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 NSFW/Explicit  Male x Male  Fantasy  One x One Roleplay  World Building The Jaws of Winter (Ashryn & Kilenath)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Kilenath, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Local Time:
    4:51 AM
    Vanya was fond of sentry duty. He found peace in the lone vigil, his mind never more alert and the world brought into sharper focus. It was a clarity hard to find when the brothers of his patrol were conscious, the comfortable familiarity of their empathically conveyed feelings ever-present. For now, they settled behind him in a rocky nook lit with the ruddy faience from their campfire, the vibrancy incongruous with the rest of the world, red-gold tongues of light and restless shadows. The warriors were bedding down for the night, bellies temporarily mollified with a mean meal of dried stock fish and weak mead. They would sleep like the dead, heartbeats slow and faces toward the heat, each to take his turn as the stars wheeled overhead.

    He had his back to them, watching the territory they patrolled with eyes pale and luminous as fine opal.

    Before him, The Mother’s skin was a whitewashed vista, hard, clean and cold. It was a purity he could appreciate, no matter how bleak and unforgiving, the sheer magnitudes of her snow-scapes, the vastness of pristine tracts of land with every landmark smothered to anonymity breath-taking. It was a treacherous place to travel, the threat of what lay beneath a constant that could not be ignored, and as many hurts taken from the terrain itself as the predators which stalked it, day and night. At this point in the Turn, with Sol’s arrival still cycles away, it was difficult to tell the difference between the two.

    It was also the time of year where the skies were at their most spectacular, a dangerous distraction of undulating lights rippling the horizon. They wove in ribbons of azure and violet, in purest white beneath the lofty arch of The Road Home, an arching band that swept high and disappeared over the horizon’s edge, to take the dead home to rest.

    Or so the Godsmen said. Vanya had never been as religious as some, though his doubts never tripped past his tongue. Fool be he to voice such things and add to his list of failings.

    Beside Vanya sat a monster. The direwolf he’d bonded to was a dark beast better suited to the black sand of the coast, or the anthracite rocks in the foothills of the Arms of the Mother. There was no hiding him in the snows. He slipped across them on thick-furred paws like an oil stain, his single eye pale jade and lit with a shrewd intelligence. He was not hulking, as some of his species could be when full grown, but a monster nonetheless, and Vanya did not try to deny the fact. The wild-born wolf had been a tyrant amongst his pack for two dozen years before they’d bonded, and it was a brave Alfar who was not wary of him. Karth, old already for a warrior’s beast brother, undoubtedly enjoyed that fact.

    The pair sat close, sharing body heat and surveying the conquering ice with what Vanya suspected was mutual appreciation. The rest of the wolf pack had splintered, one or two curled against their bonded Alfar, the others scouting, noses down, snow crunching glass-like under their considerable weight. Better hunters than their two-legged brothers, they’d a greater chance of finding meals without their quarry being tipped off. With a little luck, they’d return with muzzles red and the gnawing ache of hunger banished, taste of blood thick in their throats.

    Luck did not favour them that evening.

    Karth rose with startling alacrity, ears pricked tall, sinuous and deadly. Even with one eye, he’d sensed something approaching before Vanya, nose carrying the drifting scent of…

    The wolf visualised it for his less gifted brother. A hazy, ill-coloured image of Alfar and wolves – the latter more distinct. Wolves he knew, then. The image sat in Vanya’s mind, projected as if it sat just behind his eyes, and the hastening thrum of his heart calmed. Another patrol, though not originating from their own warband.

    The territory they were patrolling was sat close to that bordering their own, and it would not be the first time the warriors of two bands had met. In other regions, it might be cause for conflict. Here, close to Sølvkjever, that would not be the case. A good working relationship with the neighbours made life far easier.

    “Asger, Leif,” he called softly to some of the Alfar behind him. “Company comes. Wake the others.”

    The pair lifted drowsy heads with ill concealed reluctance, introduced elbows and boots lightly to the others until all were sat up, bundled cocoons of fur and hide sending the silent calls to bring their hunting wolves home. Now would not be the time for the encroaching patrol to run into lone animals.
     
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  2. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Veliko liked this time of day at this time of year because the world was vibrant with color. The endless gray and white of rock and ice was temporarily dyed a soft rose fading to violet and finally settling into a dark indigo, mirroring the sky with its fluttering curtains of green and bright pink. Despite it having been an evening much like this that his young life had been turned upside down, Vel found the atmosphere relaxing. His beloved wolf did too. Nivan sidled close for a moment, bumping his head against Vel’s hand in a brief show of affection, before padding off again with the rest of his pack to scout ahead.

    They were nearing the border of their lands but the patrol chief had insisted on pushing their trek to the very edge. Their dyrmann had communed with ravens patiently waiting for the hunters to take what they would from their kill. The birds had shown the dyrmann images of stone dwellers coming to the surface to hunt, attacking Alfar hunting parties who had already done the work for them. This news had their squad on high alert, Vel most of all. If the dwellers came up to hunt for themselves, that would be one thing, but to attack Alfar to steal their kill, was unforgivable. No Alfar was without the means to defend themselves to one degree or another, but hunters were not warriors. The stone dwellers showed their complete lack of honor by targeting civilian groups, and no warrior could forgive that, least of all, Vel. The very thought made his hands stray to his swords, gripping the hilts tightly, as if promising his mind that his body would respond appropriately if given the chance.

    They scanned the terrain for signs of ambush. Even with their exceptional night vision, the Alfar could not hope to match that of those living underground. Vel could feel the agitation of several of his brothers, a few directing it toward him for his burst of anger and sorrow a moment ago. He opened his fingers, releasing his stranglehold on his weapons, and forced his emotions back into the dungeon he usually kept them in. A twitchy patrol was not what was needed right now.

    The wolves returned, their tails fluffed and erect, images of wolf friends Zivan hadn’t seen in awhile flitting across Vel’s mind’s eye, a large, black wolf dominating the projection, a wolf neither of them recognized, cutting an impressive and imposing figure beside his bond brother, an attractive man Vel knew he’d remember if he’d met him before.

    It wasn’t uncommon to meet other patrols this close to the border. Thankfully, this was one border with whom they were friendly. Veering toward the small patrol camp, they would at least give greeting for passing so close, and if invited, would gladly spend the night amidst friends, sharing watches and resources. From the look of things, the patrol had already begun to bed down for the night, but it was unlikely they’d turn down the offer of fresh meat that Vel’s group had and were willing to share, a gift from the hunting party they’d defended yesterday.

    Greeting fellow warriors with a warm clasp of the forearm as the wolves sniffed and snuffed one another, Vel noticed a slight tension in the mood of the camp that he’d never experienced before, and it wasn’t directed at them but seemed to revolve around the attractive male and his unique wolf, who had Nivan, conflicted on a good day about how dominant he wanted to be, in a confused state halfway between aggressive and submissive. Vel threaded his fingers through the fur on the back of Nivan’s neck, calming him with a touch. We have enough enemies without making new ones. He communicated the sentiment not just to Nivan but also to his warband, who like Nivan, were at a loss as to how to handle the odd mixture of welcome laced with tension. Not our business.

    Once he was relatively sure Nivan would behave, Vel greeted the warrior with the black wolf, giving him a warm smile and a firm, friendly grip to his arm. Nivan crouched slightly, his tail low but his ears perked until Vel flicked one with his finger. Knock it off. He communicated the concept of being guests in the wolf’s home and as such, Nivan should behave appropriately. That seemed to get through to him and he grudgingly lowered his ears and averted his gaze. “He doesn’t mean to be rude. He just can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up,” Vel said with a soft laugh, stroking the top of Nivan’s head with his fingertips. Nivan wasn’t a puppy but he was young considering the lifespan the wolves were capable of. “He hasn’t met many outside of his own pack so this is a somewhat new experience for him.”
     
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  3. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Unusual circumstances, these, but celebrated to a point. The snow-conquered lands between settlements were not oft crossed without good reason, and communities were isolated, sometimes half-buried until the brief, spring months made passage possible. In some places, that isolation gave birth to an insular attitude, and in others, the precise opposite. Vanya watched as his friend, Leif, played prime example of this, his guileless warmth instantly helping to offset the undercurrents his own present made immutable. The large, red-haired Alfar was soon drawing the new arrivals in around their fire, welcoming them by name as if they were long-lost kin, delivering resounding claps to shoulders and back that Vanya knew the sting and jar of all too well. Their little cleft in the rock had become crowded, the wolves milling amongst them, licking at one another’s mouths, noses to backsides, the rank scent of their heavy coats something Vanya could almost taste when the crisp air had rendered everything else so sterile.

    Karth remained beside him, no keener to join in the impulsive camaraderie than he, but accepting the slinking, submissive approach of this wolf and that, come to pay their respects to a beast sometimes twice their age. Occasionally, his lip curled, a show of fang or wrinkled nose hurrying along those who weren’t cowed enough initially, but his growls were sub-audible, and Vanya only knew they were there because he could feel the vibration of them against his shoulder where they leaned against one another. There was no point in trying to rationalise the need for harmony with Karth. He had no doubts whatsoever that the beast’s intelligence surpassed the norm, that his own agenda was prime. He simply had no inkling what that agenda might be.

    The proximity of a new wolf, heretofore unknown, would normally have resulted in some posturing, particularly when the individual was displaying such mixed signals. Instead, Karth seemed to lean forward subtly, head low and shoulder blades jutting as he considered the smaller direwolf with that single, luminous eye… then slid down off the rock to sniff him where he crouched, a deliberate invasion of his space without the slightest concern that he might be snapped at.

    Vanya, perplexed, had been so fixated on the unpredictable behaviour that the Alfar bonded to him had barely earned his regard until he spoke. He hesitated only briefly before rising from the rock where he’d been playing sentry, and reaching to return the clasp of arms, grip strong through layers of fur and leather. A new face, no youngling on his first patrol with a wolf little more than a pup, and he sensed, unaware of his reputation. That in itself was a breath of fresh air, and there was a prickling of something… hopeful in what Veliko might sense from him. It wasn’t much to ask, to be greeted without prior knowledge tarring him.

    “He’s time yet to find what’s comfortable,” he assured the stranger, voice a warm baritone, softly spoken as Alfar often were, accustomed to mimicking the quiet of their brothers. “Just don’t let him follow any bad examples.” Humour, just a lick of it, as he regarded his own wolf, nose deep in Nivan’s scruff, snorting as he sniffed him, probably thanks to fur in his nostrils. “I’m Ivan,” he offered simply, and might have said more if Leif hadn’t called across.

    “Vanya!” A correction, “no need to be formal.”

    “Vanya,” he echoed, “if you prefer.” He would not expect everyone to be immediately comfortable with the diminutive form of sharing names. Still, he smiled as he said it. The sort of smile that had all the impact of a sucker punch but came perfectly naturally. Reached the eyes too, ever-winter pale, a grey without any blue adulteration. “That’s Karth,” he nodded towards the shadow-spun wolf, who had apparently satisfied himself in regards to the warrior’s indecisive brother, and was now investigating Veliko himself. “Our resident bad example. You are?”

    He didn’t invite him to sit, but only because he suspected he’d soon be joining the others, tucked up about the fire and pulling the mead from their packs, drinking horns thrust expectantly towards flasks and curious, lupine noses diverted away from the meat the new arrivals had brought with them.
     
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  4. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    11:51 PM
    Veliko flicked his gaze to the striking Alfar that had volunteered Vanya's nickname, then back to the man in question, who seemed to grudgingly concede the name. He studied the warrior who didn't appear to be that much older than him, yet had a wolf that was clearly too old to have been a pup when Vanya was of bonding age, which meant that he'd somehow managed to heal a broken bond which almost unheard of. That impressed Veliko and made him curious as to the story behind that. It must be a good one. Looking at the two of them together, Veliko couldn't imagine a pair more suited to one another. They shared the same caution, the same intense gaze. Vanya almost seemed like a wolf himself.

    "Aww, I bet he's not that bad of an example," he said with an affectionate smile at the dark wolf. He sensed confusion rolling within Vanya as he stared at the wolves. Was there something unique about this encounter? "He's behaving admirably considering Nivan's rudeness. Karth could probably teach Nivan a lot, by the looks of him. He seems to have led a full life already." Veliko remained still as Karth investigated him thoroughly. He avoided meeting the wolf's eyes, showing respect for the experience Karth obviously had, given his scars.

    "Oh, my apologies," he said, straightening when Vanya asked for his name. "Veliko." He returned Vanya's smile. "Vel, if you prefer."

    Luka, the huskari leading Vel's patrol, called him over. "I need to tend to the horses. We have fresh meat to share if you'd like some." Vel crossed the small camp, Nivan following at his heel. Vel stopped to greet the redhead Alfar, Lief, who had corrected Vanya's introduction. Thanking him for sharing their fire, Vel left Nivan to get acquainted with all the other wolves, and went to help Luka bed the horses down for the night. As the youngest in the patrol, Vel was often given the chores. He didn't resent that. The huskari and older warriors had done the same when they were in Vel's position

    When he was finished, the scent of roasting meat was heavy in the air, making his stomach protest the lack of food since breakfast. The warriors of his patrol were mingled with the others around the fire, already boisterous and well on their way to a good buzz. If Vel joined them, he'd be the brunt of many jokes, which he didn't mind, but he was more interested in talking more with Vanya than engaging in meaningless drunken chatter with the rest.

    Nivan came back to his side as he neared the fire. Noticing that Vanya and Karth had remained at their post, Vel got two skewers of meat and a horn of ale, thanking Lief again for the use of their fire, and went over to Vanya, holding out the skewers of meat. "One's for you," he said. "We'll have to share the ale. I couldn't carry more."
     
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  5. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    4:51 AM
    “So I hear tell,” Vanya admitted, of his wolf’s past. An odd thing, to know he’d history bound to another Alfar, one who must have influenced his formative years and might perhaps have been the root cause for so many facets of his impenetrable behaviour. Karth glanced his way, the single bright eye laughing at his discomfiture, the mirth rough-warm against his mind. Here was an animal content in his own enigma.

    When Vel excused himself to assist with the shaggy pack animals they’re brought with them, Karth returned to his side, bleeding lupine contentment as they settled once more upon the rocky perch. There would be no conflict within the mingled pack that night, none the old wolf saw as a threat, and with Leif’s pale beast, Ethnir, to play buffer when any wrestling became too vigorous, Vanya knew that he could safely fix his watch upon the wilds again, instead of his warband and their guests. It did not occur to him that he might find himself with company again so soon, so he was quite unprepared when Veliko, as he had introduced himself, approached with some of the shared meal, a mouth-watering luxury of spitted meat. How long had it been since he’d had something that wasn’t dried or salted so heavily he could barely taste the flesh? Fat dribbled down the end of the skewer as he accepted it from the Alfar’s no doubt equally greasy fingers.

    Karth sniffed at the skewered chunks of flesh, but ultimately turned his nose away, filling Vanya’s head (and somehow waking a memory of taste upon his tongue) of the wet heat of new-spilt blood. More flavour. The pulse of it from raw wounds as a struggling heart continued to pump. Sometimes, the wolf’s communications really were poorly timed. Still, it was not enough to deter him from eating.

    “Only a mouthful for me,” he promised of the ale, “I’ve first watch. It would be a poor showing if I were to end up in a stupor because some strapping young Alfar encouraged me to overindulge.” He was polite enough to wait until he’d swallowed his mouthful of meat before offering a grateful smile. “Here,” he said, “there’s a little padding, unless you’re prefer soggy haunches before you turn in.”

    He’d thrown a fur down on the rock, skin side down to keep the wet from creeping through. To call it padding was overgenerous by civilian standards, but for an Alfar of the warrior caste, it was prime comfort. Luckily for Vel, it was on the opposite end to which Karth sat, but it had an added boon for Vanya, who would end up flanked, and far warmer than he had been, if the unfamiliar Alfar chose to accept his invitation.

    The banter of the others, though rowdy by a warband’s standards, was far from being raucous. These were a race accustomed to respecting the natural quiet of a moonbright night, lest they draw burrowing jormunguar, or worse to their temporary refuge. Leif was playing skald for the evening, likely embellishing some tale to the delight of his listeners, who wouldn’t mind the lack of poetry so long as he proved ribald enough to inspire them. Vanya, who knew all his tales, did not strain his ears in an endeavour to hear them with some new twist.

    Instead, he studied his companion as he chewed, his curiosity palpable. Perhaps a little tension too, as if he were expecting him to turn tail and return to the others. It was a strange longing, this want for company, because he felt an equal hope that he *would* depart the vantage point, and spare him the sting of rejection when the oily unease everyone seemed to harbour in his presence finally eroded his poor sense. It simply felt judicious to expect the worst these days, for Vanya had not the wherewithal to make anyone feel otherwise.

    “Have you and your brothers found much trouble in recent days?” he asked, tip-toeing around the real question buzzard-circling his thoughts. Why have you sought me out? Karth, on his opposite side, huffed a sound that, had he been Alfar, would probably have come with a roll of eyes. He did not appreciate the lack of directness. Vanya sent him the mental equivalent of an elbow in the ribs, to discourage further mockery. "We've had nothing to slow us but a wyvern, and even that not full grown." Foolish to wish for more, but an uneventful patrol would not endear the residents of Sølvkjever to them, when they were already bitter about extra mouths. The warriors needs must earn their keep.
     
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  6. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Vel chuckled at the look on Vanya's face coupled with the emotion rolling off of him, as if it was the most startling thing for someone to seek out his company. Perhaps it was, and that was sad. He seemed interesting and pleasant enough. And he was definitely responding to a gift of food. His smile transformed his face. He was attractive when pensive and careful, but he was downright stunning when he smiled.

    "Strapping. If I thought I could talk you into it, I might try, but I don't fight battles I can't win, if I can help it." Vanya spread his cloak out for him on the rocks. "Thank you. My haunch appreciates it." He settled beside him, tucking the horn into the crease of the rocks. "I'll keep you company until you shoo me away. I would have had first watch anyway."

    Nivan inched his nose toward the dripping skewer in Vel's hand. "At," Vel noised at the wolf, meeting his eyes for a second. "Because you'll try and steal it." The wolf flopped at his feet with a huff, looking up at him, furry silver brow wrinkling in consternation.

    Nivan wasn't the only one who seemed torn. Vel was getting all sorts of mixed signals coming off Vanya but chose not to act on any of them. The man seemed capable of speaking for himself so if he wanted to be alone, Vel figured he'd say so. It wasn't often Vel got to meet warriors outside his own warband and Vel was a social creature. He liked getting to know new people, especially mysterious, attractive men who found him 'strapping.'

    Biting off some of the meat, Vel groaned happily. "Mmng. I'm so tired of patrol rations." He drank some of the ale and nodded at Vanya's question. "The last two weeks there's been an increase. I'm surprised you haven't experienced it too. We've had two ambushes on our patrol directly and a small group attacked a hunting party yesterday, which was how we got this meat. It was their way of showing thanks."

    The meat soured a little in Vel's mouth. One of the hunters had died and Vel always took the loss of a hunter personally. Hunters left the safety of their village to come into the wilds armed with weapons suitable for taking down beasts from afar, not for close combat, to bring meat back for everyone. They shouldn't have to die doing it, or if they did, it should be because the animal bested them.

    He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "It's a mixed blessing when they leave you alone for awhile, isn't it? The longer it goes on, the more jumpy you get, thinking it has to happen soon."
     
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  7. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    4:51 AM
    “A guilty pleasure,” Vanya confessed solemnly. “You’re spared the personal grief, but you know it only means they’re harrying the Alfar of another warband. It seems you and your brothers have taken the brunt and spared us.” He’d been too attentively following the nuances of Vel’s empathic energy to have missed the tragic slant it took. He turned his regard to the warriors wedged in companionably amongst his own, saw no injury to account to it, and came to the inevitable conclusion; one of them had fallen, and the beast brother bound to him had either been slain in his defence, or bolted mad-minded, twisted by the agony of a violent severing.

    The frequency with which they lost warriors had been staggering when as Therra, a raw recruit, he’d seen patrols return to the warcamp fewer in number, or dragging their injured on litters. The dead-eyed survivors had been more terrifying than the absences, and for a while, it hadn’t seemed such a cruel thing for him to be struggling to find a wolf to bond to. No warrior would choose that miserable existence over a clean death, had they the choice, and no one spoke ill of those warriors who, too close to the brink, quietly found an end of their own making rather than face the possibility of a life spent un-whole.

    “They must be opening new tunnels,” he determined, eyeing Vel through the steam rising off his skewer. “I’ll have Asger get out the maps when he takes second vigil. Perhaps we can pinpoint likely spots if we plot the path you took.”

    It would benefit them all to have a clearer picture of their enemy’s movements. All the more reason to encourage good relations between the warbands of neighbouring settlements. Their borders had, thankfully, been long established, and Sølvkjever’s town council was currently overseen by a level headed Hersir who hadn’t the taste for expansion or in-fighting.

    Vanya narrowed eyes cool as taiga lakes as he panned his gaze over the snow conquered tableau, searching, as he knew Karth did, for some sign that the Stone Dwellers might have created a new opening close to their bivouac. There were no collapses though, nothing out of the ordinary for this particular region, and by now he knew it well enough to be sure. Still frowning, finely etched lines marring his ivory brow, he stole the horn for a swallow, the weak alcohol no real risk to his faculties no matter how he might have teased about Veliko intending to get him inebriated.

    “Something must have changed,” he murmured, “for them to be trying new tactics. A change in chieftains perhaps, or some resource they want to exploit that they mean to scare Alfar away from. I’d like to get down one of those tunnels of theirs one day, and let them know how it feels to be unsafe in their own territory.”

    No sane Alfar would willingly visit one of those twisting warrens, not when it was such a simple thing for the occupants to drop the tunnels on the invader’s head, but Vanya’s confession came with an odd, dark savagery that felt very... wolf. Perhaps the influence of his beast, or just as likely the cause for the tension palpable in this patrol. There was a brevity to it though, which suggested it was not beyond his control. So quicksilver a thing had it been that it might have been something imagined. Vanya tucked the horn of ale back into the crevice and tore another chunk of meat from his skewer, chewing it to one side of his mouth as he spoke.

    “How is it we’ve never crossed paths on this patrol before?” he asked Veliko, all cautious curiosity again. “I’m sure Eorlund would have told us all about you by now if he’d met you.” The name Eorlund had a certain infamy to it that stretched far beyond the warband. He rarely seemed to go a night without sharing his furs with someone, and the speed at which he worked to entice another patrol’s warrior during their brief meetings boggled the mind. In a way, he’d just paid Vel a compliment however. Eorlund only targeted the physically appealing ones.
     
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  8. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    "Mm, yes, good idea," Vel said, nodding and wiping meat drippings from his chin. "Malik marked the locations we encountered them on our maps. I'll get them from him as well." He tore off another bite of meat from the skewer, swallowing it before continuing. "We came this far south because we noticed the activity increasing as we did. There was nothing in the terrain that explained the increase. If there's a new resource, it's not obvious on the surface."

    Vel growled deep in his throat and leaned hard against Vanya's shoulder briefly before sitting straight again. "Yes!" Nivan lifted his head and stared at Vel, clearly wondering whether action was going to follow his brother's excitement. "I'm not sure I could stop at one tunnel. I want to ...." He shook his head, his jaw clenched tight. "I wish there was a way to bring the war to them. I'm tired of waiting for them to attack and then all we do is defend, because that's all we can do."

    He huffed in frustration, glancing at the campfire to make sure Luka was there and not within hearing distance. The huskari patrol leader would admonish him for agreeing with such a foolish sentiment. Not only could the Stone Dwellers bury any invaders alive, there was no way to know how many of them were down there.

    Nivan nosed his leg and Vel reached down absently to stroke his fingers over the top of Nivan's head, scratching lightly behind an ear. The tactile distraction soothed Vel's frustration from a roaring flame back down to banked coals, the lowest it ever got. The hurt and anger of many years ago was always ready to flare up with the smallest spark.

    Vel laughed softly at the mention of Eorlund, glad for the redirection of his thoughts. "I've heard about him though whether it was a warning or a promise was unclear." He looked pointedly at Vanya, unable to definitively tell what he looked like under his layers of fabric and furs but having enough imagination to guess. "I'd imagine he'd have a few things to say about you too."

    He picked up the horn and drank deeply. "I usually stay in the northeast corridor. My family is there and I ... I like to see to their protection personally. But this route has seen such an increase in activity and has lost so many warriors that some of us were pulled from other routes to cover this one." In an effort to keep his thoughts from spiraling again, he gave Vanya a playful grin. "Maybe I'll stick to this route so I can run into you again."
     
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  9. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Veliko's unguarded reaction to his comment about the tunnels caught more than Nivan's attention. Vanya had never come across someone who shared his sentiments before, and the ashy wing of one eyebrow notched up expectantly, his expression attentive. How many times had he heard the more experienced warriors lecture that they should never, even with the thrill of battle singing in their blood, give chase into the twisting labyrinth of the Stone Dweller's homes? But perhaps it was not so ludicrous an idea after all, if Veliko agreed. Just not so easily raised at moot. Vel's guilty glance toward his patrol leader was proof enough of that, and Vanya decided to let sleeping wolves lie. For the present. Perhaps he would find time alone with this warrior before their patrols parted ways, and find some way to splash those banked flames with oil.

    "I'd call it flattery," he responded, the blithe tone feigned, "but the obvious reason for coming back this way is just to bury your blades into some hunched rock rats. I won't protest if you bring more meat though," he added, licking the remnants of the grease from the skewer with a curl of his tongue, unintentionally lewd. "As for Eorlund, he and I were recruited the same year, but it was never that way between he and I."

    He offered no explanation as to why. To confess that he made the man ill at ease would only have invited questions he would rather not answer, not yet, when he was relishing the anonymity. Far easier to allow people to make assumptions, and more often than not, Karth appeared the foremost deterrant. The pitch-dark animal might not have made any outward response to Vel's enthusiasm for a raid, but Vanya had sensed it. What kind of animal knew to hide its own intrigue? It was outright deception. He could not hide it from Vanya though, not with their bond as strong as it was. The wolf swivelled an ear towards him, as if half-paying attention to the conversation... but why would he? How much of a conversation could he follow?

    Behind them, the voices were dying down, and the sparse conversation was peppered with weary yawns. Vanya chanced a glance over his shoulder and saw the Alfar of both bands beginning to disappear under the weight of their furs, often paired to share heat, for there was naught better than another warm body for staving off the chill. The direwolves, tireless beasts, still nosed around the edges of the camp, but their playful antics had calmed, and they padded quietly as housecats. It would be some time before they deigned to rest with their brothers, so for now the night was full of the flash and flicker of their nycterent eyes.

    "Is there more than family, in the northeast corridor?" Vanya pried. He'd taken the hesitation for being on the cusp of confessing so. Now and then, a warrior might be lucky enough to find affection from someone in a settlement, be they male or female, but it was far more common for them to seek that comfort within their own warband. "I see no token of troth," he added, with a nod towards Veliko's hair.

    Vanya's own was weighted down at the ends with the small, carved ivory pieces, some darker, of rams' horn. Here the token for his bonding to Karth. There for his induction into the warband. A faintly nacreous piece of resilient scale, warped to look like a wyvern, for his first kill of one of the beasts. He lacked the symbol of troth himself - a rune-carved double helix in dark and light materials - to indicate an established pairing. Warriors did not wed, not like the civilians, but it was as close as they came to gift one another with such things. Normally, he would never have looked, it would never have even occurred to him to do so, but he did not think he deceived himself in recognising flirtation when it was levelled at him.
     
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  10. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Vel turned to Vanya with a wry grin but whatever he'd been about to say was absolutely destroyed by the sight of Vanya tonguing his skewer. He blinked slowly, watching shamelessly, all the blood in his body heading south. "Uh ...." He tried to remember what Vanya had just said. Something about tunnels and burying meat. No, blades. Burying blades. And bringing meat. He shook his head, giving a huff of soft laughter. "Something like that." He turned to look over the frozen expanse, trying to clear his head.

    He heard Vanya say that he and Eorlund were never together, which was somewhat of a relief but at the same time, raised the question as to why. Given what he'd heard of Eorlund, there were few he hadn't been with. But if he and Vanya were recruited the same year then it was very possible they saw each other more in a brotherly fashion than anything else. That's how it was for Vel and many of his fellow warriors. It was just ... odd to think of being with them like that.

    Following Vanya's gaze, he saw the others banking the fire and bedding down, some together with their fellow brothers, some with the men of Vanya's warband, any lusty behavior performed quietly and hidden by thick furs.

    He turned back to Vanya at the subtle question. His lips curled in a slow smile, his gaze quickly surveying the tokens in Vanya's hair, pleased to see there wasn't one indicating a life partner. Like Vanya, Vel had the tokens in his hair for when he'd joined the warband and when he bonded with Nivan. There was a pale bone token he'd made from the mama bear he'd had to kill when it had attacked their group for passing too close to its lair. That one he didn't relish but it had been his first kill on his first patrol so his brothers had insisted he wear the fragment. There were several small pieces for significant Stone Dweller kills. There was no token to signify he had a partner.

    "Just family." He dropped his gaze to Vanya's mouth. "No one's captured my attention enough for me to pledge." He met Vanya's eyes again for a moment and then threw his empty skewer away. Nivan darted to inspect it. Untying his fur cloak, Vel tossed one side over Vanya's shoulders, scooting closer to him to share the cloak. "Since you lent yours to me for the sake of my haunch, this is the least I can do."

    The night was quiet, just the crunch and crinkle of packed snow beneath the heavy paws of the wolves padding about, licking at grease stains on the snow. Vel leaned his shoulder against Vanya's enjoying the companionable warmth. "I wonder if someday, our nieces and nephews will be able to look out over a twilight expanse like this and see just light and snow, not the myriad of tunnels and enemies that might be just below the surface." He spoke quietly, so only Vanya could hear. "Someday ... someday, I'm going to find a way to get there down there and bring the whole thing down on their heads. Oh!" He glanced at the meadow of sleeping warriors. "We were going to get the maps. I suppose we can do it over breakfast." He gave Vanya a leering grin, nudging his shoulder. "I need to make sure I have a reason to come back."
     
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  11. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Beside him, Karth made a sound like a sneeze, the bulk of his dark body rocking Vanya where he sat. The warrior spared him a brief, curious glance, before he felt the tell-tale amusement, thick and warm. It took him a little longer to realise the cause; Veliko, like all Alfar, had no way of disguising the nature of his mood, and the impure aspect he sensed was more warming than any wolf-pile they might have bedded down in.

    Celibacy was not expected of any Alfar within the warbands, and though there were some who had their preferences and would lay only with women, the majority took their comforts where they could find them. Some boldly and unrepentent, others furtively, as if ashamed of their own desires. Vanya had never known another male intimately. His single and short-lived liaison had been of the dangerous nature, the women he had been pursued by never intended for a lowly member of the warrior caste. Years had flown by since the unfortunate circumstances surrounding it, and the dark pall it had cast upon him ever since had made him avoidant - and avoided - by all but a scant few of his brothers. No one wanted to get close to a pariah. Leif, Ilya, Ysmir, Alfar who were willing to look past the lingering stain and see potential were the only ones he counted as friend, but those friends had no appeal to him. Few males did, in fact, which made Veliko, bold and curious Veliko and his temerity something of an anomaly.

    Vanya was cognizant of the fact that he was just as likely an open book to his companion. That the gutter slant of his thoughts was uncommonly prurient that night, and risked becoming a distraction from their roles as sentinel. It certainly didn't help that he could sense the desire roiling away beneath the furs behind him in one or two spots. Alfar warriors fast forgot their shame when privacy was perpetually lacking.

    When Veliko cloaked them both, moved close enough that they were pressed shoulder to shoulder, the simple pressure resulted in an uncomplicated desire not at all commensurate to the extent of the chaste pressure. Perhaps it would have been more understandable had Veliko insinuated a hand at the apex of his thighs, but no such thing had happened, and much to Vanya's disgust, Karth seemed all the more amused. He swung his head around toward them, breath rising in a scrim between parted jaws, tongue lolled in a lupine grin. There was a wolf-murky image of rutting, and Vanya could not be sure, but he thought he saw himself in that mental message, which managed to shock some of the desire from his system. Wolves did not imagine things they had not seen. They offered things witnessed in recent memory, but this was entirely fabricated. He said nothing, as the animal slid silent as a shadow down the rocks where they perched, and began his own patrol.

    "Our war has lasted generations," Vanya reminded, wryly. "We'd be ambitious indeed if we planned to end it in our lifetimes. What answer is there but a genocide? Would The Mother revile us for it?" These were things he asked himself in his gloomier moments, when he let the bestial violence of his brother sway his thoughts to savagery. Veliko might be dangerous to befriend, if he made the frequency of such fantasies more commonplace, his desires simpatico.

    Vanya reached between them, fumbling for the horn of ale lost somewhere in the rocks between their legs, knuckles skimming Vel's thigh as he retrieved it. He lifted it for a swallow that chased the remnant meat taste from his mouth. It was his turn to eye Veliko, studying his profile sidelong, where before he'd shied away from outright and indulgent study. He did not think his chances high of behaving, if they elected to bed down together when the second watch took over, and that kicked up his heart rate a notch. He knew how it was done of course, but...

    Irritated with himself, he fixed his eyes back on Karth, and the path of his patrol.
     
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  12. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    "Better to be ambitious and fail than apathetic and succeed." Vel returned Vanya's wry smile with a lifted brow, adding a second meaning to his otherwise philosophical statement. The emotions Vel felt rolling off Vanya were hardly inviting of a philosophical discussion. To be honest, he couldn't tell what they were inviting. Vanya was running hot and cold faster than a late spring day.

    Vel could sense attraction, which did great things for his ego considering how intensely attracted to Vanya he was. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Vanya studying him. It would be so easy to turn his head and capture that mouth with his own, taste the meat and the mead mixed with whatever Vanya's own flavor was. He was damn tempted to do it too, but the feelings of hesitation and irritation that followed gave Vel pause.

    Not to mention, they were on watch. Nighttime favored the Stone Dwellers whose eyes were more suited to it, and Vel was already distracted by the nearness of Vanya, the warmth of his body so close to Vel's, the scent of him mingled with the still lingering scent of roasted meat. The soft sounds of pleasure given and taken in the background weren't helping his state of mind.

    He watched Karth saunter off. Nivan glanced at Vel and he gave a little nod and the curious wolf padded after his new friend. They would notice something untoward before the Alfar would, no matter how vigilant they remained. Not that you shouldn't be vigilant, his inner Luka chided. Vel gave a soft huff of amusement. "You are ... distracting," he murmured, a smile in his voice. "In a good way," he added quickly. "Well, as good as being distracted on watch can be." He shot Vanya a crooked grin.

    Vel wasn't given to subtly. He didn't see much point in it. Being able to sense everyone's emotions was more frustrating than anything else. There could be a lot of reasons behind an emotion and assuming the wrong one could lead to a breakdown in communication.

    "I hope you'll bed down with me when our watch is over." There, it was out there. "Until then, would you tell me the story of you and Karth? I sense a great story there. I can't imagine just anyone being able to heal a broken bond much less with a wolf of his calibre." He turned his head to face Vanya. "You must be pretty incredible."
     
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  13. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    "I'm distracting?" Vanya asked, an incredulity to his tone that was half accusatory, as if to say, And what are you? "Perhaps you're a student of Eorlund's. He's done a good job." Jest though he might, Vanya was still dipping his toes in the water where flirtation was concerned, and wishing he'd paid more attention to how the infamous predator he mentioned had cultivated his reputation. Perhaps he wouldn't be so unsure of how his his efforts would be taken if he knew for certain that they'd met with success previously. Still, there was an undeniable high in this, particularly when Veliko proposed they share their furs when the time came.

    The direct approach was, he found, more appreciated than something contrived. He huffed out an amused breath that had his breath cloud-curling skyward and endeavoured, without much success, to will away the first stirrings of arousal compounding his impatience with the watch.

    "It sounds like a welcome way to warm up. Perhaps somewhere..." He'd intended to identify a spot. Preferrably out of sight and sound of the others. he could think of nothing worse for an amateur performance to be disturbed by inquisitive Alfar who knew full well he'd spent the last few years miserably celibate. Nowhere obvious immediately presented itself however, no matter how determined his hunting eyes were.

    Whatever he might have said was interrupted however, as Karth's warning shunted rudely through his simmering desire like a splash of ice water down his neck. Vanya hissed a sound between clenched teeth and rose with startling alacrity, the shared cloak tumbling off his shoulders. He stood for a moment like something stone carved, rigidly fixed and his eyes caught between the here and there, as if he saw something far beyond the horizon. It was Karth's eye he borrowed, viewing the frigid world in muted colours and attempting, without success, to pinpoint what had alarmed him.

    Nothing.

    And yet behind him, the other wolves were waking as if shaken rudely from slumber by unseen hands. No scent shared, nothing obviously visual, and he could hear no sound to concern him. He began to suspect a false alarm, but his heart still hammered, caged bird flustered behind the cage of his ribs, and Karth's warning pulsed again, ominous and smothering. Not the excitement of having tracked down Stone Dwellers, nor the blood hunger of some fel beast come stalking them for the scent of the meat. This was something other, something that had the direwolves skulking with their bellies low to the ice, ears flat and tails tucked.

    Karth turned on Nivan, herding his unexpected follower back towards the group with a couple of lip curling snarls and his hackles raised so that he looked near twice his size, ready to square up to whatever was coming. Vanya got the impression that even he wasn't sure what was, though.

    Vanya was mid-reach for his axe, vaguely aware of the murmurs of waking Alfar behind them, disturbed by the fear of their wolves. "Do you see anything?" he asked Vel.

    And that was precisely when the quake hit them.
     
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  14. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Vel followed Vanya to his feet, searching the other man's face for the source of his sudden change in demeanor. A moment later, Nivan's confusion and disquiet brushed Vel's mind. He followed Vanya's gaze toward the wolves. Vel couldn't see Nivan's silver-white coat against the expanse of twilight-lit snow pack. He heard his yip of surprise and took a step forward off the rocky outcrop they'd perched upon. Invading Nivan's sight, he saw Karth snarling at Nivan, nipping at him to back off.

    There was no danger that Vel could see and Nivan couldn't give him a clear picture other than a sense of impending wrongness. Vel turned his head toward the soft meadow of furs and wolves as the latter began to stir and whine. It wasn't just Karth or Nivan. He met Vanya's eyes briefly and then mentally recalled Nivan back to him. He reached for his weapons the same moment Vanya did. Just because they didn't know what was out there didn't mean there wasn't something there. It was a rare day the wolves got it wrong, much less all of them simultaneously.

    Vel's eyes widened as the first rumbles fluttered under his feet. He yanked his weapons free thinking the Stone Dwellers were tunneling right under them. Small, loose rocks clattered down the slope above and he jumped off the outcrop onto solid ground, but it trembled too, the thick ice snapping and cracking. The warband woke quickly, each grabbing weapons that were always within reach.

    Nivan started to howl and Vel shushed him, trying to pinpoint where the tunneling was coming from, but there was no way to pinpoint the sound or the trembling. It seemed to come from everywhere at once, which made no sense. He held a half axe in one hand and his short sword in the other, his feet planted shoulder width apart to steady himself against the unsteady ground. He scanned the terrain but saw nothing to indicate Stone Dwellers had broken through to the surface.

    In less than a minute, the noise and shaking stopped. The warriors remained still and vigilant for several long minutes, their quiet breath casting wispy puffs in the late night air. They stayed that way until the wolves returned to normal, sniffing around curiously but no longer agitated. "Well," Vel said, finally sheathing his weapons. "That was ... interesting." The warband relaxed but didn't drop their guard, and no one seemed keen on going back to sleep right away. The second watch relieved Vel and Vanya.

    It was clear to Vel that whatever had just happened was not commonplace in Vanya's territory either. They all seemed as bewildered as Vel and his tribe. Vel exhaled slowly. His body was still tense. His heart was starting to slow but he still felt taut as a clothesline. Nivan butted his hand and he scratched the wolf's head.

    Vel looked at Vanya, disappointed that they probably wouldn't get back what he'd almost seemed to talk the other man into. He wasn't sure either of them could relax enough for that now. But he wouldn't mind just sitting with the other man again. He liked that Vanya didn't feel the need to fill up every quiet moment with talking. Picking up his discarded cloak, he wrapped it around his shoulders, and tipped his head toward an empty space along the outcrop of rock, lifting his brow in invitation.
     
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  15. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Once the rumbles had ceased, and the world seemed to find its equilibrium again, Vanya had slipped soundlessly away down the rocks where they'd been playing sentinal to confer with the rest of his warband. Their bivouac had been pelted with dislodged rock and grit, and some of them were shaking it from their furs, tossing the larger pieces out of the camp and down the slope. What had been a pristine expanse of uncomplicated white stretching endlessly below their vantage, had become savagely rent, with a webbing of deep fissures. Beneath the ribbons of multicoloured light carelessly dancing through the skies, they seemed all the more pronounced. How deep did the ice go?

    Brief discussion, the more forceful personalities predictably swaying the more timid in favour of their arguments, and the decision was reached to wait and watch, rather than roam down to investigate, particularly since none knew whether there might be a recurrence.

    Despite the second watch relieving them, Vanya and the majority of their warband felt entirely disinclined to trying to sleep again, and so he joined Veliko when he saw the Alfar motion him over. Karth, much to the discomfort of the second watch, remained right where he'd been at the lookout point, sharing their space and that of their wolves as if he didn't trust in them to be effective sentinels. Vanya didn't bother to call him away. The animal was obdurate, and apparently convinced he knew better than the rest of the pack the the Alfar combined.

    "Those tremors were strong enough to bring the snows down off the Mother's Arms," Vanya muttered darkly, fastening the clasp of his cloak and rearranging the fur-lined garment over broad shoulders, the buttermilk pale of braided hair caught under the neckline. "It might not have caused much damage here, but if there were avalanches north of us..." He trailed off. Most of the settlements closest to the mountains had been built far enough away to minimise the risks, but there was no way of knowing if the towns were buried, whether lives had been lost. "Hel's breath," he cursed bitterly, "it'll have woken every jormunguar from here to the coast, and who knows if homes still stand?"

    Therein lay the conundrum. To attempt to travel again when the denizens of the deep ice were active would have been suicidal, but to remain inactive in their camp, when their assistance might be needed, was eating at him sure as wyvern's venom. His tension was fueled by the anxiety running through the group like a vicious cycle. Vanya could feel the unstudied calm radiating from Leif, a talent that made him such an effective patrol leader, but even he was not entirely settled, lips set thin in the frame of his rusty beard.

    Vanya tore his eyes from the ragged snowscape to peer Vel's way, subconsciously seeking some parity in his response to it all. So infrequently did he find his brothers as keen to act as he, and yet he felt, or rather suspected, that Veliko might share his frustration. "What think you?" he asked bluntly. "Some Stone Dweller trick? It seems too great a feat to attribute to the rock rats. Shakes like that and they'd collapse their own tunnels."
     
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  16. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Vel shook his head, the loose wisps of pale hair that had escape his horsetail sweeping across his cheeks. "It wouldn't make sense for rock rats to have caused it but I certainly wouldn't put it past them to use to their advantage." He huffed softly in frustration. He vehemently disagreed with Luka and Lief's position to play it safe. "We have the combined advantage of two warbands. If ever there was a time not to play it safe, it's right now."

    The argument that they had two combined warbands was refuted with the fact that Vanya's warband was already at the northern end of their territory. For them to advance further north could, possibly leave some of their own settlements unprotected. While Vel couldn't exactly argue with that logic, circumstances tended to favor the immediate danger migrating north rather than south. Luka was fond of tradition. We've always done it this way; therefore we should continue to do it this way. Warbands almost always stayed within their territories; therefore, a combined force was out of the question.

    Vanya's frustration seethed between them, probably exacerbated by Vel's. The fact that Vanya was concerned for lives outside his tribe's told Vel a lot about his character, and Vel liked it. "We seem to be the only ones inclined to do anything but we don't have a snowball's chance in the underworld of fighting off even a medium sized force. I'd give us decent odds against a small force. I'm pretty capable and I'm guessing you're more so if you can snag a wolf like Karth." He sighed heavily. "What does it say about us if we're not willing to take risks? Isn't that what we're here for?"

    They were inside a small cleft, partially out of site of the rest of the warband, some of whom were sitting around the fire, talking quietly. Others had bedded back down with either a companion or a wolf for warmth. Nivan was nestled between two new fur-friends near the fire. Vel knew that he should to sleep too because morning would come regardless of what time he went to bed and then it would be an arduous trek north with possibly, multiple dangers to face from the land and those under it.

    He leaned his head back against the rock and closed his eyes. While knowing he wasn't alone in his frustration was comforting, there wasn't anything they could do about it so just sitting here stewing on it wasn't going to accomplish anything. He gave a soft huff of wry amusement. "I don't suppose I could talk you into letting me distract you again. It's probably less inappropriate now than it was when we were on watch."
     
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  17. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Isn't that what we're here for?

    Never a truer statement had Vanya heard. Their lot in life, to be risked for the good of those with the privelege of having left the womb first. Yet even in the risking, they had no real free will. Life was still a sacred thing to Alfar, whose numbers seemed to have stagnated, so wasting it on a whim was as good as cursing oneself. On a more practical note, if they perished through foolhardiness, replenishing the numbers of the warbands with youngsters not yet trained in spear or axe would leave the civilians ill protected. That would lie poorly on his conscience. And it would be just Vanya's luck to survive it and have to suffer the fallout.

    Still, it was a comfort to know he wasn't alone in what he felt; too often he held his tongue when the warband gathered for a moot, cautious of being ridiculed for outlandish opinion. There was a pleasant safety in feeling his frustrations echoed, even if he knew, sensibly, that he and Veliko were probably bad for one another in that respect, like a hot-headed Alfar bonded to an impatient wolf. A better partnership when the Alfar was more reserved, and could steady his brother if need be.

    Vanya's laughter was warm but wry, when Veliko offered to distract him again. His smile skewed, a hint of regret in the way his brows drew together, for he couldn't help but agree when the other Alfar determined it less, but still inappropriate. That didn't stop him from making jest of it, and a little crudely at that. "Aye, I can just imagine it. Stiff pricked and trying to figure out how to get it in, and the world shakes again." He felt no shame in alluding to his own inexperience. It was a truth he would have had to address sooner or later, had they been able to retire as the others had. "As tempting as I am to dip my wick, it seems fate would be equally as tempted to tumble some rocks on our heads if we allowed ourselves to get distracted."

    It appeared he'd already imagined it would be he burying himself, and Veliko suffering his poor aim in this imagined tumble of theirs. In truth, he'd never imagined letting anyone bugger him, the very notion so unlikely that it never featured in his fantasies. It was only now, as he realised he was being presumptuous that he came to the conclusion that he couldn't expect to have everything his own way. There were other warriors in his warband, experienced killers with not a meek bone in their bodies who lay down for their lovers unashamedly. Veliko might have expectations that did not mirror his own.

    His expression became more serious, his study of the warrior shrewd as he sought to determine, as if he might pluck the truth from his appearance-- his expression, whether he'd be the sort to roll over without dispute. Sometimes, asking was the easiest option. "You've lain down for men before?"

    Talking about it of course, had the predictable effect of shunting bloodflow south again. Perhaps the excitement of the quake had perversely effected his libido, the promise of action gone unfulfilled coiling in him, still eager to be spent in whatever way he could manage.
     
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  18. Ashryn

    Ashryn Advanced m/m writer Community Helpers

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    Vel chuckled softly at the self-deprecating allusion. Curling the fingers of his right hand into a tube, he thrust two fingers of his left hand into it. "My world will shake, that's for sure." He was surprised to hear Vanya was even considering it. Vel had meant the invitation couched as a comment but more than anything, he'd been lightening the crushing frustration they were both feeding each other. It had worked far better than he'd expected. Now he was having to adjust his pants which had suddenly become uncomfortably tight.

    The full implication of Vanya's words took a few more seconds to register and then he turned to look at the other man, the stunningly gorgeous man that couldn't possibly be saying he'd never been with anyone. "We can go ... somewhere ... away from the rocks, if its a concern." His mind was spending more energy trying to fathom the unfathomable that there was little left for coherent speech, not to mention, all this thinking and talking about it was leaving little blood left in the head on his shoulders. He turned to look out at the expanse of disturbed ice. "Though we could fall asleep here and get taken by surprise just as easily." He wasn't especially keen to have a lay on the ice but at this point, he'd do it just about anywhere.

    Yes, it was possibly inappropriate given that members of his tribe might be suffering right now, but Vel's actions with Vanya, or the lack therefore, weren't going to change anything. They were both here, consumed by thoughts of each other. It was unlikely either of them would sleep, might as well have a rut and let off some of the pressure.

    It had been a good while since he'd been with anyone which worked in their favor if Vanya had never been with anyone. At least neither would be alone in having it all come to an end quickly. Vel turned to look at him again. Lust rolled off Vanya, mirroring Vel's, but also strong hesitation that Vel didn't believe came solely from the lack of experience. He gave a soft huff of amusement and a crooked grin at Vanya's question. There seemed to be more behind the question than simple mechanics but Vel appreciated the openness in asking it.

    He ran his tongue over his teeth as he thought about his answer, his eyes traveling slowly down Vanya's torso. After a moment, he turned and threw a leg over Vanya's, moving to straddle him, his hands planted on the rock on either side of Vanya's head. His crooked grin still in place, he brushed his nose against Vanya's, almost like two wolves. "I've laid down. I've knelt. I've stood. I've sat, just like this. I've been the giver and the receiver. I'm not choosy. It all feels good. Whatever works for you, works for me."
     
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  19. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    Blissfully ignorant of the fact that Veliko had misconstrued and assumed him entirely unfamiliar with the act, Vanya soon found his curiosity about the other Alfar's experience gamely answered. He wasn't sure whether to be pleased that one of them was knowledgable, or concerned that he'd seem all the more the fumbling inept. Not that thinking played much into what was happening with the weight of the warrior straddling his lap, the intimacy of the proximity. Vanya's hands were quite capable of acting by reflex, needing no guidance from his less competent mind. His fingers fanned broad over Veliko's flanks, but even there frustration bloomed, as the fleece lined gloves he wore kept him from feeling more than the solidity beneath the layers and layers the warriors had to clothe themselves in, in order to keep the cold at bay.

    One hand groped roughly, squeezing to be sure it was felt, down over the warrior's ass, a grip to bruise while he lifted the other to his own mouth, and used his teeth to tug the ice crusted glove on the other hand free. He let it drop carelessly, forgotten, and didn't hesitate when it came to insinuating his hand under cloak, jerkin, undershirt, and whatever else may have been guarding what lay beneath. Calloused fingers and scarred knuckles dragged over Veliko's spine, made themselves impatiently acquainted with his skin, the sensation electric, his hide a furnace heat compared to the barren rocks they were perched on.

    A hard tug from the hand clamped viciously over his backside, and they were hip to hip, as blunt a message as ever there was. Feel that? Not that there was any remote chance it might be missed, hard as an iron bar, trapped at an angle that he wasn't going to tolerate for long.

    "I can't promise I can make it feel good," he warned him. The single woman he'd been with, he'd taken time to learn. They were soft bodied, frail feeling, and scared of hurting her, he'd been restrained. At least there they'd had the comfort of a bed, the warmth of a hearth, the luxury of stretching out in the aftermath. Still, he couldn't remember ever having felt as hungry for it as he was here, with an Alfar little better than a stranger perched astride him. He'd try to attribute it to the thrill of the quake earlier, or perhaps the swamping, hive-like arousal of the warriors who'd indiscreetly taken their pleasure with one another while they'd been on watch.

    He'd have been lying to himself though, if he didn't confess to a base desire, the hard kick of a lust he hadn't felt in years. Unfamiliar, even.

    Vanya was taller than Veliko, but even sat up straight he hadn't quite enough inches to be eye to eye, whilst he was sat astride. Chin tilted up, he leaned in brow to brow, pressing him back. "Not on the rocks then," his breath hot against the other warrior's mouth, though he made no pretense of being about to kiss him. That he denied for now, while the blunt edges of his nails left livid lines upon the skin he explored. "Over there." Where he meant potentially didn't matter, since he wasn't setting Veliko back on his feet. He rose fluidly, a single smooth motion with both hands grappling the thighs about his hips.
     
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  20. Kilenath

    Kilenath Wild Member Member

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    4:51 AM
    Rushed though their encounter had been, and restricted to the use of their hands out of simple practicality, the Alfar lay as comfortably as the inhospitable terrain would allow. Heat trapped beneath fur and hide, chill air across cheeks and brows, they were sated, to a point. A point they had mutually agreed they would cross, vigorously, when next they met on their patrols. The potential for such an encounter was slim, they knew, and the potential for one or the other to meet a premature death in the line of duty far greater. Few of the disposable, second sons who entered the war camps lived beyond their twenty-fifth turn, before they were in effect living on borrowed time. Still, it never hurt to have something to look forward to.

    Vanya had fallen into a deeper slumber than Veliko, the weight of his arm anchoring the slightly smaller Alfar against his chest, hips tucked snug against his haunches without a hint of concern for how he might wake in the coming hours. Blessedly, he didn’t snore, and did not stir when Veliko moved a hand to stroke through Nivan’s heavy, winter coat. Karth, still patrolling somewhere, exploring the great fissures the quake had left in snow and ice more than a dozen feet deep, did not trouble his bonded brother’s mind. He only slipped across the world like a shadow, his advancing years no barrier to instinct.

    The distance was unfortunate.

    The old wolf’s nose was scenting upwind of the encroaching threat, one which gathered at stone’s song, amassing out of sight and in greater number than that of the bodies resting in the red-gold illumination of the campfire. So rarely did such an opportunity present itself that the more bloodthirsty amongst them would have railed against the commands of their elders and begun the assault too early… and a pity they had not, for a fairer, cleaner fight it would have been. In a war, and particularly one as drawn out and brutal as that between Alfar and Stone Dweller however, ‘fairness’ could no longer be afforded.

    It was Ethnir who caught their scent first, the golden eyed wolf lifting his huge head from the indentation he’d hollowed out for himself beside Leif. Snow crusted the edge of a large, twitching ear, but the hunters held still, with breath stagnant in their lungs, and made not a sound. Their silence did not abate his caution however. He’d too long known the scent of the enemy, the subterranean wrongness clinging to skin and clothing, and it was only a matter of how long, not if, before he sounded the proverbial alarm. Not the howl of common wolves, who sang for the simple pleasure of their chorus, but the blunt force to the brain of melded minds come alive with warning.

    The wolves knew it first. They woke as if they’d never slumbered in the first place, some of them disturbing the Alfar they lay beside, who grunted confused, half-sleep murmurs as the alarm filtered through the conjoined pack and finally into the two-legged element of their teams.

    Too slowly.

    Karth picked up on the danger, and threw the full weight of his influence behind it, a shove that catalysed Ethnir’s urgings, magnified it so that in short order the Alfar were scrambling, some expecting another quake, others more clearly able to interpret the visual images they were receiving from their wolves.

    Vanya woke, and found himself on his feet before he’d even really registered what it was Karth had so brutishly shoved into the forefront of his awareness. His faculties scrambled to catch up with the momentum of his body, the shared cloak trampled underfoot as he swore, turning to try and locate the unseen enemy.
     
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