[P] Winter never lasts forever
NC Thread Prompt Challenge Wrote:Complete two threads in any two of our Districts: Othos, Lanya, Osta, or Nethias
Rando Thread Prompt Wrote:It's afternoon near home, and it's warm. Your character is inspecting a strange hole in the ground.
Location: Fort Louisbourg (Osta district) || NPCs: -- || Form: Lupus -> Optime

"Thank you, Mister Ridgewell!" she called from the threshold, hearing his grunted response before closing the door behind her to keep out the worst of winter's bite.

But as she stood outside his home, she was struck by how warm it felt to her. Not warm enough to turn the sheets of sparkling snow into puddles, or even to keep her breath from hovering in the air with every exhale, but warm enough to feel good. Excitement bubbled within her, brought on by Ridgewell's agreement to show her what few things could be foraged for during the winter months and fed by the delightful warmth of a clear, sunny sky.

Feeling the tingle of a sudden and uncontrollable desire to run, Sólveig shifted down to her Lupus form as quickly as her body would allow and, after the last cracks and pops had disappeared, the pale Dawnrunner took off in a flurry of snow. She zoomed along paths and footsteps already broken into the soft snow and plowed through fresh powder, too overcome with energy and happiness to care about which was easier or quicker or more fun. She buried her face in the snow, making imperfect tunnels as she propelled herself forward with her hind legs, and giggled at the feel of snowflakes bursting against the heat within her ears.

She carried on in this manner, loping and bounding and tunneling through the snow, all the way through Fort Louisbourg until her lungs burned and she was damp from head to tail. Panting in the warm winter air happily, Sóli was oblivious to the hole in the ground until her paw found it. With a yelp of surprise, she lost her balance and tumbled forwards into soft, slushy snow, momentarily confused about precisely what had happened and why she was suddenly no longer on her feet.

The hole was small, but it was large enough to swallow up her forepaw and cause her to trip. Sitting a moment until she had caught her breath and had recovered from her surprise, Sólveig began to shift back up to her Optime form, this process taking some time longer than it had earlier. Taking no care to restyle her mane or smooth out the fur that had become disheveled in her play, the young Dawnrunner crouched at the hole and began to inspect it cautiously.

[WC -- 398]

He pretended not to see Sóli trip over who knew what and land in the snow. If he acknowledged that she had tripped, he would have been obliged to go see if she were alright. Instead, he tried to ignore the fact that he had indeed seen her fall. Except his conscious started poking and poking and poking until he could handle it no longer. He grumbled to himself and turned himself from the direction he was heading, fully expecting a nice, quiet day to himself, and then he had to decide to be noble and nice and a good, stupid boy.

By the time he reached where she had fallen, Sólveig was in the middle of her transformation from four to two legs and Dorian was more than content to wait it out until she was done. It was a weird thing to watch and felt almost personal, like he were violating her privacy. But they were first cousins, nearly siblings except for their difference in age. His mother sighed over her mother and got all mopey about it. They were family, so there was no reason to feel like he had done something icky.

Dorian was a boy of endless contradictory confusion.

Sóli stared down where she had tripped and Dorian approached her to crouch near it, too. "It's a hole." That was boring.

Location: Fort Louisbourg (Osta district) || NPCs: -- || Form: Lupus -> Optime

Crouched as she was, her feet planted firmly in the snow, Sólveig lowered her head toward the hole and leaned forward. Gently, she brushed the snow away from the hole until dried, dead blades of grass tickled her fingers. The more she cleared away the snow, the more she could see evidence that something -- maybe a Caledonian, maybe a fox, perhaps even a smaller predator -- had tried to dig its way down into the frozen soil. Unsheathing her claws, Sóli tried to dig a little bit herself, but quickly gave it when she realized how hard the ground was.

Sniffing at the hole, she could scent nothing fresh. There were plenty of the usual smells of familiar Caledonians, with an overpowering musk what she thought was some sort of weasel. And, beneath that and older still, she smelled the distinctive notes of a kind of rodent.

Automatically, her mind began to weave a story of where this hole had come from -- of what had made it and why it was there. Although it interrupted her thoughts, she pleased to find Dorian crouching down next to her.

"Well, I know that," she replied, playfully rolling her eyes. She mentioned nothing of her fall. "But where to you think it came from, Dori?" She let him consider that for a moment while she combed her fingers through her tangled mane, trying to tease it into some semblance of order after the moment of complete and utter lack of control that had lead to this moment here, sitting on the snow, staring at a hole in the ground. "Do you wanna know what I think?"

She beamed at him, her auburn mess of a mane momentarily forgotten as she waited for him to give her his blessing for a little storytelling.

[WC -- 300]

Where did the hole come from? Dorian gave his cousin a look that suggested he really had to wonder about her mental wellbeing. Did she hit her head on the way down? Did she end up jumbling her brains? It was a hole. A hole in the ground. Why did it matter where the hole had come from?

He let the questions stay in place in his mind rather than voicing them out loud to Soli. He doubted she was as violently inclined like some of his sisters could get with a sassy-mouthed brother, but he wanted to avoid any chance of his head ending up measuring the size of the hole. He had a sneaking suspicion that there would have been a chance that's where his skull would have been had it been someone other than Soli.

"I don't know, a meteor?" he replied, unable to truly contain the snarky answers that were nearly always ready on the tip of his tongue. A quick mind and a quicker retort meant the difference between getting the verbal upper hand and being the butt of the joke. But his cousins were nicer, so he sighed to disguise the very quick pang of guilt that poked at his chest from his sassy retort.

"I think you're going to tell me even if I say no, right?" he answered, resolved to the fact he was about to experience a very long winded story about how something - maybe a giant - had stuck their thumb in the mud and it froze that way.
Location: Fort Louisbourg (Osta district) || NPCs: -- || Form: Lupus -> Optime

The bite of sarcasm was plain in his tone, eliciting an unamused glower from his paler cousin. Sólveig was no stranger to snark and derision, for she had a sister of her own and was, in turn, a sister herself. She and Ingvildr bickered and competed daily, and Sólveig could take taunts just as well as she could dish them, although she never meant any true harm and they always made up by day's end.

"What? No. What even is that?" she asked, her frown quizzical now as she tilted her head. That wasn't any animal or god that she had ever heard of before. Maybe something that he had made up, she thought, or probably some fantastical thing that someone older had suggested to him. Either way, between his tone and the foreign word, Sólveig did not take it for a serious guess.

She visibly brightened, grinning toothily, when Dorian's unsolicited guess rang true. "'Course I am!" she chirped, giving her tail a playful wag. "But I wanted to give you a chance, too." This much was true, in part because Sólveig liked to think of herself as fair but also because she valued the ideas of others when it came to the many mysteries of the world they lived in. If he wasn't going to play along, though, she was just as happy to say what she had come up with.

Rather than grand tales of giants, though, Sóli's guess was decidedly simplistic and dull: "I think there's something hiding under the ground," she said, leaning forward to pick a the frozen earth again with an unsheathed claw. "See, 'cause you can smell it, just a little. And I think that something else, like a fox or a weasel or something, I think that they wanted it and so they dug away at it. But the ground's too frozen to get down very far, see?" She scraped a claw against the earth, which held firm.

"Or!" she paused, freezing in place. "Or maybe the hole was made before the ground froze. Maybe whatever was hiding got caught after all and then the hole was just left behind, 'cause it wasn't any use to anyone afterwards. But then it snowed and got covered up before anyone could fill it in. That makes more sense, don't you think, Dori?" Looking up from the hole in the ground, Sólveig found her cousin's face again and wondered what he thought.

[WC -- 424]

Dorian made a face back at her, thinking that she likely thought he'd made up the word if she had such a hard time with it. Admittedly, he only sorta kinda knew what it was, but that didn't stop him from saying it or thinking himself more knowledgeable because of it. He had heard the word more from a story than any serious discussion. What was the story? He couldn't remember, but he was pretty sure a meteor was a rock that fell from the sky and hit the ground. So like a shooting star that crashed, but he didn't think they were quite the same. Rocks were solid and stars were bright. How could a bright thing become a dull rock?

The Savoy boy rolled his eyes at his cousin, but kept his mouth firmly shut against his sassy, kneejerk responses. He opened his mouth when she reached the end of her first explanation and then shut it immediately when she continued on to her second explanation. Dorian looked visibly displeased but he still reached down to scoop away snow as Sóli spoke. His fingers quickly grew cold but her talking was enough to distract him from the stinging chill beneath his nails.

"I don't know, Sóli," he replied, somewhat exasperatedly as he scratched at the earth that had been hidden beneath the snow. "I think maybe the first one, actually. 'Cus if they got caught and they didn't get a chance to dig it up, wouldn't the dirt look more rough? Like they dug it?" He couldn't feel any rough ridges that screamed "this had been dug up before" but it all kind of felt cold to his fingers.

Huffing, Dorian rose quickly and strode to the nearest tree. He grabbed the lowest branch he could and snapped it off, snow and ice clanking and thumping to the ground as he walked back to his cousin's side. He snapped his stick in half and handing one of the halves to Sóli. Then, he started scratching at the frozen ground. "Maybe someone buried treasure?" Maybe more like part of a dead squirrel, more like.
Location: Fort Louisbourg (Osta district) || NPCs: -- || Form: Lupus -> Optime

She chewed on his response with an upward glance, nodding slowly. Yeah, she supposed that made some semblance of sense, although it still didn't seem outside the realm of possibility to her. Unlike his idea. Looking back down at the scratches that her cousin had made in the frozen earth, she leaned in toward the hole and sniffed at it again. But she discovered nothing new, except for the addition of Dorian's unique scent intertwined with the smells of snow, ice, soil, and that mysterious thing that she couldn't name.

"Maybe..." she responded at length, her dissatisfaction laced in her tone. She leaned back, still crouching, and wrapped her arms around her knees, thinking.

When her cousin huffed and quickly rose, Sólveig's eyes lifted and followed him as he approached a tree and snapped off a branch. She frowned, curious and confused. "What are you doing?" she asked, lifting her arm hesitantly to accept the offered stick. Realization quickly set in, however, when he began to scratch at the frozen earth with his half of the branch. Her face brightened visibly.

"Ooo, yeah!" she barked, giving her tail another wag. That was a better idea than his first one and she was much more accepting of it. She began to help him dig, eager and excited. What do you think it could be, Dori?

[WC -- 229]

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