the flame is gone, the fire remains

POSTED: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:19 pm

He knew better than to leave Salsola alone, but for as long as he’d been back to sanctuary its walls had stifled him. His kin surely meant nothing but the best for him; many checked in and often, concerned for his clear dip in weight and sudden (albeit characteristic) tendency to keep to himself. In the wake of his captivity, release and return to his homeland, Neith questioned often his purpose, and found no focus for his pre-war studies. His mind turned as suspiciously placid as his appetite had become, that is to say, unassuming, with patience for little.

The young man heard the clansmen had up and left following their surrender, allowing Salsola another victory to pride itself on. At the time their home was set aflame, he had been bedridden with fever, recovering from the stress of his rescue. Neith thought the rumor had been birthed by his dreams. He neared the clan’s territory thinking himself safe by truce, yet found the clan deserted as rumors predicted for him. He called, but none came. No sentries passed while he stalled.

Huddled into the furred collar of his cloak, Neith pushed on. He browsed what had been someone’s home, abandoned, with evidence of war visible at every angle. He stood a while before the ashen ruins of a building once monumental in size, with December winds caught in his cloak. He watched the starkness of the charred black beneath the gathering of white, and lost himself there to his thoughts.

Salsola’s victory rang hollow, for their secrets had been sewn like seeds, and their longtime allies were driven from their homes. If word of their slaves became widespread and the self-righteous took to their doorstep once more, would the Thistles’ luck last? Would they survive another war?

And would he be present for the inevitable next?

Pre-dated to a week or more after Inferni evacuates.

Salsola
The Warden
User avatar
Lin
Luperci
CENTRIFUGE
lost in the static

POSTED: Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:27 am

how pure, how sweet the love beneath it

Whispers of ghosts etched into the charred lines of what stood once of the mansion, supports jagged and black with their winding tendrils of frost, glittering in the cold light of cloud cover. The scent of coyote, fire, ash, home, was just starting to age, bereft of the residents of the Clan who had since moved on in the face of humiliating defeat. They had been stripped of their safety, and it showed - even in the coyotes' absence, what few things remained, were haphazardly left in the haste with which their owners had fled.

It chilled Briarblack to her bones, even then.

Graves, dug, and abandoned, struck a sympathetic chord; she had helped to bury one, after all, and a palm came to rest against the wooden cross - such was prevalent in his religion, after all, what with his Good Book, his Gods he regaled her with while they each sat and healed, kept one another warm against the chill of night with chaste embrace. It had been what felt like ages in Goliath's absence, but the wound still ached, burned at it's edges and bleed as if it were fresh, blistered and raw - and like a lame beast, she tried to lessen it's pain.

Comfort was found in a bottle, in a cigarette - in whatever odds and ends offered to her, she could partake, and forget for a while, and so she straggled in moving on to Inferni's new home, moving on to where her cousins, her aunt, her family had been, and she felt infinitely pulled back towards the Poplar, thought absently of the brother left behind, of her mother, and in the dulled stupor, she steeled herself again, absently wiped at the edge of her muzzle with a wrist while the alcohol sloshed in that old bottle. There was a tear; she had never been in two places at once, yet here she was, ripped thrice over.

A scent, familiar yet not all the same drifted on a chilled breeze, and with furrowed brow, the Infernian turned for it, started that way, and there stood a figure, doubled a moment before her winter eyes focused more so, and she regarded the outsider in silence.

ooc stuff here | [wc — ---] template by hilli
Inferni
Sanitas
User avatar
Despi

POSTED: Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:44 pm

To claim victory in war was one thing, but to drive the enemy from their home he considered another. Rumor was self-exile, evidently rushed. The coyotes suffered a humiliating enough surrender to leave their home with little preparation, as if still fearful their Salsolan neighbors would continue to hunt them despite treaty. By their own hands, they ground dirt into their own wounds. It was a departure made not with pride, but a collective escape with tail tucked between their legs. Vicira had taken command of Inferni, rumor persisted. Did she not consider how uprooting their clan would appear to their enemies? Did she not consider how utterly weak it appeared?

He watched the snow gather across the embers.

She wouldn't have considered it long, Neith decided. This was a Salsolan mindset, one above all concerned by appearances and exposed weaknesses. Hers was a survivalist mentality; she exiled Inferni for sake of security and fresh beginnings, a blank slate upon which appearances could be whittled anew. It was a decision only one equipped to lead could make. Which, perhaps, explained why Neith himself progressed so little among Salsolan ranks. By the day, his interest in the inner circles waned, and his interest in circles beyond Salsolan realms blossomed.

Neith sensed nothing of an approach until it reached his nostrils on the cold wind, and the Heiwa glanced past his furs with a short-lived panic. Briarblack. The snow collected across her dark shoulders just the same as it collected on the charred remains of the Infernian’s former home.

She looked... unwell, as she should. Cold, too. He frowned. “Did you stay behind?”

Salsola
The Warden
User avatar
Lin
Luperci
CENTRIFUGE
lost in the static

POSTED: Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:18 pm

how pure, how sweet the love beneath it

It was something visceral and distant in the way winter-sky eyes appraised the cloaked figure examined the razed remains of what was Home - she mirrored her surroundings, charred, hollowed, dusted with the silver flakes of snow that caught against the ends of her pelt. Exhaustion lined the hollows of her eyes, but otherwise her posture was stiff, stark against the washed out background of abandoned grounds.

He hailed her through the whatever fog she waded into, and something of more focused attention flickered across her features, as though she were just waking up, just aware that he was truly there, and slowly, her ears perked up higher. The thick plush of her growing winter coat shivered as she shook some of the melting snow off her shoulders, before coffee paws started their approach, the dark sooty earth revealed beneath its crust of white from the heat of paw pads. Arms wrapped around herself, bottle on her hip, and eyes cast down, before she looked over to the mansion - there was no wariness to her now. Salsola had won. Rust was a medic, a man seemingly of reason.

"No-- yes, and no, I will be leaving." Her voice was a rasping croak beyond the thin weight of her words. There were so many things she felt were left unfinished here, but without the bustle of her comrades, her family, it felt truly haunted. "I didn't want to leave the grounds just yet."

Much less the graves. Fingers reached out to the sign that Virue had nailed into the dirt - she didn't know what it said, something about memories, living on as flame in the hearts of those who remembered - a pretty sentiment, but she couldn't be certain. Her speech slurred soft and waxing, and she cleared her throat idly, lips pulling taut into a short-lived and humorless sort of smile that didn't reach her eyes.

"It's hard to say good-bye."

ooc stuff here | [wc — ---] template by hilli
Inferni
Sanitas
User avatar
Despi

POSTED: Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:16 pm

He moved to stand beside her, the bottle in her hand not lost on him as he approached. In silence he read the sentimental sign left behind by her people, a representation too simple for what must have been a thousand memories, both good and bad. So many had been born and raised on this land beneath the snow and embers. Some, he assumed, had died in its defense, whether during this war or the last. But just like that, their bodies were left behind.

They did not die for the land, he reminded the Salsolan tendencies that spoke in his mind. They died for their families, wherever they moved on to.

His hand fell on her shoulder, just inches from where his rapier made its scar.

“I’m so sorry, Briar,” he said. The sincerity in his own voice, unforced, surprised him. He anticipated retaliation, but the words came still. “I’m so sorry.”

Eyes while downcast found the bottle on her hip, and when he focused his senses found the stink of alcohol present. Brows pulled together, and hand pulled away. A drink was not inappropriate, not for her loss, but concern stuck. He motioned for the bottle. “May I?”

Salsola
The Warden
User avatar
Lin
Luperci
CENTRIFUGE
lost in the static

POSTED: Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:55 pm

how pure, how sweet the love beneath it

Some part of her had expected something snide, guarded - as was the Salsolan way, she supposed, an insult to her injury, and her thought was bitter and panging against the inside of her skull. Yet, she was just as startled as the silver man with his sincerity, and the two exchanged a glance, in which she felt guilt; Why was it that she saw it so easy to assume? Rust responded with something gentle that she had not expected; a touch, his concern, and she swallowed thickly, eyeing the sign and regretting that she hadn't known what it said.

He obviously took note of what could've been very poorly made whiskey, and he asked over it indirectly, to which the raven-girl looked at the sharp and violent smelling liquid before she offered over the bottle, and her claws moved to instead trace the lines etched and scored into the plank sign, but that's all they were to her: lines, but she knew Virue had scribed them with meaning.

"Wish I knew what this said - it's writing, right?" she attempted again at something with a dry humor bleeding into her words, though the low way in which her voice spoke betrayed the melancholy on her tongue. With a sigh she withdrew her hands to hug herself again.

"I was going to go on one last walk here, if you want to come with." She continued to stir the ghosts - this place could not rest yet.

ooc stuff here | [wc — ---] template by hilli
Inferni
Sanitas
User avatar
Despi

POSTED: Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:46 pm

He took the bottle, sniffed at its mouth and grimaced. Then he put it to his lips and drank, turned away from her and screwed up his face in all efforts not to open his mouth and gag on the taste. It was for good reason he preferred wine, and yet Neith clutched still the neck of the bottle and held it gracefully out of her reach.

She couldn’t read the sign. Against his better instinct, Neith sipped once more from her drink, took a breath, and read the words aloud.

A silence spanned when he finished, in which the pair looked at the sign and huddled against the snow and winter’s winds. She offered him to walk with her, at which he nodded. They lingered a moment longer.

“We’ll make a loop and come back,” he said, sensing her hesitance.

Then the Heiwa dusted the snow from off the sign and the two went on their way.

“Did you know them?” he asked, when it seemed safe to do so. ”Where the sign was.”

Salsola
The Warden
User avatar
Lin
Luperci
CENTRIFUGE
lost in the static

POSTED: Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:21 pm

how pure, how sweet the love beneath it

The subtle intricacies - or perhaps not so subtle ones - were ultimately lost on Briarblack as she stared at that etched sign, and settled her weight into her toes to steady herself. Claws sprawled at a body sway, and she shut her eyes tight at the dizzying headiness of the loose embrace of alcohol in her brain. Firewater held the cold at bay, but did ill for her soured mood, her perception - but her attention was slowly dredged up and dragged to the present when Neith spoke again, reading off the etchings from the charred wood between his labored sigh post-drink.

Another silence stretched after he spoke, suffocating beneath the soft and powdery snowfall as they started their walk, pacing the grounds around the mansion, slowly heading outwards towards the shambles that were the gardens. The fountain was there - derelict and untouched; and he spoke again. A lump leapt upwards, lodging firmly in her throat which only managed a strangled, weak sound, black lips pulled tight against her teeth as they twitched to hold back her grief. Breath sputtered softly as she attempted to recompose herself through drunken stupor, but the frailty in her voice was evident as she finally croaked out her response, metallic on her tongue.

"My cousin. And - " she couldn't finish the phrase, thumbed idly at the lock of hair tied at her neck again. "They aren't buried there."

The remains of the medical hut, burned and charred, stood vacant as they passed, and winter eyes cast over it woefully. "It's hard to just... accept that it's all gone."

Her palm felt light, and she glimpsed to it before looking at the neck of that bottle in Neith's hand wordlessly.

ooc stuff here | [wc — ---] template by hilli
Inferni
Sanitas
User avatar
Despi

POSTED: Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:27 pm

He sipped once more from the bottle and returned it to her. When it was his own kin that had done this to her and her own, what justification had he to stand between Briarblack and her grief?

Neith struggled not to sympathize, but to find the appropriate words to do so. Salsola had its small share of casualties, but they were not run from their ancestors’ homeland and cast away to the north with tails between their legs. The grief from loss was one thing, and Neith—a man of airs and image—thought the clan’s universal humiliation another. What bothered him most was that they had buried their dead and abandoned their graves. They could not mourn at their pace. They could not visit the dead and recover over time, taking comfort graveside.

They buried their dead, took their things and moved on. Those like Briarblack hadn’t had a true opportunity to mourn, and by returning to her former homeland, was forced to mourn alone. As a Salsolan, it wasn’t his place to keep her company. It was the fault of Salsola that she needed company at all.

So he walked with her, quiet. He looked at the rubble and collapsed buildings. He imagined the bodies crumpled within. He watched the snow layer atop as if eager to hide away the horror. He imagined fire reflected in the eyes of his fellow Salsolans as they watched the buildings take light, nobles among the Thistles yet murderers and arsonists beyond. He listened to the screams and terror, and realized it all imagined. He had not been there; he did not need to be.

Neith considered asking her when she had eaten last. Had she come alone? Where was she sleeping? But these too were not his place to ask, he believed. The scar on her shoulder had been his own doing, and the grief weighing them down was the work of his birth pack. He asked instead, “What was this building?”, or “Who lived here?” when it seemed appropriate, and expected she would dismiss him when she had enough.

Salsola
The Warden
User avatar
Lin
Luperci
CENTRIFUGE
lost in the static

POSTED: Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:31 am

how pure, how sweet the love beneath it

A brief moment of silence and reprieve persisted before he offered back that bottle, pressing that comforting weight back into her palm. A tongue lapped out over dark lips before she lifted it up to swig that familiar fire again. They paced in quiet for the most part as she perused and grieved in what little way she was able - too soon they had taken leave; her heart still lay somewhere beneath the snow, frosting over steadily as it bottled its emotions deep and choking. Every so often, Rust at her side would speak up, asking questions, which she so indulged, recalling what the families had built for themselves only to uproot themselves to violently transplant elsewhere, in a strange land that rang like memories that did not belong to them, not for a long while - and her chest tightened and twisted fierce at the thoughts and aspects of their move.

She still wasn't ready to let him go.

Briarblack swallowed a thick tar in her throat, feeling the rasp come on her words as she continued to indulge in softly placed questions that peppered the stillness of the razed territory, and could feel the cold sting her eyes anew as they paced gradually towards gravesights. There was a terrible heave of a noise, uninhibited, as a breath blew out through tight jaws and lips that drew taut against the lines of her muzzle, the pace of her footfalls stuttering before coming to a stop.

"Rust, do you know what the Good Book is?" she asked, the deep melody of her voice a terrible scratch, though wintery eyes never left two markers in the dirt, her throat dry and tight. "Do you know where I could find one?"

She could not disguise the wobble and heave of the air in her lungs, the way it warped around bubbles in her words, and the heel of a palm roughly pressed upward against the slack of her cheek and scrunched against her eye.

ooc stuff here | [wc — ---] template by hilli
Inferni
Sanitas
User avatar
Despi

Sticks and Stones