Compendium Entry North: Gobi Desert
Central: Saharan Desert
South: Subtropical Desert (Sonoran & Mojave Deserts)

Stretching as far as the eye can see, this unique desert boasts a diverse landscape: towards the south, cacti stand watch year round over sweeping lands that often see dangerously high temperatures and low precipitation. Moving towards the central section, dirt and clay become reddish sand, constantly shifting thanks to heavy wind. The northern side is a place of extremes, reaching dangerously low temperatures in winter and high in summer. Overall, the Desert provides very little shade, leading most creatures to operate on a nocturnal schedule to avoid the relentless sun.

an overwhelming surplus of diggity

Early Morning Sunny/Clear 43° F
He wasn't a total idiot — he thought about things, sometimes. Lately, thought about Shiloh, all night and all day, and when they were together and when they were apart, and his work suffered for being so lovesick but that was alright. No one here seemed to mind.

But Kevin had minded something about him — his jealous resource-guarding, Kincaid thought. This seemed like a perfectly natural and respectable thing to do to the wolf. Other males had chased him off from their women, their water, his unborn children. Moor had been jealous over him, corralling him when he would rather have roved. That was the right of a wolf; to take charge of his post and all property in view. But it was not, perhaps, the right of a coywolf. Not one who did so little to keep his place.

Kincaid had picked up his boarder-marking regime. He hunted, and mainly ended up stealing kills and dragging them home. He made sure Shiloh and Lucy always carried his scent, and he poked his nose into all the little hovels and dens hidden places where the other canids spent their time, just to be a busybody.

A few days later, he felt recovered enough from being rebuffed to seek out @Kevin, holding a small and precious something in his clumsy jaws. It was going to be a little soggy, but hopefully the desert sun would quickly clear that up.

He went around poking his nose into all the places that commonly smelled like the aging coyote, determined to find him and hand over his gift. This, surely, would show that he was capable of owning a great many coyotes and other sundry. And, most importantly, Kevin himself.

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Coyote Gang
 Slowly his tower of rabbits deteriorated. Folks plucked things as they needed to. Kevin spent hours chasing away the birds that had tried to descend upon it and pick off each little scrap. Eventually, he began to dig holes closer to the water and fill them with half-eaten foodstuffs, making sure to make them obvious enough that his canine residents would find them.
 The morning found him laying sprawled in the sunlight just beyond a rocky outcrop he had been using as shelter. His nights were lonely and cold, but he'd become accustomed to that over the last few months. He had hoped that by staying here, he might find family of a sort. So far he had peppered visits among the others, but there were no strong ties. Kevin had no ill will toward any of them, finding it pleasing enough to soak up the sun and hope that Kink didn't try to demand something more from him.
 Laying upside down like a cat, the sunlight felt good on his stomach. The air was quite chilly as usual — the sands had yet to warm up. He stretched and made a funny noise that sounded like someone straining to take a shit.
 When Kink found him, Kevin didn't bother to flop over. He couldn't even see where he was, but recognized him by scent and sound. “Morning honey,” he greeted, stretching out his front toes so that each toe had a funny gap. “Did you come to enjoy the spa?”

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As much as he liked the idea of being the boss of everyone, Kincaid didn't have much of a presence about him. Oh, he could, when he was riled good and proper, and needing to make a powerful impression, but it'd never come naturally to him. Usually when he approached, he slung his head low and his beetle-black eyes flashing, crinkled at the corners, and his tail-tip whipping just above his hocks. That was the best way to meet a wolf, he'd found, unless you were looking for a fight. And the best way to meet a coyote, unless you wanted them running away from you. The best way to meet a friend, because Kincaid liked being stood over and bullied, as long as he knew he'd be let up again if he really wanted to.

So today was no different; he came quietly to Kevin's side and poked his nose into one of his reaching paw-pads, as if it'd been extended just to greet him. After a quick where have you been? sort of snuffle, he turned his head to the side to drop the colorful iron cross beetle near Kevin's face.

"I came to give you this bug," he said, lowering himself to his belly and nudging the dead beetle a little closer with his nose. "It's pretty, right?"

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Coyote Gang
 Kevin withdrew his paw coyly as he felt Kink's wet nose on his toes. He threw his head to the side as though bashful, despite leaving his plump stomach fully exposed. It was easy to be trusting of his crew when he had no skin in the game. There was no reason for any of them to harm him or not want him to be there. He had already proven his worth by hunting for the others, as evidenced by the crumbling tower.
 Something dropped beside him, so Kevin at last rolled over to his side. The bug was large with a yellow and black back. There was a red flame at its head. Smiling, Kevin prodded the insect lightly with his nose to inspect it, even going so far as to poke his tongue out to see what it tasted like — not very good, as it turned out. He poked it again so that he could see what its underside looked like.
 “Very pretty,” Kevin finally agreed. “Thank you, love,” he grinned, shuffling to his belly, tail wagging, so that he could offer Kink a friendly little peck on the chin with his nose. “It'll help to spruce up my hovel,” he explained, gesturing vaguely to the hole in the ground beside the nearby rocky ledge. The state of it was sad and dark.

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It looked like his gift had appeased the older coyote; he was being called things like honey and love again, anyway, which was oddly pleasing to the wolf. He lifted his chin to give Kevin space, but he only booped it instead of curling up against his chest, like Shiloh might have. That was fine; Kincaid's tail still swept the sand behind him, and then he flopped over on his side and tipped his head back to study the hole upside-down.

He said, "You sleep in there?" in a slightly doubtful tone. It seemed like a very small hole, and he'd never done well in such closed-in spaces. He preferred his sage bush cluster, but understood that not all creatures might feel the same. "Aplomado keeps a bunch of plants in her cave. Maybe that would make it better," he suggested, and then popped up like a jack-in-the-box as an idea occurred to him. "I can help you. We can find all kinds of shit to stick in your hole."

Kincaid padded closer to stick his head inside, but the walls closed in all too quickly, and he was back out again in a jiffy. "Or we could kill something and put it in there. I like dead things. Or more beetles. Or cool rocks."

He'd never really had a permanent sort of place to think about before, if that wasn't clear.

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 Kevin couldn't help but admire the wolf while he was on his side. Those lovely, thick muscles. The way the fur and fluff on his neck was all of the colours. Kevin knew a little puppy crush was harmless, so he embraced it readily, eying the tender features (particularly the little slope in his neckline, oof) and musky scent of a man way out of his league.
 “Yup,” he admitted. He knew he was hardly an interior decorator. The thing that Kink was concerned about was, truly, a hole. Piles of sand had been pulled up. Wet sand in parts because of their proximity to the water hole was at the bottom, which made all of it pretty miserable. There were rocks at the bottom that mostly prevented moisture from seeping in too much, but the shithole that Kevin slept in was definitely the reason he smelled like mildew and wet dog constantly.
 “Plants?” He really was clueless. Did plants make things better?
 We can find all kinds of shit to stick in your hole.
 Yeah, plants would make things better. Kevin tried to hide the light in his eyes and the horny stupidity in his smile that followed, but he had never been very good at concealing anything. “Wow, you really are just peaches and cream aren't you?” Said Kevin, referring to the fact that Kink was willing to help him out just like that, no questions asked.
 “Dead things. Definitely. Hang on...” Kevin gingerly took the colourful beetle into his mouth, quite careful not to crush it. He wandered up toward the overhang itself and inspected the entry to the truly awful-looking hole. Scrunching his brow, he shook his head and instead moved to the rocky outcrop above it. He placed the beetle right at the center, like the world's smallest house number. “It's so cute,” he appraised. “All right! I'm in, help me find more dead things, mon compagnon!” Kevin hopped off of his spot to land in front of Kink. The movement hurt his wrists quite a bit, but he made no indication of it.

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Peaches and cream? He wasn't sure about that, but he was glad if Kevin thought so. He liked to be liked, and was, for the moment, tolerant of his physical form being admired. He might be felt differently if Kevin had been a bit less kind or a bit more threatening, but as it was, he seemed harmless enough.

Kincaid watched while Kevin set the beetle in its place of honor, seeing it less like a number on an apartment door than his mark on the coyote's dwelling place. There, he thought, terribly pleased with himself. Another coyote ensorcelled!

But, of course, his work did not end there. Kevin now needed to be taken care of, and Kincaid was there for it. "When I was little, my momma had a big set of antler her daddy passed down to her, and her daddy's daddy passed down to him. They ain't even have that sorta creature were I come up from. Took it from someplace else," he explained, tail waving jauntily as he took the lead. "And my girls — their momma got a big old bear skin rug in her den."

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Where had Shiloh been these past few days?

Not the oasis, that was for damn sure. He’d been around; he’d seen Kincaid a time or two. Had recovered from his bad trip, and tried to bestow upon his favorite wolf the corpse of a long-legged desert rat. He’d laid enough claim to this place by now he did not need to carry the shiny stick everywhere he ventured, which was well and good because the corners of his mouth were rubbed raw by it. (To make no mention of his poor tongue!)

In any case, he was at the oasis now, gazing on the diminished totem of death with his head cocked severely to one side, ruddy ears leaning. He’d smelled something good from a distance, lured here as though by the fragrance of a neighbor’s barbecue, but it was not what he was looking for. No, that would be Kincaid. It’d been a few days and the coyote had itches to scratch of varied types. At least one of these was of a wholesome nature; he needed a new coat of eau de Kincaid to feel at home in his own pelt once again.

He trotted around the perimeter of the strange little graveyard, forepaws occasionally popping off the ground as though his front half were not weighted by the same gravity as the rest of him. His nose and whiskers twitched as he sought out the trick — there had to be a nasty trick, didn’t there? he could smell this was some other coyote’s work, after all, and who made soup kitchens for the hell of it? — then popped around to find Kincaid here with another coyote. At said coyote’s hovel, his home.

It looked like they were setting off, in fact. Shiloh’s ears flattened against his skull, then sprang upright again. Downwind of the other two, he padded forward a few steps on the sand, then stood with his bushy tail wagging as they moved away from him. It fell still, and he inhaled deeply prior to a tremendous yip! to try and grab their attention. If it was enough to make them stop and turn, he was ready with a friendly tail wag and imploring look. He desperately needed to sniff this paunchy coyote.

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 Antlers? That sounded like it could be a really, really nice addition. As Kincaid expanded to include the bear rug and describe a little slice of his own experiences, Kevin couldn't help but feel somehow attached to him. There was something very quaint about this odd golden wolf with the funky accent. It was something easy to identify with, easy to love. Kevin tried to stop the smitten feeling, but he knew it was only a matter of time.
 Kevin launched himself alongside the much larger wolf, hoping to find one of the dead things they hunted, and ready to share one of his own stories about dead things. You know, a story more decorated and less sad than the other ones.
 But the Yip stopped him in his tracks, and he shuffled around.
 Kevin noticed two things immediately:
  1. The first was that the creature in front of him was beautiful. Kevin was smitten immediately.
  2. The second was the strange and shiny feature that seemed to be in the stranger's mouth.
Kevin narrowed his eyes to focus on it and stepped forward cautiously at first. It was obvious he wanted introductions, and Kevin was not one to discriminate on odd appendages or ailments; he didn't hesitate in bounding forward to dip his nose and meet the other by exchanging smells. His own tail was very relaxed. “Kevin, though some call me The Debonairess,” said the Debonairess calmly. “And who are you, other than a treat to the eyes?”

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Conversation halted when they were hailed from behind. Kincaid knew the voice at once, and his whole body seemed to come alive with something as he wheeled around to go and greet his wandering lover. He came to him lowly, at least until he realized he was not the only one eyeing up his handsome coyote boyfriend.

The urge to say, That's mine, came upon him once more, and he could not help a silent bristle of his mangy spine when Kevin beat him to Shiloh's side. But he behaved himself, for the most part, and came peacefully to loom over them, mouthing at Shiloh's scruff even as Kevin introduced himself, and then rubbed his cheek against the coyote's shoulder in a loving gesture that nearly sent the smaller creature sprawling.

"We were gonna go find something interesting to put in Kevin's hole. Dead animals, probably," he said when the introductions had been taken care of. His tone seemed to invite Shiloh to come along.

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His fellow coyotes were always the ones eyeballing his shiny stick; it was seldom wolves trying to take it away from him. Kincaid was a notable exception, but only once, and he had confessed to being a little bit ‘yote, himself. Point being, Shiloh noticed when Kevin slitted his eyes at his knife, but he came up most politely and it was more important to sniff him vigorously than to guard the stick. Besides, unlike with Cholla Burr Coyote and Kincaid, he didn’t straight up try to take it from Shiloh’s mouth.

The bar for proper coyote etiquette is not a high one.

Kincaid arrived on the scene looking a little prickly, but Shiloh only wagged more aggressively, dropped the knife and set his paw on it, then met his wolf with a quick lick at his teeth. Then the fat and fabulous fellow had his attention again, and his head tipped one way at ‘Kevin,’ then the other way at ‘Debonairess.’ He did not know what that meant; only that it was an impressive sounding title.

He started to speak before Kevin was through his sentence, but a treat to the eyes made his mouth shut with a little click of his scissory teeth. Oh. Oh, Kevin said pretty things. And Shiloh had smelled him before, actually — on Kincaid. It was one of those times when he’d stuck his nose into his fur and breathed deeply, and wondered but never asked. But it made sense, now: Kevin was one of Kincaid’s Coyotes, which in Shiloh’s estimation made him one of his coyotes, too.

He dipped his head, achieved a nearly shy mien, and said, "I’m Shiloh. It’s nice to finally meet you in the pelt."

Then he stumbled off his knife because Kincaid was rubbing his big head on his shoulder. He wanted to be sore that he’d only smelled Kevin on his wolf and hadn’t gotten to hear about him and his delightful paunch and expressively regal face, but the bite he delivered to Kincaid’s chest was all play and no spice.

His ears pricked forward when he learned what they were up to. Find something interesting? Well, maybe there were coyotes more adventurous than Shiloh. No wonder Kincaid was off galavanting with this older, wiser, wilder Debonairess. Dead animals, Kincaid added, and the rusty bridge of Shiloh’s muzzle wrinkled up.

Still! He looked up at Kincaid, then at Kevin, and his tail wagged gamely nonetheless. "Can I help?"

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 It became quickly obvious in the moments that followed that Kincaid and his smittee were involved in some way. For a moment, Kevin hoped that they were merely family of some form, although this seemed wildly unlikely given Kink's general wolven physique. Still. One could... hope? Although, since when had monogamy ever stopped him?
 Nice to finally meet him, huh? Somehow, this little treat had learned of Kevin's existence. He didn't care to know how, but he appreciated it all nonetheless. To be noticed even a little bit by such a lovely little otter was quite the compliment, at least in the mind of a Debonairess. Kevin didn't hesitate in rubbing parts of his body over Shiloh and mouthing openly — in coyote-land this was more a sign of acknowledgement and general camaraderie than it was ownership. Still, he was careful not to rub the wrong bits in the wrong way, lest he risk the furor. 
 Once that was all done, of course, Shiloh wanted to tag along. Kevin was overjoyed. “Well of course you can, little dove,” he answered sweetly, bounding forward. His motions were sprightly for aging joints. The youth of the young lovers gave him energy. “I believe I have depleted the stores of the painted dogs for now, so that is a no fly zone,” he mentioned, looking forward and thinking of what other dead things they might find.
 Thus far, they had: one colourful beetle.
 Kevin imagined a mountain of treasure.

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Kincaid presided over this introduction with his usual heavy-handedness, still standing over Shiloh and not-so-discreetly trying to overpower whatever Kevin left on him with his own scent. Kevin himself was not exempt from this possessive streak; Kincaid took the opportunity to get one of the older coyote's tall ears in his mouth, just to see if it squished the same as Shiloh's. And then, reaching over Shiloh, he combed his teeth through Kevin's pelt as if wondering what brand of flea he carried — meanwhile, his and Shiloh's fleas rejoiced and had a family reunion after a few long days apart.

Once his coyotes were properly marked, Kincaid seemed a lot more settled. The little party broke up and Shiloh was invited along — with a peppering of pet names that Kincaid wanted for himself, but was begrudgingly willing to lend to his nearest and dearest.

"Now that's a pelt I wouldn't mind spreading across the den floor," Kincaid said with no small amount of bite in his tone. He had not forgiven the painted dogs for what they had done to Lucy, and wasn't likely to forget. "But there's no point in stirring up trouble just the three of us, I reckon," he reluctantly agreed. "Maybe north a ways. If we get somethin' with horns, we could eat the rest and stick the head down there."

Was the hole big enough? Kincaid wasn't sure.

"We might need to widen the entrance," he allowed. "What do you want in there?" Even if they couldn't yet it today, it was something he could add to his list.

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Sorry for taking so long!

For a few blissful moments, Shiloh was laved in an overwhelming amount of attention. It tampered with his ability to dole proper bitey greetings back out, because he focused instead on staying up on his paws while looking blissfully dizzy — but they got through it. He and the Debonairess were properly introduced, then Kincaid wallowed on the both of them so that everybody’s general scent was just about the same. Shiloh dug into one flea party on his ribs with his hind claws, snatched up his shiny stick, and they set off.

Kevin confessed to braving the painted dogs for his animal graveyard, and Shiloh was impressed. And Kincaid wanted one of their pelts, which was morbid, but that kinda worked for him.

"There’s a vulture a ways ahead," he volunteered around the knife, eyeballing Kevin to gauge his interest. "It’s mostly picked clean, but there’s still feathers." Saying so made him cut a glance at Kincaid, but he couldn’t recall why. "And the head." It was just a skull, now, but he didn’t think to specify. "That should fit."

Not something he'd want in his hole, but Kevin seemed like the spicy type.

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No sorries! -bap-

 Kevin nodded to Kink's desire. The painted dogs were quite the nuisance. Since the coyotes were sitting on a highly sought after source of water, it was natural for certain animals to find their way to them. The dogs, however, were far more annoying than any of the others.
 “Love that idea!” Kevin exclaimed regarding the head shoved into his delightful hole. The... animal head.. that is. “And that!” Kevin added about the vulture. He bounced ahead of the pair, wiggling partly in excitement, and partly to hide the slight limp in one of his aching limbs. “I want as many goodies as we can fit. Bonus points if we find more shiny things,” he explained, rather invigorated by having two handsome boys to help him in this grand endeavour. “One day it will look like a great work of art — like my rabbits, only much more permanent.” The vision was only not beginning to take shape. Kevin moved his muzzle across in an arc, as though pointing to a rainbow in the sky.
 If this was a Disney musical he likely would have broken into song, dancing about in a parade of shirtless boys, with rhyming lyrics about shiny objects and innuendos referencing heads in holes.
 He moved north, bouncing and humming, as though the song had already been drilled into him.

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The vulture was where Shiloh had said it would be, and although small scavengers had picked apart the body, the wings were still largely intact. Kincaid picked up one of the stiff, dry appendages in his maw and resisted the urge to crunch down on it. Instead he only gave it a rough shake to "kill" it, and then dropped it again at Kevin's paws.

"You could put a wing up on either side of the beetle," he suggested, looking 'round for the other one and catching sight of the empty skull. He tilted his head first one way, and then the other, and decided that it was also a fitting addition to Kevin's subterranean home.

He snatched it up off the ground and held it high over the coyotes' heads, dancing a few paces away to try and incite a game of keep-away. Hopefully, his friskiness wouldn't damage the very item they'd come for.

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Shiloh was pretty sure he was seein’ the rainbow. He watched Kevin wiggle away, then looked up at Kincaid inquisitively. How could he hide such a person from him? It was alright; Shiloh forgave him. He liked to keep good things to himself, too.

The tubby coyote and his imaginary musical number led them to the dead vulture. Shiloh let the artists get to work, for his part making sure to flop down and roll in a smelly heap of feathers while Kincaid tore a wing free. Some of these feathers clung to his shaggy fur when he got up again and shook the sand out of his pelt. This inspired a few quick spins, but he couldn’t hold his knife and detach his new accessories.

So, they stayed.

When he saw what Kincaid had in his mouth, he dropped the knife altogether.

"That’s the skull," he said, as if the wolf didn’t know a bird skull when he saw one. But why was he holding it so high? Shiloh’s front paws popped off the ground while he sniffed vigorously, then he realized a beat later that a game was afoot. Rising again with greater purpose, he attempted to grab a mouthful of Kincaid’s cheek so he could tug his head downward and within reach.

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Sorry for the wait! I'm good to go now :O

 “Why thank you my good sir,” answered the Debonairess as Kink dropped the half-mummified, feathered corpse in front of him. He inspected the status of the wing, which looked in its rigor mortis state almost like paper mache. While Shiloh got busy decorating himself with the feathers of the dead, Kevin took to pulling off certain feathers that he didn't like for whatever reason or another.
 As Kevin took the end of the wing and picked it up off the ground, he immediately dropped it just as Shiloh dropped the shiny stick.
 Though the fat coyote was a spry thing for his age and weight, he was no contender for such a game. This did not stop him even remotely, for he launched himself toward the wolf. The skull was lovely, and held just out of the coyotes' reach. Kevin used his weight to shove Shiloh directly into Kink, mouthing at shapes that probably consisted of both the wolf's jaw and the coyote's nose.
 Reaching it seemed impossible, by God he would try. “It's it's perfect,” he whined, snapping at it.

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