she often leaned upon the gods of their homeland – though with parents from two different clans she had been afforded leniency in which gods she chose.
Often, she prayed to Nanin and Nín, plucking leaves and twigs to gently toss them into the burbling creeks that surrounded their tiny camp.
”It pains me to say that I have not been able to thank him as I should. Hard work shows him belief, and in the old country I would spend many hours toiling before a forge, pounding metal and creating in his name.” He offered a sad smile, ”Here we have no forge, so I am afraid my hands are tied. I am sure he understands, or at the last lends help in his own way so that we may rebuild again.”
He sighed softly and tucked the token back into his pocket when it was offered. ”Our camp is at the bottom of Mount Oromocto. Please, I invite you to join as for a meal if you can.” He canted his head, ”I believe that my wife would like to hear about your River Goddess as she is from a River Clan.” He grinned and bowed his head, ”Dúr is a god of strength. He is steadfast for those of us that cannot be.”
Another low chuckle filled his chest and it was a warm and trickling thing.
”Perhaps I have learned something new about him on this day.” Another soft sound, ”Perhaps the luck could be from you?”