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Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Chrishton smiled to himself at Taal's invitation while wagging his tails, though the others couldn't see any of this. A pair of fox spirits began to swirl around the scene, inviting themselves into the middle of the otherwise private gathering. They were thinking the same thing Chrishton was thinking. No need for any explicit communication between them. Making this cocky stranger rue the day he thought he could brush off a fox was a tempting, tempting prospect. If not for the gravity of his current situation, he would gladly remain in this little copse to harass Taal into sprouting grays.

Alas, that wasn't an option, unless...

Chrishton got an idea. Never a good thing for those around him. His smile broadened, and the fox spirits sensed deviousness emanating from him. They delighted in it, and could not contain themselves. The orange wisps began to flit around faster in anticipation, ooh-ing and chattering about what they thought he might do.

He did not throw his spirit friends a bone. They would find out when they found out. Tormenting them with secrets was at least as much fun as anything else in his life.

When Taal turned around, and Dorcas begin to mouth his name, the fox appeared again, still standing where he was. He was waving his hand in a downward motion at her, gesturing for her to remain quiet and not do anything.

"Oh sure, go back to sleeping in a cave like an animal. I'm betting the humans wouldn't tolerate you in Marn anyway."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Re: Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Post by Taal on

“Probably not… although I doubt they have much love for anything like you, either.”

Taal said calmly as he stopped and looked over his shoulder at the invisible fox-shifter. His magical senses were nothing like his Elven heritage, but he could sense something else nearby. Whatever the fox’s words, he had allies and as much as he was also part-troll, he was not as stupid as his kin to be provoked into a fight.

“Besides,” he said, a small hint of mirth appearing in his eyes. “…Better to live in a home of rocks, than burrow in the ground as you foxes do. The earth is for worms and insects.” Taal added and then moved forward again, heading into the tree line on the opposite side. Pulling his scarf a little tighter around his neck, he breathed in the cool air of the night and started walking past the tree line.

“I will no doubt see you both again.” He said, his voice disappearing with his form as he moved back into the darkness. After some walking around, he moved back to the brush and the deeper woods then turned to look back at the camp. Outside of their circle of light, he could see the camp, but the darkness of the woodland should keep him invisible. Nightvision was hampered by the light of the camp and so he was at a visibility advantage as such.

Drawing his rifle again, he moved further into the woods and looked for another meal. As much as he was gracious enough to give up the rabbit, he would still need meat to sedate his hunger, at least for a short time.
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

It would take a while yet for an appreciation of Taal's behavior to set in to Dorcas's mind. She was a hotheaded girl, and graciousness was not in her repertoire.

A staccato flapping noise above was accompanied by a few gasps of a high-pitched wheezing noise: an errant bat was catching up to its companions after a late post-dusk feeding. Dorcas's cat murmured excitedly at the untouchable prey on the trees.

Dorcas glanced over at her cat with a reproving bend of her brow. There was no reason to fault the cat for its behavior, but her mood wasn't good. The man-fox-that-might-be-Chris had reappeared visually, and the shock wasn't so great. Dorcas's face wrinkled like the skin on a cold, milky soup. She wished he were harder to stomach, that she could be at peace with a world that violently protested such trickery. But no practical punishment rained down on them for the flauting of physics that seemed to be underway.

Taal was out of sight by this point. Dorcas looked down and lifted her chin at the same time. "I want Chris to come back now," she said quietly--quietly so as to disguise the pout in her throat that would be too apparent if she spoke up. She curled and uncurled her anxious fists.

"Hey, ugly, do I look like I've been living in a hole? Don't answer that. I'm sure you will see us again, when you realize there isn't shit all here worth staying for."

The stranger wandered off back into the woods until he could no longer be seen reflecting firelight past the line of trees. The foxman flattened his ears back and frowned. "So anal."

At this point something made a sound overhead which startled Chrishton into a crouching position. He peered around but wasn't able to spot what he decided must have been a bat. There weren't a whole lot of other birds around, figures there would be bats.

I want Chris to come back now, said Dorcas.

Chrishton looked at her oddly. "Eh? But I... Oh. Right."

He shifted for her then, arching forward and turning his head down and to the side as the white fur that covered his body receded into human coloured flesh. The hair on his head turned from the flawless white to the usual, longer brown, and his physique bulked up to a more familiar shape. The process took almost no time at all, barely two seconds in total passed before she was looking at the man she knew before. He was even wearing the clothes she'd given him again.

"Damn, Dor. Get a grip on yerself. Yer lookin' all..." he waggled his fingers around the area of his temple, "messed up. Shit, lets just get this rabbit cooked an' get some sleep."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Re: Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Post by Taal on

Taal almost sneered at the discussion he was hearing behind him. The night was quiet and dark and cool and he liked it that way. For all the things in the world that people loved, Taal loved his solitude and solace without the need for material possessions or a roof over his head.

One thing that he did need as much as any other creature however was companionship and some form of compassion. He missed being part of something greater and having the feel of family. He had never possessed un such feelings for long, no matter where he went. He was too different and driven by too much hunger to maintain any true ties to mortals.

Looking back and hearing the words between the two parties behind him, he could not help but find some hint of jealousy in his guts for the link they had. He had tried to be kind in his own way without letting his guard down too much and as always he was greeted with hostility and verbal jabs.

It should not surprise him any more… but it always hurt.

Growling to himself he moved away, out of earshot form the campfire to look for more food. His footsteps soft and silent, his rifle primed and ready. Whatever was waiting in the darkness, he would meet, shoot and devour it. At least he could fulfill on of his dire needs.
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

Dorcas averted her gaze when the man-fox posed so strangely and his form began to distort. She saw thick-jointed Taal stalking off into the woods. When he paused to regard them, she awkwardly ducked her head the other way so as to avoid seeming to have looked at him. When she looked back at Chris, he was complete.

A thin wind that had squirreled its way through the loose trunks of trees and to her back drove Dorcas to Chris as much as her emotion. She closed the distance between them in a few hasty steps and clapped strong hands onto his back in a hug. Her face, at the level of his shoulder, buried itself against his clavicle. Between the chill of the woods and the rush of emotional trauma, Dorcas had a thorough case of the shakes.

After a moment and a wet wipe of her eyes against Chris's shoulder, she pulled back to listen to him talk. The rabbit could wait for a moment. "Messed up?" she practically screeched, but her voice was so hoarse she could have passed for another bat. "At least I still look like--like I'm supposed to! Scarin' the--the livin' fuck outta me with your changin' tricks!" She pounded him once on the shoulder with her fist from such a short distance as to merely make a point.

Dorcas finally released him from her clinging grip and gazed down at the sad heap of rabbit by which her cat sat. "I hope ye know how t'cook that thing," she said. The cat paused obediently, but looked ready to feast on the corpse given the slightest indication from his master. Dorcas instead leaned down to open her hands for the cat, who reluctantly trotted over to be scooped up. As she stood, Dorcas glanced up at Chris over her shoulder. Grateful as she was to be in his presence again, she had to be wary now--he could disappear at any moment.

A sweet stink was coming off the rabbit where the cat had licked its eyes roughly. It certainly wanted to be cooked before eating, and Dorcas stood with solid stance, her cat occupying her arms, and watched Chris for his next step in providing dinner.

Chrishton's arms wrapped around her in surprise when she ran up and hugged him. There was something she surely had never been willing to do in the past. She really was more scared than she let on, and he couldn't figure out by what. Was his transformation that disturbing to her, was it because of Taal, or was it just everything combined that had her so shaken up?

Dorcas was a tough girl. For her to break down like she was meant that she was really out of her element. His initial hunches, that she knew very little about the world around her and also that she knew very little about magic, were more anchored in truth than he knew.

He was big, warm, soft, and the kind of guy who was good at giving hugs. When she clamped around him, he started stroking her hair and made it obvious that she could go ahead and cry if that's what she needed to do.

"Sorry, Dor. I'll stay like this if it's better fer ya."

She then broke away and mentioned cooking the rabbit. He looked down at it and shrugged his large shoulders lightly.

He spoke while moving to snatch the body off the ground by its hind legs. "Yeh. Stupid me dun got bread or nothin' fer it... Or a knife..."

With a deep frown, he realized that his plans on skinning the rabbit involved being in his kitsune form, which he had just promised not to do again.

A lone wisp of orange emerged from the trees and whizzed past at the speed of the wind. Stupid! It teased, and was gone. Chrishton rolled his eyes.

"Dor, unless yer hidin' a knife on ya... Ehh..."

Unless. He got an idea that might provide a source of amusement and avoid the need to transform again.

"HEY TAAL!" He yelled into the treeline. "TAAAAAL!"
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Re: Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Post by Taal on

“Surely you are not getting mauled this quickly.” Taal said as he exited the tree line behind the pair of them. Simply he had gone in a half-circle checking the parameter for food, but in enough earshot to hear the sounds of the camp around him. Still in the short term of time he had left and come back, there was no food to be found.

His rifle was now strapped to his back, but his hand rested comfortably on the pommel of his blade on his back, rested but defiantly in a position to draw should he need to in a pinch. Whatever the situation, he was in no mood to come back just for more insults.

Looking at the fox who was now a man and the woman again, he sighed and looked at the floor, shaking his head. He had heard the conversation about the rabbit and needing a knife, and although he was tempted to let them pull it apart like animals, he did say that he had given them the meal as an act of charity.

He would have to make good on his words and sometimes he hated that about his personality.

Still he stepped forward into the light and looked between them again.

“Are claws and teeth not sufficient enough to pierce rabbit hide, changer?” he asked coldly then gestures to the cat. “It seems your feline has more ability to eat a meal given then you do.” He added then gestured with his hand for the fox to give him the rabbit.

With his other hand, he moved it from his larger, combat orientated blade and reached into the satchel on his back and pulled out a much smaller, curved skinning and gutting knife. It was rugged and obviously well-used but surprisingly clean.

“Well?” he asked, nodding at the as of yet unskinned rodent.
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

Dorcas's broad shoulders pinched inward with the chill of the wind that suddenly swept just overhead. Her cat looked in reaction to the wind--or did that little jerk of his head indicate he was following the movement of something else. He muffled a meow into Dorcas's lank hair and showed a momentary affection of a nose against her ear before he relaxed back into her arms, indifferent to his captive station.

Chris made some sarcastic comment about the unlikeliness of Dorcas carrying a knife. She didn't think to hide her mild consternation at that. She was a survivalist of sorts, but really the kind who took up in city brothels and engaged in arm wrestling and battles of politics; the fact that she didn't keep a knife on her was a slight embarrassment to her self image.

Dorcas paced in a wide arc around Chris and the rabbit until he startled her with his next move. He called out that name of that hostile apparition. Dorcas stopped short, and two pairs of eyes--hers dull brown, and her cat's glowing like copper leaf--peered out where they expected him to reappear.

The cat was the first to tip his head in the proper direction, as Taal came up behind them. Dorcas followed suit. She righted her posture and sidled up to Chris, the better to take his barbs full on, as a trio.

This whole scenario was highly unsavory to Dorcas. Her refusal to meet Taal's gaze and the way she rolled her bristly annoyance around behind tightly pursed lips served to show off her mood. She was more cavalier with her attitude, backed now by the presence of a known friend. She jutted a hip away from Taal with pronounced impertinence.

One thing Dorcas didn't do--not yet--was speak up. This familiar Chris was engaging in one of his tricks, and she'd come to keep quiet through these. She didn't exactly trust her companion's judgment, but she did trust him. And besides, her silence gave her an excuse to compose herself after her traumatic emotional spin; she wasn't as quick with wit and banter as she might otherwise be. She rolled her eyes away from Taal and let her gaze fall on Chris to observe him--how, indeed, was he going to pull off using Taal's services and still not give up any of their food? Because he certainly wouldn't give up any of their food.

Chrishton's confidence did not waver. It never did. The man was a rock, or perhaps a brick fashioned out of freshly quarried arrogance. Dorcas may have found it easier to deal with Taal's words as a group, but to Chrish, the words were less than nothing. In fact, they humored him. Everything did, it seemed.

He spun around with Dorcas to look at Taal as he appeared in a different place than he'd left, and responded with a bemused voice loud enough to give away their position in the woods to anyone within a mile's radius. It certainly scared away any animals in the vicinity. He had so little tact, it seemed unlikely that such a man could survive a week alone on the road.

"Well, we could do it that way, or y'could be nice'n loan us yer knife so's I dun gotta shift again'n get Dor here all worked up. Surely ya've got a knife. I'll save ya some trouble'n get ya another rabbit if ya do. Whatcha say? "

His words were followed by a big, bizarre but not dishonest, grin that showed a lot of teeth.
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Re: Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Post by Taal on

Taal looked at the woman first and then to the fox changer, then to the knife in his hand. Sighing, he felt like he was talking to someone who was possibly more mentally deficient then an imp and certainly louder. His attempts at finding food were quite violently shot out the air by this scag shouting his name out at loud volume.

Taal was in fact half-way tempted to jam the very obvious, open skinning knife into the fox’s throat by this time and just feeding on him instead. The girl would probably be better off without him anyway.

Of course he doubted that she would see it that way while he was chewing on tender fox meat.

Turning the knife around in his hand, he handed it to the fox shifter handle first and then sighed, looking at the girl, wondering why this man was such a much better find then someone who had at least some form of survival instinct. It was his story but he did not bother to ask the question. Humans were fickle and based on aesthetics and the furry, cuddly and aesthetically pleasing fox was going to be the obvious choice to their shallow eyes over the black and gold skinned monster.

Taal waited for the knife to be taken and looked at the rabbit on the floor.

“You will not have to worry about the extra rabbit. When you have both cleared out of the area, I am sure that I will be able to find food without your…’assistance’.” He added and looked up at the moonlight night for a moment before turning his head back to the female.

“Can I assume you have calmed somewhat now?”
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

Maybe Taal's perception was skewed by his hermitage, not coming across social groups very often in these woods, but it was possible that he deduced Dorcas and Chrishton to be traveling in wedlock, or something like it. Dorcas caught the way he looked between the two of them--the same patronizing sort of skeptical eye she had found applied to herself and Mydjeken these past several weeks. A hot flare of embarrassment felt like heartburn in her breastbone. Dorcas wasn't sure why she felt that way--was it because she felt silly to think about Mydjeken at a time like this, or because she half wanted to correct the notion of her and Chris, and half . . . didn't? Her cheeks became visibly pink. She felt confused, probably as the result of a painfully empty stomach. She shifted her feet but didn't move from Chrishton's side.

Dorcas pursed her lips roundly when Chris offered to get another rabbit in exchange for Taal's lending his knife. How did he expect to catch a rabbit when he had just promised he wasn't going to pull any tricks anymore? She opened her mouth to speak but found words wouldn't come the way she wanted.

Taal didn't seem to be a threat anymore. Just another hot-blooded thing in the cold woods. He was willing to bargain somewhat. Nearby, the old horse on which they'd ridden in nickered in restless sleep. Dorcas itched at the exposed skin of her forearms, which had become prickly with goosebumps. Taal asked her if she had calmed down, and she shot him a beady look. She was feeling an unusual sort of agitation.

"Oh skin the fuckin' beast already, one of you," she spit in retort.

Chrishton took the offered knife and paid for it with a wink in Taal's direction. Why he was winking, what possible reason the man could have for winking at someone who didn't know him and didn't like him, was anybody's guess. He acted a fair bit like someone who was drunk, in that he just didn't seem to care if Taal got it or not.

He stood there then, looking at the knife while Taal turned down the offer to get him another rabbit for his troubles. All the while seeming more interested in the knife, he came to some conclusions about what kind of a person Taal was. The tone of his voice, his choice of words... Chrishton felt he had the half-trollish looking thing pinned down pretty well.

It had been a while since he'd played around with a proper knife. He learned a few tricks years ago, but almost never had time or inclination to practice them. While getting a feel for Taal was as good a time as any to see if he could still do anything impressive. He twirled it once, then flipped it over the back of his wrist and caught it. He tossed it up into the air...

"Oh skin the fuckin' beast already, one of you," Dorcas interrupted. It threw him off and he missed catching it, but corrected the gaff by snagging it out of the air with his other hand. For a man who looked so big and oafish, he had good coordination.

"Shit, dun get yer panties in a ruffle, Dor," he rebuffed, and meandered over to the rabbit to plop his ass on the ground beside it.

Skinning it didn't take long. Without a hatchet or a table to cut on, he had to improvise while keeping the animal clean of dirt from the ground, but Chrishton knew what he was doing. He'd obviously done it before more than once. Soon all he was holding was a body of meat and bones, and he stood up again to go find a stick to skewer it with.

He did so, and was roasting it over the fire soon after, filling the air with an appealing aroma.

"Sure hope y'like it plain."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Re: Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

Post by Taal on

Taal watched the fox try to flip the knife as the woman spoke, but his eyes never left the blade. As it started heading to the floor, his hand opened to his side to catch it, but was caught by the off hand of the wolf. Taal narrowed his eyes as he tilted his head. It gave him a good bit of insight as to what the fox was capable of and if the night went tits up, he would be able to at least modify his plan of attack.

As he watched the fox skin the fox shamefully, he tsked at the lack of aptitude towards such a task. Granted, Taal usually didn’t bother with skinning his meat first as he liked it raw, but on those rare occasions where he did need to skin a particularly tough-skinned reptile, he had practiced it to a fine art.

When the fox was finished, he watched the rabbit get attached to the stick then let the fox deal with it from there. In the meantime, he turned his head to the woman ad then sat on the ground, his stance simple and rested. As he looked at her, he tilted his head again analytically and internally wondered what her story was.

Not being the most subtle of creatures however, he had no problems in questioning it.

“How did you both meet?” he asked simply. It was an interesting pairing he had come across and to find out the background of a human female with such… well, spunk and a shape shifting fox would no doubt have a twist to it. Although he did not care much for history, it at least passed the time.

“You do not seem what I would consider to be normal traveling companions.” He added flatly.

The question was directed at them both, but his shimmering golden eyes remained firmly on the female. The Fox he had heard enough from for the night and he would have liked to have heard the woman’s side of the story.

Although he did reach an open hand to the Fox for him to hand back the skinning knife.
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

Dorcas exhaled sharply through lips stiff enough to keep her teeth from chattering. She gripped the fraying cuffs of her shirt to keep herself still and quell the signs of shivering. Chrishton was making quick work of the rabbit, and soon enough had at least accomplished a basic preparation for the game.

It didn't take a Classical education in rhetoric to know Chris's question was better left unanswered. Dorcas rolled her eyes at the thought of it and turned her gaze on Taal, who was comfortably on the ground. She herself squatted down, the better to keep watch on her cat and pretend disinterest in Taal's prying stare.

The cat was hunched over the discarded, mangled rabbit fur. He licked at the stringy inside of the skin and periodically lifted his nose to chew on a small morsel of salvaged flesh. He seemed content with the scraps, more doglike than cat; perhaps somehow mindful of his lady's needs, or simply naturally inclined to take a submissive posture.

Taal said they seemed like an unusual pair, and Dorcas had to look back at him to remember that he was probably referring to herself and Chrishton, not the cat. He had asked a question, too, about how they came to meet. Dorcas stared darkly at Taal in the clearing. The poor monster was probably more socially needy than he tried to let on, making small talk like that.

"He's my d--" she started to say, but cut herself off as she felt uncomfortable with a lie she didn't want to be true. "Uh, uhm," she corrected herself, "actually we met in jail." The slightly sinister emphasis Dorcas had put on the last word was quickly amended by a nervous gaze around the trees. She was probably safe sharing that information in these parts, but for all she knew there could be Marnian guards lurking just out of sight, waiting for a tip from Taal.

After a brisk glance around, Dorcas looked over at Chris to see if he was following the conversation. For a moment, the tarry smell of unevenly seared meat distracted her thoughts away from trouble. Her stomach seemed to seize at the very indication of something remotely edible, and her gaze turned into a glassy stare at Chris.


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