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Loner

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All Welcome 
this was the way.

he could not tie himself to anyone, anywhere, anything‚ÄĒand he had tried. oh, how he'd tried!¬†

but his place within others' lives was always meant to be temporary, transient, and so just as he had left everyone else, so left he brook with the white spine pack. . .then vanished, once more, into the ether.

this was the way.

aditya edged carefully around the mountain, looking for small game. the caverns he encountered smelled faintly of sleeping bear; luckily for him, winter was far off, and the bears would not return to their dens for some time. but he kept a watchful eye out anyway, knowing the damage one could inflict.

came to a small stream and drank deep, slurping more than lapping, the warm day pleasant but ultimately wearying on his old body.

old. and yet here he was, acting like a yearling. caring not for anyone but himself. he laid upon the earth, under the shade of a sweet-smelling pine, watching the water ripple over jutting, gleaming stones. water never stayed put; it moved, constantly, even when appearing at a stand-still.

he was the water; he always had been. this was the way.
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Vanity once again found herself wandering back into the Teekon lands.
No children. Just her again.
New scars adorned most of her front after fighting one too many loners and coyotes. Not that she was worried about herself anymore. She felt old. Probably looked as old as she felt too.

She teetered on the mountain edges, once again at peace in her realm. High in the sky, sometimes the clouds would dip low enough to brush along her spine.
Today was a good day, a sunny day.

She thought she was along for a long time - and was - until she spotted some agouti male wandering on his own seemingly lonesome way. She trotted forward, reaching him swiftly with a chuff and a wag of her tail. Keeping just out of the way for him to assess her.

Perhaps company for a mile or two would pair nicely with the weather.
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Loner

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if he was a more suspicious man, he'd think a skeleton approached him, her head stark white against a black pelt. but it was only a fanciful mind that made her so, and when she came into view, he saw her for what she was‚ÄĒa woman, albeit with a unique appearance and visage.

aditya smiled, dipping his head to invite her closer. good day, he offered briefly, giving her a once-over. not much younger than he was, though life had treated her relatively kind. but he saw it in the small, silver hairs along her muzzle, the way she walked.

yes, he knew. he knew the look of one who'd lived long and traveled far.

you live here? aditya asked, raising his brows and lifting himself to his paws. he shook out the dust, resisting the urge to vainly preen at his fur. too old for that nonsense.
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He turned to look at her without the curl of a lip or snarl from his throat.
Good start. She offered him a small smile, drifting a few inches closer as he spoke.
Older, and perhaps more travelled.
She dragged her eyes over him, letting them linger in a few choice places.

"Good day," she mused in return, eyes flicking up to his. They seemed kind and warm. The type to be instantly likeable. "Not yet, but I might." Perhaps she'd visit Hydra, the cranky ol' high-horse having Moonspearian. Perhaps take that silly peak for herself.
Anyways.

"Where you headed? Anything interesting?"
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she returned his look, with interest. a cheeky grin hid in the corners of his mouth, cloaked by geniality. old he might be, but he was still a man, and she still a woman‚ÄĒand a beautiful woman, too, even with myriad scars and the strange black-and-white markings.

i try not to plan, aditya replied, shrugging. i go wherever and whenever the wind takes me.

true enough, though it was a very poetic way of describing his utter lack of commitment. maybe she'd understand, though.

not yet, but i might. putting down roots was harder than one usually anticipated. aditya, he introduced himself, with a graceful sweep of his tail. and you? his hawkish gaze lingered on her face, watching every twitch of the muscles there, and the feeling in her eyes.
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She gave him a bigger grin, tail waving softly.
"Ah, that's the life isn't it," she gazed across the land from their vantage point, watching it fall away into deep bogs and soft peaks. "Just you doing you, nothing else." She had to admit, even though the loss of her kingdom hurt, she was glad for the freedom she's found.

Aditya. Cute.
"Verana." She replied. She'd taken to using her second name over the winter. It just.. sounded better in her mind. Vanity seemed too basic now. Too vain (lol).
She took a few more sideways steps towards him as a wind blistered across the ridge.
"So, if you're not going anywhere, where did you come from?"
What are you running from Aditya?
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it's a life, aditya reasoned, shrugging. he much preferred company to solitude, structure to fluidity‚ÄĒbut when it came to him and his wandering paws. . .no one could ever catch up. eventually, he left them all behind.¬†

he smiled as she offered her name, then considered her question or a moment. i have family in the south, he answered. the ever-familiar pang as he thought of his children, of brook. and the white spine wolves, and the friends he'd made there. . .

he deserved none of them, and none of them deserved to be stuck with him.

where you headed? aditya instead went on, capturing her tone from before with a playful glint to his eyes. conversation made him feel young again. too long spent trapped in his own thoughts left the man jaded, wizened.
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Vanity grinned again. Was she yet a wanderer? She didn't think she had wanderlust but...she never seemed to settle here. Maybe she would have if she'd had more time with Vengeance.
His skull was not far away, she still kept it with her in all her wanderings.
Tucked neatly under sone rocks. Some wolves don't take nicely to strangers travelling with skulls of ex-lovers murdered by their protégé's.
"That's nice," she mused. She wondered if any of her family survived - she doubted it strongly.
Where are you headed?
"Well," she started, stopping just before Aditya and turning to face the land sprawled away from the ridge, "you see over there at that glittering lake. I think I'll go there. Then Moonspear to see that Hydra. Ever heard of her?"
She looked to the male, expecting comment on her travel plans.
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Loner

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his eyes followed where she gestured, and then widened a little as she mentioned the moonspear. i haven't thought of that place¬†in a long time, aditya remarked. his smile had faded, growing more pensive, thinking of the past. i met her once, seasons ago. ‚ÄĒor thought he had, at least.

it must have been during his time in morningside. a search‚ÄĒno, it was the scouting trip upon which grayday had sent him, dawn, and pema, looking for healers to teach the latter.

dawn. as usual, the name of his first long-time mate sent a bolt of pain through him, and he drew his gaze away from verana. staring out over the hinterlands, wondering. . .

did she live? was she happy? he could only wish it so.

how do you know hydra? he asked, trying to keep thoughts of his old life at bay.
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She tilted her head to him, watching him grow more agitated.
A past victim, perhaps? She watched him with cool indifference. She didn't care what Hydra might or might not mean to him, but surely it wouldn't be fun to find out why.

No, the pause was too long to be about something bad. Bad thoughts were rushed out of the back door while good ones had the lid carefully placed back upon them, ready for later.
Though Moonspear concerned him, somehow.

"Well, my pack the Nightwalkers were allied with Moonspear." Truth be told, she'd never met Hydra. She just sounded like her kind of woman with a mountain she wanted a pack that could do with new blood.
Vengeance liked her enough.
She looked to the east and to the peak of Moonspear; tall and pround.
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Loner

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the nightwalkers. he tried to remember if he'd ever known of them, but the name rang no bells. too many names rattling around inside his brain; aditya may have well heard of the pack at one point, but now they were long gone from his memory.

something else had surfaced, too. chaiyya. that twin to hydra‚ÄĒtriplet? maybe more‚ÄĒhe'd never been able to keep track of the dark wolves of moonspear.

but chaiyya had been special, and now she was gone.

aditya stared at the woman, her mask blurring as she morphed into one of the cerberus before him. he blinked, and the image disappeared. . .but the feeling remained.

and then what? he asked, mouth dry.