Posts by Mercy Reaver

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    [kisses u im so sorry for the late reply !!]


    Although it had taken a bit of getting used to, Mercy too found a lot of beauty in Volary Flights' territory. It was far different than what she was used to; the Whispering Pines was so muted in comparison to the vivid jungle. She very much loved her old territory, had always found comfort in its darkness and allure to its mystical attributes, but there was something special about the Sundran Jungle's boldness and variety, even if she couldn't fully appreciate its colorfulness on account of the shadowy tones she saw the world in. At least here she could still make things out in full; the Pine's incredibly dense darkness stacked atop her built-in shades would be nearly impossible to see in if it werent for the luminescent flora and fauna that populated the woods.


    It was something on her mind as she wandered that day; she often found herself comparing everything here to Shadow Veil, for better or worse. As much as she liked the jungle, Mercy would never stop missing Shadow Veil. Despite how much time had passed, it was still a bit difficult to wrap her head around the fact that she could never go back, and that no one would even seek her out anymore — they all believed she was dead. Save for Adara, given their recent reunion, and Ver. Though her search for Mercy had been fruitless, of course. Vanillasky's words were making it difficult for her to decide if she was okay with that or not.


    A sudden shout pulled her out of her thoughts. Normally Mercy tried to avoid the border, but this wasn't something she could ignore; whoever it was sounded very young. With pricked ears she made her way over, eyes widening a bit at the sight of a lone child, but she faltered when a familiar scent caught her attention. She's a Veiler. If Mercy had a nondescript appearance, she wouldn't have been worried; in no way would a child recognize her for Shadow Veil's renegade leader. But alas, her eyes were objectively striking in their uncanniness — it wouldn't surprise her in the slightest if this child told everyone about the creepy-eyed lady she'd met the moment she found her way back to the camp. Adara had agreed to keep Mercy's location a secret, but this wasn't something she could easily cover up. Wait, I can't bring her home myself! If Ver isn't at the border she'll catch my scent at some point, and then I'm dead. A pang of despair accompanied the thought. But she couldn't just leave this girl alone on the Flights' border, especially considering the fact that she'd already stepped into her line of sight. She would have to deal with the situation as it unfolded.


    "Hi there. Are you okay?" It took a lot of effort to keep the fear out of her voice, but even then she sounded a bit uncertain. "You're... you're a Shadow Veiler, right? I can smell it on you. Is anyone with you, or are you lost?"

    [im so sorry for the late reply!!]


    Fortunately for Freya, the molly had been too lost in her own thoughts to detect the presence of her leader. It was strange — she seemed to go back and forth between spacey and terribly jumpy, although her recent lethargy was certainly fueling the former. She looked up suddenly to see the other settling down before her, curiously observing the indentations she was making in the dirt.


    A jolt passed through her at the realization, and reflexively she moved to cover it with the forepaw she'd been using to draw. The shadows stuck to her face pulsed just a little bit, subtly enough to be missed by an unobservant or distracted gaze. "Freya! Hi," she greeted the woman in a startled tone, her face growing warm. For a moment she left her question unanswered, lowering her eyes and staring down at her paw as though she were willing the doodle underneath to disappear. "I- no one in particular. I just like to draw sometimes." Slowly she lifted her paw and pulled it back to her body. Did Freya know Ver? Would she recognize her in the doodle? Sometimes it felt like everyone knew Ver, and sometimes Mercy felt like she knew so little about her lover. Ex-lover?


    A mixture of embarrassment and guilt washed over her, but she tried her best not to let it show. Thank goodness her shadows provided a mask of sorts.


    "What're you doing out here?" she asked eventually, hoping to change the subject. "Just out for a walk?" It was certainly a nice day, and she could imagine she wasn't the only one who appreciated this spot.


    Freya and her sister were nothing alike, but as Mercy studied her, Nadine's sickly sweet smile popped into her head. The imagery sent another prickle of discomfort down her spine, and a sense of surrealness as well — Freya was entirely ignorant of the relationship between Nadine and herself. Everyone was. How strange it felt to be living so anonymously again, for the third time in her life. She was still trying to decide how exactly she felt about it.

    Mercy looked tentative as she approached the stranger on the border, though she'd already assessed his scent before approaching. Actually, he didn't really smell like any clan (a rogue, she presumed), but what was important was that he wasn't from the Veil. Still, it was difficult to relax; her sense of self-preservation prevented it. "Welcome to Volary Flights, then," said the molly, putting on a bit of a smile. "My name's Mercy. Ah, who's your brother? I can help you look for him." Would she know who he was? She was still re-integrating herself into the clan and wasn't entirely familiar with the newer faces, but she would certainly do her best.

    When Mercy had first been introduced to the concept of a companion animal, she'd first been skeptical of the new practice — and then worried about aquiring one of her own. So many of her HawkClan friends had found their partners long before she had, and it wasn't long before she'd started to work herself up over it and worry that she just wasn't meant to practice her beloved clan's custom. It had been a concerning thought, one she'd stressed about to no end, but ultimately she'd come to meet her sparrowhawk, Bluebell, and that had been that. There wasn't an instant "click" or connection like she'd come to expect; she and her bird had a distant relationship at first, but with time she came to feel like an extension of Mercy. Rarely did she go somewhere without Bluebell flying overhead like a shadow, keeping a constant watch. Having an avian companion was second nature to the molly now, and her youngest litter as well, for they'd received Bluebell's hatchlings.


    But she'd been forced to leave her behind in Shadow Veil the day she fled, and Mercy hadn't seen her since. It still felt like a piece of her was missing. At least she could take comfort in knowing that her family was watching over her in the Pines, but that didn't make it hurt any less when she saw her Volarian clanmates out and about with their own avians. Even as she observed Emil introducing his little lizard, she felt a pang of loss.


    "He's very cute," said the molly as she approached, looking down at the reptile with pricked ears. It was an interesting choice, given Volary Flights' culture, though his reasoning seemed sound enough and she certainly wasn't going to oppose the whims of the boy when he was doing no harm.

    [lets ignore how late this is]


    "Nice to meet you both," the molly replied. She was painfully aware of how... lethargic she sounded; this couldn't possibly be a good first impression that she was making. She wanted to be more upbeat, but while she really was glad to be back amongst her clanmates, her nerves were truly getting the better of her. Felix's question came as a bit of a relief — it gave her something to really talk about. A beat passed as she prepared an answer, but a familiar voice rang out before she could verbalize her thoughts.


    There was a sentimental note to her name as it was called, and her nerves began to dissipate as she turned to see Elowen approaching in a haste. A smile tugged at her lips and a soft purr rumbled in her throat of its own volition; there was something particularly comforting about the girl's presence and her persistent, positive attitude. As she gazed at her through shadowy eyes, listening to her speak of Gardenia's chickens, she suddenly thought of Sunpaw with an aching heart. True to his name, her old apprentice had been a ray of sunshine — he'd been the one to coax Mercy out of her shell when she first joined Shadow Veil as a nervous mess, and she'd quickly come to view him like a son. He and Elowen weren't exactly the same and she wasn't as close with the latter just yet, but the affection she held for the young molly still had an almost nostalgic quality to it. They would have gotten along well.


    "We do. We also grow herbs and fruit. You're welcome to visit whenever you'd like; the farm's on the outskirts of the territory, by the Thunderlands border," she explained. It took a bit of effort to stop herself from wrinkling her nose at the mention of their neighboring clan. Mercy had nothing against them as a whole, but she wouldn't soon forget the argument with Feliks that had pushed her to break off Shadow Veil's alliance with them, even if it had occurred months ago. "I'm sure Gardenia would appreciate the company."


    Her eyes widened as Elowen suddenly pulled her into a hug, and initially all she could do was stand there in surprise. After a moment, her muscles loosened and she deflated a bit as she raised a paw to gently rest on the girl's back. She and Gardenia were physically affectionate with one another, but there was something different — special — that came with an act like that from someone outside the family. Someone who didn't have to care about her did, and was this glad to have her back. She blinked tears out of her eyes as the pair pulled away from one another, Mercy doing so almost reluctantly.


    "I'm glad to be back," she said with a smile. "Ah, sure, food would be nice."

    This was the first meeting she'd attended in a good while. As she seated herself amongst her clanmates, Mercy had to admit that it felt nice to be involving herself like this again, even if she was only listening to some announcements; as much as she liked (and sometimes needed) solitude, there was something very comforting about being part of a clan's routine.


    She perked up a little as Vanillasky was welcomed, but at the same time it felt so surreal to hear his name fall from Freya's lips. Living alongside him still felt off, even if he'd forgiven her; she was finding it difficult to forgive herself for what had happened, and putting herself in his shoes felt impossible. She just... couldn't comprehend how he seemed so okay after everything. A small part of her whispered that it was just an act, similar to her own masquerade that led up to Barghest's assassination. She scolded herself every time the thought crossed her mind — it was an insult to her son to compare him to herself and the disgusting thing she'd done. Vanillasky was a better person, a genuine one. So was I as a kid.


    Pushing the thoughts out of her mind, Mercy refocused on Freya. A falconry show sounded interesting; it was nice to see how the clan truly embraced their avian companions. HawkClan had never taken it this far. She had no intention of attending, though. It was too dangerous.


    Despite her apprehension surrounding the clan's allies, she snapped to attention at the mention of strengthening ties with Shadow Veil and Solaris Kingdom. The Penumbra Accord instantly came to mind, with one key difference of course. Is Volary Flights replacing the Ruins? wondered the molly, almost excitedly. Maybe it was too quick of an assumption, but it was certainly the ideal. She would have to ask around.


    Mercy frowned at the mention of Rhapsody's disappearance. The two hadn't been close by any means, but Mercy had quite liked her all the same. It was a shame she'd never get the chance to get to know her better.


    She wasn't expecting her own name to be called. It was only a shout out, but that came as more of an encouragement than she'd've expected. A tentative smile tugged at her lips — but it broadened as Freya brightly invited Elowen to step up to Vice Empress. "Congratulations, Elowen, you deserve it." She'd taken a liking to the girl the moment they met; her kindness and was something Mercy wouldn't soon forget.

    She furrowed her brow at the vague and concerning response, especially as Adara broke eye contact. Immediately she felt guilty for not being around to watch over the younger molly and offer guidance during what appeared to be a strange time for her. Frankly, she didn't exactly seem like the type to be in tune with her emotions, but at the same time she seemed far more uncertain than usual. Then again, that could be due to the shock of this reunion.


    Her guilt intensified as Adara went on. The words were delivered in a flat tone, but Mercy had quickly learned that this was characteristic of her long ago. So long ago. It really felt like ages since she'd led the Veil, even though she'd fled only a couple of months prior. How different had things become in her absence? How were Calina and Riptide as leaders? How were her children doing? Charlotte and Ver? There was so much that she wanted to ask, but it almost... didn't feel appropriate. Like she'd lost the right to such information.


    "I'm so sorry," she said quietly. If Adara had assumed that of her, surely everyone else did as well. She hadn't even considered that. Her immediate reaction was relief — if the clan thought she was dead, there was no pressing reason for her to come home and confess to her crime. Shame quickly washed that away; how terrible she was for wishing grief upon her loved ones. But then again, they would feel worse if they learned about the attack. Was it kinder to let them believe she was dead, especially if Vanillasky was willing to live on Gardenia's farm with her, away from the Veil's prying eyes?


    Not that Adara would let her. What could she say? She'd been able to bribe Kira into silence, but Adara would never be tempted in such a way. She was a devoted warrior; Mercy couldn't imagine her letting this be pushed under the rug, even if she didn't reveal her treachery. "I had to leave for... very personal reasons," she hesitantly replied. Her breathing was shaky and she looked twitchy; her apprehension was overwhelmingly obvious. As much as she wanted to keep this as vague as possible, she wouldn't soon forget how angry Littleflame had been when Mercy tried to dance around the question just as she was now. Then again, as unhealthy as it probably was, Adara had always been keen on following Mercy's orders without question during her leadership. But I lost that kind of power the second I ran away. "I would've said goodbye if I could, but I... I couldn't. It was too dangerous. I shouldn't even be here right now." She paused, wondering if Adara would pry for more information. She wouldn't elaborate further if not.

    Although she still missed HawkClan's redwood forest, Mercy had come to like the Sundran Jungle quite a bit. It was always on the warmer side and it was so scenic — far more visually interesting than the Whispering Pines. Not that she had anything against her former territory, but the chance of pace was refreshing. The fact that the sun shined here was also nice; her vision would forever be swathed in darkness on account of the shadows clinging to her eyes, but it was less... opaque here than the Veil's gloomy forest.


    The Passerine Grove was her favorite part of the territory. It was lovely and quiet, save for the soothing sound of the shishi-odishi. She often came here to relax and sometimes nap, but today the molly found herself dragging her claw through the dirt and shaping a meticulous doodle. It was remniscent of a dog with pricked ears. Sighing, she added a pair of large horns, looking broody.


    FREYA RHOSYN

    Mercy hadn't taken a weekly task in a long time, but she kind of missed it. It was always interesting to see what others came up with when assigning them, and she liked feeling useful around the clan. That was especially the case at the moment after being so absent lately, and a distraction from her troubles was always welcome. "Can I please have one?" asked the molly as she padded over, staring up at Valor. It was still surreal to be living alongside him again, and she made a mental note to catch up with him in private later on.

    Mercy was absolutely not in the same boat as Pyrrhic, but she could still empathize; the two months she'd spent in the Flights felt ridiculously long and fleeting at the same time. The surreality of her circumstances made time flow strangely, but the longer she stayed the more natural it felt to be a Volarian again, especially as old faces periodically cropped up. She'd kept telling herself she would soon move on, first after a few days and then a few weeks. But she just kept growing more and more attached, to the point that she was ready to take up permanent residence on Gardenia's farm and travel back and forth between it and the Flights' camp. Living there with both her daughter and Vanillasky, easily able to hide from Shadow Veil and live peacefully under her daughter's roof, was such an attractive prospect. It seemed selfish, though, when she considered the rest of her children — and Charlotte and Ver. How worried they must've been for her, and now for Nilla as well. She knew that returning to them and taking responsibility for what she'd done was the right decision, but it was a terrifying one as well because she knew she would never be looked at the same again. Regardless of whether or not it had been intentional, she'd nearly killed her own son and that wasn't something that could be so easily forgotten, even if Nilla had forgiven her. The indecision was paralyzing — stay or go? She wanted both, and as such found herself constantly trying to distract herself from mulling it over; she always felt sick after focusing on it for too long.


    Fortunately, the sight of a familiar clanmate provided a good opportunity for a distraction. She didn't know Pyrrhic-Sang well at all, having only interacted with him once before, but he'd been welcoming toward Nilla and that was enough for her to like him off the bat. "What's all this?" asked the molly as she approached, gazing curiously down at the supplies he'd laid out.

    She jumped as a harsh voice suddenly broke the silence of the night, and with a fierce jolt she looked up to see a gleaming knife pointed in her direction. Her shaded gaze traveled up the blade, past the hilt, and ultimately rested on the wielder's face. All the breath escaped her as recognition illuminated her expression — she practically forgot how to speak. Her throat dried up and tightened, and the shadows clinging to her face began to swirl.


    The scent of Shadow Veil suddenly became apparent as Adara spoke her name, and silently she cursed herself for wandering so dangerously close to the Whispering Pines. How could I be so stupid? What if this had been Ver? Not that it would do anything other than delay the inevitable; Adara was nothing if not diligent, and Mercy expected her to take swift action. The thought terrified her. Could she talk her out of fetching Ver or anyone else?


    "Adara," was all she could initially say in response. It came out soft and breathy, laced with shock. "I-I..." It was difficult to figure out what to say. Nilla was convinced that Mercy shouldn't take the blame for what she'd done to him, considering her lack of control at the time, but the guilt of nearly killing her own son and then leaving him to return home and scare the rest of the clan to death weighed heavily on her. She could have come back and taken responsibility for it, even if it had been out of her control, but her fear had locked her in place. She'd always been a coward.


    "How've you been?" The question came out just as shaky as everything else. It was a genuine inquiry despite also serving as an attempt to delay the discussion she knew to be coming. Shadow Veil had always been her baby, and all her clanmates had felt like family; leaving them behind had pained her greatly. Adara especially was someone she felt terrible abandoning — though she'd always been so stony and mature, Mercy could tell she'd grown up too quickly. She was someone Mercy had always felt the need to look after, and she regretted not being able to press a bit and learn more about her.

    Mercy felt more secure at night; people were far less likely to show up on the border. Maybe that was just wishful thinking, though, considering how recently Vanillasky had sought her out. Then again, he was a... special case. Thinking about all that sent an uncomfortable chill down her spine. She shook her head, trying to focus harder on her search for herbs.


    She wasn't a Shaman and hadn't worked as an official healer in months, but doing said work had always been calming for the molly. It kept her head straight, always providing a good distraction from all of her stress. She'd always found it so easy to lose herself in organizing medical supplies, had done so almost obsessively back in Shadow Veil, although she figured that might be considered overstepping here. Then again, the clan was lacking any official healers at the moment, so maybe now was the time to put her skills to use.


    A quiet sigh escaped her as she padded along by the border, nose twitching.


    ~ADARA~

    Mercy had disliked her since the day they met, and things had only worsened from there. Their relationship was tumultuous, and Mercy always left their interactions feeling ruffled at best or furious at worst. She was everything Mercy hated: a conceited, rude, bloodthirsty anti-clanner that was far happier than she deserved to be. She and Ver had a life and a family that Mercy was completely alienated from, all the way in their awful desert and out of her reach. But there was so much about her that Mercy envied as well: she was confident, a strong leader, and had provided Ver with so much happiness. All Mercy had ever done was fall apart and drag everyone down with her. Nadine was almost inhuman in her perfection, untouchable in a way that Mercy could never hold a candle to. As much as she despised her, spending that one night with Nadine was like getting to enjoy just a little bit of that perfection for herself, even if it was fleeting. Maybe it was also a tad satisfying to indulge herself in something that had been held over her head for so long, always out of her reach, even if in the end she'd simply been used as a toy for Nadine's amusement.


    *thinking emoji*

    first time ive properly written out/explored mercy's full thoughts on nadine i think

    Although they'd had a long discussion and cleared the air the night before, Mercy was still reeling from the shock of it all. She felt a bit shaky as she padded through the jungle with her son beside her. Maybe light-headed as well. The situation just felt so surreal, so wrong. At least Vanillasky wasn't dead. Thank god for that.


    Guilt plagued her all the same for what she'd done. Even if she hadn't killed him, she'd certainly come close — and she'd transformed him into the same kind of monster she was. It wasn't necessarily a miserable existence. She was still Mercy and he was still Vanillasky, and now that they'd gotten their urges under control it would be hard to cause any more damage (she hoped). But this vampiric disease was what had gotten them into this terrible mess in the first place; it was certainly no blessing.


    Vanillasky was insistent in his belief that because their hands had been forced when it came to each of their transgressions, they weren't at fault and this could all be forgotten. Mercy knew better. She couldn't just erase the fact that she'd nearly murdered her own son; his trauma wouldn't just vanish in the blink of an eye. Personal experience said otherwise. Barghest hadn't had a choice when he slit Mercy's throat as a child, and look where that had gotten the two of them. The thought of reliving that hell, this time in her uncle's shoes, scared the absolute shit out of her.


    She didn't understand how Vanillasky could be so forgiving. Then again, Mercy had thought herself able to let everything go before she decided it was too much and sent a hitman after Barghest. Would her son change his mind as well? She kept stealing glances at him as they walked, and with every wary look she felt increasingly ashamed for ever assuming such a thing, especially after all of his reassurance. He's not a carbon copy of me, and he's handled this so well. Vanillasky had never been anything but a loving, devoted son. He deserved better than a mother like her, a broken woman who only knew how to mess things up. As much as she wanted to reconcile with him, part of her wished he'd've gone home and stayed with the much more stable Charlotte and Ver instead of seeking her out. His dedication was touching, but it felt like it would be all too easy to ruin this.


    Eventually they found themselves in the commons. "Here's the camp," she murmured, trying not to sound as apprehensive as she felt. Taking a deep breath, she looked up. "Everyone, this is my son, Vanillasky."


    VANILLASKY R.A.

    [sorry this is kinda shitty hgfdjhg]


    So much had been going on lately that it was difficult to settle herself and get her thoughts together. She was happy about the children but upset at the same time that Ver hadn't been there to witness their birth. The entire time that Ver was gone, locked away in that awful prison, Mercy had almost felt like she wasn't really allowed to be glad about anything, even the miracles that had been growing in her belly. What right did she have, when Ver was undoubtedly being beaten and ridiculed? It had pained the molly to not be able to rescue her, but her pregnancy simply wouldn't permit it.


    At least she was home now. Damaged and scarred, but alive. Mercy was furious with Barghest for allowing this to happen even though he knew about their relationship, but for the time being all she could do was take care of her kids and relish the company of her lover. She couldn't risk a trip to the Exiles when her children were so young; the thought of leaving them pained her greatly, and the Chief Canyon was a dangerous place. Barghest wouldn't always be able to protect her. Did she even want him to anymore?


    She was lost in these musings as she meticulously reorganized the infirmary's herb supply, looking troubled. Normally it was hard to pull her out of one of these little trances, but that morning the sound of shuffling footsteps did catch her pricked ears. Before she could react there was a loud clamor before Ver's scent swathed her, as did her shadow. Mercy jumped all the same, and a laugh escaped her as teeth gently nipped her neck. "Oh, never. You're like a ninja." She turned to look up at Ver as she spoke, and there was nothing but adoration and maybe a bit of relief in her expression. Exhaling a quiet sigh, she leaned into the other's much larger frame. "You're supposed to be resting, you know. But as long as you're here... wanna help me do some chores around the infirm?" Maybe not the most attractive offer, but Mercy had always taken a lot of pleasure in it.

    There was quite a bit for Mercy to catch up on, especially when it came to clanmates, so this meet and greet was conveniently timed. She approached in silence, listening with pricked ears as everyone took turns introducing themselves, and admittedly found herself feeling a tad overwhelmed. Why'd I have to run off when I did? Why'd she have to run off at all? That familiar sense of bitterness began to bubble up inside of her at the memory of her surprise reunion with Nadine, but guilt quickly washed it away as she reminded herself of the tragedy that had struck the Queen. What's wrong with me? She could only imagine how hurt Ver would feel if she knew what was going on in Mercy's head, how disgusted she might be. Ver was a Tormenta, after all, as much as Mercy loved to ignore that.


    And then there was the fact that Freya was Nadine's sister. What a shock that had been; Nadine was the absolute last person she'd expected to see after the Empress gave birth. Mercy's shadowy gaze lingered on her for a moment after she finished speaking, unsure of how to feel. They were clearly very different people. She looked away.


    "My name's Mercy." What was a fun fact about her? She always seemed to struggle with this sort of thing. "I know how to do aromatherapy, so, ah, if anyone's interested in that sort of thing they're welcome to come find me." It was on par with a lot of other facts that had been voiced, but it paled a bit in comparison to some. Namely monster-fighting and owning a jail. What? Marrok was looked young and was likely fanciful; kids tended to have quite the imagination. But what on earth was an (alleged) prison warden doing here? Mercy figured it best not to ask despite her skepticism.


    [hey, im merc!! mercy's my only Main character atm but i am getting back into solaris kingdom and coe so u can also find me there (or will soon). volary flights holds a very special place in my heart bc i had mercy here for a long time back when it was hawkclan! im 19 and use she/her pronouns, and i love pokemon, animal crossing, and breath of the wild so pls feel free to hmu to chat about that kinda stuff! i really enjoy drawing and writing and i plan to study anthropology next semester :0]

    Mercy had no reason to be out this late. She didn't want to be — it was cold and dark, and walking along this border could be very dangerous for a renegade such as herself. The fact that she'd avoided detection for this long (save for the run-in with Kira, though that had been taken care of) was astounding in itself, but how long would it be before her luck ran out? Knowing her, probably not long at all.


    So why was she out here? Frankly, she didn't really know. She hadn't been able to sleep that night, too lost in her own head and caught up in her thoughts of Littleflame, so she'd tiptoed out of the den she shared with Gardenia and elected to take a walk. It was during weather like this that she fully appreciated the thick coat she'd obtained upon resurrecting; while she certainly felt the cold air, the chill wasn't as bad as it could've been. At this point, it was strange to think about the lean, heavily scarred shorthair she'd once been. What a different time that was, as HawkClan's terrified little deputy. It was one of the reasons why she'd denied Enjolras' offer of promoting her to Ryuku on account of her brief leadership in Littlestar's stead; that was a different era, and she'd been a completely different person. She was happy to look out for Volary Flights all the same, but... something felt wrong about declaring herself an authority figure in the modern day.


    A familiar scent hit her like a brick wall, stopping the qualea in her tracks and yanking her harshly out of her thoughts. In the same moment she found herself having to squint against a bright light, the only thing slicing through the darkness of the night, a telltale confirmation if the smell wasn't enough to ease her disbelief.


    "Vanillapaw." Her voice was shaky, her tone breathy. The shadows clinging to her eyes persisted as always in the face of her son's radiance, and they were churning rapidly. The glow exposed the shock written all over her face, and the pain. On one hand, it was a relief to see him standing before her because he was alive. Same body, same little boy she'd always loved. But on the other hand, he'd found her, which meant the rest of the Veil had to know as well. No— they didn't matter at the moment. What mattered was that the son she'd brutally attacked and nearly killed was now standing before her after she'd tried so hard to escape the terrible crime — the sin — she'd committed. He'd been alive this whole time, most certainly traumatized by what had happened and struggling to process it, while she'd been hiding and sulking like the coward she'd always known herself to be instead of facing her grave mistake.


    At least she knew she could control herself this time. The crazed bloodlust that had driven her away from Shadow Veil in the first place had faded soon after her night with Nadine, and she had to assume that she'd been so frenzied because of how long she'd spent "sick" in the infirmary, hardly eating anything, much less drinking blood. She'd been starved. Her little rampage had certainly sated her, and since then she'd been able to suppress any similar urges by draining the prey she caught. It didn't feel the same as consuming a cat's blood, though, or any other larger creature; she never felt a hundred percent satisfied after a meal, not even close. But the thought of attacking another equal, an innocent, terrified her — what if she lost herself again in the thrill of the hunt? What if she went overboard and killed someone? The simple violence, the violation, of merely sucking a bit of blood from someone's throat and nothing more didn't sit well with her. How much longer could she continue to put it off?


    "I—I..." What the hell was she even supposed to say? A simple "sorry" almost seemed offensive after all that had happened. I'm sorry for attacking you with no rhyme or reason. I'm sorry for going against everything a mother stands for. I'm sorry for turning on you like Sango turned on me, for traumatizing you in the same way Barghest traumatized me. Her heart nearly stopped as the words popped into her head, and any possible apology or explanation died on her lips as she dropped to an almost terrified crouch and began to sob.

    The aviary. Mercy had visited it a handful of times, painfully aware of the absence of her own companion. Bluebell felt like something of a security blanket to the molly, always flying overhead in an effort to guide the way or prevent anyone from sneaking up on her. She admittedly felt like a piece of her was missing after leaving her sparrowhawk behind in the Whispering Pines, but at least she could trust her family to care of her in Mercy's absence. Will I ever see her again? she wondered as she approached her clanmates. Bluebell had miraculously tracked her down once before, but could she hope for that to happen again? Especially when she now had her chicks and Mercy's loved ones for company? "I think it's fair to want to keep your bird by your den," offered the molly. Her tone was soft and mild, perhaps a little wistful.