Re: fools in the fetters

Troupe

POSTED: Tue May 19, 2020 10:42 pm

“Hold on.”

Marlowe's voice cut through the uncertain silence. He pushed himself up to his feet (which made little difference given his diminutive height) and made a point to look at Calrian directly. Their defacto leader had made his first real mistake – and Marlowe, seeing this weakness, sprang upon it like a viper.

“You're wrong,” he said to Adrianna. “She is a killer. It wasn't no fantasy that we buried out in the woods – that was two men.” They weren't of any importance to him. They were just two more corpses among the many piled up over the years. Sure, they must have had families out there, but they'd never know what happened to them. This sort of thing was typical. People disappeared each and every day.

People like Marlowe understood this.

“And before we figure out what she wants, we oughta touch on the real issue here.”

“An' what'ya think that is?” The old man asked. It was the first time Marlowe had ever heard his tone change like that – not quite angry, not yet, but oh, something else was there now.

“It's obvious, ain't it? I mean I get it,” he said, and turned to Indis. Of course he understood. She was a wolf, after all. The coyote flashed his mean, tight-lipped smile. “Some people need killin'.”

A log in the fire popped, sending sparks flying upwards. Marlowe turned again, looking from person to person. He fixed his sights on Calrian again and spread his palms in a sign of peace.

“What you're tryin' to do out here is gonna bring people like that 'round the way,” he explained. “Except maybe the next time they ain't gonna be no nobody's – you know what's west of us, don't you? You know what kinda people are out here? You go around killin' people without thinkin' and it'll bring the whole damn mess down on all of us. If anyone here ain't capable of handlin' themselves, they're gonna put the rest of us at risk.”
The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?
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The Troupe
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Mel
Luperci Every man has a price to charge and a price to pay. Take peace from the earth and make men slay each other. The Cursed
plead the fifth
hell is other people
the devil made me look

POSTED: Wed May 20, 2020 12:05 am

They gathered together, silent, some sullen. Lee looked to Indis, huddled in her blanket for comfort, and Jethro, who stared forward through the cloud of smoke he exhaled. Most gazes turned to Calrian, who pulled his hands from his pockets and began to talk and joke in his honeyed voice — though the notes of warm gold seemed to stick on his tongue when his playfulness failed to lighten the cold, uncomfortable mood hanging over the camp.

The Amaranthe addressed Indis, and Galilee scowled. She straightened up to her full height, just shy of seven feet, and uncrossed her arms to open her posture. Before she could open her mouth to defend the girl, though, Adrianna said something. The guard relaxed, flashing the madam a grateful look. How could they call her a killer? Of course she had killed — but a person who killed someone wasn’t always a killer, right?

She hoped that was that — but then the scarred old coyote cut in.

Galilee hadn’t liked the vibe she got from Marlowe from the start. Maybe some of it was prejudice, or bad feelings leftover from her own father’s infamy — but now she felt like her gut was justified.

Motes of ember floated in the uncomfortable wake of his words, reflected in his coin-colored eyes. When he mentioned what’s west, Lee flinched and rubbed at her arm, but the longer he talked, the harsher her glare. Eventually, protective instinct overcame the anxiety that raced through her veins. What kind of woman would she be if she didn’t say something?

Indis looked so scared.

“What do you wanna do about it then, huh? Throw her out into the wilds?” Galilee demanded, big teeth flashing and hand gesturing wildly toward the black woods at the fringe of the village. “Yeah, there’s bad people out there, but that’s why we gotta look out for our people. She patted her chest, thumping a little too hard in her distress. “That means her, too!”

She looked fiercely to the girl again, and felt some of the fight leave her.

“She didn’t… She didn’t mean to,” Lee said more softly, then glanced at the ground upon realizing how it sounded.

cut my own gills with a pocket knife

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Raze
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what's up, danger?

POSTED: Wed May 20, 2020 12:45 pm

here comes Salem the wet blanket True Neutral alignment

It took some effort to keep her features neutral and smoothed, and Salem found herself grateful for once that she’d painted a mask to shroud her slip-ups.

Their approaches were so variable, she observed. Calrian, forgiving and willing to laugh off a serious offense. Adrianna, in tune enough with her fellows to seek Indis’s side of things, but not in tune enough to see Indis was not yet ready to speak. Marlowe... who wasn’t wrong in pointing out the root of the problem—a lack of security, which Salem prioritized as well—but spoke with such gracelessness that he portrayed himself poorly. And Galilee, quick to spitfire, a thing of passion, but overlooking a key element of the argument.

And all the others, too, quiet for their own reasons, Indis included. All the while, the fortune she had fabricated for Indis just a few days prior spun around in her head: Your intuition is leading you astray. Ugh.

"Marlowe’s not wrong. None of you are," said Salem, still and stiff and forcing her tone and expression smooth. "Indis didn’t mean to. I’m certain she didn’t. But what’s happened happened, and we need to acknowledge it did." She eyed Calrian, though harmlessly.

Was it even her place to speak? The Fortune Teller, a great outlier, doubted it. She braced herself for retaliation given the burning of feelings and passion around her. "I don’t think anyone here wants Indis to go away, or at least I hope not. What we need is a plan, some sort of process for preventing this sort of thing, and what to do if it happens again. I don't know what the first step would be, but we’re planning to run a tavern. Things like this happen. People get killed, maybe even our own. We should be prepared."

life's a riddle, not a game of dice
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Lin
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POSTED: Wed May 20, 2020 2:13 pm

He winced at Adrianna, as if feeling the snap of an imaginary fan.

Before he even said it, Calrian knew Indis didn’t want to be a guard. While it had seemed a thoughtless sort of idea, he had wracked his brain for days trying to figure out a way to keep Indis, to justify her and the threat she posed, and this had been all his tired mind could muster. Standing there, clutching the little shell in his hands, he felt knocked off balance by the Madam’s remark.

It didn’t matter what Indis wanted, he wanted to say. Because in the end, she was outnumbered. Her will wasn’t as important as the will of the group, and if they couldn’t fit her into their vision, then...then...this was her only chance, wasn’t it? He glanced back at the Dreamer and felt the weight of his internal struggle. He couldn’t say any of this without hurting her. In the end, the truth lodged in his throat.

What came next was unexpected. Marlowe seemed to rise up out of the shadow, and Calrian watched him through the licking flames.

His words lashed harshly at them—killer, two men—and for a moment he could almost see the world that lived behind the cryptic man.

His ears twisted toward Cook’s question, but his gaze never left the Shark.

West of them...

Had he been foolish to think they could control Indis? Was it too much of a gamble—a risk, as Marlowe put it—to keep her there? His heart wanted to fight for her to stay with them, but Marlowe picked up on the voice in the back of their heads.

Galilee rose, her pelt golden in the firelight, and Calrian found himself heartened by her intervention. Indis was theirs, he agreed. They had to protect her too.

His fingers tightened at the sound of Salem’s voice. What she said drew him out of the free-falling doubt and confusion and placed the ground back under him.

“You’re right, Salem,” he said, “We didn’t have a plan because none of us knew what to expect. But now we do.” He turned his attention to Marlowe. “It’s not a risk if we can account for her.” Could they account for him? Calrian’s expression seemed to darken and lighten beneath the waves of fire. Indis had shown her hand, but the same could not be said for the rest of them. “She’s hurt, and I think we can help her.”

He looked at Indis, alone and silent. He went to her and crouched, tail tucked apologetically. He gently reached for her hand in order to place the little shell into it. “I want to find a place for you here. That’s all I meant. You don’t have to be a guard. I hoped maybe Galilee or Jethro could show you how to...focus. Find yourself. That’s it.”
raise a glass to freedom
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San
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POSTED: Sat May 23, 2020 1:41 am

They were all bound together by something that had no name, no taste, no smell. Indis could feel it brushing against her shoulders; perfectly iridescent and mild. They all believed in luck. They knew that their tide would come and go, and that they would all be given some sort of grace that would allow them good fortune.

Good fortune.

It sounded like a lie against her tongue; a dream for those who had not been so lucky.

Sanctuary had robbed her of this feeling. Indis stared at them at them all through the shroud of her frown; an expression that she attempted to hide beneath twitching fingers and sweaty palms. They discussed her like she was a scourge, a plague to be eradicated – and when she finally felt strong enough to speak her tongue felt too heavy to move.

Hortensia would have known what to do. Calliope would have defended herself voraciously.

Indis simply sat. Listening.

When Marlowe spoke up his words slashed at her like blades, carefully collected and full of steel. He spoke as if he understood what it meant to take a life and when she held up her hands she clenched them to her chest as if to protect them from the atrocity they had committed. The women stood by her; Adrianna quick to defend in that short, clipped tone of hers, and Lee – sweet golden Lee – throwing her voice like a clap of thunder. Salem spread her wisdom in thin layers like mortar, bolstering their defences; brick by tiny brick.

Calrian crouched to press the tiny shell into her palm and all she saw was fireflies bursting at the edges of her vision.

”I-“ She gathered vestiges of courage, pooling the frothy golden light that bordered the edge of her shrinking world, ”I don’t want to be a guard.”

It was too much like her old life. Too much like her-

She winced before finally making a stand to address them. Despite her size she was diminutive, her shoulders hunched forward, her head held low.

Indis squeezed the shell tight, ”Just give me a chance to- to-” Something bit at her palm and she scowled, unfolding her tightly squeezed fingers to reveal the shell, cracked straight through its centre in the strength of her grasp.

They would see it, the crushed sign of peace against the pad of her hand. She caught eyes with Calrian and practically begged, her lips twisting sadly, "I-I'll do anything."
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Amanda
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POSTED: Sun May 24, 2020 8:31 am

◂ THE DEVIL IS JUST TWO KIDS IN A COAT THAT COME TO YOU AT NIGHT ▸
"We’ve established what you are, now we’re just haggling over the price"

    [+WC] ---
The stage set before him, Cal took the stand like a true showman.

It never ceased to amaze Malik how his brother could command attention like that. The everyman gave it freely, like Calrian was some old friend born again, stranger to absolutely no one; The more discerning in their number could hold a reservation, sure, but still all-to-a-man they fell quiet as the Broker began to speak.

Of course, that wasn't to say that Calrian was flawless, or that he always said the right things.

Mal winced at his brother's suggestion, knowing that it had come from a good place intent on mending, not provoking. There wasn't a malicious bone in Cal's body (or so his bias would believe), but the women among their ranks were having none of it. Adrianna spoke up first; For an elegant, laidback sort of lady, when her ire rose she was truly spectacular. It was little wonder that johns all up and down the coast had her name tattooed onto their arms.

Still, Malik wasn't certain that he agreed with her sentiment - nor with his brother's, for that matter.

Was it all so easy for them, to overlook what Indis had done? He could not forget the smell, offal and guts steaming in loam.

It wasn't that he had anything against Indis, certainly not. After all, Mal had been the one to bring her in out of the cold, that first day - and she'd been a welcome tagalong ever since. But the horror of those men's deaths could not leave him. There had been no elegance in it, not like Obi's one-shot-kill. It had been messy, brutal. It had been uncontrolled.

The danger to that kind of violence was its unpredictability. By the light of the fire, Indis looked small, hunched in and unassuming as she waited for the verbal guillotine to fall.

Before Mal could speak - what was he even going to say, undecided as he was? - Marlowe had filled the quiet with noise.

It wasn't often that Marlowe addressed more than one of them at a time. In fact, now that he thought on it, Malik was certain he'd never had a specific conversation with the man - not outside of 'grab this barrel, would you?' or 'here's dinner', in any case.

But every time Malik listened to Marlowe speak, it was like hearing the silence before a storm.

Some people need killin'.

The fur on the back of Mal's neck crawled uneasily.

He didn't like the things that Marlowe said - in no small part because they were said BY Marlowe, sure. But also because they followed the uncanny line his own private thoughts had been headed. Indis was a risk. Was she a risk they were willing to take?

Big blonde Galilee tried to combat the coyote's stone-cold rationale with her own particular brand of spit-fire empathy, but if anything her heartfelt sentiments only further proved Marlowe's assertions. Feeling a little queasy, the bard tried to find some sort of comfort in a friendly face here or there - but they all looked troubled, each and every one. Even Salem had something reasonable to say, though evidently she was not placing a vote either way.

And Jethro still wouldn't meet his eye!

Finally it was Indis' turn to defend herself. Malik desperately hoped that she would say something to sway his heart. He wanted to believe that what had happened was a horrific anomaly, something with an explanation, something they could turn into a story a couple months from now. He wanted to believe Calrian when he said 'I think we can help her'!

But when she accidentally showed them the broken shell in the palm of her hand, the bard turned his face away.

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Alaine
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POSTED: Sun May 24, 2020 11:54 am

Did they know what to expect?

Sawyer wasn't so sure.

For as long as he had been with these people, there had been an understanding that luck was all they believed in. Gambling men held onto hope even when the cards were stacked against them, sure. Maybe there had been luck in what occurred – the intruders were dead, no one had been hurt, and all that they had to sort out were their own emotions.

It could have been easy, but dissent remained. Marlowe voiced it, and Galilee crowed her challenge, but Salem balanced the both. She may have thought herself an outsider, but there was nothing they needed more now than a voice of reason. Calrian needed it – he was trying so hard to lead them, even if they had no real master and only each other to hold themselves accountable.

He saw Indis stand, but for a brief moment, she was someone else.

His heart ached.

She wasn't a guard – she was something else, or had been, before all this –

In the silence that followed, Sawyer cleared his throat and lifted his head.

“Defending the people you care about ain't a crime,” the old man said gravely. “We have to be honest about all this, sure. Those men mighta just been comin' to rob us. They mighta been comin' to hurt us. Ain't no good comin' from people skulkin' around in the middle of the night like that. You know it,” he said this to Marlowe directly, who did not respond. “And I know it, and I think we can all agree we're glad none of us was hurt because of them.”

He paused to take a breath and sighed. “No one needs to go anywhere. We should come up with a plan,” for next time, he almost said, but caught himself. “Maybe start sleepin' in shifts, so someone's always awake.”
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Mel
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POSTED: Sun May 24, 2020 4:24 pm

Adrianna did not know what to feel as she watched the men and women rise up with their voices. She listened to them all crow, caw, and chatter, but felt so distantly far away all of a sudden that she was not quite sure what she was hearing. Marlowe's speech was unexpected but she barely knew the man, barely knew what he was. He was not the sort of man she liked to hang about and wondered if he was the sort of client she would have delicately avoided. She wondered if that undercurrent of dislike came from him or from her, but she had never been keen to find out.

Whatever it was that lurked there, it was something else that threw her out of the moment and away from the girl shivering beneath the echoes of their voices. Her eyes were glazed over and absent. Vivian glanced at her with a worried frown, looking between the speakers and her Madam lost in memory.

Once, there had been a gathering with a handful of men and women. The women were prim and proper, hair properly done up and dressed as their status commended. The men were muscled, some scarred, and imposing in their presence. Those eyes. All those eyes. They stared, judged, and found what they saw wanting.

Adrianna throat dried up as she forced herself to pull away from the memory and felt Vivian's hand squeezing at her own. She faintly tipped her head against the nightgirl and let herself listen to the conversation. What had she missed? Cookie spoke and she glanced at Indis, a wobbling creature they should have left alone for a few more days.

"One of us should take her to rest while we decide watches," she suggested, her crisp voice breaking through suddenly despite the dryness of her throat. "We are not judging her." Adrianna looked to Vivian, who nodded, and the Madam turned back at Indis. "Vivi can go with you and make you a nice cup of tea or something warming." Neither women moved, though. The others would have wanted to leave her with them, but it felt far too much like a council of elders who were deliberating on if she was worthy to be among them.
Adrianna Julia
So let go of wrong and right, cause who wants, who wants, who wants to dance all night?

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Gen
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more than just a dance

POSTED: Tue May 26, 2020 7:17 pm

All of a sudden there were far too many voices eager to put forth an opinion, all of them except Malik, who was characteristically silent. It had nothing to do with her fiery gaze skewering him where he sat, of course; he was not terribly talkative in general. Voices rose and fell, garrulous, quarrelsome, and tried very hard not to look at her brother’s face.

They were spinning things to suit their point of view—she saw this, listening their words and watching their faces—until a very tall, very dark shadow appeared at her side. Glancing at him and his unreadable, dark brown face, she frowned before returning her attention to the gathering, which was more important than his sudden arrival.

Marlowe stepping to the fore surprised her, and her brows knit together with suspicion. Why now, after so many months of minimal back-and-forth with fellow Troupe members? His points were nonetheless valid; some people did need killing, a concept that seemed to run contrary to her chosen path in life. She wouldn’t murder them, but if the circumstances were dire enough, she’d gladly allow others to do so without raising a complaint.

“So, what?” She asked no one in particular, for there were a few who’d raised the same point. “She accidentally hit them with an axe multiple times?”

It sounded trite, but she was trying to demonstrate a point: there’d been nothing accidental on Indis’ part when it came down to killing the strangers.

Marlowe’s closing argument rattled her, and it was obvious by the look on her face, with her wide eyes and pinched mouth. It was a truth none of them had acknowledged until now; by settling in the ashes of Inferni, they’d brought themselves perilously close to the wolves of Salsola, who would be oh-so glad to burn them too.

“I’ll take a watch.” Said a surprisingly deep voice; unperturbed by lack of sleep, Leander had a nice voice.

“I can stay up too.” Adina offered, neglecting to mention that she likely would anyway.

Sleep was a rare thing now, and becoming rarer.

“When this is all over, can you explain... this to me?” Asked the wolfdog, making a vague gesture meant to encompass the whole group.

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Sticks and Stones