Silvertip Mountain you're beside me, breathing so loud
Private  January 13, 2018, 01:27 PM
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         Her breath came fast as she ploughed through the snow, limbs driving her ever upward and onward. Her limbs bled from scratches too many to count, where rocks and snow and ice had cut her heedless limbs. She left a trail of churned up snow and spots of blood; much like the one that Screech had left behind him. The trail she'd lost, the friend she'd betrayed. The woods around her loomed dark and menacing, trees effectively shutting out the last of the sun's bleeding light, the odd ray boldly striking through the needled foliage only to be crushed by shadow. Like the Wood, and Vaati, the boy she'd hated and loved, the boy who'd stolen her away and twisted her life until it became something darker, something better suited to his liking. 

         Cassiopeia stumbled, crashing into the snow soundlessly. Boughs creaked as the wind forced through them, raking through her thinning fur cruelly. She pulled herself from the snow with a lurch, resuming her maniacal climb. She pushed through snow and rock until quite suddenly there were no more, and the ground fell away before her. She stilled, motionless, the only sound beside the wind her own lonely breaths. 

         Her gaze found the rocks below, scanned them with the same detachment that she'd scanned the blood and the scents of the Heartwood. She'd been his friend, she'd thought, but she'd failed in finding him, too. She'd betrayed him relied on him after she'd plunged into the river searching for something to feel. His trail she'd lost somewhere in her frantic wanderings, found instead the faded scent of Vaati. Vaati; her captor and her friend. He'd trusted her; but it was only, she realized now, because he'd controlled her life so completely, twisted her into the kind of person he could trust and love. Had he loved her? She'd loved him; but that surely was wrong, and twisted to. The Wood had become her anchor and her ruination. 

         The girl swayed on the cliff, thoughts bubbling fast and angry, until she took a step nearer the edge. She faltered; for what she did not know. What had she to continue for? Screech was dead, in all likelihood, her family was scattered and her only known relative a member of the Wood she'd forsaken. Cassiopeia sank into the snow, unable to look down at the rocks any longer, content to lay here and let the falling snow cover her, hide her away. Perhaps she'd simply fade, as Screech had thought she would, and the world would let her fade away when the spring came, fade in its light like the shadow she was.
January 13, 2018, 05:04 PM
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Olive was somewhat disturbed when she found the trail of upturn snow and blood  — clearly something was amiss, and someone was in pain. There was a small part of her that had wished to move on and continue her survey of the mountain’s summit, but either this thing needed to be cared for or put out of its misery — and Olive hoped dearly that it was the former. So began Olive’s following of the trail, and she nimbly picked her way across the stony, steep slopes and leaving her own trail of pawprints in the fine layering of sugar dust. 

She was not the most skilled of healers, this she knew, but she had gleaned whatever she could from the sheepdog and employed these skills, in tandem with her knowledge of plants and nature’s healing forces, to heal Dakarai when he came upon her all those months ago, gaunt and sickly. He had left, of course, as Dakarai was wont to do — but he hadn’t died and Olive considered that to be her first real, medical success story… kind of.

The injured party had reached great heights, it seemed, and Olive soon found herself in the grips of some negative gut reaction to the whole situation. As an empath, she had always been incredibly sensitive to the energies around her and, at that moment, it was enough to roll her stomach. The fae’s twiggy jaws grit together and, again, she considered leaving — but that was not how Olive conducted herself in the face of life’s least beautiful things, not anymore. She continued on, ascending the mountain that had become something of a hideout for her as she spent the winter to regroup, post-moonspear. She had come to miss the alpine atmosphere of mountain life and felt it nurtured her. Maybe it too would nurture this aimless being, who seemed so in need of it. 

At the end of the trail and amongst the snow — a dark, huddled mass. The winds that whistled past the rise’s summit were by no means quiet and Olive had to move somewhat close in order for her delicate voice to be heard above them. “Hail,” she called out, hoping not to startle the small, sad creature — but also afraid she was too late to help. Taking a timid step closer, the sylph continued more softly. “It’s okay, you’re not alone.” 

January 13, 2018, 08:38 PM
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         What had she been, to Vaati? He had been so much to her; her captor, but also her first and trusted friend. He'd taken from her whatever might have been hers in Moonspear, dragged her into the place their own healer had called hell, taken her life from her. And yet had he not protected her? Confided in her as she did him, sought her safety and made her something akin to her queen? And had that not led to her tumble; into the dark and shapeless place she'd existed in for so many weeks? She remembered still the burn of the river, the rush of emotion, but also the pain and the numb. And Screech, too, had been lost to her. She'd found his scent, found where he and Vaati had fallen byways of the Cerberus, wondered at the power of a being that could tear apart the two most important people in her shallow life. 

         They both lived, she knew, and yet somewhere far away from where she lay now, the snow already working to cover the blemish on the otherwise whitewashed mountainside. It was her own fault, her own blasted fault, for staining the serene place with her presence and her torn up trail, the spots of blood that littered it like holes in the perfection of the winter. And yet faults were always smoothed out by the great force that shaped the Wilds, and perhaps it would scuff her out too. 

         The greeting of another had her fall still; not even in the height of her failure could she fade from the world soundlessly. For a long while, she dared not shift, but it were the words that followed that had the dying ember within the shadow spark, and she lifted carefully her muzzle and turned to view the imposter. you are not alone. But she was, surely? No other could have fallen as she had, to this dark and dirty place. The words had her a tinge of comfort, however; and it was after a moment of painfully slow thought that she understood. It was not the word themselves that had the shadow's gaze rake the woman as it did, but the voice that uttered them. 

         And then she understood. "mother,"  The word was a breath of wind, nearly hidden among the gusts below. It was relieved and shocked, and too ashamed and quilty, scared and with the wondering innocence, she'd forsaken long ago. She'd wondered once if death would come by the river, and now she wondered it again. How cruel of the world, to die in the face of the thing that shamed and spoke loudly of all her failures. She quivered a moment, like a leaf caught in a gale, and her gaze did not leave the woman who told her that she was not alone. 
January 14, 2018, 01:24 PM
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Gingerly, the shrouded sylph took several strides closer to where the fallen being lay — now she could see that it was a wolf indeed — and she took a punctuating, feline-like pause between each step, with forefoot hovering above the snow fall, as if waiting for the poor soul to rouse and greet her. Hopeful, she was, but not certain.

The woman’s stomach, still ravaged by knots and an uneasy stirring, fell when she reached winter’s sufferer without blockade, as she had hoped she wouldn't. The shewolf was nothing more than a small, sweet bundle of bones — and almost immediately, Olive felt a familiar sense of custodial responsibility, as she did with most hurt things, but particularly for this hurt thing. Standing over the girl, Olive tried to shield her from the worst of the mountain’s winds but her diminutive frame did not afford much shelter. Brimming with concern, Olive’s silken ears pressed against her crown and she swung her head to and fro, looking for a possible shelter. 


It was only then that the misted sylph felt prompted to take a closer look at the being at her feet. Her perception was obscured by the snowfall and she squinted her mossy gaze, bringing her muzzle about an inch away from the snow-dusted form — and Olive only needed to drink that scent for a single second before her nose was virtually buried in the girl’s frozen form, her olfactory instincts registering the connection before her mind could even grasp it. All physical barriers were breached as the woman desperately cajoled and cosseted the broken thing with her fervent sniffing.  A pleading whine leaked from her maw as she came to her full understanding.

No longer concerned with formalities — this was her daughter, after all —  Olive dropped her finespun form and cloaked Cassiopeia with her head, neck, body and tail as best she could [she was so big, now!] still whining and trembling from the sudden gravity of this situation. Words could not be formed; her voice has been stolen from her, but her mother’s heart thudded around in her chest and all the ashen woman could do was tuck her face against her child’s, as if it was all going to be fine, that it was all going to be okay now — but Olive had never been able to make it be okay, and she was never more aware of it than at that moment.         
January 14, 2018, 07:19 PM
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         The touch of her mother was simultaneously electrifying and calming, the movements of the woman by her side so familiar. Surely this could not be death? Did not death come in silence, senses dulled and dimed until no longer could one touch and feel and see? Perhaps she was wrong; about death, though she'd imagined it time and time again, until the thought of it seemed almost like a memory. But here was touch and the pleading whine of her mother, and perhaps she truly was not alone. Her own whine broke the harshness of her throat, tugging itself from her maw with a strained sound. She twisted, attempting to bury her muzzle in her mother's fur, not knowing how it came to be that her heart soared and plummeted in a single moment. 

         And no longer could she be swiftly scuffed away by the wilds and the way of things, for here was Olive, wrapping herself around the star-speckled girl in a way that did not allow her to simply fade away. The girl's heart beat faster, and another whine slipped past her lips as she pressed against her mother; for a moment she was a child and this mountain was not Silvertip but Moonspear, and all was alright. Shaky breath escaped the girl and the moment shattered, and already the familiar words rested on her tongue.

         And yet they died there, the simple I'm sorry. She'd said them to Screech, to Vaati, to the deformed girl as she slept. To Cyron, as he was carried away to uncertain fate, and to all the other's she'd failed, she'd uttered the simply apology. But she had failed her mother once already, and the words carried with them too much failure for her to dare try them again against the silence. Her mother's face against her own, her scent, so familiar and so alien, here in this place. 

         "mother," she repeated, word firmer, steadier now. And then, word vulnerable and open, she whispered only, "I have failed." She had; her youth had been a catastrophy painted with darkness and cowardice, foolishness and twisted love. Her apology bit at her tongue but did not pass her lips; for surely it was a tainted word, a weak one. Still she pressed against her mother, wishing desperately for Moonspear, the time before; where things had been wrong and yet not as terrible as her life had become, when her failings lay mostly in the future and the lived in aloof, blissful ignorance.
January 17, 2018, 09:03 PM
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Was it true? Was her daughter here, twisting into Olive’s downy form [and Olive into she] or was this yet another cruel tricks of the gods? It was not fair how the gods took things from her so easily, as if she was one of their playthings to punish and mould into something more devout. Oh, those gods, they took far more than they gave — and they did seem to focus on she far more than anyone else — so for a moment, she refused to believe it. Why would they ever give her a gift so generous as her daughter — why play into their cruelties by holding onto hope? It was far more painful

— and where had hope ever gotten her, anyways? 

As much as the sylph felt she needed to steel herself, to protect herself against the pain that always seemed to follow the periods of happiness, it was undeniable how her entire vibrate rose in the presence of Cassiopeia. It was a bond between a mother and child that not even the greatest of distances could sever, nor that the gods could deny; the reason she would happily give her life for any of her children, no matter how long it had been, no matter what evils they committed, from the moment they were born until the end of time. It was her duty, a mother’s love and devotion, and it was a duty that she would gladly fulfill if any of them would just stay put.

The star-speckled girl with her mother’s jade eyes, she was different. Of all her children, she and Cassiopeia had the closest bond — at least, that’s what Olive thought. There was a darkness to Aries that she had never been able to understand and poor Sirius, well, he never got the chance. But even Olive, with her tendency to romanticize things, could not deny her shortcomings as a mother in those weeks following Aries and Dakarai’s separate-but-equal disappearances. Forced to raise herself, with a mother too melancholy to rouse for the simplest of tasks; perhaps it was not a surprise that her daughter had left. 

But, she was here now. 

Cass spoke in a voice composed entirely of whispers. The ash and bone woman pulled the feeble girl into her chest, wrapping her twiggy forelimbs around her as if she was a cub and not a fully-grown woman, as big [or bigger!] than she was. Olive cooed as she nuzzled her daughter and planted kisses upon her face and nose; her own rosy tongue flicking out to removing the snow the second it settled upon her daughter’s beautiful head. “There are no failures in life.” she spoke softly, almost as if this was a fact and not an idea that had manifested in her mind at that very moment. “only lessons.” It was true, for did they not both learn some dark universal truths while in their solitudes, subsequently restoring karmic balance and allowing mother and daughter to unite once more? Suddenly, it all made sense, it was all so clear she could see right through it to the other side — these moments of crystal clarity were the moments worth living for, though Olive doubted anyone would ever see if from her perspective. How ever could they?

Biting her lip, Olive regarded her kin closely and the words fell from a somber mouth. “Stardust,” she began. “you’re so cold…” and resumed her fervent licking, trying to spread and share the warmth between them. Oh, how close she felt to her child! For as worried she was for Cassiopeia's health, Olive was just brimming with happiness for having found her daughter and for being given to chance to know her once more. It was a beautiful thing.