Vindico

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He lounged within a sunny patch in his forest, legs extended, muscles at ease. He had gone to the mountain with his witch, depositing her and brood there before venturing back to forest, planning on keeping a firm hold of the area, whether or not he took to the mountain to accompany Erzebet. Nostrils flared with the overwhelming scent of prey and pines trees, along with the stench of one particular little pawn that seemed oddly attached to her prison. There was no denying that he was curious to see what sort of plan she would come up with, but he was sorely disappointed that she had yet to request her freedom from his grasp. Surely if she actually had a plan, she would have done it by now, perhaps she was broken, crushed beneath the weight of her enslavement. Or maybe she was simply running scared. Regardless, he didn't care. Sooner or later he would bring her to her knees. 
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An ear twitched, alert to the sounds going on around him, though he was accustomed to the chirps of life that took up residence here. Toes pointed and stretched, muscles flexing with contentment beneath his thick ebony pelt. Life had fallen into a brief lull, something he intended to change very soon, all he needed to do was wait. A waiting game that would allow the anticipation to grow and plans to become even more twisted. Maybe thats what kept his witch from poking around in his mind.... He could already see the earth painted with blood and fur, a bloodied crown once again sitting on his head and the <I>weak</i> dead at his paws. 

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
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<p>Pride. It was more of a weapon than anything, and as a prince who was destined to become a great king—as an O'Cuilinn—Ouroborus had been taught how to properly wield it.

"When you become a king," his father had told him once, when he was small. "Your followers will constantly look to you for guidance. And it is your duty to guide them; to empower them with your actions, your words, your presence, the very atmosphere you create when amongst them. That is why you cannot afford to be fearful and anxious, lest you spread it like a disease. A prideful king, a king who is sure of himself and the decisions that he makes...that is what strengthens them. That is what you must be."

Though the violet wolf had been exceptionally young, then, he had understood his father's words, as well as the unspoken ones that had lurked beneath them. The O'Cuilinns were a line of proud and formidable wolves, and he was to embody their pride in addition to his own. It was yet another way that he could carry on their legacy; to strive for success in the names of his father, and his father's father, and the many fathers before them. It was the sole reason that he kept his head up while he walked.

Even now, as he made his way through the thick underbrush of Quernus, Ouroborus held his head high, looking for all the world like a strutting stag with his branch-like, ivory antlers. Nevermind the fact that his neck was aching, and that the mild pain it caused had been worsening over time. Nevermind the fact that he was questioning whether or not stumbling into this land had ruined something in him. Nevermind the fact that he was, in truth, devastated. He would continue to look as proud as he could, refusing to let the turbulent emotions that surged within him seep through. As long as he looked proud...

It just doesn't make any sense, Ouroborus mused as he walked. How could I lose an ability that I've always had? That we've always had...?

All of a sudden, he found himself coming to a stop, an unfamiliar scent bringing him out of his thoughts. He wasn't sure how long he had been wandering around the forest, nor where he had ended up, at the moment, but it seemed like someone else was nearby. Another traveler? Moving cautiously, Ouroborus took a few more steps and peeked around the trunk of a thick tree. Lying in the grass was a wolf, its obsidian pelt dappled with sunlight that filtered through the leaves of the evergreens around them. They were a stranger, but...something about the vibe that they gave off seemed odd. Almost familiar.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"Enjoying a mid-afternoon rest, are we?"</b></font> Ouroborus called to the wolf, his expression more or less blank as he stared at him.</p>

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The distinct sound of paw steps had his crown lifting, his behemoth figure rolling onto his belly, a careful alertness seeping through his veins. It did not take long for an ocean colored wolf to approach, inquiring about his nap. Lips curled into a faint smirk. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"I was."</b></font> He rumbled, pushing himself up into a seated position. But it seemed he was not meant to be alone today, his nap intruded upon by a stranger who seemed to think it was safe enough to wander deep into the heart of the forest. It would be a lesson hard learned, that a casual stroll was not always <I>safe</i>. Nostrils flared, tasting the air, inhaling the cologne that clung to his pelt. 
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He was an interesting looking brute, blues adorning his pelt with wide antlers adorning his skull. Flowers trailed from his neck down his sides, an oddly feminine touch in his mind. He was smaller than the ebony king, as more were. Silver clashed with vibrant green as he held the smaller mans gaze. Twin tails curled around his hips, resting on massive paws. Spikes rippled down his back with the subtle movement. Ears tipped forward as he intently watched. Perhaps what was most interesting was the faint scent that clung to the brutes pelt. It was nearly comical, but he held back his amusement, keeping his face carefully neutral. 
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Curiosity tugged at his mind, questions hanging off his lips, though only silence stretched on. The scent of his pack had faded from the forest, but his would surely hang heavily. If he was not here, he was keeping tabs on his witch, the only one he was truly interested in, everyone else was merely another face, another pawn to be pushed around. Maybe this man would be another? Though it was faint relief to know that there were other males running around that didn't already belong to the mountain pack. However, this one was tainted and only time would tell if the poison could be removed from his mind.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
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<center><font color="#5527CC"><b>"Speaking"</b></font></center><br />

<p>Upon being addressed, the obsidian brute rolled over and lifted himself from the grass and leaves that he had flattened during his nap. Then he eyed the banished prince, his lips curling back from his teeth in the beginnings of a smirk as he took in his presence. Ouroborus did nothing but stare back at him, his emerald hues boring into the soulless silver orbs of the other. And he tried to read him, if only a little; to get some semblance of emotion that he was sure was hiding behind them. He often found that it was an easy thing to do—most wore their true intentions on their faces without even realizing it—but this man was making it unusually difficult. His expression was blank, and underneath that was nothing but more blankness.

Aside from the confirmation that yes, he had been resting, the brute didn't speak, and the longer Ouroborus looked at him, the more he felt that he was waiting for him to speak, first. The purpose of their meeting, if there was any, had yet to reveal itself to either wolf.

Quickly tiring of the silence that hung between them, Ouroborus narrowed his eyes at the brute. That odd familiarity still hovered about his form, and seemed to be calling to him, in a way, as if encouraging him to think, and think hard. He had definitely never seen him before, but his scent...it was a scent that he swore he had picked up on elsewhere in the forest. Traces, of course, only traces, but it had been the same scent, lingering on bushes and in clearings and on the leafy greens of the undergrowth, faint yet dominant over the other scents it'd always been mingled with. And those had belonged to none other than the pack that Evike had mentioned.

In that moment the banished prince understood, and his expression seemed to darken, the curious glint vanishing from his eyes.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"I am Ouroborus O' Cuilinn,"</b></font> he stated, his tone brimming with regality and a pride that seemed a bit too forced, the words themselves sounding as though they had been repeated countless times. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"Son of Tuan and Neamhain O' Cuilinn, both of whom I doubt you've ever heard of, as most if not all in this land haven't. A shame, really."</b></font>

He then paused, but only for a moment.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"And you...I know not of your name, but this place used to be yours, didn't it? If the fading markers and wolf scents haven't lied to me, that is. Quite the place for a pack to settle...I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would give such a thing up."</b></font>

There was no hostility in the violet wolf's voice, nor was he challenging the obsidian brute. If anything, he seemed expectant, wanting some sort of reaction out of him, any reaction. He had wanted to meet the so-called "has-been jailer" that Evike had told him about, and now he'd been given the chance. And he would do with that chance what he wanted.</p>

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Silence. It stretched on between them for a moment, silver clashing with emerald until finally the cyan colored man spoke. His name rolled off his tongue, along with his pedigree, as though it might mean something to the ebony brute. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Odysseus Elysius, son of Artemis Elysius."</b></font> A faint smirk twisted his lips at the mans clear displeasure that this place did not know his name. Entering a place that didn't know ones name was not always bad, if provided the opportunity to build their own history behind their name. There was only a brief pause before the man was speaking again. He was sharp, immediately pointing out that this was indeed his forest. No challenge or hostility colored words as he suggested that the king might be crazy for abandoning this forest. A low chuckle rumbled in his throat.
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<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"One does not always need a kingdom to command a place."</b></font> He drawled, a brow lifting subtly. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"And you, have the scent of a slave clinging to your pelt."</b></font> It was unmistakable and it made his curious. His words held carefully veiled intentions. Why? What was someone who clearly was a <I>someone</i> doing with her? A no one, a pitiful wolf that couldn't even defend herself, nor had the decency to request freedom from her chains. An aura of reddish orange surrounded the wolf, a color that he was still not familiar with, but he was getting used to the seeing the colors emanate from strangers. 
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A faint tip of his crown extended the silence between them as he continued to scrutinize the man before him. His association with the slave made the king curious, curious to know what had drawn him to the girl and of course vice versa. Perhaps this man held some information that he didn't know, but the only question was whether or not he was loyal. Even if it was just blind loyalty.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
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<center><font color="#5527CC"><b>"Speaking"</b></font></center><br />

<p>Ouroborus narrowed his eyes at the wolf, the emerald hues seeming to glimmer with mounting annoyance. He was certainly a man of few words, stating his name and that of his father's soon after the prince had done the same. Then he offered what sounded like a piece of wisdom, though Ouroborus couldn't wrap his head around what it was supposed to mean. A kingdom was as important to a leader as the blood that ran through their veins; without it and its followers, what was there to rule over? An acre or two of grass and dirt?

And yet this obsidian creature was claiming that a kingdom wasn't needed to "command a place." Did he still see himself as a leader, as a king, after having abandoned his own kingdom? Had he assumed that he had no use for it in his pursuit for power?

What a disillusioned fool, Ouroborus mused, his lips curving in the beginnnings of a frown. Believing that his presence is still worth something in this damned forest...

Odysseus then pointed out the scent that clung to his fur, and the violet prince, unable to stop himself, immediately stiffened. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"Is that so?"</b></font> Ouroborus said, feigning surprise as he took a moment to look over himself, as if searching for some visible signs of the woman's scent. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"You know, I hadn't even noticed until you pointed it out, just now. The flowers dull my sense of smell, every now and then."</b></font>

The sarcasm in his words was thick, but vanished when he continued, his tone hardening.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"Yes, I've come across your so-called slave. But what concern is that of yours?"</b></font></p>

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The lowly never understood. His since was meant with a frown that only seemed to grow at the mention of the forest. Clearly this one did not understand. Ebony lips tipped up in a smirk, amusement flashing in silver orbs. Perhaps the world would never understand, this forest was <i>his</i> and he would be damned if the unworthy attempted to snatch it from his grasp. It just wasn't an option. But he didn't care if the man understood or not, his mind was already poisoned.
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At the mention of the ebony slave the man stiffened, unable to conceal his emotions. Lips curled into a wider sneer as he feigned surprise, claiming to not have noticed. He blamed the flowers that clung to his pelt, but he was no fool. Sarcasm dripped from each word, he wanted to know what concern he had with their meeting. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Its getting to be the time that I collect what's mine."</b></font> He responded smoothly, counting on the fact that this information might get relayed back to the ebony bitch and draw her out of hiding.
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He watched as the colors around the man shifted to darker shades, giving away his emotions without him ever even knowing. This new power was beginning to come in handy. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"I assume you've heard of me then."</b></font> He commented, a brow lifting fractionally. He would be surprised if the girl hadn't opened her mouth about her predicament.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
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<center><font color="#5527CC"><b>"Speaking"</b></font></center><br />
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"Its getting to be the time that I collect what's mine."

Ouroborus merely stared at the obsidian male upon hearing his words, a single, violet ear twitching, the otherwise handsome features that made up his face beginning to morph into something less pleasing, revealing some indecipherable emotion.

The concept of slavery wasn't foreign to the banished prince. Amidst the many lessons that his father had taught him, he had come to learn that the world was comprised of two, and only two, types of beings: leaders and followers. The leaders were born with the right to rule over others, a right that had been instilled in the very blood that ran through their veins, as well as the veins of their privileged kin. The followers, on the other hand, were born to be ruled, existing only to serve and obey, their individual lives meaningless if not devoted in their entirety to their higher-ups. And the barrier that separated them both was an impenetrable one; a leader had no business leading the life of an underling, just as a lowly follower couldn't handle being in charge of the lives of others, let alone an entire empire.

Slaves fit neatly into the latter category, being followers of a weaker sort. They were property, in other words; at the mercy of their owners, unlickily fated to live their lives in the lowest, least respectable rungs of society. Ouroborus understood this, despite the Sovereign and their centuries-old hatred of slave-keeping. So too could he understand Odysseus' need to reclaim what so clearly belonged to him.

And yet the wolf's words had spurred something deep within him, like kindling that'd been tossed into a weak yet hungry flame. After meeting Evike, Ouroborus believed that the bond that they shared was an important one. Never before had he met someone—and a capable someone, at that—outside of his own family who possessed the same gift that he did. And though his powers had weakened, for one reason or another, hers were to be admired. There was much that they could learn from one another...and much that he could gain from her acquaintanceship, as far as the future was concerned. As much as he was unwilling to admit it outloud, he would need her as much as she had seemed to need him...and here this stone-faced brute was, stating his intent to snatch the woman back up.

No...there was nothing that was his. Perhaps his twisted delusions had convinced him that he still owned the forest, but beyond that...?

Ouroborus remained silent as the wolf continued, that something within him steadily growing and burning hotter. And then he spoke, his tone betraying whatever it was that he felt. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"I've heard a few things. None of them were particularly good,"</b></font> the violet prince replied, narrowing his eyes. Now his voice had taken on the edge of a dare. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"She mentioned that she was a slave, and I assumed that the 'wretched has-been' she spoke so fondly of was whomever had led the pack that once lived here. Tell me...how do you hope to re-capture her, if she was able to get away from you in the first place? One should have better control over their own property. The fact that she's out there, now, roaming freely about, means that you've given her too long of a leash."</b></font>

Then he tilted his head a little at Odysseus, the judgement as clear as day on his face.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"Do you even know where she is?"</b></font>

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He could see the less than pleased look on the mans face, it was pleasing to him. Lips threatened to stretched into a full on grin. Blind loyalty, such a fatal thing. He remained silent for a long time, attention split between listening and his own thoughts. He confirmed that he had indeed been heard of, though what he had heard had not been good. Shoulders lifted in a shrug, lips twitching with amusement. He went on, speaking of Evike. Judgement spilled from cyan lips, causing an ebony brow to lift as though he was honestly contemplating what the man was saying. But, naturally, he was not. Then with the tip of his petty crown, a final question. Where was she?
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<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Re-capturing her is hardly an issue."</b></font> The look he gave the man was belittling. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Sooner or later she will hang herself with that very leash."</b></font> He continued, unfazed by the judgement or questions. However his patience was wearing thin. Perhaps he would send this one back with a body part or two missing, send a clear message to his bitch. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"And as for where she is, she is a creature of habit, never straying far from the places she likes."</b></font> It would not be hard to find her, it never had been, nor would it ever be.
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<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Now tell me, you so loyally follow a woman would won't even use her <i>long leash</i> to take back her freedom?"</b></font> He inquired with a tip of crown, as gesture that feigned innocence. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Surely you are not that much of a fool."</b></font> Legs extended, lifting his behemoth size lazily, tails curling at his hocks. His antlers would currently make for a fine souvenir.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>

@Ouroborus
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<center><font color="#5527CC"><b>"Speaking"</b></font></center><br />
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Ouroborus rolled his eyes. The brute made it sound as though Evike would simply hand herself over to him when she grew tired of her freedom, as if a lowly life of servitude was much more suited to her. And perhaps it was, but since when did an escaped slave willingly return to their master?

Perhaps he meant to overpower her. The violet prince studied him for a moment before deciding that yes, such a thing was possible; the iridescent woman was small—almost pitifully so—and nimble, but up against the likes of him there wasn't much that agility would do for her, nor would she be able to keep her brittle bones from being broken. She would be outmatched, even with the gift that they shared.

The brute went on, seemingly curious as to why he would "loyally follow" someone like her, asking if he was really that much of a fool, and Ouroborus could feel his hackles raising, his frown deepening as his claws began to dig themselves into the ground, rooting him in place. Then he forced himself to calm a little; he wasn't a child, and wouldn't embarrass himself by showing out like one.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"I'd be a fool to ignore an opportunity when I saw it,"</b></font> Ouroborus retorted, lifting his muzzle as the brutish male rose to his feet. <font color="#5527CC"><b>"Just as you would be a fool to let your slave do as she pleases. Was she under my control, I wouldn't allow her out of my sight."</b></font>

Then he shrugged, a look of disappointment on his streaked face.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"Then again, who am I to judge so easily? The laws and customs of this land seem a great deal different than those of mine...they don't make much sense, either. But I should be glad that it's fairly easy to rise to power."</b></font>

With that, he took a step toward Odysseus, tilting his head at him.

<font color="#5527CC"><b>"So? How did you manage to become a leader? Did you simply wake up one day and decide to lead? Did your mother promise you a seat on the throne if she died before you did?"</b></font>
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