Audrie curled up cautiously back to back with Vanguard, confident he would watch when her senses failed. Trust was not easily gained nor bartered in the Ranger’s life, and had not yet extended to Zevran. He was keeping watch so she could rest for a few hours, and nothing could go on indefinitely without sleep. Every living creature tucked its head beneath a wing, curled in a burrow, or folded its legs beneath it eventually. While she didn’t mistrust the elf, he hadn’t earned a place among those who she’d easily let herself be vulnerable enough to casually drop off to sleep around, either.
With her lupine companion’s senses and teeth sharper than her own, she slept lightly with her fingers resting loosely on the hilt of her dagger. Secure as she was apt to be in her temporary tent, she drifted off with the warmth of her best friend’s fur beside her.
When she became aware she was in a tree. Her long tail dipped and twitched behind her. Large green eyes dilated in the quiet darkness, her rounded ears turned to catch the rustle of feathers, and her fine whiskers vibrated with curiosity. Opening her jaws to pant lightly, she sampled the scents of the area, letting them roll delicately across her palette in a wash of sensory color. She could detect the rich, dark wood smoke which made her tail twitch in an upside down question mark, the dry dusty, rich smell of live feathers, and a human who might have been mistaken for part of the landscape.
Rumbling a soft feline cough in her throat, Audrie’s muscles tensed beneath a sleek tawny and brown coat marked with the same tattoos she bore as a human, and leaped effortlessly down from her perch. Landing soundlessly on four large paws, she hugged the ground with a cool, proud confidence, coiling her tail around her spotted hindquarters. Already in tune with the world around her as a woman, she was far more-so as a leopard. Her claws flexed out of her pads and sprang back into her toes as she flowed up to her legs and moved like water in motion toward the woman who was at the strange camp. It seemed large and empty for only one person, but a leopard knew little in the way of concerns. She was the solitary predator with the intellect of a human, thus not anyone’s easy target. There was not much to fear as she approached Lorelie with the curiosity of catkind.
“Greetings,” she told the woman in her own voice, although it rumbled softly in a wide range which would have spanned from purr to the hoarse, screaming roar. She sat rigid and her tail floated around her hips again as she bathed her front paw and nonchalantly rubbed it behind one ear.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~ C. S. Lewis