Moonsong Glacier kasuutiruk ‡
Moonglow

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mira had been missing for eight days now. like the others, the duck had forayed as far as she dared. in the chaos of both the girl's departure, and her own son's short foray outside moonspear, along with revui's need for constant application of her medicines — it had driven her meeting with @Arcturus lower in focus.

her mind now cut between mira and the future for saviguk. snows soon to come, and many of their young wolves gone to claim the glen at the proud feet of the mountain. her ice crystal was taller now, readied for hunts and honed by his beginning attempts at roaming. kukutux wondered then if jarilo would be against sending saviguk to run with the yearling wolves in the extended claim of moonspear's kith. 

a slick of ice, and kukutux breathed to see it. the reminder of the glacial ledges where her mother had once led she and her sister. a blink; she thought of aiolos, of the boy who perhaps would be ugi to sialuk — and then slipped to arcturus once more. how did he fare? she had meant to meet him again, her brood in tow, but — a breath that melted white into the air and the snow-wife was climbing, jaw tensed against some unexplainable emotion.
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speak of the devil, and he doth appear -- six months it had been, or some in change, since arcturus had seen kukutux. he thought of her often -- of her children, of jarilo -- of their last meeting before his coward-heart had taken hold.

and still, any thought he had of her was stuttered, shuffled, put aside -- not out of disdain but out of fear and cowardice; he had chosen his path, and now his mind wandered back to the what-ifs like a selfish, vainglorious fool. ahh -- but what if?

he'd departed from wraen and maia under the aim to scout, but his errand was short lived as he came across her scent. the presence of it chilled him; it slowed the beating of his heart -- until wordlessly he was climbing after kukutux, his breath in smoky white plumes against a high and pristinely cold sky.
when you come down to take me home
send my soul away
Moonglow

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claws scored the face of the ice. kukutux felt herself meld to it, for her body remembered how it had always been in the land of her birth, and a lightness filled her chest. eventually the duck came to a flatter promontory, and with breath rising in a column from her slim throat, kuktutux turned —

the sun made harsh by the pale field glinted upon his tall proud form, a shadow that grew legs and became flint against the landscape. kukutux' voice faded in her throat; she waited in silence for arcturus to draw close before fixing him with a solemn look. "this woman has sorrow that she did not keep her word to this man." careful now, to be so formal, and yet an intimacy in it, as if the word 'you' and the word 'i' tethered the duck too tightly.
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congrats on 600!! i reccommember when kukutux was but a wee lass

warmth and smiles had never been their thing, yet arcturus was arrested by the solemn beauty that cloaked kukutux. he drew to a stop wordless besides her, waiting for her quiet voice to fill the cold cracks of the empty mountain air.

oh - was that it? arcturus' brow furrowed. he had not sought her, either. their lives were like a river, slugging ever onwards. no turning back. no deviation from the path. "what's wrong?" the mountaineer pressed, brushing aside her comment -- for as sorrowful as a lost chance of a meeting had been, he did not believe that to be the source of the heaviness which cowled her features.
when you come down to take me home
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Moonglow

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thank u! ur helped a lot yk <3

her mouth opened, but no sound emerged; closing it as first throat constricted and then her gaze tightened, tightened, and at last broke on the end of a sob. the duck turned at once from the hunter, biding it down, begging the sorrow not to force tears from her sight. 

"revui has come back." the night they had discovered him, and moonspear standing about his feverish body with only interest and hostility. kukutux knew not the sum of what he had done, only that in her heart she had never understood why he was kept so aside from them all. "i know you must have hardness in your heart for him, arcturus," she swallowed; aya, losing now the battle with her tears, "but he is sick. he will not wake. his fever, it — my medicines cannot —" words cutting aside, as the duck's expression adopted a stark desperation she had not allowed herself to show before the flintwolf. 

"and you —" an inhale, and she could not keep the streams from traversing her pale face, "i have hardness in my heart that you are away. i know you must be. i know that is how we must live now. but you were there first when i came," voice splintering at the front of her throat, "and i —" unable to speak further, shame welling between the broken places of her confession, shame and then guilt swiftly followed by horror, but kukutux could not tear her eyes from arcturus, not in this time.

not even when the last she had seen him, it had been to watch him run from her.
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he was not ready. not for the sob which choked the duck, not for the news which spilled from her lips in an unwelcome current.

his brother. arcturus' lips twisted in a grim line; hardness in his heart was an understatement. even if he was ill, even if he was on his deathbed -- arcturus had no brother.

no family on moonspear, either.

but he did not speak of this. he knew it would wound kukutux to new grief that she did not deserve.

that her own heart was heavy by his absence caused great discomfiture in the man, who had largely acted of his own foolish pride and selfish notions until the moment he had met wraen. and then, foolish as these actions may have been, he had acted most in duty with love. love, he would not regret.

"it has all changed." arcturus' voice was gravelly, bucked deeply by the distress shown in his companion. "and it will continue to change. that is life. you can't fix --" he took in a breath -- me -- "it." not even her best wares could raise the dead, change revui, or revert arcturus' past. what was done was done. there was only one path forward. out.

"would it be better for your heart if i was back at moonspear?" arcturus inquired softly, feeling guilt and anger welt him. many nights, the mountaineer had pondered his choice. he had spurned and hurt kukutux before he had ever learned to love her -- and for that, he carried many regrets.

but he did not regret leaving moonspear. "it would be harder if i was there. you --" me -- his gaze flickered with shame. he did not trust his own control over his impulses. how many times had he thought of just reaching out to her -- when she had first bathed his wounds, he'd bitterly cursed that she was jarilo's and not his... but his brother (the one arcturus had not disowned) did not deserve such discord. "it would be a matter of time." arcturus admitted darkly, liking neither the jealousy that made home in his heart, nor the strange guilt that wormed its way into his mind at the thought of abandoning wraen.
when you come down to take me home
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Moonglow

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a matter of time? "yes," and she swallowed a welter of salt, "but it would not be good for your own." she must relinquish him; aya, aya; the gentle crying in her spirit that went on and on. something behind his eye; something caught in his throat; some sharp-edged pebble he must cough up and into her waiting palms, poison bitten from his veins.

"do i keep you from moonspear, arcturus?" clutching at the threads of an unsaid missive; he had turned his back upon her the moment he abandoned the mountain with wraen. and sworn her to secrecy before; all in protection of someone for whom he would uproot his legacy, and that of hydra? suppose he had won that day, suppose she had been killed or stepped back for the sake of her children? how long would it rest upon his heart?

kukutux felt her own turn to wormwood; you resting heavily upon the bone-seat of her soul. and she gazed into the quiet gold of his eyes, spinning into a thousand silken threads

i must release you

you must let go of him

— a breath drawn, lips trembling. "what is this time? what is this matter? are you more content for being away? i look upon your face, arcturus, and i do not see that you are."
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what good was any of this, for either of them? any time arcturus looked upon kukutux, he vividly felt and saw conflict. conflict of life and love, of duty and dreams. she was the walking portal to a world he would never have -- could never have -- and to glance upon that shimmering reflection of that distant, dual reality was to invited demons in.

he loosened a careful, long sigh. "no. what keeps me from moonspear was there the day i was born." before kukutux, before even his father and mother's death.. control kept him from moonspear.

he could sense in the duck a grave change. her face and lips quivered, and new energy distilled into her voice. "am i happy?" he felt a stir of anger against his breast -- why did she need to question his happiness? what about her own? how could she be happy, on that wretched and godforsaken rock? "i am happier now, than i was when i lived in your place." arcturus' voice regained some semblance of tranquility, though his tone remained hard. "but you are unhappy also. why? has not my sister given you a safe place to lay your head, a husband to share your bed -- and do you not have children, to warm your heart and home?" arcturus had none of that -- some by choice, some by fate -- and he could not conceal the subtle wound kukutux had delivered by questioning his own happiness when hers hung treacherously on the balance.
when you come down to take me home
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Moonglow

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arcturus did more than warn her in a man's way back from the boundary she had crossed; he questioned directly the sensation that had lain unaddressed in her heart. for a long moment her gaze was barren, shocked; 

did you not wish for this?

and then, a woman gathering a thick covering around her head, the duck's expression became clouded, intangible. she turned it away from the stone-brother, stung by his knowledge of what she had not meant to show. chastisement in the edge of his throat. happiness was not definable for kukutux. she was pleased to be an industrious and fruitful wife.

an intelligent woman knew not to chase the colors in a summer rain.

"yes. she has given me all these things. i am bound to her for the rest of my seasons now." straightening like a pale willow, voice remaining soft, thoughtful. "i will not seek you out again, arcturus. i will not be a reminder of moonspear." 

if he did not move to obstruct her way, the duck would move down the slope into the weald beyond, shoulders held proudly until she had left the sight of his eyes.
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once more, arcturus had unwittingly -- or perhaps wittingly so -- wounded the duck. he watched as her expression changed, in the way a sunlit dale would go from bright green to cheerless grey under cloud cover. he had been the genesis of said emotions. he did not know whether to laugh or sob -- either way, each emotion came with its own bitter shard pressed to his heart.

were all relationships so rocky? he felt the entire ground was laced with invisible ice; one treacherous step, and he was swept away out of his control.

how was he to navigate her thorny heart, when half the time there were hidden pitfalls and wicked briars just waiting to snare him?

she straightened her willowy spine, her body gone from supple to cold. arcturus did not move as she made to leave. if that was her choice, he would let her pass.

arcturus had no response for the finality in which kukutux delivered her last words. if that was how she wished for their life to go, that was how it would be.

the mountaineer swallowed the rough lump which clawed at his throat. he did not understand what had just transpired, and thus remained rocked to stupefied silence as kukutux faded away.
when you come down to take me home
send my soul away