Firefly Glen tunngak ⋔
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#1
All Welcome 
for @Lane! <3

in the time since the breaking, the glen of fireflies had become a deep green. it sprawled over the damage done by the falling star, and among these small places grew kungulik.

knowing that sickness could pour through the children of moonglow as the sun began to turn its face away, the duck came to gather many stalks into a strip of goat-skin, singing to herself.

he stands on ice!

he says i will have a wife!

when you see him, will you laugh?

or will you agree? ask for many things,

he holds the storm's strength in his chest.
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#2
Lane drifted over the remnants of her formal home. It was a little surreal, the knowledge that this was indeed the same frozen field she had known as Firefly Glen. How different it was in the summer, bursting with new growth and humming with insect life! Lane thought that she and Eldritch might bed down here for the night, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the namesake fireflies. 

Lane and Eldritch had separated temporarily, both on a mission to gather what travelling herbs they could find among the thriving grasses of the glen. Travelling herbs worked best as a mixture of several, after all, and Lane was glad for the assistance of a fellow herbalist. 

A familiar, lilting voice met Lane's ears, and she grinned. She wound her way through the mossy boulders-- the remnants of Moonspear-- toward the source of the singing. She came face-to-face with Kukutux upon rounding a bend. Dropping her mouthful of sorrel and daisies, she greeted the duck. "Hey, stranger!" Kukutux was engaged in a task similar to Lane's, it would seem, if that skin stuffed with sorrel was any indication.
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when the duck looked up with a mouthful of the long stalks, it was to hear lane's voice, and see the open, affable expression on her companion's features. "aya!" the duck exclaimed, dropping her gathering and moving to greet the other, with a kiss to cheek and brush if allowed. "it is good to see your face."

her own cheeks were ruddy with excitement beneath the soft white fur of her cheeks. the last she had seen lane, the woman had been carrying children. they had shared a secret of healing between them. many things had happened in the life of kukutux since those times, and she felt it must be the same for lane.

but she did not ask after those children, for she too remembered how her sister had spoken of wintersbane.

they both smelled of sorrel. "how good to see you here, gathering with me! i will thank brother sun for showing our paths the way to cross."
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Lane laughed as surprise and then joy flew across Kukutux's features. 

"You too, Kukutux!" she returned, receiving the duck's tokens of affection with a wag of her tail. 

She meant to stop by Moonglow and see Kukutux when she and Eldritch were on their return trip, but it seemed that fate had intervened and brought her together with her friend much sooner. 

"The sun is a brother? Not a sister?" Lane asked, tilting her head. Although she was not the least bit religious herself-- admittedly, she looked down upon the vast majority of spirituality-- there was not a single trace of mockery in her voice. Kukutux was, perhaps, one of the few devout wolves (if not the only) who Lane respected, and she asked out of true curiosity.
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kukutux laughed. "he is brother because lightning mother is his equal. she brings storms, and he brings sun. and together they are spring. new life."

she wondered if lane had become second wife to the duskfire man after all. she did not think so. it was not the way of a woman who wandered far, seeking medicines. 

"this year i have given my own sun man two daughters. next year, i will bring sons to his hearth." she lipped another sorrel leaf, returning to lay it in her pile of them. "i am moon, he is sun, and so: balance." a grin. she went on gathering. "i have many stories. and many words. i will cause your ears to fall off if i do not have caring!"
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Even with Kukutux's explanation, Lane didn't quite follow the logic, but then again she'd never really had the imagination for storytelling. 

Two daughters! Lane wagged her tail furiously, overjoyed to hear the news. Although her emotions had been mixed concerning the birth of her own pups, she was nothing but happy for Kukutux. "Congratulations! So this Sun Man leads beside you, now." When Wintersbane had chosen Tzila as his mate, he had elevated Tzila to the Alpha position. Kukutux's mentions of "balance" indicated that she had done the same for the other parent of her children.

Kuktux had the whole package, then: leadership, a good mate, and children. No one deserved it more, in Lane's opinion. 

"I would much rather have your stories than my ears, Kukutux. Tell me everything." She nudged against her friend's shoulder in encouragement.
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kukutux smiled, springtime flush covering her new scars. "he has the name of aiolos. he was chieftain in island village yuèlóng, with empress huā for many moons." the words were said as well as the duck could make them, their pearlescent edges clipped by the roll of her own accent.

"we have known years between us. he has the memories of moonspear. of the ones that i knew. before this, i and aiolos lived in a place with the name of courtfall, in mountains."

she motioned toward her flank. "when i carried my son and first daughter, aiolos was protection. but not in the path that men make when they have eyes for another man's wife. aiolos was ... safe. good."

the duck, all so sentimental, felt that her eyes had become wet in the telling. a self-deprecating, soft laugh as she wiped tears away and faced toward the sea — "and so it is like a circling."
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Lane stepped forward and brushed Kukutux's shoulder with her muzzle, wordlessly expressing her joy in seeing Kukutux so happy. 

"Oh, yeah! I remember Aiolos.. you've described him to me before." It seemed like such a long time ago, but Lane still recalled her first meeting with Kukutux in which the moonwoman had offered her two names: Aiolos and Wintersbane. In hearing these men described, Lane had felt inadequate.. she had somehow known that if she met either of them as a potential mate, they would find her lacking. Her fear had come true in a sense, with Wintersbane-- although Lane bore him the only heirs he could be certain were his own, he had chosen another for his mate: Tzila, a woman who had also lain with Rye. And then Rye chose Imaq. No one had chosen Lane. 

"I can't wait to meet him, and your new daughters. I'm so happy for you!" Lane pressed forward once more, offering another quick nudge of congratulations. As she pulled away, her amber gaze landed on Kukutux's fresh scar. 

"Your eye--" Lane uttered, concern drawing her expression tight, "--lucky you didn't lose it." From the looks of things, Kukutux had only been about an inch away from such a fate. "You've had a lucky summer," she pointed out, attempting to swing the conversation back to its formerly upbeat tone.
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#9
"you will meet them. they will walk in all my old paths through this land."

softly she wondered if lane might judge her for how her body had not nurtured kausiut.

the memory of the tupilak hardened the moonwoman's look for a moment, though it passed. "i have been given much luck. soon i will be mother, hunter, atska, and warrior!" it was a masculine boast, or perhaps not at all. only somehow it did not fit the look of her.

kukutux gave way to her familiar lines, suffused with pride. "the one who did this to me will speak no more words. i took her tongue."
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"Maybe I'll bring mine along for the meeting. Both Veteran and Wayfarer seem to have inherited their mother's wandering heart." Parting from them had been especially dramatic this time around, with the pups insisting that either Lane stay, or she bring them along too. Lane could not recall being so difficult herself, when her own parents left for work.. perhaps it was some function of the complicated sibling dynamics at play. They did have so very many others vying for their father's attention. 

Lane could see the mother, hunter, and warrior within Kukutux, but what was that other thing? "Atska?" she echoed questioningly. Did it mean 'healer', perhaps? Lane was distracted from her question by Kukutux's next statement. "Her tongue? Fucking hell, Kukutux. What happened?" The tongue was not a casualty of a typical fight. The only tongue-removals she had ever heard of (and they were very few) had been done coldly, intentionally, and in most cases, ritualistically.
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kukutux began to tell the tangled stories. she told lane of first finding nuak, of how she had keenly believed he was her kith. that she had taken him home to moonglow and given him meat and a name.

that the tupilak had come for him, and that not only had he run away with her, he had stolen a sacred object from kukutux. 

but this had not been enough for nuak or the demon. kukutux described how they had come back again, to rob and to break and to steal. how the red demon had been caught and held and punished by all of moonglow, that kukutux had torn out a grave piece of her tongue. and how nuak had become prisoner of moonglow through the long and hot days of summer. 

lastly, then, that the demon girl and another boy had come to plead that nuak be released, but he had been kept and scarred by moonglow for his crimes before he was finally allowed to run from them.

long after she had begun speaking, kukutux was at last silent.
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#12
Sacred objects, demons, prisoners and punishments... Kukutux's story was a jarring reminder of how differently she experienced the world, through the lens of her spirituality. Lane might have felt overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all if the story hadn't been woven so poetically. As it was, Lane was able to conceptualize it as a heroic retelling; not a falsehood, exactly, but moreso an embellished version of history such as one you would tell to a pup when you wished them to glean a moral lesson. 

It was also a reminder that no matter how much she respected Kukutux and enjoyed her company, Moonglow would not be a comfortable home for Lane if she ever found herself parted from Duskfire Glacier. It was some reassurance that Lane had made the correct choice in turning down the moonwoman's offer of membership so many moons ago.

"I'm sorry to hear that this nuak brought so much pain and violence to Moonglow. And after such an effort was made to help him..." Lane shook her head. She would stop short of revealing her own personal distaste for the way events had played out in Moonglow: in particular, for the permanent disfigurement of a fellow wolf. "First, do no harm," had been taught to Lane so early that they might have been actually her first words. A medic's most basic commandment was to never purposefully draw the blood of another.. or so she had been taught. This belief was the reason that her own parents had declined to join up with a pack. They did not want partisan loyalties to ever interfere with their commitment to life. Lane was beginning to see the good sense in their choice.
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#13
kukutux clucked her tongue. "he is a young hunter. often they make a bad path when they do not have a man's guidance." she scuffed her paw lightly over the foliage in front of them, thinking. "my heart does not have hate for him."

but she did not want to talk about nuak always.

the woman tilted her head skyward. "i do not want to leave, lane," she said in a regretful breath, seeking the other's eyes with a soft look. "this time, it is ... gentle. to my spirit." the other woman had become deeply important to her. the duck would not see her another way.
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Lane nodded as Kukutux mentioned a young man's need for guidance. She thought of Veteran, and she was glad he had his father to guide him. 

"Oh, I feel the same," Lane sighed out, closing her eyes as she emptied her lungs into the gentle breeze. She didn't want to return home just yet-- not so much because this place was particularly gentle to her spirit, but more so because Duskfire Glacier was so abrasive to it. 

"Things didn't work out the way I'd hoped. The man that I'd thought-- that I'd hoped would-- well.. he chose someone else. ..Wintersbane also chose another. I'm.." She almost said "alone," but she corrected herself. "I have my children." 

She did not tell Kukutux of the backup plan she'd made with Kigipigik, or the disappointment she'd suffered when she arrived at Blacktail Deer Plateau and his pack was gone. Lane cared what Kukutux thought of her, and she didn't want to moonwoman to think she was duplicitous. The fact of the matter was that whether it involved duplicity or not, nothing she hoped or planned for herself seemed to be working out.
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lane began to speak.

she had loved a man but he had not chosen her. she had given wintersbane children but he had taken another wife. "they are what we have. our love for them is strong even if a man cannot be." she made as if to move closer then, to offer lane the physical presence of her affection.

"i would like to hear of your children." kausiut and samani both came to her mind, and beautiful grown sialuk who would surely be anaa as well.

"and i want to say the words: if duskfire does not bring you happiness, you do not have to stay there." she had made moonglow with sialuk. lane might find her own strengths in the same.
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Lane leaned in to Kukutux's gesture of affection, pressing her forehead against her friend's shoulder. For a fleeting moment she thought she might cry, but when she pulled away she was smiling despite the tears shimmering in her eyes. With friends like Kukutux and children like hers, she had no need to cry. 

"Thanks, Kukutux," Lane said earnestly. "But Duskfire Glacier is my children's home. They still need their mother, and I won't part them from their father." She hesitated. "I have thought about it," she admitted, " And I'm not ready to give up just yet-- not on Duskfire Glacier, and not on your matchmaking." She grinned teasingly. 

As for the children? "Wayfarer is a wanderer at heart, like her mom," Lane laughed, "But she's much more hot-headed than I ever remember being. Veteran is more easy-going, and he's twice the pack wolf I'll ever be. Loyal and dutiful like his father, just a little more.. social, I suppose." Lane's smile twitched a bit wryly. Surely Wintersbane's aloof, chilly nature hadn't escaped Kukutux.
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not on her matchmaking. kukutux smiled inside herself. she had come with a name. 

"i understand." lane was a good woman. she would live beside the hearth of wintersbane until her children were ready to be without her. "it is only in my heart that i have this want that you should also be happy."

veteran and wayfarer. a son and a daughter. moonwoman was reminded poignantly of her raindrop and the young moon-hunter.

she could barely allow herself to think of him. in many ways, kukutux had not unsnarled the agonies of losing her son.

"they have your spirit in both of them. already i see this and i have not yet looked at their faces."

her ears came forward. "i made a meeting with a man who is one of my own people. he did not come to moonglow. he searches for a place of ice and snow. he goes to moonsong now, but i do not think it is the place he will want." her lips curved wryly, but she said nothing more.
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Kukutux wanted for Lane's happiness. The young medic smiled in gratitude, although there was a knowingness behind her expression that she would share with Kukutux when their eyes met. Kukutux was also a mother, and she would understand that the well-being of the children always came first, and personal happiness came second, if it came at all. 

What was this? Kukutux had a match for her? Lane had (mostly) been teasing when she spoke her comment about holding out hope for Kukutux's matchmaking, but of course she would hear what Kukutux had to say. 

"Moonsong? He wants to settle the other glacier?" Lane clarified, vaguely recalling the name of the beachside glacier. "You can send him my way, next time you see him," Lane agreed. Why not? She had everything to gain, and nothing to lose. "You can tell him that he'll find much better company at Duskfire Glacier than he will at Moonsong," she added with a laugh. Would Kukutux give his name, Lane wondered? That would make him much easier to identify, if he happened to stop by the Duskfire territory.
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"he has the name of issoratuyok," kukutux said. "he is a determined man. i only knew him a short time, but this i know to be plain." 

she smiled with her small teeth. "he will find moonsong to be too dark. but i think that he will cross the mountains then. he is like my kinsman kigipigak."

it was why she had sent the moon-dog to the grave-place. to see what and what he did not wish when it came to building. but build he would, and she meant lane to meet him.
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"Oh, him!" Lane's eyes lit in recognition when she heard Issorartuyok's name, and she laughed a little. "He already resides in Duskfire. He.. um, he spends much of his time with another promising recruit, a woman named Meerkat," she noted pointedly. Lane delivered the news with a sigh, meeting Kukutux's gaze with a tight smile. Lane was proving to be quite a difficult woman to match, wasn't she? 

"You know Kigipigik?" Lane asked curiously. Her features darkened a beat later, when she remembered. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but Kigipigik is no longer at the Plateau. He and his wolves have vanished." The sorrow upon Lane's heart was plain.
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#21
feel free to fade! would love an updated one whenever u have time <33

now it was her turn to smile. her brow arched. "perhaps your totem is too strong for any of these men, lane," she said softly by way of praise. the duck's soft ears swept forward at the fall of the healer's features.

"yes. he came back to moonglow. he has been with us for a long hand of time." her tone gave nothing away, but she was curious. "he was alone and his heart was empty." kukutux did not add that it seemed kigipigak had not yet mended. he would not remain as he was always.

"i know meerkat. she has almost the same age as sialuk." young, then. issoratuyok was a man in his prime. young women who were not yet mothers would be drawn to him. but lane had given children and had the respect of duskfire. 

kukutux knew who she would choose, if she were the moon-dog.

another thought, willed into being and then quieted. "let us part ways now," she said with a sigh. "but we will not be long gone from each other. duskfire is only five days' walking from moonglow. maybe i will come and tease you there." her mouth filled with a laugh.
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"Perhaps your totem is too strong for any of these men, Lane."

Kukutux clearly meant it kindly, but Lane wasn't all that sure it was really a compliment, given how serious Kukutux was about matching eligible wolves. If men didn't want a lady with a strong totem (whatever that was?) maybe Lane should find a way to turn hers down a notch..?

Lane listened hungrily as Kukutux spoke of Kigipigak, identifying him as a Moonglow original. Lane hadn't known that, but she could see it. She pictured him fitting well into Kukutux's pack, but she was uncomfortable imagining him alone and empty as he was described. That's not the man I know. Her Kigipigak was a magnetic personality, vibrant and booming with laughter.

Kukutux commented next on Meerkat. "Oh, I guess that's true," Lane remarked of Meerkat's age. "She's been great with the kids. Veteran adores his Coach Meekah." Meerkat had been so valuable and responsible, Lane had nearly forgotten how young she was. Perhaps that was understandable, as Lane was still pretty young herself. She actually conceptualized herself to be more of a cohort with Meerkat and Sialuk than with the great healers and mothers of the Teekons. She was wholly unaware of how much Kukutux believed her set apart. 

Kukutux had to get going, but she suggested coming by the Glacier to tease Lane. "I'd like that," Lane agreed, matching Kukutux's smile with a broad grin of her own. After they parted, Lane would continue collecting traveling herbs on her own with a spring in her step, listening as Kukutux's song as faded into the distance.