Growing Up Cold

Growing Up Cold

      Their father always left them in this old inn. Like most taverns and inns found in Winterbane, it was dimly lit and smelt of a wood burning stove. The cold frigid air of the North always found a crack to whistle through, nipping the tips of noses and fingertips of the inns patrons. The place was mostly barren besides a few tables and lanterns, a desk, and a hallway which led to a few rooms. At one booth in the far corner sat two small child-like figures. Both were easily identified as a humanoid cat race, the cat folk, by their distinctive pointed ears, long tails, and other feline features. One was a scruffy, lanky looking gray and black striped tabby with a patch of white fur right under his jaw. The smaller of the two was a fluffy looking feline of pure white fur, soft blue eyes, and clothes that looked about two sizes to big.

“I swear this place is as old and smelly as the witch behind the counter!” Grey practically shouted as he gestured to the maid behind the desk. 

The ‘maid’ just so happened to be the owner of the inn. For a human she was built much like a dwarf. She had a short stocky frame, with a bulbous nose too wide for her face, decorated with a wart on the left side. The little cat folk children pulled at her heartstrings with their pathetic appearance, but business was business and their father was paying far less for their stay then she would of liked. 

Pale grabbed his hand while trying to quiet him with one finger to her mouth. She hated being left at all these rickety old inns just as much as Grey but knew it was better than being out there with all the shadows that hide in the dark alleyways. 

“Listen, Dad wouldn’t leave us here if it wasn’t safe,” she whispered, “even if it is run by a witch.” 

They both giggled. Both knew she wasn’t a real witch, but it was the little things that helped light up these situations. 

“I wish dad would hurry up,” the grin slowly receding from Pale’s face. 

Grey placed an arm around her seeing the smile fade, “You know he always tries to come back as fast as he can.” 

She nodded in agreement. Their father always emphasized honest work and how “the soil on the ground is the only kind of dirt you want on your hands”. Winterbane was the port town of the far North, and their hometown. Constantly covered in snow and ice, it received very few visitors. Merchants came only by boat to drop off goods then head back South to the larger cities. Some citizens of the town found work unloading the ships that came to port but other than that, work was hard to find and the pay was little. Being so desolate, many came to Winterbane running from the law or a past they wanted to escape making many citizens criminals or those cast out by society. 

The small family had been struggling for awhile now. Feeding two kittens was hard for a single father with no steady income. Plus a substantial amount of their coin went to paying off all of Grey’s incidents with the law. 

“I just want to be like you!” Grey would always shout at our dad in the argument that pursued his troublemaking. 

That always ended the yelling. Their father had always been a jack of all trades. Working all sorts of odd jobs, from the stables to metal work with the blacksmith. However, Winterbane isn’t a bustling city and there is only so much work. Their father would never let his children go hungry though, even if it did mean going against everything he ever told them. As Grey pulled Pale in closer and leaned his head on hers, she could feel the tension release. 

“It was getting late, but dad will show up any minute,” Pale thought to herself. 

Yawning she closes her eyes, the weight of them too great to re-open, falling asleep in the comforting embrace of her brother.


    “Pale. Pale! Wake up!” Grey shouts as he shakes her awake. 

“What!? Jeez!” she manages to slur trying not to sound to aggravated by the rude awakening.

 In an opposite tone, “It’s morning Pale. We must of fell asleep in the booth,” he says still hovering over her. 

It takes a few seconds for the gravity of what Grey says to hit her. 

“We always wait for dad in the booth until he comes for us and we all go to the room together,” Pale thinks as she shifts herself up in the booth,”It has always been that way. Never once has he been gone away this long.”

Panic sets in as she tries to piece together what is going on moments after waking. Grey obviously notices pulling her in close as if to protect his little sister from her fears.

 “It’s fine. I bet dad just got caught up with another job. Just means we can have milk for lunch!” he light-heartedly says while stroking her fur covered brow. 

“Y-yeah sure,” she manages to choke out trying to hold back tears. 

Gray stands up to leave taking his sister’s hand pulling her out of the booth, “Let’s do our part to! To help dad! I bet there is some jobs still laying around that we can make a few coin from, right?” hoping to distract her. 

Pale achieves a half grin, nods heavy in agreement, and runs out of the inn with her older brother. The chilled air feels refreshing as soon as they walk through the door. Compared to the dimly lit tavern, the bright white of the snow is temporarily blinding. Often times sailors at the port complain about the cold frigid air, but the residents here never seem bothered by it. Many find it refreshing. Each night brings a new blanket of snow and it’s as if yesterday never happened. The idea of a new start is welcomed to most of the poverty stricken citizens of the town.

 “Come on Pale! We will never make any coin if you walk at that pace,” Grey shouts playfully. 

Pale takes that as a challenge and rushes to pass her older brother down the slick streets. Being two years older than her, he is naturally faster but as cat folk both embody the grace and agility of any feline. That is until Pale decides to trip over her own foot. 

“WHA! Ouch!,” she can’t help but shout out, falling straight to her hands and knees. 

Grey can’t hold back his laughter, “Oh Pale, what are we going to do with you. Your clumsiness will be your downfall I swear!”. 

“I can’t help it if these boots are three sizes too big! They just hold me back!” she retorted. 

 He smiled a cheshire's grin, “Yeah yeah yeah. Blame the shoes. But what do you expect they were mine!”. 

Reaching out his hand, Grey helped her up, “Now let’s get to work. How about you start on this side of town and I will head over to the Dustarn’s place to seek out some stable work. We will meet back here at about, eh say late afternoon?”. 

“Sounds good to me, but Grey,” as Pale grabs his hand before he can run off, “Please don’t be late.” 

He can see the fear in her eyes, pleading with him not to abandon her with so much uncertainty pertaining to their father’s disappearance. 

Grey shifts his hand in hers forming a handshake, “It’s a promise Pale.”


    It is already starting to get dark. The once refreshing breeze has turned into a blistering wind. Lanterns are starting to be lit along the streets and music can be heard pouring out the door of the nearby tavern when someone comes and goes.

    “I knew he would break his promise!” Pale growled to herself before plopping down next to a pile of snow. “We promised to meet back here in the late afternoon. I have slaved away all day! I am exhausted, but still I arrive on time. Waiting.”

 The anger inside building against her brother was kept in check by the ever growing fear that she is all alone. Just then the gray scraggly ball of fur that is her brother comes trotting along, grin never wider.

    “GREY! YOU PROMISED!” she shouted while practically pouncing on him.

Obviously surprised by Pale’s sudden appearance, “GAH! Pale!”-grasping his chest with one hand-”you are going to give me a heart attack! I didn’t see you next to the snow there with your white fur. That kind of camouflage would be a great tool for a thief.”

 At the mention of thieves she instantly knew where he had been all day.

    “So that’s where you were huh?! I was slaving all day and what were you doing hmm? Parading around with those bad guys?! Dad works so hard to keep you outta trouble that they keep putting you in! Soil on the ground is the only kind of dirt yo-”

    “You want on your hands. I know I know,” he said cutting her off, “But they aren’t all bad and actually help out a lot of people in the town with what they,”-starts throwing hands in the air as if casting a spell for the right word- ”accumulate.”

Him defending them only fueled the already raging fire in her chest. She could feel the heat from it burning to her face.

    Ears folded back, teeth baring down from under white fur and whiskers, “Dad’s missing still and all you can do is think about yourself! You have never made this easy on us you know! All your trouble making has him working ten times harder!”

The words flew like venom from her tongue. Instantly she regrets what was said, but the stubborn sister in her wouldn’t allow for an apology. She could see the hurt on Grey’s face right before it twisted to the same anger she was holding onto.

    He looked down, kicking the snow with the toe of his boot, “You pretend that you don’t know the truth, but you know just as well as I do that dad is a thief! That is what has kept us fed!  So don’t stand there and belittle what has kept you alive!”

He is practically on top of Pale now staring down at her disgusted, as if she was a roach on his floor. His tail violently whipping from one side to the next with each heavy exhaled breath. She struggles to fight back tears. Not because of his yelling, but because it is all true. Both kittens knew that their father had asked the Thieves guild for help. However,  they only help those who pitch in with their line of work. Even though Pale was young she understood. She hated that he was forced to thievery and would never admit it out loud. Their father took great care in hiding what his late night jobs involved, but it wasn’t enough to pull the wool over their eyes. It pained him to dirty his hands with crime, but it hurt him more to watch his children suffer.

    Pale fell to her knees, tears running down her face. The emotional and physical exhaustion of the day finally broke her. With her father still missing, the hard labor from the day, and now her brother’s fury weighing on her all she could think to do was cry. Grey stared at his sister sitting in the snow. He could see the melted snow around her legs starting to seep through her pants. He often forgot that his little sister was just that, little. In her 8 years of life she has endured so much and probably understood so little of it. His snarl faded, balled fists relaxed, took a deep breath, and joined Pale on the ground.

    “I’m sorry ok,” he sighed under his breath, “I know you hate what Dad has to do. It is the opposite of everything he has taught us.”-rubs his hand through his scraggly mane-”But he doesn’t want us to suffer and that is more important to him than anything in this world.”

    Wiping away the tears and snot with her sleeve, “But why do you have to do it too?”.

Grey didn’t have a great answer. He did idolize his father like all young boys do, but that wasn’t the reason for following his footsteps into thievery. It was the thrills that drove him. Knowing that taking something could lead to any number of outcomes! Riches, bragging rights, and if you get caught, jail. Sure not all outcomes were ideal but the higher the stakes just makes the adrenaline pump harder.

    “You know how kids are. Wanting to be everything their parents are,” trying to avoid the question. “Well I don’t know about you but I am freezing! How about we go meet up with Dad at the booth, huh? I bet he is waiting for us. Might even get an earful for not staying put like we were told,” Grey laughed.

At the thought that their father could be waiting for them, Pale quickly rose to her feet. Her brother had given her hope that everything will be ok. They started heading for the old inn with a quickened pace. Grey still was unsure if their dad would be there or not, but it was what Pale needed to hear in order to keep herself together. Within a few minutes they reached the inn’s doorstep. Legs cold and wet from sitting in the snow, they were eager to get inside. As Grey reached for the handle the door flung open, making him snap his hand back with surprise. 

    “Oh well look what the cat dragged in,” chuckled the innkeeper at what she thought was a clever joke.

    Grey composed himself and put on his best smile, “Oh good evening missus! Just coming in after a hard days work. Still waiting on the old man. As you can see we are cold and wet, just wanting to take a rest at our usual place.”

He placed a hand on Pale’s back to usher her in, but the old lady refused to move. In fact, she made it a point to stand as wide as she could planting her feet in place, resembling a barricade. Grey could feel his sister shaking from the cold. This hag was testing what little patience he had after a day like today.

    Again he put on his best good boy voice he could muster “Ma’am I do believe our father has paid for our room here. Now I know this isn’t how you treat paying customers.”

Pale could feel the aggravation in her brother’s voice. It had barely been fifteen minutes since their argument, and she knew it wouldn’t take much to set him off. 

    The innkeeper stood in place, bending over as one does when talking to children, “Oh you’d be right about that. I don’t treat paying customers this way.”

Grey’s smile widened. Thinking he just won their way in, he stood a bit taller relishing his victory. But still the old hag did not move.

    “However,” she continued.

He started to slouch, wide eyed and slightly nervous about what she was going to say next. Pale stood perfectly still, unknowingly holding her breath.

    “You’re father paid for ONE nights stay, and I do believe the two of yous slept in my booth last night. So unless you have 10 gold on your person I suggest you git before I call the law.”

    “But we didn’t even use the room! Surely 10 gold coin would be enough to sleep in a booth for two nights?” Grey pleaded trying not to sound too desperate.

The woman stood firm, only moving to extend an open palm waiting for payment,”I don’t care where you decide to sleep. A night is a night. Now pay up or move on.”

Grey held his gaze at the old women for as long as he could. He could not understand how she was able to just toss out two young children into the bitter cold of night. Finally his eyes fell, knowing there was nothing he could do. Wrapping his hand around Pale’s shoulder he motioned her toward the street. Pale didn’t move. Following her eyes he saw what entranced her. The booth. It was empty. There was no one there waiting. No one there to greet them with a warm embrace or to yell at them for disobeying orders. No one to praise them for a job well done for a hard day of honest work.

    “Pale,” he said just above a whisper, “we have to go.”

Her head snapped in his direction, as if she was in a daydream and was jolted back to reality. He expected tears, but none came. Instead she silently followed her brother into the frigid ice covered streets, the warm light from the inn disappearing with them as the door closed. It was the time of night when everyone was starting to turn in either after a late night at the docks or at the tavern. The siblings walked hand in hand trying to avoid the few people that were still around. The last thing they needed was a fight with some belligerent drunk.

    After a few minutes of walking Pale finally spoke, “Where are we supposed to go?”.

Grey led them to a nearby ally not to far from the tavern. A few stacked crates nearby helped block the wind and a tarp would be the best he could do for warmth. They huddled close wrapping the makeshift blanket around each other.

    “This will be fine for tonight. Lucky for us we have built in comfort right?” hoping the joke would bring some comfort to his sister.

Nothing. She just sat there, staring at the blank wood of a crate in front of her. Grey felt helpless. Without their father around he was supposed to be the man in charge, yet he couldn’t even provide a decent shelter for them. 

    He sighed, “This must be how dad feels all the time.”

Pale turns to her brother at the mention of their father. Grey looked so much like him even with being so young. Both with gray fur that always appeared scruffy, bright green eyes, and that charismatic smile that could get him just about anything if used properly. She knew he was trying, despite making some questionable choices.

    She rested her head on his shoulder, “I’m glad you are here with me.”

Pale continued to snuggle in close. Grey rested his head on hers, a small grin creeping to his face. He was glad they were together too. The wind started to die down, while the moon acted like a spotlight on the town. The snow glittered like diamonds in the light. Both were admiring the view when they heard a groan coming from behind them. 

Grey motioned Pale to stay low while he frantically search around for something that could be used as a weapon. The only thing his hands could find was a large stone. Grasping it tightly he jumped to his feet, looking for whoever made the noise. Pale was hiding beneath the tarp, knees tucked in tight with her arms squeezing them in closer. 

“What was it?” she thought in a panic.

 Fear again set in. If it was a drunk, Grey could possibly get the jump on him, but he wouldn’t stand a chance against a full grown sober man. Both knew the kind of people that populated Winterbane and it wasn’t the kind you would want to meet in an ally at night. She closed her eyes tight fearing for her brother, hearing him moving around to see the perpetrator. Pale wanted to help him but she was to fear struck to move.

    Grey slowly slinked around the crates. Keeping low to the ground as he scanned the area. At first glance there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. A few busted barrels, broken glass, and a few pallets, but no perpetrator. He continued in, relaxing a bit, seeing nothing alarming.

    “Perhaps it was just something moving in the wind,” he said while releasing the breath he was holding.

Just then he heard the same groan just behind him on his left. Grey just about fell flat on the ice beneath him while trying to spin around and jump back. Every hair stood on end while frantically searching for what was behind him. Just then he noticed a black mass hunched over in the snow. He didn’t see it before since the figure was slightly propped up behind some containers he walked past. It was fairly dark but, with his makeshift weapon raised above his head at the ready, he cautiously approached. Just as Grey was within striking distance, he stopped. The stone fell from his hand, hitting the ground with a thud.

    He dropped to his knees releasing a desperate, “No.”

    It felt like and eternity under the tarp already. Pale could hear her brother’s steps in the snow slowly approaching whatever stalked them in the night. She heard him collapse in the snow then nothing. No grunts from a struggle or the crack of fists hitting bone. Just silence. Pale slowly released the grip on herself and slowly slid from underneath the tarp. Still afraid of the unknown, she carefully peered over the crate that separated her from the untold danger. She was surprised to see her brother kneeling down reaching out carefully as if nearing a wounded animal.

    “Grey,” she muttered, “Psst, Grey. What is it?”

He didn’t respond to her, focusing on whatever it was in front of him. Pale walked around the barrel towards Grey. His ears were folded gently down on his head with eyes as big as saucers. She even thought he was about to cry. Seeing that neither of them was in any danger, she went to stand next to her brother to see what had engrossed him with so much emotion. As she turned looking down she stopped. It wasn’t the cold night air that froze her in place, but what was on the ground before her and her brother. 

    A few moments passed before Grey noticed his sister by his side, “Pale I.. It’s,” the words stuck in his throat.

Pale didn’t hear him, her focus on the man before her. Their father. He was slumped over dressed in multiple tattered layers trying to keep out the cold. What little fur was showing was matted with ice and blood. Even though badly beaten, missing an ear, and bleeding from a severe stab wound to the lower right side he was still breathing. But only just. Grey was still staring up at his sister trying to find the words to say when Pale met his gaze. She was crying now and he was too. His brave older brother persona was shattered,  and now he was as terrified as she was.

    Pale crouched next to her brother and gently tried to nudge her father awake, “Daddy?”. Tears were flooding down her cheeks,”Daddy can you hear me? Please Dad.”

Grey reached out to his sister, hoping that his touch could bring them both some comfort. Their father didn’t respond to his daughter’s desperate pleas. Pale fell into her brother as she sobbed into his chest. He embraced her as tight as he could while silently shedding his own tears.

    “Pa-,” -coughing as each breath was a thousand searing needles in his side- “Pale?” their father managed to choke.

Both children gasped and turned to their father. They huddled closer, seeing the struggle he was having trying to speak.

    “Yes Daddy! It’s me. I’m here,” Pale whimpers gently grabbing his hand.

    His eyes kept trying to focus but to no avail only to roll back up in his head, “Is Grey-,”

    “Yeah Dad I’m here,” -tries to clear his throat-”I’m right here,” Grey stammers, trying to sound brave for his father and sister.

    “Take care of her Grey. You are her guardian now,” their father directs to him.

    Staring at the ground, in the most confident tone he could muster, “I will.”

Grey slowly raised to his feet. He knew their dad wasn’t going to be with them much longer. Pacing in a small section of the ally, he tried to keep his emotions in control. He wanted to cry, scream, fight, anything to get rid of this unmanageable pain in his heart. Life was so unfair to him and his sister. Now they were alone in this world. Grey, even though he hated it, was accepting the situation. Pale, however, could not fathom losing her father.

    “Daddy what are you talking about?” she questioned her father, “ You are the one who takes care of us, not Grey,”

    “Pale you know my time here is up,” he answered.

    “B-but plea-”

    “Now listen,” cutting her off, “You listen to your brother,” -coughing heavily- “he will protect you.”

Pale only nodded unable to speak through all the sadness in her throat. Using what strength he had, he reached into his pocket.

    Attempting a grin, he tried to comfort his daughter, “Don’t worry my dear. All will” -winces  in pain from moving his arm- “will be fine. Look,” he holds out his hand, “I didn’t forget about you, and I hope with this you won’t forget about me.”

Pale looked down at what he held in his hand. It was a sleigh bell. It looked rather old, having an aged golden color to it. She always had an affinity for small trinkets. Things that people would often overlook were the most interesting. Small things were often intricate in design or, because they were small, part of something much bigger. The curiosity of their purpose or past brought her joy. 

She took the bell from her father and held his hand, “I could never forget you Dad. I love you so much.”

A large plume of smoke formed from his last warm breath hitting the frozen air. Pale uttered a mournful cry and sobbed into her father's hand.


Winterbane Corrections Institute 

Name: Pale Patron Race: Cat Folk Sex: F

Height: 5’3” Weight: 110lbs Eyes: BL Hair: WHT

Criminal History

Age 9

  • Misdemeanors and minor thefts. Living on the streets due to deceased father who died during a robbery. Alcohol was involved. Other family members include a brother and mother (whereabouts unknown). 
  • Caught breaking into local residence. Claimed the door was left open. Attempted to take food and a few items of lesser value. Was caught by the properties residents and turned into custody.

Age 10

  • Caught fleeing the scene of a robbery in progress at a local fish market. Stated she was only the lookout and there were 2 other accomplices. Area was searched, no evidence of this claim was found. Took into custody.
  • Loitering outside of a local tavern. Attempted to get bar patrons to fetch her drinks, scraps, anything of value from inside. Was asked to leave the area by local authorities. Seen returning to the tavern on a few occasions until forcibly removed to another district of town.
  • Incarcerated on the charge of fraud. Sold local merchants items she claimed to be “tempered glass vials”. After the transaction was completed one merchant accidentally smashed a vial to pieces revealing it to be made of “blown sugar”. Suspect was chased down and brought down to authorities by the merchants and a few witnesses.

Age 11

  • Released on good behavior from prior arrest.

Age 15

  • Questioned on recent burglaries in surrounding areas. Claims to have no information. Will watch closely for any leads. Prime suspect.
  • Seemingly vanished overnight. Guard on watch was distracted by a drunken brawl and have not been able to locate her since. Further questioning of local merchants confirmed that suspect was looking for a way out of town. As of now we can only assume suspect left on a caravan or trade ship either by means of payment or as a stow away.


    Pale could hear the shuffling of the crew’s boots on the deck. They were shoving off any minute now. She snuck in under the canvas covering some goods from the snow that were to be loaded onto the ship.

    “All cargo is on board sir,” a crewman declares nearby to the captain while clicking his heels in salute. 

    “Good. Tell the men to shove off as soon as they can.” The captain folds the collar of his coat up in an attempt to better the icy wind, “I’d like to get away from this damned cold.”

With that, the deck hand turns and directs the rest of the crew to lift anchor. Pale slightly lifted up the canvas hearing the men around her walk away from her hiding spot. Peeking out she could just see past the ship’s railing. The last look she would see of the only home she has ever known.

 Things never got any better after her father’s death. Since he had dealings with the Thieves guild they graciously took her and Grey in when they had no where else to go. She appreciated a warm place out of the cold, but never could let go of the anger she held for them. If her father hadn’t gotten mixed up with them he would still be alive. Grey was more than eager to be in the company of those with the same interests as him. They did have to help out with ‘jobs’ if they were able. At first it was minor things like distractions, look outs, and eavesdropping, but Grey soon insisted that they be taught more important things.

“Grey I don’t want to do any of this,” Pale whined dramatically throwing herself on her cot.

“I know you don’t, but come on! We can do so much more. Don’t you want to help provide for yourself and others?” he said standing in the doorway, trying to convince her.

“No. I don’t,” she stubbornly replied.

Grey understood his sister’s sour attitude toward the guild, but they took them in. He thought she needed to be more grateful. 

    “They do feel responsible for what happened to dad. That’s why they let us stay here for basically free,”  he said while walking toward the end of the bed. “They work hard to keep everyone here at the guild comfortable, so we should work hard too. We aren’t kids anymore.”

Pale sat up, legs crossed, holding her pillow in her lap, “No. They STEAL what others WORK for Grey. There is a difference.”

She let her chin sink into the pillow. Grey could feel himself losing his temper. She was acting like a snobby brat to good to socialize with who she thought was below her.

    “Now listen,” he had lost any playfulness in his voice, “Dad told me to take care of you and I am trying. You’re sitting there acting like a self-privileged child.” His nostrils were flaring with rage now as he leaned in close to her face, “And while you are sitting pretty on your high horse looking down at us just remember that you are us. You eat the food, you spend the coin, you call this place home same as us knowing that it was all stolen.”

He snapped upright and stomped out of the room. Pale was left there alone with her brother’s words ringing in her ears. She just wanted to go back to being a kid. She just wanted her father to be there.

    “Man your stations men! We are leaving this frozen hell!” shouted a deckhand from further down the ship. 

Pale was jarred back to the present from her memories of the last few years, and tucked back down under the canvas. Boots shuffled all around her as everyone did their part while heading out to sea. Part of her wanted to abandon her plan. No one knew she was leaving, not even Grey. She loved her brother and knew if he knew of her plan, he would have talked her out of it. That was a chance she could not take. Pale knew he would be in a panic when he found out of her absence and part of her heart ached to put him in such a state, but the other part of her didn’t care. He had made her unwillingly become something she despised. Even when she cried and pleaded to him after her first stint with the law he just pushed her feelings aside and forced her to continue. The weight of that hate anchored her down to her hiding spot. She could feel the waves getting rougher, tossing the boat harder from side to side.

“This is it,” she thought, “I could tell them turn around still. It’s not too late!”

Pale could feel the adrenaline in her legs, waiting to spring up at any moment giving away her haven. She frantically searched her mind for the right thing to do. Every moment that went by ment she was further away from having a choice at all. Again she peered out from underneath her cover hoping the men aboard would be too busy to notice her. When squinting she could see the dock in the distance. Seeing it so far away she felt unusually calm. A heaviness in her chest lifted and it was as if she was breathing clean air for the first time. The smog of sadness and regrets filled her hometown clogging her lungs. She knew she had made the right choice, even if it meant leaving her only family behind.

    It took two days for the ship to reach its destination. Pale had never been on the ocean before and found out that, luckily, she did not get seasick. The ocean threw the boat in what seemed like every direction. She came prepared with a few rations and a canteen of water. Being in poverty most of her life allowed her to go much longer without food than most. They arrived in the afternoon, allowing the crew to unload and load cargo before nightfall. She overheard the crew mention the name ‘Wendenford’ and assumed that was the town name. Curious about her new surroundings, Pale peeked out again. A stiff brisk wind hit her on the face as soon as she lifted the sheet. It was refreshing. The air in her hideaway was quite stuffy after the journey. Since it was nightfall Pale was able to sneak off the ship undetected. At first it was hard to tell if she had left at all. The ground was covered in snow and ice, puffs of black smoke poured out of nearby homes, and street lights dimly lit the cobblestone path through town. As she moved further into the city, she began to see the differences. Houses here didn’t have that thrown together look as in Winterbane, but appeared to be crafted with care. No crevices could be seen letting in the cold winter air, each one was brightly painted in various colors, and every doorway had intricate carvings from what had to have been from a master craftsmen. Pale was in awe. She had only ever knew her own poverty stricken town. This place was something from fairy tales. She could only imagine how the beauty of the city looked in daylight.

    There were so many things to see at once Pale’s head was whipping from left to right so fast she was beginning to get dizzy. Her bewilderment came to an abrupt halt when she collided with what felt like a cold stone wall. Looking up she saw a massive fort of a man towering above her searching for what hit him. His piercing bright blue eyes scanned the area eventually landing on Pale. Her ears were peeled back in fear, eyes wide, and lowering ever closer to the ground. Things definitely didn’t look good for her. With ragged clothes, matted fur, and with cat folk mostly being associated with thieves he could easily assume she was one and turn her in to authorities.

    “E-excuse me sir,” she stammered afraid to offend him, “I didn’t mean to run into you. I uhh am new in town and was looking for a place for the night.”

His stare was as cold as the air around her. With her tail between her legs, she hoped her pitiful appearance would allow her to be on her way without incident. Still he just vacantly gazed, standing still as ice, at her as if trying to figure out what this creature before him was.

    “You look like you need help. Come with me,” the colossal man said.

His voice, although booming and deep, was quite comforting. Pale flinched as he reached out his large intimidating hand towards her. She hesitated at first, staring at him for a brief moment trying to figure out his motives. Standing firm as a mountain he waited for her to accept his offer. Eventually, she relaxed her tense muscles, took a deep breath, grabbed his hand and followed him into the snowy night.

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