A fair trade.

Ezra

POSTED: Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:12 am

Word Count → 600+ :: Out of Character text

Although it was not the most strategic move for a new Apprentice of Salsola to be outside of the pack lands much, Maelyx had stepped outside of the pack borders on a mission to find herbs. The expedition proved to be a lucrative one and both the satchel and pack she had left with were brimming with a mixture of picked plants, some still with their root systems in tact in hopes that she could transplant them to Salsolan soil. The mission had not been entirely perfect, though. In a shocking twist of fate, Maelyx had run into her former pupil, River Grim. Apparently, Maelyx's move to Salsola had not been as clandestine as she hoped, and she fretted that this could bring her trouble.

Still, that was something she would have to deal with later, if it chose to rear its ugly head. She could just imagine what would happen if Avinalora found out where she had moved to... or Lux. Avi could be easily chased away, but Lux... that could cause problems, especially since their daughter, Jaketta, was now the Boss's ward.

Stop this foolishness, she admonished herself, shaking her head. This would do no good. There was no turning back now, and she had done what the dark goddess had bid her. She and Jaketta were where they belonged.

Even so, there was one casualty that she still felt guilty about. The witch had been gone from Moonstone Lakes for at least a month now, and if she did not know already, her young student from Casa di Cavalieri, Minerva, would probably find out about her disappearance soon. The young woman had a pure heart, and Maelyx could feel the wisdom and magick pulsing through her just waiting to be unleashed. Maelyx was the only available tutor who would not send her awry, and her disappearance would surely distress Minnie. Perhaps, some time far off, she would be able to resume her lessons... but for now, it would be a grave affront to the pack if Maelyx used valuable time and resources on the girl. Surely it would be seen as an act of treason.

This vein of thought is what led her to veer off course and leave the path that led her back to Salsola. If she could be quick about it she may only lose between twelve hours to a day, easily enough time to still say she was foraging. Hastening her step, the jackal veered off course and made way towards Amherst.

***

Can you tell me where any local traders are? Perhaps some crafts-person? the witch's bell-like tone rang out over the varied landscape. She was speaking to a middle-aged coyote who looked like he was either a merchant or a pirate... or both.

Well that be one open-ended order, sweet cheeks, he grumbled back to her. She scoffed and considered cracking him over the head with her bo staff, but decided not to as she had no idea if he had cohorts hidden in the nearby trees.

I know, she replied through gritted teeth, her South African accent growing stronger in her irritation. But I have many needs. Perhaps you can first start by telling me if anyone locally sells books, paper, ink, writing sticks?

The coyote leaned in, I gots this friend who does, but 'e only take one kind of payment from a gal like you. He reached out to hold her chin, but the witch jerked back too quickly for him and brought the butt of the bo staff up to meet him between the legs. He doubled over, whimpering like a dog.

Never mind, she spat on him. I will find them myself. Then she stalked on, towards the babbling cacophony of water.

The moon lights her way while she's howling at him.

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POSTED: Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:31 am

His camp, set up, his workshop, in order. All he needed was a few minutes to go and fetch some water. The brilliant blue of Fantasy's roan charm whispered in the greens and browns of the field dappled with less and less trees as they moved on. Marbled gaze burned dead ahead as the draft thundered through in a dead sprint, the flaxen and soot of her main and tail unfettered and her spirit wild and free. They were just out of site of the camp, which took some time considering how open the area was growing as they held further distance from the Reserve, and finally the clean scent of water touched Ezra's nose.

Calming Fantasy's untamed gait into an easy trot, his eyes were set on the water until the crisp and harsh voice of a man and a woman talking broken the natural world in two. Tall black ears stood as they came to a stop at the water's edge, and as clear as day the man who sought to touch her face was given the pain of his life. Straining to see, Ezra covered his brow with his hand to get a better look at who was getting himself in trouble. They were close enough to Amherst for him to potentially know who it was, if they were a trader.

Sure as sin, Ezra knew the man. He shook his head. That fool was going to talk to the wrong person one day, and that'd be the last anyone would see of him. Was that a bad thing? Ezra's earlier life would have rather been rid of the soul, but his new skin prevented him from doing anything save denying him a drinking habit at his expense. With a quick glance back at the camp, Ezra decided it was just a few minutes, and he could spare the time.

Guiding Fantasy over the water an nearer to the shade of the tree, he kept his distance just enough to test the situation. The floor-bound coyote groaned Ezra's name when he was able to breath, but Ezra ignored the cur,” Earning Luken his keep?” The dogman gave her a soft look, very much so to forgive him for knowing the lude man's name,” Lousey Luken, we call him, as he'd not good for very much,” Slipping from Fantasy's back, he made himself a bit near, brows furrowed at Luken's actions. The man reached a hand out as he choked a laugh out, a sad sight really that he reveled in his nature, considering what the man deserved,” You've brought this on yourself,” A tsk and a nod later, swirled eyes reached the woman that had given Luken the what-for.

“Is there anything I can help you with, my friend? Surely, you didn't find him out of want, but more of need,” Since the only person that would talk to the man is someone who didn't know him better. He wasn't exactly the type to have a conversation and he wasn't able to mask that fact with charm. Not like Ezra could,” My name is Ezra Vahn. Do you hail from a pack around here?” He questioned politely. Salsola was close enough for it to be on his mind, but far enough that she could simply be someone looking for directions to, or from, Amherst.
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POSTED: Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:30 pm

Word Count → 400+ :: Out of Character text

Hardly a breath passed between the time the man met the floor and another appeared. Maelyx's earlier fears confirmed – he did have cohorts lurking in the shadows. Still, he deserved every ounce of pain he got. Maelyx had been a victim once in her life... or maybe two or three times... and she was not about to become anybody's quarry ever again.

Cold, calculating blue eyes jumped to the new man as he emerged on scene, upon the broad back of a beautiful beast. Her eyes flashed. For the briefest of moments she thought the creature was Bogomo, her own lost mount... but it was only for a moment, and her folly had been quickly realized. There was a thread of disappointment in her, though she was more happy than anything, because she was probably outnumbered and if she needed to fight to get Bogomo back, she would likely be the loser.

The witch quickly realized that the encounter would not be what it seemed. The man began to speak, and instead of loosing threatening words in defense of his “friend” he only mocked the spluttering, coughing man. The jackal let a wry grin cock one half of her mouth. Well, it seemed they were just some brigands who knew one another, not worked for each other.

She snorted a laugh. Nah, nothing of the sort, she joked. We were just playing a round of roulette, and I went first. The spike of adrenaline that surged through her upon Ezra's appearance served to heighten her sense, and thicken her South African accent. Giving the offending man one last surly glance, she dismissed his presence entirely and padded a few steps towards the newcomer as he slipped from his mount.

Standing with her hands resting on her cocked hips, she fired back a ready-reply to part of his query. No, not from a pack, she said, though she likely looked a little too well-kempt to be telling the truth. The next, smooth sentence explained. But a band of loners to the east. It was a half-truth, which made it roll off her tongue like butter, and a fact that would be easy enough to believe and tough enough to verify without really wishing to look into her background. I just wanted to do a little trading and I picked the short straw, so I get to be the one to come deal with the local gentlemen, she jerked a thumb toward Lousy Luken, who was just now trying to get up to his knees.

I have a few items I am in need of, yes, but if you are Mr. Luken's friend he spoke of, then consider our business here at an end, the witch angled her head, tilting her chin upwards with pride and clearly not about to budge an inch where that was concerned.

The moon lights her way while she's howling at him.

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POSTED: Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:16 pm

“Well, I'll be,” Ezra smile politely,” You might be from a loner band, but you certainly aren't from here,” He wholeheartedly accepted her bluff, thinking nothing more of it, all smiles and quite happy to meet someone that wasn't from Nova Scotia. Someone like him,” I hail, born of Europe, from across ocean waters. I had a few old memories of friends with a tune like yours. It was from the ship I came here on,” His eyes reached the clouds, but he knew full well those folks weren't in any heaven anyone ever spoke of. The bastard pirate burrowed straight to hell, or at least he hoped they did. Mutineers, they were, along with the rest of his old crew. He couldn't hold the acts against her, of course. The woman was her own.

The merchant couldn't help a chuckle when she thumbed at Luken, an apologetic look offered her way. No one wanted to deal with that rat, and she had the great misfortune and the fantastic joy of proving it to him. Luken managed a boorish laugh as he brushed himself off, still holding his stomach,” Oh, that's 'im alright,” His laughing rose to a hoot before he righted himself completely.

Ezra on the other hand, wrinkled his nose at the man to the woman's declaration,” Well, now. I cannot speak solidly for another, but I wouldn't go as far as to use any word like that. 'Friend' is awful strong word for his lot,” Luken thought everyone was his friend, and didn't seem shy to ask favors of those he offered help to. Favors that Ezra certainly wasn't fond of. Yet, there wasn't much Ezra could do to convince the woman here against whatever it was Luken had told her.

“Though, I am a merchant and I deal in special wares that are rather rare for Nova Scotia. If you'd like,” The hand gestured across the river and over the field in which he'd came,” I have some paper stock that I am making right now, if you're interested? I work with many contracts to ensure paper is delivered for projects. It you are suspicious of me, however, I won't force you,” Ezra gave a polite bow, holding the frithr to his chest so it wouldn't dangle about, before turning back to his horse,” I only came in the off chance that you might need help with Lousy Luken, but I can see that is clearly not the case,” Another laugh crept from the mirthful soul that hopped atop Fantasy, her feathers still not dry from the walk across the stream a moment ago. There really was no pressure in his tune for her to follow. With that confidence she exuded? Well, only she could make that decision on her own.

”If you're looking for somewhere else to make trade, Amherst is not far from here, I'm sure you know,” He nosed in Amherst's direction, just in case, and made to turn Fantasy about,” I'll be off. If you'd like a ride, you're welcome to hop on. If not?” A warm smile measured on his narrow maw,” Well, I hope you are able to find the supplies you need soon, and I hope your day goes well from here on," With one last dip of his maw, he moved Fantasy on at a slow walk. If she changed her mind and wanted to catch up? Well, he didn't want to be too far, as it would only do him more good to trade out his stock. At least the word was out! That's all he could hope for.
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POSTED: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:41 pm

Word Count → 300+ :: Out of Character text

Her eyes rolled to peer suspiciously at Luken as he began to straighten up, apparently the waves of pain were subsiding. One oversized ear cupped in his direction, while the other remained politely trained on Ezra as he spoke. Maelyx believed him, he probably was not this “friend” Luken had alluded to, and now both men knew that she could defend herself. Protection by reputation was one of the most effective forms of defense. Probably nobody who saw what she did to Luken would want to risk the same happening to them just for a ride.

I do know of Amherst, she replied while Ezra was mounting up, her glassy eyes watching him the whole time. By all outward appearances, she seemed to be ignoring Luken entirely now. With long, confident steps she strode over to Ezra, stepping up beside his mount. But I do not wish to go there. Sounds like you already have production going on what I need. I would like to see your product. If it is any quality, we will make a deal. And with that, and Ezra's offer, she reached up for a handhold (probably Ezra's arm itself, should he offer it) and mounted the animal in a sweeping, fluid move.

Buh-bye, she said, almost flirtatiously to Luken while she waggled her fingers separately, the gesture was more like shooing away an unwanted child than saying goodbye to a trusted from. I shall let my people know about your... wonderful business practices, she told him, then straightened up and gave a nod. She was ready to go.

As they began to move, she realized that while she had spewed some rhetoric about her cover story, they had not actually introduced one another. I am Maelyx, she said. Just Maelyx. Last names were not necessary out here.

The moon lights her way while she's howling at him.

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Luperci I command you, I control you Eclipse the Blood Moon
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POSTED: Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:20 pm

Turning down Amherst, what stock Ezra had to trade, and trusting the willowy, sighthound mutt had all turned in Ezra's favor. It didn't take long for the woman to make her place on Fantasy's back and Ezra did offer her a hand to climb up. After all, Fantasy was a draft perfect for his height and likely a bit tall for her own. The draft paid little mind to the extra weight, however, and after the woman's fond farewell began to plod off. Ezra couldn't help but offer a pallid hand to the sky as a halfhearted wave,” Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Luken, so I hope to be very fond of you this season,” Ezra had never been a cruel man in Nova Scotia, but he did not enjoy the man's practices.

With fingers tangled into the bottom of Fantasy's ink-dipped, flaxen locks, she picked up speed to a smooth trot, which may still be a little more bumpy than a lighter horse. From behind, the woman's strong voice spoke her name over the sound of hoof beat and Ezra met her gaze over his shoulders,” A pleasure, Lady Maelyx,” A dip of his muzzle followed,” I am Ezra Vahn, and this,” He loosened his free hand from the mare's mane, his other still carrying the water pail,” This is Fantasy,” A few pats against the horses' neck were offered, since the stunning mare certainly worked to have her introduction just as well.

It didn't take long for them to cross the small stream and the field that Ezra had once flown over at a gallop. Just beyond the outcropping of trees sat his little camp and it unfolded quite gracefully as it came into view. A small, cold hearth with embers long dead at it's center; The cauldron over the charcoal had a wooden cap, likely with something inside. Another draft, the caramel Magni, waited patiently while tied with a lead to a tree as he snacked on the verdant earth. A cart, covered with a vanilla tinted jute canvas was tied down with twice and it seemed that half of the thing was empty. As the trees further unveiled his settlement, a wooden box sat filled to the brim with something thick and wet that had a leonine shade. Four boards lay flat against the earth, warmed by the sun, and his tools riddled a log as if it were a workbench,” Welcome to my camp,” He spoke softly and brought Fantasy about to a halt near Magni.

Hopping off of her back, he offered another hand for Maelyx to more easily meet the earth and left the mare to wander. He knew her not to go far and the horse definitely needed some play. Magni, the hungry boy, was a little more subborn, but Fantasy would keep him company well enough even though he was tied. The canvas on the cart shifted lightly and two orange eyes peered out of a ghost beneath it's cover and disappeared just as quickly. Bygul was not a very social fellow and Ezra wasn't going to press,” So, here it is!” With the bucket in one hand, he made his way over to the box and the screen that was placed beside it with a chuckle,” Where the magic happens.”
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POSTED: Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:59 pm

Word Count → 400+ :: Out of Character text

Maelyx gave a final, wry grin over her shoulder as the brigand's form shrank in the distance, Fantasy's enormous gate making quick work of the distance that spanned before them. As the horse's staccato steps filled the atmosphere, the two luperci upon her back introduced themselves. Ezra added the mare's name, too, and Maelyx gently rubbed her side in appreciation. I have one at home with a similar coloring, she said, by way of small talk. Probably half the size, though.

It was easy for the pair to fill in the time while Fantasy walked them to camp – easier still because the horse could cover so much ground with very little effort. Soon after the camp came into view, the mount stopped and Ezra slid down. Gracefully, and accepting his help graciously, Maelyx slipped down the creature's hip.

Hands on her own hips, she turned to peer at Ezra's camp, and made no attempt to hide her awe. Brows arched, her azure eyes took in the campsite before her. Quite the place, for a loner, she commented. The last part was not meant as an insult, but rather as acknowledgment of how hard it would be for someone without a pack to settle and defend a place like this. Surely his things would be coveted, and he would have little skirmishes on occasion at the least.

A gesture was made toward some tools, devices that would be peculiar to most but which Maelyx recognized quite well. She had learned the art of paper crafting, and had practiced it several times when she had a permanent home in Anathema. But those tools burned up in the war, and she had too much else to focus on – like climbing the political ladder – in her new life in Salsola. She would pick up the art again some time, but for now it was just not possible. Padding over to the work station, she peered down upon framed screen, taking it in for a moment before turning to peer at Ezra. So, do you just make loose leaf, or you bind them, too? she inquired. She had made sheets, herself, but had not yet become skilled in binding paper into a cover of any circumstance. The best she could do was pierce holes and run string or twine through them. She knew not how to bind them in wood and leather. I would pay top price for that, she added – a lie. The banter of the trade was basically a flirtation. Get to know your seller, make him think you were a pretty little, brainless lady, then low-ball him. It was a common enough tactic.

The moon lights her way while she's howling at him.

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Salsola
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☥ Nukiira ☥
Luperci I command you, I control you Eclipse the Blood Moon
filia lunae lumen
☽ Know Thyself ☾

POSTED: Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:37 am

Ezra took her comment with a chuckle, knowing Fantasy to be a recognizable beast by color, but truly by size. It was received as compliment,” I should like to meet them one day,” He spoke amiably. A crooked merchant never much spoke about future greetings, but Ezra had no fear of it. If there were no discourse through his trading venture on her behalf, he knew his wares were solid and reliable; enough to earn a returning customer with little effort.

Destination reached and Ezra dismounted, aiding Maelyx in her coming to the earth. Her features filled with admiration for his camp, but he made well to be humble of it. He'd never take a work space like this for granted. It was rare that he could set it up like this, much less leave it unattended, but daylight left little knowing of the oasis' he made for himself. Night was another story,” Thank you, Lady Maelyx,” A dip of his muzzle followed briefly,” It doesn't take such shape unless I'm working, thankfully. It is quite the clean-up,” He assured her. He had to make sure that everything was packed during travel, because he was awfully fond of nose-diving into his work and paying very little attention to his surroundings. He had to be absolutely sure that he was safe, though that didn't always go to plan, as any loner might know.

Maelyx didn't waste any time with her invitation to take a look at his work space. Setting the bucket down, he moved over to the log and watched as she took it all in. Ebony ears perked at her question, and he nodded,” I am able to perform both tasks with my fibers. Binding brings the cost up, but provide your own leather, or wood, and I can bind it for less. I've even worked bone, though I don't recommend. The fat and oils of the bone seep if fresh and can prevent pages from absorbing inks, dyes or any writing for that matter,” Hopefully, that would answer her question, and a few more if she had them. Ezra wouldn't skimp on information at all, because the truth sold better than a petty lie.

The comment presented to him received a warm smile and gratitude, a dip of his maw and a humble,” Thank you, again,” but it came with a offered with a wiser undertone,” The finest quality you will find in Nova Scotia, and I do not aim to brag,” He started, formally. There was no sly grin, no merchants twill to sell, and his friendly nature aimed to stay as he offered her a bit of insight,” I've been working my wares since my youth, and trained by masters in Europe. A family tradition, if you will,” Dipping his slender muzzle again in gratitude, he offered her a bit of knowledge of the fibers with a warmhearted grin,” I can make pages from just about anything with water in it. Dandelion to kelp, wood and wildflowers, and I hold contracts as well, to fill pack needs mostly. All fibers have different qualities, however,” He minded himself. Should she want to pay top price, she never spoke to exactly what it was she wanted. There were paper types that were worth less than others, and he wasn't a sly dealer,” What are you looking for in your papers? I wouldn't want you paying top price for something you may leave unhappy with.”

Words were spoken as honest truth. Just as he was not going to be swindled by customers in greedy Amherst, he made it his own purpose to provide the best that he could. It was the impression that you get what you give, and Ezra was never a man to give any less than his all to those that might earn it.
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Sticks and Stones

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