So Pick up Your Battering Ram

For Ceridwen

POSTED: Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:57 am

(1023)

For Ceridwen on the Shattered Coast towards Halifax. Dated to December 28th.

He was pretty sure the man he met yesterday—the one on all fours with the birds that gave him directions on how best to get out of the city ruins—gave him the wrong ones. Was that a thing? Giving out wrong directions? He didn't really know and he didn't want to believe someone would be so needlessly cruel but he found that he didn't know what else to think. Because he told them he wanted to head east out of the city. He would have even accepted being given directions northeast if that's what it would have taken. But west? He was pretty sure he didn't mention anything about going west at all.

And he was definitely, definitely west. He could tell by the general feel of the land and the rocky and snowy shores crunching away underfoot because he'd been there before, however briefly.

A large part of him found that he couldn't even complain. He was out of the city. It was what he wanted and sure, he would have really preferred if the crumbling ruins spit him out east or even northeast, but he couldn't bring himself to care or even be all that upset.

He wasn't going to die alone in the streets! He wasn't going to have to become one with the many little rats that had scurried around whenever he rounded a corner! What more could be possibly want in life!?

And, well, truth be told, he still sort of wanted a lot in life.

He wanted to be never alone. He wanted friends who felt as strongly as him as he did for them. He wanted to feel like he was good and capable enough to love others and be loved in return. But he understood that was probably a tall order and that he would have to be really, really lucky to accomplish even one of those things. And when he was pretty sure he was literally cursed with bad luck? It made his hope in achieving any of those items on his list dwindle to nothing. Maybe even less than nothing.

He was sort of a bottom feeder like that, when he thought about it. Because all he ever really seemed to do was hover around places and hope he got some scraps of affection or food out of it. Sometimes he even managed to net both! But that was only sometimes. Today didn't seem to be shaping out to be one of those days. Not when he spent the better half of the morning alone and wandering barren and rocky shores.

There wasn't any food to be found. Not even one abandoned carcass of a fish. And there wasn't any signs of recent travel, either. The only thing in his immediate vincity was his own body, the air around him, the skies above, and the rocky and damp shores underfoot. His ear twitched and he did his best to not throw a tantrum. There was still a whole day ahead of him! Just because he didn't start it on the right foot didn't mean all of it was ruined—right?

Right?

Who was he kidding.

He let out an irritated huff and abruptly stopped his wandering to throw himself down onto the cold and pebbly shore. While he did so he listed true and important facts behind his owlish yellow eyes.

He was Cottongrass No-Last-Name the self called explorer. His four messy paws had carried him from the west coast to now the east coast and everywhere in between. He had never travelled particularly far south before and thus, the cold was mostly all he knew. Not like the current place he wandered about in was particularly cold—the weather was perpetually pleasant, if you asked him. He was pretty sure the east coast was the best coast he'd ever been to. And he was done with exploring, temporarly, at least for today.

It hadn't gotten him anything particularly good today. He had spent much of yesterday flailing about horribly lost in a twisted and towering maze of mysterious stone structures and had spent following the night and morning believing and listening to bad directions. Not that it was probably the man from yesterday's fault. Directions were hard. Getting lost was unbelievably easy, especially when you were cursed with eternal bad luck. If you asked him, all that certainly warranted his current reaction. So his shenanigans continued. He smeared his face into the coast underfoot, enjoying the cold and rough sensation of rock and snow alike. His tail thumped against the ground and he rolled onto his stomach for one dizzying second. High above him were dirty blue skies with the kind of haze of clouds that suggested it was going to be an overcast and possibly rainy or snowy day.

And when he was finally done with that, he pushed himself onto his four feet and toddled off towards the lapping waves of the ocean. Where he promptly and happily dunked himself into the surf as if doing so would physically wash him clean of the bad mood that was clinging to him. It really did wipe away whatever irritation had been following him like a shadow that day.

It was really hard to be annoyed when your teeth were chattering and you couldn't catch your breath from the sudden change in temperature and resulting shock, he supposed, before clumsily getting to his feet. Once planted on all fours he waddled out of the water and back onto drier land. His bout of weirdness wasn't over quite yet, however. He skittered his way towards a particularly untouched pile of snow and immediately took to rolling around in it, using it to dry his wet fur. Not that an outsider looking in would be able to tell.

Whatever.

He was weird. He felt like accepting and embracing it, for the day. And maybe once he got it out of his system he would be able to go back to being normal. Besides, it wasn't like there was anyone around to judge him, right?

Loners
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Emmett
Non-Luperci

POSTED: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:33 am

Fortunately for Ceridwen, the ruins of Halifax were only a short trip from the protection of the Cour des Miracles territory. She ventured towards the area often, taking the opportunity to scavenge unique plants and items that always seemed to pop up the closer one came to the city. A thin layer of fresh, white snow blanketed the land that stretched far and wide. Beneath that, a crisp layer of re-frozen snow that crunched noisily on foot. There was no way she, or anyone was going to be stealthy going about the wilds. The world around her, however, was placid, almost so void of anything particularly interesting at all that Ceridwen forgot to care about maintaining an inconspicuous profile. She might as well have been thrashing about, but there was one creature within the vicinity that made more of a ruckus than even her stomping did.

It was the contrast of his fur against the snow, and the shifting shadows cast by his moving body, that drew her attention instantaneously. Had he been standing still, or moving slowly, she might not have noticed him at all. But there he was, rolling and writhing as if possessed. In the few moments that he continued the show, she strode up to his flailing form, and squatted, watching, waiting patiently until she was noticed. There was a small, crooked grin that tugged at the corner of her thin, dark lips. Mindlessly, she lifted her fingers to her chin, stroking the sparse patch of fur contemplatively.

"Why, you just might be the least feral wolf I have ever encountered." There was a peculiar vibration in the timbre of her tone. An electrifying moment passed over, sending tremors up her spine, making the downy hairs of her undercoat rise. It was reminiscent of the energy exuded by a predator that was about to pounce, tense and alert. As quickly as it came on, however, it vanished, lost in a long, smooth exhale. Nonetheless, she had a point. Even her, a vaguely wolfish looking cur clothed in little more than a warm wool poncho and a burlap shoulder bag beneath that, had just for a moment resembled more like a feral beast than this strange lad had. Rocking back onto the balls of her feet, she pushed herself up, standing at full height as she inspected the ivory canine. "You'll get clumps of ice in your pelt." She chastised, speaking as she might to a younger sibling. Beneath her breath, she whispered an exasperated but fond, "Stupid." [421]
Cour des Miracles
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Ray
Luperci

POSTED: Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:02 am

(335)

As it turned out—there was someone watching!

Her sudden presence startled him. Drew him from whatever restless energy that had swallowed him and had his mind returning to the presence with a start. He was quick to roll onto his stomach and push himself onto his feet all while he puffed up like a startled and freshly hatched baby owl. His panic faded, however, when he realized just who exactly was talking to him. Not that he knew or recognized the women—no, he just knew that she was a women and that she had said something to him just now.

Something about him not being feral? Whatever. He didn't really understand it and he didn't put much energy into making sense of her initial words. Not when she drew herself to her full height and continued speaking.

'You'll get clumps of ice in your pelt.' The women spoke, words not unfriendly and somewhere between amused and maybe a little bit annoyed. Like she knew more than him or something. Which she probably did, truthfully, but Cottongrass wasn't having any of that attitude. Not today! And there might have been something else tacked onto the end of her sentence, but he couldn't tell if it was directed at him or not and he usually tried not to eavesdrop.

And so Cottongrass went, drawing himself to his full height with his tail giving an insistent wag in the salty cold air behind him.

"No." He started out, like that was all the explanation she needed. He continued on not a moment later. "Not, not if you do it right." Which he hadn't—not when he looked down at his chest and paws and saw that his fur was still all soggy. Which was, huh. Whatever, he abruptly decided in his own thoughts. His ataatatsiaq had knew how to roll in the snow the right way after getting in the water to dry off, and he was closer to his ataatatsiaq then she was so—

There.

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Emmett
Non-Luperci

POSTED: Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:58 pm

There was a fine art to surviving Canadian winters. Ceridwen knew them as well as any other wolf of the wilds might, though she was severely out of practice considering she preferred her Optime form. It was as if the day she had begun to shift, she had never really looked back. "If you do it right." She echoed, gazing solemnly upon the wolf. He was perhaps half her age, though she would never have guessed it from his hefty build. "Well," She began again, briefly yawning without bothering to cover her maw. "I can help ya out if you want." Grasping a corner of her poncho, she gave it a little shake. In a pinch, it could be used as a towel or a blanket, which was why she preferred to use it rather than the more constricting garb that some of her fellow pack mates wore.

Lifting her nose slightly, she gave a little sniff, reading deeper into the situation. Her eyes widened slightly when she realized that the stranger was not quite like her. "Oh," Brushing her hair out of her eyes, she gave the beast a renewed look of interest. "You're not a Luperci?" It was not often that she encountered canines that had remained uninfected, and rarer still to see them traveling alone. She was not sure exactly what to make of the wolf. [235]
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Ray
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POSTED: Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:13 pm

(287)

The women—whoever she was—struck him as a little strange. She wore what looked like bone on half her features and there was something vaguely predatory about her that Cottongrass couldn't really name, but at the same time she seemed friendly. It wasn't just anyone who would offer to help dry him off, anyway. He watched as one of her hands reached out for the cloth she wore over her body like some kind of cape or something else just as loose fitting.

His tail wagged a beat or two and his head cocked, ears rolled forward and yellow eyes vaguely scrutinizing. She wanted to help. Cottongrass usually liked being help, especially if it meant that there was some semblance of physical contact involved. But he wasn't all that sure about her. It didn't matter. In the end, his instincts to socialize and be liked won.

"Okay." He said, whatever suspicions he had about her melting away from him like water off of a duck's back. He waddled forward and planted himself just within her reach, head dropped down in obedience if she wanted to start helping him dry off. His actions froze when she sniffed at the air and a realization dawned at her.

Did he smell? Maybe he was from a pack she didn't like? His worries faded when instead of voicing any such thoughts, the women instead asked if he wasn't a Lupecri. It didn't sound like a question he was supposed to answer, but he answered anyway. His tail wagged in the sand and he sat straighter before her.

"Nope, can't shift." His head cocked. "Is that, is that a problem?" If it was, he wouldn't really know how to fix that.

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Emmett
Non-Luperci

POSTED: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:02 pm

Shrugging the cloak from her shoulders, she took it to Cottongrass' fur, breaking off the clumps. He was distinctly smaller than the wolves she was used to, though those ones had been beasts in their own rights. Their polar cousins were softer in appearance, largely due to their much thicker coat, and their narrow skulls gave them a perpetually youthful appearance. "When it's too cold," She started, moving from the top of the wolf's neck, down the length of his back. "The water turns almost instantly into ice. Usually, when it's not quite as cold, it's more like slush. When you roll in the snow, it helps to disperse the ice crystals, making them easier to shed." Alternatively, a thin layer of snow could provide additional insulation during the coldest evenings. "And your fur isn't quite as oily as a polar bear's." She added, helping him to shake off any of the remaining clumps of significant size.

Finally, he sat straight, answering the question she already knew the answer to. It was strange to think of a wolf as being unable to shift. Even those who preferred their ancestral form lived in it only by choice. Ceridwen herself had used it several times after puppyhood, for that was the form that took up the least amount of energy. To her, true wolves were more like mythical creatures almost; a rare woodlands creature met only by the most keen explorers. Of course, the wolf before her was not a forest dweller by origin, but Ceridwen was swept up by her own imagination

Suddenly, the wolf posed a question that caught her off guard. She stared vacantly, making several futile attempts to get the motors of her brain turning. "It's not a problem for me." She managed to say bluntly, wondering what the purpose of his question was. Did he think she might act differently? Had he previously encountered luperci with prejudices against his kind? She could have pestered him for details, to grill the yearling until her curiosity was satisfied, but opted instead to return inquiry. "Do you have a problem with not being able to shift?" If he did, she could resolve that issue, but she thought he was just fine as he was. If he cared to do so, he could rejoin the wilds and live a simple life. [395]
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Ray
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POSTED: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:46 pm

(382)

The cloak she wore came off her shoulders and she used it to help dry him off like she said she would when they had first met. She spoke the entire time, dragging the material over his fur and over his body, her voice informative and maybe even a little patronizing, if he were to be honest. Didn't she know he already knew all this?! Well, not really—his understanding of how rolling in the snow after being in water was a lot more primitive and basic than hers—but the way she had behaved when she had first happened upon him still rubbed him the wrong way.

"I knew all that that!" He chirped, voice more bratty than anything else, the statement punctuated by an insistently wagging tail and him stamping one white paw in the snow and sand underneath.

The energy left him as quickly as it had came, however, when the women answered his earlier question, the one where he asked if him not being a Lupecri was an issue. It wasn't. His muscles and body relaxed some and he gave a brisk nod in her direction of approval. It was always nice meeting someone who didn't hate or dislike him for something he couldn't control. She asked if he cared about not being able to shift.

"No!" Came his answer, head shaking back and forth as if the idea of being upset about such matters was below him. He was fine not being able to shift. It made some situations painfully awkward, sure—he was pretty sure when Cidro reached out to shake his hand when he didn't have any to shake would haunt him forever—and some people seemed to take offense to it, but he didn't mind it, not really.

It was just a part of who he was.

He was Cottongrass No-Last-Name, explorer and adventurer, and he didn't have hands.

He personally thought it was a mighty fine title. But he was getting off topic in his own big and empty mind.

"Some, some of the other people I've met in the past, before, have had some problems with it, though." He admitted to her, ears rolling back in distaste at some of the treatment he was on the receiving end of from two-legged canines.

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Emmett
Non-Luperci

POSTED: Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:06 am

Ceridwen seemed not to hear him, for she regarded the youth in a similar manner as she did Risa. As a yearling, it was her unwarranted job to mentor him, she felt. "Yeah, well it didn't look like it." She said finally as she finished up. In fact, it rather sort of appeared that he did, but she was reluctant to admit as much. "You know, I was probably around your age when I set out on my own." It took her almost a year of traveling before she felt ready to settle down. She wasn't exactly sure what had compelled her to settle down within the Court, but it felt right, and so far she had no qualms.

"It's better to stay the way you are. I think if I had the choice, I'd be happier without the ability." She looked down at her hands, flexing one as if testing it out for the first time. It looked as appropriate and natural to her as her quadrupedal form did. "I think the infection makes us think things we don't really want to think. Some are bad, most are unnecessary." Wiggling her thumb, she wondered if it had something to do with that. Never had she claimed to be perfect, and she was well aware that she would receive no award for being an outstanding citizen. Dishonest and conniving, it was impossible to believe she acted without ulterior motive. At the same time, however, she was genuinely helpful, and truly interested in the well-being of others. It was an odd juxtaposition that often left her in battles against herself, waging war between her varying motivations.

"So how come you thought it was a good time to go for a swim? Where are you off too?" Taking a step back, she briefly turned from the young wolf, and shook out the wool material. Frowning, she took the article caked with ice, and threw it over her shoulders once more, shuddering. The inside would warm up soon enough. [336]
Cour des Miracles
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Ray
Luperci

POSTED: Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:33 am

(343)

'You know, I was probably around your age when I set out on my own.'

"Oh." Was all Cottongrass said in return, acknowledging the statement but unsure of whether or not he should tell her that he had actually left home a handful of months ago, back when it had yet to snow or even show any signs doing so. He remained silent, decision made not out of malice or secretive intentions, but instead because she was speaking and he didn't feel like interrupting her. Not when what she had to say about his inability to shift and shifting in general was far more interesting than his sob story of a background.

He couldn't help but perk his ears and tilt his head in interest and faint confusion at some of her word choices. Like how she thought she would be better off without the ability, like it wasn't something one was born with. And infection—infection meant bad and implied that it could spread or something, in his world. Did it mean something different in hers?

Cottongrass didn't know and only listened in attentive silence.

He only spoke up when the topic changed and the women asked about why he had chosen to take a dip in the ocean, and where he might have been heading.

"Nowhere." He replied distractedly. "Someone, they gave me bad directions when I was lost in the, the city, so I went in the water to cool off." He didn't care for liars. Not that he really could believe the man in question—or anyone, really—could be so intentionally cruel but the anger and annoyance had remained all the same. In that moment Cottongrass decided that he was over it.

His mind and thoughts wouldn't stop circling back to the women's earlier words. The ones that spoke about ability and infection. His head cocked and his yellow eyes focused on the stranger.

"What, what did you mean, before, about shifting? That, that it's an ability, an infection?" He asked. That's where his true interests where, anyway.

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Emmett
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