IC Archive

every reality is beautiful if burned out

With a scorching ache in his heart, somewhere, he had made up his mind well enough to finally act upon it. Antares had done enough waiting for fate to take what was his again and again. But, now that he was in motion, and deep in the flow of it too, he could not remember if it was a willing choice, or full on flight.

On his eve’s travels, storms brewed in the churning skies. He realized that he was alone as showers escalated swift into a fully-blown downpour. Lightning illuminated his path, one set with a steady incline that he chased for more. Somehow over all the rain, he could still smell something that reminded him of smoke, too. Eerie, and it only put him on a greater edge alongside this deeply-rooted possession to go up; away, beyond--run to where no grief nor guilt could catch him after everything had already fallen from such great heights. But his legs were feeling heavier than he could ever remember. How long had it been? How far had he gone? As it all spun his thoughts and the distances went by, strength sapped from him. Even he threatened to falter at a point, and something, someone, shouldered against him, helping to prop him back up.

A gesture made in a familiar fond roughness was what stuck, not what had happened when he steadied his feet. It was a friend first, then another, then each of his brothers, a sister, uncle, aunts, father, mother. In the second it took him to reel, it was gone, replaced achingly by.. stranger? Even that did not seem right. His eyes narrowed, defenses rising beneath his confusion. He saw pitch-colored furs and a voice spoke low to him: "Keep going. They will be waiting," these shadows assured him, furs bladed in moisture much like his own. He blinked, head heavy with the urge to argue this at first: (I already took too long...) But instead there was a nip on his shoulder that redirected the notion. Too familiar. It threatened to remind him again what he was doing, this fleeing from the harsh realities of it all. "You will find them, from hell to heaven..." like they knew his thoughts, perhaps in a different voice than the first. Antares could not seem to be sure, and did not wholly understand, anyway. "It is over soon, 雷槍." they told him without decoration.

Hearing this, there was a strange sensation simmering, swirled in uncertainty. "次回は頑張ってください," the shade assured with a low murmur into his ear. Another firm pinch of teeth to his drenched flanks and he was alone again after.. and yet again pressing forward, gaining momentum, and ailing despite the new burst of a rush. It was full-dark now, getting darker, and his bleary mind searched for the meaning or for any clarity on the matter.. besides to simply outrun the entire nightmare.

Lightning splintered across a distant horizon again to let him see how vast it remained. Despite everything, his pains' protests included, Antares wrung more speed. He didn't seem like he was going fast enough, and newly, his feet felt like they were sinking--deeper, by the stride. Keep going he repeated in his own voice this time Higher. Just a little while longer He tried to reason until somewhere along the way, it all faded away from him into full darkness. Even with his efforts to reach out, there was nothing left to see in this thick, stormy midnight.

As blackness swelled around him, he drowned. Then, it was quiet. Deeply so. Time spanned, something settled--in and around him both. Somewhere, raising his head, he followed a flickering luminescence while it drew lazy circles in the dark. A firefly? It looked a lot like one. Blinking, he thought he saw more distant specks of light.. even ones faraway, further than bugs could be. Stars, a hopeful want guessed, and a strange sense of peace cooled around him.

Above, brighter than all else was the full moon. On instinct, he found himself drawn to its glow. Eventually, its brightness faded, split, then returned a startling, bloodied red.
— ⛈ —
Antares woke with a harsh start, his heart absolutely racing. It was light out, now. He was dry, beneath the hollow remains of an old tree trunk, and he could hear birdsong. A few kinds. It smelled cold, of pine forest-floor, with a hint of sea salt and woodsmoke persisting, but that rang as familiar. As him, essentially.. which led him to the next thought of how stiff everything was as he moved to unbend his limbs. He groaned, bothered by the sound of it before setting his head back down, and tried to recount what he did know so he could place why everything felt so.. different. If he could settle his mind some, the rest may follow. As he blinked, he did not feel fully aware of himself yet, let alone what lie beyond this cranny in the woods he had evidently crawled into. It was just a dream, he sought to convince himself with some steadying breaths. When he straightened up to stand again, he grimaced bodily, but powered through so that he could move from his strange cover. He needed to begin investigating--thinking he would feel better with that to do.

The Ostrega instantly wilted back from the bright snow-covered scene. He could have sworn it had been spring. Hissing through his wince, he forced a few more steps, then craned a look up once his eyes adjusted some--well enough to squint at least. An ancient, wide tree, splintered from up high, stood above his hollowed-out nook. He sniffed its direction, thinking it could be old lightning damage.. But left to weather the elements of decay since, it was not easy to say for sure what had happened. He stared a moment longer, cataloging this, but he didn't know why it seemed to strike him. It kept his frown in place even after he shook his coat and started to stretch into a slow walk. How long did I sleep? he wondered, not with the energy to feel appalled at how it seemed. Maybe it's still a dream, he went on to reason as carefully, he drank in this unfamiliar place he found himself in.

His head was spinning. One step at a time, he delicately began his explorations.

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Tags for reference!

It had been a while since Izumi visited the tundras -- the first place she had woken up before it all happened. The young crane had returned here willingly with @Reiko and the rest with the promise of helping the snow empress locate her missing children, but over time those plans have changed. Kasteloki was supposed to be where her attention had been drawn to now -- now that Izu had kept her promise and Reiko was settled with one of her young in a safe place, and yet the she-wolf found herself getting too attached to leave now. So she stayed -- with Reiko and her daughter, in the tundra with no clear plan to depart from the others anytime soon.

She was tired of being alone for so long...

Today, the princess had decided to walk a little ways outside of Tsukiishii in search of some familiar faces. Izu had not seen her friend @Kuhn in a minute and figured she might've found him in the same place they'd originally met. What she'd find instead was not a large, strangely patterned cat -- but a wolf. It was not as if the sight of another wolf roaming the tundra was big news, and Izu probably would've turned away to mind her own with the thought of the large tom in mind. Except....there was something strangely familiar about the way this one looked. Their scent. As if tucked away in a distant memory in the back of Izu's mind, the girl feels like she remembers it somehow...

"Tiberius?" the crane called softly; inquisitively.

She approached with caution while the stranger's back was faced towards them, but paused after speaking up to give them time to hear her. @Tiberius had been the only one she had met recently with similar dark colors, but Izu had a feeling it couldn't be him. His pelt was moltted with patches of sparse white, not to mention that he was a little taller than the crane was. The stranger before her looked to stand around the same height, and their coat was an unbroken black that contrasted aggressively with the white landscape surrounding them.

Still, she thought, this was someone she felt like she'd met before -- and as she stood there waiting for them to answer, a paw was lifted idly in the air as if she wanted to trudge closely, but was too wary to at the same time.....

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"Common" | "日本人"
Progress was going to stay slow, he realized quickly. He found he carried a strange fatigue, one deeper than a long sleep and bad headache, but not one he could pin down to one exact place or cause. He kept his head low and eyes squinted, skimming through the evergreens for an ounce of his bearings. Certain moments seem to swim together worse than others but even in the clearest times, he still did not know this place, or where it was in relation to anywhere he did know.

As someone raised to place great value on knowledge, Antares chose to be unsettled about this, more than anything--pointedly trying to ignore whatever he was aching about exactly. On top of this, he felt horrifically underdressed here in the snow, and like he woke up on the wrong side of his bed--or maybe his entire reality. There was plenty that led up here, but nothing that really explained the specifics on what he had just weathered. Then again, he wondered if this was simply what everything had been leading up to; a mountain of despair, a storm of uncertainty.. and now here he drifted after the fact.

Antares slipped from this spiraling train of thought when he noticed someone. That pinned back his ears, and even misplaced, he found he could summon his senses enough to be on guard. The stranger said something.. which didn’t mean anything to him, he thought, if he even heard it wholly. But he could be wrong. Maybe it should mean something. His grasp on what he did know felt slippery. Still, he turned, sharp at first with hackles beginning to blade, then easing back to blink owlishly when he made for the motion and saw her. Who… he stopped short, staring wide back at her before he slowly drew himself up. She was tall, ivory, and marked notably in contrast... Wait… he willed, feeling his head tilt.

Confused recognition flickered in his stormy look and the rest of him went still. He remembered, right? Right? It couldn’t explain anything yet and the dark Ostrega felt disarmed already. He seemed to hesitate on what to say for a beat, but opened his mouth and managed something: "I’m lost this time," he said quietly, chancing on a gut feeling that might be recalling a different time, and a different place too. It was the best explanation he had right now, so he would use it, and maybe needed to hear it for himself as well.

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The moment she'd call for the dark wraith's attention was the same moment she mildly regretted doing so. He turned sharply and stared her down, his hackles frilled and gaze -- dark yet icy all at once -- eyeing the crane with caution. 'Not Tiberius not Tiberius not Tiberius-', Izumi concluded frantically as, in turn, she faltered a step or two back with splayed ears and a tassel that contracted between her legs. The owlish gaze of his azure hues went fundamentally unnoticed as her lavender ones had already fixated someplace else to not meet his, but it wasn't until the boy actually said something to her that her flattened audits would flicker upwards.

"I’m lost this time"

The voice that reached her ears was characteristic to one she's heard before -- it was smooth, yet deep - almost therapeutic in a way that reminded her of a long-kept memory. A time where she was at the brink of drowning in her own dispare, only to feel pulled into a strange sense of comfort, however temporary it was, by someone willing to distract her from it all. Except their time together was brief, and it took Izu a while to actually realize who this was the moment she lifted her gaze and dared to stare into those blue depths -- out of a moment of desperate curiosity. It was him.


"....Antares?" The crane corrected with more certainty in her voice, and this time there was a mixture of quite shock to accompany it. Izumi didn't even realize she was moving until it happened, and her paws unconsciously began brisking towards the Ostrega before her. She'd never thought they'd meet again, ecspecially in a mysterious place such as this, but would they recognize her the same way she recognized him?

"I..........do you remember me? It's me, Izumi..."

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"Common" | "日本人"
Antares willed himself to keep processing this, still staying put just where he had paused--which was probably for the best, given. The initial start of no longer being alone was beginning to wane, and he had to keep looking for any semblance of sense he could find. Hearing his name struck him out of his haze, and again, he blinked at her like he wondered if she'd disappear. Yes! a reflex jolted on it, that felt right, pleased to confirm something, even one so simple as just the title his parents had stuck on him when he had been born.

Somehow, Antares was.. here, wherever here was exactly, and if she knew this much about him, then he hadn't been wrong, after all. She sounded sort of surprised to find him, which was a little worrisome if he thought about it, though he gave in to a slow nod..

There was more to be said before he could string together a coherent enough thought to say anything, though. Again his eyes searched her over and yeah, his suspicions had not been for nothing. Something else in her phrasing of it did continue to worry him.. and outright make him suspect he looked about as good as he felt, which was frankly like he had hit his head, been chewed up, spit out... But he was able to make small progress, her confirmation serving to ground him here, somewhat. He did remember her.. vaguely enough. Something about a faerie court, too. He tried to dredge it all back up, even in part, and before everything that he had seen in the last several months, it felt like ages since their once before.

It was from simpler time, and to him, on the outside, a peaceful night in Firefly Glen. But before it was.. so very much, officially and even that memory threatened a headrush. "Yeah, I.. remember you," he replied, sighing through his nose after and hoped it was mostly truth. She obviously remembered him. He had definitely met her before. He refused to doubt that. "A lot's happened." he went on to say for himself. "Where is this...?" he asked with a careful squint.

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It was him!

Izumi didn't know how to express what she felt right now, but the sight of yet another familiar face from her past life was slowly making her believe that she wasn't going completely crazy after all. First sunda......no, quicksilver, she guessed. Then Orlaith, and now Antares was here. Yeah, the boy with pretty eyes she had met back during a mental breakdown she was having in the middle of a glowing mosquito valley -- and whether that situation sounded like a fever dream was anyone's guess but hers. "I'm not so sure where we are either, unfortunately. But I've been here for quite a while now..." The question was, how did he end up here? Of all the places where they might've reunited one day, the young crane was not expecting it to be in what Izumi assumed was the afterlife. Unless...."Did you die, Antares? Is that why you're here?" The young crane inquired calmly with a curious flick of her ears, stopping in front of the ebony sire to dip her muzzle closer and sniff him. She was not mistaken, this was Antares.

How else would he have ended up here? The princess had this theory for a while now, but what if the majority of these wild's inhabitants have a misfortune befall their lives? Tiberius mentioned something about dying already, so was this being an afterlife of some sort really unbelievable? There was a moment of silence where the siamese would simply look towards the Ostrega and waited for him to answer the question -- until she realized how strange the question actually was. 'How are you?' or 'Are you okay'? -- nope, just straight to 'So did you die or something?'. 

"I-I mean, well....what was your last memory before waking up?" The she-wolf corrected quickly, and somehow held in the urge to smack her head against the side of a tree for the time being...

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"Common" | "日本人"
Antares wondered when this might make true sense, or when the gravity of this would truly hit him. He almost felt it creeping in, yet like the world was tilting out from underneath his paws.. but no, this was the most solid thought he faced so far today--even if Izumi didn't know where this was exactly. The Ostrega did take his solace in the fact she had been here for some time already. Something that implied it could last, that he wouldn't blink and miss it all. He needed anything he could get right now.

And before familiarity could settle in, warm him up any, he tilted his head Izumi's way. Did you die, Antares? she asked so very neatly. His body felt fuzzy, all half-inhabited still, which made him consider this in an entire new light.

Even on his verge of rethinking everything, Antares liked to believe he had a good grasp on it. Despite places where it was made of blurred lines, or only a sensation, a scent. He went down his checklist of what had been important, and thought he had it well under control. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe something was missing. It wouldn't be the first thing he had misplaced. So the scout was quiet for a long moment, looking distant. He reeled it back, and blinked, then set his haunches down to the ground, too heavy to deal with right now.

With the last several months that he had seen, all marked in tragic loss one after another, he was all too aware of death. He had seen his brother ended by a beast, howled himself hoarse calling to the corpses of his parents, and mourned a devastated mountain that took its family with it. But in these instances, he had always remained on the other side. He had always been too late, and bitterly he lived because of it.

Then, he pressed on, finally ready to talk through it, see if hearing it would help him puzzle it out. "Fuck, maybe.." he hissed through his teeth and shaking his head. Was that why he was here? Might make for a convenient explanation, but he was almost certain that.. "I didn't die, was the first problem--the bear, the star, the whole mountain..." he seethed vaguely. A quick glance confirmed still-mending scars on his shoulder, marked where he had struggled--proof to him that he had tried. "Then, I left and went to the coast," he furrowed his expression, recalling someone with him in some points, a shared sensation and wanting to see more, but in all the wretched loss and flight it inspired, a tiny glimmer of hope to carry. "I guess the last thing I remember is what I thought was dream. Some rush of a path heading up somewhere, then a storm. Lots of rain, lightning... Eventually someone I didn't know was there too," he explained, sticking on the sensation that it had been multiple someones there with him but unable to explain it properly. "Telling me to keep going, called me something weird." Here he lost some focus. "Hmm.. then there was the dark, and the moon. Of course." Like that made any real collective sense, so.. filed under dream.

"Suddenly I'm awake here, I don't even know if it's spring anymore, and.. You." He got up again, shook out his fur, trying not to wince. Another steadying breath and he focused on her, dead or not. "But maybe that's not all of it, since I would've liked to remember how I actually died if anything... and maybe it would explain why I'm so lost and...." feeling disgusting and like burying his head again. After that, Antares was more than ready to turn some inquiry back on Izumi. Her turn, and considering what she asked him, he would return it. "So what.. did you die? And you've been here a while? What about that faerie place...?" Was he even remembering that right?

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The way Antares had stopped to look at the crane with his cobalt stare made Izumi unsure if what she’d asked was even the right move. She was curious as to why he’d been here, but he might’ve been confused and startled by it all as she’d been at first too – and that's something that Izumi was starting to take into account. Her dark lips parted to say something, in case changing the subject would be the better choice, but paused with alert ears when he’d begin to speak again.

Antares spoke, and it was like he was trying to forcibly jam pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that didn’t quite fit – it confused her as much as it confused him judging by his expression. Regardless, she lent an ear to listen anyway and tried her hardest to interpret what the midnight clad was trying to relay  – he’d helped her once, and she wasn’t going anywhere until she did the same for him. Even if the explanation was a bit difficult to grasp.

The first words she’d try to pick out “What about a mountain….you mean Moonspear?” --was his mention of a mountain. To her memory, the only mountain she could possibly tie in relation was his own home he once introduced as Moonspear. She didn’t know much about it other than it being claimed by a family that went by Ostrega, but the connection to anything related to a bear and a star was quite foreign to her. Had something happened between the time they’ve been separated?

His next set of words were more decipherable -- fleeing to the coast and all, but then the mentions of storms, rains, lightning, someone talking to him. It could’ve been assumed that it meant he died on some beach during a storm, she couldn’t even be so sure in the current state he was in -- Antares looked, in the psychological sense, sick from trying to talk. Noticing this, she’d slowly circle and slink her lithe frame towards his side and figured it would’ve been more comfortable to talk if the distance wasn’t that far between them….did that even make sense? Well, it did in Izumi’s head at least.

Now it was her who was put on the spot with a question -- the same she had asked -- and with a deep breath, the princess replied without hesitation. “I’m sure of it, there's no way I didn’t, I mean…” Pausing to memorize exactly what had happened, she’d continue with a slight pinch in her brows “The pain I’d felt in my body the day I fell from the cliff was too numbing, too….vivid to not be real…then I appeared here. The same place I’ve found you now.”

His version of what he’d perceived as the Faerie Court was brought up, causing Izu’s lavender gaze to trail down and her voice to soften. “I….The faerie court is gone. Has been for a while before…all of this…they disbanded, so I decided to start anew in a pack they called Kaisteloki and…..that's where I died…"

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"Common" | "日本人"
Moonspear. Antares wasn't fast enough to rein in the wince when he heard it spoken, though he covered it with a nod. With his mind's eye, he could still trace its verdant pathways, all the ones he had known since being a dust-mite of a pup still. He remembered them with a strange yearning, certain they were thousands of miles away now. "Yeah. A star fell, hit.. Moonspear." he paused to clear his throat, though there was more to it, like he hadn't said it in eons. "I wasn't there when it did," his skin burned with old guilt. "But most of my family was.. Very few made it away, and regrouped. Everything was a wreck. I couldn't lead Firefly Glen alone anymore after.. that." He finished, feeling like it was only half the story or just some key highlights. After he couldn't carry the weight of it all alone, after Keyni had better opportunity elsewhere, and Bronco left him behind so suddenly without any real explanation. With Vallkyrie, he had decided to stake out away from the looming wounded spire... and ultimately, to what end? He wasn't feeling much closure, now that he thought about it--which he didn't take long to do, distracted by following her motion to find his side, and breathing deep the strange scents she was wearing, closer now.

In her answer, he envied her certainty right away, blinking slowly as he listened on. Izumi had a place and a cause, even the pain. A fall from a cliff would do it. After a thoughtful pause, he murmured a soft "Hmm," to signal he was making as much sense of this as he was able. The faeries were no more, Kaistleoki was a distant memory too--where he had once gone to look for Ravaryn's parents, and now where Izumi died, notably, which was a new, oddly-formed thought in looking back in what life had once known. He.. was quiet again, his ears pinning back, and he eventually took a long slow breath in, presumably sorting this out. "I wonder why here.." He could ponder it all he wanted, but knew neither of them could answer. He wondered why Izumi, why here.. why.. "Well, whatever it is, it is." He needed to hear it. "Where do you live now then?" he asked her, leaning to make the sniff to punctuate that much, knowing she smelled of others that he could not name. The irony of asking where she lived now after that sort of trade of information was not lost on him, either.

The first grains of acceptance were threatening to move, if he really squinted, and he wanted to understand how she just got up and moved along after remembering her end. Maybe he was dead, too. Maybe this was what he had wanted in some of his dark nights alone. "I don't know where anything is and have nowhere really to go right now," he went on quietly, feeling the weird stinging ache again. Homesick, maybe, he slowly drug his watch off her, then back to the snowy trees. He would have to get used to it, then.

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A ‘wince’ wasn’t exactly what she’d caught from looking at him, but the change in the dark wraith’s expression when his head shook didn’t go unnoticed - it was slightly worrying, to be honest. His descriptions of past events, although vague was clearly hinting towards something going terribly wrong -- and when he finally did explain, she…"Antares, I….” She didn’t know how to react right away. He lost his home and most of his family to a star of all things -- an event that sounded so bizarre it almost felt like the heavens were playing some kind of sick joke. This was not her pain to feel at all, it really wasn’t, but considering that her own family had been wiped out by an onslaught of teeth and claws, Izumi couldn’t think of herself in a situation where she'd wish the damnation that was loneliness onto anyone. Especially not someone who was part of the reason she'd been able to heal with time...

“Your home, your family ...I’m sorry…” Izumi’s voice was soft and careful when addressing him, not wishing to coddle but not wishing to make light of the situation either. Her muzzle then moved to press a leather nose against his shoulder, if he’d allow such a touch, and pulled away after the briefest moment. She wasn't very skilled with words or sentimental gestures as others were, and she wasn't even sure if her effort to comfort Antares would actually work. The best Izumi could do in this situation was be there for him, find ways to pass time, and aid if needed -- and that's what she did. 

The subject was changed onto something else rather quickly. Izumi still wanted to press on about any details she was missing, and what exactly he'd meant by "leading Firefly Glen alone", but the crane did not wish to pry too much. 'Another time,' she figured. “I have found a traveling woman during my stead, she is named Reiko Izuka.” As requested, the young crane would explain what she'd been doing at this point. A long, complicated journey to sum up in a few sentences, and for now she'd be leaving out her run in with an old packmate. “She woke up in these lands as I have, but in search of young children. I aided her in finding them along with a group, but we've only been able to locate her daughter thus far...for now, we settle here in the Tundras, near a mountain region we call Tsukiishi. Reiko plans to build a home for us and her children there." A home she had decided to call her own as well...

"I don't know where anything is and have nowhere really to go right now,"

Her attention trailed from the ground and back at the midnight clad. Though she didn't express it, It was rather nice to know that he was here after a while from not seeing each other. A departure right now would be too sudden for her taste....what if...

"Would….you like to come with me, Antares?" She asked, letting a tounge run over her chops as her lilac gaze sought for an answer.

"You do not have to stay permanently if you don't wish, but.....it can act as a temporary stead until you are ready to explore again. I just thought it would be nice to know you’d be there....what do you say?" plus, Izu was content to speak to the Ostrega again after all this time. If she could extend her stay with him and catch up, she was adamant on taking the chance to ask. Was that.... selfish of her?

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"Common" | "日本人"
Retelling the fate of his homelands this time, it was finally feeling further away than ever before. Not that any of it came any easier, exactly. Antares supposed it was thanks to actual, real distance, or perhaps another piece that leaned towards the theory of his own end somewhere since; maybe he didn't need to feel it so viciously anymore, though it still ached him down to his marrow. Maybe he should finally get to relish in some span of space between him and everything that had once been. But, he still wanted to remember. Just not like that. Now that his piece was said, though, and he tried to stay present even if his head wanted to turn right to static... Izumi seemed to handle it, and him, carefully. Notably she didn't press the matter despite her sympathies, or structure any more of a response out of him.. which was quite fine. She was close, instead, and he was comfortably accepting. No less stilted at receiving comforts, he was not one to judge, and he wondered if she simply understood just as much as she needed to.

In her answer, she brought his focus back around, well off his own histories thankfully before he could voice proper thanks for her sentiment.. one beyond a grateful, slow nod. He suddenly found a lot more to take in, though for the sake of the moment, he tried to simplify the thought--pick out the key points, the noteworthy name, though it felt pocked with almost-familiar oddities too. Antares blinked when it led to a mountain range, where startlingly, some deeper understanding registered past what he heard.

But, even blindsided by as foreign as this all seemed to seemed.. he was first surprised by an offer of that caliber, then realized he was considering what it with no adverse effect. His options were so few, littered with too many ifs. He didn't know where to begin to look to find Moonglow, or Moonspear.. or even the shoreline cove he had holed up in--not that finding any of them were meant to do him any good, but it was where he had left the last of his.. everything, he supposed. Yet this upturned already, and in the chance at.. something, he might be foolish not to at least think about it. She framed it well, already speaking to the part that feared commitment, keywording with temporary if he needed even. Truthfully, his ears were up, and a small tilt to his head to help him peer at her while the cogs turned. Did she realized how generous it sounded? I just thought it would be nice to know you’d be there, she had said. Would it? He drew a slow breath, feeling a bit more tangible, and yeah, it probably would be nice.

"I.. yeah," he replied after a long pause. "For now, at least, if that's okay." Antares felt it necessary to add, not driven to flight mode but curious instead. He might still be scared to be pinned down, and have himself invite bad luck, or worse; but the thought of having something to do somehow eased him. Maybe he could help this Reiko look for her family, or hunt on the mountains. Antares didn't think he had anyone to find, though his conscious hoped he told Vallkyrie where he was going when he did; she didn't deserve to be left behind without a word again, not that he would've intended it like that. Maybe the Archer knew.. but he swiftly filed that to stew on better later. "I am pretty sure I can still function as.. whatever, but I think I need to.. figure out--" he just gestured his muzzle in a vague circle there. "--some things too." Crystal clear, right? "I would also like to see the mountains up closer,." he added, quieter then, though maybe sounding more sure of himself finally. And meet Reiko, her family, whatever else...

One thing at a time, and right now, Izumi was the best lead he had.

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Her touch was not pushed away nor denied as a part of her nervously expected it to be, but more or less acknowledged by the dark wraith. Izumi lacked the understanding of its use in the past, having been more closed off, but being around the likes of Reiko taught her that the physical warmth of someone else had the power to ease in times of stress. Something the crane hoped would help the starward boy right now, and she was glad it did. At least it...seemed like it? It was hard to tell up close -- Antares was as difficult to read as Izu was at times, if not more so…

The princess also pondered on whether her explanation would fall on the deaf ears of someone who was too busy grieving, wondering if it was better to not have said anything at all when searching his expression. Yet it was the perked ears and canted head in her direction that confirmed his interest -- the interest he had in following the crane back to their stead. The pale plume of her tassel twitched as if to simulate the suppressed urge to wag her tail -- she couldn't help the wave of happiness that blossomed in her chest, but hid it well, nonetheless, as she did all the time. Like a sheet that was never to be lifted from the surprise item it covered. 

“Yes, yes of course. I wouldn’t wish to hold you longer than what you're comfortable with.” the crane agreed with a slow, understanding nod. There was much to be explored in the mind of someone who'd just recently risen -- Izumi couldn't doubt that. The last thing she'd be wanting to do in that situation was prevent Antares from exploring ad searching to his heart's content as she had in the beginning. Still, Izu was glad that she'd be able to see him more often than today -- depending on how long the dark wraith chose to stay, that is.

The willowy crane straightened out her ink-stained limbs, one at a time, as her soft lilac gaze flitted over the large expanse of trees and snow -- and then, she was off. Slinking her lithe frame past Antares' own to walk some distance ahead of him, and glancing over her shoulder to see that he tagged along.

"Come with me, I'll show you the way. It's a bit of an achy walk...if you can tolerate walking through some deep snow..."

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He was not going to take the time to find any doubt in himself. It was an opportunity, and one he felt in his marrow that was best to take now. He could add up the rest later, there, and he too nodded when she reaffirmed that he would not be captured there. How she knew he would need these flavors of assurances, he didn't have the fortitude to wonder right now. Instead he was thankful. Maybe he wore it more plainly than he thought.

His tail swayed softly, a gentle motion against his hocks. Maybe with an odd sense of relief mostly. Maybe finally something could make true sense again soon. "Lead the way," he accepted with an earnest dip of his muzzle, watching her head on before he got going too. Snow or not, he would make do--and at least he had a destination now, and he didn't have to get there by himself. It was a strange feeling in his limbs, up to his chest.. but he decided to chalk it up to nerves, among other things. Be anyone.. a distant voice that was not his own reminded him. He should grasp a new start wholeheartedly; didn't mean it was easy yet, though.

Not wanting to be left behind, he swept into motion with the next breath, jogging after Izumi's lead to whatever awaits.

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