It was almost noon when Wally got to Cape Hopewell, just in time for high tide. There was a large rock near the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean, and it seemed to be a good place for the dog to sit down for a while. Pulling off the sack that carried his few valuables, he dumped all the contents to the side and reached for a bundle of deerskin holding his sewing materials.
A few days ago, Wally discovered a hole in his sack and the lack of most of his belongings. Whether the bag got caught on a branch or one of his spearheads tore it open didn't matter much over the fact he lost most of his supplies. Of course, a few things were too large to fall out and he found other items when backtracking, but he lost a lot of essential items. While he didn't miss the medicine too much, the missing firestarter would make winter a lot less comfortable.
He had hastily stitched the sack together the day it happened, but he didn't want to risk it opening up again. That, and the abysmal condition of his "cloak", made him decide to sew in a new bottom to the sack. Sure, it would deplete most of the catgut thread he had, but he'd rather waste it on some extra insurance he didn't need instead of discovering it missing and a much larger hole later.
The items he did have, aside from his sewing stuff, were a mix of human artifacts and canine-created tools. Of the artifacts, he only had a plastic piece from a Rubik's cube and a broken revolver left. Of his newer items, he had a dull knife and a spearhead his father had given him along with a thick branch he thought about turning into a club.
He had already placed the scrap of what remained of his cloak into position and began sewing. While he worried the thread wouldn't be enough, he tried to focus on the ocean. While he wasn't in the mood to jump in and get wet, it was still breathtaking to see how expansive it was, not to mention how calming it was to hear the waves clash with the cliff side. He wouldn't mind coming back here again in the future, if he decided to stay in the area.
It was always an adventure when Nick and Toh decided to go riding outside of the Vale's territory.
Today they headed south, to lands still fairly unknown, and they very quickly ran into the coastline; naturally, to avoid diving headlong into the ocean, they instead decided to follow the beach down further and see where it would take them.
Whereas Phoenix usually reveled in this sort of primitive sense of freedom — the wind in his mane, the blur of colors flashing past as Tohopka thundered through the sand — something was off. He was unusually distracted as of late.
He never usually dwelled on women, but he caught his mind wandering back to the amber-eyed Lyssa more and more, and he absolutely hated it.
She was cute as a button and nice and kind and just the kind of woman he would have liked to see more often, except he didn't want to fall into that trap. It was a trap he knew well and avoided thusly; it was a trap that was fatal to men like him. The coymutt was always so confident and flirtatious and it only came back to bite him in the rear when a decent person began to fall for his act.
Musing over the what-ifs and the what-thens did not last for much longer, however, as he spotted a figure further up the beach; he clicked his heels against Toh's sides, and the massive black stallion slowed to a halt, allowing the Mistwalker a better look at the stranger. Definitively doggish, the young man was pouring over an odd assortment of curiosities, needle in hand, and the cowboy whistled to him in greeting.
"Howdy there, stranger," he called, stopping the mustang at a respectable distance from the younger man. "This here's a pretty back drop fer sittin', gotta hand it to ya." Tohopka snorted and shuddered with heavy exhales, still catching his breath from the exhilarating run.
[+300] hi there! hope you don't mind me joining in!
OOC - Not at all, I was waiting for someone to show up!
The whistle was enough to break Wally's concentration. With the newfound interruption, the dog realized how sore his back was and stretched it, while bringing his attention to the approaching canine on horseback. While it wasn't the first time he saw such a thing, the rarity of the sight was enough to generate some interest. The horse the canine was riding on sported a black coat and was large enough to intimidate the dog a bit, even from a distance. The canine himself seemed to be a coyote in both size and patterning, sporting some interesting pants. Wally didn't have much experience with denim and was curious about how he made them, even in the poor condition they were in.
Wally glanced to the sky to determine how long he was there, surprised by the amount of time that passed by. It felt like he was there for an hour or so, but the position of the sun suggested he was there for much longer. Inspecting the sack, he noted how he was almost done, just a hand's length to go until he could cut the string. It took him longer than he thought it would, but the stitching seemed sturdy enough, if a bit excessive.
Turning his attention back to the approaching coyote, he made a short wave with his good arm. "Afternoon," he responded to the coyote's call as the horse came to a halt. The horse's heavy breaths made Wally guess the two have been traveling for some time. Maybe the two knew the land better than him.
Wally couldn't see any reason to disagree with the coyote's comment. Looking at it now, it was definitely an interesting change of pace compared to the forests or the ruins he was used to. Even when he was sewing up the sack, the calm breeze felt nice on his fur. "Aye, I can agree with that." He started to sew again, his attention still on the coyote. "By chance, are ye also a traveler? I just got into the area me-self, and I had little luck with finding anyone." After that, he added, "By the way, me name's Wally. What about ye?"
He seemed a harmless enough fellow, Phoenix reckoned. Inoffensive and agreeable, just as the man upon the horse liked to think he himself was. His words were tinged with a peculiar dialect, one more foreign than even Phoenix's in these parts, and the coymutt's ears pricked as he listened to the dark-furred male.
As he busied himself with his needle once more, Phoenix took the chance to swing his leg over the saddle and dismount, feeling the sand bury itself between his toes underfoot. Tohopka shifted beside him, probably glad for the momentarily respite.
"Well sure, 'm a traveler, sorta," he answered, stretching out his stiff limbs. "We're a lil' far from home, I reckon, but we ain't been in these parts fer too long. I live in Mistfell Vale, now; it's back thata way." He pointed vaguely in the direction they had came.
"Nice t'meet ya, Mister Wally," he answered with a grin, sticking out a hand to him for a shake. "'M Phoenix, n' this fella's name is Tohopka." The stallion in question glanced over at his name, but otherwise he began to wander away from them, curious to find a patch of grass, probably in vain.
"Where'd you come from, partner? Since you ain't from 'round here n' yer a traveler n' all. Toh n' I are from Arizona, out west. Took us a hot minute t'get all the way out here, lemme tell ya."
So he was also new to the area? At the very least, it seemed the coyote was much more knowledgeable of this place than the dog, and more so when he spoke about Mistfell Vale. Wally's ears perked up when the coyote pointed to the direction of what he believed was a town. The thoughts of not freezing to death during winter was enough to excite the shepherd, his tail thumping against the rock a bit. He knew he had to be careful about trespassing, but his entire trip north was full of the accidental act, though he was sure he could keep himself from repeating the mistake. "Mistfell Vale? Sounds like an interesting place. Maybe I'll drop by in the future. Are they hostile to travelers like me-self?"
It didn't take long for Wally to realize what the outstretched hand was for. His old pack didn't do the act, but he met another dog who did something similar. He was sure it was a kind of greeting and moved to shake it, wincing a bit at how stiff his scarred arm felt.
The dog's head made a quizzical tilt at the name of the coyote and his horse companion. He was sure he heard the Phoenix was some kind of bird that lived...overseas? Wally wasn't entirely sure about that, but was less sure of Tohopka. He hadn't even heard of the word until now. "Nice to meet ye too," was all he could say, unsure of how to ask "what kind of name is Tohopka" without possibly angering either individual.
The mention of Arizona made Wally's head tilt even more. He was sure he never heard of an "Arizona" as long as he lived, and maybe that was were their names came from. He also wanted to ask how long a "hot minute" was, but the coyote asked him a question first.
Wally didn't actually know where he used to live at, otherwise he wouldn't be here now. He sighed before saying, "I came from the south. I think I was a bit more west than here. It took me...a month? Roughly a month to come out here, but it's like here, with lots of trees." An embarrassed grin crossed his face. "I got lost and wandered up here. I hope yer journey up here was better than me own."
With his question out of the way, Wally tried to ask some of his. "If ye don't mind, what is this 'Arizona' place ye're from? Sounds like an interesting place."
"Oh, 'course not, they're real friendly," he assured Wally, but he bit his lip and cleared his throat. "We're real friendly, more like." He chuckled a little. "Sorry, still tryin' t'get use to this whole, uh, pack thing. I reckon it's my first one." The ranch had just been his family, but perhaps their little unit could have been categorized as a pack if he squinted at it hard enough. Although he never did like to think too hard as it was.
"M'sister lives out there n' convinced me t'join. Whole slew of nice folk out there, pretty relaxed place." He had been a little afraid initially that pack life would be stuffy and uppity, but he was happily mistaken. Besides, even if it had been, a woman like Sedona would not have thrived there and begged him to join up with her.
There was some percievable confusion in the stranger's face, and Nick supposed that was to be expected. "Ho boy, how 'bout that? Personally I ain't ever seen so many trees in my life 'til I got up here." Red rock country was starkly different from Nova Scotia.
He let out a "hmm". "I mean, 'bout as nice as walkin' fer days on end can be," he mused, stroking his chin, and Tohopka snorted behind him, probably wondering why they were still on this grassless beach. "'Least you wandered into a nice enough place."
"Oh, Arizona?" he repeated, his voice growing in volume. His tail wagged behind him and he grew audibly excited, like an old man eager to spill stories of his youth. "Weeeeeeeell, it's real far west of here, like I said, and it's real, uh, red. A heh heh." He flashed his acquaintance a grin. "Ain't no trees hardly, lots of rocks n' wide open space n' such. These parts almost felt claus-tro-phobic at first, you know what I mean? Ain't ever seen so much green before, so many trees."
A shrug. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I like these parts just as well, but... You never can forget yer home, y'know?"
[+300] when wally is titled up in MV he and nick should definitely have another thread, btw!! :D
I'm up for that, let's just see if Zuri lets him in first! 351 Words
Even if Phoenix was overstating how friendly Mistfell was, the coyote himself was enough for convince Wally it was a place he could survive at. He seemed to be sane enough, and had no qualms talking to a dog. If the pack had something big against dogs, he doubted Phoenix would even talk with him.
By the sound of it, it took the coyote as long as he did getting here. Did it mean his sister came here, joined Mistfell, traveled back, talked him into joining, and the two came here? That seemed ridiculous, making him guess something motivated him to travel here. "Any reason why ye traveled east?" Hopefully, it didn't trigger any bad memories, but he seemed friendly enough. If it did, he could just apologize.
Wally could see the energy coming from the coyote as he started speaking of this Arizona. It sounded like it was a mix of plains and mountains. Could it be some sort of flat mountain range? He also wondered what a red world looked like. He had seen red in nature before, but it sounded like his lands were covered in the color. It was almost foreign to him, but he could get a good enough idea, and knew of lands without trees. He didn't find himself too attached to trees, since they could hide attackers and limited the wind.
Home. Wally didn't feel his ears falter as he wondered how his old pack was doing. Has it been three months? Four? He didn't know, but he was positive they were still alright. Unlike him, the pack had more than warriors, weavers, and healers, and those they had were better than he was. If he managed to survive for this long, they should be doing fine enough, though he knew he was unsure how much longer he can continue. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind, he'll think about it after he finished sewing his bag. "Aye, I can agree to that, but that 'Arizona' really does sound like an interesting place. Maybe I'll travel there one of these days."
He touched his chin thoughtfully at Wally's question, and then his shoulders rolled in a shrug. "Just had t'get out and see the world, I reckon," he answered. Phoenix wriggled his toes as bits of sand and dirt caught between them. "M'sister left before me, headed east, too. So I just kinda, y'know, followed her path. I only found her by some miracle or fate or somethin'." Thank Christ for Lyssa pointing him in the right direction. Otherwise he would have been wandering for quite a bit longer.
He chuckled good-naturedly, apple green eyes flicking over to Tohopka briefly. The stallion was growing a little restless, he could tell, so he padded over to his side and dug around in the saddle bag, fishing out one of the tart apples from Mistfell's orchard. "Will this hold you over, big guy?" he taunted for a moment, holding the fruit just out of reach, only for the equine to lurch forward with a snort and tear the apple from the man's hand. Phoenix laughed a bit at that, raising a brow at the other male, wondering if he got a kick out of seeing the horse's antics.
Phoenix did, at least.
"If ya ever do, you better let me know," he told him, wagging a finger at Wally. "I wanna hear what'cha think. I could be yer guide, even, if you give me some notice." He grinned again. "Just swing by the Vale and we'll see some real red rock country."
He tilted his head slightly. "So where you lookin' t'head towards, Mister Wally? Or are you just goin' with the wind?"
So he was an explorer? Wally respected his enthusiasm to explore unknown lands, even if he was following someone else. The dog was never too keen of leaving his world behind, just happy to remain in his pack for as long as he lived, even if there was a path to greener pastures. At the very least, it seems the two weren't the most adept at direction, and they both seemed to be lucky enough to not be dead yet.
Seeing Phoenix retrieve an apple for his horse seemed rather sweet to Wally, at least until he started messing with Tohopka. Even as he cracked a smile in response to the coyote's laugh, he knew such an action was frowned upon by the spirits, not to mention irritating an animal you use to travel on wasn't the smartest of ideas. His faint smile grew into a smirk. "Aye, annoy the horse, that be a good idea," he said, "I hope Mistfell be not that far of a walk." Sure, irritating a coyote with a pack may have the dog ran out of the area, but Phoenix seemed friendly enough, and Wally wasn't the smartest of dogs to not try such a joke.
The coyote's playful demeanor made Wally smile. Just losing most of his belongings meant it would be a while before he could attempt such a journey, but he would definitely give it some thought in the future. "Aye, I'll do that."
The shepherd dog let out a sigh, crossing his arms. "I don't know where to stop now, but I want to join another pack. It'll be a one-in-a-million chance I'll be able to find me old pack, and I've little luck when it comes to finding one. I want to join one before winter starts." His demeanor darkened, fear evident on his face. "I've only survived one winter so far, but it was very rough. I got really sick for a month, and I felt like dying the entire experience. I don't want to repeat that, especially alone."
It was all in good humor, at least, and Wally seemed to pick up on it. His little warning caused the cowboy to chuckle, and he gave his new acquaintance a little shrug. "I'd really be outta luck if he decided t'leave me here," he answered candidly. "Vale's not too far, sure, but it sure ain't close neither. It'd be a longer walk than I really wanna take on at this moment in time, 'least."
There hadn't ever been an instance where Phoenix's teasing had gotten to the equine that badly, though, or at least not in recent memory. The pair had been together through thick and thin, and they had their fair share of bickering and arguing, sure — but beneath it all, they were just about as thick as thieves. He could always count on Toh to get him out of a tight spot; it wouldn't have been the first time it happened, anyhow.
He met Wally's spiel with another finger at his muzzle, musing. "Don't mean to be biased but I think you oughta give the Vale a try," he suggested. "They welcomed me in like an old friend. Didn't know no one aside from m'sister. They're relaxed-like, once y'get t'know them." His head titled slightly. "I hadn't ever been in a proper winter m'self; they ain't nothin' special where I'm from, just a chilly summer, almost. But here, I hear they got snow." He laughed. "Hadn't even seen that m'self, so that'll be somethin' special."
The mutt cleared his throat before continuing, "But they could help you with yer winter problem, I'd say. Could be a good place to hunker down if that's what yer lookin' for — and maybe a little more." Phoenix himself was just beginning to see all the Vale had to offer, after all.
[+300] i am trash. i am so sorry about this wait, the holidays kept me away from the forums! x.x we can definitely work out a newer thread for these two though. <3