Redhawk Caldera The View from Halfway Down
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 The day was mauzy, with humidity and the threat of a late afternoon thunderstorm darkening the horizon and making the air feel warm and close. He could hear the rumble faintly, and wondered if the storm might slide by and pass the caldera, or if he should move to somewhere more sheltered. 
     On the Southern edge of the lake, he had a great view from where he lay. He was close to the edge of the cliff, with one paw hanging over, and his muzzle slung over one bent elbow. He didn't look down- he looked out, toward the slowly moving clump of dark clouds. The wind picked up; it was cooler, almost suddenly. The storm would come, but he wouldn't move out of its path.
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teya had heard the call go up for bronco. perhaps hyperaware after their conversation, she had chosen to go to ground. the raven swam the short ford to the island she had once shared with reyes and sorana. there in the empty, abandoned den on the lake island, she slept a dark and dreamless sleep.
when teya woke, it was with hunger and to find a storm gathering.
her fur was still damp from her second swim back to the mainland when she found bronco, looking pensive in his reclining. the storm was headed their way. she licked her chestfur. "good fishing in rain." and then she was quiet, happy to let a silence stretch.
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In the advent of the storm, there was one patch of gold. Damp with lake water, Teya found him, and the winsome gleam in her azure eyes waved some of his pensive mood aside. He lifted his head, and found his eyes drawn to the way her fur crimped a bit, behind her ears and along her ruff, where the fur was softest. Her tongue smoothed the fur, momentarily, before it curled again. He huffed, a slight uptick in the corners of his lips. Then he pushed himself to his feet, and gave his pelt a shake. 
        He licked his lips. "Let's go fishing, then," He said, his voice sincere, but playful too. He searched for her gaze for just a moment, as he moved toward her and passed close by her shoulder, assuming she would follow as he led the way away from the cliffs, down toward where the bank would be easier to descend.
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bronco moved decisively and teya followed with only a moment's thought, pleasantly surprised that he took the lead. it suggested to the raven that this should be an assessment of sorts, given the fact that he was going to help head their next hunt.
the ground seemed alive; the trees breathed and even the air felt as thought it was humming. everything waited for the storm.
teya took a moment to glance skyward as they descended. her eyes flicked curiously over bronco as she looked at him next; gazes meeting and hers leaping aside for the water she was meant to fish.
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The shifting of pressure and temperature roused him from his somber mood. He seemed to sip energy from the gathering storm; some instinct likely designed to keep him safe and give him the strength he might need should the storm be dangerous. 
          He glanced in her direction when he thought he saw a flash of blue- but she was looking out toward the water. ”You were away for a bit,” He commented. ”How was it?” He knew only vague details- something to do with Akashingo, and that Teya and Sorana had gone for some sort of celebration.
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"it was — fun. but ... wild. violent. they — very different than us. than anyone." teya looked down at her paws while she explained, not wanting to trip in front of bronco despite the fact that it was an empty fear; she knew the land now like the outside of her own gumline.
"pharaoh ramesses is married again. big wedding party, lots to eat and drink." she was rambling, and silenced her voice with a snort of air through her nostrils.
teya thought she felt the air thicken now.
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Fun and wild could go together. But fun and violent? He knew very little of the pack, and already they seemed perhaps a bit more different than Bronco was comfortable with. Teya also seemed rattled by the experience. Parties weren't something Bronco really knew...Meetings, and collaborative hunts, but he'd never experienced planned festivities, not like what Teya was describing. He wondered if he could ask her more- but she was looking down. That was likely a no. 
        He tilted his head at the word 'wedding.' "Sounds like...Quite a wedding," He commented, though he sounded anything but convinced. It shouldn't have been too unfathomable to him, for a celebration of love to turn violent. These violent delights have violent ends. The concept of drinking anything other than water was also a foreign idea, so it seemed odd to him that having plenty to drink would be worth mention. The name and title she spoke were new to him, but he wasn't sure how to interpret her tone when she spoke of a man twice married.         
"You...Get to see any of your friends there?" He asked. His way of trying to figure out where Teya's link with the strange pack was, without being too direct.
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teya let out a light laugh. "friends." she thought of sayf and her mouth twitched. "briefly." now her eyes hovered on bronco long enough to meet his own, just long enough. and then she could no longer; she looked away and flexed her paws against the earth.
her plume came up in an arc and teya sniffed the air, suddenly a predator beneath the barometric changes. "i really just go to represent brecheliant. but i see lilitu there, she is princess now. and — she ask to come home. and i see tierra. reyes' daughter," teya said, a bit quickly. 
"she happy to see me," the raven added, a bit wonderingly. "reyes had — he went to see her. not come back."
teya felt her voice slipping back into a monotone; she wanted to shake off the dreariness, for once, for once! "you wanna run to lake?" she inquired, mouth decorated with a bit of mischief when she turned her gaze back to his.
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There was a tell in the way her lips jigged, and the flat tone of her voice. Something- a friendship or affinity- had gone sour. Her laugh painted her as a skeptic. She looked to him, and he probably just looked a bit confused. It seemed her relationship with Akashingo was complicated, to say the least. 

He jumped slightly at the change in her posture and emitted a whisper of a growl. He looked, but saw nothing. Sudden movements had that effect on him. He was quick to relax, hoping she hadn’t noticed. 

Some of what she said went over his head. The white noise that often followed a startle scrambled his thoughts for a couple minutes. He tuned in visibly at the mention of a name he recognized. ”Tierra? Huh. Yeah, I knew her when she was just an ankle-biter,” He said with a slight but brittle laugh. The topic of Reyes’ absence weighed on the conversation. He didn’t know what to say. 

But she didn’t seem keen to dwell on it. Maybe Reyes being gone freed her a bit. So when she suggested they run, he gave her a slightly oblivious half-smile. It felt like he was recovering from whiplash. But when he did, he grinned, dropped into a brief play-bow and then bounded off ahead.
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something was off, but teya would not process its wrongness until later. she leant into the breeze, encouraged by the grin that flicked across his lips. 
and fully focused on herself, she embraced the haptic pleasure of running; the wind through one's hackles, the springiness of the earth beneath paw. teya flattened herself, suddenly reckless; she leapt a boulder then a fallen branch; she was going entirely too fast —
the blurring of air tore at her eyes and forced every thought from her mind.
she listened for bronco/
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\whose heavy footfalls would likely fall out of range, especially with the wind singing in her ears. 

His head start didn’t give him an advantage, not when he took off at a buoyant lope and she slipped past him with the keen speed of an arrow. She was ruthless, like a starving hunter in pursuit of an invisible prey. She dodged limbs and flew over obstacles as though her path had a slipstream to guide her. 

Bronco had been prone for too long, and his body did not take kindly to the sudden demands, but he asked for speed from his muscles anyway. She slipped out of sight in the rush of gold and green, leaving behind a trail of rustling foliage for him to follow. He crashed after her, encouraged each time he caught sight of her fleeing heels and the gilded brush of her tail until he could finally keep her in his crosshairs, pursuing her with the blunt power of a bear through the woods and toward the lake.
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bronco's size next to her own reminded her briefly of kynareth, how the way he had swallowed her with his frame had consumed teya in the way she desired. her mind flickered; lashed; she imagined for a long, crazed moment: what if he was chasing me.
what if their race was more than that.
teya forced the stupid, fantastic, desperate thing out of her mind — and when the surface of the lake loomed hard and blue and sudden, she dove into it, feet pushing from the bank.
it was frigid; she gasped, her head breaking the surface. and then teya laughed giddily, looking to see if bronco had followed.
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