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Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
Undane smiles down, the heat of the Sun baking the earth, leaving clumps of dried cake where once there was mud. Undane smiles down, all but here, where the fog is so thick and unyielding; creeping in the dark like a sickness. Sly blinks blearily out of the door of his den, having just had the most unenjoyable nap, no matter how he tossed, he couldn’t get comfortable. He had let that go on for what must have been an hour, then he huffed, peeked out the hole of his home and confirmed; it had been exactly that- an hour!

“Useless,” he grumbled, pulling the length of his thin body from his house, stretching his legs until his toes splayed. Front crouched to the ground, back dipping into a slide, then he yawned, rows of sharp teeth on display. Righting himself, a good shake and he was done, looking around the swamps with a flat stare.

“Oh good afternoon Ourania,” he spoke with the most condescending tone, full of sarcasm and spite. It’s been a while since there was anyone to speak to in these parts, a very long while indeed, so Sly has taken to greeting the whole of Ourania as if she is still some living, breathing thing. (once he believed she was, once was a very long time ago, when his people lit fires in honor of the seasons, broke bread as a whole) Matter of habit, sniffing the swampy air, the putrid stink of boggy water and flies that float from one dung pile, to the next decaying fish.

It’s not much, yet he stayed, carving the hole in the hill beneath the petrified Juniper- leaving the bones of his meals by the door. Sly wasn’t good at housekeeping, maybe that was another reason he had slunk to the swamps; aside from his own self preservation. Can he be blamed? When faced with an inevitable War, one which did not concern him in the slightest, nor his people, the choice was easy. Even still, there were some that did not see it that way, coward they called him, he disagreed. It was not his cowardice that made him flee, it was his strength, and look, just look at the place, he was right was he not?

Bones on the beaches, a trench carved the length of the realm, he had wanted no part of it then, he wanted no part of it now. 
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Avrik had left Taggard and Wallace at their camp to scout ahead. Even if Ourania was his home, things could change and he didn't want to lead the merry band into dire straits. Unfortunately, the fastest route from Anemone to the Rift was through this wretched swamp, and Avrik figured that time was of the essence if he hoped to regain any scrap of the magic he had lost. It had been months since the cataclysm, and it seemed that the longer he went the worse he felt. He was tired and achy in a way that travel alone couldn't account for. The only fortunate fact of the swamp was how the fog blotted out the summer sun into a distant glow, saving Avrik's delicate skin from burning.

As Avrik slogged through thick mud and stagnant water, he remembered exactly how much he hated Fawnlis and exactly why. The pristine white of his coat was smudged dark and dirty, and the god awful smell was remarkably somehow worse than he recalled. The scent of rotting plant matter was nearly overwhelming at times, and he truly worried about staying here for long enough that the stench might embed itself permanently into his skin or stain his pelt. A truly horrid thought for a creature as vain as Avrik.

Though he tried to stay balanced atop logs and other floating debris as he made his way through, an unfortunate placement of paws on a slimy, algae encrusted rock sent the coyote sprawling into the mire. His head went under, earning himself two mouthfuls of the fetid muck before he managed to get his paws under himself and stand.

Avrik's head burst through the surface, coughing and sputtering and cursing. Managing to swipe a wrist across his face enough to clear a single eye of the disgusting water, he cast his gaze about and quickly settled on a spot of high ground topped by a rather sad looking tree. But he wasn't going to be picky as long as he could get solid ground under his feet and get himself out of this absolute mess.

Avrik stomped his way towards the hill, now looking much more like a B-movie monster than a canine. Or rather, he stomped as well as one can through chest-deep water and mud. He noticed much too late that there was already a canine who had claimed this little slice of hilltop, but already seething with irritation and entirely Done with everything he kept on going. Avrik didn't care if they didn't want him here, they'd just have to deal with it.

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
He found a seat at his door, among the brittle bones of his kills and rummaged through the leftovers even now. Selecting a bone to chew on and once more laying against the deep ochre earth, sinking into the giving ground. Cleanliness was not a forte of his, much like housekeeping, Sly rarely ever bathed, finding it an unnecessary effort. There was no one here for him to keep clean for, the layers of muck often kept away unwanted company as well, or covered his own scent enough that few predators ever came this way.

With a gruff he flattens himself, one black paw against the yellow bone, gnawing at the piece until it cracked- at least there was marrow to be enjoyed on the inside. A meager lunch was lunch all the same, and he watched the bleak expanse of the bogs with the flattest stare.

Nothing unusual happened, until it did.

There was the alarm of unneeded coughing, sputtering and altogether loud splashing. Sylvester twisted his copper head, the large ears at his crown twisting towards the raucous, eyes narrowing in the same direction. Just when he was sure he had left the presence of his kind far behind, (o, it has been years since he has seen a face) here they were, causing a scene.

“Are you lost?” There wasn’t a shred of concern to be had in that question, he dipped his head and crunched again, chocolate eyes never leaving the pale wolf. Really, what were they doing here?

There is no hesitation at the appearance, the double ears and mouths not something to concern himself with, what did it matter? It’s the pink tips of him that does peak interest, something that sunlight would surely burn, maybe that was the answer as to why this creature was stumbling his way through Sly’s home.

“The meadow is back behind you,” no one ever came through here on their own account, they weren’t looking to stay so of course this one was also looking for someplace else. Probably any place but this.

That made him laugh, the gruffest chuckle, short lived and raspy.

“Now really,” huffy as he stood, “see the clusters of Arum? Step there.” It was sort of a nice thing, as far as Sly was concerned. Even now he was wondering why he was even offering assistance.
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Avrik spent a few pained seconds looking over his own muck encrusted body, mouths hesitantly opened as if he made to lick himself clean but immediately thinking better of it. He really did not want to ingest any more of the fetid pond water than he already had, and was already feeling quite queasy over the taste that still sat heavily on his tongues. The best option was really a bath, but he obviously wasn't going to find any clean water here. It seemed that there was nothing to do for it until he made his way out of Fawnlis.

Avrik signed dramatically, finally turning his attention to the other male that was prattling on in front of him. His ears flattened and eyes narrowed, clearly unimpressed with the near-snide comments the canine was tossing his way. He wasn't lost, and obviously he knew where the meadow was. He'd just came from that direction! 

"Smartass." He muttered under his breath. He couldn't help but roll his eyes.

Avrik cast half a glance towards the plants the male pointed out to him before returning his attention to the male. Avrik's three eyes raked over the canine's appearance. His fur was coppery, near vulpine and could perhaps even be considered pretty were it not just about as filthy as Avrik's own coat. But Avrik had just fallen into the damned swamp, what was this guy's excuse? Knowing just where to step apparently hadn't spared the russet canine from the filth of this place.

"For all the good it seems to have done you," He remarked. "You sure you're not lost?"

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
There was nothing to give besides the return of the dullest stare, watching flatly as the albino cheesed his way into muck and gloom. Perhaps he wasn’t smiling, maybe he just looked that way, Sly was surprised that both mouths were operational. All the better for the yippy wolf, sort of wolf, didn’t matter, he shook his head forgetting to finish discerning what this was.

He wasn’t even a wolf himself, not really, he looked more like an overgrown fox than anything. Sylvester wasn’t a fox either.

“Me?” Another chuckle, the throaty mess that teetered on a hacking cough. “Absolutely not, I live here,” he had lived here for some time, blatantly avoiding social interactions with others, especially the damned horses that were hellbent on thrashing his kind about.

It is now that he sat, resting his thin frame on the support of his backside, curling the fluff of his tail around himself. One leg lifts, scratching wildly at his ear until his whole spine is quivering, that was indeed the spot. “I make a point to stay dirty,” not that it mattered, but he wasn’t the victim of near drowning, he had heard the sputtering and spitting of the other clearly. “Harder to sniff out, harder to spot, especially when it comes to the gators,” his leg lowered, and again he rested, slouching like an old crone.

“No one comes this way,” another thought, clearly not used to speaking to anyone else, so his own mulling thoughts came freely from his narrow mouth. “Not for a good while,” he stares off to the west, sniffing at the air, wondering if this was some sort of bamboozle- he’d like to see someone outwit him in the wetlands.

“Surely this isn’t your destination,” then again maybe this one had come to rot here, much like he had tried to do, some many ages ago.
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Avrik couldn't help the surprised snort at the male's revelation that he lived here. Really? He couldn't believe that someone would not only voluntarily come here, but make it their home. Then as if that wasn't enough, Avrik near-about wanted to retch at the revelation that the stranger preferred to stay dirty like this. Had this guy inhaled too much swamp gas? Knocked something loose in his head that staying here seemed like a good idea? Subjecting oneself to this dank, rotting place seemed utterly absurd to him. Unimaginable. Avrik had stayed in barracks that smelled better than this place, and that was saying something.

The mention of gators had Avrik not-so-subtly glancing behind himself, carefully pulling his long, draping tail in closer to himself. Shit, he hadn't realized... Well he supposed he'd been lucky enough so far, but he would be sure to keep an eye out now. Though he was a long-time resident of Ourania, obviously Fawnlis was low on his list and he wasn't as familiar with this stretch of Ourania as he pretended to be. But he'd told Taggard that he knew the way, and if nothing else Avrik's pride wouldn't let him renege on that assurance.

"Of course not." Avrik answered with a scoff. "I'm scouting ahead for my companions, we're headed for the Rift and through Fawnlis is the most direct route." He eyed the other canine, this time not with distaste but curiosity. For whatever reason, this male was a resident of this hell-hole, surely he knew it best. "I don't suppose you'd know the best way through, would you?"

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
This one snorts, either caught off guard by the knowledge or something else entirely- Sly doesn’t think long on it, ears twisting on top of his head, listening to the sounds of the swamp. He waits, settled into the littered leaves, the fragile twigs and dark earth, waits to hear answers and learn more himself. Learn more as to why the albino was in the wetlands, who all was roaming about the world, was Ourania coming back to life?

You miss out on a lot when you’re a hermit.

It was odd, this whole talking thing, he can’t recall when last he had done it, spoke to someone else and not mockingly shouted to the swamps. Different, it was different and he was sure he didn’t like it, not one bit. Yet, here he was, rooted to the spot and slow to leave, maybe he didn’t mind it so much in truth. Maybe, but you won’t hear him saying that, not ever.

The tuck of tail, it doesn’t go unnoticed, even if the covert eyeing of their surroundings had- clearly this creature was smart enough to be wary of the gators. Smart, had he just thought that, he hadn’t said it out loud had he? His own eyes dart sidelong, the rich chocolate clearly hiding something, covering his thoughts and hoping he had not mouthed the words as they came rolling into his head.

So, here it was, scouting ahead, companions. That word stuck, companions, so there were more of these roaming about? Sylvester doesn’t recall ever having companions, his kind weren’t pack animals, solitary beings that kept to themselves. That must be why no one ever questioned him going to the swamps, retreating, roaming around by his lonesome. Maned wolves were single unit creatures, until the solstices, when they came together to praise- their traditions had been weaseled out of them, there was too much caution as Ourania fell into darkness before the War.

“Of course I do!” A shout, the tone of his vocals tacking a triumphant ping, and he stood up straight and proud. “Best way through or my name isn’t Sylvester P. Moorcroft-” he stutters, clearly embarrassed at his outburst. “Don’t go repeating that either. Sly will do or nothing at all.” A serious glare took him but he settled again, awaiting confirmation from the pale wolf.
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Avrik jolted slightly at the sudden outburst, lilac eyes widening for a moment as the russet male was suddenly standing, near rippling with pride at being an expert of this terrible place. Avrik supposed everyone had something to be proud of, however slight.

"Oh! Uhh... That's good." Avrik decided, still trying to make heads or tails of the sudden shift in demeanor. Avrik felt like a pup about to be lead on an outing, more than a fully grown, centuries old coyote asking for directions. Avrik had expected maybe a "go a mile past the bog and turn left at the bloated moose carcass". Was Sly really going to lead him through the swamp? It would be awfully nice of him, though Avrik so far had done nothing to earn a favor like that. He hadn't exactly been polite so far. Avrik stood, with much more care and hesitation than Sly had. He grimaced uncomfortably, feeling the drying pond muck pulling at his long fur as he shifted.

"If it's not any trouble to you. I really don't want to stay here any longer than I have to, and I do have others waiting on my return." Avrik mentioned partly to explain his haste, but also a subtle warning that any thoughts to making Avrik 'disappear' in this swamp would not go unnoticed. Sly didn't need to know that Avrik and his 'companions' had only met days before and didn't know each other particularly well. Avrik wasn't even sure that they would care to look for him if he did go missing.

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
Sly comes to a rest, taking a seat but looking ever watchful at the white coyote. A curious creature, the more he looks at him and the feet- do not think the grabby little hand-like appendages have gone unnoticed. Even covered in grime and muck, Sylvester was good at noticing things, especially things that could be useful to himself.

Something in it for him, of course.

“You know, I think I should show you the way. I scratch your back, you can scratch mine. Yes, alright-” There is a cunning film that glazes his cocoa stare, as if he is contemplating how to approach his favor, the words to use- the presentation. The charcoal length of his legs twitch, nerves causing a casual temor, one he ignores and continues his pondering.

“Not a problem in the slightest, we will have you on your way and back to your companions in a jiffy.” This, this is what he takes as the ‘all clear’, he wastes no time in setting the pace, taking a careful path along the thickest patches of Arum. Each slender paw finds the cushion of the green plant, pressing his slight weight into the turf, they do not budge much but there is a faint squelching noise from the contact. With no hesitation, he moves South, it is easy to find, for North lay back behind them- he could tell, he could always tell.

“What a lucky guy you are, finding me here in the brack and muck.” Ever the charmer this one, clearly patting himself on the back for his good deed. “I have an impeccable sense of direction,” boy, he was not even the slightest bit humble about it, still feeling noble for the cause.

“Left here,” he says suddenly, curving between two gnarled stumps, the low, guttural growl of something coming from their right. Sly looks back, making sure the strange fellow is still keeping up, though he has made no rush of their movement, no rush at all- not even now.

“You know, you’re an odd sort of fellow. What is it they call you?” There has been no offering of name exchange, there has been otherwise silence except for the few call outs and the crack of twigs beneath their paws.
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Quickly the lanky auburn male was back on his feet and leading the way, Avrik stumbling to stand and keep up with him.

"Lucky me indeed," Avrik mumbles as he trails along after the long limbed canine, his own shorter legs working double pace to keep up with the ease that the other moved through the swamp. A little sarcastic, he didn't really consider anything about this festering place lucky, but maybe he should be a little more thankful for the help he was getting. Even if he apparently owed some sort of undermined favor for this.

While the pace they set was swift, the coyote made sure to keep note of his surroundings, the position of the dull glow of the sun past the fog, even the loathsome scents. He'd have to remember his way back and then take this route again with Taggard and Wallace in tow.

Avrik nearly misses the sudden turn, casting a frantic glance at the growling they had narrowly avoided. He flinches and speeds up a little, keeping the distance between the two shorter. 

"Well thanks," Avrik deadpans at being called an odd fellow. It probably wasn't meant to be an insult but those sorts of comments were plentiful and tiring after a couple centuries. "The name's Avrik though." He answers.

"You mentioned wanting a favor in return?" Avrik asks, bringing up the earlier topic with a hesitant curiosity.

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
Sly doesn’t stop walking as he asks after the name of the tourist, he keeps his steady pace, finding the path easily on nimble limbs. Even if his steps are slow, one step equal to two for someone else, he did not realize they might not be so slow for his ashy trail companion. Sometimes there are no patches of Arum to use as a stepping stone, this is one such time and so he halts mid-step. “Okay so there is some shallow water here, and it looks like the Arum isn’t taking root, but no matter-” It is now that he looks back at the snowy coyote, the one that is just as brown as he is white, wondering if he would be okay to proceed.

He doesn’t wait for an answer, eyes watching, ears alert and his nose rises to scent the area- nostrils flaring open, shut, open.

“I suppose you’re okay then Avrik, as far as coyotes go.” He waits only a few heartbeats more, then he places his left paw into the shallows, it reaches only an inch passed his ankle but they will have to do some mucking around to get across. Truthfully, Sylvester had not spent much time around the smaller wolves, wolves, everyone was a wolf in his eyes- some form of canid or otherwise. Also in truth, he had not spent much time around others in general, it wasn’t his way, it wasn’t the way of his people.

Today he was in rare form indeed.

“I’m glad you remembered,” he worded as he sloshed, each step causing a slight -thuck- as the mud squished beneath him, brown water painting speckles along his leg from each forward step.

Once they traverse the shallows he waits again, a half-way mark, now was time to collect before the other thought better and run off on him. “I can usually reach them, but this one, it’s right in a spot I can’t get to.” A frown, twisting his head back towards his shoulders, then his eyes float down to the pale legs of his companion and he quickly yanks a leech from his shin.

“There’s one between my shoulders, under the hair, it’s starting to smart and I could use a hand,” his cocoa eyes flit to the flexible feet of Avrik. Perhaps they were both lucky to have run into one another.
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Canine 253yo Male, Average & Thin Native 11 posts 0 Honor 170 ☪ Kydnt
Avrik apprehensively studied the shallow patch of water his guide had indicated. Avrik had been through a lot in his two-hundred some years, but somehow slogging through this swamp had to be one of the worst things he'd endured yet. He watched as Sly easily picked his way over the shallow water, long limbs keeping the auburn male well above the filth. Avrik was not so lucky. Though his legs were long enough without his unusually tall companion to compare them to, the long, graceful drape of his tail dragged behind him in the mud. He couldn't stop thinking what a nightmare it would be to clean later. Each terrible squelch of their paws a drumbeat in the dirge for Avrik's cleanliness.

The male spoke, acknowledged but didn't elaborate on the favor in question. Avrik was getting used to his stilted, wandering manner of speech and knew he'd just have to wait to hear the rest of it. Eventually they made it to dryish ground, and Avrik waited for the male to explain. And even when he did, Avrik was left wondering what exactly he was talking about. Unfortunately the coyote received a personal demonstration of what, exactly, the other couldn't reach. He flinched when Sly suddenly moved towards him to grab something dark and shiny off of his ankle. And if Avrik shrieked a little at the sight of the bloated dark worm that had been detached from his body, he would never admit it.

The albino stumbled back, all three eyes wide as Sly explained where exactly the little parasite could be found. He balked. This was... Disgusting! He never would have let this-- this, sly foxish creature lead him through the swamp if he knew this was what he was expected to do in return.

He could just turn around. He knew the way back, at least, and could slog his way back to Anemone. He could forget cutting across Fawnlis and go around. But that could add days of travel, days Avrik wasn't willing to spend, and he'd already wasted half the day on this forsaken marsh.

"Okay, fine." Avrik sighed dramatically, shoulders slumping and face settling into an expression of resolve. He spun a clawed digit in the air, indicating the other to turn around. "Just-- sit down. I'll get it."

Canine 1,103yo Male, Tall & Thin Native 7 posts 0 Honor 161 ☪ Witty
Luck, who is really to say what is lucky and what is unlucky? All a matter of perspective.

Sylvester was one to eagerly proposition the pale coyote, the small wolf, the one with extra sensories. It was no different than the starting point of their chance meeting, fate, it had all led to this had it not? The days awful nap, the stranger at his porch, the adventure (oh because there was something unordinary about it all) of the afternoon. A ginger stork, looking at an ashen curiosity, his legs may be long, but Sly, he was far from unusual.

Capabilities to adapt, knowing the way, parlor tricks some might call them.

“Good fellow,” Sly promptly turned, back facing his travel company, a few stray tremors displayed themself as he sat. The leech was there much longer than he would like to admit, he could feel the way it changed his strength, though he did not say a word. “Knew from the start you were the good sort,” a sigh, then he relaxes, preparing for the inevitable pain.

Like a bee sting, in reverse, if one can imagine. The greedy blood gluttons were not eager to relinquish their hold, so pulling them away- less than comfortable.

“Ah, so the river is near, the world beyond that,” he gestured with his head, flicking it in the direction of the waiting river. The water flowed to the bay, split in two before it did so. Sylvester did not go beyond the fork. All these years and he had still not seen the result of the War in person, had never laid his cocoa eyes on the devastation. The red wolf had never cared, the drums of War, the call to arms- it was enough to make him flee, save his own hide.

Horses and Wolves, what petty animals, what a ridiculous feud- no matter. He was well and whole, there was nothing of regret to fester on his conscience. Some days it is hard to decide if he has a conscience at all, none of those little angels or devils chiding in his ears, attempting to sway him one way or the other.

“Yes well, you have my thanks?” It came out as a question, the gratitude unusual, the expression of it out loud even more peculiar.
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