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Things to do in Marn when you're Wanted

He's my d--

Still holding the rabbit over the fire, Chrishton raised an eyebrow and gave Dorcas a bemused look, although she stopped herself short of an ironic lie.

Uh, uhm

Both of his eyebrows raised, and suddenly he was more interested than Taal in what exactly she was going to say about their situation. He went so far as to turn one ear toward her, the better to hear her cover-ups with.

She didn't lie. She went ahead and told the truth. A complete 180 from the dad thing. He reacted with apparent, though perhaps not genuine, disappointment, and shook his head to go back to paying attention to the roasting meat.

When Dorcas' eyes fixed him with a glassy stare, he caught it from the corner of his eye and wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Usually when women gave him looks like that, it was for something else. No, that look would never come from her park. It had to be the food.

"All y'ladies wanna piece o' m'meat..." he said, turning the rabbit around slowly.
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

“And I am sure they always get the same. Stringy and lacking substance.”

Taal said without missing a beat as he motioned to the rabbit, a small smile in his eyes although his lower face was covered by his scarf. It seemed that he himself was not unaccustomed to the snide comeback as life as a monster had made him quite cynical.

“…although I am hardly surprised that crime and punishment seemed to bring the two of you together. It would explain why you are camping out here with one horse and little in the way of survival preparation.” Taal added and leaned back on a hand, looking over at the meat but turning away to take his mind off of the hunger.

“Your crime – if any – is none of my concern, however.” Taal said with a slight touch of empathy. He had been blamed for actions that he was innocent of himself and so he could not automatically assume guilt with them. Still her admission was a sign of two things, she was either lying or trying to reaffirm that they were hardened criminals in an effort to dissuade him, or she was telling him because she felt she had nothing to hide.

Both of which gestures were lost on the rather cold Taal.

“You could at least give me a name finally, or are you waiting for me to find it out on a ‘Wanted’ poster?”
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

Dorcas felt herself puzzle over that last comment from Chris--"All y'ladies wanna piece o' m'meat . . ." Clearly there was a joke in play, but at whom he was poking fun wasn't entirely plain to see. Maybe he was directing another barb at Taal, calling him a lady, but he might also be including Dorcas. Unwilling to laugh at her own expense, the girl was disinclined to acknowledge the little joke, and she was feeling grumpier by the minute while waiting for food.

Taal followed up with something she didn't quite understand--something about stringy meat. She had grasped the meaning of the first crude joke, but there were levels at play in Taal's witticism that just didn't register with her limited familiarity of the subject. Something about his words made the thought of Mydjeken spring to mind unexpectedly. Dorcas blushed and hastily walked towards Chris as if to deny the thoughts by physically departing them.

Dorcas looked over Chrishton's shoulder to watch the progress of the sacrificed rabbit. It would be dry and probably stringy, but the hollow under Dorcas's tongue ached to have at it anyway. She dropped a hand down to place on Chris's shoulder where her knelt.

She was reluctant to look back at Taal, who criticized their readiness on the road. This was just a pit stop on the way to a place where, supposedly, they'd fit in much better. Better than the elf-thing, certainly, who seemed to be settled in this isolated place, and rightly so.

"Dorcas," she said slowly, and then turned back away from him. She would leave Chris to tell his own information if he was so inclined.

Suddenly struck by a hunger pang and a bout of activity, Dorcas knelt beside Chrishton and reached her hand out over the fire. She aimed her index finger at the curve of flesh that was on the upward arc away from the fire and poked it once before it descended again on its slow oscillation. The flesh sprang back from her touch and didn't mush under her finger. It was at least showing signs of cooking. The girl licked the tip of her finger and inadvertently made a throaty noise of approval at the hint of flavor.

"Poster said Chrishton, so I figure that must be m'name."

Rotating the rabbit as juices began to sizzle through the meat and run down its sides, Chrishton gave Dorcas a playful nudge of his elbow when she reached out to poke the thing.

"'Ave a little patience, Dor. I know what I'm doin' fer a change. Y'wanna poke m'meat ya'll 'aveta wait 'till yer older." He said, with the expectation of an inevitable jab at his old age.

He continued to cook the rabbit in silence for several more minutes until he decided it looked nice and golden, and then pulled it up. With the knife in one hand, he carefully sliced off a two inch piece of the meat off and held it against the knife with his thumb. He held it out to Dorcas then, offering her the first taste.

"What's yer verdict, m'lady?"

Not that it mattered. They had nothing else, and by this point he just wanted to eat, sleep, and be on their way to Keltaris.
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Something about the journey was making a change--however temporary--in Dorcas. Perhaps it was the absence of the toxic personalities of her home in Marn, or the streamlined survivalist nature of outdoor life away from the low politics of the city, or maybe she was just mesmerized by the scent of the meat. Regardless, Dorcas's guard was down.

Her cheeks were red from the combination of dry cold and the heat of the fire. Capillaries that would likely, with age, form blotchy starbursts across the girl's cheeks, tonight merely shone rosily. No comeback to Chris's crass comment was forthcoming. The moments passed in silence. Dorcas even seemed to forget about the nagging threat of a stranger in their midst--for he was strange, introductions be damned.

Chrishton proffered a chunk of meat. If she had been a different sort of girl, she might have done something provocative out of impulse, perhaps taken the meat into her mouth right off his fingers. She was impulsive in her own way, but a certain type of modesty was so ingrained in her psyche that it trumped even her adolescent attempts at shocking behavior. She plucked the meat from his hand with her fingers.

Dorcas took a moment to regard the chunk of food. This was a visceral kind of sentimentality. She bit off half of the thing with her incisors slowly. At first there was the sensation of greasy twine--hot, greasy twine. Then the fibers gave to the pressure of her teeth, and the frayed bits of meat and sinew fell onto her tongue. Dorcas rolled the chunk around in her mouth and gnawed with her molars. It burned a little bit, but the flood of saliva helped with the situation and also softened the wiry rabbit's tough flesh. She swallowed the half-chewed meat through a compulsion to feed her stomach.

"It's--good," she responded before popping the other half of her piece into her mouth. "Really good," she supplemented as she began to chew. By the standards of anybody not wracked with hunger, the stringy meat wasn't very good at all, but Dorcas seemed to be enjoying herself in context.

Only after swallowing her second bit did she look back over her shoulder to eye Taal. She was not feeling too keen on sharing this rabbit with one other person, much less a regular dinner party.

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

Post by Taal on

Taal watched the two of them eating away and seeing the look of distrust and certainly not in any rush to see if he was hungry, he sneered and stood up. Brushing down his clothing, he looked up once more to see the man and the woman and his eyes narrowed.

Humanity – and shifters it seemed – were just as self centered as everyone else in the world. He wondered what small miracle of good-natured self-sacrifice was needed for them to even consider speaking to him with civility. Taal was reminded why he hated humans so much, why he lived out here in the wilderness and now it seemed he could not escape the pink skinned, soft fleshed primates even here.

It was thoughts like that which made his blood boil and considering the smell of freshly cooked meat his mind was starting to race at the prospect of sinking his teeth into something soft and squishy.

The creaking of his bones as they started to respond to his urge to hunt might have gone unnoticed to the female, but probably not to the male.

Turning quickly, he looked over his shoulder at the two of them and did not even bother to speak. It would be wasted words on a pair of unscrupulous, socially inept criminals that would care no more about him the moment they parted company.

Taal was disgusted with himself for sharing his food and after the foxes ‘funny’ calling out of his name, it would be hours before any wildlife strayed near again. No, best to leave them now and move on with his own life then follow the exploits of such a pair.

“Enjoy your meal.” He said coldly as he disappeared into the tree line again, this time to find food for himself. Not even the calling, snide comments of the shifter would call him back. He would need meat before he decided to chew on his newly found human tormentors.

[OOC: You guys can break flow if you want. I have a lot of things going on, so consider me out of the thread for now. I will PM you again when I am ready to rejoin.]
"It is not a matter of good and evil. It is what needs to be done."

"Yeah, that's what they usually say." He said to Dorcas with a sly wink. Dropping his rear down onto the ground, he folded his legs and began to carve a leg off of the rabbit. Juices flowed freely from the thing, staining a few drops onto his pant leg and prompting him to hold the meat further away so that it would drip on the ground instead.

"Telled ya I know what I'm doin'. We'll hit Keltaris in no time. Ya'll like it there. I dun figure yer religious, but they got some temples there ya kin see fer a dozen miles away, all kinds o' spires o' gold'n silver." His recollections were flawed. Not having been to Keltaris in several years, he made up what he needed to fill in the blanks. Keltaris had no silver on its roofs, most of the buildings were governmental, not temples, and what he saw in his minds eye as he thought about it was a jumbled mess of the dozens of other places he'd seen, all competing for a place in his mind as he imagined it. "Real good food too, bein' right on the trade route. They got some folks there really know how t'cook..."

Wresting the leg off the rabbit with a few good twists, he was about to offer it to Taal when the half-troll stormed off after a curt comment seething with venom. Chrishton thought he'd had the half-troll pegged as a reasonable, if decidedly anal, partner. Something wasn't right though, and he had no idea what was eating at the guy. Clearly, he was mistaken.

Once Tall was out of sight, he exchanged a silent glance with Dorcas that said it all. Eyebrows raised, lips curved down and pursed in a mock frown, it was the kind of look one gave behind the back of a crazy person. He shrugged it off and handed Dorcas the whole rest of the rabbit, including the stick it was skewered on.

"Eat up. Ya'll need it tomorrow."

Chrishton finished off the leg and seemed satisfied with it. He knew that what they needed to get off the Sooqui plane alive - more than food - was water. Fortunately he had a way to get some, as long as Dorcas didn't get too freaked out by it.

He flung the leg bone over his shoulder into some bushes, rubbed his hands together to clean them off, and continued to offer Dorcas nothing but confidence and smiles. "Get some sleep, too. I'll watch." He said. Of course, he had no intention of staying awake on watch. The spirits would, hopefully, do that for him.

Shifting backwards on his bum until his back met up with a tree, a gratuitously lazy motion that left a long ass-shaped groove in the dirt after him, he folded his arms and assumed the most comfortable position he could manage. If he had to remain in his human form to keep Dorcas happy, so be it.

He doubted they would be bothered by anyone else in such a barren wasteland, and as the last embers of the fire waned into a deep maroon glow, he shut his eyes and got to sleep.
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Beside Chrishton, Dorcas ate what she was given. She noticed when Taal left, but hardly reacted behind her grease-slick fingers. She was purely ambivalent: on the one hand, they got to eat more rabbit than if they'd had to share, but on the other hand, they couldn't keep an eye on him as he chose to depart. Dorcas gave a long look at Chris as he chewed on his rabbit leg; she was going to have to trust in his protection in a very real way now. They were beyond the petty trials of the brothel.

As he wound a story of what was to come in Keltaris, Dorcas whittled away at the nourishing meat. Her cat had come close to snap up the bits she dropped or discarded. Her movements slowed as her fatigue took over. The necessity of sleep was attempting to overlap the act of sustenance, and it was all Dorcas could do to keep chewing mechanically as her eyelids drooped.

Eventually, the size of her stomach caught up with her appetite, and she couldn't eat any more. Shreds of stringy meat clung to the skeleton, and she lay the mess of bones gently on the ground for her cat or Chris to take up.

She eyed Chrishton blearily, where he scooted up to the trunk of a tree. Through her furball of a cat paced around her in the motions of making a bed for himself, she couldn't rely on the little beast for warmth through the night. She trudged on her woolly knees to meet up with Chris, and she turned herself around to prop up beside him. With her eyes already closed against the offense of the waking world, she wriggled her torso and awkwardly prodded her elbows this way and that in hopes of finding a decently comfortable, possibly warm position.

She settled with her knees drawn up and her arms folded tightly across her chest, one hand slipped under the fold of Chrishton's own arms for the sake of warmth and closeness. Her head nodded down against his shoulder, and she quickly fell into a state of pre-sleep in which she was haunted by many strange thoughts.

The hard ball of meat in her stomach seemed to have opinions of its own that beat softly at her insides. It convinced her that she felt a sleepy, warm need down around where her thighs clenched together out of cold, and that her whole situation would be much more comfortable if she could just see to it; the opinionated phantom suggested, also, that Chrishton was suited to assuaging the pesky void. Dorcas's eyes squinted open for a moment as she stifled the idea with thoughts of her own, that Mydjeken was better suited to all that. A quiet sigh escaped her lips at the futility of that, but her reckless mind was silenced at least, and her sigh gave way to the steady, cold breath of sleep.

The night was cold and quiet. Spirits hovered about the area, watching over their human friends, warding off spirits of another kind. These woods, like so many isolated places on Pal Tahrenor, were home to much more than plants and furry little animals. Other things lurked, seeping in from the astral realm or lingering in a place they called home for a plethora of reasons. Most of these beings were benign and content to merely exist. Others had more harmful intent; to haunt, to manipulate, or, if possible, to consume or kill the weak and unwary.

These latter quarreled with the fox spirits, who taunted and distracted them to keep Chrishton and Dorcas's sleep undisturbed. By the time the first hint of sun illuminated the sky, these beings were exhausted by their infuriating intruders. The would-be tormentors of human dreams had become the tormented, and wanted nothing more than for the fox spirits and their friends to be gone.

Safely protected from spiritual troubles, Chrishton had peaceful dreams. He inadvertently shifted his weight to get closer to Dorcas during the night. Body shifted sideways, head resting over hers, it was the best way to keep warm.

He was the first to wake up, but could not extract himself from her hold without disturbing her sleep. A quarter hour passed before he decided they had to get moving, at which point he started moving, nudging her awake and pulling himself free so he could stand and stretch while letting Dorcas stay where she was.

A fine mist hung in the air, and everything glowed a hazy mauve. It was still cold enough that Chrishton could see his breath.

He went to check the horse next. It huffed at him, perturbed about being stolen from its home and left to sleep in a strange place. At least it had not been spooked during the night. A few pats on its nose let the horse know Chrishton was paying it some attention. After reattaching the cart, he took it by the reigns and led it over to Dorcas.

"Right," he said, pointedly twisting in place to have an exaggerated look around for someone who wasn't around, "lets get movin', Dor. Dunno 'ow long it'll be afore we 'it 'nother town."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Dorcas's sleep was deep and untroubled. The only dreams that haunted her were vague enough to preclude recounting--pulses of emotions and inclinations that evaded definition, and snippets of faceless figures and unknown locations. She hardly stirred through the night.

Cold slices of morning light had cut through the sparse trees and revealed to the day just how bare the canopy of the woods was, and how prone their position. Before Chris shifted around restlessly, Dorcas was already just beginning to wake, slowly. The light irritated her closed eyes enough that she opened them to a lazy squint. Her field of view comprised Chrishton's breastbone and one of his shoulders, and beyond that, a patch of dirt. She gave no indication she was awake, because she was content to stare at the elusive, unfocused patch of dirt, and because she hadn't pieced together a coherent thought yet.

It was a full second after he first prodded her that Dorcas let out a soft noise of protest. She grumbled and tried to drive the blade of her hand between his arm and his ribs again, but he immediately shifted so that this warm spot didn't exist anymore. As he started to get up, Dorcas put out a hand to catch herself from hitting the dirt; they had been leaning on each other most the night.

Thoroughly grouchy at this awakening, Dorcas set about gathering herself in the sourest manner she could manage. She started with the least pleasant side of the list, the better to hold her grudge just a little longer: when Chris had his back turned, she worked her hands up under the edge of her shirt and adjusted the orange linen scarf that supported the weight of her breasts. The thing had bunched and slipped during their travels and the night, and the whole process of adjusting it without disrobing entirely was complicated and uncomfortable. Dorcas hunched her shoulders and scowled as she tugged at the tiresome garment.

The next least pleasant task at hand seemed to be tidying up her clothes of debris. Dorcas shook the hem of her skirt to dislodge fragments of woodsy offal, then attempted to smooth her sleeves from shoulder to cuff while wiping a thin layer of moldy dirt off with her palms.

With her wrist in her hand, she paused to look up at the thin sunlight. It seemed warmer if she made an effort to be comfortable. This moment of reverie was important to Dorcas's getting up with anything but the sourest of moods, so she took it--she squinted her eyes and focused on how the sunlight, conducted by a layer of thin cotton fabric, seemed to warm the very tips on the hairs of her arms and melt the goosebumps there. She exhaled solidly and lumbered to her feet.

Dorcas turned a look of annoyance on Chrishton as he drove the cart over to her--as if she needed a pickup, as if she had requested it. They were operating on his own agenda, and his patronizing favors like this only underlined his priorities--then again, Dorcas realized, she couldn't exactly remember who was the first between them to actually suggest leaving Marn . . . and she should move on from the grudge she was holding for his waking her.

She cleared her throat to speak for the first time that morning. "Fuck . . . sleep's no good out here . . ." she mumbled; she wasn't up to making perfect sense in her sentences yet. It was unclear whether Chrishton was offering her the cart or a spot on the saddle, but she made her intentions clear enough with a firm pat on the horn of the saddle before she hoisted herself up somewhat groggily.

With a sigh, she settled in front him with the same arrangement as the day before. She didn't really enjoy being told what to do, but experience was teaching her that this seemed to be an immutable fact of whatever circumstances she chose. And while she didn't want to let herself feel this annoyance at Chris, she couldn't help but imagine how much more comfortable she'd be at the moment if she had simply made up with Mydjeken; she could be having something hot to drink, or be lying in bed with a book, or even be lying in bed with . . . but--those thoughts were probably just the lingering effects of those strange, vague dreams.

Dorcas focused on clearing her mind.

Dorcas complained about the night's sleep, and Chrishton responded with a protracted "Yeeeaaahh..." He did not seem to empathize much with the complaint, or was brushing it off as trivial. The man was a fountain of energy when he needed to be. Even so early in the morning, regardless of the night's events, Chrishton was full of confidence and vigor. Fully alert at the drop of a dime, Dorcas' own lingering tiredness only encouraged him to act the polar opposite. "Y'get used t'it. Eventually. Dependin' on 'ow far we get, I'll toss t'gether some kinda shelter t'night. Food's gonna suck too. Hope y'liked that rabbit 'cause them's about th'best I kin get 'till we 'it a town."

With her on the horse first, he pulled himself up and started the animal on its way back to the abandoned trade route. Taal was still nowhere to be found, a fact which left him suspicious.

"Wonder where ugly got off to," he muttered into her ear.

Chrishton kept the horse moving very slowly until they were onto the road again. It was having trouble going over terrain with both them and the wagon on its back, and it wasn't worth tiring it out just yet. Open terrain around the road kept the morning mist clinging to the trees at the edge of the thar, and left them with a clear enough view of what was ahead: nothing. Miles of lumpy hills sprinkled with brush and nothing else of note. The horizon stretched flat in all directions but far to the north, where it eventually turned into a mountain range. This could only be seen once they had traveled for several minutes to clear the range of trees, which cut across their path in a longitudinal direction.

"This' Fain. Thar Fain. Near as I kin figure nobody lives 'ere. Means we're outta Shaddin, an' them guards wouldna chase us out 'ere if they wanted to." He killed the time by talking. The operating assumption that Dorcas knew nothing at all about anything on Pal Tahrenor had so far served him well. "We'll be 'ittin' th'Eyropan border in 'nother day I figure. Eyropa's the Western Empire. White folks, mostly human an' elves. Prolly more like what yer used to, if Marn was weird. Dun expect no people 'till we 'it that border either. If we do, Dor, I might 'aveta change again, alright?"
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Dorcas allowed Eyropa to be explained to her, and it seemed to bring her the tiniest bit of comfort in an uncomfortable spot. Humans, she liked. Places with names that sounded like home, she liked. Elves, she could look at sideways and tolerate. White people--well, that didn't stir up a preference one way or the other, because as far as she was concerned, plenty of white folk, brown gypsies, and bronze travelers had shown her in Marn that treachery was easily accomplished at any complexion.

He said he might change again.

"That--I don't wan' that t'happen. Stay with me . . . I won' let ye change . . ." She held her cat up to her shoulder and massaged his scruff as she spoke. Though she wouldn't look at Chrishton, her cat stared over her shoulder at him pointedly as if to underline her assertion.

She changed the topic of conversation suddenly, as she often did when magic came up. "My da gave 'im to me," she said abruptly. "My Wegie. Anyone thinks he doesn' love me--I mean, ye know, pay enough mind t'me--well, fuck-you to them, ye know? He's gi'en me things that have meaning."

Chrishton's frankness and the reality of their situation overrode hes sensitivity toward her emotional condition. There wasn't going to be any debating the issue as far as he was concerned, and he said pointedly, "sorry Dor, but between yer freakin' out an' gettin' killed, I'll take yer freakin' out. I kin fight better like that then I kin like a human, an' if shit 'appens, that's what I'll do."

He kept his eyes ahead while he gave his answer, although the scrutinizing gaze of her cat eventually distracted him enough to make him look back at the animal. There was definitely something about it, something that he might be able to sense if he had a knack for sensing things like that. Instead all he had to go on was a hunch, backed up by that cat's sensitivity to the fox spirits and the way it kept looking at him.

It wasn't too big a curiosity for the jaded old man in him. Just another oddity in a fucked up world full of oddities. It fit in as some sort of spiritual guide for Dorcas just fine, and that's all the explanation he needed.

Chrishton smiled at the cat.

"I'm sure 'e loves ya plenty, Dor. Cat's got that look about 'im, like 'es too smart fer 'is own good. It's real charmin'."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont

Dorcas shifted side to side on the saddle to eventually resettle where she had been. She would do this every half-hour or so to avoid the numbing of her legs. She pulled her cat back down from her shoulder, and he lay across her lap like an oversized ragdoll, seemingly unaware of or uninterested in the prospect of free agency.

"Of course he's smart, my Boy." Dorcas craned her neck to give Chris a look of exasperation. "An' of course he loves me, I'm iverything to him." She turned her head back away from him and stared off into the endless distance. "I mean about my da, tha' people get smart with me 'bout how he's not around." She seemed to be speaking inadvertently about the past as if it were the present, because she clearly had no parents around of any kind, these days.

"Maybe I'm jus' not so needy as them that I need my da spendin' all his time with me jus' to feel right." Dorcas paused heavily after that and when she spoke up again, her tone was unconvincing. "As if I need innybody, right? See me now."

Talk about parents made Chrishton want to talk about his own. He hadn't so much as thought about them in years. Not his father, anyway, of whom he knew almost nothing.

He wouldn't mention it to her. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

"Other people got no business tellin' ya what ya should thinnk 'bout yer own folks. Or 'bout anyone else fer that matter. What ya got is between yerself an' 'im.

"But dun take it too far, Dor. Everyone needs someone. Maybe not t'be with ya all the time, but at least so ya know they'd be with ya if they could. At least so ya know they'd be thinkin' 'bout ya too. Otherwise ya'll just end up some bitter ol' hag.

"I'll be fuckin' damned if I let ya turn inta that."
You are confusing bets and marriages, Madam. One must always honour a bet.
- Valmont


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