Noctisardor Bypass rokshawa
Rivenwood

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#1
the baby that skaigona had found with sequoia was ailing.
milkmother might have said only to eat it, but discovering the young marmot and dragging it back to the rendezvous with her had inspired skaigona in a new way.
the haggard, tangled creature mewled weakly. the war-girl's brow furrowed, deeper and deeper, until she could wait no longer. she had wanted to prove to her sister that she too was capable of finding another bracelet, but this frightened her.
"it's sick," skaigona told @Druid, once she had located her sibling and lay down the baby marmot. 
unbeknownst to her, the days of being 'coddled' by a wolf cub, coupled with stress and a too-early departure from its mother, had already marked the little animal to pass.
"can you fix him?" druid spoke to snakes. surely she knew how to talk to these too!
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#2
She awoke at midday again, though Druid didn’t mind it when the temperatures remained reasonable like this. She stretched out atop the log to sunbathe alongside Bracelet, who coiled beside her paw rather than around it to better soak up the sunlight. The pup closed her eyes and tipped her head skyward, enjoying the way the warmth cupped her face.

A familiar voice broke through the afternoon’s tranquility. Druid’s mismatched eyes opened and she looked down at Skaigona and a small animal at her feet. The sight of it twitching feebly on the ground excited the young huntress, though as she took in the sight along with her sister’s words, the urge to kill and eat it subsided quickly.

She stared down at the fuzzy little thing, a strange feeling stirring inside her. Druid subsisted primarily on a diet of meat provided by her parents, though she had made the occasional kill of her own by now. She didn’t mind hunting birds, fish or even some reptiles (apologies, Bracelet) but some dim memory from her infancy stayed her teeth and claws when it came to smaller, warmblooded game.

“Can you fix him?” Skaigona wanted to know. Druid favored her sibling with a sympathetic look, then slithered off the log to more closely inspect the tiny marmot. It didn’t smell like illness or injury, necessarily, but it was clearly not thriving. She wished she had an answer for Skaigona, though the truth was that Druid could only guess.

Maybe it’s hungry, she said quietly, capturing her sister’s gaze. Maybe mama or Mahler can help. They could hunt for it. Or… Druid wetted her lips, thinking. Maybe we could find something in a cache.
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#3
skaigona stared down at the baby animal as druid spoke. it did need food, but something in the back of her mind suggested that meat would not be enough. "and water," the girl piped up, seeming to shake herself back to the present. 
her own sense of instinct had presented itself several times during these past days, and again when she made as if ti scoop the marmot up. small jaws tensed a moment, then relaxed. "'m going to th'lagoon," skaigona said, voice muffled. "will you and bracelet come with me?"
somehow she did not want to be alone. worripa was angry. and witch was reticent. the day was long. skaigona had been raised with constant companionship and sought it out now.
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#4
Of course, Druid answered without hesitation, moving to gather the basking snake and then turning to fall into step with Skaigona as they made their way to the lagoon. Water’s a good idea, she said as they walked.

The lagoon wasn’t far and soon they stood on its shore. Druid’s eyes flicked over the smooth surface as she thought aloud, Maybe I can catch a fish or frog for it. She glanced over at Skaigona and her tiny charge. Is it a boy or a girl? she wondered, not that its gender made any difference to its diet. She was simply curious.
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#5
"a boy," skaigona said as she set the sickly creature down near one of the boulders. she stooped closer, too focused on her pet to hear the rest of what druid was saying. "go on," she said sweetly and encouragingly to the little animal. "go on an' drink."
presently she looked up at her sister, relieved to see their charge take a few half-hearted licks of water. "you're good at names. maybe if you name him, he will get better."
skaigona looked down at her unknown friend upon the bankside.
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#6
Druid tried to think of any fitting boys’ names she might know. Few were the masculine presences in her life, though naturally she thought of Mahler first and foremost. Would he want a—what sort of creature was it, anyway? A squirrel, perhaps?—named for him?

The critter drank at Skaigona’s urging, earning a wave of Druid’s tail. She continued to ponder the name. Her sister seemed convinced that christening him might help him survive. She licked her lips, giving the responsibility the gravity it deserved. She just hoped she could do right by Skaigona and…

Cleetus. It came out of nowhere and resembled no one’s moniker she knew. It wasn’t the name of an animal, flower or anything else she recognized, either. Druid didn’t know where it came from, just that it popped into her head with clarity and certainty.

Would you like to eat a fish, Cleetus? Druid wondered, venturing closer to the edge of the water to peer into the depths, looking for any sign of movement.

There was none that she could see, though the stone beneath her paw shifted slightly beneath her weight. Druid scooted back a little to appraise it, noting that it was partly underwater. A mixture of curiosity and instinct compelled her to push against it, shoving it deeper into the water and momentarily clouding the shallows.

Something darted out of the murk! Without really thinking about what she was doing, Druid thrust her snout into the water in the hopes of snatching whatever it was.
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#7
cleetus! skaigona clapped a paw over her mouth but the chortles leaked out anyway. she was distracted from watching her little pet drink, her eyes clamped onto druid's hunting form. everything about the activity captured skaigona in a way nothing else had, and perhaps it was this fascination that had led her to cleetus in the first place.
"go, go, druid!" the war-girl cheered in a stage whisper, straightening.
at her paws, cleetus curled feebly, saved for now by hydration.
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#8
The murky water swirled about her face, forcing Druid to shut her eyes. Blindly, she snapped her teeth in the shallows, swallowing quite a bit of water. On the third or fourth attempt, her fangs closed on something. It wasn’t soft but it did have some give. As her mouth closed over it, it wriggled.

The pup rapidly backpedaled, whipping her head clear of the roiling water. She maintained her grasp on her unseen prey as she hastened to the nearby shore, though she let out a yelp of surprise when something pinched her. She let go of her quarry, though it didn’t let go of her, dangling from her lip by a pincer.

Her eyes rolled toward Skaigona, though she didn’t cry out for help. Instead, she pawed at her own mouth until one of her toenails hooked into the creature and yanked it free, not without pain. Her tongue darted out to soothe the nick even as she flung the crayfish to the grass, where it squirmed, opening and closing its claws.

What in the world? Druid thought a bit inanely, eyeing the small crustacean warily. Was it a bug of some kind? Its movements tempted her to close in and finish the kill, yet she didn’t want to get pinched again. Her tongue flicked out again, tasting the coppery flavor of her own blood.

She looked to her sister again, eyes falling to the tiny Cleetus at her feet. She thought then to check on Bracelet, who had wound a little further up her leg in all the commotion. Once Druid was assured the snake was safely in place, her attention returned to the crayfish again, a look of determination slowly stealing over her face.
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#9
heda watched breathlessly. she saw her sister's jaws flash many times in the water, losing count quickly. her own hackles began to prickle, and she strained forward over cleetus.
druid's cry brought skaigona leaping forward to assist. she left her little pet behind, and though she cast him a worried look, her attention belonged to her sister.
it did not take more than a handful of seconds for the girl to see the assailant. she growled, circling opposite druid. her denmate seemed intent upon the odd, stinging thing, and so skaigona would assist, naturally deferring to the other pup for this instance.
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#10
Gradually, she worked up the nerve to strike back and kill the crayfish. But before she could act on it, Druid glanced up at Skaigona. Her sister looked ready for a fight. Growls rumbled from her small, pale chest.

You do it, the gray Sämling insisted. It wasn’t that she was afraid anymore. She simply thought Skaigona should, Kill it, for Cleetus.
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#11
for cleetus! 
skaigona needed no further urging. she darted forward, snapping jaws around the carapace of the odd creature. it flailed its odd claws, and she saw with the snapping how her sister had been hurt.
the girl herself caught a glancing blow. she bit harder and harder, until an audible crunch was heard. the thing was still. skaigona let it fall to the ground, screwing up her face at the odd taste.
"a water bug," she decided, sniffing delicately at the ruined shell.
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#12
Her eyes shone as Skaigona defeated the small creature, declaring it to be a “water bug.” It seemed an apt title. Once it was dead, Druid moved forward to sniff at its remains. There seemed to be an outer shell, with meat inside. Something about it made her think of that turtle of yore. It had pinched her too.

Withdrawing, Druid said, I hope he likes it. She shot the tiny marmot a fond glance, then sank onto her haunches to see what he made of their catch. The water had helped him, would the food cure whatever remained of his sickness?
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#13
skaigona carried the creature back to cleetus. the furry animal stirred, blinking. hunger seemed to rise in the form of half-hearted licks — and then a nibble. "look!" the war-girl exclaimed, looking excitedly to her sister. this was good news indeed, and it was all thanks to druid.
"you're a good sister," she told her denmate, small tail revolving. "maybe when he is better, cleetus and bracelet will be friends!" she had no inclination of the true nature between these animals and others, but it did not matter.
she sat back with a yawn and a blink. "you go out at night sometimes, or you are lated to bed." she blinked. "why?"
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#14
Cleetus picked at the offerings and Druid smiled, mostly at Skaigona’s happy exclamations. She glanced down at the snake, wondering if she would take to the marmot as she had to the wolves. For now, she simply remained in her slightly higher position, snugly wrapped, tongue flickering perhaps more frequently than usual as she scented the marmot as well as the pups’ kill.

She didn't expect the question, though Druid didn't mind it and answered, It's not so hot at night. She paused, then said, The heat is going away some, did you notice? Wylla told me the season will change. I want it to be winter. She says winter is cold and dark.
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#15
skaigona looked at druid, thinking. "wylla told me she was a butt doctor," the girl said very seriously, and then burst out laughing, eventually covering her mouth with a paw. "but she's prolly right about winter," skaigona tried to salvage. "it is changing a little."
winter was cold and dark. the image was not well-received. skaigona shivered a bit. "colder and darker than at night?" that was her bar, she supposed, this far into her life. "so — it will keep going colder?" she was intrigued, if a bit worried.
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#16
Druid’s eyes widened at this interesting tidbit of information, a complementary giggle bubbling from her own lips. Wylla said a lot of fascinating things, in her experience, but what on earth was a butt doctor? What kind of medical intervention did a rear end usually require?

Before her thoughts could stray too far down that road, Skaigona brought her back to the topic of winter. Unlike her sister, she didn’t seem particularly thrilled by it. Druid pursed her lips, not really sure of the specifics beyond what she had been told.

She said something about snow too. It’s this white stuff that gets everywhere. Oh, and she said we’ll be able to walk on water, Druid thought to add even as she recollected, wondering if Skaigona would find these details more enticing. We could find Wylla and ask her more about it, she suggested lightly.
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#17
snow? walking on water? these things were beginning to sound very impossible. skaigona, who had the makings of a pragmatic wolf if not the sense to implement that yet, looked askance at her sister. 
in the days to come, she would discover just who wylla was to her. for now, she nodded firmly. "let's ask her." 
maybe if the woman couldn't clarify, she could at least tell them another story.
skaigona yawned suddenly, lifting a paw to pet cleetus' back gently. the little animal had finished half his meal and was now curled into a semi-circle, sleeping. 
"i think — maybe i should lie down. do you want to find wylla soon?" she asked, wondering if this was a trip for now or another time. despite her tiredness, skaigona was rather up for either.
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#18
Skaigona expressed interest in inquiring further, though perhaps not right this very moment. Druid watched her soothe a paw down Cleetus’s back shortly after yawning. Although the gray Sämling didn’t even feel tired—she had just woken not long ago, after all—she couldn’t resist catching it.

We’ll find her sometime soon, Druid promised. You and Cleetus should go get some rest. Bracelet and I will see if we can find any more food for him. Her tail flicked as she nudged her pale sister, then made a gentle shooing motion.
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#19
prompted by druid, skaigona gave a wide yawn. "that sounds good. c'mon, cleetus." brushing druid with a nuzzle, the girl picked up her pet and began to retreat. her sister and bracelet's offer of help was very welcome. 
she would fall into a deep sleep near sequoia, cleetus tucked against her round belly.