Posts by Claes G.D.

    Life always had its way when it came to tossing its inhabitants over this way and that - changing and flipping everything upside down just when things seemed normal. Claes had learned that of life quite late - the realization only ever coming to him when he and his family were separated with the whole shift to Agrelos. But those times seemed like years ago, and he'd seen so much much more - been through so much more. And though he knew things would change, he still felt himself foolishly holding on to what he had and praying that it would stay. And with what he had right now.. Helios, he wasn't sure that he'd ever bring himself to be able to let it go.

    The sharp tang of blood in the air is what drew Claes over, paws thudding upon the ground as he rushed over to the scene. Much like Rosemary, he was all-too-terrified that it would be an unforgiving and gruesome scene as the last one had been.. Though as he neared the growing group - skidding to a slow walk as he grew close - he found a soft sigh of relief come from him as he noticed that the girl (whoever she was) was still alive - alive, and thankfully not bleeding too much. Shoulders dropping their tension with a comfort in knowing that she wasn't dead, Claes would pad through the group; weaving his way between all who had gathered to get a better look at what was happening.

    Coming to stand next to 1004, Claes would cast the Dynastian a warm smile, before turning his gaze to the injured deer. A small wince would leave him as he looked at her leg - clearly dislocated and out of place with its angle and position. Blinking away his surprised look, the small feline would take a tentative step forwards. He was about to open his mouth to speak - to say some comforting words... but was the note was brought up, Claes couldn't help but let his gaze drift over it before he started to actually do anything. Head tilting, he would lean down to peer at the note, brows scrunching as he read it. "My pretty little flower..." Claes murmured, eyes skimming it, "Atlantica.." Claes would say her name, finally, kind gaze flicking back up to her as he said it. That was her name, wasn't it? Why is it attached to her neck? Flicking his ear dismissively, he would turn his focus back to the injuries, rather than the little note.

    "Hey.. Hey there, Atlantica," Claes would begin sweetly, voice a soothing coo as he neared her even further. Giving a gentle hum, he would take a seat close to her. "I'm Claes, and this is 1004.. we're going to help fix your leg so it doesn't hurt so much-" the king would explain with a hopeful smile, before giving a brief motion with his chin towards her dislocated leg, "-are you okay with that? You can just nod or shake your head, if you'd like," Claes offered. Of course he was going to find a way to help her no matter her answer - though much like with 'numbers', there was just.. something more assuring in getting permission and the okay to do something - some unwritten (but preferred) medic rule, he supposed. But speaking of 1004, he hoped that he wouldn't mind Claes offering his help.. because though Claes was more experienced now, shifting bones in a much smaller body would be a challenge - especially since he was so new to it.

    While waiting for some sort of an answer, Claes would take a quick look around those that were surrounding the deer; gaze searching others and the nearby ground up and down as he searched for something that could be used to help reduce the pain or even the reaction to it. "Does anyone have any poppy?" Claes would ask quietly, eyes still flicking around about him in an effort to spot something. "... or a stick?" if they couldn't have any true pain-killers, then the next best thing would to give the poor girl something to bite down on for the pain of the shift.

    "speech." & tags

    A soft breath - cold and anxious - leaves him as he stands outside his brother's door; waiting for the moment he gets enough courage to knock upon it, to reach out. His breathing is quiet, though it is shallow and nervous as he sits and waits, primarily in thought. He's torn - so, so torn, on what to feel about all of this. Perhaps he wasn't so torn on what he felt of Marigold himself - no, not anymore - but he is torn on the reactions that were growing around him as others noticed the change. Specifically, the reactions of his oldest (and closest) brother. He noticed the avoidance - noticed the glances of disdain and disappointment and all the things else. He noticed the agitation, the way his cheery brother was no longer such a way. The way that Aether wasn't quite so eager to socialize and would always slink off to be alone or to sleep for one reason or another. He noticed it, even if he pretended time and time again that it was nothing more than a temporary slump.

    But Claes knew better.

    He knew that whatever was going on wasn't going to just be fixed - wasn't just going to fade - with time. He knew that whatever was driving his usually so nonchalant brother to act in such a way wasn't something that could be changed with some nice words, a pat on the back, and a smile. He knew it, because he had just suffered through it - had just barely escaped the grasps of whatever despair that had threatened to drag him below the surface. And yet.. and yet, when he watched his brother trek off alone he hesitated in coming. He hated that he did - he hated the way that part of him wanted to leave it be.. It was so, so selfish and he knew it... But there was a part of him, somewhere, still hurting. Hurting over how utterly alone he had been, how unfair it had all been. But he knew better than to let what was hurting him hurt others - especially when it came to family. And just because Aether hadn't checked on him at all during that didn't mean that he'd be willing to do such the same. No - Claes would push down whatever bitter and uncertain feelings that had cropped up in order to help his struggling brother. He wouldn't let anyone to feel the way he did - especially not his Aether. I'll check on you, even if you didn't do the same for me.

    The feline hesitates a moment longer, mouth parted as he tries to steady his breaths, eyes closed as he tried to steady his heart. He blinks his solemn gaze - eyes holding a sorrow and concern unspoken within the recent weeks - a concern pushed away for the sake of chasing whatever happiness he could find. His teeth clench as he tries to prepare himself to go through with it, tries to prepare himself to face whatever was to come his way. Reaching a paw up, Claes would tentatively tap upon the door, head hanging low as he began to speak. "Aether?" the words carry enough to call for him if he's asleep. He's quiet for a moment, and he tries to swallow down the guilt forming within his gut. What am I even guilty of? He didn't know. He still doesn't know - but he supposed that he'll find out soon enough. All he knows is that his brother wouldn't give him such looks (or lack of looks), if it weren't for something to do with him.. But still, he fears what he knows is coming.

    Honeyed gaze shifting to the floor, he would shuffle his paws upon the ground, the cold growing more noticeable. "Did I..." he feels his voice waver, and he forces himself to stop. He sucks in a breath, gaze casting up towards the sky and throat tightening with nerves. He swallows again, and faces the closed door once more. "Did I do something wrong?" he finally finishes, ears pushed forwards to try and listen for any sort of indicating sound. He wants to try and fix it, whatever it is.. he would always try for his brother. But he was fearful, now, that it would be something he could not control.

    Aether G.D.

    sorry for the random thread but !! take your time responding!! <3

    "speech." & tags

    A soft smile would remain upon his maw as he let the first of the news sink in, eyes trailing idly over those who had gathered. The first to arrive was Boo and their new snake companion - and while the snake was still.. an interesting figure, Claes couldn't help but smile back towards the pale serval who it seemed to follow around. Giving a small dip of his head in greeting to them, he would keep his gaze there for a moment before it drifted through the rest of those that began to gather. The next was Coralie - and as the cheery girl arrived and smiled over at him, he couldn't help the small laugh of amusement that left him. And it wasn't empty - no, no it wasn't. It was true, however odd it felt it to be. Smiling just as much as she was to him, he would lift a paw and give her a small (but equally enthusiastic) wave back. Giving a fond sigh, he tapped a toe slowly upon the stone beneath him. Things were.. things were good, weren't they? This was good.

    His eyes would wander then to Zin, as he arrived. Of course this was.. a change from all the things 'good' he had thought of, being he was still fairly certain he hated him.. But nonetheless, he wouldn't allow himself to get dragged into his thoughts, or what was left of his feelings.. No, he couldn't do that. Instead, he would give the other a tight-lipped and uncomfortable smile. It was the best he could offer, knowing some of the other's feelings towards him - but at least he was trying. Shuffling his paws, he would then look to Dominic - true smile returning for a moment more. It was good to see that he was back up and walking around, after everything that had happened. And shortly after that, Junepaw was next to arrive. A smile would remain upon his maw, though an expression of curiosity was slowly ebbing within it. He seemed to be.. much more happy, than last week. That was always a good thing. Blinking, he would shift his gaze, then to Allie as she arrived, paws bandaged, with Sangria. One wandered over towards Boo, and the other towards Junepaw - all waiting for the meeting to continue.

    Claes was about to part his maw, then, when Marigold arrived in his usual up-front spot. A breath of relief would release from him, shoulders relaxing from their tight hold and a genuine smile replacing his guarded looks from before. Tail tip giving a few idle flicks as he allowed his gaze to rest upon the other male. Biting gently on the inside of his cheek, the king would eventually tear his gaze away - if only for the fact that he knew that blatantly staring at the other wouldn't do anyone any favors as they were all waiting. But in doing so, he would spot Aether sitting on the outside of the crowd, head low and gaze avoiding. At first, Claes tried to smile at him, too - trying desperately to grasp his attention, despite the divide that was forming between them. But he soon saw that his efforts were futile, Aether barely looking up. Brows creasing and smile fading just as quickly as it had formed, Claes would deflate - concerned eyes focusing intensely upon his brother. Did I do something wrong? Nerves beginning to stir again, Claes would blink and take a deep breath. He'd talk to him after, right? He'd figure out what he did..

    "Alright," the king began, a smile a bit forced but not obvious to those who hadn't paid any attention to it, " clarence morgan is demoted, and lucarina and Lorelai Million get minor warnings," with everything that had gone on the last couple weeks, the stress was likely to be a lot. So, things would be taken easier. But, even with everything, they still needed their high positions to be active and contributing. He hoped to see more of them all soon. Flicking an ear, the beige-hued feline would carry on to the better, more positive news of the last week.

    "Shout outs go to marigold ; , ROSEMARY A. , SANGRIA . , Aether G.D. , and WITCHSPAW , " Claes would begin warmly, honeyed gaze looking out to the crowd and looking to identify those whose names he'd called. Most of them were there - so it didn't take long for him to find each of them. Letting that ring out for moments more, he would focus back on the general group, mind running through what he needed to say next. " Coralie Mae and JUNEPAW A. , I'd like you both to step up to Trailblazer, and Zinfandel T.M , I'd like you to step up to Suncahser," the king would announce, giving each of them a slight nod, before venturing on. "I'd also like to give out some titles. Coralie Mae , you get the vivacious title, JUNEPAW A. , I'd like to give you the zealous title-" he paused to take a breath, "-and ROSEMARY A. and BOURBONKIT , I'd like to give you both the kindly titles." Each were deserving, he thought. So, smiling once more and pushing the worries that had started creeping up on him out of his mind, he would begin to conclude. "Also, Marigold is hosting weekly tasks, so if you have the time, make sure you participate. And.." his voice would trail off as he thought over everything that had and hadn't been said, "And.. unless anyone else has anything to add, the meeting is dismissed. Thank you for your time." Quick but not overly curt words would leave him, and giving a confirming nod of his head to finality of it all, he would take in a deep breath, and then release it. Without thinking a moment more he would leap down and back upon the ground to stand beside Marigold - likely that the two would be off somewhere together afterwards.

    "speech." & tags

    The weeks were settling back into normal routines once more - a welcome change from the chaos that had filled them before. After weeks of seemingly never-ending stress and agony, the rumors and the whispers had finally died down. No more talking behind backs, no more carless and reckless arguments. It had been quite the opposite, rather. At least - it had been the opposite for him and Marigold.. Truthfully, Claes hadn't a clue if anyone was still talking about what had happened (and most of him wished it would remain that way). A selfish part of him just wanted to forget it - to let everyone forget it - and pretend that none of it had ever happened. He didn't want to remember the way his world was sent into flames (or- well... ice) within mere moments, or the way he cried for days and was left utterly and completely alone. He wanted to block it out - everything but what came after Marigold visited him - just as his heart did everything else. And he supposed that for the most part, he had gotten that with his newfound comfort in the very man that he could have sworn hated him, only weeks ago. And now... Well everything was good, now. Everything was so, so good. He had Marigold with him, after all - he had someone other than just himself. That was worth more to him than he could ever begin to say.

    At Marigold's call, the king's ears would perk - almost as if a natural natural reaction to hearing the other - and a gentle smile would come upon his maw. Turning upon his heel, Claes would approach the commune guild's atrium, honeyed gaze scanning the various instruments lined up with a sense of eager curiosity. There were.. Helios, there were so many instruments. There was Mari's piano, guitars, harmonicas (and flutes, too), and lyres and a multitude of other string instruments - some small, some large. And as he looked at everyone moving towards one or another he couldn't help but stare hopelessly in the direction of all of the things laid out. What was he going to pick..? To be honest, he wasn't quite sure.

    Though soon enough his gaze would move from what the actual instruments were to those surrounding them. Naturally, they first went to their host - a subtle admiration and an ever-present fondness upon his features - gaze catching upon the other for perhaps a moment or two too long, before following the movements around him. There was Boo and her snake companion and- His thoughts came to a near halt as he looked over at the glum form of his brother, and immediately he'd stiffen up. There was something off, Claes could tell. There had been something off ever since the whole ordeal had started to lighten up. He'd blink - half confused, half wanting to ask about it. But his stomach churned with a certain unease that he knew what was wrong (and he feared it was something he had done). So instead, he would take in a sharp breath and turn his gaze elsewhere. He could deal with all of that later.

    The others that had come for the little lessons were Zin, who was messing with the harmonica - and Icarus, who told him to blow upon it. Curiously, his gaze would move to the lyre the the trailblazer was holding, honeyed gaze tracing over it for a moment with a sense of growing curiosity. Though, his attention was then grabbed by the swift jump of Rosemary up to where her brother's platform was - and after the briefest moments of realization that they could also have a try at the piano at the center of it all, a spark of interest would line his gaze and he'd take a few quick strides forwards. Maybe it was a shameless attempt to be closer to Marigold - but truly, he did want to learn, too.

    With a light jump, Claes would leap up on the other side of Marigold. Scooting forwards a little bit - his eyes would trace over the keys in front of him, wide with an eagerness that he hadn't felt in a long, long time. With a content huff leaving him, he would curl his tail around his side - giving Marigold's a light brush on the way - before leaning forwards a bit to be able to see Rosey and Marigold both at the same time. "Mind if we share?" the feline would hum out quietly, a warm smile upon his face as his gaze flicked between the two siblings hopefully. There seemed to be enough room for them all, if only just a little bit cramped. It'd be fine, right? Hopefully.

    "speech." & tags

    The weeks seemed to be going smoother - everyones lives much better, and less stressful. There was more good news than bad - more joys than sorrows.. It had been so, so long since they'd had the privilege of having stress be more an after thought than anything else. With an abundance of newer members, it was much easier to brush back everything that had gone on during the weeks prior. And perhaps acting like it didn't happen was only a temporary fix - perhaps that was all anything they ever did would be.. But he would take it - he was sure that they all would - over everything else that had occurred. He'd take what bits of peace and faux promise they got - he would take it, and make it work. Because just as that hollowness had settled within him was unnerving, it was far, far better than the alternative of what he was feeling before.

    Tender steps carried the feline towards the meeting stones - each one quiet and light. He blinked once, then twice, face scrunching in thought as he stopped just before the stones. There was a moment of confused thought as he glanced around the surrounding area, head tilting. There's something.. off? Certainly - but what it was, exactly, he didn't know. He gave a slight shake of his head and a dismissive shrug. Deciding he'd figure it out later, he'd tilt his head to the sky - ready to give the gathering call. Though, as soon as he parted his maw, he was quick to realize what was off. After a stark (and rather embarrassing) realization that he couldn't call out in the same way, the king's ears would flatten. Helios.. he should know that, shouldn't he? Giving a small huff, the feline would jump upon the cool stones, and call for the meeting. "Solaris!" the Dawningcrown would shout - though his tone made it clear it was only to gather their attention, and nothing serious, "Gather around for this week's meeting!" Clearing his throat shortly after, the feline would take a seat. Tail curling around his side as he used a paw to place upon the base of his throat, he would rub for a moment - shouting something so entirely foreign to his voice. Though, as others began to trickle in, he would begin.

    There was a smile upon his maw as others arrived, and shortly after a big enough crowd had gathered he would begin the meeting. "Welcome, everyone - and a welcome to our newest members: 061 and Coralie Mae , " Well.. Coralie had been around for the last meeting (and the last week, for that matter), but truthfully he hadn't had the chance to properly welcome into the clan. And though she seemed to be getting along well, it felt only fitting she get her recognition. So, finally feeling the least bit well enough to look others in the eye, he would search for them, before going on. "And I'd also like to give a welcome back to ~THEA~ , and allie!! ," Claes would give a small smile - fond of the idea that Thea was back (Helios, how long had it been?), as well as Allie, after everything. To know that they were home safe was a prayer answered in itself. "If any of you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask - we're all willing to help if it's needed," Claes would add lightly. Tail giving a few flicks, he would give a concluding nod to his statement, before going on.

    "Bad news out of the way first, uhm.." Claes would begin, face creasing slightly as he thought about the gruesome scene, "As most of you know, a Solarian was murdered.. It doesn't seem to be tied to any group - thank Helios - but I want you all to be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. Travel in groups if you can, and always keep an eye out for each other," the king would remind them. He tried his best to keep his tone neutral - though just thinking about it created a weight that made it heavy. Honeyed gaze staring at no one particular spot, he would appear lost in thought for a moment, before he began to reel himself back in.

    Giving a shake of his head and a flick of his ear, he would go on. "There's been lots of activities this week - and because of that I'd like to thank you all for your work," the Go Deo would begin, of course, with the praise they all deserved, before he would onto what activities that were going on (which, if he were honest, was a lot). "For activities this week, Icarus is watching a meteor shower, and Rosemary is exploring and moving into a hut," a small, but fond smile would come upon his face at that, "A merchant stopped by the border, and Coralie is giving away some of her stones to those that want them, and Boo found a snake and Rosemary's making paint." The leader took a moment to catch his breath and let his mouth rest for a moment, before continuing on. "Zin is also baking, and Marigold is holding a music workshop - and there's also a lot of different aus going on," Claes would conclude the list of activities with a small huff of relief. Giving a small contemplative hum, he would blink and fall silent momentarily, before finally coming to once again. Honeyed eyes would scan the crowd after a moment, ears perking as he looked upon them. And - finding that he had said what he needed to for the first time, he would sit back a bit more comfortably. "Everything else will be announced in a moment," Claes decided. Letting the rest of the news settle in a ring into the air, he would relax and catch his breath and tongue for a moment - an attempt to handle the steadily building nerves that came and went with meetings - before he would have to go on.

    "speech." & tags

    While Claes had a passion for his schooling -- after all, he was majoring in biological sciences for med school, as well as literature for his own sanity with a minor in psychology -- there were times he just needed a break. Between studying at all hours of the day and night for his exams, trying to work a job, and keep up with participating in student government there was little time for him to simply relax with his friends (and family) as he wished to. Which was exactly why he was so recklessly tossing his assignments away for the day in order to come here and spend some much-needed time with them.

    A small huff would leave the man as he sat upon the bleachers close to Marigold; layers of clothing (and some of his friend's extra jackets) upon him as he tried to keep warm. Truly, it wasn't even that cold within the rink - especially not when moving around - but still, it felt absolutely freezing. Tucking his chin into a maroon scarf that was likely his brother's, Claes would huddle where he was, a hot chocolate in his hands in an effort to keep him warm. But despite the biting cold that seemed to get at him even through all of his jackets, there was a subtle warmth that was kept within him. His eyes would watch as Ria began upon the ice - followed soon after by Rosey and Juno - and naturally a smile spread across his face. He would give a content hum as he watched Rosey skating effortlessly, followed by June's clinging to the wall and Sangria's prompt falling. He would hold in a half-laugh, his face twisting as he tried to keep the amused expression off of his face.

    Leg bouncing idly - mostly due to the cold - Claes would break his relative silence. "You're doing great!" Claes would cheer from where he was. Truly, it was to no one in particular - Sangria and Juno were trying and Rosemary was, quite obviously, a natural. The man gave a small but gleeful hum, shrugging his shoulders to his ears as he tried to keep warm and watch at the same time. Holding his hot chocolate close, he would continue to watch rather passively - not truly intent on skating in his shivering form but not entirely against it, either. Though, as Mari stopped writing his lyrics and promptly made his way out to the ice, Claes would watch with wide eyes, for a moment - blinking as he watched the man walk down and around to the rink itself. I guess that just leaves me here, hmm? Claes would think with a soft hum, head tilting just slightly as he pondered getting up and joining the others. With a decisive nod, he would climb to his feet - balancing upon the skates - before following suit soon after.

    Entering onto the ice, Claes would press upon it slowly - careful to not send himself slipping out to the middle with too much pressure. And instead, the fellow college student would shift his weight upon each skate to send himself slowly forwards, before aiming to come up close behind Mari and embrace him in a brief hug that (hopefully) wouldn't send them both toppling over. "I won't let you fall," Claes would chime playfully to Mari - a small giggle leaving him at the fact that even he was on shaky ground with the ice and probably wouldn't be able to save the man, except for breaking his fall if he did. But - ah, that was no matter.

    With a soft hum, Claes would release the backhug he'd embraced the other in, and instead move to be level with where Mari was skating, moving slowly. Keeping a hand placed upon the other's shoulder just in case either of them began to slip, he'd keep steady. "Rosey?" Claes called, turning his gaze to meet the girl's, "Care to teach us? I'll buy you some food and some warm drinks after, if you want," the male offered with a hopeful smile. Truly, neither he or Mari were particularly bad a skating, really... But the extra help wouldn't hurt - especially from someone so good at it as she was.

    "speech." & tags

    Childhood was.. odd (in the best way, of course). One minute one was excited about every little thing and the other, they were bored out of their minds. Of course, that always led to some strange (but enlightening) discoveries and behaviors. Some went out and played pretend, others went investigating things. And of course, others went out to collect things they found cool and entertaining. Truthfully, Claes hadn't really had a knack for collecting things other than plants and books (and some little insects, though they always seemed to escape). The plant collecting was certainly a trait from his mother - the collection of books and bugs something else entirely. But he didn't exactly remember having a supreme collection of rocks and cool little things like that - no, he wasn't sure he'd had that at all... Though as a kid, he was most certain that he would have loved it, had it ever caught his attention.

    A solemn expression lingers on Claes's maw as his paws carried him leisurely throughout camp, mind not entirely present, though not entirely gone. There was a complexity to this in-between that he hadn't yet been able to conquer or understand - and yet he was utterly stuck with this hollowness that was burying itself within him until he could, somehow, fill the holes in its wake. So, he spent most of his time like this - at least, the time that he wasn't interacting with others - so it was no wonder for him to be wandering as he was. But ultimately in his travels he happened upon Coralie's little gathering.

    As soon as Claes saw the kitten, his expression brightened and a smile came upon his maw as he settled near the girl, honeyed gaze glancing over her collection with a small smile. "Ah, Coralie~" Claes began in a gentle coo - voice rather light-hearted despite the heaviness that lingered within him. Shifting upon his paws, he would give a little hum as looked over the stones. "These are awful pretty - are you sure you want to give them away?" Claes would ask, honeyed gaze traveling over the ones presented, before flicking back over to the girl. Though, after a moment of slight contemplation and looking over the ones presented, his head would tilt and his gaze would linger upon the tourmaline. "Do you think Sangria would like this one? Oh..." he began, though his gaze shifted over to the final one that Coralie had presented, and he promptly cut himself off.

    He stared over at it, for a moment, mouth parted in slight shock and eyes wide with surprise. He was silent - mouth moving and then closing each time he tried to find the words for the full toe stuck within the crystal. The king's own toes would wriggle within the sand in discomfort, and slowly, but steadily, he felt further disturbance rise the longer he looked at it. And suddenly - he wished that Sangria wouldn't come over here - not after what happened with her own claws. Forcing his prickling fur down, he would give a slight shake of his head, a small huff of disbelief leaving him. How does that even happen? "A-ah.. yeah, I don't.. I don't think anyone would like to lose a toe," the king spoke quickly and quietly, an awkward hum leaving his lips as he looked at the claw within it. Blinking and giving a shake of his head, he would try to focus. "And we certainly don't want you to lose one, either," he would say, offering her a smile. Giving a small flick of his ear, he would examine the stone further, blinking. "Where did you find that one?" Claes would ask after a moment - curiosity taking over his previous concerns of the little subject at hand.

    "speech." & tags

    There had been so much that had gone on in such little time. Going here, going there - trying to fix things without them escalating. Trying to change minds about the fact that violence didn't always need to be an answer. There were so, so many things to deal with: some of them requiring an answer and not getting one, some of them had no true answer at all. And yet everything was placed under a certain level of scrutiny. Of himself, of his actions, of everything between the time he stepped up to each and every breath thereafter. And yet through most of what had happened, there had always been some things that remained: trust, care, his never-ending hope that others would always be better than what they presented. And perhaps, on some level, those things did remain within his heart. But not all things remained exactly the same.. certainly not those, with everything that had simultaneously shattered and built him (though more of the former). A man once so open, so willing to believe the good, forced to take a look at himself and others around him with a sense of caution. And if he could go back, maybe he would have taken what Cory had done as a warning for the hurt and pain that was to come. But as always, he had been oblivious for what was to come.

    As soon as the smell of the Exiles crossed the feline's nose, he felt his fur prickle with unease. Immediately, the king turned upon his heels - almost an automatic reaction to the scent of them or any enemy, rather. There was a panic that spread like cold within his veins - worry picking at his heart about what the matter would be. They would be visitors, at best (though hadn't Cory been a 'visitor' the time that he mauled Ashe?), and whatever Exiles were there would be raiding them, at worst. The options swirled within his mind - anxious thoughts going back and forth between possibilities. A raid may be likely - perhaps the most likely - as the Exiles did not deal with such matters as diplomatically as he had tried. And plus, with the whole thing with Icarus, retaliation was still up in the air (though truly, it would be no fault of his friend's). But as he bound across desert sands there were no yells, no coppery tang among the air. It was.. quiet. He didn't know if that would turn to be a blessing or a curse.

    Breaths shallow, Claes would come to a skidding halt close to Marigold and Rosemary, heart rate quick from both the running and the nerves within him. Honey eyes blink upon those gathered - first landing upon the injured Ghoulian (whom he didn't know), grazing over Cory, though ultimately landing upon Allie. Allie... they had Allie? At first, a flash of confusion crosses his face, his brows creasing and his tail flicking back and forth behind him. Why.. why in Helios did they have them? Of all places? The very reason that he had explored the eastern side alone was because of the fact that he didn't want the rest of the kids near where most of their enemies lie... and yet, they had been right where he had passed. Right there. His teeth clench, anxiety building even more. But soon enough, he counters it. It doesn't.. It doesn't matter how they found them. They're home, now. They're home. He blinks, and he forces a small smile to Allie, even if they can't see it. "Thank Helios you're okay..." Claes whispers, nervous breaths coming slower. The sandy hued feline feels a bit of relief come to him - though just as soon as it comes, tensions (this time his own) crop up once more.

    Soon enough, Claes's gaze shifts to Cory. The male's gaze travels over the other's sickly and tri-legged form, eyes squinting just barely as he looked over the obvious (and less obvious) health issues upon the other. He wants to care about them - he wants to feel as if it's okay if he offers support, offers help, offers medicine. But as he looks towards the lion, all he can see is the bleeding form of Ashe, the 'C' carved into the other as a sign of his work. All he can see is the blood that's been spilled, the things that have been taken, and the faith that had been crushed so effortlessly as the other refused to tell the truth, refused to care, refused to own up to what he did. Part of him wants to look past it, and recognize Cory is struggling. But as he looks he can not find the will within his struggling heart to do so.

    The king's jaws tense for a moment more, biting down and keeping his mouth from opening as he thought and thought and thought. He blinks, though - eyes subtly moving over the other, searching for any tell-tale signs of lashing out and outbursts of anger as last time the interacted. His gaze lacks the warmth it always had, lacks the familiar comfort and understanding that Cory had been met with all along. And instead it is simply cold - perhaps distrusting. Cory had played with his trust before - he had manipulated it in order for the Exilers to get what they wanted far too many times. But now... He was thankful for Allie being brought back, yes.. but he'd learned his lesson a thousand times over and it finally happened to stick. He's unpredictable. And unpredictable, in such times, was dangerous.

    His tail curls behind him as he leans ever-so-slightly against Marigold (such a change from where they had been before, but what can he say?), though his gaze remains on the Exiles leader. He blinks a few too many times, each one slow and assessing, before finally the maw upon his maw parts into what seemed like a disinterested and apathetic look. He hates it - he hates the way it feels upon his maw and the way his heart beat uneasily in his chest. He hated it all, and yet he felt entirely hopeless to change it (such lack of care, at this point, was involuntary - a consequence of caring far, far too much).

    "Cory-" the king's words start off curt and monotone, and for a brief moment his jaws snap shut as he remembered what key thing he'd learned about Cory's temper. And perhaps that shouldn't matter to him, now - after all Cory was upon his home, his sands - but nonetheless he knows better than to let his growing resentment worsen things. He clears his throat quietly and stares upon the decaying, sickly man - stealing a quickly glance towards the medic with him before shifting back - lips pressed tight. "Thank you." The words still felt bitter upon his tongue as he was reminded of all that man had done to both his friends and to him, but they came out with a sense of truth. He was thankful for the other to bring Allie back - though it was likely the only thing he'd ever be able to truly claim he was grateful for from them, after everything. Taking in a shaky breath, the feline would cast Marigold a small glance, tail brushing gently against the other's briefly as a reminder of something tangible, something.. safe, as he looked upon the lion and saluki with guarded intention. Now please, for the sake of us, say what you must and go.. you've done far too much harm to be welcomed here so easily.

    "speech." & tags

    The young ruler remains silent for moments more - mind coming and going between spoken words and things yet to be said. But as he does so, his eyes wander just barely from that spot they had fixated on - flicking here and there idly and momentarily - before shifting back away from what looks he feared would come upon him. It hurts.. Helios, even if he can't truly feel the pain, he knows it hurts to think that after everything that had happened, that he sits there to look at his friends as strangers, and little else. And they sit there and look upon someone they once recognized, now torn apart. But he knows that whatever damage had been done would not be so easily fixed. It'll take time - he wanted to remind himself - all healing did. If only time didn't hurt to pass, too..

    His gaze flicks up, and catches a glimpse of a familiar figure - and though his eyes begin to move away he snaps them back to Witch upon noticing. He blinks at first; taking moments to read the merciful expression upon delicate lips. And soon enough the story of what happened is told again - the crying, the cold, the being all alone.. The memories of his state not long ago is regarded with distance - an absence of the feelings that so ruled and guided him. But as he looks upon Witch he is not so empty, not so numb. He feels an odd sense of comfort come upon him - a faint murmur of knowing true care and understanding. He can feel the warm rasp of his tongue, the calming vibrations of his purr. And he gives a small smile - however sad, however sweet - towards Witchspaw. And though no words are spoken, it is clear he is thankful for the reassurance - both then and now.

    The next to arrive is Junepaw, and though it was the first time seeing him around in a while, Claes tried to give a smile to the other, despite the hollowness in his chest. Though soon enough, Claes moves his gaze away and tries to focus, instead, on that same empty spot. But with more and more people looking at him, avoiding all of their stares grew increasingly difficult. So, it's no surprise that the arrival of one of the tigers in the Kingdom (and one of the newer members) catches his eye, even if only for a moment. And soon after, the arrival of Missio does as well. Her smile doesn't go unnoticed - and he's seen the such a sweet and reassuring look before. And so, he gives a small smile, and a gentle nod - and he tries to keep it.. But Helios, is this exhausting. He's tired - they've all been through a lot.. And truthfully, he wanted nothing more than to get this done, so he could go home and get under the blankets and try to warm the perpetual cold taking hold of his heart.

    He takes in a shaky breath, and he feels the cool air upon his lips, and he decides, then - that meeting their stares (however kind and helpful) was something that still brought a high level of discomfort, after everything that had happened over the last few weeks. How was he to know who hated him, and who didn't? He didn't know.. and though he looked composed (much more than the last meeting), that fear was eating away at his heart - truly, it was the only thing he felt within his heart. But just smile, he tells himself in a lame attempt to getting through this, and working through his nerves. And he does. He straightens up and he pulls up a believable smile - bright, despite the emptiness within his gaze. Just smile, and get through it. Get through it, and then you can leave.

    His gaze flicks to the rest who had gathered - 1004, Ria, Boo, and Aether. And then, it moves just as swiftly as it came to Ichabod, Marigold, Coralie, and Rosemary, who seemed to notice his rather distressed face from before. He pays small bits of attention, despite the anxiety and exhaustion that threatened to pull him down. But nevertheless he keeps his smile, no matter how hard it is to do so. But his gaze rests on one for moments longer than the rest - landing upon Marigold with a faint sense of surprise. His mouth parts slightly, before it comes shut again. What he was about to say never truly formulates - a mixture of a dumbfounded speechlessness and memories of their... last encounter coming clear to mind. He blinks, tail swishing back and forth behind him - and quickly he forces his gaze away. Not out of avoidance of Marigold, truly - but avoidance, truly, of everything else.

    "Alright," Claes began after those few minutes that felt like an eternity. He let's out his breath, and snapping back to the present and away from the realms of his mind, he continues with everything that needed to be said. Promotions, demotions, and everything of the like. "Topanga has stepped down from her position, and M. DARLING is.. demoted," though he can't truly say he felt pained, like he had before - there is a certain twinge of regret with the other's disappearance. Mallory had always been a constant face within the clan - a constant source if one needed a reality check. To not see him around was worrying, but nonetheless he knows he's powerless to stop it. But with a quick flick of his ear, he moves on from the bad stuff and moves, instead, to the good.

    "Shout outs this week go to Aether G.D. , SANGRIA . , sageteller , magnolia x. , ASHE- , JUNEPAW A. , and C. BELIVEAU and nen ." That, truly, was a lot of names - but they were deserving of praise for what he'd seen so far. Giving a small dip of his head at his words, he would keep his gaze once again focused on no one in particular - back to that spot that seemed to sit empty. " ROSEMARY A. and MISSIO , " the king would pause and give a little smile, "Thank you for everything you've done, lately - I'd like you both to step up as Sunguards." Taking in a quick breath, the leader would gather the worry still growing in his heart and push it down. Only a few more things. " ICHABOD. , I'd like you to step up to Trailblazer, " the male had been around plenty, even if he was new. And even though Claes wasn't out and about quite as much as he used to be, he had noticed it. Smiling, still, would go on. "And finally, WITCHSPAW , " the king finally lifted his gaze from that cursed spot and to the kind boy instead, "If you're ready for it I'd like you to step up as Morningstar." Witch was contemplative and kind in nature - not one to rush into things without thinking - and with the position now vacant, there was a need to fill it. He also bore both the kindness, consideration, and determination that would always be needed when handling matters such as warfare. That, and of course, the hellcat seemed like one to consider all angles when taking action - subtle strategies, meaningful observations. With that, he'd offer the male an encouraging smile - if to do nothing else, then to let him know that it was okay if he didn't want that yet.

    Though he feels comfortable when speaking to Witch, there is still the eyes that fall upon him. And naturally, his eyes shift towards all else who had gathered. His honeyed gaze blinked towards them for a moment, and after giving Witch time enough to answer, he would address them once more, only to dismiss them. "Unless anyone has anything they'd like to add, the meeting is dismissed." Thank Helios. Giving a small shiver, he would flick his tail once, twice - waiting a few moments before he began to step down from the stones. He pauses, just in case anyone would like to say anything else. And if they wouldn't, then he'd begin to head off once more to calm the nerves dancing within his chest.

    "speech." & tags

    The stars.. Helios, how long has it been since he's taken a look? He thinks, truly, the last time he had, it had been with Icarus, when things were so, so much better. When the stresses of leadership were less, when the nights were calm and the days warm. And now, the seasons are changing - and despite their warmer position than most, the nights grew chilly and cold. It was so utterly overwhelming how everything had changed so quick, just within a few months. From sunshine smiles and ever-lasting heat to cold shoulders and stares and the days growing shorter. It was bitter - all of it (even him) - to go through what they did, at the cost of which they did so. And oh - he wished he could go back to the moments where he and Icarus met - back to the simpler times, back to when all anyone needed to worry about was what activities they were going to do, and what foods they were going to have for dinner. And he knows he can't get that back.. No - not anymore. But he can wish, and wish, and wish with the hope that some day it will come true, even if he knew deep down it would never quite be the same.

    The cold dances upon his fur as paws carry him in a slow walk. It is less often that he comes out, lately - more so in light of everything going on. And perhaps it's not as bad as it was - he can leave his room without feeling his lungs constrict with anxiety, and he can leave for more than just mere moments before wishing to return. But still, he's reclusive - not wanting to be met with judging stares and harsher words as he had been before. But he still makes an effort, even if he takes the less-traveled trails when he can. And so, it is no surprise to find him wandering out and about within the crisp air - but to him, it is a surprise to see a gathering group among the mountain.

    The Go Deo pauses in his steps - heart rate jumping anxiously within his chest. Claes stops, and he allows his honeyed gaze to trail over the figures gathered - Icarus, Magnolia, Ichabod. And though part of him wishes to turn back before they can see him, another part pushes him to stay. They've never done anything to hurt me, he notes - and though he hates to even have to consider such a thing at all as he wanders the Kingdom, it is one of the things that gets him, finally, to decide to join them. It is the sight of Icarus and that thought that gives him enough of his unsteady courage to finally wander over - quiet, at first, in his arrival.

    The king steps up alongside the others, not too far from Ichabod but certainly fairly close to Icarus - almost touching - as he would slowly take a seat; idly listening in on the conversation as he turns his gaze to the cold expanse above. And it is for a brief moment that he feels his stomach churn with some faint sense of want that lingers. It's uncomfortable, that feeling sitting there - and so with nerves arising, he flicks his ear; bringing his attention back to those around him in an effort to push it down. "Helios, I hope not~" the fox would hum with faint amusement in response to Magnolia, casting the girl a soft-edged and moonlit smile, before his gaze would move slowly back to the stars streaking and dancing upon the sky. And truthfully - though he had seen something like this before, he didn't know the technical name for it.. and so he'd leave that question to Icarus, but cast Ich a gentle glance.

    "But it's... It's amazing, isn't it?" the fox would venture quietly - words hesitant in their sound, talking to no one in particular among the group of them. Taking in a quiet breath he would shift his paws among the dry soil, laying down close to Rus's side - close enough to just barely touch - as he turned his gaze to the other. A cold breath leaves him as he looks towards the feline - honeyed gaze searching the other's awed and contemplative features as he looked upon the falling meteors and stars. He holds the look for a moment - memorizing the joy that seemed to dance within his eyes and the way he seemed to glow with the warmth of the sun, still, even when drenched in moonlight. And without many other interruptions of thought, he commits it to memory before he forces his eyes away and looks back up to the stars and lights zipping across the sky. I hope you stay this way.

    "speech." & tags

    That was his struggle, was it not? Trying to figure out if he should care about this - about anything - at all. About the way that Mari supposedly spoke about him, about every thing else that had happened between them. He shouldn't, he knows. Because only he knew what he was actually doing to help, and only he knew the crushing weight that rested upon his shoulders. So why should he care what they say? Why should he care of their comments and their ignorance, if they didn't know the strength it took to just get through the day? He wishes to claim he doesn't care, as he picks up the pieces of his shattered sense of self. He wishes to turn a blind eye and decide, suddenly, that he didn't care at all. But the truth was that he did. He cared so, so much - and perhaps that was why this hurt all the worse.

    My words were twisted. Though Claes had grown quiet and his mind distant, he hears the other speak and he feels a want, somewhere within his heart, for an answer. Something more than just claiming it was a misunderstanding, something more than everything being invalidated and shifted into yet another 'you don't understand'. Then what does it mean? The distant plea comes to mind, What does it mean? He just.. he just wanted to understand. If it wasn't what he was told, then what was it? If it wasn't the actual words spoken, then what were they? There was just so much uncertainty, so much confusion and fear, and-

    When I really, really do. Claes could feel the calm that had been fading from him return at the words, and though Marigold looks away Claes finally looks up, his teary eyes wide and searching. There is a brief moment of disbelief - a brief moment of refusal to acknowledge what was said was true. How? He wants to ask. How is that true, if you said those things? How is that true after all of this? But once again he finds himself in a state of dumbfounded silence. There is a part of him that wonders just how selfish he would have to be, to disregard what is said and to push those words down like they don't matter just because he doesn't believe them. And yet there is a part of him that wants to grab those words and believe in them blindly. To trust, to know, to feel what it would be like to be cared for after all he had received in this rotten storm was isolation, and fear, and hate. And maybe that was a selfish option, too - maybe all of it was. But now Claes is hurting, and he is breaking, and he is trying to grasp on to whatever he could to keep himself from drowning, even if it is a vague promise - even if it's a fake one.

    As Marigold continues on - saying something about fulfilling duties, something about outrage - Claes hardly listens. Mind halfway lost between the present reality and the distant (but growing) dread and fear as he felt his heart fighting a losing battle to an oncoming cold - an oncoming apathy. His ears flatten, and he feels his toes curl into the cold ground beneath him - his last attempt at holding on to who he was, holding on to what made him him. This isn't what I wanted. He didn't want to feel nothing - he didn't want to feel his heart so cold. He didn't want this at all - and yet he felt absolutely helpless to stop it. He can see his breath billowing out in front of him, and it is the only movement that catches him and brings him back. His empty gaze flicks to Marigold momentarily during his spiel, and he clenches his teeth as he listens, partially in agony and partially in his growing fear of the hollowness within him. Shut up.. The thought is not bitter, and it is not filled with the pain it was before. It is desparate, and yet it is so simple. Just shut up and come here, come here, come here.

    And he does.

    As soon as Marigold bounds upon the ice, Claes lurches forwards - closing the space between them in a sudden motion. They collide, and it is not at all graceful - but it is raw and meaningful and everything it should be. There is a moment where Claes can feel his breaths - uneven and panicked - rise and fall against the other's chest as they embrace. And he hopes for a moment that it would be enough to stop whatever is happening. It doesn't, and he knows it doesn't - but still he places his paws upon Marigold and he pulls him tighter, closer. Claes lets out a shaky breath, and he tucks his chin further into the other's fur as he uses tender paws to pull him closer, closer, closer to his chest - as if pulling the other to his heart would help to unfreeze it and fill the cracks and gather together the shattered pieces left behind.

    Claes feels his breath rise and fall faster, and with the growing panic all he could do was hold Marigold close. He doesn't.. Helios, he doesn't know that it's even real - he doesn't know if what's happening inside him is real or just temporary, or whatever else. He doesn't know if anything said between them was true - he doesn't know anything at all. But he can feel the other's fur against his own, he can feel the warmth of his skin and the gentle huffs of breath. And he decides, then - that even if nothing else is real, that he will choose to believe that this is. He will choose to believe because he is certain that if he lets this go - whatever it was - that he would only come crashing back to the ground once more. And so he latches onto the knight as if he would be the last one he would ever touch, the last thing he would ever feel - and for the briefest of moments, that is all he would ever need.

    Are you feeling alright, mate..? The words seems like distant echoes, even if they are spoken in his ears. Instinctively, Claes curls towards Marigold more - pressing his head further into his shoulder as if that single action would make the question go away. He didn't want to answer, he feared to. He didn't want Marigold to get worried, and he didn't want to speak it into being true. And Helios, he was so, so tired of worrying about everything, so tired of everything. He couldn't deal with this right now, not on top of everything. And maybe... maybe if he just ignored it, it would go away. It would go away, and he'd be fine, and they'd all go back to normal, like before this all happened. I don't know what's going on. I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared.. Please help me.

    Giving a shiver, the king would relax slowly, at first - his hold reluctant to do even that as he leaned a bit more loosely onto the feline. "I'm.. I'm fine." Each word is soft and sweetly spoken - a bitter lie covered with honey to make it pass easier among the wind. He closes his eyes tight as he steadies himself among Mari, fighting the exhaustion that lingered heavily upon his pelt. He pauses for a moment, and he lets his head lay upon the other as he tries to gather the energy to speak further - to solidify his lie, to solidify he was just fine - just as he always had been. Taking in a sharp breath to try to steady the trembling of his body, he would give a dismissive shake of his head. "I-I'm fine - It's just.. just a little chilly, is all, and-" He begins a weak argument - one he knows he can't back up if questioned further. He shakes his head just slightly, eyes closing. "-and-uhm," Claes stammers as he presses up against the other male. His words are lost, and maybe it's supposed to be a distraction from how bitterly cold all of him had become, but he takes in a sharp breath; cold air hitting colder lungs, and he shifts it, then, into something he truly means - something other than a quick escape from a white lie. "Thank you... thank you for staying, Mari... thank you for staying..." his voice trails off and he feels a twinge of something within his gut - some faint emotion twisting within his heart. But even as much as he wishes to hold onto that faint and fading sense of hope - he finds, now, that it takes everything in him to not collapse into Mari's arms just then and there. And so he leaves it be and he abandons it, and instead he lays his head gently upon the other's shoulder.

    His gaze falls to the floor even as he presses gently upon his knight, and he can feel the growing discomfort within him nagging - demanding attention to the damage done. But instead the vulpine blinks once, twice - pulling himself from the realm of his thoughts by only luck that he was ability to find what was real in his mind at all. Claes gives a small idle hum - a gentle vibration within his chest as he stares for a moment longer, before he turned his tear-stained gaze towards Marigold with a sweet and broken little smile. "How about we.. we go to your house and get that tea, hmm..?" Claes would ask after a moment, a subtle upturn in his voice that barely covered the exhaustion and otherwise monotonous tone it held. Let's get some tea and forget all of this - forget the hurt, the lack of it. Let's just forget everything, except each other. Let's pretend, if we have to. Let's just.. just.. He doesn't know what he wants to happen next - if anything at all.. But he knows he needs something - either to sway the exhaustion away from his paws or to distract him from whatever dreadful feeling had taken hold of him.

    "speech." & tags

    There had been far too much that had gone on in the last two weeks - bitter situations followed by spiteful words, fueled by an anger that was there, but had just then been spoken. It had been accident after accident, misunderstanding after misunderstanding... and truth be told, at this point Claes didn't even know what was true and what wasn't. He didn't know.. he didn't know what to feel, with all of this - and it was terrifying. He always had an idea of what was hurting him - some semblance of what was causing what he was going through, and some idea on how to handle it. He'd always used his heart more than his head - always used his emotions to help make decisions that would affect others. But now... now he didn't know. He was searching for some way to handle this situation - some way to guide himself and others without making things worse and it was just... gone.

    He had begged and begged for everything to end - to longer feel what he was feeling, to no longer feel the pain that was shattering him. But where he once felt a million things he now felt nothing - nothing at all. There was no sadness, no disappointment.. nothing but the faint and oh-so-painfully distant fear for what was happening to him. Because where is heart had so many times before churned with emotions, it now grew eerily, eerily, still. Where he had once felt things so passionately, there was an absence of any passion at all. The passion to love, to learn, to connect, to live.. And, what is happening to me? he questioned so, so many times. And each time he was met with the same deafening answer of you did this to yourself. What, exactly, he didn't know.. but he just.. he wanted to go back.

    The soft call for the meeting rings into the air, and soon after Claes brings his paws closer to the stones in which meetings were held on. He stares for a long moment, his breaths loud in his ears despite how silent they were to everyone else. He swallows the growing discomfort, ears pressing against his head as he finally gives a push upon the ground and steps up towards the dying bonfire. The heat of it - even in its low form - causes some newfound discomfort. But still, he turns his back to it, and stares out into the crowd as they gather. He tries not to make eye contact with any as they trickle in, and instead he keeps his gaze fixated on just one thing until the very last moment.

    "Welcome to the meeting, everyone," his words are optimistic, at best and flat at worst. But in any case, it is much, much better than the last meeting, where he rushed through everything only to retreat. Now, he chooses his words instead of just spewing them, and he is no longer on the brink of tears. Though the rather hollow expression on his face doesn't cover up much, either. "And welcome to all the newer members of the clan! TEAGAN. , ICHABOD. , sageteller , Draegon , magnolia x. , C. BELIVEAU and nen , if any of you have questions, don't be afraid to ask," Claes would give a pause as his gaze traveled over the crowd, and though his voice seemed bright despite his expression before, there was soon a genuine smile that came upon his face, however small, "And lemonlaw -" his smile grows, and he curls his tail around his side, "-welcome back!" Even if Lemon was only visiting, Claes would mention him. Helios, he always would. The other's presence after so long was a blessing with everything going on, and there would never be a moment where he would let himself forget that his (almost boyfriend) friend was back.

    It is clear that Claes's spirits are lifted, even if momentarily - and so he smiles lightly to himself, relishing in the brief moment that his worries were pushed away. It's not long before his smile fades just a little bit as he is reminded of what he needs to be doing, and he takes a deep breath to continue. Shuffling his paws, his honeyed gaze would look out into the crowd just barely, before fixating once more on the spot where no one typically sat once more, avoiding their looks . "For activities this week, Rosemary found some scripts, and Sangria is making some gift baskets for our allies," the king says, before going on, "Boo is stretching out, and they're hosting a.. talking session-" Claes had heard it was more like therapy, but.. truly, he would only know when he got himself over to it. "-and Sangria is also hosting some check-ups, so even if you're not hurt, make sure to stop by just in case." There was rumor with the other medics that some small illness was going around, and.. with everything going on the last thing they needed was everyone to become sick - especially in the winter months.

    The Dawningcrown pauses, for a moment (though not entirely on purpose). His focus is slipping once again- trying to pull him back down to all the instances of the last week, everything that was said. He gulps down the lump growing in his throat, and his paws shuffle upon the stones, growing colder. He blinks and his brows crease as he tries to remember all else what he was supposed to say - anything other than the memories that are trying to come back up. Other activities - weekly tasks, just.. "Everything else will be announced in a moment," the fox muttered after a moment, confusion and a certain level of defeat within his tone. He gives a small shake of his head, trying to clear his mind as he sits further back, letting the rest of the announcements sink in as he tries, once more, to gather all the broken pieces of himself together to go on.

    ack sorry this is so bad but im really pressed on time today!! <3

    "speech." & tags

    Claes could hear Marigold's plea for him to stop. To stop pushing everyone away, to stop crying so much. Perhaps the words weren't said exactly, but even in such a state Claes could pick up the tones of mild frustration and annoyance. But the truth was, that Claes knew he needed to stop this cycle of self-cruelty. He needed to pick up his shattered pieces and get on with life - just like everyone else had. But as much as he tried, he couldn't simply pick himself up. He couldn't gather everything that had fallen apart in such little time - especially not alone. Because no matter how much he tried to push everything down, the hurt still remained. The memories, the pain, the broken friendships and shattered trusts. It was the first time he had felt so much, so personally, all at once. And, just stop, they were telling him. As if what he felt splitting his bones and cracking his heart were just silly little things - as if just stopping everything going on in his head were as easy said as done.

    And though it is not said at all, Claes feels the message resonate within his heart. And further, he is pushed within his growing walls and growing guards. His jaws tense and he tries to keep his breathing steady, but he can't. He feels his control slipping once more, and though he was once able to catch his breath he feels, now, that he can barely find the effort to keep on. There was something that hurt so much more with the reminder that they never cared - that Marigold never cared - in the first place. Why would they care? It's just you. The thought is a harsh product of his own mind - an interjection of the hatred he felt for himself only growing. And this time, he doesn't counter it. It was right, wasn't it? It was just him, and they didn't care. Perhaps once they would have, but not anymore.

    The Go Deo feels his body trembling involuntarily, and though the words subtly begged otherwise of him, he couldn't help the tears that came once again. His head falls, and he closes his eyes tight as he fought with the hurt throbbing in his heart. He tucks himself further away, back pressing against the wall and tail curling defensively around his side as he finds his mind losing more and more traction against all that was swirling within. Keep it together, part of him begs. You have nothing left to lose, another notes. And he doesn't. Maybe he had his title as king (but even that, he was so, so close to giving up. was it worth it?), but no longer did he have his friends, have his family, by his side. What more did he have? What more would he ever have, after this?

    As Marigold speaks, the Dawningcrown's ears flatten and his paws squeeze further upon his head. But he gazes up through his unrelenting tears, and he sees the movement of the feline. His eyes widen, and a spark of fear comes to the mix of the heavy atmosphere. No, no no- He gulps, and he uses the back of his paws to quickly wipe away what was blocking his vision. Frantically, he rises up - afraid for the dear life of everything, that Marigold was moving away, moving to leave. He can't speak, his throat dry and his mind fleeing with the panic that was he going to be left alone again, even if that was all he had begged for. Please don't leave..

    But as soon as Marigold reaches a certain point, he flips back upon his heel and stalks to another - moving throughout the room as he spoke. I was trying to help, Mari was saying. Though truly the words went in one ear and out the other, and the only thing he could focus on was the how terrified he had been that the other's paws would leave the room. He stares emptily, for a moment - his honeyed and worn gaze following the other's agitated steps across the cold ground. He sniffles idly as he half-listens, half-panics; shivering and frail form moving forwards ever-so-subtly.

    "Mari.. Marigold-" Claes starts, voice trembling. His mouth parts, but for a second nothing leaves him. His breath billows in white clouds against the bitter air, and he shudders, his head shaking as he fought back more cries and sobs. "I don't care about what people said about taking over or- or whatever. I-I don't..." the king sputtered out, pausing only to taking a breath and try and find his words, "I don't care about that," Claes breaths out, each word dripping with raw desperation, and a pain that his yelling, before, had covered up. He looks up, trying to find the other's gaze even as he turns away. "I don't care. And..And I'm not even.." I'm not even this upset over you going over there, he wants to finish, I was worried you'd get hurt. I was worried you'd all get hurt, yes. But that's not what hurt me. That's not what hurt me at all. Why can't you see that? He grits his teeth, and he flicks his ear, knowing full-well he couldn't say that - not all of it. Instead, his eyes avert once more, and he takes in quick, hurting breaths. "And Aether.. He didn't... he hasn't even been here. He hasn't been here at all..." there's something that breaks in his voice as he admits that fact - as he admits that during this time, not even his brother was there to help get him back on his feet - nor was he there at all to break the news, or take care of him. Perhaps his brother had been protecting him outwardly... but where was he, as he suffered a torment like no other? Same as Marigold and Sangria - same as everyone else but Witch - gone, somewhere, pretending it wasn't happening at all. "He hasn't been here at all..." he echoes himself, a subtle tone of realization, another layer of pain. And he cries, again, even if he just sits there now, quietly, his tears falling upon an empty face, from hollow eyes.

    "What hurts, Mari.." the king ventured solemnly, . He blinks, and he tries and tries and tries to find the energy - the conviction to his words. But all he finds is something hollow. "What hurts is what you said." His words are quiet, breaking as he slowly moved his head from side to side, eyes just barely looking towards the tabby, before falling away. "I'm not doing enough. I'm a cowardly leader. I'm not fit to lead, because of the way I am..." he feels his own heart shattering as he repeats the words (that weren't exact) that had been playing over and over again within his mind. He says them, now - and he wishes to convey the true hurt they made him feel. The doubt, the fear, the pain they caused. But he says the words, and his voice is empty. And somehow, that is much, much worse. "And that hurts." He says curtly, taking in a sharp breath and casting his gaze upwards as he fought off tears that held nothing but the numb he felt crawling within his heart. "Because I... Because you're my friend. One of my longest-standing friends. And.. a-and when I'm told that you think that I'm- that I'm not doing good enough...?" Especially when I already doubt what I'm doing? His voice trails off as his voice trembles, and he forces his gaze to the ground, "Nothing compares to that-" he gave a slow, defeated shake of his head, "Nothing." I trusted you. I thought you'd be there for me, even through the worst of it. I thought you'd be there, and that you'd help me. I'm sorry I was wrong.

    Me and Sangria have been talkin' a lot about word choice. The words - supposed to provide an excuse, and something to fall back upon, cause Claes to blink. He tries his best to push away the pain of knowing that Sangria hadn't even bothered to come check on anything - not once. He bites upon the inside of his cheek, and the cold that started with the outside began to seep in. He blinks slowly and he holds his breath - partially ignoring (though not on purpose) what Marigold had said. I've been there for you. I've been there for all of you. And now... now...Now what was he left with? Not family, not friends. Not friends he considered family. It was just... It was just him.

    "Tea...? Y-yeah... Yeah.." The words are uttered more as an after-thought - his gaze is entirely unfocused as he says it - staring plainly and distantly upon the floor. He is quiet; breaths slow to come, each second he takes it in feeling more like a curse, than a blessing. The Dawningcrown blinks, and he doesn't know at what point, but his tears stopped - leaving only the stains of his heart upon his cheeks. He can feel his heart ache that awful ache one last time, until finally he feels the pain lift with a certain involuntary aid - an involuntary push away from everything he felt all at once until he could feel nothing at all. And poor Claes.. He didn't know what was happening. He didn't know what was happening at all. Because through all of this, he was pleading: please just end this misery.And he thought it was working. Helios, he thought it was... But he soon discovered that the hole forming within his chest was anything but comfort, anything but an end to what problems plagued him. He felt nothing - nothing at all. And within moments, this fact was more terrifying than anything.

    He blinks, and he can't even find his gaze moving to Marigold, or anything else. It stays fixated, almost as he had frozen to the floor by his very own doing. He swallows, finally - the only movement from him for a few long minutes. "Marigold?" the call comes out softly, and almost hesitantly the king's blood-shot but now-drying eyes land upon the knight. There is a faint spark of fear that comes within his gut - a sense of dread that something was terribly wrong. But it flees as soon as it comes, and it doesn't show upon his face as he stared over at the other, beckoning him over. "Can you.. Can you come h-here? Please?" His words are barely above a whisper - a quiet plea, a dying wish, as he looked to who was once his friend (was he, anymore?). But despite the tremors in his voice, there is no fear that lingers, no frustration or sadness from before. And so, Claes would try his best to give a soft, hopeful smile despite the hollowness that was buried within his chest. Please hold me, Claes pleaded, please come here.. please... please make me feel..

    It's clear that the worst of the storm is over and passed between fleeting words and broken hearts. But he swore, in that moment as he looked to Marigold, that he'd never felt so utterly and dreadfully alone. What little bit of true heart he had left to show slowly began to seal up in his silence, and with it, all that was left was the cold.

    "speech." & tags

    Claes remembered the bliss that youth held - the wonder in every moment, the suspension of every minute. Truthfully, that wonder was gift to the world that most didn't seem to notice or appreciate. Everyone was always so worried about the bigger picture that more often than not, the little joys went unnoticed. The little ways that the sun captured and early-morning dew drop - or the exciting way bugs scuttled across the ground. Or, even, the wonder and awe that came with finding and exploring some place new. Oh - how wonderful it would be to be able to feel the excitement that came with life once more... Perhaps he'd only lost such wonder and hope recently, at the start of all of this.. but it was a loss that he felt hard nonetheless. There was nothing that hurt quite as much as having hope ripped away, was there?

    Arriving upon quiet paws, Claes would slowly saunter up to his brother's side with fur brushing just barely against his. He would steal a silent glance to him, though now it was nothing more than that. There was almost always a message, lingering behind it. Some sort of smile or little bits of affection and humor. But now it was bleak and boring, and almost as soon as it happened he brought himself to look away, paws shuffling beneath him despite the physical closeness that they shared. Clearing his throat, he gaze would fall to his paws, and an odd look would come across him, nerves growing within his heart. But he took a subtle look towards Irene's adopted kid and pulled whatever was gnawing at him away from his thoughts.

    "Hey there, Draegon," Claes would chime suddenly, a smile brightening across his face (and even though it was forced, it held no indications as such). Slowly lowering himself into a sit, he would give a small hum, and a few quick thumps of his tail upon the ground as he looked towards his best - and first - friend's adoptive child. "What have you been up to?" the king would conclude brightly after a moment, honeyed gaze focusing gently upon the child with interest and intrigue. Truthfully, kids were always up to odd and exciting things - and Claes was sure that Draegon was no exception. So, forcing his worries (whatever they may be) down, he would focus upon the kid, and their interactions - using it almost as a distraction, even if he wanted to get to know Draegon, anyways.

    "speech." & tags

    Family was something that was sacred to Claes - held above all else, even in times of stress and hardship. That much had been proven true - and it continued to stand true - as the family itself faced strains and difficulty. Between Teacuptemptest and Aether, and now with... with what was going on now. Through everything, family always stood, and there was something comforting about that. But even if family was something important to Claes, he had begun lacking in the true meaning ever since he'd extended the term 'family' to the Kingdom. With most of his time devoted to the clan, it was hard to balance visiting everyone and making sure everyone was going alright. Helios - with Aether, even, they had to live together to even keep an eye on one another. But truthfully, with Lethe.. that was where Claes had lacked the most.

    His sister.. His dearest sister - He hadn't seen her in so, so long. Since..since they all first got separated, wasn't it? He hadn't forgotten about her - far from it. He still remembered how they played within the meadow, by the creek. He remembered how, when mother told them to go to bed, they would all still be whispering and giggling. He remembered the games of tag and them all going swimming, and staring at the flowers and the bugs and the butterflies and everything else with such a sense of awe and wonder. And with an aching heart, he just wanted that back. All of his family, just back at home where they could be at peace and nothing could hurt them. Because even if he hadn't talked to some of them in a long, long time - there was always part of him that was burning with the love that they didn't get to show. Even now, even after all of this time.

    A shiver ran through the second eldest spine as he trekked through the desert sands, despite the warmth of the sun dancing upon his back. His steps were quick, this time - wanting to get out and back alone as he had done so many times before. But with each quick step he tried to keep his mind distracted from the anxiety that coursed through it, tried to keep his thoughts away from the dark. It wasn't working - Helios, it wasn't - which was why he just wanted to get home once again. But he kept on. He always did.

    "May I ask how you know Claes and Aether?" The words caught his frantic mind's attention, even from afar - causing his paws to slow and his head to raise as he peered across the desert. First, he spotted Ashe - and though he knew that Ashe had never hated him, he felt hesitant in going over as he usually did. But what finally grasped him was the appearance of his sister.

    Claes would falter as soon as his eyes recognized the familiar margay waiting upon their sand - physically stumbling to a jarring halt. Lethe? There was no mistaking her. Shock and love overriding his fear of talking to anyone else, the young king would bound towards the duo, steps not slowing even as he neared.

    The fox would practically launch himself towards Lethe (forgetting, for a moment, that she might not recognize him in this body), and in a swift motion he would aim to wrap her in a tight, hug - filled with everything from the pain he felt when he first lost her, to the sweet memories of their childhood and all that they played with, to now, their reunion in a time that he needed it the most. And he hugs her - perhaps too tight - and he feels his body curl around hers as it always did when they were kids, even if he was quite a bit bigger now than he was just a pup. He's not entirely sure when it happens, but he knows he's crying. He'd always cried, when he and his siblings were reunited (he had always been the crier of the family, anyways)... but there was something more to this, more to his unspoken sorrow. But a fierce love lingered there, as it always had, and it refused to go away.

    "I love you.." he breaths out finally, words muffled as he held her close, "I love you, I love you, I love you." I always do. He swallows for a moment, and he sniffles as he uses his tail to curl however much it could around them both. He takes a moment to breath, to slow his rapid breaths - and even if they do not slow much, he gets it to where he can speak once more. Tucking his chin to his chest and pressing his head gently against her body, he would take in a shaky inhale, before letting it go. "I missed you, too," he would murmur quietly after a moment, each word softly spoken, just as they always had been. His grip slowly lessens, and almost reluctantly he lets the hug fall away between them, as he moves back to look at her. "Are you.. Are you staying?" Claes would ask after a moment. She might be visiting, or she might have just wandered here by accident.. but Claes wanted her to stay, even if only for a couple days.

    "speech." & tags

    Truthfully, losing the majority of his friends did hurt, even if it wasn't a pain that he felt every day. Not seeing Irene sitting out there with her cheerful smile, not seeing Joshua's subtle smile or sarcastic (but loving) remarks... the reminders of the absence came and went with equal parts sorrow, and equal parts thankfulness that he had them at all. But Lemonlaw... Helios, Lemonlaw was something entirely different. The closest thing he got to non-familial love - the closest of his friends who had seen him at his worst and decided he was worth the effort, anyways. The person that he cried to, and cried with. The one that sacrificed himself in order to save his life when he laid curled up and dying because of the poison that ran through his veins. Lemonlaw was the one that saw everything Claes could be, and was willing to work with it, and accept it, just as Claes accepted him. And truly.. he hadn't found anything like that.

    So of course knowing his best friend - his not-yet-partner - had gone hurt. But Claes couldn't find himself to be mad at him (he never truly could). Even if he didn't have the ability to feel anger, even if he didn't have any true ability to hate, if he could it would certainly never be directed towards him. Because even if Lemonlaw had never truly told him what was going on this time, Claes knew of it somewhat. The first time Lemon had left was to take care of his family, hadn't it been? Claes had always assumed it had been that once more. How could he be angry about that, knowing full well he would drop everything for his friends and family as well? He couldn't. Helios, he couldn't, even if his departure hurt.

    Calloused and cold paws carried Claes in silence and solitude throughout the Kingdom's lands. He spent much of his recent days alone - away, even, from his brother. So it was surprising, even, to see him out and about at all when the threat of having to face his clanmates over recent events were tripled. But nonetheless, the bitter temperatures and darkness of his room were things he needed to get out and get away from, even if only for a few minutes (for air and to keep his own limbs from freezing, more than anything).

    Though it was as he walked - head low and mind absent - that a familiar voice rang throughout the air. Claes looked up, suddenly, using the back of his paw to wipe away what tears had begun to form as he trekked along. Stopping in his tracks, Claes's gaze would narrow in subtle confusion - mind pushing away his troubles as he tried to focus on the voice. Anyone around? That wasn't.. that wasn't a sibling, that wasn't anyone else's but Lemonlaw's.. but he'd been gone, and... Pushing what he thought aside, Claes would turn upon his heel and use what dwindling energy he had to bound up the dune and towards the sound.

    "L-Lemonlaw?" the call is barely audible upon his tongue as he stood upon the crest, breathless and speechless all the same. The Dawningcrown takes a careful step fowards, honeyed gaze focusing upon the coywolf with surprise. There is a moment where something sparks within him - a faint happiness that he had lost once not long ago. He lets out a small breath, and his mouth parts and closes at a loss for words. He's still for a moment longer; needing more time to take in the presence of his friend after everything that had happened.

    He takes a stumbling step forwards, then another - and soon enough he comes rushing towards Lemonlaw. The tears he had just stopped came again, but this time for an entirely different reason. Throwing his arms around him, Claes would practically fall into the other's fluffy fur - a contrast to how his had grown so cold. "Helios.. Helios, Lemonlaw.." his voice wavered and he stammered over his words, paws wrapping around tighter as he sniffled. "Are you..." okay? No - he didn't seem to be hurt. "How..How are you?" Claes would murmur finally, soon after pressing the tip of his nose into the other's fur. He has so many other questions - where were you? how is you family (if he was with them)? - but he didn't have the strength or composure to go on. Because truly, he wanted nothing more than to hug him, and bring him back home. That was all he wanted, even if he could only have it for a day. I miss you. Please stay.

    "speech." & tags

    But wasn't his lack of action an offense itself? Wasn't his inaction the very flaw that was causing his clanmates to lose faith, trust, and respect in him? Because, even if he justified what he was doing with saying it was what he thought was right, it wouldn't change anything, because they all wanted him to change who he was in order to leader. And that, it was becoming obvious, was an offense against the clan, even if not an offense to anyone in particular. His silence went against what everyone wanted, and the leader was supposed to do what everyone wished, were they not? And so, that was a mark - a strike upon the hearts of his people. And truly no amount of explanation would change their new-found and growing hatred for who he had been all along.

    Or, so he thought.

    The sound of claws extending on the nearly-frozen surface made Claes's heart rate grow swifter - anxiety growing with even further misunderstanding as the Knight began to enter his home. The briefest thought of claws being used against him came quick and went quick - a paranoia growing stronger the more he lingered with his thoughts. You're a coward, Piratecrown had said, before drawing his claws right through him - no remorse, no mercy. What was stopping Marigold from doing the same? "S-stop-" Claes tries, voice wavering as he moves further away but slowly shifts to at least be able to look at Marigold, if only out of fear that he wouldn't be able to defend himself if he didn't. It's clear he's harboring more trauma than just words, and memories he had once carefully stored away were now coming to play as well. Which memories, though... only his brother knew, anymore.

    You wouldn't be saying that if you listened to me. The words echo within his mind, and Claes feels his head hang lower between his shoulders, teeth clenching. I wouldn't be saying this if it weren't for you. Another bitter thought, but it slips within his mind before he could find the strength to try and counter it rationally. Shoulders keeping shrugged to his neck, Claes would give a weak shake of his head, paws beneath him growing colder. "Stop, Marigold- Marigold please just... just..." Please just leave me alone, he wants to finish. But the words are tasteless and he can't find the conviction to find them coming off of his tongue. Because even though he's demanded others leave him time and time again, he knew, somewhere in his heart, that he just needed someone to stay.

    Sniffling, Claes would cast his gaze back to the ground, ears pushed flat against his head as he avoided the gaze of his friend. You shouldn't be doing this to yourself. It takes a moment for the words to register, for the meaning to settle in. He blinks and stares almost emptily, his eyes unfocused despite the creases that lined his face. But when they do, Claes feel his heart growing anxious, his mind growing scared. Scared of what? He didn't know. Scared of what he was doing to himself, or scared of the fact that others noticed? Or scared of the fact that others even cared about it - even the man he expected to not? Helios, he didn't know. But he didn't have time to try and figure out the reason behind his sputtering, anxious heart. He falls silent once again.

    By the time that Marigold got done speaking, the tears that Claes had been keeping in begin to fall. He keeps his head down and his chin tucked, though the fact that he's crying again is unmistakeable. The words were meant to be uplifting - meant to give him comfort in a time of trouble and explain the actions taken and fix the things that shattered them. But hearing he had support... the vulpine winces, and he gives a small shake of his head, and then another while his mind chanted what support?

    Dull claws digging into the ground, Claes would feel his jaws tighten as he fought with his rationality and his emotions. Oh, he wanted to scream. To yell, and yell, and yell that what he did wasn't supporting him, that what he did wasn't helping him, either. All it's done is hurt me. All it's done is tear me apart. The worst part is, that he's not wrong, in that aspect. Everything from the rally only provided a catalyst for the hate that was brewing behind closed doors. People he didn't even know hated him before standing up, now, with Mari and voicing that they did, in fact, hate him. How is that support?

    "Support isn't talking behind my back." Though his words were softer before, they grow harder once again as he sat up through the tears and sobs that wracked his body. He lets out a shaking, trembling breath, and he looks around the darkness that lines his room in an attempt to calm down. But, of course, it doesn't entirely work. "And where is it, then?" the words are argumentative in nature, even if Mari is trying to calm things down. Claes had never been argumentative, not once in his life. But now..? He lets out a billowing breath, and things around him growing colder. "Where is my support? I don't get it from.. from my friends, I don't get it from you - I walk outside and-and all I hear are whispers of.. of doubt, and all I get are glares or.. or pitiful looks," he ventured, gulping down cold air surrounding him, "They're not.. they're not even hiding it anymore, are they? They just say it. They j-just show it. They say it, and they hope I hear it." He tries to keep it together, but he feels his heart slipping from beneath him and he feels the room around him threatening to cave in. His breathing quickens, faster than before, and only gets quicker from there.

    "And where are you, when they say t-these things? Where are you?" Claes cries, pain seeping into every letter, every syllable. "Where are you when I'm stuck watching the people I love look at me with disdain? Where are you when I have to try and make sure that someone doesn't get killed that day, and where are you when I'm trying to figure out how to settle it without causing anyone any pain? Where are you when I'm lost? Where are you when I am sitting here contemplating whether I deserve to breath or not? Where are you?" Each thing comes tumbling after the other, only interrupted by sobs of pain and his unspoken miseries. And oh, he has so much more. So many things he could let out.. But he can already feel regret like bile upon his tongue. He doesn't deserve that blame. Marigold doesn't, no matter how much Claes is hurting. No one deserved to be blamed when it was all, in the end, his fault. But it comes anyways, and Claes doesn't know how to stop it. I didn't mean to say that.

    The king's head falls, and soon after he lowers himself fully to the ground, paws reaching and latching onto his temples, claws digging in. His breaths are far too quick to be healthy - close to that of hyperventilating - and he feels his world crashing in on him once more. "I'm sorry," he whispers, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's not your.. It's not your.." he takes in a gulping breath, "-It's not your fault. I'm.. I'm.." He chokes, almost, and he gives a cough as his body tries to slow him down, tries to save him before he takes things too far. For a few moments, there is nothing but him crying, his heart breaking by his own doing, now, instead of theirs. But eventually, he gets enough breath to speak, even if not a lot. "I'm sorry," he whimpers out. He doesn't even know where Marigold is, now - he can't see him through the tears. But Claes searches for him, anyways. "Please don't.. Please don't.." think I hate you. Please don't be hurt. Please don't hurt me. Please don't.. Please don't leave me. I need you to stay.

    "speech." & tags

    holy crap omg!!

    im so happy for you && congrats!! just like what rae said,, im absolutely speechless but i am still so happy and astonished!!!

    i hope everything goes well for you with that!! i'm wishing things like feeling sick get easier for you and, of course, take your time and don't worry about posting!! this is a big life event after all ksjdhf

    i'm so so happy for you && remember we're always here for you!! <33