withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy

POSTED: Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:36 pm

A raptor was not simply a tool or a toy, and falconry took up far more time than O'Riley had ever imagined. He needed to work with the eagle daily, constantly, and handling something with sharp talons and a sharper beak was difficult. O'Riley could bully the horse and he could bully the lynx, but Arne was a different sort of creature. He could just as easily slash his master's face open if they did not establish new patterns of behavior and careful respect.

Still, it was a mighty looking bird. Even now O'Riley was surprised by how heavy the eagle was. They used a glove to keep O'Riley's scarred arm further protected, but he could still feel exactly where those talons settled. A bird like this could take down larger animals, prey and predator alike.

Birds were fragile, though. Even something as massive and fierce as a golden eagle could so easily be killed.

For most of the journey the bird sat atop a padded perch tied to Jonesy's back. The mule was far more accepting of the eagle than Olaf, who still made his discomfort apparent despite O'Riley's many attempts to rid him of such fear.

It was better that the mule take to the eagle anyway, as he would be the one brought along when O'Riley went elsewhere. With reports tallied and normalcy returning to Salsola, the unsolved murder of their Crone began to fade out of focus. This was well enough – there were far too many things happening in the Thistle Kingdom and its surrounding lands than to find a killer (or, as he suspected, killers) without knowing exactly where to look.

Since he had never brought the eagle along, training it became imperative. The bird needed to be able to rest in unfamiliar conditions. They were fragile things, birds, and he was annoyed by how much restraint handling one required.

Their destination was a clearing nearer the mountains. It was edged by scraggly forest. Before Salsola had taken claim to these northern parts a path had been forged by the many travelers seeking to cut around the mountain and into the Bay. O'Riley could see it from the distance. He was more interested in what they might find hiding in the field, however, and turned to free the eagle from his tethers.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
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POSTED: Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:26 pm

Symre skulked about the territory beneath the shadow of her cloak, the hood of which she had pulled too far forward so that it hid the sharp slope of her nose. She spent just as much time outside of the pack as within it – curiously inspecting the new coyote border further north and traipsing about the neutral territories. Tali always mewled at her with warning – she was not a rogue, nor was she a great warrior like her Uncle. Truly she was quite useless, save for the sharp tongue set between her teeth.

She lashed her tail as she walked, ignoring the way the forest ebbed into silence as the predator passed beneath its boughs.

When she came across the trail of their Erilaz she found herself hesitating – for it was a scent that she was familiar with. So often Symre Rask would catch a whiff of the ebony shouldered man only to dawdle leisurely along the path he had tread, wondering what it would be like for him to gaze upon her with those amethyst eyes of his – the golden velvet of his cheeks pressed close against her own. It was a fantasy she was sure most of the young girls in Salsola lay thinking about in their beds, but few were brave enough to act.

The young girl flared her nostrils and trotted after him, adjusted the leather satchel over her shoulder and adjusting the flap to hide the dead birds that lay inside. Tali had been busy in the warm weather and returned almost daily with a fresh catch. A tiny wren barely the size of her palm had been left upon her windowsill that morning, and a fluffy sparrow had been carefully poured over and washed so that’s its wings were pristine and clean.

When she finally found the Erilaz he was near the base of the mountains, a leggy mule standing alongside him with ears that twitched each time it swung its long face about. The eagle that sat upon his arm had claws like scythes and she could see the way that the powerful creature gripped the leather vambrace – those golden eyes unblinking as it stooped to beat its powerful wings in flight. The air buffeted her as it passed over head the wing span so wide that it blotted out the sun.

She hissed softly through her teeth at the power of it before turning to bow her head at O’Riley Eternity.

”Bonjour Erilaz.” She ran her hand along the leather strap, adjusting where it lay so that her braid could hang freely. ”That’s a beautiful bird you have. Will it return with something?”

Symre inhaled deeply, picking her way so that she could stand alongside the mule.

>:]

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POSTED: Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:46 pm

The bird's weight still surprised him, even now. As the eagle stepped out onto his hand O'Riley stiffened his arm to better support the raptor. He liked this, somehow – as if the big, fierce looking creature was an extension of himself. Setting it free was like launching a weapon into the sky.

So when Symre found them, emerging from the forest behind him, O'Riley seemed pleased by her arrival. He had never really noticed things being off with Symre the way people sometimes whispered. The rift between the girl and her uncle was obvious to anyone who knew them. Brocade did plenty well hiding behind his work and his soon-to-be-wife, but what did Symre have?

Nothing, like what she had worn to their annual celebration.

He's looking, for now, O'Riley explained. He gestured for the witch to join him and leaned against Jonesy, who made a noise like a sigh and leaned into the weight. They had an understanding. The hunt goes faster if we scare something up, though, he further explained to Symre.

Do you want to come with me? You aren't doing anything, are you? He smirked when he asked this, like it was a joke. In the grand hierarchy of the pack, Symre – despite her family and despite her relatively privileged life – had yet to rise to a position of note.

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POSTED: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:05 pm

Symre revelled in having nothing. There were so many who were tied so closely to their names; eager to shed them in favor of marrying into a notorious family or to prop themselves up from obscurity. The eagle disappeared into a beautiful smudge of cloud and Symre wondered what it must be like to peer down at them; two dark pinpricks of fur cast against the swaying grass.

O’Riley leaned against his mule, inspecting her with those eyes that glittered as if he had unspoken secrets.

Somehow, he always appeared to be all at once filled with mirth and cynicism – even the slouch of his shoulders was handsomely done. The wind caused the longer pieces of his hair to twitch and Symre dragged her gaze from the dark lines of his mouth toward the hair that sprouted about his head band.

”No, I’m not.” She smiled at him, allowing her ears to fall forward enthusiastically, ”I could help you flush something out for him.” The thought of finding a bird set her heart aflutter, ”What do you need me to do?”

>:]

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POSTED: Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:54 pm

Help me look, he explained. The idea is for us to all meet in the same place. Jonesy has to be able to get to wherever that is. He's pretty quick when he wants to be, O'Riley spoke of the mule, tossing his head to indicate as much. But I'm not trying to tire him out.

With company now a part of this hunt, O'Riley was eager for it to go well. He was one of the pack's Cazador's, after all, and his position was not merely for show. Hunting came naturally to him (as it did to all predators) but his drive was deeper and more wicked than provision alone. There were lesser men who deserved to die, and it was par the course that a greater one like O'Riley would perform such a task.

He excelled in stalking and following. He enjoyed the power that came with someone not knowing he was there.

Let's get to some open ground. He can come down through the trees, but it's better out in the open. Once we sniff something out we can spook it – once it's in the open, he'll do the rest. O'Riley grinned when he finished. They would not find anything as exciting as a goat, he thought, but the sight of the massive eagle rushing towards any kill was exhilarating.

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POSTED: Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:41 pm

”Bien.” She offered, immediately setting off alongside him in search of something to flush out from the brush. Symre couldn’t help but wonder many things about the man who lead Salsola from the shadow of their Queen – and each time his violet eyes cut towards her she relished in knowing that she was here alone and spending time with him. It bolstered her somehow, this tiny nothing of a girl, and had her wondering if there would perhaps be a time where she too could command some sense of power.

When she breathed she could smell him – the rich musk that came from working outside and living in a barn.

Her fingers tightened on her satchel as she zigzagged through the clearing, their steps punctuated by the heavier stamps of Jonesy’s hooves.

Had she known that O’Riley was as deeply moved by the thrill of the hunt as she was, she would have murmured something to him – a secret exchange for those who were moved by the wild. Instead Symre kept her tongue, twisting her head to and fro in search of disturbances in the earth. She was certain that the Cazador would find something before her, and she padded carefully before offering – ”Is there something in particular that you search for?”

She would allow for the opportunity to be guided, and she held out her hand to press brush from her sides to more easily pass through the trees.

>:]

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POSTED: Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:51 pm

Oh, this and that, he offered, a vague answer soon clarified. He can catch big things, you know. If we were up on the mountains I'd show you. O'Riley's teeth flashed in a grin. How he delighted in the power of his bird, and how impressed she would surely be. Everyone would recognize that he commanded this great creature and understand his own might.

They went on a little further without speaking. In the dappled light her fur would sometimes shine bright and rust colored, but mostly she was blended into the bark they passed. Sometimes when she looked at him he caught sight of her eyes, a color that looked like drying blood. She was tall. She was nearly as tall as him. He hadn't really noticed that before.

A dove, spooked by their approach, fluttered from a bush an up to resettle on higher tree branch nearby. Jonesy barely seemed to notice. O'Riley watched where it had gone with mild interest.

How about a bird? He suggested to Symre. Something bigger than that, eh? I like to get turkeys fat before I eat them, but I bet we'd be able to get enough meat for both of us off of something like that. A slow, big target like that would ensure his hunt was a success. This was vital if someone else was watching.

if the thunder don't get you
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POSTED: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:09 pm

Each time he spoke Symre tried to make it appear like she was not hanging onto his every word. O’Riley Eternity was an enigmatic man, one who spoke only as much as was required to get his point across. The young woman did her best not to pepper him with questions, and instead toyed with the strap of her leather satchel so as best to compose herself. It was all a great strangeness, as usually Symre was more than assertive, with a brash tongue that spoke without thinking. ”How did you tame it?” She asked suddenly, imagining that perhaps there would be a way for her to capture her own bird.

The dove that fluttered up from the trees had her eyes narrowing, and she clicked her teeth at it as it hooted down at them before continuing its retreat.

Salsola was home to a great many birds. She felt her fingers clench as it flew off. ”I love birds.” The statement brought warmth to her cheeks, though she hid this behind the long curtain of her hair. ”I’m sure that we’ll find something.” The eagle was perfectly silent as it scoured the forest, and Symre tried to find its silhouette through the trees. They would need to find a clearing for the eagle to swoop into. She gestured with her long nose and took off at a gentle trot through the trees. She glanced at him over her shoulder and offered a toothy grin, "Come on Erilaz, this way."

>:]

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POSTED: Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:00 pm

He's not really tame, O'Riley corrected Symre casually. Not the way some animals can be tamed. My grandmother hatched him, but he's no more tamed than Keenan. Mostly we have an agreement – he does what I tell him to do and I feed him and he never has to worry about where to roost. Simple enough, eh?

If the eagle was smarter, their partnership would have been harder to maintain. What they had were signals and practiced, reinforced behavior. Training was for both of them. O'Riley had a tendency to push his less favorable responsibilities onto other people, but the eagle required his personal, endless attention.

Symre's comment about birds was innocuous. He didn't know about the corpses she lay out in the forest, or the red-breasted sacrifices cut open to an indifferent sky. For all he cared, the strange structures in the forest might have been made by Nickodemus (who himself adored these sculptures).

The tall, pretty girl leading him, well, she hardly crossed his mind much at all.

O'Riley tugged on Jonesy's lead and the mule snorted, protesting briefly until the wolfdog slowed his pace. Annoyed by this, O'Riley turned and looked at Symre's back, letting his eyes roam. The curve of her buttocks and muscles in her back were pleasant enough to watch, especially with her ignorant to his gaze when she seemed so focused on the task at hand.

if the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will
Salsola
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POSTED: Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:04 am

If Symre had been any other type of girl she would have batted her eyelashes at him when she spoke. Instead she clicked her teeth sharply and allowed her sanguine eyes to trail over the subtle curls of his chest hair, the pale silver butted up against the dark. ”So just like the rest of the Kingdom then?” Laughter rose from her then, bright and bubbly – but it fell back into silence as a branch snapped somewhere further afield.

Each time they traded places on the trail Symre felt her mouth go dry with eagerness – soon they would find something for the eagle to sink its talons into.

The donkey dawdled, allowing Symre to resume her place at the head of their expedition. She hummed softly, scanning every inch of the forest for the sound of muffled wing beats. She closed her eyes and focused, pricking her tall ears for so long that she was certain she could hear each breath the Erilaz made behind her.

Something moved, and it brought a sly smile to her face.

With him behind him her tail twitched, and she gestured towards a large patch of brush.

”Over there.”

O'Riley rn

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