blood bound

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:22 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 228 :: Wasn't sure when this should be dated (like after she first came back in Feb or nowish) so I left it extremely vague. xD

It was late, and Vesper wanted nothing more than to push through the pelt flap at the entrance to her den and sleep. Her paws were sore from traveling, but she had to push herself a bit further, skirting the edges of the limestone caverns to the other side. Rocks flipped under her feet as she moved, and a breath of wind carried the scent of rabbits grazing in the twilight. She contemplated capturing one as an offering, but her Aquila could hunt for himself, and he would appreciate words rather than a meal. Or so she reasoned as an excuse; honestly, the Optio didn’t know if she’d be able to capture one in her exhausted state.

The coywolf finally stepped around to the entrance of Ezekiel’s den, her small body shadowed as she stepped into the mouth of the main cave tunnel. Her coal-tipped tail swung low against her hocks, and she tried to organize her thoughts so that her report wouldn’t be a jumble of words. News of the northern wolf pack could not be ignored, but she might as well report the change of leadership in Ichika as well. Her good relations with the leaders might not result in an alliance, but at least Inferni wouldn’t have to fear aggression.

She took a breath, adopting better posture than tired slumping, and called out Ezekiel’s name.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:37 pm

The small fire inside was nearly smokeless, something he did out of habit these days. It was dried wood kindled with pine, and burned hot and fast before stilling to a longer burn with heavier wood. Ibsen slept nearby, perched on a log that he had dragged in with Viggo’s help. It was hollowed out and served as a useful storage area for his pine pieces, as well as the extra stones he found along the shore. Smooth and round, they lined the bottom of his low pit. A metal pot, scavenged and old, steamed above the low-burning flames.

Ezekiel sat on a stuffed deer hide, sewing. He had been working on the bag for two days now and nearly finished—it was simple but one he intended for use with the horses. A single large piece of leather served as the base, wide and heavy. He had cut it with a knife to shape the hide into something that would better sit on the back-end of a horse, and was almost finished with the final side when the call came from outside.

Ibsen woke, lifted his head, and muttered something that the coyote ignored. He lowered his project and pulled himself up, moving to the skinny entrance of his home. Outside he spotted Vesper, four legged, looking only half-as tired as she really was. The Aquila raised his ears and motioned for her to enter, then retreated back into the cave. A secondary stuffed hide was pulled out from his bed and pulled over so she could be more comfortable.

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:51 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 311

Vesper did not have to wait long for her Aquila. She stepped into the cave hesitantly nonetheless, her ears tilted back and her nostrils flaring as she scented the pine. Her instincts went against approaching such a flame, especially in an enclosed area like a cavern, but no smoke hung in the air. Her blue eyes scanned the leather and hide with the resigned interest of someone who could never hope to understand, and with a small smile and a wag of her tail, she plopped gratefully down on the hide Ezekiel had pulled out for her.

She was quiet for a moment, her screaming muscles falling silent, and then she lifted her head again. “I have news from the north,” the Optio began. She had left shortly after her promotion to scout, so it probably came as no surprise, but she was glad to have learned something substantial. “Myrika might have told you, but there is a pack to the north called New Dawn. A pack of wolves.” She paused—but not long, realizing that the statement was an ominous one.

“I’ve spoken with their alpha, Zalen. He only wishes to live according to the old ways—before luperci.” She tried to keep the satisfaction out of her voice, though Ezekiel knew she had grown up with only one shape. “We were acquaintances as loners, and Zalen respects me, so I don’t think we have anything to fear from them so long as we stay out of each other’s way. I let him know Inferni isn’t looking for trouble.” She twitched her ears, hoping that wasn’t presumptuous. The coyote clan did like to keep to itself, as did New Dawn, but there were members of each pack—wolf and coyote—that resented the other species. She hoped that her near-friendship with the dark male wouldn’t be destroyed by prejudiced troublemakers.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:12 pm

Instinct was something Ezekiel understood far too well. He had learned to adapt, both within Inferni and outside of it, and so this two-fold face grew under his skin. The coyote was not a man that could fit himself into a singular objective—even now he undermined himself by planting seeds of doubt within his members. It would not matter for long, he reasoned, and so he continued on the path that he so intended.

He listened to her words, hands moving to a small pouch hanging from a large elk antler. As he removed the hot water from the fire he opened this leather bundle and dumped the contents into it. The scent of chamomile, valerian, lavender and tansy all rose from the steam as it stewed. The news of the wolf pack was not new, but it eased his nerves to know Vesper had also gone to investigate. A faint shadow crossed his eyes as her tone shifted, but it was subtle and did not last long.

“No, we aren’t,” he admitted, looking at her from across the low-burning fire. Ibsen had resumed his sleep, head tucked under one large wing. “Their alpha said that he only wished to speak with Myrika, so friend or not, you might want to avoid their borders.” He also wondered, briefly, if she might now consider this lifestyle as something to yearn for—the idea of another sub-leader abandoning him stung bitterly. “They don’t seem to like coyotes, from what I heard.”

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:27 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 403

Scented steam filled the space, and her nostrils flared again as they picked up the interesting aroma of herbs. She wondered what it was for, but then her attention shifted immediately to Ezekiel as he looked at her with his amber gaze. Her ears remained half-mast as he began to speak, hoping that he approved of her excursion and the news she brought back. Never had she sought out approval in such a way before, but the gold-bronze coyote was worthy of such respect.

His warning, though light, was somewhat unexpected. She nodded, however, accepting what he said. Zalen mentioned that she was welcome at the borders, but she wouldn’t push her luck; she might not meet the alpha next time she passed by. Her eyes fell as he finished, and she agreed reluctantly.

“He mentioned that I was the first coyote that didn’t anger him,” Vesper confessed, but she grew slightly border. “I know from some of the Infernians that such a prejudice is hard to change.” She disapproved of ungrounded prejudice, a halfbreed despite identifying with the coyotes, but she did understand and approve of defending the borders and lining them with the skulls of trespassers. “I agree that they should be avoided, however. Even if the alpha is friendly toward a couple of us, it might not apply to his members.” The old dark woman she’d run into, the beta of New Dawn, had been initially aggressive and suspicious.

She suppressed a sigh, knowing that there would continue to be a large breach between the two groups, but that was for the best. She would prefer to never see a wolf again if it meant peace.

Her other piece of news sprung in her mind at the thought of peace, and she lifted her pale gaze to Ezekiel’s once again. “Ichika no Ho-en has had a change of leadership,” she said, knowing that this topic was touchy because of the former Optio’s betrayal. She forced her fur to lay flat, tried not to make the connection between her and Sage. “Again, I know the new leader from my time as a loner; we met again on my way to New Dawn. She’s more sensible than most of that pack. I don’t know what happened to their former leadership, though.” She didn’t even remember the names, other than that one had been a Lykoi fallen very far from the tree.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:47 pm

(317)

Having spent most of his youth raised by mostly-wolf hybrids, he had been startled to see even they dealt with the racism of wolves. Fatin and Tristan both shared red-wolf blood, and this had often been mistaken for coyote despite the burly male’s size. Such differences were so small to him then, but Ezekiel had been quick to learn that instinctively and by upbringing many beasts could not let go of the shadows and hatred for things different. Perhaps it was something they would always live with.

A thin smile crossed his face, a peculiar thing that did not meet his eyes. Yet before he could speak of the wolf pack to the north, unexpected news came regarding his uncle’s home. This time a clear reaction occurred; his ears flared high, eyes widened, and he stiffened slightly. It did not surprise him that Razekiel might simply vanish as he had before, but the cow-spotted she wolf hardly seemed the type. What had happened to drive both of them away?

He frowned and reached for a Luperci-made wooden bowl. Ezekiel poured a generous amount of tea into this and held it in his lap. “My uncle,” he began, thinking over his words. “Had a habit for disappearing. We thought he was dead after last winter. I can imagine him doing the same…but Naryu,” he recalled her name, familiar with it from the days of Dahlia. “It surprises me that she would leave.”

Satisfied that the steaming water had cooled some, he lapped at it gingerly. The warmth trailed down his throat, but the effects of the tea would not be felt for several long moments. “Do you want some?” He asked suddenly, amber eyes shifting to the scarred woman. “It helps to ease the body.” A pause came before he shifted his weight on the padded hide and sighed. “Tell me about this new leader, if you would.”

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:01 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 426

The Aquila’s reaction to the news was strong; it elicited more emotion than the news of the wolf pack, or at least more obvious emotion. Ezekiel was enigmatic, but the ability to remain detached and guarded was a good quality in Vesper’s eyes. She watched him carefully as he grabbed a bowl and poured the concoction he’d been brewing, trying to read what he was thinking.

He spoke at last, and the cream-tawny female nodded uncertainly. She had met many flighty creatures in her own life, mostly women and mostly put out of her head, but it was still uncomfortable to know that a leader had abandoned the pack. Or perhaps they hadn’t simply off and disappeared, and there was a stronger reason behind their stepping down. She would have to ask X’yrin the next time they met, if her friend was comfortable with the topic. She didn’t know how much the woman would keep away from her, as Ves kept the news of Inferni shrouded.

The male unexpectedly offered the drink—tea, she supposed, after remembering her days with Enkiel and the quirky woman near the Pictou River—and her ears perked up when he mentioned its effect. “Yes, please.” She rose and shifted forward on the hide he’d provided, wondering if he’d set a bowl down on the floor for her. It would take too much energy and time to shift to simply hold a bowl with her hands.

She frowned thoughtfully when asked of the new Ichikan leader. “Her name is X’yrin Exultare,” Vesper began simply. “She comes from a culture of nomadic luperci, but she settled with Ichika for the comfort of a family. She’s a capable warrior, though like all Ichikans she isn’t violent.” She paused. “I’ve sparred with her before, for lessons.” A testimony to her skill, and some light to be shed on Ves’ improvement even when not practicing with Ezekiel and Max.

“I don’t believe she will cause trouble; she’s reasonably warm and friendly,” she added with a shrug. It was a trait that most in the mountain pack shared, often to the point of folly. “Ichika might grow more capable as a result of her leadership, if she chooses to share what she knows with them.” She hoped that the pack would grow a collective backbone, at least, remembering Kiara’s helplessness against the dog bitch that had attacked her. She did not want her friends killed, and Ichika might even be an ally in the future so long as the friendship between Shepard and student remained strong.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:22 pm

(311)

Ezekiel was moving as she began to speak, and placed his own bowl down as to prepare one for her. He had gathered these objects from the traders, along with several other odds and ends that still had yet to find purpose. The red beads were such an object, but he would find a use at some point. Being less creative than his sister, Ezekiel favored simple things. The bowls, a smoothed wood, were such a thing. They were coated in beeswax and water-proof in such a manner, which meant they would last longer.

He poured her some of the hot water and placed it near her front paws before returning and settling on his own cushion. Once there, he lapped up more of the tea and noted that Vesper’s experience with this new leader, this X’yrin, was not simply made up of words. This did not bother him—he had trained with Cwmfen while serving his father, after all. Amber eyes hardened at the mention of non-aggression, something that didn’t settle with a woman who considered herself a warrior. Razekiel was nothing of the sort, and Dahlia had seen their fighters killed during and after the war.

“If they are led by a warrior,” he reasoned. “They will learn to fight. While I may not like what that pack did to Sage,” the name was spoken bitterly. “We have never had quarrel. I would like to keep it that way.” Avoiding war was something he intended, especially since Anathema was yet a factor that worried him. Even Salsola, their supposed allies, were looked upon with caution. This was to be expected, though; the secretive pack was led by two people that were capable of deception to the highest degree. Sirius, especially, worried Ezekiel—they were equals in this matter and ultimately, this was why their respect for one another existed.

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:34 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 274

Vesper contentedly inhaled the scent of the tea before lowering her muzzle to the bowl set at her paws. It would likely still burn her tongue at this temperature, and so she listened to Ezekiel’s verdict as she waited. He did not seem displeased that she had a relationship beyond small talk, and so she forced herself to relax. She was not a traitor like Sage, would not abandon the clan that had taken her in and directed her strength and energy into true purpose.

“I doubt there will be reason for quarrel,” she speculated. Despite being led by an Exultare warrior, she doubted that the core beliefs of the Ichikans would change; they would continue to seek peace in their mountainous home. She lapped at the tea, the odd flavors strong but welcome. “If anything, they could be potential allies.”

Realizing what she’d just said, she lowered her ears. It was unlike her to hold back her opinion if she felt like it needed to be stated, but she was only newly made a subleader of the clan. She was in a precarious position with her rank and her friendships with the wolves, and she fiercely did not want Ezekiel to see Sage in her. She frowned and went on somewhat gruffly.

“They might at least be able to hold their own against threats, and perhaps help us if we need the aid.” She dearly hoped that Inferni would never need such aid. “X’yrin may want to see Inferni doing well if only because it is my home.” She put subtle emphasis on the last pair of words then drank the tea again.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:52 pm

Having a sub-leader meant that he was able to hear opinions beyond his own. He was not remarkably social by nature, and while capable and well-versed in the way of politics, Ezekiel often came off as peculiar or even cagey when dealing with others. His behavior was a subset of paranoia brought on by the ghost that yet followed him, and whether real or imagined, he could not shake the terror of such a dream. Alaine had scarred him wholly, and he would not be able to rest while her hatred still brewed. If only he could find where Talitha had taken Caillen, he might have ended this suffering…

For this reason, among others, he only smiled at the mention of allies. It was not presumptuous for her to speak of such matters, though he would not allow her to promise things without his authorization. While he worried for Vesper, torn yet between two worlds and her wolfish blood, he did not gather the same hesitation from her as he did from Sage. “We will see,” he said absent-mindedly, pausing to drink his own tea. “Any alliance would be a wary one. Even our friendship with Salsola isn’t without hesitation, though I have no desire to make an enemy of Sirius.”

POSTED: Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:14 pm

sing, sing unto me the pleasure and pain
reveal to me the reasons my love's not in vain

Word Count → 371 :: And so begins Vesper's adventure at making friends!

His smile eased her nerves, and Vesper was glad that she had not stepped out of line. She did not fear punishment from Ezekiel, exactly; she was not some cowed dog whipped into submission. However, her wolf blood pushed her to defer to the few and far between that deserved such heightened respect, and once more she wanted to prove that she was not a traitor. She knew the string of betrayal, the empty space where a friend once sat—the empty space she reached for, only to grasp nothing. She doubted any of her clan mates held that strong of feelings for her, but she still did not want to become what she feared.

She nodded in understanding about the wary alliances; she had learned to rein in her tongue when with her friends and impart only the smallest pieces of information about Inferni as they applied. The mention of Salsola, however, had her heart beating twice in rapid succession, and it was all she could do to keep the emotions from surfacing to her scarred face. It was the one decision that she wholeheartedly disapproved of, but it was also one that she spoke nothing about. Ezekiel saw an advantage in allying with the dark pack; he would not care that they were made up of monsters unless they turned into an active threat. He hadn’t seen the old slave’s blood gush from her opened throat.

Therefore, the scarred coywolf was silent, until her thoughts managed to pass onto other things and her blue eyes brightened slightly. Leaping at the change in topic, she began to ask Ezekiel about prospective members for the scouting tier. The pair discussed the clan members until Vesper nearly fell asleep on the hide the man had laid out for her, at which point she awkwardly dismissed herself. The news she had brought him no longer weighed so heavily, but at the same time, she would be glad to take a break from her outside duties and spend her time within the clan lands for the next couple of weeks. As much as she could report about the other packs, she was lacking in knowledge about her comrades, and that would have to change.

vesper lupus by me; table code from the Mentors!

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