With the stars falling overhead, Atlas had begun to make his way north.
He’d spent the night on the road, and by the time he neared his destination, the sky was already beginning to lighten, a pale golden glow heralding dawn. Atlas had been able to enjoy the display in the heavens, even while on the move. By now, though, the lightshow had long-since ended, and the world had reverted to its normal state. A calm sky, songbirds chirping at the first ray of sun.
The way from Falcon Rise to the Brotherhood’s territory wasn’t a terribly long one; however, the appointed meeting spot for the Summit just so happened to be located on the opposite side of Falter Glen. That made for a bit more of a journey. Plodding along through the tangled undergrowth, the Titan felt the corners of his mouth pull back in a frown. Initially, the Shadowed Dell had only been intended as the very first gathering. Valentina had offered to host, and the gully’s location put the representatives from the Alliance and the Evergreen Wolves traveling roughly the same distance.
But the very first Summit hadn’t gone as planned. The Guardian had been absent from the very gathering he’d helped to create, and there’d been a death in the ranks of the Brotherhood. It had all unfolded in a way that Atlas never would have been able to predict. That tragic event — and the tense situation surrounding it — had shattered the Brotherhood’s alliance with the Evergreens. And in light of it, Atlas had resolved to cut ties with Rufus and his kin as well.
Not long after that, Valentina had died.
Atlas felt his chest tighten at the thought of her. It still stung. Not enough to bring him to tears at the bat of an eye, as it once had. But the pain hadn’t faded, and he didn’t imagine it ever would — not entirely.
His steps had started to slow, his paws suddenly heavy.
He folded his ears back and pressed on, forcing his thoughts elsewhere.
The overall plan for the Summit had sort of shifted over time, he realized. Originally, they’d intended to take turns hosting, with each ally offering up their territory for the meeting so that eventually everyone got the opportunity to “stay home” for the event. Now, it seemed, the Dell had become the default setting — not that Atlas would complain, of course. Being more or less the same distance from both Falcon Rise and Wavehaven Gorge, it served as a fair enough meeting point.
As he continued weaving his way through thick brush and around densely-packed trees, Atlas’ thoughts lingered on the Lead Ranger. Even with a longer route to take, there was a chance that Bucky could have beaten him there. Although he’d left shortly after the first glimpse of a falling star the prior evening, he wasn’t the swiftest of travelers. It was entirely possible that a fleet-footed Ranger could have outpaced him.
While it had been some time since he’d last been there, Atlas found the spot easily enough. It was, after all, a great big gaping hole in the ground.
Standing at the lip of the chasm, the Titan paused to look around, as if expecting to see Marzena or Bucky materialize from the shadows at the river-bottom or from the surrounding woods. After a beat or two, he cleared his throat and barked a cursory sort of bark — just to see if anyone was around. The sound of it echoed in the stillness of early morning, bouncing off the walls of the chasm below.
Mar 31, 2018 07:37 PM
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