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#1
Farther and farther away was his home. Desire to return and wander amidst trees he had known since he was but a newborn was waning. It was not his home anymore, with wolves of fire swooping in and claiming it as theirs. Imposing rules upon rules on those trees that he could no longer breathe as freely. It hurt; this was the reason why he did not return as often. It hurt so deeply, seeing chains suffocating his childhood home.

He had not forgiven Cairo, and he did not think he ever would. The scar she had left upon him was so very deep and the trust he had placed in his friend was now shaken. But he did not hate her. It came very close, but he did not hate her.

But it would be untrue to say he was untouched by hatred; it burned within, vicious and cruel. He hated the family. He hated the matriarch. She who ruled them; who had tamed the wild forest with irons. So very bitter and hateful was he that he almost wished their fire would burn the forest down, ending their empire for the second time.

It would mean he would lose his home for the second time.

So, to soothe the ache, he had turned his gaze elsewhere and chosen to only walk on roads that led him away from the Hidden Forest. Red Wood was where he would wander to today. Red decorated the landscape, growing finally from the charred ruins, and the blossoming forest was alive with little beasts. The sight softened his heart, at least.


“You seemed to replace your brain with your heart."

ART & CODE ➤TWISTY


@Nastasya @Raiden
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#2

The days had been progressive, each step she made seeming to lead her to something more, a higher purpose and goal to achieve. It was strange to have a lack of chaos in her life, a steady peace that left her at a rare ease yet in a strange way she remained paranoid of the next disaster that might befall her. Well not her, them. Her blood red gaze scanned the spine covered trunks of the forest that lead to the next territory that she was going to be calling home from now on, so long as everything continued to go smoothly and nothing came up that might prevent them from trusting her to be their healer. It wouldn't be the strangest thing that ever happened to her. In how long she had been alive, an anomaly or two every once in a while became the norm, keeping her life interesting, to say the least. It kept her going, helped her become stronger, navigate through life continuously blindfolded. It was thrilling. She loved that thrill, she chased it for years.

However, would that storm of chaos start to cease now that so many puzzle pieces were falling into their spaces? A mate, a pack, a life of a stationed healer and potential to have a family of her own if she was so lucky. They were dreams come true. So why was she afraid? She should be full of pure happiness being given everything she ever wanted and more.

That was around the time in her thoughts it dawned on her that she had lost track of where she was walking and got separated from the one she cherished so, leaving her lost and confused for a moment as she looked around for his dark figure among slightly matching terrain. At least the land was regaining it's vibrant reds as it continued to grow, with it too hopefully another Eldritch tree would come forth from it's boon, rising like a phoenix among the remaining soot. There needed to be a strong downpour to rid of the rest, to make the land shine all the more. That would take time as a rain dance never worked, no matter how much effort one put into it. A smile slipping over her lips at the idea, recalling a group of wolves years ago that traveled through Cyrileth, that truly did believe such a thing was possible. Being whom she was, she happily joined them until they were all worn and tired.

Those memories faded as she spotted a figure of black, brown and russet travelling along from the opposite direction as her, looking around at the landscape. She didn't really think too much about it as she started to bound over toward them, assuming it was Raiden on her initial glance, not taking the time to examine where the russet played with different patches of fur than what she knew. As legs retracted and stretched with each stride, she looked toward where the other seemed to be looking, curious as to what he might have found as her tail wagged eagerly. So focused on what they were, there had become less and less in terms of them studying/discussing nature and more so studying each other. Now that that had been resolved, perhaps they could return to what brought them together in the first place, taking a step back to learn everything and nearly anything.

Once she got rather close, careless as normal, she found traction and came steadily to a halt only a couple steps away, fur settling but still catching the light breezes of fall fast approaching. If only the trees were alive, then this place would have a standing ovation in the coming season. "Did you find something to study, Rai?" she asked absentmindedly, looking for anything particularly unusual.

As she didn't really find anything, she finally looked up to see something was indeed rather unusual. A man of those colors she saw was truly before her but a face of mostly black with lighter ear tuffs, eyes of molten honey, sharp and a body that housed far more muscle and stature. There was far more rust along their body, soaking up the black ink. This wasn't the man she spilled her heart to, no, that was obvious now and she quickly retreated back a couple steps. Her nose wiggled a little to catch his scent and she couldn't recognize it, though it did have some notes she thought familiar but couldn't place in her frenzy of surprise. "S-s-sorry, I thought you w-w-were...from a di-di-distance... a-at a glance you l-l-l-l-look like..." she stumbled, anxious rambling starting to take over as she shrunk back timidly to make herself look smaller, submissive, inferior.



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"Nastasya speaks."
Nastasya thinks...

Art © LunarSolstice | Coding © Plymouth

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#3
Molten gaze wandered among the red, muzzle briefly wrinkling as a memory he did not wish to see arose in his mind. Those leaves resembled the hurt in the cream woman's scarlet gaze. Expelling a huff, he banished the memory before it could take root and revive the guilt he felt that day. If he was destined to be absolved of his guilt, they would meet again, but as for now, it would be put aside. Shrugging as though it would dislodge the creeping burden of guilt, he resumed his walk, wandering deeper into the landscape dotted with red.

Sounds of pawfalls thudded softly, bringing Sanada's attention towards a woman painted ginger and white, but his ears only prickled when the voice called out; "Did you find something to study, Rai?" He tilted his head, his gaze holding a note of bemusement, and an amused smile was slow to grow upon his lips. Surely, this woman was talking about his brother? The name may be shared by more than one wolf, but coupled with his looks... He and Raiden were not wholly different, both wore black capes, flecked with russet, and warm-toned eyes. But not identical! he would insist inwardly.

The stranger was quick to recognise her mistake. "S-s-sorry, I thought you w-w-were...from a di-di-distance... a-at a glance you l-l-l-l-look like..." Stuttered apology stumbled out, her crimson eyes widening in horror. Confusion faded from his expression, replaced by an expression of mirth with a fleeting glimpse of offence, “I don't look like Rai!" He wrinkled his nose, “Have you seen him? He's a nerd."



“You seemed to replace your brain with your heart."

ART & CODE ➤TWISTY


@Nastasya @Raiden
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#4

She watched as the stranger's expression flickered from one emotion to the next in a spiral of confusion and entertainment of sorts, as if her words were nothing more than a bad joke he didn’t get right away. Which was fair, she must admit. To be mistaken for another, it had to make a slurry of thoughts run through one's head in a flash of trying to work out whom, how or why one might be comparing someone else to them. She personally didn’t really have to worry about it all that much, not many scampered around wearing extravagant coats made from marigolds, perhaps a sight that made one's eyes even more sore than ever when placed upon a wolf.

He just seemed to watch her, observing her like she was some stage doll being poorly portrayed by the puppeteer along an even worse set as she fumbled out apologies. She watched him in return but with her skulls casted down to avoid making eye contact as she watched his body shift with his weight and breathing, watching for anything that might indicate what he might be thinking or doing. An exclamation of rejection to her earlier question sent her head up to look at a rather close to laughing twitch along his muscle structure. Well it seemed he knew Raiden, or at least a Rai by his initial statement, which made the gears in her head turn in wonder as to him he was.

A few things slowly clicked into place as she looked at him, observed his reaction and took in his scent all the more into her faded memories. Right, back when she was injured and not so well in terms of being alive, some of the perfume was spread upon another’s fur in her stupor of dehydration and hypothermia, the second one that came across her. Recalling when she had recovered enough to keep a functioning mental state, Raiden had mentioned he had been spending time with his sibling. It also reminded her of Kylar mistaking Raiden for the male's brother. This could very well be two of the same coin and it had her perhaps even more tense than before, worrying now about making a bad first impression or him instantly hating her guts.

Though, what he had to say next both concluded that as more than likely, the boy was indeed a nerd after all, but it also vaguely upset her for someone to speak as though her mate was something inferior. Sounding like a simple musing or not.

Shakily she pulled herself out from the cowardice that ensnared her body, break the fold of looking like a frail kid and forming into a still not so confident woman, that wasn’t too happy with this man. "I have. Y-you're right, he is an enquiring young man with a pure heart. I can already tell you're an exponentially worse specimen compared to h-h-him..." the words felt alien in her mouth as they oddly kept her delicate voice, that didn’t match the words at all. Ears burning as she instantly felt guilty. Normally she was a she-wolf full of motherly warmth, affection, kind words and too shy to keep herself standing at first encounters that didn’t involve herb or wounds. That still remained true. She couldn’t even finish the comment as she faded out, feeling like anything further would be more than just defending the lightning eyed Taka.

"Sorry...that w-w-was uncalled for," she whispered near too quiet to make out, ears flicking back submissively.

On any other occasion; she might have thought the man handsome, his gaze holding a chaos in magma pools that she usually would find intriguing but this wasn’t one of those times. His words put tar on her cardiac valves, despite feeling like she shouldn’t take it to heart at all. She knew sibling teasing, her own brother would do so when they were little kids, out of lighthearted fun, but she felt like this man didn’t apologize or make up for it afterward.



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"Nastasya speaks."
Nastasya thinks...

Art © LunarSolstice | Coding © Plymouth

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#5

For once in his life Raiden was not out studying, in fact he was asleep in one of the dens that they'd found to nest in. Wandering and roaming and settling wherever they could was the mark of a loner. Those times would probably soon come to an end, however, with their decision to join the pack. It was only a matter of time.

It wasn't the call of a bird that roused him from his slumber but the voice, to him, was sweet and melodic as one. Nastasya... He could hear her in his dreams and smiled as he woke gently from sleep, head lifting and ears tilting towards the sound of her voice...

And the voice of another. He couldn't hear the words but he would recognize that tone anywhere!

His tail wagged as he clawed his way out of the den, stood in the warm air and turned towards the sound of voices at an easy trot. Dirt clung to body and he had a rather disheveled appearance. If one didn't know better they'd think he had been out digging about in some burrow trying to spy on gophers rather than just having been taking a nap. The sound of voices grew more incessant and their seemed to be an... annoyed tone?

A frown found its ways onto his features before he burst into the area where he found an apologetic Nastasya and his brother! He didn't know what was going on but he just knew that he was happy to see his two favorite wolves in one spot! "Sans!" He barked happily, running over and attempting to throw his forepaws around his sturdier brother's shoulders in a hug. Gently he would try to nip at Sanada's ears. "Where have you been, brother? Up to all sorts of new adventures, hm?" It had been far too long since they'd last laid eyes on each other! He wondered what sort of new things that Sanada would have to tell... and if he'd gotten his problems sorted out...

Afterwards he would turn his attention to Nastasya, a smile on his face and wag to his tail. "Hello, my dear Miss Asya, getting acquainted with your new relatives, hm?" With his spirits so high, he couldn't help the way his voice came out so teasing. Whatever had happened prior he hoped his appearance could hopefully smooth it out.



398| @Sanada @Nastasya | notes

"Raiden speaks."
Raiden thinks...

Art © LunarSolstice | Coding © Plymouth
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#6
The woman was no longer cowering, with her head ducked, crimson eyes averted, and posture submissive. No, she had risen, though her limbs still looked unsteady, to face him, and offence smouldered within her gaze. He quirked an eyebrow at the the furious intensity of her stare. "I have. Y-you're right, he is an enquiring young man with a pure heart. I can already tell you're an exponentially worse specimen compared to h-h-him..." Her voice was gentle and delicate, but this sweetness was not shared by her words. A hint of a laugh tingled at a corner of his lips, yet it was not amusement that elicited a huff of laughter from him, but surprise. Who was she that felt compelled to defend his brother from the exponentially worse specimen?

Within the next moment, she reverted to her submissive posture, as though having realised her actions, and stuttered, "Sorry...that w-w-was uncalled for," She was mortified, but he did not care for there was one thing that stuck out that he could not ignore. “But you didn't deny that he's a nerd." A wicked smile crept onto his lips, baring just enough to have his little fangs peeking out.

"Sans!" He whipped his head around and was immediately greeted by a clumsy hug, with long limbs wrapping around his shoulders, and a light nip on his ear. He returned with a headbutt, bumping his head to his harmlessly. "Where have you been, brother? Up to all sorts of new adventures, hm?" But for a fleeting moment, the smile upon Sanada lips became strained but it disappeared when he said, “Sure!" He raised his muzzle to tap his nose on Raiden's forehead. “You too, I hope." A mock frown tugged at his features - the man who had travelled with Sanada for months better not disappoint him.

"Hello, my dear Miss Asya, getting acquainted with your new relatives, hm?" Raiden turned to the woman - Miss Asya - and his voice took on a teasing note. Sanada glanced at his brother, the wickedness of his smile had not vanished. If anything, it only deepened. “She's already giving me nicknames. Sans's getting tiresome. Call me 'exponentially worse specimen' instead."


“You seemed to replace your brain with your heart."

ART & CODE ➤TWISTY


@Nastasya @Raiden
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#7

As she tried to rob him of the ability to make fun of the one she cared for deeply, it wasn't offense or defense that came forth from the stranger but rather a huff of laughter. Her crimson eyes slowly studied his face and her fur felt like it was on the edge of bristling as she watched his lips curve only slightly, feeling like he was bemused more in that of a madman's way. Intimidation was very much kissing her muscles right now, making her want to run off like she often felt like doing especially as his maw creep into that of a sinister smile but she was too stubborn to listen to the instincts that were there to keep her alive. She had dealt with worse, far scarier men in her life that truly wanted to turn her into a toy or pull her limb from limb. To let that fear control her was to let the darkness win and negativity take the place of blind optimism. Though last time she ignored that fear it ended up with her nearly dying.

The next comment that came with that tiger grin made her ears twitch and pin just a little, letting out the smallest of huffs of her own. Just as she was about to speak an excited cry cracked forth before her own could form a solid syllable, a familiar scent flared her nostrils and a dark figure of another male yanked the first into a playful hug. Her own body shying even further away from them. She was nervous and hesitant, creeping away some as she felt her skin pull tightly along her skull as she watched on with anxiety as she took in what had been going on verse what was happening now. The amount of love that poured from the one she had been verbally defending toward this stranger, that was quite obviously his brother, had her shaken. Knowing well she made a bad first impression but she didn't really care as she felt he very much did the same thing.

Even though she had formed more distance, she continued to observe him, watching his facial expressions shift to Raiden's words and taking in the brief bit of discomfort he had toward the first question. It fleeted away rather quickly, matching the kinder one's playful antics with physical affection mostly with his head and muzzle. She couldn't help a small ginger smile from forming to see the brothers socialize, it was heartwarming. The words were simple enough, a quick game of catch up with very little details tossed between them but then the attention was turned to her. She could compare her feelings to stage fright as Sanada refocused on what had been going on between them and that discomfort aggravated her heart, it thudding fiercely in her chest as he recited the thing she had said to him and she regretted trying to take it back now. She was starting to understand the rattled reaction Kylar had when she thought Raiden was Sanada as she took in that cruel smile.

She didn't want to hurt her mate by leaving when he was so happy, it was the only thing besides being frozen, keeping her here while he smiled like that. She certainly wasn't going to apologize again so she would instead go along with the hand he dealt between them. "You're the nerd," she muttered softly at him with narrowed yet still sheepish eyes, finally answering his comment far later than she would have liked, referring more to the socially inept and foolish variety of nerd over that of the studious. Despite it all, she couldn't say she hated him nor did she want anything bad to happen to him but she sure wished they had gotten off on a better foot than this one.



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"Nastasya speaks."
Nastasya thinks...

Art © LunarSolstice | Coding © Plymouth

[Image: dcuf81q-4aaec622-dcb1-4a6c-a9e7-46d457f84823.png]
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#8

He had ever been the watchful brother. Quiet, inquisitive, and attentive. He noticed the tone shift, the subtle change in expression before his brother tried to wave it away with the cheerful answer of "Sure!". Raiden had seen but he wouldn't bring it up now, not when this was supposed to be a happy reunion but later he vowed to ask Sanada about what had really gone on in his absence. He knew that there had been some trouble before at least, something dealing with a vow. For now, the exchanged pleasantries and playful actions were enough to draw laughter from the younger brother and happiness from him. "Of course! We've been up to all sorts of things!" Mostly romantic things and pack things but still things... probably a little more mundane than Sanada's adventures but they made Raiden content.

His attention turned to Nastasya and he could see something there. A bit of strained expression as she looked at Sanada. Oh no, had he not come in time to help salvage this relationship? He knew that Sanada could come on a bit strongly sometimes. He hoped this hadn't drawn a permanent strained line in Sanada and Nastasya's relationship. "Exponentially Worse Specimen? Bit of a long name, isn't it? What if I shorten it to "Ew" instead? How does that sound, Ew?" He snickered and winked at Nastasya conspiratorially as if they'd planned on calling him Ew for a while.

"You're the nerd." The sentence was muttered and barely audible as Nastasya threw it at Sanada. Had that been something they were arguing about? It was no secret that his brothers thought he was a nerd. Heck, it was probably very true as, even as a pup, he'd loved to stare long hours at seemingly mundane things. When he was younger the term had bothered him a little but now he accepted it and just took it to mean that he liked to study things. No big deal. "I don't know if he's studious enough to be called a nerd. It takes a lot to pull off being a nerd." Playfully he licked his tongue out at Sanada. A valiant attempt to keep everything light and to hopefully let Nastasya know that he didn't really mind the term. It was all just friendly ribbing, as they had always been prone to do.




392| @Sanada @Nastasya | notes

"Raiden speaks."
Raiden thinks...

Art © LunarSolstice | Coding © Plymouth
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