[P] Shaken Faith and a Fading Memory
OOC: Backdated several weeks.  Set just north of Clement's Park on east side of Fundy Crossing

Dagon couldn’t believe he was here.  In daylight the place almost had a rugged calm.  Though the pup had only been here once before, the details of the terrain were etched indelibly into his memory.  The rocks which tumbled down to the shore.  The strip of land which jutted out into the loch and where the kidnappers had stood.  There were no bloodstains, and the wind had resettled sand and soil.  It was impossible to see any sign that a skirmish had been fought here. 

Dagon turned to one side and looked up at Nilda.  There was no way the pup would have been allowed to come here alone, besides Dagon doubted he’d have been able to find it.  However, he’d pestered the puppysitter asking if she would bring him, knowing that Tok was still alive and that he still needed their help.  Nilda was crafty, she could make a game so exciting that, for a while at least, Dagon forgot all his jumbled thoughts and lived only for the game.  Eventually play would finish though, the world would intrude again, and he would ask to go to the site.

Dagon sat on his haunches, his tail curling about his bum.  Overly large ears, which still hadn’t managed to stay standing, drooped a little.  It’d only been a month or so, but already Dagon had changed, he was losing his puppy fur, his limbs were lengthening, though Nilda had slowed her pace a bit so he could keep up.  Dagon had been excited to come here, knowing that they’d find clues as to where Tok was, but there were also butterflies in tummy which only grew larger as they finally neared their destination.

Now they were here, and as beautiful as this spot was, it just seemed like any other.  Standing again, Dagon walked over to where he remembered Tok sitting while he’d been tethered, and Dagon lowered his muzzle to the spot.  Whatever scent might have been retained by the land was long gone, and all Dagon could smell was sand, soil and sea salt.

Feeling a stab of grief in his chest, Dagon sat down abruptly, hanging his head and looking at his too big paws.  The pup took a gulp of air, and then another.  Soft footfalls came up behind him, and Dagon didn’t need to look around to see it was Nilda getting closer and squatting beside him.

”Gone!” Dagon said breathlessly.  Sounding as though someone had punched him square in the tummy.  His less than complete command of vocalising in this way making the word sound almost comical. 

A piece of Dagon’s heart had been flung from the cliff the night Tok had disappeared, but the pup couldn’t stop thinking that the piece was missing and not gone forever.  Seeing this place though, the fact the world had moved on, the memory of it fading, made Dagon’s faith wobble.  Slowly Dagon began to shake his head in denial, not wishing to accept the evidence of his eyes.

”No!” Dagon said crossly, looking at the grownup, and angry at her for this.  She knew it’d be like this, this was Nilda’s fault! She was trying to make him give up.  Dagon squeezed his eyes shut, blocking out the world, unwilling to let himself believe that the world no longer had his brother in it.

”Tok not gone!” The words said wit the conviction of denial, though there was a thin thread of real faith though.  Seeing this scene though, his faith was sorely shaken.  Was Nilda trying to make him give up? He would have glowered at the grownup, but he couldn’t, he didn’t want to open his eyes.
Pain was what Nilda thrived on, what she used to propel herself forward into the world. She was watching each member of Cedric and Kai’s litter for how they were handling the loss of Tok. Nilda had watched more so than anything as Dagon began to pull away from her games. She could get him hooked but then he was pulled away from the fun. During stories she’d watch him as he seemed to stand guard. Though his age was drawing near training age for Casa he shouldn’t be that withdrawn.

Green eyes had watched him the entire time they had walked out here. She wasn’t trying to show him Tok was dead, but maybe he needed that. She wasn’t sure herself if this was a good idea and as she shifted as they approached the cliffs she felt the phantom pains from the mostly healed wound. She held out hope and prayed to Fenris to bring Tok back to them, but he was so young and the waters so deep and dark.

Nilda watched Dagon, green eyes followed him as he sniffed. There was nothing there she could have told him, time swept the scent away like it had never been there. There was no scent on the beaches she’d combed, her leg wound hadn’t been properly healing from the amount of traveling. Salt had burned it over and over again as she pushed herself to at least find him. In her short life she’d seen more tragedies than joy it felt like.

She didn’t crowd him as he worked watching the way he moved and how he slumped. Slowly she approached him crouching down to his level; she still chose not to speak. She didn’t look at him aside from out of the corner of her eye. She let him speak and let him feel. There was no wrong way to feel in this situation. Nilda herself felt helpless, she had gone down the cliff as far as she could to try to find him. Jacelyn and Kai had dove into the dark waters. They all had prayed and Nilda had struggled to give up until a little bit ago.

Sitting there green eyes watching the water. She slowly let a breath out as she reached her ink dipped hand out to place on his back. Life was hard and to learn the rules of life or death so young was hard. He had to come to terms with living without a brother and Nilda couldn’t imagine what that must feel like.
For a while, Dagon sat there with his eyes closed.  The sound of the water below becoming all consuming.  The pup could feel Nilda’s hand on him, but the sensation was vague, muted as though the contact was happening to someone else, far away.  His muzzle was filled with the memory of a scent.  Why had they hurt Tok? His large brother was lazy, happy to be napped on.  Tok hadn’t hurt anyone, and always gave up his toys without much of a fight, as though it would have been too much effort.  Back home, in their nest, there was always a cold space, left unfilled.

Slowly, Dagon opened his eyes.  He was surprised at how little he’d cried, but Dagon was too sad to cry.  Not able to face Nilda, Dagon looked at the expanse of water and spoke.

”Not fair.” the pup said, his voice cracking a little.

Dagon loved cuddles.  He loved to rub against family, to be held and sleep surrounded by the warmth of another.  After Tok had been taken, he’d snuggled deep into Ghura and Mahna.  He’d done the same with Uncle Lucian and Uncle Caspian, and of course Nilda as well.  Something had changed though.  The contact brought less reassurance.  It was like a transparent barrier kept them away.

Rising to his feet, Dagon trudged towards the cliff, stopping a little way from the edge.  Dagon knew he knew Tok was out there.  The grownups hadn’t been able to find him, but they didn’t share a heart with the larger pup.  Pan, Lotai, Tor, Tok, Teagan and him, they were linked.  If Tok was gone, Dagon knew he would know it.

There was no fanfare, Dagon didn’t call out or shout.  Instead, he looked over the expanse of water below him, his mind trying to grapple with everything.  That done he looked back to Nilda, her mane rustling around her, her gaze watching him.  His mind made, there was no hesitation either.  Dagon went from standing to sprint as fast any pup could.  An instant later, there was no ground beneath him.  Perhaps Nilda called out, but Dagon was too focused.  For an endless moment, he hung in the air, the expanse of the water below him and disappearing of into the distance.  The leap sent him sailing outwards, and for an instant eternity he was flying.

The water swallowed him greedily.  Foam and bubbles turning the dark waters a milky white.  For a moment, Dagon was stunned, and hung in the quiet, all sounds blotted out, and an insistent tugging whipping him away from where he’d entered.  Thanks to his uncles, Dagon had learned the basics of swimming and he began to kick.  Breaching the surface he spared a glance behind him before swimming with the current.  He had to find Tok, he had to.
Nilda sat there, silence filled the air between them and Nilda couldn’t bring herself to say a word. Her hand was all the language she could give at this moment. Dagon and his siblings didn’t need words and grand speeches, nothing like that could change the reality they faced. Being a solid shoulder for them to lean on, a light to their darkness a way to forget. Dagon though seemed to really struggle and Nilda hoped seeing this would help.

As they sat there Dagon shifted his weight and before she knew it he was in the air out of reach. Her breath hitched as she watched the pup. She felt her breath hitch as her heart beat out of her chest. “DAGON!!!” She screamed. Her hand reaching out to the air her mind knew she’d not grab him but her heart hoped. Watching him she saw Tok being thrown from the cliff. Her body didn’t move for a second before she too was throwing herself from the cliff's edge.

How was she going to explain this to Cedric and Kai. Some pup sitter she was allowing another of the Lunes pups to die in the same sea. She hit the water hard and her body tensed as she submerged into the waters that swallowed life. Ripping her way through the water she hit the surface and let out a gasp before a snarl filled the air.

Bright green eyes scanned the water finding the boy as Nilda forced herself to push towards him. “DAGON!” She called out as she pushed herself towards him. Reaching out to him she moved to grab him. How dare he jump from the cliff how dare he cause her to panic like this.
Water rushed and swirled about him.  He was surrounded by an expanse, the smallest of specks in a vast and possibly endless body that had swallowed his brother.  There was no logic to Dagon’s plan, just a grief stricken and desperate hope that perhaps the water would take him to the same place it had dragged his brother off to.  Using the strokes Uncle Caspian and Uncle Lucian had taught him, Dagon kicked, but it was far more tiring than the placid lake.  Still, Dagon ignored the strain of it, and pushed on, knowing that Tok had to be somewhere, and if he could just swim far enough, he would find his missing family.

The pup was so focused on his mission, he hadn’t realised Nilda’s approach until her hand reached out and grabbed at his foot.  Her grasp wasn’t strong though, and the water made Dagon slippery.  He kicked out of her grasp and redoubled his efforts to get away.

”GO-WAY!” Dagon demanded.

Why were grown ups always stronger? Why would they not just leave him alone? The pup choked back a heave of frustration, his tongue tying and words coming with even more difficulty. 

Nilda’s second grab for him was far more accurate, and her grip much firmer.  The pup knew the grownup would win, they always won. 

”NO! TOK!” He screamed at Nilda, but his emotion robbed him of any ability to speak or articulate anything more eloquently.  He tried to keep swimming, but Nilda adjusted her grip, and the futility of the situation became clearer with each moment that passed. 

Dagon had been so close, he couldn’t let go of the hope.  He thrashed, clawed and struggled, doing his best to wriggle free.  He found weaknesses in her grip and for a moment he dropped beneath the water as he escaped her, but it was only an instant before she grabbed him again.  He fought, struggled, and did everything he could think of to get away.  He was beyond listening to her, to even his Ghura, he just had to get away and find Tok. 

The blow when it came, the world lurch, and instantly drove the fight out of him.  He went as limp as some dead rabbit.  For a moment he was floating face up on the water, oddly peaceful and the edges of his vision blurred.  The pup didn’t exactly black out, but time became a greater deal more fluid, and his next recollection was of being on dry land.  He was laid on his side and his sense crept back tentatively.  Dagon croaked something inaudible, raising his head woozily.  When his startlingly blue eyes focused on Nilda, he rose to his feet and his jaw worked silently.  It was clear he wanted to speak, but frustration and grief had fed the fire of anger and it filled Dagon up so completely there was no room for anything else.  His frame shook, and hackles rose as he blinked rapidly, trying to swallow but unable to find the saliva.

”HATE YOU!” he finally managed his body almost vibrating HATE YOU!” Dagon had never spoken to any grownup like that before.  Swirling sadness at the loss of his brother was being poured to fuel the fire of anger.

”Tok need help! You just-“ again the jaw move silently, and Dagon screwed his eyes shut trying to force words out, but even this one gave him pause ”just…STUPID!” He’d never used that word at a grownup before, but then, he’d never felt like this before.  He wanted to hunt something, wanted to run forever and wanted to cry, and he wanted to do all of those things at the same time.
The water swirled around them and Nilda hated to admit it but she was tiring from fighting the water and Dagon’s slippery fur. He pushed away from her fighting against her and she lost grip of him once or twice as he screamed at her over the lapping water. Once she finally grabbed hold of him. Her heart was beating as she struggled to get a good grip on him before knocking him out.

She huffed as she pulled them both through the water. Her heart bled for him for the pain he felt in losing his brother but that didn’t mean she’d watch him drown too. As she heaved them both onto shore Nilda took a moment to make sure Dagon was breathing. While she was master at hand to hand and with that came vast knowledge of these things she feared since they had been struggling in the water that she had truly hurt him.

To her comfort though he breathed and she felt her body release a chunk of tension as she took a moment to just flop into the sand. Her nerves shot and her muscles burned. She shouldn’t have brought him here, she just wanted to talk with him to help him to see to give him a space to be open. Slowly she sat herself up green eyes watching and waiting for the youth to wake.

He stirred and her ears twitched as he came to. He stood and she could see the tension written in his body. Then he yelled and her ears fell back, not out of fear but sorrow as she watched. Words spewing from him that she was sure weren’t filtering through his mind. She said nothing, just sat there for a moment before he seemed to stop.

There was no sound except for the waves behind them. Then she tilted her head back and howled. No words, only feelings as she sang to the earth around them. Her tone carried sadness, longing she knew his pain and she could not find the words so the woman sang.
Dagon’s whole body was sore, but that feeling was barely noticeable given the agony he felt in his chest.  Anger made him shake with frustration and kept the sadness at bay.  How could Nilda be so stupid? Why would she stop him from finding Tok?  Didn’t she know that Dagon’s brother was out there and needed their help!

Dagon’s painfully blue eyes met Nilda’s expressive green, and for a moment, the pup held his breath.  He’d been rude to a grownup and all the anger inside of him, only let a flutter of trepidation to beat inside of him, wondering how Nilda would react.  Whatever Dagon had been waiting for, it hadn’t been what came.  The pup’s ears shot up in shock as Nilda’s steady and pure tone, with only a slightly vibrato rose into the sky.

”S-STOP!” Dagon shouted, backing away a few paces and turning his back to the stupid stupid grown up.  Turning from her didn’t quieten Nilda’s song though, and as she sang Dagon felt his anger begin to melt, like ice in a thaw.  The pup didn’t want to let go of that rage though, he grasped for it, even as it fled.  Lowering his head, Dagon did his best to close his ears.  Nilda was merciless though, she called her sadness to the sky, and Dagon could feel the song within him.  The pain in his chest changed and his tummy joined in as well. 

Dagon tilted his head back and let out the start of a howl, which he quickly cut, feeling a defiant flare of anger that Nilda wouldn’t be quiet.  The pup refused to look at her and shuffled his butt a little further away.  Why wouldn’t she be quiet?  Dagon clenched his jaw shut, biting down on his tongue, but the pressure in his chest was unbearable.

If Nilda and Dagon had been in a tale-singer’s story, his howl would have been a pure and glorious note, it wasn’t though.  Instead, it was a little hesitant and nowhere near the strength that an adult might obtain.  The first one drifted out slowly, but his will dissolving, when the second one came, it was still a puppy’s howl, but there was no stutter.  When Dagon sang, there was no pause or difficulty as when he spoke.  His wobbly puppy howl called out to the night. 

Dagon’s howl sang of something beyond sadness.  Of not understanding where his brother was.  It called out a horrible loneliness that no number of pack mates could fill.  It sang of things that Dagon wasn’t sure he even understood, or only half comprehended.  Though his fur was wet from the swirling waters, his closed eyes leaked a steady stream of tears.  The pain in his chest and tummy felt like it was all-consuming and all the howl stopped him from being swept away.  All he wanted, all he would ever want, was his big and kind brother back.

[WC - 492]
He fought against her call, she had known he would. Yet it still amazed her as she started again and he turned from her and all she could do was call to the ancients. There in their song that was as old as time itself was all that needed to be said for now. Though Dagon fought her, he did slip a bit and begin to sing with her but his will was strong. She admired him for that. She didn’t relent though and again cast her voice to those long gone calling out like an old friend. And finally like a worn thread Dagon finally joined her. There was no joy in her calling but she was pleased nonetheless to hear him join her.

When she finally allowed them to stop the world seemed so silent. The last of their songs drifted off into the cooling evening air. She didn’t move from her position or try to create closeness until the breeze beckoned her forward. She still didn't speak, not till she was beside him, not looking at him, her emerald gaze on the forest. “You may hate me.” She started her words soft. She knew he probably didn’t mean it in the same way she had once said that to her own mother. “You are allowed to be angry, sad, confused. You can let it all out on me, you can use me to release those feelings.” She stated. “But I will never sit idle when you cause yourself harm.” She added

She hadn’t moved closer though she was beside him she didn’t put herself too close she had given him space. She wanted to touch him but feared she would break down. “I understand Tok may very well be out there just waiting for us to find him. But if you think he wants you to throw yourself into the bay you’re wrong. What would I have told your father if you had died just now. What would I have told Tok when he comes home and you are no longer with us.” She spoke, blinking back her own frustration as she continued to look straight ahead. “We are going home.” She finished. Never changing her soft tone the whole time had been hard as she wanted to yell and wanted to release all she felt but she held it in and would until they arrived home. She would drop Dagon off to his mother and go and show a training dummy or a willing training partner her fury.
Nilda had won.  Grownups always won, Dagon thought bitterly.  The howl had drawn all the anger from him.  Like lancing a boil, the puss had oozed out.  Paralysing sadness had crashed forwards and filled the void the anger had left though.  Dagon’s small frame felt heavy, and he ached all over.  His tummy and chest hurt and though the howl had ceased, Dagon couldn’t stop the tears.  There was nothing artful or pretty about the pup’s grief, it was raw and genuine and selfish.  Nilda had caught him and used her wit and cleverness to defeat him.  Now, he was spent and it was evident there was no fight left in him. 

He listened to the older female move closer, but Dagon couldn’t look at her, he simply kept his head pointed at the ground, tears creating stains as they ran down his muzzle, clinging to his lip before falling to the ground.  His littermate had been taken, and Dagon didn’t understand why or where, and that piece of himself that Tok held, had been taken as well.  Dagon might not understand all of it, but he could feel it nonetheless.  Nilda’s words did get through to the pup though.  He’d not thought of his mum or dad, not really, he’d just wanted to find Tok and bring his brother back.  Perhaps he had hoped that he could find his larger sibling and come back before anyone really missed him.  She was right though.  What if Tok came back while he was searching for him?  Surely though, he’d have come back by now if Tok had been trying to get back at all.

”W-hat’s th-the p-p-point I-n h-hating y-you?  Wh-at's t-the p-point in b-being an-gry.  B-eing c-cross w-won't b-bring Tok b-back.”

His tears continued and her howl had helped Dagon to realise he could get as angry as he wanted.  He could shout and scream until he was hoarse, but nothing he did would make him feel better, and it definitely wouldn’t bring his brother back.

Dagon felt Nilda’s warm hands wrap around his torso, and the pup didn’t struggle or wriggle as he was lifted into the air and cradled against the grownup.  He knew that people would be worried or cross with him

”I d-don't c-care.” he said aloud, realising that if he was told off or punished, it didn’t matter, nothing mattered. 

”I-it h-h-urts all th-e t-time.  H-how d-o y-you make I-t s-stop?” Dagon’s voice was small, and it was obvious there was no fight there, as he spoke, his features partly obscured by Nilda’s fur.

”Th-things aren’t f-fun anymore.” Dagon finished, feeling that Tok being gone made so many things feel....hollow.

[WC - 445]

Forum Jump: