It won't replace the one we lost

I know, but he needs me

POSTED: Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:30 am

Optime | Wabanaki Coast (forest of Noxweald); afternoon
yNPCs: Skadi & Sindri NPCs: Glade, Einarr, Brimstone, & Jack (+2,630)

Einarr is finally official!

For a summer day, it was rather cool, and there was a prominent, damp scent on the soft, refreshing breeze that promised rainfall in the very near future. The skies overhead were thick with a grey overcast, making it feel later than it truly was. The forest was a shade darker, but it didn’t put a halt to activity. Squirrels and chipmunks skittered about, searching for seeds or nuts to gorge upon. Birds tittered their songs and swooped from limb to limb, others navigated the wooded terrain at breakneck speed as they chased after insects.

The forest was alive and filled with all sorts of new smells, and Skadi and Sindri scampered about, enthusiastically bounding from curiosity to curiosity as they discovered them. Their mother, Ragna, set their course, and the two children did well to not wander out of sight of her. Overhead, traversing the branches, the family’s marten companion, Glade, skittered about. Following after the scout were her two horses, who had been brought along for exercise, as well as to carry the children if they got tired. It had taken weeks of begging from the children before their mother had relented to take them beyond the borders of the Vale, and the adventure that day was the farthest they had ever gone in their young lives.

It had been nearly two months since the death of Steinarr, and his death was proof that the pack’s border offered little in actual security other than to give one peace of mind. So, there was little point to keep her children from experiencing the vastness of their world. If danger wanted to find them, it would find them, be it within the Vale or beyond it.

Still, the mother kept her wits sharp as the family leisurely strolled through the forest of Noxweald. She had her usual assortment of weapons; her bow and her knives. Her extra quiver had been looped around Jack’s saddle. Her ears flickered as she listened attentively to the surroundings, her glacier eyes scrutinizing it all with a sharp and critical eye. Glade did much of the same, though, his view from above allowed him a wider perspective to search for any potential dangers in the area.

She had been sniffing the damp, forest air when Skadi hailed her. “Mommy, what’s this thing?” The dark, slate-grey Eklund asked. She nodded her nose towards a group of bright, orange growths that spread out along the side of a long-fallen tree. They had a frilly look to them, as if having grown in layer after layer on top and beneath each other. Sindri, the more silvery-colored Eklund, came up beside her, sniffing intently at the oddity that his sister had found.

There was a strong musk in the air that made the mother wary. A glance up at Glade reassured her that there was nothing within the immediate area to worry about though. She turned her attention to her children, coming to kneel down next to them and the vibrant, new discovery they had found. Ragna took a sniff, her brows furrowing at the mild scent that reminded her of cooked chicken meat.

No wonder the children had been drawn to it.

Reaching out, she pinched one of the gill-like pieces between two claws, finding it to have a familiar, rubbery-like texture. “It’s probably a mushroom of some kind,” she concluded. It looked fungus-y, growing on the moss-covered log as it were. Ragna had never been one for eating mushrooms or plant life though, so, she wasn’t completely certain.

“Can we eat it?” Sindri asked.

“Yeah, it smells like food,” Skadi agreed with her sibling’s thought process.

Ragna shook her head, “No. It could be poisonous.” Her glacier eyes shifted over to her children, “Remember what I told you?”

“If we don’t know what it is—”

“—dooon’t eat it!” Sindri finished, grinning cheekily with teeth at his sister. His antics earned him a playful, growling tackle from Skadi. They tussled in the leaflitter, snapping and snorting as they played.

Ragna stood up, shaking her head at their antics before she continued onward. Brimstone and Jack waited patiently near the pups. “Come on, children,” Ragna finally beckoned after she’d gone a few paces. Skadi and Sindri giggled and laughed as they rolled back onto their feet and raced to catch up with their mother, chewing on each other the entire way. Lazily, the horses followed.

Their play eventually subsided, and the two siblings went about sniffing and exploring once again. Ragna continue to sniff at the air. She didn’t like the scent that clung to it, even fading as it might have been. The scout considered turning her family around and heading back to the Vale. While she was more than capable of fighting off a Luperci, that was unpredictable, and she didn’t want to risk the lives of her children in favor of some adventurous fun.

The rattling of branches overhead caught her attention, and Ragna craned her head heavenward, glacier eyes searching for her marten amongst the leaves and tree bark. “Ragna,” he chattered down to her, “Probably best head back.” There was a nervous edge to his voice.

“You smell it too, huh?” She asked.

He bobbed his head in wordless agreement.

Turning, her sharp gaze sought her children, “Skadi, Sindri—” Her words cut short as she spotted a small, black figure on the crest of a hill not far from them. She stilled and slowly readied her bow and reached for an arrow. “Glade, come down,” she told him, her tone serious and commanding. The marten turned, skittering to the trunk of the nearest tree.

Her actions and words were noticed by her children, whose heads snapped to what had caught her attention. “Mommy, what’s that thing?” Skadi asked, tilting her head up to the air and sniffing.

Sindri sniffed too, hoping to catch the thing’s scent. “It looks funny.” Indeed, it must have been, standing on its back legs as it was.

“It’s a bear,” Ragna answered in a whisper, raising her bow up and pulling the string taut as she notched an arrow.

Her son’s nose wrinkled. “I thought you said they were big?”

“They are. That’s a cub, probably born this past winter.” Looking down her arrow, it as a curious sight to see. The little bear continued to stare in their direction, oblivious to the projectile weapon that was trained upon it. She wondered if it had ever seen their kind before, or even knew what it was looking at.

Ragna took a breath, and let it out slow, centering the arrowhead on the cub’s chest. It would have been an easy kill. Once less bear in the world that would never grow to maturity and one that she would never have to worry about hurting her pack or her family.

“Are you going to shoot it?” Sindri asked, his brows furrowing.

Her fingers began to loosen their grip to let her arrow fly—




Steinarr laid still on his side, crimson pooling on the heavily saturated earth and grass. His neck was cut, his cream-colored throat dark and covered with blood. Glade laid his head on the large pup’s side, and Skadi and Sindri turned to her with worry, confusion, and fear in their eyes.

“Steinarr won’t wake up.” Skadi said.

“Why he not wake up?” Sindri asked.




She closed the door to her home. Claws raked down the wood from the other side.

“Mommy! Where you taking Steinarr?!”

“Where you going?!”

She could no longer feel the warmth from her son’s body in her arms.




Her chest shuddered as she stared down at the disturbed earth. It looked plain, ordinary, but, it was better that way. With time, perhaps, it too, would be covered in wild flowers, much like Snorri’s grave that was next to his.




The scout suddenly eased the tension off of the string as she lowered her bow. “No.” She swallowed. Her fingers expertly twirled the arrow in her grasp and deposited it back into her hip quiver. “Let’s go. It’s mother is probably nearby.” Skadi and Sindri shared a quiet glance at one another. They gave one last look to the bear cub before turning to follow after their mother.

Glade bounded quickly over the leaflitter towards them, leaping the final distance and scrambling up Ragna’s legs and back as she turned the family around. He perched across her shoulders, his eyes watching the bear cub in the distance before he leaned his face close to her ear. “You okay?” He whispered.

“Tch.”

No sooner had the family made a few paces though did a voice—small and gravely—call out to them.

“Wait!”

Ragna stopped, turning her head sharply to find the little bear cub loping towards their position. Her brows furrowed and the grip on her bow tightened as she partially turned back around. Was that the…?

Glade chattered warningly, “Stay behind, Ragna babies.” Skadi and Sindri did as they were told, though, they peeked out from behind their mother’s legs. Their ears were pricked and their tails were high as they watched the strange creature move towards them. The horses rumbled and shifted their weight.

“Stop right there,” the scout ordered sharply as the cub came within ten feet of her family.

It did so—much to her surprise—its dark face staring desperately at her as it shuffled its paws. “Please, I need help!” It begged pleadingly. Chocolate eyes shifted rapidly between the four predators.

“Where is your mother?” Ragna asked, ignoring the plea. She had never had a bear talk back to her before, but she wasn’t about to let such a minor detail make her lose focus of the danger the lonely cub represented.

“That’s why I need your help! She’s hurt!” The cub cried desperately.

Ragna raised a brow. “Hurt?”

The bear cub nodded quickly. “Uh huh. She fell in a big hole in the ground, and there were these really pointy branches that poked her really bad. She can’t get out!” The cub continued to shuffle its paws. “Please help her! I haven’t been able to find anyone else.”

“Why don’t you call your pack?” Skadi asked, moving from out from behind her mother’s legs.

Sindri moved around his mother’s legs too. “Yeah, like this!” He threw his head up into a puppy-like howl.

The bear cub gave them a confused and broken look as it admitted, “I…I don’t know what a pack is.”

“Bears don’t live in packs,” Ragna interjected, her voice chillingly neutral. This silenced the children, who collectively looked at the ground beneath their paws.

“I need help,” the cub whimpered softly, its voice pleading once more.

The scout stared down the little bear, her thoughts considering the situation they had found themselves in. “…how far is she?”

The cub sniffed, looking up at her. “Huh?”

Ragna’s lips curled a bit. “Your mother. How far is she from here?”

It looked back the way it had come. “Not far that way. I heard voices and came to see.”

The scout’s glacier eyes flicked up and then back down to the cub. With a jerk of her snout, she indicated for the young bear to move. “Take us to her.”

The cub visibly brightened and its posture straightened, turning, it loped a few paces before looking back at the family. “Thank you! Follow me!”

Skadi and Sindri looked up to their mother, and she gestured her consent for them to follow after the cub. “Stay close,” she stipulated loudly and firmly. They scrambled after the bear, sniffing and nosing it with wagging tails.

“So, what’s your name?”

“Uh, Einarr of Cathasach, and of the den of Brynhildr.”

“What?”

“Your name, silly.”

“I told you—”

“What does your mommy call you?”

“Einarr.”

“We’ll call you that then! I’m Skadi.”

“And I’m Sindri. Your name sounds a lot like our brother’s!”

“It does?”

“Yeah! But—oh, we’re not supposed to talk about him.”

“Oh…”

“Hey, are you a boy or girl?”

“What? I’m a bo—woah! Don’t do that!”

Ragna tuned out the children’s babble as she placed a hand over her hip quiver, her fingers brushing over the notched ends. Bears—especially mothers—were not exactly known for behaving rashly when there were cubs around. The child had definitely looked distraught enough for her to believe his tale, however, she kept her eyes and ears vigilant nonetheless.

“Sure this safe do?” Glade whispered lowly to her, his whiskers tickling her ear as he turned to watch the horses trail behind them.

“No,” she grunted, “But I couldn’t just leave him.”

Glade chattered lowly in amusement. He patted her cheek with one of his hand-paws. “Proud.”

Ragna scoffed defensively, “Tch. He’d probably just follow us anyways.” And she had already come to terms that she couldn’t bring herself to kill the cub.

Eventually, the group came upon the place where Einarr’s mother was. The cub raced forward as he caught sight of the edge of the giant hole in the earth. Peering over, he let out a high-pitched grunting sound.

Silence greeted him.

He called out again.

Silence.

“Stay back,” Ragna told her children softly. She repeated the command once more to Brimstone and Jack before plucking Glade from her shoulders and placing him down near Skadi and Sindri. Cautiously, she moved forward, her features cold and neutral as she came to stand behind Einarr.

It was a trapper’s pit meant for large game, Ragna recognized. The walls were steep and completely vertical, ensuring that whatever fell within remained stuck there until the hunter returned to the trap. What was left of what had probably been the “roof” to help conceal it lied in shambles at the bottom of the pit. Leaves, grass, broken twigs and branches, they all laid together haphazardly, sticking up at odd angles, broken and snapped. Blood caked the ends of some of the sticks and pooled in other areas.

In the midst of it all was a large, onyx-furred bear. It was a sow, judging by its slender head shape. She laid awkwardly with a few of the sturdier branches poking through her flesh. Her head was tilted in a lifeless sort of way, the rest of her body looking just as limp. Flies could already be heard buzzing.

Einarr let out another high-pitched grunting sound, edging closer to the edge of the pit.

Ragna let out a soft, shallow sigh. Kneeling, she placed a hand on the cub’s back to keep him back. He didn’t acknowledge at her, continuing his calls. His cries grew desperate, more insistent, before eventually becoming weaker. “…She’s gone,” Ragna finally told him.

“No,” the cub denied in a sob, his chocolate eyes looking up at her. “She was alive when I left to find you.”

“She must have passed on soon after,” Ragna reasoned, “Either way, there is nothing I can do for her.” She stood up, her glacier eyes flicking to Glade. The marten nodded at the silent communication they shared. Speaking softly, he ushered Skadi and Sindri to follow him away from the area. With a final glance at the dead sow and the motherless cub, Ragna turned to quietly leave.

“W-wait!” Ragna stopped as she reached her horses. “Please…” The cub tried to stifle his quiet sobs. “…please don’t leave me alone.”

Ragna Eklund

Mistfell Vale
Whalstray (NPC)
User avatar
Songbird
Luperci Scout II
Do not go gentle
into that good night

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