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kukutux hunted the frozen edge of the lake. she had already found a dead frog, which she discarded, and the shimmering scaled body of a fish half-eaten by a hunter long passed. it was bones she searched for, something smooth and eloquent in its silence, with a spirit that would speak to sialuk.

further out, an ivory hillock caught her green eyes. kukutux tested the ice with a wary paw.
Now that the terrible winter storm was over, Keyni was once again free to set out away from the Glen. But she wouldn't go far. Not with how the recovering dynamics back home. Ravaryn was still on her mind, but with Melaine around and as a medic no less, she knew the girl would be well off. 

Of greater concern to her, was the notable absence of her closest friend, Lunaria. She had not seen or heard from her since around the time the bear was wreaking havoc in the pack. While not among those who had fallen victim to it's wrath, Keyni still worried. For a few days, she searched the far reaches of the territory, trying to pick up any trace of her scent. All trails led to a dead end, or a fading.

The blizzard could've turned her around, causing her to get lost. Or maybe she left on her own, or was out somewhere else in the wilds. Whatever the case, it was enough for Keyni to press on and investigate. Her search brought her to the nearby lake she had visited a few times before. With furrowed brows, she concluded her check around it's perimeter. Nothing. She sighed, hating to have to be the bearer of bad news. They had lost so many, and now another. But then a glimmer of hope. A wolven figure, not of Lunaria's sleek black, but of pale white, creeping near the ice. She called out in a soft chuff of greeting to get their attention.
the limb was snatched back at the hint of movement, the gentle sound to follow. the duck sent her gaze out over the white, where it alighted curiously upon a feminine figure with coloration tending toward that of a small creature kukutux had long known. at once the name sprang to her mind, and she knew that it would always associate itself with this wolf.

nunivakkak was looking toward her. kukutux approached with a wave of her pale plume. "i greet you," the snow-wife said softly, curious about the beauty of the she-wolf who had seemingly appeared.
A friendly, warm greeting was always appreciated from the tundrian. Which is exactly what she got from the white dove, which tempted her classic, soft smile in return. "Good day to you too." She replied easily, coming closer still, but not too close. A familiar scent that hung around her fur got Keyni's nose working. She recognized it from several occasions and individuals before. Taking a shot in the dark, as she asked "You are from Moonspear, yes?" Her tail waved slowly, gently, stirring up a dusting of flakes that had settled on her hips.
"i am," kukutux said softly, rather entranced by the snow-soft beauty draping the strange woman. "and you are from the glen of firefly? we are allies then. family, " she corrected, amusement slipping over her delicate muzzle. "i have the name of kukutux." an answering bow to her lips, she waited to hear what title this woman might bear.
Stirring in her chest was a sense of comfort. Of contentment. Though only moments met, Keyni already felt a strange pull to this woman. She seemed soft spoken like herself, but strong without being overly confident. Could northern blood also run in her veins? The curiosity pried at her, coaxing her further so she may unravel this tickling little curiosity.

But first, the dove confirmed her assumption. She was indeed a Moonspearian, easily identifying herself from the Glen. Family, then. One in the same. Her smile grew, if only by a hint, her pleasure clear. "I would expect nothing less. You are not the first of our extended family I have had the pleasure of sharing company." She recalled Norah first, upon returning to the Teekon. A handful of others too. And now, she was properly acquainted with Kukutux. "A lovely name. Might I ask what it means?" She inquired, taking a friendly step closer. "I am called Keyni."
keyni was polite in a way kukutux recognized. it settled her more at ease during their meeting, and called her name 'lovely.' "it is the same for me, keyni," the moondrop said in answer, warming pink beneath the short alabaster fur of her cheeks. "my name means 'shy ducks in snow,'" she went on, thinking of what she had told sialuk. "it means i am careful not to reveal myself before i wish to be seen."

"and yours?" the duck inquired with her own step, wondering at what sort of title the other might carry. she was plushly built and delicate as taiga-down. did she live, or was she spirit?
"Interesting." She remarked softly. "But certainly wise." She nodded towards the meaning of Kukutux's name and her nature. Already she could see that she was likely a very thoughtful wolf. Her body language was loose and easy, yet she still moved with a sense of poise. Within touching distance, she would allow her to brush up close, should Kukutux feel brave enough to do so. She liked to believe she often was able to read others well.

Ears sliding back but not pinning down to give her a pleasant look, she happily delivered her answer. "It means flat lands." She said, wetting her lips. "A nod to the lands of my birth, the vast tundra in the far north." She tipped her chin up just so, but not in an arrogant way. While she had severed connections with her birth clan, she was still proud of her heritage.
keyni's admission brought a fond affection to kukutux' features. "i am also from the land of ice," she said softly. "and we also have a kinsman i have met in this place who has the name of kigipigak."

she was very beautiful and perhaps knew their custom. but the man had gone off with the warrior clan, and perhaps there he would seek his roots. 

their pelts brushed; she took in the scent of the firefly glen.

"flat lands hold much worth, and much loveliness," kukutux commented. "a good name."
As pale and lightly colored fur mingled, the scents of two packs but one family mingled. Her spine shivered pleasantly as if she were being marked, officially welcomed into the fold. She hummed in interest, ears lifting to catch the name she offered of a man she knew. "I once shared a hunt of a man of northern descent. He was of few words, of a pale blonde." Had Kukutux met Stjornuati? Her memory of their one time encounter was a good one. "I never did learn his name though."

"Thank you." She replied to the duck's compliment of her name's meaning. "I do love my birthplace, but not enough to have stayed. The...customs of my clan there didn't fit with my way of life. This is not my first time in the Teekon. After a few months here, I made the trip back north, to try and regain their acceptance." Jade eyes slid shut softly with a gentle shake of her head. "I was foolish to think such." Hardly seeming weighed down by the subject, Keyni was more reflective than anything else. By the side of this stranger, so docile in her ways it seemed, she found it almost natural in opening up like this.
"it is hard to keep a heart in two places," kukutux commented knowingly. she was interested, however, as to why keyni had chosen a way of life different from their way. perhaps the northerner had been led by spirits another way, but it sounded as if the cloud-woman had divested herself of kinship ties. she wondered who this man was, for he did not sound like kigipigak.

the idea forced ice upon the surface of the duck's soul. she had been forcibly cut off from her own people; she could not conceive of having shut herself away from them purposefully. and yet keyni continued to compel her. "do you know the tongue of the place where the sun does not set?"
She nodded. "It is. But I am doing my best to move on, in my new home, with my new family." She managed a small smile. The way of her clan clashed with her personal interests. They wanted her to be someone she was not. Keyni, being too proud to give in to such pressure, refused. She would not be molded and shaped into a wolf of somebody else's vision. Kukutux asked no more of it, and so no reason to continue on the subject.
A gentle shake of her head was given. "No, I do not." She squinted, as if trying to remember the accent of Stjornuati. "Still, something about it seemed familiar." She tipped her head inquisitively. "Do you know of it?"
"it is my first speaking," kukutux answered in the brisk clipped syllables that had defined her entire existence. "in moonspear i seek to be atsak," the duck revealed, slipping back into the common manner to continue. "i wish to find wives for men without them, and husbands for women who have none."

she watched keyni with an open intrigue, taking in the delicate scent that wreathed from the former northernwolf. "i call you friend, and say, you have been kind to me. if you seek kukutux at moonspear, i will find you a name."
Her original, native language then. A slow blink followed, then a respectful dip of her chin in a nod. She could see Kukutux's pride. How she cherished not only her language, but her heritage. "Mmn, perhaps one day you might tutor me, yes?" She raised one brow quizzically, a playful honesty in her voice. She wouldn't mind familiarizing herself with the northern tongue, a way to perhaps link her back closer to her own roots. Another time would be for that.

Keyni listened with interest as the snowy woman, who seemed to be a year or two older than she, explained her role of seeking men for women and vice versa. Such a thing must require one to be of intuitive personality, a good judge of character, she thought. It was often hard to tell who would match up, and who wouldn't. Unless, you were incredibly experienced of reading emotions and personalities. Her cheeks warmed beneath her thick winter fur. 

"I am flattered. And honored. I am happy to call you my friend, too." She dared to press her solid but delicate shoulder against hers, in the way a trusted companion would for comfort and understanding. "It isn't often that I feel such a connection like this so quickly." Her offer surprised her, prompting soft green eyes to widen slightly. "T-that's very generous of you. I've...never considered a partner before. I have been so focused on settling in at the Glen..." She trailed off. For once, the tundrian seemed unsure of what to think when faced with the idea of who would be an ideal match for her. She had been far too busy traveling, and then integrating into a pack again, it had been the last thing on her mind. Which raised the question - who would want her?
the soft spring way of the eyes keyni wore was quite expressive. kukutux watched, fascinated by the small gestures the other used, almost like a dance to inform the things that she said. "i would be happy to do this thing for you."

a smile showed her small teeth. "it is the way of sisters. i have noticed in this land that women do not often say this to one another. but we must. we have a society together outside what men can see."

and a duty to one another, insofar as she could see. "many do not consider it until it becomes their time," the duck murmured, referring to the season that would soon come for her.
Heart fluttering happily, Keyni dared to bump her forehead gently against the ducks temple, in a show of thanks. She considered her words relating to sisterly acts with a hum. "Quite. We women must stick together. And I too, believe we are often overlooked in our strength." She leveled her gaze. "But only by men who are close minded, blind in seeing women as equal, even if, in a different way." She stated, lending Kukutux a glimpse of her open minded nature, but also her firm stance on her own beliefs. She would agree and consider the viewpoints of others, but would not conform to them if they did not align, simply to fulfill the happiness of another.

"If...it is not too personal to ask, do you have a life partner? If you do...how did you know he was right? Gut instinct? Or, did you take it one step at a time?" She fell silent then, shaking her head as if apologizing for the plethora of questions. Keyni was wise beyond her years in many ways, but the matter of love and courtship were entirely uncharted waters for her. She knew some individuals dove head first, impulsively, while others were much more cautious. Kukutux seemed an expert and she was curious to learn of the way in which her own marriage (if any) was forged.
ah, so the old ways had not left keyni, then. it was the sort of thing kukutux had heard her mothers and her aunts say many times. that was why, inside the circle of protection provided by men, women had their own, a council that not even the most decorated hunter would dare question.

"sometimes there are men who are not like that way," kukutux smiled, brushing her new companion's cheek with a gentle familiarity. she thought of jarilo, of his kindness and how each time they spoke, she was reminded of how careful his spirit was.

she missed him now. a question from keyni's soft tones. "in my homeland, as you may know, such things were arranged. when i came here i was alone." she thought of the elf-queen, and also of cry, whom she had not forgotten.

"i asked my leader of she would be sister to me, and find me a husband. she took me to moonspear. hydra's brother chose me, but we did not know each other properly until after our married-time began."
Giving a faint, hum, Keyni nodded a little. "In my clan, we did have something of a tradition. The most skilled warrior would have his pick of the ladies." She sighed slightly, eyes averting. Her thoughts on it were clear. "I never cared for it, to put it lightly." She listened, soaking up how the leader of her pack took her as family. And then, searched among her own kin for an eligible man. 

She found it odd that Jarilo, this man, had chosen Kukutux but they had not truly gotten to know one another after the marriage. She shook her head as if trying to make sense of it. "That just...doesn't seem like a path I would choose." She began carefully, quickly tagging on "I am not saying your choice was wrong; it just isn't what I would do." She drew back, planting her hind quarters down. A more serious, fixed look offered. "I prefer not to rush into anything. I am not interested in men who plays petty games."
kuktux agreed. "i would have not liked it to be so. i had seen it done, once. but my mother would not have allowed it. not for any girl in my clan."

to keyni's statement she gave a nod. "it is not for everyone. that is why it must be a choice." she was quiet a moment, thinking of how some things had lessened for her in intensity over the past hand of moons. "you are right that it is not a game. it is not for pretend. it is a true agreement."

she smiled gently at the woman, willing to move forward in their discourse. "i am healer in moonspear. do you have interest in this?"
Keyni was still not sure on where she stood with this whole matchmaking thing. She was still young, and at a point in her life when finding a mate was not her top priority. She did not dive head first into most things and considered Kukutux's proposal carefully. Only if fate saw it fit that Kukutux would find her a suitor, and if  he was to her liking, and she his, then maybe there was a chance of something working out.

Raising her head in a composed, poised manner, she kept a level eye with the pale woman. "I am open to it." She began. "But I am only interested in those with a good heart. I am not looking for a short term fling." Her voice was firm. "Should you find or know of anyone who might want to meet me, then I will consider a meet and greet. But I make no promises." Her way of saying she would test the waters if a male Kukutux thought would want to be around her was found. She was not committing to anything. She would take it slow, should anything become of this at all.
she dipped her head. "it must not be something that is rushed. we will meet in the warmer moons to discuss more." 

she enjoyed the firmness of keyni; she reached out to brush the other's shoulder for a moment. "it is good that you are not one who runs ahead. you think of the future, and this has importance."

moonspear beckoned. kuktutux did not wish to leave, not truly; but stepped back all the same with a reluctant smile. with no knowledge of what was to come in days that had not yet passed, she murmured, "i will see you when the sun is full another day."

if keyni had nothing to add, the duck would turn, beginning to make her way toward moonspear and the respite that waited for her there.
She nodded in agreement. They would meet later, then. When the sun was warmer, and Keyni a little more mature. "Yes. This will give me time to think. To reflect on this matter. What you have offered me." There was no rush. Until she and Kukutux met again, she could go back to living her new life in Firefly Glen, working to establish herself as an integral pack member.

Dipping her head graciously to the white ones praise, she allowed a humble smile. "I do try. Thank you." Sensing that their time together was at a close, she stepped near one last time. Gently, she ran her chin along the others delicate crown, like one would a cherished relative. "I have enjoyed our time here together, friend. I'm honored the stars aligned for our paths to cross." Pulling away, Keyni turned to leave, uttering. "Stay well, until next time." Then she was gone, retreating back home.
"travel well, sister," kukutux whispered as keyni pulled away, and stood haloed in proud beauty before the duck's gaze.

and then the firefly was turning to return to her village, and of course the duck must do the same. she went with joy, already spinning a hundred thoughts inside her mind of how she might best make matches for all those she had met.