It’s been a long while since I posted anything here; I’ve had such a busy summer with life and larp that I haven’t had time to chronicle any of Kampi’s adventurers much less write out anything that wasn’t related to my duties as a staff member for Medieval Chaos. But now that the off season has come I’ve found myself a bit more free time, at least enough to have some one-on-one RP with some of my fellow players. I consider this my contribution to NaNoWriMo, though most of the credit goes to my friend Rowan for coming up with the scenario in the first place and contributing half of the dialogue.
The majority of Kampi’s Saga entries have been written in a first-person, pseudo journal-entry style, but this one is written third-person as it better follows the thoughts and actions outside of our usual narrator. What follows is an encounter in the woods between Kampi and his once friend Brynn during the last full moon.
First, a bit of background:
Over the past season Kampi’s personal prejudices against therianthropes, seeding from his personal beliefs (mostly the psychological scars from Amsel), grew steadily throughout the past season to the point that it actually became uncomfortable for me to play him. Since this downward spiral needed to be broken, when the opportunity arose that he was forcibly turned into a therian, I was all over that.
That occurred during the final weeks of October and was instigated by a therian Kampi openingly attacked a few weeks prior named Shiny, who just happened to also be Brynn’s mate and is currently being kept under custody pending trial for breaking several laws. Kampi had feelings for Brynn in the past, but when she was willingly turned by Shiny, he took it very personally (a bit more than everything else he does) and it contributed to his growing hate at the time.
Though Kampi had isolated himself out in the wilderness since revealing his new condition to the folk of Dagger Deep, Brynn managed to track him down, feeling that despite the bad blood between them, he needed support during his first transformation that full moon.
So without further ado, I present another entry in his Saga, which I’ve simply titled:
The Fox and the Wolf
Kampi was gone.
The eyes of a familiar figure, donned in the grey trappings of a Northmen, glinted in the silver light of the full moon with gleam that bespoke of an altogether different cunning than what was normally reflected: They shone with an animalistic savagery.
An Unending hunger.
Far within the hinterlands of Arrakis, winter was briefly intruding upon autumn; a light shower of rain mixed equally with chunks of attempted snowfall, wept from a partially clouded sky. Though the woollen clothes of the grey figure were thoroughly soaked, it did nothing to quench the hunger within.
Crouching low to the forest floor and occasionally making use of all four limbs to traverse the slick terrain, the lone hunter stalked through the moonlight, casting furtive glances at the shadows and frequently pausing to strain its hearing for anything other than the accustomed noise of the rain and the occasional falling leaf.
The hunger was kept at bay so long since it acquired its most recent host, or rather the host acquired it. It had not physically fed for what seemed like an eternity. Instead it had nothing to feed upon for sometime but emotions; specifically fear, anger, and hatred. As delicious as they were, now that it was again free, the hunger yearned for the unforgettable taste of raw flesh; and with it, it would continue to exert control over the weakened resolve of the host.
Though the prey that were driven from their borrows during the early evening hunt were rank with fear, they were ultimately unfulfilling upon consumption. The hunger longed for a greater meal; one that who satisfy its eternal craving, if only for a moment. The host had been wise to lose itself deep in the wild, away from the bountiful settled lands where the hunger could be sated. This mania drove it onward in search of true sustenance.
Abruptly it paused and sniffed at the damp air; its eyes dilated as hairs grew stiff on the back of its neck. A brief but somehow familiar whiff was caught when a breeze shifted briefly from downwind. Coming from the direction traveled from, it became apparent it was being followed by the source of the scent.
The specific nature of this scent elicited a silent cry from within, yet separate, from the hunger; a deluge of thoughts and feelings followed, only serving to incite appetite: Here was a meal that would satisfy both the physical craving as well as ply such delicious emotions from the host for it to savour. Frenzy quickly overwhelmed the cry of reason as the hunger silently obscured itself underneath a thicket. There it waited patiently as it could muster amidst its ravenous throes.
Gradually, a cautious gait could be heard above the patter of rain, and soon after silhouette emerged above the crest of a nearby leeward slope. Without a moment for hesitation to take hold, the hunger launched itself toward its target with a howl, fangs and claws bared.’
‘The intended prey was, to its surprise, not caught off guard.’
Brynn let the light of the full moon wash away the elf left in her leaving only the beast. Rarely did she allow the walls she had built to fall even on a full moon. She was not dressed for the cold, wet night and the rain had already soaked through her clothing, plastering it to her skin. Her ears pricked as she heard almost silent footfalls through the bush.
Crouching into a fighting stance she readied herself for her foe. She may have come to help her new pack mate but there would be no mistaking who was alpha in this pack. The growl ripped low and deep from her throat.
As ferocious as the hunger was, it could not match the experience of its target. Baring her fangs and growling in defiance, she managed to defend against its initial onslaught and kept her bloodthirsty foe deftly at bay with her blade, until this new pack member found an opening in her defence and pounced.
Instead of the intended contact with exposed flesh, the hard surface of the vixens’ shield collided with the face of her assailant; the scent of blood drove them both deeper into their frenzy.
Near senseless from the blow, the hunter didn’t allow its prey a moment's’ opportunity to retaliate, and slammed into her with all the strength it could muster, knocking her off balance.
Reactively, Brynn released the grip on her shield and threw the hand around the exposed grapplers’ neck, her claws cutting across the skin, in a partial attempt to steady herself.
The momentum was too great and their muddy boots could not find purchase upon the slick rocks; entwined together, they started to tumble down the embankment.
As they fell branches and rocks caught both clothing and skin leaving bruises and tears. Finally as they hit the bottom of the embankment Brynn struggles to her feet, putting all her effort into not renewing the fight. Her intent had to be to help but she knew sometimes the fight took the edge off the pain of the turn. As she stood he could see a tattoo twining across her back through her torn clothing, it seemed almost like an intricate brand of thorns and vines.
The pain and pleasure of the moonlight was less in the shadow of the embankment but still coursed through her veins. What she really needed to sate their bloodlust was prey to hunt, something that he could feel the warm bloody meat in his teeth and eat their fill. Her ears pricked listening for such prey but her eyes stayed sharp on him.
While the hunger grappled with its prey down the incline, internally it battled with something else. The insignificant cry it had beat into the dark recesses had resurfaced louder. Distracting it from the kill.
Something knocked the breath out of it and their embrace was lost.
When the world ceased being a whirl of fangs and claws, skin and fur, and rock and sky, it attempted to orient itself.
It felt freezing rain upon its face. The nose was clogged, making scent useless.
The mouth was filled with a pleasant, coppery tang.
The mind echoed the cry.
The ears were filled with the rush of heartbeat.
The eyes opened; a red-tinged vision of dimly lit barren trees branches.
Outside the moonlight, the cry was growing louder.
There was movement to the right.
It shifted to the side in order to track the movement; the shoulder supporting it painfully throbbed but it ignored it as it prepared to resume the fight.
When it’s vision finally cleared and it was ready to appease the hunger, it hesitated.
Something about what it saw, perhaps the design imprinted upon her exposed back, beneath her soaked, torn clothes. Her dishevelled locks of hair and mud-caked fur steaming in the brisk night. Her eyes; framed by familiar designs shining beautifully in the dusky gloom.
Their eyes met.
And the hunger was silenced as the cry became a roar.
Pushing wet hair from her eyes, she watched him carefully as the rain ran down her face. She was wary of him, he was unpredictable, his hatred of her in recent months had hardened her feelings for him. She tried to recall her memories of their friendship, of fighting together but his hatred was hard to forget.
The cold of the icy rain was suddenly more apparent when the adrenaline of the fight started to drain away but felt good on the still raw design in her flesh. She waited to see if he would make the first move so she could gage how much was Kampi and how much was the animal.
How much was hate and if any understanding lay underneath.
She knew he had reason to hate her now, after what Shiny had done but she couldn't leave him in the rain alone. Not tonight.
For what seemed like eternity, the two watched each other.
Finally, Kampi couldn’t bare her eyes any longer. Averting her gaze, he let his head low and released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding; it hung as cloud in the cold air.
As the fury began to ebb he became acutely aware of the wound up tension in his muscles, keeping him taught like a coiled spring. Slowly he released it, and his body began to shake with spasms and tremors.
He attempted to break the silence but his voice sounded alien to him. His throat was raw; the clotting in his nose further twisted the tone.
“Well? What are you waiting for? Go on. Finish the job your mate started.“ Kampi spat harshly, the last words coming out with bitter emphasis.
“That’s why you’re here isn’t it, Brynn?”
Her voice was rougher than normal, growling low in her throat.
"No, I'm not here to kill you"
She paused, watching him, "I'm here because you shouldn't be alone, not like I was. But I need to know what you want now because I remember what you wanted for us before. To be locked up in cages? To be tortured? To die? And now you are one of us and I don't exactly see you scrabbling for a dagger or chains. Maybe that's because you see something beyond the hate now.”
“Or maybe you still want to kill us all."
She pulled in a deep growling breath,
"Until you prove it one way or another I won't abandon you to this since I am your Alpha, your kin and was once your friend."
Brynn’s mention of cages and torture brought back memories of his brief time in the mirror realm, and how the ruling powers treated their kind. Kampi couldn’t help but feel shame having once considered that perhaps not all differences in that realm were without merit.
“Alpha?” Retorted Kampi followed by a laugh that was as much as a cough.
“Is that was this about? Dominance? Pack mentality?”
He attempted to right himself and pain shot through his shoulder, causing him to gasp.
“If it is, I acknowledge you’re the better then, over this misbegotten whelp. I don’t wish to fight anymore.”
Resignation was in his voice.
“I’m also willing to agree with your assessment that the fact I’m alive paints me insincere when contrasted against my past words and deeds. But believe me now, that when I became what I am now, I sought to end it.”
He winced at the recent memories.
“But I could not fight past the self-preservation inherent in us all, and those I thought my friends would not grant me release. Many were all too willing to accept what I had become.”
He glanced briefly at Brynn.
“It is strangely comforting that you aren’t as accepting given what I was. Perhaps what I truly am.”
He paused, as a chill breeze wafted over them, laying bare the rents their clothing. He glanced up at the sky; the rain had mostly ceased, but the clouds grew thicker.
“Not all cages need to be bars and not all chains iron links. Out here I’ve locked myself away far from those I may harm, and thrown myself at the mercy of the fates and the elements to cast their own judgement.”
“And as for a dagger...”
Kampi reached at his side; he saw Brynn grow tense, her stance slightly dropping into a posture of readiness.
The blade of his seax shone in the dim light as Kampi slowly withdrew it from its worn sheath; a dagger which moons ago he had silvered with a particular use in mind. On its mirrored surface he briefly saw his beastial features, before he gingerly tossed it between himself and Brynn.
“I’m still willing to meet my fate sooner at the end of one.”
"We view the position differently. I was trained in leadership by the Wild Ones and my own tribe. While the position may be earned through violence Alpha means I have the responsibility to protect and serve my pack, whether that is from outside forces or from yourselves. I don't want you dead Kampi and I didn't think you were one to give up so easy."
She leaned down and picked the seax up out of the mud with a wince and a quiet groan. Using her wet clothing she cleaned off the blade.
"Raneth told me you thought your gods have forsaken you. While I have my own gods I know a certain amount about yours as well. Your gods are not pure and virginal white and gold, caretakers to protect you. They are blood and strength and survival. You have a chance to understand instead of hate."
She flipped the blade around and handed it back to him handle first.
Upon moving closer to return the blade, Brynn could clearly see sorrow in Kampi’s features; nevertheless he took the seax and buried the silver light in its sheath at his hip whilst speaking:
“Unlike you, it wasn’t by my own choice I became a therian and your charge.”
Kampi placed his feet beneath him and sat up into a crouch, before continuing.
“It is true that the capricious gods of the north value strength and help only those who help themselves; I’d spent years trying to live up to that ideal and do honour to them. But there had always been a lingering doubt that I was unworthy, and now that I fully see what I have wrought with my convictions, I see not a reason to continue.”
Kampi looked up at Brynn.
“My convictions were my strength, Brynn, that was why the gods of my homelands listened to me. But now that those convictions have been shattered; now that I can no longer trust my own judgement on what is wholesome and what it corrupt, what is good and what is evil, what is truth or falsehood, that strength has left me.“
Kampi wiped a dampness from his eyes; the rain had ceased sometime ago.
“It was not my gods who have forsaken me, but it is I who have forsaken them.
I’ve forsaken my friends and all those who trusted me.
She gingerly lowered herself to the ground with a sigh.
"Under what withering leprous light The very grass as hair is grey, Grass in the cracks of the paven courts Of gods we graved but yesterday. Senate, republic, empire, all We leaned our backs on like a wall And blessed as strong and blamed as stolid-- Can it be these that waver and fall? And what is this like a ghost returning, A dream grown strong in the strong daylight? The all-forsaken, the unforgotten, The ever-behind and out of sight. We turned our backs and our blind flesh felt it Growing and growing, a tower in height."
Brynn let the silence sit between them for long moments on the cold and dark night before she continued,
"Things change and people change. Giving up without a fight would be truly forsaking your gods. So give it a year and, if you still wish to die, I will fight you to the death. You can do your gods honor and die fighting but you must try and find a way to properly honor them and make a life while you live."
"You have to find something to live for Kampi, something to hold on to when the beast in you threatens to take over."
The moonlight seemed to creep closer to their feet as the moon moved across the sky. Their temporary sanctuary getting smaller by the minute.
Kampi nodded sombrely. Brynn’s outward gaze drew his attention to the shrinking size of the umbra they huddled in.
“Until I find such a thing, it would be best if we parted ways soon. I do not believe I can hold back the hunger when it does arise.”
Kampi tried his best at levity given the gloomy situation.
“I wouldn’t want you to fulfill your promise of a good death earlier than intended.”
She laughed and rose to her feet, spinning to face him.
"I told you I won't leave you tonight. You are a wolf now Kampi and I smell deer. Be free and join the hunt!"
She stepped back into the moonlight. As it washed over her features her eyes went wild for a moment and then she smiled once more before running in the direction of the tree line.
Kampi watched Brynn take off into the woods, her hair and fox tail streaming behind her. Her smile an echo in his mind.
He stood alone in the steadily shrinking shadow cast by the embankment, paralyzed with anxiety.
The hunger, which Kampi had briefly forced out of his mind, now lurked at the fringe of his consciousness; beyond the edge of the shadow, ready to reassume control.
His mind raced as he considered options; he gazed off into the treeline she disappeared into, and then back up the embankment. He could distance himself as best he could before the hunger set in, and hope that with his broken nose it wouldn’t locate her by scent when it inevitably searched for the prey it desired...
But something about the way Brynn said she wouldn’t be leave him that evening told him that they’d find each other again, and the outcome may be worse than their first encounter...
Taking a deep breath, he cautiously he stepped out of the modicum of shade and into the pale moonlight. His skin crawled, patches of hair and fur bristled, colours became muted yet shades were illuminated. Sounds were sharpened. His shoulder ached less.
Then the hunger flooded his thoughts, like a swollen river crashing against a dam.
Amidst this deluge, struggling to keep above the tide, Kampi clung onto the only thought he had.
For now, the dam held.
Nostrils still clotted, the wolf did his best to track the fox by sight and sound.
She hunted with claws and teeth, the hatchet strapped to her leg forgotten. She moved quietly to track the deer, staying upwind of their prey.
The adrenaline of the hunt and cool moonlight seemed to burn away the pain of her back and the throb of the earlier fight but she knew their best bet was a kill. She looked back for her wolf companion ready to take the deer completely unaware. As he moved in closer she nodded towards the creature with hungry eyes. Blood pounding in her veins as they stalked forward.
The deer caught their scent at the last moment but it was too late. In a flurry of teeth and claws she darted in and out, tearing at the deer's throat while avoiding flying hooves. Hot blood flew from the deer.
It was all a blur.
With steaming ichor dripping from its neck, the young doe twisted away from its predator, and dug its hooves into the moist earth in preparation to bound away.
Even though the wound received was fatal, the deer would attempt to flee its pursuers and continue to run until it either bled out or its heart would literally burst from the exertion. Though the pair would follow its trail to where it would end, it would deprive the hunters of the killing blow.
Following his alpha, the wolf launched itself into the flank of the deer, wrapping his arms around it as he sunk his claws and teeth into its flesh. He struggled to keep his grip as the prey bleated, attempted to buck him off and flee, but the therian’s mass dragged down on the doe and brought them both to the ground.
His eyes dilated as hot blood seeped into his mouth and down his throat.
Kampi lost his tenuous hold as a crimson torrent washed over him.
A hoof clipped her cheekbone as the deer fell to the ground under the werewolf's power. She drew back for a second to reassess the fight. As much as he may hate it he took well to the power and agility of the wolf blood in his veins.
Seeing there was no escape for their prey she darted back in. As her teeth tore into flesh she felt the primal satisfaction that came with the hot blood from a hunt running down your throat. She could feel the strength pouring back into her limbs like wildfire. There was true freedom in letting go on the night of a full moon. The moonlight and the blood, just letting go of the fear and pain.
The feeling of hunting with a pack took her back to her youth, to those tribal hunts. She looked over to make sure Kampi was eating, the meat would take the edge of the hunger and help with his pain.
Kampi struggled to keep above the tide of raw instinct he was adrift in; his mind panicked under the belief that if he didn’t fight to maintain control, he would be swallowed up by the flood and lost forever.
Desperately he vainly sought for something to avail him, but he could not find purchase on anything secure; it seemed whatever he reached out to grasp, dissolved apart.
All hope seemed lost. Exhausted from the struggle, Kampi resigned his last moments reflecting upon his life, before he was gradually pulled under.
It was sometime into his repose, that Kampi became acutely aware of himself: His shoulder no longer ached, along with the myriad of other cuts and bruises he had acquired in his fight with Brynn.
Gradually the tide calmed and became a placid pond, upon which Kampi floated, seemingly without effort or by his own will. Although wary at first, he allowed himself to be supported by this sensation; he reached out with his other senses.
He became aware of the rich tang of blood upon his tongue. The smells of a fresh kill greeted him, along with that familiar scent. And at first from a distance, the sounds of the wind, the falling of leaves, the panting of their breath, reached his ears.
Kampi opened his eyes to see Brynn staring back at him, a look of concern in her features; her lips were reddened with deer blood. Kampi felt his beard dripping with gore; embarrassed he made to wipe it away.
Brynn watched Kampi slip back to the controlled man she knew. For a moment he seemed so peaceful, the freedom of letting go seeming to overwhelm him. This is what she had hoped to show him, the wild beauty and power that could come with the beast. That it was not all some monster but the bond of the pack, the thrill of the hunt and the ability to move beyond the restraints of man, if only for a moment.
She watched him with a satisfied smile as he moved to wipe the gore from his beard. The blood coated her teeth was a harsh red hue and covered her lips in almost a mockery of a fine lady's lipstick. Her clothing was torn and plastered to her body but the wounds underneath seemed to knitted closed. The very faint glow of magic came from the lines tattooed on her back.
She cocked her head and watched him for a moment before speaking,
"How did it feel for you, letting go for a moment?"
Kampi took an unnecessary amount of time cleaning himself as he mulled over the question. He had to admit it felt good; the thrill of the hunt, the takedown of their prey and the feasting that followed, even the simple break from self imposed isolation and the outpouring of words and emotions.
At the same time Kampi couldn’t shake a nagging doubt in the back of his mind: not all things that feel good are good.
He did his best to skirt Brynn’s query and followed up with one of his own:
“Sometime following the ritual to turn her back into an elf, Shae did share some of her experiences as a therian when I inquired; about the rush it grants, and I can now say I understand firsthand some of what she was willing to relate.”
“This letting go as you call it, is it what drew you to willing having yourself turned, Brynn? I can’t imagine it was solely upon secondhand account or the draw of power like some.”
There was a hint of sadness in Kampi voice:
“Though perhaps I just don’t know people as well as I’d like to believe I do.”
Brynn eyed him for a moment, taking the time to consider how much she wanted to share before settling down next to him and leaning back against a tree.
"It wasn't too much of a jump for me since I've never been pure elf." She responded. "There has always been the blood of wolves running in the veins of my people, though it runs much stronger in the first of our kind."
She sighed deeply before continuing.
"For us this is an honour, the blood of the wild tied us to the land and made us kin with the pack. It gave us the ability to survive the long cold winters and evade the humans who hunted us. This is a way to protect my children and give them a life away from the fear I grew up with."
She pulled her tangled and bloody orange hair from her face and took a moment to tie it back into a bun.
"And I won't turn my nose up at any scrap of power if I have to go up against Michael and Abigail's father." She laughed a short and humorless laugh.
Kampi nodded at her response; he understood the cultural and ritualistic implications of her choice, himself coming from a background where wolves, bears, and other animals were revered by some.
Aside from ravens as the eyes and ears of the Allfather, and the various animals and their forms some of the gods utilized in the sagas of his people, Kampi never gave much credence to the totemic beliefs of berserkers, believing them misguided at best or nothing but a frail excuse to act uncouth and savage. And despite the knowledge of the Spear-Shaker having two pet wolves, Kampi was never willing to give it much consideration before...
The harsh tone Brynn used when speaking of this father made Kampi reticent to inquire further upon that particular subject.
“Those markings upon your back, do they also have significance amongst your folk?”
With that her laugh rang much more true.
"The paint on the face yes but the tattoos on my back? No, those would be done by Ferdinand's hand, we aren't actually big on tattoos and brands. Ferdinand draws and expends his power through patterns, he did this one for my use. It is a tool, of sorts, to help me control my emotions though it hurt like nothing I could ever imagine."
She rolled her shoulders experimentally, testing the flesh between them.
"It will help me control my anger when I need a clear head to lead and should help me during Shiny's trial."
She leaned back into the tree and looked up into the grey sky of the earliest morning hours thoughtfully.
Kampi leaned back and could not help but admire what he could see of the tattoos upon Brynn, as well as the rest of her toned body; even at rest, her elven form appeared delicate and graceful yet filled with subtle power.
Enchanted tattoos. He had surmised that some therians could not hold back their instinct by will alone. His subconscious began to mull over the possibilities.
His rapt attention was abruptly shattered upon her mention of Shiny. The memories flooded back of their last altercation and the after effects of it. His actions and words. The feelings of warm comfort with Brynn were washed away by cold anger.
Visibly agitated, Kampi abruptly stood, turned himself away from Brynn, and gazed towards the darker twilight.
“Why him? Out of all the therians who could bestow what you sought. Why him, Brynn?”
Brynn sat up to look at him,
"I have known him a long time and have gotten to see a side of him that not many others have. The side of the protector, the side that reads poetry to me in front of the fireplace."
She ran her fingers distractedly through her hair, her eyes seemed calm but her fidgeting hands said otherwise. She took a deep breath before continuing.
"I don't expect you to forgive him and I'm not trying to justify his actions but maybe you can understand. You, Ajax and Connor were a danger to us. I think every one of us had a part that feared someone we loved, someone you considered a monster, would run across you all in the woods at night and we would never see them again. The pain that comes from having someone you fought beside, a friend, despise you so much is horrible. To know they want you and your kin tortured and killed?"
She took a deep breath and leaned back into the tree for support.
"Pain over time becomes hate. Hate and fear are intense, primal emotions to have under the full moon as you can now see. Shiny is as much tiger as he is man and it may be too late to help him find a way to anchor him to the man he once was but I do not abandon my own when they need me."
She sat against the tree with her fingers unconsciously wrapped around the beads that were her holy symbol. With a small start she realized her claws had dug into her palm, breaking the skin. She gently released the beads and wiped the small amount of blood away before looking back at him.
She pulled her hair back from her face again, leaving traces of red blood through her orange hair.
Her words stung; cutting deeply into the core of his being. Like the plunging of a spear right into his heart. Kampi shut his eyes in a vain attempt to maintain composure.
The words rang too true for Kampi.
Fearing someone he loved.
Having lost friends.
For Kampi, it was the horrible memories of Amsel, and the fervent desire to never allow such a thing occur again, that drove him to become such a hateful person.
Ajax was with Kampi at Amsel, and together they fanned each others embers upon witnessing the injustices therians had done upon the innocent of Dagger Deep.
For Connor it was having his sister slain by the man she loved during the full moon, thinking they could control the beast he’d become.
And Ajax’s young apprentice Cypress came from a family that has been beset by wild therians for generations...
Pain begot hate.
And here Brynn painted them as the threats. They didn’t revile them simply because they were different. They had each witnessed events that drove them to such points. And now Kampi could see nothing but a chain of events driving events.
Kampi never advocated for the torture and killing of therians, just the rehabilitation of them, though he realized this view mattered little now. For some, they would be seen as one and the same.
Kampi and Connor had done their best to try and stem the tide of fear and hate, by meeting with the pack, helping those that no longer wished to be therian, and if the rumours were true, Connor willingly gave up his burden of the death of his sister to aid the folk of Dagger Deep, therian and otherwise, in a ritual to trap and destroy the abyssal powers once and for all.
But all such actions were in vain. The damage had already been done.
Connor was soul ripped for his efforts. Ajax and Cypress may be too far into their righteous beliefs, convincing them otherwise as a therian would only deepen their resolve. And Kampi saw how his desire to do good and protect his friends only served to drive those he deeply cared about into what he feared; Shiny was just a symptom of a cause he took up long ago.
The beast of Amsel had won; even in death, it had nearly succeeded in destroying another town of inhabitants by pitting them against each other. Perhaps above all, it broke the will of its hunter.
Kampi turned back to face Brynn; In the waning light of the full moon, the streaks of dark blood in her orange hair gave her stripes like her mate, marking her as his, further driving the hard spear-point of truth home.
Kampi turned away, holding back tears; shaky words followed, drifting off into the night.
“Thank you for everything you’ve shared with me this night, Brynn.”
“I don’t claim to know the father of those children, but your feelings are strong against him. Heed my advice and temper those feelings; before you stands an example of what happens when hate, even when wielded with the best intentions, is allowed to grow unchecked.”
He made to leave and paused.
“I hope the trial goes well for you. Know that I don’t harbour any ill will towards your chosen mate, not anymore. I see I’m the sole cause of my own circumstance.”
Brynn rose to her feet slowly. Her hands automatically moved to smooth her hair and clothing before she gave up with a sigh. The weariness from the long night started to settle deep within her bones but she still had a long while before sleep. She looked at Kampi with a tired smile.
"Thank you Kampi, I hope so too. Remember what I said about finding something or someone to hold on to when you turn, it will help keep you human."
Her ears twitched as a bird began to sing.
"I have to be going, I promised to make be home in time to make breakfast for my someones."
She grasped his arm tightly for a moment and then started to walk off into the woods, just as the first rays of sun started to rise.
Kampi watched Brynn until she disappeared amongst the trees, before releasing a long held sigh. Though the recent spoils of the hunt had alleviated his physical exhaustion, he was mentally weary and emotionally drained beyond words.
After a time, he began to make his own way back to his camp, first following the trail of their hunt, and then wake of their encounter.
When he at last arrived at his camp, dawn had fully broken above the tree line. The evening showers had long extinguished the campfire and some wildlife had managed to break into his food stores; Kampi was too tired to care and entered his tent and collapsed upon his bedroll.
Sleep soon followed, and with it, a dream.
Brynn walked slowly through the woods, her feet started to feel heavy just as the trees started to thin to reveal an oak tree on the edge of a small town. The town was small and silent, everyone was still asleep in the early morning hours. The big old tree was unremarkable in all ways saving one, a large, smooth door set into the gnarled trunk. She pulled the heavy door open and stepped through into the church of Gilwell.
The room she quickly crossed was much larger than the tree she stepped into. A pot of tea sat hot by the fire with clean cups waiting on the side. Pouring herself a cup she returned to the door and stepped back outside. This time the tiny town was gone to be replaced with a garden on the edge of a larger town. It grew up between the roots of a massive tree and a castle sat in the distance. Brynn found a spot to nestle in under an olive tree in the garden to think about the night.
It had gone better than she could have hoped she thought as she sipped her tea. She still wasn't sure how much she liked or trusted him anymore but that could be built back up over time. At least there will hopefully be peace within the pack. She leaned back into the trunk of the tree with a sigh. She would need therian allies in the days ahead and she hoped she could count Kampi as one of hers someday soon.
The sound of small feet on grass roused her as she saw three small figures running through the garden laughing. Time to go make breakfast.
A big thank you again to my coauthor Rowan for composing this with me! :D
I hope to have a followup post recounting the nature of Kampi's dream up soon.