I'm not about to give thanks or apologize.

POSTED: Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:28 am

     A cold wind rose at his back and tousled his long bangs. Ezekiel breathed out a cloud of steam as he walked, pale feet following that invisible trail that he knew by heart. It had been two years since he had left, but his memory was made up of maps and survival instincts that knew the way home. He walked on two legs now, as he had for most of this journey. His hands had been needed—the coyote hunted best with the bow on his back, and it had served him well. Despite the journey, his weight had only dropped slightly. Winter fur hid this fact. He had grown into his body, tall and broad-shouldered despite his coyote blood.
     He did not bear new scars. Those across his left eye were enough for him to learn to be wise. The demon crow-wolf had taught the boy an important lesson. While there had been many fights none had left scars. A now-dead woman had taught him to heal, and Ezekiel remembered her lessons well. Her brother had told the boy (who was now a man) the news when they had last crossed paths. Months had passed since then. A war had come and gone in that time.
     Age showed itself in his eyes if not in his body, for they had hardened some. He was not yet corrupted, as he had made a promise to the woad-painted warrior years ago. For all that had happened, he had not succumbed to darkness. His world was not rose-tinted anymore, and he had seen horrors, but he had kept his faith and kept his word. That was all he was capable of doing when such monstrosities had threatened to destroy him.
     He did not need to wear his scars to feel them.
     Silent, he approached from the west. A wolf skull, bleached by sun and time, greeted him. The prince found the barbaric practice held meaning now, and understood why his father did such things. He had seen its power in the desert. He had seen a great deal of terrible things in the desert. A shadow crossed over him and he looked to the sky, a gray-white thing that spoke of snow, and smiled as the raven descended. Marlowe had once been a great confidant, and as he landed on Ezekiel’s shoulder they spoke in low-speech and waited together.

POSTED: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:03 am

3+

Her trophy for the borders had been completed, the subtle yellow of the bone covered in depictions of the Shattered Coast and Lykoi imagery. A beast the shape and colour of Gabriel de le Poer wrapped around the jaw, snarling a warning that echoed in the painted skull wall behind him. The Chaos star sat in the center of the forehead. She was proud of the work, even if the one gull above the ocean on the back of the cranium was ruined. Silently, she carried it with her, her path leading her to Route 32, to place the skull where it would be most useful. The Forest of Nod kept others at bay to the east, and there was no sense to put the skulls there.

A strange scent passed on the breeze as she neared the edge of her kingdom, familiar from her past like other things. Its presence diverted her path, curiosity egging her to greet whoever was near. She rationalized her desire to see who came with the fact that it was a duty to Inferni, to greet and boost the ranks of their home, but as she grew near and a shape came into view, she faltered.

It was indeed a face from the past, and a face she hadn't seen for several years. He was waiting with the raven, Marlowe, speaking amongst each other. He had a smile on his face.

Talitha pushed herself to move closer. She had hoped he would come back, but he hadn't the last time and she was sure he wouldn't again. She had was wrong, as the appearance of her brother proved. Her grip at the edge of the skull tightened to the point of fracturing the bone, a jagged line bisecting the visage of her wonderful father, as she forced herself forward. Her hands shook.

"Ezekiel." It was all she could muster, gazing at him with crimson eyes filled with melancholy. He was so different, grown into the body of a man rather than the boy he had once been, but she knew she was different too. Silent, she worried that he wouldn't recognize her, wouldn't know who she was. Would she be able to tell him, if that were the case? Or would she give one of her false names, like she did to the outsiders? He wasn't an outsider, but she had fled and he had lost her and it had been so long. Though she didn't leave the edge of the Inferni lands, she approached as close as she could. "You're back."

POSTED: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:38 am

     The bird told Ezekiel many things. In his own language, Marlowe spoke eloquently. He told the prince of the wars that had come and gone, of his father’s enemy and defeat, of family that he did not know. It was reassuring to hear that things had not changed that much at all. Ezekiel felt like he was in many ways a stranger now, but he had been like that for a long time. Most of his life had been spent on the road, traveling as his grandfather’s father once had along abandoned highways. His feet had taken on a dull, no-color sort of color that came from asphalt and sand. Even the tips of his hair had been bleached white by an unforgiving sun.

A figure moved in the corner of his vision and Ezekiel turned to it. He inhaled sharply. There, after two years of vain searching, was his prize. She was not the girl he remembered. There was a woman there with his sister’s eyes, with a darker pelt then the sister he remembered, but she smelled like Talitha and those eyes were unmistakable. Marlowe sensed the tension in the boy’s shoulder and squeezed him gently, as if reminding him to breathe. Ezekiel’s own golden eyes focused on her face.

They were like parts pulled from family they did not entirely know. She had russet hues like their mother, dark points like their father, while he stole what light had come from Gabriel’s father and made it pure once more. He had stolen his father’s eyes as well, though they were not half so harsh. A broad smile broke across his face, for he felt nothing but elation at seeing his sister once more. Without waiting for an invitation, he crossed (sending Marlowe aloft) and embraced her, taking care not to crush her prize. He was too burdened for much else, with the bow and quiver strung across his chest and the military-style bag’s strap crossing these things. “So are you. I guess I wasn’t as far off from finding you as I thought.” Humor, no sign of anything but that joy. How much had he really lost looking for her? He showed no sign of such a thing.

POSTED: Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:17 pm

3+ Bleck. Bad post. ;~;

She couldn't move farther, her ruby eyes simply flitting over his features in an attempt to seek out the child in him. There seemed no traces. All left was a beautiful future, her golden brother returning to the fold, back to the kingdom of the Lykoi. The prince de le Poer to match her, to serve beneath the God. Her God, even if Gabriel wasn't his. She had been waiting for him to come back to her, and there he was. All but a stranger to the Inferni lands.

Emotion bubbled up in her heart, unmoving as he approached and embraced her. Her body was tense, poised for defense in case Ezekiel was not so kind as their father. She knew she had run and that he had come after her, and she knew she should have waited for him. But she didn't. And he had lost her. It was a brief moment before she allowed the skull to drop into the snow, her hands finding his back as she took part in returning his gesture of affection. It was not the same body she remembered, this new one laden with muscles that hadn't been there before.

Stunned, she simply gazed out over the land that spread out behind him, listening to his voice. He was happy? She had caused yet more distress and he was happy? "I'm sorry." The apology was weak, her voice bordering on a sob, as she clung to him. Her mind turned to their youth; the war had been difficult, but he had persevered to become what he was at that moment. A beautiful memory, and a bright future. A dawn to the sunset world she had stagnated inside of.

Though she was unwilling to break their moment alone, she glanced over her shoulder, searching for signs of the Aquila who was not there. He would need to be called, as she wanted to see her brother set properly within the ranks of their home once more. In a quick moment of thought, she decided to leave it to Ezekiel, letting him set the pace of the reunion while she watched, counting the seconds in her head.

POSTED: Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:53 pm

     He was still a golden boy, still smiling and still laughing at the world as if it was not such a wicked place. The scars on his face had half-healed, leaving only two deep indications that he had ever known pain. One would not suspect there had ever been suffering in his life outside of this. One would never suspect the terrible things he had seen and suffered. Ezekiel was in this way perhaps more dangerous than his father.

She felt thin, but the scent of Inferni was not fully laden in her pelt yet. He imagined something sharp and sweet but did not identify it for the short time he lingered that close to her. Instead he shifted his weight back and pulled at the string of the bow across his chest—the other two were not uncomfortable, having been worn for years now. Ezekiel continued to smile, though he had release the girl close to tears and knew they would come if he so allowed them to. “No sense in apologizing for things we can’t control,” he offered in that now deeper voice, though it still floated much higher than their gruff father.

Yet as Talitha made no move to summon Gabriel, the blonde’s eyes hardened for only a moment. Had something happened between them? It was gone as suddenly as it had come, and Ezekiel let out a coyote-like call. After a long pause, a wolfish one answered. The young man chuckled. “Sounds like he’s too far to run all the way up here. Do you want me to wait for you before I go find him?”

POSTED: Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:16 pm

Her mind twisted along paths unopened since her childhood, unwilling to let him go until he released her to pull at the string of something that hung on his back. Her crimson eyes filtered over his features like sunlight through a window, hands reaching up to gently touch where the scars marred his face. Two deep indentations, leaving the only trace that he had suffered before. All else was perfect, clean and golden as he always had been. It brought a smile to her lips, washing away the tears that had wanted to come.

He reassured her that there was no reason to apologize, they couldn't control the situation. Guilt didn't fade with his words, but it did get squashed to the bottom of her chest by the deeper voice he spoke with, another indication of his growth. Silently, she marked how proud she was, but she said nothing to alert him to it.

It was Ezekiel who called for their father, eyes darkening for the briefest moment. She wondered if she had made a mistake in not doing it herself; she simply did not want to ruin the moment they had until he was ready. The reply was given after a long moment of silence, a call bearing all the possibilities of a wolf. She scoffed at her sibling's words -- "He's not that old yet." -- before hesitating in her decision. Did she wanted to be present for the reunion of her father and brother? Her pause was longer than it should have been, finally agreeing with a nod. "Yes. Please."

POSTED: Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:10 am

     He carried the tools and trappings of men. This was what had kept him alive the first time he had been alone, after he had left Tristan, after he had found Siobhan. It was not as if he was incapable of surviving without them, but hunting from a distance saved valuable energy. Ezekiel had been an angry boy, filled with hurt after his first terrible betrayal. So he had found comfort in battle, found that he felt truly alive when he rushed into a warzone. There had only been one for him, but he still felt that desire within him and still knew he had always been destined to be a soldier.

Yet he looked almost unscathed by such things, and he did not speak of them openly. He looked normal, as far as that word could stretch, and looked as if he might have dodged a bullet with the darkness that followed his family. Perhaps he had. After all, he had been raised by warriors outside of his father’s command—by Tristan, whom he considered his uncle, who had fought with his teeth and the bow; by Cwmfen, whom had brought him knowledge of the warrior’s way and cast upon him his first true defeat through her father—and did not know Inferni’s shadows and darkness the way his sister did.

The blonde looked puzzled by her comment and smiled impishly. “We’re getting old,” he pointed out, noting the now visible curves of her hips and breasts. Her hips, especially, spoke of age. If he had been a student of Fatin’s longer, he might have recognized the signs of passing motherhood. “Take care of that,” the coyote nodded to the skull in her hand. “I’ll wait.”

POSTED: Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:43 am

3+

"We're getting old,", he said, almost as a reminder to her that years had gone by. A trilling laugh escaped her at the words. Yes, they were certainly getting old. Her crimson eyes focused on him once again, a vague smile passing over her muzzle. "We are, aren't we. And have you brought me nieces and nephews?" she asked, purely in jest. She was attempting to match his cheer, but it was difficult. Their paths had more than likely been significantly different; she was quite positive that he could not have gone through the same troubles as she.

She had all but forgotten the skull that had been brought with her, until Ezekiel gave a nod toward it. Confusion settled in, her eyes turning toward it with only subtle understanding of what it was and why it was there. Take care of that. Oh yes, it had been brought for decoration of the borders. She had almost forgotten its purpose, why she had been so proud to have it and why she had sought it out.

Fluid steps carried her from her brother's side to the wall of skulls that littered the border, warning all trespassers of who resided within that portion of the wastes. Fear us, obey us, and stay far away. Stories played out on each surface, other depictions of artwork pasted carefully on many others. Hands trembling for only a brief moment, she held the wolf's skull out, setting it down atop a small group of others, where it could be seen and serve its purpose. The Lykoi star faced outward, as if to protect the lands from outsiders.

Her smile returned, growing in strength, as she turned back to face Ezekiel. She had accomplished her purpose for the day, and gathered the presence of her brother in the process, leaving her spirits lifted far more than they had been in days before. Each step made them lift ever more, returning to his side and reaching out to take his hand in hers. "It's so nice to have you home, Zekie," she murmured, voice filled with elation.

POSTED: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:11 pm

     She spoke of children and the coyote smiled ruefully, but said nothing. There was no place in Ezekiel’s path for children or a woman. His purpose had been singular, approached with the same headstrong drive that he had carried since birth. Had he stopped to indulge, he would have lost his course. Some things, though, were unavoidable—the war was unavoidable—but he had welcomed that and loved it in a way that he would never love a woman. Too many unsaid things passed between warriors, things that could not be understood by those who did not speak the tongue.

Ezekiel watched her move, knowing he was studying her as he might any other stranger. Talitha’s walk was not the one he recalled. Trepidation lingered in her steps, as if she might stumble and fall into some unseen abyss. The boy did not need to guess why such unspoken fears haunted his sister. For the briefest moment, while her back was turned, his eyes turned remarkably terrible like their father’s. Hatred still lingered within the boy, though deep in the same recesses where it remained hidden and unseen to the world.

She rose and he was all smiles, all sunshine and summer days, and she took his hand as a child might. The blonde grasped her own firmly, unwilling to let her spirits fall. “I’m glad you’re back too,” he replied, walking with ease in familiar land, silent despite the things he wore—each were strapped down carefully so that he barely made any noise. “What’s happened since I was gone?”

POSTED: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:39 pm

3+

Her words of jest went unacknowledged save the rueful smile on the mouth of the brother she loved so dearly. Though it was unspoken, she felt he was similar to her; mates and young were not needed in their lives, as their paths lead them through a world where such things would simply make for problems. In her heart, she felt families were a good cause to destroy people, when enemies were able to create pain simply through interaction with beloved ones. But the words brought back vague memories that caused her to wonder if she was correct. The loss suffered in early October had hit her with numbing sorrow that still lingered behind her already present depression.

She knew she was right. Ezekiel and Gabriel were the only ones whom she truly felt for, her father and brother becoming all that could hurt her as the days rolled on. Another man would be unnecessary; she already had two, though she shared nothing in the way of pleasure with either. In silence, she wondered if Ezekiel felt the same.

Returning to his side, she reached for him, and he took her hand in his own firmly. Wings fluttered in her heart, relieved that he was still real and not simply a poor hallucination. "I'm glad you're back too." He lead her across their coymutt kingdom, movements almost entirely silent as their steps carried them forward. He asked of recent happenings, and words seemed lost on the woman as she wondered what to reveal and what to hide from her brother.

"Nothing that holds much significance. Father still leads us and I still run away like a frightened child." Her words came strong, voice raising past the sultry murmur she had used for months before. With Ezekiel, she felt stronger, able to face fears that lingered in the back of her mind. "Had you come back sooner, you might have been an uncle, but it seems God doesn't feel it's time for such a thing," she added, returning to a whisper. Though it had become a far easier subject, it was still strange to say. Strange to think of what could have been her children. It returned the guilt to her chest, tightening against her lungs.

Her eyes looked out over the wastes that Inferni lay atop of, darting over features she found comforting. The trees, the earth, drawing her back to the safety that surrounded her, made better by the presence of the golden de le Poer.

POSTED: Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:46 pm

     The twins (for they were, in truth) were like the sun and the moon. Two parts of the true Aquarius, extrovert and introvert, but they were as similar to one another as siblings could be. Despite their different appearances, one had only see the way they behaved around one another to know that they fit together with grace and ease. Apart they had become like the sun and the moon, forever chasing each other across the sky, and now together they would become something new.
     Ezekiel’s smile shrunk only slightly as she spoke of her terrors, but he squeezed her palm once to reassure her of his own presence. No one would be capable of hurting his dear sister with him here. Gabriel might have recognized the political agenda of a war, but Ezekiel valued his sister far more—he would have dragged her out of that dark place before their now-dead uncle had struck. If only, if only…
     It was her next words that made his smile fade, eyes turning somber as he realized the loss. She had gone on and grown up before he had come back, and it had cost her. The coyote looked ahead, unwilling to show her the shade of his eyes. “There will be water if God wills it,” he murmured, quoting phrases that stuck in his memory. Ezekiel believed in higher things, and lower, and he knew that everything happened for a reason. If she lost her children, there was most certainly a reason. “If you want them, I’m sure you’ll have them someday.”

POSTED: Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:21 pm

3+

It seemed that the day was brighter as the de le Poer princess basked in the presence of the golden half to her own nocturnal resemblance. Apart, they were two people, but she knew that their interaction between each other colored who they really were. Like any girl, her first love was her father, but Ezekiel gave a devotion that she couldn't find in the beast known as Gabriel. Though she hadn't desired it, Gabriel hadn't followed her when she left. He always remained behind. But Ezekiel broke past his allegiance to their home and took up an allegiance to his sister, making his own mark in the closed heart of the Lykoi woman.

His smile began to fade as she spoke and her heart ached to lower his spirits as she had, but he had desired to know new news. She felt safe in treating him as a confidant, telling him secrets she hadn't expressed to anyone else. The loss of another generation in the de le Poer line left its mark on her mind and on her spirits, but like Cotl, Ezekiel offered comfort. He reassured her that there would be a time for it, were she to truly want them.

A weak laugh filtered from her chest at the thought. 'Mother' was not something she really saw in the future ahead, but there was nothing to say it was impossible. "I'm sure I don't want them as much as I should. It's more a duty to our family than a personal wish. I think I would be quite a horrible mother," she offered, trying to smile through the depressing words. She was too much like Gabriel, with her own battles to fight and ground to stand. It wasn't prime land to raise children.

In her attempt to raise the spirits of her brother once again, she released his hand and took a few steps head of him, turning to walk backwards. "Tell me what you've been doing, dear prince. I've been wondering for so long. Any adventures?" Excitement once again clung to her words, crimson eyes alight as sentences formed. She was sure he was far more interesting than the goings on of Inferni.

POSTED: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:41 am

     A boy’s first love is his mother. Ezekiel did not subscribe to this fact. His mother had left him, and the woman he knew as his godmother had duties beyond his world. So his love had all been given to the first woman in his life, his twin, his sister, and he had loved her as much as he could any living thing. The blonde boy smiled at her laugh, for it reassured him she would not be taken from him by another man yet. Dimly he thought of Siobhan, but he dismissed the anger. The one who mattered was here, before him.
     For one instance he thought of the journey he had made and considered telling her everything. Yet the scars over his eye ached, causing him to wink at her and smile as if nothing was wrong. One could not deny that the boy was a great pretender. “Oh, a few,” he admitted, brushing his hair away from his face with one hand. “I spent some time a little further north, way west of here. Picked up a little bit of their language. Spent some time with Uncle Tristan. Nothing all that exciting.” He would not burden her with the thought of war. That would be too much for her.

POSTED: Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:12 pm

Her eyes turned toward the north, surveying the peaks of the mountains that hid the gruesome remains of their birth home. The man before her talked of the north, far west of where they stood. He had gone on adventures, while she had stagnated in the lands around their home. "Over the mountains?" Her question was innocent, without thought that he might have avoided those lands. She could still smell the smoke and char when the northern winds blew; it was probably enough to keep any smart creature away.

She caught the wink and smile and give back one of her own, reaching for him once again. It was surreal, her mind unable to process that her brother was there with her once again after being gone for such a long time, listening to him speak in the familiar but strange new voice of a man. "Well, I hope you didn't get used to being away." Her features softened, smile falling from excitement to bliss, and her eyes flooded with a gaze built of adoration and love. "I don't plan to let you leave me again," she admitted, finishing the words that had come prior.

It wasn't really her choice if he decided to go again, and she knew she hadn't been the best example. Still, as the thought that Ezekiel might leave once more entered her mind, a sinking feeling entered her stomach. She certainly couldn't let him go. The de le Poer pair were part of Inferni, born to the land over the mountains and raised by parents who had claimed the ground where they stood at the moment. Any other home wasn't worth their presence.

POSTED: Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:34 pm

     She confused the directions, which made the boy smile fondly. There was nothing in the east for anyone—Ezekiel remembered the nightmare memory of being carried through fire and smoke, crying and coughing as the sooty stuff assaulted his senses. Inferni was lucky. Without Gabriel’s knowledge of the pass (and his knowledge of the fire) they would have most certainly been stranded as the wolves were, trying to cross a mountain that they had no business climbing. “There’s a few mountains that way,” he explained, if only to humor her.

“Good. If you keep your butt here then I won’t need to go roam the wilds to find you.” A jest, but one that spoke a great deal about what he had done for her. Talitha and Talitha alone would command such devotion—it was not as warm, not as open as her’s for him, but he had chased her ghost across the Canadian wilderness. “Besides, as fun as it is, I’m horrible at speaking their language.” Ezekiel in truth had not gone half so far as their father once journeyed; he had spent the past two years in and around Quebec; though given the size of the place, this was not hard to do. This also explained his slight accent, as he had picked it up there.

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