Grayell wandered along the shore line of the ocean - of sorts - his eyes peeled and wandering over everything. He wasn't tracking today but was instead looking for sign, a notion, a hint at to what had reached his ears as a very uncommon concern.
Some fishermen in town had mentioned they had found some remains over the last week or so. Strange collections of turtle shells, nothing too alarming and hardy a dent in the turtle population; but odd in that they were gathered as if something had sucked the flesh from them and left them scattered about.
Grayell wasn't too familiar with anything of a predatory nature that fed in such a manner. It was an odd thing, perhaps a strange new species or such; but it was unusual enough that he thought he'd give it a look into.
Nothing seemed to untoward as he picked his path along the shoreline, approaching a shaded grotto far from he immediate ruckus and hubub of Wistvale. Here, one of these strange collections he'd heard about.
He crouched, picked over the carapaces carefully... then scratched his chin.
The sound of footsteps reached Grayell's keen ears. The steps were small, leisurely, but not from any large creature. Certainly they belonged to something bipedal, but no adult human being had feet this small. It was almost like someone was taking a leisurely stroll along the shore, occasionally stopping to look at something before moving on. Ever now and then, the footfalls seemed to be coming from a completely different direction, which was odd, because there was no sound of wings or great leap.
Eventually, the feet seemed to move toward the grotto, albeit cautiously, but with the same slow strolling pace as before. Just as feet (and the person to whom they belonged to) seemed about to round the corner, they stopped, maybe waiting for something to happen.
As Grayell rounded the corner, what he found waiting was a small child, no older than ten, maybe even less.
Her garb was almost entirely black: An over-sized black hoodie, with a pair of glowing blue eyes on the hood to match her own, the sleeves hanging well past her fingertips. Her black, thigh-high stockings covered her legs, the lower section of the hoodie obscuring any view of what pants she might have been wearing. The source of the footsteps were wrapped in a pair of small black moccasins, the leather not made of any known animal.
Her expression, at first, was impassive, almost bored, but as she slowly moved her gaze up to Grayell's face, but never quite looking into his eyes, fear quickly overtook her. Suddenly, she hunched over, covering the top of her head with her arms, and she tried her best to freeze in place, but nonetheless, quivered where she stood, whimpering quietly.
Grayell was immediately wide eyed and concerned, the cutest little... person (?) was wandering alone out here - and then entirely panicked!
Grayell, as it so happens; has a strong paternal instinct for cute little things that you know - don't try to impregnate his face, so immediately he moved closer and got on a knee. His hands opened passively, showing he meant no harm and the tone of his voice echoed his intent.
"Whoa, hey now little... person... I mean no harm. Are you lost kiddo?"
Contraty to science-fiction laws, the little girl's chest did not burst open and try to eat his face (yet). Instead, she slowly looked up from her hunched-over posture, careful not to look him in the eyes. "N-n-n-n-n-no..." she stuttered, still shaking like a leaf. Her voice was definitely that of a little girl. "I was... lookin' for sumthin... an 's not here..." Her eyes never left Grayell for long, but she could be caught sneaking glances around the grotto.
There was a sniffle, followed by a whimper, followed by: "Um. Uh... 's... uh... um..." She closed her eyes, as if trying desperately to focus on something. Her knees were still shaking, and continued to avoid Grayell's eyes. "I think it starts with a 'k' or- Oh! Chalk! I'm lookin' for chalk! An' she said it'd be somewhere around here... buh I can't find it!" The girl shook her head, frowning. "Can you tell me where I ken fin' sum chalk?" She said with a little more confidence this time, as if trying to overcome her fear.
Grayell thought about that for a moment. Yes, the similarity to an old friend of his struck him with the mention of chalk and he smiled some, fond memories always a comfort. He scratched his chin for a short time before responding.
"Well, I could likely get some in town. That's a bit of a walk mind you; but I don't mind. Or, I can show you a really nifty trick if you like."
"A t-t-trick? What kin'a trick? Like a magic trick?" She tilted her head to one side, curious as to what this man meant. Then she sort of hiccuped, and took a step back. "I-I mean, I came from town, and I din' bring any munny, so I couldn't buy any from the shop, an' the man was rilly mean 'n stuff... an'... uh... so, what kinda trick is it?" She half-pouted in the innocent way only young children really could. One could say she had a talent for it.
Grayell laughed a little, she was entirely adorable. No doubt about it. But he rocked back from where he sat and began to scuttle about the area, sifting through rocks on the beach side, picking through the sand and dirt. At last, he found something and picked it up, smiling wide.
"There we go kiddo! It's not quite magic, but it's terribly interesting if you ask me. See this rock? Here, see how it has this odd colour? That funny texture? Here..."
He picked up another rock, laid one atop yet another... and then shattered it. The rock broke in half (roughly), a colourful red ochre spattering about as it flaked apart. He scooped it into his hands then and wandered down to the water.
The little girl trotted along behind him, her eyes never leaving his hands as he worked with them. It seemed to mesmerize the little urchin, the colors dazzling and entrancing her. "Mom kinda showed me some rilly cool stuff, but nuffin' like this, mister!"
It was hard to tell which was stranger, that she adamantly refused to look him in the eyes, or that such seemingly simple stuff was so enthralling to her.
Grayell didn't think much of either, children were often interested in new things that involved getting your hands grubby. He was also an imposing person to look at, especially if you're only knee high; but at least his Kinship (which he ain't aware of of course) afforded him some degree of easy communication.
He reached the waters edge, crouched down and then scooped up just a dram of water, then mixed it with the rock and the dust in his other palm. It became muddy, thick but a brilliant reddish brown.
He looked to her with a harmless smile and then used is finger to paint a line across his cheek.
"Now, what do you think of that, hm? They come in all kinds of colours and you can paint them on anything. You know the best part? They don't cost anything."
The little girl squealed at the new mixture, giddy with excitement. "Oh wow! And I can paint them on anything?! Oh, mom's gonna love this! Hey what your nam-" She stopped, suddenly as she looked him dead in the eyes, a slight miscalculation after looking at the single red line painted across his cheek. Suddenly her elation ceased, instead replaced by what seemed like a growing... discomfort. "Dontblinkdontblinkdontblink..." she repeated as fast as she could, either as a mantra to herself or maybe as a warning to her new friend. Her face slowly contorted, as if she was trying with all her might not to sneeze, but for as long as she could, her eyes didn't leave Grayell's. "...dontblinkdon-AH!"
And the moment she was unable to resist any longer, she vanished with a sound not entirely unlike a baby elephant sneezing underwater, with nothing more than a few black particles left over to mark her departure. As for where she went, this would be answered a half-second later, with a yelp followed quickly by a splash in the water behind her new friend. There she lay in she shallows, slowly sitting up, sniffling a little. "Guh... I did ib again... ooogh..."
He looked over with a complete look of dismay, utter confusion... and then fell on his rear, laughing heartily. It took a moment for him to calm himself an regain something akin to composure, but he rubbed his eyes and couldn't help but smile.
"Oh my! Aren't you just the cutest thing ever! You alright there kiddo?"