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*THUMP*, Clara woke up, she must have fallen asleep while she was reading, she started sitting up and picked up the book on the floor, glancing over at the clock it read that it was 8:27 pm, she got up out of her bed and put the book on the dresser, walking over to her closet to grab a different outfit, she made up her mind this morning she would go to the city this evening for an evening out and she was determined to stick to her plans.
Once she had changed she looked into her standing mirror "maybe I should wear some makeup" she thought to herself Clara almost never wore makeup her mother once told her it made her look older. Looking up and down at the dress she had chosen she decided to keep any makeup off her face and leave her hair down "that's enough, stop looking at yourself." she thought as she walked away from the mirror.
Walking down the stairs barefoot with her shoes in her hand and her purse in the other. Getting to the door and locking it once she was outside, she sat down briefly on her steps to slip on her shoes, while she was putting on her shoes she could hear the crickets in the forest it was like a band, each cricket knew when to sing and it sounded beautiful just like magic.
Clara was on her way into town now driving down the road listening to the music on the radio, she never really went out at night but something her friend had said a couple days ago about her playing it too safe, and realizing in that moment she really did play everything to safe, she had made these plans to prove her friend wrong, and to prove to herself she could do this but mainly the first one.
Walking up and down the streets for a half an hour now she was thinking of going home, she hadn't really done anything this evening except walk and her feet were beginning to hurt, but Clara stopped where she stood and started listening, across the street she heard music, it sounded like a live band and it was coming from an Irish Pub, she had never been in a pub before and thought it might be a good idea.
She walked across the street and walked into the pub looking around the place she could tell it was pretty packed in here but it wasn't overcrowded, Clara stood in the background for a bit just listening to the music but thought maybe she should get a drink, she walked over to the bar, and sat down in the only free seat in the corner, the bartender came over he was older, red hair with white streaks in his beard and from when he spoke he was Irish "What would you like Missy?" he asked her " A Bellini, Thank you." he looked at her with a strange face like my drink was way too fancy for a place like this but he walked over to his counter and started making it. A few minutes later he had her drink in hand and passed it on over to her, "Thank you." she said.
Dominic put a hand through his hair and sighed. They had been at it for only less than an hour, but he could suddenly feel how difficult a task it might be to find anything useful in their search. It didn't mean he would give up. He had made a promise and the therian intended to keep it. Clara seemed like a good girl and pretty inexperienced in the world from their short time together only one night before when he had just wanted to have a few drinks at the bar. Now here he was helping the initia learn of her secretive past.
His eyes glanced over to the hopeless blonde who seemed lost to thought as she clicked aimlessly on the mouse of the computer, waiting for the ancient thing to load. Dominic wondered what would've happened had he not offered her the ride home. Would they have ever seen each other again outside the bar? It seemed like they may have been on the road to more, but fate had a different role to play in her life. Sometimes he couldn't help but think destiny was a real thing, nudging him towards this woman.
When Clara called his name, it broke him out of his daze and he pushed back his chair. Dom leaned over from behind her to look at the computer screen. There was the birth certificate of her human mother on one window while the other gave failed search attempts at her father's name. At her idea of going in search of her father's tribe, he nodded his head, folding his arms over his chest in thought as he sat on the desk. "That's not a bad idea, actually. Some of the elders might know something useful." His hazel hues went across the room towards their third party member. "Know where that might be, Winston?"
The man sat back in his chair in thought, but after a moment he wagged his finger. "I believe the last place was near Lake Chattawan. It's about fifteen minutes from here near the base of the mountains, much like Evermore's tribe. Been years since I've been there, but it's worth a try. Good thinking, kid."
Dominic placed a hand on Clara's shoulder and gave it a squeeze of reassurance. "Let's go."
It was hope, something that could be misleading. Clara stood up with the rest of the strange members of this little group of people in search of something that might stay buried, something she desperately didn't want. She walked with them. Everything that had happened in these less than twenty-four hours had changed her, she wasn't exactly sure who she was anymore, but that wasn't about to stop her from finding out the truth if anything it might help her find out who she really is.
Dominic drove to the place near the Lake, she tried to imagine what her father was like, but as she got older it became harder and harder to remember a fading ghost of the man he once was. She took a deep breath, Winston was backseat driving telling Dominic which road to turn or how fast he should be driving ("Any slower and I expect we'll get there when I'm dead," he said) she hoped Dominic was okay, he was almost a complete stranger helping out a strange woman in a bar, she admired that about him, being able to just out of the blue and help somebody, she could tell under the booze and the thick build was a very gentle man, or at least that's what she hoped. She turned her attention back on the window, soon they would be there, and they may or may not get their answers.
It was hard to see, the brush of trees under the mountains was thick and lavished with pine trees something she hadn't been expected when she had played this all in her head a few minutes ago, she kind of wondered what it would have been like growing up in a tribe as her father had, Ah, the stories he could have told her before he died. They made their way through the depths of greens and followed the hidden driveway, and once the winding ride was over, the car came to a stop. There it was a small but very hidden away tribe.
Scattered around were small wooden cabins with small porches with rocking chairs, there weren't too many people around but you could see where life was bustling in some places. Clara's stomach felt queasy for a minute it was all falling together. "See I knew it was here, I told ya," Winston chimed into the background. "Yep, it seems you did," she replied. Clara stood out of the car. And approaching from one of the cabins was a woman and man. Here the confrontation was about to begin.
Dominic rolled his eyes at Winston for what felt like the millionth time as he complained in the backseat about his driving. "If you wanna slide off the road after this snowfall and roll into a ditch, by all means, come take the wheel," the therian responded heatedly glancing at him in annoyance through the rearview mirror.
The beautiful landscape of the mountains that was the backdrop for this town became closer and closer as they had finally reached a large wooden sign with the words Lake Chattawan etched across it. Dominic drove slowly through the heavily populated trees until Winston pointed out near the base of the mountain where the road would bring them to the hidden tribe.
It was very quiet as a fresh snowfall tended to cause in the world. It was as though a sort of an unspoken blanket of silence covered the world when it snowed. It was one of his most favorite times to be in the woods and if he were at home right now, he'd probably be in wolf form padding along the forest floor as fast as he could for the enjoyment.
After the long and winding road had finally reached its peak, Dominic could immediately see the small and modest cabins of the tribe begin to appear. He parked his truck off the road and climbed out, taking in the surroundings. People were beginning to notice their arrival as questioning eyes began to fall upon them and Dom made sure to keep his therian abilities pushed outward for any kind of threatening behavior he could pick up on.
The first cabin they approached looked much like the others of the village. A middle-aged man and woman sat on the front porch and immediately stood to come and greet them. Nothing about them seemed hostile, but Dominic knew that also could be exactly how they fell into a trap. He let Clara step forward to talk to the pair as he and Winston remained at her flank. Dominic did what he did best which was to scan the area as casually as he could. Their backs were to the rest of the town and he wanted no surprises. Clara's scent had shifted slightly and he knew it was from how nervous she was feeling. He lightly placed his hand on her shoulder for a moment of comfort just as they met with the couple at the bottom of their stairs. This could be the moment of truth for Clara and he hoped it would bring her more clues to her past that could get her the answers she deserved.
It was exactly as one would picture, a picturesque backdrop to the beautiful little cabins, with the little snowfall, a few of the cabins roofs were decorated with the white innocence like snow. The eerie stillness, shook her for a moment, she was used to the quiet, she wasn't used to the unease. The middle-aged man and woman approached, he was tall and round in the middle, his hair on his head, was grey but there, and the woman, aged around the edges but her eyes held a youthfulness that she could tell from a mile away. Her black hair, mixed with strands of grey was pushed to the side in a braid, the skirts she was wearing, shifted the snow beneath her. They were exactly what you would expect to meet here in the middle of the woods.
Clara returned the smile, they were so well to offer, but her instincts were in full gear, she looked around, if this came to an attack how would they escape, they would have to go by car, the woods around them, surrounded them, and trying to find the way back to the road might be near impossible. "Welcome, what brings you this far out?" the woman asked, they could sense she was Initia surely, or they wouldn't have been allowed this far. She tried to get a hold of herself, but the words seemed to lose themselves at the base of her throat. It was the reassuring hand on her shoulder that made her speak up. "I'm looking into my father's life, he died some time ago, but he was Initia," she said, giving the lady a smile, as natural as she could. She hoped they could help, but apart of her wasn't sure she wanted the truth yet. "Let's go inside, we'll tell you more," the man spoke. No names had been exchanged but these people had already invited them into there home, either to being kind, or they wanted to walk them in a trap.
They walked the stairs, of the cabin porch, as the man and woman invited them in. She suspected they were married and when they walked in the suspicion was confirmed, along the walls were several family photos, pictures of them at there wedding, a picture of a newborn baby, and a few class photos in black and white. This was the home of a family and that reassured her a bit. "Please sit down, can I offer you something to drink," the woman asked. "No, Thank you," she replied. "Please sit down," the man instructed, waving his hand to the couch. She sat down, let the interview of sorts, begin.
Here he was again; surrounded by supernaturals that essentially had the upperhand over him. Dominic had always been wary of nearly all the other supernaturals that existed. It was bred into him as a child from his father. He could hear those words being echoed throughout his brain right now as the three of them stood as intruders to this hidden part of the mountain. "Magic users are our biggest threat. Never get mixed up in their business, Dominic. It will only lead to trouble... getting hurt or your death." His father's voice faded as a cold breeze brought him back from the lessons in his past. Dominic had kept himself away as his father had taught him, but never far away enough that he didn't associate with other supernaturals that weren't therian. After all, he was a guard to the Ailwards now and mingling with every kind of other supernatural being was unavoidable. He was stupid to think they were all the same like his father made them out to be; powerful beings who were always hungry for more and thinking they are better than other supernaturals. It was a close-minded, pack only mentality that had been passed on throughout his family's generation. He was glad to be the one to break the thinking.
The therian's eyes casually flitted back to the young group of men who couldn't seem to move their eyes anywhere else but on them. The conversation that was going on between Clara and the couple who greeted them was all fuzzy while he continued pushing his senses outward. All that he could make out was the curious whispers of the newcomers. Nothing seemed too threatening that he could tell. Dominic let out a light breath and followed the group inside of the cabin. "Here we go..." he muttered under his breath.
The home was just as expected. Cozy and normal. Nothing seemed to jump out that would be ominous, but of course, that would be too easy. Dominic watched as Clara and Winston sat on the couch, but he took to the wall instead. "I'm fine, thank you," he replied to the man of the house who offered him a seat. The wolf leaned against the wall and surveyed the scene instead. If this was some kind of ambush, he wanted to see it coming. He had a view of the door, the windows, and the other areas of the living room that branched into the rest of the house.
For the moment, his hazel hues fell on Clara who sat on the couch. The anticipation in her face was obvious as she tucked some of her blonde strands behind her ear. He hoped whatever this couple would be able to tell them would be of use to her. He had had such a close knit family life. It was hard to imagine what his life would possibly even look like without the people who had shaped him into what he was today. Even with their faults and the distance that now separated he and his siblings, Dom knew it was all these experiences that had brought him to where he was today, faults and all.
It was like waiting for a bubble to burst, in this case, it was a secret because she wasn't sure what this bubble was made of, a metaphor for her life, of sorts. Sitting here waiting for the couple to speak was like a mind-boggling puzzle, she had asked what she thought was an appropriate question, "Did you know this man?" and then showed the couple a picture of her father, by the looks on there face they did know him, or at least of him, that's what there faces said, but she wasn;t sure why they weren't answering, it was eating her up.
Her foot had begun to tap on the floor beneath them, something to do while they waited, it wasn't a hard question and she wasn't sure a whole lot of time had passed but it felt like an eternity. Whatever happened they didn't really seem to want to talk about it. Clara looked over at Dominic, then Winston, a tight knot building in her stomach. "Yes, we knew that man, may we ask who he is to you?" The man finally spoke up, "That's his daughter," Winston said, Clara was thinking about elbowing Winston, he gave maybe too much information away, what if her father was an outlaw around here? The man and woman looked back and forth at each other with this new information. "You don't look much like him," the woman spoke, the words were kind of rude but she spoke it softly, and very motherly. "I looked like my mother," Clara said, she always remembered people saying she looked just like her mother, minus a few features she had gotten from her father, which were few and far between. "You do," the lady replied. It sounded like she had met Clara's mother and she was about to ask but thought she might save it for later. "What happened with my parents, with everything? Clara finally masked up the courage to ask. "It's not our story to tell," The man said, Clara's heart dropped, if it was her parent's story to tell, she would be waiting a long time. "But, we know someone who will," the lady added, Clara lifted up her head and smiled at the lady all hope wasn't lost after all.
Or maybe it was, they had exited the house, all of Clara's instincts on hyperdrive, she imagined Dominic's were too (though Winston looked as calm and as comfortable as a cucumber) and found they were walking deeper into the snow-covered forest, heading inside the forest deeper, with less light than before, seemed to be a mistake, but she couldn't help it she needed to know, her whole life was being questioned because her parents decided it was important enough to take with them this secret to the grave, instead of say like leaving a letter. But before she could turn back the couple was pointing to a small cabin. "Go inside, she'll tell you the story," the woman said, and the couple turned back and left. She looked toward Dominic, "Too late to turn back now," she said, and then took the first steps to the secret that would change her life.
He didn't like this. He didn't like this at all. Dominic's eyes moved to the window outside as he saw movement in front of the house. It was the young group of men he'd seen across the way when they first arrived and they had moved closer to the property. They didn't appear to be acting as though they were planning to enter or perhaps guard the place, but more so out of curiosity to find out what was going on with the strangers in town. He had the feeling this tribe was incredibly close knit and to have anyone from the outside coming to their home so far into the mountains was probably a rarity if ever.
Letting out a short breath to calm his nerves, the therian folded his arms over his chest and let his focus come back onto the people in the room, but remaining vigilant for any sign of danger. Clara appeared to be on edge, but Winston was seeming to be too comfortable for his liking. In the short time of knowing the man, Dom had wanted to believe the good intentions this man had for his 'supposed' niece, but the pessimist in him would always ring the alarm bells.
As if it couldn't seem any more shady, the elderly couple were obviously holding back the crucial information that the initia was looking for. His jaw clenched in a slight annoyance as he put his head back against the wall and rolled his eyes shortly. It wasn't as if he could threaten them. Patience wasn't his strong suit or any therianthrope for that matter, but when the matron said she knew of someone who could talk to them, Dominic pushed himself off the wall and followed them to the back door.
The walk through the woods seemed like a march into a trap. The light from the sun was lessening the farther they walked as the trees overhead cast the shade from their thickened branches. The only real sound was that of their shoes crunching through the fresh snow. His eyes drifted over to Winston who still seemed unfazed, even with their new field trip into the unknown. Dominic was starting to see it as an arrogance for he was the one spying on Clara without being caught for some time.
The wolf slowed his pace slightly, so he could fall back to being the last person in their walk. He didn't want someone surprising them from behind, but soon his senses were picking up the smell of wood burning close by. Within another minute they were standing in front of a small cabin which looked just as quaint as the older couple's. Dominic could see the fireplace burning from the window and a woman moving about the home without noticing their appearance on her property. There was an aroma of a meal being cooked inside to which his stomach immediately reacted with a small growl. He nodded towards Clara to indicate he was still by her side no matter what when she mentioned being too late to turn back, hoping that their ascent on the stairs wasn't the start of a bad horror movie.
The cottage was about as cute as the last, if not more so, the warm fire crackling Clara could hear from outside the house, and she looked forward from getting out of the cold. Clara took to knocking the front door, quiet at first but when she heard no reply, she knocked louder. "Coming," the voice inside said, female, that was for sure. The door opened and as expected it was a woman, older than Clara herself but only by five or ten years. "How can I help you?" she asked and unlike the couple before the woman had a sweet edge to her voice, that made it feel easier to tell her everything. Realizing Clara hadn't said anything she spoke up, "My name is Clara Carter we were sent here by the tribe, they said we could ask you a few questions," The lady nodded as if this was a good reason. "Please come in, I was just busy making some biscuits." she moved aside from the door and ushered us inside.
It was quaint and cozy with less of a woody feel on the inside and more of a pop of colour, the orange couch caught Clara's eyes first, with the end tables being a light brown. The walls painted a white, with black trim and all sort of shelves holding many different trinkets and books, a T.V. nowhere in site. "Please sit down, I shall be just a moment," and with that sound, an infant could be heard crying from another room. Clara looked towards Dominic and Winston still hanging out near the now closed door. She walked over to the couch and sat down, eager to learn her past.
When the lady emerged she took one look at Winston and froze. "Ash is that you?" she looked so surprised but she seemed happy. Probably the first time Clara had ever met someone happy to see Winston. "It is, Sophie, you look so young, vibrant even, still drinking that so-called elixir of youth you found," he said. And he was right she was younger, now standing in front of her, she had a few gray hairs but it blended in so well with her blonde hair and fair skin, and the few freckles that lined her face did amazing things for her complexion. "Of course, but what are you doing here?" she asked tea towel still over her shoulder with an apron on. "Finding out the truth about what happened to Edward and Samantha of course," he said as if she should already know. "Oh yes, but why?" she meant what Clara and Dominic were doing here. "Well his daughter would like to know," he said gesturing to Clara. She gaped as in surprise and looked Clara up and down if only now she realized. "You look so much like her," she said it in awe and adoration. "Thank you, but who are you," Clara asked. "His sister, of course," she said, almost as if Clara should know, she was glad she was sitting on the couch or she might just collapse.
Dominic had to give it up to the Initias. They sure knew the perfect place to call their home. The woods by the base of the mountains was beautiful enough, but these little cabins were right up his alley as he stepped inside and took in the surroundings. The decor had a younger, chic feel compared to the older couples' cabin that they had just left minutes ago. It wasn't really his style, but the layout of the home was something he could appreciate as it reminded him a lot of his own cabin back in Therian woods.
The smell of the biscuits baking made his stomach react again when the aroma washed over him. It didn't exactly help that his senses were enhanced a hundred times over more than a human's. If left alone, Dominic was pretty sure he could eat every single one of those baked goods she had just made.
His eyes flitted around their new surroundings and listened to see if there was any other movement by someone else from any of the other rooms he couldn't see, but it didn't seem to him, for now anyway, that there was anyone besides the woman who had let them inside. However, another scent seemed to fill the space that was very familiar to him. One that frankly, Dom tried to steer away from as much as possible because they were rather terrifying. A child. On cue, a cry could be heard in one of the nearby rooms making his ears perk up slightly from the wailing. He internally groaned.
The woman suddenly had an air of recognition pass over her features when she looked to Winston. Dominic watched as the two seemed to have known each other from the past and without held trangressions. Friends? Lovers? Hazel hues glanced over to Clara as she sat on the couch also to watch them exchange pleasantries with interest when it was revealed that they did in fact know one another and once more... Clara's aunt?
"Excuse me?" Dominic couldn't help the outburst that escaped his lips at the sudden revelation. Did that make Winston and her half siblings? "You're her father's sister?" It wasn't really his place to be asking the questions, but Clara seemed to be in a state of shock from the new information to even begin the thousands of inquiries she undoubtedly had for her. If that were true, perhaps the child they could hear still crying was in fact Clara's cousin.