Redsand Canyon but the room is so quiet
August 01, 2020, 04:39 PM
Finley Grebe
Lone Wolves

backdated around July 30–31; past midnight, northern edge of Healer’s Pass. vaguely assuming this is going to end poorly for the Saints. vague about a lot of things, really. have a lyric title :3c

for @Renard

Wrong.

Her? Them? Donovan. This. All of it. Sleep refused her. Heavy air, heavy shoulders; moving faster than she had in days. His howl rang through the canyons and took her to a head on a stake, brown, dull lifeless.

Labyrinthian mountain gave way to evergreen. Familiar. Know your place. The viper coiled; beastly claws, gold and glimmering, tread her into the abyss. Imagine dying here, ground to sand, over something so asinine.

Donovan could show up now and drag her from this infernal trek to nowhere and Finley would not care. He’d taken his empty leap of faith, and what did he have to show? What did his follower?

“We will be positively deadly.”

Onward Finley marched.
August 01, 2020, 05:24 PM
Renard
Saints Of The Dying Light
Blades
the rain had started only an hour ago. slow and gentle, filling the canyon up with the smell of wet dirt. the soft patter of rain was better than anything they’d found yet in this empty place to conceal the sound of their passage; they moved like a shadow beneath the spread of evergreen trees and redsand walls, aimless beyond the nebulous task of patrolling the borders.

it was getting boring.

it wasn’t that donovan had a vision to sell them on; it wasn’t that they were frustrated a promise hadn’t been fulfilled. he hadn’t offered anything beyond a place to serve, and the promise that it would not be for the weak. if he wanted to reclaim the saints’ glory days before the betrayal, that was his own problem, and one he could solve if he tried.

but it was growing old, being a blade no hand was wielding for their proper purpose. what use was a weapon when you left it to rust?

the border still had not been touched. it smelled only of the saints, even in the heavy rain, even after donovan’s…meeting with the court. under the shadow of the trees, renard turned away, nostrils flaring, and –

finley. the curve of renard’s mouth sharpened into a smile. what did she mean to do, out at the borders in the rain?

there was nothing here. nothing interesting. they did not hesitate to abandon their patrol; instead, low to the ground like the shadows that hid them, they prowled up the slope of the hill, out into the thickets of flowers. in the watery light of the moon, muted by clouds, darkness was everywhere; it loomed over them as they moved, a heavy presence that did not obscure finley’s march: a soldier’s tread through the flowers and into the night.

the exact same pace she had brought to nemisis’ execution. not the one she had brought to the chalice; not the one she had brought to the pass before.

they slipped behind her, trailing her steps, keeping pace for a few silent moments before they came to a stop. still several feet away when they finally lifted their head, ears forward, smile curling the edges of their lips.

“and where are you going?” renard asked. their voice, soft and drawn-out, only just rose above the gentle sound of the rain.

August 01, 2020, 10:47 PM
Finley Grebe
Lone Wolves

The rain mattered little to Finley. Pitiful was the soldier who yielded to a passing storm. Had she been thinking strategically, she may have considered that the weather may have masked her scent to passerby, or that other Saints would sleep comfortably tucked away from such melancholy conditions.

But Finley was not thinking, at least not to her usual hyper-aware extent. If tangible thoughts passed her mind at all, they fled fast as the drops from sky to ground: fleeting, indiscernible. She certainly wasn’t trying to be stealthy. Something primal dragged her on, intoxicating in its simplicity.

“And where are you going?”

Should’ve heard that coming.

With the gentle tap of a hammer the trance snapped—but it had yet to fall to pieces, not when she recognized that voice. Renard. What a character this one was. There would be no straightforward “what are you doing here”—this was Renard, why wouldn’t he be here.

Finley slowed enough to glance back, nearly pausing but not quite. She regarded Renard with what she thought was her usual skepticism, but she wasn’t thinking; beyond her recognition or control, her brow had furrowed into an uneven squint, lip curled back, blink-and-you-miss-it. “Could ask the same of you.” Words ran together in a single breath, as if she’d choke if she wasted another second.

She wasn’t mad at Renard, was she? What had the hybrid done but play word ricochet, even spar; regardless of how the latter had gone, Renard’s scars were not those of an unseasoned fighter. Hadn’t he said something about that, being trusted and important and then leaving? The details seemed so very hazy and Finley lacked the patience to fish for them.

In fact, she somehow didn’t have the patience to play at all. Initial impression sealed, Finley swung her head forward again, though she summoned a renewed awareness in case Renard followed. It wouldn’t be the first time if he did; one Saint trailing off and away to hell-knows-where, another following in baffled ignorance of their intentions. How long Renard maintained this follow-the-leader charade was of little concern to her; what mattered, if nothing else, was if he attacked.

High alert. Assuming the worst. In Finley’s book, essential traits. How lacking they seemed to be.

“Are you here to stop me?” Less scathing, no less taut. Possibly the most straightforward question she’d asked the Blade yet.
August 02, 2020, 12:08 AM
Renard
Saints Of The Dying Light
Blades
what a question. and after all that veiled insinuation and metaphor back in the canyon. they would have known she wasn’t thinking even without the curl of her lip, the furrow of her brow. didn’t pay to miss the signs.

“i said i’d be watching, didn’t i?” almost amused, as her head swung forward again –

and with her back turned, presenting the perfect target, something cold rose in the center of their chest. they weren’t some feral beast, turning on anything that they could sink their teeth into – but they’d been called similar before, and sometimes it was tempting to pretend otherwise.

their question hadn’t been necessary. they knew what she was doing. how could they not? after the way she’d frozen at nemisis’ execution, the perfect blankness of her expression – and now here, in the dark and in the rain. the saints’ borders did not lay far ahead. beyond that, the sunspires.

beyond that, an escape.

if renard had been here on donovan’s orders – if he had known she would run, and if he had cared enough to wield the blade that had handed itself over to him – they would have struck. a quick snake-bite to the back of the right leg, deep enough to sever the tendon. another on the left to match. they would have let her try to run, too, let her try to fight if she really wanted, in the same way a cat toys with an injured bird – dragged her back only when she was no longer capable of moving, bleeding the same color as the rain-soaked sand under their paws.

but they were not.

so they only thought about it, watching her walk away: the withheld promise of violence lingering in the animal gleam of their eyes, blurred by the rain.

“i’m not here to do anything i haven’t been ordered to do.” they let their voice rise a little; they kept finley within speaking range, nothing more. “might surprise you to know that donovan didn’t notice anything odd about your behavior at his little show. too busy gloating over nemisis’ execution.” their smile widened. “or it might not. unfortunately for you, i pay attention.”

if donovan paid attention, he wouldn’t have needed to make such a spectacle of his mate. he wouldn’t have made nearly as much of a mess with his diplomacy. he wouldn’t have driven the saints into this corner in the first place.

and here they’d thought she might be the solution. they hadn’t anticipated this particular answer to the problem.

who would have joined the saints expecting anything other than blood?
August 02, 2020, 01:15 AM
Finley Grebe
Lone Wolves

How blatant the threat in Renard’s reminder. How careless Finley’s own actions, aware just enough to acknowledge he could take hold of her whenever he damn well pleased, yet unwilling to face the fangs that gleamed in her trail. He might as well watch her throw her head away; down the hill it rolled.

Would Renard “surprise” her? Her ignorance laid bait on a trapless platter. Finley hadn’t the slightest clue, even unpossessed, that Renard entertained her as a solution to the Saints’ ails—but given this, well, all the more reason to leave her traitorous skull for the vultures. They could pick and tear and devour and it would have been right. Nature promised nothing to the weak.

She did not look back. Would the hunger in Renard’s stare have scared her? He was not a child, and he had no throne; his authority here was primal. Finley welcomed it. Let order reign.

But instead, Renard spoke. Of course Donovan hadn’t noticed; the brindled man-pup would rather frolic in distant caves than watch his border, lure in more and more recruits with promises of an oasis, trot and hum and piss around as if fate would drop willing warriors on his oh-so-deserving doorstep.

Renard’s with the Saints could make Finley believe in miracles. “Unfortunately for you, I pay attention.” She wanted to laugh.

The opening question had been pointless.

“Then you’ll know that I’m not dying—literal and figurative, that; the closest she could muster to metaphor—“to protect an idiot.” Dry as sun-baked sand. Doublespeak was carrion at this point; rationalization gnawed at the bones.

Donovan made toys of them all, wound tight in a desert without reason in sight. To hell with the right places and times. Was Renard having fun yet?
August 02, 2020, 04:58 PM
Renard
Saints Of The Dying Light
Blades
and so there it was, thrown between them with all the subtlety of a charging bear. the careful push and pull of their previous interactions was gone, the bones strewn at their feet; renard examined them with a clinical gaze, all rotting flesh and splintered fragments. there was no warmth in their smile when it, at last, returned.

the truth of it? it wasn’t a stupid move. anyone could see donovan driving them into the ground. the intrigue, the fun, lay in the way each saint handled it. derg sat beneath a waterfall and submitted to renard’s fury; auriel absorbed herself in clawing for their grandmaster’s affections. they had seen nothing interesting yet; in a way, finley’s solution was the most fascinating, the least predictable.

that wasn’t enough. there was no shame in running, in living to fight another day – renard had thrown aside all misguided notions of fair play and nobility long ago, if they’d ever acknowledged them at all, and the odds were they'd do it many more times before they were through – but only as long as you had no other option.

they were not short of options, here with the saints.

“thought you might have the guts to take this from him. but i see i was wrong.” no. someone whose solution, faced with their current situation, was leaving – where was the fun in that? they were, first and foremost, here to be entertained.

“indulge me,” renard said, very aware that neither of them was at all inclined to indulging a question and curious enough to ask nonetheless. “what did it for you? the court, or the execution?”

August 03, 2020, 11:44 AM
Finley Grebe
Lone Wolves

If Renard found endless possibility within the Saints’ careening trajectory, quite the opposite was true for Finley. She had a purpose to fulfill, vaguely-outlined as it was, and the Saints’ offerings were bathed in mindless bloodshed and tumbleweed affections. A spectacle indeed—and Finley had never been inclined towards empty show.

The irony, then, of making a performance of her own through her behavior, then and now, was not lost on her. It mattered little, here and now, how smart her decision was in “truth;” sense was to be carved in retrospect, once the remains were thoroughly cleaned. But for now the pieces were strewn in an impulsive haphazard; instinct forged ahead without wasting breath for explanation.

“Thought you might have the guts to take this from him.” What followed was of less concern. Everyone could stand to be proven wrong in these canyons. Finley bit her tongue just long enough to let Renard continue, with a prod she would have scrambled to answer if she cared to try, but as the first matter of business: “There’s nothing to take.” Another dart of the eyes back, wondering if he’d caught the scoff in her tone; but Renard followed from behind, out of sight.

Nothing worth taking, to be precise; alas, the time for such specifics had passed. Already Renard’s final question threatened to muddle her head and, or bring it all to the surface or what have you it didn’t matter her mind was made—even if Finley wanted to turn back now, Renard would have her throat. But really, what did the Saints have to offer? Hollow, gaping promises; Donovan himself, apparently. The latter appeal was lost on Finley now as it had been from the start. His antics meant little.

Fine, she’d entertain him. “The nonsense.” Neither; both. “Entertain me: what hooked you?” A final bet, hedged on the limp semblance of fairness; she barely had the right to ask and expected no answer. “Surely not the fawning.” Renard had to be smarter than that.
August 03, 2020, 02:20 PM
Renard
Saints Of The Dying Light
Blades
what renard found here was indeed possibility. was there some promise, some noticeable potential? it was true that the saints now held a desert in every sense of the word, but an empty show was a show nonetheless; even if they tore themselves apart, it would still be a spectacle worth watching. in the meantime, more and more teeth gathered behind the banner – teeth that could be redirected to a useful purpose, for someone with the will to control them and the brain to put them to use.

it was becoming increasingly obvious that person would not be donovan.

renard’s loyalty had always been a loose and flexible thing. next time they might find someone with the intelligence to back up their claims; pretty words meant little without it.

for now, they were at least entertaining.

the scorn in finley’s voice had a bite; but if that was all she saw, who were they to contradict her? the decision had been made already; if there was someone to put in donovan’s place, it would not be her. not if she lacked the ability to see the opportunity before her – even if she could, they had no use for anyone without the interest in taking it.

she was already walking away. renard did not continue; no point in wasting the breath.

there was plenty of space to place cards on the table now, and finley’s non-answer was nothing less than they’d expected. why not respond in kind?

“boredom.” donovan had promised nothing – what else could it be? “doesn’t matter to me how badly he fucks this up. it’s still a show.”

still a show, even if they were already tiring of donovan’s grip on their leash. the question now was finding someone else to hand it off to.

August 03, 2020, 10:48 PM
Finley Grebe
Lone Wolves

Potential interested Finley as much as an escaped hunt; you either had what mattered or you didn’t, end of story. Teeth were useless without cause.

Of course she hadn’t entertained the possibility of takeover; Finley was not an ambitious soul, bred and born and molded under the banner of useful muscle—nothing more. To live and die for a worthwhile commander was the pinnacle of existence; such grand purpose strangled individual ambition and gobbled the bones. If a subordinate’s goals aligned with the leader’s, all the better, but such idealism came secondary.

And yet. The ego of Finley Grebe had, if nothing else, a staunch refusal to bow for the frolic of hormone-driven fools. So away it led her, with a mindless conviction the pledged “Grandmaster” had scarcely offered since the move to the mountains. It was impulsive, foolish, flaring a target on her own neck; it made more sense than anything had in far too long.

So what did Renard see in it all?

“Boredom.”

Ah.

It should have been evident from the beginning: by his own admission he’d “missed most of the fun.” The truth had stared her in the headlights; she’d been too busy wiping at a speck on the window. Renard didn’t care, had never cared, for the future of the Saints, no more than Finley did now. The smiles, the talk of mutiny, the watching, always watching, all rooted in a smug satisfaction the burning building wouldn’t explode in his face and take him down with it.

Sounded awfully familiar there, darling.

You’re smarter than this. The words tugged at the curl of Finley’s lip, but it wasn’t as though Renard didn’t know. The hybrid didn’t care. So much for expectations. Smarts, then, were also useless without proper application.

Trees thinned as the mountain sloped ever higher, marking the end of the Saints’ land. Renard had stopped following and Finley had little time to waste on dramatic delays. Any frustrations that the encounter threatened to dredge had been vanquished in the dance of the rain, flowing back downstream to a newfound object of her projections. Of course what Finely was doing made sense. Death and catastrophe were life’s unfortunate byproducts; when one saw them as stagehands, something had gone horrifically wrong.

At least Renard was honest. For that alone Finley could offer her best excuse for an encore.

“Enjoy your mirage.” Whatever distaste festered had been supplanted by her typical monotone. Thank you for your time, good fellow; now she must be on her way, as should you if you’ve a brain left. Whether or not Renard heard, Finley did not care—but, just as unintentionally as her earlier snarl, she’d raised her voice. The words were sardonic; the sentiment drying her tone, less so.

Finley offered nothing else. The Saints weren’t her concern anymore.
August 04, 2020, 01:41 AM
Renard
Saints Of The Dying Light
Blades
:-,( bye finley...i love u even if renard is a little bitch. godspeed

whatever the saints became would not be a mirage. renard expected nothing but what loomed, visible, ahead – and that was little other than blood. it was very likely now that donovan would never be worthy of their respect, even if he magically woke up tomorrow with his shit in order.

eventually someone would take it from him. it might be mutiny as much as it might be his own death. he’d made enough enemies for it, after all. but either way held promise.

they could respect finley’s reasoning, at the very least. she wasn’t wrong.

and she didn’t intend to do anything about it, so what did that matter? she wasn’t here offering her own hand to wield their proverbial blade.

she wasn’t facing them when she spoke, the volume of her voice betraying her words. not that it mattered. their smile, now, was more teeth than anything friendly, invisible in the dark.

“more than you’ll enjoy your freedom, i’m sure.” she’d been desperate enough to come to the saints for something, hadn’t she? an empty promise was still a promise: now she didn’t even have that. “i’ll be seeing you.”

more immediate things demanded their attention. renard didn’t bother to watch her leave. the saints weren’t her concern anymore, and finley wasn’t theirs: they turned – away from the mountains, back to the narrow cage of the canyon walls – and vanished into the rain.