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Finally getting a tentative second part up here...Sorry about how long it took me; you wouldn't believe how jealous the Grebsas are when it comes to my writing time. Basically this is throwing Vral's father into the mix.
Elian reined his horse in and dismounted, studiously keeping the displeasure from his face. The Seanni Pack was among the most powerful of the Werewolf Packs and none of this was Rion’s fault, anyway. In fact, Elian would have to thank him for making certain Vral made it to marrying age when not all Werewolves made it to adulthood.
As he strode through the village, he noted the preparations for their Full Moon Feast. Like most educated men, he did not believe in the old wives’ tales about Werewolves. Only a renegade would take advantage of the one night out of every month when they were at their strongest. The rest preferred to spend the night feasting and wrestling in honor of their legendary Wolf Mother.
Rion greeted him in the traditional Werewolf way, with a slap on the shoulders.
“Elian, my old friend!”
Rion gritted his teeth and managed a smile.
“How fares my daughter?” he asked.
“Well. You received my latest letter?”
“Yes. She’s got some initiative, doesn’t she?”
“She knows her rights. Only the best for a future Queen, you know.”
“It’s usually the father who arranges that.”
“Ah. Perhaps I should have asked you.”
That was as close to an apology that Elian was ever going to get. He accepted it.
“What’s done is done. Where is she now?”
“Hunting. She promised she would bring back an elk for the Full Moon Feast.”
Elian sighed. He would have to be sure to give Vral a small falcon. It would, at least, give her an excuse to be out of doors like she was used to once she had moved back into the palace.
“Has she learned to ride the horse I sent?”
“Yes. They seemed to take well to each other.”
“That’s good. I’d like to meet with her when she gets back to camp.”
“I’ll let her know. In the meantime, how about we go for some of that brew you like?”
“Some coffee would be excellent right now. Thank you.”
Vral came back, hauling a large buck on a travois, and Arrassa promptly informed her that her father had arrived. She thanked him patiently, knowing that Arrassa was not to blame for Elian’s city-bound misconceptions. Why anyone would want to spend their lives inside a stone building was beyond her. The few times she had actually been in Elian’s city, it had felt like a labyrinth, and the castle felt like a tomb. She also knew that the current Queen, her mother, disapproved of her for reasons Vral had never understood. Something to do with a scandal that had later been cleared up, but, apparently, the Queen preferred not to remember.
The king could wait. Vral helped process the elk’s meat and then set up a few cooking pots. Elian found her helping Arrassa with an especially difficult fire. Remembering the bruise she had given him the last time she thought he was talking down to her, he knelt beside her. Arrassa abruptly found some other, more urgent chore and went off to give them some privacy.
“In the palace, we have servants who do that for us.”
“Ah. Be sure to give my regards to the servants.”
“Rion and I were just discussing taking you back to the palace after the Full Moon Feast.”
For probably the first time in her entire life, she really looked at the man she barely knew. She had always known it would come to this. Did King Elian really think he could dump her among the Werewolves and then drag her back to the palace at his convenience?
“And what makes you think I want to live in your palace?” she snapped.
“You are my daughter. It’s the proper thing to do. Would it help if I apologized for leaving you here?”
“Not really. Werewolves rarely apologize. They just try to avoid doing something offensive in the first place.”
“Your mother died two days ago. You could at least attend the funeral.”
“May she have a better life in the next cycle.”
It was a back-handed Werewolf insult. Many humans had to think about it for a moment before they unraveled it, which, of course, gave the Werewolf involved time to reach for a handy weapon in case they decided to make an issue out of it. Vral didn’t really need one. If she took a mind to, she could make short work of Elian with her bare hands, and he was no slacker by human standards.
Neither of them was really interested in testing the idea. Vral would try to keep her temper under control and Elian would come back looking like a common brute if he tried to force Vral to return against her will. Neither did he want to beg.
"You are a Princess of Faranna. You have responsibilities."
"Like being bathed like a helpless infant?" Vral snorted. "I am a hunter of Seanni Pack. I don't need anyone to coddle me like a lapdog. You can keep your responsibilities and your palace. I don't need either."
Vral finally got the fire to cooperate, and then walked away. It was just as well. Elian would have tried to hit her if she had stayed. As it was, nearby Werewolves thought beet red was a strange color for a human and wondered if he was ill. Of all the ungrateful things he had ever heard! Danil would have had Vral drowned as an infant if she had gotten her way. She certainly had never tried to find out what happened when her daughter suddenly disappeared one night.
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