Omniprescent, in a sense. But he was only interested in the affairs of the Thunderlands. He heard cries of pain, of oppression, cries that were not meant to be those attributed to a Clan of tenacity and pride. He had left his own earthly form down here, and he gave up his morality for eternal peace. He had to loosen his earthly chain to achieve this, but still, his powers were bounded to his soul. His body lay underground somewhere, but his soul and conscious was immortal.

    Some may not believe it. Some may think it was an accidental freak of nature. But for some, it may help foster hope, to think that this is proof that their deceased former leader is watching over them and blessing their cause.

    There was a Sanguine Ruiner of ordinary rank about to offer a still-alive ThunderClanner as an offering to the Red God. Just as the blood of the Thunderlander was about to spill from the claws and knives of this tabby Sanguine Ruiner, a flash of lighting struck the Ruiner in pure daylight. The electricity stunned it and left him dead on the ground. The Thunderlander was able to get away free. To any who happened to see this, there was another flash, where the lightning appeared to form the figure of a German shepherd standing tall and proud. On the ground, there was a mark etched next to the Ruiner, the emblem of the Thunderlands, a lightning strike and an eagle.

    Deutschland had always hated such barbarous and uncivilized practices. If he could prevent it and shake faith in the red god, he would have been pleased to do so.

    He caught his image in the reflection of a pool and was shocked at how unfamiliar he looked.

    For a long time Deutschland had avoided looking at himself. He could feel himself growing more feeble every day, but despite being at the arsenal of all the medicine the Thunderlands had to offer, he could not find it in himself to heal himself.

    When he looked at his reflection, he could see the remnants of his breeding. The blockiness of his father’s Soviet East German was prevalent in his face. Deutschland was small, but he was compact. Though he lost weight, he could still see where the burly muscle had made an impact. His mother’s Americanized West German showed in the softness of his fur and pigment. Deutschland was well aware bloodline was only a small part of one’s character, but this was the thing that saved him.

    Social connection couldn’t have been his saviour. He had very strained relations with the current living population of the Thunderlands, or to say properly, what was left of it. The Thunderlands had felt more like an apocalyptic wasteland than a functioning society. Deutschland took advantage of the peace and quiet to gather himself.

    He started to eat well and train again. He would chuckle quietly to himself every time he got up at the break of dawn to travel to his homemade training course. Those who knew Deutschland well were aware of the fact he had been a stubborn and no-nonsense trainer. It had been his life, until his life was ruined by politics. He imagined seeing Captain there, and other days Feliciano.

    By the end of December, the shine returned to his coat and eyes, his pelt no longer hung from a skeletal frame. His nose no longer ran as dry as the Sahara. Deutschland had learned quickly that life in this world was brief but he had been one of the lucky ones. He had outlived nearly all of his Thunderlandic comrades as well as his foreign friends. Not many could boast of a long life filled with accomplishments of love, progeny, and two leadership roles as Deutschland could.

    He also started fighting his condition and seeking treatment, something he had failed to do, because of the depressed slump it had thrown him in when he realized his fate. The seizure that Deathstroke and Artemis witnessed had not been the first; they had been happening for months and Deutschland was nearly always able to predict them and endure them alone. His guess was that his eyesight failure that had begun last year marked the beginning of his terminal condition.

    He started to forget things that he shouldn’t forget, such as names and locations of dirt places or borders. To aid his memory, Deutschland started to compose his own biography written entirely in Latin. The strict grammar of the ancient language and lack of pompous phrasing in his main source of inspiration -- Julius Caesar’s account of the Gallic Wars -- helped Deutschland come up with an honest and simple written work. It was buried thoughtfully in the territory.

    On the first day of the new year, when the sun was at its height, Deutschland set free the young capybara he had accidentally adopted under his husband Feliciano’s discretion. The rodent had been dubbed Deutschland Junior, by Feliciano of course, and it had been almost a year he raised the orphaned animal. That was much longer than Deutschland had reared any of his children. Unlike Feliciano, he left them to their own devices when they became of age, preferring to act when called upon. Deutschland genuinely did miss having children and having Junior around really offered Deutschland a way to prove he could treat something young with respect, care, and love. It was hard to make this break. Junior was the representation of Feliciano and the many children Deutschland had sired and occasionally birthed. The last link, and he was giving him away. He knew it was going to hurt.

    He had to be firm. Junior pouted and refused to leave at first. Deutschland began to feel more and more flustered as the capybara ignored his commands. He wanted it to be a clean break but the longer Junior stood there the longer the smooth tears in his heart turned into ribbons and rags. When Junior finally touched his nose to Deutschland’s chin for his goodbye and turned to disappear into the jungle, he broke down completely.

    Deutschland sobbed. He thought of everything he had gained, and everything he had lost. He felt sick to his stomach and he paced wearily, his paws teetering the border as he glanced into the unknown, wondering if Feliciano was out there.

    The German shepherd’s sobbing was broken by a hacking cough. When he opened his eyes, he caught sight of his blood glittering an angry red on the ground.

    For too long now he felt like an alien in his own Clan. Along with his own debauched sorrow, he couldn’t help but wail at the thought of leaving the Thunderlands to the devices of Deathstroke. It didn’t feel right. He hated the murderer, just as all his other rivals. What would become of everything if he left? He had always outlasted his rivals, but who knew what the future held?

    His limbs trembled and he paced pathetically, unable to walk in a straight line.

    He knew this would be his last seizure. There’s a certain feeling that one has when their life hourglass has almost ran out of sand. Deutschland had recently witnessed someone rise from the dead. He himself had died nine times, because he was fortunate enough to lead at a time when StarClan was still respected. He had been one of the last leaders to carry the nine lives tradition. He didn’t like to treat death as a common cold, something easy to bounce off of. It wasn’t honorable that way.

    A terrible pang took over his head and his jaws parted to pant heavily. Foam bubbled from his lips. He circled endlessly trying to lay down, but he couldn’t get comfortable.

    Deutschland mainly felt pain at the thought of death because he had difficulty letting go of his pleasure in life. It’s hard. Tears sprung to his eyes. As his hindquarters sunk to the ground, he watched the sun set below the horizon, painting the sky in such a beautiful fiery orange and soft pink. It gave him some courage. It reminded him of Feliciano. How he missed him.

    “Ich liebe dich.” He whispered.

    Then he collapsed and fell into a seizure. He couldn’t see anything anymore.

    He was all alone.

    This was it. He was scared. He felt that he deserved it, after all the hurt he had caused to others on account of his own pride. So selfish, he was doomed to die alone, after all his friends had passed and after living so long, avoiding repercussions of his actions.

    Though his senses were fading and flickering, he thought he heard voices calling to him. They were soft and melodic voices, they sounded like his children, the two stillborn kittens, Eleanora and Elise. “Get rid of your fear, twice leader and creator of the Thunderlands name. Who are you really?”

    His body writhed and he must be in pain, but he couldn’t feel anything. He couldn’t speak, however much he wanted to establish a personal connection with his daughters. God, his heart hurt. It swelled and he couldn’t bear it.

    “Your hate and your self-pity, your lust and your pride. Leave them all here with your earthly form. It’s not fitting for what happens next.”

    Deutschland struggled, desperately trying to catch his redemption before his last breath left him. It was so hard to lay down these selfish feelings. The burden of his vices was crippling and he thought he felt something like fire burn threateningly under his paws. He had always been so selfish. His beautiful stillborn daughters, staring him down now so sternly, they were completely innocent and good. He felt like a monster when placed so close to them.

    He almost gave up.

    But he wanted this. He wanted to feel whole again. The words, he could not speak them with his tongue, but his heart spoke of love, humility, forgiveness and repentance. He laid down his darkened path as an offering. He knew he had done wrong, and he regretted it. Then, he forgot about the Thunderlands.

    What a pitiful thing political power and honor was compared to the happiness of the afterlife.

    “Come home, father.” They told him now with joy in their words. Deutschland did not cling to life for a moment longer and fell into what he could describe was only eternal bliss.

    His body lay on the border. To the untrained eye perhaps, it would have seemed like he died peacefully, no blood or wound marks were seen and his foam had dried up. The sun had set by the time Deutschland took his last breath. There was no moon, but his liver pelt was bathed in the gentle light of a new constellation of stars ...


    Author Notes | I had been thinking of Deutschland’s death for a while, but only recently gathered the courage for it. I knew I had to give him a proper send off, Deutschland was always terrified of “rotting away into the unknown” of inactivity. So, here it is!

    Deutschland’s illness was unknown, though it was likely some tumor or cancer of the brain. He dies during a seizure. I always thought I wanted him to die in a hero’s glory, like in battle, or defending someone. However much I liked that idea, it just didn’t seem right. His death was inspired by my childhood dog of 15 years who died this summer. She was a great inspiration for Deutschland’s more “dog”/”animal” character so I also wanted to honor her in some way in Deutschland’s final moments.

    Dante Alighieri’s last chapters in Purgatorio also was a huge inspiration for Deutschland’s final moments and redemption arc.

    The title comes from the 1952 song that my dear friend recommended to me -- Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart

    I might actually write the autobiography that Deutschland made (in English of course) I’m not sure yet

    It’s been a wild ride and I don't think I would have stuck around for so long if it weren’t for Deutschland. He matured as I matured throughout highschool and for that reason I've grown attached to him despite making him toe the line between good and evil.

    I’ve met a lot of good people and spent a good time here. For that, I am thankful and so lucky to be a part of such a great Thunder community. Deutschland might appear on other sites as AU versions of this version, but I plan for this to be his send off and my break with Feralfront’s main game. Thank you all for everything!

    Love, Felibri

    (and Deutschland)

    There was this curse of healers in ThunderClan. None of them stuck around for too long. There were many healers who had served under him when he was a leader. He could remember most of them, but only if he saw them. Healing was a dying art and Deutschland was struggling to find a suitable successor.

    These were the thoughts going through Deutschland’s head as he caught Bramblemask’s scent at the border. It was faint, barely recognizable, but he knew it was someone who lived in the Thunderlands before and might have been a sort of medicine cat.

    The German Shepherd paused, tipping his head to the side. He had the air of a confused old man, like he was trying to figure out if he had seen Bramblemask before. He could never forget a face. Why was he drawing a blank now?

    “Ah, Librarynaps. It’s so nice to see you again. It’s been a while.” Deutschland raised his tail and offered a hesitant wag.

    It wasn't often that Deutschland took it upon himself to go beyond the camp's borders. He felt rather lonely as well, as most of the people he had grew up with in ThunderClan were missing or dead. The German shepherd kept to himself, and while he was certainly not the oldest Thunderlander around, he had been here the longest in terms of consecutive years. Hardened loyalty was what kept him around, though his active participation in Clan life had declined significantly.

    He noticed the tabby's scent and discreetly began tracking it because the way that this particular stranger seemed lost was a bit of a red flag to him. He didn't doubt that their enemies might send spies, even though he personally thought spies were a waste of resources. When Deutschland realized that his target stopped, he stopped too and hid himself in the jungle foliage for a moment, watching her carefully. When he finally decided she wasn't a danger, he stepped out and shifted his position so he wasn't downwind. "Hello. Deutschland, medic of the Thunderlands. Can I help you?" He began in a rather professional voice.

    /i remember afternoon, or at least, some character like her back in the day! i used to play skydreamer! i don't know if you know/remember her, but it's so nice to see the old old characters around again!

    A blind dog would have been able to tell that Deathstroke would become second in command. It was inevitable and the only option. There had been nobody around long enough or continued their activity long enough except for Deathstroke to be promoted to such a position. This was why Deutschland was not surprised and made no outward emotion when the wolf's name was called.

    Even though he recognized the necessity of it, his blood still boiled at the very idea that he would have to bow down to his child's murderer's orders if something happened to Feliks. He did not care if Feliks was mated to his deputy, he had done the same with Feliciano, it was more of personal dislike and as he carefully watched Deathstroke with hazed eyes, who was saying and doing things Deutschland had never thought he would see Deathstroke do. He was either the greatest manipulator or really had become much too soft and unaware -- if he was really that surprised.A

    Deutschland was in no position to argue. Fortune had not been kind to him lately. As he glanced around at the other ThunderClanners, he knew protest would be futile and perhaps would stir unneeded drama. They were too young to know. Besides, he didn't want to ruin the aura for the other promotees, people he generally liked. "Congratulations." He rasped. The other things were not worth noting, he agreed with the thinning of ranks and it was obvious holidays were approaching.

    Deutschland was only glad his poor health and unusually long seizure was not worthy of noting or that Feliks was asking him to step down, take a break, or appoint someone else. He was fine.

    The quiet voices seemed to do well to calm him down and make him realize he wasn't living in his past. His tongue flickered over his jaws to catch the remaining foam and saliva distorting his appearance. He allowed himself to relax, his bony shoulders clearly showing through his ragged golden coat as he lowered his head to let out a deep breath of air. "I'm fine, I'm fine." He muttered angrily, slowly rising to his feet again. Much as he disliked Deathstroke, there was nothing wrong in what he was doing now. Time could only tell how the old dog would deal with it later.

    "I just tripped. I'm fine." For his whole life he had been a perfect specimen of health. Deutschland had taken care of his body so well that it just might have well seemed excessive. He had borne a sort of regal and noble posture -- though it could be argued that his personality was not quite as noble and regal.

    He could not bear the thought of losing his intellect.

    The eastern German shepherd fixed his eyes on Artemis, realizing that her pelt was much lighter than Fragilepast's and that she did not have those hellish horns encircling her head. "This is quite the introduction, isn't it? I'm ... sorry."

    He thought he could hear voices. He wasn't sure. The German shepherd finally stilled and some resemblance of humanity returned to his wild eyes. He lay panting for a good few heartbeats. The seizure itself had lasted almost six minutes. Abruptly he got up, his entire body shuddering and protesting the immediate recovery. He slipped on the ground because of his sweat-slicked paw pads and fell once, his chin slamming painfully against the ground, but he got up again. His hackles rose as he struggled to remember the faces of the two Clanmates who were there while he was seizing. His lips pulled back into a snarl. He didn't mean it; he was confused, and instinct screamed at him to not make himself look weak in the presence of animals larger and healthier than he was. For a moment, the figure of Artemis looked like the figure of his old rival Fragilepast who was also a big cat.

    "Traitor!" He barked, stepping backward and nearly losing himself when he saw Deathstroke. "Traitor!" He echoed. The German shepherd spun around restlessly, the scent of aggressive fear clinging to his coat. The Thunderlandic elder looked quite distraught and unaware of his surroundings. He finally sunk down into a seated position, his body still stiff with tension.

    Happiness was an idea that many philosophers had tried to pin down. If Deutschland wasn’t so farsighted now, or if he hadn’t had to abandon every personal library project due to moving or severe weather, he would have liked to spend the rest of his days reading these books. But he was alone, for most of the time, with only his own thoughts to entertain him.

    Deutschland supposed he was at the age where a midlife crisis would occur, or perhaps he was even older than that. He had difficulty figuring out his purpose now. It had seemed so easy back then, when he was younger and full of lust and pride. Now he felt himself grow sick with the smell of mint, but he sorted and cared for plants because they kept him going.

    Winter’s icy breath was nipping at his back, and he knew how ill-prepared he was for it. It’d be a miracle if he survived through this season without any severe repercussions. He had lost a significant amount of muscle mass. He hated looking at himself in puddles.

    Even if he could turn back time, where could he go? He didn’t want to be his dumb two-year old self with a basic grasp of the English language, and he didn’t want to return to his years of reign as the Thunderlands’ leader. He thought of all he had done. The only thing he could smile about was how he christened ThunderClan as the Thunderlands. And if he concentrated hard enough, he could almost imagine Feliciano was right here in front of him, with him every step of the way, always saying something nice to keep him getting up in the morning and drilling his mind with medicine. It was his home, even if he couldn’t find happiness.

    Because, that’s what loyalty is about, isn’t it?

    He was preparing a mixture for the newcomer Ko, he had forgotten the name already, but he knew the smell because who can forget the stench of Sanguine Ruins? He was halfway across camp when he just stopped, dropped his materials and started salivating. His heart pounded quickly in his chest, but he knew what was happening. He just was not expecting it to happen in public. He didn’t want it to happen in public. The German shepherd collapsed and his body fell into a violent spasm, his legs paddling as if they were treading water. It likely looked terrifying to any young passerby.

    As his blue eyes rolled to the back of his head, he couldn’t feel anything and he wondered if it would ever stop.

    Ah, that's right. He hadn't said anything about what the herb was for. Realizing that, he was a bit surprised that the newcomer had taken to it so easily. Though, he could tell the taste was unpleasant, and he made a mental note to try to blend it in with tea for the next dose. "It liquifies your insides and makes you vomit them all up so we can sacrifice your hollowed husk of a body to our Thunder God."

    Probably wasn't the best thing to say to the wolf sobbing at their border moments prior. He knew the practicality of medicine, he never claimed to be a therapist. He wasn't even really trying to be funny, more like a blunt, sharp-witted comment that was meant to poke at the spy. The dog's tongue lolled from his mouth, still bitten and torn, healing from his torture with Ver, but it had healed enough so he could talk almost normally now. He had a bit of a lisp that he was struggling to get rid of.

    "Just kidding, kid. It's going to help calm your nerves. I'll mix it with some tea next time so it won't be so bitter. My apologies, I didn't know we were going to have refugees today. Nothing much goes on here, it'll be nice to have you around. My name's Deutsch, by the way." Even though this wolf was young, he wasn't exactly a child, but having recently turned seven years of age, that verbal tic of calling people "kid" was not going to go away. He completely ignored Deathstroke's comment, as expected of him, being the selfish person he was.

    Deutschland hated theocracies. Religion was fine, and Deutschland actually believed in some higher, eternal good which he called a "god" but he had never seen this god, he had never attributed natural causes to this god, or made sacrifices. "I didn't know th Sanguine Ruins decided to return to such ... barbaric customs." A step backward in progress, honestly. But history was not a story of progress, nor was it was recurring cycle of events. Deutschland liked to believe history was in constant flux and everyone had to be on their toes, ready for whatever fortune would fling at them.

    Being the stubborn idiot he was, he did feel a grudging pain hearing himself being passed over for who to think of for medicine. He was still around, though he hadn't been seen since the medic gathering, mostly because there was nothing for him to do here and he did not particularly like coming out into the public eye. He guessed his sluggish inactivity could be at fault.

    The skinny eastern German shepherd shouldered his way through to get a better look at their newest arrival. He was very still for many heartbeats, his eerily blue eyes fixed on the "victim". After what might seem like hours, he finally offered the kid a thyme leaf. "Eat that. I'm going to keep an eye on you, because for the full effect to work, you should take it in daily doses." He couldn't really sense any open wounds, but the newcomer looked roughed up, definitely. He was much too shaken up for Deutschland to get any information out of him, but he wondered just how this little guy had managed to get away with dragons and lions at the frontlines of the Sanguine Ruins.

    Poor Thunderlands. He loved the place, but it was suffering from an ailment he could not fix with medicine. No, it was being ruined by laziness, inactivity, and the fact that his leader's mate was there. The German shepherd's hackles rose at the thought of the assassin wolf, but he forced his fur to lie flat for the peaceful aura he'd have to take for the medic's meeting.

    He remembered how Wilhelma made these shortly after she found Deutschland captured in the Sanguine Ruins. These things never bore much fruit, but he had entertainment in watching medics bring politics and fear into the gathering. Deutschland had no fear as he approached the group, perhaps a little too confident in his medical immunity, as a weathered, skinny German shepherd. "I assume ... punishments will be put into place ... for those who break peace."

    He spoke very slowly, because his tongue was still healing from his recent bout with Ver in the Sanguine Ruins. The Thunderlander's farsighted, stony blue gaze briefly rested on Renaissance, not because he thought she was a threat, but he could pick up a bit of discomfort from the lioness. She carried a very different scent, one he could not recognize. Hi

    “Y-ya, it is ... me.” Deutschland spoke clearly and deliberately, since he was still recovering from his tongue injury. These were the first spoken words in a while so he was trying his best. The German shepherd padded over to sit down, waiting for the stranger to speak.

    /a very rushed post so i don’t forget about this thread, thanks for the invitation!

    Poor thing, to be found first by someone who cannot find an ounce of pity in his heart for the one who has died. So the rumors were true. The German shepherd humbly sat down next to the dead body of the wolf, his bony haunches shivering as he sat. He gazed over Deathstroke's form with a calculative look brewing in his eyes. Deathstroke did not seem like one to be killed easily, and he didn't seem like the one to give up his life in sacrifice, unless there was a clue missing for Deutschland to pick up on. He doubted Deathstroke would have used some sort of cunning maneuver to purposefully get himself killed. This, to Deutschland, seemed most likely, if it were not for the fact that Deutschland did not think highly of Deathstroke's strategic intelligence. No, he must have been killed accidentally. Whoever had done it must have been experienced.

    As he continued his rambling musing, he noticed the note tucked under Deathstroke's paw and the truth became only slightly clearer. Deutschland struggled to read with his farsightedness, but he did and he huffed in disbelief. Who in their right mind would let a child attend a torture? Imperialpaw had been at his, he could not understand why the Ruiners claimed moral high ground for the protection of their apprentices, but allowed them to witness torture and murder in the public square of their Clan.

    He finally decided to let go of his hypothesizing and inspected the body as if performing an autopsy. A torn throat, whoever had done this was quite deliberate, but Deutschland had seen and been subject to tortures and deaths much worse than this. Deathstroke had it fine, considering Deutschland can vividly remember when he had his spine torn out of his body once.

    He can't speak, so he sits there in silence, waiting for people who actually cared about the dead wolf to come and take him. Deutschland just didn't see himself worthy enough to bring Deathstroke's body for burial, but he'd stay here for as long as needed. I wonder how much time will pass before he returns. Death was a funny, fickle thing, and he could never trust it. Not after he saw Sam again with his own eyes.

    It did not take too long for Deutschland to show up at the borders. Being rendered mute for however long his recovery would last, if it would even recover, that is, perhaps made him more reclusive than usual. He recognized Imperialpaw's voice, however, and he approached cautiously. He didn't want to be caught for a fool. If he had been observing correctly, this was Ver's son.

    Geralt beat him too it and Deutschland watched carefully with a ruffling pelt. Perhaps he was proceeding too impetuously, but when Geralt started to yell at them, the dog shot forward and aimed to bump his head into the wolf's shoulder, trying to get the younger canine's attention. He shook his head vigorously, wishing there was a way he could explain that Imperialpaw had, in some ways, shared his philosophy.

    Deutschland did not look much different from when he had left the Sanguine Ruins. It'd take a lot more effort to fatten his bones for the wintering months and although his muzzle was wrapped in bandages, his mouth occasionally dripped drops of scarlet liquid. He stared at Imperialpaw with his ears erect and his brow furrowed. To show weakness, even in front of an enemy member who might have some amnesty toward him, was dangerous. He could not speak, of course, but there seemed to be a flash of something that could be called admiration or gratitude in his blue eyes.

    A twitch of his ears betrayed his rude interest in Deathstroke's death. Unlike the others, he had no favorable connection with the wolf, but he hadn't known he had died. He was too busy getting his tongue bitten. The Muses must have had some pity for him, because if he were able to speak coherently, it certainly would have been more difficult to mask his controversial opinion of Deathstroke's death. For now all he could do was act stronger than he really was.

    Unfortunately for Deutschland, Samuel must have returned either when he was in his sulking periods or during his capture. The liver-furred shepherd dog nearly had a heart attack hearing Sam's voice, thinking he must have died and went to the afterlife. No. He had looked into those eyes as Sam died.

    Deutschland tensed and his body was seized in a short spasm. He struggled to get up, but the weakness in his marrow and muscle due to lack of nutrition made him slide back down and he stared up at Sam with a widened blue eye. He wasn't dead. The medic sputtered, blood bubbling from his lips as he took in the sight of his old friend. His features relaxed into a more comforting demeanor. He struggled to speak the name of his captor. "V ... Veh ... Vuh ... Er." He would have wanted to say hello, but even getting a one syllable word out without tripping up was hard enough.

    Unlike his political rivals who often vented their resentment of him on his children, he cannot find it in himself to hate Deathstroke and Feliks' son for what they had done. Children were innocent of their parentage and as far as he knew, nobody really chose who they were born to. He only glanced away, trying to calm his heaving crying fit. He can't act like this in front of people. He closed his eyes tightly and sniffled. His broad ears, crisscrossed with scars, fell flat against his head. At least the blood covered whatever grey hair he might have been growing on his muzzle.

    He didn't answer Geralt for a long time, mainly because he couldn't. He knew the mouth healed quickly out of any other body part. He'd have to try speaking again in about a week. It should take half a month to heal ... but could he wait that long? He had never realized how precious his tongue was to him, his method of rhetoric and taunt had been taken from him by Ver. This was worse than losing his eyesight.

    He shakily slid down to lay on his elbows, shaking like an old dog and muffling his cries. If he could walk, he didn't want to take another step. His chin fell to the floor and he tilted his head, opening his jaws and letting his wounded tongue loll uselessly from his mouth. A puddle of blood soon followed, showing Geralt the reason for his muteness. He refused to make eye contact.

    Ten days. Ten days since he had set foot in the Thunderlands. It was also ten days without a proper meal. He could hardly believe he had the strength to cross the desert and river to get to the jungle. Perhaps it was something programmed in his nature. He was resilient, but sometimes he wished he was not. He didn't expect anyone to have gone after him. Unlike a traditional capture, there was no signs of blood or struggle on the territory, because he had chased Ver off when she trespassed and he hadn't been seen since.

    His mouth was caked with dried blood. His tongue had been mauled. He could feel it, it was still there, but it hurt to move it or even talk. It had stopped gushing, but every once in a while he'd see a drop of freshly red liquid drip from his muzzle. The tops of the jungle were in sight now, but he collapsed. His sharp bony shoulders jutted out from his ragged fur. For a moment, everything seemed right. His vision blurred at the edges and his body began to relax. Ver's final words rung his his head: Go cry to your Feliks.

    He couldn't. The amount of betrayal Deutschland had suffered when his leader had let Deathstroke into the Clan was immeasurable and he was unsure if it could ever be fixed. In fact, his recent experience in the Sanguine Ruins had cemented this feeling, leaving him irate for whom he used to call his friend. He wasn't Feliks'. He was Feliciano's, no matter how long he waited his heart out for his mate to return even just for a moment.

    He only opened his eyes to become startled at the sight of two small, shining figures. Both were female kittens and they smiled at him gently. His ears pulled back, wondering if they were part of the troublesome ghosts that had been haunting the Thunderlands. One of the kittens mewled, "Un po' di piu, padre. Dopo questo sei libero." 1

    He can only catch a few words, but he immediately recognized these ghosts. They weren't run of the mill trickster spirits, they were his daughters who died at birth, Eleanora and Elise. He found the strength to get up and he hobbled forward in determination. When he looked down at his paws for the guides, he saw that the spirits of his daughters vanished and for a moment, he was unsure if he had even really seen and heard them.

    The German shepherd staggered into the camp, feeling the blood drip from his mouth again. He needed to clean himself up. He needed to eat. He needed to tend to his wound. But he did none of that. He sagged down into a slouching position and sobbed his heart out, his throat making awful gurgling noises because of his wounded tongue.


    1 "A little more, father. After this you are free."

    His life drags on, and he wishes he was one of the lucky ones who have disappeared into oblivion. If his life had ended sooner, maybe he could have left a better person. But here he was, scrabbling and struggling to pick up the broken pieces of his life. In this era, it's not his fault. He's not suffering for what he's done, only for what he has failed to do. Even so, the fact that his symbol of speech and rhetoric has been taken from him, perhaps forever ... well, it hurts. It hurts mostly because ...

    It's not your fault. It's Feliks.

    Deutschland heard Ver give chase and something in his chest sinks as he pushes his muscles to the limit, his brow furrowing in pain as he tries to make it. His extra boost of strength helps the blow that Ver lands on him be weaker than it might have intentionally been. The German shepherd tripped over his paws and slammed his chin against the ground painfully. His bony shoulders shook as he struggled to lift himself up. He turns his bloodied face to his tormentor and growls. Lightning flashes across his pelt. His throat gurgles, trying to say something, but then he realized that he couldn't. With a final glare of this will always be remembered, he turned back around and ran, so they wouldn't see the tears that sprung to his eyes. Tears sprung from hatred. It was not even hatred for Ver, but for the miserable lot he had been given and for his own leader.