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28th_Stab_Wound OP t1_jdw1j5d wrote

Between spindly trees and worn stones, snow falls in the forest. On the ivory white ground, there are the footsteps of three siblings, stalking the pristine lands.


I watched Anima run ahead, looking about with excitement. She stomped around in the snow, seemingly engrossed by the audible crunch each step made. Simple joy, shining on her face.

"'Anima, what are you doing?'" Cogni asked, stood beside me with his ever stoic inflection.

'I'm having fun, Cogs! Maybe you should try it some time!' she called back. She spun about in the cold conditions, performing almost theatrical flourishes and tricks, though the concept of them would not be coined for another few thousand years.

I groaned, stepping upon a shattered rock and looking ahead at the excited Anima with an exasperated glare.

"There can be a time for fun and games later, Ani. Get back here, there could be anything hiding out there."

Anima paused, pondering for a moment before truding over toward me, a little deflated.

'You're no fun, Forti.' she lamented, stamping impotently into the snow.

I shook my head, sighing in response. "Yes well Ani, we haven't got a catch in a while. The last thing you'd ought to be doing is tiring yourself with your 'playing'."

Cogni nodded, an ever matter-of-fact inflection in his voice. "'Indeed. If I remember correctly, it has been just over four days since our last catch. Most distressing, and certainly not conducive to any unnecessary leisure.'"

Anima grumbled, muttering to herself quietly. '...mother would've let me play.'


I awoke to a strange sight in the night. A cool coat of moonlight shone across the outside, hanging over the forest beyond the cave I sat in. But another light sat beyond the forest trunks and shrubs, piquing my interest, but equally so my concern. It was stark in contrast to the cool blue moon, instead being a warm bath of yellows and oranges, like a second sun.

I struggled to my feet, groggy and tired. Cogni stirred beside me, yawning quietly.

"Hey Cogni. You know where Anima went?"

He looked at me blankly, then looked to the outside of the cave.

"'I know not of the specifics, but I can assume she travelled toward that strange light source.'"

"Helpful as always..."

I steeled my nerves, walking out of the cave and into the cold air, approaching the strange light. It came closer and closer into view, as I swerved from tree to tree, bush to bush.

In the clarity of the light, I saw them. In the open clearing with the smouldering second sun.

Creatures on two feet with pelts across their bodies and sticks in their hands, and beside them was her. Anima, ever curious, ever naive.

I emerged into the clearing, teeth bared and growling. The bipeds got up, looking at me with fear. I could smell it.

Anima looked to me too, eyes wide with shock.

'What are you doing?' she mouthed, looking dead towards me and backing away alongside the furless ones. I simply growled again, taking a step forward to get a better look of the whole place.

There was the bush that had a sun in it in the centre, with a spit hung over it. Aside it, there was a basket sitting amongst the frost and snow, holding... meat.

The smell was distinct, and its sight was rejuvenating. I hardly noticed Cogni arrive onto the scene as I went to investigate the meat stored within the implement. Then Anima stood in my way, huffing indignantly.

'Stop it! Don't take another step toward it!' she warned, keeping her head held high.

"What? What are you trying to do Anima- get out of the way!" I commanded, trying to barge right past her to now avail.

'Stop it and listen to me quickly! I can get us the meat, but you have to listen!'

I paused my advance, taking a step back as I pawed at the snowy ground. The bipeds stood aways back from us, sticks held in anticipation and eyes staring with suspicion.

"Well, what have you got to say?"

She sighed, looking at me earnestly.

'These furless creatures, they have strange practises, and stranger tendencies. But even so, I have found one thing, if I help them in the forest they will give me some of the meat.'

"'Ah, so they seek transaction between our services and their resources? Intriguing, and perhaps a solution to our hunting problem.'" Cogni commented from behind us, stepping further into the clearing.

"C'mon Anima, we're going back to the cave, and you're not going to mess about with any more of these two-legged things."

"'Forti,'" Cogni begged, "'I implore you, consider this proposition. This could prove vital if our own hunting grounds continue to yield no prey. Please, consider it for a moment.'"

I pondered, sniffing in the cold, dry taiga air. I eyed the many figures standing about the place. Was... was this what mother would've wanted for her pups?

And is if she was reading her mind, Anima pleaded one last time. 'Please, Forti. They can help us. It's what mother would've wanted for us, to continue to survive. And if we can do it out there or with these creatures it does not matter.'

I stood there, silent. Thinking over... everything.

I stamped a paw on the ground and nodded, resigned to my decision.

"Let's give it a go then, Anima. See where this goes for us."