Campaign of the Month: January 2022
Lakes of Blood and Ash
Lair/La Vigne Étalée : Valérian
The news that Wolves and Goats were the same, Chimaeras all, but leaning one way or that over the centuries had been a shock to the population of the Lair – but, perhaps, less so to what remained of the House Guard. Proud of their lofty station, their line had tracked their history throughout time, back to one of the First Sons, Ariel – and of him and his siblings, there was made no mention of Wolf or Goat, only that it had been assumed that he, like them, must have been Wolf.
But then here was the First Muse, Agathé, Ariel’s own Sister, and she plainly favored neither…and so it must be.
“Willful, he was,” she’d say fondly, when asked, “not easy to win over to our schemes. Mine and Margaux’s, I mean. He was quieter, and dutiful.”
It was a shame then that the House Guard had been all but disbanded with the Wolflord’s awakening, some going to the forts – where stations waited for them with open arms, their reputation well-known – or to different destinies entirely, such as Roselle.
Then there remained Valérian. No fort appealed to him, nor did any other task – grown on tales of Ariel’s children, he had only begun service with his older siblings and cousins when all was ended. In vain, he tried to find a new place, first with Camille, thinking that her strict attendance to the house’s daily affairs might suit him. This was, disappointingly, not the case. Perhaps then to mind the doors of the Lair – but this, too, fell under Camille’s shadow, and was the territory of the Goat-staff who sneered down their noses at the idea that a Wolf should ever be able to manage such things with the grace and seamless attention to etiquette that only Goats could boast.
Too coarse, naturally, even if the Wolves of the House were unusually cultured for their kind. Still, better not to take the chance, not where outsiders might see and judge.
So, frustration grew, and he considered joining the Away Team in their transfer to the Drums of War estates, where at least he might be amongst family with Albine. She was of a mind like his, that their order had been cut adrift at the Wakening, but while her loyalty to the Wolflord was not to be questioned, she was, above all, bored – even if she would not readily see that fact. She resolved this by serving the Lair by means of the Industrial Estates, and there, Valérian wondered, perhaps found herself new loyalties.
It was none of his business, even if it left him still twisting, aimless and restless, a ghost in the halls.
In time, it came that the Consort was asking around again, as he had in the days preceding the formation of the Away Team. How his name had come up would always remain a mystery, but regardless Camille turned up one day at his door, instructing him to be in the greenhouse within a few hours.
A large part of the House Guard’s training had been to stand in proximity to the Wolflord and maintain attentiveness, albeit this while he had been asleep – the Consort had never factored in, being wholly unknown for most of their history, While he was not nearly so impressive to look upon as the Wolflord, there was nonetheless something in his bearing that made meeting him alone, within his own domain, a confronting experience.
The Consort spoke to him easily of Valérian’s history within the House, and that of the House Wolves. He spoke of the plans outside of the Lair, at first in vague fashion, then more candidly – of Ember, and Prasad, the words unfamiliar but nature of the conversation not unnatural to the mind of a House Wolf, who would be apprised of those things that concerned the border forts. This conversation seemed to come to no conclusion, and Valérian walked away assuming only that the Goat had wanted his opinion in these affairs.
But then the summons would repeat, day and day on. Sometimes to the greenhouse where they would speak as the Goat worked, other times in the Greywood, or in the ballroom he had commandeered. Usually, Valérian would stand off on the fringes or trailed along as the Consort trained alongside their discussions, until one day the Goat looked at him oddly, and asked in a rather plain tone, “…are you a kite, after all?”
Taking his meaning, Valérian thereafter joined in the training as well…as best as he could.
To what end these exercises aimed, he could not yet say, although he found himself beginning to look forward to the summons, and to take up the habits himself on days he was not requested, whether it be running in the Greywood, or traveling out to the forts to ask after news.
It was something to do, at least.