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Author Topic: To eat crow [Lion!]  (Read 119 times)

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Offline nephero

To eat crow [Lion!]
« on: December 29, 2017, 05:58:46 PM »
   It was ironic, really, that the only habitable sky belonged to a planet that was once a lifeless husk floating in the void of space. Nothing more than a pinprick of red set against the evening sunset, noticeable only by its size and luminosity against far less visible stars. But time changes all things, or however that old turn of phrase was supposed to go.

   Time and a metric fuck-ton of chemicals. If Kharon had ever felt any fondness for the world he’d long since left behind, it would have been for the sky. Nothing had ever quite come close to the sensation of being up there, wind beneath his wings and cutting cold through his feathers, pockets of warmth bubbling up from the earth below to carry him ever higher. But, of course, like anything people got their hands on, that had been ruined too. The earth soured, the water dried, leaving naught but lingering salt and poison winds.

   Not that it would have killed him. Nothing could. But it sure did put a damper on the last little joy he had left him, a fact that left him with no small sense of bitterness. He was sure in another five thousand years this planet would be ruined, too. And the next one. And the next one, until all that was left of the solar system was confined to tight, iron boxes; coffins floating in the dead, airless void of space.

   But for now, for now he had Edanith. Which was hilarious in its own way considering just what kind of country “Edanith” had once been. To think he’d have to sink so low to go all the way to New Connlaoth just to stretch his wings. Ah well. Beggars being choosers, or whatever it was. Kharon was used to being dealt shitty hands, and Kharon was used to tucking aces up his sleeve as a result. As long as he kept to the frontier, he wouldn’t have to worry about these… ugh. People. And their particularly disgusting brand of anti-magic mania.

   What a century to be awake in, he almost missed the witch hunts of old.

   Kharon angled his wings, and banked left, paddling hard against the cooler upper air before a pocket of heat caught underneath him, buoying him for a few seconds and giving him time to rest and enjoy the view. What little there was of it— still, it wasn’t nearly so bad as what Adela had done to itself, and the red desert was lovely in its own kind of way. Copper-rust-red against a bright, clean blue skyline, with tall outcroppings of rocks and cliff faces and only the scantest evidence of life. Off in the distance he could see the barest edges of one of the megacities on the horizon, full of tall buildings and loud cars and bright lights.

   And people. Which had him banking again, turning his tail feathers up at the whole thing and flapping off in the opposite direction. He considered finding somewhere to roost for a bit; maybe even some little patch of would-be farmland for a snack. It was always a risk; his type wasn’t often the kind of bird seen out here these days, and getting too close to known food sources might put him at risk of an encounter with the more… local fauna. The last time he’d gotten into a fight with those great big awful skeletal vultures, he’d come out of it several feathers less and nursing broken fingerbones for a week. Still, some corn did sound good, maybe—

   Something glinted below, disrupting Kharon’s entire train of thought. Wait, what was that? It had to have been quite shiny to catch the light so strongly, but as he wheeled around for a closer look, something wooshed past him with a high-pitched keen.

   It had taken Kharon some years to figure out what gunshots sounded like. It took him several crucial seconds then to remember that this was exactly what was happening. He cawed, loud and full of anger at the glinting thing below, tucking his wings in close just as another bullet shot up and caught his feathers, those exploding outward in a black rain and making holding his flight path exceptionally difficult.

   But that didn’t matter. A shift back and forth would put his feathers right as rain, but right now all he could think of was dive-bombing this asshole and pecking his stupid eyes out and—

   And something was very, very wrong. Kharon’s entire form shuddered, and he veered wildly to the right as he fought to keep himself aloft. But the closer he got to the ground, the worse it got, and he could feel the spell wearing off at an alarming rate. Inwardly, and perhaps a little outwardly, he cussed, tapping into his arcane reserves and finding them woefully depleted. He had nothing, nothing, and with his magic gone there was nothing to hold his form together, feathers melting away to leave useless, brown skin and completely flightless human fingers.

   He was falling even faster now, as he reached his full weight and mass once more, the excess no longer pocketed outside of his existence. Something close to panic bubbled up as the ground got closer and closer, and Kharon twisted in the air to try and reach into his bags, pull out something, anything to keep him aloft, and cursing himself for ever leaving his broom back on the ship.

   At least he didn’t have to think on his regret for long, because the ground decided at that moment to give him a resounding high-five, a rocky formation catching him partially in his fall, sending him spinning right to the dusty earth with an ear-shattering crack. At first, Kharon could do nothing, all air knocked out of his lungs as it was, and it was only when he dazedly tried to roll over that he realized his arm was absolutely without a doubt broken and trying to move fucking hurt, oh my god that hurt. Such was the sharp agony in his arm and collar that Kharon almost didn’t notice the rest of himself, and it was only in a reflexive kick against the pain that he realized, oh, great, his ankle was fucked, too!

   Fucked, but not dead. That was a step. Kharon took in a deep breath through his nose to keep from wanting to hurl, and rolled again, his arm curled tight against the metal of his breastplate as he tried to keep his wits about him. Something shiny. Something glinting. Everything moved in waves that couldn’t be entirely blamed on the heat, the wind warping in Kharon’s ears as the trauma of impact spotted his vision and make it hard to keep conscious. A gun, there had been a gun, and where there was a gun there was a person, and where there was a person there could only be danger. He had to get up, get moving, but no matter how hard he tried to pull at the threads of magic, nothing came. He couldn’t even manage something to knit up his bones, make him ready to fight, and so with an infuriating amount of helplessness, he could only watch as a man in a black hat made his way over in slow, cautious steps.

   Fucking Connlaoth, Kharon thought, before his vision spotted again, the blackened edges overtaking everything and leaving him collapsed in the earth.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 05:59:33 PM by nephero »

Offline Lion

Re: To eat crow [Lion!]
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2017, 12:23:57 AM »
To think that in another time and another place lightyears away, the man that used to call himself Kaivalt Renquist would have made it his duty to hunt down rogue mages and drag them back to repent for the sin of magic. It was a sobering notion, to pause for a moment and realize that a gift you had absolutely no control of having would be the very source of your persecution. Of your crucifixion.

That world was long dead, those principles had changed. No longer were mages harassed and suppressed by the sheer capriciousness of feeble gods, a cosmic selection that doomed a mortal soul from the moment they came screaming into the world, flesh made whole only for it to be branded a sinner for sheer hatred of the sin. Mages instead were revered and a godsend. Helped create and make beautiful the world that flourished when the old one died.

Oklahoma blinked out to the horizon, the handkerchief covering the lower half of his face as he kept his black hat firmly over his eyes, blocking out that awful sunlight. The day blared down on crimson dusty earth, slowly sinking behind the westward curtain, soil made livable because of the very mages that had used gifts that had once had been their damnation.

True, maybe even now they didn't have much of a choice in the matter. But who did in picking the the hand that they were dealt? Oklahoma wanted to see the look on the dealer's face when the amateur sitting across from them looked at their cards, made a face, and then went, "Nahh, changed my mind. I'll take uhh blonde hair and being about two inches taller. Reshuffle them, bub."

The cards you were given weren't always in your favor. But you played the best you could, and drew the next one when the time came for it. There were no do-overs, not simple ones, anyway. No buttons you could just push and start from scratch. All you could do was bear your load down that long weary road. There were no new beginnings, no happy endings. Just a long sleep at the end of it all.

Some weights just ended up being heavier than others, the apathy of gravity proving to make the course even more weary. Oklahoma had thought he'd left his sense of duty back in Tynova where it belonged. He wasn't a Mordecai anymore. Not in name, he'd failed, and was no longer deserving of such that responsibility. But maybe he could be, maybe if he tried hard enough he could make it up to Jensen. Maybe...

Oklahoma swallowed and kept his face covered by the handkerchief tied firmly at the back of his head. It blocked out most of the dust that the wind had kicked up and the brim of his hat shifted briefly as his hand reached up to plant it firmly on his head. He blinked and took in a deep breath, stepping momentarily from the outcroppings of red rocks he'd stashed his bike in. It was a rusted out selection of mishmashed parts, jerryrigged and tenderly welded together to make a functioning vehicle.  It wasn't a thing of beauty, save for the love that Oklahoma had put into it, and it got him to where he needed to be.

And right now, his stomach demanded that he needed to find some source of dinner or risk being loopy for the next 24 to 48 hours because the whiskey he'd managed to scrounge up wasn't going to make hunting any easier. He grit his teeth behind that mask and his heart leapt into his throat at the sight in the sky. Nope, no skydevils this time, but it was small and black and flying, and clearly was a bird of some kind.

He pulled his rifle from over his shoulder and held it firmly on his hand, raising the sights and moving to kneel behind a boulder that was approximately waist height. His hat provided him enough shade to keep his vision unwavered as he kept his rifle up and levered a bullet into the chamber. Oklahoma took in a deep breath, steadying himself, and the black dot came clearer into view. A bird, indeed. A crow. Not a big one, but it would do. He paused and followed the trajectory with his barrel and with one crack, the bullet hissed passed the bird.


Nope. He wasn't going to miss, he was having dinner tonight!  Oklahoma quickly flicked the lever and loaded another bullet, standing this time and fired in time to see a puff of feathers explode in the air.  And...then. "Ohshit!"  Oklahoma watched as the bird he thought was a bird turn into a man and crash horrifically to the earth. Truth be told, he couldn't remember the last time he'd seen someone crash to the ground like that, but it sure as shit didn't look anything like that.

He'd hit it, he knew that much. Where, he couldn't be sure yet. He expelled the shell from the chamber and held the rifle in front of him, loosely in his grip, but with little more than a flick of his wrist and it would be in the right place to take off a head if need be.  His stomach lurched at the mess that man had man. And even more so that he'd shot him out of the sky.

"HOLY SHIT" he hollered under the rag and he didn't waste time closing the distance between the two when he saw that he wasn't moving.  Oh god...  Oklahoma shouldered the rifle, securing the strap over his chest and duster and dashed hard across that distance until he fell to his knees over the dark-skinned man, black hair, and a perpetually fucked arm, oddly placed ankle.  Yuuup. He was fucked all right.

"Fucking shit!" he hissed and immediately pulled the rag down from his face, huffing and very gently reaching down to tuck his arm underneath the man's heavy head and kept that twisted arm tucked over him. "Hey.  Hey, there, you still with me, bub? Name's Oklahoma. I'm gonna get you help. You'll be okay, I promise."  He didn't even think about those last two words, his arm slipping underneath the limp unconscious man's legs and he pulled him up into his arms.

Oklahoma grunted, steadying his footing and trying to keep from jostling the other man too much as he walked back to where his bike was hidden. How the fuck was he going to load him on the back of that bike?  The nearest town was two days away, a full day if he rode nonstop. He carefully laid him out in the shade of two boulders and knelt over him. 

He didn't completely forget his training. No self-respecting soldier did when it came to the meat and bones of a situation, no pun intended. All things considered.  His eyes flicked over the strangers weird ass clothing. Was that armor? Like one of those inner city nerds that garbed themselves in silver-colored polymer armor and bat styrofoam swords at one another. A...what was it? A LARPer?  The fuck was a larper doing all the way out here in the Frontier!  A mage larper no less!

"Goddamn nerds," he hissed and went back and forth between the saddlebags of his supplies and what he could fix into a makeshift splint.  Because that arm...yeah it was going to have to be set.  Pain was nothing a little whiskey couldn't fix. Oklahoma plucked the bottle he'd had in his jacket, pulling the cork with his teeth and gently raised the man's head in the crook of his head. "Hey, you, wake up bub. You gotta drink some of this. Or you'll be screaming something awful."  Hmm.

Oklahoma tilted the bottle against thickset lips and let a small splattering of whiskey past them and into his mouth.

Offline nephero

Re: To eat crow [Lion!]
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 10:49:20 PM »
   Something was touching him.

   Kharon growled even before he knew he was growling, lip curled up over his teeth at the sensation of foreign hands on him, hands that he did not give permission to touch him, and hands he certainly wanted nothing more than to rip off of himself and then possibly shove right up the son of a bitch’s ass—

   And that was right about when his nerve endings remembered how to send pain signals to his brain. Kharon took in a deep sucking breath, blinked wide eyes against the bright blistering rays of the sun, and squeezed them shut again lest he go blind on top of everything else. Everything hurt, everything hurt so bad, he could only grit his teeth and try to grab onto whatever the hell kept moving him because holy Gods that hurt.

   The pain was blinding, and everything blacked out again for a few blissful moments, at least until Kharon’s back settled against hard rock, and when he blinked his eyes open again it was in some wonderful, thankful shade.

   His vision swam wildly, and for a moment Kharon felt the edge of hateful panic as he mistook the wavering in his vision for a group of men versus just the one. But soon the copies pulled themselves together, and all Kharon was left with was a hat and a bandana and the brightest blue-green eyes he’d ever seen in all six millenia he’d been made to walk solid earth.

   It was a mark of just how badly injured he was that he allowed himself to stare, taking in shallow, pained breaths as he tried to ignore the searing agony in his arm. The stranger with the pretty eyes kept moving weirdly, and it was only after a moment that Kharon realized that he was speaking to him, the little twitches of that cloth bandanna being the breath behind every word. Every word that Kharon himself had completely not heard.

   Something touched Kharon’s lips, and he bared his teeth again. Which was, in hindsight, a little more than helpful, because it let the whiskey hit his teeth and then his tongue, and the momentary panic that had bubbled up subsided once more. Just whiskey. Just whiskey. Right. The stranger with the pretty eyes was saying something about screaming. Alcohol. Painkiller.

   Gods all he needed to not feel a damn thing. Kharon reached up with his working arm, snatched the bottle out of the other man’s hands, and guzzled hard at the mouth, taking in deep burning gulps that lit spiderwebbing fires all the way down into his belly.

   “Don’t touch me,” he gasped once he’d finished, setting the bottle to the side and not caring where it clanked off too. At least the swimming in his head was a good kind now, the stranger blurring around the edges as Kharon tried to reach for those same old threads of the arcane, and again came up empty handed.

   “I can’t—” he grunted, breathing hard through his nose as his stomach flipped in a way that wasn’t entirely to do with the booze he’d guzzled down. This was bad, this was so bad, he’d left everything on the ship and that ship was in his bag and if he couldn’t even muster a spell to fix his bones, there was no way he could bring an entire spaceship back to size. He was fucked, at the absolute mercy of this man, a man who had shot him and planned on doing gods only knew what else.

   “Get it— over with.” He snarled, after coming to terms with the fact that this would be another in a long string of deaths. This stranger would do what he would, Kharon would die and then play the long, gruesome game of waiting to not be dead. He’d had worse, of course. He could handle this. He certainly wasn’t going to go out begging for mercy, at any rate.

Offline Lion

Re: To eat crow [Lion!]
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 01:27:35 AM »

And he thought he had a drinking problem. Pfffft, problem. What he'd come to discover was that what city-folk called a problem, was a vital survival tactic here in the frontier. That whiskey was meant to serve exactly what Oklahoma intended, and he was glad the stranger in front of him didn't argue the point of downing it.

The fact that he'd knocked back just about the entire bottle didn't irk him too much - or rather he tried not to let it show. Oklahoma caught the bottle just in time before he could break and clank off elsewhere. It could be refilled and cleaned and glass made an excellent fire-starter on high noon. Tucking it off to the side, Oklahoma just watched him, aquamarine eyes flicking to and fro at the struggle the stranger made evident.

Black hair, dark eyes, clearly frustrated with having just falling out of the goddamn sky. Hell, Oklahoma couldn't blame him - he'd be right fucking pissed if he fell out of the sky too!  And someone shot at him, but the latter was a lot more normal than transfiguring into a bird and taking flight. The sheer fact that this mage was still alive was increasingly mind-boggling.

"Unfortunately, I have to touch you in order to keep you from dying," Oklahoma sighed, flicking narrowed eyes to the stranger's expression. Soured? Yeah he got that he was grumpy but really? Don't touch him - what did he think Oklahoma had fucking cooties? This wasn't kindergarten!  "I'm just trying to help you okay," he explained and slowly set down his head.

Why, why oh why did he seem to be manifesting the worst fucking luck with accidentally shooting people! He didn't want to think about it, definitely not right now as he set out some of the tools he used to fix his bike, namely a wrench and a few pieces of rope, and a piece of kindling for a fire.  Yeah it wasn't perfect, but it'd make a half decent splint. 

"Didn't think the whiskey would get to ya that fast what with all the nonsense you're talking," he actually laughed at him. "I'm Oklahoma. You got a name, bird man?" And frankly he wasn't expecting an answer. He worked idly, and used what supplies he had from his saddlebags to clean the wound and prepare it for setting. Yeah that was going to be the worst part.  In fact, it was then that Oklahoma took the piece of wood and forced it between his teeth.

"Bite that. Please. Thanks."  The direction was clipped and he managed to tug firmly at his wrist and arm once, then once more until he felt he had the break largely fixed.  "So you always fly in the way of bullets?"  Oklahoma laughed, snorting at his shitty joke - mostly because it was really shitty of him and he knew it was his fault to begin with. As far as he could tell, he didn't actually shoot him? And the only real blood came from the corner of his lips.  He frowned, the laughter fading away once he'd had the splint fixed on his arm and ankle.

Oklahoma reached his hand out and brushed the man's hair back, pushing it back and wiping away the sweat from his brow with the bandanna he'd taken from around his neck. "There, there now. I'll get you to a real doctor. I'm real sorry, man. You're going to be ok, I promise."

Words that he didn't utter lightly and he took the bottle of whiskey, polished off the last ounces of whiskey, throwing them into the bag and offering water from his canteen. "Hey, stay with me. Did you hear what I said? I ain't gonna hurtcha."

Offline nephero

Re: To eat crow [Lion!]
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 09:51:30 PM »

   Now, it wasn’t exactly rare that Kharon got to know the name of his murderer. It seemed any dime-store wannabe bandit out there had a compulsion to speak their own name before doing someone in. Seriously, Kharon probably had to sit through dozens of eye-rollingly bad code names, each more ridiculous than the last. “Axehead”, “The Two Gun Kid”, The Dread Captain Bones, all three of them.

   Not a single one of them had something so… normal as “Oklahoma”. Or seemed interested in Kharon’s name at all. Surprised, it was only too easy for Oklahoma to shove that bit of wood in Kharon’s mouth, and the sudden sensation of something against his lips had Kharon biting down hard out of pure instinct. Which was for the best, because then Oklahoma was pulling at Kharon’s arm and—

   Oh mighty merciful fuck, that HURT.

   Kharon grit his teeth against the wood, and howled into it,tensed and kicked out as his bones snapped back into place. His forehead was drenched in sweat, and he wheezed against the wood, before spitting it out with an accompanying hissed string of curses. Only some of them actually aimed at Oklahoma himself, and the rest only partially implied to be aimed at Oklahoma himself.

   At the mention of bullets, Kharon shot Oklahoma a soul-withering glare, cursing his inability to muster even the tiniest little fireball to shove right in this jokester’s face. Or at least, that was the thought, before the other man reached out to him and had Kharon jerking away. Which, of course, jostled his arm just enough to cause an echoing lightning strike of pain.

   Okay, that was dumb. Moving was dumb. Oklahoma, for his part, did nothing more sinister than just wipe away the sweat on Kharon’s brow. Which, again, in Kharon’s experience, wasn’t what dime-store bandits and pirate kings tended to do. It was gentle, complete with matching gentle words, and it was all so bizarre that for a long moment Kharon had no response.

   Which, of course, probably made him look halfway to passing out, and Kharon blinked at the canteen, slowly took it, and gulped down some water— though not nearly as much as the whiskey he’d guzzled.

   “I heard you. Bit late for that, don’t you think?” He snarled, splinted arm curled up to his chest to keep it from getting knocked around any worse than it was. Though maybe yelling at the man who splinted his arm and promised him a real doctor was… not the best way to go about getting to that real doctor.

   Biting through his pain, Kharon looked down at the canteen, took another swig and passed it back to the other man, careful to avoid staring at him right in his stupid eyes.

   “Kharon. Not bird-man. And where do you expect to find a doctor in all this middle of nothing nowhere?”