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Valen she/they
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#1




It is midnight when the narcissist emerges from the shadows, all long fur and crooked smiles. Beauty, but skin deep. She had been waiting for someone to succumb to a moment of weakness brought on by one too many drinks and far too many broken hearts. This routine was all too familiar to her. “Come with me!” she would say, eyes glistening with—sincerity? No. Good intention? Perhaps. Love? Absolutely not. Love is something Lucretia has grown immune to. She has replaced love with infatuation. Infatuation for the first beautiful man or woman to catch her attention at the end of each lonely night, infatuation for the last shell to stumble home full of shame and memories each morning, infatuation for the temporary. Very few knew of her game, and those who did knew to stay away. But she was oblivious to this and her dysfunctional mind and grew increasingly sorrowful with each passing day that she did not feel desired. Nothing was enough. But she believed in the magic of early mornings, the sound of waves against the shore, and second chances. Lucretia, who had just returned home with a dead fawn she had found by a creek, felt exceptionally energetic as she paused to watch the sun rise from its slumber and slowly closed her eyes to allow its warmth bathe her and every inch of her perfection. She breathed, then continued her path to her hillside den. She gently lay the carcass deep inside the cave, then ventured to the top of the hill to gaze upon the view. She was very high up above the treetops and could not see much of the life below them. But what she could see, she adored. From here, the sun finally climbed to her cloud throne in the heavens and smiled down at the dark woman with greeting and friendship. Lucretia smiled back. Hello, my darling. Good morning. You’re as beautiful as ever. Why, thank you Lucy. You as well.

Her early morning magic was cut short as she heard footsteps approaching her from behind. Her ear twitched once, but she did not move. Instead, her long tail swept elegantly behind her, a gesture of welcoming. “Bittersweet. I hate that word. Don’t you? It saddens me. I only ever want things to be sweet,” she mused to the stranger behind her, who she then turned her face to witness. “But we don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are. Wouldn’t you agree?” She grinned, the sun silhouetting her form but setting her back ablaze with a saintly golden light. Oh, how she loved to confuse everyone with her inner monologues. But maybe this one would humor her.











There was always something about the dawn that sparked magic in the air. The night was for lovers, surely, but the morning was for something even more special. If only, if only there was a word to put to that special feeling one felt at the break of dawn.  The world was still quiet, the forest turning slowly in to a valley with hills and cliffsides overlooking mountain ranges in the distance. The world was warmer here, and even in the early hours of daylight it was noticeable. Yet there was still a strange beauty in foreign lands and it always seemed to captivate the imagination of those who yearned to see more of the world.

At least, that's what the dark female thought to herself as she pushed through the last bit of forest and in to the early morning light. She paused for a moment, looking up to the sky with wonderment as she took in the deep hues the sky offered as the night grew from dark purples to bright reds and oranges. In her mouth she held a curious thing: it was a twig, or rather, it looked like a twig, its entire roots system still clinging to bits of dirt and gravel. It had been the whole reason she was out here, of course. Valen sighed contentedly as she watched the sky growing ever lighter, stretching her long thin frame out before continuing ever onward back home. It was her duty, you see, to bring home a foreign sapling as an offering to the All Mother. Only this offering could secure her rightful place within her homeland.  

If there was one thing any traveler could have given as far as advice goes, it would be to stray from strangers. One never knew what they may be up to, and usually it was never anything good. Yet as Valen continued her way north, the ebony female spied with golden eyes something sat up upon a large hill. Her ears perked forward with interest, and curiosity only found itself getting the best of her. She didn't approach slowly, but rather like an old friend behind this newcomer for whom she did not yet know.



“Bittersweet. I hate that word. Don’t you? It saddens me. I only ever want things to be sweet,” the voice said, their voice soft and terribly amused. Valen couldn't help but smile and gently lower her sapling to the ground, the curiosity overwhelming her as the lady before her spoke, "But we don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are. Wouldn’t you agree?”



The young princess couldn't help but find herself beaming as the figure turned around and face her, the sun blinding all details from the womans face. Mysterious? Definitely. There was a moment when Valen felt her heart skip a beat. The future Queen offered a soft laugh in response.



"Perhaps," she began, her eyes narrowing in amusement, "you aren't looking at it from the right angle." She offered another soft laugh, her own voice warm and welcoming. "Have you tried another view point?"










Lucretia sighed dramatically, shifting her gaze from the woman's eyes, to the little weed she carried, then back to her eyes. "No! I have not," she beamed, entertained by this newcomer, and highly appreciated that she was a pretty one at that. Anyone who chimed with her, she considered boring. She was thankful for this visit, and that she challenged her thoughts. "Why would I, after all? I like to think that I'm right about most things. It gives me a sense of... freedom, you could say. " Finally, she stood from where she lounged and stretched, letting out a moan of satisfaction as her vertebrae popped into place. She looked at the midnight girl, and seemingly stared through her moonlight eyes. "There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do." The auburn she-wolf approached her with grace, each step carefully placed, and her head tilted at her with deep interest, until she decided a few steps away was the perfect distance to sit once more and coil her tail around her paws, much like a cat would. "Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another.” She laughed out the last few words, lifting a paw daintily to her mouth as an attempt to hide her mirth. But then she froze, and for a few moments her eyes locked on to hers and the world seemed... bright, and quiet, aside from the sweet song of birds fluttering from tree to tree around them. It was just them, alone beside each other, and how wonderful it was to be in company again after so long. "Tell me, miss," she spoke, lowering her paw slowly from her now mystical expression. "What brings a fine young woman like yourself to my domain? I have not seen passersby in... quite some time. At least, none such as pleasing to the eye."







"No! I have not[…]Why would I, after all? I like to think that I'm right about most things. It gives me a sense of... freedom, you could say. There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another."

The words flowed freely out of the woman in front of her and Valen could sense there was something more behind those fiery eyes. Perhaps it was a real fire, only quelled by the satisfaction of believing one's self to be so righteous and correct, and that it still yearned for a passion of knowledge and understanding. Perhaps there was just, more to this than the façade of quick wit and sharp tongue that had Valen simply engrossed with the other. She blinked, watching as the woman stepped forward only to sit down once more, though much closer than she had been. The ebony female reclined a bit on her rump, still smiling warmly. How little this one knew, yet still desired to be something so much more. It really tickled Valen in all the right places.

"Tell me, miss, what brings a fine young woman like yourself to my domain? I have not seen passersby in... quite some time. At least, none such as pleasing to the eye."

The other spoke again and it seemed to snap Valen from her trance of falling in to those golden eyes. She smiled still, her tail gently thumping against the grass.

"I've come to show you reality and freedom," she joked, though...only partly. To be fair, it was a shame that the princess didn't have any of her herbs and plants with her; it would have made for a very quick conclusion to their conversation and would have made for one hell of an experience this early in the morning. Valen simply turned her gaze to the sapling and nodded.

"I've come for this," she mused a little more whole heartily, staring down at the tiny life that still clung to the dirt, "it is important that I bring it to my home." Valen paused, then laughed a little louder than before at herself. "Ahh but why bother you with the details? My home is better a place to be seen rather than heard of." She smirked, her gaze turning back to Lucretia once more.  



"Perhaps we should introduce ourselves before...getting carried away, no?" Valen rose to all fours, her wirey hair dangling from her thick fur, already collecting bits of grass and dirt within it. "My name is Valen."








"I've come to show you reality and freedom." Lucretia smiled wide, her pearly white teeth completely bare, before letting loose an unrestrained, blissful laugh that seemed to convulse her whole body. Although she was sure that she was beyond comprehending others' perceptions of life that were incomparable to her own, she was delighted that it was she who offered such a thing. Had it been anyone else, especially a man, she would have chuckled mockingly and sent them on their way. She didn't care much for anyone's advice or opinions regarding how she chose to live. Unless they seemed... worthy of her time, which was exceptionally rare. Perhaps she'd indulge, just a bit. What harm could it do? "My! How generous of you, dear. I do hope you'll enlighten me."

She glanced down at the plant and stretched out her neck to give it a good sniff. It was some sort of sapling, a young tree maybe? Her nose wrinkled as she pondered why she'd haul a small, weak thing such as this around. However, for her sake, she hoped it would not die on her travels. She wouldn't want to see such a beauty with a long face, now, would she? She looked back up at her, to listen to her describe her home of course, but also to stare intimately at all her wonderous details. The various bits of plants that clung to her fur, the twists and waves that took her on a wonderous trip as her eyes grazed along her fur. But she made sure to meet her gaze once again once she mentioned her name. Valen. Lucretia rose, dipping her body in a magnificent curtsy, her striped tail waving-- and yes, this was practiced. "And I am Lucretia. The pleasure is mine." Her stark eyes would glance at her once, then her body would transition from her bow to a laying position, hoping that Valen too would make herself comfortable. Seeing as she had just stood, she was slightly anxious that she would soon take her leave, and she hoped she wasn't in any hurry. In case she wasn't, she extended a paw and flicked it at the soft grass near her little sapling. "Please," she said briefly, not giving her much choice. "I'd like to hear more of this home you speak of. Sounds a lot to me that it's far more intriguing than this drab, old place. ... Is this where you've seen it? Reality and freedom, I mean. And I don't mean to stall, darling. Maybe this is a place I'd like to see, but not alone of course." She lifted a toe to poke gently and curiously at her happy companion's leaf. "And I must ask you... why this?"









"And I am Lucretia. The pleasure is mine. I'd like to hear more of this home you speak of. Sounds a lot to me that it's far more intriguing than this drab, old place. ... Is this where you've seen it? Reality and freedom, I mean. And I don't mean to stall, darling. Maybe this is a place I'd like to see, but not alone of course. And I must ask you... why this?"



Valen only smiled softly as she took a seat next to Lucretia, offering a tiny bow of her own head as she reclined to her stomach. She allowed the silence to grow between them as a gentle breeze blew past in the early morning sun. The words Lucretia spoke bounced in her head for a good few seconds before she came up with her reply.

“My home is...magical, I suppose you could say.” She laughed at her own description of this mythical place she called home, her laughter bubbling over for a second before she composed herself. “Ahh, my apologies. I realize that must sound fantastical; absurdly silly to describe a place as magical. But it is, I think, just that.” She smiled and looked to the other, her eyes piercing through Lucretia’s own gaze as Valen held it steadily. She watched with curiosity for a long moment before breaking contact and looking down to the sapling that lay between them.  

“Hiraeth is a place of pure freedom; a place where we can coexist with nature and without worry of losing ourselves.” Valen inhales softly and chuckled with her exhale. “My mother said it was a place where the gods walked once before; if you believe in that sort of thing.”

Valen shot Lucretia another look, closing her eyes and smiling once more, before returning her gaze back to the tiny tree.

“This tiny tree is a sacrifice of sorts. Not in the traditional sense of killing for an offering- saplings are brought in to our home and planted. It’s a sort of...walk of a thousand miles thing. You go out and retrieve a sapling after learning about the many vast lands around you, and you bring it back. The goal though, is to return with it lively and not on the verge of dying. It’s to show your own growth within this large universe that you can coexist and not only survive yourself but care for something that cannot care for itself.” The female looked up to the sky and sighed contentedly. “I find it poetic, really.”








Lucretia watched as Valen delightedly took rest at her feet and gazed at her eye to eye. The way her wiry hair coiled from her mane looked as if many tiny waterfalls had sprung down from her body, resembling the world and all its earth she carried on her back. An energy like that gave her the sense that wherever she went was going to feel like home. But her own words were nothing compared to the poetry describing hers. “My home is… magical, I suppose you could say.” An eyebrow raised, and after a moment she smiled and laughed with the girl, shaking her head as she excused herself subsequently. She didn’t particularly mind her portrayal honestly, though it sounded peculiar. She hadn’t come across many that recounted their home as pleasant. But magical… was different. Her smile and raised brow remained as Valen looked into her eyes once more, a subtle lightning passing between the two. She knew she felt it too, and it sparked things inside her the more she believed it. But she let the exchange of withered glances flee as her golden stare followed to her sapling and she explained its origin. Her eyes twitched at the sound of the word… gods.

“You don’t say…” she purred. And under her breath, she repeated the word. Gods. Her eyes still fixated on her little tree. Then, she breathed and looked up at her swiftly. “It’s settled then!” She stood up, allowing her flowing tail to brush past Valen’s shoulder as she stepped away to face the sun. “You will take me to your home, Madame. You know me not, but I don’t doubt you’ll be glad when you do. This is my gift to you.” It was in that moment that Lucretia blinked through the sunlight, her eyes still twitching uncontrollably. Even her toes began to clench. She resisted, then turned to grin at Valen again, her teeth glinting. “And in return! Your reality and freedom.” Her lips pulled back to reveal pearly whites and her tongue playfully poking out her incisors. “What say you, Valen?” Care to dance with the devil?








”You don’t say…It’s settled then! You will take me to your home, Madame. You know me not, but I don’t doubt you’ll be glad when you do. This is my gift to you. And in return! Your reality and freedom. What say you, Valen?”

There was something in Lucretia’s voice and over exaggerated boasting that made the female’s smile curl slightly; eyes narrowing as she watched the other with a certain curiosity that would make anyone else think she was crazy. Perhaps even Lucretia would think her insane as she bellowed out a laugh and reply.

“It would be my honor to bring you home with me, Lady Lucretia,” she said in a smooth and light hearted voice, still chuckling softly at the others outburst of excitement.


“I should warn you,” she began again, picking up the sapling in her mouth and righting it on the ground between her forearms, “you will be coming home with me at a most important time of my pack’s life. You will be thrust in to many parties.” Her smile faded slightly as she gave Lucretia a long look, her façade still lighthearted as she watched the other. Her tone, however, grew slightly more serious. “There is also a chance upon your arrival that you will never be allowed to leave again; that you will need to make a very precarious journey before you are welcomed in to my home.” But the smile returned and she offered another hearty laugh. “But I think you should do fine! No one’s really ever died before!”





[Image: lucretia_and_valen_sketch2.png]
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