[RO] frozen the river that baptized you

POSTED: Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:10 pm

Postdated September 5 in Halifax. More to come.

He called Halifax home not for the immeasurable resources that could be scavenged from the streets. Not for its buildings, though Judas did so love architecture. Not for its strays or its lack of greenery or its consistent independence away from pack borders and their leaders with grabby hands. No, Judas resided in Halifax because it was quiet. Solemn. Unique. It was a concrete jungle of sorts, with his chosen residence far enough from the sea air to keep flares of his scleritis at bay. The Aika resided there because it was a maze. It was unnatural, unnerving to those grown in the wilderness. It warded away the weak and perturbed, those not confident enough to bother concerning themselves with the lives of the people that came before.

There were exceptions to the rule: The unsuited occasionally wandered through. As a resident Judas was occasionally present to bear witness to the unequipped stragglers, and today was one of those days.

A child, no more than a few months old at best. Judas found her while traveling south through the city towards his home in the hat shop; at first glance she was another alleycat, but at second a quivering, big-eyed whelp staring out from within the rubble. Dirty little thing, with a dog's pelt and colors. The Aika's trained nose smelled no other lingering scents, neither that of a parent or a pack on her he could recognize. Had she been abandoned? My, wasn't he fortunate.

Without missing a beat he said, smiling and leaning down from afar, "Hello there, little one. Are you alone?" Unblinking she did not answer, and so he continued. "You must be cold and hungry. What's your name?"

Still, silence. The pup stared into his bloodshot eyes with turquoise orbs of her own. He might have thought her cute, like a raggy stuffed doll, had he the capability for such warm comparison.

So Judas, testing her, at once flared his fur and snarled, "Speak, girl!" but she did not budge. She neither spoke nor ran, frozen like a statue yet quivering like a leaf. Not quite a fighter, not quite a coward, but scarred. She was but a few months old and had already witnessed something far more terrifying than one bloody-eyed man and a flash of his jowls.

Enthralled with the possibilities and the brashness of a child so young, Judas stood and started for her with pocketknife patiently drawn, his step unyielding for fear she would flee, nor intimidating to halt her in place. She would fight him, that went without saying, and when Judas drew near enough she scattered from the trash only to be swept up into his expecting arms. Yelping at last she thrashed and snapped her teeth at his hands and fur and anything else within reach, closing her tiny teeth once on a pair of his fingers and tasting blood on her tongue for the first time and undoubtedly not the last.

Patient and unprovoked by the pain Judas pressed the knife to her throat and felt the pup stiffen in his grasp. "I'll ask you again," he said. "What is your name?"

She knew her name — Mistral de l'Or — but she did not whimper or beg for her life, branding her in the Aika's mind as either fortuitous for a child or incredibly stupid. Satisfied, Judas wrapped his now oozing hand around her snout and muzzled her jaws shut. There were no sighs of relief, no gentle whispers for her to calm down. No sympathy. He turned and marched home with the wiggling pup trapped in his arms no more than a few minutes after first laying eyes on her. No triumph in his step, no fear. He felt nothing, just as he always did.

The Aika would not strike her into submission over the following days; in fact, he would lay no hand upon her. He made no promises to feed or care for her, and scarcely provided what she needed to remain breathing. Instead the wolf locked her away in the birdcage, the one scavenged from Anathema. The very same cage his own mother had locked him at Mistral's age, for hours and days at a time, just as Judas did to the pup. When present he asked her questions she would not answer, for she would not speak a thing with him. He would not cry out or beg to be set free, not while the Aika lurked nearby. But when he left, the child cried and cried and cried, hoping someone would hear, hoping her thrashings against the polished black bars would yield.

But the bars did not break, no one came running, and somewhere the child could hear her headless mother laughing.

gonna turn her head until she's mine, all mine
Loners
DEAD
User avatar
Lin
Luperci set free went the blackbird to Gethsemane
MALUM DISCORDIAE
THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER

POSTED: Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:45 am

A few weeks later. Postdated September 20 in Halifax.

Should he have passed on his return to Cercatori d'Arte and remained by himself in the Halifax area? Micah had started to seriously reconsider; he was far too nervous for pack life, for any responsibilities that could be handed to him. No doubt Skye allowed his return beyond begrudgingly. He was a worthless, useless insect to someone like she and her pack. He had a semblance of talent for his graffiti work, but knew it was still nothing compared to anything his packmates could create. Of course, Micah would tell them nothing of these worrysome storms in his head. Not unless prompted. If he pretended nothing was wrong in their midst, someday he might believe it to be true.

But he considered Halifax a second home for obvious reasons: It was close to his Cercatori home and borders, that went without saying. But it was one of few cities in his travels that spraypaint had been found, empty or filled, and many in a usable condition. Nervous as he was Micah trekked between city and packlands quite often, never knowing what to expect to find in his artistic endeavors, and admiring the graffiti of old in the furthest hovels of the city as he went.

Typically the coyote avoided any and every lingering scent of a body he came across. Micah wanted no confrontation, no trouble. He wanted to find spraypaint and go home. More often than not, he did. But echoing in the streets he heard the whimpering cries of a pup high-pitched in his ears and paused from digging in the trash to listen. A child? He smelled no packs, but a musky scent like incense thin in the air. Distant enough to be safe, the coyote had thought. Coward that he was, Micah disregarded the noise at first. Likely just fussing or unhappy. He wasn't a father; he hadn't cared for children. How was he to know the difference? He had never even loved another soul, not sensually.

It sunk in, little by little, the longer the cries persisted. Something was wrong. Micah came to recognize the sound as urgent and afraid, not fussing, and after a length of time spent chewing on his hand in quiet panic, the coyote started for the source of the cries, his ears constantly swiveling, eyes poking from his skull, tail between his legs. Body in a terrified tremor every step of the way.

So far, so good. None came snarling. His throat was not yet ripped out. More than once the coyote froze in place at a sound out of place, or changed his mind and started away before spinning on his heels for the pup once again.

At the base of an old hat shop Micah found the noise loudest and surrounding musk strongest. The scent, he found, spoke like an invitation within, not the warning it should have been. It's a trap, Micah considered. All of this is a trap and something is going to jump out and kill me. I should go home. I should go home and tell someone else to come.

The coyote stood there for quite some time considering it. The scent was stale, and its owner evidently not present. Eventually, summoning false courage, Micah held one long, shaking breath and forged further in, trembling, trembling, trespassing. The cries howled through the ceiling once within the shop, and with all his senses peaked and chest hyperventilating he crept up the stairs in the back and listened to the creak of every step under foot.

"He-he-he-hello?" he stammered at the top, mud-hued eyes flashing every which way. Like a guard dog the hollows of a coyote skull stared at him across where he emerged and his knees began to knock. Shattered glass everywhere, aligned with the fall of the sunlight through the windows, dancing white designs on the walls. Papers of an illogical text on the tables, the chairs, the floors. Red drawings and pentagrams. Micah pulled at his ears and whined, "I-I-I-Is someone th-th-th-there? I-I-I heard something cr-crying and th-thought someone might be hu-hu-hurt..."

No one came, and the sounds silenced. Dust glittered in the sunbeams, and where the light fell on the floorboards Micah met the turquoise eyes of a girl, just a couple months old, staring back up at him from behind the bars of a polished birdcage.

"Oh g-g-g-god!" he burst, diving to her aid without thinking, trying to pull the black bars apart. They would not budge. How had she gotten in? She couldn't have gotten herself trapped. The poor thing appeared hungry and sick. Though cramped the pup flattened herself against the opposite wall and stared, silent, just as terrified as he.

"I-I-It's okay," he said, trying to sound comforting. It didn't work. "I'll get you out. I w-w-w-won't hurt you, i-it's okay..."

But the bars would not budge, and the locking contraption along the base rusted and difficult to alter. Someone had put her within and set it. Giving up, Micah swept the entirety of the bars into his arms, child still trapped within, and darted back from whence he came: down the stairs, out the door, down the street and home to Cercatori d'Arte. Someone would help him get that damned cage apart. Someone would help him find out who she was and how she had met such conundrum. Someone. Anyone.


User avatar
Lin
Luperci
passion, hope
& resistance

POSTED: Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:23 am

Continues here.

He returned to an empty house.

No cries, no whimpers, no pup. Judas did not mind the child's absence, as he had learned all he could from one so young, and he had quite grown weary of scrounging around food and water for the damned thing to keep breathing. It had ingested far more than one supposedly traumatized should, and Judas could not be bothered to keep up with it. So someone had come to "rescue" her at last, and in doing do laid witness to the Aika's humble abode. That he did not mind, but he could be traced back. It would take only one Casa di Cavalieri meathead coming to inquire and break his neck.

But Judas was prepared for this of course, else he would not have contained the pup in his personal quarters like an invitation within. Undoubtedly she cried while he was away, but it was a wonder it had taken so long for someone to listen and approach. The Aika would have to monitor surrounding scents more diligently to ensure his safety. And when his guests came inquiring, he would have a number of questions for them just the same. Particularly where she had been taken, but the lingering reek of a d'Artisan made it obvious. By the smell, the poor fool must have near pissed himself during his visit. No matter.

But the birdcage was gone too.

Judas had anticipated the possibility of its disappearance, but saw it as an unlikely risk. Why would a fool — other than himself, he supposed, as Judas was not a fool — take the cage along with the child within? A logical man would have opened the door rescued the girl and left behind the prison bars. What he was dealing with here was either another dashing man such as himself seeking to similarly explore the psychological plausibilities of a child in a cage... or a bumbling idiot who either could not get the door open or could not think straight enough to figure it out any other way. The smell was Cercatori, and so Judas concluded the latter. Artists were creative, not smart.

Judas had only very recently reclaimed that birdcage, only to have it taken from him again. He would not stand for this. He would have to make a few visits. And for once, Judas was irritated. Not angry, not furious, just irritated. A feeling — Judas felt something genuine.

And he hated it.

gonna turn her head until she's mine, all mine
Loners
DEAD
User avatar
Lin
Luperci set free went the blackbird to Gethsemane
MALUM DISCORDIAE
THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER

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