Lone Star Mountain kids on whizz
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#1
All Welcome 
Tracking wolves was really no different than stalking prey. Haunt spent quite a bit of time afield lately, determined to locate @Arbiter, @Royal and the rest of Legion. Today's search led her west, toward the mountains. When she realized she recognized her surroundings, it gave Haunt pause as she reflected on that fateful day when she and @Vex had been hunting for their father together. It was ironic in a lot of ways, she noted, even as she continued her solitary search for their mother and sister.

When dusk fell like a thick woolen cloak, Haunt decided to bed down for the night. As she looked for someplace to settle, she unexpectedly came across a pale figure curled up on the rocky ground. She went rigid and squinted, studying the sleeping wolf from a safe distance. Haunt deliberated between waking her or moving on without disturbing her rest.

Before she could arrive at a decision, the she-wolf roused and blinked sleepily at her. "Um," the stranger said groggily, pushing upright, "hello."

"Sorry," Haunt quickly said, "I didn't mean to creep on you. I was just looking for somewhere to spend the night when I stumbled across you there..." As she spoke, she slowly padded closer. "I'm Haunt."

"It's okay. My name's Meerkat," the sandy yearling replied. "What—" Her voice was cut off by an intense yawn. "Sorry. What brings you here?"

"I'm looking for my mother and sister," Haunt explained, diving into a quick rundown of the situation and including descriptions for each.

"Sorry, I haven't seen them," Meerkat said, shaking her head apologetically.

"What're you doing out here by yourself?" Haunt couldn't help but wonder, finally taking a seat.

"I'm on my way home from a trip to Sapphique," Meerkat shared.

"Really? That's where I live," Haunt interjected, then apologized and waved a paw for Meerkat to continue.

"Really?" Meerkat echoed. "I was actually trying to visit my dad there but it turns out he died a couple months ago. Um, did you know him, by any chance? His name was Kaertok."

"...uh..."

Eventually, Haunt managed to find her voice and articulate again. She and Meerkat stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, talking about their connections. Much as she hated talking about Kaertok, even indirectly, it was a little incredible to find out she had a half-sister. And though she got a strongly melancholic vibe from Meerkat at first, the discovery seemed to uplift her too.

They slept side by side, then Meerkat said she needed to get home to Firefly Glen. Haunt nodded farewell, lip twitching at the invitation to visit sometime. "Definitely," she said quietly as her older sister disappeared, Haunt pivoting to resume her search.
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#2
Things had become clearer in a way. It made some choices easier, and others harder, but being herself meant that regardless of difficulty, she made a choice and she did so decisively. It wouldn't necessarily make people happy, but that was the way things went -- the right choice was not always the one that brought smiles. She had the safety of the majority to think of, that and the future. 

She was some ways off from where Haunt was, and not taking a route that would have taken her by if Haunt had kept static. Her path was headed towards Sapphique. Probably her last time by there -- they weren't really her allies and she had other plans. Sure, things could change, but it was more to pass information along than anything. It was the way the world worked. She walked on, through the lowlands and heading north.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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The morning sun peeked out from an otherwise overcast sky and Haunt paused to admire the tepid sunlight chasing away the craggy shadows. While she stood there, she decided it was time to send up a howl. She shut her eyes, pointed her pale muzzle toward the sky and let one loose. By the time her eyes reopened, the sun had slipped behind a cloud again.
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The voice was familiar enough. She stopped, ears tilting for the source. She had the length of it to try to pinpoint where her daughter was -- a small spike of annoyance that it seemed even now that she couldn't stay home and safe. As the howl started to fade, Arbiter raised her head to reply, calling back across the landscape. 

Arbiter had wanted to speak to her daughter, but she hadn't expected to run into her here. Would this save time? Probably not unless Vex was with her. Arbiter might not exactly be a picture of a good person, but she had her own standards and morals to work by. She walked slowly in that direction, then paused, looking for motion. It would be easy enough for Haunt to blend in with the snow unless she'd gone and gotten a dye job somehow. Arbiter herself would be easy to spot, out in the open, her few dark markings against the snow. It would be good to see her, even if the girl might not like what she had to say.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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#5
The air grew chillier for the sun's absence but Haunt paid it no mind past an idle observation. She remained rooted to the spot, listening, just in case. She didn't really expect anything. Arbiter hadn't returned any of her previous calls, so she must be out of earshot.

Her heart leaped into her throat when a familiar howl rose up in response. Haunt immediately pinpointed the origin and raced in that direction. It wasn't too long before she saw Arbiter in the distance, walking slowly. Haunt scrambled toward her mother, stumbling on some loose scree and nearly eating shit before recovering at the last second and closing the distance.

"Mom!" Haunt said, immediately bumping her snout beneath Arbiter's muzzle. Despite their somewhat strained history of late, she was immensely glad to see her dam, and in good shape. "Vex and I went to visit at the bypass and—" And, well, the rest was obvious. "I'm so glad I found you."
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She was glad to see her, and in one piece. But of course she moved with her usual patience and lack of rush. There were no emergencies any more. Decisions made. Of course she did give her daughter a visual once-over, a couple of wags of her tail in greeting with a brief touch of her nose to Haunt's forehead.

Arbiter filled in blanks, with a sense of derision at it all, And a man who had wanted to barter for land instead decided to show his scum-like colors and how little his words were actually wroth while I was searching for you. Before it had taken some effort to finally get him to suggest a trade that would have been to our benefit and worth the trouble, I'd have been happy to accept if he'd bothered. But no. And no matter what way things cut, the thing was that everyone had done the forgivable and done some fairly unforgivable things -- broken their word or their loyalty. And apparently some of the wolves of ours that had professed either fighting skill or a desire to protect their home ran whimpering. A scoff, It's bad when your brother is the only one with a spine. Warlock wasn't known for being the most brave nor bold.

She shook her head, moving on, Are you still doing well, then? And I was going to find you and Vex. Is he near? A quick scan of the surroundings suggested probably no. She didn't want to repeat things twice, nor did she think it ideal to just let her son hear things secondhand.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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Haunt listened raptly to Arbiter's every word, though she couldn't say she fully understood what had transpired. It seemed her mother had a history with the man who'd greeted herself and Vex at the bypass's borders. She'd been thinking of trading their land? Haunt didn't fail to notice the mention of Arbiter's search for her and how it evidently played a critical role in how this had played out in the end. She refused to feel guilty for that, though she understood how betrayed her mother just feel by all this, particularly her own subordinates' inability to defend their home in her stead.

"Warlock?" she wondered aloud, hoping he was okay. "Yes, I'm fine. No, he isn't with me right now." Haunt naturally wondered what Arbiter and what was left of Legion would do next. She could suggest they consider Sapphique, though Haunt coveted her independence and freedom there. Besides, she could not imagine Arbiter submitting to anyone, not even Erzulie and Rosalyn, so that begged the question, "Where are you living now?"
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She nodded. Yep, Warlock. Of all wolves, he'd been the one with a spine. Go figure. But of course, her daughter had her own questions. It was relevant to what Arbiter was planning to say anyway. We had been staying on Sunspire -- it was the first place I lived here in these wilds, but I don't think we'll be staying there. I've run into too many wolves who can't be trusted for one reason or another. I can't rebuild a pack with more like them if that's all I'm finding. Some wolves she was okay with shaping into something better -- but others? Not a damn point. 

I was heading to find you both to tell you about it. She watched for Haunt's thoughts, but did add with a slight tilt of her head, Should we continue towards the coast to find Vex? Though he could honestly be wherever. Usually he was practically in Haunt's footsteps but perhaps things had changed.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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#9
Haunt's brow furrowed thoughtfully as Arbiter relayed the news. She might've asked about the location of Sunspire, except it didn't matter if she wasn't going to stay there, did it? "Then where will you go?" she pressed.

But it seemed her mother wanted Vex to be present for this conversation. "Ah, sure," Haunt replied, wondering if Arbiter would share anything else as they made the trip. "I think he's at home," she added, meaning Sapphique, now wondering if Arbiter meant to try to get either one of them to join her efforts.

She didn't ask. Haunt turned and began picking her way through the foothills in the direction of the coastline. En route, she didn't want for Arbiter to speak, asking, "Did you know that—Kaertok had other children?" His name came out only haltingly, accompanied by a twist of her features. But then her expression cleared as her yellow eyes lingered inquisitively on her dam's face.
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#10
Continue south, maybe southeast. Wherever seems to have a different set of wolves around. Ones that were built of sterner stuff, less disappointing stuff. She didn't want a pack of Zanes. Or Seabreezes. Or any number of others that had been spectacular failures at having a spine or logical cell in their body. Royal may end up coming to join you, in her own time. If she does, she can tell you where we settle, but it will be significantly farther away at this point. Which is why I want to see you both before leaving. But you're welcome to come with us if you choose. But Arbiter was at a point where she didn't feel that she wanted to continue to dawdle around a land that didn't seem to fit her any more. There were points where fighting against the tide was ill-advised. It was better to move on. Haunt and Vex should be large enough to defend themselves now -- at least if Sapphique had done anything to prepare them for what actually may be out there -- so that at least was less of an issue. 

But about Kaertok? Why him again? He'd ceased to be at all on Arbiter's mind -- some speck of dust to brush away. Mm. I think he mentioned he may have had some in the past. Or so was her vague memory -- or player's memory at least. Either way, it was pretty clear that they were certainly not from the same year as her own children. And so it was worth a shrug and that was all. Past years weren't particularly important.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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The news about Royal made Haunt do a double take. She didn't say anything, though her first thought was that Vex might not like that. As for her, Haunt wouldn't mind so much, as long as their sister knew her place. Before Haunt could dwell further, she caught Arbiter's mention of distance and frowned. They both probably already knew hers (and Vex's) answer to that invitation, though Haunt actually had the presence of mind to appreciate it.

Figuring they would have plenty of time to cement their plans when they caught up with Vex, Haunt did not say anything about it yet. Her mother's response to the news about Kaertok also distracted her. Haunt abruptly stopped in her tracks, cringing inwardly as she realized what she would have to tell her own mother.

"I met my half-sister last night. She's only a little older than I am," Haunt said quietly. She had learned so much more from Meerkat, though she doubted Arbiter wanted to hear any of it. She liked the girl well enough and even intended to visit with her again sometime. But this just confirmed that Kaertok wasn't just a deserter but also a liar and a cheat.
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Haunt stopped, and Arbiter did a step beyond, a pause, questioning tilt of her ear as Haunt spoke up. So, Kaertok made a habit of abandoning his children? Typical. She really should have found some lone that she'd never see again -- at least then she'd know not to rely on them. Kaertok was a mistake in a few ways. He was probably better off rotting somewhere. In the end, she scoffed. A moment of silence and she said simply to start, He should not have been your father. It was to the point, and she didn't care much if Haunt agreed or disagreed. It was a fact, perhaps a brutal one, but such was reality.

So what had he said to whoever had the other litter? Had he said anything? And a better question: were there more? If I had known he'd abandoned another, he wouldn't have been. There were two options for what might have happened, but in the end, neither of them involved Kaertok being a present father -- he would have been one of the two: either present or a father. It should have been Terance, he was a far better man than any of the ones I've met since.  In many ways. It was surprising how hard it was to find someone who could even remotely stand up to his memory. She wasn't even asking for much -- she wasn't asking for the impossible -- but apparently it was far too much for the wilds here to provide a second time. And there was nothing she could have done to have stopped him from dying in the first place. Kaertok revealed himself to be a lesser creature in the end. And thus completely unworthy of any more thought than she might give a snail or a porcupine or something.
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC
Loner

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#13
Since Vex left the game, want to fade toward a meetup behind the scenes? :)

Arbiter had several acerbic things to say in response. Haunt listened with an impassive look on her face. She didn't mind her mother saying so. In fact, she felt a little bad for her and hated to be the bearer of bad news. Surely Arbiter didn't want her pity though.

"Yes," she concurred simply with, well, all of it. She hesitated briefly before moving to bump her nose against her dam's shoulder. "He didn't deserve you, or us. Come on, let's go see Vex." She offered a wan smile, then picked up her feet to begin moving toward their distant destination.
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Sounds good to me! Gonna retag @Vex just to say he can know all the above stuffs, and also say if either sib ends up visiting out of game, feel free to contact me for possible deets!

Her own slight smile was one of agreement. It was good that they had ended up on on the same side of the "Kaertok isn't special" discussion. After this, it was unlikely Arbiter was going to give him an iota of her thoughts again. It was pointless. Indeed. No point having even more to repeat. Apparently her emotion before was fleeting -- again, not worth spending time fretting about a dead guy who wasn't worth a pile of river rocks. Time to pick up the pace and quit dawdling along.

In the end, it wasn't how she had wanted things to be. But would things ever have cooperated? Unlikely. That was the way it was. At the very least she'd make sure her youngest son would know where to find her as well. It would have been nice if they were coming with her, but she would make no such assumption. Whatever the future held, Arbiter was sure that her own was brighter ahead.

Or would, if she ever was that positive, this was Arbiter we're talking about here...
Arbiter is often not a nice person and will think mean things without acting on them.
If you aren't sure whether her snarky thoughts might be readable, just ask!  IC≠OOC