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’s tail whipped up over her spine like that of a white-tailed deer, though less in alarm than in retaliation —for no sooner had she flashed him an unhindered view of powerful hindquarters and silken flanks than she bluntly countered his play-bite, her hard-toned shoulder swinging out into his path and catching him square on the chest. The massive dragga was forced to stumble sideways to maintain some momentum, a chuckle following the abrupt huff of air that left his lungs on impact. She plays rough. Good. Wolves revealed so many intricate facets of themselves without even thinking about them, and after boundless years Kershov had become adept at noticing these quirks and constructing detailed informational logs in his favor. As of this moment—this breathless all-out romp thudding with the fierce joy of freedom—he did not observe Athene with the intent to conquer. No thoughts of testing her limits, no desire to gnaw thoughtfully on the foundations that supported her pristine structure just to ascertain weakness or sniff out advantage . . . he would learn about her, yes—but through innocuous observation, the way a scientist walks respectfully into the field to acquaint himself less invasively with his subject. All the knowledge Athene granted Kershov would come of her own free will—it not consciously, then by virtue of her still growing trust of her Alpha.

Her shoulder-check had gained the white wolfess precious seconds. She drew in front of him, the shoulders Kershov now understood felt like solid marble under that snowy pelt in line with his muzzle. The scrape of her talons in the earth beat a rhythm with each gulping breath she took. Panting hard, breath rushing freely over a lolling tongue and diamond-hard daggers bared in an open-mouthed smile, the Czar considered nipping her again, curious as to what countermeasure she’d employ to throw him off this time . . . but his ferociously competitive nature banished that thought and he surged forward with a magnificent flex of muscles. In two strides, he’d shredded his way to run nose-to-nose with Athene; in another three his ribs heaved next to her jaws, lungs working like bellows to supply enough oxygen to the blood roaring ecstatically through his veins. The taste of exertion clung sticky and metallic to the back of his throat, saliva thickening with mucus and a most delicious ache throbbing somewhere behind his clenching heart. Kershov only glanced back once, as they were clawing their way up and over a log collapsed right across their path; Athene scaled it with astonishing athleticism, her body languid in its aerial arc only to regain its rigid control once her paws touched the earth. Her reserves are depleting rapidly, yet her control does not suffer. She wants to win. Or show off. Or she does not know the meaning of ‘quit.’

They galloped to the oak tree in what seemed like seconds—though Kershov’s entire frame radiated heat and runner’s endorphins as though he’d been sparring with Athene for hours. Both wolves had poured their all into the race, neither willing to give the other so much as an inch of advantage. Blood boiled and lungs gasped and muscles screamed with strain—and yet a pure and brilliant joy glowed through the space between them, the exultation of predators set loose to utilize their strength as far as it would go. Kershov only realized he had won the race when he heard Athene’s claws brake a second after he stopped. “I haven’t had that much fun since a mother moose tried to crush me for attacking her calf . . . I think I ran almost this fast.” His musing voice fell choppy and airless from wide open jaws, as if it were climbing a cliff up his throat to reach his lips. Athene stood mere inches away, her fabulous warrior physique quivering as the power stored in her limbs deserted her. Obsidian pools met cups of honey—and glinted to see she as grinning at him. After spending most her night active, working, the fact that she had joined him on this patrol-turned-romp—and agreed to their game—blew Kershov away.

He lowered his voice to a breathless, playful growl. “Are you ready for your challenge, Madame Athene?” The alabaster Emperor took a step back, giving the wolfess more room. “Since I am a kind, generous Alpha, I will even partake in the challenge with you. Now—drop and give me twenty.

Without waiting for the brindled brutale to begin—still alight with the competitive edge of before—Kershov stretched his body, spine crackling, and dipped his upper half to the earth, making something of a play-bow before pushing himself back up, weight distributed heavily on his sturdy forelegs. All the while his calculating onyx eyes never left Athene . . . both to ensure the warrioress was properly meeting her challenge, and to drink in the sight of her leaning forward, rump pointed skyward, the slope of her spine like a smooth white brushstroke.


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


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