Never Stop Running

[p] - Gypsy - St Croix Highlands

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:13 pm

Pale grey eyes flicked open, muscles tensing as he sat up and drew the knife in a tight arc to stop pointing ahead of him. His slow gaze sought a threat as the echoes from familiar nightmares faded slowly in his ears. The lands were still though, stirring slowly to life with the first glimpses of the early morning sun. Still he sat there, steel blade held perfectly still, reflecting the light in the blue ripples of its folds. Slowly his heart returned to is normal rhythm, and he let his eyes travel to the still slumbering form of his friend and only family. Gypsy’s form was obscured by the heavy horse blanket, faded and frayed, but warm. It didn’t matter though, he’d known her for so long he could have described each line of her in the minutest of detail.

Finally he let the knife fall, keeping a relaxed but firm grip on the familiar hilt. Silently he moved to the edge of the overhang and stood, looking out over this alien place. The birds sounded different, the smells were different and the damn cold was all consuming. Without realising it he found himself looking south, in the direction of their…their what? Home? Roman’s short mane blew in a cold breeze and he wondered what they were doing. Could they ever flee far enough? He knew, knew in his bones and in his soul that if not for Gypsy he would have stayed, stayed and fought, stayed and died. To lose a lover in a night would be enough for anyone, but to lose one’s children and family? If there were gods then they must be having a horribly cruel joke on his behalf. With that thought came the memory of the mangled body, huddled around those oh so small bodies, and he realised the hills they were in had begun to blur. Snorting at himself, he knuckled away the wetness and woke the slumbering flames, coaxing them into driving away a little chill from this cold place.

He heard her stir then and looked over. Gypsy would wake soon and he couldn’t help wondering whether today would be a good or a bad day. He did not complain though, she was the last vestige of a happy life, the final connection to a world that had been wrenched away from him. Their flight had been urgent, and Gypsy’s wounds had been grievous. Perhaps if they’d been able to stay with the old healer she may have recovered, another decision he would have to live with. To stay might have meant recovery, or it might have meant discovery. He was no healer, he could keep a warrior fighting, but Gypsy had been injured beyond all his expertise. Perhaps there was someone here that could help? But who to trust?

Roman realised his fists were clenched, the hand holding the knife white knuckled and stinging with pain. It was not meant to be like this. None of this should have happened. As he moved, alert and waiting, he felt the tightness in his limbs, his own wounds still healing, scars, further reminders of that fateful night, cross-crossed his body. In a sense Roman had died that night, or at least the coyote he’d been had died. What was left was hollow. A creature that ran, that fought and that cared for the last thing that was precious in this world. Sometimes he wished he’d not survived though, wished he didn’t have to remember. Gypsy stirred once more, and Roman stood, waiting, watching and always, protecting.

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Draiko
Luperci

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:07 pm

OOC -

The warm air served as a balm in her nares, each breath filling her soul with the heady pine scent of Yosemite National Park. She greedily sucked it in, letting the sun bleached essence of it fill every limb as her molten eyes closed shut and the sounds of home teased and caressed her overly large ears. Hot breath that was sweet and familiar brushed over her shoulder and she turned opened faced and smiling to look up at her dear friend and mate, Roman. He brushed back a swathe of her unruly hair, and bent down to place a tender kiss on her cheek before letting out an excited yip and transforming before her eyes into the massive dark furred creature he was. He darted off into the shadow play of the woods and laughed back at her to join him. A hunting they would go!

The coy princess chattered back and made to shift, but then remembered this was all a dream...a figment of her past, when the hurt returned and she felt as if her head was tearing apart. The sun dappled scene morphed and shimmered before her eyes, the woods darkening and becoming a threat as screams of terror and anguish filled the very air before her. Her Las Setas clansmen and Icarus coywolves thrust together, their fangs flashing, blood splattering, and the crunching of bone. All of it a terrible crescendo in her ears, making the pain unbearable, until the tinnitus blocked every sound out, and the only thing that existed was Jal, her father painted in red light, with Zefyr’s axe poised behind his neck.

FATHER! She screamed, thrashing against the ground and throwing back the blanket that was covering her. Wild eyed and frantic she stared into the early morning darkness with clouded eyes, her mind not yet awake from the dream, but she was so close...so close to saving him as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

desert rose

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:04 pm

It was so wrong, seeing Gypsy’s limp form, motionless and spattered with dirt and blood, her glorious mane turned dark with blood, and her startling eyes closed. How could he lose two of the females he cared for in one night? He could still remember the tingle of her breath on his fur as he realised she was still alive, and like a child he carried her. Tired, bereft and injured, he cradled her and fled the his happy home.

”Don’t die.” he whispered to her with every heavy step, willing his body to move faster towards an uncertain ally. His eyes streamed with tears, making pink rivulets on his muzzle. Snot crusted his muzzle and dirt clung to him, it was not dignified grief like in the tales, but it was the kind that burned happiness. Step after step after step, hearing the cries of pain and calls for help. Oh how he ached to stand by them. A thousand times he thought that he could leave Gypsy just for a while, that he’d be back and then he’d help her find the healer she needed, but his feet never stopped, and after the thousandth time he thought it, the fires of a camp had come into view. He remembered laying Gypsy gently on the ground, looking up and asking for help, and then his body had betrayed him.

Roman closed his eyes, his reveries broken at the sound of Gypsy’s call. He knew what her last sight was before waking, and it was always the same word she woke with. He didn’t hesitate, his movements were fluid, confident and practise. He sat beside her, smoothed an unruly strand of mane from her face and held her, talking softly in the language from home.

”It’s over dearest one. I am here with you.”

Gently he placed a kiss upon her cheek while he stroked her back, holding her close.

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Draiko
Luperci

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:24 pm

OOC -

His touch and soothing words cut through her misery, the wild thrashing of a lost child slowly coming to a standstill as she laid limp and panting in his arms. Her dark lids closed and opened in rapid succession until bright eyes of the stolen sun focused on the face poised above her. Roman?! She breathed a sigh of relief, startling again and bolting to sit upright. My father! Our family, our friends--home--where--where are they?! It usually came out like this, a torrent of fragmented thoughts, anxiety and fear plain in her voice as she searched his face for answers while her eyes slowly came to identify the healing scars that littered his body. You’re---you’re hurt...dios mio, mi carino… “My heart,” she’d reach out then, wanting to touch the wounds that looked to be weeks old by this point, but still her tone held such heavy concern.

Roman...where are we? Her breathing was shallow and frightened, while some mornings she wouldn’t even be able to talk, too petrified and removed from reality to question what was really happening. This wasn’t one of those mornings, this was a waking day from the massacre, a step back into time, a place, and a memory Roman was unfortunately forced to relive each time she asked. He could always lie to her, make something up if the truth was too hard, but Gypsy had a way of reading him, a mental connection that hadn’t suffered the blow to the back of her head. Somehow she always got to the bottom of it, learning of the the past days, weeks, and months that had transpired since Icarus’s attack.

My--my head! She sucked in a breath, fingers probing through her hair until they reached the bandanna wrapped around her head. They stilled there, her eyes becoming pools of questions, imploring for answers she was almost too frightened to hear when the bottom of a crude stitch pricked the pad of her digit.

desert rose

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:53 pm

Roman took her hand in his before she could touch his scars, each one a reminder of what he’d failed to do for their family. He’d heard every question a hundred times before, but he never had an answer ready, and he was never prepared to watch face absorb it. Every the process of disbelief, denial and acceptance. Every day he was forced to hurt her, and every day it was a little harder.

”Gypsy.” he whispered ”Zefyr won.” he gently rubbed her arms, as if he could massage the memory back to her. ”They hit you on the head.” He never explained their journeys, never told her his part, just what had happened. He did not do what he did for gratitude or praise. He did them because out all the blood and the wasted life, she still managed to sparkle.

”The healer said they hurt your mind, that maybe it will heal and perhaps it won’t. We had to leave the mountains and travel north. My Gypsy, we are the only ones left.”

Those words still made his chest constrict. He didn’t allow himself to weep in front of Gypsy, he was strong for her. Roman knew he should have fought harder, he should not have run off that night. Perhaps if he’d had a just a little more strength, been a little faster…but the past stared at him in Gypsy’s eyes, and he couldn’t change it just like he couldn’t help her remember. Perhaps his punishment was to see the expression in her eyes every morning.

”I’m so sorry Gypsy.” he apologised yet again. His tone was still soft, still calm and even, but he knew it’d never be enough. The cold of this damned land seemed to get worse with every passing moment. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, the should be the dream. He should wake up, sob with the joy of ending such a terrible nightmare, and find the arms of family and friends again.

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Draiko
Luperci

POSTED: Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:55 am

OOC -

No, no, no, this couldn’t be right! His words cut to the quick and her head was shaking to and fro. She didn’t want to hear it, couldn’t bare to accept this. No...no Roman...por favor...no, she begged in a soft and strangled voice, her firelight eyes swimming with unshed tears as familiar hands reached out and began to rub life back into her arms. His contact was enough to calm her racing heart, but the burden of his truth left her breathless in absolute anguish. Her family, her friends, everyone...lost. Zefyr won. Zefyr won. Zefyr won. It repeated over and over in her head until the first tear fell and she gasped in a broken sob, a part of her mind trying in vain to listen to his words and the explanation of her wrapped head, as her eyes closed shut to stave off the inevitable breakdown.

The only ones? She whispered once it was safe to talk, her wet eyes reopening to look at her friend, he was the last of everything and her heart constricted once more with the thought. This was too much to process and take in, but she could hear the subtle hint in his voice, Roman had told her these things time and again. My...my mind is broken? Gingerly those fingers floated upward again, finding the thick knot at the back of the bandanna and undoing the ties until the shabby cloth fell away. A chilling bite of fire and ice ran vertically from her crown to the axis of her skull. Gypsy slowly probed through her waves of hair until her fingers reached the thick strings of sinew that had been sewed into her head.

Dios… her eyes became fearful again and her hands quickly jolted away, reaching for Roman and the comfort of his arms. How long Roman? How far have we come? Suddenly she was the one feeling sorry, her firefly gaze moving to his healing wounds once more. They looked days, maybe weeks old. How long had been caring for her like this?

desert rose

POSTED: Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:41 pm

His heart twisted as he saw her expression, watched her struggle not to shed the tears which made her eyes sparkle. He took her hands in his, his touch gentle but firm, his thumbs rubbing slowly over the backs of tawny fur. How long had they been travelling? That was another one.

”Just over three moons.” he continued in his soft tone. With the answer came all the memories of the caravans, the kind words they’d heaped upon the dainty girl, and the nervous looked directed to her dour companion. Should he tell her of the miles he’d walked with her cradled in his arms? Or when he’d been imprisoned for teaching some disgusting wolves a lesson. How he’d railed like some wild animal at being caged, his rage so white hot he had been surprised the bars had not melted. Of the next morning when, finally spent he’d awoken to hear her scream out for her father and had been unable to comfort her and hold her. That had been one of the worst days.

”I am here Gypsy and you are safe. I’ve brought you north. Here you can rest and heal. I won’t leave your side.”

He let go of one of her hands and, leaning over, he took a water-skin and held it out to her.

”Drink and eat. We’ve a bit of travelling left to do.” In truth he had no idea where they’d go, but he was determined to find a healer. It was important for her to drink and eat though, but the act was also a selfish one, before the memory of his lover and children struck her and he saw the pity in her eyes. His injuries might have scarred, but some wounds did not heal, or at least, remained tender long after the gash had been opened.

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Draiko
Luperci

POSTED: Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:25 pm

OOC -

Three moons! Her eyes widened while the reality continued to settle in, but she tried to focus on the soothing rhythm his thumb pads traced across the backs of her hands. He’d always been able to calm her like this, far before she could even remember. Gypsy swallowed the unwelcome lump forming in her throat. It’d been months since the massacre, since his lover’s death, and from watching her father cut down in front of her before the lights...her world, went dark. Oh Roman, she whispered in a miserable and cracking voice. This comprehension was all consuming and hard to handle, but she nodded her head, having a feeling he’d made this promise over and over again.

Shakily the coyote accepted the water skin, slaking a thirst she hadn’t realized had been there before wiping some of the moisture from her lips with the back of her hand. Her head was starting to hurt, either from the wound itself or from everything he had told her so far, but she kept it to herself, putting the lip of the skin to her mouth again and taking another healthy draught. There were so many questions on the tip of her tongue, but she hadn’t the heart to ask them, handing the bag back to him while her eyes adjusted to the fire’s light and she slowly began to get a sense of their surroundings.

It was cold here she realized with a slight shiver, pulling the blanket she’d so haphazardly tossed off, up and around her shoulders. So..where are we? This seemed to be a safe query, she couldn’t remember ever feeling so chilled except for when she’d visited the coast. Her eyes moved away from him and rested on the patchwork cloth bag next to the fur she’d obviously been sleeping on. This is...mine? There was a strange tone of detached amazement in that question more statement as she slowly reached for the thing and took a few of the contents out. They were all intrinsically her, but how?

desert rose

POSTED: Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:55 pm

He didn’t know what else to say to comfort her, so he kissed her gently before looking out, passed the fire and across the alien land that disappeared from view. Her question brought him back.

”Yes. You have a way with people, they’ve given you things. That, and all the stuff you constantly pick up. I think you’ll need a bigger bag soon. I know the-“ he broke off before he said the clan. ”I think that there is a place of trade not too long a travel from where we are.”

Like a father with a child, he took hold of her bag, adjusted the blanket it so it was wrapped tightly about, but leaving her hands free, and placed the bag before her once again. This done he squatted before her again.

”I need to treat your wound. There may be a little pain, but it must be done. The healer made me swear to use it. I will be gentle.”

Since the bandanna was already off, he shoved his fingers into a waterskin and drew out a rag. It had been boiled over the fire and the water left to cool at night, it was still tepid. With the voice of the healer in his mind, he dabbed and wiped until the cloth was grimy, and the wound was clean. Each day it had healed a little more, it took a little longer to grime the rag. Snaking an arm around her he dipped a hand into her bag and withdrew a jar. The paste did not smell unpleasant, but there was a sharpness to it that hung in the muzzle. With those dexterous fingers he spread and daubed. Finally he took one of her oversized ears and tugged it gently.

”It is done, and you are beautiful again.”

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Draiko
Luperci

POSTED: Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:22 pm

OOC -

Gypsy paused her rummaging when she withdrew the cracked mirror and glimpsed her rather haggard looking and tear strewn face. She softly sucked in another breath, allowing Roman to draw the blanket tighter around her as she stared at her twin fragmented into jagged little shapes. Her mother had one of these...used to. She closed her eyes and tucked it back away, not wanting to dwell on the past or fully accept that they were gone just yet. A reluctant and very small smile made it’s way to her lips when she glanced back at Roman and listened to his explanation for the bag of goods; random items and scraps of clothing that smelled like her. She caught his slight hesitation and frowned, but the Cremini male continued on.

It’s good to hear we...we had help, she said after a moment, feeling slightly guilty but glad she wasn’t alone here, and had Roman after everything that had happened. If he wanted to find this trading town or village, she’d go with him, always having trusted his decisions. When he spoke of the wound she anxiously searched his face, seeing only honesty there and after the slightest hesitation, she slowly nodded her head. Okay..

She was fearful, feeling as jagged and broken as the mirror she’d put away, but Gypsy watched in silence as he soaked a cloth, mentally preparing herself for the pain he’d spoken of. It wasn’t as bad as her wild imagination had led her to believe, but she closed her eyes and thought of happier times until the cleaning was done and the sharp scent of the salve filled her snout. The pools of sunlight reopened when he tugged on her ear, and she rewarded him with a genuine look of gratitude and warmth. She wrinkled her nose at his comment, fingers fiddling with the bandana before she held it out to him as an offering.

Will you cover it up? She asked him as she had many times before, her brain repeating this terrible scenario of self consciousness every time she rediscovered the gash.

desert rose

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