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Even if your RP partner had nothing else to do and only came to browse, or reply elsewhere, is that such a terrible thing? ^_^ I feel it's better not to take it to heart.
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It's worth the nerves to ask a person if they wish to RP with you if you end up having a good chemistry together. If you do end up rejected, odds are your writing styles wouldn't have clicked anyways.
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~Damaged does not mean broken~
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The Lannisters also prefer Purple at their weddings.

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17th Sun's Dawn
Daggerfall, High Rock


They were an odd pair to be sure. A Khajiit and a wolf, walking side by side as if it were the most natural thing in the world, ignoring the looks of surprise and even fear that were sent their way from those passing by or those who worked by the docks. For his part, the Khajiit man didn't seem too intimidating. Dressed in an unassuming plain brown shirt and a pair of dark trousers, it would have been quite possible to assume he was simply a sailor like many of the rest. An open and friendly look on his face, his ears twitched whilst stormy grey eyes swerved this way and that, not pausing for a moment as he allowed himself to take in the many sights on his way to the ship. It wasn't S'Kandar's first time on the cusp of a sea voyage, but it had been a while since he had actually traveled by sea.

As for the wolf, it would be her first journey on a seafaring vessel. Much like the Khajiit man, she too was in fact not too intimidating if one could get past the fact that she was not your average canine friend. Her fur was a mixture of grey and white with darker tones of brown and black. Her tail whipped in the air, tongue lolling as she too seemed to take in the sight, sounds and smells. S'Kandar had been a little worried than the unfamiliarity of the Daggerfall as well as the scent and sight of the waves may put off Jashi, but it seemed he had been wrong and she was as eager as he was to head on this journey.

"S'Kandar is very proud of you! To think this one was worried you would find this whole experience daunting and unpleasant. Jashi continues to surprise him." S'kandar gave the wolf a grin, reaching down to pet her head and scratch her ears, though the chance of that was stolen away by her affection as she licked at his hand, causing the Khajiit man to break into a laugh. "Yes, yes, this one loves you as well, though a wet hand may not be appealing to those who wish to shake S'Kandar's hand." He effectively ignored his own words however, kneeling down right in the middle of the pathway, scratching the scruff around her neck. "If you like it here, this one's certain you will enjoy Anvil as well."

The thought of that final destination calmed his grin into a smaller, almost somber smile, and S'Kandar finally rose to his feet once more. He gave his wolf companion one last pat on her head and started forward once more, his mind preoccupied with thoughts of... her. Two years may have passed since that day, and the pain may have soften to a manageable hurt, but it did not mean he could ever forget his mentor, his teacher. He needn't have to close his eyes to be able to recall how she looked, so much smaller than he was. Her eyes had always reminded him of the night sky, and her lips as soft as a rose petal, yet fierce when the time to fight dawned upon them. How often had he wished to press his lips against hers? How many times had he forced himself to keep his fingers away from the long, black hair that had flowed down her back like the rivers of Skyrim?

A shaky breath left his lips, and the Khajiit man came to a stop yet again, curling his right hand into a fist and pressing it against his forehead, grey eyes shut tightly, ears flattening to the side. His tail which had previously been swaying peacefully was now rather low and almost perfectly still.

S'Kandar must stop with these thoughts, he chastised himself. He will not fail again. Not ever.

He took a deep breath, allowing it to fill him, and then slowly breathed out, relaxing his shoulders as he did. A few calming breaths later, he lowered his head and opened his eyes at last. Almost immediately his eyes fell on Jashi, who was looking up at him in an almost concerned manner.

"This one apologizes," he mumbled, feeling a little guilty. "Don't worry, S'Kandar was just a little... caught in the past. He will be fine."

With that said, the Khajiit man forced himself to stand tall, pushing his shoulders back and lifting his head, focusing on the vessel only a few more paces away. Anvil was still days away, first they had the sea voyage to contend with; he couldn't help but wonder who else would be travelling with them. Hopefully people with pleasant dispositions. It would be a very long and tedious journey if they proved otherwise. S'Kandar didn't want to think the worst of people he hadn't even met yet, he was just being cautious.

Just be as friendly as this one is with most everyone, he thought to himself as he made his way up the gangplank, and all shall be fine. That formula had yet to fail.

Just as long as no one was rude to Jashi.
@Stormflyx

Edited the appearance section and the history for Jashi ^^

Here's my sheet ^_^

Shedding Scars

Dervs and Greenie



17th Sun’s Height, night

The sounds of happiness and joviality may have been dimmed once Sirine had stepped outside of Dead Man's Drink, but it was still enough for Sirine to make her way behind the building, not caring that the night's air brought a chill that she wasn't used to. Wrapping her cloak around herself tightly, the Imperial Redguard sat herself down on the smaller back porch, knees pulled up under her chin to preserve the warmth she'd gathered from indoors. She stared out in the darkness, being able to make out silhouettes of trees in the distance, beyond which she was told lay a rather auspicious and revered cemetery. Common sense told her it would make much more sense to head back in rather than stare out at more or less nothingness, or seek the comfort of anywhere that had four walls and protected her from the elements. Her heart was stubborn though and she wanted to feel the wind in her hair.

Since when had she become so sentimental? Broody perhaps, but this was different. She had felt a sort of relief when they had reached Falkreath after the second day of travel; seeing the look on Daro'Vasora's face when she discovered her sister was alive and well had reminded Sirine of herself when she had found Bakih and rescued him from the filthy dwemer necromancer. She had been genuinely happy for her companions, despite knowing there was still some sort of invisible barrier between her and them. However, all that positiveness was tinged without knowing where Zaveed and Meg were, or if they were even alive.

A lump in her throat, Sirine reached out and gripped the bottle she had brought with her, taking a swig of the diluted alcohol within. There was no happy feeling from it, and a small voice in her head asked why she even bothered, but she squashed that thought immediately. She couldn't lose her wits here, not when she was alone all over again. Sighing softly, she set the bottle to the side and pressed her face against the arm that was now resting upon her knees. Here she was, former captain of a pirate ship, a killer and a thief, acting like a heartbroken girl. And yet she didn't feel any shame from it, only regret that she hadn't told him how she felt days before the group was attacked.

“Sirine?” Zaveed called out, walking around the building, eyes searching at a frantic pace. Sevari had told him that Sirine was fine and she was with them still, and that she had stepped outside not long before Zaveed had arrived with Megana. Excusing himself, he had hurried to find his lover, finding her at the dark end of the porch, away from prying eyes. He let out a sudden sigh of relief and headed towards her, suddenly dropping to his knees and wrapping his arms around her. “I’ve bloody well missed you. What are you doing out here?” he asked, before chiding himself. “Are… are you doing okay? I am sorry I made you worry.”

If the sound of his voice hadn't jerked her out of her stupor, feeling the sudden warmth of the hug certainly did. Sirine was still for a second before lifting her head and looking at the man holding her. "Zaveed?" Her voice cracked, eyes welling up and freely dripping as she took in his sight. It was him, he was here, he was truly alive and well. "I was- I thought-" She didn't continue, turning instead and slipping her arms around his waist, holding him tightly. Her shoulders shook, unable to contain the welling emotion that burst out of her.

"I missed you too," she finally added when she was certain her voice wouldn't break again. "I was so... scared those centurions got you and Meg." She pulled one arm back, resting it against him so that she could touch the side of his face. He truly was there.

He shook his head, no. “We didn’t even know about all of that until Sevari just told us now. I am sorry I wasn’t there for you… something else got Megana and I.” he placed a hand over hers on his cheek, kissing her wrist.

“The forests around here are dangerous, it seems. There’s some kind of dwemer agents in the forests that have sleep poisons and camouflage that captured us. Their leader looked like a researcher… she took some of my blood and tissues.” Zaveed explained, a perturbed glint in his eyes. “Be sure to buy Megana a drink, will you? She’s the reason I’m here and not in Markarth.”

"Damn them," she muttered, her still wet eyes narrowing at the thought that the two had been manhandled in such a fashion. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, reminding herself that there was no need for immediate anger, not when they were alive and well. "I will, promise. I'm just glad neither of you were alone." There were so many questions afloat in her mind, but all of them weren't as pressing as Zaveed's presence.

"I never realized two days could feel like a decade," she said quietly, blinking away the remaining tears. "I was relieved when we finally reached this place, Falkreath, but now I'm truly at ease." Loosening her hold on him, she brought her other hand up to frame his face before leaning in, pressing her lips against his for a small moment. At last her smile seemed to have returned.

Zaveed wiped Sirine’s tears with his thumb. “I’m… sorry you felt that way. I’d been so busy trying to survive, and Megana and I had a lot of ground to cover. It was hard to think of much else, but I knew I’d see you before long. I am so sorry I made you worry, it was never my intention. I’m used to being on my own, I am still coming to terms that there’s someone who waits for me at the end of the day.” he admitted with a slight shake of his head. “You should know it’s going to take more than a few ill-tempered Dwarves to keep me from you.”

That brought out a hint of laughter from Sirine. "Yes, I probably should have known better." She looked down at her lap, contemplating for a second before looking up and speaking again. "You don't have to be sorry or apologize, Zaveed. Worry is just something that happens when you care about someone. I'm sure if I was missing, you would feel the same. I'm just happy we're both safe and sound and I get to see your handsome face again." Hoping to lighten the mood, she gave him a wink.

"Here, have something to drink... I'd say it's something of our tradition now, hm?" She reached out and took hold of the bottle, settling it on his lap in offering.

“Ah, you know me so well.” Zaveed grinned, taking the bottle gratefully, holding aloft in a cheers. He put the rim to his lips, not bothering to ask what it was going to be, and when the liquid hit his pallet, it was not exactly what he was expecting; it just tasted like slightly bitter and fruity water.

“Diluted?” he asked, perplexed. “I didn’t think Nords believed in such things…” he joked, before looking to Sirine curiously. “Is this a little quirk of yours I didn’t know about, or maybe you just wanted some water?”

"Ah, sorry," Sirine replied quickly, seeming a little sheepish. "I should have gotten you something from inside..." She paused at his question, biting down on her lip in an uncertain fashion, unsure of what to say.

"I don't normally drink," she finally admitted, eyeing Zaveed. "I like to keep my wits about me, but drinking only water doesn't make a good impression. At least that was what I felt when I first... well, started on the unsavoury path of piracy. Impressions are what take you far in the world- a girl who couldn't even handle a few drinks? Who would respect her?" A quick exhalation of breath, and she continued. "I couldn't drink though... not after what had happened. I just-" She forced herself to stop, shaking her her. "Sorry."

The Khajiit set the bottle down gently, pulling Sirine into himself. “There is nothing to be sorry for.” Zaveed replied gently. There was still so much they didn’t know about each other, the scars they carried with each of them. “When you’re ready to talk about it, I will be here for you. If you want, I’ll set the bottle down when you’re around. I don’t want you to feel pressured, or to feel you have to act around me. I helped you escape a terrible life, and I do not wish to make you feel as if you are marching steadily into another because I am too arrogant to listen.”

Sirine leaned against the khajiit, nodding slightly, allowing herself to feel comforted by the warmth he emitted. "You've done anything but," she replied, feeling a little composed after hearing his understanding words. "I don't want you to stop anything... I-" She looked up him and gave him a small smile. "I feel I can drink when you're there, because I trust you, Zaveed. I know you won't take advantage of me even if I'm inebriated and out of my senses." She hesitated slightly before strengthening her will, reminding herself that the man who held her had always been completely open about himself, the good and the bad. He deserved the same honesty from her.

"The last time I drank too much, I woke up with these scars, ripped clothes and in a lot of pain." She lifted her hands, and though she couldn't clearly see the dark marks around her wrists, she was quite sure Zaveed could. "Things had been steadily... going from bad to worse for me and Bakih after my older brothers betrayed us and ruined any attempt at the two of us getting back on our feet, but being... taken by those pigs broke me." She herself was amazed at how calm she sounded as she told him her darkest secret. Perhaps it was the relief of finally telling someone? She didn't know. "I thought that man in the tavern was offering me a chance to work on his ship, but clearly I had been wrong. I'd decided from that day onward that the world was a bitter place that only took from me, so I would take back what I could."

“Bastards.” Zaveed’s teeth grit together, knowing all too well the invasive and haunting experience Sirine was speaking of firsthand. He saw her scars, and now he knew the story, they took on an entirely new meaning. “Had I known you then, I would have stopped at nothing until every single bastard had paid with blood for what they had done… I would have staked them down at low tide and let the sea decide their fate.” he growled, intaking a heavy sigh before composing himself somewhat. She didn’t need vengeance; it was too late for that. She needed comfort and support, to know that she would never suffer like that again.

“Nobody broke you, Sirine. Look at how proudly you stand now, how willing you were to act when the opportunity presented itself.” He took her gently by the head and brought their brows together. “You risked everything to save Bakih, knowing how much danger it would present to you, and you didn’t question it. You chose to trust me and help me when you had no reason to believe I was going to honour you; those aren’t the actions of a broken or weak woman, they’re those of the woman I feel can help me find a better tomorrow and does not balk at the things I have done.”

He kissed her brow, smiling. “Damaged does not mean broken.” he said again.

Sirine let out a soft chuckle, closing her eyes and nodding. "Those words are magic to my ears," she admitted. "Perhaps I'm just turning into a sentimental softhearted lass?" It was a joke, but she truly appreciated his support, and with his knowing that part of her past, she felt as if yet another invisible weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

Threading an arm around his waist once more, Sirine reached under her cloak with her free hand to pull the septim from underneath so that it lay above the dark material, glinting in the dim light provided from a dying lantern by the door. "This was enough for me to realize you weren't like the many others." Her mouth curved upward into a soft grin as she gently nudged him with her head, thereafter nestling under his chin with a content sigh, enjoying the sound of each heartbeat, the feel of every breath he took. It was such a contrast from the hard pirate most people saw on a daily basis, but the truth was she was not that person when Zaveed was there- she was simply Sirine. "I am wholly happy you took my spot that day."

“No, you aren’t getting soft; I’m just sharpening a blade. Nothing soft about you.” Zaveed grinned, chuckling. “It was a rather clever spot for me to decide to die in, wasn’t it? I knew you’d find me, obviously. Captain Greywake always has an escape plan.” he teased, feeling lighter knowing both were safe and sound… and that Sirine had felt so strongly about his absence. It just affirmed that they were making the right choice.

"Ahh... so it was all planned then, was it? You were just waiting to woo me, were you?" Sirine smirked at him, reaching up with her finger to gently poke his nose with the tip. "You know, Sevari once mention something about me being swept off my feet but I quite like to think I'm doing the sweeping." She winked. "I had my nets all ready there to catch you." She chuckled as well, thinking of that fun filled night where she had managed to pull the brooding Ohmes-raht out of his chair to dance whilst Zaveed and Maj chatted away. It had been a fun and almost familiar experience.

"Did you ever think you would end up someplace like here, Zaveed?" she asked after a moment. "I certainly hadn't... I never even travelled that far into Hammerfell, truth be told. It’s a little funny, but I’m neither used to extreme heat or the extreme cold. I don’t think I want to be here where the snow begins to fall, no matter how much the Nords in our party seem at glee about it."

“Tell you, and ruin the air of mystery?” Zaveed grinned. “Perhaps you were the one with the plan all along, it’s always a pleasant change of pace when one is surprised for a change.”

He thought about her second prompt, shaking his head. “Goodness, no. The seas up here are filled with ice and biting cold, the food tastes like crap, and you have to wear entirely too many layers to be comfortable. This wasn’t a place I ever decided to come on my own volition, and hopefully when this is all said and done, hopefully the last. I’m quite fond of waters that are warm to the touch, that people would pay good sums of gold to visit. I’ve seen a good chunk of the world, I think I know where suits my tastes… somewhere where wine flows freely and the rains do not chill you to the bone.”

"It seems the mead's flowing freely today," Sirine pointed out, though it was with a nod and chuckle. "Warm waters, hm?" The chuckle quieted to a knowing smile. "That is something I can agree with- I expect the waters here are always cold to the touch whether it is winter or not. Not at all like the waters near Gilane or Anvil." She closed her eyes and her smile widened. "I can see it all here." She tapped the side of her head before continuing. "Golden white sands, blue green waters, white clouds in the sky."

Opening her eyes, Sirine reached out to take his hand in hers. "When this is all over, what do you say we sail that way? It would be nice to visit once more..." Who knew, perhaps her mother was still alive and residing in her Anvil home.

“I’ll admit to a certain fondness for the Gold Coast, and the Southern shores of Hammerfell.” Zaveed said, entwining his fingers around Sirine’s. “I think that sounds to be a lovely plan, Sirine. We’ll find somewhere quiet to let the war pass us by and listen to the songbirds and the waves kissing the shore. After all of this, I think I’d like to try a life that doesn’t involve fighting any longer. It’s time to give peace a chance.”

"You paint a pretty picture," Sirine replied, smiling as she looked at their hands together, feeling a warm glow within. "You mentioned the other night about finding that young boy inside? Well, maybe I can find that Sirine inside me as well. Maybe we can finally live a life we weren't forced into, but one we choose, one where we better ourselves and become..." She paused as she searched for the words. "Better versions us, or even the best if that’s possible." Her grip on his hand tightened a little as she lifted it and pressed a lingering kiss to his knuckles.

He raised her knuckles to his lips, offering the slightest impression of a kiss and an inviting smile, returning the gesture before kissing Sirine on the lips. “With you, my dear, anything is possible. First we need to earn that future, and then we do whatever it is our hearts tell us to do. But it’s cold out on this patio on our lonesome, why don’t we join in the festivities? The fire looks fine… and so does that dancer.” he said with a mischievous wink. “Think I could convince you to try something like that on?”

"For you, my dear, anything is possible." Sirine cheekily returned his words to him. "I'm unsure if I'm as flexible as she is, but perhaps that is simply something you can help me work on, hmm?" She raised an eyebrow at him, implications many before ending with a wink. "For now though, yes, the fire sounds good." Her eyes softened as she continued to gaze at him. "Perhaps we'll have a drink or two as well."

“One or two.” he agreed with a reassuring smile, standing up and offering a hand for her to get to her feet. “Come now, a party awaits, and personally I’d love to forget the feeling of being jabbed by pine needles every time I’ve gone to sleep for weeks for a few hours.”

"I trust my arms are a better alternative," Sirine replied with a chuckle as she allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. Hugging his arm close to herself, she led the way back to the door. If he was there, there really was nothing for her to worry about.
*peeks*
Most definitely! I love my romance, reading and writing it, but it's never the main dish, it's like the fries to my RP burger. When I see a list of pairings, my mind automatically assumes that the author wishes romance to be the main plot point. Nothing wrong with that, but it's just not for me.
I'm not one who likes decoration- there is beauty in simplicity. That being said, I'm not really fond of bare minimum interest checks myself, and especially those that are bullet points which include pairings of this x that. That's actually my biggest turn off. Second to that would probably be when people wish to write with only a specific gender, like a male asking for a female- that honestly makes me very uncomfortable.

I like to see actual plots and ideas, and if those are barebone, I'm fine with that. I just wish to know that the person has put some effort and is not solely relying on me to come up with the story and eventually lead it.
Is there room for any more, or that's that?
The Road Goes Ever On and On...


Odin’s Birbs & Skadi




17th Sun’s Height - Morning
Near Falkreath…





Meg let out a small groan as she slowly pushed herself to a sitting position, leaning heavily on her hands as she blinked away the drowsiness from her eyes. Morning's light was streaming through the boughs of the trees that kept vigil over the edge of Lake Ilinalta, where Meg and Zaveed had decided to stop for the night. It had been a long two days of travel, especially when the initial sense of victory faded to anxiety and fear that they may very well be caught. The paths they had to take were rough; perhaps they no longer traveled through daunting mountains, but rocky hills nonetheless were no easier to traverse, and by their second night Meg found herself rather exhausted. She tried to hide it from plain sight, not willing her only companion to see she was feeling some strain, but she was quite sure it was noticeable.

Still, this was actually familiar territory for her and that was something uplifting. Letting out yet another groan, Meg finally stood up, dusting the dirt and pine nettles off of her clothes before stretching out her stiff muscles; a smile came to her lips when she heard her back give a satisfying crack. With that done, she made her way to the lip of the lake, happy to wash the sleep away.

Carefully hunkering down, unwilling to slip and fall into the water or worse, hurt herself, Meg washed up. It was hard not to enjoy the familiar feeling of cold water against her skin, which did more than drive her sleep away. She cupped her hands together and gulped down a couple of handsfull before standing up once more. Turning around, she looked back to her sleeping spot, ready to retrieve her weapons-

Her mouth twitched downward. Oh, righ', they're gone. Well... s'pose it's better t'be alive without 'em than dead an’ with.

Zaveed had knelt beside Megana, placing his hands in the shallows of the water before completely submerging his head for several seconds, a steady stream of bubbles streaming and popping around his head. When he emerged, he let out a relieved gasp before sitting on his ass, beginning to pull his boots off of his feet.

It was funny how a shared ordeal brought two people together; ordinarily, Zaveed and Megana wouldn’t have said more than a few polite words together, but after Meg’s quick thinking and resourcefulness, both seemed to be home free and having slept alongside one another and taken turns on watch, as well as scavenging what food they could find, the Khajiit felt a closeness and fondness for the Nord and found her to be most agreeable company. Oftentimes companionship and being forced with one person for two days strained even the best of friendships, but if anything, they both kept each other’s spirits up. Zaveed doubted even spending time with Sevari would have been anywhere near as pleasant.

“So, how much further do you think? I dreamt of a sugar steak as large as my head last night, and I nearly cried for how divine it seemed. Then I woke up to the sound of two squirrels fucking before I could even take a bite.” Zaveed sighed, shaking a pebble from his boot and flexing his toes. “Should’ve killed the damn squirrels.” he muttered ruefully.

Meg's mouth twitched yet again, but this time into a smile that shifted to a laugh, finding the khajiit man's words a little too hilarious to simply stay quiet. "Looks like I gotta be used t'that sorta thing cuz t'was the sun tha' woke me up." She pursed her lips, trying to remember what she had dreamed of before shaking her head. "I can' remember wha' I saw. Maybe a good thin' though, no nightmares!"

Chewing on her lips and turning back towards the creek with her arms akimbo, she looked away from where they had come from and in an eastward direction instead. "Hrm... If I'm thinkin' right... we should pro'ly try an' find a safer plac an' wait awhile..." She cast an unsure glance in Zaveed's direction. "I'm thinking the others must be headin' this way too?" At least that was her hope, she really didn't want to think of them caught by the dwemer. "If we go on jus' a li'l bit longer, maybe a couple o' hours, we could reach Falkreath. I..." Again she hesitated before blurting it out. "I dunno if the dwemer's already took it down but maybe it's still doin' fine. It could be worth checkin'."

Zaveed nodded tiredly, slipping his tired feet into the water. At least this felt kind of like home. “We’ve no idea what the Dwemer have done with the cities here, or if they’ve even occupied, attacked, or razed them all.” he remarked thoughtfully, letting the water slip between his clawed toes. When was the last time he’d walked this much? Was walking always this exhausting? He couldn’t remember; there was only so much space on a ship deck to stretch one’s legs, and portside towns tended to have everything close enough for a drunk man to find his way from his ship to the nearest tavern or brothel without much fuss. This land of finger-sized bugs that were like irritatingly miniscule vampires and animals that screamed worse than gulls was taking some adjustment on his part.

“Way I see it, if Falkreath is unmolested or merely occupied, we’re simply a pair of travellers with a hunting knife that probably won’t arouse suspicion and we can get food and wait for the others… I assume that if they’re looking for us, they’d head there, or more likely, the last time we’d seen four walls was in Gilane. Supplies, food, and soft beds are hard siren calls to ignore, believe you me.” he looked over to the Nord with icy-blue eyes and a slight smile. “Besides, the two of us have been ducking and weaving from ghosts for the past two days. If the Dwemer were going to catch us again, they would have. I’d say we’re pretty good at this scouting thing; we can see what the town is like without anyone knowing we’re there. I say it’s our best bet.”

"Yeah." Meg smiled and returned Zaveed's smile, feeling somewhat sorry for the poor man. For his first time in Skyrim, it seemed as if the land had conspired to make it his worst time here as well, and that was such a shame. "I think we make a good team, eh? Me an' you, sneakin' 'roun' like no one's business." She gave him a silly thumbs up, though her cheery mood was interrupted by a low rumble that was discernible to both their ears. Sheepishly patting her stomach, the Nord woman scratched her head with her other hand.

"Tha' bein' said, how 'bout I go an' try t'find us sommat to eat? It's still a walk an' it's gonna be a painful one with empty tums." She looked away from him, shading her eyes in hopes to see something food-worthy around them. "Bah, if only I had my bow..." Scowling slightly, she glanced at Zaveed. "Yer missin' your axes too, sorry 'bout tha'. Kinda feel like I never saw you withou' 'em, t'be honest."

Zaveed returned the thumb’s up, slumping down, back into the grass. “I’ll get a new set, I’ve gone through a few axes in my time. Always end up calling them the same damn things, anyways. The Dwemer-made things were too heavy for my tastes, anyways.” he said, ignoring the rumblings in his own stomach. He was no stranger to hunger.

“I’d offer my services, but unless it has gills, I’m afraid I’m not sure how to catch food on land, and if you told me to find some berries or mushrooms or whatever the hell grows in these lands, I’d find the kind that give you explosive shits before killing you.” he chuckled, rubbing his eyes with his palms. “You’re from these parts, aren’t you? Your spirits seem to be high, despite everything we’ve gone through since crossing the border.”

It was nice to hear words that had her brooding over losing her weapons shift into a laugh. "I am!" Finally quieting her giggles, Meg was unable to keep the pride out of her voice when she replied his question. "I'm sorry it ain' been real nice to ya, but Skyrim's where I'm from an' been m'home 'til I left for the Jerall expedition." She stomped on the ground. "This here's not my usual wanderin' ground, but I've been 'round here 'nough not t'get lost I s'pose. The Reach though... I'd keep outta there. So maybe in a way I'm also kinda glad we're movin' east!"

She looked up at the sky before looking to Zaveed, giving him a smirk. "Y'know, it could be worse, like for real? There used t'be dragons flyin' 'round these parts, shoutin’ an’ breathin’ fire or frost. Sure made wanderin’ hard. The Dovahkiin took care o' that though, thank Mara."

Zaveed had heard stories about dragons, but he had a hard time picturing massive lizards flying around. How would that even work, he wondered with a slight smirk. Then again, he never thought he’d see a ship fly, and the Dwemer sure cleared up that conception in a hurry. “I’ll have to take your word for it, something that flies around is hardly a sporting fight, is it?” he asked, regarding some puffy white cloud with fleeting interest, imagining the large winged lizard darting between the floating cream-like clouds.

"Skyrim is beautiful." Zaveed conceded before he gave up an amused snort. "It's funny, I have never been this far in land in my entire life. The world seems impossibly huge to me now I've walked a quarter of it." He held a hand in front of his eyes, inspecting his claws. "I didn't think it was possible to feel so homesick."

Meg returned her glance skyward, a look of understanding passing over her features as she thought over Zaveed's words. "Nah, it’s very possible," she finally replied, looking over at the Khajiit once more. "M'whole life I wanted t'go out an' see the rest of the world, not jus’ stay in one town an’ be like… someone who lugged crates of mead. Skyrim, treasure huntin’ an’ tomb raidin’, tha’ was jus' the beginnin', y'know?" She laughed, but it was one filled with scorn for herself. "When I left on this trip, I was thinkin' I'd be in for an adventure, that I'd come outta the dwemer ruins with loads o' shit t'sell, make lotsa septims, head out an' see what else there's t'see. Tamriel's so big, righ'?"

Half smile twisting her lips, Meg shook her head disdainfully at how naive her thoughts then had been. "We left the mountains after all that... disaster, headed to Imperial City. Didn't take more'an three days for shit t'go down. Honest, I though' I was gonna die. I never saw so many dead... so much blood..." Her lips trembled and her hands curled into fists, remembering how she'd barely managed to sneak through the streets of corpses before escaping with the rest. "We went t'Skingrad from there... that's abou' where we met up with a lot o' the others, Raelynn, Gregor, Jaraleet..." She paused, scuffing the ground with her boot before continuing. "Had t'leave again ‘cause of the Dominion forcin’ its neb there, headed for Anvil, took us wha’, ten days? Over there-"

Biting her lip, she shook her head vehemently, the memory of Rhea’s death still too raw for her to mention. "Sorry, didn' mean t'blather. Jus’... I know how y’feel, bein’ so far from what yer used to. It ain’ easy, y’feel like y’don’ know anythin’, y’feel lonely, alone… Guess tha’s why I finally feel a li’l free again. The land, the sky, the air, it’s all what I’m used to. Even if I havta go roun’ skulkin’, it’s still my home.” Damp green eyes met ice blue ones and she smiled. “I’m bettin’ when ya get back to the sea, you’ll feel good again.”

“Most assuredly.” Zaveed agreed with a wry smile, a sympathetic glint in his eye. Megana’s story was certainly one he empathized with, even if it was his own nation that was responsible for a large part in her personal tragedy. The Dominion, the Empire, whatever the Dwemer clans would one day call their union… they were all the same. The common person suffered no matter who held the yolk, and Zaveed knew all too well what that was like as a boy who felt his only option was to escape Senchal on a ship. What a choice that was.

Sevari, likewise, was a man who was twisted and used by the Empire, even if he thought they treated him better than anyone else ever did or would. ”Hey boy, want to avenge your family? Become our knife in the dark and slaughter more families for us and we’ll make it happen.” they said, giving a grieving young boy a door down a darker, more insidious path. Zaveed doubted his brother had ever truly been happy, and he felt like Sevari would break if he ever allowed himself a moment to let himself be free of some ass-minded sense of obligation to an Empire that had already tried to murder him with his biological brother once already. Had he ever had companionship that he didn’t suspect ulterior motives or hostile intent? Did he trust anyone?

Maybe there was no saving the broken man who wore Sevari’s skin, but Zaveed wasn’t about to give up on him. Maybe one day Marassa and Sevari would make up, maybe one day none of them would have to pick up a blade again and actually be a family like they were supposed to be this entire time.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Zaveed of Senchal was, if anything, a pragmatist. He didn’t truly believe in fairy tales, despite entertaining the allure, afterall.

He realized that his countenance must have had a dark cloud hanging over it, so he shook his head, and forced himself to smile. “Sorry, you just reminded me of family. Truth be told, I’m surprised you’re so accepting of who and what I am, Megana. Agent of the Dwemer, Privateer for the Dominion… the allegiances I’ve held have brought you no small amount of discord and horror.” Zaveed said, letting out a long breath, holding it as he collected his thoughts.

“I didn’t ask for the life I’d been put on, and my loyalty was always to my brother and sister before anything, no matter what colours I wore. I needed to survive, I had to survive. I’ve had so many people call me a coward or a traitor or any other colourful turn of phrase to describe me for doing just about every choice I’ve made. I’ve tortured and murdered, I’ve plundered and destroyed so many lives along the way, I can’t say I blame them. I was never truly loyal to the Dominion; it was something I was born into and then forced to serve. Why question the source of your income and food when you grew up without?” he asked, sitting up, placing an arm over his knee as he stared out over the water.

“Then Sevari came back into my life and complicated it all, his job he gave my crew that ended up losing my ship and everyone I’ve served with for years and years notwithstanding. People have called me craven for taking the Dwemer’s deal; serve them and maybe I could earn my independence and have a place in this new empire. Thing is, all I did was hand my leash from one master to the next, and I cared not for either of them. I’m still that scared, starving young cub in the streets of Senchal who would gladly break the law if it meant going to sleep with a full stomach. I would have still been with them had the Dominion not come back into my life and my stupid brother decided his idiot agenda of vengeance was more important than what family he had left.” Zaveed’s voice was terse, his fingers flexing irritably as he stared unblinking ahead.

“Sevari would have died, and he blames the man my sister took as a lover for his father’s crimes. He refused to carry out his personal vendetta because of that, and that is what ended up having him tossed in a cell… and he still thinks Marassa hates him even though she was the one who gave him the fucking key to get out. I don’t know what to do with the man, but if he keeps walking this idiot path of his, he’s going to die miserable and alone and I’m going to lose him again!” Zaveed’s voice reached a crescendo, nearly shouting, before he caught himself and he seemed to deflate. He leaned forward, his arms wrapped around his knees as his chin rested upon them, letting out a heavy, defeated sigh.

“I try not to let people see that their hatred and distrust wear me down, what do I care? I am Zaveed of Senchal, the creature in the dark that hunted and tortured so many of you, took so much of it. It doesn’t matter if I feel guilt for what I did, even if you lot were my enemies, nothing I say or do will ever remove the taint of who I was from their eyes.” Zaveed sniffed, wiping at his nose with a thumb. “Look, Megana… all I have left is Sevari and Sirine and I am so scared to lose them, but a part of me knows I’m never going to have my family back, and that I can never rest easy or be appreciated or trusted by these people. Alkosh knows what the hell they’re thinking about us right now; they probably think I murdered you and cooked you for breakfast or some shit. It’s just who I am to them.”

Unable to stop herself, Meg wordlessly walked over and wrapped her arms around the Khajiit man, ignoring her own sniffles and tears as she held him tightly. It hurt her deep inside, hearing the way he spoke and knowing that deep down it was probably true. Who could blame the others for thinking that about him? She herself had been skeptical about the man, but the last one month, and most especially these last two days had proven to her that it was unfair to keep looking at Zaveed with narrowed, doubting eyes.

"Yeah- well-" She sniffled and swallowed, the lump in her throat hard and painful. "Well, I don' think tha'. Y'didn' havta stay an' help us, y'didn' havta come all the way t'Skyrim, y'didn' havta do lotsa shit y'did with the group, but y'did." She let out a breath, shaking her head. "I tol' Jaraleet, I tol' Sevari, an' I'mma tell you too- y'all aren' bad people. When- when I got t'Gilane, I didn' know what t'do, I didn' know who or what I could trust, I didn't know anythin'. But one thin' I learned real fast was tha' I couldn' let m'self be taken down tha' dark road of mistrust an' hate.

"What y'did was bad... but it ain' any worse than Jaraleet, Sevari... Gregor... an' I think it ain' right t'judge you an' look at you with narrow eyes when it ain' like the rest o' us are squeaky clean. We all had diff lives an', well, I don' wanna be the kinda person who's gonna forget m'own deeds an' point fingers. At least… at least yer hones’ an’ never hid anythin’ from us."

That earned a smile and no small amount of surprise as Megana embraced Zaveed. He let her hold onto him, and even leaned into it somewhat, the sudden physical contact something that felt more comforting and reassuring than words ever could be. “I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that. Thank you.” he said sincerely, the dark cloud lifting with the Nord’s forgiveness and sympathy. “I promise you that I am trying my best to be someone I can be proud of, and the only way for the rifts to heal, even if they scar badly, is for everything to be spoken truly and honestly. It’s funny how nearly dying puts life into perspective.” he said, squeezing Megana’s wrist.

“Truth be told, a big part of me still being around is because I know Sevari wouldn’t give up this little adventure of ours, and I’ll be damned if I’m ever turning my back on him. The other part is Raelynn.” Zaveed admitted. “I still don’t know why she chose to spare me when she had every reason not to… she told me it was compassion, and that I should earn it…” he suddenly let out a laugh. “I suppose I let down her last condition for my salvation; she asked me to leave all of you alone. And normally I’m so good at honouring terms…”

"Yer welcome," Meg replied after a moment, tightening her arms for a moment before loosening them, though she maintained the embrace nonetheless, feeling as if Zaveed needed it... truth be told, she probably needed the hug as much as he did though. Dealing with feelings and hardships rather than ignoring them or drinking them away was still a new turn for Meg, and if a hug or two could help, then by Mara, she would give and take all of them.

"Well, I'm glad you, Sevari an' Sirine stayed," she added, smiling. "Sevari scared the shit outta me, I though' he hated me t'be honest, but turns out I was wrong. Sirine... she seemed so tough, intimidatin’, but turns out she's actually kinda nice, what with teachin' me how t'write better. An' you yerself... it ain' been ideal traipsin' 'roun' here but it kinda reminded me of when I used t'wander with my friend."

Her smile wavered as she finally let go, leaning back to look at Zaveed. It was hard for her to imagine all he’d had to go through, the decisions he’d been forced to take, the choices that lead him to live his life the way he did until finally finding himself at death’s doorstep. If she looked back at her own upbringing, despite the lack of a mother, a busy, haggered father, and the slums she’d spent her time in to abate loneliness and boredom, she had to admit she was lucky. Stendarr had shown mercy on her time and time again. Even now… despite all the troubles caused by the dwemer returning, there was so much to be grateful for. Would she have stayed with her companions and created such bonds otherwise? Would she have grown and learned more about herself without the trials and tribulations the group had gone through?

“Sometimes I wonder if it was all meant t’happen,” she said quietly, looking to the water. “I know, it seems stupid t’think like tha’...” The last part was added hastily as she recalled Sirine’s words on the matter a few days earlier. “Still, I look at all the good an’ the bad an’... even if some things still hurt so much I can feel it inside like a rusty knife stabbin’ me in the-” She paused sheepishly and then continued. “I know I’m not alone, y’know? Not anymore.”

Zaveed smiled, pulling his feet out of the water to let them dry out. “No, you are not. And I’m not, either. But I try not to worry too much about fate or destiny or any such thing because what purpose does a life where you aren’t accountable for your own actions serve?” he asked. “Every mistake I’ve made, or bad thing forced upon me, it was the result of choices that I or someone else made for me. The afterlife is more of a scorecard for how noble or dastardly you were in life rather than how well you dance to a master’s beat, for the most part… I’m sure Daedric cultists would disagree.” the Khajiit laughed, standing up and stretching so his shoulders and back would begin to pop a bit.

He turned to look at her with a shrug. “But I’ll tell you what we do have control over; finding something to eat. Come on, show this scourge of the sea what he can do to fill our bellies.”




“Say, ‘it is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.’” Zaveed said, enunciate each word before slipping another blackberry between his teeth. Megana and him had made good time from Lake Ilinalta and were closing on Falkreath, and to their pleasant surprise, no signs of the Dwemer, or conflict for that matter, disturbed them. They walked a bit more freely along the road, caution giving way to fatigue and the promise of a long journey’s end.

"Uh..." Meg rubbed the back of her neck before bringing her hand up to her face, patting it vigorously as if that would help her pronounce the words exactly as he said it. "It- it's a pleasure t'meet yer 'quaintance." She perked up after that, eyeing Zaveed in a fashion that would remind anyone of a child waiting to be praised. "How's tha' then?"

“Closer! You need to enunciate every syllable.” Zaveed replied kindly. “‘To meet your, and it’s your, ahquaintance.’”

"Hmm..." Meg cleared her throat rather audible before taking a deep breath. Slowly. "To... meet..." She paused- did she really pronounce it any different?- "... YOUR... ah-quaintance." She pursed her lips a little, letting out a puff of air like something slowly deflating. "Okay, lemme- LET ME- try again."

Clearing her throat yet again, this time tapping at her collarbone as she did, she once again put herself to the test. "It IS a pleasure to meet your AHquaintance." Her eyes widened and she looked at the khajiit once more. "Was tha' better?"

Zaveed grinned widely, clapping his hands together. “Well done! You’ve improved quite considerably since we started, I admire your tenacity and ability to see it through. It can be rather difficult to buck off certain habits and experience you’ve taken for granted, but here you are.” he said with an encouraging pat on Megana’s back.

“Just remember to take your time when you speak, mean every word. I never received a formal education, but I quite enjoyed books when I learned how to read, and I was constantly surrounded by men and women who were masterful orators and could sway a man’s heart with nothing but his words and how they spoke them.” the Khajiit said, balling a triumphant fist in front of him. “I wanted to learn how to do that for myself.”

"I'mma try," Meg promised, realizing she probably just said that wrong too, but much too excited by the praise and encouragement she just received. "I know that lotsa people don' really take me seriously 'cause of how I speak..." She scratched her head again before forcing herself to slow down and continue. "I never read much? Mostly just scuttled 'round as a kid, an- and when we moved to Whiterun again, I was working lots before I left home." It was a struggle to have to actually think and weigh her words rather than ramble on as she usually did around someone she was comfortable with.

“Reading is invigorating, but start off with something short and easy; it’s easy to get discouraged or frustrated if you find a tome that’s thicker than my arm and absolutely dense. I will help you find something you might like, if that strikes your fancy.” Zaveed promised. “I wish I could say the manner in which you present yourself doesn’t matter, that it’s about the content of your character, but unfortunately we live in a world of very shallow and vapid individuals who you only have a few moments to leave a favourable impression. I’ve negotiated trade or a parlay quite a few times where both parties came around to my line of thinking; a favourable outcome for all, as it were. Other times, I’ve prevented bloodshed through nothing more than words and the infliction in which I drove them into my would-be enemies!” he declared with striking enthusiasm, driving a fist into his palm with a meaty thunk.

Zaveed paused for a moment, glancing at the sky above. “Nords are a people of oral traditions and stories, are they not?” the Khajiit asked, side-glancing at Megana. “I’m sure Ysgramor in particular must have been quite the powerful speaker if all he had to do to convince 500 warriors to leave their lives behind, sail to a largely unknown continent filled with brutal, savage elves who called that land home, and then fight to take that land from them in bloody retribution. Likewise, we’ve heard stories down in the Dominion about how Ulfric Stormcloak murdered the High King with his voice… some debate lingers over how literal that is.” he said with a mirthful grin.

"I dunno if I want t'lead so many people anywhere," Meg replied with a little laugh, though she shook her head. "I'm jokin', I know what you mean. Even my Pa talks really well. He never told me much about his parents but I know they were much fancier than my Ma's folks. He pro- probably had lots of books when he was a kid." Speaking of her father brought up unwanted thoughts, and while they were valid, Meg didn't want to darken the light and cheerful mood, so she focused instead on what Zaveed was saying.

"Honestly? I don't think Ulfric shouted anything to death." Meg grinned and shook her head. "Then again, who knows? Maybe he did get trained... he was no Greybeard or Dohvakiin though. But I never got into that sorta shit. Imperials, Stormcloaks? I stayed far away from that sort've thing and did my treasure huntin' instead. Besides, Skyrim for the Nords? Nah. I don’- don’t like that. It’s boring just having the same people around. That’s why I liked Riften, there were all sorts there even though it was shady and stinky even."

Zaveed caught a slight change in Megana’s tone when she spoke of her father; he knew it too well, it was similar to the anger he felt when thinking about his mother. He didn’t try to offer reassurances or pry, but took her cue and kept moving forward. “Curious how you wouldn’t think any part of the civil war would be in your interest to support… sure you had some opinions of what your province would have been like if one side or another would have won?” he asked. “You said it yourself,” Zaveed puffed out his chest and beat it with his fist, poorly mimicking a boisterous Nord accent. “‘SKYRIM IS FOR THE NORDS!’ sounds dreary and awfully stagnant. What would you have done if they had one, and what would it have meant for your former partner? As I understand it, at least through the lens of Thalmor propaganda and reports, Khajiit are barred from Nord cities and often butchered on the roads by bandits or agents of the Stormcloaks.”

Hesitant to say something, Meg’s eyes shifted to follow the path they were taking rather than looking at Zaveed. While she loved her home, it was far from perfect and she never very well that what he had said he'd heard wasn't completely false. "I didn' think it had anythin' to do with me then," she admitted, fiddling with the hem of her tunic as she walked, kicking a stray rock to the side when it caught her eye. "I think I though' maybe if I ignored it, it'd all just go away an' not touch me." Her mouth twisted, a despondent half smile lingering there. "That's kinda how I spent most've my life... I thought bein' nice an' keepin' away from complicated things would make things easier. J'raij was safe by himself, an' he was with me, so what could go wrong?

"I learned the hard way that I was wrong." She finally looked away from the ground and up at the khajiit. "Not about him- that was diff... but..." Meg gaze turned rueful. "About Jaraleet. About Gregor. How I just ignored even when I felt there was somethin' more there. Or even 'bout the invasion. I never got myself involved in somethin' like we're doin' now, to stop the dwemer from takin' over an' occupying lands. I love Skyrim, I love my people and I want Skyrim to be free... but that doesn't mean I don't want others to be able to stay here, live here."

She let go of her tunic and let out a loud breath. "It's stupid, I know. Ain' like that kinda thing could happen anytime soon. But I think I know know if I wanna see some change, I can' just ignore shit. I gotta do what I gotta do, even if it's hard."

"What was that again?" Meg smiled, green eyes brightening a little. "It is good to be brave."

Zaveed looked at Megana quizzically. “You’re familiar with the Ahzirr Traajijazeri? I didn’t figure you for one to empathize with nationalist Khajiiti crime syndicates.” the privateer remarked with a wry grin. He changed tact, his expression and tone taking a much more serious tinge.

“Look, one of the hardest things to do in life is experiencing it. Every new experience can bring about joy or hardship, and sometimes it can be overwhelming and suffocating… but it’s still worth pressing forward and rewarding your curiosity. Look how much you’ve grown, Megana.” Zaveed said, stopping in his tracks to place a hand on Meg’s shoulder, stepping in front of her.

“Every mistake you’ve made, every bit of misplaced trust, every time you didn’t listen to your gut, it’s like wearing down your skin, but from that grows caulouses. You aren’t soft like you were before, but you still retain the essence of who you are and never let go of that. I don’t think you’re stupid; not in the slightest. You’re learning lessons that take many a lifetime to realize, and you didn’t have to go through what I did.” Zaveed frowned, looking to the side with heavy eyes, his tone softening.

“Don’t doubt yourself and who you are; it’s the one thing in life you know you can rely on. You never have to wonder if your heart and intentions are true and working in your best interests, and you cannot help the actions of others. What they do with your trust says more about them and nothing about you. You’re a good person Megana, far more good than I can ever hope to be, but you’re in a place where you can be that change you want to be for your home now. This isn’t the time to look back; your destiny is ahead of you.” the Khajiit said with a smile, letting her go and going to place his hands on his axes, momentarily forgetting their absence as his thumbs found the hoops they normally resided in, prompting a blink and an embarrassed chuckle.

"Ye- You're a pretty damn smart person," Meg replied, rubbing a little at the corner of one of her eyes, having felt a treacherous drop of salty water trying to escape. Stendarr really did have mercy on her it seemed, introducing her to people who had sound advice and could help push a little at the fog that would often cloud her thoughts. "Mistakes are hard an' they hurt but I guess you're righ'. What I can do, I should, an' leave others deeds to themselves."

Her mouth twisted a little as she looked out at the trees before them, though her mind was elsewhere, remembering memories from years earlier. "When me an' Pa left Riften for Whiterun, it was 'cause of me. I'd fallen into the wrong crowd, an' even though Pa himself wasn't all too clean himself, he knew it wasn't what he wanted for his li'l girl. I really hated him then, y'know? Draggin' me away from the place I felt most me. I knew why he was, but it was like... he had all the fun an' didn' want me to. He did teach me how t'figh' then, told me about my Ma, how she used to be a Companion. I guess he wanted to inspire me? And he did, really.

"When I left home, I wanted t'be somethin' like that. A champion, people'd know me when I walked into town. I used to bounty hunt for a while, but there was a whole lotta competition an’ dishonesty. So instead, I went back t'bein' a thief, just I stole from tombs instead, usin' the skills Pa taught me to wail on draugrs." She sighed a little as she shook her head, looking away from the greenery and back at Zaveed's striped visage. "I do still wanna be that person- I will be that person. Someone to be proud of."

A laugh left her, and she looked a little embarrassed. "I babbled, I'm sorry." Meg scratched the back of her head before letting out an "Oh!" Quickly reaching to her belt, she pulled the elven dagger and held it out for Zaveed to take. "Here, you're well enough t'use it now."

“It’s not as if you cannot follow that dream still.” Zaveed observed, taking the dagger back into his hands with appropriate gravity; his bloodstains still marred the blade, but the moonstone blade and the sapphire pommel still shone brilliantly. “Thank you for holding onto this for me, it’s… probably the most important thing I have that ties me to the past. It represents when the young boy in Senchal gave way to the man I grew into, the death of innocence and all of that other melodramatic sentiment. It proved I was a part of the crew, and the price was the lives of six monsters that were supposed to have taken care of me.” he said solemnly before shrugging. “Oh, well. Such is life.”

He slid the blade back into the sheathe at his back. “Maybe when all is said and done, you can find the Companions yourself and offer your sword. Afterall, I quite imagine someone who had a hand in ending the Dwemer invasion would be quite well regarded, would they not?” Zaveed asked, continuing down the road.

Ahead, a rooftop was visible through the trees, and Zaveed’s heart was elated. “Well, we made it. Warm food and a bath… I’d kill for that about now.” he said dreamily.

"Hopefully we won't havta do any of that," Meg replied, lips turning into a grin as she nudged the khajiit with her elbow. "I dunno when was the last time I've been so happy t'see a city." She was having a hard time forcing herself to remain still, tottering on the balls of her feet as she looked to Zaveed. "Still, if we have to..." She looked to the ground, brow furrowed as her eyes shifted to and fro until finally landing on a large rock, which she kicked up and caught with a hand. "I'm ready t'help. Let's go see how Falkreath's doin'."

“After you, my dear.” Zaveed said with a theatrical bow. The two continued along the road, knowing their destination was not far off. With luck, they would find the others and be able to tell them all that had transpired, and perhaps find that food and bath Zaveed had dreamt about in bated breath.

In the foliage, however, a set of eyes watched them pass, and with the silent movement of a predator, methodically began to close the distance to the duo.
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