Miles Up Shore

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Month 3 (Spring), Year 1

♂ 2 | ♀ 3

2 | 1 | 0 | 1 | 1


Official Opening + Caribou Migration

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    (AW) cowardice
    month 1 (spring), raining

    It was about to be 2 years, 2 long years Dario felt like he didn't deserve. Sometimes he wished he'd starved as a boy, or been more like his mother and succumbed to his doom with some dignity. It was better than... What? Involuntary solitude? A persistent self loathing? Surviving wasn't living... And yet, Dario was too cowardly to accept death.

    Is that what kept him alive? Cowardice? The avoidance of doom to survive another day? Or was it just the hope that soon he would have a reason to live other than... Being alive?

    There was nothing in this cold fucking tundra that ever convinced him that life was worth living, it was just big, hardheaded animals that had more of a will to survive than him, a winter that seemed far too long, a spring that was obnoxiously cold, and an echo every time he howled that accompanied a chilling silence. There was nothing here for him, but where else did he have to go?

    In this place where the rain felt like ice on the thick skin of his back and the caribou filled the valley in droves to give birth, Dario was home, whether he liked it or not. The spotted man stopped, and licked the rain off his whiskers, scouring the herded caribou with a hunter's eye - it was near impossible for a dog of his size to take down a fully grown caribou, especially in this weather, but the banquet he was rewarded for his success was always worth the effort. So he'd heard, he wouldn't know. He wasn't exactly a risk taker, more of an opportunist.

    The rain masked most smells, but he knew this valley was being used as a massive grassy nursery by the caribou, the cows with their rotund bellies beginning to scratch and nest in preparation for what would soon be an influx of new calves. Easy meals, but the process would be made harder with the threat of getting trampled by an angry mother.

    Dario's breath came out in vapors as he visually tried to formulate a plan in his mind, before licking away the rainwater misting his nose and blinking in disinterest. Rabbits are safer. He decided with an annoyed grunt, trudging through the rain-soaked sod to look for a hare to chase.
    Cold mud clung to her toes in clumps, but she couldn’t stop now. Not when the smell felt like it was sunk into her bones, making her teeth scrape together and saliva well in her thin mouth. She swallowed it before it could drool between her teeth, but it did nothing to settle the roar in her stomach.

    Symphony rolled her tongue over her lips, puffing out a sharp sigh and barely holding in a whine when her stomach cramped. Empty. It had been empty for what felt like forever, cramping around nothing, reminding her constantly that she wasn’t the best hunter in the world. She was fast, so when she found the odd hare, she could run it down. The problem came when she had to try and stalk them. She wasn’t exactly...camouflaged, unlike some other dogs. She was a menagerie of colors, bright and beautiful as her father had always said. She shook off the memory, lowering her nose once again to track her way back towards the scent she’d been following for hours now. The ground birds were surprisingly quick, and she could hardly keep up. But she had to, she needed to, this was everything she needed to do and more. Sym whined softly, nose pushing a furrow through the dirt, before the flutter of feathers made her head snap up, radar like ears swiveling to face its direction. There, unhappily cooing at the rain, was a ptarmigan, ruffling his feathers and trudging onwards. Her ears went back, the young hound lowering her body to brush the mud, before she was springing forward like a bullet. The bird went up, and she followed, jaws cranked wide.

    She got nothing more than a mouth full of tail feathers when she realized she’d struck too fast, and was now rapidly falling back to the earth. An unfortunate side effect of her lineage, she could jump far into the sky, but how she landed was for the gods to figure out. She tried to land on all fours, but one paw slipped on the mud, and she went down in a flurry of spindly limbs. Symphony couldn’t even wheeze, mouth open soundlessly as the breath was driven from her lungs. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, trying to draw breath. Ow.

    The stupid bird just cooed it’s alarm call, and vanished from her sight.
    For all Dario knew, him and his family were the only dogs out there. His old man might've told him a tale or two about the dogs that came before him, but for the most part their population had waned due to the insurmountable challenges posed by the wilderness. Not everyone could make the cut out here, and it showed in just how few dogs were left.

    So it was alarming when a long, sloping form leapt out of the sod like a giant hare after the fleeting feathers of a bird. The critter managed to avoid becoming lunch, and Dario witnessed the tragic downfall of the hunter as gravity seized them in their final descent.

    Damn that's high. Dario thought a split second before they slipped gracelessly on the slick mud and wiped out. The man winced at the dull thud emitted at impact, it would've been wise to assume that they'd just died and move on, were it not for the whistling wheeze that came shortly after.

    Dario sniffed, and stepped closer until he had a better look at this unfortunate acrobat, a woman wrinkling her nose at the pain. "Did that hurt?" he quipped, trying to play off any notion of dire consequences with a bit of humor. Plus, even if she did get hurt, it was pretty funny to watch.
    Through her own pained wheezing, Symphony couldn't hear the other dog approaching her, curled up to try and work through the pain of crashing back to earth in such a manner. It only dawned on her when words hit her ears.

    Did that hurt?

    Her pained wheezing became a shrill noise, both breathless and squeaky as her white toes peddled in the air, rapidly trying to roll onto her stomach. After a moments worth of squirming, she managed it, and jolted up to a standing position, bouncing several feet away to stare owlishly at the dog in front of her. She swallowed, ears swiveling like radar dishes.

    Slowly, she gave a jerky nod. It did hurt. Her back and chest still hurt from the fall. And it was a bit of a chore to breathe right now, but she was fine. Move on sir.
    It truly was odd to see someone out here. Different, a bit surprising, for the most part Dario assumed he'd be living out his life as a hermit and gradually become more and more ghoulish with age. Maybe he was more like his father than he thought.

    His pack instinct made him more social than usual, bringing out that old charisma he never developed, only growing up with a stubborn bull of a father and a coward of a sister. He stayed with his family because he was young and inexperienced, it was beneficial at the time, but in the present day, he didn't really see the point. He didn't need to stick around anyone, he could take care of himself.

    The woman began to stiffly back away from him as the thought dawned on him, her chest rattling with compressed breaths as her lungs no doubt felt battered. Yep, that's what happens when you bite off more than you can chew. The man looked over in the direction of the bird, his own stomach tightening beneath his thick skin once he remembered what brought him out to the river valley in the first place. Right. Food's hard to come by, even for me.

    Dario could see no use in sticking around another dog, unless it benefited him.

    He licked his teeth, picking up rain water with it, and looked to the woman indifferently, "Want some help?"
    Symphony’s ears preformed another swivel, facing opposite directions, before one rolled forward and her other rolled back. As though she really was a radar dish, ever swiveling to find every sound she could pick up. Eventually, she swallowed, taking in the words.

    Her eyes narrowed. Help wasn’t a ubiquitous thing, true help at least. Nobody helped a down on her luck hound without wanting something in return. That’s how the world worked, a constant transaction for whatever it was that would keep you not dead for another day. The liver woman raised her head, ears finally settling on their positioning, solidly back against her head. Suspicion danced across her face like shadow puppets during a campfire.

    What is in it for you?” She asked, intonations sharp and enunciated, but her tone soft. There was a soft rasp present in her voice, like it had been a while since she had used it. The young woman shifted her weight anxiously, ready to take off if it helped her live another day.
    The longer the two were suspended in silence, the more Dario got an incentive to abandon his mission of altruism and just go after the bird himself, and watching her big round ears go around in circles over her decision was a bit maddening. The man worked his jaw, losing his patience as the seconds ticked by. Well? What's the verdict?

    Then, finally, she prompted him to confess his motive, and it was better than a no. "Food." he shrugged loosely. What else?
    Food, he replied, and Symphony’s stomach rumbled to tell her just how much she wanted, nay, needed that. The young woman licked her nose, green leaping to her paws as she debated, before nodding, slowly.

    Alright. Two dogs teaming up to hunt, that was fine. That was...fine. She was fine with that. Symphony swallowed, thickly, ears rotating back, before she was opening her jaw again to speak.

    Symphony.” She managed after a moment of trying to get her throat muscles to spit it out. There, now he had her name. What he would do with it, she did not care to know.
    The noticeable rumble wasn't apart of the weather, it was just a good indication that sitting around pondering over the logistics of teaming up just made the time tick by in a slow, wasteful crawl. Dario was ready to give up, shit, why did she need so many answers? Isn't the fact that he wanted to help enough?

    But, mercifully, she gave her approval with a nod, and Dario rolled his eyes in relief. Though, before he could turn to start stalking the bird, the woman irritatingly interjected, causing him to pause, his face tight with impatience. "Hm?"
    Who the hell named their kid “hm”? Her face pinched. Did his parents just hate him, or were they weirdos? Symphony bit her cheek, rocking her weight side to side in a comforting motion.

    My name.” She said, ears flicking as she finally realized the question behind the man’s tone. The hound mix licked her nose, feeling chapped skin beneath her tongue.

    Then, she quickly put her nose to the ground and carried on. Tracking it was, she supposed.

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