Two of a Kind II (Jake Whitepaw, Kiara, & Icicle; PM if you would like to join)

There's a storm coming.

High on the moors far north of Mossflower, the big friar shielded his eyes from the tiny windblown snowflakes that stung his nose and gazed into the northwestern sky, where a late fall sunset melded its colors beautifully with a bank of heavy grey clouds.  Even as he paused to get his bearings, the chilly wind that snatched playfully at his heavy fur seemed increase in intensity.  He knew that in a matter of mere hours the highlands that he currently traveled would be locked in a savage blizzard; one which would hide any and all landmarks under a blanket of snow.  Navigation would be impossible and shelter nonexistent.  Who could know how long a snowstorm would last?  He had seen them stretch for days.

Further travel was plainly foolhardy, wolverine though he was.  His best option was to make for the comparative shelter of the lowlands which lay to the east of the Northern Moors.  With this knowledge in mind, he turned his back on the sunset and strode out in an easterly direction.  He reckoned that before midnight he would find himself in the welcoming shelter of a greenwood, or even a village if he was lucky.

He was lucky.  After an hour or so of walking, he had discovered a well worn footpath which led down the heather-clad slopes of the moor and towards the twinkling lights of a small lowland hamlet.  Another hour's hiking found him standing in front of the village's gate, squinting through the now heavy snowfall at the walltops.  Seeing no sign of a guard or gatekeeper, he raised a hefty paw and pounded the weathered timber of the gate three times, bellowing out a simple greeting:

"Hullo the gate!  Shelter for a traveling friar!"

Although cold, Eve had hoped he wouldn’t be able to follow her this far north. The snow would help hide her tracks from him, although it would hinder her travel greatly, and if somehow he did find a way to track her, it would be much easier for him once she had started walking in the freshly fallen snow.

Any beast that has done some traveling could see that there was bad weather ahead. She had made it to a quaint little village where they welcomed her in from the cold and impending blizzard.

She was there for some time now, relaxing by the fire of a small inn, when she heard the commotion about another beast wanting shelter. Imminently she got up, her heart pounding in her chest. Could he had tracked her already? If it was him, then he was closer then she had thought.
She bit her lip in thought then made her way to the gate to see who it was.

By the time she had gotten to the gate, it was already open to let the stranger in, and a few villagers welcoming him and suggesting he stay at the inn. She sighed to herself, getting close enough to see that it wasn’t him at all, but just another traveler. Hopefully one who has not met or heard of him.

To see if this stranger knew anything, she would have to befriend him. The polecat slowly walked over to him as the number of villagers dwindled down.
“Umm…Hi.” She said as she walked up to him. “…And here I thought I was the only one around who would require shelter.” She said looking up at the dark clouds in the sky then back down at his face, even though she still had to look up to see his face.

After a few moments there was a commotion on the walltops, and a squirrel carrying a lantern peered down at Jake.  "Hullo, traveler!  We'll open the gate for ye!"

As the heavy wooden doors groaned open, Jake padded into the village, nodding affably to the handful of peasants and guardsbeasts who had assembled outside the gatehouse.

"Thank ye all for letting me in, friends!  Now, could somebeast lead me to your village's inn?  My throat is right parched…"

A bankvole and a woodmouse nodded and motioned for him to follow them.  "Roight this way, gudd frior."

As they headed towards the tavern, the guards murmured hasty 'goodnights' and returned to the warmth of their gatehouse.

The big wolverine was cheering himself with the thought of warm food and mulled ale when a third creature drew near and addressed him.

“Umm…Hi.  ..And here I thought I was the only one around who would require shelter.”

He laughed and shook his head.  "Nay, pretty lass, the warmth of a friendly inn sounded most welcome, especially to a beast like meself who has had nought to eat in two whole days."

He brushed the snowflakes out of his eyes with the back of his paws and continued:  "…Aye, food and good company does a creature good, especially in a storm as fearsome as this one will doubtless be.  So you're a traveler too, then?"

Eve slowly nodded with a soft smile. This wolverine seemed good enough, though she was still a little cautious. She knew what he was like, and she knew he would stop at nothing. “Yes, I too am a traveler. Though most likely not as well traveled as you would be.” She said with a light giggle. “Thankfully we both stumbled upon this little village when we did. The storm isn’t far off now.” She added, looking to the sky then back to the wolverine. “…But hopefully it won’t last very long.”

“Oh, the name’s Eve. What about yourself?” She asked, beginning to walk with him to the tavern. Around the village, the inhabitants were preparing for the storm, boarding up some windows, reinforcing doors, and making sure they all had enough supplies to last should the storm last longer that what was hoped for.

"Aye!  'Tis never a good thing to be lost in the midst of a savage winter storm; it has already started to snow heavily, and the wind is stiff indeed."

As they arrived at the door of the inn, the friar ducked inside and shook the snow off of his head.  "My name is Jake.  Brother Jake Whitepaw.  I'm very honored to meet ye, Eve.  Have ye eaten yet tonight?"

The tavern was full of boisterous villagers, both male and female.  A minstrel sat beside the fire and belted out bawdy romances and crude drinking tunes.  Near the back of the room several creatures were starting to dance.  Threading his way through the crowded and smoky building, the big wolverine grinned humorously and boomed at the tavern's goodwife; a skinny old vixen with a surly look in her eye, who seemed more than a bit occupied with serving the assembled villagers:

"Hoy, ale and food for a hungrybeast, marm!  I haven't eaten in nigh on two days.  Give me something hot, and with plenty of potatoes.  If Mother Nature wills it, I'll be able to pay when I've finished!"

Eve smiled and inwardly breathed a sigh of relieve. If Jake was truly a brother as he claims to be, then there would be no reason for him to be in line with him. And with the storm fast approaching, she knew she was quite safe here in this small village, as long as no more…travelers came upon the village.

The polecat followed Jake into the tavern, and took a quick look around. “Actually I am rather hungry.” She said following him through the crowd as he ordered his food. “I’ll just have the same as him, just in a smaller portion.” She said with a quick laugh, looking over at the vixen.

She looked around again, scanning the whole of the tavern, or at least what she could see if it, as if looking for someone. Even then looked back over at Jake who towered over her and pointed to the nearest empty table, “Before we lose it to some other beast.” She chimed, leading him over to the table while they waited for their meal.

OOC:  Trying to draw things out until Icicle joins.  Also, this is how I am picturing the tavern:

http://www.praguets.com/img/article/3d493d08d76873e9dc597081d1245846.jpg

This particular picture is of a medieval tavern in Prague.  I want to go and drink beer in it.

BIC:  The vixen gave the two travelers an exasperated glance.  "Alright then, but ye'll have to wait yer turn for yer food.  Everybeast from the surrounding countryside is in here to take shelter from yonder storm, it seems, and they all want somethin' to eat."

The friar nodded agreeably.  "Aye, I can wait."  As the goodwife bustled off, he glanced at the polecat.  "You get the table, miss, I'll go and get ale."

He threaded his way through the boisterous crowd and arrived at the bar.  Opening his belt pouch, he selected a few silver coins and tossed them in front of the young dogfox who was busying himself behind the counter.  "Two tankards of ale, young friend; a large one for me and a small one for my companion."

The fox nodded eagerly and pulled two wooden steins out from a cupboard.  Disappearing into a back room, he reappeared a moment later; both tankards brimming with a full-headed winter ale.    "Here ya are, sirree!"

Jake grinned and licked his lips in expectation.  "Thankee much, young one!"    Returning to the table, he plunked Eve's tankard in front of her and drew a large mouthful of beer from his own.

"Aah!  This is a goodly brew.  What think you, Eve?"

The small polecat looked up at the wolverine and smiled sweetly, then down at the tankard that he had placed in front of her. She giggled lightly to herself. Drinking was not something she would normally do, especially with company. But this time, she didn’t see the harm. If he wasn’t here by now, he probably wasn’t going to be until the storm ended. And if he was here, she would have known by now, as someone would have confronted her.

“Well, let’s see…” She said then paused, lifting the tankard and drawing it to her lips. “…Aye, goodly indeed.” She said taking another sip before placing it on table again. It was probably a good thing her tankard was smaller than Jake’s, after all, she is only small and (although never tested) probably a cheep drunk.

Eve leaned back in her seat, watching Jake for a moment. “So what brings you to this cold, frigid place?” She asked, looking around then back at him, “And alone?”

Unfortunately for Eve, the storm had not completely halted him. The snow and the wind had just started to pick up when about half a score of cloaked and hooded beasts approached the gate Eve and Jake had passed through not minutes before. "She entered with a companion, a monk I think," a rat said, addressing the obvious leader of the party.

"A monk is nothing to be worried of," the beast replied calmly. This creature had a rather deep, refined tone. He pronounced his words clearly and eloquently, much differently than his companions.

"But, I think 'e was a wolverine sir," the rat said, a little nervously.

The lead beast halted, having reached the gate. "Now, a wolverine could be a problem. That's why we should have taken her yesterday, if it were not for that fool Dirtclaw," the leader said, still not losing his composure, "where is he?"

"Er, dead, y' killed 'im yesterday," the rat said, his voice getting much shakier, "I didn't have nothing to do with it though, boss!"

"Of course. Just don't make his mistakes," the leader answered. He gave a nod to the largish stoat who stood next to him. The stoat approached the gate and rapped on it loudly with his fist. The squirrel looked over the wall again, his lantern somewhat obscured by the ever heavier falling snow. "More farmers, seeking shelter?" he asked rhetorically, expected that to be the case,"I'll let ye in!" The gate slowly opened and the cloaked beasts poured into the village.

"Thank you, my friend. Now, can you inform me of an establishment where a drink and shelter may be located?" the leader asked with a friendly smile.

"Right that way! Though she may be gettin' a bit full!" the squirrel indicated the tavern with a paw, "say, you are the second polecat to come in here in today! We don't see many of your kind around here!"

"How interesting! I rarely meet members of my own species. Maybe I'll get the chance tonight!" Savas said with the most deceivingly pleasant grin.

"Aye! It was a girl, headed to the tavern herself I think!" the squirrel continued, utterly clueless of who he was informing, "now, I must get back to the gatehouse!"

"Thank you, you have no idea how helpful you have been!" Savas said before leading his party of towards the tavern.

The stoat caught up with Savas and asked, "do y' really think we can take on a wolverine?"

"We will have to be smart about it. I did not gain command of the horde by being the strongest, did I? I dare say you are a mightier beast than I," Savas explained as he approached the tavern door, "but I could best you in a fight. You do not doubt that, do you?" The stoat hastily shook his head, "no."

"Good, then leave the thinking to me," the polecat smiled, "I want you all to disperse when we enter. Sit anywhere, but keep away from her. If anybody asks, you are a farmer from the south valley. You know enough about farming to reply if asked?" The vermin nodded. "Then let us begin," Savas stated. He opened the door to the tavern and entered, followed by his crew of cloaked vermin. As commanded, the went off to odd parts of the establishment, taking seats where they could be found. Some put down their hoods, the smarter ones laughed and joked with each other and the other patrons.

It took Savas all of a second to find his sister and the monk, sitting together at a table. Giving them no more than a passing glance he strode to the tavern's counter, leaving his hood up and his back to Eve and Jake. Taking a few coins from his pocket, he handed them to the same young dogfox Jake had just spoken to. "Pardon me, young sir, I would like an ale. A small tankard, if you don't mind," Savas said, giving the fox a rather pleasant smile. He could never really drink like most vermin did. He wasn't very large, and when his father had him drink he had found it didn't take much to get him tipsy. The fox gave a nod and ran off to fetch the drink.

He soon returned with the ale and gave it to Savas with a friendly smile. The polecat took the drink with a grateful "thank you" and took a seat on a nearby bar stool. He took a slow sip of the ale, contemplating its flavor. "It's good ale," he thought to himself, "though I prefer wine, I suppose I could get used to this."

Savas took a quick glance at his sister, seeing her smiling sweetly and talking happily with Jake. For a moment, a strange thought entered his dark heart. "What if there was happiness to be found there? Was his sister right, could he live in peace?" the thought went, "would it perhaps be better to be in the monk's place, happily spending the evening with Eve, instead of hunting her down?" This though frightened Savas, that was the thought of a weakling, not a warlord. He pushed it aside hastily and get down to planning. How would he take Eve in such a public place?

“So what brings you to this cold, frigid place?  And alone?”

Brother Jake took another long pull from his tankard and sighed contentedly.

"I'm a traveling friar.  I roam wherever my paws lead me and try to do as much good as I can to any beasts I that I might come across."

He glanced disinterestedly at the pub entrance as the door swung open and a handful of cloaked creatures strode in, bring a cold gust of wind and snowflakes with them.

"…Im making up for a past full of evil deeds.  'Tis a long story, and I'm grateful for the chance to redeem myself.  Right now I'm headed to the Southern lands.  I wish to see the ruins of the Abbey of Loamhedge for myself.  Aye, perhaps I'll even be able to collect a relic from the place."

Draining his tankard, the big wolverine set the wooden vessel on the table and pushed it away.  Stifling a yawn, he shifted to a more comfortable position on his seat and stretched pleasurably.

"Ahh...  There surely is much to said for a warm tavern on a stormy winter's night, little miss.  ...So now, if I might make so bold as to ask: why are you out traveling all by yourself?  Surely one as pretty and young as you should have companions to journey with."

Eve also looked over at the entrance as a couple of beasts came in. She only glanced at them briefly as they all went in different directions, and then turned back to Jake as he continued to speak. “Well I’m glad that I was able to meet you now, rather than in the past.” She responded with a giggle, lifting her tankard to get a mouthful of the drink inside. She paused mid-swallow, an odd feeling overcoming her, then a chill running the length of her small body. She blinked, looking around, but not seeing anyone in particular, she concluded that the chill was due to the door being opened just moments ago.

The small polecat blushed at the wolverine’s comment. “Under normal circumstances I guess that would be a yes, but I don’t have any companions to travel with. Bad luck seems to follow me, and I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt because of me. I do have a brother, but we’re not very close, nor see eye to eye. We don’t get along at all. Sometimes it seems we’re locked in a forever game of hide-and-seek.” She smiled at her own metaphor, and then took another mouthful of the ale.

“I do hope this storm doesn’t last long. The poor village, they’ll be eaten out of house and home by the storm refugees, if it does last.” Eve thought out-loud to herself as she looked around, figuring most of who was here was here for shelter from the storm.

Jake shook his head as Eve told him about her relationship with her brother.  "'Tis a sad thing when a creature doesn't see eye to eye with its kinfolk.  Aside from life, family is one of the greatest gifts we are given in this world."

At this point the vixen arrived with their food; two vegetable pasties for the polecat and several more for the friar.  "Yer food, goodbeasts.  I hope it's to yer pleasure."  She flashed a haggard smile before bustling off to serve other creatures.

The wolverine nodded his thanks to the fox and began to eat.

“I do hope this storm doesn’t last long. The poor village, they’ll be eaten out of house and home by the storm refugees, if it does last.”

Waving a dismissive paw, he spoke through a mouthful of potatoes, carrots, and gravy.  "Nay, it shouldn't be as bad as all that.  I reckon that most of the beasts here are travelers or farmers.  Most creatures should be long ready for the snows of winter by now."

He reached for his tankard of ale, and then remembered that it was empty.  Drat!

"…Although, there are always those few beasts that fail to prepare in the seasons before winter, and then are left wanting."

The tavern was a bit too loud for Savas to hear the conversation between Jake and Eve clearly, but he could tell that they were talking about him. Whether he actually heard mention of a brother, or it was just the innate connection he had with his sister, he didn't know. But he did see Jake pick up his empty tankard in look at it disappointingly, and started to form an idea.

Turning to the young fox, Savas tossed him a few more silver coins. "Would you be so kind as to refill the monk's tankard?" he polecat asked, "I fear he has run dry." The young dogfox was confused for a moment, but then nodded and headed off to do as he was told.

Meanwhile, Savas kept his back to the table where they sat, not quite ready to reveal himself. No doubt the young fox would reveal the monk's "benefactor" with little questioning. Savas gave a quick glance over at his number two, the stoat, who was in a corner alone. The stoat gave a nod, which Savas returned. Soon the polecat would have his fun.

Eve nodded at Jake, then sighed. “Tis true. We only have each other, and yet…” She replied look up at the vixen handed them their meals. She smiled and nodded to the vixen as she hurried off. “Mmm, if it tastes half as good as it smells, it will be delicious.”

The small polecat smiled and also began to eat, nodding to the wolverine. Though not catching all of what he said as he spoke and ate at the same time, she got enough to understand what exactly the monk was saying.

She blinked up at the young dogfox plunked down a new full tankard of ale for Jake, and taking the empty one. She looked in at her own tankard, to which was a little more than half full. She then looked back up. “As if someone read your mind, eh Jake?” She laughed, then continued, “Not planning on getting my company tipsy, are you?” She jokingly asked the fox. Though to be honest, she figured Jake could take in quite a bit of the ale before he would start to feel the effects of it.
“Not at all, another guest saw that his was empty and opted to buy the friar another tankard of ale.” The young barkeep replied.
Eve tilted her head a little. “That was quite generous of them, wouldn’t you say Jake?” She turned to Jake with a smile.

(ooc – let if know if you want me to change the fox’s answer. LOL)

Jake nodded.  "Aye…  Sometimes fate deems it good to seperate those whom blood binds together.  'Tis a sorry thing, indeed."

There was a period of silence as the two creatures ate.  This was broken when the young male fox walked up to their table and plunked a new tankard of ale down in front of the big friar.

“As if someone read your mind, eh Jake?  …That was quite generous of them, wouldn’t you say...?””

"Aye, miss!  A right generous beast, to be sure.  Give the creature my thanks, fox!"

The wolverine paused.  "Nay…  In fact, send him over here so that I kin thank him meself!"

He winked roguishly at the polecat.  "If I start to get tipsy, you'll know it right away."

The young fox trotted back to Savas and delivered Jake's message. "The friar would like to thank you personally!" he said. The corner of the evil polecat's mouth curled into a thin smile.

"As I expected. I shall be with him in a moment," he said, taking a final sip of his ale. The dogfox, looking at Savas, seemed to have a sudden revelation. Noticing this, Savas raised an eyebrow. "Speak up boy, what's on your mind?" he asked.

"You're a polecat, right sir? So is the miss at the table!" the fox said, "we don't see polecats too often!"

"I wouldn't suppose you do. Now, it is time for a little family reunion!" Savas grinned as he turned away from the counter and headed over to the table where Eve and Jake sat. He left his hood down, though he knew it would do little to mask his identity while so close to his sister, that was not a concern for him now. "Greetings, good friar! And good evening to your lovely companion," Savas addressed the pair, "do thou wish to speak with me?

Eve slightly blushed at Jake’s comment and wink, taking a sip of her drink, as the fox went to relay the message to the generous beast that paid for his second tankard of ale. She glanced around to see who it was, and all she could see was a hooded figure at the bar, most likely came in with the big crowd not too long ago. Well she guessed she would meet him soon enough, and as the figure and the young fox conversed for a moment she turned back to Jake, her meal, and her drink.
“Looks to me we’re fitting right in if they are already buying drinks.” She said with a laugh as the figure got up and walked over to them.

She took another sip of her ale as she figure approached them. She gasped, coughing on her drink, as the figure spoke. All she had to do was look at the figure to confirm it. Even within the dark shadows of the hood, she could see the masculine mirror image of herself. She was completely shocked. She had thought she was at least a few days ahead of her brother, and with the storm she thought she’d have a nice rest. Now the storm has trapped her.
Eve blinked up at him for what seemed like forever, unsure of what to do, caught completely by surprise.

“Looks to me we’re fitting right in if they are already buying drinks.”

Jake nodded enthusiastically.  "Aye, a right hospitable place this seems to be!"

He glanced over at the hooded creature who had arrived at the tableside.

Greetings, good friar! And good evening to your lovely companion, do thou wish to speak with me?"

The big wolverine grinned amiably and raised his tankard to the creature.  "Oh, aye!  Thankee kindly for the ale, goodbeast.  Perhaps ye'd care to sit and sup with us?"

As he spoke, be became conscious of a heavy silence on the part of Eve.  Glancing over at her, he was somewhat surprised to see that she was sitting nearly paralyzed in her seat, her fixed on the stranger and dilated as if in fear.

"…Er, be you alright, little miss?  Ye look as if ye've seen a phantom...!"  Getting no reaction, he reached over and gently shook her by the shoulder.  His deep voice tinged with concern, he addressed Savas.  "My companion is not well, I think."

"Oh, aye!  Thankee kindly for the ale, goodbeast.  Perhaps ye'd care to sit and sup with us?"

"It would be an honor, brother!" Savas replied with a smile. He took a seat between his sister and Jake, placing his own tankard on the table. He took a glance at his Eve's face, seeing her look of surprise. He couldn't help but smirk a little, smug in his own achievement. Catching up had been hard, but it was worth it.

"My companion is not well, I think."

"Oh, I am sorry. I do believe she looks rather faint!" Savas said, springing into action. He drew forth a small piece of cloth from one of the many pockets on his vest and held it up to his sister's face. "Here, smell this, it will clear you head," he said. The truth was quite the opposite. It was a rag soaked in a chemical solution similar to that burned by the Flitchaye that would send one to sleep in a heartbeat. Savas was quite careful not to breathe any of it himself as he waited for it to take effect. He put out an arm to steady, and eventually catch, Eve. When she did, he would portray it as an unexpected faint.

In her mind, she was going through everything, past, present, and future. Savas had proven to be determined before, but this was the closest in proximity the two had been in a very long while. Eve was scared, and she knew that he knew it.

She could hear and feel Jake shake her, but she didn’t react to him, her eyes fixed on her brother, speechless at the fact he was now sitting next to her. Not only sitting next to her but also placing himself between her and Jake, probably her one and only protection here.

Eve was so focused on Savas that she jumped when he sprang up, revealing a cloth from his vest. Her eyes went wide as he held it to her face. She opened her mouth to protest but only got a bigger whiff of the chemical solution. She mumbled to herself, at first feeling lightheaded. Glancing over at Jake she blinked at him. “..he—“ She leaned on Savas’ outstretched arm for support. “..helll…p..” She muttered before completely falling into her brother’s arms, her body limp as she fell into the chemical induced sleep.

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