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Eternal Winter witihin Nome (Firesblood) M

readlliea · 351 · 3986

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Offline Firesblood

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Astrid nodded in agreement and handed him a plate before returning to her original place by the fire.  “Then that is what we will do.  It will take you time to prepare anyway.  But now you have another decision to make,” she said, taking a sip from her cup.  “What is the form you will take?  Once you settle on that, you will need to acquire a piece of the beast—some fur or a feather, a talon, or claw.  Once you have done that, we can proceed.”

 “The stealth sigil is something that I can do for you today.  The energy needed for that is negligible.  I would paint it onto your skin in a place of your choosing using a pre-spelled ink, and whenever you find yourself in need of the ability, all you would have to do is focus on the mark to activate it.”  Astrid shrugged and immediately regretted it, but her posture only stiffened for a split second before she had it under control again.  As soon as she had a moment alone, she decided to deaden the pain a little.   


Offline readlliea

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Woodsly stayed quiet for a little longer, pondering on what would be the best thing to scare those fools. Wolves scared people, but he didn't quite want to drag the wild creature's name through the mud further. Wolves had enough trouble, he didn't need the idiots of Nome hunting them further in their attempt to find him.

"I'll figure it out." Woodsly replied.

That didn't have to be decided straight away, he could take some time with it. Best to thoroughly think it through after all, he didn't want to be stuck as a house cat forever. With the stealth sigil being a thing he could have straight away, he pondered it for a few moments. Should he take that now though? Bringing his hands to his face, it was clear he was pondering it all over. Thinking clearly on it.

"The sigil can wait, I can handle myself enough to get a potiental building, beast material, and catch glimpses of the targets. We'll just stay in the preparation stage for now, till we're closer to the end of these two weeks, sound good?" Woodsly asked.


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid nodded.  She agreed that he would be alright, and she allowed herself a modicum of relief to hear that he wouldn’t be rushing off immediately.  “Very well.” 

She finished her food and rose to put her coat, scarf, and hat back on; she had four garden boxes to harvest, pull, and re-seed before the end of the day, and a handful of other chores left.  Truth be told she was daunted by it, but Astrid could be stubborn and it would look strange if she took the rest of the afternoon off.  On that note, she stealthily slipped the small bottle with the pain tincture into her pocket; a drop or two on the tongue certainly wouldn’t taste great, but it would do the trick. 

Flashing Woodsly a small smile, Astrid collected her tea to take with her and made for the door.  She thought about waiting, maybe asking him to tell her about Wilson and the event that happened that had brought him to this point, but perhaps that was a discussion better left for the evening.  She had been reluctant to pry, grateful for the small slips here and there that entered their conversation, but a few pieces did not go very far when trying to solve a larger puzzle.  She knew it ran the risk of upsetting him; he always seemed to tense whenever he mentioned Wilson, but she was curious about Woodsly.  She wanted to know more, even the bad parts if he allowed it.  Later, she told herself. 

“As always, I’ll be about if you need me.”


Offline readlliea

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A couple of days of going back and forth between Nome and Astrid's home had produced some results. Woodsly had managed to make a deal with a man who had a old building that they needed to do something with and turning it into a temporary shop sounded fine to him. Only thing bout it was Woodsly had to fix it up himself so it seemed he'd be practicing repairs while the normal capentry skill at the same time. But, since he hunted, he was able to already make a small amount of coin that would help him get toward the needed materials. So win in a odd way. He hadn't found much trace of those he was hunting by sight but word of mouth was the most..interesting.

Course, Woodsly would tell Astrid of his findings. The one he refereed to as Poisonous Plant was still dealing with sled dogs and the best sled team in all of Nome, so her status had remained the same oddly enough. She was going to be the hardest to deal with, he knew that much and admitted it even. After all, she was the one who did the whole bear thing. One of the other targets was a Margret Howlson, she was currently trying to worm her way up into high society of Nome; which only difference was you were rich and you could afford the best of furs and buy everyone out from under the table. Woodsly explained that she wasn't rich, so she had to be marrying into it. Which meant she was still a scheming wench who always pulled these types of schemes where using others for her own gain was the common game. She just now upgraded to the big leagues of doing it.

Some rich guy was going to get duped into marrying a lovely looking snake basically. The wedding hadn't happened yet, they were still engaged but no one had mentioned how far away the wedding was. Woodsly contemplated on waiting till after the wedding so the guy would get something out of it; such as the few valuable things Margret actually had due to her winning the hearts of guys who went over the moon for her in past years. Oh well, twas a small but unimportant debate. The others sadly, Woodsly hadn't found out anything. It clearly aggravated a small part of him but he wasn't to the point of fury.

"It makes sense for one of em to be slippery...but Stein...that weasel is the loudest out of all em. He shouldn't be that hard to notice.." Woodsly remarked as he seemed to be trying to figure out where the weasel was hiding with no evidence.


Offline Firesblood

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The farm seemed so much quieter during the days that Woodsly went into town.  It wasn’t that there were endless streams of conversation with him, but the occasional sight of him throughout the day was something that she found she had become accustomed to.  Despite that, Astrid went on as usual, no stranger to being on her own.  The wounds she had taken from Woodsly healed but left behind the scars he would have had, and life became a bit easier to manage. 

When he returned from town and told her of the building he had found, she had been happy for him.  One step closer in his plans, one step closer to his revenge.  It would take work to fix it up, but there was little doubt in her mind that he could accomplish it.  When he spoke of his targets, Astrid listened avidly and without comment until he was finished.  She had grown to hate this ‘Poisonous Plant’ woman second hand from his description of her and what he had suffered at her hand.  Only a coward would use such means to attack another person, and the woman deserved every ounce of suffering she got—Astrid had no problem voicing her disdain for the woman out loud.  When he expressed that she could be the hardest one for him to beat, she simply laid a hand over his and commented that she didn’t think he gave himself enough credit; he would beat her.

As he went on to telling her about Margaret, Astrid sighed.  There were plenty of women like Margaret in the world, and in certain places arrangements for wealth were made often and for that reason alone.  But a woman who conducted herself like Margaret could be afforded little sympathy; she had earned what she had coming to her, and Woodsly would see the due paid. 

When Woodsly moved onto the subject of Stein, she frowned.  “Perhaps he left town?” she suggested.  A man didn’t just disappear, he had to be someplace.  “Or maybe he ran afoul of someone else in town, and whomever he angered has him?”   


Offline readlliea

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"So long as he didn't piss his boss off too badly, he would be protected. Being in a gang has that perk I guess...but I doubt it. For all his annoying quality, he's good muscle." Woodsly answered. "He's only the shortest member of the Howlson family by a few inches but that's due to him taking all the raw muscle, whereas Wilson got all the height but suffered a slim build due to it. Hence the nickname of Scrawny Legs which was more of a means of insult than a nickname."

It wasn't a nickname of endearment or anything, it was a constant personal jab that no one could control. Stein could control how much muscle he got but he was always naturally muscular. He had that stupid build for it.

"Course, Creepy Stein is a much better name for him." Woodsly added, recalling the 'nickname' that even the Howlson parents called the man by.

A sigh left him as he rubbed his eyes, he still needed to acquire the material of the beast but he narrowed it down to a couple of things. Something that was carnivore but something they wouldn't expect. Now other than a cat, there wasn't much else he could work off of save for wild animals and potentially dogs. Wild animals were more terrifying but....he wondered if it was wise? After all, the presence of a wild beast in town would scare them shirtless but...it would also raise some suspicion he felt.



Offline Firesblood

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Another piece of the ‘Wilson’ puzzle.  She hadn’t bothered to ask after the last time.  The subject upset him, and Astrid endeavored to avoid that.  Stein was a brother to Wilson, and one of his tormentors.  Abuse at the hands of a family member was something she understood.  It was strange.  For all his bitterness towards Wilson whenever he spoke of him, his reasons for attacking Stein included his bullying of Wilson.  Why?  Why would he wish to exact revenge for a person who he obviously had little regard for? 

It didn’t make sense, and worse, it was territory she knew better than to cross into without him broaching the topic first.

Astrid turned from this train of thought, focusing once more on what he was saying.  She didn’t ask him to elaborate on Stein’s nickname; regardless of the reason, she was sure he had earned it.  She watched as he sighed and rubbed his eyes.  Astrid thought he was probably exhausted, or perhaps simply had too many thoughts chasing each other back and forth in his head. 

She studied him, wondering if he was still trying to figure out how to track down Stein, or if something else was bothering him.  She had begun to think of him as a friend, and Astrid wanted to take some of the burden off of his shoulders.  “Whatever you’re thinking of right now, is it something that I could maybe help with?” 


Offline readlliea

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"Ah just pondering on what beast to get something from is all. I want to be sure it's the right choice." Woodsly answered.

After all, he'd be stuck as it forever more. So he might as well pick something he'd like or at least be fine as. Still, he figured it was best to take a break from those thoughts. Leaning back in his chair somewhat, he let out a small sigh as he started to just relax in the spot he was in.

"Probably going to go hunting in the morning, have a couple of pelts on hand to sell in case someone stops by at the building." Woodsly started. "The floor doesn't look ready to cave in anymore."

A chuckle left him. Yep, he managed to fix the floor. Though next main issue was the roof. He figured if he could get the floor stable and it look decent, he could handle the roof.


Offline Firesblood

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Astrid nodded thoughtfully.  It was good that he was thinking about it, and taking it so seriously.  It was best to approach decisions like what he had ahead of him with care.  If everything went well, he would be able to transform between the form he chose and who he was now, but if things didn’t go well, the animal he chose would be the only form he had. 

When he added that he planned to go hunting, she straightened and checked on the dough she had rising.  “The butcher would likely offer good money for the meat,” she suggested.  There were many repairs yet to be made, she knew, and she smiled when he mentioned that the floor was now sound.  “Well done, Woodsly.  You will be a master carpenter before you know it.  If you have need of them, there are more tools in the barn.  You are welcome to them.”

Deciding the first rise had gone on long enough, Astrid turned the dough out from its earthen bowl and began the process of kneading it; she liked to keep busy.  “You make me very curious, you know.  My interest in other people and their lives is limited and has been for years, but you never cease to make me wonder.  I find myself wanting to learn more about you.  That's not an easy feat to accomplish."


Offline readlliea

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"That is true." Woodsly said, pondering over if he had even paid the butcher enough mind to know what he was low on but he couldn't recall. "Thankfully it wasn't as bad as he made it sound, that helped with it."

Indeed, from what the man had told him. IT sounded like the floor was gonna cave in like the roof should've. There were only a few spots where that was the cause but they were small and just replace the boards there and around it helped out greatly. The roof though, he was certain the old man hadn't exaggerated that. A brow was raised at her words regarding him making her curious in the lives of others. Though he was confused by what she meant by it. Did she really mean in regards to his past? Or was s he just using him as an example.

"Not terribly interesting, just had some pretty bad luck and I'm biting back." Woodsly answered, a hint of his confusion was noticeable in his voice.


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Astrid shrugged, feeling a bit embarrassed.  How did she explain to someone who didn’t find himself interesting…that she found him interesting?  That she wanted to learn more about him?  Simple things, like his favorite color, or a fond memory, or…anything, really?  After a moment, she shook her head.  Maybe they just hadn’t reached that point yet.  He was focused on something, and getting to know another person could be a distraction.

“Nevermind,” she finally said, offering an apologetic smile.  She returned the dough to the bowl and covered it again.  “So you’ve got the floor fixed now.  What’s next on the list?  The roof, wasn’t it?” She asked, changing the subject. 


Offline readlliea

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Something about that 'never mind' made him feel guilty. Why though? Had he upset her? Was that apologetic smile there to help hide something else? Hard to say...hard to read people when it wasn't a survival situation. Mentally sighing to himself, he choose to just shift his focus to what Astrid was asking now. As a way to help make up for any possible insult or hurt feeling he gave her.

"Correct." Woodsly said. "The roof probably is as bad as the man made it sound, I might have to enlist help of some locals...not fond of that. "

A sigh left him this time before he shrugged.
------
The rest of the week went by and sure enough, the roof and the rest of the building was fixed. Woodsly honestly found it a bit irksome to ask the locals of Nome for help with that roof. Sure the younger lads seemed energetic and happy to help. But the whole time Woodsly eyed them with distrust the moment their backs weren't turned to him. None of them actually pulled anything, so he figured that they weren't too bad at that time; though part of him felt like he had spotted one of the youngsters before....but he couldn't place it. Probably some lingering leftover of Wilson in his head.

He'd also finally figured out what beast he was going to do. It came about in a funny way and actually had just occurred when he was heading home. A stray dog that was clearly starving had gone for some poor fool's fresh meat from the butcher. Despite how bone thin the creature was, it was fierce and the man was clearly startled by it; even more so when they were trying to retrieve their purchase from the beast, they got a nasty bite for the stupid act. Dogs were descended from wolves, there was still that fierce and savage nature within them. It was just buried deeper down...

It oddly fit Woodsly. So, he took a small detour and found himself having to get on the good side of a different stray that just needed some food and it would go back to being all friendly. Easy to get the fur off as he petted the thick furred canine. What he didn't count on was the dog following him the whole back to Astrid's place.

"Shoo, go on!" Woodsly ordered as he reached the door, waving a hand to try and shoo the dog away.

IT didn't budge, just staring up at his hand as if he was hiding a bone in it or something. A sigh left Woodsly as he opened the door and the darn canine rushed past him. A audiable curse left the red head as the dog started to sniff around.

"Out!" Woodsly snapped at the dog but they paid him no mind as they went over to Astrid, sniffing her and staring up at her wantingly.

The dog was a Siberian husky, potentially with a bit of something else in it but diluted enough that it didn't affect the over all look of the canine. They sported the traditional black and white coat but sported brown eyes instead of the common blue. Their tail gave a few wags as a whine left the canine.

"Not really the intention when I gave them something to eat." Woodsly started to say to Astrid. "Was getting some fur off of em and they kept following."


Offline Firesblood

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Halfway through the week, something got through Astrid’s wards again.  When she went to check what had happened, she found the bear that used to be Benjamin sitting on his haunches and waiting for her.  The woman was less than enthused, and managed another half-hearted scolding, but the bear simply stared at her, then pushed his expansive head against her front and stayed there like a child waiting for a hug.  That did it. 

Astrid reset the ward without sending him away and brought him back.  After eating his fill of her entire stock of smoked fish and a couple of apples, the bear settled himself on the small porch (leaving only a very small path to get to the door) and went to sleep, immediately at ease.  She later coaxed him into the barn for the night, but the bear returned promptly to the porch once she came outside to work. 

Woodsly managed to get the building fixed up and ready to act as his workshop, she knew, and she also knew that he had been able to find help with it, something that she was grateful for. 

When Woodsly came home, the last thing she expected was for a dog to bolt through the door and come right up to her.  Her eyes immediately lit up with joy and she promptly knelt to give the dog scratches behind the ear, shooting Woodsly an excited look.  It was the first real grin he would have seen, and a previously unknown detail became evident; Astrid was a dog person. “Oh my, hello beautiful!  Who are you?  Don’t you dare listen to him, you are most welcome.”

She urged the dog to follow and sliced some meat from the roast she’d smoked earlier and filled one of her bowls with water, offering them both to the dog. “There.”
 
Woodsly’s comment that he hadn’t expected to be followed home made her chuckle.  “I don’t blame them.  They look a bit rough, and far too thin.  I doubt they have had much kindness from anyone until you,” she said warmly, looking back down at the dog and giving them a few more scratches.  “Sweet pup.  We’ll take good care of you.”

She straightened and met Woodsly’s eyes.  “So you’ve chosen to become a dog?  A great choice, especially for this area, and an admirable creature to boot.”  She studied him.  “You are ready for the transformation?”


Offline readlliea

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Seeing the bear around certainly took some getting used to, though the information that they were once a person helped out a great deal. Considering the incident in his past, bears did put some fear into him. He knew they were powerful and deadly. Though maybe the information that Benjamin probably wouldn't do him harm since he was close to Astrid might've helped too. Hard to say.

Woodsly was more surprised at Astrid's reaction to the stray dog, how she immediately started to fan over them and seeing that smile, Woodsly couldn't help but start to smile. It was rare for him to do a smile, but hey. He was glad that she wasn't upset about the dog that had suddenly shown up. The husky on the other hand was loving the attention, tail wagging and quickly following Astrid around when she gestured for them to.

"There's a lot of strays in Nome, rejected dogs that were breed to be sled dogs that didn't make the cut, owners dying suddenly and no one takes in the pet. Makes sense they're in rough shape." Woodsly agreed. "Welp, if you're okay with the dog then I won't try to get em to go back."

A shrug of defeat left him. The dog had quickly finished their food and was already back to trotting around, sniffing the place in curiosity before returning to Astrid. Which they were very happy to receive the additional attention.

"Yep, figured it would be a good way to throw all of em for a loop too. Should've seen this guy try to get his purchase from teh butcher back, man went pale as sheet when a different stray dog bite him for it." Woodsly replied.


Offline Firesblood

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At the mention of other stray dogs, Astrid looked back down at the one he'd brought home, then around the cabin.  If she had more room, she might have tried to sneak into town just to coax a few more of them back, but alas.  She pet the dog for a few more moments and then put one of her spare blankets down near the hearth for them to sleep on. 

"We'll need to think of a name," she commented lightly.  She nodded when Woodsly mentioned the other dog.  "It's dangerous to get between a dog and what he wants.  It's fitting."

Astrid crossed back to him, and held her hand out for the fur.  "I'll take the offering and prepare the ritual if you're ready.  Before we do this, remember that you will need to strike a balance once it's done.   Do not neglect to change your form every so often, but also remember that if you spend too much time as a dog, you'll start to feel like you won't want to change back."