[M] only when it is dark enough can you see the stars

POSTED: Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:34 am

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

From a distance, the haze of the town gave it a dreamy look. The mist and cold from the sea met with smoke from dozens and dozens of small fires. That was all he could smell on his way in – cooking things, mostly, or fouler odors from refuse dumps. Fire was heat, though, and even during the day the cold was capable of becoming deadly. It was worse at night.

He was getting worried about that.

After all these years the lifestyle seemed to finally catch up with him. It happened slowly, at first. He barely noticed. The worst sickness had come, mercifully, during the summer. Then he had been able to rest.

Not that he was sick now. No, the aches were ever-present, and his teeth sometimes hurt, but he was moving. Little by little he found himself pointed to better places to settle. This place was large, and likely the largest he would find anytime soon. That seemed like a fine excuse to linger, despite the slow realization that Portland was far less hospitable than it seemed.

Sawyer wasn't surprised by this, though. Not really.

Despite his slow, sometimes-shuffling walk, the old dog still had his wits about him. He could spot danger well enough. The two coyotes he came across loitering in some dim alley had been less than helpful. A gaggle of fierce looking people passed him without looking, and many did their best not to notice him at all. This was only fair, he supposed – the older he got, the less valuable he became.

Unfortunately, this made him an easy target for lazy, opportunistic criminals.

A pretty, long-haired bitch was standing outside of the establishment with a rolled cigarette in hand. She had glared at him when he approached, but the old man's pleasantries won her over soon enough. He was a great talker, Sawyer Cook. Once he got going it was easy to keep an audience, especially one interested in what he had to offer. This wasn't hard to do. After this long, he had learned what words to say, and what phrases might invoke curiosity. A working girl who smoked was an easy target.

It was sloppy. He didn't see the eyes watching them from around the corner, and he didn't hear the men drunkenly discussing what they had seen. It wasn't until the girl left, wagging her fingers, that one of them got up.

Hey you botherin' her, old man?

Sawyer turned his head. The stranger was a mongrel touched by something wild, stinking of booze and rank hostility. The black dog put an arm over the sack hanging across his midsection.

I ain't botherin' no one, son.

I ain't yer son, you old bastard, the wolfdog snarled. What are you doing back here, huh? Skulking around and shit, you look like you're some kind of creep.

You just go back to minding your own business, I'll be on my way.

What did you say? Hey! He turned, barking at his companions. Hey, did you hear this fucking guy? What's your problem, huh? The wolfdog was advancing on him again. From the way he was looking at the bag, Sawyer had an idea that what had sparked the conflict. His grip around the satchel tightened. There was a noise from within and he felt a shift in pressure against his chest.

The old dog growled.

Now don't do this—, he began, but it was too late.

Against one man, Sawyer could hold his own and try to escape. He might have, but his attacker wasn't alone. When they could not wrestle the bag from the old dog's grip they took to beating him, laughing and jeering with delight.

The Troupe
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POSTED: Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:15 pm

O’Brien always walked away.

He was good at walking away. His livelihood counted on his escape, his ability to blend into a crowd, to disappear in broad daylight. He was quick, but knew when to go slow, how to match the gait and body language of groups around him. To stand in one place for too long was to invite suspicion, to give someone an opportunity to recognize his face, unremarkable as it was.

He was not built for confrontation, and this was how he’d fallen in with the Amaranthe brothers’ lot — a stupid moment of good conscience that had gotten him caught.

It had worked out well in this case. The mongrel was content as he’d ever been, and far less lonely for it. He frequented Mullen’s to listen to Malik play, grinning when the bard sang one of the sad crooners the man liked, and freed trinkets from purses and pockets while rabble-rousers shouted over the betting tables. He flirted with Adrianna as shamelessly as she flirted with all of them, and smiled knowingly when the euphemisms switched from sex to thievery. He got the others drinks sometimes, passing the ale around with a friendly look when they seemed tired, then retreated back to his little corner of the bar without waiting for thanks.

He was here now, lapping mead that was a little too sweet for his tastes, his eyes languidly watching the action around him. The tavern was bustling, and O’Brien could see his fellows were doing well for themselves tonight. His fingers itched to do another pass around the bar. The stool creaked as he stood, naturally leaning his elbow against the bar and turning his head as his drunken neighbor did, until he realized that the sauced coyote was staring at something outside.

It wasn’t unusual to hear growls and barks and jeers from strangers tussling in the street, made bold by drink. O’Brien would have ignored it, but some of the grunts and yelps of pain made his skin crawl. He stepped along with a trio of curious onlookers toward the entrance, looking out.

He saw the fist go into the old black dog’s side twice, saw the bared teeth, saw the first splatters of blood hit the pavement. His eyes widened.

O’Brien always walked away. He never invited trouble where he could help it.

He shuddered with anger, and his aggression surprised the bystanders he’d mixed in with. His posture made them lean away, and for the first time in a long time, everyone in the bar could see the thief.

Damn his conscience. Damn it all.

O’Brien barked, muscling his way through the onlookers and approaching the attackers with teeth bared. “Haw, stop beatin’ him!” His heart raced, but he lifted his head to meet the mean amber eyes of one of the men, who loosened his grip on the old dog’s hair to snarl in the pickpocket’s direction.

“This ain’t got nothing to do with you, asshole.”

O’Brien snapped his jaws. “Oh aye? This is no’ a square go, one auld man against a crew o’ mean bawbags—”

The wolfdog lurched toward him, grinning, slaver sparkling on his whiskers. “You sayin’ you wanna fight then?” he pressed, and O’Brien’s ears pulled back.

Naw, dinnae be an eejit, is no' worth it—

“Yeah, fuckin’ mon’ then, ye scabby walloper!”

The first punch hit O'Brien square in the face.
I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
The Troupe
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here come the ravens