Politeness As A Formality: Shara
Of course we were led straight to the High Alpha. The torch lit passageway didn’t carry far, and by the time my eyes adjusted it was already being clouded again by natural sunlight at the end of the hallway, leaving me half blind and still blinking spastically as we made our grand entrance.
The hall floors was done in a dark marble so highly polished I could see my reflection, not exactly very attractive after nearly a week’s constant travel as an animal. The walls were clearly of the same stone outside, with not only lit torches every few feet, but a chandelier above with normal lighting. There were no windows. The room wasn’t that big either, only slightly larger than the motel rooms we’d been staying in, but with only one piece of furniture occupying it so it seemed grander than it actually was.
I’d heard rumors about her, but the meeting in person didn’t really live up to the expectation.
Sure she had a throne, high backed and highly polished oak wood with gold inlaid on top in the shape of the current High Alpha Shifter form, in this case either a jaguar or a leopard, I always got those two backwards. Either way it was some kind of big cat, which made the woman on the chair almost laughably non-intimidating.
She had thick auburn hair styled in loose curls, and matching eyes. The fact that she had thin aged lines across her face only lightly covered by cosmetics that highlighted the thin chin and looked to be reading a musty old book didn’t exactly impose a ‘high and mighty leader’ persona.
Upon our entrance she did look up and around, and at least gave us a crooked smile, her eyes quickly sweeping over all of us to land on Ben.
“Benjamin,” she called in a clear welcoming tone “so good to see you again. Hope you’ll stay longer than a weekend this time.”
Ben cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable with the attention, and waved vaguely towards us as he stated “err, Glenna, this is Al and Shara. I’m sure you heard of the whole Park Incident-”
“Yes, yes” she waved us off, getting easily to her feet and setting the book down in her seat as he made her way towards us. The outfit was hardly queenly material as I would have expected, simply a form fitting professional top a dark purple in color and black slacks with one-inch heels. She looked more ready to run to the office then command her people, but I decided I liked it. She seemed more open and friendly than if she’d swept in with a full blown gown. “If I hadn’t got word that you were escorting them here, I would have sent out a Recruiter myself. Can’t let the Hunters get their hands on a pair of my already wronged citizens can I?”
I swallowed hard and exchanged an uneasy look at Al, this conversation actually kept managing to spring more questions to mind, like for one Ben wasn’t a Recruiter himself? Neither of us had much of a chance to ask though as Glenna turned her attention right to Al and offered her hand. Only one ring adorned her pinky, set with a dark purple stone on properly manicured nails.
Al took it quickly, though I could tell how nervous he was as just a hint of his Mexican accent made an appearance as he spoke “Greetings, ah, my wife and I would like to come here and seek sanctuary, Mrs...”
He trailed off, giving Glenna an uneasy look, clearly fearing he’d just offended her by not knowing a last name.
“It’s Treester, but please call me Glenna” she scoffed “everyone does. There’s hardly any formalities here, Ben should have told you that.” She finished, turning back slightly to give an almost paternal glare at Ben. Who swiftly apologized and shuffled his feet back.
I found this a rather severe reaction to someone who was clearly trying to be friendly, but Glenna was already going on “Of course I grant you sanctuary here for as long as you please. I’m afraid I am rather busy at the moment, so Ben here can show you around the place and make sure you’re comfortable. If you have any further questions, you can ask Dakota as well,” she didn’t even pause as she waved over her shoulder at the Orangutan who was watching all of us carefully with his green eyes “both of them will be available to you so long as you need.”
“Thank you” I spoke up, coming forward myself and offering my hand. She took it warmly, shaking it and meeting my eyes before casually stepping away back towards her throne.
When she reached it and turned around to realize we were all still there, she gave us a surprised look and stated “you’re all dismissed.”
Ben and Dakota hopped at once, Ben ushering us back the way we’d come.
I waited until we were back in the lobby with the receptionist before asking “What was that about?”
The Orangutan swung himself over the desk and made his way into the door behind it, the girl, Ersa I think, took no notice of this. Ben was eyeing the door carefully as he answered slowly “what do you mean?”
Al and I exchanged loaded looks, neither of us buying that for a second, before Al asked his own question “So, if you’re not a Recruiter, then how did you know to get here?”
He just shrugged, and might have actually answered that one, when that door reopened and a man stepped out this time, thankfully clothed. He had bristly black hair and a thick face, green eyes covering us quickly. His skin was naturally tanned, and when he crossed his arms I couldn’t help but notice the muscles thicken all the tighter. After a long beat of silence he turned back to Ersa and said “the High Alpha said they could stay, I’ll tell you what room they pick once I come back through.”
She nodded, and turned to start shuffling some papers around as she asked “is someone already escorting you? Give me one second and I can-”
“It’s okay Ersa,” Ben interrupted “I’ve got them.”
She nodded and sat back down, but even as he turned and headed for the other hallway she called out “if you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask me.”
I made sure to thank her, and made note that Dakota had disappeared back behind the door before following Ben down the carpeted hallway. Despite how kind everyone was trying to be, I still couldn’t help but wonder what we were getting ourselves into.