Acceptance thread  Stranger in a Strange Land
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Oksana she/her
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#1
(This post was last modified: September 18, 2018, 01:47:34 AM by Oksana.)

She came from beyond the fringe, far beyond, and long she had wandered alone. By now the gold of her pelt was tarnished by the dust of the road, for the hyena rarely stopped, pressing ever onward. Things such as beauty had long ago ceased to be her first concern. Oksana had seen mountains, and chased after them. She’d seen a break in their armor, the Fringeborn Pass, and like so many before her, passed through. Oksana traveled through the lands ringed by stone and sea, and at last she thought to stop traveling.

Now, there was the scent of wolves hanging low in the air like the fog that rolled off the moat. It was evening, and a red sun hung low in the sky. The air clung to her fur like a ghost’s caress. Beyond the water, she saw the pale flesh of trees where claws had been dug into them, and another flash of ivory— bones. Ribs, picked clean and stark where they poked upwards from dark mud. Oh, what an odd place she had come to.

The water itself stretched on like a river, but sat as still and unmoving as a lake. It seemed purposeful, as though the watery ditch were just yet another border marking, another claim on the land. So the hyena trotted alongside it, her head stretched high in search of crossing. Every border had a gap, a door, a threshold. Soon enough, she found one.

A bridge spanned the curve of the moat, water lapping at its sides in the gentle wind of the evening. Pleased to have found it, the hyena grinned, sharp and quick, and leaned back on her haunches. She would wait, wait for one of the denizens of this odd land. But... she’d hate to wait to long. The hyena whooped, low and meant to carry, to announce her presence. It was the closest she could come to the howl of a wolf saying hello— and it wasn’t very close. Even in this strange land, she herself was strange.
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Connor he/him
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#2

The first sound of the newcomer at the border was strange. A low whooping sound, so different from the usual howls. It rose in pitch quicklyand ended just as loud as it started with none of the tapering off of a canine's calls. 

The sound was very...different compared to what Connor was used to. It was exhilarating to imagine the creature that might make such a call. Perhaps another predator? It was nothing like a harts' bellow or even a boar's scream.

It was a puzzle that needed an answer. 

The small wolf trotted to the bridge. His ears and tail were both pricked high in curiosity as Connor finally spotted the creature. It's head and shoulders were huge! Big rounded ears and a blunt snout as compared to a wolf, and a much heavier build. 

Despite the differences the creature sat at Alteron's border just like a wolf waiting for acceptance. The call had clearly been intended to bring an answer. Making his way cautiously forward Connor couldn't help the almost happy spring in his step.

"Hello there! Can you understand me?" Connor kept his body relaxed and unthreatening as he approached. "My name is Connor, I'm a Page sent by Alteron. What brings you all this way?"
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Oksana she/her
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#3
(This post was last modified: September 18, 2018, 02:01:27 AM by Oksana.)

A wolf parted from the mist, a youthful creature with a coal dark pelt. He was cheerful in his greeting, or at least it seemed so to Oksana. She could indeed understand him, but she was still woefully unfamiliar with the body language of wolves. She inclined her head. “No need to worry, wolf, I can understand you. It is only howls I cannot replicate.” The hyena’s voice was touched by a rough, lilting accent in comparison to the smoother tones of wolves, but she could understand and be understood, and that was enough.

The wolf had introduced himself, and it seemed only polite that she do the same. And then there was a question to answer. “I am Oksana,” she said, “and I came here in search of a pack.”

In search of a pack, because she had tired of her own kind. Brutal, and fiercely matriarchal, her fellow hyenas saw Oksana’s identity as a ploy for dominance. She understood this as much as she resented it, and so she had struck out on her own like the male she wasn’t, in search of a group that would accept her as female despite her sex. Wolves, she knew, were not hardwired the same way as her own kind. Their politics might favor one gender over another, but it would never be quite so extreme.

Oksana waited for the wolf’s response, her head filled with imagined responses to imagined questions.

OOC: this post might be confusing, so just in case, tl:dr Oksana is a trans and hyenas are matriarchal which would make them suspicious of trans women and unlikely to accept her. Male hyenas typically are run out of their clans at a certain age, Oksana left voluntarily before this could happen. Please excuse my nerding out about hyena social structures. Also this very long OOC comment lol.
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Connor he/him
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#4

“No need to worry, wolf, I can understand you. It is only howls I cannot replicate.”

Connor couldn't help but take in the size difference between them. The creature had been easily handled so far and would surely make a fine fighter or laborer. Something about her made him think of the bear he hadn't met yet. They shared the same strange front heavy build if nothing else. 

“I am Oksana, and I came here in search of a pack.”

The Greater Secrets had seen fit to allow the bear into their midst, surely this animal would be no different as long as she was willing to put Alteron first. She seemed friendly enough, but if she was to turn violent...it would be a hard task to take her down by himself. Better to keep this creature on side and point her at Alteron's enemies. Yes, if she proved herself to those in the Major Arcana she would fit in well as a Sword.

"And a pack you have found. The creatures of Alteron make this place their home. A Page is someone who could grant you acceptance if they so choose." Connor hesitated just a moment, cocking his head to the side. "As long as you are willing to follow the commands of the Leaders - Telana, Falco and Cocytus - I see no reason you should not be able to enter.

The small wolf stopped speaking, putting his body between Oksana and the bridge that would take her toward the center of the packland. "I understand there is no way to guarantee civility. With us knowing so little about each other that is. Still, I would ask for your word that you will do no harm to Alteron's members if you choose to join us. If this is a promise you can not keep I will have to ask you to move on." 

Physically, there was nothing that could stop such a larger creature from killing him and leaving him to rot in the moat. Hopefully one of the other Pages would find him in such a state and send their alarm calls to the rest of the pack. Then again, Connor often overthought these kinds of situations. Connor would much rather have Oksana join him on the right side of the moat. His death would be inconvenient for the other Pages with their rounds suddenly doubled.

"What do you say?" 
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Oksana she/her
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#5

Oksana had found what she sought, and this wolf could give it to her. A home, after so long without one. A home just as strange as she had thought, too— this was a pack with thee leaders, Telana, Falcon, and Cocytus all mentioned in the same breath. The hyena had only ever heard of packs with a single leader, perhaps two, if one included the leaders mate. Were these three mates? Or did they manage to rule without squabbling in some other way?

She could learn these things later. The hyena knew what she needed to know to answer Connor’s query, and that was enough. If these three leaders would allow her into their pack, she would follow their every order. And she could easily give her word to be civil. Violence didn’t sit well with her, especially not when it was unwarranted. She could fight, and she had often had to, to survive. But to attack a pack of wolves was a senseless plea for death, and these wolves, in particular, had been nothing but hospitable.

The hyena took in the sight of the Page blocking the bridge as much as he could with his small frame, and mulled over his words and the words she had yet to say. She had no way to know that his thoughts had turned towards his own death, though her thoughts mirrored his own. Physically, he could do little to stop her from crossing the border. But in a more symbolic sense, this wolf held more power than she. It was his approval that determined her fate.

“I say that I humbly accept your offer,” Oksana said to the Page. “I know little about your pack, but if you would welcome me in, then I would offer you my loyalty. Your pack needn’t fear harm from me, though I would harm your enemies at your leader’s behest, for the kindness you have shown in allowing me into your ranks.” The hyena was nothing if not loquacious, but her words were true, for all their frilly trappings. She protected her own, and if the creatures of this pack were to include her in their number, she would not hesitate to lend them her teeth.
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