Perhaps changed most of all out of all of the packs is this place. It was stripped out of its forested home and now instead lays at the edge of an ocean. The vast sparkling eternity of the water lays to the south of the land, while the rest of the land is made of rocky outjuttings. Gone are the trees, and all that remains for greenery are the short shrubs that dot the paths in the rock, and the moss that grows thanks to the spray of the waves. Further toward the shore, barnacles are a plenty, and look to cut the pads of those who slip on the wet surface. These extend out into the water itself, and the tough land has multiple caverns scraped into it, providing ample dens for the wolves that live there. Depending on the tide, however, the lower caverns may flood, and the vicious swirling water may prove to be dangerous as there is a strong undertide ready to pull unsuspecting swimmers to their doom. Even the tide itself is powerful enough to push intruders against one cliff or another. The ocean does provide, however, plenty of food for those who brave the waters - there are many breeds of seals and sea lions, though the males that protect each of these are vicious and territorial. There are also turtles that come ashore to breed and to lay their eggs - both the adults and the eggs themselves can provide sustenance to the wolves. But they must take care - the water is deep enough to allow sharks to come to shore from the depths below. Those unwilling to venture the waves or wet their paws with the moist sand of the shore can find snakes and hares in the rocky outcroppings, but they must beware the Komodo dragon and other monitor lizards that perch upon the shore - they are swift and move in groups, not to mention they carry venom in their bite that causes immense pain, paralysis, and prevents blood clotting. This is not the land for the weak of heart or the weak at all really. This is Uyaraut - ‘The Diamond in the Rough’.




Athene spoke regally, her entire frame exuding a muted confidence and strength that Kershov sensed like sunlight beating steadily down on stone. She knew exactly who she was and what she could offer—and the newly crowned Czar could not have asked for a more perfect addition to the military. She took a spot just behind him when he sent a threat toward the kalak lass as if she’d been born to stand there; he flicked his plume to indicate he noticed and appreciated her actions, then riveted his attention upon the clearly more recalcitrant member of the group.

The saucy firebird dropped to the ground just as Kershov’s teeth clicked on air—her grace making the rapid duck-and-roll into choreography. Tongue lathing his exposed pearls slowly, lazily, the new King dragged his gaze up and down the kalak’s toned abdomen. Her underside glowed with faint cream, the color mixed subtly into the autumn russet of her fur; her stilts had been dipped in the same smoky kohl as her mane, as though they were the branches upon which flames danced. At last his ebony stare fell back upon feisty coffee. “I’m quite satisfied, thank you.” And that lovely stretch is much appreciated, too. The comment remained behind his daggers, though Kershov made no effort to hide the fact he was mentally logging each aerodynamically sculpted point of the woman before him. He chuckled indulgently and stilled his posture as the kalak—Kari—leaned in. “A private meeting, darling? I’m already looking forward to it.”

He expected Kari to target Athene with her sardonic humor next—and he was not disappointed. Tension thick enough to bite through instantly crystallized between the two females, a palpable electricity that tickled the back of Kershov’s throat like a whiff of hot ozone. Icy hackles lifted, ears strained forward, muscles went taut with the intention to intervene . . . yet the Emperor held himself back, for now. He wanted to witness this pair sharpen their teeth on one another. See how they fared. He’d always been a ruler that allowed underlings to sort out disagreements among themselves . . . no matter how bloody the resolution might prove. Dear ladies, be gentle—we’ve only just met.

Unfortunately, the match-up of a lifetime needed to be halted; that delectable tension was seconds away from its inevitable breaking point when a third wolfess entered the scene—one whom Kershov knew on sight, and whose dusky fur was suddenly mixing with his immaculate white like ash and snow.

"Macaria.” He replicated the chilled tone of her voice, onyx windows appraising her. The last time Kershov had been face-to-face with Macaria, the niece of the greatest healer Blossom Forest had ever seen, the poor girl was groveling snot-nosed and sobbing at his paws—terrified. He’d caught Grey Wind hiding her away like a jealous dragon with his precious horde on Abendrot soil; enraged, the alabaster gangster had ordered them both to remain in the territory until he’d thought of a punishment severe enough to balance the egregious and willful disobedience that had nearly opened a rift between Kershov’s army and Saw Tooth. Of course . . . that retribution never reached its intended victims. Only a little while later, the Pharaoh had forced himself to abdicate the throne and escape Blossom’s landscape altogether. That had been during his Darkness . . . the period in which uncontrollable emotion thickened into a sickening chyme that roiled black and filthy and infectious inside him, rendering the previously collected Monarch a savage invalid. Seeing Macharia again—her pretty, sooty face just as he remembered it—sent a faint pang echoing in his empty chest. He allowed synapses forged by the trauma of losing his mind fire once, reliving the horror of an anger slowly eating his self-control, and then all was quiet.

“I’ve missed Grey Wind’s company. He was a good soldier, when he wasn’t sequestering uninvited guests in his den.” A twitch of the ear signified that Ker made the comment in jest, despite the seriousness of his expression. The massive dragga inclined his head so that he might murmur in Macaria’s ear next, their faces so close his whiskers brushed the shadowy richness of her pelt. “I anticipate the fascinating changes you’ve survived, Miss Macaria. None who give their loyalty shall be slaves here . . .” Now he pulled back, a glint flashing through his bottomless irises that might have been dangerous lust. “Not unless they desire to be used.

White banner flying high, Kershov strut in a circle around his faes—and a beautiful burst of satisfaction warmed his insides when he realized he already thought of them as “his.” They were a vibrant, vicious flock of femme fatales, each unique and deadly in her own right, and the ivory warrior practically purred when he imagined what sort of havoc they might create when utilized correctly. There was Kari, his little fireborn phoenix; Athene, the poetic she-gladiator; and Macaria, the wildcard, the dark butterfly who’d apparently gnawed her way from her own chrysalis. Soon he hoped to glimpse Grey Wind—the taciturn soldier who had impressed Kershov more than he could ever understand. As a healthy male with an ever-burning libido, Ker felt more than ready to handle a harem of ferocious females—but Grey Wind would provide a reliable dose of testosterone should any fool think Bright Moon weak simply because of its sex ratio.

“My dear ladies,” Kershov stated with polite, silken tones, standing so that he faced each of them, “it looks as if we have a real pack. What are the odds that Bright Moon would serendipitously attract a siren battalion? I don’t expect all of you to get along without friction—we are clearly creatures of survival—but now we are bound. These . . .” He indicated each wolfess in turn, gaze passing from one to the other. “. . . are your sisters. Bicker if you must, but I will not tolerate outright in-pack violence. You may take that beyond the border, so the poor losing bitch can serve as a warning to any that underestimate the level of dedication required in this faction.” He flashed a devious smile, one that extended the mutilated grin on one side of his face and made it an entire mask of horror. “Welcome home. Any questions?”


【Free – tied to none – father to Kirastasia and Kavik – LSVK】


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