The cure has been found! Wolves on Anikira are recovering from the disease and life is moving forward with the promise of pups in many packs. And yet darkness looms on the horizon, daring the creatures of Anikira to relax and allow themselves to get comfortable once more.
Valhalla was not stupid. He was old enough to sense that his mother’s health was waning, and in the throes of his selfish youth, he could only be angry about it. The boy had not yet had to grieve someone, and it seemed particularly unfair that his first experience should be of grieving his own mother so soon after she’d brought him into the world. The reality of the world weighed heavily on his heart, despite the spark of naivety within him that made him believe his mother’s illness was just a passing thing, and that in a few month’s she would be well again. But he knew deep down that it was a fantasy, especially because his mother had never been a vision of health in the year of her that he’d had so far.
In his determination to keep his mind off the inevitable, he had taken to wandering. His angst had driven him headfirst into the freezing straits that separated Miera from the mainland, and though the strong currents had bid him return to the island, he could not. It felt wrong to leave her, but he could not just sit here and wait for her to die. The mood on Miera was reticent and subdued. Valhalla could not stand it anymore. A part of him knew he ought to find Valkyrie and talk to her, but he was so upset that he was not even sure he wanted to talk to her in case he said something he regretted.
Valhalla shuddered violently in the cold water, but his thoughts of home only strengthened his conviction. A change of scenery would do him good. One of their scouts had discovered that the pack residing in Tiayr was failing, and so he had begun his journey in northern Miera, his destination the easternmost tip of Tiayr. Valhalla had no idea what to expect from the new country, except for a few stragglers hoping to restore the old pack, but they did not scare Valhalla, son of Valdís and Volsungs, Aesirean prince. He had inherited far too much of his mother’s stubbornness to heed warnings of danger.
The young brute washed up on land eventually, his legs shaking from exertion, and decided to rest a little. Valhalla had finally grown into his body, the size of which almost rivalled Valdís’ now that he had reached his full height. It was untrained though, an unused instrument that had yet to unlock its full potential. He would need a mentor for that, eventually, but he had not yet chosen who to ask. It seemed the wrong time anyway, with everyone so distracted by the fate of the pack and his mother’s impending death.
There was plenty that Valhalla could learn on his own anyway, by surviving in foreign lands.
Rain began to pour from the sky almost as soon as Valhalla had begun to traverse the shoal-covered beach. There was very little flat ground here, as the edge of Tiayr was mostly cliffs, but he could already see that the cliffs were dotted with caverns, so he decided to ascend to steep, rocky outcrops in search of a suitable place to sleep and rest. The day had not yet reached its end, but the rain was beginning to come down hard, and Valhalla smelt a thunderstorm on the salty sea air.
As he ventured across the cold, dark edge of the world, Valhalla wished he had someone to talk to, like mother and father had one another, or Sköll and Raynor were bonded. Sometimes Valhalla wondered why fate had decided the bear would befriend Sköll rather than him. He was old enough now to understand that the gods had a hand in the way of the things, but he did not know why or how. Would they look favourably upon him some day, or was he merely the youngest and weakest of Valdís’ children? He wished he had been blessed as Ragnar had, with a god for a father. Instead, he was just Valhalla.
He came upon an enormous cavern, whose mouth opened toward the sea. It looked like some kind of titanic god had been frozen as it was about to devour the ocean, and then left for all of eternity to harbour gulls and stray wolves in its cavernous jaws. A crack of thunder split his eardrums as he slunk into the cave and pressed himself against one of its damp walls. The mouth of the cave was so wide, and the rain so erratic, that it did not keep him dry completely, but he did not want to venture any further into the darkness of the cavern. He preferred to sit here and watch the ocean and the steel grey sky and the vast expanse of his homeland stretching out across the waves.
Miera looked unending from his perspective. It always felt big when you had to trudge across its vast emptiness day and night, but from here, he could really appreciate the size. He could see, to the south, the famous veins that split the earth like unhealed scars, and the distant crashing of waves against its shores. It was easy to understand why the gods favoured it so. It was such a hardy and daunting land, one that he hoped to someday be worthy of calling home. For now, he would doze in the smattering rain and dream of gods.
[attr="class","text"]Most of the time that Sköll spent at home, Raynor was always there. In fact, he could not go anywhere without Raynor being right there. He was used to it, but sometimes the bear had no filter. Sköll was feeling rather upset that mother was not doing well. It was clear as the day was bright. The sun was hiding behind clouds, which only made the male feel even more dreary. Meira looked miserable, it felt miserable. He could not feel the release of happiness that he once had. Instead, the whole world felt like it was crumbling down around him. He knew that when mother died, father would be the Hilmir, and it would be alright - but things would not be the same. He knew that they would survive, but without his mother, he would be feeling like something was lost. The young wolf made his way around the island, Raynor was humming to himself as he was following along. Sköll was very good at blocking him out from time to time. The pair moved all over the island at least three times, or so it seemed. Sköll stopped nearest the lands that were to the north. He had heard there was no longer a pack claiming those lands. Now would be the best opportunity to explore it. Making his way through the water, Raynor stuck by his side. Though the bears kicks were not really helping the raging waters around them. But they eventually made it to shore together.
When he made it there, he smelled the scent of his brother and the fading scent of the pack that once claimed these lands. He decided that perhaps he should mosey around, not necessarily going straight to Valhalla. He did want to see what these lands held after all. "Hey brother..." Sköll was still ignoring the Ursa. He walked forward, searching and sniffing everything in his path. He took a deep breath. It was peaceful and relaxing here. The new adventure was definitely something that took his mind off the bad thoughts. He grunted to himself, stuck in his own world. But Raynor didn't seem to understand what was happening. "This place is pretty cool." He continued speaking to the other at his regular volume, going over all kinds of things that came to his thoughts. Still, the ivory and ebony wolf disregarded everything the brown creature said. He was stuck in his own world. Seeing the large cliffs along the shore was a scene had had never seen this close before. He was here, actually here. The water was washing up his paws and legs, but he did not mind. He was too captivated by the lands the gods had forged from rock and stone.
As the pair continued to move forward, Sköll could tell that his brother was nearby, very close in fact. He might have been behind a rolling hill or something. It really didn't bother him. He was still wanting to do his own thing. But Raynor realized way too late that his brother was not actually listening to him after he had been talking about the future of their home. "Sköll!" He shouted at the top of his lungs, but still the wolf did not react. "What. Happens. When. Mother. Dies?" It had come out of his mouth at the loudest possible tone, almost in a roar. It was the loudest that Sköll had ever heard from the bear. He quickly lifted his head and glared at him. How could he say such a thing about his mother? The bear had been brought into the family, and he was like a brother to Sköll, but he was not their blood.
Valhalla had been lulled into a light, greyish sleep by the storm. As he descended slowly into the unconscious world, guided by the rumble of thunder and the patter of rain, the tension in his muscles finally, blissfully began to relax. Valhalla had not realised how tightly wound he’d been until getting far away from his problems and immersing himself in some solitude. Occasionally, bolts of lightning lit the heavy storm clouds from within, but soon Valhalla was slumbering too deeply to take notice of the flashes of white behind his eyelids.
Just as his body had fully relaxed, and his brain began to generate those strange, disjointed, bizarre thought processes that precede dreaming, a loud voice cut through his peace and startled him awake. Valhalla’s entire body jolted from the noise, muscles tensing once again, his hackles rising. He had come here to be alone, and thought it a rather simple task. The voice, however, was a familiar one, and once his fear subsided he was left with an irrational anger that frayed all the edges of his nerves and made his heart beat faster in his chest.
That same spike of irritation pierced him each time the voice spoke, until the final straw on the camel’s back arrived in the form of his mother’s name. Valhalla went stiff, his ears pinning against his skull. A low growl began to form on his lips as he stood and stormed from the cavern, unable to take it any longer. It was bad enough that he couldn’t find some peace and quiet, but reminding him of the very thing he’d come here to distract himself from was enough to make the boy snap.
At the mouth of the cave, he peered down and sure enough, there were Skoll and Raynor standing on the beach below him. Mother had always hated Raynor, and Valhalla had never understood why, but he was beginning to. Perhaps he was just bitter that he had no such companion, or perhaps the bear was just an obnoxious shit. Either way, Valhalla was not in the mood to withstand it any longer.
“Sköll!” he cried, his voice cracking like the thunder, audible even over the waves crashing deafeningly against the shore. If he’d waited in the cave, perhaps his brother would have moved on eventually, and Valhalla could have had the beach to himself -- but it was too late now. Valhalla had set something in motion now that he could not stop, the adrenaline of his anger and grief urging him on hubristically. “If you’re going to follow me around, can you at least have the decency to keep that bear under control?” he continued, unable even to look at the dumb bear.
All he’d wanted was some solitude, and now he would have to deal with his brother’s own sour mood. None of them were faring well in the context of their mother’s failing health, and he was a little surprised it had taken this long for the tension to snap. They were all so young, too young to really know how to deal with such a life-changing event. If they could not deal with it sensibly, though, Valhalla supposed they would have to deal with it senselessly instead.
[attr="class","text"]Even before Sköll could stop the bear from saying something, or cursing at him - Valhalla appeared and was not so pleased. Sköll understood, because the words the bear spoke were very unkind and downright hurtful. But Raynor didn't understand what he had done. He didn't know what he had said. He was a very simple creature and he loved the family all as if he was their own blood. Nobody was allowed to insult the bear, except for their parents. When Valhalla opened his mouth, he snarled and moved closer to his own blood. "Watch your tone, Valhalla!" The large black and white wolf snarled to his little brother. He was angered that he would speak about the bear like that. Raynor was apart of their family. Raynor sat himself on the shoreline, rolling to sit upright with his front paws resting against his chest. Lifting one arm into the air, he waved at the brown wolf. "Hey, Valhalla! What are you doing here?"
Sköll had been closer to his brother, so he could not snarl at the bear for being so foolish. Valhalla was literally talking about how he could not be controlled, and yet - the bear continued. Some days Sköll wondered why the gods had cursed him so. Why did Raynor choose the largest of the litter? He could have easily chosen one of his other siblings. But no, Sköll was the blessed one. If he was near Raynor, he might have been able to actually do something. Instead, the bear was off doing his own dumb thing again. Valhalla was not in the mood for his shenanigans, and Sköll really wasn't in the mood for it right now either. "Valhalla, what are you going to do when mother dies?" If Sköll ever thought there was a time when Raynor was being foolish, it was now. Now was the worst time. He couldn't even save him if he wanted to right now. He was not going to focus on Raynor, instead he would keep Valhalla in check.
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Jaidah is one of the albinos on the site, a brand new character brought to life by a brand new player. It is interesting to see how such a pure looking being could be wrapped up in the angsty claws that is Irkalla! We will definitely be staying in-tune with this character to see just what heights Bird is able to take her!
We would like to offer a large thank you to several members that put significant work into the new design of the forum. Thank you to Zen for the work on images for the skin. Thank you to the stock providers for this skin: AdenarKaren on DeviantArt and Kalliysgraphy on Deviantart. We would also like to thank Tril and Bacon For work on the coding and a big thank you to
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