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#1
(This post was last modified: June 14, 2018, 09:59:02 PM by Zach.)


It felt different, this forest.

He didn't know what he was doing out here, wandering its broad depths, the air chilled and the sunlight waning. Something unknown had gripped hold of him, he remembered. It had held him tight one morning without letting go, nearly stealing his breath from him, urging him on, urging him forward. Urging him away before he'd even realized it. And now that same thing had led him here.

Here, in the middle of nowhere.

The cold wind buffeted against his golden coat, blowing his long hair back as he walked with silent footfalls through the vast expanse of green, the black scarf around his neck fluttering with each rhythmic movement. It carried the scent of ash and salt and something else on it, something valued, something good.

Something that he could tell, with each longing, savouring breath, was on the brink of fading into a place he could never hope to reach.

He continued to walk for some time, his path wide, directionless, until his wandering eventually brought him to a clearing, where he found something. Surrounded by a bed of white flowers, his nose led him to the body of a massive elk, the flame of its lifeline long since extinguished. The area where it slept in eternal rest was silent, almost eerily so, as if it were honouring the ancient titan that had drawn its last breath there.

Zach stopped before it and stared.

It lie prone in the bed of flowers, its cold body almost completely intact, save for its head. There, only a gleaming white skull remained, stripped completely of fur and flesh, with antlers that towered high above him. Its inert gaze only seemed to shift into something darker the longer Zach continued to stare at it, the vacant list of its large jaw stretching on, grinning unnervingly at him.

After awhile, he finally had to look away, his hunger forcing him to turn to its side and eat because he wasn't one to ignore an opportunity. Sharp teeth buried into the stiff body, pulling and wrenching, and for a time the only noise in the clearing was the sound of flesh tearing and teeth grinding against bone.

All the while, the elk's blood spilled, slowing staining the white flowers red.

The golden wolf was eventually pulled out of his feeding by an unfamiliar scent that somehow managed to stand out against the strong stench of decay. Quickly raising his head, he looked to his right and paused, standing rigid, motionless, the mismatched light of his white and turquoise eyes glimmering sharply in the dimming daylight. Waiting.

Waiting for the wandering soul, who perhaps had been lured by the scent of death, to appear.

When they finally did, he took a long, quiet look at them. He studied their figure. Their coat. Their hair. Their face. Their scars. His sharp gaze boldly lingered on each, drinking in every detail, before it lastly settled on the space where a limb should have been.

His mind went blank for a moment, the sight of it triggering something, something that made his chest tighten uncomfortably and made the right side of his face ache. Carefully, he pulled his eyes away, meeting the other's gaze.

"I'm done eating," he said coolly, in lieu of a greeting, gesturing pointlessly towards the kill (not even half eaten) with his bloodstained muzzle.

A rare offering.

He backed up a couple paces, but didn't turn around. And with good reason. Despite his seemingly passive attitude, there was no mistaking the guardedness in the golden male's posture. At heart, Zach was still an Alteronian. And just like any Alteron wolf, he knew

Not every stranger approached with good intentions.



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#2


ANGLACHEL



He had left Oriana days ago, empty promises still hanging from his lips. The guilt clung, but it was just another weight upon his shoulders, he would be relieved of it soon. Purple flowers lay ahead, just beyond the horizon. A few more days until he arrived at that lilac altar. Until then he would carry the weight as he always had.

Hunger pangs churning nausea gnawed as his belly at the scent of raw flesh and death. Anglachel knew he needed to eat — he had neglected the simple task throughout most of his wandering. But his winding path was coming to its destination soon, he needed to eat in order to get there. Sighing, he slowly limped toward the source, and there in the clearing surrounded by pine trees was a great beast surrounded by red stained flowers.

(For a moment he thought of home. Of the red poppy field. Of his parents. Of his siblings. Of Red and Kiefer. Of Kroni. Of Thresher and Nero and North and his little stars. You left, Anglachel, remember that.)

But there was also gold.

He froze, wine reds locking in upon gold and browns, anticipating the clap of righteous thunder to reach his ears — but none came. Vision cleared and Anglachel realized that what stood before him was not a golden queen but a lone boy. Dark hair framed his features, accentuated vivid blue eyes (not gold), and scars. Oh the scars across his face, barely hidden by those dark locks.

Anglachel recognized the war kissed when he saw it. His own brand burning painfully across his own cheeks. There was no sympathy or pity within his red gaze. But perhaps the golden wolf would see an expression of understanding there. I see you. We're the same, you and I, aren't we?

"I'm done eating,"

He saw the offer for what it was, and with only a nod, Anglachel moved toward the carcass and its bed of red flowers. Not poppies, he had to tell himself.

A single white flower remained yet untouched by the scarlet. He pushed it aside — sparing it.

Anglachel ate for only a short time — swallowing mouthfuls of liver for much needed nutrients before pulling away. The weary traveller did not eat much, before nausea took hold. With a sigh, he pulled away. The small meal would sustain him for the remainder of his journey.

Briefly closing his eyes with another sigh, the former prince turned and regarded Zach with tired eyes that peered through thick lashes and locks of silver hair. The golden male was clearly alone. A traveller. A runaway? It would explain the scavenging from the cold carcass. Dusk light bathed over the darkening clearing, the rising moon painting both travelers in shades of silver and shadows of ebony. And for a moment, Anglachel feels the full force of loneliness chilling his bones. He longs for Oriana, for Kroni, for the husbands and children he left behind, for Thresher. Perhaps it's why he chooses to speak, to face the golden stranger completely (back to the scarlet stained flowers. Don't look at them.) with his chin raised, allowing silvery locks to frame ruined features unobscured.

"My name is Anglachel." Perhaps he wants someone to remember his name. To know him without the weight of Saboro bearing down on them. Perhaps he's just lonely. Perhaps there's something in Zach's face that urges the silver haired runaway to linger in the quiet clearing. "Where are you heading?" He wonders if the golden wolf will say Inaria. He wonders if perhaps he is related to their golden queen. He wonders if he'll eventually recognize the remnants of scarlet tattoos beneath the scars. He wonders if the golden stranger knows that he is rather striking even (sharp, intelligent gaze, he is briefly reminded of Akki) — you're still beautiful Coven had murmured to his ruined son after the war. He wonders if anyone told the golden wolf something similar. He wonders if it was just empty consolation for him too. He wonders. He wonders and wonders —

He wonders what his name is.







[Image: Qu1nlr2.png]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We think too big, we think our self is one whole thing
And we claim that this collection has a name and is a being
But deep inside, when every cell divides
It sets upon the rule that states self-interest is divine

Cancer, too, lives by this golden rule
That you must do unto the others as the others unto you
All for the best, cause that’s all the life accepts
And so we kill it like a buffalo
With awe and with respect
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
#5d637f  || Played by ilunga
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Zach Male
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#3
(This post was last modified: June 15, 2018, 02:58:29 PM by Zach.)


He looked defeated, Zach thought, watching the stranger tuck into the kill.

A lull had crept into the clearing, casting a temporary spell of silence between the two wolves. When it became clear the other male wasn't going to cause trouble, Zach settled down carefully into the bed of flowers, relaxing minutely as the colours of dusk deepened around them, crowning the small clearing in scattered fragments of shadows and light. With a full stomach, the golden wolf almost felt content in that moment. Almost.

He rarely found a reprieve from his own thoughts these days.

(Or the anger that always seemed to simmer underneath.)

By the time the stranger had eaten his fill, the clearing had become visibly darker. There was a shift in the air as wine red eyes lifted from the kill, shutting briefly before opening again, glowing like flickering candleflames beneath waves and waves of long, silver hair.

Anglachel looked at him and wondered.

(The Alteronian could not have known the significance behind his golden coat. He could not have known the righteous weight that a paladin queen of his bloodline had wrought when a desperate prince had tried to save a dying friend.)

Zach looked back and wondered, too.

(There was a story behind the fatigue that weighed heavily on the other male's shoulders. There was a story behind the scars that marked his alluring face. There was a story behind his missing limb. There was a story behind the wine red eyes that studied him with a sliver of something that somehow seemed knowing. Maybe that's why Zach hadn't left yet. Maybe he too had seen something similar in that sundered soul.) 

He was startled out of his observations when the silver haired stranger spoke.

"My name is Anglachel."

Zach blinked, befuddled, some last vestiges of caution still firmly clinging to him as he considered how to respond. He didn't know how he felt about giving out his own name, didn't know if it was safe now. But he made sure to listen. Listen with undivided attention as the stranger — Anglachel, now — told him his name. As the seconds dragged by in silence, the golden male tried to look impassive while he stared. Tried not to let the indecision show on his face. 

"Where are you heading?"

At this, his ears folded back, and he briefly looked away, still not saying a word. It was out of place, but for a fleeting moment, the question made him think of Eira. The antlered girl had known where she was going when she'd run from Alteron. Zach had judged her harshly for her decision, had felt so cold, so angry, so betrayed, even though he'd done nothing to stop her from leaving in the end. More than anything, he hated the thought that someone he'd grown to love had willingly left him and his family. Some distant part of him still did.

And yet here he was.  

(Would she call him a hypocrite, if she saw him now?)

"I don't know," he finally answered, slowly, his voice uncertain but nevertheless true. The future he'd thought had been set in stone for him had been altered the day he'd crossed Alteron's borders. His story was changing inevitably now, with every steady breath and footfall. He'd turned the page to face a new chapter of his life. The only thing he didn't know was where it would lead him now.

"I haven't decided yet," he added, looking down, his gaze briefly falling on the lone white flower that had been spared. After a moment of thought, he looked up again, finding Anglachel's gaze, his expression still as sharp as cooling steel.

Fuck it, he thought. This time, when he spoke, there was no hesitation in his voice. 

"I'm Zach."



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#4
(This post was last modified: June 15, 2018, 11:02:53 AM by Anglachel.)


ANGLACHEL


The quiet of the clearing was not uncomfortable — eerie and stagnant, but far from unsettling in this hushed moment between strangers. Almost dreamlike in its nature. And how long has it been since he's dreamed a kinder dream? Unplagued by yellow-green eyes and tearing jaws? He reveled in it, feeling more rested than he had in months. Would it be selfish, to savor such a reprieve? 

One last moment of tranquility, he was an icarus after all — one last glimpse of the sun before his inevitable plummet into lilac fields. 

But for some reason Anglachel didn't think this final flight would burn. The golden stranger was not Thresher — not a setting sun in shades of dying light. He was not a golden queen — not the midday sun of harsh blazing light. No, he was a soft sunrise — promise and life written within dawn rays. And the silver prince found himself hoping that the stranger found what he was looking for. One day, if not today or tomorrow then the next, or the next after that, or however long it took. The silver prince hoped, and smiled wistfully at such a thing. 

If Anglachel saw the hints of indecision written across the golden stranger's face, he said nothing of it. Instead he turned his own scarlet gaze away (in respect or understanding, even the runaway prince did not know which). Head tilted back — throat bared with silver locks sliding from his face for pale moonlight to lay soft kisses upon the scars across his ruined face and heart — to observe the stars as they peered out from the darkening sky.

"I don't know. I haven't decided yet."

The stranger's voice a hushed murmur into the quiet dusk. Anglachel may never know just how similar they were — legs drawing them across the borders of everything they held dear on a whim. An urge. Some inexplicable pull that tugged them away until finally — here.

"That's okay." The Saboran runaway hummed in acknowledgement after a moment. He thought of Oriana, of his mother. Golden, wandering souls. He thought of the paladin queen and wondered if she too had once been lost before donning her crown of gold and lilac. "There's a lot to see, out here." Like sandy hills and mountains and cold white fields. In another life, Anglachel would have been awed by it all.

"Do you like it?" The world, what you've seen? He hoped — and there it was again, in the face of someone kissed by shades of gold — Anglachel hoped the stranger could be awed by it all. Slowly, the silver haired prince pulled his wistful gaze from the stars, turned away from the moon and settled them back upon the soft dawn sun before him. Scarlet met blue, the rays shining just a little brighter and Anglachel wondered and hoped.

(Will you ever spare what precious hope remains for yourself, Anglachel?)

Grief choked him, bitter and sweet and crumbling like sawdust in his mouth.

"I'm Zach."

And the former prince smiled a gentle smile. Brittle and sad and edged with grief, but unmistakably warm. For a moment, just a moment, he settled his burdens beside him. Pushed them aside in favor of that lonely white flower.

"It's nice to meet you, Zach.







[Image: Qu1nlr2.png]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We think too big, we think our self is one whole thing
And we claim that this collection has a name and is a being
But deep inside, when every cell divides
It sets upon the rule that states self-interest is divine

Cancer, too, lives by this golden rule
That you must do unto the others as the others unto you
All for the best, cause that’s all the life accepts
And so we kill it like a buffalo
With awe and with respect
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
#5d637f  || Played by ilunga
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#5
(This post was last modified: Yesterday, 03:05:52 AM by Zach.)


The wings of night had finally fallen, and something close to tranquility eventually settled over the quiet thrum of the forest. Zach could hear the whispers of the trees as their leaves danced gently with the wind. He could feel the bed of flowers and grass sway around him like a tempered ocean current longing to carry him away.

(Where would it have taken him, if it could?)

Anglachel — no longer just the stranger — hummed softly, and Zach watched him quietly from where he rested. Watched him as he looked up and studied the clear night sky, watched as waves of long, silver hair shifted, shimmering beneath the pale moonlight.

(Moon-kissed. That's what Anglachel was. Just like his mother. Just like Umbra. Zach's golden coat was a fierce contrast in comparison, burning brightly next to the other wolf.)

"That's okay. There's a lot to see, out here."

A small smirk briefly curled Zach's lips before it vanished. "Too much, I think," he said, staring past the other male for a moment, at the shadows that appeared to shift and stretch far beyond the treeline. He wondered, distantly, if that was the same path he would take when he eventually resumed his journey again. "I wouldn't even know where to start."

He'd barely made any headway in his wanderings so far. Not like his mother, who'd once journeyed through dipping valleys and jutting mountains that towered high enough to reach the heavens. When they were very young, she'd told her children tales of an ocean that stretched far and wide with no ending. She'd shared stories of her childhood home, a quiet paradise, hidden deep within the heart of a scorching desert.

Zach knew he would never love the wilds as much as his mother did. He had only travelled to kingdoms, to lands all claimed and ruled. No place truly free. But he would never forget Inaria. Never forget the memories he'd made there as a child beneath its lilac flowers.

(He would also never know that Anglachel, too, had once stepped foot beneath those same lilac trees. Never know that war had left behind memories that the former prince would always carry.)

"Do you like it?"

Zach shifted a little, curling his tail around his haunches, taking a moment to mull over the question. "It's...different," he eventually answered, and despite the neutral tone, there was something decidedly wondering in his gaze. He looked up and studied the night sky, blanketed in a scattered sea of twinkling lights. "You can actually see the stars out here." He was quiet for a moment, simply drinking in the image. Then—

"I never knew there could be so many," he breathed, his warm breath carrying like smoke through the cooling air.

You couldn't see the stars in Alteron. Not really. Not like this. The trees loomed too high there, twisted and ancient and so thick with leaves that it made the kingdom always seemed dark. He'd been born in that darkness, had been raised in its gloom and shadows. Alteron had buried its teeth in him deeply enough (too young, he'd been far too young) that he was sure its venom would never leave him. It had made him, and it would stay with him, until it burned his bones to ash.

(He wondered if Anglachel felt something similar out here. If he, too, had come from a place filled with shadows and fangs.)

"What about you? Are you heading somewhere?" he asked, tearing his gaze away from the stars, mismatched eyes once again settling on red. There were lights and shadows swimming in Anglachel's watchful gaze, and there was something in his gentle smile that made the ice in the golden wolf's demeanour thaw, just a little.

"It's nice to meet you, Zach."

If Zach was a soft sunrise, then Anglachel was the quiet twilight, the silver bridge between day and night, when dimming skies let stars appear. The golden wolf swallowed thickly, shifting unsurely, his long hair falling slightly over the blackened scar that marred his face. In Alteron, he'd always had to be on guard. Always had to wonder whether the next wolf he came across would be another one to toss him into the fire.

But this wasn't Alteron, and this wasn't the Phoenix standing across from him. The eyes that currently watched him weren't hateful and green. He was far away from all that. Zach let the weight of that thought settle, let it comfort him as he looked at the wolf standing near him, sitting a little taller, letting the tension bleed slowly out of his shoulders.

"It's nice to meet you, too—"

He breathed.

"Anglachel."

High above them, the moon and stars continued to gleam dimly, watching.



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