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merrick shouted for his girl.
was this how a mother felt
the snows billowed. ice upon the surface of the drifts, as merrick surmounted them within the meadow and cast about desperately for the bloodbear's scent —
indra — to think she had felt such;
a sharp drag of horridly cold breath, his wild eye roving, roving
another howl, piercing the white-grey of more storms gathering, brewing overhead ursus
why had the bear spirit led her away
any part of ursus is to take and to
"no!" merrick gnashed his teeth at the falling snow, gathering himself at once on the edge of a maddened chuckle.
"not her. not her."
he lunged into the meadow again, forcing himself into the piled white, single eye fixed on a desperate eternity before him.
it intertwines with the consistent whine of frigid winds, mourning the perennial cycle in which it is forced to partake in the slaying of life in its own lands again and again. uncombated until right this very moment, its song of woe suddenly a hum in the background when faced with the harrowing call of the berserk king easthollow was unfortunate enough to call their neighbour. his melody, so avant-garde in its distress-- polaris would have felt pure relief had she only witnessed a call of shocking mourn but what made it quite so horrifying, was the question it dredged up; what kind of monster could summon a wail of such vigour and yet not allow sadness, fear, frustration the domineering hand? polaris knew, was well aware of what manic man commanded such rattling power and currently stalked the blustery meadow she herself had ventured into. 

the seconds that slither past before he comes into sight vanish way too fast and the dove is frozen, jaw clenched before the lumbering bear. that constriction of her chest, as if cruel jaws squeeze tight upon it and its filling with icy water and she's drowning but she won't move, can't move---

she knows well what it was, and it sickens her, this potent terror. as if she truly is the trembling deer catching sight of the leering predator that sought only to rob her of life. 

proud spiels of faux bravery and heroism, the desire to slay evil and carve the path for good-- they are snatched uselessly by mocking shadows- what child's play!! it is one thing to throw yourself at a wolf threatening your home, drunk on adrenaline and aware of the wolves that had your back.

out here, she was alone-- and she was terrified, a pathetic coward. no- a fool! a bird that sung songs of taking down bears, what could she ever do to the monster a few lengths away. a dry swallow is all she manages before legs buckle to allow her a crouch amongst pallid drifts. she is pale...she might blend in, but she's not invisible if he looks...she is lithe, quicker she should run and yet....a deer in the headlights, polaris can only stare as the sluggish cry of a chill touched mind falls on deaf ears.
Aventus didn't know what to think of Avicus' disappearance, and so he did not think about it much at all. His parents' worry was palpable. He wondered why he did not feel the same way. Something of the bond between them broke when Nyra flung him to the ground and Avicus' only remark was that he was not dead. He had mistaken it for an indication that she saw weakness in him and would exploit it, but then he had not seen her again, and pointedly avoided her when he left the medicine den.

Now he trailed Merrick from afar, watching as his sire unraveled in the meadow and called for his daughter. Aventus tilted his ears forward and drifted to the right, as if he meant to trace a large circle around Merrick's epicenter, but he was halted by the sight of a pale creature throwing itself to the ground. A sly turn of one silver eye toward Merrick. This one did not want to be found.

If the dragon had not seen, Aventus had, with the advantage of being closer. He stepped toward Polaris on light, practiced paws, and when he was only a few feet from her, he curled his lips into a ghastly grin and whispered, boo.
fickle merrick, fixed on the livelihood of ursus, on donovan, on the rook and the witch — he had not seen the strain and the break between his son and his daughter.
in his grief he did not see that he alone had stumbled here today, for his raven queen always lurked not far off.
for all his internal blindnesses, merrick was a hunter of wolves, a murderer of his own kind. and so when the familiar hot-blood reek of a stone circle denizen crept across the snowy field toward him, his attention was snapped at once in her direction.
avicus gone and easthollow at his gate. 
the pale woman more than recognizable, for he had grappled with her before. and now the duskhawk shadow of his son stark against the alabaster.
cyclops-stare narrowing and then merrick was flinging himself through the slush of a early snow, coyote-lithe; for her for ursus, this enemy's throat ripped into a wide glittering arc that would splash wapun in scarlet.
bear-king and bear-prince at last come for the fatal communion.
Writing Polaris out!

She started at the sound of Aventus' voice. A toothsome wolf's grin split his dark lips and lifted his glistening gums. He watched as she stepped away from him and ghosted after her, step for step, until Merrick exploded into motion in the near distance. Polaris was off like a shot then, with Aventus clapping his teeth together right on her heels as she fled.

He didn't need to know that she was an Easthollow wolf to chase her. He didn't need to know his family's fateful history with the wolves of Polaris' pack, although he was aware of some of it. All Aventus needed to spur him on was the form of her running ahead of him, away from him, like a meek little rabbit. His tongue slopped over his lips. They were slick. He rumbled in his throat and his chest, loosing a growl that morphed into a purling laugh as he stretched his legs to their limit and tried to catch her, no doubt with Merrick close at hand.
merrick was swift and had always been so, but his speed was magnified a thousandfold in the clean lines of his son —
a concept which still bittered his tongue with its foreign nature,
racing after the hapless easthollow craven.
merrick veered to keep pace at aventus' right; snapping teeth toward the bouncing end of the former fighter's plume, driving her out and out again, and at last, he hoped, into a puddle of blood cut from her own throat.
a trickle of maddened burbling laughter in his throat, trailing upon the wind for any and all to hear.
Yet somehow, despite two snapping and slavering dogs on her tail, Polaris slipped away from them. Aventus drew up with several gulped breaths, wondering at the magicks she must wield to evade them so neatly. He wondered if this was the reason Easthollow was so vexing a presence, despite being led by two toothless old wolves, although that information was known second-hand. He had never seen them himself.

Witch, he spat, lashing his tail and tossing his head. She would not be so lucky if she came out this way a second time. He sought his father with pale eyes framed in a petulant glower; what now?
aventus turned his eyes upon his father. merrick pondered them, how they glinted knife-cruel and hungry. much as his own. much as that of his raven mother. it occurred to the coywolf that he had seen similar eyes once before. but where averna bore the silvermist stare of those who wandered in another world, aventus had become linked steel chain, mithril before bearish teeth.
"if she comes back, we kill her. and to ensure she does not come back, we will fill this glen with blood. come," he ordered with a lash of his plume, "let us curse this place."
better for the hapless rabbit, stoat, marten, fox, to vacate now; merrick planned to make of the fox-place a killing floor, accompanied by the growing prince of ursus.
Merrick's decree earned a sharp nod from his son. Yes. He would need to spend more time patrolling this area to ensure he caught her when she came back. To Aventus, it was only a matter of time. Easthollow wolves always turned up where they didn't belong, and he would be waiting for her, his jaws a bear trap for her delicate paws.

He heeded his sire's command without hesitation, loping after the man with his eyes peeled for anything with blood that could bleed. In the near distance, a crow took wing. He watched it grimly, knowing he was not fast enough to catch it once it was in the air, then turned his gaze to where it had been. Perhaps more crows still grounded? He darted forward and was pleased to find a pair still there; a lithe leap and snapping jaws secured one spindly leg, and he wasted no time slamming the frantic bird into the ground.
his son drew first blood. merrick knew in the boy was a great core that had been filled with bloodshed. he had seen his mother rip the throat from another. both had been bathed in scarlet at their coronation. as much as he had sought to hone aventus, he had succeeded. 
this would be proven again.
merrick flushed a nest of fieldmice and came down upon them as his father's namesake: sharp coyote-blood muzzle darting here and there, snapping limbs and tails and splattering the snow with blood from both live flesh and dead.
ursus lived on.
inside his heart, the bearwitch shouted a thousand prayers.
Aventus endured the buffeting wings against his face with his ears twisted back while he pinned the unfortunate creature to the ground with one ink-black paw. It took only a second for him to readjust his grip and drive his muzzle down to grasp the crow's head, which he tore off with several tugs and one vicious shake.

He flung the head and watched, satisfied, as crimson arced across the snow to mark its trajectory. That was when he spotted their spectator: a scrawny, lonesome coyote picking its way across the field, drawn initially by the scavenging crows, and then by the scent of blood on the wind.

Father, Aventus said in a hushed tone, eyes and ears both trained with deadly intent on the smaller canine.
father — 
he had never called tadec such —
the scent of coyote upon the breeze;
and the few memories he had of the lamplight man were curled with that scent;
it beat in merrick's blood. had the raven kept it from plaguing the veins of his red-girl and hunter?
he looked to his son, a nod; where aventus went he would follow, and he remembered in haunting bitterness how a coyote had broken he and nunataq. not so this time.
It beat in his blood, too. The rat-a-tat of a snare drum behind the much louder boom of a timpani in his bloodline, for he was primarily wolf, but there was a little coyote there, always. Enough to slim up his features into a likeness of Tadec, but thicker, more whole. A little more like Cicero, perhaps, than the vagabond father of Merrick.
This coyote was starving. That was the only explanation for the risk it took, darting toward the carrion left by the birds in spite of the wolves. Surely it imagined it was faster than them, and more cunning. The Trickster was a wily beast, but Aventus and Merrick both rode the wave of incensed dissatisfaction with Polaris' escape.
When the hapless little cousin made a move for the carrion, Aventus flew across the snow with a silent snarl peeled across his lips. The coyote knew better than to stand its ground, so it flitted away like a little bird on a swift wind, but remained close. It wouldn't give up an easy meal just like that.
Aventus slowed, anticipating that his father might come from the other side.
coyotes were foolish beasts who relied upon opportunity; the dodge of it away from aventus' lunge caught merrick's hungry anger. fangs bared he whiplashed toward the thing, remembering how the bones of the first had ground to nothing beneath his jaws.
he struck against its ribcage with bruising force. a scream echoed against the side of the heedless mountain-range, and the bear-king snapped again.
a glut of crimson arcing; he stepped back and shot a dilated stare toward his son.
take all that you wish
despite its wounds the coyote was prepared to drag them both into another run, and the ursus wolf did not pause, driving in for another snap as he shoved the creature toward the bruin-jaw.
He flexed his paws on the ground, watching hawk-like how the coyote wheeled and was slammed by his sire. The shriek curled into his ears and struck deep into his bones, awakening a little of that persistent fear that always clung to him in Merrick's presence. Suppressed, now, by the worshipful desire to please, but still very much there.

Shaking it off, the boy drove forward to cut off the coyote's escape. The scent of blood was on the wind, a splash on the ground, and a red tear in the coyote's hide drew his eye. A cacophany of yips followed as father and son tore the smaller beast to shreds.

When it was over, Aventus stood panting, painted crimson and feeling something new and unpleasant in a lower part of his body. He gave one hind leg a shake. His wish to spill blood was satisfied, but he first glanced at his father for leave to return to Ursus.
it was over too soon.
merrick spread jaws now throbbing with a dull ache in a gore-struck grin. a nod to aventus. their work here was complete.
but he would not accompany his son back to ursus; when the dark form of the rogue had faded in the direction of the bear-valley, merrick turned back into the snow, pressing beyond the blood-stained place in search of avicus.