Punishment Given

Setting

Survivalist Compound - Ivy Cottage: Front Room - Wauconda, Illinois

The little cottage faces to the north, letting in the best light through the diamond-paned picture window in the northern wall. Centered beneath that window is a claw-footed, camel-backed sofa upholstered with emerald green velvet. Tapestry pillows rest at either end of it for comfort. A colourful rug extends from the front edge of the sofa to end where the kitchen begins. A pair of leather armchairs bookend a pedestal table across from the sofa. Holding down the middle of the carpet is a massive coffee table that displays a collection of candlesticks. Books are stacked up beneath it. Near the northwest corner of the room is the sturdy wooden door that leads out to the garden and the road.
The small fireplace in the west wall has a blackened interior and a smoke-stained mantel. Nothing clutters the mantel's surface between a matched pair of silvery candelabra. Just beyond the fireplace, the south side of the room holds the kitchen. Dark cupboards line the southern end of the western wall. They extend along the southern wall as well, but are broken by a double window above the deep sink with its old-fashioned hand pump. A black, cast iron cookstove sits against the southern end of the eastern wall. The door to the bedroom is nestled between it and the armchairs. A small, round table with four chairs sits mostly in the kitchen atop the polished, wooden floor. Cheerful, golden curtains hang on the kitchen and living room windows and stained glass suncatchers add a splash of colour to the floor in the daytime.

Cast

Ahikam
Auranna
Crystal
Dylan
Forest
Jeremy
Johnothan
Keith
Zack

Scene

Afternoon turned into evening and evening into night as Dylan moved through the snow and the deepening darkness. After a long hunt and a short chase, there was the sweet taste of victory. Well, victory and deer blood. The leopard part of him wanted to drag it up a tree and eat his fill before settling down for the night but both human instincts and some idea of providing for the group overruled that. So for the next hour or so, he dragged the young buck back over snow and across streams, until even the blood stopped flowing from its cooling throat. Dropping the carcass outside the cottage door, he sighs as he realizes that opening doors is not a strong suit of the leopard form. So he knocks. *Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!* The sound of large, padded paws impacting wood. And having done so he crosses back to his dead prey to pose over the body, head held high and tail wrapped around his feet.

Auranna is laying wherever Zack put her earlier. The pantheress has healed what wounds she took before she was knocked unconscious by Dylan's lucky blow. She does stir at the sounds at the door, her tail swishing back and forth a little bit.

After spending some time working on the kitchen cabinets, doing some minor repairs to make them useable again for a short time till he can get the replacements he's been working on in, Forest is now sitting in front of the fireplace with Zack curled up next to him, drinking a beer. At the sound of the whomps on the door he chuckles, having caught the scent of the leopard outside, "Think maybe Dylan wants in."

Zack has been watching Auranna mend and sleep, as he put her a little bit from the fire so that its heat can aid in her healing. He leans back, pushing against Forest lightly. "I'll go let him in. You know maybe we should think about installing a large doggy door." He gets up and opens up the door and sees the leopard and dead deer on the porch, "And he brought dinner… well sort of."

Dylan gives every impression of being entirely self-satisfied. He stretches with 'totally no big deal, I just /happen/ to be right here with a dead dear' kind of nonchalance and then seizes the carcass by the neck and starts to drag it inside. Given the preternatural strength of the pard members, it really isn't that much of a challenge in terms of weight but mass and maneuvering are tricky. Thoughtfully leaving it on the entryway rug, lest it leak, he looks up at the Nimirs and then over to Auranna and makes a shoving motion against the haunch of the deer with one paw. The message is clear. 'This is for everybody!'

Auranna looks up and over at both Zack and then the Forest. She moves a little and lays back down, resting her head on her paws, a calm subdued manner.

Forest laughs as he sees what Dylan brings inside, his beast moving out to press eagerly against Dylan's, approving the meal the leopard provided. He stands up and moves over to stand near Zack, looking down at the carcass, the scent of fresh meat drawing him. Yet duty weighs on his shoulders, "I wish I could join you right now, but I've got to make a phone call first." He pats Zack on the back, then pulls out his phone and moves just a little ways off to make his call.
Zack looks at Forest curiously, but nods. He looks down at the dead deer then at Dylan. "I'll see what I can do… with it… " The small blond picks up the deer like it was nothing and moves it into the kitchen, as he starts to clean it out. It's not exactly something that he has ever done so the job isn't the prettiest piece of carving.

From your phone, Ahikam says, "hello?"

Dylan gives Auranna a bit of a puzzled look at that lack of enthusiasm, blinks and looks away in the feline version of a 'whatever' shrug. Forest's power washing out causes Dylan's back to arch and his eyes to narrow in pleasure, as though the gesture had been physical. When Zack picks up the deer, he doesn't seem to mind. Alphas get the first pick, obviously. But then the knives come out and he pads towards the kitchen with a /highly/ disapproving (if quiet) yowl. He stretches up to lean on the counter with his front paws, watching Zack work and tilts his head to the side, twitches his whiskers and snorts. Really now. /Must/ we bring cooking into this?

Into his phone, Forest can be heard chuckling in the background for a moment before he says, "Ahikam, this is Forest, I'm looking for Crystal." The words clear and precise with a sense of command to it.

Auranna just lays her head down, she really isn't in the mood at the moment for eating, or rather, eating anything that Dylan got, that might be more of it, and she keeps herself subdued still as she lays there.

Forest moves into the kitchen, leaning against the door so he can watch, a grin on his face even as he talks on the phone. "Zack, I don't think he meant for it to be cooked… less enjoyable for the beast that way." His words are kind, even if he is trying not to laugh.

From your phone, Ahikam speaks softly, "i'm not sure she wants, or is ready to speak with you yet, we are having a bit of a rough morning, can i ask what this is about?"

Keith has arrived.

While Zack butchers up the deer, he does not prepare it all for cooking. In fact all the internal organs, except for the heart, are put into a large mixing bowl, well three of them. A couple large chunks of meet are cut off for those who are not in leopard form, the rest is cut into sizable sections. He brings the raw deer back into the main part of the cottage. "I'm aware of that.. I just cut up a bit of it…" He looks at Aura and sets a piece of the meet in front of her. He looks at her and actually orders her, "Eat… You accepted the challenge and lost." He walks the heart over, which is missing two slices, and offers it to Dylan, "I have a cut for Forest and for me… Our due is taken."

Dylan gives a very un-catlike nod to the Raj, decides that railing against cruel fate (and the Nimir-Ra) would be pointless and just settles down to watch, tail curled around his feet neatly and staying out of the way, even if he does lick his chops a few times while waiting. Disconcerting in a leopard. Well, not for present company, obviously. He takes the time to lick at and groom the mostly healed wounds from the aforementioned challenge and then looks surprised as Zack finally speaks. He tilts his head at the command to Aura and then looks away, as as not to be seem to be rubbing it in or gloating and settles down to his own chewy and slightly grizzly (in all senses of the word) meal.

Auranna looks at Zack and there is something more than just that she lost in her eyes but she does paw at the meat and pulls it closer, as she starts to eat. Her tail curls up under her a bit.
Forest continues to talk on the phone, but it's quite obvious he doesn't like what he hears as his beast rises in an angry manner, powerful but kept to himself

Into his phone, Forest 's voice lowers into a strong tone, a command given, "I want you and Crystal at the compound within an hour Ahikam." He doesn't give any chance for argument, he says what he has to say and hangsup.

Keith walks up to the cottage door, entering as alway without knocking. When he does, he sees the scene evolving in front of himself. He looks around wildly curious. "What happened here?" He looks over yonder to Anna, seeming a bit concerned at Anna. "Anna?! Anna, are you alright?!" He walks quickly over before laying eyes onto the seemingly new Dylan. He closes his eyes pushing at the gentleman's energy. Seeming to feel for if he's friendly and accepted. He then hears Forest standing bolt upright at the feel of the Raj's energy. "Wow, sorry Forest for your mood. Did I come at a wrong time?" He looks yonder, curious…

PHONE> You hang up your phone.

Zack quickly fries up the two slices of the heart meat, bringing it still hot to Forest, offering him the larger of the two slices. "Here, Forest, this is for you." He looks over at Keith and pushes his beast out and against him. Zack's energy seems almost more confident and forceful. "Hey, Keith." He shakes his head, "Not a bad time at all." He takes a bite of the stripe of steak. "Aura lost a challenge to our new member.. Keith, this is Dylan.. Dylan, Keith."

Dylan meets Keith's energy with his own, tolerant and somewhat amused now that's been fed and had his hunting skills praised. He nods, again a strangely unfeline gesture and then pads towards the bathroom. An almost dainty gesture of paw slides the door almost shut as he hops into the shower stall, closes the curtain as best he can with his teeth and settles down to change back in the one place in the house he can without making a mess. The process takes a bit and is followed by the sound and smell of hot water and shower products in use as he sluices off the goo.

Auranna looks at Keith and shrugs her feline shoulders. Any wounds are long gone by this point. She just works on eating her food as Zack explains.

With a great deal of pain and effort, Dylan shifts back to his human form.

Jeremy enters through the front door.

Forest closes his cell phone obviously aggitated about something but he pushes it off for now. He looks towards Keith when he comes in and says, "Everything is fine now Keith. Dylan brought us all some dinner." And he gestures to what's left of a deer carcass just inside the door while he starts to tear into his steak that Zack brought him, not bothering with silverware, just tearing into it with his teeth.

Keith looks over at Zack, with a growing smile as he does so. "Hey Zack, I'm glad it's not a horrid time." He then looks over at Dylan bowing his head in greeting. "Well hello there Dylan, I'm Keith, one of the instructors." He then watches as Dylan trots off. "Well I'm glad we've started to develop our pecking order once again." He looks around at the others, obviously a bit more excited than usual. He then looks at the Raj with great respect as he trots over to get himself a slab of meat. He sits at the dining table, also not using silverware. Why dirty something that you don't need?
There the sound of a small motorcycle parking before Jeremy enters the cottage. A mostly shy smile appears on his face as he glances around. "Mind another?"

Zack leans against Forest, putting his hand on the man's chest. "There's no need to be upset right now, Love… " He suspects that may not be true for much longer judging from the half of the phone call he heard. He grins as he sees Jeremy, "Never… Dylan provided dinner." On the table is a platter of barely skillet fried deer steak and the rest of the deer left raw.

Dylan wanders out of the shower with a towel around his waist, smelling clean and looking tired, almost wiped-out, in fact, but fairly cheerful. He looks to Zack and asks, politely, "Ah, did you happen to bring in my clothes, earlier? Or should I go look for them?" Frozen shorts. Not going to be a treat. His expression echoes minor horror at that thought. He looks back over to Keith and says, "Hi, sorry about that. Leopards aren't long on conversational skills." He reaches out to shake hands with Keith, letting his own power reach out to get the 'feel' of the other man's beast and strength if Keith takes his hand. When Jeremy arrives, he smiles faintly and gives the other young man a 'yo!' nod. At Zack's mention of food his stomach growls. Sure he just ate, but that was in /leopard/ form. He heads to the table for a piece of meat. Raw, cooked, whatever.

Auranna takes advantage of Jeremy opening the door to dart outside. The pantheress vanishing into the snow, though not a fleeing type of dart, more like she just plans on changing outside.
The black panthress shifts and changes, her fur fading and skin taking its place, leaving the human woman behind.

Forest smiles when he sees Jeremy come in and holds his hand out to the man, affection in his tone as he speaks, "Hey Jeremy, I didn't know you rode a motorcycle. Going to show it to me sometime?" He nuzzles against Zack, smiling happily at the family about him, his beast moving out in a caress against all within.

Keith looks over at Jeremy's arrival. He stands from his postion at the table before walks over to cheek rub the man. "Hey Jer! I'm sure we'd love a bit more company!" He then looks around at the others seeming to seek a similar expression of welcome. Keith then sees Dylan coming out of the bathroom as his and reaches up to his white gold nacklace. -Two- rings now hang from the chain. One looking slightly tarnished, while the other seems fairly shiny and new. Keith nods at Dylan seeming polite, "Oh don't worry so much. We all understand that one." He then shakes Dylan's hand, assuring his grip is firm. Both men's energy seems to push at one another, Keith's being strong though somehow more complacant than Forest and Zack's might be. Keith then walks back to his plate of steak, sitting and quieting for a bit.

Jeremy moves into the room, staying pretty subdued. He moves to Forest first to give him a greeting and hug. "Its not much of a motorcycle. Yer probably used ta real ones. Has everythin been goin okay?" He gives Keith and Dylan a smile for the moment, still by Forest's side.

Zack watches Auranna head out, hoping that she plans on coming back in. He looks over at Dylan, pointing to a small pile of clothing, including some generic sweat pants and tshirt, "Yeah, I set it over there in the corner… " He settles against Forest happily. His eyes focus on the rings on Keith's necklaces. He cocks his head, "Everything okay, Big Brother?"

Dylan gives Keith another nod and a bit of a searching look, as though marking something down for later and then sighs in relief at the thought of not having to be macho through defrosting underwear, giving
Zack a brief, thankful smile. He heads for the pile of clothes and puts them on with an unaffected casual disregard for privacy, neither hiding or making a show. When the shirt is tugged down tight he flops down on the couch, gnawing on the bit of steak from the table. He looks towards Forest and Zack and says, "I hope you guys don't mind one more tonight. Unless somebody wants to drive me back into town. I think I'm a little wobbly to be driving."

Ahikam enters through the front door.

Crystal has arrived.

Johnothan has arrived.

Inside the cottage is a warm cozy fire and lots of the pard. Forest is standing there, one arm around Zack, the other one bringing Jeremy in for a brief nuzzle and ruffle of hair. On the rug just inside the door is the remains of a deer carcass that the group seems to be having dinner from, some bits of steak and meat on the table. Auranna has run outside in leopard form to shift back to human, Dylan and Keith are at the table. Forest seems to be in much better humor for the moment, his eyes moving to the double rings on Keith's necklace as well, but he lets Zack figure that out. "Well, it's still a motorcycle, maybe we fix it up a bit sometime."

Johnothan's car pulls up outside, and Ahikam and Crystal get out, heading in, Ahikam opens the door to let Crystal in, but moving infront of her, he was not in the best of moods, his beast on edge, and so was he about being commanded down. he was wearing his coat, simple shirt and jeans, and hadn't brought in an overnight bag, glancing around, trying to keep himself calm.

Auranna is just coming back inside and is in human form again. She moves over to get dressed and seems rather quiet at the moment. She glances out the window for a moment.

Keith looks over at Zack, seeming dazed for a second before hopping up to look at Zack and Forest. "Oh, I am doing wonderful!" He fiddles with his new ring on his neck before looking between Zack and Forest. "I know you men said you wanted me to find a nice faithful boy. You two remember that?" He looks hopeful before he speaks again, "Well I think I did, and well…" He looks to be building up suspense as his energy flares excitedly, "Well Elizza asked for my hand on marriage!" Keith then looks over at Dylan listening, though clearly a bit too excited to completely comprehand. He then shifts his eyes back to Forest and Zack. "Nimir-Raj and Nimir-Ra, I would like to make it official in a Pard sense. Can I marry him?" His head then whips over at the entering leopards.

Crystal slinked in keeping close to her mate, she seemed to be walking on eggshells and rather downtrodden, wearing just a simple pair of pajamas under a winter coat this time and looked around fearfully.

Zack smiles as Ahikam and Crystal come in. He pushes his beast out and brushes against them in greeting. He looks at Keith smiling wide. He, however, waits to offer any congratulations until Forest speaks his mind.

Dylan blinks and stops chewing at that little gush of happiness, almost not noticing the other new arrivals. 'Can I marry him?!' coming from a guy was about the last thing he thought he'd ever hear a Nimir Raj and …Ra? Also Raj? … He sighs and rubs his temple a little. The last thing he ever thought he'd hear the Nimirs asked. This town is just too damned complicated sometimes. Sensing a bit of an undercurrent, though, he just shuts up and listens.

Jeremy gives Forest another nuzzle before giving Zack a quickie. He then makes his way over to Dylan and sits on the floor by the new cat.A soft sigh escaping him as he listens to the new events.

Johnothan enters the cottage last, having to turn off the van while the others could just hop out and head in, the scent of donuts and pasteries clinging faintly to him, even licking the fingers of one hand. A tension in his features as he looks at the gathering as he entered, causing him to relax some as he nods and waves, offering a word of greeting to those here. Hanging back a moment or two before greeting Forest and Zack more formally, if possible.

At the sound of the van outside, Forest's attention is drawn to the door, lips pressing together briefly. His hand rubs Zack's back idly as he smiles to Keith, listening to the man speak. A soft chuckle is given and he reaches a hand out to rest on Keith's arm, "We'll talk about this later if that's alright." He's got other, more pressing things to do now. When Ahikam and Ahikam enter he turns his attention to them, an appropriate greeting given to Johnothan before he speaks to the two, gesturing to the back room, "Let's talk." He waits for the two to head that way, his hand on Zack's shoulder, indicating the Ra is to come with him.

Keith's eyes settle on Crystal seeming to produce a smile as he attempts to usher her closer. "Crys come yonder lass, I must ask you a favor." He then looks back at Forest, standing straight seeming to await the Raj's verdict. It's clear that Keith senses Dylan, for his eyes shift over to look briefly at the man as an eyebrow raises. He then realizes where he's looking and Keith's eyes snap back to the Raj once again. Listening he nods, "Yes Forest, I just wanted to be formal."

Auranna looks over at Ahi and Crystal and looks like jshe might almost run over but at Forest's words she doesn't. She moves to settle on the floor near the fire again, watching the others in the room.

Ahikam frowned a bit, his beast curled tight around himself and Crystal, guarded, "you growled us out of bed before breakfast Forest," he glances at Keith, "later Keith, i want to get whatever this is over with and go back home," he offers Auranna a little smile though, an arm slipping around Crystal as he heads with her to the back room.

Crystal looks at Keith and smles faintly with a nod before dipping her head at forest's words and holding tight to Ahi as she followed, her energy jittery at best. "Yes Raj" silently heading with ahi to the back room .

Zack takes a bit of a deep breath and heads on towards the back room. He stops and looks at Ahikam, with a disapproving sigh, as his beast bristle. "Watch your tone, Ahikam… "

Dylan rests a hand on Jeremy's shoulder, unless he ducks away from it, with a quiet, friendly smile and another nod. He murmurs, "Food on the table." When Johnothan enters, his nose wrinkles a little. He can't help it. The sweet smells are a little gross to him. He returns Keith's gaze impassively, with a hint of an arched eyebrow. Ahikam's words get a sideways look but his expression suggests that whatever it is is /sooooo/ not his business. Especially not when Zack chides him.

Keith takes up his steak and nods at Forest as he scuddles out of the way. He looks over at Crystal waving, "Maybe later then…" He then looks at Ahi seeming a bit defensive, though he doesn't say anything. Keith makes his way over to settle next to Anna. He nibbles at his steak seeming content with keeping quiet and eating for now. Though oddly, his ears perk up. Is he eavesdropping?!

Survivalist Compound - Ivy Cottage: Back Room - Wauconda, Illinois

The polished wooden floor is both warmed and softened by a pale rug decorated with a pattern of flowers and ribbons in shades of blue and green. A tremendous armoire of dark wood sits against the south wall to the west. The door to the bath is further along the wall to the east. Dominating the room against the eastern wall is an ornately carved, canopy bed in a dark finish. It sports a lighter green coverlet and pillows edged in dark blue cord. To one side of the bed, a small table in front of the only window holds a candle and a doily. Dark blue draperies and pale white sheers help to dim the northern light in the mornings and to keep out drafts in the winter. The door to the living room is in the center of the western wall. A few tapestries of flora and fauna hang upon the walls of bare stone to soften the look of them.

Forest let's the three enter the room before him, closing the door behind himself. He looks over the two before him, his gaze weighty and full of his beast as he stands there, though his posture is, for the moment, relaxed. Turning first to Ahikam, "Ahikam. Do you acknowledge me as your Raj?"

Ahikam glances at Zack, "apparently my protection of Crystal is enough of a joke that i need to start getting growly too, and show that i'm willing to fight to defend my mate," he turns his attention to Forest, "You are my Raj, but she is my mate, she is under my protection, and i'm not happy about her being manhandled without being given a chance to interceed, violence comes to me first, i will fight to protect her, from anything, or else i am worthless to everyone, and i might as well still be back in my Master's cage."

Zack wants to speak, but he steps back and remains silent and let's Forest speak.

Crystal cowers beside Ahi and winces at her mate's words knowing they could very well hit a bad spot with the raj as she clings to her mate shivering where she was.

Forest listens to Ahikam speak, the weight of his beast growing upon the man, surging out in a powerful push. His words are low yet he remains calm, "Are you saying that your protection over Crystal supercedes my responsibility as Raj to protect the Pard and ensure that they are safe to have outside of these compound walls?"

Ahikam sets his stance to hold his grown against the weight of that push, "i am saying you bring your violence against me who can atleast try to defend himself, rather then abusing an already hurt and suffering kitten, you really think Crystal could ever bring harm to the pard? i don't even know what happened, you dragged us out of bed before i managed to get what happened out of her, but part of me doesn't care what happened, bring it to me and i could have calmed whatever was happening, isn't this what putting someone under my protection means, that i'm responsible for whatever mistakes they make? i take their punishments? and need i remind you what a growly pard has cost us already?"

Zack is pretty much remaining silent on the matter, letting Forest handle the situation, unless he is given leave to speak.
Crystal gives Ahi a squeeze "He is Raj my mate, you are my protector yes, but he has final say over what is ultimately good for the pard, I am your responsibility but we all are his responsibility" she says very quietly almost afraid to speak.

Forest steps forward, towering over Ahikam not just physically but with his beast as well, using it to press down against him. "I suggest you learn real quick Ahikam how a leopard behaves to his Raj. You will submit to me and then we can discuss this, or I will show you who is more powerful if need be. You say you have accepted me as your Raj, yet you show me no respect, no appropriate greeting is ever given, and yes, I've been lax on that, but I think there are times when it is necessary and right now is one of them. Your protection of Crystal will never supercede my responsibility overall. And she -is- very much a danger to herself and the Pard."

Ahikam's beast wanted to run and hide, trembling under the weight of the Nimir's strength, "you have been my friend Forest, i have treated you as such, you push this, you are no longer my friend, you break what family this has been into another group of snarling animals like those that are responsible for Talen's death," and he wasn't simply referring to the cougars, "but its your right then, if you want to take away that companionship we had held," sinking down to his knees as he submitted, lowering his head, turned to the side to bear his neck as his hands lowered to the ground, his voice emotionless, calm, almost dead as he submitted, "my Raj."

Forest hides the emotions that Ahikam's words spread through him, anger, pain, whatever it is, it doesn't show. He watches as Ahikam kneels down and offers his neck to him, giving it only a few moments before he leans over to put his mouth on Ahikam's neck in acceptance of that submission, then turns to Zack, expecting him to do the same. "Submission to your Raj and Ra by no way means that we aren't family anymore, or that our friendship won't continue. This family has been very disfunctional since before I arrived, and it needs to be mended. It may not be an easy path at first, but healing won't be done until we all learn how to behave as a group."

Ahikam says nothing, there was nothing for him to say, remaining silent, gaze downcast, not even a tremble in his form anymore, he was somewhere else right then.

(Ahikam had to log off here.)

Zack sighs at Ahikam's response. He shakes his head as he watches. His beast stirred by his words, pained how he would be willing to use Talen like that, especially when Ahikam is still so very willing to call said cougars his friends. He looks from Forest to the other two and back. When Forest steps back from Ahikam's submissive posture and looks back at Zack, the young Ra steps forward and takes Ahikam's neck between his teeth, showing his dominance over him.

Crystal took a deep breath trying to hold back the tears that welled up in her eyes, she knew where Ahi had gone, knew that in some ways this was a giant backstep for him and he'd done it for her, she wanted to go to him to hold him and soothe him, he was her mate. Instead she huddled where she was shivering on her feet, it was not her place much as her heart ached for Ahi she stood where she was.

Once Zack has finished, Forest turns to Crystal, studying her in silence for a few moments before speaking, his beast still swelling around him, though not as powerful as it was around Ahikam moments ago. "There are many things I could say to you right now Crystal. I'm not even sure where to start. You have been hurt, this I know. You are not the only one and yet you are the only one that seems to have retreated to the state of a kitten. Last night you accepted me as you Raj, and now it's time for me to act as it. Do you accept responsibility for your actions? Or do you believe Ahikam should take all the blame?"

Zack puts his hand on Forest's shoulder. He is trying to temper Forest's mood, so that he does not allow his conversation with Ahikam influence his with Crystal.

Crystal blinks at Forest as she thinks "You are my Raj Forest and Zack, Slayer, is my Ra. I do not know what I did to anger you…if you think I was challenging your authority…that wasn't my intent…for the first time…in a very long time…I was beginning to see that maybe…this time could be different…maybe pard was family as everyone keeps saying…I was never a fighter Forest, never one to stand up to anyone…I don't know how to fight…they took my only defense from me while they had me…so yes it reinforced that feeling I already had inside…I am an artist my emotions ride just under the surface to pour out into my work…this place held a sense of safety and Members of the pard were being taken into my heart as family…I would do what I could to protect family…but things turned into a warzone….No I do not think my mate and protector should bear the sole brunt of my actions…I do know it is what he would wish though…he was asleep and my actions were my own…I am not so much of a kitten that I would wish someone to take sole blame for what I did"

Forest listens to Crystal as she speaks, his hand moving up to rest on Zack's hand upon his shoulder. Her words seem to reassure him a bit and he moves to sit on the bed, looking up at her, yet he doesn't offer her a seat. "It is good to hear you say so Crystal, but there are things I believe you are lacking in. You are a danger to yourself and the Pard. It is my fault that I have allowed it to go on for so long, but no longer. You showed that you have little to no ability to control your shifting under stress. Therefore you will go through all of your training once again. -All- of your training. You will be confined to the compound until I deem otherwise." Though his words are tough, his tone is much softer than before. Seems that if you show the respect that is required, things go better.

Zack moves to stand to the side, but between the two, watching silently. His beast is calm as he watches.

Crystal nods softly but shakes her head slightly in contemplation "I once had the control I required…I lost that control and center with everything that has been happening…I am not proud of it…it is simply something I need to rememdy…I once had a sense of safety…but no where seems safe anymore…Would you permit me to continue work on a statue for the pride that I was commisioned for and perhaps someone else could deliver it by the end of the week my Raj? It seemed rather important and urgent to them"

Forest listens to Crystal, noding his head, seemingly much more approving of her attitude at this point. "If the statue can be brought here for you to finish I will ensure it is delivered." Rising to his feet once more he adds, "Your training will come first though Crystal, Grace will be in charge of your training."

Zack isn't surprised by the announcement, but that's only because he heard the tail end of an earlier conversation. He watches for her reaction, however.

Crystal nods dropping her head as she looks down at the floor where Ahi had sat, her hear sinking at the news of her trainer and with it her energy and her beast "Yes sir.."

Forest reaches a hand out to Crystal, brushing her hair behind her cheek. "I think you both have a lot to learn from each other Crystal." His words much more gentler than before, then he leans in to rub his cheek against her, pushing his nose into her hair to catch her scent. "Ahikam is a good man Crystal, we will help him together."

Zack watches the two. He pushes his beast out to brush against the both of them, wrapping around Crystal with a reassuring nudge. He maintains his stance, until Forest moves back, then he kneels beside her smiling softly. The lifts her chin to look him in the eye. There is something very differnt, more like the strong leopard that she had such faith in him even when he didn't. "You never know when someone else's perspective is what you need to understand yourself more." He rubs his cheek across hers, nuzzling her softly, "We still are a family, Crystal… Forest just wants to make sure that we're a strong family too."

Crystal rubbed her cheek against his in return though it lacked the warmth it once held and then looked into Zack's eyes with hollow ones that were full of full of sorrow, self doubt and helplessness. "I know Slayer…I know…" but even her words had a hollow tone to them.

Forest smiles as he watches Zack offer his compassion, moving to put his hand on Zack's shoulder. He stands there for a few moments in silence before he nods. It's done. "Let's go see what the others are up to."

Zack looks up at Forest and nods. As he stands he brushes his hand across Crystal's cheek, trying to let her know that she is still loved. He looks to the Nimir-Raj and smiles softly, offering him a bit of reassurance as well, knowing that none of it was easy on him either. "Alright."

Crystal just gently sirks away from the touch to pick Ahi up for once and take him into her lap

Forest takes Zack's hand and moves to leave the room, letting Crystal and Ahikam spend time together without them.

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