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Author Topic: Cynocephaly (1235)  (Read 1066 times)

Offline Myroria

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Cynocephaly (1235)
« on: December 06, 2014, 10:41:24 PM »
Novrith, Maeror Province, Ozia
1235

"Name please?" asked a man sitting at a table. The table was a cheap one, stood up haphazardly on the Novrith pier. The questioner was a ruddy-faced man, likely with Jutensan blood, and sat in front of an open book resting on the table.

"Arvyn Hemrith;" came the reply. A pale man, either of full Myrorian blood or just not used to the sun, he wore a torn tunic and long, scraggly dark hair framed his face.

"Do you read or did you just come because you liked the poster?"

"The second."

The man sitting at the book cleared his throat and held up a broadsheet.

"Andrano's Plantation; a new settlement on the western island of Hlaresoth! Looking for colonists, preferably able-bodied seamen!" A map was drawn on the broadsheet, showing the Myrorian mainland and the island of Hlaresoth to the west, one of the largest in the Cefnor Strait. A small dot on Hlaresoth's northwest coast marked the new settlement.

"Far away from the damned Listener and her Whispers," the ruddy-faced man continued. "A land for our people, or at least as close as we'll ever get."

"I would like to get on the ship, if that's all right." Arvyn said. The questioner raised his eyebrow at his peculiar manner.

"There's only so much space on the ship. What work can you do? Are you a seaman?"

"Not really. I worked on a fishing boat when I was younger."

"You from around here?"

"Nearby," Arvyn said.

"From where?"

"Nearby."

The man cleared his throat and scratched his neck, trying to make out what this man was doing here.

"Do you have anything to offer this expedition?"

"I can read."

"Why did you make me read this whole poster to you?"

"I don't know."

The ruddy-faced man sighed.

"Is there anything we should know about you?"

"I'm a man-sized wolf."

"Get the hell out of here."

"Wait!" Arvyn exclaimed. "I'm being serious."

"That's what worries me."

"I may not look like one," Arvyn conceded. "But I am."

"We don't need any crazies on our boat. You understand," the ruddy-faced man said, motioning for Arvyn to get up from his chair and let the next person in line sit down.

"I'll work for half what you pay anyone else!"

"Beat it, kid."

"I don't want to go back to the workhouse! Listen, I know how to navigate those moors. I grew up on Hlaresoth! I was sent to the mainland - to the workhouse - once my... condition manifested."

The ruddy-faced man sighed.

"You know how to read?"

"Yes!"

"Do you have any books?"

"I have three!" Arvyn said, lifting a package. "Your colony will have it's own library!"

"And you'll work for half the wages?"

"Yes!"

The ruddy-faced man sighed.

"Fine."



The first night after the ship departed from Novrith for Andrano's Plantation, Arvyn laid in his bunk, the hanging bed slowly drifting side to side. He reached into his satchel and took out a weathered red book. It almost fell open to the page he wanted to read, dog-eared and almost transparent from his fingers running over it endlessly. Written by a Hlaresoth nobleman years ago, it detailed what he saw after his ship blew west during a storm.

"the clouds parted and the fog rolled away. I saw a figure standing on the far shore. [...] The navigator mentioned we had been blown hundreds of miles west of Hlaresoth during the storm. Reaching for my spyglass, I put it to my eye. On the shore I saw a man, six feet tall, wearing the clothes of a fisherman. As I looked closer I saw he had the body of a man and stood on two legs like a man, but he had the head of a dog or a wolf."
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Gulliver

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Re: Cynocephaly (1235)
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2015, 05:11:22 AM »
The dark and frigid waters of the strait broke on the rocky shore in a steady, pounding rhythm. Their perennial fickleness was a matter of notoriety among local fishermen and today was no exception. The sheet of dull lead on the horizon promised inclement weather, and the same winds which were driving that sheet's advance on the coast were churning the waters below into an unusually choppy froth.

The hairs on Davn's mane stood up as an exceptionally biting gust of wind made landfall. Even the puffins look like they're on edge. Seated well away from the sea's reach on the beach's berm, he had been observing the small birds for some time. They had been flying in and out of the cliffs where they were nesting for the season in an agitated flurry of activity. Even at a distance their bright beaks made them easily visible. Wonder where they go when the season's over. When he'd asked as a child Brask had told him out to sea with a roll of the eyes. Akim had said across the strait with a warm smile. Father didn't have an answer and didn't care to find one. Most other people had agreed with Father.

"Daydreaming again?" A small shock went through Davn before recognition of the voice set in. He turned his head to find his brother Brask wearing a smirk. "You're supposed be catching the birds, not watching them," he continued with a kick to the oversized net which lay on the ground, unused. Davn frowned.

"I was just resting before climbing the bluff," replied a slightly flustered Davn as he grabbed the net and stood to his feet. "If you don't like it take the net and do it yourself." He jabbed the butt of the net at Brask, who pushed it aside with one hand while raising the other in a defensive gesture.

"Father's the one asking where you went, I'm just the messenger." Davn's mane stood up a second as a different sort of chill ran over him.

"Father? He's looking for me?"

"What did you expect being gone for so long?" Brask tilted his head and screwed up his eyes in scrutinity. "How long were out for this time?" Davn matched Brask's expression as he tried to remember. When he couldn't looked at the ground by his feet sheepishly.

"I'm not sure," he half-mumbled. His eyes came back up and drifted towards the looming storm front. It suddenly seemed much closer than it had been a moment ago. Brask's eyes followed.

"I don't think you'll make it in time now," said Brask. Davn could only sigh and nod glumly in agreement.

"I suppose you're right. Maybe I'll have better luck at the wrecking after the storm."

"Eh, don't get your hopes up too much. We'd need a wreck first and those don't come along every day."

"Yeah..." Davn's hand rose to his neck automatically. A worn bronze coin coated with brilliant blue-green patina hung there by a strip of goat leather which had been strung through a hole cast in its center. He began to turn it over and over in his fingers, feeling the patterns and writing engraved on it. He'd asked Akim what it said. Akim hadn't known. He hadn't needed to ask to know that Father and the rest weren't interested in the question. "Better not keep Father waiting longer."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Cynocephaly (1235)
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2015, 02:41:00 PM »
"Come on fools, I could climb that rigging faster myself!" the ship's captain yelled. A pernicious man with pernicious anemia, he walked with a cane and apparently felt that, since he had only a few years left to live, he had to get 70 years' worth of insults out now, while he could. He walked closer to the bow of the ship, continuing to observe the flurry of men climbing the taut rigging. Spotting the ship's ruddy-faced boatswain, also observing the action above him, he walked towards him.

"This is going to be a big 'un,"

"Should we drop anchor and wait it out?"

"And lose time? No!" the captain said. He shifted his weight and adjusted his cane. It looked liable to slip on the slippery deck at any moment - and it had many times before, sending the captain flat on his rear-end to much commotion from the senior crew and much laughter from the junior crew.

The boatswain nodded and looked away. The captain continued to observe the men clamoring on the rigging. His silent judging became quite public when he saw Hemrith, working on tying up the cog's only sail, lose his footing. He held onto the rigging with only his hands, his body hanging loosely below his arms. It looked like he was trying his damndest to get his feet back on the ropes again, but the sea mist was trying its damndest to stop him.

"Hemrith!" the captain screamed. He saw Arvyn look at him frantically. "You idiot! Put your feet back on the rigging!"

Arvyn opened his mouth to answer but his left hand lost its grip, and his right seconds after. Falling clear of the rigging, he fell onto the cog's deck. He landed on his back, and the wind left his air with a short bark. He yowled in pain, and the captain limped towards him.

"I have never worked with a seaman as awful as you, Hemrith! Have you ever stepped foot onto a ship before this job?"

Arvyn tried catching his breath, but for the most part his mouth only produced more barks on each exhale. When he finally was able to speak, he spent the time yelping in pain, instead of addressing the ship's captain.

The captain put his weight on the cane and used his good leg to kick Arvyn in the sides a few times, for good measure.

"Help him get to his bed," he finally said to the boatswain. "I want him ready to work again at four bells!"

The boatswain helped Arvyn on his feet with some difficulty and put the man's arm around his shoulder. "Come on," he said, not entirely untenderly.

Arvyn felt raindrops on his face and looked larboard. Through the thick mist and clouds, he thought for a moment he saw a distant land, and smiled.
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Gulliver

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Re: Cynocephaly (1235)
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2015, 06:10:18 AM »
By the time Davn and Brask had rounded the bluff, the winds were already blowing in the storm's vanguard in the form of a mist and drizzle. On the other side was the village they called home. It was a small settlement squeezed into an even smaller space between two cliff faces and the natural harbor they formed. The buildings were a haphazard collection of sunken plank walls and sod roofs which almost disappeared into the landscape. Outside of the first such home along the path, a familiar landmark which they'd both passed innumerable times was waiting for them.

At a distance it could have been mistaken for another of the guano encrusted rocks along the bluffs. As they drew closer, however, the blur of gray and white streaks resolved themselves into mass of stringy and tangled fur, though the odor still said otherwise. The unkempt thicket's owner was sitting on the worn log bench outside his home, propped up on simple, rough hewn cane. His perfect stillness complemented the illusion until he stirred at the sound of the brothers' approach.

"Is that two pairs of feet I hear?" Akim said with a cock of the head. His mouth parted in a slack smile that was more gum than tooth.

"Yes, Akim," replied Brask. Both he and Davn came to a halt in front of the old man and his bench. Out of habit, they both returned his smile, even though they knew well that Akim would never see them through his clouded eyes.

"Good, good," said Akim, nodding lazily. "You made better time than I thought, good to see you're not lollygagging. And you Davn, how many puffins did you snag". He sniffed the air curiously. "I don't smell anything." A knowing smile crept onto his face. "Slacking off again?" Davn confirmed Akim's suspicions by holding his tongue until Akim continued. "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me." A hacking laughter rose in the back of his throat before quickly turning into an alarming cough that sounded as if his lungs were attempting to liberate themselves from his torso.

"Akim! Are you okay?" Davn burst out in shock. Akim nodded and waved Davn away through the dying throes of his fit, punctuating each outburst with a thud of his cane. Unconvinced, Davn continued anyway. "Why are you still outside? You should get inside before you're soaked." Akim's waving grew more energetic as he found his voice again.

"Bah, you sound like my granddaughter! You're a sweet boy to worry but don't stick your muzzle where it doesn't belong. Just cause I'm old doesn't mean I'm any less healthy than either of you. Heh, speaking of which..." He dropped his voice and leaned in conspiratorially even though he'd already told what he was about to say to Davn and every other boy in the village who'd made the mistake of staying to long to chat. "She's around your age, not spoken for, my granddaughter that is. Maybe I can introduce you two, let you, heh, hit it off together." He finished with fleshy grin that amplified Davn's already severe discomfort. Brask smirked as his brother shifted and smiled awkwardly.

"Thank you Akim," he replied with as much sincerity as he could manufacture. "But I've already had the pleasure. And you know my father would never let us marry anyone in your clan." The statement earned the expected but less unsettling snort of derision from Akim.

"Do I look like I care what your father thinks? Not. One. Bit!" He emphasized each word with a strike of his cane against the bench. "They should've never made him village foreman, I don't know what they were thinking. A bit of power and he thinks he can tell me what to do. Well I've been here for 151 years, longer than anyone! I've known  your father since he was a babe and I can tell you he shit himself the same as anyone else once." Davn cringed at the unfiltered and loud criticism of his father, but Brask just shook his head.

"Last time you told that story you were 147," he said with a light chuckle.

"I've had a few birthdays since then," Akim snapped back.

"It was two days ago."

"There isn't any rule saying a man can't have more than one birthday in a year," retorted Akim. Brask shrugged.

"Never heard of one either I suppose."

"Dᴀᴠɴ!"

The shout broke louder than any thunder from the oncoming storm ever could. Brask's smile dried up instantly. Davn felt his heart drop and his stomach roll as he turned his head towards the man calling his name.

"Ugly" was the word everyone in the village used to describe Davn's father Garen. But never within earshot of him, because "frightening" was the other word that everyone used. The numerous duels and outright brawls in which he'd earned the reputation had left his muzzle visibly misshapen and scarred. That damage was such that one of his lower canines always stuck out in a display of perpetual aggression that matched his attitude. His left ear was crumpled, and a plethora of more scars riddled his face and chest. Garen, however, bore the deformities not with shame but with pride as trophies of battles fought and won. Davn knew the story behind at least six or seven of his father's scars now, having been regaled with their tales so many times. They also served as a warning to rivals with more courage than sense, as did the falchion he always wore at his side.

"F-f-father!" Davn managed to squeak out. He could see his father's displeasure in his purposeful gait as he strode up the path to them. It had been what Davn expected, but he'd hoped he wouldn't have to face it until he was back at home where his mother's presence would stave off the worst.

"Where have you been?" demanded Garen. His head turned towards Brask. "You as well. I need you both at the docks to prepare for the storm. Did you even catch any puffins?" He glared at where he had expected a bundle of birds in his son's hand. Davn's began to stammer out an excuse but Brask spoke first.

"It's not his fault, father, the puffins are all hunkered down for the storm already." Davn had to suppress his surprise before it showed on his face. Garen did not look any happier.

"Then you should come straight back. Instead you're still up here wasting time talking to—" He glanced at Akim and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "—the village lunatic." Akim retaliated by spitting at Garen's feet.

"You're one to talk, Snaggletooth." Garen's grip tightened on his falchion.

"Don't try me old man," he snarled. Akim just laughed at the futile threat. He'd learned decades ago that being the oldest person in the village afforded certain privileges and had no scruples about abusing them at every opportunity.

"Or what, you're going to kill a hundred year old man? Ooh yes, our brave, beloved foreman, keeping us safe from the ravages of the senile and infirm."

"I know some mothers and daughters who'd see it that way, lecherous goat." Akim simply continued to cackle without saying anything. For a few dreadful seconds the brothers watched, wondering if this would be the time their father went through with it. When Garen's grip on the hilt of his blade finally slackened, Davn could feel his whole body do the same with it.

"Davn, Brask, let's go," Garen said and, without waiting to see if they were following, immediately turned and began to stomp away at a heated pace. Davn and Brask hustled after him while in the background Akim's laughter turned into a second fit of coughing and wheezing.