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I know I'm gonna die in this bed I made — Dead Empress Backwater 
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Played by Flywolf who has 336 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Archer Valle
@Viorel only please


Archer


He'd debated for a long time, and the longer he waited the worse he felt. He didn't want Viorel to think he was coming to him only because he had no other choice... even though that was mostly the truth. If he had any other options... Archer could have returned to the Cove, yes; it was somewhere @Kateri would look for him, if she ever came back. It was somewhere Ally could grow up with family, somewhere with resources without a lot of mouths to feed. It would have been a good option, if only it was safe. Kat had left for a reason.

Finally his need to protect his daughter outweighed his pride, and besides... a part of him still missed home. He didn't know what he would face should he truly be allowed to return. What his daughter would face. But it was worth a shot, he supposed. If it didn't work out, he could always leave.

Archer tucked @Ally away nearby, close enough that he could hear her should she need him, and that he could quickly retrieve her when this meeting was done, no matter how it ended. He padded to the borders, familiar yet strange in his nostrils. Their scent had long faded from his coat and to breathe it in again... Archer shook himself and let out a call, making it clear he was here for Viorel and no one else.

(This post was last modified: Nov 02, 2023, 09:49 PM by Viorel.)

Archer is very haggard and thin; it is obvious he is not doing well.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

The call felt like an electric shock down the leader’s spine. It was surreal and almost painful to hear the voice ringing out across the territory and summoning him to the borders. For a long moment Viorel could only stand stock still as if frozen in time, even after the call had stopped echoing off the trees. Finally yellow eyes blinked himself back into reality and he looked around as if he had only imagined things. It felt like some kind of cruel trick maybe.

The Valle man began to move in a daze, paws moving slowly as if he had been weighted down, bogged in a swamp maybe. The swamp Modesto had accused him of ruling over. That thought was enough to snap him out of it and Viorel picked up the pace, although he hesitated once more as he neared the border. By now he could smell Archer and someone he didn’t recognize, someone young who he could only assume was his grandchild.

Taking a deep breath, the salt and pepper wolf raised his head high and moved forward until Archer was in view. He stopped. Farther away than he would have when greeting even a stranger at the borders but close enough they could talk at a normal volume. He stared at the man before him, so alike to his own appearance in so many ways and for a moment a deep sadness covered Viorel’s features. Then he composed himself and smoothed it back down to something a little more pleasant than neutral. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but nothing seemed right, and so he closed it again.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Flywolf who has 336 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Archer Valle

Archer


Archer waited. For a terrible moment he thought Viorel wouldn't show, that either Eros had lied or the leader had changed his mind - and he didn't think his brother would so blatantly deceive him - but soon that familiar scent reached him and the black shape appeared. He remained distant; distant enough that Archer's stomach sank.

Until he registered the grief on the man's face, which was quickly schooled, but Viorel appeared to remain pleasant. He opened his mouth and closed it again and Archer realized he had to start the conversation. The responsibility rested on him anyway, as the one who'd made the call.

But what to say? What was there to say? How did one start? Archer was tired of apologizing, and it hadn't exactly done him much good the last time. He let his gaze roam over the familiar trees, searched for words, and finally settled on a neutral, "Viorel," by way of greeting. It wasn't as chilly as he might have wanted it to be.


Archer is very haggard and thin; it is obvious he is not doing well.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

Viorel’s eyes followed his son’s gaze as it flitted over the surrounding trees. For a moment he tried to imagine what it would be like seeing them for the first time after being away for months. Would it be relieving? Disappointingly the same? Were there major differences he didn’t even notice because they had happened gradually? He had no idea, and so he stopped trying to guess. It just looked like home to him.

He abandoned his fake scenario and turned back to Archer as soon as he heard his own name. One of his lips twitched slightly, pulling down for just a moment. It was odd to have one of his children address him with his name rather than just calling him Dad. He didn’t like it. Breathing in deeply he responded, ”Archer.” He fell silent again before some part of him kicked in with the reminder that he was the older one here, the father, and that meant he might have to be the bigger person.

Shifting on his paws he tried to find the words, ”Eros told me about…” He trailed off, before trying again, ”I’m sorry about Kateri and your child.” Because he was. Viorel wasn’t sorry for enforcing the pack rules, they had been clear from the beginning, but he was sorry that Archer had paid a bigger price than loneliness.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Flywolf who has 336 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Archer Valle

Archer


The silence stretched and Archer searched for something to say, something more to break the silence and coming up with nothing. What was there to say? He'd let his temper get the best of him. This was a mistake. He shouldn't have come here. He should have taken Ally far away, where even his meddling littermate couldn't find them, somewhere he could make a safe place for them. Maybe join a pack beyond the Lore.

But he was afraid and in the end he had loved his family, and his home, and leaving wasn't as he easy as he'd thought. Thankfully, Viorel began to speak before Archer himself had to come up with something. His ears swept back and he looked away. He'd known Eros had told him, but to hear the man speak of 'his child'... "Andy," Archer said finally, looking back up. "His name was Andy." He hesitated. There was still nothing for him to say. He didn't want to ask, but hadn't he already relinquished his pride in returning?"

"Eros said... you wanted me to come." There. It was something.


Archer is very haggard and thin; it is obvious he is not doing well.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

The salt and pepper wolf’s ears swept backwards and pressed against his skull when Archer spoke once again. Eros had only told them they had lost one, but to hear a name and that it was a boy only made it all the more real. He repeated quietly, ”Andy.” It felt too full in his mouth, like it was a rock he was having difficulty spitting out because of the size of it. He had had a grandson, and he was gone.

His son continued and Viorel’s first reaction was to correct him and say I didn’t say I wanted you to come home, I said you could. But, he stopped himself before the words could even begin to form. What was the point in arguing over what the word choice had been? Archer was here now and it was clear that he wasn’t alone. So, the father made the choice to let it go. He had more to lose here than his own pride.

Instead he nodded, ”The Backwater could be home for you, and your daughter, if that’s what you want.” Eros had told him that, that Archer and his daughter were out there all alone since Kateri had gone looking for medicine. Vanadis had gone looking for something too and never returned. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic, how similar Archer’s life had become to his own.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Flywolf who has 336 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Archer Valle

Archer


Archer eyed Viorel, took in his reactions to the news, to the knowledge that he'd had a grandson and he hadn't made it. To his name. Archer wondered if he would connect the name to Vanadis, how he would feel about that, or how his grand daughter was named for Aleister. It was like a blow, hearing Viorel speak Andy's name, and Archer had to swallow the lump in his throat. It isn't fair, he thought for the thousandth time, but thinking it wouldn't change anything.

Nothing he did could change anything.

He watched as Viorel's mouth twitched, and then settled on the offer. It was different, hearing it straight from the leader's mouth and not through Eros. It almost seemed flat - but then, Archer could admit he might be projecting. His ears twitched back to where he'd stashed Ally. "What do you want?" he said. It wasn't aggressive; he needed to know. Did Viorel want him home, or had he invited him out of some sense of guilt? Duty? Conscience? Archer had to know.


Archer is very haggard and thin; it is obvious he is not doing well.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

What did he want? The leader’s yellow eyes appeared to almost glaze over as he retreated back into himself. It was a question he wasn’t sure he knew how to answer, or even how to begin answering. For just a minute he went back into a feeling of numbness, of keeping everything at bay and refusing to let it in. Then he switched back into the over compensation he had been using to cope recently, it was different, but just as exhausting.

Zoning back in on Archer, Viorel felt himself begin to speak, even though he had no idea what he was going to say, ”I can’t have what I want.” That didn’t feel like enough, though it was honest, he continued, ”What I want is the ability to go back and convince Vanadis that leaving was a bad idea, that it wasn’t safe and she should stay here. Maybe then Sephrina would still be here, and Sharlee wouldn’t have had kids just to abandon them, you wouldn’t have lost your son.” By the end his voice felt raw and the man felt exhausted.

The father stopped himself from sighing, and forced his expression back to being neutral, ”But I can’t have that. So. What is your decision?” That was all that was left to say.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Flywolf who has 336 posts.
Lone Wolf No Rank
Archer Valle

Archer


Archer thought it over, listening with mild surprise. He'd known Viorel was angry with his ma, but he hadn't fully realized he blamed her for everything. He wanted to tell him it couldn't be her fault; she'd been looking for her family, for the children who had left, but that wouldn't solve everything. That blame was the same thing he was trying not to do with Kateri. Only, he had a direct cause to blame her. She'd left while their son was sick. If she'd been there to help him, maybe he would have survived.

But Archer couldn't deny the similarity between Viorel's answer and his own thoughts when Eros had asked him the same thing. He took his time in answering, choosing his words carefully. "I am willing to try," he said. This was his family, after all, and of course he still loved him... even if he was angry. The anger had simmered down by now, but there was still that hurt that Viorel had chosen the most nuclear of punishments for a moment of indiscretion. "I want my daughter to have a good life. If you'll have us, we'll stay, but-" and here he straightened, "Consider it a clean slate. I won't tolerate either of us being treated as lesser. Ally ought not be punished for my poor decisions, and I think I've paid my price." And he would fight whoever said otherwise.

The bolster left him quickly, however, and he sagged again, eyes dropping to his paws for a moment before glancing back up at Viorel. "And... I can't take it back, but I'm sorry. For the things I said." There. An olive branch.


Archer is very haggard and thin; it is obvious he is not doing well.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

If the Valle man had any idea that Archer would interpret his words as placing the full blame on Vanadis he would have corrected him. Informed him that while he was bitter that she had missed all of the heartache and left him alone in his grief, he knew it wasn’t her fault. It was just the moment he could point to where his life had taken a turn and everything had seemingly started to pile up at once. But he couldn’t read minds, so he had to assume his point had been made

He was silent for a moment, listening intently before a small smile played across his muzzle and he nodded. ”I think those terms are more than fair,” he had been the one to say to Eros that Archer had more than paid the price for his wrongdoings. The father had thought they would struggle a bit, but ultimately make it work as he had done with his first litters. Maybe they would have gone up the mountain or two the Ridge but the death of a child was not something he would wish on anyone. Not even the Cove.

He moved forward, to gently brush his sides against Archer and mark him as one of them once more, ”Welcome home Archer.” Then he stepped back, his voice hesitant, but hopeful, ”Can I meet her?” It felt like a monumental step as he followed behind his son to meet his grandchild, something he felt both too young and too old to already have. Baby steps.



FADE
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