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The hairless cat led Alenia through the sitting room, to the downstairs hall and then towards the front doors outside, and then up a staircase that wound higher, higher into a tower. Windows dotted the ascent, and when they arrived at the top it was a locked wooden door.
The cat rubbed against it, meowing loudly once she reached it.
There was no noise from inside, save a soft, barely audible hum, brief. Silence.
The latch slid back on the door and it creaked inward. Myhrr slipped inside immediately, opening it just enough to admit her body and trotted across the large rug to the heaping bundle on the far side of the chamber, underneath which something crawled. Under the dark fabric it looked like it was alive. The cat got up on the softly shifting mound.
The shaft of light that allowed some relief in the room revealed what wasn't a bed, more like a large cushion surrounded by other cushions. She nosed at a pale face that shifted a bit in response, shrugging its shoulder, before a hand came out, pulling free of something shiny and black, and pet over her head.
"[B Hello there,]" came a sleep sodden man's voice in a murmur. A long-fingered hand stroked over the pink animal. She pushed her face against his and he closed his eyes against it, ushering her closer and nudging into her to kiss at her.
"[B Where did you go, hm?]" he whispered before pulling her deeper into the blankets. She meowed not particularly in protest but in surprise as she was acquired pushing her face up against his again.
Alvér noticed, as he was tucking back in, that the door was still ajar, sending in light from the hall window. Guess it didn't close after Myhrr entered, he cracked open an eye, squinting in the light and shifted to bring a hand up and magic it closed when he froze. Both eyes opened, seeing a figure standing in that light, and his face grew pale, shoulder shifting up defensively. No one should be here. He couldn't yet see and be certain it was Alenia. The amnesiac.
The eyes were deep and black and shiny, staring at her.
After a long day traveling, coupled with a rather stressful night, Alenia was exhausted. She slept for much longer than she normally would. And when she did wake, she was not ready to move. This bed was too comfortable. It felt a shame to leave when she spent all night warming it up. So, the woman spent another while just lying in the mass of pillows, looking around and thinking. She thought of the one who lived her. Her night’s rest had not brought the memory back, despite being surrounded by so many reminders and hints. The state of this place, being in decidedly more disrepair than the rest of the house, probably said a lot about this person, but nothing came to her mind. Eventually Alenia decided to let it be. Obsessing over it was not working, it would either come to her, or it would not. Either way she was going to have to live with it.
Crawling out of the coziness of the bed, it was time for her day to begin, though to be quite frank the day had already started without her. It must have been midafternoon by that time. At least judging by the amount of sunlight that came pouring in through the uncovered windows outside the still dark room. She found it odd how dim that room managed to stay, but put little other thought into it. For now it was off to make something to eat, which was a quick ordeal now that she knew exactly where everything was. But it did turn into another cleaning spurt as she scrubbed down and organized everything other than the oven, which she recalled handling some time prior. Given the nature of things found in kitchen, it was a bit loud. However, Alenia, fully believing herself to be alone in this house did little to abate it. That was until a little kitty came prancing in.
[b “Oh, did I disturb you?”] She received a chirp like meow in response and laughed. [b “Sorry.”] The apology was not the only thing the pale cat received though, she was also was bestowed with a bit of leftovers as a snack. That small meal seemed to perk her right up and she lined up to be pet, which Alenia gladly obliged. Her full attention was bestowed on the animal, as she sat on the kitchen floor so that it might be easier on both of them. That was until a few minutes later when the naked creature slowly sauntered off, glancing back as though she wished to be followed. And seeing as the elf had yet to deny her, she was not going to start now.
Alvér let himself wander, staying away from the house, as he pondered what to do. It felt as if he had backed himself into a bit of a corner with her lack of memory that to enter now would confuse her and potentially make her defensive. And so he stayed out. Myhrr went in with Alenia and he remained outside with the oppossum that had begun to start to expect food from his unlikely master of the estate. So he settled underneath a familiar willow and pondered. And eventually he noticed that all of the lights in the house were out, and had been for some time. And so, he crept back in, curious to know if she had gone to sleep.
She wasn't in her room... He kept searching, until his sneaking suspicion led him to his own room, and then further to the curtained post bed.
He exhaled softly, gazing at her, the slice of her face that he could see in amongst the mess of pillows that she had nestled herself in between. Why did she insist on going to the one single room he had tried to tell her to keep out of. The scratches on the wall, the mess of clothes and personal items, the dust... all evidence of his executive dysfunction and depression. His personal space to fall apart in.
Something grew inside of him, a want, tight in his stomach. He knew he shouldn’t. The thought of ‘but what if I get away with it?’ was hanging on his impulse. A soft hand reached out. Hesitated. Stopped and the curl of one finger extended to moved a curl away from her forehead, careful not to touch skin. The moon shined on her, pale among the dark upholstery. The curl bounced back and he felt a little smile quirk at the edge of his mouth.
Amused satisfaction glowed in him for another moment before the smile flattened away.
"[B Oh, Alenia,]" he breathed with a shake of his head. His eyes arose to the window. He then shifted, silent, and went to draw the drapes closed, plunging the room into full darkness now.
"[B What do I do with you?]" came another whisper directed really at himself. His robes whispered across the carpeting.
He left her there, closing the door behind him. Standing in the hallway, with the onset of morning, the creature wondered to himself mildly about where now to sequester his body. His secondary option was generally the casket in the room with the pool. However, considering how completely Alenia had forgotten everything, he had no way to guarantee she wouldn't now stake him in it, or report the monster. It was supposed to be a safe place for himself. Exhaling he ran a hand through his hair, pushing it behind his shoulders and entered into that room. He opened the casket and inside was a leather satchel. He pulled it out and held it in his arms.
There was a curdling purr behind him. Alvér turned and saw the pale shape of Myhrr in the doorway, trotting over to him. He bent and pet his thumb over her head, finishing the motion over her back and tugging gently at her tail.
"[B Let's find an alcove, shall we?]" he whispered, turning and going down the hall. He was reluctant to use one of the unused bedrooms because they felt so lonely. They weren't his, they were alien territory that he knew was someone else's. Used to be someone else's. And the only other one was Alenia's room. He didn't use that one, not wanting to intrude on her personal belongings, unlike their owner and her propensity to do exactly that. He didn't want to risk downstairs in plain view for a number of reasons mostly to do with throwing open curtains and letting in the sun...
He stopped in the entrance hall. Perhaps, then, his study. The tower. He had spent many a time fallen asleep in that tall room, that was for certain. It was also a mess but it was his mess specifically and no one had been let in before. Books, tomes, journals and papers of all his studies. It felt a bit ironic to be bringing most of his belongings back together again as if he were leaving. Not leaving but secluding himself in a smaller sanctuary. The satchel was tucked under his arm as he reached for the railing on the way up. Myhrr followed.
The creature climbed the spiraling stairs up to the tower and heitated at the door. He remembered when this was the only room he occupied in this place. Certainly, he had taken the grand master bedroom for himself when he had come, staking a claim as the master of this house, but he rarely made it out of this place in those first weeks. And yet with that frequency, once he quit the habit, he hadn't for some reason dared return. It made something in his stomach feel off. Alvér didn't want, in reality, to return to that mindset. The revenge, the anger, the pain, the [i him]. But it was him, he had never ceased to be him.
The room was filled with all of his useless knowledge and magic. It felt like bad luck, but Alvér was reminded that it was his personal fortress, cursing Alenia for making him retreat so from places he had said were his. But he hadn't wanted to disturb her. He had resisted gazing at his reflection and had little comfort in approaching a stranger in the middle of the night at this time. He would figure out what to do with her when he figured out who she was when he had rested.
He shut the door behind him. It had its magical lock on it, though the little window in it he did and could do nothing about. It showed the interior of the round tower room and its little windows, filled with a round carpet, dulled with use and a lack of cleaning. It was crammed with a bookshelf, desk, a fireplace, a mound of fabric that he had somewhat sewn together overtop of most of the discarded and unused clothing and linens he had no use for that had been left at this house and made it a sort of large cushion or round, shapeless mattress. On it, a heavy woolen blanket in a dark, soft green and blue plaid.
It was here that the creature set down his aching body, groaning softly. He gazed at the mobile at the apex of the slanted roof, watching the moonlight stream in from the window. He hadn't yet pulled the curtains closed, doing so with a flicker of his wrist that shut the little drapes over each of the three paned windows. Here he would rest for now, clutching the satchel to himself and scenting the earthen odor from within. It was familiar. It was precious.
Entering the dark building, it seemed more and more familiar the farther along she got. Alenia was able to go straight to the kitchen and pantry area. She took it as a good sign that she was going to remember eventually... that or the floorplan here was so excellent that she could guess where she was going. But that was unlikely. Besides, she vaguely recalled cooking something in here. Zucchini, she was pretty sure. Little things like that kept coming to mind as she took her time unloading her bag and finding places for everything she purchased. It was a large space, so it was not a difficult task. The only wonder was how the master of the house liked to keep things. But with how empty it was, that was not at the top of the elf’s concerns.
Once she was satisfied with what she had done with the kitchen, the fiery haired woman got started on making herself something to munch on. She was pretty tired after a relatively long day of travel, so something small would suffice before she decided to tuck in. One big hotcake was done in a flash. Opting to eat it with just a little bit of butter and a sprinkle of sugar, she did not bother with a plate. Simply folding it over and eating it as she went, Alenia decided to have more of a look around the house before bed.
Dark and drab, that was the main ambiance. But it was also quiet and calm. All in all, not a terrible atmosphere. Not after it had been cleared of some of the dust. Which she distinctly recalled spending time on. It was part of the upstairs that interested her the most. There was a sense of mischief to being there that she could not resist. Really all she found in the wing was a bathroom and a bedroom, these were familiar as well. However, something was missing. Someone, to be more accurate, Alenia had been doubting for some time that she was alone in this place. And it was not just the cat who had been following her patiently about. These rooms must have been his... yes, it was a man. His image was fuzzy in her mind and his name unable to form on her tongue. Everything else seemed to be there, it was only that one final piece she was missing. It was frustrating beyond measure. In this frustration, she began doing things for no other reason than the hope that it might jog her memory. The limit to which was crawling in the spacious bed she found. The little woman burrowed herself into the mound of pillows. She knew this was his spot, and that she sang to him here, but not him. All she found there was a reminder of how tired she was. It was more than she was willing to try and overcome to force herself back to her room. Maybe had the mountain of bedding not been quite so comfortable, she would have tried harder, but she did not. That, and the woman was hanging on to the thought that maybe, just maybe, staying here would remind her of the person she was trying to remember. That hope lulled her to sleep in the sea of pillows and warmth.
Alvér accepted the pie in his hands, staring down at it again. With her standing in ront of him like this, he was beginning to feel something heavy in his chest. She was clearly planning to come back, and not only that she had brought more than just provisions it seemed.
His greatest relief had come when the familiar sound of Myhrr had caught his attention in the woods. It had become clear to him how much support the cat gave him now that she was missing. And it wasn't as if the two were tied to one another at all times, no, and at one point the creature had tried to convince himself that perhaps she was out roaming again. But the timing of it made him think otherwise. Had made him wonder if Alenia had taken her.
And now here she was, completely without memory it seemed, and giving him another pie. The other one was still in the pantry, much depleted but still present.
He said nothing as the woman gave him thanks once more and put her bag back on to go into the house. The cat followed her. Standing there, Alvér didn't feel like he should follow. Not like this. He turned away from the manor.
A hand came up, fingers tentative, hesitating before pressing fingertips to the malformed visage. He couldn't call it a face. It was alien, wholly. He could feel how gross and spread this body had become. A roll of disgust tightened in himself. He looked down at the little pastry in his hand again. But what to do about it, now that she was in there and he here.
He didn't feel like following her and secreting the item in the pantry again for discovery. He didn't want to be looked at any longer, besides. He had done enough. Enough to her.
There was a scrabbling in the underbrush near him that took the creature's attention. The opossum, having likely smelled the peach pie was venturing toward him, little dark eyes glimmering in the moonlight. Ah, yes and his transformation had been so much worse because she was out tonight. Not hindered in her watchfulness by cloud or fog. Only the low lying mists would serve to secret him from prying eyes.
Alvér rubbed his fingers together and bent a bit, welcoming the hairy little animal closer to smell at his fingers tentatively.
He would wait, then, perhaps, and see if he was still salvageable after this grotesque length at which he had grown, now. So the creature moved, staying to the edges of the orchard, and returned to the willow tree. It was far enough from the manor's main windows that unless she was searching, perhaps he would be undiscovered.
Taking his comment as prompting to follow, Alenia was relieved to know someone had an idea of where she needed to go. As helpful as all these cuddles from the kitten were, they weren’t getting her anywhere. Not that she did not appreciate it. It even made it a little difficult to want to get going, but the little naked creature did wind up following after the man which let the elf stand as well. Her body felt heavy, but that was from all the crying. Sometimes tears took a lot out of you. This was one of those times.
Alenia let silence fall between them as they walked through the thinning trees. The sound of the long blades of grass swaying in the wind was calming. Mixed with the more intentional rustling of where they parted it to move through, she finally felt as though she was making progress to her destination. Then came the assortment of trees set into neater and neater rows as they went. It felt familiar, but the caramel eyes woman was not sure if it was because she remembered being here or in some other far off orchard. It was hard to know, even as she was standing in it.
When finally, the shape of a building came into view, that was when the petite woman knew they were on track. This was definitely something she recognized. That was exciting. If she could remember that, then truly she was not on the way to losing all her memories. It also inspired recollection as to the cat that was sticking close to the hunched figure who showed the way. Alenia turned to her with a smile. [b “This is where you belong too, isn’t it?”] The distinct memory of her roaming echoing halls rattled around in the redhead’s brain. Someone else was there too, but she couldn’t make them out as clearly. At the very least she knew where she and these groceries were destined to go. Which was good because she was starting to get hungry again.
The urge to run off toward the towering manor and see what she could piece together of what she was doing there was strong, but the woman was determined not to forget her manners. She turned to the man who helped her fully, though he was still shrouded in darkness. He blended into it as though he was a natural part of the shade. [b “Thank you so much for showing me the way. I know I would not have made it without you.”] She smiled brightly at him, her genuine thanks shining through. But she did want to do a little more than that, so she quickly shimmied her bag off and got into that. Alenia took something out of the top, it was wrapped in a cloth and set there so it might not get crushed on her trip. [b “Here, take this.”] She offered the package to him. [b “It’s a peach hand pie and the least that I can offer for your assistance.”] The feeling that it was meant for someone else was there, but the elf was sure she would be forgiven for offering it to this kind stranger.
Myhrr had since trotted back to Alenia, the one stationary between the two of them, and started rubbing along her. She ran her forehead gently into every elbow, palm and side Alenia had, purring audibly.
The creature was silent, mostly, as the elf spoke. His thoughts were a bit too quick to pay attention, he realized belatedly. The eyes glimmering in the darkness around him blinked in a flourish, as if a wave of attentiveness had washed over them when he snapped back into her current speech.
Something like a sigh passed from the thing, tired, and it shifted, looking over behind her beyond the tree she was under. Some of the eyes turned their attention as well, though many remained to look to her.
"[B I believe,]" it rumbled, "[B I know where you're going.]"
With that, a long limb reached to the tree trunk above her, the creature using it to begin to move up the bit of a hill behind her. That hand beckoned, absently, as it began to lead the way.
The cat now perked up again, looking up toward the being as it went and hopped up to follow, meowling as she went along.
It was a bit of a ways up the side of said hill, but the trees and moss soon gave way to moonlight less filtered down upon the trio. It was an overgrown field that looked more like a meadow now, complete with saplings in the tall grasses. A breeze whispered through the weeds, nudging Alenia as it tugged at her skirts to follow. The creature paused just a moment, seeming to consider something, before moving on. But it didn't step into the light, it kept to the trees at the edge and wove through that way, knowing its way through the mists. The world encased and isolated in pockets with how it filled the empty space.
With time the trees began to take on a regularity of a sort. Moving through their dappled, moonlit shade the creature led Alenia. The sweet smell of open, rotting fruit came on the breeze, the coolness of the evening giving it a crispness of a sort. The gifts of the trees, too many to eat from, shook with startled life, and echoed at distance sometimes too close with snapped twigs of hungry, lurking denizens of the orchard.
The moon returned with the end of the orchard, and through the avenue the trees, all planted in a line, gave came the shape of a large, dark manor house.
The moon began to slip behind the clouds as they reached the edge here, plunging them into deeper darkness as the creature drew pause at the edge of the orchard, letting Alenia pass.
Alenia had little idea what he was talking about when he mentioned intentions. Her assumption was that he meant what she described. And boy, was he right. Getting lost and scared in the woods was [i definitely] not her intention in coming out here. There was something else bringing her to this place and it was nearly driving her mad trying to figure out what it was. Her guide, as he put it, had not been much help in that regard. The elfin woman did not blame her for that though. She hadn't been doing much in the way of trying to follow her either. Panic got the best of her.
At the strangers rather confident statement that she would not forget, the woman looked up. He was close, but not in a threatening way. It looked as though he was trying to think of what to do. In appearance he was not half as assured as he sounded. Still, it brought a bit of a smile to her face. [b "You think so?"] The thickly robed man assured her that is was simply the nature of the forest and not her. Strangely enough that was comforting. It helped calm her, though it would be a while yet before her tears fully stopped. She was pretty worked up and emotions like that didn’t like to turn off on a whim. Even when it was embarrassing to be bawling in front of someone else.
After a moment of wiping at her face to try and dry it as to fend off the onset of the cold that was blowing by on the breeze, Alenia was trying to think of what to do next. She could probably ask if he might be able to point her in the right direction, but then he apologized, and it distracted her entirely from that line of thought. [b “You don’t need to apologize. It’s my fault for blindly running around like an idiot.”] She really did feel stupid, though there was a light tone of humor in her voice. If nothing else, she could make fun of herself to feel a little bit better. [b “But, if you wouldn’t mind, I would really appreciate your help since you seem to know your way around this place.”] Somehow, she felt like it was a lot to ask to be guided someplace when she herself did not know where she wanted to be guided. Still, she managed to get it out. [b “I’m not really sure what I am looking for, but there can’t be too much out here, do you think you might be able to point me in the direction of anything of interest?”] She had wanted to ask him to take her there, but chickened out before she could.
It was not lost on him how she tensed. It was what brought his hands up short, despite his knowledge that he was very far from himself now. Things had gotten bad. Out of control. He already felt out of control, and he was swimming with guilt for what he had already done that night. Thinking he was left by his only companion for the last years. When Myhrr had come up to him, the feeling vanished only to be replaced by a disgusted ache, a revulsion. And now, seeing Alenia shy away from him, even so subtly as her fingers tightening as he drew near, it only worsened.
Those empty sockets turned as the head did down to his hands, looking at them in their alien nature now.
The eyes that flickered in and out of existence turned back up toward the bard as she spoke. And the face, immobile and still, internally Alvér felt himself frown even with his outward inability now to do more than draw his brows together.
"[B That was not the intention,]" he said. It seemed to Alvér that his spell earlier had been taken literally. It had been too long since he had weaved, and now his hands, his tongue were slow on the uptake, lazy on wording, and now this had happened.
And was this permanent? He was trying to remember how he weaved the magic- how to take it back. He hadn't said the words, and his magic was so weak now, his ability to mesmerize so frail and unreliable. Surely it would wear.
"[B Lucky for you, you have a guide,]" the creature said, shifting slightly and glancing underneath its arm where the cat had been busying herself rubbing along him. Her ears perked up as if at the mention and she was staring at Alenia attentively. She knew exactly where she was.
The eyes caught the glimmer of slow, large tears on the woman's face. A deep twinge pulled at him, making him come close to a shiver. It was a complex feeling, full of hate and rage, most of it turned inward on himself as the cause.
Her vision obscured now, the rasp of the creature's voice was all that indicated his lingering attention. "[B You won't,]" it confirmed as if it knew of her issue, with memory and such. Confidence. "[B This forest has a curse on it to bedevil those who wander in it. It will wear.]"
Its hands still hovered, as if unsure if she wouldn't fall to pieces but reluctant to actually make contact. They curled but did not leave Alenia's space, "[B I am sorry this happened.]"
As ample a distraction as the cat was, Alenia was still very much sat with her thoughts. Her eyes never cleared of the tears pooled there, in fact a few spilled over. Though she was able to stop from openly weeping and calm her breathing back down to a somewhat normal level. Then there was that feeling again. The one like she was being watched, though it was stronger than before. It loomed closer. She began to remember despite her fear that perhaps sitting alone in the forest was not the best place for a woman to be in the middle of the night. The little creature making attempt to console her much have known that as well because she left Alenia. However, much to the elf’s surprise she did not run away but to the dark figure. The alarm she initially felt dwindled, animals were often the best judges of both danger and character. The vibrant haired woman thought it unlikely she would be harmed, though she watched as the mass approached her in a nearly liquid like manner. It must have wanted to pass by to continue on wherever it was headed now that it had collected its friend. More and more confident in this, she let her eyes fall back to the forest floor and the pile of pine needles that called it home. She would be alone soon enough.
Or so she thought... Her name was rasped out and her light brown eyes slowly came back up. In closer proximity, she had a better look at the strangely twisted figure. She wondered who, or what, they were. And more why they knew her name and were showing any concern for her here. Despite being unable to glean anything about who this was from their face or voice, there was a sense of warmth to them and that was familiar. Did she know this person? Had she forgotten them? That though renewed her fear and the grip she held on the material of her pants grew all the tighter. [b “I am lost.”] Her voice quivered. She was trying so hard to be still, but it seemed this was all too much for her. [b “There was someplace I was supposed to go, but I can’t seem to remember...”] Her words had been so soft, but they still broke at her admittance. [b “I-I thought if I found what I was looking for it would come back to me; I don’t know how long I wandered around... I never found anything.”] She was so certain there was something out there, but after saying it out loud she thought perhaps it might look as though she was searching for something that did not exist. [b “I haven’t remembered anything.”] The terror that she was going to forget more was banging around inside of her so loud it was hard to think of anything else. [b “I don’t want to forget again...”] Even with all the anxiety inside of her about her own situation, Alenia still felt a twinge of guilt for unloading this all on a stranger. Especially now that she had started to cry more readily. She looked away from them, letting her head fall to her knees, but she was still visibly trembling despite being so tightly curled into herself.
Myh’s pale, fleshy body pushes between Alenia’s gathered knees and pressed the flat of her head squarely against her stomach. The creature vibrates with a strong purr as she pressed her face to the elf and put her paws up on her abdomen. She gave a little, plaintive, rolling meow up in her face and pressed again. Her paws flexed into the material of Alenia’s bodice, tail tip twitching.
And she stayed like this, enjoying her company and complaining for her gathering tears.
Soon a [i feeling] came upon the elf. Something was watching her. A twig snapped in the woods around her. Something was there. Myhrr looked back at it, ears perked. And there. As Alenia looked up to follow her, the feeling grew stronger and she saw there, the form of a thing, great, big, and alien from a distance.
The cat gave a chirping noise and pushed off of Alenia to go trot to it, tail up in greeting. The thing moved, reaching down to stroke one long fingered hand down across the cat’s back before that great head turned back to the elf huddled among the roots of a tree.
The thing drew nearer, hand outstretching to her. It beckoned, and as she stayed still, her name was on its tongue, it came forwards. Brushing up against a tree, it creaking softly with the weight. Alenia. It drew nearer, sliding fluidly down to almost level with her despite its bulk, somehow boneless despite its clear, hunched shoulders and narrow back.
Those hands came out to her again. And the face; skeletal, bestial now, long, a maw of teeth and empty eyes and the beginnings of what seemed antlers- two pronged. It was unfamiliar, but it’s hands warmed with something gently on its skin reached for her, voice unfamiliar but with her name- low, deep. The air around it frothed with little, glinting things that blinked in and out of existence.
“[B Alenia,]” it said, drawing short of her in what seemed hesitation. “[B What’s happened?]”
The walk back was uneventful as expected. There were fewer travelers than Alenia had come to expect, but perhaps that was for the best. Fewer chances to have to deal with highwaymen. She did not wish to be stalked or followed right now. Really not ever, but she especially did not want that now. It was not that she was paranoid, per se, but who knew what kind of kerfuffle would come about it she accidentally brought someone back with her. Surely her host would not be pleased.
As the pair passed Kalenfort, things seemed to change. The air was thick and strange. Charged in a way that one could almost taste it. There was something out there, something with some ominous magic. Perhaps it would have been better to go through town where the roads would be safer, but the little elf decided not to risk it. Instead she looked over to her not-so-furry companion and spoke at her to try and ease her own nerves. [b “Almost there.”] Smiling as she made her claim, Alenia repeated it. It was well and dark now, and that did not normally bother her, but right now the bard felt like it would be harder to see where she was going in the extra shroud of the trees. Not to mention she usually came into the woods from a different direction, from the town. She would need to be extra vigilant. However, with Myh continually bumping at her leg it was hard to focus. [b “Come now, I need to pay attention, kitty. It is this way... I am pretty sure.”] She turned toward the smaller path into the thicker part of the forest. The place she was going was out there. Definitely. [b “We’ll get you home.”]
The deeper into the woods they went, the more unearthly their surrounding began to feel. Had this place always been so... unhallowed? Alenia did not remember it being so, but then again, the harder she thought about it, the less she was able to remember where exactly they were trying to go. It was in the forest, that much she was certain of... and there was someone waiting for the cat that was following her... probably... As she continued to press on, looking for anything that looked familiar, words fell out of her mouth. Starting sentences about things she was trying to remember, as if that might jog her memory, but it never did. And she would drop whatever topic she was on shortly thereafter only to start another anew. She was hopeful.
Eventually, nothing looked familiar. Alenia turned at nearly every fork in the path that came up. Surely, she would see something she recognized. But no, all she noticed were strange apparitions. They should have been unnerving, however she paid little mind to them. They did not bother her, instead it was her inability to recall what she was doing here that was unraveling her. Her mind was torn between continuing to wander and going back until she could sort things out. Then the path came to an end. And that was when the panic started to set in.
In hopes that she might find anything at all, the woman continued on into the woods without the guidance of the path beneath her feet. [b “Why can’t I remember?”] Her voice was small, scared, reflecting her inner thoughts. Was this how it starts? Was she going to forget everything again and have to start over? Why did it have to be in the forest again? And in the dark! Her heart thumped quickly and heavily in her chest as she began to worry that she soon would not be able to remember anything at all. Now was not a good time, it never would be, but someone was waiting for her... at least she had been certain a moment ago that they were. Eyes darting around, all they found were the small dumpling of a creature following her in the consuming dark of the thick canopy above. That was no help to her though, not as she currently was wandering aimlessly through the trees.
Breath quickening to try and keep up with her heart, Alenia’s hands gripped tightly at the straps of her bag. Her knuckles showing a pale white through her skin. After that, her movements became somewhat erratic, and little did she know they were dancing her in circles around the place she was looking for. The woman continued like this for some time before she could not stand it any longer. She stopped suddenly, her hope that she might finally come across something to remind her of what she was looking for dwindling. Tears were threatening to spill when she took a seat on the ground, back pressed to one of the trees she had probably passed three times before stopping. She pulled her legs into her chest, holding them tightly there in attempt to shield herself from the fear that was enveloping her. The one silver lining in all this was that she was no alone. That little kitty seemed to stick with her though everything. Petting her fuzzy little back was one of the few things holding the caramel-eyed woman together.
Kalenfort came into view, Alenia veering around it like she had planned, wandering toward what looked like the proper mouth of the road out of town that she and Alvér had passed under. At that time, with him leading the way for her through the fog, the low, wooden gate and the archway lantern had since burned out. Tonight, with how early Alenia was arriving at it, the lantern was lit and flickering in the onset of darkness.
[i Almost there,] she promised aloud, nodding as if in acknowledgment to the landmark of the gate, and kept moving. Deeper into the woods, she knew to follow the road before they started moving toward the landmark-spotting part of the journey. She repeated them to herself, chipper to Myhrr, mumbling softly and looked out for the tree with the twisted trunk, first. Which. The landmarks started where?
As Alenia had kept walking, the shadows deepened with the coming of night. The sky was orange and edged in a threatening blue, pushing her light away from her. There were no more fences or farms clearly marked and clustered together here. It was a wooded, cart-rut road, covered in leaves, and silent barring the breathing of the forest, the clatter of the leaves.
Myhrr meowed up at the elf, rubbing along her legs and slinking over the woman's feet, deftly stopping her for fear of stepping on the animal.
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Alvér's hands clenched, staring at the room again, full of Alenia's things. He would walk away only to return to it again. At first it was only to stare, to prove to himself that these things were here. Trying to make an effort to replay and listen to the voice that promised him she would say goodbye. That the little exorcist at least had that much decency. That she was leaving her things there for safe keeping on the brief trip, not to fake him out so she could get a day's head start on an escape. That she wouldn't go about spreading the rumors and stories as she had so [i tactfully] in Kalenfort again about the monster that lived in the mansion.
She would return. Alvér had in no way expected her to do so. Even her morbid, invasive curiosity about the dead-prince's personal life had its limits, surely. She had been disgusted by his rushed admittance to his flaws, pushed beyond reason by her incessant questions that led nowhere, and her continual disappointment at what he gave to her. He glowered, fists clenching, and had the all-too familiar desire to burn turned in him. To break everything in his sight. But he was poised. He was well. He had control. The clenched hands came together, the ring of his fingers rubbing harshly at the skin of his wrist.
He wasn't even aware of how it was warping with every upset pace, every flight down or up the stairs or forceful shutting of all of the drapes, pushing the world out and away from him. It had abandoned him. He wasn't aware of the insidious changes until he would note the ache in his back, centered over the base of his spine and radiating outward. The strain between his shoulders, how his shoulders hunched and his head hung low. Decrepitude took over the man and rotted, aged his skin. He broke apart, feeling vicious and outraged to be left, abandoned by his most loved, trusted companion. [i Myhrr] had left him. Such is the nature of animals, he figured bitterly.
Myh didn't have the social hangups that people did. No sense of loyalty or permanence. Just food, care, and entertainment. And it seemed she had taken hers elsewhere.
And in one moment, he had caught his startled face reflected back at him in the glass of the window. Revulsion tore at him, seeing how warped he was now. Grotesque. Inelven.
The creature hissed, pushing the hood over his face so he couldn't see it, what it had become. But he felt oddly whole. Certain in his seething, anxious upset that he had been left. And panicking at the thought of Myhrr never coming back, feeling betrayed.
It ate at him as he paced and did little but rile him further. He moved through the house with the agitated fervor of a man maddened, which wasn't far from the truth. His fingers twisted between themselves and he swallowed the bitter taste of disappointment. He wrung his hands as he felt the embers of [i anger], something he hadn't felt in a very long time. It made him want to lash out again, to fuel that flame that was all-too eager inside of him to burn things. To turn all of his inner outward. It was a way for him to seize control, dominance, over himself, and over his life. Violence. Pushing it all out towards others until he was left empty, hateful, and exhausted once again. Sated on the blood and the flesh he had taken, the things [i he] had stolen from others.
And as apprehensive, expectant eyes turned continually toward the one window he left open, the creature watched as the sun lowered. Slowly. He wanted it down now. He wanted to do something. To flee from the house and walk outside and catch whatever mice he could on the road. And when it finally dipped beneath the horizon, he felt that fetid energy swell up inside of him. But he wouldn't let it consume him yet.
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Myhrr rubbed insistently against Alenia's legs, looking up at her. In the mounting moonlight, the animal's eyes looked ghostly, reflecting at her bright and empty. She cocked her head at Alenia, reaching up and tapping at her with a paw.
The elf walked away, agitated and Myh could feel the quaver of the woman's energy running along her spine, bringing her back to arch a bit, tail tip twitching as she followed behind her. There was magic here. It had a snap in the air like an awaiting thunderstorm; expectant. Of particles rubbing together, this close to creating lightning, if just pressed a little more... And it was this thick, cottony feeling that was filling and muddying Alenia's thoughts together. As if some were too slippery or sticky and immediately slid away like so much peeling, dead, water-sodden flesh.
There were bodies in this forest. Pale faces looking up at Alenia, half-hidden in the brush. Bones, glimmering in the light.
Myhrr weaved around Alenia, trotting a bit ahead of her and looking back, tail twitching through the air with an affect of expectancy. Soft, gurgling meows from the throat of the unearthly little thing. Shiny, strange, familiar was this animal with the moonlit eyes. She would disappear in the brush and reappear again up in the trees, gazing down at her, then leap to another.
Something brittle was in the traveler's voice. A thinness that only panic could bring in a voice broke through as she looked away from these things, recalling more legends than reality. Things she had heard in the taverns, the men responding to her warbling notes she had heard sung around camp fires about the creatures that lurk alone.
Sheep. Goats. Humans. All fodder, all disappearing, all devoured by the thing that lived in the east woods.
It's this way, surely. Right after the safety, the fire, that face the-... the... She wandered aimlessly, seeking something in the darkness that had dropped around them finally as if blind. It was a heady feeling, as if drunk; the moon too bright, the leaves slippery, her knees blackened with damp earth and her hands, arms aching. Stumbling. Bodies. The cat, bringing her attention up again with a call. The moon was too bright. It was magic.
Alenia dropped her hand, swearing she had known where she was going. [i Swearing] she had somewhere to be, this elusie, vanishing myth. Hadn't she known about it? Hadn't she [i been] there? Hadn't... that man not believed her when she had said that she had come back from it?
How vivid were dreams? Were they made of memories, like some said? Or were they fashioned of fancy? Accursed fantasies put in there by the fey? Heathen, dangerous, magic creatures; pale in the moonlight.
The hairless cat's skin practically glowed in the moonlight's reflection off of her pale, pink sides as she hopped up onto a stone, curling her tail around her paws and gazed at Alenia from a shaft of moonlight, ever-patient.
There were too many eyes. Little glimmering shapes of green/gold. She had no pupils. The cat was blind? The cat had three eyes.
It meowed at her again, dropping its head a bit and smelled a bit toward her, giving another gurgling murr. She had seen this cat on a lap at one point. Who's cat was it?
[i Who are you?]
She was very pretty. She looked soft and round like a cooked dumpling, pale in the moonlight. Alenia reached out, that weird little head pressing up into her fingers and sliding to her palm. Warm. She was a good kitty.
After the animal was able to have a look around, which did not take long, she settled in next to her travel companion for some more attention. Alenia was quick to oblige her, petting her head and neck gently. She even discovered that Myh was not so fond of forehead scratches, so she decided to focus more on the rest of her which had a much more welcome reception. A while of this then the fuzzy cat crawled into her lap, which the elf could not be more ecstatic about. She knew Myhrr was probably just after a little extra warmth, but Alenia took advantage of her new vantage and pulled her in to her chest for a quick hug and a couple of kisses. There was a bit of squirming in response, but it subsided once she let her freely rest back on her lap. [b “Oh come on, I bet you let Alvér give you all the kisses.”] Somehow she could imagine it, though it was a little funny to picture. So much so that it brought a smile to her face that would linger there for quite some time.
One cuddle session later and Alenia’s stomach was calling. It was time to get both of them fed. So slowly standing from her spot on the ground, the bard made her way into town with her tiny companion. The first place they stopped was in a tavern the woman had previously stayed in. She knew the food was good and would fill them up before grocery shopping. Plus, the woman who owned it was kind. Alenia bought a hand pie made from the previous night’s left over roast and she managed to convince the keeper to scramble up some eggs and roast scraps for Myh who seemed rather happy to be included in the makeshift meal time. The two woman chatted as the traveler ate as well. After some inquiry, the redhead told the older looking human woman that she was back in town to do some grocery shopping, which sparked more questions. Most pertaining to the fact that the tavern keeper seemed to think this meant Alenia was settling down someplace and must have found a beau. The elf assured her that she was simply doing a favor for a friend; though it seemed her insistence was met with skepticism. But the topic was dropped after that, so it was fine.
Bellies full, it was time to set out on the task they had come all this way for: shopping. As expected, the small market area in this village was not busy. It was likely all the locals came and took care of any errands that morning. Aside from Alenia and Myh there were a couple stragglers, but they didn’t have to fight anyone to make their purchases, which for the most part pertained of what Alenia considered the cooking and baking essentials. There were a few things on her mental list that she had to forgo for lack of room in her pack, but it was fine. She would either make another trip or they could do without since they weren’t really necessary items. Besides, she was just thankful she was saving room on produce since Alvér had his garden to pick from as well.
With that all done, and their food fully settled, Alenia was ready to set out on the walk back to the manor. She only hoped this trip would be as uneventful as the first.
When Alvér got up, the afternoon was well underway. He had slept hard and his neck and back were a bit sore. He didn't hear a thing in the house. Myhrr hadn't woken him to be let out. Odd.
He moved out of the room and into the hallway, and downstairs. Silence greeted him. An empty grate and the settling smell of dust.
Alenia's words came back to him and a flush of shame poured over him, tightening his fists. Did he really need to check? Was he really that concerned? Surely he was above this. But where was Myhrr?
He swept upstairs, forgetting himself and his figure as his hand brushed over the banister, the tall man making it up to the second floor and into Alenia's wing, passing the unused rooms until he made it to hers and opened the door. Inside was her little mess of items, some left on the bed that he recognized from her room at the inn. Including the comb that made her turn and see him that first time.
But where was Myh? Were all of these leavings a ruse to ensure he didn't follow her? There was a chance it was all fake. But that meant that Myhrr was gone forever. Something split in his chest, it felt like, and his hand went to the door frame, Alvér leaning on it.
It took a little bit of time, but after smelling around, Myh noted that the traveler elf had stopped moving. Trotting back over, the pink kitty started smelling around at Alenia more thoroughly now that she had her... all to herself.
A wee nose started booping, gently, along Alenia's foot, and then ankle, and then leg. Her eyes would shift between what she was doing and Alenia watching her. And presently she came closer, tucking herself into the relative form of a loaf against Alenia's leg and hip and hiding her paws underneath herself, leaning her head into any wayward pets that came her way.
[size10 [http://i.pinimg.com/564x/c9/d5/ae/c9d5ae7fcf7e746cd889802d8f82c03c.jpg have a cute kitty baby]]
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