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.




Intelligence gleamed in the female’s eyes the way light jumps off every facet of a jewel, bright and captivating and fearless. Plenty of strangers in the past had aggravated Kershov with their dramatic shows of bravado and arrogance, thinking that to challenge him was to impress or intimidate him; yet Atakask appeared wholly more mature than those nameless curs, her strength something poised. Quiet. She did not need to impress him with flashy tricks, because she already held her own worth firmly in her teeth. The Ice King appreciated this. It meant he wouldn’t be wasting his time pointlessly fluffing her ego or skirting away from any thirsty attempts to gain his immediate favor, or access to his bed. “I’m not one for nicknames, Atakask,” the winter dragon murmured, obsidian windows glittering playfully. “I find using one’s full title is far more professional. As for mine, it is Kershov. I look forward to hearing it from your own lips.”

This conversation did not appear to be reaching a close any time soon . . . on his end, Kershov felt far too fascinated by this lovely creature with her ingenious contraption and obvious confidence, and it looked as if Atakask had deemed him worthy of her attention as well. Two dominant predators sniffing each other out, bowing before one another’s boundaries, all that pent up aggression tuned into coy fang-filled grins. When the grey-dusted damsel deigned to continue speaking, her lyrics flowed across the beach in a musical accent not shared by anyone else in Blossom. At least, Ker could not recall someone with such lilting vowels and softened consonants, the resonance of a bell vibrating behind each hum of vocal cords. It was . . . soothing. And not many things had the ability to smooth the shattered ice that made up much of the Pharaoh’s personality—his jagged edges and sharp corners that kept him safe and damaged any that prodded too close. “No winter . . . ? In some places, the season is synonymous with hardship. I hope you’ll be able to pull through, a resourceful dame such as yourself.”

Gradually, as he relaxed into the music of Atakask’s voice and the nonthreatening flavor of her self-assurance, Kershov allowed himself to fold into a regal seated position—the shimmering expanse of the indigo ocean to one side, the cliff-cut landscape to the other, and his newest acquaintance before him. In the moonlight, both of their fur was backlit with a cool ivory glow; the she-wolf appeared warmed by a snowy halo that outlined her handsome features and silky coat, as close to a living goddess as one could possibly be. Kershov, on the other hand, resembled a ghost fresh from the graveyard. Blindingly pale. Black eyes like twin graves in a ravaged façade. He couldn’t help but smirk when the femme fatale adopted a similar comfortable posture, shaking out her healthy coat as if showing off her beauty for an appreciative audience. Not that the glacial gladiator wasn’t enjoying every subtle motion Atakask gifted him with; he wasn’t blind. His ears perked infinitesimally when she spoke of “soaps,” and when she produced an odd contraption she then began to run through her pelt. The device parted the marbled hairs as if they were water bending around the roots of a tree. Ker discovered that he’d leaned closer without meaning to, his head tilted like a pup witnessing something amazing. He cleared his throat and retreated after he’d realized his error, though he kept his calculating gaze trained on the lady’s careful ministrations.

“This tool . . . it is only for the upkeep of your fur?” Silently he wondered where she’d found it. Or how she’d made it, or decided its use. And what of these “soaps”? Truly Atakask had access to technologies no one else in this land had stumbled up yet. “Would you be comfortable demonstrating the purpose of these custom items to outsiders? Forgive me, but I find them extremely interesting. I’m sure the others in my pack would think the same.”


【King of Uyaraut – tied to none – father to Kirastasia and Kavik – xathira】


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