[P] A Heartbeat at My Feet
Mayta - Zasha/Aly

Today was already turning out to be a great day.

It had rained early, but wasn't raining now, so that meant there was plenty of mud to jump into. From paws, which were way too large for his body, all the way up to his belly, that hung round and full, Kazimir was coated with mud. Splashes and splatters, dots and spots, were worn on his pale coat like trophies, and with his head held high and his eyes determined, he marched forward and on, at the command of his older sister and his spitfire of a littermate.

Aly, now she was a rough and tumble firework, and she demanded things of Kazi that he was not want to do on many occasions. When he was feeling far more solitary than his littermates, Alyonna seemed to know, and by tooth and claw, she managed to drag him out of his solace into a scrap. He never backed down from their tussles, and if you'd ask him, he'd won them all.  Whether that was true or not, was another story.

And Zasha? Well, she was a frequent figure in his life, up until recently. It seemed that she either had things much better to do than bother with Kazi, but it didn't curdle in his heart. Truth be told, he was happy to have some time away from another doting guardian. When she seemed to start to inch her way back into his life, he wasn't terribly concerned about why she was gone, though he did miss being able to sink his teeth into her.

As the thought crossed his mind, he turned to find the older sister that had invited them to explore the fort. For a moment, he eyed her hungrily, until his paws caught on his toes and he tumbled down and rolled across the ground. There, he gave a small whine, for the opportunity to end up in Zasha's arms. In the background between the sounds of rustling leaves and the touch of wind through them, the din of the fort echoed, disembodied in the perception of the young boy.

Taking a step back from big sister duties was necessary as she dealt with the horrible fallout with Caspian, she didn't trust herself alone, much less in charge of her little brother and sisters. Thankfully that time had passed and thanks to some talks with her momma, daddy and brother, she was starting to feel like her old self again, at least for the most part. Now she could start being who she was meant to be, and spending time with her younger siblings again.  Today was no different, and she had taken the opportunity to take the spitfire runt and rolly polly Kazi for walk and to play around the Fort. 

The day had started with rain and Zasha was worried they would have to postpone their adventures for another day, but by the afternoon the droplets had stopped falling from the sky, leaving a pup's dream playground all around.  Mud puddles covered the trail toward the destination and the older Hushhowl took to opportunity to be a puppy again, running and jumping in the puddles with Aly and Kazi.  The white diamonds on her feet, were no longer white, but a reddish-brown as mud clung to her pelt.  As she jumped droplets of mud sprayed not only her but whatever pup was close to her at the time. For the first time in a very long time, she had joy in her heart and a real smile and laugh.

As the trio drew closer to the Fort, she came across a giant puddle.  Full speed ahead Zasha jumped as high as she could landing dead center as muddy water went flying all around. Holding her tummy she doubled over in a laugh, until she heard a whimper come from behind.  Immediately the young girls temperament changed and her blue eyes filled with panic for a moment as she turned about so quickly her braids almost hit her in the face.  There not too far back, was the cuddy light furred pup splayed out from tripping with Aly laughing in the background.  Within seconds she barked at her little sister to knock it off, as knelt down by her younger brother picking him up and cradling the boy in her arms.  With a few soft licks to the muzzle, the reticent nuzzled into the boy making sure he was okay.  While the pups were definitely getting bigger, she was not about lugging him around if she needed to. 

You okay Kaz?  Didn't hurt yourself did ya?

Of course the boys safety was important, but the last thing she needed was to be in trouble with momma and daddy cause she brought a pup back injured.  Without seeing any big injuries, Zasha gently placed the puppy back on the ground,

Ready to continue on?

Views of Aly rolling her eyes caught her vision but she chose to ignore it,

Come on you two, still so much more to explore!

This time older Hushhowl let her sibling run ahead of her, maybe this way she would be able to keep a better eye on them and make sure the two didn't wander too far. 

After just a few minutes they had arrived at the Fort gate, placing her hands on her hips she smiled and looked down at Aly and Kazi,

Okay guys, where to first?

Word Count 568
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[Image: Kazimirpub.png]There was the fringe benefit of Zasha giving Aly a sour look that turned into quiet glee within Kazi's young soul, but the ultimate prize at hand came with his elder sister put her hands on him and cradled him gently. Lifting his lips with little growls, he aimed to spin around in her arms and sink some ivory into his sister, but her doting tongue and comforting nuzzle stayed his menacing. At least, for only as long as she embraced him. As soon as she held him away from her to put him down, he was growling and snapping again, but it wasn't to be. His paws found the earth and dejected, hungry teeth would not yet be satiated.

Rather than make more fuss to be picked up again, Kazi stood tall and marked his tail high. He would be victorious yet today, and Aly's little laughs would only fuel the fires of his sly tactics.

When Zasha voiced for them to follow, Kazimir lingered for a moment before finally taking his paws under him at full flight. He slipped and spilled himself over, but rushed to put himself back on his feet and charge ahead again. He'd get to the Fort first, before Aly and Zasha, and claim his victory as the fastest. Upon slipping over a stick in the ground, eager teeth couldn't wait, and he bit down on the stick that was tucked into the earth. He hadn't realized that they were so close to the fort, and had completely forgotten about the race he'd only just started.

The blue eyes of his elder sister looked down at them, and Kazi stood up. His head darted one way, then the other, and with so much going on, there wasn't one thing he could single out as far as where to go. His lower lip jutted out as the gears started turning in his mind, and he needed to think of something fast before Aly decided to do something boring, or so he assumed she'd do. When golden hues set on the guard tower that was not far off, rather than ask, he darted off at slippery top speed, barking wildly and ensuring that everyone knew he was here.

It was hard for the older Hushhowl to remember what it was like as a young pup, she had tried so hard to hold on to that fire and fun, but after everything that had happened, she couldn't fathom being an innocent puppy, sheltered from the horrors of the world.  So when her younger siblings tried to attack or bite her in play, she let them, and rolled around and feigned injury so that they could climb on top of her, it was fun being a big sister.

Now that the trio had arrive at the Fort, she left it up to them to decide what they wanted to do or where they wanted to go.  The two of them sat and contemplated a moment and just as her mini me was about to say something, Kazi took off in a sprint, a puppy sprint, but a sprint nonetheless, barking so loud that everyone in the Fort could hear him.  Shaking her head she just looked down at Aly who now had a pouty face as she plopped to the ground in a sit.  <Not fair. Hmph.>

Tell ya what, you can pick next, and you can make Kazi do something he doesn't wanna do.  Deal?

The dark furred pup thought about it for a moment before finally giving in and chasing after her brother.  Zasha could only laugh at their puppy antics trying to imagine what kind of volatile relationship they may have when they were older.  Jogging to catch up, the barking trail led her to a nearby watch tower, typical boy… she thought to herself.  Reaching the two pups, she kneeled down between them, looking back and forth to them.

Last one to the top is a rotten egg!

Taking one slow motion step, the pups charged full speed ahead, a giant smile on her face she gave them a head start, they would have trouble getting up all the stairs.  Built for speed, it wasn't long before Zasha caught up with her younger siblings who were starting to get tired and struggling about half way up.  Coming up from behind, she leaned over and scooped up a pup in each arm, letting them dangle she sprinted to the top of the tower.  Panting heavily as they reached the top she dropped them with a thud,

You guys are getting too big…

Placing her hands on her hips she looked out from the tower, it would be prettier on a fully sunny day, but the view wasn't bad today either.  Patting the wall, she invited them to put their front paws up, luckily there was an old wooden box turned over that Aly could use as a boost.  Pointing out in the direction of the Hushhowl dens,

Look, from up here you can see our home in the distance! Pretty cool huh? Too bad we don't have winds or we could just glide all the way home!  But we don't, so don't try it!

Zasha laughed nervously imagining having to explain that situation to her parents, they might ring her neck. 

Finally able to catch her breath and enjoy the view before the pups got bored, she began to wonder what other adventures Aly and Kazi would like to get into today.

Alright, since Kazi picked this, how about we let Aly pick the next grand adventure!  So Aly, what's it gonna be?

Not really sure where she might choose to go, she was curious, but she didn't have to wait long for the answer to present itself.  <I want…where do they keep the swords and stuff!>

The armory?

Oh boy, this could get interesting, two young pups around sharp pointy things, what could go wrong…<Yeah! That…the arm…the arm thing!> And before Zasha could recommend something else, Aly was charging down the stairs, and the other two were trying to keep up. Luckily Aly didn't know where to go and had to wait at the bottom of the stairs to be lead there. 

Okay, I can take you, but there will be ABSOLUTELY no rough housing and you have to stay by my side.  Deal?

Word Count 724
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[Image: Kazimirpub.png]Kazi was already gone by the time that Zasha and Aly had their little conversation, and he wasn't privy to the concept that they were taking turns. That, however, wasn't a problem for now. Now was the time to inspect the guard tower and see exactly what the big deal with the massive construct was. As he looked up, his feet caught each other beneath him, and he stumbled to the ground, only to roll back onto his behind with golden eyes staring up at the tower.

Zasha then kneeled between them, and Kazi's head whipped to her. As her challenge was offered, he looked to Aly before jumping to his paws and taking off as fast as he could muster. When the first step came, he climbed it triumphantly, but as he clambered higher and higher, his vigor was fading away, but not with his determination. Tired little legs struggled up another step and his balance was beginning to waver, but suddenly, his paws left the steps. Lookingaround, he found his sister Aly also flying up the steps, and looking up, he spied Zasha's features above.

Little paws paddled at the wind that her rushing created, swimming through the breeze as if it would get him there faster that Aly.

Once at the top, he was let to the ground. He was almost completely sure that his paws touched the top first, and he paraded around the panting Zasha in a circle of pride. The little celebration was short lived as the pat of his elder's hand persuaded him over. Paws up, he leaned on the guard wall and peeked over the edge. Golden eyes watched the horizon for a moment, before dropping to where the Hushhowl Dens were, at Zasha's gesture.

The idea of flying home was planted into his head before he'd ever had a chance to summon it of his own accord. Peeking over the edge, he looked down at how far it seemed and a little gulp found his throat. That was something he wasn't willing to test, even if it would have been the perfect opportunity to defy his elder sister.

At her declaration, that it was Aly's turn to decide where next to go, the quiet Kazimir plopped back down on his feet and turned to face the two females. Aly's young voice chimed up with something that caught the pale boy's attention, and enthusiasm grew back on his features. The armory. That's where they kept all the cool stuff!

When his littermate set off, Kazimir followed in her paw prints not much listening to the rules made behind him, charging down the steps as fast as his legs could carry him. Or probably faster. Toes caught on the edge of another step and had him tumbling down a couple of feet, onto the ground. He landed in a pile, his jaw flat to the earth and a huff erupted from his lungs.

It took him a moment to gather himself up, and the little black bottom lip slipped out form his pale muzzle. Eyes near glossed over as he sniffed, trying his best not to let a sob slip out of him. Turning his head around, he looked for the older Zasha with big eyes.

Zasha grimaced and whimpered as the scene played out before her, white and black tumbled over itself landing with a thud as the pup's muzzle slammed into the ground. As her feet hit the ground she jogged over to find out if Kazimir was okay kneeling down beside him, she glared at her hellion of a little sister who had promptly started to laugh and roll around like an idiot making fun of their brother. 

"Knock it off Aly."

The tiny dark furred Hushhowl groaned at sat up sticking her tongue out at her littermate. Zasha sighed and turned her focus to the monochrome pup, her brows furrowed in concern,

"Kaz, you okay buddy?  That was quite a tumble."

Inky hands reached out and stroked the pup's head, drawing him close for a small hug, but making sure to keep any fingers away from the sharp puppy teeth, just in case it was a ploy.  She doubted that was the case as she saw the boy's muzzle hit the ground. Out of the corner of her eyes, she caught Aly rolling her eyes, Zasha whipped her head around and barked angrily,

"Keep it up Aly and I'll take you home right now and just show Kazi around the Fort."

With a growl the mini Hushhowl turned her back towards Zasha and sat down hard on her rump until they were ready to make their way towards the armory. Blue hues peered down at her brother with a caring smile,

"Okay, you ready?"

A little while later the three of them stood before the courthouse steps, Zasha looked down at her siblings and smiled,

"Okay, remember what I said, you can look, but NOT touch! Or you'll get us all in trouble and they'll ban us from coming to the Fort ever  again! You don’t want that do you??"

Of course that may have been a little drastic, but the puppies didn't know that.

Word Count 341
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[Image: Kazimirpub.png]Aly was told off for her laughter and Zasha came over to Kazimir to check him out. A pet to his head had him almost forgetting the thumping that encircled his mouth. With a sniff and a hiccup, he nodded his head quietly to her question. He was certainly okay, or at least, had to be in front of Aly. Any weakness spared in front of his slightest sister would be preyed upon and he knew it.

Pulled close, Kazimir struggled a bit to get away from the hug, but Zasha had managed to embrace him anyways. The dark-faced Aly seemed to feel some kind of way about all that, and his elder sister was quick to shut her down then and there. Kazi returned the gesture of a mocking tongue as it peeked out of his maw, but it only met Aly's back.

Blue eyes found gold and Zasha asked if Kazi was ready. A slow nod came of him and the three of them were off, again.

The steps rose before him and he looked up their height, absently half-listening to Zasha's rules. Soreness in his mouth was starting to trickle away, nearly forgotten dispite the bruise that bloomed there, as the opportunity to look at Casa's stock of weapons sank into him. Itching to go into the Courthouse, he didn't wait for Zasha's warning to be said before he started up the steps. Much to his chagrin, the door was latched tight, but forelegs rose to lean on it. His small weight just wasn't enough to do anything with it, and he plopped back on his rear to await Zasha's far more capable hands.

It was times like these that he wished that he was shifted. He could go anywhere he wanted, do anything he wanted, without his siblings or the other packmates hampering his path by these awful, immovable doors.


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