The caves are where it all started. They allowed the first wandering wolves access to the land of Blossom Forest, and afterward housed the monster that had threatened the earliest of inhabitants. The heroes had slain it, yes, but in doing so had also closed off one of the pathways in the caverns, magic blocking one of the many exits to Blossom Forest. But over the years, the original spell has weakened and now the way is clear. What will not only crawl out of the caverns, but erupt from it? The caves now thrum with the ever growing magic wellspring as it spreads out into the land. It is from here that the first vampire of Blossom Forest was corrupted, and it is here that any subsequent vampire will be born. To traverse its paths is dangerous - there is an almost impenetrable darkness, and in that abyss lays many secrets - hidden holes one could fall through, weakened floors, and then of course there is the labyrinthe itself. No one knows what the deeper levels hold - no one has traveled them and survived to tell tales. Not even those who call this place home dares to test their luck by going in deep, deep, deeper. The magic exuding from this place has rearranged the lands - moving packs, changing the terrain. Here the cave looks the same but it is not - it is more dangerous than ever. In addition, outside the mouth of the cave the sacred stones that once stood erect in another place now stand guard. They are colored the most beautiful arrangement of jewel tones, and almost appear to be made of gems themselves, no longer the dull grey they once were. It is within them that all official fights must take place - at the Blican Orlege. Welcome to Drylic Cofa...



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Filius managed to nudge the displaced talon into a marginally less painful position, licking the sting away and tucking it beneath his chest. Someone was awake. He regarded Mizuki stretch sullenly, faintly recalling the scent of rotmeat. He was glad she’d come along, even if Hestia insisted on being so comically hostile. She was different. She still gave him the same, monotonous pitying stares he got frequently enough to be rivaled only by looks of contempt given by extremists looking to purge the world of the sickly who, believe it not, were almost as common as the more pack-minded caretakers, but she gave them elegantly. Delicately, politely. When she did it, he didn’t feel belittled or shamed or insulted, he felt complimented. His lips quirked to the side, the ghosts of contentment just smothering the tendrils of anguish permanently constricting his mood. Always there, always managing to worm their way up his throat and choke the positivity right out of him. His smile faded into a grimace, and he resumed crossly counting his toes.
One, two, three, four, five, six- Schnf. Rough and huffy, the sound was as disquieting as it was curious. He blinked, glancing up from beneath the preened, fleecy expanse of fur that was his tail and scanning the cave for whatever godforsaken, dying animal had emitted such a noise. Probably a bush dwelling bird wedged in the thorns or a squirrel catching its foot under a root or. . . Hestia? He stared, entirely unsure if he should be alarmed or intrigued, if this was some sort of coded warning or a convulsive fit, how he should react or what he should say to settle the situation. With an increasing feeling of amazement he waited her out, watching as she vaulted and rolled and snorted and put on the most ridiculous theatrics. A part of him, the harder, military side was looking down his nose at her, thoroughly aghast, while the other part, the new, more profound part was torn between vast levels of confusion and exhilarated delight. Honestly, whatever it was, it was, if nothing else, entrancing in the way watching a moth be swathed by a spider was; disturbing, viscerally haunting and absolutely fantastic. He couldn’t bring himself to look away, wide amber eyes raptly caught up in her erratic collection of antics until they brought her so close he could smell the comforting smell of blood and grass, dirt and air—the very core of a wolf’s existence- wafting from her pearly pelt.
He was stonily silent until the very end, confusion evident from the way he glanced from Mizuki to Hestia and back again, wondering if any of them had the slightest, most remote idea of what she was doing, if she herself knew. It was only when her breath touched his ear and she whispered an explanation that made entirely too much sense to him, was too familiar to misunderstand because she’d been doing the same thing over and over and over since the time they first met, that he put into action what he’d come to a conclusion on. She was cheering him up. Always the good soldier, always the one to lend a hand, to step in, to sacrifice and encourage and push back the omnipotent enemy they all knew was inexorable at the cost of herself if only to buy happiness a little more time. He searched her face, finding exactly what he expected to find, and nestled his nose in the crook of her neck.
“We are going to do exactly what you want to do. We’re going to run through the forest, all three of us, and catch the biggest moose you can imagine, with antlers so big he could fit a badger in one and so much meat on him that we wouldn’t be able to move for how full we were. You wouldn’t have to worry about me catching up because I’ll be the one leading, and afterwards we could go swimming in the lake just like we always see the young wolves do. If we race, I promise to let you win, because we both know I’m a fantastic swimmer.” Sadness, the happiest kind, laced his words. A reminiscent tone painting a picture of the future, both fanciful and hopeless, angry and eerily calm.
“And after we dry in the setting sun with the peepers singing to us we’ll come back to this cave and we’ll sleep in one giant heap, and it won’t matter who’s on the bottom because none of us ever have nightmares or worry about getting hurt or sick because we’re so entirely alive.” His breath staggered, voice achingly low and husky with pain. It wasn’t the physical kind, and it wasn’t the bad kind. It was the kind of pain that stemmed from having an emotion burn hot enough to hurt, to have it drag your tongue down to your stomach and your heart to your heels with the utter weight of its supremacy. And then, Filius smiled, all traces of grief and rage totally expunged.
“Thank you.”



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