Blacktail Deer Plateau this world is only gonna break your heart
Private  November 05, 2020, 08:52 AM
Citation from lyrics of "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. @Arcturus

Don't return to resolve things in anger - had been Wraen's mantra for the past couple of days after the grand show-down between her and Kukutux (side-note - she still had no idea, who she had spoken with, but the narrator has run out of feminine alternatives) and rather than bolting straight back to the plateau to confront the culprit of it all, she had remained in the wilds. First she had planned to stay out only for an evening and then it had stretched into few days. 

There was a lot to sort out and in the beginning she found herself sitting amidst a complete chaos of things, not knowing, where to begin. Though the first and most important thing that emerged was her and Maia's safety. Wraen regretted telling the madwoman that she had a sister at all. A liability, though on the second thought - without knowing, what the sibling looked like - as long as it remained so - she was safe. The only thing to do was to warn her and decided from there, what to do. 

Strategist in her came up with the next logical step to create a safety network for them. She thought about Bronco, who was part of Moonspear now (she did not know that he was in a new pack), and how she could talk to him, share, what was going on and ask to keep an open ear and eye to the shift in the air, if such appeared. Then she thought about her former packmates, who had recently relocated. Phox had seemed cordial enough, Towhee - she hoped that they had left on good terms. She would hear her out, she would have a different insight. So plan number two - was to seek those people around here, who were her friends still. 

The knowledge that she was not completely alone in this warmed her heart and gave her some relief. Therefore she could turn to that big box of unknown contents with the name "Arthur" written on it. Again, rather than delving in the emotional stuff first, she decided that if there was a person, who could put that Moonspear lady in place, it was him. Death threats should not be taken lightly and though she hated to stand between him and, whatever friends he had still got out in the world, he would have to choose one over the other. If he insisted on keeping an ongoing relationship with that lady, Wraen wanted nothing more to do with him. 

It was a cruel decision, keeping in mind all that the ghost had implied about his feelings for her. But then... she could not forgive him for telling the whole world (exaggeration - true, but keep in mind she was annoyed) and not being honest with her. That she should suffer more of such attacks because for one reason or another he preferred to banter with everyone else but her. Yes - he was shy and reserved, the right words did not come easy, but Wraen believed that she had always been patient and understanding with him, and therefore she felt not so much betrayed as disappointed. 

Once she reached the edge of the plateau, she tipped her head back and howled for her friend. They needed to talk.
November 05, 2020, 09:08 AM
arcturus had not missed that wraen had been gone; at first he simply assumed it was because she was looking for maia. he spent most of his own waking hours doing the same -- but when she did not come back to their rendezvous that night, arcturus began to worry.

in the morning he set out among the mist and the cold. much of wraen's scent was lost to the wild, but the scratch-meal clues he found were enough to piece together her voyage. mid inspection of a clump of bushes, arcturus heard a howl he knew all too well. he began to run, hopeful and grinning that she had found maia.

only to find wraen alone, with an aspect about her he had not seen before. the smile fell away, but still arcturus greeted his friend warmly, wondering if she had called him for another round of storytelling.

after all, much of rau's fable had yet to be woven.
November 05, 2020, 09:22 AM
There had been moments during Wraen's voluntary absence, when she had played out those grand scenarios in her mind, what would and could she say, how she would prove her point, express her anger, bitterness and hurt. Those were grand words, speeches that could go down in history. Her imagination at its finest. Sentences that would give her a moment of shining glory at the expense of the other person being crushed and taken aback. Yet same way in the war there are no winners, only those, who have lost a little less, when it came to important conversations in life, you could not act on an impulse. Say words that would push people away and make you regret them later. 

Therefore, when Arthur finally came, happy to see her return, some of the ugly doubts that the white ghost had planted in her dwindled away. She knew just by looking at him and knowing him for almost two years now, that he may keep some things to himself, but he was incapable of lying or not being honest. He was as you saw him be. Therefore she knew that in order not to break anything, she would have to walk this slippery path very carefully. One wrong step and she would fall in the abyss of losing everything. And disappointed she may feel now, her regard for him as a friend was still high. 

Yet she did not make a move to greet him, preferring to sit down and watch him in silence for while, before finally saying: "Arcturus, why don't you tell me a story. About, why are you really here?"
November 05, 2020, 09:35 AM
in the moments that followed, what struck arcturus the most was that wraen did not greet him in the manner he'd become accustomed: that soft brush of a cheek, the gentle wave of her tail.

all absent.

arcturus felt as if a glacier lurked in his veins: the dull thud of his heartbeat against his ears, as if he were held under an icy current. he wrestled with trying to decipher both what was unsaid and said; rather than greet him, wraen elected to sit down and study him in a silent spell that felt as if it were an eternity. under her gaze he felt his confidence, his warmth, his happiness all stripped away to reveal nothing but uncertainty and worry.

what did she mean, a story about why he was really here? his mouth gaped helplessly as he worked through the thousand ways he could answer that. the hundred ways that he could say one wrong thing and feel this sudden, fragile line between them break.

so he went with the truth, as naked and bare as he had ever been and felt. feeling hurt she could be so cold, so suddenly (did she blame him for maia disappearing?). feeling stung, that she could question why he was here when he had only ever made it obvious -- that it would always be her, it had always been her and no move or gesture he had ever done would sully that. how could she even question that, sitting there so primly as if she did not house ice in her own blood?

arcturus fell away, drawn to his own defeatist crouch before the burn of her stare: "for you."
November 05, 2020, 10:00 AM
"Fair enough," Wraen accepted his answer and was glad that he had not gone out in a verbal spell, declaring his undying love to her and other nonesense that sounds great, when you put it in a story about romance, but sounds artificial and awkward, when you say it out loud. For her the very word "love" did not come easy, when it came to telling it to people not because she was cold and did not feel affection, but that the concept itself was sacred to her. You were not supposed to throw it around lavishly. If you ever came to say it to someone, you truly meant it. For her it meant a bond and a promise. 

"Let me tell you a story of my own," she told, seeking his eyes, trying to put more warmth in her voice so that Arcturus would not be swallowed by the ground before she had finished their conversation. "I met a friend of yours," Wraen paused, letting this sink in. "Beautiful creature, who told me all kinds of amusing things," here, though she tried to soften the message, it came out cold and humourless. "Yet... all the while I had the honour to be in her presence, I had no idea, why was she so hateful and jealous. Until it occurred to me that you - unintentionally - have wounded someone's pride," she said.

"Rings a bell, who that is? Maybe you can tell me her name, because, while she knew mine, I never learned hers. If I have an enemy out there - I think it is only fair to know this."
November 05, 2020, 10:17 AM
in truth arcturus had no idea what to expect by his admission. it put the fear of god in his heart to be so bald; what if wraen spurned him then and there, left him alone in that desolate countryside with nothing but his guilt and inadequacy to keep him company? worse yet, what if she felt disgusted? he waited for his hopes to be dashed and his dreams dejected, eyes never leaving the ground.

until she spoke of her own story. somehow, as literal as arcturus was famed to be, he did not believe that this was fable so much as reality. and the more she spoke, the more his eyes widened and lifted until at last he was looking upon wraen (so terribly cold and composed) with slowly-dawning distress.

he had but one friend in this world besides wraen and maia. but one friend that was female, beautiful -- he flinched under wraen's frigid delivery, having never seen this side of her before. breathless, acrturus ventured to guess as much as every nerve in his body screamed him not to do so. "kukutux...? but.. what does she have to do with anything?" and a more important question stirred feebly under his heart -- since when was kukutux jealous or hateful?
November 05, 2020, 12:25 PM
Kukutux. Viper in the wolf's skin. Arthur's surprise earned a half-smile from Wraen, she both pitied and loathed him, something she did not wish to feel, but it was there. Before coming here she had thought that she had done away with anger, but it was still there too. Not the explosive kind, but worse. Quiet, merciless and unforgiving - she had been hurt badly and she wished someone else to feel the pain too. Unfortunately for Arthur, he had become a target through no fault of his own. 

"I did not make the connection at first - I do not expect to be a favorite person among your family members. I can manage hostility," she explained. "But then she hit something very personal. Something that only a handful of people knew. She challenged me on not being able to have children," she pressed her lips together for a moment, considering her next move.

"And I may have said it once more carelessly than I should have - I do not deny my fault, but I expected that you with your conservative background and all knew better than to share this with the rest of the world," she said. "I live with that knowledge every single day and just because I manage my way around it, do not openly express that it bothers me, does not mean it does not hurt, when someone else humiliates me because of that." 

"But that's not the end of the story,"
 she averted her gaze from Arcturus, looked down at her paws for a moment, then back at him again. "She challenged me on, that I have committed a crime by stealing you from the Moonspear, that I will make an unsuitable wife to you. That eventually I will simply be a mere plaything to you in order to satisfy your needs and then you will prance back to Moonspear, where she will find you a proper wife and you will have children and you will happily ever after under her watchful gaze," she continued. 

"And I thought that she was crazy - she is crazy," Wraen emphasized. "But then it occurred to me - what else Arcturus has been telling the world and not telling me?" she let this part sink in too and waited for him to respond.
November 05, 2020, 03:10 PM
this got so long, and i am really sorry!

throughout the duration of their friendship, it had been wraen who was the dreamer. the imaginist, the story-teller -- yet that did not mean arcturus did not dream as well.

when he was a puppy he dreamed of standing atop moonspear's proud summit with his father as an adult; when his father and mother were cut down in the height of their prime, arcturus dreamed of a new world under hydra's rule.

when revui disappeared from the wilderness without a trace, arcturus dreamed of finding him somewhere out on a misty slope, where they'd rejoice as brothers do; he'd boldly bring his brother home, his shadow, his other -- when that dream dissolved arcturus dreamed one day he'd make his own family, to replace the gaping void that had been left by the death and departure of his family.

then, he'd met wraen and he dreamed of a life alongside her: of the two of them one day being old and grey around the muzzle, watching as their children and their grandchildren walked along the path of a late autumn sunbeam. and when this dream deferred, arcturus had gone to kukutux dreaming he could fix it.

when the duck had given him little, he built his dream anew -- shelving his hopes of a dynasty and a family. he would surround himself instead with a surrogate family, he would sacrifice that distant dream for wraen and her happiness, never once faulting her for things beyond her control.

and when that day came, that wraen said they were to leave firebirds, arcturus dreamed of a new journey: of how his life would look with thousands of miles wayfaring alongside the soul that had so neatly and perfectly stolen his heart. of the great vistas they'd take in alongside one another, of the mountains they'd climb and trees they'd pass under.

he'd dreamed of confessing it all to her one day when the meltwater roared down from the mountain and the spring thrummed vibrantly to life alongside them. that confession would slip from him as naturally and seamlessly as blood from a thin cut -- it would be easy and painless, and in the swirling motes of sunlight wraen would say yes and all of his dreams would be made reality. he dreamed of what it would be like to be mates, to share stories until their words and bones failed them -- until that last day, where he hoped they passed alongside one another as his parents had, but far more peacefully.

he'd dreamed of so many things, so many what-ifs -- but never once, had he dared to dream of a life without wraen.

he remained silent under wraen's recount of her meeting with kukutux. there were so many things he wanted to say -- so many tiny protests he kept under his tongue -- but in the end, arcturus was left reeling and more bewildered than wraen. how had kuktux learned of it? he had never told a soul of wraen's condition -- at least not directly.

it was then the mountaineer connected the dots. that day he had dared dream of fixing wraen (how selfish of him, never once considering someone else's dream in the pursuit of his own), he had come to kukutux for aid. he had never told her wraen's name, nor indicated anything that might lead her to believe it was wraen he spoke of -- but later, when wraen came to the mountain with him, kukutux would come to face to face with the soul that had arcturus' heart entire.

his visage visibly crumbled. all of these hopes and dreams, all of these worlds imagined swirled around him like autumn leaves in a tempest -- there and then gone the next.

"wraen, i--" arcturus started feebly, realizing it wouldn't matter what he said. the trust had been broken -- he could see the hurt in her gaze and he knew he had been the progenitor of that ugly emotion.

arcturus realized in chasing his dreams, he had let wraen's slip by the wayside. how much good had she gotten out knowing him? had he ever done any good to her, being present? his selfish pride had cut him down from the spear; if he had not been so pigheaded, would wraen have ever left firebirds -- her home and true family?

furthermore, what good had he done to her when he'd gone to kukutux to 'fix' her? what if, there was nothing about her needing fixing at all, and he had acted on his own selfish behest?

and -- what if he was just pushing on for something that would not be? what if he was the forest, and she was the ocean? what if their pieces did not fit together at all, and by trying to coerce them together he cut her time and time again?

this was not what-if anymore. this was the way things were, like maia's story: this was the ugly truth, and arcturus could not withstand it.  that was the brutal knife that divided dreams from reality like the proud arch of the barrier mountain's spine. the suffering that was always conspicuously absent in dreams ran amok here, in reality -- where arcturus had acted a selfish prick, and wraen paid the price.

and yet, he could not force his tongue to work. he'd held onto the stupid dream he'd confess his love to her in a perfectly romantic moment for the longest -- it was the dream he held onto perhaps the most stubbornly. and this moment was anything but romantic: it was raw, it was ugly -- it cut him down worse than the bite of any wind or kin.

"i didn't --" again, did it matter what he didn't do? it was what he had done that lead them to this moment where he felt his hopes were a thousand shards of brittle seaglass; one wrong word and they would all be swept away under the roaring of reality's furious tide. "i never told her it was you. she thought it was me.. but i wanted to help. i--" so much good his help had done him, pitting his two friends together. and kukutux -- he could scarcely make sense of wraen's accusations she had been crazy, hostile, or cruel.

of this moment, arcturus was certain it was neither the right moment nor the moment he'd dreamed of. "i wanted to wait until the right moment." his voice trailed off shamefully, but arcturus hit a roadblock and couldn't continue for fear of losing his composure. "and i've ruined it all. i'm sorry, wraen."
November 05, 2020, 11:25 PM
The road to hell is paved by the best intentions and, though Wraen had tried to wrap her mind around, how would "tattling" go together with the quiet man Arcturus was, it was some consolation to know that he had not done this in malice. That he had asked for an advice of a then-friend way before things had changed and happened the way there were now. That it had been Kukutux, who had connected the dots and then let her imagination run wild. 

"Maybe this is the right moment," told him quietly. "To be very honest with each other," she said, because even if she was angry with him, even if meeting with Kukutux was still fresh in her memory with all the juicy details, she thought that had the encounter never happened, they would have remained, where they had been for, who knew how long. "Because there was some truth in, what she said - something I know very well too," Wraen went on. "There will come a time, when you will want to have a family, children of your own, when spring will sing in your veins, and the longing will burn strong within your heart.

And I will never be able to make that dream come true - wishful thinking or asking for an advice to fix me won't change that. My life is a cold and barren winter's day, it has been like this for years," she said, hoping that through all the metaphors he would understand. "And I would be no friend of yours, if I told you to give up on that dream, because it is a very valuable one. It is important and it is something that would always stand between us. I don't want for it to grow bigger over the years, it would break my heart to see resentment in the eyes of, where love had once been."

Wraen was silent after this, for a moment seeing that image of a blissful family life, which would never be true. It was beautiful and heartwarming, and there was a sense of great injustice in her, for why this was denied to some and yet others, who cared little, could do it with ease. As she had said - wishful thinking would not change the facts. "I can't give you a future, Arthur," she said, wishing that she could prove Kukutux wrong, that she did not have to agree. "But I have the present moment and I would be happy to walk with you one day at a time, until we go our separate ways for whatever the reasons will be."

"I am not in love with you - I am not in the place you are currently, but I have always been very fond of you,"
 this much she could give him and - who knew - perhaps things would change over time. Wraen realized that she did not have to fight against the world on her own that just maybe having another misfit by her side would make things easier for her. "And I do not see that ever change," true, if she had known him for almost half of her life (funny way the wolf years work) and still liked him, then it was built on solid foundations.

"We can give it a try - we can do it against the odds, against your family pack hating me and every single ugly thing Kukutux said," she continued more boldly. "We do not have to let our happiness depend on, what they think and consider to be right. Because... despite all that Kukutux claimed about her blissful family life, I don't think she is truly happy. If a person's heart sings, it does not seek to silence that song in someone else's heart," she told him.

"And if in the end it does not work out - we will at least have learned something, have had many good moments along the way. After all the journey matters to me more than it's final destination."
November 07, 2020, 10:07 AM
wraen's voice was quiet, layered over in thought -- arcturus' eyes fell to the ground. a new sensation was worming itself into his stomach and heart; unpleasant and constrictive.

if this was the moment, it felt wrong. he already knew the course this conversation would take, somehow -- the panic of it flew in his face like a startled hind and he could not shake it. she was going to say no, she was going to leave him -- she was going to tell him it was simply not meant to be, and to go find his dream in some other castle.

he shook his head earnestly as wraen suggested someday, he would leave her. no! that was not true! he wanted to protest it to his very core, but knew he must stay silent. she had never been a winter's day for him, he had never considered leaving her -- not now, not ever.

silence spanned between them. arcturus dwelt on how fickle fate was in that span; one day their lives seemed to be nothing but joyous open road. the next, eclipsed by the heavy weight of portentous doom hanging over their friendship like a stormy reckoning.

i can't give you a future, arthur. wraen imparted: how his blood flared then, and his eyes jumped. did she not see, his future was her? as long as she breathed, he would be besides her -- was that not future? did she wish for him to leave her side?

i am not in love with you. the guillotine he'd been waiting for.

once, revui had hit him so hard he'd felt his stomach suck back in a violent fit of nausea and bile. this felt worse.

once, a stag had kicked him in the ribs and he'd felt a crack and a furious sweep of pain so hot and fierce it blotted out his mind in sharp red dots: this -- this felt worse.

arcturus turned his muzzle to the clay beneath him, hiding the flush of tears which stung his yellow gaze. his nose tingled unpleasantly -- along his cheeks a distressing buzzing sensation activated. his stomach was falling a thousand meters a second, swirling in a death vortex which made his spine raise in tingling fear.

in a split second, the dream fractured like ice across a dark blue river. and that river was roaring in his ears, his mouth, his stomach which was falling endlessly --

he was waiting for the guillotine to sweep his his head off. when it fell to the ground and he ceased breathing, what then? if wraen cracked open his tightly-pried ribcage, would she see a heart that still stirred and beat profoundly for her? or would it be dark and blighted by black -- all the bad he had unwittingly done laid across it like the lattice-work of a cancer slowly starving his body?

her words were muffled by the dull roar which sounded somewhere between his skull and his ears like a tide.  if a person's heart sings, wraen had said -- did arcturus' heart sing or was the song it wove a deathknell, a high keen of a dream and a love lost?

the ground faded away. his feet and his soul and his mind were a thousand miles away above them, peering down at two impossibly small figures in a forest while the cataclysm of the cosmos swirled around them. he fought to come back, to steady his mind enough to stir his tongue -- for a long while, that silence yawned between them.

he wanted to give it a try. fuck the odds, what good had odds ever done him? he was helpless to show her the thousand ways he would never be the arthur she depicted: the one that would leave her come spring, and walk out of her life forever. that was not the arthur who stood before her as if husked; that was some other arthur who had never existed and never would. arcturus' lips twisted in an ugly and unhappy line.

for all of arcturus' romanticism, he had never believed love was unconditionally bilateral. love in all of its loveliness, could be unilateral. this fact did not cheapen what was the most profoundly important thing in this world. he could love unequivocally and exclusively, and that love was only sullied when he selfishly expected it unconditionally in return. and that was not love -- that was a projection of his selfish pathos.  moment it entered his relationship with wraen was the moment his love was sacrificed and replaced by an emotion that was cold and impure.

borne on the wings of this thought, arcturus' gaze lifted. his golden eyes were liquid and wavering, but full of resolve. "i want to give it a try." his dusky baritone was constricted, choked by the anxiety he might lose it all. "i don't want to lose you."

as long as they tried, and he never diffused ugly emotions of insecurity or self-worth into his projection of love, that was all that mattered. for arcturus could live a life where he loved wraen, and be happy in his love -- with no hard feelings.
November 07, 2020, 12:40 PM
"You are not losing me, Arthur," Wraen objected softly, having observed the emotional turmoil and agony he had been, still was, while he heard her out. It made her realize that she too knew very little of, what happened beneath that composed and ever calm surface, and that due to her being two years his senior, she had been arrogant too in assuming that she knew better, what he wanted and needed in life. That made her no better than Kukutux, which was a thought that she did not like and therefore she made herself a promise too.

Not to focus too much of an uncertain future, but take one day at a time. Having fallen in love only once in her life and having few crushes that had not led to anything serious inbetween, she was as much inexperienced in all this as was Arthur. He knew very little of people, she - on the other hand - knew a lot of people, but very little about workings and doings of her friend's mind. Which again was a realization that made her older-i-know-everything-self frown, but also meant a room for improvement. "I don't have that many friends that I could afford to lose any one of them," she told him. "Besides," now she smiled, a little shyly though, "we are two misfits, I think it is wiser to band together rather than... disperse and lose ourselves in the sea of a conventional crowd, that does not understand us."

"If it is any consolation to you,"
 they had started this conversation about the importance of being honest with each other. "This will be something new for me too. Frankly speaking, I have no idea, what will happen, and - god, I hate uncertainty and I so wish that everything was under my control," Wraen went on. "But let's just promise each other to be open about things that we wish to do, to improve, to tell, what bothers us or that we want to ask each other," she asked.

"Let's not run with our problems to other people - let's solve them between us first, even if it means that we argue or that we might get angry with each other or... anything else," she said. "You tend to keep things to yourself - I respect that, but discussion and talking is important for me. If we know each other well, if we trust each other, then no one from outside can hurt us or project an image of us that it is completely wrong," she finished, thinking for the last time about, what had transpired between herself and Kukutux and deciding that after this she would never bring the altercation up again.
November 18, 2020, 09:42 AM
you are not losing me, arthur; but in arcturus' mind, he was. he knew the moment he had embarked on this journey, that every day with wraen was on borrowed time -- that someday, she might grow tired of his presence and seek someone new.

the small, shy smile that made her way to her features seemed to soften in lovely lines across her face. arcturus felt his heart quicken. misfits that they may be, arcturus had only ever believed -- and firmly too -- that he belonged to wraen.

if there was one thing that rung true for him as it did with wraen, it was uncertainty and lack of control. arcturus had left moonspear for that very reason alone -- he would not be the square peg forced into a round hole. he looked to the ground, distraught still and feeling no bloom of gentle hope: "i promise." his voice was ushered and quiet, imbued with a fervent volition he would die to keep.

there were thoughts he could not speak upon, and sometimes things he wished to come to be that he was too afraid to act upon; but he would do his very best to uphold that promise to wraen, come death or dissolution. working up the courage to speak was one thing -- laying his hopes and dreams so plainly on the ground, to be dismantled and ruthlessly picked over like a corpse under bleaching sun and ruthless vultures -- arcturus hardly found it pleasant. and yet, he would have happily cracked open his skull, unlocked the prism of his mind, and handed it to wraen any day -- if only so she could see and understand the innerworkings of a mind that not even he understood.

"i will never give up on us." arcturus mumbled into the cold wind, bringing his gaze to wraen slowly. liquid as his eyes were, they were full of conviction and adoration -- both in equally strong measures. "i'm sorry. i should not have tried to fix .. you. it does not change my feelings for you. it never has. and i will be happy, for the rest of my life, as long as i get to walk besides you."
November 18, 2020, 11:11 AM
Wraen would have preferred, if Arcturus had been a little more cautious and less determined in his promises. Never give up on us. It meant responsibility and commitment and she was not sure, if she was ready to give more than she had given already. If he did not put so much hopes on, what would and could happen, he would be spared bitter disappointment later. Yet this was the lesson she had learned through her own experiences over the years, while all this was ahead of Arthur still. 

"One day at a time, Arthur," Wraen reminded him gently. The rest of the life could wait - she did not wish to look that far ahead just yet. Nothing was set in stone or promised, their future could change completely in a matter of moments. "One day at a time."

Last one from me. Thank you!
November 24, 2020, 06:47 PM
arcturus was nothing if he was not earnest. there were days he was reserved, and days he appeared full of ambition -- but ultimately, he believed himself a man of his word.

to wraen, anyway.

he smiled shyly; one day at a time sounded just grand, so long as he was in those moments alongside wraen.

every day with her would be a gift arcturus would never take for granted.