We come across Rose Annatar sitting by her campfire in the forest, brushing out twigs from her hair. She’s also rubbing her horns in frustration and, let’s be honest, loneliness. The honoured Stoat Furrbles was many wonderful things, but a good conversationalist was not one of them. There was concern in his clockwork eyes, lots of affectionate boot licks and cuddles with muddy paws, but that was as far as Furrbles’ ability to emotionally comfort went. He was trying his best, but honestly it had been months now and Furrbles was getting a bit sick of all the horn-rubbing and moodiness. Rose tended to get angrier when she was missing company too, and he was so frustrated at all the little flecks of blood gumming up the spaces in between his claws. She never cleaned him properly there.
So the two of them sat next to the slowly dwindling campfire, very much not at peace with the universe and nature, and watched still unfamiliar stars slowly rotate above them. “Do you think we’ll ever be able to find our way home, Rebel?” Rose asked. Furrbles sighed and whined. When she called him Rebel, he just knew it was going to be a long, long night.
But just then, Furrbles flicked back his ears into Advanced Listening Position Alpha-1 and stood up on all paws. Realising that someone or something was about to approach their position, Rose grabbed her crossbow and checked her boot dagger and war blood were in place then casually reclined back. Her hair was a bit twiggy, but she was probably still imposing enough that it shouldn’t have made a difference.
In the event, though, it wasn’t so much a fight that was coming towards Rose as a fighter. The squelch of soft paws quietly on underbrush grew closer, until peeking around the corner of a tree the perfect corner of a pink nose appeared, followed quickly by the purest white snout of the purest white wolf that you could have imagined. But the eyes…the eyes of this wolf glowed turqoise and from the corners of those soulful, hypnotising eyes were two streaks of glowing blue running down its back and tail. Rose gasped with shock, and whispering under her breath in Sylvan she immediately rose to her feet, leaving the crossbow behind her.
Palms outstretched, she flicked her hand to the side and gave a quick order to Furrbles, who literally bowed down to this wolf in gratitude. This was his chance, Furrbles realised. All he needed to do was make this wolf-thingie stick around and he would be free! He didn’t have many brains, but he remembered what had happened a few months ago at this big gathering thing before all the screaming started and he had to rip out a few throats. He wracked his tiny clockwork brain, and vaguely remembered that there were two figures up on a sort of platform, and around them were….yes okay he remembered now. So from Furrbles, strains of a song long since almost forgotten started to emerge and holographic butterflies in a million colours floated around them.
“Kalashtar, whui cin na hi coe?” Rose softly said with her hands outstretched.
For a moment, it seemed like the wolf was not going to answer. Certainly, it lifted up a leg and looked back in the direction it had come from, seemingly ready to run away. But it also glanced back into Rose’s eyes, and who knows what it saw in there. Did it see pain? Did it see loneliness? Did it see another soul lost in Faerun, always wishing for somewhere long since behind her? Whatever it was, it inspired the wolf to trust Rose.
A slight shimmer came over the wolf, and where once was silky fur was now the smooth skin of a woman. Her eyes still glowed, and two lines on her cheek as well. Her long snow white hair was tied with a leather strip into an intricate braid reaching past her shoulders and almost to her hips. A fine set of armour engraved with arcane symbols and the unmistakeable scent of juniper filled the air around her.
Rose took a moment.
“Uhhhmm….hello there. I..uh…well I’m Rose and I’m a big fan of, you know, your people. Kalashtar, I mean. Well like, I know you were a wolf just now. But I’m also a big fan of wolves. There’s nothing quite so majestic as they way you guys, uh gals too, rip out throa…” Rose trailed off as she realised she was rambling.
The vision in white said simply in reply, “I’m Kaia”.
They locked eyes again, and as the music and butterflies moved around them in magic harmony, a moment of trust and understanding was born. They sat down next to each other and started talking to each other, sharing their stories. Those stories are private, and secret, and the endings haven’t been decided yet. So I won’t recount them here, but you will have to trust me when I say that they were stories of great heartbreak and suffering, the sort of painful experiences that lead to stitched up scars stronger than steel.
A bond was born that night, and it only grew stronger as the night turned to day, then to night again. Furrbles was relieved, because he sensed so much more happiness in his mistress. He no longer hand to sit and listen through long exposition sequences, for one thing, which left more time for nosing along the ground looking for little lightning bugs to squish in his paws. You can take the stoat out of the hunter’s box, but you can’t take the hunter out of the stoat.
When they finally decided to break camp and move along, there was nothing left behind but the ashes of a campfire, in which someone had simply written: Rose x Kaia BFF
Ah yes, you way in the back there! Can you repeat the question? What music was Furrbles playing? Well, it was more of a song than music, per se. Ahem. I’ll see what I can do, it went something like this: