Acceptance thread  frozen pines
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Kodiak He
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#1

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#ee7f2d
song inspo
I am ready to follow you even though I don't know where


Scattered to the far edges from beyond the fringe, he'd long since been separated from all that he ever knew. It was foolish of him to think that he'd known any better, that his nose was keener than the rest and it had put him on a mad goose chase to lands unknown. The wolfdog was sure he wouldn't be able to find his way back anyhow, it'd been so long and he was weary from travel.

The journey passing into the Fringe was one he'd rather not trek again, it had been dangerous and he was lucky to have his life. With the moon and stars as his guide Kodiak pressed on. Funnily enough, his determination never once wavering.

Paws raw from traveling and mind tired, all movement had become subconsciously done. Ears flicking to the far off sounds of frozen pines he had long since passed, the sap within bursting and causing echoing sounds loud as gunshots, but his eyes were focused on what lay ahead.

He hadn't even registered when steep, snowy mountains turned into dark, dim forest. The vegetation thick and his fur was catching snares and brambles as he passed them. An old tree root that had grown jutting from the ground, or perhaps was loosened from an earthquake caught his front paw and Kodi had fallen with a loud thud. His jaws clacking together with enough force to cause his tongue to bleed and he huffed shallowly. Bi-colored eyes glazed over with exhaustion as he attempted to rise, but his legs gave out on him. The large male snorted like a mad bull as he tried once more, his shaken limbs looking to find their grip against the ground and at one point it'd look like they'd found it until he toppled over again.

Was this where it was going to end? They say dogs find somewhere dark and quiet to die, and he snorted. "How fitting." He inhaled sharply, all the scents around him unfamiliar just like his surroundings, all but one. Kodi's eyes slightly widened at this, and then narrowed shortly after, licking away the metallic taste of iron. It couldn't possibly be, there's no way.








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Puffin [RP] he/him
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#2

The earthquake had passed, but his work had only just begun. Kestrel and the Halos tended to the injured they had found, but their emergency headcount revealed many of their number that were still missing. Nardir's territory was large, it was easy for the pack to spread out so much that they rarely saw each other; but after the sickness that had swept through the pack last year, Puffin had decided they needed a better way to keep track of each other. He hadn't seen Bell in what felt like eons, and it felt like all of their ranks had lost members without burying bodies. A search was necessary.

While others combed the fields and the vale, he did what he did best: climb. Many years ago he had been a courser, pulling sleds over flat planes of snow. But since Nardir had claimed this valley for their own, he had put his wiry muscle and stamina to trekking the mountainous perimeter of their home. Tireless, he could run the borders set around the Duskwood in a single day, but the mountains he had to take in trips. There were only so many mountains one could climb in a day, and Nardir had...many.

Smiling from the summit of one of their westernmost mountains, he looked out over Nardir's valley. The earthquake hadn't changed much; a few rivers and streams had wiggled into slightly different shapes, but that appeared to be all. Squinting down into the Duskwood, planning his descent, he spotted movement beneath the pines. He cocked his head. A visitor? The dog took mere heartbeats to plan out his course down the mountain before he vaulted over the edge of the rocky summit. He careened downward, paws stepping nimbly in each spot he plotted, merely agents of direction as gravity controlled his speed. It was almost like flying.

Like a bolt of lightning he shot into the Duskwood, narrowly dodging tree trunks and leaping nimbly over roots and fallen logs. But the lack of sunlight in these woods gave him an advantage: a lack of underbrush. He could see the figure clearly now, a hulking wolflike form, just crossing over the border. Puffin darted past him and skidded to a halt before him, claws digging beneath the carpet of pine needles and into the loamy soil below, and gave a breathless bark in greeting. "Hello!"

Panting heavily, tongue lolling in unconstrained glee from his flight, he looked the stranger over more carefully. Definitely a fringe dire, though there was something in his ears and tail that said dog. And a leather collar around his neck, the craftsmanship of which suggested humans. Puffin smiled. "You've entered Nardir's territory, friend! I'm Puffin, the Viceroy; what can I do for you?"


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Mercury She
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#3

This thread will take place after the conclusion of Fountain

There was much more for Mercury to ponder after talking with Alana.  She had been given a rank, and she did not at all resent the "in-training" suffix.  It was wise of her sister to ease her back into the workings of the ranks.  Had Alana asked her to step back in immediately as Queen, Mercury would have refused her.  She needed to reform a bond with these new members, and learning how the ranks had shifted in her absence could only be done by experiencing them.  She had climbed her first rung, and it felt good.  There was a spring in her step and for the first of many nights, she had slept soundly.  She'd missed having a job, and was looking forward to getting hers started.  She had decided to go look for breakfast before reporting in, and had decided the Duskwood would be a possible place to dine.  The thick forest could be hard to hunt in, but all manner of squirrels and rabbits called this home.  She may even catch a fawn if her luck was good.

She spotted a morsel, a fluffy little hare, grooming it's face in the gap between a pair of tree roots.  While the spot was a defensive position that allowed the rabbit to watch the direction it faced, it's back guarded by roots, it did not watch the one direction it should have... up.  Mercury crept soundlessly over the more distant roots towards her target.  A couple were large enough she had to climb over, but most she could avoid.  She was just about to use a fox jump to surprise the baby bunny when a bark echoed through the trees.  It startled both Mercury and the rabbit, but the rabbit was quicker.  It dashed through the gap in the roots and sprinted into a pile of rocks nearby, disappearing.  Mercury sighed, there would be no bunny breakfast for her.  Might as well go investigate what had caused all the ruckus.

"You've entered Nardir's territory, friend! I'm Puffin, the Viceroy; what can I do for you?"


Puffin's voice came back through the trees, and Mercury heard him before she saw him.  She had not yet been introduced to the Viceroy, but she did not foresee that being a problem.  She merely had to speak her name and some recognition dawned in the eyes of every Nardirian. Nardiri. She would never get used to the new term.  But more than she was interested in Puffin, she was interested in who he was talking to.  A visitor?  Having been escorted back into Nardir, Mercury didn't know how acceptances were done these days.  This could be a good opportunity to observe and learn.  She moved towards Puffin's voice, intending to stop just beyond the trees so that she would just be the audience.  She did not intend to interfere.

That thought flew out of her head when the pair came into view.  At first she would have dismissed the first glance as a coincidence. The coloring and build might have belonged to any number of brutes.  But she knew the rips in that ear, and the collar around her neck matched his own. The last time she had seen those eyes, they had been reflecting the glow of flames as she receded into the darkness of the forest.  On her journey, she had thought a lot about the circumstances that had given her the opportunity to answer the call of the wild that had returned her to her family.  About how she had left her team and her master behind.  They had wanted to search for him, but Mercury could not bring herself to join them.  She had finally been free, and could not choose the human over her sister.  She had been gone too long.  But now, instead of with their master, Kodiak was here, in a world he knew nothing about... why?  Without realizing it, Mercury had stepped through the last trees and stood in the open.

"Kodiak..."

His name came out in a whisper as she exhaled it in disbelief.




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Kodiak He
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#4
(This post was last modified: November 20, 2017, 08:10:05 PM by Kodiak.)

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#ee7f2d

He was too tired to raise his head, but his ears flicked forward on instinct to the sound of paws crunching dead leaves and grass. There was a whirl of colors and a distinct form, and bi-colored eyes looked up at the small form of a dog. Don't know this one. His brow raised, but the male addressed him and Kodi made his best attempt to be courteous.

Finally, he'd found some footing raising his rear up first while balancing all his weight toward his front, he pulled his tired and shambling body into a laxed seated position. Hopefully the other guy wouldn't take offense. Another raise of his brow at the name of this place, glancing around at the dim forest and then back to the husky. Clearing his throat and spitting out blood from his cut tongue. "Nardir, huh?" He tested it, making sure the pronunciation was correct and if not he'd look to the other apologetically.

"Sorry, if I walked into somewhere I shouldn't have. I've been traveling for sometime." Kodi mumbled, shaking the cold's chill from his coat, he'd curl closer into himself. Having been up in those snowy mountains for so long, the frigid air didn't seem to want to let go. "I was split up from my group, but I doubt they came this far though." Nodding sagely, he looked down to his large, bulky paws and snorted a half-hearted laugh. He wondered if any of them had made it, there might have been a few savvy enough to make it on their own. Wherever they were, he wished them all the safety in the world.

An ache in his bones made him wince and his lips curl into a pained grimace, turning one of his paws over to see a raw and bloody blister. That's what you get for not taking better care of yourself, that's what you get for not resting! He could hear it now, all the nitpicking from his pack, he'd always drowned it out. Hearing it now, there was a certain melancholy. You'll never hear that again. "It's nice to meet you Puffin. I'm-" His words stolen from him by one with silent steps, but the familiarity of the voice was what caught his attention. Kodiak...

Her dark form coming into view and his mouth hung slightly agape in disbelief, blinking once, twice, and then three times. It couldn't be? "Tikaani?" He was just as surprised as she was, if not more so. It had been so long since he had last seen the female, she was a sight for sore eyes for sure. "You're here?" It wasn't the first thing to come to mind, but it was cut short by the gut wrenching dry heave as he'd vomit out onto the mossy ground, there was a sudden need to stand, but it seemed his legs thought otherwise, still shaken. Grounded the wolfdog would remain.

Two worlds meeting once again.








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Puffin [RP] he/him
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#5

Puffin watched the wolf sit down, and wondered briefly where he had come from. Through the mountains, certainly, but from how far off? Beyond the Fringe? How deep into the Beyond had he been? Puffin hadn't ever really felt curious about what lay beyond the mountains; Byakko's family had come from there, as had several hellions he'd met, and they seemed just like everyone else in the Strait. But this stranger was just doggish enough to make him wonder who else lived in that great unknown.

"Nardir, huh?"

Puffin nodded, smiling. No, he could never go gallivanting off like he had in his youth. His place was here, and while he could always take trips to visit other places, it was to this secluded mountain valley he would always return. Life-changing journeys were a thing of the past, for him, and it was a freedom he did not mind shrugging off. Novelty faded; Nardir would never lose it's charm, to him.

"Sorry, if I walked into somewhere I shouldn't have. I've been traveling for sometime. I was split up from my group, but I doubt they came this far though."

"I haven't seen anyone else come through, no," Puffin replied. He definitely would have noticed others like this guy. Actually, they hadn't had new members in a bit, now that he thought about it. Aylie and Mercury were returning members, as were the new arrivals before them. Well, new to him. But there was always a trickle of old blood coming home, it seemed. Puffin cocked his head as the stranger almost introduced himself, and then followed his gaze to where Mercury stood amidst the trees.

"Kodiak..."

"Tikaani? You're here?"


Puffin looked back and forth between the two, head cocked. Tikaani? He thought her name was Mercury? He made no attempt to correct the huge wolf, though, the poor guy looked like he was seeing a ghost. Perhaps they had met while she was away? She certainly seemed to know who he was, and she had been gone a long time; who knew who all she knew now? Wouldn't that be something, to have someone from another life follow you into your new one. He thought of Phillip, and Koen. A lifetime away, in a network of tents and bonfires...

His heartbeat slowed from it's galloping pace, and took a deeper breath now that his panting had eased enough to permit it. "So...I take it you two know each other? That's cool! How'd that happen?"


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Mercury She
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#6
(This post was last modified: November 16, 2017, 11:44:04 AM by Mercury.)

"Tikaani? You're here?"

Mercury nodded, too stunned herself to speak. She had been so caught up in her loneliness, to come home only to be homesick, that it had consumed her thoughts and fueled her actions.  And now her worlds were colliding as Kodiak entered Nardir.  She didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  So many questions flashed through her mind, and she wanted nothing more than for the pair of them to take the time to talk.  Not that Kodi was much of a talker, generally.  She remembered him being gruff and to the point, but it had not made him cold.  He called her by the name humans had given her, though he knew her name. Her dog name, Tikaani, meant "wolf" and she had never hidden what she was from her team.  She had told them she had been captured by humans, they knew about the fighting pits, but beyond that, they simply knew she had a sister and a pack somewhere.  She had only told her team her name on the night she left.  It was no surprise that Kodiak, in shock, had called her the name that was most familiar to her.  She answered to it just as easily.

"So...I take it you two know each other? That's cool! How'd that happen?"

In the moment, she had forgotten Puffin was there.  She broke her aqua tourmaline gaze from Kodiak and cocked her head to the viceroy. Puffin was a dog, and while she didn't know his background, she thought he was smart enough to put two and two together. Kodi wore a collar identical to hers.  Shouldn't that have given it away?  Still, she remembered that this dog currently outranked her, and she would treat him respectfully.

"He is a member of my team."

She said, and provided no further explanation.  She turned her head back to Kodi, unsure of what to say, but then the winds changed and the iron tang of blood caught in her nostrils.  She inhaled sharply, and quickly scanned for the source, spotting the blood on the ground by one of Kodiak's paws.  Of course the idiot had run until he tore his pads.  He must have been running for ages.  She was still confused as to how he was even there.  She thought he would run himself into the ground for the sake of their human, not for her.  She needed time to talk to him, and he needed to be tended.  But while she coud technically accept him herself, Puffin's presence put a kink in that plan.  She could not override him, and did not wish to start an argument.  Had Kodiak meant to find her? Or were her worlds coming together in more ways than one?  His surprise at seeing her certainly didn't bode well for that theory.  Was it coincidence? And then he threw up. Obviously he was trying to kill himself.

"You are ill and have torn your paws."  She tsked, stating the obvious.  She turned to look back at Puffin, once again inclining her head.  It was difficult to show deference to someone shorter than she. " Viceroy, if you would please proceed. I wish Kodiak promptly tended, and to arrange for time to allow us to speak."

It may have sounded like an order, but Mercury's manner of speech was aristocratic, and it had not changed while she was away.  While Mercury was no longer a queen of Nardir, she was still royal blood, still a Lady.  She behaved like one, and the air that had so often been categorized as arrogant by her teammates, was simply natural for her. Her tail was relaxed with it's slight habitual curl, and she did not square herself in a threatening stance.  Instead, she gracefully seated herself.  It was clear she was not leaving, and she looked at Puffin with a waiting patience and the court mask rulers always seemed to posses.




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#7

(( Just a note: Mercury was made a parallax in training, so she can't accept anyone without supervision right now. Sorry for the confusion! ))


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#8

((Puffin could totally supervise, haha))




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#9

(( He could! I just wanted to make sure you had all the right info. ))


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Kodiak He
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#10

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#ee7f2d

Kodi huffed, so it had only just been him passing through these parts. He wasn't quite sure if was relieved, or disheartened by the news. It had to be a little bit of both, it meant there was still hope that they all remained together as a group, but it also meant how far away from them he was. Kodiak, you fool. You absolute disaster, he sighed, and gave a nod of appreciation to the Viceroy.

Claws dug into the dirt to cover the spittle and bile he had upchucked onto the ground moments ago, Puffin didn't seem to be too bothered and honestly neither was Kodi. He'd blame it on the nerves rather than poor health, but Merc would say otherwise. His body still shook and that feeling of nausea had settled into a resounding headache that thrummed against his temples and made the wolfdog's eyes narrow. 

The two of them had always been so quick and to the point, it could be a little off putting for any who weren't too terribly familiar. Bi-colored eyes glanced to the female's dark form and then back to Puffin. He is a member of my team. A tired nod was offered to her words, the aftertaste in his mouth making his skin crawl. "That was a while ago though." A long while ago, and things had changed, friend; but at least we haven't.

You are ill and have torn your paws. He caught her words and his ears flicked back and he looked at her plainly then, his breathing still haggard and draining. "I'm fine, it's nerves is all." He'd lift up the raw and bloodied paw and snort derisively. "It's a superficial wound, I can assure you. It looks worse than it feels." In truth, he'd walked for song long that his toes no longer howled outright, but instead a numbing pain burned within them. Viceroy, if you would please proceed. I wish Kodiak promptly tended, and to arrange for time to allow us to speak. Goddammit woman, she was just as stubborn as he was, a trait that was slow for him to warm up to. However, that stubbornness was often a god's send.  

He'd look from Merc, blowing air from his nostrils and shaking his head, bi-colored eyes would then land upon the small form of the dog again, wincing as he attempted to stand. "Once I'm well, I'll help out your... Nardir; in anyway I can." He'd relent, it was easier to bend to that stubbornness than try to break it, Kodi had learned that the hard way. The large male gave the Viceroy a stern nod of his head, a notion of respect, he was always a man of his word.








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#11

"He is a member of my team."

"That was a while ago though."

Puffin cocked his head to the side. He knew only what Alana had told him: that her sister had not been in Nardir for a long time. That she had returned with a man-made accessory wasn't a surprise; it was very common for humans to make trinkets and things for the creatures they meet along the way. His human had been the same. And now, even he could make the sorts of things Kotek had once made alone: harnesses and collars of leather. He had none of the works Kotek had made for him back in that village. All of the harnesses he had now had been made with his own paws. He could not assume that Mercury and Kodiak's shared collar meant anything more than a shared origin; in his village, it was common for humans to give all of their dogs matching collars, regardless of the various functions each dog might have served. All dogs were hunters, protectors, and friends.

He still remembered the teams of hunters that worked with their humans to take down mammoths. It was the only time dogs, humans, and wolves had worked together. Was that where Mercury had been? Taking down mammoths under a different name? It was all he could think of. No human he knew would have done anything but hunt with a wolf.

He listened to their exchange, and took another look at Kodak's foot when it was lifted. It didn't look great. But it did look superficial, as Kodak said; it would probably just need a poultice and some rest, by the look of it. The vomit was something else though, and it gave Puffin pause.

"Viceroy, if you would please proceed. I wish Kodiak promptly tended, and to arrange for time to allow us to speak."

"Once I'm well, I'll help out your... Nardir; in anyway I can."

Puffin looked from Mercury to Kodiak, thoughtful. "Kodiak. It's enough for me that Mercury vouches for you, and it is Nardir's custom to provide sanctuary and medical treatment to anyone who asks. I can take you to our nearest Halo outpost, and get those wounds tended to. But, for the safety of the pack, you will need to be quarantined until your sickness passes. We had an epidemic over the summer that swept through the pack, and as a result we've adopted stricter policies when it comes to how we treat those who are ill. It's important that you follow the Halos' instructions and not leave where they set you up until they say you can. Can you do that?"

He would wait for Kodiak's response before continuing. Assuming he answers in the affirmative, Puffin would continue, "I also want to ask, just so I can pass the right information along: are you just passing through? Or is your intent to join Nardir?"


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Mercury She
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#12
(This post was last modified: November 24, 2017, 01:26:29 PM by Mercury.)

 The Dark Moon of Nardir                    ☿
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"Being brave means to know something is scary, difficult, and dangerous, and doing it anyway, because the possibility of winning the fight is worth the chance of losing it.
- Emilie Autumn



"That was a while ago though."

She gave him a grumpy, "you're not helping" look, but luckily Puffin seemed to ignore Kodi's remark. The wolfdog then had the nerve to contradict her further by brushing off his condition.
"I'm fine, it's nerves is all. It's a superficial wound, I can assure you. It looks worse than it feels."

Males, she thought, mentally rolling her eyes. She grumbled under her breath about his head being as frozen as his bloody paws, but it was unlikely either of the other two heard her.

"Kodiak. It's enough for me that Mercury vouches for you, and it is Nardir's custom to provide sanctuary and medical treatment to anyone who asks. I can take you to our nearest Halo outpost, and get those wounds tended to. But, for the safety of the pack, you will need to be quarantined until your sickness passes. We had an epidemic over the summer that swept through the pack, and as a result we've adopted stricter policies when it comes to how we treat those who are ill. It's important that you follow the Halos' instructions and not leave where they set you up until they say you can. Can you do that?"

Puffin then moved forward with questioning Kodiak, and Mercury kept silent.  She'd drag Kodi to the Halos herself if she had to.  She wasn't about to let him get away without answering some of her questions, but they weren't the kind of questions she wanted to ask in front of Puffin.  She had not yet told the pack where she had been, or with whom.  Since she had yet to settle back into Nardir, she hadn't wanted to reveal everything all at once, especially because she had been so uncertain of where she was meant to be.  But Kodiak was here, not back with the team, not with... their master.  Had he never found him?  She wanted to hear his timeline after they parted that fiery night.

"I also want to ask, just so I can pass the right information along: are you just passing through? Or is your intent to join Nardir?"

Yes, Kodiak, why were you here?


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         Profile ☿ played by EhwazAzi
I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger's face
And it was mine
vixxie's codes



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Kodiak He
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#13

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#ee7f2d

Ears flattened at the look she had given him, and his brows furrowed in a way that was as close to 'what? it's true' as one could possibly get, the large male would sigh however and shrug his shoulders at Merc. Clearly she was having none of his stubborn antics, and well he was far too tired to add anything more to the subject.

His attention would once again be returned to Puffin, a weary expression on the stoic wolfdog's face. An epidemic? He'd tilted his head and rose a brow, unsure if it meant that the sickness in these lands had passed through fully, in his current rundown state he'd be susceptible to any form of disease. There was a barb of fear that pricked in the back of his mind at the idea.  

However, the of having a sheltered area to lay down for a bit and rest his bruised hide sounded like heaven and more. "Yeah, I can do that. I'm sorry to hear of your losses, I hope they're resting easy now though." His voice gravely and hoarse.

Ears would perk up slightly as the Viceroy presented to him another question, well more of an opportunity. Bi-colored eyes glanced over to Mercury, and he'd seen the way that those eyes of her's glinted curiously, hungry for knowledge. Kodi knew she'd glean him for information, and at the moment the thought of that conversation tired him even more.

Stay or join, you haven't a home to return to. The thought resounded emptily within his mind, echoing back and forth, in and out; like an  ocean's tide. However, there was an odd feeling just letting go of one's old home. It seemed Mercury also couldn't do that, or else she wouldn't have been here. I left a part of me among the pines. "I'd..." A pause, but he tasted the words on his tongue and there was that melancholic sadness that gripped his very being, "I'd like to stay... permanently. If I'm allowed." His gaze cast on the small dog's form, indifferent yet there was something that made it seem as if the wolfdog was far away. If you'll have me, and if I am to survive.









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#14
(This post was last modified: December 02, 2017, 02:58:36 PM by Puffin [RP].)

"Yeah, I can do that. I'm sorry to hear of your losses, I hope they're resting easy now though."

Puffin nodded in solemn acknowledgement. It hadn't been an easy year, for Nardir. But this Kodiak seemed a respectful sort, and Puffin felt he could rest easy knowing he would heal up in the Halos' care without spreading whatever he had. That was more than enough to allow him entry without an escort, though he got the impression that Mercury would escort him anyway. He smiled inwardly; had he not done the same for Phillip? Would he not have done the same for Koen? His heart ached.

"I'd...I'd like to stay... permanently. If I'm allowed."

This time he smiled outwardly. "You most certainly are. Okay! Then Mercury and I will escort you to the closest Halo outpost to get you some medical attention. It's not too far; only a few more minutes, from here. Do you need any help?" With an injured foot and an upset stomach, Kodiak might need to lean on someone the rest of the way, especially if he was as tired as he looked. Puffin was sure Mercury would offer, if Kodiak had any trouble getting up, and he had his doubts about how much help he would be given the size difference between himself and the much larger wolf.

"And on the way, I'd like to ask-- where are you from, exactly? And you mentioned that others from your, ah, team? Might have passed through. You wouldn't happen to be running from anything or anyone, would you?" He looked questioningly at Mercury, who seemed to have some of the answers he was looking for. If there was anything dangerous out there looking for one or both of these two, he was sure Mercury would have shared that before if she knew. But Paradox's fall and a war with Saboro stretched between Mercury's last days with the pack before she disappeared, and now. Nardir had an enemy it hadn't had five years ago, and if a clue about their whereabouts existed in Kodiak's story, he had an obligation to seek it out himself.


// I'm going to go ahead and add Kodiak to the roster; consider yourself accepted!


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Mercury She
The Dog Who Was a Queen
Nardir
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#15
(This post was last modified: December 06, 2017, 11:10:27 AM by Mercury.)

The Dark Moon of Nardir                    ☿
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"Being brave means to know something is scary, difficult, and dangerous, and doing it anyway, because the possibility of winning the fight is worth the chance of losing it.
- Emilie Autumn



Mercury had not known about the epidemic before, but she did not find it surprising.  Disease often spread through packs, taking the most vulnerable.  She saw Kodi hesitate a moment, and she didn't realize she was holding her breath until he was accepting Puffin's proposal.

"Yeah, I can do that. I'm sorry to hear of your losses, I hope they're resting easy now though."


She gave him an approving smile, glad she wouldn't have to drag him there by that torn ear of his.  She would have, too. But when he looked at her, his shoulders slumped and the smile slipped from her face.  As eager as she was to hear of his travels and their team, she was being insensitive to his condition.  Would her presence alter his decision?  She didn't think it would, he'd always had an independent mind, but then, so had she. And yet in her loneliness she found herself almost desperate for his familiar company.  She schooled her expression, and turned it back into one more befitting the queen she used to be.  She donned her court mask and did her best to take the pressure off him.

"I'd... I'd like to stay... permanently. If I'm allowed."

Permanently?  It was though she leapt from a high cliff, there was a soaring sensation, and then she plunged down in fear. Ice gripped the Dark Moon's heart. He didn't intend to set out again?  What of the team? Their Master? Kodi's home?  Worry flashed across her eyes, but she held her tongue and her position.  There would be time, she reminded herself.  There was no need to push him before he was ready.  She hoped he'd be willing to tell her, but like she hid her time with man from Alana, she would not blame him if he did not want to talk about it.  That presented another mental conundrum that Mercury would have to deal with.  If she did not tell Alana that Kodiak was here, Puffin most certainly would.  She was going to have to start explaining things to her sister.  Maybe having Kodi here would help her figure out how.  He certainly was forcing her hand by revealing his existence.

"You most certainly are. Okay! Then Mercury and I will escort you to the closest Halo outpost to get you some medical attention. It's not too far; only a few more minutes, from here. Do you need any help?"

Considering Puffin's stature, that was her cue. Mercury stood and walked over to Kodi, leaving him space to rise and begin to move on his own.  She was nearby if he needed her strength, but she did not go so far as to force it upon him.  She gave him an encouraging nod and waited.  He was a proud one, and she doubted very much that he would go so far as to ask for help.  Be that as it may, she was not about to let him fall.

"And on the way, I'd like to ask-- where are you from, exactly? And you mentioned that others from your, ah, team? Might have passed through. You wouldn't happen to be running from anything or anyone, would you?"

Mercury returned Puffin's gaze with a sharp one of her own, and then the barest shake of her head.  The village they came from had been attacked the night she left, but there had not been pursuers for Kodi and her team.  If anything, they had been perusing the attackers, a rival tribe of man.  They took their master and many other two-legs, but had mostly ignored the dogs.  Some had been killed, but they had done so defending their packs.  She had learned that they were also righteous warriors, not just pets as some believed. When it became apparent that their Master was not among the wounded or dead, but was missing, the team had decided to give chase.  She had not gone with them.  But after that, Kodi's path was a mystery to her, and she had no idea what dangers he faced while they were apart.


"I am right beside you." She stated softly to Kodiak, but there was more to her words.  You are not alone.




Just adding in a wrap-up post. Yay Kodiak!
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I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger's face
And it was mine
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