Christmas Crowds

Gathering Circle
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What a sweet place you have wandered to. The forest trees here are scattered across a soft meadow of heather and wildflowers, and the sun dapples the ground through the leaves above. This is a wide section of earth, and it seems to be a gathering place – indeed, there is a ring of stones in one side of the open clearing where it seems fires have been built over many nights. To the south, a worn path leads to the Caldron Pool and the waterfall that feeds it. You can also see a path leading west toward the cliff-face. To the east the path leads into the deeper forests of Lantern Waste.
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You can go: Clearing <N>, Into Lantern Waste <E>, Caldron Pool <S>, Base of the Cliffs <W>
Contents: A beaver wearing a fishing creel and a sturdy leather pack; A faun with brown curly hair (Tumnus); A son of adam with dark hair and sparkling  green eyes (Kiyon); A wolf large and intimidating in appearance (Nevarre); A wolf with a snow-white coat and golden eyes (Eirwyn); A wolf with grizzled coat and emerald eyes (Glyn); A wolf with half of a left ear (Virika); A wolf with scars over both of his eyes (Drune); An unicorn stallion with a marred flank (Petraverd); and An unicorn with curious and mischievous green eyes (Peridot).

Petraverd mumbles “… enjoyed … A …”, to Peridot.

Glyn is also drawn to look up at the sky as the trees spread. His fur stands on end.

Kiyon sits, staring ahead with a far off look in his eyes, still in awe but seemingly unaware of the current happenings.

Nevarre gets up as the festivities begin to draw to a close. Sensing that everything is alright, he begins to walk in the direction of the cliffs, and evident smile on his face.

Nevarre trots west.

The humming diminishes until it comes from only one instrument, and finally none. Tumnus plays an echo of his starting melody to the slow beat of the drum.

A beaver wearing a fishing creel and a sturdy leather pack carries on dancing for a few minutes after the last notes fade, a broad and easy smile on his muzzle. At last, however, his eyes refocus, and he notices everyone standing still once more. Coming to a halt, he clears his throat and moves over to stand with Tumnus.

Peridot remains standing still next to Petraverd, her wind coming back to her. She bobs her head to the band in appreciation.  “Well done!” she cheers once the music has come to an end.

Petraverd lifts his head skyward, closing his eyes for a moment and savoring the breeze once more, letting out a small, contented sigh.

Glyn tilts his head as he notices Nevarre leave the circle.

Tumnus opens his eyes and puts away his flute, pushing himself up off the stone and picking up his umbrella. “Now I find that I’d like a hot drink,” he mentions to his approaching friend.

Eirwyn smiles as the dance ends. Her smile fades when she notices Nevarre leaving the Circle and heading in the direction of the cliffs.

Kiyon stands and moves over to Petraverd and Peridot, smiling as he arrives nearby, “You two are quite the dancers.”

Caileana pads in quietly from the west, passing Nevarre as she does so. Her ears tip back as she surveys the crowd, looking not surprised but vaguely overwhelmed. She quickly seeks out fellow wolves and pads towards Glyn after a pause.

A beaver wearing a fishing creel and a sturdy leather pack simply grins up the faun, puffing but looking quite content. “Just my thinking! We’ll all be glad of the warmth in a few minutes, I’m sure.”

Tumnus opens his umbrella, “Shall we, then?”

Peridot dips her head humbly at Kiyon’s praise, her eartips blushing.

A beaver wearing a fishing creel and a sturdy leather pack positions himself just under the edge of Tumnus umbrella. “After you, friend.”

Kiyon grins at Petraverd’s comment and replies, “I shall have to learn some dancing myself, if I am to be any match for you in our next spar.”

Tumnus heads back toward the lamp-post.

Glyn’s tail twitches upward as he notices Caileana’s approach. A smile spreads across his muzzle. “Good evening, Scout. Decided to join in the festivities?”

Caileana gives him a small but sincere smile. “Hey Scout,” she nods and adds, “Seems so.” She settles onto her haunches beside Glyn.

Petraverd chuckles a bit, flicking an ear. “Never know, it might come in handy.”

Drune stays on the outer edge of the festivities, watching quietly, the faintest of smiles crossing his face. His expression remains rather distant though.

Peridot glances southward, toward where the Cail would be.

Glyn leans in a bit closer, dipping his head. “I’m afraid you missed the dryads, but the night is still young.”

Kiyon notices Peridot’s gaze shifting and politely excuses himself from the two unicorns. He moves to Drune’s side, “It is good to see you again, Drune. Did you enjoy the dance?”

Petraverd follows his mate’s glance, then looks back to her with his head tilted slightly.

Caileana’s ears perk and then fold. “Did I?” She looks disappointed.

Drune blinks, being taken from his thoughts and looking to Kiyon. “Indeed… it was quite the spectacle. I have never seen anything like it… ” he pauses thoughtfully. “And yourself?”

Peridot comes back to the present to see her mate staring at her.  “Oh.”  Her eartips blush.  “I was just wondering if Quicksilver was still asleep or if he was awake and wondering where we had gone.”

Eirwyn looks around the Gathering Circle at those left. She makes her way over to her packmates and says to them, “I’m going to check on Nevarre. Enjoy the rest of the festivities.” She then makes her way west in the direction of the cliffs.

Glyn nods, looking apologetic for some reason. “The Curiate just led us in a dance, and the dryads joined for a space. I’m surprised you didn’t hear. I’m sure the drumming could be heard from miles off.”

Petraverd ahs, nudging Peridot. “I’m sure he’s fine… but if you want to go check on him, it couldn’t hurt.”

Caileana looks embarassed. “I was patrolling the northern border,” she murmurs softly. “Took on an extra patrol so one of the other Scouts could join the festivities early.” She bows her head to Eirwyn as she goes.

Peridot nods and bumps Petraverd.  “Then I’ll see you later.  You danced well. In time, I could see Quicksilver joining us in the circle.”

Glyn’s ears splay. “Oh… I see. That was good of you.”

Petraverd chuckles, bumping back. “He’ll be a natural.”

Caileana hmphs and gives herself a shake. “I had my reasons.” She leans closer to Glyn, her posture giving away her weariness, and admits softly, “I was avoiding the crowds. I’m not that at ease with this many people, even if I do enjoy the festivities.”

Peridot heads south toward unicorn territory, her tail swishing as though to some internal music.

Virika watches after Eirwyn and quietly follows.

Petraverd watches his mate depart, then lets out another soft, contented sigh before he makes his way over to the Ulfden wolves.

Drune watches as the crowd clears, seemingly, save for Kiyon, lost in his own thoughts. He remains quiet for now, but observes the two wolves for a time.

Glyn says softly, “Ah, of course.” Then, in a clearer voice, “Well, I’d say you’ve picked the right time. Things have got quiet quite suddenly. And it seems like it’s mostly good friends left behind.”

Kiyon nods to Drune, “Nor have I seen such a display. It was incredible.”

Caileana stretches stiffly. “So it would seem,” she agrees. She offers Petraverd a broad smile as he approaches.

Drune chuckles “Indeed… ” he looks back to the Son of Adam. “So, what brings you to the Waste?”

Petraverd smiles as he nods toward Caileana and Glyn. “Feel like I haven’t had much of a chance to speak with you tonight. Thought I’d fix that.”

Glyn’s lip quirks upward. “Not one for dancing, myself, but you certainly appeared to be enjoying youselves. It was a great way to celebrate.”

Caileana grins faintly. “I’m only sorry I missed that sight.”

Petraverd chuckles. “Never experienced anything anywhere /near/ that before… I’m certainly not going to forget it anytime soon.”

Kiyon glances at the other wolves before continuing the conversation with Drune, “I was… hunting. Honestly, I was unaware there was an event taking place tonight and was quite surprised when I stumbled upon it.”

Drune hehs. “Quite the night to stumble upon it. Well, good nonetheless… ” he chuckles. “Were you able to finish your hunt?”

Glyn chuckles. “I don’t know. After that performance, I’m sure Petraverd and Peridot could be goaded into it again sometime.”

Petraverd flicks an ear. “I don’t think the goading would be necessary.”

Kiyon nods to Drune, “Yes. I have been practicing with my bow. I see after tonight I have much to learn but it was profitable.”

Caileana tips her head up at Petraverd at that and then chuckles. “Looks like I will get to see it then.”

Drune nods. “Dont we all… though, I am glad to see that something was gained.”

Glyn grins. “That sounds like a solemn oath to me.”

Petraverd jerks his head in an equine shrug. “Convince the dryads to do it again and I’ll gladly join in.”

Caileana just smiles.

Glyn chuckles and shakes his head, rising to his paws. “Well, the festivities seem over for tonight. I wonder if we might find Father Christmas if we had a look.”

Petraverd says, “He’s about all right, I bumped into him in one of my patrols earlier today.”

Kiyon rubs his eyes, fighting back the sleep setting in, “It has been a glorious night, and it is good to see and meet all of you. Unfortunately, I am afraid I must retire for the evening. Good night to you all, and with Aslan’s blessing, I hope to meet with you all again soon.”

Drune nods to Kiyon. “Aslan be with you.” he returns simply.

Caileana’s tail flicks several times. “I’d be up for that.”

Glyn turns to look at the Son of Adam. “Indeed, and have a safe stay, Kiyon!”

Petraverd nods. “Take care, Kiyon.”

Kiyon walks north.

Glyn gets to his paws. “What do you say, Petraverd? Have you already got a gift?”

Petraverd chuckles and nods. “Yes, I’ve had my gift from him this time around. I ‘ll let you two go and seek him out.”

Caileana follows suit and unfolds herself from the ground, waiting on Glyn.

Drune looks back towards the group. Taking a breath, he pads slowly towards the three.

Glyn turns to see Drune’s approach. He offers a friendly enough smile, explaining, “Cail and I are going to look for Father Christmas. Care to come along?”

Petraverd glances to Drune, with an amiable nod.

Caileana bows her head to Drune as he approaches.

Drune nods to the three. “I had already recived my gift… though, I wouldnt mind a bit of company. If I am not intruding of course?” he offers.

Petraverd jerks his head in a sort of shrug. “I’ve already had mine as well, so I suppose you’d have company either way, really.”

Glyn shakes his head. “You’re certainly not intruding. Perhaps we can talk more when we get back from getting our own presents.”

Caileana gives a nod. “Either way.”

Drune nods. “I suppose I shall stay with Petraverd until you both return. ”

Glyn nods and leads the way eastward.

Later:

Gathering Circle
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What a sweet place you have wandered to. The forest trees here are scattered across a soft meadow of heather and wildflowers, and the sun dapples the ground through the leaves above. This is a wide section of earth, and it seems to be a gathering place – indeed, there is a ring of stones in one side of the open clearing where it seems fires have been built over many nights. To the south, a worn path leads to the Caldron Pool and the waterfall that feeds it. You can also see a path leading west toward the cliff-face. To the east the path leads into the deeper forests of Lantern Waste.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
You can go: Clearing <N>, Into Lantern Waste <E>, Caldron Pool <S>, Base of the Cliffs <W>
Contents: A wolf with scars over both of his eyes (Drune) and An unicorn stallion with a marred flank (Petraverd).

Drune’s voice grows a bit lower. “Unceasing, all of it. I left the waste shortly after the rescue… and came home to one of my dearest friends dying mother and to Zayev, a mate. Not long after… she passed. ” he grows quiet at this, shaking his head. “We never got along too well, but I guess you never really realize what you have until it is gone. ”

Petraverd says, “Loss is inevitable, unfortunately… much as we would wish it t o be otherwise. I’ve seen my share of it, too… even blamed myself for it on occasion, and who knows whether it was justified or not, in the end. In the end, t hough? I don’t think there’s any real way to properly get over it… just to get on with it.”

Caileana pads back through the Circle some time later, packing a roast fox betwe en her teeth, a small bag jingling of coins tied around her neck. This time she’ s alone.

Drune hehs, catching the jingling sound and letting his gaze wander towards it, his gaze growing distant as he catches sight of Caileana. “Just to get on with i
t… ” he repeats slowly. “I have done just that with a great deal of my life… I just do not want to share the same amount of regret I have if another I know should pass.”

Petraverd opens his mouth to respond, then catches sight of Caileana as his glance drifts when Drune’s does. He pauses briefly, and somehow it may be interpreted that his words might not have been what there were to have been previously. “Something tells me this should be a talk for another night. Tonight’s meant for celebration… and we’ve both seen a rather rare sight this eve.” He smiles a bit. “Let it lighten you a bit. That’s what this time of year is all about, after all. Small wonder it comes at the end of the year.”

Caileana approaches on quiet paws, although not so quiet as they normally are. She looks tired. Setting the fox down, she says, “Glyn’s gone to get some rest for the night, and I don’t really want to interrupt, so I’m inclined to do the same.”

Drune looks back to Petraverd, nodding more firmly this time. “Indeed my friend, forgive me if I have at all brought you down. It was not my intention… truly, you have always been there to lend an ear, which… for me, seems to be a rather frequent. Forgive me if I have. ” Then looking over towards Caileana, he nods to her, politely.

Petraverd shakes his head toward Drune, still smiling. “You’d have to do better than that, I think. But I think giving ourselves a chance to sleep on it, so to
speak, would be the best option for when we do get to approaching the topic.” He shakes out his mane, nodding toward Caileana as well. “It’s been a pleasant night, but a long one. Perhaps some rest is in order for all of us.”

Caileana gives a nod. “Indeed so. Good night, you two. I’m sure I’ll see you both about soon.” With that, she picks up the fox again and pads west toward the cliffs slowly.

At the Base of the Western Cliffs
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You stand at the base of cliffs so tall you can only barely make out where they stop and the sky begins above you. The forest presses close against them here, making this area cool and shady. A large cave opening yawns into the side of the cliff, the path leading in tilting sharply downward and disappearing from view almost immediately. To the east, a path winds through the trees, leading to the large clearing that makes up the Gathering Circle.
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You can go: Gathering Circle <E>, North <N>, Cave <W>

Drune arrives from the east.

Caileana is settled in beside one of the trees near the cliff, the roast fox between her front paws. She gnaws at it quietly.

Drune pads slowly towards the cave entrance, his mind seemingly lost in thought when he notices Caileana. “Inclined to get some rest eh? ” he grins slightly.

Caileana mphs around a mouthful of fox, lifting her head and pricking her ears. She swallows quickly. “Pretty much,” she admits, licking her lips.

Drune hehs. “I see… ” he looks back to the cave entrance, thoughtful once more. “Thing been pretty busy around here since last I left?”

Caileana rips off a bit of meat from the carcass and shakes her head. “Nope, not really. Things have been quite quiet actually. Blessedly enough.”

Drune nods. “I’m glad to hear it… the Waste has surely deserved a time of respite, at the very least Ulfden has. ”

Caileana offers a smile. “I’m sure none of us would disagree with that.”

Drune simply nods. “How goes your training?”

Caileana pushes herself to a sitting position. “Good. I’ve been training hard since our victory, now that there’s nothing else to distract me.” She grunts softly and rolls a shoulder stiffly.

Drune grins slightly at this. “This is good news indeed. How do you feel you’re coming along?”

Caileana shrugs. “Decently well, I think. Still can’t nearly hold my own with Petraverd, but I’ve got a long way to go there. Just have to keep at it.”

Drune nods. “Good.” Then muttering something to himself, he looks off into the woods.

Drune mumbles “… … definitely become one … the … warriors … … waste… … time.”, to Drune.

Caileana’s ears twitch at the quiet words, and she tips her head to the side at him, her expression uncertain but possibly flattered. “And…you? How are things in the Woods?” She pauses. “How’s Tempest?”

Drune tils his head, sucking in a breath and not breaking his stare. “As well as can be expected… I suppose. Tempest, is well enough. She is taking the passing of her mother pretty hard, as I think all of Winterden is, especially those whom knew her pretty well. While a normal part of life, nothing feels normal about all of the pain brought with it. ” He shakes his head, raising one of his brows. “Though, I do not want to bring the night down for you either. ” He turns, smiling to her. “I have brought you many a night of drama and this night, shall not be one of those. ”

Caileana smiles faintly, pawing the fox. “We do not need to go into all that, Drune. But suffice it to say, I am the one who asked. You do not need to worry about bringing me down.” Her expression dims. “I know what it is like to lose one near to you…even a mother.”

Drune hehs. ” I suppose you do Caileana… How did you deal with it? ” he asks quietly, not looking to her.

Caileana says softly, “Not well, not for a long time. At first I threw myself into other things, into my training. I practically begged the Alpha to let me start as a tenderfoot, asking to begin to be a contributing member of the pack, as my parents had been. To make them proud, you know. And that – well, that worked for a while.”

Drune nods, listening rather intently. “And then?”

You say, “And then I had my first battle. And then there was another death, and this scar.” She motions to the long one down her side. “I was recovering in Madderholt for months. Alone, angry, wondering at the point of life if it is all so temporary, can be taken away so easily.” She pauses, glances at Drune. “It was thinking about the pack that brought me back from the edge. They are my family. They gave me something to live for when all else seemed lost. Sometimes I think you just gotta find something to keep going for, you know?”

Drune nods “Oh believe me Caileana, that much I understand. Though, a good reminder nonetheless and I thank you for it. The haunt of regret still lingers though, ah well. As I was saying, Tempest is doing fairey well, all things considered. Sadly, though, she could not make it to the Waste.”

Caileana hehs. “I think that’s anouther thing you just have to accept, regret. Because it still persists even though there was often nothing you could have done to change it. I am glad to hear Tempest is doing okay. She’s been in my thoughts a lot lately. I’m sorry to hear she couldn’t make it.”

Drune nods slowly. “Indeed, I should like to continue the conversation, if you dont mind… though, I fear that weariness shall over take me farely quickly before too long now. It was good seeing you again Caileana. ” he smiles, “Good night, Aslan be with you.”

Caileana dips her head to him. “I am around,” she says quietly. “Good night, Drune. Rest well.”