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DotW: Hemlock

WARNING: Hemlock's story contains mentions of mutilation and slavery. Read at your own discretion.

1/17/19 :new: Hemlock has received new app art and a slight update- poor fella's starting to grey out on his face, paws, and saddle. (see his previous apps here: Hemlock 1, Hemlock 2)

Name: Hemlock
Age: Adult (approx. 8 yrs)
Gender: Male
Height: 35"
Weight: 101 lbs.
Build: Tall and lanky, a little underweight for his height, incapable of building heavy muscle. Most of his apparent bulk is actually fluff and there is often a slightly clammy or greasy quality to his pelt. Hemlock carries himself appropriately for a low-ranked wolf, head and tail low. He's a little androgynous, with narrow facial features and large, almond-shaped eyes. There's a notch on the leading edge of his right ear.

Territory: :new: Loner
Family: N/A
Rank: N/A

Personality: Servile | Shallow | Cowardly | Repressed | Social | Eloquent | Observant | Diligent

Hemlock's upbringing as a slave has had a dramatic effect upon his personality: shaped in some ways, stunted in others. His spirit was broken pretty early on. Obedience is the path of least resistance, and he's stayed out of trouble over the years by being a model servant with a flattering silver tongue. He's naturally inclined to be extroverted and gregarious, and under different circumstances he might have been very charismatic; as it is, maladjusted Hemlock makes a wonderful listener but not necessarily a good friend. He tends to be shallow, regarding others as objects or symbols rather than individuals. At best his relationships are professional and/or detached and at worst they are outright fake. He's not about to lay down his life for someone else. Loyalty, as Hemlock understands it, is something that can be bought, bartered, or sold to the highest bidder.

That's not to say that Hemlock is conniving or malicious. Above all he craves security, and he's not interested in rocking the boat. Every wolf has a place and every wolf in his place. He stubbornly insists that servitude just happens to be his- it's easier than considering the alternative. There is a certain fatalism to his outlook on life. With no ambition of his own, he seeks only to maintain what little status he already has. Hemlock has come to depend on the routine and direction that comes from following orders. He wouldn't really know what to do with himself otherwise, as his sense of self-worth is tied to the master he serves. For the most part Hemlock can be counted on to fulfil his duties without complaint. He's never one to lose his temper; at most he may become a little passive-aggressive. If he's not inclined to help others out of the goodness of his heart then neither does he go out of his way to cause harm. Hemlock is, in fact, a tremendous coward when it comes to any sort of conflict.

He can force his way through even unpleasant topics with the bland smile of an accomplished actor, but beneath the polite, eloquent demeanor is a petty and judgmental streak. Hemlock recognizes that all wolves have their faults and with so little social standing of his own, he is all too eager to savor them. Eavesdropping may become a bad habit for him as he thrives on gossip and loves to watch a good drama unfold. This hobby is largely harmless; blackmail doesn't interest him so much as cheap personal amusement, but it has the potential to get him into trouble. Hemlock also holds a distaste for crippled or otherwise 'defective' wolves that stems from his own real fear of being deemed useless and discarded in his old pack. Although this stance might be considered hypocritical of him by some, the fact remains that Hemlock judges wolves on their productivity, and has little tolerance for weakness or incompetence. Pity is a foreign concept to him. When it comes to misfortune he lives by the mantra 'better you than me'.

Hemlock likes to learn and is highly observant. He's very good at picking up on things that might otherwise go unnoticed, particularly when it comes to reading other wolves: a flick of the ear, a slight change in posture, or the smallest waver of vocal pitch. Even if his position as a servant does not always give him free rein to speak, using these cues to his advantage allows him to glean additional subtext from a conversation. He may seem more intuitive or empathetic in turn than he actually is. Although Hemlock is, for all intents and purposes, asexual, he may reciprocate flirting if it is advantageous to him- or if it is demanded of him. Short of risking life and limb he may not know when to say 'no'. Hemlock is susceptible to both flattery and coercion, and for all that he enjoys socializing, his actual social awareness is tarnished by the toxic conditioning of his youth.

As a rule Hemlock is not one to dwell on the past. There are a lot of things in it he'd just as soon forget. Learning to cope as a slave depended on distancing himself from the pain of others, and these days he considers himself  'successful' where less capable wolves failed and suffered for it. Seeing no point in reminiscing on the horrors of Blackfang, he makes every effort to dissociate from them completely. He'd rather not have his way of thinking challenged; to suggest that life could or should have been kinder to Hemlock may dredge up more repressed emotion than he knows what to do with. They say that still waters run deep. In Hemlock's case, the deepest waters are pitch-black and full of grotesque, misshapen things with too many teeth. He will rattle off his resume if prompted but prefers to leave it at that. Ask him how he actually feels about the whole thing and he will likely become evasive.

Overall, Hemlock strives to be an upstanding member of his pack, even if he is ultimately motivated by self-preservation rather than loyalty or pride. There is nothing he dreads more than the idea of being cast out to fend for himself and he'll do whatever it takes to stay in his alpha's good graces. To that end he is diligent and civil towards every wolf he meets, if not always entirely honest about his true feelings. He wants to be well-regarded by all and live out the remainder of his life in whatever comfort and security he can manage.
Pre-Group History: Hemlock was born to a pair of lone wolves living far west of the Domain, though he remembers little of his birth parents or younger sister. The young pups were scarcely weaned when a large, militant pack called Blackfang swept through the land. As the loners resisted, they were slain and their children confiscated. Separated from his sibling, castrated and earmarked for slavery at an early age, Hemlock would grow up never knowing a real family or a life beyond serving others.
The first few years were rough as Hemlock was passed from master to master. Some were decidedly less gentle than others, and the young wolf learned very quickly that there was little hope in fighting back or trying to run away. He had a clever mind and a quick tongue, though, and where other thralls faltered or failed Hemlock learned to talk his way out of trouble- even if it meant simply redirecting his master's fury onto someone else.
Over time he became known as a trustworthy, faithful, desirable servant, and when Hemlock was about five years old he was assigned to a high-ranking family. For once he enjoyed a position of relative comfort and familiarity. Assigned to escort his masters on their rounds and deliver the occasional message, Hemlock was mostly an ornament to them. Those early days of physical drudgery slipped from his mind. He was a servant, yes, but a superior one! The old family matriarch even found it amusing to flirt with him from time to time. Under her protection, Hemlock lived as well as a bound wolf could.
But, masters come and go. By the time the old matriarch died Hemlock was seven, no longer in prime condition himself, and had overstayed his welcome in some of the family's eyes. When Blackfang's alpha expressed an interest in forging an alliance with distant Highvalley, his masters took the opportunity to pawn him off as a 'gift' to the Wolvenking. The alliance ended up falling through- something about 'vile slave-keeping butchering barbarians'- but now Hemlock finds himself serving among the Lowbloods of Highvalley, with a whole new social maze to navigate.

Random Trivia:
-Hemlock is neutered. Others may notice that he sounds or even smells a little different from an average male wolf. (If it's in-character for your wolf to mock him for it, go ahead- you will hurt neither his feelings nor mine.)
-He loathes water with a near-feline intensity and won't swim or go out in the rain unless it is ordered of him.
-Hemlock doesn't like to eat in front of others, because he has never been able to shake the ingrained habit of bolting down his food as fast as physically possible- as a young slave, he never knew when his meal might be taken away.
-His MBTI type is ESTJ, probably
-Although he's not really 'villainous' I would tentatively peg his alignment as Lawful Evil.
-His Hogwarts house would be Slytherin.

Group History: (This comes through RP! Keep a log of your interactions, drawings, points, etc here).
ART=illustration; RP=roleplay; LIT=story; MSE=monthly special event; PMSE= past monthly special event; MISC= spam and non-canon

July 2017:
+2 for joining
+1 [ART] Sky So Blue:
    Hemlock experiences Highvallian summer.
-3 rank up to Delta Steward
+1 [RP] At Your Service:
    Hemlock resumes the only role he knows.
+3 [MSE] Intro Meme:
    An introduction to Hemlock.

August 2017:
+1 [RP] A Little Company:
    Hemlock makes the acquaintance of Nightingale.
+2 [MSE] Beat the Heat:
    Hemlock and Alyan keep cool.

September 2017:
+2 [MSE] NOW That's What I Call Hemlock:
    Hemlock's personal playlist.
+1 [PMSE] Parent Pairing Meme: Highvalley Edition
    Five hypothetical Hemlock pups who will never, ever exist.
+1 [ART] Dawn Patrol:
    Hemlock and Alyan take an early morning walk.

October 2017:
+1 [RP] The Meister's Tale:
    Hemlock seeks a Meister's advice.
+1 [RP] Out and About:
    Hemlock attempts to understand his master.
+2 [MSE] Unicorn Hemlock:
    Hemlock reimagined as a mythical creature. It's also a pun.

November 2017:
+2 [MSE] In the Hall of the Mountain King:
    Hemlock is grateful for the Wolvenking's shelter.

December 2017:
+1 [LIT] Shorter Days, Longer Nights:
    <i>Hemlock observes the changing seasons.
+2 [MSE] Solstice Shindig:
    Hemlock attends a fancy party.

January 2018:
+2 [MSE] Better You Than Me:
    Hemlock throws a slave to the wolves.
+1 [RP] What I'm Here For:
    Hemlock's service is put to the test.
-7 rank up to Gamma Steward
-10 to bring in new character (Phaeton)

February 2018:
+1 [RP] Sunshine and Salt:
    Hemlock gets the runaround from Firth.

March 2018:
+2 [MSE] Ade's Watch:
    Hemlock greets spring on the eastern border.

April 2018:
+2 [MSE] Hemlock of Highquacky:
    A duck who unfortunately hates water.
+1 [RP] Message Received:
    Amara brings Hemlock up to speed on current events.

May 2018:
+2 [MSE] Wetnurse:
    The closest thing Hemlock had to a mother figure growing up.

June 2018:
+1 [ART] Muddle Through:
    Hemlock searches for packmates taken by the flood.

July 2018:
+1 [LIT] In the Water's Wake:
    Search and rescue takes a toll on Hemlock.
+2 [MSE] Hemloaf:
    In a surprising twist he hates water less than regular Hemlock.

August 2018:
+3 [MSE] Hemlock Model Sheet:
    An assortment of Hemlock studies and expressions.

September 2018:
+1 [LIT] Fever Dreams:
    Hemlock's health takes a turn for the worse.
+1 for completing CotS nomination form
+2 [MSE] Hunker Down:
    Hemlock lies in his shared den.

October 2018:
+2 [PMSE] Sparkle Hemlock:
    Insert your own tragic edgy backstory here.

December 2018:
+2 [MSE] Mistletoe Meme:
    What else to do but ship these two jerks with each other.

January 2019:
(+1) [RP] Changes on the Wind:
    Vladimir addresses the pack, and Hemlock listens.

February 2019:
+2 [MSE] Love is in the Air:
    im sterile
+1 [ART] It Is What It Is:
    Hemlock feels his age.

March 2019:
+1 [RP] Fevers and Mirrors:
    Alyan tends to his ailing Steward.
+1 [ART] Left Behind:
    Hemlock is separated from the departing Highbloods.

April 2019:
-10 to bring in new character (Eris)
+1 [ART] Unpromised Land:
    Loner life is not treating Hemlock very well.
+2 [MSE] Hemlock Caricature:
    a drowned rat

May 2019:
+2 [MSE] Hemlock Moodboard + Interview:
    They call me Hemlock, sir.

July 2019:
+1 [ART] The Stranger:
    Hemlock encounters a young wolf.
+1 [LIT] The Dilemma, Part 1:
    An old wolf seeks to save himself.

October 2019:
+1 [LIT] The Dilemma, Part 2:
    Phaeton and Hemlock reach a tenuous agreement.
-2 loner penalty

December 2019:
-10 to bring in new character (Viola)

January 2020:
+2 [MSE] Tarot Meme: The Moon:
    Emotional repression, check. Subconscious fears, check.

Current Total: 22 bones

Hemlock Drawn by Others:
by FrostedCanid
by Koeyohte
by Tazihound
by toboe5tails
by ZackLoup


Character Availability: Hemlock is CLOSED for RPs and interactions.

Contact Availability: I prefer Google Docs, but notes are also fine. I am on Mountain time (AZ) and am online pretty much every afternoon/evening!

Current RPs (in chronological order):
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Celtic-Barbarian's avatar
I would love for Ori to meet him now that he is a loner! :>