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Embracing Autumn


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A Trial of Self Discovery

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All of her life she has been told that you are never finished learning, something she quickly discovered to be true. Her perspective was forever shifting and expanding, and with that came knowledge. Another thing she has always been told is to always be who you want to be; and so she did. A mother is who she aspired to be, and so she found a partner and bore his children. A drui is what she wanted to become. Someone to protect and preserve the balance and nature around her, and so she started the path of a dedicant. For a long while these duties were enough to make her feel content, enough to fill that gap temporarily. Years of servitude and even more of being a wife and a mother brought her happiness, but there was still something missing. There was something more out there, and that she was certain of.

 

Her path started anew, and she sought to learn everything she could. To teach the younger generations. To guide her people and to ensure that their ways were preserved. Even that was not enough to satisfy that strong pulling at her heart. Her true identity is what she sought for, one granted to her by the Aspects. A path of trying to find herself, and so she prayed to them until they deemed her Wildlife. A newfound sense of pride and worth this gave her, but that strong tugging would remain even after. Perhaps she was seeking to find herself by too often trying to find herself in others.

 

 

It wasn’t until the old and sacred secrets of her ancestors were shared with her, that she found hope.

 

“It’s gonna be ok…”

 

The Arvellon was lulled into a state of meditation where a vision began. This is where her new path began and that strong panging within would lead her through.

 

Spring

Spoiler

Her journey started here. In a lush and tall forest made up entirely of healthy stalks of bamboo. This is where her heart brought her to find that missing piece of herself, and it wasn’t long before she did. The deeper she went into that forest, the more of them she discovered. Little auburn colored creatures with darker bellies and pointed ears, similar looking to a raccoon but red. All lounging in trees or eating from the bamboo trees. A few of them were even fighting. She found a multitude of them, but only one of them she had to connect with.

 

They did not enjoy the druid's presence and even greeted her by standing on their hind legs and throwing their clawed paws into the air to make themselves appear bigger and more threatening. She knew better than to tread any further into their territory, as she was outnumbered and did not want to make them angry with her. And so she kept her distance after leaving a single piece of bamboo as a peace offering. She then turned to set up a little nook where she would be spending the next year.

 

 

The first season was spent studying and observing the auburn pandas. Learning what they eat, learning how they behave with one another and on their own. Even in their surroundings. Something that was difficult to do, as most of them made themselves scarce. She made notes on a large leaf she had found, acting as a makeshift journal for her to keep track of her findings. Observing the group of critters for weeks on end made her miss being home. She missed her friends, her family. Aenor. How she missed the familiar feeling of his warm embrace and the joyous sound of his laughter. Thoughts of her sisters crossed her mind, and how she missed enjoying treats with them. Even her students. She even found herself missing people she hardly knew. Here, she just felt alone.

 

 

A few months into the season and that feeling of loneliness endured, despite making a few brief trips back home. She decided to move her little makeshift camp closer to the scattered group of miniature pandas to try and introduce her presence a little more to the critters who learned to ignore her. However, they did not appreciate this. A chorus of twittering and hissing echoed out from the animals and multiple stood on their back paws to once more intimidate the Arvellon. She settled and once more kept her distance from the group. Allowing them to grow used to her being there once more.

 

 

Summer

Spoiler

A crackling chorus of bamboo and rustling leaves rang through the forest early one morn as a hot breeze swept through. Marking the first day of Summer. Those auburn colored critters could not bear the heat, evident by the way they were lazing high in the branches with their legs dangling from each side. The humidity was unbearable, but the Arvellon was used to it. Her skin glistened from the moisture that gathered there, though she thrived from it.

Her studies continued from a distance, still learning from their behavior and mannerisms. What they prefer to eat over what they’re willing to eat. How much they eat and sleep. The different noises they made and what each one appeared to mean. She learned everything about those funny looking red raccoons. Her determination is what drove her, and she quite enjoyed being out here in solitude for a while. The sounds were quite nice, but she still couldn’t help but feel lonely.

 

The faces of her loved ones were always at the forefront of her mind. Especially when she settled in her little nesting spot and watched the pandas from afar. Back home she held meaning to her people. She was Raithean, a priestess, a mentor, a wife, mother, sister. She was someone yet here, to these creatures, she was no one. An outsider merely invading their forest. They hardly acknowledged her presence save for casting brief glances her way to make sure she didn’t pose a threat. She was alone.

 

 

The last few weeks of Summer were gradually coming to an end and those days were spent gathering a plethora of treats for the auburn critters. She gathered what she could find, things she noticed they seemed to enjoy eating. Small stalks of bamboo that had fallen from trees. Berries, mushrooms, acorns. Even a few eggs she’d found in an abandoned nest. With these treats, she’d pile them up at the edge of the boundaries she set between her and those creatures. Silently hoping they’d accept them as a peace offering. The pandas watched the druid each time she did this, but most of them did not seem interested. Yet a singular red panda greedily made its way to the pile once the druid stepped away, taking from the gifted snacks before scurrying up a tree once more.

 

 

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Autumn

Spoiler

Those warmer days came to an end and a cool breeze soon replaced the warmth she grew familiar with. The colors of the leaves soon shifted to match the fur of those auburn critters. They didn’t seem too fond of the cold air and curled up in branches with their tails wrapping around their faces to keep warm. The druid once more moved herself closer to those critters and was once again met with the same hostility. Each time she moved closer, she was careful not to impose on any of the red critters, only this time she didn’t notice a singular one that was hidden in one of the bushes.

Swipe!

 

The feeling of sharp claws were felt slicing across the flesh of her calf. Eliciting a pained hiss from the Arvellon before she flinched and jolted away from the direction it came from. Her gaze sought for the source of the attack yet all she heard was the rustling of grass and fallen leaves as the critter quickly made its escape and scurried up a tree. Its bushy tail was the only thing she saw before the burning sensation drew her attention away from it. 

 

 

The Arvellon took time to tend to her wound before aiming to draw closer to a central point of the pandas. As expected they scurried away or watched from the high branches of trees. All but a singular one who followed behind her, yet still kept to the branches above. Once finding a good center point, she sat down amongst the ocean of red and orange hues. Even with so many beady little eyes watching her from above. Giving her warnings to turn back and leave their territory. She knew this wasn’t a good idea, yet there she would remain.

She no longer wanted to feel like an outsider with these critters, yet she knew she likely always would. Especially as a few of them came down to assault her, with good reason of course. 

 

 

Swipe! 

 

 

A duo of clawed paws once more slice into the flesh of her arm, followed by the sensation of teeth sinking into her leg. A warranted attack from those creatures seeing as the Arvellon welcomed herself so abruptly into their territory. With ichor spilling from her wounds, she sprung to her feet to run away. Back to the edge of the forest once more. For the remainder of the Autumnal season, she would repeat this process. No matter how many times she had to heal those wounds and flee from their attacks. The words of a familiar red-headed woman often encouraged her to continue.

 

 

“It’s gonna be ok…” 

 

 

Winter

Spoiler

The repetitive process of being assaulted and fleeing from the auburn pandas grew tiring, even for them. Once more they learned to adjust to her presence and live around her, often ignoring the druid. All but one who was too curious for its own good. While she was observing them, it too learned to observe her. Whether out of curiosity or because it took a liking to her. Or perhaps it noticed the amount of snacks she always had with her. It too sat in the middle of the forest amongst the others, keeping its distance at first. Watching her with curious beady eyes.

 

That singular panda emitted a sound that took the Arvellon by surprise, one that she didn’t expect to come from a panda of all things. A huff that sounded like a quack. Much akin to a duck. Those little paws were thrown up excitedly once the critter saw the handful of berries she pulled from her pocket. An auburn brow was raised as the Autumnal Chieftain observed the behavior from the animal, and so she allowed a few to roll into the palm of her hand before extending it out to the panda. The creature was hesitant at first but it slowly approached the woman once she sat still long enough and it deemed her safe to approach.

 

 

A furry little paw reaches out to ****** the berries from her palm before scurrying back a few feet and eating them while keeping an eye on her. This continued a few times until the berries were all gone, and the panda seemed unsatisfied by this. The Arvellon rose to her feet to wander around the forest, gathering more berries or whatever she could find. Both for herself and the multitude of pandas living within. That singular panda followed her and even stole the few snacks she dropped without realizing.

 

 

Once the druid discovered that she gained a shadow, she began to spend time with it. Sharing her snacks and even communing with the critter to form a bond with it. That feeling of loneliness slowly began to fade the stronger that connection grew. She finally gained a friend out of the group of hostile pandas. They ate together, explored and foraged together. Sometimes they even curled up to nap together. The critter soon began to follow her wherever she went. All throughout the remaining weeks of Winter.

 

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“Y’know, you make funny noises.” 

 

The Arvellon murmured to that funny little panda while they both wandered through the forest. The panda making excited little squeals as she gathered more berries for them to snack on.

 

“Gonna be sad when I have to return home without ya. Maybe I can bring ya with me, or come visit everyday. I’ve got plenty of time after all.”

 

The critter huffed through its nostrils and accepted the handful of berries she offered to it. That bond created between them became unbreakable. All the wounds she had to endure to finally find what she was looking for made it all worth it. She shared a few final moments with that little critter before she made her way back to the village, covered with various scratches and bruises yet she’d seem content. A final goodbye was murmured to the creature before she departed.

 

“It’s gonna be ok…”

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