Don’t Fear the Reaper

POSTED: Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:28 pm

Prompt:It's dawn, and it's clear. Your character is considering their own mortality.

The light of dawn cut throw Tora’s room like a knife, slicing through the darknesses. As the soft light began to creep over the dusty floorboards and old furniture, the lump of furs and blankets on the old mattress began to stir. Stifling a yawn, Tora threw his coverings off and began to prepare for the day ahead.

Tugging his robe tightly around his body, the grey wolf walked to the wooden desk in the corner of the room. He brushed his shaggy mane out of his eyes and tugged it back, tying a neat ponytail. He carefully slotted his ears in the slits cut into his cowboy hat. He tugged on his gloves and slung his satchel over his shoulder.

The last and most important items were his weapons. He belted his katana and wakizashi on securely, their black and green handles visible outside the buffalo robe. His bow and quiver were slung over opposite shoulders. He didn’t expect to be involved in any fighting, but he had too much experience in ambushes to discount the possibility.

Tora crept quietly out the room, moving slowly and deliberately so as to avoid waking up his raccoon friend Runner or any of his new packmates. Once he was out of the hotel he broke into a quick jog, enjoying the cold morning air and the sound of fresh snow crunching beneath his feet. The dawn rays looked beautiful reflecting off the thin snow layer. It almost sadden Tora to disturb the serenity with his actions.

Once he was out of sight of the hotel, he began to build a fire. Quickly and efficiently he formed small ring of stones, filling it with sticks and pine boughs. A handful of evergreen needles for a kindling and two rocks for the spark and he had a nice little fire. Tora sat down in front of it, enjoying the warmth. The ashy male took deep, measured breathes as he prepared to perform his daily ritual: mediate on and prepare for his own death.

Closing his eyes, he cycled the list of possible fates. What end was he going to meet first? His mind supplied the answer as he imagined the mighty roar of a bear. Eyes still closed, Tora shifted slightly as the imaginary bear approached his mental self-image, growling with menace. Both in his head and in the real world, Tora stayed stock still. The bear seemed to contemplate the strange wolf for a moment, and pounced.

Although it wasn’t real, Tora had gotten very good at imagining things. So he could feel his sternum crack as the massive beast knocked him backwards. The excruciating pain was made much worse when the bear began to gnaw on his skull. Tears of agony leaked from his clenched eyes as he forced himself to endure. His mental image could easily slashed the animal’s exposed neck, but that wasn’t the point of the exercise. The bear bit down harder and Tora almost screamed. An incredible pressure was building inside his skull, growing and growing until there was the loud crack of snapping bones and pure darkness.

Opening his eyes, Tora unconsciously felt his head, his subconscious checking to see how bad the damage was. Panting from the trauma he had just inflicted on himself, he prepared to do it again.
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POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:08 pm

Often, did she expect to stumble upon members of the Court doing their daily rituals and things. She herself was scouting through locations diligently in the face of the upcoming ball with Casa. There were things that needed to be decided and considered before she could push forward with the various projects that dominated her thoughts. The ball was just a way to give a sense of normalcy to the people of the Court who had been caught up in the violence of Mistral’s incredibly short reign.

She did not expect the lit fire in front of the Hotel, mostly because she questioned the need for one so early in the day. She put away her notetaking paper that was no better than thin birch bark, pushing the rolled up tube into the satchel that hung from across her shoulder and chest.

There was a stranger at the fire, dressed and armed in an odd way. At first the Reine felt a flicker of concern but then settled; they were far too deep into the Court’s territory to be unwelcome in some way. Not only was it far into the packlands, but the man – for she could scent it on the wind – was sitting beside the fire. It was obvious that it was the newcomer that Abigail had welcome to their fold.

And there seemed to be something wrong with him. Brows furrowed, Kaly moved toward him, hearing his panting. The fire was warm and welcome despite the slow unclenching of winter’s grip on their peninsular land. He seemed somehow agitated or hurt?

”Are you alright?” she asked slowly as she came up to the man, standing above him unarmed.

KALYPSO SAVOY
If I knew you were a sellout. A thief. Use me up - I would have never let you near me.

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POSTED: Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:25 pm

Tora was preparing to stare down a barrage of arrows when he heard the concerned voice. He twisted his head and smiled in an attempt to calm the newcomer.

“I’m perfectly fine, friend. Thank you for the concern.” Tora soothed in his heavily accented English. After a moment the grey wolf’s blue eyes flicked downward at the swords he carried on his waist. “Don’t mind the blades. Paranoia and a dangerous life have made it a force of habit for me to be armed at all times.”

He stifled a chuckle as he realized how he must’ve looked to his packmate. A wolf from a far off foreign land, dressed in a strange mishmash of clothes and carrying multiple weapons. To be honest, he was kind of amazed he wasn’t greeted with hostility. He’d have to be more careful in the future to avoid being mistaken for a threat by his own pack.

Tora’s bushy tail swished behind him, cutting a swath through the thin snow layer as he tried to figure out who she-wolf was. He had the names of some pack members through overhearing conversations with others, and now he was trying to put a name to a face. When he realized just who he was speaking so casually to, he blanched under his fur.

Instinct kicked in and Tora sprung to attention, yanking off his hat and holding in his paws. His ears flattened against his head and tail tucked between his legs, the subservient wolf lowered his head and kept his eyes firmly locked on the ground.

“I apologize for the lack of respect my queen. I’m still very new to your pack, and still learning. It won’t happen again.” Tora sighed slightly. Why was he such an idiot? Knees locked in place, he awaited judgement for his transgression.
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POSTED: Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:22 pm

The man’s words were heavily marked by another language, though she did not know what it could have been. It was not the accent of the islands, as far as she could tell, for her own tongue was touched by the Creole, French, and Spanish that the Caribbean traders would pidgin together. Her grasp was strongest on the French, weakest on the Italian her father spoke infrequently.

It was clear who the man was; the stranger that Abigail had accepted and had mentioned to her in passing. As he had hardly seemed a threat, she had not sought him out as she ought to have. It was wise for a Queen to meet the folk that would be beneath her and she hit herself for the lapse in judgement. But the project for housing had been foremost on her mind. As spring slow, very slowly, threatened on the horizon, she wanted to be ready to launch full-tilt into it.

Kalypso twitched back a bit as the man displayed his reverence as due a monarch, though the Queen was decidedly not so formal as her title suggested. She blinked at him, at his apology, and then laughed. Perhaps, not the wisest thing, but it was too amusing not to.

”Calm yourself, Seigneur, I understand.” She shook her head, his head toward the ground. ”I am not about to have you banished or what not for something as minor. I should have sought you out sooner, so my mistake.” She waved a hand, eager to get his eyes off the ground and up to where she could see them. It was a weird game to play, trying to decide what constituted the appropriate time for proper observation of rank. ”What was your name again?” she asked gently.

-

KALYPSO SAVOY
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POSTED: Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:19 pm

Tora didn't take offense to Kaylpso's laughter, or at least not much. If anything it relieved him. Laughter meant that his slight didn't offend his monarch, or at least not enough for her to comment on it. If that was because he looked like a fool, then so be it. He could deal with ridicule from his superiors. When the younger wolfdog apologized and waved a hand under his eyes he looked up somewhat sheepishly.

"My name is Toraberā Tanaka, formerly of Clan Tanaka, ma'am." he introduced himself. Despite the queen's gentle reassurance's, old habits died hard. His ears remained pressed firmly against his head and his tail tucked between his legs. Even with his head up his bright blue eyes studiously avoided hers. Tora had always been almost weirdly subservient to those in any position of power. It was a product of his upbringing. The pack had very strict rules on respect and anyone that broke them could expect to be punished harshly.

The ashy wolf shifted in place slightly, inching his bushy tail away from the open flame. It'd be pretty embarrassing to light himself on fire in front of his queen, and he didn't need to wound his pride again as well as his body. "I want to thank you for allowing me to stay in your pack." he said sincerely. "It means a lot to me to find a new home."
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POSTED: Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:26 pm

The man did not seem to be too familiar with what had happened earlier that winter, for which Kalypso was mercifully grateful. She was still navigating that strange river between subservience and ruling, trying to make it to the shore cleanly without getting too wet. Torabera was a very welcome addition to the Court, as they needed the fresh blood to bring them all some new perspective. That and it was nice to see newcomers.

”You are most welcome,” she added, refraining from asking about his previous home. She did not know what his origins were beforehand and found that she actually did not care all that much. The Court had deviated from its initial purpose as a place where ragamuffins could come and fit in again, taking misfits and questionable folk no longer a welcome subject. She planned to change that, if somewhat slightly. She may have been eager for misfits, but she was not keen on the dangerous sorts of people who were often cast out. And Torabera seemed to be too polite to be any sort of dangerous.

”Abigail did not mention much about you, though I figured I would come find you at some point. What do you do? Are you a hunter? Crafter? Warrior?” she asked with a smirk, eyeing the weaponry on his person. ”We could always use muscle,” she added with a smile. Kalypso moved toward the fire, doggish tail waving behind her as she sat before the flames. She patted the ground beside her warmly if somewhat mischievously. "Come, tell me about you."

-

KALYPSO SAVOY
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POSTED: Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:28 pm

Tora did as he was instructed, lowering himself to the ground next to Kalypso. Rubbing the fifty self-inflicted scars on his arm in contemplation, he was silent for a moment as he considered his words carefully. He wanted to give a fair description of his skills, and needed to be careful to avoid over or undervaluing himself. False modesty was just as useless as false pride.

"Well, I guess I'm all three. I'm as good a hunter as any other wolf. The one thing I really excel at is combat. I'm a good shot with a bow, and I've met few people who could best me in swordplay." There was no pride in Tora's voice as he spoke. He felt no sense of achievement in being a deadly fighter. It was simply been what had been required of him to survive.

His ears pricked up slightly and the ghost of a smile appeared on his face as he switched tack. "I also serve as a carpenter, woodcarver and occasional herbalist. I've built chairs and tables, carved figurines, made barrels and crates. If it's made of wood, I've probably built it. I picked up herbalism on the way here. Every time I came across a plant with some valuable use I wrote it's name, sketched it out, and detailed its uses.

Tora's tail wagged happily, thumping against the ground. He enjoyed discussing his hobbies because they were just that: hobbies. Sure they were useful skills to have, but they weren't essential to his well being. They hadn't been learned through necessity, but genuine interest. When he was growing up he was only expected to be skilled in the art of war. No time had been devoted to other trades because it was intended for him to only serve as a warrior. His one act of rebellion as a pup was seeking out other knowledge.

"What else do you want to know, ma'am?" he asked. He was beginning to relax around the queen, even daring to make eye contact once or twice.
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POSTED: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:31 pm

A warrior was well and good, for he would serve with Skoll well. A newcomer who was at least unbiased in his opinion of her was also a boon, for she wanted to make sure that not only was the pack safe, but that she was safe in the pack, too. She trusted her family not to lash out, but she still felt a tingling of fear that stank too much like Mistral for comfort.

But it was the other things that really interested the woman, in both the personal and royal senses. She grinned openly as his tail thumped the ground with eagerness and some sort of pride. She could appreciate it but those skills were something to covet. She felt the greedy seed within her threaten to bloom, reeling in the energy taking much of her thought process.

"What luck!" she said with a sharp smile, teeth showing out of habit. She slapped her leg a little as she gave a whoop of a laugh. "We are going to be building new homes this spring and summer, and we could use a man like you with those skills. They would be very welcome, since we will be using quite a lot of wood and earth for the project." She beamed with no small quantity of satisfaction; Kalypso had been quite worried they would have no one of actual skill there to assist them.

"You'll have to teach some of the others; I'm sure they'd appreciate the skill." And more people would be fundamentally useful in the process. She rubbed at her chin a little, eyeing the newcomer. "Perhaps you ought to talk to our vintner; he might want barrels since I know he's not sitting pretty with supplies for his work." It was a matter of giving people work that kept them busy, got them integrated. And it was about listening and understanding, some of which she was not really doing.

"Actually, do you have questions? I could try to answer some?" she offered, brow raised. She was probably the least informed ruler they had yet, beyond Mistral. But Mistral had been woefully unprepared for the welcome that met her.

-

KALYPSO SAVOY
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POSTED: Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:34 pm

Tora's smile smile quickly grew into a full grin as he listened to Kalypso. The queen's excitement was quite infectious; clearly she shared the grey wolf's joy that he'd be able to provide some service to the pack. His own fear was that he'd end up a burden, only really proving useful in times of war. He was incredibly thankful that wouldn't be the case.

His mind quickly leapt into analyzing the tasks. From his observations of the area's plant life, materials wouldn't be a problem. There were plenty of forests filled with good timber. Dirt obviously wasn't going to be a problem to find. The main problem would be manpower.
He nodded at Kalypso's suggestion. Tora could make use of unskilled Luperci as general laborers, but he was going to need to train a few specialists. After all, he couldn't be at every construction site at once.

"I have no qualms with teaching others to assist in construction." he said happily, grin still fixed on his face. "And I'll make sure to check in with the vintner." He was less pleased with the second task. Tora didn't drink much, having maybe a glass of wine at special occasions. He felt that alcohol and other intoxicating substances were best avoided so one's head could be kept clear. Still, if the other wolves wanted it, who was he to keep them away from it?

The ashy male thought carefully about any questions he might have had. Most of his questions from he had joined were answered by simply observing the various customs people observed and listening carefully. But he did have a couple remaining. "What are realtions like with other packs?" he asked curoiusly, interested to hear about his neighbors.

His ears flattened against his head as his his tail stopped its happy wagging. His next question might be a touchy subject, and he wanted to tread lightly.

"Pardon me your Majesty, if this next question strikes a nerve. I mean no harm by it, but I'd like to know if the pack was in a recent conflict? I've noticed that some of those walking around have rather recent scars."
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POSTED: Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:43 pm

His reception to her suggestion was warm, leaving her feeling much more confident about the man’s position among them. She had no real doubt to begin with, but the decidedly neutral state was shifted toward a far more positive one. Had he said he would not help or bother teaching anyone, it would have been a selfish warning sign; Kalypso was all for individualism, but they were pack and existed beyond survival by working together. That she did not need to cajole or bribe him to help was a relief.

Even more surprising, though, was the rather nuanced question he posed to her. She gave him a momentary stare, blinking, before humming thoughtfully. ”We are the most southern pack, the rest have gone after the earth broke apart the peninsula. We are allied with Casa di Cavalieri in the northwest; been allied since before I was even born,” she added with a smirk. The longstanding alliance had proven useful and gave them all something to do now and then.

Yet, the last question, that one put a sour taste on her tongue. It was within his right to ask, but his observation of it all made her pause. A flutter of nerves in her belly was quenched with sheer determination. She smiled despite her hesitation.

”We had a usurper come and take the throne from my father. More than our fair share of scuffles, a couple of deaths, but we are back to something more stable.” She gave a very vague rundown of what had happened. She knew that plenty of her half-siblings would have likely elaborated on those things, but she had no reason to. It would have shown them as far less put together than the image she wanted to present. Kalypso did not want to scare off a newcomer.

”Nothing to worry about, though. It’s been handled before you came.” And hopefully would not come to bite them all again.

-

KALYPSO SAVOY
If I knew you were a sellout. A thief. Use me up - I would have never let you near me.

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