Zodiak didn't even look back as he fled from the territory in a frantic search for the missing tsars. ~~come on guys....~~ thoughts raced, legs working overtime to carry him in a full out exertion of muscles across vale. He'd already taken the time to scent closer to the borders, and with the trail firmly wedged in his nostrils he kept his pursuit hot. Breaths flooded from him in rhythmatic flow, like the chugging of a train at full speed or even like a race horse on the final stretch. The only real obsticals he had was vale itself. Trees were easy: weave and go. But when the occational root or low hanging vine caught him up, he'd stumble, scrambling to regain footing and locate the scent once again before launching off. His training in vechnny was showing now as he pushed his endurance to the max. God damn how far had they gone? As the distance grew, so did his anxiety and worry that he'd be too late. It was times like these that he wished he was a bird. The terrain changed and limbs skidded to a halt. The scent grew strong and weak all at once. Rock, it was less clingy than the trees and dirt, and zod was forced to rely more on the scents in the air. Considering the trajectory of the path he'd already taken to get her, he'd slowly shift farther across the rocks. Footing slipped on occation, partly from the terrain but also from his burning legs. He was spent, but pushed on driven by pure emotion. As he rose the incline, nose caught the breeze and there it was, the scent once again. He'd feel a jolt to the chest and push upwards until merged with the gray tones of the rocks was the white fluff of vad. Heart sank to his gut, tail half wagging before going limp, what... was he doing up here? Paws brought him closer, nearly a wolf's distance away, "...Vad...?" hushed voice rasped over with the strain of emotions and exhaustion. There was also a dark chill down his back, hackles bristling... something was wrong.
Vadimir lay on his stomach, front turned to the horizon overlooking the steep abyss in front of him. Below there was nothing but more depth, more darkness. Probably some more rocks at the very bottom. Straight ahead was an endless slew of clear blue sky, pretty as one could ever imagine. At this height the wind was thick and he had to blink often to keep his eyes moistened. Across his front paws lay Drak's body, bloodied at the neck from where he'd bled out. His eyes had been closed, his mouth likewise. Wouldn't be a very honorable way to respect the dead by letting your brother pass on with the 'DURRRRR' face. Just... wasn't very nice, y'know? Vadimir's face was gaunt, drawn, and above all sad. The most profound sadness one could ever see visibly, the kind that made spontaneous tears burst forth, simply from the sheer amount of pain laid out before you. Every so often Vad would bend to lick at Drak's cheek. It'd been so nice, so wonderful to experience the moment they had before it had all ended. But now there was no comfort, no warmth, no nothing. Just a black hole situated at the scentre of his chest, slowly but surely depriving him of all vitality. He took absolutely no notice of Zod when he ascended to the Sky Kingdom, and when he chose to speak his name, Vad only flicked an ear. There would be no words from him, not for a long time. Before finally, slowly. He'd open his maw and say, "Vhen ve vere puppiez, lozt vithout a mozer to care for uz, vithout a fazer to teach uz how to be honorable men. Ve made a promize, to eachozer. Did he ever tell you zat?" He'd not look away from the sky, not away from the endless strip of heaven that remained unfettered by anything. If Zod answered, depending on what he said, Vad would either continue, or fall into silence once again. After all, why explain something he already knew?
Zodiak was quiet, paws slowly shifting quietly over the rock to close the distance between himself and vad. Soon he loomed beside him and gaze caught sight of drak. Throat tightened and he fought against a whine, the pain in his chest depriving him of oxygen. However, more thoughts pressed into mindset. There was blood staining the white fluff around his neck... natural death didn't seem to be the case in this. Did... vad do this? Lip curled but no sound erupted from him. Weakened limbs shook, body growing rigid before slumping to a sit beside the tsar. Drak... Drak drak drak.... the name repeated over and over in his head--shock, pain, anger... all welling up inside him. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, vad spoke. Zod's muzzle would tilt toward him, amber eye trying to focus on his emotional state but with him gazing off, it was hard to tell where he was going with this. "...no...He--" voice broke for a meer second before composure was regained "told me... this was where you gained freedom--the den..." Pained smile crossed his features "it's funny..." his voice seemed to fade off "it's where my life started..." It seemed fate had weaved them all together, sending them on their own adventures until finally ending up back here, where it all started--however this time, united. Head that had drifted to observe the horizon now shifted back "the promise.... What was it?" voice remained soft, quiet, and empty.
Vadimir inhaled the fresh air, yet with each breath it seemed he had less and less need of it. No amount of crystal clear, sweetly cut oxygen would bring his brother back, and the pain of it was more than enough to make him want to stop taking in the stuff entirely. "It vaz. Our hoomanz treated uz like toyz, pitting up againzt each ozer, trainink uz to von day fight ozer dogz und make zem a fortune." On what, Vadimir still, to this day. Had no idea. It was some nasty green stuff that did nothing but get you in trouble. "I know it iz hard to believe, but... Drak und I, ve veren't alvayz like zis. Zere vaz a time, zo long ago... vhen ve could laugh, cry, joke und zmile like ozer children." A dry, pained laugh escaped him. "Zen ve vere conditioned to lock all zoes zings avay, except vith each ozer. It vould be zat day, vhen ve promized..." A sigh interrupted him, tired and heavy as his head sagged. Nose would press into Drak's scruff, Vad's eyes tightly shut. "Zat if ever ve vere to die, it vould be by each ozers teeth. Ve vere immortal, und vould allow no von else to take our lives but our beloved brat...." Slowly eyes would crack open, and he'd return his gaze to the sky. "Drak made me keep my zide of ze promize...." Voice would trail off, nub tail wiggling only just so. He wished his brother would return, as much to beat the crap out of him for being a hypocrite, as much as to be able to hold him again. But there was no express mail to the heavens.... if they would even be admitted to such a place.
Zodiak's face grew taught, feeling anger at vads words. These 'humans' he never had the pleasure of meeting one but from what he heard, they were such horrible creatures. Using other creatures like pawns for their own benefit. Everything in vechnyy made more and more sense in that moment. Being hard on the others, fending off those who would do them harm. It was all love in the end, perhaps even a way to one day get back at the humans for what they did. Zod regretted the days he thought poorly on either one of the tsars, how he thought they were bullying him or just being plain dicks--WELL sometimes they were but everyone has their days. Features perked at the thought of them happy, innocent children enjoying lifes simple pleasures. It was a shame they had locked all that away to be kept a taboo act between blood. Zod had seen glimpses of it; the canines behind the mask of hardened leaders. But he'd long accepted that was to be short lived--moments to cherrish when they happened not wish they happened more. Zod watched vad slump, his own head rested upon forepaws to inch nose closer. light sniff given, if able before tongue slipped between lips to brush over whatever bit of drak he could reach. Half a whine broke through before he'd pull back, head turning to gaze painfully toward the horizon. "Then... You gave him everything he could ask for..." There were a flutter of words wanting to escape, but most seemed unwise to leave his mindset. This was hard--beyond that even. And as hard as it was on zod seeing the king dead, he could only imagine how vad felt. He wanted to help but had no idea how, or if he could. But he would try. Body leaned toward him, muzzle aiming to run through the fur along vads neck. If the act wasn't protested, he'd rub his forhead against the tsar before giving a single lick to his cheek fluff. It was no 'cure all' method, but maybe enough to remind him that his pack was always there for him.
Vadimir was off in his own world, was away in a place he couldn't reconcile with. It wasn't for him, it wasn't the life he wanted. But then, it had never been, ever since he'd been abducted. All of it had been so forced, all of it so hard. It had gotten easier, perhaps. With time, with effort. He'd been able to regain some semblance, some ghost of his past. But it had been a fool's errand, for even as he'd begun to feel like new, Drak had met his demise. He'd managed to survive it once. But twice? How much more would he have to endure? Would he have to lose Zod next, Cinn? Yusef? He'd love to believe he could protect them all, keep them all safe. But he hadn't kept Drak safe, hadn't been able to keep his own flesh and blood from perishing. So what assurances were there, what light was shining into his darkness? Even with the sun overhead, the sky a pale, shimmering blue. There was no light. There was nothing but empty space. Just like the abyss below them. "I'd like to believe zat," Vad would say hopelessly, voice soft. Zod's affections weren't registered, but not because he hadn't wanted to. He was just too numb, numb to every feeling save pain. "Zod," Vad would rise, the action slow and cranky, even if no emotion registered in either his face or voice, save what had already made itself known. "I hate myzelf." Hoo hoo, big surprise there. Well maybe it was to Zod... but to himself, hah. He'd known all his life. "I'd alvayz promized to be zere for Drak, to be hiz zupport, hiz zword, hiz shadow. I failed, zough. I failed more zan vonce. Giving him a proper death iz probably ze only zing I did right by him, ever." True or false, that's how he saw it. "I've failed to be a good brozer, fazer, teacher. But.... I promized I vould live pazt hiz death, und be zere for you durink your reign az Tsar." Vadimir placed his paw on Drak's corpse, his gaze directed downward. "I'm zorry I couldn't have been a better friend to you. I'm zorry for all ze zings I ever did to hurt you. It's ze only vay I knew how to give love... I doubt zat vill ever change. But you are ze Tsar now, und I vant you, und all of Vechnyy to know. You und Drak, vere ze bezt zings zat ever happened to me." He'd then bend down and grab Drak by the scruff, hoisting the limp body partially off the ground, and would give Zod a light, distant nod.
Zodiak focused on vad, studying this shell he stationed beside. It was saddening... seeing him like this. Zod was unsure if the tsar would ever get over his brothers death; enjoy himself again and smile in the memory of his lost brother. Such a thought wasn't even feasible for himself. The thought of the marshmallow king abscent life only cause him a devistating ache that wouldn't numb, it wouldn't wash over. It was painful and he struggled to keep a level head. Light sigh escaped him, it was true, vad had done one of the bravest, loving acts he could have done for drak. Lip curled at his words "don't" as hushed as his voice was, it was, in that moment full of anger. HOW DARE he hate himself--he was wrong-- he'd been a wonderful brother and father. Sure there may have been some hiccups but he never gave up he always tried and the love was clear. He wanted to say no, to protest, but the voicing of his own name pushed the conversation forward. Then the words broke... Tsar. Breathing shifted to a faster rate as he took it in. The reality was having a hard time feeling like much of one--surreal. Whisp of a whine floated up his throat. Nonono don't be sorry dont--your perfect! As he lowered to grab drak, zod would shift forward, pressing into vad to form some three-way hug. Muzzle burried into his neck to usher response to words given in the past "I love you vadi..." He'd sigh, body decompressing as his entire body seemed to tremble. "I promise... To be the best tsar I can...." for drak, for vad, for the pack.
Vadimir"I vill, for once in my life. Do vot I zink iz bezt... und admitting to myzelf zat I've never vonce liked ze perzon I am now, iz a good step in zat direction." Vocals were dead, yet airy. As if he'd accepted everything, all the soul-withering pain and anger. Didn't LIKE it, but he'd accepted it. "I love you too." And he'd mean that, yes. "You could be ze ozer brat I und Drak lozt, zat ve never knew about." Of course it was impossible... they'd been the only boys of the entire litter. But it was nice to imagine that, had any of their siblings survive, and reunited with them. Zod would have been that very surprise they'd been secretly hoping for. When the male came in for a hug, Vad would not move away, but embrace him to the best of his ability. Having Drak in his mouth kiiinda made it difficult, but hell it was a nice thought. All three of them around a card table, playing snaps or poker, drinking booze and ogling women. Yeah... what a nice life that would have been. "I kept my promise..." He'd whisper to himself, though with Zod so near, he'd likely hear him. Jaws gripped tighter on Drak and with a backward push of limbs he'd aim to propel himself back and over the edge of the precipice, taking him and his brother down into the dark depths below. He'd kept his promise. He'd told Zod everything, he'd given him the understanding as to why Vechnyy was what it was. The origin behind it's creation. There was naught more for him to do in this world, but drag the rest of his family and loved ones down with his spiralling emotions. He wouldn't bring the rest of Vechnyy to ruin, so he'd do what Drak did. Remained forever immortal, not even in death do they part.
Zodiak didn't argue his words. Let him get it out and in the open so he can move forward and move on from this tragedy. Upon his embrace and confession of words zod was surprised to hear them in return. Whine escaped him and he'd press harder against vad, burrying face. Zod, compared to the tsar, was still a child. Biologically he was an adult and mature at that; but in this moment he was the child crying to older brother. Make it better, make the pain go away. He knew it would hurt but never expected it to hurt THIS much. Brat. Zod had heard the term countless times but it was reserved between the two. From the first moment he met drak 'stay away from mine brat' his voice echoed in his mind, russian accent and all. He was no longer angered that his own offspring had picked up the language, but honored that they had some connection to the brothers--to drak. Tufts twitched at the whispered voice "huh?" Yeah... you did but what does th--- "Vad?" the sudden shift vadi took left reflexes at bay. For a moment he was unsure of his intentions, having never expected anything like that. Amber eye widened as his body froze with fear and shock. The white kings drifted from sight into the dark abbys and it was only then that action took hold. "VAD!" he barked, rushing to the edge. Chest clenched, he couldn't breathe, like the bears claw was raking over his insides "VAD!" he barked again, snarls and growls now flushing from his system, all the pent anger escaping "VAD!! VADD!!! VADIMIRRR!!!" he roared out to only receive the echoes of his own vocals. "Va--" throat clenched and a whine replaced his words, body slumped against the cool rock to hang his head over the cliff "I--I need you..." Shoulders radiated a trembling sensation that wracked his body, air siphoning unsteadily through nostrils as he curled against the drop zone. He lay there motionless for some time, hoping--praying this was all some horrible dream, that he'd wake up and they'd be in cascades. There was no avalance, there was no bear, Drak was fine vad was fine! More whines poured over the cliff before he finally propped himself on haunches. He promised vad... he'd be the best... but he never expected he'd have to do it alone. Now... he knew how vad felt. Muzzle tilted upward to sing tribute to the fallen Tsars, to signal the new begining, and to vent the pain. When it was done he felt empty, angry...more angry than he expected. Fuckin vad! GET ME ALL EMOTIONAL FOR THAT? He'd just told him he'd be there.. and now he was gone. Lip curled as he snarled at the dark chasm, following with a light smirk before finding muscles and taking his leave. Tawny male drifted down the slope and back toward the woods, unsure of what would happen next.