Closed Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Brandon's first Bendi-like assignment, game scouting!

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The westernmost tip of Kalea, Wind Reach is home to an amazing group of people and their giant eagle mounts. [Lore]

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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Khara on April 22nd, 2015, 12:13 am

Explaining the differences between an Alkana and other types of deer in terms of size was... Difficult. Well, not really; most didn't even come close to the size of their red coated cousins. But twice as big ? She wasn't sure about that, maybe if only because she hadn't been forced to think about it in such terms before. As they moved, Khara tried to consider how best to explain and finally settled on the only way she could think: visual example.

"Well, most deer, even the bigger ones... they are only maybe my size at the shoulder? Usually a little smaller than that, though. But the Alkana?" She paused mid step and went to her toes and reached her hand up as high as it could go. "They're more up here, I think. Almost as big as a moose but not so..." Her hand lowered as she tried to make some sort of gesture to convey bulk as the word refused to come to mind. "with... heaviness? More springy like any other deer, but like you grew it to make it higher. So... yes? Twice as big sounds like right."

She still wished the print had been more telling. Dung was one thing, but larger animals didn't exactly have dainty feet. It did, however, take her own describing of the animal for Khara to realize just how big of a print they might be looking for. Not that she was very familiar with the rare red deer, she'd helped to track one back in Fall but there had been other scouts then with more experience and two hunters that had seemed to know more about the elusive animal as well. If memory served right, Khara was also fairly sure they had more information to go on than some random drudge rumor in a time when all sorts of stories about the Pass seemed to be flocking around Wind Reach.

At least the print, incomplete as it was, seemed at least marginally interesting to her - trainee?, Khara thought over the word, trying to decide if it was right or if it put too much emphasis on her teaching. The scout tried to listen to what Brandon was mumbling about to himself, wondering if it was some method of memorization, though Khara could have sworn she heard the name of the bird that Drusilla used to refer to her. Yes, because you are clearly the master of the Common tongue. Why would he be talking about birds right now? You're hearing things.

Brandon's vague tale was listened to with the occasional sidelong glance cast his way. His story wasn't exactly like others who had come to Wind Reach, but the theme was the same - it wasn't that they wanted to be there, more that situations and fate had forced it upon them in one way or another. Khara couldn't help but wonder if that was normal for any city's outsiders, or maybe there was a place that people actually went to because they wanted to go.

It wasn't the only thing that he seemed to have in common with other outsiders to Wind Reach, though, and Khara couldn't help but let a clipped laugh leave her at the mention of adapting to Inarta society, especially when this time around she certainly wasn't mistaken in hearing him utter the word Endal under his breath.

"You are not the only one who feels that. I am guessing that in Kalinor or Lhavit, there is no castes? It can be hard to get used to, or even accept. It is just fact for us - The Endal have been chosen and that makes them better than all the rest. We wouldn't survive without the Eagles and their riders, they are the most needed so they are the most respected. Then the Avora are talented, they have real skill that is good for the city and everyone in it. Next come us, and then the drudge. The more important you are, the less… hmm, replaceable… you are, the better you should be treated." She shrugged before continuing. "Though part of that means they can demand more from lower caste people. They are above us, they are better than us, and they know it and they want us to know it. We live to make things better for them, and sometimes that means doing things you don't want to or giving them something you have that you would rather keep. I never really thought it was a bad thing until..."

Her voice trailed off, partially to avoid the memories that tried to push forward that fought for being named as the moment when Khara had genuinely felt wronged by an upper caste member; but also so that she could focus on a few tricker steps where the snow had hidden a patch of loose rocks that Khara hadn't noticed until she had already begun to walk over them. The deer had avoided the hazard and she was starting to wonder if maybe it was better that they followed the animal's steps more precisely. She wasn't sure if the snow helped or hindered her in remaining upright as she tried to keep her balance as the stone shifted under her feet. Her balance was precariously kept and a few stumbled steps later she was clear and Khara felt the comfort of firmer ground under her feet once more. She quickly looked back to see if she needed to warn Brandon about the unsteady ground, ready to point it out if he insisted on following her footsteps exactly.

The bit of rough terrain and the balancing act had seemed to echo within her thoughts as well, and Khara finally settled on how best to continue. "Last Winter, well, not this last Winter but the one before that? Things got bad. Hunting wasn't going so good and the food stores went low and we had to start... ratioing?" The word didn't sound right and caused her to pause, a slightly embarrassed look crossing her features for a second. "The lower castes, we didn't get much of the food because it was being kept for the more important people. The Dek, especially; they began to die from it and the Chiet weren't all that much better, really. People got mad and started leaving scary notes and some upper caste people were killed and then a big fight happened in the city that lasted for a few days."

She stopped walking and let her eyes follow the deer's path that lead down towards where trees finally began to grow in earnest. Hopefully the canopy they offered would have blocked out enough of the snow to make the prints easier to see and maybe the vegetation would be enticing enough to cause the animal to linger. Reluctantly, however, she dragged her thoughts back to what she had been explaining.

"It didn't matter, though. Nothing changed. The Endal and the Avora settled things and made everyone stop fighting. Lots of people died, I think." Khara wasn't sure how she managed to keep herself sounding emotionless about it all, relaying more of a history lesson than explaining something that had been truly terrifying to live through. Maybe it was because she'd spent most of the riots hiding, under the protection of a then-stranger, that made it easier. She hadn't really seen the worst of it, or been subjected to it. "I think that was when Zhol - he's an outsider like you - came to really see how things work here better, he still does not like it though. Hopefully you won't have to see such things. It is not a good way to find out, I think, and it makes it sound so much more bad than it really is. It is not like Endal and Avora are always hurting us, most everyone knows that we all need to work together to make Wind Reach good and that is the normal - the bad stuff is not. If you stay, you will see. It's not so bad, especially if you are in charge of teaching Yasi, Teachers are more respected than some other of us Chiet, so you should be fine unless you go purposely making them mad."


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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Brandon Blackwing on April 30th, 2015, 4:01 pm

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Of course he wasn’t the only one who felt that way, obviously, just about any outsider would. Though, some were used to adapting, or obeying, they had a personality that allowed them to fit right in. Brandon did not. Mandatory respect was just something that did not exist, and being obedient to the higher castes was not really something one could expect from the bat. Brandon only answered to the gods and himself. He did not owe anyone his obedience, nor his respect. If the endal wanted his respect, they had to earn it, and flying around on oversized eagles wasn’t quite enough for that.

“Other cities have no explicit castes,”Brandon nuanced, “but in a way, we do have them. It’s just that people don’t make a fuss out of it like here.” A slight grin. “In other cities, those with lots of money are viewed as the upper class. They have a big house, fancy clothes, and so on. Others just have an important job, like …” Brandon thought for a moment, failing to come up with multiple examples. There was one he did remember though. “Like being the Councilor of Magic and Foreign Affairs. Those have status. They rarely mingle with the lower classes, but it’s not like one can just walk up to you and order you to give up your wallet.” Indeed, other cities were civilized.

“Apart from them having the same air around them like the endal do, and having upper class status, they are just like anyone else. But that’s not the case in Wind Reach, and that is bothersome.” Then, Brandon just listened as Khara explained the same thing Zhol had days ago. About the difference between castes, about one being more important than the others. He couldn’t help but cut her off, interjecting just a few words. “You wouldn’t survive without the eagles. Period.” Truly, Brandon did not see what the riders had to do with it all. Weren’t Wind Eagles supposed to be really intelligent? So what use was there for a rider? Company on long flights?

For a moment, a wicked smile tainted the bat’s face as he heard Khara’s voice trail off and she looked to the ground. Loose rocks were just an excuse, Brandon saw something written in the lines on the girls face. Was it regret? Worry? It wasn’t there for very long, but it was apparent that the memory hadn’t been a pleasant one. “Until you were forced to submit, right?” Brandon finished, an eyebrow raised. He vaguely remembered Zhol yelling something about Khara having had to suffer far more than she should. The thief wondered if he’d been talking about the same thing Khara had left cloaked in silence. Perhaps, perhaps not. Brandon decided not to press the issue, nothing good would come of it.

Following the scout’s steps, Bran did a lot better than she, but mostly because he was pretty good at keeping his balance; he knew a couple tricks too. The girl then continued, and though Brandon wasn’t entirely off, but he’d expected a more personal clash with the higher castes, not getting less food because of rations. So wait a tick, if hunting wasn’t going so good, wasn’t that the fault of the Avora and Endal? And those castes still were being favored? What a messed up system. As a result a famine ensued, and with it came riots; that was what Brandon could make up from Khara’s story. Well, that was something new, he hadn’t heard that before.

The path the deer had made was headed towards some trees, it seemed. Would it be easier to follow there or not? Brandon could smell many scents weaving over and under each other like some sort of tapestry, but which of them was the deer’s? He did not have a clue, he did not smell any droppings they’d come across before, so there was no telling where the springy animal had run off to. Maybe Khara would know. “You sound just like him,” Brandon commented as Khara fell back into silence. “Like Zhol I mean.” The bat’s expression did not seem to be able to decide between annoyance or a smile. “Why does everyone think I’ll go around looking for trouble? I’m telling you, they find me.” He sighed. “Worst thing of all is that self-defense is a crime.”

There was a frown that crinkled his forehead a little as he thought about it. “Say, you are saying that the more talented you are, the higher your caste is, right? Zhol told me that he got to be an Avora because his skill with horses is rare. Though, I haven’t seen any decent fighter around yet, which makes my skill rare. And I am quite talented…” It was true, how long had he been training? Three years? And what about his larceny? Two years?

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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Khara on May 4th, 2015, 9:34 pm

Heading into the trees was definitely something Khara was thankful the deer had decided to do. The branches above caught most of the snow, making the ground underneath easier to see and walk upon. As Khara had guessed the prints the deer left behind were easier to spot now that they weren't partially covered as well. She grew quiet as they walked along, footsteps becoming lighter as they continued onward. A glance back was made to where they had come from, studying the way the snow from their boots clung to the edges of the first few slight indentations the two of them made - the deer prints were devoid of the same, though whether from time passed to allow it to melt into the soil or simply a result of hooves versus man made shoes, Khara could only guess and hoped it was the first.

She tried to listen to their surroundings as much as possible; the idle chirping of whatever birds had decided the worst of the small storm was over, the creak of branches overladen with snow just waiting to drop the weight on the first unsuspecting passerby, the almost cringe-worthy sound of her own footsteps no matter how quiet she tried to make them, even the subtle sounds of her cohort. There wasn't, however, the rustle of a deer rubbing its antlers against foliage or the shuffle of plant life being displaced and eaten. It didn't necessarily mean the deer wasn't nearby, but the silence of the rest of the world that the overnight storm had offered, and maybe just a bit of instinct, let her ease a bit as they resumed following the deer's trail.

When she spoke again her voice was barely above a whisper; still plenty loud in the serene calm around them. "It is not you so much as all outsiders. The upper castes look for reasons to hate you," Khara glanced back and gave a small shrug of her shoulder at Brandon. "I think I misspoke - is not that you must avoid making them angry, but more look to actively avoid it. They feel you have to prove yourselves, otherwise you are no better than a drudge."

Her thoughts flitted back to the question he had asked that she had purposely dodged as she considered how he had spoken of self defense being a crime. The concept didn't sound right to her; and she wanted to argue against it, trying to explain the difference between self defense and fighting back but she couldn't come up with the reasons or the explanations. Maybe there wasn't any, maybe the newcomer was right.

The sudden crash of a bundle of snow falling from upper branches through the lower before hitting the ground wiped such thoughts from her head. It brought the scout to a standstill, straining to hear if the sudden sound had startled anything - hopefully something large - but only a haunting silence followed as even the birds seemed to hold their breath. Khara let hers go slowly, tension brought about by anticipation draining and she looked back to Brandon before leading onward.

With the darker thoughts all but obliterated, she could return to considering what else he had mentioned, the possibility of advancement.

"But, yes, being an Avora would help. Khara softly spoke up again. "I have never heard of a fighter becoming an Avora, but that does not mean it cannot happen. There are some teachers that are more respected; they are considered experts - Masters. They are elevated to Avora, but it is typically the archers, or hunters, or falconers… Those that still sometimes teach the upper castes things. If you teach only Yasi, maybe not so much. Be respected enough and able to teach the Endals something, though? Yes, I think that would-."

Another sudden cacophony deeper into the thin forest silenced her and Khara frowned slightly as the sounds continued on well past when they should have ended for simple snow finding the forest floor. More sounds followed, drawing slowly closer - some Khara knew from accompanying hunters, the typical grunts and bleats of a deer or elk in distress. The snarls, though…

Her eyes quickly scanned the forest for movement, something to show where the sounds were coming from. Off to their left, far enough away to avoid the immediate instinct to flee but a bit too close for comfort, the sudden violent shake of several trees gave it away. A flash of red left her wondering if it was a trick of the eyes or the signature coat of the creature they were supposedly tracking.

The only question was whether they should go see what sort of trouble the deer had got itself into or make a run for it, either way Khara had already moved to unsling her bow from her back and readied an arrow in precaution. They weren't out to make a kill, far from it, but no one would fault them if it was out of self preservation. A questioning glance was cast towards Brandon before she nodded towards the chaos. Even if the deer had got itself in a fight with something else, if it came out the victor it would be all the easier for a hunter from Wind Reach to end it, possibly even as early as later that day if it was wounded or slowed enough. Maybe both animals would end up injured and there would be even more to bring back. Maybe -

The line of thought was cut short by a sudden piercing howl that made Khara's blood run cold. Apparently a rumored overgrown bear wasn't the only predator from the wilds hunting close to Wind Reach. Of course it'd be wolves, she cursed silently. She hated this part of her job, but thankfully it didn't come often. Simply saying you had heard a wolf was never enough; hunters always wanted to know how many there were, how healthy they looked, how aggressive they seemed, or anything else they thought was knowledge worth risking a Chiet's life for - so pretty much any and all.

With a sigh that bordered between annoyance and revealing more fear than she really wanted to show, Khara stepped quickly towards Brandon and let a rueful smirk form on her lips. "Okay, maybe a little excitement after all."

Her eyes darted around the relatively level ground they had come to and the trees and bushes that obscured the scene from them. Hopefully it also hid them from whatever wolves may have been patrolling the perimeter in case their prey made a run for it. Do wolves even do that? It's what I'd do if I was hunting with a group Khara internally waved off the curious mental inquiries that seemed entirely inappropriate given their situation.

"Bad news - We do not get to call the job off, it just changed a bit. Now, we find out all we can about the wolves, then we go." The fake amusement that had been playing on her features fell entirely as her grip on her bow adjusted. "Only… I am not sure how to get a good look without putting us both in very big danger. They are distracted for now, but..." She left the sentiment unfinished. Admitting she didn't know what to do was the last thing that Khara had wanted, but hopefully together they'd be able to come up with something.


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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Brandon Blackwing on May 7th, 2015, 6:43 pm

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Actively avoiding the endal, a plan the bat had been considering from the outset. Originally he'd thought of it like staying clear of the Shinya, but that was not an accurate comparison. The Shinya only searched for him because he was a thief, but when donning his usual clothes, Brandon had been just like any other citizen. Though he did not feel very comfortable doing so he hadn't avoided each and every patrol coming his way. Most of the times he just kept walking, sometimes nodding a greeting. Acting normal, not arousing any suspicions.

Here though, in Wind Reach? The endal could do just whatever they wanted. Like Khara had said, they were looking for reasons to hate him, to make things harder on him. Some did not even bother. Actively avoiding was maybe the best option, but then again, he couldn't avoid all of them. They were everywhere. Proving himself was another good idea, but Brandon was probably thinking of different things than Khara was. Brandon found that fear was a pretty good tool to keep people away from him. He needed a reputation. Of course, first his reputation would draw the upper castes towards him, and that was a problem. So he had to establish himself as someone you did not want to mess with. He needed to establish himself as a dangerous individual.

Maybe I should try to take down a Zith with my bare hands... the bat pondered, only half-serious. Though it would be really helpful if he could manage it; there weren't many who could boast they had done the same after all. The problem however still remained; he had to make sure he wouldn't be seen as a challenge, but as untouchable. And that was quite troublesome. Brandon really did not know how he could manage that. Well, it were matters worth thinking about some other time; for now he focused on the hoof prints in the snow, following them while taking a sniff every so often, but the wind blew from behind them, so it had little use.

A bit of snow falling down stopped the both of them in their tracks, the scout seemingly focusing on the environment while Brandon tilted his head to the side, listening to the silence. No, there was something going on, something he could just barely make out, like a near inaudible call of someone far away. Though this wasn't a call. Unfortunately, it was too far away for even the bat to hear it properly, so he just shrugged and fell back in pace when Khara started moving again. While she spoke, the sounds grew louder as the duo approached, and Brandon heard a sound he had not heard before -not that he could remember anyway. It was kind of like a goat, or sheep, but different. Accompanying it were growls and snarls, and those the bat did recognize. It wasn't too hard to figure out what could produce those sounds.

Khara had noticed too now, and stopped to listen once more, her partner doing the same. There were some crashes, and sounds like snow falling down, along with some hard-to-hear pants and snapping noises. Khara unslung her bow, and Brandon dropped into a crouch, hoping to stay out of the line of sight of the predators his keen ears had detected. A slight shake of his head was the reply to Khara's questioning glance, the thief not finding it wise to go any closer to the pack of wolves. The howl that followed only strengthened the believe that that was the right approach. The scout seemed to freeze on the spot, terrified or maybe just startled.

Excitement eh? Brandon licked his lips a little nervously, already feeling the adrenaline surging through his body and taking effect. Well, they'd seen the deer -sort of- and they'd heard wolves. It was best they'd retreat or go to report or whatever they had to do. But no, this was not yet the time for that, apparently. The thief too cursed internally at Khara's explanation, displaying a disgruntled snarl. Damn, meddling with a pack of wolves was dangerous business; you couldn't outrun them, you couldn't outlast them, and they outnumbered hunting parties almost every time. Fighting wasn't an option either, it would only get them killed. Today the bat had been allowed yet another glimpse of Inartan foolishness.

Of course, this was not Khara's idea, he could see it by just looking at her tense and frightened expression and body language. The bat himself was probably an exact copy. Scumbag hunters, treating life of those below them as replaceable. This was utter foolishness. This was a stupid thing to do, even for Brandon. But this was Wind Reach, a city made up of fools; A city of daredevils, he'd heard it be called more than once, but now he saw the truth of it. Between evoking the wrath of the upper castes or being devoured by wolves, the Inarta chose for the wolves. In a way that was pretty honorable. In another it was just plain stupid. However, it wasn't like he could just walk away now, that would be pretty bad for his reputation. A sigh.

“They're distracted for now, indeed. It won't last though; we have tailwind. Our scent is being blown towards them as we speak. You smell like the baths, so your scent will probably be picked up first. I suggest we climb the trees, as far as I know, wolves can't climb. We should be safe there, and we can observe them from above.” Brandon raised an eyebrow and tilted his head a little downwards, as if to dare the scout to disagree. This was a good plan, and there was no way she wouldn't see that. He did not wait for long, sneaking to the nearest tree that looked pretty stable and thick, with branches that would be able to support their weight.

Feet were placed down carefully and quietly, the ball of his foot came first, testing the floor and cautiously shoving away any twigs and other things that would put him off balance or would make a sound. The snow was thinner here, which was a blessing of itself; thick snow was treacherous. Staying low, the bat tried to stay out of sight and in the shadows, heading from one to another until he made it to the tree, glancing backwards at Khara for a split tick. Then he eyed the branch that hung the lowest, which was still half a meter above the bat's outstretched arms when he rose to his full length. A silent curse as he realized Khara wouldn't be able to make it up there without help. Muscles in his legs tensed, then launched him up, hands grabbing onto the branch, a prayer sent to Chaiya it would hold. And it did, it was a strong branch, confirmed by its appearance. Quickly, Brandon pulled himself up, then tumbled backwards, head pointing to the floor, legs folding around the offshoot. His hands released it then, body hanging down to reach out to her. Palms folded over each other, forming a rung for her to place a foot in. In hindsight, he should have let Khara in the tree first, since that would have been more practical, but he couldn't really think as straight as usual. He wasn't nearly as calm as he seemed to be. If he looked calm at all.

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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Khara on May 13th, 2015, 12:37 am

Khara almost flinched from the internal curse at how she had never taken scent into account. It was a vague concept to her, something a game scout only needed to be slightly aware of, it was usually in the realm of things that a hunter would take into consideration and make calls on if they felt the situation needed - Something Khara should have been learning about if she ever wanted to stop feeling the sense of futility in finding animals she personally could do nothing about. She wasn't sure how good of a sense of smell a wolf had, but the girl knew enough to know it was far better than her own, probably better than what Brandon had surprised her with as well. As the other Chiet made his suggestion, Khara found no cause for objection, in truth she wholeheartedly agreed, but the look he had given her wasn't exactly missed; maybe he was suited to become an Avora.

The whirlwind of thoughts running about in her head had to be forcibly silenced, like a net had been thrown up to catch and pull them all to the ground so only the task at hand remained. Following Brandon's lead was easy enough, he moved quieter than she would have expected and she did her best to imitate his softened footsteps as she approached the tree. The wolves might have picked up on the less familiar scents of the baths easily enough, but Khara certainly didn't want to make hearing her easier than it probably already was. She was far from perfect in keeping her movements as silent as she wanted, but the scout hoped that the ruckus the deer was causing more than covered up for her mistakes.

As Brandon sprang to reach the first branch, Khara eyed the limb warily. It had seemed difficult for the taller man to reach from a standstill and she thought it might have been possible for her to make it if she had a running start, but such a thing would undo all the careful creeping they had done to get to the tree. A nervous tension began to form within her, threatening to unsteady the measured breathing she had been actively attempting to keep as silent as possible as she watched the dark haired man pull himself up into the tree. There was no way she could follow and every tick spent on the ground was more dangerous than the last.

The rising panic didn't have much room to form, however, as suddenly Brandon inverted himself rather than heading higher and held his hands down to her. It was no doubt a peculiar way to help someone into a tree but Khara didn't spare it too much thought as she quickly darted forward, stepping where his hands came together and not for the first time found herself overly glad for her scrawny frame. The boost was exactly what she needed for her hands to quickly grasp the branch off to the side of where Brandon hung from. A small grunt of effort and probably a bit more help from her cohort came as she pulled herself up, catching the limb under an arm before she swung a leg up onto the branch and hauled herself up the rest of the way in what was most certainly an entirely ungraceful manner.

The branch thankfully held the both of them, though Khara wasted no time in looking upward for the next closest one. She had heard stories of how kougaras could leap quite a distance and she wasn't keen on finding out if the same could be said for wolves; staying on the lower branches simply wasn't an option especially if she actually wanted to try and get a good look at the struggle taking place elsewhere. A deep breath was taken and held as she cautiously lifted one hand away from the branch, reaching upwards for the next as she followed with the other. The pounding in her chest seemed to painfully halt in the split instant where she balanced on her feet before her hands found the next limb. The same awkward process from before was repeated, though quite a bit easier as the distance wasn't nearly as far to the next. From there Khara only glanced towards Brandon once to make sure he was progressing as well before she continued to climb up into the tree until she found a suitable place to finally sit and lean against the trunk to catch her breath.

The terrified sounds from the deer echoed eerily in the glen, punctuated with what Khara could only guess were painful cries as the wolves closed in. She didn't exactly want to move to watch the animal being slaughtered behind her but there wasn't much choice. A long breath was taken before she finally encouraged herself to move again, pulling herself up so she could stand on the branch and maneuver around to others so she could get a better look at what was taking place.

The brilliant red coat of the Alkana was easily spotted from the height they had gained and Khara couldn't help but feel her heart drop in pity as she watched the three wolves that surrounded it move forward to attack. A fourth wolf was off to the side, limping as it circled out of the large deer's reach. She couldn't see from the distance, but Khara guessed it had caught a blow from the buck's antlers as it tried to defend itself as the other three wolves seemed all too aware of that danger. A strange sort of intricate dance seemed to take place as one wolf would draw the attention of the Alkana while the others made an attempt at its flank. The animal's red hide made it difficult to see how badly wounded it may have been, but Khara could plainly see that it was becoming exhausted from the effort.

"Looks like Caiyha is claiming this one," she idly mumbled and let out a sigh.

"The hunters will not like this," Khara continued in Common, keeping her voice softened. "They were looking forward to claiming the kill, I think. We don't see Alkana very often, maybe one or two in the warmer seasons at very most. It would have been good for morals, I think. I guess wolves happen sometimes, though."


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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Brandon Blackwing on May 16th, 2015, 4:57 pm

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Khara reacted quickly, stepping onto his hands, using them as a step-up. Brandon braced himself, tensing up all muscles in his body to support the additional weight of the game scout. Luckily she wasn’t too heavy at all, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a bit difficult to actually get her into the tree. His inverted position was at the root of that problem, but there was no helping that now. Instead, Brandon started pulling his hands up, helping Khara get up the branch faster. The wolves hadn’t noticed them yet it seemed, and for all the bat cared it could stay that way.

With Khara safe and climbing higher already, Brandon could get himself in the tree as well, pulling his torso up so his arms could wrap around the limb, hauling himself up with ease. A feint smile bent his lips; this reminded him of the rope-streets of Kalinor, back then he hadn’t been able to stand on the ropes very well, falling off lots of times, having to grab on and clamber back up. Ah, yes, good times.

Now both feet were safely on the branch, Brandon assumed a crouching position, managing rather well with keeping his balance. Then he slowly rose, though still keeping his torso a little bent over, not really believing he could stand up straight. Not immediately anyway, it took him a couple ticks to adapt and find the best way to place his feet so he’d maintain his balance, and then he slowly straightened his back, repeating the process. Maybe he should have just followed Khara’s example, scrambling to the trumk and climbing higher immediately, but the bat wasn’t particularly worried about the wolves. For all their enhanced senses, they still hadn’t detected them, and as such there was still time to pull off stupid stunts like this.

Three steps was all that separated him from the tree trunk, and Brandon carefully diminished that distance by one. His foot was lifted slowly and cautiously, his body tense, and mind focused. Both arms were extended as he placed his foot back down, pausing there for a brief moment. Then his other foot lifted, surpassing the other and touching down a step further. This was going better than expected, this was easier than he’d imagined. Brandon didn’t stop this time, letting his feet join each other again fluidly. A hand leaned against the trunk for stability as the bat lifted his gaze to the branches above his head, spotting the game scout as she clambered higher. With that red hair and her usual fidgeting she kind of reminded him of a little squirrel; a grin couldn’t be suppressed.

Because of his upright stance, the bat could easily reach the next limb, grabbing onto it and pulling himself up while his boots sought for support on the trunk. His balance came quicker this time, and before long he had managed to get to the next branch and the next, growing more confident each and every time. That stood in stark contrast with the game scout, who –according to her body language- wasn’t all that comfortable at all. She’d been a bit slower too, though that was probably due to her lack of balance. He ceased his ascent on an offshoot beneath the one where she’d chosen to sit, standing on top of it while holding the branch above him with one hand to ensure he wouldn’t fall even if he slipped. The other was placed above his eyes to shield them from the bright rays of Syna’s light that slipped through the branches.

“Wolves really know how to work together eh?” the bat muttered as he watched three wolves attack in quick succession and from different sides, snapping at the legs of what Brandon could only guess was the Alkana buck. It’s red coat and sheer size fit the description Khara had provided him with. The buck darted away swiftly though, outing some strange, yet obviously terrified sounds. The wolves backed off quickly, seemingly able to predict the buck’s attack, or maybe they’d just gotten a little frightened. One of theirs was limping about after all, no doubt the Alkana’s doing. A shuffle above the bat made him aware that Khara had gotten up and had probably watching as well, an observer to the magnificent performance of a wolf pack’s hunt.

“Well, if they wanted to shoot it, they should have come here themselves,” Brandon stated matter-of-factly. “Sure it’s efficient to have someone scout the areas for you first, but they could have sent one with us. He could have stayed behind somewhere until we came back with his information.” A shrug. “Not that it’s my problem.” His eyes followed the coordinated attacks of the small pack for a bit before he spoke up again. “Wolves have to eat as well, so, yeah. Doesn’t this kind of thing happen often? Whoa, they’re getting pretty desperate!” Appearing to have lost their patience with the deer, the three wolves started a relentless assault, snapping, backing off while another attacked, repeating it over and over. Every so often one of them pounced, or one of them would get thrown by either the deer’s hooves or horns, but they didn’t give up. They did grow slower though; but the buck did so as well, both parties seemed to be exhausted.

“Is it just me or do they look kind of scrawny?” The thief narrowed his eyes in a futile effort to zoom in on the creatures. “The limping one also looks terribly exhausted, and he’s been limping about and taking it easy for a while now. This is just a guess, but I think these wolves have been rather unsuccessful in their hunts for who knows how long.” A sigh. “If they do manage to take down the Alkana, I think they deserved it.” He glanced at Khara for a tick; she’d experienced a famine, she’d probably understand what he meant with it. While he wasn’t really sympathizing with the predators, Brandon was impressed by their tenacity. Weakened, starved or exhausted, they still kept going. Admirable, a will to live and to survive you could only witness in the wild.

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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Khara on May 19th, 2015, 12:44 am

Khara glanced down at Brandon and seemed to consider his words for a moment before she looked back towards the Alkana and the wolves. "I agree," The certainty with which she spoke was slightly surprising, but less so than the fact that Khara knew just how true the simple statement was.

The right thing to do, would have no doubt been to make her way back to Wind Reach as fast as possible and maybe find the nearest Endal who could fly back to the scene with the speed necessary to claim most of the kill from the wolves if they managed it. Brandon certainly hadn't been wrong in his observation about the small pack seeming rather scrawny, their actions desperate; hardly a challenge for an Eagle and a seasoned rider to chase off. If it had been Winter, Khara might not even have thought twice about it, but as it was from what she had heard, aside from some troubles with other predators in the area, game was relatively plentiful and hunts had been successful this Spring. The loss of a single large deer wasn't going to break Wind Reach, but it could very well decimate the small band of wolves.

They were a rival predator and most would simply claim it as survival of the fittest, but Khara couldn't help but wonder if there was a lack of a certain amount of respect in stealing a kill from creatures so in need of it. After all, as dangerous and troublesome as they were, only a fool would think that the wolves served no purpose and The Unforgiving would be better off without them. True, Khara couldn't exactly come up with what those purposes might have been, but she was fairly certain their sole purpose was just Caiyha's idea of how to make the life of an Inarta hunter harder than it already could be - though she couldn't exactly put the thought aside that perhaps that was part of why they were here.

"They do come with us, most of the time," Khara spoke up again, thinking back to something that Brandon had said."The hunters, that is. Usually they make us go with them. Most of them can track, but a lot of them do not learn so many of the details of it since they have the scouts for that. We are only on our own if just checking and confirming good hunting grounds or - like today - following up on rumors that seem too good to be true. I guess they rather use our time finding out something is nothing but crowshyke than waste their own and wander around for nothing. I guess they do not really worry about a Chiet stealing their kill, they know we do not try."

She nodded towards the animals' continued struggle against one another. "They worry more about this happening, I guess. Some do not interfere. Others though… Well, I suppose there is a reason outsiders stop asking why there are not so many elders when they have been in Wind Reach for a bit."

Another howl pierced the thin forest before the wolves seemed to surge forward in one last desperate assault. It was with a mixture of awe, horror, and curiosity that Khara found herself unable to look away as one of the wolves made it past the Alkana's defenses, biting deep into the large animal's throat. Another joined while another took advantage of the shocked creature to grab and pull one of it's front legs out from under it. From there Khara could barely make out how it was that they bit and tore into the animal, its dying cries echoing faintly. The injured wolf moved in to join, as did another that Khara barely caught sight of running from somewhere behind the tree that the two Chiet lingered in.

She waited a few more ticks until it was clear the deer had given it's last and the wolves were clearly enjoying the spoils before she finally pulled her attention back down to her associate. "We should probably go now."


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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Brandon Blackwing on May 19th, 2015, 7:19 pm

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“Yeah, sounds like a good idea,” Brandon agreed, eyes still fixed on the scene of the feeding wolves. A magnificent display he'd seen, a dance of predator and prey, the will to live paired with desperation coming from both sides. The deer had been tenacious, but so had the wolves, and the latter had been even more desperate than the buck, taking it down with their small pack's combined strength. Wolves truly knew the meaning of teamwork, no surprise they were feared by many. They were pretty smart too, and hardy. Overcoming one wolf was perhaps not too difficult for a skilled person, but two? Or a whole pack? No, impossible.

Just because of that Brandon hesitated a little bit as he lowered himself onto a branch, recalling the way they'd taken to get to the tree, noticing it was blocked by the wolves and their kill. They were feeding though, so perhaps he and Khara could just walk past them without the creatures caring. Or maybe they would label them as intruders or additional prey. There was no telling just how territorial these beasts were. However, Khara herself was the solution; they did not need to take the same path to get away, the scout should know the way back, right? Or at least be able to find it with no problem.

Quickly, but not hastily, Brandon clambered down one branch after the next, until he finally reached the lowest regions of the tree. With his hands firmly gripping the limb, he let his legs drop, and then he let go, lightly landing on the forest floor, bending his knees to nullify the impact. Getting back up he stepped aside for Khara, glancing up and tried to sign whether she could manage alone or if he had to catch her. The strange gestures he made with his arms and body to try and depict what he meant. He wasn't really sure if she got it though, and in the end he just gave up with a dismissive gesture and glanced around instead, sniffing the air a couple times, then cocking his head a little to listen to the environment.

The wind hadn't turned yet, and there weren't any noises being made by large animals within his range of hearing -not that the bat noticed anyway- except for the wolves of course. Their doggish scent was easy to discern and remember, as was that of blood. There were other scents too, that of the forest had been around the whole time, as had the foul, stale scent of urine. Except for the wolves', the other scent that was prominent and strong had to be that of the Alkana buck. Good, that was an easy scent to remember, much easier than those of different people. Especially so since people bathed often and hid their natural smell under that of soap and bathing oils. It wasn't really important though.

Brandon moved a bit closer to Khara, deciding to give his take on the situation and how they should move. Not because he didn't believe Khara could handle it or because he didn't trust her judgment, but because she was human, and humans did not have the best set of senses. They relied on sight alone way too much, which wasn't too strange seeing as that was the only of their senses that was developed the best -and not even that great either, not that Brandon had better eyes though. “The wind's still blowing in the same direction; right now the wolves are in front of us, if we decide the direction the wind is coming from is the front.” He paused for a tick, gathering his thoughts. “As of now they are distracted and feeding, which probably will be their priority for a while. However, we might not be willing to take the risk. We could go around them, but eventually we'll end up back in front of them, and they'll be able to smell us from miles away. Though, I doubt they'd come for us after having stuffed themselves, unless they see us other predators invading their territory -and we are in their territory right now, I'm fairly sure of it.”

Another pause, to catch his breath this time. “I don't know where it starts or where it ends, I didn't really pay much attention to the slight deviations in smell on the way here. So that's a gamble. However, we could just head in the other direction, with tailwind. That way, I'll be able to smell them from miles away, and I might be able to tell if they're coming our way or not. It means that we'll be heading into the forest without me being able to smell what's ahead of us though. And we'll be distancing us from the Sanikas Pass. Though I trust you can find the way back to Wind Reach easily enough, right? Oh, but as long as we're in these wolves' territory I don't think there's a large chance of us running into other packs or other predators. But that's just a guess.” He looked up then, staring in the golden hues of the scout, his expression clearly asking what she thought was their best bet. Brandon himself thought the latter option better. But there was one last option; just heading to the side. Though that one wasn't much better than the first choice in the bat's opinion.

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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Khara on May 20th, 2015, 3:22 pm

The climb back down the tree was more difficult than Khara had thought it would be. She had expected that the trip up would be more than enough to prepare her for what branches she would have to lower herself down to, but everything looked different from above. Heading upwards apparently was more natural feeling as well, whereas going down seemed like her body was protesting something her head wasn't aware of.

She kept close to the trunk of the tree, using it to lean against as she slowly made her way to the lower branches, her eyes trying to focus on the limbs of the tree rather than the ground lurking below. First a crouch, then she lowered one foot until she felt something other than just air beneath. She tried to allow the transfer of her weight to feel something other than terrifying but the entire process still left her heart beating far harder than Khara wanted to admit. As she tightened her hold on the limb with one hand and braced the other against the tree's trunk she carefully lowered her other foot to meet the other. The process was repeated, a bit more sure of herself with each branch, but still slow going enough that Brandon was firmly on the ground and had seemed to wave her off before she was low enough to join him.

The last branch was sat upon as he offered up some opinions on their options for leaving the area, feet childishly swinging back and forth in the slightest of manners until Khara realized what she was doing and put a stop to it. She glanced back in the direction the wolves were feasting and frowned a bit in thought - None of their options seemed particularly safe, but then again that entire concept seemed to go right out the nest whenever you stepped into The Unforgiving. Her eyes raised upwards, trying to judge where Syna had started to pierce through the waning snow storm that had greeted them when they left Wind Reach. It wasn't getting particularly dark and Khara guessed it couldn't have been more than a handful of bells that they had been out for; plenty of time to take the long route back that would offer them at least the option of knowing where the wolves were in proximity to them if they chose to follow the two Chiet. If the storm moved back in, though…

"Is there a way you know that we can hide our scent?" She asked with a mixture of idle curiosity and genuine inquiry. It seemed like Brandon knew a lot more about the subject than she did and while sometimes she found it difficult to fully absorb information, the Chiet girl always was eager to learn new things. "If not, then we should probably keep with the… tailwind" - she stumbled a bit over the familiar concept yet unfamiliar word in Common - "We can head more into the trees and cut back towards the Pass when we are clear with no problem."

Khara looked away from Brandon and towards the ground, the gap between the lowest branch and sparse forest's floor gauged as she tried to decide the best way down. She doubted she would hurt herself if she just dropped, though she did wish that the snow that had been so plentiful in the open meadows had been here as well to help cushion her fall. It was the sound the scout was more concerned with causing and so with a sigh of resignation over the knowledge it would look anything but smooth and confident she gripped the branch of the tree, praying the leather of her gloves would still give her a decent hold as slowly turned from where she sat before letting herself shift off the branch completely. Her arms and hands protested the length of time it took her to fully straighten out, the rest of her muscles joining in on complaining about the unfamiliar motions she was demanding of them as she dangled from the branch but it was only when Khara was entirely certain her feet couldn't get any closer to the ground that she let go and dropped the last bit as silently as possible - which sadly wasn't nearly as quiet as she wanted. Still, she was fairly sure it hadn't made quite the noise that she would have if she had just dropped straight to the ground.

She shook her arms out a bit before she unslung her bow from her back, the warning that Brandon provided about not being able to tell what was in front of them if they followed the chosen route standing out in her thoughts. The rumors of the not-quite bear the other game scouts had seen some time ago in particular refused to be ignored. A sheepish smile was offered to the other Chiet along with a small shrug of her shoulder.

"Who knows, we may even spot something else the hunters can take their frustration over losing the Alkana over," she offered, optimism carrying even through her hushed tones.


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Rule Number One, Try Not to Die (Brandon Blackwing)

Postby Brandon Blackwing on May 20th, 2015, 7:01 pm

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“To hide your scent?” the bat echoed with a frown. Sure, he knew some methods, but they weren't exactly what he'd call pleasant. Especially not to him and his sensitive nose. “Well, you can camouflage it with a stronger scent... See it like a cloak you're wrapping your own scent in.” A nice analogy, but the thief wasn't smiling at all. “There are multiple ways to do it, and the more effective ones I can think off are the least pleasant ones.” A sigh. “First option is wrapping ourselves in strong-smelling herbs or leaves and whatnot. Though I'd imagine you'd need a good knowledge of the properties of the herbs for it to be effective. And not to mess up. Some herbs are very popular among certain animals, and attract them. But I doubt plant matter is very effective, actually.”

Brandon cast a quick glance towards the wolves, trying to gauge from the speed with which they were feasting how long they had before they would focus on other things. “A better method would be covering yourself with mud. Smearing it everywhere on your body and clothing, maybe even on your gear too. That would be pretty effective, I guess. Though not as effective -and repulsive for that matter- as the last option I can think of.” The thought alone was making the bat a little sick. He could picture it all too vividly, which nearly triggered his gag reflex. “Last option is covering yourself in poop.” The bat tried to keep a straight face -a complete poker-face- as he spoke, but he felt the muscles responsible for forming his expressions disagree and twitch.

“Yeah, so that. If you already think that's disgusting, you may try to imagine what it would be like for me.” He tapped his nose and sighed. “Though I can't deny it is very effective.” His gaze went upwards again, to the scout sitting on the branch. “I suggest we stick with the tailwind. Though we'd better move fast.” Khara dropped down soon after, a bit louder than the bat had expected, and he quickly stared at the wolves, hoping they hadn't noticed. Nope -or maybe they had but didn't care- they were still eating, and well, Brandon's ears were both closer to the source of the noise and rather sensitive.

Optimistic as one could be, the game scout apparently had decided they'd take the long way back, and Brandon agreed of course, though he didn't really share her optimism. You never knew what lurked in the Unforgiving, you never knew what you would find or what was going to happen. His trip from Lhavit to Wind Reach had proved that much. Whether they found something for the hunters to shoot or not, Brandon just hoped it wouldn't be a monstrosity or abomination; that encounter during his trip had been traumatizing enough, he'd rather not see those events repeated. And if they were summing up creatures he did not want to run into, he'd also rather not come across an owl of gigantic proportions. Feathery fiends with claws big enough to cut open his entire back all over again, no thank you very much!

For a while, Brandon guarded the silence, focusing on sounds that sounded suspicious, on birdsong he wasn't familiar with and on anything that sounded as a rather large creature coming their way. The scents of the wolves too were monitored, but fortunately they weren't as strong as they were before, which obviously meant they weren't coming for them. That was one small victory at least. However, they had not yet exited the wolves territory, for the smell of urine still hung in the air; stale but prominent, coming from trees and bushes. Here and there Brandon also spotted some droppings, which he assumed were those of the wolves -they didn't look like that of a deer. After some more walking and some more distance put between the pair of scouts and the predators, Brandon relaxed a little, though he still kept his guard up.

“So,” he spoke eventually, deciding it was time for some socialization, “Is Zhol always overprotective of you or was that just because he didn't trust me?” Perhaps not the best start of a conversation, a little awkward really. Maybe he should just have asked for her to tell him how to say certain things in Nari. But not now, later. Brandon was quite curious if the horse boy had actually told his girlfriend about their encounter.

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Brandon Blackwing
The master thief Incognito
 
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