Tooth and Nail

Title: Tooth and Nail
Time Period: July 29, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A disturbance within the graveyard grounds is not allowed to go unchecked.

People die. The dead are buried.

Some more recently than others.

Light hasn't quite started to ghost grey at the horizon when the graveyard's silence falters around an intrusion. Instead there's a subtle increase in contrast between looming shapes, particularly those that move — pitch black gradually giving way to murky blue. Boulders may be monsters and loose leaves may be bats.

Around the freshest graves, fog is creeping into the valleys between shifted earth. And at the grave that's freshest of all, something is moving dirt. A figure can be made out at a distance, large and indistinct and almost certainly up to no good at this hour and at this place. Huffing breaths mark mounting effort and urgency — the stoop and lift of the shoulders suggest he might be digging with his hands.

Something else moves in the fog, disturbing it in swirls… from below? It's hardly bigger than a head, and the way it drags itself closer might well be mistaken for short gusts of wind by anyone close enough to hear it, but the one thing that is clear is which direction it is currently heading into.

The urgency demonstrated by the cemetery's current visitor is suddenly mirrored by the fog-dwelling creature, and it isn't long before it starts emitting agitated, rattling clicking noises as it closes in on its person of interest from behind. Until its black, twitching form suddenly… just stops. The pointy silhouette stares. Curious. Pondering?

There's a damp wooden creak and crack deep within earth rent asunder, the intruder bent ass over elbows. Nose down. Shoulders deep.

Then there's something else. The rattling click closing in, a subtle shift in the fog.

Dead set on getting out with something for all this effort, Flint stays down for longer than he should, wrenching forcefully back up and out again only when the noise stops short behind him. A human arm follows him up, clenched stiff between his jaws at the elbow. Meat drapes loose from the shoulder; one finger is missing. His breath furls quick through thick fangs and out the black of his nose, eyes ringed unholy blue beneath ears laid flat to his skull.

Mud falls in clumps from the bristle of his ruff when he turns his head a beat later. Searching for the source.

The search won't be long. It doesn't take the tiny black form very long to figure out that something is not right here, that arms are probably supposed to be on the people they're supposed to be onand not being carried around by whatever just popped up— and then it becomes all too clear what the smaller of the two creatures is. A tiny cawing noise escapes its beak, uncertain. Then another, louder, harsher. Without warning, three more follow, deafening, carried by the winds as easily as the silence that occupied it before.

The hooded crow's eyes lock onto the dismembered arm, jumps out of the fog and sideways onto a boulder, its wings dragging behind it between futile little shrugs.


Extra arm dropped aside, the brute has just bent back for seconds when the first loud CAW sees him clouting his head against the ruptured casket on his way back up. Flesh stripped away in the process is swallowed after a bone-cracking pair of chomps to work it down, freeing up his fangs to snap a slavering warning. There's a scissory chop to the cut of his teeth to humid air, ill-temper hot on his breath as he struggles out of the mess he's made.

Loose earth collapses under pad and claw and he has to fight to free himself from the sinking weight of it. He shakes himself once he's fully topside, foul mud and gore pelting bird and boulder alike. Graceless.

The bird seems determined to let off one last screech of a call before a stray bit of mudcovered flesh mows it down mid-air and it tumbles down the back of the rock with a dry kerflutter of feathers. The ground-bound creature appears to have been defeated, and stays down for now.

But too late. The racket it made may not have succeeded to intimidate the visitor, but it did serve one other purpose, as the sound of rustling leaves down a neighbouring path soon implies. The fog is parted once more, this time by a much larger creature, namely the bird's owner, moving at a very brisk pace indeed.

Lazar, though he's never been one to stand out in a crowd per way of loveliness, has looked better; his hair sticking every which way, long black coat still filthy with dirt from late-night cemetery maintenance and an overall lack of shoes contributing to an all-together disheveled appearance. It's obvious from his eyes and grim demeanor that he's only just woken up, but his gaze is as alert as he can force it to be. His right hand's fingers are curled tightly around a gold-inlaid, antique shotgun of a very decent size, and his heavy gait is accompanied by equally urgent-sounding Hungarian mutterings. Where's that wretched bird?

Where indeed. Arm in hand, Deckard shuffles over on all threes to huff at the offending boulder, sinuses all full of death. The bird was there.

Fog turns cool around the push of one paw-like hand that sinks in like a pivot for him to lean in on once he's hopped awkwardly around the base; a broad leaf falls past his ear and he snaps it all to tatters.

False alarm.

At close range, even in the dark he is easily marked as a werewolf, all teeth and temper and rangy muscle under a swarthy pelt that has more in common with the hollow earth here than it does the surrounding forest. The smell of wet, earthy dog is oppressive at close range, smothering into that little bird beak with a touch of piss and maybe whiskey.

Sensing that he's close, he begins to growl. A low, hoarse rumble deep in his throat that builds slow through the part of his fangs. Crippled watch bird crumpled in the fog. Saliva pools into the leaf litter like glue.

…It's the unmistakable man smell of Lazar that snaps him out of it, rather than the sound of his inevitable approach. His jaws lock shut and he stiffens and bristles aside. Frozen. Just for a second.

Lazar's expression changes from grim to downright mystified when he draws near enough to come around a corner and see the upturned grave, before it turns to visibly enraged as his eyes begin to adapt to the low light and catch a glimpse of the extent of the destruction. Those noises. This has to be some monster of a hound, but it's not the first time he's had to deal with those. And this time he's come prepared. The shotgun is raised to his middle, other hand now on the fore end to hold it steady. He's warned the dog owners before, they'd have it coming.

The bird lies still, on its back and half covered in leaves and saliva, just as frozen if not for its chest rising and falling like a leaky balloon. At least until it spots Lazar. Feathers and leaves alike spring into the air next ot the boulder that was its perch before, the little creature flipping right side up and darting as quick as its little talons can carry it to flee behind its owner, who seems briefly started by the sound, swirving 'round and very nearly shoots his own animal, lifting the gun to his shoulder but not quite pulling the trigger.

The 'hound' flinches from the sight of the gun as well as any seven foot wolf monster can flinch, which is to say: not very. The raggedy drape of his tail tucks and he hunches, the great shadowy mass of him gathering low to the ground. Deckard's breathing shallows to match the bird's seconds ago.

Also like the bird, his decision to cut and run comes suddenly and without warning.

The arm is hefted back between his teeth and he launches off the boulder's flank into a queer lope, hand and paw stretching long between strides. Dead forearm and wrist smack off a tree trunk in passing. A grave marker is plowed right over off its roots.

There's the fence.

He finds it with his face, skull striking hard off wrought iron bars. Drops the arm. Picks it back up again after a snarling, furious garble of barks and growls.

What in the world…? The shotgun is momentarily lowered slightly when Lazar catches glimpse of what should by all accounts not be here. Hound-like but far too… not. This becomes especially clear to him when it leaps away. Lazar lifts the gun again and takes aim, but he hesitates. His muscles tense up not because of nerves - the gun is held steadily enough - but something else. Doubt in something other than himself.

Just as the bird flits past him, letting out concerned little caws with each hop, Lazar jumps forward to bound after the graverobber, gun in tow. His knowledge of the area helps to keep him from tripping but he still struggles to catch up, especially with new obstacles in the way. His brain rattles as he tries to figure out what he's even chasing, but the sound of its face colliding with the iron bars bring an unexpected grin to his face. It gives him a little extra time to rush closer, and point the gun once more toward the creature, at what is hopefully a safe enough distance.

"Stay still," The gravedigger finally commands in a thick Hungarian accent, between heavy breaths. "Or I will shoot. Drop the arm."

Staying still is not something Deckard does well on command. However, under these circumstances, with a shotgun leveled his way — he tries. He stops railing at the fence, anyway, broad rib cage working like a billows beneath the grimy rug of his coat when he turns back to stare. Not blinking near enough.

He has an even harder time with the order about the arm and complies with some crude resistance, incisors working skin and muscle from bone on his way to lowering it into the fog. There's a fever to it. Nearly a panic, and once he's swallowed, for all that he's otherwise motionless, he immediately tries to test in another bite of loose muscle in off the shoulder.

The fact that he is only half-obeyed is overlooked by Lazar, in favour of ogling back and hurting his brain some more by trying to figure out how to go about this. His gun has always been a useful tool in getting intruders to comply, but where do you go from there if said intruder could rip you apart upon lowering it? Especially if your gun is so old that when fired it might be just as volatile.

So he watches, gun still at the ready. Finally, he takes a step closer, treading carefully and without sudden movements. "You are ugly." The words leave his mouth before he can grow aware of them but he doesn't seem to mind, brow furrowing as he stares down the barrel. "Does it speak?" As much of a question to himself as the beast, it seems.

Give him an inch. The gun hasn't been fired yet and Deckard grows bolder, popping carnassials through humerus on his way to forcing down another lump. His ears, which had ventured forward, flatten unevenly at observations made aloud about his majestic aspect, the angles and hollows of his wolfish skull painted sleek by the drool that's soaked in about his face.

He's thin. Lean, at the very least, rangy muscle cut long through his arms and belted taut about ribs that poke. Fur's just started to grow back where it had previously fallen out in irregular swaths. Mud sticks worst, there.

After another quick bite, he seems keen on leaving again. He pulls back and aside just one step, dragging the increasingly wolf-eaten arm along the ground after him like maybe Lazar won't notice if there's no change in elevation.

It does not speak.

"Stay. Still." The gravedigger has had enough. This is his cemetery and he is damn well going to keep whatever belongs to it inside of it— give or take a few mouthfulls of flesh. His words are clearer now, and his muscles tense once more. He takes another two steps forward to advance despite its retreat, gun trained first on the beast's flank, then moving to lock in on the head. Lazar's nose wrinkles in anticipation, visibly aching to pull the trigger, to get a closer look at this thing when its skull is riddled with holes. But just because it does not speak, does not mean it can't listen.

"You are hungry," He starts again, his voice still suggesting threats and last chances, but the words slightly kinder, even if they come from over the top of a weapon, "I can give you food. Not rot. This does not belong to you."

Frustration and resentment are unsettlingly human emotions to be burning through unholy blue eyes, but canines are capable of a remarkable range of expression. Flint lets the arm roll the rest of the way out of his mouth, all dead weight and loose joints and slobber roped from ground to chin.

He's slightly less intimidating on all fours and at gunpoint, jaws champing an invisible bit. Fangs still near but not in the rot that doesn't belong to him, according to Lazar. As for the kindness of an alternative: he shows a flatly ungrateful absence of interest.

"You have two choices." The man seems intent on getting a clear decision out of the creature, lips pulling back into a sneer. "Come with me, and I give you sheep meat," his eyes narrow, giving way to a stare that implies this choice involves more than just being handed free, fresh food. But fresh food nonetheless. "… Or… leave. And I ask everyone in town about you. Which does not matter if you are ugly and idiot." He scuffs, lifting his chin slightly to look down at the intruder. "And next time I catch you, I kill you and have your ugly hide."

A wise man might have stopped talking a while ago, or tell the beast to leave, or even just give him the room to leave of his own accord. Yet Lazar does the opposite, taking yet more steps forward and actually removing his left hand from the weapon to reach - very slowly - for what's left of the stray limb. Clearly this man has never owned a dog. But it's the corpse's arm and clearly a matter of principle.

Two choices, each undesirable in its own way. Lazar's eyes narrow. Flint's eyes narrow in pale mirror, lips peeled back from the crush of his fangs at threats against his mud-clotted hide for all that he also hunkers away from the risk. He understands, then, and seems capable of considering his options, froth dribbling cold from the corners of his maw. Defeated.


The groundskeeper steps closer and the werewolf tenses nose to hock, hackles roughed into a grimy bristle on the leading edge of instinct. It's worse with every step he takes, silent affront vibrating into a warning growl so low it's hard to hear and only comes at the last second. Lazar reaches; Deckard lunges. And snaps, catching into thicker, fresher forearm and yanking inexorably down.

Lazar's body yields to the pain all too quickly quickly, knees buckling almost instantly to the pain as he's pulled down. He should have known, he really should have. But his confidence in swaying others has gotten him into trouble before, and it's no different here. But never before has it made him cry out in pain quite so loudly.

The second thing to sound, then, is a direct result of his muscles tensing up in an attempt to keep him at least relatively upright. The shotgun, still in his hand, has its trigger pulled. But it's all wrong, all wrong. Instead of the weapon firing, the thing comes apart in the man's very hands with a miniature explosion of its very own.

The outdated device spits out fiery sparks every which way it can, metal twisted and bent in an instant, smoke engulfing the two individuals within a matter of seconds. Lazar, deafened, having dropped the gun and now suffering injuries on both arms, puts up very little of a fight and sinks further down into the mix of smoke, fog and dirt.

Sparks and hot powder belch bright off the bulk of Flint's attack, adding the stink of burning hair and a warbling shriek to the mix of him twisting his weight over Lazar on the ground. The ringing in his ears is actually worse, world deadened by a dimension so that even he barely hears a roar bellowed blunt directly down into the gravedigger's face.

The shock of it gives him pause, massive weight wrested all on top in a heap while he sniffs at injuries foreign and self-induced. He's breathing hard. His breath stinks. So does the rest of him.

The fact that Lazar isn't resisting much gives him time to dial back a notch, lending some truth to the age old assertion that one should play dead. Maybe. After licking rough at a singed patch on his own shoulder, he hooks his nose up under the man's chin and seems to feel for a pulse there, or dragging breath. His tongue follows at a rasp, rolling thick over jugular and throat. Feeling the life in there, one eye turned to study consciousness at close range.


The gravedigger's injured in more ways he'd care to count, but breathing. It is staggered, pausing whenever what he would consider a lesser man would whimper or audibly flinch in pain, his eyes open but seeming to have trouble focusing on anything in particular right this moment. Gunpowder and fire's singed the skin over the length of his right arm and hand, and it sits very strangely on his shoulder, dislodged from its socket thanks to the weapon now lying a few feet away. The left arm isn't doing much better, forearm bleeding profusely into the mud below it.

But then it moves. The gravedigger's eyes focus once more, and fix in on the face in front of him as the one arm he can still manage to drag out from underneath him reaches jaggedly out for the lycanthrope's own throat in an attempt to just— grab it. As tightly as he can manage with the help of adrenaline, his face twisted in both excruciating pain and unadulterated rage.

Well that's what happens when you get arrogant and start thinking about eating people who are still alive, isn't it? Caught fast more abruptly than he could have counted on, Flint stiffens and pulls back and goes — nowhere, air chuffing through flared nostrils at a staggered, unhappy wheeze. What might have been a gasp, if he had room for it.

Full on alarm whites his eyes and shows his teeth; nearly as quick as he's caught, he's thought to plug a heavy, clawed hand around Lazar's neck in even exchange.

It takes him longer than it should to bite the claws of the other into the bicep of the arm that has him, this exchange as nearly silent on his end as his battered hearing would have him believe.

There's a stifled gurgle of an "Erk—" when Lazar's own throat is lined with digits much sharper than his own. But his grip tightens, much less impressive, dirt-covered nails nevethertheless digging into soft tissue. Teeth gritted, jaw clenched and every wince caught in his line of sight fueling him to further pursue his goal. He's not letting go, at least not by choice. Not while he's still awake. Squeeze.

Frothy dribble patters down onto Lazar's face and chest as the standoff stretches on, tongue curling out in pointless reflex to lap the worst of it back in. Deckard doesn't get desperate until static starts to wring out the clarity of his vision. He writhes just once, jaws open, spine bound by muscle on either side into a contraction that spurs him to take more decisive action.

The spare claws he'd pinned in Lazar's arm relocate. To his balls.

And just like that, the grasp on the beast's neck noticeably lessens. One can only ignore so many kinds of pain, and Lazar's face shows that he's just about at the end of his little repertoire. Attempting a sharp intake of breath in pain is unsuccesful, and the combined effort of drool dripping down his eyebrows and his eyes involuntarily rolling back aren't making things any easier. His back arches as the rush of adrenaline fades and injuries increase in intensity, shoulders pressing down in a writhe.

But he's not done quite yet. Through a very last attempt at escaping, his hand slips from the throat it was so very determined to hold, and drops in order to swing an elbow across Flint's face as hard as his possibly last efforts can manage.

The werewolf's skull jars down and aside with the force of the blow, muscle and tendon belted under neck and shoulder reeling it back around for a wet, ragged snarl. He pays it back in kind with a stout swat of paw to face and — misses, actually, too far off balance to bother correcting. A leaning stagger aside takes his weight off Lazar entirely and gives him a beat to catch his breath in. Hunched on all fours, he rasps between stops and starts of a growl that's aimed back at the groundskeeper along with his glare. Too tired now to be as enraged as it wants to be.

He doesn't dive back in once he's rested. Doesn't even look to consider it. Instead he turns quickly back for the fallen arm that started this whole thing, catching it up in his jaws on his way to clawing up a nearby tree. Then over the fence.

He's already in trouble. Might as well take what he came for.

Then there is silence. After the last hit dished out, the gravedigger lies all too still, saliva, blood and dirt coating his face and most of the rest of him.

It takes a full minute for his body and brain to realise it's been left alone, and his mouth opens to draw a startled first breath. When he finally does open his eyes, it's to see his bird staring uncertainly into his face, beak stuffed full with what very much looks to be bits of flesh suspiciously much like those he saw on a familiar corpse's arm.

He stays down. At least for a little while. Getting back to town is going to be fun. But he's alive, and that's good enough for now.