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 . . .❞

“Watch it, you great bull moose! The childish shriek of disgust burst reflexively from Losa’s maw the way water sprayed from Hurricane’s jaws, and in this abrupt moment of shock the princess’s paralyzed body could not decide if it should scream, laugh, or burst into tears. She settled for rapidly blinking crystalline droplets from her eyelashes, standing rigid as Hurricane choked and gasped his way back to life. He made the process of breathing look positively agonizing. Each shuddering inhalation seemed to stretch his shredded hide, tendons crackling audibly under his skin, aching joints popping, and a thin sympathetic whine keened from between Losa’s parted lips. Had her frantic attempts to wake the gargantuan gladiator done more harm than good? Had she, in her panicked selfishness, damaged Hurricane further? Torneach? Can you hear me?” That great onyx-sculpted head lifted from the ground, heavy as a mountain. Losa longed to have the strength to support him.

When Hurricane started struggling to stand upright, Losa chirped in alarm. Weakness be damned—the faerie leapt forward to push herself against his chest the moment he collapsed into a shaky bow, her slender silhouette a useless crutch, grunting with the effort of leaning against the warrior’s magnificent musculature. Her hammering heart clenched as the sticky warmth of blood seeped into her early-dawn fur . . . some of her knight’s wounds had unstitched themselves, and the iron tang of crimson pasted itself thick to his canvas and the back of her tongue. “Yes, it’s me, Torneah Mhutair. You found your Wandering Star. And I’ve found my Thunder-Killer. What on earth happened to you? How long have you been travelling in this state?” The stubborn beast might choose to ignore her. He’d done so constantly as she grew up, if only to infuriate her on purpose. Damn that masculine pride . . . if Hurricane told her not to worry, she’d reopen one of those lacerations herself!

At last, slowly, her beloved protector regained his posture. Losa grudgingly paced back to give him space to breathe, mismatched portals obsessively appraising every last piece of him. In some places, tufts of obsidian stuck out like ragged feathers, gelled in place by dried blood. Scarlet stained his talons. Cuts and scrapes decorated his limbs, his muzzle, spiderwebs of violence traced into his robes. When she met his lightning-colored gaze, her soul flinched at how tired he appeared. A ferocious defensiveness roared within the Princess, triggered by an unbearable desire to hold that flickering life-light close until it burned powerful and ferocious. My Hurricane. My soldier. My guard. A long, shuddering breath eased its way from Losa’s tense lungs. She clenched her jaw. Duma is lucky my beloved did not perish.

Losa had not realized how sick her rage and terror and worry had made her until she pressed her face into Hurricane’s fur and all that fever drained away. Duma had infected her, infiltrated and violated her in more ways than one, and her soul quivered as some of that revolting influence seeped from her not unlike poison from an open laceration. Her lithe form immediately sagged against the guard’s solid bulk, cobalt limbs trembling with relief. “You idiot . . . I thought you were dead.” A possibility that had haunted her heart, but that her cracked mind refused to face—because the dark endless game of what if whispered of enough hideous scenarios to shatter her heart all over again. Guilt still bled from a wound within Losa’s chest, aching, draining her, and she nuzzled harder into her paramour’s midnight cape to staunch its burning stream. He smelled like sweat and crisp green pine needles and rain. He smelled of something that could only be described as Torneach Mhutair—a note uniquely his that defied comparison. Stories wove themselves into the richness of his pelt, memories braided into every ink-stained hair, and as the rainbow princess breathed him in she submerged herself into the fantasy of a gentler time before her choice had destroyed the kingdom. “I’m sorry I had to leave you,” she whispered. Tears thickened her voice. She shrunk in on herself, a delicate sugar sculpture dissolving into nothing. Suddenly the Wandering Star’s bravery deserted her, and she could not bring herself to meet the furious lightning of Hurricane’s familiar eyes. “I don’t expect forgiveness. But . . . I beg you to give me another chance. To let me show you how much I—”

Her lyrics tangled and snapped into a quiet sob. The cherry blossom lass sniffled pitifully and attempted to crawl into the space under Hurricane’s chest between his forelegs, where he’d cradled her as a child. Finally she peered up into his face, heavenly eyes overflowing. “I missed you so much! I had to save the children with Zawyne—but it felt like ripping my heart out of my chest! What kind of a self-obsessed princess am I?!” Her weeping rushed from her in a growing torrent, weeks of fear and hopelessness smashing down upon her shoulders like a merciless waterfall. “Y-you need to drink. You’re probably on the edge of death itself.” Sniffling, trembling, she nudged him toward the river, not ceasing her prodding until both of her paws were wet in the current. “Water first. Then we can discuss what happened to you.”

❝ís thє línє frσm mє tσ чσu!❞

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


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