Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead

POSTED: Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:19 am

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Twilight fast approached; leaving the dense, summer air alive and stirring with tremors of last minute activity.

There was a buzzing symphony of insect wings, joined by the feverish flutters of nest-bound birds as they strained to collect any last treasures before the night. The crepuscular -- similarly aware that the final hour of daylight was upon them -- added a trudging sort of warmth to the orchestra, as they began to rise and root about, at last heralding a recovery from the perpetual sluggishness of high-noon.

And there was another source of music, too, as someone toyed charmingly with an ocarina in the distance; Softly, and not terribly well, but neither was the sound grating or unpleasant.

This thrumming of life, however, did not reach a desolated tree in the midst of that wide, grassy Bay. It appeared to have not bloomed for several years now, and its barren husks, formerly branches, reached up dryly with desperate gnarls -- petrified in agony.

A small menagerie of animals moved along a trodden game trail heading towards the plant. The lot of them were made up of two shifters, a horse, a nocturnal bird, and a ghostly, half-blind moose with her recent, equally haunting calf -- and when they came near enough to pass by this corpse of a tree, the notes of the ocarina stopped abruptly.

Oh, Canon, can't it be here? a golden brunette called from horseback, tugging on its rope-made reins and urging the procession to a stop. Wilma, the sturdy mare carrying her, began to protest the slow-down, and at the group's helm, a four-legged hybrid seemed prepared to do the same.

Steadying her nag, and before the navigator of their excursion could refuse, the woman added: this field could go on for days, and who knows how far little Mardröm can keep up at this pace.

Canon did not argue. He had learned better than to dispute with her over the living totems she kept as pets -- they were her raison d’être, after all -- but besides this, it wasn't hard for him to adapt to a sudden change in his plans.

Fine, he relented with an annoyed twitch of a tall pharaoh's ear. Won't find Thoth a better perch out here anyway. An excuse he formed out of thin air, before insisting: but just for tonight, Shana.

I knew you would agree with me, Shoshana, or Shana, smiled warmly. And don't worry. I will have us packed and ready to go again by sunrise -- gods willing. It was a cheeky addition, he thought. An excuse, certainly, but it also struck him as true.

He watched Shoshana as she made to dismount from Wilma, instinctively on guard due to his companion's peg leg. But as usual, perhaps from years of practice, she landed deftly on her good limb and required no balancing as she rolled into a lopsided stride that was committed to her camp duties.

Canon still wasn't used to how unaffected she seemed by the amputation. But he supposed she had lived with it for some time now.

As the one-legged waif hitched her resentful mare to the tree, then guided Nagini and Mardröm nearby to feed, and unburden the cow of their tent, Canon mutely departed on a patrol of their surroundings -- eager to make sure they were alone.

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Cheshire

POSTED: Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:26 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

The backwater sticks buzzed and thrummed - cicadas croaked from the trees. Briefly, through the din, fireflies sparked to life and dimmed just as quick, blinking out some subliminal love message to the dark. He was not so captivated by this, these tiny proclomations of existence, the livelihood of summer.

No, he was hunting something different, out here in the dying light.

The day had passed by, fruitless, still none the wiser to what it was the skeletal man had dried up and slipped into his teas before he passed away, and it was rapidly becoming evident that such secrets died with him. Julius cursed into the burgeoning night, ripping fresh, young sprigs from another misguiding plant and casting them aside as though it would accomplish something, anything, but plants did not squeal when struck. Unsatisfied, he took measuring breaths, clenching his hands into fists to still them.

The moment he cooled, he lifted those hands, pulled them against the skin of his face and scrubbed his palms down his pointed face. Tall, gold ears twitched, when he realized that he was not alone out here, in the dark of the canopy's covers. Suspicious, he crept to investigate the sounds of action through the brush, not using scent hardly as much as he should. A man, tall and lithe, a call-back to something more familiar.

Like Narcissa, or perhaps, that fellow that followed the jackal through the wilderness before settling into the rut of civilization that was the Thistle Kingdom - blue eyes narrowed on the pallid, shifting shape.

Julius was nothing, if not impulsive, perhaps more so now than ever - an itch drove him forward.

"Pardon," he started, long-legged strides picking him closer, closer - and palms folded, his smile sickly and pointed and sweet, all the trappings of polite society. "Sir!"

He waited for the stranger, with his dark mop of hair, to acknowledge him, and lifted a hand to crook fingers in a little wave, uttering a soft little hello.

"You wouldn't happen to be a merchant, by chance?"

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Salsola
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POSTED: Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:30 pm

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Scarcely a minute had passed and already the sounds of his camp were close to becoming lost entirely into the vast nothingness that was Drifter Bay. He strained to hear the familiar shuffle and scrapes of Shoshana, or even a hint of the grazers milling about, but before long Canon found himself completely alone with his thoughts in a darkening field.

Almost immediately it occurred to him that he had been on all fours for over a week straight, and concluded that it would be nice to see above these wildly tall grasses, if just once.

He took his time in the shift; relishing in every stretch of chord and muscle that elongated his features and brought him into an upright position. With a tremor of euphoria, the hybrid arched his back into a contorted stretch, then spread his arms and the rest of his long, long body; ultimately, breathing deep into his freshly broadened chest as if he were tasting the air anew.

The height was disconcerting at first, though Canon adjusted quickly as he began to slink forward, distracted by a mental chastising for having gone so long without shifting. He didn't want to become too used to one mold over the other. He couldn't imagine that would be very useful to him at all.

His thoughts traveled naturally to the purpose of his journey, to the mythic Salsola, and his father -- who was represented in Canon's head by the ideogram that was the D'Aabt's name -- before he suddenly became aware that someone else was out there. They spoke first; twinkling politeness, with a rustle of long hair; capturing Canon in a vaccuuming pair of profoundly blue eyes set over a slim, waspish muzzle.

Coyote. Crafty, adaptable, resourceful... supervision advised.

Now provoked into interacting, the tri-hybrid straightened with a margin of cool self-possession, and exposed the height of his bare form without reservation. His stance did not invite a closer inspection from the stranger, but nor did it aim to reject him either. His gold-orange eyes narrowed at the loaded question, wondering what it was about his unadorned body that made the interloper ask such a thing.

Then again, he supposed he still smelled like a zoo of things, even if he had nothing to show for it at the moment. A detail he thought would need to be kept track of in the future.

I am not, he replied, crossing his arms across beneath the plate of a lean boxer's breast. But everything's got a price. Are you willing to pay it?

He went on crisply. What do you want? Deservedly no nonsense with this unknown entity.

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Cheshire

POSTED: Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:42 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

He looked familiar, familiar, familiar - a broken mirror of someone, something, he knew, but Julius had not the wherewithal to place the name, nor the proper face, but those gold-orange eyes regarded him with a suspicion that echoed hollow to something he'd seen before. His own blue eyes narrowed, clever, on the hybrid's face while he denied the question Julius had so prodded him with.

The stranger was clipped. Concise.

It was a rarer quality that the Valentine could appreciate.

"Perhaps answers," the tall coyote replied, leaning back onto his heels and pulling his eyes from the stranger's face to, instead, pick a little at his claws, his smile prickling and thin as he nibbled for something to grab onto. "What about you?"

Everyone had desire for something. Lack of civility or otherwise - no one was a stranger to want.

"Why do I feel as though I've known you before?"

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Salsola
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POSTED: Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:30 pm

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Perhaps answers.

Canon's jaw tightened; loathe to give away anything to a complete stranger, let alone answers. He rubbed the fingers of his left hand together beneath the crook of his right elbow, and regarded the young man with a look of bald skepticism. A feeling stirred up by the display of strangely casual confidence from the long, limber coyote.

Did he have allies nearby? A hidden weapon he intended to use?

Canon was already beginning to feel an edge of nervous impatience when the question was suddenly returned to him.

What about you?

The most genuine part of him wanted to wax-poetic about all the things it was he wanted. As he had found purpose in wanting; holding onto each of his desires, no matter how minuscule, and tending to them like plants in a garden. Taking great care to water and prune and re-soil until, at last, his devotion would turn to a full bloom. And he did this despite the tedium.

Maybe even because of it.

He was tight-lipped on the matter, anyway. Whether or not he wished to talk about it. Canon shifted his weight slightly, but didn't otherwise answer. This seemed of little consequence to his company, who seemed fairly eager to move on to another, more pressing topic -- the question of familiarity.

Canon doubted they had met before. He wouldn't have forgotten such coldly prying eyes, or the way that blue, blue color reminded him of gems he'd found as boy in the uncovered vaults of his homestead. He hadn't known their value then -- so the hue only served to remind him of missed opportunity. Perhaps the chance for another...

You ever been to Portland? he asked decidedly.

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POSTED: Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:47 am

pump your veins with gushing gold

He knew the ravenous hunger and want for the indiscernible, things that lay beyond the physical that could not be so easily sated. He, too, wanted, and wanted a great deal of things. He would’ve had them, had he known their names.

Portland. Yes, of course.

”As luck would have it, I have,” Julius answered. It was another piece, carefully laid to fit the puzzle. Those blue eyes didn’t leave those features, the fine quality of the man’s hair and the severity of those eyes, the dark line of his muzzle and the charming gold swatches of his cheeks. What a gaunt man. A handsome man. The familiarity was there, face-wise, but he hadn’t the original owner.

His wits were best kept, though. Avault had come from Portland – there was something dangerous if the two had been connected.

”Are you a music fan?” he asked carefully, nonchalant, with a grin – it was best he kept insinuations to a minimum. ”I learned to play there, at my maman’s behest. Lovely little cesspool, that Portland.”

Julius hazarded a half step closer. It was difficult to discern out friend-or-foe, from such a distance.

”Perhaps I’d glimpsed you then. If you’d like, I do know this area well, if you’re a traveler, friend.”

At least, he knew it well enough.

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Sticks and Stones