Hideaway Strath how strange to seek such strangeness
Loner

"But if I live, I win,"
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@Kynareth Deagon so they can have their private chat mainly <3 (set for about 02/20/2021 - 02/21/2021 if that works.)


It had been a while since the halfling had had an opportunity to speak with her friend which came with the territory, Aerin supposed. He had always been a busy man, even when he was Donav. It was more true that everything had changed than she could have ever known. The land, some of the faces, even their names had changed. The midwife recognized some shifting and rearranging within herself as well, despite the fact that she had been here for less than a turn of the moon. It seemed Aliroth had gotten one thing right when he carved the Grandmaster's symbol upon her nape; she belonged with the Saints. Regardless, some foolish part of her -- the piece of her that still came alive beneath his gilded gaze maybe, defying all attempts at smothering her unrequited emotions for the Deagon (and her budding affection for his autumn-eyed wife) -- clung to the hope that some piece of Awenfen and Donovan remained. For the piece of her that had known him as an ally was all that she wished to keep of her former self. 

They needed to talk, she knew, she had read as much in his aureate optics when they first reunited. With the others, she maintained some careful distance. Whrist had proven that there were those in Kyn's ranks who had minds addled by madness -- or substance abuse mayhaps -- and her seething hatred for Simmik, the attack against the garnet-eyed Specialist (in spite of the fact that she might be carrying the Grandmaster's children) had shown her that there were those in the Strath that could not be trusted. Those that would harm Kynareth too -- even indirectly through Simmik -- if it meant clawing their way to the top of their would-be harem. With Kynareth, she could afford to be open about the memories that had resurfaced prior to her departure from the Canyon. Him, she could trust with her weakness for he had already seen her in ruins. 

Thus, when things had settled a bit -- day-to-day life with the vicious clan seemed to be nearly constantly turbulent so far --  she sought out the brindled cutthroat much as she had his wife recently, seeking to check up on his wellbeing too. 
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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Lucky she is to find him so early in her search. He is sauntering along the river that runs like an artery through their snowed in paradise. There’s no other place like him and he finds himself falling in love with the vast amount of territory is keeping up with. His heart still pines for the blood red walls of the canyon; the beautiful oasis’ and waterfalls — don’t get him started on the crystal clear water. 

Along with the memory of the canyon of red, memories of the wolves that once lived there come too. One specifically: Aerin, once called Awenfen. He doesn’t ask her why she’s changed her name, for he knows she will tell him in due time when she’s ready. 

Yet it almost seems like a blessing when he catches her petite form off in the near distance and he’s trotting to catch up to her. Intentionally making his footfalls loud so he doesn’t sneak up on her. He approaches with a rather sweet and soft “Darling,” His massive form, especially compared to hers, coming to step in next to her. 

He brushes their shoulders together and dips his head to brush hers softly. “How are you, princess?” Comes his soft inquiry despite the pet name.
Loner

"But if I live, I win,"
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As fate would have it, he finds her first -- his heavy footfalls (out of character for the surprisingly agile man of ursine proportions) alerting her to his presence. Her butterfly ears perk, pale crown swiveling in the Grandmaster's direction vigilantly, gibeon gaze brightening significantly as it drinks him in. The blanchard's bottlebrush tail begins to sweep a cheerful arc through the air where it remains low by her hocks, reaching up with a tiny hop to brush her head against him as Kynareth reaches down to accommodate her much shorter height -- allowing herself to touch her rosy nose to the underside of his chin for the briefest of moments in affection. 

A wave of heat washes over her etiolated countenance, not unlike the sea lapping at the shores. It feels a bit odd to hear him address her with such a title, lowborn as she is -- even now a mere Acolyte, though this is not to say that she is rankled to be such. It is a familiar place to her, notions such as authority and power foreign to the once-slave. "I am vell," she answered truthfully. 

She was happy here. The healer had settled in well and seemed to be thriving -- even if the angry wounds littering her nape and the hitch in her steps spoke otherwise. The injuries inflicted by Whrist would heal and though the dark femme had not said as much, Aerin thought she seemed remorseful -- or maybe that was just her unshakeable optimism. 

"I 'ave begun to train vith Nyra an' Vein -- in combat an' ze 'ealing arts respectively -- an' I feel I am making zis place my 'ome," she admitted, smiling at him warmly. "I vould like to think zat I can call both of them a friend." Heat colored her cheeks again, for she couldn't be sure that her relationship with Vein would not prove to be more than just friendliness. 

"'ow are ye?" she asked him then, reaching over to bump her pink nose against his shoulder playfully after a moment. "I 'ear ye may be a father again." There was a sort of unspoken invitation in her words -- a reluctance to pry but a simultaneous offer to share if he was looking for someone to talk to about it. "Congratulations," she murmured genuinely, her tail wagging at the thought of little bitty Donovans running around. 
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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He doesn’t miss the wagging of her tail or the brightening in her features. He can’t help but smile at them as she turns to acknowledge him. He even breathes out a laugh when she tries her damndest to reach his own face before he lowers it for her. 

With that, she seems eager to offer an I’m well. to which he quickly replies with a low “Good.” His smile contorts his face handsomely as he gazes upon the lovely wisp of a wolf.

Yet, as he looks at her, he notices fresh wounds. He’s about to ask until she’s speaking up about her training with Nyra and Vein. To which he cocks a brow, impressed, his smile never ceases. He does find it heartening to hear that both her and Vein are fitting in and finding solace within the mountainous walls of the Strath. 

He isn’t prepared when she turns the question back on him with a poke of her cute little nose. He’s content to allow his ears bask in the warm glow of her accent. He could really listen to her talk forever and would never get tired of hearing it. Yet, not only does she shock him out of his mental worship of her voice, she congratulated him on his pups. The first one to do so actually. 

So he releases a chortle and nods lazily. “I’m doing fine as well. Thank you for the congratulations. You’re the first to say such a thing.” The Grandmaster’s voice is soft, passionate. He wants her to know that it means something to him — that she still means something to him.

Then silence, a bated breath. “I missed you.” He admits. “Am I allowed to ask where you went?” His tone is careful. He wants her to know that she has an option to tell him. If she doesn’t want to he would of course respect that.
Loner

"But if I live, I win,"
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ahhhh i need to go do adult things like my taxes with the computer but...I MUST
 


Aerin manages to repress the urge to lift her brows in surprise -- not judging his pack mates, just surprised no one else had said anything. She hadn't been here very long after all. The last are softened with tenderness, enough that the denial doesn't seem so strong a shield. For just a second, her heart keens in anguish, echoing with sorrow. And then, she has extinguished it once more, reminding herself again that he is not hers to love.

She will not ruin him as she did Daegmar, nor will Simmik suffer as Sunrea did. 

Then a pregnant pause swells between them, a thousand unsaid things hanging unfinished in that small space where their pelts brush but do not quite touch. "Of course ye can," she murmurs in a gentle tone, its honeyed octaves suggesting that he has always been allowed to ask whatever he wished. There was very little she could deny him -- very little any woman could deny him, Aerin imagined. 

"I could nae remember who attacked me if'n ye recall," she began, surprisingly unnerved when it's just the two of them, though her words are vaguely hushed as if afraid others might hear beyond the tiny bubble of the forest around them -- another galaxy away from the rest of the Saints, or so it felt to the once-mother. There was nothing she could say that he had not already seen or done himself. He would not judge her. "But ze memories began to come back. Zey still do, in my dreams." 

"It vas Aliroth, as I suspected. 'e thought...zat we 'ad slept together. Zat night on ze Lake. 'e thought taking me, 'urting me vould 'urt ye," she explains, guilt coloring her octaves for how he became entangled in the mess of her former life. "I am sorry zat 'e brought ye into...into vhatever 'is fixation vith me vas." 

"I knew zen, though, zat I vould never be safe. Nowhere vould ever be far enough. I always knew one day our marriage vould end in death -- 'is or mine own. I didnae vant anyone to stop me so I left in ze night...I tracked 'im back to ze north an' found 'im struggling to survive ze vinter vith vhat remained of Dredguild's infantry." Her gaze hardened like the razored edge of a steel longsword, as if she could still see his pathetic hide -- all skin and bone, the lot of them tearing each other apart to fill their own stomachs.

"Zey vere all too eager to eat ze game I left lying around fer zem," she turned to look at him only then. And there must be something of a Saint in the broken woman yet, for a devilish smirk breaks out over her lips -- an unfamiliar expression for the typically  sweet-natured fae. "Aliroth is nae more." She had watched him suffocate on his own vomit, seen the fear in his eyes when she drew from the white wood around them like a wrathful spirit bearing much the same look on her face now.

"I am only sorry it took me so long to get back to ye," she lilt, softening as she looks away, unthinking, and then almost immediately regrets it -- hoping he would not read too deeply into her words. 
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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Kyn is glad to hear that she didn’t mind him asking of her whereabouts. Though said question quickly spirals into her story of exactly what happened. He almost stops to tell her not to apologize to him for such a thing as getting him involved in whatever mess is between her and the elusive Aliroth. Hell, he would’ve happy been involved enough to lop his head clean off his shoulders for the small woman. 

Yet, as the tale continues, Kyn is relieved to hear that he is no more. Only disappointed that he didn’t get the satisfaction of killing him for her. And kill for her he would, whether she knows it or not. That smirk on her lips says everything. It his chills running down his spine and he’s automatically 1,000 times more attracted to her than he was just a second ago. His own smirk curls lightly on his lips before her soft apology brings him out of his reverie. 

“Don’t ever apologize to me.” He whispers softly. “I understand and will never blame you. You can do no wrong to me.” He admits with a soft smile, trying to lighten up the mood again. “I am glad you’ve found closer by his death. Or at least it seems you have. If he hadn’t died, I would’ve ripped him about for you, princess. No questions asked.”

He leans further into her warmth as he says this, looking down and tapping a wet nose to the top of her head gently. Ending it with a sloppy lap of his purple tongue across her muzzle if she permits it.
Loner

"But if I live, I win,"
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A crease clings stubbornly to the small space between her opaline optics, still feeling a bit guilty in spite of his reassurance. Until he surprises her by sidling closer, her features smoothening with faint surprise as the Akita presses a kiss to her forehead, rasps his inky tongue across the bridge of her scarred snout. The hart stammers to a halt, eyes closing for a moment as she allows his ministrations of comfort -- telling herself it was nothing more than the gesture of a friend.

"I believe ye," she lilts knowingly as they reopen, lips curling in bemusement as she moves away with a slight shake of her head -- picking up their patrol once more as her heart races with something akin to devotion. It was something that might've frightened her once, in another life. But she was Aerin now. And Aerin wasn't scared, Aerin felt a small thrill skitter along her spine at Kyn's dark promise. "I appreciate zat but I think it vas something I needed to do," the healer murmured, shooting the brindled warlord a grateful smile. 

"Vhat 'appened 'ere -- to ze Saints, I mean. Vhy did ye leave ze Canyon?" the medic asked curiously after a moment. "Vas it because of ze var ye spoke of?" Had she missed it entirely? He had saved her in a moment of need and the halfling had so hoped to repay some of his kindness by being there for him in any way possible. It would be a shame if she had unwittingly abandoned him in the face of the very battle where she had promised to fight alongside him.
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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Kyn enjoys the way her expression soften as he laps at her muzzle. Rather, he likes it probably a bit too much. It causes thoughts to run rabid in his head. This crackling tension between them has his skin prickling with pleasure static. He likes her. She likes him, he knows she does. Why not act upon it? Why not sleep with one another, cuddle, hunt, talk, and just be with one another? 

He can’t stay on the subject too long. He even contemplated going in for another lick until it seems like she’s shaking herself out of the reverie and moves on. The emotions of hers well hidden from him and it makes his ears shift in a slightly timid way. A cock of his head then as shes quick to speak once more.

“I see.” He hums back to acknowledge her statement. Something that’s she needed to do. A lot of people have those things. Even himself. He wants to be the one to kill Sasha and make her suffer for what she did to his old pack. Just like Aerin’s situation, it’s something he just needs to do. 

Then she’s asking him about the canyon of red. A swelling of his heart and a smile appears on his face at the thought of the place he misses so much. He shrugs at her question. “Some of it. Not all though.” He answers softly back. “Winter there was going to be rough — too little food. We didn’t have enough members to take an attack from one of our enemies either, so we came here to plan, prepare, and stay for the winter.” He chuckles and looks around. “This place is growing on me though. I like the amount of territory we have.” He hums casually.

The he stops moving to stare down at the smaller. “May I ask you a question?” Comes his strong voice. It’s softer, but confident. Golden eyes peer down to her curiously, a soft look in his gaze.
Loner

"But if I live, I win,"
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It was much as the sainte had originally thought, when she first stopped by the Saints original claim, and she nodded -- satisfied with the answer. Grateful that she hadn't missed out on all the action just yet, knowing now it was wise to be training so vigorously. She cast an admiring glance around the forest at the brindled halfling's last words, an appreciative smile tugging at her lips. "Aye, I miss ze Canyon quite a bit but I must admit that zis is good land. Secure, lush in ze spring I should think." The botanist had a keen eye for such things, she had full faith in her prediction of how verdant the Strath would turn out to be with the warm season. 

It seemed they would not be moving very long, the Deagon stopping her as he softly asks for permission to ask her another question once again. The healer restrains an exaggerative eye-roll -- thinking it might be taken the wrong way as Kyn has always seemed a little uncertain around her -- and instead plops onto her marble hindquarters and reaches out to poke him playfully in the chest with her berry nose. "Vill ye quit asking if ye can ask me questions and just ask me vhatever's on yer mind?" She laughs openly as she says it, letting him know she's only teasing as her moonstone gaze twinkles with mirth. 
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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He listens to her speak and he hums out an agreement about the canyon and her comment about their new home. He does have to admit that he’s never grown so attached to a place in so little time than in the canyon. It’s truly a beautiful place and he loves the desert. He loves the way the rocks warped from years and years of erosion and the color the sunset gave the red sand was something other worldly. Yet, this place is indeed lush. It’s the perfect territory. Secured on all sides by monstrous mountains, soft, it comes with plenty of food too. He likes the amount of territory they have as well, all the more imposing for his enemies and rivals.

“I also miss the canyon.” He hums as he remises on the past. “I can’t help but agree on that though.” 

Then he’s halting when she plops herself down on her haunches. He smiles a bit and his teeth show in a soft laugh as she pokes and chastises him playfully. Her smile looks absolutely beautiful to him, especially in the dim light of the moon. The way her eyes twinkle up at him and that smile quirks her lips up. Three words: he likes it. It’s a good look on her and he can’t help but look at her slyly.

“Okay, okay.” He agrees with a laugh. Then he’s getting just a bit more serious and he also drops to his haunches. “I like you, Darling. I cherish your presence in this pack and wanted I just wanted to let you know.” He says it with a casual smile. “Simmik likes you too, sweetheart. We were wondering if you’d want to...” he trails off trying to think of a way to word it. “...be with us.” He says it with a sly smile, just to make sure she didn’t confuse the offer for something else.
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There were a few notions brewing in her thoughts concerning what he might have to ask her, but never would she have landed on anything close to the truth as a guess. His suggestion comes slowly, almost shyly, and she knows then that she hasn't imagined any of the connection between them. There was a special, secret corner of her heart that belonged to him and likely always would but what he proposed was impossible. Already gooseflesh broke over her skin, prickling with oversensitivity beneath her silky pelt as if her skin were suddenly too tight, and something like adrenaline was flooding her system with such ferocity that she would have swayed if not for the fact that the botanist was already seated.

She had never known a willing union or touch of love, such as the brindle spoke of. Only violence, subjugation, force. Aerin could not imagine that she was ready to jump so suddenly into the thick of things, even with the objects of her devotion, let alone with two people at once. Quite simply, the skittish healer balked. 

"Ye...flatter me," the fae lilted haltingly, rasp stilling as she swallowed around the guilt that came with refusing him and the suddenly heavy acceptance of what could never be. She let her moonlight gaze linger wistfully on the warlord's rakish features a moment longer, as if to commit this to memory -- the last time she let herself love him. Perhaps once. Perhaps in another time, in another life. But he was not meant for her. 

"But I am nae ready fer such a thing...I 'ope ye understand," the sylph demurred in soft murmurs of regret as she stood and moved to touch her pink nose to his cheek once more, allowing a breath of Donav's scent to wisp headily into her lungs before moving away towards the treeline. "If an' vhen I give my body to another, it vill only be done in an act of love," were the words she left him with as she exhaled the cologne of him. There was much to process and she felt the need to be alone -- she did not feel that he would try to stop her, for they both knew well that he did not love her with the same measure of fidelity.

this was actually kinda sad for me to write. T.T
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."
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Kynareth watches her easily. He can see her mulling the thought around in her head and he can’t quite get a good read on her. Yet, somehow he senses her hesitation. To him, hesitation isn’t always a bad thing. She could just be throwing the idea around in her mind and gathering her thoughts. Either way, he will accept whatever answer she gives him, for isn’t that what caring for someone is about?

When her small, accented voice meets his ears it is most definitely hesitant. Perhaps a bit surprised too. Her words make him smile though. He doesn’t want her to feel pressured in any type of way. So he just gazed down to her softly and awaits whatever else she might have to say.

But I am nae ready fer such a thing...I 'ope ye understand, She says then with the softest of touches of that cute, pink nose to his cheek. He noses her back for a second and he nods. There’s no harsh disappointment in his eyes, only understanding. 

What she says next has his chest tightening up with emotion. He’s never known such a thing. He’s thought of sex as romantic, a tool, and to satisfy the body and mind. He’s never held it as reverently as she seems to and Kyn respects her for that. He can’t even be mad at her and he doesn’t see himself in any future situation where he will ever be mad at her.

So finally Kynareth hums softly to her, nodding softly once more. “I understand, darling.” He says softly back. “You will always have a place by my side and in my pack for as long and they both are standing.” He chuckles, lightening up the mood a bit.
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The waif allowed a grateful smile to curve her rose-blushed lips as her gaze found him over the pale peak of a shoulder. She paused in her departure, dipping her head slowly in understanding. "An' ye vill alvays 'ave me zere as an ally an' follower. As a friend," she replied in a gentle, somber vow. She had never seen the monster in him; he had saved her from the real monsters -- her monster -- once. For that, the brindled warlord would always have her devotion. She'd heard the rumors, of course. But those days seemed to be behind her brutish fiend of a friend. Sure, Kyn was scandalous and roguish in his own regard but he had always been good to the halfling. 

Perhaps this was for the best, she considered as she left the Grandmaster behind -- wandering slowly towards the borders for a patrol, longing for the silence and solitude. She did not know what was to become of her relationship with Vein just yet, but she was not so sure the shaman would accept the concept of sharing the sighthound with their Lord. It was clear that Simmik was the one who truly held Donovan's heart and some romantic part of her hated to intervene on such love.. And she was likely to get her heart broken. Maybe in the long run it would have only proved to taint her devotion to them with jealousy -- something the druids would have shamed her for. 

Ifs and maybes and perhaps. Mayhaps as a mechanism against any emotional pain their conversation might've caused, her mind fell quiet like birds silencing before a storm. Her heart grew still in her chest, almost numb, as she resolutely trekked to the borderlands to sweep the territory for threats. She would survive, as always -- as promised.
"You see, I got a bullet for a tooth and
I'm gonna use it to shoot you."