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Eternal Winter witihin Nome (Firesblood) M

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Offline Firesblood

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Astrid, for all her strangeness, was quick.  The barrel-end of the rifle was immediately cocked and leveled at his face the moment he jumped out in front of her, her eyes narrowed and glinting with a strange luminescence in the aftermath of whatever magics she had just performed.  Nor did she immediately lower the gun; her expression was a mixture of anger, but fear moreso. 

She should have been more careful, should have checked that he had not followed her.  Snow muffled sounds extraordinarily well, but she still should have paid closer attention.  She fought with her more ingrained instincts; He could leave…he could bring the entire town on her head, like all the times it had happened before, only she might not be lucky enough to make it out alive.  If she killed him now, no one would ever know what he had seen her do. 

But there was the difference between her and ordinary humans; no matter how afraid she was of what could happen, there was also the chance that he would not betray her…and she couldn’t kill him when he had not wronged her.  Such a thing would only bring more devastation in her future when it came back around, and she had more than enough on her heels already. 

Astrid uncocked and lowered the rifle, still struggling to compose herself.  “Seems to me that the question answers itself, given what you saw,” she said hoarsely.  She didn’t look away, her posture tightly coiled and ready to run if need be.  “Lets just say I’m more gifted than the average person, but people don’t much care for my kind of gift.  Their black book is pretty specific about what to do with my kind, in fact.”

She seemed to realize then that he was out there without shoes and just a blanket tucked around his shoulders.  At this point, leaving would be a death sentence, even without people trying to kill him, but would he prefer that to her now?  It wouldn’t have been the first time something like that had happened.  Astrid sighed.  “If I asked you to come back inside with me where its warm, would you?”         


Offline readlliea

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Woodsly was unflinching with the rifle's barrel pointed at his face, honestly it wasn't the first a gun was shoved in his face and probably wouldn't be the last. He stood there and waited for the trigger to be pulled. HOnestly he hadn't even thought about the risk of scaring her. A mistake he would be fine with, she probably wouldn't lose much sleep over some unknown man.

"You can fire if you want to, no one's going to even come looking when I am dead." Woodsly said after a few moments.

Soon she was explaining and while it wasn't obvious to him at first, that was due to him having been more used to stories about the Inuits; which were also called Eskimos but that was something the Inuit found insulting to be called. SO it was best to not call them that.Wilson grew up in Nome, so stories of odd things was more linked to the Inuit culture than things elsehwere. However, when she mentioned the black book it rang together a much deal better.

"So magic basically." Woodsly remarked, more to himself than anything.

At her question, his gaze returned to her.

"Got nowhere else to be and no real reason not to go back." Woodsly answered as he turned and started to walk; still using the tracks Astrid left before to walk through the snow; thus showing how he followed her. "I may sport a very ugly mug, but I'm not crazy. Also if yer worried bout the whole magic thing, I ain't telling anyone. No reason to honestly, plus no one's gonna believe some torn apart stranger."

People with money on the other hand spoke volumes, and their way always went. Oh how the rich always...ALWAYS got what they wanted.As he was walking and staring on ahead, he recalled the reason why this entire mess started.That Poisonous Plant... the damned bitch just had to try and kill Wilson. Fighting to keep the look of anger of his face, he gave a sigh as they arrived back at the house. In which he opened the door and willingly walked back into the warm place.


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid was relieved when he agreed readily enough to go back to the cabin, and when he added that he had no intention of telling anyone about what she had done, more of the tension bled out of her.  “Thank you.”

She followed him back to the cabin, closing the door behind them and unloading the rifle, placing it and the bullets back where she got them.  “You would be surprised what they would believe.  Plenty of people fear it, enough that rumors have been enough to bring them to my door.  Otherwise…I’d probably be someplace warmer.  Nome was the farthest piece of nowhere I could find.”

 She shouldered out of her coat and grabbed an extra blanket for him, knowing that he was probably freezing.  She filled her kettle with more water and set it over the fire to boil, glancing at him.  She still wasn’t entirely sure that he wouldn’t spill her secret, but for now she would be content with his word.  He had his own problems he was working out, and she doubted she was at the top of the list of people he wanted to see dead.


“I imagine that once you recover, ” Astrid began, turning to face him, “You’ll be returning to Nome?”


Offline readlliea

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The thanks was a bit of a surprise but he didn't show it. Merely shaking the snow off the blanket he had brought with him and taking a seat by the fire, was when his body shaking and feet freezing registered to him. Sometimes, he got committed to things and everything else just went out the window.

"Only thing that matters in Nome is money, and the more money you have, the more people actually listen to you. I lived there my whole life, no one every listened to a thing said since I had no money." Woodsly replied, his anger bleeding into his voice. "Even if you told them that someone revered by the community was actually a Poisonous Plant of a creature that tried to murder you with a bear for some unknown reason, they wouldn't believe it."

That was far more than he was meaning to let out. Even with all the anger and rage boiling over, he gave a very fed up sigh and tried to push it all down; wasn't really working. So the next best thing was to try and move past that subject, while wrapping a couple of blankets around his feet.

"Only long enough to get pay back on everything that wronged me and Wilson." Woodsly answered."Once they're all dead, it'll probably just be deeper into the forest or something. Haven't thought that far ahead."


Offline Firesblood

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Ah, and there it was.  A man who had suffered as Woodsly suffered often went after his vengeance, and it seemed he had been nursing that particular streak for a while.  Even without speaking, she could feel the rage that came off of him like waves on a beach.

She understood it.  She had been there herself, once or twice, but given the nature of what she was, revenge was something that she would likely never have for herself.  She sat down next to him, studying him closely.  Few ever bothered planning for the eventuality where they saw life beyond their revenge.  If they managed to live through trying to get it in the first place, they were left without a sense of purpose that even fewer managed to survive.  When one’s entire life revolved around killing the people that wronged you, there wasn’t much left once they were dead. 

“How many people do you have on your list?” She asked.  He was just one man, and while she suspected he would fair better at full health, but Nome was a small place, and people in small places tended to bond a bit closer together.  He’d likely be getting more trouble than he might have otherwise bargained for. 


Offline readlliea

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Truthfully, he knew of four candidate for the revenge. But that was due to him debating on ending a certain couple that did nothing to help Wilson when he suffered the jeering and torment by their siblings. In the end, he probably would leave them be, maybe the fact that Wilson was dead was enough to torture those two; if the father even had a heart to be tormented by.

"Four." Woodsly answered. "One will be very difficult, one will be easy. But the easy one might put the other two on alert."

As much as they never stood by Wilson, his three siblings certainly stood by one another. One of them was easy to pinpoint since they were a nobody to a degree but with the other two, they were something. The other two were pretty well known, so really only three on his list would be the issue. Maybe the last two but that's if he did weakest to strongest first. He held some ideas on what he was going to do to them but currently he lacked the means. What he did know was simple.

None of them were going to live after he found them.


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid tilted her head, considering. 

She could offer to help him, but the price of her assistance was something she wasn’t sure either of them wanted to pay.  Bad enough that she was stuck with a bear, reminding her every few weeks of why one didn’t perform magic as powerful as she had without learning first whether the man’s mind was strong enough to survive it.  Woodsly’s anger and dedication to his revenge was something that he would no doubt hold onto.  It helped when one had something to live for, but what about after?  It was possible that he could simply dive into the wilderness as he said he would and lose himself just as the bear had.  Then she would be stuck with a bear and a…whatever it was he chose to become.       

No, better to wait to offer, she told herself. 

“And after you have killed these four, you’ll disappear into the forest?  Is there anything else you want from life beyond revenge?” Astrid asked, genuinely curious.   


Offline readlliea

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"There's no point in staying in Nome after that." Woodsly answered. "Maybe try to find somewhere to settle down or maybe just live my life in a cabin away from people. Haven't decided as honestly, I know the chances of a full plan working to be in the uncertain side. If I actually manage it, then good. Less toxic people hurting others for no real reason. If I end up dying part way through, oh well I guess."

A shrug left him. If he thought about what awaited him after everything then that could distract him. Maybe, just maybe he would succeded at the whole thing. For that though, he felt like he had to focus solely on it.

"Granted it's unlikely anyone is going to want a mug like mine. Maybe if it had less obvious scars but, oh well. Not how life went." Woodsly added as he scratched his right cheek;where three long scar marks were.

There was no hiding those. No amount of make up or anything would hide those for life. People would always ask about them, people would always notice them first.


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid considered his words.  Personally (and quite obviously), she advocated quite enthusiastically for becoming a hermit in the wilderness, well away from people and their endless list of problems and grievances.  She might even have been tempted to encourage him to do so now, rather than later.  Woodsly’s mind was set, that much was obvious, and Astrid didn’t fight in battles she knew that she would lose.  Turning a man away from revenge was often a fruitless venture. 

“It’s important to think of it, though,” Astrid said gently.  “If you have something to live for, you fight harder to survive to see it.”

At his derisive comments towards himself and the unlikelihood of finding someone to share a life with because of his scars, Astrid’s features turned skeptical.  “Spare me.  I’ll have you know that some of us, myself included, prefer men with character.  We prefer to focus on how well we are loved and treated, the way a person looks at us, not how they look.  Pretty is nothing.  Pretty goes away after a handful of years, and all that remains is how a person loves.  That’s the only thing that should matter.”

She eyed him pointedly while she poured them each another cup of tea.  “You will be here for at least three weeks in recovery between all the bullet holes, cracked bones, and internal damage you have suffered.  You also need to build up your strength; regular meals will help you do that, and you can help me around here with the heavy lifting once you are well enough.  I’m thinking of assisting you, making certain that you succeed in your ends against your enemies, but I don’t know you well enough to determine whether doing so will be safe—for either of us.  If you want my help, I’m going to need to see more than your rage and your violence—I’ll need to see hope, effort to focus as much on what comes after your vengeance as the vengeance itself.”

She offered the cup of tea to him with a raised eyebrow.  “If you don’t want my help, then that will be that.  I’ll help you to recover and when you are better, you can be on your way—with assurances that you will never speak of my existence here.”           


Offline readlliea

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"No one back there even knows I exist,so there's no one there waiting for me." Woodsly replied. "No one's waiting for me anywhere.."

Indeed, to all of Nome Wilson was dead. They would've believed the Poisonous Plant's words about a bear coming at them and how Wilson was torn to shreds by the beast. Even without a body the town would've believed her over anything he bet. She held that much power with her position after all. Though as she went on about how looks meant nothing, he couldn't help but feel his anger shifting round. Looks didn't matter huh? Then why? Why was everything revolving around that then? How he....Wilson was constantly rejected for being longer limbed but on the skinny side?

"You say that...but you'd be surprised how places contradict that." Woodsly answered firmly, looking away from her.

With the new cup of tea, Woodsly idly rolled his wrist. Swirling the tea within the cup but taking great care to not let it spill. Her words were...confusing. Assisting him? A brow was raised as he looked at her.

"I thought you wanted to keep away from people? What if you get spotted?" Woodsly questions, tilting his head somewhat.

If she kept away from people, then she wouldn't really have any contacts in Nome would she? Or..was she refering to that gift of her's?

"Are you meaning you might use your talents in some way to help?" He asked, the look of confusion was still visable in his eyes.


Offline Firesblood

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“Then perhaps you’ve just been in the wrong places, Woodsly,” Astrid replied mildly, taking a sip of her tea. 

It was clear that he was confused about what she meant by helping him.  When he asked his questions about her avoiding others, worrying about whether she’d be spotted, the woman promptly shook her head.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t be going with you.  Your revenge is your revenge.  I have my own rules to follow, and while killing in self-defense is acceptable, killing for any other reason is not,” she explained. 

When he asked about her using her talents, she smiled slightly. “That is what I mean, yes.  But again, I don’t know if I should.  What I could do for you would cost me, and come with great risk to you.  It isn’t something to be toyed with, and if it turns out you can’t handle it, things could go very badly for both of us.”

She did not elaborate on that.  If anything, she suddenly looked a touch sad and focused more on her tea.  “That is only if you are interested, of course.  That does not have to be decided now.”


Offline readlliea

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Perhaps but that wasn't important at the moment. Taking a sip from the tea, he took note it was still a bit too hot to do more than a sip at a time. And even then it was almost still too hot for that. Oh well, that would change with a little more time. So his attention was fully returned to Astrid as she was answering his questions. His confusion shifted to curiosity as she spoke.

"Prices to pay is how the world works, even without gifts. Wilson paid for his foolishness and I've paid for things that have been done. Tis natural." Woodsly replied. "Madam, so far you are the most interesting thing that has happened to me in years. And you have me interested as honestly, I was pretty sure I'd be doing this warpath of mine alone. I didn't account for potentially running into someone who might be able to help. The question is, do you truly want to help some strange man you found in the snow hellbent on payback?"

It only felt right to ask her that. After all, she was living fine on her own, hidden away from the world. By helping him out, even with her gifts. Wasn't there a chance that she would get hurt? She did say that the price would cost them both greatly if it went wrong.

"A more important question is, what exactly does this do to you? Prices to pay and all but you mentioned how it'll go very badly for us both if it goes wrong. Now frankly, I'd don't give a rat's ass about myself, I could lose an eye and not care. I'll just look more like the monster the pits created. You on the other hand, I don't fancy you losing a eye. So what exactly happens to you if this goes wrong?" Woodsly asks in a serious an somewhat stern voice. "Don't sugar coat it either."


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid was silent for a long moment, internally debating whether she should really go into too much detail just yet.  She was surprised by his comment about her being the most interesting thing to have happened to him in years, and despite thinking herself immune to flattery at this point, she discovered that such was not the case.  Her features softened, and her eyes grew a touch warmer when she looked at him.  His concern for her was sweet as well, she had to admit, and though he had asked her not to sugar coat it, she still found herself a touch hesitant.  Worrying her bottom lip, the woman sighed and set her cup aside. “If I didn’t truly want to help, Woodsly, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.”

“I suppose I should explain a little bit of how magic works,” she decided, folding her hands on her lap and trying her best to think of a decent comparison to help him understand.  “Alright, pretend that I am a well and magic energy is the water inside of me.  Collecting a bucket or two of water a day will not deplete the well, as it gradually replenishes itself over time.  Performing a small spell every day, like the ward you saw me put down for protection earlier, only requires a small amount of energy—and that is easily recovered after a night’s rest.  The more water you take from the well in one sitting, however, the longer it takes for the water level to rise back to where it was before.  The more powerful the spell that I perform is, the longer it will take me to recover and during that time, I would be unable to perform even the small magics that keep my home and myself protected.  That would be my sacrifice, my price,” she explained, uncertain if any of that really made much sense.

“As to you and what could go wrong,” Astrid hesitated, grimacing.  “I once had a…a friend who, like you, had revenge in mind.  He had a taste for gambling with money that he didn’t have, and when his bill came due and he couldn’t pay it, they brutally murdered his wife.  Benjamin was a small man, slight and weak, and prone often to sickness, and he had never won a fight in his life.  After they killed Anya, he begged me to help him, to make him stronger so that he could have his vengeance.  There was only one way to really do the trick for him, and that was by entwining his very essence with that of a beast, effectively giving him all of its positive attributes.  A bear was what he chose—bears are large and powerful and brutal, everything that Benjamin himself was not.  He used it to tear every last man involved in his wife’s death apart.  Afterward though, he had nothing.  No wife, no purpose, nothing at all that interested him enough to keep him going.  Eventually, that emptiness began to eat away at him from the inside out and he began to go mad—the power demands to be used, you see.  The power of transformation requires transformation on a regular basis, or you begin to lose control.  By contrast, if you use the gift too often, you risk losing your humanity.  One day he shifted into his bear form and stayed that way, and as time wore on he went wild, forgetting who he was, what he had been, and why.  But the part of myself that I gave to facilitate his transformation links him to me, and that connection is unbreakable save for death.  No matter where I go, no matter what I do, that bear follows me.  Whenever he’s hungry, he comes to my doorstep to beg.  Whenever he’s frightened, I find him under my porch.”

Astrid paused, meeting his gaze.  “Put bluntly, the risk is that you could lose your mind and yourself.  The magic I would put inside of you would inevitably bring you back to me if that happened and I would take care of you, but…being trapped like that…its not fate I would wish for you.  For anyone.”     


Offline readlliea

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Woodsly didn't interrupt once. He stayed quiet and listened, the look in his eyes showed that he was paying attention and nothing else was going to pull his attention away from the words she was saying. He was taking her words seriously and heeding her fears and worries about this spell since she had experience in doing it before. So that was why that bear was a strange one. Okay, that made more sense.

"I understand the analogy for how the magic works." Woodsly said after a few minutes of letting everything soak in. "Is there no way to help your friend?"

Sure, she gave the man what he wanted but it wasn't her fault that Benjamin ended up like this. The man just gave up on the world after everything was done. Truthfully, Woodsly didn't know what he was going to do after revenge. Thinking that far ahead could distract him from the here and now, make him get sloppy and get caught before he could get things done fully. But that wasn't important. What was important was putting her at ease. Truthfully, the power of a beast would help him out. But she had points. Woodsly was what he was due to snapping, his mind caving into the carnage around him, the sheer violence of everything. What would keep him sane?

His bitter view on humans and Nome even more so, would make finding a wife hard. And the power of turning into something else, could just make any sort of marriage harder. It was sort of ironic. He was already a monster due to what he did in the pits, he'd just look even more like what he truly was by turning into a monster. What he didn't want, was to burden her...he'd recommend that she could just shot him if he lost himself but like she said earlier. Self defense killing was acceptable, but outright murdering someone wasn't. Even if he gave his consent to free her of a burden, he knew she wouldn't do it. So it would be on him to keep himself from ever going that way. Death was still possible in this mission, so maybe..maybe he'd end up dead and she wouldn't be burdened? Who knows.

"Well I know this much, to make up for you losing your magic I can either come back out here at night to be on watch or find a property on the edge of Nome we can rent until my business there is done. That at least will take care of you being vulnerable." Woodsly started. "Reason why I don't have anything decided for after the revenge, is I know that thinking too far ahead can distract you. You can get sloppy if you think one too many moves ahead. Such as the fights for example. If I tried to think ahead on ever potential move my opponent can make, it can leave me open to mistakes that will cost me the entire fight, potentially my life. One or two steps ahead is best, any more than that and the risks of mistake and failure rises. Makes sense?"

He'd wait a few minutes for Astrid to figure out if she understood his attempt to explain or not.

"The closer to the end of the goal I get, the chances of ending one goal becomes more real. Focusing on the one important task and not have any other distractions is best. Once the goal is completed, then it's time fully decide what will be the next goal." Woodsly added. "One time in my life I wanted to be one of those mushers who raced in the sled dog races... but that ended up not being worth the thought with how things have gone. I know in Nome I'll have to blend in for a little, so a possible trade might help for any future things."


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid blinked in surprise.  He would do that for her?  Arrange things so that she would still be protected during one of her weakest moments?  Who had ever offered to do such a thing for her?  Not a soul.  If it had been anyone else, they would have seen an opportunity to finish her off—after all, one did not try to kill a Woods Witch while she was at full strength. 

But he wasn’t looking for an advantage.  If she was going to help him, he would help her back.  Not even Benjamin had offered such a thing. 

She listened while he explained his reasoning for focusing less on his life after, and more in the present.  She could see and understand his point of view.  She still didn’t necessarily agree, but she didn’t have to.  If that was what helped him to focus best, then she wasn’t going to gainsay it.  “I understand.  And…and thank you for thinking of me.”

She toyed briefly with the idea of just inviting him to stay; truth be told, she didn’t mind his company.  It was nice to help another person who needed it, after keeping to herself for so long.  But the cautious side of her argued that she should wait; they were getting along well enough now, but it had only been a day.  Best to wait and see, and make the offer once they were more comfortable with one another, and knew each other better.

She smiled when he spoke of wanting to become a musher at one point, then went on to mention a trade.  “What sort of trade are you interested in?”