Just Leave Me Lying Here [Akaika]
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#1
(This post was last modified: November 09, 2018, 02:14:58 AM by Scythetrill.)


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“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]




There were days that the sandy she-wolf did things, and there were days she didn't.  Sometimes she hunted, but when that had last been, she could not say.  Mostly, she wondered why she still sated her hunger, slaked her thirst and continued to get up when the sun rose.  She took no pleasure in it.  Not in the desert sunsets, not in running with the wind, not in life.  So here she lie, in the dust and the dirt, decaying in the sun.  Her emerald eyes, which had been bright and sparkled with enthusiasm when she was young, now lay as two sunken stones inside her skull.  Her fur was matted and unkept, and her skin hung on her bones.  She'd given up keeping her body long ago.  With no steady hunting schedule, and no pack to hunt with, she barely ever caught game.  When she did, it was the smallest offerings the desert could give her.  Sometimes, she didn't even hunt, just simply wandered the wastes until she tired, then returned to the hole she was sure she would bury herself in.

Perhaps today would be the final day.  The desert would finally turn her to dust, and blow her away with the wind.  After all, hadn't she endured it enough?  No danger came to the desert save for the heat and the drought.  No sabers to tear her to pieces, no bear to flay her to ribbons, not even another dumb pack of stupid coyotes.  She had contemplated the cliffs and canyons, the sinkholes and quicksand.  But something always stopped her from seeking them.  It would seem that she simply couldn't do the most logical thing and kill herself.  She'd stood on the edge, looking out over it, measuring the height.  The fall would kill her.  How could it not?  But each time she had turned from the cliff, unable to take the leap into oblivion.  So instead she lay unmoving in the sand, reddening her creamy coat, wishing for the end.  All the shadowfang wanted to do was fade, to become a whisper in the darkness and be as lost to the world as she was to herself.  She was already enough of a ghost. There was nothing left in the world that Scy could hope for.  No reason to live. She had lost it all, and there was no one to blame but herself.



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#2

OOC - WELP KAI SAYS NOPE. This won't do.


After years of wandering, Akaika had found a home. Ironically enough, it was home in the truest sense of the word. He'd been born here, but it seemed like so long ago he had left. Everyone had left, or so he'd thought. On the times he'd come back to visit his parent's tree, he'd never encountered anyone else. But then again, he'd never looked for anyone either. He was doing his own thing, living his own life, and assuming everyone else was out there doing the same thing he was and just enjoying the simple things. Well of course that was a very idyllic view of things, and he was aware that he was most probably wrong... but it was still a good thought to hold onto. What else was he supposed to do?

And then he'd literally stumbled into a familiar face. Smalltalk had been like the Oasis in the middle of the god damn desert. A sight for sore eyes, and Akaika was delighted to find out she hadn't changed. What's more, she was surrounded by a little army of ... what had she called them? Boobies? They were a handful for sure, but it was good to see young ones around again. It reminded him of when his mother babysat the pups. Oh his mother... she would have loved the little monsters... She'd asked him about grandchildren more times than he cared to recall, as if she didn't have enough of the entire pack's offspring's to look after. Small had spoken of settling down, and the red wolf had laughed at first, thinking she was joking when in fact she was serious (or as serious as Smalltalk could be). Could they be a pack again? Time would tell, and Akaika was ready to tackle the challenge and help out in any way he could. This included surveying the territory, and whatever other tasks were required of him. Could Smalltalk really lead a pack? Well... what she may have lacked in experience, she made for with good spirits.

Then again, if she could manage her little army of monsters then perhaps there really was nothing she couldn't tackle!

It was a beautiful day. The sun wasn't as harsh as it could sometimes be in such environments, and the wind was calm. The sand made little waves and dunes, which Akaika promptly destroyed as he ran through them. After completing his round, he was heading back towards the elephant graveyard where he'd settled himself into one of the creature's skulls. It was surprisingly comfortable! And in the lazy hours of the daytime, there was nothing quite as satisfying as lying on the curve of a tusk with his legs all dangling in the air.

A small rock formation ahead provided a welcome change from the arid plains and he jumped on top and over them then again over the remains of some poor animal nearly half buried by the sand. For a moment it seemed as though he would continue with his trek, but the red soldier slowed down until he came to a stop. His breath heavy, he turned back his head with a frown to look at the shape in the sand.... A dead animal surely, not an uncommon occurrence in the desert... but something seemed to pull him to it. Something about... the shade of it's fur and how it blended in the sand. He'd almost completely missed it. Had it not been directly in his path, he never would have seen it; never would have known.

He turned around and walked back slowly, frowning now as he squinted to try and see the shape better. It was a wolf... or whatever remained of it. Poor thing.
It was just a desert carcass... it was just another wolf down on his luck who had probably died of hunger or thirst. Nothing he'd never seen before. So then why was his heart hammering in his chest so hard and so loud it swallowed his thoughts? Why was his breath catching in his throat now as he walked closer to it? Then he knew, and he swore he felt his heart stopped beating. It dropped in his chest like a heavy weight and made the last few steps to reach her feel like he was wallowing in mud; or like when you tried to run in a bad dream and no matter what you did, all you could manage were the slowest most agonizing movements.

"Scy??? Scy!!! SCYY!!!! SCYTHETRILL! SCY NO F*CK! F*CK! F*CK!"

She was dead. She was dead. He'd found her body and he'd be visiting her sad sun bleached bones like he did with his parents in a year or two. Why was this happening to him? He's scream her name and let out a string of swear so long and loud he could almost hear his mother's disapproving mumbles on the wind. "F*CK". As he fell down beside her, he placed his head on the side of her chest and listened, sure that he would hear nothing but the drumming of his own panicked heart in his ears. A heartbeat. Probably his own... but wait. No, his own heart was beating much faster and louder than this one. His heart was a battle drum while this one was the whispering wind.

She was.... alive?

Akaika pulled his head back in shock and disbelief. He wanted to be happy, but he was so honestly shocked and surprised that there was no room left for him to feel anything else at the moment. He wanted to know why and how. Would she even have the strength to tell him? Was she even the same wolf he remembered? Would she.... remember him?  The weight in his chest dropped low in his stomach at the thought she might not. If her mind was in the same state her body was in, then there wasn't much hope. He would bring her back to the others and care for her, if she even survived the trip there. His mouth ran dry. He lay watching her, waiting for a sign of life other than the minimal movements of her breathing and the wind that sometimes came to ruffle her fur. There came none...

"Scy... Is it really you? How did this happen? Have you.... H-Have you been in the desert all this time?"

Why? why why why WHY?


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#3


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“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]



The creamy didn't remember doing so, but Scy figured she must have fallen asleep.  Sand had begun to pile against her, swirling into the gaps between her paws and under her head.  It cocooned her, insulating her against the heat of the day.  She didn't open her eyes, for there wasn't really any point to it.  The heat told her the sun was still up.  Opening her eyes would just get sand in them, and that wasn't an agitation she had the energy for right now.  The breeze gave little whistles, the sand hissing over the ground around her.  Whatever it was that had awoken her, she didn't care enough to investigate.  Probably another buzzard come to see if she was done yet.  No such luck featherbrains, come back again tomorrow. More than happy to plunge back into the temporary limbo of sleep, she decided she would simply ignore it.

"Scy??? Scy!!! SCYY!!!! SCYTHETRILL! SCY NO F*CK! F*CK! F*CK!"

How cruel was the desert wind, to make itself sound like a memory... She must have gotten sand in her ears again.  Then something thumped on her chest, making it harder to breathe.  The air hissed out of her like a flattening tire.  Then, a pause, too long of a pause, before the process began to reverse.  With Akaika's head up, she felt no resistance. She breathed in, an agonizingly slow draw, before her chest almost immediately began to fall again.  It was as though empty had become her lungs' default setting.  Then her green eyes opened, half-lidded against the glare.  One dull orb rolled back, and she looked right at him.

"So..." she spoke, the rasp in her once lyrical voice making her sound like the sand herself. "It's to be mirages today, is it?"

"Scy... Is it really you? How did this happen? Have you.... H-Have you been in the desert all this time?""

She could hear him...  Maybe she really was closer to the end than she thought.  Of course he would be the one she would envision.  Who else could it have possibly been?

"I loved you..." Came the blatant, honest confession from cracked lips. "So strong, so bright.  Even though you never thought twice of me."

Then she turned her gaze back to the desert, her body deflating again as she shuttered a sigh. She couldn't bare to look, not when she knew it was the desert that was playing tricks.  If she was going to die, she didn't want it to be lying to herself.  Akaika would not come for her, had not come looking.  No one had come looking.  When the Oasis dried up and the sandstorm had come, she had searched for her family, despite the fact that she had been practically exiled.  She hadn't found them.  As days had turned to weeks and the seasons rolled on, she realized that they weren't coming back.  They hadn't searched for her.  Why would her mind torture her by entertaining the fantasy of otherwise?  She was cruel, even to herself.

" Hallucination." She cried, her paws weakly covering her head. She envisioned him evaporating in a rippling thermal, and a sob wracked her. She was driven to her feet, and she fled a few steps before she stumbled and fell back to the earth in a heap. There was no motivation for a second try.  She clenched her teeth, her already weakened body in agony as she felt her chest lock.  Another sob tore through her, and she curled in on herself.  She couldn't bear to open her eyes, knowing he'd be gone. Mirages never lasted. But she wanted it to... She didn't want to be alone.  It hurt too much.  It all hurt too much.



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#4
(This post was last modified: November 10, 2018, 01:26:11 AM by Akaika.)

When she finally opened her eyes, squinting against the light of the sun, Akaika wondered if she would even acknowledge his presence. She did, for her gaze came to rest upon him, but her next words told him she did not really believe he was there. "So... It's to be mirages today, is it?", she spoke so softly he barely heard her. She thought he was a mirage, a trick of the desert, and to that he did not know what to say. Mirages on this day, she said... so then this meant she had suffered them before, among other things he did not begin to imagine. Still as he lay there, speechless, he could not detach his mind from the "why". The one question that he knew, even if he had the answer, it wouldn't really explain or excuse any of this. Scythetrill had always been so eager to prove herself in her youth. She'd always aimed to be stronger and better. Where was this Scythetrill now?

"I loved you...So strong, so bright.  Even though you never thought twice of me."

She'd told him of her affections before, and though he'd given himself time to try and see her in a new light, he'd turned her away. Was this why she thought she meant nothing to him? Because he couldn't feel for her the same thing she felt for him? Had she already forgotten all the times he'd stood by her side as a friend? Almost as a brother? He knew though.... Oh, he knew... this was never what she wanted from him. But what she wanted he could not give her; Not now... maybe never...

"Scy.... that's not-"

" Hallucination."

She cried, distraught and refusing to believe he was really there. When she stood, he stood alongside her but she ignored him as she tried to stumble away. She barely moved before she was down on the ground again. He watched her quietly as she curled upon herself and sobbed with all the strength she had left in her to do so. There was sadness in him as he watched her, but there was also anger, and he wasn't sure which of the two was stronger. Part of him wanted to lay beside her so she would feel him, and wait until she had emptied her heart of all her pain. Then she would be able to see him, and she could move out of this dark place she'd found herself in. But another part of him wanted to sink his teeth in the thin scruff of her neck and shake her so that perhaps she would wake from her disillusions. The first part of him wanted to tell her it would be alright, and that he wouldn't leave her alone with this ("I'm here for you. It's going to be okay."). The second part wanted to yell at her and tell her that she was better than what she'd let herself become ("Omg I thought you were dead you crazy b*tch!"). For a long time he stood silent, unable to decide on which course of action he should take.

And then he turned away.

Taking a few steps, he began to run back in the direction from which he'd come. For a long while still, she was alone as she'd been before, but not quite. There was a humming on the wind, so soft and quiet that only if she would keep her eyes closed and tried to focus she might hear it. A melody that had once been sung to a sleeping child... or was it only her ears playing tricks on her? By the time Akaika returned, the sun was almost at the edge where the sky met the sand. Prey was scarce and hard to find in these lands, and for a while he was certain all he'd be able to bring her would be a few of the tiny blue lizards that hid under rocks sometimes. Lady luck had smiled upon him in his time of need and allowed him to find prey. The giant gila had been sunbathing on a flat rock when he'd found it, and the red wolf had hoped to sneak up on it and grab it by the throat before it would have had a chance to wake. No such luck, and most of his afternoon had been lost trying to figure out a way to take the giant lizard down without getting grazed by it's venomous teeth. He'd managed to do so, but even as his jaws held firmly upon the beast's neck, it's thick tail trashed against him knocking away his breath. Once the creature was dead, he'd haul it all the way back to where Scy lay, sorely reminded of why he didn't usually pick the gila as prey. They were hell to hunt. 

Once he made his way back, he'd dropped the dead lizard on the ground and tear off one of it's back legs with his jaws while holding the rest of it down with one of his front paws. He hoped the smell of fresh blood would snap Scy out of her haze. He'd drop the appendage in front of her and wait. If she didn't make a move to take it, he would snarl then speak a single word.

"Eat."

It wasn't even a suggestion. It was an order.


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#5


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“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]

She had aimed high, but like icarus, she had learned the wings she thought would carry her were made of wax.  The heat of Sun had burned her, and she had fallen into the dark sea of despair.  Even then, it would not normally have been enough to beat down the creamy.  What did wear her down, was isolation.  At first, she simply told herself the pack would come back.  After all, disasters happened, and then you rebuilt.  That was just the way of the world.  Surviving off of small game was good for a while, but as a Fringe Dire, she should have been consuming far more calories.  Combine that with a strenuous schedule of "patrolling" for her returning family, she ran herself down without realizing how bad it would be.

As the days turned into weeks turned into seasons, she began to realize that she had been left behind.  When her pack did not return, her temporary condition suddenly became more dire, and she became more melancholy.  Where had they gone?  Inaria? Alteron?  Scy could not begin to guess.  And then there was another nagging question: What if they'd left her behind on purpose? Sometimes she thought about leaving, but then the what ifs returned.  What if they came back while she was gone?  Besides, where would she go?  The possibility that she had been abandoned deteriorated her psyche, slowly seeding itself in her mind and rooting deep.

A thunderstorm, much like the fierce one she and Akaika had chased in their youth, brought a flash flood to the desert late the last winter.  Scy's den, previously dry and safe for seasons, flooded while she slept.  She awoke in a puddle of rising water, and clawed her way up and out in the mud.  She ended up out in the storm, and was soaked through by the time she found a shelter in a shallow crop of stones.  The temperature dropped that night, and, unprepared for the sudden displacement, Scy spent it damp and shivering.  By morning she was dry, but also sick.  Fever and chills slowed her down, and pneumonia settled deep into her chest.

Even now, she was still suffering from the fluid in her lungs. The chronic pneumonia winded her more easily than when she'd been fit.  A healer would have known the herbs to clear such an infection.  While Scy had learned basic first aid, she was ignorant of the more alchemical remedies.  The cough, which came suddenly and without warning, spooked prey on her hunts.  Her already diminished chances of success reduced further, and she suffered for it.  Now, when the weather had been particularly hot and dry, the sand blew, agitating an already ravaged respiratory system.  The water became harder to come by, the desert more hostile.  Even without a mental state as fractured as hers, a lone wolf was hard-pressed to survive.

By the time she'd cried herself out and opened her eyes, he was gone, as she knew he would be.  Mirages never lasted.  With a groan, she rolled back onto her belly, flattening herself back out to stretch the muscles that had become sore from her tension.  For a moment, she watched the air ripple over the sand, then she closed her eyes again.  But this time there was a different sound on the wind, a song, sung by a voice she knew... Scy lifted her head, looking out over the empty desert. There wasn't anything to see, of course, but still she looked.  She even went so far as to get on her feet, turning slowly, scanning her line of sight over her surroundings.  Her mouth hung open, her eyes glazed a bit from her heat exhaustion.

"Arista..."

An old, familiar pain stabbed her chest.  She had not thought of Akaika's mother in a long time, and now felt guilty for it.  The woman had been more family to her than her own blood. Swiftkill was leading a pack, Bloodspill wasn't exactly the nurturing type. She didn't even remember her own mother, not really.  It had always been Arista she had run to.  Perhaps it had been Arista's love that had made Scy set her sights on her crimson son.  Akaika had clearly been the apple of his mother's eye.  Had she loved Akaika, or was it simply the desire for Arista to truly be her mother?  But Scy did not have the depth for such self-reflection.  She had simply imprinted on Kai and that had been the end of it.  But if there had been one creature in all of the earth who had loved her, Scy felt it must have been Arista.

She climbed up onto the small outcrop above her den, trying to get her head as high as she could from the spot.  The wind was louder here, but only just.  Stretching her face to the sky, she tried to catch the faint memory that hummed on the breeze.  After a moment, she swayed back and forth in time with the imagined melody.  Despite the dryness in her throat and her sandpaper tongue, Scy began to hum along.  A peace, unlike she had felt in a long time, came over her, and for a long while, she sat on the rock, swaying to a song only she could hear.  The wind died as night fell, and reluctantly, Scy descended down the rocks in silence.  She lay back down on the compacted earth outside of her hole, and closed her eyes on the setting sun.

"Eat."

A voice woke her, and Scy's eyes flew open.  She practically crossed them to take a look at the leg at the end of her snout.  A... leg?  She sniffed, and the sharp ferritin tang of blood coated her senses.  She lifted her head, focused entirely on the leg, and snapped it up whole.  Crunching on the first bit of food she had had in recent memory, she sniffed the ground for more, licking her chops and then salavating.  She was hungry, so hungry.  She then looked around, and instead, saw a silhouette against the fading sun.  She squinted, but only made out a red glow against the red desert.

"Who...?"

She asked, because she was starting to recognize the voice, but she didn't dare hope...



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#6

He breathed a sigh of relief when she took the food that was offered to her. Akaika had been worried she might be too weak or confused to even eat anymore. There was no way for him to know how long she'd been in this desert alone, or how long she'd been sick. Because looking at her now, the glaze over her eyes and the state of her body, it was obvious she had been sick for some time. This worried him, as he knew their small troupe did not have anyone with the proper knowledge to care for her. Perhaps someday someone would appear that would fit the bill, but would she be able to wait that long? His mind raced over the possible courses of action to take. Moving her to another pack was risky. If she was too weak, it would possibly aggravate her situation. Perhaps he could fetch a healer from another pack? But what could he possibly offer as payment... his first born child? Ha! Joke would be on them because that seemed as unlikely as snow in the desert.

"Who...?"

"You know who I am. Need I give you a name? You're one of the few to know them all. You could be struck blind and deaf and you would still know who I am."

She was looking right at him, and still she had asked who he was. In her defense though, the fading sun was turning the sky and the desert the same crimson as his pelt so odds were he'd just be a big blurry shape of red among reds. The wolf tore another piece off the lizard and threw it at her. He wouldn't give her the whole thing right away. Chances were she wasn't used to eating well anymore, and if she ate too much too fast she'd just end up wasting all his efforts by barfing it over the sand at his feet.

"Don't just hork it down, this time. Take the time to chew...  thaaaat's it...."

He'd walk to her then, and lie down on the sand in front of her. He would lean in with his nose and search into the fur of her neck for a pulse. Once found, he would lay still so he could feel it. It wasn't steady, a sure sign that she was severely dehydrated. He pulled back with a grunt and placed his head to the side of her shoulder, laying his ear against her to listen to the sound of her breathing. He wasn't a healer, but he knew enough to patch his own wounds after a war and prevent the worse. The sounds he heard then worried him. There was a.... bubbling there that definitely wasn't right. Akaika sighed and pulled his head back to look at her. Worry was plastered all over his face, and there was little he could do to hide it.

"You're coming with me. I'll carry you if you can't walk, but I'm not leaving you here."

The anger he'd felt as he'd first realized her situation had faded away. Worry and fear often blended to create anger when it swelled in him. When the son of man had abandoned him, he'd turn that anguish and worry into hatred as well. In the field of battle, that anger was used to fuel his strength and keep the adrenaline coursing. This wasn't a battlefield (Though Scy might have felt otherwise at this point). Akaika was old enough, and wise enough, to know how to deal with it now; to let time pass and let that anger turn back into the fear that had birthed it, and which he never really knew how to face. 

"You really scared me, you know?.... I thought...that... that you..."
He'd stare at her a moment, then clear his throat and look to the distance where he knew the oasis lay unseen. "It would be best if we left now. It's going to be night by the time we get there and I don't want you getting cold again."


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#7


  [Image: 1917203_zXJnsNeKHLfDHPn.gif] [Image: 1919768_gajjiwtA4cxEQA3.gif]

“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]


"You know who I am. Need I give you a name? You're one of the few to know them all. You could be struck blind and deaf and you would still know who I am."

Scy closed her eyes, her breath coming out as a rattling sigh.  And yet, despite the harshness of the sound, her face looked more peaceful than when he had left her. She still wasn't sure she wasn't dreaming, but she could hear his voice, and she didn't want to drive it away again.  Whatever trick of the desert he was, she wanted to hold onto it.  But then the wind shifted, and the scent of him gusted toward her, tanged with the scent of blood.  Then another leg landed in front of her.  She unconsciously made a lunge for it.

"Don't just hork it down, this time. Take the time to chew..." Scy froze mid-snatch, then gingerly picked it up   "thaaaat's it...."

She obeyed, and ate with deliberation; a slow chew, a long swallow. Then he was nuzzling her neck.  The touch shocked her, and tore through her feverish haze.  Her eyes went wide, and she froze, sucking in a sharp breath.  She could smell, but just barely.  And yet there it was... Akaika's scent.  He was here.  Tears welled up in her eyes, and without realizing it she began to cry.

"Kai..."

"You're coming with me. I'll carry you if you can't walk, but I'm not leaving you here."

"... You're here..."

"You really scared me, you know?.... I thought...that... that you..." Ahem. "It would be best if we left now. It's going to be night by the time we get there and I don't want you getting cold again."

The creamy's head slowly turned and followed his gaze, but she didn't speak.  Instead, she just began to get to her feet.  It took her forever, as though she were moving in slow motion.  Would she follow him?  He needn't have asked.  She always had.



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#8
(This post was last modified: November 18, 2018, 02:51:45 AM by Akaika.)

@Kookamunga

She'd listened to him with tame obedience and eaten the other morsel he'd given her with slow deliberate chews. His touch on her neck had startled her, but he could not tell if it was from surprise, or emotion, or perhaps possibly the fact that she was very warm and his nose had probably felt like ice. By the time he was looking back at her, she had spoken his name and tears had begun to pool in her eyes. It seemed to finally settle into her mind, the fact that he was there in front of her. He wondered again how long she had been alone there.... and how much longer still she would have been if he hadn't just stumbled onto her today. Akaika wasn't a very religious or even superstitious type, but today was just too much of a stupid coincidence for him to ignore the possibility that something had guided him on this path... something, or someone had wanted him to find her. The wind picked up for a short time at that moment, and the crimson wolf felt a shiver go down his spine. He associated it to the time of day, and noticed how quickly the night was starting to descend upon the desert. Soon, the heat of the day would give way to the biting cold of the night and he wanted to get her somewhere warmer by then. Akaika stood up and waited for Scythetrill to do the same.

Her progress standing up was... agonizingly painful to watch. Not to mention time consuming. Her limbs were wobbly, and she seemed to move as though in a dream. At this rate, if he let her walk beside him they would maybe reach the oasis by two days from now. IF they had the wind at their back. No, this would not do. The red soldier gave a huff, then stood beside her. Lowering down to a crouch, he slipped his head under the back of her front paws so she would have her legs on each side of his neck, and leaned his back so she could easily climb on. He would wait patiently for her to understand his process, and then for her to actually get on his back. He waited... and waited... until he realized she was already on there. Akaika stood, shaken to the core, as he felt her weightlessness upon his back. She was skin and bones.... and warm. So warm. Too warm. He swallowed then, trying not to let her see his concern.

"Can you hold on? I won't run so you don't fall off but we have to hurry. You understand?"

He would not wait for an answer, and pick up the remains of his prey before heading off into the seemingly endless desert. As he moved in a quick but steady pace, Kai often glanced over his shoulder to make sure Scy was okay, but more importantly that she was still there. She was as light as a feather... in fact he was sure she weighted less than one of Smalltalk's 'boobies'. The sun vanished beyond the horizon much too soon to his taste, and the cold of desert nights gripped at them long before they reached the elephant graveyard. He had hoped the thick of the fur on his back would keep her warm, and he supposed it must have to some extent, but still she shivered all the same as though she was caught in the middle of a snow storm from the Greater North. Inside the mammoth's skull, he let her slide into the soft nook in the inside of the behemoth's jaw where he liked to sleep. From the very first day he had decided he would call the Outlands his home once more, he had dug out some of the treasures he had buried here and there before his departure. One of them, which hung over one of the mammoth's eye cavity, was the green shawl given to him by the son of man with which he had once hunted; The very same that had given him the scar hidden under the fur of his neck. Without a second thought, Akaika took down the shawl from the top of the skull where it was fastened and placed it on top of Scythetrill as a blanket in the hopes that it would keep her warm. He would also keep her warm, until the next day where he would decide what do to about her illness... but for the moment he would fetch water for her so she could drink. He turned to her, wanting to tell her to stay where she was, but he realized she was probably too weak to move and opted for another turn of phrase instead.

"I won't be long ...I promise."

The moment he stepped out of his home, he fell face to face with Smalltalk. Had she seen him coming home, carrying another wolf on his back, and came to ask for an explanation? Or was she here for..... something else? Akaika glanced back through the mammoth's ocular cavity at the small bundle that was Scy in his home, then back at Small with a look that basically said "I can explain....". He sighed, before speaking to her in a hushed tone in case Scythetrill had already fallen asleep.

"She's sick. I couldn't just leave her out there..."


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#9

Smalltalk had noticed him returning as she just finished getting the kids ready for bed and was looking to watch the stars for a while, her attention naturally arrested by the streak of crimson on the horizon that seemed to glow with the moon shining at his back. She couldn't help the way her face softened into a smile. There was a warmth that filled her heart and radiated out to her toes at the sight of her old friend, and she was thankful that he was back in her life again (crazy as that life was). It seemed like such a rare chance they had at running into each other, nomads as they were with the itch to wander under their skin, that they even did was something so wonderful. She shook out her dusty fur and, with a kiss to each of her babies' heads, she trotted from her own home to greet the returning male and offer him some food if he had yet to eat.

But the smell of illness and death and something else had her stopping in her tracks with confusion, before furrowing her brows and picking up the pace.

She was sitting just outside and looked at him with wide eyes as he emerged from his home alone, strangely silent as she waited for him to explain. It hadn't taken her too long to remember who that last particular scent that the years had made foreign belonged to, and it was not one that brought her any happiness.

"She's sick. I couldn't just leave her out there..."

"Kai..."

The wolf wasn't sure how much the red wolf knew of the history between aunt and nieces, but there was quite a bit there.

She was a mother on her own and in charge of protecting her little family as best as she could, and Scythetrill? An assassin who spat at her sister and rebelled by heading a secret organization, and whose fate was once in Smalltalk's hands? Her hackles lifted as she flexed her toes to keep from pacing. How could this person not want to do harm to one of her little ones she was already struggling to keep alive in revenge? She was carrying sickness as well from the smell of her... It would be stupid to take her in, this girl that was nothing but trouble. The maroon female looked from the curving shadow cast by the elephant's enormous eye socket to the waiting face of her good friend.

... Did she trust Akaika more than she hated Scythetrill?

"She may stay with you for the time being," she allowed, her face strangely like stone as she fought not to give her emotions away for the first time in her life. There was not much they could give her in terms of resources as they were just starting to settle down, so everything was precious. "I've got extra food if you need it. I can ask Dahlia if she knows anything about healing; I myself only know the very basics to keep me out of trouble." She would have smiled had anxiety not been coursing like lightning through her veins and instead there was a reflexive curl of the lips that flashed ivory glinting wetly in the moonlight at where she knew the other woman was sleeping. It was strange the sight of aggression on that face she was sure, but these days she had more than herself to think about. "But the moment she betters, she comes to see me. I'll decide what to do with her."

Worked up as she was, she knew she would have to shelve her plans to watch the stars and needed to see her kids to make sure they were all right to calm the furious beating of her heart. She stands, meeting eyes radiant gold with her own twisting seafoam, and murmurs her most important words to him.

"Keep her away from the children."

"They are everything."




[[ Last words there are thoughts. Smalltalk is out! ]]


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#10


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“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]


Under normal circumstances, she would have protested.  Never should it have been said that she couldn't carry her own weight.  But these were not normal circumstances.  He slipped his head under one of her spindled legs, and for a moment she stared blankly at him.  Then, with an autonomy that usually accompanies sickness, she stepped over him to straddle his spine.  When he rose, she hung awkwardly to his powerful frame.

"Can you hold on? I won't run so you don't fall off but we have to hurry. You understand?"

Nodding into his ruff, she lifted her forelegs and crossed them down under his neck.  Interestingly, she dropped them lower, crossing them down across his chest instead of bending up back towards his shoulders.  This lower grip wasn't as tight, but it also kept her paws away from the scar hidden across his throat.  Twisting her head away from his, she coughed.  First a breathy, pop of air, followed by a more substantial hack.  Then they were off.  The steady rhythm of his heart and breath soothed her.  Soon, she was asleep, despite the journey.  She shivered, but did not awaken when the cold began to sink in.  A couple times, she wheezed, and occasionally, coughed enough to wake her up.  These small bursts of illness were also assurances that she was, in fact, alive.

He brought her somewhere dry and warm, and as she slipped into the nook he indicated, she was enveloped in his scent.  So saturated here... And then the cloth came over her.  A cloth with... another familiar smell...  But her mind was too fevered to remember.  Instead, she sighed again, tucking herself down for the sleep she so desperately needed.  Even though she had only eaten two lizard legs, it was more nutrition than her system had gotten recently.  Her body needed all the energy it had to fight. She was already drifting back into unconsciousness when he spoke to her again.

"I won't be long ...I promise."

"Mmn." The small sound the only indicator that she had heard him.


Like most of the ill, she fell dead to the world. Ignorant of the conversation that went on outside. Everyone's question was, who was she going to be when she woke? Even Scy didn't know who she was anymore. What Smalltalk and Akaika wouldn't realize was that the sickness she had wasn't only in her lungs. She would need them both to overcome what the desert had done to her.



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#11
(This post was last modified: December 14, 2018, 03:10:03 AM by Akaika.)

"Kai..."

He knew she wouldn't be happy with this situation. The red wolf didn't remember all the details of their family drama, but enough to know that her presence here wasn't something she would feel comfortable with.

She obviously wasn't comfortable. He waited and watched in silence at the outward signs of her inner turmoil, feeling very much responsible for it. After all, he was the one who had brought her here... But what else should he have done? Leave her to die alone in the desert sand? No, she couldn't ask that of him... It went against everything he was, or at least everything he tried to be.

"She may stay with you for the time being"

He exhaled then, made aware at that moment that he had been holding his breath to a degree. He knew the risks she was taking by making such a decision, specially in this stage of the pack's creation. Sickness of any contagious kind could prove a fatal mistake for all of them. But Akaika knew enough about illnesses to tell she wouldnt be a risk if kept apart from the others for a while...

If Scy would have been too much of a risk to the rest of the pack, he would have brought her elsewhere.

"I've got extra food if you need it. I can ask Dahlia if she knows anything about healing; I myself only know the very basics to keep me out of trouble."


"I managed to make a catch today. You should keep any extra you've got for leaner days... You've got many more mouths to feed than I do."


He would smile at her, hoping to ease some of the tension he had brought upon her on a night where she had probably been expecting anything but...

"I know what it means for you to offer such things in a time like this... I won't forget it."


The clouds shifted then, and the moon came to rest upon her face. Kai looked to Small and saw there an expression foreign to her features. It was ...unsettling, and he found himself staring at her with an expression of worry on his own face.

"But the moment she betters, she comes to see me. I'll decide what to do with her."


What... Would she do? He wondered in that brief instant. Would she harm her? Would she turn her away? There were those who believed Scy capable of dark deeds, specially after she had so openly defied her sister's authority, but Akaika wasn't one of these wolves. The thought of Small causing harm on the emaciated bundle that Scy formed in his home brought a strange vibration deep in his chest. It never reached his jaws. Akaika knew his place. This was Smalltalk's territory now, and by bringing Scythetrill here, he would have to accept whatever Small's decision would be.

He offered a silent nod as proof that he understood and would comply when the moment came.

"Keep her away from the children."


"I won't let anything happen to them. That I swear on my life."

He'd just spent an afternoon with them, nothing more, and already he was ready to defend them to the death. Yeah, even the one that liked to bite him for some reason... As he watched Smalltalk walk away, Akaika wondered how different his life would have been if he had chosen to settle down with someone from the pack instead of traveling and chasing dreams. He returned inside his home and settled on the ground for the night after making sure Scy was alright.


It was the humidity that got to him first. That suffocating quality to the air, that made it catch in your chest and covered your skin in a thin layer of sweat beneath your fur. He knew right away where he was. The air, thick and heavy and warm, was always rich with the smell of blood here... Blood and decay. The smell came from the plants, from the earth, and from himself.

He had never wanted to go back. So why was he there? Shadows moved beyond the trees, but every time he looked at them they vanished like ghosts at the corner of his vision.

Instinct of the hunter kicked in. With others around, he needed to move his prey to a safer place so it wouldn't get stolen from him. He opened his jaws to grab the half eaten meal that lay at his feet but when his eyes caught sight of the carcass, he stopped.

Maggots covered her opened wounds where the flesh had already been devoured. Her lifeless eyes stared at him as though asking him why he would do this to her... Why he would do this to one of his own kind.

It wasn't raining, but the general refused to leave his log.

"bRiNg hEr tO mE...."


His limbs refused to obey him, as though they did not even belong to him. Yet the log somehow came closer and closer and unless he did something, anything, the monstrosity of a wolf that lived inside the log would grab her carcass and pull her inside it's rotting darkness. He would never see her again.

Never again

nEvEr aGaIn



He woke in a startle, eyes wide and disoriented, unaware of where he was. Was he... no... He was safe, where he has chosen to make his home. He breathed a sigh and stood on limbs still numb from sleep.

A quick glance in the direction of his usual sleeping spot reminded him why he had spent the night on the floor. Walking over to her, he picked up a corner of the shawl that had fallen from her shoulder and placed it back over her sleeping form. Having forgotten to fetch water for her the night before, he headed out to the Oasis.

After taking care of his own thirst, Akaika folded a large leaf in the manner his mother had taught him so very long ago in order to make a sturdy container. Dipping it into the water, he then brought it back to his home and settled it down for Scy to drink when she felt ready to.

"Good morning. How do you feel today?"

He would offer her a smile. Things could only go up from here, right?


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#12


  [Image: 1917203_zXJnsNeKHLfDHPn.gif] [Image: 1919768_gajjiwtA4cxEQA3.gif]

“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]


Akaika's fitful dreaming had caused the creamy to toss in her sleep, but her internal battle against her sickness kept her under. All she did was bring a paw up over her eyes, causing the cover to slip from one lean shoulder.  The red soldier replaced the shroud and left, but it only after he was gone, in the pre-dawn of the morning, that she roused. The light filtered through the nasal cavities of the skull, as though through a porthole window.  It softly lit the interior, a few stray beams from other holes further speckled the light.  It was in this place of warmth and light that she awoke.  At first, she thought she must still be dreaming.  But where her eyes might not believe, her nose did not lie.  His smell was everywhere.  Even in his absence, she knew where she was. As she rolled onto her belly, the cloth fell back again, and she turned to sniff the shawl.  She expected one smell, but the faint trace of the other brought mixed feelings for her.  The son of man had turned her... morphed her into something her pack had feared.  After Aoshi, she lost everything.  Why did Akaika have this?

A sound on the wind distracted her thoughts.  It could have been birdsong, some call from a wren or sparrow or warbler that nested in the cactus and joshua trees.  But to Scy that  wasn't what it sounded like.  Instead, it was a familiar voice.  Scy's mind still raged with fever, but the meat, small as the amount had been, had bolstered her strength.  The sickness still gripped her lungs, still tried to drown her in sputum.  But, with a wet, nasty cough, the phlem loosened the hold on her respiratory system. Once again, she stood in response to the sound of a voice of one who was long gone.  Was this auditory hallucinating from her fever?  Or was something else at work here.  Whatever it was, Kai would find her standing in the center of his home, staring at the light pouring through the upper 'window'.

"Good morning. How do you feel today?"

She was slow to react to him, uncharacteristically so.  The old Scy would have heard him, would have been ready to react and already determined he was friend instead of foe.  Instead, she slowly lowered and turned her head, cocking it to the side in his direction.  Still-glassy eyes looked back at him.  But he was smiling at her, and she couldn't help but give him a tired, relieved smile back.  One that looked like she was on the verge of breaking down.  She looked like she'd just found out the sea wasn't a mirage.  In a way, she had.

She took a couple steps to the water, practically laying down as she drank.  Like the food, he had rationed how much she was intaking.  It wasn't enough to slake her thirst, but it was something she'd desperately needed.  The liquid coated her parched throat, and while her voice was still off from her sickness, it did not sound like the gutteral scratching it had the night before.  She looked back up, but not to him.  Instead, she focused back on the light coming through near the ceiling.

"A mammoth skull den..." She breathed a soft, sighing laugh. "When did you adopt my taste in decorating?"

A joke? She looked sideways at him, a little bit of her former coy bleeding through from beneath the dirt and grime, still hidden somewhere in her skin and bones.  But then her face froze as she realized... she wasn't at her den... Her skulls!  Most were measly trinkets, but there was one she cherished above all others.  She'd dug it out of the mud, one of the few acts she'd done before she fell so seriously ill.  It was in the hole in the desert.  At least... she thought it was.  She looked around, glancing sharply from side to side, but the jerking movement made her vision swim.  She raised a paw to cover her eyes, drawing it down her muzzle, brushing her scarred nose. She stared at her paw for a moment, but made the decision not to ask Akaika to fetch.  She had no right to ask him to.

"Thank you." She said, after a moment.  He didn't have to save her.  Although she really couldn't have pictured him doing anything else.  Still, she had to tell him something, but the words fell far short of how she felt.

She didn't recall Smalltalk's visit, and didn't catch scent of her niece.  She had no idea of the looming guillotine that could be brought down upon her head.  In truth, her inability to properly interact with her family was one of Scy's fatal character flaws.  But for all her arguing, headstrong stubbornness, and volatility, there was something that even her own flesh and blood never seemed to remember: She was killer of her kind, not her kin.  Scy had always spoken against the rules, the decrees, the laws.  But never so much as a tooth or claw had ever been raised against them.  Her darkness was deep, but that was a depth she had never fallen to. She was, and could be, dangerous. But she was not the monster they thought her to be.

What no one had ever tried, never asked, was what coin paid for Scy's loyalty?  Once truly bought, she was as faithful as an oath, defensive to the point of recklessness, and sacrificial with an utter disregard for her own well-being. Instead of focusing on her insubordination, no one had asked a very important question: what was it that set her off?  What drove her against the wall again and again? Why did she bark and snarl and howl? Could they go back and recount what it was in each of her transgressions?

Akaika could have told them, had he been able to replay the series of events.  It was love that bound her, that blunted her jagged edges. It was a yolk she never fought, a red thread that entangled her to the core.  Yet it was not her flesh and blood who had made her feel loved... it had been a gentle woman who cared for her out of no obligation at all.

the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb



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#13

She smiled back at him, and his heart broke. Whatever she had done in the past to incur the distrust of her own blood, she didn't deserve being left behind like she had. That's what had happened wasn't it? They'd all left and no one had bothered to check on her... Not even him.

He sat down and watched quietly as she drank the ration of water he had brought back in the folded leaf. It was a slow process; each gulp of water she took not even half of one he regularly consumed. But he was patient with her. He knew she would need time to recuperate and return to her regular self..
If she ever did return to her regular self.

"A mammoth skull den... When did you adopt my taste in decorating?"

The red soldier lightly tipped his head to the side as he looked at her. She approved of the location? Or had she made herself a den within a mammoth skull before. Akaika couldn't recall if she had. His gaze went past her as it noticed Aoshi's shawl hanging off the edge of the recess where she had spent the night. Walking over, he picked it up and carried it over to the ocular cavity that made the main entrance. There, he hung the corners of the shawl atop the entrance on irregularities within the bone, letting the green fabric drape the front and act as a door.

When he turned around to look back at her, it was when she had brought her paw to her eyes, and for a moment he feared that her condition was deteriorating. He rushed by her side as she stared at her paw. He inspected it as he held it but saw no signs of apparent injury aside from the obvious mistreatment she had received from the elements. Her pawpads were cracked, and he made a note to rub them with aloe later to provide some relief. It wasn't the most important thing to take care of, but it was one of the only things he could do beside making sure she was fed. He wasn't a healer.

"Are you alright?"

His paw raised Instinctively to rest on her forehead. She was still feverish. He had hoped the fever would drop during the night but it seemed to grip her the same... For fever, he needed... Bark... From which tree? Willow? No.. it was birch, wasnt it? Oh what did it matter... None of those trees grew in the Oasis.

"Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet... You're not out of the woods. Your fever hasn't come down and I don't even know since when you've had it.. "

He knew enough to know one couldn't sport a fever more than a few days without permanent damage of some sort. He fetched a piece from the leftovers of yesterday's catch and placed it in front of her so she would get something in her stomach. As he watched her, he kept thinking of the next step... Always the next step.

His priority was getting the fever down. Perhaps Small or the stranger (Dahlia? Dahlila? Fuck Small had said her name yesterday but he couldnt remember already) knew some quick remedy he could make with what little the desert plants had to offer. Then he would need to leave for a bit... Seek help from outside. Akaika knew he didn't have anything to give in exchange for a healer's services, but if he could find the queen of Nardir then it wouldn't matter. He knew she would help him regardless. She kind of owed him a favor from long ago...

"Scy... What happened out there? What happened to you?"

She may not have had the strength to answer him yet, and if met with silence he would simply nod and respect that she needed more time. But one day, they would need to sit down and have a heart to heart about the empty year that had passed since they had last met.

If anything, she also deserved to know where he had been.


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#14
(This post was last modified: January 11, 2019, 02:37:24 AM by Scythetrill.)


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“Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings."
- Raine Cooper

                
        [Image: f2u_decor_autumn_by_mairu_doggy-dbk16p1.png]


"Are you alright."

"I'm... better."

There was no point in trying to lie and shrug it off.  Not with the evidence in plain sight that she wasn't well. He reached to touch her again, and a white-toed paw brushed under her bangs and checked her forehead.  While not as caught off guard as she had been the night before, Scy was still clearly not used to the touch.  She was tense, frozen in place while he checked her temperature.  Her head was slightly bowed, and she couldn't meet his gaze but her eyes darted to the ground anyway.  Her bangs fell back towards her eyes as he withdrew.

"Don't thank me yet... You're not out of the woods. Your fever hasn't come down and I don't even know since when you've had it.. "

"Um..."

She furrowed her brow together, thinking.  How long had it been since she had gotten sick?  Time was hard to track, especially when she'd lost the energy to do much more than sleep.  How many days had she spent in her near comatose state?  She'd lost the energy to hunt at least a few days after she'd fallen ill.  She'd caught the chill after the storm, and then the cough... was the fever first? or after? She couldn't recall.  Really, she'd ceased paying attention.  In truth, she'd probably been suffering minor illnesses for a few weeks, but this latest bout, coupled with her starved state, had been worse than the others.

"A while, I guess." She surmised, not really helping with her answer.

"Scy... What happened out there? What happened to you?"

She couldn't look at him.  Just sat with her head down, staring at the floor. What could she tell him?  She'd been abandoned, and like a dog, had kept to the home she knew, patiently awaiting their return.  But there had been no return.  She didn't want to admit it out loud.  If she told him they'd left her, it would just be pity she saw in those golden eyes. At least now, it was concern.  She felt like he cared.  But she didn't want pity, and hated the thought of him helping her only because of it.  But he had asked her a question, and she couldn't help but answer him with something. Everything was fuzzy.   Her reply was disjointed, her thoughts tumbling about as she really couldn't organize the thoughts well enough.

"They... left. She began, speaking like a disaster victim who was still in disbelief.  "I was waiting.  They should have returned after the weather cleared. But they didn't. She frowned, but didn't voice what they both were thinking.  I kept watching. But there was a storm... my den flooded in the night while I was asleep.  The water rushed in. I got caught out in the rain... I found shelter... where you found me."

It wasn't a very good recount, certainly not the militaristic report that she knew how to give.  More uncharacteristic behavior that didn't reflect the she-wolf he had known. She coughed again, wheezing through her ravaged throat.  It was ironic that, of the two of them, it was she who was having trouble speaking.



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