I'll hold my head up higher and higher

She couldn't believe how big they had grown in such a short amount of time. Watching them wobble about on uncertain feet, investigating their surroundings had been a pleasure she had never gotten to witness before. Jaden had never succeeded in walking on his own. She took a moment and lowered her head in silence for those of her womb that had never even begun to live. Her children were vibrant and alive and that was the best she could hope for. Nate-River was like Frodo in his talkative personality whilst Payne was a lot more quiet and subdued than her excitable brother. She suspected heavily that Payne was not Frodo's for despite being bigger than her brother Payne held a lankiness to her form suggesting that she had more than Nate-River's 25 percentage of coyote heritage. The brown spots on her coat were a puzzle and reminded her of Jaden's white speckles. Her eyes although still puppy blue had shown no indication they would be anything but blue while Nate-River's had already turned black.

On this day Frodo was caring for them both at her home while she attended her fire tending duties, and her duty to the Great Fire. The other fire tender of the skilled level was nowhere to be found which was something unusual because she was normally nearby. It was from her that Gemma had learned proper care of the fire, and her sense of pride. Gemma entered the town hall with a frown on her face to find the wood stock for the residents of AniWaya to use was running low as well as well as logs to fuel the Great Fire.

With a small sad sigh she picked up one of the woodcutting axes, a spare in case hers broke so she wouldn't have to the town hall and a rawhide tie for dragging the wood along behind her. Her injuries refused to allow her to carry the heavy lots for any significant distance, her ribs throbbed with just the action of walking and carrying the metal tools. Gemma was a rather okay height for a woman, especially one with half coyote blood flowing in her veins but she was slim of frame and without a whole lot os strength to her which was she disliked cutting the wood most out of all her duties, it generally tended to take her a vast majority of the day and leave her incredibly tired and sore, more so now that she had children to take care of.

It didn't take her long to find a suitable looking tree of the right kind and the woman let her axe fly with precise strokes. Her concentration was fierce and she ignored her lingering pain and discomfort. It took a while but the tree toppled with a finality that was permanent. This plant's life taken to fuel the hope and cultural strength of the tribe. It always saddened her even though it was just a tree she still felt as though their lives were as important as her own. Pushing aside her own melancholy she continued to hack at the dying wood until she had stripped it of branches which she placed to the side and continued to chop it until about half the tree sat into logs roughly two feet long. With a long suffering breath Gemma tied the rawhide about it and began the back breaking work of dragging it back to the town hall.

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Io really should have stayed home that morning, but the fact that she was now a leader make her rise from her bed with purpose and readiness to show her face. It surprised her, the fact that Ulilohi had asked her to step up, especially when she was under the impression her condition had made her useless, but none the less she was pleased. And as she moved steadily through the territory she was now responsible for, her speed was severely depleted, but she supposed it was nice to talk a slow walk. She came upon Gemma soon enough, 'Dzien dobry' she greeted, pacing forward slowly. 'You know, there are other ways to transport logs'. She gestured to the horse that paced alongside her, Neo, the large dominant male.

Io sat, unable to continue standing. 'How are you?' Of course, Io knew about the pack's recent business and as a leader, it was her duty to make sure her pack members were okay. And Gemma was a special case, one whom she considered her friend. Io's spirit guide was nowhere to be seen, so Io assumed she was not needed elsewhere.

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Footsteps approached and her remaining stump along with its full sister turned to catch the sound. She flickered her eyes to the side, seeing over the mound of knotted scarred mess that her cheek was. Seeing her maybe friend Io Gemma released some of the tension. Women she didn't really know how to talk to but she managed okay with the straight talking Io who didn't speak in riddles to confuse her. But then the horse loomed into her view and she straightened, alarmed by it's presence.

"The horses scare me. I don't like to bother them." She added in a small, rather child-like voice whilst staring at Neo with large frightened eyes. Io lowered her pregnant form to the floor for a rest and Gemma, anticipating a break from her work kneeled down facing her too. She looked to the floor at the question and for a second considered lying about herself but she dismissed it almost instantly, Io would know, she always did.

"I am.. better.. than before." There, that was a good yet evasive description of how she was.

Io smiled at Gemma, paying little attention the the mess of scars. She'd seen much worse after all. A man who's hind leg was amputated because the amount of scarring rendered it ineffective. Unmoveable. It would have been pointless wasting blood to keep it there. But Io understood why Gemma would feel ashamed, pained, embarrassed. Whatever she felt. 'The horse will not do anything to you...' she said with a gentle sigh, peering up from her awkward position, strew across the floor on her side. 'I will show you one day...' she said firmly, not smiling, but with the air that there was one hidden under pursed lips.

'Do not be casuistic' she reprimanded firmly, lifting her head and giving Gemma a straight stare. But she back peddled with a shake of her head and a deep sigh. 'Now tell, me truthfully' she had sons old enough to lie to her, and a mate who thought himself efficient as a teller of un truths. And she had poor tolerance at the moment too. 'Sorry' she murmured softly.

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She looked about herself hesitantly as the stallion walked around her to nibble on some of the branches of the trees behind her, she hadn't been scared of them before Anathema. Now whenever she thought of being close she got a cold shiver down her spine and her heart beat fast.

"When I was in Anathema.. there was one that the sub leader had, she was a horrible thing, always biting people. One day Alaki hadn't bothered putting her away properly and she attacked me." Gemma shivered and frowned, stretching the scarred skin. Alaki had been a cause of so much pain in her life, she wished him to leave souls and never return, then she might have a modem of peace.

She lowered her head and had the decency to look chastised, blue eyes appearing despaired, she was loathe to admit her weakness to Io who she feared maybe one day would judge her as weak and abandon her too, above all Gemma was scared of this, abandonment,

"The nightmares won't leave." She muttered lowly.

'Alaki's horse?' she questioned, raising her head up to look up at Gemma. She scoffed, shaking her head and muttering to herself, Istota drań... She hadn't liked Anathema, in fact, she wished she'd stayed in Inferni. At least there was a sense of stability and respect in Inferni. White teeth flickered suddenly at the thought of the cavern pack. 'Trouble, all of them...' she added bitterly, glancing up to Gemma with a a soft smile. 'Neo will not hurt you, in either case. He is more... Respectful'.

As Gemma spoke truthfully, Io sighed, taking the understandable effort to raise herself from the floor and move closer to Gemma, placing her head on her shoulder like an ersatz hug. 'They will stay with you for a considerable amount of time, Gemma' she said calmly, 'There is scarcely anything you can do to stop that. But think of this, you have things to live for, And you have survived. Wear your scars like medals...' Granted that was easier for Io to stay, her body unmarked save for the thin scratch down her left arm. [b]'People here love and respect you, you have no reason to feel scared or ashamed.

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His name made her flinch, he was almost akin to Lucifer, he hadn't hurt her physically like her father had but he had caused her just as much suffering and fear. She smiled tightly at the one word she did understand in Io's cussing. Bastard. Yes he was a bastard, an evil bastard. Neo raised his head and neighed as Io said his name and Gemma's flattened ears rose just a little. Neo she liked even if she was scared of him. Maybe she could just use Neo.

She frowned though as Io made the effort to come and sit next to her and rest her head on her shoulder, she didn't want Io straining herself just so Gemma could feel better. That would make her feel awful. The comfort was appreciated though and she huffed, pushing her head against Io's. The words were true, she knew them from experience, she had never truly gotten rid of them and they had haunted her for forever. Teeth and blood in the night.

The last bit though, Gemma turned and stared,

"People love and respect me?" She was almost like a small child, searching for praise and acceptance, searching for love.
OOC sup bitches? / +yo numbah!

Silver eyes narrow into a soft frown and the hybrid shook her head. 'Of course. You think I would just tell you lies?' she laughed gently. The red and white collie nuzzled into the snowy woman, 'You are an honest, hard working tribe member, I assume Claudius and Ulilohi and the rest of the tribe love and respect you for that. Your children, though the fact they are yours and you have taught them. And myself because of the above reasons and more' she listed softly. 'You are among my closest friends here...' Io added as an aside, looking up to Gemma with a grin.

'Now. Come on!' she rose to her feet and trotted over to Neo. 'Pet him. He will not do anything' she leaned against the horse's leg to demonstrate this. 'I promise' she added after a moment. 'After all, it would be easier to have a horse do the work as opposed to you doing it yourself...' And if she could convince Gemma to work with the horses perhaps it would prove how worthy Io was of another promotion?

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She backtracked quickly as Io's eyes narrowed, oh no, no. I just meant.. that.. well its a surprise.. I.." She tailed off as Io listed her seemingly good qualities, it was strange to hear what people might see as good in her, she was used to being hated, reviled and people wanting to hurt her. She hung her head slightly, kind of ashamed of herself for thinking so badly of her tribe. She mumbled something about people hating her and then looked back at Io with her blue gaze swimming, it was amongst one of the nicest things tat she could remember ever hearing and most previously to herself nice things were anything that didn't contain lewd or hateful remarks which put Io's statement way above the rest.

"Okay." She whispered as she got to her feet as well. She had a slightly disapproving frown though as Io strained herself more for Gemma's sake. It wouldn't do at all! She stood in front of the tall male and the while femme shook slightly from fear. Neo looked at her too with interest, the small shivering canine, his ears pricked as he moved his muzzle closer to her and sniffed. Steeling herself Gemma outstretched her shivering hand and gently touched his creamy nose.

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