When solid ground grows soft with emerald moss and rivulets of black mud, and coffee-colored water pours slowly around the trunks of densely carpeted trees, this marks the beginning of Laod Mor: the swamp of Blossom Forest. Time itself seems to slow to a soporific crawl . . . the humid jungle air grows stagnant, thick with the scent of rich flooded earth and an abundance of green things that can be found nowhere else—except perhaps Caidir Olc. In some areas of the swamp, water rises so high the only way to cross it is to crawl across fallen logs or massive roots arching from their liquid beds; in other places a wolf might wade easily through the mire—or find a fortunate stretch of mostly dry earth. Pieces of the great river, Glaesfaet Sceawere, also slice through from time to time: small falls that feed into surprisingly clear pools, only to terminate into tar-like pits. Of course, Laod Mor’s beauty shines brightest at night. Here, fireflies gather at all times of the year . . . suffusing the shadowy place with millions of twinkling lights.

Those looking to hunt here of course find a myriad of water prey, including caiman, turtles, fish, crayfish, otters, and toads.



I… I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to me… Romulus lifted his head, auds pricked forwards. He could feel her insecurity as he reached around her, checking areas that, as she confirmed, no male had ever touched. If it were in any other situation, Rom would have played with her a bit just to make her blush. But that was pointless now since he had no eyes. And even if he had had his lanterns… rape was something he was disgusted by. He was the offspring of such actions and he had no desire to see anyone else’s son go through the same bullshit he had been forced through in the kingdom of Axel’s descendants. Nymeria got up on her own easier than the stilted fellow first thought she would. He followed her, though not too closely. For though Romulus was concerned, he would not admit that he was emotionally close to the girl. When Nymeria had settled herself into the water, that’s when Romulus heard her. What’s wrong with me, Rom? He paused, practically feeling the confusion and fear in her voice. Her gaze, too, would not gather itself onto his own body. So the hessain got close and did something he’d never even dreamed of doing before. He began grooming the girl. The gargoyle would gather water in his mouth then gently bite the girls body with it flowing from his ivories. This was useful with dirt that just didn’t want to come out.

There’s nothing wrong with you, Nymeria. He quoted as he slid his teeth past her shoulder. But you must know what your own body goes through. Remember it. If you are afraid of recalling it, don’t be. The next thing he said was out of his mouth before he even could process the words themselves. I’ll keep you safe for the time being. And he would. Romulus had no intention of leaving the ess any time soon. He would even take her back to Munashii Gekko if it was necessary.

Stand. He would not baby her. Stand up, Nymeria. Get yourself into the water. I will help you clean.


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