[m] a promise made of smoke in a frozen copse of trees

POSTED: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:37 pm

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.


(—) Private. Set in mid-January.

The sky bled. It bled as it bled every night, when the water soaked up the sun. Siv had told Loki stories of the wolf brothers who chased sun and moon, hoping to devour them—the grandsons of his namesake—but Loki wondered if the sunset was not some god making a sacrifice. When blood spilled in Salsola, it spilled with blessings and promises, slaughtered rams on a hörgr and a bountiful hunting season. Why not, then, kill the sun each night, drown it, watch the life soak from the sky until it turned black, so that a new day would come?

Loki watched the sunset, and under the cover of dusk flicked his hood up, touched the hilt of his dagger, and went for a walk.

Over the past several nights, he'd killed two men to avenge the girl raped by the water, swallowed by the seafoam. He'd gathered information, disguised himself, set his traps, lied—each time a new face, an act. He controlled his face well, was able to twist it from confusion to terror to warmth, and even now it was still, undisturbed like a pool of water. He didn't feel a thing.

His hand tremored under his cloak, but Loki didn't feel a thing.

The third man, the leader, the snow-colored husky, remained. He would have noticed his companions—if not the first, throat slit and hidden in a grotto, then the second, swinging bulge-eyed and black-tongued in the woods in the foothills. It was dangerous, because if he was intelligent he'd know, but the cloak and the night swallowed the silver of Loki's fur and choked his scent with leather and pine. He wouldn't be recognized, he thought. By the morning, he'd reek of the cave-dwelling pack again. He'd lie to him, coerce him, and trap him like a fox.

His face did not stir, but Loki wanted to laugh; the alternative was crying.

But even as controlled as he was, as wily, stealthy, he was only little more than a year old, and he jumped when a high, happy laugh sang out in the cold air like a nightbird. He spun around then he smiled. I didn't see you there.

Zeke grinned and inclined his head. We all get lost in our thoughts sometimes, he said, warmly, as if to make the young coywolf feel okay, even comforted and happy, about his obliviousness.

Loki released the dagger hilt and swept his hand over his face briefly, miming relief. I'm Vel. He smiled tentatively and looked the slim, handsome husky over. Dusk painted him with an array of colors, a blank canvas. Night would turn him grey—and in the day, he'd be pure white again, not a speck of dirt. Loki wondered how long it had taken to scrub Holly's blood off his hands.

Hi, Vel, the eunuch said, ever so gently. Let's walk.

Loki hesitated briefly, wanted to hide the surprise on his face—but it made sense for Vel to be surprised, and so he gawked briefly at the man, who now laughed. I feel unsafe here these past few weeks. I see you have a weapon, so I was wondering if you could escort me to the beach.

The beach, the coywolf thought, and his ears flattened and changed the shape of his hood. Okay, he replied awkwardly, hiding fury. Which beach? The eastern shoreline, or—

The shape of Zeke's face changed as he raised his eyebrows and laughed. No, how ridiculous, he said, and walked toward the bay, leaving the disguised Salsolan to trot after him. His lilac eyes flicked to the sunset, and he frowned while Zeke's back was turned, even as the snow and grass under his feet turned to gravel, sand. He stepped on a piece of driftwood, which cracked, and he flinched.

They walked close to where the river met the bay—close to home, dangerously close. Zeke stopped on an outcropping of rock, scanning the water below, the lapping waves. They broke on the stone and washed up on the sand and pebbles, shifting under Loki's feet. The saltwater sucked at his paws with the wet sand, but Loki adjusted his step. In a matter of moments he learned how to walk in silence. His cloak swept back, snapped in a sudden gust of wind, and he wrapped his pale fingers around the handle of the dagger, eyes narrow.

Holly belonged to me, Zeke said. He turned, and his hand connected with Loki's face. It wasn't even a punch, instead a gentle swat, almost like the ritualistic slap in Salsola cultured—but it staggered him. She worshipped me, the husky continued, unfazed, even as Loki reeled. But then she started to say no—and that wouldn't do. And when her father castrated me, I showed her that I still had my fingers and tongue. And when she ran away, I chased her. I found her and I had her and you thought you had some right to change that. His tone turned sorrowful, and he shook his head.

Loki breathed, ragged, and adjusted his grip on the dagger; his paw pads sweated. You're a monster, he snarled. Anyone who touches a woman like that—I'll flay you, he said, and stepped forward, the blade arcing. Zeke leaned back, and glanced down at the red line on his chest. I'll strip the skin from your flesh and throw you into the saltwater, Loki swore, and slashed again.

Rocks fell into the water, and his foot slipped, and the dagger point pressed under his chin. Zeke smiled, as if pleasantly surprised that he had the weapon now, and rotated it, not enough to draw blood. Maybe if you run fast enough, he said tenderly, I'll be merciful. I'll toss your skinless body in the water, and I maybe won't start your heart to you to drown you again.

Loki ran.

His cloak lashed out behind him like wings, and Zeke grabbed a fistful of it and choked him, dragged him back. The coyote hybrid stumbled, but jerked free, even as the metal glinted by his ear, as claws scraped through his fur. The dog let him run even when they reached the Pictou, and Loki stumbled into the freezing water, crying at the surge of pain, while the predator chased. And he crawled muddy up the bank, slipping, and barreled past the scent markers with the man hot on his heels.

Whines left the coywolf with each breath; he wasn't made to run so long, but if he stopped, he was dead. Dripping water, cold, tangled in the wet cloak, he sprinted, and suddenly an expression of contorted terror turned into a grin.

Loki ran toward a copse of trees. One trunk, struck by lightning, was snapped like a twig—leaning against one of its brothers, as if weary. The tangle of undergrowth glittered with frost under the starlight.

Loki prayed, and Zeke's hand wrapped around his tail, and Loki ran fast and his shoulder carefully bumped a twig, and the night crashed down.

The deadfall crushed the husky immediately, the groan and creak and break of the branches an eerie noise preceding the snap of his spine. Zeke died instantly, and Loki whirled around, panting, spittle glistening at the corners of his lips. His eyes flashed to his dagger, and he peeled the man's fingers from the hilt.

Loki stared at what was visible of the dead man beneath the tree, and then, in silence, stabbed his body over and over and over

With your feathers and thorns sticking to my hide
Salsola
DEAD
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Raze
Luperci raven & dove
trickster god
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POSTED: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:54 pm

Kynda did not, and likely never would, know the identity of her blood father.

She had been, largely due to her mother's wisdom, granted the extraordinary birthright of safety, in a place that would never cast her out or allow harm to come to her as long as certain laws were followed.

This was simple enough. Even though she was as tall as a tree and as lean as one, Kynda quivered like all who looked upon their fierce leaders. Siv might have been her mother (and her true mother at that) but she was a force of nature that made even mighty pines tremble. Isabella was so soft looking and so terrible all at once, like steel wrapped in silk, that Kynda had spent most of her time avoiding the dark glance she sometimes imagined she saw from the Ambassador.

Salvia was more awful than all of them. Kynda had seen her hunt, and she had seen her in the frenzied focus of the kill.

While the young woman loved the Boss for all that had been provided, she feared her too and was right to do so. Within the woman they called Tigress raged an eternal nuclear winter in which nothing lived, and Kynda feared that. Sometimes, in her dreams and in her visions, she turned back to a time where there was nothing but snow and ice, and where great massive shadows roamed in the night and roared deeper and lower than the voice of the wind.

Sometimes she spoke to her mother about them, but she began to worry about the way Siv's eyes had looked. Sometimes, silence was easier.

Her mother told her she was a witch-woman, and that she was meant to carry this tradition on. For all of her magic, and for all of the rituals they did, Kynda could not shake the deeper fear of unknown. There were too many things beyond her grasp.

She lacked a desire to break illusions—like that the coyote she called brother (True brother) was perhaps not kin, and that his absence was still strange and she thought it had been a mistake.

Too many things were changing.


In her dreams, she saw strange faces.

When she woke from the dream, she was miles from home.

It scared her, coming to like that. She was without a cloak or weapon, and her hair was wild from the wind. The skin of her face felt cold, and as she stood there, fearful and regaining her composure, flickering images came to her.

A great boar, tangled in wire, squealing before it's throat was opened by the snare.

An old bird, something too ugly for her to know by name (for she had never seen a vulture), ripped asunder by unseen hands.

And then...

A ghoul, she thought, and shuddered at the rotted face she saw in the dark.

She turned from it, bent her ears against the wind, and thought that maybe no one would notice her absence.

Until she smelt the blood.

Kynda crouched quickly, adapting to a hunter's stalk. She did not hunt often in her Optime form, but she made certain how to hide and how to move from a lifetime of play-practice. Some of Salsola were ghosts, but she was not—and her steps sounded loud to her ears.

By the time she came upon him, silence no longer mattered.

“Loki!” She cried, and her voice was shrill with fright.

Salsola
The Arbiter (NPC)
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Mel
Luperci Mate to Hugleikr

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:09 am

Black tears appeared in the canvas of white fur, like an inverted image of the sky. His movements were mechanical, repetitive, each jerk of his hand (it shook so bad, holes became sloppy curves and stripes) puncutated by the horrible sound of metal puncturing skin, driving into flesh. Dead things did not bleed, but the shine of the blade was hidden by black, turned to reddish splatters on the gold blush across the coyote's terribly still face.

And all of a sudden it stopped when his sister's shriek rent the air.

Loki uttered a strangled yelp like a frighened puppy, and the hilt of the dagger slipped and landed in the snow. His eyes widened to the size of twin moons, and he glanced over at the purple-eyed girl. He immediately turned, floundering, all tangled up in his cloak so he didn't rise as he wanted, but fell hands and knees on the earth and thrashed weakly to free himself from the clinging wet fabric. He gasped, shivered, and at last dragged himself from the body.

Kynda, he— the hybrid tried, and tucked his tail. He sank back, kneeling, shivered hard again.

He raped a girl, he wanted to cry. He was evil and now he's dead, I killed him.

But suddenly he felt terrible and his explanation turned into a whimper. He pinned his ears down and crouched, hunkering down in the snow, submissive and frightened and shivering from cold. I'm sorry, he yelped, because while this had been justice a moment ago, the earthchild was revolted. He gagged and bowed again, attempting to curl in on himself, suddenly terrified that his sister might be afraid of him.

Last edited by Loki Helsi on Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
With your feathers and thorns sticking to my hide
Salsola
DEAD
User avatar
Raze
Luperci raven & dove
trickster god
two-spirit

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:58 am

When she had begun learning leathercraft, Kynda had learned of many methods in which to work the finished material. Sometimes, when working on larger, heavier projects, she used a metal knife to work through the hide. It had taught her how to be precise when cutting, and made her very conscious as to the need for strikes to be purposeful and carry precision and thought behind them.

So to her eyes, the thing cloaked and stabbing the dead man, it looked wild.

For half a second, she thought of all those old stories—of the careful warnings disguised as fairy tales, so that they as children would know the law long before they began to really follow it.

She thought to call her mother, suddenly, because the fear that tumbled down with Loki's collapse was for him.

Something inside of her roared, and she moved quickly to grasp his arms. There was muscle there now where had once been lean bone, and there was something changed in him, she thought. It struck her, suddenly, that they were no longer the same people they had been as children.

They were bound to greater things, she thought, and her eyes burnt strange fires in the dark.

She would not allow this to happen to him.

“Get up,” she hissed. “Come on, get up. I don't care why,” she said, and the words surprised her. They didn't, all at the same time.

There were some oaths older and greater than blood or Law.

“We can't leave a body like this,” she said, for Kynda was Siv's daughter and had inherited, amongst other things, the same ruthless push of clarity in such situations. “Help me get it out, and I'll get rid of it,” Kynda promised, suddenly fearful that he might forget himself if she allowed him any further part of this conspiracy.

Salsola
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Mel
Luperci Mate to Hugleikr

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:40 am

Her hands clutched his arms, and Loki shuddered again. His own hands briefly sought her fur, hoping to cling to her, but before he could lean in she was snapping orders at him. In his weak state, he could only obey—as if her words were Siv's words, or Salvia's. The cloak was too long and it was twisted all around him, but he stumbled to his feet and shook again. He didn't know why he was shaking more, if it was the cold or what he'd done, what he'd done thrice over now, or how close he'd come to dying under the tree himself.

Loki glanced toward the once-snowy body with the intent to obey her, but his hands snapped back even before he'd reached out to it. No, he said, but it was a whimper rather than a hard statement. You shouldn't have to—I did it, I carried the other one out— Eyes widened, and he wrapped his arms tightly around himself, staring down at the dead man.

They were evil, Kynda, Loki said at last, his words almost childlike. They hurt a girl really bad and they deserved to die worse than this. He met her vibrant purple eyes then flattened his ears and crouched back toward the dog's body, grasping the hand that had held his dagger. He tugged, but the trunk pinned him tight to the ground. Realizing he couldn't do this on his own like he wanted, he whined.

With your feathers and thorns sticking to my hide
Salsola
DEAD
User avatar
Raze
Luperci raven & dove
trickster god
two-spirit

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:54 am

Kynda grasped at the things he had begun to fear; she could smell it in the air now, penetrating her senses as the blood faded into a constant thing. What had happened, she wondered. Something terrible. Even before he spoke, she knew—but the admission of they meant there had been others, and she thanked whatever god (trickster or not) that was watching over her stupid, lucky brother.

“Don't think about it now,” she urged him, and saw he would not be swayed. Perhaps he needed to see them, in the end. Perhaps he needed to know they were dead.

Silently, without prompting, Kynda crouched. She was larger than Loki, and stronger—with her help, they managed to get the body out from under the tree. It was crushed, and smelt horrible; blood and other things were coming out of—

A snowflake hit her nose, startling her. She blinked and looked up—when had it started to snow?

“Let's get it out of here while we can,” Kynda stared at her brother, hoping he would understand her urgency.

Fresh snowfall would slow them, but it would also help hide the scent...at least for a little while. By morning, his body would be buried or dragged off by scavengers. They needed it away from Salsola, though, because while it did not really matter that he had killed an Outsider, the danger it presented was obvious.

Too close, she thought.

Salsola
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Mel
Luperci Mate to Hugleikr

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:05 am

Kynda crouched beside him, and with tugs of the dead man's arms and shoves against the tree trunk, the corpse was free. It was bloody where it had been pinned beneath the trunk, organs crushed along with bone, and there was a flexibility of the back when it moved that made bile scorch the back of Loki's throat again. He'd always been squeamish; perhaps something else had possessed him when he'd planted those traps, watched the bodies hang and dance? But no—he'd done it all on his own, been himself. China's son was horrified, now that the blood-rush of the past weeks died down and his heartbeat became a timid flutter.

Purple eyes captured his, and Loki grimaced before nodding. He knew the snow would help, but it would hinder, too; if they didn't race against it, the trail would be that much clearer, marked with rust-red and whatever else that the body spurted out.

Briefly, he fought with his cloak again, but did not think to remove it even as it froze in the cold air. He heaved the dead thing, which had been slim in life but so limp and heavy now, and struggled to pick a direction—the northern border, or the river. For Zeke to wash into the ocean was right, somehow, but the waves could bring him back, and any body full of holes in the sea would draw suspicion. He licked his lips nervously and pulled north, instead—a longer trip, but he didn't want to have to cross the water again.

You don't ha-have to, Loki pressed again through chattering teeth. I can alone, I—I did th-this. He didn't want his sister to have a hand in this thing.

With your feathers and thorns sticking to my hide
Salsola
DEAD
User avatar
Raze
Luperci raven & dove
trickster god
two-spirit

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:21 am

She watched his fingers fumble, rough with cold or fright, and frowned. Without asking permission, she stopped him and began to take the thing off. It was stiff with frost, and her fingers ached touching it. They needed to get rid of it, she thought—even if the smell of death could be taken from it, Loki might never look at it the same again.

“I know,” she said quietly, and laid the cloak out as best she could. Snapping the ice from the frosty thing when it did not bend soon had her fingers numb. This needed to be done. If they didn't have to look at the body, it would be easier. They could drag him, even, she thought.

She took the dagger back, and handed it out to her brother.

“Clean it,” Kynda told him, and went back to work.

She was a handy girl, and soon enough rigged the cloak to function as a sack. It was crude and did not fit the man completely, but it would keep his filth wrapped in and hide his face. Then, twisting her hands around the neck of her makeshift bag, Kynda began to haul the corpse in the direction they had begun.

Kynda didn't talk, but her breath came in bursts with each yank and each moment that passed. The Helsi woman didn't think about where they were going, but something in her knew—for while she hauled her direction swayed west, to where the trees began to part and the wind's voice was echoed by the ever constant song of the sea. It might have taken hours, she thought; her fur and body heat kept her warm even though her toes felt numb.

Her mind felt a little numb too, but that was okay.

Salsola
The Arbiter (NPC)
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Mel
Luperci Mate to Hugleikr

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:37 am

Kynda stripped him of the wet cloak. It was frozen to itself and to his fur, and Loki winced though he did not protest. He tried to reach back and grab it again, to at least take it with them—maybe they could wrap the body in it—but when he saw the tremor start to go through his hand, he withdrew it again.

However, it seemed that the girl had a similar idea. She worked to flatten the thing, handing him his blade—the blood was frozen there, too, but he wiped it first in the snow then struggled to pick the bits of blood off with his claws. There was no other cloth to wipe it, but he did what he could, and with a few tries slipped it back in its sheath, the only thing he wore that day. By the time he was finished with that, Kynda had wrapped the body so it was easier to look at, and was twisting the end to pull it. Rapidly, Loki reached the makeshift bag and helped with nudges to guide it over the uneven ground.

Loki staggered after his sister until the roar of the ocean reached his ears, and he might have cried then. When the water came into sight, he lurched for the neck of the bag, tugging it with almost panicked motions, attempting to take it from Kynda to the water. With or without her help, he stumbled toward the waves, which rushed up around his feet with a hiss, and he pulled so that the man would be gone. His shallow breaths sent puffs of white in the air.

But he fumbled, and ended up staggering calf-deep into the ocean without the body, confused. Loki flattened his ears and attempted to gesture when he realized he couldn't do it, but his hand and arm shook so badly, a listless motion accentuated by the tremors that wracked him.

With your feathers and thorns sticking to my hide
Salsola
DEAD
User avatar
Raze
Luperci raven & dove
trickster god
two-spirit

POSTED: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:47 am

Something possessed him, when they came to the shore. Kynda was so startled that she let go, and she watched, wide-eyed, as he staggered forward. Only when she saw he could not go on alone did she approach, and with great shoves and the water's own pull, soon enough the sack and the corpse inside of it pulled out. For a while, it floated; just long enough for the salt-water to penetrate the frosty cloak and, in so weighing it down, took the entire mass beneath the black surface.

Loki was not simply shaking, but shivering now. Using her hands, she guided him back to the shore.

“It's okay,” she reassured him. “It's gone.”

She pressed close to him, rubbing her hands along his arms. He was frigid. Her ears turned back a little, and the forelock of grayish-silver hair half-obscured one eye. Why was he so cold? A low, worried noise escaped her chest.

He shouldn't be so cold, Kynda thought, and her face turned into a scowl.

They needed shelter, she thought. At least until the storm passed, they needed to rest. He needed to rest.

Salsola
The Arbiter (NPC)
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Mel
Luperci Mate to Hugleikr

Canon