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Open footprints in the snow
VOYAGER

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#11
The rabbit was quickly forgetting the need to be careful.
The path widened, its edges flattening to reveal the slope.
She leaped up through the snow, darting between the sparse foliage.

It was quickly thinning out, and at one point all plants completely disappeared, as though something had upturned the hard rock beneath the snow, completely uprooting the greenery.
The horizon above them grew slowly bigger, and before long the rabbit was coming to a halt, snow flying as she clung to a thin mountain ridge, gasping at something or other.

Before her the ridge fell away as a steep cliff, a narrow twisting path providing a way down into what lay ahead.
The drop was high, and the whole area looked as if it had been carved out of the range.
A wide highland sat in the depression, rolling with hills and decorated by scattered groves of hardy highland conifers.
Grass twisted among fields dotted white with the delicate blooms of snowdrop, and something like sheep roamed in small herds between the groves, following the course of rivers spilling in from the surrounding mountains.

"What the...," the rabbit muttered as her eyes swept from one side to the other.

Clouds still swirled around the snow-capped mountains, which surrounded the crater on three sides, but on one side there was not more mountains, nor a tall drop: instead there was a shoreline.
A coast with a gentle but very short slope, muddy white sands on the edge of what certainly appeared to be the ocean, but could well have been a vast lake.
In such a large range it didn't seem entirely impossible to have a big body of water, but still, to not see the horizon, or even a hint of mountains or cliffs beyond it....

As the wind crested up the mountain slopes, the scent of salt wound its way up to the rabbit's nose.
Her ears twisted around, the mere sight boggling her mind enough to throw her sense of direction for a loop.
Was she up, down?
Her toes tightened their grip on the ridge, lest she wobble with vertigo and take a long tumble down.

The rabbit shook her head, casting a confused glance and a gentle smile up at the snow leopard as she stepped in beside her.

"Too bad we're not wolves, eh?" she said.
"This place looks like it'd be a haven for them."
[Image: voyager_disco_poster.jpg]
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#12

Jinora



Jinora quietly examined the scene below. then the turned her head and glanced back along the way. The very change in terrain seemed to defy a few of nature's normal rules right there, but she certainly didn't find it impossible to believe. It was just a little strange like any number of strange things she had already encountered.

She turned her head back towards the grassy land below.

too bad we're not wolves, eh?

"yeah..."

The snow leopard swallowed nervously.

She wasn't a wolf indeed, but she'd abstained from meat out of sensitivity for her traveling companion. Now that it crossed her mind however... those sheep were looking a bit too tasty for comfort. Even the thought made her uneasy.
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VOYAGER

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#13
Oktokki noticed a strange look cross the leopard's face.
She followed Jinora's gaze to the drifting herds, the identity of that expression clicking in her mind.

She grinned meekly and rubbed at one of her ears in embarrassment.
She'd seen the feline eating grass before, which personally she found quite strange for what she had first took to be an obligate carnivore, but had figured she might have gone off on occasion to hunt pikas or something...not that she had any proof of this, it was just what she suspected the carnivoran had been doing to get by while they traversed these mountains.
Either that or eat the fluffy bunny sitting so dumbly beside her.

"Maybe they're not intelligent?" she offered quietly, wondering if perhaps that had what had saved her from becoming a meal thus far.
It sickened her to think of something with smarts getting stomached by a predator.
But it happened all over the place, she knew, because one law ruled above all: animals had to eat.
Not every place had the luxury of such things as incoherent species or meaty drumsticks and the like.
[Image: voyager_disco_poster.jpg]
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OOC Name: Loner

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#14

Jinora



She didn't look at the rabbit, but continued to look ahead out over the land. "you... try and believe that... but eventually you find out they're intelligent anyhow..." The thought of killing something intelligent bothered Jinora too, even if it had to be for food. Sometimes the only 'lack' was in the absence of a shared common language. Knowing that... it was hard to know what to do.
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VOYAGER

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#15
The rabbit furrowed her brow.
That, too, was always a possibility, that the strangers down below were intelligent and they just had little to no way of finding out.
But what made her really fold an ear back was the manner in which the feline was acting.
She'd never quite seen a starved predator so hesitant to take its chance at a free meal; the snow leopard's face even seemed rather pained.

In the rabbit's experience carnivores (the "intelligent" ones, anyway, who knew how the other sort thought, if at all) had always had some way of dealing with taking the life another; oftentimes this happened to have involved belittling their prey, thinking them lesser or weaker, unfeeling or unthinking.
Perhaps the spotted cougar was simply lacking in this facility, not a lick of apathy or spite left in her.
Honestly she began to wonder if the lion she'd met had been the same way; when she found him he had been rather thin and exceptionally polite....

But hunger almost always won out in the end.

"Well, I'm not sittin' here any longer!" huffed the rabbit at last, puffing out her chest as the scallop shell, still hanging from her neck by stringy grass (which she'd occasionally had to replace as the stems dried and broke off), bounced in the soaring winds and flowed with a deep blue hue.
"Maybe I'll go see if I can't dig you up any meatshrooms down there, eh?"

With that said she hopped back to her paws and began to follow the winding path down, occasionally taking a shortcut where she simply dropped down off an edge and landed on a lower tier.
[Image: voyager_disco_poster.jpg]
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#16

Jinora



The rabbit was right...

Nothing to do but to go down and find out.

Slowly Jinora followed, trusting her large paws and sense of balance to keep her stable on the steep downward terrain. She let the rabbit go rather far ahead, keeping the creature's movement in sight but making sure that she was far enough away to take no risks in the current situation.

Even so, it would be best not to loose track of her companion. If the theory of shifting terrains had any stock at all losing sight of someone in the wrong place could end up akin to splitting up to different paths. Even in her reluctance, she didn't want to risk that in an area that looked like a rather critical portion of the landscape.
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VOYAGER

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#17
It wasn't too big a drop, least of all when compared to their climb up the mountains.
It became clear to Oktokki that the crater...valley...whatever-it-was, was situated high above sea level.
As she descended, silver eyes glanced again towards the expanse of water in the distance, still finding the sight a curious one.
Had to be a saltwater lake or something, right?
Foreigner as she was to lakes so big they were like oceans and mountains ranging so far that there seemed to be no end to them, she was sure she was making a bigger deal out of it than was necessary.

The lands weren't shifting.
Couldn't be.
Where were the earthquakes?
How would it even happen without anyone noticing?
It didn't make sense!
And what a travesty it would be!

Grass curled between her toes and over her head when at last she hit the end of the rocky path.
A narrow dirt path unfurled from the bottom of the cliffs, weaving through the green blades before disappearing behind a cluster of boulders.
The rabbit hopped up onto the tallest of the rocks, glancing behind to make sure her traveling companion were still there--if the rumors the feline spoke did indeed hold up, then who knew what other oddities could occur when one wasn't looking--before gazing ahead of her, tracing a route in her mind as she compared ground level to the map she'd compiled from the sights above.

There was a particular series of groves, popping up in an alternating course where each one was denser or taller or wider than the last, leading towards the nearest river, which was perhaps only half an hour of hopping away, should her internal compass ring true.
She tilted her ears forward as the wind buffeted her sides, feeling it sweep her fur as it soared up the steep mountainous slopes, listening to it bring forth the sounds of the riverside, which included the calls of one herd that grazed along its banks.
The cry of flowing water was enough to set her throat to itching; there wasn't much surface water to be found in the mountains, and she'd been having to survive off the grasses that clung to the crumbling rocks or that were buried beneath frozen soil, brittle and dry in all but the morning, when ocean winds left a dew-laden mist upon the gravel.

As she awaited the final descent of her acquaintance, the rabbit bounced back off the rocks, nose twitching as she began to snuffle around in the clump's shadows, hoping perhaps to find some special flora that were more suited to carnivores rather than herbivores.
But this was a range far away from her homelands...considering that place's climate and geography, so stark in contrast was it to this highlands area, and how she'd yet to find said herbs with such frequency as back there, it seemed a shot in the dark that such fungi and plants would even grow, much less thrive, way out here.
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#18

Jinora



Jinora took the descent cautiously, keeping her eyes open for any solution that wouldn't involve shedding something's blood, or if she must, the least possible.

Yet it had been so long since she'd had something that was actually meat. Any species she'd found even one sentient example of, she had given up hunting immediately. Now if she wanted to keep up that rule of thumb, she didn't have too many options left. If for her own survival she was going to break that resolution.... she better decide when and how before instinct pushed her too far.

Even stalling, she entered the flatlands far to fast. If nothing else it was a good place to stop, moderate despite the altitude and with plenty to eat if she could manage to uphold the vegetarian diet.

Yet the temptation was too high.

For now, she could hold out. She'd make do with the herbs and look for a third option. If the desire for the sort of meat normal snow leopards seek grew too high she'd at least make sure no friends were harmed. It was the only thing she could try.

She narrowed her eyes. She kept a straight line. She would not look at nor approach anything that could become prey.

but you know what they say about oranges... or sheep.

once you decide to not think about them, that's the only thing anyone can think about.
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VOYAGER

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#19
As expected, the rabbit didn't find anything.

She dug up some threads of mycelium lacing through the soil, but they were all the wrong sorts of fungi--or, at the very least, she couldn't identify them well enough to know whether they would be harmful, helpful, or simply a snack.
As the old saying goes: watch what the rabbit eats before you eat it yourself.
And she wasn't willing to be the test bunny here that fell over dead from toxins.

The snowdrops were of no help at all.

The snow leopard had arrived by the time she was packing the dirt back together, not-so-good-as-new.
There was a pained, distracted look on the feline's face, and it sent the rabbit's own senses into a state of alertness, though her mind leaned more towards worry for her acquaintance.
She'd heard of the phenomenon before, but had yet to be witness to it.
Carnivores trying to stave off their need for meat...eventually they couldn't take it any longer, and some would go into a blind rage, a surplus killing spree.
She didn't want her travel buddy to go mad from starvation!
Or, yanno, to be murdered on the side.
That too.

The rabbit picked a path through the grass, weaving among the stems as they grew taller and taller--although not too tall.
They went well above her ears, but for the leopard it would only be about waist-high.
The rabbit became a ball of white that, in bouncing, could occasionally be seen.
She had to work off her mental map until the blades shortened enough for her to see.

The grass seemed to work in patches here, sections of short mashed up with the tall.
Among the short grass the snowdrops blossomed, while between the tall blades she could find the fruiting heads of mushrooms, pumping spores in the shadows that tickled her nose.
The rabbit would pause sometimes when she found them, seeking to identify any variety of meatshroom, but, again, no luck.

She would sigh, ears folding back in defeat at some points.

Gradually the rabbit made her way towards the nearest river, not much minding if the snow leopard lagged or held back.
After trekking through the mountain for so long, living off the meager water in its dried plants, she could go for a drink from an actual stream.

Eventually she popped out of a clump of tall grass, finding herself at the height of a slope that led down to the river.
The water burbled at an average pace, clear as day as the sun reflected sharply off its rolling surface.
Its source was somewhere in the side of mountains they had just left, the river winding in long arcs towards the massive lake she'd spotted from above.

There was a herd of sheep further downstream, more than a good many bounds away, but close enough that the number could be counted: seven of them, maybe with a few little ones dancing sprightly between the legs of the wool-heavy adults.
The sounds of their bleating was carried easily--and loudly--on the unhindered wind, which swept almost musically over the river bank.

With only a quick glance at the herd, the white rabbit lowered herself towards the river, not really paying much attention as her eyes dragged across the water.
The bank was steep, a little too tall for her, and the rabbit had to stretch herself out, paws on a halfway submerged rock as she began to sip at the water, wholly focused on her thirst now.
The chill that flooded her throat almost came as shock; she hadn't noticed it until then, but the temperature of the air was actually a little bit warmer in the valley, while the water was kept at a coolness a few degrees less than the air of the mountains they'd descended from.

After getting over the initial bite, the rabbit drank heartily, enjoying the simple semi-tasteless liquid.
[Image: voyager_disco_poster.jpg]
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OOC Name: Loner

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Crowns: ♛5,765
#20

Jinora



Jinora too headed for the water, but rather than stop at it, she waded into it. With all the mountain run off it had a significant current, but not one that would cause problems at the snow leopard's current position. She kept an eye on the water, knowing that it might offer a solution to her concerns as an alternative for going after rabbits or sheep. She at least hoped to spot a flash of silver in the water which did not come from the daylight's reflection off the top.

She didn't spot anything yet, though she seriously considered fording the river, so that it'd act as a barrier to keep her from the beasts she did not want to end up harming.
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