// TLDR; Hyp finds a baby hedgehog, it stabs him, he gets a nose full of quills, he falls in love with said baby, now he needs help getting the quills out of his nose, feeding the thing, and figuring out what to do with it
[ tags ] -- It had been quite a while since Hyperion had gotten to walk through the tall pines of the Veil's dark forest on his own. Lately his days had been full of greeting newcomers, checking in on members, and assisting with the Veil's younger members. He loved all of these things, but the relentless stream of trauma, death, and injury to his Clanmates had emotionally exhausted him. He couldn't imagine how Ver, Riptide, Adara, and Junepaw all felt. It seemed like the five of them were barely keeping things together some days. But today, Hyperion had made sure to schedule some alone time to enjoy the forest, and so far it had been nothing but peaceful.
Suddenly a shuffling sound in the underbrush caught the tiger's attention. He thought he'd been alone out here, but perhaps a piece of prey hadn't heard him coming? The rumble in his stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten much today, and so perhaps a mouse or squirrel would do him well. Dropping into an easy hunter's crouch, the tiger stalked closer to the brush where the noise had come from, narrowing his eyes until he could see four little legs moving over dead leaves. Yes, some kind of animal was lurking there. Closer and closer he crept until he was about to pounce. Then, like magic, the brush parted and out scurried a tiny hedgehog.
Its eyes widened when it saw the massive predator crouched before it, bristling up until quills stuck out from all angles in sharp armor. But the hedgehog was moving too quickly to stop itself, and it collided with Hyperion's broad nose. A roar escaped the tiger as what felt like a hundred red-hot pokers jabbed his sensitive extremity, filling his muzzle with blood and quills. He jerked his head up, trying to avoid smacking the hedgehog as he did so. "What in the world?" he managed to growl, pawing at his pained nostrils with one massive paw. Where had the hedgehog come from?
Looking down, he saw that it remained frozen near his paws, quivering, probably in too much shock to run away. It was just a baby, he realized, barely old enough to have hardened quills. It was kind of cute, he noticed as he blinked through tears of pain. And it was all alone. Reaching out with his emotions, he sensed the feelings of fear, hunger, and loneliness surrounding the child. Its mother had abandoned it, leaving it to fend for itself here in the Veil's massive forest. Sorrow flooded his system as he looked down at the little helpless thing. He closed his eyes briefly, sending warmth, safety, and calm to the hedgehog, hoping it would relax its quills. It didn't take much to work on such a little creature, and soon it was curled up against his paw, its quivering stopped and replaced with a need for touch, for comfort.
He couldn't just leave it here, right? He had to take it back to camp, feed it, make sure it was okay. Oh boy, the others were going to have a field day with this. Sighing, he scooped up the hedgehog in his paw and began his awkward three-legged journey back to camp, nostrils still full of quills. He'd need some help getting those out. Luckily it wasn't a far walk, and the tiger quickly found himself back in the confines of the Veil's camp. "Hey, could anybody come help me get these things out of my nose?" he called, setting the baby down gently on the earth in front of him. "And, uh... bring whatever food a baby hedgehog might eat? Maybe some bugs or something?" Yikes.
pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light.