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Shamus

A sneaky Saffron con, trading luck for a meal.

0 · 462 views · located in Maxim Lake

a character in “Elemental Battles: Rage Ch. II: Fire”, as played by Krypt

Description

Name:
Shamus

Pack:
Saffron

Gender:
Male

Description:
Like most of his brethren in the Saffron pack, Shamus sports a dark pelt, an admittedly hot pelt during the warm season. However, his fur ranges more into the gray color scheme, rather than the deep chocolate brown that is usual to be classified with the Saffron wolves. He does have the amber eyes though, eyes that always seemed to have a certain twinkle of mischief in them. All around he is a smaller wolf, for a male anyway, although he is filled out enough that he would not be torn apart immediately in combat, though he still prefers to not fight.

Personality:
Shamus is not what you would call a good wolf. Exploiting his pack's reputation for being kind, hospitable, and the source of a good fortune, Shamus has made quite the living away from his pack and out in the world, doing everything he can to con other wolves out of a hot meal or whatever else Shamus see's that they have and he fancies. Often he makes a mild spectacle of his Saffron abilities, and claims to be able to increase the luck of anyone that helps him out for an arbitrary amount of time, depending on what the deal was. Give him a cut of venison? He claims to increase your luck for a day. Give him the deer? You'll be set for the season! How valid his claims are, no one has yet to report.

Abilities:
Although most of his scams involve simply enough his silver tongue, he does have a select range of abilities granted unto him from his Saffron heritage. Like other Saffrons, Shamus can prophesy regarding the next seasons crop and nature yields, though Shamus claims that his gift of prophesy can extend to other things, developed through "special training."

Equipment:
Other than the natural armaments any wolf carries around, Shamus also carries around a leather satchel to hold the supplies required by the constantly moving wolf. This vagabond prefers to live a little better than day to day, so if he can manage to steal it, he generally has enough food on him for at least half a week.

History:
Ever since he has been alive, Shamus felt he was better than other wolves. Pack-mates, foreigners, and friends could all be deceived through his craft, and as time went on he decided to take his cunning to the wider world. War has ravaged the hopes and wits of many wolves, and many are turning to the supernatural for relief. That is where Shamus has found his niche. "Helping" the downtrodden, or anyone really who has something that he wants. He lacks a moral compass in the traditional sense, seeing the preservation of his own creature the only "moral decision" that he has to make.

His biggest challenge so far has come in the form of one Schemeko, a Hemlock who is determined to make him part of his gang. Shamus has resisted so far, although he has accepted his help in trying to pull off a large scheme on his own Saffron pack. He feels he will succeed in fooling his own naive pack mates, not out of any help of Schemeko of course, but thanks to his own wit. And so he goes on, growing in power when he can, fleeing when things go rough, a rather obscure wolf doing as he pleases.

So begins...

Shamus's Story

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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

Well, he was a persistent one, he was, Shamus had to admit. That Felonious wouldn't give him an inch. He had tried ditching him, dodging him, conning him, annoying him, convincing him, anything short of fighting with him. Besides 'entertaining' him with the wonderful stories of his adventures, Shamus didn't have any cards left to pull. He was going to have to have Felonious along with him. He began to wonder if the Hemlock would be able to recite the story he had oft repeated of when he had almost married the daughter of the Deon alpha. She had been a lovely girl, until he jilted her. You don't know what being throttled is until you have the teeth of a wolf that can crush metal around your neck.

They had spent the night among the endless fields of wheat that he called him home, and the Saffron knew that by mid-morning he would be arriving in the village of the current alpha, or Thane, as the Saffron liked to call their annual elected leader. Shamus' initial plan had been to convince Felonious to wait outside the village in the wheat fields while he did his work, but he realized that he could use the Hemlock to further his goals. Getting Schemeko's lackey banished or killed would be a nice bonus, as he would be unable to lead his leader back to where Shamus was. Shamus had no interest in Schemeko once he was Thane. In fact, he hadn't any intrest in that Hemlock gang leader before he was Thane either!

"Well matey, your about to learn today where I learned to be so nice! We Saffron pride ourself on hospitality, so if ya will just behave for the next few days and listen to me, things might work out for ya. There are always a few foriegn wolves in the village this time of year for the harvest festival. Maybe you'll find a new minion fo' your boss to bring back to the swamps with ya" Shamus said with his usual brogue.

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Schemeko's Gang: Felonious


Felonious was quite thoroughly tired from this long journey from the Swamps to the Wheatfields. It didn't help things either when Shamus practically tried every trick in the book to lose him. Unfortunately for him Felonious is quite dedicated once Schemeko gives him a job no matter how unpractical or difficult it may be. Still even he can't do everything and it's taking all that he can to remain standing up. When he heard they were nearing civilization, Felonious felt relieved. He really did hope that this venture would be fruitful to Schemeko in the end.

"Right...so long as there's a place I can rest, I could really care less at this point." Felonious spoke. Throughout their trip the Hemlock hardly responded to Shamus when he spoke. He eventually found it pointless to converse with the Saffron since every word out of his lips were either an insult, a joke, or a long winded story. He could tell that the Saffron cared as little about him as well, so with that kind of tension always being present, it was easy to tell they weren't friends in the slightest. Even so Felonious was indeed persistent and quite patient all things considering.

He then looked towards Shamus and shrugged, "Just lead on then." He said as he followed behind the Harvest Wolf. Now he just hoped the rest of his Pack doesn't act like him. Oh Gods, it was a thought he dreaded as soon as he got to know this Wolf.

The setting changes from the-saffron-wheatfields to Harvest Grove

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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

The sun was beginning to beat down hard as the pair walked into the town. The wheat seemed to have a glow of its own about them as it reflected the sunlight, illuminating the surroundings with a lovely golden hue. The village of Harvest Grove was on the edge of the valley, and its style reflected what most of the Saffron villages looked like. Because there was a general shortage of timber in the area, there being endless plains of Jivanta to the west and the inaccessible floating mountains of timber belonging to the Avira to the north, most of the buildings were built of stone and cement.

There was about fifty or so dwellings, more or less running in parallel lines down the main street. This was rather large for a village here, with about 400 residents it boasted having a cobblestone road and a few tradeswolves, as opposed to the traveling smithies most other villages had to rely on. Much of this prosperity came as wolves moved here to be closer to the Thane, and as soon as a new wolf was elected to Thane some wolves would likely move to his village. Some wolves liked being close to power.

As they entered the town, most wolves didn't give much more than a friendly nod to the arrivals. It wasn't uncommon to see a foreigner around this time of year, there was often a few foreign wolves who came to buy grain for the packs or simply come see the harvest festival. As long as the foreigners left their war outside Saffron territory, these wolves were fairly tolerant. None of the brown and grey wolves they passed gave any indication they knew who Shamus was, which Shamus didn't seem to mind. They would know who he was soon enough.

"My Thane is likely out in the fields at work, matey, so I'm going to have to wait til tonight to talk to him. The election happens just before the festival tomorrow evening after the Presentation of Foresight, so you won't hafta wait long" Shamus explained a bit, feeling rather pleasant now that he was home again. He guided Felonious over to a modest inn in the middle of town. After talking to a older Saffron shewolf with a red ribbon tied around her neck he said to the Hemlock, "I once did a favor for the owner here. She'll get you set up for your rest, matey. I'm going to go scope out my competition, meet you back here at dusk."

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Schemeko's Gang: Felonious


Felonious looked towards Shamus with heavy eyes as the Wolf shrugged with his shoulders. He didn't seem to awfully interested in Harvest Grove and everything that surrounded it. Of course that could just be the fatigue talking. As he and Shamus walked down the cobblestone road some Saffron turned to look at the newcomer but didn't seem all too worried about his presence. They did seem more used to seeing foreigners unlike other Packs.

Shamus decided to explain how things worked around here particularly how officials are elected into power and not simply born into it. Still the Hemlock didn't have any interest in Saffron politics and traditions and just wanted to rest. The crafty Saffron led Felonious to a modest inn and he almost seemed ready to just fall over and rest right in front of the building. It was then Shamus explained to him how he did the owner a favor and now the kindness is being returned.

Felonious nodded, he was actual quite pleased to be rid of him for a while, not only that, but earn some well deserved rest. As the Saffron went off to do, whatever he believes he needs to do, Felonious was led by the older she-wolf to a vacant room. "Now please enjoy your stay." The kindly old Wolf spoke as she opened the door. "Thanks." Felonious responded as he closed the door behind him. He sluggishly walked towards the bed on the far side of the room as he collapsed on the soft and plushy pillows. Sleep quickly overtook the Hemlock.

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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

After Shamus had finally ridded himself of his Hemlock shadow for the first time that week, the Saffron felt a twinge of doubt at his decision to let him rest. It would have certainly been easier to bully him around when he was tired, as Shamus was feeling relatively spry himself. He was used to traveling, much more than other wolves, the tendons and muscles in his leg were made like iron from the rigors of endless travel. Ah well, a few hours sleep won't do much to pay down that sleep debt he was sure Felonious has accumulated.

Watching the sun tick past its high point and slowly settle into afternoon, Shamus decided to go grab a bite to eat. This time of year was the best time to sample the local cuisine, as vendor were out proudly displaying their finest to foreigners. Colorful pavilions had been set up on the East side of the town to deal with the sudden influx of plains wolves, and Shamus could detect the mouthwatering odors of hot honeyed bread coming from the festival grounds. It had been a long time since he had sampled the staple of his home pack, good Saffron bread. The bread was the staff of life for the plains wolves, as game was scarce in the high population areas and the wheat they used was actually rich enough in protein to sustain a healthy carnivore diet. Not that they didn't like meat still, but it was saved for special occasions.

Laying down in a shaded spot between a bread vendor and a seller who was trading for what looked like glass baubles, Shamus wolfed down a honey roll he had obtained. Delicious. He would make this baker his cook when he was Thane. He took some time to reassure himself of his plan for tomorrow night. It was simple, really. Saffron elections are of an ancient date, an old tradition handed down from a more civilized age. The process of electing a wolf above his brothers was viewed as a sacred process, and tampering with the ceremony was seen as sacrilege and therefore unthinkable. Well, Shamus didn't think much of religion and therefore was free to think what he thought.

The election was always preceded by the Presentation of Forsight, a simple ordeal to prove to the pack who was the most capable at predicting the harvest for the next year. Knowing what the harvest would bring was very important, as it allowed the pack to plan and prepare accordingly, as well as give them guidance as what to do in bad times. There had only been one occasion where the wolf with the most accurate prediction at the Presentation of Forsight was not elected Thane, and that was because he was so sickly that he died that very evening of pneumonia. So all Shamus had to do was to make sure his prediction was nigh irrefutable when the reveal came. And all it took was a little Hemlock poison to be sure the ballot went his way. He would be the luckiest wolf alive if all this worked out.

With a smirk on his face and a full stomach, Shamus stretched out on the soft grass, the gentle hum of the crowds passing by lulling him into security. Pretty soon, Shamus was sound asleep, head on his satchel and emitting a soft snore.

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Character Portrait: Nezín Character Portrait: Shamus
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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

It was toward evening when Shamus jolted from his nap. Some pup had thought it funny to nip at the sleeping wolf's tail, and the Saffron listened groggily as he heard the laughing Seti pups skitter off. Putting one paw under him and pushing himself up to stand, Shamus looked about the market. If anything, things were more hectic than when he had arrived earlier that day. Wolves were coming in from the fields, merchants were just putting out their freshest breads to entice the hungry dinner crowd, and a group of Seti traders had come in to make a scene. One young Seti in particular Shamus watched for a little while, she seemed livelier than the rest. Her friends and relations seemed quick to reign her in before they attracted too much attention to themselves.

The Thane was always the last wolf to come in from the fields at the end of the day, so Shamus knew he still had a few minutes. That was going to be one thing that changed when he began to rule this dusty lot. He had done his fair share of labor in his life, it was time for others to do the working for him. Of course, some would complain. Maybe he could entice some immigrants in to take their jobs. He didn't care that the Seti and Jivanta plains wolves weren't Saffrons, if they could dig a ditch they could come and build Shamus a proper town.

The smell of the honeybread that he had so enjoyed earlier wafted back to his nose, even fresher than the loaves he had devoured at lunch. How could anyone resist that delicacy? Well unfortunately he could at the moment, he was still full from his lunch fit for three. Still, he visited the merchant's stall and purchased another loaf, and shamelessly drawing attention to himself, plopped it down in front of the Seti traders. "Try this meal on for size, mateys, my treat! Anything to keep your little ones from nibbling any more tails tonight," Shamus said with a lighthearted chuckle. "Enjoy the fair, be sure the try a bit of everything!" No sense in wasting this time, might as well build up a little bit of goodwill with the crowds.

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The group of 12, in addition to two pups in training who were mysteriously giggling, stopped mid-step. They were still licking their maws from the savory meat they just enjoyed together but the scent of the still-warm bread in front of them had them whimpering softly. The male, blonde in color with black ears, and female, brown with a blonde ring on her forehead, who headed their group looked at the friendly Saffron a little skeptically. Saffrons were kind, yes, but usually any wolf at the festival only spoke when spoken to. The pair lowered their noses to sniff at the sweet baked good.

Nezin rose up, sitting back on her haunches with her forepaws hugged to her chest. Her nose wiggled in the air, dripping. "Ooo that smells really good.." She mumbled, causing the wolves beside her rumbled their agreement. They were silently listening for their group leaders and the friendly Saffron to exchange words. "Can we eat it??" Nezin yipped before immediately feeling a nip in her side and catching a glare from the brown she-wolf. "Shut your trap, Nezin!" Someone hissed. "You were all thinking it.." She grumbled."

"Why thank you kind fur." The male leader spoke after a bit. "I'm sure a certain someone in our group will thoroughly enjoy this. But did I hear you say that our pups were nipping at your tail?"
"And if you really did say that I would be happy if you pointed them out to me. The she-wolf added.

Now that the two were chipping at the ice, the group started to spill out from behind them and circle the Saffron slightly. They left him room to escape if he felt intimidated by their actions, still their tails wagged gently as they quietly gazed him while their eyes sparkled with curiosity. Especially Nezin, she loved new friends.

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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

Smiling at the group of travelers, Shamus knew from experience that every drop of goodwill he gained by giving gifts was well worth the price. Wolves were even more eager to do the will of those that they liked. Not that he wanted anything in particular from these Seti, other than their fond recognition when he was elected Thane tomorrow evening. His first days as alpha would certainly be smoother if other wolves knew who he was.

"Why ma'dear, I would hate to point out the little scamps for just bein' pups, eh? Perhaps it wasn't your well behaved young ones," Shamus said with a little laugh, glancing between the legs of the older wolves to where the younger ones milled about. Amidst the crowd of wolves that gathered about him, Shamus was at this best. He truly shined when he was at the center of attention, and even the recent ambush in the Hemlock pack couldn't dampen his delight at being surrounded. Gaining someone's attention often came at quite a cost, and getting it for free was all the better. That one Seti, Nezin someone had called her, seemed particularly attentive, and Shamus couldn't help but direct his next comments towards her.

"In any case, you lot must've come far! My, in my travels I must say there is nothing like the beauty of the rolling steppe you mateys have the pleasure of calling home. But you may as well make the most've what little we have to offer while we have you here. There is more than just the honey bread you know," Shamus explained, pausing to give a wink at that Nezin, who had seemed most enamored by his gift. "Musicians, acrobats, fools, songs and dance, the grandstands overlooking the valley, the spiced and sweet pork breads from off the main alley, tomorrow night's election of the Thane. If there is anything you all need to pass the time and forget that war, we have it here. Make sure you make your trip worth your while!"

Shamus knew there was a delicate dance between being welcoming and being annoying, so he made a motion to step to the side so that the group could pass if they wished, while keeping his stance open if they had any other questions.

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Catching the eye of the Saffron made the pups tuck their tails and skitter out of view, hiding behind the backs of the group leaders. But thank goodness he hadn't tattled on them. For what they did they would have caught much more than an eye.

The Seti's listened with swiveled ears and wagging tails, their noses wiggling as they all familiarized themselves with his scent. Well as much as they could from the distance they were from him. Those standing behind him did dare leaning a little closer though, but stopped when they were hip checked. Manners meant everything to a pack who lived out in the open.

While he spoke, their leaders nodded gently, making a mental note of all the attractions and hoping that the rest of their wolves were doing the same. But when the Saffron winked in a general direction, everyone swiveled their heads until they figured out it was Nezin who was the subject of the gesture.

Nezin had stiffened up and flattened her ears, her fur puffing up under the stare of everyone in her group. She didn't know why the Saffron winked at her, she'd never met him in her life! So when he made the slight movement that signaled he was done with his spiel she jumped to her paws and shook herself. "Well! The sun won't stay up forever! I better be off to gather what I can! Come on pups!" She spun and nervously, yet quickly trotted away, the pups darting after her in a fit of giggles.

After her departure there was a moment of awkward silence until the brown she-wolf cleared her throat. "Well. We thank you for your warm welcome. I'm sure we'll all visit the main events of the festival during our stay." She bowed her head gently. Then as she walked off, she signaled the rest to do the same with a flick of her tail.

The blonde male was next to approach, gently bowing his head while saying his thanks. "Please pay no attention to Nezin. It's often very hard to separate her from the ranks of the pups. But besides that, I am Nile and the brown she-wolf is Nona. What may I call you?" his nose wiggled.

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#, as written by Krypt
Shamus

Shamus flicked his ears as Nile drew his attention back to the present, his mind reviewing for the countless time his plans for tonight. Quickly processing the wolf's comment, Shamus responded with another light chuckle. He had to admit that Nezin's reaction has been amusing, almost like that of a guilty pup who had been caught stealing a piece of meat. "Oh, not a problem matey, she reminds me of one of my younger sisters. Jumpier than a surprised hare, she is. You can call me Shamus, if it pleases ya," Shamus responded in his mirth.

This group of Seti seemed very patriarchal, moreso than the Saffron. All deference and respect went into one or two leaders. He had to wonder if all of Seti nomads behaved like them, and he expected so. The key to controlling them would be as simple as controlling their leaders, it seemed. The rest of the wolves seemed to follow as obediently as a sheep to his shepherd. The more democratic Saffron would be a little bit more complicated, but he already knew how powerful fear could be in controlling this normally jovial pack of his. Still, he may have need of both packs eventually, and those giddy Jivanta as well, if he was going to properly fortify Nigerius' southern steppe. He was going to get his well deserved life of ease, and he was going to have the protection to make it last.

One step at a time though. "I hope to see and your good pack around, matey. I need to excuse myself to prepare for tomorrow festivities," Shamus said with a bow most gracious. Assuming that the wolf was not going to hold him up, Shamus would await the other wolf's reply, and then turn to head back to the main street. All he needed now was to wait for the Thane to return. The sun was getting lower in the sky, and shadows were beginning to lengthen. Soon the Saffron would begin lighting the torches that lined the roads and were picketed next to the stalls, and light would again awash the village.

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"Good luck to you then. And thank you again for the warm welcome." Nile replied with a smile while rising to his paws. Once Shamus had walked off, he picked up the honey bread he'd left behind and trotted to catch up with Nona.

Meanwhile...
Nezin stalked along the colorful stalls filled with food, attractions, and dazzling collections to catch the eye of wolves who walked by. But she ignored all of these, her mind focused. Her ears were pricked and swiveling left and right. Her eyes were narrowed and her nose wiggled. Then, without warning, she darted forward and pushed her head under the cart of a merchant, much to the protest of his clientele and the merchant himself. Especially since her bushy tail was wiggling back and forth and taking people out in the process.

"Heavens!" "Hey!" "What the heck are you doing?!" "Stick your nose somewhere else!" They all scolded, while teetering about to not step on her.

Nezin quickly pulled her head out from under the cart, flattening her ears to feign guilt. "Sorry!" She yipped before skirting away from them. She was walking down the main path again, now grumbling. "Where the heck.."
And then there was a crash and a shout

"Who's pups are these?!! Get them out of my stall!! Thieves!!!"

"Haha!!" Nezin grinned and broke out into a run toward the commotion. She arrived at a game stall just in time to see the two Seti pups burst out of the side in a cloud of bird feathers. Their heads snapped left and right, their cover was blown and on top of it there was a hulking mass of grey fur accusing them of thievery. But when they saw Nezin sprinting towards them with the wind she whipped up blowing back her fur and that victorious look in her eyes, all their troubles fizzed away in a fit of giggles and scrabbling paws. The two pushed and shoved each other for a moment before they each found their footing and began hauling it down the main path, squealing giddily.

"You get back here you mangy pups!!" Nezin yipped after them. She dared not slow down because although they were only half her size, long legs ran through Seti blood and these two were using them to their full potential.

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Shamus

"Ah yes, that's the way matey. A little luck and a lot of braggin' is sure to follow. How's it done? Ah well, we Saffron just have a we Saffron just have a way of doin' things, some of us bein' a bit more skilled than others. What, don't you think luck is an element like yours? Why, that's like callin' a Dimitrios a mere pebble thrower! Luck is as a part of me as fire is a part of you..."

Shamus watched the two wolves go at another round of tug-of-war, with the wolf that Shamus had endowed with his own particular blend of 'luck' eventually pulling ahead. In fact, the wolf had managed to pull the leather band clean out of his opponents mouth, something that rarely happened when a wolf got his jaw locked in. Shamus wasn't above hedging his bet, however, for he had picked the bigger wolf to give his luck to. How much was Shamus' luck and how much was the Tenneth's brawn was anyone's guess. At least Shamus got a bit of attention.

Speaking of attention, Shamus had his drawn to the ruckus that was making its way down the street towards him. Those two little Seti snipes were causing a stir, and who should be coming after them but Miss Nezin. They were tearing down the cobbled path like a hound chasing a pair of foxes, and there was more than a few indignant wolves getting riled up by the stir. Of course, there were still many bystanders who saw the good humor in pups just being pups, but from the shouting they left behind there was sure to be at least a few upset wolves in their wake.

As with any situation, Shamus wondered if he could turn this to his own advantage. He was still in a position where he could trip up the pups by jumping in front of them, but they would probably knock him off his feet in the process. Would he look silly to bystanders, or would he look like a hero? He did have a bone to pick with these pups after he let them off the hook the first time, he would've thought that they would have learned their lesson. Ah, but did he ever? Some lessons needed to be taught more than once.

Deciding to take a chance at looking noble, Shamus jumped in front of the racing young wolves, aiming to land in front of them instead of on them. He had waited long enough that they probably wouldn't have time to turn, but would have to either halt or crash into him. If he had time to get words out before impact, the Saffron would say something like "Now I thought we had an understanding, ladies! I let you off the first time so that you would learn to mind!"

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Running running, snapping and giggling.

More than once Nezin pulled close to the heels of the two pups but each time she had missed a chance to snap one up by its scruff so they had only squealed and put on an extra burst of speed. Still though, she was gaining on them. She could see their sides heaving with effort to outrun her, but she'd been at this chasing game for much longer than they had and would soon catch up. But it wasn't so fun anymore when a large wolf stepped directly into their path, shouting something.

At first the plan was to skirt around him but the pups yipped in surprise when they realized it was the male that the group had encountered towards the entrance to the festival. They began skidding and stopping their paws on the ground. Left right left right left right! Dust kicked up into Nezin's eyes and she flattened her ears to the sound of their whimpering and then cries of shock as they started tripping up and tumbling.

It was too short of a stop to cut her speed down so she had to jump over them and only spare them a brief glance backwards. When she looked forward again and saw the wolf Shamus standing there with his nose high from authority she snorted her objection. But she was closing in fast and had to do something so that she wouldn't bowl him over. So she scoured her mind and flattened her ears.

Wait for it.. wait for it.. Now!

Her tail gave a wiggle and as it passed through the structure of the appendage her form shifted from a long legged, blonde she-wolf, to a stubby legged, brown, bushy tail squirrel. The changed passed through her like wind on the Zeno plains and when it was completed she had launched herself over the back of Shamus. She chattered nervously while in air moments before she hit the ground running. Unfortunately, the pups weren't at the necessary skill level to pull off the Seti highlight in such a short amount of time and under such stress. Instead they fell in a heap of legs at Shamus' very own while a short distance away, the chattering squirrel shook itself out and phased back into Nezin. She gave a sneeze before whirling around and stomping over to Shamus.

"Now I'd have to be just plain empty headed to step in front of herd of Buffalo moving at a break neck pace! And expecting them to stop no less!" Her ears were flat on her head and she was close enough to swipe a paw and nick his nose. "You could have seriously injured one of these pups! Just look at them! Go on! Take a look!" and if he did look he would see that the one ash grey pup had a fresh cut on his nose and was favoring a paw, while the rusty female was covered in dirt and had the tip of one ear drooping unnaturally, she also seemed to have a cut at her tailbone. Huffing into his face, Nezin slid over to the furballs and sniffed over them, checking for anything serious.

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Covered in dust and a little dazed, Shamus realized he had given the pups too much credit when it came to stopping. Sure they could start and go in a split of a second, but halting seemed to be beyond their abilities. The tumble of pups had crashed into his legs and would have knocked him over had he not been expecting it. Ripping one of his paws out from under them, he rubbed it against the back of his opposite leg to sooth the pain. He had made a mistake.

"Well, I guess I was pretty lucky there," Shamus said in aside to the wolves he had been near, making the obvious joke. Only because he knew that one of the other wolves he had been standing by would have made it if he didn't. The Tenneth and his friend who had been tug-a-warring chucked a bit, and Shamus would have though he was done when Miss Nezin had to come pick a bone with him. Well, he deserved it, naturally.

As souless as Shamus sometimes thought he was, the reality was a little farther from that. Like any other wolf he certainly didn't like being yelled out, and being rebuked naturally made him a little defensive. Still, he knew that the scuffle and her loud mouth had attracted attention. No too much, mind you, it wasn't as if pups getting in a tussle was an unheard of thing, but the few wolf eyes that were around were drawn to the action. It was like watching a mother yell at her pup in the middle of the market. No reason watching it other than it being the only thing around to watch.

"Well I'm sorry missie, I shouldn't have tried to help," Shamus said, as sincerely as his adrenaline would let him. "But I was afraid they would run straight'n to our waterin' ditch at the end of the way, and figured if they weren't good swimmers it would've meant a heap of trouble. Awful sorry, mateys."

It was probably the stupidist excuse he could have come up with, any wolf would have known to turn once he saw the clearly marked irrigation ditch. But if he acted enough like a simple hick farm wolf well enough, maybe he could save his nose from another swipe.

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Nezin nudged the pups to their feet while keeping one ear on Shamus. Blah blah blah, you liar. she grumbled in her head. She knew full and well that the ditch was there and that's why she'd been racing to grab them.

"Irrigation Smirrigation..!" She turned her head and glared at him. "If you were so scared that we would fall in the ditch you weren't scared enough to get the wind knocked out of you by jumping in our path! The safest thing you coulda done was call out for us to be careful of it. Now I don't know what your name is but you better leave us alone from here on out." She said with finality. She even gave him a lasting look before turning and stalking off with the little scamps in tow. They limped a little but after a bit they began walking moderately fine, even trotting a little to catch up with their chaperone.

The trio headed back up the path with the young ones the only one of them to give Shamus a guilty glance backward. Nezin walked with her tail swaying indignantly and ignoring anyone who stared at her.

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Not wanting to risk saying anything that would keep the she wolf around a second longer, Shamus swallowed her remarks in embarrassed resignation. Since she was not having it with his apology, Shamus figured the next best thing was to laugh it off. He didn't give a sorry sod about seeing her and her scrappy troublemakers again, so she needn't worry about that. As soon as she rounded the corner, the Saffron snorted and bidding his peers goodbye, said "Well, keep it up mateys, with a little more luck you may get the girlies like me!"

Leaving the others in the lane, Shamus took off across the way towards the Thane's abode. Passing the inn where he had left Felonious, Shamus wondered if the Hemlock was still asleep. Hopefully. No need to have him walking around and getting curious. Then again, having the Hemlock seen may not be such a bad idea, it would give some credibility to his plan.

Ah, at last, the Thane was in from the fields. That old wolf worked to hard. Well, not old per say, but the big gray wolf certainly looked like he had lived a life of hard labor thus far. Compared to Shamus, the larger wolf was covered in all manner of dirt and seed, struggled to keep his head high from the formative of the day, and seemed to have a limp on a back paw, no doubt a strain from farming. Obviously he had a much different philosophy on leadership than Shamus. Lead by example, bah. A leader had much more important thing to do than digging ditches.

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Nezin grumbled to herself for a while, the pups staying quiet for a fear of receiving the same tongue lashing that the other male received. Her dark clouds only lasted so long though. Giving herself a shake, she took a deep breath and stopped to look down at her charges. "You two alright? You looked a little beat up when I first looked you over" she leaned down to nose at them again.

The pups wriggled and immediately began gushing about her display earlier.
"That was soooooo cool! You jumped right over that wolf!" Said the grey one
"And you turned into a squirrel in midair! And it like..! If I'd blinked I woulda missed it!" Squeaked the rusty female.
The pair bounced around her paws, freaking out while Nezin puffed with confidence.

"Well when we leave here in a couple of days I'll show you guys how to change into something cool. But for now!" She nudged them away from her feet and started walking again. "Lets go back to the game stalls and apologized to that poor wolf's stall you guys were hiding in. I think you wrecked it pretty bad."

And then they were off, trotting and swiping at each other while giggling.

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Shamus

Some time later, Shamus sat at a wooden table in the torchlight, the yellow illumination of the flames casting strange shadows across his simple plate of elk meat. It was a small portion, he didn't feel altogether hungry, and besides, the meat just distracted from the delicious strawberry-and-mint drink he had on the side. There were still plenty of wolves around in the main square, for wherever there was night light there was night life. However, on the wooden table going down the side lane that had become a permanent fixture of the annual festival feasts, most of the others had long since eaten and had left. All that was left was a few slow eaters and more than one napper.

Given the relative peace of the scene, Shamus was able to reflect on his conversation with the Thane. Had he said everything right? Sure he thought he had gotten the result he wanted, mostly. But could he have done it even better? He had certainly controlled his language enough that he managed to keep most of the usual swashbuckler out of it. That was a victory in itself. He recalled a few key lines:


"Yes, my Thane. I know you see me as a wolf who has not been around, but on the contrary I have been much more 'round than any wolf in the pack. Save for our few traders, I can assure you that I know more about the warrin' packs than anyone here. What would we do if we mistaken the customs of another pack and cause offense? In these dire times small sparks erupt great fires."

"Domestic affairs? My Thane, every wolf around here knows how to tend a field. But knowin' foreign affairs ensures that we will have those fields to tend!"

"My reputation still proceeds me, despite my many seasons of atonement. My Thane, please do not judge me for the follies of my youth, if you will not recommend me at least don't condemn me for a wolf I no longer am."



Heh, that last one was a real kicker. At least this village was not his native one, as a youth he had grown up on the outskirts, away from the more capital parts of the land. Sure the Deon's should remember him after what he did to the Alpha's daughter, but here? His youthful antics paled in comparison to his more recent schemes! Still, if his meeting with the Seti today proved anything, it was that he could still win others over. Well, except for maybe that one shewolf. Nazin, wasn't it? Or was it Resin? Whatever.


"All I ask for is your recommendation. You need not even vote for me, but at least let others know what merits I do have. Your voice matters. Perhaps if nothin' else wolves will see me less as a tramp, and I can lend a paw in other ways.


Bah, like he would lend his paws to anyone but himself. Doing that led to his paws getting trampled on by running pups. His paw still smarted from that, by the way. If his plan didn't come through the next night and he wasn't made Thane, he would find other ways to his life of ease. Methods much less clean of course, but no less thought out.

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If wolves could sweat, perspiration would be wetting Shamus' brow as nerves racked his brain. It was a hard mixture to get right, especially for a wolf who wasn't used to dealing with poison. If he put too much at the roots, they would die too quickly, and the crowd would be able to see that the wheat was wilting before the blanket was taken off. That wouldn't do, it wouldn't be as dramatic. No drama does not a good showwolf make. The opposite was also bad, of course. If he didn't put enough poison, then the plants would not have been killed by tonight. He would end up looking like a fool, predicting dead crops only for them to be perfectly healthy. Making the best guesswork he could, Shamus gingerly poked a claw into the bags of venom he had obtained from Schemeko's gang, and put the drops of poison at the base of the young wheat plants. Replacing the sheet, Shamus stole out of the back of guarded room and into the early morning light, satisfied that all was set up for the election.

---

His scheme having been set up early in the morning, Shamus was still filled with adrenaline by the time dawn broke across the village. It was a new day. Never mind that he hardly got any sleep the night before, when he was Thane, he could sleep all day. What was he going to do until the election that night? May as well do the same as yesterday and get his face out there. If he could do that without having another pup incident, it would be a productive day.

"Another measure of your fine strawberry mint mead and some honey bread, missie. You have the best wares in the village," Shamus complimented, giving a nod to the young Saffron shewolf who was attending to one the food pavilions. Food vendors of all types were setting up down the lane where the great feasting table was, each eager to supplement their income with the riches that tourists brought in. Shamus took his place at the bench once again, carrying his meal carefully over in his mouth, and at once made himself merry with the few wolves beside him. Telling a story of his adventure with an Arlyne sailor that was sure to be full of exaggeration, Shamus did his best to entertain his fellow breakfast eaters while he tore into his own meal.

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Shamus

The thing about telling a popular story, was that you had to keep telling it, and Shamus found himself more often than not with his mouth empty. Not exactly ideal for a wolf who was trying to eat breakfast, as he watched his group of avid listeners dwindle as they finished their own meals, while his remained largely untouched, save for that big bite he took at the beginning. "Well mateys, I'll catch up with you later, if'n I don't starve from all my gabbing," Shamus said with a smirk to the few that were left, which they took with a nod and dispersed.

Content to have-at his meal of tender deer meat, the Saffron couldn't help but here the musings of one of the wolves behind him that was perusing the stalls. By the fang, of all the wolves to keep running into. Well, I guess she has to eat too. Shamus was very much tempted to stay out of her way, he didn't fancy getting yelled at again. She seemed to have this nasty habit of bumping in to him time and again, and Shamus started to wonder if making the slightest hint at amends would be better. This shouldn't be seen as bad luck, but an opportunity. He didn't want to feel awkward every time one of her pack mates walked by because she was spreading slander. Plus, she was kinda cute for a Seti. There was always that.

"Well eat what you want and share the rest, nothing wrong with givin' away a bit of honey bread!" Shamus sung out over his shoulder as a call back to his good deed yesterday. It was a comment that didn't necessarily need a reply, so she could easily ignore it if she chose. Still, he wasn't going to be the reason for bad blood between the Seti and the Saffron. Not at least until he was elected.

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Nezin was stuck between a stall displaying steaming hunks of buffalo meat and a vendor showcasing steamed and seasoned vegetables. The servings of meat made her stomach clench and gurlge, and she found herself licking her maw much too often. But on the other paw, the vegetables tickled her curiosity and memory. Last year at the festival, she had tried the food that this vendor was selling and it had been a completely new and delicious experience. Setis didn't have much in terms of veggies since they lived in the middle of the plains, meat was the one and only.

Nezin groaned. She'd successfully narrowed her options down to two but now she couldn't choose between the two she'd chosen! "Hhh.. Wish there was a second opinion arou-" she stopped mid sentence and listened to a familiar voice singing something about honey bread. Sniffing, she allowed herself a temporary break from making a decision by turning around and gazing over at Shamus' table, she'd learned his name again from her travel-companions. "Is he following me or something.." she mumbled, her ears flattening defensively but soon lifting again. No no.. he's eating.. he just coincidentallg got here before me.. plenty of wolves are out for something to eat, her mind murmured. Her mean side wanted to hold onto her annoyance at the incident from yesterday afternoon, but her kind side wanted to trot over and ask him to help her choose what to eat. As a Seti she had a very bland palette and would probably never decide without help. She rhythmically dug her claws into the soil while thinking and gazing, her eyes dark with thought.

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Shamus

Nothing left on his plate but a bit of grease, Shamus couldn't help but taking a few licks of the platter to get the most out of his breakfast. His tongue scooping up whatever discarded spices remained, the Saffron was soon satisfied that he had gotten the most out of his meal. Much more than that Seti shewolf, she didn't even get a meal yet. Having shrugged to himself when she didn't answer, Shamus had focused on quickly finishing his meal so that he could head over to the pavillions set up outside of town. There was a particular ball thowing game he wanted to try that involved twirling yourself around and releasing the ball-on-a-string at the right moment to knock down a target. He had never got the timing down as a youth, and he really wanted to try it again.

Lapping up the rest of his drink and making sure there was no morsel left uneatin, Shamus scooped up his plate in his mouth, and began to head over to the wagon where a couple of older pups were given the chore of cleaning dishes. The little scamps took his plate with strange eagerness, and immediately began to fight over who would be the one cleaning it. It seems they both liked getting into the bubbles, and for some reason they could only do that when they were washing something. Surprisingly, the smaller of the two actually managed to succeed by pushing the bigger one over into the large tub of soapy water. The triumphant pup was soon dismayed when he realized that he wasn't going to be able to clean the plate without the other one swiping at his nose from the tub. Instead, the smaller pup just quickly licked Shamus' plate until he thought it looked clean enough, and smacked it down in the stack with the rest of the clean ones when he thought no one was looking. Shamus decided he would stick around just long enough to see the soapy pup jump out of the suds and tackle the other one. Such the joys of being a pup.

The setting changes from harvest-grove to Maxim Lake

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Shamus

The sun slitting through the trees grew lower with every bend, as the Saffron traveler gratefully awaited the impending evening. His satchel had grown heavy long ago, and there was that constant debate of whether to sinch the strap up close and be hot, or to loosen it and have pack jostle around with every step. He readjusted every ten paces it seemed like.

Shamus sniffed the air, heartened again by the smell of the nearby water. Maxim Lake was close. Not only was that waypoint good for a drink and a bath, but it also meant he had finally put a decent space between himself and that confounded village. His latest scheme at glory had failed. How was he to know that the elector's wheat was going to be made into bread? In seasons past, those who sought to be alpha merely had to show their skill by correctly predicting how a couple stalks of grain were going to look, not eat it! And that poison! It was supposed to kill the plants right away, not linger around invisible until it was baked and the electors were to eat it at some sanctimonious closing ceremony. Shamus' facade had fallen apart when it had been his turn to eat the poisoned bread. For once his silver tongue couldn't get him out of a pinch. It didn't help that the wolf who had eaten before him had already started to choke. At least his legs had still worked. Though he still had to wonder what they would do to Felonious when they found the Hemlock in their midst...

All recollections ceased as he rounded the next bend, his mind's eye focused on the scene ahead of him. Carcasses of wolves littered the path. Shamus looked left and right, skittish at first. Unnerving sight. It took him a moment to reason that if he was going to be ambushed, it would have already happened. Like to these unfortunate sods. What the devil had happened?

Curiousity slowly replacing his initial apprehension, Shamus approached the gruesome scene. It looked fresh...but how fresh? A swipe of his paw at a random wolf's tail revealed that it had already started to stiffen; the attack must have occured at least half a day ago. Whomever the attacker was was long gone. Had they left anything behind?

Always on the hunt for something quick and easy, the spurious Saffron began to nose about the wolf's remaining possessions. They weren't using them any more. Besides his initial tail swipe, he was careful to avoid contacting any of the bodies, more out of squemishness than anything. After several minutes of fruitless searching, obviously the wolves had already been looted, Shamus turned to leave when a glimmer caught his the corner of his eye. A glance in that direction revealed what was. A gemstone necklace, still worn by its owner, reflecting in the evening sun.

Shamus couldn't believe his luck. He could use those fancy colored rocks for all sorts of scams! If wolves though that the hokey little wooden talismans he trades out were worth worshiping, imagine what they would trade him for a lucky gemstone! He knew a general or two who would easily trade away his only daughter for a rock that could give a lucky break in battles. What fun he could have with those!

Almost giggling with glee, Shamus padded carefully over to the fallen shewolf, and gently brushed the fur on her neck away from the glistening necklace. "Well aren't you pretty..." he muttered.

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Ash

"Well, aren't you pretty..." Had things gone the easy way, the words spoken by Shamus would have fallen on deaf ears, but unfortunately for him, someone was around to wake up to them.

Ash blinked her eyes open, and as she has always been aware of the space between her beloved gems and strangers, she knew some low life was trying to steal from her. And since she had just been in battle a few hours before, her reflexes came back quickly.

Not a second after Shamus touched her necklace, she jumped up!

Letting out a small growl of disapproval, Ash quickly disengaged Shamus from her necklace with a swipe of her paws, "Let go!" Strange how she was more concerned over getting stolen from then being happy about having survived a massacre. "Low life." It was muttered under her breathe as she quickly picked up her pack of gems that had been laying under her, whilst checking it's content.

Everything was there.

Ash let out a sigh of relief that the low life in front of her hadn't taken anything... yet. She was sure he'd try something else though. "Gem stealing thieves don't live very long."

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Shamus

To say that Shamus was startled is an understatement. Not only did a supposed corpse reanimate right before his eyes, but his paw had briefly become entangled in her necklace, dragging him off balance. "SHNERZZZ!" is probably the closest to the exclamation that snarled through gritted teeth. As soon as she batted away, his freed paw immediately went to his chest, where he had sworn his heart skipped a beat or three.

"The devil's fang, missie! What's your beef doin' that?!" Shamus said loudly, practically yelling. It took a moment of heavy breathing for him to get his voice down to it's usual cadence. Unsurely, he prodded the nearest prone figure to make sure it wasn't about to leap up as well. It didn't. Yet.

"Gem stealing thieves don't live very long."

"Heh, well, you don't seem to know about livin' long, missie. At least your comp'ny don't," Shamus responded, his tone still high strung as he gestured to the bodies of the fallen Dimitrios. Strange, there weren't any other packs about. Had the rival pack gotten away clean, or had some kind of infighting broken out?

"Asides, what business do you have missie, insulting me? I don' see anythin' more insultin' than you pretending to be dead among the fallen," Shamus continued, uncharacteristically defensive. It was then he remembered how exactly she had insulted him, with "gem stealing thief" as her line. Oh yeah. She had gems. He had forgotten all about those stupid rocks amidst the whole wakening of the dead.

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