no sun to rise would be okay with me

POSTED: Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:32 am

[708] Set after the encounter with Ciprian.

Drop after drop of blood hit the immaculate snow.

Skoll staggered, but the sleek dark she-wolf pressed into his side to upright him. He took a deep breath and shook his head -- a mistake, as his vision swam in a blur of white. He stumbled again; more blood melted the snow. Dreyma nudged him again.

"Just a bit further."

The pair sought refuge in a copse of dead oaks through which a frozen brook once flowed. Skoll all but fell into the tangled roots of an uprighted tree and turned his head to lick his weeping wound, his low growl's rumbling interrupted with each lap of his tongue. The taste of iron sparked in his teeth.

Dreyma paused to watch her white cat scramble up into the broken branches of the great decaying tree, then came to his side. Her chartreuse eyes studied him for a few minutes -- and he became aware of their burning. Try as she might, the dark she-wolf was unable to control her emotions like her mother, was no masked diplomat.

His green eye connected with hers. He started to sit upright, but red streaked down his ribs again, and Dreyma's nostrils flared as if the scent of his blood was offensive to her. He quirked his mouth at this, and asked flatly, "What?"

Dreyma's ears flattened at once, and she frowned and looked down at the path of still water. Then, lowly: "I thought you said you weren't going to cause trouble."

She was in better control of her voice than her body language, her scent. Fear and agitation bristled under her dark coat; breathing it in fanned the flames of an anger kindled during the usurption -- that roared now. His eye widened in disbelief.

"You thought I was gonna stand there and do nothing when that salaud threatened you --"

She curled her lips back and hissed through set teeth, as if to shush him. His voice was loud in the barren oaks. "I would have dealt with it," she said, with the careful venom he knew her for. "You went at him like a -- like a fucking animal and made things worse."

Her words were harsh, but she trembled. He remembered the look in her eye when the oilslick Ciprian confronted her against the tree, and it ignited his fury again. He got to his feet and glared at the she-wolf. "Don't scold me for protecting you," he growled.

"Well, Skoll," Dreyma turned to look at him again, and her expression -- taut with unease and hurt, but frustration too -- shut him up. When she spoke, it was quiet in the snowy glen, but deliberate: chips of ice. "I'm not yours to protect." She shook, whether from cold or fear or anger, he didn't know. "And, frankly, I don't know when and why you've started treating me like I am."

He blinked, sank back into the snow. She returned her gaze to the brook. It was silent for several heartbeats.

"It's dangerous for all of us now," Dreyma continued. "I need to be with my family and keep them safe and sane. All you should be worrying about right now is your daughter -- protecting her. You know what will happen if you act out." Her green eyes flicked his way. "You can't endanger her like that, especially for my sake."

Skoll exhaled slowly. The fire died, and its embers hissed in the snow, and all at once everything felt cold.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't -- it's not like I thought --"

"I know."
His friend refused to look at him, the curly back of her neck stiff. "I'm going to find someone to patch that up. Don't leave the copse." She rose to her feet, gave her dark coat a shake, then padded away with a gesture to the blue-eyed cat watching them. The queen landed in the snow and chased after the wolf, who looked back just once.

Skoll rested his muzzle in the frost after giving his wound another lick, but for once the taste of his blood made him want to vomit.

He shut his eye so the world wouldn't spin.
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