the future can't be real
#1
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Amadra Skeldgir

The herds were moving, and so Amadra went with them. She had bid her family farewell, not promising a return, but not dismissing the idea either. The good-byes were bittersweet, but Amadra was eager to follow the food. She had a good feeling that others of her kind would follow as well. Everybody needed to eat, and Amadra happened to be the most capable of her clan to leave on her own. Marching onward, she could just barely make out the coast on either side of her, although it was quite off from where she currently was. The slopes to her left and right were sandy and gradual, eventually leading into a hungry, wild ocean.

Beneath Amadra's feet, the ground was coarse, dark sand. This bridge, wherever it led, was new. Her parents nor their grandparents had not seen it before. It seemed to slowly rise out of the ocean until a few months ago, when it seemed to finally be cross-able. That was when the herds began to move, and that was what drove the Skeldgir here now.
#2
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

Inyena was incredibly nervous being here, so far from home, away from her family and the only life she had ever known. They had all agreed to leave, to set up a new kingdom far away in the new world, but somehow, she had been separated from them: her parents, her siblings. She had wandered aimlessly for days, waiting for some sign of them, wondering how they could have become so separated, but they had never shown, and she hadn’t known what else to do. What if she stayed in the same place, waiting for them, but they went on ahead over the land bridge looking for her? With fear in her heart, she walked across the compact sand now, wondering what lay in store for her.

A canid up ahead of her made her feel relieved and nervous all at once. “Hello?” she called out timidly. She wanted to ask if this woman had seen her family, but why would she have? If the woman ahead of her had seen them, wouldn’t she herself have seen them? She took a deep breath, regretting calling out to the woman at all. She just needed to focus on getting across to the new land. From there, maybe should could figure out a more solid plan for getting back to her family.
#3
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Amadra Skeldgir

A voice called out, a meek "hello," that was nearly lost to the rushing wind. Amadra turned slowly, steadily to face the tall, long-legged creature. The tan canine did not look very sturdy, but she'd learned long ago that looks could be (and often were) deceiving. Once she faced the dog, she let her coral eyes rest upon the figure for a moment.

Yes? Ama asked, canting her head to one side. She was eager to keep moving. She was not sure if the bridge would go back to being water, nor did she want to find out while she was in the middle of it. It seemed unlikely, but she was no geographer (or whoever studied these things). She was a born, bred, and raised fighter. A warrior at heart, even if no wars happened come her way.

Eager as she was, she was curious to see what other sorts might be joining her in the rumored Reverie.
#4
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Inyena Osei

Inyena cringed when the woman responded to her, regretting once again having said anything at all. “Nothing,” she replied quickly. “Never mind.” Feeling incredibly awkward now, and not knowing what else to do, she trotted briskly ahead of the coywolf, making a show of scanning the horizon as if she were somehow busy doing something important. She continued trotting along, hoping the woman would just forget about her, as if she had never spoken.

Inyena had been a princess—was still a princess in her own mind—but she’d never been good at receiving others, something royalty were supposed to be good at. Wouldn’t it one day be her job to hear the pleas of others, as her mother and father did? … If they’re still alive?

She shook her head, hard, to dislodge that thought from her mind. Her family was fine. She’d just gotten lost, like the idiot she was. She was not cut out for this royalty business. She’d always been glad of her siblings, for surely one of them would inherit the kingdom, and not her. She couldn’t even talk to people without feeling like her legs would go out from underneath her. She had the physical grace and beauty of royalty, but none of the confidence.
#5
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Amadra Skeldgir

Amadra's eyes widened at the response, then watched as the tall, skinny thing trotted ahead as if that was a normal reaction. Feeling mildly offended, Ama galloped ahead, skidding to a stop before the dog. That was rude, she said matter-of-factly. Not that Ama was going to do anything about it. Fighting was not on her list of things to do today, but she did want an apology. Why would you greet me and then dismiss me? She wanted answers.

Technically, she could have let the whole thing go and trail behind, but Ama was confrontational. And she wanted to know who else was going to be sharing space with her in this brave new world. To deny her that... well, it just seemed silly. Wouldn't this stranger want to know her, too?
#6
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

Inyena drew back quickly at the woman’s sudden approach. Her tail curled around one of her back legs and one paw pulled up into the air and close to her chest as she was halted mid-step. her eyes widened at the woman’s sharp words, so accusatory. Such harshness would never have been tolerated were her family with her, even if Inyena had been rude, even if it had been on purpose.

“I-I’m… sorry,” she stuttered. “I… I didn’t…” She sighed, and then took a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. Her father would be glaring at her for stuttering were he here. Royalty speaks clearly and purposefully, something that would have been helpful earlier and might have prevented this entire confrontation. “I did not mean to be rude to you,” she said slowly, so the words would come out right. “I was going to ask a question and then thought better of it, but I didn’t know what to say after I’d already spoken to you, so I…” She flailed in her mind for some way to end her explanation, but nothing came to mind, so she shrugged helplessly, a most un-princess-like thing to do.
#7
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Amadra Skeldgir

She apologized, which put Ama at ease. At least it wasn't meant to be rude, even if it had been. She gave a soft "hmph," at the reply, although it wasn't an entirely satisfactory explanation. There was enough to go on, though. Well, what was the question? No sense in keeping it now, is there? Ama felt like she was going to have to pry everything out of this dog. She tried to remember if they were all like this, or only the tall, hairless, scrawny ones. It looked like she hadn't eaten for weeks.

There were more questions she wanted to ask, too. What was she doing out here? Was she following the herds, too? (Could she even hunt the herds? Maybe she had to stick to small game.) Was she out here on her own, or with a party? For now, Ama kept those questions unasked.
#8
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

The woman seemed calmed by Inyena’s response which put her more at ease. She was very aware of the fact that she wouldn’t come out on top in any kind of a fight, and that was another reason she hated the idea of moving on without her family. She’d been taught to fight, of course, but had taken none of the lessons to heart. She just didn’t have it in her to harm others. Violence made her queasy. Not to mention finding food. She’d learned to hunt in their desert kingdom, but what if the new world didn’t have the types of prey she was used to? And when she’d hunted, that too had mostly been just for the sake of learning it. Others brought in food, usually. She’d never been tasked with hunting for the sake of actually bringing it in for the kingdom to consume.

The coywolf wanted to know what her question was, and Inyena shrugged again. “I was going to ask if you’ve seen a group who look like me traveling along the land bridge. I… I was separated from my family a few days ago.” She glanced at the woman and then looked away shame-facedly, wondering if she were about to be judged for having lost her own family. She’d be worthy of such judgment, probably. She never seemed to do anything right.
#9
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Amadra Skeldgir

Separated? From her own family? That was a shame, and Ama wondered how it had happened, but she wasn't about to ask. There were any number of ways somebody could end up on their own, without family, although Ama's had been a choice. She didn't want to think what life would be like if she'd been forced to make that decision... or if it was forced upon her unwillingly. The coywolf was still mildly leery of this dog, but at least she felt her mood go from agitated to neutral.

I haven't, she replied. Were you all heading toward Reverie? That's what my folks were calling it. I decided to go there on my own.
#10
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

Inyena was crestfallen at such news. This had been probably another reason she hadn’t really wanted to ask. The chance of the answer being no was high—and indeed the answer had been no. And now Inyena felt utterly helpless. Her head drooped in despair. What was she going to do in the new world all by herself? With no one she knew there to guide her, protect her… love her? Without her family, the idea of going on to the new land seemed pointless, or worse, like she would be abandoning them if she did. She lifted her head enough to turn and look back towards the way she had come. She barely heard the coywolf’s other words.

“Yes,” she finally replied, her voice barely above a whisper. “We were going to all go together. To the new world. To restart.” Each word came out breathily, and Inyena’s gaze remained on the distant shore behind her. “Now I… I don’t know what I’ll do.”
#11
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Amadra Skeldgir

Ama frowned. Sometimes, things didn't work out the way they were planned. If you want, you could tag along with me. Two heads are better than one, and I don't even really know what we're going to find on the other side of this bridge. She hoped it would be the herds. They seemed to have gone that way, and she wasn't sure what she would do if they weren't there to greet her when she arrived. Go home? That seemed silly.

The coywolf wasn't sure how much longer this bridge would go on or how large the land was that lay beyond it. What she did know was that she intended to find out. My name is Amadra Skeldgir. She offered a short bow of her head. There, now they were no longer strangers.
#12
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

’If you want, you could tag along with me.’

The words sounded like a breath of cool air after a swelteringly hot summer day. Inyena turned her head so that she was facing the woman once more, her brown eyes full of hope. “Could I really go with you?” she asked, as if afraid the coywolf would suddenly retract her statement. As if afraid she wasn’t good enough for this stranger. “I would be forever grateful,” she breathed, her tail wagging lightly behind her.

Inyena nodded when Amadra bowed her head, not quite bowing in return but acknowledging the coywolf’s act. Having canids bow to her was something she was used to at home. Amadra didn’t know she was a princess, so such an act might have surprised her, but truth be told, she didn’t even think about it. “I am Princess Inyena Osei,” she said, her voice becoming formal with the introduction. “Of the Kingdom of Shazaria.” Inyena, naïve as she was, had no idea that Amadra probably wouldn’t have any idea who she was or that such a place even existed.
#13
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Amadra Skeldgir

Oh boy, what had she gotten herself into. Now this princess was going on and on about her title. Amadra gritted her teeth, but aside from a slight clench of the jaw, appeared to remain pleasant. This wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but then again, titles like that didn't mean much of anything without a kingdom to rule over. And if Princess Fancy Pants tried to do any lording over Ama, the coywolf could leave the skinny dog to herself. The name itself was a mouthful, and Ama didn't even attempt to pronounce it.

I'll call you Princess, she decided. Short, sweet, and it would remind Amadra where this girl came from. Perhaps it would be even more fitting than her given name.

Shrugging her shoulder to indicate Princess should follow, Ama once again began to jog east. I think there might be some large prey at the end of this bridge. That's what I'm after. The herds have been thinning where I come from, which is why I set out on my own. If they were going to be spending time together, Amadra didn't want it to be a complete bore. Might as well drum up some conversation. Weren't princesses supposed to be good at entertaining their guests?
#14
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

Inyena simply nodded at the idea of Amadra calling her Princess. Only canids within her own family ever addressed her by name, so that made sense to her. Inyena followed behind Amadra without question. She was used to having guards around her who often went ahead and behind to help keep her safe. Indeed, she had lived a sheltered life, a life shattered by the disappearance of prey in and around the kingdom. Originally, they had thought that such a disappearance had only occurred within Shazaria, but runners from nearby alliances had proven otherwise.

“Yes,” Inyena began. “The prey began to disappear from our lands, as well. Of course… prey has always been relatively scarce where we live, in the desert. However, when my family decided to leave, the prey was nearly nonexistent.” She paused, thinking of her family again for perhaps the hundredth time that day. “You… travel alone,” she said slowly. “Where is your family?”
#15
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Amadra Skeldgir

The desert was not a climate Ama could endure for very long. Even with the coyote blood that ran in her veins, she was much more suited to the cold of northern latitudes. Her coat was thick, and she had a comfy layer of fat just beneath her skin. She was made for more chilly biomes. Just as it looked like Princess here was made for the hottest biomes. Ama wondered why they would come here of all places, but she didn't bother to ask. It wasn't her business.

From what Princess said, the prey in her own home had been dwindling in numbers as well. That certainly was concerning. Ama had assumed the scarcity was local, but there was no desert that she had ever been too, so it couldn't have been that local. Takela was a vast place, and she knew that there was much to do and see there (not that she had ever tried). Perhaps the abundance of large predators was finally driving the prey away, now that they had an easy out across the bridge.

They are back home, she replied, I volunteered to leave so they might have enough food amongst those who stayed. It was a noble cause, or so she believed. It would not surprise her if one (or more) of her siblings ended up joining her in Reverie... assuming it was a good place to stay.
#16
Avatar for Inyena Osei

Inyena Osei

Inyena looked at Amadra in a new light after she spoke, assessing her with warm brown eyes. “That was very noble of you,” she told the coywolf softly. She was, of course, unaware of the fact that Amadra, too, thought of it as a noble cause. Inyena wondered rather guiltily whether she would have been able to be as selfless. She was separated from her family, yes, but that had not been by choice. Would she have gone on to Reverie without her family to give them more of a chance of survival back home? Would she have willingly given up her title, her position, her privilege? She couldn’t honestly answer that question. She would have liked to have believed that she would act in a noble fashion to save her own family, but she was weak. Such a thing would have been very difficult—was very difficult.

Inyena sighed, looking at Amadra sadly. “You are braver than me,” she admitted. “I do not think I could have done such a thing willingly. Perhaps this separation from my family is a punishment from the Gods for being so selfish. Of course…” She paused. “We all decided to leave. We were all going to the new land… Reverie. So, I simply cannot know.” She glanced at the sky, shivering as the strong wind from the sea continued to blow across her short desert coat, and internally adjusted her core temperature to keep the chill away. “The Gods work in mysterious ways, yes?”
#17
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Amadra Skeldgir

We can probably wrap up here, unless you wanna keep going! :)

Of course Ama was more brave than this skinny dog (bless her heart). She was Amadra Skeldgir, valkyrie extraordinaire. Ama very much doubted their gods were the same, but she nodded anyway. The sand beneath her feet was beginning to irritate her to some degree. She was used to walking on snow or dirt, but the sand here was coarse and unforgiving. Ama imagined that she would need a good long rest once they were on the mainland.

Thinking there was not much else to say, she let the sound of the lapping waves fill the silence as she marched onward. In the meantime, she pondered on what they might see when they got to the other side. Perhaps they would find Princess's family and Amadra would embark on her own once more.




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