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[M] All My Life I've Been Living in the Fast Lane — Kettle Pot Pond 
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Played by Pinecone who has 375 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Cottongrass
Rated mature for descriptions of drowning and character death. Dated to December 16th. For @Reid

There were moments in life where Cottongrass was convinced that he was a genius. That he was one of the smartest wolves alive and nothing could hurt him. Because hidden in the middle of the open tundra there was a pond. A pond that — like many other ponds — was frozen over with ice and snow. It was the perfect way to spend a day.

Nobody was around.

He was alone.

There was nothing but falling snow and howling wind to keep him company. Somewhere behind him his tail started to wag and a smile spread across his features. Because he knew how this story went. A wolf went onto the ice and the qalupalik came. Her voice would sound like the wind of a storm and the ice would part. And Cottongrass knew that he wasn't a puppy. That he was two years old and an adult. But that didn't mean he couldn't have some fun.

Nobody would even have to know that he was goofing off in the middle of nowhere while a storm approached. He would just spend a few hours looking for the monstrous she-wolf and nobody would be none the wiser about his childish antics.

It wasn't like the qalupalik was real.

But if she just so happened to show up? Well... Cottongrass would just have to become the monster hunter he always dreamed of being and bring back her head. It was only right. He was the Scout of Shallows Edge. His whole entire job was to explore and discover and then report back to Askan and Reyes. He was sure his friends would understand if he explained that he was out killing a monster and making the world a much better place. There were puppies in their ranks. He was only being heroic.

His tail wagged in the air behind him and he approached the edge of the frozen pond. One of the first things he noticed was that the ice was thinner than he thought. Water bubbled up from in between thin cracks and spilled across the rest of the surface. But the temptation was too strong. Cottongrass was too weak. He wasn't going to back out now. Not when the fun was only just starting. So with the utmost care —

He placed one of his paws against the surface.

Nothing happened.

He placed another one of his paws onto the ice.

Still nothing happened.

And when he finally took the plunge and placed all four of his paws onto the ice?

Something happened.

It was like a bolt of lightning struck the ice. Cracks formed under the weight of his paws and splintered into different directions for as far as his eyes could see. But he didn't fall in. There was still ice beneath his paws and water even further below. His tail wagged and he stared down at the frozen pond with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Because this was it. He was sure that any moment now he would hear the wind calling his name and the qalupalik would come.

He was ready.

And with a deep breath in to steady his nerves — Cottongrass stepped closer towards the middle of the pond and further from the safety of snowy shores. He was sure that just a few minutes of exploring wouldn't hurt.

by ILoveLawnMowers

(This post was last modified: 3 hours ago by Cottongrass.)
Played by Hex who has 46 posts.
Hearthwood River III. Subordinate
Reid Arwood
He had found a wounded doe and she was the reason why he was beyond the border of the pack territory. Reid had seen her in the distance limping among the grass heading north. It had been too tempting of a chance for him to pass up so he had quickly followed her. He hoped that by the time he reached her that she would be on her last leg and giving up to death's embrace. He had followed her through the night but come morning she was nowhere in sight.

Reid simply couldn't believe it. She had been right there plodding along in front of him. How could he have lost her just like that? After searching the area he realized what had happened. She had double-backed while he had slept during the day and had set off in a completely different direction. The doe had been wounded but she hadn't been stupid. Reid grinned as he shook his head. He had been outsmarted so neatly to he really couldn't hold it against her. With the wind howling in his ears he wouldn't have been surprised if she had walked mere feet from him without him noticing her presence.

Deciding that he could head back home he turned and started to make his way back but a gust of wind brought him the scent of water and that of another wolf. Curious Reid veered from his path and loped in the stranger's direction. Wondering what would bring another pack wolf this far north.

When he did finally see the pale stranger Reid openly stared across the distance that seperated them. What were they doing? He watched them intently as they slowly tested the ice. The crackling of breaking ice filled the air and the red man flinched as he watched waiting for the stranger to fall in but luck must have been on their side because the ice held them.

Hey! I'd be careful if I were you. Reid shouted as the pale wolf went further out onto the ice. He was half tempted to join him just so that he could drag him back to shore. If the ice was cracking under him already why was he walking out further? It was stupidity plan and simple. If the pale wolf knew the area he might be okay, but Reid hadn't smelled this particular wolf's scent in the area. Now to see if the pale wolf would actually come back to shore or stupidly stay on the ice.
[Image: upside_down_reid_by_silversnake54-dbvgofa.png]
Played by Staff who has 3,702 posts.
There is a family of deer nearby. Hunt Opportunity
Played by Pinecone who has 375 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Cottongrass

The sound of cracking ice followed his every step. He could see the ice splintering into white lines beneath his paws and he could feel the cold water that bubbled up from down below when it crept between his toes. But he didn't stop. Not when he was on a mission to find the qalupalik or die trying. And a part of him knew that she wasn't real but the rest of him didn't care. He would find her and he would be called a hero when he brought her down. Or else he wouldn't find her and he would have just killed a few minutes doing nothing.

Both were good outcomes in his head.

Now if the world would just give him a hint... Like maybe he would see a flash or something moving beneath the ice or else he would hear the wind howl his name. But instead there was just noise. The sound of his tired breathing and the crunch of ice and snow beneath his paws. His ears twitched and his paws slid to an unsteady halt.

Was that —

Did he just hear something?

His tail wagged and he turned around to face the disjointed voice coming from behind him. Or at least he tried to. Moving on the ice wasn't easy. Especially when it seemed to crack and move with his every step. He settled for peering awkwardly over his shoulder at the wolf.

"Huh?" Why should he be careful? Did the stranger see something he didn't? Did they just spot the qalupalik? "Why?" He settled for calling out. His tail never once stopped its attentive wag. He was all ears for whatever the wolf might have been warning him about.

by ILoveLawnMowers

Played by Hex who has 46 posts.
Hearthwood River III. Subordinate
Reid Arwood
He was dealing with an idiot Reid decided as the wolf turned to him asking why. Why? Was this a trick question or did this wolf just not have a sense for danger? He was walking on ice. A fragile thing that could break from your weight if it wasn't thick enough and this wolf wanted to know why he should be careful. The pale wolf was staring at him from over his shoulder and his tail didn't stop wagging as he waited for an answer.

The red male let out a frustrated groan. He might have walked away at that point and he wanted to because this wolf obviously didn't have a lot of sense but he had already involved himself with this wolf when he had shouted at him. Because you snowflake you're on ice! It wasn't very original for a nickname but the pale wolf sure did look like one seeing that he was all white. Plus they were surrounded by the stuff so Reid just went with it. Can't you hear it cracking under you or are you deaf? He obviously wasn't if he could hear Reid yelling at him but how dense could you be to try and walk on cracking ice?

Pacing closer to where the wolf had originally gotten onto the ice Reid eyed the fragile stuff warily. He might have to get on it in order to drag Snowflake back to shore. It wasn't an idea he relished so hopefully the other wolf came back willing.
[Image: upside_down_reid_by_silversnake54-dbvgofa.png]
Played by Pinecone who has 375 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Cottongrass

The stranger was upset. It didn't take a genius to figure that out. And he didn't understand why — not when he was sure that just a few minutes on thin ice wouldn't hurt — but he found himself doubting his own actions anyway. Was he really being that stupid? His ears rolled back against his skull and his yellow eyes filled with hurt.

"I was —" He was just looking for the qalupalik. An imaginary monster that lived under the ice and stole away wolves that came too close to cracks in the ice. It was starting to sound awfully dumb and childish. Maybe even too dumb and childish, even for his standards. He averted his gaze and looked towards the distant horizon for just a second. There wasn't a good excuse waiting for him there. He took a deep breath in and did his best to turn on the spot. It was harder said than done when the ice continued to crack.

"Sorry." The stuttered apology felt hollow in his throat. He didn't know what else he could have said when there was nothing but shame and guilt inside of him. "I'll — I'll get off the ice." And that should have been it. He would slink off the ice and get his ear chewed out for being stupid. Then he would take what remained of his dignity and crawl back home for sympathy. But for Cottongrass, nothing in the world was ever that easy.

He took one step forward onto the already fractured surface.

What followed next was a deep and resounding crack. It echoed inside of his ears and struck terror into his heart. And he didn't want to die. He didn't want to fall into the water and get dragged to the bottom by the qalupalik or by whatever else might have lived beneath the ice. But he was just so scared and he didn't know what to do. Not when he could finally recognize the seriousness of the situation for what it was. Everywhere he looked the ice seemed to have been fractured into thin white lines. Water continued to rush up from between the cracks at an alarming rate.

From somewhere within his throat a whine managed to sneak out. It was high pitched and pleading. His ears were pinned back against his head and he looked at the stranger with genuine panic in his gaze. Help me, he wanted to cry. Help me, he wanted to beg. But his body was frozen with fear and so he remained silent. He couldn't bring himself to move from his precarious spot on the breaking ice.

It would be the end of him.

by ILoveLawnMowers

Played by Hex who has 46 posts.
Hearthwood River III. Subordinate
Reid Arwood

Reid stared as the wolf's ears went back was Snowflake finally realizing what an idiot he was being? Good. Now he just needed to get off that ice and that would be that. The red man might even have a chance to find something else to hunt and take home before the sunset but he wanted to make sure that this wolf made it back to shore in one piece. It would be his good deed of the day. Heck, maybe he could convince the pale wolf to help him hunt for something.

Snowflakes mouth opened and Reid only managed to catch a few words but the rest went either unspoken or was simply to soft for him to hear. It seemed like they had been trying to explain what they had been doing. Reid was curious about what would make a wolf walk out onto the ice but he honestly didn't care so much about that at this point. Snowflake just needed to get off the ice and that was what Reid was more focused on at this point.

He watched as the other opened his mouth and apologized before saying that he would get off the ice. He looked like he had been scolded and waiting for a inevitable punishment he knew would come. Reid tipped his head as he barked back. Just get off the ice before it breaks under you. The longer he waited the more the heat from his paws would melt the ice directly beneath him. Snowflake started to move and he took all of one step before the sound of cracking ice filled the air. The red man flinched at the menacing sound.

Well, crap so much for Snowflake getting off the ice without it breaking under him. Even from where he stood Reid could see the water spilling over the ice and the pale lines that spread out beneath the pale wolf. Frantic eye met his as a pleading whine filled the air. Reid didn't need any words to translate what the pale wolf was trying to say. He wanted help and the red man wasn't sure how much he could give. He couldn't exactly get onto the ice to help two wolves would make it break that much quicker. Thinking quickly he tried to figure out the best course of action. They needed to move fast but if they moved wrong this could take a bad turn.

Lay down! Spread your weight out and try and crawl forward I'm going to find something for you to grab onto so I can help you back to shore. Reid ordered not waiting to see if Snowflake followed what he said before turning to look for a stick, a vine, something that the other wolf could grab onto.

[Image: upside_down_reid_by_silversnake54-dbvgofa.png]
Played by Pinecone who has 375 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Cottongrass

The stranger spoke and Cottongrass found that he could barely nod along. There was too much blood pumping in his ears. It drowned out the distant howl of blowing winds and the harsh panting that came from his panicked lungs. And the stranger said to crawl — to lay down and slither forward on his stomach — but he couldn't move. His limbs trembled and his ears pressed back against his head while he let out another high pitched whine.

What if he fell through? Would the stranger make it back in time? And — from somewhere in the back of his mind — what if they didn't come back in the first place? It was in that moment he wanted his friends. He wanted Askan. He wanted Reyes. They always knew what to do. But they were two days south and they probably didn't even notice he was gone. Did they know he was in danger?

Did they know he was moments away from taking his last breath?

And the answer to that question was no. His friends didn't know his fate and they never would. But he pretended he never had that thought in the first place because he was fine. Everything was fine. He just had to drop down onto his stomach and crawl forward like the man said. Maybe the stranger wouldn't even need to find something he could grab onto. He could just save himself and wouldn't that be something. Maybe then he would finally do something right in his life.

His legs shook and he struggled to remain balanced as he bent his knees. The ice was starting to cut into his paws. Water continued to seep from in between cracks in the frozen surface. Every movement he made had the ice cracking and groaning in protest. But he was fine. He was okay. It was the only thought repeating in his head and it was the only thing keeping him going. He was okay. Not great and certainly not good but okay. He could live with that. Being just okay never hurt anyone.

Right?

He didn't know anymore. It probably didn't matter. He just had to focus on getting off the ice. So with painful slowness — Cottongrass settled onto the ice with his stomach pressed flush against the frozen surface. It was cold. More than cold and his body wouldn't stop shaking. But that was okay. He would be warm soon enough. More than warm when the water and ice set his skin on fire and killed his nerves with frostbite and hypothermia. It would just be the initial plunge that hurt the most. Like when the cold knocked the breath out of his lungs and his muscles seized and spasmed.

The ice gave one last sickening crunch.

Cottongrass fell through the ice and into the freezing depths below. His paws clawed at nothing but air and his scream died in his throat as his lungs filled with water.

It was the beginning of the end.

by ILoveLawnMowers