Paths that Wind and Wither
« on: February 12, 2021, 10:26:03 PM »
When the order had come from the Dreamer, Lysander hadn't had strong feelings about it. They were one of many, siblings casting out wide to bring all manner of information back to their Lady. The webs were one thing, but accounts from the ground were another, and it was the seneschal's duty to provide. Seneschal tasks had always been fulfilling, pleasant and sometimes exciting. Maybe they should have considered more the Dreamer's somber attitude.

Bring me everything you see, she'd said, touching shoulders and manes with a solemn type of kindness. Everything. From the sickness to the waters and the grasses. Tell me of our people.

Down and out they'd gone, spreading like the threads of the Coven's webs, following animal trails and the edges of dried fields, the bend of shadows. All the lightest feet, the sharpest eyes, the keenest hunters at their Lady's disposal, rooting out information, impressions. It could have been like a game, following clues toward a prize, or a race, to see who returned first.

But the longer they tread those dry and dusty paths, the less enjoyable it became. They hadn't anticipated how seeing it all would feel.

Lysander had always been easy; to please, to fight, to follow, but watching the land peel away from green to brittle yellows and browns, watching the ground crack where water had not been, listening for the animals that should have been there but weren't - it was heavy. A stone in their chest that wouldn't crumble. It was easy to forget, too, how different the environment was outside of their Lady's shadow, beyond the living walls of the tree towers where the coven spun endlessly on. They were able to walk more of it, but always the ability to ascend remained.

The longer they spent out in the land, the more they wanted to return, the worse they felt about it.

Instinct drew them North and East, across one of the District borders, picking across a riverbed they had never before seen dry. Something drew them forward, among brittle trees and leaf litter that crackled and snapped beneath their feet. Animal tracks spun and crossed around them, and Lysander would pick one and follow it until the trail grew too distorted, then pick up another.

It was on one such trail that a flicker of something more than the rare overhead bird brushed against them. They crouched immediately, tail tense and close, ears swiveling carefully to pick up the sounds beyond their own hushed breathing. Dry air moved husky leaves and barren branches, pale in the early noon light; heels up, they stepped lightly over crisp earth, tucking against the shadow of the closest tree.

They sweeping in quick, short bursts with a probe, starting with the white and working up to their Birthright. They preferred the white, for a multitude of reasons, the least of which was that it didn't immediately reveal their strength if a fight was to be had. Not that they wanted to brawl, necessarily, since there'd be no satisfaction in it with their current mood. But needs must, and not everyone responded to the presence of the Dreamer's seneschals with good humor.

If it were someone in a grim mood, they could turn tail and work around them, provided there was space enough to do so.