Welcome to Canis Major

a wolf and animal rpg (role-playing game)

Canis is a writing community for play-by-post (forum-based), freeform roleplay set in a fictional dream world in the intrusion fantasy genre. Most characters on Canis are wolves; many play elements are focused around wolves and canids, but the world makes room for a large variety of other animal characters such as dogs, horses, cats, bears, deer, and many, many more.

Our community is focused on flexibility, creativity, and collaboration. That boils down to a few important features:

  • There is no set activity requirement to write, though the game also rewards high activity
  • The setting and plot are member-created and staff-supported
  • Writing is collaborative, and so is our supportive community
  • The game is continuously improved to increase fun and decrease stress

Learn more in our Guidebook!

P
Mirror Mirror

#1
P
Elysium
Wandering. Like she always was.

Viscaria carefully tread along the jagged edge of the mountain, her torn nails scratching and clinging to the rocky surface. Her cream and brown fur splotchy in the midst of shedding for the warmer months. She tried her best to look suitable, but part of her - the stronger and more stubborn part - didn’t care what she looked like. She only cared about the endless hunger in the pit of her stomach.

Her hind paw slipped, her rough pad slicing open on the sharp rock. Viscaria let out a small hiss that turned into a sigh of euphoria. The sharp pain ran up her hind leg before sizzling out in her hip. She continued on, heading toward the small gathering of rocks in a half circle near a small evergreen tree. Pine needles were there for bedding and her small collection placed just within it.

A few feet away from her small den, she sat and lifted her hide paw from the ground, blood slowly dripping to the rocks before running down the slate grey surface to more level ground. She watched it with hue-matching eyes before leaning down to lick it, the taste metallic on her tongue and divine in her nostrils.
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#2
How long had it been since she'd slept? Sleep eluded her. Insomnia was her keeper, now, as she strode through the early morning fog that littered the now-familiar edges of the mountains. The days had become nights, had become days yet again. And still, she stood, those deep amethyst eyes unwavering and blinking away the crutch of sleep that promised her salvation. For she would not rest, could not rest when there was so much of this world left to explore and discover. Her mind was on fire, dancing with the thoughts that polluted her fragile brain.

Her gait was staggered and nearly feral as she strode against the clashing golden light. The sun rose from the very belly of the mountains, highlighting her hollow frame as she wavered forward, tracing along the edges of the mountains looking for nothing, and everything, and nothing again. Hungry lavender eyes scoured the landscape like dim headlights; blurred eyes and dry irises completing that eerily disheveled look.

And that was when the scent of blood invaded her nostrils.

Ears perked forward, ebony nares flaring as her head lifted from that near unconscious coma that had held her. The tangy tinge lingered in the back of her throat, causing saliva to pool in the base of her mouth. Her head wavered back and forth, dark eyes blinking in quick succession in order to try to bring a blurred world into some semblance of focus as she searched against the early morning sun for the culprit, the captor, the owner of such a scent. And that was where she saw the dirty, beige, and off-brown coated woman who sat encompassed by a ring of rocks and evergreen trees. They enveloped her, staging her body against the cascading golden light that dared to filter through and touch her cursed frame. And there she sat, nursing her wound in the early morning light ... crimson trickling from her paw and tainting those dark folds of her hungry lips.

Amaranth felt her mouth harden. Her slender frame, often dainty and ethereal, now appearing colossal against the bedraggled and emaciated form of the other. She moved through the sunlight, unabashed in her approach as those crazed amethyst eyes devoured the other. This ghost, this demon with red eyes who sat so innocently in the middle of the open air. 'Enyo,' her mind hissed, a crooked smile pulling up the very edges of her dark lips as she staggered to a wavering halt in front of the stranger.

"The mountains can be violent." Her voice slithered with an easy slur from her drugged lips, head tilting as her golden ears swiveled forward atop her head. "But there can be beauty in that violence," she continued gently, blinking those heavy eyelids and allowing her head to slowly lilt in the opposite direction. Fixated gaze landed upon the bloody paw, watching that crimson drip. Drip. Drip. "Where did you come from, Enyo?" The final words fell from her lips rather ... absentmindedly. But the smile never left her cheeks.

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#3
The damp pine needles beneath her paws still crunched from her slight weight - snapping under consistent pressure like almost everything in life did. Except her friends. Viscaria would make sure those did not snap, or the cream and brown wolf would.The world was not ready for a fully crazed Aktaion. Partially so was the normal, much like Viscaria, much like all others in her family. The Viscaria, it was like looking at the world through an opaque film. She was unsure of all those around her accept for her friends. Those were real. All others she was unsure of unless they were family. So when the larger, younger, golden female approached, the sickly wolf was terribly confused.

She appeared clear. Focused. Real. Brows creased as she studied the unknown female, lips pierced as she quickly looked her over, but did not dismiss her presence. Viscaria was... intrigued. It was an unusual feeling and one she had a difficult time identifying and processing. Viscaria turned toward the female, placing her injured paw on the cool, harsh ground and welcoming the pain that shots up her ankle. Who was she? Where slide she come from? Why did she seem familiar? So many questions and no answers.

“A place with no chills, no rain and no trees. A barren place. A place with no answers...” A single ear flicked as she was taken back to a place she couldn’t quite remember. A place of sand, sun and little to eat. A place of royalty and .... family... twisted as they may be. But no faces came to mind. Viscaria was forever alone. “And you? Why do you haunt my memory? Who are you?” she asked, her voice rough but unusually soft. Much like sand paper pretending to be a soft cloud. It didn’t work and yet.. you could imagine it.
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#4
Visionary

sorry for the wait, <3

For a moment, Amaranth imagined that she was looking through a mirror. An unusual, aged looking glass. Her hazy vision traced the tarnished edges of the other, drinking in her unusual energy with curious fervor. And there was something that tasted so soft, so familiar ... hiding beneath the barbed edges and the closed mind that so easily shoo’d away any interaction or company. Who was this oddity? Who was this Enyo? This crimson-stained fallen-angel that graced her presence? 

Amaranth could not tell if she was real ... or perhaps just a figment of her fraying mind. The blood — oh the blood — smelled so real, and yet this woman was so distant. So otherworldly. How could she possibly exist when it was so obvious she came from a different plane? Either way, this woman reminded her so very eerily of herself. A fragile mind; broken and yet held together so delicately by the webs of an intricate imagination. 

Perhaps they shared a trauma that Amaranth could not yet comprehend. Perhaps this woman was her, but from the future. 

The story was still waiting to unfold. 

And the crimson-eyed Enyo replied to Amaranth with as much convoluted enigma as one would expect. Their words played with one another on the breeze, both hinting at the distant illusions that only they could see in their minds. Reaching forward and inviting the other in. “A place with no answers,” she repeated softly, ebony lips coiling as the irony sunk in. “I regret to inform you that this place, too, has no answers. This world has no answers. Only questions.” She blinked slowly, watching the other process and think and try to make sense of a world that was merely wrapped in riddles. 

“And you? Why do you haunt my memory? Who are you?”

Amaranth blinked, almost ... almost confused. But there was a sinister satisfaction in knowing that she could haunt a stranger’s mind. “Have I visited you before? In your dreams?” Her curiosity poured from her lips, tongue rolling over dry teeth. “You, Enyo, do you have a name? Or are you but a ghost — a memory?” Her eyes swirled. Who are you?

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#5
Viscaria stepped toward the large, golden wolf. Scared, ebon nose twitched as she took in the scent of tarnished lavender and decay. It sparked a cord deep within her, a memory of a ghost that she was determined yo keep hidden at one time in her twisted life. Viscaria was drawn to this spark - like a moth to a flame. She was willing to burn, if only to place a single nail on this memory that hovered. Such teasing. Such desire.

Cream brows creased together as she studied this female without shame or hesitation. Ears perked forward, crimson eyes wide and glazed as if she were forever lost in the past. Nails curled, scraping against the harsh ground of the mountain. If only she could taste her blood…. Perhaps that would alight this spark and nurture it into a flame. If only it would open a cracked window that were too small for her to squeeze through, who’s clear glass was clouded with mist and confusion.

The voice of this golden flame was unrecognizable, her words floating over Viscaria as if she were nothing but a smooth body of water. “No.” her voice was light sand paper. “My memory, perhaps. I feel your blood would know the answer. Blood always holds the answers. If only… I could have a taste?” she asked, head tilting to the side as lunged forward, her body low as she reached to merely scrape the surface of the girl’s leg.
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#6
Visionary

Amaranth watched as the witch became quickly more twisted, her thoughts enveloping her fragile mind and threatening eruption. Her curiosity was as potent as Amaranth's own, but perhaps a bit more impatient. Violence quickly flooded those crimson pools, surging with insatiable energy as that shorter, more emaciated frame launched forward. Wretched words sputtered from hungry lips, asking for a taste all while her teeth sought out skin without permission.

She should have been afraid, perhaps, but her own inquisition held her hostage in those precious moments. She did not move. She did not blink. She did not fear.

She allowed the other the taste they desired.

Fang met the fragile skin of her lower limb, scraping across the delicate golden surface to meet the superficial vessels that lay in wait beneath. The sharp slice was barely painful, and perhaps far more surgical than Amaranth would have expected from a being so apparently feral. But the warmth of crimson bubbled forth, staining the edges of her limb and rolling down toward her feet where the other woman would have been waiting. Where her tongue would eagerly lap up whatever it was she needed to connect the dots in her mind.

She had to ignore the swell of static that blossomed in her bosom. The electric shock of feeling and sensation that flooded her body as the pain grounded her. Awoke her. Left her aching for more.

"Well?" The word was soft but questioning. She veiled the harshness of demand she sought to deliver, instead casting a burning purple gaze toward the other. "Do you know me now?" After the other had had her fill, Amaranth lifted her limb, glancing toward the blood that slowly fell from her skin to stain the earth below them.

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#7
The other did not move away from her in fear or disgust. Instead, the young, golden femme stayed grounded to her own position, unswayed by the sudden obsession that Viscaria was currently facing. Blood. She needed it. She had to have it filling her mouth and warming her belly. It was a need that she had since she left her mother’s belly and suckled at her teet. Since then, she had an insatiable hunger for it and was consistently denied. Viscaria was starved in more ways than one.

Fangs met fur, silkier than her own; pierced skin that was thicker and healthier. She nearl sighed through it all as blood filled her mouth, tongue greedily lapping it up before she pulled back, hesitant that the other would strke back. She didn’t though. Instead, she spoke, curious as yo what Viscaria found. And what did she find? The deranged female licked her lips - the sound much like sand paper being rubbed against carpet. The taste was familiar, if more pure than it had been before. As if it had been tainted by something or someone else.

It was in that moment that memories flooding her mind. They rushed through her like water through a dam or an avalanche down a mountain.Viscaria could not contain herself, attempting to scoot back but only calling on her bony rump. Crimson eyes wide. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. A ghost. That was the only logical thing, perhaps Skeek had arranged for this meeting. Perhaps it was it was Jackle and Shaft that brought the idea to light. Either way, Viscaria did not know what to do. There was a light attempting to flicker deep within her. Hope, perhaps? She hadn’t know the feeling before.

“You….” she whispered, clearing her throat and attempting to sound more confident and strong. “My daughter. You’re my daughter… I never thought I’d see you again, for you were stolen by your father when you were but weaned. Tell me… what did he name you?” Because Viscari was unable to name her beautiful children. They were the one things that truly made her weak. It was what made Cyril despise her weakness. So he took them, intending to never let her see them again. It had made her a savage.

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#8
Visionary
Amaranth's own patience began to wear thin, the unnerving silence of the smaller female grating on her, grating on her, grating on her. Like nails dragging down a chalkboard, that silence scored deeply into her mind, driving her nearly insane. It was evident in the brewing fire that coursed behind her labyrinthine eyes, those embers of deep purple hot enough to envelop Viscaria. Devour her whole. Burn her out of existence if some soft of explanation did not leave her thin lips soon.

She'd never felt such impatience.
Such a heated curiosity that it played with her temper with a devilish giggle.

It was a sigh at first, a thoughtful smack of lips. And it quickly evolved into some sort of unfathomable fear. The smaller, feral woman skittered backward, blood-tinted lips recoiling in a soft, scornful snarl as those eyes ... those eyes of the deepest hue of crimson ... peered up at her. They bore into her, stealing glimpses into the very depths of her soul. And Amaranth felt naked. Unguarded. So much so that her own body recoiled, the fur along her hackles rising as her bloodied ankle slipped backward, leaving a small trail of the crimson in her wake. A snarl caught on her lips as electricity surged through her chest, as potent as a lightning strike.

Who was this woman?

"My daughter. You're my daughter..."

The anger, once contained like a roaring wildfire, flickered.

Golden brows arched for a moment before narrowing, a humble emptiness pooling where the fire had once surged.

No.

No no, no. No. She couldn't be. Amaranth didn't have a mother. She didn't ... didn't, couldn't.

"I never thought I’d see you again, for you were stolen by your father when you were but weaned."

It was a trick. Some sick apparition of her mind. Her breathing rate increased unknowingly, a broken grimace lacing across her narrow, normally composed features. "No," was all she could think to say, the word sliding from her lips like a definitive thud. "I don't ... I don't have a mother." The sentence broke mid-way, confusion lacing her features as she tried once again to find the anger. But all she found was insanity.

"Tell me ... what did he name you?"

Amaranth's mind became blank, her own feral beast screaming forth from within and taking control. If this woman could know her by taste alone, perhaps ... perhaps Amaranth would know too. If this was blood magic, Amaranth would break it. She would find out, once and for all, who this voodoo seer was. And she would find out with blood.

And without further thought, without so much as a snarl, Amaranth moved forward, reaching with her own yearning fangs toward whatever part of the female she could grab. She ached to know the truth ... and that truth would come with blood.

Wouldn't it?

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#9
So many things were going through her mind in that moment. The taste of blood, the fact that it taste like her own with a sizzle of fire that was clearly Cypress and the weird feeling of guilt knowing she caused her own child harm. Anger, longing, hope, and confusion rocked her small, emaciated frame as she looked into the amethyst eyes of her daughter. She as taken just after weaning, when her eyes were still blue from freshly entering the earth. The purple had not shone through yet in all their brilliance. Her gold fur had still been cream, silky and undefined. The similarities were there, however, and now there was no denying that this female was her child. 

Viscaria was just as confused and shocked as Amaranth. “Don't be silly, all wolves have mothers,” she said with a soft voice that had intended to be a snap. Before she could say anything further, the golden female rushed toward her, pearl teeth flashing and before Viscaria could muster up the energy to jump away teeth sunk into flesh. This pain felt different. Instead of desire and alighting a fire within, she felt real pain that seemed to shoot up to the withered heart in her chest. A sharp inhale was given as she stilled her body to prevent more damage, teeth firmly holding her just above her shoulder and dangerously close to her neck. 

“So like me you are,” she said, her voice strained from the pain. No double her teeth touched bone due to how little muscles and fat the smaller female carried. The leg below her shoulder shook from the pain, threatening to give out at any moment. “Do you believe me now? I'm sure Cypress told you many, many lies....” And anger to that spoken realization that Cypress could have molded her into anything. Could have made her like him. Could have make her to hate.


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#10
Content Warning
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#11
fully aware that canines don’t cry.


Viscaria’s sharp intake of air through gritted teeth was lost to the ringing of her ears. Wave after wave of emotions rocked the smaller, weaker female as teeth ravaged skin, hitting bone. A weird sensation close to eyes full of rain seemed overflow past her lids and down her cheeks, mingling with the blood on her lips. Salty, metallic familiarity. Suddenly, the teeth ripped from her skin, causing the older wolf to be jerked forward, her shoulder giving out from the slight weight of her frame and causing her upper half to fall to the rocky ground, her jaw snapping on the slate, stunning her into stillness.

She could taste blood in her nought, but was it hers or Amaranth’s? Amaranth was her name. So beautiful and strong. It fits her so well. She had grown into a beautiful woman… if only Viscaria couldn’t have seen her grow. Sheltered her. Taught her that her father was dangerous. That her uncle was narcissistic and took what he want relished in the power that it gave him. He was twisted.

Head lifted from the ground, her jaw and shoulder tender as she tucked her paw beneath her chest, her body appearing lay a mere pelted carcass upon the hard ground. Bones were fusible beneath her fur at this angle. Her cream and brown fur stained with blood. Who’s, she did not know. “I am Viscaria,” she whisper weakly, her head pounding from the fall. “Do with me as you wish, my child. For I failed you. I could not keep him from stealing you from me. I could not keep you safe.”

And just like that, the stubborn outcast… surrendered to a daughter she searched for. Waking up in this new world, could not keep Amaranth from Viscaria.

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#12
It always alarmed her when Amaranth disappeared for too long. She should have been quite used to it by now - they had been companions for so long - but the thought forever gnawed at the back of her mind, what if something had happened? What if she was attacked, now laying broken and bleeding somewhere, too weak to find help? Of course the golden wolf was more than capable of taking care of herself, having been initially discovered in a decaying bone yard, but terrible things happened all the time. Valeska knew that better than anyone, given some of her experiences here thus far.

The morning light streamed weakly through the trees as the fog crept further in, obscuring her vision. The lavender-scent of her lover pulled her ever onward, reaching out with long, spindly fingers to gently caress her muzzle, flowing over her form like the mist that parted in her wake. If she closed her eyes, she could almost see Amaranth - tall and elegant and ghostlike, staring back with haunted amethyst eyes holding visions only she would ever know.

She was the most beautiful creature Valeska had ever seen.

Voices echoed weakly in the distance, just on the edge of hearing. Only the sound of birds chirping high overhead interrupted the string of garbled words, and the silver wolf pressed further on, quickening her strides - one of them had a familiar, lilting tone the closer she drew, so much that she could swear it belonged to Amaranth. The voices seemed heated, charged with emotion.

Blood suddenly flooded her senses, overwhelming the lavender-scent in a wave of crimson and iron-tang. Her eyes flew open.

“Amara?” she called tremulously as the hair bristled along her spine. Something had happened. She was in danger, someone had attacked her. She had to find her, she had to help her, where was she, where was she-

Two wolves stood at odds to one another, maws stained red with the other's essence. Small rivulets of blood dribbled out from their respective wounds, and as Valeska came into view, Amaranth stared, shell-shocked, at the frail woman who held a startling resemblance to her counterpart both in features and the languid way she carried herself. Assuming the worst, the silver wolf curled her lips back, revealing sharp, unblemished teeth that were not yet stained crimson - but were fully prepared to be.

“Amara!” she snarled, positioning herself in front of the offending stranger. “Who is this demon that has taken your form? Has she hurt you?!”

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#13
Blood outlined the edges of grimaced lips, marring her ethereal appearance. Crimson and gold played together on her slender features, devilish and incriminating. It was a map of the damage that she had done to the other. Carnal and feral initially, but fading into the meek energy that now engulfed them both.

The smaller wolf fell to the ground, her jaw slapping against the stony earth with a powerful, reverberating snap. And she lay there, in a pool of mingling blood, swelling deeply with every breath. Amaranth's own breathing wavered, echoing as loudly in her ears as the sound of bone against granite; haunting eyes gripped the crippled figure of the other, unwilling to relinquish her for fear that she would simply disappear into the mist that swallowed them. "I am Viscaria," she would breathe, weakly pulling herself from her ground as those eyes — those eyes as deep as the blood that poured from the wound in her shoulder — stared back into Amaranth ... peering into the very depths of her soul.

"Do with me as you wish, my child. For I failed you. I could not keep him from stealing you from me. I could not keep you safe."

Amaranth could feel the weakness in those words, she could taste the guttural grip of haunting failure and trauma. It caused her own chest to tighten, her numb body stoic as it hovered eerily over the submitted form of the other. Her own mother, offering her life to a daughter she barely knew. Traumatized by the same man that scarred both of their memories. 

She didn't want to hurt her anymore.

She wanted to hold her.

But then, like a flurry of pine and snow, her lover appeared through the mist. That smaller, stockier frame puffed up diligently, rare and alluring savagery in her eyes as she bellowed: "Amara? Amara!" Valeska did not question anything, did not question why this woman lay on the ground before her ... bleeding and broken. Amaranth could have killed her, and Valeska would have done nothing but hold her close and comfort her. Understand her. Forgive her. And Amaranth's heart would always flutter at the sight of her snowy angel, but it felt constrained against the tension that stuttered within her.

“Who is this demon that has taken your form? Has she hurt you?!”

Taken her form. She would have laughed had such hollowness not held her. The smell of crimson wavered, growing stagnant in the silence before Amaranth spoke again; "No, I hurt her." Golden brows softened with concern as she peered over Valeska's shoulder at the crippled woman she yearned to approach. But she remained grounded. "And it is her form that was stolen. By me." Empty amethyst eyes turned toward those pools of thundering gold ... searching for sanctity and forgiveness in those familiar pools. Amaranth was numbed by feeling. Her confusion. Her shame. Her pain. And now, her love.

"She is my mother, Valeska. I never ... knew ..." She trailed off, stupidly, not understanding how to explain or comprehend any of it. She was caught, numb, afraid. Afraid of the unbridled hunger she'd felt before — afraid of that demonic desire to kill that she'd never felt before. Afraid of all of the stories this woman had of her father ... afraid of how alike him that she, herself, might be.

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#14
She was weak. She had always been week. For an Aktaion, she was born with potential, but lacked to meet anyone's approval. She was the black sheep, the pup who existed only because of her last name. She had been looked down upon, fed last, denied shelter and yet.... Viscaria had lived. After she had been weaned, she lived off the scraps of what was left from the rest of the pack, finding company with her skeletal friends and finding solace in the fact that she would never be alone. 

Viscaria did not know if Cypress pitied her or somehow admired her tenacity to survive. Either way, things had ended the way they ended and Viscaria erased the whole thing from her memory... until now. Now everything came crashing back. The memories mixed with pain - and the realization that she was able to see her daughter as an adult... as a wolf who now had... a pack. Yes, that was the scent she could smell on her. Part of her recoiled, having had the worst experiences with packs but knowing that she was not a part of the one Viscaria had been born royal into. 

Blood trickled from her dry nostrils, her body dehydrated, emaciated and now weak from injury. She could continue no longer. The only reaction the smaller, silver female that came barging in received was the pulling back of her ears, a weak rumble in her throat easily drowned out by the woman's demands. Her vision blackened at the edges, her heart rate slow and dull as the adrenaline quickly wore off. No. No. This couldn't be happening. Not when she just found her. Her reason to live. Her reason to keep going. Part of her had hoped she would find her daughter one day - even if she had all but wiped her from her wretched mind. 

It didn't stop her vision from blacking out, the ringing in her ears too much to bear before Viscaria body became limp. She was exhausted. Too exhausted to continue. It was like the will to keep going had left her body. Like she was no longer pushing herself to find an end that she had not known about. Instead, she found what she had been looking for and she was... relaxed... but tired. Oh, so tired. In that second, she blacked out, her frail body laying amongst the cool slate of the mountain, laying in her own pool of blood, staining pale fur.

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#15
Hunter
Astounded was too weak of a statement to describe what she felt in that moment, almost as frail as the ragged pile of fur and bones that lay before them. Per their last discussion, Amaranth had previously been a prisoner of Hell, having valiantly fought her way out from the raging fires and dusty, hot winds to seek freedom from such a life of torment and pain. Valeska didn't actually assume she had parents - none that could be found outside of her former plane of existence, anyway.

Then again, the subject hadn't really come up before. What sort of wolves could birth such an enigma? It seemed unlikely, especially when the woman before them was so... fragile. So unlike her daughter. Amaranth was tall and willowy, but she was not weak, not at all ready to break in half over a strong gust or barely muster a snarl of defiance.

Valeska stared. “Your mothe-”

Whump.

It seemed their reunion was to be short-lived, and the silver wolf lost her one chance to make a good first impression on the mother of her girlfriend.

A number of agonizing seconds ticked by wherein Amaranth was presumably shifting gears to deal with the new information, and Valeska was trying to decide which panic response she should initiate. The she-wolf wasn't dead - not yet, at any rate, judging from the shallow rise and fall of her chest - but she was alarmingly close to it, and something had to be done. The mountains were still rich with prey this time of year as the summer season came to its end, and she had no doubt there might be something rummaging about nearby.

“I will be back. Keep watch, and do not let Amara-mother move,” she said sternly, motioning with her head for Amaranth to return to Viscaria's side.

Making a quick about-face, she departed through the trees.

---

Forty-five minutes later...

---

Valeska returned, disheveled with a great many twigs and leaves sticking out from her fur, the small corpse of a hare dangling from her jaws which she ceremoniously spat out at the stranger's paws. Motioning with a paw that she was presently unable to speak, she bent her head and furiously chewed up the rest of something that had been safely pillowed in her cheeks; after feeling it had been sufficiently mashed, the little wolf spat that out, too, landing square on the wounds at Viscaria's neck. Using her muzzle, she slowly worked the poultice in.

“Harper showed me calendula useful for healing. Do not know if Amara-mother is sick or hungry or all of the things, but it is worth try,” she said, her voice tinged with concern. She couldn't tell if the wolf was still breathing anymore; she was so small, so light.

What had been holding this creature together for so long?

“Can you get Amara-mother to eat? Do not let her sleep for long, she might not return. Wake her up!”

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#16
Viscaria continued to crumble, visibly cracking as her body stiffened and shook. Blood continued to pour from the wound by her neck, gathering in an ominous pool of macabre around her tortured frame. And it was not long before the weaker, emaciated female, took a final racking breath before slumping into a pile of her own decay.

Decay inflicted upon her by Amaranth's fangs.

Amaranth's vision blurred at the edges, but her slender face remained disproportionately stoic.

'You killed her,' a voice chimed from within her (was it laughing?). 'How did it feel?' Amaranth could not take her eyes away from — what she could only assume was — the carcass of her mother. She recalled the feeling of her fangs in that fragile flesh, the taste of blood and fear filling her mouth and inundating her senses. 'You killed her, look!' The voice roused in volume, the laughing of the unseen vocals becoming an unbearable cacophony.

"I killed her—" she repeated, breathing the words to no one in particular. Speaking out loud only so that the voices in her head would shut up. "Valeska—" she added suddenly, voice touching on desperation as she peeled her gaze from the corpse and back to her angel. Her light.

But Valeska was already acting. Already undoing the damage that Amaranth had done. “I will be back. Keep watch, and do not let Amara-mother move,” her mate insisted, the sternness in her voice rousing a bit of reality back through Amaranth's spiraling mind. The golden woman nodded solemnly, and as her gaze turned back toward the blood-drenched mother-wolf, she did not fear that the smaller wolf would move ... she feared she'd never move again. And as Valeska bolted into the mist, Amaranth crawled toward the woman and gently wrapped her larger, warmer frame around her in a soft coil. To preserve her warmth, and protect what little life force remained within ... she feared to clean the wounds, unwilling to taste the decay again for fear of what it would do to her.

Time lapse.
It felt like an eternity before Valeska returned, the scent of herbs and prey weighing heavy on her skin.

Amaranth lifted her head, ears pressing forward as the rabbit landed with an audible thud at Viscaria's nose. Valeska began to chew and apply an earthy salve to the bubbling wound. Amaranth could only watch with soft admiration and ... perhaps awe. The little puff worked quickly, diligently, and efficiently. Where Amaranth felt heavy, Valeska was quick. And perhaps that quickness would save the battered woman who struggled for life at her side. Or perhaps she was dead already; perhaps Valeska was willing her gods to perform some kind of miracle. To bring life back to a wolf who was already trapped in purgatory.

And perhaps they would.
Perhaps Valeska had more power than they both realized.

"Wake her up!" Between Valeska's wound dressing and screeching (which was often boisterous to wake the dead, anyway), Amaranth would rise up again, using a gentle paw to touch at Viscaria's scruff. Her other paw pushed the bloodied rabbit closer to her nostrils, attempting to rouse the skeleton to life.

All the while, the voice in her head laughed.

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#17

It was dark.

But it was calm - peaceful - with no hunger, pain or uncertainty.

It was like she was floating in the clouds, though nothing could be seen, heard or smelt.

It was peaceful.

_____________________

Viscaria was unaware of anything that happened back in the realm of reality. Her breathing was shallow, her heart beat weak from lack of strength. Her ribs poked through her fluffy and slightly matted fur (though miraculously clean save for the blood). It was like she was a deflated hot air balloon - when all the heat left, it was left cold and flattened. If she were awake, Viscaria would feel cold.

A feeling she couldn’t remember feeling. So many firsts Viscaria was experiencing in such a short amount of time. For a sane wolf, even this would be too much. Something was starting to disturb this peace. She could feel it in the way the edges of that darkness seemed to shake, to become light. Viscaria didn’t know what she felt first: pain, hunger, hope, loss, or fear. All emotions she never thought she would experience and were all crashing down on her at once. It was light she was suffocating.

No… she wassuffocating - breathing in her own blood. She would have jerked awake had she had the energy. Instead, her body rocked violently as she forced out several coughs, her legs stiff and straight as she attempted to sit up, to breath and view her surroundings. The whites of her eyes could be see as she looked around, nostrils flaring. What… what happened?

A rabbit lay in front of her, and the need to eat overcame her more than any other feeling in that given moment. She didn’t the two wolves around her, didn’t notice the healing salve on her neck, only the rabbit carcass, placed right before her jaws. She only scotched a little closer before snatching it up with her teeth and scarfed it down, bones and all.


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#18
As she retreated from her poultice-packing to allow the pair their space, she sat back on her haunches knowing she could do nothing more, and settled in for the time being to watch them with the ferocity of a hawk. They were so different, but so much the same. Amaranth, now riding the tail-end of her panic, and the pitiful, limp form of her emaciated mother; both of them molded together in a soft circle of golden furs intertwined, covered in each other's blood. It was a fitting sort of poetry for them. They were spiritual, yet savage; a sort of wildness clung to their souls like some disheveled witch-child running through the underbrush, chanting lyrics and ancient spells only they could understand, but the two still managed to move with the refined grace of a lady in high court.

Amaranth was a mystery that might never be solved, and it seemed her parent was of the same ilk.

As Viscaria sputtered weakly to life, Valeska was shocked at how quickly the stranger managed to put away her offering - almost like a snake, she devoured it in just a few gulps, fur and bones and all. She suddenly realized she'd been praying out loud, so caught up was she in willing her to live, and looked at them both sheepishly. It seemed that the Five had answered, however.

“My love,” she began quietly, moving forward to touch the golden wolf with her muzzle. “Look. It is alright. I think she will be fine, but...”

The hare was supposed to last a little longer than that. A lot longer, actually. Regrettably, she had assumed it might take the smaller wolf quite some time to chew her food, though at least it meant some part of her was still functioning normally.

“I think it is important we find more food,” Valeska mused, casting a wary eye on the starved female before returning her attention to her companion. “Do you think Amara-mother can walk? Or should we sleep here tonight? I can bring more of the snacks, but... tell me what you wish.”

Valeska doubted she could speak more than a whisper, but if it meant the difference between making it back to the safety of Elysium or perishing on the road there, she would prefer to rest with them in the small clearing between ferrying more prey over. She had a great many questions to ask, and it would be no good if Amaranth's mother passed away prematurely - she was youthful yet, for her gaunt appearance.

Had she also escaped Hell?

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#19
Empty eyes stared down toward the body, the body as cold as a corpse. The sides of her vision still blurred, threatening black around the edges. And that was when the sounds overcame her. The soft, ethereal chanting of Valeska's prayers under her breath. The stubborn, galloping rhythm of her own heart. The gaunt, ragged sounds of sputtering breaths, choking between inhalations, and aspiration of blood. Her eyes widened. Breathing. Coughing. Sputtering.

Valeska had revived her.
She was alive.

Perhaps her love was onto something with The Five after all ...

And the feral beast roared to life, exhaling spittle laced with ichor as she scrambled to weakened paws with a gaunt gasp. Unseeing eyes landed upon the rabbit, serpentine fangs devouring the morsel with instinctual ferocity. Within an instant the offering was gone, leaving her newly revived form heaving with carnal desire for more food. Amaranth wondered, very briefly, if her mother was now a zombie. An undead. Did something happen to their brains when they were undead? Would her mother be able to speak again? Or perhaps she would turn those venomous fangs upon her daughter now and return the favor of death.

Part of her still fathomed that this was all but a dream. Some root-induced nightmare. Some fucked up, insomniatic barrage from her inner mind.

Valeska approached her, that soft nose touching her face and sending a warm reminder through her that quelled her nerves. Eyelids fluttered, her body melting like butter at the touch, her gaze turning away from the zombie and landing upon what was real and what was in front of her. Valeska. "Valeska, I don't ..." She felt so unlike herself. Pitiful. Ashamed. As emaciated emotionally as her mother was physically. "I don't know what came over me," she continued, her weight falling slightly to lean against the Valeska like a supporting pillar. "I don't know who she is. How she got here. I don't know if she's real, if she's undead, if she's alive, if she's regular dead—" her mouth sputtered, crimson-stained lips nearly blubbering in such an uncharacteristic fashion as her head turned toward the stumbling, cream-colored zombie behind them.

The combination of emotional turmoil and an overactive imagination was sending her into a nearly manic state, and it was evident in the erratic way her energy wavered, steadied only slightly by the presence of Valeska. 

But Valeska was right. The woman, this Amara-mother, needed food.
Rest. Safety.
But Amaranth could not be trusted with her alone.

What if she tried to kill her again? Could you kill an undead zombie? In purgatory?

Amaranth weakly peeled herself from the magnet of Valeska's side, crouching slightly as she approached the smaller version of herself. She barely noticed the pain of her own foot, where Viscaria's teeth had etched her skin. "Viscaria ...?" she cooed softly, eyes searching those empty crimson pools for some indication that she was still sentient. She stalked forward as if approaching a rabid animal. "... mother?" She softly tested the foreign word on her tongue, voice steadying for a few moments and weakly chiming with that normal, hymnal quality. 

Valeska had asked a lot of reasonable questions (where were they going to sleep? Could Viscaria even walk? Move?) ... but Amaranth's mind was lost in make-believe.

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#20
Vision was cloudy. Her head was pounding. Her skin felt paper thin and sticky, fur clinging to it making her appear like a runt of a newborn, fresh from her mother’s body.

The rabbit went down terribly, barely chewed, barely tasted and barely processed. It felt like a too-heavy weight in the pit of her stomach, attempting to drag her back down to a deep and peaceful slumber. But then the pain hit full scale, a sharp hiss sounded through clenched teeth. She shifted what little she could - her body stuff sprawled on the slate of the mountain - to look at the salve that brought what little cooling relief it could to her wounds.

Clouded eyes glanced up, looked at the closeness of her daughter, realizing how large she (any wolf for that matter) actually was. Her frame reminded her of her father’s, tall and willowy. She looked into her amethyst eyes, unable to identify the emotions that were there, unable to identify any emotions due to not being properly socialized since birth. Then there was the pale one. The one that looked like she was winter personified. Cream browns creased as the ghostly female struggled to piece it all together.

Her name brought her into focus. “Mother” nearly sent her over some sort of emotional edge she didn’t even know was there. In fact, what was this liquid that pooled over her lids when her body was already dehydrated and gaunt? Why did it weaken her so? “What, child?” she mumbled, drawing to her as much strength and sanity that she was able.

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#21
Counsellor
She wondered then, as she often did, what unseen torments plagued the halls of Amaranth's mind. The panic behind her eyes settled with relief at seeing the frail stranger sputter back to life just long enough to consume their offering, but then blossomed anew at - what? What could she possibly be imagining in that wild, decaying imagination? At first Valeska thought she might spring forward and end the woman's life altogether once more, yet Amaranth merely swayed where she stood, lips silently parting and closing again as though she might utter some incantation to the gods over what she just witnessed. Whether she thought it a holy encounter or otherwise, Valeska could do little but stand beside her and press the warmth of her living form into the golden shaman's, a gentle reminder that they did not yet belong to the land of the dead.

“It is... normal, I think, to fear what we do not understand,” she replied quietly, as much to herself as to her companion. Amaranth's relationship with her parents still remained a mystery, and she couldn't guess at what kind of childhood - what kind of life - might drive a daughter to instinctively turn her fangs against her own mother. Valeska wondered what she was so afraid of; did this fragile little woman hold a knowledge she wished to keep secret and buried?

As the willowy wolf-child staggered forward on uncertain paws, a small sound escaped her. A light trail of blood stained the earth in her wake.

'Viscaria...? came the softness, the gentleness. A lost pup in the wilderness, suddenly only weeks old, eyes barely opened; cold and shivering. '... Mother?

The word sounded foreign on her tongue, but this was a side of Amaranth that Valeska had never seen yet. Vulnerability was not something she readily displayed - her defensive nature rarely allowed for it - but for perhaps the first time, she peered over the high walls that guarded the fortress of her heart and truly saw.

Viscaria lifted her head, a trembling marionette held aloft by strings at the unexpected call. A mother's instinct; even so far gone into decay, she could not deny her child.

'What, child?'

Valeska's heart nearly broke.

“Maybe we should... bring her back. It is not good, she is exposed to elements. Amara-mother should rest somewhere safe,” the little wolf suggested carefully, unwilling to disturb the scene unfolding before her, yet driven to seek shelter. “She also needs water. Can you help her to stand?”

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#22
"What, child?" The words burned through her ears, a flame-laced tongue etching patterns into her aching soul. She could have flinched against it, for perhaps it hurt her more than a physical wound ever would. Golden ears laid back atop her skull, brows softening into complacency as she stared at the skeletal figure that she'd nearly slain. Her mother. Amaranth was perhaps as savage as the fire-breathing demon that had borne her. Lavender eyes flickered, emotion powering down and that spark fading quickly to an aching, void of darkness within those boundless pools. They turned to seek out Valeska.

Valeska.
Valeska saved her.

Always saving ... always there. Saving Amaranth, saving her mother. Doing too much work.

It wasn't fair. Amaranth didn't deserve her, and she never would. And that painful fact hurt more than ... anything. "I'm sorry," was all she could muster, her body threatening to fall from beneath her. She felt the way her bones wavered and ached ... she felt the way her soul threatened to pour out every orifice of her body and dissipate into the mist that hung over the earth. She wanted nothing more than to be consumed by the mist.

Valeska's words reached softly for Amaranth's ears, urging that soul to quiet for a moment and succumb to reason. Viscaria needed shelter, water, food. But Amaranth could not provide those things — no, she could only supply chaos and torment upon an already broken soul. She could not help. And silence fell between the trio as Amaranth merely glimpsed deeper into Valeska's eyes, a veiled smog covering the raw pain and feral fear that she felt. She could not — would not — touch Viscaria again, for her sullen fear of murdering this mother figure was still far too overpowering.

"I'll get ... the den ready," she offered mindlessly, gaze breaking away from the duo as she turned away ... leaving nothing but a trail of crimson and shadow behind her as her body dissipated into the fog.

Exit Amaranth unless stopped.

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