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.

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Our Pain Becomes Their Power
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Fear Makes People Do Terrible Things



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Life had been slowing down lately, and boredom was a more and more common feeling for the brute. The pack that he had joined with Halina had been quiet lately, but that was not entirely bad in the brute’s mind. Lupin had always been one to keep to himself, not having many friends but preferring life that way. He didn’t want to have to always fake interactions with others, pretending to be happy and energetic when he was not. That was one of the reasons that he had agreed to go along with Halina when she had found him as a pup. After he had lost his family at such a young age he had been on his own, learning to take care of himself and not rely on anyone. In his wanderings at that time he had met many vargs offering to take him in, to treat them as their own so he wouldn’t have to be on his own. But he didn’t want a mother or father, he had them and lost them, and he didn’t want to be coddled by some pack. And so he had rejected everyone that had offered him this, knowing that he didn’t want to go some place that pretended that everything in the world was perfect, because he knew the exact opposite was true.

Lupin still remembered when Halina had approached him, offering him basically how much or how little he wanted. If he wanted her as a mother she would adopt him as her own, if he preferred not to then she would still back him back to her pack but more to train him, as her protégé. That was why he had agreed and gone back to Abendrot with her. She seemed to understand what he was thinking about not wanting someone to replace the family he previously had, but she was also not treating him like some ignorant pup like the rest had done. Even though he was feeling independent he was not stupid and knew that there was still much for him to learn. He had been doing a pretty good job on his own so far, but he would thrive if he had others to teach him more, and Halina seemed just the one to do it.

When he had first followed Halina to Abendrot it had been just as she described. Noone was there to constantly bother him and be in his business, but the female was always nearby should he need anything. Halina, along with her mate Ygritte had done training sessions together and the brute grew stronger everyday. But after some time life came into a routine, and things were predictable and boring. So the male had gone to exploring areas outside Abendrot, leaving the pack when it seemed that nothing was going on at all. The brute still preferred to travel at night, despite his days spent with Halina and Ygritte. For months the moon had been his best friend and traveling companion when he was on his own, and he didn’t abandon his nighttime travels. So the skinny brown male found himself wandering outside Abendrot’s borders once more after what seemed to be another boring time. The brute found himself wandering for hours, not paying attention to where he was going or what he was doing, and before he knew it the sun was setting. Normally he would feel tired now, and find a dark hidden corner to sleep in, but today the usual tiredness didn’t come, so he decided to stay on the path he was on and continue his explorations.

The weather was warm now, and the brute found the sun’s rays keeping him warmer than he would like so he headed to find some water. The brute turned his scarred head up, looking around to determine where he was now that he had a goal in mind. Lupin had spent a long time exploring these lands so he knew that Staircase Falls was the closest larger body of water to him. He thought that going for a swim wouldn’t be a bad idea either with how warm the summer time became. So he increased his pace a bit, trotting in the direction of the falls. It didn’t take him long to reach his destination, and without paying too much attention to who else may be there the brute padded forward to take a long drink from the cool water. Even though it had been hot and dry lately, the falls were still plenty deep and the water was rougher than it usually was. Lupin paid special attention to where he went when he padded into the water, staying in pockets where rocks made the water less choppy. The male’s skinny stilts wadded into the water, letting out a sigh as he felt the heat from the sun leave him with the cool water. The brute looked around now, his green orbs searching the area around him. He spotted another, a female, basking on the rocks right under the falls. The brute knew it would have been very difficult to swim over, so she probably used the many rocks to get there. Lupin waded around some of the rocks, curious as to why she would go through so much trouble for one sitting area. He was as far as he could get in the water without leaping on the rocks when he called out to her. ”Hello ma’am, what brings you to the falls today?” He was not often the one to strike up a conversation, but he had been bored lately and there was not much else for him to do.

Picture credit to LSVK!

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**Lupin**Brute**Protégé of Halina**Loveless**No Heirs**Abendrot**Older Teen**Violet








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