King Elk Forest All of you a verb in perfect view
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He couldn't remember quite where he had seen her last, but he knew he was getting closer. It had been somewhere just outside of these lands, he could feel it in his bones. His sense of direction was normally impeccable—a life spent wandering had gifted him the ability to always retrace his steps or find a place he had been before. Only, he was having trouble now; probably because he had been quite distracted during those few days he had spent with Leigh. It wasn't often he was distracted by anything other than his need to continue on and answer the endless call to search for something unnamed—something incorporeal, yet he knew once he found it, it would be given form. Maybe she was it. The thought had drifted through his mind unbidden more than once since they parted. He had felt drawn to her even days after her scent had been absent from his nostrils. 

Perhaps he was just lost—thrust into the world without his brother for the first time in his whole life. The not knowing what happened to him stung the most, but he could only assume the worst, or he would have reunited with him by now. So it may make him a coward or a traitor, but after searching for months and spending endless nights alone, he had finally given in and set out to find her again. 

The night was cold, but he was used to much colder. His breath came out in misty clouds around his muzzle as he searched the scents in the snow at his feet. Nothing caught his interest until he reached a frozen lake. He stopped just where the water started, the ice thin enough there that he could see it sloshing around beneath the frozen top layer. He used his massive paw to break the thin ice and lowered his head to take a drink. The frigid water was shocking to his warm throat at first, but he was thirsty and eventually grew accustomed to its bite. When he had his fill, he reclined across the snowy bank, resting his head on his paws. He would sleep for an hour at most, and then he would set off again.
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the dragon and her fire
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She had nearly forgotten the day they met and their time spent together. Their encounter was short, brief and fleeting. And yet she remembered him. Perhaps not the land they crossed or prey they hunted, but she remembered his presence. Not a face, just a feeling. A warm, familiar feeling.

But after all that had occurred since then, Leigh's mind had been weighed down by anxiety and grief. Forever anchored to that dark bottomless pit of sorrow, her head had little to no room for any thoughts, memories, or ideas that it deemed too disposable. It was unfortunate, but the experiences she had faced with Kynareth, both the good and the bad, plagued her heart and seemed to have replaced moments of happiness, simply because they were small. Just like her time with Endre.

The woman wouldn't forget that easily though. She never expected to see that charming wolf again, and honestly, she could barely remember his face. But it was still nice to hope for a second encounter, and maybe that one would have the privilege of lasting a little longer. For now, she simply wanted a moment to herself.

Everytime she parted from the territory, a piece of her was tempted to leave. Walk, and keep walking until the Saints were completely out of reach. But then she'd be alone, and Leigh had grown tired of feeling the emptiness of solitude. She hadn't gone far, just enough to breathe in some fresh air and search for a private place to rest. Paws cold as snow clumped beneath them, she pushed onwards in hopes that she may finally find her purpose in this new land.
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He tensed at the sound of paws crunching softly against snow. Stealthily, he lifted up from the ground and moved into the shadows; he was well hidden there, and it allowed him to watch whoever might be approaching without making himself vulnerable. Years of practice had him relaxing his muscles and slowing his heart rate, focusing all his energy on taking in his surroundings. Now all he had to do was wait.

She stepped into a trickling beams if moonlight, and at first, he thought he was seeing things. He hadn't expected to find her at all, let alone by complete accident. But now she was walking towards where he was hidden. Still unsure of his own eyes, he watched a little longer before his large form slowly stepped out from the shadows. She hadn't quite reached him yet, so he paused and waited to see recognition on her face. For a moment, he wondered if she would even remember him. Their time had been so short, and he had no idea if he had made the same impression on her as she had on him. Maybe he was chasing a feeling that was completely one-sided. 

His breath was even and slow as he watched her, but his heart beat faster in chest—for some reason, he couldn't control it. His expression was blank as he waited, afraid to leak any emotion until he knew if she remembered him.
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She found herself dangerously lost within her own mind, her own thoughts. It was a terrible habit. Leigh was often left with her guard down, ears alert but unable to pick up any sound, all because they were filled with the ramblings of her own head. She hadn't expected to see anyone, especially so close to the Saint's territory. The woman was unaware if Kynareth had left a fresh, innocent body on the borders but she wouldn't put it past him. For now, she believed she was safe. Alone.

Her own voice drowned out the sounds of any footsteps across the cold floor. But her eyes were sharp and quick to catch movement, and so they did as a shadow stepped out from beneath its cover. She was not intimidated, nor frightened in any way. Yes, this stranger stood much taller than she, but Leigh knew that if things turned sour, the only thing required would be a swift sprint back towards the Saints. And at first, she didn't recognize this wolf. A somewhat plain and dark pelt, one that many wolves possessed. Not an accurate way to identify someone. Even his eyes, a bright silver. An uncommon color, but one she had seen a handful of times throughout her life.

But there was something different. She paid no attention to the obvious, and instead focused on the subtle yet key details. The way he stood, held himself. Any mannerisms she could pick up from afar. Facial structure, proportions.

Leigh hadn't spent much time with Endre, and she was horrible with remembering names. But a face? She could remember any face no matter how limited the time she was given to study their features was. She knew him. She remembered him.

"Well look at this, someone stumbled a long way from home. How ya doing, wolf?"
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For a few silent moments, he waited to see what she would do. Would she remember him? Would she become aggressive? Either way, he remained still, his intelligent gaze glued to her face. He saw the moment recognition lightened her features, and he stared at her with a raised eyebrow, more relieved than he cared to admit that she had remembered him after all. 

When she spoke, a low chuckle rumbled from his chest, and he took a seat, offering her a shrug of his large shoulders. He intentionally left her question unanswered, instead telling her: I'm not here by accident. He leveled her with his intense silver gaze. I've been looking for you, Leigh. He let that settle on her a few moments before he continued. I never found my brother; I can only assume he is dead. He sighed, and pushed past the subject, not wanting to talk much about it. It would take him to a dark place, and he didn't want to be there right now. I found myself longing to see you again, and I do not want to be alone anymore. He wasn't sure what that would mean for them; he assumed she was in a pack, given the other scents mixed with her own. The other scents stoked the flames of his fierce possessive heart, making him want to smother all the other scents from her pelt and leave only his own. He quickly put his thoughts back on the present as he ignored the urge to touch his nose to her beautiful face. He didn't want to push things yet. 

How are you? he asked next, eager to hear what she had been up to.
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Leigh's eyes roamed over his form, watching as his position shifted to take a seat, shoulders lifting into a shrug. At first, his words puzzled her, mind over complicating a simple sentence. Of course he couldn't be here by accident. If he actively made the decision to walk away from home and towards Teekons, that was on purpose, and therefore the action could never truly be an accident. But she knew what he meant and was trying to imply nonetheless, and was eager to hear more.

For a moment, the woman was unsure if speaking up would be the best. So instead she assumed that Endre had more to say, and kept her mouth shut, waiting until more words arrived. And they did, though they were not words that she expected to hear. He had been looking for her? And then he spoke of his brother, and Leigh's heart dropped. Apart of her wished that she would have done more to help in the search during their time together, but the past couldn't be altered. She'd just have to live with that "what if?".

But then it clicked. He didn't want to be alone either? Unlike him, Leigh wasn't truly alone, especially considering that Arlette had just recently offered friendship. However there was still a sense of emptiness, and perhaps they could help each other, keep each other's company. As for how Kynareth would react? Well, too bad, he'd have to just deal with it. Besides, maybe Endre could help aid the effort in annoying the absolute fuck out of the tiger. And how was she doing? That was a complicated question.

"I'm fine. I'm..." Her words trailed off for a moment. What was she supposed to say? I'm a walking paradox? I'm really really struggling? I might have lost my sanity?

"My emotions have been so unstable that I'm not entirely sure how to answer that question. Right now? I'm content, calm, maybe a little happy? But a few weeks ago, I was attacked, and that sucked. And tomorrow, I might be in the corner sobbing. I can't say for sure. I suppose I'm.. conflicted."
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He was quiet as she spoke, his sharp gaze holding hers even as he felt a range of emotions while she filled him in on her state. Anger burst through his veins as she told him she had been attacked. The anger died down to a simmer as her words got more concerning. Why would she be in the corner, sobbing? He wondered if there was someone responsible for all of this, but he held all his questions to himself as he sorted out everything she had told him.

He closed whatever distance remained between them, sitting before her. He reached out and brushed his nose gently along her cheek if she would allow him to; he could no longer resist the urge. What he really wanted to ask was who had attacked her so that he could hunt them down and make them pay for their sins, but he knew that was a selfish question, and he would try not to be too selfish where she was concerned. What has you conflicted? he rumbled softly, his gaze only focused on her. He was here to be a part of her life, and naturally, he wanted to solve all of her problems for her.
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A smile lifted her lips as the sensation of a rough nose brushed along her cheek. A smile not necessarily happy, but still sincere and grateful. Though worry and frustration still plagued her eyes as she thought of a proper response to Endre's rather complicated question.

Unfortunately, regardless of how much he may have wanted to, he couldn't solve every problem. There were some problems that were never meant to be solved, and simply tolerated. Some questions that would never receive answers, some answers that didn't always make sense. And perhaps that brought some beauty into the world, but most of the time it was just a pain in the ass.

She could sense his concern, however Leigh thought it was still best to leave him worried for a few moments if it meant giving him a more honest reply. Endre deserved honesty, and the woman would do her best to give it to him without rambling on and on for days.

"Life is what's got me conflicted. I joined a pack that has a pretty bad reputation, unknowingly at first. And now I hate it. Made a few friends but most of the time I sit around and do absolutely nothing, I have no purpose there but to occasionally annoy someone."

For a second Leigh contemplated telling Endre about Kynareth and her struggles with him. But assuming that would end with a fight, she knew keeping such a detail private would be best in the long run.

"But if I leave, I'll have no protection from a world that hates me. Just being associated with that pack has put a target on my head, and I would be even more lost wandering on my own."
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sorry for the wait!


He let her speak without saying anything to interrupt her, his concerned gaze never leaving her face as she told him of her issues with her pack, her feeling of having no purpose, her fear of leaving on her own due to the reputation she gained from being with this pack. She seemed so beaten down; it was different that the last time he had seen her, and it made rage burn white hot in his chest. 

He was silent a moment as Leigh finished, trying to gather his thoughts. If you want to leave, then leave, he told her bluntly. But you will not be alone no matter your choice. He and his brother had spent their entire lives living by their rules only, so he had a hard time understanding why she would care about how she was perceived by strangers. And I know you do not need my protection, but you have it anyway. Whatever her decision, he was here to spend his remaining days with her, and he would do what he could to ease some of the turmoil in her life—if she would allow him to, of course.
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She could see the concern growing in his silver eyes, and a part of her wished she had kept quiet. It was their first time seeing each other for quite a while, and the woman didn't intend to worry Endre so quickly. But she had already spoken, and there was no way to take back her words.

Leigh didn't necessarily care about what others thought of her. In fact, it was the complete opposite. She didn't care if other wolves gossiped or hated her. That wasn't the issue. She was more afraid of what life would be like alone. This world was still unfamiliar, for she had only seen the land they traveled through when they moved from the canyons, and the path Ira led her on. The rest of this place? That was a mystery, and that was scary.

Especially now, it seemed too risky to leave the pack. Lately she hadn't been feeling like herself, more tired and sluggish. Perhaps it was a result of her fight with Sasha. She had since healed quite a bit, but her muscles still ached. Or maybe it was the change in weather.

"Thank you... truly. Unfortunately, I don't feel quite up for a long journey. Perhaps it's best I stay here for now. But.. I would appreciate the company. I love the friends I've made, but, they aren't the same as you.
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His concerned look only softened a little as she spoke again. She didn't feel up for a long trip, and so he wouldn't push her on the matter. Truthfully, the idea of staying with her, in one place, was intriguing. He had never had a set home before, and he wondered what it would be like. And to have Leigh with him while he explored this new way of life was more than he ever could have dreamed of or really even deserved. 

And the last thing she said—they aren't the same as you—that filled him with smug, possessive satisfaction. There could be no one in his life like her either, which was why he was here. He shifted closer and brushed his nose across her cheek once more. Whatever you want, he told her. I will stay with you and be a part of your pack if that is your wish. It was a lot for the wanderer to give; he had never been tied to one place before, but he wanted Leigh in his life, and he would do whatever was needed to make that happen.
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She was unsure if she wanted to drag Endre into such a mess.

The Saints weren't opposed to strangers, in fact they often sought to recruit lone wolves. And Kynareth had no reason to be jealous, for the pair's relationship had fallen apart quite some time ago and he'd have a family with Simmik soon enough. But Leigh was still torn. So much drama was always being stirred up in the pack, and the woman didn't want to burden someone she cared for with such meaningless nonsense. Maybe it was best they'd leave together?

It was a tempting idea, but the she-wolf was not a fan of traveling and especially now, she didn't feel up for the challenge. Besides, Endre was such a kind wolf. Perhaps life among The Saints would improve with him nearby.

"I would love nothing more. However my pack is... it's an acquired taste. But I'm sure I'll be feeling better soon, and maybe then we can head off together?"
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She said her pack was an acquired taste, but that didn't deter him or make him want to follow her any less. He was an acquired taste as well, something her pack would soon find out. He was calm and gentle with Leigh, but that was not how he treated anyone else. He wondered how her pack would react to him. Perhaps they would toss him out—or try to. He was willing to give it a try regardless. 

I would be happy to wander with you, he told her, his voice a soft rumble. But until then,— he stood and dipped his head. Lead the way.