through me you go amongst the lost people

POSTED: Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:57 am

They rode back together. Marlowe's horse was as ill-tempered as Jethro had expected and pinned its ears anytime Tobi came too close. For someone who might not have known to look, Marlowe's relaxed posture might have been laziness or something similar – but Jethro could see him controlling the horse. For something that so clearly looked like it desired to shake its rider and flee, Taz (the name of the miserable beast) obeyed Marlowe well enough. The cat had shown itself too, and it was strange-looking to Jethro and not spoken to him.

Marlowe asked a lot of questions about the war. He seemed particularly interested in what had happened between Vesper and Vicira.

Jethro warned him that the subject of the last Aquila was still a sore one. When he explained why, and who remained behind, they stopped talking for a while. The wreckage left in The Waste was enough to shake anyone who had known it before.

They stopped only once, when the smell of horse carried on the wind, but not long enough to see where they had gone. Marlowe had spoken more as they began moving through the forest, more practical questions about their camp, their size, their hunting plans. He and the spotted cat balanced behind him sometimes spoke to each other in a strange language.

When they neared the camp, Jethro yodeled to announce himself – and company.

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POSTED: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:28 am

The summer days blurred together, seemed to lack purpose without a leader's word or a goal to build toward. This was not a bad thing really; the coyotes were still thin, and most of their efforts were directed toward feeding themselves and keeping their camp secure. Merari busied herself with basic chores, like ensuring the animals were fed, and used hunting as an excuse to explore the lands around them.

She didn't reveal any dissatisfaction, though, except sometimes to make passive-aggressive quips at those who lounged around. On good days, she was cheerful and teased her brothers and played with her pigs. On bad days, she slept, or disappeared. Mostly, she felt like she was waiting for something to happen.

One day it did.

Her cousin's yowl stirred the pigs, who dislodged Merari from the porcine pile she was asleep on. She rubbed the pink sow's ears comfortingly while Murphy grunted and trotted around in busy circles, then stretched. She heard Laurel get up, too, but beat him to the horses walking through the wood.

"Hey," she greeted Jethro, then lifted her eyes to the stranger. He was small -- shorter than Rari, who inherited her mother's height -- and looked all torn up, shaggy and silvered. His ear was torn, his face scarred, his eyes a bright color like shiny coins. He looked like danger, but this only made Merari's face light up curiously.

Laurel appeared beside her. His smile was slow like his voice. "Mira lo que el Gato arrastró," he joked, winking at Jethro, then put a hand on his hip. "Who're you, amigo?"

He was suspicious, Merari realized, having spent more time with Laurel since their trading venture. He didn't look like it -- he looked at ease, maybe a little dumb -- but the old man's pauses between drawled words were biding time to think. Laurel hadn't met the man, but Marlowe de le Poer was not someone beyond verbal description.
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POSTED: Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:11 am

Their camp was a small but lively place – they had less animals then before but some Jethro would not have thought to bring. People cycled in and out as time passed. Largely, everyone did as they pleased. They shared when it was appropriate, but not always, and this was okay too. Survival was about enduring, and they could only do well together if they were doing well individually.

It was his cousin and the older man, Laurel, who were still around when they arrived. Jethro dismounted his big horse at their approach.

The darker coyote was still on his, looking at Merari in a way that seemed overly critical – like he was assessing something about her, or trying to. He stopped as soon as he was addressed, and a cautious false-friendly trader's smile appeared on his face.

Someone who lived here a long time ago, amigo he answered. He was slower to dismount, favored his left leg when he did so, and kept a tight hold on the horse even after he was on the ground.

His name is Marlowe, the blonde interrupted, looking at his cousin directly. For Laurel's sake he added: He was the Bellator before my father.

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POSTED: Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:12 pm

The dark coyote stared back at Merari. She was conscious of this, and lifted a hand to pull at one of her lank pigtails with a twist of her mouth. She couldn't find it within herself to feel shy or displeased at the attention, however. This older stranger was someone new, just another risk -- and Rari liked taking risks. Everything had been so horribly dull lately.

She wondered briefly if he was a creep, but then Jethro introduced him as Marlowe, and something like recognition came to her face. She only looked more curious.

Marlowe was not a man whom she'd been taught about, not really. Vesper had mentioned him in a story, spitting his name derisively, while the history book named him a traitor with scarce details -- all penned by Vicira, who had always mentioned the past Bellator with clinical detachment. He was just another vicious rebel in the ranks, notable only for how far he had risen.

He might have stuck out more had Merari known the truth about him and her mother, but Vicira never would have told her children about such things.

Ah sí, I know you, Laurel said. He smirked and crossed his arms with good-natured smugness, tilting his head. Reckon I heard a whole lot of bad things about you. Despite his knowing words there was no heat or bite to his voice, just the same slow drawl. Similarly, staring between the old loner and her cousin who'd brought him here, Merari reserved her own judgment and waited to see what they said.

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POSTED: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:59 pm

The old, scarred coywolf smiled. It didn't suit his eyes.

Did you now? Well, that ain't surprising – a lot of people like to say a lot of things about people they don't know. Thing is, he shrugged one shoulder casually and gestured with his open hand. I did my job. Problem with some people is that when they run into trouble it's easier to blame it on someone else. People been blamin' me for things since I was a kid, but you know how it goes.

He sounded so certain and so sure of himself that Jethro believed him. It was the same reason he had been willing to bring him back here. Whatever Marlowe had done didn't change the fact that he seemed capable, and more importantly, that he had seemed so willing to help them.

If we all believed everything we hear, Marlowe went on. I reckon there'd be a lot more unreasonable things out there. But listen, I ain't here to cause no grief. I figured I could help out. Another pair of hands can't hurt, right?

Jethro looked to the others to see what they thought. He was still struggling to fully grasp independence and felt a decision like this belonged to the collective.

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