Departing for Home

The Beach near Sted Cair

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This stretch of beach is quiet, largely abandoned except for the occasional shorebird. Perfectly clear blue water surges up in rhythmic waves to meet the smooth shore, fine golden sand studded with seashells. The water is gentle and fairly shallow for some distance out, though a darkening in the color suggests an abrupt drop-off of the ground below the surface. The beach is sheltered by a series of towering sea-stacks to the southeast and by the the peninsula to the north, on which the castle of Cair Paravel sits with all its windows glittering in the sun. The beach gets progressively rockier to the south, where smooth sand gives way gradually to tide pools and boulders.

A sandy little-trodden path leads southwest up the slope to the main road, and the beach is clear all the way to the castle to the north.

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You can go: Cair Paravel <N>, Footpath <SW>

Caileana is perched atop a large and mostly flat rock near the water’s edge to the southern end of the beach, laying down with her head on her paws.

Aliyah strolls along the beach from the north. It looks as if she is about to turn down the path that heads towards the river, but she stops when she notices the other wolf. Tilting her head, she approaches, barking a short greeting as she does so.

Caileana lifts her head, ears perking. “Oh, hello,” she calls, baring her fangs in a grin.

Aliyah sits nearby, curling her tail around her paws. “So, is this a vacation for you, or have the other wolves commissioned you into joining Winterden patrols?” She smirks.

Caileana snorts. “Mostly vacation, it feels like – any patrolling I’ve done has been more out of habit. You all seem to have things well in paw.”

Aliyah nods. “Helps that some of the others have returned. it gives us all a few more breaks than we had before. I just wish you and I could get something accomplished here.”

Caileana hehs. “It seems a bit beyond us, getting anything moving, but I agree. It’s frustrating not seeing any progress to report home.”

Aliyah absently makes a small pile of sand as they speak. “That it does.”

Caileana sits up, looking out over the waves a bit wistfully before she looks back to Aliyah. “I’m thinking of heading home for a few weeks or a couple of months, to check in with things in the Waste. I’m not doing much good here.”

Aliyah nods. “That is understandable. I miss the den and the pack. A trip back to the Woods would be nice as well. Of course, part of me thinks as soon as I leave, something will happen, and I’ll be summoned back.”

Caileana wrinkles up her muzzle. “Right?”

Aliyah snorts. “They know we’re here. Royalty and all their finery.” She grins.

Caileana tilts her head. “That’s the problem, though, isn’t it? That nobody around right now actually /is/ royalty.”

Aliyah shrugs. “Unless you count their previous stations.”

Caileana gives her a questioning look.

Aliyah tilts her head, a bit confused.

You ask, “Who was previously royalty?”

Aliyah says, “Well, you have the Duke. And Avery… Lady Avery I mean. Somehow she’s related to the Archenland royals. I was of the impression her family was over Chesterton.”

Caileana wrinkles up her muzzle. “I don’t pretend to understand exactly how human ranks work, but I thought royalty was a step above dukes or lords and ladies. Like, they’re on par with guardians, and royalty is more on par with alphas, or some such.”

Aliyah makes a face. “No idea. All I know is these people still have underlings and servants. The commoners there are… rather different from even the lords and ladies.”

Aliyah exclaims, “And they have guards!”

You say, “Yeah. Human culture is so needlessly complicated sometimes.”

Aliyah snickers. “When I was there, some days I felt like all they must ever do is have feasts and banquets. No work. I think that was a one-time thing due to the war, but who really knows.”

Caileana wrinkles her muzzle. “It’d have to be, don’t you think? That’s hardly a sustainable way of living.”

Aliyah waves a paw in a mock dismissive manner. “Oh but the commoners! That’s what they are for.”

You ask, “But, why?”

Aliyah laughs. “I don’t know. Maybe they can afford to live life like that and just… have fun.” She cringes at the thought. “Seems awfully boring to have few duties though.”

You say, “You would think.”

Aliyah looks around, trying to maintain a serious expression. “What I think is we should try this for a day. Granted, we’d need to find wolves willing to take part which could be difficult, but maybe another creature would work just as well. An otter perhaps?” Her eyes crinkle at the thought.

Caileana wrinkles up her muzzle.

Aliyah shakes her head. “That just would not do. They don’t hunt… Just fish.” She laughs.

You say, “To be honest, I expect the humans would say we are the ones with the simpler lives. Hunting, patrolling, sparring. We have few enough needs, with our fur and our claws and our fangs.””

Aliyah shrugs, unsure. “Hard to say. I suppose what may seem easier would be what you are born into instead of what others do.”

You say, “I’ve watched Adara and her family, and the things they need to do to survive. Keeping clothes on their backs and a goat for sustenance, making sure to keep the pup tended to between only the two of them. They make their living between Adara’s guard work and Auremh’s carvings. Things sure seem more complicated for them than they do being part of a pack.”

Aliyah nods. “Makes sense. Plus, I’d imagine with fewer like them to trade, things may be more difficult here than say, in Archenland.”

You say, “I would think so. It seems like it would be lonely, with only them and Kiyon in the region. But I’ve always had a pack for a family, so I wouldn’t know quite what to do with such a small family group.”

Aliyah nods and offers a small smile at the mention of Kiyon. “Did Kiyon ever have any family here?”

Caileana looks thoughtful. “Not that I ever heard about, I don’t think.”

Aliyah frowns. “That must be even harder, and I would think particularly so if he did not have the guard as his family of sorts.”

Caileana nods. “Yes, before the Guard, I can’t imagine.”

Aliyah stretches a bit. “I should be off. Another patrol is due along the borders here… Just to be safe and cautious. The break of today has been wonderful.”

Caileana nods. “Of course.” She sighs. “I think I will be off in the morning – doesn’t seem to be any reason to put off a trip home right now. Keep in touch by messenger if anything exciting happens before I get back?”

Aliyah nods. “I will do that. Have a safe trip. Oh and… Crenna went back that way for some reason.” She makes a face. “If you find out why, mind letting the rest of us know? She was very… vague before leaving.”

Aliyah says, “Hope she’s okay… A bit worried.”

Caileana frowns. “That’s odd…if I’d known she was leaving, we could have traveled together. I’ll keep an eye out for her.”

Aliyah offers a tight smile and dips her head. “Thank you.” She turns to go, eyes keen for any changes in the landscape.

Caileana calls after her, “Safe patrols.”

Aliyah exclaims, “Thank you!”

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