Her encounter with Patchwork had worked out better than she had hoped for. When he had called her out on following him, Tigerlily had been sure he would remain tightlipped, leaving her with but a taste of what was happening. Before this had all begun, she had deluded herself into thinking all she needed was to see with her own eyes the reality of the truth. But now, with the vision of a winged Tyrian, soaring through the sky effortlessly as if it was their own fate in life, she only found the desire to know more to well forth. Curiosity was a dangerous thing in the desert, what with how closely most secrets were guarded. Dig too deep, and often times something would come out to bite down hard. She had learned the hard way it was best to keep to herself, only reaching out to learn more when it was absolutely necessary, rather than on a whim. And yet, it was impossible to ignore this feeling now, impossible to turn away the what ifs that churned in her mind, leaving without the strength to ignore them. Now that the first step was taken, she found herself at the edge, caneering down into the darkness without anything to slow her descent.
It wasn’t enough. She needed to follow the lead Patchwork gave her, needed to find out what this Eros had to say. There was a secretive manner to everything he had done, brushing off nature of her visit and the questions she asked. There was no reason he wouldn’t be aware of more, and yet, instead of answering her, he had passed it off to another. Maybe he was fearful of being the one to let the outside world in on the big mystery, but either way, she wanted to know. She couldn’t imagine returning to her hovel and living a life of ignorance. Not anymore. Like the stories of her childhood, she was thrust into this discovery, this legend being written all around her. Whatever small part she played, the female was now part of what would come to pass. The answer he had given her though was surprising. After all, she had been thinking of those oasis not to long ago, amored by their rarity and beauty. Of course it would be a place an outsider would venture, drawn to the potential of solitude. If there was a secret they didn’t want getting out, hiding away in these solitary places would be the first line of defence.
Bidding her goodbye to the male, gathering up her items and refilling her canteen had taken only moments, Tigerlily retracing her steps through the canyon back into open air. It was still Daybreak, little past mid-day. Travel in the scorching sun of the desert wasn’t any real hardship for her, irritated only by the grit of the sand in her fur. If capable of baring the heat however, noon was the best time to travel. Silent, the din of travellers falling to nearly nothing, merchants leaving the road to find shelter and drink, she would not be interrupted in her travels, nor would she be bothered by the winds. It was always around this time that everything seemed to fall still, quiet. If she was quick, she could perhaps make it to the oasis by the next day. It wasn’t far from where she was, if she was quick enough, she could even make it there by nightfall. It was the chance of this tyrian not holding as good intentions as the other that kept her from rushing in. As much as she wanted to know, as irritated as she was by Patchwork, it would be foolish to let the anger rule her.
So she took her time, taking the familiar trail, idle in her slow pace back through the dunes. Along the way she stopped at a small village, thriving only by the blessing of the well near three decades old. Water was the lifeblood of the desert, the vayrons gathering their settlements along rivers and hidden pools. Sometimes she wandered why the oasis in the south of Thedale had remained untouched. Most were the location for large markets and rest spots, some even claimed by wealthy families wishing to have a piece of paradise all to themselves. Perhaps it was the fact it wasn’t quite close enough to Thedale, or perhaps, there was no reason to travel in the direction they laid. All the same, it made things easy for her. She had grown up making these places a game, a kingdom to rule all her own, followed by the other children that lived in the lower districts. They could pass the entire day out there, pretending their lives were better. It was here that the desert didn’t seem as bleak, as unmerciful as it was anywhere else. She never had enough money to squander away in the luxuries of the larger bathhouses, those that held impressive pools to swim in. It was these hidden oasis that kept her sane, allowed her to enjoy the pleasures of life without hearing the opinions of others or having to endure a gathering of strangers.
She stopped for the night at a large outcrop of rocks, their girth offering sheltering against the nightly chill, keeping the meager fire she procured from being down by the sand. Taking small rations of her food, a few mouthfuls of water, Tigerlily ventured off to sleep, only to awaken to the whole world cast into a bleeding red. Sunrises were so beautiful here, and that was one blessing she wouldn’t take for granted. She allowed herself a slow morning, moving through the familiar stretches, her long, powerful body shifting with a grace born of a working beast. All her life, it was the same ritual, the same slow movements. Though the fire had fallen to nothing more than greyed embers by the time she woke, the female still took the time to disperse them, smothering the hot stones in the sand. There was very little to catch flame out here, with sand deep and smothering, but it was an activity that was mindlessly done, each and every day.
She continued on, abandoning the road that led back to Thedale not to many hours after she left. Her track back was made slowly, even while her mind supplied the fact she would reach her destination not long before midmorning. They were small, a mere mirage on the horizon when she surmounted the first dune, a smear of darkness against the golden sand. It would be a few hours yet before she reached them at her current pace, the female finding no need to push it more than she had too. She had the water to make it there, and the promise of more when she finally arrived. Perhaps she would settle beneath the trees for a time, enjoy the coolness of the shadows on her back. Or maybe… she would enjoy a dip in the water. It was very tempting, a quick and easy way to bring down her temperature, all the while offering her a clear view of the sky. It was more tempting of the two, and by the time she finally arrived, Tigerlily moved mindless towards the shallows, a slow shiver of pleasure curling up her feet once they hit the edge.
The journey of a thousand miles had begun, and with success upon the weight of her steps, Tigerlily was pleased with the turn of events. While Marrow hadn’t shared much with her, a woman of few words, temperamental as a predator was meant to be, she had given the female what she needed to continue on her path, to find the answers that only seemed to build with each passing day. There had been so little unveiled with her past meetings, more questions raised and answered, and yet, just enough to keep her wanting more, yearning to discover the mystery that had appeared without consequence, bared upon tongues of nosy merchants and frightened natives. As harmless as they had acted, Patchwork and Marrow here hardly creatures that could get away with being anonymous. They were impressive, immense in size, living myths returned to the living world anew. Perhaps to unearth hidden legends that had faded into nothing. Perhaps to retake what they had lost. Maybe to find purpose in failures or glory in a new beginning. Whatever the reason was, they had come, the two she had only just met the first of many more; she knew it. It was what pushed her on this seemingly impossible trip, keeping the heat in her flame, instead of allowing it to smoulder and die off.
Whatever reason was, she was determined now to see this through. This was what drew her back through the mountains, making the tedious journey through the snowy environment, the cool air cast down along the slopes, cutting through the heavy leather cloak thrown over her back. It seemed the chill from the mountains had little to the open terrain, unimpeded by any sort of blockade. Shivering, her toes pressed into the icy snow, following along the dreary path. It was a long way back to Udreim, slower without the company of the troop. She had grown used to the sounds and smells of the caravan, the comforting bumps as the wheels went over the deep ruts in the road. So little a time compared to her life as a whole, and yet, it was so soft where her life in Thedale was one of hardship. It was difficult to cut out a life in the desert sands, the sun and environment unrelating, threats on all sides, both beast and plant alike. Only in the oasis were any offered a sort of reprieve, the beating hearts of the dunes, precious jewels hidden and jealously guarded by families long holding them in confidence. With the caravan, while they were not a necessarily wealthy group, they had all that they needed in family, in the laughter they shared and the hardships they overcame together. It would have been nice to take up Celine’s offer, and it was not uncommon for her thoughts to drift back to those words. what would her life have been like if she had accepted? Where would she be, who would she become?
She was a desert rat though, through and through. She had no tact for the fine art of retail. More often than not, any act of trade in Thedale was made through the sheer force of stuborness, willing the other to submit to your demands, yet, knowing when it was impossible to do so. With certain luxuries being so rare, it was ridiculous not to scoop them up when presented, as the next passerby would surely come claim what was left behind. Here, what was considered precious to her at home seemed to lay in abundance. Water, and furs, exotic wood and metals. Thedale was an infamous market city, yet, it was so far off from anywhere else even the most common thing was precious, quickly picked apart. It wasn’t uncommon for the vayrons to gather as the merchants arrived, loitering about to be the first to claim their goods. It wasn’t necessarily a good barter that would win the day at home, more as it was knowing what was needed, and exploiting the weakness of the people.
The few times she had seen Celine trade amongst the travellers they had passed, it was almost as entertaining as watching sport back at home. A constant volley flying back and forth, the barter devolving into what she thought looked close to a full on brawl. Walking away, Tigerlily had thought the female had come out the loser, only to find out she had nearly tripled what she had paid for. “Always start high Tigerlily. When you drop your price, they think they have won, and don’t think about what they are actually spending.” She smirked at the memory. Such a devious old hag.
She would eventually make it to Udreim, refilling her supplies before making the short journey to the harbour. From there, standing on familiar ground, it was just a matter of finding a ship that would voyage her over to Warrenfall. It seemed she was not the only one making the trip, as the harbour master shared the sudden increase in ships had to do with the flurry of activity amongst the people. Tyrians had returned, and many wished to see them. This comforted her, seeing as Marrow had spoken true of her companion Marvellous. She resisted rolling her eyes at that name every time. It seemed quick vain. All the same, Marvellous had to be in Warrenfall, as apparently there had been others who had passed by seeking the exact thing. Other’s who had passed Marrow’s test, and sought to uncover greater truths.
The ship was small, fast and carried a few through the Rugged island waters for some extra money. A merchant ship, it carried products more then passengers, yet, she made due, adding in the upkeep of the vessel for food and lodging. She humoured the crew by sharing what she had seen of the Tryians, grinning when it seemed she was suddenly part of a living legend. She was the one with the most wanted information, barren as it was. Departing on good terms, she stepped foot for the first time into Warrenfall. It was so green, even here on the quiet shores, the foothills alive with golden meadows and airy woodlands. Finding Girvais had taken some time, the place well known to the people. She had landed further down the coast then she would have liked, but unlike Reoenden, the climate here was pleasant. Soon enough she was shedding her cloak, bundled and shoved into her bags as she passed the time, taking in the scenery. Before long, she was standing before the caverns. Within, it seemed dark as the night, without the moon or stars to guide her. Which was odd, seeing as how everyone proclaimed it would be one of the most beautiful places she ever seen.
Yet, that doubt soon gave away as soon as she stepped in. All around her, the caves were aglow, a halo of kaleidoscope colours all colliding into a dazzling display. Hues of every color, greens and blues, reds and yellows, some colours she couldn’t even describe. Taking the time to appreciate the sights, she wandered deeper, the cavern opening up, dark and yet, so very light. When she stood before the split, she squinted, eyeing the channels leading off into the darkness. It would hardly due, to lose herself here. Something told her that if she got lost, she may never find her way out. Grimacing, she looked down, eyeing her bag, only to spot a scatter of gems, chips compared to the gleaming jewels embedded in the wall. Easily noticed, reflecting the light that was cast by the rest. She could use them to guide her way.
Like a game, there was a complexity to this encounter that she needed to play carefully. All this effort was for information, for truth. If she could see him as a living breathing reality, suddenly all those rumours were true, and so many questions now laid in her mind, popping up no sooner than she had managed to figure out an answer for her own. Though, likelihood was, whatever answers she managed to figure out was wrong, leaving the only one capable of leaving her thoughts sated standing before her. Eyes narrowed at his giggles, his easy laughter in the events he found himself in, and yet, for all the easy going nature he housed, promising a potential easy acquirement of the things she sought, Tigerlily in turn also found herself scowling. She was a female of serious moments, making those who were too easy by nature seem strange and foreign to her. Incapable. There was something that felt like avoidance, and to the Thedalian, life was much to precious, much to short, to fill her days with useless jokes and laughter. Shifting on her feet, she listened to the male offer another laugh, the anger slowly brewing like an ugly flame in her breast. The nerve of this creature?
Part of her wanted to demand he take this seriously, wanted him to give her what she sought so she could be on her way. And yet, just as this thought crossed her mind, just as she was about to bare her teeth and snap, his vocals fell silent, and cold, reptilian eyes were set upon her. Suddenly, she felt uncertain, the barbed words that were about to fall from her lips falling as little more than a startled breath. Maybe his easy nature was a ruse, making him seem more like a threat suddenly. Those eyes spoke of a male who had lived through much, had seen much, and no longer was willing to compromise. He was a strong male, and this alone would make her respect him for now, until such a time he proved unworthy of it. She wandered what it was that he had faced, what his story was. What had brought him in particular back to Reos when Tyrians had been little more than a myth for so long. Had he lost someone dear to him, had he had no one to call his own to begin with had had left seeking glory, or perhaps, his own way? Stories were personal and dear, they told the world who the individual truly was. Words were nothing in place of actions, spoken of as memories or legends. Sometimes the tales were twisted, the truths little more than half reality, polished to a shine to stand out, to hold a pretty fantasy to the ugly reality of the world. Yet, the words spoken by the man, normally those were true, depending upon what their goals were. He seemed the sort who would remain truthful.
Licking her lips, she shuffled closer, taking in the warm sand beneath her toes, the sunlight shinning down, casting a halo upon the ground. There, on his perch of stone, the tyrian was an impressive specimen, far larger than she was, than any vayron she had ever met. His chest stood feet above the ground, barrel shaped in a way that spoke of his avian physiology. He was meant for the sky, and everything about him was built to be so. Long wings, seamed upon arms that seemed almost fragile, long and sinewy. Three toes paws, made more like talons than padded toes her kin bore, to hook and grapple. And a long, oar like tail, corded like a whip, tipped by a spade that wove through the air in a lazy fashion. His spine was longer, his hind legs, shorter, a second set of wings attached to his heels. She wandered for a moment how agile they were on the ground. She had made the assumption previously that they were weaker on the ground, and clearly that was true, yet, how debilitating she knew not. He had yet to move from his spot since he had landed, merely shaking out his wings, only to fold them down and eventually turn his sights upon her. She hummed, walking towards him, eating up the ground with sure, powerful steps. All the while, she remained in his sights, an obvious sign that she wished not to hide anything from him.
And yet, before she could speak again he called out, his voice like thunder, strong and careful. “I’ve seen you trailing me. Any particular reason?” And with that, she froze. She had an idea that he knew she was there, at least, from when he had landed. Perhaps by sense of smell or maybe he had caught sight of her as he came down from above. But for him to say he had seen her following him, Tigerlily suddenly wandered when it was that her cover had been blown. Had he always known she was here, since before he had made his aerial pass. Maybe he had even seen her when she had first entered the canyon. What made him want to land than? Maybe he… wanted to let the world know of their existence? Was it out of kindness, or was it some sick game played by those who knew they would win? Again, the uncertainty and doubt shone through, sullying her mind against trusting those she knew not their end or game. She had felt this way since she was a girl, when as a youngling, she had been the newcomer to the Thedalian lands. An outcast, an outsider, what was there to be done in a clan that had known each other from the beginning. Tigerlily had earned her place, and yet, even now, she always stood on the fringes, living as a scavenger and mercenary. She took odd jobs where she could find them, and from these days of her youth, she had learned through experience the darker side of life. Some could not be trusted, no mattered what they said or how she felt. It was a dark truth, yet, it had kept her alive where foolish naivety would have killed her.
All the same she dropped her head, offering a bow in penitence for his own intrigue. “My apologies,” she murmured, keeping her eyes off his face, locked down on those wicked curved talons. She wanted him to trust her, and if that was to happen, she would need to take the first step and trust him in turn. However hard it was, this was a game where she was clearly at a disadvantage. And besides, he didn’t need to land, he could have merely continued on his way, leaving her without answers, and a mere glimpse of a future and tale that would keep her wondering for the rest of her life. A curious game she found herself in, suddenly needing to make decisions that had a greater effect on the world around her than the choices she had made in the past. Tigerlily, the scavenger of the desert, suddenly found herself in a story that she had stumbled upon, and would hold a immense role in her future to come. “My kind have wondered if the legends were true of your peoples return, and I had to see it for myself,” she began, drawing up from her bow, taking in his dark eyes, set upon her now. “Many have been tasked to seek you out.”
“Where do you come from?” It was a question that couldn’t be ignored. It was intriguing, the idea of potentially finding out about worlds beyond Reos. She wandered what was out there, what he had seen, and why they had returned. While she was driven to discover these important questions, possibly taking part in the bigger scheme the government held, there were simpler, good natured curiosities that she could not ignore. As a child, she had spent the long nights at the pubs, listening in awe to the merchants tales as her father completed his business. When they would return home she would share what she had learned with her siblings, filling their simple, repeating lives with little timbits of adventure. At times, if she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend it had been she who had made the journey to these new worlds. And even now, as an adult, these curiosities could not be avoided. Taking in his great form, she eyed the scars that marked his form, the marks that told his story, silent and powerful. She wandered if they had anything in common, if they had similar interests. After all, a male could not so easily abandon his home for new worlds so freely. “I am Tigerlily, of Thedale. It is the capital of these lands,” she supplied deciding she would offer him some information in turn. If she wanted answers, maybe he would be willing to share if she offered the first hand.
Big Christmas raffle! - 10 prizes I decided to arrange this lottery to raise you a New Year's mood . I hope that someone will become a winner and get a little happy.
Good luck everyone and Merry Christmas!
COMMENT HERE TO PARTICIPATE:
So! I have 10 prizes, for one person will be given one prize with the random.org
★ 1. "Your turn to die" adoptable ref:
★2. 7 Anthro bases. I will send the PSD files to seven people in PM.
★3. 2 Art icons from me