Dragoncrest Cliffs soldier, take your time
All Welcome  June 28, 2018, 10:37 AM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona
maybe @Ephraim? <3 all welcome otherwise!

It is hard to shake the echoes of situations past. Furi's depature has left a wound in his heart that cannot be filled -- it is not that he views Ephraim as a replacement, but, well, it is not hard to see how he could help ease some of that pain. The boy's return to health has pleased Étoille greatly, as does seeing him interact with heda's children (even knowing her name now, he does not think he can bring himself to think of her as anything other than 'heda'). 

He makes himself accessible to the boy but does not hover -- it's not his personality, and surely Ephraim would rather spend time with the other children than with his reticent guardian. Still, the thought that he might have missed Furi's struggles haunts him, and so he makes up his mind to be more attentive this time around. (And without a war looming, it's pretty easy, admittedly.) So he makes his way through Hougeda, seeking his young ward without urgency.
July 17, 2018, 02:09 PM
Ephraim
Approved Members

He was settling in well among the other pups in Hougeda, for the most part. Kiwi he still avoided when possible—her stern and far more mature demeanour made him nervous—but he felt good enough around Tux and Bat to come out of his shell a little. He hadn't spent any one-on-one time with his guardian's look-alike, but there would be time for that. All in all, his life in Hougeda was going splendidly, enough so that Ephraim no longer sobbed at night to think of his family.

He missed them, of course, and always would—minus the pale pup Caiaphas had picked up from somewhere—but their absence didn't hurt as badly. He thought of them with fondness rather than misery. He was on his own, laying on his belly and staring off into space with a memory of Raleska playing through his mind when Étoille came along, and it took him several seconds to register that he was staring at his foster parent rather than the grey-green of the cavern wall.

The masked man had given his name, Ephraim knew what it was and meant to use it, but it was automatic and immediate when he said, "hi, pa," before even realizing what had come out.
July 17, 2018, 07:20 PM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona

Étoille keeps an eye on the pups enough to note Ephraim's adjustment, and it pleases him. Maybe that's part of the difference between his new ward and his old -- Furi had been older, and though heda had a similarly aged batch of children they'd not been the same rowdy, full crowd as these. Either way he is glad. 

He spots the boy and makes his way over silently, unbothered when it takes him a second to be noticed. Ephraim's greeting does make him start -- a flicker of surprise and -- pleasure, maybe, in the mistake (?). Étoille did not ever imagine himself to be a father, and even now he does not think of it in those terms so much (Furi was not his daughter, Ephraim is not his son, but --). 

Unsure how to address it, he choses instead to let it go, offering the boy a brief smile and a "bonjour, Ephraim. How are you?"
July 28, 2018, 11:05 AM
Ephraim
Approved Members

Boy, he was setting himself up for a world of future confusion. The wolves of Drageda spoke a different language than the one Ephraim was born and briefly raised with, and he was struggling to pick up snatches of that. They were usually good about talking to him in a common tongue, and the pups seemed to speak it pretty regularly anyway, but sometimes he would listen to a conversation and have no idea what was actually being said. It didn't make him feel different, though. He was too young for such a distinction.

Étoille, too, spoke a different language. Ephraim couldn't tell the difference between the pack's Trigedasleng and his guardian's French, so he assumed wrongly that it was the same language. This set-up could only result in hilarity in the future, but for now, he smiled and attempted to repeat it back without knowing at all what it meant: "Bun sure." Terrible, truly awful, but he tried.

"Good!" he chirped in response, hopping to his feet and spending a moment greeting the man with a wagging tail and a butt of his head against the broad chest. He didn't know it, but he was growing very quickly indeed and was already larger than when Étoille had first found him. "Whatcha doin' today? 'Splorin'?"
July 29, 2018, 02:49 PM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona

Someone with more interest in social patterns might have found the way Étoille was accidentally merging French into the language of Drageda interesting -- between Wildfire and Thur's litter and Ephraim -- but Étoille is not that man. So instead he only offers a little smile at Ephraim's butchering of his greeting, finding it very cute, and glad to hear that he is doing well. His increase in size does not go unnoticed, bringing with it a set of complicated feelings (how quickly children grow). "Keeping watch," he says, indicating with a broad gesture Hougeda around them. 

"Would you like to explore?" Étoille asks, leaning down to affectionately bump his nose against his head. He does not know if the boy has gotten much of a chance to investigate Drageda and is happy to take the afternoon to walk around with him if that's what he desires.
July 29, 2018, 02:57 PM
Ephraim
Approved Members

His eyes followed Étoille's gesture around the cavern with an overly exaggerated swing of his muzzle around, and then he bobbed his head. "S'all good!" he reported, even though he wouldn't have had the slightest idea if it wasn't. He didn't mention that he had been daydreaming rather than properly keeping an eye on what was going on. No one expected him to, but he was watchful anyway, partly so he always knew what was going on and partly because he was a little too shy to engage some days. And who would ever admit to slacking on the job? Not Ephraim.

"Really, can we go?" he asked, whipping his gaze back around to Étoille's dark face. So far he had spent all of his time in Hougeda or just outside the entrance where the ferns and bushes grew thick. He hadn't been into the sequoias or seen the lake at the territory's center or stood atop the cliffs and looked down at the bear-haunted strand below. Ephraim thought the whole territory was the cave. "Ou'side?" he wondered.
July 30, 2018, 10:26 AM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona

Ephraim's status report is cute -- amusedly he says, "merci," thanking him genuinely for his offered observation. To answer his questions he says "oui, outside," taking a moment to stretch before beginning to walk towards Hougeda's exit. He pauses at the entrance, assuming Ephraim has followed him, and looks to the boy with a gentle smile. Ahead of them the redwood forest looms comfortingly, wrapped around the lake like a shawl. "Which way," he offers, allowing his young ward to lead their little expedition -- after all, the territory is safe, especially with his stalwart presence near.
August 01, 2018, 01:49 PM
Ephraim
Approved Members

"Mercy," Ephraim repeats, though once more he is ignorant of the meaning. "Whee!" For a pup of only one language, a lot of what Étoille said was made more enthusiastic by the inclusion of words that sounded deceptively like English ones. Étoille's confirmation that they were going outside sounded more like excitement to the coywolf's ears, and his tail began to flap side-to-side as he trailed his guardian out of Hougeda. If Étoille was excited, then so was Ephraim.

It was left up to him to decide which way. He blinked against the bright light of day and cast around for the most compelling sight he could find, but it all looked like forest to him. "That way?" he asked, flicking his nose in a random direction that would bring them down along the lake's southmost shore.
August 05, 2018, 10:08 PM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona

Ephraim's butchered French wins him another slow and easy smile, content as he watches that little tag set to wagging. It is nice, he decides, to take the boy on an excursion like this -- he'll have to do it more often, especially now that he is big enough to more or less explore unsupervised. Or with minimal supervision, at least. (He does not quite have a grasp on the timelines yet.)

"That way, then," Étoille agrees, picking his feet up and heading them in the direction his ward has picked. They trail the lake's shore, the Steltrona's pace slow enough to allow Ephraim to meander if he wants, letting him more or less decide what he wants to do or look at. "Do you like it here?" He asks, curious to assess how he is settling as they explore.
August 10, 2018, 10:25 AM
Ephraim
Approved Members

Étoille let him take the lead, and meander he did. Drageda's forest wasn't so different from the forest his family fled through when they ran from the bear—unbeknownst to Ephraim, they were one and the same—but he hadn't been old enough then to appreciate the towering trees, the thick-packed undergrowth and the heavy coating of moss facing out to the sea. Now he stopped to snuffle every fuzzy green surface, every fungus clinging to the ancient bark, and every fern protruding from every root bed, all the way down to the lake.

He scampered to the shore when the lap of water made his ears prick, and his eyes widened. "Is it th'ocean?" he wondered, although he was almost instantly certain that it wasn't. It didn't have the same sharp smell or the same white curls of foam. It shore wasn't rough sand and grass and driftwood. Instead, green algae grew at the edges and reeds hid the banks. Geese honked raucously from further out on the water. And if he looked hard, he could see where the shore curved on the other side; the lake had an ending. The ocean did not.

"Yeah, it's nice here," he answered, wagging his tail as he picked along the water's edge, unconsciously coating his toes in lake slime. "B'fore the big storm and b'fore I got lost and b'fore coming here my ma and pa took us to a place. There were two black wolveses there," he recalled, and then frowned. "They weren' nice. They said they didn' need us. Pa was mad." He thought for a beat, then amended, "pa was always mad, though." Shaking his head to dislodge a fly from around his ears, the pup fixed his brown-masked guardian in his champagne gaze and smiled. "But you're real nice. Nicer than pa, maybe nicer than ma too. Ma found a new kid anyway, didn' need us neither. You're diff'rent."

So, in short, as Ephraim turned his relaxed gaze up to the canopies, where a flock of finches tittered and bounced: "I like it here."
August 14, 2018, 08:28 PM
Étoille
Drageda
Steltrona

Easily he follows the path the boy makes, giving him space to plow ahead -- a little independence seems warranted at this point. His question makes him smile, making his voice soft as he corrects, "no -- it is a lake." The space here is open enough for Étoille to keep an eye on him without trailing close behind, and so he settles, leaning back on his haunches to idly observe the boy's movements.

Ephraim's story contains more details of his history, which the Steltrona has not pried in to. He is secretly pleased the boy feels comfortable enough to share this now, and even more pleased by the assessment -- and slightly guilty. Had he not done that, too, found a "new kid" to replace Furi? (Such things he keeps to himself -- Ephraim has no need of such emotional energy). Instead he says, "bon," smiling down at him. "I am glad you like it here," he says, choosing not to comment on Ephraim's parents. After a moment, though, he thinks to say, "I left my maman when I was young, and my brother too. I was not so young as you, yet." He rolls one large shoulder in a shrug. He has not seen his mother in many years, nor his brother, nor his father he never knew anyway -- perhaps in this way he and Ephraim are alike, except he was not taken in by a kindly stranger and it was his decision to leave. So not very similar at all. And yet.

And so their walk together passed in this gentle way, Étoille speaking with Ephraim of their histories and of Ephraim's thoughts, until it grew late and the boy is lead back to rest.