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’.




Her grace did not surprise him—but it did enchant him, her muscles moving with the lithe liquid grace of a serpent uncoiling, strong tendons pulling bones under rippling fur without clumsy resistance or the stiff ache of fatigue. Stretched, limber, and ready. And Kershov knew that Athene had already dipped into her undoubtedly impressive reserves of energy before he’d even opened his eyes this morning, for an aura of heat enrobed her body like the glow of the sun behind a cloud. What had kept her active for so many hours? Had the she-gladiator been exploring her new home, learning its layout as Kershov planned to do? Had she been training, sparring with shadows amidst this garden of boulders? Perhaps both . . . one warrior recognized another, and although they’d been trained by different schools, the Ice King understood that a soldier’s loyalty was merely a single aspect to the diamond that was Athene. A thrill coursed through him when she smirked, playful and proud. Warlord instincts roared to life, the desire to learn all he could about this wondrous tool that entrusted herself to his rule.

She is a master of her craft. The thought presented itself with absolutely certainty at the forefront of his brain, a decision reached when Athene met his gaze with unwavering oceans of honey. No doubt or weakness lurked in her intelligent portals—she possessed full confidence in herself, her strengths, the king she’d allied herself with. And Kershov silently rejoiced in the comradery this wolfess had given him without realizing it. Instantly, deeply, he concluded that if he could entrust anyone with his life or his secrets, it was this fearless female soldier.

She held his stare for a heartbeat—lingering on the edge of conversation—until without a sound she charged past him, close enough for her brindled pelt to slip against the ivory plane of his ribs.

Kershov did not make her wait. He pivoted on his paws, galloping after her in great long strides that devoured the earth, claws gauging trenches with each heavy step. The air he inhaled was still heavy with evaporated dew, sweet and thick as sap in his lungs. Athene must have felt worn from whatever exercises she’d endured before dawn, yet she used the warmth to keep her motion supple and unhindered—soaring over obstacles with breathtaking swiftness. Soon the massive Czar had caught up to her, sprinting so that his muzzle hovered in line with her pallid flanks. Their pace synchronized, a rhythm established, and for a moment it sounded as if they were a single powerful entity rather than two separate vargs reveling in their freedom.

He herded her toward the southern walls with a light buffet of his skull against her side, daring to nip at that silver-streaked fur to watch her reaction. Athene wasn’t Frekari—and in fact he’d bet his tail she would rip the skin off any who’d make such a comparison—but that wouldn’t stop her Alpha from testing her in any delicious way he saw fit. “Shall we make this interesting?” he called between gulping in breaths, obsidian windows glinting with dark humor. “First one to that oak over yonder is the drill sergeant. He may challenge his underling to any task he sees fit, until the next checkpoint. Agreed?” Then—no warning—Kershov aimed a mock-bite at Athene’s tail, hoping to surprise her just enough to surge forward.


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


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