[P] The good which lies ahead tomorrow
OOC: Fam, come and meet the littlest Cormier! Backdated to 21st March.

Eliza was sure not to be away for too long, unwilling to make her family – those of them who remained – worry. When she could feel that her pregnancy was coming to an end she murmured to Finlay that she’d return soon. Her silver brother had reached for her shoulder as she turned away.

“Don’t have to do this alone, Liz.”

Liz had tried to look at her feet but they were obscured by a swollen belly. She smiled a smile which tasted bittersweet.

“Yeah, Fin. I do.”

Concealing her terror was something Eliza had had to do for many months now. She didn’t know how to put an end to that and she didn’t want any member of her family to have to witness her brokenness if things went wrong. The memory of her silent-born babies was sharp in her mind as the time drew near and she knew she had to protect her living children from that.

* * *

She was away for one night and half a day – when she thought she was done shedding soft tears of relief and sorrow in the wilds near the Chokehold, she started on her way back to the camp. The small, precious bundle was held snug against her chest where Liz could feel his breathing, quicker than her own but very much insistent on providing life.

Eliza wasn’t sure whether it was her own movement which brought her brother to her, or the whimpers of the newborn boy. Finlay seemed to just appear – perhaps because Eliza’s attention was wholly on her youngest child. He grinned at her and for a moment he seemed like a younger man.

“If I’d known this was what I had t’do t’ make ya smile like tha’ again I’d’ve popped out a pup sooner,” she joked, her voice hoarse.

Fin rolled his eyes and took a long look at the child squirming against his mother’s chest.

“Gonna be trouble, I reckon. I best keep an eye – I’m a dutiful Uncle, y’know.”

Liz tutted.

“You call for ‘em then, dutiful Uncle,”
she croaked, smoothing the newest Cormier’s fur.

Finlay’s call to summon The Shoal was short and bright. It drowned out Liz’s sigh as she wiped the moistness from her eyes with the back of one hand. She brought forth a smile and hope it would eclipse her longing for her mate to be with her.

The nights grew shorter and shorter, and her mother's belly swelled with the moon.

Spring was a season of new life, and their family began to bud and bloom in understated ways. Most of it was just familiarity and comfort, though some of this went away when Milos departed again. Knowing it was of his own volition and for a heartfelt purpose, Willow could not feel sad or scared, but she pined for the day they would all come back together again and stay that way forever.

The Shoal was a placid lake, seeming to wait for something.

Willow thought the birth of its newest members would invoke change again, give them something to celebrate. A new life that knew nothing of sorrow and grief, only love and family - she knew how much they all needed this. In the meantime, she fished, and played with Toklo, and doted on her mother.

She dreamed, too.

Eventually the day came. Her mother walked into the woods, and Willow anxiously repaired her fishing net while Toklo gnawed on an old fishbone and watched her. They said nothing, not even their language of movement and expression, but when the howl came both jumped to their feet and went running.

Willow slowed when she saw Eliza, her eyes wide. Toklo's looked round and giant, too, as he stopped short. But Eliza's eldest continued forward, tears already sparkling on her cheeks, and leaned forward to hug her mother, ever so conscious of the tiny body wiggling between their warm bodies. She took a peek at him, smiled.

Oh, Ma, he's beautiful - what's his name?

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[Image: kr.png]
I took the time to breathe
among the rootbuds and the weeds
but the peat moss and the leaves took turns with both my feet
Sitting with Tak, Norah had a knife and was attempting to learn to whittle. So far, she was having very little luck making something that looked like more than just hacked up wood. Since Tak couldn’t whittle, he was of little help, but the good news was that she had not yet cut herself. They both counted that as a win.

With a sigh, Norah set down the thick piece of wood that was missing several haphazard chunks. She was just in time to hear Finlay’s call and her head shot up. Tak was already on his feet, and she grinned at him as he helped her up.

“Let’s go,” Norah said, taking off at a trot. Tak kept up with her easily and they soon came upon the others who were already gathered with Liz. Norah peeked between them to see the new puppy.

“Aw, look how cute!” Norah said, inching a bit closer to get a better look. She kept her voice quiet, not wanting to disturb the little guy even though she was pretty sure he could not actually hear yet. No use in taking chances, though.

As she straightened up, she felt Tak’s hand on her back, and when she looked up at him, she was surprised to see a look of longing in his eyes before he quickly wiped it away to smile at her.
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<span class="myst-sig-title">NORAH</span>
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<div class="myst-sig-links">
<a href="http://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Players.Myst">player wiki</a> <span class="myst-sig-dia">♦</span> <a href="http://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Characters.NorahMorelli">character wiki</a> <span class="myst-sig-dia">♦</span> <a href="https://soulsrpg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=29642">gallery/credits</a></div>
OOC: Other Shoalsters can still jump in <3

Many things had not felt right to Eliza since Krokar had been dissolved in smoke and ash: from the glaringly obvious in Milos and Daisy’s disappearance, to Logan’s absence from the rest of the family; the large chunks of time spent idling when Liz would usually have been tending the caribou or cooking for pack mates. There were much smaller things, too, like the spark of some unspoken witticism in her brother’s chocolate eyes or the way Cora took more time over her speech. There were some things only a Mother, an Aunt or a sister would notice.

Milos not being here for the birth of his newest puppy felt like the greatest wrong even though it had been the right thing – for him, for Walker, for their Mother. Eliza had tried to stop Milos going off to be the hero he was once before and it had almost broken them for good.

If there was any certainty left in the world - in Eliza - it was that she needed to hold onto her faith in Milos and in them as devoted partners.

She tried not to brood on the things that felt wrong as she stood there. Even bolstered by Fin’s quiet, strong presence, Liz could feel her toes curling into the ground and one fist clenching where it rested against the tiny infant’s back. Finlay touched her arm and when she looked up at him his brow was pinched.

“S’alright,” she muttered.

The first to emerge from the sound of singing water was Willow, followed closely by Toklo. Though the young male whom Eliza had barely had time or energy to warm to held back, Liz made an effort to catch his eye and give a wag of her tail. Her eldest daughter was no bad judge of character.

Eliza smiled at her daughter and held out one arm to embrace her. “Glad yer here,” she breathed. Many things had felt wrong for the past half a year – but getting to introduce her first child to her newborn last felt right to Liz.

Looking over Willow’s shoulder, Liz caught the shaggy shape of Norah with Tak barely a foot away from her. A chuckle worked its way into the Cormier woman’s throat.

And then came Cora, inching out of the trees with wide cornflower eyes. She moved quietly, smoothly, to the fringes of the gathering and from there she watched like a hawk. Her eyes never left the pup in her Mother’s arms but they were not filled with apprehension or malice. Liz watched her for a few moments before clearing her throat.

“His name,” she purred, “Is Thistle Cormier.” She blinked, looked around at her family, blinked again - her cheeks glistened. “’n’ I’m so glad ‘e’s got ya all.”

“Damn w-w-right he has, Ma!”
Cora piped up, a firm smile on her muzzle.

Crouched at the edge of where one element met the other, shaggy elbows resting on shaggy knees, a young man gazed into the thawing tributary and thought about change.

It had only been a handful of moons since his life had been upended, and everything that he knew and held dear scattered to the winds of the big bad world. Oh, how drastically different his life had grown since then The Fall. Before, he might have aspired to follow in the pawsteps of his prominent parents and climbed the ranks to hold a meaningful rank of his own. He would have learned about diplomacy and strategy and defense and he would have continued honing his basic survival skills, careful to focus on those important to Krokar – fishing and trading and spirituality – while also ensuring proficiency in other abilities, such as hunting and trapping and foraging.

Now, it seemed to Percival Parhelion, most of his energy was spent on basic, dog-eat-dog survival alone.

"What're ya brooding about?"

Percy blinked and furrowed his prominent brows. "I'm not broodin'."

The response from his monotone littermate was a sharp laugh that encouraged Percy to shoot her a sharp glare with a snap of his head. "Yeah!" she barked. "An' I ain't a bitch."

Thankfully (or perhaps unfortunately, if Daisy had anything to say about it – she so loved to goad her dear brother), the cry of their uncle sliced through the early spring air as sharp as a knife and both siblings lifted their heads. Percival rose quickly. "Ma," he said unnecessarily another word, both of them raced off to the sound.

They arrived just as Eliza was revealing the newest family member's name.

"Thistle?" Daisy remarked with approval, her grin crooked as she looked from her little brother to her mother's dear face.

Percival approached more quietly, his smile warm and his eyes adoring. He looked upon the small boy a long while before lifting his eyes to Eliza's face. "He's so perfect," he said with some pride, as though most children born were not so complete or whole.

Tearing his eyes away from the his mother and new brother, Percy glanced at the rest of his family and held his gaze on Willow – his oldest, most respected sister – and broadened his smile. Then he returned his eyes to Eliza. "We'll teach 'im ev'rything he needs to know," he vowed, thinking his family would agree.

[WC — 413]

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The bone made needle pricked her digit. Blood wasn't drawn, but it still agitated the coydog. She was working on a new outfit for her dance routine at Biff's and this one she was taking her time with. She found the red to be pretty flashy and so she decided to have some more red outfits in her collection. She also planned on getting some green ones in her collection as she thought the green accented the browns in her coat.

Just as she was threading in the trinkets she made in trade, a howl caught her ears. It was Eliza's brother, and she knew what the reason had to be. Putting down her sewing, she ran off to confirm that Eliza brought in another life.

For a moment, she felt like a puppy again as she saw everyone around...and she was the last to show up. Her anxiety hit her in the stomach for a moment and her ears went back. Shyly she approached to see the small life nestled to Eliza.

He is so small... She thought. He appeared so fragile to her, and when Percival spoke, her eyes began to water. She didn't understand. Inara felt so overwhelmed at the sight of new life, she couldn't help but want to cry. Her eyes looked to Eliza with the look of joy, worry, and appreciation. Inara felt a stronger desire to protect her family, but in order to do that, she'd have to continue with her self training. Soon she would be at the level she wanted, and once she was, she'll protect the Shoal with all of her might.

She wiped her face then looked back down at the precious new life. Inara wanted to touch him...feel his new fur, but she was so scared. He looked so fragile to her. Her brown eyes looked back up to Eliza, "...may I touch him?" She asked her tone so soft, fearing she'd disturb the puppy if she spoke any louder.
[Image: inara-derp2.png]
*Please note that the Images are Artist Interpretation of Inara's actual outfits <3 *

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