With Oribella's approval to fight Poppy sprang into action!
Before Bailey could brace himself Poppy went in for a low sweeping kick and took Bailey's legs out from under him. Hitting the ground hard, the wind was knocked out of Bailey's chest.
Poppy placed his left hand on Bailey's head, grasping a handful of black hair, and his right knee on Bailey's chest. Raising his right hand Poppy partially transformed, revealing long black claws. Bailey braced himself for death. Holding this position Poppy looked up at Oribella and waited for her response.
Bailey was no match and had been pined into submission by Poppy before the spectators could understand what was happening. But they knew, 'were this a fight in then wild, Bailey's throat would have been ripped open by now.' The crowd looked at Oribella. Was she still going to spare him, or did she change her mind after seeing how weak he was compared to her male?
Oribella spoke with the same tone of royalty "Let him go, Poppy. That should be enough to teach him to hold his tongue."
Poppy unhanded Bailey, leaving him on the ground to catch his breath and think about his loss. The crowd began to murmur and talk. How merciful she is! There are many females who have demanded their males kill others on their behalf. Where was this female from? No one had ever seen her before, but Poppy of all people was clearly close to her.
Oribella heard none of it. She was just happy that Poppy had been victorious and made her way to meet him.
Poppy wrapped her in a hug and picked her up. "I'll be sure no one speaks that way around you ever again."
"Thank you Poppy. You're a strong fighter! Put me down now, I want to put your fur back on you."
Poppy gently placed Oribella down so she was standing in front of him, "take a knee, Poppy." Oribella truly felt as though Poppy had just battled as a knight for her honor.
She was really starting to love him, even though she had known him for such a short time she couldn't help how she felt. His treatment of her was something she could only dream of in her old world.
Poppy wasn't just her Angel with bear ears instead of wings. He was her fearless knight with an animal fur instead of plate mail.
Poppy lowered himself and Oribella laid the fur shawl around his shoulders. She placed a hand on his cheek, sat on his knee, and went in for a kiss.
Their first true kiss.
They had each shown affection with forehead and cheek kisses the last day but this was tender and sweet. A Fairy Tale Kiss.
A large amount of the kingdom citezens saw too. The crowd fell silent at seeing the public display of affection. Some males could only dream that a female would show that kind of affection twords them. Poppy was love struck and stayed kneeling, gazing lovingly at Oribella as she stood and made announced to the crowd.
"Poppy saved my life! I nearly froze to death in the forest but I was lucky enough for him to find me! And even if he hadn't saved me, he is kind! He is strong! And he loves me!!!" She turned back to Poppy "and that's all I've ever wanted!"
Poppy stood and scooped up Oribella. Not like a princess. Like a groom lifting his bride. "Would you kiss me again, Poppy?"
Poppy, still tongue tied from their first kiss, blushed and nodded in approval. Oribella stretched her neck and Poppy tilted his head to meet her lips.
However the romantic moment didn't last long. Firmly making his way down the stairs was the Bear King. Drawn out just like the rest of the crowd, by the sounds of Oribella's cries.
The Bear King, Joseph, had only made it outside after the fight had concluded. He saw his aid, Bailey, laying in the snow dusted dirt, all color drained from his face, but alive. While one of his spouse's children was publicly kissing a female he held in his arms. Joseph was in his 70s and couldn't help but feel he was getting too old for this shit.
"Poppy! What in all the land has happened here!?"
"Bear King," Poppy answered still holding Oribella in his arms, "Bailey's behavior caused my female great distress. She requested I punish him so he learns to better hold his tongue when speaking about the relationships of others."
The Bear King stood silently for a moment before releasing a deep sigh and turning back toward the castle, "come inside then, Poppy. Your mother deserves to meet your female, doesn't she?"
The Castle was large, even by Oribella's standards, and was designed around a massive tree. It had to be close to a thousand years old for it to have grown to such a size.
The Bear King quickly handed off Poppy to an attendant of the castle who chaperoned Poppy to his Mother's quarters. Joseph exchanged names with Oribella Rossi and then quickly departed. He seemed uninterested in learning any more for the time being.
They arrived at a large archway covered by a tapestry, the design of which seemed reminiscent of a honeybee hive. Oribella used to sew dresses for rich folks in her city, so she was immediately interested in the cloth covering the doorway. She had to remember to ask where it was from, this as the first piece of fabric she had in this world seen aside from her nightgown.
Poppy let Oribella down and announced his presence before entering the room "Mother, I'm here to visit you! I've brought a very special guest!"
"Poppy!?" A lady's voice responded "oh, do come in baby!"
Poppy lifted the tapestry and gestured for Oribella to enter first. The room was bright and filled with potted plants. Oribella wasn't sure how but this room seemed to behave like a greenhouse. Plants she recognized as tropical were placed about th room in large stone and clay pots. The room was warm and the scent of plants made Oribella feel soothed.
An older, but still beautiful, woman made her way twords Oribella with a look of great excitement on her face. "Poppy... is this...?"
"Hello, my name Oribella Rossi, you may call me Oribella." Giving a small curtsy to the bear 'Queen' Oribella continued, "your son saved me from freezing in the forest. I've accepted him but we are waiting a little longer to officially become spouses."
Poppy's mother was so happy that tears started coming to her eyes. One of her males came over to comfort her but she quickly shooed him away. She spoke "oh do excuse me Oribella! I was just so worried that my sweet Poppy would be single forever! He's the last if his brothers to find a female and I'm just so happy for him!"
Oribella saw that Poppy's mother had many spousal marks and wondered if she, herself, would be able to break the idea from her former world that being monogamous was the only acceptable form of a relationship.
"My name is Starlight. I visited River last night and she told me Poppy had found a female in the forest," Starlight grabbed Oribella's hands, tenderly as a mother would, "but I was being cautious about my expectations! Poppy has saved other females but they would always reject him so I was trying to not be TOO optimistic."
"I understand," Oribella replied, "My mother had similar concerns about my brothers. Although they had trouble finding mates for much different reasons than Poppy did."
"So, you know... everything?" asked Startlight
Oribella nodded, "I believe so. Poppy has been direct and honest about everything since I've met him." Oribella gently squeezed Starlight's hands, "I can't imagine how painful that experience must have been for you, Starlight."
"Thank you Oribella *sniff* losing your cubs is likely, with wild beasts and wars between cities... but for him to have-" Starlight started getting choked up
Poppy was unsure what to do and could only muster to say "Mother..."
Oribella pulled Starlight into a hug. "If you feel you need to cry don't hold it in."
Starlight hugged Oribella back and cleared her throat before saying "No, this is a happy occasion! Poppy's found a spouse of his own!" The two women released their embraced and excitely looked at eachother. "I was concerned his Father's reputation would keep Poppy a Bachelor forever- So if I cry it must be joyous tears!"
It was going to be dark sooner than Oribella realized, so Poppy went to find Jopesh to ask about a trade for a room in Bear Castle. Oribella stayed with Starlight and took this chance to inquire about the tapestries and other treasures Starlight had decorating her space. Oribella also noticed that Starlight was wearing a dress more similar to an ancient Greek gown than the caveman like clothes she saw the men wearing.
It turned out the tapestries were made of wool from a village of Ram Beastmen, and the dress was cotton, woven in the same Ram village but dyed its rich red color by an Artisan of the Ape tribe.
Oribella told Startlight how she greatly enjoyed making clothes and would love to visit the village in question.
"Given that we're in the cold season it may be hard to trade for wool at the moment," replied Starlight, "but Poppy has a good amount of power crystals saved, and those can be traded for a large amount food, so I imagine you could also get your hands on wool!"
"I think I'll ask him to take me when the weather is warmer then. Even if we can trade for it, making the trip in the snow would prove tedious."
"That's a smart plan. In the meantime," Starlight stood and made her way tword a large wooden chest, "please Oribella, take one of my cotton gowns!"
"Are you sure? Thank you so much!"
Starlight and Oribella continued chatting about things Poppy could do for Oribella, and places the two should travel to after the seasons change.
The 'gown' Starlight was dressing Oribella in was a raw color but very soft and smooth, given it was likely woven by hand. Similarly to ancient Greek or Roman attire it was one large rectangle of fabric, held in place with rope, pins or clips. The shoulders were held in place by painted pins carved from animal bone, and the waist was secured with a thin strip of brown leather. Now being in more appropriate attire for this world Oribella felt like she was beginning to feel like a resident of the world and not just a guest.
"Would you let me do your hair as well?" starlight was having too much fun playing dress up with Oribella to stop now. She hadn't the chance to do something like this since River had taken her first spouse!
"Of course, thank you, Starlight." Oribella's hair wasn't super long, her golden waves reached her shoulderblades when dry, but it was still longer than most females here would let their hair grow so Startlight couldn't help wanting to play with it.
Oribella was happy that Poppy's sister and Mother approved of her. Poppy loved her and she was in the process of falling in love herself. She couldn't wait to see what her future in this land would hold for her.