the snake which cannot cast its skin has to die

POSTED: Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:46 pm

The breath of winter was close, Lotan thought, but he did not find the weather yet disagreeable. For what comforts the ship and the port-town could offer, the wolfdog was bred to endure the drop in temperature well enough. He slept when it was terribly cold and worked when the wind did not bite. Pazuzu did not like to travel very far, and Lotan did not mind the excuse to keep comfortable. Artoo was miserable, though he tolerated the cold better with the fashionable jacket someone had seen fit to provide him with. Respectful of their needs, Lotan never traveled far.

Besides, he could check in with the others then. They stayed together, more or less, but stagnation was wearing on them. Lotan sensed it brewing like a storm.

What he did not expect was the curious meeting that now found him stepping in between two bristling men.

It was not the first time Lotan had seen Pazuzu behave like this. When they had met his father it had been much the same. When they had first come back, there had been moments like this in certain areas – odd little rises in hostility that appeared without warning and without cause Lotan was privy to know.

This time he had seen Pazuzu's posture change beneath his cloak, seen the way his steps became fast and deliberate, but when Lotan finally spotted the figure his mentor was approaching he was already too late to stop what was unfolding between them.

Where have you been? Pazuzu was demanding, his voice high and sharp.

The dark-haired man's yellow eyes were wide beneath his graying hair.

Where have I been? He snarled. You have some fucking nerve Pazuzu, you little—, he spat out a gaggle of slurs in tongues both familiar and strange, like his accent.

Pazuzu slapped him hard enough that the stranger's head whipped up with the motion. Lotan started running when he saw another tall blonde coyote with a scowl on his face making his way towards the pair.

The coyote – the man with the scarred face was dark for a coyote, but sharp like one – bristled even at Lotan's sizeable presence. His companion's arrival seemed to embolden him. They were mean looking things, Lotan thought, but Pazuzu's behavior suggested familiarity. Even Lotan noticed the like colored stripe on all their faces.

Don't you ever speak to me like that, Pazuzu hissed, and added a low curse that curled Lotan's whiskers. He was still unused to hearing the older man speak so crudely. You left me, or did you forget that, Marlowe?

The coyote didn't say anything at first. He looked between Pazuzu and Lotan, pretended he had not noticed the tall figure behind him, and rubbed at his jaw.

Inferni's gone, he announced without preamble.

What? Pazuzu asked, but instead of answering, Marlowe looked at Lotan.

So is Krokar.


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Mel
Luperci

POSTED: Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:53 pm

Several times, he had thought about turning back.

Inferni had been all he had known for so long, but like his family what remained did not feel close enough to keep. He could not perform and function in disorder. Jethro had lost his way long before Inferni fell, though he could not pinpoint the time exactly. Once, when it had been very late, Marlowe had asked him about this – in the fleeting, subtle way that made it seem like he did not mean to pick at old wounds.

He still felt raw, especially at night when his thoughts were restless. It was hard not to feel guilty about abandoning places and people. His father had abandoned them though, through accident or design, and his most certain demise weighed on Jethro heavily. He mourned because it was proper, and because he was sad, but his father had been changing in those last weeks. In his own way, Jethro had known some end was coming.

For all his sharpness and all his quick-thinking, Jethro did not see what Marlowe was already doing to him.

In this new strange city he was utterly alone, bewildered and overwhelmed. Relying on Marlowe was easier. Trusting his suggestions and his guidance was easier. After so long trying to know what was right and failing, Jethro was glad to let someone else take the lead.

What he had failed to realize was Marlowe's long, curious life ran into others beyond the remains of Inferni, and more importantly that a great deal of these connections were blackened by his misdeeds. Marlowe's reputation suggested as much. That was part of what had driven Jethro to step in. No part of him wanted the older coyote to kill someone on their way through the sprawling city.

What did you say? The black wolfdog demanded. He was the biggest thing Jethro had ever seen. The bright eyes under his tousled snow-white hair didn't look stupid either. They were harder than the mellow voice coming from the big man.

From the way the gray jackal was now watching him, though, Jethro knew his feeling of unease was warranted.

It's true, Marlowe went on casually. We came from that way.

Reading the slowly rising fur along the dog's spine for what it was, Jethro took another step forward.

There really isn't anything left, he added. Something big happened. It looked like a fire.

He would know, Marlowe cut in. He was there when Inferni's Mansion was burnt down.

A flush of heat rose in Jethro's face. That was his secret to tell.

The jackal was looking at him now. The wolfdog was looking forward, but his focus was on some inward point the rest could not see. Still wary of his own heart, and warier still of what the presence of the strange men meant, Jethro offered very little.

Yeah, I was. I know what a fire looks like. This was a big one – something very terrible must have happened up there.

You didn't see anyone? The jackal asked.

No. He thought about the strange symbol they had found, but did not mention it. If there was a curse, he would not give it power by speaking such things aloud. There was a trail heading this way, so if anyone did survive they must have left.

I don't understand how something like that could happen, the dark wolfdog finally muttered.

Marlowe laughed. It was a harsh, mocking sound.

Ain't nowhere safe in the world.

I think we would know that, Pazuzu spat.

Belatedly, Jethro realized they had drawn others – two women whose approach he noticed only because of how similar their fixed eyes looked. He was not ignorant to how terribly different the pair seemed otherwise.

Noticing him staring, the wolfdog turned his head. They said something happened to Krokar, he announced.

Marlowe was watching them intently.

Without access to true chaos, we'll never have true peace.
Unless everything can get worse, it won't get any better.

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Mel
Luperci Chaos Star stray arrows
kismet
so it goes
lex talionis
pyrophoric

POSTED: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:57 am

They hadn't been doing much when they heard the commotion. Most days were like this now, where long stretches of time passed by way of small and tedious activities until inevitably something happened, and it was never a good something. Tiamat found she had more of a knack for intervening than she did selling wares, and so had begun to accompany Rahab on her forays into Trader's Alley, despite her own charmless presence.

She watched the crowd gather with a look of rote engagement until a familiar figure passed, hurrying to the heart of the conflict. Her ears jumped forward, and she exchanged a look with Ray.

A small group of spectators had formed around the coyote and the jackal, and they had already begun shuffling away with various degrees of disappointment and disinterest on their faces by the time Tiamat tried to make her way through. In the slow season, she was told, Portlanders would find entertainment in anything. Tiamat was inclined to believe that was the case for the rest of the year too.

She could tell they were only talking now, but as she strode ahead, she fixed her gaze on Lotan's expression. Something wasn't right.

It wasn't right at all.

"What do you mean?" She looked at Lotan until it was very clear that he had nothing else to offer, then her gaze shifted onto the rough looking men.

One of them had a strange look when he saw her, but she did not think to dwell on it.

They told her what they'd told Lotan, which wasn't much compared to the gravity of its meaning. Her eyes took on a static gleam, like light spearing through the surface of the ocean.

She reached for her brother's arm. "Lotan, we need to go back." She said, "This shouldn't have happened. We need to fix this."

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San
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