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we're half awake in a fake empire — Giant's Demise 
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Played by Ghost who has 201 posts.
Paradise Falls III. Mentor
Finley Lennox
Yearbook RE for Finley: You've come across a cache of stored apples, preserved but fully fermented. Cheers! tag for @Flair
A few hours after nightfall, Overcast, -4F/-20C

The small group had still not officially moved to the Kingsfall, but the mother was trying to spend more time there, getting familiar with the topography. The boys were old enough to no longer need constant supervision and she had no qualms about leaving them for a while to explore. Especially since she had not actually wandered that far from the lake, not before she had gotten distracted by the bodies of at least a few dozen felled giants, now covered in snow from the season.

It had been fun for a little bit, to let off some steam, trapessing among the fallen trees, testing her balance against the ice and snow. Then her paws had grown cold, it had certainly been a terrible cold snap for the last couple of weeks, and she had looked for shelter. Sure, Finley could have gone home, but she had gotten distracted once more.

One of the fallen trees had become hollowed out with time and rot, and it seemed like the perfect place to hide out for a little while. Ducking inside, Finley was happy to be out of the cool wind, and the bark felt warm in comparison to the snow on the inside. The most distracting part was the smell, deeply sweet, and when she found the pile of apples it all made sense. They smelled sweeter than normal, but it still made her stomach rumble, what a tasty treat she had just stumbled upon.

(This post was last modified: Jan 15, 2023, 02:01 AM by Finley.)
Played by PuppyThief who has 364 posts.
Paradise Falls V. Subordinate
Flair Smoke-Athesila

She hadn’t been back to the broken woods since her ordeal last spring – it wasn’t like she needed any reminder. But now, with the pack as good as settled and spring looming on the horizon, she had some things to consider and plenty of free time to do so. So she’d made the decision to return to the scene, needing to confront last year’s mistakes before she could move forwards.

She wasn’t exactly sure what she’d expected - it all looked so different covered in snow, all signs of blood long washed away by the returned rains, now just a frozen crust at the bottom of the chasm. How long she stood there, simply staring down at it, she couldn’t say, but it felt like an eternity. And the whole time her mind was entirely empty. No great revelations, no new clarity, no closure; Just a waste of time…!

As darkness fell, she was making her way back to the falls, no bit wiser than when she left. However, coming across Finley’s fresh scent, she paused. Whether it was the place, putting her in a particularly protective mood, or perhaps an effect of her impending leadership, she found herself worried for the other woman, out here alone. Changing course, she followed the trail and soon came upon the tree, calling into the hollow: “Finley, everythin’ allright?”

”Speech" Thoughts
Played by Ghost who has 201 posts.
Paradise Falls III. Mentor
Finley Lennox

The mother had been about to dive into one of the sweet smelling apples when she was interrupted by approaching pawsteps. Pausing to listen closely, she felt suddenly on edge, like she was doing something wrong by being out here in the night all on her own. Finley was relieved when it was the voice of Flair that called out for her, and not the voice of some stranger. Smiling she called out, ”Yeah I’m okay, come here I found something interesting.” There were certainly enough apples to share amongst the two of them, maybe even more than enough.

Finley shuffled to the other side of the apple pile to allow Flair more than enough room to enter the log. Then she used her muzzle to roll one towards the other woman, before pulling a juicy one into her own paws. Without a second thought the mother took a large bite, chewing thoroughly before swallowing. Making a bit of a face she snorted, ”They’ve got a bit of a weird aftertaste, but what else could we expect from apples in the winter?” They were tasty though, she took another large bite.

Played by PuppyThief who has 364 posts.
Paradise Falls V. Subordinate
Flair Smoke-Athesila
 

The reply echoing from within the tree was not at all what she’d expected. In fact, Flair had been ready to turn tail as soon as the younger woman confirmed she was unhurt – still weighed down by her own thoughts. But denying the invitation would be rude, especially after she’d been the one to approach, and yes, she was also curious.

Ducking her head, she slipped into the hollow, blinking against the darkness until her eyes adjusted. She wasn’t sure what she’d expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. “Apples…?” She asked incredulously, brows lifting as Finley rolled one over to her. It was rare to find the sweet fruits around here at the best of times, but especially this late in the year.

She couldn’t blame Fin for her excitement, though Flair found herself a little more suspicious of the aged fruit. In the end though, she gave in to the temptation, even with the other’s comment, the prospect of such a treat in the cold of winter was too enticing. Settling down across from her pack mate, Flair followed suit and bit into the apple, a mixture of sweet and tart juices filling her mouth – not at all unappealing. “A’ suppose the cold might’ve gotten t’ them,” she mumbled across to Fin, trying to explain the unusual flavor; “Though otherwise they’d’ve rotted by now.” And she too took another bite, surprised to feel herself growing more at ease with the company; “How’d y’ find them all th’ way out ‘ere?”

”Speech" Thoughts
Played by Ghost who has 201 posts.
Paradise Falls III. Mentor
Finley Lennox

Finley was almost halfway through her first apple when Flair began digging into hers. She nodded happily with the explanation for the aftertaste, it really wasn’t that bad once you got used to it. Taking another large bite she crunched happily on the fruit, taking care to like the juice off of her chops. It was funny, as much as the apples themselves were cold, eating them seemed to be heating her belly up. It felt like spring had sprung early in the log.

Shrugging, she smiled, ”To be perfectly honest it was a total accident. I wanted to get my paws out of the snow and here they were.” She finished off the apple. The woman had a lot of respect for Flair, but they weren’t particularly close and certainly weren’t confidants but it felt so nice to be here together.

Looking over at the rusty wolf she asked, ”Did you always want to lead? You seem like the natural born type.” It was true, the woman could command a gathering anytime she wanted. Finley respected her for that. She grabbed another apple, she maybe should have been saving some to share with the others, but they were so tasty.

Played by PuppyThief who has 364 posts.
Paradise Falls V. Subordinate
Flair Smoke-Athesila

She’d always had a sweet tooth, and it was a rare thing to find such a treat, especially this late in the year. So, it didn’t take Flair long to catch up with Finley and grab her second apple, hardly even noticing the bitter after taste as she chowed down, not at all concerned with keeping neat in the process.

As warmth spread through her muscles, she felt them relax, her tail even starting up a faint tap against the floor. She smiled at the younger woman’s explanation, not bothering to wonder any further about how the fruit had ended up in here, protected from the frost; Lucky things do happen…

She was settling into a more comfortable position when Finley asked her question, making the fiery woman pause and, much to her own surprise, a hoarse chuckle escaped her. She stiffened for just a moment, taken aback by her own reaction, but quickly shook it off, answering in a light tone: “I wish m’ Da could’ve heard y’ say that.” She shook her head, smiling crookedly; “Guess A’ve always wanted t’ decide fer m’self. But A’ never thought it’d lead me here.” She gave Finley a sheepish smile, half-shrugging; “That’s, until I met y’all.” If it hadn’t been for Fin and her boys, Flair wouldn’t have decided to settle in Kingsfall – in fact, she wasn’t sure what would have become of her.

Pausing to take another substantial bite of her second apple, she debated for a moment whether or not to ask the question on her mind, not wanting to be too forward. But as she swallowed, something pushed her to speak: “What’s it like… Being a mom?”

”Speech" Thoughts
Played by Ghost who has 201 posts.
Paradise Falls III. Mentor
Finley Lennox

By the time the Lennox woman finished her second apple her whole body felt warm and she felt overwhelmingly pleasant. Her head swam a little but not in a way that made her uncomfortable, in fact, it was kind of fun. When was the last time she did something just for fun? The woman let out an out of character giggle, much like a schoolgirl tittering about a crush. Then she flushed at the outburst, before dissolving into giggles again as Flair chuckled. It felt so nice to be carefree and have someone to enjoy it with her.

She sombered for a moment at the question, before letting out a wistful sigh, her eyes practically turning into cartoon hearts with affection. A soft smile pulled at the corners of her mouth ”Oh Flair, it’s everything.” With all the apple juice she had lost all grace to maybe sugarcoat it to the woman who had lost so much. She couldn’t stop talking, ”It is the most joy, and sadness, and fear, and pride, and everything all at once. I’m so proud of them and yet always worrying I’m doing something wrong.” As is often the case with drunk people, or wolves in this case, moods could shift quickly.

Smile turned into a slight frown and she questioned, ”Do you think I should have told Caspian the truth? About where he came from?” She still couldn’t stop, it was all coming out of her, ”I’m afraid if I tell him he’ll want to leave, try to find his real family.” It was a fear she had never dared say out loud and now that it’s out there she couldn’t take it back

(This post was last modified: Jun 15, 2023, 02:21 AM by Finley.)
Played by PuppyThief who has 364 posts.
Paradise Falls V. Subordinate
Flair Smoke-Athesila

A surprising warmth seemed to be spreading in the log, making the dead of winter feel more like spring. Finishing her second apple, Flair licked her chops thoroughly keeping her mouth open to pant lightly. She felt lethargic, but in a pleasant way, like after a successful hunt, with her belly full to bursting. It was the happiest and most relaxed she had felt in a long time.

Listening to Finley gush about her sons made the older woman’s heart writhe with mixed emotions. On one paw, she was so happy to see her friend thriving in motherhood, love and joy radiating off her; on the other, of course, she couldn’t help but think of her own loss and what she could have had – that it should have been herself, experiencing what Fin was. Still, she didn’t begrudge the younger wolf her happiness – she would not wish her grief on anyone – and she too had grown to love both boys, pulling herself out of the deepest darkness for their sake.

So, when the agouti woman spoke of her worries, her friend was sucked in easily, equally concerned with their welfare, Caspian especially. She wanted to reassure Fin, jaws even parting to tell her she was doing great, but at the last minute she paused, her own brow knitting tightly. She felt her chest tighten at the idea of Caspian leaving them; Would he really…? She couldn’t imagine leaving the family she’d found here in the Falls for what might be left of her blood up north – but then, she was older, and she knew them all and the judgement they’d have waiting for her…

Shaking her head a little, trying to put her own feelings aside to focus on the boy, putting herself in his place. “A’ think… Y’re right t’ wait,” she started slowly, having trouble finding the words; “Y’re raisin’ him as y’ own, as Ryder’s brother… When he’s older he’ll understand.” For now, it seemed like it would only bring confusion to the child’s mind, too young to comprehend the complexity of his situation; “Fer now, knowin’ he’s loved is enough.” That was the best advice she could give, and she hoped it would soothe Finley’s worries.

”Speech" Thoughts
Played by Ghost who has 201 posts.
Paradise Falls III. Mentor
Finley Lennox

Knowing that he is loved is enough were probably the most reassuring words that could have been spoken and Finley smiled gratefully at Flair. Then, because her inhibitions were lowered a second intrusive thought pestered her and she almost immediately let it out of her jaws. Grinning slyly she asked, ”Do you want to hear a secret?” The mother was going to tell her friend either way, so she didn’t give much time to respond before she spit it out.

The grin had once again turned lovesick like a school girl when she said, ”I think I have feelings for Jethro, and not the kind that you have for a friend. But actual, real, romantic feelings.” It felt so nice to actually tell someone else about this rather than just keep smothering the feelings down on her own. She never thought that she was going to tell him, he was already entangled with Siyet, but it still felt nice to tell somebody. And Flair wouldn’t tell anyone, would she?

Green eyes blinked innocently at the other woman, waiting for some kind of response to her secret. Really it wasn’t that well kept, she often found herself watching him for a little longer than was appropriate and they spent a lot of time together with the boys. Still, she can’t have imagined anyone would have noticed, he hadn’t anyways.

Played by PuppyThief who has 364 posts.
Paradise Falls V. Subordinate
Flair Smoke-Athesila
 

Finley seemed comforted by Flair’s words, for which she was glad, frankly she was beginning to think she wasn’t making any sense. She felt like her head was full of water, thoughts swimming around in circles, slipping through her grip whenever she tried to snatch one up; What a strange idea… She grinned to herself, all wide and goofy and free, for from the restrained face she usually put on around others. But it felt nice, all warm and cozy here with Fin, able to say anything openly, without consequences.

So, when the younger woman mentioned a secret, she nodded eagerly, single ear perked stiff. She’d never been much for gossip or secret sharing before, but then, she’d never really felt comfortable enough with anyone for that sort of thing – now, free of inhibitions, she jumped on the chance. And boy was it a juicy one! She actually, audibly gasped, eyes growing circle wide as she blinked at her friend. The very idea was so shocking to her, even if she hadn’t been under the influence of the apples, she would have struggled to process it. “Jet? Y’ mean yer in lo-in love… With Jet?” She stumbled, mouth working in between words, mouthing thoughts she didn’t even fully grasp. “Like… Fer real? What’a’ y’ gonna do?” She leaned forwards, almost conspiratorial, although her voice remained at the same, too loud volume; “What about Siyet? An’ what about… about Ryder’s Dad?” There were so many questions in her head, they seemed to tumble over one another coming out of her mouth, too fast for her to properly formulate them. But she was desperate to hear more.

”Speech" Thoughts