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.

lost in the cynical dust

@Bronco -- Forgive my cliche music lyrics post, I'm just having fun creating a playlist for Ele right now. 
Lyrics: Damaged by Assemblage 23

 I am merely the product of the life that I've lived
An amalgam of sorrows and the wisdom they give

Snow still fell on the higher points of the mountain, although he’d noticed the fiercer of the flurries begin to dissipate over the last few days. Winter had not yet passed, but it was releasing its grip and succumbing to change. Something he had not quite managed yet, but gods, how was he supposed to do it? So much had changed.

But the weight has grown heavy and it's dragging me down
It's so hard not to sink now but I don't want to drown

The delicate flakes fell from gray skies above, falling in near silence to come to rest on the Nameless Mountain below. He had not ventured to the peak yet – something about it made him uncomfortable. It was not like he was a stranger to mountains or to such difficult climbs. But the peak above him that coiled up into that cold, gray, darkness felt… he wasn’t sure. It wasn’t imposing, exactly. He’d have to go at some point; his curiosity would eventually get the better of him. But for now, it felt off limits. Like some voice in his head told him he wasn't ready yet. Maybe it was fleeting hope - some feeling that when he made the journey, struggled to the top, something would then be revealed to him. It was wishful thinking. The dark wolf cast his gaze toward the peak solemnly, regarding it for a few passing moments before getting back to his task at hand. Creating a little spot for himself. A home within a home. A place that he could call his.

I'm damaged, but somehow I've managed this far
But I don't know if I can find my way back home
I'm damaged, but somehow I've managed for now
But I don't think I can face this on my own

Hydra had offered him sanctuary and he had taken it, like a drowning man grabbing the first thing that had any hope of pulling him from the waters. He'd done it before really thinking about what he was accepting, before really understanding the true weight of her offer - a pack, a bond, a commitment. It wasn't that he regretted the offer, he just didn't yet understand what it was he'd be able to give to her. His memories were full of fragments; shards of reflective glass. He could hear whispers from his past (Past? Was it his past? Was it a dream? Or was this the dream?) that told him he had a home already - he had his Falls that were his responsibility and he had the far away, hazy memory of a snug nook, dappled with moss and soft morning light, and a warm body beside him. But these memories made no sense to him yet. So here he was, on the mountain with no name, carving out a home for himself.

There is beauty in hardship
There are poems in grief
There are trials we must go through though they may shake our beliefs

But I don't know how I got here lost in the cynical dust
Set adrift in the worry that I've got no one to trust

Over the last few days, when he'd had the energy to venture out from his small cave, he'd set to gathering a handful of items he'd thought would please him. Some clumps of green moss he'd found peaking through the snow, that he'd torn and dragged back with him - these were the first. The next had been a few small and strangely shaped stones. Nothing special, but just something that had caught his eye for one reason or the other. He'd nestled them at the entrance, pushing them gently into the cracks of the rockface and giving it some glimmer. He hadn't made much progress beyond that - it had taken him a few days to find a spot that felt good enough to him to begin to settle in. The rocky outcrop that led to his tiny sanctuary had caught his eye when Hydra first led up the mountain.

If to suffer is holy I'll take my share of the pain
I can swim through this sadness if there's something to gain

Element sat outside his new den, regarding it with a soft and unreadable expression upon his face. It was a start. This was a start. All of this. Eventually he breathed a sigh and rose, turning and padding off to see what else he could find on his home decor errands.
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I LOVE lyric posts :D I like this tune, by the way- thanks for introducing me to it!

Something glinted in the distance, casting a splinter of light through the wooded area, and causing Bronco to blink. He'd been winding his way through the wilderness after having patrolled the borders, with the intention of seeking out one of his many established napping spots so that he could have a rest. He thought he knew of one place in the area that he'd also stashed a rabbit as a snack, and thought that it might be nice to have a bite to eat, and then have a nap. Those two things went together very well, so with an apatite and a bit of tiredness to his step he'd been wandering his way toward the small nook when the bright and shiny spark had caught his eye. 

He stood still for a few moments, gazing off in that direction, before he swayed from side to side to see if the glint might catch his eye again- and when he tilted his head just so, he could see it. A bright, albeit tiny, shining light- the glint of something catching the sunlight and sending it off in a tiny jet of light into the distance. He moved toward it, though he had to weave this way and that to keep track of it. At a certain point, he lost sight of the glimmer altogether, as his altitude had changed in relation to the source- but he kept his path straight and eventually, found himself spotting a patch of darkness against the hillside, but pushed into the stony face of the rock bordering the den's entrance were the shining stones. 

It certainly wasn't one of Bronco's nap-places. Most of those were simply a little nook at the base of a tree, or a natural lean-to created by boulders. But this fellow, with his mercurial gaze, had a very admirable home behind him- and something that glittered in the stone face of the boulders at the edges of its entrance. "Oh! That's what it is!" He exclaimed, drawing a bit closer before he realized that someone had been here very, very recently- and had left behind a set of pawprints that were very fresh. This den was claimed, then- but clearly by someone who had much better taste in home decor than Bronco. Bronco was not a thief, and would not pry the stones out, as this clearly belonged to a packmate of his- but he felt no shame in following the male's tracks at a jog, hoping he could catch up, meet his new packmate and find out just where he'd found those shiny things, if there were more to be found.
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Ah! Even better! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

He had a few items in mind on his mental shopping list, although they'd probably take a few separate outings to come across. Something about having a particular task relaxed him, although there was a tickling sensation in the back of his mind that urged him to consider the thought that maybe trying to keep so busy was just a little bit manic - that maybe he'd really honed in so hard on his home decoration because it, unlike so much else, was in his control and ability. It was times like these that it was good that there was no canine Amazon Prime, or Element would have been the type to start three new hobbies, open a new credit card, and make a few hundred dollars worth of regrettable, spontaneous purchases.

But he was a wolf, so he had more wolf-like goals, obviously.

His stones had been one of his favorite additions, and stumbling across a few shards of old quartz had occupied him for a whole evening. Unsure if he'd managed to find all the fragments that appealed to him, when he left his den he had decided to head back towards the spot he'd first uncovered them. As he strode along on dark limbs, his thoughts went briefly to his encounter with Crow - the dark wolf with the shiniest treasure he had ever seen. He still wasn't sure if the other males find had been a rock, an unknown gem, or the most obscure of gilded berries - and likely he never would know, given how the other hadn't seemed to know or care. But damn, his curiosity had been piqued, and sure enough he now wanted one of his own. It was unlikely he'd stumble across something so bright and unique, but a man could try, and try he shall.

As Element padded along, occupied with his thoughts, he was only distantly aware of how pleasant it was to have them as a distraction, and how... well, how scared he was for the times when there wasn't anything to focus on. But that was a time for later. For the dark parts of the night. For now, it was a bright afternoon, cold and crisp but sunny, no threat of snow on the horizon. There were rocks to find.

Apparently, there were also others nearby. The sound of footfalls reached his ears and Ele slowed to a halt, swiveling his ears in their direction. He hadn't left the mountain without a name, so logic dictated that it was another that resided upon the slopes. Unless they had slipped past Hydra's warnings, and he was about to meet a trespasser. Shit. He wasn't up for the whole... grr get off my lawn, kid thing right now.
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My apologies for the wait! I kind of fell off the wagon for a bit there <3

He was keen to see who this guy was. He didn't recognize the male's scent from any of his memories, but he did know that it was familiar enough upon the Nameless Mountain that the male called the place home and had likely already met Hydra. He felt fairly certain that the male hadn't been a part of Moonspear, at least, not while Bronco had been there- but he was happy enough getting to know any new packmates that showed up as well. They were a part of the new legacy, after all, and would be his family by default. As such, he felt it was important to get to know his new packmates so that they would work better together as a team. 

Plus, this guy obviously had an eye for shiny things- that made him significantly more interesting. 

When he caught sight of the wolf, he noticed the male's dark pelt, flecked with silverish guard hairs here and there which reminded Bronco of someone he'd once known- but he couldn't quite place a name to the face. This wasn't the wolf whose face was a blurred memory, as his eyes were a different hue, and face a different shape, but he was still left feeling oddly optimistic as he approached him, calling out with a soft chuffed. "'S'cuse me?" He called out, hoping he wasn't interrupting "Uh, hey," He greeted, with a somewhat bashful smile. "S'that your den back there?" He asked. He was fairly certain it was- it smelled like this guy, and his tracks had led directly to him- but there was always a chance that the den belonged to someone else, and that this fellow had simply been visiting.
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Never any rush! We all know the feeling.

Quickly did the stranger reach him, a body visualizing through the brush nearby. There was a mutual moment of assessment between the two, and Element wondered if the stranger's thoughts wandered the way his were - the moment his sterling gaze took in the other males scarred face, searching for any sign of familiarity... and finding none. There was a short lived spark of concern that lit in Element when he scanned the scars across Bronco's features; some misguided fight or flight that whispered to him to be wary, because one that carried such prominent scars may have been one who had no qualms about placing them on others. It was, as mentioned, a short lived fear though - and Ele felt a surge of shame the moment after he thought it. It was an absurd judgement to make - there was nothing inherent about scars that meant someone was cruel. They may have even been on the receiving end of cruelty with no say in the matter. He recognized his reactions as a byproduct of unease, which had encircled him like a shadow since his waking.

Subconsciously, something else flickered below the surface - the image of a white wolf with a scarred eye. That same face, flashing him a smile so charming it should have been outlawed. The same face, juxtaposed suddenly with flashing teeth, the sound of a snarl, and heated breath at his throat.

That subconscious ember did it's best to rise, but the distraction of the present moment quelched the infant flames before they could make themselves known. The only thing Element was aware of was a tightness in his chest - something that felt tight and restrictive around his heart.

Fortunately, Bronco's approach was a gentle one. "Hey," Element mirrored back at the earth-colored stranger, curious about the fact that Bronco seemed as if he had been... looking for him, maybe? A thought that etched closer to confirmation after his question, to which Ele's brow quirked slightly and he nodded. "It... is. Yeah." Was that... okay? The den had not smelled occupied when he'd found it, and it hadn't seemed close to anyone else's domain. He was suddenly worried he'd overstepped somehow in making claim to his little nook - that maybe someone else had had their eyes on his little prize. But the other wolf didn't seem upset. In fact, a timid smile seemed to dance across his maw. He didn't seem like someone who was angry. An awkward pause, before an even more awkward. "I like it a lot."
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As soon as he'd asked about the male's den, he had to wonder if perhaps the male with the mercury gaze wondered if his claim was being threatened. While he hadn't met Bronco with anything other than mild surprise, he hadn't exactly smiled or relaxed, either. Bronco felt a bit ashamed of himself, for potentially causing Element a bit of worry, and sought to ease any anxieties he might've had about being approached and asked such a precise question by allowing his tail to wave, and lowering his head a bit. He was glad he'd found the owner of the den- and his features brightened in admiration. While the male seemed somewhat bashful, talking about his den, it was something that Bronco thought was deeply interesting, and was keen to know more. It brought a teensy smile to his packmates features- which encouraged Bronco even more.

"Oh, for sure! I was just kind of in the area- and I seen something like...sparkling? Through the trees? So I didn't mean to like...traipse into your zone there, but, uh, I wanted to know what the shiny thing was that I saw. I didn't take 'em, or move 'em or touch 'em or anything...I just kind of wanted to know where you found them, and since you smelled like you were in the area...I figured I'd ask." He said, with a bit of an ashamed smile. "I'm Bronco, by the way," He said, good-naturedly.
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I enjoy these shy boys.

There was a dance of awkward tension between the two; the choreographed moves of the socially awkward. Ele was unsure if such a thing had always plagued him. It didn't feel inherent to his personality, this way he'd found himself so unsure in the face of new interactions. He wanted to call it a byproduct of his awakening here - his eyes had fluttered open amid the roaring thunder of panic, his heart locked in a vice, waves of the wrongness of his abrupt placement in this world still fresh upon him. It had been what, a few weeks, since that day? If that? It made sense for him to still be shaken, but he resented the way it seemed to undermine the pieces of himself that he felt were truer, and more him. He enjoyed meeting others. He enjoyed discovery. He longed to establish himself as a friend to another. So why then, did he feel so foolish whenever he tried?

As they continued their exchange, it was becoming evident that the tension in his shoulders and the springs loaded in his limbs had no place here between them. Soothed by Bronco's enthusiasm, Element quickly found a smile blossoming on his maw and a steady rhythm taking over in his white-capped tail. "Oh!" came the exclamation, realization setting in about just what his pack mate was getting at. "No no," he rebutted, an attempt to mollify some of Bronco's apologetic tone. "I'm sorry - I've just been a little jumpy lately. I'm still new, uh, here." Here as in Empyrean, as in the Nameless Mountain, and in this dream world/afterlife/whatever the hell it may be. "I'm Element".

He was intrigued by the curiosity - and maybe a little admiration? - in Bronco's words, and felt a small surge of pride as he considered the fact that his little den had caught someones attention. A grin set upon him and Ele gave a rapid nod. "I found them along a stream bed - I was actually just going to look for more," he explained happily. "I'd he happy to show you where I got em if you want."
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