Epilogue: The Gift of Home
**Rhoelyn:** Leothir looks down at the table and then back up. “No, take it to your other left. Where is Nysse? She and Rhoelyn should have been back by now.”
**Araatris:** Rhese and Relare strain together with the wooden archway, shifting it slowly. The druid grits out, “I’m sure they’ll be… ng… here any minute. Here?”
**Rhoelyn:** “A little mo-stop! Right there!” The mage nods with satisfaction. The other two sigh with relief as they set it down. Leo looks around again.
**Araatris:** Yami strides forward and takes over supporting the positioned arch from his father. “An’nu, the village isn’t that close, and they have the babies.”
**Rhoelyn:** Sighing, Leo nods. “I know, but I get nervous.” He pushes a stray lock back. “Rhese, what do you think? Is it centered from the path?”
**Araatris:** The druid steps back a few paces along said path, eyeing the decorative arch critically. Finally, he nods. “It’s good. I’ll anchor it for now.”
**Araatris:** Soon, after a verdant swirl of magic and the churn of vines and soil, the wooden structure is sunk in the dirt, greenery climbing its legs.
**Rhoelyn:** A cacophony of yips and short howls echo up the hill. Yami grins broadly and laughs. “You always know when min’da is getting close.”
**Araatris:** Rhese groans. “I hope they’re going to get less excited that she’s back, soon. I’m used to her having a little pack, but the big pack is… intense.”
**Rhoelyn:** “At least they go hunting for her. It’s been useful recently.” Relare comments. “But I understand. They’re not trained like her little packs.”
**Araatris:** “Ugh,” the druid grouches, dusting dirt from his hands. “They’re definitely not. A pair got into a noisy squabble just as Rhylian was drifting off.”
**Rhoelyn:** Both Relare and Leothir wince sympathetically. The mage sighs and rubs his face. “I can sympathize. We’ve had some challenges with Alen as well.”
**Araatris:** Yami leans forward. “He’s still being clingy with min’nu?” Leo sighs and nods, straightening some pages of plans on the worktable. “Quite.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Maybe it’d help if he had a sleepover with the twins. I think I’m going to insist the wolves sleep in the cave den tonight.” Rhese glances over at the houses.
**Rhoelyn:** “Though if the girls didn’t bring back some bedding, we’ll be sleeping on the floor again.” He scratches his chin. “How much more do we have, Leo?”
**Araatris:** The mage yawns and glances from the pages to the cluster of buildings and structures around them. “Once your shaman friend arrives, the stable.”
**Araatris:** “And anchoring the archway.” He flips a couple of prints around. “Tomorrow, you and I should be able to set up the portals and ward them.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese nods. “Maybe a few steps into the pond with the waterfall. Nysse likes to swim, but it gets deep fairly quickly. So… we’re almost done.”
**Araatris:** Relare wipes his forehead with his sleeve, looking around happily. “I guess we are. We can finish the shingles on Leo’s pretentious ‘tower’, today.”
**Rhoelyn:** Leo huffs. “It is not pretentious. It gives us a nice view of the area. Pretentious would be twice as high.” Rhese chuckles. “Right, lordling.”
**Araatris:** Yami giggles as the mage gives his brothers a haughty look. “If you’re both that jealous, I’m quite willing to plan renovations to your own houses.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese holds up his hands defensively. “No, that’s quite alright. Nysse would kill me if I made a change.” The voidling points behind them. “Tsume!”
**Araatris:** The snowy wolf charges up the sloped path at a full sprint, tongue lolling out and tail high. She’s got her mischievous black eyes trained on Yami.
**Rhoelyn:** “Ack! An’da, save me!” He darts behind his father, but druid merely grins and sidesteps as Tsume tackles Yami, licking him. “Good girl, Tsume.”
**Araatris:** His boy giggles and squirms, belatedly flowing his form into a shadowy wolf, but all that gets him is more licks and less balance on his back.
**Rhoelyn:** A female voice calls out, “Rhese! Get down here! We need help!” Relare shares a look with Rhese before they both hurry down the trail.
**Araatris:** The druid shifts from two legs to four paws, sprinting through the trees until he can see the chaos around their ladies, wolves and babies and all.
**Rhoelyn:** He shoulders through the mass of fur, growling and snapping to give them space. Rhese shifts to a night elf, stepping forward. “What else can I do?”
**Araatris:** Rhoe plays an unequal game of tug-of-war with one of the wolves that wasn’t intimidated, its teeth in a bundled sheet. “They’ve stolen the bedding!”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse snarls at the wolf even as she shoves Mirra into Rhese’s arms. “Let go!” She leans and slaps the wolf’s shoulder as Rhy giggles on her back.
**Araatris:** Relare catches up as the playful wolf yerps around the sheet and gives another yank, ignoring Nysse. “Oh,” Rhoe gasps, staggering. “You’ll rip it!”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress sighs and grabs a branch off the ground. “Let go of it, Rhoe.” She waves the stick in front of the wolf. “You want to play. I’ll play.”
**Araatris:** Though she cringes, her sister releases the fabric, Alen watching with wide eyes from the sling across her chest. The wolf drops it, eyeing Nysse.
**Rhoelyn:** She waits until the wolf is following the stick then tosses it. As soon as his back is turned, Nysse gathers up the cloth tightly in her arms.
**Araatris:** When a few others from the pack chase after the stick as well, the wolves blessedly settle into playing together and dash off into the woods.
**Rhoelyn:** “Let’s go.” Nysse ushers them quickly up the hilly path. “Don’t worry, Rhoe. We’ll wash it and hang it out of that tower of yours to dry.”
**Araatris:** The healer sends a dirty look after the wolves, but she sighs and nods. “Yes, of course, sister.” Her brother pats her shoulder as they walk.
**Rhoelyn:** Sheepishly, Nysse offers, “I’ll see if I can convince them to stay elsewhere for a couple of nights. Normally, they’d patrol, but I’m here.”
**Araatris:** “We’re going to need more than that, my lovely,” Rhese says gently, bouncing Mirrase on his shoulder. “I think they need to den farther away.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young mother droops. “I know. I just… I just like being surrounded by wolves again. Boralus was so suffocating…” Nyssera bites her lip.
**Araatris:** Her mate wraps his free arm around her waist, leaning over to kiss her head around their daughter. “I know. And we won’t move them too far.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhoelyn hides a tiny sigh of relief behind one hand. The huntress nods hesitantly. “Today then. If you aren’t too busy helping Leo and Rel…”
**Araatris:** Relare waves a hand. “We’ll take care of the rest. The pack is… a little wild for the homestead. Maybe you can use the home den for your trainees?”
**Rhoelyn:** “Trainees?” Nysse looks at Rhese hopefully. “Does that mean we can have Valerio and Tsume’s mate visit soon?” Tsume wuffs excitedly.
**Araatris:** Rhese smiles warmly. “Well, it is the new family homestead. Tsume’s mate and his pet squidface are family, too.” Rhy gurgles and tugs Nysse’s hair.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse grins broadly despite the stinging pain on her scalp. “Come on, little moon. seems you’re ready to move.” She unstraps him from her back.
**Araatris:** Alen watches his little cousin, quite content with his thumb in his mouth and his little self snuggled across Rhoe’s chest. Rhy squeals at Mirra.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse pats Rhy’s back soothingly. “Rhoelyn, could you watch the twins? I’d settle them down for a nap, but I think they have other plans.”
**Araatris:** Her sister smiles. “Yes, of course. Perhaps we shall snuggle down in the new bedsheets and play and see who can be convinced to get drowsy.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress chuckles. “I’ll bet that Rhy is first. He loves his cuddles. Let’s get everyone settled.” She smiles at Relare. “Thank you.”
**Araatris:** The paladin nods as they pass through the newly-planted wooden archway and head toward Rhese and Nysse’s house. “I think it’ll work well.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Yes. Perhaps it’s Korran, but… it’s felt like home since we arrived.” Nysse shifts Rhy to her hip as they pass a house with a small two story tower.
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn leans over to drape an arm over Nysse’s shoulders. “If it is Korran’s influence, then I fear he affects me, as well. It is home.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse giggles. “Oh, I rather think that’s Leo’s influence, sister.” She briefly leans her head on Rhoe’s shoulder. “I am glad there’s less snow…”
**Araatris:** Rhese chuckles and glances sidelong at the two of them, waggling his fingers to amuse Mirra. “My lovely, you’re just too cold-blooded.”
**Rhoelyn:** Huffing, Nysse steps up the simple home. Moss and vines climb up the wood siding and a silver wolf’s head emblem hangs from the green door.
**Araatris:** She tugs the handle and leads the way into the still-jumbled entry, stepping carefully around a crate of kitchen supplies that haven’t made it.
**Rhoelyn:** “Watch your step.” She leads the way back to the master bedroom. “I’ll drop the covers off here. Rhoe, do you need anything for the twins?”
**Araatris:** “I think not, my sister,” the priestess says as she starts to unload a protesting Alen from his sling. “Only leave me an adorable pair of babies.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse shuffles Rhy and grins at him. “Impromptu time with min’nu Rhoe!” She sets him down on the mattress and he rolls over toward the sheets.
**Araatris:** Her amused mate tucks their daughter beside her twin, and the aqua-haired imp immediately pushes into a crawl toward the edge of the mattress.
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress immediately grabs her and lays her back down by her brother. “Really, little star. It’s not necessary to explore off the bed.”
**Araatris:** Rhoelyn giggles and sits herself and Alen in the way as the baby starts straight for another edge. “Go. Settle the wolves. I will mind your pups.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Thanks, Rhoe.” Nysse kisses her forehead. Rhese grins and kisses Rhoe’s cheek. “Thanks, sis.” They turn to the paladin leaning against the doorway.
**Rhoelyn:** Relare chuckles and holds up his hands. “No kisses for me please. I’ll go tell Leo.” He turns and heads out ahead of them, splitting off outside.
**Araatris:** Rhese clasps Nysse’s hand as they head towards the treeline, looking up through the canopy at the starry pre-dawn sky. “It does feel like home.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress leans into him so her side presses into his as they walk. “Yes. I think we’ll be happy here. Though, I hate having to move the pack…”
**Araatris:** Her mate frees his hand to wrap his arm around her shoulders, instead. “We’ll make sure they’re comfortable, but our family isn’t all wildlings.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse blushes. “It’s not like I was raised by wolves. Min’da and An’da didn’t leave me to fend for myself.” She slides her arm about his waist.
**Araatris:** Rhese chuckles. “True, lovely, but Leothir’s first encounter with a wolf was, as I understand it, when Tsume tried to eat him. They aren’t like us.”
**Rhoelyn:** Her blush only deepens. “She hasn’t tried to eat him in years!” One by one the wild wolves start wandering toward them, nudging and circling.
**Araatris:** Her mate grins and leans down to kiss her cheek. “I can’t say much. About three weeks ago, I’d have been happy for her to try.” A wolf jostles him.
**Rhoelyn:** “I’m glad she’s just as stubborn as me.” She smiles gently. “I suppose it’s time. Do you want to scout out a new cave while I gather them?”
**Araatris:** Rhese nods. “I’ll find you when I know where to put them.” He disentangles himself from her just enough to shift into the sleek cat and darts off.
**Rhoelyn:** She watches and idly rubs a wolf’s head. “Alright, let’s go find the others.” The huntress circles the area and their favorite spots, calling them.
**Araatris:** In twos and threes the wolves answer her, glowing eyes and then shadowed forms stalking out of the night-dark forest until the pack surrounds her.
**Rhoelyn:** She kneels, ruffling fur as they swarm. “Yes, I’m glad, too.” Paws rest on her shoulders and a wolf licks her ear. “But you need a better home.”
**Araatris:** A soft blue glow rises from her chest, and Korran swirls free, the wolves giving way as he takes form beside her. They react with reverence.
**Rhoelyn:** “Korran, if we lead them to a new den, do you think they’ll accept it?” She rests a hand on his back. “Yes, it isn’t the first time it’s been moved.”
**Araatris:** Nysse blinks at him. “It isn’t?” He turns his head to look at her. “Of course not. The pack’s lifetime is many times longer than your eldest kin.”
**Rhoelyn:** The huntress looks at the pack again. “That’s amazing. I suppose it’s no different than Tsume’s pack. I hope it will continue long after me.”
**Araatris:** The look he gives her is as warm as his thoughts. “Her pack and your own live through your children. Both are already growing into the future.”
**Rhoelyn:** The young mother blushes happily. “Yes. They are, aren’t they?” She leans over and kisses the wolf’s muzzle. The bushes in front of them rustle.
**Araatris:** Rhese wades into the pack as a cat, shouldering his way closer to his mate and her companion. He shifts at her side. “I see you found them.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Perhaps they found me. They were lingering nearby.” She wraps her arms around him and kisses her mate. “Did you complete your task, surfal?”
**Araatris:** The druid grins at Nysse and steps back to kneel. “But of course, my lady,” he rumbles with bowed head and mischievous eyes. “I live to please.”
**Rhoelyn:** Her cheeks color lightly. “You are certainly pleasing. Are you ready to lead us to their new home?” She straightens, watching Rhese tenderly.
**Araatris:** “Anything my l-” One of the wolves chooses that minute to nose in and lick right across the druid’s face while he’s at tongue level, and he sputters.
**Rhoelyn:** Nysse bursts out laughing, doubling over. “I’m sorry, beloved, but the look on your face…” She wipes at her eyes. “Perhaps we should go now.”
**Araatris:** Rhese squirms at her side, wiping is mouth on his sleeve and growling, “I think I got wolf slobber on my tongue! Which one was it? I should eat him.”
**Rhoelyn:** “The grey one.” Rhese gives her a deadpan look. “That’s most of them.” Nysse grins unapologetically. “Yes. Shall we?” She offers her hand.
**Araatris:** When he takes it, her mate tugs her in for a quick kiss and mutters, “I should just eat you, instead.” He chuckles as he turns and tugs her along.
**Rhoelyn:** His mate giggles as they leave through the trees with a trail of wolves. “I wonder if we could find a few quiet moments to ourselves later.”
**Araatris:** Smiling, Rhese nods and leans over to whisper in her long ear. Though the huntress blushes, she also beams and threads her fingers through his.