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 NSFW/Explicit  Male x Male  Fantasy  One x One Roleplay  World Building The Jaws of Winter (Ashryn & Kilenath)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Kilenath, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

    Messages:
    25
    Local Time:
    10:51 PM
    Vanya was fond of sentry duty. He found peace in the lone vigil, his mind never more alert and the world brought into sharper focus. It was a clarity hard to find when the brothers of his patrol were conscious, the comfortable familiarity of their empathically conveyed feelings ever-present. For now, they settled behind him in a rocky nook lit with the ruddy faience from their campfire, the vibrancy incongruous with the rest of the world, red-gold tongues of light and restless shadows. The warriors were bedding down for the night, bellies temporarily mollified with a mean meal of dried stock fish and weak mead. They would sleep like the dead, heartbeats slow and faces toward the heat, each to take his turn as the stars wheeled overhead.

    He had his back to them, watching the territory they patrolled with eyes pale and luminous as fine opal.

    Before him, The Mother’s skin was a whitewashed vista, hard, clean and cold. It was a purity he could appreciate, no matter how bleak and unforgiving, the sheer magnitudes of her snow-scapes, the vastness of pristine tracts of land with every landmark smothered to anonymity breath-taking. It was a treacherous place to travel, the threat of what lay beneath a constant that could not be ignored, and as many hurts taken from the terrain itself as the predators which stalked it, day and night. At this point in the Turn, with Sol’s arrival still cycles away, it was difficult to tell the difference between the two.

    It was also the time of year where the skies were at their most spectacular, a dangerous distraction of undulating lights rippling the horizon. They wove in ribbons of azure and violet, in purest white beneath the lofty arch of The Road Home, an arching band that swept high and disappeared over the horizon’s edge, to take the dead home to rest.

    Or so the Godsmen said. Vanya had never been as religious as some, though his doubts never tripped past his tongue. Fool be he to voice such things and add to his list of failings.

    Beside Vanya sat a monster. The direwolf he’d bonded to was a dark beast better suited to the black sand of the coast, or the anthracite rocks in the foothills of the Arms of the Mother. There was no hiding him in the snows. He slipped across them on thick-furred paws like an oil stain, his single eye pale jade and lit with a shrewd intelligence. He was not hulking, as some of his species could be when full grown, but a monster nonetheless, and Vanya did not try to deny the fact. The wild-born wolf had been a tyrant amongst his pack for two dozen years before they’d bonded, and it was a brave Alfar who was not wary of him. Karth, old already for a warrior’s beast brother, undoubtedly enjoyed that fact.

    The pair sat close, sharing body heat and surveying the conquering ice with what Vanya suspected was mutual appreciation. The rest of the wolf pack had splintered, one or two curled against their bonded Alfar, the others scouting, noses down, snow crunching glass-like under their considerable weight. Better hunters than their two-legged brothers, they’d a greater chance of finding meals without their quarry being tipped off. With a little luck, they’d return with muzzles red and the gnawing ache of hunger banished, taste of blood thick in their throats.

    Luck did not favour them that evening.

    Karth rose with startling alacrity, ears pricked tall, sinuous and deadly. Even with one eye, he’d sensed something approaching before Vanya, nose carrying the drifting scent of…

    The wolf visualised it for his less gifted brother. A hazy, ill-coloured image of Alfar and wolves – the latter more distinct. Wolves he knew, then. The image sat in Vanya’s mind, projected as if it sat just behind his eyes, and the hastening thrum of his heart calmed. Another patrol, though not originating from their own warband.

    The territory they were patrolling was sat close to that bordering their own, and it would not be the first time the warriors of two bands had met. In other regions, it might be cause for conflict. Here, close to Sølvkjever, that would not be the case. A good working relationship with the neighbours made life far easier.

    “Asger, Leif,” he called softly to some of the Alfar behind him. “Company comes. Wake the others.”

    The pair lifted drowsy heads with ill concealed reluctance, introduced elbows and boots lightly to the others until all were sat up, bundled cocoons of fur and hide sending the silent calls to bring their hunting wolves home. Now would not be the time for the encroaching patrol to run into lone animals.
     
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  2. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    5:51 PM
    Veliko liked this time of day at this time of year because the world was vibrant with color. The endless gray and white of rock and ice was temporarily dyed a soft rose fading to violet and finally settling into a dark indigo, mirroring the sky with its fluttering curtains of green and bright pink. Despite it having been an evening much like this that his young life had been turned upside down, Vel found the atmosphere relaxing. His beloved wolf did too. Nivan sidled close for a moment, bumping his head against Vel’s hand in a brief show of affection, before padding off again with the rest of his pack to scout ahead.

    They were nearing the border of their lands but the patrol chief had insisted on pushing their trek to the very edge. Their dyrmann had communed with ravens patiently waiting for the hunters to take what they would from their kill. The birds had shown the dyrmann images of stone dwellers coming to the surface to hunt, attacking Alfar hunting parties who had already done the work for them. This news had their squad on high alert, Vel most of all. If the dwellers came up to hunt for themselves, that would be one thing, but to attack Alfar to steal their kill, was unforgivable. No Alfar was without the means to defend themselves to one degree or another, but hunters were not warriors. The stone dwellers showed their complete lack of honor by targeting civilian groups, and no warrior could forgive that, least of all, Vel. The very thought made his hands stray to his swords, gripping the hilts tightly, as if promising his mind that his body would respond appropriately if given the chance.

    They scanned the terrain for signs of ambush. Even with their exceptional night vision, the Alfar could not hope to match that of those living underground. Vel could feel the agitation of several of his brothers, a few directing it toward him for his burst of anger and sorrow a moment ago. He opened his fingers, releasing his stranglehold on his weapons, and forced his emotions back into the dungeon he usually kept them in. A twitchy patrol was not what was needed right now.

    The wolves returned, their tails fluffed and erect, images of wolf friends Zivan hadn’t seen in awhile flitting across Vel’s mind’s eye, a large, black wolf dominating the projection, a wolf neither of them recognized, cutting an impressive and imposing figure beside his bond brother, an attractive man Vel knew he’d remember if he’d met him before.

    It wasn’t uncommon to meet other patrols this close to the border. Thankfully, this was one border with whom they were friendly. Veering toward the small patrol camp, they would at least give greeting for passing so close, and if invited, would gladly spend the night amidst friends, sharing watches and resources. From the look of things, the patrol had already begun to bed down for the night, but it was unlikely they’d turn down the offer of fresh meat that Vel’s group had and were willing to share, a gift from the hunting party they’d defended yesterday.

    Greeting fellow warriors with a warm clasp of the forearm as the wolves sniffed and snuffed one another, Vel noticed a slight tension in the mood of the camp that he’d never experienced before, and it wasn’t directed at them but seemed to revolve around the attractive male and his unique wolf, who had Nivan, conflicted on a good day about how dominant he wanted to be, in a confused state halfway between aggressive and submissive. Vel threaded his fingers through the fur on the back of Nivan’s neck, calming him with a touch. We have enough enemies without making new ones. He communicated the sentiment not just to Nivan but also to his warband, who like Nivan, were at a loss as to how to handle the odd mixture of welcome laced with tension. Not our business.

    Once he was relatively sure Nivan would behave, Vel greeted the warrior with the black wolf, giving him a warm smile and a firm, friendly grip to his arm. Nivan crouched slightly, his tail low but his ears perked until Vel flicked one with his finger. Knock it off. He communicated the concept of being guests in the wolf’s home and as such, Nivan should behave appropriately. That seemed to get through to him and he grudgingly lowered his ears and averted his gaze. “He doesn’t mean to be rude. He just can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up,” Vel said with a soft laugh, stroking the top of Nivan’s head with his fingertips. Nivan wasn’t a puppy but he was young considering the lifespan the wolves were capable of. “He hasn’t met many outside of his own pack so this is a somewhat new experience for him.”
     
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  3. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

    Messages:
    25
    Local Time:
    10:51 PM
    Unusual circumstances, these, but celebrated to a point. The snow-conquered lands between settlements were not oft crossed without good reason, and communities were isolated, sometimes half-buried until the brief, spring months made passage possible. In some places, that isolation gave birth to an insular attitude, and in others, the precise opposite. Vanya watched as his friend, Leif, played prime example of this, his guileless warmth instantly helping to offset the undercurrents his own present made immutable. The large, red-haired Alfar was soon drawing the new arrivals in around their fire, welcoming them by name as if they were long-lost kin, delivering resounding claps to shoulders and back that Vanya knew the sting and jar of all too well. Their little cleft in the rock had become crowded, the wolves milling amongst them, licking at one another’s mouths, noses to backsides, the rank scent of their heavy coats something Vanya could almost taste when the crisp air had rendered everything else so sterile.

    Karth remained beside him, no keener to join in the impulsive camaraderie than he, but accepting the slinking, submissive approach of this wolf and that, come to pay their respects to a beast sometimes twice their age. Occasionally, his lip curled, a show of fang or wrinkled nose hurrying along those who weren’t cowed enough initially, but his growls were sub-audible, and Vanya only knew they were there because he could feel the vibration of them against his shoulder where they leaned against one another. There was no point in trying to rationalise the need for harmony with Karth. He had no doubts whatsoever that the beast’s intelligence surpassed the norm, that his own agenda was prime. He simply had no inkling what that agenda might be.

    The proximity of a new wolf, heretofore unknown, would normally have resulted in some posturing, particularly when the individual was displaying such mixed signals. Instead, Karth seemed to lean forward subtly, head low and shoulder blades jutting as he considered the smaller direwolf with that single, luminous eye… then slid down off the rock to sniff him where he crouched, a deliberate invasion of his space without the slightest concern that he might be snapped at.

    Vanya, perplexed, had been so fixated on the unpredictable behaviour that the Alfar bonded to him had barely earned his regard until he spoke. He hesitated only briefly before rising from the rock where he’d been playing sentry, and reaching to return the clasp of arms, grip strong through layers of fur and leather. A new face, no youngling on his first patrol with a wolf little more than a pup, and he sensed, unaware of his reputation. That in itself was a breath of fresh air, and there was a prickling of something… hopeful in what Veliko might sense from him. It wasn’t much to ask, to be greeted without prior knowledge tarring him.

    “He’s time yet to find what’s comfortable,” he assured the stranger, voice a warm baritone, softly spoken as Alfar often were, accustomed to mimicking the quiet of their brothers. “Just don’t let him follow any bad examples.” Humour, just a lick of it, as he regarded his own wolf, nose deep in Nivan’s scruff, snorting as he sniffed him, probably thanks to fur in his nostrils. “I’m Ivan,” he offered simply, and might have said more if Leif hadn’t called across.

    “Vanya!” A correction, “no need to be formal.”

    “Vanya,” he echoed, “if you prefer.” He would not expect everyone to be immediately comfortable with the diminutive form of sharing names. Still, he smiled as he said it. The sort of smile that had all the impact of a sucker punch but came perfectly naturally. Reached the eyes too, ever-winter pale, a grey without any blue adulteration. “That’s Karth,” he nodded towards the shadow-spun wolf, who had apparently satisfied himself in regards to the warrior’s indecisive brother, and was now investigating Veliko himself. “Our resident bad example. You are?”

    He didn’t invite him to sit, but only because he suspected he’d soon be joining the others, tucked up about the fire and pulling the mead from their packs, drinking horns thrust expectantly towards flasks and curious, lupine noses diverted away from the meat the new arrivals had brought with them.
     
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  4. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    5:51 PM
    Veliko flicked his gaze to the striking Alfar that had volunteered Vanya's nickname, then back to the man in question, who seemed to grudgingly concede the name. He studied the warrior who didn't appear to be that much older than him, yet had a wolf that was clearly too old to have been a pup when Vanya was of bonding age, which meant that he'd somehow managed to heal a broken bond which almost unheard of. That impressed Veliko and made him curious as to the story behind that. It must be a good one. Looking at the two of them together, Veliko couldn't imagine a pair more suited to one another. They shared the same caution, the same intense gaze. Vanya almost seemed like a wolf himself.

    "Aww, I bet he's not that bad of an example," he said with an affectionate smile at the dark wolf. He sensed confusion rolling within Vanya as he stared at the wolves. Was there something unique about this encounter? "He's behaving admirably considering Nivan's rudeness. Karth could probably teach Nivan a lot, by the looks of him. He seems to have led a full life already." Veliko remained still as Karth investigated him thoroughly. He avoided meeting the wolf's eyes, showing respect for the experience Karth obviously had, given his scars.

    "Oh, my apologies," he said, straightening when Vanya asked for his name. "Veliko." He returned Vanya's smile. "Vel, if you prefer."

    Luka, the huskari leading Vel's patrol, called him over. "I need to tend to the horses. We have fresh meat to share if you'd like some." Vel crossed the small camp, Nivan following at his heel. Vel stopped to greet the redhead Alfar, Lief, who had corrected Vanya's introduction. Thanking him for sharing their fire, Vel left Nivan to get acquainted with all the other wolves, and went to help Luka bed the horses down for the night. As the youngest in the patrol, Vel was often given the chores. He didn't resent that. The huskari and older warriors had done the same when they were in Vel's position

    When he was finished, the scent of roasting meat was heavy in the air, making his stomach protest the lack of food since breakfast. The warriors of his patrol were mingled with the others around the fire, already boisterous and well on their way to a good buzz. If Vel joined them, he'd be the brunt of many jokes, which he didn't mind, but he was more interested in talking more with Vanya than engaging in meaningless drunken chatter with the rest.

    Nivan came back to his side as he neared the fire. Noticing that Vanya and Karth had remained at their post, Vel got two skewers of meat and a horn of ale, thanking Lief again for the use of their fire, and went over to Vanya, holding out the skewers of meat. "One's for you," he said. "We'll have to share the ale. I couldn't carry more."
     
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  5. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

    Messages:
    25
    Local Time:
    10:51 PM
    “So I hear tell,” Vanya admitted, of his wolf’s past. An odd thing, to know he’d history bound to another Alfar, one who must have influenced his formative years and might perhaps have been the root cause for so many facets of his impenetrable behaviour. Karth glanced his way, the single bright eye laughing at his discomfiture, the mirth rough-warm against his mind. Here was an animal content in his own enigma.

    When Vel excused himself to assist with the shaggy pack animals they’re brought with them, Karth returned to his side, bleeding lupine contentment as they settled once more upon the rocky perch. There would be no conflict within the mingled pack that night, none the old wolf saw as a threat, and with Leif’s pale beast, Ethnir, to play buffer when any wrestling became too vigorous, Vanya knew that he could safely fix his watch upon the wilds again, instead of his warband and their guests. It did not occur to him that he might find himself with company again so soon, so he was quite unprepared when Veliko, as he had introduced himself, approached with some of the shared meal, a mouth-watering luxury of spitted meat. How long had it been since he’d had something that wasn’t dried or salted so heavily he could barely taste the flesh? Fat dribbled down the end of the skewer as he accepted it from the Alfar’s no doubt equally greasy fingers.

    Karth sniffed at the skewered chunks of flesh, but ultimately turned his nose away, filling Vanya’s head (and somehow waking a memory of taste upon his tongue) of the wet heat of new-spilt blood. More flavour. The pulse of it from raw wounds as a struggling heart continued to pump. Sometimes, the wolf’s communications really were poorly timed. Still, it was not enough to deter him from eating.

    “Only a mouthful for me,” he promised of the ale, “I’ve first watch. It would be a poor showing if I were to end up in a stupor because some strapping young Alfar encouraged me to overindulge.” He was polite enough to wait until he’d swallowed his mouthful of meat before offering a grateful smile. “Here,” he said, “there’s a little padding, unless you’re prefer soggy haunches before you turn in.”

    He’d thrown a fur down on the rock, skin side down to keep the wet from creeping through. To call it padding was overgenerous by civilian standards, but for an Alfar of the warrior caste, it was prime comfort. Luckily for Vel, it was on the opposite end to which Karth sat, but it had an added boon for Vanya, who would end up flanked, and far warmer than he had been, if the unfamiliar Alfar chose to accept his invitation.

    The banter of the others, though rowdy by a warband’s standards, was far from being raucous. These were a race accustomed to respecting the natural quiet of a moonbright night, lest they draw burrowing jormunguar, or worse to their temporary refuge. Leif was playing skald for the evening, likely embellishing some tale to the delight of his listeners, who wouldn’t mind the lack of poetry so long as he proved ribald enough to inspire them. Vanya, who knew all his tales, did not strain his ears in an endeavour to hear them with some new twist.

    Instead, he studied his companion as he chewed, his curiosity palpable. Perhaps a little tension too, as if he were expecting him to turn tail and return to the others. It was a strange longing, this want for company, because he felt an equal hope that he *would* depart the vantage point, and spare him the sting of rejection when the oily unease everyone seemed to harbour in his presence finally eroded his poor sense. It simply felt judicious to expect the worst these days, for Vanya had not the wherewithal to make anyone feel otherwise.

    “Have you and your brothers found much trouble in recent days?” he asked, tip-toeing around the real question buzzard-circling his thoughts. Why have you sought me out? Karth, on his opposite side, huffed a sound that, had he been Alfar, would probably have come with a roll of eyes. He did not appreciate the lack of directness. Vanya sent him the mental equivalent of an elbow in the ribs, to discourage further mockery. "We've had nothing to slow us but a wyvern, and even that not full grown." Foolish to wish for more, but an uneventful patrol would not endear the residents of Sølvkjever to them, when they were already bitter about extra mouths. The warriors needs must earn their keep.
     
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  6. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Member

    Messages:
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    5:51 PM
    Vel chuckled at the look on Vanya's face coupled with the emotion rolling off of him, as if it was the most startling thing for someone to seek out his company. Perhaps it was, and that was sad. He seemed interesting and pleasant enough. And he was definitely responding to a gift of food. His smile transformed his face. He was attractive when pensive and careful, but he was downright stunning when he smiled.

    "Strapping. If I thought I could talk you into it, I might try, but I don't fight battles I can't win, if I can help it." Vanya spread his cloak out for him on the rocks. "Thank you. My haunch appreciates it." He settled beside him, tucking the horn into the crease of the rocks. "I'll keep you company until you shoo me away. I would have had first watch anyway."

    Nivan inched his nose toward the dripping skewer in Vel's hand. "At," Vel noised at the wolf, meeting his eyes for a second. "Because you'll try and steal it." The wolf flopped at his feet with a huff, looking up at him, furry silver brow wrinkling in consternation.

    Nivan wasn't the only one who seemed torn. Vel was getting all sorts of mixed signals coming off Vanya but chose not to act on any of them. The man seemed capable of speaking for himself so if he wanted to be alone, Vel figured he'd say so. It wasn't often Vel got to meet warriors outside his own warband and Vel was a social creature. He liked getting to know new people, especially mysterious, attractive men who found him 'strapping.'

    Biting off some of the meat, Vel groaned happily. "Mmng. I'm so tired of patrol rations." He drank some of the ale and nodded at Vanya's question. "The last two weeks there's been an increase. I'm surprised you haven't experienced it too. We've had two ambushes on our patrol directly and a small group attacked a hunting party yesterday, which was how we got this meat. It was their way of showing thanks."

    The meat soured a little in Vel's mouth. One of the hunters had died and Vel always took the loss of a hunter personally. Hunters left the safety of their village to come into the wilds armed with weapons suitable for taking down beasts from afar, not for close combat, to bring meat back for everyone. They shouldn't have to die doing it, or if they did, it should be because the animal bested them.

    He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "It's a mixed blessing when they leave you alone for awhile, isn't it? The longer it goes on, the more jumpy you get, thinking it has to happen soon."
     
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  7. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    10:51 PM
    “A guilty pleasure,” Vanya confessed solemnly. “You’re spared the personal grief, but you know it only means they’re harrying the Alfar of another warband. It seems you and your brothers have taken the brunt and spared us.” He’d been too attentively following the nuances of Vel’s empathic energy to have missed the tragic slant it took. He turned his regard to the warriors wedged in companionably amongst his own, saw no injury to account to it, and came to the inevitable conclusion; one of them had fallen, and the beast brother bound to him had either been slain in his defence, or bolted mad-minded, twisted by the agony of a violent severing.

    The frequency with which they lost warriors had been staggering when as Therra, a raw recruit, he’d seen patrols return to the warcamp fewer in number, or dragging their injured on litters. The dead-eyed survivors had been more terrifying than the absences, and for a while, it hadn’t seemed such a cruel thing for him to be struggling to find a wolf to bond to. No warrior would choose that miserable existence over a clean death, had they the choice, and no one spoke ill of those warriors who, too close to the brink, quietly found an end of their own making rather than face the possibility of a life spent un-whole.

    “They must be opening new tunnels,” he determined, eyeing Vel through the steam rising off his skewer. “I’ll have Asger get out the maps when he takes second vigil. Perhaps we can pinpoint likely spots if we plot the path you took.”

    It would benefit them all to have a clearer picture of their enemy’s movements. All the more reason to encourage good relations between the warbands of neighbouring settlements. Their borders had, thankfully, been long established, and Sølvkjever’s town council was currently overseen by a level headed Hersir who hadn’t the taste for expansion or in-fighting.

    Vanya narrowed eyes cool as taiga lakes as he panned his gaze over the snow conquered tableau, searching, as he knew Karth did, for some sign that the Stone Dwellers might have created a new opening close to their bivouac. There were no collapses though, nothing out of the ordinary for this particular region, and by now he knew it well enough to be sure. Still frowning, finely etched lines marring his ivory brow, he stole the horn for a swallow, the weak alcohol no real risk to his faculties no matter how he might have teased about Veliko intending to get him inebriated.

    “Something must have changed,” he murmured, “for them to be trying new tactics. A change in chieftains perhaps, or some resource they want to exploit that they mean to scare Alfar away from. I’d like to get down one of those tunnels of theirs one day, and let them know how it feels to be unsafe in their own territory.”

    No sane Alfar would willingly visit one of those twisting warrens, not when it was such a simple thing for the occupants to drop the tunnels on the invader’s head, but Vanya’s confession came with an odd, dark savagery that felt very... wolf. Perhaps the influence of his beast, or just as likely the cause for the tension palpable in this patrol. There was a brevity to it though, which suggested it was not beyond his control. So quicksilver a thing had it been that it might have been something imagined. Vanya tucked the horn of ale back into the crevice and tore another chunk of meat from his skewer, chewing it to one side of his mouth as he spoke.

    “How is it we’ve never crossed paths on this patrol before?” he asked Veliko, all cautious curiosity again. “I’m sure Eorlund would have told us all about you by now if he’d met you.” The name Eorlund had a certain infamy to it that stretched far beyond the warband. He rarely seemed to go a night without sharing his furs with someone, and the speed at which he worked to entice another patrol’s warrior during their brief meetings boggled the mind. In a way, he’d just paid Vel a compliment however. Eorlund only targeted the physically appealing ones.
     

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