She had always loved the night time, especially the balmy nights of late summer and early autumn. When it was dark early enough to see the stars without freezing your ass off.
Aislinn sat on one of the wooden benches that were dotted up one of the paths into the woods, though not quite in them. She was alone, the only company being the sound of the crickets chirping, a sound still strange to her for the nights around her home had always been silent but for maybe the call of an owl on the hunt.
She looked up the hill towards the woods, contemplating taking a hike through them, even in the dark. Had she been at home she would not have thought twice about it, but this was not the grounds of her estate. She did not know these woodlands like the back of her hand.
With a mental shrug she thought what harm could possibly come to her? She knew how to hide should she need to. Getting up, she made her way up the hill towards the treeline.
Some people said that nature was its own church, and Theo was inclined to agree. At least sometimes she could find peace in some quiet place out of doors, which was more than she could say for a large portion of the city. She was not discontent in Nachton, but sometimes it made her tired.
She twisted the grass in her fingers, heard whispers of children playing capture the flag. They were not so real as to make her open her eyes; she knew she was not hearing the voices through her ears, but through some other sense in her mind. Any other time she might have harped on that philosophical point, argued with herself for hours, but not tonight. She let it be, like the spider that crawled over her arm and the grass digging into her back.
Her eyes fell closed. It would be so easy to take a midnight nap here…
A sense of adventure is more precious than pearls.
It was rare that the voices took her by surprise, but Theo had to admit that she’d been caught unaware. She sat bolt upright, her expression startled, and gave a little ‘oh’ when she saw the woman not ten feet away from her, headed down the path.
Aislinn stopped. Had she heard something? Had it been daytime she'd probably have missed it, but in the nights quiet, the muffled 'oh' seemed out of place with the crickets song. She looked around, not afraid but merely wondering who else was out for a nighttime stroll.
Her golden gaze caught sight of someone laying in the longer grass not ten feet from her. She hesitated before speaking, unsure if they would want to be disturbed, but maybe they were hurt.
"Hello?" How odd that her own accent sounded strange to her now after only a short time in Nachton she thought.
Not quite knowing what to say in this situation, but feeling something ought to be said, she chose a statement that seemed to fit the circumstances.
“Hello. You’re not a cop, are you?”
/ooc no worries, think we're figuring it out .
Aislinn blinked. Her, a cop? She couldn't help but laugh at the mental image of herself that it provoked.
"No, I am no cop. I'm just...well, out for a walk in the dark." She realised that it might sound silly, but considering that this woman was also out in the dark, and apparently alone, it might not seem so odd to her. "I used to do it all the time, but I haven't done it since I came here."
She regarded the woman for a moment, she seemed so at ease out here. "So, do you often come here in the dark too?" She smiled softly, not wanting to seem over friendly and scare this woman, but she was a little lonely too and wouldn't mind the company.
Theo stepped closer to the path, eyebrows raised, when the woman confirmed, with amusement, that she was not a cop. She usually knew when someone was laughing –at- her, but there was no malice here. Shrugging lightly in response to the question, she stepped completely on the path, brushing off stickers and weeds as she spoke.
“Mostly I come here to find a place to sit. Sometimes I like to explore too,” she admitted as she tugged ineffectually at a burr caught in her hair, “but I know most of the good spots here.”
Giving up on looking neat, she glanced over at the young lady, rising to her toes and back down again. “So do you want company? Don’t worry – I won’t spoil the surprise,” she added, nodding in the direction of the path. “I’m Theo, by the way.”
She took a few steps down the path without waiting for a proper answer, but caught herself before she took off completely. Sometimes it was hard to remember to wait and let someone speak for herself – the voices could be too sure of themselves, too confident that they knew what a person would –do- when they only knew what that person felt.
"Company would be cool." she replied still smiling, then quickly caught her up.
Theo gave a little curtsey, then took the opportunity to give her ankle-length skirt a good shake. A few more seeds came free, but many more continued to cling stubbornly to her hair and clothing.
Once Aislinn had caught up, Theo continued their now mutually-agreed upon walk through the woods, leading the way down the path until they came to a large white stone. Mounted on the stone was a plaque, which proudly announced that they were now entering the Nachton Arboretum, the land for which had been donated by a very wealthy person that Theo didn’t know. The bottom two thirds of the plaque were devoted to listing the names of the many people who had donated money to the continued maintenance of the woods, some of whom Theo –did- know.
She brushed her fingers along the names, and smiled.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,” she intoned, and then she was walking once more.
/ooc my apologies for my slowness
"Like home." She replied softly. "We had woods like these around the castle."
“What castle?” She hopped a little in spite of herself. “A big castle? Where?”
/ooc okay I'm for reals ready now *hangs head in shame*
Aislinn blinked, realising she had spoken her thoughts out loud. "Oh, nowhere round here. Where I come from, I lived in a castle. Not a big one, but still a castle. It is in the Highlands, and woods like these grow around it on the sides of the mountains down as far as the loch...lake." She added the last word on an afterthought, remembering that not everyone knew what a loch was.
Talking about it made her think more of home than she had since she arrived, but she was not homesick. She knew that chapter of her life was done, and she doubted she would ever return. Her brothers wouldn't miss her much anyway, nor did she miss them, even her twin.
She shook off the thoughts, and smiled apologetically at Theo before observing her discreetly as they walked. She reminded Aislinn of a wild animal, though she couldn't say which. She looked ready to bound off into the woods, and Aislinn wondered if she held back on her account.
Feeling she had contributed to the conversation, she began to walk once more, but then a question occurred to her. “Was there a monster? In the loch? ...Lake? Or...oooooh,” she breathed, as an even better idea occurred to her “were there ghosts in the castle?”
She kept pace with Theo, pausing when the other woman bent to grab a pebble and occasionally gazing deep into the dark woods herself as they went. She listened for familiar sounds, but the wildlife here was a little different. She had even heard there was wolves in this part of the world, though she wasn't sure if she believed it or not. Part of her hoped there was, because she found them fascinating to watch...on the TV. Aislinn was not fond of dogs at all.
“Well,” she began, as though she did not quite know how to discuss matters with a person who did not believe in ghosts, “Well…you don’t have to believe in ghosts to like a good ghost story.” She concluded with a decisive nod and added, on a whim: “I know –lots- of ghost stories.”
"You do?" She asked, half out of curiousity and half to keep conversation flowing. She had not spoken to many people since her arrival in Nachton. Wether she believed in ghosts or not, knowing the local lore and myths might prove useful. "Do you know any local ones? Any monsters in the dark I should watch out for?" Her voice carried a playful tone, half teasing although she didn;t think Theo was the kind of person easily scared by stories.
“Oh, there's all -kinds- of things to watch out for in Nachton.”
Prancing a little, she continued with her wide-eyed act, though there might have been a touch of mischief around the corners of her mouth.
“They're everywhere. On the streets, in the clubs. Even in the churches.” She shook her head as though both saddened and concerned. “You seem like a nice girl. You should keep far away from the likes of them.”
Spinning back around just in time to avoid a particularly persistent root, she threw the punchline over her shoulder with a dramatic take on the local accent. “The boys around here, they'll break your heart in two.”
Quite pleased with herself for her little bout of teasing, she gleefully hopped over a fallen branch before continuing on.
“Actually, the boys aren't too bad. I know lots of them. Cute ones, too,” she added, before Paul could remind her not to brag. “Nah, you just have to watch out for the vampires. They get mean sometimes but if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone...” Skipping blissfully along, she realized that she hadn't actually gotten around to telling one of her many tales, and so she switched into storyteller mode and began at once. She punctuated the story that followed with many dramatic gestures and little hops, altering her inflection from a whisper to a howl as befit the moment.
“...except, of course, for the two Queens.”
“Thousands of years ago, there was an evil vampire named King Darius. King Darius did not believe, as the other vampires did, that the humans should not be interfered with, nor harmed, but taken in gently, for food and companionship through the long years. He delighted in feasting on blood and leaving the source for dead, and took great pleasure in making others in his image. In every city, in every land, he would take a wife, a little queen to call his own, and he would make her like himself, and then lock her up in a tower forever and ever, or hide her in a tomb, or some other horrible place, so that she would not see how evil others of his kind believed him to be, but instead keep her to himself, to do with as he pleased.
And then there was a great war, and the Queens were left to fend for themselves or die, and most perished horribly until only two were left – the dark queen and the light. And some good soldiers came and hid the Light Queen, but the Dark Queen sought out her revenge, and cut off wicked Darius's head, and at last the queens were free.
Both queens were quite beautiful, and both had great powers to have survived such a thing. But in spite of their hatred of the evil King, they were more like him than they knew, for King Darius poisoned everything he made with a terrible madness.
And so it came to pass that these two mad Queens came to Nachton. The Dark Queen took the sewers and the underground places for her own, to rule the blackness with an iron fist, and the Light Queen took to the skies, high in the towers she had stayed locked in so long, to sleep away her inherited madness.
But some day, they say, the Dark Queen will rise up out from the ground, and the Light Queen will waken and come down from her tower, and together they will make the streets flow with blood, as their husband and their father dreamed of so long ago.
Therefore do not, dear mortal, venture into the black places that are the Dark Queen's realm, lest you disturb the mighty one who now commands vast armies to do her bidding. And never dwell long on the roofs of the city, or you may wake the Light Queen before her madness has faded, and bring about a terror the likes of which this city has never seen. Stay on the path, little one, and fear not, but live out your days in innocence of such monstrous things, except in the back of your mind, where the madness is waiting.”
Theo, needing to pause and catch her breath after that long tale, stopped by a twisted, gnarled old tree and plopped down to rest.
“So what did you think?”
"Interesting. I don't think I've ever heard a town history like it." She wasn't really sure what to make of it, or even if the tale was a well known one, but she knew enough about history to know that there was usually an element of truth in it. Unless of course, Theo had just spun a random tale to entertain her. She glanced around their surroundings breifly to hide her indecision. She always tried to keep her flights of fancy away, her vivid imagination often getting her into bother as a child. But often, she secretly hoped that there was more to the world she knew, that there was some mystery she was yet to discover. She knew it childish, but she never stopped hoping.
"So..." she turned back to Theo, her gold eyes studying the other. "Vampires huh?"
“Oh, that’s not even half of it. Everywhere you look, everywhere, there’s a story – I just like that one best.”
She didn’t add that she preferred that tale because it was in part about her – she had been vain enough.
“Vampires are cool. They live so long they go crazy and you never know what they’ll do next.”
A low growl was heard behind her and she froze for a moment before turning to look. When she observed nothing, she turned back to the branch in her hand and released it with a snap.
“I think we should be moving on now.”
With that, she abruptly stood and rejoined the path, walking briskly and speaking over her shoulder.
“There are wolves in these woods.”
/ooc In case I wasn’t clear – she heard the growl by way of her psychometry – there was no ‘real’ growl.
She was pulled out of her thoughts by Theo's sudden alertness. Aislinn followed her gaze with a puzzled frown, wondering what had startled her so, but saw nor heard anything out of the ordinary. Then when she abruptly got up and headed back to the path, Aislinn hesitated. Until Theo mentioned wolves. With that the Scot jumped to her feet and followed, glancing around herself with a strange mix of both terror and fascination. Wolves she did know were real creatures.
The path through the woods formed a large, slightly wobbly jug handle, and soon deposited them about a hundred feet north on the field from which they'd entered. Now that they were out in the open it was easier to remain carefree and unconcerned about the beasts of the forest. She pranced contentedly down the path, calling over her shoulder.
"I don't think anything will bother us here." Thinking a moment, she added. "Anyway, maybe I just got spooked."
"Are there really wolves in there?" She asked with an absentminded wave of a hand back the way they had come.
As they neared the end of the path (or the beginning, depending on one's point of view), Theo slowed her pace, reluctant to end the walk. Finally, though, she turned to Aislinn, knowing their time was at an end.
"I have to go back to the Towers."
It did not occur to her that Aislinn might not know what the Towers were, but she did wonder something else.
"Can you get home okay?"
If Aislinn was human, and all signs pointed to yes, staying out late, alone, and in a secluded area might not be a good thing.
"I could give you a ride."
/ooc She's on her way out