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There are tales of ghouls and the dead rising along the Eastern Allir Reaches. The Templar chapter based of Allria has gone to investigate the matter... and perhaps bring to an end to whoever is at the root of this evil...

Interested? Find out more here.

OOC:
A necromancer seems to be ravaging the Eastern Allir Reaches(near the spine). Some of the Templars are trying to stop him/her. Feel free to join in as a survivor, a passerby, maybe the necromancers servant!

Tales Beyond the Veil

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Shuck, Nov 30, 2018.

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  1. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph was about to hurl another barrage of insults, threats and beatings when she said his name. He blinked and released her like she'd burned him. Then he grabbed her and held her to his chest. They were both tired, hurting, and he was in enough pain to make a ringing noise in his ears. "I'm sorry...I thought you were one of them." he said, taking her face in his hands and wiping the blood from her mouth. He really had meant to punch her. "I thought they were killing you....right now." He held her for a moment, then noticed all the scratches and bites.

    The horse. All of their supplies! Their tent! He looked around them. The damn nag was gone. Probably for good. It didn't matter though. He had Shuck. He smiled at her, shaking his head. "How did you?" he gestured at her form. She was beautiful. Not some little shadow being, or a dog. She looked like a woman. A beautiful woman. "Is...is this what you look like? Truly?" he asked quietly, stroking the tears away from her cheek with his thumb. "...And you jumped in after me."

    He cradled her head in his hands, and kissed her. It was a gentle kiss, but filled with gratitude, love and passion.
     
  2. Shuck

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    He finally seemed to hear her, and she sniffled against his chest as he moved to hug her. She let go of his wrists and curled her aching hands to cling to his soaked shirt. She cried through his apology, though tried to get herself together when he began to wipe her face clean. She'd never cried before; it was a strangely cathartic feeling, and she finally understood why humans did it so damn much. It was hard to stop.

    "I don't know," she replied feebly. "I had to get you... or they would have drowned you." She hadn't even looked at herself yet, either to survey her wounds or the body she had made. It didn't matter.

    She reached up and placed one of her hands over his as he cradled her face, one of his thumbs caressing her cheekbone prompting her to open her silver eyes. Just in time to see the look he gave her before he lowered his mouth onto hers.

    She had seen plenty of mortal kisses: mothers welcoming their newborns at baptisms, priests kissing the heads of their pardoned parishoners, newlyweds kissing at the altar, widows kissing their beloved goodbye forever. He had bestowed her a little kiss on the head just the night before, a gesture she had thought little of at the time. Yet as his mouth settled on hers, moving with an urgency she'd chased from her cemetery a hundred times, she felt it -- the electricity that seemed to spark in the depths of her belly, making her aching limbs feel warm and heavy.

    A shuttering sigh broke out of her and she gripped his hand desperately as if she was being carried away by a powerful current again. Gasping for breath, she only pulled her face away because she was dizzy and she felt like she was on fire.

    "I had to," she breathed, her fluttering eyes trying to focus on him again. "When I thought you were dying... I had to."

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  3. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph pressed his forehead to hers. "I'm glad you did." he said, and looked at her wounds. "Damn it, that stupid horse! If I see it again I'll put a claw through his stupid head." He pulled his sopping shirt off, wrung it out and started to put pressure on her wounds to stop them from bleeding. "Sit still." he said softly. He tore his shirt into strips with his teeth and bound up what he could, brushing her hair back from her face. "They're not venomous or anything? You're going to be okay? There's medicine on the horse. I have to try and find him. Are you going to be okay here?" He gave her another kiss, a small peck this time. He needed to get her into the safety of the tent where he could look over her wounds. He was no doctor but he'd learned a little field dressing from Heinrich, thank the gods he'd listened.

    He tried to stand and fell with a sharp yelp. His brace fell with a clatter off of his leg. The leather straps were in tatters from the nalads. The heel piece was completely broken, probably glittering at the bottom of the river somewhere. He couldn't walk. Without that, he couldn't walk. He took a deep breath and his jaw set tightly. There was no time to be furious at it. He wanted to rip the nalads to pieces...but there was something more important to think about.

    He shifted into a dog himself and limped into the brush on three legs. He had to find that horse. He put his nose to the ground and began tracking. The stupid animal! He found the creature shivering in terror, next to a tree he'd tangled his reins around. His eyes were rolling and his nose was flared. He saw Joseph and jumped around until the man shifted back and patted him to calm him. He'd have to ride him back. He mounted the horse and rode back to Shuck.

    They'd lost a bag of their kit. Several days of dried rations, their coffee kettle, and a length of rope. But they had the tent and the medicine. He set the tent up as fast as he could just up on the shore and unrolled a bedroll for Shuck. "We're going to have to gamble today, you're not going anywhere." he told her. He helped her into the bedroll, and helped her out of her clothes. Her scratches and bites were bad. He fished out a needle and thread.

    "Look...I'm going to have to stitch up the worst of these." he told her gently. "Just..." he offered her a strap from the horse. "Bite on this." There was a nasty slash on her thigh he needed to tend to. He tried to be quick, but kept Heinrich's teachings in mind. He had to be accurate, and the stitches tight but not too tight or they'd rip. He finished it off with a little poultice from the medicine bag, and put some more on her scratches. Fresh dressings helped, and he was able to fetch a little water from the river to wash the gashes on his face and legs.

    His ankle was hurting so badly it burned. The very bones ached and spread fire up through his knee. He sat down next to Shuck, shaking his head. He didn't know if he could rig something in order to walk.
     
  4. Shuck

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    She didn't have the strength to protest. She muttered that he needed to rest, that they needed to get further away from the stream, but her voice became gibberish that fell away from her exhausted lips. She managed to answer half of his questions, but she didn't know some of them.

    He shifted and left, and she rolled onto her side, confused as she looked around for him. She then finally looked down at herself and sucked in a sharp breath. She was in rough shape -- her legs had been slashed and bitten, and she was losing a lot of blood. Her breathing was becoming labored in his absence, but she kept herself calm with the assurance he wouldn't have left her, not now. She curled her arms around herself and shivered until he returned.

    By then, what consciousness she had left was rapidly slipping out of her fingers. She had thought she could hold on, but the pain in her thigh was too much and she was too worn. With a whimper, the rein fell out of her mouth and her mind went dark.

    After what seemed like ages of darkness, she gasped and jerked awake. Her wild red eyes sought him, and found him sitting next to her. The color immediately faded, bleeding out. She tried sitting up but her whole body was on fire. She immediately laid back down, shivering in spite of the flames that were burning through her.

    When she could see straight again, she looked up at Joseph. It must have still been the same day, because his hair wasn't dry yet and he looked like he'd been through hell.

    "You need to rest," she said gently, raising a bandaged hand that was most certainly not one of her shadowy black mitts to touch his face. She then realized the color: gray like ashes. The shuck kept her hand on his face, but frowned and raised the other to inspect it, the muscles trembling stubbornly.

    "Oh no. Did I mess up the colors?" she asked sadly. Humans were warm colors, pinks and browns. This was almost devoid of color, only a warm gray in her palms and wrists.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  5. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph peeled off the rest of his wet clothes and snuggled into the bedroll next to her. He needed warmth. He was freezing and his skin was pale from pain and cold. He took her hand and kissed it. "You're silver, like ashes. You didn't mess up anything. You're beautiful." he told her. He kissed her once more, deeply, holding it for as long as he dared before he spooned up behind her. He put an arm around her waist, closed his eyes, and was out before he fully settled on the pillow.

    Rest was the cure for all things. He must have slept over twelve hours. The swelling in his ankle was going down. He pawed through the medicine bag and found, of all things, opiates. Heinrich had given him a very small supply of milk of the poppy... with a note attached to it in fine copperplate handwriting. " 'For your leg...ONLY.'" he read aloud, rolling his eyes and putting the dropper to his mouth. He only took a single drop, but it melted away all of the pain from his leg. He was able to relax, letting the poppy ease his muscles and soothe his battered leg bones.

    Joseph watched her for a litle bit while she slept. He tucked her hair back from her face. She was absolutely beautiful. He still wasn't sure about kissing her. Did she want it? Was she just ill? Was it just because he was the first man she'd ever really met? He sighed and pulled his hand away from her. Maybe this wasn't to be. He laid down and tried to give her a little space. Maybe he was pushing too hard kissing her like that.
     
  6. Shuck

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    His reassurances made her smile. "You think so?" she asked, her ego inflating. But exhaustion was still riding her hard. She closed her eyes and lowered her hands when he kissed her again, loosing a long, contented sigh. She hurt all over, but the kiss made something bright flutter in her belly again, smoothing the sharp edges of her pain. She was smiling, her eyes still closed when he pulled away, and before long she was slipping into a deep slumber. If something else was going to ambush them, it would just have to kill her. She was too tired to even care.

    She slept long and hard. The bright ambient light of the midday sun shining through the canvas roused her, as well as a an ache in her stomach. Her eyes were half open when she realized that she also wasn't being snuggled. She was sure he'd been snuggling her when she fell asleep.

    Groaning in protest, she began to roll over and also remembered her new shape. The tent seemed so much smaller now, and as she stretched her arms collided with Joseph. He was lying a short distance away from her, which displeased her.

    "Oh. I'm longer," she said, her voice rough. She blinked the sleep out of her eyes and looked over at him.

    "How long did I sleep? Are you okay?"
    She momentarily ignored the hunger gnawing at her spine as she reached out to put a hand on him, an exciting new ability.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  7. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph rolled over to look at her. Truly look at her. He wanted to touch and cuddle her it just seemed....inappropriate somehow. He felt miles better with the poppy coursing through his veins and his leg going down as far as swelling. He shrugged at her question. "My guess is we slept over twelve hours." he said softly. "Horse is still tethered outside. I hobbled him so he can't run off. I don't think anything bothered us but....hell, Heinrich had some poppy in our supplies and I took a little. Are you in pain? I can give you a little if you like."

    He bit his lip. "And...I'm sorry if I overstepped my bounds kissing you. I know we're good friends and I'm not really sure...if you wanted more than that." he said quietly. "I took advantage when you were sick and I'm sorry." He took her hand and kissed it in apology. "I meant what I said about you though. You're beautiful."

    Joseph desperately wanted her to kiss him back. To give him some reassurance his feelings were returned. He chewed his lip. "If you're okay with it...I'd like to kiss you again. I wasn't sure if you were alright with me cuddling you...so I turned over."
     
  8. Shuck

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    Twelve hours? She frowned. No wonder she was hungry. When he offered her poppy she gently shook her head. She felt her ears hit the pillow with the turn of her head, and reached a hand up to feel her ears. They were pointed, unlike his but like the other fae she had seen.

    "I ache, but I feel better than before," she replied. Her honest tongue wasn't willing to bend the truth much further. Saying she was fine would have been pushing it; she had never experienced so much pain in her life, not even when Saturninus took those years from her.

    His question seemed sudden and she frowned, her brow pinching. "Should I be upset? It makes my stomach feel strange, but it's nice -- like when you pet me. Does that mean it's alright?" she asked when he was finished.

    "I still want to cuddle and be friends,"
    she added hurriedly. "What is more than friends? If looking like this makes you uncomfortable I can be a dog again."

    The shuck was admittedly confused and the fear of him getting upset and not wanting to be near her was getting her into a small panic. She had grown so accustomed to him that the mere thought of him leaving sent her back to that cemetery, to ages of loneliness, to the awareness that she was dying and didn't want to be alone.

    "I don't want you to leave," she said with a small, shaking voice.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  9. Joseph Meier

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    Ah shit. It was hard to remember she'd been so sheltered. He reached out and took her hand to comfort her. "If you like it and it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, that's the important thing." he said. "It's just...more than friends is more like...lovers. Mates. When two people decide to do things exclusively with one another and no one else. Uh...intimate things you don't do with friends. Friends don't usually cuddle naked. Friends don't kiss each other like I kissed you." He felt like he was explaining this poorly, and she looked like she was about to cry. Those big silver eyes of hers. He pulled her in close to him, wrapping his arms around her. "Listen...It's not about me leaving, I'm not going to leave. Human women get funny about men kissing them without permission, that's all, and it's a respect thing."

    He really wasn't leading by example here was he? Twice she'd seen him use womanly wiles to get what he wanted, and he'd been blatant about offering himself up. Oh, fuck it. Who was there to police his behavior? He nuzzled her. "Listen, let's just boil it down to this. I want you. I want to kiss you, and do other things to you that I'm damn sure you'd like. If you feel that warmth in your belly it's because you're getting aroused. It's okay to say no to it if you don't want to do the things your body is urging you to. It's okay to say no to me if I push too hard, okay?"

    Joseph cuddled her against him, and tilted her chin up to him to kiss her. He waited for a response. Hopefully she'd catch on and replicate the behavior. If she wanted to.
     
  10. Shuck

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    His voice calmed her down, and though his explanation brought up new worries she was. On longer panicking about him leaving.

    But lovers? Mates? Those were strong words, and she found herself looking away, uncertain. She liked being his friend; she knew how to do that now after being with him for two weeks. He pulled her closer and she looked up at him, still doing her best to tame the tears that threatened her.

    "But I'm not a human woman. I'm fae," she countered. "I don't know anything about being human." She was frowning at him, not sure how she was feeling, and he just have sensed that. He broke it down into simpler terms and her face suddenly flooded with color.

    Oh.

    She nodded her head, and laid her head against his chest as she processed that information. The fae had seen some things in her day, but she would have been outright lying to say that she understood it.

    And it was her pride more than anything else that shaped her response. She wanted time to think, time to scramble around in her memories so she didn't embarrass herself any worse than she already had. She needed time to test the waters, to see if she even really liked what he was proposing before she dove in feet first. Like any good fae deal, she wanted to know all the terms.

    So she allowed him to tip her head up and closed her eyes to let that lovely electricity lick through her body. She opened her mouth when he did, and her tongue tasted his lip. It was strange and exciting and she felt a shiver running up her spine. This, at least, she knew she liked very much. She shifted to get closer to him, to keep testing this, when a jolt of pain shot up her thigh.

    Peeling back with a little gasp, she said rather suddenly, "I-I'm hungry." She put on her best innocent face, not wanting him to know she was in so much pain.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  11. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph sighed happily into the kiss, his tongue snaking out to touch hers. He put his arm around her waist when she drew close, pressing them together. He ran his fingers through her hair. The spell was broken when she gasped sharply inward. He recognized that noise. He'd made that noise far too many times. He raised an eyebrow. "No, you're not." he said. "Well, you might be, but that's not the problem. Did you really think you could hide something like that from me? Listen..." he rolled back over and fished through the medicine bag. He pulled out the bottle. "Open your mouth. Not even a drop on your tongue. It's not a high dose but it will get rid of the pain."

    He leaned in and kissed her nose, then brushed his thumb across her lips to encourage her to open her mouth. "It's alright. I promise." he told her. "It's just for the pain. Then I'll get us something to eat....somehow." They'd lost most of their supplies when the damn horse had gone off in a panic. Most of the food was gone. He guided the dropper to her lips and pressed the tiniest amount between them. It was less than a drop, and would produce just the mildest high. Joseph wasn't particularly sensitive, not after binges of the stuff. "Just rest. I'll find a rabbit or something."

    He kissed her, and took a full drop of the opiate. Damn Heinrich. He didn't have his brace, and now he was talking about running three legged after rabbits. He'd need this.
     
  12. Shuck

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    Of course he'd be able to tell. Her tongue tingled from the deceit, and she gave him a sheepish look. He retrieved something from the bag and she wrinkled her nose at it, leaning away from him slightly.

    "What is it?" He kissed her nose and coaxed her mouth open, but she squeezed her eyes shut. After it had been administered, she rolled her tongue around in her mouth and frowned. Human healing was strange, in her opinion -- weird things put into the body to convince the mind. She supposed that, if one didn't have magick to charm a person, it would do just as well.

    He kissed her and began to leave, so she settled in rest some more, but noticed that something was missing. She immediately sat up, remembering, but the effort made her dizzy enough she went right back down.

    "Your brace," she said with a note of concern. "It broke?"

    She knew he couldn't get by without it. Sure, he could shift into one of his other forms, but that was stressful. A pensive line creased her brow.

    "What's going to happen if you don't have it?" she asked softly, knowing it was a sensitive subject. Her fair eyes sought his, so dark against his pale complexion. He had been so patient, so sweet to her recently; she was afraid to push him too far. In spite of what Heinrich had told her, she wasn't too eager to press him for things he didn't want to tell her.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  13. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph's mouth creased into a thin line. "Pain will come." he said quietly, his eyes darkening with the memory of it. He remembered it. The horrific pain before he'd gotten his brace. It would come again, and it would only be a matter of time. The poppy would help for only so long. It was best just not to think about it. He shifted back into the fox, and limped out of the tent, his fluffy tail the last thing slithering through the flaps. Foxes were the best thing for hunting rabbits, but he couldn't chase them. He'd have to find a different strategy. He sniffed around, heading up into the trees. He caught a few field mice that he snapped down without thinking about it; the rabbit was for her. He could survive like this.

    He found a hole and stuck his narrow little face into it, sniffing around. Rabbits. A rabbit on kits. Good. He began to dig out the hole, his black paws working furiously to enlarge the hole. The healthy rabbits would escape out the back. The mother would hesitate to abandon her kits and try to hide, and that would be her undoing. He shoved his shoulders in and stuck his little black paw down into the den. Sharp little teeth sunk into his wrist and he pulled it back with a loud yowl. Oh, that does it. He pinned his ears against his head and bared his teeth, shouldering his way in. The female rabbit caught his lip this time, lunging at his face. A normal fox would have backed out against her onslaught. Joseph jerked forward and seized her in his teeth. He yanked backward, shaking furiously until he heard her death scream.

    The kits he devoured for himself. The fat rabbit he picked up in his jaws, and limped back to camp with. He dropped it down next to their fire and rested a moment, licking the bite on his wrist. Damn, she'd really meant that one. It hurt. He allowed himself one small trilling whimper as he nursed his wounds.
     
  14. Shuck

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    She may have preferred his ire to the cold, dark answer he gave her. It made her gut twist in dread. Joseph shifted and left, and the shuck didn't have anything she could say. How was she supposed to respond to that? She didn't want him to be in pain, out of more than just pity. If she was a greater fae, she may have been capable of fixing it. How strong would she be as a shuck again? If she could, would he be too proud to let her?

    As with many things, she didn't know. So instead of worrying, she pulled the blankets over her and laid down to rest. She sighed and closed her eyes to doze lightly, hoping to forget her aching body and gnawing stomach in sleep.

    She did, disappearing into that thoughtless void for only a short amount of time before a small whine woke her. Her eyes opened, and she listened stened for it again, but there was nothing. The sound had been small, not unlike that of a fox...

    Concerned, she pushed herself upright but found that her body didn't hurt quite as badly as it had earlier. Whatever he had given her was working. Keeping a blanket draped over her shoulders, she crawled to the flap and peered out. Joseph, still a fox, was licking his paw by the fire.

    Where she had troubles distinguishing human emotion, she recognized his animal body language immediately.

    "You got hurt," she said as she exited the tent. She was a little wobbly on her feet, and she rose carefully, but she walked to his side and crouched down. She held out her hand, meeting his dark eyes. "Let me see your paw."

    Her voice was soft but left little room for argument. She took his little paw in her hand. He'd been bitten by the rabbit. The shuck had lived on her own for two centuries, and had learned the hard way that the small creatures could be vicious in the face of a predator.

    In what was likely a very confusing display, she lifted his paw to her mouth and licked the wound. It would have burned, so she maintained a firm grasp on his foot before she administered a second.

    "Fae medicine isn't the same as yours," she said with a small smile as she let him take his paw back. Heinrich's words coming out of her mouth made her lips twitch with a bit of humor. A small knick such as that was easily cleaned and healed, and the bite would be no more than a line of tender healing skin. She would have been able to heal the minor scratches on her own legs (and at least cleanse the worse ones) if she had been in her canine form. As a humanoid, she wasn't sure she could get her tongue to some of them.

    He had healed her marvelously, the lesser cuts on her already beginning to heal rapidly. It was only fair that she repaid him -- and also pulled her weight and helped save what few supplies they had.

    "It's not a lot of magick, but it's all I've got." Her rueful smile was hard to put on, and vanished when she noticed the cut on his lip. She frowned and took his little snout in her face, then immediately leaned in to lick that cut, too.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  15. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph stared as she took his paw....and licked it. That was a bit of an odd sensation, but already he felt the little stinging pain going away. He delicately took his paw from her, lifting it like a cat, and blinked when she licked his lip. Now that was odd. The rabbit had bitten ferociously, but the damage was minimal. What sort of man was he if he couldn't take a few nips from a fat rabbit? He wriggled out of her grasp and shifted back. It only looked like a cut on his upper lip, but he rubbed at it anyway. "I'm fine." he told her. "You're definitely looking better."

    He shifted his seat to stoke the fire, adding a few more brands and beginning to gut and clean the rabbit. "I already ate. This is for you."he told her, skinning the rabbit and skewering it to put it over the fire. He sighed and laid down on his back in front of the fire, exhausted. "Remind me to piss in the river before we leave. God damn nalads. If I was feeling better I would finish the fight they started. They're lucky we didn't lose the horse or we'd be staying in a nalad-skin tent."

    He looked over at her, upside down. "Is that going to be enough? You're....a lot taller."
     
  16. Shuck

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    Satisfied and proud of her work, the shuck sat on the ground and carefully stretched out her leg beside the fire.

    "I should heal more quickly than you," she said, raising her arms for inspection. The lighter scratches from their claws were nearly closed already, but the deeper cuts were lingering. Where they had bitten her didn't look changed at all. Her weakened condition likely had something to do with that.

    "Thank you," she said when he explained the rabbit was for her. Fae didn't normally throw around thanks and apologies, as they often came with unspoken promises of repayment, but this was Joseph. She laughed when said he'd pee in the river.

    "I dont know if they'd make good tents. If they smell anything like they tasted, I'd get no peace all night," she said, wrinkling her nose.

    "I think I did a fine job of making them regret it." Her chin lifted slightly, indignantly. "There were five of them, you know. I only knew what they were because one visited the creek that ran behind the cemetery long ago. She killed three men before she was slain. They hung her up at the church to warn the parishioners against fae and wanton behavior."

    Not that she knew what that meant.

    She sighed, absentmindedly rubbing the deep cut in her thigh. Whe he asked if the rabbit would be enough, she looked at it and then shrugged.

    "It will have to be."
    It was a bit more sober than she had intended, so she moved on. "The tent seemed a lot shorter," she remarked as she looked at her long, lithe limbs.

    It occurred to her that she hadn't really looked at her new body yet. She reached a hand up and inspected the straight black hair, long enough to touch the ground behind her. It was shiny and colorless, like her fur had been. She crossed her eyes to look down her straight nose, then puckered her lips to catch a glimpse of them. Letting the blanket slide off her shoulder, she turned and craned her neck to try seeing as much of her back as she could.

    "Is this body tall?" she asked, straightening to look at her front. She poked at her navel. "And what is this thing?"

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  17. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph ran a hand over his face, smirking. "Ergh, maybe that's a good point. I wouldn't want to stink like fish and cowardly bitch!" he raised his voice at the last, directing it at the river. Who knew if they could hear him, but he couldn't resist taunting them anyway. It would make him feel better when the worst came. He smiled at her when she described what she did. "My leg hit a rock. I must have passed out. I didn't see what you did...but damn it must have been a fine sight to see. I have a thing for women who can kick ass." he told her.

    Then he was treated to the sight of her toying with her hair, and standing up. He smirked when she almost crossed her eyes trying to look at her nose. He stood up slowly, limping to her and running his fingers through her hair. It was black as pitch. It swallowed the firelight like the night sky, and he couldn't resist touching it. He put his hand on her waist, and slid his arms around it. "This..." he poked lightly at her navel. "Was where you were connected to your mother while she was carrying you. The cord kind of...turns inward and seals up. And youre damn tall." he limped around to her front and smirked, settling his chin between her breasts and looking up at her. Oh, he could rest for hours like this with her breasts nestled against his cheeks and his large brown eyes looking up at her adoringly. "If you couldn't tell." he joked.
     
  18. Shuck

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    He seemed interested in her hair, standing and coming over to give it equal inspection. She cast him an excited smile as she twisted this way and that. The brush of his hands around her waist made the hairs on her neck and arms rise up, and a shudder ran down her back when his fingers traced her navel.

    "My mother?" Her voice was quiet distant, and she frowned. She had a mother, she realized then. Did she miss her? There was a dissonance between herself and the feeling of sadness.

    Joseph walked around to look up at her, and she smiled once again, putting her arms around his shoulders.

    "Am I as tall as Heinrich?" she asked. "Everything looks different from this angle. And having arms is really nice. Now I can hold you like this."

    With a silvery laugh, she pulled him close, wrapping him in a firm hug as he'd done with her when she was a little shadow.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  19. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Well-Known Member

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    "I mean, everyone's got a mom." Joseph said quietly, but was willing to let the subject alone. Particularly when he was hugged close to her. He chuckled and kissed her breastbone, turning his head to listen to her heart. "I actually think you might be a little taller than he is." he said. He frowned a bit. Why couldn't he hear anything? He pressed his ear a little closer to her chest. No, he was right. Silent. That...it bothered him. It was odd. He decided to ignore it. He was having a good time with her, and he had something much more distracting in front of him. "I think I like you holding me like this..." he purred, kissing her breast.

    He ran a hand up her back, then down to cup her rear. "You're going to have to stop being naked around me or I'm going to take advantage of this height difference." he snaked out his tongue to flick across her nipple. Just a quick, teasing little action. "You're the most beautiful creature on two legs. And what pretty fucking legs they are." He grinned, resting his cheek against her breast.
     
  20. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    "Taller?" She replied, incredulous. "But he was so tall..." She had thought Heinrich a giant of a man, and here she was taller.

    The tone of his voice was new and strange, and she didn't understand until he kissed her. It made her chest feel light and warm, and she felt a bit breathless. She watched him keenly, her face blank with surprise but her eyes never breaking from his.

    A breath shuddered out of her, and she felt a wash of color spreading onto her cheeks. Her legs were wobbly, and not because of her wounds.

    "I-I think the rabbit is cooked," she squeaked. She managed to slip away, surprisingly light and graceful on her feet. The fae picked up her meal and eyed him warily before she sat back down with her blanket.

    "Aren't you cold?" she asked as she situated the blanket over her lap. She then kept her eyes on her meal as she tore apart slivers to eat. She was obviously struggling to breathe evenly. Gods, her body was burning up! She didn't even want the blanket.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  21. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Well-Known Member

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    For once he was angry the river was infested. He could do with a cold shower right now. She was responding to his touches, which only made his own body respond in kind. His eyes were filled with want of an entirely different sort right now... at least until she fled again. He ran his hand through his hair, looking at her. "I wish I was cold." he muttered, glancing at the water. It was hard to tell if she just didn't know what he wanted, didn't desire that sort of interaction, or just wasn't ready. He headed into the tent and came back with one of his shirts. "Put that on for fuck's sake. I'm going to get an early night."

    He swaddled himself in bedroll, took another dose of poppy and tried not to think about it. Her beautiful dark hair, intoxicating silver skin, the way she smelled and tasted. He laid out her bedroll in frustration, pushing it a little distance from his and curling up in his own. He didn't trust himself, or his body. He kept touching her, and kissing her, and every time she fled from it even though she seemed to like it.

    Damn it, there was nothing for it but to pinch himself between the legs, ride out the eyewatering, sucking pain in his groin, and get some sleep.

    He woke up late again, this time in the wee hours of the morning, and not for a good reason. The pain hit him like an elephant had sat on his leg. His muscles, unsupported by the brace, cramped and yanked the malformed bones in ways they most certainly did not want to be yanked. The action squeezed the nerves trapped in his foot and ankles, producing blinding pain that shot all the way up his spine, spread over his hips, and made him shake. He bit the bedroll and screamed like he was being flayed alive. He could hear the bones creaking, his own muscles threatening to tear his leg apart. He clawed the ground, writhing in agony. Something without legs. Something without legs. He fought through the pain, scales covering his body.

    Thankfully once his leg disappeared, so did the pain. He laid on the ground as a ratsnake, panting and dizzy with pain, curled up in a tight spiral. His breathing was rapid and shallow, even for an animal of such small size. His heart was beating wildly.
     
  22. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    She stole a glance as he walked to the tent, but quickly looked away before he emerged. He tossed her a shirt and announced that he was going to bed. Regret instantly made her stomach turn cold, and she opened her mouth to say something. But the words didn't come, and she watched silently as Joseph disappeared.

    She looked down at the shirt and she rabbit, then at the fire. It was barely dark; they had slept all day and she couldn't imagine sleeping more at that moment. Picking at her meal, she only ate because she knew she needed it rather than because she wanted it.

    When she was finished, she slipped into his shirt and wrapped her arms around herself. It hardly reached her hips, but it smelled like him. She sat at the fire in contemplation for several hours, until the ache returned to her limbs and the bites on her thighs and forearm began to sting. With a sigh, she grabbed her blanket and ventured to the tent.

    She felt a mix of anger and grief when she saw him sleeping with his back to her mat. Sitting on her heels, he considered sleeping outside, just to spite him, but a sharp sting in her leg begged her to spare her battered body from the cold, merciless ground. Swallowing her urge to be as petty as possible, she nestled into her bedroll and, after what felt like hours of staring at the tent wall, she fell asleep.

    Joseph's muffled scream yanked her out of her slumber. She shot upright and looked over at him with eyes wide with terror.

    "Joseph? What's wrong?" she asked, leaning over him. Her mind was a frantic mess and she could only watch in helpless confusion until he shifted into a snake. The shuck reached out to him with shaking hands, but hesitated to pick him up.

    "What happened?" she asked, forgetting that he couldn't talk back to her. She wished she was smarter -- that she knew even something about anything, to know what she could do to make this better. Her simple mind reached for the obvious, his leg, but she didn't understand what had happened or what would even begin to help him.

    Nevertheless, her resolve to make this right was set. Even as frightened tears shimmered in her eyes, the shuck pulled his blanket back up over him and, ignoring the burning in her legs, carried his bedroll out by the fire.

    "Don't worry. Just rest." She hesitated, then gave his little head a kiss.

    She packed up the camp, paying no mind to the mocking clicks and whistles from the river beyond. She broke down the tent to the best of her abilities and tied the poorly-folded canvas to the saddle. When she was kicking out the fire, she noticed a strange bundle of sticks and herbs, but ignored it; she had more important things on her mind.

    She filched a pair of his trousers from his bag, which were horrendously short on her but at least she wouldn't be half naked. Only then did she wrap his little body up in his blanket, put away his bedroll, and kick out the fire. Tucking both him and the blanket into her shirt to keep his serpentine body warm, she wrestled her way onto the horse and (eventually) figured out how to make it go.

    "There has to be some other humans nearby," she told him, placing a reassuring hand over his bundle in her shirt.

    Humans would settle along rivers. If she followed the flow of the water, she would eventually find something. She rode the horse downstream and got lucky, finding her harness washed up. Four naiads were watching from the water as she walked over to get it, hissing ominously at her, but didn't try anything. The shuck paid little mind to the absence of the fifth. Good riddance. She got back on the horse and awkwardly kicked it onward.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  23. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Well-Known Member

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    Joseph hadn't meant to hurt her. He'd just been...frustrated. She seemed so afraid to respond to him, and yet her actions and body were complete opposites. She'd flee from his touch then cuddle next to him and kiss him. He wanted her so badly Seeing her as a woman instead of a dog or shade had brought all of his lingering feelings to the forefront. It didn't help that he was a highly sexual persona anyway, and her being afraid of such a natural want was confusing to him. Not to mention the pain was putting him in a monstrous mood.

    He was curled up tightly as a little snake. The pain was dying away and he settled against her chest when she bundled him up. He wished he could turn back into himself but he was terrified of the pain. He wanted to help her pack everything away, but he didn't dare change into anything but the snake. Even one of his favored forms like the dog still had a leg to be pained by. It might even be worse considering the shift in anatomy. He eyed his broken brace balefully as she packed it up. Without the heel piece holding his ankle still, it was useless.

    He contented himself with fantasizing about becoming a great sea serpent and crushing the rest of the nalads with his tail. He fell asleep against her chest, lulled by the warmth and the rhythm of the horse's hooves. It was odd how they'd suddenly switched roles. Now she was taking care of him, and he was the small frail creature. He sighed and tried to get some rest. He didn't know how long he could hold this form, and it was important to get some sleep when he could steal it.
     
  24. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    The river wound it's way across the valley, snaking between the hills that gently began to rise across the plain. Small copses of trees crowded its edge periodically, but soon she began to see farmhouses in the distance -- lone cottages that were huddled against barns. A pasture had been cut and gathered for hay, and then rows of empty fields where crops had been harvested met with the river.

    And then there, after the sun had risen and chased the frost away, was a little village in the distance. More than a village, she realized as they rode closer; a small town stretched away from the river, where the fans of a mill turned lazily.

    "There's a town up ahead," she said down her shirt, moving the blanket aside to find his serpentine face. "And I found my bag by the river. Do you think you can eat something for me?"

    She had hung her harness on the horn of the saddle, and easily reached into it to look for the meat sticks. Surprisingly, the objects inside were relatively dry.

    On a more concerning note, she pulled out what she thought was dried meat, only to find a smaller bundle of sticks and herbs in her hand. Fir, sumac, and lavender, and the moment she laid eyes on it, she could sense the magic that had been infused into the bundle. She sucked in a sharp breath, afraid of what she had mindlessly grabbed, but no averse effect came. Whatever it was, it must have been benevolent. Did Heinrich put it in there? Did Joseph know about it?

    But the memory of that other bundle in the camp tickled at the back of her mind, and she placed it back inside her satchel. She could ask Joseph when this was all said and done. For now, she found a stick of jerky and broke off little sliver to offer them to Joseph with quiet words of encouragement. She dribbled water on her fingers and held the droplets in front of him. Her whole body felt twisted by the anxiety to wanting him to be better, and she felt her regret in the way her arms yearned to hug him. The shuck wanted to be comforted, but he was the one in need this time and she had to be strong.

    The village approached, however, and she tucked Joseph safely into her shirt once more. She must have been an odd sight, considering the way a farmer turning soil with a plow gawked at her as she approached, but she smiled regardless.

    Fortunately, her inquiry for a doctor was met with directions and a guiding hand to the village physician. She trotted off and made her way through the town along the directions the farmer offered, ignoring the looks of strangers. When at last she stopped the horse below the sign of the doctor's office, she pulled her bundle of Joseph out of her shirt and held it level with her face.

    "You look here," she said in a firm tone to the snake. "I'm going to take you into this man's office and he is going to help you, and you are going to let him. I promise you that if you are stubborn, I will leave you here and I wi--"

    A sharp searing pain lit through her tongue and she gasped, then glared at him like he'd done it to her. So that was what it felt like to lie.

    "I will leave you here," she repeated, her threat falling flat. She swung down from the saddle and cuddled him against her chest. "Afterwards, we can find someone who can fix your brace." There was a cobbler and two blacksmiths in town, based on the signs she had seen. Surely one of them could do that.

    It was silent inside the office, save for the sound of pages flipping. A man not much older than Joseph was sitting at a desk, turning through a thick tome. He looked up when she entered and straightened, his expression quickly shifting from surprised to a kindly smile.

    "Good morning, miss," he said politely. "Can I help you?"

    "Yes," she blurted, not bothering to return his pleasantries as she walked forward. She held up her bundle of Joseph.

    "My friend needs help. He's not really a snake, just a snake right now. But he's a snake, so I can't exactly tell you what he needs..."
    Even she had to frown at that, confusing herself. She shook her head. The doctor was looking at her with wide eyes and had leaned a bracing hand back on his reading desk.

    "His leg brace broke and he's going to be in pain when he's not a snake anymore," she finished, as if this was something normal.

    He stared at her for a moment, then the snake in the wad of blanket she held out for him, before a smile broke his shocked expression.

    "You know, I came to this small town to escape this kind of excitement," he told her with a small laugh. Then, before she could open her mouth to question him, "Let me see your friend."

    Without batting an eye, the doctor took the blanket and carried it to a cot along one wall. He gently unwrapped Joseph and the shuck peered over his shoulder anxiously.

    "Can you nod your head yes or no to me..." He paused and looked back at her. She took a moment to realize he was asking for his name.

    "Joseph."

    "Joseph. Can you nod or shake your head for me? I have a few questions."

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  25. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Well-Known Member

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    Joseph refused the little offer of meat, but licked up a few drops of water from her fingers. He mostly just hid. He didn't know what to do, nor did he think he could face her after his first serious attempt to seduce her and her running away from him. His feelings were rumpled and the short nap and horse ride hadn't been nearly enough time to sort them out. He was battling insecurities on all fronts. It couldn't have been his appearance; even she didn't know she was several classes above him. His mind fought with it. Was it her naivete? Was it too soon? Had he seriously misjudged the way their friendship was heading? Why was he so tangled about this? He'd shrugged off rejection before, and much worse rejections at that!

    He looked at her when she threatened to leave him there, his head tilting when she sucked in a breath. And there it was. The lie. It caused her physical pain, like someone had thrust a burning brand in her mouth. She wasn't going to leave him. The doctor's office made him bristle. She was hitting on a very, very private part of his life. He'd physically fought off doctors before to avoid the shame of it. He hadn't had his leg checked since he'd left his parents, preferring to deal with the pain, sores, and muscle spasms with a combination of alcohol and sheer will. He hadn't been taking care of it and he knew it.

    He was also terrified of judgement. Mothers drowned babes that came out like him. Doctors gave him uncomfortable looks. Some of them recommended horrific things like amputation. He looked at the doctor, curled up in Shuck's hand. He wasn't sure if he should just play the dumb serpent...or communicate. He was afraid to turn back into a human but it was the easiest way to communicate.

    Joseph huffed and unwound from her wrist. He slithered to the floor and shifted back, grabbing the blanket and tying it around his waist. He sat on the cot. "For fuck's sake...poppy." he growled at the doctor. "Now." A few seconds of being human and he could already hear blood pounding in his ears. With his leg poking out under the blanket it was easy to see some of what was going on. His calf muscle clenched and unclenched wildly, squirming like a living thing was trapped under his skin.
     

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