What Manner of Danger

Title: What Manner of Danger
Time Period: August 2, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Hush delivers a warning that is long overdue.

During the day, Jorn stalwartly goes on even if it happens to be hot enough that he needs to completely shed a couple of layers. It was not particularly hot nor humid today, though something seemed to bother him during the afternoon. Perhaps it was his head, or his leg, or both, but he crankily deferred away that evening to spend some quiet time in the woodlands. It has helped him, even if all he has been doing is wandering along one of the deeper streams, water up to the crook of neck and chest, giant paws picking along at the bottom rocks. Once or twice he has even pried one up above the surface, balancing it between the pads of his feet and the tips of his toes.

Practice makes perfect. It never hurts to make his coordination more keen. Jorn drops the fat rock with a plop and a plunk, and it rolls away under the brown surface of the water where he sits. The bear sits up straighter, wanders a few paces, and lies himself bodily upon a shallow stretch of water. Yes. This definitely helps his headaches, and the muscles in his leg. Bears will be bears.

Foxes will be foxes, too. In a similar fashion to Jorn shedding his clothes, Hush has shrugged off the outer layer of his fur for summer and traded his pristine white coat for a much drabber brown one, which is just as well because the change affords him better camouflage during his lonely sojourns into the wilds that surround Dornie.

Jorn won't become aware of his presence downwind until he moves from the position where he's been watching the giant for the better part of an hour, and even then it might be easy to dismiss - he could just as easily be the shifting grass, a change in the breeze's direction. His small paws whisper as he draws closer, seeming to float over the ground.

He has never spoken to a human being before who isn't his. Maybe the trepidation in his approach is understandable.

«Jorn Wartooth?»

The bear's mouth is open in a yawn, lips covering upper teeth, lowers bared when his lip falls. The inside of his mouth is mostly black, tongue as well. He is ready to slump over through rocks and mud when the voice reaches him. Sleepy as the skinwalker seemed, he sits upright with a jolt, face dripping water. The big black nose quivers and sniffs, before the bear rattles his head and sends a fine spray out around him. The rest still lies in the shallows, however, Jorn does have the mind to curl into a more doglike position, rather than belly down.

Recognize the voice he does not, nor can he find a proper scent. Jorn turns his head around towards the downwind stream, ears at ease. If it wanted to hurt or bother him, it would not have asked for his identity first. Would it?

«Yes. Yes? Where are you?» The bear sits up now, dripping silt and water from his white coat.

Hush emerges into the open, ears flattened against his skull and nose in the wind. In this shape, he relies more on his other senses than he does on his eyes, which are a bright yellow-gold and rimmed in skin the colour of burned charcoal - satisfied that he and Jorn are alone, he comes up to the water's edge, scoping out the bear's reflection before he looks back up again and raises his head to address the bear.

«Hello,» he says, reaching out with a paw to touch one of the few rocks that isn't wholly submerged. When it doesn't wobble under his weight, his other three legs join the first, and he claims the rock like a great frog lording over its lilypad. «Do you know me?»

Visuals do more than even scent could, and it takes only a few moments of dutifully watching the fox before Jorn is fairly certain what- who- it is. Which person belongs to it. Nubby ears perk as far as shape allows, and Jorn watches the fox put out one paw, and another, coming to a perch there in front of him. The pale blue of his eyes may be gone, though it swims there behind the bear's eyes, in the right light. The firm shape of his nose is familiar, as well. The smell most of all, even with the ursine half.

«Yes. I think so.» Jorn may be certain, but presuming could be a bit much. He hasn't, so far, leaned over to sniff the little creature on its face; Hush is Hush, and Hush is also Aislinn, in a way. Get to know a fox before you put your mug up to his, right?

Hush shyly turns his face away from Jorn, pretending to take interest in the moss growing on the moistest part of his perch. He paws at it, exploring its springy texture with the sensitive pads of his toes, then lifts his foot to nibble at the damp fur between them so it doesn't clump together. A few licks smooths it back out again, and he rolls his tongue over his nose to ward off a sneeze.

«There is a bad danger,» he tells Jorn without looking directly at him. His attention is now somewhere off in the trees, ears pricked and listening. «I want to tell you, but my lady is afraid, and I am afraid for my lady. Will you help us?»

Rather than loom overhead, Jorn puts his paws forward, leaning down onto his belly again, haunches bunched. Something doglike, something catlike. In this, he and Hush have common ground. Now that he is on a similar eye level, there is less qualms about at the very least, sniffing the air between them. There is always danger, but he is not going to tell Hush that, in his moment of desperation.

«What manner of danger?» The bear peers after where the familiar looks, squinting. «You know that I am your friend. I will help, if I am able…» Asking for help never seemed like a strong suit to begin with, and asking questions leads to hesitance, sometimes. Jorn would like to avoid that, if there is something about.

«Jain MacCruimein is a mage,» says Hush. «My lady has known for longer than we have been in Dornie.»

The fox's left ear twitches, and he imagines he hears something in the brush. It turns out to be an ordinary songbird picking blackberries off the branches of a sagging, overripe bush - Jorn can hear the relief in the familiar's next exhale, slow and quaking. «She is quiet because he promises to hurt her babies if she tells, but I cannot be quiet anymore, Jorn Wartooth. It was his familiar in the loch. Traa-dy-Liooar. If he does not kill my lady, she surely will.»

He was expecting something else, in hindsight. Not sure what, excepting that it wasn't this. Jorn's ears fold into the rest of his fur, and a grim line folds black where his lips meet his cheeks. He sits there in silence for some time, breathing suddenly harder, mood simmering hotly.

«Why? What has your lady done to him, to anger so?» The bear answers, finally, lips opening to let out a growling huff of warm air. The growl reverberates down his throat and into his chest, rumbling. «MacCruimein is nothing but a thug. I've known this forever. But a mage as well?» The silent question being, how did he hide it for so long? «Why is his familiar doing such things?»

Has he no control?

«He loves Traa-dy-Liooar like Eamonn loves my lady. It should not be.» Hush flattens against the rock at the growl, the brush of his tail curling round his haunches. The tips of his whiskers can feel its vibrations in the air, and friend or not, it's causes him to let out a shrill, placating whine. «Her knowing is crime enough.»

The notion leaves an odd taste in Jorn's mouth. He knows that flygja like Hush are a part of their mages, but as he speaks of it, it becomes something almost …incestuous. Jorn dips his nose down to the water between his forelegs, lapping blackened, fleshy tongue over it to wet his mouth again. And to calm his growling with something at ease, for the familiar's sake.

«What do I do?»

«You must tell Donagh,» sounds miserable, because trusting Duncan with anything makes Hush's chest tighten and his stomach flop. «You must tell Donagh, and you must tell Eamonn, and you must tell them he cannot know I came to you. Not ever.»

If Jorn could, he would think of a way to leave Hush out of it entirely. Nothing comes to him, not right away. Still, he voices this concern.

«How many others know of him, and… Traa-dy-liooar?» Even saying it, like this, proves foreign. «He may devise that it was you, or your lady, and you may still be in danger if he should get away. Is there no way to make this seem as if he gave himself away?» The great white bear lifts one foot, rubbing the rough pad over an itch at his muzzle.

«I would never forgive myself, if something like that should happen after I tell the brothers.» There does not seem a right way to this.

Hush offers only a sympathetic tilt of his head in response. Now Jorn suffers as he has suffered for the past however many years.

«Algernon Fogg,» he says. «He is a friend.» And yet it sounds like there should be more to it than that; Hush is holding something back, and his guilt directs his eyes back to their reflections in the water, warped by the creek's burbling current. He picks at the moss again. «He is also very clever.»

Jorn eases up onto all four feet, sloshing in water and the stirred mud underneath of him. The black skin of his wet belly peeks through fur, and he begins to ascend onto the bank. Either above or around Hush, as long as he gets back to it.

«Fogg knows, yet I did not?» The faint sound of betrayal, but honestly- if he had known, without being told to fix it through official channels- what would he have done? Possibly try kill Jain himself. It is also possible that he is considering it while he and Hush commiserate.

«Yes, Fogg is very clever. Perhaps I will speak with him, if you allow it. We could make sure he comes after us, if… someone.» There is, however, another question brought up in the process. «How did Fogg find out?»

It's inevitable that Jorn would think to ask. Hush was only hoping it wouldn't occur to him until after he'd left. A flick of his tail, and he's sailing over the water in a brisk leap that carries him across the creek and back onto dry land. His front paws hit the ground first, followed by the back - he uses the jump's momentum to propel him through the blackberry bush and into the wood beyond, sending the songbird into the sky in a startled, shrieking explosion of rumpled feathers.

There is absolutely no way in Hel that Jorn might be able to stop Hush from flinging across the creekbed and back into the wood. The bear hobbles a few steps backwards, watching with the most incredulous look that a bear can muster. Well, then. It may answer part of the question, Hush's adamant denial to answer it properly- but unless things surfaced as they have with Jain, the skinwalker cannot know fact from presumption. It matters less.

Jorn snorts heavily at the mud under his paws, glowering towards the earth for a minute; he moves off, soon. Heaving his way up into the brush and through it, crashing over sticks and leaves on his way back to his trodden bear-path.

This will take some planning. Careful planning.