Blackfeather Woods too short, walking the streets, i'm hating my haircut
Sapphique

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#1
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@Rowan forward dateddd
His exploration takes him to the edge of a dark wood, a place that smells vaguely claimed. But only by one wolf — perhaps two. Intrigued, he halts near the borders, contemplating for a few moments before he sends up a call. Perhaps whoever lives here might be willing to show him around — and possibly share, in exchange for the added protection of Zephyr's comfortable little group. But maybe he's getting ahead of himself. He doesn't even know what this place is like on the inside yet, or who lives here.
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#2
A call carried from his borders.
A soft song, asking for a leader. Rowan claimed these woods, did he not?
The youth took off towards the call, wondering who and what awaited for him.

He arrived in short order -- he wasn't doing much at the time.
He slowed his brisk pace as he came across the stranger. He assessed them. They looked...feminine but also...not. Rowan hummed softly, his tail swaying in greeting, but his head was held high.

"Welcome to Ivoryrose," he smiled.
"I'm Rowan Blackfeather."
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Sapphique

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#3
Zephyr doesn't expect to be greeted by a boy his own age, dark and handsome and far too polite for his own good. Yet he isn't displeased. Ivory Rose, the boy calls the place. Rowan Blackfeather. Hello, Rowan, He greets with a slight dip of the head; respectful, but not submissive. First order of business: gather more information. I'm Zephyr. Is Ivory Rose a pack? I don't smell any others here.
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#4
His head cocked.
They had such a gentle voice. He still couldn't quite place them, but thinks that they might be a male. He wasn't about to ask or go sniffing to check -- that'd feel wrong.

He smirked. They were nice.
"Yeah, Ivoryrose is supposed to be my pack. Of one currently," he laughed softly. He knew he was a one-man-band for now and wasn't ashamed at all. He knew it would be hard, he knew it was slow.
He was just glad to be in the woodland. Safe.
"What brings you here, Zephyr?"
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Sapphique

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#5
The confirmation sparks a certain hope in him, a budding idea that perhaps isn't entirely outlandish. He does, after all, have his own leverage. I'm traveling with a group — I'm sort of the leader, unofficially, He explains. We're looking for a more permanent home — but I'm not willing to be anyone's subordinate. I've had bad experiences with that, and I prefer to keep things peaceful and orderly myself. Maybe... if Ivory Rose is what I'm looking for, I could join you. Lead it with you, and help it grow. My group would come with me, too. And maybe I could have a place to bring back all my lost loves, when I find them.
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#6
A group?
This couldn't be all bad...right? He'd have to meet the group...make his own assessments.
But Zephyr seemed reasonable if a little demanding.
And why shouldn't he be? Especially with reason.

His expression softened. Rowan had an easily touched heart.
"I'm sure we can come to an agreement," he studied the other.
"As long as you can respect Blackfeather Woods, we can lead together. I'll be grateful for the help and company," he grinned again. Rowan didn't have many requirements, only that the way the Melonii lived was followed and respected.
"The crows and ravens here are sacred, as are some of the other places within the woods. As long as those are treated properly, I have no qualms with leading with you."

He wondered if they'd baulk at the idea of places and other beings being scared.​
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Sapphique

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#7
He's admittedly a little surprised when Rowan actually seems to like the idea. The requests that follow are a little strange — but not in a bad way, he thinks. The whole territory would be a sacred place in his mind anyway, so he can't imagine that being a problem. The birds, though... that's odd.
I always respect the place I live, so that won't be an issue. Are there any specific rules? And — why the crows and ravens? Do they help you in some way? Questions, questions, questions. He has more, of course, but those will have to wait. He's sure Rowan will be busy with the ones he's already presented for the moment.
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#8
The other pulled a face.
Only a little -- he wasn't expecting such conditions he supposed. Who would?
No matter, Rowan dismissed it. It wasn't offensive or anything.
He sat down, feeling comfortable around the other, licking his lips before answering.

"Do not kill or eat the blackbirds. They are sacred to the woods and bad fortune will be cast upon us otherwise. Rather, I place them at the Altar."
It was better to be firm and direct for the first time. Not a 'probably' or 'might'.
It sets a precedent, you see. One that will be followed, and one that is adhered too. And one that others will know there will be consequences to if broken.

"They are blessed by the Daedra," or so Rowan thought. He wasn't taught much by Maegi, but he knew enough to make assumptions, "they are deities of the Wood," easier to say that than explaining the Melonii and everything he knew of them.
"They protect us."
Rowan looked up then as a chorus of caws rattled the skeletal fingertips of the trees.
The Blackfeather smirked, looking back to Zephyr.
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Sapphique

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#9
He nods as Rowan explains, though it doesn't make much more sense. Daedra? That isn't a word he's ever heard before. Actually, a few of them are unknowns. What are deities? And what are the Daedra? He has no way of knowing that Rowan hadn't intended to launch into the full explanation, but he wouldn't care anyway. If he's going to live here, he needs to know everything about the woods — including any weird shit attached to them.
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#10
The question...surprised him.
It never occurred to him that the Daedra may not exist outside the Woods. He just thought everyone let them quietly exist in their lives.

"Oh uh. Gods and Goddesses. They control the world and tell us what to do, and they help us stay safe."
They were pushed out of the woods because of them. And he assumed that was because Maegi was off her face all the time.

"The Daedra are particular gods and goddesses. I don't know the others. Sithis controls death, and Mephala controls, uh, the night I guess. Things that happen in darkness." He wished he'd badgered MAegi for better explanations, but since her 'revelation', he didn't think she'd be too happy to tell him.
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Sapphique

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#11
Religion isn't exactly Zephyr's forte, but he'd be lying if he said he isn't intrigued by it. Sithis and Mephala; interesting, appealing names, but they mean little right now — even with Rowan's explanations. Have you ever seen them? He asks next, still not quite grasping the concept. He's never really been taught in-depth about things like gods and goddesses. He only knows what's real, what's tangible, and what isn't — most of the time.
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#12
Seen them?
Did this dude even know what religion was?
Rowan would rather do this within the woodland, rather than on the bright fringes of it.
He stood, "walk with me."

He inhaled deeply as he turned, expecting the other to follow.
And he strode into the darkness.
"The Daedra are not seen, bu heard and felt. Only by some. I feel them, but they do not speak to me. They leave signs, yes, but that is all you see."
He knew what the next question would likely be, so answered it now.
"Signs such as taking offerings from the Altar, or a dead crow near where you sleep. Good and bad." And they could always be related to what you have done.

He looked to the newcomer, wondering if he had more questions now.
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Sapphique

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#13
He takes the request quietly, following Rowan into the woods with watchful eyes. He takes in everything, committing it to memory as they plunge into the shadowy woods. He listens, too, though the words disturb him more deeply than he could ever voice. Rowan speaks of all the things he'd grown up fearing; of hearing and feeling things you can't see, of vague omens and indirect interactions. He shivers imperceptibly, to think that perhaps his own experiences had been the Daedra.
But if it was, does that mean his fear had been misplaced? Curiosity bleeds into his emotions, seeping in at the edges of his thoughts. What do you have to do to hear them? Is it random? He finds himself asking after a line of thought he never thought he'd pursue. Inviting the hallucinations — that's a new one. Yet, the thought is almost irresistibly intriguing.
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#14
Zephyr seemed deadpan.
Gazing around as if undisturbed.
But no matter how he looked, he couldn't stop the combination of subconscious things his body did when it thought it was in danger: increased body temperature, increased heart rate, the way his eyes picked up more details.
The air tremored with trepidation. Perhaps they were actually being watched, not Zephyr's nervousness of entering a deep, dark, haunted wood with a stranger.

He shrugged casually, "I don't hear them unless I go near the tree."
He paused to give the other a side-eye, "it makes you closer to the Daedra, it is graced with their power."
Rowan doesn't know why he wasn't spoken to. Maybe he was unfavoured by the Daedra. It might simply be because he didn't trust Maegi too well -- or maybe she asked for him not to hear. The events earlier...still unnerved him. To know that they were chanting in her head, hating her. Making her hate herself. He swallowed.
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Sapphique

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#15
There's something oddly intimate about the moment, something that makes him edge a little closer to Rowan as they walk, until their fur mingles slightly with each step. The explanation sends another faint shiver through him, one that the leader of the dark woods can likely feel this time, close as he lingers. Can we go there? He asks quietly, ignoring his own nervousness at the suggestion. He suddenly needs to know where this road leads.
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#16
Rowan decided that the woods were something that brought fear to people.
For most, it was mostly just unnerving - the unknown being the biggest issue.
But for some, it was something to avoid completely.

But not for Zephyr, of course.
Though, there was something..up.
Perhaps the Daerea spoke to him?

"We can..." he didn't like the tree. The images it gave him were...unpleasant. Sinister even. Traumatic.
"I can't control what you see though, and it might last for a while."
He looked over to him. Assessing if he should show him.  Should expose him to the Daedra.
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#17
Somehow, Rowan's apprehension eases his own, makes him feel more normal and less... horribly out of place. The concern (or, what Zephyr interprets as concern) is even a little touching. I'll be okay, He reassures him. I... have some experience with stuff like that. I know how to take care of myself. Limited, half-remembered experience — but it counts.
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#18
Rowan nodded.
Zephyr seemed to let a breath from him.
Rowan smiled softly.

He steered them in the direction of the tree.
It wasn't far into the territory.
"Do you think the Daedra speak to you?"
Rowan couldn't comment on what he should see really. He didn't know what it was like without the effects of the tree.

Soon enough, a clearing was apparent ahead through the thinning of trees.
To give way to the one that infected them all.
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#19
The question is expected, but Zephyr still finds himself pausing over the answer. He isn't quite sure, and he doesn't know whether he wants to share that with Rowan. But in the end, he decides honesty is the best policy with his future co-leader. I'm not sure, He admits, continuing with a casual indifference akin to discussing the weather. When I was a child, I heard things I couldn't see. Felt things. It left me, eventually. Maybe it was something else — or maybe it was the Daedra. There's a clearing ahead, and he has a feeling this is the place they're looking for. I guess I'll find out soon.
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#20
Well, that was something they had in common.
Neither knew. And both may find out.

Zephyr had felt more than Rowan. And it seemed the Daedra reached their fingers far away from the borders of Blackfeather.
Perhaps to all of the Teekons. Beyond even.
It was curious. Was Blackfeather not the centre of their power? But it was where Meldresi was buried. Was there one more powerful? The corpse of Mephala herself?
Rowan will never know.

"They probably just got bored when you didn't understand," he chuckled.
Stopping at the edge of the clearing.
He didn't want to see Zephyr begin to be tormented. He could stop that. Stop him being Maegi.

"It may take a little while for them to reach you, but if you need help, just lay down. I'll get you."
There was no point screaming or crying. All you could do was run, or ask for help.
Rowan would watch over him with care. He wouldn't let him get sucked under by the torment he may endure.
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Sapphique

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#21
So this is the place. He halts when Rowan does, skin suddenly crawling, limbs stiff. He almost considers backing out — but he knows he can't. There's a potential for closure here that he never thought he'd get, and possibly even more; a whole new side to life that he'd never known, simply because he'd been too frightened to understand it. He glances to Rowan, reassured by his words, and steps into the clearing. It's immediately obvious that the draping tree at the center dominates this area, oozing a toxic aura into the air around it that drives all else away. Somehow, it draws him closer.
The forest starts to darken around him as he passes under the willow's grasping tendrils, closing in around him. He sucks in a breath. Shadows press tightly all around him, pressure against his back, his chest, his throat, his legs. His heart starts to race —
And then the whispers start. Unintelligible, myriad snippets of soft words, so many and so fast that he can't keep up with them. He hears his name, once, and then it all becomes too much for him. He lets his legs collapse underneath him, thinking of Rowan, hoping he'll keep his promise.
He can't handle this.

Zephyr, you've come...

NO. His head dips slightly, eyes squeezing shut as if that might make a difference. It doesn't; all he sees with his eyes open is darkness anyway.

We have been waiting.

No no no no no no no —
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#22
For a hot minute, Rowan thought he was going to be ok.
That the Daedra would play nice with the uncertain newcomer.
But of course not.

The other walked with such calmness through the willow's fingers. The drapes falling over their back.
A few more minutes. A few more.
Then, he saw it. The trembling, the fear. His tail tucked and Rowan was already entering the clearing.
"Forgive me Mephala, but I don't want Zephyr to be scared of you."
A good enough reason, really. Otherwise, she wouldn't be able to talk to him. Rowan would provide an offering later.
"Hey, it's Rowan. You're ok, you're safe. I've got you"

Zephyr crumbled like a fawn trying to stand for the first time, head curling in. Trying to block out the voices and visions, most likely.
As Rowan passed under the tendrils, he inhaled a cloud of spores brushed into the air by Zephyr. Rowan didn't know that was the cause of the hallucinations, but he knew the risks of entering the Grove.
He pressed his nose to the other's back, firm but careful. Moving deliberately up to their scruff so Rowan could take hold and start to pull them away from the Daedra.
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Sapphique

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#23
He doesn't know how long he stays curled up before Rowan appears at his side. Seconds, really, but it feels like hours. The touch startles him slightly, but he stays completely still, tensing and then relaxing as the other boy grasps his scruff. Zephyr doesn't hear anything he says, but he recognizes the scent, and that's enough. He tries to move, but his limbs refuse to work, so he simply lets Rowan pull him — likely not a difficult task, given Zephyr's diminutive stature. His mind starts to clear, very slowly, the moment he's out of the tree's reach — but not completely. The whispers linger, though his vision starts to return to him in patches. I — I hear them, He manages, his own voice barely above a whisper, and reaches for Rowan, seeking to bury his face in his fur. It won't make the voices stop, but the contact is comforting.
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#24
Zephyr seemed to try.
Seemed to realise something that was solid and safe was touching him, rather than something ungodly.
He pulled with no resistance.
He didn't realise how small the other was until now. As he could easily drag the body across the ground, he felt a bit unceremonious. Like he should lift him, but that would be worse.

Rowan pulled Zephyr well away from the clearing. Making sure he was safe.
He set them down gently, holding his head close still. He felt bad, but only a little.
"I know," he spoke softly. He might hear them more here.
"They can't hurt you." He laid down before Zephyr, letting his press his nose to his emerging winter coat.

He gently licked the others paws, hoping it was a comforting touch.
Mother used to do it so, why not.
"They'll stop soon."
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Sapphique

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#25
Rowan's comforting words barely reach him, but the touch registers fully, at least. He relaxes, slowly, as the whispers start to fade. It's awhile before he feels comfortable enough to move. When he finally does, he presses a brief kiss to Rowan's cheek, unable to fight the compulsion but unwilling to explain himself. So he simply acts like nothing bad had happened at all. He mentions, in a few words, the whispers — and then he moves on quickly, turning his focus to the group he still needs to retrieve. And that's about where it ends.
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