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.


RAPTOR'S RAGE [briseis]


“Sergei . . . where is your sister?”

Kershov did not ask because he harbored any sort of paternal worry or affection for his offspring; he spoke more form triggered instinct, realizing that something important had changed—and this was cause for investigation. He had hardly ever seen Sergei and Gwyneira separated. Athene ensured her children spent their free time training against each other, preparing them for the “trials” she spoke of at their birth. Ker still did not quite understand what the she-warrior meant by this . . . but he hadn’t pushed her. Hadn’t questioned why he sometimes found Gwyn or Sergei nursing some very serious wounds. Had never pulled either pup aside to ask what their relationship was to each other, what drove them to spar so aggressively. Beautiful, fearless Athene had accomplished most of the reproductive labor. She had named them. Though Kershov had sired them, they were—in his mind—Athene’s to do with what she wished.

Sergei’s isolation surprised him. The feathered king sniffed the wind, searching for traces of Gwyneira or Athene on the breeze, yet only managed to catch faint traces. Pitiless black eyes bore down at the brindled son at his paws, who merely wiped a paw across his nose and glared back.

“I don’t know. Mama went to go find her.”

“You . . . don’t know? Did she slip away?” Now urgency laced itself in the pharaoh’s lyrics, tightening his vocal cords and making his smoky pinions lift along his spine. “How long as she been missing?”

Sergei shrugged, finally looking somewhat uncomfortable. He’d been out searching for food when his intimidating father started interrogating him; unused to so much attention from the aloof Alpha, he clammed up, already tacit nature rendering him quieter still. “A few days. Mom told me to train while I wait.” His young voice picked up the roughness of a growl. “You think something happened?”

Kershov did not bother to respond. He was already racing toward the border, paws marching along the path Athene left behind. Gwyn’s scent hung faintly in the long grass, faded under Athene’s more recent perfume, and it was clear almost immediately that the young lass had snuck off from the pack on her own. All right, that isn’t unusual . . . she’s a precocious kid. Thunder rumbled in the distance, matching the uneven rhythm of the czar’s heart. It was only the afternoon—but thick, boiling storm clouds obscured the blue sky, casting iron darkness over the land. The air simmered with the faint clean tang of rain. Winds buffeted the fields, sending up a rasping hiss of grass whipping against grass, and Kershov felt his feathers fluttering. I need to pick up a trail—any trail—before the storm wipes everything away—

Too late. Even before the rain started to fall, fat drops like robin’s eggs pattering onto his coat, Gwyneira’s tracks vanished. And the large paws of an adult male replaced them.

An unholy seismic sound throbbed in the back of Kershov’s throat. He shoved his nose into the blurred indentations, parting his mouth so that he might draw as much information as possible into his senses. Nothing. No cologne. Not even the vaguest molecule. In that second—that horrifying, infuriating second—Kershov realized two things. First, that Gwyneira had been kidnapped. And second, she had been kidnapped by a vampire.

A beastly howl shredded from the frost-born phantom’s lungs, frightening a peal of thunder from the heavens. An arc of lightning shattered through the clouds—limning everything in unnatural hues of electric blue—and in the next beat he was plunging forward, head parallel to his shoulders, muscles straining over bones to propel him faster, faster, talons ripping into the dirt and sending it flying behind him. Rain fell harder, globular droplets stretching into hard icy pebbles that obscured his anger-hazed vision with a shimmering curtain. His sea-eagle cape kept him dry; he hardly felt the chill of water as it streamed down his powerful physique, polishing him into a gleaming ivory ghost. Everything Kershov knew about vampires—and this knowledge was admittedly paltry—stemmed from what he’d observed in Macaria. Upon her transformation, the woman had completely lost her signature . . . as if her very existence had been erased. He had never seen her outside when the sun was up. And whatever her appetite for death had been before she grew fangs, it was much worse now. Ker did not expect to find Gwyneira alive, if he found her at all. Macaria was pack, family, and he trusted her to never harm those in Uyaraut—but who was this stranger? This criminal? This wretched cur? What purpose did he have to for taking such young prey? Whatever happened, the vampire had already signed his own death warrant. He had dared take Kershov’s precious property. And now the warlord was on the warpath.

Another monstrous cry blasted from the alabaster gangster’s jaws. Only minutes into pursuit, and his trail already ended—cut short by the river. Damn him. DAMN HIM TO HELL. Did this vampire think of this as a game? Had caution driven him to cover his tracks to expertly, or . . . a surge of ire swept through Kershov with such force he did not flinch when thunder exploded directly above him, shaking the world with earsplitting volume. He stared numbly out at nothing, alone and spattered with black mud, the swollen river splashing mere yards ahead of him. Either the leech who took Gwyn always made sure to disappear after hunting, or he expected someone to try and follow him. If he expected to be followed, then he must know this action would provoke Uyaraut. And if not Uyaraut as a whole, then someone more specific . . . Athene, perhaps, or Kershov himself . . .

“You’ve made a mistake,” the moon-white demon murmured to himself, tail slicing through the rain and sending beads glittering over the arc of its path. “You fucked with the wrong wolf, vampire. I’m going to find you . . . and I’m going to end you.


♛〖 King of Uyaraut ✦ bonded to Athene ✦ father of many ✦ xathira 〗♛

picture credit to Pompeii | table code credit to xathira | Background vector created by GarryKillian -


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