Follow the Snow Stealers
The air was cool and crisp, much colder than he remembered it to be, where fireballs rained past his fur and grazed his armor, making him sweat from only just the heat of battle. Snow fell yesterday, making the dark floating castle sort of a winter wonderland, but not so much. Guards with brooms and shovels were seen moving out the snow to the outer walls, tossing it over the side so it would pile in mounds below.
Jeran noted with a grin that no matter how much they shoveled, the children would always find some to play with. It was a humorous sight to see the young ones sneaking about the guards, sometimes distracting them and taking the snow to other parts of the city. He found it very honorable for the children to risk getting punishment for a bit to play with. They would make proud adults one day.
Shaking his head from such thoughts, he remembered the matter he was suppose to be there for in the first place. To see Lord Darigan on important matters from the King. With that in mind, the knight hurried his step towards the castle doors.
However, he paused for a second, spotting a little Kau running behind a small group of kids and tripping over herself on her dress. Before she could shed a tear for her fallen prize of snow, a tall figure appeared from behind and gently lifted her up from the ground. The Kau was first alarmed by this until she looked over her shoulder and broke into a smile. Her eyes brightened up as well when she saw the figure holding twice as much snow as she had in hand. The hooded figure gave a wordless nod and led her forward after the other children.
This... intrigued the knight. He was only seeing the children running about trying to get snow.
They did say curiosity killed the Acara, but his mind was too focused on the two walking into darker alleys to care much. And after all, he was a knight of Meridell. Who better to sneak about in a once enemy city than him?
Jeran kept close to the shadows as he followed the two. They took their time for some reason, instead of rushing at all haste like the other young ones. Whatever the matter may be, he was thankful, because the routes they took were curving, twisting, and mysterious. It could have passed for a maze for all he knew. It was a wonder any of the guards found any snow in these confusing alleyways.
It felt like an eternity before they reached a clearing. Jeran stayed behind a wall of an old home and waited for them to enter. The sound of countless children laughing and yelling filled the air. Again, his curiosity got the better of him and he chanced to take a peek into the open area. The scene playing out before him made him smile.
Mounds of snow were piled everywhere, with children of all ages playing. Some were making snow angels while others played snowball fights. Others were making snowmen and more were frolicking about like it was a field of grass.
The tall figure took the little Kau, placing her on the very top of the mound. She giggled excitedly and immediately started her task in making a snow ball. The figure stepped aside to the sidelines to watch the children play, just as Jeran was. He took in account of the slender built this mysterious aura held and wondered for the first time who this person was.
Jeran’s heart jumped to his throat as the figure looked his way, and he quickly ducked away from sight! He felt himself flush, like he’d been caught peeping in a private moment. Perhaps it was time to come clean. With a sigh, Jeran looked back to see into the opening, only to see the figure gone, leaving nothing but the happy children.
The blue furred Lupe looked about with his yellow eyes, but found no trace of the mysterious figure.
“Looking for something, sir knight?” a voice from behind whispered in his ear. In a moment of pure battle instinct, Jeran whirled around, sword drawn out and held to the intruder’s throat! The figure he had been looking for stood behind him, still leaning forward from when he whispered, completely at ease.
After a minute Jeran shocked himself and quickly withdrew the blade. “I’m sorry,” he said, sheathing his sword. The figure said nothing and stood to his full height once more. Up close, Jeran could see a more womanly feature to this stranger and now felt ashamed for drawing a blade on a female. “I’m terribly sorry,” he said, more sincerely, and bowed to her. The woman stared at the Lupe for a second before return the gesture with her own graceful curtsey. “I was just...” he tried to explain before she cut him off.
“You wanted to play?” she offered.
Jeran blinked in surprise. “Huh? No. No! You are mistaken! I-I was just, um... a little curious. I suppose,” he said rather lamely.
“Of the children? Or the snow?” she said, tilting her head. Her hood proved more than enough camouflage for her face, as Jeran couldn’t see hair nor eye within the shadow of her hood.
“Oh, well. Both, I suppose. I was just wondering where all the children were going with all the snow,” he said, glancing back to the opening. The children took no heed of the adults just outside their sanctuary of a snow playground.
“I took them here, and suggested we took some of the snow before it was taken over the side of the castle,” she said simply. Her tone seemed dull, making Jeran wonder if she was painted gray under those clothes. As he took account of her clothing, he spotted the blue Zafara tail peeking from the bottom of her dress.
“Well, that was very kind of you, Miss...” he let the sentence dry out, looking at her for a name. The woman stood still, staring at him unmoving. He was beginning to grow uneasy with this one sided staring contest and cleared his throat. “By chance, would you mind telling me what pushed you to do such an act?” he asked.
The woman glanced over his shoulder, studying the scene of the joyful giggles and lovable laughs imitating from the snow covered kids. She then let her shoulders sagged and folded her arms over her chest. “I thought they could do with a bit of fun,” she said simply.
“Oh?” Jeran said, looking at the children playing as well.
“Yes. They were very sad to hear the snow was going to be thrown over the side. And do not mistaken me, I think the rule of Lord Darigan is grand. It cleans the streets and it gets out of the way for delivering carts.”
“Very true,” Jeran agreed.
“But the children hadn’t had a chance to play in it yet. Not when they had school to attend all morning.” She sighed sadly. “It felt like a waste.”
Jeran looked to the woman curiously, as she stared on out to the clearing. “Perhaps... you felt a need to do something in return for these kids?” he ventured.
The woman snapped her head to him, clearly surprised. “What do you mean?” There was urgency in her voice now.
“I’m just wondering if you hadn’t done something to this city to feel a great need to help these poor kids,” he said. By how the woman stiffened, he guessed his assumption was right. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have cared.”
“What a vicious thing to say,” she growled, turning around, shoulders tense. “To hear such things from a knight no less... I would have expected better from you, sir.”
“Don’t think of me ill, Madame!” he said, placing a paw on her shoulder. She kept her face forward but he knew she was listening. “I truly think repenting for old sins is very honorable indeed.”
For a moment neither of them stirred. Jeran stood but a hair’s breadth from her, feeling every muscle in her body grow from rigid, to somewhat relaxed. She released a breath and nodded. “I do believe you're right, sir knight. Thank you.” Jeran smiled and patted her shoulder.
It was then something struck the knight from behind! He turned around to see the children giggling and whispering. Turns out they had long found out the two hideaways in the alley. One little Acara grinned and threw another snowball at the knight. With ease he caught the snowball before it could hit his face and grinned at the stunned expression on the boy.
“Looks like I was caught after all. Isn’t that right, Miss-” He stopped, seeing the woman no longer there. He blinked, finding it uncanny for her to disappear and reappear; amazing. His thoughts were interrupted when another snowball flew at the back of his head, earning more excited giggles from the group of children. With a mischievous grin, the knight took hold of the snowball in hand and charged into the clearing, chasing the little ones in a game of a snow ball fight!
And as the good knight played, the female Zafara stood overhead, her hood down to let loose her dark blue bangs. She grinned at the sight below as the knight slipped and made the children laugh and do the same, creating snow angels on the floor.
“Such a strange knight,” she said to herself, bringing a hand to her shoulder where he placed his paw. She chuckled and turned to leave, noting how the clouds looked ready to let loose another round for snow fall. “I shall go let the Lord know the Meridell knight will be a little late.”