[P] And under our banner, fold.
Battalion had asked Lossë for a little bit of time alone with her brother before they headed up to the Citadel. Both of them were tired from their traveling - they hadn't rested much between Casa di Cavalieri and here - so she had no doubt that he was sleeping. It would've been a good idea for her to sleep, too, but she found herself with a feeling of unsettled exhaustion. She doubted she'd fall asleep even if she tried.

Polliwog had gotten her a drink, a sweeter one like she had asked, and she sat at one of La Estrella Roja's tables with his cloak around her shoulders. Since she had been traveling in Lupus, she hadn't brought any clothes. Not that she generally did. The cloak was just comforting and smelled of her brother. Most of her warmth she had recently been getting from her husband. That was a different sort of comforting. Her face warmed at the thought, her hand bringing her drink to her mouth to hide the small smile that had crept over her lips at the thought.

"Are you liking it here, then? Everything you dreamed it would be?" the wolf asked her brother, looking around the place and finding it... interesting. Not somewhere she'd spend time when it was in full swing, but she could see why it would appeal to him. Their personalities had always been quite different and it obviously suited him. He seemed to fit in well with the vibes.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Battalion Fir-Chlis. When she had first arrived with Lossë, he had grinned, thinking that it had just come time for the lovebirds to admit they loved each other. He had thought maybe they were arriving with a personal invite for big brother or just to tell him the good news of them getting hitched. It wasn't as if he expected there had to be a wedding, though New Caledonia had seemed the kind of place to like that sort of thing. What he hadn't expected was the news that they had actually carried. He had gotten part of it right, as her newly acquired last name indicated. Bat and Lossë had admitted their feelings and even gotten hitched. Which was great for him, since they could finally do the gooey eye thing and he could roll his eyes freely at their mushiness instead of trying to pretend he didn't see it. Newlyweds were often overbearingly affectionate; it was normal to rib them about such things and give them a hard time.

It was the other news that had put a real damper on their time together. Wog had noticed that they were traveling on four feet instead of two, but figured it was just for convenience. Instead, it was apparently for speed as they escaped some great tragedy that had befallen New Caledonia. They didn't even seem certain if it still stood anymore after what they had experienced before they ran. Sometime, he'd have to check up on that. The only wolf that had lived there who was important to him was Bat, but that didn't mean he wasn't curious about how the local pack structures shifted. It also left a gap that might be filled by a different pack and displaced canines. La Estrella Roja would need to be wary of those who fled as well as those who had made them flee. Wartime could create problems.

They had talked a bit as a trio, then he had needed some time with just Battalion to catch up a bit more before the pair departed. Though he was going to insist by the end that Bat at least get some sleep before she headed back out again. A good night's rest somewhere safe and warm, a good meal in her belly, maybe a bit of alcohol to sink her deep and proper into sleep... these were things her brother could provide, even if he couldn't provide her with a permanent solution. She seemed to already have one, anyway. The offshoot of New Caledonia: the Citadel in Portland. They'd take in the Fir-Chlis band and make them safe again. Assuming they hadn't also somehow been hit by this war band. Harder to hit folks in Portland, though; there were a lot more connections and there was a lot less room to sneak around out there.

"Didn't dream much, just showed up and got to work. I like it, though, yeah." he'd met some interesting folks and had a good time. It was going well for him so far, though he was never certain it was a forever kind of thing. He'd never promised that to the Midnight Krewe either. A for now thing was good enough. "You should definitely stay the night, at the least. I'd offer you Theodora to take with you, but she'd slow you down with the two of you on four legs." he remarked, rubbing his hand across his jawline thoughtfully. He'd need to consider what else he could send with her to aid her on her journey.
With this being her second trip around to this area, Kelsi had begun to develop some mixed feelings about her quest.

In her mind it was too early to start getting dissuaded, since it had only been a month since she had left Portland. But another part of her, whether childish or realistic, reminded her that it's been a whole month of winter travel without much to show for it.

The strongest lead she had was the possible location of her aunt Mayfly, but after learning about the conflict New Caledonia was enduring, Kelsi made the executive decision to not wander that far north and stick her nose in that terrible business. Because, seriously, look at her—was she really built for something like that? Even if she wanted to help, she didn't know how to use a weapon.

Then there was a good possibility that her father could be there too, fighting alongside his sister, if Polliwog had managed to find Mayfly. That bothered Kelsi the most, that off chance that she was walking away from where her father could be.

The magician tried not to get caught up with doubts and second guesses and kept pushing forward. The plan was the same as it had been when she first set out: find a solid lead for Polliwog and track him down. If someone had seen him and the direction pointed to New Caledonia, then she'd go there.

Until then, she just had to keep pushing forward.

While she ran the risk of seeing a certain Luperci again, Kelsi decided to actually give the La Estrella Roja a chance. She had been so flustered by the deer incident that she moved on without waiting for the bar to open and dismissed it entirely by that first impression.

But it had been many days since then and her pride had been tempered by time and distance, she thought. And maybe if she kept an eye out, she wouldn't have to run into the guy again and be able to get a proper gauge of the place for what it was actually worth. Establishments of entertainment in the area were far and few in between, and she couldn't let one sour apple ruin the basket of potential opportunity.

It was still daytime when she had arrived at the schoolhouse, so Kelsi wasn't surprised to find it lacking in activity. She knew when the sun was up, business could be slow. Bars and lounges were nightlife, and it wouldn't be another hour or two before the usual suspects would start to filter in. After paying the entry fee with a spool of twine she nicked from an Amherst stall, she decided she would hole herself in a booth until it got later and more Luperci came in.

She walked down the hallway and entered the showroom and saw that a small handful of canines were already seated, nursing drinks between idle conversations. Kelsi made a point not to stare, not wanting to catch someone's eye and draw attention to herself just yet. But, as she sat at an empty table, there was little else for her to do in the parlor but people-watch.

Aside from the bartender manning the counter, there were a pair of Luperci chatting with each other. A man and a woman, both wolves from what she could guess; the woman had large ears that made Kelsi think perhaps she may have been a hybrid of some sort. Meanwhile the man was huge, like a tall and side shadow that had been lifted off the ground and made solid by bulky muscle.

Admittedly the size of the man intimidated Kelsi and she was careful not to be caught staring, pretending to be tuning her lute, only sneaking peeks and tilting her silver ear towards their table to overhear their conversation when she was sure they were oblivious to her presence.

They weren't discussing anything of acute interest to her when she had started eavesdropping. Something about work, or something to that effect. She glanced at the man as he talked about the woman staying the night. He touched his face, outlining his muzzle and the myriad of scars that decorated it. He was a weathered wolf, that much was clear.

Kelsi became bold enough to look above his nose and his moving mouth and towards his eyes. A pair of copper-gold eyes regarded his company, contrasting against his dark and ragged fur. Kelsi paused.

Her eyes glanced back at the woman. Large ears, yes, and a dark brown mask that ringed around piercing blue eyes. The magician's heart skipped a beat, and a discordant strum eked from the lute from where she accidentally plucked a string in her haste to set it down on the table. She sat there in a state of shock and for a moment, despite her worry and excitement and anxiety for her quest, she was paralyzed and uncertain of what to do.

Kelsi felt that if she spoke, the wolves would disappear like morning mist in the sun. It would shatter the illusion that these two could have been the Luperci she was looking for. If there was no denial, no clarification that they were simply uncanny look-alikes, then she could pretend that it was them and not be wrong and know that they were real and she had found them.

But she forced herself to stand up stiffly from her seat and cross to where the others were stationed. She'd be betraying herself if she thought she'd be satisfied with a fantasy. Stories and memories not of her own had not ever been enough for Kelsi.

The momentum of her steps helped build the rising excitement within her, and by the time she reached their table her tail was wagging from underneath the edge of her shawl.

Instead of saying hello or excuse me or any other acceptable way to insert herself into the conversation, Kelsi rested her hands on the edge of the table and leaned in between them. Her mismatched eyes glittered as she turned to them in turn, searching for any recognition on their faces.

"Polliwog? Mayfly?"
[WC — 1,027]
Battalion had to consider a lot when it came to the Citadel. Part of her was a bit afraid of the reception they would get. She hoped that going there with Lossë's grandmother would help show they had brought the vulnerable with them. A lot of the other vulnerable canines had left before that, even. Liam and his group had gone somewhere protective for the young. They were going somewhere protective for the old... and those who might be ill prepared for a fight. Herself among them. There was no saying for sure, but she had an inkling she might need to count herself among the vulnerable and at risk right now for more reasons than just she wasn't a trained fighter. There might be other lives at stake if she went to fight, ones she would do anything to protect.

"If there's, um, room... I could use a good night's sleep... I'll have to talk to Lossë, though. We're also both anxious to get back to our traveling group. His grandma's with them and I'm sure they could use more hands to help with the animals we do have." her tail flicked lightly as she considered this. Siora was keeping them safe for now. They had more animals than canines, though, which meant it had probably not been an easy journey for any of them. Hopefully Daisy and Skunk were behaving themselves. If not, she'd given Siora permission to eat the buck, at least. She'd like to keep Daisy, but if Skunk was going to be too troublesome then he was better off as food. Daisy would undoubtedly stay cooperative.

Before she could say anything more, a pair of hands appeared and she looked to see who it was. The stranger had two different colored eyes, one bronze and one blue. Her face was an interesting split that reminded Bat of her mate, though she was absolutely certain of course this was not Lossë, nor was it anyone she had ever met from his family. Which made her intrusion - and flickering gaze between the two wolves - a strange one. Especially when she said something entirely unexpected.

Bat froze at the names and looked more closely at the girl. There was no one who should've known her birth name that was this age. The last time she had used it was when she was a lot younger, probably not too long after she had found her trading troupe. Before she had figured out the name that she wanted to switch to. Even if she'd somehow learned it from one of those traders, though, how on earth would the girl know her name and Polliwog's? This was all a bit strange. "Um, sorry, do I know you?" she asked, confusedly looking between the girl and her brother.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
He was already calculating how he could go about helping Bat and her husband find a place to sleep for the night. "I mean, I assume the guy is more into regular beds instead of dens? At the very least you two can share where I sleep when I sleep. I'll be up most of the night anyway with the bar running and all. You two might be awake and ready to move again before I even want to rest." it would be cramped, but if they were in Lupus they'd be comfortable. Hell, they were mates. Gross as it was, maybe they liked sleeping all on top of each other anyway. He couldn't fault anyone for enjoying the warmth of another's company. Even if it was weird to think about it in reference to Bat.

Their conversation was ended abruptly by someone new showing up. Rather rudely, too, with her hands planted on the table and her two-toned eyes looking between the two of them in a weird way. His ears flicked back in annoyance and his hand went automatically to his sword. Who the hell was this? And why did they know his name? More importantly, why did they know Bat's former name? She seemed as confused as he was, so apparently this wasn't someone she knew. Which didn't help clear things up at all. The only thing he could think was that it was some sort of setup. He wasn't sure what the trick was, but he was wary of the way she had just come over popping out their names like they mattered.

"Look, kid, I don't know how you know my name or my sister's former name, but if it this is some sort of shakedown it isn't going to work." he assumed someone who knew both of those names was probably from Silver Falls or something. Though why they'd get sent after him and Bat, he wasn't sure. He had always figured they just let the two fall into obscurity. As far as the younger generation would be concerned, they had never existed. Better to erase them entirely than try to explain why they were gone. Besides, this canine looked to have some other species in the mix besides wolf. Which was very much not like Silver Falls.

Though, come to think of it... there was something kind of familiar about the girl. Reminded him a bit of someone he had once knew. He just couldn't quite place his finger on what exactly it was about her mannerisms or appearance that registered familiarity.
Kelsi was realistic, of course. As she splayed her hands on the table and pronounced each wolf by name, she did not expect for them to know who she was. How could they, when they had never met her in their life? She wasn't anything to them but a stranger that had appeared from thin air with uncanny information.

But she thought, perhaps, when they looked at her, there would be some level of recognition. That they would see the marks of familiarity etched into her own features, a reflection of their own. Or maybe by some innate sixth sense that would tell them she was their blood. They could feel it, couldn't they?

It was clearly telegraphed that they, in fact, did not feel it as Polliwog went for his sword. He didn't draw the blade, but the gesture turned Kelsi's mood on its head and her smile swept away into sheepish alarm and she raised her hands defensively, taking a half-step back.

"What, a shakedown?" she echoed in laughing disbelief. "Don't be ridiculous! Why would I do that?" Someone of her stature against someone like Polliwog, much less a two versus one situation? That was a fantastic leap in calculations that not even she would try to math out in her favor.

And what was this about a former name? She gave a shake of her head to rattle her thoughts into order and to focus on what was more important at that moment: de-escalating the conversation before she was stabbed, or worse, squandering her chance. Because this was them, this was Polliwog and Mayfly.

Kelsi's resolution found its feet again and she focused on Polliwog—her father, her dad, the legend Sigi had told her all about—and fixed him with a gaze that was somewhere between unbridled enthusiasm and desperate imploring.

"Look, I know you don't know who I am, and this is going to sound super crazy, but I swear—!" The magician's body was trembling so fiercely with excitement that she had to plant her hands on the table once again to steady herself before she started hopping around. She needed to slow down, break it down into pieces, lay out the history so that maybe it'd jog his memory before she hit him with the whammy.

"Okay, okay, um! A year ago, a little over a year ago, last autumn give or take. You returned from your life at sea and you were in Portland, you were looking for your sister, Mayfly." She pointed at Battalion. "Or, er, excuse me, formerly. And you stayed a couple of nights to recoup and gather intel, right? With the Grimalkin troupe. And let's say, to put it delicately, you cozied up with a woman named Aerith Singwell."

Here she hoped the name would spark something in Polliwog. He had to remember her mother, right? When the lightbulb didn't immediately appear over his head, she lifted a hand to cover the dark part of her face, her blue eye staring into Polliwog. "You know, Aerith?"

Perhaps, somewhere in the depths of Polliwog's mind, between all his flings and short-term affairs, there was a silver-haired woman. A woman whose demeanor was as frigid as her frosty eyes, a statue carved beautiful and sharp and poised. Aloof, she had little interest in most things. It seemed that she only came alive when she sang in the day and when she listened, enraptured, as Polliwog told her about the stars at night.

Maybe that was why she chose him to warm her bed. It was a mystery why a woman of her haughtiness and pride shared herself with a sailor of no renown. It may as well have been the simple delight of hearing him talk. What else was there?

There had been nothing special about the tryst. There was no greater attachment from Aerith beyond her interest in astrology, and she didn't expect any greater affection from him, either. When he left, there was nothing to miss.

But Polliwog left ripples in his wake, and it culminated in a wave that came rushing back to him after all this time.
[WC — 690]
don't mind me switchin' up my reply order because it makes more sense this way this time. XD

The scrawny girl stepped back and raised her hands in the "I mean no harm" gesture that everyone seemed to make when they thought there was the possibility for a fight. His hand released the hilt of his sword and went back to the table. She didn't seem to have any weapons on her. Which didn't automatically mean she wasn't dangerous, but it did mean he probably didn't need to assume the worst. Especially since she seemed more likely to vibrate herself into non-existence than suddenly attack him. If she was pretending to just be some excitable but friendly critter, she was doing a damn good job. Top notch acting. Plus, of course, she knew his name, along with his sister's. Which meant she knew something. It probably should've dawned on him why she could know those things, but he could be incredibly dense about some things.

The wolf girl was talking a mile a minute and he was listening. The story she gave initially could've meant anything. He stopped at a lot of ports a lot of times and he always asked about his sister. Until recently, it had been his main objective in life to find her. There were probably a handful of canines in each of the ports he'd visited who could've told that part of the tale. Why any of them would travel here to find him was beyond Polli, though. Unless they'd had information about Mayfly aka Battalion's whereabouts. But obviously he already had that, since she was right there. Plus he wouldn't have been easy to track down himself...

She covered her bronze eye so that he could just see the blue and... there was a momentary flicker in him that went kind of oh shit as some vague recollection fell upon him. That eye did look familiar. A bit. There was a different spark in the eye before, though. Someone who had a bit more... experience in their life and a lot more frost to it. Someone who he had been kind of surprised agreed to a tumble, considering she had been rather haughty. It was only when he had talked of stars that she had opened a bit. Even then she had never been affectionate, their collision more a matter of scratching a mutual itch than anything else. He hadn't forgotten. There had just never been a reason to recollect. Until now.

"Oh, hell." he muttered, his hand running through his mane and his ears doing one quick nervous twitch. This was something he should've been anticipating as a possibility. It was one reason some sailors kept their trysts only with those who shared the same genitalia. It was the only foolproof way to avoid unintended consequences like children. Wog had known it was possible he had some sort of random offspring out there in the world. He had just figured if they existed, they probably wouldn't find him. It wasn't like there was some heavy backstory in any of his past hookups. Why should they even want him to be their children's father? He assumed they'd find someone else to help raise the kids or raise them on their own. It wasn't like there was a way for them to contact him regarding child support.

Except here was one very ardent, very living proof of his connection with Aerith. Now that he looked at her with the knowledge, he could see it. The bronze eye mirrored his own and her dark fur was probably from him too. Her mother had a lighter palette to her coloration in general. "I... well, I don't really know what to say. Of course I remember Aerith I just, er, didn't expect to see her again. Or ... anyone else ..." he looked at his sister, then back at the girl. What timing his daughter had. Hell's bells, his daughter...

"You're going to have to catch me up on your life, starting with your name I suppose. Are you hungry? Thirsty?" at that question he looked between both of the ladies, wondering if either wanted something to eat or drink. Mostly because right now his instinct said bolt bolt bolt and maybe if he stepped away for a moment, he could collect his thoughts.
Bat laughed at Polli's question, because it was ridiculous. The idea of this scrawny girl coming over to shake them down in La Estrella Roja seemed... well, quite silly. What could she even have that would force the scarred sailor and his sister to do anything? Not to mention she had come over with a great deal of enthusiastic excited energy, not at all like someone who was coming over to blackmail them. Honestly, sometimes she marveled that her brother had managed to survive on his own with how dense he could be.

Though she remained as baffled as Polliwog as to why this girl knew them. Obviously she knew that Polliwog had gone to different places and asked for her. So it wasn't that strange that someone might have those two names connected. The strange part was why they cared. Why would someone be looking for them? Locally, she had never shared her name outside of her brother mentioning it when he found her. Which meant that whatever the connection was, it came back to Wog.

The enthusiastic girl was talking again, spinning a yarn that started in Portland. It seemed that place was the center of a lot of stories, including this wolf's own journey. She found it dawning on her before her brother even seemed to grasp what the girl was saying. Her mouth opened a bit in surprise, blue eyes narrowing to look at her brother with a bit of a scowl. Personally she was not a fan of unattached trysts. It was rude of her to judge, she knew, but this was precisely why she didn't like them. This girl was - presumably - her brother's daughter and had needed to run all over the place trying to find him. Because he had just hooked up with her mother and then left. Even if that was a mutual decision, it was hard on any children that came about because of it.

Her blue gaze flickered across the other wolf as Kelsi covered her eye, assessing if she seemed in good health. Had she been well tended by this Aerith and her Grimalkin Troupe? From what she could tell, the younger female seemed to be alright. Certainly she had energy to spare. Though it seemed to her that younger wolves always did. Energy waned the older you got, until it finally expired entirely at death.

Now that her brother had finally registered what was happening, she smiled at her niece and wagged her tail a bit. "Battalion is my name now." she said, then glanced at Polli who seemed to be fumbling as to what he should do next. She laughed again. "I've never seen you so flustered in my life, Polliwog. You really didn't think it was possible you had a child... or children out there?" she looked at Kelsi with a slight shake of her head. "I'm sorry, he can be a bit, um, well thick headed sometimes. I'm glad to meet you." though, she thought sadly, she wished it had been under better circumstances.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Although she knew it was the most (and only) reasonable way for Polliwog to recognize, much less believe, who she was, Kelsi really didn't enjoy bringing up Aerith. To her, her mother was the most inconsequential part in this story. Sure, Aerith may have been half of the reason why she even existed, but that's the only favor that she had given to her only child as far as Kelsi was concerned. And it wasn't like Aerith cared about Polliwog anyway.

Would she have even remembered his name if the Grimalkin hadn't cared to remember Kelsi's sire?

Kelsi didn't linger long on thoughts of her mother, not when realization dawned on Polliwog's face. His scowl unraveled into what she supposed was shock. This Kelsi had expected; there was simply no way for the man to have known about her and it was pretty momentous news to break. She was a big deal after all! And since there were no protests rising immediately from him, he appeared to accept the truth of the matter as it was presented before him. He was a father, and before him was his daughter. (One of them, at least.)

However, what she couldn't confidently predict would be the fallout of the revelation. Obviously not everyone was thrilled about parenthood. Her own mother had proved how much someone could object to the responsibility and obligations that came with raising a child and guiding their blood through life. The Grimalkin, for all the stories they embellished him with, never said how Polliwog felt about children. Felt about her. This was something she would have to discover, and discover it soon as Polliwog grappled with what to say.

Kelsi gripped the edge of the table in anticipation, lowering her hand to stare at him expectantly with both eyes fixed on him. She couldn't stop looking at him, not only for his reaction but just taking him all in. He was bigger than she thought he would be (or maybe she didn't think she'd be so small next to him, even if he was sitting down) and ragged with scars that she hadn't patterned in her mind. None were large or impressive, but they were numerous and split his fur unevenly. She wouldn't call it ugly per say, but… he was rough to look at, metaphorically speaking. And maybe a bit literally.

Polliwog said he didn't know what to say, and Kelsi laughed. It was a short burst, like she had to release some energy somehow, and because she didn't know what to say in response to that. But that was okay! He wasn't angry or dismissive, so that was great. So far, so good.

While Kelsi was enraptured with her father, she did occasionally glance at his sister, who was shooting him a glowering look. It made her worried, already bristling in preemptive defense if she would try to shoo her away. But when the masked woman looked at her, her expression softened and it became clear that her aunt's ire wasn't directed towards her. Kelsi allowed herself to relax and just as swiftly as it came, the tension left her body.

She was small, this little half-faced wolf. It was downright comical that something as tiny as a sprout came from a man as burly as a cedar tree. Her limbs were as twiggy, lacking defined musculature beyond what was needed for a functional canine. At least she was clean and unscarred, soft despite her gangling, youthful frame. Her eyes were bright with fire and her ears, a little too long for her head, were alert and swiveling back and forth as each wolf spoke in turn.

Kelsi laughed again as Battalion ribbed Polliwog and piped up. "I'm so glad to meet you too, Ms. Popular! How does it feel to have had two people coming after you?" This was mostly a rhetorical question made in jest. It was pretty obvious all eyes were for her father. But still, there was genuine excitement as she crinkled her eyes at Battalion. "It's so good to finally find you. Both of you!"

She turned back to Polliwog to address his question. Look at him! Asking if she was hungry, thirsty! He cared about her so much already that he was performing basic etiquette. "Yeah, both!" Taking this as an invitation to sit at the table, she pulled out a seat and planted her rump, scooching the legs across the floor so that she was cozy against the table. She had her hands clasped together, looking oh so darling as her feet swayed contently in the air.

"And my name is Kelsi! Honestly, not a lot happened after you left." If Polliwog stepped away at any moment during her "not a lot happened" life story to fetch refreshments, she would have paused and patiently waited for him to return. If he brought back food, the only reason she wasn't scarfing anything down was because she was so busy talking.

"I was born last winter, on the longest night of the year. As far as I'm aware, I'm the only child—I don't have any littermates, or older siblings or anything from my mom. I have some cousins, but not on your side of the family." She glanced at Battalion and raised a cheeky eyebrow, smiling coyly. "Unless?

Anyway, I grew up with the Grimalkin, and—well, actually, Bat might not know about them. They're a troupe in Portland, with the best shows in the entire city! If you ever go there, go to The Lucky Cat and tell 'em I sent you—no no, tell 'em that you're family! They'd give you the best, I know they would.

Anyway, they practically raised me, taught me everything I know about magic and tricks. And they taught me how to play the lute. I gotta play a few songs for you guys. And they told me all about you, Polliwog. About all your adventures at sea and how you can read the stars and how you were looking for your sister and everything! And, well."

Here Kelsi grew sheepish, and she shrugged.

"I love the Grimalkin, really. And performing with them was so fun, I couldn't imagine anything else. But you guys are family, too. I wanted to meet you."

An unspoken and hung in the air, but she decided that maybe they needed a moment to bask in the light of her life. That was the summary of it, without inserting any fantastical details that were absolutely true. Maybe it wasn't very impressive, certainly nothing like their tales that were spun to her, but she couldn't help it. Her story was only starting. And, desperately, she wanted them to be a part of it.
[WC — 1,120]
In this matter without hesitation he would agree with Battalion that he was a rather thick skulled idiot, because he should have anticipated this possibility. Once he took to land, there was a far greater chance of some potential offspring deciding they needed to find good ole da. He'd have thought a son more likely... didn't daughters usually cling to their mother's skirts more? Then again, Aerith had never seemed the mothering sort when he had briefly known her. It was entirely possible she'd encouraged or even pushed Kelsi out the door on this adventure.

The girl had such an intense, wanting stare that made him feel distinctly uncomfortable. It was the look of someone who was expecting something great out of him. Polliwog hadn't had anyone expect something great out of him for... a very long time. Which made him feel like squirming. He had long ago trained away the notion of wiggling like a fish when uncomfortable, though, so he didn't squirm. He just really felt like maybe he should. It was some of that pent up energy he wanted to expel by going to fetch drinks, food, blankets, joints, anything Kelsi or Battalion wanted so long as he could get a breather. Otherwise he might break his own training and end up squirming anyway.

Kelsi and Battalion at least seemed to be starting up some sort of banter, which was ... good. He dearly wished the reason for Tali being there wasn't so that she could say farewell herself. It would've been nice for her to help him with this newfound child and what the hell he was supposed to do. The girl was grown enough to be out on her own, obviously, but should she be here? La Estrella Roja wasn't exactly a place for young innocent things. He assumed too much, though, and knew too little about this daughter of Aerith.

She agreed she'd like both drink and food, which caused him to hop up to fetch it right after hearing her name. Kelsi. It was nice, he supposed, though not what he'd have picked. He'd have picked a name from the stars. Andromeda or Lyra or Zosma, words he had seen in books that listed off names once used for various celestial bodies. He hadn't been there to put in an opinion, though, so Kelsi it was.

He didn't stay away long, just long enough to grab a drink - sweet, like Bat's - for the girl and some food. Tali hadn't said anything about eating or drinking, so he assumed just the one cooked rabbit haunch would suit. It was sort of cold, since it had been leftover from his own lunch... but hey, beggars couldn't be choosers, and there wasn't much else for him to bring immediately for sustenance. He'd have to consider her more carefully in the future when he made food. If she stuck around.

Did he want that? He wasn't sure. It was an entirely new concept to him, being a father, especially to someone already grown. What were the expectations on him as a parent? All the formation of who she was had already occurred. Even if she thought he was some missing piece to her existence, they didn't know each other. Blood mattered, he supposed, but not as much as she might think.

Polli returned and placed the meal before his daughter, then sat again to listen to her story. An only child; he breathed a soft sigh of relief. At least she didn't have a trailing series of other daughters or sons that he would need to mind as well. Of course there was always the chance he had others, but not specifically with Aerith. There had probably been worse potential mothers among his trysts than her. At least she'd had the Grimalkin around her.

He remembered the troupe fondly. Growing up among that group must have been enjoyable, interesting, full of spun tales and joyful days... he hoped. She seemed energetic and healthy enough, she clearly hadn't been too poorly tended. Aerith might've neglected her, but the Grimalkin wouldn't have. It actually was good to remember about them, with Bat going to Portland it might be useful for her to know she had a connection to them via his daughter.

"Well, I am glad you grew up with the Grimalkin. I remember them being a good group. I could've asked for no better place for... you to grow up." my daughter was what he had considered saying, but it still felt too awkward to phrase it that way. "Unfortunately the timing is a bit off, or perhaps it's perfect. Battalion was about to head to Portland with her new mate because their pack is under attack. Which means you won't be able to get to know her much at the moment, but ... well, I live here, so." if she wanted to hang out with her good ole dad, then she could hang around here.

And he'd put in a good word to Marlowe for her to do... something. Other than be a Lady of the Night. He might not have adjusted to the idea of having a daughter yet, but she was certainly too young for something like that. Plus it made him mildly uncomfortable to think of her plying that trade anyway. Despite how hypocritical that was of him, a guy who had never had a romantic connection that wasn't brief and basal.
Battalion wished this meeting had occurred sooner. If she had been in New Caledonia still, she'd have offered to have Kelsi stay with her for a bit. A few days, a week, maybe even more if the pack would allow it. This was, after all, her niece and not just some visitor. Though she had noticed that the girl's eyes were mostly for her father. It was obvious that Polliwog was the main wolf that Kelsi wanted to see, Bat was just a sideshow. Which was understandable, it certainly didn't hurt the hunter's feelings. Mostly she was waiting to see how Polli was going to take all of this once he managed to process.

"Ah, well, it is a surprising turn of events. I, um, have certainly never been so sought after." she admitted with a laugh. "It is very good to meet you too." Losse would probably be amused to hear the story. Maybe they could even do a quick intro of uncle to niece before the two had to part. Pretty soon she'd probably slip away herself to let dad and daughter get to know each other a bit better one on one.

Kelsi, her niece's name was Kelsi. Polliwog went to fetch the food and drink for his daughter. She considered saying something to fill the empty air while they waited, but she knew it wouldn't take long. Instead Tali took a sip of her drink. Polliwog was back soon enough and the girl could continue her life's story. Tali's ears perked to listen closely, very curious indeed about the young female's upbringing.

When asked coyly about cousins on this side, she laughed. "Not from me, um, yet anyway. I actually just got married, so I suppose that could change sometime soon." it might already be changing, but she wasn't certain enough to say with confidence that she was pregnant right now. If she did turn out to be pregnant, she'd send word back to Polli to let him know. Until then, it could be said that there were no cousins. "If there are cousins, they're probably in Silver Falls." Polli could fill Kelsi in on their birthplace later, presumably.

The story Kelsi told was actually helpful to Taleon, since she would be in Portland soon enough. Knowing a place she could go where she had a connection was good. It also meant that she could likely have an easy place to hear how Kelsi was doing, if she regularly sent word home. Polliwog had already begun talking about the timing of this meetup and she smiled sadly.

"Yes, unfortunately... I am glad I got a chance to meet you before I left, though. And I'll be sure to stop by The Lucky Cat when I get there." she stood up, draining the last of her drink. "I, um, should probably see how Losse is doing... and let the two of you catch up a bit on your own. I'm sorry I don't have more time..." she shook her head sadly. "I may still take you up on the offer of a place to sleep for a bit, Polli, I'll talk to Losse and let you know."

Part of her wanted to sit and chat more, but she suspected Kelsi might like some one on one time with Polliwog. She also really did need to go find her mate and see how he was, as well as filling him in on this recent development... she supposed if one of the two other canines protested her leaving, she'd stay. It just felt like it'd be better for them to get to know each other first, then some other time maybe she could get to know her niece too.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again

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