Phantom Hollow it's a dangerous business, going out your door
Private  April 27, 2018, 08:09 PM
Lone Wolves

backdated to yesterday, 4/26
        His torn pad struggled to heal on its own, and Cortland found himself struggling along with it. The encounter with Kalina had been a set-back, though; first he had been too focused on finding @Phocion— then too uncomfortable, and then something else, and had forgotten all about his wounded paw. The carelessness had seen it open again and bleeding, and he had feared infection. The Mayfair said nothing of his concerns to his companion, even when they began to materialize.
        He awoke feverish, making soft noises of distress in his half-conscious state and stretching fitfully. Darkness surrounded him, and for a beat he panicked— why was it so dark? Then he remembered; his new friend was nocturnal, and he had automatically taken to the same schedule. It was still a strange adjustment, more so with the blanket of lethargy over him now. Cortland rose slowly to his feet, keeping his infected pad off the ground. A wave of dizziness overtook him, but he had roused fully now and managed to steady himself. His paw felt hot, swollen— it throbbed uncomfortably with each beat of his heart. The sunset boy took a deep breath and turned to leave his sleeping place; he didn't know where he was going, or what he was looking for, but it felt like the right thing to do somehow.
April 27, 2018, 10:55 PM
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He didn't much like the hollow; it was all too quiet and covered in trees, which impacted his view of the sky. Sparse light made it through the canopy, and it was in this that he basked, ruminating on all that had come to pass since he'd left Bearclaw Valley.

They'd crossed the mountains, leaving the impish coyote behind--good riddance, he thought. He'd caught a glimpse of Silvertip from the ridges of the Sunspires, and felt an overwhelming sense of joy. Finally, finally he was coming home. Now they had stopped to rest in this eerie place, with the crag growing larger and larger as they approached.

They were so very close.

Even a mouse would have caught his ear in the silence, so Cortland's uneven gait brought his head around, his eyes cutting through the darkness as the golden boy approached. His lips tightened in a frown as he noticed how much he favored that injured paw, and rushed over to him.

"Sit down, sit down," Phocion insisted, pressing his muzzle gently against the boy's shoulder. He stared apologetically at Cortland, ears folding backward. "I'm sorry. We've been traveling so fast, I didn't even think about your paw." He had to find Poet soon; she'd know how to treat the wound properly. For now, all they could do was stop and rest.
April 27, 2018, 11:18 PM
Lone Wolves

        Unintentionally, the boy moved straight towards the one he sought to avoid now— he couldn't bring himself to be disappointed, though. Guilt flashed through him anyway when Phocion reacted immediately to his condition; he sat as he was bid, tilting his own head so his nose briefly met his companion's ear. He hadn't wanted the other to notice, to feel bad about it.
        The Mayfair's gaze flitted to the ground when Phocion apologized. He hadn't wanted that. It's okay. The words were barely a whisper— he wasn't sure what else to say. Realizing more words would not come to him, Cortland lowered himself instead so he was laying near the male; a silent invitation, perhaps not forthright enough to be noticed, but he could think of no other communication now. He rested his head on his paws, ears perked, and gazed warmly at Phocion. Nothing negative lurked in his expression now— it was too nice a night to linger on his guilt or his hurt paw.
April 28, 2018, 12:15 AM
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He shook his head, feeling guilty himself, as he settled down next to Cortland. It was a fairly chilly night, though balmy compared to the winter the Wilds had been given, and Phocion was grateful for his companion's body heat. Unfortunately, some of that heat seemed to pulse from the injured paw, and from the smell of it, he knew it was infected in some way.

"My friend, Poet, knows a lot about herbs and plants," he murmured, looking over at Cortland. "She'll know which ones to use, when we find her." He gave a wistful sigh as he thought of Poet, his truest friend in Bearclaw Valley. She'd left so suddenly, and he didn't know why, or where she'd gone. He knew there was discontent between the alphas and the Redleaf sisters that had reverberated through the pack; was that the reason she had vanished?

He stared at Cortland, a smile coming to his face. "Chrysos," he said suddenly, thinking of the star that had hung just above the horizon when he'd first encountered the boy. "Bright and golden. It's very clear in the spring sky. That's you." He lifted his nose to the dark canopy above, where the light of the moon just barely filtered through. "That's your star."

Phocion looked back down at his new friend, eyes sparkling. "Do you want to hear a story?"
April 28, 2018, 12:32 AM
Lone Wolves

        Phocion spoke of a friend, though whether her name was Poet or she was a poet, the boy could not tell. The way he said it implied a name— but it seemed an odd name to Cortland. He was nonetheless comforted to hear that his companion knew of a healer. That he didn't know where she was didn't give him pause just then.
        The sunset boy lost himself momentarily in the stare fixed on him, his own expression written with gentle affection. And then— a name. It took him a moment, even as Phocion explained, to realize it was for him. He pressed closer without realizing it, delighting in the glow of feeling special as his gaze briefly followed his friend's gesture upward. The sky was not visible now, but Cortland knew he would search for the star another night.
        He offered his own smile, shy and genuine, when Phocion asked if he wanted to hear a story. Yes. The boy murmured simply, resting his head so it was pressed, feather-light, against the other. A contented sigh escaped him, torn pad forgotten for the moment. There was something magical in the air tonight, he thought— none could miss it.
April 28, 2018, 01:13 AM
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Phocion curled against Cortland, the two of them a beaming puddle of silver and gold in the dark woods. He drew in a breath, smiling, his eyes fluttering closed as he was taken suddenly back to his first days, with the tribe. How fresh the stories had seemed, then! When he hadn't known every twist and turn, each gory detail. He hoped he could bring that magic to Cortland.

"When the world was new, there were two moons," he began in hushed tones. "They were inseparable, in love, joined for eternity. Fengari and his wife, Erastia." He lifted his eyes skyward, in a brief homage to his god, before he continued. "In those days, there was no day, only the peaceful night. And the night grew brighter and more beautiful with each child Erastia bore."

The stars. Little by little, one pinprick of light after another, they filled the sky, arranging themselves into shapes and patterns, cliques and bands. "The asteria," Phocion explained. "Each star has a name, and is unique. We all have our own star to guide us. Yours could be Chrysos; mine is Filos."

He sighed and pressed his head back against Cortland's, feeling suddenly drowsy, giddy. "When things were right, in the time of the two moons, the stars would dance, and the wolves with them," Phocion whispered, flicking his tail in time with a beat only he heard. "Spinning round and round, twisting, leaping. No one alive has seen it--but the tales live on, passed down from generation to generation.

"I tell these stories because I, too, want to dance with the stars,"
he breathed.
April 28, 2018, 06:46 PM
Lone Wolves

        He melted into the touch, forgetting for a moment the newness of their friendship. Warmth coiled in his chest as he listened closely to the tale. Cortland had always loved stories— true or not. It wasn't the boy's place now to question the authenticity of this; the emotion was genuine, and he committed each name, each word to memory. Of course, he wasn't certain how he felt personally about endless night— his introduction to a nocturnal schedule had thus far been rough.
        Cortland thought then that something must have happened to end the night— something terrible, because Phocion spoke of the time with such longing. How could a lovely thing end but in something terrible? He didn't ask then. Briefly he was frustrated, knowing he didn't know what to say again. He listened, though; he watched attentively until his friend admitted his own desires and quite suddenly there were words— without warning!— spilling all too quietly from his own lips. You will.
        He could not say how he knew— perhaps he didn't know. Minutes passed; the Mayfair lifted his muzzle and turned his head away, glancing briefly at Phocion from the corner of his eye with an unreadable expression. Then his gaze was sky-bound, and he wondered at his own place among it all. Since he had left his family behind, the feeling of belonging to nothing had crept in until, almost overnight, it quietly dominated his identity; the emotion confronted him with piercing teeth as he considered his friend's story. It held a certainty, a peace in knowing he found himself deeply and intimately jealous of. Another sigh left him, and he turned back to Phocion to push his nose into the other's pale fur.
May 07, 2018, 02:00 AM
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He was so quiet, this boy. Yet even he could find words--if only a pair--to respond to Phocion's story, though they were ones of encouragement, not wonder. He looked deep into the Mayfair's silver eyes, hoping to find. . .something there. What? A newfound fervor? The blooming of an idea?

Priests, missionaries, as he was. . .they looked for converts, above all else. Swaying others to believe so ardently in what they did was their ultimate goal. Could he look beyond it, if the fire hadn't sparked within Cortland? Could he accept so willingly into his fold a boy who did not believe, even though conversion was what he had come here to do, in the first place?

He accepted Cortland's touch with a small sigh, a smile coming to his face despite the raging argument within his head. Deep within him, beyond the rituals and the learned things, there was Phocion at his core. The wolf he'd been born; the wolf he'd always be. And that Phocion was never one to turn away friends, no matter who they were or what they believed in.

"It will be so soon," answered the white-furred wolf, his breath stirring the golden strands of Cortland's ruff. "All the signs point to it."
May 07, 2018, 02:17 AM
Lone Wolves

        Some part of the boy sensed that his own response was lacking— he found it typically was. It had never bothered him until now. Cortland pressed closer as if to convince his stark friend of his interest that way, face tucked against his fur. He stayed that way for several long moments. It was easy— easier than trying to find the proper words.
        Will you tell me more? The Mayfair made his request softly, pulling away from Phocion only for that moment so as not to muffle his words. It was not purely an attempt at patching his prior lackluster response; he did want to hear more. Cortland reached to nose the other's cheek affectionately, ears half cocked back. If this was what Phocion belonged to, perhaps he could belong to it, too. Perhaps this could offer more than his mysterious past.
May 12, 2018, 11:48 PM
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The words were a gentle song, music to his ears, and Phocion nodded, the storyteller's fever-dream settling upon him like a cloak. He pointed his muzzle to the moon, looking over at Cortland. "Do you know why we wake with the sun?" Letting a few beats of silence go by, he then continued. "Her light is so bright, so intrusive, that we cannot help but be swayed by the ever-present rays."

He frowned, shaking his head. "This was not meant to be so. Once, there was no sun, no fiery warmth. Only the peaceful cool night, ruled by the two moons and their many children." The stars twinkled back at them in a wave of 'hello.' He still wondered what Cortland's guiding asteria would be, if he were to choose one.

"The biggest and brightest of these children was named Ileana. Though she was more beautiful than the rest, still she was jealous of her mother's radiance." His tone grew bitter, low, hushed, as if it shamed him to utter these next words. "One day, while Erastia's back was turned, Ileana swallowed up her mother and took her light for her own. So bright, she surpassed all others--blotted out the stars, even her own father. Thus, the first day fell upon the earth."

Phocion sighed, hanging his head. "Wolves were not meant to roam in day, Cortland," he murmured, pressing his chin over the other's forehead, as if protecting him from unseen enemies. "The endless night was our domain, and with the dawn of the first day, we grew weak--and have grown weaker since." He lifted his eyes to the sky, the moonlight bouncing off the twin cerulean orbs. "But those who have kept to the night will reap the reward, when the time comes that Fengari catches Ileana, rescues his wife from her clutches--and restores order."