Val played by Koeyohte
Thrya played by Shadowphoenix21
The days were beginning to run together for the male. It had seemed as if only yesterday he had been keeping guard over the pregnant female of the island. He almost snorted as he brushed a low hanging branch. The fact that a pregnant female had somehow managed to seek aid and chased the proud Vultures from their captors’ lands was embarrassing. It was humiliating.
Valentin did not blame Osha, though, as much of the pack seemed to quickly have done. While it was on her, he understood his position below her was to follow. That was all. And yet… something was not right. She had been neglecting them. She had ignored his pleas to speak with his Mistress and she had not come from her den in days. Perhaps the Ancestors - if they really did exist - had punished her for her attempt to put Jova in their place?
An irritated smirk shadowed the wolf’s face as he paused, sniffing a scent marker left by a Silvyn wolf. The islanders were small, weak… and Morg’lo…. Valentin grumbled. He was a traitor. He was no longer fit to be a Vulture, though Valentin quickly found himself pondering just who might become the next best trusted. Of course, he saw himself as most fit but he knew better than to pry. Loneliness was setting in on the pack as Osha disregarded each and every member, and Valentin had found himself wandering more and more. The small but fresh wound across his muzzle from the pretty back female he had attempted to speak with stung as he licked his lips. Friendship was something the Vultures pack did not hold near and dear, so what was he looking for?
Step by step the grey she wolf strolled through the forest. Lost in thought of all the pack members that had left. Irritated, they had no sense in loyalty but with all the things the Vultures had done, could she blame them? She didn’t know, all she knew that regardless of the fights they had started, the pack was family.
Thrya stopped, as a fresh scent hit her nose, a Vulture was nearby! One of the males. Curious to see who and what they were up to the she wolf quietly stalked through the trees. She stopped and peered through the leaves.
Her heart did a little a flutter, it was the mysterious handsome one, Valentin, leader of the knights. She smiled at seeing him. But her smile quickly switched to concern, he seemed as lost in thought just as much as she was. He was also wearing a fresh new injury on his muzzle.
She slowly and calmly stepped through the foliage as to not startle the male. “Hi Valentin. You look like you could use some company. Mind if I join you?” She smiled softly at him, flicking her tail in a friendly greeting.
Valentin was startled by the feminine voice of someone from behind him and he glanced quickly around. He relaxed upon spotting Thrya. She was easily the only other pack mate he had any true respect for - besides the Priest of course, although Valentin silently wondered just how lucrative his task was. He smiled warmly at Thrya - he had appreciated her initiative since the first day she had arrived in the pack, and he had truly hoped she would stick around long enough for him to watch her grow into the young adult she now was.
“Hello, Thrya,” he replied, lowering his posture in acknowledgement of his fellow packmate. “I would love for you to,” he stated, stepping to join her side. “I was lost in thought… I fear for our Mistress.” Valentin knew he was, probably, a bit too eager to please. He knew he was good at his job but he also a subordinate and his love and respect for those above him overshone his own ambition. He glanced toward Thrya. There was an independent and free thinker. She was polite but also knew what needed to be done - and got it there.
“How are you today?” Valentin asked, ignoring the strange feeling in his stomach. Funny, Thrya had never quite impacted him for the longest time but now… there was something mature about her - something alluring. Valentin grumbled inwardly to himself - he was not worthy.
Thrya beamed at his invite and quickly stopped herself from bounding over like a foolish deer. She calmly walked over to the male, to the space he had stepped aside for. Accidentally brushing against him. She lowered her head blushing, “whoops, sorry.” But he had felt so nice and warm.
She listened to his concern about the mistress. “Ahh yes she has seemed a bit . . . distracted of late. Hopefully she will come back to us soon.” Thrya honestly thought that now after all the Jova stuff was over and with Derek in the pit, the mistress would be back to normal but maybe she just needed time to process things. Hopefully.
“I am well thanks. And how are you?” she politely asked in return looking into his eyes. They were very intriguing, knowing and mysterious. He was the only male in the pack that seemed to truly understand the idea of loyalty. Thrya sighed inwardly to herself, pity, he was a higher up, way out of her league.
The moment of Thrya brushing against him had not had an immediate effect. At first he had grinned at her as she seemed to be embarrassed. Then he noticed her sheepish behavior and it was as though the feelings were contagious. He looked away, but his ears pointed back in her direction.
“I am well, besides,” the male replied, looking back to his companion, indicating the mess the pack had got themselves into. “I suppose we ought to be carrying… though after all that, I don’t doubt we will have a much more difficult time associating pleasantly with the rest.” Valentin nodded his muzzle toward SIlvyn’s woods. The Vultures’ reputation had never been one of soft fondness for their peers. Instead, the pack had chosen to rise above and take what was needed for their lifestyle to survive. It may not be polite, but it ensured their resolute necessities - those weaker than them were welcome to join the ranks, but at the cost of their individuality. Valentin had been born into it - the pack was his life.
“So what does the SUmmer bring to your mind, miss Thrya?” Valentin asked, interested in discovering what the little hunter may aspire toward.
He didn’t seem mad at her when she accidently bumped into him. Which she was glad for. Actually he had turned away sheepishly himself after she had. That was cute. An action that had made her heart flutter again.
The she wolf nodded, “Nice to hear you are well”. Her muscle tensed tightly. She knew what he meant. Meeting others was hard enough as it was, but now anyone from Vultures would be lucky if they were not growled at on the spot. “True Valentin. It will be much harder communicating with them.” Thrya sighed thinking about possible friends and allies lost. “It maybe be harder to talk and get information from outsiders. But at least we all still have each other.” That was a comfort she could keep. At least being his presence she felt better then she had in the last couple of weeks.
Thrya shrugged her shoulders “I have actually been practising and doing trails to better my skills and muscles. To be in the best shape as possible to try out for the Knights. But other than that I will see where summer leads me I guess.” She smiled towards the male and then looked off into the forest, smile dropping in thought. Maybe she should put effort into finding a mate this year. She was getting older. She shook her head, but that was a problem for another day.
Thrya turned back to face Valentin “And I am guessing you plan on taking on more big cats and winning for the rest of summer?” She joking teased, nodding her muzzle towards the fresh wound on his muzzle. It looked like it would sting.
Communicating - that was something he had never been good at. Now the pack was cursed too. When Thrya said that one another was something to nod to, Valentin found himself stutter.
“And the loners,” he blurted, the words jumbling together in an almost indiscernible sound. “I mean… the loners, who have no standards set in the packs.” Valentin recomposed himself, a invisible tug pulling him to look at Thrya again. He had felt something similar for pretty females he had seen along his trek with Osha to get here. Yet most of them he had left wailing in the snows, cursing him and the Vultures for raiding their food store. His loyalty was to Osha, but it was potential romance that had made him glance back the first few times with an ounce of guilt. It was both pathetic and inappropriate.
When Thrya suddenly mentioned she was interested in becoming a Knight apprentice, Valentin started.
“Really! Have you mentioned this to Osha, by chance? She never said a word of it to me.” He glanced away but just for a moment. An apprentice! And not just any apprentice - the one companion he could not have hoped more for. A warm enveloping feeling engulfed him as he laid his gaze back on her again. “I would be more than pleased to take you on as my own,” he said, the feelings that were slowly taking hold becoming more confusing. Clearly, he thought to himself, he enjoyed her company. But was there a reason besides his own loneliness? He had attempted small talk with a black female in the woods but she had sent him off with the gash across his muzzle.
He had let her, of course.
He laughed at Thrya’s jokes. “Of course,” he replied with a wink. “It seems chances are slim for us to do much else… gotta keep our standards up, eh?”
“Hmm the loners” Thrya’s mind flickered to the coyotes, Diego did say he knew Astrid. Maybe not all loners, but yes there would be others to talk to. “True the loners who have no friends in other packs would.” She hid her smile at his stuttering, it was adorable seeing the big brave knight stumble for words.
The she wolf nodded, “I have been thinking about joining for a while. No I have not mentioned it to Osha, But Amadeus did encourage me to apply.” The priest did give a very good pep talk. “Oh really? I would be honoured to learn with you!” She swished her tail in happiness and beamed up at the male. A chance to be a knight, and to learn from the best! But something else was there other than the chance to be more helpful for the pack. A different kind of happiness and warmth. Thrya tried to put a name on it but seem to only be there when she glanced at the male.
She turned away, face changing to disappointment trying to word a question, without her seeming weak. “I have a question, about being a knight that is. Can a female still join if one day she hopes to have pups?” What made her ponder this, ah yes there were females in the knights but they currently didn’t seem the maternal type. What would be the point in getting in the Knights only to be kicked out, one day, if she did find a mate?
She laughed at his reply. “That is true.” She bumped into his shoulder with her shoulder playfully.
The phrase “loners who have no friends in other packs” lit of an idea in Valentin’s mind but he tucked it away quickly for another day. It was possible that Osha was losing her edge and an outside influence would be useful.
“Amadeus, that old man, hmm? It is good to hear that the old fellow hasn’t lost his sense of conversationality just yet.” Valentin laughed a brief, hearty bark-like sound. Amadeus was a fine fellow and he was well learned in Osha’s Ancestors’ desires and ways. Valentin had, despite his loyalty to the group, never quite adopted the mindset typically required, but he had learned early on to keep that to himself. Out of sight, out of mind.
The red male’s tail swished a few times in a return signal of glee. He hesitated at her question - ahh, there must be some other male. Someone younger, more handsome and intriguing to the spry female. Of course…. Valentin may have hoped once or twice that Thrya would grow into a dedicated young adult and that there was a slim chance for him to make his impression on her, but that was clearly passed. He did frown slightly, brows knitted together in concern.
“I’m afraid that pup-hood might place your position within the pack at risk, yes. It is an old and dated but secure ruling.” Valentin shrugged. “I suppose it is up to you to decide what you most desire - life as a mother, or as a Knight?” At his question, Valentin found himself realizing that the response he had given had made the option of parenthood seem rather non- indulgent. He paused and stammered quickly in addition, “but that is to say only if you mate outside of the Vultures. If you were to, say… choose someone in our ranks, that would prove differently.”
Thrya Laughed light heartily at the males comment on the priest. “He does gives really good peps talks. If you ever need cheering up or inspiration.” Just best to stay away from the topic of his suitors, she finished in her head.
Thrya snorted. “A mate outside the pack? She shook her head. “Not my style Valentin. Loyalty to the pack first, unless of course we were all related. But that is not the case.” She went quiet and gazed off into the trees, tapping her claws as she contemplated his words. Motherhood or a Knight. An interesting but easily solved dilemma.
After a while she shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t have a mate, so I guess a knight it is then.” She glanced back at him, sighing “Truth be told Valentin, you are the only male that seems to understand the true meaning of loyalty in this pack.” An annoyed creased crossed her face when she thought of the sleeping habits of a couple of the other males in the pack. Then looking back at the red male, a pang sadness hit her, he was way out her league. “Whoever you choose as a mate one day will be very lucky.” She half heartedly smiled at him then looked back at the ground. Being a knight without ever having pups wouldn’t so bad. Right?
Valentin grinned. Maybe he should asked Amadeus if eyeing Thrya at this stage in his Vulture career was any less wise a choice than he already assumed. He nodded when Thrya said something along the lines of what he had hoped for.
“Settling for a Knight,” Valentin teased, running with the half-developed joke that had formed in his mind. A moment later, he regretted saying it. She wouldn’t take it the same way, surly - and even if she did, would she find it a tasteless joke? He gulped, and glanced away, ears taking in the tapping of Thrya’s long claws.
“I think finding a suitable mate within the ranks is admirable. It’s what I have hoped for, for a long time.” Valentin sighed gently, looking just past Thrya, eyes unfocused. But a heartbeat later, his eyes zipped quickly back to Thrya’s own. He prided himself on his sense of dedication to the pack and how he served them all. Thrya included.
“Thank you,” he replied, suddenly finding his voice to be soft and meek mannered. Flustered he shook his hdea. “Sorry, sorry, I uh… not used to um… compliments.” He averted his gaze again. His parents had been generous enough but no on ein the pack ever doled out kindness more than Thrya just had to him. Her final sentiment stirred an odd emotion that was both sadness and hope simultaneously.
‘Settling for a Knight,’ – he had said, his voice said joke. But she caught an underlying tone hinting at something else. She tilted her head in question. But then she straightened back up and lightly headed butt him in the shoulder, playfully, smiling. She was probably just imagining the underline tone or overthinking it.
She heard him say ‘what he had hope for a long time’. “How come you haven’t got a mate already? Surely all the females would be after you?” She teased. Some new emotion hit her. Jealousy? The other females, surely would have his eye.
“You’re welcome” She smiled towards him. She watched him fluster. “Aww not even if something goes to plan really well?” Actually the more Thrya thought about it, true, no one in the pack really gave out compliments, but no one worked for them either. We all just work for each other, for the pack.
Thrya bumped his shoulder and Valentin grinned slightly at her, lips turning up at the ends. He scowled jokingly at her next question.
“When you see the ladies lining up to see me, please - do alert me. I would love to meet just one of them.” He shook his head at her sentiment, suddenly embarrassed. If only he could just bat his eyes in her direction, maybe, just maybe… she might begin to feel something. Maybe he needed to feel something, too. This was new to him, and he knew that it would be to Thrya as well and as the guilt, irritation and desire began to set in, Valentin nodded for her to follow him.
“Come, I could use some company on my way to checking on the area - there’s a loner wreaking havoc. Could use a trusted pair of eyes on my back.”
She chuckled at his statement, emotion stirred and she blurted out “Well . . . there is this one, but she isn’t a higher up or even a knight. . yet. Just a hunter.” She smile flirtatiously at him. Then looked away both blushing and scowling at herself. She was being way to forward and so stupid! Her stomach felt as if she just eaten a bunch of live butterflies. How foolish he must think she is.
At his nod to follow she happily obeyed. Enjoying the chance to be useful and to be in his company before he decides she was worth his time. “A loner wreaking havoc. They must be very bored or foolish” She mused out loud. She smiled with her head and tail up in alert, “I got your back!”
Valentin’s stomach seemed to flip in his throat, somehow. He stared. Did she just say what he thought she said?
Face becoming warm, Valentin ducked his head. He stepped forward and rested it against Thrya’s in an intimate and trusting moment. He paused, hoping she might still follow him. A breath later, he stepped back.
“Let’s go find out what she is up to now,” he said with a grin. He bowed just slightly, his tail wagging once. He turned and bound away, glancing over his shoulder. “Coming?”
Her heart pounded in her chest as Valentin leaned in close. As he turned around to leave she replied “Definitely!” She beamed and bounded after him. Tail wagging happily.