Coming of Age

POSTED: Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:11 pm

(462)

All welcome, any number!

Calan had been on the road for a few hours when he saw the town in the distance. The gravel road was starting to get hot underfoot, and his tongue was sticky with dehydration. Though he’d have normally stopped as the sun signaled noon, the sight of this town made him continue onwards. Towns meant cooked food and a real bed to sleep in. The thought of a good meal and a deep sleep was enough to make him feel dizzy. He could see the fish stew already, briny and rich... Or maybe that was the heat exhaustion getting to his head. Hard to say.

As he got closer, he could make out a sign - Searsport. He wasn’t familiar with the name, but that didn’t surprise him. Things have stopped being familiar weeks ago. It was clearly some kind of human town, if the neglected buildings told him anything. So much for that stew, he grimaced as he took in the general state of affairs. Parts of walls had been stripped for supplies, and the homes looked rooted many years ago. If there was any kind of civilization, it wasn’t in these fire hazards. A couple looked like a misplaced sneeze would flatten them.

While Calan walked through town towards the shore, his eyes took in the bay peeking through the buildings. Though he’d grown up in a port town, there was something different that made him feel far from home. It had been three months since he’d last laid eyes on the Saint Lawrence River, and he missed it more than he thought possible. Something in the mix of smells of land and sea, or the shade of the color of the water, made this place feel like a facsimile - close, but not exact.

He thought about his mother, and how much she’d loved the water. She was always happy to make trades with the fisherfolk, to whom she had always given painfully honest rates. He’d always found it strange, considering how keen her eye for customer inflation had been. She wouldn’t hesitate to take double the price from a fool, but she never tried to fool a fisherman. Come to think of it, he’d never asked her why she did that. Then he remembered he’d never be able to ask her.

Newly antsy, Calan reached for a gravel pebble and tossed as he would a skipping stone, watching as it skittered across the cracked pavement and knocked against a house. When the structure didn’t collapse, he reached for another, preparing to do the same. There were still a couple windows he could break for fun, and it might get him out of his little funk. He took aim and let the stone loose.

Loners
Dog
User avatar
Nocturne

POSTED: Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:12 am


Tying the last thong in place, Shamus sighed and stepped back, looking over his work with a critical eye. A half dozen saplings, long branches, and brambles formed a roughly circular clearing on the edge of the meadow, an old fishing net tied around it to form a makeshift pen. He’d learned the hard way that sheep were much too stupid to stick to one safe place for long. Honestly, sometimes it seemed like they willfully sought out death, wandering away from the group, often directly into the path of a predator. Still, the solution he had come up with to keep them in one place seemed to have worked so far. His little flock liked to stick close to his mare Blue, perhaps realizing she was much smarter and better able to care for herself, so he led her into the enclosure after taking off her tack. Letting her loose to graze he stepped out and quickly walked around his sheep to gather them into a closer group and pushed them towards the entrance. Panicked confusion reigned for a few short moments before one ewe finally stepped through the opening and rushed to Blue’s side, the rest of the flock quickly following. “Stupid things,” escaped in a huff as he closed the net and tied it shut, stacking a few brambles in front to finally secure them.

Slinging his quiver over his shoulder and grabbing his bow, he walked away from the area, back towards the small town he had passed a few hours before. Honestly, it was only a ten-minute walk, but finding a well-sheltered meadow and building the pen had taken quite a bit of work. If only he could build a permanent fence, but he had been traveling for months trying to escape his shame and didn’t have anywhere safe to put one. With a sudden shake of his head, he put those thoughts aside. Shamus had worked hard to accept the reality of his new life and was resolved to find a home here, but it still hurt to remember the pain and humiliation of his last few days among his people.

Pausing as he entered the outskirts of the city, Seaport apparently, the wolf-dog let out a single high pitched whistle, then waited. Only a minute or two later the heavy flap of wings and sudden weight on his shoulder announced Rós’ arrival. Sighing softly, he reached up and stroked her breast feathers for a moment as she carefully nuzzled the side of his jaw. His sweet friend, eagle though she was, always knew exactly what he needed a little affection. “Everything okay back with the sheep?”

The rustling of her wing feathers and a sharp click of her beak near his ear answered his question quite clearly. “Alright, I was just asking!” Still chuckling, he continued, “Why don’t you go find yourself dinner, I’m gonna see what I can find in here.” Just as he finished speaking, a sharp crack echoed through the air, startling them both. “Search,” left his lips in a stern tone as he cautiously edged closer to the loud noise, eager to make sure there was no danger. Immediately, the eagle took off in search of potential danger.

A quiet huff finally left his mouth as he finally saw the cause of the disturbance. A pale male, obviously mostly dog, was throwing pebbles through the few remaining windows in the area. Smirking slightly, Shamus called out, “What’d the window ever do to you?”

Sorry this is so long! [584]

Loners
Wolfdog
User avatar
Rio

POSTED: Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:37 am

(393)

No worries, I love it! I took a couple small liberties, please ignore if you disagree :)

So deeply engrossed in his own thoughts, Calan hadn’t even noticed anyone near him until they had called out to get his attention. The rock that he had been aiming at the window veered left and bounced off the wood siding as he jolted in surprise, letting out an unattractive squawk. ”Oh gods, don’t scare me like that!” he yelped, whipping around to see the offender. Any plan to ‘smile pretty for the super nice townspeople who might give him free food’ was swiftly forgotten. But instead of a sailor dog or sea widow, the wolf in front of him could be best described as Tall, Dark and Tastefully Ripped. Calan’s eyes darted to the brand on his chest - not a symbol that he could place, though he’d seen it once or twice before - and pretended not to take in his pecs as he did so.

Right, then.

Focus. He’s armed. I’m not. This could be bad. Act in control.

Calan shifted his weight back, his arms crossed in an attempt at suave indifference. He pursed his lips as he met the other’s eyes, his brow arched. Everything about his attitude oozed that this wolfdog had interrupted some very important work, not that he’d found him destroying property. The cocky attitude was normally enough to get people to stop asking him questions. ”What’s the problem? It’s not like anyone lives in this dump, anyways.” Unless... his stomach turned. ”...u-unless you live here! I always say ‘live within your means’, you know?” He chuckled for effect, but it felt as awkward as it sounded. So much for in control. It had been a while since he’d really had to talk to others in any capacity, beyond a short sentence or two. All this solo traveling was enough to make him rusty.

The blond dog exhaled sharply through his nose, shaking his head as he did so. A lock of hair released itself from his loose braid. ”Shit. Sorry. Let’s start over. I’m Calan. Travelling asshole. Maybe you’ve heard of me?” The blond put out his hand to shake his new acquaintance, trying to smother his hesitation.

Loners
Dog
User avatar
Nocturne

POSTED: Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:21 pm


Carefully smothering his laughter, the dark male let a slight smile cross his face at the stranger’s startled squawk. He hadn’t meant to scare the male, but Shamus had to admit that his reaction was fairly funny. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” A quick glance showed that he was a bit shorter than the wolf-dog with very carefully groomed fur. To be honest, his carefully fluffed up chest fur was a bit impressive. Seeing someone so very pale was a bit odd to Shamus, who was used to canines at least mixed with wolf or coyote. Such canines were very rarely so pale, making him stand out to the hybrid.

The dog mix crossed his arms and arched a brow, obviously trying to appear confident, asking what the problem was before proceeding to ramble about who was living in the area. Finally letting a chuckle escape, Shamus interrupted him. “I’m just passing through the area, don’t worry.” Lifting his bow briefly then letting it drop back down and continuing, “I was going to hunt, but I may need to venture a bit further away to find anything worthwhile after all this commotion.”

The other male, Calan apparently, apologized and asked to start over, which he agreed with a nod. The hybrid reached out to return his handshake, speaking as he did. “Shamus Lochlan. I can’t say I’ve heard of any traveling assholes, sorry.” Reaching up to adjust the quiver slung over his shoulder, the male continued, “You want to join me for a hunt? I could always use a bit of company.”

Before he could warn him about his lack of cooking skill, three sharp high pitched cries echoed through the air. Returning the cry with a single long whistle of his own, Shamus turned back to the pale male and said, “Don’t worry,” pausing for a moment to let Rós land on his shoulder and settle down before continuing, “she’s mine.” Focusing on her for a moment, he softly asked, “Find any prey?” Clicking her beak a few times, she chortled softly in agreement. “Alright then, Calan was it? There’s a few deer a bit further in town, do you want to join me?”

You are just fine! [366]

Loners
Wolfdog
User avatar
Rio

POSTED: Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:15 pm

(415)

Despite Calan’s abhorrent introduction, the wolfdog - Shamus, a proper name for a proper individual - seemed to be fine with Calan’s company. So fine, in fact, he expressed his interest in going hunting with him, as if they were a couple of friends just running into each other on the open road. It was normally Calan that shocked others with his brazen openness, not the other way around. The blond couldn’t help but blink in surprise, head cocked inquisitively, as he considered Shamus’s proposition. Couldn‘t he see that he was going to be a hindrance, what with the white fur and all? What a curious man.

However, before he could answer with words, his stomach chimed in for him with heady enthusiasm. His body wasn’t ready to give up on an offer for food. Calan was hungry: and, in comparison to starving, hunting seemed like a fair solution. It might not be the most complex or fine cuisine out there, but roast deer would surely fill him up. And, given how no one else had poked their heads out at the sound of their voices, he doubted he’d find his fish stew here. He guessed he could make do with something more rugged.

”Well, I don’t see why not. You seem like someone that knows how to bring in a catch.” Calan winked. ”Lead the way, why don’tcha?” He gestured with a sweeping arm for Shamus to walk in front of him, all smiles.

That smile didn’t last for long. The shrill call of a bird pierced the air, sending a chill down Calan’s spine, and the diving blur that fluttered and landed on Shamus’s shoulder was a less than welcoming sight to the blond dog. He’d seen his fair share of ‘pet’ eagles this month - exactly two in as many encounters - and the déjà-vu was a little unnerving. ”You’re into birds, I see?” he frowned, squinting dubiously at its beady eyes and sharp beak. He didn’t have a personal problem with birds, per se, but after seeing another wolf attacked by a ‘tame’ bird of prey, he felt it was only fair to be a little on edge. Still, that didn’t stop Calan from following Shamus as they set off in the direction of the deer.

They’d made it through a couple minutes of silence before Calan piped up again. “So, what puts you on this lonely road, may I ask? Tragic love story? Vision quest? A search for the finer things in life?”

Loners
Dog
User avatar
Nocturne

POSTED: Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:18 pm


While waiting for the other male's response Shamus continued to subtly study his frame. He seemed a little thin like he could use the meat. The grumbling of the pale male's stomach seemed to agree with his conclusion. When Calan winked at him after saying he knew how to bring in a catch the hybrid brow furrowed for a moment. Was the dog mix trying to flirt with him? With a shake of his head, the wolf-dog decided to ignore it and stepped forward to guide them towards prey.

His remark that Shamus appeared to be into birds was greeted with a nod. "Sort of, it's just golden eagles like this pretty girl." He reached up to briefly stroke her breast feathers as she nuzzled the side of his jaw. "Her name is Rós or rose in Irish. She's a sweetheart, but she can be a bit shy around strangers." He commented with a chuckle. "Go on, find your own meal." With that the young bird took off and soared away in search of prey.

Continuing to walk for a few minutes in silence, Shamus was careful to keep them downwind of the small herd of deer his bird had briefly mentioned in a small gap in the buildings. Catching a glimpse of half a track ahead of them, he gestured for his companion to stop. "Look, do you see that?" A newly fallen leaf was crushed into the mud in a faint half wedge shape. It was small, perhaps half as long as his own thumb. "That's a half-grown fawn's track." Pointing perhaps a yard ahead at a larger track, obviously part of a herd's trail, he continued. "That's an adult's track. Probably a doe." The scent of deer was growing stronger as they edged closer to the herd.

Finally reaching the crumbling remains of a brick wall covered in clinging ivy, the male could finally see the herd. It looked like four older does and two female fawns, obviously headed into their first winter. Whispering softly, he said. "Keep quiet and stay here. I'm gonna get a bit closer and take a shot at a fawn." Glancing back at Calan to make sure he understood, he continued. "If I get a hit it might not die right away. If that happens, chase it until it drops, ok?" Pulling out his dagger, Shamus held out the handle towards him. "Once you can reach it, stab this into the middle of the throat, about 2 inches below the jaw, and slice forwards, away from the spine. That should kill it."

A little minor power play here, ignore it if it doesn't work! I was thinking we could end this once they've made a kill? [430]

Loners
Wolfdog
User avatar
Rio

POSTED: Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:35 pm

(393)

All totally fine, right back at you. Any chance we can keep going a little after? I’d love for Calan to ask a couple questions of Shamus as they skin the deer :)

The two set out, side by side, with Calan keeping as much distance between him and the eagle - Rós - as possible. Their pace was moderate, easy enough for him to follow, and their silence companionable. Calan thought once or twice about breaking that silence to ask more questions of the wolfdog who walked beside him, but thought better of it when he saw the apparent joy that silence gave the other man. Besides, the blond was definitely out of his element in terms of hunting - he had no idea whether he would disrupt the process by making mindless chatter.

They had made it a few minutes before Shamus stopped them, crouching low, his hand pointing towards some marks on the ground. With the patience of an elder to a child he explained the deer tracks in front of them - first the younger, then the elder. Calan did his best to take in this information, pleasantly warmed by Shamus’s unpresumptuous attitude. There was no egotistical drive behind teaching Calan how to take care of himself, and for that he was grateful. ”Wow,“ he whispered, mostly to himself, as Shamus stood up again and crept along downwind. Even Calan couldn’t miss the gamey musk of the deer nearby. His heart quickened in an instinctual excitement. He followed, staying quiet, not wanting to mess this up for him.

It felt like mere moments later that they could see the herd in the distance. Calan could feel his heart in his throat, fluttering erratically. Then Shamus handed him the knife, cool and calm, along with a set of instructions. Calan only half-listened to these as his grip tightened, his mind reeling as he processed what he was about to do. Throat, jaw, spine. He could already hear the crack of bones and see the blood. His heart, if possible, beat even faster.

Does he really expect me to kill something? Me? The burden of this trust weighed heavily on him.

”You got it, boss,” he stammered, looking at the knife as if his hand belonged to someone else, someone far removed from this time and place. It all felt strangely detached. ”How will I know—-“ But before he could ask anything else, Shamus was gone, and he was left alone to his own thoughts. He wondered if he really was prepared for the task ahead. He’d never killed anything before. Everything had always been given to him, and now he had to go out there and take. Did he even have the stomach for it?

In the distance the deer continued to graze, nuzzling through the green grass for any weeds, herbs or roots. The fall wind was cool and soothing against their fur as the sun baked down on them. The eldest deer, a grizzled, well-travelled doe, swept the surrounding area for any unusual sights. Nothing seemed amiss as of yet. She looked at her fellow herd mates, perhaps listening to the sound of their chewing, then back to the field once again.

Loners
Dog
User avatar
Nocturne

POSTED: Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:04 pm


Nodding firmly once Calan had acknowledged his instructions, the male turned away and began to work his way closer to the herd. Partially crouched, Shamus made sure to stick to the shadows and watch his every step, careful not to step on any stray stick or twig that could give him away. His dark coat would help keep him hidden, but caution was still important. He watched the herd too, freezing every time one of them looked up to scout for danger. Deer were smart, wary beasts and the slightest mistake on his part could send them fleeing. Finally stopping deep in the shadows cast by a crumbling wall, he began to study the herd.

One grizzled doe, obviously the eldest, was the most watchful. She scanned the area for anything unusual after every bite, and he could see her nostrils quiver as she strove to catch the scent of predators. A short distance from her side was a much younger doe, obviously, a fawn heading into her first winter. The hybrid preferred to leave adult does alone, as they were often pregnant, but a half-grown thing like her had just enough weight to make a good meal, without risking any future young. His decision made, Shamus pulled an arrow from his quiver and notched it against his bow. Standing in a single slow, yet fluid, motion, he took aim.

His heart was pounding rapidly with adrenalin, but he carefully controlled his breathing, making sure he couldn't be detected. As he took a deep breath he drew back on his bow, muscles straining with the effort. The male's eye line narrowed intently on the fawn, focusing on her back, just above her shoulder blade. Then he turned his attention to the arrow's path, as he followed it through the air, into skin, muscle, and finally her heart in his mind's eye. The wind suddenly changed direction, blowing his companion's scent straight at the herd.

The fawn spun sharply at the scent, but Shamus followed his target well, and in the same instant the herd began to run, he let the arrow fly. The twang of his bowstring echoed through his ears, but the wolf-dog ignored it in favor of watching his arrow's flight. It struck her directly in the center of her back just as she began a leap forward, and sunk into her flesh. One leap, two, then she fell to the ground heavily, bleating in pain. The arrow, tipped with a heavy stone and fired from a powerful bow, had managed to strike her spine, shattering both the bone and the arrowhead, leaving her paralyzed but alive.

Yeah, that works great! I figured Calan might like the chance to make his first kill. I have the rest of the weekend off, so maybe we could spreed the end of this, if that works for you? [439]

Loners
Wolfdog
User avatar
Rio

POSTED: Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:04 am

WARNING: This post contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It contains graphic depictions of blood and animal death. Reader discretion is advised.

(402)

Sure! I’m around all day today, happy to spree, but I am GMT +1 so that you’re warned :)

The quiet was palpable as Calan waited in the shadows, knife in hand, his eyes fixed to the herd but not really seeing much of anything. He was imagining what he was about to see in front of him, but could only think about hunting in the abstract: an animal would go down, there would be blood, and that animal would be turned into bloodless chunks of meat. He knew there were more steps in between, but he couldn’t imagine what those looked like. Only time would tell, he supposed.

Then Shamus stood up a few meters away, and with well-practiced grace and strength notched the arrow and pulled back on the bowstring. Taking in Shamus’s taut muscles, Calan hadn’t realized until that moment how much power it took to fire an arrow. There was a beat, then two, of silence as the wolfdog took aim. And then, just as Shamus was about to shoot, something changed. The herd looked in their direction, eyes taking in the intruder, and dashed towards safety.

But Shamus was faster, and his arrow true. It lodged itself squarely in the back of one of the younger does. She leaped once, twice, before collapsing in the dry grass. The sound she made was unlike anything Calan had ever heard before, and it cleaved his heart in two to hear it, but instinct had taken over. Though his knees shook and his balance was unsteady, he stumbled towards their prey, mind fixated on the task at hand. Throat,jaw,spine.

The smell of fear and blood curdled in Calan’s nose as he stood over the small doe, being careful to avoid her still-kicking legs. Her eyes had gone white with fear, and a thick mucus of blood and saliva coated her nose and mouth. Calan’s heart pounded in his ears, his grip on the knife clammy; yet he knew what he had to do. With eyes squinted shut, he dug the knife into the deer’s throat, unable to tune out the wet gurgling as she attempted to breathe around the blade. His teeth clenched so tightly he worried they would crack as he grunted, trying to slice through the tough sinews and muscles. The doe twitched once, twice, and then stilled, as blood seeped out to cover his hand still holding the blade, fingers frozen. Calan’s breaths came out in quick pants as he took in what he had done.

Loners
Dog
User avatar
Nocturne

POSTED: Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:02 pm


Letting his bow fall back to his side as he watched the doe fall to the ground, Shamus finally took in a new breath of air as he did. Calmly stepping forward towards her, Calan's stumbling steps towards the deer caught his attention. His knees were shaking as he moved, obviously off balance. A frown furrowed his brow briefly, then the wolfdog realized what was going on. Shit. This was his first kill. Letting out a sigh, he began walking again with long, sure strides. If he'd known this was the other male's first kill he would have explained a bit more about what he expected he expected.

Reaching the pale canine's side just as he drove the knife into the fawn's throat, he mused that at least he had thought to give him some explanation. Their prey now still, he reached out to rest a hand on his shoulder as he panted quickly. "Well done." Sensing the need for a little reassurance, Shamus continued. "You ended her suffering quickly and humanely, as all hunters should."

Turning his attention back to the situation at hand, he grabbed the carcass by the back feet and dragged her over to a nearby tree. Calmly setting aside his bow and quiver, he grabbed a length of rope from its depths. Glancing back at Calan, he said. "We need to get started on butchering quickly, it will take us a while." With that, he efficiently punched a hole in each of the fawn's rear hocks, right where the flesh was thinnest between the bone and the tendon, with the claw on his index finger. Feeding the rope through both holes, Shamus swiftly began to string up the body to drain. Grunting with the effort once he had managed to lift her enough to get the rope over a branch, the male hauled her up so that her front feet dangled a few inches from the ground.

Now ready to begin, the hybrid instinctively reached down to his belt to grab his knife, only to remember he had given it to his companion. Turning towards him, Shamus held out his hand and said, "Hand me the blade and I'll show you how to skin a kill."

Ah, I'm MST so that probably won't work. [371]

Loners
Wolfdog
User avatar
Rio

Western Forefront