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[font "times new roman" [size15 A sense of content in her discovery, Phelorna felt it safe to retreat from the room, leaving the pair to continue resting. That ounce of electricity that crawled its way up into her concerns began working its way back to the vast supply of pent up energy. There were times in her life, as recent years had come to show, that she could enjoy a kick of adrenaline, but this was one of the few times Phelorna was accepting of such an unquestionably plain, stagnant outcome.
What with her passing on breakfast in case of more pressing matters, the Elf had not-so-accidentally awarded herself some time away from the responsibility of exchanging regular pleasantries with those that put a bitter taste in her meals. Without having that [i privilege] to busy her morning, nor a potentially dangerous, shadow of a man wandering their home like a hidden pet that can't keep from lurking about, there was minimal worries to have. Of course, none of her token anxieties were going away any time soon, but this brief second to breathe was one she'd get out any value possible.
There was no effort behind the confidence that carried her through the halls. This was her home, after all, where one should be most comfortable. "Comfort" wasn't necessarily what she would call it, but a single falter in her assured ownership over the estate would, without fail, lose her what success and support she did have. There wasn't a single employed staff that deemed it in their responsibility to interrupt her journey to the front entrance, despite knowing she should've been occupied in the dining hall at the moment. With no intentions of returning there, late or otherwise, Phelorna took to the still, bleak outdoors.
The weather now wasn't comparable to the bombardment of rain and threatening winds they'd faced not a whole sunset ago. Albeit, the sun that greeted them was only enough to cast the typical glow of early morning as it fought the muddled clouds for attention. It would still be foolish to stare up into the honey hues, blindness eminent, but Phelorna could guess they weren't clear of mother nature's path yet. Still, the air was fresh as the storms that lingered in the wet grass and dripped melodically from the crest of the rooftops.
That collectiveness she felt, arms plainly rested at her sides as she began to lean back against the structure of the large home, was swept from her reach with the sounds of a familiar, unfriendly giant arguing with all it's usual, disagreeable might. She didn't even have the patience for a sigh or groan before abandoning her peaceful post to head towards the stables.
Quite the distance of their yard away, still within the forest ring around their land but not showcased upon arrival, was the stables that housed their horses and foul. No tumultuous storm could power through the work put into the careful construction that housed the well-trained steeds. Them, and one particularly uncooperative behemoth that thundered the inside, startling the coup that feathered out in small-minded panic.
Not unlike those small-minded wing flappers was the boy that was dwarfed by the upset creature he grew quite the distance from. There was a slight tan on his features, for once having his sleeves partly rolled, seemingly in attempt to do something that required chancing dirty hands. Not that the siblings weren't well-versed in such to begin with, but this rusty-headed young man, sterling green eyes feigning superiority as he fought off being intimidated, was especially filthy in her eyes; a royal pain in the ass.
[b "Rubin Everleigh,"] Her tone was unreadable, eyes staring blankly with unamusement held openly in her crossed arms. [b "What has possessed you to attempt approaching Sliver, yet again?"]
Clearly caught, Rubin turned away from Phelorna as he regained his wits, the dapple grey hulk before him huffing in equal dissatisfaction at his presence. Pushing his sleeves down and turning to face her, she was met with their usual half-elf charisma. At least, what they [i considered] charisma. Phelorna couldn't say she agreed, eyes only narrowing further at the bravado.
[b "After such a horrific storm, one could only assume these poor animals would benefit from some human comfort. I couldn't sit through a whole meal this morning without at least checking on them, even this..giant."] A hand waved at the horse, some regret visibly following as Sliver leaned his head forward, neck unfearing of the gate that kept him from reaching further. The thick, warm air that pushed out of his nostrils warned Rubin to watch his words. [b "Ah, always so playful."]
[b "Two inches closer and you won't be thinking something so foolish for much longer."] The tag team of the two pushed Rubin away from Sliver's gate, instead hovering towards the other animals. As far as Phelorna could see, he was going to continue putting up this "concerned-animal-lover" act. He probably barely knew how to get the gates open in the first place, if he wasn't too scared to step inside them without supervision.
Contrary to whatever Rubin may have believed, Sliver wasn't one to kid. If he had even attempted to open his gate, the Percheron would've made him rethink his decision. That, or he wouldn't have time to think. Sometimes Phelorna wasn't sure to just what ends Sliver's threats would go if he were to be pushed enough. There was no doubt in her mind that Rubin genuinely [i hadn't] done anything. He very well could've been planning it, but this wouldn't have been the first time she caught the step brother snooping around with things that belong to her, such as her Stallion.
There was almost a comical moment in which both Sliver and she huffed out a sigh. Ignorantly sure of himself, Rubin only continued, though keeping his distance from Sliver. [b "Speaking of being in strange places, though, I'm not the only one out of place, am I?"] He reached out a hand. [b "I'd assume you were [i avoiding] us, but Misha left us your message. I wouldn't believe such a thing to upset you, but as your brother, I [i am] here for you."]
It took less than a second for Phelorna to reply, arms still crossed as she's yet to move from the entryway. [b "If you're expecting me to follow along, you're sadly mistaken."] He made a small hum in question, yet her only reply was to glance from where she stood to him. That was all she had to say to remind him of her refusal to fall into another trap like before. Even if it was just walking into the stables, without witness, she wouldn't go near him. Especially if there technically [i were] witnesses. Just ones she wouldn't know of until they made it a point to appear.
This didn't feel like a trap being set, though. It was doubtful they were lurking around in the forest or around the wooden structure, waiting for a chance to knock her reputation down yet another notch. This irking feeling led her to taking more initiative than she'd done in a while, fearing [i anything] she said or did could be held against her. [b "Rubin, follow me."]
[b "Now [i I] follow [i your] orders?"]
[b "Your choice. Either follow or don't. Wouldn't stay there too long, though."] She raised her hands before wandering to the direction of the lake.
Unbeknownst to Phelorna, she was already running late on picking up just what they were scheming. As she led Rubin towards the lake in hopes of a witness were anything to go wrong, if not the ability to keep an eye on that particular room to see for herself if they entered, her other step-siblings were already making their way to the East Wing. Valeris led the way with Arthur trailing behind.
It was when they made it to the door, exactly where Misha had told them he was staying , that the two made knowing eye-contact once more before knocking. It was Valeris who would make the initial greeting upon acceptance into the room. Seeing as she overlooked announcing themselves, Arthur took the initiative before the door could open. "Excuse us, we were informed a guest was staying here? We're heads of this household and would like to speak with you, if possible. We only mean to properly greet you and assure you're comfort, if you would mind only to open the door."
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size16 In the darkness of the interior of that room, growing quiet again as he waited, listening. She was still alive, that woman. And she had the stone, and so he would be safe for the time being. Sitting back, he looked over towards the fire he started, gazing into it. His thoughts drifted, trying as his body caught up to its nourishment to consider what to do with his situation.
In this house, he would be little more than stuck until evening again. Grand houses like this often stood in a lot of open, shadeless ground to show off the house itself. Leaving, he wasn't positive he felt good enough about to do, even as his skin repaired itself. He could feel it, an uncomfortable, itching feeling like scabs. He drew a breath, closing those eyes. Mercifully few hours of night left, of hallowed darkness that wouldn't lance into the backs of his eyes and burn his skin. And silence. Relative safety. If conditional. He could only wonder what Phelorna would want of him when she rose...
It was imperative now, more than ever, that he keep himself hidden, he felt, as unfair as that felt. But the greeting made him positive anonymity, disappearing altogether was better. This was not the sanctuary he had hoped it would be, as gracious as she was for allowing him.
He heard her knock, wondering who it was. He could smell them, but didn't know who it was. Not yet, rather. Gargoyle, who had been sleeping against his leg, made a little noise, raising her head. There was further silence. He waited, listening to see if they would announce themselves. Some servant looking to start a morning fire to warm up the room. The mistress of the house, or those others she worried about looking to demand more of him.
Nothing ultimately came of it, and they left.
He let them. Standing, silently, he shifted carefully out from under the cat, stroking a hand over her. The day was young, and he was on the shaded side of the house at this time of day. He shifted toward the window, parting the curtains and standing in the window.
The daylight in the sky pierced into the backs of his eyes and he squinted, sighing out his nose. Hurt. It hurt. He looked down towards the woods and the lake that was on display on that side of the estate. It was expansive, impressive. It seemed her family had impressive holdings, then.
[font "times new roman" [size15 Falling into a slumber came all too slowly for Phelorna. After finally returning to her quarters, the questions that had been bubbling up inside her about this strange guest came flooding to the forefront of her thoughts. She still knew [i nothing] of what she wanted to know about him. There was no name, no class, not even a visual race to go off of besides familiarly hued skin and eyes that beaconed out from the shadows of his cloak. That, and a strangely cute feline. At least [i she] had a name, weirdly both fitting an unbefitting of the wrinkly grey kitten.
Initially, before the night had become drowned in mystery and suspicion, all Phelorna was worried over was the future of those under the roof she currently inhabited, as well as those their decisions would leave an effect on. With no decision made on just who would come to lead the Abalot home, she was not only left to defend what her father had built, but also couldn't help selfishly wishing to just drop it all and return to the party she had been pulled away from.
She would return, rejoin her party in whatever travels they were on; to think she didn't even know where they were by now; and discard this life of nobility...No, Phelorna had her pride in her lineage. She couldn't let go of the stature she held or the part of herself that was forged on titles, grown to understand the proper ways of politics. The family in this home with her, those that she [i really] wanted to get away from, had infected her with such a foul taste that they're almost capable of twisting her ideals into letting go of all she'd known since birth, something she still takes value in. All so she wouldn't have to fight with them.
In her time as an adventurer, there wasn't a bounty she feared or a mission too treacherous for her efforts. Phelorna was never the elf to back down, her willful core and stubborn nature too strong for such lack-of-action. But damn, did these siblings make her want to give up a fight with no real win in the end.
Either she upheld her father's name and became the noble she was meant to be, abandoning the her she'd found through adventure and who she [i thrived] in being, or she failed and allowed that trio to destroy all that she'd spent years coming to understand, valuing, appreciating, and the memory of what her family had. It would be [i their's] and she couldn't handle that fate.
But could she handle being sentenced to these walls in case of the other end?
Now, she was faced with [i another] issue: this stranger. Perhaps he could be seen as a distraction from her other problems, but even that excuse to sideline the issue made her upset with herself. [b [i Dammit, Phelorna! You aren't the type of woman...]] Her own thoughts were paused as she laid back on the still neatly made sheets, a hand over her head as she took a deep breath. [b "I'm not even sure what [i type] I am anymore..."]]
She didn't have time for some existential crisis, but here she was, drowning herself in questions she didn't, and wouldn't, have answers to. Turning over, she gripped at one of the plush pillows, fine nails nearly coming together with only fluff and fabric pinched between. If only, she thought, if only she were in communication with them..with him. The person that came to empathize and understand her; that could bring her to a calm in the midst of whatever storm her mind fixed herself into- even if they did argue or bicker at times. But alas, she couldn't bring herself to even contact them. Phelorna would claim it to be to avoid their involvement in case trouble were to brew from this, but really, the guilt of making the choice to return kept her from even pulling together the confidence to speak to them.
She wanted them around, but she couldn't believe they would still accept her if she were to return. She wanted to succeed and lead where her father had, using all the skills and education she'd cultivated through the years, but she didn't want to be confined to this life. She wanted so much, but no matter if she got what she wanted, there was always a tag-along result that made her wary of the end.
When her eyes finally came to the last close of the night, it was out of disappointment in herself for being the selfish, indecisive, contradictory, trouble weaving woman that she truly was.
By morning, her attention refocused on her current distraction. When visiting Misha, her suggestion of having had no word from their guest was strange. With purpose, she made her way to the east hall. [b "Lady Phelorna, you must attend breakfas-"]
[b "Tell them the storm left me feeling unwell and that I'll be dining in my room,"] she ordered to the housekeeper. Like they would even mind her absence. Besides that, [i they] were part of her concern. The last thing she needed was one of her half-breed step siblings catching whiff of him, if he even remained. Please, she thought, tell her he isn't just wandering the halls. It would even be better if he left. She would still be disappointed, but she couldn't accidentally pass control of this incident to them. Even if they knew she allowed him in, that was fine, but to let them find him wandering would be disastrous. They could twist just about any action of hers into something that worked against her if she didn't remain fully aware and on top of things.
That meant she had to be sure he either remained or left. No questions as to which.
That was what brought her to stand in front of the door to his stay, pausing to listen. No noise..no light either. Could he have left? It was early enough he may still be resting, especially after travel, but she needed to know the room [i did] have someone inside. With some hesitation in case he was resting like an ordinary traveler, she gave a light knock to the door.
Long ears listened intently until the sound of a feline escaped the room. A sigh of relief made a silent pass through her lips. They were still there.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size16 She scrutinized him, and he simply looked on, waiting to see if she would challenge him. He expected it.
Surprisingly, however, she did not. Lady Phelorna relented, if tartly, and turned to lead him where he wished. He found it interesting that she made deep overtures about his namelessness, his anonymity, his near facelessness. Yet she did not once ask him for it. It was a strange disparity. She insisted, used words like welcome and hospitality. It was peculiar, though he was glad that Gargoyle was inside. She would eat, and rest.
Phelorna brought him to the room, and stood aside to present it. The creature entered in, and gave distance between them, looking about. There, he bent and let the cat down, who immediately streaked to find a safe place and disappeared. He knew where she was, able to feel her, and allowed her final reprise from being trapped against him. She needed to adjust and feel safe.
He directed his attention where Lady Abalot drew it then, acknowledging the pull rope, and her directions to Misha. The creature stood still, at a distance from the two women, which emboldened Misha to draw forward and place the meal for the cat on the vanity.
"[B I thank you,]" he rasped, nodding to Phelorna, and to Misha. "[B Goodnight.]"
However, the issue of the morning, as the woman had mentioned, drew his attention again as she departed... his eyes followed the housekeeper as she moved. His senses followed, moving from the room, and into the hallway with her.
Back in the room, his hearing perked at another healthy, soothing roll of thunder and the coming morning was brought back to his attention. His hand flickered out, and the drapes were pulled closed. His body shifted, taking the bowl from the vanity and placed it over by the armoire, where Gargoyle had taken refuge beneath, so she could reach it.
His sight was still with Misha, allowing his presence to begin to fill the hall she moved down, slowing to a stop. They both listened to the house, hearing Lady Phelorna move to her own chambers and settle down in them.
Misha stood, her senses filling, and the creature entered her mind more fully, bringing a shiver. It felt like his hands slipped over hers, stopping her gently, touch cool like a breeze, guiding her. Her mind unfocused, opening like inner eyes; mortal, flexible, alive. Awaiting.
The creature's fingers moved, curling in a beckon. Misha felt a negative space inside of her, almost like a hunger, an instinct. It drew her back toward the guest room, back towards the promise of the warmth and light of the fire, lit in the guest room that he created with a little snap of his fingers.
In the dark, Misha turned. Her feet moved, quick, light on the pads of her feet, back toward the room, to those doors. There the woman hesitated.
Should she try the handle? Knock? Her fingers curled, eyes squinting, trying to think. She didn't want to disturb...
The door opened for her, and Misha's eyes refocused. She looked inside. The fire lit the bed, and its pale dressings. The guest stood at a distance, allowing her space, and opened his hand to her, gesturing her in with a quiet invitation and a smooth, cultured tone.
She stepped inside, the door closing softly, quelling the strip of light that flickered into the darkened hallway, and the house was silent again, falling back into slumber.
After the act, after the rises of pain, the fear that would puncture through the membrane of her awareness under his control, Misha's eyes refocused, partly, and she found his hand again. His fingers were human, skin that strange alabaster that told her was his. They were less... Less. Familiar. And in his hand was a stone, looking oiled, smooth, and with a hole through it. He threaded a cord, black, leather, woven, through the natural hole, as he had informed her. It had an energy to it in her hands.
"[+gold Keep this with you,]" he said, offering it to her. She accepted it into her hand, warmed by his. "[+gold Wear it until it no longer suits you.]"
Misha nodded, clasping the necklace about her throat and placing it against her skin, underneath her clothes. The rest of the night disappeared. Misha awoke the next day at the proper time she was used to, in her bed, with a pounding headache, and sore muscles along her shoulders and neck, causing it. She had work. Despite her drained exhaustion, she got herself up, dutiful, and went to work.
The door to the room was closed, and the interior dark, silent.
Misha didn't remember serving the room. She believed she had slept through the night, if badly.
[font "times new roman" [size15 She couldn't help the narrowing of her eyes as he made it clear he wanted out of the line of skepticism that she and Misha threw towards him. It wasn't without reason, considering the way she pressed, but Phelorna couldn't say she wasn't growing strange anxieties from this.
[b "So be it. If you will, follow me."] The barely-there nod she gave was followed by her taking charge of their expedition upstairs.
Her bare feet gave small "p'tap" beats as they head to the staircase she'd once arrived through, onto the scene of his appearance. The marble treatments of the floor absorbed none of the drips of water, leaving a trail behind the strange guest. This didn't bother Phelorna, knowing one of the housekeeping would clean it without question as to the source. It had been their job, as of late, to go without curiosities towards the actions of those inside. This was something the elf was both thankful for and unsettled by.
The main cause of her unsettled feelings brought her to checking the halls as they walked, taking care in remaining silent. Tough as she may have spoken, the pink-ette didn't wish to alert her step siblings to the current situation. Confrontation with them was always a slippery slope.
It was only the next floor up in which she found temporary residence for the man. These East end quarters were primarily for guests from other domains that wished to do dealings with the Abalots, leaving the few rooms free of bunkers.
Giving a push to one of the reddish, wooden doors, she opened the room to him. [b "This will be where you stay, for the time you remain."] Inside was a meticulously pampered bed, white sheets and fittings neatly laid and fluffed. The two tall, few feet wide windows with their dark framing allowed the view of the storm to filter in. If not for such terrible weather, the view of the thinned forest and nearby lake would be spectacular. It was why the guests were set on this side of the estate. At the wall opposite the bed, a large chair sat nearby with a side table, oil lamp accompanying, was a fireplace framed in stone. It hadn't been touched in ages, thanks to their poor news as of late, but the functionality was in top shape.
[b "If you need anything, there is a pull near the desk by the closet."] Her arms, having been crossed, only opened to gesture to the rope than hung from the wall. [b "It will sound a bell for one of our servants to assist you. Although, given your circumstances..."] Pale eyes glanced over his looming form. [b "I will alert Misha to be the sole responder."]
Speak of the woman, the uniformed servant hurried to their new location. With a small whine, she finally came to a stop beside them with the tray of food carefully balanced in her hands.
[b "L-Lady Phelorna,"] she panted. [b "Please, make me aware of when you choose to be elsewhere from where we last spoke. This estate is not simple to navigate with no hint of-"]
[b "I had a guest with me. You were well aware of the only place in our home I would've brought him, which led you here, correct?"] Even Misha found the courage to glare at her employer before dropping her head out of exhaustion in dealing with her.
[b "As you say, Lady Phelorna. The meal you requested,"] she held the tray forward. [b "Shall I place it in the room?"]
With a nod, Phelorna stepped aside for her. [b "Misha, if the bell for this room rings, you are the only staff allowed to answer, is that clear?"] The discomfort she was met with was obvious, but there was nothing Misha could do to say otherwise, only nodding in agreement. [b "Good, and if you should need me, Misha will let me know. With that said, please rest and take refuge from this weather."]
There was a moment in which Misha was preparing the room further, setting out the food, and all around crossing them back and forth before finally settling outside the entrance. With Phelorna close by her, they readied to shut the door.
[b "Oh,"] said the elf. [b "And before you depart in the morn, if you so choose, I would like to be made aware..Goodnight."] With no explanation given for her request, she walked ahead, leaving Misha confused a moment before quickly following after her, a brief "goodnight" given by her as well, thankful to hurry away from the shadowy visitor.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size16 The creature waited, gazing at the housekeeper whose eyes refused to leave him. A brow, slowly, arched, at the immobility. She was not being mesmerized, by him, was she afraid? Was his magic in an attempt to quell the scream enough to petrify her?
His yellowish eyes turned to Phelorna. From the storm. Yes, of course. He yet was not sure if she was pointing out his hesitance, again, with disdain, or making an attempt at being sympathetic.
"[B I would.]"
It turned, then, "[B I will take her meal in the room. Would you mind showing me?]"
The animal was already in his arms, and he was eager to stop being stared at. And it would, in the end, be nice to strip off the soaking cloaks and stand by his own fire, should be be granted one. Drying off sounded nice, but he wasn't positive what condition he was in, and wasn't keen on exposing himself.
He shifted his weight on his feet to signal that he was ready to depart, the cat in his arms giving a little mewl. Her eyes were big, pupils wide and body huddled, ready to flee. The longer that she wasn't given freedom, the tenser she was getting. But she was well behaved.
[font "times new roman" [size15 Despite his fearful face, Phelorna only felt wariness on the surface. Either he was cursed or rightfully given karma. Whichever it had been, it succeeded in leaving marks that lasted. Something told her, though, that even if this had been a punishment, it wasn't met with his violence.
In fact, as he carefully handled the feline, she questioned if he was violent to begin with. There had to be some aggression there, right? No creature so similar to that of the Underdark denizens, if that wasn't his identity, was ever known to be patient and gentle. None aside from her personal exceptions of such assumption, of course.
Looking to the housekeeper, Phelorna found herself having to openly gesture for her to do as asked. Was the woman so paralyzed? He may have been a challenge to look at, but he was no more difficult to handle than her [i lovely] step siblings, or even herself. If she didn't know any better, she'd say her aggression was far worse.
That just couldn't be the case. Something was wrong here, be it an act or something far more complex. Unfortunately, Pherlorna knew no answers would come to her any time soon. Though, was it really her business to worry over? He may leave that next morn and they never cross paths again.
That seemed unrealistic somehow.
[b "Once Misha returns with food for Gargoyle, would you two like to be shown to a room?"] Both her own discomfort and the infectious vibe of his own told her it was time to move on. [b "Perhaps some privacy to calm the nerves..from the storm, that is."] Perhaps some privacy to gift him the calm in which he could decide to stop hiding, that is. Part of her found doubt in that result.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size16 'Welcome' he thought, his inner voice oozing with the sarcasm that simmered up from knowing that wasn't very true. He had to not take it personally. He had to understand he was not that man anymore. She had full rights to be wary of such a creature as him. It didn't quell the hurt and the insult, but it made it deaden with logic.
His figure turned, partially, towards Phelorna as it sounded like she was about to amend her coldness. Not up to her? Who else was here? Wasn't she the head of house?
He turned more as he heard her approaching footsteps. Here, she caught sight of more of the creature's face as he looked in the light of the fire. He was distinctly sallow, his skin tight and thin, veined, and deathly pale over high cheekbones, scars and what looked like necrosis causing those lines to look like they had been torn away from his mouth hiding sharp, inhuman teeth. The shadow of the hood fell back across that visage as he turned fully toward her, and away from the fire. That left only the flicker of whatever fetid, unhallowed power gave this corpselike man animation in the backs of his eyes. It was dim, golden, and unnatural.
His spidery hand reached forward, taking the towel and shifting a bit to cradle the cat into the other arm, depositing her into the dry cloth.
"[B I thank you,]" he responded.
Stepping away from her again, and turning away, the stranger bundled the cat, patient with his handling, and set her on one of the side tables to dry her off with both hands. He ruffled the dry towel over her, rubbing warmth into the animal's body, for he had very little to give.
He stood calmly on the outside, suffering the stares of the women in the room, even as he eluded their direct gazes with his shrouds. Internally, however, with their proximity he could [i taste] how their bodies lived. Their hearts beat, salted blood rushing through supple, tearable flesh. He swallowed, throat bobbing, and tried to ignore the howling within him, the hunger. He wanted them.
He swallowed again as he finished with the cat, trying to keep himself from salivating. His hands took up the cat again, still shivering but not as terribly, in the bundle of the towel he had of her.
"[B Would you please find something for her to eat,]" he said, those eyes turning to Misha, the housekeeper.
[font "times new roman" [size15 It was clear he wasn't going to cooperate with her on revealing his identity. Sure, she'd seen enough of his features to understand masking them in polite company, but she'd met various people with disturbing forms before that never hid. The only reason Phelorna could find for such denial was in the case of being found suspect if recognized. Perhaps it was her own sense of pride that couldn't come to understand the secrecy for any reason outside of evil ones.
[b "I would not prefer it. I believe I've made it clear that you're welcome inside this home, as well as..Gargoyle."] She refrained from referring to the feline without using her name. [b "As only [i one] of the leading members of this household,"] a bite in her tone came through, eyes narrowing away from the stranger at the thought. [b "I can only offer so much hospitality. Especially to an outsider with no identity to give. If it were up to me alone-"]
[b "Lady Phelorna, I've secured drying cloths for the visitors."] Misha hurried into the room to stand by the Elf. Having been interrupted, a tight, irritable smile crossed her lips.
[b "Thank you, Misha."] When the housekeeper made no move towards the two, still unsure of being near them, Phelorna let out a deep sigh. With an eye roll, she removed the folded fabrics from dainty hands and walked them to the towering figure and the much smaller, cute creature. [b "Pardon the [i wait]."]
Regardless of finding Misha's nervous nature upsetting, Phelorna couldn't deny her own nerves beginning to skitter. Regardless, she wouldn't falter her stare. There wasn't a fear in her nerves, she knew. It was something else she wasn't entirely sure of. With no name for it, she deemed it no more than curiosity and being alert.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size15 He felt no offense to this, though the jolt that passed through the little woman made a little glow of amusement appear on his face. Gargoyle had, at least usually, the ability to smooth over many encounters if he found himself in need of interaction when he was in this condition. As it were, he had no idea how to put a handle on what was happening to him.
Long fingers pet down the animal's back, peeking from the sodden fabric of the cloaks. The gentle scratch of his nails on her skin was for a moment the only sound between them as he kept her calm in the new environment.
He gave a slow turn about the room, looking around. He stopped in front of the fire, looking up at the imposing portrait above it, and the man that filled it.
The man's head twitched a bit, turning away from her. "[B Not everyone is proud of their face, my lady.]" It hurt to say, but her pressing him about it was making him grit his teeth, tone growing tense. He could feel a knot of self-consciousness and loathing tightening and threatening to choke him on it. "[B If you would prefer, I will take an outbuilding.]" So as not to ruin such finery, so as not to burden her with his presence further, so he could get away from this scrutiny and the scent of so many souls in this home.
"[B I just need her to rest.]" So did he, but he felt in danger doing so. He could handle without, goodness knows he was used to sleepless nights, but he could feel the heavy pull on his limbs. Morning was coming.
He wasn't sure if he was more worried he would be recognized, or if he wouldn't be. What would be worse? What else could be worse? He had lost everything. The only thing he had, now, was his anonymity, and a deeply flawed, desperate plan. She hadn't recognized his voice, or the tinge of his accent.
He was regretting this entirely. He was foolish to think he could find sanctuary.
[font "times new roman" [size15 There was some relief when her offer was accepted. Honestly, Phelorna grew worried the "her" that had been discovered over the past three years had lost touch with her responsibilities in this home. Marrying the two, her past self and current newfound self, was difficult. Especially the patience levels of the two, more than anything else.
She didn't mind his humble request, but she wouldn't correct Misha in what she had directed her to do already. When silence stood between them, Phelorna stepped aside, allowing passage into the home.
It was clear her focus on the feline had been found out with it's name announced. [b "I see-"] she paused. There was a slight twitch of her head as she realized just what had been said. No, she realized [i how] it had been said. It had taken her until now to focus on something other than the danger of the person before her. This clearly inhuman figure not only was speaking in clear Common, but gave a brief turn to Elvish in a matter-of-a-fact way that had to be fluent.
Averting her attention from the feline, she gave a subtle glance to the face; what she could glimpse; of the figure. Turning away, she gestured for him to follow as she led them to the parlor.
There was no doubt; those were ashen features she'd seen. From the damaged mouth filled with sharp teeth to the glowing eyes she'd noticed before. The few strands of sterling white hair that lingered in view may have been the most common thing about him.
If Phelorna had to make an assumption, she felt an intuition that told her their guest may have been from very, very far away. A much darker place that delivered a natural, racial chill to the pure blood Elf.
She wouldn't immediately jump to conclusions. She'd already done enough to possibly tarnish her reputation with this guest tonight. Pointing the finger at him of possibly being her natural born enemy would've only worsened that damage.
[b "Uncomfortable as it may be, I must ask you remain standing until my housemaid returns with something to dry you and your companion. In the mean time,"] she might as well make an attempt. If he were to say no, she would only dismiss her having asked, but if he were to say yes... [b "perhaps drying would come faster to both of you should you remove the drenched cloak, nameless fellow."]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size15 Partially turned away, the creature took pause, stiffening as if expecting a blow. None came, and his eyes moved to the woman in the doorway.
Being unfamiliar with the current climate in the house, or the local current events with the lord and lady of the house, the creature simply stood, head tipped a bit at the exchange between the two. Others in the house? Other servants? Or other guests? This was proving more and more a dangerous place to seek shelter.
Having followed a road of knowledge of the Abalot house only, the creature was only apprised of so much. Perhaps he should have stayed longer in the town so he could learn more about what went on here.
He found it interesting that he was being considered 'one of her people' now, eyes turning briefly to the passage of the housekeeper.
"[B You needn't offer much more than you have already,]" came the husky tone of the figure before her. "[B Just something to feed my companion, a towel enough for her, and I will be at peace.]" He was soaked through, and so he could not dry her off. He could feel her shivering in his grasp, being so patient as to stay in his arms, with what meager body heat had been sapped away by the cold of the outdoors.
His head dipped a bit, turning away, and stopping the action mid-motion at her mention of race. It felt pointed, he knew it was. She hated his silence, and was right to be suspicious. But he knew that would only make things worse than his magic already had.
He stood, waiting to see if she would allow him entrance by giving him room to.
Once inside, he noted the cold stone tile floors and shifted the cat up higher on his grasp. The hairless animal's head moved about, pupils wide with the new environment, as she stayed obediently with her person.
He saw the woman's eyes on the animal. "[B Her name is 'gargoyle',]" came the voice of the creature from his shadowed face. The word he spoke was in Elvish, with a familiar accent, she would notice the more he spoke.
His face wasn't unavailable, it was more shrouded in the loose fabric of the hood that lay over it. She could see parts, details. Teeth. Eyes. Pale skin. Thin, fine lips. But not the whole. His height and pallor suggested a human or an elf, but the supernatural aspects she could taste coming off of him suggested something else. Magic lay in it, somewhere, something familiar, but there was other over top of it. Something deathly, strange and in that dangerous.
[font "times new roman" [size15 An eyebrow raised at his change in tone. Phelorna didn't have to turn to know Misha was shrinking the background, quite similar to the feline. She, on the other hand, was formulating a response in her head. The lord or lady? There wasn't currently either of those until a decision was formed, so perhaps he really was mistaking them for the recently passed Earl or Countess.
Then again, how could anyone mistake that Countess for something kind?
It was such current news, he couldn't have been mistaken of who was here. When he referred to "her," it had to be Phelorna. Yes, Valeris was also a "lady" of the home, but most considered Arthur of that side of the family as the leader, if any of them.
As much as she wanted to remain proper in the eyes of the audience, Misha, she couldn't deny a similar need to make the people happy. To dismiss someone who believed something good of her would only be denying that, currently turning her twisted situation in a downward direction. Her decision had to be made as quickly as the cat leapt back into its shelter for the night if she didn't change her mind.
Rather than words, the clamor of a sword giving an attention-grabbing tap to the door spoke up.
[b "You may not have proven trustworthy, but I can't say your presence brings me more concern than your departure brings me guilt in not preforming my duties to any of my people in need."] Her sword took a passive stance at her side.
[b "Lady Phelorna, you should discuss this first with-"]
[b "I don't need to discuss the safety of a person in the storm who has come to us purely with the intention of finding shelter."] Again, a warning glance was thrown her way. [b "If they ask, I found a stray. That should confuse them enough to baffle for quite some time."]
Misha couldn't help rolling her eyes. Even though Phelorna had caught the action, she didn't mind. It was reasonable, as she knew herself to be harder to handle than she was years ago. The housekeeper, on Phelorna's order, retreated to gather cloth to dry the stranger from the travel they'd made.
[b "Will you allow me to mend my brash actions? I can't offer much, considering there is still much I don't know, including your very race, but I can safely offer the inside of these walls over the outdoors, at least."] Perhaps she could see the feline once again, if he remained. Though that thought may have been her first, there was still a curiosity for the stranger and just why they deemed it necessary to go without direct answers to her questions. He never removed his hood, nor gave a name or reason for being in this town. She tried to let that logic lead, but some newfound instincts calmed her as she offered his return to the doors.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/vMd5Rj5.jpg?1]] [font "Times" [size16 Confusion flashed over his features at her, calling him absurd. He was being reasonable, in his eyes. Frustration tightened in him at her demanding tone, her lack of attention to what he was saying, not even giving him the credit of speaking Common properly. "[B That wasn't what I said.]" The creature's voice tightened, now, but he kept it forcibly quiet, composed. She was assuming, putting words in his mouth.
"[B I made a mistake believing the lord, or lady,]" he corrected with a sharp inclination of his head. "[B of this land was benevolent as her reputation suggested.]" It was a bit of a lie, but only in omission.
Coming here was the mistake, it wasn't mistaken identity, and he didn't feel like he had to explain that to this person, choosing instead to hide his strange, half-formed hopes. Disgust immediately ate at him for even thinking so. He didn't know what he had been expecting. Hope is a strange, fickle thing. And he knew that. But it didn't make it any easier.
His hands clenched, drawing himself up, "[B I answered your questions,]" he countered, lips drawing up in disdain, insult. Disappointment seethed like hot vinegar in him.
The cat backed away, pupils wide, ears flattened. The creature looked down to it, shocked she hadn't run by now, and clucked his tongue, making a motion to summon the animal back. Her ear swiveled, hearing the noise, and the hairless animal's gaze flickered back, before backing and then turning to flee.
The creature bent in one fluid motion and picked the animal up, sequestering her inside of the cloaks it wore, and turned.
[font "times new roman" [size15 Her eye gave a noticeable twitch at the whimper from the figure. It wasn't possible for that sound to have belonged to the man, so what could it have been? When a cat appeared on the floor below, Phelorna found herself staring back at the creature. Well, it was one of the least concerning things that could've been his companion. The weapon remain pointed through his movement and her averted focus, still confidently in place as she found herself eyeing the shadow once again. This stare lasted far longer than the woman would like, growing more impatient by the second.
He wasn't wrong in that turning him away to the town would be inhumane, considering the weather. More than the man before her, Phelorna found herself weighing if she would set a feline out into the storm.
[b "To claim you've made a mistake in coming to this estate and asking for shelter is absurd. One would have to be blind to mistake coming here for another destination."] She wasn't necessarily getting answers out of him. He hadn't done anything to quell her suspicions, nor to identify himself. [b "Are you choosing to leave my questions unanswered, stranger?"] The calm individual didn't belong here, nor anywhere nearby. This couldn't have been a mistake.
[b "Were you perhaps expecting someone else? Aside from shelter, I've still yet to find a reason why you've arrived here. If this is some form of mistake, that can only mean there was a goal or plan in mind, so state your business. That, or give ample reason to trust your entering my home."] She had to admit, she'd have likely shut the door by now if not for the damn cat at their feet, cutely watching them with concerned eyes.
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