the old switcheroo.

POSTED: Tue May 24, 2011 10:41 pm

The shrill hum of cicadas, interspersed with a chorus of chirping crickets, sang an ode to the day's final hour as Barrett at last came to rest on Inferni's southern border. The first leg of his journey--which took him through Ethereal Eclipse and forced him to circumnavigate the Dahlian border--had been convoluted and tedious, but he made up a lot of lost time once he reached Halifax. Broken and uneven as the pavement was, old Highway 102 still offered a pretty straight shot to the coyotes' territory from the old human city.

And so here he was. The yearling wasn't sure what to expect; on one hand he'd never met Gabriel, but on the other the Aquila and his Grandfather had been close enough that he had no need to worry. Gabriel had even met Barrett's mother once upon a time, but that was years ago and he wouldn't expect his "uncle" to remember Maserati. This reasoning was all well and good, perhaps, though it had one fatal flaw: he never really considered that Gabriel might not be the big Kahuna whom he specifically addressed in his call.

Fortunately, Barrett did have a couple of things going for him. He had legitimate business with two of Inferni's most prominent figures and the cry that sounded was remarkably coyote-like for his genes' heavy wolf influence. In truth, Barrett wasn't much more wolf than Anselm; his father's side afforded him whatever was lost to Maserati's pure bred mother (though some of the difference was made up with a pinch of domestic dog).

The yapping, rapid call was something he'd practised and perfected with the Thirteens for just this occasion. If he didn't pay attention to it his howls would still revert to the low, smooth notes of the wolf, but for now his performance was impeccable. With the summons complete, Barry settled into a submissive hunch and tried to look generally unimportant on the off chance anybody else found him while he waited for "Gabriel."

335

POSTED: Thu May 26, 2011 10:42 pm

+5

As time had a way of doing, it robbed youth from the mortals. Ezekiel had begun to feel this truth weighing on his shoulders despite his age; he was young, barely more than a child himself, and now he ruled Inferni as his family had done for three generations. It was something he had perhaps wished as a child, but his childhood was blotted out by black holes in his memory. The boy did not know how to account for these; he had spent some time, yes, ingesting a number of substances, but this could not solely be at fault.

What medical information he had gathered, from Fatin and Alaine and books, did not speak of an illness. He did not read enough on the mind to know what could effect it, for he had been trained to heal bodies and not souls. It was a small yet aggravating piece of himself he sought to conquer and destroy. For if one thing was certain, it was that Ezekiel was a soldier—and a fine one at that.

When the call came, Ezekiel had in fact been with his father. Well, this was not entirely true—he had been with Enkiel, asking the jackal about their supplies and what might be needed from the city. Though summer was fast approaching, Enkiel was still temperamental about the cold nights and rarely left the area around the Mansion for long. He had mentioned a lack of supplies to the Aquila, who returned with the intention of making himself a list of things to find. Gabriel, as he often did these days, had been sleeping on the Guest House porch. The only time his father ever truly did much was if he was asked; and while he was certainly still revered by Inferni, he had dropped effectively from his previous role.

Ezekiel left his cousin and found his dark-pelted father staring intently towards the source of the call. He recognized faint, familiar tones in the song and knew it came from a wolf and his face darkened at the call. After a half-hearted argument, in which Gabriel did not reveal the true blood that had summoned him, Gabriel agreed to stay behind so that Ezekiel might investigate in his stead. The aging warrior did not desire to travel further than he had to these days, but disliked the idea of leaving a summons unanswered. With a sharp cry, the coyote roused his grazing mount and rode off towards the originator of the call.

What surprised him was that instead of a coyote, a wolf sat on the borders. He was well built and dark, with striking eyes reminiscent of the Lykoi line. Slowing the heavy draft horse to a stop, Ezekiel shifted back and eyed the stranger with pointed interest. There were only faint traces of outward hostility, but this guy hardly seemed like he was looking for a fight. “You the one that called for my father?” Best get to the point, he figured.

POSTED: Sat May 28, 2011 11:25 pm

There's something endearing about imagining Gabe just lounging around on the porch xD Also, rofl, Barrett's never seen/heard of a horse before.

His ears twitched as he waited. Each moment seemed to drag on for an eternity, but then a reply came at last. In reality the coyotes' response had been rather prompt--Barrett was just uncomfortable when it came to visiting claimed territory, piked skulls or not (admittedly these weren't helping). While the Woodstock wolves fully embraced some modern philosophies and technologies, they were very traditional when it came to displays of respect and matters of trespassing. He found himself anxiously puttering about when a cacophony of hooves came thundering towards him. Incidentally, the canines in his birth pack had never dabbled in domestication, either.

Barrett froze, wide-eyed, then skittered back as a six-legged, two-headed beast came to rest nearby. His ears flattened on instinct as he regarded the confounding creature; after another eternity of a second his nose finally managed to process what the hell was going on. The coyote was hitching a lift on his food! Oh, what madness was this? All at once his anxiety and apprehension melted away like frost in the morning sun: his ears pressed forward intently, his eyes gleamed, and his nose wriggled furiously as he studied the beast, then laughed at what was surely the wildest joke in the universe.

The leader didn't seem to delight in this queerness as much as he did, unfortunately, and his business-like address snapped Barrett back into sobriety. Only now did he realise that this hybrid didn't match Anselm's description of Gabriel at all. "Gabriel is your dad?" he repeated stupidly, obviously still hung up on the whole horse spectacle. He took one tentative step towards the gigantic animal before remembering his manners, at which point his ears slicked back again and he offered a short, distracted bow of his head. "I mean, sorry. Yeah. I've got two deliveries, one for him and one for Ms Kaena Lykoi, both from my grandpa Anselm."

Barrett shifted about and looked nearly ready to explode. Finally he could contain himself no longer. "What the hell?" he wondered aloud, gesturing at the colossal herbivore with a flick of his snout.

349

POSTED: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:03 am

+3

The wolf’s display was almost comical, and Ezekiel cracked a smile at it. He was not as hardened as his peers, who might have sneered at such a reaction. While humor was hard to find these days, the scarred man appreciated it where it could be found. Ibsen was a constant source of such a thing, even if the bird had a tendency to step out of line far too often. Still, he was a bird. Not much could be done about that.

Without the need for bridle or saddle, Ezekiel was free to slip from Viggo’s back with ease. He did so more out of his curiosity about the man than to show he was not some mystic being with two heads. The stranger’s familiarity with his family eased Ezekiel’s own tensions, though he remained alert. Patting the horse with one red hand, the coyote smiled in a predatory fashion—his teeth, gleaming, might have invoked aggression elsewhere. “He’s a horse. Pretty useful one too, when he wants to be.” Though not understanding the words, Viggo let out a snort and shoved his owner roughly with his broad head.

While swaying from the blow, the coyote only pushed him back with one hand and motioned for him to be off. The horse did so with a whinny and a whack of the tail to the Aquila’s backside, which was tolerated and ignored. His attentions had focused singularly on this dark wolf, claiming familiar blood. “And yeah, Gabriel is my dad. Kaena’s my grandma,” he added, though this was obvious. “You’re a de le Poer, aren’t you?” Or something like one, given his grandfather. Ezekiel had been a boy when he had first meat his father’s cousin, but remembered his wolfish appearance. It was interesting to him that their blood had changed so dramatically—one would hardly suspect Ezekiel of carrying wolf within him if not for his size.

POSTED: Thu Jun 02, 2011 7:54 am

Barrett was perceptive even if he didn't always seem like it. His speech and mannerisms were casual and unassuming; his aura was typically one of mellow indifference. His attention seemed to jump around a lot (and it did), but that didn't mean he missed everything in between. He just wasn't very reactive--and much to his parents' dismay, he seemed to downplay his own intelligence.

Maybe it was unfortunate he lacked the ambition to realise his full potential, but maybe something could be said for his uncanny ability to appear so inconsequential and non-threatening, too. He wasn't quite as charismatic as his predecessor, but he could always fade into the background to avoid trouble. It afforded him an air of confidence that was neither haughty nor contemptuous.

Thus, despite the tense undercurrents to their meeting and that toothy grin, he found himself relaxed and submissive. On the surface, he was still much more preoccupied with the horse. "Useful?" he pressed, but already he was beginning to understand. Utility aside, the horse was a companion, not unlike his great-grandfather's falcon or his mother's raccoon.

His pale gold eyes followed the equine as he plodded away, and then turned back to the russet and sandy hued hybrid before him. Ezekiel wasn't so much older than Barrett, but something about him seemed much more grave, much more adult. Perhaps those scars, perhaps that cool, battle-ready projection of focus and discipline? The chocolate yearling did not allow his gaze to linger more than a moment, and peered off as a firefly's glow flashed nearby.

"Mom was," he replied, promptly turning his attention back to the Aquila. "I've got my dad's name in there, too, though... Barrett Poer de Aika XIII." It was a mouthful and he usually omitted his surname unless it was relevant, as was the case here. "Barry's fine, though," he added quickly, as if worried such a lengthy moniker might make him sound pretentious.

A pause. "Is Gabriel okay?" It suddenly seemed strange that he--the comrade, brother, and friend of whom Anselm spoke so highly and extensively--had fallen out of the limelight. Not that much time had passed, had it? From what he understood from his mother, Anselm had settled down a lot over the past year, too, but for all intents and purposes he was just as spry and youthful as ever, despite pushing six years of age. Hopefully Gabe had retired to follow more leisurely pursuits, too.

408

POSTED: Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:46 pm

+3

Ambition had not driven Ezekiel to power, but now that he held it the true nature of the coyote had begun to warp his perception of the world. He had worn his plastic smile and false cheer for so long that he had almost forgotten the terrible places of the world. Between the trio of women he now led with, Ezekiel had been reminded of such things. Once, he had told Sage he fought like a raven—this was a lie. Ezekiel was nothing less than an eagle, savage and proud. It bled through his eyes even as he smiled at the unfamiliar relative.

This cousin of sorts was clever in his behavior, and Ezekiel felt he had nothing to worry about from the stranger. The wolf lacked any visible scars and didn’t carry himself as a warrior might. No, if this had been anything more than a delivery Ezekiel was certain that even the most seasoned pretender would not have let his guise slip at the appearance of the horse. Paranoia had grown in his heart since Talitha’s meeting with Dahlia, a meeting that Ezekiel had watched from afar. He had been right to place her and Sage together; they fit into his plans unwittingly and perfectly well.

Ignoring the question about the horse, Ezekiel ran the lengthy name along his tongue silently. “Barrett sounds better,” the blonde said, disliking the way ‘Barry’ sounded. It was common, base. “I’m Ezekiel. Or Zeke, if you would prefer that.” Another plastic smile, another faint joke. Few people called him that, either out of unfamiliarity or an unwillingness to address the Aquila as such.

A shadow passed the young Aquila’s face. His father was, for all purposes, fine. Yet the boy could not wash the memory of his father’s body, broken and bloodied by the stones, and could not forget that weight as he had carried him back to the Mansion. “Yeah,” he said, but his voice sounded strange. “He retired due to an injury. Kaena stepped down due to her age, too.” The coyote added, as if this might be something worth mentioning.

“What did you bring?” He asked suddenly, voice returning to its previous inflection as his attention refocused rather suddenly.

POSTED: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:26 pm

o hai i write book 4 u.

“Oh,” he said flatly, looking rather deflated and strange when Ezekiel—Zeke—explained the circumstances behind Gabriel and Kaena's retirement. Still a slave to youth's illusion of invincibility and immortality, Barrett found such blatant reminders of life's impermanence awkward and uncomfortable. Death was something inevitable, of course—he experienced it several times a week whenever his stomach demanded sustenance—but when it came to their kind, he preferred to think of it as something very distant and far away. Anselm's description of the Lykoi matriarch painted a picture of a very time-worn individual, so perhaps he couldn't be too surprised... but Gabriel? It was hard to imagine someone the same age as his rambunctious grandfather falling past their prime.

The mocha yearling might have cared to hear more—even if Inferni's affairs didn't concern him directly, Anselm would want to hear about it when he wrote home—but his train of thought was easily derailed by his tawny cousin's query. “Oh yeah,” he muttered, snapping out of his reverie immediately. He would ask if Zeke cared to impart any final tidings on his elders' behalves later after business was wrapped up. The Aquila had been patient and cordial in granting him audience thus far and the wolf didn't want to wear out his welcome; he imagined the blond hybrid had enough on his agenda and unexpected diversions like these could become a nuisance fast.

Barrett shuffled closer to the shifted Luperci, turning his back so Ezekiel could have access to the contents of his bag. “Two bundles, one a lot heavier than the other, should be up top unless they've shifted around a lot,” he explained. There was no way Zeke wouldn't be able to differentiate the neat, formal looking packages bound with hemp twine from his other useless junk. Once removed, the pack would be practically empty and this was hardly an unwelcome thing. The weight caused it to rub against his fur in an obnoxious fashion, exacerbated by its poor fit in his quadruped form—rather than staying seated on his back as intended, it slouched off to one side. Still, the wolf wouldn't be caught dead showing up shifted on claimed territory.

“I think Kaena's is just a note, some photographs, and a pendant,” he explained, absently peering around while the hybrid knelt beside him to retrieve the items. The flutter of a dark feather caught his attention and his gaze turned upward to Ezekiel's quiver. “Huh!” he exclaimed, “it's kinda like that, actually,” he added, gesturing with his nose at the eight-pointed trinket. Not even Anselm understood the true significance of the chaos star—only that it was a recurring familial motif, as a number of Kaena's progeny had it marked on their flesh—and Barrett had no idea where he could have found a pewter necklace in its likeness.

The photographs, yellow and faded despite being taken only recently, were from an old Polaroid instant camera Maserati had scrounged up from some similarly mysterious place. They were the only two pictures the contraption took before crapping out completely. Their content was personal—a depiction of Anselm's grandchildren, he and Alacrity off to the side with the proud parents. Fuzzy as the pictures were, it was possible to see that one of the puppies had Anselm's eyes—the de le Poer eyes. Kaena would be able to refer back to an earlier conversation between her and Anselm to understand their significance; even if he hadn't been there for his children, he was there with his grandchildren, making amends.

Gabriel's gifts were less sentimental, but still thoughtful. A canister of lighter fluid and some flint comprised most of the weight, but a thick novel entitled Firestarter added to the bulk. These were a throwback to a memorable night the cousins shared after Faolin's reappearance. Barrett didn't “get” their implications any more than those behind Kaena's gifts, and he addressed them in the same lacklustre way. “There's a book and some flint for Gabriel.. another letter, and you can probably smell the fuel.” Even sealed away in the tin, he could smell it.

680

POSTED: Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:55 pm

I suck :(

The odd wolf (whatever hybrid lived in his blood was thin) was quick to present the bag, which Ezekiel moved to with interest. Barrett’s excited explanation drew his attention to the quiver only for a moment. The aforementioned shape was one of the Lykoi family—Ezekiel did not bear the mark as his sister and father, but had a circular bead-work version of the star. He was unsurprised that someone who knew of the family would consider finding that star, but found it a strong gesture none the less.

Both packages were wrapped up, but he took them gingerly. Certainly, Gabriel’s was telling. Ezekiel knew little of his father’s pyromania but assumed that this was some sort of private joke between the pair. The Aquila snorted at the thought, rising back to his full height. “I’ll make sure they get them. Neither are really up for travel, but if they want to send anything I guess I’ll come find you. Are you staying anywhere in particular?” He didn’t smell like a pack, which would make finding him in the future more difficult.

POSTED: Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:27 pm

Pffft! <3! I think we're good here anyway. :D Feel free to archive this, I suppose :o

“Okay,” he voiced simply, being sure to tack a mild-mannered “Thank you,” onto the end. As for his whereabouts? “I spend most of my time back and forth between Crimson Dreams and southeastern Halifax,” he replied. While this wasn't entirely true (yet), it was what he anticipated. Tradition and instinct bade him to keep a presence around the pack, but the city property was in dire need of maintenance and he was eager to get his name out on the market, too. He'd probably head down to Halifax soon, actually—now, even.

“Well, hey, I'll let you go, Zeke,” he drawled with a few amicable swings of his tail. If the shiftless adolescent could have this much on his plate, undoubtedly the leader had even more. “Thanks again, 'n keep in touch either way, y'know?” While the mottled canine had no intention of returning to Inferni's picketed borders, he'd welcome any run-ins with this wheat-coloured hybrid on mutual territory. With that, he cast one final bemused glance in the direction of the grazing horse, bowed his head to the older male, and turned to be off.

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