[P] [m] a whispered sigh, you know she's watching
for Nat/Aldora! Located at Steam Baths

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

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Advice had been gifted to her, like a ray of sunshine in a gloomy winter, and Azade knew exactly what she would be doing on this chilly evening. It took a hike to get there, but she’d been given good instructions and the destination was not truly so far away. Really, she took is as an opportunity to be left with some peace to herself, to stew in her own thoughts.

Perhaps this place was not so bad as she had initially thought. Even if she wasn’t technically allowed to drink outside of that tavern, she could still take her booze outside of the Fort and drink it. And. . . well, there were some canines that weren’t so terrible, she figured. And, well, it wasn’t exactly like she was throwing herself out there looking for friends and new acquaintances. Since her husband’s murder she hadn’t exactly been feeling in the mood to socialize all that often.

Fingering the cork of her bottle, running her thumb around and around it, Azade walked slowly up the path. The booze was hidden away in a bag that hung from her shoulder, and as she approached the steam baths she pulled it free and came to a halt to take a small sip. The temperature and humidity had noticeably increased, though it wasn’t unpleasant. Glancing around through the water vapor, her brows raised in surprise to see someone else already there, their back turned to her. Packing away the alcohol in the bag again with a displeased grumble, Azade hung the bag on a tree limb, unwilling to let someone confiscate her booze.

Letting out a soft bark to announce herself, she approached, ”Is that the goodest pool to sit in? I was told that some were. . . cool like the air and some hot. . . like fire.” Azade smiled at the familiar figure of Aldora, and began to take off her clothing, of which there were many, many, layers. The outer layers were delicately embroidered, and the care with which she handled them hinted at how much she valued them. Hesitantly, she removed her headscarf. It had been a long time since she’d removed her headscarf in front of someone that was not family, and the act made her smile. ”I sit with you?”

Back home—home, home, on the Steppe—all the women would bathe together. Occasionally, since leaving, she would bathe with other women—where it was common in that culture. Since arriving here, though, it had been a very long time. A part of her missed the intimacy, though perhaps she had forgotten how it was, because when she glanced at Aldora she had to make herself look away very quickly again.

She untied her hair and let it fall down to her waist before stepping into the water hesitantly. The water was hot, and she recoiled instantly before slowly trying again. She got one leg into the water, then the next, before finally sinking the rest of her body in and letting herself float slightly. ”Hot, but it is good.” She commented, nodding appreciatively.
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A quick getaway to the steam baths was just what was needed, and Aldora had been eager to complete her duties for the day and, after ensuring her pups were tended to, headed out of the Fort for the long-awaited physical reprieve.

The paths to the baths were well worn, even in the light dusting of snow, so there was no need to saddle and tack her horse for the journey. In less than an hour she arrived into the area, the smell of sulfur and earth pervading the air; Aldora took a deep inhale, letting the scent return her to years past, when she had come here to take her oath.

How strange it was to remember such times, especially with all that had happened since. But the Knight found herself reminiscing pleasantly, her thoughts not all choked by grief. Minerva was gone, yes, but she was already beginning to feel the vice of loss loosen around her neck. Her children were growing, having just been paired with their mentors, most in the pack were thriving despite the past difficulties; she had to rejoice in what was good, otherwise she could succumb to the darkness.

Finding the perfect pool, one she knew would be hot but no unbearable, Aldora removed her rank cloak and folded it neatly to the side before entering. Her body was accosted by heat, her skin tingling, but she sighed contentedly as her fur became soaked and long hair saturated.

Only after a few moments of wading was she joined by another, her eyes upturned to see Azade coming into view between the mist. The woman did not seem surprised nor off-put by Aldora’s presence, and instead began to immediately disrobe before Aldora could even greet her. The Sola’s eyes grew wide as she watched layer after layer come off, not due to impropriety, but to fascination; she realized she had not seen Azade unclothed before.

Once the exotic woman was ready, she entered the bath as well, and Aldora smiled, "Your first time visiting the baths I presume?" She asked, suddenly happy to have someone to converse with rather then remain here alone, "It is a luxury I do not afford myself often enough."
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Azade was no longer unhappy that she was forced to leave her alcohol behind. Though, perhaps. . . no it would be ridiculous to flaunt any kind of blatant disregard for the pack’s rules right in front of one of the pack’s leaders. Still, Azade found herself wishing she could go drinking with the other woman one day. 

Immediately her insecurities over her English struck when Aldora spoke, and Azade stared back at her, taking far too long to answer as she put together exactly how she wanted to reply. ”Yes, it is my first visit here.” After hearing how smoothly and easily Aldora had spoken, Azade felt her own hesitancy increase doubly. Her accent was thick and her words halting, and she knew that she said the wrong words, but she didn’t know which words were wrong. Her own children were teaching her this strange language. Correcting her when she messed up. Azade should have been teaching them, as was a mother's job. 

”It is something very nice, I think. The smell. . . it is something strange, but since the water is hot that is something that I can live with.” She shrugged, glancing once more at Aldora. It was something that she had never noticed before, but the other woman was very pretty, down to the crook in her tail. ”You. . . how are you? Your children? I saw their, how do you say. . . when you teach someone. Hmmm. . .”

Resting her head in her hand, she furrowing her brows in confusion as she glanced up at Aldora for assistance. Frustrated, she continued, ”I saw the big event with the teachers and the puppies and you spoke very good.” Letting out a sigh of relief, she felt her ears flush slightly from her own shame. If only Aldora spoke Spanish, it would be so much easier.
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Aldora could sense the hesitation in Azade, and for a moment she herself became somewhat nervous. But after taking a breath, and after the Feriqi had settled down into the water and began speaking again, the Knight calmed. The language barrier was nothing to be concerned with, if it came down to it, they need say nothing at all.

She commented on the smell and Aldora chuckled a bit, and took a sopping arm out of the spring to let it rest steaming on the edge of the pool, "Sulphur, I think. The earth stinks in many ways." Honestly, Al loved the smell, especially the way it clung to the fur after it dried. It was earthly, pungent; what canine didn’t love a good, strong smell?

The lady asked about her children, and about the mentorship ceremony. Aldora leaned forward then, allowing her now cooled arm back into the water, "Their mentorship, similar to the Ashen’s… what is it called, oh, Bau-Bautizo?" She waited for Azade’s confirmation that Aldora’s knowledge of Del Cenere’s ceremonies wasn’t flawed.

"Thank you, I am happy for them; now though I am waiting to see what they make of themselves. And what of your children? Are they settling in well?"
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Perhaps one day Azade would also learn to love the smell of these sulfur pools. She was not one to open up to new experiences, however, and until that day she would treat them with the slight suspicion that all new and strange things deserved. Though some might say that she went overboard with this, Azade knew better. This was what kept her alive, after all. Always questioning everything. ”Hmmmm. . . this is true. Still, I prefer the stink of the ocean. It is similar, but also very different.”

Aldora enlightened Azade on the word that she’d been searching for, and her embarrassment lightened, soon to be forgotten. She would not forget this word, she told herself, repeating it in her head a few times before speaking it aloud. ”Mentorship. . . mentorship, I see. Yes, that is the same as the Bautizo. Though, the two are also very. . . not the same. In Del Cenere, the Bautizo, it is a—how do you say—celebracion. Una celebración. . . of the puppy growing into an adult. So, it is not like a teacher and student.”

Shrugging, Azade sank more deeply into the water and relaxed. The difference in culture between the two packs did not matter, though she was still feeling the shock of moving between the two, and she felt there was no use in speaking more on the topic.

A far better topic of conversation was her children. Sitting up and leaning closer to Aldora in order to give her her full attention, Azade smiled. ”I understand that feeling. Mine are well, I think. It is hard to know, we do not live together anymore. They come and they visit. This is not at all like how we are used to living, I am still getting used to it. But the young learn faster than the old. They are adults now, even when Mahigul does not act it.”
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