Duskfire Glacier and suddenly i'm someone that prays
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All Welcome 
attn: @Lane ( no obligation if you're too busy! <3 ) but all welcome! forwarded to about a week after wintersbane & tzila's death.

with his plans set into motion; a muddling of ribbons pinned to a warboard within his mind, arius knows what he is to do. it was what he'd known, deep in the marrow of his bones, he should've done at the start but had held out foolish and boyish hope that wintersbane would prove stronger than his injuries. the titan had fallen and in the wake of his death ( and the resulting death of his mother ), a week fresh now he holds and summons his conversation with ensio several times a day.

he disregards his once plight in the healing arts in favor of something that resounds rightfully in the marrow of his tundrian bones. it helps to give him a respite from the anger and the sorrow that war constant in his body.

he was not ( planning on ) forming a coup and did not want his desires ( shared or not by his brother ) to go unknown by the current leadership of duskfire.

so, arius seeks first the one of the two he knows better. he follows a scent trail he thinks is lane's most recent in the hopes it would lead him to her.
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Lane had grown so used to being a zombie in the weeks previous, with all of her waking hours and mindspace consumed by worry-- worry for the pack, for her children's father, even for Issorartuyok and Meerkat away on their journey-- that she felt rather empty now, especially without Wintersbane's care on her endless list of tasks to complete. Lane drifted up toward the Frostfire Ridge, where she had been brewing Wintersbanes saiyu medication. She meant to get rid of it. It wasn't needed anymore, after all. 

The fact remained that Wintersbane had teetered on the edge of life and death for far longer than any wolf should, and he had lived his days in a blurry haze of intense pain and confusion. His death was a blessing, in many ways. His was the easier death to adjust to-- the death that the pack had been prepared to face. Veteran and Wayfarer (and Tzila's children, Lane imagined) had been encouraged to spend time at Wintersbane's side, and to tell him anything they might wish to say. They had hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst.

Therefore, Tzila's sudden loss had affected Lane in a more profound way. Lane was angry, so angry at Tzila, she was guilty (should she have tried to be a better friend? Was there a way she could have been more supportive?), she was heartbroken for Tzila's children, and there must have been about a dozen other feelings on top of that that Lane couldn't put into words. Her thoughts could not even touch on Tzila's memory without sending her emotions boiling over, and so every time her mind threatened to go there, Lane forced her thoughts in a different direction. 

Lane heard footsteps behind her, and she turned to find Arius approaching. Arius, Tzila's boy. No, no, push that thought away. Arius, the young medic. "Arius, hello," she greeted him, tail swinging gently. "I was just going up to Frostfire Ridge to, ah, to tend to the saiyu." Arius would be familiar with the hot-brewed medication, given his involvement in his father's care over the last few weeks. "Would you like to join me?" Perhaps cleaning out the medication would help them both get some closure.
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luck was on his side in that his nose had not led him astray and arius soon came across the one he'd sought. relief coursed through him, though it is short lived. in it's place rushes the bitter tasting anger when she mentions the medicine that had, in the end, not been able to save wintersbane's life. how to say that he did not desire to be a medic anymore? he would, he tells himself; sometime ‚ÄĒ for his mouth is already forming the word sure. before he can think to keep it at bay.

the medicine had been useless anyway.

he gestures for her to lead the way, though he was familiar with the trek, and follows close behind her; silent for a while as he gathers his thoughts.

i was looking for you, he informs her. i'm giving up the medic trade. it was easier than he thought for the truth to spill from his lips; but he was numb and felt confident that there was nothing left to hurt him, lest of all disappointment ( he was wrong, but y'know folly of youth ). instead, i'd like to train to be a leader. to take my rightful place as alpha one day. i am the heir, after all.

it sounds more pompous than he means; and he winces slightly but does not work to amend his words. he means what he says, after all and he sees no point in beating 'round the bush.
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The boy agreed, and Lane adjusted her pace so that they were walking side by side. She wondered if she ought to talk about something, to fill the air with chatter in an effort to keep thoughts at bay. However right when she decided to speak, the boy piped up first. 

Her ears flew up in surprise to hear the boy renounce his medical studies. He had seemed so devoted in the past weeks, but perhaps that had more to do with his father's illness than with a true desire to study medicine. Even so, big changes should never be pursued during periods of grief. 

The boy went on to reveal his desire to train as a leader, going so far as to claim the title of heir for himself. 

Cold dread settled over Lane. "The heir?" she questioned, throat rather dry. "Did.. someone tell you that you carry this title?" Given that Wintersbane had fathered five (four? five? we're going with five) children last spring, it was extremely troubling that Arius seemed to think of himself as the sole heir, apropos of nothing. 

With Makatza gone, Lane had, perhaps mistakenly, assumed that the threat to her own children had passed. Tzila had once told Lane of the demons that haunted her, and how she believed that these very demons had been passed along to her daughter, Makatza. Could Arius have inherited these demons as well? Would they lead him down the same road as Makatza, namely the pursuit of control and dominance at whatever cost?
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it occurs to arius then that he sounds a bit like his missing sister ...but he wasn't sure what other word to use for it. he was the son of the glacier's leading pair ...on it's original leading pair. he settles a cool look at lane. i'm not going to turn into my sister, if that's what you're worried about, he hopes his words might assure her but at the same time ...would he be draw the line at taking it if it wasn't given to him?

he didn't know and was hoping to avoid putting himself in that position by being upfront about his desires.

i'm not sure what else i should call myself. ensio and i are the sons of the glacier's initial leading, mated pair. so to arius, heir makes the most sense.

but tzila'd had her demons and wintersbane was not without his own restless pursuit(s) of leadership ( though it is unknown to arius ).

he built the legacy of the glacier for us. for his children. should it not be a child of wintersbane that eventually takes the reigns? i'm a child of wintersbane expressing an interest in being groomed for leadership. but if push came to shove ...how far was he willing to press until he got what he wanted? in the good scenarios he did not have to press too far or push too hard.
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"I'm not going to turn into my sister, if that's what you're worried about." 

"I'm not worried," Lane insisted. The lie hung rather awkwardly between them. 

How had he known she was worried, and exactly what she was worried about? She'd thought she'd phrased her question carefully. She doubted that Veteran or Wayfarer would have picked up on whatever subtle subtext that had clued-in Arius, and so it was all the more worrying that the self-styled heir was capable of such penetrating insight. It was eerie and uncanny, that he seemed able to read her mind and identify her feelings so accurately. Lane suppressed a shiver. 

Arius had always seemed to her a rather cold, distant, watchful child... like his father. It now occurred to Lane that all of his watching might have revealed to him secrets that he should not yet be of an age to know. 

Speaking of such secrets, Arius went on to insist that his parentage was what, he believed, made him superior to the other Duskfire pups. But his parentage could not be certain, could it? Tzila had admitted to Lane her dalliance with Rye, and Tzila's indiscretion had effectively tainted her children's indisputable claim to Wintersbane's legacy. Arius, Ensio and Makatza were just as likely to have been conceived through Rye. By this child's logic then, Lane's own pups-- Wayfarer and Veteran-- would have the stronger claim to leadership, given that they were undeniably sired by Wintersbane. 

Lane opened her mouth to speak, fully intending to set the boy straight, but before she could get the words out, she decided against it. She closed her mouth without a word. Arius would need to be informed of his sullied lineage someday, but today was not the day. He was grieving, and despite her fears and misgivings, Lane would not tarnish the memory of Tzila for Arius while the boy was in the middle of mourning her. 

"All the children of Duskfire will inherit the pack someday," Lane confirmed. On this point they could agree. "And you are all being trained with skills that will aid the pack, no matter who eventually steps into leadership. A medic can also be a leader," she reminded the boy, a bit wryly. Lane herself was evidence enough of that. 

"Your interest is noted, Arius," she assured him. "My advice to you would be to cultivate a trade and seek to master it. Any trade will do, even medicine." She paused thoughtfully. If Arius wished to apprentice himself to her, would she take him? Given her newfound distrust of him? 

She concluded, "Duskfire Glacier is not a monarchy, and leadership is not awarded by birth or blood. Leadership is awarded according to respect, which must be earned." It was not a belief that she realized she held until she spoke it, but as soon as the words were out there, she knew them to be true.
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his insight to what he assumed was worrying her had come from watching his sister and noting her cruel behavior and the lack of respect to her elders. he did not wish to follow in her footsteps but he notes the roadblocks lane ‚ÄĒ as far as arius could see ‚ÄĒ was putting in front of him. distaste lingers bitterly upon his tongue; as he tries furiously to think of how he could tear these walls down. brick by brick, if he had to.

i don't want to be a medic! arius snaps. medicine couldn't save my father! grief seeps out of his wavering tone. abruptly, embarrassment draws his jaw together with a resolute click. it was hocus-pocus. nothing more.

and if i must seek a trade then i will be a warrior, like my father. to be what he believed wintersbane had wanted of his children: to follow in his footsteps ( even if it wasn't true ). if that is the case then why is issorartuyok a leader? he has not been long here enough to have earned respect. not when rye was a contestant or meerkat. and that is not the grounds on which my father founded the glacier. he wanted a legacy for his children. arius had heard it many and more times ...which was the root of what was to blame for the miasma of things he felt now at being asked to divert his attentions from wanting to be leadership to a trade.

it was like asking for deer and being given fish instead.
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Arius's measured bearing broke, and Lane briefly witnessed the grieving child within. Here was a great pain, lashing out at the bars of its cage, but truly, what was was it that sought to contain this pain? Was it cold, cunning ambition that caged the boy's emotions? Lane's feelings for Arius were now a blend of deep empathy, fear and mistrust. She had no idea how to begin to sort out her emotions.

"I'm sorry, Arius," Lane murmured. It could be worse, she supposed. He could have blamed Lane or Eldrtich, or even himself for failing to save his father. At least he was only blaming the medicine, which was indeed quite limited in its ability to truly heal. In fact, this was why Lane insisted on being called a medic rather than a healer. There is no mysticism in medicine. She does not heal a body, a body heals itself. Or it doesn't, in the case of Wintersbane. 

"Issorartuyok is a leader because he has earned my respect. He was elevated to aid me and lead at my side, similar to how your father elevated Tzila to lead at his." As she spoke the words, Lane realized exactly how Meerkat had drawn the conclusion that Lane and Issorartuyok were coupled. Lane banished the errant thought. 

Something ugly shifted inside Lane when the boy purported to know Wintersbane's will. "Wintersbane did not found Duskfire Glacier alone. I founded it alongside him, before you were ever a twinkle in your mother's eye. And now I am the only founding member who remains." Wintersbane and Tzila were dead. Iana was gone. Imaq was gone, with Rye chasing after her. "Wintersbane was my friend." Once, he was even her lover. "Do not deceive yourself into thinking you know better what Wintersbane wanted, or that you are the only one given to living out his will." Hot tears stung Lane's eyes, and she turned away from the boy.  

Wintersbane's children would have their legacy, she would make sure of it. Truly, that was the reason Lane had volunteered to lead. She wished to protect the Duskfire legacy for the Duskfire children-- hers included-- and to cultivate the legacy's growth. But she would do the Duskfire heirs no favors if she promised power to children who had not earned it. She wished for Duskfire to remain strong, and part of that was insuring that it was not inherited by spoiled, entitled children.
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are you? arius wants to spit the question like it's venom but refrains. instead, he swallows it down, determined not to let his frustration and grief ruin what he is trying ...and possibly failing ...to establish.

except on the topic of issorartuyok, he cannot seem to bite it back. do you even know him? arius returns with, acting every bit the petulant child he was. my mother was his wife and had been around since it's founding too. he was not ignorant to the glacier's history, brief as it was. wintersbane had been informative ...before his accident and arius had soaked up his father's words like a sponge.

i have no qualms about my siblings wanting to lead, be it ensio, veteran or wayfarer. it is our legacy, he repeats, feeling like a broken ( and very frustrated ) record. and it's not like i'm asking to make me an alpha right here and right now. he points out. i sought you out to teach me. because ensio, veteran, wayfarer ...and lane herself, were all arius had left. and if ensio, veteran or wayfarer want to be taught to lead too then fine. they should be. there were many solutions to the problem, should they all want for leadership. there were four positions that could be split, or they could splinter into a sister pack ...but that was all a lot more than arius was asking for at present.

but if you won't teach me then i will seek out someone who will. it hangs unsaid on the air, bitten back with the piercing of arius' teeth into his tongue until he tastes the metallic linger of blood. please don't turn me away, lane.

it is the first ...and only... time he would beg.
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"Do you even know him?"

Arius dug deeper, sinking his teeth into Lane's hypocrisy and tearing it out, forcing it to come to light out here, out in the open. Inwardly, Lane was squirming, her mind racing in its search for some explanation that would satisfy this ruthlessly discerning boy. So far, with her own children she had been able to decree anything she wanted, for any reason, hypocritical or not, and it was never argued because she was the mom. She was realizing too late that this approach would not work on Arius. He was far too astute.

The boy's words did reassure her to some degree, though it was really the pleading that prompted her to overcome fear. To let her own walls down, and reveal a piece of her own vulnerability.

"Okay, Arius. I can teach you what I know, but.." she let out a frustrated sigh. "--it isn't much," she admitted. "You asked why Issorartuyok leads, and I gave you a shitty answer. Let me tell you the truth. He leads because I don't know a thing about leadership. I stepped up to leadership to make sure your legacy is honored and protected, and he stepped up to lead. He knows how, and he wants to." Both were important, as far as Lane was concerned. 

"This isn't me turning you away," she assured him, "...But you might do better apprenticing to Issorartuyok, if it's your desire to be a warrior and a leader. He is both of those, and I am barely one of them." Lane made the suggestion hesitantly, but she made it none the less. It played on all of her fears, the idea that Arius may see Veteran as a rival, and the flames of rivalry would be fanned all the more if they were both apprenticed to Issorartuyok. But Lane still felt she owed something to Tzila, and something to her begging child, and so she reluctantly steered Arius down the very path that may someday put him at a crossroads with Veteran's.
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the tension mounting beneath his pelage, lingering tight in his chest eases as she relents. he lets out the breath he hadn't even been aware he'd been holding in an exhale of relief and gratitude.

that sounds dangerous, arius observes. but i am glad you stepped up. and it was the truth; without her there to act as buffer there was no telling what a virtual stranger would do with complete control of the glacier. it makes him nervous, prickling his guard hairs along his nape.

and now without his father and mother ... the fate of the glacier seemed to hang in a precarious balance.

or so his imagination would lead him to believe; true or not.

i don't know him. i don't trust him. arius says; stubborn as a bull. at least not yet. he tacks on a bit reluctantly. i know and trust you. he would approach issorartuyok and ask for guidance, of course, but he felt better knowing that lane would teach him too. better knowing that someone who helped his father found the glacier was in his corner.
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It was dangerous, they boy was exactly right. Especially now that Issorartuyok's family were coming out of the woodwork, if Issorartuyok happened to be a usurper who wished to stage a coup, he was now very well set up for it. He had Meerkat, Tuuluuwaq and Tanaraq at his side, and Lane had... a bunch of five month old pups. She wasn't even sure that her own son wouldn't pick Issorartuyok's side, if he was forced to choose. 

"I believe that Issorartuyok has only good intentions, and I think Duskfire Glacier will prosper under his leadership." She really believed these things. She was being honest with Arius now, because he had made it clear that anything less would be met with intense scrutiny. His demeanor had shifted for the better, which reaffirmed Lane's decision to take the honest approach. 

"But you should always heed your instincts. If yours are telling you not to trust someone without knowing them, then listen." Lane had always urged her own children to listen up when their inner voice spoke, and she would encourage the same for Arius. 

Lane hoped that Arius would see this as reason to get to know Issorartuyok. Just as Arius did not yet know and trust Issorartuyok, Lane did not yet know and trust Arius. He could mean well, or he could be another Makatza, playing the long game. She could not know for sure, unless she allowed herself to get to know the boy. 

The children did not know this, but Lane intended to make one of them her beta when they reached the age of nine months. Issorartuyok had agreed with this plan, adding that the child who was chosen should express the desire to lead, as well as demonstrate the appropriate skills. Arius had already ticked one box, and time would tell whether he would meet the rest of the criteria.
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OOC: Cameo post. Ensio is in the background silently eavesdropping. 

Ensio had made his feelings known to Arius. There was no room for doubt, no un-certainty. They were brothers, bound and bonded by blood. Stone and Ice. They had each others backs. With their desires, feelings and wants made clear, he left his other half to get down to business.

But where one was, the other was surely never far away. That was the case now. Discreetly, at a healthy distance away, far enough so he may not be immediately noticed, the Glacier's heir observed the conversation taking place between Arius and Lane. Watched their body language, dissected and memorized the words exchanged, carefully. Listened with an un-nerving sense of steely patience. He huffed softly, admirably for his sibling.

He had waited. His time with Lane too, would come soon enough. The boys were a package deal, after all.
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arius is skeptical, but knows that it's perhaps unfair of him ...if only because it is based on the fact that issorartuyok is an unknown to him. he's never made it much of a mission to get to know the wolves of duskfire glacier and having spent the last month at wintersbane's side only to watch him waste away and die ‚ÄĒ a small swell of white hot anger rises within arius' chest and he does his best to beat it down ‚ÄĒ leaves arius with the distinct feeling of coming above ground after a long time and unsure of who and what he could trust.

but he's known lane for ...as long as he could remember and thus he assumes since his birth.

understood, arius drawls. i will make an effort to know the wolves that make up duskfire now. but he could not promise his opinions would be shining. unfortunately, for him, he was too much of his father's ( and perhaps mother's ) son. thank you for ...listening to me. though he wasn't entirely sure it would get him what he desired ( and admittedly, he'd come off very strong ), it was a start.
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"Good," Lane praised Arius for his decision. "You're welcome." He was being much more agreeable now, but of course a lot of that probably had to do with the fact that Lane was giving him his way. Makatza had always been nice too, when everything was going according to her design. 

"Knowing your wolves will be one of your most important responsibilities as a leader," she added.  "It will be your job to keep tabs on of our abilities and interests, so you know how to delegate tasks." Perhaps Arius would be more inclined to throw himself into this new assignment if he understood how it would help him develop his leadership potential.

The pair would cross over to the Frostfire Ridge at that point, making their way down a well-worn path to Lane's saiyu pools. If he was up for it, Lane would get Arius's help cleaning out the pool with Wintersbane's medication. For his effort, she would impart on him her knowledge of each of their packmates skills, so he would have a foundational knowledge to build upon. Meerkat was a scout, counselor and teacher. Issorartuyok was a warrior and protector. Lane herself was a medic and ranger. Eldritch knew herbs, as well as spirituality and mysticism. Askari was a pool of knowledge, trained from birth in the art of leadership. Arius might find that particularly interesting-- Lane wouldn't be surprised if he chose her to seek out first. 

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