My thoughts are grown uneager and depressed

POSTED: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:07 pm

Snowflakes melted on the leather of her nose, little pinpricks of cold that kept Vesper awake even as she wished to melt into the flames beside her. She twitched ears assaulted by the snow and buried her nose stubbornly in the brush of her tail when it did not wish to let up, inching a little closer to the firepit in the center of the garden.

“Reckon you’re done gonna burn yourself, Aquila,” chastised Laurel even as he tossed another stick into the flames. Dead but wet, it hissed and lit slowly, and the paunchy trader muttered about his ill luck in finding wood since Diego had neglected to bring in his recent acquisition of logs. Much of this low cursing was in Spanish, but there was enough for Ves to understand, and she smiled as she scooted a little more into the glow.

“It’s been cold lately. I can’t get close enough.”

The brown hybrid chuckled and tugged at the bone plug in his ear. “Ain’t been burnt before, have you, señora?” He prodded the wood, and one piece of char collapsed with a shower of sparks that made Vesper flinch back. She stared at Laurel in disbelief, and a slow grin rolled over his sooty face.

“I’ll push you into the fire if you try that again,” Vesper threatened.

“To die by fire, seria un honor, the del Bosque replied, winking, and she called him a liar and they argued over his fake devoutness before the old trader shut his mouth and peered past her toward the back gate. He raised his brows, and Vesper followed his gaze.

“Poor niña,” Laurel muttered. “She oughta should eat somethin’. Been wastin’ away.” Vesper frowned in agreement, rising to her paws and blinking snowflakes off her lashes, before Laurel cupped his muzzle and shouted. “Hey, Flaca, come over here! Aquila’s orders!”

Vesper glared at him.



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Raze
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POSTED: Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:31 pm

Perhaps the saddest consequence of River Lark's disappearance was that Dove could no longer sleep in the dugout they'd carved together near the lake and the ravens' perch. Without her brother beside her it was much too cold and wet for the skinny, small Dove likely until well into spring, and so she acted against her nature and took subtly for the central mansion at night. She used a spare bedroom where she stored her few belongings and drew no attention to herself, coming and going only in the earliest and latest hours (that is to say, never with the sun) when her search for River Lark began and finished, respectively.

Silent like a ghost, Dove had walked ineffective through life in the weeks since the war ended with January. She talked little, slept little, ate little. It was not a fierce determination that possessed her but an unfeeling desperation—always simmering and never boiling over—and self-demeaning episodes forced their way through whenever her slipping consciousness provided a rare opportunity to think straight. Dove knew things were bad, but progress always halted where self-doubt began.

By avoiding clanmates and keeping her panic civilized, Dove believed she could maintain the masquerade indefinitely, or at least for as long as it took to find River Lark. She thought she'd been moderately successful but self-consciousness erupted within when Laurel called out to her on Vesper's behalf. A collapse had driven her to the mansion earlier than in the night than she would have liked, and Dove fought every instinct to take off running. What did they want? Did they know something?

She walked to their fire with lidded eyes and a robotic gate, intending for an image of indifference. "Vesper, Laurel. Is there a problem?"

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POSTED: Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:31 am

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Like one already dead the girl marched toward them, and Vesper wasted no time in looking her over. She was incredibly thin, her face haggard with exhaustion and devoid of emotion -- something that Ves in all her years recognized well.

No problem, she said lowly. I just wanted to check in with you -- one of my jobs. She twitched a small smile then sat down so that this might seem like less of an interrogation, while Laurel watched with more open sympathy and kindness on his soot-marked features and remained silent. You've been staying at the mansion lately, right? How is it -- do you need more pelts to bed down on? Has Versace been feeding you? Or do you not have an appetite?




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POSTED: Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:49 pm

Though self-conscious, Dove did not fault the Aquila for inquiring.

But she did not ask about River Lark or events of the war. She inquired of mundane things with sincerity, and Dove was not sure how to respond. Of all the things Dove endured in her present everyday life, her housing situation—the D'Neville Mansion—was without a doubt near bottom of the list. And though she had been expecting it, Dove hadn't the clarity of mind to realize Vesper's subtle insight into the young woman's skinniness at the tail of her questioning.

"It's... fine," the Reverie replied, uncertain, as she repeated in her mind the list of questions her wearied mind had already let slip. "I moved in where I could see the stable, so it's kind of nice. There were furs left behind and I have most of Saffron's blanket."

She hesitated before finishing. "Harosheth's been feeding me." Not a complete fabrication, but enough to deter further questions on it, or so she hoped. Eager to deflect attention she continued, "How, uh, how about you?"

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POSTED: Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:25 am

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Vesper smiled and nodded smoothly in response, and Laurel chimed in with a jovial chuckle as he poked the fire. Fun watching them horses, ain't it? You met my Gorda yet? He flashed her one of his trademark slow smiles, his voice molasses. Good to have neighbors, vecina.

The Aquila knew relatively little of the mansion community (beyond second-hand gossip) and did not attempt to feign interest in it, instead watching the white coywolf through her small hesitations. She did not probe, but only smiled and licked her chops. You should have Versace cook for you, too. I'll ask her.

She was glad, at least, that the medic had showed some interest in Dove; she'd know what the girl was going through, having made the diagnosis many times before. And it was easy enough to transition to that topic.

Oh, I'm okay, the old coywolf said, flicking her ear. Still in recovery. Harosheth won't leave me alone. Her smile was thin; this was truth, and something shared with others. Between her children and grandchildren, and others -- even Laurel looking innocent beside her -- many of the clan kept a wary eye on the Aquila who'd vanished from them. She's got this tea that's been nice for me though, since I've been feeling a bit off. Numb, you know? But she calls it corazoncillo and it's been nice for me. Helps me eat and sleep better, feel better.




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POSTED: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:07 pm

A thousand miles away, Dove imagined her mother tending to the herd of five or six that traveled with the Junipers: brushing their coats, combing their manes, cleaning their hooves, and all the while humming and stepping light and rhythmical on her toes. A wonder she was, Orchid Reverie, minding horses one moment and striking fleeing hares bullseye the next. Scouting, hunting, trading—if it could be done on horseback, Orchid Reverie was the local master.

Of course, Dove wasn’t about to share sentimentalities, even if her eyes had turned distant and betrayed her. “The corner room means I don’t have to walk as far to take care of them in the stables. Which one is Gorda?”

She knew of Versace. It was hard not to, for they passed one another often enough in the first floor mansion halls. Never had Dove made conversation, as was the norm; she found the Inferni exuded an intimidating air, if only because Dove did not wish to be reminded of her own mother, far away.

With some reluctance Dove drew closer to their fire, crouched and warmed her hands while Vesper went on. Why was she making smalltalk? Because it was her responsibility as Aquila, she supposed. Weed out the clan weak points. Weak points made for kidnappings. War. Dove wasn’t weak. As far as the outside world was concerned, she could stand as strong a pillar among them.

“That’s cool. Or you could just try some pot. I ran out, or I’d offer you some.” She tucked her fingers under her arms to warm up. “I know some stretches and stuff if your body’s sore. Although... not for four legs.”

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POSTED: Thu May 04, 2017 10:14 am

(--) Short and late. ;_;

Eh, well, gorda means fat, can't miss her, said Laurel, and winked at her. Prettiest yegua in the stables, like her rider, he added, patting his paunchy belly with the sort of playful self-deprecation that made Vesper smile.

Her smile faded somewhat as she watched Dove, knowing that it would look false lingering on her narrow, scarred features for too long. She swept her bushy tail closer to her patchy-furred body and rolled shoulders in the warmth of the flame as Dove stepped closer, then blinked at her remark.

Ah, well, pot works when I'm anxious but mostly it just makes me hungry, she replied. It's more of a... not a physical feeling. I guess some of it's physical. Feeling tired all the time, you know, not wanting to leave my den even though I can't get a wink of real sleep. She shifted her paws awkwardly and looked into the fire, wondering how the Cenizans were able to divine anything out of that light and smoke. If she could study it, maybe it would tell her how to best approach this with Dove. I went through a bad experience, and the corazoncillo helps, that's all I know. It helped me last time I lost a family member.

Laurel glanced the Aquila's way, perhaps thinking her too obvious, but Vesper's face was too dark and contemplative for her remark to be a lie.




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POSTED: Tue May 23, 2017 10:00 pm

What Vesper described Dove knew all too well, and it showed stark on the Reverie’s face while her elder went on. Sleep never came, yet neither could she motivate herself to leave her bed. The hunger never stopped, yet never did she feel like eating. These were sensations so challenging to describe Dove had thought herself going mad from the insomnia, but it seemed that were not so.

Dove thought to ask whom Vesper had lost, but she remained quiet. The Aquila was an older woman, with children and grandchildren and countless experiences the young Reverie preferred not to know about. Instead, the sympathy was read in her golden eyes, turned to the Aquila briefly with pinched brows before returning to the fire. Solidarity, they had read. How unsettling it was to see correlations drawn between she, so young and Vesper, so seasoned.

“I’ll look into it.” A noncommittal answer to at least put the leader’s mind at ease. It was better spent on needier projects: Inferni’s well-being, its recovery post-war, its dozens of young faces dangerously eager to make something of themselves. Sufficiently warmed by the flames, Dove rose to her feet. “Until then, I have to at least try to sleep. I’m gonna go.”

There was a pause after she turned. “If you see Harosheth... would you ask her to save me some of that stuff?”

Without awaiting an answer, Dove politely excused herself from her Aquila’s company and into the mansion to wait out another sleepless night.

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