[Trade] Discover The Lost
"Sometimes the most incidental encounters affect a lifetime, especially for the young."
The cool air of the brisk autumnal day was beginning to develop the bite of winter, the dying of plants not diminishing the ethereal beauty of the mist-shrouded forests and mountains of Vitalus. The wondrous land might not have been immune to the turning of seasons, but instead of its splendour fading, it merely changed in tone - the awe-striking majesty remaining strong in the face of the approach of death’s icy grip.
To one very young, amber-hued puller pup, the cooling air and frequent rains were all she knew, having been born on the spookiest of nights. Named after the striking similarity her variegated pelt held to the season she was born in, Autumn was all wide eyes and big paws as she walked outside with her parents for the first time. Her heterochromatic, purple-and-orange gaze took in the fallen, decaying leaves and fading underbrush, the morning mists granting the forest of her home an air of mystery and hidden treasures.
The energetic pup’s attempt to bolt into one of the bushes to examine its prickly branches was blocked by her fondly exasperated mother, who gently nudged her child away from the thorns. When she spoke, her words were firm, but kind. “Do not get too close, Autumn, or you will find the bush will not appreciate your curiosity.”
At Autumn’s quizzical look, her mother added, “See its branches? And the short, stubby bits that dot them?” At her daughter’s nod, the adult vayron continued. “Those are thorns, the bush uses those to keep itself safe. It is not able to understand we mean no harm, so you must be careful to not prick yourself on it.”
“Oh…” the young pup understood…mostly. While vayrons matured sooner than most sapient species, Autumn was still very young, and her mind was still figuring out language. But her mother’s tone filled in what her words did not, and so Autumn understood enough.
Not that the understanding was of much help when the young pup promptly forgot all about it, energetically zipping off to play in the leaves under the watchful, protective gazes of her parents. So it was a few hours passed, the young, amber-hued pup with purple paws running and playing about in the cool autumn day, excitedly examining every random hollow log and hole in the ground, and scaring her parents once when she disappeared from their sight for several minutes.
It was during this scare that Autumn found something quite interesting. It was black, and shimmering orange, and very warm, and shaped almost like her, except that it had a smaller head, sleeker body, and the ears, mane, and tail were quite different in shape and length. Having not yet learned that her own species could look very different, Autumn was excited to think that maybe she’d discovered something entirely new, and hurried over to investigate.
Orange eyes opened wide as the variegated, amber-coloured pup shoved her face into his, his ears flicking back briefly at her energetic address of “HI!”
“H-hi?” came the response from the other vayron pup, who seemed to warm the area around him as though he were the nighttime bonfire his pelt resembled. “Who’s you?”
“I am Autumn, and Imma puller-” not that she really understood what that was yet “-and my parents are over there-” they’d always told her to tell people she met where they were, if they weren’t introducing her themselves “-and I am the colour of tree sap!” Or at least, that’s what her parents had told her the word ‘amber’ meant.
“I-I…” the other pup appeared quite overwhelmed, not sure what to make of this energetic little livewire of a lass. “Is-isn’t tree sap supposed to be clear?”
Autumn shrugged. She was still figuring that stuff out. “That’s what my parents told me. They’re really smarts!” That ‘smarts’ was not grammatical was something that, at such a young age, she was oblivious to - and she wouldn’t’ve cared even if she were a grammatical prodigy. Then a thought occurred to her, and she leaned right into the other pup’s face, curiosity driving her to try getting as close a look as possible - the other pup leaning away from her, only to find himself meeting the trunk of the tree behind him.
“Who’s yous?” she asked, their noses almost touching.
“I’m Sunder,” the warm, night-and-flame-coloured pup replied. “I’m a runner and an ‘early spark.’ I…don’ know where my parents are…”
“What’s an ‘early spark’?” Autumn asked, fascinated by this new mystery.
“I-it means my magic came in early…I think…” Sunder replied, sounding rather unsure about this. The air around them heated somewhat, now more akin to a pleasant summer day, instead of a cold snap near the start of winter.
“You have magics?!” Autumn’s eyes went big. “Can I see?! Can I see?!” This ‘Sunder’ thing could do magics?! This is the bestest discovery ever! she thought.
“Uhm… Sure? But move over there-” the midnight-pelted pup pointed a couple feet away with a paw. “I don’t wanna hurt you.”
“Okay!” Autumn promptly got out of the other pup’s personal space, and then sat herself eagerly on one of the many large roots that breached the surface of the earth near the trees. Sunder sighed with relief, now that he had some space, and then thought on how to demonstrate - he’d been frequently asked to by adults, but he wasn’t sure if his usual small flame would be a good idea in this place of dry, dead leaves and dead, fallen wood.
Not that he…was particularly good with any other element, however.
“Stay back from it,” he warned. “I can’t stop it from hurting you if you touch it.”
Autumn nodded to show she understood. Remembering what her mother had said about the bush, she wondered if magic was the same - it didn’t know she didn’t want to hurt it, so it protected itself.
The night-fire-coloured pup focused on the flame of magic that burned within him, and as he breathed out, Sunder brought forth a tiny piece of that inner fire. It was but a truly tiny flame, barely more than what would light a candle’s wick, but it was plenty for Autumn, who watched the whole thing with awe, for she had never before seen fire magic.
“Ooohhh…” the variegated, amber-hued puller pup watched the tiny flame dance in the air, seemingly without fuel. Sunder let her watch it dance, careful to make sure it didn’t get too close to hurt her (or set the forest ablaze), but after some minutes, a smile found its way onto his face.
There was something different and…gratifying, in the innocent, simplistic wonderment in Autumn’s gaze, so different from the various cautions and strict warnings of adults. Sunder was familiar with impressing others, even young as he was, but someone who simply enjoyed a flame for its mere existence was…it was new.
He liked it.
The two pups spent quite a bit of time just like that, Sunder entertaining Autumn with his prodigal fire magic prowess, while being careful to avoid setting their surroundings alight. Though a decent bit older than her, he appreciated the opportunity to take his mind off of how lost he was, and once he got used to her energetic, spontaneous nature, he came to realize that her presence was actually quite pleasant.
Indeed, the two might have spent the whole evening like that, were it not for Autumn’s parents finally finding them and calling out Autumn’s name - fraught with worry for their disappeared daughter.
“Imma over here!” the variegated, amber-hued pup called over, as Sunder extinguished the small flames he’d ignited to dance through the air around the clearing. Autumn, realizing that she must’ve been gone for longer than she’d thought, got up and - with an apologetic look to her new friend - bounded over to her very worried parents.
“Autumn! Are you alright?” her mother asked, nuzzling over her daughter to check her over for injury.
“We were so worried, don’t disappear on us like that!” her father scolded her, but his gentle, worried nudging told Autumn that he wasn’t truly angry with her.
“I sorry for worrying yous,” the fall-born pup told them, feeling bad now for the fact she’d forgotten to tell them where she was. “I was watching Sunder do pretty things with magics!”
“‘Sunder’?” her mother questioned, and with a nod, Autumn lead her parents to where she’d been spending time with the night-and-fire pup. Sunder hadn’t left the clearing, but he was clearly nervous when he saw Autumn’s approaching parents.
“H-hello,” he said, fiery-orange eyes glancing between the two adult vayrons with something that was not quite fear.
“What are you doing out here on your own, young one?” asked Autumn’s father, noting that Sunder could not have been too many months older than Autumn was herself.
“I-I got l-lost,” Sunder replied, not sure if he should tell the whole story or not. Truth was, he’d fallen from one of the tree-to-tree bridges in the forest city of Ebrus, where his parents had chosen to rest for the night on their way to taking him to The Silver Providence to seek advice on how to manage his early sparking. He’d cushioned his fall with the wind, but had gotten thoroughly lost trying to find his way back up, and his wind control was not enough to see him back to the bridge.
“You poor thing,” Autumn’s mother said sympathetically, and then she and her mate exchanged meaningful glances.
“It will get quite cold out here overnight,” Autumn’s father said. “Why don’t you spend the night with us, and we’ll search Ebrus for your parents tomorrow?”
Sunder’s parents had told him not to go with strangers, but…
“It’ll be fun!” Autumn exclaimed, bouncing energetically around all three other vayrons. “We can haves a sleepover! With hot chocolate, and marshed-mallows, and cookies, and-”
“Let him respond, Autumn,” her mother gently chided, amused.
Autumn seemed like a good person, Sunder felt, and if these were her parents… Maybe it was okay? The fire burning within him kept him warm, but he was hungry, and fighting off the cold was making him hungrier. “I… O-okay. Uhm… I’m an early spark, but I can control it. Is that alright?”
“That is fine,” Autumn’s mother reassured him. “Come, let’s get you two out of the cold and something to eat.”
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