a little bit comes bleeding through

POSTED: Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:22 pm

He was alone.

This was not unnatural, because very rarely did he interact with anyone. Even if he did, they were never permanent, not in any sense of the word. Sometimes others passed through, like fragments of a dream, impressions on his mind. But their faces, their names, their stories -- they never stayed. They were ghosts, that was all. All he really had was himself.

Worse for wear, and not any better-off for it; the winter had not been kind to him. His once handsome coat, full and healthy, seemed to dull in the sunlight where it had glowed with a sheen some months prior. His face was still full, maybe traces of hunger at his cheeks, but it was his frame that truly suffered. Broad shoulders slouched, and respectable muscles had long since withered away. He was just strong enough to provide for himself, if he was lucky.

Many times it did not pan out that way, however. Sometimes in the midst of a hunt he would forget where he was -- who he was, on scarcer, scarier occasions. But those brief moments of panic, ones he knew so well and yet didn't, would subside. Just as long as he could remember her, he could find the strength to regain himself.

It had almost been two years since he lost her. But time wasn't much of a concept anymore to the Amaranthe.

Muted yellow eyes stared into the water, the gently bubbling stream that he had found himself near, gawking vacantly into its shimmering surface. He hadn't a clue how long he had been sitting there. Minutes, maybe. An hour. He'd learned to pick up on the passage of the day, even if they were broad strokes; the sun was still up, so it hadn't been much longer than... the last he could remember.

Mental gymnastics such as these were pointless, and yet his mind ceaselessly fretted over them all the same. He growled at the pale shadow of himself that stared back.

• • •

AW for one! come be Solo's frennnn even if he will forget you tomorrow

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POSTED: Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:02 am

[--WC] I couldn't resist snagging this! :)

Gone were the days of freedom. Now that La Estrella Roja was nearing its completion, the Broker found himself engaged at every waking moment. At times he felt as though he were battling the heads of a hydra; for every task he crossed off, five more seemed to spring up. Yet for all his weariness, he had never been more proud or hopeful for what they had accomplished together.

Almost together. His heart still stung with loss, even as Mateo and his orphan child had quickly filled the void Indis left behind. Her departure had been a reminder of the truly transient nature of their world. Whatever he believed in luck or trust or love, it was a fact of life that people would come and go.

Feeling like a thief in his own home for stealing a moment away, Calrian emerged from the wood with his catch. He was happy to find that his skills with the bow hadn't declined too far with disuse. His leg didn't complain as much either, although with everything that happened in the intervening month, the trouble he'd endured in the earthquake was mostly a distant memory.

He settled by the stream and sighed gratefully at the unsullied water. Lately a foul stench pervaded the rivers and rotted fish clogged the shores, making them an unpleasant place to conduct business. Here, at least, he could relax and enjoy his meal in peace. Sort of.

His ears jumped at the telltale rustle of company. It didn't sound like anyone was approaching, but the sounds were sporadic enough to pique Calrian's interest—granted, this did not say much. He was a naturally inquisitive creature—more curiosity than good sense! as they said. Surging to his feet again with the stoat still dangling in his hands, he padded around the bend.

"Hello!" He called to the stranger before he could get a good look. That was his way, for better or for worse. At least he came prepared with a meal to toss up if things got dangerous. Luckily, it seldom did.

Seeing that the man was entranced by the water, or perhaps his own reflection, Calrian was careful in his approach. "What is it? Are even the minnows dying?"
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POSTED: Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:25 pm

He wondered idly if his hearing was fading from him, too, just as his right eye would sometimes glaze over with a darkness he could never rush, never push away. More likely, though, he was simply lost in his own thoughts. It was quite easy for him to get wound up in them and never recall it.

Finally his ears pricked up, catching the sound of a greeting, before Solomon slowly looked over his shoulder to see this newcomer; and yes, it was indeed a real-life person, even if he had to give the stranger a good stare before coming to this conclusion. "Hey," he returned lamely, as best as he could manage.

In a weird way, he thought they favored. A dead animal hung limp in the man's hands, one that he eyed with jealousy for a split second before he attempted something of a laugh.

"Not sure," the drifter answered, entirely candid, because he hadn't even spared a thought for anything other than his reflection when he glanced again to the stream. "I guess I haven't seen any. Are they dying everywhere else?"

He knew nothing of it, if so. Or maybe he had. Realizing he left the first question unanswered, he thought to tack on an explanation: "Just looking, thinking." It seemed sound enough.

A pale hand snaked around to the back of his neck, scratching absentmindedly. He couldn't quite reach the man's eyes. "Do you live around here?"

• • •

COUSIN ! thanks for joining :DD

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POSTED: Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:51 pm

The stranger was an odd one, but not off-putting. Calrian would take his type over many things, including the distant call of work. Shuffling nearer, the Broker was careful to test the spots ahead of him on the squishy bank before putting his full weight forward. There were always little tells to a person's upbringing, and Calrian did not hide this too much from others.

When he finally stood beside him, he crouched. "Seems that way. This one doesn't seem too bad yet, but I'll bet it's coming." His lips drew taut at the thought; things like omens were about as real to him as ghosts, which was to say not at all, but this tide seemed to be more than that. He wondered if the northern riverlands were suffering just as much, or if it was simply the area near the schoolhouse.

Salem wouldn't like any of this, he was sure.

"Hm, looking and thinking. Like what you see there, friend?" He laughed warmly and gave a few wags of his tail to show he meant nothing mean by it. They were all allowed their moments of vanity, and Calrian especially had many of his own. He even began to examine his own reflection, tucking back a few hairs that'd fallen out of place, when the stranger spoke again. Calrian didn't consider the question very invasive, although the stranger's shy behavior might make him think twice about his answer.

Deciding that there was no harm at all, Calrian nodded. "I do. Not too far from here at all. What about you? Passing through?" His nose gave an obvious wiggle, and for a moment he caught the strangest hint of something familiar. It was too familiar.

Calrian blinked. "Do...do I know you?" He leaned closer, nose twitching with the spastic energy of a pebble in an earthquake. "Have you met my brother, Malik, by chance?"
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POSTED: Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:32 am

'I bet it's coming.'

He was talking about the fish, Solomon knew, but it felt much more ominous than the stranger probably meant for it to. Or maybe it was intentional. Fish dying was not a good sign; yet the water here, at least, seemed as pure as it ought to have been. Should he exert more caution? Was it an invisible poison?

Or maybe it was just a part of nature, and he was reading too deeply into it. Whatever the case, he returned the man's musings with a small grunt of acknowledgement, but there was nothing else he could add. Nothing beyond mindless prattling, anyway.

He managed a laugh at the little joke, and his shoulders rolled in a shrug. "I guess I have to," he answered, self-deprecating, but he said it in a way so that it wouldn't drag down the mood too terribly. Not that it was a lie, but Solomon didn't dwell on it.

Another little nod, and he looked again to the stranger -- to find his nose twitching and sniffing. "Mmhm," he answered simply, trying not to make his staring obvious, but the wolfdog froze up when he spoke again.

He hated being faced with this. Despised it. The not-knowing, the uncertainty, the lack of resolution his mind could provide. The fact this stranger thought he knew Solomon was a little disconcerting; usually it went the other way around. But they approached one another as if they didn't know one another -- they couldn't have known each other then, right?

"I'm not sure," he said quietly, uncomfortably; "My memory, it's... shot." With an embarrassed sigh, he pointed to the back of his head, where he could still feel the ghost of that injury lingering. A sign of weakness, in his eyes, and in any other circumstance, he would be quite reluctant to admit it.

"I have a hard time keeping things straight. Maybe we've met before. Or maybe I've met... Malik."

But the name didn't feel familiar, not even when he said it with his own tongue.

"I'm Solomon," he added, as if it would explain anything, but he didn't have much faith in it.

• • •


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POSTED: Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:54 pm

[--wc] Sorry for the short! Runnin on fumes haha

There was a good, kind honesty about the man, even if he was a little odd by Calrian's standards. He noticed these things and accepted them; after all, everyone had their moments and their quirks, and Calrian was no exception.

Calrian followed Solomon's gesture to his head and winced. "Oof. Sorry about that, friend." That was a warning sign, if there ever was one. The Broker had to wonder how much of said injury was due to unsavory business or bad luck, or both.

A wiser person might have begun to exercise caution, but Calrian figured that whatever happened, the stranger didn't seem aggressive now. Quite the opposite, actually.

"Ah, could be you met him without knowing. He can be shy." It was a strange thought, but stranger things were known to happen. Calrian rolled his shoulders in a shrug, in effect abandoning pursuit of that topic. Memory seemed to be a touchy subject for him, and now that he understood there were some unpleasant things tied up in it, Calrian wanted to move on.

As he sat back onto the bank, he began to fiddle with the dead stoat in his hands. The fur would be good, but he was also beginning to feel peckish. He debated skinning it properly or simply sharing the thing with his new friend.

"Solomon! That's a good, strong name." He nearly mentioned that he had an older cousin of the same calling, and then thought better of it. He didn't want to plague the fellow more than he was already. "Pleasure to meet you. I'm Calrian."

"Want to share?" He held up the stoat and gave it a tempting wiggle. "Tell me about your travels. Anything interesting?"
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Sticks and Stones