Mountains

Compendium Entry North: Himalayan
Central: Appalachian
South: Rockies

A mysterious set of mountain ranges sprawls across the the terrain, curiously flowing from one extreme to the next. In the south, temperate zones are split with canyons and cliffs. The central terrain is comprised of low mountains that appear blue in the distance. Toward the north are intense peaks taller than any have ever gone before. Many of the mountains and ranges are dotted with old bridges and mysterious ancient structures.

Better days ahead


Evening
#1
Elysium
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The day had come. The sisters had ended their feud, the pack was thriving, an unexpected marriage had taken place, and they had made their first true allies in this strange new world - what better cause for celebration?

As the sun sank beneath the mountains that cradled the wolves' home within their embrace, the sky became streaked with plumes of fiery reds and deep lavenders, casting an ethereal light over the lake. Near its edge stood a large clearing, and Valeska wavered anxiously in the middle of it. She couldn't remember the last time she'd hosted anything this big before, but she and the others had spent the majority of the day laboriously hunting and herb-picking to create a spread worthy of their imminent guests - deer carcasses mingled with fine-haired rabbits, wreathed in rosemary and mint, along with the odd bird or two for exotic flavor (likely contributed by Nemean, who was one of the few wolves able to catch the little things).

It bore mentioning that, true to form, they had also laid a small selection of questionable mind-altering mushies and roots on a flat rock off to the side, for those seeking a little... lift.

They were holy edibles. It made sense. Stuff made you closer to the gods, why shouldn't it be at a feast?

Taking a note from her sibling, Valeska had taken a slight deviation from her other tasks and very quietly, and with great care, acquired dahlias, peonies and hydrangeas, arranging them as colorfully and creatively as she could given her innate lack of talent for such things. Still, it was important to her, and upon the largest white-tailed deer they had managed to fell, she placed the most extravagant bouquet arrangement.

A wedding bouquet.

She hoped Harper would like it.

Satisfied with her work - everyone's work, at that - she lifted her head and gave the call to gather the wolves of Elysium and whoever from the ranks of Event Horizon had chosen to make the journey.

This was to be a feast celebrating not just their newfound alliance, but the marriage of her sister to their Alpha. It had happened quite suddenly - she hadn't even known about it until the deed had already been done - but to say it pleased her to see Harper so happy was an understatement, and although the dark-furred woman had never expressed a desire for a wedding, Valeska was a stickler for tradition and insisted.

“Welcome, Eventful Horizon!” she exclaimed upon seeing the first of several distant figures approaching. “Welcome, Crux, husband of Harper - congratulations to you both! May you and your kin feast to contentment, and rejoice in wedding and ally-making!”

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#2
Event Horizon
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 The starlit Prince had been waiting for this day for a long time, what felt like forever. From when he first met with Valeska and they agreed to be allies, he had been excited to return. When the day finally came to leave, he had gathered up his fellows with barely contained excitement, eager to bring them to meet another pack. He was aware that a number of his own had never met wolves here outside of their pack, so he was curious to see how they got along with their new allies.

 Well, new as of a few months.

 He had gathered them up and given careful instruction, both to those coming and those remaining to protect the land. Ichorwood would be vulnerable in their absence but thankfully several strong wolves had decided to stay back to keep up the picture of the pack, making it seem like they were all still around. While it would have fewer bodies protecting it, he wasn't all too eager for other packs to know they were absent.

 So, upon leaving the grounds, they had gone in stealth under cover of darkness. One wolf after another (with deer alongside), he had asked them to try to keep paw steps in place to make sure any wolf scouting out their borders wouldn't see a wild mass of pawprints but instead a sleek line of them. It was something he'd heard of wolves doing in the snowy north, walking in line so they would loose less energy from pushing snow out of their ways.

 Eventually, they had made it to the land, stopping before reaching the border to hunt. He could not come to a gathering as a guest and not bring presents, of course! So many of his pack had some sort of prey carried along with them, from pheasants (they had crossed a flock resting in the foothills) to a lone badger he'd managed to sneak up behind while his fellows distracted. There was also the leg of a deer, leftovers from one of their meals incoming.

 Finally, the call came.

 He stood, giving a huff of command to his pack, and moved in. He spotted Valeska up ahead and barked a greeting to her around his own prey - a pheasant. She was quick to announce their presence, though the mistake of their name was caught - he laughed gently at it. He surveyed the meal laid out before them, tail wagging, before lowering his head to place the pheasant at his paws. “Event Horizon and I are thankful to Elysium for the invitation, High Priestess Valeska!” He grinned, then tilted his head. “Where might we leave our offerings to not disturb your wonderful display?” He indicated with a tilt of his nose towards the beautiful bouquets and other such delicate placements of the meal.

 Perhaps they had gone overkill with the, well, kill - but it was a feast! They couldn't come empty mouthed, though he had been clear to them all that they should let their bellies lie empty in the hours before the call. He looked around, hoping Harper was near so he could greet her once more. There was something... different about the smells here, he realized with a blink. Not Valeska's, but there were others, familiar and unfamiliar.

 And one that he could not believe to be familiar.

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#3
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Blackbeard was, to say, not surprised when Crux came back with news of an alliance. The man is too talkative and friendly for his own good - Blackbeard's more... cautious side tells him he should keep an eye on these allies of theirs, and that reason alone is why he's here at the feast. He knows it's mostly his experiences with his previous pack - all too attached to its own information to form any alliances. To be fair the whole lot of 'em were like that too. He suppresses a shudder at the memories of all of them finding creative ways to keep their information a secret, or to get rid of those that get the information in the first place. It's mostly why Blackbeard refrains from telling Crux any more than he already has. It's unlikely any of them will find their way out here, not after they got what they wanted out of him already, but Blackbeard cannot be too cautious of his leader's life. The man does not deserve the struggle that will come if anyone does find him.

The way they stalk through the mountains is not lost on him - like they did back home, though there's no snow here. Blackbeard wonders if Crux knows what he's doing, but he must, having chose this way of movement. He keeps his mouth firmly clamped down on the bird in his mouth despite the growing worry for the wolves back home - and in turn the territory itself. The wolves back home should be able to deal with any lingering threats just fine, but still - what if someone caught wind most of them will be gone? It's dangerous, but Blackbeard can't turn back now. Even if he did vow to protect them all, he has to be here to protect the ones not at home. Not that the alliance will fall from a simple gathering, it won't, but it's new and Blackbeard is struggling to wrap his head around it all.

He stays silent as the two leads speak, and glances around at the spread. It looks nice, nothing smells particularly dangerous but there is some suspicious looking plants sat out on a rock. He doesn't think those will kill anyone - it doesn't look like anything his previous home used to hurt. Best to be safe, and avoid them, he thinks. If any of the others touch the plants its up to them, but he needs his head intact to inspect all of the wolves that are coming. Valeska is not at all intimidating or particularly dangerous looking. Blackbeard knows to not underestimate someone, so he stops thinking that thought nearly right away. Small wolves can do the same amount of damage as the large ones, especially if they're small enough the big ones can't reach properly.

The news of the marriage is not new, so Blackbeard ignores that one. He's already given his congratulations to Crux for it, and the woman isn't here yet so... There's no need for him to speak up just yet.

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#4
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Nemean had done his best to help prepare for the feast, indeed supplying a couple of birds he'd managed to pluck from the sky; it felt good, to be, well, good at something -- to pull his weight and help those around him. The blue brute was opening up to the idea that it might not be so terrible here. Valeska's kindness had not been for show and he certainly felt comfortable around the territory. 

The wolves in it were a different matter, yes, but bit by bit he hoped to find his place here. He was already learning ranks and though he hadn't delved into the religion part of everything yet, it had caught his attention rather firmly and he planned on asking Valeska more about it another day. When there weren't at least two heat scents making him a bit scatterbrained, when there wasn't nearly a whole pack right here mingling with them, when he wasn't so....

New?

Maybe he was still waiting for the bad that always accompanied his good. 

The Nemean lion came when the High Priestess called, heart thrumming wildly in his ears as her small, pale form came into view -- and she wasn't alone. 

He gave a few friendly waves of his tail, though it was high and just a little stiff, and his ears were on swivel as if someone might've been trying to sneak up on him. It'd been a long, long time since he'd been around a number of wolves this many, and though he hoped to be a good packmate and ally, he wasn't really sure where to start. So he lingered on the edge of the area, tongue flicking once around his lips as his dual gaze of sunshine and sparkling summer skies roamed. 

Who was he supposed to approach first? Did he say hi to the leaders and show respect, or avoid all contact to.... well, show respect? Something told him Valeska wasn't such an overbearing leader nor would she form an alliance with someone like that, but, well, one could never be too sure. 

He dipped his head to Valeska and Crux, but decided being silent until spoken to was best, for now. 

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#5
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A feast. 

Th concept, Glacier understood, but he'd never been to one. He just assumed the pack would dig up their cache and they'd all hang out and eat, which was a somewhat odd concept but he wasn't the sort to judge other cultures too harshly. At least, he preferred to 'not knock it 'till he tried it'. 

Walking single-file reminded him of his childhood, plodding through snowbanks taller than he was behind Taiga and Snow, with Polar bringing up the rear of the group.

But the destination was nothing like the memories of home he carried with him. A feast, indeed. Food piled high, wreathed in herbs and a bouquet of flowers crowning a doe carcass...Top it all off with the lovely wolf whose pale coat stood out against the natural colors of the feast, welcoming them. 

Damn. Maybe eking out a living in the frigid, harsh north wasn't the right way to go about things after all. "This is...a most artful display." Glacier offered with a flash of a smile to the woman, glancing over at a blue wolf arrived. Not of his pack, but of the allies'. 

Allies. Odd concepts being tossed around at every turn, it seemed.
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#6
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Even on her most social of days, Annika could not imagine anything quite as terrible as a mass gathering of strangers. She had heard through the grapevine it was something to do with Harper marrying one of the men from Event Horizon, but truth be told Annika wasn't entirely interested in partaking regardless. It didn't take a detective to recognize she was withdrawing from the small family, regardless of how warmly she felt towards all of them. It had been a rough few weeks and showed no signs of looking up, but at the very least she felt somewhat more confident in her physical appearance now that she was slimming down. It wasn't enough and never would be enough to end up petite, something Annika struggled to cope with on the daily. She could not change her body type no matter how hard she tried, and so she settled with simply growing lean. It would suffice for now.

The dark woman arrived wordlessly, her eyes immediately drifting to @Nemean. He was.. staying, she supposed, and found herself wishing they had not crossed paths beforehand. She wasn't terribly interested in sharing living quarters with a one night stand, nor did she appreciate how friendly he seemed to be with Valeska. Annika made a point to sit as far from him as possible, settling onto her haunches towards the back so as to be present but not involved. She was there for Valeska and nothing else; especially not the food.

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#7
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 The day had finally arrived! The feast! Mordecai was so excited he could barely contain himself. He was among one of those that carried a gift for their allies. In his large jaws were clasped two beavers. It took everything in his power to not eat them both. He had to be good. He could do this, this exercise in self-control. He walked along behind the others, single-file, just as Crux dictated. Don't think about eating the prey in his mouth. The lovely delicious prey. Oh jeez, it could not come soon enough when they would arrive...

 But at last they did.

 And it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen in his life. The spread of beautiful food was only enhanced by the picturesque view and enthralling display. He could have sworn he had died and gone to heaven. He felt like fainting right there. He could really just fall over and collapse right now. He had to be dreaming but no, they were really here.

 He sniffled, nearly brought to tears by the wonderful sight. "This must be what heaven is like..." He said with a smile. All of his gaze and attention was flat-out on the display, hardly anything could pull him out of his reverie right now...


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#8
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 He was glad that Papa Crux had brought him out to train his legs before the trip. He felt like he was ready for the long journey... but it was still difficult. The young fawn kept up with his pack-mates though through sheer stubborn determination if nothing else. He walked along, tail high, and young golden tines raised high above his head. His spirits wouldn't be dampened by a little bit of soreness, nope! He was ready to mee their allies and see his Mama again.

 He was not disappointed at all. It was amaaazziiinng and there were so many wolves. Still, he kept himself near his Papa Crux as he looked around at everything. He could see the many dead deer lying about but it didn't really faze him, he was used to his packmates eating deer. He considered himself more like the wolves than them.

 His gaze lingered only for a moment on the fallen fellows before drifting around to the flowers --how kind of them to offer additional food for himself-- and he heard their host speak in a similar accent to Mama Harper. He smiled and, wanting to show off what he knew, if however brief, said, "Привет!" And then fell silent as he waited to see what would happen next.

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#9
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While the crowds gathered, the golden maiden and her ward remained settled in the caverns behind the waterfall. There was much to do to prepare the bride for her celebratory day, of course, and who better than Amaranth to be the modiste for the occasion. The dim light of the day quickly sighed away into the warm colors of the sunset that now peeked through the mouth of the roaring cavern. The light danced off the droplets of water, shedding elaborate patterns onto the rocky corners of her den. And Amaranth's deep lavender eyes did not even look at it — for she was so busy staring at Harper. Evaluating her. Evaluating the slope of her broad jaw, the way the colors of her pelt meshed against her skin. The pop of purple lenses that would peek from her dark facade.

Yes. She would dress her perfectly.

She finally peeled her eyes off of Harper, turning her attention toward the edges of the cavernous den. "Tell me about him. About Crux," she cooed as she meddled around the den, her golden paws moving around endless piles of items that she'd stockpiled to find what she was looking for. She'd gathered some special white, red, and pink flowers for the occasion and had brought them far from the plains back to the den to create an intricate crown. A crown suitable for a Princess, a bride — or at least as suitable as Amaranth could imagine in her mind. She'd taken the time to dry the delicate petals in the heat of the summer sun and wrap them together with a delicate vine she'd found in the woods.

She carefully carried a few items to Harper, the vine and flowers, as well as a few white feathers. Her eyes lifted again toward Harper as she took a gentle paw to brush some dust from her sister's face and settle some stray furs. "Does he ... make you feel?" As she made small talk, she began to build a wreath upon Harper's head, carefully using her teeth to tuck the greenery and flowers into the vine crown. The ombre of white to red suited her, suited her celebration. Amaranth would have chosen purple and black, but of course, it was not her wedding (and she almost felt flush at the thought of that). As a final touch, the golden woman tucked some white feathers by Harper's ears before leaning back to eye her work.

"Perfect," she chimed, her dark lips smiling softly. "Come, they'll be waiting for you."

Amaranth stood up, flicking her golden plume behind her as she walked toward the mouth of the cavern. Narrow muzzle turned to look back over her shoulder, an eerie stillness overtaking the air as nighttime settled around them. Amaranth would then lead Harper out of the cave and around the edge of the small cliff that overhung the lake. In the distance, down below, she could see many wolves (and was that ... was that a deer?) gathering around Valeska's central form. Scents hit her — familiar scents of Elysium wolves, unfamiliar scents of Event Horizon, and the scent of blood. The feast.

In front of them was a large, winding path that snaked down the small slope of the mountain that hovered in the moonlight above them. The path was lit with the fire of the sunlight, and twinkling with the cool glow of the rising moon ... the perfect aisle for Amaranth to walk the bride down. Amaranth peeked over at Harper one final time with glittering eyes before leading her down the granite aisle and toward the gathered wolves below.

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#10
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Harper would have been lying if she’d said that she had never wanted to excel in life; to find someone to hold dear and to just… grow old with them as the world passed them by.

And for the longest time, Harper had not lived; she had existed in a world that had not wanted nor had not been accepting of her. She had long abandoned her dreams in a blind pursuit to follow another, and now, Harper felt as though she had grown wings and could reach her formerly abandoned hopes and dreams.

Had it not been for her golden sister’s idle chit-chat while she was dolling Harper up, Harper might have completely withdrawn into her shell in the sheer shock that this was actually happening.

Tell me about him. About Crux. Does he make you feel? Feel. Why, it was as if Amaranth had known that emotion was a complicated thing for Harper. “Crux… ” Harper began slowly, gathering her thoughts as she allowed Amaranth to add this and that to her otherwise dark coat. She had selected a lovely array of colors; the white feathers were her absolute favorite, for some reason, though.

“He is like dis breathed of freesh air; I was unseen, in-vesssible -- I felt not spesssial. Crux, make me feel dings. He awaken dings in me I had long ago forgot. ” But too bad that he was so far away. Though tonight, of all nights, he was here; waiting for her, like the rest of them.

Amaranth had moved to lead her out, though as Amaranth turned, Harper whined urgently. “Wait, Seesy.” And should she turn, Harper would give her the gentlest of nuzzles as to not disturb all the way Amaranth had just done and a kiss on the nose.“Dank yous, for dis.”

And then they would go, and Harper had to pause a moment to catch her breath as a wave of scents hit her. Blood from the feast; the collection of scents from Elysium, and from Event Horizon. Amaranth had made for the perfect stylist as well as the perfect canine to walk her down the granite aisle, as she seemed to glow in the sunlight.

Her eyes were everywhere. Or, they tried to be; pausing every now and then to check out the floral decorations that her sister had carefully and thoughtfully laid out for her, as well as the grand feast, where all the food was gathered.

And Harper, who was truly never one for words to begin with, simply gasped at the array of decorations. In absolute truth, Harper could not recall a time in which she’d felt so.. .. loved.

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#11
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Harper was married. That was something Kye was still trying to grasp, not because Harper didn't deserve such a thing — she wants nothing more than a happy life with a cute husband or wife (or multiple) for her friend — but because she did not expect the powerful woman to find an acceptable suitor so quickly. 

An incredible feat of fortune, if she does say so herself!

Not only that, but this husband of hers leads a pack, and Valeska has worked her priestess magic to ensure an alliance is forged alongside matrimony. At least, that's how the young acolyte imagines it's gone down. Not to be left out of the festivities, she never strays far from the site of the feast, helping organize prey and haul things to and from as their silvery leader fusses over the centerpiece. 

The mushroom collection does not escape her notice.

Oh, hell yeah. This was a party party. 

Kye is surveying the spread in its entirety when Valeska sends a cheerful greeting to someone she has her back to. Brown ears prick as she twists around, yellow eyes settling on the gaggle of strangers cresting the hill. A tall figure leads them, and as he nears she can make out a white and black pelt. Realization falls across her features when their own leader greets him; Welcome, Crux, husband of Harper! So, this is the lucky guy. Leathery lips lift in a grin and she finds herself glancing around Elysium's immediate vicinity. Annika and another male she's seen in passing are here, and she makes a note that Harper's other sister seems to be hanging around on the outskirts. Harper's not here yet though, and neither is Amara. Hm.

Crux has an interesting group with him; an older wolf with dark striped fur, a small male with orange and white splotches, a huge hulking fellow making goo-goo eyes at the food, and something that made Kye do a double-take. "That one seems a little too fresh," She's made her way to Valeska's side at some point, doing her best to talk out of the side of her mouth and keep her voice down for the ears of the priestess only because she simply can't not point out the literal deer ambling at Crux's side.

But she straightens her posture just as quickly, attention on the new arrivals. "We can make a nice pile behind the decorations I think," She gestures with a paw and stands to better guide them on where to deposit their contributions... yet to look up and see the fancifully decorated bride on her way down the aisle.

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#12
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Annika's reclusive nature continued to worry her, but she thought it far worse to suddenly thrust her out into the open with everyone else. It wouldn't have been kind, as much as the little wolf longed for her to participate - instead, right before the festivities started, she took a moment to whisk by her side and give the dark woman a gentle nuzzle, tucking a small blue flower she had collected along the way behind her ear. “You are too lovely to hide, but I know it is hard - is in your eyes,” she whispered gently, but with no intent to force her otherwise. Valeska refused to let any wolf feel left out or undeserving, and Annika, especially, was important to her.

She had made her a promise - one that she intended to keep.

“If wish to sit closer, will leave seat near me for you. Okay?”

She caught the way she looked at Nemean, but thought it prudent not to say anything about it for the time being. Something had soured between them - what, she couldn't begin to guess - but Annika was a woman full of mysteries and pain, and all she could do was nurture whatever came to light in her presence.

Nemean seemed well enough for the moment, and even dared a welcoming wag of his tail at the growing hum that sang electric through the air around the group. Valeska acknowledged the uncertainty in his expression with a reassuring smile and bid the man make himself comfortable. Whatever had happened, he still deserved to be here unless some dastardly plot managed to unfold itself; not to mention he carried himself well, considering his former isolation. His bird-hunting was also unparalleled, and still something she thought was quite the achievement amongst the spread.

With no small amount of pride did she take in the event's gathering, noting the excellent decorum with which Crux conducted himself as he approached. She had never found reason to fault his manners before, and while she was a little more relaxed than most in her station, this was a special occasion and was gratified to find their guests equally well-behaved. Tomfoolery was expected at some point, but until the ceremony had concluded, the silver wolf hoped to maintain some sort of order.

She cast a wary eye upon Buckeye.

'Not yet. Not yet. Please, restrain the roiling mischief the gods cursed you with.'

Crux was polite enough to ask where to place his gifts, and Valeska motioned cheerfully and vaguely toward the spread. “Oh! Anywhere here! You will only add to greatness, do not worry for decoration here. It will be much messy soon enough,” she replied, and shot him a pleased grin. “It is so good to have you! And so many of Eventful Horizon, too.”

She turned her attention to the entourage that trailed dutifully behind him, and made quick mental notes of each one in passing as they arranged themselves on the Groom's side of the spread.

Blackbeard followed first, a tall, somber, monolith of a man who occupied himself by eyeing up every Elysium wolf as if they were about to engage in sudden warfare, making sure to give Valeska a particularly scrutinizing look as if she were the deadliest of them all - but she hardly registered that part. She thought perhaps he simply had trouble seeing in the dark, and made extra care to smile back at his squinting, not even realizing it could have been taken as an unspoken threat of impending brutality.

Glacier came next, a wolf who surprised her with his relatively diminuitive stature, and one whose dense coat looked more suited to the cold winters of the mountains than somewhere as temperate as how Harper had described the pack's current home. He seemed a little quiet, but offered a polite greeting and compliment toward the array of carcasses which Valeska absorbed like the proud sponge that she was. It had taken a while to put everything together - a true group effort - but the results had been worth it, and she dipped her head respectfully back in reply to his kindness.

Mordecai stumbled into view rather suddenly, obscuring her vision as he lumbered excitedly past her to gawk. Now here was a true gentleman of the arts. He must also enjoy gardening the way Harper did, especially in the way he stared with such awe at her artfully-arranged florals that littered the -

A gentle splat, and she realized he had drooled a little.

Ah. Maybe not a purveyor of the arts, per se - but more toward the culinary arts.

Valeska smiled awkwardly and gave him a little extra room, hoping he didn't dribble on anything before the mated pair could have their first ceremonial bites of the main kill.

Then - what?

They had brought live prey?

Hawking strode confidently and brazenly through the small crowd, head held aloft and hooves gently tapping the earth as though he knew himself to be the most delicious morsel out of the whole feast, presenting himself as the crown achievement at their table littered with death and decay. How in the Five had they managed this? To convince food itself to follow the pack, not in chains, but with pride and dignity toward his own inevitable demise? To have taken his place so valiantly in the circle of life, as a pup at the great Houtu's breast?

And then he sat down next to Crux. At his side. Like an equal.

And spoke Russian.

To her.

Valeska might have had a stroke if everyone hadn't been watching, but she quickly gathered herself and swallowed audibly, golden eyes as wide and full of wonder as the full moon. His accent was nearly spot-on, and there were only two wolves she knew of who could have taught him their language - and only one of them had ever ventured to the Ichorwood from which they hailed. What in the gods' names had Harper been up to these last few weeks?

“Привет... друг!” she said to the deer, trying to instill as much warmth and good nature in her tone as she could muster without sounding incredulous.

'That one seems a little too fresh,' came Buckeye's raspy voice from the outskirts of reality, and Valeska nearly swallowed her tongue in horror as she snaked out a paw to swat at the errant she-wolf lest she try and venture a nibble. “Kye! I do not think is for eating! Shhhhhh!” While the brown woman's liveliness was a welcome breath of fresh air, she wasn't too keen on the idea of mortally offending Crux and his... walking... snack. “I think... is... anyway, you have whole feast ahead, close lips!!”

Her vision blurred beneath the weight of such stress and so many questions, but she would save them for later.

Airily, languidly, she turned back to face down the makeshift aisle, the scents of lavender mingled with smoky vanilla gently taking hold of her senses and guiding her muzzle in the direction from whence they came. Amaranth led the procession, silent and sensual, coiling her way down the sloping path with her usual serpentine grace, and Valeska felt something like a swarm of butterflies hit her right in the stomach. Her lover's fur shone like molten gold beneath the fading sun of the day, and a hushed silence befell the gathering as all turned to look.

The bride was about to make her entrance.

Then - like a dark, earthen goddess, brilliant and exotic and mysterious in her beauty, Harper descended. Twin amethyst eyes, like glittering jewels beset in a high crown befitting nobility, peeked coyly out from beneath a wreath of complimentary florals that scattered a trail of petals behind her with each graceful step. She was no quaint princess, full of light and air and frivolity; she was an ancient witch of the forest, wild and untamable as a great flame. Valeska felt rooted to the spot. She had always known her sister to be beautiful - something everyone she had met seemed to notice but herself - yet seeing her finally own it, love it, come into it, was a vision entirely of its own.

Harper was simply stunning.

“Моя сестра, о, мое сердце,” she breathed, unable to stop herself from speaking out of turn. She clammed up quickly enough and allowed the dark woman to finish her walk, finally stopping in place before Crux at the great table as the white feathers that adorned her ruffled gently in the faint breeze.

Valeska cleared her throat and rose.

“In the light of the gods, we are here to celebrate wedding of Crux, of Eventful Horizon, and Harper, of Elysium,” she enunciated carefully, trying to dampen the thickness of her accent. She approached the array of corpses before them with a solemn air, and leaned down to gently, but firmly pierce the throat of the pristine white deer that lay centered among the most rare collection of flowers. Blood spilled out in a neat trail, pooling beneath the slab upon which it rested like a still, crimson mirror. Valeska withdrew, maw dripping and stained with blood, and walked toward the couple.

“All-Mother Houtu, bless this union with your divine grace and eyes-unending-gaze, of she-who-watches-creation,” she said solemnly, drawing the first bloodied line following the curve of Crux's muzzle. A red streak remained, coming to a stop just above and between his eyes.

“Sylvanus, Rhys, Aether, Nivia - give them bounty, love, life, protection!” She then approached Harper with equal gravity and repeated the motion, leaving her with her own crimson streak - though it faded darker against her fur, and instead glittered not unlike a fairy's wing in the fading light.

“Let us celebrate marriage of my beautiful sister and her noble husband!"”

With that, she threw her head back and howled, the sound bouncing joyfully between the hills that surrounded them.

“Let us sing - and if bride so wishes, let wolf with mightiest song catch bouquet!”


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{ROLLING EVENT: Houtu's Howl!

Let each wolf who wishes to participate post below with a D20 roll from the server. Once each wolf has rolled, they will then make a post describing the resulting roll, and include its numerical value in the post itself; for general musical performance, D1-5 is failure; D6-14 is fair; D15-20 is excellent. If several wolves tie for the highest roll, they will then roll against each other, post the results, and the winner is announced.}


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#13
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 Of the few wolves - no, members - of his own who had kept up at the front, he was pleased to see that Glacier and Blackbeard were among them. While it was expected (and applauded!) that Mordecai and little young Hawking would be close, he had been grateful that his sole remaining Terran and only Pulsar were present. While the Pulsar had no specific duties currently, due to their peaceful nature and the fact that their one potential mark was hidden away, hopefully forever. The Terran, however, had already had saved at least one life - the life of a girl who must have simply fallen behind during the trip.

 Nevertheless.

 The prince surveyed the rest of the group, eyes alight with excitement and respect for those who had welcomed them in. Most were faces unfamiliar: A grey man who seemed nervous and stiff - Crux thought he quite looked like Blackbeard and he wondered if the two would get along. He offered the man a smile before looking on, seeing a woman - powerful and pretty both - with a scar upon her neck. He wondered if she was kin of his bride, and he offered her a smile. There was another, a brown girl who settled in near Valeska fairly early and seemed to be more focused on whispering and staring than chatting with the newcomers. This was fine, he understood not being sure how to interact with a bunch of strangers - so she, too, received a smile from the man.

 “Thank you! We are glad to be here, Mordecai especially was eager to come meet everyone -” he offered the man a wink, though looking at the drool he inwardly sighed. Picking up his gift, he neatly placed his it among the rest and returned to his seat, pressing his nose affectionately against Hawking's cheek before returning to peer about the place. He was glad that he had decided to go on long walks with his deer-son to ensure that he would be well prepared for the trek.

 The boy spoke the language of the people to the High Priestess and Crux grinned, looking between them. Elysium's queen seemed confused as anything to this though she responded in turn and he gave a little laugh, “This is Hawking - he awoke within my camp, as if he were a wolf, and I took him in as my own son.” While his voice nor his words gave explicit note of danger, there was a warning to any who might look upon the boy with hunger: He Is Not For Consumption. Not for internal use, either.

 Then, a hush fell.

 His eyes turned to the golden woman making her way down the path, but quickly his gaze shifted past her to the one he had truly come for: Harper.

 The Prince of the Stars' breath caught and he stood, also unable to hold back the soft, breathed Elskan that escaped his lips. His tail, behind him, was wagging though he had no control over it. She was beautiful. She was his, though in their loose way of open marriage and freedom that he had offered and she had accepted. Despite the fact that both might find other lovers, she was his first and he was her first and they were each other's.

 His breath trembled.

 When she came to be beside him, he leaned towards her, pressing his nose into her cheek and inhaling deeply. “You look even more incredible than ever, Harper Bacchus,” he breathed to her, for her ears only though it was more than possible for Hawking, at his other side, to lean in close and pick up on a bit. Pulling back from his kiss, he would listen to Valeska's tale though it took him a long moment to tear his gaze away from Harper and on to the proceedings, glancing back at her whenever he got the chance to.

 Crux watched closely as Valeska cut into a white deer, remaining still as the High Priestess, the officiant, brought a nose of blood to the new couple. Unaware of this custom but figuring she would mark them, he lowered his face and took the mark of blood, watching as the same was done to Harper. His heart swelled at the call to sing and he looked to Harper before lifting his own chin and howling.

 His voice was nothing special, cracked with emotion as it was, but it was all he could muster to not press his whole face into Harper's neck and risk ruining the still-wet blood paint. When his breath gave out and he quieted, gasping quietly for air, he pressed his nose into her cheek again, giving her gentle kisses while cautious to avoid the blood for fear of upsetting the ritual, whatever it might be.

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#14
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As Harper had slowly descended down the pathway, following her guide, she watched as the hush fell over each of them and in that moment, Harper could feel her heart grow at least three sizes larger.

She’d never been the type of canine that liked to be at the center of attention; in fact, she actively did things to insure that she didn’t put too much attention onto herself. Nor was it often that she actually felt loved, or beautiful, but at this moment? In this moment, there was no mistaking or denying that Harper very obviously felt both. And by god, she just wanted to weep at her sister’s feet for making this moment feel as magical as it looked.

As her sister’s and her husband’s gaze fell upon her, Harper’s heart felt as though it had skipped several beats, and Harper’s pace down the pathway towards them slowed half a second so that she could take each of them in, before finally coming to stand aside both her sister and her husband.

A strange sensation came over her as Crux gently pressed his nose into her cheek, whispering things only for her to hear. A heat rose - though not her heat, despite it being her last day of her cycle, but a different kind of heat - to her cheeks, and it felt like a tsunami of butterflies were unleashed from her stomach. Was this what it felt like to be important?

And then would come the ritual, which made Harper wonder if Dimas had ever been remarried. Where had these rituals come from, Harper had not known, but she would drink them up regardless. Though, as the blood was drawn on her husband, Harper could not help but to feel desire over him - and the desire to leave bloody marks over his glorious snowwhite coat. She, too, wanted to draw, and would make a mental note to somehow decorate his coat with bloody kisses and pawprints.

And then it came for her turn, and Harper wagged her tail nervously at her sister, dipping her head slightly once the deed was done to try to sneak a kiss upon Valeska’s nose in silent thanks. She would certainly have to thank her more publicly or privately - Harper couldn’t yet decide which - at a later time.

Then would come the singing of celebration. It was Harper’s turn to gasp, for even her husband and sister had joined. Harper, too, had joined; she had always loved to sing.. but in this instance, she would turn to drink up Crux's (and everyone else's) glorious singing voices as she did an excited series of twirls. Why yes, she was actually dancing. On her wedding day, while they sang in celebration to her marriage to the noble Crux of Event(ful) Horizon.

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#15
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There was....a lot...going on. 

Glacier had never done the 'pack' thing before, let alone dealing with <i>two packs</i>, nor had he ever been to a family reunion. 

Which was probably for the best, if one thought about it for even a second. Taiga didn't do well with competition, and only tolerated teaching her children her skills as it was tradition and they were her own flesh and blood. 

This many wolves in one place was definitely overwhelming, so Glacier fell quiet and focused on observing and behaving about as prim and politely as he could recall Taiga teaching him to be. 

Everyone seemed happy to see each other, though there was a moment of awkwardness as the other pack seemed a little too interested in the fawn that followed Crux around. Glacier couldn't blame them. He still didn't understand the concept. Where he came from, food was food, not friends, never mind how chatty they were. Food wasn't so easy to come by that they could afford not eating it, he supposed. 

In a morbid way, a way even Glacier was a little surprised by, he wondered what would happen to the fawn should a famine hit the pack. 

But this was a celebration of life and love, and he didn't think Crux would take too well if he brought it up, so Glacier just set that musing aside and focused on the wedding before him. 

Lavish, was the best word for it all, but it was endearing and enjoyable despite the stress of the new situation, the new pack, and the overflowing food. 

The mostly-white woman painted the bride and groom in the deer's blood, and Glacier waved his tail encouragingly throughout the ceremony. He didn't get it, but he could tell this was important for his leader and his mate, for everyone gathered here, so he was all-in on the supportiveness. 

Up until the priestess-lady-wolf or whatever she was told everybody to sing. 

He didn't <i>want</i> to sing. But everybody was singing. <i>Everybody</i>. They'd know if he wasn't singing. 

So Glacier sang too, nervousness turning his voice into some-to his ears-godawful warbling mess, and the nervous blush heating his cheeks quickly spread to the very tips of his ears. Maybe nobody heard him, in the whole choir of wolves singing. Yeah. Maybe nobody had heard him.
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#16
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 He was hardly aware of anyone else at that moment, just the food... and not the drool dribbling from his slightly agape maw. He wondered if it would be proper to slip in a little bite. Just a tiny one, that's all. Just a little bitty little Mordi nibble. His rather simple brain began to come up with all of the rather horrible --guaranteed to fail-- schemes to accomplish this while everyone else's chatter buzzed in the background of his mind.

 That was until the air shifted.

 He could smell something familiar under the floral accents and delectable food. Something that forced his attention back to the party. His gaze shifted, wondering what it was that was tickling the back of his mind and forcing his thoughts away from the heaven before them.

 His eyes widened in a mixture of awe, familiarity, then shock, and then horror as he saw the dark she-wolf making her way down the aisle.

 On all that was sweet and holy, NO He hadn't!

 But he had.

 All at once, he'd lost his appetite, as he stepped back and forcefully sat down as he tried to come to terms with what he'd done with the bride.

 Why hadn't he asked for a name beforehand?!

 His tongue ran around his lips, though not nearly for the same reason as Harper's had as she glanced at him. He quickly averted his gaze, conspicuously avoiding looking at Crux.

 Oh no, his friend was going to kill him!

 Should he tell him?

 No, he couldn't NOW it was the wedding.

 He was rolly-poly thought, right? So maybe it wasn't as--

 NO IT WAS AS BAD! THIS WAS HIS BEST FRIEND! AND HE'D BANGED HIS WIFE!

 He stared off into space, trying not to have a meltdown while he inched back further into the crowd. Maybe no one would notice-- maybe.

 OOOOOO! What was that? He looked to his left.

 AROOOOO! He looked to his right to see heads lifted in joyous song. Why were they singing? What had happened?

 He had to blend in! He had to stop freaking out!!!

 Frazzled, he threw his head back and--

 Belted out one of the most beautiful songs in his life. What on earth? Why was his voice so good all of a sudden?

 Perhaps his panic resulted in a more beautiful song. Riddle had laughter when she was nervous... maybe he had beautiful music when he was nervous.

 It'd be hilarious if he wasn't freaking out inside.

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#17
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 It was... funny. How the white wolf looked at him when he'd spoken in Russian to her. He seemed quite proud of himself for drawing such a reaction. Although there was another who said that he looked... fresh? That drew a much less prideful reaction and more of a sharp look. Although fortunately others stepped in and he drew his attention back to the other assembled wolves and various decorations.

 A hush fell over the assembled wolves as he saw the form of Harper as she came down the aisle. She was decorated in all sorts of lovely flowers (although personally he thought they'd taste even better and wondered if she would let him eat them after all this was over). He watched as she walked down the aisle and came to sit next to his Papa Crux. What transpired next was a bunch of kissing and he wrinkled his nose. Gross. "Hi, Mama." He said, happy to see her again, as he wiggled his tail behind him.

 There were a lot of words and things being spoken and names thrown that he did not understand but he knew this was all important for his parents' marriage. He sat and tried to seem very interested but it was all such complicated adult-stuff. Although he did understand the howling competition. He'd never tried to howl before and when he attempted now, he knew why.

 His voice didn't quite feel right for it as he attempted to mimic the wolves' lovely songs. Instead, his was more of a braying, barking noise, instead of a true howl. Ugh. He felt frustrated as he glared up at the moon. Why couldn't he have a nice howling voice, too?

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#18
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 She knew vaguely of the wedding. The preparations that were to be made, the excitement. She had even participated in some of the hunting, bringing in some of the more average pieces while she'd observed the fancy white deer that was to be the center of attention. Yet, when the call finally came to have the feast, she hadn't come running. She had been resting after a long day and had barely stirred at the noise of the call.

 It was only when the Howls came that she woke and rose, walking towards the group still half asleep.

 She saw the group with eyes still bleary, moving through the evening shadows to reach them. She had been too late for the ceremony or to watch Harper come down the aisle or the blood-paint, but she recognized her belatedly among the group, giving a soft smile. She peered out over the rest of the group, noticing a young buck alive and hanging out next to her son, and - wait.

 What.

 Her eyes flashed back to Crux, who was busy howling and having a grand old time with Harper. She realized with a start, tears brimming in her eyes, what was going on. Who the groom was. She had heard his name before of course but had never really made the connection, for surely there were other wolves with the same name? “Crux?” Nevada couldn't move, couldn't breathe for the longest time, until she was pulled out of her shock by hearing the most beautiful voices joining the array.

 Her eyes traveled along and she saw another familiar face, the man who had eaten too many berries. “Mordecai?”

 What was going on?

 Slowly, it became apparent the tears in her eyes were not sad, but joyous. Confused, yes, but joyous nonetheless. She moved through the piles of wolves, not sure where she was going, but knowing she had to give her son room but also - she had to speak. She spoke aloud, “This is my son, my Crux,” it felt babbled, as if the words that left her mouth weren't even comprehended. Her eyes could not leave her son, despite his own attention fully enraptured by his new bride.

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#19
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Too many other wolves than Nemean felt comfortable counting filtered in, and to top it all off, Annika looked like she'd rather throw up than look his way. Valeska looked like she both appreciated that he'd shown up but also hoped he'd be a little more active; he hoped he was just reading too far into that, though, because he certainly didn't want to be more involved than he could back out of. 

The literal fucking deer that paraded in with Eventful Horizon brought a dumbfounded glance from Nem, all cuddly with the leader and apparently comfortable amongst wolves. It became clear quite quickly that he wasn't to be messed with, and overall, Nemean averted his gaze as politely as he could manage. A deer, adopted by wolves? Making conversation with a young buck was.... well, something he wasn't ready for in all this other madness, okay?

Shit, he didn't even want to partake in eating anything with... well, PREY here. 

He gave a smile Harper's way as she came down, glad he hadn't made a fool of himself in front of her when she was in heat. The blue man howled when everyone else did, though debatably one of the quieter voices -- supportive, happy, but a little more than a little overwhelmed. He continued to linger at the back of the group, trying not to laugh as the little buck tried to join into the song and wondering what happened now that the couple seemed to be.... married? Was he wrong? Traditions around here were still foggy; something like this would have happened in the Vale, and the ceremony would have ended with a howl, he thought.
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