Nanuqai frowned at the woman as she exclaimed about Ashkii. Was this truly so strange here in this place? It hadn't been exactly normal on his homeworld either, he supposed - normal animals like Ashkii and Spirits were quite different, after all - but everything about this Shaman place was unusual. Of all the things he'd learned, and found, since his arrival, Ashkii was among the least exciting - to him, at least. But the strange lion woman had explained that not all of them had been brought to Shaman in such a manner, and that there were some who were born and raised in the land. Perhaps this woman was one of them, so accustomed to magics and wings and familiars that a pet bear seemed far more outlandish? Her blurry face split with what he assumed was a smile, spilling fully into a giggle, and he found a slight smile forming on his lips in return. He supposed he could see the hilarity, all things considered.

"Ooooh," Nanuqai said, latching on to something he could reply to. A patch of shadow caused by the passing sea turtles slid across his face, allowing him a brief but more detailed view of her face. She was beautiful, her pale skin and light eyes reminding him a bit of his mother, and he fidgeted a bit. He'd never been very good with lovely women, and even less so since he'd become so untethered.

"We came down... awhile ago..." A slightly uncomfortable, nervous sort of look appeared on his face as the fog returned. He tipped his large frame slightly ahead, dropping his voice a bit lower lest someone hear. "We've been... erm, staying in the gardens. Hiding, to be honest," He shot a glance in the direction of Ashkii, seeing her as a large creamy lump against the stone gray background, and his shoulders drooped a bit as he added, "But a bit badly, I think. She's not a very good seeing-eye bear."

At her question, Nanuqai's face folded into a true smile. "There is a lot of bribery involved," he admitted. "And Ashkii..." he sighed, though his affection for the bear was palpable. He lowered his voice again, almost as if he were worried the bear would hear him. "She's not the brightest of the bunch. Sweet as honey, but she's got the brain of a chicken inside that big body."

At her question, Nanuqai nodded quickly. "Oh yes, she's quite tame. Ashkii, higote hyosew."

At Nanuqai's words - a signal that was supposed to mean she should greet a new person with friendliness - Ashkii peered curiously out at the woman. Seeing her crouched and holding out her hand, the bear took a tentative step forward, then another. Had she been the large dog Elina was imagining, her tail would have given a shy, but not unfriendly, little wag. Instead she contented herself with a friendly little grunt. Nanuqai scrounged in his pocket, breaking a bit off the last piece of honeycomb he had with him.

"Here," he said, offering it to Elina. "Give her this and you'll have a friend for life."

Ashkii perked up immediately as she picked up the smell of the honeycomb, lumbering forward with a bit more interest and less timidness.

"Um... I'm Nanuqai, and she's Ashkii. We're not from this... Shaman," he offered. "What are you called?"


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