Acceptance thread  Season of Change
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Kritaxius He/Him
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#1
(This post was last modified: September 11, 2018, 11:41:56 AM by Kritaxius.)

He had descended from the mountain in the first time since ages, forced to move from the growing absence of carrion and the decimating number of bugs in the cave he had called home. The other loners which had lived nearby had moved, and this was causing a particular problem for Kritaxius. He could no longer scavenge from their hunts, and despite his best wishes, he knew he would not survive forever on a diet of bugs alone.

He traveled by the cover of the night. He had little choice in the matter, his eyes did not do well in the presence of bright light. The ghostly wolf could manage a cloudy day, but preferred the darkness of a moonless night much like this one. The mountain was far behind him now, and Kritaxius had no plan as to where he was going or where he would stop. It didn't matter much to him, wherever he landed life would be the same as it was before; lingering, surviving, existing though barely sometimes, without ever seeking the company of another. At least, that's what he imagined it would be. After all, it was all he'd ever known. No, that wasn't completely true. Some nights, the white wolf could close his eyes and remember a time long since past when he had lived with his family. He remembered the smell of his mother most of all, delicate and subtle like the smell of a dry wildflower.

A heavy fog descended with the rain and slowed his progress, but he didn't mind. He had all the time in the world, or he didn't, either way it didn't make much of a difference to him. The wind carried his scent downwards such that he couldn't catch the scent of what lay ahead. But that also did not phase him... whatever creature he stumbled upon was usually sent away by his sickly appearance and did not cause him harm. He sported scars along his back and legs, as well as a few on his jaw, but most had been self inflicted by accident or by excoriation.

When Kritaxius was met with a deep crevasse of still water, he was given no other choice than to try to go around it. This strange river, which wasn't a river at all, seemed to go on forever. Looking at the sky, he figured he still had a hour or two to find his way across, or trek back and find a hiding spot to sleep the day away. He was about to turn back and head towards the mountain again when he spotted something further up the edge of the obstacle... it was... a bridge? Walking closer, the wolf lowered his head to the ground and picked up the scent of other wolves. Not just one or two.... a pack? Kritaxius shook his head, knowing now that he couldn't cross safely if the territory was claimed by others. It was strange how wolves suddenly decided a land belonged to them. Land wasn't something you could own in his mind... had it not been free before whatever creature that 'owned' it had appeared?

Slowly, Kritaxius took a few steps back then turned around to head back the other way... the safer way. But after a few steps, he stopped. Eyes narrowed as he looked back to the land across the bridge. Perhaps for the first time in his life, he wondered what it would be like to live among others of his kind. Why think of it now, when the thought had never crossed his mind before? He had no answer to the question. He knew however, that he was tired... finally tired of always living the same way, for nothing and for no one. What would it feel like, to have a purpose? He stood in the rain, looking back towards the mysterious bridge as though it beckoned him, as though it begged for change.

It begged for his end, or his rebirth; he could not tell which.
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Connor he/him
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#2

There was a ghost at their borders. 

Connor's downtime had been spent near the bridge, making sure that their scent markers and claw marks were clear to anyone heading into Alteron's territory. The young wolf's dappled coat made it easy to blend in with the undergrowth of the jungle and to be honest...he was not yet sure he trusted the Pages' he had met to keep their borders well staffed. Franziska was...an interesting individual but seemed to give into vices quickly. Orcist had only appeared in one of his patrols so far and the larger wolf was somewhat intimidating even knowing he was Connor's higher up. Connor couldn't imagine how setting new recruits on the defensive straight away was at all a fair way to determine how useful a member could be.

Watching the white wolf hesitate on the bridge gave Connor a better look at it's overall condition. Undernourished at best, with thinning fur and a matted mane. At the moment it would make a poor new recruit. It would probably not even survive Falco's tests if the huge wolf decided to show his face.

But...taking in strays was something Connor couldn't help himself with. And if the ghost could be rehabilitated with good food and a place to rest something of it's size may be a strong contester for a more physical rank. The creature didn't have the rotten smell that came with mange, so unless Connor was mistaken it was probably a diet problem that caused his poor coat condition. And diets could be fixed.

Slowly, but making sure to scuffle the leaves at his paws so as not to sneak up on the ghost Connor made his way closer to the bridge, giving up any pretense of subterfuge. The rain may have softened the sound a little but he hoped it was still enough to keep either of them from being shocked at the other's appearance.

"Hello there!" Connor called from the end of the bridge, the rain dampened coat and water logged ears making him seem so much less intimidating. "My name is Connor, I'm a Page sent by Alteron. May I inquire as to what your business is here tonight? It seems a rough night to be travelling at all."

Inclining his head to the closely packed thicket he had appeared from, Connor didn't hesitate to call out again. "If you would be more interested in talking where it's drier, I can promise no harm will come to you while we speak."


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Kritaxius He/Him
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#3

The wolf from beyond the bridge did nothing to cover the sound of his arrival, and it did much to reassure him of his intent. There was usually more danger to behold in those who came and crept in silence and deceit. He lifted his eyes to the stranger. He was a fine specimen of a wolf; very little of which Kritaxius ever saw roaming the mountains.

The loners he had observed before (and learned to avoid) were fit to hunt, but not usually fit to fight. This one looked ready and able to do both at will. This should have been enough to send him away, but still he stood there in the rain. There was nothing in the other's gaze that spoke of harm, and that was enough for him for now.

"Hello there! My name is Connor, I'm a Page sent by Alteron. May I inquire as to what your business is here tonight? It seems a rough night to be travelling at all." 

Traveling under the cold rain seemed a small inconvenience next to starvation. The cold had long ago settled into his bones and numbed his paws, but there was little to be done for that. Since leaving his birthplace, Kritaxius could not quite remember ever being warm and well... He was either cold, or he was freezing, but perhaps that was also due to the constant hunger.

"Alteron..."

His voice was rough, much like the shriveled shape of him. It had been so long since he had spoken words to anyone, including himself, that he had forgotten the sound of it.

So the name of the pack was Alteron, and this wolf was named Connor. Kritaxius opened his mouth to speak and present himself, but the rain doubled in effort then and he knew the other would not hear his strained voice over the storm, so he chose to say nothing more.

 "If you would be more interested in talking where it's drier, I can promise no harm will come to you while we speak."

A promise from a stranger meant nothing, but Kritaxius still nodded. There seemed to be little choice in the matter. The rain did not seem to want to stop or let up anytime soon, and there was no closer shelter to be had than the trees on the other side of the bridge.

And so he crossed, not knowing what really awaited him on the other side. They made their way into the thicket, and the scraggly wolf shook the water from his fur before settling down. With his wet fur clinging to his frame, it was easy to see how thin his legs were and how his ribs protruded from his sides. His red eyes were fixated on Connor, a sure sign that there was no trust to be had between them yet. If Kritaxius was given a moment to see that no other wolf was going to jump into the thicket to rip his throat open, then he would slowly start to release the tention in his feeble frame. He would sigh, and do his best to hold a conversation with the one that had offered him shelter from the storm. It was the least he could do.

"My name is Kritaxius. I came down from the mountain.", he began. "Where I was... There is no more food." From the looks of him, it was clear there had been little there to begin with.

His ears twitched then, and his gaze turned to the ground at the end of a nearby tree. Without missing a beat, the pale wolf moved over to the tree and began to dig at its base. Reaching into the moist mixture of soil and decomposed leaves, he pulled out a wiggling grub as pale as he. Standing on shaking limbs, he prepared to devour the slimy insect but glancing back at Connor, he wondered if this would be wise.

His stomach made a complaint, yet he did not eat his catch. Hunger was a constant companion that he no longer listened to. If he had, he would have long ago gone mad. Still, it was with great effort that he decided to forfeit the grub to his gracious host.

Dropping the wriggling insect on the ground in front of Connor, Kritaxius sat down and proceeded to stare at him with anticipation.
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#4
(This post was last modified: September 26, 2018, 12:35:33 PM by Connor.)

Settling himself in the deep thicket to shelter from the rain Connor watched as the ghost's white fur clung to an almost skeletal frame. The newcomer's hips and spine were clearly visible beneath his skin. Weak, for the moment. But either desperate or strong enough to make his way down a mountainside and toward Alteron...that strength was promising. Flicking the water from his ears Connor began to meticulously groom his front legs and chest, where the rain had put some of his fur out of it's normal shape. If the white wolf chose to attack it would be a waste of what precious energy he had left. There was only a small chance it would risk such a fight.

When he spoke the stranger's voice was soft. No irregular crackling, no obvious breathing problems - nothing to suggest anything contagious so far. Connor would never live it down if he spread a cough through Alteron with a careless acceptance. Still, the wolf seemed somewhat more nervous than many he had accepted recently. It would take some time to see whether it was a mix of the storm and a new place or if it was simply his personality. 

"My name is Kritaxius. I came down from the mountain.Where I was... There is no more food."

Despite his obvious distrust, he had followed Connor somewhere clearly in his own territory. Such trust should be rewarded.

When Kritaxius tottered over with shaking legs to offer a grub, something in Connor softened a little. More trust shown to a complete stranger despite his current physical problems. Interesting. The Page wondered if someone had taught Kritaxius to show his manners first in an attempt to disarm or he was simply this desperate.

The quick digging had stained Kritaxius' paws and muzzle a dusty colour with mud, but one particular speck had collided with one of the tangled dreadlocks that made up his mane. That was the thing that caught Connor's eye more than the offered food. He had little desire for insects, but that spot was...distracting. Kritaxius' staring was more at the food than himself.

Keeping his movements slow but confident Connor reached out past the offered grub and nibbled carefully at the dark spot, removing the speck that had been bothering him with a soft tug. With that done he settled back just as slowly, choosing to lay down in the hope of calming Kritaxius' nerves. He lapped at his lips a few times to rid them of white hairs before speaking.

"I believe you need that more than I do, but it is a kind offer. If you're having trouble finding food I'm sure once the rain stops I could assist you in this matter. That is, if you're willing to give your word you mean no one in Alteron harm. A wolf can not give his loyalty until his needs are met, after all."
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#5

Kritaxius licked his lips as he stared at the grub at Connor's feet, but his host made no move to accept his meager gift. After detecting some movements from the other, the white wolf raised his ghostly crimson gaze up to meet him. The moment it became clear that Connor was getting closer, rather uncomfortably close indeed, Kritaxius tensed for the fight or flight response that might be needed. His lips twitched, wanting to curl back in a soundless snarl but hesitating to do so due to his situation. He was on the other's grounds, and after wasting so much of his precious energy to go down the mountain, there would be little chance of him being able to defend himself. Though if Kritaxius had to be honest with himself, even on his best days he would have stood no chance against Connor.

He allowed the other to approach him, despite his obvious discomfort, only to find that he had simply wanted to remove some grime from the tangled mess of fur at his neck. He did not allow himself to relax after this realization, not until after the other had retreated back to his original location and settled down upon the ground.  

"I believe you need that more than I do, but it is a kind offer."

He was given little time to add more. Lowering to the ground, Kritaxius extended his neck until his jaws reached the still wriggling grub and yanked it back to himself before consuming it with ravenous appetite. To Connor, the insect might have seemed insignificant, but to the pale wolf it was an opportunity; the only thing that sometimes stood between survival and starvation. He may have had the strength to travel and withstand the storm, but he did not have the energy needed to hunt game, big or small. Rotting carcasses left by other hunters were a godsend, but the last he'd encountered had been several moons ago...

Kritaxius began to notice the obvious differences between them; How Connor's fur was clean and well kept, or how his ribs didn't poke out of his sides like his did... He began to feel out of place. They came from two completely different worlds. Ears twitched backwards then, as he thought that he should probably leave. 'What was i thinking', he thought to himself bitterly. He wondered why he had even followed him in the first place. A great lassitude took over him then and he thought perhaps it would be best if the other simply tore out his throat right then and there. Faced with this thought, Kritaxius felt oddly calm. Perhaps it would be best... yes, rather than to return to the darkness of the caves... back to his solitary life as a ghost of the mountain. He had no desire for it anymore, the thought of it in his mind was like ashes on his tongue. No more.

"If you're having trouble finding food I'm sure once the rain stops I could assist you in this matter. That is, if you're willing to give your word you mean no one in Alteron harm. A wolf can not give his loyalty until his needs are met, after all."

Eyes narrowed at this statement from the other. Loyalty? He expected loyalty? Kritaxius scoffed, a slight smirk drawing itself upon his scarred lips. He almost laughed then, a sickening mad sort of laugh that could have only come from a deranged mind.

"Why are you offering me this, Connor? I've nothing to give you in return. If it's from pity then I've no need for it. I've survived without anyone's concern for as long as I can remember, and I'll continue to do so if need be."

He stood up then, a fire in his eyes despite the state of his skeletal frame, and made his way to the edge of the thicket into which they had taken shelter. He stopped then, just after the curtain of rain that continued to fall. What awaited for him out there? Nothing. Kritaxius grit his teeth while the rain washed off some of the mud from his jaws and paws. Damn Connor; damn him and his pity. His stomach twisted in a knot, the promise of a meal keeping him from going any further. He had spoken out of pride, or what little shreds of it still remained. Pride wouldn't keep him alive, but perhaps these wolves could.

"I'm sorry... ", he spoke before he turned around. "You have my word."
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Connor he/him
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#6

"Why are you offering me this, Connor? I've nothing to give you in return. If it's from pity then I've no need for it. I've survived without anyone's concern for as long as I can remember, and I'll continue to do so if need be."

Connor stayed laying in one of the drier patches of the thicket and let the white wolf snarl for a moment. Emotional responses were to be expected with new recruits. It was part of the testing of a Page, knowing when to escalate the situation and drive outsiders away if they wouldn't be a good enough fit for the pack. Bitterness was not a rare emotion to find in those who came to join Alteron. The jungle outside their home was a hard place for singular predators to find enough good food to keep going.

Staying low even as Kritaxius made to turn his back on the young Page Connor found his voice, smooth and even as if they were discussing the weather.

"I believe you have mistaken my words. I am a Page of Alteron - pity is not a part of my job. My job is to see those who come to the borders and find out if they can give more to Alteron than they take. I strongly believe that if we are able to put weight on you and allow you to rest you will contribute more than others would. I do not ask for your loyalty - the pack as a whole does." Here he took a slow breath before continuing. "There are several higher than myself that will ask for your loyalty in the future along with deciding what role you will play in our pack."

The small wolf twitched more water from running into his ears but kept his eyes clearly leveled just to the left of Kritaxius' eyes. The apology was....unexpected. He completely expected Kritaxius to make his way out of Alteron the minute the rain stopped. He was doubly surprised by the voice that came from the white wolf before he turned around.

"You have my word."

Connor nodded, standing up only to turn in quick circles and make the ground below him a little more comfortable for a long wait. 

"As a Page that is all I can ask for. I would ask you to allow me to groom your ruff until the storm stops, if you are agreeable. I imagine the mats must be pulling your skin in uncomfortable ways. Please let me know if there are any injuries the healers should be made aware of before we set off. Then we can hopefully find you something more nutritious to eat than insects. If we are lucky the rain will have flushed smaller animals out of flooded burrows."
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Kritaxius He/Him
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#7

"You have mistaken my words; pity is not a part of my job"

All sounds seemed to stop at that moment, leaving place to an unnatural silence in his mind. He had left the mountain as a ghost, a mere shadow of himself, and yet at this moment he felt like Connor was more of a ghost than he. Turning to look at him, he stared into his eyes for a long time searching for something... anything that would tell him he wasn't speaking to a husk. Something that looked like a wolf but really couldn't be. Perhaps there was something behind his steady gaze, but he could not see it. When he offered his word, the sounds of the world returned to him, as though by speaking he had pulled himself out of whatever crack in time and space he'd slipped into while having these thoughts. He wondered if all the wolves of this pack were such as he, and if by joining them he would be destined to become the same. The thought unnerved him, but it was not enough to cause him to walk away from the promise of a meal.

When Connor asked permission to groom him, the skeletal wolf wondered if it was customary of this pack to groom each other. What a strange thing to do... Kritaxius didn't really see the use of grooming his fur. Precious wasted energy would go into smoothing and cleaning the fur that would just become dirty and tangled again in a few days. He shrugged and walked over to the other, laying down in front of him with a more relaxed body language. Connor was the first he had spoken to in so long... and the first to touch him without malicious intent for a very long time. When the page first began to work on the mess of his fur, Kritaxius felt the skin of his back twitch uncomfortably due to the unfamiliar sensation. But little by little he eased into it, and breathed easier. It reminded him of something... long ago, but what? Ah yes... his mother used to do the same thing for him when he was a child. It was comforting then. The very few moments of peace and quiet he could enjoy before his brute of a brother ruined everything. Shin had always ruined everything. He wondered of his whereabouts now and prayed to any deity listening that he was not in this pack. How unlucky would that be...

And then it happened.

He noticed it by how cold his nose got all of a sudden, and the familiar feeling of thick liquid dripping from his chin. For as long as he remembered, he'd been getting these frequent nosebleeds which were usually followed by headaches or migraines. They were a hassle, though a few times in the wild he'd taken them as an opportunity to keep others away. No one ever wanted to get close to a wolf who looked like he might be dying of something contagious. Which reminded him, Connor had probably noticed... and if his train of thought was anything like that of the wolves he'd met outside, then he was probably very concerned. He decided to explain, before getting forcibly thrown back into the cold and rain.

"Don't worry... I'm not sick. Not the kind of sick that can make someone else sick anyway. I was born... different. I've had these random nosebleeds since I was a child. The sun will cause my skin to blister, so I keep to the shadows." He'd lick the blood from his nose once in a while, until eventually the flow ebbed and stopped. "Ah... and i was born with my tongue split in two at the end." Connor had probably noticed, but he thought he'd mention it since it might have made him seem clumsy enough to bite his own tongue in two.

"I was born skinny and weak, the second of three sons." Irrelevant information to the page, surely. But he had not reminisced in so long that he hoped Connor wouldn't mind. "Mother fed us well but our older brother always ate more than his share and there was little left for us." Had he ever had a whole meal to himself? Not that he could remember. If the other managed to catch him prey and let him take it, he would surely throw it up right after eating too fast a meal seemingly meager for the page, but a decadent feast to the starved ghost.

"If you can provide me a meal, it might be the very first I eat that isn't scraps..." He'd chuckle at that. Because honestly what good did it do to weep about? Absolutely nothing.
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Connor he/him
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#8

Connor found himself subtly cleaning his tongue on his own forelegs between removing tangled clumps of white hair. How could anyone sit still knowing that their fur was so tangled and out of place? The very thought of it made his skin crawl. Some things were to be expected with wolves in bad condition but this was a longer period of neglect than he expected. Kritaxius' fur was hiding very irritated skin. Probably burrs and grass seeds too. Connor couldn't help his nose twitching in distaste.

Kritaxius seemed to relax into the grooming after a time. That would make integration into the pack easier if a new member could find some comfort in socializing. As violent as Alteron often was it was better for all of them if they could at least pretend to be comfortable with each other.

...plus as distasteful as he found such an unruly coat there was something satisfying about putting it to rights.

The blood was a bit of a surprise. From what Connor understood there were a few troubling reasons a wolf might bleed from their airways. But very few of those reasons would leave someone able to stand or speak without breathing troubles. He couldn't hear the telltale rasp of lung problems at the least. If Kritaxius hadn't infected anyone in the past then it seemed safe to be around him. Unless he was twisting the truth. All those symptoms were very much beyond Connor's knowledge of treatments.

"It might be worth you seeking out an Acolyte when you can - they're the ones with medical training. What you describe is beyond what I know." Connor settled back, sitting up. "If you need to rest I am happy to return with a meal. For now, consider yourself officially a part of Alteron. Congratulations."


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