Glaesfaet Sceawere is the name gifted to the mother river that flows through the center of Blossom Forest, bringing life and sustenance to all of the lands. It breaks off in many places, giving birth to smaller streams and estuaries, but the main body flows from the lake high in the north in Dierne Hrof all the way south down through Uyaraut to empty into the ocean. It is a fresh water river, but down through Uyaraut, the salt water does taint it. In places, parts of the river are underground and run through caverns unseen from aboveground.

Water buffalo grace these shores - with plenty of meat, though at a dangerous cost. Many river trout leap upstream daily.


behind darkness, beneath candles

❝thє shσrtєst dístαncє вєtwєєn twσ pσínts . . .❞

Two brutes: the black and the white, the layman and the Ofer, their thick masculine bulk comically large compared to the delicate smallness that was sweet Princess Zawyne. Losa kept her posture rigidly locked around her sister in a protective embrace, legs clamped on either side of Zawyne’s frame and tense upper body shielding the pup mostly from view, her royal amethyst lanterns narrowed to sharp scimitar shards—ready to slice. The beginnings of a growl bubbled hot in her throat, promises of death and dismemberment crawling up the base of her tongue. Hackles of sorbet pink and lemon yellow ruffled like the feathers of a warrior headdress along her nape. It went against every cell of Losa’s nature to inflict violence—an Arcus Irae’s very purpose stood to defeat it—and yet the princess would do everything in her power to protect the Lorer of her kingdom and the sunshine of her soul, even if it meant wetting her pearls with the blood of these two strangers—

“Quiet down my love, sister mine!”

“Zawyne?” Her murderous purple gaze broke from either male and fell upon her siblings face with shock, fury instantly evaporating from her fairylike structure and leaving the coolness of snow in its place. The transformation was whiplash quick. Losa settled over Zaffy like a mother hen, posture loose and fluffy as cotton candy, as if the fire meadow’s voice had erased the Ofer and the charcoal hessian from existence. When Zawyne spoke the men’s names, Losa’s gaze levelled coolly on each one—sizing them up, a falcon contemplating two insignificant mice—before drawing her attention fully back to the rainbow bundle tucked safely beneath her. “How kind of Sir Noctis to watch out for you like that. I am pleased we did not require his assistance to find each other, however.” Losa peered up toward the ebony soldier, wearing a beatific grin that belonged in the painting of an angel . . . if that angel were one of vengeance, and smiled down upon those it vanquished. “You have my thanks, serf. A selfless knight is hard to find. Zawyne was lucky to run into you.” And you are lucky that I arrived before you touched her—because I would have slit you from nose to navel.

Despite the bizarreness of the situation, the dark male maintained a watchful aura, his intelligent red-flecked eyes observing Losa with a quiet and curious calculation as he no doubt attempted to piece together Losa and Zawyne’s relationship before the sisters spoke. Nothing about him warned of secret harnessed aggression or ill intent; cruel, negative energy radiated from wolves like heat from an infection, and when Losa failed to draw any sort of threat from this sooty brute she grudgingly relaxed. Her darling sibling and this mysterious man must have been conversing for more than a few seconds before she arrived like a whirlwind, and he had not made a move to harm her—though he possessed ample opportunity. Simply by being older and male, Noctis posed a danger to the tiny Arcus Irae. He had no right to speak to Zawyne. Losa wanted to glare at him, wanted to snap her jaws warningly at his face while she snuggled her sunrise closer, and instead she gave up with a huff, her chin resting lightly on Zaffy’s head as the younger lass begged her patience. Rionnag Air Imrich had decided to let Noctis off the hook. For now.

The Oferwader was another matter entirely.

“Even a deer’s carcass smells good before you detect the rot,” Losa muttered into the blue-streaked fur of Zawyne’s ruff, her ears flattening against her skull. Inwardly the tormented princess knew she should not have treated the blue-eyed knight with such mistrust. She felt her soul instinctively try to melt under the warm azure glow of his lanterns, his energy suffusing the air around him with thoughts of protection and safety, and still the fae attempted to shut herself away from him. Her heart wept against its restraints. It wanted to feel defended. It wanted to run to the Tempest’s side and hide against the pristine alabaster of his coat. Losa wrestled that part down and gritted her teeth against the desperate ache. No. You cannot trust him. He could be working for Duma, and you would not know until you and Zawyne were delivered back to his teeth like a pair of dead rabbits. “I think we will be better off on our own, dearest Weargraede. The other Arcus Irae need our help . . . and this Tempest is probably too busy to . . .” Pools the color of galaxies lifted once more to gleaming sapphire. That pull to draw near him almost stopped her heart. At the precise moment he breathed her name, Losa’ blurted his title.


Immediately she backtracked, alarm sirens ringing in her ears, and she experienced a horrifying moment of weightlessness—as if watching this world through a distorted lens upon which another universe had been superimposed, thin as a membrane, memories not her own encroaching upon her mind like panicked birds fighting for the same nest. If possible, the ivoro—Aindreas!—reacted even worse. He shook his head, those oceans of impossible blue focused on something none of them could see. Each syllable he spoke had Losa shaking harder and harder. He recognized her. They had never met. They were bound. They were strangers. “You’re my Ofer.” Her tight lyrics came out as a half-sob. She shied frantically away from the relief draping itself across her shoulders—to relax was dangerous, and Losa could not afford its luxury. When he dropped to his ventrum, Losa bolted to her paws, trembling. Impossible. Impossible! The princess needed to do something, now, before the terror and trauma of the past few weeks destroyed her and left her helpless to save herself or the other rainbows—

“Ofer Aindreas: stand up. Sir Noctis, listen close. I don’t trust either of you—you are strange males in a world we know naught of, but you have shown my sister kindness, and therefore I have chosen to allow you to accompany us as we seek out others of our kind. They are only children, and they must be terribly frightened. I’m sure they’ll feel much better seeing their princesses and an Oferwader with them—and a natural native of this world with no resemblance to the ones that hunt us.” Her quaking voice gained strength. Soon she had her chest puffed out and her crown carried high with the regal bearing of her royal bloodline, drawing on years of grooming for her throne. “Are either of you opposed to this? I assume you have nothing better to do, since I caught you chatting up my baby sibling. Or are you soldiers too busy to assist a couple of femmes who request your company?”

❝ís thє línє frσm mє tσ чσu!❞

⦊⦊ the undercover princess | sister to Zawyne | heartbroken | without a nest | xathira ⦉⦉


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