RP:Lost And Found
Summary: Lanara and a few members of her animal rescue unit are returning from saving a deer that had its leg caught in a fence, when they are intercepted by a panther. The black beast lunges at the unsuspecting elf and pins her to the forest floor, when out of nowhere a dire weasel rushes to her aide and takes a severe injury to his own paw. The panther runs off, knowing that he was outnumbered and the weasel is then brought to the animal sanctuary to recover. A few days later, Kelovath heads to Sage Forest to seek out the sanctuary, as someone told him that his lost companion, Cobalt, was last seen in that area. Imagine his surprise when he comes face to face with the weasel after such a long time spent apart. and to hear the heroic tale of his rescue! The two share a beautiful reunion, and Kelo and Lana strike up a conversation about their pasts, the sorrows in Larket, and the death of Largakh.
Location: Northern Sage Forest / Lanara's Animal Sanctuary
It has been about a month or so since Cobalt finally escaped from Larket. It wasn't like he was being treated unfairly or anything like that, but he missed Kelovath. And things were strange in Larket now. The people who cared for him in the stables smelled different. They seemed angry and irritated. Enough so that Cobalt had enough and managed to get out and search for the paladin. Unfortunately, Kelovath hasn't been anywhere near Larket or that part of the forest. There was nothing to track and so Cobalt remained in the area of Northern Sage. Hunting wasn't easy, but his size and ability to climb trees was enough for him to survive. The worst part of it all was the rain. His size was perfect for hunting, but there was little to no shelter for him. And even a large weasel hates being wet. His usual smooth coat of fur was now matted with mud and a few twigs knotted and twisted as well. It was tiresome and irritating. Presently, with the light drizzle of rain and gloomy skys, Cobalt stalked along the forest floor, unknowingly making zero progress of actually leaving the wooden maze.
A trio of male adventurer’s stalks through the forest, led by a beautiful brunette, wearing a backpack and a scowl on her face. Two of the men are pulling a large cart over the uneven forest floor, an unconscious doe lying on her side within, and her rear leg horribly mangled, with blood dripping from the side of the wagon. The leaders words are sharp enough to mince the tough exterior of the man at her side, as her dark eyes narrow and she address him, directly, “You were supposed to patrol this section of the forest every four hours. You were not hired as part of the animal rescue unit of this guild to make out with your girlfriend while on duty! Because of your incompetence I now have to amputate the leg on that poor deer. She doesn’t deserve that… Had you gotten to her earlier, the blood supply wouldn’t have been cut off by the fence, not to this extent! You wanted a bigger duty than kennel maintenance at the sanctuary and I –trusted- you, Earl! I’m not sure that I can anymore.” The disappointment is clear on her pretty face, as she shakes her head, her long chestnut locks slightly frizzy from the misting of the rain. Earl bows his head in shame, for he had never been verbally scolded by the even-tempered Lanara in all the years he had known her, though her tongue lashing was well deserved. The elf is about a quarter of a mile from the sanctuary in the northern section of Sage Forest, when she lifts her hand in a ‘stop’ motion, and the four of them stand still and alert, as she looks to her right. Lana places her pointer finger against her lips, and walks a few steps nearer to the thicker cover of trees, her mud-caked boots making near silent footfalls as she tries to find the source of the noise. The crackling of twigs and underbrush told her that they weren’t alone. Would she find a friend? Foe? Animal in need? There’s no hesitation in her gaze, as she parts the waist-high brush to take a peek.
As the day grew on and hunger now looming in the backgroud, Cobalt shifted into 'hunt-mode'. His steps were lighter and more cautious and his senses were on high alert. The first thing he noticed was the smell of blood in the air. It brought out the dire side of the large weasel. It made his hunger less bareable and he wanted to eat. But, this was a large forest after-all and he wasn't the only thing stalking the woods. He'd follow the scent of blood and continue to creep closer and closer to the noise of the cart and now the people talking. People yelling. Well, just one person yelling and she clearly was not happy with the others. This peaked his curious side, which caused a mis-step and several snappings of twigs happened. His head lowered and things became quiet. The weasel continued his approach. He was close now, but something else was just as close. And the lady was now moving toward the other. When Lanara went in to take a look, the first thing visible would be a large panther, rearing back to jump out at her and probably pin her down for a quick kill. Should she get pinned down or even knocked away, Cobalt would burst out from his own hiding place and charge at the rabid beast, aiming to knock it away using his own body weight. Cobalt, size-wise, is much larger than the panther, but the panther was obviously built to kill. Weasel's, not so much. But it was obvious he sought to protect Lanara. Or at least secure the doe for himself.
Lanara frowns as she doesn’t see anything hidden within the brush, and she takes another step forward, certain that she heard something. That was the good thing about a forest, one could remain hidden in plain sight of you, as the brush was so thick and large trees were in abundance to crouch behind. The downside of hiding in a forest is that every step you take seems to be magnified in the silence of the woods, and alerts predators to your whereabouts. This is precisely what happens now, as the witch becomes the prey and a magnificent panther lunges from the bushes and leaps towards her chest. Elf and panther go flying back about four feet, as the wind is knocked out of the woman and she lifts her hands to shield her face. Pain surges in her middle as his two front paws are pressed to her torso, the cat putting all of his weight on the middle of the elf. She definitely had a broken rib or two, though her primary concern is to shield herself from further injury. The massive strength of the feline keeps her pinned to the growl, as she growls and sniffs at Lana’s chest and ribcage. She smelled deliciously like venison. Splattered in the blood of a doe, his long tongue slips out as he laps at her fitted tee-shirt, those yellow eyes giving the trio of men a heated glare. If anyone dared to disrupt him while he dined on the body of his catch, there would be hell to pay. Lana tries to remain calm, as she was caught off guard by this sudden change of events, and if she hadn’t been so angry at Earl she would have laid her palms on the panther and used her gift of empathy to tame the beast. She had a gift for befriending all animals, regardless of their true nature, though one wouldn’t know it now as she lies there fighting to catch her breath with her eyes covered. The adventurer’s stand there, mostly useless, and one decides to toss a branch at the cat, in an effort to distract him, though all the panther does is sink his claws deeper into the woman’s stomach. He was not abandoning his victim. Then, seemingly out of nowhere a dire weasel appears, flying from the brush like a bat from the fiery depths of hell, and he charges at the panther with such force that he manages to push him off of the elf. The panther rounds on the weasel, and they both study each other, baring their teeth, and stalking each other in a circle, neither breaking eye contact. Lanara uses this to her advantage and log rolls out of the way, as her friends help her to her feet and though they try to usher her to safety, she shakes her head. “No. That weasel saved my life. We stay.”
Cobalt stood much taller than the panther, thanks to his 'dire' breed. But, overall, the panther would be stronger, faster, and more deadly. The panther lived in these woods. It knew them and had every single advantage over the large weasel. The main thing that Cobalt had was smarts. He had been involved in a battle that was part of a war. He knew how to fight and just like the panther, wasn't afraid to kill if need be. There was no interest in eating the panther, but his natural instinct was now to protect and defend. Lanara, as far as Cobalt could tell, was not a good hunter or a fighter. He defended her once and until the panther was dead or gone, he'd continue to throw himself for her. The circling didn't last long and the dark panther made the first move. In a flash, it jumped forward and attempted to smack Cobalt on his snout and then immediately went in for a dead-dealing bite to the neck. The weasel avoided the massive paw to the face, but could not completely dodge the bite. Thankfully, the panther didn't snack on Cobalt's neck, but instead latched onto the upper part of his leg, spurting blood from the wound and a cry for help from his snout. As a reflex, the dire lifted his own paw and gave a forceful smack onto the panthers' head and neck. It was enough for him to break free from the bite, but the damage had been done and he was unable to put any pressure on the wounded leg. It appeared the panther was stunned briefly, but it wouldn't take long for another attempt at ending the weasel.
Lanara warily eyes the panther, seeing the hunger in his gaze as he aimed to strike at the heroic dire weasel. She winces as Cobalt narrowly dodges the swipe towards his snout; however, he’s unable to dodge the fierce bite from the predator as those sharp incisors dig into his leg, the sheer power in the panther’s jaws crushing it with such force that the weasel is unable to put any weight on his new injury. Thankfully, the weasel is able to retaliate with a swipe to the head of the panther, and is able to break free of his assault, stunning him momentarily. As the panther appears somewhat debilitated for a moment, Lana springs into action and starts shouting orders at the three men she had along with her, and she nears the weasel, having caught her bearings enough to at cast a protective barrier before the critter. “Goddess, Goddess, I need you now. Save this weasel from harm, by this vow. Cast this shield, let nothing break free. As I speak it, so mote it be!” An audible clapping sound is heard and a shimmering circular shield wavers in the air, directly before Cobalt. It’s placed just in the nick of time, as the panther snarls and charges at the weasel, colliding with the magical barrier and being forcefully propelled in the opposite direction, by about eight feet. The large cat lands in the heavy brush with a thud, his yellow eyes now glued to the trio of approaching men, one of which has a dart readied that has been coated with a sleeping elixir. If the panther where to continue in this behavior, he would be tranquilized and relocated to a different area of the forest.
Cobalt was ready to continue the fight, if need be. His leg was heavily damaged and if Lanara hadn't of cast the magic shield, he would have attempted to strike at the panther during the brief moment of vulnerability. Instead, he lowered his head defensively as the shield came around himself and Lanara. When the panther approached, Cobalt started to prepare for it, but the shield did the work this time around. The panther flew back and was slow to get up. The weasel began to feel the pain from his injured leg and suddenly fell to the ground. He wanted so badly to lick the wound clean, but he couldn't quite reach it properly. A soft whimper came from him and he stopped trying. The panther, having been stunned and thrown around so much was now in no mood to continue his fight. If able, he'd turn and run away, although it'd be a slow process. Cobalt shifted his attention to Lanara and showed off his large, now somewhat sad brown eyes. But, along with that, like a dog, his mouth opened up and his tongue flopped out to the side and he started to pant. Cobalt is a bit strange.
The animal rescue unit watches as the panther glowers at them, his yellow hues eyeing each individual member, before he steals a final glare at the injured weasel. The beast can sense that he’s outnumbered, but he won’t forget their scents, and perhaps one day in the future he will be able to fully sate his hunger, without interference. Ever so slowly, he turns, his shiny velvet coat glistening with sweat as he stalks into the thickness of the trees, disappearing from their line of view. The three men heave a sigh of relief and go to check on the unconscious doe in the wagon, who is barely breathing at this point and very much on the verge of death. All that blood loss and she likely was sporting an infection, and may require much more than an amputation. The men converse over what to do with the deer, as Lana lowers the magical barrier and drops to her knees, beside the heroic weasel. “You saved my life…Now it’s my turn to save yours…” Her chocolate hues lock onto those heartbreak eyes of the dire critter and she extends an arm, her hand balled into a fist, so that Cobalt may inhale her scent. This was how she often would greet a dog or cat, and never having befriended an animal quite like this, she hopes she’s using the correct body language. Cobalt whimpers and lies on his side, with his tongue hanging from his mouth, and panting heavily. He needed food, water, shelter, and above all, medical attention for the wound to his leg. Lana eyes his injuries, mentally assessing what she would have to do once he was brought into the sanctuary. She waits for the critter to gain her scent, and hopefully not sink his teeth into her appendage. If Cobalt isn’t hesitant of her touch, she would brush her fingers through his matter fur, and use her empathic abilities to soothe him and let him know that she was a friend, and the farther thing from a foe. Clutching her ribs with her free hand, she mostly ignores the pain in her own slender form, intent on repairing the unique weasel that had risked his life to save her own. Earl wanders over and clears his throat, “Miss Lana… The doe is in distress. I don’t think Dr. Johnston will be able to save her leg…” The elf frowns and nods her head, “Perform a mercy kill, Earl. Salvage what meat hasn’t been tainted by the infection. And ready the wagon. I’m bringing this one in for treatment. No need to alert the staff… I’ll tend to this one by myself.”
At this point, Cobalt had forgotten all about the doe he was originally hunting. The scent of blood was still in the air, but it was masked by his own, as well as Lanara's presumably. When she reached out to him, the weasel leaned his head down toward her hand and licked her hand. He already had her scent and was perfectly content with her touching his fur. The empathic ability did in fact work and even more so than before, Cobalt was calm and collective. This was the first time in a while that something wasn't actively trying to attack or kill him. So, it was all enjoyable. The panting continued and he shifted his gaze back toward the forest. When Lanara was ready to move on from this place, he'd do his best to follow suit. His injury was severe, but, for the time being, he trusted the elf enough to follow her where-ever she sought to travel. An attempt was made to stand, but it was done slowly and painfully, based on yet another whimper emitting from the dire weasel. He pushed himself up though and looked back to Lanara, tongue still out.
Lanara smiles as Cobalt licks her hand, the witch turning her wrist and lightly running her fingers along his fur, testing the waters. Once he seemed to be enjoying the contact, she would pet him as one would a friendly dog, without hesitation and a gentle patting along his side. His paw injury was severe and she could tell it was giving the weasel a great deal of pain, so she walks over to the cart, and pats the side. The doe was being euthanized behind a tree, though two of her team still remained nearest to the cart, and she lifts her gaze to the men. Surprisingly, Cobalt had followed her and while it pained him to put any weight on his injury, he seemed curious of the cart and to have a newfound trust in the woman. Lanara speaks in sylvan to her crew and the men approach, one on either side of the weasel, as they aim to help lift the animal into the cart, so his paw isn’t jostled and he doesn’t have to walk the rest of the way to the sanctuary. Lana smiles at Cobalt, giving him a reassuring nod, as she once more extends her arm to brush her hand through his fur, all the while emitting the feeling of security and kindness. Hopefully, the animal would allow the men to assist him as he’s loaded into the cart. If so, they’d be on their way and head to the sanctuary, the elf never more than a step or two away from Cobalt, as though she was now the protector, and not the other way around.
The smell of blood still heavily lingered in the air and the smell grew all the more harsh as Cobalt approached the cart. It made his stomach growl with hunger and the desire to eat something. It didn't look as if anything was available at the moment. It discouraged him, but at the same time, he wanted to stop the pain in his leg. Lanara was looked at, but there was little to no indication if he was going to be okay with the help up onto the cart. It happened anyway and he did squirm a bit, but nothing serious. The pain in his leg felt more intense, and he was still on alert for other potential dangers, although it'd be difficult to tell since he was now laying down in the back of the cart with his head down. Here and there, he'd make an attempt to lick at his wound, almost like how a cat licks its own chest. It looked equally strange and it wasn't all that effective. He'd give it up after a few attempts and just enjoy the ride to where-ever.
It had been nearly four days since the unexpected death of Largakh had occurred, and the sanctuary had a note posted at the gates stating that it was closed to the public until further notice. The funeral of the half-orc had affected the founder so deeply that she hadn’t eaten or slept in days, nor had she gone on any of her planned adventures. The facility is rather quiet, despite the many domestic and exotic animals that are held within the walls and in the fenced-in areas, as though they are mourning along with the witch. One guard is posted at the gate, when there are usually two, and the building seems to be running on a skeleton staff, of none other than Venin, the caretaker, and two teenage volunteers in the nursery. The adoption office is closed, the kennel maintenance crew seemingly has the day off, the two veterinarians are nowhere in sight, and the usual hustle and bustle of the building holds an eerie silence. In the rear of the building, in the enclosure with the dire weasel, sits Lanara, on an overturned milk crate. Cobalt lies on his side, contently resting in a room that mirrors his natural woodland habitat, which has a small nesting of broken trees in one corner, a rock pile, and a small pond of fresh water. A food dish with two rabbit carcasses sits on a small placemat, beside a dish of chilled water, infused with vitamins to strengthen the immune system. Cobalt’s front left paw is bandaged up to the thigh part, and around his chest and upper torso area, with a splint to hold the bond in place as it continues to mend. All in all, the weasel was healing beautifully, and were it not for Lana bringing him to the infirmary and performing surgery, surely infection would have set in, or he would have perished at the mouth of the panther. She had to remove splinters of bones, shave and suture his paw, and set the bone. After keeping him immobile for a day, she then used her craft to make a bone fusing potion, and she made sure to change his bandages every day. She had become fond of the weasel, who was she calling ‘Ranger’ and she pouts as she hands a placard above the window to his enclosure. “Tomorrow you’ll be able to be considered for adoption, Ranger… I’m going to miss you.” Lana sighs, knowing that the three day holding period was up, and if he was lost, well, no one came to claim him or reported that he was missing. A tear trickles down her cheek, as she aims to brush it away with her knuckles, she wouldn’t cry another tear. She’d had enough crying to last her a lifetime in the past few days.
Kelovath would normally stay a bit farther away from Larket, given his current reputation within the city. But, a friend of his claimed they spotted Cobalt at the shelter and as soon as he was able, the paladin started his journey to find his friend. In all honesty, he assumed the higher-powers of Larket would have killed Cobalt. He mourned for his friend months ago. And now, there was a slight chance that the weasel was alive! It brought hope and a faster speed while traveling. It still felt like a lifetime trying to get to the sanctuary, mostly because of the little altercation on Kelay-Road that could later turn into something quite powerful for his future. For now, his mind, and feet, were focused on Cobalt. He arrived at the safe-haven and of course, it looked like nobody was there. Clearly there were still animal noises in the distance and a flicker of light could be seen as well. But were there people here at all? Was it a holiday? He couldn't keep track of all the different celebrations and such. Even more so with all the traveling he's done in the recent months. Briefly, he spotted a person and called out, "Hey! Hello?! Do you work here? I'm looking for someone!" The man looked like the caretaker, but titles and looks rarely go hand-in-hand around Hollow. Anyone can literally be anything and you'd have no idea.
The man that Kelovath had assumed was the caretaker laughs hysterically, as he lifts his arms in shrug and motions to the guards. Once the guards had given Kelo a once over and relieved him of any weapons, the paladin would be assured through the gates and allowed to approach the teenager, who was one of the volunteers and was wearing rubber gloves that reached up to his elbows. The kid laughs again, clearly on some sort of hallucinogen or maybe he wasn’t all there mentally, though after a minute he points to the double doors. Upon entering the building, Kelo would be given an annoyed greeting by a petite woman with constant resting bitch face, who eyes him with disdain and taps the sign-in sheet. “I guess you can’t read. But we’re closed... Founder had a death in the family. Sign here and when we re-open you’ll be first in line to visit with an adoption counselor. If you’re not here for adoptions, then get out. Lana is –not- looking for a date. I’ve seen enough of the likes of you for one day.” Her eyes narrow as she takes in the handsome man, the caretaker being oddly protective of the witch. The minutes tick by, as Venin stares down Kelovath, and none other than the witch herself exits Cobalt’s enclosure at the rear of the hall, and she notes the body language of the pair and walks over to see what’s happening. “Hey… Everything okay?” Lifting her dark chocolate hues, Lana fixes Kelovath with a faint smile, peering up at the much taller being beneath her impossibly long lashes. She had never seen this man before, or not that she could recall, and the fact that he had breezed in here despite the sign at the entrance meant that he was here on some sort of important business. Elbowing Venin, she gives the woman a sigh, “Can you do some laundry? I need fresh towels for the nursery. I can manage the entrance.” The caretaker glowers at Kelo, before giving Lana a curt nod and vanishing from sight, internally fuming that she was moved from her post. Extending a dainty hand, the witch rolls her eyes and motions to the retreating form of her associate, “I’m sorry about that. She’s not exactly friendly, but she’s the best at her job and I trust her with the animals… I’m Lanara. What can I do for you, Mister…?”
The paladin did not have any idea there were guards here. He wasn't carrying anything dangerous. Mostly because he could never hold onto any sort of weapon. His long time sword was lost somewhere in Frostmaw and Khitti currently held onto the other one. Which was good. It picked her for a reason and he was beginning to see the reasons with each encounter. The kid was approached and then the kid was quickly left behind. "What in the..." He started and stopped as he reached the large doors. One was opened and he entered the building. "Yes, I saw tha..." She continued talking, so he stopped and went for the sign-in sheet. "Lana?" He asked, but then was accused of trying to get a date. "The likes of me?" The man was extremely confused at this point and did his very best to not make eye-contact with the woman. He wrote his name on the sheet and was about to ask for the time, but didn't. He felt very uncomfortable and even the thought of leaving now seemed strange. Eventually, he found the courage and started to turn, but then a door opened nearby and his attention swiftly shifted toward the noise. Possibly the 'Lana' that was mentioned before, but there wasn't anyway for him to know that quite yet. To be safe, he thought it'd be best to not linger his gaze on the woman for too long, afraid that Venin may accuse him of something else. When addressed, he offered a small smile, but stayed quiet until the receptionist was dealt with. He chuckled quietly and shook his head, "No, no. She's fine. I've ran in to worse. I'm Kelovath Khasmin. I was looking for a friend of mine and I was told this would be the place to look." He glanced around for a moment, then followed with, "I'm sorry. Didn't realize you'd be closed. And, I am sorry to hear about your recent loss. She..."A slight motion toward the direction Venin wandered off, "...made a comment."
Lanara lowers her hand after the introductions are made and she crosses her arms over her chest, tightly hugging her middle in an effort to provide comfort, as the condolences ensue. Would she ever escape this heartache every time it was brought up? She’s silent for a moment, merely staring into space, before she clears her throat and shakes her head, “Thank you. Larz was a good man… And his death was rather sudden.” A pause, as he motions towards the direction of Venin, and she cracks a small smirk, unable to hide her bemused expression. “Yeah, she doesn’t really like anyone, and she never quite approved of me dating a half-orc… She has this strange aversion to love and friendship. And the more attractive someone is… She dislikes them more than the others.” Which was obvious why Kelo was treated in such an abrasive manner from the caretaker, he was considered handsome, at least in Venin’s eyes. Lana, on the other hand, wasn’t judging the man on his looks, at least not at this point in time, as she was mending a broken heart. Running her fingers through her long chestnut locks, she grows self-conscious, as she looked far from her best, and this was her place of business. Still, she managed to rock the hot mess look, but she is trying her best to appear professional, as the sanctuary had only been open for about a month. It wouldn’t do for the founder to look so disheveled. “You said you’re looking for a friend? May I ask what type of animal? Or… If it’s not a common species, you could describe it to me, maybe? Gender? Fur or feathers? Number of legs?” She gives Kelo a genuine grin now, her lush lips curving into a silken smile, as she realizes she’s back into the mode of an animal rescuer, and likely babbling. The elf was prone to babbling when she was nervous, or passionate about a cause, and animals were her life, so she was –very- excited to possibly reunite the paladin with one of her many strays.
Kelovath could tell that the heartache was rather fresh and even more, it was her lover that had died. Lover might not be the correct term, as he knew nothing about their relationship, but regardless of what they were, clearly the feelings were real. And, as with his experience in his own personal loss and the counseling of others who have lost, he knew that shifting your attention elsewhere was a good start. On a normal day, he may have pondered the idea that Arkhen brought him here to help Lanara mourn and all that, but he was here beyond that reason. During his younger and earlier days in Larket, with the title of Parson, this was exactly the situations he'd often find himself in and he was always more than happy to lend an open hand and ear. But, the paladin was on a mission and that was to find Cobalt. But, to not sound overly crazy describing his friend, he played it down. Also, the thought of Venin liking him because he was handsome flew -right- over his head. For the moment, he'd just sum her up to being rude. With a smile, "Fur. And a lot of it. Male, with four legs. He's a bit bigger than most of his species, but to be honest, I haven't really seem too many others like him." He looked down for a moment and lost himself in thought once more. He was thinking, trying to remember if Cobalt had any memorable scars or marks. Other than a strange personality, there wasn't anything overly remarkable about the dire weasel. "You see, I lost him a long while ago. To be honest..." 'I thought he was dead' probably isn't the best thing to say right now. He lifted his gaze and it was about then that he did notice how sad Lanara appeared. Sure, talking about her job, or possibly her hobby as well, was enlightening and fun, but the pain was clear. Body language was more than enough to make it obvious and Kelovath was great at seeing it. "Sorry...But, are you going to be okay? Like...Really okay?" The tone changed in his voice. He'd gone from enjoying the memories of his friend, to extremely concerned about the newly introduced woman that, if Cobalt doesn't end up being here, he'd probably never see again.
Lanara tilts her head to the side, mentally forming an image of each of the animals that matched his description. He was being rather vague as he could be talking about anything from a winter wolf, to a type of feline, to some sort of bear. Her eyes widen as she realizes he could be talking about –most- of the animals at the sanctuary, and she clears her throat, thinking it best to merely take him on a tour. “Alright… We have, um, about forty, that match that description. Could you narrow it down to a particular color of the fur? His personality type? Maybe even his feeding habits? You see, there are quite a few that match your description…” Lana had a menagerie of her own of animal companions, the ones that she had adopted over the years, and she often had a hard time describing a few of them to others… Puddles was half-shark and half-horse! Rude-Off was an ill-mannered reindeer with a mouth that would make a sailor blush! And Damon was an animated potato that often wore different disguises! She imagines her own crew of misfits, and she gently pats Kelo on his upper arm, as though sympathizing. “I’m sorry that you two were apart for some time. Um… Seeing that we’re, well, closed… We have the place to ourselves, and I normally don’t give out private tours, but I really want to reunite you with your friend, if he’s here. So, if you have the time, I’d be happy to show you around and see if any match up?” She waits for him to reply, their brown gazes locking for a moment, as he changes the subject and inquires about her mental health and broken heart. This man didn’t even know her… Yet, a part of him seemed to care for her well-being and was reaching out. This random act of kindness has fresh tears springing to her eyes, and she blinks fast, willing them to stay put and not spill onto her cheeks. Vulnerability was something that Lana hid from others, even those closest to her, and this poor man had come here seeking his companion, not to comfort a stranger. Her words are caught in her throat, as she’s unsure how to respond, and she toys with her hair, tucking it behind a tapered ear, as she nips her lower lip. “Um… I’m alright. It just happened so suddenly, and I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m a hundred and eighty-two, and one would think that I’d have found my happy ending, by now? But, fairytales don’t exist… It’s just a hard realization, that’s all. Love exits as fast as it enters my life, and I’m probably cursed or something, I don’t know. I’m sorry. You didn’t come to hear about my heartache and I don’t know why I’m even telling you all of this, as I don’t even know you… But, thank you, Mister Khasmin… It’s nice to know that there are still some kind hearted people in this realm.” Lana looks away as a single tear trickles down her cheek, and her cheeks flood with color, as she was now embarrassed by her willingness to confide in this man. She hinted that this wasn’t the first time a lover had died, and she even admitted her age! Luckily, longevity and a decrease in the signs of aging, both elf perks, had maintained her beauty, as she looked to be in her mid-twenties. Not wanting this to be just about her, as she was incredibly selfless, she motions for Kelo to follow her, so they can begin their tour, and she aims to change the subject, “So… How did you lose your friend? Did he run away? Was he stolen? Maybe one of you stepped into a portal, of some sort? You’d be surprised how these little critters wind up lost…”
Kelovath accepted the tour when offered, but he was slightly more focused on Lanara's expressive words. The man nodded in the right places and listened intently as she described a bit more personal details than he was expecting. A curse could be likely, but he had little to no experience in dealing with that. Now, if there was some dark magic in the works, he would have already picked up on that, if it was lingering around the woman. Or, maybe, those who become interested in the woman are the cursed ones? No sense in thinking about it at the moment. "I don't know if you're cursed or unlucky or whatever else it may be, but..." He paused, trying to gather his words into the correct order and meaning. "Personally, I believe that love -is- a fairytale. Not in the sense that it doesn't exist and is made-up. But that it is wonderful and full of bliss. It will never be perfect and you won't always be happy, but it is worth holding onto and growing. And learning from! You have had a rather long string of bad luck, but the world is a balancing act. Something bad has happened, but eventually, it'll all even-out and if you're lucky, the good side of the balancing will last longer than the bad." He felt like that was all -way- too much and too personal and the flush that overcame the elf was now showing in the paladin's cheeks. The man cleared his throat and glanced around the room, an awkward little smile on his face. He would follow the elf when motioned and start to explain the situation that involved him losing his friend. "Erm. Well. I was living in Larket, at the time. I had to leave pretty quickly and left Cobalt, that's his name, at the local stable until I got back. Long story short, I am not exactly allowed back into Larket. I swear I didn't abandon him. That's how it sounds, but if I tried to go back to Larket, I would have been killed and more than likely, he would have been as well. Several days ago, I got word that he'd been spotted around here, so..." Kelovath expected to be judged harshly for leaving Cobalt behind, but at the time, he had every intention of returning. Penalty death has a way of altering your course. Along with the title of traitor. "Truth be told, I thought he was dead already...So, my expectations of being reunited are highly mixed, ya know?"
Lanara knows deep down that she isn’t the victim of a curse, for she has the talents to detect such, and her craft hasn’t shown her to be hexed, just unlucky in maintaining a long-term relationship. One man went missing, and the other two had perished at the hand of another. She wasn’t by any means evil, and for half a beat she hopes this man doesn’t think that –she- was the cause of their untimely demise. The witch was of a neutral alignment, and though she had a mischievous nature at times, there wasn’t a bad bone in her body; she evoked a feeling of ‘goodness’ that was a rarity these days. As Kelo talks about his viewpoint on love, she walks ahead of him and points to the first cage, which houses a black direwolf, though he doesn’t comment, so she moves on. “I… I agree with you, Mister Khasmin. My whole life revolves around balance. Good and evil. Darkness and light. The God and the Goddess…” She’s hinting at being a witch, in case the pentacle about her neck, and the rune tattoo on her wrist weren’t a dead giveaway. He was a paladin, and likely had heard many misconceptions about their kind. She didn’t worship the devil, nor did she believe in sacrifices or dark magic. She was a daughter of the moon, a worshipper of nature, and she only believed in using her magic to heal another, or as a means of self-defense. Peering over a slender shoulder she catches his blush, and she gives him a small smile at his pep talk, as though he were speaking from experience. Had he also had a string of bad luck when it came to matters of the heart? “I know you’re right… Trust hasn’t always come so easily to me. And I know that Larz would want me to find love and be happy again. I just doubt I will meet another that will see me in the way that he saw me. And… I wish I was able to say goodbye. But… One small good thing did happen surrounding his death… I was chosen to lead a guild of adventurer’s, so, I have my travels and the animals to keep me company and stave off any lonely feelings.” Swiping the tear from her cheek, she points into the next enclosure, which houses a black bear, who hungrily eyes them both. Not seeing the recognition in Kelo’s expression, she moves on to the next enclosure, where a two-headed shaggy goat sticks his head through the bars for pets, and bleats at them until he gets attention. “Oh Ferdinand!” Lana obliges, and scratches an ear upon each head of the animal, as her gaze locks onto the paladin’s, hanging on his words. Larket. Dark times had occurred in that land for many, and she frowns, hugging the right head of the goat to her chest. “I… I avoid Larket at all costs, as well.” She –was- a witch. “After that business with Valrae and the torture of those poor witches… Not to mention the psychopathic rulers! I have to admit, I –never- in all my years would have pegged Josleen for a Queen! Sorry… I’m not exactly a fan of Josleen and Macon, or Larket…” She tones it down, not wanting word to carry back to them, just in case they were overheard. Unraveling her arms from the goat, she moves over to the next enclosure, which houses two lionesses and a much larger male, with a shaggy mane. “Uh, him?” Pointing to the male, she waits for Kelo to respond with a yes or no, before they move along the aisle. The nursery is ignored, as is the infirmary, as he said he had his ‘friend’ for quite some time and that he’d been missing, and that ruled out an infant or the white tiger that was in recovery. “Hm…” She eyes the hall to the right and they turn down it, to stand before a stall with a white stallion, which whinnies in greeting. The horse was brought in only two days ago and was recovering nicely, though his flank was heavily bandaged. Slipping a sugar cube into its mouth, Lana kisses him on the muzzle, “I don’t blame you for not returning to Larket… I don’t think you’re the type to just give up on someone you love. I’m generally a good judge of character… Well, why don’t we try the rear of the facility? There’s a few more that are new arrivals.”
At first, he did not know she was a witch. The only other witch he'd ever been in contact with was Artia and there had been little to no word from her in months. Last he knew, she was practicing the good side of magic, but much like Lanara, she too had terrible luck with love. Hard telling what she may be playing around with now. But, because of Artia, the vicious rumors that have been spreading around about witches hit upon deaf ears when Kelo was around. He knew better and with the kind of person he was, knew not to believe every little rumor. With each enclosure, Kelovath shook his head when asked if the animal inside was what he was seeking. It was discouraging, but he was enjoying the conversation. "Larket has gone through a rather sudden transformation as of late. It is painful to watch your home shift into something so hated." At the mention of Josleen, he thought it'd be best to not comment. There was more history between Josleen and Kelovath than he'd like to share. Same goes for Macon, although a little less history. When they reach the pair of lions, he again shakes his head and continues to follow the elf to the back of the facility. "I actually want to return to Larket, which is the sad part. It's my home, ya know? But, with the current standing of the political scheme, it is impossible for me to live there freely. And with the trend roaming around the city of how evil witches are...And what they did to Lady Valrae...My return to the Hard City cannot be something simple unfortunately." The thought of finding Cobalt here was fading pretty rapidly. It seemed like they have already explored the majority of the sanctuary and the weasel has yet to be found. But, at least the company was nice, even if the topic was of a city that hated witches and was led by two evil people.
Lanara meanders through the aisles, showing Kelovath quite a tour of the place, and he’d see that every animal was content, and that each enclosure had mirrored their natural habitat. Some were up for adoption, some were recovering from injuries and would be released back into the wild, and some fell in-between, and were worked with daily, to see where they would be happiest again. They pass a nursery, an infirmary, a few areas that are designated for employees only, an evaluation room, a grooming section, two operating rooms, and an adoption office. Lana is at a loss, hoping that she’d reunite him with his companion, but she knew they were getting down to the final few enclosures. Kelo had shaken his head at over thirty-five animals, and she was hopeful that if he didn’t find Cobalt, he’d consider adopting another animal, but she wouldn’t pressure the man. She’s shocked that he doesn’t recoil upon putting the pieces together that she’s a witch, and she wonders if he knows any others or perhaps her little sister, Talyara. There were a few in Hollow, most that she knew from afar, though she was familiar with Artia and Valrae, namely. At one time, she had almost become sister in-laws with Artia, but the two witches couldn’t be more different, in more ways than one, and she barely kept in contact with the fiery haired woman. Larket held bad memories for Lana, too, and she keeps the fact that she was once betrothed to the infamous witch killer to herself, though she senses that there’s more to Kelo’s story than he’s letting on. He wasn’t allowed to return to Larket and he seemed to dislike the King and Queen, but then again, mostly everyone held a dislike for that pair. As they stand before a small room that houses a family of raccoons, she quirks a brow and motions for him to take a peek, giving the man an appraising look up and down as his attention is diverted. He seemed harmless, easy on the eyes, and she could tell that he had a good heart, so she clears her throat and shifts her gaze to the next area. “I’m sorry to hear that, Mister Khasmin… I found that home is not where your roots lie, but where your heart is happiest… I come from a forest very far away… It was called Kelvar. Strictly made up of elves, most being female, and the entire island was shrouded in fog, so none other than those that resided in Kelvar would be able to locate it… But, it was destroyed by the drow. And that’s what led me to these lands… I’ve lived in Frostmaw, Venturil, Cenril, Schezerade… And now Sage Forest. The key to holding a piece of your home with you is to find a place where even the smallest detail brings back a memory… I chose here because of the way the leaves crinkle under my feet, the smell of a brisk autumn day, and the way the rain sounds as it hits the roof… You may not be able to ever return to Larket, but you can carry a part of Larket with you wherever you go. In your heart and in your mind.” There’s a depth seen in those chocolate pools as she meets his gaze, the woman wise beyond her years, and she hopes that she gave him some hope, as he had given her moments earlier. The final enclosure is brought into view as she motions to the dire weasel, “This is Ranger…His story is pretty heroic. Normally –I- rescue the animals, along with my team… But this time, this little guy saved me, from a panther.” Her hand absently lifts to rub at the ribs she had taped beneath her shirt, and she gives the weasel a warm smile, already having grown fond of the unique critter.
Overall, the paladin was rather impressed with how many animals Lanara and her crew were taking care of. The organization and time that must go into something like this seemed overwhelming, but still doable. He did run Larket, with the help of higher ups and a well trusted circle, so he understood how something so massive could still work seamlessly. No doubt there were days of struggle and fatigue, but at the end of the day, it was an accomplishment to make it through and a blissful moment when a breath could be taken. Each enclosure was maintained perfectly and the animals there, although understandably sad at times, appeared to be content. The racoons for example were rather happy here. They were together, they were safe, and the way the two youngest played with each other seemed so carefree. Kelovath was oblivious to the fact of Lanara giving him a once-over and even if he did notice, not a word would have been mentioned. He knew quite well the destructive power of the drow and offered a frown when learning that Kelvar had been ravaged by the under-worlders. "Yes. I suppose you're right." It wasn't much, but the man was unable to come up with anything better to say on the topic. The journey to return to Larket would be dangerous, chaotic, and probably the hardest thing he'd ever come across. But, thinking back, he thought much the same when Vuryal roamed the lands. And when his friend Redovian accepted a truly evil bargain with Tiphareth. Or even when he fought a giant and a mammoth alongside a vampire he'd never met before. All of those things ended poorly, but he was still alive and walking. Maybe Larket won't be his true home, but the road there continues to look promising. A warm smile was offered to the elf as she looked his way, and he followed it with a gentle nod in understanding. When the next enclosure came into view and the name 'Ranger' was spoken, the paladin's footsteps and smile vanished. "Cobalt..." He whispered in awe, his mouth remaining open. He couldn't look away. Slowly, the warm smile returned to grace his features (as well as show off some of those aging wrinkles) and the man carefully stepped forward. He didn't want this moment to end and stepping forward seemed like an impossible task. Surely it was an illusion. Cobalt couldn't be here. The last enclosure? It was surreal. A trick, maybe? Finally, the man was able to turn his head, but kept his eyes on Cobalt. "That's him." Another whisper, which was probably a bit odd as they were having a normal voiced conversation a second ago.
Lanara watches the look of wonder come across the man’s features, and she knows in her heart, that –this- was his beloved companion that he thought was deceased. “THIS is your Ranger? Erm… Cobalt? This is Cobalt?” The elf is speechless, as she would have imagined the paladin to have owned something much more… Well… Manly. A dire weasel was a lovely companion, but she thought the male would be more the type to have a magnificent destrier or perhaps a wolf, something along those lines. Lana’s expression softens as she spies the smile that sweeps across Kelo’s face, the awe in his brown eyes, and the way his voice drops to a mere whisper. This was the most beautiful reunion she’d ever witnessed, and for a moment she feels out of place and wishes to give them their privacy. Stepping to the side, she busies herself by dropping some treats into a pen filled with several puppies, of various sizes and colors, all which yap and excitedly bounce against the wire enclosure, each vying for the elf’s attention. Cobalt, meanwhile, had looked up and locked eyes with Kelovath, through the glass, and he slowly rises to his paws and advances nearer to have a closer look, as if he too were in disbelief. Lana picks up one of the puppies, a chubby short-haired black retriever of some sort, and she scratches him behind the ears as he licks at her chin and wiggles in her arms. She fawns over the little canine, even turning her back to the reunion that was taking place, as she knew it had been quite some time since the owner and his pet had laid eyes upon each other. After about ten minutes, she lowers the puppy into the pen and retreats to Kelo’s side, where she gently rests her palm atop his upper arm, and meets his gaze with a warm smile. “I’ll open the enclosure, and you can go inside, alright?” The enclosure was spacious, with a tall ceiling, and wide enough for four of the dire weasel’s kind to fit in, so a person could easily go into the enclosure with the animal. It also made it much easier, than transporting him to the infirmary every time he needed a change of bandages or medication. A small plate rests to the right of the enclosure and Lana presses her hand to the metal, and after a few seconds there’s a whirring noise, and the gate is unlocked. Opening the door, she motions for Kelo to enter before her, and she steps inside with the pair, closing the door behind them. Leaning against it, she explains the extent of Cobalt’s injuries, and though she’s ecstatic about the weasel being replaced into a loving home, she’s sad to see him leave. That was the bittersweet part of this occupation. Getting attached, and having to let go. But she couldn’t keep every animal that came to the sanctuary! “Rang-erm, Cobalt… Cobalt found me in the woods, not too far from here. My team and I were in the middle of rescuing a doe that had her leg caught in a fence. Sadly, she didn’t make it… But, en route to the sanctuary I heard something and I went to look, and this massive black panther lunged at me! Animals are usually pretty taken with me, and if they’re not, well, I have a special gift where they warm up to me… Anyways! I wasn’t able to work my magic as he threw me to the ground and broke my ribs, and I was so caught off guard. Cobalt ran to my aide, and fought the panther! He risked his life for me, and the two went at it for a bit, and he suffered some lacerations on his side, and a severely broken paw. I had to insert a plate, remove some bone fragments, fuse the small bones together, and he has stitches from his toes up to his thigh… He also lost a great deal of blood, and he had a minor infection, but he’s on the mend. The panther ran away, and I, in turn, saved Cobalt.” Lana pauses, a firm believer in karma and fate, though she’s unsure where Kelovath fits into the equation. The weasel saved her life, and in turn she saved his… And this man had turned up on a day when she had all but given up on life, love, and willed herself to close off any sort of communication with society. She could ponder it later, though, as right now was a heartwarming moment. She falls silent and meets the gaze of the weasel, her smile remaining on her face, “I’m so happy that you two found each other again.”
Kelovath felt a rush of joy overcome him at the very moment Cobalt locked eyes with him. There was a clear recognition within the weasel's tiny eyes, plus the fact that his entire body was now shaking in excitement. His tail was swinging back and forth wildly and he rushed toward the front of the enclosure. The paladin was as close as he could possibly be and he had the largest smile upon his face. This was by far the happiest he'd been in a long time. Most days, he'd describe himself to be content. He had most everything he could need on a day to day basis and when it was possible, Marcel, another friend from Larket, could come along for the trip. Marcel clearly wasn't around at the moment and during those times, the paladin did a lot of thinking. Content is the correct word, but happy? Not since before escaping from Larket. But now! He did feel happy. It didn't feel like ten minutes, but after that amount of time and Lanara made her way back to him, he hurriedly turned to her at the gentle touch. The grown-man nodded his head like a little kid who just got permission to open his Christmas presents. Once he calmed down, this would all probably be remembered as mostly embarrassing. He waited for the door to be opened and when Lanara gave him the go ahead, he carefully made his way past Lanara and into the enclosure. Cobalt, being Cobalt, wasted no time and pounced up and toward the paladin playfully. Almost like this action had happened before, Kelovath opened his arms and joyfully wrapped them around the weasel as he was landing. Cobalt was much larger than Kelovath in height and weight, but the pair meshed perfectly with each other in that moment. The fur of Cobalt swished back and forth as his tail continued to swing in excitement. Kelovath attempted to calm himself and Cobalt down as Lanara explained the situation she and the weasel found themselves in. As the damage done to Cobalt was described, the man examined the soon to be scars and missing patches of fur. He frowned briefly, but the smile couldn't stay away. Eventually Kelovath would turn and address the elf, although Cobalt would continue to demand attention. "Thank you, Lanara. Cobalt here surely saw something that day. He's friendly, but to go out of his way to protect you is something else entirely." The weasel persistently nudged Kelo as he spoke. "Was there any serious damage I should be aware of? It sounds like you've done so much already. How can I repay you?" Cobalt, lost in the excitement, nudged the paladin a bit harder, which brought a thought to mind. "Wait. Are you okay? You said the panther broke some ribs? Have you been looked at?" Hoping to calm the weasel, the man turned slightly and began scratching behind the ears of the furry beast. It sated some of his energy, but it'd be a while before any calming down would happen.
Lanara can’t help it, she laughs, an actual girlish giggle bubbles past her lips, as she sees the excitement in both the paladin and in the weasel. They had truly missed each other, and Cobalt behaved as though he wasn’t injured in the slightest, with the exuberance of a puppy upon seeing his master come home after a long day! She’s touched, and the smile on her face masks the heartache she had been feeling the past few days. It was moments like these that gave her pause, and she knew that this was the right decision. This sanctuary, all the hours, the gold, the care, all of it was worth it when one was able to see something like this come together. Cobalt continues to wiggle and nudge at Kelovath’s hand, wanting pets and cuddles, and to continue the reunion, and Lana claps her hands together, finding that she’s also excited. “I’m so happy for you both! And… I don’t think the paw will be permanently damaged. I did the best that I could, and though I have a team of experts… I saw to his injuries, myself. I wouldn’t let another heal him… It didn’t seem right, after he risked his life, to just pawn him off on another.” Shaking her head, her chestnut locks fall to curtain her face, and she brushes them back, twirling a lock around her pointer finger. There’s a faint blush in her cheeks when he states that the weasel must have saw something special in her, and she merely gives a shrug. She couldn’t give him an explanation, either, but she also saw something in that weasel, which is why she tended to his injuries, and put her own health aside. Her ribs no longer felt as though they were on fire, and she didn’t believe any internal organs were injured, so she merely wrapped a tape around them so she wouldn’t yelp every time someone hugged her at the funeral. Aside from that? She hadn’t even glanced at the bruises, and she tried her best not to let it show how painful it was if she inhaled too sharply. Lana was a healer, a witch, and she had a multitude of potions and medical supplies at her disposal, she just didn’t look after herself, since Largakh’s passing. She wasn’t eating or sleeping, so she tended to shrug off the pain, thinking that it didn’t matter and would eventually heal on its own. Dodging the question about if she had seen a healer or tended to herself, she clears her throat and shakes her head. “You don’t owe me anything. I’m just pleased that you came today, to reclaim him… I was going to place him up for adoption tomorrow… Normally, I don’t allow patients to leave while still under veterinary care, but you seem capable of protecting him… Mister Khasmin, if you’d like to take Cobalt home with you today, I give my blessing… But you have to promise to come back in two or three days, so we can take another peek at his paw, maybe remove the splint and sutures, and replace his bandages. Does that sound like a plan?” Her gaze shifts from Kelo to Cobalt, and she walks over to them now, dropping to her knees and extending her hand, so that she could run her fingers through the fur that had taken her hours to brush thoroughly. The weasel was a mess when he came in, all matted and in dire need of a bath and intense grooming. The elf had taken excellent care of him, and Cobalt immediately licks at her hand, viewing the woman as a friend and showing her that he was grateful. “I’m going to miss you…” she confesses, her tone a little softer, as she feels that familiar pang in her heart.
Kelovath had missed his friend so much it was overwhelming. To be reunited like this after having mourned and moved on is quite the difficult experience. A piece of himself has been returned and after losing so much recently, just as Lanara has, the word overwhelming doesn't come close to the feelings rushing through him. The paladin took note that she avoided his question about her own health, but there wasn't a reason to press the issue. Not right now anyway. Now knowing that he could leave here with Cobalt and their next great adventure could soon start, the man was once again filled with joy, but at the same time..."Well, if he isn't healed all the way, and you are the expert on this, I truthfully wouldn't feel right leaving with him yet. I don't mind waiting a few more days if it means Cobalt here will be that much closer to 100%." Almost like the dire weasel knew exactly what the conversation was about, the large animal happily licked Lanara's hand and then attempted to lick her face as well. "It seems Cobalt doesn't mind sticking around longer either. Clearly you've been very good to him. The big guy is overly playful, but he doesn't take to people without building some trust." Again, right on cue, the weasel showed more of that dog-like energy and began nudging the elf and demanding more attention from her. All Kelovath could do at this point was laugh and smile. Even with all of the bad things happening throughout the lands and the gigantic mess that continues to build in Larket, he could still stand here and smile and laugh and feel whole again. Hope was a strong feeling and an even stronger motivator. He looked forward to the future, no matter how difficult the journey was going to be. "I'm sure I can also find some place nearby to stay, so I can keep close. I'd want to come by and check on him until he's fully ready, ya know?"
Lanara sees the multitude of emotions that are displayed on Kelovath’s features, as he’s a mixture of shocked and overjoyed at seeing his best friend. She senses that he either had a rough past, or that he was currently going through some things. It’s always what one doesn’t say in a conversation that leaves these little hints, and the fact that he didn’t return to Larket to retrieve the weasel. Lana would walk on water and battle the demons of hell to save the life of someone she cared about, and seeing the way the male is interacting with Cobalt, she knows it had to be something severe that kept them apart. Still, she was merely the founder of the sanctuary and a dance instructor, not exactly an investigator. They had only just met, too, so she keeps her curiosity at bay, and can’t help giggling as Cobalt licks her cheek and nuzzles against her chest, the elf dropping her arms to coil lovingly around his neck. “Yeah, yeah, I love you, too.” She rolls her eyes, as though she weren’t affected by the affections, though her eyes tell a completely different tale, as she’s loving every minute of the attention. Cobalt is elated by Lana’s giggles and aims to climb up on her, but with her sore ribs, she gently pushes him away and he returns to dousing Kelo’s hands in weasel kisses, his whole body wiggling. Lanara dries her cheeks, though this time it’s not to wipe away tears, but slobber, and a faint smile remains on her fair face. She looked lovely when she smiled, and reveals two rows of straight ivory teeth, along with the slightest indent of a dimple to the left of her mouth. Her gaze returns to Kelo’s face and she gives a nod, agreeing that it would be best for Cobalt to remain in her care, rather than risk further aggravating his injury while adventuring. “I don’t mind. I have the extra room and I love having him around, to be honest. I don’t want to seem biased, and though I love –all- the animals that are in my care… I tend to form this unexplainable bond with a select few. Ran-Cobalt is one of them. You’re both so lucky to have found each other again! And… There’s an Inn in Kelay which isn’t too far from here. Maybe a two mile walk to the southeast… I also can loan you a horse for the few days. I have a sweet mare out back that would love some exercise. And there’s an amazing restaurant in Kelay, too. They have the –best- desserts!” She pauses, surprised that she’s suddenly so talkative and almost sounding like her old self, before all the trauma had happened. Licking her lips, she clears her throat, and drops her gaze, almost feeling guilty for speaking of happier times, when everything was going so wrong in her life. “Feel free to drop by anytime. I’ll arrange for Venin to fix you with one of the volunteer badges, so you can gain entrance without having to be frisked or questioned. And you’ll be allowed inside, even if we’re closed to the public. If for some reason I am not here, Venin, the grouch from earlier, and Dr. Johnston, he’s one of the doctors… They also have access to unlock the enclosures. I just ask that you don’t visit with any of the other animals, aside from Cobalt, the puppy pen, or those in the nursery… The others can be temperamental or have injuries and shouldn’t be bothered.”