• Closed • Shadows in the Mist (Lyn)

Beyond the city of Rharne lies the Stormlands, which is home to a number of farms, forests, fields, Lake Lovalus, and the River Zynyx. This subforum also includes the Stormwastes to the south.

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Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:32 pm

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15th of Ashan, Arc 718 - Dawn

It was nearly dawn, soft shadows diffused what little light there was in the sky into a deep azure haze. A thick fog lay across the Stormlands like a comfortable blanket. Just beyond the walls of Rharne stood a woman, clothed in a rich indigo cloak and leather armor, her bright amber locks spilling over her shoulders. Karliah was a Thunder Priestess of the Warrior branch, her armor and the leather gauntlets on her arms marking her as such. Perhaps most notable of the woman was not her clothing or appearance but rather the massive feline standing just behind her right shoulder. The enormous cat purred softly, her muzzle dipping low to briefly touch the top of Karliah’s head as a subtle gesture of affection.

The feline was a Zephyrus, a companion and mount that was often seen at the side of Thunder Priestesses and Lightning Knights. Weighing in at over eight hundred points, the massive female cat dwarfed her master considerably. Karliah’s companion did not bear the ostentatious feathered mane and saber-toothed grin of a male Zephyrus, but she was still an impressive creature.

“Hush Vabina, I know she’s late.” The priestess said gently as the cat let out a soft growl. A long leather saddle was lashed to Vabina’s back, allowing for two to ride if the occasion arose. A thick leather collar sat around the Zephyrus’s neck, allowing the rider to grasp the attached metal grips near the nape of the neck. These beasts were not horses; they refused to wear a bridle, so it was essential for a bond based on trust to be developed between the rider and the mount. The cats were commanded via spoken commands, so the collar and hand holds were merely there to help the rider remain balanced while traveling.

Karliah finally sighted a shadow emerging from the direction of the city. She was there to meet with another priestess and assist in the capture of a new Zephyrus cub. This had to be done at dawn when the pride would be settling down to rest and sleep at daybreak. Zephyrus are Crepuscular creatures, hunting during the twilight breaks and sometimes into the night. They tended to sleep during the early breaks of the morning, so it would be then that they would begin their hunt.

Karliah walked toward Vabina’s side and stepped into a dangling stirrup and hauled herself up into the saddle. Her indigo cloak flapped in the crisp wind of Ashan.

“Hop on, we are already running late.” The priestess said to the approaching woman, her voice flat and stoic as if to hide her earlier irritation. The Zephyrus growled faintly, her blue feline eyes almost glowing in the dim starlight.
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Lynessa
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Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:56 pm

A few trials ago, when a fellow priestess approached her about being a candidate to acquire a Zephyrus, Lyn had nearly jumped and cried out in excitement. She had been hoping and praying to get the chance to receive the prestigious mount, but had tried to keep her expectations reasonable. Getting a Zephyrus was not an honor bestowed to everyone, after all.

While a part of her wanted to announce it to the world, Lyn had kept the news mostly to herself. Mostly. She had immediately sought after her stormbringer and decided to playfully brag in front of him. It was rather satisfying considering that Leth had also wanted a Zephyrus for the longest time. The man was supposed to be a member of the cavalier, after all, before being stuck babysitting her.

Unfortunately, all that excitement hadn’t been enough to wake her up on time. Lyn was no slacker by any means, but admittedly she had stayed out longer than she should last night in celebration and once she got home, sleep didn’t come for her entire body was buzzing with anticipation.

It was the loud pounding at her door that finally roused her from sleep.

Lyn sat up abruptly, eyes seeking the window of her room to calculate what time it was. The sky was still dark, but hints of the sun rising could slowly be seen. Cursing out loud, the young woman lepat out of her bed and went to open her door.

Unsurprisingly, Leth was the one standing outside her room, clad in armor. Probably getting ready for a patrol. His blue eyes scanned her up and down, disapprovingly. “You just woke up. Great. Remind me again why is it that you’re the one getting a Zephyrus instead of me?”

“Jealous, aren’t you?” the priestess shot back as she let the knight in.

Closing the door behind him, Lyn wasted no time to start getting into her leather. While most women would balk at the idea of changing in front of a man, the pair had went through too much to try being modest and proper. Fortunately, she had donned her armor a thousand of times before, her movements quick and practiced as she slipped into the protective gear.

“You can’t even really ride a horse,” Leth pointed out helpfully as he tossed her boots at her. “How would you expect to mount a giant cat?”

“Isn’t that what you’re here for?” she replied as hastily sat on the bed began tying the laces of her boot. Leth, even the helper, knelt in front of her and assisted with the other one. “If you teach me how to ride, I promise I’ll give you a ride.”

The knight grinned as he stood. “I’m holding on to your words.” Narrowing his eyes, he stepped forward to tighten the straps on her left shoulder, straightening the crooked armor. “All jokings aside, be careful, alright? As much as I would love to return to my old job, I doubt having my charge getting ripped apart by a Zephyrus in my resume would inspire confidence in my skills.”

Smiling at his comment, Lyn inspected her get up one las time. Satisfied, she leaped to her feet and placed a small peck on the knight’s cheek. Leth had always the responsible one, while she wad the wild child. “I owe you one.” Without wasting more time, the young woman jogged out of her room. “Wish me luck!”

It took her a lot of running and hitching on some traveling carts for her to finally arrive at the Stormlands. Hopefully she wasn’t too late. Fortunately, it wasn’t at all difficult to spot a large, brightly-colored feline in the middle of the wilderness, a woman with red hair standing next to it.

“Sister Karliah,” she managed between breaths as soon as she arrived. “I am Sister Lynessa. Forgive me I–”

The senior priestess wasted no time to hear her apology. She simply pulled herself onto the Zephyrus and looked unimpressed. “Hop on, we are already running late.”

Pressing her lips together, Lyn took a moment to appreciate the sight of the magnificent creature. She had taken the time to learn all she could about Zephyrus before today, hoping it would help her get an edge on whatever was in store for her. The creature in front of her must be a female, from the lack of its colorful mane and sabertooths. It regarded her with lumniscent blue eyes, with more intelligent than most animal would have.

Awkwardly, the priestess grabbed onto Karliah’s outstretched arm and hoisted herself onto the feline. As soon as she was seated, the young woman could feel the powerful muscles roiling between her legs. Anticipation and excitement hummed once more in her veins, but Lyn knew she needed to keep her head cool. There was a real danger for her today. Zephyrus aren’t exactly known as friendly creatures.

There were at least a dozen questions running through her mind, but the younger priestess figured that delaying the whole journey even further would not help improve Karliah’s mood. Perhaps there will be time to ask later. “Ready, sister.”
Last edited by Lynessa on Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:18 pm

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The dawn was approaching and their time was short. Karliah leaned down to the long angular ear of the great cat and whispered several words to her companion. Vabina purred in return, before she launched herself forward.

Riding a Zephyrus was a much different experience to riding a horse. The bodies of these massive felines were like great bows, arching before releasing their muscles and limbs, to cross distance in great bounding leaps. It would seem jarring at first to an inexperienced rider but Karliah carried herself with ease. Her body was loose and relaxed, rather than clamping down on her mount to hang on for dear life. She held on tightly to the handles attached to the Zephyrus’s collar, but her body moved to the flow of the feline’s rapid pace. Lynessa would likely not fare as well. At times she might even feel as though she was about to be cast out of the constantly rocking saddle.

Tiny pinpricks of starlight passed overhead, a subtle smear of pink and violet light could be seen in the distance where sunlight was beginning to emerge at the edge of the horizon. The Stormlands passed beneath the two priestesses in a blur, mist roiling in great spiraling clouds as they raced toward their destination.

This would perhaps be the most difficult challenge Lynessa had faced since joining the priestesses, but the rewards of acquiring a Zephyrus would be great. If she managed to bond with the creature it would become her eternal companion, following her into every danger. The Zephyrus were intelligent and curious beasts that could form an almost sibling-like bond with their riders. Vabina herself lived in slept in Karliah’s own quarters, like an oversized housecat. She would accompany her rider everywhere, and protect Karliah to the death. If Lynessa managed to capture a Zephyrus cub then she will have acquired a partner for life.

At last after at least fifteen bits had passed at a brutal pace, Karliah gave her mount a gentle nudge with her thigh and Vabina slowed to a walk. Several yards in the distance a ring of massive boulders could be seen. If one listened closely enough they might detect the sound of soft breathing and the occasional sleepy growl. Seven slumbering Zephyrus females lay curled in the center of the circle of stones. A single vibrant and impressive male lay draped over one of the colossal boulders, his bright violet eyes narrowed to slits as he silently watched over his pride. His lengthy feathered tail was draped over the boulder, twitching occasionally as he gazed toward the horizon. There, at the base of the stone, just beneath his dangling tail slept a large female Zephyrus along with what appeared to be four fluffy cubs sleeping around her.

“Two males and two female cubs.” Sister Karliah whispered to Lynessa over her shoulder. “You shall have your pick of them.” She added before sharply nodding her head for the other priestess to dismount.

“You will have to do this on your own, the rider must do the choosing. It is important that you pick the cub that seems best suited to you, we must ensure that you have the best chance at forming a bond.”

Karliah pointed toward the male seated above the mother and her young cubs. “You must be silent; he will not hesitate to kill you. The mother is equally dangerous.”

Once Lynessa had climbed from Vabina’s back the other priestess nudged her mount and the cat began slowly padding into the dark on silent paws.

“If there is trouble I will return. Good luck Sister.”


And just like that, Lynessa was left alone, only a few dozen steps away from a group of some of the most dangerous beasts that inhabited the Stormlands.
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Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:23 am

As if the creature itself wasn’t intimidating enough, Lynessa was half-convinced that it was trying to throw her off. While she wasn’t an experienced rider, it wasn’t difficult to tell that riding the Zephyrus was nothing quite like anything she had ever seen. The creature did not gallop as her horse, instead its entire body undulating as they moved through the forest.

Lynessa was definitely doing the opposite of what Karliah was doing. In an effort to make sure she did not get tossed onto the ground. She held onto the Zephyrus for dear life, her heart racing too fast and her mind reeling too much to really notice the direction they were heading.

Before long, they slowed to a stop.

In front of her was perhaps one of the most magnificent sights she had ever seen… also the most terrifying. There were eight Zephyruses in total – one male with its massive mane and the rest were females. This was also something she had read about the creatures, that they tend to group in prides were the male had a harem of females. Most of them were snoring in deep slumber, except for the watchful male. Lynessa followed the other priestess’s gaze, looking at the small cubs snuggled closely to their mother.

Reluctantly, the younger priestess slid down from the blue feline and looked up to Sister Karliah.

“You will have to do this on your own, the rider must do the choosing. It is important that you pick the cub that seems best suited to you, we must ensure that you have the best chance at forming a bond. You must be silent; he will not hesitate to kill you. The mother is equally dangerous.”

And just like that, her senior was gone, without so much as an instruction on how in Ilaren’s name she was supposed to snatch a cub right under its father’s nose. Being silent was certainly not much to go on. Not that it was entirely surprising. Acquiring a Zephyrus shouldn’t be easy – though she hadn’t exactly imagine that this was how it would go.

Unfortunately, the cubs rested terribly close to their father. The male’s gaze mostly focused on its far surroundings, its attention not entirely directed to the happenings underneath. That’s good, though not reassuring enough.

Taking a deep breath, the priestess readied herself. It was fortunate that she had opted to leave her cloak at home, the rustling of the fabric would have alerted the Zephyrus male. And so she went, using the boulders to hide herself from view as she circled her way to the young’uns. Her eyes moved swiftly, from one feline to the other, making sure they were all still deep in the arms of sleep as she approached.

Admittedly, her progress was painfully slow. While her trainings as priestess had familiarize her with the art of stealth, Lynessa didn’t want to take any risk. The young woman was trained to hide from fellow humans and she imagined that animals such as the Zephyrus would have much better senses. Every step of hers was light and she would take the care to make sure not to step on any leaves or branches, anything that might make too many sounds. She would pause every few steps to make sure that the male’s gaze hadn’t turned on her. It took all of her will not to jump every time a Zephyrus huffed in its sleep or shift.

Closer. Closer. Closer.
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Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:08 pm

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Four blue fuzzy cubs softly grumbled in their sleep as they slept next to their mother. It was fairly easy to tell the males from the females even at this young age. The males sported a fluffy feathery scruff of a mane and the females appeared much sleeker in contrast.

The male closest to the mother looked the strongest. His muscles were well defined and he already was showing the tips of sabretooth teeth beneath his upper lip. The cub could likely grow to be a formidable pride leader, and an excellent fighter. The nearest female cub to her mother was a lithe little creature. She was leggy with long angular ears and a lengthy feathered tail. Her teeth were much smaller and less defined but it was clear that she could grow to become one of the swiftest of her kind. The next male further from his mother was something of a runt of the litter. He was visibly smaller than his brother and his teeth had yet to really grow in to match his sibling. It was not as though this meant he would be no less fearsome once he was grown, but there was a danger that he might never compare to other Zephyrus. Finally the last female was sleeping a short distance from the others on her own in a tiny little furry ball. It was obvious that she was more independent than the rest of her siblings, forgoing their warmth to have her own space. Perhaps she was simply disliked by the others, or maybe she only wanted some solitude. Most notable of her physically was that her horn seemed the longest of her brothers and sisters.

It would be up to Lynessa to make a choice between the four, and she might not have the luxury of judging their individual merits for long. Above her the massive male Zephyrus shifted, his head turned as the wind changed and the Thunder Priestesses’ scent was wafted toward him. She had a couple trills maybe less to make a choice. A low growl escaped the male’s throat as he surveyed the direction Lynessa had approached from. At the sudden sound the cubs’ eyes cracked open faintly to see the woman before them. The strongest male had bright sapphire blue eyes, much like the Zephyrus male that was perched above them. His whiskers flared as if he was trying to deduce if Lynessa was a friend or foe. The lithe female next to him opened her turquoise eyes; they gleamed like jewels as she silently watched the thunder priestess, examining her with a predatory gaze. The little male runt gave a faint squeak, his silvery gray eyes looking at the woman with a wary sense of fear. The lone female cub was already on her feet, her horn crackled softly with anxiety, her radiant violet eyes peering into Lynessa’s own.

The choice had to be made now, because the watchful male had abruptly come to his feet, suddenly realizing that there was something in their midst. His horn hissed and sparked with electricity before he leaned back and unleashed a thundering roar. The sound would likely chill the thunder priestess to her core. There was nothing quite like the sound of an angered Zephyrus. The rest of the pride was waking, coming to their feet.

Lynessa was out of time.
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Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:03 pm

As soon as she got close enough, Lynessa found herself a bit awestruck by the four cubs. They were all stunning in their coloring, each one somehow different from the other. She took them in, one by one as she remembered Sister Karliah’s words that she should pick the one best suited for her. For a moment, the priestess felt guilt that she was going to rip away one of the younglings from its family.

But then the low growl that broke through the air made her stomach drop. She could feel the blood draining from her face. Lynessa did not need to look up to know that the massive male perched atop the boulder had realized something was amiss. It certainly wouldn’t take long before the creature noticed her and decided to pounce. Then she would definitely be dead.

Next, came the roar that shuddered through the young woman’s every fiber. Her head snapped up instinctively, taking note of how the Zephyrus had leaped into a wary stance. The rest of the females began to stir too, rousing slowly from their sleep. They still hadn’t singled her out as the cause of the disturbance.

There was no time to overthink it. She would just have to go with her instincts.

Her hands snatched up the female cub that had distanced herself from the rest of the group, the one with the most prominent horn. Lynessa couldn’t explain why she felt the pull towards that particular cub exactly. Perhaps she reminded the priestess of herself a bit, the way she seemed to favor being solitary and independent instead of curling against her mother like the rest of her siblings. There was probably no way the members of the pride didn’t spot her as she grabbed their youngling. In a split second decision, Lynessa decided to throw away her efforts in stealth and sprinted away with everything she had.

She prayed hard to Ilaren as she ran, faster than she ever did before, the adrenaline giving her a burst of speed. Praying Sister Karliah had heard the roar and realize that things had gone quite terribly wrong. There was no outrunning the pride, she knew. She would die here if her fellow priestess didn’t come soon. She would die before she could avenge her father, before she did anything of worth in her life.

No, I’m not dying just like that. If it came down to it, Lynessa swore to herself that she would fight her damnedest to keep herself alive. Leth was still waiting for her back in the city to see her newly acquired Zephyrus after all.
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Wed May 09, 2018 12:50 pm

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The Zephyrus cub hissed as Lynessa scooped it up. Her amethyst hued eyes glittered with ferocity and the Thunder Priestess would feel the kitten extend her claws, pricking the skin of her shoulder . The male Zephyrus turned, sighting the thief and loosed an earthshattering roar. The entire pride was groggily coming to their feet, but the pride leader had already leapt from his perch and was racing toward Lynessa. His massive paws thundered against the ground, throwing up a cloud of dust behind him. His horn crackled and smoked with rage. The great cat flashed his massive fangs, snarling at the priestess before releasing a crack of lightning from his horn that soared past her right side and scorched the ground just in front of her. The snap of thunder sounded around them, sending the kitten in her arms into a panic. The cub clawed at Lynessa, peppering her chest with minor scratches and smacking her on the jawline to give the woman a thin lancing cut that wept blood.

The pride were now also in pursuit, the mist cloaking the Stormlands swirling around the scene. Snarls, growls and roars filled the early breaks of dawn. Birds went silent and other creatures hid away as the pride continued their rampage. The male was in hot pursuit of the thief, his predatory gaze fixed on her back. He grew nearer and nearer, the sound of his approach booming in Lynessa’s ears like the approach of a thunderstorm.

As Lynessa prayed to Ilaren, begging to last through the morning, begging the Immortal to save her, the bright glow of dawn broke over the horizon, illuminating the dense fog and setting the Stormlands alight. There in the distance, just ahead of her, another Zephyrus sprinted toward them. The svelte creature raced toward Lynessa and the oncoming pride. It seemed that the creature was missing a rider and perhaps one of the pride members had sought to cut the woman off in her escape, but once near enough it was clear that the cloaked Karliah was crouched against the neck of her Zephyrus, Vabina. Her body was positioned low in preparation to extend her arm to Lynessa. The Thunder Priestess would have one chance at salvation as the elder woman reached toward her while Vabina was carrying her at full speed.

“Grab on!” Karliah commanded.

The male Zephyrus roared in rage, his horn crackling with raw, untempered energy in preparation for another strike. Lynessa would have two or three trills at best to reach salvation before he struck.
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Sun May 20, 2018 12:55 pm

With a massive, blue-furred feline bounding behind her, Lynessa barely felt the pain as the kitten in her arms struggle and sink her surprisingly sharp claws into her skin. The swipe to her face made her hiss, but it wasn’t at all a concerned compared that to the fact that she was currently being hunted down by a pride of furious Zephyrus.

She didn’t even dare to turn her head back. She just kept running. She felt like screaming at the top of her lungs, but that would simply waste her precious air. Her heart pumped furiously, looking to supply her muscles with blood. Her lungs screamed as it struggled to take in deeper breaths. If it wasn’t her arcs of training as a priestess, Lynessa probably would have stumbled or froze at the first Zephyrus roar.

Just when she thought things couldn’t get worst, thunder rumbled all around her, not unlike an approaching storm. The ground suddenly exploded in front of her, forcing her to switch direction on a whim. Shite, the lightning. They could shoot lightning from their horns – another reason why they were so revered and another way for the creature to kill her. If she had been standing there… There were no doubt in her mind that she might be scorched and electrocuted, probably very dead.

She couldn’t tell how long she had been running, couldn’t know mung longer she would last. While a part of her was exhausted and ready to give up, the other was scanning her surroundings frantically. She didn’t know what she was looking for exactly – perhaps a place to hide, somewhere small enough where the felines couldn’t hope to enter. Fortunately, a better option came along. Another Zephyrus running towards her from the opposite direction of where she came from, one she had ridden just now.

Without Karliah in sight, the priestess wondered if she was wrong and this was actually another member of the pride trying to kill her. But then she saw it, the older woman bowed low reaching out and offering her only salvation. Lynessa basically leaped for Karliah’s outstretched hand. At the very last moment, she felt like she might slip away, but the senior priestess gripped her in an unrelenting grip. As she was ungracefully swung to climb onto Varbina’s back, the tight rope around her chest barely eased. The pride was still hunting her, but at least there was hope that she might actually escape now.

Perhaps Ilaren did watch over her.
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Fri May 25, 2018 1:40 pm

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Lightning flashed around them, the male pursuing the young priestess releasing another massive bolt of lightning. However the radiant, lancing energy was snatched from the air and pulled directly into Vabina’s now faintly glowing horn. A full grown Zephyrus could redirect and absorb lightning; it’s how the felines managed to avoid killing each other during hunts in the wild. Karliah’s mount growled irritably at the pride, eyeing the male with derision before launching herself into a full sprint back toward the shadow of Rharne in the distance.

The violet eyed kitten snarled irritably at Lynessa, her horn glittering with tiny discharges of static electricity before she began to calm down and relax in the priestesses arms. While the women had indeed kidnapped her, she hadn’t tried to hurt the little creature, perhaps her new life would not be so terrible. The kitten retracted her claws and pawed insistently at Lynessa, her whiskers flaring while she tried to climb up her chest and sniff her chin. She was more curious than anything, her radiant eyes gleaming with interest. Eventually she began trying to bite at the priestesses hair, acting more like a child than a beast that would eventually become an eight hundred pound killing machine.

The young Zephyrus’s personality would develop and change the more time Lynessa invested in bonding with her. Right now she was curious yet somewhat withdrawn. The woman would need to work to bring the feline out of her shell.

Karliah chuckled as she glanced back to see the kitten fussing with Lynessa’s hair. They were moving fast now, and Vabina had proved that she was more than capable of outpacing the wild Zephyrus that had been pursuing them.

“She’s a lovely thing. You chose well.” The elder priestess remarked with a wry smile.

“You’ll need to care for her yourself until she is older, once they are nearly grown they can be moved into the Zephyrus stables. But until then, that little life is yours to protect and train.” Her tone turned rather serious with her last sentence, Karliah’s eyes turning toward the direction of the city, speaking into the wind so Lynessa could hear her.

“You will take her with you everywhere you are able and she will sleep in your quarters until she grows up. Remember…you took her from her home…from her family, you will need to provide all of those things for her from now on.” Karliah finally smiled, glancing back again at the younger priestess and her new wriggling companion.

“But first things first, you should give her a name. Any thoughts?”
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Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:51 pm

When another bolt of lightning headed straight at them, the young woman thought they were done for sure. She had never been happier to be wrong. The blast was swiftly absorbed into Vabina’s crackling horn, reminding her of the unique abilities Zephyruses possess.

Lynessa laughed loudly, probably sounding hysterical. She glances back to the pride of Zephyrus that was slowly growing smaller behind them. It was still a bit unbelievable that she was still breathing and mostly unsinged from all the lightning flying around. It was only when she felt the tug at her hair that she turned her attention back to the kitten on her lap. The sharp claws were no more as her paws were pressed against her chest. The small creature sniffed her, giving her what seemed almost like a disapproving look. “She is rather fetching.”

The young woman had never took care of any sort of animal before. Her father had enough trouble trying to feed her back when she still lived in the Dust Quarters and while she was training as a priestess, her mind was focused only on improving her skills. Hesitantly, Lynessa reached to pet the young Zephyrus between its ears, not even sure if felines like that sort of thing. “Naera.” The name just came into her mind and the priestess decided not to think too long about it. She looked at the kitten’s violet eyes. “You’re Naera, from now on. What do you think?”

Lifting her head up to watch the approaching the city, Lynessa pressed her lips together in thought and ran her hand through Vabina’s soft fur. “Sister Karliah, how did you… bond with your Zephyrus? To be honest, I do not know the first thing about caring for her.”
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