Silverlight Terrace but your so far away
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Aiolos came with heavy heart with even more weight by the thoughts of his mind. After seeing his son's return, having traveled alone and Ruo's decision to stay back clearly made in favor of being with he and their son, Aiolos had been struck with a heartbreak. With his heartbreak came a rash decision. 

He traveled, otter clutched into his jaws as an offering to those he came to favor. One, more specifically, he came to favor. 

"We'll be back in a few months time, not forever." She had said to him, but after a few months, his son had come after traveling so far alone, not with his mother. "And when i do, i'll give you my answer to what we are." Fiery eyes pressed firmly shut, pausing and he shakes away at the sorrow that threatened his vision. How long was he made to sit and weight? How long to hold what they could have been over his head? Ruo's mission ended, it was not home she came but to another pack, Ying's, to help her with its founding. To build it in a manner he had wanted her to build their family. But it was for naught. 

It was so easy to dismiss her when she wasnt around. When he was filled with such anger towards her still. Her celestial power was no longer held over him. No longer, like Kalika and her beautiful siren song who had long since too left him. 

So he arrives with every intention to move on. Every intention to be the pawn, the slave, the escort no longer. Having discussed this with Hua after having had an outright rant over her little cousin, he stands at the base of the mountain chain and waits. Kill settled to the earth, he sings out into the crisp morning breeze for @Kukutux.
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there was still a stone in her heart when she thought of him. it was comforted by the idea that kigipigak had been led to her for helping the spirit move beyond. there was a kinship there; it felt as though she and the other were cousins of a kind. that was how she had begun to think of him. 

the redsun called for her, and kukutux looked up from where she had been plucking the underbelly of a rabbit. she nudged the carcass into the cache by the entrance of the ulaq, and then set down the mountainside with a wrap of mottled buckskin around her shoulders against her shoulders.

she was surprised to hear his summons, and considering that it might have to do with huojin, the duck came promptly. "it is good to see you well," she told him when she had drawn close. there was an expression in the man she sensed, something she had not felt from him before. kukutux was quiet, springjade eyes searching aiolos.
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Kukutux was prompt, as ever. Maybe because of her upbringing she was raised to never keep a man waiting, just as his opposite for women. This or it was just in her nature, either which Aiolos was grateful for. Until then he was content to sit down on the long grasses of the fields with the otter in front of him and waited. This field was open and beautiful, with rolling hills and a view of the mountains at its backyard. Between the mountains and the large quarry Aiolos passed it was quite a recluse spot, teeming with little critters he could hear scurrying in the distance. 

The only movements he cared for were that of Kukutux and she came, almost seemingly noble with skin draped over the back of her nape and shoulders. She was far more noble then he, after all, despite his title for he was no more then a nameless basterd son. In knowing this, would his offer be of any worth? 

Thank you... He first speaks, a small smile, and lifts himself up off the ground as she comes nearer. At least he was well in physical aspects, where spiritually he felt a mess. And you are too, I do hope? And your pups? He asks, quirking his head to the side.
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whatever plagued aiolos, he did not say. feeling rather self-conscious despite his warm congeniality, kukutux pulled ears and gaze away, seeking toward the otter he had brought with a curious glance. pamiuktuuk was its name, and its skin was watertight and glossy with a fineness not seen in longer hairs.

the redsun was straightening, asking after her children. "i went on a journey," the duck answered, thinking of the trader despite the awareness that she must not. "i came home after a long while, and they had somehow grown larger." something wistful around her mouth, passing in an instant as she looked upon aiolos again. "how is huojin?"
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She turns, ears pulled back and her eyes moving to the otter settled at his feet. She spoke of a journey she had went on and he was curious as to what that might have been. He could have thought that Moonspear's leaders might have sent her, maybe to give information to one of their allies. After all, on the mainland, the threat of those blood hungry pack wolves was still very much present for them. It was something Aiolos was able to more or less place on the back burner whilst his members were safe on the island. 

They are growing quickly, too much so for my like and he is doing well. I've enjoyed Huojin's growth and with it being able to teach him new things, show him places further and further from the densite he once stayed to. But I also know that with his knowledge he will need me less and less. Even more so, granted how quickly he was made to grow by being pulled from the safety of his pack at such a young age. 

The last time they had been together, with their children (of different partners mind you), Aiolos had admitted his son and Ruo having left, of his son's obvious return without his mother. No longer at her birth home and now helping to build Ying's pack, Aiolos could only be left to assume what Ruo's plans were... That she was unhappy in Yuelong and did not wish yet to return and then there was the grief of Aiolos believing it would be his own fault... That his excitement to have a family (as what he never thought possible) had been overwhelming to her- he had wanted too much. 

Aiolos side steps from the kill at his paws, coming nearer to the mountain woman. Your mateship... He trailed, but wanting to just toss the question suddenly so have her moment. Are you happy? He thinks then, oh, that doesnt sounds quite right and he shakes his head, not wanting to upset her. I mean-even though it was arranged...are you happy being with him? Surely right, since she had his pups or was that just her doing her 'wifely duties'?
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aiolos spoke of his son, and kukutux could follow such sentiments in her own heart. while she prepared the future for her son and daughter as best as she was able, there were many things they must learn alone. she could not always be teacher, but she would be mother forever. a comfort then.

kukutux was also pleased to hear of huojin, that he grew. as did sialuk, who had begun to learn the inner workings of the woman's circle. would it not be enjoyable to add another sister? an inward smile at the thought of her raindrop instructing as she did. again, the redsun's voice. but he was closer now, an unreadable expression upon his kind face as he drew mention of her husband into their discourse.

a muscle jumped along the woman's jawline before she was able to hide it. in the air of a wife tucking hair behind her ear, head turned away and gaze fixed elsewhere, kukutux remembered the last words that arcturus had said to her. and the last she had said to wraen. and how the dead man too, had spoken in pointed ways toward her. happiness then; she searched for how to answer. "jarilo makes me to feel as if i am not carrying so much alone." it was as honest a sentiment as kukutux could put forth, and she dared not look into the face of aiolos again.
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This song seemed fitting for this. Gives me the feels.
 

There was a tension in her jaw he could only assume was shock at his question. Little did they, if ever, speak of her mate and nor had he spoke directly of Ruo until recently. Their time together had just the same, up until recently, been a little private meeting between the two of them. Just two former pack mates, two friends trying to spare moments of their time far from one another in order to catch up. Nothing seemed wrong about it ever, not until the way Kukutux answered him now and not until she turned away, refusing to look at him again. 

She didnt say yes. Not directly so- she didnt say she was happy and Aiolos side stepped once more, his head tilting to the side to try and steal a glance at the expression she wore. He wanted more then anything to know that she was happy in her life and that went beyond his own desires.. His own selfish, greedy desires. 

He wanted to poke, to prode. He wanted to ask 'do you love him?' then. He wanted to ask, if he.... 

Almost sickened by his own thoughts, Aiolos steps back to give her the space she well so deserved. He shakes his head- No. Whar was wrong him on desiring those he simply could not have? The Nereides woman he bed with in the Vale, who would never take any man as an equal. Ruo who wanted freedom, unchained, unbound and now, a married woman. He shakes his head again to clear his thoughts. There was seriously something wrong with him. 

He needed to get to the point. There had been a reason for this meet, after all. With the Nereides, men were not involved in their offspring's lives at all. Only daughters were kept and sons sacrificed to Sea. I should be lucky to have Huojin at all. And he was but, Maybe I'm just being selfish in wanting more. He had a taste of what he could have as a free man and surely now he was just being spoilt from it.  

He was going back to what she had said to him, at the plateau. I want him to have siblings to enjoy. To love and to teach. Someone that he could call family in these Wilds other then his aunt and himself. So that even after he gets older and grows tired of hanging around his old man, they could look out for eachother. With Ruo, Aiolos did not think this to be possible. Their relationship, after all, was much too unstable and after things had gone during her first pregnancy it did not seem as though she would be so willing to throw herself into motherhood again. Maybe she was just too far independent to be tied down in such a manner, like a wild spirit he was trying to force into tame. 

This was of course not just about his son, but him of course so he would not lie. I've played this game more then I'd like to admit already. I don't want to be a consort anymore, a fling, an accident. He admits, a frown on his face and now he finds himself turning his face away, to not look at Kukutux as he asks it. I spoke to Hua about this and I think I'd like to offer myself to be betrothed to one of Moonspear's women. To solidify our alliance, not by just agreeances, but by blood.
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counting crows is iconic <3

with the rest of what aiolos said, kukutux saw that he fell away from talk of jarilo. why had he asked if she was happy? slowly her gaze moved back to his offering, and the inner spirit spoke with a clarity she had not seen before. her joy with her husband had been questioned again and again until the duck began to feel flawed, as if she was not grateful for the life the blackfox had given her and their children.

kukutux was, and dearly so, but her mind had realized that her thankfulness did not translate to what others called 'love.' their concept of it foreign from her own, unknown. perhaps, perhaps now she must only answer yes, not so directly that others might comment upon her answer.

aiolos, speaking of sacrifice. her people too had done the same, but for twins. once carried the wickedness, and the other must be separated. for the sake of the clan, the evil twin must be taken away. and this was not an easy decision to make, and only a shaman could make it. but kukutux had never heard of twins surviving, in the same way that she did not understand why anyone would give potential hunters to die.

the redsun wanted more children, and he wanted them within the framework of a proper pairing. and then betrothed, and then moonspear's women, and kukutux did not know if she was right to assume, but her mind swept there at once. silenced by the conception that maybe aiolos had wanted her, then putting it aside firmly. he did not. and even if he had meant to ask, more tethered the duck to moonspear than living beings.

"you want her to come on the salt water with you?" the duck asked, finally drawing up her jadestone gaze as far as his cheekbone. "or — you would come to moonspear?" surely the former; she could not conceive of the latter.

for he had asked if she was happy, and now kukutux felt the small hurt of it blistering in the back of her mind.
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Aiolos watches her, all the while as she kept her gaze from him. There was a moment of silence lingering there, a tension which built in the muscles of his legs but he couldnt understand why. Oh his part, perhaps yes for having gathered feelings for a woman who already had a mate and children to him. He was shamed by this, by his feelings and thoughts, wanting only what he couldnt have, it seemed. Yet... why was Kukutux acting in such a manner? After all, it was by her words on the plateau which had sparked this little idea of his all the while. 

Finally, she spoke. A simple question and nothing more. He was quiet a moment. The look on his face showing (if she'd look at him) that he was not quite certain. I wouldn't want to leave Yuelong. A part of doing this was to help bond the packs, was it not? And leaving said pack wouldnt accomplish anything and only leave Yuelong in a bind. But I've no intention of forcing her to leave her home either. I suppose, it could be long distance, for a time, unless she decides otherwise. I know it would take time getting used to... Getting used to being betrothed and thus, presented a mate instead of finding one just by fate of the Gods. They would have to grow to love one another. 

I...I dont have a family name, of course... None I'd ever want share. A name he had never claimed before and, according to his grandfather, had no rights to given the fact that he was basterd-born. But that could be a good thing, too. He tried to be optimistic of it. They wouldnt be merging to powerful families but, The children's name would be their mothers and if she was Ostrega, the bloodline would extend through us. Which would be something he thought Moonspear's leaders might find interst in, if @Dirge or @Hydra found the Emperor of Yuelong fitting. 

And then he lowers his head, trying to steal away a look from her. Has my decision upset you? Yet why on earth would it? She, who was so well put together compared to the likes of him.
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why did she act so? kukutux could not help the shuddering into herself that had come upon her at the redsun's question, and wanted desperately to devote herself toward the finer details of what it was he wished in a mate. a woman to come and live with him upon the island, though could be only one empress, kukutux felt certain. she would be a noble wife and any children born to their hearth would have the esteem of his importance.

toad amelia. desdemona. perhaps nyx, though she knew only the woman's name through murmurings and not her face. and toad no longer resided upon the mountain. perhaps her future was better assured in the glen of fireflies. aiolos, speaking, speaking, and at last the duck let the full expression of her jade-carved gaze rest upon him. 

"why did you ask if i had happiness?" the duck blurted, ears cupping back against her skull. but she had been jarred by it, wonderment and wariness mingling like rain and duck fat inside her mind. she must know, for the sake of their companionship, and kukutux knew she must trust that he would tell her truthfully.
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He had gone on, trying to push the conversation forward. Trying to snuff whatever stirred up emotion burned in his chest like a bad gut feeling. A feeling that made your hair prickle and your paws sweat. He thought of what he might add next, what she might suggest he do in order to gain Hydra's favor, whatever judgement she might fit him with. He didnt know. He was lost in all this with a desperate need to find the final part of stability he was lacking in life. The final piece that would make him 100% a free man from the life he once led. 

But Kukutux mind was lost elsewhere, focused on that one exact question that had blurted from the Greek wolf's maw. 

Her eyes shot up at him with a directness he couldnt remember her ever giving him before. He was struck, like a deer in headlights. Though he stammers at first, he would not object her. She had only and ever been true to him, even when it hurt to do so and he should offer her only the same curtsey in return. 

To know... That if I were to do this, be betrothed, that it would be possible to find happiness with someone that way. To find love in someone who you were paired by another's choosing. And he should have stopped there. It was the truth and it could have saved them a whole lot of trouble but equally it was not the whole truth. And because your my friend and I want you happy. I would want the one your with to love you and you love them. His eyes are the ones to fall this time, landing somewhere to the ground between their front paws. Because I care about you...alot... 

And then he began to speak alot again, word vomiting in order to try and make this better but likely to only make it worse. I don't know what's wrong with me. I'd never want to compromise you and your mate's life together. I know you must have worked hard on it. I mean, maybe what happened with Ruo just stirred up a lot of emotions I'd been smothering because I know these feelings are wrong. It hurts, I hurt... I never knew what Ruo wanted, for us...and after she got pregnant, it's like her walls went up and I couldn't scale them. And your so kind to me, honest, you tell me how you feel. Your what I hoped... Hoped that Ruo would have been for him, to toss down her walls, if only for him but...

His head falls low between his legs, gingered ears back as he turns his head away to the side from her. I'd never want to hurt our friendship. I'm sorry.
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woo no need to match length
edit: also 700 for uuu

for the many-span time, kukutux thought that aiolos was like no other man she had before known. her breath came and went, whirled away and away out to sea. how it must be, to live upon an island. to breathe the salty aggunak, to know in some small way that perhaps a piece of home remained.

and how it must be that the boy of the redsun's hearth might become ugi to her own daughter. and how it would then make a kinship tie between them, one that forbade the bold words he spoke now with no boldness. so she had been what he wished, and he turned her gaze at last back to the lapping blue expanse and the cold foam on the far-off waves.

"when a woman becomes mother, the children she bears become the stars in her night. not the man who is their father." and it was a sharp, harsh lesson for a young hunter to learn, for the honeyed time to end and the beginnings of motherhood to change the allegiance within the ulaq. yet it was one expected, and so she could recall no argument between husband and wife over such.

his words were forbidden by a half-dozen taboo, and yet against the urging of her spirit did kukutux continue to listen. she had never thought of herself as desirable, came her slow realization, but was it not true that women who had become mothers, especially to sons, proved their ability? perhaps that was what aiolos saw in her: their companionship with her confirmed blessing of motherhood.

"i do not think that i know what happiness means when you say it. i am pleased to be wife. i am pleased to be mother. i have given back to moonspear the promise i made when i came to live there." some strange light upon the edge of her jawline. "it has not been hard for me, as wife. but it will be harder for you, to be husband i think." hardship, too, bore a different definition. arcturus; and her heart felt cut. the trader; and her mouth wished to say his name one final time..

now that she had defined for herself the reasons that aiolos wished her, or assumed them as far as she was able, she found his sentiment acceptable. then. but the duck silently declined to grow vain. the redsun was saddened now, and kukutux offered a trembling smile. "we are still companions, you and i, aiolos. it is not changed. i would not let it be changed."
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Woo! 700!

He felt like a fool, dirty, horrible, as though if he could he would sink down into the earthen field and stay there. Among it, he felt lost, sad, worried... Did he really care for Kukutux beyond their friendship? That he desired more then just her friendship, but to have what it seemed he could not have? He knew he felt her to be a close friend to him, close in a manner like Hua was to him and he felt himself sometimes looking at the pale woman maybe a bit longer then he should. But was this just an extension of their close friendship, of her also being a pretty female? Was it that he wanted from Ruo what Kukutux gave to Jarilo? 

Aiolos didn't know, overwhelmed by his emotions, thinking that perhaps the Nereides were right in some manner. Reproduction was easy. Making a relationship work was hard. The Greek was dealing with emotions he was never meant to come across. Maybe he would have been better for it. 

When she turns away and speaks, it is harsh and yet true. That when two became parents, their love for one another often did not match up to that of the love for their child. Surely Ruo loved Huojin more then he, surely, but how far did her love go to abandon him so? 

She spoke of duty, that her promise to Moonspear had been fulfilled by her baring children to their bloodline. That she was pleased in doing so, that in it, her life had met fulfillment. Aiolos would never take that from her, never could even touch it, he realized. But he did not want a wife made by obligations, by agreements and yet being betrothed would be in doing so. Her words spoke of being husband hard on him. His love-life might in it be just as complicated as it was now. Was doing this just going to make everything worse? 

He was quiet for awhile, all up until Kukutux last statement. He smiles again finally, his tail waving low behind him. Thank the Goddesses for that. So he'd not made ruin to the whole morning.
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<3

the goddesses. kukutux knew her own by name and by heart. it was with a new sort of wondering affection that she looked upon aiolos, not allowing herself to wonder but feeling confounded, rooted, by the admission he had given. but she had nothing else to add. her eyes turned toward the sea, in the direction of the island where he ruled with an empress. why had he not chosen her to ask as wife? 

maybe it was not the ways of empresses to choose their chiefmates from within. she pondered this, brinewind playing with the satined tresses of white fur in her ruff, and then slowly brought her attention back to the redsun. "i already in my head have names for you, aiolos," kukutux said with a lightness she did not feel. "it may be the snow will come down before i am certain. when should we meet again?"

the duck was not ready to depart, not ready to quit his company and go back to the lush proud forests of moonspear. sadness pooling in her heart. salt burning her throat. reminders of her own island, never forgotten in the duck's memory. 

do you still think of the one who hunted seals? came the sharp, jarring throught; her young husband, put to death by falling rocks.

do not forget. be content in what you have been given after it all.
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She looked to him with wonder and admiration it seemed, a pleased and happy look to him when he had mentioned the Goddesses. It was looks from her such as this which she had given time and time before and which he loved. Seeing her turn from him, to look flatly at him as before, it had hurt him in a manner that would hopefully not let him forget to not question her mateship again. 

She already had ideas, potential women she knew that might be fitting though it would take her some time to not only decide but to speak with these women as well. He nods. I trust whoever you decide will be good for me. That they will be kind and patient and  have a strong heart. He spoke with a weak smile and he looks down to his lifting paw to let the tips of his dull nails dig at the earth. Someone who might love the salt and sand like I do. And who, too, might be willing to understand his belief in the Moon and Sea Goddess. It was much to ask, he knew, but ultimately... I just want to make sure they want a mate too. That they dont feel pressured into it. He would not have someone be with him whom felt they had to because it was their duty, because they were pressed. Sure, the woman could feel as though they were doing good by their pack by bonding their alliance as such did Aiolos, but they had to have some desire to be with someone too. 

Perhaps having someone to call their own, being bound to them, was something that had frightened Ruo. The thought of Ruo again made his heart sink and an awful empty feeling in his gut. He missed what they had but that had been long lost far before she had decided to leave.

He now would lift his head towards the sea, past this open valley at the base of the mountain. Beyond the Weald after that. A stretch from Sea for sure. She was saddened and he thought he could tell it, beyond the fake happiness which she tried to show for him. She was kind and patient. She was strong and she, too, loved the sea and missed the island where she once lived. Maybe if she would, she could visit... Whenever you are ready, I will wait.
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something between them now, cool and pulsing. kukutux had placed it there, she knew, and for a long moment they both gazed in the same direction. redsun flanked by snowduck. and in her mind the sudden remembrance of what he had admitted. and suddenly a desperation rising in her to dispel the wallstones betwixt he and she.

and though a thousand words came to her at once, the duck recognized none of them as being worthwhile. she believed that he would trust in her judgement, but now there was an oddity to it — it was as if bringing him a wife now would be in some way painful for the islewolf. 

quietly, softly, the duck reached her muzzle to the top of his shoulder, and there she let her crown rest for a warm and too-long moment; too long in terms of propriety and rightness, the correct manner a married woman must carry at all times. gloriously, wondrously, horrendously exhausted by it all in a swift and fired moment, kukutux drew in the strength of aiolos and lifted jadestone eyes to the goldcoin of his own. 

expression, indecipherable.

and then the duck was turning away, turning away back to moonspear and to the goal he had spoken and she had set.
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There was a silence between the two of them, lingering and it would stay there. And after a time she would move and he would not, stilled by her actions. She lifts her chin and settles the length of it with her throat onto his shoulder. Resting there a long moment. His nose twitches, wanting to lay his head down onto her own but does not. He is only left lingering there until she suddenly then pulls away.

Still silence and she heads back to her mountain. Amber eyes watch her retreat and then finally he too turns away and heads back home.