the whippoorwill's cry

POSTED: Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:10 pm

Vague backdating, for my favorite Chad

Solomon James needed a break, a place away to think, for at least a moment. He'd told Belladonna as to where it was he was heading, just a little further south, along the rivers, and the mountains he'd seen - towards Amherst, a supposed spit of civilization amidst the unjust wilds of this northern hellscape.

He needed somewhere private, away from prying eyes, to clean his wounds. Even more than that, he needed the proper supply. Bedraggled, the aging wolf wound his way down the rivers, and followed the rumors on horseback.

His camp was modest - a hide, thrown out to sleep, his horse hitched, and a campfire, where he turned over a rabbit leg slow on a stick to cook it. There was a visible wince as Solomon drew his lamed leg towards himself, and he swore, soft, biblical, beneath his breath, and went on to curse the bands of ruffian coyotes to the north.

His plans needed reassessed, and his means were righteous.

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POSTED: Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:26 pm

They feasted and wed and made one another feel very important, but the curse lingered. O'Riley could feel it, in his own way, and it made him restless. Answers alone would settle the Family, and then they could return to business. Now that Elphaba was less distracted by easily accessible temptations, resolving the unknown evil which plagued them yet.

The true answer was long gone. He had fled, with or without the boy, and Salsola was none the wiser.

Nothing seemed to be terribly bothersome to the wolf traveling through the forest. He moved with at a steady, tireless pace that carried him through the wilderness. It was still light out but the sun was starting to fall, and in the long shadows O'Riley trailed lingering scents. Thinking he would find better tracks where the ground was soft led him towards the sound of water, but it was smoke he soon caught on the wind.

O'Riley found the little campsite. He saw them before the horse gave a little snort of alarm. The horse was plain and scruffy like the wolf. This was lucky – Salsola's people often took what they saw value in, and the man was injured. Whatever he considered doing, O'Riley soon settled on a curiously open approach.

He had nothing to fear. He had already decided he could kill the stranger, if he needed to do so.

What happened to you, old timer? The violet-eyed wolfdog asked, lingering where his presence could be perceived as non-threatening.

This was, of course, a lie.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
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POSTED: Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:46 pm

--

The age made him ache.

At least, it was easier to say such things, rather than confront the fears of mortality, and being presented so readily by it by each blow dealt to him, to his band of miscreant Law. He flexed his fingers of a free hand, each knuckle arthritic and stiff, before he traded the stick over to that palm and did the same to his other digits.

His nose twitched. Dark, amber eyes looked up only once a voice so thought to address him, and approach him through the long-stretching shadows. The young man matched the scenery well, pale and silvery, long and tall and dark, all the same. Something about him was ethereal. Unnatural. Solomon's lips pulled into a scowl, before he chuffed, and scratched at his silvering jowls.

"Heathens, up north," he answered, candid and short. "An infestation."

The way Solomon spoke was with conviction, but plainly, clearly not from around here, and he stabbed that stick he was holding into the soil and returned his attention to this stranger, this potential threat, and felt his hackles prickle, wiry. He was young, still, but not too much so, and had obviously seen his own share of conflict. Dare he assume, the boy welcomed it.

"Where are you from, boy? They got more warriors like you there?"

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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:11 pm

He fixed the old man with the sort of look that suited a predator. There was no empathy in his eyes, though he had learned how to pretend very well. Friendliness and sympathy could be faked.

One word changed his perception of the wolf – heathens, he said.

For O'Riley, this expression was a warning. He knew very well that the sort of people who believed in such singular, certain gods were likely to be the sort of violent terrorists like Boreas. This scruffy, mean-looking man had come to destroy something that went against his very moral principles. It was easy for O'Riley to grasp this idea, and easier still for him to fully understand what sort of hate guided these backwards-living ruffians.

Some of this came through. He might have been squinting from the sunlight, from the way his face scrunched up ever-so-slightly.

The mountain, was all the more he answered, like he was stupid. He lifted his head, arrogant from youth and all the terrible things he had done. You looking for someone to fight for you, gramps? What sort of infestation are you talking about, eh? I've heard all sorts of strange things go on around here. Where are you from? O'Riley pressed. With each question he took a step forward.

One wrong word was all he needed.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
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POSTED: Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:07 pm

--

The young man was muscled, scarred, toned, but arrogant. Petulant, with his youth. Despite the healed wounds, something lent to an untouchable air about him, proud and puffed.

In a way, it was like looking into a mirror, and seeing his past self. Now he sat, a mere echo of it.

Deep, somewhere in his very marrow, he was unnerved. Weathered, yellowing teeth bared somewhat as the stranger hurled his questions and needled him for answers, striding forward with careless abandon - this lavendar-eyed youth had his age to his advantage, but Solomon growled low, and warned. His grizzled features had the look of season to them - his experience, pray, would keep him safe.

The mountain. What a lot of good that answer did him.

"That's close enough, boy," Solomon chided, sitting up, and he bristled out his bulk, flexing his fingers somewhat. "I'm from a different mountain. South." His answer was clipped, but honest enough. The Rockies were far more pleasant than these northern territories. He'd decided then - his party was enough for him. The locals were unsavory. Friendliness did not come without cost.

"I got enough to fight with me as is. North-a here's a group of outlaws, coyotes, bastards also from the south. If y'know what's good for you, boy, you'd steer clear."

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POSTED: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:27 pm

The most truthful law – something older and greater than Salsola's Law – was tied to the inevitable fate of all things which grew old and died.

When the wolf warned him off with a low rumble, O'Riley considered ignoring him. He was an impulsive creature and despised the commands of others. Being denied went against his natural behavior, which was to seize everything he wished for without concern for those around him.

O'Riley always did what needed done to get what he wanted. If he truly wanted to kill this old man, no pathetic show of worn teeth or threats of another group would stop him. He was reckless in this way, though there was more to it than youth or entitlement. Fundamentally, deep within his heart, O'Riley saw no fault with this sort of behavior.

He did stop, for now. The younger man regarded the older one and listened to his warning.

The smile that spread over O'Riley's face was genuine. He almost laughed.

Yeah? He asked, almost like he didn't believe it. Coyotes can be right nasty bastards. What they do to you?

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
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POSTED: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:37 pm

--

There was an arrogance, there, in the shallow lavender of the young man's eyes, prying and goading, gouging. Solomon had nothing for him. It must've been an upbringing of opulence to lend such an insensitive nature, afforded the young man something of kinship when they did not know one another, but the very idea contrasted sharply to scars.

This boy was hard to pin.

It made him uneasy.

His dying fire popped, and it bade he speak. And as he spoke, his tone was something deep and humorless. "Burned down my home."

His face was grave as he prodded the fire with a stick, sending a shower of sparks rising into the air. "Murdered my men."

His breath was silent, but swelled in the bellow of his chest.

"Killed my beloved." Her screams echoed in his memory, swallowed up by the vicious fire of his homestead. "And what do you care, boy?"

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POSTED: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:01 pm

Himself a murderer and an arsonist, O'Riley looked on with a knowing expression, as if he had heard the old man's story before.

These weren't unfamiliar things (killing and burning) nor was the blatant hatred the wolf expressed. O'Riley desired a world purged from all those things he found disagreeable, and by and large, coyotes fell under this shadow. He made exceptions for reasons which often seemed at odds with his agenda or morals. That was what a good spy did.

Well mister, that's just awful, he said. There was something that might have been earnest, if not for his smile and his fixed gaze, or the way his voice hardly changed. The old man had already marked himself as a threat. He was fanatical and here for revenge, like the wolves from Boreas. How long you been chasin' them? This anything you think I oughta be worried about? You said there's a bunch of them near here, eh? His questions came fast, as if he meant to overwhelm his companion. This was part of his act too, just the same as his next comment. Figure if there's a gang of criminals afoot someone ought to do somethin' about it.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
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Mel
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POSTED: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:12 pm

--

Like being exposed bare to the sun for too long, the questions needled his skin and blistered. His dark amber eyes were growing testy, and his hackles bristled, but Solomon James was not known for his impatience. His anger was a slow and roiling one, and his own eyes did not waver from the ones that stared, too still, too predatory, on him.

This darkling, this vicious beast, was a beast nonetheless, even if they shared the same face. That smile heralded something worse beneath it. Light gleamed off teeth as the young man spoke.

"Months." Solomon was candid, and clipped. He had been too generous, had fed this vulture's hunger, and now it was coming for the rest of him relentlessly. The old man went very still, and thumbed his rosary. "Don't worry. I will."

He spoke cooly, matter-of-fact; It was not even a question - the Posse would dwindle in number again, would splinter and flee. They'd done so a number of times before, but his declaration was a possessive warning. With a grunt, his palms dug against his knees and he got up, slow and laborious, and reached out for Wynona, the bay mare gravitating towards his open palm with trained obedience, and he hiked his foot into a stirrup.

"We will."

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POSTED: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:44 pm

Little by little the old man grew more uncomfortable. O'Riley could see it in each nervous tic, each time he looked for a way out. The stranger was perceptive enough to recognize that the wolfdog was a dangerous animal.

Would God help him? All these fanatics seemed to believe so. It guided them to unknown lands where the natives had more to fight for than ideology or rhetoric. That had been Inferni's mistake too – thinking that they could so easily strike against a more powerful enemy and suffer no consequences. Weakness would be culled one way or another.

So when the old man stood and went for his horse, O'Riley found himself seeing this caution for what it really was.

He listened to the wolf exclaim his great mission. Upon the horse the stranger cut an impressive figure, worn and tough from his years, but he was skinny and stiff too. His motion to abandon his campsite (and his meal) left O'Riley wondering if this was a trap – but he did not smell others, nor did he think the decision had been made preemptively.

Without a word, O'Riley sat. He lingered there until he decided the man wasn't coming back, knocked the smoking rabbit free from the fire, and consumed this. He was not above an easy meal, and did not believe poison would withstand flame. The charred meat was an adequate exchange for the time he had spent here.

After he had nosed around the camp, satisfying his earlier suspicions, O'Riley abandoned it. He suspected the old man might be watching him from somewhere, but would not see him alive again.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
The High Inquisitor
User avatar
Mel
'Souls Assemblage Luperci Informatore & Cazador LET ME IN
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