This is how it feels to be small

Colibri!

POSTED: Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:58 am

OOC: Set the 5th?

IC:
The figure who rushed around a rain-slicked bend in Jordheim could have been carrying the weight of all the worlds, here and the beyond. Ascher's shoulders were slumped, his brows knitted together in a deep frown, and his eyes – usually bright blues with a twinkle of curiousity or a spark of worry – were glazed as if he was deep in thought. In reality, Ascher had run out of thoughts. He had been fretful all night; he would have paced the floor of his home had it not been necessary to remain quiet and outwardly calm. For their sake – because he didn't carry a massive weight on his slim shoulders. He carried a tiny, squirming, mewling bundle wrapped in furs: his newborn children.

Bel and Orvar had slept, peaceful and oblivious, for some time. It was only as dawn approached and Archimedes the owl woke with a loud hoot that the babes had stirred. Evidently, they had wanted their mother, but their mother was gone – off with her partner to who knew where. Ascher had pleaded and apologised a thousand times in those first few whine-filled minutes, between the soothing words which made it out of his mouth and the apologies he was making in his head – to the Gods, to his family, but mostly to his precious offspring.

“I'm sorry,” he whispered again, rocking the armful of fur and newborns gently, the way a mother would. But their Nomad mother was not with them, and they needed someone if they were to survive, let alone thrive. Asch had initially thought of Drin as a motherly figure, his good friend, a mother herself – but Drin's children were grown now, so a figure was all she could be. Shiloh, too. No, they needed someone who could give them mother's milk.

Ascher's knees threatened to knock together as he lifted a hand to knock wearily on the heavy door of the house where he hoped he would find the pack's second-in-command. For once, he was lax on manners and the knocking grew to a pounding within a few strokes. “Colibri? It's Ascher. I need your help!”

[359]
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POSTED: Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:43 am

eeee <3! assuming this is at nier's house, so some mild pping~ :) dis thread gives me muse! [542]

Colibri woke of her own accord. As much as she wanted to remain in the warmth of her mate's arms, it was growing more difficult to sleep through the night. Her bladder was working overtime, and she had to keep slipping outside at odd hours to urinate. After one such excursion this morning - was it even dawn yet? could she call this morning? - she chose wearily to settle in a chair at the table instead, hoping the lumbar support would help her nap.

She remembered with dread how ponderously heavy she had grown during the gestation of her wolfdog litter, and had weakly hoped that this time would be easier on her small frame. Evidently her pure wolf children were large as well, or there were many of them; either way she was feeling the strain in her back and joints, and it would get worse before it got better. As much as it exhausted her, though, she couldn't deny the tears of joy she shed the first time she felt them moving in her belly. She and Niernan never had a chance to decide if they wanted puppies together - it was a surprise, and to her, a godsend. She loved them already, and she was going to do everything right this time. The tired Sannindi nestled her head between her arms on the table and closed her eyes.

Coli was starting to feel like she belonged in this house; this family was welcoming her as one of their own, and not just because of what she was carrying. Their acceptance was everything to her. She was too weak, too codependent, too unstable, to raise another litter all by herself -- the first time nearly killed her, and her daughters had deserved better than what they were stuck with. Some wolves could do it alone, like Saul and Shiloh, but she wasn't one of them. She was so glad she would never have to be again.

The thumping on the door alerted her to a visitor. So much for napping. Coli yawned deeply as she rose from her chair, obediently shuffling toward the door as the knocking increased in volume. Ascher's voice was muffled but clearly distressed, and called for her by name. What on earth could Asch need from her at this hour? She swung the door open, ready to grumble about the intrusion, but froze when she saw the sick look in his glazed eyes. Her ears fell back apprehensively, and her gaze dropped to regard what he was holding.

The bundle in Ascher's arms let out a mewling, squeaking cry, and Coli stiffened in shock. She knew that sound. It wasn't some lost kitten, or fisher, or stray. The unmistakeable scent of infancy wafted to her, stirring an instinctive reaction, coaxing a small whimper unbidden from her throat. She blinked rapidly, barely able to tear her eyes away from the enticing bundle. "Come in out of the cold -- everyone else is asleep," she managed to say distractedly, keeping her voice low as she ushered him through the door. She was staring at the wrapped furs again, itching to unfold the precious cargo and hold it for herself. "D-did you... find it? Or... is it yours?"

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Miyu
Luperci Gardener + Apothecary Mate to Niernan
Colibri perennial gardener memories of dahlias
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POSTED: Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:24 am

OOC: Assuming Coli is living at Nier's now (I did check the Jordheim wiki page but wasn't sure), then yep! THIS PLOT IS MUUSEFUL.

IC:
“Shh, shh,” came the soothing sounds from the frantic father. Ascher's eyes flitted about as if letting them rest on any one thing would somehow burn his retinas. His pupils were dilated; he was barely taking in anything beyond the leaden feeling in his legs and the bundle in his arms; the rest of the world seemed to be whizzing by. He wanted to scream out at it to slow down, to stop, to give him time. But the world was ever moving, in the twinkling of light on puddles, the chilly air pushing at him from seemingly every angle. Ascher was so panicked that the movement he didn't notice was the one happening just beyond Niernan's door.

Ascher's eyes were on the sky when the door swung open. The milky quality to the heavens promised dawn soon – a new day, and one which would be the start of a drastically different life for the nervous Eljun.

His eyes travelled down to Colibri's face, which seemed to be forming a look of annoyance. Ascher would have responded in some way to that look had he not been in such a state of urgent panic. Instead, glazed blue eyes stared at the Sannindi's face, the longest his gaze had held since he'd knocked. Asch's mouth was open, his tongue poking from one side, occasionally taking a swipe over his dry lips. Had it not been for the broken down way he held himself, the listlessness emanating from his scruffy body, he would have looked like a wild thing.

He nodded slowly when he was invited in, his eyes still clouded over. He stepped over the threshold in a daze, barely trusting his legs to keep him upright. It was the bundle he held which seemed to be keeping the world the right way up. He could feel the warmth of the house washing over him, trying to coax his muscles to relax, but it only made him feel foggier. At first, when the Stormbringer male opened his mouth to answer Coli's question, nothing came out except a low whimper. Gulping, he met the Sannindi's eyes and nodded laboriously again. “Mine.. hers. Sequoia. Gods, she's gone, she's gone and she's left me to raise them.” His voice quivered like a feather in the wind but he held tight to his little package of innocence, a plea breaking through the glaze in his eyes.

[403]
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POSTED: Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:46 am

<333! [500]

Ascher obeyed her and entered the house, but he was in a deeper state of shock than she first realized. He seemed barely capable of speaking, and his wandering gaze held no recognition, intelligence, light. He was a shell. Her heart went out to him. Coli pulled the door shut quietly, but contemplated whether she should be calling for help -- Saul was better in a crisis situation, or she could wake Nier, or, or anyone else, really. She was more likely to have a breakdown herself than know how to avert one. But there was a baby involved, a little puppy mewling for its mother, and her instincts were overpowering her with the need to comfort it before taking any other action. What happened to the poor mother to separate them? She could only imagine the worst, and prayed it had not been orphaned.

The copper male spoke, and at first his disjointed words made no sense. "Sequoia from Sangi'lak?" she asked stupidly. Then it sank in -- them. There was more than one puppy in the bundle; she couldn't see the pups until he relinquished his hold. She touched his arms, trying to steer him safely into a chair. He looked moments away from collapse. Coli was feeling rather overwhelmed herself, and sank into the chair next to him, trying to fit all the pieces together without upsetting the poor male further. An ash tree and a sequoia. Sequoia was obviously more than a friend to Ascher, but if she was gone... no wonder his spirit had broken so. The Stormbringer men had the worst luck with women, she thought pityingly. At least they could find solace in each other. Once she got him calmed down, she would let his brother and sister know he was here.

Coli attempted to rub his shoulders in a comforting fashion. Her gaze quickly darted about the room, searching for Niernan's bottle of mead; she thought it might steady his nerves, as long as he only had a little. She turned back to him, trying to gauge his mood. "You're a father now... I know it's all sudden, but the pack will support you, it's gonna be okay," she murmured. She nodded toward the table, trying to convince him to set his bundle down so she could see them. They sounded so young. "How long have you had them?" She realized as soon as she said it that she needed to be more direct. Ascher didn't look like he could process much right now.

"When did they last nurse?" she asked, more urgently. The younger they were, the more frequently they needed nourishment. For the first few days after her first litter were born, the girls fed every few hours, and Coli had merely slept curled around them and allowed them to take whatever they needed. It slowly dawned on her why Ascher had come to her out of everyone else in Vinátta, and she whined softly, wordlessly asking his permission.

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Miyu
Luperci Gardener + Apothecary Mate to Niernan
Colibri perennial gardener memories of dahlias
caught in a sunbeam
eyes in the clouds

POSTED: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:44 am

Ascher allowed himself to be steered gently towards an object which he supposed must have been a chair, and though he saw it, it didn't register as anything but an object – an object far less precious than the cargo he cradled in his slender auburn arms. His grip was firm yet gentle as he slowly lowered himself into the offered seat, letting his head hang. “Yes. We.. they were meant to stay with her. She and X'yrin, they moved on, she left them with me.” The words were weakly rasped – it had taken more effort to say them than Ascher could have imagined. Normally words were the only weapons he carried and now they had to be forced from his throat. “She said she wanted them to be with their family,” he continued, bewilderment lacing his tone.

The bundle of furs stirred and squawked again, and Ascher realised as he adjusted his hold that his fingers had been digging into his arms. With that much tension in his body, it was no wonder he had been easy to move across the room. He certainly couldn't credit his legs with working well right now.

The pregnant female said soothingly that he was a Father now. Ascher's head tilted fractionally, his limp ears perking up to take in the word. His heart had known it; his consciousness had known it for some time – but hearing the words uttered by someone else was startling. And wonderful. A dreamy half smile turned up the corners of the Eljun man's lips, and he finally stopped gazing into space as his eyes focused on the furs he clung to.

For a moment, all urgency left Ascher, but it returned in triplicate when Colibri gently prodded him with more questions. He sat up straight. Gods, he was a scholar, he should have thought to ask Sequoia – to ask anything, to say anything. Anything at all to stop her. “It's been a few hours.”

Colibri's whine cut through Ascher's panic like a blade through butter: these were the mothering instincts Bel and Orvar needed around them in order to thrive. He was reluctant to let go of his babes, but they also needed their Father to have his wits about him if they were to do well. Slowly, gently, the scholar placed the bundle on the table and unravelled the folds of furs surrounding his children. For a few moments, as he had done when he'd seen them for the first time, he stared dumbly at the swathes of soft puppy fur surrounding pudgy little bodies. “I.. I think they're healthy enough. This is Bel,” he touched the back of his hand, featherlike, to the tiny tan body, “And Orvar.” An equally gentle hand indicated the male.

Finally, Ascher looked up to Colibri, pleading again. “I know you have your own to worry about, but.. I can't lose them. Please.”

[485]
AscherStormbringer

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POSTED: Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:56 am

baww [500+]

Coli was relieved when Ascher sat down, as her paranoid worries about him dropping the bundle were alleviated. It still tugged at her so painfully to hear the little voices crying, and it was all she could do not to grab the furs by force. Ascher had to relax, had to be willing. He spoke, and though the strain in his voice was still evident, he was more coherent. "Sequoia and X'yrin... left," she repeated, startled by the news. Did that mean all of Sangi'lak had left? It didn't seem important right now - nothing was more important than the infants. "She trusted you with their future... oh, Asch," Coli exhaled, touched by the sacrifice. Sequoia may have been more loyal to X'yrin to follow her into the unknown, but she must truly love Ascher to have done this for him.

The bundle was finally unwrapped. There were two of them. The siblings were mere hours old, still blind and feeble with awkwardly large heads questing about for comfort. She thought they were divinely perfect. How it must have wrenched Sequoia's heart to give her newborns up. Coli could not imagine such an act, nor the strength of will it must have taken to turn her back and walk away. The first time she laid eyes on her daughters, even given their circumstances and the terrible fears she had for them, Colibri had wanted to hold their tiny bodies against her warmth and never let them go. It was the most powerful instinct that had ever moved her, and even now she felt it stirring for these little waifs that were not even her own, nor would they ever be. She reached out and gently stroked their tiny heads with her fingers, reassuring them that they were not alone.

She felt Ascher's eyes on her as he pleaded, but she could not even look anywhere other than his children. He didn't have to ask -- it would have been cruel of him to refuse her. Gently Coli cradled the female, Bel, with both hands. Her puppy fuzz was a warm shade of copper, just like her father. Colibri never had reason to milk before the birth of her own, but she had heard tell of such before, and knew it could be done. If her body needed time to prepare, they had goat's milk stored for the kittens, and it would pass as a substitute for the short hours before she could produce. She guided the small face to her breast, nudging her encouragingly with her nose until she began to suckle.

Orvar was squeaking pitifully without his littermate, and Coli leaned carefully over the table to lift him without disturbing Bel. Entirely focused on her task, she didn't even consider that it might be strange for Ascher to watch -- or what her mate would think, walking in on a scene like this. A serene smile spread on her face as she positioned the dark little Stormbringer, then spread the vacant pelt over them like a blanket. Coli leaned back in her chair with the infants cradled in her arms and swathed in fur. Already she could feel the difference within her, and knew that she wouldn't let the pups down -- there would be milk for the both of them.

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Miyu
Luperci Gardener + Apothecary Mate to Niernan
Colibri perennial gardener memories of dahlias
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eyes in the clouds

POSTED: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:05 pm

Ascher, strangely, didn't feel a hint of jealousy as Colibri picked up his babies and held them to her breast; nor did he think of Niernan and what he might say should he happen upon the scene – or what he would say later, when he did find out that Colibri was nursing them. Ascher's life seemed to have expanded and tightened at the same time, wrapping itself around the two tiny scraps who were – finally – being nursed. Everyone else's reactions melted into indifference; it was Bel and Orvar the coppery Eljun needed to protect most, and finding them a wet nurse was paramount. No angry reaction, not even a repeat of Bran's outburst, could top the relief which was surging through Asch. Instinct told him that Colibri was a mother, and she would know what to do.

He had kept his head attached just enough to allow Colibri a little space and the man gradually felt his heartbeat slow until it was a steady pound once more. He had felt how quickly his babies' little hearts beat, and he was wondering already how many more heartbeats it would take before he could hold them again; soothe them, as he hadn't been able to do in his panicked state. Thanks to Colibri, everything would be alright now – Ascher had resisted cooing those exact words to Bel and Orvar before, during the longest few hours of his life while he had wondered what to do with the squealing, squirming bundles of greys, blacks and browns that were his progeny. He had resisted because he never wanted to lie to them – he never wanted to conceal anything again. Already Asch felt proud of them, and equally proud of both sides of their heritage. Colibri's words had struck a chord; he had been wondering why Sequoia would leave them with him, but now, with a confounded gape across his maw, Ascher realised that she had done it because she trusted him – trusted Vinatta to raise them to be good wolves, Nomads or not.

A familiar bittersweet sensation coiled in Ascher's gut when he thought of Sequoia, gone, but if the discerning woman trusted him with their puppies then he had to do his best. It had been several long minutes since Ascher had last spoken, and it was only when he didn't feel the need to pant with exertion and stress that he tried to explain: “She had them.. today. Yesterday, now. Gods, they're a day old already and I've spent most of it panicking.” He shook his head. “Sangi'lak have disbanded their ranks; some of them have travelled back to their homelands, and Sequoia has gone there with X'yrin. For good, possibly.” The pain of that seemed to have dulled significantly now, but for a moment it stung again.

Wide blue eyes turned to the pregnant woman and the clay pelted Stormbringer clasped his hands in gratitude. It was taking a lot of effort to even bend his fingers, they had been so tense. “I will owe you every day of their lives,” he told her, his voice cracking.

[522]
AscherStormbringer

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POSTED: Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:01 pm

[556] ;v;

All was well. The frantic distress had faded from her as soon as the puppies stopped crying out in need. Here was one small act of good Colibri could perform, and she would do so grateful that she could be of use. Ascher grew calmer as well, visibly relieved from his fugue of emotion. She felt sorry for him, having it all thrust so suddenly onto his shoulders; he evidently knew he would be a father, but thought the Nomads would be rearing his unplanned litter. She was suddenly anxious for her own litter, reminded of all the unforeseen possibilities of chance, though the pang soon passed. She did not have to go it alone.

Ascher spoke and revealed that Sangi'lak was gone after all, and she could only nod mutely, feeling rather detached from the fate of the Nomad wolves. Their motivations would remain a mystery to her. Most of Vinátta would be relieved to hear the news, but since Ascher was one of their few sympathizers, she knew he wouldn't want to hear that. "I'm sorry about Sequoia," she offered, swallowing audibly. A comfortable silence fell between them, broken only by the snuffles and muted squeaks of the Stormbringer cubs.

Coli had forgotten the soporific effect of the prolactin; she wanted to crawl into a nest of furs and sleep with them, and forget about the outside world. It was not her place to adopt the pups, though - they had a father who wanted to be there for them, and she could not interfere with their bonding. If Ascher had said otherwise, she would already have offered to give them a home with her and Niernan, and their cousins on the way. "Bel and Orvar will need to nurse every few hours, and they'll need to sleep the rest of the time," she explained gently, knowing Ascher would want to take them back to his house. If he trusted his animals around his offspring, she would have to trust them as well. "Keep them warm. I'll try to visit you on a schedule so you don't have to keep carrying them outside." She wouldn't let them down. Ascher was overcome with gratitude once it sank in that his infants would survive. Coli smiled drowsily, shaking her head. He didn't owe her anything.

"It's fine... this is the easy part," she said softly, remembering her first litter and the simple, instinctive connection they all shared in the beginning. They gradually learned her voice and the scent of colostrum and crawled toward her in the dark, and she would praise them with licks and nudges and happy whimpers. It had been easy then, but it got so complicated once their personalities developed and she wasn't enough for them anymore. At the time, she truly wished for them to stay small forever. "You still get the hard job. You'll watch them grow up, and you'll do your best to teach them everything they need to know along the way." She freed one of her arms from beneath the makeshift blanket and touched his clasped hands, wanting to impart support. It was an immense weight, and not one that had treated Colibri kindly. She was trying to be better this time, and if she could help Ascher avoid first-time mistakes, she would share everything she could.

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Miyu
Luperci Gardener + Apothecary Mate to Niernan
Colibri perennial gardener memories of dahlias
caught in a sunbeam
eyes in the clouds

POSTED: Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:15 am

OOC: Eek, sorry for the wait! DX

IC:
It wasn't until Colibri said Sequoia's name that Ascher thought of his own pain – he had been thinking primarily of Bel and Orvar since they had been brought to him by the proud Nomad woman. He knew it had to hurt Sequoia, too, to leave her children behind. All of this had been very much present in his mind, but his own loss had taken a back seat. Asch suspected it was some fatherly instinct, but now that he wasn't relying purely on instinct and panic to think, he felt an ache in his chest. The knowledgeable Stormbringer had thought he'd accepted that Sequoia could never be his, but perhaps that wasn't the case. Why else would it hurt like this? Why else would Ascher feel like he, personally, had lost something, even if it was just the possibility of something?

A copper-clad hand rubbed away the sting of tears on his bottom lids, and he offered his leader – his children's saviour – a weak smile when he gave up and let the tears slip down his cheeks. “There is no point in trying to be brave right now. When they're old enough to understand, then I'll be brave for them.” The Eljun sniffed, trying to keep his sorrow at minimum volume for the sake of the now comfortable cubs.

Asch endeavoured to breathe deeply and steadily, his brow dented in concentration, as Colibri explained to him how often the babies would need to nurse, and when they could remain with him. In theory Ascher knew it all already, but the reality seemed to have caused most of what he knew to fly out of the window.

“Keep them warm,” he repeated. “I can do that. Teach them everything they need to know..” A self-deprecating chuckle left Ascher, but he nodded, wiping away the last of his tears.

[311]
AscherStormbringer

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