Sorry for the long wait, everyone! Jumping into this now! // Edit: Sorry in advance for the novel!
To say he was noticeably late was an understatement. Aksel had been on the far side of the Labyrinth, stalking and patrolling and scent-marking around the pines. He’d been curious to see how many wanderers had passed through on this side of his home, and within the same mindset, so desired to make it clear he was claiming the land for his newfound family. He wanted to keep them safe, away from the danger of the outskirts of their home. News around the Labyrinth spread like a wildfire, and it hadn’t taken but a day to find out that Atalya had given birth. There was something about the new, little life that urged Aksel to push himself to make his home better for the boy, better for all of them. Looking back through his memories, the ones he treasured most had been spent with his biological family. Treasured family ties cut short and severed by loss. The Holt boy vowed to do everything in his power to keep it from happening again in their home.
When the sound called out, it was the familiar chime of Icarus’ voice. But there was something different- something important, and urging. His paws, slow and paced as he glided through the tall and lanky trees, turned around and headed off back home. He pushed his speed, just a bit faster than a gentle jog, but not quite a sprint- trotting back to the place where the howl came from, to the place where it all began. At the forefront of his mind, he felt slight guilt, a thought that plagued him the further towards home he got. His coat was typically rather unkempt and coarse- but today, it was quite out of sorts. Rubbed against the pines, his fur sprouted out in odd places, covered in small patches of sap he’d picked up from the pale bark of the pine trees. The heavy musk of the Labyrinth that he carried now clouded over with the sweet, sticky scent of where he’d been the past couple days. Icarus’ call had seemed rather important, and he would come home the same mess he’d been when he’d first returned to the Labyrinth.
Something about the thought of it, the idea of disappointing his friend, kept him at his own pace rather than rush and hurry about. It wasn’t often that Aksel felt insecure or anxious these days, not since the day he’d come across the grave of his mother. But every so often, especially when he secluded himself even just for a few days time, it would creep back into his soul like a starved, bad habit. It sunk in now, that maybe he wasn’t what his friends thought of him. That maybe he was still that lost, crazed boy who didn’t know more than his own name.
With a deep inhalation, the familiar aroma of the Labyrinth soothed his nerves. He knew more than his own name now. He knew he had Icarus, and Ross, and Opal. He knew there were others who relied on him now to protect their home. He knew he was cared for, despite the history that home had left him with. He knew he was more than he let himself believe, and the fear of shame or rejection seeped slowly out of his pores, drifting into the rushing wind as his pace gathered enough speed to send him into a sprint. Breaking through the trees, his lean and nimble legs rushing over fallen log and twisted root, ducking through every tangled vine and woven bluff, under the familiar canopy of emerald- muscle memory surging his emotions into remembering every reason as to why this was home.
The heavy congregated smells of his family made him smile, and slow as the bodies began to find their way into his field of vision. Someone was talking, and Aksel cupped his ears forward, somehow outstretched even as he neared the group with every stride forward he took.
’...then declare your skills for the Vanguard.’
Icarus. At long last- his friend, and now his Chieftan, claiming their home. Asking their family to claim their home together. Another voice spoke, one that rang with familiarity but not one he could specifically place. In a passing moment, his curiosity was satiated when the wolf declared her own name. Within the line of view now, his steps halting and finding himself a space between Ross and Icarus. Ears erect, perked with excitement, he couldn’t help but chuckle at himself, even out loud, despite how momentous this moment clearly was.
Cerulean lenses wide with joy, and a jest, he tilted his head as he glanced around at the group. “Sorry I’m late! Didn’t miss anything important, did I?” The end of the question almost cut off in his own, gentle laugh. It faded out as he straightened himself out, clearing his throat as he adjusted his posture and tried not to think about the mess his coat was in. The quick mental note lodged itself in the back of his mind that he would need a bath soon.
“I know I’m just catching the last bit of what you said, Ic.” he started, rolling his shoulders and standing up tall with his chest puffed out some, hoping to showcase his pride despite having just interrupted the meeting. “But I know in my heart that I would do anything to be here with you, with all of you, at all.” he paused, his eyes flitting to each individual that stood there. Between Artem and Atalya, down to little Aiden. Across to Epidemic and Kronos. Then just beside him, from two heads over to Opal, then to Ross on his other side, before meeting the amber gaze of his Chieftan.
“This was our home when we were as little as Aiden, and this is where I want my home to be when we’re as old as Solomon. I, Aksel Holt, declare my heart, my compassion, and my protection, to the Twilight Vanguard, and to the Emerald Labyrinth. My allegiance is with everyone who joins us now, who will come to join us later, and to you, Icarus, our Chieftan.”
His paws pushed a step outwards, closer to Icarus, closer to his friend, his brother, his Chieftan. A small, forward movement as if he were saying with his feet that he was here, and he was staying here.
Feb 15, 2018 05:28 PM — Post #15
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