in the heat of a sun that we can't even see

POSTED: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:49 am

Micah liked to keep to himself. To make a request on another, namely one so vastly more important and high-ranking and confident than he, well, involved a certain level of desperation commonly seen in the Sanitas but rarely acted upon.

But Vesper was a confidante of sorts, though the two were not especially close. It was by her good word that he had given Inferni a chance, and perhaps consequently that Inferni too had given him a chance, though whether he had proved himself well since mid-summer arrival was questionable. Micah was shy, introverted. He painted rocks and braided his horse's hair and admired the fire within the clan not for its ferocity and danger but for its color and light and warmth on his hands. He wasn't Infernian, not really. His bloodline determined it so. Those like Vesper were strangely unconcerned.

The request had been modest and littered with vocal stumblings: He wanted to see the mountains. For months the Lykoi was a shut-in, rarely if ever leaving Inferni borders, rarely straying even from the open-field Moors he called home and could see danger a mile away. Vesper did not understand the seemingly random request, but its mumbling clarification—that Micah did not know the former borderlines Ichika no Ho-en had once called their own—seemed to rouse her agreement. Micah wanted to see his father's former territory. He wanted to ensure, if only for the sake of Lily Storm and a half-dozen more names now known as nearby family to him, that Razekiel Lykoi was no longer about.

They traveled, the Centurion and the Sanitas, four-legged. They conversed, though quietly and sparsely. It did not seem an uncomfortable trip despite the repeated and repeated words of thanks Micah offered for her escort. And then, when anxiety appeared to silence Micah as former Ichikan territory drew near, the Lykoi brought up something else with eyes between his footpads.

"Vesper, how—if, if it's not overstepping anything to ask—how do you, um, what do you think of Messiah?"


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Lin
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POSTED: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:31 pm

It was a request she would have been heartless and lazy not to take. Vesper knew the lands surrounding Inferni almost as well as Inferni itself. She'd spent months traveling the woods and the foothills and the mountain trails when she was a loner, and she still sometimes wandered on restless paws to see the leaves turn and the sun set from someplace different. She had been an Infernian longer than she had not been, but some things didn't change.

Besides, she liked Micah and somewhat sympathized -- though not quite, because his curiosity was one of longing and need and she'd never had a father. She was just quietly fond of the timid artist and had been itching to travel a little, anyway.

Vesper trotted along an old hiking trail, its only markers some tree-swallowed signs and the odd cut of the earth, and recalled the first time she'd hunted goats on this slope. She had sparred with X'yrin somewhere near here, had carried a bleeding and half-conscious Kiara on her back after her attack, had paced near the borders and spoken with strangers whose names and faces and stories she'd forgotten long ago. She was quiet and absorbed in her own reminiscing, a guilty pleasure, and took a moment to realize that Micah was stammering out a question.

She stilled her tongue rather than tease him -- overstepping what, exactly? -- and flicked her ear in surprise at the question. She frowned, recalled the gangly and awkward little red coyote who'd turned hero-worshipping eyes on her scars. Odd kid, a kinda radical family, she said, but didn't say much else. She would mention the little rumors of troubles with wolves, but even her trusted members got into scraps; Wraith, for one, wasn't a saint.

She huffed softly, and fixed pale eyes on the granite-colored coyote. Why? she pressed, gently stern. What do I need to know about him?



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POSTED: Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:11 am

Her description was accurate; trying to absorb Messiah or any of his siblings had proved itself a rather impossible task for the delicate Micah, overwhelmed in their company in an instant and just as quick to escape from it. Strong personalities he had never quite meshed with, as evidenced with Esmeralda and Jace and Kali, but those with a semblance of restraint—like Vesper—were able to earn his respect.

Respect or not, however, Micah withered under the turn of her pale blue eyes, regretting at once for bringing up topic of conversation. A moment was spent reassuring himself and practicing lines in his head, but what spilled forth was nowhere near the well-spoken explanation he was capable of inside his own skull.

"He's—um," Micah started. Faltered. Looked at the ground. "It seems like— Well, Sparrow and I are friends, and— he's—"

The Lykoi inhaled sharp. Spit it out! "I've, I've got a bad feeling about him. He's, umm, I-I saw him hitting—um, someone," probably best not to mention the Centurion's sister just yet, "and I, I... For-forgive me, Vesper, but I, I just think he's dangerous. Even for Inferni, I mean."


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Lin
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POSTED: Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:45 pm


The speckled coyote stammered still, even after trying to compose himself. Vesper remained patient, glancing at the landscape around them to make sure they did not go off their course; she remembered that slope, knew that the woods shrouded an abbey, odd architecture she hadn't seen anywhere else within Nova Scotia. She watched for the signs as Micah stuttered, then abruptly twitched her mangled ear and glanced at him when he mentioned her sister's name.

Vagueness followed. He'd hit someone. Vesper's eyes rounded, and she halted abruptly, a sharp woof meant to pin him in place. "He hit Sparrow?" she demanded, peeling lips from yellowed fangs. Why hadn't she told her -- but Vesper knew how withdrawn she'd been, knew that she was no longer the girl's most precious confidant. "Has he attacked anyone else?" she pressed, forcing her hackles to lay flat. As if hurting her sister was not already a death sentence in the Centurion's mind -- but she didn't act merely for herself, she knew that. "What has he done?"



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POSTED: Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:47 am

He pinned, as she commanded, and like most anxious actions of his it was unconsciously overexaggerated. The Lykoi halted and ducked, belly to frozen ears, ears to skull. Regardless of good intentions, how Micah hated to disappoint her, to upset her. He looked up to her. Should he have said nothing? Was it none of his business? All pleas not to hate or exile him were stifled at the edge of tongue and teeth, desperate to leap forth but suppressed under the scrambling of a proper answer.

Odd though, he realized for but an instant, that his body still did not shake. "I, I, I saw, he was, he," said Micah, unshaking but stammering, whites at edge of his eyes. "I stopped him, I—sorry, I just—I mean, if there was someone else too, I don't— I wasn't there, I don't know—"

This was a terrible idea. A man of good conscience was Micah, yet the doubts of a neurotic plagued him just the same. Messiah's crimes were not his own; reporting them was considered part of his duty as an Infernian. And yet somehow in the Lykoi's convoluted mind his own murder by the hand of Vesper was perfectly justified, and how sad it would have been for a complete stranger to happen upon his mangled body out here in the open with none to attribute, and—

"Stop sniveling, you pile of waste," snapped a voice in his head. Storm Lily.

"I, I only saw him hit Sparrow," said Micah with more clarity. "I don't know about anyone else, just— I think he's been bothering her for a while, th-that's all."

Brown eyes sank to brown soil. "There's just, there's just something about him, ma'am."


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Lin
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POSTED: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:46 pm

Feel free to have them go ahead and stumble onto the territory and whatnot. :D

He shrank down, and she almost expected to see his belly. She almost wished for it, wished for something soft to tear into -- but while her fangs flashed, she kept them pointed now away from Micah. Her muzzle wrinkled into a scowl, but she didn't press him or snap at him again for his stammering, only listened, flexed her claws into earth and growled, and at his lame conclusion stared at him again. Her eyes were blue winter.

He'll pay for it, Vesper said. Within the grounds of a leader, she would hurt him. Within the grounds of a sister, she did not know what she would do. She'd failed again and again to protect Sparrow; she was only glad that she could confide in Micah. Did you stop him? she asked, and glanced him over with scarred brow lifted. Stopping a madman, as she was beginning to suspec Messiah was, was more than she expected from Micah's feeble bravery. His heart, though -- that didn't surprise her as much. She nearly smiled at him for a moment before shaking her bristling scruff and trotting onward, head low and predatory.

Let's go, the Centurion ordered. The sooner they reached Ichika no Hoen's grounds, the sooner she could return home to her sister. It's not far... in the forest, where it thickens, there's an abbey.



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POSTED: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:44 am

The fangs and talons appeared, each directed mindfully away from him to ensure the Lykoi knew it was not he that earned her rage and disappointment. To see Vesper boil so turned his stomach both with anger for Messiah and shame that it was a low-ranking man like himself to provide to her news of her sister's abuse and not Sparrow herself. Swallowing a fast-forming lump in his throat, Micah consciously forced himself from the ground with ears and tail still tucked.

Her promise to punish Messiah did not come across as a relief—it came across as a fear for change, in truth. He worried for Infernian standards, for secrets coming loose and members turning on one another. Vesper and Myrika could keep such behavior in line, right? Right?

Micah did not hear her question at first, not until he realized himself under her winter stare. "Yes," he burst. "Yes, of, of course, I stopped him. I, I just made him go away. Sparrow, she, she means a lot to me."

And then Vesper turned, and the obedient Micah followed quivering lengths behind. If they passed former Ichikan territory, he would not know; so long it had been since markings were laid, and so long it had been since he had but glimpsed Razekiel. Years, now. Not since near-infancy.

The forest thickened as predicted, and it was in this realization Micah stopped. "Is this it? This is where the old pack was?" Brown eyes, afraid, cast over their humble surroundings.


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Lin
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POSTED: Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:28 am

*rubs hands together excitedly*

She nearly paused at his insistence that his sister meant something to him -- but any curiosity was pushed aside. It wasn't important; she was just relieved that Sparrow had found a friend in the gentle artisan. She was equally glad that Micah cared about someone in Inferni, had something beyond blood and duty to anchor him here. He was a sweet man, she decided, and wondered about strange things before the woods swallowed them up and the stone steps leading to a great, weathered temple appeared before them.

Vesper's smile was small and distracted, but it appeared. Yes. She glanced over the frightened coyote and brushed her tail against his flank in a silent gesture of reassurance. It's always been quite beautiful. I almost... wish I knew it better. She'd come here a few times, though the memory that stood out was that of blood and worry; she remembered whispering with X'yrin about Kiara's fate, waiting, wondering if she would live and if she would live as she should. A sour taste like bile burned her tongue at the thought, and she snorted before venturing onward, walking the old and overgrown paths and drawing in the scents of the area curiously. It had been some years, and the smells had long ago faded into the same wilderness as the rest of the mountains.

But one scent jumped at her, fresh, canine, and Vesper bared her fangs as she halted, stepping in front of Micah to defend him from a shadow beyond.



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POSTED: Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:34 pm

Despite the reassuring brush of her tail Micah remained in careful place behind her footsteps, willingly allowing Vesper to lead to and through a place he himself had requested to venture. A pause befell his step, almond eyes absorbing full length of the spiritual architecture, the temple, the pond and plantlife surrounding he could only imagine flourishing without blanket of snow.

It was quiet. Not unsettling. Peaceful, perhaps for Vesper, for one who could not avoid the association of such a place with the man from his past. The Centurion continued walking; equal parts discouraged and mesmerized, Micah followed.

"It is beautiful," agreed the Lykoi, not without great delay. Thoughts possessed him, both seizing memories and quizzical, meandering possibilities, imagined visions of his father's reputed smile and reformation walking these very roads, smelling blossoms from those very bushes, breathing this very air and admiring these very sights. A lie, all of it. All that followed him, idiots.

The Centurion halted, bristling, with Micah short of colliding. From a curl in the path a stranger walked, two-legged and towering above them, and at sight of fellow visitors to unmarked lands the man stopped.

He stared. Then, with the blossoming of a smile like spring arrived in an instant, the smoking joint twirled unconsciously to the side of his mouth. "Woah, woah, woah, man, wow," laughed the fool, plucking joint to stare at it forwards and upside-down. "Gra-ha-hacious, maryjay, what did I put in you?"

The words slipped from Micah's lips unintended: "Oh, no." No less, it was too late.

It's him, whispered a voice in his head. Storm Lily?

"Micah! Shit, man, look at you!" his father exclaimed, arms thrown up in hazy enthusiasm. A few unthinking steps planted forward but made to hesitate with Vesper bristling between. "Peace, Lady Luck, peace, man. This old buzzard's cool, right? Cross my heart, Lady, promise."

Get him, the voice said.

"No," said Micah, tentative steps backward, panic rushing, paralyzing. "No, no, no, no—"

Get him! Get him, you useless piece of shit!

"No, no, no," he said, not knowing his tongue still flapped.


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Lin
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POSTED: Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:06 pm

159

A coyote walked round the bend of the trail, tall and dark and reeking of pot, and Vesper fluffed her tattered coat as the man paused, gawking first at them and then at the joint. She stared in disbelief for a moment, but soon thoughtfulness wrinkled her brow, and as the old loner laughed and exclaimed at them, she understood.

This was Razekiel Lykoi.

The progidal father made to approach but stopped at the flimsy barrier Vesper offered between the Optime and her friend. Her fur lay down, and lips covered yellowed teeth, but when he assured her he was "cool," she did not move. Beneath her cream and smoke coat her muscles remained tense, her posture tall for a small thing and still firmly positioned.

Behind her, Micah whimpered the same word, over and over, and she swung around toward him to bump her muzzle roughly against his. Micah, she prompted. What do you need me to do?



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