Wolf RPG

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Lane traveled the lands beneath the glacier with steadier footing than had been typical for her of late, thanks to the rabbit @Wintersbane had left her. It sat in her belly with a comforting heaviness, suspending her near-constant bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness. 

Taking advantage of her newfound strength, she sought out the one responsible for the gift. A fresh kill was a rare treat for her, given her underdeveloped hunting skills. She was used to grazing on plant life, scrounging what leftovers she could from old carcasses, and occasionally eating from caches when she was able to make a trade with a pack. 

She was somewhat at odds with herself, having accepted the offering without feeling that she really deserved such treatment. She wasn't sick, and she wasn't an invalid; she just happened to have pups in her womb. She should be the one delivering fresh-caught meals to Wintersbane, or Tzila, or at least the caches. She still needed to prove she belonged here. She hadn't forgotten her promise to Wintersbane on the day he had allowed her into Duskfire Glacier. She would pull her weight around here, and if her weight happened to increase... she would just have to pull more.
after his conversation with tzila, wintersbane makes a beeline for the borders; nearly obsessive with his patrols of them. it was where he could often be found — with the occasional deviation of one of the neighboring territories to keep track of the roaming herds and ensure that they weren't about to get unwanted neighbors dropping camp next door. with the potential of cubs — his, rye's ( it didn't matter ) — on the horizon wintersbane is more territorial than ever; a soldier who's finger hovered over the trigger, hesitating dangerously on that line of ask questions or shoot first.

wintersbane only stops when he hears purposeful footfalls catching up to him; assuming that he is being sought. he turns in the direction of the footfalls and greets, lane. when the woman comes into view.
Lane nodded a greeting as she caught up. 

"Don't let me slow you down. We can walk." She nodded again, this time in the direction of their border. She assumed that was were they were headed; Wintersbane kept a very close eye on it, she had noticed. 

A walk would do her a world of good, truth be told. With her intermittent bouts of dizziness and nausea, she hadn't really taken the opportunity to stretch her legs in a few days. 

As they scouted, Lane's eyes would sweep the surrounding territory, and she would marvel and the lands beneath the glacier, which seemed to only grow more and more beautiful as springtime built to its crescendo. It was astounding how much the Duskfire territory had changed even in the few short weeks Lane had been here. Their lake swelled with snowmelt, transforming the previously frozen lands into a mountain oasis. 

"I'd like to stay," Lane would finally pipe up, perhaps a bit out of the blue. "Like as a real...ah, like.. permanently." She didn't expect Wintersbane to argue; he had made his position pretty clear. He wanted his children to grow up here, and so that meant he wanted Lane here by virtue of the fact that she could be their mother. Well, one of their mothers. That juicy little tidbit of gossip that Rye had dropped hadn't been forgotten: Lane was not the only Duskfire wolf who might be expecting Wintersbane's offspring.
alright, wintersbane murmurs in rasping agreement as she encourages him to continue in his patrol; though the tundrian shifts his steps so they are not so long, not so purposeful. more leisurely and slowed so the two of them could keep pace well enough. for a moment the silence stretches between them and though there is a spark of desire to break it, to encourage lane to tell him what she had to tell him — because he harbors the natural assumption that wolves seek him for purpose and not because they enjoy his company. he resists.

and is rewarded for it soon enough; though her words bring with them a measure of surprise that wintersbane cannot catch as it morphs into shape upon his scarred visage.

to clarify, wintersbane begins after considering his words. are you staying because you want to or because you're with child? he doesn't mind — is grateful in fact either way — still would like to know whether she was staying because she genuinely wanted to or because she felt an obligation to.
The patrol brought the pair to the shores of a shallow creek, carrying meltwater away from their namesake glacier. Lane swept her gaze southward, watching as the glistening waters twisted southward through the moraine.  

"I am with child," she confirmed. It was not the answer to the question he had asked, but rather a statement fulfilling her earlier promise to come to him when she knew for sure. It was likely he had already heard whispers from their other packmates-- those who had witnessed her symptoms, or had comforted her when she shared her worries. 

Lane's eyes returned forward, searching for the best way across the creek. No doubt Wintersbane already had a path mapped out; this was his patrol line, after all. She would cross after he, assuming he already knew the best way of passage. 

"Both played a part in the decision, I guess. I normally wouldn't have considered staying beyond our last.. ah, encounter." Lane was silent for a minute, picking her way delicately across the rocks peeking above the waters. The creek was frigid and refreshing, lapping over her paws and occasionally splashing up the back of her ankles. 

"Even though my circumstances tied me here, they also showed me sides of your--of our-- packmates that I hadn't known. Everyone has been so accepting, and understanding. Kind, even.. much moreso than they need have been." This had been very unexpected; Lane had been coached to believe that pack wolves would find any opportunity to eschew an outsider. "I think I could have a life here, and a family here, with all of you." 

Lane's back foot missed its mark, and her rear leg splashed down into the creek. "Shit--!" She teetered, her footing thrown off balance by the slip.
i am with child. the words hang in the air between them as wintersbane processes them.

it does not particularly come as any sort of surprise to the tundrian; in his fourth year of life he's been around long enough to understand what happens when a man and a woman come together during a woman's heat.

i see, the tundrian rasps, thinking back to their last conversation when she had expressed uncertainty ...on staying, on the whole 'cubs' thing and he worries, for a moment, how she'll handle it. cubs were a lot of responsibility and he thinks then of astraeus and how his mother abandoned him before he'd even weaned.

lane launches then into further explanation, biding his words of concern and capturing his attention.

you are welcome to stay, wintersbane says. duskfire would be less without you. not spoken with the intention to flatter but out of truth: each wolf had their own part, their own role to play and should any depart, duskfire would feel the empty space left behind. it is a small pack and thus each member is more meaningful to him for it. though their small numbers bring with it some concern: did they have enough hunters, could they survive a surprise attack by an unknown aggressor? wintersbane was nevertheless glad for the intimacy a small pack had.

wintersbane's steps are methodical, calculated with purpose but also second nature. he doesn't watch the path he's walking if only because he's walked the borders so many times and knows them like the back of his paw. he startles at the splash and curse; steps faltering to a halt and looks around until his glacial gaze lands upon lane; teetering.

instinct to protect: to keep her from getting injured, surely, but also mindful of his children she's carrying in her womb; wintersbane rushes forth to help steady her.

you can pp wintersbane as needed in your post! i left it vague on whether he'd be successful/how he'd steady her if he was. <3
Wintersbane's acceptance was swift, as Lane expected, but the weight of her new status hardly had the chance to sink in before Lane's back leg was plunging into the icy creek. 

The alpha moved swiftly to her side to steady her, offering the first contact they'd had since it happened. Lane reached out without hesitation, latching onto his ruff in reflex. Even as her footing steadied, it took another moment for the world to right itself. These past few days, it seemed her balance was consistently lagging a frame or two behind. 

Lane clung to Wintersbane, eyes squeezed shut, breathing in the scents of the Duskfire lands that lingered upon his pelt. The crisp pine needles of the conifer forest entwined with the softer, earthier scent of the deciduous. Also layered in was the freshness of their glacial lake, as well as a sprinkle of the gritty saltiness of the moraine into which it melted. After letting out a long breath, Lane released his pelt and opened her eyes.

They reached the other side of the creek without further incident, winding their path through the oak and maple forest that butted up to the opposite shore. Lane would mindlessly collect a few oak leaves as they traveled, completely unaware of how necessary they would be in the coming week. 

"I'd still like to make a trip to Moonglow, to let Kukutux know my decision. I'd like to go immediately, before I get too.." she cleared her throat. "Too weighed down." Unknown to Lane in that moment, her trip would be delayed two weeks, as Rye was fated to injure himself seriously in a hunting accident the morning following this conversation. 

"Is there anything else you want me to tell her?" Lane's pregnancy would be obvious to anyone with eyes at that point, but if there was any other news that needed passing on, Lane would do so.
he offers a steady shoulder as she grasps his ruff to steady herself and he waits, still and stalwart until she feels grounded enough to release him. are you ok? he asks; lingering close all the same even as the 'danger' has passed. understood, wintersbane rasps in consideration as she mentions still wanting to visit moonglow. it is only fair, as far as he cares to see, to let kukutux know. he takes a moment to consider, at her inquiry, if there is anything he wishes her to pass along to kukutux; silent and lingering as they walk.

i don't think so. he finally responds after the moment stretches as far as he could let it before it appeared as if he were ignoring her ( because he wasn't ).
"Are you ok?" 

"Yeah," Lane assured him, well aware that she had taken a few moments too long to release his pelt. She considered telling him how badly this first trimester had been affecting her, but..  if she admitted to being sick, he might not approve of what she was about to request next. 

He voiced his agreement--or at least his understanding-- without further comment. It was not easy to tell what he might be thinking, which was probably by design. It didn't really matter. Lane wasn't looking for approval, and she wasn't really even asking permission. She was mostly just checking in, because for the next few weeks Winterbane had a right to know the whereabouts of her uterus. Its current contents were half his. 

Silence drew out after Lane asked her question, and she supposed Wintersbane was thinking. She continued to collect oak leaves as they walked, and he eventually answered in the negative. Lane nodded. Her mouth was now full of leaves, impeding her ability to engage in further conversation. 

Their patrol path eventually wound up to the base of the mountain. Lane caught Wintersbane's eye with a pointed nod toward the caves. She needed to get these oak leaves stored, so this was her stop. 

She wagged her tail in a silent farewell before departing his company, making her way toward the medicine caches deep inside the belly of the mountain. 

Feel free to wrap and/or archive!