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.



Idal continued to race along the undulating crossover of wave and shore, wet now up to his creamy abdomen with icy salt water. He didn’t bother to shake it off, content with the way his mottled pelt slicked itself flat against his admirable physique, tapering down his toned shoulders and chest to reveal the chiseled musculature beneath. Upon first glance at the saccharine prince—all childlike smiles and gently fluffed coat—one might never realize the strength he hid just under the surface; Idal trained just as hard as Ingmar, and could step up as a warlord any time the situation demanded it. He didn’t mind fooling strangers, of course. Let them underestimate the blonde angel with his patches of rose. Let them think he was a harmless imbecile, galivanting down the beach like an ecstatic puppy. Idal would gut someone in cold blood if they really asked for it—and afterward, he’d continue on his merry way, washing their blood off his pelt in the glimmering ocean.

Not that the strawberry merle foresaw any issues meeting them on this shoreline. Though he and his brother still smelled a multitude of visitors to this area, they had yet to actually see anyone. It made Idal wonder . . . just how big was this mysterious new land? They both had assumed Blossom Forest was a mere “pocket dimension,” a place that held perhaps a single pack’s territory—but nothing more. They never pondered the fact that Blossom could be as vast and complex as their homeland. No—this reality would be their sandbox, their play-field, somewhere they could visit to blow off steam and then slink back through the portal to their kingdom. To entertain the thought that Blossom Forest might actually rival their country in terms of size, politics, population . . . nonsense. Their world was the superior one. Their subjects were most important. The citizens here were no more real, no more feeling to the dangerous brothers than toys—and that is precisely how they’d treat any varg they met.

“I think we may be nearing a pack, brother!” Idal yipped aloud, scrambling to catch up with Ingmar as the thundercloud brute charged ahead. Mar slowed just enough to allow his sibling to run alongside him, their paces matching.

“Indeed. Probably a primitive, pathetic faction.” Ruthless blue eyes gleamed in a black-masked face. A savage grin cut through Ingmar’s broad muzzle. “We might have some fun there, roll with whatever women are present—”

The darker brother’s thoughts hit an abrupt dead end, cut short but a sudden shriek of pain from Idal. The golden prince had collapsed in the shallow water, writhing, whining, his back twisting as if to tie his entire body into a knot. Ingmar was at his sibling’s side in an instant, clinical seriousness burning away his previous mirth. He stood over Idal, shadowy banner raised as he tried to find the source of Idal’s torment. “What did you do, idiot? Twist your paw? Cut yourself on a shell? What? This was bad . . . the princes had grown up dreaming of ways to oust one another, but trouble awaited Ingmar back home if he failed to return with Idal. Unfortunately, the flower child of the court only keened louder, now biting frantically at the space between his shoulder blades. To his horror, Ingmar saw a thin thread of blood fading into the sea, connected to the oddly rippling plane of Idal’s spine . . .

And then it was Ingmar’s turn to scream.

He bit back the cry until it transformed into a furious seismic rumble shaking his chest. A splitting migraine erupted in his skull, punching his vision pure white and sending him to the ground. Idal continued to twitch near him, splashing more water into his tightly grimacing face, but Mar could not summon the breath to tell him to stop—

Nothing. No pain. No hideous headache. The smoky merle heir stood up cautiously, attempting to steady himself as the current swirled around his ankles. His skull no longer hurt . . . but it somehow felt heavier than before. He shook his head to clear it, and felt a resistance of air—an imbalance—that hadn’t been there before. “Ugh . . . my damn head . . .” Idal had ceased his frantic motion and was now slowing standing up himself. As soon as his limpid blue eyes locked on Mar, his jaw dropped.

“Brother. Your head.” Idal shoved forward into Ingmar’s space, heedless of the way he almost pushed the steely soldier flat into the water. “You have ANTLERS, Ingmar. By the gods—you look like a damn moose!”

Whatever retort had prepared itself upon Mar’s scathing tongue died. Because as soon as he went to tear Idal down for being an idiot, he noticed an unnatural shimmer that lit up his sibling’s already bright canvas. In impossible cape of iridescent feathers—shocking blue-violet and vivid yellow-green—had replaced the cape of russet merle that usually draped Idal. The brothers stared at each other. Ingmar reached up with a forepaw to test the base of the rack that now grew out of his cranium. Idal sniffed cautiously at the fluttering rainbow sticking out of his fur. And then they both opened their maws and bellowed in terror.

  • Cold Heart -

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