Being an aunt figure to gnoll-blooded children was harder than Grace expected. She shouldn't have been surprised, children at the best of times can be challenging, but she wasn't expecting to occasionally get tied to trees, or have to track down a wayward child that had far too much independence and wander lust than was neccessary at that age.
Vrnea, Vanhalen and Vhilinya. Their gnollish blood was causing them to mature and grow at a faster rate than any human child (Born, RL Time, 09/Nov/2013, so 101 days ago, 45 days is a year, meaning that technically they're 2 years and a bit). While they should still be babbling toddlers, Vrnea and Vanhalen acted like confident six year old, Vhilinya not far behind, with her gnoll-blood being less prominent. Grace wondered if they'd ever slow down. She knew gnolls matured rapidly, going from babes to adults within a decade, before seeming to stop ageing entirely- until they reached their third decade and suddenly deteriorated.
Grace begged the gods and Nature that Aria's children did not inheret their half-gnoll father's life span, that the blood was diluted enough they lived as long as any other human. Aria, being half-elven, might still outlive them... she was a young mother, and had a century and a half left to go of her elven blessed lifespan. Aria would out live Grace, would outlive her own children, maybe even her grand-children. And Nailo, her elven husband...
Grace smiled sadly, drawing away from such thoughts as she watched Vanhalen enthusiastically trying to catch a butterfly (With his teeth...) while Vhilinya was telling him to leave it alone.
"Halen, Vhilinya, where's your sister?" Grace sat upright from where she'd been relaxing, and the two children startled at the sudden question, looking at her with wide eyes. A pair white wings fluttered from the side of Halen's mouth. The siblings looked at each other, Vhilinya looking slightly nervous, Halen confused.
With a snap of his mouth and lick of his teeth, the butterfly disappearing entirely, Halen extended his hyena like head and neck as high as his young frame would let him, an oddly endearing serious look in his human eyes as he looked every which way.
"She's not here miss Grace!"
Grace sighed. Not again. Hopefully this time she hadn't left the fey lands.
"I think she went to catch pollywogs- miss Russet keeps asking for them..." Vhilinya pointed out shyly. Grace took a second to marvel at how fast the children were picking up words and to curse the strange dryad's and De'loupee's obsession with pollywogs of all things. Standing up, Grace walked over to them, making a 'let's go' motion. She wasn't about to go looking for one and loose the other two. Internally, Grace felt panic building. They fey lands were safe in many ways- there was not a being here that would harm the children, despite the mischievous way of the fey. But the children had quickly learnt to be independent explorers, inheriting that trait from their mother. Climbing cliffs, wading though shallow waters- going through the fey portal and up the long north road to Tivook Crossing by themselves...
If Vrnea over estimated her ability to swim, and fell into deeper water...
Grace moved them towards the sound of running water, Vhilinya slipping a hand into hers and Halen walking slightly ahead and to the side of them. Grace inhaled deeply occasionally, trying to catch Vrnea's scent on the wind. Halen did the same beside her, copying her techniques in slightly exaggerated movements, moving his short, round muzzle up and down, inhaling audibly. Grace was glad that she could at least help teach the kids in some aspects- between Aria, Charia, Nailo, the Priestess of Rhenallathan and the Gnolls of their blood father's clan, the children were getting a full, if somewhat inconsistent, education, on everything from reading and writing, to song, to archery, to lore and religion, to survival skills. Grace often wondered which path the children would end up taking in life.
It wasn't hard to track down the third pup, as all one had to do was follow the sounds of splashing water and noises of frustration. Finally, they spotted the source, as Vrnea gave out a cry of triumph, then a noise of utter disgust, as she stood staring at the black smear on her hands. Grace couldn't help the frown that knit across her brows. She knew they were children, who didn't know any better and didn't associated the tiny, black, swimming dots with life, but it was sad to see the poor tadpoles killed so recklessly.
And the girl was a mess. Her furry, gnollish legs were soaked and caked with water weeds and mud- her loin-skirt torn and muddied as well. In fact, the whole girl was soaked, likely from where she'd fallen over- elbows scraped, shirt water logged, hair messed. Grace thought she could see the bonnet she liked to wear caught on a branch further down the stream. Grace supposed it would be bathtime later, then. Halen's going to be upset about that.
Although Halen was going to need one too, after he bounded into the water to check his sister. Vhilinya wisely stayed by Grace. Vrnea was giving Grace the typical look of a child caught doing mischief- a mix of pleading puppy dog eyes and childish fear of punishment. Grace would have folded her arms, but Vhilinya was still holding onto one of her hands, looking between her siblings and Grace's face. Grace settled for resting a hand on her hips, looking down on the youngster. Vrnea's pointed elf like ears twitched guiltily. Grace wondered if she should tell her off for wandering off or for accidently killing tadpoles first. Her druidic side was arguing for the latter, while her maternal side argued for the former. Why not both?
"Care to explain why you ran off with out telling me, to go squish poor pollywogs?" Grace raised a sharp eyebrow, and even Halen's ears flattened from where he was standing next to Vrnea. Vrnea hid her hands behind her back like that'd make it better.
" I didn't mean to! I was trying to catch them for miss Russet!"
Grace sighed, " You should know better than to leave without asking and Miss Russet should know better, and leave the pollywogs alone. Do you know what pollywogs are?" As all three children shook their heads, Grace went onto explain, "Pollywogs are baby frogs. Just little babies. And they need to stay in the stream, where they're safe, so they can grow into little green frogs. Don't you like frogs?"
Vhilinya gave a muttered 'no', from beside her, and Halen nodded his head enthusiastically. Grace knew Halen liked chasing frogs, but with his penchant for exploring the world through his mouth, she wasn't sure the frogs liked him back and for how long he'd like frogs. Vrnea had taken her hands from behind her back and was looking at the tadpole that had been squished between her grabbing hands with a frown, as if trying to see how the strange little pollywog could be a baby frog. Eventually, she nodded her head slowly, mouth pouted into a frown. Grace let go of Vhilinya's hand for a moment,stepping forward to take Vrnea's and dip them below the water, washing away the remains of the tadpole, which was obviously now upsetting the young girl.
"Then you should let the tadpoles grow up strong, and leave them alone to swim and eat. Or else you won't get any frogs. Now come on, I think it's bath time. Go get your bonnet." Halen, predictably, gave a groan. But then again, when you were all fur, bath time could get a little tedious. Grace often had to chase down a sopping Vanhalen with a towel and give him a thorough drying, while the little boy playfully nipped and struggled (although he needed to learn his teeth were sharper than he thought).
The trip back quickly turned into a game of chase between all of them, then a race to get back to the temple. Grace swore that they acted liked perfect angels for everyone else. At least she wasn't tied to a tree and coated with honey this time.
- Forum Sage
- Number of posts : 634
Age : 28
Location : Scotland
Registration date : 2011-01-31
Character Name: Grace Fennerset
Overall Level: 30