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Rahien sighed, stretching his aching muscles and putting down his pick. He rested it on the wall of earth in front of him and knuckled his back. He bent down and hefted another of the rough oak planks, putting it in place. Digging into the hard earth of the hillside was slow going at times, but Rhya and he had been at it for a number of days now. They only were able to work on it here and there between classes and such after all. To be fair, he and Rhya were not alone in their efforts. Others had brought supplies, some had helped dig, while yet others had simply brought nice hot meals just when they were needed. Seeing as the spot he had picked for himself was tucked back away from the most populated areas of the Stedding, having others show up meant people had caught wind and rallied together. Rahien paused to reflect on this last bit. He was thankful for the help without question, but he was not yet comfortable with all the people coming and going. Snow was truly the only one he felt comfortable with, and a part of him mistrusted the others. It was no fault of theirs, anymore than it was the fault of the sun for rising. It was just how it was. He emerged from the hillside, brushing dirt from his hair and reaching out his senses to find Snow. He was greeted with a flood of fond images. She had been off playing with Shadow again, but was on her way back. He made his way back over to the fire and squatted down, warming his hands and tossing a grin at Rhya. “Your turn I guess. I have most of the living area taken care of…” He tapped a spot on the nearby plans. “That fireplace is going to be a pain though. I wish I would have thought through this a bit better.” He shrugged a bit sheepishly. “Then again, building a home in the side of a hill isn’t the easiest thing a person could do…” he let the words hang in the air, their meaning unspoken. Rhya had been a great help to him. She had never once laughed at him, or told him they should give up. She had not abandoned him, even when on the second day he insisted on working through the rain and cold mud after his pick axe broke.
Rahien woke slowly from yet another dream of running with the wolves. He could feel the the wind in his fur, could almost taste the metallic tang of blood on his tongue. He woke up more fully with a start at that thought. He didn't have fur. His head flopped back to the cloak he had been using for his pillow. In the weeks since returning to his family's cottage, Rahien had slept in the kitchen by the wood stove. It was the warmest place in the house with what meager wood he could find and he had grown accustomed to sleeping in the forest and not indoors. He sat up with a sigh and pushed aside the spare cloak he had lain over him for warmth. Poking the sleeping embers with a stick, and adding more wood to the stove he got the fire revived in short order. He set about warming his hands and eating some dried meat, alternatingly washing it down with his waterskin. His last trip away from home had been a few months. Truth be told, he had lost count exactly how long as his return trips to the cottage had been brief and only to replenish supplies the forest surrounding their home could not provide. He stared into the flames... through the flames, and they danced in his eyes as he thought about why his parents had left their home. Pain had driven him away from home, away from his family. He suspected that it was pain that had forced his parents to leave the Cottage. He was angry with them for leaving, angry with himself for staying away so long, angry at the Creator for allowing his siblings to perish. Amidst the anger a familiar image brushed his mind. He had been confused at first by the images that entered his mind. Most of the time they seemed disjointed and jumbled. There were times they made a sort of sense however and one image, group of images really, he had come to recognize every time. The she-wolf stepped into the doorway and looked at him with the golden eyes that mirrored his own. Snow wasn't exactly the image he got from her, it was more than that. It was fresh fallen snow at the breaking of dawn. When the light first broke over the horizon, the moment of illumination. The smell of the Winter wind, The purest white of the unbroken snow. It was all these things and more. She had been the one in the clearing that day, she had been the one to comfort him when he returned to the cottage to find his family gone, and in a way she was like a sister. He could not explain exactly how. Rising to his feet he met her at the door. He knew she would not come into the building as it made her uneasy. She licked his hand and turned to go. Trotting a few steps she glanced back, tongue lolling. Again images flooded his mind and he shook his head. "Not today Snow." With a final look she trotted back into the trees. The images had scared him at first, He had thought he was losing his mind. He still was not entirely sure that he wasn't, but had accepted the fact that sometimes he knew what Snow wanted. For instance that she checked on him every morning, and every time wanted him to leave the cottage and return to the forest with her. He got images from other wolves too. But none so common or familiar as Snow. As he turned back into the home, he caught sight of a piece of wood his father had been working. Picking it up he felt the anger surfacing again. Why hadn't he done something to protect his family? Why didn't he try to understand his pain? All he ever did was tell him it would be ok, that the Wheel wove as the Wheel willed. Tears filled his eyes and he dashed them away angrily. Picking up the ladder back chair he hurled it explosively against the far wall with an anguished cry. Images flooded his mind, almost drowning out his anger someone was coming. Snow felt happy about it although he was not quite sure how he knew that. Just then a figure stepped into the doorway.