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 The Parting of the Ways

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Eaton

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Posts : 275
Join date : 2013-10-28
Location : Texas

PostSubject: The Parting of the Ways   Sun 07 Feb 2016, 02:11

Barnwell, South Carolina- 1815

Laura resisted the urge to tap her feet, though her crossed arms already betrayed her temperament. She was supposed to have closed the store by now, and just her luck two men showed up right as she had reached to lock the door. Normally, the shopkeeper would have appreciated the business, but every second they stayed meant she to give them her attention, and this pair were particularly rough looking. She waited behind the counter, watching as the two brothers looked over her wares. Just when she was about to ask if they were going to buy anything, the older of the two men grinned, grabbed a few candles off the shelves, and made his way to the counter. He plopped the items down and smiled at the shopkeeper. The fellow loomed over her, taking up almost her entire vantage of her store. He wore an oversized white shirt with an equally loose overcoat, his pants kept in place not by a belt, but by a knotted cord. His smile was framed by a large red beard that matched his unkempt hair. While he might have appeared as a poor farm-hand, there was still something that her want to reach for the shotgun that sat just within arm’s reach, hidden by her counter. Still, he was ready to purchase, so he was ready to leave.

So, ya gunna pay for that?” Laura asked her customer.

“Oh, right!” He exclaimed, and started to rummage through his pockets. His voice was even rougher than she was prepared for. A few seconds later, he produced a crumpled piece of paper and instead of handing it over he dropped it on the counter. She reached forward and straighten out the parchment, which was revealed to be an illegible letter soaked and dried long ago.

“Dang it, musta been in my other pair.”

“Everythin’ fine, Neil?” The other man asked, strolling up behind his brother. His unshaven face was just visible over Neil’s shoulder.

Neil let out a sigh and said, “Ya don’t suppose ya still got yesterday’s pay on ya?”

His brother let out an embarrassed laugh, “I gave that fer you to hang on to! Don’t tell me ya lost it already!”

Next to his larger sibling, the other man seemed diminutive. Neil stood a good half-head taller, and was at least twice as wide. The smaller, yet-unnamed brother also didn’t seem quite as . . . oafish, his appearance generally more considerate with appropriately sized- if stained- clothing.  Neil let out a defeated sigh and said, “No, but still don’t got it with me.” He looked at Laura with a smile and nodded, “Sorry to trouble ya. I’ll come back later when I can pay ya.”

“It’s fine, but if you can’t pay, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Laura said with an unkind smile. Neil returned the candles to their proper place and both he and his partner made their exit, the door immediately slamming behind them. The younger man looked to his brother with a smile, starting into a hurried walk away down an alley across the street.

“Ah well, you’ll get your candles one day.” As he motioned for Neil to follow.

“So, did you get it?” He asked in a hushed voice. Once hidden in the darkness of the surrounding buildings were even the moon could not see, the man produced two bottles of whiskey. Even Neil seemed surprised, “Wow, that’s even better than usual, Eagon.”

“Was gonna see if I could get a few more, but ya gotta put ‘em in separate pockets. Otherwise they bump each other and rattle, ya know.”

Both clinked their bottles in cheers, before they took a couple of large celebratory swigs. Eagon made a slight wince, “Eh, I guess I should stop expectin’ it to taste the same as what mom made.”

“Gave up on that a long time ago. Nothin’ on this side of the pond is as addictin’. Couldn’t imagine getiin’ drunk on this; it’s so weak.”

“To you, everythin’s weak.”

Neil shrugged in agreement as he took another swig. Going at a slower pace, Eagon took a few steps out toward the end of the ally, staring ahead on the long-deserted street. He suddenly frowned, and turned to face his brother.
“So, I’m thinkin’ that store keeper ain’t gonna be as generous next time, so was the plan to stay here and work somethin’ out, or keep movin? Winter’s gonna be here before ya know it.”
Neil let his empty bottle fall to the ground, wiping his mouth, “Movin’ on in the winter will make us harder to follow. Scents go cold, even the wealthy have to worry ‘bout starving, poor morale all around- doesn’t sound too bad to me. The longer we stay, the more likely we’ll be tracked. They’ve got more than our stench to follow.”
Unimpressed, Eagon said, “Then where do we go? Just keep runnin’? I mean, my legs ain’t sore yet but is that all you’ve got?”

Neil returned the frown, taking a tromps toward his brother, “My plan ain’t to run.”

Eagon quickly re-assessed his attitude; angering the giant man was never wise.

“You know, Papa never taught us t’ run with our tail between our legs: he always said I was to protect you.  Even if that involves stealin’, movin’, or killin’ the fools who cross us, I’ll do just about anything to keep you safe. But I ain’ runnin’like no coward.”

Eagon took another swig from his bottle, “Well if it makes it easier, pretend I ain’t here. Now what will ya do?”

Neil didn’t even pause before he said, “Go back and kill Conquers-the-Wyld for killin’ Papa. Our name can’t get any more tarnished.”

He let out a long sigh, and looked back at his brother, “But that would go against Papa’s last wish, so I probably won’t do that.”  

Eagon did not reply immediately; Papa may have given his life for what he had done, but clearly Neil lost more than he- the mere human- ever could. Playing bodyguard to his little brother, instead of earning his place among the legends of their people . . .

“What if we went to those natives Papa saved? Surely, they would be grateful for ‘im. They wouldn’t be tryin’ to kill us at least, right?” Eagon offered.

Neil shook his head, an uneasy grimace on his face, “I’ve thought about it. I just . . . well look at us! Our cousins are the so-called Wyrm-bringers… and after all these wars we’ve started and lands we’ve taken, I figure it might be a bad idea to stake our lives on the gratitude of those injuns.”

“Then let’s take it further-” Eagon said with a passion that startled Neil. “If everyone ‘round here is ‘itching to kill us, then let’s be strangers and head west. I know our kind likes to stick to the seas; won’t have to worry ‘bout them, at least.”

Neil seemed to cheer up in the slightest, and a small smile actually appeared, “From the stories I’ve heard, it seems like a pretty excitin’ place. I mean, tales tend to stand taller with time, but if you . . .”

He suddenly fell silent, acting as he had caught a familiar scent. He stood up and faced away from Eagon, seemingly peering into the distance even though it was quite easy to see the moonlit buildings across the street.

Shit

Neil yelled as three people appeared at the entrance to the alley. While two only wore rancher clothes and appeared quite young, the figure standing closes to the three brothers seemed imposing. Her brown hair was tied back behind her head, her clothing that of a solider. It didn’t quite fit her, as if she had stolen it from someone more deserving, or at least that’s what Neil told himself. A thin rapier hung on her belt, while the two men wielded muskets, the barrels of the guns tarnished in the firelight. The woman smiled, but it was the cold, fixed expression of a predator. Neil instinctively maneuvered in front of Eagon and grunted, “took ya’ll long enough; couldn’t be bothered to bring more friends? Or do just not have any?”

The woman merely gave an uninterested tsk before she said, “You aren’t quite worth their time; your father got a grand show of an execution,” She drew the sword from her belt as the other two raised their barrels, “Shame he ruined the family name; now his sons will die unmourned and unremembered in mean streets of Barnwell.”  

Though Eagon did his best steeling himself behind his brother, Neil was not prepared to back down and accept his fate. He took a half step forward, his ruddy hackles rising. “Killin’ us two this way doesn’t seem very honorable, I think. And maybe you shoulda brought some folks with ya who would have made sure the job got done. Really, Merida, what are ya doin’ here?”

Eagon had seen this before; he wasn’t exactly sure how, but somehow Neil could get people to talk, almost as if they were goaded into the conversation. That didn’t mean his brother would talk his way out of things- Eagon thought of it as like playing with a bug he was about to squash.

Merida’s wrist twitched and the sword in her free hand sliced through the air impatiently, but she answered his question, though the irritation in her voice was palpable: “Stag and his servants have disowned you; you’ve been marked for hunting as his enemy. Everywhere you go, they will know that your blood has brought dishonor to the Fianna.”

“And how does this concern him? He is not of Gaia’s chosen.” Neil asked, gesturing to Eagon.

Merida just raised an eyebrow, “The same traitorous blood flows though his veins. We have to ensure that justice is done, don’t we?”

“I guess yer right.” Neil said, “Let’s deal with the murderers in our midst.” He grabbed the bottle of whisky out of Eagon’s hand, gulped down its contents, and handed the empty flask to his quietly-disappointed brother. Her henchmen held their shots as Merida ducked low, thrusting her rapier toward Neil’s stomach. The tip stopped just short, as the elder brother grabbed hold on the blade with his bare hands, blooding oozing from his grip only a moment before red fur began to elongate and reach up his arm.

Are you mad?” Merida yelled, “We’re in the middle of a village!”

“Damn right WE ARE!” Neil’s growl turned into a low roar as the transformation completed, the monstrous werewolf towering over Merida, blade still in hand. The woman shouted for her accomplices to fire, as two shots rang out in the streets. Neil let out a pained cry and twin bullets punctured his chest. Knowing full well they only have one good shot in them, Eagon smashed his bottle against the alley walls, before leaping onto the nearer helpless goon. Merida also left her frail human form behind, coating herself with black and brown streaked fur, yanking her blade from the disgraced Fianna’s grip. The wound on Neil’s hand refused to close, though he ignored the pain as his claws burrowed into Merida’s stomach. Eagon managed to jab the broken glass into one of his attacker’s neck, though not a fatal blow in itself, the man was left cradling the wound. His companion, however, lifted his musket and brought the butt down on the kinfolk’s head, sending him sprawling on the ground.

Seeing his brother wounded, Neil’s eyes rolled into his skull as he grabbed hold as much flesh and gore, pulling on the delicate tendons. Nearly beside herself with pain, Merida stabbed her blade into the other werewolf several times, though he seemed to take no need. Eagon quickly composed himself, grabbing the standing man’s leg and pulling it out from under him.

Realizing her opponent was ignoring her blows, Merida pulled herself free of his grip, his hands still coated in her blood. Raising her right leg, she gave a savage kick straight to Neil’s chest, sending him crashing to the ground several feet away. Eagon hurriedly got to his feet after picking up one of the muskets, though empty returned the same blow to his attacker. He looked up and saw Merida’s warform looking down at him, and he seemed to freeze in place. She loomed closer to the frail human, raising her blade to bring down the killing blow. Eagon gasped when Merida cried out in pain, his brother leaping onto her arm, his weight forcing the Garou to the ground

By now, several lights had been lit in the buildings, and it wouldn’t be long before someone would investigate or at least look out the window. While his brother continued to tear at their attacker’s arm while she attempted to get him off, Eagon saw that she had lost the grip on her sword. He ran over to her blade, kicking it well beyond her reach.

Whether this caused her to be distracted just long enough, or had finally succumbed to his telling blows, the she-wolf reared, allowing Neil to wrap his fangs around her neck. A grotesque snap later, and their informal duel was at an end.

“Neil!” Eagon said, in a near-panicked whisper. The heaving crinos looked to his brother, green irises draining back into his eyes, and his form diminished into that of a man. Merida’s body turned to a crumpled, blood soaked corpse.

Though still bleeding in several places, Neil got to his feet. He could hear the cries of the awakening townsfolk, and grunted for Eagon to follow. They both hurried out of the town, though as they were on the fringes both could hear the horrified scream of those who witnessed the scene.  

Once far enough away from the village, surrounded by a small grove, both brothers paused; Neil from his wounds and Eagon from his lungs.

“How did *gasp* she find us? Was that just our luck?” The younger asked. Neil shook his head, after which he began to assess his wounds.

“That’s what I wanted her to sing about; thankfully, she did. From the sounds of it, the spirits were made privy of what we did, and are tellin’ the others. If there’s one thing I don’t know how to do, it’s hidin’ from a spirit.”

Eagon’s eyes widened, half from the damage that his brother took, and from what he was hearing.

“But, headin’ west . . . away from their pryin’ eyes, all this . . . that’s still gonna work, right? We can just stay away from ‘em?”    

Neil bowed his head, before giving it a slow shake, “If they were able to track us a whole state over, I don’t know what another one or two or three is gonna do. Like I said, the spirit’s know; If all the Fianna gotta do is ask, I’m sure they can conjure up somethin’ willing to share our whereabouts.”

“What are they usin’ to track us? Are they just able to recognize us or do we just smell that bad? What can we do about that?” Eagon asked.

Neil thought for a moment, before he gasped in realization. It didn’t take a Theurge to deduce how they had been followed.

“It’s me.” He said, avoiding his brothers gaze, “I wouldna been risky usin’ the spirit world, knowing you can’t follow and all- I thought stayin’ out of the umbra the spirits would lose my scent. But if Stag truly has cast us out . . .”

He composed himself despite his injuries, looking directly at Eagon, “Your idea will work, headin’ west. As long as I don’t come with ya.”
Eagon shook his head in disbelief, “What? Why can’t you come? Surely they ain’t gonna try to follow ya!”
“I don’t know that.” Neil replied, “I do know as long as the spirit’s know about me, other Garou can find me. They’ll only be able to find you if yer floatin’ around; spirits don’t give much attention to Kin.”  
Eagon still didn’t want to believe what he was hearing as he replied, “But what will you do? We took her on back there! We have to stay . . .!”

“Eagon.” Neil said, silencing his brother, “We only killed her because if she had half a wit, she woulda alerted Garou of some talent and worth, not charged in as an overconfident whelp. I can’t betray my promise to Papa-you’re safer without me.”

Eagon nodded, trying to appear stoic though failing miserably. Taking notice Neil stood up and embraced his brother, keeping his pain to himself.

“Don’t worry about me- I’ll find a way to fix this.” He said. Eagon stepped back and asked, “Their way of tracing you? How?”

Neil’s brow furrowed, as contemplative as it was determined, “In a way, yes: By getting’ rid of the reason they want to see us dead; if Papa can ruin the Callahan name, then I can be the one to restore it.”

Eagon grimaced. To add as much comfort as he could, Neil added,
“The Fianna and their allies might hunt us, but I know there are Garou who take in the outcast and disgraced; I’ll find them, do whatever it takes to make sure our family name is revered as it once was. And Eagon,”

His brother nodded.

“Live the life you deserve, away from this nonsense.”

Eagon steeled himself, taking in a deep breath as he said, “You made a promise to Papa, will you promise me somethin’?”

Neil nodded, waiting for his brother’s response. He wanted to say, that we’ll see each other again, but that was ridiculous. He was Garou, after all. He wouldn’t ask him to make a promise he couldn’t keep.

“Show ‘em what it means to be a Callahan.”

Neil gave one last smile, “I promise. I think I best be goin’. If case anyone mighta followed us this far, I’ll get ‘em off yer tail.”

The elder left the younger in the grove, Eagon standing alone for a few moments, still trying to accept the events of the evening. A few moments later, he heard a howl ring through the night; he recognized it as Neil’s.

Well, he lasted the first five minutes without me.” He thought to himself, as he himself exited the grove. The moon had begun to set in the west, illuminating the rolling hills, the dark shadows of the terrain reaching toward him. With one last deep breath, he began the trek westward- toward the Frontier
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