Vindico

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She'd made her resolution, leaving from the forest early in the morning a week prior. She'd wandered before, of course, but there was something different to it this time - the cruelties suffered by Lux and Artemis' own ridiculous jealousy had turned her away from the concept that she could defeat this demon from the inside, and back toward the many echos that promised assistance, safety, protection. Evike wanted none of them, exactly. Her own devil was a mean bastard, and spanking Odysseus would hardly help do much more than rile the thing up, confusing the matter further. She had to distance herself, before this nightmare of a pack sucked out all that made her, leaving her hollow.


Quernus was a memory - stagnant and old. The trees ran and bled like watery ink in her mind's eye, branches reaching like black fingers, populated by pale, round faces and deep-set eyes... but they were only memories, dark things that plagued her but could not reach her, not here. All around her golden blades of grass reached up high overhead, shuddering with each gasp of wind, the sound of dead vegetation ready to be mown short though the growing season had only just begun. Evike found a remote sort of peace here, tranquility in her practice as she ran the strings of her Craft through the limp limbs of a fallen sparrow, cupping her paws over the fragile thing. Beneath them, she felt the small, dried thing shudder to life, wings twitching as they struggled against the gentle pressure of her pads, the tiny bird righting itself. Carefully, Evike removed one paw from over the creature, and finally the other, helping the tiny animal onto its shaky feet with careful nudges from her paws and nose, guiding it to perch on her ankle, tiny claws clutching her fur and flesh.

The wind was kind and cruel by the same turn, alerting her to the presence of another, warning her though she might have preferred being blissfully ignorant to the fact that <i>he had followed her</i>. Ice-cold eyes narrowed with a soft snort as she sank down against her rock, hugging the boulder with her outstretched wings, soaking up the sun. She lifted the paw that the bird had attached to and pretended not to sense him, hoping that he might pass by, not not naive enough to place much hope in it.
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Her absence did not go unnoticed, but he gave her space, choosing not to chase her down and drag her back. He allowed her to wander, knowing that he could track her down if necessary. But today he had left the forest behind, trailing after her fading scent until he found himself on vast plains. Grass tickled his legs, silver gaze searching restlessly for her. She was not hard to find, her ebony figure standing out even in the shadows. An odd sense of relief swept through him as he approached, his gaze never leaving her figure. She ignored him, he didn't truly believe that she hadn't noticed him. A bird dangling from her paw as she concentrated on ignoring him. 
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He remained silent, seeking to come up beside her, only a few feet separating them. He peered down at her with a vacant expression, haunches reclining beneath him. His gaze would leave hers to sweep the horizon, watching at the plains met the sky and everything else disappeared. Tails curled around his hips, resting across his paws, a single ear tipping in her direction. He had an idea of what she wanted, but he was not quite ready to give it to her, that much he knew. 
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Hell was raining down, his pack was on edge, he could feel it. It balanced precariously on peace and neutrality, but he knew it would not last, something within his forest was going to explode and mass chaos would follow. Toes needed the ground restlessly, his restlessness had grown in the last days, leaving him awake more often than not and kept him constantly pacing his forest. 

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
"Go home." She spoke the words as a command. Not a suggestion, not a plea, but a flat out order. Though she appeared distracted by the reanimated carcass of the sparrow, he was impossible to miss, more so impossible to just flat out ignore when he settled so close. She wanted to reach out and push him off of her rock, but figured her wings would not be strong enough, so simply allowed him to be there, an obnoxious presence casting shade on relaxation. "Go back to your mother, your healer, your pretty little whore, Odysseus, nobody here has time for you." Anger, that same anger that had been absent for <i>weeks</i> now, peaked in her voice, a scathing announcement of abandonment as she settled into a more comfortable, more relaxed lounging position.

The bird bounced up her leg, then back down, clutching a claw as it fluttered its wings at her command, straining against its own feet as it began to take off. It would pause, settling against her fur again with a chirp, empty sockets peering about as it cocked its head, as if listening to their exchange. She wouldn't look at him, not now, flicking the dried up little creature away with a snort, watching it clumsily catch itself and take flight, only to be picked up by a red hawk and summarily dropped again, the flesh rotten and unpalatable to the raptor. Eve took this moment to categorize her exact feelings on the situation, attempting to put in order her next train of thought while waiting for his inevitable refusal. Odysseus was a stubborn asshole, a description that had come up more than once in the past, and Evike was quite positive that a simple dismissal would not sway him, no matter how queenly or demanding she came across.
It was simple, really. Odysseus didn't respect her, couldn't respect her.

And that was perfectly fine.
It would be perfectly fine just as soon as he accepted "I'm not coming back."
Because really - why would she?
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She bit out a command for him to go home causing lips to curl back into a silent snarl. Otherwise he remained unmoving, his gaze return to hers. HIs gaze melted into liquid silver, swirling with various emotions and desires of all kind. Her anger was palpable as his poisoned her words. She demanded he return his mother, his witch, his <i>whore</i>. Gaze narrowed fractionally. She believed that she did not have time for him. He bit back a scoff. She would have time whether or not she wanted it.  He remained completely silent, only the sounds of his breathing emanating from him. She stated that she would not be coming back and lips would twitch up into a faint smirk.
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<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"You don't have to come back. But there is nowhere you can run, no pack will take you."</b></font> His words were like velvet, falling from his lips in a murmur. There was no bit to his words, no threat that he might just drag her back on a whim. He relaxed beside her, making no move to get closer or move away. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Which is it you want more? Your freedom or Lux?"</b></font> He inquired, genuinely curious about her answer though his gaze left her features in favor the breeze that toyed with the grass.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
That was a lie, an outright lie. Was Odysseus getting worse at them, or had she just become better at picking them out? His anger charged the air, even as he whispered soft warnings... and Evike wondered if he'd even taken the time to get to know her. She had not wanted to be in a pack in the first place - she had rejected his offer because it did not appeal to her. Being a hermit in the fell woods surrounding one's self with death and destruction was a far grander idea than serving a king she didn't know beyond his aspirations and foul temper. He wasn't just as bad as Rysc, he was <i>worse</i>. How she'd ever thought otherwise was a mystery she hadn't the interest in broaching right this moment. His dick game hadn't been <i>that</i> strong. A scoff of laughter crossed her lips, her gaze remaining locked on some distant point as she refused to acknowledge him, refused to give him the <i>privilege</i> of looking her in the eye when she turned him out and made him look the part of fool. "Were your words sweet, I could consider them romantic, but instead they're <i>nothing</i>. Empty, like your skull. Pity, that." Her lips curled into a smug smile. "If I'm to be alone, I'll be alone - such a thing isn't so new to me, but again, you are terribly ignorant for a great and mighty king."

Odysseus was not yet done probing however, and asked at the least opportune time what it was she valued most - a second chance, or a third. Any earlier in their interactions and Evike might have answered him, but instead she was guarded and bitter, callously tossing her head in refusal. "The time for questions is past, Odysseus." Words alone held no power over her, and Evike had no interest in friendly conversation with him, or anyone, really. The only company she wanted was that of the stone slabs and her silent patron, Phu'arne by which to study.
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He chuckled. Her words coloring his gaze with amusement. She still refused to meet his gaze even as he examined her face. She could insult in any fashion she wanted, it simply rolled off him like water. A smug smile touched her lips, as though she was pleased with her insult. She accepted her fate to being alone, but not before calling him ignorant. She had him played for a fool, or so she thoughts. He was not quite as oblivious as she thought. He had a keen eye that absorbed the small details around him. And she was no exception. He knew what she wanted from day one. Her freedom, his downfall, his protection. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Darling, I'm not nearly as ignorant as you think."</b></font> He replied dryly. 
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It was surprising though when she didn't answer him, instead brushing aside his question. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"You the cast one you sought to protect aside so easily."</b></font> He mused out loud, studying the swaying gaze with a dull gaze. Toes tapped rhythmically against the ground as he mused  silently to himself. He was getting the answers he sought and soon he would grow tired of her games, soon her fire would no longer be an enticement, but rather something that would burn her.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
"Aren't you, wolf?" She rejected pet names, calling him by his noun, not his name. One could know what a person wanted - Odysseus wanted power, respect, sex - but that did not mean they knew that person. Not by any measure. But Evike felt that she herself was quite a bit better at reading people than the blood king, and had some knowledge of him that put her a step ahead on the knowing game. She must have, for his solemn promise of her being unwanted and alone seemed more like a childish ridicule than it did any real observation. Was he trying to keep her? As amusing and quaint as the thought was, Evike was not swayed. "If only you knew what I know." She wondered how many members there were to Caelum Clutch, though knew already that there were at two males for certain, untold Madar siblings, and the sweet little healer. She would venture an educated guess that the mountain clan outnumbered Nekros, and that wasn't counting the various other offers of assistance and friendship she'd received. <i>Unwanted and alone</i> was fine if one sat a throne among a budding and loyal court. She could be that obsidian idol, though preferred an approach with more... warmth.

He threatened her, he threatened Lux, teasing the mage with what he thought might be her king-piece... yet she did not waver, shrugging with a scoff. Odysseus would have to find her before she did if he wanted to harm her, and with the new growth of her primaries, Evike was surely faster. With the entire island between the sorceress and their current position, she felt fairly comfortable dismissing him yet again. "We all make sacrifices." Evike lied, crossing her paws one over the other.
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She was back to the games she played when he first met her, when he had first set a claim on her. Wolf. The name that she seemed to favor only when she was angry with him. She suggested that she knew more than he did. If only he could read minds, then he would know of her meeting with the pack, the pack that he had already spoken to and come to an agreement with. Funny world it was. Her lack of care was nearly too obvious. She had laid it all on the line the day his pack had found Lux, she had made her feelings clear when she stood up Newt, put herself between the giant woman and the girl. He would tsk in vague disapproval, rising from his seated position while shaking his head slowly. But she was right. They all made sacrifices. And he was ready to sacrifice her. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"That we do."</b></font> He could bring a very war to her nonexistent door step if that was what she desired, if she honestly though that this land was full of wolves that would lay down their lives for a slave who couldn't even defend herself. Tails swayed idly at his hocks. Games only went so far, then they were no longer fun, they became tedious and unassuming. A dangerous path really.

<font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Speech."</b></font> <font style="color: #64110B;"><em>Thoughts.</em></font></div></div>
She pushed herself up, standing and tucking her wings back against her sides. "If you cannot earn my loyalty, and you cannot earn that of your pack, then just what do you rule?" She paced the length of the rock, hopping down without so much as a sound, the earth absorbing her paw steps hungrily, the grass bending around her, providing her a clear path without resistance or rustling. Hollow, there was nothing in her voice to suggest that she felt particularly about this statement, though she knew it to be true. Caelum Clutch's members gathered around their leader, when Odysseus' harem seemed to avoid him, or, in the case of the massive purple wolf, outright disapprove of him. How long would a kingdom exist ruled by a boy and his mother?

She kept a careful ear out for his movements - loud and crashing, oafish compared to her own enchanted steps, but had already made her decision. He could have Ager, she was done with it, anyway. There were things to be done, goals to accomplish, plans to set in motion. "Your sun is setting, and it hasn't even risen."
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She would speak of loyalty, causing a brow to lift. What could she know of loyalty when she was toying with the wellbeing of one she claimed to care for. She bound away from him, clearly confident about whatever idea floated through her mind. He watched her, happy to let her go for the time being. A smirk toyed with his lips when she spoke again, speaking of rising and setting suns. <font style="color: #2B1313; font-variant: small-caps;"><b>"Well thank heavens I was born in the shadows."</b></font> Amusement coloring his words before he turned away from him, leaving her to her own devices, already preparing a bounty on her. He wandered across ager with no real direction, vaguely pointed back towards his forest. He did not fret over her unspoken words, for she offered nothing worth fearing. 
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-exit-

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