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.


A Handmaiden's Tale

Olya peered at the other female when she asked her first question… How hot she gone away? Olea shook her head once and then a second time with her brows furrowed. She did not and could not understand the question. And after all, she had always been told that once a slave, always a slave. But then again, she had also been told that there were no free wolves who were not of the maned wolf blood line. And the thought of running away? It was more terrifying than the thought of staying. The punishment for trying to run away what's worse that any punishment she had ever received ever before… And she had no wish to become unfamiliar terms with that level of cruelty and abuse." I… I don't understand your question. Do you mean how did I get mistress Lilith away from her attackers? I can answer that question. But if you mean something else you must rephrase it, for I do not understand your intentions." The lass crept A bit closer to the other female, but still kept a goodly distance between the two of them. However, she startled and nearly skittered away when Camille made an exclamation about her injury and move closer to her. Immediately, Olya's tail tucked itself between her hind limbs and she hunkered down to the ground, leaning away. Her wide pale blue eyes dashed about, looking for the best place to exit, but Camille quickly realize her error and lay down. The slave did not to relax, but did not run either. Not a second later, Camille was apologizing for her sudden movements and Olya dropped her gaze to the ground in shame - had her desire for distance offended the other?

Yet another question was asked, this time it was how did she get hurt. Her mind sweat too hard time on the misty, fogged peak with Siku and she shuttered - she had been so sure that he had been lying to her too, but now she was unsure. He truly had tried to care for her, and tried to clean her wound, but her frantic descent had only broken the wound up yet again. "I… Well… Mistress Lilith asked to be alone with her new friend. I am not allowed to disobey my mistress over all others, and so I took the time to explore this new land. I made my way up a mountain, and they are I found a ghost. It, or rather he, frightened me, and I fell unconscious. When I woke up he was carrying me and not a ghost at all! But still, I became frightened yet again and thrashed against him and fell to the ground and smacked my head against the rock floor. He cleaned it for me before I ran away… It is not much of a wound at all. I have had much worse." Olya shrugged, really not thinking much of all of her head wound. It was small and only superficial, and though he had given her a headache, at least it had not maimed her. For the first time in her life, the next part of the conversation was steered by Olya herself. She had allowed her curiosity to slip through her lips, and a question had fallen from her open kissers-about what it was like to grow up free. Camille had not disappointed her, that had answered the question in detail and with a story. Much of it, the slave could not understand. After all, she had never been allowed to go on a hunt for large game, and only ever received scraps from her masters, or at least lesser animals at her food.

She also could not understand the life that Camille describe-having no orders, or at least having no punishment for disobeying orders. But that was not really it either, was it? In the faraway clan, there was of course a hierarchy system in place, but it was not Alpha, Beta, Gamma, et Cetera. There was an Alpha of each pack yes, and his Royal family filled the rest of the rings. But they were mainly lords, ladies, and other such ranks. More than that though, Olya could not understand how having an alpha give orders was different than having a master give orders. Were there not consequences for disobeying each of them? But then Camille said one keyword-free will. It was an alien term for the lass but she could at least comprehend its meaning. The ability of a free wolf to decide what they did, where they lived, and who they served under, if anyone at all. It seemed wonderful, and yet at the same time terrifying. How would she ever be able, if she had been born free, two side anything at all? To make any decisions for herself? She had never had that choice before, and she just simply did not understand how it worked.

The last question fell from the other's maw, And Camille was completely right about it, no one had ever asked Olya it to before. How did she feel about being a slave? Once more, the kalak shook her head and furrowed her brow. It seems that in this land, most of her time would be spent in confusion. "A slave does not feel Miss. Well, we have emotions such as terror, fear, tiredness and the lucky ones of us may even find love with another slave. But to have a feeling about being a slave?" she held her tongue and try to use her mind to work through the question. Was she really asking how she felt about it? Did she really mean the word felt? Was there a different meaning to the word felt other than one's emotions and feelings? Her mind drifted to call of the war councils she had been forced to sit in on, sitting docile and prettily at Farant's side. One by one, each of the generals had given their opinion on who to go to war with, how to initiate it, how to defend, how to attack. Was that what Camille meant now? Was she looking for Olya's opinion on the matter? If so, Olya was at a complete loss. " do you… Do you mean my opinion? Do you mean my opinion on my being a slave? It is not up to me to decide my place in life, nor is it my place to even consider giving my opinion. I am a slave, I have always been a slave, and I always will be a slave until the day I die. That is the way. That is how it must be."


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