A wolf, a cat, well two or three if you counted Asha and Pancakes, and a fox. Orphiel’s spell hid them well among the fora of The Farm and certainly made most of their work easier, but they had only begun to dig up the suffering the creatures had endured.

“Hey, wait up.” Mizuki stopped mid walk, her ears swiveling down as she noticed the rabbit half way down in one of the pools. Her companions stopped and looked back, Lorska letting his canine ears flip back in annoyance. HaKiale, who had simply used his ability to shift into a fox, padded back to the large dark cat as she pawed at the rabbit.

“C’mon get out of the water, you’re soaked.” Her attempt to rouse the rabbit did nothing for the fora and she noticed how far his ribs stuck out, how much his eyes sunk in.

HaKiale dipped his nose down before letting out a sigh. "I don’t think there is anything you can do for him Mizu.”

“Guys?” Lorska, whose snarky look had faded, called out and as they followed his gaze, they could see many more fora lying about, some better fed but further gone, others they knew would not be much longer on this plane.

The Farm had taken not only a physical toll on the fora, but a mental one too.

“We can’t leave them like this.”

They had seen many innocents die, but to put one down was another matter. The mage shifted on her paws for a moment trying to figure out the best way to help, to end their suffering, before setting her jaws around the rabbit’s neck and snapping his spine. Each one they tried to make well, to help them rise to their feet before deciding to help them instead to the other side. By the time the group was done there was nothing left in them. No snark, no usual banter.

Returning to Asha and Orphiel at the Czarina's tent, they were greeted with The Magician’s usual bold and loud voice.

“Ah, there you all are, was starting to wonder if you got lost.”

“We had a detour. Many fora have given up, to the point they no longer seemed to live in what was left of their bodies....We put them down.” Lorska informed him.

“Well, well done ascended! The poor critters have now have open fields and a lot of friends to play with at their new home.”

Perhaps Orphiel was that out of touch with mortals, out of touch with others that he thought the joke appropriate. But he had been socially clueless before and even as he said it Asha’s ears turned pink. They didn’t want a ‘well done’, a pat on the back, a cookie for their troubles, they wanted some respect for the fora they had killed.

The weight of everything, made worse by their latest endeavor made Lorska snap. The large wolf took no time sinking his teeth into the boar with a snarl, never once letting go as the esteemed Tenebrean literally squealed with kicking feet. He got in a few good bites before Asha managed to fight him off Orphiel.

“That is enough Ascended!” Though she tried to use her authority to make him back down, the white cat was met with a bloody snarl as the other two sat back and did nothing. “Go cool down, now! That is an order!”

Lorska seemed to ignore the command for a moment before HaKiale called for him. He let out a huff of air from his nose, spraying a mist of Tenebrean blood and fur across the snow as he turned and joined his companions. They found a place to settle and as Mizuki curled up, lost in her own thoughts, she felt the little fox body of HaKiale sit up against her stomach, and the rough coat of Lorska at her back. Normally she would lash out at him for even touching her, but now wasn’t the time. Besides, she welcomed the warmth, not because she felt the cold but because it warded off the memories of the cold fora.

It had been awhile since the ravages of war had made her upset, and here, now, she was glad for her companions.