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sharks and danger — Dead Empress Backwater 
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Played by Cade who has 101 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater VIII. Subordinate
Asmund Ingerssen Valle
Random Event: A mysterious fog rolls over Relic Lore. For @Viorel only.

Before Asmund stood the outer world, a place he had only been once before. Every moment punctuated by terror. It coursed through him now, threatening to shake his bones and force him backward. Viorel was with him though, and that gave him just enough bravery to keep going. Even as the fog rolled in.

It seemed ominous, but in a way, Az was just as scared of turning back. What if this was the only chance he gave himself? That his fear gave him? If he backed down now, maybe he'd be walking away from his only opportunity to be anything more than the boy always hidding within the bushes. The yearling swallowed hard, and looked over his shoulder at the older Valle for reassurance.

He had explained to Viorel what he'd wanted to do, and he didn't want to disappoint him either.

Tap into your Valle side, Az.
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

When Asmund had approached the Valle man and explained that he wanted to cross the border he had been surprised. The teen hardly ever left pack territory, and the last time he had gone he had ended up lost until he had been returned by wolves from the Ridge. Still, he understood being curious and wanting more, a wolf was never meant to be fully confined to a pack territory and it was time for the boy to face his fears.

So Viorel had agreed to support him in whatever way he needed. It seemed he mostly just needed backup, an extra set of eyes looking out for any danger, and some muscles to battle any foe they might cross. The day had ended up eerily foggy, making the air feel close and still and reducing their visibility but Asmund had decided to continue anyways. The leader nodded once encouragingly when green eyes met his, ”You can do this Asmund.” Even if he just took one single step across and then changed his mind, they were making huge progress.

For just a moment the leader looked away from the boy to scan the area for anything that might be frightening. He was reassured everything was fine and this outing would go well and he focused his attention back on Asmund, not wanting to miss this milestone.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Cade who has 101 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater VIII. Subordinate
Asmund Ingerssen Valle
Viorel gave him what he looked for, clearly taking his roll as guardian seriously. Az was ever grateful for it all. He swallowed and looked forward again, taking only a few moments longer to ensure he'd gathered all the courage he contained. With a deep breath, he took six long, determined strides forward. Each counted, before his muscles freezed up again and his bravery began to drain. It was creepy out, and- something small scuttled abruptly through frost-encrusted leaflitter and he jumped, legs splaying for stability while his fangs bared and a snarl burst from his chest.

His eyes darted all around and he turned in a tight circle, taking in deep breaths. Ensuring it was really just a rodent of some kind, maybe a bird? He'd stood his ground for all of about twenty seconds before moving to sidle up to Viorel's side. Asmund was grimacing, but he hadn't run yet, and that was a big victory in itself.

"... can..." he hesitated, dreading the answer to this particular question. So many of them constantly ate at him, but he wasn't sure if hearing Viorel's response would actually help. There was only one way to find out. Az cleared his throat and tried again, purposefully searching their surroundings with his beryl gaze instead of looking to his caretaker.

"Tell me honestly, please. Has anyone come across him since-... is he still out there?"
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

For every two steps that Asmund took the Valle man took one of his own, allowing for the teen to have plenty of space but not allowing too much distance between them. On the off chance something did happen he wanted to be close before any more trauma could befall his ward. When the small outburst happened the salt and pepper wolf took a much larger step before seeing the boy relax a little at the sight of something small scurrying away in the leaf litter. Just a vole out preparing for winter and startled by the sight of the wolves.

Then he came back to his side and Viorel smiled proudly at him. Maybe Asmund didn’t quite realize, but even where they stood right now was a couple of feet over the territory line. He was still outside the bounds of what was “safe”. It might as well have been a mile as far as the leader was concerned.

The question wasn’t pleasant and the smile drained away, replaced by a much more serious expression. He looked out into the fog again before shaking his head sternly, ”No signs of him at all, nobody has seen or smelled him since that day.” He paused, shifting on his paws, not sure how to answer the second part, ”He could still be out there somewhere - there’s no way for us to know. But, I honestly believe if he planned on coming back he would have done so already.” After all, why wait this long if he had any intention of reappearing? Besides, Viorel had made himself more than clear that returning here would be the death of the loner.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Cade who has 101 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater VIII. Subordinate
Asmund Ingerssen Valle
I'M STILL BREATHING, I'M STILL BREATHING
(I knew what I wanted, I went in and got it, did all of the things that you said that I wouldn't)

Az continued to trust and believe in what Viorel said. Even though he'd rather the terror's corpse had been discovered by now, this was the next-best scenario he could hope for. While never completely, Asmund still visibly relaxed a measure, head raising just a touch higher and prickled hackles starting to lower.

Of course, maybe the monster knew that if he stayed away long enough, eventually their guard would lower. Maybe that was part of the horrors he was determined to inflict, waiting until Az at last found a sense of peace to return and shatter his world all over again. Or maybe he had really gone, but it was because he had found Llinnea. Maybe he'd torn her apart and finally been satisfied. He could picture his sister vividly in his mind's eye, covered in blood and using her last breath to convince the devil that Az was already dead.

His demeanor morphed with his thoughts, tensing briefly before deflating completely. Even if Rayjiek never returned, the damage he'd done would always be there. Even if Asmund somehow moved on from his fear, he would never have his family back.

"... when Llin left..." his voice was quiet and he hesitated, on the verge of talking about things he'd swore he never would confess to, especially to his leader. What had Viorel ever done to earn mistrust, though? For Asmund, the wolf had only proven over and over that he was here for the orphan just as much as he was his own children. The yearling chose trust, and forged on.

"I told her she was annoying," his voice broke around the words, for the way the siblings had parted, he might as well have said he hated her, "and I blamed her."

Tears burned at his eyes as they brimmed. He would never get to take any of those things back. There was more though, things that were even more sensitive now than they had been that day Llinnea left him.

"And... she said..." he swallowed, picking his words very carefully, "m-... me and @Isla we um... we just, didn't get along. And... Llinnea said... I wouldn't matter, because of it... That you'd let the monster kill me too."

(I told you that I would never be forgotten, and all in spite of you I'm alive, you took it all but)
I'M STILL BREATHING, I'M STILL BREATHING
(This post was last modified: Feb 18, 2024, 12:14 AM by Asmund.)
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

The leader knew that his words were not going to be all that comforting to the yearling, but felt that it was important that he was honest all the same. Still, he struggled with the emotions that ran across the young man’s muzzle and looked away so as to not confront them. It felt too much like looking at his own emotions that he wrestled with every single day. Every single moment since Sephrina had died had been nothing but up and down and down and up and rinse and repeat.

The words that came next surprised him and yellow eyes flickered back to the tawny wolf’s face. His demeanor softened from the usual gruff persona he had these days, and tentatively he reached out to embrace Asmund, if he would allow it. He was quiet, but he answered quickly, ”When people are hurt they say lots of things they don’t mean, and then they regret them later. It makes us feel better at the time, but then we feel worse later on.” He paused, swallowing hard against a lump in his throat, ”I’m sure you regret what you said to your sister. When Archer le - when Archer broke the rules last year and was banished I said a lot of things that I wish I could take back, but I can’t.” Now onto everything else.

This was easier less heavy, and the light returned to the Valle man’s eyes, shaking his head his voice was full of humour, ”Isla is not an easy wolf to get along with,” That felt like an understatement, ”I would never let anything happen to anybody in the pack, regardless of who gets along with who.” Looking at Asmund, and waiting now until the young wolf looked him in the eye he had one last thing to add, ”Besides, Isla may be my daughter, but I’ve grown to think of you as a son - and a father should never have favourites.” The last line was an attempt at a joke.

[Image: s38i5ZS.png]
Played by Cade who has 101 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater VIII. Subordinate
Asmund Ingerssen Valle
I'M STILL BREATHING, I'M STILL BREATHING
(I knew what I wanted, I went in and got it, did all of the things that you said that I wouldn't)

When he'd finished, Viorel moved. Asmund's eyes widened and he'd flinched before he could think better of it, as though maybe the leader were about to physically correct him for bringing up Isla at all. Instead he was embraced, and he had to blink away the threat of tears. He relaxed further, letting the older wolf's words wash over him like warm ocean waves. Instead of scolding or dismissing Az, he commiserated with him, made him feel that maybe these emotions he couldn't fully understand were normal. Viorel even admitted to his daughter's difficulty, and then...

Another surprise. Asmund's head lifted, blinking up at his leader with no small measure of disbelief. A... son?

Father had always been an abstract concept to him. For as long as he could recollect, his mother had told him and @Llinnea that they were only hers; born between her 'and the stars,' she had liked to put it. He hadn't questioned it until last Spring, when he'd seen what came of distinct couplings, when he'd asked the queries that led to learning what it really meant to create new life. Even after, he'd shrugged his own lack of a father off. It was another difference between himself and them, for sure, but he hadn't felt anything was lacking.

It could almost be seen within his green eyes, the pieces falling together to form a whole picture at last. Asmund hadn't needed to want for a second parent, because Viorel had been filling the role from the moment he lost his mother.

He didn't know what to say. The tears came back stronger, this time breaking the dam of his resistance to flow freely down his cheeks. He pushed his face back into his dad's chest.

"Thank you."

(I told you that I would never be forgotten, and all in spite of you I'm alive, you took it all but)
I'M STILL BREATHING, I'M STILL BREATHING
Played by Ghost who has 636 posts.
Dead Empress Backwater I. Leader
Viorel Valle

It hurt to see Asmund flinch away, but Viorel persevered anyway and pulled him into the embrace. He couldn’t blame the teen who had been through more shit in his short year than wolves should have to go through in their whole lives. Sure, his own mother had abandoned them including a fresh cub to chase after another man, but at least she had not been murdered right before his very eyes. His siblings had gone back to the coast because they didn’t share his vision, but they had not taunted him with death before they had gone.

This whole conversation made him feel a sliver of bitterness towards Llinnea that he did his best to ignore. She was just a child, one who was just as traumatized as the boy before him and had lashed out. That wasn’t so hard to understand.

Asmund’s tears pulled at the corners of the father’s mouth, trying to fight back his own mistiness. He managed to stop tears from falling but they were visible in his eyes before every blink and he felt a lump growing in his throat. Pulling Asmund in tighter than he had before, he waited until he could feel the teen’s breathing become more steady and then he murmured, ”We could try going a little further if you would like,” then added, ”or we could just walk the borders for a while.” No pressure, no wrong answer.

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