Homestead

POSTED: Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:14 pm

OOC: Backdated to the beginning of June 2019, and set around the coast of Timber Cove.

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The forest's edge by the sea was no place for camp. Shale hadn't planned on making a home of her earthen den, and a raging summer storm only added to that notion. The dark wolf awoke to a clap of thunder and a burst of light; wood and sap flew everywhere as a nearby tree exploded. It cracked and crunched in the lashing winds, teetering over the edge of the cliff as its eroded roots gave way. The sound was so violent that Shale tore from her den, teeth flashing to bite at the air. She tripped on a small log and rolled into mud and needles, a small foaming flood cresting over her shelter. Rain was pouring down from a gap in the canopy, woven branches breaking and letting the deluge in.

Cursing, Shale had gathered up and put on her coat, hiking through the wood and trying not to slip. Here the cove's cliffs dipped downhill, and the maze of rocky, tangled terrain had her check every step. The more she descended, the less the wind blew and the flatter the ground grew, though it was of little comfort to her. There was storm-water coursing down in paw-wide streams, the earth slicking as it did. Unless she found higher ground, her next resting spot would be more miserable than the last. She was half-tempted to head back when the sky cracked once more. White, jagged knives cut across the dark clouds in a row, and Shale flinched and shut her eyes. Chain lightning.

Heading to lower ground suddenly looked a great deal more appealing. With a growl, the black wolf grit her teeth and headed forward, stretching a leg over a half-rotten log. Somewhere in the bushes, a fox darted into cover as thunder rumbled and loomed.


- to be continued -
Last edited by Shale on Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:32 pm

A half-eroded landslide. Ancient signs of fire. A fallen tree that had snapped a roof in half. She would've tripped on a timber had lightning not flashed, illuminating the former homestead. It was hard to tell what had snuffed the little cabin's existence, but it made Shale stop all the same. Shale had frozen in her tracks at its site, lips curling back, nose sniffing; the place smelled of nothing.

Nothing but ash and pine.

Crouching into a near-sit, the wolf waited to see if something moved, wincing as thunder roared above. Slowly she stood a minute later, rain still sluicing down from gaps in the branches above. Her body became taut, the dark of her fur blending her in with the shadows as she made her way around the perimeter. A paw ready to grab her knife, she had to watch her footing, broken glass and rusted nails hidden on the forest floor. This place was no mere shanty, even though it only had one room.

There was a dark gap in a fallen wall big enough to squeeze inside. Sniffing again, Shale pushed herself through, ember-red eyes searching as best they could. Her ears turned and twitched, but the only sounds came from outside: rivulets in the dirt, rain against trees, thunder reverberating as chains of lightning cracked. A brief flash gave enough lightning for dirtied white to catch the wolf's eye.

It was a skull, half-crushed under a timber and cradled in an elongated paw. Shale could immediately tell it was some sort of canine in Optime - no beast she knew had toes that long. Frowning, the dark wolf gently pushed a pile of glass out of the way with her foot, kneeling down to get a better look. The bones were old and musty, and she couldn't tell if it was leaf litter or an old blanket around the bones. Time and weather had made all other scents fade.

"Whoever you were," Shale whispered, voice solemn, "I hope you didn't feel it when it came down."

- to be continued -
Last edited by Shale on Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:36 pm

The ocean sent clouds heavy with fat droplets. Electricity sliced and whip-snapping at the sky. Roots groaned and hillsides slid; Shale took a few steps before becoming ankle-deep in mud. The cabin behind sat on a raised mound - the rainfall streaking downhill curved around its base. Shale didn't like the idea of sharing a den with a skeleton, but she wasn't traveling in such messy conditions. There was too much risk of slipping and damaging an ankle.

After checking around outside of the cramped ruins once more, she dug a small hole into the house's earthen floor. Curling up fiddlehead-tight, she slept restlessly, tossing and turning in the shallow burrow. Howls and shadows chased her in her dreams, led by a fleeting figure with a skull for its face. Every time Shale tried to glance at it, it turned to look at her even if she was behind it. Empty sockets and a frozen grin stared with hunger, malicious as the bare bone might allow it.

"Never forget," said its whispers all around her, "who you really are, Slave."

The morning was quick to wake her. The pallid summer light, once bright enough, startled her. Shale had to take a moment to realize she wasn't in a forest, and that the shadows of the room were those cast by trees. Her head turned to stare at the skull, and now she could see that mushrooms and a blanket wrapped around it. One had fed on the other, and on the little stalks of fungi, moths and insects had started to feed. They skittered and flapped as indistinct figures in the half-light, unheard even by wolf's ears.

Shale shook her head. The sooner she left this ruined place, the better. Standing and grunting, the tracker popped her back. Her lip curled and she winced as the sensation throbbed in her shoulder. Shale'd been ignoring he stump's aches for the most part, but sleeping wet, cold and rough had taken its toll. Shale couldn't help but glance back at the body, wondering what had possessed the Luperci to settle here.

Red eyes stared at the bones longer than they should have. Shale's usual frown softened, and the black bitch made a weary sound. She strode out of the cabin with careful, quiet paces, testing the muddy ground with her feet. It was soft and sticky, melting like fat in a lamp and collecting between fur and skin. She'd have to go around the next hill, she figured, not wanting to head upwards in such conditions.

But before she left, she had something to do - for luck, out of sympathy, or some other impulse she didn't understand.

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The stacked-stone cairn sat in front of the hole in the wall. It was small enough someone in Optime could step over it, or hop over it on all fours. Despite being a resting place, shelter was shelter - she couldn't blame others for trying to hide there. The wolf cleared her throat, rubbing at her limbless shoulder, trying to think of something to say. Gentle moments and kind gestures were still beyond her. She recalled how overwhelmed Krokar's warmth had made her feel.

Shale wet her lips. "If you were a good soul," began the wolf, "then you didn't deserve to die in a ruined house. You should've lived long and happy...unless you were old, in which case, I hope you didn't suffer as you went out. So...uh...don't haunt me. This is so you can rest in peace. Thank you for letting me stay here for the night."

High in the dripping trees, a bird sang. A squirrel as gray as snowy gravel ran along a branch. A brown moth flapped and landed on a tree trunk, climbing an inch before flitting away. Shale cleared her throat.

"Um...amen?"
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