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’.




The ease with which the band of males connected together made Kershov’s throat tighten with an emotion he’d rather not name. Relief . . . familiarity . . . peace? He felt as though they could tackle a mountain together and bite boulders in half with their fangs. Mabbit moved with a surety and grace that contradicted his humble personality; Grey Wind marched like a seasoned soldier, a dragon cloaked in silver. Heaven forbid someone cross us now. They wouldn’t live to tell the tale.

It was only when Grey Wind caught up to Ker’s side and asked a perfectly harmless question that the Alpha’s gait fluctuated, hackles rising with inner turmoil. “I was . . . finding myself.” Kershov inwardly winced at what sounded, even to him, the pretentious words of a fool. He hadn’t meant to sound so bloody clandestine and vague—but how else could the frost-born phantom possible explain what he’d gone through? Madness had shattered its bonds and rampaged through his system; it had seized the icy infrastructure meant to contain it within merciless jaws and smashed it into ruins; the pieces of his mind he’d so painstakingly organized were destroyed, fractured, and flung to the winds. All that intelligence, all the careful plotting and years of work—destroyed in a few months. Ker had already been too far gone the moment Scarlet Nights abandoned her throne. The monster inside had spread its influence within him like an infection, festering in his blood and hollowing his bones with poison. Eventually, the danger it posed to his own pack—the ones he realized now he truly cared for, and not just in the facet of mere pawns—was too great to ignore. So the Alpha had exiled himself . . . and spent many moon cycles struggling to rediscover the methodical, frigidly controlled warlord he’d once been.

“There was something . . . wrong with me.” His lyrics faltered slightly, voice catching on words as his brain flipped through the best way to convey his message. “I spent all this time trying to make it right again.” Eyes the color of a starless night sky remained fixed ahead at the woods. Kershov did not slow his pace. Outwardly, he gave no indication that this admission upset him, other than a crease that formed on his brow like a crack in white marble. Instinctively the Ice King was preparing to defend himself should Mabbit and Grey Wind close ranks to attack; he knew neither wolf would do so—they possessed far too much honor—but betrayal was well within the abilities of a tundra gangster. In Ker’s mind, he had done something unforgiveable by abdicating his rule. He’d left his pack with unanswered questions, in turmoil, without the curtesy of a goodbye. True, the glacial gladiator had done what he honestly felt was right . . . but would Grey Wind and his brother see it this way? Would they understand how dangerous their old Pharaoh had become those past months? Would they validate his decision to leave them in order to protect them—or resent the fact he could not save himself fast enough?

The pallid poltergeist’s jaw clenched. Gears turned, constructing explanations behind his teeth—

And that’s when he scented it: an old stag, kicking through the underbrush ahead. The animal was downwind of them, but shuffling at the bottom of a hill, giving the wolves the territorial advantage. Kershov instantly froze, body dropping into a hunting crouch. Every muscle strained with sudden restless energy, ears standing straight up and jaws salivating. Wordlessly he glanced at Mabbit, directing the black soldier to the right with a silent sweep of his tail; the darker wolf would have a stealth advantage thanks to his shadowy coat, and would be able to sneak closer to their quarry while Grey Wind and Ker stalked the stag more obviously. The ivory beast would lead the way, his white coat flashing through the mist in sight of the deer, while Grey Wind would slip unseen just behind him—circling around to drive toward Mabbit.


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


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