OOC: Zuri's trying to find a home. Figured it would be a place to at least start. +300 words.
The Ruined Vasts, for all the splendor it had, had no living spaces. It wasn't quite what Zuri had imagined when Baelish explained to her it was a place of old stone structures. Well in all fairness he wasn't wrong. None of them had roofs save for the old archways that were still standing, and much of it was not even left standing. The archways would prove to be nice for when the bats needed a place to either hang during the day outside of a home she found, or even just a nice location to relax. There was still so much of this that was new to her, and even with the few interactions she had with those in her new home, it was nice to be secluded to adjust and gather her thoughts.
After already spending some time in the day, it was nice to be around at night. Wandering the streets of Winterwynd gave the pale woman more of an idea of what the homes were like here. There was never going to be anything of splendor like there was in the castle back home. Perhaps that was for the better. The royal family had prided itself on its home leaving the rest of those in Mortimer cast aside for other living spaces. Even so, there had to be something else than just the normal structure.
After much aimless wandering, besides wandering around the sides of the church, Zuri stopped outside one of the buildings. Perhaps it was just the location of where it was, being so close to the church, but there was something she had been looking for. It was clear the stones were worn by time, and any other pieces of the home were decaying. Stepping closer to the entrance, she pushed open the door, taking a look at the dark interior. This had to be investigated.
As the skies above became streaked with brilliant hues of pinks and golds, Calia found that she could drop the cowl. The hood was helpful in shielding her sensitive eyes from the sun’s harsh rays, however she found that it became a tad warm during especially sunny days. But with the sun dipping below the horizon, the albino allowed her curls to spill freely, rather than tucking them in the hood.
Felix spoke to her of a newcomer who had arrived to the Vale’s borders a few nights ago. Of course, the Ravenking confided in his Nightstag of all the newcomer the Vale welcomed past their scent line. But one particular note of interest was that this Crowstooth presented red eyes and pale fur much like herself.
Of course, Calia was intrigued. She had only come across one other albino in her lifetime, when she had first made port in these lands and was still getting to know the territory. Memories of that foreboding castle still sent shivers up her spine. But the pale woman who greeted her was more curious than hostile, and it hadn’t necessarily been a poor encounter. Just a cautious one.
Calia had a hunch that the newcomer, should she truly share her condition, would be the most active at sundown. And sure enough, a pale streak working its way across the old Brassard Church proved her right. The Nightstag made no move to voice her presence just yet, although she took little care in treading lightly.
”Anything catch your eye yet, dear?” Calia spoke cheerfully as the woman finally paused in front of one of the empty households. The stone structure that Crowstooth peered into was in desperate need of some care, however its foundation was strong and sturdy. Compared to some of the other buildings clustered in Winterwynd, this home was fit for a queen.
As Calia drew closer, the woman’s lithe figure and scent tickled a familiar memory in her brain. It was the roses she adorned in her hair and the ruby brooch at her throat that made the Nightstag’s eyes fly open in recognition. ”It’s you,” Calia breathed, far more shocked than she was upset. For the Crowstooth that stood before her was none other than the same albino who greeted her at that shrouded castle many moons ago. Although she went by a different name back then.
”Are you Zuri?” Calia asked quizzically, raising an eyebrow. What reason could the albino possibly have for going by a fake alias? It wasn’t as if she were one to blend in with the masses.
With the darkness of night blanketing the land, it was a bit hard to see the interior without some kind of light. Then again, she could feel around for what the inside looked like. From what she could observe in the doorway, time had taken more than just the stones on the outside. This place was in need of some care, and it seemed no one else in the pack was going to want this place. Stones did cover the inside walls along with some rot from other resources. It could be a base to be improved upon.
Zuri paused to the sound of a voice coming from behind her, one that sounded familiar. Theo had been the first one to mistake her for someone by the name of Calia, apparently from what she had inferred to be another albino. At first, she had passed it off as nothing more than just coincidence; however, this could no long be ignored.
As the pale woman's head turned over her shoulders... sure enough, there she was. It was the same woman she had met before. So this was where she had come after all that time. Well better that she had come here instead of continuing to live around Mortimer. With the more recent events, there was no telling what anyone from the inside would do to such a pure outsider.
Ignoring her first question, red eyes turned down on Calia as her face shifted. It had clicked in her mind as well, "And it's you..."
The other pale woman's face shifted from shock to curious. When they had last met, Zuri had given her a false name, just as was common practice for anyone within Mortimer's walls. Now, in a place where she could no long follow under such rules, she had given the leader of this kingdom her real name. Guess Felix was the one who told her who she was, "Yes. I am."
At Calia’s call, the pale woman’s head turned, her scarlett gaze narrowed. It was then that Calia was certain this was the same woman that she had met during her travels so many moons ago - for the ruby red brooch on her throat glistened just as she remembered. Zuri’s own eyes widened in recognition as her mind clicked in place. For a heartbeat, there was silence as the two albinos looked the other up and down.
Then, ”Your name was not Zuri when I met you before?” This was spoken as a question rather than an accusation. Whatever false alias slipped through the woman’s tongue during their first encounter, it certainly had not been Zuri. Or perhaps Zuri was a false title she claimed? Calia shook her head in confusion, for what reason did a woman have to offer a fake name to a perfect stranger?
Nonetheless, a smile grew on the Nightstag’s features. The past was in the past, and whatever actions Zuri did during her time in that grievous castle were of no concern to Calia. As long as trouble was kept outside of the Vale’s borders, that was. But all was well now, and all that mattered was making sure that the new Crowstooth felt right at home.
And that would start with Zuri claiming a place of her own.
”Well, times have certainly changed! I’m Calia, as you know, Nightstag of Mistfell Vale.” The Nightstag spoke her title with an air of grandeur, clearly proud of her ranking within the Pack. Calia moved in closer to Zuri, standing besides her as she looked the stone building over. ”Not too shabby, hm? Some lovin’ will do it good.” The Nightstag spoke in approval of Zuri’s house choice, patting the stone work.
It was a bit different from the castle she used to live in, but quaint, nonetheless.
So Calia had remembered their first encounter, just as Zuri had.. and she even recalled the name she had offered to the other white woman. It was common practice in Mortimer to speak to outsiders with a false name, a practice the Overlord had borrowed from only a kingdom she had heard about in passing, Salsola. It made sense though. If they were after something, what reason would they have for giving out their real name and the location of their home?
Arms crossed as she shook her head. There was, once again, no reason to hide anything now that she had run away, "No. My name has always been Zuri. I lied to you when we first met." She paused, head lowering in thought before it was brought back up a moment later, "Do you recall the kingdom I warned you about when we first met? Mortimer?"
The leader was quick to drop the conversation about the past, rather focusing on the home she had picked out for herself. Calia had moved to her side, though she stepped in to investigate further. Fingers traced along the stone work, red gaze peeking out of the darkness back at the other woman, "Yes it will. Reminds me of the stone building back home. It's why I picked it."
A squeak brought the woman's attention towards the doorway, a small bat with large ears hanging from it, "Do you approve of it too then Darion?"
At Calia’s inquiry, the other albino woman crossed her arms in front of her chest - was this a defensive position? But a small sigh escaped the woman’s lips as she shook her head, admitting to her falsehood upon their first meeting. While Calia was surprised to hear this confession, she didn’t feel upset - after all, she had not been a Nightstag when she first met the pale woman. ”Was this a common practice, in your old kingdom?” Calia asked, curious.
Boy, did that looming Mortimier castle give her the heebie-jeebies that first time she’d stumbled across it. Something about the forbidding stone structure gave the shepherd chills racing down her spine. She had been quick to heed Zuri’s warning, ushering her goats from the scourged lands. In the dying light, Zuri appeared just as she had that first night, her pale fur giving her an almost ethereal glow in the shadows.
Zuri spoke aloud, but not to her. The Nightstag’s ears flicked curiously as she caught movement in the upper corner of the doorway. A small bat unfurled itself, revealing ears slightly too large for its body. ”What a curious little thing!” Calia exclaimed, observing at the creature ”Never did see one so close before.” Most bats preferred to be observed from a distance, but little Darion did not appear fazed by Luperci company.
The Nightstag pushed experimentally on the door - and then with some more weight until the door opened inward with a slow creak. As old as the building was, Calia was relieved to find that there were no damp, musty smells that alerted to any leaks in the roof. Compared to their muggy summer surroundings, the interior was refreshingly cool.
”Mind if I check out the place with you, dear?” Calia inquired, awaiting Zuri’s permission.
Zuri had to adjust. Just because she may use some of the same tactics when outside of the Vale, not that she had done so yet, didn't mean she should use the same when she was at home. There was a different atmosphere between the members in this kingdom and her previous one. In Mortimer, it was safe to keep some secrets close to the heart, lying to even some of its own members.
The pale woman gave Calia a nod in answer to her question, "Yes, but think about it like this. I may not have told you everything about my kingdom, but from what I had told you, would you have been comfortable knowing that was where I had come from? Do you think any outsiders would be? We value our secrets and it helps to build trade relations." And help keep those with the same beauty the princess held away from being made a sacrifice at a certain point in the kingdom's culture.
Both pairs of crimson eyes moved over to the little bat hanging in the doorway. Alexandros had to be nearby, just not here at the door. Zuri stepped back over, making sure not to bump into the other woman as her hand reached up to the small bat, who happily moved into the open palm. A small squeak greeted her as a finger moved over the small animal's head, "This one here is Darion. I have another one, Alexandros. Not sure where he is though."
The Crawstooth glanced over to the woman as she made her way inside, giving a nod, "Of course. I need to have a look around it anyways to see if there is anything I will need to take into consideration." The inside seemed to be very open, not much along the floors since stone held better than some of the other homes in the area. There wasn't much in terms of furniture, so that would be something she needed to acquire as well, "I don't suppose anyone would mind if I went scavanging through some of the other unclaimed homes?"
A scent would mark the taken ones, but the open ones should still be fair game right?
Though the Crowstooth may not have been truthful in the past, today she was honest and straightforward as she answered her Nightstag’s inquiries. Calia’s brow frowned a little in confusion, however she nodded along in a slow agreement at Zuri’s practical reply. ”I guess not.” the albino admitted with a shrug. The castle from which the newcomer hailed from was a strange place, one that sent shivers up her spine. Calia didn’t see herself as a superstitious woman, the fairy tales she left in the hands of her Ravenking. But there was something wrong at the Mortimier castle.
There was something otherworldly in the Crowstooth too, from the bright scarlet that accented her eyes to the silent way that she moved. Calia was an albino, yes, but Zuri was positively ethereal. Not necessarily unnerving, like her old home. Simply otherworldly.
”I’d imagine its a bit hard to keep track of those critters!” Calia acknowledged with a chuckle. Dareion cocked his head to the side, studying the stranger in curiosity. ”Can’t put any bells ‘round their necks like you can with goats!” The idea of having such small animal companions almost frightened the Nightstag. It would be so easy to misplace them, or even crush on them during an unfortunate accident. No, she would stick to her hardy goats for now.
”Of course!” Calia shook her head at the pale woman’s question. ”Anything left behind in those things are ripe for picking.” Although the Nightstag could not promise that anything of value would remain by now, in those unoccupied residences. Most desirable items had been plundered far before the Vale’s formation.
”What are you thinking of adding?” Calia prodded with a friendly smile ”A rug, perhaps? A table and some chairs?” The way one furnished their home said a lot about a person. For instance, those with many chairs and seating arrangements were often extroverted individuals who frequently invited guests in their home.
Calia seemed to come to the same conclusion Zuri had. The pale leader had agreed that Zuri was better off lying to her rather than telling the truth. Then again, Mortimer was in the past. Mistfell Vale was her new home, and the one that she would devote her being to. She had broken free of her chains and gotten the freedom she desired. There would be another time and a place to talk about the things in the past... if that was really what she wanted.
Their attention shifted over to something more light-hearted, something within the present. It was probably a bit odd having a member that handled bats. It was nice to see that they had some kind of common interest in animals. When she had met the other pale woman along that hill so long ago, she had a herd of her own animals with her, ones under her own care. A smile moved over her face, "I suppose they can be in a way, but I have grown used to their companionship. I think they are enjoying the freedom we all now have. I don't want to have them tied down to one set place." Gaze shifted back down to the woman at side, "Plus, I have trained them some. They could prove useful for scouting or other necessities, especially in the middle of the night."
Not that it might be a danger at night with two albinos choosing to be awake at this hour, but most were still sleeping by now. That was just the fact of the matter.
This home she was looking over... it would never be anything like the castle was back home, and it wouldn't have the same luxary feeling that the royal family got on a daily basis... but maybe that was a good thing. For all her life, most things had been handed to her. This was a chance to start new, to actually work her way up the rank ladder and build up her wealth from within the new kingdom. Whatever she may find would not be in the best condition to start, but it could always be remade or replaced, maybe even improved upon.
Moving to one room that seemed to have a carved out spot on a raised up part of the wall, "I will need at least a table and some chairs for seating, just in case anyone wants to come over. I need to look at the rest of this home, but I'd like one room for the bats and another for myself. I'll have to see what the other homes around here have before I start taking things."