Blackfeather Woods I just needed a little off the top.
All Welcome  October 28, 2018, 10:01 PM
Title is from Aesop Rock's song, "Racing Stripes".

Their conversation had been quick, and the group was swift to react to the plan. They would depart鈥攚ith the Redhawk in the lead, followed by Maegi, and thankfully the strength of Kalganov following suit鈥攁nd through it all, Mou kept himself at the back of the pack. He followed until the caves yawned in to freedom, feeling the stale air brighten with the chill of October, but he did not follow beyond that. They were in a panic; he, oddly level-headed, watched as the weighted form of Kalganov gave chase to the others, and soon he was alone among the shadows.

Then, soundlessly and without much pause, Mou turned back.

His retreat took him back along the winding corridors of the caves, through the soggy mire, and then to Maegi's garden. He paused and looked across the segment she had been standing in when he'd found her鈥攚ork unfinished鈥攁nd he could still smell her, a faint aroma upon the exposed soil. He took a breath, and he moved on.

The shouting of a familiar voice, distant and illegible, told Mou to pull himself along a different path. He plunged through the dark forest in the hopes that he'd encounter someone from the raiding party (unaware it was merely a loud-mouthed cur and his noble ally, and equally unaware that they had split up). His reaching steps devoured the landscape, and Mou was struck by how familiar these paths had become鈥攁nd how fit his body was. Of course he would be running towards danger, and towards death, when finally at peak condition.

A bend in the treeline swept his path off-kilter a few degrees, and he lunged awkwardly to compensate. The forest was silent save for his abrupt foot-falls as his body nimbly avoided a fall; then, as he settled and took a breath, he smelled something strange鈥攕o much like the captive girl, but different. The scent was that of @Tegan Blackthorn, but to Mou it was the stench of an early death. He was reminded fleetingly of the bear, the darkness, the sea鈥攕o many ends that he had avoided. And here he was, standing still and waiting for that same misfortune to find him.

And all he thought of after that was, Maegi.
October 29, 2018, 04:16 PM
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oh that motherfucker was gonna get it. he was gonna get it. screech was gonna get it.

tegan bolted from the young girl and whoever else was still left in the area. honestly, he wasn't sure what was going on and he was just surprised he wasn't dead. actually, tegan was more聽surprised that blackfeather was still standing. how'd they let him get this damn far? well-- one had gone after llew... but he was making a racket. you'd think that someone would've rocked his ass already.

but nope, here he went, cruising through the territory聽with only malicious thoughts--聽as malicious as tegan could be.聽

if he scented ceara, he couldn't tell. there was too much blackfeather stench. the only thing that was certain, however, was screech. and it was only certain because tegan was suddenly face to face with him. although, it only kinda聽looked like the guy. tegan only recognized him cause he was missing a got damn eye. tegan froze, standing across a kinda-clearing(there was a bit of moonlight that shown through this particular spot, but not much)聽from screech.

this was it. this was his moment. "you motherFUCKER!"聽tegan snarled, never one to be a deer-in-the-headlights for too long. his hackles raised and his teeth were bared in an uncharacteristic way. tegan was not usually so aggressive. but this... this was fucking different. "you should be fucking dead!聽"i'm gonna fucking kill you!" he yelled, and midway through he聽threw himself forwards, paws crashing against the earth and hurling him towards screech. he'd spring at the last available second, aiming right for the throat. who knows where he'd actually land, though.

this was not a subtle attack.
October 29, 2018, 05:00 PM

Misfortune didn't have to look far; it hit him, and it hit him hard.

The shape of a young wolf materialized in the dark and came zooming straight for him, like a bat out of hell. The stranger's movements weren't hard to predict. Even for Mou, with his one good eye, knew it was coming. He had ample time to move out of the way, but had half a mind to stay there and take the brunt of the attack鈥攖eeth or no teeth鈥攂ut the kid didn't know the forest the way Mou did. There were roots in most places and gaps in others, and the pale boy watched as his assailant came careening out of the cover of the trees鈥攖hrough a shaft of pale light that penetrated the canopy鈥攁nd crashed right in to Mou. No, there weren't any teeth. Just the crunching of two thick skulls; there was a sickening pop in there too but the ensuing confusion left the boy ignorant to the fact his stone-eye had come loose.

Mou was left reeling backwards. He knew every inch of this forest and should've positioned himself better鈥攎aybe near a pit鈥攂ut he hadn't been thinking, just eager to trade one life for another. Now, with a series of tiny titmouse whizzing cartoonishly around his head, he was left to deal with this. The pain reminded him of that time he'd conked noggins with Niamh (and not in a sexy way), and it wasn't until the world stopped whipping around him in a blur that Mou realized鈥Screech realized鈥Titmouse, whoever he was, knew鈥攈e knew who this was.

This was that asshole kid, Tegan.

He remembered.
October 29, 2018, 05:46 PM
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oh fuck that was soooo wrong. not what was supposed to happen. instead of his teeth connecting with screeches fucking throat, he instead found his big ass head colliding with screeches head. big ouch. big oof. big not fun. tegan stumbled聽backwards after the collision, rocking back a few steps before shaking himself out.聽

in a slurred voice, gaze still hardened into a sharp glare, tegan said, "youuuu coward-- you bitch-- you're gonna pay."聽oh yeah? and hows he gonna pay, tegan? you just gonna ram your head into him again?

luckily, tegan had the sense not to play the offensive. his teeth bared, ears flattened to his skull, tegan took a few sidesteps (partially due to still behind a bit starry from the konk and partially to circle him like some sort of predatory). "come fucking kill me you cunt,"聽he taunted, eyes flashing, "live up to that fuckin聽reputation."
October 29, 2018, 06:00 PM

The pale figure of the boy is still trying to find his footing. The pain in his head isn't helping matters, except in the case of his identity, but as the pain begins to recede so do some of those bits and pieces. Some things have fallen in to place thanks in no small part to the bludgeoning of Tegan's face against his own. He knows his name鈥攈e knows that Fire was right all along, that he's a Redhawk, and he even thinks they're all on to something with the hating him thing鈥攂ut before he can learn more, that mental wall is correcting itself. Whatever cracks were caused by the collision have been mostly remedied; he feels dizzy, and confused, but also very certain of a few things.

Specifically, he knows he doesn't want to die. The boy can't quite come to terms with what to call himself鈥攊s he still the sweet-heart, the passive Mou, who loves the dark forest and the ghostly girl from the island? Or is he Screech, this volatile fiend that desperately wants to be set loose, all rage and teeth and endless self-loathing? He doesn't know. Perhaps neither. Perhaps some mixture, but for now Titmouse feels like a day old frappuccino that's gotten nasty and separated. Maybe mixing things up isn't such a good idea.

But the confrontation is happening and there's no getting around it; the opponent, this antagonistic child that's full of piss and vinegar and probably eighty-percent spite, is glaring at him and screaming. Titmouse thinks he's staring at himself for a second. Come to think of it, Tegan looks a lot like him. At least back before he became this forgetful ghost鈥攇od his mind was a jumble.

This series of thoughts and musings swirled about Titmouse's addled brain, even while Tegan was shouting and prostrating like some kind of David figure versus a not-so-giant Goliath. Tit feels an absence and a soreness in his face, and upon glancing at the dirt he sees the slicked stone that once sat in his now empty socket; gross. Maybe this would be the ammunition Tegan would use to slay him.

His teeth are gritting, and he's watching Tegan as the boy circles him like some kind of carrion pest. He can't speak, can't defend himself that way, and remembers鈥Mou鈥攈e remembers the sea, Seelie鈥攁nd with a slight inhalation, the cliff.

The boy's eyes widen. One gaping socket, one bright gold eye, glowing like the sun as a beam cuts across his face. A sublime horror sets upon his pale features but he isn't afraid of Tegan. Titmouse remembers the feeling of Towhee's teeth in his throat鈥

鈥攁nd he all but collapses under the weight of those memories, gasping a sound like the freshly risen dead.
October 29, 2018, 06:09 PM
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tegan's expression got less and less mean as screech got less and less fucking... sane.聽or maybe he was getting more sane. either way, tegan watched as the wolf before him became all screwed up in the face-- he looked confused and in pain and suddenly plopped himself on his ass and stared up at the canopy like some sort of dazed goat(in JB's own words).聽

tegan was... unsure of what to do.

"bitch? hello?"聽he called out, the end of bitch turning up. his posture straightened a bit-- moving from a lowered, defensive pose to an upright one. his head fell to one side, ears flicking forward. "dude what the fuck--"聽he began, and then a bit more aggressively to prove his desperation for fightin', "what the fuck is wrong with you?!"

"you tried to kill raven! you tormented moonspear! and other stuff the adults won't tell me! be a god damn man and fucking fight me!"
October 29, 2018, 06:22 PM

Maybe it was the blow to the head, or maybe it was that plus all the drugs he'd been abusing since arriving to the forest. Or it was both of those things plus his already unstable mental state鈥攂ut all of a sudden things were both very painfully clear and so jumbled at the same time that it took a moment for Tit-Mou-Screech to remember how to breathe.

He sucked in another breath. And another. They got more measured, less gasping, as he returned to himself (whatever that means). Tegan was harassing him again; demanding answers, as if the ghost had anything close to an answer for him. He opened his mouth a few times in a fish-like manner, and then lifted his chin, exposing the scar that ran the width of his larynx.

Then, in that weak and breathy, opposite-in-every-way-to-Tegan voice of his, he sighed:

Eff youh ah here to kell me, 'den kell me, Tee-gren. There were dark rings beneath Tit's eyes, a hollow quality to his face, but the expression there was something perplexing (as if the rest of this had been a cakewalk for either of them), looking to be equal parts accepting and tired. He felt like an old man. He didn't want to die鈥攂ut that's what he came here to do.

I... I remembah, Towhee tried. That was a memory he would've preferred never to recall again.
October 29, 2018, 06:35 PM
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Eff youh ah here to kell me, 'den kell me, Tee-gren.

it was this sentence that sent tegan spiraling.聽imagine.聽tegan went home with screech's ugly聽head. his fucking neck, snapped. it wasn't niamh聽or towhee or colt聽who had avenged raven. who had avenged moonspear. who had avenged the redhawks. no.聽

it was tegan.

tegan wobbled where he stood, the blood pounding in his ears. screech spoke again, about towhee this time. there was a rush of blood from his head-- or too his head, i dunno, tegan wasn't a fucking scientist--聽and then he regained his balance.聽he straightened, stiff and balanced,聽replaying what screech had just said in his head.

towhee tried.聽hah! tried! not that this was the moment to get gloaty, but towhee had fucking botched her moment. and here tegan was, standing before a weak and defeated screech, with the opportunity to finish this. once and for all. kill screech. avenge his family. avenge their allies. he wouldn't live in the shadow of his immaturity any longer. wolves would take him seriously. he would be respected. this was his chance.

kill screech.

his lips pulled back again, a dark snarl ripping from his throat. but this time, tegan didn't whip profanities his way-- no. tegan just lunged, again, for the throat.
October 29, 2018, 07:03 PM

The snarl penetrated the darkness around him. He felt it more than he heard it, and before Titmouse could react the boy was throwing himself forwards. His snapping teeth came so close to his exposed throat鈥攁nd then he felt the pinch. That sickeningly familiar sensation, as teeth sank in to flesh. He thought of Towhee's face so close to his carotid; the flurry of red wings, the salt in his blood mixing with the sea. The sting of it in his wound, like fire.

Fire鈥擳itmouse's gaze flashed suddenly at the thought of the Redhawk girl running for her life. Of Maegi, and the way the shadows sank away from them both, letting them loose. The swarming darkness of the wily crows and their larger cousins, the鈥Raven.

A roar bellowed around him almost as soon as he felt the constriction of those teeth at his throat; he reared up and pushed forwards off the mound of twisting roots and muddy hillside, plunging the two of them back in to the darkness which seemed to swarm like thousands of black wings. He wouldn't let this happen. He wouldn't go down without a fight鈥攖hat just wasn't the way Titmouse worked.
October 29, 2018, 07:12 PM
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wherever his teeth made purchase didn't matter, but he had aimed for the throat. his teeth sank into flesh, but he was too inexperienced and didn't quite have the hold he thought he might, and so when screech fought back-- something tegan hadn't expected him to do, not after the wimpy display he'd put on moments ago-- tegan found himself back where he'd started. but, worse, because now he was being forward backwards by screech's sudden surge.聽

tegan was not聽in control. this is not what he'd planned.

his feet scrambled against the earth, but they found little grasp. screech was fighting back, tegan was struggling.聽the only other thing he could think to do was maybe let go, stop himself from being dragged along the dark ground. but they'd left what little light they'd had moments ago, and so even when tegan released his grip on screech's throat, he found himself completely consumed by darkness. backpedalling as fast as he could away from the goliath that screech suddenly was, tegan only found himself tripping over roots.聽

fuck. shit. bitch.
October 29, 2018, 07:21 PM

Titmouse had the upper hand; or rather, Mou did, because it was the knowledge of the dark forest that he was using against the intruder.

That's all that Tegan had become鈥攖his malignancy that had to be eradicated for the safety of the rest of them. For Maegi. It was a mantra that repeated in his brain, sweeping aside whatever confusion and dizziness had taken hold: Maegi, Maegi, Maegi, she was all that mattered to Mou. She was at the forefront of every decision the ghost ever made鈥攁nd it was she who brought the rage out of Titmouse now.

He descended full-tilt upon Tegan as the boy faltered, falling upon him like an avalanche of spidering limbs, bear-trap-teeth, a frenzy of stabbing
tearing 鈥

until there was so much blood that the
ghost was a crimson beacon in the dark.
October 30, 2018, 05:23 PM
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there was darkness.聽

then there was confusion.

and then there was pain.

so much pain.

and then there was nothing.聽

every moment聽that lead up to this point had reached a level聽of spontaneity and stupidity that only tegan could reach. it was impulsive and emotionally driven and overall the worst mistake tegan would have聽ever made. he could've done a number of other things, like go home, for one. no one had asked him to聽even come here-- no one even wanted him here. this was a job for towhee, who maybe couldn't kill screech herself-- but she sure hadn't let screech kill her.聽

his family would be so disappointed to hear about his death. what a dumbass, they would've said.聽

and then there was light.聽

he blinked. tegan blackthorn blinked his eyes open and stared at screech, who sat before him with the same expression that he'd had moments ago. tegan was sitting, his forelegs spread bracing himself and his head hanging. his vision blurred, he felt woozy, but at least his limbs were holding him up. he realized now what had happened. it had only been seconds since screech had spoke. tegan had feinted for a mere moment, and聽a聽brief episode of nightmare city had聽played in his head as his eyes rolled to the back of his head.聽

he'd seen the future, seen his failures. and for the first time in tegan's life, he listened to better judgement.

dryly, his head now pounding and his throat burning as the weight of his own death caught in it, tegan said, "show me where ceara is, and we'll leave."

motherfucker was definitely concussed. and now he needed therapy.
October 30, 2018, 05:37 PM

He expected retribution for the crimes that he'd committed, even if they were a lifetime ago. He expected, maybe, to be bludgeoned to death, to flit between memories until there was only the void; but that was not going to happen. Titmouse should've remembered Tegan's spinelessness. There was no way this boy would take him out, which meant that trading his life for Maegi's was off the table.

What came next wasn't so surprising. A demand to see their captive 鈥 the girl he's already let loose, against all good judgement. Titmouse rose from his place in the dirt.

Titmouse did not know who Ceara was, but he assumed the boy meant 鈥 F'eye is nah here. It was the truth. She had been chased from the caves by Kalganov and Maegi and, hopefully, all three of them were safely removed from the forest. Little did he know.

You should leaf, Tee-gren. You ah alone. This is your chance to survive. If he didn't take this chance to flee, then surely the forest would close in on him; if not the trees, the crows. If not them, the wolves lingering in the dark.
October 30, 2018, 05:44 PM
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ugh! spineless! tegan was not聽spineless! he was being reasonable! he had just seen his own, pitiful life flash before his eyes and he was being reasonable!!!

of course screech wouldn't bring him to her. of course he wouldn't. tegan wanted to scream, but and overwhelming round of dizziness plagued him again. he slurred something, probably a profanity, and then stood with his lip caught on his fang.

"i need to find her,"聽he said, voice thick, his gaze narrowed on screech, muscles tensing. but this was his out. tegan was given an out. he needed to leave.

"fuck you,"he spat, as clearly as he could. and then, getting to his feet, tegan turned and left, maybe. he could only hope he was headed in the right direction. as screech was swallowed by the woods behind him, tegan pushed forwards, even as he stumbled over roots and underbrush, tegan escaped. tegan escaped the forest, unscathed.聽

well, his pupils were different sizes but this was a problem for another day.
October 30, 2018, 05:55 PM

Titmouse slunk after the retreating figure of Tegan for a few feet, watching him, making sure he found his way for the first little bit. He wasn't going to aid him nor stop any wolves if they chose to give chase; and when he finally vanished among the darkness of the trees, the boy's limbs gave way to trembling and he collapsed. His stomach churned, he dry heaved, and then he was left to sit there for a handful of minutes longer, breathing the familiar air of Blackfeather Woods as his concussion rooted him to the spot.

In time, he'd rise. He'd look to the blue-black shadows, watching them as if for the first time. The trees moaned over him. The crows and ravens watched from their roosts, spying upon the broken boy that had finally, fully, returned to them. Titmouse remembered Wolfskull Cave, Cassiopeia 鈥 how afraid he had been 鈥 but he also thought of Maegi, of home, of the altar and Relmyna and the stone 鈥

鈥攁nd then he looked down, looking at the forgotten shard of stone that had found a home in his face. He bent over it, then rose, and turned, and stalked off through the trees. Overhead a blue-black shape separated from the shadows; it picked the rock out of the grass, and without a sound Blue gave chase to the ghost.