Down in the Den

A place to store and observe the texts of the Bonded.

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Posting Elemental
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Post Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:22 am

Down in the Den

They tussled, tumbled, wrestled, and she watched silently, as she often did; her two cubs that were growing almost faster than she could keep up with.

The boy was, if one were to think relative to the terms of the realms she'd been passing through recently, around the age of nine. The girl around the age of twelve. They were much older than that, as old as some stars, but within their life cycle they were comparable to a human's young'uns. Still, even as young as they were she found herself contemplating how quickly they grew.

Both had obtained a second form already; her daughter now had three. Yet it was her son that shifted from the wolf pups they'd been wrestling as, stretching luxuriously feathered wing as he stepped forward as a full and proper Feral.

It was a rarity, to know of this form before having come of age to take a true role within their society - yet there he was, a beautiful anomaly. He was unique in other ways; but it was a general rule for a mother to feel such of her cubs.

Why can't we play with the others? he demanded of her, ignoring his older sister as she tried to leap at his tail. He'd been growing restless as of late; this explained it.

The others? Shine asked, testing him - waiting to see if he would fall for her innocence.

The ones that can't shift, he said, and stomped one beautifully unique foot. You know which ones, I can see it. The ones you take in as a part of you that help our home to grow stronger.

Serians, his sister said chidingly, they call themselves Serians, you goof. You know that.

You don't play with them because they are not as young as you, Shine explained, stretching the truth only a little - mentally speaking, her cubs were much younger. Time was an odd thing; it fluctuated differently in many places. Just as you don't really play with your uncle.

But we play with cousin Moony, her daughter said helpfully, having taken an interest, and we get to visit uncle. We don't we visit these others?

They're separate. Not Clan. There aren't any obligations.

But we're curious, her son stated bluntly, and she had to bite back a smile. Or at least she tried - and failed. Giving up and allowing a touch of indulgence to enter her expression, Shine stood and stretched her own wings.

Wings - that was a surprise. Glancing back revealed her dragon form, which did explain a few things; like how very small those cubs of hers were.

If you wish to meet them, there will be rules, she announced almost primly, a tone that had both her cubs instantly sitting. It was her 'no-nonsense' tone, as her daughter put it; the lesson had begun.

I'm responsible for all of you, but that responsibility varies. It's my duty to keep them healthy and safe, and help to make them as strong and happy as I can. It's also my duty to care for y'all in a similar fashion; you are my cubs. Because of this, should any attempt to be a pig-head, I'd be put in a rather difficult position. No matter who it was in the end it's someone I'm responsible for, someone that is a direct reflection on my abilities. And as someone under my care, that means I can't simply destroy them for the trouble; I have to deal with the breech in honor, being the one to answer for them.

We'll behave, her son began, but cut off as his sister snapped near his ear.

It isn't just behaving, she said sternly, and he folded his ears back as he turned his gaze back to his mother. He couldn't see how it wasn't - if anyone acted up it'd be hard on Momma, he'd gotten that, so they simply wouldn't act up. But she was older; there were many times his sister understood things well before he did.

Son, Shine said gently, looking deep in his eyes to help bring him towards understanding, you are an extension of me; whatever you do, I answer for. It's more than behaving; my honor can be forfeited by your actions. You must, at all times, remember that you carry the weight of the entire Clan with you. We are One.

We are One, they repeated with a nod, and closed their eyes to focus.

Their lessons tended to end this way; with a tracing of the ties. They could easily trace the links that bound them to their mother; the girl was highly adept at this skill, able to trace the links all the way out to those strange creatures they'd been asking after. The boy wasn't quite as skilled, but he was a quick study; he could easily find the piece of each Clan member that helped to nourish the spark which gave him life. Without these ties, he knew, they would die; they existed as one. If one were harmed, others knew; if one gave a roar, they could hear no matter their distance. It was part of what made these creatures so perfect for their home, their mother to bond; the ties were much the same. They shared a soul.

Having traced their own ties as far as they could, the cubs stood and shook off hard, each of them back in wolf form now. Her daughter, ever energetic, glanced back to their playing pit - but her son watched her, waiting.

With a weary sigh, Shine raised her head and eyed the higher of the two suns - there was time.

Come. We can test your ability to behave appropriately with the newest member. If you can be dignified enough to ease my mind, you may be allowed to meet others.

We get to meet the baby! her Healer daughter squealed, and Shine couldn't help but smile as the pup chased her own tail in excitement.

Yes, you can meet the baby, though I suggest you refrain from calling her that. Now come; it's time she expanded her interactions at any rate. So far, she's yet to establish firm relationships with most of her bondmates. It's quite unusual; perhaps you can help me find a solution.

I'll try, her son promised, all sincerity as usual. Shine felt the corners of her mouth twitch upwards; she did love her cubs. Hopefully, soon they'd be able to pass through the same realms she had been; it did give a powerful boost of strength, although there was cost for such benefit. Time would tell when they might profit from the strange place; for now, they did have a filly to meet.

And for now, Shine got to forget about the price of her strength.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:55 pm

Re: Down in the Den

The visits had been going well; and the cubs were growing from the exposure to these creatures. There was something they could learn from each of them. Still, it was supervised visits - she didn't give them permission to pass freely. Not quite yet. Not until she knew they could take these relationships seriously.

They were playing with their cousin today, and Shine was restless; almost angry. She paced the Wilds, stalking the land in that form that was called a werewolf in those realms she visited.

For a long while now she'd been in some form of a predator or another. It'd been quite some time since she had known any of her more prey-oriented aspects to come to the surface.

It revealed a lack of balance, which disturbed her. Her lip curled from the sensation and she moved faster, trying to escape her own thoughts. She felt old, the weight of millenia dragging at her.

She'd visited so many places. She'd been forced to- no, that wasn't right. She wasn't forced. She'd killed, not prey and not for food. She'd seen worlds burn; heard the screams. Seen others flourish; soaked up their singing.

And always, her mate had been there, a steady influence by her side. He was here, or some aspect of him was; there were nights where she felt him curl against her. Days where their cubs left to play and learn with him. But he was missing, or at least had yet to find her, in those other realms they were visiting.

It wasn't a great realm. She had a rather uncomfortable meatsuit to wear, a form that was not her own and yet the best that could be found to allow her to walk that land. The creatures were strange and often she found them pitiable. Her Clan was scattered - some of them had begun to forget, wrapped up in the ways of this strange place. Coping with the incompatibility of the meatsuits with what they were. It proved itself time and again that they had a degenerative effect on the strange flesh that was not suited to what they were. Many times the troubles radiated from the stomach - the very core of the form. It made it difficult to survive in that place, yet still their strength was doubled as they gained exposure to those points her home realm remained weak in.

She ran from those thoughts, as well.

What would you sacrifice for what you believed in?

That was what bounced through her mind, mercilessly refusing to be dislodged. What had she already sacrificed? From some aspects, so very much; from others, not yet enough.

What would you sacrifice...

Her sanity. Her status. Her health - acting a Warrior, warping her personal energies, damaging herself. Contact with mate and clan, draining worlds to steal their life and energy, all for the sake of her home, the sake of her Clan.

What would you sacrifice...

Her home. She helped sacrifice her home, threw it down the gullet of those that attacked, ripped out half her soul to give her Clan a chance to flee.

What would you sacrifice...

Her species. They fell, yet she didn't help. She left them, let them slide into oblivion along with her home, to keep the others safe.

What would you sacrifice...

The wind tore at her fur, the Wildlands sped passed in a blur, her paws stumbled over bramble and branch and a trail of blood dripped behind her as she sped onward. It was there; it was real. A new home, one that was built from what she had left, a spark taken from her heart and nourished into life. They were alive, they were thriving, gaining these much needed boosts as others were sought out. Survivors of the carnage she'd helped create; the cost of denying them what they sought.

Brilliant, that they attackers had sought to cripple her kind by taking out those that would hurt them the most. Ironic that the one she'd seen fighting them the most, the one they were drawn to, the one she had made sure was safe with the others would turn on her. Would turn on all of them.

What would she sacrifice for what she believed in - first, what did she believe in.

She believed in her Clan. Even still, after the betrayals, the long flight, the splintered memories. She believed in them, those that she shared her very essence with; she believed in the peace they had once known. She had killed to preserve their ways; she'd kill again.

She didn't remember the hunt, the blood, the kill - she only knew there was a half devoured elk next to her and she was no longer hungry.

Her paws had been scraped raw. Stretching, she tended the wounds, saw them healed, and used her amorphous front hands to heave up what was left of the carcass. It would make a good supper for her cubs.

Nobody had to know that the past had pressed close. She had it wrapped up again; she'd reaffirmed her purpose.

It wasn't much of a cost, really, to ensure their survival. To make sure her cubs weren't denied the life that was due to them; that their days were full of light.

The mistakes of a few, the ones that had brought these darklings down on their heads, it shouldn't be paid for by all. She'd find others that managed to escape, others that sacrificed it all to help those closest to them find safety - she'd rebuild with them. This new realm, another home. The ones that had tainted their kind were gone now; devoured. Without proper prey, with the rest of them hiding in safety, the beasts that had taken them would wither and fade; monsters that were once of her kind, created by the ones that had been hunted.

Both monster and maker would soon be gone, and they would be safe.

But for now, she had what remained of her Clan to help feed. They'd be hungry.

Locking the whispers in a corner of her mind, she opened the bondways once again and reconnected with Clan and bonded as she made her way back home.
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Post Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:38 pm

Re: Down in the Den

*plops down and waits for more*
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Posting Elemental
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Post Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:29 am

Re: Down in the Den

Kri'Kahli stirred, lifting her head as a heavy fog shifted around her. She'd felt it, for a moment - that bare instant before the Keeper of this place had distanced herself. She'd felt the weight pressing in their shared mind.

It was rather strange, to be bonded again. As a thunder horse she no longer had a mind to herself; she'd sworn service and protection to this strange creature and in doing so had lost a piece of her individuality. She'd feel emotions that weren't her own; if the Keeper hadn't pulled distant she would have felt a sympathetic ache in her hooves.

Some would wonder if such a creature could be deemed fit to care for so much; nourishing an entire realm, raising a family and guiding those she'd shared her soul with. Maintaining a life in the existence of multiple worlds could drive the best of them insane; sometimes, it seemed this Keeper was halfway there.

Kri didn't ponder such things, however. She understood; she'd had two foals in her life and both had died. She'd come from the Lost Lands herself; she'd seen it fall. As a thunder horse she was a primary guardian and had been at the front when the final attack came. Nobody had expected it - not that she could tell. Betrayers, some called the beasts, or shadowlings or Eckthroi for a proper, soul-binding name of summoning, and to others they were simply monsters. For her, they were nightmares; nightmares given life and form and blood and hatred.

She'd traveled; she'd seen other places flourish, seen them on the path to their own doom. None had seemed to be the right place to stop. She was searching for something and didn't realize it; looking for home. And, in some small corner of her heart, her foals. One had been half grown and very promising; her heart still ached to think of him.

Stretching her neck, Kri stood and shook herself off, climbing easily out of the mass of fog that was the heart of the cloud she'd been resting in. The Keeper often reassured herself with company after these 'fits' of memory. Most of the time food was involved, and often there were special treats. She understood, in a way; it was a reaffirming of why she kept going. A reminder of the reasons to try.

For her, this place was all the reminder she needed. Feeling the link opened back to flooding in full was enough. It was a new start; a fresh beginning.

One of the corners of this place had even been given such a name; a true and proper name of branding. They were rare things, those true names.

Regret shot through her as she heaved herself on top of her cloud. She'd caught pregnant for a time - a hybrid foal, a cross with another creature. Not one of those bonded to the Keeper's soul; she knew that was forbidden. Another that had been here, a fish-tailed stallion at the end of his growth cycle, had found his way into her affections. But the cross hadn't been as stable as she'd thought; not long ago she'd miscarried. It'd been far enough along that she could recognize a vaguely equine aspect to it.

Setting the ache aside, Kri made her way to the heart of the den. She couldn't always find it - it was nestled deep within the Wilds and, as often as not, looked different than when she'd last seen it. The land here was fluid and sentient; the trail she followed was invisible and, visually, completely unfamiliar. She was simply heading towards where she felt the presence of the Keeper. That she could pick up more than a messy generalization meant she was welcomed; about as often as not she would know only if the creature had set food in the realm or not, and even that was often known by the way the land perked up.

She'd been right; there was food, and there were certainly treats; her favorite, honeyed oats, quickly teased her nose. There was also a warm expression ready for her; but the eyes, for one unguarded instant, were old and aching still.

The doubt lingered this time. It did, now and again. That was fine.

She could linger as well.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:06 pm

Re: Down in the Den

The cubs were tussling again; it seemed they couldn't play without knocking each other about. They didn't play war games, didn't pretend to fight; it wasn't their way. Chasing, tackling, rolling, bouncing back up - it was just movement for them, a way of touching.

Of course it would have been far more convenient if they were doing such outside the den.

Shine sighed inwardly and stretched as they tumbled passed, watching them with a wary eye. More than once an accidental bump had pulled her into their games; if she wasn't careful they'd be tackling her next. They were so active it seemed she'd never keep up with them, some days - always moving.

Story time! she declared, and smiled as they quickly untangled themselves from a root that was wending over the walls to curl up at her feet.

The den shifted as they did; she was in fae form this time, and they had played in their wolf ones. As they grew still she saw them settle into unisus forms; it made her take a quiet moment to consider them. She'd known they would have such forms, she'd seen it in a vision, yet she'd been surprised when visiting with her bondeds had brought them to the surface. Her son, especially, shouldn't already have a third form - at only nine, he was far more advanced than she'd ever expected. Her daughter had always been unique; especially tough for a healer, she was something of an enigma. There was a particular vision associated with the young girl's core aspect that often left Shine thoughtful; a gentle glow, as if a light seen through fog. Yet the fog was forbidding and corrosive, and more dangerous the closer one was to that core of light.

It was rather fitting in an odd way; as tough as she seemed, the cub was very soft in her core, a very gentle soul. But it was well guarded.

Her son had been an anomaly from the start, born into his feral form - and it was the first two forms that made up the core of the being. She had been born into her fae, then grown into her unisus as her secondary form, the one discovered that was of her father's influence. He had been born feral and grown into a wolf; a fierce warrior indeed. The concept was only supported by the vision she'd recieved of his core; a great wending wall of light, much like the aurora borealis on the secondary realm she gained strength through visiting. A shield of rippling, burning, white-yellow light, blindingly bright with streams of death-shade red.

And now this third form, revealed too early.

He was strong, she knew that. They both were. She knew she'd be proud of who they'd grow to become. Her affections were quiet, subtle, so many failed to see how often she thought of them, how important they were to her. But the cubs knew, she was sure of that. They knew she was always there; always reliable. Unendingly patient while she taught them.

Story time, she said again, affecting a mild smile as their ears perked and her thoughts settled. There's a choice today; a tale of the new friends you've found in the bondeds, or a tale of ancestors.

Tell us more of the bondeds! her daughter cried eagerly. She was growing to love them nearly as much as her mother did, a fact that warmed the old fae's heart.

What sort of tale of bondeds? her son asked, casting his sister a sideways glance. He'd managed to learn from most of his mother's stories, but he thought that this time the tale of ancestors would prove more useful; he could learn more of bondeds by interacting with them. Now that he was allowed to, anyway.

A tale of love, loss, growth and renewal[i], Shine said, and her eyes twinkled as he pricked his ears in interest. He was subtle, but if one knew what to look for it was still easy to see.

She didn't have to wait for them to settle; rather than excited squirming they both grew deathly still, hardly daring to breathe. She couldn't quite understand why, but they did love story time; their cousin was the same way. Perhaps she was beginning to forget what it was to be a cub.

[i]No few of my bondeds came to me with broken ties,
she began, and let her gaze slide out of focus as she sank into her tale, and each that did had a life before this realm. Many of them, through this breaking of bonds, forgot most of what their life had been; others found it harder to forget as some ties remained.

One of those others is Thorn. As active as he is internally, he's very demure and passive in his interactions with his surroundings. He displays a certain level of apathy; enough that there's none he'd actively care for or claim responsibility over, none he'd tell to get bent as he took charge of their well being. Yet as much as he's retreated within himself, he finds himself unable to release everything; he still belongs to a Circle.

As you've been told, Circles are like Clan - it's very difficult to join one, especially when those Circles are particularly close. For them, it's the one bond that outlasts all others; whatever else that had been broken before he came here, that remained. He can't escape that fact, and yet he doesn't remember anything about this group he'd sworn himself to through all his life.

That's his loss. Yet once, there was love; enough that he did bind himself in this way.

Now think for a moment, younglings, on what you might do in such a position. You've lost all ties save that of Clan, and that holds little to no meaning for you any longer; you've no memory of what it once was or even who you've bound yourself to, exactly. You've retreated inwards and remain passive to the workings of life; yet in this one area, passiveness isn't possible. It's your only remaining tie, the one thing that won't release you. What do you do?

Try to forget it, her daughter said, only to frown and add but I can't, because it's still there; still that bond that didn't break. You can't forget it if it's right there.

Chase after it, her son countered, it won't just go away and it's the only thing left to draw me outside myself. I can find out who I once was, if nothing else.

Why would you want to know who you were? the girl asked, and Shine felt her eyes warm again as he tilted his head and gathered his words before answering. She had that same habit, she knew.

Because then I could grow, he finally said, I don't have anywhere to start if everything's been lost and I've shut out the worlds. But if I something to work with, something I was, I can grow to be more. Some day.

How, then, Shine asked, would you chase this remaining bond?

Follow it they declared in unison, and then giggled together. Trace it to whoever was left I'd bound myself to her daughter clarified, and gave a flick of an ear as she pretended not to notice the way her little brother looked at her, as if she were someone to learn from just as much as their mother was.

It could be a long hunt, Shine cautioned, her tone dropping into mock-seriousness you could have a great deal of trouble finding the ones that remained from your past.

All the better, her son declared with typical warrior flair, journeys like that have just as much potential for growth. Maybe more.

Nodding, Shine resumed her story.

Then you see it clearly; having removed himself from the worlds, Thorn has as well. He loved; he joined this Circle. He lost; all other ties were broken and forgotten. Now he seeks growth, through rediscovering what once was - and hopes to renew some of these old ties. Perhaps he can become close to these he'd sworn himself to once again. Until then, he seeks.

But not all are as clear-sighted about such things; not all see that if such is all that remains then that is where one would begin. Frolic experienced much the same; and she went insane.

Her memories were not completely shattered; her ties were not faded or forgotten. She needed to renew them, and yet they were still there - she needed to find them, and yet they were not strangers. She was trapped between the state of beginning again and continuing on and unable to settle what her action should be. She couldn't release what had been and start afresh; not that easily. Nor could she simply stroll up and continue as if naught had occurred; the bonds were damaged and those she'd sworn herself bound to were difficult to find.

Unable to decide, with none to take action for her, she ripped her mind.

They winced, and her daughter let out a distressed whicker; as a healer she felt a sympathy that caused an ache in her chest. Such suffering, even if caused by one's own inner turmoil, must have been horrid.

It was Caustic who saved her, Shine continued, as he stripped her down to nothing and brought her outside of herself. He destroyed what she was and left her to build herself again; as she wasn't the mare that had been bound to these others, continuing as if naught had occurred was no longer an option. She'd be forced to forge new ties, as she was now; if such could even be forged. In this, we find renewal; a renewal of self and the opportunity to grow beyond madness. But there's another lesson, as well. Can you find it?

There was a silence as they both crinkled their noses in thought. Finally, each shook their heads, looking somewhat abashed; Shine held back a sigh. They were still learning to think, to do more than merely listen. They'd have to learn to discover their own lessons; but one day at a time. They'd catch on.

Destruction beings creation, she said firmly, and watched as they perked slightly, making extra effort to commit this part of the tale to memory; the part they should have seen, the part they'd never forget and would use to see others. He had to destroy who she was, tear her down to where she had no more self-image left than does your average leaf. The concept of who she was, who she had been, who she could be had to be shattered. He left her nothing but the ability to react without thought - and her reactions were fiercely angry. And she found joy in that anger, something that never would have been considered before. From that, she created herself; but first he had to break who she was.

The pair nodded, turning this concept to other things; the fall of an old tree created a beautiful hill as grass and mushrooms slowly covered the decaying bark, a fairy mound if the trees were old enough to have absorbed enough magic; a place of passage where the forces circled and fed power to whatever rites were performed. A dozen other examples easily came to mind for each, as it was a concept often seen in nature - and yet often overlooked. Until now.

Couldn't, her daughter asked, sounding a little uncertain, couldn't the same be said of having their old ties broken? Of Thorn? Before he could begin this journey and grow he had to lose...

Lose the ties he'd had! her son finished, with the exuberant certainty that comes with youth. Before he could become who he is now and grow even beyond that, he had to forget everything, including what that tie to his Circle had been. Destruction brings creation.

Very good, Shine grinned, and with that she climbed to her feet signaling the end of the tales. Her cubs quickly popped up after her, trotting a quick circle around her as she stretched and glanced over her den - the heart of a great tree, still living and growing around them this time. The den shifted with her, not with her cubs - this was the home of a fae. Stepping outside she saw small shoots of younger trees circling the massive redwood whose roots had formed the protective shelter; it brought a smile to her face. She was proud of her den.

Her cubs followed on her heels, eager for what came next; now that her tales were done they would walk their lands. Areas that were sick would either be healed or allowed to die as they made sure the realm remained healthy and balanced. It was the caretaking of their home; and a check to see if any had found their borders. They couldn't ignore the realm that nourished and sheltered them and walking in this manner, connecting with the land that was their own, the land they would one day become a part of and nourish themselves was something they enjoyed. It refreshed their spirit and strengthened them as well as their realm. And it eased natural instincts, allowed them to release a touch of magic into the areas they walked through; allowed them to help keep their home sentient.

Trotting circles around the fae that stepped through the Wilds, the cubs whickered and tried their skills at bringing new life with a touch, brushing their noses over the blossoms that sprang up wherever their mother laid a hand.

And for that moment, all was as it should be.
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Posting Elemental
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Post Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:29 pm

Re: Down in the Den

There'd been an explosion of activity for her recently, one that found her sitting by a stream in the Wilds and letting her toes dangle in the fast running water. Flicking fae wings, Songhue turned her face to the suns and closed her eyes, soaking in the warmth; she felt good.

Her cubs were on a long lasting playdate with their uncle, giving her a few much-needed days of rest. No sooner had she been left on her own than her guide gave a whisper in her ear; as usual it was one that lead to new realizations that helped to profoundly change her viewpoint.

Kri had found her deep in thought not long afterwards and they had talked for several long hours; the differences between Warriors and Healers, the blissful dance of energies whenever the mind would go blank and the body would react in battle and the natural fulfillment found in knowing what to do; how to care for others, how to heal, how to love.

They'd talked over how she had a nearly unique appreciation for both aspects. They talked of her guide, of the loss of their home, of the other Thunder Horses, of the bondeds and the shifting they'd sensed in the realm.

They'd spoken of the other realm she visited, the one that she used as vitamins. That talk had lasted until the sky had begun to brighten, the deep velvet blue softening into a gray before they parted ways.

She'd made peace with some flaws in that place which had bothered her - she had to be on guard against developing bitterness for the realm. She'd made a discovery on how to best fit herself to her visit, to gain the most boost possible from the experience.

And she'd worried for her bondeds. The tension between Nova and Breeze had begun to grow, fueled by a growing fear within the mare. Even their filly had begun to notice; Songhue had needed to sit with the foal and help explain the situation, glad that young Darroch had kept her company while the others discussed the results of this rift. It was more than a dispute between mates; the outcome would affect how each of them was to look after the filly.

She'd spent the morning settling this dispute, for it did cause such ripples within her lands. Things had calmed now, but she had to keep an eye on them; Nova's fear was not yet fully put to rest. Breeze wanted everything for his filly, including close friends she could grow with; Nova feared that her foal may be mocked and criticized for being as she was, for thinking differently. It was a pain she wanted to shield the young Serian from.

Now, with the suns hanging in the highest point in the sky, Songhue merely sat and relaxed in the dappled shade. She felt good for all the activity, yet the time to collect herself was highly appreciated. The stream tickled her toes and the suns warmed her face and, for a moment, she thought of life and smiled. It wasn't possible for her to be still and grow stagnant; now with so many things surrounding her that helped her to grow and learn with each passing moment.

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