When hunter became the hunted

Clementine

POSTED: Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:08 pm

Optime | Salsola northern border; late evening (+394)

Used these images for kind of scene inspiration: 1, 2, 3

Kamari crouched low near the copse of birch trees. She had a hand placed on the ground to steady her, nostrils flaring and coming out in soft, wispy curls in the cool, autumn night. As it had for the past week or so, fog had crawled across the land in a thick, low-lying blanket. It created for a rather spooky effect, particularly with the soft, rattling of the trees and their leaves when a cold breeze blew through. The last of the day’s light slipped further and further on the distant horizon, leaving darkness to eagerly gobble up the world in its wake.

Though the moon would soon show its face, the forest on Salsola’s northern border was largely quiet, still. It was too cold for the frogs to croak their tunes or for the crickets to thrum their persistent, high-pitched buzz. Branches creaked, leaves shook, and, occasionally, one could hear the distant rustle of a nightly critter or the hoot of an owl hot in its pursuit.

The scent the Emissary had come across was not one she recognized. It was male, healthy, of wolfish descent. They were likely of average size, judging by how high the mark was on the tree and the Lupus paw prints left on the soft earth at its base. Had the marking been elsewhere, Kamari might have paid it little mind. However, it was on the Salsolan side of the border, which meant that an Outsider had recently trespassed, and done so without springing any traps. At least, that Kamari had found thus far.

It was the second mark like it, and Kamari wondered if some Loner had foolishly decided to challenge the Kingdom’s might and patience.

She stood, brushing off her hands as her cornflower blue eyes roved over what dark contours she could make out amongst the milky, thick fog. Kamari was garbed in her usual assortment of clothing and weaponry, her hooded cloak only helping her further to blend in with the shadowed world around her. Her tall ears flickered where they poked out from her hood, twisting as she heard the soft, faint crunch of leaflitter.

The Shadow turned her head slowly, carefully, until she recognized the other as Family rather than a threat. “Warden,” she greeted neutrally, her voice quieted due to their proximity to the border.

Kamari Kaiser

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POSTED: Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:40 pm

367

She starts in lupus, then shifts to optime. (:

In truth, Clementine was not one for patrolling the borders much — having no natural propensity for violence, despite her recent encounter with a packmate — but she craved new and interesting experiences, which was the closest she might come to explaining her presence there. She knew as well that that simpler lies were easier to disguise and that salting them with truth eased the bitter taste.

Mostly, no one questioned her motives or whereabouts. The Inquisition had turned its eyes outward, and no longer were doors caving in during the course of the night, nor had there been signs of treachery by torchlight… not that anyone had ever come to her door, exempt from suspicion as she was. She left magic to the others, and for the moment her door remained as it always had, unreachable, untouchable by virtue of whom she lived with.

Having intended to go straight home upon returning from one of her many ventures, she nonetheless swung around upon picking up unfamiliar, foreign scents. On four legs as opposed to two, she’d left her horse behind due to the brief nature of the trip, preferring discretion to overt shows of extravagance and wealth.

She arrived in this way, nose to the air, having at some point followed the scent of the Emissary as opposed to other, stranger smells, feeling certain that they were on the same trail.

Emissary Kaiser, She greeted politely with a brief but purposeful dip of her head, keen to show credit where it was due. There was some history in their tangled family lines, she thought, but knew little enough about it to think it was worth bringing up.

Taking a moment — a long moment, really, given her preference for one form — she shifted grotesquely from four to two legs, preferring the utility this brought. This made her copper mane a bit wilder than usual, which was decidedly not her preference, but she was willing to sacrifice propriety for pragmatism.

is it only the two marks, then? She wondered aloud, making her intentions here clear. In the moonlight, she licked her slightly elongated incisors, clearly intrigued by the idea of a possible trespasser. It was bold; bold and reckless.


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POSTED: Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:18 am

(+554)

Found the trap! Feel free to have Clementine actually find it! :3

With the initial exchange of greetings between them completed, Clementine began to shift, notated by the familiar sound of pops as bone remolded and changed. Kamari let her sharp gaze shift back to the dark forest ahead of them as she waited, giving the Warden some privacy while also ensuring that they were not taken by surprise while Clementine was in such a vulnerable state. The owner of the brazen urine markings could have been in the area, watching, waiting. The last thing Kamari wanted was for the Queen’s niece to turn up injured, or, worse, dead.

“That I’ve found, yes,” she confirmed with a nod to the Salcedo’s question. Kamari let out a soft scoff as her gaze returned to Clementine, “He must think himself clever.”

Too bad the mysterious male had picked the wrong Kingdom to play foolish games with.

Seeing that Clementine’s transformation had completed, the Shadow jerked her nose in the direction she wished for them to proceed. It was obvious that the red-furred yearling had intentions to aide her in getting to the bottom of the problem at hand. There would have been no other reason for her opening remark otherwise. “His footprints lead off in this direction. Let’s see what other trouble he’s been up to.” If they were lucky, perhaps they’d catch the Outsider by surprise in this fog.

Kamari led the way with feather-light steps, trusting that Clementine would follow along in the same general direction. She did not voice any instructions on how they would continue the patrol, believing that Clementine’s rank as Warden would have proven that she no longer needed to have her hand held for something so mundane. Kamari paused every so often, adjusting their heading, ensuring that they remained on the right track, and also to avoid the risk of thoughtlessly walking into a trap. Being on the Kingdom’s side of the border might have made a more arrogant or foolish Salsolan complacent, and for a Loner that was brave enough to not only trespass, but to leave his own scent marker? There was no telling what they might expect to find by following his trail.

Along the way, they discovered four more scent markers placed over Salsola’s own, as well as one trap that had been dismantled. It was as they came up to another trap that Kamari suddenly halted, a hand shooting out—causing the her cloak to flutter from the sharp movement—just in case Clementine’s attention had been focused elsewhere. “Wait,” she whispered, her ears standing tall and alert.

The worn game trail had been blocked off by a felled tree—it still had green pine needles on it—where it hadn’t been before. The obstruction forced one to take a less-traveled fork if they wished to remain on the game trail. It might have seemed ordinary, but there was something distinctly…off about it. One more inclined with their sixth sense might have felt the icy tendrils of warning on the back of their nape.

“Let’s swing wide.” It would take a little more effort to blaze one’s own path in the foggy darkness, but, it felt like a safer alternative to the foreboding trail that had been provided.

Kamari Kaiser

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POSTED: Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:42 pm

514

Also TL;DR Clem's foot is nudging the support of a deadfall trap. Feel free to have it fall, or they can disarm it!

With the keen blue eyes of the Emissary to watch over her – or, rather, not over her – she did not fear the possibility of attack. Too often she thought herself above such pedestrian things, and couldn’t imagine herself dying in such a feeble, boring way. Truth be told, she never considered death or dying in the way many did, too enraptured by her own youth.

She snorted when her companion mentioned the trespasser’s likely opinion of himself but said no more about it. The general feeling in Salsola, a Queendom if there ever was, would hold that men were inferior, incapable or less likely to present rational thought processes, driven by some lizard brain to kill, molest, or otherwise do harm. In this, Clementine felt they underestimated a whole half of their population.

If the stories were true, Lokr Revlis had begun a war that ultimately decimated Inferni and isolated Salsola once again, forcing it to look inward rather than outward.

Following with fleet footsteps, it was apparent that despite her vocational leanings to diplomacy and trade, and her vehement dislike for violence, her mothers had imparted some sense of propriety in her. The way her family walked was almost a trademark; not the catlike step of the Tigress, however, but a heel-toe step that was reminiscent of both dancers and soldiers.

Thus, she did not stumble through the undergrowth, breaking every twig and stepping on every leaf.

She followed in this way, cognizant not only of Kamari’s skill, but her rank. Her aunts were powerful women, and her mothers capable fighters, but for all her pomp and circumstance, a deep-founded respect for the rank and file was as much in her bones as her blue blood.

So close was she on the jackal woman’s heels that when her arm shot out, the Warden had only enough time to stop. Irritation, or something like it, threatened to surface – and did, in the darkness – but this was smothered swiftly and resolutely, ears trained forward in the event that the older woman had heard something. It wasn’t a sound, however that proved the problem.

Her less-honed senses didn’t tingle with the same ephemeral sense of dread, but an everyday sense of caution amplified by Kamari’s knowledge gave her what she needed. It wasn’t so much that a fallen tree was strange by itself, but the angle at which it had fallen and the relative health of the tree; there had been no monstrous winds recently either.

This way, Suggested the Salcedo, arbitrarily choosing to move further away from the tree and the border. Thinking about the tree and every detail to do with it, she picked her way carefully through the pathless woods and bramble, transitioning from a silent, stalking step to something more akin to a shuffle, distributing her weight carefully on the ground beneath her.

When her foot nudged something undeniably unnatural, she felt at last the slow trickle of fear.

there’s something here. She whispered, a curious edge to her voice.


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POSTED: Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:21 pm

(+428)

Sorry for the wait! I had a dip in writing muse there @___@

For reference for others, they found a deadfall trap. I had them find the end of the trigger mechanism.

She found little issue with Clementine’s choice of direction. Another more arrogant highborn or Salolan might have balked at not making the decision themselves. Kamari, however, valued survival over petty politics and struts of power. Nodding, she followed, her eyes turning sharply to scrutinizing the various, shadowed contours of the foggy forest around them. The weather was both a blessing and a curse, as it concealed their presence, but, also concealed other nefarious things too. Something was definitely wrong with the area, and the fact that the trespassing Loner had come through it too had made her extra cautious.

They hadn’t gotten far in their off-trail path before the red-furred Warden suddenly halted. The whispered words that fell from her lips caused Kamari to pause in her own step. “Don’t move,” she whispered back. If the Outsider had set up a trap of his own like Kamari had suspected, she didn’t want to trigger it. Carefully drawing up slowly next to Clementine, the jackal hybrid eased into a crouch, featherlight fingers searching through the curling fog in the darkness.

Something coarse brushed against the pads of her fingers and palms—rope, she realized. Barely applying pressure to it, she allowed a hand to glide along its surface. It was taut, connected to something high above her own head. From what she could make out in the darkness though, Kamari was almost certain that it was tied to a branch that was supporting something else. Something much heavier.

“You can back away from it,” she told Clementine from over her shoulder once she was sure it was safe. “It doesn’t look like it was triggered yet.” Her cornflower blue eyes narrowed in the darkness, trying to follow and figure out the general setup of what the Warden had discovered. “He set up his own trap,” she contemplated aloud in a whispered breath.

What was this Outsider’s purpose? Marking within the Kingdom? Dismantling their traps? And now this? Had someone in Salsola wronged this man? Or was it related to the cold case regarding the Crone’s horrific murder?

Turning back to Clementine, Kamari asked her, “Do you think you can help me figure out how to dismantle it?” It would have been too dangerous if they didn’t. A patrol might unknowingly stumble into it. Kamari knew not of Clementine’s abilities though, and wouldn’t force her to help if she didn’t feel confident in doing so. Foolishly commanding such a thing could end up with someone getting hurt.

Kamari Kaiser

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POSTED: Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:07 pm

375

Feel free to PP Clem helping to dismantle the trap in your next post. ♥

At Kamari’s hushed instruction, she stepped away from the trap with quiet alacrity, now eying the thing as if it were some venomous snake who’d wronged her and not a relatively inanimate object; though unharmed, she felt wronged somehow, and offended by the idea.

It was becoming increasingly clear the loner they’d been tracking was no simpleton – none of this had been accidental – and that made him all the more dangerous. That anyone would intentionally, purposefully, and willfully cross their borders and dismantle their traps was an affront to all of Salsola, not just the Emissary and herself. Gingerly touching the taught string in thought, Clementine cocked one ear in her companion’s direction while she spoke, nodding silently.

The Crone had died before her arrival here, but the aftermath could hardly be forgotten, what with Delfina’s corpse rotting under the weight of the crushing waterfall she’d been thrown from. That had been her introduction to Salsola; real Salsola, a place where your worst enemy could be your neighbor. Eying Kamari, who’d been assaulted by the madwoman, Clem shrugged vaguely.

I’m no expert, She informed the blue-eyed woman readily in hushed tones, hesitant to overstate her abilities in a situation such as this one. Her skills lay elsewhere – trade, manipulation, politics, and more – but with proper direction there was little she couldn’t do.

I can assist you, though, if you tell me what to do. The Warden was already studying the trap as she whispered this, which was larger than the average deadfall. Whether or not it was meant to catch a Salsolan unawares remained to be seen, but she very much doubted that. In order for it to be effective, it would be more of a structure than a trap, and the trigger difficult to manage unless it had less to do with weight and more to do with the loner in question remaining nearby.

More likely was the idea that they meant to trap game on their land, an equally distasteful prospect.

She thought if they tossed something on it, it might be triggered, rendering it more or less useless. The pieces would remain, however, and scattering them wouldn’t necessarily prevent future traps.


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Lorraine
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POSTED: Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:13 pm

(+435)

Yikes! I dropped the ball on this one! Sorry about that! @___@ We can probably wrap this up either with your post or with mine depending on if you’re still looking to close old threads? If you want, feel free to PP Kamari with triggering the trap!

Kamari nodded appreciatively to the Warden’s willingness to help. Though the Kaiser could have figured the trap out on her own, it never hurt to have a second pair of eyes and ears around, particularly give the situation. It was dark and foggy, and the trespassing troublemaker could have still been lingering about, waiting for his trap to be sprung. It would be better to have someone that she could consider an ally in the area on the off chance things took a sudden turn for the worse.

She moved around it cautiously and carefully, trying to work out the full extent of the trap so that they wouldn’t be caught unawares by anything. From the looks of it though, the contraption was relatively simple in design, and didn’t appear to have any booby traps to prevent tampering. Its main purpose looked to be a heavy log that was meant to crush and pin whatever unfortunate being or creature happened to be beneath it. The surrounding trail on either side of it had been blocked off or made undesirable to likely funnel prey or Luperci to take the more obvious and easier route that directed them unknowingly into the trap. The chord that Clementine found was part of the trigger mechanism.

With how heavy the suspended log likely was and how taut the triggering chord was, Kamari assessed that it would be too dangerous to attempt to dismantle the trap in the darkness.

“We could trigger it with something that has a bit of weight,” she surmised aloud. “After the dangerous part of the trap is removed, we can call some of the men out to dismantle the larger pieces come first daylight.” It would be too risky to do so otherwise in the dark, and fire wasn’t an option given all of the dead and dying leaf litter that was about. If they destroyed the key parts of the trap, Kamari felt it would be safe to abandon it until the sun rose. Their trespasser would be as hindered as they were in the dark, and would be highly unlikely to erect it again before then.

“See if you can find a good-sized rock we could throw or a heavy branch with some length to it.” A branch or fallen tree that they could lift and maneuver might have been a surer bet, as they could stand further away when the trap was triggered. A boulder or rock might have been harder to find of a size and weight that the pair of them could easily maneuver into position.

Kamari Kaiser

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POSTED: Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:20 am

428

We can end it here if you want, or you can post again if that tickles your fancy, I'm not fussy.

The rank and file of Salsola was a strange thing. Kamari was not so much older than her that Clementine would note such a thing, and yet, what a difference that time in between seemed to help. Life really was — in the end — the accumulation of skills, the acquisition of memories. Next to the Kaiser, she felt woefully inept; it didn’t help that this, whatever it was, was decidedly not her wheelhouse.

The Warden’s life was one of relative transparency. She traded with those pesky Outsiders, collected what morsels and tidbits of information managed to fall into her lap, and generally tried to make her willingness to learn, to contribute, more obvious than it had been before. There was rarely any intent behind any of this, either. The socialization, the wordplay, the games, these were her bread and butter so-to-speak.

That she had risen at all was because she’d found a way to make her skills, no matter how small, relevant.

Intrigued by the Emissary’s obvious logic, Clementine wondered if that was something she had developed over time. Just as likely, she had simply been born this way. Many Salsolan’s inherited interesting gifts; it was an insult to call them this, however, due to the reality that they faced. Like horseback riding, like archery, everything must be expounded upon until perfection was attained.

I’ll look for something, Said the redhead, already on the move. Twisting and turning in the dark, she inwardly cursed the darkness. It was a boon, in truth, for it meant the loner likely would not return to see what, if anything, he had caught. Still, she mentally bemoaned the damper it put on her search.

Her search continued this way for a long moment. There was no shortage of fallen limbs, small rocks, and other dry underbrush, but her quarry eluded her longer than she might’ve otherwise liked.

When she did find it, she felt more triumph than anyone ought’ve when discovering what was, in reality, just a very large tree branch. Still, it was a eureka moment, and when she called Kamari over to investigate it, there was obvious pride in her voice. As pieces of wood went, it was an ugly thing, she thought. A long, dry summer had sapped some of its weight away, but it made up for this in bulk, and its rough bark gave them their pick of handholds.

that’ll do it, I think. She said, already maneuvering into position so she could pick up her end.


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Lorraine
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POSTED: Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:28 am

(+269)

Thanks for the thread! <333

While Clementine moved to find something suitable to safely spring the trap with, Kamari went about ensuring that they hadn’t missed something important one last time before breaking off to see if she could find anything as well. It was irritating, that their pursuit of the trespassing male had to be further postponed. The pack’s safety came first though. No doubt though, if his antics continued, he would be caught soon enough.

The darkness—accompanied by the fog—added a certain level of difficulty to the pair’s search, but, eventually, Warden found a candidate that qualified their needs. Kamari skittered over to Clementine’s side when she was hailed, her cornflower blue eyes alighting on the find. It looked to be a decent-sized tree that had split from its base. Many of its branches had been broken off, and it had long since lost whatever leaves had once grown on it. It was large enough to do the job required of it, but, not so heavy or cumbersome that it would be impossible for the two of them to move.

“Good find.” With Clementine on one end, Kamari moved to other. Working together, they triggered the trap. The heavy logs fell with a force that could be felt in the ground immediately surrounding the trap. Had a creature been beneath it, they would have been crushed; bones broken, organs ruptured.

Together, they went about further dismantling the trap, destroying whatever vital parts remained to ensure that, if their trespassing Outsider decided to come back, the trap would not be resurrected any time before first daylight.

Kamari Kaiser

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