Act I: Red
Chapter 17: Play
A soft mist clung to the trees of the Fae Forest, Thaia noticed. It was obvious in her previous visits, but at the moment, for whatever reason, certain aspects of Tylarus started to become familiar to her, and as a result, more comforting. And in this realm of comfort she found that all her thoughts gradually shifted away from the newfound pressures of the Fae Court and instead towards those of her most recent companion, the horned-man Akulien.
It seemed to be providence, then, that she would find such a fiend, crouched among the mist.
“Funny. I was just thinking about you,” Thaia said as she approached him. “Did you see us back th…” She stopped herself as she turned behind her, intending to glance at the basin – only to find that she was deep into the forest.
“Shh," Akulien hushed softly, placing a finger to his lips. “Kneel beside me and remain quiet. You should see this.”
The tall fae turned back around and found that her attention being directed to her companion rather than the oddity she was suddenly compelled to ignore. Settling down beside him, Thaia looked to where he was pointing.
“What do you make of that?” Akulien whispered.
Some distance ahead of them stood a bipedal creature that at first Thaia was unable to identify. Its head and torso were covered in a thick coat of white fur, and its eyes, darting as if scanning around for any possible threats, bore a deep cyan that almost appeared to glow.
“Is that… a werewolf?” she asked.
“I thought so too as well, initially, but be it not night with a full moon,” he answered. “I suspect it is a creature of some other description.”
“There are kinds of werewolves that can transform at will, you know,” she said. “But I’ll humor you. What else do you think it could be?"
“Much like the half-feline rogues to the west, this one appears to be half human, half canine,” Akulien explained in a hushed voice. “If I recall correctly, they are called ‘Canites’. At least, this was my second assumption… upon further inspection, I am once again unsure.”
“Canites…?” Thaia asked. She watched as the odd thing continued to look around with a mixture of attentiveness and paranoia. “Why do you disagree with this assessment?”
“Look again. Its legs.”
It was the color that made Thaia believe the creature to be completely covered in fur, but after being invited to look downward, she realized what he was talking about. The white fur gave way to similarly tinted scales that covered everything from his hips to the raptor-esque feet he stood on.
“What in the world…?” she asked.
“Pay attention to its movements. What does it look like it’s doing?”
Thaia watched in silence. The mixed being was continuously checking in all directions, albeit without moving.
“Looking for something, perhaps? Or someone.”
“Out here?” Akulien asked. “Do you think he is a fae?”
The red-headed fairy started to shake her head, but thought a bit more on the question. While she did not recognize the type of creature, she also knew that there were types of fae she was unaware of. She then shrugged.
With no verbal response coming from her, Akulien spoke up.
“I’ve been tracking it for a while now. I saw it prowling these forests and the manner which it did so put me on edge.” He rubbed his chin. “Be it an odd creature, indeed.”
Thaia grinned slightly as she turned to look at him – or more specifically, his horns.
“Tylarus seems to be populated by oddities in general.”
Akulien continued to watch the mix for a few seconds before her remark eventually hit him. He gave her a smirk.
“I cannot fathom what you could mean, my lady.”
Thaia waved her hand. “I’ve seen a handful of humans, but I should think that I know enough to recognize a trait foreign to one,” she answered. “Those horns are not natural.”
Akulien turned back to the creature, his smile persisting. The mix took a few steps forward, still not noticing the two among the flora. Odd, he thought again.
“Be it a development that occurred earlier in my life,” he said. “We often seek happiness in places that those on the outside would deem… hm…”
He turned to see Thaia staring ahead with an unreadable expression.
“I suppose that is a good word for it.”
“Stigma plays a part in a lot of people’s judgment,” she continued. “Ironically, though, being denied usually ends up ostracizing the accused, thus pushing them further into their comfort zone. Self-perpetuating, really.”
Akulien shifted to sit, rather than kneel.
“There is some truth to this,” he said quietly.
“At the end of the day we all just want to be accepted and find safety in that comfort… and vice versa, as well.”
The horned man watched as Thaia’s expression became more longing. He reached to hold her hand.
“Well, we also like to contradict and test this safety with excitement and danger,” he chuckled. “Heh, be it a difficult road to travel with both the liberty to choose how you live and to be content with it.”
Thaia blinked and started laughing – quickly stifling it, though, as she didn’t want to inform their guest of their position.
“Sorry. It’s just I’ve literally heard someone else say something strikingly similar before.” She fell back into a warm smile before it lowly faded away, her mind wandering to that previous conversation. “Akulien… this may sound a bit, hm, well-tread, but… do you believe in fate?”
His eyebrows raised and he did not respond for a little while.
“Hm… well, to link that question to our discussion, having your life guided can be a great source of comfort if you think about it,” he answered. “Knowing that your life has a sort of meaning and that it is being led to a greater place in this world can be all you need to get through troubling times. Not unlike the position we find ourselves in now, I suppose.” He went quiet again for a few seconds. “Denying fate would mean you… all of us… are on our own. So, to answer your question, I think I would like there to be some sort of greater fate to my life, but underneath, I just don’t fully believe the plausibility of such a force.” He turned to her. “What about you?”
Thaia gave his response and question appropriate mulling before offering anything herself.
Before she could articulate her thoughts, however, their quarry suddenly jerked forward and sprinted in the direction of a mound much further in the distance. Thaia furrowed her brow, assuming its intended goal. She stood.
“He’s headed to the Fae Court,” she declared. The fae then looked down to Akulien with set features, seeing that he, too, was beginning to stand to his feet. She lifted a hand in his way.
“Hm?” Akulien questioned.
“Let me handle this. It’s my duty as Court Mage. That, and…” she paused, unwilling to go into full detail. “From now on… stay away from these forests.”
“Oh? What makes you…”
“Just… trust me, okay? At least… at least for now,” Thaia hesitated. Her head then turned to see the mix in the distance. “Akulien.”
“If there is such a thing as fate, then it is possible with our being here, in the midst of war, we may end up on opposite sides of the field. You do know this, right?” She looked back to him. “You aren’t a fae.”
Akulien stared at her for several seconds before chuckling and standing. He placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Be it the case, then, that is when I’ll turn my back on whatever fate has laid out for me,” he answered. “Just promise me a kiss goodbye before running me through.”
Thaia’s lips flinched before she smirked. “Ha ha. So dramatic,” she said. “Well, if you can likewise promise me that you’ll stay away from these trees, I’ll do the best I can. I wouldn’t want to have to give you that kiss too early.”
With this, Thaia fluttered off in pursuit of the half-breed. Akulien watched before heading in the opposite direction.
Glossary - Day 9
- The Stranger / Race: Human / Status: Active
- Sakiya / Race: Human / Status: Dormant
- Zhei / Race: Unknown / Status: Active
- Akulien / Race: Unknown / Status: Active
- Maelomi / Race: Unknown / Status: Active, Tavern Mistress
- Vairnlor / Race: Lich / Status: Active
- The Father / Race: Unknown / Status: Active
- ? / Race: ? / Status: Dreaming
THE FAE COURT
- Avelia / Race: Fae (Fairy) / Status: Active, Fae Queen
- Kael / Race: Fae (Kelpie) / Status: Active
- Dimitri / Race: Fae (Faun) / Status: Active
- Thaia / Race: Fae (Sylph) / Status: Active
- Garren Myzen / Race: Lich / Status: Active, Legion Tyrant
- Sirena / Race: Elf / Status: Active
THE FELINE ROGUES
- Zephryne / Race: Feline / Status: Active, Rogue Leader
- Licitaila / Race: Feline / Status: Active
- Tylarus: Name of land.
- The Tavern: Establishment in between the Fae Forest and Rogue Woods, south of the Graveyard and Basin.
- The Corrupted Tree: Black, deadened tree located in the Graveyard.
- The Graveyard: Plot of land between two rivers and in the center of the land.
- The Fae Forest: Eastern forests, surface world of the Fae Court.
- The Tithe: Fae Ceremony meant to bind Solitary Fae to the Queen’s rule through two sacrifices.
- The Wastelands: Northern plains, home to the Legion.
- The City: Capital of the Wastelands.
- The Rogue Woods: Western woods, home to the Feline Rogues.
- The Raven: ?