The Tale of Callie Volopa and Morgan Drakewing

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The Tale of Callie Volopa and Morgan Drakewing

Postby CallieO on Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:04 am

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Callie and Morgan's Origin Story
Vulpine Pilgrims: Dramatis Personae
14 of them in the original group, including Callie

The Original Fourteen

Callie Volopa, 25-year-old female single-tailed red-furred vulpine ranger. Takes a leadership role in restoring The Lady's Shrine at Lake Eld and in welcoming Morgan to the group with open arms.

Harald, 322-year-old male three-tailed vulpine and self-proclaimed leader of the group. Doesn't feel Morgan has any business being there.

Iza, 950-year-old female three-tailed vulocha vulpine and Harald's mother. Knows that The Lady makes use of all who wish to serve her. She's a seamstress who's busy making new cushions for the pews.

Alexander, 32-year-old male two-tailed vulpine and Isabella's husband. Is responsible for making the fire.

Isabella, 24-year-old female single-tailed vulpine and Alexander's wife. Is a stonemason who's working on fixing up the beds and other stone furniture.

Biran and Yenke, 37-year-old male two-tailed vulpines. Hunters, and husbands of one another.

Ulani, 18-year-old female single-tailed vulpine. Berry-gatherer.

Caspia, 24-year-old female twin-tailed vulpine. Gardener, responsible for cleaning up the vines inside the shrine and bringing the outside of the shrine back to life.

Lawrencio, 145-year-old male three-tailed vulpine. Guitarist and bard.

Rachel, 42-year-old female twin-tailed dark blue-furred vulpine. Shrine maiden, and the closest thing to a worship leader that the original Group of 14 has.

Jodie, 56-year-old female three-tailed vulpine.

Two more yet unnamed, including a vulocha man
"If there's nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with the universe."
--Dr. Beverly Crusher

Player of Callie Volopa, Viaa, Auric Lightwing, Brian Perano, Erin Tarcata and Aimee Sarasiné

Posts: 716
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:13 am

Chapter 1: They Meet

Postby CallieO on Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:10 am

Lake Eld
St. Eva and the Northern Marches
Gregorian Calendar: July 27, 2006

MorganDrakewing had so much on his mind as he walked the thin forest that surrounded the principal peak of Mount Eld. The words of the bardess still echoed in his mind, years later. "When you are at your lowest, come find me again. I have a house at the base of the mountain. It has been a long time since I had visitors. Perhaps you will find another like me who will need guidance as well. Show her the kindness you have shown me, and you will never feel lonely again." The knight snorts. That Shara, always speaking riddles. Still, he walks on.

Callie Volopa has taken some time off from her new job at The Lonely Inn and made her way all the way to St. Eva and the Northern Marches, a journey of a couple of days from Nanthalion. There aren't many vulpines in town, but one of them had told her of a shrine to The Lady that had to be seen to be believed, on the shore of Lake Eld. Callie had only been in the empire a week, and doesn't have much in the way of money yet. She doesn't even have a horse or a reliable means of long-distance transportation. So she'd come here with a small pilgrimage of other vulpines, traveling here to pay their respects. They'd traveled on cariolos wagons by day, and by night, they'd shared stories, laughed, and slept. The shrine is finally in sight, and Callie helps a vulocha man down from the wagon before turning to see the shrine. The single-tailed, red-furred vulpine ranger is dressed in a green tunic over a white undershirt; a pair of brown pants; and brown boots. She has a dagger strapped to her hips, and has brought her vilakoka prayer pillow with her, which she carries in her right hand.

MorganDrakewing sees the shrine, pausing a little as he sees a wagon roll up. He blinks, seeing the vulpine from a distance. He pauses, redoing his cloak, shivering despite the cold. His head shakes the cobwebs out briefly, taking deep breaths. He's steeling himself, just...preparing for disappointment.

All in all, there are 14 vulpines on this pilgrimage. 14 is an important number in triestan. There were 14 Tayva Din, Original Children of The Lady. Callie's patron Tayva Din is Verlosi, for whom her tribe was named. Because she's on pilgrimage, she wears a blue oval pin with his sigil on her right shoulder. Callie doesn't look at Morgan at first, nor does she show any sign that she's aware of his presence. Instead, Morgan's first glance of Callie is of the ranger in profile, looking out to the lake. She seems... awed by the majesty of the spectacle.

MorganDrakewing watches the vulpine file out, more than he's ever seen in his lifetime. Granted, there were plenty wolven, but these graceful creatures in many colors...he had not seen them this far west. Perhaps one or two in a court harem, but...the knight keeps along the treeline, still observing, red eyes just...scanning...

A three-tailed woman, Jodie, comes up to Callie and the two of them share an embrace. "We finally made it," Jodie says. "Indeed we did. I'm eager to see the shrine. It's been too long since I've been in The Lady's holy presence," Callie replies. "Verlosi'ka is too far away. I miss it already. I miss my family." "Things will turn out all right here in the empire," Jodie says to the younger woman. "You'll see. The empire is a land of opportunities. You've just got to open yourself to the possibilities."

MorganDrakewing hears the two talk as he makes his way slowly to the small building. It has been in disuse for a long time, perhaps pushed out by the trolls. It's a familiar story. He will step in, and he sees the statue taking up the center, that of The Lady, unmolested, and still glimmering.

Callie and the 13 other vulpines come to the shrine, and several people gasp. One woman starts to sob. The shrine is in awful shape. Trash and detritus litter the floor. The illustrated copy of the Cochale which should stand on the pulpit has been stolen. And the location smells vaguely of urine. "This is awful!" a man says. Harald, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, a 300-year-old man with four tails. "We wasted this trip for nothing! There's nothing here for us!" At first, Callie is inclined to agree. There aren't even any temple attendants. Callie looks at the downcast faces of the other vulpines in attendance, and decides she'd better do something. Timidly, Callie gets up on the stage. "My friends," she says. "The Cochale tells us that the temple isn't really a location, but the people who come to worship there." As she speaks, she feels an unusual calm enter her body, as if The Lady herself is giving her the confidence to say what she needs to say. "We traveled here for two days, to find the shrine a mess, but are the people of The Lady really so easily discouraged? 'Vulpines fa granca sha kojo le marakai.'" ["Vulpines are forged from fire and steel."] It's a proverb from Liranja, a poet dead now for more than 3,000 years. "I say, we are vulpines, and this is our shrine, and we won't let anyone take our identity, our culture, away from us. We will clean it up, we will take charge of it, and we'll make it something to celebrate again!" Callie punctuates her statement by raising both fists in the air, touching each other on the side-- a symbol of vulpine pride. The pilgrims with her repeat the gesture, and there's chatter. "YES! WE ARE VULPINES!" "We're with you, Callie!" "We will rebuild!" "We love you, shuka triesta!" and so on.

MorganDrakewing stays in the shadows, just...staring at The Lady...the spitting image of the bardess he had befriended all those years ago. He is...trying to process what is happening, having to sit down on a nearby pew, head in his hands, almost in prayer, and...that is the position he is in when the other vulpines finally step into the shrine.

Harald speaks now, gently helping Callie down from the stage. "At least The Lady's statue is here," he says, gesturing broadly to it. "That's not nothing. Oh!" He's the first one to see Morgan sitting in a pew. He looks down at Callie's feet in shame, not wanting an outsider to see the shameful condition of the shrine. But Callie comes up to Morgan, hands clasped behind her back, and speaks, for the first time since her arrival-- in fact, the first time in two days-- in Common. "I apologize for the condition in which we greet you," she says. "Welcome to The Lady's Shrine at Lake Eld. We've only just arrived, and we're going to clean it up and make it something to be proud of. I can't believe vulpines did this; it had to be something else."

MorganDrakewing raises his head, blinking as Callie approaches. His hands slide into his lap. "No...n-no need to apologize. has been a long time since there was anyone in here..." He indicates the vines and state of the stone around him. "The trolls were driven away years ago. It's only natural that there would be ruins left in their wake."

"It *is* in rather rough shape," Callie admits. "But it's nothing that can't be fixed with a little elbow grease. We're vulpines, after all. We're not averse to a little hard work to restore our cultural heritage." Callie sticks her hand out to Morgan, intending to clasp his forearm in a vulpine gesture called the upofo. "I'm Callie Volopa, ranger of the Verlosi Tribe."

MorganDrakewing will let his hand out, letting Callie clutch it. "Morgannus Drakewing. Just...Morgan to my friends." He looks around at the other vulpines who have noticed the statue. He bites his lip, somehow becoming very self-conscious, looking around nervously, so out of place, and it shows in his face.

Callie takes Morgan's forearm, and hesitates. "Okay... Morgannus, then? Unless you want me to skip right to Morgan." She notices the self-conscious look on his face. Vulpines are masters of body language. "You may be the only human here, but I assure you, you are welcome, and The Lady loves you."

MorganDrakewing bites his lip at the last part...about love. He looks to the statue, remembering Shara's words so many years ago. He then looks at Callie. "I...was told to come meet someone...someone who could..." He stops, unsure how to phrase it. "...just...someone who was in need of direction..."

Callie is about to speak, and then a young woman, younger than Callie, comes up to her. "Pardon the interruption, Callie. There's beds enough for all of us, but they're in need of repair. I can get to work on them." "Good idea," Callie replies. "I think we'd all be happy to sleep in something that doesn't have wheels on it." She looks to Morgan. "I think we could *all* use a little direction right now, Morgannus. I was going to grab a mop and start to work. If you'd care to join us, we can offer you the hospitality of the shrine, such as it is, and we'll share meals together. You'll be as part of the pilgrimage."

MorganDrakewing pauses, just before he could say anything more to embarass himself. "That...that would be fine. Thank you for letting me be of your number...if only for a short time." He lets go of Callie's grip. "There is not much in the way of furniture...anything that wasn't made of stone must have rotted away by now..."

"We have blankets and pillows on the wagons we can bring in to sit and lay on," Callie says. "Anything we want, though, we'll have to bring in ourselves." Callie looks outside the shrine, and sees that Biran and Yanke have already grabbed their mithril spears to go out hunting, and their daughter Ulani has grabbed a basket for berry-picking. "And we won't be without food, with those three on the case. Come on, let's grab some mops from the wagon. So, where do you live, Morgannus?"

MorganDrakewing walks with Callie past the others, trying to weave through the crowd, a few tails slapping against him inadvertently in the process. "Nanthalion. I moved there after I left the Army in St. Eva. Been adventuring ever since."

Callie nods. "I'm from Verlosi'ka, originally-- capital of the Verlosi Tribe, which borders on Lake Kilinia. I moved to Nanthalion exactly a week ago, and got a job at the inn a couple days later. I'm humiliatingly weak. My first day in the inn, I was almost raped by a wolven named Gravik. But I fought back, and he grew weary of me." She climbs up into the wagon, not the one that she'd come on herself, and pulls out a broom, dustpan, a mop, and a bucket, handing each item down to Morgan in turn before climbing back down. She taks the mop and bucket in her hands again then. "Is there a well around here, somewhere?"

MorganDrakewing pointed to a grove closeby. "I think there was one dug around there. I did not check to see if it was still filled." He walks close with Callie. "It can be dangerous in Nanthalion, especially for beautiful creatures like you." He pauses, biting his lip. "That is...if you don't mind the compliment."

Callie chuckles nervously. "Ah-heh. You probably didn't know, but the animal races, vulpines, wolvens, catpeople, don't really like being called 'creatures'. We may look like animals, but we're sapient people like you. I know you didn't mean anything by it, though." Callie walks with Morgan towards the well.

MorganDrakewing lets his hand draw along the side of the well. "Of course...I only meant it as a generalized term. I grew up around wolven, so I know better." He lets Callie check the bucket as he looks to the others, getting all busy. "Why the sudden egress? Has there been a threat to your land?"

Callie waves Morgan off, letting him know she graciously accepts his apology. "Hm? Oh, no. Well, a couple people here are planning to stay; they're from a majority-wolven village and are fleeing religious persecution. But most of us are just here on a pilgrimage to a sacred site. The Legendary Dancer, Haiaka, got married to his wife Kayami here about 2500 years ago. Well, the shrine has been renovated a few times since then, but the bare-bones of the structure remain intact. With as long as we live, we build things to last." Callie looks down into the well. "Well, there's water there, but no telling whether or not it's potable."

MorganDrakewing nods. "It could stand to be boiled." He seems...a bit darker when Callie mentions marriage. It reminds him why he was not in town...Victoria, his mate, was gone...not even a note. He felt the pit of his stomach tighten as he looks down into the well, noting the darkness. "Think there'll be enough for us to do our job?"

"Well, there certainly seems to be plenty *of* it; it's just a deep well," Callie says. "I'll start pulling some up. Could you go inside and ask Alexander to start a fire so we can put some water on the boil, please?" Callie attaches her bucket to the well's rope and starts lowering it down.

MorganDrakewing will do so. Over the next few hours he barely talked to the others, lost in his thoughts. Though he does feel a few concerned glances, he doesn't let on about his broken heart, assisting wherever he may need be. Soon, it would be night...

Callie has, by nightfall, brought up ten buckets full of water from the well, mopped the 'pee corner' in the shrine, and after realizing that she's now filthy and stinks, taken a bath in Lake Eld and changed her clothes, allowing one of the elder women to wash the pilgrimage's laundry. While she works, she, too, thinks about the circumstances that had brought her here. Her relationship with her parents, but especially with her father, had never really recovered in the last several years, since Callie had been forced to exile her youngest sister Kayta, whom she'd loved so dearly, for failing to earn a soul. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right; Kayta wasn't the type to hurt a flea, and she was hopelessly devoted to The Lady. But it was the custom of the Verlosi Tribe, and Callie had to follow it or be exiled herself. Callie tells this story to Morgan and the other pilgrims over their evening meal, held around the campfire. "I can't tell you how close I came to walking out on everything I'd ever known," she concludes her story. "But I couldn't, not even for Kayta. That was six years ago, and I still think about her every day."

MorganDrakewing listens, quiet. He looks around to the other souls, some shedding tears. Being the human, he does not try to call attention to himself, but it would be soon before one of the others look to his direction, as if sensing his troubled heart.

The one who notices Morgan's state of emotion is named Iza, and she's a vulocha, an ancient vulpine who's exceeded even the so-called state of eternal youth afforded to her by her Soul-Joining so many centuries past. She's old and wizened now, with heavy wrinkles, and half-blind, but her mind is still sharp. "This... troubles you, Brother Morgan?" she asks him. The two had spoken cursorily throughout the day, Morgan occasionally offering her water to keep her hydrated on this hot summer's day in St. Eva. But Iza had worked as well, at knitting new cushions for the stone pews.

MorganDrakewing shakes his head. "I...I have been alone in my own thoughts, sister. Forgive my selfishness." He looks up to the group, glancing around. "I had not heard about The Lady before, and this is the first time I have ever been in Her prescence...but...somehow...some way...I feel...she has visited me before, long ago." He pauses, biting his lip. "It may...sound completely ridiculous, but..."

When Callie notices Morgan's hesitation, she prompts him with, "Go on." She wonders if he'd had a vision from Her, or if She'd actually substaniated on earth for him. Both things had been known to happen somewhat frequently; visions from The Lady are common, and substantiations are verified to happen once every few months at minimum.

MorganDrakewing pauses, then begins telling the story of how he met Shara Kitsune, the bardess vixen, her tails wrapped in brass rings, dress of the finest silk, fur like fire, the nights he shared with her (not with too much detail), and of the last message she gave him. " I go here...and...that is...Her image staring back at me..."

Harald is the loudest scoffer. "Preposterous. I've lived for three hundred years and The Lady has never substantiated to me. Why would She visit a human, and have sex with him?" "BE SILENT, HARALD!" Iza admonishes him. "Our history is replete with The Lady making use of anyone who wishes to serve her. Was not Viaa, the Messenger, a chirot? Was not General Andrew Youngblood, who defended the Forest Tribe with his dying breath, a human? Fuch'vulpines are vulpines, too, dear." "Yes, mother," Harald says, properly chastened. Callie speaks to Morgan directly in a voice filled with wonder. "Do you really think it was The Lady?" she asks him.

MorganDrakewing shakes his head. "It is Her vision in front of me. She had broken her lute over the head of an overlusty patron, and I took it upon myself to repair it for her. It was a special design...rosewood with carvings on the side..." His eyes follow up on the statue, and...sees the instrument, restored, at the base of the statue. His eyes widen. "Who...who found that? Where did it come from?"

The vulpines in attendance, all 14 of them, look to the shrine in confusion and deny knowing anything about the lute. Caspia, a twin-tailed 24-year-old female, says, "I did a full inventory of the meager supplies in the temple. There was nothing wooden still intact, I'd wager my life on it." "And my personal instrumental tastes are more towards the guitar than the lute," says Lawrencio, a three-tailed bard in his second century of life. "You don't suppose..."

<+MorganDrakewing> *As Lawrencio turns the lute, there is a small carving, the initials MD, and the sigil of a dragon entwined around a rose. Morgan goes deathly pale, biting his lip enough so blood starts to draw out of it.* "This...this isn't possible...none of this...this has to be some sort of..." Morgan says.

Lawrencio looks over the lute. "Looks a few years old, but in very good condition." Reverently, he hands it over to Morgan. "Do you play? Would you treat us to a song of our people with me?"

MorganDrakewing takes the lute, looking around. "I...I know none of those songs. I am no artist, but..." He settles the instrument in his lap. "There ballad I remember her I would often request..." He would start playing it from memory, to the audience.

Callie, sitting next to Morgan at his left, listens as the human begins to play the ballad. She can tell from the first chorus that it was divinely inspired. Even Lawrencio, the professional musician, and even Harald, the doubter, seem suitably impressed. By the second chorus, Callie and most of the other vulpines sing it with Morgan.

MorganDrakewing keeps playing, and just before the second chorus...he stops playing, spirit unable to carry anymore, setting the lute aside, shoulders heaving, fingers digging into his hair, just ready to collapse, just overcome with silent, deep emotion...

The vulpines sing the chorus a capella, silently, reverently, with Callie placing a comforting hand on Morgan's left shoulder. "It's going to be okay, Morgan. You must have loved Her very much, and miss Her." Iza looks to Harald. "Are you satisfied now, my son?" Harald nods. "Yes, mother. Only the love between a goddess and a man could bring out such emotion. Morgannus, I... apologize."

MorganDrakewing feels Callie's hand on his shoulder, slowly raising up. "It is not neccessary. I am unsure of if...I am still in a dream...or all that has happened has led to outcast like me who cannot even keep angels happy...alone with no title to my name..."

"You're not alone," Callie insists. "Morgan... you're not alone." She uses the human's familiar name for the first time, giving him a gentle smile. "You were clearly Touched by The Lady, which as far as I'm concerned, makes you fuch'vulpine-- 'vulpine by choice'. Wouldn't you agree, Rachel?" Rachel, a 42-year-old twin-tailed shrine maiden, who's spent her day sanctifying the ruins of the shrine and replacing some of the religious artifacts, including putting up a new copy of the Illustrated Cochale, nods her assent. She's the closest thing to a religious leader they have right now, though she's very low in the ranks of the temple right now. "I *do* agree, Callie," she says. "Morgan, you're kin to us. You've seen The Lady Herself; She's loved you and taught you one of Her daughter's songs."

MorganDrakewing nods to Rachel, noting her dark blue fur, trying to shed tears, but they had been spent long past. "I...I have done nothing to earn this other than...befriend one of your own. I do not feel worthy of such honor...I..." His voice is lost as he turns, looking into Callie's eyes..

"How about all the work you've put in today?" Callie asks. "The sweat equity you've contributed, and the friendships you've made. The Lady put you here for a reason, Morgan. And sometimes the answers to our questions aren't entirely clear." Callie gently strokes her singular tail against Morgan's waist, in a friendly, not a seductive, manner.

MorganDrakewing feels there is no point to protest any further, his hand drawn along Callie's tail, stroking it gently, letting the vixen draw near as the others give approving nods. He forces a smile, looking up to the statue again. "I...guess that is reason enough for a small celebration, is it not?"

"Yes, indeed," Rachel says. She rises to a standing position and extends both arms in front of her over the fire in a bendictive stance. "Friends and loved ones, gather around tonight, and rejoice, for our Brother Morgan, not of our flesh, not of our blood, has nevertheless come home to triestan. He has been Touched by The Divine Light of The Lady Herself, and has even been in Her presence. For that, we give thanks, and welcome Morgan into the Coterie of Triestan. Morgan, karsha." ["Morgan, welcome."] "Morgan, karsha!" the other vulpines exclaim, raising their drinks, and each of them drinking to the dregs before setting them back down. Even the skeptics.
"If there's nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with the universe."
--Dr. Beverly Crusher

Player of Callie Volopa, Viaa, Auric Lightwing, Brian Perano, Erin Tarcata and Aimee Sarasiné

Posts: 716
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:13 am

Re: The Tale of Callie Volopa and Morgan Drakewing

Postby Cangelosi on Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:51 pm

D`awwwww... :oops:
-post presented by the actual mun of characters Morgan Drakewing and Arnoch Bretail-
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