Stone Circle When the party is over
Mature  June 10, 2020, 01:54 PM
RIP Valette
Lone Wolves

Please let @Nanook and @Kaito post first, later this thread will be open to all. :)

Valette knew that it was getting dark soon, but before she would retire she wanted to visit Nanook and her babies. She usually would go for a daily check, it gave her a nice distraction from her rebellious daughter. She still couldn't believe that Arlette, of all her children, got pregnant. It was mostly that the matriarch felt left out. She wanted to be pregnant as well, she wanted to have her own pups. She disliked the idea of being a grandma. She was not that old yet. Valette made her way through the territory on an automatic pilot mode. She had been living here for most of her life so she knew her way around the territory almost blind.

It was also the reason why she noticed the thread extremely late. The scent of pure terror filled her nose and shook the female from her thoughts. She was meters away from Nanook's den when right before her nose was Valette's biggest fear. A cougar ready to pounce. Her mother died because of a vicious cougar attack, being only 7 months when this happened it made a big impact on the female. It hadn't been left at that moment. Last season she also had to encounter one. Valette let out a yelp in shock seeing the vile thing before her and stood frozen in fear as the mountain lion instantly charged towards her, fangs bared. With these cats, fear overtook the matriarch and always triggered a freeze response instead of fight or flight.

June 10, 2020, 04:02 PM
Approved Members

It hadn't taken Arlette much effort to convince him to go see the newest children of Easthollow. He needed a break from the constant weight that slumped across his once youthful shoulders, and made him feel far older than he had ever felt before. The days had been long, ever since Arlette had started showing signs of her pregnancy, and they had gone, together, to tell her parents what they had done. Long, and marred by stress, and pain. Valette did not talk to them. Kaito feared he had created a schism they would never be able to cross. Well -- maybe Arlette would, one day. And maybe their children. Heavens, he hoped Valette would speak to them. He prayed for it, every night. That something would change, no matter the cost. Inwardly, he had very little hope that he would ever reconcile that small tether of relationship he had broken with her, but he still hoped that this could be fixed between Arlette, and their offspring. Their children would carry the Matriarch's blood -- and maybe this would be enough to soften her heart towards them -- but he would always be an outsider.

An outsider to Easthollow, to everyone but Arlette. So Kaito stuck close to her, unwilling to abandon her, and comforted her in any ways he could while they patiently waited for the birth of their children, just as she provided comfort, strength, and peace of mind for him. He knew, without a doubt, that she loved him. He knew, without a doubt, that he loved her. And their children would know this love they shared, their children would feel their love, and they would know that they were not a mistake.

Kaito walked alongside her today, in the waning hues of the late spring evening. He shared soft words with her here and there, meant only for her to hear. The forest was oddly quiet this hour. Heat prickled beneath his skin. The air felt stale and hostile. He didn't think much of this, not at first. Easthollow never much felt like home anymore. But then he noticed that the birdsong had stopped. And he noticed that they were not alone.

Valette neared the entrance to the birthing den. Her presence did not surprise him - though at the sight of her, he wished to turn around, and save their visit for another time. Yet there was something else within the narrative that set him on edge. The Matriarch seemed odd in the way she held herself, staring into the undergrowth as thought something were not quite right. His fur lifted, and he drew closer to Arlette - protective, though he did not know what he needed to protect her from - 

Until the bushes rustled with a burst of tawny fur, and Kaito shot like a stone from a sling.

"Arlette, go!" he hurled his voice out to her on some heightened impulse, and the scene unfolded like a nightmare ripped from an exhausted mind. Arlette's warmth diminished from his side; not because she had run, but because he had peeled away, away from her safety, and into the warpath.

Kaito managed to outpace the cougar by a few short steps. He had never been a fighter. His paws knew the ways of medicine. How to help, how to heal, how to save. And that was his objective, when he flung himself into the narrow space between the beast and Valette. Hoping, that he might give her enough time to run. Fully knowing, that he would not have that chance himself. Fully knowing, and fully terrified, as sharp claws skimmed his face, and fangs closed down around his shoulders and rendered him as useless as a ragdoll.

He did not die in that moment, but he knew his death had begun. Chaos erupted in ways he could not discern. One moment he felt ground beneath his paws, and the next, nothing. The world dizzied around him, and somehow, he found himself flung off somewhere to the side, slid up against a tree, twitching in the warm blood that oozed around his broken body, and praying, even still, that everyone else would be okay.
June 11, 2020, 03:17 PM
Saints Of The Dying Light

Arlette was not sure what was weighing heavier on her; the pregnancy or her mother's wrath. It was probably the latter. Her stress levels were at an all-time high. She tried to avoid her mother and father. She couldn't handle the disappointment of her parents. The rumors would probably spread fast throughout the pack. Plus she couldn't help but be worried for what others would think of her. Clearly there was a stigma to getting pregnant out of wedlock she had been unaware of. It had been an accident however she was still judged as it was a conscious decision. It sucked.

She needed a distraction and since she promised Siarut that she would visit his family she decided it might be a good distraction. Plus, it might prepare her for what is in the future. She would probably give birth soon, she had several cramps already, extremely painful ones. Arlette figured she was due soon. She glanced at Kaito as they walked. He had really been her rock, her everything. He had comforted her though all her endless sobbing. His sweet soft-spoken words helped her through these days of hell. It was crazy how a place she had loved didn't feel like home anymore. The female realized that perhaps a place was not a home but a person. She looked at Kaito with some hope in her eyes. If she was with him, life wouldn't be so bad.

Arlette winced when she saw her mother before them. Oh no. She did not want to deal with her mother at the moment. She looked at Kaito to see if they would make room for the Matriarch. She was about to ask when Kaito told her to go. The tone of his voice, something was wrong. She frowned, then looking at her mother in confusion. Was there something between them she wasn't aware of? Suddenly his comforting warmth gone. What was Kaito going to do? She turned away obediently when she saw the cougar charging at her mother, and Kaito--- "KAITOOO!," she called out after him. She rushed after him. He could never fight a cougar alone! Arlette moved forward, not as quick as she liked, but she was still able to run.

Arlette let out a piercing cry when she saw her love jump between the cougar and her mother. She stumbled as a cramp immobilized her. She jumped up, adrenaline kicking in. She had to help him! She was not a fighter either, but she had to help. To see the male limp in the cougar's hold was not a sight she ever wanted to see. Stupid, they should have kept to themselves!! Arlette roared in anger. The emotions and stress from the last few days bubbling up: The unfair treatment, the disappointment, the fear, and worry. It was all fuel for one emotion. Anger. She didn't deserve this. She wasn't going to let that cougar take Kaito from her. She snarled as she charged towards the cougar. As she did she see Kaito being flung away.

Arlette watched how the bloodied jaw came towards her. The small wolf didn't stop her charge, a warcry came from her lips. The cougar was on her in seconds and the force of the cougar's weight slammed into her. Claws were upon the female and she felt those claws tear through her white pelt like a warm knife through butter. Pain shot through her neck and shoulder. Arlette tried to bite anything she could until she felt the hot breath of the cougar on her neck. It was followed by the clench teeth. A panicked yelp escaped her, as she felt her head pinned to the ground, forced to see Kaito slumped against a tree. She hoped that she had done at least some damage to the cougar.

Immense pain shot through her lower abdomen, briefly thinking the cat had pierced her there as well. She couldn't check as it was getting more difficult to breathe. Her backside did feel well, probably blood. She realized there was a good chance she would die. Tears sprung in her eyes as they turned back to Kaito. This was probably the last sight she was going to see.
June 11, 2020, 04:34 PM

Goodbye my sweet girl <3 Please let Arlette/Valette/Kaito post one more time! We will open this thread up to others in the following round!

There was a rhythm to her days, now that the first few weeks of infancy had passed. As the children grew, and neared their first taste of independence, Nanook found she only wanted to keep them near her. Their eyes had opened; they babbled, and sought to form their first words. Tottered, at times, to the cusp of the den -- and at times she let them out, but not too far, and not without her eyes to watch them. They were still too young for, that kind of independence, too vulnerable. And, she had not been able to shake that unscrutable feeling that she'd had when Valette had visited her, heavy with milk. That feeling, that this bliss would not last... that change was on the air, change she was not so sure about.

She wrapped around them tonight. Valette would be here soon, for she always visited these days, and often at this hour, when the pack was quieter, and the world passed into the moonlight hour. Sure enough, her sister's warm scent flooded across the entrance of the den -- but strangely, her shadow never followed. Instead, the tranquil air seeped with a sudden stab of fear-scent, her sister's - and she sprung to her paws at her sister's panicked yelp.

She snaked around her children with a sharp command for them to "stay", and she ripped from the underground.

And met a sight of absolute chaos -- a flurry of blood, and bodies, and claws. Valette's presence stood heavy a few meters away, and beyond that, she saw the forceful impact of Arlette against the cougar, saw the beast turn on her niece, and rip -- tearing her, and scoring the ground with blood as red as her eyes.

In that movement, she did not see Arlette. The resemblence, too uncanny -- she saw mother in the cougar's grip -- and the fear, the rage, the grief overtook her. Around her, the world filtered to that familiar shade of white, blinding her to everything, except that which mattered, and narrowing down her scope to the instincts that propelled her.

"Protect them," she shouted to Valette, and knew her sister would understand what she meant. She needed her sister: not here, but there, beneath the ground, where the children would be safe. Where Valette would be safe.

And in the furious rush, she began to understand.

Nanook moved like a comet across the darkening ground, blazing in her fury, single-minded in her rage. Burning, with the passion afforded any mother against anyone who dared shed their child's blood. And as her children were to Valette, so her sister's were to her: blood of her blood, and as much sons and daughters as were Selamuit, Kallik, Taktuq, and Ikiaq. Hers to hold, to teach, and to protect.

Arlette would not die.

The silver mercenary threw herself at the cougar's exposed side, and swung with a warcry, and sharp resolve, to force the cat away. Their weight shifted together, and they crashed to the ground. She could not see what had become of Arlette, but she understood what would become of her.

Nanook's grip slipped, her rigid canine limbs not made to twist like a cat's, but she had long trained her reflexes to respond to the fight. With a tumble, and a skid, she regained herself, and she sprung up and dashed forward again. Knowing, how quick these predators were. Knowing, that this fight would end in death. If she ran, she would spare herself, but Arlette would die. And if not Arlette, then Valette, and the children. And if not them, then Siarut, or Greyback, or any of the countless others who counted on each other to live their lives and give their lives for the sake of the whole, to lay themselves down for the greatest, and for the least.

These were her family; these were her friends, and as Nanurjuk had taught her: greater love had nothing but this.

She met the cougar head on. It had begun to turn back to Arlette, but now reared it's bloodied face. Spun around, and lifted to strike. A mistake, for him. With one last motion and a wily grin, she skid beneath it's striking mouth, and shot upward, just as the cougar brought its fangs swiftly down upon her back.

The cougar ripped her away, and she ripped out his throat. Hot blood spilled over her head. She could not tell what was hers, and what was the beast's -- as if that really mattered anymore. She felt the beast shift and weaken in its grip. She felt herself drop to the ground. Her final words were not profound. They were, instead, a triumphant laugh, that matched the wild smile on her face.

She had learned to lose, and she had learned to love here -- but her life had always been a pilgrimmage, a preparation for the better place that had always been prepared for her. Siarut knew how she loved him, she knew she left him with light he would carry, and give to each of their children. Valette knew how she had loved her, too, and she knew her children were safe in her arms, safe in Sia's -- that they were all safe with each other, and that was enough.

She saw herself hit the ground, her body dead and maimed, but her soul, very much alive. She was going home now -- she would see the One who had kept her -- and she turned toward Kaito's fallen body as the heavens opened up with glorious light.
June 11, 2020, 05:40 PM
RIP Valette
Lone Wolves

Valette braced herself for impact, her mind betrayed her by locking her muscles from moving due to fear. However, the impact never came. Kaito had jumped between them. Valette watched locked in terror how the boy was grabbed inches before her. She could hear her daughter cry out for him, and to moments later even join the fight. That was after she saw the boy being flung to the side like some limp piece of prey. Arlette, no!!, she thought, their spat momentarily forgotten. Watching how her daughter was braver than her. It was strange what that primal fear did to the matriarch, not being able to do anything out of fear. Valette wasn't really seeing anymore. Her locked muscles trembling and not being able to move.

Then Nanook rushed out of the den behind her, though Valette wasn't entirely aware of that. Her pulse was racing and her breathing was shallow. She was starting to feel weak when a command was shouted at her. Protect them. It was the right nudge to snap her out of her shock. Though, the field before her was not a pretty sight. Arlette's fur more red than white. Kaito slumped against the tree. Nanook... Her fearless sister attacking the cougar. Blood everywhere. The female almost relapsed back to shock. Protect them. Protect them. Nanook was protecting her the least she could do was protect hers, no, their pups. She had promised Nanook to look after them.

Valette's shakily limbs made her way to the den. She wasn't sure how but she was moving. Guilt settled next to that fear. She entered the den moved instantly over the four pups. Her body low into a crouch position. Her face towards the entrance of the den. Her limbs still trembling, but she would do what she had to do. For her sister. She was the last in line, if it came to that. She blocked the entrance, she had to be brave. But she was faced with the harsh reality that in this moment she was not brave at all. Not like Kaito and Arlette, she had been awful to them. And now? Did it even matter? No. Valette realized how vain and spiteful she had been. Tears welled up in her eyes. She might lose all of them tonight. She swallowed thickly. She had to do better.

there was another part but I think I will save it for my next post <3

June 11, 2020, 08:38 PM
Approved Members

Reality blurred in the moments that passed, between what was worldly, and what was not of this world. He was still not dead enough to feel the bliss of Heaven's healing, and still too much alive to want to go there yet.

His wounds ached with a pain he never even knew existed. Excruciating. Agonizing, and he closed his eyes, his voice, quite wordless, emitting only as the high pitch of a whine. Wanting to let go, wanting to hold on. Not for him, but for her. For her, always for her.

What would she do when he was gone? What would he do, without her?

He tried to move, to get up, to help, but he couldn't. He couldn't feel much beyond the pain, didn't know if he could move anymore. The sound of the fight raged on, and he closed his eyes from the sight.

Waited, maybe, for death to come.

What came instead was a presence. Comforting, and soft, and familiar. His eyelid fluttered open, the one that could still open, and the setting sun washed Arlette in a stark, yet magnificent light.

"Lette." His eyes pinched in sorrow and something happy, to simply see her safe, and a warmth spread along the curve of his lips, lifting upward in a smile that seemed torn between relief and agony. Relief, because she was alive -- right? -- and here with him. Agony, because even with his blurring vision and the darkening shadows, he could make out the crimson stains smeared across her face, blood and pain he wished he could wipe away. "You...we're s'ppose'd t'run..." he tried to tease, but his voice felt rough, and hoarse in his throat, and his words faded to the pitch of a whine again.

It hurt, it hurt, gosh, it hurt so much, but he had so little energy to say even that. He closed his eyes, but some part of him could still see. It made sense, and none at all. Arlette hunched over him, but he could not hear her, not very well. The cougar, now dead. A limp shape of a sterling wolf beside it. His heart turned.

"Don't look so upset. I am not there anymore."

The voice startled him, and that was when he saw her: Nanook -- dead, but alive -- a comfort, and a fear. "Please," he did not know Nanook, not very well, but he knew Arlette had loved her. "Please." He knew he was dying, but he didn't know how. As much as he knew what waited for him on the other side -- a much better life than the greatest life here -- he did not want to go of this. Did not want to let Arlette go, did not want to let their children go.

Gosh, it was all just a wretched mess!

Nanook seemed to consider him, then met him with a soft, and oddly knowing smile. "It is okay," she said, and turned from him. That was when he saw the other side. Like a veil being torn, the heavens seemed to unfold before him, above him, around him, and she stepped into the light. And that was when he saw her: Nanook, the same, but different. Not younger, not older, simply changed, in a twinkling and a way he knew but did not understand.

She had walked the same path as him, and he had never known! But he would have eternity to know her now -- and there came a comfort, in that realization that she had waited for him. That she had waited for him, like he had been her own, as her children, and as Arlette, had been.

Beyond her, now, others appeared -- those who had gone before him. And he did not recognize them from their faces, or their forms -- but he knew them, and knew them with a fervour and knowing, as though he had known them here on earth. The tallest one met him with a smile and that same look of knowing Nanook had given him before. That it was not easy, but it was okay. "Dad," he whispered, and he turned to see the others... oh no, oh no. "D'you -- d'you see? Them? Lette?" Oh, he knew she couldn't -- but how he wished Arlette could see!

In the dark and weighty world, he did not look to Arlette again -- he could not turn away from them, saw her, in their faces -- but he managed to move his leg and reach out, to touch her, one last time. To brush the soft fur along the side of her swollen abdomen.

"They're safe," he whispered, with a coherence that comes before life slips completely away, "they're okay. You'll be okay." He did not know if she would be okay, but the One had given them each other, if even for this little while, and for this significant reason: that they might live, and laugh, and dream, and know happiness, and know sadness, and learn something of love and forgiveness together, that even now, she might know what loving someone truly was. He had loved her. He loved her still. And he had been faithful, and faithful to the end. And he hoped -- prayed -- that he would, one day, see her again. But that was not in his hands.

The light in his eyes began to fade. He felt this coming, and he tried to press one last word for her. One last thing, he hoped she would carry. The One had afforded him that grace -- but here, his words began to slur. He tried to say something about the One, that he was safe now, and protected from harm. And he said all these things, in that awkward space between life and death, but his words slurred, and the only coherent one that trembled from his lips was, "Forgive."

Then, his earthly voice broke entirely, and he stilled.

A new voice sounded as Kaito rose from the ground, and left the temporal world behind. A sound like a million waterfalls, cascading one over the other, and springing from the heights; a voice, which made his feet feel like they could jump along the mountain heights and never grow weary, which made a song rise in his chest, and bubble out in joyful declaration.

The One laughed with him -- a far more beautiful sound than he had ever imagined -- and He welcomed him home, to this place of rest and worship before the One he had worshipped and longed for here on earth. And as Kaito caught up to Nanook, she laughed with him -- brother and sister in the faith, though neither had known -- and they bounded together toward his father, his children, and the One he had waited his entire life to see.
June 12, 2020, 11:22 AM
Saints Of The Dying Light
Arlette felt her vision start to darken around the edges. She struggled against the big cat to get freed. She could feel its claws sink in her shoulder. She cried out desperately. Another cramp going through her belly. Then the weight was off her, pain shooting through her as the pressure was released. The claws scraped over her ear and one side of her face. She barely felt it with the adrenaline going through her. A relief went through Arlette's body as she tried to stand. She realized how dizzy she was due to the lack of air and she couldn't put any weight on her left front side.

Still, all the female wanted was to get to Kaito. She limped, dragged, and wiggled her way to Kaito despite the pain. "Kaito," she breathed, feeling out of breath and light-headed. She barely registered what was happening with the cougar. She had to go to him. She stumbled before him and started to cry. "Kaito," she whined and brought her nose close to him. He looked, unwell. How was she to fix this while she was ripped open herself? Tears continued to run down her cheek. "I had to help, you know me," she returned with a soft sob. She watched Kaito, and how he closed his eyes. She let out a whine and nudged him with her nose. "Kaito, stay with me," she urged, her voice sounding worried.

She whined loudly when the male started to call out 'please'. She tried to regain contact with him, but he seemed gone. His eyes, like they weren't seeing her. She crawled even closer, pain shooting from her neck and shoulder through her body. Each movement a reminder that she was injured. The physical was a good reminder that she was still here and alive. She didn't want to feel this pain, as another pain was settling over her heart. Just like with her other wounds it hurt with every heartbeat. She was going to lose him. She ached as she pushed her good paw against him. "You have to live!," she begged. "Please live," she added in a desperate whisper.

A heartbreaking sob came from her lips as Kaito mentioned his Dad. At least he had found him, but she knew that that would mean he was going to leave her. Kaito was dying. She couldn't even phantom what he was seeing. She tried to lift her head in agony but wasn't seeing what Kaito was seeing. Her eye was drawn to Nanook taking down the cougar. Arlette tried to swallow sob and took in a shaky breath. It didn't soothe anything. Kaito had done so much for her. Her muzzle moving to the male's ear. The female nodded minimally. "Yes, I see him," she whispered to him, barely holding it together, knowing that she would be unable to save the male. "Why..." She couldn't help but let a sob escape. "Why don't you go with him...," she managed to let out. She had to look away, vision obscured with tears.

There was one last moment of clarity, in which the male said something she didn't understand, but she related it to Kaito seeing his father, and perhaps others of his family he had missed while he was here with her. She buried her face into his familiar fur. He was slipping away from her. He told her to forgive. She wasn't mad at him. She couldn't be, ever. As her face was buried in his fur, she could just feel the moment that her beloved Kaito left her. The female let out a gasping sob as she was hit with the realization that Kaito was no longer. The floodgates opened as she felt like the sole survivor of a battlefield. Three dead bodies sprawled around her, her mother nowhere to be seen. The loud ugly sobs came and continued as she mourned the loss. Not only Kaito but also her aunt. Sobbing howls filled the air, pure pain echoed throughout Easthollow.

She winced between her sobs as she felt a stab in her belly once more. Now she looked there were no punctures or wounds. Oh no. She leaned against Kaito, his body still warm, just how it was at night when he was snuggled against her. For a moment, she could just imagine that he was still here with her. She started to push on instinct and breathing labored. Why now? She just cried out as the first pup was pushed out. The female was in too much pain to go look, but there were no sounds. She closed her eyes. Arlette had not felt them move in a while. Her nose told enough, the smell wasn't one of the living. She continued wanting this terrible night to be over. The next followed. It was clear she lost these pups earlier than this night. Perhaps she unconsciously already knew. Were they the ones mentioned by Kaito?

The tears had stopped by now. The female breathing was shallow as she just stared before her. A few hours ago she was so extremely rich, rich with love. She had not registered it, and now, she had lost it all. She was left in this dark world, all alone. Death surrounding her. Arlette was completely zoned out for anyone, or anything that was happening around her. If new wolves had come she had not noticed. Her face slack and void of any emotion as she was lost in her own darkness, looking at images that had been or could have been.

He had been good for her but clearly they were not meant to be, not even their children.

Thread is now open to all Easthollowers
June 12, 2020, 12:50 PM
Approved Members

Taktuq woke suddenly, stirring as Nanook abruptly disappeared. Bed-headed and bleary-eyed, she slowly lifted her head and watched in confusion as her mother fled from their den. "Buh...?" Taqtuk called after, realizing that she and her brothers were alone. Sleepily, and quite unsteadily, she pushed herself onto all fours and slunk towards the cave's entryway. It wasn't like Nanook to leave them alone, and the fact that she had spoken so firmly indicated to the young girl that something was wrong

She didn't get far from her brothers; Valette abruptly entered the den, temporarily stealing her attention. Taqtuk followed her aunt to where she and her siblings had been sleeping. There was an odd smell that clung to Valette, which she did not recognize, and she began to sniff gingerly to investigate. 

Screams sounded in the middle of her study, and she craned her next towards the den's entrance, and her ears lowered; her previous suspicions were solidified. "Bah...?" she asked, glancing up at Valette's underside. She had yet to smell any blood, but she followed up with a softer remark when she did. "... La?" Taktuq's words meant little, but her tone translated their meaning: "What's going on?" 

It was then that Taktuq remembered that Nanook had rushed off to where the smell originated, and she grew suddenly concerned. Something about the metallic tang of blood indicated to her that something was very wrong. Taktuq's fear grew exponentially, and tears began to gather in her eyes; she needed to see her mother and make sure she was okay

"...Muh... muh..." she began to babble, her voice rounded with sorrow. There was a word that Nanook had been telling them a day or so prior, one that Taqtuk knew would get her attention. "Muhhuuuuum!" she wailed; her first spoken word.

The accomplishment would fall on dead ears. Nanook was already gone.
June 12, 2020, 01:01 PM
Lone Wolves

It seemed, at first, to be a night like any other; Kallik was snuggled in with his siblings, wrapped in their mother's warmth and safety. His belly was full, and he was slowly drifting off to sleep, his thoughts already somewhere between coherent and dreaming. Flashes of the day played through his mind—the sunny afternoon they had spent just outside the den, the bright world around him that was just a little overwhelming still, and of course, the comforting figures in his life that brought him care and stability every day without fail. It had been a good life so far, and he wasn't even old enough to really appreciate it yet. 

An unfamiliar sound from outside the den woke the little bear with a start and a whimper. And then his warmth and safety was gone, outside the den before he could even register what was happening, her firm command making dread pool in his stomach for reasons he didn't understand. He sat up and cried out a little louder, confused by the sudden change in routine. The sounds outside only unsettled him further because he had never heard them before. The voices he heard were familiar but they sounded wrong—not the soothing, comforting tones to which he was accustomed. And although he couldn't understand what exactly was happening, fear and discomfort settled over him like ice cold water. He shivered in the moments that they were alone inside the den without the faculties to process what was happening just outside. But then suddenly there was a familiar scent, one he associated with food and contentment, and he toddled forward, desperate for the comfort he knew she would bring. He had come to know her as their other mother; they were lucky enough to have two, although he had only ever known a life with two and so was unaware of how lucky he had been. 

As Valette crouched over them protectively, he attached himself to her shaky front leg. He was still trembling himself, and so he thought her shaking was his. Still, he pressed into her as much as was physically possible, fretful whimpers escaping him every so often. He was confused and scared, and he could hear and smell strange things outside—it was all so wrong and so different from anything he had experienced in his short little life. But all he knew how to do was seek reassurance from his caretakers, and so that's what he did. Kallik eventually slumped down to the ground, his front half lay across Valette's front paw; he was frozen there, too overwhelmed by everything as he waited to feel normal again.

June 12, 2020, 01:22 PM
Lone Wolves

This time there was no foreboding feeling, or apprehensive tension. The first time she had left him he had sensed it coming. The Atausiq had ventured into the ice labyrinth to find nothing but blood and the scent of death. He had never found her body, never had a proper goodbye. She had simply been gone. But the ache she left behind had stuck Siarut to his very core, the pain in her wake had ruined him. And now... now it wouldn't be any different.

He hadn't been gone long. On the contrary Siarut had done his best to hurry. He knew that Valette was coming to see Nanook, and as always he hoped Arlette might join them. He hadn't spent much time updating himself on the pack situation, and so he had no idea that the young woman was pregnant. But he worried about her. So he had left early in the morning.

He carried a slight smile on his lips as he returned. The day had been slow and simple, just as he enjoyed it. The northern man could admit the south was making him soft. Slowly the man was coming out of his shell, enjoying the things he had never realized before. The man wasn't far when he caught the scent of the cougar. The smile slipped from his lips, and he froze for a moment, before terror gripped his heart. Taking off, Siarut arrived in mere seconds upon one of the most tragic scenes' he had ever seen.

The first thing he noticed wasn't Nanook. It was Kaito and Arlette. "My god." He took a few hesitant steps toward the girl, and yes she did in fact look like a girl. Her gaze cast far away, obviously extremely traumatized. He opened his mouth to speak to her, when he finally caught sight of her.

"Nanook?" He called softly, moving past the young lovers. He slowly approached his wife's prone form. "Nanook?" He called again more forcefully. His head dropped down to her own. There was blood everywhere, and Sia caught sight of the ghastly wounds the cougar had left on her. Agony gripped his heart.

Before stepping towards her had had known. He had known she was already gone. A strangled sob wrestled it's way free. She was gone. He would never hear her voice again, or see her smile. He would never sleep alongside her again, he could never dance with her again. It was over. He sobbed again, and shook his head. "No..." He whispered softly. "No..." The sobs came uncontrolled as he tried to speak around them. "NO!" He finally lost it. Collapsing to the ground beside her, his own pale pelt instantly soaked in the blood that littered the ground.

He curled around her. This wasn't right. This was supposed to be it. This was supposed to be their happy ending. They weren't supposed to suffer anymore. Life was supposed to be simple, and happy. They had everything. But suddenly the world was dropped from under him, and he was once again utterly alone. He couldn't think properly, couldn't even begin to acknowledge that Nanook was gone.

He knew that he should check on their children. But he was paralyzed by fear. What if something had happened to them? Were they dead too? Probably. He thought minutely. How was he supposed to go on without her? He couldn't do this without her. So he stayed right where he was, as if his will alone could bring her back. Bring back the mother of his children, the love of his life.

the worst part about loving someone... is the day that you lose them.

Inuttuk, Common

[Image: nsUn6t6.png?1]
{1/5} | {2/10}

June 12, 2020, 01:37 PM
Lone Wolves

She left swiftly. An occurrence he wasn't used to. They were still so young, that their mother very rarely left their side. So despite her firm warning, Selamuit had started the long expedition of wandering toward the entrance of the den. While he didn't know what the feeling was, worry settled in his stomach. A frown creased his brow, both in concentration and in concern. "Muh...." No sooner had the sound left his lips, then his aunt was rushing in. Distracted by her presence, he tottered back to his bundle of siblings.

She crouched over them. Her own demeanor was vastly different than anything he could understand, but he grew frightful. He whimpered softly. Instead of seeking out their mother, Selamuit settled alongside his brother Kallik. Both shaking.

The yells that echo'd outside the den greatly disturbing the boy. He even dared to take a step toward them. Curious and worried. But he didn't do anything else. Sela looked up at his aunt, scared.
June 12, 2020, 02:47 PM
West Tyree
Approved Members

West had been restless that evening. He had spent the day watching the herds, counting the numbers just like Valette had taught him, but his attention wasn't really on the beasts as it usually was. Instead, the woodland boy's thoughts drifted to Polaris. Shortly after they returned from their trip she had disappeared, perhaps she just wanted to travel alone, but he couldn't help but think she left. He thought she liked it here? Hadn't she wanted to make this her home? She had made it clear that she had no interest in seeing her father, at least not now and the boy couldn't blame her.

He sighed as he worked his way to his feet and begun pacing off towards the forest edge. Why hadn't she said goodbye? Clay had also left when they did as if he was the wind itself. Perhaps he would never have a true relationship with him, at least there was Newt....who still hadn't returned home. West let himself fall into the tall grass, rolling onto his back to gaze up just as he had with Polaris when they first met. Where were they all now? Emerald eyes shifted to the colors that were beginning to light up the sky as the sun decided the day was to come to an end. Were they looking at the same sight? A bit of warmth spread in his chest at the idea of he and the dove looking at the same sight, he was sure she was looking too.

His moment of bliss would not last long however as a cry echoed through the hollow. West's ears flicked at the sound, for a moment believing it was imagined, but soon came another. The boy rolled to his feet, careful to investigate in case he was barging in on a dispute between packmates. As he neared though the sounds only grew more intense and what lingered in the air was the heavy stench of something unfamiliar drowning in the metallic scent of blood. The scents were overwhelming to the point of putting him on alert, whatever was happening he could apologize for later, but no wolf should be bleeding that much.

Hurrying to the scene, the pieces quickly clicked together as the boy skidded to a halt. Bodies were strewn across bloodied grass. His eyes scanned quickly to identify those that had crumpled, Kaito, Arlette, Nanook —, and a large creature, unlike anything he had seen before. There was blood, so much blood. No, of course, it could never come from one wolf, it came from several. Something new shook the boy, it stirred him to hesitate as his sister and uncle cried into the night. West did the best he could to wipe the fear that had painted itself over his features, the threat appeared harmless now and with the cries that came from Siarut, West could only assume that his aunt was gone. That left Arlette and Kaito, though looking at the male's crumpled body he feared that the boy had met a similar fate.

West decided to go to Arlette, she was still alive but she was bleeding. The woodland boy had no knowledge when it came to healing so he did what came naturally. He was quick to lick at her wounds, the taste biting his tongue. It was then that he caught sight of the stillborn pups. West wasn't sure what to make of them, but it wasn't hard for him to understand that they too were gone. Tears pricked his eyes, but he would try to not let it show. For now, he would just focus on Arlette.
June 12, 2020, 04:51 PM
RIP Valette
Lone Wolves

Since there are so many we will work in rounds. This will be a new round. No posting order. You can post multiple times in a round just make sure there is at least 24 hours between your posts.

Valette didn't want to think what would happen out there, the what ifs. She turned her focus on the four children. "Don't you worry," she whispered, voice trembling. "Its alright-- It's alright." She wanted to tell them how their mother is such a badass and that soon, she would come to tell them all what a great protector she was. It would be such a good story. However, she didn't. The idea that she might promise them that Nanook would return, while she was not even certain that they all would survive. Nanook was the strongest and fiercest person she knew. Nanook was indestructible. She would live.

Valette could hear the sounds coming from outside. She flattened her ears. She decided to turn her attention to the children. They needed her. They should be protected, as she promised. She nosed over Taqtuk. "I know. I am here," she spoke. Finding more strength by thinking of those pups. She was not going to promise the child anything. The girl had her right to cry out for her mother. She didn't want to hush her. Valette tried to tune out the sounds outside as terrible as it was. She had to focus on the little ones and make sure that they had some support from her. She let out low woofs to the child to chime with her a bit.

She felt something by her paw and noticed little Kallik. "You are all being so brave," she hummed, starting to have her voice in a low comforting hum. She licked over the young male and kept her muzzle close for comfort. Selamuit joined and she nosed over him as well. Valette turned to Taktuq and to Ikiaq, nudging them close together. "Together is good," she assured. The pups probably didn't know this but they were giving the female comfort too by snuggling against her. "Together is strong," she kept speaking.

Outside the sounds silenced, and Valette was fearful that the cougar was coming to the den. She wasn't hearing anything, though perhaps sobbing? She wanted to look but didn't want to risk it. She stuck protectively over the children, waiting for that moment of terror that that cougar would stick his head in the den. That moment never came. Valette hoped that it would be Nanook who came back. Then she heard the cry for no, a male. It was Siarut. Valette heart clenched. Nanook. Her sister had to live. But her hope was crashing. She looked down at the children, eyes teared up at the thought. She didn't wish this on any child.

Valette listened. Silence had settled again. She woofed for Siarut, though she would not leave the den. Valette would not have those pups be alone for one second while they were terrified. She would be their support system. She had seen so many deaths over her years but knowing her sister might be gone was a tough blow to take. She also wondered about Arlette and Kaito. It was so silent. Where they? She shook her head in terror and woofed louder for Siarut. She had heard him, right? The cougar had to be dead or fled with this silence. She hoped it was dead.

June 12, 2020, 06:51 PM
Lone Wolves

The approach of West Tyree went unnoticed. Siarut didn't care. With the solid belief that his whole family had been slaughtered while he had spent the day away from them, Siarut had no other care in the world. He hardly realized his own sobs, or the shake that had set in, or his difficulty breathing. He didn't care.

But strangely one sound rocked him. Once call he picked up. Only because it didn't makes sense where it was coming from. Inside the den. His children weren't old enough to make such a sound, regardless of how much they tried. Slowly it dawned on him, Valette was coming to visit. The blood had masked her scent, but it was easier to pick up now that he truly thought about it. Confused and heartbroken, Siarut lifted his red rim gaze from his mates body. Swallowing roughly, he shakily got to his feet. Unable to mentally prepare himself to see what he could only assume was Valette's dying form.

But as his head crested the entrance, he was greeted with a miracle. The small whimpering of his child brought forth his own. "You're alive." He murmured. Scanning Valette quickly for injury, before focusing on his youngsters. "Come here. Come on. I'm here." Only a step into the dark den, he lowered himself to the ground. Wanting to be as close to them as he could. He couldn't bring himself to smile, but there was a little less tension between his shoulders. He couldn't look at the Matriarch. To emotionally distressed to think about communicating. He dreaded anything she might say, and almost hoped she wouldn't say anything.

Inuttuk, Common

[Image: nsUn6t6.png?1]
{1/5} | {2/10}

June 12, 2020, 10:37 PM
Lone Wolves

Something was wrong, and not in the way that Ikiaq usually felt like things were wrong. Not like he was just uncomfortable and uneasy, but that he was actually very scared and he wanted his mother. It wasn't Valette's fault that she could never match up to Nanook - it was Ikiaq's own reliance on his mother and his need for her to be nearby that was the problem. Nanook was pretty much everything to the boy, safety and comfort and security. He needed her, and while he liked his aunt okay, he did not appreciate her getting into his personal space like that. Nanook and Siarut, and his littermates, would be the only ones that he liked being touched by. 

The boy backed up and frowned, confused, and wrinkled his nose. That smell... this metallic tang... it was gross and thick and was wrong in every single conceivable way. And everyone was upset and things were so bad. So, so bad. 

"Nuh!" he argued against whatever was being said by his aunt, and tried to get to the entrance - his mother was out there! - but she was blocking his way. Blocking him from getting to his mother, who was outside with all these bad noises. Bad smells, bad everything. He knew it was bad out there. 

His dad's voice came from outside and Ikiaq let out a loud cry, wanting his attention and trying to get his parents - both of them - to come back. He needed them, needed Nanook so much. 

Baby blue eyes looked up when Siarut entered the den and he hurried to his father's paws, letting out a loud, confused whine. His body shook, terrified and confused and worried. He had no idea just how much this moment would define the rest of his life, down into his very core. How much weight the lack of Nanook would have in his life.
June 12, 2020, 10:58 PM
Lone Wolves

It grew increasingly quiet, and Selamuit strained to hear any noise outside the den. He jumped at his aunt's call, having not prepared for the sudden sound. He let out a tiny squeak, and quickly tried to clamber after Ikiaq as he stormed toward the entrance. It wasn't safe! He was worried too but they were to little.

Before the brothers could get to far, their father stepped into the space. His gentle words, summoning his four children. Ikiaq and Selamuit the first to reach him. Selamuit instantly burried his face into his fathers scruff, right under his chin. Enveloping himself in the man's scent. They would be safe with their father around, he was sure of it.
June 14, 2020, 10:16 AM
Approved Members

As it grew quiet, Taktuq began to feed off of Ikiaq's anxiety. Her heart began to race, and she glanced nervously between Valette and her brothers; any reassurance was futile, as she knew something was wrong. Nanook would have never ignored her call. 

Siarut arrived at just the right time. Turning towards the sound of his voice with a wide-eyed stare, Taktuq hesitated for a moment. Although she wanted nothing more than to press herself against him, she was too scared to move; whatever was going on might happen to her, too. It was only when Ikiaq and Selamuit moved that Taktuq found some bravery from within herself. She followed after them, scampering with her ears pinned to her head and her tail tucked between her legs. Taktuq began to whimper as she drew closer, as she felt she relieved for seeing one of her parents. 

When she arrived at Siarut's side, Taktuq laid and pressed herself against him. Not wanting to focus on anything else, she buried her face in his shoulder and focused on his scent—the only thing to truly comfort her then.
June 14, 2020, 01:47 PM
Saints Of The Dying Light
She was still staring ahead of her. She hadn't really registered Siarut, or how he fell by Nanook's body. She had closed herself off from anything that happened around her. She hadn't even registered her brother approaching until the steady nudges slowly worked her from her shock. She winced at the pain, but knew it was necessary if she wanted her wounds to be clean. The scratched side of her face turning to whoever was taking care o her. She thought it was Kaito, but she was met with disappointment. West.

Her eyes fell on the bodies she was beside, and had to close her eyes. She was reminded once more that they left her behind. Her eyes opened again, looking away. They were filled with hurt and pain. She let out a long whine as she lowered her head to the ground, accepting West his help. If she was left behind she rather not stay in pain. "Lick away from the wounds," she instructed, her voice mono tone and without any emotions.
June 15, 2020, 07:20 PM
West Tyree
Approved Members

The boy's silence was matched as he worked. In all honesty, he wasn't sure if he was even helping, West had never been a healer nor was it something that exactly interested him. He had paused at his sister's recoil, but she didn't seem to protest his action. She didn't look, nor did she say anything as the once snowy girl let her head drop to the earth with a whine. Soon though a response was earned, lick away from the wounds. The woodland boy wasn't sure how that made a difference, but Arlette had been practicing healing so he was in no place to question the order.

West would follow any further instructions he was given, quietly hoping someone with more experience would come along to take over for him, but based on the growing silence behind him he could only assume others were dealing with more serious conditions. The boy did his best to avoid looking over as a stone weighed in his stomach. It was hard to ignore the death that surrounded him, especially with how blood stained the earth now was, but looking at the lifeless forms beside him would only pull him further into the haunting thoughts that crept forth.
June 15, 2020, 10:44 PM
Lone Wolves

The sounds continued outside, and so did his trembling; it only lessened with Valette's soothing words and lick to the top of his head. He snuggled impossibly closer, another whimper escaping his lips as she continued to speak words he didn't understand. He could understand the way they made him feel, though, and he tried to let the soothing sound wash over him and ease his fear and confusion but it was hard to let it go in the moment. 

Things grew quiet outside, but Kallik barely registered it; he was too lost in his fear and too overwhelmed by everything to be able to pick up anymore about his surroundings. That was until papa's voice came from the den entrance. It was what he had unknowingly needed the whole time but now that he was here, Kallik's limbs became unfrozen and he pushed himself up from the ground and toddled forward. 

He pressed himself into the fur of his father's chest the second he was close enough to do so. He wanted to bury himself in that spot until everything he was feeling melted away. It wouldn't be so easy, he would learn soon, but it did help some. He whimpered against the fur that now enveloped him and then slumped back to the ground.

June 16, 2020, 04:30 PM
Lone Wolves

2nd post

Relief flooded him when he was finally able to curl around all four of his children. Siarut shielded them as best he could from the den entrance, leaving little room for Valette to exit. With Sela, Kallik, Taktuq, and Ikiaq pressed against him, Siarut was suddenly overwhelmed by pity in conjunction with his agony. Even though his words stuck in his throat he knew he had to warn Valette before she made to exit the den. He couldn't imagine seeing Taktuq in the state Arlette was currently in. A shudder ran along his spin, and he comfortingly nosed Taktuq to reassure himself she was just fine. And still his baby girl.

"Val..." He couldn't look at her, to grief struck and heartbroken, but he knew he owed her a warning at least. For the protecting them as she did. But how could you prepare someone for the carnage that rested outside. There were no words....he raised his head and locked eyes with her. "You umm... I — don't..." Sia couldn't be sure what the Matriarch had seen before coming into the den. "I'm sorry." Was all he could offer with the shake of his head, "Arlette — s-she needs you Val." More than he did at this moment. He was here for his children, and now she needed to be with hers. Guilt rippled through him at that thought... no he hadn't been there for them. Nanook had. But he should have been. How was he supposed to live with that.

Inuttuk, Common

[Image: nsUn6t6.png?1]
{1/5} | {2/10}

June 16, 2020, 05:22 PM
RIP Valette
Lone Wolves

Wanted to do a new round after five days but eh, NEW ROUND!

Valette watched as Sia came in and was greeted by his children. It was a good sight to see. They clearly needed their dad. Valette could wish that the pups would find support by her as well, but she knew that she wasn't their mother, and that they were in shock. She was just glad all four were safe, and not outside. It was eerily silent. By the way Sia looked, and what she heard before she knew enough. Nanook passed. She could feel a tear roll down her fur.

Now the pups had their dad she felt that she had done her job, for now. She nodded at Sia, her heart leaping as Arlette needed her. That meant she was alive. "It is okay, Sia. Be with your children," she spoke, sounding so calm. She climbed from the den and felt her heart sink. Nanook's body right by the cougar. Valette's heart started to beat faster when seeing the cougar even though it was dead.

She felt so helpless when seeing her sister. She stepped closer, carefully, and then saw the smile on Nanook's face. Valette inhaled and shook her head lightly, warily of the cougar. She felt it could jump up and attack her again. "Goodbye, my fierce Sister," she whispered and planted a nuzzle on her brow. She would need her own stone. They would need to bury the death, and move that cougar. Valette's eye then fell on West and Arlette. The matriarch trotted towards them. "Arlet--" she stopped halfway when her eyes fell on the motionless pups. "Oh no,' she whispered.

Her heart jerked as she knew what it was like to lose pups. And Arlette? She had none. Valette felt awful for condemning her. Her eyes traveling to Kaito, he had been so silent. Her pour daughter. "Arlette, I'm so sorry," she started with a whine. This was the worst thing that could happen. She never wished for her daughter to lose her mate and her children. She was mad for having them but... never... she would never have wanted this for her. Valette stepped closer to Arlette's face, ready to help lick her wounds like West was doing. She looked at him with pride  and gave him a nod of approval.

Before she started to lick Arlette though Valette howled to @Greyback to let him know to come quick. She needed him here. Then she howled to @Oryx she was a healer and this was a good moment to help her new family out. The Matriarch stepped closer to Arlette. "West, I will take it from here. Can you check if the others are alright. Like your grandpa for example. Tell them what happened. We will need some able bodies to--- to move their bodies to the circle," she instructed to him. Reminded that she would never see her alive sister again. But also thinking about Arlette who lost not only her mate, her aunt, but also her children. Valette stepped closer to lick the scratches on her face.[/b]

June 16, 2020, 07:55 PM
Lone Wolves

He was left alone with his children, whom he was still protectively wrapped around. Did they even know what was happening? Did he want them to understand? Or was it better they remain ignorant until they were older, until they could properly comprehend the sacrifice their mother had made. His eyes squeezed shut, his frame shook with his sobs. "What do we do now?" Siarut whispered to his pups, knowing they couldn't understand him. "I'm sorry." He breathed, his breath coming in short shallow breathes.

"God." His eyes opened again, and he watched them as they cowered against him. They were his last connection to her. This was all that was left. His heart broke all over again, torn between unimaginable anger and immense gratefulness. He would never lose her, not completely. But he would be constantly reminded of her. Everyday, whenever he saw his children he would be reminded of what happened today.

He suddenly realized how filthy he was. His pelt was covered in not only their mothers blood, but also the creature that killed her. He flinched, hard. He was coherent enough when he came into to expose his cleaner side to them, but still. He felt as if he was already ruining them, dirtying them. Again he wondered, how can I do this on my own.

Inuttuk, Common

[Image: nsUn6t6.png?1]
{1/5} | {2/10}

June 16, 2020, 08:08 PM
Firefly Glen

Leta had been working on becoming braver. 

Doing so meant patrolling, now and then, and that was what she was doing. She felt that @Nanook would be very proud of her, fierce as she was, and mother and father too when they realized. All along her patrol, Leta had been thinking about a tawny boy and the shade of his emerald eyes and their conversation. He had dreams for himself, and she... she did not really have any. Not for herself anyway. Not before then. But now she dreamt of him sometimes, and them together, and also, of the stars. 

But such dreams could not be reality until she was that person she wanted to be: braver. And she would work long and hard at it until she was. Admittedly, she was a little nervous at the borders... it felt like something had gone wrong already, and the closer she came to one particular location, the more she felt out of control of her own legs. Leta had not revisited the spot in her lifetime, but her vision felt blurry all of the sudden. 

Inexplicable, all this strangeness, and she swallowed thickly as she felt heat rise well past her throat, to her ears!...

They rang, but blessedly still worked. She could hear a commotion that pulled her away from this, and Leta found her legs running without her even thinking on it too long. What she arrived to was much worse than what she had fled, if only because here were things she would never, ever forget. 

What was worse than being hurt? Seeing those that you loved, splayed before you, bloody, bleeding, beaten—

Her eyes landed firstly upon Nanook. Valette stood there, and Leta sprang to her side; she could not hear the whispered goodbye, but as her mother stepped away, Leta looked upon unearthly stillness. She needs help, she breathed, confused, and then her gaze shifted to Kaito. He was just as still, t-they need help... she murmured, voice faint.

And then her gaze was upon the cougar, its gaze glassy and empty. Blood on its teeth. Her aunts blood. Kaito's blood. Her gaze turned to Arlette, bleeding too, and her own breathing became labored. Aunt Nanook, she whispered, lowering her muzzle, how can I help? How can I help you? she asked, crouching low and nosing her. 

Limp. Why was she so... blood on her, now, Nanook's blood, but... eyes, eyes like the cougar, glassy, she wasn't moving, and Leta whispered, voice a little higher, aunt Nanook?... her hazel eyes darting on the crowd around her. What do I do? What do I do?

Her ears pricked to hear her mother say, The Circle, and it struck her then. Leta nearly reeled backward when she heard the voice of her aunt with resounding clarity: 

Be strong. 

Her gaze looked to her mother, with West and with Arlette. Having not heard her mother send off her brother, Leta offered one last nudge to her aunt, trusting then that she could be seen. Believing, with all of her heart, that she was. I love you, she whispered faintly, I love you so much, and... and I am going to say that more. I wish... I could have helped, she continued, but I will now. I will be better

Unafraid as she could be, even with some fear in her heart. She stood and darted toward her mother with flattened ears, though paused when she noted that Kaito was not so still as she had thought. Thinking he might be able to saved yet (young and naive as she was), and although she was about to whisper to him an overwhelming feeling seized her and bid she move on. So, she continued toward her mother, not daring to look back, and asked, what can I do? 

Be strong, Nanook had said; her voice did not tremble as she asked.
June 17, 2020, 12:14 AM
Lone Wolves

Uneasy throughout the day, a weariness unrecognisable settled over him. Something was amiss, he could feel it in his bones. Antsy, the elder paced the land, anticipating something of a mystery. Perhaps it was this building discomfort, the weariness already experienced, that caused him to answer his daughter’s call for her mate; in the back of his head, there was an urging. Although he could not place it, could not determine the origin, he thought he might be able to write off his arrival as the antics of an aging mind, if unwanted. Yet, when the distance between himself and them was lost, when the sight unfolded before him, he could not grasp it.

Blood hit his nose first, then sight—the sight of the bodies, canine and feline alike. Even from afar, his heart began to sink, one body, in particular, more familiar than the others. Perhaps, in the back of his mind, he knew already what he was walking into. Perhaps, unknowingly, he was aware—but that awareness was not enough. Nothing was enough to prepare him for seeing one of his daughters, bloodied and lifeless.

Those others there, the scene in its entirety, did not fully register with him—not yet. His focus remained on Nanook, on what was left of her, gaze unable to be torn away. Was it sadness he felt or was it rage? Perhaps it was both—sorrow for the life that was taken away from her far too early, and anger towards the beast that did it. Anger that he tried to hold onto, anger that he tried to let swallow his grief, anger that failed him… it faded as swiftly as it came, leaving behind only tears. His heart clenched within his chest, a sharp pain shooting outwards throughout his being—

Parents were not made to outlive their children.