It happened in the early dawn hours, not long before the First Ascending Bell. Gentlemen from a hospice in the northern part of the city arrived to the Black Dragon and moved to one of the rooms, collecting one of the occupants from within. They bore a litter down the stairs and out the door, followed by a young woman appearing about sixteen or seventeen years of age, though of course the reality was quite different. Upon the litter they bore the familiar form of a collared cougar, the bright blonde coloring shot through with faded gray.
They made their way efficiently through the streets, few people about in the early hour, and those that were paid little attention to the mountain cat being borne on a stretcher. Soon they would arrive to the place where the lioness would spend the rest of her days; unseen by the others in the house of rest, the two men laid the cat on a pallet and covered her with a blanket. After they had left, the girl that had followed them gently, reverently, removed the collar from around the cat's neck, and stepped back. Leonine features shifted and bled, melting together into the familiar face of one Cody Lynn. Gone was the vibrant ferocity of a born fighter, a challenger against the whole world. In its place was a frail, small woman, not bearing many visible signs of age beyond the graying hair and soft wrinkles marring her face, but beneath the skin was a different story.
Of course, her health had been in decline for some time, though she did her best to hide it, but as the spring warmed up it had taken a sudden turn for the worse. As with everything else in her life Cody had fought valiantly, but there were some things even she could not beat. Time was one of those things. Though still young by human standards, by the reckoning of a beast she was really quite old, having already surpassed a proper cougar by more than a decade. It showed in the lack of her appetite, the weakening limbs, the lethargy that caused her to sleep more and more. She had argued with her daughter just the night before, Cody insisting and making Shari promise that the younger cat wouldn't squander any of the money carefully hoarded and painstakingly obtained on trying to extend her life any; the distraught youngster could do little else but comply with the woman that had raised her and put her on a path to be better than Cody's own. Shari was far too obedient to defy her mother, even in this.
So it was that she had been brought there, to the hospice, to be looked after as she slipped away, bit by bit. It would still cost her some of that treasured stash of money, but the least that Shari could do, faithful daughter as she was wont to be, was to ensure that her mother's final days would be comfortable. Of course when Cody awoke to find herself in the house of rest she scolded her daughter, weakly, half-heartedly, to which the young woman who looked so remarkably like her mother had simply smiled sadly. Strong hands gripped weak, sharp eyes peering into ones being dulled by age and sickness, but still keen with intellect all the same. A promise was made, to visit every day if she could, to bring her books and songs and anything else she needed, but in the end Cody did not want such things. Just Shari's presence would be enough. The elder cat had made few friends in life, but that was fine with her.
Eventually she would drift back into a restless sleep, her once proud chest rising and falling slowly. And Shari would rise from the stool where she kept vigil over her mother, to begin her day, wondering if the next time she visited would be the last. A weathered, cracked collar with a tarnished bell was held in her left hand as she departed the house, the last emblem of a fallen warrior.
Drache is the present-day capital of the Kingdom of Arangoth and lies at the mouth of the River Darian, surrounded by the city docks all along the waterfront. Click here for information on the various suburbs and areas of Drache. You can also click here to view a sketched map of the city.
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