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Spirits of the Desert

The Great Desert

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a part of Spirits of the Desert, by NobodiesHiiro.

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NobodiesHiiro holds sovereignty over The Great Desert, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

Default Location for Spirits of the Desert
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The Great Desert is a part of Spirits of the Desert.

5 Characters Here

John St. Jude [14] "I'll be your guide."
Mariah Ramone [14] "Let the God of the lost guide you."
Lupis Nellin [4] The eternal cycle will contiue, through whatever means neccessary
Paskal Beltane [2] "They say that the strong and bold will change the world - it's a lie, and I'll prove it."
Torin Draak [1] " Strength is power in this harsh world"

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude
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Mariah could always tell when she was in a dream, be it the vivid colors of a jungle she had never seen before or the fact that she could speak to animals. One animal in particular, the three eyed raven, his name was Junther. He came to Mariah often in her dreams, sometimes as a bird but other times as a man. Even in her lucid state she could recall having him in dreams as a child. This time was different, the air crackled with energy as her bare feet stepped softly and silently on the forest undergrowth. "Junther?" The girl called, voice echoing and reverberating around her. Still no sign of the glass raven, which was odd, she could sense him but not see him. There was movement
to her left, a blur of translucent feathers and wings. Mariah smiled, rolling her eyes as she shifted direction to walk the way where she had seen the bird. "I saw you Junther, now c'mon you dingy old bird, I could wake up any second." Mariah said with impatience, gasping as she stepped on a thorny vine. Blood beaded along the bottom of her foot, though it went ignored as she stepped more carefully. "Junther-" She was about to call out to him again, but was cut off by a gust of wind, the raven landing on the ground in front of her. His sharp beak opened, letting out an awful screech, warning the girl to hold her tongue. It's small glass like body swelled to the size and shape of a man, though there were no distinguishing features to identify him by. A glossy hand stretched out to caress the side of Mariah's face, a ghostly thumb brushing along her cheek. The hand moved down her neck, touching the base of her throat before sliding across the rigid bone of her collar. The act was endearing, Mariah smiling up at her spirit guardian, opening her mouth to say something. Instead a strangled gasp erupted from her as Junther pressed his palm flat against the skin of her collar bone, a white hot, searing, pain burning Mariah. Upon instinct she tried to step back, but a firm hand on her shoulder held her there, immobilizing her struggles. Mariah could feel her skin burning under his touch, screaming for him to let go, hot tears escaping from her eyes. "Be still my child, be still. There is no need to cry." The man spoke, lifting his hand from where he had made his mark on her fair skin. "It's time to wake up." Confused and disoriented she tilted her head, still staring up at the spirit, the edges of her vision beginning to blur. "Its time to wake up." It was his voice, but mixed with another. "Mariah, wake up!"

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Slowly, two mint green eyes blinked open. A face hovered above Mariah's, making her gasp and sit up, causing the two to knock heads together. "Mariah!" Her mother's shrill voice scolded as the older woman sat back, rubbing her forehead. "Mom, what are you doing?" The girl asked with a groan, flopping back down onto her sleeping mat. Outside the howling winds slapped at the tent walls, threatening to knock them over or carry them away. "Its nearly light out and your still sleeping beauty, now c'mon. Up, up, up." Her mother urged, patting her bottom for emphasis before standing and exiting the tent. Mariah groaned, kicking off the thin blanket that had been covering her, sitting up more slowly and putting a hand to her forehead with a small sigh. As she went to stand there was a sharp pain on the bottom of her foot, causing her to remain seated. Lifting her leg and turning it she was surprised to see three small cuts, red and angry looking. Her dark brows furrowed together in confusion, shrugging it off, placing her foot back down and standing up. The initial pain had subsided to a mere dull ache, making it easier for her to ignore. Gathering her thick and unruly brown locks in both hands she tied the air into a high knot on her head, keeping it out of her face.

Satisfied that there were no loose strands the sleepy eyed girl pulled on a dull brown skirt, the ends touching the top of her feet, flowing in a dirty circle around her legs. Tossing off her sleeping shirt she put on an animal hide piece to cover her bust and one shoulder, tying it securely at the back. With a hand she pushed the tent's entrance flap open, ducking as she walked outside. Clan life started early, the sun still hiding under the horizon, it's golden rays stretching up to paint the morning clouds a brilliant orange and a soft purple. Mariah bent down, grabbing a bucket from where it sat against her tent, swinging it back and forth by the handle as she walked over the desert with bare and silent feet. The girl passed many old and worn faces of those of her tribe, their ratty clothing hanging off their skinny bodies. A group of boys chased two girls past her, laughing and yelling with bones of old owls and frogs in hand, the girls screaming if they got too close. The tribe had lived in poverty for nearly a century, abandoned by the other desert tribes after the First War. They wouldn't come back into power for another four centuries, that is, if they made it that long.
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Their elderly were sick, children malnourished, and hunters poorly skilled. Without the other tribes to trade with they had suffered through the long and harsh summer. Mariah couldn't recall how many had perished over the season, the fall bringing a relief from the death but threatening to return it with a bitter cold winter. If they continued in this state for much longer they would perish and be lost to the desert like countless other tribes before them. Would mother's tell them tales of the trickster clan of Ravens, scare them with stories of deception and cunningness? You can save them, Mariah, but only if you do everything I tell you. Everything. A voice whispered to the raven haired girl as she pumped dirty water out of the well and into her bucket.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude
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He woke in front of a fire. The sky lit with endless stars, the moon hidden behind a single shadowy cloud. His seat was warm despite him going to sleep in the cold, and the forest around him was alive with the sound of the night, animal eyes peering at him through the undergrowth, a situation that would normally have made him weary, but he was calm, calm as he could ever remember being.

“Hello.” The voice did not startle him, even though it rang with all the depth of creation. It didn't even register as odd that a man and a seat had simply appeared where he knew there was none before. He was an old man, terribly old, skin the consistency of leather and heavily lined with age. He had long hair, black as the night sky, and eyes the color of a burning comet. He wore simple clothes, the hide of a great coyote draped over his shoulders, the head being used like a hood.

“Hello.” John replied utterly calm, turning his head away from the woods to face the man across from him. He knew that he could trust this man. He didn't know how he knew that. He just did. “Where is this?” He asked, feeling like he should know the answer, but thinking nothing of it.

The old man smiled, nodding slightly as he did so, muttering to himself absentmindedly before speaking to John again. “This is my home, and I'd like you to help me.” He said simply, plainly, but the words carried a weight that settled onto the shoulders the minute they were spoken, and John, even through his strange calm sat up straighter, head held high. “I-i of course.” He replied knowing he could not refuse.

Smile still upon his face the old man nodded to himself, as if he had never doubted the answer. “You are to be their guide. Find them, keep them together, keep them from fighting as my children fight. Find the pool, and come to us.” His brow furrowed at the mans words, at his request. It made no sense to him, he didn't understand, everything seemed so murky for some reason, he couldn't think straight.

“I don't understand, guide who, what pool?”The questions poured from him, and with each one he seemed to step more outside himself, it felt wrong, like his spirit leaving his body, or returning to it when he hadn't known it was wandering. Hadn't he gone to bed in a village? He thought to himself, a small level of alarm settling in his gut, but a look at the man slowly circling the fire calmed him.

As he came to stand before John, he lay his hand on his chest over his heart. “Go first to the land of the raven, you will find your answers there. I cannot be seen to take a side.” A burning began in his chest where the mans hand rested, his calm evaporated, he went to shove the man away, but a strong shove sent him tumbling backwards.

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He woke with a start gasping, and clawing at his chest, the sun just rising over the horizon, he sat before a pile of ash that the night before had been a fire, but he was surrounded by huts and sand, not trees. People were just beginning to come from their homes, one man, older than the rest and dressed similarly to John made his way towards him.

“You slept before the fire again. You will catch your death of sickness if you're not careful.” He said it with a laugh, and a hearty slap to his back, making him flinch forward, still grasping at his chest, trying to remember the words from his vision, as he understood it to now be, it had been so clear. The man, no, the elder, a visit from the elder himself.

“Are you alright?” The other man asked voice full of concern, coming around to look down at the sweating visage, of his apprentice. “What has happened?”

“I am to go to the land of the raven.” He said distractedly, thoughts flying through his head a mile a minute, knowledge that had not been there before settling into its new place, this was not the first time he'd woken with strange knowledge in his head, but it was the first time it was tied to a vision.

“I see.”His master replied, a look of confusion on his face, before he asked. “Why?”

He stood with difficulty leaning heavily on his staff, never answering the question as he headed to his home, a small hut on the edge of town, his master followed in silence, knowing he would speak when he was ready. “The elder has tasked me to guide someone, he did not say who.” He said finally as he gathered all that he would need for the journey, putting it where it belonged.

The sun was fully up by the time they exited his hut, his master having kept quiet the entire time he'd been preparing to leave. “I believe you.” He said finally, nodding his head as if it was the single most logical thing in the world. “It is no stranger than knowledge simply appearing in your head.” he said, seeing the skeptical look his apprentice gave him.

“Fair enough.” John replied, laughing slightly, feeling some of the tension leaving his body as he clasped hands with the man who had been like his father for many years.

“Stay safe.” They both said at the same time, releasing each other at the same time, as he turned seeming to leap, then curl in on himself a red coyote taking his place and heading towards a village he'd only been to twice, the first time to heal a women who was not recovering well from childbirth, and the second, well the second time he'd gotten nearly killed by a beast, and gained his limp.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude Character Portrait: Lupis Nellin
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He awoke. He awoke to the moonlight shining down upon him, illuminating the surrounding area in a pale glow. Where is this place , he thought. It seemed familiar to the young man, as though if it were a dream long since passed. Despite the serenity and beauty of the location, something stirred within him, grasping at his throat and weighing down his stomach. He remembered going to bed on his mat in the tent but he awoke here. He was confused and lost with no way home.

A rustle came from behind him, or was it above him? He couldn't tell in his half-awake state but he investigated nonetheless. He stumbled through the forest for a few minutes until he came to a clearing. It was cut in a perfect circle around what appeared to be a nest. It didn't seem too out of place in the area but he was still unsettled. It seemed that the owner wasn't around for Lupis to have to deal with.

He approached the nest with great care so as not to alert who might have been there last. "Tread with care, child." A voice called. Lupis span on his heels to be greeted by a...bird? It was a bright orange and red and seemed to pulsate as if it were on fire. He was surprised by the bird but, it couldn't have talked. Could it?

He reached for his dagger but was alarmed when he didn't find it at his side. "Calm yourself, there is nothing to fear here." It talked again!
"Who are you?" the shocked man asked. The bird simply stared before becoming engulfed in bright flames. The heat was incredible and he had to shield his eyes. Before him now stood a man...his...brother?! "Adrian!" He wanted to hug his brother but couldn't find it in him to move a muscle. He spoke, but it want his brother's voice, it rang with a deep wise-ness and caring. "I, no, you. You and four others have been tasked with a great duty." The figure reached out and put a hand on his back. A searing pain ensued that knocked the wind out of him, he wanted to run but he was forced to the ground and held there until it was finished burning whatever it was burning into his skin. "Now, the time of rebirth is at hand young one. Let us both rise anew today."

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Lupis' eyes flew wide open and he sat up with great speed. The figure was not wrong, the sun was rising over the horizon and he could tell something was going to change in the coming future. He shed his sleeping garments and folded them on top of his mat while donning his usual attire, breathing a sigh of relief as he realized his dagger was still there. The young man slung his spear over his shoulder as he left his tent.

He caught sight of many people leaving their abodes and heading towards the great fire that is kept burning through the night, each whispering a silent prayer to the Sun Phoenix, thanking him for another day. He thought back to the now somewhat hazy dream from last night. The bird looked a lot like a phoenix now that he thought about it. And then his brother's appearance. Why would he have been there? Why would the bird have taken that specific form?

He was knocked from his thoughts to a forceful clasp on the back, his friends had found him and rescued him from his many questions. "Lupis, today's the day!" one of them piped up.
"For what?"
"Don’t tell me you forgot already, today's the day of a big hunt. We're all leaving early." a second one explained

Don't go, not today. You have more important duties. That voice again! Why was it tryin to stop him from going on a hunt? More importantly, it wasn’t a dream?! "I'd love to and all but I'm actually on border defense today, sorry."
"What a shame, I hope you get some excitement there at least. Cya!" the one with the hand on Lupis' shoulder said. They all walked towards the entrance of the village and merged with another group of men. In reality he had no such duties. Why did he follow the voice so blindly? What is this important task he and others where set to. He was enraptured by these thoughts as he lay there in his tent, alternately trying to rationalize what just happened and trying to keep himself busy.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude
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Mariah scrubbed a sand stained shirt, with tedious hands, up and down a washboard. Gritty water soaked the fabric as she worked out the greasy sweat and grim that so dubiously coated most of her clothing. The biting wind threatened to tear down the laundry she had hanging out on a line already, the wet clothes smacking against the air. Despite having put her hair up earlier that morning, strands had still found a way into her eyes, the girl letting out a huff to blow the hair out of her face. With fingers cramping and hands pruned she sat back, lifting the shirt she had been working out of the water to examine. No amount of scrubbing would ever lift the orange that stained everything in the desert, it was as good as it was going to get. Standing from the wooden stool she walked over to the clothes line, unpinning a clip from where it clung to the waistband of her skirt. Prying it open with her mouth she used her nimble fingers to clasp the shirt by the shoulders to the line.

Stifling a squeal of surprised Mariah nearly jumped out of her skin as there was a loud screech from behind her. Putting a hand to her heart she let out an audible sigh, turning to glare at the raven who had perched itself on the post of one of the clothes line. "Dingy old bird." She muttered, glaring at it with sinister eyes. The bird's head tilted, beady black eyes gazing back at her, it's beak opening as it cawed towards her. Mariah rolled her eyes, picking up the bucket of water, intent on using it sparingly to do her dishes. There was a flutter of feathers, announcing the bird had taken to the air, obviously done taunting her. Mariah gasped as the large black bird dove at her, carrying a piece of clothing in its beak. "Hey! Come back with that!" She gasped, running after without hesitation.
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Sprinting past the other tribe members she dodged around them, arms pumping back and forth as her legs stretched in a free run. About a half mile outside the outskirts of her village her gait faltered as she stumbled into a walk, gulping air into her burning lungs. Curse her short legs and lack of endurance, picking up a rock to throw half heartedly at the bird. The stone was no where near its mark, but it made her feel slightly better to see the raven flap its wings so it went higher. Groaning in frustration she followed more slowly, making sure to keep her eyes on the cunning animal as it rode air thermals peacefully out of reach. The sun was beating down on her back and even though her feet were tough the sand was burning at her skin. "Oh c'mon, i'm sorry for calling you dingy and old." Mariah tried apologizing to the bird, to no avail.
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Furrowing her brows she trudged on, shielding her eyes as she looked forward. At first she thought the tiny movement on the horizon was a mirage but she quickly shook the thought out of her head. The Raven Tribe was immune to mirages, they're knowing eyes saw everything was what they were. Suddenly the bird started a descent, screeching loudly as it dropped her shirt. The fabric floated rather gracefully down onto its target, tangling the animal as the bird climbed high into the sky, seeming to all but disappear. Mariah groaned in frustration, jogging to take possession of her belonging, muttering under her breath.



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Powerful legs propelled him over the sands at speeds his human form could never hope to maintain. He'd been running almost nonstop since he'd left his home. The urgency of the elder's mission carrying him through the freezing nights, and burning days. He was close now though, the sand became somewhat more solid the closer to the village he came. Eventually it would turn into sandstone, and a modest village.

The sun beat down on his head, the light making the red of his fur stand out, and appear like a flame moving across the desert. His breathing was even, and a leg that he could barely walk on in his human form supported him beautifully in this one. He couldn't smell much however. His nose so full of sand when he tried, he no longer bothered.

Damned sand, he thought. Wishing he could have made the trip as a human, but knowing he probably couldn't walk that far, but still regretting a coyotes lack of opposable thumbs, and ability to smoke a pipe. Soon he'd be to the area the battle with the monsters had taken place. The one where he'd taken a wound to his leg from a dust devil, its form that of a great lizard, or wingless dragon.

The things had not gone down easy. He'd been in the process of shoving one of their warriors out of the path of a breath of sand that could strip flesh from bone, when he'd felt white hot pain in his thigh, and hit the ground bleeding from the hip. After that, everything was something of a blur, he remembered fighting more, aggravating the wound and making it worse.

A loud shriek pierced the air. Causing him to flinch as his sensitive ears were assaulted, and a moment later his head and legs got tangled in some sort of cloth. Sending him crashing end over end, finally coming to a stop in a heap, shirt covering his snout smelling decidedly feminine.

He willed the change, form stretching and twisting, bones snapping and reforming into his original self. He was standing after the shift, leaning heavily on his staff he gingerly pulled the womans shirt of his face. Fingering the cloth, feeling the texture between his calloused fingers.

“What in the world?” He wondered. Finally hearing the sounds of footsteps approaching. He eyed the woman approaching, he'd seen her before. Knew she was of the raven's tribe, though, they'd never been introduced, and he was pretty sure he'd remember if they had been. Would have done his very best to remember a women with the beauty this one possessed.

“Good afternoon.” He greeted in a friendly tone, the shirt still grasped in his hand.

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"Whoa!" Mariah stopped quickly, feet sliding in the sand, the tops burning as the sun scorched grains touched her skin. Scrambling back she fell, pushing herself backwards as the coyote transformed into a man, her eyes going wide in shock. The proud tribe member quickly got back to her feet, balancing as she brushed the sand off the back of her skirts, catching a breath as she stared at this newcomer.

There was something familiar about him, the color of his hair, the shade of his bone structure in his cheekbones, the wisdom to him. Was this the healer from the Coyote Tribe? He had looked much younger the last time, though it wasn't uncommon for the desert to make one's life short and difficult. Mariah thought that this weathered look was suiting on this large man, a smile gracing her lips as she looked from his face to the shirt in his hand. "Thank you." The girl said at the exact same moment he had spoke a greeting.
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Flustered she ran a hand through the loose strands of her hair, pushing them out of her face to tuck behind an ear. This man had been an animal only a few moments ago, which was very shocking to the outlandish raven tribe woman. The magic had all but died out among her people, only her and the clan leader were capable of only small amounts of magic. It was odd to see such a nimble desert coyote transform into this brute of the man.

"Thank you," Mariah said again, eyes guarded. "I thought I was gonna have to chase that bird to the oasis." There was a pregnant moment of silence to them before Mariah opened her mouth to speak again. "Excuse me, I'm forgetting my manors, I'm Mariah Ramone of the Raven tribe." She introduced, dipping her head out of respect.

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She thanked him and he remembered the shirt he was holding. "Oh," he started, looking at in bewilderment again, before laughing at the absurdity of the situation, wondering about the bird, and why it dropped it on him.

"almost like fate." He said with a grin, offering her the shirt, and then his hand in greeting. Just catching her name, as she dipped her head to him, he did the same with little difficulty, weight shifting awkwardly on his staff, but he couldn't not. They were equals as far as he was concerned, and he wanted her to know he felt that way.

Mariah, He thought he'd heard that before. Could vaguely remember someone calling her that, but hadn't been sure before. He'd been more than a little out of it. What with his leg nearly getting ripped off, and then having to help heal it, and others as soon as he'd woken up. He wasn't sorry he'd gotten hurt though, couldn't be. The only way for him to not have been injured would have been to abandon another man to death, and that was not something he was willing to do. He shook his head to banish the dark thoughts, and tried responding.

"It's a beautiful name," He said, while thinking about something and looking towards her village, smoke from a fire just visible in the distance. "I'm John St. Jude, Shaman of the Elder, good to meet you." He finished his sentence, making eye contact with the woman, and expertly whipping his pipe into his hand, and loading it with one hand, ready to smoke as they walked back to her village.

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"A coyote, explains the shifting." Mariah mused, carefully picking the shirt out of John's hand. The man held out his open palm, the girl eyeing it in confusion, it had been so long since meeting somebody knew that she had forgotten, only for a moment though, that people shook hands. Her delicate hand took a hesitant hold of his, her dry hand molding against his rough one. Looking away from him she slowly pulled her hand back respectively into her own personal space. "You believe in fate, Mr. John?" Mariah asked suddenly as she turned to walk at his side. He may have been taller than her, with longer legs and a quicker walk, but with his leg injured they walked at nearly the same pace.

"That everything about our lives are predetermined?" Shrugging she looked down at her feet, hands clasped around her shirt, placed behind her back. Her posture was proper, shoulders relaxed, back straight, face neither friendly or guarded. "I suppose everybody has their beliefs." Mariah looked to the side avoiding eye contact with the shaman, though watching with interest as he took long drags from the pipe resting between his lips. She didn't mind the smoke, it was rather sweet smelling and aromatic as they walked the short ways over the sand, coming to pass under a crumbing stone arch. All the buildings had been all but destroyed in the war, most standing walls being used to support one side of a tent.

"I assume you wish to speak with my leader, come-" Mariah stopped midsentence suddenly as a young boy approached John, seeming to just pass by, though the woman had seen him pick a dagger out of the man's belt. Her quick hand snatched the boy by his wrist, pulling him back, kneeling as she took the knife out of his dirty hand. "Zane, I swear to the gods if I catch you stealing again I'll cut your fingers off." She threatened with a furrow of her dark eyebrows, giving him a soft tap to the back of the head, urging him to be on his way. Standing with a small, slightly embarrassed sigh, she held the knife by the blade holding the handle of it towards John. Her smile was apologetic as she motioned her hands toward a brown hide tent, the leader of her tribe's tent to be exact. "Chief Ranek?" Mariah spoke softly as she ducked through the entrance, holding the flap open for John to follow inside behind her. "A man has come from the tribe of Coyotes, his name is John St.Jude, a shaman from their villages." The raven haired girl introduced.

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He supposed that was a logical conclusion. Linking his shifting with the coyote, but honestly, he could change into more than just that. Not that he said that aloud. It tended to make other people uncomfortable, even from his own tribe. Magic was known of, but those without it, tended to fear those that had it. Even those with it grew to fear, or resent those with more of it. That was how this whole cycle of hatred began.

She took his hand tentatively, seemingly confused about why he'd offered his hand for a moment. Not surprising, when he thought about it. He was one of the few that traveled to other villages, even yet the Raven tribe was near ostracized by the rest. Foolishly, but people will be people. Her hand was surprisingly soft, though compared to his, most peoples are.

“Just John is fine,” He said, a laugh clear in his voice. “Mr. John, makes me feel old.” She kept pace with him, he was thankful she didn't leave him behind like some people did, growing weary of keeping his slow limping pace.

He thought on her questions, taking a long drag on his pipe the mix of herbs held within soothing the ache in his hip, he frowned slightly when she avoided his eyes, but didn't mention it. The village had seen better days. He thought, as they walked under an old stone arch, buildings had collapsed, and were being used to support tents. He'd been here when some of this damage had happened, though most of it had happen long ago. He wished there was more he could do to help these people.

Did he believe in fate? No, not really. People make their own fates. Forging a path with their own two hands. Some things though, remembering his vision and the mark over his heart, some things are beyond us. Out loud though, he said.

“Fate, is what we make of whatever life throws at us.” He mouthed it around his pipe, watching a young boy approach him from the corner of his eye, Mariah must have seen him too as she stopped talking mid sentence, he'd missed her words, but not what she said next as she snatched the dagger that the boy had lifted smoothly from John's belt.

Nice, he thought. Impressed at the kids deft fingers, he'd barely felt the knife leave his possession. He whistled lowly as her hand snaked out quick as a whip catching the kid, Zane, and threatening him with the very knife he'd stolen. She was cute when angry he noted with a grin.

“Don't worry about it.” He waved it off, taking the bone dagger back, and sliding it into his belt with a chuckle. “Kids'll be kids.”

He followed her to the chiefs tent, gratefully nodding at her as she held the flap as he was stepping through the entryway. It was kind of hard to do with one hand. “We've met, but thank-you for helping me here.” He told her after the introduction, smiling at the chief, but getting a bad feeling in his gut over the look the chief was giving him, it was unfriendly, not pleased at all. He got the impression that were he anyone else the man would have had him tossed from the tent.

“What is the matter Chief Ranek? What has happened?” He only hoped his fears were unfounded.

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Mariah was respectfully leaving when she heard the old leader speak. "You must leave." The elderly man sat cross legged on a bed mat, elegant fur and animal skins draped over his shoulders, the front of his shirt feathered like a raven's. "My people are sick, children weak, and villages gone. What you see is the last of the Raven people, we are in no condition to be hosting guests properly." The old man wheezed, breaking into a fit of coughing. Mariah's eyebrows drew together in disappointment, stepping forward suddenly. "You haven't even heard what he has to say, John has traveled far and deserves to rest." Her dark eyes bore into those of her superior. "Hold your tongue," Ranek snapped, dismissing her with a simple wave of his hand. The girl was embarrassed and offended, fists curling at her sides, but she did not leave as instructed. "Im Sorry John, I must send you back, if you'll please-"

"This is absurd!" The raven haired girl blurted out, exasperated. "Silence! You test my patience one too many times Mariah Ramone, perhaps you wish to accompany John when he leaves?" Ranek threatened with a bark, legs shaking as he came to stand, a large man who had seen better days, but could still hold his own if need be. "Out in the desert is better than watching you kill my village!" Mariah snapped back. The chief looked from Marian to John, eyes set and mind made up. "Both of you are dismissed," Ranek's voice was tense as he turned his back to them. Mariah was about to say more, but clamped her mouth shut, looking at John before turning away to storm out of the leader's tent.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude
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John heaved a sigh. He wasn't surprised. He'd been expecting something like this after all. He wanted to help, but knew that the chief would never except it. He was too proud, too set in his ways to accept any help from the coyote, or any tribe. Mariah defended him, but there was no need. He was not insulted, could understand, even if he didn't like it.

"It's fine." He muttered, trying to nonchalantly get her to back down, she seemed fired up for a fight. The chiefs dismissal hurting her pride. He could sympathize. Many people through the desert were that way to him.

The yelling startled him, though not as much as the callousness of the chief. Was he so far gone that he'd cast aside one of his own people for talking back to him? "I don't think-" He started, trying to head off what he suspected was going to happen. The old chief had taken a threatening stance. He had been a bear of a man in his prime, but time had not treated him kindly. Stripping away much of his strength, and leaving him a sad shadow of his former self. In many ways, he reflected his village.

The fire that came to her eyes when she defended him and argued with her chief was unexpected, but not unwelcome. From the little that he'd talked with her, she seemed the exact opposite of the type of person to do that. It made him blink in surprise, and take a sharp pull from his pipe. Thinking about his mission. Could he just leave? He felt like he could. Something inside told him that this is what was supposed to come to pass.

John could feel the finality in the chiefs words as he weathered the storm of emotion they threw at each other. Felt a strange weight settle in his chest as they were both dismissed, Mariah stormed from the tent, he didn't follow immediately though, he contemplated this. Stared hard at the chiefs back, just thinking, wondering what could have come to pass to make it come to this. Finally, he drew a small cloth from his bag full of leaves, laying it down on the floor of the chiefs tent.

"This will help with your cough. Brew it into a tea." Done, he turned, breathing a sigh of smoke struggling with the tent flap for a moment before managing to get back to the village proper. He didn't see Mariah, but figured she had headed home to get her things. He wasn't yet sure how he felt about getting a new traveling companion, but it couldn't be bad. She seemed smart enough.

At a loss for what to do until she was ready he wandered the streets of the once glorious village. Taking in the skeletal remains of buildings, and the broken down people. He eventually came across the boy from earlier, Zane, the one who'd tried to steal one of his daggers. He seemed embarrassed to see John, trying to make himself as small as possible, and hoping to not be noticed. So, naturally John began to walk straight to him. A friendly smile on his face.

"How's it goin' kid?" He asked casually, leaning against a broken bit of wall. The boy hesitated, unsure as to whether or not he should run, but eventually he seemed to muster up some guts, because he replied shortly. "It's going."

John grinned, gotcha. he thought, idly scratching the side of his face, still puffing on his pipe. "That's good. So, you like knives?" Zane froze, staring at John like a startled deer, ready to run at any sign of trouble. He didn't speak though, just froze.

"It's fine if you do. Here, check this one out." The one he pulled from the small of his back was smallish, carved from part of the antler from a young buck, graceful script decorated almost every inch of the bone dagger. He held it out for the boy to take. "I don't bite." He said ruefully, carefully placing it in the kids hand.

He was taken with it instantly, awe written clear across his face as he examined every inch of the knife. John couldn't help but bark a short laugh, nearly losing his pipe in the process. "Know how to use that thing?" He asked, the boy nodding his head quickly up and down in an enthusiastic yes.

Nodding to himself John only said one more thing to him before walking off intent on finding his new companion. "Then that one is yours. I expect a man that has one of mine to be honorable. So no more stealing, okay?" He didn't need to see the kids face to know his answer. The shout of elation, and the sound of hair whipping around in a powerful nod was enough for him.

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Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Torin Draak
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Running a hand groggily over his face, Torin sat up slowly. His large frame heaved with his tired breaths. The light was dull, but warm, the sun had started to slip behind the horizon once again. Torin knew he must of been dreaming, he was running his hand across the floor letting the grains of the desert run coarsely across his skin. Pushing himself up, Torin quickly stretched to his full height and glanced around. Open desert, no dunes, no rock, nothing but the great sands for as far as his eye could see.

Striding forward Torin continued to scan his barren surroundings Where in the spirits name am i? he questioned to himself, his large stride covering the ground quickly, but seeming to get him no where. Without warning an sound caught his ear, something he had been taught to always listen for, the winds. Turning sharply on heels he noticed an approaching sand storm. ' that had not been there a minute ago?' Scanning the storm for its direction he noticed two things, it was coming right at him and a shadow was caught inside.

" Fool!... why do you travel in the storm" Torin began to bellow across the open space, before the shadow grew larger and more distinct, a great wing-span along with a massive body. Bracing himself as the storm grew near the creature twisted and shrank down to about the same size of Torin. " You must journey far little one.." the creature spoke stopping itself and the storm infront of him. " find the end to all of this". Opening his mouth to speak Torin found himself cut sort as a hand gripped his arm, burning with an unfamiliar pain. " Now"
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Reaching over swiftly Torin felt his arm, the same arm he felt pain within the dream. Sitting up slowly Torin pulled back his messy hair and glanced around to try and gauge what time it was. It still seemed as if the sun had not fully risen yet. Grabbing his cloths he dressed swiftly before stepping outside to greet the new day.

' Torin.. you wake... i thought you would of missed morning duties' The gruff voice came from a man of same age as Torin, you could of call the two of them friends. " Calan.. you still have your voice despite all the whining.... where are my supplies i need to head out early to patrol our borders" Torin barked, still groggy from sleep. Taking the bags from his friend Torin took a moment to tie the small sword to his belt before slinging the bag over his shoulder and snatching the spear from the man who stood before him. " I report before sun down" Those were Torin's parting words as he marched away from his friend and away from the tribe for another days of patrol.

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Character Portrait: Paskal Beltane
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In the shadow of a large dune, Paskal crouched by a thicket of berry bushes and wormed his arm in among the thorns. Twisting the little fruit off their branches one by one and tipping them into his forager's pouch, he allowed his mind to rest for a moment as he soaked in the coolness of the evening, the freshness of the wind and the texture of the plants. In a moment of weakness he drew one berry from the pouch and flicked it into his open mouth.

As he chewed, however, he began to notice that something was wrong. All of a sudden the berry tasted bland and empty, and the breeze no longer cooled his face. Indeed, the dune's shadow seemed to be lengthening even before his eyes. A terrible anxiety rising in his mind, Paskal scrambled up the sandy bank and took a look at the desert around him. It was flat, featureless, and stretching to all horizons.

Paskal groaned. Not another one of those dreams.

The now-heatless sun sank lower in the sky, threatening to vanish entirely. Paskal shuffled down the incline and began to walk; the dune would sink into the ground soon enough anyway, leaving him alone no matter what he did. He had seen this dream many times before, and saw no sense in forestalling the inevitable. This kind of dream was easily the most common that he had, and it always followed a sort of formula: he would be alone either in the wilderness or (less often) back at camp, going about his daily routine. Gradually, though, the landscape would flatten and the sun would set, and he would be left in the middle of a vast expanse. Then the monsters would come.

The monsters varied from dream to dream, but acted in the same way. Night would fall and they would appear from nowhere to chase him across the sand, sometimes silent as death, sometimes howling and cackling. Paskal was fast, but they were always just a little bit faster, and eventually they would catch him and... he would wake up. As of late he had been attacked by sand devils, monstrous vultures, blood-crazed hyenas and his own family members. While none ever failed to terrify him, one particular apparition stood out in his mind; this one hounded him, toyed with him, spoke to him. Paskal could never figure out what it wanted, which scared him most of all.

By now the sun had completely disappeared, to be replaced by the cold and distant stars overhead. Unlike Paskal's home desert, the constellations here were shifting and nonsensical. He stopped and looked fearfully around, shuddering at imagined noises. Maybe the creatures would stay away tonight. Maybe he would just wake up on his own. A single night left alone was all he wanted. But even as he pleaded with his own mind, a shining light in the distance banished all hope. Paskal stood rigid as the gleaming silver Sleipnir cantered into view, its footfalls never so much as marking the sand. When it came within 200 yards of him, the great beast smoothly lowered its head and pawed at the earth, shining eyes watching him carefully. Paskal, for his part, turned and bolted.

With a powerful snort, the Sleipnir took off after him, tearing across the plain like only an eight-legged stallion could. Paskal stood no chance of outrunning it, but kept sprinting anyway. In a matter of seconds the Sleipnir caught up and began to circle him, an amused spring in its step. With a flash it darted forward, knocking the boy off balance and sending him sprawling in the dust. Paskal felt the familiar panic setting in; things weren't supposed to touch him in his dreams.

The creature stood over Paskal as he rolled in the sand, and began to speak. "Why do you always run? I have never tried to do you harm."

Paskal crawled backwards as the Sleipnir advanced. "Leave me alone! I don't want this!" he cried out, eyes darting around to find an escape route. The spirit moved with him, shaking its translucent mane. "I do not want this either, child. But the critical point has been reached, and I can not go unrepresented." It raised a hoof in the air and paused for an instant before continuing. "You are one of five. Together you must journey to the spirit oasis, and there you must restore the balance. Tread lightly as I would, and mind your companions. Your fate depends on theirs." The hoof came down, aiming for the boy's forehead.

"No, wait! Stop!" Paskal screamed, raising his hands in front of his face. There was a sensation of searing pain, and then blackness.

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Paskal jerked awake with a start. It took a few moments to recognise the familiar layout of his tent, and a few more to feel safe once again. Turning his head, he spotted his elder brother Tark glaring at him from his bedroll, evidently having been woken up by the sudden jolt. Breathing a relieved sigh, Paskal threw on a simple tunic and snatched up his forager's pouch, deciding to get to work early rather than try to get back to sleep. 

He pushed the tent flap open and slipped out, noting with delight that almost nobody else had risen yet, so he wouldn't be getting any trouble this morning. Reaching the outskirts of the village, he set off for a good location that he knew for gathering, subconsciously cradling his right hand; for some reason, he felt like he had been struck on the palm.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude Character Portrait: Lupis Nellin
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Three days ago


Lupis lay in his tent only a short while until an urge hit him. It felt alien, but, irresistible as well. Something was pushing him to go towards the raven tribe's village. It felt like it wasn't something he could ignore, something that needed to be done. It was only until he realized what he was doing did he realize he was already standing outside his tent with a packed bag and headed out the gate. Second was that someone was questioning him, the tribe chief, AKA his uncle.
"Uncle. I..uh..well...."
"Explain this right now. Why are you setting out without telling anyone at all! Do you realize what would happen should we be attacked! Should I die?!" Chief Calus was furious yet worried as well at his nephew's sudden departure. He was regarded as a "strong man" in the village and easily towered over Lupis' figure.
"Chief, I really need to go. Something is calling me and I need to leave now." He trudged on slightly fast but nearly fell over when he was grabbed by the collar of his vest and forced to the ground.
"You are not leaving." Calus said it flat and plainly. It was a fact to him and would have been..if something hadn't stirred within Lupis. He flailed trying to force the man off him until Calus suddenly let go and held his arm as if it were burned. Lupis didn't have time to think about what just happed before he bolted.
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Bringing him here to this moment, inside the raven tribe village, trying to hide. He did his best to blend in with the shadows but it quickly wasn’t working. He was looking for some other shadow to hide in, something to hide behind (which he was horrible at). He knew his well-nourished body would stick out easy in the ruined village. He noticed not one, but two familiar faces in the village. One seemed to be a man his 40s, closer to him. He turned and Lupis realized it was the coyote healer. He had seen him just last week, to help with a child’s birth. He approached the man, trying to act casual-ish. “Mr…John, if I remember correctly? My name is Lupis and perhaps you can help me? I’ve been having…dreams…lately and I’m told you are good at reading them. Yes?” Where did that come from? That’s not what he meant to say, but it just came out. He wouldn’t have time to respond it would seem.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude Character Portrait: Lupis Nellin
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Mariah had stuffed a pack full of dried meat rolled in socks, dressing quickly in brown pants, tying the draw string around her waist to keep the hemline at her hips; she tucked the cuffs into her walking boots and then pulled on a thick long sleeved shirt, securing a hood around her head. With a grumble under her breath the Raven Tribe woman finished filling her bag with essentials for the desert, storming out of her tent and back to where she had left John. Blinking in surprise as she came to stand next to him her soft green eyes narrowed on the well-fed man who stood across from the shaman. "Who are you?" Mariah questioned in a need-to-know voice, looking between the two men.

The question hung in the air for a few moments before the girl realized she had interrupted an conversation the two had been involved in. Mariah honestly wasn't concerned with what they had been discussing, sighing with a roll of her eyes. "We're wasting daylight, we don't want the Dark Ones following us all night. If we leave now we'll make it to the outcroppings West of here, that'll give us shelter." Mariah explained, adjusting the pack on her shoulders, giving a small smile and patting John on the back, shouldering past the boy who had appeared in her absence. She didn't bother looking back to see if they were following, the chief would surely drive them out sooner or later and they'd be forced to catch up with her, if they could. John was crippled, though the other man looked physically fit.

Mariah had only been out in the sun for a few minutes and was already beginning to sweat in her thick clothing, though when night fell she'd be thankful for wearing the protective clothing. Days were scorching and harsh, reaching temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees, but when the sun set and moon rose was when the desert was at its most dangerous. Temperatures would plummet more than ten degrees per hour until the air was crisp and freezing, killing anything that wasn't smart enough to keep warm or find shelter in the barren landscape. Not to mention all the night beasts that hunted in the light of the moon, stealing away children, small animals, and even groups of armed men with not a trace left behind.

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Character Portrait: Mariah Ramone Character Portrait: John St. Jude Character Portrait: Lupis Nellin
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As he walked away from the boy a presence made itself known in his mind. He tried to force the intruder out, but it was vast, more vast than any other spirit he'd ever encountered and an unnatural calm came over him. 'Peace young shaman, peace. All others have been chosen. One comes to you, one is with you, and two have yet to be found. Move swiftly, the world takes notice.' The familiar voice of the elder resounded in his head, causing him to stumble in his stride. He by no means had a smooth stride, but he rarely stumbled anymore. He thought to reply, but before he could the presence was gone from his mind, taking the odd calm with it, leaving him shaken.

John was intent on getting out of the village as soon as possible. He needed to find the rest of those chosen. If for nothing else than his own peace of mind. He could feel something stirring. The elder had spoken of it, and now that it had been brought to his attention, he could feel it.

Now that they'd all been chosen the spirits were beginning to take notice of them. He could feel it in the air, something resonating in his spirit set his teeth on edge. He'd need to hurry if he was to stay ahead of the beast that were sure to set upon the others, and his slowly forming group. A vaguely familiar presence entered his peripherals then moments later someone hailed him.

Hah, what was with people and calling him Mister? I'm not that damned old. “Just John please. You'll age me before my time.” He laughed at his own joke sardonically. “I know a bit about strange dreams, perhaps I can-,” He was interrupted then by Mariah returning.

Honestly he didn't catch her first question. He was still somewhat rattled by having his mind so casually entered. At least she seemed to be warming up to him slightly, he thought as he watched the attractive young women shove past the phoenix tribe member after clapping him on the back.

“You heard the lady daylights a burnin', and she doesn't seem keen on waiting. It would seem we will have to hold off on that conversation for a little while.” John began limping after the quickly disappearing women, before looking over his shoulder at the out of place warrior with a mischievous grin. “Do try and keep up.”

In the next instant he curled in on himself. Willing the change, he ran after Mariah in the shape of a red coyote. Catching her just as she made it into the desert proper. Willing himself back into a human form he spoke. “Tomorrow, we make for the dragon.”

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Character Portrait: Paskal Beltane
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Paskal's latest dream seemed to grow ever more foreboding the more he thought about it. And, squatting beside coarse bushes in hope of finding berries, there was little else to do but think about it. The mysterious Sleipnir, patron spirit of the tribe, and what it had said... about being "one of five". Paskal guessed it was referring to the five tribes, but what it then said about a "spirit oasis" left him clueless. Well, he couldn't really expect it to make sense; it was just a stupid dream, after all. If it hadn't been so vivid, he would already have forgotten about it.

Standing back up, Paskal tested the weight of his pouch. Fairly heavy. There was still room for more, but he was sick of scrounging for berries. He could set a few animal traps to add a bit of variety - if, he suddenly remembered, he hadn't left all the equipment back at the camp.  He sighed, turning on his heel and beginning the trek back.

Maybe it was just his imagination, but he was starting to feel a little bit on edge. There had been talk from the rangers and traders about strange creatures on the desert plains. Savage creatures. As a forager, Paskal was not unaccustomed to odd sights, but he had never seen such nightmarish beings as the wide-eyed men described. He shook his head fierecely. Keep your mind down to earth, now.

As he approached the camp once again, he turned away from the main entranceway and skirted around until he found a gap between the huts and hovels. He shimmied through, keeping in the shade with his head lowered. He slipped back into his own tent without a sound, and a quick glance told him that his brother and housemate had already left for work. Good; that would mean no arguing this morning. It never occurred to Paskal that he had unknowingly structured his life around avoiding other people. 

He stooped to pick up the necessities that he had forgotten in his rush to leave earlier: a coil of donkey-hair rope, a pair of nearly curved bone knives, a larger bag with a bundle of cloths and junk already inside, and a minuscule vial of red-tailed scorpion venom - "just in case", as he kept telling himself. Idly scooping his equipment into the bag, Paskal let his mind wander back to his dream. The Sleipnir had acted very... well, calm around him. Almost as if it knew how he would act in advance. But how would it know that? It would have to have been watching him for all of his life. Patron spirits were supposed to do that, of course, but Paskal found the implication worrying. The Sleipnir would have to be very intrusive.

You have no idea.

The bag dropped from his hand, thumping onto the floor as Paskal whirled around. Nothing was in the tent with him. Nothing could have spoken to him. Gritting his teeth, he stood up straight and willed his heartbeat to slow down. After a minute or so, he snatched the bag back up off the floor and stormed out. 

The traps he set were going to be especially vicious today.