[P] It's a pretty picture
As night turned to day, and the sky’s blanket of dark clouds cleared with the sun, Azalea made her way to the garrison from the ruins. She hadn’t slept. The young woman had arrived home late in the night, and after a brief stint of tossing and turning in her bed, it became clear that struggling was futile. Closing her eyes briefly, she could feel the pull of exhaustion taking hold, telling her to keep them closed, to fall against a tree and sleep forever. An image flashed in her mind, her white paws fumbling with starting a fire. The spark of flint against steel, landing softly on the wood shavings she’d so carefully gathered and piled. She’d blown softly on the little orange embers, watching in awed and anxious anticipation as a small flame burst into life.

She hadn’t needed the fire. At least, not for heat. It was warm enough, the start of summer giving them nothing but sticky and oppressive heat that would often carry into the night. Aani had even complained to her of mosquito bites, though Azalea hadn’t gotten any herself. The night previous was such a night. That was why Azalea has only given the fire a tiny stick of wood and plenty of kindling, to ensure that she’d have time to get her candles lit before dousing the small, flickering, flames. With a candle in each hand, she’d snuck back up the stairs to her room, creeping along as to not wake anyone up.

Then she’d sat, and she’d waited for something to happen.

In the candle’s light, it was hard not to think dark thoughts. There was hardly any light from the waning moon, a sickle that hung high in the sky, but it still brought her comfort as she clutched her protection stone. There had been no moon the night that Tak had come, and a part of her wondered if, in just a few days, he would return. It was such a worrying thought that she’d moved to the window, rearranging her room so that she could read by the dim light of the moon and her little candles. The room was a little drafty. At times the candles would flicker wildly, and on several occasions one or the other would go out, and she’d have to re-light it with the other one. In those moments, being superstitious, Azalea felt her heart skip a beat and wait with baited breath for something to happen.

Every time this happened, it became a little easier to forget about it and move on, to return to her book of plants and think instead about what she would tell Sóli the next time she saw her. After all, nothing ever did come of it. She read through the night, spurned on by her fear of sleep, fear of the night and fear of the dark, ignoring the fact that now she was forced to sit through all of those fears. Then again, reason did not break through to the fearful.

If her eyes did drift close, and if she did dream briefly before snapping back into wakefulness, once or twice, what did it matter?

She thought of the night previous as she walked quickly to the far north of their territory. It was comforting to know that she finally had the protection stone, and she carried it with her at all times, in her little leather leaf bag on her belt. As the sun rose and the sky brightened from dark purples into soft pinks into bright oranges, she felt her hand drift to her belt and thumb the crystal heavily. Almost as often, her hand would go to double-check that she had her weapons, fastened securely in their respective hidden places. The throwing knives her mother had gotten her for her birthday, certainly the best gift she’d ever received.

On more prominent display was her old knife, the one she was most comfortable with. It sat opposite her leaf bag, in a spot on her belt that was beginning to be worn down, it was used so often.

The Queensgate Garrison was a welcome sight. She’d come to do her duty as a member of the realm, and as a trainee hoping to enter the Shield. The man waiting for her was a less welcome sight, and she let her face fall into a grimace of annoyance, or maybe just a grimace. ”Tattersall, don’t tell me you’re guarding the gate today?” She called as she approached, voice teasing, though she tried to keep it friendly. Azalea never really knew how she felt about the boy at any given moment. Maybe one day she felt perfectly fine and happy with him, but then he’d do something stupid, and she’d be annoyed at him. Still, she hadn't seen him for quite some time now, and the sight of the young man made her smile in spite of herself.
(846) | NPCs: | Sorry for the book, I got a little sucked into the writing! ;-; For Mel/Tattersall!
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With the Queensgate still understaffed, Tattersall was eager to help out and get the chance to be noticed. He was still low in the ranks due to no fault but his own – while his father's demands for training were reasonable, they ate up much of the young man's time. Outside of this, he had chores around the house which included helping to provide for meals.

Going on watch meant he had a nice excuse to avoid these latter things, and besides that, Tate liked the high position the wall provided. Up here he could see much farther. Up here, his sisters couldn't bother him, and there was unlikely to be any trouble from the rest of his family.

He left home when it was still dark and traveled north. The long miles on the road were familiar now, and he and his horse made it there when the sun was coming up. Nadine was stabled where Duncan usually kept his own horse, and after a brief conversation with Lace, Tattersall went to take his position...only to be met with a familiar, absentee face.

Azalea had been someone he associated with when they were younger, though between his own training and her friendship with Aani the pair had grown more distant. She was taller now, he thought, maybe more filled out here or there – wherever she had been must surely have led to some of these changes, though she still talked as if nothing had passed between them.

Maybe that was for the best. They didn't ever talk about that Outsider, or what had happened. Neither of them had gotten hurt, so there was no fault.

The red-head exhaled with a huff. “Well, obviously,” he scoffed. “What are you doing here?”
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
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