To live without hope is to cease to live

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:46 am

Thread Information
Date: August 20
Setting: Drifter Bay, just east of Salsoa
Time: Early evening.
Character Form: Optime

Word Count :: 400+ Yay! First Liliya post! ... *headdesk* Lets try this again...

For days nothing but churning blue tide stretched out before her, behind her, all around her, and followed her even after disembarking. Her foot-paws were on dry land but even now, days after landing in Nova Scotia, it felt like the solid land dipped and swayed beneath her. When she looked to the sky she could imagine the white clouds becoming sea foam, and when she closed her eyelids it was like she was back on the ocean. At least the salt was finally starting to clear from her nose and she was able to smell again. Sadly, the lasting effects of oceanic travel were the least of her concerns.

The young Russo woman crouched beside a modest campfire in the dying light, feeding half-dry sticks to the flames and then holding her hands out as if to warm them. But her fingers were not cold on this balmy summer night; not because of temperature anyway. In the past, fire had always comforted her – be it from the stove or the hearth or the camp – it always meant there was family around, and wherever family was was home. She searched for that old comfort now, but no matter how much she nervously fed the fire, or how close she crept, she could not feel that solace. Why? Because her mother was missing.

Verusha and her daughter, Liliya, had sailed the coastline of the peninsula – at Liliya's insistance – navigating their modest boat up the bay to land in territory only vaguely known by the younger Luperci. It had come as a shock to Liliya when she realized they had landed just east of what was now pack territory; a pack that had not resided here when she fled 'Souls so many seasons ago. They knew the land was claimed the moment they came to land and scented the clear territory markers. To play it safe, the women hiked away from the pack before setting up camp – the plan was to rest a couple days, and then set out in search of Liliya's brothers.

A handful of nights had passed and it was time to set out, but on the eve two days ago, Verusha disappeared. The last Liliya had seen of her mother she was tending to chores, and had gone off in search of more firewood and never returned. Liliya hadn't heard or sensed a thing... Verusha just vanished.

She put her hands to her mouth and huffed on her fingers, whispering into her palm. Ahueyet! She lashed out, grabbing her hiking pack and hurriedly stuffing her provisions back into it. “Where is that woman? Stupid woman...” She muttered to herself, her anger a mask; the only way to avoid admitting to herself that she was terrified.

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:55 am

(378)

The sable hybrid herself had caught the trespasser. It was lucky for Eris the woman was elderly and frail, more confused than aggressive. The sable coyote had convinced her along further into Salsola's lands, all the way to the Millstone Village, and upon finding a suitable basement, had tossed her there rather unceremoniously. The door locked behind her, Eris had no fears of the old woman escaping -- she was not quite so old as Eris's own mother, but there were years yet on the old coyote, and she had trespassed. By rights, she belonged to Salsola now.

Whether she lived or died depended entirely on just how useful she was. Salsola could not sustain a useless elderly slave; the coyote would have to prove her skills in some area that the pack would benefit from. The emptiness of their slave caste had driven the sable Auxiliary to capture the woman rather than kill her outright. Such a weak slave, while perhaps not physically optimal, would find escape difficult. It would be rougher, however, convincing the old coyote that she belonged in the slave's castes. Perhaps if they were not too rough on her, the trespasser would see it as a mutually beneficial arrangement. Some packs, after all, would cast out the elderly as completely useless.

The appearance of one trespasser had set the leader on edge, however, and she quickly returned to the river border, tracking the coyote's scent over it and into the marshy wastes. The earth was vaguely damp with the brief sunshowers that had occurred later in the afternoon, and the scent wasn't sticking as well as it might have on a dry earth. Before long, however, the sable hybrid had caught a new scent, carried toward her on a soft, barely-there breeze. Narrowing her chartreuse eyes, the sable wolf stepped forward, driftwood staff in her hands, and prepared to face whoever would approach their borders. Perhaps a companion of the newest slave-addition to the pack, perhaps another stupid and confused traveler, stranger to the coyote slave.

The hybrid stepped forward, an unfriendly glower plastered to her sable features. A faintly reddish canine moved a good fifty yards away, though her direction was toward Eris and toward Salsola.

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:49 am

Word Count :: 400+

Little did she know that following her lost mother's old scent trail would lead her right into the hands of the very same mean bitch who tossed the old lady into a cellar two nights ago. But even if Liliya did know that seeking her mother was about to lead her into trouble, the girl would have trekked on. They were family, and there was no tighter bond than that of blood. That, and, she hadn't brought her mother all the way back to Nova Scotia just to lose her after less than a week on dry land!

...If only dry land didn't consist of so many rocks! “Ah!” she hissed and swore again in Russian as she stubbed a toe on a sizable rock. She paused for a moment, shook it off, and kept going. Was she even headed in the right direction? Well, when Verusha left their camp to search for firewood she had gone this general way, but there was nothing to say the woman hadn't wandered off course. One leg longer than the other, you go in circles. The scent she traced was a couple days old, and the longer she followed it the more unsettled she became. With each passing step, the scent of her mother weakened as the scent of that nearby pack overpowered it.

Liliya worked her fingers nervously on the leather strap of her backpack, wondering what lie ahead, and almost as soon as the curiosity crossed her mind, she caught sight of a shadow in the distance. No... not a shadow, but a dark pelted Optime. She squinted. Female. Maybe she had seen her mother...

Every inch of Liliya screamed at her not to pursue. This place was eerie to the Russian. Coming from a place where family was everything, and you were always welcome, it was strange to feel like the very inanimate land rejected you. But if Verusha was in there, she had no choice. She brought her here, she was responsible for getting her out.

“Privyet,” she called to the other. If this one spoke Russian, the informality of her greeting would have been her first mistake. Hell, it might have been even if Eris didn't understand. Remembering her English, she paused for a moment before adding in accented English, “Greeting. I search for my mother. Maybe you have seen her? Gray-brown coyote woman, about this tall.”

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:02 am

(374)

Inferni decorated its border with skulls to warn away any potential trespassers. Salsola preferred subtlety when it came to border defense, tucking their traps into the thistle. Sticking skulls on one's border was admittedly quite a way to earn reputation, but the sable hybrid did not think she wished Salsola to carry the same sort of overtly terrible reputation as her cousins. Salsola might have the same dangerous edge to it, of course, but the sable hybrid preferred to keep her blade concealed.

She was not, in fact, carrying metal on this day. She did not own a combat-styled knife; her only weapon was the twisted staff in her hand, carried to look more like a supportive item than a weapon, though she did not limp. Already her body had recovered from child-birth, leaving only an edge of added weight and heaviness in her breasts. Even if she had been unarmed and injured, The Auxiliary feared little so close to her home territory. One howl, and all of Salsola might descend upon them.

The stranger called out a word, one that Eris did not recognize, and thus ignored. The other words, however, were in English, albeit heavily accented. Indeed, the woman spoke of the very coyote Eris had just carted off to the center of Salsola's territory. Sizing the other female up in silence a moment, Eris leaned her weight on the stick and put a defiant hand upon her hip. Does your mother make a habit of trespassing? The Auxiliary asked. Her voice contained no anger; it was a simple question, asked almost warmly.

There hadn't been any rage in the sable she-wolf when she had even discovered the dottering old woman, this hybrid's mother. She had broken the laws of the pack -- all packs, in truth, for the sable canid did not know of many packs tolerant of trespassing -- and Eris had dealt with her accordingly. It was truly a simplistic matter in the sable coyote's mind, though as always, she was unable to place herself in the opposition's perspective. Perhaps if she had considered Pandemic or Artemisia being enslaved by some foreign pack, a mote of sympathy might have resonated within her.

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:17 am

Word Count :: 200+

The heavy silence was not lost on her, and once the woman spoke her words caused Liliya to pause for a moment, wondering if she misunderstood the woman's language. Her words, she thought, were ones that seemed like they should be spoken in annoyance, yet the woman's voice told her differently. Thoroughly confused, Liliya tried to recall her time spent in Cour des Miracles, hoping to draw on that experience to help with whatever vein this conversation would follow.

After a moment, she decided to answer the woman as honestly as she could. “My apologies. We do not make habit of trespassing, no. We did not know pack was here until we arrive. We will be on our way, out of your hair.” She waved a hand to punctuate her words.

“If I may know where Mother is now, I will get her and we will go,” she nodded hopefully, hoping the woman would cooperate. Unless, perhaps, she couldn't cooperate. Maybe she hadn't stopped Verusha in her wanderings. Or worse, maybe she had. She tried not to show anything past her general concern for her elderly mother.

After a moment of pause, she added; “Please. I will return you a favor.”

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:37 am

(327)

The sable hybrid considered the stranger. There was something faintly familiar about her. The coyote thought she had seen those eyes before, though she could not possibly begin to place just where. Eris had no doubt this was her first meeting with this stranger, but perhaps they had known one another in another life. Not knowing the woman's name, The Auxiliary could not connect her surname to one of her very own Arbiters. She had not bothered to collect the trespasser's name, and if she had, the sable-hued woman would not have known the surname in any case.

The Auxiliary listened with a lazy sort of curiosity as the other canine spoke, appreciating the foreign tinge of her voice. Appreciative of such flavor in the voice, the coyote smiled wanly, recognizing it as the same the coyote had carried. There were no liars and snakes here; the old woman was not a threat, in any case, and the hybrid woman did not see the gain in lying to the stranger about the whereabouts of her mother. Your dear mother is safe, The Auxiliary assured the canine. She's eaten my pack's food, though, and I would agree that a favor is in order, the hybrid said, looking to the blue-eyed woman curiously.

There was still no anger or aggression within Eris, and she had not treated Verusha entirely unkindly -- perhaps she had been a bit rough in putting her in the cellar, but the woman had been fed generously. Still, Eris was curious to gauge the other canine's reaction. What do you propose to offer? the coal-furred wolf asked, genuinely wondering what the rusty-hued woman would offer in return for her mother's life and freedom. It wouldn't seem that was quite in the balance, given The Auxiliary's cool demeanor, but the sable woman guessed the serious of the situation wasn't entirely lost on her companion.

POSTED: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:58 am

Word Count :: 300+

In that moment some of Liliya's nervousness abated. Her mother was safe, and wherever she was this woman was willing to work out a deal. Just as Liliya had guessed, all she wanted was to be repaid for helping the women. Well, that was more than fair. Little did the Russo child know that by safe Eris meant locked in a dark basement somewhere. All she heard was that her mother was alright, had been fed (thank god, for she'd been gone for two days), and all of this meant that they could be on their way to finding the other Russos soon.

What could she offer in return? Well, if the biggest problem was that her mother had eaten the pack's food, then, “I have learnt to feesh from my father. I can catch many feesh for your pack. I can cook for you too. I replace food she ate.” Making good on this promise would take at least another day off of her journey, two if the fish weren't biting, but she was confidant enough that she could reel in a good supply.

Then again, Liliya thought, why would a pack who lived by the sea not already have great fisherman? Was what she offered anything special? At least it would replenish the food supply, even if fish weren't the same delicacy here as they were among other packs. Still, she began to worry that the offer wasn't enough.

“If that is not good enough,” she decided to add on. “I am crafty woman, I can do a lot. You name what you want, I tell you if I can do or not. Yes?” She took a step closer to Eris, closing in the span between them, now feeling more akin to this woman. She had kept her mother safe after she wandered off, and for that Eris owed her something. It was just a matter of a simple business transaction now. Right?

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:58 am

(314)

There was cruelty within the sable-shaded canine, though she was not generally the sort to resort to it unnecessarily. She had equal capacity for kindness and cruelty, and her quick-swinging mood was a testament to the spectrum of emotion the sable-shaded woman could display. As of late, her mood had been even more mutable since the birth of her children. Today, however, her mood was rather upbeat. She was glad to have caught the dottering old coyote, and now her daughter -- a spry thing with far more potential than her mother -- might join Salsola's ranks. The coyote woman did not overlook that this might be a situation dangerous to Salsola, however; she was well aware that this stranger might well betray the pack, causing far more trouble than she was worth.

The hybrid listened with rapt interest as the other canine spoke, still enjoying the strange harshness to her tongue. The hybrid did offer skills the sable-hued Auxiliary might use within Salsola. In truth, they had no good fishermen amongst them, and it was a skill they would sorely miss. The river and the ocean both were bountiful, untapped sources of food for the Salsola pack -- the island across the water and the strait of water between it and the mainland. The coyote nodded her head slowly as the other canine finished speaking, though it was not acceptance of the offer, merely acknowledgement of such; she still contemplated quietly a long moment before speaking aloud.

And if you find life hard within my pack? Would you turn and leave us behind? she inquired, genuinely curious. Salsola didn't often make a point of allowing guests a brief respite in their travels. She would have loyalty; those who would not pledge themselves to Salsola would be relegated to the Goon's rank, if they were allowed to remain at all.

POSTED: Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:25 am

Word Count :: 400+ Oh Liliya, pay more attention next time.

Icy blue eyes scanned the smokey Optime before her for a moment, and it was clear that she was confused. She tilted her head as she ran through their conversation again, wondering if there was something she had missed. Then she realized what was happening. She held up her palms to Eris, trying to backpedal on their conversation. Shaking her head, she started, “No, no, no...” and then her voice died.

Liliya thought she was only offering to help the pack for a few days, to return what supplies her mother had used, and probably with interest. But the woman either thought she was offering to join, or was twisting the situation so Liliya would. She didn't know, and she couldn't tell by the woman's face. She knew nothing of this culture, and even though it was similar to her own the woman's body language was almost as hard to understand as spoken English.

There was one language that she did understand – that primal language that ran through all canines. Suddenly it dawned on her, as she glanced Eris over once again. Her posture, her stance, the lilt in her voice; this was no border guard she was speaking to. Liliya's eyes flashed up to Eris's face and caught the briefest glance of the woman's yellow-green eyes and gasped, jerking her head to the ground so fast it might have given the woman whiplash. That quick glimpse of the Auxiliary's eyes delivered to her the severity of the situation she was in. If not for knowing her mother was in the lands, the Russo girl might have tried to defy Eris. But family was everything, and the only reason Verusha was in this situation was because of her – she would not abandon her.

“N... no,” she tried to say it as though she was continuing what she began before. “I would not leave. I am Russian woman; we are strong and loyal.” With her eyes now downcast it was easier to hide her doubt, but Eris might sense it on her anyway. Verusha and Liliya had come back to Nova Scotia to seek out their family, Liliya's brothers. Just days ago they had planned to set out on a fact-finding mission in hopes to discover their whereabouts. Was she now pledging that she wouldn't do that? Liliya didn't know for sure. How could she leave them behind? Something could be done... something... She just needed to buy herself some time.

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:54 am

(359) NEVER FEAR. ERIS WILL MAKE HER S-M-R-T. except eris is a moron :c

There was a thrilling, vaguely familiar sense of control here. The sable coyote had never tasted true power in Eterne; she had been far too much a wolf for that, but there was an essence in the somewhat servile tendencies of her would-be uncles, and the clearly subservient tendencies of the slaves. There was something far more enjoyable when faced with one not of the slaves castes, however. The dark woman did not receive the same pleasure from ordering Molca around as she did twisting this pretty little thing about her fingers. Any sort of power was good; she realized that and did not scoff at what she had, but there was that extra flavor to this encounter she so enjoyed.

There was a change in the tawny canine, some shiver of realization creeping into her mind. She was soft and not used to the ways of this world. Eris would have pitied her, had she not experienced them and hardened for it. It would be just as hard to learn those lessons outside of Salsola as it would be within, but the pack would provide some form of support, something which Eris herself had lacked. The pale eyes of the stranger met her own for just an instant and broke away; Eris stiffened, now entirely unused to her gaze being met. There was no resistance within the icy eyes, however; The Auxiliary held the better cards. For this, she made no move to correct the woman's mistake, only offered that blank, slightly amused look, only her eyes belying the calm of the expression.

Russian? Oh, you are strong, then -- our dear Janos serves us well, and I think you shall, as well, the coyote said. Her lofty opinion of Janos was not without cause, after all -- he was a strength to Salsola, one of their very foundation. Strength isn't the only virtue, though. Perhaps you'll learn if you spend enough time with us, she said, rolling one coal shoulder. Some forms of cunning could be taught, others were natural talents honed only with years of experience. Still, there was promise in this one yet.

POSTED: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:45 pm

Word Count :: 300+

Her eyes seemed to search the ground. Even though she kept them downcast it felt like she could feel the weight of Eris’s gaze upon her. This is what it was like to be face to face with a true leader? Sure, Liliya had known packs before, had been part of them in the past, but generally canine etiquette was dropped for the more human-like forms of hierarchy. This one, though, Liliya knew was different; like Eris had roused a primeval instinct that had been dormant within her all these years.

She gave Eris her full attention, ears perked to show the woman that she was listening. When she said the name Janos, Liliya gasped. It could be a coincidence, the name was not uncommon. But still, Eris had made the connection after the mention of Liliya’s Russian heritage. She knew of a Janos distantly related to herself; she never met the man but had heard the name brought up in family business before.

“I will learn,” she said as she wished she could find a way out of this. Then again… perhaps… if there was one Russo in the woman’s pack, that could mean there were more. “I bring with me lots of knowledge from my father, and my family. Anything I can not do? I learn it. I can teach pack Russian, build things, and - like you know - bring in seafood. I make tools for feeshing, also.”

“I am called Liliya Russo, Madam. What is your will with me?” She raised her gaze slightly, mustering up the courage to stand confidently in front of Eris, but by no means did she dare to look the woman in the eyes again. There was little more she could say to sell herself to the woman, and Liliya suspected that Eris had known what she was going to do the moment she laid eyes on her anyway. She was ready for it to be done.

Image courtesy of mnshots@Flickr; table by the Mentors!

POSTED: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:51 am

[s]i posted here accidentally but i was going to post here next anyway so i am leaving this here for 15 minutes so i don't have to delete and -1 myself like a jerkface 8| ps. don't drink alcohol kids[/s] - YAY I POSTED |: (361)

There was genuine surprise in the tawny one's gasp when Eris mentioned the name Janos. Perhaps they were familiar with one another, or even family? The sable canine scrutinized the woman carefully, though her expression seemed as relaxed as ever. The woman's skills were impressive, but The Auxiliary had no desire to show her desire for this one's skills and strengths quite so openly. She was young and strong, and her usefulness sent a strange shock of jealously through the dark coyote. Not only did this one manage to have a body, she had quite the brain, and hands with powerful skills. Eris had perhaps two of the three, one of the two debatable at best. Her body and sexuality were the only thing she had which wielded any sort of power, and it, too, would fade with age. Her mind might not be quite so calculating as Sirius's, nor as apt to learn as Salvia's, but there was some usefulness in it yet, if it was only the ability to manipulate others. In this instance, the sable coyote wielded a very real thing over Liliya -- her mother. There was no imagined threat or subtlety here, and it was not Eris's preferred method. Whatever obtained her ends, however, was acceptable in the end, though, wasn't it?

Eris Eternity. I would have you come to Salsola and dedicate your skills to us. In return, you will always have a home, one wrapped in thorns to protect you. She paused, considering. And your dear mother, too, she added, after a moment's thought. Your skills would provide for us, and quite well, I think, the dark woman said, now offering a genuine compliment. If this one's mother was a quarter as useful as this one professed to be, she would also be an acceptable addition to the pack, if a bit bumbling. It couldn't be helped, though -- Verusha was now her key to holding this one to the pack, and she could not be harmed. The sable-hued woman would ensure the older coyote's safety; this one was too valuable to simply release.

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