'There is something to the intrigue that is battle and carnage and loss. When hundreds of people unite to destroy one another for reasons that have long since been lost. Reasons of hate, and revenge and cruelty mixed with reasons of loyalty, and respect. When no one remembers where it started, then what is the point of trying to continue with it? Is there truly a way to end something so brutal without amassing large amounts of bloodshed?
A single traveler, barefoot and ragged had attended the high-halls of both of the warring nations. Carrying not but a bundle of scrolls on her back and a rod in her hand, the old woman had traveled for hundreds of miles on foot to attend first one kingdom, and then the other. She was a weathered woman indeed. Ancient, wrinkled, and blind. Of a race that far surpassed the powers both of the nations possessed. It was no wonder that both of the Royal houses would allow her to enter, as she knew they would, for one does not need mortal-world eyes to be a seer. Her words, though, were not so easily accepted by either nation.
She spoke of peace and of prosperity. She spoke of the end of the war and of songs and dancing in celebration. Tidings of great joy and victory were taken to both kingdoms, but it was put to them with the stipulation of a very high cost.
It was not victory through power or greed or bloodshed that she spoke of, nor was it power of conversation and forgetfulness. There was only one thing that could bring her visions of Glory and Peace to the nations and that was Unity brought by complete self-sacrifice.
The old woman spoke of the heirs to both nations, rising from their pride and self-importance, removing themselves from selfish wants and desires and uniting under a single banner to bring about a peace that would last well into the hundredth generation. However... To deny the visions of the elder seer would mean the destruction of both nations. It would mean that they would destroy each other and lay waste to the cities and people. Complete annihilation.
With a pointed and shaking finger, she brought these tidings to the head of the royal houses of both nations before departing, slowly, in the same manner she had come.
Her message and warnings delivered, her duties fulfilled, and thus she would wait...and see.'
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
The smooth transition of conversation went very well, letting Nadia breathe a little, as haunted memories faded from her mind to be replaced with the thought of a new venture. Going into unfamiliar lands, even when occupied by vampires, still intrigued her, and was a good change in subject, seeing as the Vampire Queen liked to speak of her home as well. She tried to picture the castle and the town, covered in a constant overcast. Though her ears were well aware of Mortis’, and Zach’s conversations, she had tried to maintain a look of full and undistracted attention to her current conversation. Something worthy of a court.
[b “I admit, it is nice to hear that there will be views to the outside from the castle. Overcast can be lovely in it’s own right, as some colors tend to brighten under such clouds. It sounds prosperous and lovely, to be sure. We immortals do tend to have the time to work the earth to our needs when able. I will understand a need to be discreet in our arrival and possibly kept from public roam, for obvious reasons, but your home will be a most welcome change to being on the road so much.”] Nadia’s smile was soft and she kept a gentle gaze, perhaps allowing a little nostalgia to slip into emotion so as to take off the edge of fear that should probably be present. A wordsmith by nature, that one. [b With the overcast days, do you see much of the moonlight and stars during the night? The Mother Moon holds a calming effect on my people, perhaps knowing there may be visual of her would help in our coming endeavor.”]
It wasn’t that Mortis had not noticed how informally Zachary was being at this very tense and should be formal setting. It was more the fact he was trying not to pay attention too much, as risking the embarrassment going to his head would cause a bit of a violent place-putting there in the tent itself. It did not escape him that Cyrus was far more interested in how the two heirs were “getting along” than he was about the conversation at hand almost, but the old wolf was patient and understood this feeling, for once in agreement with the vampire. He could have cleared his throat and Zach would have immediately responded with a submissive motion, ceasing all conversation, and coming to attention, but he did not. He refrained from it, though, as his son was not completely out of line just yet and needed to learn to talk to the girl, any girl that wasn’t the kind to wrestle in the dirt with him, really. A proper young lady.
Tensions had started to rise again. It made the wolves’ hair all stand on end as the lead vampire’s given aura was something they were all familiar with. There was not a soul at the table who hadn’t been on the fury-end of a vampire’s ire, and the feeling had started to fill the room. Even Nadia’s eye twitched at the feeling that threatened to pull her attention away from the female vampire.
Brom, being the most experienced with these feelings, kept his eyes averted from the Vampire King, but his claws had already slid from their human form, taking that of the beasts’ claws while hidden beneath the table. A couple others, Luce and Zane, both seemed to be battling the sudden changes in mood. It was like someone had taken the kettle off of the fire when Josephine broke the tense feeling. The softest sigh escaping those who had tensed the most. They waited for the word of the Alpha…hd the damage been done? But Mortis could not blame the man, as he overheard his own’s sons’ foolish topics of conversation. It was no secret that had things been different, the more suitable Lanear would be here, by his side, taking this as seriously as it should be and knowing how to act. Instead, the old wolf tried to ignore the aura of irritation and focus on the reply.
[b “Right then. At least something seems to have been given some agreed detail, though not as ideal as we would have liked.”]
Zack was not immune to the feeling he got from the father of this woman before him. His ear twitched by it in the man’s direction, listening for some sound of a further threat than just the feeling. He could also feel the tensions of his packmates. This would all end badly if someone made the wrong move. But it was not the kind’s ire that he found himself as focused on…it was Sophalie and the other vampires in her company. As despite the tensions, none of them seemed ready to spring to fight anyone. If anything…there was a distinct chastised feel to the mood across from him….curious. He decided, consciously, to follow his father’s lead. To breathe into existence some form of restraint that was unexpected from one of his age and upbringing.
He instead, tried to focus on his own conversation, hearing her cut-short sentence and not being able to help the head-tilt of curiosity that followed his kind. It was obvious she hadn’t wanted to talk about it though, as whatever it was happened to be pushed aside for a claim to work towards higher education. It was cold again. She had cut off and sunk once more into this…mask of hers again. He had opened his mouth, about to claim that he doubted that was [I ‘all’], but the cabin opened. The old woman entering an interrupting them all. She waited this time, near the door, and cleared her throat.
[b[I “Dear new found friends…your carriages await you. I have given you all of the knowledge and wisdom I can impart to you at this time and you have need to be on your way fairly quickly. Hearing you get along as you have in my absence makes me believe that this union has a hope to it…Mortis and Cyrus….Nadia and Josephine….Zachary and Sophalie. Proof this day that more can be brought to the surface of both of your races than simply violence and bloodshed.”]] The blind woman chuckled ever so softly, not unlike a grandmother who was thrilled the grandchildren could get along. He raised hand though, to stop all protests or conversations over her words.
[I [b “Please….It is time. The details of this union, the small inconveniences that come about, and the conduct of your persons are things that must be worked out between you all. But as I said, time is short. Come now… Lord Cyrus and Lady Josephine, you may disperse those with you into the carriages as you see fit as Zachary and his companions give their farewells to those present. Once Zachary and his party have joined you in the carriages you designate, you may go. Mortis…you may say your farewells here…before departing for the carriages.”]]
The old woman stepped outside, ushering those in her company to leave her home. The vampires would be moved outside first…her attempt to give the wolves some privacy, Zack guessed. How…decent of her? He watched them go, almost begging internally not to be left alone with his father as the door closed.
[b “Right. You have heard the Seer. I will lay down some orders for my chosen three….”] As if by habit, the group separated. The four travelers on one side and the rest across from them. There was no use for emotion here…this was not something up for debate. [b “Brom. Keep an eye on the others. You know your duties and where your loyalty lies. I want you to make this peace work as best as possible… but if you cannot…Bring them home. Whatever the cost.”] Mortis’ gaze glanced more so at Zachary and Nadia, he was not an unfeeling man, that much was certain. Next, the Alpha brought his hands into view, those who knew the signs following along easily. [b “Luce. You are my eyes and ears. The least intrusive companion. Make yourself invisible as much as possible. I want you to be almost forgotten in your presence…which should not leave Zack’s side unless deemed necessary by Nadia.”] This made Zack want to groan. He hated the thought of having a babysitter, though Luce simply nodded and as indeed probably the least intrusive. [b “Nadia…my love….come back to me in one piece and…do try to make something of the boy. Today was a good example of the complete mess you’ll have on your hands.”] He broke the line this time, moving forward to kiss the woman, passionately, as any Alpha would a mate. It was expected, such displays of affection. Encouraged even, in their culture.
[b “And ..Payne..”] Zack felt his ears go back a little at the use of his middle name, biting back a savage remark as he’d thought he had done well today…his father made it seem like he’d messed everything up. [b “Zachary, come back alive…I’ll be looking forward to hosting the girl…she does seem to have …spirit. Be safe. No matter the cost.”] that line again…though the way the joke broke the tension between the pack with snickers, chuckles was astounding. Suddenly there was embracing by those on both sides, words of encouragement or warning and a jest or two…Zack watched them file out of the cabin…one by one…save one. His smile faded. He didn’t need to see her to know she was there, her scent had permeated his dreams for years.
[b "…I believe we will wait outside…Come…Brom, Luce, let’s get settled in the carriage.”] Nadia took the other two by the arm and lead them out of the cabin door…though everything in Zack wanted them to stay. Silence….Zack gazed out the open window a moment, before turning to face her.
[b “Veridae…”] A sound rang out, the sound of flesh on flesh. The sound of a growl as it made contact and Zack’s cheek burned deeply. He did not look up at her, his gaze staying on the floor.
[b “How…DARE you! [I ‘Do you like to read?’] [I ‘I like to stargaze’] …Is it really that simple for you? Some vamprie bats her bloodthirsty eyelashes and BAM, you’re just smitten?! You didn’t even say anything when your father was considering those to go with you…You just sat there…No protest….Did it even occur to you that I wanted to come? Out of everyone, you know I’d die for you. We were supposed to die together!”] Her blue eyes flashed with such rage and pain and accusation that it made him whimper, finding his words after such a slap, but they were soft and he still avoided her gaze. [b “What would you have me do? Go against the Alpha?”]
[b “You could have said no…”] Her voice was softer now, and it drove a blade through his heart that might as well be silver. [b “You could have said no to this whole thing…we could have run for it, you and I…like we always planned. Leave the pack. Leave the war and this stupid witch and started over. Is my love worth so little?”] She kept that tone, the soft and gentle coaxing. She’d wrapped her arms around him and it was hard not to bury his face in that silver hair. Instead, Zack put a hand on either of her shoulders, pressing her back, though his eyes remained on the floor. [b “You have a chance…A chance I can give you...at a life without pain, or fear, or war and I will go to the depths of hell and back to give you that life. This…Us…It was a dream, Veridae. Nothing more. I cannot give you what you seek.”] The words…where they came from, he didn’t know…but as he finished them, Zack finally met those blue orbs. He didn’t want to. His entire being was screaming at him to hold her one last time. But her hand raised again…this time, he caught it by the wrist.
[b “Once was more than sufficient. Remember your place, warrior and do not lay your hand on your Alpha lest you be punished for it.”] He could hear his father in his words and hated it. Her gaze going from anger to rage to pain and suddenly, she jerked away from him, backing slowly but saying nothing. He couldn’t watch her anymore, turning his back to her and starting for the door. [b “Goodbye…Veridae.”] He felt the tears coming, smelled them on her without having to look as he closed the door behind him and pressed his back to it. He wanted so badly to scream, to howl, to run for hours…but that wasn’t going to happen…not anytime soon. Nadia was standing by the door. She took his hand, wordlessly, and moved him through motions he couldn’t remember…like climbing into the wagon itself. He didn't want to face anyone right now, and those within the transport seemed to understand this...and did not ask questions as to the red mark left behind.
Halestrom; the name drop didn't go unnoticed by the Vampiress, fully aware of the history behind the Court. If this woman was from that now desolate memory of a palace, it was no wonder she sat at Mortis' side. Nearly no one survived. That being the case, it was a curiosity as to just who [i Nadia] was. She didn't delve further into the subject, making it clear it wasn't something to occupy their conversation as it continued. Rather, she picked up on talk of their own home. [b "It will be different, surely.]
[b "It's not quite what word-of-mouth insists. We may live in darkness, as was a concern Cyrus made clear in his earlier question, but our home is not without windows, nor do we live underground. Much like other castles, ours rests atop cared for land, quite immaculate with plant-life. Even without a constant sun overhead, they don't require such and instead, live quite like we do."] Red eyes glanced across the table, keeping watch on the situations around her before returning to their topic. [b "Overcast and grey is common weather in our lands, otherwise we would have to hide ourselves even in our own kingdom. Our people, living a settled life, have homes built along the stretches not occupied by the shops and other establishments. We do, after all, have much time on our hands to further build atop what we already have laid."] It would be insufficient to say Josephine was [i proud] of the accomplishments of her Kingdom. There may have been a small glint of amusement in her tone when thinking of the soon-to-be future where the canines would witness populated streets and peoples that have made that sole place their home, unlike themselves who roam. She may be a "humble" woman as far as comparisons went, but what she had to be prideful of, she would be.
Cyrus was caught, as far as his aid would be concerned. Sven was correct, there was a clear distinction made when he and Josephine would exit together, meaning it was not without reason that the same should be expected of their heirs; especially a [i new] couple. Whether they be of the type that openly is clear to their affections or subtle, they wouldn't separate when first arriving together.
Just thinking about his daughter even touching the wolf's hand elicited a discomfort in him. If not for the situation being what it is, Cyrus would separate the two immediately with aggression towards the wolf, if not some temperament for his child's choice to associate. Alas, that wouldn't be the case here. These conditions left them to only accept such association. He may not be the most loving father one could ask for, but vampires, especially in nobility, weren't especially known for showing affection towards their blood, aside from perhaps their significant other. That didn't mean he didn't feel the frustration he was sure the Alpha parallel to himself could empathize with; the frustration that their own blood would be pairing with the ancient enemy.
[b "Yes, I agree. Given how well-receiving they appear of one another,"] he gave a side glance to the two chatty-cathys. [b "I'll take it the arrangement of the heirs with our counterparts will be suitable. The people should also find it satisfactory, assuming it means the current leaders are in agreement with the arrangement."] It was unsurprising as his wife gave a tap against his ankle with her heel. He knew she found his wording to be too detached from how they were supposed to treat this, but as long as he was in a company where he could candidly show his discomfort, he would take the opportunity. It would be hard enough to voice happiness over such in front of his subjects.
He wasn't happy over this union, nor was he content handing his rule off to a girl, unable to contain herself enough to stand in a single line longer than ten minutes without consequence involved, much less so attached to the fancies of things outside of their "world." This referred not only to their Kingdom, but this universe itself. How she managed to get her hands on that fictional nonsense, he would never be sure, but it easily cluttered her head and that starry-eyed head of hers wasn't what he would consider proper ruling-material. It wasn't rare for Josephine to reassure him that she herself was willful in her younger days, but willfulness wasn't the main issue here. He wished it were true and he tried to put faith in his love's prediction, but he couldn't see Sophalie ever turning into the woman her mother is.
That small discomfort that had reminded him of its presence before returned with a wave as he looked over, hearing the smallest of chuckles from the smaller girl beside him. It was one thing when Josephine smiled or even laughed in conversation, being polite and civil, but he knew his child to be apathetic at best in social gatherings. She may smile, but it was always stiff and cold. By no means would she ever even fake a laugh. Any time she did, it was painfully obvious.
Her laugh was short and subtle, but it was there. To think she was actually finding amusement in their conversation...He barely noticed the tension in his fingers, overlapping each other on his crossed legs. An even greater conflict than his turning over his crown came over him as he dared to catch a glance at the boy that evidently, also noticed the faint laugh. Boastful and sure as he may be of how suitable his blood was of admiration and gaining the affections of many, he wanted no boy unsuitable of her to consider more than perhaps a glance from afar. Aware as he was of the need for the two to join under a single banner, bringing their nations together and forming some farce of a relationship, Cyrus was far from pleased when he noticed a small bit of hope in the boy's eyes. He may be accepting of their union for the circumstances it may be, but he was certainly not of the honest enjoyment, no matter how small it may be, of the conversation they had between the two. That was [i not] acceptable.
Again, that heel tapped against him, but harder this time. His stare at the two had only lasted a brief moment, but when it returned to his conversation, he felt the eyes of Josephine on him. She must've known that even two seconds of a glance at such a scene was an endless stream of thoughts he would drown himself in if not for being pulled from it. [b "Would such arrangement be alright with you?"]
[b "Quite,"] Josephine assured him, taking the cue to help avoid his agitation from becoming known.
Fable, Locke, and Hyde all three exchanged concerned glances. They [i felt] the barest hint of hostility from their King, having grown fully aware of it over the years. Even Locke, in his short time, could feel the weight of it. Especially having just given his nudge to the girl; he had to quickly turn to avoid seeing the disapproval he [i knew] was in Cyrus' seemingly casual, but absolutely sharp glare at Sophalie. The girl in question was also not unaware, having felt a chill skitter up her spine unlike that of a simple spook. She may disobey her father at times, but that was a stare that spoke far stronger than any words he could say. Tough and spirited as she was, if she were to have the curious ears of those across from them, they would surely droop back in some submission.
Call it her attempt at escape from that concern that built from the glance she had felt, but she found his deliberate insult towards them entertaining. To directly say they call them "barbaric" at a table where words of peace were being thrown; it was clear he was either more comfortable than he had been before, or he may have caught on to her hints of humor being dropped. [i Clever,] she thought. Not long after that thought, there was a small twitch in her eyes. It may have looked like irritation, but it was [i actually] a physical response as she tried to resist the next adjective that came to mind as he momentarily smirked: [i Cute.] Trying to hinder [i that] thought, she accidentally gave way to a smirk of her own, though it lasted no longer.
So his mother was brought up. It brought attention to the fact that the woman next to his father was no such role to him. The past tense he used made that clear. Aside from that, she made note of how comical it was that he took to re-reading the same scripts, living a nomadic lifestyle, whilst she found reading something twice to be uninspiring, living a settled life.
Whilst he paused to think, Sophalie reminded herself that this "escape" of a conversation was only that. It was polite talk to make this future they were supposed to walk into a little easier, not any actual talk of interest. The Vampire's barely-a-second look at the wolf girl that clearly felt distaste at the situation was an easy, quick reminder of that. Just as she had no attachments, as they did, it wasn't in her right to look for them here, union to be formed for the sake of peace or not.
Well, he wasn't wrong in that she wasn't surprised at his first suggestion. She may have unusual hobbies in comparison to other nobility, if not vampires in general, but she couldn't say anything about fighting. She was still in the process of trying to convince her father to allow instruction in combat using weaponry, even just fencing, much less fighting for fun. Stars, though, she could understand. [b "Well, I also-"] It didn't take any nudges or reminders this time to stop her before saying something she shouldn't. To say she enjoyed watching the stars would only alert those on her side to her continued, unsupervised, prohibited explorations out from underneath their clouded skies.
At least he gave her elsewhere to go from there. [b "Nothing too interesting...studying, I suppose. Education is important, after all."] Unfortunately, she couldn't elaborate on anything else she could call an interest of hers. Everything else was also frowned upon and would be improper to bring up, be it in her parent's presence or at this "union meeting" in general. [b "That's all."]
It was of great luck to her that by that time, a certain elderly woman returned to the room. Her escape, this time, would be from this awful cabin. At least there was that much to look forward to.
There was a slight scoff from Veridae, as the vampire’s female leader took to insulting, which is what it was, the werewolf form of dress and style. It was the first thing to have her attention that did not include a severe glaring in Zack’s direction. Nadia, though, did not miss a beat. The young female kept her smile, though there was a slight shimmer of pain and memory that crossed her eyes. A raised eyebrow came from Jarek as he and Luce paused their signing to see how this was going to pan out.
With her smile, unwavering and friendly, the female chuckled softly. [b “Our hair is indeed of different texture. The light furs make it harder to style in the same way as your own, but your braids are intricate and if taught, I’m sure there may be a way to adapt it. I thank you for the compliment, as it were. My personal interest with this chosen hair and dress today stems from long-lost traditions, as it were. While my comrades with me have never had the luxury of stability and it has made such fancies irrelevant, my own upbringing was quite different. I learned from my mother, back in the days of the Halestrom Royal Court. We used to pride ourselves on the stable nature of our palace home and strive to bring more of the Wildlanders in to teach them the traditions of our people. Ironic, really, that we found ourselves begging their acceptance once the Kingdom fell. But such dark times are behind us now, I am sure.”]
There was not a single accusatory note in her tone, her ability to keep her emotions in such check was partly why Mortis had found her council irreplaceable. It was such things as these that spread rumors of her hiding an Alpha heritage behind her Beta claim, but none would pry.
[b “It will be refreshing, I admit, to be within stone halls and formal tendencies again. Like some remnant of home, I expect, strangely as that may sound. May I ask what your home looks like? There are many speculations as to the Kingdom of the Vampires.”] She was not about to leave the conversation on such a sour note as the Massacre. Even by vampire standards, it was sure to be engraved in the legacies as not the fall of a pack of rabid dogs, but of a true kingdom.
Mortis, much like Cypher, enjoyed the fact that they could forgo the small talk and get down to a more important business. He saw the way the vampire royal seemed to give a more comfortable agreement to the change as well and it almost brought him a sense of ease. Duty was always easier to discuss with your enemy than the weather, as he was not like his mate. [b “It will be a trial indeed, for all involved. Perhaps the Seer will see our logic in such a notion.”] He paused, hearing the voice of the older man who had spoken on the leader’s behalf before. Allowing such an intrusion, as an addition, Mortis raised a brow at the man’s suggestion.
Despite his own hesitation on the matter, the old man was right. It would not do well for Zack and Sophalie to leave separate carriages upon arrival. The gears started to turn in the man’s mind as he thought over the issue. It would mean the heirs and two others in one, and that another would shelter two werewolves and two vampires apart. Though not ideal in the pack mentality, the logic behind the reason was sound. [b “So, from what I’m understanding, in the single day your predictions give way to, you suggest that the parties remain separate while the sun is high, being that in the hour of sunset, the parties swap carriages in order to arrive as though of one belief?...It does indeed make sense, though maybe not the most ideal in terms of selfishness.”] He let his gaze trail between the two men he now spoke with, not unaware that Brom had ceased his instruction to Zane and was intently aware of the conversation.
[b “Alas, that is partially what comes of sacrifice, I would assume. Should you decide on this swapping of riding companions, I admit to being more comfortable with at least one other of my own accompanying my son, I am sure you understand. I doubt the thought of your daughter alone in a carriage of wolves would bring any more comfort than my own thought of my son in the same predicament with your kin, Seer’s words or no. Perhaps separating by two would be decently accepted? Should the idea of such a swap be accepted, I believe Zachary and Nadia would be the ideal travel selection, leaving Brom and Luce in another carriage with two of your choosing.”] He did not hide his thoughts behind any sort of veil. The idea of trust was still raw for both parties and he doubted that his request would be denied as such.
Zack’s interests in the conversations held around him had faded, though he couldn’t stop hearing them. A curse, almost, as he knew better than to interject with his own opinions when not included, but had so much to say on the matter of riding with the vampire’s princess into her own land. His held breath nearly left him in one single, quick exhale as he watched her posture change just slightly…a drop of the shoulders making him wonder if he’d said something completely out of turn. He almost started to try to backtrack, opening his mouth to grasp at conversation and then he heard a sound that drowned out the rest by comparison.
She’d given a chuckle. His ears twitched at even the slight sound that it seemed like she didn’t want anyone else to hear but herself. Despite how short and quiet, almost impossible to discern it was, it gave him a small sense of relief. It may have been amusement at his expense…in fact, he was pretty sure that it was exactly that, but it didn’t matter. She had claimed his attention entirely with one small sound, finding himself paying more attention to her movements. Vampires always moved so strangely in comparison to his brethren.
Her answer made him smile, though small, as he felt they at least had something in common. More than he realized, as she elaborated on it being a passion, something truly enjoyed, something enjoyed. Perhaps they could lose themselves in the world of books sometime and not have to tip-toe around their current situation so much.
The way she returned the question, though, made his eyes light up. Not with anger or insult, rather with a playful gleam at the introduction of such banter. It was like a second language to him and his own, though he noted that she changed again. It was like he was catching glimpses of this being…and then immediately being shut off from the nature of them in such a stark and brutal way that it made it hard to know the proper way to talk to her. It was starting to frustrate him slightly. [b “Do I read? Surely, if I did not, I wouldn’t have inquired as to whether you enjoy the practice. However, I can see where my…[I ‘ahem’]…barbaric nature, as your people usually put it, might give the impression that we do not. Though it is not something I have had the luxury of doing over a wide-variety of texts, I do indeed read.”] Though he didn’t quite chuckle, there was a playful key to his words and a smirk took the smile over a moment before fading again.
[b “My mother used to keep the records of our historic texts and she would often let me read them. History in general is something I am quite fascinated by, though I enjoy a good fiction when I can get my hands on them. The rarity of a new book little affords any sort of bias when it comes to the creator or genre at all, so we are in agreement there, though we must differ in re-reading, given that I have a history of wearing out a good book from time to time.”] The nerves had started to build again. Sure, one could say he had found some small way to break the ice between them, but at the end of the day, she was still a vampire.
The thought tried hard to get him to remember that fact as she asked for his hobbies, knowing she probably only asked for the sake of conversation as he had, and reminding himself that a vampire, bookworm or not, was probably not interested in the least in his actual musings. If anything, she would only find fault in them, as he’d tried asking about reading specifically with the thought that the vampires were a learned race, surely. [b “Given the nature of my bring, I never say no to a good, well-natured fight. But that’s probably not the kind of response you’re looking for or would be surprised by. I also don’t mind a bit of stargazing, seeing the patterns that are constant and unchanging when even the moon herself gives way to shadow.”] Why? Everything he said seemed to form simply and unimpressively. It made even himself more aware of how inadequate he was for this task. [b “And what of yourself, m’lady, are there other things you enjoy doing with your time?”]
[b "I'm confident that our hair is very different in many ways."] Josephine quirked her head a bit. [b "Both in volume and texture,"] as she spoke, a hand consciously moved to fiddle at her hair. [b "There is a benefit to putting energies into grooming habits. After all, our kind holds much value in aesthetics."] There was a brief narrowing of her eyes, quickly replaced with her well-mannered smile. [b "That makes me curious, having never known werewolves to put time into such activity, as to where [i you] learned them from. It's..unique."] She took in the appearances of those around Nadia, a clear comparison being made.
Meanwhile, Cyrus offered nods in confirmation of catching the words of the Alpha. It was surely not in understanding. The leader had expected such words to come from Mortis, uninspiring to further question. Nothing more than a further elaboration on what he already knew and honestly had no interest in knowing more about. [b "Memories are a treasure to the long-lived like ourselves."] Putting himself on the same scale; it brought a bitter taste to his mouth just saying it.
Apparently the man had his own concerns. Speaking in an official tone, Cyrus welcomed the purely professional conversation. [b "Energized or otherwise, I worry not for our safety with your representatives."] Aged eyes remained serious. [b "Rather, my concerns lie with the adjustment of those party to this. Your son and three companions, my daughter, wife, I, and our four accompaniment...I would find it within reason to separate them, if the [i Seer] would agree."] There was a small bite in his words, but of no insult; not to the Seer. He did grow to trust her. Sophalie's father was only lessening in patience for the little respect gifted to planning ahead.
It was Sven who joined the conversation. [b "Perhaps it would benefit them to transition partway?"] Even as Cyrus gave a partly irate glance his way, Sven carried on. Supporter, council, friend; whatever he may be, Sven was a proper politician with much forethought in their affairs of peace everlasting.
[b "In what way?"] His head hadn't turned, but eyes beneath light, sharp lashes found the older vampire as their target.
A smile so small it could barely be considered the memory of one crept at the man's thin lips, fangs only peeking further out. [b "Our travel to arrive took nearly two days thanks to the sunlight, even with our parting with carriages only partway here thanks to the dense forest. This way, it should take no more than a day, if even that, but have either of you considered when they arrive? If your party,"] a polite gesture waved at Mortis as he spoke to them both. He brought his hands back together to rest against his mouth, elbows leaned on the surface of the table.
Whether his ideas had political reason or was the scheming nature of the elderly man, Cyrus wasn't sure, but even if the latter were the case, Sven always found a way to make sense of it all. [b "Were to exit a carriage without one of our own...No, I correct. If the two heirs were to arrive separate from one another, then what happens to the fictional partnership and romance that our Madame of Magics referred to before? What couple would depart alone after just coming to a sort of union, be it official or speculatory? My Liege, you never leave the side of your beloved when traveling a great distance, especially with political means, do you?"]
Between the two, Josephine easily caught wind of Sven's suggestion. She chose to ignore it, finding some amusement in his ideas. Not only for the valid reason they brought, but for the position he placed Cyrus in. The men would have to come to agreement somehow, meaning she wouldn't have to push the diplomacy alone.
Just a seat away from the mess of concerns, Sophalie was highly distracted by her conversation. That is, she was distracted trying to investigate her previous debate as to whether his hair was more fur or typical. Some in between? His hand through it gave her little answer.
While that was left to question, he confirmed her prior inquiry. She already knew they were a culmination of many, not one single family. It was why the vampires found no fault in calling them "mutts." The term wasn't far off, even brothers being separated between packs at times, persons from far lands being invited in without any necessary gain met from it. His question to her side was..not really a question? To call those by her loyal was an affirmation, not a question. Did Zachary even think about what he was saying before he said it? How was she supposed to respond to that? [b "Ah, yes, they are..."] There was nothing more than that.
Then came an actual question that left her blinking in question momentarily. First he shovels out formal phrases and words to fill the space of silence, and then he asks if she..reads? If she [i likes] to read. That was at least something she could answer, but as her shoulders gave a drop, she questioned if he'd only just come to learn anything about causal conversation. Children would ask such a thing.
The smallest of a jump came to her shoulders from a barely-there chuckle, not completely audible, not shown on her face, but still there.
[b "I do, quite a bit."] Maybe she should show how to elaborate on something in a way that the other person actually [i learns] something. [b "You could call it a passion,"] too strong of a word for a [i lady.] [b "A [i hobby] of mine to study texts. Be it fact or fiction, there is always something to gain from reading. I am not picky as to what style it is written or what genre or author, though I will rarely read something twice. Do [i you] read?"]
Another nudge came to her side, Locke making no particular eye contact with anyone. He was part of the background, trying to keep Sophalie polite and well-mannered. That included not serving subtle insults, be it accidental or not. [b "Or is there anything you enjoy time spent doing in particular?"] She covered, yet again.
Mortis had a rebuttal for the ancient looking man who had responded instead of the vampire’s leader. He would have challenged the man, for sure, with the continued show of control over his own pack members. The vampire’s people may have trouble and be an issue as far as the safety of all involved in this visit…but the wolves were much more easy to control. Zack had no doubt that should his father waltz back home with the vampire princess and her people in toe, there would be a few growls and maybe a couple side-eyes…but no one would dare step a toe out of line. Punishments for disobedience of the Alpha were severe enough as they had to be to keep very strict order on the wild emotions of the beasts. Should anyone attack a protected individual, the Alpha would have them skinned.
As he opened his mouth to say as such, the young woman, sensing this turning into a war of superiority, placed a grip on Mortis’ arm to silence him without speaking out of turn. Anyone who would look at Nadia from the outside alone would see a young woman, with eyes as aged as Mortis’ own sat next to her. Her pleasant demeanor and strong personality had come with her as she joined with the pack. Zack remembered the vision of her, coming through the woods. Her fancy clothing torn, bloody and dirtied with two children in her arms that were not her own. Beta she may have been, but she had led the remnants of the females left alive, all no better a vision than she, without hesitation. Experiences that left their mark on her, beneath the beautiful clothes and the red fur, but she had always been one to smile regardless and help when she could.
At the moment, she was happy to find some form of company with the woman across from her, or so the energy would read despite the situation. [b “Ah, I appreciate your compliment. I was concerned that the trip would have left them rather dull and dirtied thus I made my best effort to wait until we were close enough before changing from traveling attire into something I hoped would be more suitable. Please tell me, though, how you’ve managed to keep your hair so neatly tied and braided with such a distance to travel. Mine tends to fall loose so easily and can become a slight hassle, being rather long.”]
There was a slight relieving of tension...just slight, which was a charm of polite conversation, he supposed. Zack’s ears twitched just slightly. Without looking he could hear Brom discussing details with Zane about what should happen as the young Omega was about to have his chance to show his capabilities with Brom’s absence from the pack. On the other side, Luce and Jarek were signing back and forth with each other, ignoring Veridae’s presence between them as the woman had gone from glaring at Zack to glaring at her own lap. He would have to speak with her before they departed. It wouldn’t be an easy conversation.
Mortis’ ear twitched as Cyrus spoke directly to him, perhaps impressed to finally find conversation coming from the man himself and not his woman or the older one who had spoken on his behalf earlier. Did these vampires have no reign of order at all? Still, the question seemed to relax him a little, not being one that would come across as a battle of any kind, though still with a slight sting of insult to them. Banter…of course. The Alpha smirked a bit, mulling over an answer. [b “The nature of our travels has taken my pack to several distant lands in the past. Though we have mostly remained in the less populated areas and rural cities when present there. Alas, I carry little proof of this, save those who travel with me, collected from various lands over the years. There is not much room for much in the way of material things when on the move.”] He paused, his eyes distant a moment before he shifted a bit and straightened.
[b “Lord Cypher, shall we discuss the details of travel? With three carriages being prepared to journey to your lands, and with daylight coming, I would assume that keeping our kinds separate would bring a peace of mind to you and your party members during such vulnerable hours. Though I doubt, after traveling all night, that there would be any energy left within my Son or those with him to do much, I would be of a mind to understand not fully relying on such things to feel safe on your way home.”]
It was meant as a gesture of understanding and care, something his father showed very few moments of when talking to most people in regards to duty and getting things done. Still, it would at least give them all a chance to rest easily, one last time.
She didn’t laugh at him. A Zack’s attention had not wavered completely from the one across from him, his ears returned to her alone as she spoke, hearing his name from her lips and something else…he saw the way her gaze seemed to shine with the same energy he’d felt from her before she questioned the Seer. He saw something cross her face…almost mischievous in nature, and it shocked him a moment as that smirk graced that other-wise pale and emotionless face. A crack in the marble fortitude that he found almost welcoming.
Zack almost whimpered as it fell again, seeing her back-peddle into that cold, stoic form. Wishing he could stop the sudden wall that closed her off again. It was almost painful to hear her cover such emotion so weakly. The question though made him grin a bit, thinking of how they must all look on the werewolf side. He raised one arm, running a hand through the wild locks he had failed to tame for this meeting. [b “Close is one way to put it. Though you are right in thinking not all of us are blood related. Pack-related, Pack-family, but not as much by blood. It is actually quite common in our lands for family not to only include blood.”] Every time he spoke it was less cordial than she. He knew that and wished he could word thins better…like Lanear would have. He’d have found a way to make the girl laugh by now, for sure.
[b “I did notice that your party seems to be well-experienced in years, for the post part. Though I am going to guess that each individual here is expressly loyal and reliable, as any would take the most of such for a journey like the one we have partaken.”] It was true, the ones seated on the vampire side all seemed more to be older than she. Was she lonely at all? Did vampires even feel loneliness? Did they feel much of anything? He tried to put it from his head and think of a way to salvage his clumsy self.
[b “Tell me, M’lady, if you would…Do you like to read?”] He went for it. He just fucking went for it. As though they were not of different species. As though they were just strangers on the street and not the kind that would be murdering each other if not for meeting here. It made him hold his breath.
Could it be her mistaking the way the light hit their tanned features, or were the werewolves amused? Even that heir's incessant heartbeat changed after she had spoken. He was still uncomfortable, as was she, but his glances towards her didn't spark quite the upset it had before. She couldn't say the same for her side, but for a moment, just a brief moment, Sophalie felt in agreement with the other side.
Her distaste was quick to return as the Alpha made his offer. Cyrus and his people weren't unaware of the humor the wolves found in this, only growing insulted by the extended hand. This may have been a meeting of peace, but that offer, to them, felt to be nothing more than a victorious enemy offering leeway to the fallen foe. Cyrus was unamused. Sophalie may not be on the best terms with her father at this very moment, but that didn't change the way her eyes narrowed at the Alpha who stared her father down. To Cyrus, they may as well have been saying their way of life was superior. In fact, her mother and the several others of their kind felt the same. Sophalie only felt disdain towards the Alpha for the advantage he took in the moment to knock her father down a notch.
He may not have been her favorite person in the world, but he wasn't deserving of mockery. It must've been Sven's well-known intuition that told him Cyrus wouldn't be making a verbal reply. To do so, knowing they could only reject the offer, would be leaving them above himself. Sven, as the man in the shadow of her father's form, would take the fall. [b "That will not be necessary. To send Lady Sophalie would be just as short notice, if not, perhaps, worse. The worries we have are not for accommodation to guests, but to allowing our people the time they need to prepare for the arrival of..[i past] enemies. They may have been aware of our reach for peace, but it may still come as quite the shock."] Deflecting was one of his skills. He pulled the topic off of them and back to the people they ruled, all concern being for them. Whether that was truly why her father feared the sudden decision or not, she couldn't guess, but Sven's convincing argument was met with a calmness returning to their row.
The Seer went on from there, considering the offer and their options. The parting gifts she mentioned didn't go without grateful nods in return. Evidently, it wasn't Sophalie alone that worried for the rising sun. Would their travel with the boy and his entourage include their rest in the carriages as well, or would they travel outside of it? That was doubtful, considering she offered the same care to those returning home without the pair. She could only hope that there would be no requirement that led them to being together in the carriage. After all, three? There were six of them and four of them to return. It was plausible they be separate, but then why would all three lack windows? That would mean there would be a vampire in each, unless it was her strange way of getting them accustomed to no sunlight.
It was a little unexpected when, upon returning her gaze to the figure across from her, their eyes were locked. If her heart were beating, she had a feeling it would've stopped for a moment. There was no greeting smile on her face, nor his. Neither of them flinched nor faltered. Instead, they just stared at one another. Were his eyes growing more vibrant? Her distraction in them was strong enough to dismiss the thundering beat of the heart she'd heard before, an underlying growl likely following the sharp blue eyes. Rather than looking to such sound, Sophalie continued to familiarize herself with this face. The heaviness of his eyelashes, the slight golden hue that lit up his face, even the way such messy hair wasn't entirely a wreck. As she'd thought before, he was an attractive man, just not her brand. He wasn't even properly groomed before arriving, something she assumed dogs might have some knowledge in. Ah, but the strange softness she noticed in the way his hair layered on itself; it wasn't filth keeping it up, but a fur-likeness. The vampire grew curious to the touch of it...Well, that wasn't ever going to happen. Not if she couldn't even directly speak to the boy.
And oh, how that thought would come to bite her. With the Seer's cheeky exit, the two families were left to each other, alone.
It was the red haired wolf that first spoke. Without much surprise, her own mother replied. [b "I would say so."] She gave a smile, though the tightness of it was without question. [b "It took some time, but the journey was a pleasant one."] It was also a mostly silent one, she failed to mention, aside from the times Sophalie was delivered a well-earned amount of bitching. [b "Oh, but I must ask how you managed to keep that lovely gown so pristine? I daresay the gems look polished."] Low-and-behold, her mother managed to divert the conversation into fashion; a primarily female topic. Way to go, mom.
Meanwhile, her father dared to finally speak. Directly, at that, to the man that dared his authority in the space of the Seer's home. [b "Alpha Mortis..."] Although she didn't turn her eyes from the heir, Sophalie visibly stiffened with concern. [b "To what ends have your pack traveled? You don't appear to carry luxuries, but surely you've crossed into exotic borders in your time?"] Her shoulders slightly dropped with relief. At least, much like her mother, he could be engrossed in trivial conversation when needing to pass the time. Pleasantries and moments like these weren't uncommon to them, thus they had the perfect arsenal of topics to dish upon the Werewolves.
That was when she finally saw her own "partner's" mouth open to speak. There picked up that heartrate again, with good reason. Even she grew more anxious, knowing the time to speak directly was upon them. At least it was in the company of their peers, rather than alone. That made it a formal occasion, in her mind. She could roll with that.
An introduction? Not to mention a passing throw of snark at her name? It may have been the proper thing to do, but his dare to remark on her "posh" name was something that no one that knew her would ever do. It wasn't an insult that she felt, but a need to rebuttal the commentary. Holding back anything [i extensive], she replied, at first, with the same mechanical grace she'd held to start.
[b "Thank you, [i Zack.]"] She enunciated his name, pausing before the slight hint of her attitude from just moments before reappeared in a slightly playful manner. [b "Hm.."] she mused. [b "Awfully curious, the need Werewolves have to simplify. I suppose it's a difference one [i could] find endearing."] Unlike her mother's tight smile, the raise at one corner of Sophalie's lips formed a small smirk. As quickly as it appeared, it fell, Locke giving a nudge to her thin frame. [b "I jest."] She covered.
Knowing this moment would only grow strange without her continuation, she found a follow-up. [b "I see you're all very close..but I don't believe you're all related by blood. Would I be correct?"] She gave a glance to the younger side of the table. [b "It's nice to see young faces other than ourselves here..pardon if that sounds rude."] Her eyes weren't narrow, but their interest wasn't with wonder either. She met their side with purely politeness.
Like she would find interest in their age. Sure, it was a decently nice change to see, but that didn't mean she was actually curious. Besides, to ask about them further would only fuel her previous twisting emotions towards the subject.
Maybe it was that twist of feelings that edged her into even asking in the first place. After all, what was a curious girl to do but ask about the thing most foreign to her: friends.
As opposed to his Father’s stoic and strong outlook to the positive of this whole situation, the vampire counterparts across the table had changed slightly, to the keen eye. Zack’s emotions started to dull to the shifts and strange changes of the features of these beings. It was not a pleasant look at all, instead being a look of disagreement. It seemed to have unsettled the guests across the way more than it had the wolves themselves which had started to intrigue the young alpha-heir.
His people had never settled in one place for very long. The many times they had to up and leave as quickly as possible, sometimes in the middle of the daylight without any warning, leaving everything behind to start over, had prepared them all for any unexpected moves. Traveling light, keeping very little in the way of personal items and being ready to run without question was possibly why a pack as large as their own had managed to stave off the massacres that would happen when vampires found their living quarters every time.
Even for this trip, Zack had grabbed the small bundle that had held the entirety of his personal effects. Just in case the encampment had to move before they had returned from this meeting. Items he didn’t wish to leave behind or lose. To see, and then hear, the stern retort of the one man who had not spoken yet, the Vampire leader, as it were, had brought a glint to Mortis’ eye. The man was trying to hide the fact that he enjoyed seeing the vampires squirm in their lack of preparation. Despite the pride of the wolfpack meeting the terms easily while the other party struggled, Zack had to agree with the older vampire.
With both actually, as he saw the woman attempt some form of damage control in case the wolves saw this s some kind of insult…which, seeing the amusement in his father’s face, it was not taken in that way at all. The truth was, the vampires were true…It was long speculated that the creatures fed only on blood and crept around by night…it was rumored that their home had no windows and was dark and cold …just as dark and cold as the creatures themselves. But alas, it was all rumor…unless it were not and in that regard, simple things such as nourishment and sunlight would indeed be an issue.
The seer seemed to have an answer for everything. Every concern, though not a solution. Zack felt like this was a bit redundant of a response, as it was just a fancy way of saying ‘Hell, I dunno, you figure it out.’ …sometimes these flowery speech forms were simply annoying ways to make things sound more pleasant than they were. His own eyes turned from his father to the Seer, to the vampires, watching them calm again…except one. His ..dare he call her ‘Potential’ pair-bond actually spoke. This time far less with the tamed, emotionlessness that he had heard from her before. This was different…it was like seeing someone different as she spoke. His lips parted slightly…perhaps as shocked as her Party looked for seeing her speak ‘out of turn’ but her words were correct. Words he wanted to say. Words he couldn’t have said…perhaps she was indeed, more brave than he.
There was a moment of back and forth, as the Seer tried her tripe of words on Sophalie, calming and attempting to appease her, but for the first time, Zack noticed the same fire he felt…that this whole situation was possibly futile and would only lead to travesty despite the path they took. That and it was a bit unfair…but the flame he saw in her was put in it’s place, seeing the way her parents and her people disapproved of her ‘outburst’. He heard Nadia’s comment to his father, as they were speaking, a whispered ‘I like her…’ Under her breath, which kept the small smirk on the werewolf Alpha’s face before it faded to seriousness again as the submissive apology that came from the other side of the table.
[b “There is no need for such apologies on our end, m’lady. Though, Cyrus, I will extend an invitation to you, should having my son and his entourage visit your lands first bare too much of a burden upon your people, we are more than prepared to do what needs to be done in such a short notice to accommodate your chosen heir and her party members. As stated before, such short notices are not uncommon for my people and thus it is easier for us to work under such pressures.”] Mortis turned his steel gaze to Cyrus, in particular, watching the man carefully as he gave such an offer. The jab did not go unnoticed by the Seer, but it was a non-mistakable truth as were the words said across the table. Though there was attempts at stifled chuckles or a slight unhindered grunt from the wolves’ side, they would say nothing without the alpha’s permission.
[b [I “It is a possibility, but given the circumstances and after studying both of your ways, I advised Zachary to go first as it would cause the least amount of disruptions to both Nations. I will not ay that it would not work, though. It would seem to be the more…difficult path.”]] The seer looked over all present one at a time, giving a chance to let them speak before she cleared her throat again.
[b [I “Despite what may be decided here as far as travel goes, I will bestow upon all of you a gift of peace, in all good faith. For those traveling to the Vampiric lands, I will provide three carriages. Windowless and able to travel the distance as you sleep, as this meeting will not end in time to travel safely under sky. For the ones traveling to the Wolven lands, I offer the same gift, though windows open, should you wish to take them. It will make returning from the long journey a lot easier and they will return of their own accord after you disembark.”]] The older woman gave a wave of her hand and one of her many cats jumped out from a shelf and went through the flap in her door.
Zack was partially lost a moment, as he felt eyes on him…and not just the glaring blue orbs that refused to leave him and yet which he could not look into for fear of feeling some form of pain. The other gaze was no better, as he lifted those lavender eyes to the female who dared to meet them. He felt his heart stop in his chest. They had always been told not to try to meet the gazes of vampires because it was how they got humans to freeze and follow them to their deaths. Hypnotic powers, they said. But though he dared not look away, Zack didn’t find himself under her control or anything. Stuck, staring deeply into those eyes that seemed to have a glow to them, knowing he had to keep it until she looked away again, and yet …he was slowly getting lost in them. Why? She wasn’t his type. She was too pretty. She was too disciplined and cold for his taste. Yet…her eyes…he found beauty there…perhaps if he just focused on them, he could make this work…somehow.
[b [I “Perhaps…it would be best for us to pause and take a moment to gather ourselves. I must step out a moment…if you cannot find a way to be civil in my home among yourselves then we are all doomed.”]] The Seer almost seemed to chuckle as she slowly got to her feet, creaking bones sounding as she took hold of her own staff and headed towards the door.
Silence followed the door’s closure. Silence broken as Nadia, ever the diplomat, cleared her throat a little. [b “The journey must have been quite a distance for you all, I hope it was at least uneventful? We enjoyed having a clear night to travel by…the storms of late have been quite tedious to move during.”]
The weather….of course…he remembered his mother teaching small talk to Lanear…but he was in his own battle at the moment, locked in a viewing with the heir of the vampires. If only he could find words to say to her...if he could maybe even start some form of conversation...if he could maybe find something witty to say to make her smile...if only his mother had been there to guide him before he was stuck trying to converse with the enemy he would have rather killed a moment ago. What could be possibly say that wouldn't make him out to be more an idiot than he was sure they thought him already? should be properly introduce himself?
[b "Sophalie...That is a lovely name. For a vampire, I mean...bit posh for a werewolf...Ah...You can call me Zack."] He shifted a bit, wishing he hadn't said anything at all. It sounded stupid even as he said it. Softly or not, the words were heard by others. Forced and stiff and it made his cheeks warm just slightly.
To think that such a worrying, unsettled boy was supposed to be able to court her? He couldn't calm himself and it was evident before all of the night dwellers. She still couldn't even imagine sitting next to him, but now she wasn't even sure he could so much as walk within a foot of her without shaking. She wasn't that scary, was she? Sure, they were mortal enemies, but they weren't even attempting intimidation yet.
Granted, she couldn't say she wasn't nervous herself. Reality was coming much closer than she would like and even Sophalie may not have the courage to walk directly towards him. Be it in anger for what they were, fear, or simple anxieties, this was going to prove difficult.
Even more so as the Seer deemed what she felt the appropriate next action: travel.
It was no surprise when her father's eyes widened, eyebrows furrowing downwards, sharp as thick, greying arrows could be. The tension she felt radiating from him caused a slight flinch in the gloved hands that remained folded on her lap. Straight as she may have already sat, it was no doubt that the vampire stiffened further. Even Sven leaned forwards, the inquisitive nature on his features deepening. Sophalie could've sworn she heard the swallowing of Locke next to her, just a seat over with Hyde seething in her chair.
With only her mother and Fable remaining calm, Sophalie knew this would be hard for even the Seer to convince them of. Sophalie was no exception to the unsteadiness. First she talks about the heirs having a "convincing romance," which was certainly never going to happen. To fake in front of people that she had actual feelings for this boy? No matter how excellent she may have been at masking her true thoughts and emotions, to portray [i love] between them for any reason beyond keeping the peace...This woman was insane. Then, she proceeds to suggest not only that Zachary visit their lands, but she travel to theirs as well?
Just look at how they carried themselves! Perhaps he might find some learning experience in staying in their lands, maybe understand proper etiquette and dress more than he had, but what was she supposed to understand of them by being there? That they lived in nature and ignored modern convenience? They wore rags for clothes simply for the patterns and cared little for decency? Perhaps the assumptions were growing larger due to her worry, but it was without a doubt that she wasn't a fan of the idea.
A whole week, no less. They had prepared [i nothing] for a stay; not for him and not for the three accompanying him either. Those dogs may have been alright with such spontaneity, but they needed planning. All magics forbid if Sophalie was the one leaving first. No one came to this meeting with anything ready for travel, no strategy, no nothing.
Seeing the reactions of those who were named, she found herself imagining them inside her home. How would those at home react? Other than the few here, no one else would be expecting werewolves to come strolling right to the front door with the Merlots leading them in. That could only lead to problems, which also would mean they would have to [i protect] them. Sophalie would have to defend these fur ridden ruffians from her own people.
It had only just dawned on her that this meant they would be at their side as soon as they left the walls of this home. She wouldn't breathe outside air again before having to travel with them. How did they even do that? Did they shift and just run the whole way like some kind of wild men? Did they have any concept of pacing, or did they just gun for it without thinking? Unsure of what hour it was, Sophalie couldn't plot whether this meant they would be leaving near sunrise or not, bringing up many more questions as to how this would work.
This Seer was only grinding further on her nerves. This guaranteed they would be having to converse with her further for whatever other schemes she had. The fact that she knew so much and they were left unaware until the last second, having to rely on her decisions was driving her up the wall.
[b "Honorable Seer, Madame of Magics, I know it is not appropriate of me to question your decisions, but we have not prepared for visitors of any sort. Especially not of a kind that requires needs aside from our own."] Cyrus finally made his stance clear. [b "I do not believe this is a wise action."]
The young woman was plenty surprised by his gall in speaking poorly of her ideas, but was partially proud of him for speaking his own mind rather than molding it with the Seer. Even her mother chirped in with, [b "Cyrus is right. We mean no disrespect,"] Unlike Cyrus, Josephine gave a brief look to the wolves, trying to assure them of the same. [b "But we vampires live in the night and die by the sun. It takes no more than a glance to see that this alone is a discrepancy between us that can't be ignored."]
Thoughtful nods met their concerns from the Seer. Sophalie had no doubts that she would soon say some pretty words that somehow made sense about something that has no reason to make any sense, calming them and convincing them to agree. Needless to say, she was right.
[b [i "These are practical concerns you bring to the table. In fact, I would say these reasons are why we meet here to discuss, rather than sending these peace-bringers off without addressing worries...What you speak of is one of the broader differences between your nations. It will take adjusting, but this is one of my hopes for you; that you will contrive a way to solve this."]] The folded hands in Sophalie's lap curled into fists as her father calmed, Sven giving a nod. They were really accepting this. [b [i "I do wish to help you further in this, but some answers, if you are meant to commune and bring about peace, must be found and understood through your own insight and experience..."]] Every word was soft and caring, only worried to console them. The milky way she spoke and the way her wrinkles tugged at her smile, a glow of pure intent around her, the vampire felt her stomach twist.
She was, after all, a reckless girl. Her next move should've been expected, but Locke was not quick enough to reach for her to warn her not to speak before her mouth opened.
[b "If I may be so bold,"] The glare from her parents made it clear she [i may not] be, but it wouldn't be the first time she selectively blurred them from her vision, instead focusing on the Seer. [b "This is all very utopian in theory, but these are ideas coming from the mouth of a woman who has no consequence should this fail. Death could come, should one side betray the scheme you've set, or even a damage done to our alliance that can't be mended no matter how many years are spent attempting."] Her energy only grew. [b "There's even the chance some outside force could effect it; the possibilities are endless. I am aware of and do believe in your foresight, but the future can be tampered with easily. Our livelihoods, our homes, our futures are being put on the line for this."]
There should've been a question to end her ramble, but she couldn't decide quite how to word it. She only stared at the elderly woman, fully aware of the disapproval facing her from her side if not the others as well, before answers were formed.
[i [b "Ah, yes, Sophalie, I do understand."]] That milky sweetness of a gentle grandmother rolled over into her ears.
[b "Madame, please, ignore-"]
A feeble hand rose from the feline to pause Cyrus in his speech. [b [i "It is of no bother...As I have said, we are here to discuss."]] She gave a gesture to the table. [b [i "She is free to speak, as long as it remains within the lines of peace. Sophalie, you worry for the protection of not only your home, but of those taking up temporary residence within it. If this were to fail, permanent damage may follow. I take no offense to your worries, as you are far from the first to have any doubts or wish for reassurance...Unfortunately, I must request you trust my sight...There is no perfect science to explain the way in which I see this future, but there has never been a prediction made or future offered from my visions that hasn't been met, be it through following my words or ignoring them."]] Sophalie's shoulders fell slightly back as she calmed. Her father took her hand in his, gripping it tightly. She was going to hear about this later for damn sure.
[b [i "Cyrus, do not fear your daughter's curiosity."]] It may have been a slight fear in the woman that caused him to let go. [b [i "If you must view it in some foreboding way, realize that this curiosity is a profitable trait for any leader to have, as well as a bravery to speak in this strange audience...Sophalie, I do wish I could better service your worries, but do know I believe in both you and Zachary's abilities to bring about this future I have promised."]]
To think that the woman could even calm [i her.]
A girl of proper society, she knew it was in her place to apologize. As much as she may have hated such an act of submissiveness, she bowed her head to both the Seer and those across from her. [b "Thank you, Honored Seer and Madame of Magics, for consoling my concerns. Both to you and those across from us that are taking on this overwhelming responsibility as well, I apologize for my outburst. May we succeed in achieving peace and prosperity together."] The words stung as they left her mouth, warmth crawling up from her hands in irritation as her having to say such things to [i them.] Nonetheless, she was an honest girl and upon her apology, raised her head to look straight into the lavender eyes across from her, knowing she had no choice in this matter but to get used to their sight.
Not only was the Seer the lucky one for her position outside of all of this, but for another reason; she was blind.
His heartbeat could be heard in his own ears, he was sure it was heard all about the room. Glad to be able to sit back down, Zack’s breathing started to calm, hiding shaking hands beneath the table. Why had it made him so nervous? Sure the weight of the words bore down on his shoulders like a boulder, but that shouldn’t have got him so wound…or should it? He tried not to glance too much at the vampire’s side, feeling the scrutiny in their eyes as they watched him. [I ‘Monsters. The lot of them.’] He thought, feeling the ringing beat in his ears start to settle as the elder-seeming female spoke across the table.
The words she spoke were rather fancy-placed, he thought, though he was never one to have been brought up in the way of addressing courts so perhaps this was normal? Zachary’s fate was always to be a soldier and a strategist for his Brother’s reign. He was not the eldest, it shouldn’t have fallen to him from the start and while his mother had worked extensively with Lanear on his speech and his politics, Zack had been brought up with another sibling in the ways of war and combat. He had trained under Brom and his Elite Hunt, raised to be a hunter. With the death of Lanear and his mother, he had been thrust into the world of politics rather unexpectedly and did not possess the same amount of verbal charm that would have come with lessons.
As she finished her speech, Zack found it odd that the older male did not speak at all. Did he think himself above communicating in the room with his enemies or did he simply have nothing to say? This was his heir, was it not? That they were speaking of. Perhaps it was more of a control issue, not wanting to say something that might upset the entire effort. With a slight pang, Zack reminded himself that they probably smelt his fear and it would have deemed him quite less of a candidate for this whole debacle. [I ‘Please let that be the case. Please disapprove and send me home.’] He begged internally. He felt the pack stiffen in unity at the movement of the female who stood from her seat.
He tried to study her, more than scrutinize her. His gaze was less the sharp and interrogative ones that a few of those from his side of the table held on her. Having been in such a position not but a moment ago, he hunted her face and eyes and stance for any sign that she was struggling with this. For some notion to the solace of solidarity. Anything, really, that would make him feel like that in this, at least, they were in some form of agreement. Nothing. She was as cold seeming and faultless as her race always were. A strange, sinking feeling found it’s way into his gut. She either did not care about this arrangement or she was simply much stronger and steady than he was. Perhaps the latter, which wouldn’t be a bad trait for a pairbond…but this was still a vampire. A cold and emotionless stone of a being which he could not read as he didn’t know how of if they could be read at all.
Turning his soft and now slightly defeated gaze to his lap a moment, he felt a foot nearly crush his own and raised his head again. His father’s stern reminder of where they were and who these people were. Showing weakness in such a submissive stance was insulting. Thankfully, most had turned their gaze to from the now seated ‘Vampire Princess’ to the Seer once more.
[b [I “Such convictions are not ill placed. You have my gratitude as your passion to see this through to the end has installed a great deal of faith in me.”]] The old woman let slip a small smile which seemed to echo on every inch of her wrinkled face. She sighed softly and ran frail fingers down the spine of the cat still seated on the table in front of her, letting the guests she held wait a moment before she spoke again. [b[I “Now that the most difficult part is behind us, we must go over some …details of how this entire union will be planted and able to grow. There is no doubt in my mind that the union of your two Nations needs to happen as soon as possible. However…”]]
The very thought had twisted Zack’s stomach into knots. Was the old woman thinking of just uniting them then and there? It would break all the traditions of his people. But these were strange times and circumstances. Perhaps tradition held no place in the march for peace. [b[I “…However, I do not think that it would be wise to take two complete strangers and throw them together with no strategy or thought to how the people will welcome such a thing, thus I have put together a plan. Zachary, Sophalie, You are not required to grow fond of each other so quickly. It would be absurd to request such a bizarre thing from two complete strangers who have been at war for some time. This does not mean you can simply tolerate each other’s presence. Your people believe in your leadership, that much is clear simply by those seated by your sides, but there will be some that require this to be a convincing romance and not just a simple war-torn strategy. Therefore, in private, say what you will and act how you wish with regards to distancing yourselves. But when in the public eye, you must stay true to the narrative…You must appear as though this union is not only by choice, but by infatuation as defined by your respective nation. The last thing you want to do is instill your own personal fears and misgivings into your people as that may cause someone to do something they would highly regret.”]]
Infatuation? …They had to act …like they had been smitten? The knot in his gut grew and his fists tightened again out of the sight of the others as he felt like he could go off on the seer for even suggesting such a thing. It was absurd! And impossible! To even think of taking this vampire through the courting rituals…it made him feel a bit ill. He dared not glance at the blue gaze that was boring into the side of his head like knives. He thought he heard Nadia chuckle under her breath and Brom shifted uncomfortably. This was crazy talk! He was sure his cheeks had turned a crimson color as his face felt hot and yet he was too irritated to care who saw it. Before his outrage could burst from within, the old woman cleared her throat to all present and continued.
[b[I “Do not be so quick to spurn these words. If the people doubt that this union is for some other reason than devotion there will be rumors and riots that will rip it from the earth before it has a chance to bloom. And we cannot afford that, as you venture to stay in each other’s lands, if nothing else than for your own safety.”]]
Her words were stern and demanded attention, though the last bit had his head reeling. Travel? Into the very heart of the vampires? Was she MAD? They would be ripped apart before they reached the gates and lord knows what would happen within them…torture? Like Luce had been through? So many emotions swam through his body that it made it hard to concentrate on any single one.
[b[I “Alpha Mortis, after much deliberation, I have made the decision that it will be Zachary who will be leaving this house en route to the nation of Vampires first. Where-upon he will remain for one weeks time. Given the sensitive nature of such an act, you must choose three others to accompany your son.”]]
The room went silent as the grave. Zack’s ears were back to ringing again, panic settling into his core like that of a deer under the fangs of a wolf unexpectedly. He tried to pull himself together, tried to hold his tongue and let the shock subside but it was proving difficult. His father’s silence, as he considered it, showed no signs of hesitation though. The man was as stoic as a leader should be…as Zack himself should be.
[b “Three…you say? The timing is unexpected…but my people are often prepared to move without warning. It is partially why we are even still in existence. Very well….Brom. Are you prepared to follow Zack into the Vampire’s lands?”] The grizzled old vampire gave no hesitation at the question, almost surprised that Mortis had poised it as such. It was odd, not to have him barking orders instead. [b “Yes. My Alpha.”]
[b “Good. Thank you, old friend. …Luce, you will accompany them also, as my eyes and ears.”]
Luce, ever the mute, used a hand to brush the blond bangs from his face before giving a very firm and unwavering thumbs-up gesture as it was the best he could do, given his circumstances.
[b “Lastly…I will send…”]
The man was cut off as a hand touched his arm to his right. The breathtaking Nadia leaned upward, as she always did, whispering softly into his ear as he would mutter and nod back to her under his breath. They did this for a moment, leaving everyone on edge. Zack, having recovered a little, took a glance at Veridae who seemed about ready to jump out of her seat to volunteer. She was desperate to go, and Zack could only hope she would not make a scene here should he not choose her. If she did, he would put her in her place in front of the vampires without a second thought, as the Alpha would to any opposed to him. Nadia grinned as she spoke softly, before Mortis sighed and nodded. [b “Lastly, I will be sending my Mate, Nadia, to accompany my son. She is the one most versed in diplomatic matters and her advice may prove most useful to him, in garnering this peace.”]
[b "I will serve you well, my Alpha."] Nadia nodded her head slowly, in a bow. There was a stifled growl from the silver haired beauty, but she bit back her tongue fairly well for someone about ready to destroy everything. Zack understood his father’s choices, but it made him wish even more that this wasn’t happening. It couldn’t BE happening. Him…sent to the slaughter…in a land that wasn’t even his own…accompanied by The Hellhound, The Lone Wolf, and the ghost of a fallen kingdom. Moving his gaze to the seer, he tried hard not to burst into anger, or tears, or hysterical laughter at the absurdity of it all.
For Sophalie, the tension in her was nothing compared to that she felt around the table. The cluster of colors and shades across from them in the peripheral of her vision was striking in a way unlike that of any gala's honored guests. Rather than the polished clothing her family and their attendants wore, the wolves adorned clothing with various patterns that clashed together, both in color and shape. Sure, the colors were beautiful in their own exotic right, but the fabrics held no value beyond that painted thread and the way in which they wore them was no more put together than simple robes.
More than any of them, the red hair that highlighted the woman across from her own mother was striking. Quite generally, that female held the most attention of them all from the vampires, being of a clearly different class from those around her. her immortality showed no signs of age, unlike those beside her. Perhaps she wasn't so aged? It was unlikely she wore any enhancing paints on her face to mask her age, given their culture and the pride in which the others made no move to hide their lifetimes.
Unlike the canines, Sophalie was the only one at their side that wasn't deep into their years. Both her father, Cyrus Merlot, and her mother, Josephine Merlot, had passed through more than a mere century in their time. The other four around them weren't far from the same, three remaining younger and one in particular, Sven, having lived since before their time.
By her mother's side, her father between the two fair haired women, was the crumbling man himself. Sven was not of the Merlot lineage, but of the nobility that ruled before them. It was thanks to his cunning and loyalty to her father's obvious destiny as their ruler that such a fate was able to be met. Knowing well of the failures of his own bloodline, unable to bring them to justice himself, he and Cyrus overthrew them together. It was since then that Sven has remained the only vampire outside of the Merlot line that is so close to the family as to be given the seat next to her mother. His dark hair, like the other three aside from Sophalie and her parents, was neatly kept in a twist at the back of his head, only five thin braids laying at the back of his shoulders. His face was unobstructed, any hair that could've served as bangs being tightened into the knot with the rest. Fangs, used so many times throughout the years, remained elongated against his thin lower lips. His gaze at the Hunt was calculating and considerate, unwavering. Sven's one and only concern was the continued leadership of his King and Queen, as well as the safety of them and their daughter. Should any of the furred ruffians make a move forward, the old coot wouldn't shy from the confrontation.
By his side was one of the female attendants, Fable. In the same fashion as the woman that mirrored her position, Hyde, lengthy locks were twisted in braids that curved to the base of their neck until upturning to form an intricate, rose-like pattern. The time spent on them wasn't much different from that of their nobility, aside from their outfitting. Pins kept their silky tresses in the neat form that no wind could messy, be it a gust or mellow breeze sliding in. Fable, much like Locke and Hyde, was there to serve and protect the Merlot trio. She offered no superior intellect, nor accomplishments to the table. She had only been a trustworthy aid and was therefore deemed fit to attend this meeting with Sven and her leaders. At most, she was a calm, collected personality that could be empathetic should Sophalie or her mother grow tired or wary of the situation. She had a strange warmth to her skin unlike other vampires, and that made her an ideal caretaker at most times during Sophalie's childhood. Fable had previously served Sven's family, thus he could vouch for her trustworthiness to help in raising Sophalie when her own parents weren't there to take the time with a newborn. Her dress below was simple in layers, all being hidden beneath the black coat that ran all the way up her neck, buttons of not silver, but a common, similarly colored metal trailing from the top all the way to her hips.
Hyde was almost a mirror replica, no gloves adorning their pale hands. That is where the difference could be found, as well as in their eyes and the slightly different hues that colored them. Fable had honey colored eyes where Hyde's were silver and sharp. Whilst Fable's nails were trimmed and polished, whites ending with a rounded edge, Hyde's reached at least a quarter inch, if not further past her fingertips with a sharp point. They were well taken care of, but Hyde was a woman that had no doubts as to the darkness in others. They may be creatures of the night, but there are surely those that are kind to one another and [i care.] These people Hyde finds no trust in, always aware and alert to the chances of deceit and cruelty from any race. Humans, werewolves, vampires, it didn't matter. Hatred and sin was a part of everyone and if that part made itself known, she wouldn't bat an eye at taking their judgement into her own, sharp claws. Needless to say, she spent more of her time near the current rulers than she did their child. Even Cyrus and Josephine weren't keen to leave her alone with Sophalie, given how frustrating any child could be.
Regardless, her honesty was unmistakable because of this personality of hers, making her a loyal and effective aid. Not once did she betray the family that took her in, raising her from a street rat until they met their untimely end during the raid of wolves in their hometown, nor would she betray the rulers that took her in after finding her bloodied and standing victorious above two of the furred creatures that ripped apart her home, still barely an adult of a vampire. Never would she betray the new family she came to protect and care for. Especially not Josephine, a woman with similar values and background.
And then there was Locke. Sat straight as an arrow in his seat by Sophalie, he was the newest aid by far. His age was that of Fable and Hyde, but his service to the Merlot family remains a short one still. It wasn't until Sophalie was well past being a child that he was given the poor task of being at her side. In her father's eyes, the girl no longer needed Fable's kind, motherly nurturing, nor did she need Hyde to further fuel her reckless nature; she needed someone to keep her "ideas" grounded and her curiosity out of trouble. It wasn't hard to guess his taking in was thanks to Josephine, finding his previous servitude appalling, given it was to a man that employed him only by having ruthlessly murdered his mother and sister, stealing their home as his own as well as Locke as his servant. The execution of such a vampire wasn't uncommon, a relief to Locke, but his life as someone servicing others wasn't over with that. There he sat, having been taken in by Josephine and put to usefulness by Cyrus, finding his history in the "line of work" efficient enough to make it his qualifications.
Being the errand runner and supervisor for Sophalie was not a fun task. Her father was frequently disappointed in her ability to outmaneuver the man, as well as outsmart him. The only thing that began to save his position as her aid was the slight pity she grew towards him for being given such a job. She got into less trouble with him around, though a majority of it was her making use of having two people, giving her more excuses to form to let them off scott-free when her father brought the gavel down on her unapproved activities and behavior. It was a month into his service for them that suddenly, rather than being at fault for allowing her to act outside of the lines her parents set, he was appreciated for being the buffer between her and whatever she might do without someone around she cared to not see yelled at. Such as her stunt in the woods before; Sophalie could've gone straight into the water without much consideration for her aid, taken out her notes and continued plotting a way out of this mess, but no. She tip toed around the edge of rebelliousness in a way that saved Locke from having to deal with anything more than a stern look from her father, mended quickly by a pat on the shoulders from her mother.
Locke was dressed quite like Sven, only with buttons like the other two women's rather than gold. His uncovered hands showed short, barely pointed nails, though they were maintained as well. His dark hair, having been cut do nubs in the not-long-since past, now only just reached the base of his neck. His forehead remained covered, as Fable's and Hyde's his face being the only blemished of the three. Under golden, uncharacteristically sunny eyes for a vampire, were three lines that trailed from his cheek all the way past his jaw. The hand that had made them was long since dead thanks to the Merlots, but sometimes he still wondered if they were as unsightly to them as they were to remember.
Sophalie didn't find them anything of the sort. Her own father wore his scar with pride, her mother having many herself that she saw fit to conceal, but was never ashamed of, and thus she could find no disgust in them. Locke was older than she, despite his more timid nature, so it was odd when she felt some strange sense of pity and pride in him. It was as though he were a younger brother, again, the age gap between the two making it a strange sensation.
Despite this, it didn't change one thing. Be it Fable who raised her and mothered her for many years of her earliest days until her parents came to mold her, be it Hyde who she found some admiration in for her strength and willful values, be it Sven who assisted Sophalie in her studies until she excelled in them, a stop having to be put to them before she took them further than was allowed, or even Locke, her personal aid, none of them could be remotely considered a friend. In all their kingdom, there wasn't a single person with whom Sophalie formed any attachments. Others of her age, even in nobility, stood apart from her. It wasn't her pride that pulled her away, but purely her status as the Merlot heir, as well as her slowly dwindling freedoms as she upsets her father with more of her willfulness.
The girl wasn't in need of friends, nor was she in avid search of them. On a common day, she was surrounded by those beyond her own age and either they put her on a pedestal above them, or they viewed her as a child. She was solitary, content with her own company and knowing if she were to speak, at least Locke would hear her words and it wouldn't be reaching only air.
For the moment that she felt eyes on her and took the time to be aware of the owner, her ears that, like any vampires, were everso sensitive to the heartbeats of the living, caught a racing that didn't belong to the boy. Daring to find the source, she saw a vibrant blue pair of eyes that paid more mind to the heir than they did their natural enemy across from them or the Seer that brought them there. Sophalie took no time in averting her gaze back to the witch, but that didn't keep her from noticing a similarity in all of that pack.
Especially in the younger of the party, there was a chain of support linking them together. Their ties weren't just close, they were knotted atop one another, interlocking in a way that shaped one single mass of loops and ties. Tension may have been in the air, laid across the expanse of the table, but a kinship warmed any worries from their side. She and the heir of their nation may have been in the same predicament, but the similarity in which they felt sitting at this table wasn't the same at all.
Was it a jealousy of that realization? It was something that made a slight ache appear differently from what she'd felt about coming here at all. That ache nudged her into taking a moment to assess her own side of the table.
Both her father and Sven kept their eyes on the opposite side of the table. Hyde joined them in such, her mother only taking a pause from her own stare to meet her gaze. She must've felt her watching and gave a few seconds extra between their silent connection to show reassurance before looking to the wolves once again. Past her, Fable watched her parents in the hopes of no confrontation. She knew the idea of this was supported by them, but supporting it and going through with it could be two very different things. That was more her concern than anything Sophalie would do.
Locke also focused on the furred guests until, like her mother, he felt her stare and met it. At least her aid gave a tense smile that [i just] lifted the corners of his lips. Was he more worried for his own livelihood or hers, she wasn't sure, but that was the closest thing she had to anyone wondering just how she was going to handle this.
As the Seer began to speak, Sophalie made the decision once again to sink her focus into the woman. Those weary eyes, unable to see...Even a glance from them felt a reassurance behind it foreign in nature to any of those at her sides.
The way she spoke of two ends frustrated Sophalie. There may be a black and white in the world, but the future wasn't the same. She could never believe that by not listening to the words of this woman, they would fall to ruin. She may have been right in what she assured with this unity, but that didn't necessarily mean she had the knowledge of any and all possible outcomes if it didn't occur. They had managed on their own just fine for all of these centuries. Yes, war had ravaged on between them, werewolves being the cause of many vampires being torn to shreds until there was nothing of their immortal bodies left to recover. Yes, it would be a dream for that to end, but to have them stand beside them? To accept and forgive them for all of the bloodshed and sacrifice? To say that by doing this, all would go well, but otherwise it would all go to hell was an ultimatum Sophalie wanted to dissect until it was obliterated from the minds of their nations that believed it.
As the Seer addressed their Alpha, she was reminded of the barbaric way in which they transferred leadership. Vampires had no doomsday date in which they gave up their rule traditionally. It was possible for one to choose their end as leader and would gift it to the next, either remaining to gift their knowledge and experience to the next or choosing this as their time to finally bring an end to their immortality, but typically leadership wasn't transferred until a battle occurred in which the need for the next rule was apparent. Either some war begins between their nation and another, or perhaps they choose to go into a losing battle for the sake of possible honor and pride, even just as a reminder of their existence when taking on those who hunt vampires. She [i wouldn't] be killing her parents to take over their rule.
Despite it being the inevitable in their kind, her ears perked at the rising beat of the boy's pulse that stood. As the Seer addressed his father and the Alpha called upon him, his uncertainty was already clear. It wasn't so much in the way they were already tense due to her nation's presence, but in a further internal tension. Upon standing, the beating only quickened. Sophalie knew her parents were scrutinizing the male, as was to be expected given the nervousness he showed. His words were confident, but no one was comfortable with this arrangement.
It was clear the male, Zachary, had seen more than a few days of sunlight. It was almost curious how safe they all appeared to feel in such clothing that exposed their skin, knowing they would be seated across those with the fangs to pierce it. Perhaps it was confidence or comfort. Either way, she couldn't help despising the few girlish dreams she had only being met with some for-the-greater-good bond with this wolf. Sure, he may have been handsome, but that wasn't anything special to find. The more special aspects about him was the energy that easily radiated from him, mostly due to the fact of his heritage and culture more than anything about the boy himself. She couldn't begin to imagine even being [i seated] next to him, much less seeing that tree-hugging face of a werewolf's as her partner.
Her comfort was even further lessened when a thrumming she'd noticed before returned. It wasn't hard to put together the female's upset feelings over Zachary being less about his safety and their nation and more about a personal desire not being met. Great, because that was [i exactly] what she needed to add onto this "single banner" of theirs: an unmet love between the man she's supposed to pair with and the woman close enough to him to be here today. Yes, that made it all the more reasonable, right? [i Definitely] wrong. Sophalie didn't care that there was such a thing. It was just as possible that even she had preconceived feelings for someone else, yet was thrown into this situation. That just so happened to not be the case, making this even more difficult on her to step in and not only be the person he has to bond with that is his natural enemy, but also be the thing standing between him and his preferred mate.
[i [b Lovely,]] she thought with sarcasm. Now they were ruining [i three] lives with this. [i [b Believe me, girl, please, if I could walk away from this and offer your rough-and-tough boy to you, I'd happily do so.]] She wasn't even looking at the blue eyed, wild beauty as she thought it to herself, but she meant those thoughts with all the sincerity that she alone could confirm.
It was their queue as he took his seat.
[b [i "Your bravery in this, trusting in what the future holds is exceptional. Thank you..."]] With a slight gesture, she brought the attention to their side of the table. [b [i "Also the bearer of hardships and loss, having fought with equal vigor and heart, Lord and Lady Merlot, your highnesses...To whom do you relinquish your rule when the time arises for such a recasting of rule?"]]
Neither of them stood, taking the same gesture as the Alpha had before. This was not their time to present themselves, but their children's. [b "Honorable Seer and Madame of Magics, we give our title, power, and responsibilities as the leaders of our nation to our daughter, Sophalie. She has made it her duty and passion to see to the prosperity of our nation, as well as the safety and preservation of our people. She is of suitable age and wit, more than capable of succeeding where we may have failed in the past."] The words from her mother were more than kind and flattering, but the young vampire was also aware of the hint behind them at showing class through fanciful phrases and words in contrast with those across from them. It wasn't a necessary thing, as far as she was concerned, and was likely the last bout her mother had in her to tackle with the opposing side, knowing any grudges or vengeances would never be met now. At least she was subtle.
Meanwhile, her father kept silent, only nodding in agreement. Perhaps saying the confirming words of Sophalie following into their lead was too much for him to add on top of the already stressful experience.
As she had seen Zachary do before, Sophalie gave it a beat before rising from her seat with the waving hand of the Seer, motioning for her to stand. [i [b This decision belongs to both parties, but not only as the current governing factors, but those to come as well. A weight rests on you, but it is your right to accept if that weight is one that follows the path you will see to the end. Sophalie, are you dedicated in seeing this peace through to the end no matter your personal cost?"]]
She knew what her answer needed to be. Other than a future sacrificed to be spent with her instinctual rival and the end of the solitary, content days she's spent with a distanced aid and parents of a somewhat endearing nature, what was she really sacrificing? Right?
[b "If it means the peace and prosperity promised, I will accept any fate to meet that end. No personal cost is too steep given the stakes."] A pleased expression on the Seer's face, a nod of approval from her parents, she found her seat once again. The words came out easily and without falter, but that didn't mean she wasn't screaming internally at herself with so many ideas of how she could possibly get away from this place. If that river was even potentially holy, it was sounding really tempting right about now.
Time seemed to tick on and it made a bit of unease run through the pack members seated at the table. No words were needed to communicate this as sideways glances and subtle shifting often told more than words at times. Zack took the moment to reflect on those present with him during this miserable encounter. Of those who came with them, the ones to breach the woods were the core of the Hunt. Himself, seated close to the center, next to his father. Mortis bore a striking image of himself as an older and much more worn version. Even immortals can show the stress of time. The only difference between them, other than age, would be that Zack's gaze reflected his mother's soft violet eyes. Beside his father, to the left, sat Nadia. Nadia was his father's cohort, as no Alpha should be long without a female companion. She was a fiery, red-headed Beta, that many disproved of for her age matched that of Zack himself. He was wary of her, when she first arrived with the small branch that was left of her pack after a massacre with the vampires left them without any males with which to breed. However, the way she treated their Alpha and the way he seemed more calm with her presence made Zack forget his fears and welcome the distraction as despite her place at his father's side, she never once tried to outrank him or claim motherhood over him. If anything, she was more of a friend.
To Nadia's left, sat Brom. Brom was a stoic man. A long-serving member of the Core Hunt, having served Zack's grandfather in his younger years and grown up with the current Alpha. Brom was the kind of man one would go to in order to collect wisdom or to get something done that seemed impossible. He was Beta and was quick to punish those who contradicted their Alpha in a way that would set an example. Black hair to match his pitch black fur, and a pair of piercing crimson eyes had preceded his reputation as The Hellhound in battle. Still, gray hairs had started to form in his beard before the aging stopped, giving him a weathered look even for an immortal.
Zane was next to Brom, as he always was. A devoted little Omega, few understood what Brom saw in the boy. He was, by all accounts, a runt of the litter, and though usually such a pecking order would deem him a whipping boy, the older werewolf had brought him under his wing in combat. Dull brown locks hung to his shoulders and though he was not as muscular as his comrades, his speed was almost unmatched by many above his rank. He mimicked Brom in any way possible, almost a mini-me of the stoic older man. It was endearing, in a way, to see how hard he would work to gain favor and recognition.
Zack paused his glances, turning to look to his right. Luce was a quiet sort, having come from a land much more distant than this one as a lone wolf without much of a purpose. It was odd, how he ended up with this pack, being that they had found him half-dead and broken on the forest edge. The man had been tortured, but for what purpose, no one knew and he would never say. Mostly because his tongue had been removed with a silver tool of some kind and that made for quite the silence when he was around. The young wolf paused to push blond locks from his eyes and give a knowing glace Zane's way.
Beside Luce sat Veridae. ...Ah...Veridae. She would not look in Zack's direction to save her life and he understood why. They had grown up, side by side. Fought and nearly died several times together. It was no secret to anyone that had he had his way, Zack would have chosen her as a pairbond. It was she, Zane, Luce and Jarek that often piled at night with the young Alpha-heir, as wolves, from birth, never usually slept alone. Veridae's mane was silver and ran down her back in braids that she often pinned to her head in combat. She was a force to be reckoned with and sharp, blue eyes often left men heart-stopped. A twinge of pain shot through Zack as usually she would be his confidant...but it was better this way. To cut things before pain could give way to anger. They both knew there was no stopping this.
Jarek, to her right, was the same age as the alpha-heir. He was playful and young, but knew when to cut the crap and pay attention. He had come from the same pack as Veridae, and his silver locks, cut short, were proof of that. They could have been siblings had someone not known them well. He sat, chair back, and one foot on the table, looking completely relaxed despite also being tense and observant. A quick elbow to his gut from his right made him sit upright.
Alaia was the final member of the Core Hunt. She held the age of Brom, but knew her place as Delta and kept a fine watch on the younger members to make sure they behaved. Very much a motherly-stern figure, her homecooked meals and medical skills were outmatched by none...though such abilities did not hinder her wicked fighting skills. She and Brom had made it out of scrapes that were legendary and impossible. This included the great prison break that freed a good portion of the pack from a vampiric fort on the coast many years ago. It was partially why Zack's people were so mixed in fur color and loyalties. Alaia's brunette locks would take on a twinge of red when her fur set in that few could explain, but blamed it fully on the fire in her eyes.
All Nine of them together looked like a pretty rag-tag bunch. Despite his best efforts to look decent, in their own words, when you come from a race that deals mostly in form-changes and lack of clothing, such things become...irrelevant. Thus, the fur top and neutral tan hide trousers were the most formal that the Alpha-heir owned. His comrades were no better. The same simple tunics, leathers, furs, and wool was shown in some form or capacity between all of them. They lived in the forests and looked like it in many ways. The only exception to this was Nadia, who had once been of a nobler pack, and owned several silk and satin gowns. Remnants of her people before their complete destruction drove them into the woods. Her current dress was a startling bright blue, studded with several green gems about the bodice and low-cut neckline. A gem in the rough, for sure, and befitting a woman who's place was with the Alpha.
The smell came before the sound. The sound followed. Bloodsuckers had a particular stench to them that made it unmistakable that they were around. A stink of death that followed them everywhere and made the hairs on many of the Core Hunt's necks stand on end. Each of the wolves sat straighter and a hint of a growl left Jarek's lips, silenced quickly by Alaia's second jab to his side. They had to be polite, now. Proper. But what did that mean to these creatures? Did it matter if they were or were not polite? It would seem rude no matter what they did, as Vampires always carried a pious holier-than-thou attitude with them anyway. Immortal, disgusting, and unnatural. That's what those creatures were.
If he had half a mind to do so, Zack would have joined Jarek in putting his own foot on the table, just to give them the boot of some kind as he heard the footsteps on the porch. The old witch got up from her seat to usher them inside...and what a sight they were. He'd not seen such pompous looking dress clothes in all of his entire life, that was for certain. Keeping his seat and not growling at them as they entered was difficult for more than himself. It was clear, by the feeling he got from the others, that any wrong move would lead to them all jumping at a chance to start a fight. It wouldn't be because they were jumpy more so than because starting it meant they would have a better chance at living through it.
Watching the unnatural movements of these undead beings made them all uneasy, and it was better, once they were seated. Though he took note on how many of them wouldn't dare to meet the gazes of the wolves across from them. This brought a strange level of satisfaction to him, internally. Were they scared or just that disgusted? Perhaps they would simply call this whole thing off. It was made more clear, as he studied the pale skinned being of a female who sat across from him, not daring to glance his direction, that the unease was shared by both parties.
Despite her not wanting to look at him, he instead studied her completely, and had she met his gaze, he would never have dropped his. Such a sign of submission was never allowed by Alpha-born. Not to anyone but the Alpha himself. She looked sickly pale, and a bit too pretty for his usual taste in women. Her scent of death was masked with a futile attempt at pleasant scents, and he let his eyes wander the front of her form, shamelessly. He could so very easily claw that undead heart from her chest before she could even hiss in his direction. Feeling a second set of eyes on him, he turned...meeting Veridae's gaze. The two stayed locked for several minutes and he could feel her anger and disgust match the emotions within himself before she reluctantly looked away.
The blind woman cleared her throat to garner all attention to herself, and all eyes followed to her frail looking face. A cat had leapt from one of the shelves to setlte in her lap and watch both sides of the room intently with golden eyes.
[b[I "Welcome, all. It brings me hope to have both of your nations represented and in attendance this evening. I had speculated that perhaps my words would have fallen on deaf ears, but this war has indeed gone on long enough. I understand loss, and pain, and revenge. It has driven many a nation to rise and fall over countless years and generations. If one looks at time as I do, they will see that the pattern ends in only one of two ways...complete and total annihilation or peace sought through sacrifice and hard work. The fact that both of your nobility has graced my table this evening gives me hope that both of your sides have considered my words carefully and in being here, you have both made the first step in moving towards peace."]]
There was a small shuffling from his own side of the table. Zack felt his fists curl and then breathed deeply to release them again. This war had taken many things from him, and given him purpose and reason by doing so. Trying to think of what a world would be like without it...was almost impossible. Could it really be something he could make happen? Was it even worth trying?
[b[I "I would like to assume that this means you are both ready and prepared to take on the tasks ahead of both of your Noble houses. However...Decisions made for other people cannot be held true by those that did not make them. Let us begin with this, shall we? Alpha Mortis, you have lost much in this war...To whom do you leave your rule once you are prepared to part from this world?"]]
Zack felt his skin chill. He knew that one day he would take his place at the head of the pack. That he would battle his father and release him from his immortal coil the same as he watched his father do to his grandfather and his grandfather to his great-grandfather. Gaining the authority, unchallenged, was the only way the pack stayed in unity as tradition had foretold long ago. Should an heir fail to kill their predecesor, they were exiled and sent out to die or find themselves a new place. Though it was his birth-rite, it did not make the idea any easier to bear.
[b "Lady Seer, I will leave my stead to the last of my heirs. Zachary. He is of age and willing to do what is necessary to protect our people."]
His father's voice had never been stronger and more resolute as it was when it broke the silence of the room. Some of the words were pointed and sharp. A stark reminder of his duties and what is at risk, as well as his position as the very last living child. Zack did not need to look around, feeling eyes glance his way when his father motioned to him.
The old woman chuckled and raised a hand, slowly.
[b [I "Stand, child. Such notions must come from the lips of the one to whom the decision rests. Heavy a burden as it may be, you must speak for yourself. Are you, Zachary, dedicated to seeing this peace through no matter your personal cost?"]]
If eyes were not on him before, they sure were now. A strange trembling had claimed his skin as she told him to stand and for a moment, he couldn't get his legs to work right. Slowly, he pushed back the chair beneath him and stood, trying desperately not to look as shaky and unsure as he felt. His mouth felt dry as he tried to form some kind of response, more so used to using those fangs to rip and tear than to talk in any elegant way.
[b "I will do what is necessary to protect my people..."]
He paused, his hands curling again as he dared a glance as the set of blue orbs that seemed to rip his heart from his chest.
[b "No matter...my personal cost."]
Veridae's gaze released him as she looked away. He wasn't sure why that made it worse, but it did. He was afraid. The fear probably fed those across the table some amusement and he hated that. Fear was a weakness he could not afford to have and he did everything he could not to show just how much the words had sunk in as he said them. His entire world would be turned upside down, and his day after day life would include being at the side of one of those cold, unfeeling, emotionless bastards. His own violet gaze returning to the seer as he was given a motion to sit down again, nearly missing his chair on the way down. He was just glad his voice hadn't trembled the way he felt like it should have. They had sounded strong despite his struggle to keep from darting out the front door.
Travel was a strenuous task for creatures of the night. Limited in their freedoms under the sun, the party traveled with purpose. Through the dense forest, moonlight hidden behind thick clashing of leaves, one could find an outlandishly formal cluster of pale folk, all sporting a glow the beckoned to the light beyond the shadows. The majority wore their ebony locks in intricate braids and ties, exposed necks covered with their attire. Their sharp features ranged in size and color, but all could be said to be tall, elegant, ethereal figures. Dark fabrics held their forms tightly, the two women upright with their corsets beneath dresscoats, the men buttoned to the chin with double breasted overcoats with no flourish. On them were no signs of having stepped foot into nature's core.
Neither were any signs shown on the dress of the three that led them.
Taking the front of the vampiric pack were two noble faces with unmistakable class. The man held his chin high as he directed them, hair tucked and tied until it came to rest on his shoulder only barely brushing past it. The smooth locks were unbefitting of the age that shown through his coarse, trimmed beard that lined his jaw, smile lines framing his tight lipped frown. The permanent scowl of his features was only heightened by the tension in his proudly shown forehead, a visible scar appearing from beneath his hairline, dipping just beneath the outer parts of his left brow. He demanded respect with no words, as did the woman by his side.
Unlike many others of their "heritage," the Merlot family was led by not only the man, but the woman as well. She demanded similar respect for her own accomplishments, the marks left behind of each one well-hidden beneath meticulously applied cosmetics. Unlike her accompanying ruler, the waves in her hair hung just over the stark white lashes of her eyes. There was no need to showcase her experiences to the world through the proof of wounds. Not when her presence made them clear through the weight it bore. In contrast to those behind them, the two had hair of a pale rose hue, similar to that of the girl that tailed just behind their heels.
[b "We should arrive within the hour. Before we do,"] their liege turn his scarlet eyes down to the young woman, her own catching onto them. [b "A final moment to prepare. Locke, please see to it that my daughter takes this time to [i rest]."] His final word came with a pair of narrowing eyes, warning the girl.
[b "As you wish, your highness."] As one of the suited men agreed, the female in question shut her eyes to mask their irritable roll. A step taken forward by her mother reminded her that they were well aware of those physical queues that spoke of her "poor attitude."
Raising gloved hands in defeat, she began to wander away from the eyes that studied her back. Following her was the poor man assigned to keep the girl from taking this time to do as she had this entire journey: finding loopholes.
It was a test, really, as she reached for the lip of the satchel that leaned against the hip of her intricate gown. When the man supervising her "rest" protested to her accessing the bag, she held up her hands to show her ignoring the temptation. [b [i You would think if they didn't want me to use it, they would take it away.]] Thankful as she was to keep her notes nearby, she found the inability to view them or further consider them infuriating. Removing the strap from around her shoulders, she turned and gave it a sloppy toss to her escort. [b "Here, why don't you carry it then? If it serves me no purpose, at least tote it for me."]
[b "But Lady Sophalie, I can't hold your personal belongings. Your parents will-"]
[b "I'm trying to [i relax], Locke, can't you see that? So please, be quiet."] She dodged the panic. [b "Besides,"] she mumbled. [b "It's not as though I need a guide to [i think]."]
With Locke keeping a pace of at least a few meters away from her, Sophalie was able to stroll through the thinning patch of trees until she finally came to a steep hill. It was short, only going as far as a low creek that bubbled gently over river rocks, highlighted by the moon. Before the man could close their distance quickly enough to protest, she knelt and removed her heeled boots. Abandoning them at the top of the hill, she balanced on her now hose-covered feet to make it down to the running water.
She heard the fumbling of words hurrying over behind her, only to drown them out with her thoughts.
Whether the grass was coated in dew or the excess from the stream, she couldn't be sure, but she enjoyed the bit of mush beneath her as she followed the path. The further she went, the deeper the water became. The vampire avoided actually stepping into the flow. Instead, she continued forwards until reaching a fallen tree. Perhaps it was chopped or purposely laid over the hill, but it made for an intriguing perch to enjoy.
Removing her gloves, she slid them into the pocket of her coat. Delicate palms pressed against the lifeless bark as she hoisted herself onto it. Without heels to hinder her, Sophalie found it easy to climb onto her goal. The heiress strode across with one front crossing in front of the other. Her weight barely gave trouble to the thickness of the trunk holding her upright. Only the faintest of whines could be heard from the bit of nature as she made it to the desired end.
With a crouch, she slid the skirt of her dress and coat underneath her to sit, legs dangling above the water. Her toes were no where near the surface, yet the cool breeze sent chills up the skin that was already cool to the touch. Her loose, silky strands of hair felt a breeze pass through them and onto her cheeks. It was time to "rest."
Sophalie was about to be sent to the slaughter. That is, she was the [i key] to their prophesied peace with their natural enemy: werewolves. It very well made her undead skin crawl at the thought of having to do as that old hag asked of them. Truly, Sophalie believed the woman to be some bad omen or even a curse giver that was planning their destruction. In what world did it make any sense for peace to be found through the unity of two non-coexistent entities? Vampires and werewolves did not mix, period. That was the law of the world and they followed it closely up until that damn witch appeared. There had to be a way out of this.
As she had done many times throughout their travel to arrive here, she pondered on those words the Seer spoke. Removing selfish wants and desires..under a single banner..lasting peace. Could these terms be met purely by some agreement of sacrifice and control decided by the heirs? Could they be met by their leadership over a new land that welcomed both races, maybe with an equally represented council that could run it with the heirs as the head, being the figureheads for their people? Just why did this have to end in [i that] kind of unity? Like any other girl, Sophalie had her ideals of marriage and a future, especially with nobility raising her expectations of what was possible, but to place some wild mutt in that position? It was nothing like what she'd hoped for and as honest as she may have been in wanting to do anything possible to help their kingdom and assist her parents, she couldn't grow comfortable with being offered as the linking piece with a nation she was raised to despise. Hell, she could go as far as to pondering her "untimely end" through taking herself out. Surely that wouldn't effect the unity agreement, right? Not if it was done cleanly and-
[b "Sophalie Merlot, what are you doing on a tree over running water? Return here this instant."] A commanding voice put a stop to her thoughts as they spiraled into desperate measures. At the base of the fallen tree, her parents awaited with the rest of the party in tow.
Was she acting a bit like a brat? Yes, that couldn't be denied. Being the reason they left the initial path and came this way with everyone inconvenienced was guilt inducing, but she felt she had every right to be a little stressing considering what she was putting on the line: herself. Sure, her parents fought in battles and came out victorious no matter the cost, but this wasn't some battle you go into, knowing at the end of it, that's [i the end.] This was something that once it began, it would be her entire life. For a vampire, that was a long, [i long] time.
Returning to the pack of undead, she was given a shoulder to lean on as one of the women slid her boots back onto her feet. She made it simple for them, though would've preferred doing it herself had she not been in the middle of being scrutinized. The other ravenette woman tended to removing any bits of the tree from her dress, coat, and hair. Meanwhile, her mother eyed her with disapproval.
[b "Really, do you have any idea the gravity of this situation? This could be the axis to a change many generations into the future will reap benefits from, as well as your own generation. Following as instructed will get us there, but your need to dig a way out that doesn't even exist could ruin all of it."] Her arms crossed over her chest, shoulders only relaxing as her husband came to rest his hand on them.
[b "It's just contemplation. Besides, it's not like the river is sacred or anything. Who would bless waters near the home of a seer?"] The woman that had retied her boots began to fix her gloves back onto her dry hands.
Sophalie's father was stern and responsible. Whilst her mother could possibly find some leniency towards her, he wasn't capable. In this case, it meant he was at the end of his patience with the girl. Especially when she defied her mother.
His broad form towered over her intimidatingly, making the young woman smaller than she already was by comparison. [b "Your duty to our nation is this one simple thing: a unity as the heir. Child of mine, I expect you to value the duty you have been explicitly given. Should you not, you will only prove your mother's hardships in making it possible for [i you] to be heir to anything,"] even her mother's eyes softened in some pity for her daughter at the words. It was because of her that Sophalie, as a girl, was even considered for being their sole heir, prophecy or not. Sophalie was always attached to her mother, thus the reminder that those efforts would be made pointless drove deep. [b "Absolutely meaningless."] On top of that, her father [i still] found it difficult to accept such a thing. If the girl were to ruin everything and fail in her duty, it would only fuel his return to requiring a male heir. Surely it gave him a kick to call her "duty" as the heir the one thing that she can only do as their heir because the werewolves had a son. If the Seer had spoken those words regardless, would he be so quick to assign the word "duty" to it? At least this was a [i reasonable] task for a noble daughter, right? Her mother was the only woman he didn't consider under ancient assumptions. Sophalie strove to meet those expectations, whether he wanted her to or not.
Thus, she couldn't fail.
[b "Make sure she's presentable. We will be arriving shortly."]
[b "As though a little dirt or a tangle would upset dogs.."] she muttered. Those tending to her grew visibly tense as they thanked the lands around them that she chose to speak at a volume he wouldn't hear.
It wasn't long before they approached the humble home of the Seer. No one awaited them to welcome the vampires into the home. Only a pair of reflecting green eyes hidden just beneath the few stairs watched them, suspicious of their presence.
Once they made it onto the creaking porch, a familiar, aged voice spoke like a melody through the doorway, inviting them inside. Following the gesture, they were met with what had been expected, but that Sophalie still found herself unable to keep eye contact with: a pack of werewolves. They took one end of the table, the other patient for their joining. Between the ends was the owner of the voice from before that waved them over. [i [b "Please, take your seats. Do not feel a need to hasten your stay, though we do have much to discuss."]] With those knowing words, the Seer gave her nods of approval as the Merlot family took the head of the South end, their accompaniment filling the spaces leftover.
Sophalie had no doubt that the young man across from them, seated next to a far more commanding, older man, was the heir in the same predicament as herself. She made the conscious decision to keep her eyes focused on the elderly woman, the surreal feeling of politeness towards them being overwhelming still.
The light of the large bonfire made shadows dance on the trees that surrounded a clearing in which was seated a group of what looked like 4 strong men, three females and several wolves that wondered here and there or settled down beside the human-formed figures. All had gathered closer to the flames as an older wolf broke through the circle of trees to come to a stop before the flames. The change was easy and fluid, fur receding and flesh showing through as the wolf transformed into a man. One of the females was quick to move closer to the man, bringing a stack of clothing for him to put on as the others simply waited. Nudity was not something that bothered these folks as it was a natural part of their lives, and no one batted an eye. The young female dressed the man and then sat at his side as he looked over the group, a deep sigh coming from his lips.
[b "Where is he?"]
The question seemed to make quite a few of them shuffle and look away, unable to meet the Alpha's gaze at the question. This brought on a tension between all of them that was broken as the female whispered something into the Alpha's ear. It made the older male growl in disapproval and lift his head to howl an inhuman sound into the night.
Zack heard his name echo through the forest, and scoffed a little. They were only a few miles away from the meeting place that had been deemed mutual for both nations to meet and discuss things. He was not so sure this wasn't a damn trap and had gone ahead to scout the area. It was out on the open, outside of the woods. On the open road ahead, was a cabin, outside of which patrolled a cat. This was the cabin of the seer...the old woman who had filled his father's head with nonesense about peace and unity.
His gaze took in the scene, the setting, hunched and waiting as he just knew this was a ploy set up by those damn bloodsuckers to take out what was left of his family. Curse them all to hell, in his opinion, as they all deserved to burn at the rising of the sun. Still, his father was a sucker for superstitious rhetoric and when the old woman came to their doorway, she and her lunacy was welcomed by the Alpha and the Grange of Eldars like she had brought some kind of saving prophecy to them all. With another howl making his ears bend back, he figured any chance of being sneaky was now out of the question, and slowly wandered his way back into the depths of the woods. Back to his angry Father and the small band of guards they had brought with them.
[b "Out there! On your own! Do you realize the danger we are still in, this far from the Pack? Just because we have agreed to this meeting doesn't mean anything is finalized, nor does it mean that we are safe in any way. As the last surviving son of mine, you will not disobey my orders, not while I still breathe and you are not Alpha YET."]
The words solicited a response of submissiveness, as Zack lowered his head, not one to defy his father often, and especially not blatantly in front of the others. He was not ready to take his father's place, not now.
His white fur, much like his father's, started to recede as the Alpha's had, not much earlier. Leaving him seated on his knees before his father's towering form.
[b "The area needed to be scouted, My Alpha. I do not think the bloodsuckers would just agree to this so easily. Their reputations precede them. I meant no disrespect..."]
His father's scoff made several heads lower, as those in the party hated bearing witness to the lecture that many had been the target of before.
[b "And did you find any trace, or even any hint that they are out there, waiting for us? Did you see anything that would even remotely suggest betrayal and deceit? ...I thought not. Do Not wander from the rest of the Hunt again. It is almost time to make our way to the house of the seer-witch. She has guaranteed safety within her home to both ourselves and our enemy and we will take her up on this offer while we can. I do not want to see another bloodbath in my time if I can stop it. AND..."]
He paused, stepping closer to Zack and glaring down on him with those green eyes that could pierce into the very soul of a being. There was a moment of silence as he regarded his son before turning quickly.
[b "Put some clothes on. Something nice. I want you to look at least somewhat of a decent consideration for their heir. I expect better of you, Payne. You're no longer a child. Do. Not. Contradict me before our enemies or I will end you myself."]
The words stung deep, and despite knowing his place, Zack found his fists balled and wanted so badly to snap back at the old man. Wanted to scream and shout and protest. Make a fuss and refuse this whole damn prospect. He envisioned stomping his foot and running off into the woods...but did none of it.
[b "Yes. My Alpha."]
Instead, he let the words fall so easily and stood, accepting a stack of clothing from one of the soldiers and moving to the opposite edge of the fire to get dressed. He was rebellious, but never in action. Always silently doing as he was told, following orders, swallowing back every single protest. How long could he keep up such a facade when faced with the prospect of ...pairbonding with the very creatures that he would rather rip the throats out of? Pulling the clothes over his scarred and silver-burned body, he returned to the Hunt, as that's what they called small factions of the pack, and prepared to move closer to the cabin he had seen before.
They didn't like being in the open, and that was made obvious by the way he and his people circled. The younger females were towards the front. While the stronger males took the middle and the Alpha placed Zack in front of him as they made their way out of the woods and to the cabin. the nightsky was clear, and a breeze made it almost pleasant. The cat that had been on the porch had sat, staring at them intently as they moved closer, though merely moved to the side of the door to let them onto the porch. The place reeked...herbs and smoke. Blood and bone. Feather and fur...and silver. It was a concoction that made Zack's head spin a little, leaving him in a little haze as the door opened and the smell was stronger.
[b[I "Come in...come in...have a seat at the north side of the table..all of you."]]
The old woman's voice came from somewhere within, as the party entered and followed her lead. She had placed Zack and his father in the middle of the north side of the table with their party members lining them on either side. The cabin seemed to have grown on the inside...as though outside the dimensions that had seemed to be in place from a view of the outside. A fire roared, changing colors and filling the place with the smells and a sense of calm that was in itself, unnatural. Perhaps the witch's way of making sure all who entered would stay fairly mellow and not just attack each other on sight.
The south side of the table was lined with empty chairs and there was an old rocking chair to the east, at the head of the table in which the old woman sat. It was suddenly apparent, to Zack, that many different cats were circling the place and resting on the surfaces. Watching with half-asleep eyes. There was not but silence as they waited.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.