Featuring Ruibh, Felina, and Rhinestone
Late Winter, Year 760 of the New Age
Silver Vale, Silverthorne
Closing her eyes, the perolino stood at the edge of her thicket. Opening bright blue eyes, staring across the plains towards the snow covered Vale. Long mane twisting in a howling wind, the doe felt an uneasy knot forming in her stomach. It had been longer than usual since Ruibh’s last visit. Eleanor and Pharaoh were curled around one another, fast asleep. They were so at peace, so innocent, her little ones were. Even with her son’s changed knowledge of his heritage, Felina found his willingness not only to forgive, but to persevere and continue to pursue his dreams even more awe inspiring. Taking a deep, steadying breath she wondered about the futures that lay ahead for her little ones. Rhinestone had been very helpful, had offered to do all he could, and it had been much appreciated. The doe had found herself missing the dark roan more and more the longer he was away, and found their home seemed to be missing something when he was away, though his scent lingered in the sleeping place they shared.
Sighing softly, things seemed to be changing. Pharaoh would be 3 years old this coming spring, and Ellie would be approaching a year old herself. How much they both had grown.. Raoh’s frame was just getting bigger and bigger, and Ellie grew like a weed, a beautiful, energetic flame that never seemed to stop going- even when she was resting. Aloe plants adorned all nooks and crannies of her thicket, as well as a variety of other plants for the charms she’d begun to try and practice making. It helped ease the days when they seemed to drag by. Turning back towards the coals that simmered in the hearth, gently blowing on them and allowing them to glow, warmth brushing across her muzzle. Perhaps her blood bay friend would come to visit soon.. Rhi had reluctantly agreed to go get her more Aloe, although he had insisted he was sure she had enough to cover the pale colt from head to hoof twice over. After enough stubborn insistence from her however, the stag had agreed.
The wind had been howling all night, yet her babies slept so peacefully.. Heavy grey clouds streaked the sky, marring the view of the moon. Perhaps they were sleeping so peacefully due to the play and lessons of the day. Manners for Ellie, and sparring for her son- either way it was a lot to be asking of them.. but they had so much ahead they needed to be ready for. All she could do was be the best mother she could be, and hope for the best afterall..
Stepping closer to the familiar thicket, the dark roan had been selfishly keeping his distance but he could not stay away forever. He did have responsibility to his mate, though he knew he couldn’t bring himself to call her that much longer. He loved Felina, he truly did, and he hated himself for it. For what he would have to do. He knew it would break her heart, if she knew the thoughts that were going through his mind. Even if he couldn’t be her mate any long, he was still obligated to protect the doe, and his daughter. As he grew closer, the familiar scent haunted him, a scent which was once welcoming, only left him confused and in turmoil. There was also a different scent now, familiar but still strange- Rhinestone. It was good that the stag came around to check on Felina. He wondered if the stag knew the colt wasn’t pure. The scent gave him mix emotions.
He had made the decision, to hide the colt away from the herd. He would try to convince Fel that it was best for their interests to move her son away from the herd. While it was half true, the colt would be safer away from the vale and the Winterflame, but his suggestion would be more selfish than concerning. If the colt was near the herd, if he were to be burned, the herd would know of his true heritage. They would not looking at him as a traitor, protecting those not immune to the flame. He might lose his position as a soldier… or worse, be forced to proceed with his duties and murder the only son he’s ever had. Felina would never forgive him. She would never let him see Eleanor again.
The doe stood at the entrance of the thicket as he grew closer, the expression of happiness ached in his heart. Gods, she was lovely. Taking a deep breath, he proceeding forward. “Hello Felina.” His words sounded colder than he ever wanted them to. He didn’t reach out to return her touch, “I can’t stay long, I just wanted to check in. To see how Eleanor is doing.” He paused, he couldn’t ignore what needed to be said, “We also need to speak about Pharaoh.”
The snows had begun to melt slowly but surely… In just a few more weeks or so it’d probably be completely gone. New, green shoots of grass peeked out of the earth, a promise that food would become abundant and delicious once more. A few birds had already returned from their migration although most would not arrive for a few more weeks at the earliest…yet, some birdsong was better than little to none.
Rhinestone was out herb-hunting, something he was beginning to find himself doing more and more. Just about everytime he went to visit the perlino doe she always asked him to pick something up for her to bring on his next visit. The majority of times it was aloe that she was after. The velvety green plant was an excellent herb to use for burns, serving as both an antiseptic and a pain killer. The majority of Silverthorne’s inhabitants had no use for aloe.. They couldn’t suffer from burns. However Felina’s young son, Pharaoh, was different… He was not of pure blood and was just as flammable as the Vale’s grasses in summer. It was hard, watching Felina fret the way she did. Her thicket was piled high with aloe tucked in every crevice and corner one could find… it was practically overflowing… but, Rhine just couldn’t tell the doe no.
Ah, there it was! He’d spotted it in a small clump nearby. Dropping his head low the stag acted as if he was seeking some tasty shoots of grass and not heading for the aloe on purpose.. Rhine had had many a fireball thrown at him before due to his burns- which had been caused by boiling water, not flame mind you- and if he was spotting picking aloe plants he’d be judged even more than he already was… It definitely would hurt his image.
After sneakily plucking some leaves off of the plant, not wanting to leave it too bare, the stag slipped them into the little pouch Felina had given him specifically for herb-gathering. Now, off to see Felina herself.
The coldness she received from her mate had the doe flinched, blue eyes widening with hurt. Blinking up at Ruibh, listening to the dark soldier’s words, then towards her little one. “Eleanor has been well.. She’s been asking why you’ve been away so long. Is everything alright, Ru?” Fel asked gently, hoping that he was okay. Something seemed so wrong- and then he asked to speak to her about her son. A nervous fluttering of butterflies soon seemed to turn into boulders in the pit of her stomach, tail curling and unfurling behind her. The way he spoke of their son.. It didn’t feel right. Something felt so very wrong. So wrong. Glancing from her fawns to Ruibh, the doe’s nose tucked in, assuming the position of the lady she was meant to be. Ru was her mate, he would never hurt her or her little ones- never do anything to hurt them in any way, right? The dark soldier smelled so safe and familiar, but he had flinched from her touch.. had she done something wrong? Felina’s ears flicked back towards her neck.
“What is it?” She asked softly, taking a deep, steadying breath. Her head seemed to be spinning. Looking up at the stag she’d come to love so very much with kind blue eyes, hoping he would return the gaze with the same warmth he normally did when he looked at her. Standing between Ru and their little ones, casting a loving glance over one slender shoulder, before the perolino returned to looking at Ru, her voice carefully kept low. “They both just fell asleep..” Fel gave a hesitant little smile, hoping things wouldn’t be wrong. Why was he behaving like this..? This wasn’t the Ruibh she’d come to love so. What had she done? Why was he asking about his adopted son in that tone? Thoughts swam wildly through the doe’s mind. The faint lingering scent of Rhinestone hit her like a cavelion. When would the blood bay stag be back? Was Ruibh angry about Rhi?
Fel couldn’t understand what was happening, and it was terrifying. But she would not let anyone hurt her little ones. The doe would have withstood a thousand Blackwood Raiders for her little ones. Whatever storms lay ahead, she would bear them as a daughter of Grian. The perolino had not been built to break, she would be strong- if not for herself, for her little ones, or do her best to be so.
The hurt the dark stag saw in his doe’s eyes nearly made him change his mind as to why they need to speak of her son. He knew this wouldn’t be easy, that is why he had taken so long to tell her. He wasn’t sure how she would react or if she’d even agree to leave the home they had built here. Her voice was the same soft comforting tone he had come to love, her blue eyes bore into him and he couldn’t help but return her gaze. He could see the slight bit of worry, or even fear. Knowing he had put it there only made his heart ache.
He took notice of how she positioned herself between him and the children. She thought he was going to hurt them… would he even be capable? He didn’t know. He hoped not. The thought of anyone harming his daughter was unthinkable. But Raoh… Could he stand by and allow someone to hurt him? He couldn’t say. Supposed that wasn’t an option any longer.
This distance wasn’t just for himself. He knew that. Building a wall between himself and the family he had come to love would make his betrayal easier, if it were to ever come to that. But it didn’t make it any easier. Taking a look at his sleeping daughter, he spoke quietly, “I’ve had much to think about. There has been rumors that I am close to a promotion, after the incident with Mulax. The generals have been looking to the ranks to replace two of our generals, my name had been mentioned.”
He paused as the sleeping filly began to stir, lowering his voice and stepping away slightly not wanting to wake her. “It’s not safe here. Raoh is not safe here. If I receive this promotion, and someone finds out about his - condition - I will not be able to protect him. I will be forced to…” He sighed deeply, “I’m looking for a place. Far enough away from the Winterflame that Raoh will be safe but close enough that you all will not be isolated. I apologize for my harshness. I’ve been under a great deal of stress. I know that’s no excuse.” He stopped himself, he must stay strong. Hard. “Just know, I will never harm our daughter or you.” He wished he could include Raoh, but he could no longer protect him.
The red stag started forwards, placing one cloven hoof in front of the other as he went on his way. His long tailed swished along behind him, silvery hair whisking about. The two rubies tied to the base of his tail glinted and glimmered a brilliant crimson in the bright sun that shone down upon Silverthorne.
Rhinestone paid no mind to the other fawnlings about him. His only intentions were to visit Felina and her little family.. He enjoyed spending time with his friend.. He had a lot of catching up to do with her.. so much time had passed. Things were awkward between them at first, considering their past together, but things had begun to improve. Rhine’s feelings were… muddled. He struggled with them every day. He couldn’t help the old emotions that bubbled up inside him when he looked at the perlino doe.. He didn’t know what to do.. the only thing that he could do was suppress them. There was no way he could tell Felina how he felt… and she didn’t feel the same. She had a mate now… Everything had changed.
Rhine bit back a soft sigh, speeding into a trot and shaking his head as if to forcibly clear his thoughts. Now wasn’t the time to be dwelling on these things. Felina would pick up on his turmoil and then he’d have a hard time explaining himself.. He’d have to lie to cover his feelings up.. and lies only caused trouble and pain in the long run.
Rhine slowed now as he neared Felina’s thicket, ears flicking forwards. As he rounded a tree he nearly called out to her- until he saw that she was busy talking to Ruibh. It wasn’t often that Rhine saw the roan stag.. Ruibh was a soldier, he was often busy. Not wanting to intrude Rhine hung back, far enough away that he couldn’t be too easily noticed and so that he couldn’t hear what was going on.. But, as his eyes flicked back the couple he noticed something… Felina looked distressed… What was going on? The tall red stag didn’t move, not wanting to intrude, but desperately wanting to know what they were talking about that had his friend so upset.
The perolino flinched as if he hit her, the words more of a blow than any physical hit could have made to her. Be strong. Be a proper doe. her mother’s voice echoed in the back of her mind- but how could a mother and mate listen to such words without reaction. Closing her eyes tightly, her ears slicked back against her neck, offering a weak, miserable smile. “C-congrats.. the promotion would be great for you..” her voice cracked, and inwardly the doe cursed her own weakness. Looking up at him, blue eyes shimmering with tears, before looking away, staring hard at the ground miserably. How could Ruibh disown the colt- a colt he’d called his own son.. The thought of explaining this to Pharaoh, who thought the world of the dark soldier whom he’d come to love as a father- disowning him, threatening his safety because of circumstances the pale coated colt couldn’t control? It was almost unbearable. Struggling to keep her composure, the mixture of emotions seeming like a whole nother hell. Betrayal, hurt, disbelief, anger.. Felina wanted to stand her ground, to fight, to keep her babies safe. Tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes- but no. He would not get to see that weakness. Turning abruptly away from him, tail curled tightly against her side, face turned towards the hearth of their- her home.
The one ally she’d thought she’d had in this world, her lover, the father of her fawn.. The doe hardly recognized her own voice when it left her maw, or the cold emptiness that echoed in it. Fel’s voice was so soft, so empty, it scarcely sounded like the kind, jovial warm doe that the perolino was, the ever proper lady. Whole body tensed, holding onto the emotions that threatened to rack her body with sobs as she turned towards her little ones. Quietly, the doe continued to push her own strength further and further, refusing to bow under the pain. She would not break in front of him. He had been her hope, already the pain seemed to be shattering her, dragging her back to memories she thought had been lay to rest long ago. Offering him a weak smile, tears rolling down her cheeks as the words escaped her. “T-thank you for taking care of us.” Looking at the little ones lying so peacefully, fast asleep.. Unaware how their lives were about to change so much.. “I would prefer to seek a place of my own.. please.” Her nose tucked towards her chest, neck graced despite the tears shimmering against her creamy colored cheeks. “It’s okay.. You’ve been incredibly stressed.. I understand..” Fel offered a broken smile once more, her tail curled tightly about her body, voice barely heard. It didn’t matter how much the doe might have missed him- he was pushing them away, making them leave. He was ashamed of Pharaoh, threatened by him. The guilt of being tainted took an unexpected recurrence, and there was nothing more that the doe wanted to do than chase away all the dangers of the world from her fawns- no matter the danger’s forms.
Taking half a step back, the perolino glanced to her daughter and son. Looking back to Ru, taking a deep breathing and smelling the faint scent of Rhi. Glancing past the roan, her eyes focused on the dark reddish form of her longtime friend. Was it fair to call the ones who betrayed her and hurt her so friends, to give them her love? Closing her eyes, looking away from the stags to turn towards her little ones. Ellie thought the world of the soldier pushing them from their home, from his life, and stating he would no longer protect Ellie’s own brother, whom the stag had once called a son.. How would the doe begin to explain such things to her sweet, speckled darling? Or to the colt who believed, trusted and hung on every word Ruibh spoke? An empty voice spoke once more, struggling to push the emotions deeper and deeper. “We have a guest.” How Felina would have prayed to curl into the safety of- of who? She was alone aside her little ones- was she not? Who could she trust now? Herself. Tearstreaks stained the doe’s fur, and her long mane glittered with the fallen tears. Lowering her head to go and nuzzle the fluffy baby down mane of Eleanor, and to gently lick the unruly black mane of her son’s into place, waiting.
The doe’s voice was cold and distant, unfamiliar. Even expectedly, her tone still caught him off guard. His brown frowned, what was he supposed to do? Give up an opportunity that would help all his children. A better position would open up doors for his future sons, better protection for his fawns and does. No soldier is going to allow a general’s child to parish. Better protection for her, for Ellie, even for Raoh. “This promotion will be great for all of us Felina. Better protection for Eleanor.” He growled quietly, “For my children. For you.”
He expected for the doe to get angry but she only had the look of sadness at his words. Her words again were cold. I would prefer to seek a place of my own.. She offered a broken smile, avoiding his eyes. These words made him more angry than he had expected, though he didn’t know why. This was what he wanted wasn’t it? He wanted to distance himself from Pharaoh. To distance himself from Felina. It wasn’t even her deciding to agree with him that made him feel such fury. It was the idea that she might be trying to keep his daughter away from him.
“Fel…” He began but stopped himself as the doe stepped away from him, looking at her children before looking to his face and then glancing past him to the stag he already heard approaching. He didn’t need to turn to know who was watching them, “I know.” His words were beyond irritated. This discussion hadn’t gone as he had expected. He thought it would be easier, or at least more friendly. Nothing seemed to be right. He found himself looking away as the tears began to stream down to the doe’s pale coat.
Why was the stag here anyhow? The thicket reeked of his scent, it was obvious he had been here more often than he would have liked, had their relationship been what it had before. Maybe there was something more going on here. Not wanting to think about it. He frowned and looked back at the silver bay stag, “Rhinestone, you may approach.” He said sternly before looked back to Felina, “Would you like me to leave?”
The red stag’s eyes shifted between the two fawnlings across the clearing. He was confused and concerned… Felina looked so upset. Even at this distance Rhine could see her distress and it was obvious she was trying her absolute hardest not to break down and cry in front of her mate. What was going on? What was wrong? Had someone been hurt? Rhine’s eyes wandered over to the sleeping forms of Felina’s fawns. Neither of them looked hurt..everything seemed to be ok. Perhaps something had happened to one of Felina’s friends? Rhine’s eyes flitted back to Ruibh. The stag looked upset as well and.. very torn.
Rhinestone stepped forwards, ears laying back against his skull with uncertainty. What should he do? Was Ruibh the one upsetting Felina? If he was what was he saying and why was he saying it? Rhine took another step forward, half-tempted to barge into their conversation.. But, that would be rude and Felina would surely be angry at him and it’d only make Ruibh dislike him more than he already did..
Fortunately Felina spotted him, saving him from having to decide. He frowned at her, his gaze questioning. Tears were spilling freely down her cheeks now.. He could see her small body racked with tremors as if she was holding back sobs.
A moment later and Ruibh was telling him to approach. Rhine didn’t like the cold, stern sound the roan stag’s voice held. Something was definitely up between these two.. and he was about to step right into the middle of it.
He walked fowards, coming to a halt near the two, but out of their personal space. “What’s going on?” He questioned, eyes going from Felina to Ruibh. His ears flicked back slightly at Ruibh’s words. Why would the roan stag leave? “Not until you tell me what’s going on here.” the red stag stated bluntly, ears still swept against his skull.
Felina stared at Ruibh as he asked if she would like him , her mate, to leave, almost incredulously. Rhinestone’s ears were slicked against his skull, his voice blunt and hard. Both stags sounded so harsh right now. Glancing at the silver bay stag, then the roan whom she called a mate, the perolino’s blue eyes landed back on the soldier, “You have no reason to leave..” her voice was so soft, so sad. It sounded so foreign to the doe’s ears to hear the voice she normally heard echoing with laughter or warmth to sound so cold and empty. Rhine wanted to know what was going on. She’d known him too long to expect him to simply accept anyone causing her sorrow. Yet the doe didn’t want to fan the flames of anger between the pair of stags- all she wanted right now was the safety of her little ones. Perhaps Ruibh was right- it would be better for their beautiful, speckled daughter. But Fel was still tainted, her son was tainted. Ru’s voice sounded so harsh to her, and it took her strength not to turn away from both of them.
The doe’s ears drooped on either side of the delicate maw, bright blue eyes scanning the thicket as she gazed at her sleeping fawns. “Ruibh was just explaining he might receive the promotion to general, Rhinestone.. It’s nothing to be upset over.. really.” she offered him a sad smile, but the defense of her mate seemed odd to her. Why did the perolino want to protect him so? He was Eleanor’s father- her mate, her love. Rhinestone had no reason to be angry did he? The dark roan was simply trying to protect his fawns and does.. but at the cost of whom? Her first born son. The pale golden, strong, sturdy colt who was “tainted”. It tore her heart to even think of. The beautiful lightly speckled daughter they had created, who already was so keenly focused on the flames, Eleanor had such a bright future ahead of her. Surely many stags would fight for the rights to their little one one day- a true daughter of Grian. But what of her brother? Pharaoh hoped of becoming a soldier, of protecting the weak and offering his services to the herd even with his limits and lack of magic. The colt never gave up. How could Ruibh wish to push their family farther away from the Vale? The colt idolized the soldier soon to be general. How many times had Felina listened happily while the two chattered about patrols, about maneuvers and practicing? Or how many times had the trio played through the snow, offering only love to one another?
It killed the doe to think of her little family- the family she had worked so hard to maintain, to be a good mother, to be a proper doe of Silverthorne, a good mate, and a good doe, everything falling away from her grasp. No. Looking between the stags, she swallowed uncertainly, looking at Ruibh quietly, submissively as a daughter of Grian should. Felina knew her place. Her nose tucked, ever holding the etiquette required of her. “If you would prefer, you are welcome to accompany me to find a new home..” It was a peace offering. Trying so hard to keep things civil even though inside she could hear the sobs and screams dying to be let out. The tears still shimmered in her eyes, and her tail furled and curled nervously. Eleanor mewled in her sleep, and her brother grumbled, fidgeting alongside her.
This night had been so beautiful and peaceful. Dark and light. Balanced. Now everything was falling apart, never to be the same. What would come of the future? Thoughts echoed and rocked through Fel’s mind as she took a deep, steadying breath. Conceal, hold on, be strong, be proper, a doe had no place of power- she must accept this. Hagen had believed in her. Skoll had believed in her- there would be a time and place for everything. She would be strong, gods be damned.
The dark stag looked between the doe and her friend. Why was she not telling him the whole truth about what they were discussing? Why did she now invite him to accompany to find a new home? He stared at the pale doe for a moment before figuring it out. She was doing what was expected of her. To act as a proper doe should act and obey her mate. He did not want this. He had watched his mother do the same thing to his father too many times. He would not be the same kind of stag. “No, Felina, if you are more comfortable with finding some place on your own. You should.”
He turned his attention to the other stag that stood by, obviously confused, “I’d actually like to ask you a favor.” He stepped closer to the stag, “I’m going to be away more often, and will be much more busy. I would like to ask you, if you would be willing to watch over Felina and the children. Also, if it were possible, to help her find a new place, farther from the herd.” He paused unsure if the bay stag was aware of her son’s - affliction.
He stepped closer still, leaning in and speaking quietly, “I know you care about her. I don’t know what history you have but I know it’s more than friendship. I can see that. I just want her to be safe, for the children to be safe. Safe with me is no longer an option. Safety in the Vale is no longer an option. Please just take care of her.”
He stepped away and gave Fel a look, “I’ve got to go. I will come by sometime soon to check in on Eleanor. Tell her that I will be around soon. That I miss her and love her.” His face fell, he felt beaten, even though it was his choices that brought him here. He nudged his forehead against Fel’s gently once more, quietly whispering, “I’m sorry.” Before stepping away.
Rhine stood in silence now as his perlino friend explained to him what the whole situation was about… A promotion.. General? Ruibh was going to become a General? What was so bad about that? The red stag’s brows furrowed as he tried to make sense of all of this until...until his eyes swept over the sleeping Pharaoh. Oh. Pharaoh was a half-breed… If Ruibh became General then the roan couldn’t protect him any more and if the herd found out… he’d have to kill him. Felina’s son wasn’t safe with Ruibh any more… So now they had to leave.
The red stag couldn’t help the anger that bubbled up inside him. The stag was setting aside his lover and his family for a promotion? He was throwing them away for a damn PROMOTION!? The expression in Rhine’s brown eyes turned from confusion to disbelief and then to anger in a heart beat. This was ridiculous.
Rhine’s expression flickered dangerously as Ruibh stepped closer, asking a favor of him. He was asking him favors after kicking his best friend to the curb!? The red stag couldn’t wrap his mind around this madness… but he could not deny the roan soldier stag’s request. “I will watch over Felina and the children.” the blood bay snapped out harshly. “But, I’m not doing it for you.”
The stag’s face contorted at Ruibh’s words. “At one point we were.” he said bluntly, quietly. “But, she is nothing but faithful and in love with you now.” He was biting his tongue against the words he longed to say.. Ruibh had Felina’s heart. He had it wrapped around him… he had what Rhine wanted… and now he was breaking it. He was shattering her precious, fragile heart into a million pieces… and there was nothing that Rhinestone could do about it.