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

Without warning, a laugh popped from Kira’s maw, as sudden and light as the chirp of a bird. To see Kahlan struggling, reaching for reasons not to be with her, it was nearly too adorable to handle. “My mate probably wouldn’t be happy if I added another to our den, if I had a mate,” the girl chortled, tail wagging furiously behind her. Oh, this was just too cute! And so flattering! It was true that most would consider Kirastasia a trophy of a wife: she was physically flawless, strong and lovely, with an infectious sense of humor able to chase away even the deepest shadows. Though she might throw the occasional tantrum, her temper was nearly always benign. Males should have been killing each other to woo her . . . but alas, during her time in Saw Tooth and Malignant she hadn’t met very many eligible bachelors. And to be honest, the girl intimidated many of the single males that happened to cross her path. She was so, so brilliant—a star that burned those that dare stare at its splendor for too long.

But what a flattering notion . . . that Kah should simply assume Kira was betrothed by now. The fishnet punkette quickly dispelled this idea. “I am unattached. My den is in Malignant now, and it’s lonely and cold and awful. When I have nightmares, there’s no one around to chase them away.” This was classic misdirection: removing the guilt of the suffering by offering them a way to be useful. Surely Kahlan couldn’t object to warming Kirastasia’s bed if it helped the lonely heiress? “I miss having a friend nearby. It’s so empty . . .”

Her lyrics faded away when she noticed the abrupt swell of agony filling Kahlan’s golden eyes. Unseen memories were wracking her with pain, shredding at her heartstrings, and all Kira wanted to do was curl around the wonderful creature until she could breathe without aching. “Hush, Kah. How could you say such a thing?” Kira narrowed her glittering honey-colored eyes at her demure treasure, but the expression was playful and warm, a teasing mask meant to cajole Kahlan out of her guilt. She continued not a breath later, before the earth-sculpted queen could try to find any other pitiful excuses. “Don’t you think I’m smart enough to make my own decisions? I wouldn’t offer my friendship and support if I didn’t think I were capable of giving them. Believing that you’d slow ME of all people down is nothing short of an insult. Nobody holds me back—especially not pretty healers with more knowledge of herbs than I could fit in my brain.” The ivory princess needed Kah vulnerable, frightened, lost—but not to the point where the battered valkyrie gave up altogether. She had to inspire just enough positivity within the huntress’s wounded soul to encourage her to hold on . . . to cling to hope . . . because Kira wasn’t sure she could pull Kahlan back if she sank too far into darkness. Kahlan had to want to lean on Kira. And for Kahlan to want that, she had to know her value. Even if she didn’t entirely believe in it.

On tender impulse, Kira extended her neck so that she could gently lap away the singular tear shining like a lone diamond on Kah’s cheek. She suppressed a shudder at the lovely taste, salty like caramel and heavy with all the she-wolf’s mingled emotions. It brought to mind what other flavors this fantastic goddess might have in store . . . and here Kirastasia forced herself to swallow the wave of lust that threatened to crush her self control. She quickly rebuilt the compassionate visage she wore before, placing a much more exuberant and almost sisterly smooch against the spot her tongue had just caressed. “Kah, you daft loon. As there is always space in the sky for the sun’s bright rays, so there will be room in my den for you. The trees never tire of birdsong, and my ears will never tire of your troubles. We’re friends, are we not?”

The emotion glowing from the snowbird’s half-lidded windows could not be more genuine if she consciously tried to amplify it. As empty and selfish and voracious as the dragoness was, she truly cared for the precious toys in her collection. Nothing would please her more than to discover happiness for her perfect, beloved Kahlan—so long as that happiness rested in her own clutching paws.

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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