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POSTED: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:54 pm

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Set in Halcyon Mountain
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The morning was new as the dim light peeked over the horizon. The heavens were curtained with a thick sheet of clouds, blue and grey in the light, and the sun shone with a weak, yellow glow that radiated behind that celestial barrier. The day was colder today, and the air was damp. It smelled of cold weather, but it would not yet come, for the wind was stilled and would not bring it. The wind only sighed, moving the remnants of the still dead earth that waited to be resurrected in several moons. Birds sang their occasional song, and their dark silhouettes fluttered in the half light of the dawn. The world seemed to sigh, as if reluctant to wake because of the darkness of the world. But the overcast sky was unrelenting, and the clouds hung over the mountains with an obsession, the soft fingers clinging to the peaks as the sun attempted to break through—but in vain. And so the world lay dormant.

Cwmfen’s white eyes looked up the great mountainside and was at ease. The world was beautiful today in its darkness, and the melancholy mood of the grayscale world was broken only by that soft, golden glow in the east. A light smile flickered across her maw as she sighed, her breath rising in a faint cloud. The air was crisp, but, because the wind was still, the air moved softly its fingers through her fur. And yet it could not penetrate through the warmth of her body.

The world was strange here, and she had wondered what had happened. Perhaps she should have questioned Cercelee or Haku or any other packmate of the history of the lands, but she had failed to do so. The mountainside lay in a black ash, and the skeletons of trees and of a forest once lush lay broken in its sea. But the world sang differently here too, and she felt as if she were on the edge of the world, ready to plunge into the darkness of the next life without the aid of the crow. With that thought, her white eyes turned toward the dark heavens, watching the silhouette of the Raven as he wheeled far above, preoccupied with his own interpretation of the landscape.

With a sudden burst of speed, the black she-wolf threw herself up the steep slope, her woad banded paws sinking into the soft ash. She could not help but feel a wild exhilaration as her body worked up the hill, throwing the black ash into the air. And in the air, it caught the golden light of the sun, and the world seemed to rain that black and gold dust upon her. It was as if she had entered a different world. And though a fire had taken life from this mountain, she could feel the life pulsing beneath, waiting to break through to start again. That simple and yet complicated beauty took her breath away as it did every other time, as if she had never experienced the world’s beauty before. And pausing, the female looked out across the strange and dark world as that strange dust settle upon her. As the warrior shook her fur, she sent that dust floating away to join its brothers, and her white orbs followed the woad banded ears as she turned at the sound of approach.

POSTED: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:56 pm

     The fire, as many things would come to be, was a dim memory. Ezekiel could remember the smell of smoke and ash, and remembered his mother’s body and voice reassuring them. He remembered heat and bright light, and an endless chorus of howls as the wolves had attempted to find one another. After that he knew nothing—only that they had a new home, one with many places to play and explore and a beach similar to the one they had lived on before.
     Likewise, he did not remember the war. His father and godmother had come one day, and explained he would be taking a trip with her. Ezekiel was thrilled, right up until he realized his father was not coming and he was to be separated from his family. The first few days had been miserable, even though Fatin did her best to keep his spirits up. They had found Tristan (or rather, he had found them) a week before his mother and sister caught up to them. For a while, things were good—then Talitha left, and his mother followed. Both his godmother and uncle-figure had advised he remain with them. He had, and he had formed remarkable bonds with both, and still honored these things.
     That was why he recognized the woman for what she was. Tristan had never spoken about his past, but instead the strange folk he had encounter during these times. The painted-folk, whom were known by many names, and oft highly renown warriors. While Tristan had seemed less then fond of what he called woads, Fatin had made a point to remind Ezekiel to keep an open mind.
     So he did, approaching the woman at an easy pace, young frame not yet full-grown and very coyote-like. Had his body not shown the potential to gain more mass, his mixed blood would be nearly impossible to see. “Those are some interesting markings,” he commented, stopping just close enough to speak while remaining a comfortable distance away.

POSTED: Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:33 am

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Her head was turned over her shoulder as that form became clear. The dust settled and the cleared air revealed the body of a male. A coyote. A single, woad ear swiveled back warily, pointing perpendicularly to her head like the ears of a lamb. But her mind was set on hostility, not innocence and friendship. And perhaps it was strange, for she had never met a creature from Inferni. Her beliefs up until that moment had been based upon what she had heard, and most of what she had heard was not good. There were coyotes and hybrids out there in Inferni territory with an intent upon causing chaos. But the hybrid DaVinci, who now led in Phoenix Valley, and the coyote with the blindfold, who served Justice, did not share such views. And, because there was a quiet between Inferni and the other claimed lands, the female thought that there must be reason within that strange clan. And so the female, save for the singular gesture of her ear, did not openly display her want to attack the male of Inferni.

She was wary, as she turned finally to face him. Her movements were slow and graceful despite the easily shifting ash, and her woad banded paws buried themselves in that dark soot shadowed by her own body. The glory of the day and that strange dust about them set a perfect mood for the warrior, and she would be disappointed if she would not be able to fight. And this need was not only because of Inferni’s chaotic reputation. Wolves and coyotes biologically and historically have not worked well with one another, and where wolves resided, coyotes were annihilated. And this instinctual female could not help but feel that urge when she saw and scented the male. But she was representing her pack now, and her self control made her still. The male ceased, and he was far enough so that an attack was not likely for either party. And when he spoke, he spoke of her markings.

Her ear swiveled forward. "They were given to me by my mother," the alto melody replied quietly, and her voice danced upon the air as the ash had done. Indeed, her mother had given them to her, for it was from her mother’s culture that the woad originated. Her Korean father had given no obvious physical trait to her, save for the almond shape of her eyes. But such a thing was so trivial that her second heritage went unknown. And yet, it was quite obvious that there was something impure about her bloodline if one would only look closer.

The white orbs considered the male. Why had he approached her? For what purpose? She did not know. Was he truly curious about her woad, or was there some other intent laced with treachery? The warrior always considered new situations to be a possible threat, for one could never be too sure. After the silence had settled from the air between them, the female spoke once more. "Why are you here, coyote?" The words came out harsher than she had intended, but it was too late to revoke them now. And it was not as if she had a claim to this land and that he was forbidden from stepping upon its strange blackness. But the female could never trust too deeply, and her paranoia, while not apparent in her language or body, was an ever present entity.

POSTED: Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:31 am

     There had never been a point in his life where Ezekiel had truly felt judged for anything less then his merit. Now, with the white-eyed woman staring at him, he began to understand. She had not spoken ill of his blood nor his birthplace yet, but he read it in her body and in her face. This fact perturbed him if only because it had never occurred before. Had he been older, he might not have felt the same emotion rise in his chest. What came was a tide of prejudice, as it had been vocalized by his godmother’s brother.
     His body stiffened very slightly, reading these things from her. Everything his father had warned now came back in a rush, reminding him very quickly that the others—wolves—would do this regardless of what his intent might have been. And his eyes, which belonged both to his father and grandmother, darkened another shade. “I live below the mountain,” he explained simply, voice still developing, still the tenor note which had not yet dropped. “Why are you here, woad?” He would not call her wolf, for he recognized the woman for what she was, and intended to let her know this.

POSTED: Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:37 am

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The wolf was wary. It was not that she was afraid, for surely she did not believe that she would be overcome by the smaller canine. It was simply instinct, that primal thing that drove her life so keenly. And yet, it had never truly ruled her life, for she was a luperci, and such a creature mingled between the worlds that were purely lupine or purely human. She was most definitely a lupine creature, more so than many. And yet, she could never achieve that purity that the wolf could—like Sankor, who was merely a wolf. It was like her blood, the stream in which two cultures comingled. So the life of the black female was created upon half-truths, and so she could control that instinct that drove her body well. The white orbs beheld the creature before her, and there was hate for his kind, but there was not yet hate for the individual. The warrior better than some knew the importance of that individual.

When he spoke, the woad bound orbs flickered, listening to that young sound. And the melody of his voice was most definitely young, for it carried that light meter that only boys had. And with a swift look over his form, the woad warrior was able to see what she had failed to see before: that he was a juvenile. Yet the awkwardness of youth had already begun to leave, and she thought that perhaps he was growing into his form. The female relaxed her distrust a little more, for the black fae believed in what the youth had to give for the world. Perhaps this one was not yet tainted. The white orbs flickered over the lands below as if seeing the place in which he lived. But she was silent and responded with nothing.

Woad. The fae turned her head sharply. It was the first time she had heard the name. It was a derogatory sound in the warrior’s ears, but perhaps the male was unaware. To the contrary, she was more intrigued with his knowledge of her—or of her culture—than she was angered by his insolence (or ignorance, perhaps). The white eyes considered the coy carefully for a moment before a light smile flickered across her maw. "I’m here to understand the land," the light Caledonian lilt sang, and the female lowered herself to a sitting position, indicating to the male that she would be no threat. If anything, it was not proper for her to wrong him so near to his home.

The silence between them was filled by the soft laughter of the ashes as the wind threw them to the heavens. The fingers of the wind tugged at her fur with the curious fingers of a lover, and the heart of the Caledonian-Korean warrior was content. "How do you come by that knowledge?" The soft alto melody was almost amiable in its casual tones. "Not many know what you know." There had been very few. Some recognized what culture she may have been from, and perhaps they did know what she was as well. But that word, woad, had been left in the silence until this boy from Inferni had stepped into her life.

POSTED: Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:39 pm

     The reaction she gave surprised Ezekiel. In retrospect, it should not have. Each time Tristan had spoken that word he had done so with distaste. One paw lifted and nearly stepped back, but he placed it back on the ground swiftly. “My god-uncle told me of your people,” he said quietly, and settled to a seated position himself.
     Both ears swiveled forward and his gold-yellow eyes focused on her face. It was peculiar, now, to see the fabled markings that he had been told of. “You’re the first one I’ve ever seen,” he admitted. Shaking dust from his coat, the boy tilted his head slightly, studying the patterns and the curious markings they formed. Only then did her scent betray her for a member of Dahlia, and his eyes darkened another shade. He said nothing on that matter. That had not been his war.

POSTED: Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:57 pm

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She saw a strangeness in his eyes, a distrust, perhaps. But the female did not hold any hostility against him. She encouraged such a thing, for it was never safe to trust someone that one did not know. The white eyes observed the younger creature before her as he made to recoil from her reaction, but she did not think that it was out of fear. And that innate creature, that purely lupine creature, was eased by that fact, for it was the instinct of all creatures to pursue those that smelled of fear. It was an instinct of survival, as all instincts were. But there was no immediate fear from this young coy, and she did not expect it. The woad marked warrior was not a fear instilling creature after all, though she may command caution. And it was not her way to bring it out of people. The warrior was a quiet creature, tranquil with that serenity of enlightened warriors. And yet the warrior could be a feral creature, vicious with that ferocity of a wild killer. But the woman knew the balance in herself and how to keep it. And so, despite the infamous tales of Inferni’s deeds, she sought the goodness in the creature before her.

The female’s woad bound ears pricked forward at the sound of his voice, and it was a quiet, good sound. “And what did he say of my people?” the alto melody inquired. Her alto voice was a quiet melody and held a regal civility. A light smile danced upon her lips as the white orbs watched the male. The stiffness in her body from that battle with the wolf Brennt remained within her. The wounds upon her chest were tight as she breathed, but the female was at ease, for she had not lost. But, at once, she was not sure if she had won. But the warrior kept the lesson of the ignorance of males with her still. Yet, the black fae was untroubled, for she did not think that the adolescent would trouble himself with such things yet, especially with her. Aside from the dyed woad, the female was quite unremarkable.

“The first one?” A light mirth was held in her voice, and perhaps a touch of scorn. The male spoke as if she were different from him. And perhaps, on the surface, they were quite different indeed. But within, in the heart and soul, they were the same. As all creatures were. As all entities were. “And what of it?” the black fae inquired once more, but a true sincerity for that question was in the alto tones. “Are you disappointed?” The black female rose then, and the soreness of her body was not immediately apparent as she slowly turned about, as if showcasing to the coyote what manner of creature she was. But he could not know from merely looking, and perhaps that was her point. As she came full circle, her movements ceased as the white orbs watched him carefully. And she was silent, but there were a great many things that the black female could have said. And perhaps she was waiting to see what this male had to say.

POSTED: Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:03 pm

     He recalled the way that Tristan’s face had darkened, and how his eyes had revealed their true color with the title. An honest boy by trade, Ezekiel did not hesitate to share this. “He said that they were warriors and that they fought like devils. He didn’t seem too fond of your people.” Given that his god-uncle had never revealed much about his past, the boy could not understand why.
     At her tone, his ears swiveled back, like a child, then forward. “No, no,” he began. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that…well, your people sounded like legends, you know? Something people don’t ever see.” While he was fearless (a flaw of his upbringing, perhaps) he was wary. Her very presence was enough to warn him that she was something to be reckoned with—and Ezekiel, inexperienced, knew that if they were to come to blows she would best him.

POSTED: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:29 am

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The young coyote was quick to respond, and the black fae listened as she faced him. She was silent with agreement. Indeed, her people were warriors, and they did fight fervently. The warrior wanted to ask the adolescent why his god-uncle would dislike her people, but she did not ask and was silent. It was often that there was no reason behind the dislike of a race or breed save for ignorant stereotypes, but she did not even know if this were the case. And she did not think that the young boy would be privy to the thoughts of his uncle, regardless of their relationship, for often adults did not explain themselves to their pups—or so she had observed. But her people were not without honor. It was perhaps a different honor than what other had, and the female had learned that quickly after fleeing her homeland with her father the crow-wolf on her heels. It was a wilder, primeval honor than that which characterized the changing world today. Perhaps this made her old-fashioned. Or perhaps this made her basic. Wild. Uncivilized. Perhaps that had been the root of dislike. Like devils, the youth had said, and she could not know what such words connoted without having known his god-uncle.

But the boy was not like...not aggressive towards her. His reaction seemed to be polite, almost innocent. The female’s face was unchanging for a moment as the white orbs regarded him, but then a slow smile graced her maw. And then a light laughter, a quiet, sound of gold and silver tones danced upon the air accompanied only by the ash. The black warrior relaxed, falling back upon her haunches. “Alright, coyote,” the alto tones sang. She was silent for a moment as she watched her woad band toes sift through the carbon. “I’m afraid that there’s nothing legendary to behold. I’m just like any other creature living in these lands.” The white orbs lifted to find the coyote’s face, and a warm mirth flickered within them. This youth provided for her pleasant company, for she had experienced the company of Svara, who sought to display her arrogance and disrespect in every waking moment. But there was something golden about the coyote in front of her, and it made the warrior smile.

“I’m Cwmfen nic Graine, Adonis and Head Warrior of Dahlia de Mai,” the warrior introduced herself, and bowed her head, perhaps a tradition of her father’s culture. The female rose with fluid grace that seemed to transcend the earthly. The woad banded paws carried her lightly, closing the distance between them with ease, but there was no hostility in her step. The female simply drew closer to the boy. Her maw was extended as it sniffed his neck, but her own was exposed, and it was like the ancient greeting of wolves. In this way she displayed to they coyote, despite his clan and the history between her pack and his, that he could trust her if only for this encounter. Satisfied, the warrior drew back, and her eyes turned down as she observed the blackened slope. “It must be wonderful to live nearby knowing that life will flourish here once more.”

POSTED: Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:54 pm

     Both ears stood upright as she laughed, nearly surprised by the sound. It was familiar to rain, to a raven’s voice; a peculiar mixture of the two that was not unpleasant. Then she settled and he relaxed, no longer concerned that she might turn on him as he had been taught to expect. Ezekiel listened and watched her, still amazed that he had encountered such a creature, and only moved slightly when she approached.
     Her scents were ash and water, and the overwhelming mark of the pack he had been taught to see as a threat. She offered him no present danger, but he knew in his secret heart she would not hesitate to cut him down if they met in battle. Sharply, he turned his head and studied the ruined mountainside. “I think it’ll be like spring,” or at least, what he could remember of it. For a moment he was quiet, then suddenly recalled his manners, turning his face to her. “Oh! It’s nice to meet you, Cwmfen,” He repeated her name carefully, intent on not shattering the pronunciation. “I’m Ezekiel de le Poer. Apprentice warrior and medic, I suppose.” A boyish smile lit up his face, glad for pleasant company. Even though Tristan had never spoken favorably of her people, Ezekiel was reminded of the man in the way Cwmfen held herself and behaved.

POSTED: Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:24 am

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The female looked out at the world as the male spoke. The contrast between the life that flourished out there and the death upon which she stood was juxtaposing, a sure reminder of what the wrath of nature could do—or the wrath of any creature, she supposed, for it occurred to her then that the fire that had consumed this great mountain may not have been of natural causes. But such things were in the past, and now she felt that life surely pulsing beneath the ashes, and she smiled. “Yes, I suppose it will be.” The alto melody was quiet with approval. The young coyote’s metaphore was quite appropriate, and the female, who lived in a world interpreted by such symbolism, found the boy’s mind to be quite keen. It would be like spring—a rebirth after death. Like the phoenix from the ashes a forest would once again rise from these ashes upon which she stood.

“It’s an honor, Ezekiel de le Poer,” the warrior replied as she tore her white gaze from the world about her. The coyote did not seem phased by the voicing of her pack, and this gave her hope for the relationships between Dahlia and Inferni. If the youth, who were the future, were as accepting and open as this bright mind, perhaps there would be peace after all. While the warrior did yearn for war and conflict deep within, she knew the importance of patience, respect, and peace. And so she spoke sincerely. She was honored to share the presence of he who would one day lead or help lead the efforts of Inferni. The warrior bowed her head in greeting, as if she were required to do so because of the recently given name. “de le Poer? Are you related to Gabriel?” Perhaps it was an obvious question. She had never met the leader of Inferni and knew him only by name. Perhaps it was hopeful that this boy was his son, if he were, even more so than she had initially believed.

“Apprentice warrior and medic—I’m impressed,” the warrior pressed with a smile, and she was impressed that this boy had taken up that art that she found so pulchritudinous. It would indeed be useful and to his advantage to be both things. Cwmfen only had a basic understanding of the uses of herbs, and that information had kept her alive so far. To be a master in both fields would be more than impressive. “How far are you in your training?” She wondered how far he had disciplined himself, and if his mind was disciplined as well. The female wondered, too, who was training the boy, but perhaps it would be impolite to ask so much in this first meeting. “Perhaps we shall spar together sometime.” The prospect of building interpack relations with a boy so young may have been laughable to some, but the warrior did not underestimate the power of youth and their growing minds.

POSTED: Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:12 pm

     There were several things that Ezekiel knew, even at this age. He knew that his father’s name would always carry something above his head. He knew that as long as he looked like a coyote he would be treated like the enemy. He knew that in the past he had done things that were wrong, but they were right to him and so he believed in them. Instinct and God had kept him alive; training and discipline kept him from showing the scars he knew one day he would more then likely gain.
     He was young, and he was still very much inexperienced. He believed in manifest destiny as much as he did the wrath and vengeance of the Lord. “Gabriel is my father,” the boy answered. A bird crossed his line of sight and he followed it with his eyes, curious as to the lone vision against the sky. Her words pulled his thoughts back and he smiled nearly sheepishly. Pride, while he felt this, was still dangerous. It was very dangerous, in fact. “I’m not that far along. I came back home and had to cut my training short, so I try and keep up with it on my own.” His father, additionally, was assisting him—but even now Ezekiel believed in paranoid times.
     “Sparring would be fun,” he continued, grinning like a tow-headed boy might before going to war. “You’d whup me, I’m sure, but it would be fun.”

POSTED: Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:58 am

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The woad bound ears flickered at that sound. Father? The woad female was impressed. But it was not because of the young boy’s relationship to the Infernian leader so much as his character. If Ezekiel’s calm and courteous demeanor had not impressed the woad warrior before, it impressed her greatly now. The black fae admitted that she had never met Gabriel de le Poer, but she thought that it was safe to make the supposition that the dark tales that surrounded the northern clan’s leader were credible. And so she marveled that the son of such a creature could be so civil, accepting, and open. Even after she had told the young boy of the pack she served, he had not been greatly phased. And the warrior admitted to herself that she may have been mistaken in her initial suspicions and ready hostility when the coyote hybrid had appeared. At times, the wolf would regress into the earlier years of her life when no creature was able to be trusted, and she found often to control her need to challenge every stranger that came her way. It was not something that she wished to wipe clean of her character, however, for she recognized the need to be wary of others, even those who seemed most trustworthy. Cwmfen nic Graine was well aware of betrayal.

His honesty and modesty struck her immediately. “I can see already that you are well into your training,” the alto melody remarked. Control of the mind and modesty were just as important as the body’s technique in war. It was one thing that many had forgotten—even the warriors of other packs. “It is the beginning of your training that is the most important,” the warrior continued. “The basics of the mind and body must be lain in a strong foundation for the training that is to follow.” And the boy was young, too, able to learn such things with ease. She had been young when she had set out from her motherland, but she had not had the luxury of careful training until later in her life. The warrior was making progress, but she still had much to learn. Of course, she admitted that complete knowledge was impossible without the impossibility of eternal life. But the warrior desired no such thing. She desired not to be perfect, but to be the best that she could be. And that was enough and could only be enough.

The warrior laughed quietly with those soft, golden tones. “Perhaps, but it is failure that allows us to learn, not success. And we must be able to learn from our defeats, or so may we perish unworthy of our cause.” The Caledonian-Korean’s words held some strange archaic meaning as she fell in momentary silence. “Perhaps you will be able to teach a thing or two to me.” And the white eyes of the warrior smiled as she gazed upon the younger boy. Rising, she threw the black dust dancing into the air. “If you are not preoccupied with other responsibilities of the day,” the alto melody began, “you can show me what you know, Little Prince.” It was always beneficial to learn and play with those of superior skill. But, as she had stated before, the woad warrior hoped that the youth would be able to teach her something new.

POSTED: Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:52 pm

     As soon as she began to speak, his ears and eyes focused on her alone, face calm and open. He had learned that words were the true power of all things. No matter the physical prowess of a man, by listening to him his character and ability could be judged. This was what Ezekiel was doing now; studying the painted woman through her speech. She reminded him of Tristan, once more, and he felt a quiet ache of nostalgia for the man who had served as his teacher, father, and brother during those times.
     Though his tail wagged playfully at her offer, his eyes turned sharp. Quickly the lean body of the coyote was moving, jumping forward. He rushed low, but jumped to the side and attempted to get to the thick scruff of fur atop her neck.

POSTED: Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:39 pm

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As she spoke, the black fae kept her white gaze upon the other steady. He was silent, but he was listening. The boy’s own gaze was steady, and she found that to be a sign of respect. And, being his elder, the female did expect such a thing; she had been raised with the notion that the young were to respect and listen to their elders. Of course, even if the boy had not shown her such respect, it was not as if she could do anything about it. He did not belong to her pack, and thus disciplinary steps could not be made without the danger of causing some sort of conflict. And the black fae, having only recently accepted her Adonis promotion, was going to tread carefully upon this new field that she had entered. For now at least. Familiarity tended to promote boldness.

Her offer seemed to be taken with pleasure. The warriors eyes noted the subtle physical change that overcame the younger coyote. He was alert, his eyes open and seeing. But she knew that he was not using this opportunity to make an attack upon a political enemy, for the light gesture he had offered with his tale. A light smile graced her maw, and it was almost fierce. She did love war so. Even this playful duel had made better her day. Her posture changed too, shifting slightly in the ash. But the warrior waited as Ezekiel rushed in. He was smaller and quicker, and he knew how to use his assets. As did she. His jump the side was sudden, and it was impressed upon the female. She leapt to the side, her movements light and controlled. With a swift movement of her own jaws, she brought her woad banded maw to greet the jaws that sought her scruff.

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