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[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Nathan's head tipped a bit. Only a month ago, interesting. Very new to the community, and oddly in line with these attacks. He could feel his thoughts spinning into darkened, suspicious corners as he politely averted his eyes from the lady so as not to let on about his suspicions. But his eyes flickered back to the lady when she mentioned her blood-averted husband. Nathan knew how he managed his own inclinations, and it translated as a blood aversion...
He came nearer, keeping his hands folded behind himself, the picture of quaint curiosity, and hummed absently to acknowledge that the woman was speaking, his eyes moving over the spot. It wasn't as if it were a crater, but Nathan could smell the blood in the air here. His gaze moved over the area, and saw the bits, saw a tear of clothing caught on a tree shoot.
He straightened, giving her his attention when she introduced herself. "[#00CCFF I am Dr. Nathaniel Crane, it- is a pleasure.]" he found himself hesitating on the pleasantry, but said it anyways. He, too, was new to the area, though a might more seasoned than Mrs. McConnell and her husband.
"[#00CCFF Did you say you lived near here, Mrs. McConnell?]"
[font "Georgia" [size14
[tab ] [b [+seagreen "Well,"]] Scar started, thinking over the past few months since they had moved into this town. [b [+seagreen "We only moved here hardly a month ago. But it seems to be they've happened a couple of times over two weeks."]] She explained, thinking back on it.
[tab ] [b [+seagreen "It's been a handful of my chickens, and the neighbor's sheep are the ones that I've seen. Jayder nearly fainted when he saw that, I'm quite glad that he's still in town. He's never been fond of blood."]] Her teeth bit into the side of her cheek a bit as she stood thinking, trying to remember anything even vaugely helpful. [b [+seagreen "Reminded me a bit of when one of dad's dogs went a bit off and got a hold of one of the geese visiting the pond. Lots of blood, no purpose to it..."]]
[tab ] Scar shifted herself a bit, looking to her branch and trying to let it sit at her side in a less-- intimidating? Sort of manner. [b [+seagreen "How rude of me. I haven't even introduced myself. Scarletta McConnell."]] She introduced, nodding her head to the stranger.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Nathan's eyes didn't leave her, flickering over to take in her body language. He could taste her pulse in his mouth, swallowing it. Nervous, yes, but had the distinct lack of panic in it. She wasn't thrumming with terror, perhaps considering that she was willing to use that branch in her hands. She hadn't relinquished what he was assuming was an improvised weapon, so she was ready to fight him.
He inclined his head towards her, "[#00CCFF Naturally,]" was the response. Nathan had a strong feeling she was playing amateur sleuth, cosnidering she had been at the edge of the scene, barred only by the constable's arms keeping her and hers away from the body.
The doctor took her removal of attention from him as an invitation to step away from his improvised safe distance, by the tree. Considering she released her branch to gesture around, she wasn't about to strike at him with it. His eyes moved back to what had drawn his attention in the first place; the pale, long, deep scratches of something that had climbed the tree. There was something about the wideness of the toes that was prickling at the back of his mind. Large. Too large for any of the wild cat species local to this area, and too articulate for a canid. Rather, a naturally occurring canid, or feline.
"[#00CCFF What was the frequency of the attacks* on your animals?]" Nathan enquired, glancing over to her. He had put his coat back on to follow the trail, not knowing how long or how far it would lead him. And so the man stood; tall, angular, and all in black before her. A lock of hair fell over his ear, escaped from the low ribbon at the back of his head, pale face framed by high, bound collar, and raven hair.
He stepped closer, arms folded behind himself.
[size10 *it's been a couple times per two weeks, the attacks, within these past month or so]
[font "Georgia" [size14
[tab ] Scarletta's eyes widened as she saw the strange man that had been at the place the body had been found, and let her branch drop partially, though still keeping a good hold of it. He was much different than the others around the town that she had met so far, quieter and a bit out of the ordinary in demeanor. He did not speak, but rather took in the scene that she was standing in front of in an almost appraising manner.
[tab ] Which did make sense, really, given that the man seemed to be working with the police. When his eyes eventually came back to meet her she could see the very question they were asking without uttering a word. [i Aren't you not supposed to be here?]
[tab ] It seemed, more often than not, that Scar had a particularly bad habit of showing up places where she wasn't wanted, though this particular scenario was much a first for her. [b [+seagreen "I was walking back towards my home, as I live not far from here."]] She said answering the question. She turned and glanced around at the scene before her. [b [+seagreen "It must be where it happened. Its the very same that's happened with a handful of our chickens and our neighbors sheep. Though they were not moved."]]
[tab ] [b [+seagreen "Now I know animals get big. I've heard tales of moose and seen pigs raised for slaughter. But what type of animal does this--"]] Scar pointed at the marks along the trees-- [b [+seagreen "I have never heard tell of."]]
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Nathaniel kept moving, trying to move with the forest as best he could while keeping a vague direction in mind, an objective. If you tried to move in a straight line in a forest, it got hard. You started fighting the forest itself, as if every branch and rock and root were deliberately moved into your path. But, if you let it move you, instead, and took a wending trajectory, things were easier.
And he needn't move exactly with just his eyes, as the scent of blood kept him in direction. And as it thickened, he knew he was going the proper direction. The next part of the investigation was going to have to see what was scavengers, and what was potentially something else. The idea that it was something else was because he had seen the size of the bite on the throat. It was larger than any predator around these areas. Bears were but myth about these parts, and big cats didn't get anywhere near that size, nor wolves. So, that led him to believe in something else in these parts. But he had to be certain.
And as he came closer he recognized the shape of a person, hesitating initially. He stopped cold as he came around the tree trunk and saw a woman wielding a tree limb at him.
The man's head cocked to the side as he regarded her, hair falling over his shoulder, blinking slowly. He had seen her when he had come to the scene and she had been dismissed. Wariness held his body still as he gazed at her standing over what looked like an impact spot. There were branches broken and leaves disturbed from the area all along the basin of the area the woman stood in. His eyes glanced just behind her, seeing long, naked streaks across the tree's trunk. It wasn't their length that caught his eye, it was their contrast against the dark bark.
His eyes moved up, Nathan having not moved from his position, hands still steadied against the tree trunk he was standing beside. And, above the impact area, there were longer marks along the large limb above her. Startling blue eyes turned back to her, against a pale face. He stood up from the tree and came to the edge of the area, glancing around at the varying gobbets of flesh. His eyes were interested, focused with a certain intensity on the pieces and ribbons that were left here.
He hummed, returning his gaze to Scarlett. His gaze asked if she hadn't been asked to go home just earlier? But they slid away from her again, down, away.
[font "Georgia" [size14
[tab ] Scar continued on her walk through the woods, keeping a fresh eye for any amount of deep browned red among the foliage and the path. [i Maybe this is foolish, even for me. What do I even expect to do upon finding something, any how?] She sucked her lips against her teeth, grimacing deep in her own thoughts and preparing to veer back towards her own property when she caught sight of that splash of red she was looking for.
[tab ] As her eyes followed the dark spill of red off the slightly more traversed area, she took in a breath and set down her basket off to one side before heading forward. She found a large branch that had fallen to the ground and picked it up instinctively, on the off chance she would need a weapon. With each step forward the tang of metal filled her nose, until she found the remnants of the... incident. Beneath a tree and mingled with the fallen leaves of the previous season was the blood, the innards of the man-- honestly, that more than anything she could've seen from the body told her of the horror of the attack-- and reminded her even more of how the chicken she had found had looked that way-- why would something have take the insides and left the shell.
[tab ] An animal wouldn't leave behind its meal, unless perhaps it were rabid. But no man would do this in this fashion....
[tab ] Scar remained solemn as she looked over the different... leftovers... trying to determine anything that could possibly give a reason-- a clue. Was everything there? She wasn't certain what all went inside of a person, there were heart, lungs, and stomach, yes, but she wasn't a surgeon. What was in chickens? Surely they were moderately similar, right?
[tab ] The crack of a branch from behind her caused her instincts to jump into action as she turned, wielding her own branch and prepared to strike if necessary.
[font "Times" [size15 Nathaniel's eyes moved over the scene as he returned to it. It was clean. That was the scary part. Even blood soaked into the earth collected in a pasty stain on fallen leaves and undergrowth and made it dark. Here, there was nothing. That meant the body had been moved. Blood had pooled inside the body cavity, alongside other fluids. The warmth of the day had done nothing for the aroma of the body, either. What he saw as the small intestine was leaking something dark into mingle with what blood was left in the body cavity.
The physician exhaled softly and looked at the neck. Bent at an angle that was all wrong and throat gone. Missing. Bone gleamed in the sun filtering down to the floor. But it wasn't torn. The bite was deep, gruesome. But careful. He leaned closer. It looked very purposeful. Perhaps to silence the victim? Was that why the body was moved?
Blood. Nathan swallowed, eyes raising towards the forest again as the smell washed over him again. Trees. Green. Life. Blood. Refreshing.
He stopped, blinking. There was a smear on the bark of a tree. There. He stood, coming over to it.
"[i Doctor Crane, tell me something,]" the constable said, following him.
Nathan glanced back at him, pulled from his thoughts. Good. He needed to focus. He looked back at the tree, "[#00CCFF The body was moved.]"
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] And as such was evident to Scarletta as she finally found her mark. Rather literally, there was a big disturbance in the fallen leaves of the previous season, piled in the hollow as they were. And that dark stain was smeared across them. From underneath a rather sizable tree, there were scratches on one of the limbs above, and blood spattered across the dark bark. The litter underneath.
The doctor kept moving, leaving the constable behind, who watched over the body, reluctant to leave him. He glanced back only briefly to judge the distance between where the body lay and where he stood now, next to the first evidence, for a moment. Their brief eye contact spoke of his investigation. He would be back.
[font "Georgia" [size14
[tab ] A man dressed all in black arrived to the scene, getting a much kinder response to his questions, although causing a bit of a murmur from the crowd due to his appearance- though that didn't keep them from remaining fixated on the remains of the unfortunate young man.
[tab ] Frustrated with the absolutely infuriating ignoring of her question, and the insistence by the lawman at the scene telling them to go home, Scar shifted her basket with her sandwiches from one arm to another, the other ladies she had been with having long gone, tittering away like a flock of chickens and gossiping all the while. She decided that she [i would] go home, yes, and away as well. But they had never specified which way she had to go home or even the pace to set, so she took a few glances at the surrounding area, trying to see anything that could possibly pose a useful clue as to why this had happened.
[tab ] She wasn't completely certain what to look for in the outer area, but the signs of some blood coming out of the forest drew her eye towards it, and with a last fleeting glance at the body and a glare shot at the local constabulary with dark blue eyes, she went off in a flick of dark red hair, following and looking for any sort of tracks or footsteps or blood-- anything to give a piece of the puzzle. If this were wolves-- surely it wasn't but even so-- they wouldn't be active during the day.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 The new doctor arrived. At the scene of the crime, he finally made it out, stepping funny into a hole as he hopped down from the trap he was driven out in by another townsman. Catching himself on the side of the vehicle, he righted himself and finished dipping his arm back into the vehicle and grabbed his bag.
Long, black coat swished, tangling around one leg briefly, behind him with a dismissive motion as he strode over to the gathering of people, murmuring 'excuse me's and pardons as he parted them and nodded to the men who had stationed themselves to keep people back. The deputy and some volunteers.
Long, black hair and pale eyes glanced with submissive anxiety down and away from them as he passed them, bringing his bag before himself and kneeling down next to the individual. He swallowed softly, feeling his stomach twist tight at the sight, the smell of so much blood, so much carnage, just meat made of the individual in front of him. He was repulsed. He was repulsed more by himself, and his response, but he swallowed both and opened the bag.
Half of his anxiety was because he was called in the midst of a funeral in town at the necropolis and was dressed in his funerary black. A bit grim for those onlookers, he was sure, and not a brilliant impression, but time was of the essence. Frankly other than the need for laundering, the black allowed him to work unhindered with blood.
Nathan stopped when he caught sight of the body, throat bobbing. A sudden surge overtook him at the sight. Something rolled over in him. Torn. Shredded, the body cavity emptied, [i emptied]. He pulled his eyes away. To the policeman. They shared a look, Nathan's eyes unfocusing for a moment before he blinked, pressed his lids together just for a moment, and returned them to the body. The carcass.
Setting his bag down, he shed his fine overcoat, handing it to the lawman beside him asking what he could do to help, and rolling his sleeves up.
"[#00CCFF Get them out of here,]" he responded. "[#00CCFF Now.]" The physician's voice was soft, but commandant. This had to hurt, this had to have been. Just. Awful. He swallowed as he recognized his mouth watering. Yes. He swallowed that, feeling the welling of repulsed and anxious nausea begin to affect him.
There was a question from the crowd behind them, Nathaniel exhaling. This wasn't the time, this wasn't proper, there were people who hadn't ever seen this much violence before, this much- meat. Nathan swallowed again, throat trembling. He tried to focus. It wasn't exactly the blessing he would have wanted it to be that he hadn't eaten yet today. His last meal should have held him longer...
"[#00CCFF Is there anything you can do about the crowd?]" he whispered, glancing up at the lawman, trying not to make a show of it. "[#00CCFF Please, this isn't suitable. Please.]"
"[i Alright folks, go home. This isn't the place. Please, give him peace.]" the man said, turning towards the crowd and gesturing to gently shoo them.
Nathaniel turned partially back towards the gathering of people, startling blue eyes peering from an angular face, taking the chance to avoid looking at the body for a moment. It centered him. But didn't help. He was looking at more alive bodies around him. Just thinking about how much blood was everywhere. Reminded again how much.
He watched as the volunteers attempted to get the crowd to back off. Attempted, at least. There were hungry eyes in that crowd. For answers, he could see, for the gossip. This was huge news. The doctor's throat bobbed again, turning to the constable.
"[#00CCFF When was the body found?]"
"[i This morning, by the man whose pasture this is.]"
[size14 [font "Georgia"
[tab ] Scarletta McConnell had never thought that she would have reached this particular event in her life-time, and yet, there she was, standing before a small crowd of people and peering through with curiosity shining brightly, at a dead man. Or, in the very least, a [i nearly] dead one at that. The other men of the town who had come, mostly farmers, told her and the other women she had been walking with to [i stay back, go home- this isn't something you should see] which, naturally made her even more curious to push forward as the others did as instructed. They had already given up on trying to coerce the red-haired woman into acting proper and normal, as they were raised to do.
[tab ] But this is very much bringing you in at the middle. To get a better idea of the ways this had come about, one would have to take a look at the things Scar had experienced in the time before this as well…
[tab ] [b "Well, I do think that's everything caught up with us."] Jayder called from across the yard of their new home. Scar moved one last crate onto the table and went out to see what was left to move inside out of the weather, helping him move in the last few of their shared things they had gathered in their time together. They had married in the early summer and had decided to move to this small town when the knowledge that there was no bakery, restaurant, or tavern being run there, and that with a bit of time they would more than likely be able to thrive here.
[tab ] The land surrounding was quite beautiful, full of trees and fields. The town had been settled slightly into the edge of a forest, some plots of land even having the nice, shading trees surrounding all sides, with paths and creeks and rivers dotted around. Something about the serenity of the land had drawn people there, especially those of a younger generation much like herself and her husband, although the other people around the town did tend to lean in a more old-fashioned direction of things. She had already been asked, when stopping by the general store in town to pick up some basic supplies, why she had married a man so young, and when she was planning on starting a family.
[tab ] She was used to these intrusive questions or "gossip"- more traditionally she would have married younger, to an older man, and likely have children. Jayder wasn't the traditionally masculine man- and she wasn't the traditionally feminine woman. Her father had raised herself and her brother and two sisters mostly by himself since the death of their late mother when she had been about twelve or so years old, and had always told them very plainly; 'Find love where you can. Be it in friendship, in family, in romance, in yourself. Money, fame, looks, youth will all come and go, but love stays.' Who cared then, that Jayder was a man who prepared to cook and bake, more than to run a farm or build houses or run a bank. He certainly didn't care that she would much rather go on an adventure than sit at home and sew.
[tab ] Over the next few days they got settled into the house, trying to fall into a rhythm of things. Once the larger pieces of furniture were in and settled, Jayder had started going into town to start getting things sorted out for business, leaving Scar rather happily to her own devices, planning out their garden and deciding what sort of few animals they might raise-- fixing up a run down chicken coop for the few birds that the previous owner hadn't been able to take with them. There were a small handful of visitors coming with small gifts of things like canned fruit or jams and breads, sharing more gossip and warnings of wild animals in the forest going after small livestock.
[tab ] She expected to find one or two chickens gone-- but she hadn't expected to find one seemingly ripped apart. It was a horrible sight of blood and feathers she found one particularly early morning, and she did her best to get it cleaned up knowing that Jayder would become nauseated from all that blood.
[tab ] They had been visiting with the neighbors to the north when they found one of their sheep, killed in similar fashion to the chicken. Mrs. Jacoby explained that there had been several such livestock found that way, but quickly moved to the more 'interesting' topic of the local ladies' garden club which was having an outing the next afternoon going on a picnic near the lake and she'd been invited to join. Scar agreed, although knew very well that outside of her family she did not get along well with anyone who thought tea was more interesting than disappearing animals. She and her sisters had never been 'nice girls'.
[tab ] The outing had not been going well, even before stumbling upon the dead man. Scar did not own a hat, and accidentally brought the same sandwiches as Mrs. Harris which had, for some reason beyond her knowledge, insulted the woman when she found out they were not the exact same recipe.
[tab ] She couldn't take her eyes off the body, looking over the exact same pattern of wounds as on the chicken and the sheep.
[tab ] [b [+seagreen "Was he still breathing when you found him?"]] She asked aloud, getting a few annoyed and flustered glances in return.
[tab ] [i Excuse me for asking a simple question…]
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