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 turn these diamonds straight back into coal, modern fantasy, open!
Lar
 Posted: Oct 4 2016, 05:46 PM
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Fall dawns, crisp as a fresh apple. The chilly air whispers of distant bonfires, that lick of smoky sweetness from the farmers burning out the last of the fields. Barn cats across the county take to their hay lofts; horses thicken their coats, anticipating snow. Lourdon hunkers down as the leaves in the old orchards begin to color at the edges. Main street itself is cradled in the warm glow of streetlamps every evening as the sun dies in the west. Facing the street, Lourdon Thrift's window is full of creeping pumpkin vines, scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns—inside, the racks are full of once-worn halloween costumes.

Outside, a rust-ridden truck pulls up in front of the store, it's bed full of fresh-picked pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The truck rattles to a shaky halt as its engine cuts out, and then the driver's door sighs open. Two brown, battered cowboy boots hit the pavement, followed by two-pair of furry paws. The man in question is tall and dirty-blonde, with the spark of youth in his step and experience in his well-worn palms. Around his neck hangs a hand-knitted scarf in shades of blue that bring out his eyes. The dog beside him is some sort of mongrel, maybe part collie, maybe part shepherd—but a pretty dog, all the same.

The pair is not often seen in town. Holden owns the Lourdon Bed and Breakfast, whose hearth will now be stacked with firewood, the windows battened down against the autumn breeze. Generally, he stays there—him and his guests and the dog and whatever else happens by needing some hospitality in Lourdon. There isn't much in the way of tourism here, and in the fall even less so. There are better places to watch the leaves change.

Holden shuts the truck up behind him, the windows still down and the key in the ignition. He pulls his denim jacket tighter around his lean frame as he steps to the back of the truck and flips down the tailgate. With his dog watching patiently, he pulls out a handwritten sign—Pumpkins, $5—and props it against the truck where the streetlight beams down on it.

That done, he leans up against the truck himself, hound at his heels, and waits.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Oct 5 2016, 04:52 PM
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Unlike the scattered leaves, drifting where the wind wills them, the young man blowing into Lourdon is not there by chance. Perhaps he should be in more of a hurry than he is, his destination is not this town itself, but somewhere beyond. The temperatures at night are less forgiving than they were when he first set out on this journey of his, but he is either unconcerned or doing a fine job of seeming as such. Instead of hurrying along to make an attempt to find a warm place to curl up, he pauses beneath one of the flickering streetlights, dark eyes skipping up to watch as fat moths flutter about it desperately. The backdrop is the last rays of sun bleeding from the sky, the crimsons having shifted seamlessly into an array of indigo.

The canvas pack on his back is nearly as large as he is, patched as his clothing, the lot of it clean but worn. All he has is what he is carrying, a few articles of clothing, an old— but sturdy— quilt, a few apples stolen from the orchard down the way, several scraps of interesting fabric found here and there, a silver thimble and a spool of thread with a needle tucked through for safe keeping. Then there is the book, the one bound in plain leather with no distinguishing features of which to note save the thin red ribbon tied about it. This, this is his prized possession, clutched to his chest as if he is afraid someone might try to take it from him.

Some small sound draws his attention to the duo beside the truck, and Ezra's feet find their own way there. Stopping before the two he first examines the dog, gaze searching, though for what exactly is only known to him. He tentatively offers out a glove clad hand to the creature, the fingers of which are gone, leaving slender digits exposed. “What's her name?” All dogs are her until proven otherwise. It's not the question he wants to ask, even if he is curious.

Ezra is a short wisp of a thing, and he has to cant his head back to be able to turn his attention to the man. It's his height that all too often has others mistaking him as younger than he truly is, though his eyes give him away to the observant. The riot of untamed curls atop his head are the very same color as the pumpkins in the bed of the truck, stark against his pale complexion. His nose is ruddy, he has been exposed to the chilly air for some time.

Sometimes, he's learned, it's best to get a read on someone before trying to pry for information.

--------------------
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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Lar
 Posted: Oct 5 2016, 09:24 PM
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Holden doesn't know the locals—but he knows the look of a traveler when he sees one, and he arches one scruffy eyebrow at the young man. All the same, he says nothing, content to lounge amiably in the shadows. His dog, on the other hand, stiffens, hackles raised, as it sniffs tentatively at Ezra's fingers. Then the tip of its tail begins to twitch, ever so slightly, and it steps back to hide behind Holden's legs.

He smiles, warm as polished oak.

"Jack," he says. "She don't much like strangers." Holden does, though, and between the two of them they strike a balance. Old Man Miller down the road laughs sometimes, calls Jack his wife—the missus, keeping him from going poor with his too-good heart. Holden laughs too, and late at night he wonders if it's the truth. There are worse truths, he's decided.

"Awful big pack," he remarks, any comment about Ezra's height going unsaid. You say the good parts, Holden has learned, and let the bad parts say themselves. Then, looking him up and down, Holden adds, "You're looking to catch a chill out here." The air bites, just the same as any scared dog, and now that the sun's gone its teeth are sharper.

Holden tucks his hands in his pockets, hunching his shoulders against the chill coursing down his spine. Jack might have the right of it this time—keep their nose to themselves and go on home. October's the time for spooks and ghouls, not nice young men wandering the countryside. All the same... Holden's always had a heart for strays.

"Picked her up as a pup, couple years back. Dead of winter. Her ma didn't take to her so well. Ain't that right, Jack?" He reaches down to ruffle her ears. "She keeps close to me now."

He lets the quiet settle for a moment, mulling over the empty B&B back home.

"Where you from?"
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Oct 5 2016, 10:32 PM
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One at a time the fingers curl in and Ezra withdraws his hand to clutch at his book like some sort of safety blanket, touching at it will somehow keep him safe from harm. Or perhaps it is the book that needs protecting. He's been snapped at before, by dog and man alike, it has branded him wary but maybe not as timid as he should be. A dreamer is more apt to see the world as they imagine it than as it actually is.

“Jack.” Comes the echo, though he is smart enough to keep his hands to himself at this point. There is no response for the comment on the size of his pack, only a quirk of a smile and the cock of his head. How ever would he carry anything worthwhile in a small pack? “I have a blanket.” He offers, his words riding on a foggy plume in the evening air. Ezra is no beggar, and he has no desire to be indebted.

The stranger's dog is a pretty thing, and Ezra studies her quietly. He's never had a pet before. That is what he's musing on when the man mentions the canine's ma. It's enough to see his lips pursing, an unasked question on the tip of his tongue. Why not? Is it even an appropriate thing to ask? It is just that he is a terribly curious creature himself. “Neither did mine.” Some things should be kept to himself, even if they are admitted so softly as to barely be heard.

It's okay though, because the conversation is moving on.

“A ways.” The smile is refreshed, cheeky and genial. There is an accent that touches on his words every so often that suggests that 'a ways' is quite a ways indeed.

“Do you know how to get to Holloway Ridge?” He asks, dark eyes intensely bright. It's a trek up there, a fool's errand at this time of night, that portion of the mountain already dusted in snow. Not much can deter Ezra once his mind is set to something though, practically living in a reality completely removed from this one.
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Lar
 Posted: Oct 6 2016, 12:50 PM
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Holden studies Ezra then—in particular, his pack where his blanket must be kept, and the book clutched firmly against his chest. If Holden has questions, they go unasked, his face a careful mask of smiling congeniality. Even Ezra's comment about his mother doesn't draw a look of pity, or sadness, or anything other than kindly interest—if Holden even heard it at all.

"Holloway Ridge?" he asks, and his hand abruptly stops scratching Jack's ears. Her eyes follow Ezra's, equally dark and equally bright. "Helluva way to go. Walking, it'll take you maybe two days if you follow the road." Longer without the road, Holden reckons, unless there's some rock climbing equipment in that pack. "Helluva time to go—probably the snow's fresh up there right now."

Holden's eyes have narrowed slightly now. Maybe he's squinting against the darkness; maybe he's starting to bristle now too. Leave it to Jack to know people straight away.

"What's got you headed up there?" This time he is very careful with his words, very careful to put his smile back on when he's done, very careful to go back to petting his dog. "Not much to see this time of year, the views aren't so great. Jack and I go up there in the summer sometimes, but now?" He shakes his head gently. "Whatever blanket you got in that pack, it's probably not enough."

Holden knows that intensity, though, knows it won't be so easy to talk the poor kid out of getting frostbite up there. Hell, that was him in his younger days, before the B&B needed tending. Some days now he's still too stubborn. Jack reminds him of it constantly, insofar as she can.

As if remembering his purpose, Holden brightens, the twinkle returning to his eye.

"Don't suppose you'd want a pumpkin for the road?"
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Oct 7 2016, 11:21 AM
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Truth be told, Ezra isn't the most proficient at reading others, which is partially why he now stares so openly at Holden, struggling to grasp at any nuanced shift in expression that he can. For a few still moments, he seems to forget that he can speak, finally uttering a breathy little “Oh.” and blinking his eyes away.

It's taken him so long to get here that the journey has lumped itself into one mass in his mind. Yes— right. It's cold. He's cold. The oversized sweater looks warmer than it is, drooping off of his frame and leaving room enough for the wicked touch of crisp fall air. As if to prove a point, a nippy gust of wind comes brushing through, picking up a few stray leaves and sending a shiver tingling right up his spine. Though it is maybe not the wind alone that pulls a shiver from him.

Ezra takes a half step back.

It's a shame that he isn't a very good liar, because when his purpose is suddenly questioned, he finds no words with which to respond. The moths distract him for a few beats, the buzzing hum of their bodies striking the glass of the streetlight is oddly soothing. “I'm looking for something.” Ezra finally admits. It's the truth, even if a vague one at best.

“It is a warm blanket.” He tries, a shoddy attempt to defend his lack of preparation, but a tight smile cracks over his face. He knows he's wrong. It wouldn't be too bad, he imagines, if his timing is right. A pack of matches would probably go a long way.

A brief musing on how it's possible that so much time has passed yields nothing, and Holden's question about a pumpkin pulls him from his cluttered headspace. Ezra seems to just now notice the sign. “Oh no,” Another smile is offered up, this one not nearly as forced. “I'm afraid I haven't any money. Thank you though.”
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