The last thing you remembered was the heat of the sun beating down upon you and the pain and weakness that came with intense hunger. You lay passed out on the ground in the plains, surrounded by dry grasses and no water for miles. The hunting hadn’t been good, and it wasn’t easy for someone on their own. It was a long story how you’d gotten out there on your own anyway, and the stress from it all had simply made it all worse. And so there you laid, passed out on your back, dehydrated and malnourished.
You woke to the soft sound of water purling as it fell from a fountain, a gentle breeze blowing on your skin. You were in a bed made of bagged straw covered in linens and furs. There was a cool wet towel on your (s/c) forehead and a clean blue dress on your body. You didn’t know whether to be frightened or overjoyed. You were obviously being cared for, but by whom? And what were their intentions? You opened your eyes and drank in the sight of the bedroom you were in. The walls were clay and were draped in linens. There were large open windows that took up a lot of the wall space and gave the view of an oasis. There was a garden, a small private garden with steps leading places and a pond with a fountain in the middle. There was a woman in the garden, bent down at the pond with a pitcher in her hands. Her hair was black and long and pulled up into a high ponytail at the top of her head. Even pulled up like that, her hair was down past her knees when she stood. Her catlike eyes were lined with kohl and were a striking cloudy grey. She wore a white skirt and indigo bandeau top, and bore a tattoo on her neck that could only be one thing. The mark of a pride alpha. You suddenly felt a little more in tune with your surroundings, you’d come from a pride like this. But that didn’t make you comfortable by any means. You still were surrounded by strangers. But your mother had looked like the woman in the garden, she’d been the wife of a pride alpha. You felt your confidence build up at the thought of your mother. She’d want you to be brave. You sat up slowly, ignoring the dizziness. “Uhmm… Excuse me?” You called out to her, a little timidly. She immediately looked up at you and grinned. You felt a bit taken aback. Looking at her like that, with a smile on her face and her eyes bright, she was absolutely gorgeous.
“Arin! She’s awake! You ought to let Danny know!” The woman called into the house to who you assumed was her husband. You almost involuntarily relaxed at her warm, saccharine voice. No wonder she was married to the alpha, she was utterly perfect. She stood up and rushed over to you, pitcher of water in hand. She went up the steps and entered the room through the large double doors.”I’m glad to see you’re finally awake. It’s been three days, we were beginning to think you wouldn’t come around.” She said with a giggle, as if what she’d just said was something lighthearted. She picked a cup up off the wooden bedside table and filled it with water from the pitcher. Then she handed it to you. “Drink slowly. Even if you’re as thirsty as I think you are, it’s best to reintroduce these things to your body slowly.” She warned. But god you didn’t care, it had been so long since water had touched your lips and she’d just handed it to you in a glass, looking like a goddess or something. You took the cup hastily and turned it back, pouring it’s contents into your mouth. The water made its way into the wrong pipe and you began to splutter and cough. The woman took the cup from you quickly and set it aside. She began to pat your back as if you were a baby. “I told you, silly. Slowly.” She said with a giggle. She sat down on the bed with you and crawled over to the other side of you. After you had finished coughing, she began to speak again. “So, what’s your name, hmm?” She asked. Suddenly you felt yourself grow nervous. Pride dwelling women were never this friendly. And if this was one of the prides in competition with your old pride, they’d certainly know your name. And they wouldn’t be friendly.
“...What’s yours?” You countered, your suspicion a little obvious. The woman simply laughed again.
“It’s Suzy. I’m matron of the Mycaruba pride. And I get it, but there’s no need to be scared. The cloth around your ankle didn’t do a good job of hiding you when my ladies took it off to bathe you.” She said. You looked down at your ankle, which usually bore a cloth to hide the tattoo marking you a daughter of the Alpha of the Cartanth pride. “At this point it’s just a matter of figuring out which of Nathaniel’s daughters you are.” Suzy added. “But don’t worry. We’re not going to hurt you or anything, or use you for ransome. We want to help you. Our rivalry is with your pride, not you specifically. We would’ve done something already if we were going to.” She reassured you. You felt a little soothed by her words and her warm and friendly demeanor. It was strange, and yet you found yourself trusting her. You took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes.
“My name is (y/n). I’m the daughter of the Cartanth matron. But I’m no longer a member of that pride. I’d rather not talk about why I left, but you can trust that my head would’ve been shaved and my title stripped from me if my father had known of my intentions to leave. I should probably leave as soon as possible, my father will be after me and I do not plan on letting an innocent pride be brought into this.” You told her, sorrow in your words but determination in your eyes.
“We’re hardly innocent miss (y/n). Besides, any enemy of Cartanth is a friend of Mycaruba.” Chimed in a new voice. Two men entered the room from the garden. The one that had spoken had a long braid in his hair. It was thick and yet it still just barely dragged on the floor as he walked. His chest was bare and tattooed with the mark of the Alpha, the same mark on Suzy’s neck. He wore a pair of cloth leggings that cut off mid calf. His eyes were brown and his chin and upper lip were covered in a thick beard and mustache. On his own neck was another tattoo, one with curling design and pops of color. It was Suzy’s mark. This man was the pride alpha. “Arin. I’m your host. And I insist that you stay and recoup your strength. But you have plenty of time to decide on that. For now though, you must be hungry.” He said. The second man who had yet to speak stepped forward holding a basket of fruit. He handed it to Suzy with a large smile that made you melt. God, this man was perfect. His hair was shaggy and curly and went down half his back. He wore leggings like Arin, but a shirt that seemed to be wet. That was confusing but you didn’t ask. His eyes were brown and his skin was olive and he didn’t seem to have any tattoos. He had facial hair like Arin, but his was more scruffy and trimmed close to his face. He gave you a lopsided grin that seemed to make all the pain in your body go away.
“Here, have one. We’ll let you have some meat when you get something in your stomach.” Suzy said, reaching into the basket and pulling out a fig. She handed it to you and you thanked her before tearing it in half and turning it inside out. Then you placed the fruit in your mouth and sighed happily. It was sweet. The moment you swallowed it you realized how hungry you truly were.
“Wow… I didn’t realize how hungry I was. Thank you… really. I don’t know what to do, but I know there must be a way for me to thank you. Anything.” You said, as Suzy plucked another fruit from the basket and handed it to you with a giggle.
“Just recover and get healthy for now. We’ll talk about repayment later.” Arin said. “You’re not stupid. I like that. You know we’re not doing this for free. But until then, let’s talk accomodations. I don’t think it would be wise for you to stay in this house. It’s Suzy and I’s home. Not that we don’t want you here, we just think it would be wiser if you stayed somewhere else. Here you’d be in the public eye of the pride almost constantly. Servants, warriors, and visitors alike will know that there’s an outsider in the Alpha’s home. Not all of our women are like Suzy, obviously. They can get just as territorial as any woman. It would probably be safer if you stayed somewhere where you’re less likely to be noticed.”
“That’s where I come in. I’m Daniel. You can call me Dan though, everybody does. It was decided that it would be best if you stayed with me. I don’t have any noble blood and I have no interest in contesting Arin for the Alpha title. I’m not married or in a romantic relationship either. So there’s not a lot of people in and out of my house except for my friends, all of whom are able to keep a secret. I’ve got a nice back lawn and it’s the westernmost building in the the village so it’s the last for the sun to hit it, which means we sleep a little later there. It’s not as grand as this, but I think you’ll like it.” The tall man with the curly hair spoke up. You smiled at him and shook your head.
“You don’t have to sell me on the house. The privacy is enough for me.” You reassured him. “May I see it now? Or would it be best to move me at night… I’ve never met a woman who wasn’t vigilantly wary of outsiders… Maybe we can simply play it like I’m a nomadic who decided to stop moving for a while?” Thoughts began to shoot off one by one in your head and your brow furrowed. Dan giggled and ruffled your (h/c) hair.
“Relax lost kitty, I can see the smoke coming from your ears.” He said. “If you feel safer at night, then we’ll wait.” He turned to Arin. “Maybe we could invite the others over for a dinner meal later? I’m thinking smoked fish.” He suggested. Arin grinned and nodded.
You couldn’t help but give a wide grin. You had been wandering for what felt like forever, facing problem after problem. It finally seemed like things were going your way for once, and you were content to go with the flow of this situation.