Where once the southern border of Blossom Forest was made by Leisure Lake, the magical rearrangement of the lands has laid there instead a vast, uncrossable ocean. The shore differs as you travel along it. Tall mountainous cliffs arise on the western part and at one point, the large river that runs through Blossom Forest opens up at its tributary into a well sheltered cove. As you come more eastward, the towering peaks shorten into rocky foothills. A large section of the shore is inaccessible to most, as Uyaraut has claimed it as their own. But if you skirt around their territory, the hills disappear, swallowed up into the land until it is as flat as the eye can see. The vibrant greens dull into short and dry browns and tans, and the land dries and cracks apart until it melds into The Waste - the desert that forms Blossom Forest’s easternmost border.

For those looking to hunt here, there are of course the fish within the ocean, along with crabs, seals and urchins. For on the shore, there are seagulls, herons, and ospreys.




He had not realized the phoenix couldn’t swim—most canines knew inherently how to thrash their way through water with varying degrees of grace, so that unless they swam against a violent current death by drowning was highly unlikely. Kershov did not remember needing to “learn” how to kick his legs when he submerged himself in a lake; he walked into the water until he floated, and then his limbs began churning with memory already encoded into his very DNA. Frekari’s limbs latched onto him like a young bird clinging to a branch; her claws scrabbled against his sides, digging for purchase; her heartbeat slammed against her breast bone, a rhythm Kershov could feel as his chest pressed against hers. She cried out in shock—then a second time in fear—as their combined weight sloshed into a deeper section of the lake. Surprise made the glacial Pharaoh’s body freeze for a moment, muscles and skeletal structure on pause as his mind raced for what to do next. He hadn’t meant to terrify this insolent creature!

The russet wolfess was only allowed to flail and gasp for a mouthful of seconds until Kershov yanked her up by the scruff, forcing her head above the rippling surface. He dragged her wordlessly back toward the shallows, which were barely a yard away. He ensured her paws had touched the slippery mud at the bottom before releasing her, fathomless onyx eyes carefully reading her expression. “I think you’ve told me quite a lot just now, Frekari.” Those molten chocolate portals, previously so bright with wicked humor and recalcitrant energy, now gleamed feverishly with panic. Breaths tore from her lungs in deep, uneven pants, as if she couldn’t get enough air. She . . . literally thought Kershov would drown her. Or, even if her brain did not fully accept it, her body had assumed it was about to die. This sort of visceral reaction unmasked a buried phobia, one the winter dragon might not have discovered any other way. He blinked. “So . . . no leisurely morning swims. Noted.”

Kershov was not the sort of beast who tortured his subjects once he’d pulled something out of them. He tested, he challenged, he tormented—but always with a purpose, and never consciously to the point of ruining them. After Kari’s display of hydrophobia, he determined their game was officially over. Frekari might think she still possessed enough fire to combat the unpredictable path of his ice . . . yet her Alpha had made up his mind. No more pushing. Now they could interact on an even playing field, without tests to obscure their conversation. Ker turned and calmly marched from the lake, stopping to shake out his coat once he stepped on the dry rock-strewn bank. He glanced over to see if the Kalak was following, mask neutral and cool as polished glass.

“I placed you in a delicate situation unknowingly. I apologize.” A soft swish of his tail, the closest it would come to wagging. “I assure you I am not a monster, and take no particular joy in scaring my subalterns. To put your mind at ease, I could promise that something like this will never happen again . . . but along with not being a monster, I am also not a liar. You’ve just shown me a weakness. I like to correct those in my wolves, if I can.” He tilted his head, considering her intensely. “And . . . if they wish to be corrected.”


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


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