1 year, 7 months ago
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Lukoja had no idea how many years it had been. Years since the Scourge invaded his homeland, years since his tribemates had whispered of killing the loa, years since he and his other had fled the madness that was soon to overtake Zul'Drak and those within it. But he had spent those years in peace with his mate, tucked in an icy cave along the border mountains between Zul'Drak and the Storm Peaks. Beasts were plentiful, and he was careful to cull them in such a way that it remained that way-- only going for the more elder creatures, leaving the younger to breed and repopulate. The cave was soon decorated with all manner of pelt and hide, making it decidedly lavish for two Drakkari that normally would not have had such luxuries as part of the tribe as a whole.

And unfortunately, two eventually became one. A sickness, they'd said, something that ate unseen at their very being from the inside out. He'd watched his beautiful, proud mate eventually diminish into a frail little thing that could barely use their claws to rend flesh, let alone bring the flesh to their mouth to eat. And yet, he found no disgust in this. Surely his tribemates would have killed them, but Lukoja.. no, he cherished them. His lover, his life-mate. He would feed them for as long as they needed him to, help them keep their fur clean and soft, let them leech warmth from his body when their own was no longer capable of producing it. He was unsurprised to find that they eventually passed one night, as they slumbered together for the last time. But even then, he spent such a long time just holding their form, a normally strong hand now shakily petting through that perfect, soft fur. Hours, maybe days. He didn't know then, either. Time-keeping wasn't important, especially in matters such as this.

But even that had to end eventually, as much as he hated to unwrap his arms from around his dead love's body. The grief began in earnest then, but he didn't quite know it-- to him, he was merely respecting and cherishing them, as he delicately worked on cutting free that pelt.. and eventually, his love's skull. Maybe he wasn't coping all too well. But at the same time, what else would he do? Return to the tribe? No, no. Loa, no. He was sure they assumed he was dead, if they even remembered him. He chipped at a wall in the cave with his claws, digging out a hole just large enough to fit the freshly-cleaned skull into. The pelt? Set in his bedding, right where his love used to lay. The rest of the body, unfortunately, was not fit to pick clean.. besides, he wasn't wanting to catch whatever it was that had taken his mate from him. It was given back to nature, the scavengers permitted to have what was left.

The skull would be adorned with tributes, over time. Flakes of gold, little gemstones. Two massive, glittering sapphires were gently set into the sockets. He spoke to it, often. Recounting the day's events, the hunt, the state of the world-- or as much of it as he could see, from their little cave. Sometimes he would pull his wardrums out from the dusty corner he'd tucked them into, and pat out a gentle rhythm that slowly became harsher and louder as the music overtook his soul. Playing for his mate, playing for his own sake. Something to listen to that wasn't the sound of his own voice. And for years, this too, continued.

Until the sky shattered.

He'd heard it happen, and had only ducked his head out of the snow-covered cave once curiousity got the best of him. But would he go inspect it? .. No, it wasn't of concern to him. Not yet, anyway. Not until a short time later, when he awakened to a familiar voice in his fluffy ear.

"You need to let go, Lukoja. You need to live again."

He sat up just in time to see the smiling, ghostly visage of his mate disappear from view. A dream? A hallucination? Or maybe just a trick of the candlelight, warped from the tears that spilled without his consent. He pulled the cared-for pelt up into his lap and pet over it in an almost automatic motion for a few minutes.. and then just stared down at it. He gave a hard blink, to get the tears away, before he spoke.

"... Yes, my love."