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"…Well, that escalated quickly." Roosterteeth: Achievement Hunter

Pike - Spider - Adder - Owl

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posted in Character Profiles read more

Name: Cloudmine Alagosdir Rothschild III (pronounced, "Cloud-mine", not "Cloud-meen")

Lapine Name: Canyon-in-the-Clouds

Title: "Golia-hain" (the female suffix for a Wisdom Fighter. Roughly translated to "Song of Wisdom")

Age: 23

Gender: female

Species: Rabbit, Common/Integrator

Description: a cream-colored doe with blue-gray eyes. Carries a line of claw marks on her left upper-leg: the 2nd Hindquarter Mark of Captain Gruhain.

Possessions, weapons, accessories: She wears a sleeveless steel and leather cuirass, specifically tailored to hold a set of ten long knives, five to each side of the torso. She wears the simple wood-and-twine thong of a slave-fighter around her neck, depicting the sigil / totem of Goliad, (of the Kindly Ones)*.

Strengths: Cloud specializes in dual-wielding short-range weapons and close combat. Following her totem, she utilizes wisdom, patience, and creativity to make up for her disadvantages in the arena. What she lacks in brute strength, she makes up for in flexibility, quick thinking, and spying flaws in the offense. Works best with a partner or in a group.

Weaknesses: She is a doe, and a Common-breed; this makes her smaller, lighter, and unfortunately, more prone to receiving critical damage if she falls or is hit hard enough. Strong as she is, most opponents are larger, crueler, and, if Ideal-breeds, prone to a sub-form of Bloodwrath; and so often, there is only a few-seconds-long window of time to exploit the opponent before she's struck. Every head-on blow has a chance of not only gravely injuring her, but killing her outright.

Mid-range and long-range weapons are not her forte, either.

Personality: She retains a strong resolve to the duties of her totem. She practices and trains hard to forget the memories of her fallen comrades and family, but also to honor them, and to be half the beasts they were. She is ashamed of her fear, and will not admit it, lest she be seen as weak and unworthy to the gods; she worries constantly that she will shame her family and supporters in the ring, too, and so puts in twice the amount of effort to become a better warrior. She is a firm ally and team-supporter.

However, though she fiercely believes in her cause, she questions her loyalty and her self…and can only just resist questioning the system, too.

Biography: Her mother was a Common Efrafan doe, and father an Integrator from the Flats. Cloudmine is the eldest daughter of seven. Until she came of age, she and her siblings, parents, and grandparents shared a crowded home in the Lower City, under the 2nd Hindquarter Mark of Captain Gruhain.

In the Lower City, leverets learn to tussle and scrap, and the worship of the Kindly Ones: Goliad, Ruhliad, Atmos, and the Moon Rabbit. Though worship of Frith has long since been outlawed, folktales and artwork of Him and Elhrairah still circulated in the lower castes (and even some families still did, in secret). Cloudmine received her Lapine name "Canyon-in-the-Clouds" at birth, and then her Efrafan translation: "Cloudmine" at her doe-hood ceremony. When the Officers came to round up new blood for the Arena, she, and any other young buck and doe of age, (including a few of her siblings and cousins), were taken.

Cloudmine was chosen from among a pawful of others by Goliad, the Kindly Keeper of Wisdom, and "re-birthed" as a warrior of the lowest rank in His temple, and given the traditional name "Alagosdir". Honored and terrified to receive such a spiritual elevation, Cloud vowed to train as hard as she could to keep that honor with her family. The longer and harder she fights, the better she can help her family. She must allow no wealth to pass through her own paws; every gold piece must go to finding them a better place to live, and better food and medicine.

Once a playful, bright, and happy young doe that dreamed of a peaceful life, love, and family of her own, Cloud has matured into an adult fighter that can never let on her true feelings, nor give in to them. Goliad forbids marriage or childbirth in his does and bucks; and should she ever love or grow too attached to a comrade, things would only be all the worse. Watching them die and laying them to rest for so long has made her facade an unsympathetic one, and she does her best to shut out the others and focus on Goliad's teachings.

Alignment: Efrafan. Good, neutral.

Occupation: Gladiator (Goliad)

*In Efrafan tradition, carrying the mark of this particular God - especially of TKO - permits wisdom and creativity, and access to certain sectors and wealth; but it also forbids marriage or childbirth from the wearer, as long as they remain enslaved to the arena. If a Wisdom-fighter survives for an extended period of time, only an Efrafan Chief or Owslafa may claim him or her, and thus free them from the ring.

Of the Kindly Ones, Goliad is an Owl.

posted in Kingdom of Eselbrador read more

Nooo, don't be sorry! It is a good idea! No shame!! 😢 I'm sorry I even brought something like that up. T__T What did you have in mind, just a second board, or a section within?

posted in Kingdom of Eselbrador read more

Yeah, why is this a thing? I thought we settled this already. There was never any threat to the kingdom o_O

posted in Character Profiles read more

Name: Stratovere Ashstep

Title: Stratovere Rah, of the Ashen Plain

Age: 31

Gender: male

Species: Rabbit, Ideal/Integrator mix

Description: a very tall, very thin, wiry, dark gray buck with unsettling silver eyes. Heavy, black claws.

Possessions: Outfitted in black and navy blue combat robes and cowl. Wears a bone mask under his hood that is smooth, blank and pale, save for the painted cerulean design for a simple rabbit's face. It is a 3/4 mask that does not cover his mouth or chin.

Weapons:wields a saber, and possesses wrist-blades in his steel bracers.

Personality: Stratovere is a quiet, intimidating, no-nonsense-fellow that serves directly under the General as a personal guard and Owslafa over the other Officers. A hundred percent loyal to The General and the Council, Stratovere is a dangerous individual that cannot be bribed nor bargained with. He has little to no sympathy for stragglers nor the down-trod, believing that there is an order to everything that must be kept; therefore, he does not discriminate between rank or caste. To him, a rule-breaker is a rule-breaker, and the final decision rests with the General and Council.

Has adopted the children of a comrade (a fallen Owsla) out of duty, but doesn't pay much attention to them. Unable to provide emotional support, he drills them like soldiers and distances himself accordingly.

Biography: Not much is known about Stratovere's origins, other than that his mother was not a native Efrafan (from the Ashen Plain - a warren that was presumably wiped out by plague), and his father an Ideal Owsla. Out of three siblings, Stratovere proved his loyalty and strength by executing them both when they were convicted of treason. The General approved of his lack of hesitation and unquestionable obedience and made him a member of the Council when his predecessor (and mentor) stepped down, due to his great age.

Stratovere's name causes both fear and pride when spoken aloud. The commonfolk address him as "Owslafa", "Counselor", or "Ashen One". His Officers, and those brave enough, say his name with the -Rah attachment "Stratovere Rah".

Alignment: Efrafan

Occupation: Owslafa, Council of Twelve

posted in Story Arc threads read more

((Okay, last part, I promise ^_^.))

Borrowing a little further from Richard Adams, here's a little something about the Lapine lingo, and then some other common terms that might arise in the setting.

Broken Sword - A "Broken Sword" is an Owsla or Owslafa deserter. He (or she) wanders, searching for a place to lend their skill and pledge their lives. The Owsla standard weapon is usually a broadsword, and sometimes they're more of a symbol of their office and not used as an actual weapon - but it is ritualistically snapped when the officer deserts or is exiled and survives.

Broken Swords are both greatly despised and greatly praised. They are not welcome in many warrens, and not trusted; however, they are also respected as fearsome warriors. Briarwood has a higher tolerance of Broken Swords, figuring that if their beliefs were worth breaking their allegiance and risking extermination, then their reasoning might be acceptably sound. Broken Swords make good warriors and defenders at Briarwood / Briar Bastion. (Briarwood also believes in giving everyone second chances.)

The family of a Broken Sword, if left behind, is publicly shunned. In Efrafa, the family may be either socially ostracized or killed outright. If a Broken Sword joins a separate warren or establishment, he or she may be allowed to stay, but not to breed. For now, Briarwood is the only place a Broken Sword may start a family without fear of physical or social attack.

In Efrafa, if the Broken Sword's family is left behind but allowed to live, the male children of the first birth take on the name until they can die or can clear it. If a Broken Sword has children when he rejoins a warren or establishment, the sons of the first birth are Broken Swords, too. (This is of course swapped, if the original Broken Sword is a female, therefore giving the title to the daughters instead.)

Snowstep - A white rabbit that isn't an albino and doesn't suffer from leucism, and keeps the color all year 'round. Typically a white doe, and believed to be good luck, and pure of heart and spirit.

Lagomore - the rabbit heaven for heroes. Protected by the kindly Moon Rabbit (the Fourth of the TKO). Not to be confused with the afterlife under the Frith Theology.

–-
Lapine Glossary (edited a little to fit the context). Lapine is the Old Tongue for rabbits, and so mostly spoken by the elders and older folks of the city.

? Crixa: The center of Efrafa, at the crossing of two paths / The center of the city. ("Crixa Rah" is the Arena.)
? elil: Enemies of rabbits, including fox, stoat, weasel, cat, owl, etc.*
? embleer: Stinking, the word for the smell of a fox.*
? flay: Food, specifically grass or other greens.
? flayrah: Unusually good food, such as lettuce, carrots, etc.
? Frith: The Sun, viewed by the rabbits as God.**
? Frithrah: "Lord Sun", used as an exclamation. Analogous to "My God!"
? fu-Inl?: After moonrise.
? hain: A song.
? hlao: A depression in the ground formed by a daisy or a thistle, specifically one that can hold moisture. Also used as a rabbit's name.
? hlessi: A rabbit who lives aboveground or otherwise out of a warren; a wandering rabbit. Plural hlessil.
? homba: A fox. Plural hombil.
? hrair: Many, uncountable, any number above four. It also means thousand, a big, uncountable number.
? hraka: Droppings, excreta. Used as a curse.
? Inl?: The moon, moonrise. Also means fear, darkness or death (as in the Black Rabbit of Inle)**
? lendri: A badger.
? li: Head.
? marli: A doe, a mother.
? m'saion: "We meet them"
? narn: Nice, tasty.
? ni-Frith: Noon.
? nildro: A blackbird.
? Owsla: A group of strong rabbits second year or older surrounding the chief rabbit.
? Owslafa: A strong, older group of the Owsla that serves as the Council's police at the Efrafa warren.
? pfeffa: A cat.
? -rah: A suffix denoting meaning prince, lord or Chief Rabbit (as in Threarah, Hazel-rah)
? -roo: A diminutive suffix meaning "little" (as in Hlao-roo or Hrairoo).
? silf: Outside.
? silflay: To eat above ground; to graze.
? tharn: A state of paralyzed fear or confusion. Can also be used to mean "looking foolish", "forlorn", "heartbroken".
? thlay: Fur.
? threar: A Rowan or Mountain Ash tree.
? u: The.
? U hrair: "The Thousand". The term used by rabbits which refers to all their collective enemies.
? vair: To excrete, to pass droppings.
? yona: A hedgehog. Plural yonil.
? zorn: Destroyed, murdered. A catastrophe.

*This refers only to those enemies outside of Efrafa, and NOT to The Kindly Ones. In this era, the Efrafans don't know that TKO are actually a group of these.

**Frith is the "Old God" (and to some and those in the Briar, the true god, and is depicted as the sun. Worship of Frith and anything to do with him has been outlawed in the capitol. The same goes for Elhrairah, the "First Rabbit", although sigils and depictions of him arise in artwork and carvings, and is a symbol of strength to the Fighters.

**The Black Rabbit of Inle is the "Death God", and a direct subordinate of Frith in the theology. He is depicted as the shadowed moon.

posted in Story Arc threads read more

Okay, couldn't find anywhere else to put this stuff up >_>

Empire

Efrafa

Domain

Eastern Mossflower, northern plains, the coast, and nearby islands.

Domineers

A dominant breed of rabbit that normally has dark fur and peculiar blue-green eyes. Since only the strongest and a selected few of the not-so-strong are allowed to breed, the strain has split into the less common, aggressive gene carriers, and the more common, passive carriers. Since the gene-pool is so closely regulated, certain diseases and poisons have little to no effect, whereas some others do great damage. (Efrafans can handle a certain amount of adder-venom and spider bites.)

Lead by:

  • "The General" - the dictator
  • Council of Twelve - The General's elite Owslafa Chiefs
  • Owsla - the subordinate officers
  • "The Kindly Ones" - the gods (unseen owls, foxes, and cats). Decide who lives and dies, devour the fallen competitors of the arena.

Control/Regulation

The ruler's Officers (or "Owsla") control a "mark". Each citizen is identified by a special mark under a particular Officer, and can only be out and about when that Officer says so. Anyone that disobeys is brutally beat down and/or killed. The Owsla report directly to the Chief Owsla (the Owslafa), should they see anything out of the ordinary with the citizens, enemies, or beyond their borders.

The Owslafa reports directly to the General. They are specially bred, specifically chosen warrior-elites that guard the General and his family.

Currently, Efrafa faces an expansion problem, and with it, deserters and rumbling rebellion. To quell an uprising AND solve the problem of the massive boom in numbers, the General and Council convened and built an arena for death matches. This arena "Crixa Ra" chooses the strongest and eliminates the weakest annually, and by this point, the population has been deceived into thinking that participating is truly the greatest of all honors. Even if they fail in the ring, the family could be greatly rewarded and even elevated. Young bucks and does train hard when they are selected, and some that can't find a place elsewhere in the empire volunteer to become gladiators to keep their families and themselves afloat. Bets are placed, structures and guilds improved, and after several generations, the empire thrives almost entirely on the arena to survive.

About Rabbits

Unlike the prim and snooty, almost wimpy rabbits of the canon, these rabbits range from being peaceful and loving, to brutal battle-hearts. Efrafans are separated into three different categories.

  • Efrafan Ideal

Aggressive-temperament. Usually darker-furred. Big, sturdy build and peculiar blue-green eyes. Strong, lethal digging claws. Slight poison and disease resistance. These rabbits, especially the bucks, are ideal for becoming Owsla.

  • Efrafan Common

Passive-temperament. Not nearly as physically built as the Ideals, and can vary a bit in fur-color and paw-size. Most are known to not possess the "Ideal Eyes", too. More curious, peaceful, and reasonable. Slight poison and disease resistance, but are weaker to their more aggressive counterparts.

  • Efrafan Integrator

Any non-imperial rabbit integrated into the ranks of Efrafa.

Male = buck
Female = doe
Half-grown/teenager = leveret
Babe = kit or kitten

Civilization and Capitol

The Capitol City is the home of the Arena and Seat of the Gods. It is a magnificent, stone-paved place on the plains and flats, surrounded by woodland. [Development pending.]

The Arena and homes are hewn and chiseled from the natural rock.

Communal Housing = the closer in on the city, the more communal housing "apartments" become popular. Rabbits prefer dens and cozy tunnel or cave-like homes with modest woven furnishings, but in Efrafa, these homes are more above ground than below it. The standard poor apartment is little more than a stone and dirt cave with a rush-door or drape entrance, and contain 1-2 bedrooms, a kitchen, store-room/pantry, and "hot tunnel" (a very tiny space that holds only an additional hole full of hot coals, and heats the rest of the domicile).

Arena Apartments = contain one room, kitchen, pantry, and hot-tunnel beneath the actual Arena.. These are scarcely furnished, but become more elaborate and comfortable the higher the rating / the longer the competitors survive. For the experienced, there are more rooms, a personal bath-pool, expensive furniture, and comfortable cots. These apartments are constantly being changed out, due to the short longevity of the residents. Their common contains a personal armory and trophy room.

Domicile = the higher caste home, made of wood and stone and possess a yard, bath, and garden.

Fortress = a heavily guarded stone fortress with many levels of ancestral tunnels below it, and surrounded by waving black and blue standards. The entire tunnel system expands to every home, everywhere in the city, allowing the Owsla to secretly survey the citizens deemed untrustworthy. The General, his family, and all Owsla reside here, and have a great view of Efrafa from the very top. Contains many yards, ponds, and gardens to sustain them alone, as well as much more finery and comfort.

Arena = a vast, dusty, limestone playing field surrounded by high walls and coated with sand and dry dirt for traction. It is a roughly square shape with raised spectator seating all around, and on all four sides, a giant carved sculpture of a gaping rabbit's skull grins with its mouth forming the competitor's entrance. On the arena's flagged stones are marked the three circular sigils of The Kindly Ones: the Owl, the Cat, and the Fox - and the Moon Rabbit.

–-- Great website for fantasy city generating: http://citygen.crystalballsoft.com/generate.php -----

Community Size:LargeCity
Population:18,891 Adults
Size:144.85 Acres
Population Density (Adults/Acre):130.42 Adults/Acre
Races:Common(17,386); Ideal(941); Integrators(565)

Gold Piece Limit:40,000.00
Wealth:37,782,000.00
Income for Lord(s)/King(s):94,455.00
Foreign Resources:3,778,200.00

Imports:Apples, Barrels, Wheat, Wood, Steel
Exports:Vegetables, Leather, Potatoes, Iron Ore, Pelts
Famous:Management, Arena Battles, Fighters, Mathematical prowess, Earthly Gods
Infamous:Laws, Government, Arena Battles, Leader

of Wards:14

-military, river, craftsbeasts, etc.

of Buildings:8,908

of Power Centers:5

  • Council of 12, the General, Owsla Elite, Owsla, TKO

of Guilds:61

  • Clay + stone workers, furriers, medical, wood workers, bakers, dyers/weavers, etc.

Has Walls

of Gates:4

posted in Story Arc threads read more

**"Attention, citizens of the Empire,

Based on the collected information of this year's census, your esteemed Rulers have determined a solution to the overpopulation:

Beginning every First Frost of the year, all families will be required to donate one or more representatives to compete in the Arena in a FIGHT TO THE DEATH. These representatives will battle to earn the right to not only survive, but handsomely supply their family and themselves with food, riches, and comfort.

Be not afraid; even those who lose have a place among our Overlords and in the Afterlife - sacrifices made to the Kindly Ones*, that they might continue to bless our grand civilization with their wisdom and their grace."

Signed,

–-The General
---The Council of Twelve
---The Kindly Ones**

So I had this idea. (W.D. is still awesome to this day.)

The very quick, basic plot in a nutshell: There is a rabbit empire in Eastern Mossflower. Not HARES - Rabbits. (Hares will make an appearance later.) This empire runs itself a lot like a rabbit warren, in that it's a very regulated and controlled setting, but unfortunately, with little to no natural enemies in the area, they are suffering an unhealthy, massive boom in population. The dictators' solution to this? Just start killing people off, of course!

The so-called "gods" that the citizens answer to are, without spoiling much, owls, cats, and/or foxes that are fed the fallen competitors* (the Kindly Ones). Only the General and the Council know this, and so the citizens are taught to believe that the greatest honor of all is to fight, and hopefully be someday "welcomed" into the arms of their gods.

This solution ensures that not only will the population be under control, but that only the strongest fighters survive - and in fact, the empire has broken down into two dominant strains of genetic carriers that are immune to certain poisons and diseases (but also horribly subject to others, outside of the territory).

Further setup:

Now, outside of the empire is an up-and-coming community or rising kingdom in a forest of thorns called Briarwood. It is a peaceful woodland society, a peaceful village and refuge for runaways and wandering travelers. The briar is so carefully tended to by the residents that there are only a few ways in and out, and hidden, forming the wall of the fortress "Briar Bastion". Free from aerial attacks and impossible to simply march upon, and guarded by steadfast warriors.

The General and Council have learned of its existence and would like to find a way to conquer Briarwood before it grows too powerful, and before anyone mobilizes to overthrow them.

There are also wild hares, nomadic, wandering loners, that may get mixed up in all of this, too.

Positions:

Healers, elders, gladiators/competitors, wanderers, warriors, rulers/thanes, bards, clergybeasts, spectators, gamblers, rogues, rebels/runaways, veteran fighters, trainees, councilbeasts, outer-city vermin, Champions of Briarwood, and a death metal group (totally optional).

Playable beasts

-rabbits (imperial and Briarwood)
-wild hares (not Sal. hares)
-TKO "gods": owls and cats (though you wouldn't be doing much other than hiding in the shadows and getting fed…)

Also, would totally love to see this thing played out in 2-4 parts: the Arena Battles and life in the Empire, and then the escape to Briarwood (and then maybe the reveal and overthrow of the Overlords.)

So...yeah, what you guys think? :3

posted in RP read more

Drowning. He was drowning.

Garreth was almost positive that his ribs were broken beneath the boot of the burly stoat brutally stomping him into the mud. Every gasp for air brought a choking rush of water that quickly - but in his mind, so painfully slowly - drained him of any and all energy. Painful panic pounded in his ears amid the muffled shouts and war cries under the water. Was this it? Was he dying? Had he finally failed his chief?

The last thing that registered in his mind before unconsciousness took over, feeling his wrists being tied from a great distance, was a sudden change in the commotion of the fray. A rumbling of heavier and furious footsteps, multiple crashes and yowls of redefined chaos.

His stoat was kneeling in the downpour with short rope, binding the blind-beast's wrists, when the oncoming brick wall slammed him and his cohorts hard into the muddy stream. Another brave ferret, attempting to bind Hesari, did not quite make it out of the way, and howled where he fell, an arm snapped at a horrid angle. The other vermin, distracted, had no idea at first what had hit them, and scattered in their confusion, lashing out all around for the thing that had just broken their mob.

Another ferret that had managed to avoid the brutal collision, took one look at the massive rat charging up the stream and bolted, scrambling up the slippery ditch and into the woods with her heart in her throat. Almost immediately, she slammed head-first into another she-beast in the brush, bowling the both of them over. Seasons of reflexive training kicked in, and she pinned the polecat to the ground, dagger poised and fearsome tattoos warped into a fearsome snarl.

posted in RP read more

The rats picked their way through the bulrushes clogging a section of the river, splashing down into the muddy bank. Hazel immediately stripped his weapons and affects and struck out across the water, as keen to it as an otter, and searched for fish; Crow waded to about thigh-level in the shallows and scrubbed his fur with the bank-sand.

Only a few hours to dusk, now. The flakes disintegrated in the Moss's warm flow, and with it, took some of the tribal paint. Since Crow was an unmarried youth within the Juskasen, his pelt bore no permanent tattoos other than the clan identifiers and training-shaman's incomplete sigils. He would have to reapply the sacred blue once he returned to the camp…if he would even be allowed to wear it, this week.

Deciding that it didn't matter for now, he splashed more water over his face and ears and worked at his arms until it burned. The blood, smeared into his fur, the dying screams… He'd never felt so unclean. And I've let them die in vain. A miserable failure. The young shaman wondered if the river's sacred waters would ever be able to cleanse the bitter taste of shame from his tongue, too.

"Crow!" Hazel waved to him from further down the bank. In one paw, he held aloft a string of vendace, strung neatly through the gills. "I'm taking these back to camp. Don't stay out too long, or the Chief will throw a fit."

The younger brother snapped out of it long enough to reply. "Right, I won't. See you later." Come to think of it, returning empty-pawed wouldn't be a great idea either, considering all that had happened today. Figuring that it was a step in the right direction at least, Crow wandered through the weeds, biting the tufts off of the cattails and placing them in his satchel. Magra, a cook in the camp, made excellent pancakes out of them, and lately a trade in high-demand for those other beasts, Juska and Woodlander alike, that could not afford wheat flour. Perhaps it could be sold for a good price further downstream.

Crow murmured a prayer as he worked, distracted again. So close to home, he let his mind wander, unwary of enemies, if there would be any nearby.

"Bless the river, bless the rain,
Bless the sun will rise again.
The earth will provide,
And the Pike will guide,
The wand'ring souls across this plain."

posted in RP read more

ooc: Okay, I'm back. Once again, many apologies about the delay in posting, guys!

High on the bluffs, and hidden by time, rested the remains of a primitive, dilapidated temple of stone. Weeds and small trees crept from the cracks, Morizuli eager to reclaim the structure for the earth. The slab overhang only just poked out from the overgrown face of the bluff, the only indication of the place's existence.

Crow bent down and cleared the leaves from an ancient stone step on the way far below, worn and broken in the earth. Chiseled into rock, his claw-tips found the rough outline of a symbol - the old tongue, a perfect circle within a perfect circle, within another perfect circle, all enclosed by an ovular outer-ring - an eye. The sigil of Eis, God of Order. He reached for the sacrificial-knife…and winced.

Hazel tilted his head. "What is it?"

His brother swallowed nervously. "The Red Paw. It's gone."

The warrior glowered. "You didn't." When he didn't respond, Hazel ran his claws through his head-fur. "Gods above, Crow! How - "

"You've returned."

The pair turned around cautiously. Arriving behind them without a sound, a beast stood calmly, arms folded across his tattooed chest. Unlike the two, white clay daubed this rat's face, and ceremonial mask above dripped strings of shells and ropes of brightly-dyed blue-and-green turkey feathers over the back and shoulders. In one white-smudged paw, he grasped a short cedar staff, bound with cord and beads.

The brothers bowed their heads. "Milord Stone Paw."

The Head Shaman of the Juskasen leveled his gaze upon Crow. "And how goes your task, apprentice?"

Crow stammered. "I - there was - " How could he admit to his failure? What disgrace! Trembling, the diminutive sank to his knees before him. "The fault is mine, lord. The Red Paw was impregnated with the blood of the innocent before Eis and Baus, as directed...but only...after they were slain." Crow closed his eyes. "And I have further failed: the knife was left behind."

Anger briefly flashed over the Priest's face. But he breathed deeply, and exhaled, the shadow melting away. Stone Paw sighed. "I should have expected this. You've never taken a life, Crow; it's only natural that you would fail the first time. Did your visions come any clearer at the site?"

The apprentice blinked, arms shaking with relief. "A…a little. I...I saw..." He faltered, shook his head. "I saw..." Crow's claws traveled over his flattened ears. "...I don't remember. I'm sorry, Stone Paw. I can't recall it."

Before he could be reprimanded, Hazel stepped in, holding out the tuft of confiscated fur. "A woodlander interrupted the vision. I watched her from beyond the line. She's not from the village."

"She couldn't be from the village," the Priest snapped, taking the fur. "All inside the line had to die, as designated. It's also probably the reason she snapped him out of the trance." He rubbed the hairs carefully between his claws. "This one…her spirit is strong. I'll call the acolytes to strike again. No...that would take another moon at least to organize another sacrifice of that scale. Hmm." The Priest turned to walk back up the path. "I must think more on this, and consult both Order and Chaos for answers. During that time, you are free to leave...and do your own consulting. For forgiveness."

Crow's teeth sank into his lip. "Yes, lord."

Stone Paw left.

"Are you alright?" Hazel knelt beside him. "Come on. Let's go home."

The apprentice shook his head. "No, not yet. He's right. The gods must be furious; it's why I can't remember that vision. They've revoked it." He sat up, shivering at the thought. The late noon sun threw dappled patterns from the leaves across the steps, and tattooed pelts of the Juska paused before them. A warm day in summer, but the chill of dread negated it. He must seek forgiveness; he had to succeed, if the powers granted him worthy of permission. He stared at his paws, flaked with dried blood. "I'm going to the river."