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.
Grief tore through Valhalla like a wild animal. It thrashed and writhed in his ribcage, tearing his aching heart to pieces, pulling him in a thousand different directions.
The sight of his mother’s dead body stuck in his mind as clear as day, and now he was trying to outrun it, hurtling across Miera like a hurricane, bitter tears streaming from his eyes. He could not deny it as he wanted to, could not avoid it. Valdis was gone and she could not come back. It was an unchanging fact, one that he would have to adjust to, and yet, he felt, he could not. Every atom in his body protested against the truth.
Time seemed to warp around him. He was leaping over the veins and plunging headfirst in the cold ocean water and tearing across Tiayr all at once, his mind entirely elsewhere. If he kept running, reality could not catch up with him. If he kept running until he passed out, he could escape the conscious world, too.
Valhalla’s muscles burnt but he pushed through it. He could feel his body shaking but he ignored it. Hunger and thirst twisted his stomach into knots but he refused to even acknowledge it.
Valhalla had never understood how so many of his older siblings had left Aesir, but he thought, in this moment, that he was starting to. Miera had felt claustrophobic, like a vice squeezing the life out of him, the moment he’d set eyes on his mother’s lifeless body. He could not have stayed there, not without losing his mind. Even now, as he barrelled across the rolling hills, he could imagine his entire family still gathered around the morbid scene, and he wanted no part in it. He didn’t want to talk to his father, didn’t even want to talk to Valkyrie.
It was late afternoon by the time his body gave out on him. The river that split Tiayr from Caurus was in sight, but he could not take another step toward it. Instead, he collapsed at the base of a tree amidst a small copse and curled up into a ball like a child, shaking and growling, and then throwing up his empty stomach, bile spilling into the grass and staining his throat. Before Valhalla even had a chance to register the grotesqueness of it, his dizzy head fell limp against the ground and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Dreams came and went, spinning around nauseatingly in his brain, but mostly they were flashes; just images and ideas. It was not a restless sleep, nor a lengthy one. He awoke with a start, the world far darker than it had been a moment ago, and the stench of vomit hit him. Valhalla sat up, head spinning, and pushed himself away from the smell, though he did not have the energy to go far. His throat burnt with the taste of it, and he wanted nothing more than to crawl to the river and wash it away, but he did not have the energy nor the cognizance.
As his eyes adjusted to the low dusk light, shapes began to make sense to his fuzzy, nightmare-addled brain: the roots of the tree, the thorny thickets surrounding him, the tangle of plants and pink flowers. A quiet groan escaped him, and then a sigh as he rolled himself into an upright position and tried not to vomit again.
In the quietude of the world, his grief came back to him, raw and real, and he wept like a child.
Valhalla could not say how long he wept for, only that he stopped when he saw movement in the thicket. It was his innate curiosity that managed to break through the depth of his despair and blink away the tears for long enough to get a clear view of the creature.
It was, in fact, two creatures. Two pairs of eyes were peering at him from the growing gloom. Valhalla froze and blinked once, twice, thrice. He did not know what they were, nor what they wanted, but once they noticed him looking, they began to withdraw.
“Hey,” he croaked, “wait!” It hurt to speak, but Valhalla suddenly could not stand the thought of being completely alone this far from home. The creatures stopped their retreat, but did not inch any closer. They made a strange chittering, growling, squeaking sound to one another, and Valhalla swallowed the lump in his throat as he stared at them, uncomprehending. “What… what are you?”
They lurched toward him suddenly, and Valhalla started at the sudden movement. It seemed they wanted a better look at him, which provided him with the opportunity to get a better look at them in return. The creatures were long and furry with long white whiskers and shrewd little eyes. They were fast, too, and scurried around him in circles, jumping suspiciously every time he turned his head to watch them.
They were strange, but Valhalla did not mind them.
“Can you understand me?” he asked them. “Do you speak?”
“Speak!” one of them shrieked.
“Speak!” cried the other.
“Yes, yes, yes.”
“Yes, yes, yes. Speak, speak, speak!”
Valhalla’s head tilted in confusion, as they continued to spin around him like a hurricane, chittering repetitively. “Okay,” he said slowly. “So what are you?”
The creatures seemed unreasonably pleased with themselves and descended into a fresh bout of giggling. As much they intrigued Valhalla, their antics were starting to befuddle him. Their laughter, shrill and piercing, made him scowl. “Stop laughing at me,” he snarled, hauling himself to his paws and wobbling away, taking pleasure in the way they dove fearfully away from him as though he might eat them. Valhalla had no interest in eating them, though, nor any interest in their antics. He had been foolish to hope they would be good company.
Leaving them, heads identically tilted, Valhalla stumbled toward the river. His muscles screamed in protest, but the walk seemed to do him good, and by the time he reached the water’s edge, the throbbing in his skull had subsided a little. Valhalla lapped the cold water up eagerly, grimacing as it slid down his sore throat, but glad to wash the taste of bile away.
Heaving a shuddering breath, Valhalla tried to make sense of his chaotic thoughts. Now that he was here, he wished he had not gone quite so far from home. Now that he was here, he missed his family.
Fresh tears rolled down his cheeks and into the river’s babbling currents.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the creatures appear on either side of him. They were quiet now, and slower, and looking up at him sadly.
“Sorry,” said one.
“Sorry,” said the other.
“It’s okay,” Valhalla said. “I’ve just had a very bad day.”
“Bad day…” (“Bad day…”) “It’s okay…”
The three were silent for a while, and now that they appeared to be less chaotic, Valhalla appreciated their company, odd as it was. He noticed they were peering at their reflections in the water, and a small smile tugged its way onto his lips. Despite himself, Valhalla did not want them to leave.
“So,” he mumbled eventually, “what are you?”
“What are we?”(“Otters are we!”) “Otters, we three.”
Valhalla sighed. “I’m not an otter. I’m a wolf.”
“Otters, we three,” they insisted in unison, and then looked at their reflections again in confusion. Their small forms seemed to visibly deflate.
“Otters, we two.” (“Swim, we do!) “Swim, we two!”
In unison, they plunged into the dark water, splattering water on Valhalla’s unmoving form, only to resurface and begin to chitter amongst themselves again, their moment of melancholy gone with the breeze. They were laughing again, but Valhalla was beginning to comprehend their speech.
“There were three of you?” he asked.
The otters, who were floating and bobbing in the water, considered this and looked thoughtfully at one another. “We were three,” one of them agreed.
“Now we’re two.”(“Two!”) “Two!”
“Two,” Valhalla repeated. “Where’s your mother?”
“We are two!”(“Two!”) “Two, plus you.”
Valhalla felt his heart sink at the realisation. “She’s dead.”
“Dead.” (“Dead.”) “Where’s your mother?”
In a moment of pure delirium, Valhalla laughed and sobbed simultaneously. “She’s dead, too.”
“Oh,” the otters said.
“Are you one?” (“Have they gone?”)
Valhalla glanced between them, at their open, earnest, trusting expressions, and felt a surge of protectiveness rise up within him and spill onto his face. “Not really,” he told them, “though it feels that way sometimes. I have a family and a pack that I need to get back to soon.”
The otters opened their mouths to speak, but seemed so disappointed by his words that they could not bring themselves to parrot any of it.
Valhalla beamed at them. “You can come with me if you like.”
Delighted, they shrieked in unison, “We are three!”
Word count: 1582 Tags: N/A Notes: god they're gonna be a nightmare
In an effort to provide the least restrictve roleplaying environment available, Anikira and their staff have moved the community to the Proboards paid forums. This forum allows unlimited writing freedom to members, as well as an ad-free environment and our ability to customize the forum and its ratings/content however we choose! In order to do so, we will require your help! There is a monthly cost associated with this service, and any and all donations toward this goal are appreciated. Please use the PayPal link below for all donations for Anikira maintenance and moving costs. We look forward to a roleplaying environment where the sky is the limit!
Please note the donation page is listed under Uru's name as it cannot be listed otherwise without a business account. All funds associated with this PayPal account will be used directly for the maintenance and costs of Anikira as our roleplaying forum.
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
Nile for her work on the map and board images!