Earn Your Stripes

Description: for cole

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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  • Played By: Jones

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Earn Your Stripes
« on: June 16, 2019, 08:10:33 PM »
Cutting across the wind current Carthage swept low over the hunters’ heads. A burst of craft was woven into his eagle’s cry so that it knocked them over like matchsticks. That was not enough to frighten them off. Not that he had expected it to be. You didn’t hunt something as dangerous as a griffon if you were faint of heart. Jarring talons snapped a few of their spears as he dove at them again. Still, they did not leave. And the arrowhead buried in the joint of his wing made gaining altitude for escape difficult.

This was far from the first time he had been hunted. It was the first time he had been hit, however.

Every stroke of his left wing sent a pain through his shoulder. Leg numb, but it still worked as he swiped the head off the most daring of the men below. While Carthage did not want to kill them, they were giving him very little choice. Jewels darker than his own trapping him in a corral of shields. Trying to force him to land so they could take another shot at their prize. As a hunter Carthage couldn’t even blame them. Who wouldn’t want that terrifying beak to display as a trophy? Or the honey brown plumage that crowned his head. A griffon was a mighty opponent.

Too bad for them that this one had the intelligence of a man as well as predatory instinct. With another screech that forced them to cover their ears he grabbed one of the men from the center of their group. Riding a jetty up a few dozen yards into the sky he tossed him back down to his mates. He could not transform while they hunted him, and he could not reach them on a psychic thread to tell them they hunted a sentient being. So round and round they went. Until a second arrow caught him in the thigh. Bringing him down to the ground where he fought the last surviving hunter with beak and claw.

Black tongue hanging from his blacker beak he panted with the pain. Sharp and intense at the point where he was wounded. Too much pain to concentrate on shifting. Stuck he limped under the shade of a tall tree to wait it out. Eventually his father would come to see why his weekly hunt was taking so long. Then there would be help. Maybe.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
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  • Played By: dergon

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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2019, 08:36:23 PM »

”What do you suppose that noise was?” Paros asked, tipping skewered fish into her mouth. The skin crinkled in her teeth, tasting like smoke and herbs. The pink flesh was better. Less like licking an herb coated coal. She worked the bones out against the roof of her mouth, bending to the side to spit them into the dirt.

”Just a bird.” Was the only answer she received. Paros wasn’t sure, eyes sliding past her companions to try and see through the thick trees to the west. The were camped in the lee of a hill. A patch of leaning trees breaking up the smoke of their cookfire. The looked battered by ceaseless winds. Crooked and bowed by the pressure. ”Should be wetter than this.” She mumbled to herself. Sitting up on her knees, Paros bit into her fish, holding it between her teeth as she lowered her hood and turned her ears toward the sound.

Maybe a bird. It sounded like a birb. But the noise was too big, especially if they could hear it all the way out here. ”We’re not done eating,” complained her friend before Paros even gained her feet. Knowing already by the look in her eyes what she was going to do. Hood pulled back up, Paros shrugged and bit through her fish, chewing noisily. ”We’ve eaten on the go before. Come on. Something isn’t right.”

Ignoring the groaning about nothing ever being right, Paros abandoned camp and set off toward the noise. Faint hints of other sounds mingling. Battle? A boar bursting through the bushes startling her. She dodged its charge and kept going. It was running from something, since it didn’t turn back to challenge her. It didn’t take her long to find out. Trees breaking up into a more open space. Damp air giving way to blood soaked oxygen. Lip curling, Paros sneezed.

It was a blood bath. A headless body over there. A crushed one a dozen feet from it. A trail that let to a small patch of trees. Dappled shade nearly camouflaging him, her, it. Paros wasn’t sure, and sex seemed a minor detail compared to what. ”The fuck?” Said someone on her right, fingers curling over her shoulder. Paros agreed. ”The fuck.” Probes sweeping forward, Paros called in her healer kit and started forward again.

What was it? Beak like a bird. Body like a beast. Both too big. And too together. She made soft, soothing noises. Sounds she had heard in travels. Combining mothers comforting babes, men comforting animals. The sounds people used to settle others. ”I won’t hurt you.” She promised, crouching several feet away to open her kit on the ground. Each side falling open to reveal even cubbies built into the space. Filled with all the things she might need in a pinch.

Or a catastrophe.

Her companions arrayed themselves behind her. A loose, unobtrusive circle that tried not to spoil the air with worrying. A bottle of cleanser picked up, and a pack of gauze opened, Paros advanced. Carefully.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2019, 11:51:50 PM »


Hope bloomed in Carthage’s chest as something stirred in the distance. In this form he had astounding vision and hearing. His sense of taste and smell, however, left much to be desired. So he knew, not long after their shadows popped into view, that the group moving towards him did not contain his father. Blinking the hazy edges of his vision back into focus he waited patiently. Probes at the ready to spin among their legs. I live. I think. I am Blood. Things he couldn’t not say to them in this body, but needed very much for them to know. If not so that they would help, then so that they would leave him alone to wait.

Spotting tails that slashed the air- his own beating the ground to counter the pain elsewhere- he clenched mentally. Tigers! So they would be other males- war hungry males. Probably come to slaughter the strange-eared Blood he had already strewn across the clearing.  He clicked his beak in frustration as he realized the scene would not be very inviting of trust. If his father didn’t show up soon, he would die. Carthage struggled to his feet. Leaning heavily on the tree to help bear some of the weight.

He was too slow to escape. Adrenaline from the fight all seeped out. Leaving tired muscle and deep puncture wounds in their wake. The threesome wandered close enough for his probes to touch. And he was surprised to see that they were not all men. Their leader, he could tell by the way the other two looked at her for the decision making, was a woman. They took him in with the cautious wonder he expected. Clicking softly at their surprise he laid back down. One wing splayed awkwardly to keep from driving the arrow deeper, the other low on his back. Tail lifted he waved it at them to try inspiring some feelings of kinship. He was half a cat, and he could be wholly Tiger if they spared a second to yank one of these infernal rods out.

Forcing submission into his body language he gave a few pained chirps, wing lifted so the arrows shaft was evident. The smaller he looked, the less frightening he would be. Their leader woman was a healer. All he needed was enough relief to concentrate on the lesser pain of shifting. Then he could show them he was half as much a danger as they feared. She was brave. Humming and clucking at him as she rifled through a healer’s cache. Very good. Brews would work better than Craft. Chirping at her in a small voice he laid his head in the dirt. Looking out at her through one large yellow eye. Pupils going from pinpoints to dinner plates as she stepped into the shade. Speaking gentle words at him the woman came close. He was careful not to move, in case it worried her friends into action. Only a subtle nod of his head to answer her promise.

There was no doubt the arrows would have to come out. Extending his back leg slowly he tried to show her that one was shot too. Unlike the one in his shoulder joint it was buried in muscle. Thick clots of blood dried on the fur where the shaft stuck out. His wing was a lesser wound as far as he was concerned. Based solely on the fact that it hurt less. Translating encouragement over bird sounds was not easy. So he tried a gentle thread of Craft instead. Pulling and pushing her towards his flank. Claws forced to retract in his paws he wiggled his padded toes. Tend this hurt first!

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2019, 04:02:44 AM »

The fuck. Paros smiled. It was a secret smile, hidden by the shadow of her hood and turned away from her companions. It altered the stripes of her face, changing the design subtly. The sentiment was a very good one. Deepened as the creature moved, reacting to their presence. It stood, weight making branches sway as it leaned against a tree. Large hawk eyes watching them warily. Tail waving warning.

It was unfortunate how often people assumed animals were stupid just because they could not speak the same language as they did. They had their own, why did they need any other? It was a language of body. Of chirps and roars. No different than that employed by Blood and Landen. This one, however, showed greater intelligence than Paros would have expected.

”Kindred, maybe?” Paros asked them all. Friends and creature alike. It had returned to the ground, one wing draped unnaturally, as far as Paros could tell. Like a wounded bird. The image offset by the waving lion tail at the rear. ”Curious damn thing.” She said to no in particular, choosing her tools for the job. There were arrows, she saw. One at the wing joint as the creature so kindly displayed for her.

”I see.” She crooned softly, stepping around a moss covered stone. Her boots were soft leather just higher than her ankle, her skirts a multihued and layered affair full of pockets. A leather vest over a long sleeved blouse. Strands of jewelry that rattled when she crouched near by to have a better looked. Hidden in the tangle of beads, stones and shells around her neck, were glimpses of Yellow and Summer-sky.

Paros could see now that he was male, probes finding something familiar in the feel of his psyche. She did not press close, afraid to find no barriers and shred whatever intelligent mind he possessed. He made himself small. Beak clicking, soft chirps encouraging her closer. Very clever. ”And bossy.” Paros pronounced as craft tried to steer her toward the leg he had extended. Claws put away and toes spread in invitation. So he was kindred.

Shaking her head, Paros bathed him in a bit of calm craft. ”I’m sure it hurts, but that one first.” She told him, pointing to his wing. She tried a thread between them on her Yellow, but was unable to establish a link. It did not worry her. She had never been good at psychic communication anyway. And kindred minds were not the same. They way they thought and expressed themselves often hard to understand.

”It’s just a precaution, you understand?” A nod seeing his talons pinned to the ground by craft that was not Paros’. Back legs as well, claws sheathed or not. His beak was still a danger, but she wiggled her hands at the craft that reached for that. She’d use a shield. Faces were more sensitive than feet. Gently, Paros brushed feathers aside until she found bone, adjusting the angle of his wing so she could properly see. She tsked quietly, uncapping the antiseptic and pouring it over the would with only a word of warning.

Bottle slipped into a pocket, Paros gripped the shaft and pulled. Summer-sky following the wood down the metal head, to help guide it out of the joint without further damage. Cartilage was tricky and delicate. Joint damage the hardest to heal. How the world exactly was outside her knowledge, which made the healing harder. Tossing the arrow aside, Paros pressed gauze to the wound, tacking it in place with craft. ”There now,” she soothed, hand running over his flank in comfort.

It swept down his body and over his haunch. Paros following it to the second arrow. Bottle unstoppered again, she doused and pulled a second time. Gauze and calming craft applied. ”Okay. Let him go.” She stepped back, vanishing the bottle and eyeing the beast warily. Would he flee now that the arrows were gone? Paros hoped not. There was still plenty of healing to do. A shield ready in case he lashed out now that she had served a purpose.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 03:55:31 PM »
Kindred was better than senseless beast. Rolling his head towards the woman he gave a well timed chirp. In any other state he would have found her expletives amusing, and her daring quite charming. Stupid of him really, he knew better than to trust women. They only ever lead him to trouble. Unfortunately his suffering was stronger than his instinct in that moment. She was freedom from the pain that held him back from the protection his other form guaranteed. Knowing what he could turn into or not hunters would not take the time to kill him in man-shape; if they did know about his griffon then they would never deny themselves the greater prize.

And he was sure that where there would be more. The Tiger did not take invasion laying down. Outsider men hunting over their border? Never. They would come. Jealousy was as rampant in men as trickery was in women.

Tongue chirping he tried to show her what he needed. That one removed would allow him to change into his more manageable state. The body of an amalgamation was harder to heal than that of a man- and his resistance to healing craft would make it a difficult job to begin with. The woman did not heed his opinion, however. A shake of her head denying his knowledge of self. She thought she knew better. Didn’t they fucking always.

Eyes rolling he blinked up at the green canopy, sighing in frustration. Tried again to direct her to his stretched out leg but found her stubbornly set on the wing first. Warning prickled in his gut but Carthage ignored it with the promise of relief so close. Clucking at her calming craft he wished for a way to tell her it was wasted effort. The thread she tried to reach him with plucked at by a thread of his Summer-sky, since he glimpsed the same Jewel among the many trinkets on her chest.  The psychic link was easy to grasp. Impossible  to respond or hear words along, however. It didn’t matter, he understood her Common just fine.

Just fine indeed. Her next words making his feathers stand on end. The warning rippled harder in his stomach, tossing his heart up into his throat. Too slow to stand when instinct told him to flee. Wings beating the air he screamed at the treachery. Nailed to the ground! The indignity alone was insult enough, indignation bubbling from his barriers he strained at the tethers. Fed by darker jewels than his own, or greater talent, he didn’t know or care. They held him there either way. If they didn’t trust him then he would wait for someone else’s help but he would not be a sitting duck. Bad enough he was a giant target that had been hunted once already that day. Sharp beak clacking he jerked his head away from the ropes that reached to tether that too. Muscles fighting and claws extended again so he could break the dirt and soil under his restrained feet.

Head tossing he beat it at the tree in his rage. He knew better. He knew better than to trust strangers, or a Tiger woman. Every Darkness damned time! Precaution! If he were going to rip her face off he would have already. He certainly felt much more obliged to do so now than he had before. Only the fear of being found faster by the hunters kept him from piercing the lot with bird screams.

Dismay momentarily blunted by surprise he swung his head around to hiss at her demanding hands. It would have been easy to knock her over as she tried to set his wing and view the place where wood met flesh. They would have killed him though, these people that pinned him to the ground after acknowledging his sentience. Rumbled feathers twitching he flinched at the damp heat that pooled over the wing wound from her bottle. Pale eyelids narrowed over honey colored irises he clicked his tongue at her angrily. Distrust seething as openly as his wound bled once the arrow was pulled free.

He snapped his beak at her soft words and petting hands. Wing yanked away to fold over his back as she moved. Too hurt to be relieved, and too unsure of what they might do next now that he was caught. Caught! So stupid. He could have kicked himself, but he couldn’t even lift a foot to do that. Bowing his head towards the ground he closed his eyes and seethed. Castigating himself internally for this mistake and a thousand others that all added up to this moment of degradation. Death would have been so much easier, damn the Doleri.

The back arrow came free much more quickly. Carthage found it brought him no comfort. Only more fear and frustration as calming craft buzzed his barriers to no effect. Wings flared he used them to force a radius around his body as soon as she applied her gauze. Feet straining to leave the ground he slunk around the tree the moment he was unleashed. Every step burned but he had to get away from them. All his hawkish clicking turning to growls as one throat melted into another. Talons turning to hands that skinned themselves on the bark of the next tree. Pulling himself upright on legs that trembled with the effort. Harder to make it to the next tree when his body was so much smaller. He pushed off one and caught a face full of the next. Sweat making his hair stick to his cheekbones. Ears twitching and tail lashing at the air in unspent emotion. Channeling the hurt and the humiliation and the anger into movement he forced his stiff leg and throbbing shoulder to cooperate despite battering them further. Locking his eyes on the next tree to reach, and then the next. Small goals that would carry him the miles up river to home if he didn’t stop moving long enough for the pain to cower him.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2019, 05:20:49 PM »

”I know.” Paros clucked in sympathy, watching him thrash. Mindful of where she put her body in relation to his kicking. More worried about his free beak than anything else, it had a wicked curve and was easy three times the size of any proper bird’s. But he did not turn it on her, beating his rage against the tree instead. Paros scolded, moving his wing away so she could see the arrow better. ”There is no need for that!

“Or that!”
Paros ducked, away from his hissing, shield bubbling up around her. She caught a glimpse of the sheered edges of his beak and shuddered. ”I have to see to heal!” Mother Night he was vicious avian. Paros couldn’t blame him, but none of her appreciated his hissing and gnashing. He was wounded, trapped, and probably afraid. But she couldn’t help him if he bit her head off. ”Be calm and it will go quicker.” She didn’t tarry. Dousing his wound and pulling the arrow as quickly as she could without causing him further harm.

”There. I’m sorry.” He was horribly unhappy. Paros felt for him, but sometimes life required a little suffering. He did not want soothing. Wing snatched away and folded down. It laid flat as was intended without an arrow buried in the joint. Not expecting thanks, Paros ignored his bad manners and moved on to the next. This one didn’t require much care. Muscle was hardy. A scar was likely but no deep damage to impair his abilities. Which was probably for the best since he all but slapped her away when it was over.

Hand shielding her face from the wind his wings made, Paros stumbled back. Caught by hands beneath her arms before she could tumble backward onto her ass. ”Let him go. He probably thinks we’re going to eat him.” Hunted and wounded, but she didn’t trust his good will any farther than he did hers. ”I’m unharmed.” She promised, brushing away hands and concern alike. The creature stumbled away, veering into the trees and out of sight. Paros could still hear him though.

They all could. ”It’s not right.” She said, hands holding her hood high so she could listen better. ”Wait here.” Shadow quick and quiet, she went after him, following the broken trail he left. It shrank as he went. Limbs snapping at lower points. Flattened grass track growing narrower. Until there wasn’t a beast, just a man stepping face first into a tree. ”I wasn’t done, you know.” The fuck indeed. Paros followed him, matching his stumbling pace and trying to catch him before he could slam into another tree.

”That’s one hell of a trick.” It was him. The wounds were the same. Just arranged differently. Her gauze still clinging to his leg. A corner congealed to his thigh by blood. The rest of it flapping uselessly. ”Sit down. You won’t get far that way and you’re only hurting yourself more.” How had he done it? Was it craft? Something else? She would have assumed it a trick if she hadn’t touched him before. And there wasn’t time enough for this to be the trick.

Or could it? Paros’ probes swept out around them. It was just the dead men and her friends. The glimmer of another heart beat far enough away she was unconcerned.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2019, 08:12:19 PM »
Sorry. Pft. Carthage did not believe her an ounce. Sadly his range of expression was limited- he couldn’t really scoff at her from the head of a bird. So he bristled his feathers and the ridge of fur down his spine instead. People that forced their will on others were never sorry about it, only sorry when those other people reacted. Which he did, in a dozen small displays of his anger that did not deter her any. Probably because they did not show him even the consideration they would give a person. Impatient for his chance to be gone he unfurled his wings with intent.

And he was not going to pretend to be sorry.

Head whipping towards her he snapped at her further insult. Eat him! Contrary to his recent behavior he was not that stupid. Perhaps he should not have put it passed them. Either way he didn’t want to look at any of them a moment longer. Nursing his hurts close to his chest he moved on. Before the healer and her companions could get anymore insulting ideas or worse: the local coalition arrived to investigate.

The Doleri that had trained Carthage had been a slow shifter. Hours writhing before she could change; then weeks in her griffon skin stocking up for winter. As a hunter and a man he had not been able to tolerate the vulnerability of being in between states for that long. Practice and endurance had allowed him to cut those hours into minutes. Then necessity had trained those down to one. Survival always hinging on how quickly he could turn to claw and feather. That was how he transformed now. Bird legs collapsing into Tiger arms. Unpainted because stripes required loyalty to a queen. If the Dreamer had dreams of Carthage they lay in stone tablets, never to see his skin.

For a few yards his leg dragged. Once he had struggled to his feet, claws biting into a tree to leverage him upright, he knew that he could not stop. If he so much as rested for breath it would be agony to get moving again. So he let his ears lay flat to block out the healer’s tracks behind him while he tried to sort out what to do. Going on was pointless if he couldn’t go home, and he could not lead this woman to his cottage. Breath huffing through his nostrils he bared his cuspids at the next tree. Using his good leg to lunge towards it, claws flashing as they sank into the wood.

”Yes. You. Are.” He grunted as he launched towards the next tree. Taking a few inches of skin off his cheek when he dodged her hands, causing his own grip to slip. Four deep gashes notched into the tree before he found his footing. His inner thigh bruised, receiving the brunt of the impact. Stopping for trousers was really not an option now that he was being followed. If he was quiet she might lose interest. Though experience spoke to the opposite. Women always had to know what he was. How he did it. What he could do for their uses. With another grunt he curled his tail down his ass and up his front. Dark tuft blending into the thick curls under his navel. Helping to keep his most sensitive places from catching the next hit.

At least the trees were getting closer together. ”No.” He shook his head, eyes shifting to the path behind them in search of her companions. No scent or sight of them- but they could hold him down so they could hide from him too. With a groan he reached for a sapling that bowed under his weight, jaw locked as he grumbled. ”I’ll get away and that’s far enough.” He argued. Hissing he cast a look over his shoulder at the pass of her probes. Was she summoning them?

Carthage tried for fast. The ache started settling in to something more manageable, or his body was going numb. Either way he could make it to the river then lose her in the muddy caves beneath its surface. Yes, that was a good plan, he decided. Right before he stumbled on a slick root. Falling forward he threw both hands out, the left arm buckling immediately under the pressure. Clot dislodged it bled through her gauze patch. The hole itself too far back for him to reach. So he clutched his entire shoulder, rolling onto his side with a stifled cry. Fuck his fucking life everything was going wrong today. Forehead to the forest floor he stirred dead leaves and damp dirt with every breath. Panting silently he reached his Summer-sky out on a probe. Too far from home still for his father to be reached. It wasn’t fair. But his life was so often not that it was just a bitter second nature to swallow what survived of his pride. He did not invite her to help, just lay quietly, face turned away from the healer and his wound.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 04:34:06 AM »

They said men were stubborn. Paros did not disbelieve. She had met a lot if men, and plenty of them had been stubborn. She just knew women were more so. This one, she, her, Paros, especially. If she were not, she would not have survived. Her life would have been in vain. Don’t, they said, disbelieving. But Paros did believe and did do. No, they said, being stupid, but Paros knew better.

”I’m not, really.” He avoided her hands. Slick skin skimming her fingers as he threw himself from her and opened his cheek against a tree. Paros sighed. She liked to call it patience, when people asked. But it wasn’t always patience. That was more of a kindly waiting. Sometimes her waiting was much less compassionate. That was stubborn. She also didn’t do it out of spite. There were reasons!

Like not letting him die. Calling in a blanket, Paros trailed him, wincing as he battered his body to bits trying to get away from her. He wouldn’t. Not unless he took to the wing, and she didn’t think he could, else he would have already. ”You will get dead, which really isn’t far at all. Just let me tend you.” He was a mess. A tiger mess. Tail slipping up his legs to shield his spear. Paros gave the blanket a silent shake. ”Here.” She tried offering. But he was stubborn, and a little stupid.

She flinched as he fell. The smell of fresh blood spilling over the old as he went down. Making small sounds of sympathy, Paros crept close. She pitied him. Hurt and angry he was too foolish to accept help until her had no choice. And even then he was most unpleasant about it. She smiled as she knelt beside him, blanket covering him. ”I’ve spare clothes in my cabinet, if you have need.”

And no healer kit, she realized. She had left it on the ground. This was why she never traveled without checking! This very reason. She should have left it in her cabinet to be taken out as needed. Huffing, Paros dug in her pockets and cabinet both, turning up a few useful items. The bottle of antiseptic. A canteen of water. A crisp cotton skirt. ”Have a drink.” She tempted, adjust the blanket so the whole of his lower half was covered.

Then she began tending a wound she had already seen to. Rinsing it clean carefully, she tore off a piece of skirt and pressed it into the wound, holding it with her Yellow while she tore the rest into strips. As she worked, Paros dipped into her power, drawing healing craft up and pouring it down into the wound. Starting at the deepest point and working her way up. ”My name is Paros. What’s yours?”

Overhead the trees came alive with sound. Rain pattering against the leaves in a winter shower. Paros scooted closer, body shielding his from what little of the rain made it through the canopy. Found her craft still sealing the root of his wound when she should have been working higher already. ”Odd.” Was he resisting her? She didn’t sense anything from him but broad probes and frustration.

”How does your leg feel?” She wondered.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 03:10:34 PM »
There it was again. Her blatant disregard for his will. A chronic state of being for women in general. How a few months of peaceful living had led him to forget Carthage couldn’t say. If he had not been determined to deny her completely he would have let her waste her craft on the wounds. Just for the opportunity to be snide. He didn’t trust her, and he definitely didn’t trust her friends. So he soldiered on in silence instead. Or at least without talking to her. He made plenty of grunts and groans as he moved away from the clearing.

He regretted transforming too soon. The coalition would have tracked him more easily, sure, but if he had flown away this nagging healer wouldn’t be badgering him with blankets and pity noises. Talking at him once more as if she knew what was better for a man she didn’t even know! Pretending she knew anything about him at all. Snorting he shook his head. ”Some priestess you are.” He had already gotten dead it wasn’t so bad. It had been very, very far away. Besides, he didn’t have time to stop for her pointless meddling. Because he didn’t have answers for the coalition, and he couldn’t explain his presence on their land except with the truth. He doubted they would take kindly to two grown men out there hunting and fishing without offering their spears to the coven’s needs. Carthage had no intention of living that life again.

It did put a shot of gritty pleasure in his stomach that the coalition would be swooping in to find her inconsiderate friends, mates, whatever they were in a body strewn meadow, however. He hoped they tied them down before they skinned them alive.

Which was sort of how his shoulder felt as it hit the ground. Biting his forearm he damned the woman. This one and all the ones that had come before. He could have been much more careful if she wasn’t harassing him. Instead his hurrying had made his injuries worse. The metallic zing of his own blood was strong  on his senses. Maybe even heady but he was too dizzy from bleeding out and falling to tell. Rubbing his scrapped cheek in the dirt he sighed at the healer rudely. Eyes rolled so hard they trembled in his sockets. ”What I needed was for you to listen, or to leave me the fuck alone. You haven’t done either of those things, so no, I won’t be needing anything else.”

He had clothes! What sort of idiot would he be not to have something so basic in his cabinet? The arrogance was astounding on these people. Just heaping opinions of ignorance on him to suit their perspective. Had watched him turn from griffon to man yet still behaved as if it were just a run of the mill Tuesday and he were some stupid kitten. It did nothing to improve his attitude. Nor did the very long time she took. At the very least now he would get to do his sneering.

Ignoring her offer of water he rested on his stomach. Using the time to take fuller stock of his condition. To catch his breath. Calculating how much a lost day would affect their food stores as they prepared for the winter floods. On cue the air began to turn. Fragrant, and heavy with the promise of rain on the verge of falling. He did not flinch as she soaked his shoulder in the same potent brew as before. Cloth tucked into the hole, a method he had seen employed on his craft resistant wounds before. She did not pack it deeply as the landen medicine men had done, however. Resorting instead to her craft.

The rain started. A light downpour that made him doubt it would last. For over a week the sky had opened up off and on for hours at a time. Any day now a real monsoon would roll in from the coast. Their jungles would turn to bogs. The river would flood. Word of mouth said the south was underwater. Which was why he was hunting twice a week and fishing five. Trading in bulk to stock their dry goods in preparation to last the season. Flying home this time had obviously been a bad idea. Pulled from the thought by her comment his lip curled, face still turned away. Or you just don’t know everything?”

He knew that she was not entirely wrong. It was odd. He was an oddity. But if he had to eat his pride he would hang onto his pettiness all the longer. ”Feels like it was shot through with an arrow.” Voice low he pivoted his ears to a sound in the distance. A quiet snapping of twigs. There were no birds singing. Only a chorus of frogs praising the rain. Not eerily quiet, but a wrong amount of quiet. Carthage worked his good arm up so he could get his elbow under him. Pulling away so he could sit up to see. Someone, or someones, were coming. Out of range for his probes to tell who. Too far too see or smell. He didn’t need to. He recognized the silence of animals hiding from predators.

Bristling in agitation at the unknown approach he sat on his right hip so he could deal with his left leg. The gauze was filthy. Black soil caked into mud by his blood. Peeling it off he snatched the bottle the healer had used from the ground by her knee. Stopper ripped off with his teeth to douse this wound too. Watching how it filled then spilled over he judged the depth. From his cabinet a small satchel fell into his lap. Inside he kept the sort of supplies that would actually mend his wounds. ”Do you know how to sew?”

There was no way he could stitch up his shoulder on his own. Even with craft to guide the needle. ”Craft will take forever to work on me, and I need to go.” Threading a strand of green silk through a curved needle he set to work on his leg. Wincing as pushed the point through one side of the wound to the other. Skin pulled together by the strand then tied of. A claw clipping it so he could make the next stitch, over and over until he had sutured the wound closed. Twitching his ears turned away from the coming silence to catch a faster, less secretive approach. Summer-sky weaving to the point he stroked a familiar psyche. ”Carthage!”

”Da.” He answered. The old cat prowling into view. He was gray instead of gold these days. Scarred and bent at the spine. But he still moved fast when he braved his rickety joints. ”Da, stop yelling. Someone’s coming.” His tone implied it was someone he did not want to be found by. Squinting through the play of light and shadow Gondar loped over to frown down at the mess.

”Looks like someone already come. What the Hell happened?”

Rubbing his temple Carthage sighed. ”This is Paros. She’s just leaving.” He told her pointedly. ”I was on my way home and ran into hunters from over the border. Coalition is going to be here any minute.” He reached up to his father for a hand, which Gondar did not give. Offering it to help the woman up instead.

”Leaving to go where?” He spoke to Paros with a soft smile. ”You should come home with us. The river is going to breach the levee. That’s why I’m out here looking for Thage. This place’ll be five feet under in an hour.”

Carthage hissed, casting his father a dark look and shaking his head. ”Bullshit. It’ll be a foot, at the most.” They could go climb a tree! It was no secret the bulk of the territory flooded when the rains came. If they weren’t ready that was their problem! ”Besides its not just her, there are two more unless the coalition has skewered them already. We can’t feed them.”

They argued in hushed hisses. Not all winter, no, but they could be fed until the storm passed. Why should they? Why shouldn’t they? Carthage was happy to lay out his complaints. The insult and danger of being pinned down when he had been nothing but amicable. Gondar sided with the strangers over the sensibility of  psychic tethers when dealing with giant predators.

”No!” Temper rising he limped towards home. ”She looked me right in the eye and said she thought I was kindred.” He nearly jabbed himself gesturing at the socket. ”You don’t do that to something with feelings. It isn’t right. I can answer a fucking yes or no question even if I can’t work a thread. Two seconds! It would have taken two seconds to ask if I could lie still while she worked. But no. Let’s go the asshole route just because we can.” His ranting went on, fading as he put distance between them. If he’d had the darker Jewel, if he’d been down then the coalition showed up, if the levee had broken earlier. A dozen ifs that had not happened, but would have spelled some sort of disaster for one or all of them.

”Sorry, Lady, He doesn’t mean any harm. His ego is twice as beat up as the rest of him. You and your friends should come with us.” His body leaned in the direction his son was heading. Hand extended in invitation. ”If Thage says the coalition is coming, they’re coming. Plus the water really will be deep here soon.”

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2019, 04:09:38 PM »

He was brimming with bitterness. Paros refused to take any of it personally as he lashed out at her. And lashed out at her. And lashed out at her. Little bursts and torrents alike. His anger bubbled up, spilled over, and was swept in her direction. Breathing deeply, Paros refused to be angry back. Or even hurt. The second was admittedly harder, but she had some years practice at putting the rational above the emotional.

”Very well.” Was the dispassionate response she gave him, going about her work anyway. He could protest all he wanted, but it was obvious to anyone he needed a healer. And some clothes. Unless he preferred being naked. Glancing skyward, Paros shrugged. She’d seen stranger things in her travels. Dealt with angrier males too. He’d gone quiet and pouting while she worked, ignoring her introduction as he rubbed dirt into the scratches on his face.

Paros rolled her eyes, quick to close lids over them so he would not see. It was rude and unprofessional. But really? He might was well rub salt in the wound too. Attention turning the wound she had at hand, Paros minded her work. She could deal with his cheek later if he stopped being an ass. Which seemed unlikely. So did her managing any healing at all. It just didn’t take. Mending slower than anything she’d experienced before. Hardly half the work done than she usually would have accomplished.

”I’ve never claimed to know everything.” No one did. Paros eyed him suspiciously. He wasn’t actively doing anything to block her craft, far as she could tell, but he didn’t seem surprised by her lack of success either. Which meant he knew something he wasn’t sharing with her. Like his name. And his manners, possibly. ”How surprising.” Paros said flatly, trying to fit bandages around him since the healing was so slow. She didn’t get the chance though. He was moving again. Ears tracking a sound and body straining after them.

Paros gave up and offered a brief prayer for his health. It was in Mother Night’s hands now, since he was being such a stubborn idiot. Blanket pushed away so he could steal her antiseptic and dump it over his leg. Paros sighed, watching the bottle empty into the wound and rinse it clean again. Eyes drawn the bag in his lap, Paros blinked, and then looked to his face. ”Of course.” Who else would mend her clothing?

This time it was the patient who needed stitching. Paros made a face, mouth and nose twitching in distaste. ”If that’s what is required.” She took a needle and thread, trying to stitch his shoulder except he kept moving to sew up his leg. Paros nearly screamed. Closing her eyes, she counted the time it took him to sew his leg shut, cringing when he cut the thread with his uncleaned claw. When he was done, she gave bis shoulder a jab and sewed it neatly shut with swift, tidy stitches. The cotton she had pressed into his mouth vanished into her cabinet.

”You could clean that wound on your face,” she was telling him when another tiger came out of the bushes. Paros startled, claws extended in surprise. The men seemed to know each other, however. Greetings exchanged in relief. The father then. Putting away her claws, Paros smiled at him. Eyes glinting in Carthage’s direction as he excused her from the gathering. Like his father, she ignored him, accepting the hand up.

”Pleasure.” She greeted, shaking her skirts out. Eyebrow arching at Carthage, Paros offered him the hand up he was looking for. ”Five feet? From this little drizzle?” Carthage didn’t agree either, arguing and hissing with his father, Paros quite forgotten with a new target to vent some of his upset at. Mostly arguing against the invitation extended to Paros and her companions. ”We have our own supplies,” she offered, looking back for her friends.

She could feel them coming. Even more silent and cunning that herself. Pulling her hood back, she turned her ears in direction Carthage had been listening, but if there was anything to hear it was drowned out by his ranting. His father was much more amenable. ”No one ever lies still,” she told them both with a vague smile. They were so very unalike, she couldn’t help but be amused.

”I’m sorry I upset him.” She told the old man, accepting his arm and tucking into it so he could lean on her if he needed. ”Just for an evening. I will weaving him a good healing web to help things along and then get out of your fur.” Ears swiveling, Paros tracked her friends by feel more than sound. Felt them flanking them from the rear, but nothing hunting their steps.

The Darkness hung heavy to the east. Paros looked toward it. ”Soon.” She promised. Just a short detour. She patted the old man’s hand in apology for her strange talk. ”I had forgotten about the winter rains.” It drove them men into the trees, and up into the cities if the women. She wondered why these two were not with their womenfolk. ”Are you preparing to ascend?” She asked politely.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
  • warlord
  • Played By: Jones

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    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2019, 02:43:20 AM »
”Yet you’ve had no problem ignoring me as if you know better.” Rolling right over him to do as she pleased. Wasting her Craft and his time. Turning a hurt into a humiliation. Then trailing after him to make sure she rubbed it in. Teeth gritted tight he glared at tree roots. Head still turned away in stalwart determination. He thought, and snarked, and waited for her to give up. Body rising just before she did to help him concentrate on distant sounds that were growing nearer.

It put him in a hurry to get back on his feet. The most effective solution was not the most appealing one. Sutures hurt to put in then itched while they healed. There was also the annoying inconvenience of not being able to see his shoulder wound. Which meant he couldn't direct the needle. Since she was there and rudely insistent he put her to work doing something actually useful. ”Then sew.” He said, shaking the bag in her direction; still uninterested in looking at her face or meeting her eye.

There were more needles in the bag. The spool of silk returned to it as soon as he had cut a length. ”It’s better than wrapping it up in cotton and hope.” He accused, a glance letting him read her disapproving expression. Shaking his own head he set to the task of closing his leg up. This woman had some nerve. ”Well. Do it if you’re going to do it, go away if not.” He huffed between stitches when he noticed she was sitting idly by. She didn’t start though. Not until he had finished his leg by tying a strip of her torn up skirt around his thigh and sat up to scowl over his shoulder. Watching her pick out the cotton packing then prod the needle into his skin Carthage sat without so much as a flinch.

”It’s just a scratch.” The dirt crusted into the skinned patch of cheek, keeping it from bleeding. There was no pain. So Carthage paid it no mind. Much more focused on greeting his father. Who left him sitting on the ground to purr at the healer. Hand dropping back into his lap he called trousers in from his cabinet. Putting them over his ankles as he resolutely ignored Paros again. The hollows of his cheeks ached. Not from the bruises or scratches but from a bud of resentment. Swallowing his groans he went from hip to knees, pulling his pants on as he went. The button clasped as he pushed on his good knee to get up to his feet. Effort making his face clammy and hot.

Which only added to his disgruntled expression as his father went inviting the people he was trying to get away from into their home. The home Carthage had built so that they could live away from exactly this sort of treatment. It seemed his feelings were on the bottom of everyone’s list of importance today. Finger wagging at the sky his father explained, ”No. From the river. It’s starting to spill over already. The levee is all dirt. It’ll erode faster the more water comes over, which is just going to make more water come over. I’ve been around the longest, I know how deep it gets.”

”Da, if it flooded five feet out here four months of every year there wouldn’t be trees.” The son pointed out, good arm motioning around the thick copses of evidence around them. Frowning his father counterpointed with the fact that trees liked water. Since he wasn’t going to banish the idea discussing the weather Carthage tried turning it to logic instead. Finding no more ground there. 

The healer even had the gall to insert herself in their family squabble. Closing his eyes in frustration Carthage smiled, ”See. They have supplies. They’ll be fine right back wherever they came from.” That was far from good enough for Gondar, however. Scolding his son’s manners he cited his aching joints. There would be a storm. They couldn’t let them sleep out in that. So they had their words until Carthage felt a wave of nausea working up his spine and gave up. He was not going to vomit in front of this nosy woman. Her friends were so close he could smell them. And he had already learned the hard way that you couldn’t make anyone care about your heart wounds. No matter how deep they ran.

”Right. I forgot. You know everything- and apparently everyone in the world too. Good for you.” Carthage seethed, baring his teeth so hard his nose wrinkled at her grinning. Turning away from them he tossed his arms up in defeat. ”Do what you want.” He said as a parting shot. He would do as he wanted. Starting with leaving his father to shrug apologetically in his wake. Heaving a sigh that ended with a patch of phlegm Gondar tried to excuse his boy and stand up for him at the same time. Even if he didn’t think he was right. ”Not a hard thing to do, I’m afraid; this griffon business happened to him young. And I’m sure you can guess how the coven put that gift to use. Made him awfully keen to get some autonomy.”

Patting the arm she slipped around his Gondar watched Carthage lope ahead. Back slick from the increasing rain and body dappled as he moved through shadows. ”Try not to take it personally. And you’ll stay until it’s safe to go, however long that takes. We’ll enjoy the company.” He was quiet as her companions fell into step behind them. Watching their presence set Carthage’s tail to flicking the air in frustration. ”For the record- it never hurts to give someone a choice before you pin them down. Even if they have talons bigger than your arm.”

Following her gaze he tried to see what it was she saw. He couldn’t even begin to guess. And she made no effort to explain so he had to assume it wasn’t his business. ”Oh, not us. They pushed us out of the coalition when Carthage wouldn’t fight anymore.”

”Shush.” Carthage gripped up ahead of them.

”Don’t interrupt. ”Da, I mean it-” ”Thage, enough! As I was saying, we had to make our own up to get. He’s built...” Voice fading under his son’s hand Gondar grew still as he sensed them too. Soft steps padding over the land. Men, at least ten, spears at the ready. Eyes searching as they walked. Spread a few yards apart to sweep over the widest area they could. Probes ahead of them. Carthage barely managed to bubble them in shields before the first Rose probe slipped by. A stroke of good luck placed them squarely between warriors. The small party slipped right by their filters. One hand cupping his father’s mouth Thage rolled his Summer-sky against his chest with the other. The shield wrapped tight around all five of them until the coalition had passed.

Then he let the layers dissolve, moving back to the lead without another word. Even when they reached the riverside cottage. Which finished Gondar’s forgotten sentence. From the ground it was hard to see the house. Carthage had spent weeks angling the spiraling planks that led up to the crown of the tree where the small house hid. From head on you couldn’t see the stairs at all. Gondar couldn’t scale a tree anymore. So the platforms ringing the tall oak were necessary. Today, Carthage was glad for them. Making his own climb easier.

By the time they got inside the one room house Carthage was running his head under the faucet. Dirt and blood washed into the sink. Soap coated over his face and arms and chest he cleaned himself beside an open fire place. The rest of the space was more welcoming than the chilly corner he made for himself. Fur lined furniture. A smattering of books and tools. A few big windows. It was a good, clean space. Not long lived in, but built by hard work and love. Easing into an armchair Gondar covered his mouth with a handkerchief to suppress a coughing fit. When it passed he wheezed at Paros with a grin, ”You  said you forgot about the rains. Have you not been in Tigrelan a while?” What a pity. They were always short on healers.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2019, 04:57:16 PM »

She had forgotten in her years away. Like the rains, the fighting of Tigrelan had become a distant memory. Shapeless. More emotion than real memory. It had not been as violent in her village. The real fighting always on the edges. Her home a bubble. Now she remembered. The hot tempers of her people. Even in a place where the sexes had lived in peace. But especially outside of it.

Son and father fought. Carthage finding more and more ways to insult her. Anger like a storm. More violent than the one seething on the horizon. Paros bore it as well she could. Everyone was allowed their feelings and opinions. The first could not be argued with. The second Paros did not have the energy to battle. He was set on finding fault with everything she did. There were not enough years in the realm for her to argue it.

”I can imagine, yes.” Blood and violence. The way of her people. It had been a very long time since Paros had felt any sort of kinship with them. Between her absence and their way of life, it was hard to find peace in being home. Hood still drawn over her ears to hide them despite their common place in Tigrelan. A coven would he greedy for a warrior who could shift shape and become a menace from the sky. And when one had what the others did not, war usually followed. ”I’m surprised he shared the knowledge. Or that they let him go.”

There were ways to make men fight, even when they didn’t want to. It was not beyond a queen’s power of compulsion or a black widow’s brews. ”You might.” Paros smiled, not an ounce of bitterness in it. Behind them, a friend picked up her abandoned blanket, shaking it out and vanishing it into his cabinet. Their presence inspiring the father to scold her as well. She canted her head his direction.

”Will you put my guts back in when the pain proves greater than their will?” It was a lesson she had learned early, and the hard way. Scars let in her skin so she would have a reminder with her always. A wolf’s maw coating her bicep. Her hand patted his arm. No ill will meant by the words, just opinions that took different paths. Paros wanted to honor the feelings of others, but she had to protect herself as well. Dead healers didn’t do any healing.

Ahead of them, Carthage complained. Another bout of bickering set off. Closing her eyes, Paros prayed for patience. Turning as Carthage came up beside them and cupped his hand over his father’s mouth. Behind her she heard knives slide free of sheaths. Felt shields rise around them. Hunters. Turning, she looked at her friends, hand stroking the nearest chest in comfort. It didn’t matter who it belonged to. The comfort was more for Paros than the other body. Arm tight around the father’s.

They passed without noticing the tight knit group. The walk a more somber one afterward. Down to a river, where a cottage was perched in the trees. ”Clever.” Paros nodded in agreement. They paused at the base of the stairs. Letting go of the old man, she joined her companions. Healer kit handed over as she smiled ruefully. ”Thank you.” Soft words exchanged before they followed the pair up. One slipping ahead to help the old man.

Inside, their bodies filled the room up. Carthage at the sink, his father in a chair. The travels standing awkwardly in the doorway. ”Sit. See whats for sharing in our kits.” Paros set her own on the table, a brew pulled out and held up to the light. She swirled it, popping the cork and pouring crushed herbs into it. ”Not in a long time, no. Here, drink this. For your cough.” She began laying out lengths of spider silk to weave a web for Carthage’s wounds, eyes on his father as she considered his need for one as well.

”How long have you had it?” Scooting out a chair with her hip, Paros slid into it and began braiding. She looked into her case and paused, pulling out a paste. ”Put some of this on your cheek.” She told Carthage, tapping it on the table before she went back to braiding, Summer-sky twining with her Yellow as she wove craft and strands together.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
  • warlord
  • Played By: Jones

    flight fighter
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2019, 01:42:45 AM »

Back to their conversation Carthage chewed his lips. Eyes hot with the perceived judgment in her words. Ego too tender for taking it any other way. He said nothing. Only hobbled on faster, until his head pounded with the pulse of pain in his limbs. So loud it drowned out their words, voices becoming a steady hum of background sound. Sweat leaked into his eyes as he forced himself onward through the throbbing in his leg and shoulder. On and on until his rounded ears caught a new sound in the distance.

Behind him Gondar gave the healer’s arm a squeeze. ”There was a girl. Long story, short, they figured out fast she was the way to get him to behave.” He said with a sad smile. ”And they didn’t just let us go.” Old voice sticking around the edges he cleared it with a forced cough. The girl, their departure, all the pieces that had turned Carthage wary of others, those were details not even he would tell to strangers. Genial and open as he tended to be he was a father first.

”Well if they can work a tether on a patient, they can work a shield on you instead. You’re a smart kitten, I can tell. There’s always a solution.” The old man said smartly, tipping his head right back at Paros. Smile warm even as he picked up an argument he didn’t have a passion for just because his son had walked away from it unfinished. Bent finger rising towards his boy’s twitching tail he grinned. ”That one would have chosen not to be healed at all. He must have been in a bad spot to let his guard down enough that you even saw him in the first place.”

Proof that he could hide even his griffon body that completely came soon after. Carthage fussed, chest heavy with the effort to stay ahead of them all. Bitter as he might be he was a good son. Slinking back to gently cover his stubborn father’s mouth. An act so out of character that Gondar was silenced instantly. Sight shield covering them all; Only, he self-soothed, because they would get him and his father killed otherwise.

Without incident the coalition moved off towards the meadow the group had abandoned. Unshaken the rest moved forward again. Walk quiet now that they had seen the angry glint of blades intended for stranger. And they were all strangers to those warriors.

”Built that himself. Didn’t have a clue he knew how. Must have been plotting this move for a long time.” Gondar praised. Age spots folding into his wrinkles when he smiled. Bristling whiskers giving a wiggle under his nose he lead the way up. Slow on the ascent, hand on the tree trunk for support. It made him tired, pulled something sticky up from the bottom of his lungs too. Sending him into a fit he was able to feel coming on. It sounded worse than it felt, and he recovered quickly.

At the sink Carthage had paused in toweling his hair dry with one hand. Eyes slipping sideways to check on his father. Purposeful in the way they skipped right over Gondar’s guests. When his father started talking again he sighed lightly, turning back to his half bath. One ear laid flat so that he could listen while they spoke. The other tall as he dried beads of water from around it’s wide base. ”Yes! Please, sit.Have you had dinner? The tap is good drinking water. We have wine somewhere too.”

Shoulders tensing Carthage gripped the sink. Watching the last of the dirty water drain away. Taking his time to decide just how angry he was. Listening to his father lie about his cough. ”Two weeks,” He corrected after the old man offered up a vague ‘not long’. They exchanged glares. Carthage winced as he turned around, leaning against the sink. Gaze far away as he recalled the strange and frightening rumors about mysterious fevers accompanied by cough. So far his father had not had an abnormal temperature. Just a cough he couldn’t shake.

While he daydreamed and kneaded the muscle around his leg wound Gondar chatted. Exuberance attempting to mask the fact that he held the brew bottle without actually opening it. ”How did you get out? We’ve done a little trading north of here, but getting over the border is no easy feat. Not even with his wings.” He said cheerfully, gesturing with his thumb towards Carthage. ”Healers a good caste to be in Tigerlan. Everyone loves a healer.”

”Tigrelan doesn’t know how to love, you old fool.” Carthage complained as he limped passed. This time he did not ignore Paros. Or her paste. Lip flashing in a snarl he shook his head. ”Someone skipped their bedside manner training.” Passing the table by he opened a bamboo chest to pull a thin sheet from inside. It was a myriad of colorful silken threads that formed mandalas and flowers of every hue. ”There are three other people in this room. Tell them what to do. I’m not interested.”

Craft flicking at the windowsill he climbed outside onto a hidden set of pegs. Not the same carefully constructed stairs he had spiraled up the tree for his father. No. These were trickier to spot and navigate. A secret path for escape. Just in case. And mostly for his own sanity. Carthage was a man that needed space for his brooding. And that space was a platform high in the tree top. A spectacular view of the river below and the countryside straight to the distant coast. Clouds loomed heavy over the south. Black there, but only a darkening gray overhead. Down on the ground his father’s prediction came partially true as a pick up in the wind sloshed the river over it’s earthen sides. Things that Carthage noted. Too tired for worry as his leg turned to flaming pain from overuse on the injury. He curled into a ball. Not sure how long he slept before thunder startled him from sleep to find he was not alone.

”Hm.” Frowning he fingered a freshly applied sticky web. ”You’ll kill yourself getting down now.” His voice hobbled between accusing and warning. The rain pattered on the leaves and thin rooftop of his hidden perch for a few moments before he thought to ask, ”What’d you give him anyway? What’s it called and what’s it do?”

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2019, 04:27:39 AM »

Water was agreed upon. Canteens pulled out and rattled. Paros forgot about her own until her shoulder was prodded. She summoned it and passed it on to be filled, glad she had remembered to vanish it again when Carthage had refused to drink. He didn’t drink now either. Bathing himself and glowering. Answering when he father hemmed and hawed.

”Hmm.” She fed a drop of craft into the brew, just to strengthen the potency. Two weeks was a long time for a cough. ”No healer, even a landen sort?” She questioned. If nothing had been done it could have settled in his chest. That would make it linger, and turn to worse things. She looked at her friends, who hid smiles. More than a night, they knew by that look. Paros passed the brew on, only to watch it sit idle in his hands while he talked.

”By the grace of Darkness.” Paros answered simply. Smile soft, the edges deep with a secret sweetness. Head bowed as she worked, but also in offering. A surrender to a power no one else seemed to sense. ”I went up through the horn lands before moving into those of men.” Mother Night had shown Paros the way, the mist had been thick all around her, except for the clear trail she had followed.

”I was not a healer when I left, but I was loved anyway.” She did not look at him as he passed, though she answered his anger with surety. Her parents had loved her. Maybe they still did. She had not made it so far as to see if they were still alive. ”And yours are better?” A swift look settling a restless body. She had endured worse. Words were not a thing she needed protecting from. Putting the paste away, she did exactly as he ordered, fussing his father to drink his brew while Carthage ran away out the window.

Paros stopped to eat only because she was reminded. Braiding set aside so she could eat a simple meal with her friends. Carthage did not return for it. Careful probes told Paros he was above and asleep. When the eating was done, she returned to braiding. Stopping when the sun began to set. A candle lit in an unobtrusive corner, Paros knelt in its shadow and removed her hood. Eyes closed and prayers silent on her lips and she ran craft over her skin. The faint tufts of fuzz that had managed to grow since the evening before vanished into her cabinet when they were cut free.

And then she continued weaving. Into the morning where she was interrupted by breakfast. Through to the afternoon where she forewent lunch to scale the path Carthage had taken. Fever working its way into his body, his skin was hot where she touched it, baring his shoulder to apply the web. He woke slowly, Paros leaning away in case he woke violently as well. ”You’ll be rid of me then, at least.” She wondered if he would smile then, thinking he might from sheer relief. ”Pants up or down, so I can apply the other?”

She would have roused him before tending that wound. Shrugging, Paros crouched over her heels, waiting for him to comply, just this once. ”Its an herb and spice mixture from Little Terreille. It helps thin mucus in the lungs. Makes is easier for his body to expel it.” She explained, leaning it again to adhere the web to his thigh with impersonal fingers. They were thick from the braiding, so Paros wrapped a bandage around his leg as well, and stuck one to his shoulder with craft so they didn’t snag and tear off.

”At least two days. More would be better.” She cautioned, doubting the would last until night fall.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
  • warlord
  • Played By: Jones

    flight fighter
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    11 Posts    0 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2019, 06:44:21 PM »
”For a cough? No. It just takes longer for old timers to shake that sort of thing.“ Gondar promised with a wink. Brew clasped in his hands as they all watched Carthage move through the house like a storm cloud. It made the old man sigh internally. They both knew it was more than a cough. More than Paros could fix with any brew or Craft too. Neither spoke on the plague. One too keep from worrying their guest over something she couldn’t change, and the other because it would only keep her around longer.

Nothing in Gondar was particularly religious. In fact, he hadn’t actually seen the inside of a temple since his Birthright. So he only smiled and nodded at her answer. He was much more interested in the story of her travels. ”I’d like to hear all about that.”

Of course Carthage did not. Or at least, not from these people on this day. Stalking to his hoard of blankets he chose one that would keep him comfortable without sweating. Spitting his unhappiness at them all as he went. ”Why should they be? I’m not forcing them on anyone.” He said, pausing at the window to posture at the stirring of her friend. Hand on the frame he was bathed in sunlight. It lit a hundred scars across his body. Some dark and deep. Others pale flecks that caught the light like sparkles. The most noticeable was the thick line from chest to navel. It pulled into his belly button itself, tugging up the top so that it was a raindrop instead of a circle. Over an inch thick at its widest point. A death wound, there was no mistaking. But Paros hushed her friends, leaving the challenge of lifted eyebrows and a hard jaw unanswered. So he swept out and up.

The mood inside settled almost instantly. Gondar was a very attentive host. Always eager for company after a lifetime in the close quarters of coalition living. Once his new friends were all settled in he fried salmon stakes over the fire. Probes whisking up to Carthage who stirred but did not come down to eat. He rambled in the way of old men. Telling stories, and sometimes telling too much. Of his own youth on the plains. All about a young Carthage who cried bitterly when the mothers left him on his father’s arm. A bright, curious child who was gentle and genial. Setting traps so he didn’t have to look at his prey before it was caught. Then agreeing to grunt work so that others would skin them. He told them about the mother that had died birthing his boy, that Carthage was her living image. And about the first time Carthage had gone up in winter as a young man. Teased incessantly by the women for his prettiness.

Talking until the glow of Paros’ candle was waning. At some point in the night he helped them shove the chairs against the walls. Unfolding blankets to soften the floor beneath all of their bedrolls. A cot unfolded for himself. Quietly telling Paros to rest. If she did or not he wouldn’t know. Waking at dawn he cut fruit and fried eggs to share with them all. Frowning up at the ceiling when Carthage did not come down for that set of prodding either. Paros’ companions exchanged stories with him as she continued her work. Life outside of their borders compared to the ways of the Tiger.

Until another mealtime approached. Gondar packed a small bowl with buttered hasselback potatoes, pan fried steak slivers, and Carthage’s cigarette box. Handing the package to Paros with a quirky dance of his eyebrows and a hint of advice, ”Don’t worry. He’s never stayed mad at a pretty face for long. Especially if they’re holding his smokes.” Like most of his race there was something in the potent tobacco that made Carthage’s toes curl.

He didn’t know she had any of those things when he woke to find her adhering the web to his shoulder. Sleep had blunted his anger, and his pain too, but his headed pulsed behind his temples. Skin prickling with a chill. A wide swath of heat around the wound sites making him feel cold. Shaking the grogginess from his sense he picked crust from his eyes. Sighing as he ignored her humor to judge the daylight instead. Noon at the latest, he had been asleep for a long time. Rolling to get her better in his view he frowned at her tone. ”Really? Really that hard for you to offer a thing than to force it at someone?”

It made him want to refuse. There was an unnatural stiffness in his shoulder that was worrisome, however. Skin hot to the touch. Mindful of infection, since every ailment was harder to strike from his body, Carthage pulled his blanket out of the way. Leg aching once he tried to move it. Knee unbending. Too thick to expose the wound by pulling his trouser leg up. Fighting the button loose he trolled from hip to hip to get them down his knees. Stopping to hiss as he slowly peeled the fabric of his pants off the sutures in his thigh. He was scarred in various places there too. A wide circle on his knee from falling on a rock as  boy, tiny pockmarks on his good leg from a splattering pan of hot oil.

Being naked in front of her did not bother Carthage, scars or not. He knew there was nothing his clothes hid that he needed to be ashamed of. Out of curiosity he watched her face for a reaction. Hands moving to apply her braid web as if it were not inches from his sleeping spear. As long in rest as it was in play. It was the first good look he took of Paros. And he understood better why his father was turned into a mewling idiot by her presence. She had interesting features that were accentuated by strange art. Ears that flared on the tips the same way his tail did. ”Hm. So cough syrup. Did it last the night?”

Mind turning from his father’s ailment to his own Carthage shrugged his good shoulder. ”Will they stay if I shift? Because they’re not going to last the night otherwise.” He told her bluntly. He had things to do now that the flooding had started in earnest. Groaning he laid back so she could wrap the web in place. Back lifting off the narrow floor slates so he could pull his pants back up around his hips. With a shiver for the chill in his limbs he rubbed his temples. ”Make sure you don’t eat or drink after him while you’re down there. Or anyone else traveling through Tigrelan. The cough isn’t bad, but once the fever starts most people don’t make it.”
 

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