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.


h e a r t . t h r o b

you don't have to love me . . . you don't even have to like me . . . but you WILL respect me

Despite the silencing of their music, the falls still made a breathtaking picture. The gigantic river that fed them poured into numerous pools and cups as it fell, its journey downward stacked into steppes and caverns and stony overhangs glistening with frost. Wolves could rest on one level without ever laying eyes on their neighbors; there could be privacy even when standing a single plane above the nearest beating heart. Toward the bottom, the layers subtly evened out, but where Kira stood her maple lanterns saw only harsh edges plated with ivory glass. A stubborn pout tightened her pert muzzle. Very well. She would find Kahlan, no matter if she had to hike up and down these falls or not—

“Oh, Kira . . .”

The snowbird’s empty heart took flight in her chest. She whirled around, fine paws skidding on a thin sheet of ice, and whimpered for joy at what she saw. There stood Kahlan. The lovely. The wise. The generous. Was it possible for her to become more beautiful after all this time?

Kirastasia had thrown herself at the wolfess without wasting a breath. In her exuberance she all but tackled the huntress to the ground, throwing her brindled forelimbs around Kahlan’s shoulders and burying her muzzle in the richness of that earthen pelt. So incredibly soft. Other scents threaded through Kah’s dreamy perfume, tokens of where she’d traveled and who she’d been with . . . and the latter, the princess could hardly detect at all. How could that be? Wolves of Saw Tooth wore their signature pack musk like armor. Theirs was a kingdom that seethed with activity, a massive family unrivaled by the other territories. For it to linger so faintly in the satin tapestry of Kahlan’s fur . . .

And then, belatedly, Kira realized that her schoolgirl crush did not feel as bright and warm as she usually did. The sun that had lit her life had dimmed. Sadness lay heavy over Kahlan’s gentle aura.

The alabaster damsel pulled away from the comfort of her infatuation’s coat, gingerly freeing her from the desperate embrace she had all but slammed her with. Her luminous amber windows flickered affectionately, brimming with concern, into Kahlan’s tired visage. “What happened, Kah?” Kira asked, voice barely hovering above a whisper. One of her paws reached forward to rest lightly on one of Kahlan’s, soft pads just touching the perfect claws. “Are you here to visit the Falls? Or did you . . . run away?”

why? 'cause I'm the boss!

【Heiress of Malignant – pining for Kahlan – daughter of Kershov x Queens – sister to Kavik – LSVK】


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