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Refusing the darknessWinter, Year 755 of the New AgeRefusing the darkness by Jo-san
Oakfern, Swamps at the foot of the Warren
The silver dapple doe stood perched on the giant roots of a tree, reaching down to paw at the murky ground underneath. As two frost-coated sprigs flexed upwards Baily arched her neck down and promptly picked them up between her teeth. She lowered her jaw to her chest, going cross-eyed for a moment as she tried to pinpoint the opening of the empty glass jar around her neck, and dropped them inside. These would have to do.
It had been a most fruitful year in Baily’s field of study. Many new herbs had dotted the Blackwood territory through the seasons, contributing to her mixtures like nothing she could find back in the swamp. Yet here she was again, horn shed and darkening winter coat setting in, distracting herself from the thought of crawling back down under ground. But she knew she had no choice if she wanted to see another summer.
With a flick of a white-rimmed ear, she was alerted to the presence
UnionWinter, Year 757 of the New YearUnion by Jo-san
It was the most bitter freeze of the year. The air bit and burned and turned dewy webs to strings of diamonds. Not for the first time, Cathair was thankful for the thick mane he'd inherited. At least one part of him wasn't in danger of turning to ice and falling off. The weather was even enough that he was glad he'd been avoiding the longer patrols. They would have taken him high into the mountains and left him trudging back down; cold, half-starved, and generally weak as a lamb. In fact, there very well could have been young guards fighting for their lives this very night.
Even as that thought swept over him, he felt a pang of guilt. Who was he to hold his life more dear than those of the stags who'd taken up his accustomed task? Was he being selfish bowing to Baily's pleas that he stay near to the herd? Was he hiding behind the little doe? The well-worn thoughts reappeared weighed down his mind, but one could only consid