|Forum → Streitstadt|
|Sniggy Posted: Sep Sep 26 2014, 03:10 PM|
| It's a cold night, as most Autumnal evenings in Streitstadt often are.
Outside, a thin sliver of moon basks the cobbled paths in a pale light, whilst a wandering breeze sweeps up crisp leaves on the streets, spreading a finger numbing chill.
Inside the local tavern, however, the scene is a stark contrast; the air is heavy with pipe smoke and the welcoming warmth of an open fire. The townsfolk are packed around tables and gathered beneath the aged timbers, stained over time with tobacco ash and many a spilled drink. Their banter fills the room with a steady thrum of noise, occasionally interjected by a raucous laugh or the creaking of floorboards from the rooms above.
From behind the bar counter, Brandy mops her brow. With just herself tending to the customers, she's working up quite a sweat. Every now and then, as people come and go, a short gust of cool air slips through the doorway and grants some temporary respite from the heat, but it's just that - temporary. She casts a longing glance towards the entrance, wishing dearly for an excuse to take five moments to herself.
The heavyset door gives a small creak as the wood gives a little when the cast iron handle is turned. The door opens with a gust of cold evening wind and nearby candles flicker violently as the draft scurries through the room.
It's as though her prayers are heard. Her eyes lock onto the doorway and, inwardly, she hopes that it's someone like Father Aberdeen or Eberhardt, there to drag her away on some manner of excursion. Anything would be better than this, right now.
In trots a familiar, surly-looking Irishman, bending his head and shoulders in order to fit in the doorframe. His boots are caked with both dry and fresh mud, and dotted with tufts of sticky grass.
"Howya," Callahan greets a few familiar menfolk near the door, then makes for the counter.
Brandy's face falls. Almost anything would be better than this, she mentally corrects herself. Almost anything. She fights the urge to drag her palm down her face, instead choosing the work her frustration out by polishing some tarnished mugs.
In a few freakishly long strides, Callahan is at the bar, and slings a rough leather bag on the counter with a dull whump.
�Evenin',� she huffs with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Her head cocks to the side in a display of vague curiosity, eyeing up the bag he so unceremoniously dumps before her. �If that bleeds on me� counter, I swears ta' high Heaven��
"... ye'll wot? Clean it well angrily?" Callahan scoffs. "'s jes' a pair o' rabbits, skinn'd an' roll'd in paper, th' usual. Do 'em up nicely, there's a good girl."
�I'll mop it up wi'that daft head a' yours.� She puffs, indignantly. She slips the bag open and she pulls out the parcels, feeling the weight of them in hand. �Bit on the small side, ain�t they?�
"Hopin' fer scraps, puppy?"
The young woman snorts and rolls her eyes. She gave up some time ago on demanding he cease calling her that. �I ain�t the one who comes knockin� round here, lookin' ta' be fed.� She lightly scolds.
"I bring me own lunchmeat, girlie," Callahan simply says, as if it justifies just about everything. He pulls out a chair with the toe of his boot and plops down at the bar with all the entitlement of a regular.
�Yar�, yar�,� Her back is already turned to him before he can even finish, the words sort of droning off into a vaguely agrivating garble. �Don�t think I'm cookin' you up anything special with these. Feels like I�ll have ta� scrape the bones on �em for anything good.� Brandy remarks, patting one of the parcels with the back of her hand.
"Then make soup," Callahan replies curtly. "Be a biteen resours'ful, aye?"
�How�s about yeh� stop givin� me lip or I�ll be draggin� yer boney arse off that stool an� inta� the kitchen ta� make it yer�self, eh?� The woman shoots him a surly frown before shaking her head and retreating out the back. �Keep yer� britches on, a�right?�
Callahan simply grins noiselessly at her retreating back and leans on his elbows over the bar counter. He ought not to heckle the girl so much lest Father Eberhardt have his hide, but it would be easier if she weren't so easily bristled.
Of course, Brandy knows that she doesn�t particularly help herself out, but - damn it all - the man�s such a pain in her arse. Already being in a less than chipper mood, she just isn�t up to humouring his bothersome natter. So, after a short while looming over a hot stove, she returns with a bowl of thick, filling stew for him, resisting the temptation to dump it on his head.
"Cheers," he says, because he might be a few stones' throws away from being completely reprehensible, but that won't erase a minimum of good manners.
She slides it down in front of him and entertains the idea of spilling it down his front. The thought brings a snide grin to the corner of her mouth, which she quickly masks with a brush of her knuckles.
�S�best I could do. An� here I was, almost thinkin� yous were� a good hunter,� Brandy quips.
"I don' decide how fat th' game grows, do I? Maybe someone's been havin' midnight snacks far too often," he trails off, picking up a serviet to fold on his lap.
Somehow, she gets the feeling that�s a dig at her. She�d woken up enough times with a bloody mouth and skin in her teeth to know that her �other� self liked to indulge in rawer foods. It used to make her feel sick to her stomach, but now it barely garners a squeamish cringe.
�Yeah, well�� Brandy�s glad for a moment�s distraction as a customer orders up a drink, busying herself with pouring out a pint from one of the enormous ale casks behind. Still, her mind wanders and she has to wonder if she really is spoiling the game in the nearby area.
Fairly pleased with the food, and more moreso that the girl has shut her trap, Callahan quietly enjoys the decent stew, content with the warmth it provides. The smell of tobacco ignites a nagging need to pull out his pipe soon as he can.
It's true he comes to the bar for mostly practical reasons; dinner and the occasional company, showing his face to the locals so he won't be alienated in a potential withchunt.
However, he's found it useful to watch the wolf girl as of late. He'd more or less grudgingly accepted she was off-limits for what he discerned as mostly sentimental reasons on behalf of the clergy. Father Eberhardt, in particular, keeps vigil over the girl in hope of a future cure.
Even if there was one such nonsensical toss, it still wouldn't fix much.
Still, he wanted to make sure she wouldnt turn into a threat, wouldn't start glorifying her curse the way so many other beasts had begun their murderous paths, wanted to make sure the fear of God (or the lynch mob) kept her firmly in her place behind the counter.
Fortunately for Callahan, there isn�t much work he has to do, in that respect.
One of the only reasons Brandy even stays put in the town and doesn�t cave to her feral self, stalking off to prowl beneath the trees, is that she has little to no love for that part of herself. The werewolf in her had driven her from her home. It makes her a target of prejudice and fear to anyone who knows about it. It hurts her, as the scars that litter her body are evidence of. Lycanthropy is a curse and that�s all it�s ever been to her. Not a tool of �power�.
Yet, where she can, the woman does her best to utilise her situation for the greater good. But, every time the wolf takes over, she has to wonder what she�ll wake up to the next day. How long until she makes a fatal mistake?
Brandy shakes herself, realising she�s been staring down the brass handle of a tap for the past five minutes.
"Waitin' fer somethin' t'do, girl?" Callahan prods.
�Wh-� She whips around to look at him, rather startled. �Auch! No, I jus�-� Brandy dusts her apron down for no reason, then settles two scrunched fists on the round of her hips.
�...Yeh� s�pose there�s something out there, maybe? Aside from�� She doesn�t say it, but she nods her head to the side, hoping that he�s quick enough to catch on. With all the customers around, she has to keep a tight lid on her speech.
Callahan inconspicuously finishes off the bigger pieces of meat in the stew.
"There's always somethin' ou' there," he replies noncommittally.
That�s true enough. They only knew half of it, too. These days, it seems as though a new spook turns up every other day. Things never used to be so bad, not even when Brandy first arrived.
She creases the corner of her lips and sighs. �Yeah, I s�pose.�
"Bu' somethin's actin' a spook lately," Callahan says hushedly into his spoon. "Th' usual trails're barren."
Brandy�s dark brows flick upward, her attention caught. She sidles up closer to the counter so that she doesn�t have to speak above the din. �It�s that bad?�
"No. Jus' means somethin's claimin' territory."
She frowns. �Tha�s bad.� Anything large enough to scare off the local game is trouble, supernatural or not.
"'s nature," Callahan reiterates. "Or, maybe it ain't. Don' kno' fer sure yet."
�Well, if it ain�t, then we�ve got a problem, eh?� The young woman puffs, irritated by the man�s lack of audible concern. �Yer� one�a them hunter-tracker types - why don�t yeh� make use a� yer�self an� figure it out?�
"Daft bint. Wh' d'ye think 'm always muddyin' up yer floors? Dat dirt ain't from th' graveyard."
�Cus� yer� an arse who don�t need an e�scuse past wantin� ta� boil me blood?� She accuses, jabbing a finger at his lapel.
"Guilty 's charg'd," he says unashamedly and slaps her finger away. "If'n ye mus' kno'; I been sniffin' 'round, bu' it takes time t'fin' somethin' wot's got its mind on no' bein' foun'."
If Callahan was the one to be finding it, she couldn�t say that she blamed it. And she wouldn�t - not aloud, anyway. Brandy�s hand retracts and she leans her palms on the counter instead, drumming the hard, polished wood with her stubby nails. �Well? Have yeh� found anythin� at all?�
"Nothin' conclusive. It ain't done much instea' a' fillin' space and rubbin' bark offa th' trees. I got half a mind t'go ou' t'night, bu' I been well noisy ou' there lately tha' I might stay quiet a days," Callahan grumbles and pushes the empty bowl aside. He then angles a look at her. "Yous better no' be stirrin' up trouble in th' meanwhile," he admonishes.
She matches his almost condescending glare with a glower of her own. �An� what�s tha� s�posed ta� mean, eh? It�s not like I gots a choice, sometimes, an� yeh� damn well know that.�
"Lock yeself inna cellar. Make use o' a dog's collar an' leash. Do som'thin' aside from sittin' on yer bed an' goin' moony," Callahan sneers.
A touch of red wells up in the woman�s cheeks and, with cautious glances, she checks that nobody caught on to what he was saying. Quickly, she snatches up the lanky man�s earlobe between her fingers and pinches it hard, yanking him forward a bit. When she speaks, her voice is thick with reprimand.
�Listen, you, pipe it down, alright? When�re yeh� gunna� learn yeh� can�t jus� go running� yer� trap hows yeh� like around here, huh?�
Callahan makes a stifled noise in between a yelp and a surly growl before planting a hand on the edge of the bar and whipping his ear out of the girl's grabby fingertips.
"Awfully handsy t'night," he sneers, and rubs a hand over his ear. "Wh' happen'd t' 'touch me an' I'll bite ye stick off?'"
�I ain�t never said nothin� bout not slappin� yeh� around.� She retorts, satisfied to have raised his ire. Lord knew he deserved it, at least in her eyes.
"Suspect'd ye'd become tha' sort o' slag when ye grew up, dint I?" Callahan replies tartly.
Brandy visibly bristles. Her cheeks turn the colour of beets as anger and embarrassment rapidly seethe inside of her, shoulders arching up like an offended cat. Without a second�s hesitation, she winds her arm back and strikes him firmly on the jaw with the flat of her palm, which elicits a very audible �thwap� of a sound.
A few heads turn, eyebrows lifted.
Callahan's included, though the expression is only lightly mixed with anger, while the predominant feeling seems to be incredulous humour.
Someone coughs awkwardly.
�Get out right now, so help me God-�
A finger juts towards the door in demand, whilst the other shakes and flexes down by her side, out of sight. She�d packed more punch into that slap than she originally anticipated.
"No worries, puppy," Callahan says, oddly cheekily. "Y'seem a bit... wound up. Sure hope y'get t'relax t'night, eh?" He pushes himself off the stool. "We'll see on th' morrow, won' we?"
He grins and nods at the other, mildly stupefied customers, and sticks his hands into the murky depths of his coat pockets as he makes for the door.
Brandy watches his every step, her eyes narrowed in the hopes that he�ll feel the daggers stabbing at his scrawny neck. When the door finally swings shut, she swallows a lump down in her throat. His words rattle in the front of her mind - what did he mean by all of that? Was that a threat?
She doubts very much that she�ll be getting any shut eye tonight.
|Sniggy Posted: Sep 30 2014, 03:59 AM|
| battle of the accents: the rp
The tavern is always fairly quiet in the afternoons. Quiet enough that Brandy can sometimes slip out for fifteen minutes or so for a spell of fresh air and respite from scrubbing tables. But, as fate would have it, today is not such a day. The farmers had indulged in their usual post-harvest celebrations the night before and, as per usual, left the tavern in quite a state.
Brandy takes a break from sweeping the floors and leans her weary brow against the round of the broom handle. �Auch��
The door creaks and opens without any other warning.
Callahan trots in and sweeps a stare over the state of the tavern.
"Been rough-housin' it have ye, girlie?"
The broom slips as she startles from the unexpected intrusion and fumbles to catch it, only to have the wooden bar smack her square on the nose.
�Auch! Y-yeh� arse!� Brandy claps her hand over her face and rubs the humming appendage, shooting Callahan a disgruntled squint. �What�dya� want?�
"Jus' enjoyin' th' show," he grins and drags the sleek whalebone pipe out of his pocket.
�Funny.� She grumbles and sniffs sharply, creasing the bridge of her nose. �There ain�t nothin� ta� see here.�
"Hrm, ye'd think so," Callahan remarks and stuffs the pipe. "Been out an' aboot lately?"
The woman ducks down to pick up the broom again, all the while passing the man with a strange look. �...No�?�
"Hrm," Callahan grunts. "Tha's unfortunate."
�Is it?� She asks, sweeping a little patch of floor at the toes of her feet.
"Neveryoumin'," he replies blithely. "Wet th' tea, aye?"
Her shoulders slump. �The stove at yer� place broken or somethin�?� She shakes her head, not taking the request with any seriousness. �I�ve got enough ta� do as it is without bein� yer� tea maid.�
Callahan simply walks to the bar and sits down. He wrestles the coat off and places it on the neighboring stool with a certain sense of brazen stubbornness.
�Oh. Fine. Jus� make yer�self at home or somethin� then, Christ almighty.�
Brandy gives the floor an aggressive brush, channeling her irritation into something productive. �What do yeh� want, anyway? Yeh� ain�t jus� here ta� shoot pleasantries.� At least, she assumes as much. She�s fairly convinced that the man would rather skin her and use her hide as a rug sooner than be civil.
"Lunch," Callahan replies and lights the pipe.
From behind him, there�s a loud sound of crabby groaning. �Can�t yeh� flippin� well feed yer�self fer� once?�
"Wot, ye don' wan' t'earn yer keep?" Callahan asks faux-innocently and puffs on the pipe until it starts smoldering. "No' my fault y'made bein' in th' kitchen yer day job, innit?"
�Nar�, but see - it ain�t my fault that yer� a flippin� demandin� man-child who�s Ma ne�r bothered ta� teach ta� boil an egg, now is it?� Brandy scorns and purposefully drops the broom against a wooden support beam before stomping her way behind the counter.
"I wouldnae want t' miss ou' on yer darlin' disposition, pup," Callahan replies smoothly. "Misery loves comp'ny an' all tha' bollocks."
All Brandy can muster in response is testy roll of her eyes, figuring she�d be better of saving her breath. Without a word, she vanishes off into the kitchens to throw together something edible, though the temptation to spit in his tea crops up once or twice. It�s with great willpower that she resists and forces herself to return moments later, bearing a plate of scrambled eggs and buttered bread. �Tha�s all yer� gettin�, so no gripe�n.�
"I don' ken I kno' wot yer cnawvshawling 'bout, luv. Yer scran's fine."
�Lord �n� Mercy, a compliment.� She crows in surprise, setting down a tarnished mug of dark tea beside it, the brew still swirling from where she�d been stirring.
"Don' have much energy t'play ructions t'day pup. 'm shagg'd from runnin' up an' down th' woods all nights," the Irishman replies and starts to tuck in.
Brandy decides to take advantage of this opportunity to garner some manner of conversation from the man that isn�t hedged with animosity. �Lookin� fer� that beasty, I takes it?�
"'course. Wou'dn't want ye t' think 'm a wojus hunter, now wou'd I?"
�An� have yeh� found anythin� that�d convince me a� that?� She questions, tipping her head to the side.
Callahan calmly puts the pipe down and reaches for the tea.
"Dere's ano'er wolf ou' there."
The woman�s eyes light up, flashing a mixture of interest and fear. �What?�
"Jus' stay home fer no' an' have yer monthly inside. Dat's no' a polite request."
�Wh-� As quick as it appeared, the look falls from her features, leaving her with a familiar frown. �Yeh� can�t be serious! Where am I gunna� hole me�self up, huh? I can�t do that! An�, what if-�
�What if it�s one a� me pack?�
"Don' th' tavern have a cellar, aye?" Callahan replies sternly.
Brandy scoffs. �Aye, fulla� booze an� all sorts I could break, an� how does I explain that, eh?� She waves her hand dismissively at the idea. �I ain�t lockin� me�self up in the town, it�s too risky. Yeh� know people have no idea about me an� I�m keepin� it tha� way, alright?�
�Besides,� She adds, bracing her palms against the edge of the counter. �If it�s someone like...like me, then��
Callahan sends her a strict look.
"Then ye stay at home like a good human girl. Y'wanna prove y'aint worthy pumpin' fulla lead? Stay at home, lemme handle this."
She returns the glare in kind, pinching her fingers against the bar in frustration. �I ain�t gunna� jus� let yeh� trounce off an� go shootin� up a storm! Yeh� could be killin� someone I know, fer cryin� out loud!�
Long fingers rap against the wooden counter like a daddy-long-legs doing an angry tap-dance.
"It's gone feral y'infernal li'l rossie. Y'won' know it any longer."
�Oh, an� yer� the authority on these things, are yeh? How�d d�yeh know what�ll be what before I even try, huh? I ain�t jus� gunna� give up on someone who was like family ta� me!� She argues, pressing her thumb to her chest.
"Y'listen here y'little harpy; it ain't jes' abou' yer precious feelin's alright? A feral wolf near a coven o' vampires always spell trouble. It's practically a recipe fer distaster a' this point."
�I know better than you jus� how much trouble that is, alright!?�
"No ye fockin' don'! Feral wolves don' kno' when t'stop actin' like a beast. Th' line's blurr'd, thinn'd out. They were playin' wi' ye, tryin' a' break ya into some sort o' little obedient pet. Ye did good, comin' ou' wi' yer head on straight. Ish. Y'see, vampires got an unearthly affinity wi' beasts, an' shou'd they fin' a feral wolf, they'd damn well use it t' create their own little coop o' faithful doggies in their backyard."
Callahan puffs on the pipe, looking at Brandy with a mix of anger and seriousness.
"It ain't unusual fer 'em t'send wolves out to thin out th' game around huntin' towns. Or patrollin' th' roads. Makin' people wander longer, deeper, further away. Makin' 'em easier prey. Makin' it impossible t'leave town."
The young woman wants badly to retort, but she can�t seem to dig out the words to express her complete outrage. She grits her teeth and slams her palm on the bar, hard enough that the plate and mug rattle. Her back turns to Callahan as Brandy paces away a few steps, taking her time to compose her thoughts.
�Then- then tha�s all the more reason I should go!� She barks. �If tha�s really someone I care about out there, I ain�t lettin� them bastards use em� like a- like some sorta� puppet on strings, yeh� hear?�
Callahan sends her an unimpressed look.
"Wot, y'gonna off 'em yourself?"
�Better than at the hands a� someone like you,� she utters beneath her breath. But the thought chills her to the bone. Could she seriously do something like that, even as a mercy?
A soft puff of smoke rises to the ceiling. The tobacco smells like dry moss.
"Y'know I coulda jes' no' tol' ye."
The comment gives her pause and, with a tightly knit brow, she glances over her shoulder at the man. He was right.
�...Look, jus�-� She�s loathed to plead with Callahan, but the news of another werewolf was important enough to warrant it. �At least let me come with yeh�.�
A sigh, and a creased brow is her surprisingly calm and un-stubborn answer.
"Aye. As a human, wot. Y'might have an easier time trackin' 'im. Bu' no funny business, lass. 'm bringin' m'rifle neverth'less."
�Wh- really?� Brandy had hardly expected him to concede so effortlessly.
"Yer ain't goin' alone, thas' fer fockin' sure."
She can settle for that. �Don�t go shootin� �em, lest tha�s what it comes down to. Can yeh� promise me just that one thing?�
"Depends. Are ye' goin' t'decide when it's th' last measure?" Callahan asks her skeptically.
Brandy can already feel the weight of such a duty kneading on her conscience. Her other self might have played judge and executioner to a number of innocent, woodland creatures, but for the human side to decide whether a person - and werewolves are people - should live or die�
�Yeah, I-...I�ll do it.� She mutters, but is unable to look him in the eye.
"We'll see, won' we?"
She murmurs a sound of affirmation, grinding her teeth in apprehension.
�When�re yeh� gunna� go track them down?�
"T'night. I got a good lead on th' edge o' their territory. They took down a deer yesternight, so they'll be layin' low t'night, eatin'."
�Alrigh�.� She nods, more for herself than for him, still in the process of steeling herself for the task at hand. �I�ll have ta� cook up some excuse ta� leave the tavern.� Her arms cross over her chest and she clutches onto each elbow tight. �Yeh� dare go runnin� off without me an yous�ll have Hell ta� pay for.�
"Maybe ye'll work up th' guts t'spit in me tea, yeah?" Callahan replies, amused. "Save yer bristles fer tonight, won' ye?"
�Don�t go temptin� fate.� Brandy scowls, but she�s inwardly thankful for the return to a normal tone of banter.
There's blessed silence for a good while, save for Callahan working his way through the meal. When he's done, he pushes the plate aside and sticks the pipe back in his mouth.
"Y'kno'... if'n yer pack really were ou' there, they shoulda gone ta town a long time ago. It don' make sense fer ya t'cling to such a feeble hope," he says, the honesty of the statement no less brutal considering who it's coming from.
For a time, she doesn�t answer, the hush lasting long enough that it might make anyone think she has nothing to say. Yet, as she busies herself with running a rag around the lip of a dirty glass, she eventually finds the words she�s looking for.
"Y'cannae let it cloud yer judg'ment, pup," Callahan says, in probably the closest tone of voice he'll ever come to 'sympathetic'.
It�s jarring enough that she actually looks over to him, wondering what in Earth and Heaven has come over the man to quell his abrasive manner.
He sends her a meaningful look back.
"... 'cos if ye do, yer a liability, y'unnerstand?"
�I thought I already was?� She questions, picking at the corner of the cloth in hand. There�s something very frank and honest about her tone.
"No' in th' eyes o' th' clergy, yer no'," Callahan admits gruffly.
�But yous� see it otherwise, I know.�
"Everyone's got their own eyes, don' we?" comes the vague reply.
�An� opinions ta� match.� she quips.
"Opinions won't shoot ye."
�People don� shoot yeh� lest they got opinions.� That was her experience of it. Very few people in the world had chosen to show her kindness over the barrel of a gun or the point of a knife, once they figured out the dog�s bite matched it�s bark. Travelling had never been easy.
"I s'pose y'shou'd tell them Americans t'ban opinions instead, aye?"
�Yeah, well. This ain�t America.� Brandy snorts and returns to burnishing the dull glass. �Can�t say I e�r been there, actually.�
"'s like here. Bu' bigger. An' a bit mo' obnoxious. They jus' seem t'like tellin' themselves they's diff'rent. Dunno wot's that about."
Callahan shrugs and sucks on the pipe before letting out a stream of white smoke from the side of his mouth.
"Got th' same sorts a problems too."
�So you�ve been there, then?� She�d travelled far and wide across Europe, but America was always that stretch too difficult for her pack to reach. �Bit far fer� a paddy like you, ain�t it?�
"I go where th' problems are," Callahan replies non-informatively. "Prob'ly why ye won' see me leave here fer a while, puppy."
�Those problems yeh� dealt with bein� folk like me, I takes it.� Whilst blood had never tied her to any werewolves, there was always a sense of kinship she felt, no doubt brought on from spending years travelling with such a tight pack.
"No' jus' yer likes, bu' I suppose tha' don' mean much t'ya at this point."
�Yeh�ll have ta� forgive me fer� not seein� things eye-ta-eye.� She murmurs, setting the glass down behind the counter with a soft clink. �I don�t see monsters.�
"No, y'see people thinkin' they can be cur'd. Y'ain't th' first I met like that."
More smoke trails to the ceiling, dissipating into seemingly nothingness.
�An� I believe �em.�
She watches the plumes of ashy grey waft up to the rafters. �Father Neeson were pretty sure a� it.�
"He wou'd. What lovin' God wou'dn't leave �poor sinners a chance at redemption?" The tone is� carefully neutral.
A well played move, on his part. Father Neeson, a priest - but oddly enough, not a werewolf - had been her pack�s Alpha, of sorts. He�d looked after them, kept them safe and out of trouble. Watched over them when the moon would work it�s tricks on their bodies. She had and still has nothing but respect for the man.
�Maybe, but he were a smart man too. Logical like. He did all this research an� stuff - showed me some a� it, once, but I ne�r really understood it much. I weren�t exactly a religious sort.�
"Hrm," Callahan grunts. "Weren't."
"Y'said 'weren't', girl. Change yer mind?"
Brandy silently ruminates on her own phrasing, glancing sheepishly off to the side.
�...I s�pose, if a prayer e�ry now an� then makes yeh� religious.�
Callahan puffs out a round cloud suddenly.
"Religious, maybe. Ain't necessarily much o' a sign o' faith."
�I don�t know if yeh� noticed, but I�m cursed.� She points out, creasing her brow. �Maybe if yeh� lived a day or two in my shoes, yeh�d realise that it�s sorta� hard to have a lot a� faith.�
The Irishman shakes his head, as if he's talking to an impatient child. He crosses his legs and leans his right side against the counter.
"Faith ain't easy. It ain't s'posed t'be easy. If it was, don't ye think ev'ryone wou'd be on their knees right no'?"
�So, what, I�m jus� supposed ta� thank the Lord fer� sittin� by and not answerin� me prayers?� She asks, part in agitated accusation, part in brutal honesty.
"Prayin' is fer givin' ye peace o' mind. Fer talkin' t'someone who's always there. Ye'll fin' God a better list'ner than talker," Callahan says with a bit of a wry smile.
�Some of us ain�t lookin� fer� a one sided natter.� The country girl sighs and, with a flick of her wrist, she tosses the rag down on a small hook, buckled and hammered into the bar shelves. �Prayin� ain�t brought me any comforts.�
"'course no'. Yer lookin' fer a miracle. They's far an' few between."
�Is that wrong to ask fer�?� There�s a tinge of desperation in her voice and she settles into an uneasy posture. �Ta� jus� be normal again?�
"It's no' likely t'happen. Y'can't keep livin' like it's goin' ta," Callahan replies blankly, keeping as little of his normal accusation in his voice as possible. It's been nice to sit down after the long hours tracking in the wood. He's not wanting to be thrown out just yet.
�Then what, hm? Yeh� have an answer ta� all my problems? Gunna� tell me what I�m s�posed ta� do in the meantime?� It�s clear that Brandy�s frustration has been piqued, once more, her temper as unpredictable as the weather.
"Ev'rytime ye run ou', yer riskin' yer teeth in someone's neck," Callahan says curtly. "Th' very least yer 's'posed ta' do is chain yerself down in a cellar er room somewhere. Ye wouldn't shove a nasty cough in someone's face,wou'dya?"
He puffs on the pipe again, trying to keep the smoulder alive a little longer.
"Yer a walkin' carrier, pup."
�I know what I am!� She hardly needs reminding. �But I can be of use. I am of use! Ta� the clergy, an� I�m tryin�-�
"Tryin' ta prove somethin'?" Callahan cuts in, insidiously.
�What do you think?� She snaps, quashing the urge to bare her teeth as the animal inside tries to peer through the veil. �No- don�t answer that. I don�t care.�
With that, Brandy abruptly grabs up the empty plate. �I think yeh� best go.�
"Hrmm," Callahan groans.
�Tonight.� She speaks up before passing the threshold to the kitchen. �Yeh� keep yer� promise.�
The life in the pipe flickers out. Callahan sighs and empties the tobacco in a nearby ashtray.
"Y'demand a lot, fer someone who don' much like lookin' at their own reasons fer doin' so."
He stands up and rolls his sharp shoulders a couple times.
�I demand jus� enough.�
Brandy turns on her heels and disappears out of sight, leaving the creaky old wooden door to swing on its hinges.
|Sniggy Posted: Oct 2 2014, 09:22 AM|
|more of these dumb babbies|
|Sniggy Posted: Oct 2 2014, 09:22 AM|
| Leaves rattle in a susurrant chorus when a bristling wind none too gently rushes through the clearing outside the clergy's housings. Callahan locks his door with a slam and a metal jingle that's hardly noticeable over the sound of the wood in the shed complaining and creaking as it's shoved and bullied by the wind.
He sticks the heavy key in his pockets where it falls against the leather tobacco pouch. He's got a bag slung over his shoulders along with his rifle and a knife packed into his boot; he's never been good up and close, so he's hoping he won't have to wait long for Brandy's bleeding heart allowing him to aim.
He stalks through the clearing and makes for the trail leading back to the town. They've not exactly arranged much of a time and place, so the girl better be ready to up and leave at any time.
She�d had the forethought to linger by the town gate and waits impatiently for Callahan�s stick-like figure to emerge down the hilly path. Without any fur to keep her warm tonight, she�s slung on a thick, oversized coat over her petite frame, conceals a small, but sharp knife in the breast pocket. If trouble is to be expected - and it is - she at least desires to be prepared.
�Where is he��
The gate opens with a wail of rusty metal behind her.
"Ye here, on th' doss?" Callahan prompts as he keeps the gate open for her.
�I�m not the one dossin� around. I thought yeh� finished tendin� the graves an hour ago!� She grouses, slipping herself through the gate.
"I reckon I'd treat ya an' make me own tea t'night," he replies impudently. "Hope ye got an' extra pair o' knickers on, th' wind's bitin' t'night."
She groans, though it�s masked by the louder complaining of the gate�s haggard hinges. �I thought I smelt burnin� on the breeze.� She tromps ahead a few steps, the boots on her feet much too thick and clumsy looking on her. At least she won�t get soaked through with mud. �An� why�d yah� think I�m wrapped up for?�
"Maybe ye thought I was gon' roll ye all th' ways into th' woods. Lord knows those stubby gams won't keep up fer long," Callahan retorts and eyes her legs dismissively before setting off into a brisk gait.
A cloud of condensed breath mists the air in front of Brandy�s nostrils as she puffs after him, having to half-jog just to catch up with Mr.Lanky limbs. �Yeh� mind slowin� it down a tad then, yeh� arse?�
"We've no time t'lose. pup," Callahan replies with a merciless grin.
They reach the fringe of the forest, and Callahan turns onto the rough walking paths that leads into the rockier parts of the forests, the ones that lean into the mountain supporting the notorious home of the darker inhabitants of Knochenwalde.
It�s quite the trek and, far more accustomed to bounding the forest with a canine-like physique, Brandy quickly finds the ascent up the steep hill to be a challenge. Rather than give Callahan the satisfaction of knowing she�s struggling, however, the stubborn girl presses on with a forceful determination.
�So- how far...exactly is this spot- eh?
"Far enough tha' ye better have eaten well tonight," Callahan replies, keeping a steady walk as he scales the incline of the stony road. "We'll be walkin' quite a roundabout ways t'stay ou' o' th' perimeter o' th' Villa," he explains.
She peers down to her stomach. That information would have been useful a few hours ago. Before she can complain at him for it, the mention of the dreaded Villa catches her attention in full.
�Good. I don�t wanna� be anywhere near tha� place��
"Put a leg to it, puppy," Callahan admonishes and strides over a mossy rock like it was a mere pebble.
�I- ain�t a--� Said mossy rock proves more of a boulder for the tiny woman, in comparison. She has to really arch her leg to get a foothold on it, pushing herself over as the spongy green growth lets out a faint squelch under boot. �--damn pup!�
"Sure y'are. Barely wet behin' yer ears an' all."
Callahan makes to walk down the hill, easily traversing the jutting rocks as he's evidently walked this way at least a few times. Pine trees spread their triangular branches overhead like thick curtains, and conceal them from the supernatural eagle-eyes that might be watching from the eerie castle far away.
It�s not much more than a set of thin, angular spires from this distance, but the distinct shape of it is clearly visible above the blanket of tightly knit tree tops. It makes Brandy want to recoil. She does her best to ignore that dark blotch on the horizon and tails after the huntsman, skidding occasionally on stray patches of water logged moss and dirt.
They treck in silence for at least twenty minutes or so, and the landscape has become progressively less 'hilly' and decidedly more 'huge boulders and cliffy walls-y'. Callahan makes a stop under a tallish grey flint rock formation, pulling out his pipe as he leans against the sleek surface.
"Take a breather, puppy," he advises the tiny, round silhouette coming up in the distance.
�Oh- thank God.� She wheezes, staggering over to flop herself over a large, flat rock. Her breaths come out in choppy rasps and she rolls her head to the side, squinting up at Callahan. �How much further?�
As he pulls out his tobacco pouch, he sends her an unimpressed once-over.
"Far enough that I reckon I oughta leave ye here."
�L-look, I jus� need a moment, alright?� Her arm raises to the air and waves at him before slumping back down over her chest. �I ain�t used ta� runnin� far like this on me human legs.�
"Oh? An' here y'are, every day compainin' abou' how much runnin' I make ye do at th' tavern. Figures," he says, and lights up a match. The little flicker of fire sends large swatches of shadows dancing violently up the cliff wall behind him.
Brandy watches as they twist and pull, looking like thin, shadowy creatures with a life of their own. It reminds her a little of times spent around campfires, tucked beneath overhanging rock faces, streaked with lines from years worth of rain. Idly, she hums.
The light flickers out as quickly as it came to life, and only the dull embers from the pipe can be glimpsed.
Callahan puffs on the pipe, offhandedly listening to Brandy's melodious noises.
Eventually, she sits up and adjusts her coat collar, pulling it up to shield her cheeks from the wind. It�s a lot sharper now and whistles a shrill tone as it buffets through gaps in the craggy stones.
�Can�t say I�ve ventured this far out without bein� all tooth an� claw before��
"Little girls shou'dn't be out this far," Callahan says blandly and sucks on the pipe.
�I ain�t a lil� girl. How many times do I have ta� tell yeh� that?�
"Until ye grow up, I ken."
�D�yeh even know how old I am?� Brandy asks, tipping her head back to look up at him, unconvinced.
"Ol' enough t'write yer name." Callahan shrugs and plucks the pipe out of his mouth. "A few years off proper learnin' th' diff'rence 'tween men an' women? Don' kno', I ain't yer guardian."
�In o�er words, yeh� ain�t got a flippin� clue.� Her dark green eyes roll in their sockets. �Try twenty-somethin�, alright? So yeh� can quit babyin� me.�
Callahan squints at her, suspicious.
"Ye ain't twenny."
Bandy squints back.
"Y'still look like ye get some growin' t'do," Callahan says and looks her up and down. "Christ, ye even act like a babby, no idea how anythin' works."
Such a remark, rather than make her red faced and fuming, actually draws out a short laugh from the girl, who throws her head back and slaps her knee. �Says the man who comes ta� me cus� he don�t know how ta� feed himself!�
"Christ, puppy," Callahan shakes his head, still fixated on the ridiculous topic of Brandy's suspected age. "Bet y' cou'd cook fer yer man, bu' y' wou'd'nt know how to grab 'im."
Now that brings some colour to her face. She looks at him in alarm, scrunching her shoulders up. �Wh- tha�s none a� yer� business, yeh� damn cheek!�
"Bet yer only sayin' that 'cos there ain't any 'business'," Callahan points out like the big bully he is.
Brandy shoots to her feet, ignoring the ache that shoots up her ankles from all the walking. �What�s it matter ta� you?�
Callahan brings a hand to his mouth, poorly veiling a treacherous laugh.
"Lookit ya, all huffin' an' puffin'. Maybe ye aren't as 'aged' as ye'd like, aye?"
�Augh! Can�t I get one moment a� peace from you where yer� not tryin� to get under me� skin!?� She barks, throwing her hands to either side. �I�m aged jus� fine - thank yeh� - and I don� need yer� snarky remarks about me personal life!�
"Methinks no' enough people have tried t'get under yer skin, considerin' how hysterical y'are," Callahan suggests airily looking up into the dark and cloudy night sky, as if the answer to all of Brandy's petty personal problems were written somewhere up there.
�I�m not-!� Brandy�s quick to cut herself off, not wishing to fall further into his ploy and give him something to snigger about. She sucks in a purposefully deep breath, closing her eyes as she exhales. �Okay, no, I�m calm. I ain�t gunna� deck yer� lights out.�
"An' here I be sae sure ye fancied tha' sorts o' Fleadh," Callahan grins. "No wonder yer sae surly all th' time."
�I�m ignorin� yeh�. I ain�t listenin� no more.�
To emphasise her point, she pats her hands over where her ears are tucked somewhere beneath a curtain of reddish-brown hair.
"Very grown-up, I can see it now," Callahan chuckles, an utterly alien sound in all its rarity.
A shame Brandy can�t hear it, as she proves by arching her brows and shaking her head, drawing her lips in a thin line.
Callahan shakes his head and puffs away on his pipe. He intends to finish the tobacco well before they go off again.
They're shielded from the worst gusts of the wind here, and only little pools of leaves are swept up in tiny swirls around their feet. The earth turns more sandy the longer they walk around the cliffy hillside.
He's still a little perturbed by the reveal of Brandy's age, but supposes it'll be best to hide it behind genuine humour rather than speculate on when he'd become this out of touch with other humans.
�When yeh� said we were goin� a �round about sorta� way, I weren�t expecting this.� Brandy speaks up, shaking a leg as one bone dry leaf gets caught on the toe of her boot.
"I coulda tol' ye more, bu' ye've develop'd this funny habit o' throwin' me ou' o' th' tavern as o' late," Callahan retorts, still something of a chuckle in his voice.
�Gee, I wonder why?� Her voice drips with sarcasm.
"Lack o' foresight, evidently." A meaningful look at her tired little legs.
�Or lack a� common decency, on yer� part.� She grumbles.
"No' my fault nobody's ever thought t'tell ye th' difference between bits and bobs and bangers."
�Are yeh� still chaffin� on about that?� She moans, wondering why it even matters what she knows.
"T'wouldn't be sae bad if ye had th' inane luck t' get a stomp an' romp on a bloke. Might make it so I cou'd stay a whole two pints in th' tavern, fer once," Callahan muses and empties his pipe against the wall.
The sound Brandy elicits in one of deep disgust. �Or, yeh� know, maybe yeh� could learn to stop callin� me all manner a pleasant thin�s, like �slag� or �slapper� or whatever crap yeh� like to spout!�
"Doubtful," comes the bland, but honest answer. "Ach, well, we better get to it. Should be ano'er good walk from here."
�Maybe I oughta� start callin� yeh� a fair share a names, then, eh?� She says, stuffing her hands into the wells of her pockets. �I�m sure I can think of a whole messa� colourful things - we got all the time in the world, seems.�
"I'd be delight'd, pupmuffin," Callahan says as he starts down the progressively more invisible paths.. "Anythin' t'let off some o' dat fidgetin', aye?"
�Alrigh� then.� She gestures with a nod of her head for her oh-so-charming companion to take point. �Lead the way, yeh� ginger prick.�
"Th' carpets match th' curtains, luv," Callahan says, muffled by the wind as he takes the lead. "Nothin' weird 'bout that."
�Ech.� That�s information she�d rather not muse on. �Yer� a bag a dicks.�
"Hah! E'en tha' woud'n't be enou' fer some."
"Now yer jus' flippin' through th' dictionary, puppy," Callahan smirks from the front.
�S�wer words come from, ain�t it?� She counters, shirking her shoulders. �Leprechaun todger.�
"No' yer jus' ain't tryin."
�Sorry, what were tha�? I couldn�t hear yeh� none o�er all the dicks in yer� mouth.�
"That jealousy in yer voice?"
�I think yer� muddlin� jealousy fer� nausea.�
"Oh, yer plowin' th' fields instead?"
�Ye- wait, what?� The term goes straight over her short, scruffy little head.
"Y'like t'put yer fingers in th' honey pot."
�The ho-NO!� It takes a second, but she successfully plucks the obscure meaning out of thin air for this one. �No, that�s not what I-!�
"I understand, th' candle cove, 's a lotta fun."
�What th- what�s a can- I don�t want ta� know. I don�t want ta� know!� Brandy furiously waves her hands about, cursing how Callahan has somehow managed to turn the conversation back to his advantage.
"It's gotta be one o' th' o'er, don' it, girlie?" Callahan grins and briskly climbs a smaller, sandy hill into an area overgrown in vines and thorny bushes.
The angered woman stands at the foot of the hill and watches after him, huffing and puffing like a true wolf. �Yeh� know, fer� some self professed religious type, yeh� got a filthy mind.�
"I'm a sinner, I am," Callahan replies. "I will pay for it in time, don' ye worry. There're so few things truly good on earth. So few things no' beholden ta sin. Don' be thinkin' I dinna try to� repent."
�So, what makes yeh� think that the �sinners� yeh�ve �dealt� with,� She punctuates her words with little flicks of her fingers, all the while digging the toes of her boots into the foot holes Callahan has left behind. �are more deservin� of punishment than you are?�
"They've all abandon'd God's make, th' way we were done made by th' Lord: vampires forsakin' their souls t'become demons; wolves succumbin' t'unearthly curses, ghosts and ghouls rejectin' judgment by God--" He huffs, but only with the stress of keeping a steady, harsh walking pace without sparking into a sprint. "--I try t'do God's work, tho' it makes me a sinner worse than most; I'll be judg'd like all o'ers, girl."
Brandy directs a slightly concerned look at the back of his ginger head. �...What...God tell yeh� ta� take yer� gun out an �do his work� personally, then?�
"Nobody, y'dumb cunt. Like I said, God ain' much o' a talker," Callahan says, exasperated, and brushes aside a low-hanging branch of reddish pine-needles.
�Were jus� checkin�...� She utters before chewing on the inside of her cheek. At least he wasn�t a complete nutcase, then.
"Cute, ain' ya?" Callahan sneers, and suppresses the childish urge to let the branch swing back in her ruddy face. "Ye'd like it if I be some tosspot. Make it tha' easier t'lie t'yerself 'bout th' things I tell ya."
�I didn�t say nothin� about nothin�.� She replies, holding her palms to face his back. �But, since yeh� mention it, yeah, I do think yer� off yer� rocker.�
A twig snaps under foot.
�Ain�t no one with their head on right goes �bout without any mercy.�s
"Thas' true," Callahan replies with a chilling sense of agreement. "Ye wou'd have ta be a certain sort o' nuts t' take ano'er's life."
Brandy could blame it on the wind, but she knows that it�s his choice of words that makes her blood run cold. Suddenly, she�s very aware of the situation she�s gotten herself into. Out in the middle of nowhere, with not a soul in sight, she�s blindly following a half-crazed spook hunter to hunt down a werewolf he claims to have tracked.
She swallows. What if this is a trap?
"I be rememberin me promise, girl. See tha' y'do as well," Callahan says with a sense of finality that decrees this line of conversation firmly closed.
It comes out as a strained sound in her throat, but she hums in agreement and is glad for the subject to be dropped. Her gaze darts down to the chest pocket of her coat and, warily checking to see that all eyes are forward, she plucks out the small blade - no bigger than a letter opener - and stuffs it up her sleeve instead.
|Sniggy Posted: Oct 2 2014, 09:23 AM|
| She is lead down a barren path under browning and dying pines until they hit new patches of moss and damp grass. Over them, the pines make way for oaks and birch trees, and the forest floor becomes dotted with ferns and crawling ivy. The foliage almost completely cover up the dying trail and Callahan takes his time to lead the tiny two-person party down now-cold animal trails.
They make their way into a dense and bushy den when Callahan waves for Brandy to stop.
"We be on th' edge o' th' territory. Cannae ye stick yer nose in th' air an' take a sniff, puppy?"
When both their feet stand still and the crunching of bark and bracken ceases to echo, the air is hauntingly quiet. Where one expects to hear the chattering of evening birds or the scratchings of rabbits in their warrens, there is nothing.
Brandy coughs into the back of her hand. �I- me nose is good, but it ain�t tha� good. I can�t jus� pick it outta� the air.� There are far too many scents muddling around on the breeze; vegetation, wet earth, bark and wood rot are all distracting her senses.
Callahan crosses his arms, shortly bumping his elbow against the rifle on his back.
"Y'want'd t' come, y'gotta try an' be useful. Relax, try again. Get us'd t'the smells an' try t'pick up somethin' different."
A scoff was barely contained. Relax? Since his little �speech�, her mind has done nothing but race. She looks around herself and treads over to a thick tree trunk, running her fingers across the crackled grooves. Leaning in, she touches the tip of her nose to it and drinks in a long, wavering breath. It stinks of, unsurprisingly, wood. �...Nothin�.�
"Alright," he says, still looking mildly expectant. Her work isn't done just yet, apparently.
She peers over at him, waiting to see if he has anything to add. It doesn�t take more than a couple of seconds for her to realise that was all. Her hefty boots track through the undergrowth and she ducks down in a nearby patch of ferns to sniff the leaves. Damp, mostly. A mix of decomposing leaves and greenery. And- she pricks her head up. Callahan wasn�t lying.
Brandy tears the frond off and stands, holding it to her nostrils as she scopes the area. It�s so faint she almost thinks she�s imagining it, but there�s a strangely musky sweet smell she picks up on. Like a wet dog.
Watching her peer at the plants and move around in her several layers of clothes is almost enough to make Callahan cut a smile at her behind. He really shouldn't be encouraging her animalistic side like this, but if she must be here, she ought to learn how to make herself useful and appreciate what she is capable of in her human shape, rather than rely on the monstrous transformation.
"How ol' is it?" he asks, sounding faintly applauding.
�Uh-� She rubs the underside of her nose on the back of her sleeve, brushing off the moisture from the leaf. �Yeh� mean how ol� the scent is or how ol� the werewolf is? Cus�, either way, it�s hard ta� say.� The plant falls from her fingertips and Brandy continues on, bending, sniffing and plucking.
"Y'need t'find ou' if it been aroun' here lately or if it be holin' up somewhere with prey," Callahan instructs her.
�I think it went this way?� She calls, pointing off in the vague direction of a dense patch of bushes. �The smell ain�t strong, so I s�pose that means it were �round her a while ago?� She�s entirely uncertain, but does her best to piece it together.
"Goin' tha' way, th' wind's against us. It won' pick up our smell," Callahan surmises. He then pulls the rifle off his shoulder and opens it over his knee, preparing to load it.
Brandy does her best to ignore it, but the clacking of cartridges is still unnerving. She reminds herself that he made a promise, yet she wonders if he�s really the sort that keeps them.
The gun returns to its able state with a dull clack and Callahan repositions the bag over his shoulder.
"If ye think ye can be well quiet, lead on, puppy. I'll be havin' eyes on th' forest."
�Alright�� She isn�t exactly keen on having a loaded gun hanging about behind her, but she tries to squash down her doubts and fears. So far, things are okay. Enough.
Wading through the forest greenery like it�s a bed of water, she starts to head off to the bushes, finding the scent to grow stronger. Whoever was out there was nowhere nearby, but at least they�re heading in the right direction. �Don�t recognise the smell��
"Hrm," Callahan grunts, as if that was unimportant in the grand scheme of things. "Gettin' stronger?"
�Yar�.� She feels a small thrill at being able to pick up on it, though she wonders if that�s the dog barking and not her. �I think I can smell somethin� else, too.� Something pretty dead. There�s a tangy, metallic smell that strikes her as she presses on.
�No. No, it�s prob�ly a rabbit or somethin�.� She assumes, twitching her nose in a sharp sniff. �It�s jus� the one wolf.�
�Can smell blood. Least, I think it�s blood?� She can�t see any visible signs of bleeding, but perhaps it was hidden beneath the foliage or soaked into the earth, out of sight.
Brandy stands herself upright and stops mid track, stretching out her back muscles. �I can smell somethin� metal like. Yeh� know, like that coppery taste yeh� get when yeh� bite yer tongue. Jus�, yeh� know...scent wise.�
"Hrmmm," Callahan grumbles. "Good, very good."
�... Was that praise?� Her disbelief is genuine.
"'course. A faint smell prob'ly means our wolf's brought summat dead home an' is mo' concern'd wi' tha' than patrollin th' area."
Callahan sticks the gun under his elbow and scratches his chin.
"If ye can follow th' blood we might find it leadin' back ta its hidin' place."
�Tha�s the thing - I can�t see none. Woulda� thought it�d be around�� She says and, for a moment, she toys with the idea of getting down on all fours and scratching about. She shakes. Damn dog.
"Well, get on wi' it. Haveta fin' it," Callahan replies, a merciless taskmaster as usual.
�It�ll be quicker if two of us are lookin�.� She reminds him, tossing him a stray glance past the lip of her collar.
"I'll use me eyes, ye use yer sniffer, pup," Callahan reminds her, and steps up next to her, starting to pull the foliage aside.
�Fine.� Because sniffing around in the dirt and muck was her favourite pastime. She crouches low and sweeps small branches and debris aside, shovelling away the copious amounts of fallen leaves. The occasional worm or slug gets kicked up, to which Brandy sticks her tongue out in mild disgust. She might have roughed it for a long period of her life, but slimy, wiggly things are still yucky.
Callahan moves further along, bending over to search for drops or splotches, pieces of fur, flattened grass and scraped bark and moss or anything that could indicate a prey animal being dragged by.
What seems like an age passes and Brandy�s about ready to dust her muddy hands off on Callahan�s back when, quite by chance, she sees it. A clump of, what she imagines to be, innards. They�re strewn and caked in grime, the flies and other insects having taken to it as a welcome meal.
�Auch. Here.� She says, waving a hand in front of her face as the pungent smell wafts up and slaps her. �Augh. Not very fresh like.�
Callahan is immediately stalking over her.
"Hrm. Bit ol'. Maybe from a couple days ago. Wish we could've foun' summat fresher."
He quickly scans the undergrowth.
"Aye, here we go," he says, spotting little clues obvious to only him. He points in a direction that leads upwards, towards a bigger hill. "Dragg'd it up that a ways, I reckon."
�Yeah?� Brandy wastes no time in recoiling and scuffling away from the entrails, shaking her hands off, now all dark brown. �Yeh� think it�s far?�
"Couldn't say. Makes sense for it to search upwards--there should be cliffs to hide under this way."
Callahan starts pushing his way through the dense greenery. "Keep yer senses sharp. Jus' 'cos theyre in human form don' mean they won' act like an effin' beast."
�I know, I know...� She gropes at her sleeve and checks that her knife is still close to hand. The vegetation rustles as she bounds to catch up with him, tugging on the hem of her coat when it snags on some offending branches.
Callahan casts her an irritated glance.
"If ye cannae be quiet, imma leave ye here, girlie."
�I�m tryin�.� Is her hissed retort. �S�a little hard when we�re trompin� through alla� this.� Her arms lift and sweep just above the undergrowth.
"D'ye expect me ta carry ya?" Callahan groans, annoyed. "Bridal-style, maybe?"
�Yeh� can keep them paws ta� yer�self.� The girl huffs, thoroughly unamused.
"Then keep up an' fer landssakes, be quiet," Callahan sneers and starts climbing up a rocky patch dotted with broad ferns. There are little dots of fur caught in some of the thorns of a few blackberry bushes tucked underneath. They're on the right track.
Brandy keeps her mouth shut, but lets her annoyance be known in the fashion of a low growl. Being around this man is a veritable roller coaster of frustration. Still, if it means she gets to come across another werewolf, feral, familiar or not, she�s willing to endure.
"An' fer fuck's sake, keep human," Callahan adds, prompted by her canine noise. "Don' wan' t' have ta tie ye down after brought ya all th' way here!"
�I thought yeh� said ta� keep it down, ey?� Brandy chides, gesturing to him with open palms. �I�ll stay human - trust me, I don�t fancy turnin� any day a� the week.�
"No', only if ye think it's 'helpful t' th' clergy," Callahan grunts. "Insanity�"
�It is helpful.�
"Can ye control yerself when yer a wolf?" Callahan bites. "No? Then it's only helpful if they manage ta point yer doggone arse in th' right direction. Yer ain't an asset, yer just a furry li'l ass."
She thinks about how she could shut him up right now by just turning and tearing his vocal chords out. It�s such an intrusive and vivid mental image that she balks, taken aback by her own mind. Brandy becomes very conscious of the moon, now, or rather, she would look to it if she could see it beneath all the trees. The cycle must be due in a few nights, she muses.
They climb for a few more minutes, until Callahan turns around and puts a finger to his lips and gestures for her to stay, and stay low. He continues forward on all fours, slowly.
Brandy is obedient, for once, sensing that this isn�t the time to be petulant. She bundles herself low to the ground, easily keeping out of sight with her small stature. Has he seen it? Or is it something else?
Crawling further ahead by a couple metres, Callahan peeks out between the thicket of ferns. He turns around slowly, noiselessly then gives Brandy a stern look, and waves her closer.
She obliges, taking slow and measured movements until she�s snuck up by Callahan�s side, dirt thick on her elbows.
"Wot, d'ye see?" he whispers, mouth so close to her ear that the sound has nowhere else to go.
Brandy has to restrain herself from scratching at the shell of her ear, the vibration of his voice making it tickle. She cranes her neck just enough to peer above the leaves, a little brown smudge amongst all the greenery. Her keen eyes narrow and take in the scene before her; a smooth, shallow cavern has been eaten into the distant rock face, bleached and stained with the pigment from cascading ivy. She almost misses it, distracted by the grim sight of a torn carcass that she imagines was once a deer, but there�s a shape hunched over in the recess of the alcove. It�s still and unmoving.
"'s a biggun. A bloke."
Callahan pulls her down, somewhat gently.
"Wh' d'ye inten'd t'do?"
She looks to the corpse. Then back to the cave. Then back to the corpse again.
It�s so...mutilated. Mangled. Like something, no, the man in the distance couldn�t decide where to chew first. Her mind swims with uncertainty. How can one man manage something so barbaric?
"Well?" Callahan prompts. "Ye got until he decides ta wake up an' makin' th' first move. Only reason we manag'd gettin' sa close, pup."
�I- I don�t know, it�s-� This isn�t anyone she recognises. She can tell that, just from the size. Though Callahan and the rational side of her brain had warned her, Brandy finds it hard to swallow the disappointment. Then again, maybe it�s a blessing, she decides, sweeping a look at the deer�s body one final time. She doesn�t want to imagine anyone she knows being driven to that.
�... D�yeh think they can� yeh� know� speak?�
"Depends," Callahan replies.
"How long he's been goin' feral, if he had a pack, if he was th' alpha, if he was a bit simple from birth, if he's even from here� th' list is as long as a bull's todger, girl," Callahan whispers into a hand, trying to get this goddamned conversation over with.
Silence falls upon them. The young werewolf watches as the other stirs, adjusting himself in his slumber. All manner of questions plague her: Does she dare approach? What if they attack? Can she really condemn this poor soul without even knowing them?
Her fingers curl toward her wrist and she feels the point of her knife blade once more. �I should...try speak ta� him.�
"If ye get too close, I cannae aim fer 'im," Callahan warns seriously.
Her instincts tell her that she�s about to make a grave fool of herself. Sentiment, however, is a strong motivator.
�I�ll keep me distance,� she promises and, with a heave of breath and shove of her palm, she gets to her feet in a half crouch.
"C�och," Callahan mutters under his breath.
He doesn't want to see her hurt. It'd complicate things, for everyone. She's trying to do good, but she's going about it all wrong, trying to think the werewolf curse can be used for good, when the best would be to keep denying it any rule or presence in her life.
He inwardly curses again.
It's no wonder the clergy dotes upon her.
She's so young.
The approach is daunting. Every crackle of sticks and every measured breath sounds ten times louder than it is, in her mind. To her credit, she moves as quietly as can be, considering her movements with every step. It�s a stone�s throw away that she comes to a halt, placing a large tree trunk between herself and the cave.
Then, she speaks up.
The large head of the werecreature turns and bristly hair that moves in matted clumps slither quietly over leathery skin as it cranes its neck at the intruder. Feral is a good way to describe the man they've sought and found.
Brown stains of dried blood cling to the temples and the sides of his large, wide mouth. Almost every part of his features are framed by hair, of some kind: the large, knitted brow is covered in one furry lamp of hair; the beard trails over his chest and mixes with the hair on his arms and chest. The mane around his neck sports a few balding patches, but otherwise runs down his back like a cape.
The eyes are instantaneously large and wild. A tiny bit of yellow discharge runs down from the tearduct, and stops as the wrinkles of a noiseless growl splits open his mouth.
Brandy�s heart sinks into her stomach.
She�s heard the cautionary tales from Father Neeson before, the stories of werewolves gone astray, spiralling down into a pit of madness. But she never fully understood or believed them, until now. There�s a twist in her gut that tells her to get down, to try and look as small and submissive as possible. For once, she�s thankful to the wolf barking at the back of her mind.
�I-I�m not here to hurt yeh�.� She utters, dipping her eyes down to the ground just before the man-beast�s feet.
The foreign man sits up straight on his elbow, eyes on Brandy's head.
Callahan grips the wood of the rifle hard.
"Don' act like prey," he hisses into his hand. "He'll treat ye like prey."
The young werewolf holds her ground, braving a cautious glance. She daren�t hold his gaze, afraid that it might come off as a gesture of challenge.
�D�yeh- can yeh� understand me?�
"Wuh-wulfe�" the man rasps, his adam's apple bobbing violently, as if working his vocal chords hurts him.
�W-..wolf- wolf, yes!� Her eyes brighten with a spark of hope. She takes one of her hands and, slowly, so the man is sure to see it, places it to her chest. �Wolf.�
He sniffs the air and takes a deep breath.
"In� inte� v�lkomna�" he coughs, and scratches at his throat, nails yellow with treesap and sick. "Inte�" he gasps, and guttural growl bubbles up from his stomach.
�In...I-� As quickly as it ignites, the light in her eyes extinguishes. The language barrier is going to make this even harder. Her head shakes from side to side, hoping he recognises the confusion on her face. �I don�t understand��
Slightly shaking, the man-beast pushes himself to his knees, the growl reverberating lowly in the tiny rocky alcove. His muscles are dense and massive, and even if he shows signs of illness, the gnashing teeth that he shows to warn off Brandy are certainly healthy enough to be a problem.
"... skal� f�rsvinn�"
�E-easy, easy-� She grasps onto the tree and shuffles back on her knees, ready to spring to her feet if the situation calls for it. �I don�t know what yer� sayin�, but- look, I�m not tryin� ta� do nothin�...�
".... varg!" the man yelps, clumsily jumping to his feet. His balance sways for a moment until he starts to slowly move forwards, wide eyes on Brandy. "Vemm, vem�" he gargles angrily.
�God-� The hairs on the back of her neck prickle and she knows that she needs to start backing away. There�s no telling what this man is capable of, right now. If the state of the deer is any indicator, though, he could be quick and brutal when need be. She scrambles to her feet and backtreads, holding her hands up in the air where he can see them. �Look! Look- I�ve got nothin� - I don�t want ta� hurt yeh� none.�
Reading her shakes and scrambling as a sign of wekaness, the man ambles into an uneven gait towards her, legs plodding with surprising ease over the mossy, bumpy forest floor.
�Damn it, damn-!� Her strides become wider and more hastened. The corner of her mouth twinges, like part of her wants to bare her gums and teeth back, but she fights the compulsion in confusion.
The man beast ducks, hits the ground, and his thighs widen as they collect power and momentum to sprint at Brandy, teeth first.
Callahan's arm shoots out, like a moray eel from its hole and grabs Brandy around the collar, pulling.
The feeling of being yanked around the neck bowls her over with a vivid, roiling recollection of memories she�d rather forget and, in the heat of her fear and sudden anger, she almost swipes at Callahan. When the clarity of the situation sinks in, she can feel that her lips are pulled back, angular teeth bared for the world to see.
Callahan pushes her into the ferns, sending her a glance, then overcome with anger.
"D�n do bheal! I cannae deal wi' two a ya!" he yells.
The distraction costs him dearly, as the manbeast barrels into him, having shifted its priorities in a manner of seconds. Momentum hursl them both into the air for a glorious moment before they roll down the bushy hill in a cloud of leaves and snarls.
�Callahan!� Brandy leaps back to her feet and watches the trail of limbs and debris that cascades down the hill. She hasn�t the time to think, her legs already carrying her after them, skidding on the uneven descent.
A gunblast roars through the trees.
It scares her nearly half to death. She latches onto a gnarled tree root to stop herself from sliding further and scans the brush, searching for any signs of what�s happening. Above her, birds that were previously silent as the grave now crow and scatter, throwing addling shadows over the already dark terrain in their fit of panic.
�Callahan!?� The girl cries out, eyes wide and alert.
A drawn-out whine.
At the bottom of the hill, in a sandy patch of ground, Callahan pushes off the dead weight of the foreign man. A quickly widening pool of blood is seeping into the sand, staining the naked skin of the werewolf, and the boots of the hunter.
He looks up towards the trees, squinting at wherever the girl's voice came from. His vision is swimming; he must've hit a rock on the way down.
"Stay!" he slurs, trying to pull his rifle out from the mess of guts next to him.
She doesn�t listen.
Following the call of his voice, she runs the rest of the way down, tripping over her own two feet but, by some miracle, avoids breaking her neck.
The sight that greets her when the grass clears turns her innards in a knot. She isn�t a stranger to gore, gizzards or giblets, but never before has Brandy been faced with the sight of another person�s guts, strewn and ruptured all over the floor. One of her kind.
"Please ta God, could ye be� doin' what I tell ye, just once," Callahan groans, as he gets to his feet. He leaves the rifle where it is, instead walking in front of the corpse, blocking the view.
"Get back up there, girl, git."
A gasp escapes from her, startled as he moves to obstruct her. The colour is sapped from her features, her skin pallid and ill looking. A second passes and she doesn�t move, but not a moment later she retreats without a word.
Tiredly, Callahan is about to rub his face down, but realises his hands are sticky with blood. Goddammit.
He knew it wasn't going to end well, but now, being in the situation, it somehow feels even worse than what he'd expected. The look on her face. She's just a puppy. A girl.
Much too young and too dumb. It would have been better if she'd had this shock of death and violence come while in the company of someone from the clergy, anyone else.
He can't even begin to think what he's supposed to tell her that won't make her ban him from the tavern forevermore. He wouldn't� like that.
He quickly does a search for his bag, and opens it. He gets to work, pulling out a white sheet and rope. With a certain amount of struggle, he wraps the dead man in the sheet and coils the rope around him. He swings both bag and gun over his aching shoulders, and starts to pull the weight up the hill again.
At the top of the hill, Brandy stands by the decimated deer. From the way her shoulders shake, it�s clear that her breaths are coming in fast and shallow. She stares down at it, fixing on every little detail; The torn muscle, the snapped ribs and dark, raw flesh. It�s as though she�s trying to replace what she�s just witnessed with something else, something just as violent, but somehow detached.
Brandy doesn�t even notice the sound of Callahan approaching.
He's a metre or so behind her when he stops, arms aching from the heavy weight. He flexes his fingers absently and there are long red indentations in the palm where the ropes have eaten into his hands. He needs a pair of good gloves for this shite, he does. The last were eaten somewhere in Ireland.
Callahan takes in the grotesque scene: the girl, staring at the day-old animal corpse: awkwardly torn apart by teeth never meant to cut and tear, the shallow cave and the misplaced beauty of the coiling, crawling plants surrounding it.
There's a little nest of leather scraps and leaves in the back; old muggy buckets probably used for water-keeping, a few torn rags that might've been coats once, and a tiny wooden box tucked under a couple rocks, keeping out the more curious wildlife.
He coughs awkwardly for her attention.
Her head lifts and whips around to face Callahan. She looks sombre and doesn�t utter a word.
Callahan feels his mouth moving, then realises no words actually came out.
"Hrm," he coughs again. "Why don' ye have a butcher's a' that?" he prompts, and nods towards the little box.
The choice of phrase could have been better, but Brandy either doesn�t muse on it or chooses to ignore it. She wanders over the box with a stiff gait, then kneels down to pluck it from where it rests. Dust and a few crawling insects dirty the lid, but she makes quick work of sweeping it clean with the rounds of her knuckles.
Callahan sends her a short look before dragging the body off to the middle of the clearing, and starts stomping the grass flat in a circle around the linen-clad figure.
Muddy, sore fingers pat around the seam of the container, feeling all manner of deep nicks and cuts in the wood. Part of her feels as though she should leave it be - it wasn�t her property to explore. Then again, maybe it hadn�t been the werewolf�s, either. There was no asking him to find that out.
Gradually, she slips a nail under a rusty old latch, nudging it open so that the lid can fold back.
It wouldn't have been too much to expect there being momentos of a past long lost. If the items in there are, it will take a bit more than the usual investigation to trace them back to any meaningful memories.
There's a bent thimble and a collection of mostly rotted leaves. Little acorns and rusty nails. Owl pellets and a few pine cones. Broken buttons and torn pieces of lace.
She plucks each item out, even the owl pellets, and studies them. It�s a strange assortment of things to collect and she can�t help but wonder what the man must have thought when he tucked each piece into this box. Did some of these things belong to him, from a time when he was more human than beast? Or were they nothing more than trinkets, plucked from the ground like a magpie?
Callahan throws his bag on the ground, lays the rifle next to it and walks over to the makeshift pyre he's been setting up. With another quick glance at the girl, he ignites a few matches, starting little fires under the fabric of the sheet in several places.
"Wot ye got there?" he asks, waving the smoke away.
�S�not much.� She tells him, her voice quieter than usual. The flickering and pop of the growing fire draws her attention and she follows the cloud of smoke as it escapes through the trees, little sparks spitting at the air. �Jus� lil� things��
Callahan shakes his head.
"He a collector, then?"
�I s�pose so.� She pinches the battered old thimble and holds it up to the light, watching the golden licks of flame dance in it�s poor reflection. �Mostly leaves an� seeds.�
"Hrm," Callahan grunts. He feels like he should say sorry, but God knows what for. It isn't like she knew the vagrant, and it isn't like he told this was exactly what was bound to happen.
He scratches his chin as if trying to scrub the odd, unwelcome nibble of guilt away.
"We shoul' go afore the� smell gets bad," he says woodenly. "Wou'd ye� like ta pray wi' me?"
The thimble is returned and the box lid shut, though she brings it over with her when she joins Callahan�s side. Her teeth, now smooth and normal, rake across her bottom lip and, hair jostling with a mixture of a nod and the fire�s heat, she agrees.
With fingers still aching from hauling, Callahan picks off his cap, and folds them loosely in front of himself. Normally, he'd do it as quickly and inconspicuously as possible, but this time, it's admittedly more for the sake of the girl's conscience than his own, so he doesn't mind making a little show of it.
"May ye receive mercy an' grace, death wi'ou' sin an' hope be tha' th' righteous gone before ye will receive their share o' th' Eternal Glory. An' until we meet again, May God hol' ye in th' hollow o' his hand."
He utters a sigh, and traces the sign of the Cross over his bloodied, muddied coat with a dirty index finger.
"Solas Mhic D� ar a n-anam," he mumbles, letting the silence fall over the three of them like an all-encompassing full stop.
Brandy pinches the box in her hands and, careful not to catch herself on the flames, she slips it amongst the kindling.
They watch the flames for a few more moments, feeling its might be right to do. Callahan is about to stick his hands into his pockets, but decides against it. No need to fill them with dirt, too. He picks off a few sticky pieces of moss and leaves and brushes off the clammy, red sand that's spread all over his front like a particularly gruesome sort of fairy dust.
"Take yer time, I guess," he says, a note of awkward creeping into his normally stern disposition towards the girl.
It�s not hard to notice. �No, I-... I think we should go,� she says, clutching the sleeve of one arm as the other hugs across her chest.
"A'ight," Callahan replies.
He goes to pick up his bag and rifle, then turns to Brandy.
"He din't hurt ye any, did he?" he asks, fairly well knowing the chance of such is quite small. He asks anyway, not quite sure why.
�No,� she admits, arching her shoulders. �Din� have the chance ta�.�
"I eh� s'pose I broke me promise, then," he adds cautiously. It feels wrong to walk on eggshells around her. Unnatural.
It feels equally as strange for her to hear Callahan converse without a hint of disdain. Brandy lifts her chin and looks to the wiry man. She feels as though she should be mad at him. She feels a lot of things, right now. There�s just no mustering any of it, though. For now, the young woman seems a touch vacant.
�Yeh� saved me from gettin� mauled.�
"Sav'd ye from havin' t'make th' choice, mo' like," Callahan replies honestly. "I werenae sure if'n I was goin' ta keep me promise from th' moment we went ou' here, lassie."
�S�not much of a promise, then.�
"No, it ain't. I'm no' sorry tho'. Wou'd ye sleep well, knowin' ye'd decided life er death fer another man?"
No, she knew she wouldn�t have. But, with the way things are, she isn�t going to be sleeping easy tonight, all the same. �Yeh�ve done it before. Not gun� pretend ta� think yeh� would be sorry.�
"Sorry? � hrm." Callahan seems to mull over the words. They start walking out of the green bushy forest, and into the sandy, rocky area that dominated the middle part of their journey. "I done this since bein' younger than you. It's much too late fer sorries, pup."
�Why?� she asks, then thinks to elaborate. �Why�d yeh� start doin� it, I mean. The killin�.�
Callahan chews on his tongue, feeling the bite of withdrawal and wishing he could have a smoke.
"Didn't start as killin'."
�How did it start?� Brandy presses. No one wakes up one morning and decides that hunting beasts and unholy beings is their God given task on Earth - not without a reason. Surely, something has happened in this man�s life to drive him to this.
Callahan clicks his tongue.
"Look, Br--Look, I kno' what yer wantin': a story, the story, of some innocent kid livin' on a farm, when one day, some vampire kills 'is family, a werewolf turns his da' an' murders his mum, or ghosts plagued our town--ye ask yerself: cou'd any o' tha' still justify th' killin'? Eh? Cou'd tha' stand in any court o' humans, much less th' one o' God?"
�No,� she utters, looking him in the eye once it all sinks in. �An� that�s what I don�t understand it.�
He keeps her dark eyes for a bit until he has to walk a decline in the rocks, and bends over a little to watch for loose footing.
"Yer still young," he mumbles. �Yer curs'd, aye, an' maybe ye'll make it a good couple years before ye pass it on. Bu' ye always do, they always do. We try an' do good, bu' we always end up passin' th' sin aroun'. Nothin' we can do bu' repent, an' put an end to th' passin' on."
�No one�s e�r proved yeh� wrong, have they?� The girl questions, waiting for Callahan to go on ahead of her. �Or have they ne�r had the chance ta�?�
"Can ye honestly say yer gonna live a full life o' moons an' ne'er once think ye'll bite th' wrong meat?" Callahan asks her pointedly.
�I can�t- I can�t promise anythin� except that I�ll try,� she speaks up, some force coming through on the end of her words. �I want ta� have the chance ta� live.�
"Don' we all," Callahan grunts, and slides down a sandy hillside littered with thorny shrubs. "Some wan' t'live despite th' danger in their mouths, some want t'live off o'ers. Wolves and lambs and animals and humans alike all jus' wanna live. Wha' makes you so special, aye?"
�What makes you so special?� The girl interjects, her tone sharp like the knife in her sleeve. �Y-yeh� talk about people like me, takin� lives, destroyin� lives! Yeh� ever stop an� realise that�s exactly what you do too?� A finger extends, jabbing to where his gun rests over his shoulder. �That gun a� yer�s ain�t no different from my teeth!�
"Y'bite someone, th' curse spreads on. Yer lookin fer a cure? That gun o' mine? Th' only cure so far," he says harshly, cutting her a steely look over his sharp, broad shoulder.
�Yer� gun is a damn curse! It�s a plague on any-a-one who�s got the damn misfortune ta� be seen as nothing but an accident waitin� ta� happen!� Brandy yells, the suppressed emotions of everything that just came to pass erupting from their cage.
"Ye certainly ain't cryin' fer th' sod burnin' on tha' hill are ye? Or would ye have, if ye'd known him, aye?" Callahan replies icily. "Wou'd ye want me tryin to coo softly at th' vampires too? Ye certainly don' seem t'like them. What makes them unlikely ta be a damn misfortune, huh?"
�Yeh� know damn well why they�re different!� her angry voice booms down the hill. �They enjoy it - what they�ve become! They laugh and spit in the faces a� people like me, because we�re �inferior� ta� them!� Her hands begin to shake and curl into fist. �They kill fer� fun and they know exactly what they do when they do it!�
Callahan whips around, gun and bag slapping against his tall back.
"They're different in exactly that you grew up with a bunch o' dogs and they decided to play wi' ye for funsies--don' e'en fer a moment think there aren't bats ou' there like you: tryin' to fool themselves into thinkin' they're 'helpful' and that they can turn a blind eye to th' times when they must indulge their curse--vampires who've been chain'd and spat upon by packs of dogs like yer friendly li'l band o travellin' guppies. It's only dff'rent cos ye want it ta be!" he snarls acidly, long finger pointing a spear of accusation at the young.
The wolf inside Brandy growls harshly at the offense against her pack, her shoulders rounding as each elbow bends to bare clasped fists in front of her. Each curled finger twinges and the knuckles look as though they�re threatening to break skin with how tightly she�s clenching them.
�It�s diff�rent cus� I ain�t shovin� every creature ta� do right an� wrong in the same body bag as yeh� are!�
Callahan squints dangerously at her.
"Ye stand up straight, girl, don' bare yer teeth at me, so help me God�"
�Or what? Yeh�ll shoot me down!?�
"I be tyin' ya up with the rest o' me rope an' drag ye back ta th' clergy, so they can see what a wild little animal they're tryin' a make a lady out of!" he says with all the demeanour and humour of a deadly-sharp icicle.
Brandy�s eyes flash with a frightening glint. �I don�t belong ta� the clergy! I ain�t anyone�s ta� make anythin� out of, yeh� hear me!?�
"Yeah? Wha' makes ye stay, then? It certainly ain' yer pack, issit?"
Her breath rattles in an audible shake, hot air clashing with the night�s cold to create a fog around her nostrils. �I owe Aberdeen my life.�
"Then you better fuckin' well act like ye take this seriously!" Callahan replies. "They think they can save you, they think a cure can be found. So help me God, you won't waste their fuckin' time--ye won' get in my way, an' ye will stop transformin' willy-nilly an' bein' a threat to everyone else."
His angry glare shifts ever so slightly.
"Brandy!" he barks. "Fockin' calm yerself! Ye wanna prove werewolves are worth o' livin'? Bloody stay human!"
�Shut up!� she roars, but abruptly recoils, her hands clutching the sides of her head as a pain like thousands of pricking needles bombards her skull. She throws herself to the ground and digs her forehead against a rock, suddenly pleading pathetically with herself to make the ache go away.
The bag and rifle hit the ground with a dull thud. Keeping his promise to stay the gun, Callahan digs the rope out and quickly coils it around his arms, ready for throwing.
Not yet, though. "Girl, listen, y'cannae let th' wolf take o'er--fight it down, if nothin' else ta make me look a fool, a'ight?" he attempts, not used to vax diplomatically with anyone. "We're too close to th' villa, they might get to ya�"
�S-stay--stay away from me!� she wails, raking her nails against the stones as she thumps her head on the ground. �Not now- not now, jus� go away�go back ta� sleep-�
"You think of Aberdeen, then," Callahan says. "He likes ya, he found ya, aye? Think of how calm ye are when yer wi' 'im. think of what he'd tell ye now--" He's bloody pulling at strings, he's no real idea what the girl's and the priest's relationship entails, but he knows Aberdeen and he can't imagine why you'd be anything but somewhere between calm or apathetic in his company.
The name rings through the cacophony of internal, howling anguish and, though it�s a great struggle, she opens her eyes. �A-Aberdeen.� Her mind conjures up images that only the dog remembers - cowering in the hollow of a tree, licking sore wounds, then a figure clad in black raising her from the ground. It�s comforting. It feels safe. Her hands cease their fitting.
"Ye keep it together now, girl," Callahan says, considerably calmer, palms flat on his thighs to indicate he's relaxed and not ready to pounce. He stands tall, not as a threat, but not covering like prey. "Ye go home, walk home, an' ye can go to his bed an', hrm, sleep on his carpet er whatever ye lot do, but ye gotta stay calm. Aberdeen wou'd like that, he likes it when things're calm, an' he likes you."
It�s to his benefit that she can�t make head nor hide of most of his words right now, otherwise she may well have chewed him out for the �bed� remark. But, as it is, she�s busy pushing herself onto her knees, sweating arms trembling from the strain. �H-home, I want-...� She barely gathers her thoughts enough to speak, tripping over her tongue. �...want ta� go�.back.�
Callahan swallows, feeling oddly overcome with some� odd shame at seeing her so vulnerable.
"We'll go home, right now," he says, forcing calm into his voice and kneeling down. "Just, just gotta�"
In a flash of empathy, he puts the ropes away and� with the leftover cloth, swathes the rifle in white linen, hiding the offending weapon away. Still kneeling, he swings the bag over his shoulder and slowly extends a hand to the quivering figure atop the small hill.
"Hrm, can ye� c'mon, pup, can ye... come down here, a'igh?"
She tests her legs by slipping one over the lip of the slope, finding her muscles shivering from the rush of adrenaline. Determination to be in the safety of her home drives Brandy to push on, mentally scolding herself for being so weak willed and succumbing to her anger like a petulant child.
"Jus' down until ya reach m'hand, aye?"
The plunge is ungraceful as can be, the tired girl practically sliding down on her side when her legs refuse to co-operate. She winces as little stones dig into her, but the pain is negligible compared to what her curse inflicts upon her. As she draws near to Callahan, she reaches an arm out with a strained lunge, fingers splaying.
He quickly reaches out and gets an ungainly grip on her wrists, but it's enough to let her slide straight down without toppling over. He moves his grip from her wrists, to her shoulders, lest he spark another fit of vampire-inspired autonomy.
On his knees, he reaches her shoulders, and its a little odd to now be looking up at her when he, Callahan muses with some dry wit, has spent all day belittling her.
Her face is wrung with unhappiness and pain, even if most of it is masked by the unruly, thick hair. It makes him equal parts annoyed and oddly patient; as if different parts are willing to give her time, and the other wants to rush her home.
�Thank yeh�,� she catches herself saying without thought, slurring her speech in a weary mumble of barely parted lips. Her hands grapple with his shoulders and loosely grasp onto the coarse coat fabric, a few stray digits looping around the epaulettes for purchase.
�I-- I should walk,� Brandy insists, directing her eyes to the ground. It feels more than a little ridiculous to be leaning on the Irishman for help when, not moments ago, she could have gone for his throat.
"Can ye?" he asks, doing his best to make the question sound as neutral as possible. "Y'know wot, ne'ermind," he says, mind made up the moment she does this weird eyes-on-the-ground demure thing.
With one hand loosely on her shoulder, he turns around, showing her his back.
"Giddyup," he grunts, without an ounce of humour in his voice. Later he will swear she broke her leg and it magically healed on the way home. Or that they both caught lunar sickness. Anything.
She recognizes what he wants her to do, but the gesture is so...well. Self sacrificing? It�s not something she would think to associate with the man, who has shown her more scorn and callous than shades of benevolence. �Are yeh� sure?�
"Just git an' laff about how bloody ridiculous this is later," Callahan mumbles, and twiddles his fingers at her in invitation.
Brandy�s not about to argue with him, for once, and is relieved to give her limbs a rest. It�s astounding how little energy she�s left with for such a short touch-and-go episode. She flings her arms around his neck and tucks her legs around his torso, discovering just how stick-like the man really is. It�s like hugging a sinewy twig.
He unashamedly slips his arms under her thighs and grabs. Callahan sways a little forward, trying to find balance with the added weight before he stands up and starts to slowly trot onward like a surly mule. The simile is apt, considering there's not much to laugh at in any way. He could've fooled himself into hoping there might've been a lesson for the girl in all this, but really, it seems like this has all been a lesson in screaming futility.
With each plodding stride, Brandy�s head bobbles and luls until she settles for putting her stubborn pride aside - hell, she�s already piggy back riding the sod - and rests her cheek on the dip of his shoulder. Her nose, sensitive as ever, picks out the scents of stale tobacco from under his collar, a touch of something similar that�s more robust and pungent, then a familiar, earthy must.
It's an odd weight to be carrying a (not dead) human, Callahan ponders. Something warm and still squirming, and the feel of a hushed breath on his nape is deeply unfamiliar, but not unwelcome.
He sincerely doubts he'll feel this way in about half an hour when his arms and lower back will be screaming at him for his rampant do-good stupidity instead of letting the girl walk on all fours home.