Dragoncrest Cliffs Coffee Shop Playlist
Private  November 20, 2020, 02:41 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
@Kaertok Keeping this vague because I have a lot of in progress threads!

After three days of scouting Njord returned home to Dragoncrest. Teekon was a much larger expanses than the islander could ever imagine, and he wondered how far inland the native wolves resided. Though he had stuck close to the coast, Sunspire’s tall mountains watched him like sentinels from above the treetops.

The islander followed the same pass Erzulie had led him up for the first time, snaking his way along the rising cliffs from the Sound, into the forested rise of Dragoncrest’s heart. He stopped for a moment, shaking out his paws and doing a slinky downward-dog stretch. Njord shook the salt from his pelt and took a moment to roll around in the frosty, dead grass to cover himself in Rusalka’s scent. Ahhh it felt so good to be home!
November 20, 2020, 03:24 PM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
His brief foray into the wilds had not brought back anything useful. Raleska appeared to be avoiding either him or Rusalka as a whole. Which one, he wasn't sure, but he told himself it was Rusalka as a whole. She was ashamed that she had lost the child, and yet he held his stance that she had nothing to be ashamed of. Children were fickle creatures. Kaertok knew this from keeping watch over his younger siblings. Often times, they were stupid, foolish children. His own brood had shown him that much. Maybe as they got older they wisened up, but Kaertok was not going to hold his breath for that.

A rustling sound caught Kaertok's attention, and he looked over to find one of the newer recruits sprawling around and making himself comfortable. Not a terrible thing, although he wondered if the red-tailed wolf's energy could be more useful somewhere else. "Joyful frolicking in the grass" wasn't really Kaertok's style, and he gently scoffed at himself doing anything of the sort.

Kaertok approached him, his own tail and head held proudly. No matter where this male stood in their ranks, it certainly could not be above Kaertok, seeing as he was a newcomer.

You are new, Kaertok said. My name is Kaertok Tartok. What brings you to Rusalka?
November 20, 2020, 08:49 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
Njord was in the middle of doing the wiggle-worm on his back when a packmate caught him being oh so childish. The islander stood up abruptly, strands of dead grass caught in his fur, and addressed his packmate. "Aye, I am," he replied with a sheepish grin. Njord shook his coat, embarrassed to have been caught red-handed goofing off by his cohort.

Njord's posture straightened when he realized who he was talking to. The other male was, well, a man. Something the seafarer didn't consider himself to be (yet)... and not by choice. His Grandfather had it. His brother had it. A certain je ne sais quois that separated real men from the boys. He could never quite put a finger on what they had that Njord lacked... a predatorial stare? A burly figure? His blue eyes looked away for a moment, signaling his lower rank to the other male but also feeling quite small.

Kaertok Tartok. Geez, even the name sounded impressive! Something bubbled inside of the islander. All of a sudden, he felt the need to extinguish these deprecating thoughts and stave his place in Rusalka. This was a fresh start! He wasn't supposed to feel all those old feelings here.

His posture straightened a bit, studying Kaertok. Maybe if he could act more like him... "I met Erzulie on the Moors not long ago. I left my family's pack and I've been looking for a home for the winter. She said Rusalka needed hunters," he explained. "My name's Njord," he paused. He should add his last name, too... like Kaertok. "Sveijarn. Corten," he stumbeled. "Njord Sveijarn-Corten."
November 21, 2020, 09:54 AM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
Kaertok was aware of the effect he had on others, especially young males. It was a Tartok trait, he believed, to hold an air about him where he went. Anybody who had earned the Tartok name had that same presence wherever they went. It came with the territory, the training, and the general "no bullshit" way of his family. Being born into it had likely solidified it in Kaertok. He believed that Inukun and Piguktuk had it in them as well, even if it wasn't quite showing yet. Atuaserk simply would not get there, as far as Kaertok was concerned.

Njord introduced himself, though not before straightening himself out. Kaertok did not take it as a challenge, considering the younger wolf had first followed proper protocol. There were two things about what Njord said that interested Kaertok. One was that he mentioned looking for a home for the winter and the other was that Rusalka needed hunters. With the way he phrased it, Kaertok wondered if he meant to only stay the winter. Njord also did not say that he was a hunter, even though it was implied.

You are a hunter then? Kaertok asked. And planning only on staying for the winter?

Personally, Kaertok did not mind passers-through. He had been one himself plenty of times before. It was the main reason he had joined Legion last winter. Convenience was a perfectly good reason to get involved with one pack or another, although Kaertok did want to know whether or not he needed to waste time on getting to know Njord if he was only here temporarily.
November 21, 2020, 04:24 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
Kaertok was like un unsinkable ship among rough seas. His tone was steady and deep, even as he questioned the young firebrand. “Kind of,” Njord said with a duck of his head. His straightened posture broke down a bit. He wasn’t afraid to admit his shortcomings, unlike his brother who was saturated with ego and pride (so Njord thought). Yet, at the same time, he hated to appear weak or useless in front of Kaertok.

“I’m from an island,” he started to explain. “The prey here, on the mainland, are strange to me. When I came ashore I could not hunt them by myself.” The deer and elk were far too large to be taken down by and the small, fast game like quickly outwitted the youngster. Even on Meares island, they hunted seals in teams. As a loner in a strange new land, Njord didn’t have a good chance to last through the winter on his own. Maybe he should have paid better attention to the hunting lessons given by his grandfather, the patriarch. “I want to be better,” Njord said, rallying. I want to be better than my brother, was what he really meant.

Kaertok also challenged his longevity with Rusalka. “That’s what I was thinking of, at first,” the islander pondered. “But then I saw the cliffs and hunted with Erzulie and… this could really be home for me. I swore myself to our leaders,” his voice lowered here. They saw me as my own man, he thought to himself, out of the shadow of my family. “I like it here,” he added, “its what I wanted. What I was looking for.”

He coughed, not wanting to appear to feely or sentimental. “What about you?” he asked, “have you been with Rosalyn and Erzulie a long time?” Njord was slowly putting the pieces of Rusalka together.
November 21, 2020, 04:43 PM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
An island, just like Grim. At least he did not say that his home sank into the ocean, or Kaertok might have considered them siblings. Njord mentioned the prey being different, and Kaertok flicked an ear forward. He had grown up hunting mainly large game, and he imagined that Rusalka would travel a bit further inland if they were to hunt. Kaertok was a decent hunter himself, although it was not his main focus. Fighting and scouting were more his thing.

So long as Njord intended to improve on his skills, Kaertok was satisfied. If he only complained about things being different here, Kaertok did not think he would last long. It was a satisfactory answer for Kaertok, and it lent him some insight into Njord and his relationship with their leaders.

The question was turned back on him, and Kaertok shook his head.

Not long, maybe a month. I have known Raleska for much longer. She was the one he was truly loyal to. Where her loyalties lay, so did his. Anytime he had parted ways with her, things grew stale for the Tartok. She was who he was meant to be with, through thick or thin.

He did not think that Rosalyn or Erzulie knew that he had been a former member. That time had been tumultuous for plenty of reasons. It seemed wise to keep that information to himself, even though Raleska knew. Perhaps she wanted him to stay, and that was why she had not brought it up with Rosalyn and Erzulie.
November 21, 2020, 10:46 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
Njord was a little surprised that Kaertok was a relatively new face in Rusalka (at least, the current iteration). The man showed his rank in his posture and carried an assuredness usually seen in long-standing members. “Oh,” Njord chirped at this revelation. You didn’t have to be a founding member to consider yourself worthwhile. Self worth was the most important trait of all.

It seemed his loyalty laid in the hands of this Raleska… someone who Njord had not met. Kaertok did not extrapolate on their relationship. Who were they? Family? Friend? Lover? The name sounded feminine, but Njord couldn’t be sure. “Who’s that?” he asked with a raise of his dotted brow. Had Kaertok joined Rusalka just for them?
November 22, 2020, 07:38 PM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
It seemed like a preposterous question to Kaertok, especially when he wasn't really sure how to answer. "Who is Raleska?" was a very large question, and Kaertok thought on it for a moment.

She is daughter to Rosalyn and Erzulie, he said. "And Caiaphas," he thought, but that woman was long gone. Kaertok was fairly certain she was dead.

To Kaertok, Raleska was much more, but he did not wish to reveal that to Njord. They had only just met, and besides, what good would that do either of them? No, getting to know pack mates was done best with work, and Kaertok felt his feet itching already.

Perhaps he could teach Njord to hunt on land. Kaertok wasn't primarily a hunter by any means, but he knew the basics, especially when it came to tracking down their main source of food: ungulates.

I am going to search for deer trails. I can teach you what I know, and practice is better than talking.

While deer would likely not be this close to the coast, there were parts of the territory where they might wander. Kaertok did not wish to sit idly and gossip about who knew who. He found work to be much more enjoyable, and since Njord had already mentioned wanting to be better, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
November 23, 2020, 09:02 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
“Gotcha,” Njord affirmed with a squint of his eyes and a curl of his lips. Did Kaertok have the hots for Raleska? She was princess of Rusalka, apparently, and a that made her a V.I.P. He made a mental note to try and meet her soon to better understand how their lives were tied together.

Suddenly, another though struck Njord. Wait, their daughter? he thought. How could that be? Erzulie and Rosalyn were both female. A stumped look passed over the islander’s expression momentarily, figuring out that there must have been a third party involved who wasn’t part of the picture. Wait… was Kaertok Raleska’s dad?!

In his mind, the gears were grinding, but Kaertok had already moved onto a different topic. Like any stoic man of few words, he didn’t care for small-talk. An invitation to track deer brought the light back to Njord confused countenance. “Yes!” he said excitedly, and then checked his composure, “Yes.” A pause. “Please.”

Njord moved to Kaertok’s flank, ready to follow the Tartok, loosening up his shoulders. “I look forward to learning from you,” he added with a small smile, ready to learn what Kaertok had to offer.
November 24, 2020, 10:49 AM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
If Kaertok noted the younger male's confused expression, he made no indication of it. The Tartok wolf was already thinking about where they might go to find some trails, and it would help him get the lay of the land. Scouting was, after all, one of his main skills, and he considered knowing where the herds were to be part of that occupation.

He moved from the cliffs (which I still don't have a good idea of in my head), trekking toward the river, but avoiding The Tangle. It would be harder to make good time in that forest, and Kaertok had no interest in spending his entire day wading through the thicket of that place. He certainly didn't want to go to the east, either. The small patch of land between Sagtannet and the cliffs was likely to be infested with those wolves who sought to rid the cliffs of their new residents.

Kaertok stopped when he spotted indentations in the snow, their shape unique to some of the hoofed creatures that inhabited the wilds. He motioned for Njord to come closer, to look.

They have been here recently, he said. Catch the scent.
November 24, 2020, 03:45 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
Njord followed Kaertok as they moved at a good clip across Dragoncrest, away from the cliffs. Though strong, the Tartok man moved with exceptional agility and Njord’s sealegs struggled to keep up over the indigenous terrain. He took note of the wind direction and the paths his superior took. Watching. Learning. Imitating. Using his eyes, ears, and nose.

Kaertok avoided the Tangle, and it made Njord understand that big game would not be catchable among such dense and thicketed wilderness. After a while he slowed, nose pointing towards a fresh trail in the snow. Njord’s sides heaved as his hot breath turned to mist in the air, a greenhorn in Teekon’s eyes. He slurped up his drawling tongue to sniff the prints. The smell was so strong that it almost made his mouth water in hunger and he then understood the meaning of “fresh tracks.”

Careful not to disturb the trail, Njord sniffed around. His nose was like a metal detector: hot, warm, cold, hot hot hot! He secured the direction they would have headed and looked that way, ears orbiting to listen for any sound. “How did you know they’d come this way?” he whispered, not quite sure the traveling speed of deer. Would they be close? “Do we follow?” he asked the experienced man.
November 24, 2020, 08:23 PM
Kaertok
Sapphique
Beryl
Tags purely for reference! I think we can wrap up here. :)

Kaertok watched with some amusement as Njord caught the trail. He learned quickly, and Kaertok found himself missing Inukun (@Haunt) in that moment. His amusement vanished, replaced with a feeling of emptiness. It would be wrong to say that he regretted leaving Legion, but he did miss them. He missed teaching them, watching them learn. He would take this substitute, though.

The Tartok looked on with his fiery red-orange gaze, watching as Njord's instinct took over. It was a good thing to see that, despite admitting to not be the best, he clearly had potential. As far as Kaertok was concerned, he'd passed the test.

I didn't, Kaertok said. But they do have habits. You will learn them the more you track them. We will not follow this one today, but we know where to find them tomorrow. Two of us alone cannot catch anything that large. We need the strength of the pack.

Again, that pang of emptiness gnawing at him, though Kaertok retained his steely expression.

We should return to Rusalka and let the issumatars know of our find.

@Rosalyn and @Erzulie would be pleased to know that Njord was learning. Perhaps they would also be pleased to know that Kaertok was teaching. He knew how important they were to Raleska (and Raleska to them), so anything he could do to impress them would be beneficial to his relationship with Raleska. He had come all this way, and sacrificed much, to be alongside her. Kaertok did not wish to waste that.
November 24, 2020, 09:19 PM
Njord
Sapphique
Pearl
If Njord could have read Kaertok’s mind he would have crowed with joy. To think that someone saw him as having potential… well, that was a unique experience for the islander. He had potential, yes, but only in the right environment to facilitate learning. Kaertok was the mentor he needed.

He listened closely and nodded to acknowledge his comprehension. He had watched his pack take down sealions before, but he had never seen the thrilling race of wolves in number chasing hooved quarry. He couldn’t wait to be apart of a hunt!

“Okay,” he chirped with one last (longing) glance towards the direction of the herd. He turned away to follow Kaertok back towards the heart of Rusalka where he would tell, with Kaertok, the location of the herd to @Rosalyn and @Erzulie .