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Avian Gardens

Date: 09-23-09
Poster: Jon McAndrews
Post # 1

Construction of the Aviatory

"That would depend on how many birds you wish to house in the same cages. I believe they will be quite comfortable, especially if you give them materials to build their nests so they have places to sleep." He looks over the miniature cage as well now. He made it just between four and five feet with the wood that he had with that one tree. A wild cardinal perches on it, looking around on the inside curiously and he smiles. "It would seem one already likes the design you have in mind."

"Smaller birds will be housed in larger groups. The larger birds of prey will be fewer to the flight cages. I have loose cotton from cotton woods and other such things to lay around so they may build their nests." Only in ensuring means of food to the birds and handling were the only sorts of true interfering she intended on. The model cage was about as tall as she was. Spotting the cardinal, she smiled and crooned softly, gaining a chirp from the small red bird. "Perhaps it is a lucky omen."

The rumble of wagon wheels would be heard as the small caravan of five carrying cut lumber made its way along Oak street from the north. Jon was driving the first one with a crew of men numbering twelve that were divided amongst his and the other four wagons. Four carrying lumber, the last one of various equipment that would be needed. He knew exactly where this particular cottage was though he had not met its new occupant. Business was at hand and the ideal to have the Aviatory built before the first real snowfall. Jon was always up for such challenges. Cedar, oak and pine would be used as he and his men pulled into the adjacent lot. The first order of business would be using the sickles to cut down the overgrown wild grass and brush alike.

"Perhaps. I believe that if you have happy wild birds that take refuge here, they will fly off and tell others. Then they will come, and want to stay here with you." His head raises as he senses the approach of wagons, and immediately goes on the alert. Tensing his body, the massive dragon turns his head towards where the others begin to work, watching them carefully. The bronze was over two-hundred feet long from nose to tail, and was currently sitting with the current occupant of the cottage. A low growl resonates in his throat. It was a natural reaction to those he didn't know, that wielded things that could be used as weapons.

"Hopefully you are right." Though quite a few of the birds she intended to have in the gardens would be shipped. Her attention drifted to the new sounds. She didn't actually expect help in building quite so soon. Already on her feet she heard the growl from Morjin and held both hands up. "Calm yourself. I'm sure that is more assistance in building of the flight cages. I'll be right back." Stepping away from him, she ventured off towards the wagons and the men who arrived. Dressed in dark blue with a canvas apron over, though the apron was now heavily stained with blood, her hands a lighter shade of red from mending of wounds not her own. Approaching the men, she smiled softly. "Good afternoon, gentlemen."

Loose fitting poet's shirt was worn tucked into black pants with boots lacing up midcalf. As his men set to work he headed towards the adjacent lot, flipping order forms over the board as he went. Luckily he lifted his head just in time or would have had a small collision with the lengthy stride, coming up short instead as a dimpled grin spread. "Miss Vanessa I can presume? I am Jon McAndrews, I have the lumber mill in Ballicastle which serves Heathfield." Turning the board about that she could see Laird Maurice McDonough's signature along with the Queen's in approval. Though here too he noted the very large dragon. Unfazed with a slight lift of his chin. "A friend of yours?" Knowing there was only one dragon in Heathfield and this one was not him.

Slowly the bronze gets to his feet, moving to approach the man that was talking with the girl. He could hear all that was said, and moves to stand just behind the girl. "Aye, I am a friend of hers." He looks the man over, before raising his head to look to the other men. He didn't really trust them, but if they were here to help her with building the cages that she wished, then he would stay out of the way as much as he could.

Nearly run into, she took a quick step back with a laugh and a nod. "Aye. I am Vanessa." She looked at the forms with the signatures and turned her attention to Morjin with a smile. "My friend, Morjin, has offered to help with the building of the flight cages, and preparation of the areas they will occupy. A brilliant idea he has come with to help protect my birds." She looked back to Jon. "I hope you and your men will not mind the help?"

"Not at all, the more the merrier. Well met, Morjin." Then back to Vanessa, "I was told you have some sketches of how you want it laid out," turning enough as a hand swept out to indicated the slight incline of a knoll, that leveled out then dipped slightly again. "I think it would be best upon that area so that if it rains hard as spring sometimes brings, you will not get flooded." He was one that would build according to the contour of the land and best suited.

He hadn't expected such a welcome, but he nods to the man. Since Morjin's tail was close to the crudely built cage he had made only moments ago, he picks it up, swinging it around gently until he sets it down before the one called Jon. "I have thought that perhaps besides building the cages on higher ground, having a moat around the entire area of the cages would help to provide protection from predators and pests. While at the same time, providing water and nutrients to the ground soil for the trees to be placed in the cages, and the flowers Lady Vanessa wishes to plant. Also, the elevated land would keep those that wish the birds harm at bay." Obviously he had thought this through long before Jon's arrival.

Pleased that Morjin was received well, she listened to them both, nodding her agreement to what the great dragon said about raised land and the moats. "The safety and comfort of the birds is very important to me. Perhaps Morjin could help raise the land for each of the flight pens to be built on. Once the pens are up, then carving the moat around them would be the last of the details?" A look between Jon and Morjin to hear their thoughts.

"All are good ideas but the lands here are not so wild that you will need to worry on predators. Further north beyond the castle walls and into the great forests, aye, and the lands of Kildare even beyond Tyremoor, aye." Reassuring them both on that matter as he made a note on the moat. "If we set the building upon the knoll.. how are you at digging the moat around it Morjin?" Given the dragon's size and a tail that would probably work as a shovel, uncertain though as he was not so use to working with dragons in what they could do. More going with the idea of water about the place for the birds.

"I would be taking care of that. I can dig the moat without disturbing the land around the cages." He wasn't familiar with this land, so he would trust Jon's judgement on the part of the predators. But pests were another matter.

She smiled to Jon. "A gathering of noisy creatures of bright colors in one place can be quite appealing." Even the wild eventually got brave if they were hungry enough, especially with winter coming. "Excuse me a moment so I may get the designs, though you can see the basic idea from the model that Morjin has made." Motioning to the smaller version of the flight cages that Morjin had moved to where they were all conversing, she then turned to disappear where Morjin had come from to get the designs for the spires and pens.

If it made her feel safer as she was new here but such wild predatory animals would have to get over the outer castle wall and the patrolling troops that ensured the safety of all citizens within that which was directly under the castle's domain. He only smiled though, dimples naturally there as the point wasn't needed to be argued on. "Perfect," retorted to Morjin, however. That way his men would not have to break their backs in digging such a large area. He'd have to bring in more of them from the lumber mill. Though they were winding down there with winter approaching and would be closed for duration of the winter months. "Aye," in response to Vanessa before checking on his men. They had cleared the area where they were bringing the concrete blocks to lay the lumber over so it was not directly on the ground. Treated canvas tarps would be laid over the stocked piles to keep them dry until time to be used.

Nodding, he moves slightly so that Vanessa could get by him. Now looking to Jon, the dragon sniffs some in his direction, large, golden cat-like eyes watch his every move, and those of the men as well. "f you need help with clearing the land, I can uproot the trees and plant them elsewhere. And in the process help to raise the land and pack it solid for you."

It wouldn't take Vanessa long. The designs were set out on the ground where she and Morjin had been talking before Jon's arrival. The parchments were picked up off the ground, she turned to walk back to where they were and offered them to Jon. One was the designs for the flight cages, which were to be roughly twenty feet tall and about fifteen feet in radius. The other was the design for the heating spires for the center of the cages. "I'm no building expert. The designs are rather simple so if you have advice for them, I'd appreciate it."

Jon probably smelled a lot of the various trees, cedar being the most distinctive. "That would be very helpful. I have a policy of replanting in proportion of what we cut down so that our mountains never become bald." There were a few trees that had grown in the vicinity that could be replanted along the bordering lot. Taking the plans as they were offered as he went over them with a keen accurate account of structure, depth, height and overall setup. "We will need screening for the milder weather and plate glass for the winter. A lightweight almost near indestructible type the Alterians make." Which had him looking up with a twinkle in bright blue eyes. "They are a clan not from this world but a parallel universe that collapsed onto itself, brought here through the help of others here."

"Would that not constitute moving windows, like what is had in houses?" The dragon would point a claw towards the cottage, then following the man's thoughts, motions to his own little scaled-down version of the flight cages and points to the spaces between. "If it is cold, then the windows can be closed, but the birds will be comfortable. When it is warmer, the windows can be opened to allow air to sweep through and keep the birds from becoming overheated when it gets a lot warmer outside."

"Really, I would like to keep as many trees as possible. I am hoping to be able to build the flight cages around smaller trees for the birds. I wish to keep things as natural as possible." A silent look between the two as they started talking about windows, she moved next to Jon to point to the heating spires. "Those will be sources of warmth safe to the birds. Most of them will be more familiar with winters, such as hawks and blue jays and the spires will be warm enough that they will not freeze. The more tropical birds housed separately, their spires will be hotter to provide the heat that they need accordingly. I'm not overly keen on caging animals to begin with. Being confined within glass I fear will do more harm than good without fresh air."

Mat had caught sight of the wagons and had followed them by coverage of trees and brush. Natural habit of the brave not to interfere but sate his curiosity. There was a large oak in full foliage he had climbed, limber as the squirrels that his presence scattered. He crouched there to watch. Shirtless with leather leggings and moccasin boots lacing up. He had never seen a dragon before and was keeping his distance though just as curious on the strange creature the others didn't seem to be afraid of.

"That is how the Alterians have their solarium, with a great oak growing within. Birds can take flight out and back in through higher windows that are left open, slanted so the snow doesn't get in." Indicating the plans set forth, "then you would like a tree in each of these two rotundas? The top section could me made of this glass with vents then the lower ones with the option of taking the panels out for the spring into autumn?" He would offer suggestions. Though it would be built how she wanted it for she knew better of the birds and their requirements. "So you want them completely open?"

"It might be better if they were completely open. Birds enjoy their freedoms, and I doubt that glassing them in would be a good idea, now that Lady Vanessa has voiced it. Besides, if the glass shatters in a storm, the birds would be in danger of the shards." Morjin could smell the presence of another, but he wouldn't call attention to the one that had snuck up there just yet. Instead, the massive bronze would keep his attention on Jon and the lady who wanted to have her visions made into reality.

She looked quietly between Morjin and Jon with a thoughtful expression. "The frame of the flight cages would be inlaid with a mesh of some sort. Iron lattice would be ideal. Something smooth with as little as possible in the way of nails or other means of fastening to keep the birds safe. That with the spires to keep the air warm and offer perches to collect around them. The design should be kept simple and comfortable. One or two small trees within the pens for nesting and other means of perching. I am going to make canvas tarps for the top of the flight cages that house the tropical birds to keep the elements from filling their pens, such as snow. Does that make sense?"

This was the perfect situation to perform a coup, sliding down from the other side of the tree. Moving swiftly in a crouch in a round about way without nary the tall grass or brush to move giving way his presence. At the last moment he would shoot out, touching the tip of the tail before a warrior cry was let loose and he was back into the thicket. In their custom, it showed an act of bravery to touch something one should fear, such done on enemies in the old days and better than need killing.

"Aye, there should be something as a fine mesh which will help keep out debris blown.." and here he stopped as brows lifted with the young brave shooting out like that, the warrior cry and then disappeared. A moment later he let loose a good hearty laugh. It had struck him funny.

This certainly caught the massive dragon's attention, and since Morjin was over two-hundred feet long from nose to tail, the tail tip that was touched would snake out, wrapping around one of the foolish warrior's limbs, pulling the warrior back towards them. Now Morjin would dangle the person and bring him around to the rest of them, looking the lad over. "And what, praytell, do you think you are doing?"

Vanessa nodded to what Jon said just as she heard the warrior cry and turned to look. She watched Morjin catch the warrior and bring him over, laughing quietly with a hand over her mouth.

Mat didn't struggle when caught and the difference in his ancestry was that his eyes were actually a dark blue instead of near black. "I am Matoskah, White Bear of the tribe of the Bear. Son of Alexander McDonough." Quite proudly. "You are immense creature, that is good luck for me to touch." Actually in this case it was considered an honor on the dragon than anything.



Date: 09-23-09
Poster: Jon McAndrews
Post # 2

Humans...never ceased to amaze him. Their logic and sense of luck and bad luck simply made his eyes cross. But he wouldn't say such. Instead, he simply puts the warrior down gently and lets go of him. On Morjin's left side, and at his rear quarters, was the moss that was used to help keep his wounds from opening again that he had suffered prior to coming here. "Well then, you have quite a story to tell your people, Matoskah."

"Aye, it makes sense and mostly the need to know how you wanted this Avian to be built." Which was his way of getting the extra details before started. "You can guide us along as we go, once the land is cleared, the moat made and trees put into position." Which some of that Morjin would be helping with as volunteered.

She was rather amused watching the dragon and warrior, but listening to what Jon had to say. Her hand dropped from covering her mouth, though she couldn't hide the amused smile, she nodded to Jon. "Is there any way I can help beyond that?"

He saluted the dragon once to his feet again. Fisted hand out into the air before crossed and thudded against his chest. "My twin will be jealous." Dark eyes upon the woman a moment in gentle assessment. At least now he didn't blurt out things like offering two horses and ten buffalo skins for her.

Mat would have confused her beyond belief if he'd offered such things. Golden eyes lacking pupils turned to the warrior, biting back the amused smile as she dipped her head in greeting to him. "Good afternoon."

"Matoskah, this is Lady Vanessa and her friend Morjin, a dragon." In case he didn't know what kind of creature it was. There was a warning in his look upon the young man that he hoped he would read rightly.

He was rough around the edges still but they were smoothing out after three years in the lands. To say the woman was worth two horses and ten buffalo skins was an honor with his people. Meant she was valuable but he caught Jon's look. One his father gave him at times and even Feather when she was helping them adjust. "It is honor," dark eyes tearing from the prince of Ballicastle to the woman again. "You have picked good spot to live."

"A pleasure to meet you, Ma---toskah..." For some reason, that name just did not sound right from her. It had an odd accent. A glance over the gardens then back to Mat. "Thank you. Though it was Laird McDonough that brought me here. I'm grateful to him."

"Chief McDonough," which was the same as Laird and only one Laird, "is my uncle of these lands. My father has a business of things collected from many different lands." He had moved closer, circling her once as he took in her scent to know her by though at least now it was done far more discreetly than sniffing her up and down much like a wolf would. "You smell of air." If that made any sense to her, it did him. "I am known in my father's tribe as Maurice Joseph," which he had gotten easier in saying those names.

"Then no doubt your father is a good man as well." She must have looked frightful. Having been moving things and cleaning, her apron soaked well in blood from mending the dragon's wounds. She watched as he circled around her, arching brow some curiously. "Would it be horrible of me to call you Maurice then?" That way she wouldn't stumble over his other name every time she tried to pronounce it.

"No, if it comes from your tongue, I will like it spoken." Very decisive in that as eyes met then turned to watch the men working and clearing of the good size lot. "You are making another home?" Hand swept out to indicate what he asked upon.

Very slight blush, she smiled to Jon then looked over where the men were clearing space for the flight pens. "Yes, but not for myself. They are helping build homes for birds." She watched quietly for a moment then dipped her hand into a pocket of the apron and produced a fragment of a bronze scale she'd picked up during mending of Morjin's wounds and offered it to Mat. "Here. Since you were brave enough to face Morjin." Though she found Morjin to be very kind as long as he wasn't being threatened. She glanced back to Morjin, hoping he didn't mind that she offered the bit of bronze scale to Mat.

Jon was amused, only the dimples showing and the twinkle in blue eyes giving it away. Leaving the two to talk as one of his foremen approached and he gave him the next sort of orders and indicating the dragon who would be creating the moat, they would go and stake out the distance in circumference.

Morjin had gone deeply into his own thoughts, but now was brought back to the conversation at hand between who was now known as Maurice, and Lady Vanessa. Seeing her hand him a piece of Morjin's scale, he tilts his head and was curious. He wondered how the young warrior would react to being able to carry home a piece of an actual dragon scale.

"I am honored." Which had the stoic brave break into a smile as he took the piece of scale. He would put a fine hole in the one end and make a necklace out of it. He offered her a pouch of wild berries he had been picking for Kuwan to make tart treats from for the rest of them. "They are tart but good." Indicating the pouch. He had a larger sack left by the oak to bring back. That and he would get some rabbits for her rabbit pies.

A smile was given to Morjin before noting the pouch being offered to her. "Tis the dragon's scale, not mine. You should share them with him." She couldn't take credit for the scale really, it didn't belong to her. Just happened to
pick it up.

His hand swung around to offer it to the dragon. "For the lady," as by her own words in what she wished.

There were plenty more of the scales several yards off where Morjin had landed, along with the blood from his wounds. But now he smiles to Vanessa, and then leans in to gently nip the pouch from Maurice's hand, chewing and gulping the whole thing as he nods. "Thank you." His wings tuck up onto his back, and he moves to lay down now, waiting for word to help the others with the preparations for the land.

She just smiled quietly looking between the two and then looked to Jon and what his crew was doing. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"When you are ready." As the foreman had left and they figured the distance around the knoll of where the moat should go. "Vanessa, if you will show him where you want the trees?" All of the lumber had been unloaded and set up on the concrete blocks. Once all the dimensions were marked out, the moat made and trees planted, they would start the foundation.

Morjin took that as his cue, and would get up from his spot to go to where the aviaries would be going. His joints and bones would creak and crack as he stretches, then begins to help them by gently pulling the trees in that section out so that the roots were still intact. He would replant them elsewhere. Then he would begin to pack the land up in a circular way, raising it above the ground about five feet, and using his body and claws and tail to pack it all nice and tightly together.

Mat watched in awe a few more minutes before he was gone much like a quick sweep of air that was there then gone unseen. He blended in well, the sack by the tree gone. It was possible he would be back another time.

A nod was given to Jon, she looked to Morjin. "The trees I would like planted close to the base of the pens, out of way of the spires which will be put in tomorrow." Spoken as she began moving towards where everything was marked for pens. The trees would have to live compatibly with the spires and that was kept in mind. And...Mat disappeared. Curious quirk of her brow, she smirked and shook her head.

While Morjin did his part with Vanessa's guidance on the trees, he set to working with his men in sawing some of the wood down that would be needed. Another wagon was coming in, far slower than theirs had been as concrete blocks would be used for the foundation to keep the area up from the land and moisture.


Morjin would make sure to listen to Vanessa, and nod and continue to pack the land until it was a bit of a column there. Then taking this opportunity, he uses his claws to begin digging the trenches for the moat all the way around the column. Then looking to Vanessa, he smiles. "What do you think of putting large koi fish in the moat as well?"

She watched since there wasn't much else she could really do without fear of getting in someone's way. Looking up to Morjin, she smiled. "Would they survive the winter in the moat?" Not sure the spires would warm that far and she was sure the surface would freeze over come winter.

Once the wagon pulled in, Jon and a few of his men started unloading the blocks near where they would be place.

"They might. I will ask someone I know that has the fish and I will let you know." Getting an idea, something he rarely ever did, he gently moves to lower a wing towards Vanessa, motioning up with his head. "If you like, you may rest on my back while the construction is going on."

Blink...she looked at Morjin for a moment before smirking some. "I...Are you sure?" Remembering their conversation from earlier, she didn't want to make him uncomfortable.

He considered her a friend, and he wouldn't do it for just anyone. Nodding, he smiles and motions for her to come up once again. The moat was done being dug around the column, so he was waiting to see what else they would need help with.

"Alright." She smiled and moved closer. Skirts were gathered in hand to keep from stumbling over the hems and make the climb a bit easier to settle herself on his back.

Once she was settled, he smiles and looks back to her, motioning to the column with his claws. "I have once seen vines of flowers that hung off of cliffs and other ledges. Perhaps you would plant those here as well? They could be hanging just above the moat, among the floating water lilies."

She leaned enough to see what he motioned to. "Perhaps. I will have to see when spring comes. It would be lovely to have vines decorating the pens with lovely flowers that floated on the water."

"It would provide a lovely atmosphere for the birds that you will be housing." He could envision it all in his head now, and wondered if he would settle down, and maybe come up with something similar. But that wasn't anything to concern himself with now.

"It would. Perhaps take away the harshness of the flight pens." Which she would have done away with if given the chance. But for now, the simplicity of the design for comfort and safety worked well enough. "It would seem you've made some new friends today." Which pleased her.

"Indeed." He had never really intended on making friends, but it seemed that he had. He was a dragon, but he felt a sort of kinship with Vanessa. Now he was helping her realize her dreams, and he would see it through until it was done. Now he waits for the others to get done making the cages, and he would help to lift them up and onto the land column when the time came.

Everyone needed friends in her opinion. A place to visit without worry of harm was always a bonus. "Thank you for your help with this, Morjin. It means a great deal to me."

His men started laying the foundation of cinder blocks filled with mortar. All according to the plans before the flooring would be laid, all tongue and groove. With a dozen men, it would go quickly as they were use to working together. The inner building would be completed first before the two rotundas either side would be placed. Here he would utilize the help of Morjin in erecting the tall bending frames.

"You are more than welcome, Lady Vanessa." Morjin meant it, and was purring just a little. Turning his inner fire up when a cool breeze begins to blow around them, he makes an aura of heat around them, his scales glowing slightly from the inside. It wouldn't be too warm, just enough to ward off the cold.

Well, being part phoenix, she preferred warmer temperatures. She was almost dreading the winter cold and hoped to be able to see a great deal of it from inside a warm building. She continued to watch from where she was now seated, brushing her hand over the warmed scales lightly. Pretty color.

This was a good deal done for one day as he'd not overwork his men. He waved to Vanessa up in the sky. "We'll be breaking now for dinner. Back tomorrow to continue." Which his men were taking the time to put away any of the tools they had used to the one wagon which would remain, the unloaded ones of the lumber would be brought back. All materials covered up with the treated canvas tarps.

He was rather content being here with her like this. He had a feeling she needed to be warm, seeming very concerned about the winter that was yet to come. Looking out over the land, he thinks aloud. "This place is a very safe haven for all that seek it. If it were possible, I would stay here much longer."

Hearing Jon, she smiled and waved back to him. "Thank you, Jon. I will see you tomorrow." Then her attention directed back to Morjin with a warm smile. "You're welcome here any time you wish to come for as long as your heart's content."

He saluted the dragon as well but didn't interrupt their conversation, that and the distance. His men were getting into the wagons as they finished and one by one they rambled out, heading back north to Ballicastle and the lumber mill. He had a list now, going by the plans of what else they would need and to be brought when they came back on the morrow. He was on the last wagon out.



Date: 09-27-09
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 3

A Visit

"And as Do I...I have nae control over that...just..flying or walking uses magic." He offered a small smile and then chuckled lightly. He whistled a tune and a few of the peacocks nearby ran over to him. He pulled out a bag from his waist and then put his hands in it and threw out some bread crumbs. He watched them peck at them as if they had not eating in five years. " is Elvy..."

Her birds were fed twice a day along with what bugs and such they could find as well. "A pleasure, Elvy. My name is Vanessa." A small smile was given before leaning forward and reaching out to gently brush down the feathers of one of the birds.

He smiled but did not want to pet the things, for he was not very fond of birds. He had been inside one of them many times. He could be easily mistaken as a dragonfly. That fae held out his hand and waited to see if she would shake it. "Pretty...birds..I like flowers better though." He chuckled lightly, his laughter sounded like the wind chimes that were found all over the place.

It was the perfect time for a walk. Stomach settled after dinner and the weather not quite as cool as it had been the night prior. The walk was no where in particular at first but as he came upon Oak street, he remembered about the new Avian being built. He had run into Jon as well his knight had told him of it, or the woman that it was being built for. So, he turned down that street and headed north until the business district was past and the residential area reached. Wasn't hard to notice which lot the Avian was being built on as he was soon making his way across the grounds to see how much had been completed.

She looked at the offered hand then looked at her own hands again, both of which were dirty since she'd been working to clean up the gardens. So a small smile was offered once more. "Flowers are nice, but they tend to be seasonal." Both hands picked up the dirty apron from her lap to try and wipe her hands free of at least some of the dirt. The Avian gardens were doing quite nicely. Most of which were finished and she'd already started housing birds of various sorts, including the peacocks that roamed around freely in the garden and around the cottage.

He came to a halt within a short distance as hands rested against his hips his head tipping back, drawing a keen glance to travel up the lines of the structure. He wore a sleeveless tunic over a poet's shirt, dark brown pants and boots lacing up. Not all that different from many others but there was a fine cut to the material and perhaps the aura about the man himself that spoke of something different, trying not to be perhaps. A glint sharpened in sienna eyes that dropped with the dip of his head to watch the peacock that came closer, fanning its tail in all its splendor. "How do you do too," giving the strutting bird a salute by a fisted hand against his chest.

Being seated near the cottage, she heard the male voice addressing the bird and turned attention towards the fence that lined the road. Vanessa looked as though she'd been working all day, because she had. A tanned dress with an apron tied over, smudged with dirt much like her face and arms where sleeves should have reached but were pulled up. Golden hue found the man talking to the peacock, then looked to Elvy. "Excuse me a moment." The apron was straightened as she stood up and approached the front of the lot. "Good eve, sir." Greeted with a small smile.

Hearing the voice, and a lovely sounding one at that, he turned in that direction. Hands moving away from his hips with a warrior's gait eating up the distance. "You must be Lady Baltimore." More a statement than a question for she had come from the direction of the cottage. "I was told of the Avian being built and being up this way, decided to come see it. I hope I am not intruding." Sienna eyes shifting the fraction in focus beyond her to where she had company up by her place. Dipping away in the next instance with a genuine smile that melted away the more stoic appearance.

She continued her own steady though dainty gait to meet him somewhere in the middle, and stopped a comfortable distance from him. The small smile brightened some with a nod. "That I am, and no intrusion. All are welcome here." She'd have offered a hand, but again...they were dirty from cleaning the gardens. "I'm afraid you have an advantage, as you've not introduced yourself, Sir."

He noticed her hands but to him that was a plus in the intricate making of the woman. One not afraid to get her hands dirty. "Ah, yes, a faux pas on my part but indeed I was getting to that after there was no denial in you being the Lady Baltimore. I am Peter O'Neill, recently in from Innis Daingneach." Not putting out his title in particular as enough was given as to who he was but in these lands and his, especially for his background, the worth of one was in what kind of person they were not who they were born to.

The warmth of her smile remained as she received a name. "A pleasure to meet you, Sir O'Neill. Welcome to the Avian Gardens. Most of the birds are further into the gardens, but I see you have already been greeted by one of the peacocks." Motioning to the bird who had wandered off on his own.

"Aye," slightly turning on a heel to see the bird wandering further away before he was back facing the lass, "a royal greeting at that in his full splendor of feathers. You may call me Peter." Which if she returned the favor then he would use her name accordingly. "I thank you for the welcome. Are you settling in comfortably?" Eyes upon her the duration though lifting to survey the area of gardens being worked on as well the cottage. One of a fine structure.

"They enjoy showing their colors." She chuckled softly and gave a nod to calling him by his first name. "Very well, Peter. You can call me Vanessa." She turned to look over the property, following his attention. "I am. People have been very generous in assisting me to complete my goals and I feel right at home." She turned back to him with a curious tilt of her head. "Have you traveled far from Innis Daingneach?" Probably butchered the pronunciation of that.

Which he helped her with the pronunciation, voice lowered in its baritone quality. "It is Gaelic meaning Island Fortress. It is a few days travel from the south seas, Vanessa." Using her given name for the first time and he had a way of rolling it off his tongue with a certain brogue. One that had been cultured for the many years he traveled as a warrior. "Innis is a more tropical island. Though, in the many years abroad, I have accustomed myself to harsher climates." She might notice skin that was newly bronzed and hair streaked gold by the sun. "I come here as I have men stationed here as well King Karl von Rundstedt is as a brother."

She blushed while trying to copy his pronunciation of his home. Might have been a bit of quiet laughter at her own attempts. She seemed to perk up some at the mention of the island being tropical. To her, that meant warmth! And sunshine. Warmth! "Sounds like a lovely place. Are your men part of the guard here?"

Which had his eyes light up, about the only part not stoic about the man unless he smiled. He had once been carefree, playboy like his brother, but that all changed one year in a heated exchange of words between him and his father, disinherited, he left only to see far too much death. Unnecessary killing and worse in tortures. He was only now beginning to move away from that horror. A low chuckle that blended with her light laughter. She had done well and he was impressed she gave it a second, even third try. "Yes, four of the knights here are under me. I spend enough time in these lands to warrant such. Sir Calhoun, Sir Lancely, Sir Aiden and Sir Gabriel. They are around I am sure, in the least upon the king's field or spar fields behind the Hall. Especially Lancely as he has the kind of mind to create contraptions that have tested the skill of all knights and warriors."

She listened as he spoke of the Knights and now wished that Shou was here so that he could have spoken about them. The odd eastern man was odd and thrilled at the prospect of meeting a Knight and possibly having a spar. The names were repeated in her head to see if perhaps she recalled any of them, but right off the top, she couldn't say she did. Smiled none the less though. "Then you must spend your fair share of time in the area. I'm sure they'll be happy to see you."

"We have a good rapport." All the kings and king's men had that in these lands and those of sister lands. "Do you need any help?" Dipping glance to her hands then up to the gardens that looked like they had recently been worked in.

She was about to comment on the rapport when he asked if she needed help. She looked at her hands and smiled meekly. " I was just cleaning some of the dead undergrowth from the gardens today." Which there were quite a few piles as evidence here and there. "If you'd like to see some of the birds, they are closer to the rear of the lot." No sense in him getting dirty as well. Evening was approaching and there soon wouldn't be any light for such chores as gardening.

"Shall I gather the piles and burn them down near the lake?" Which would be safest on the sandy shore. He knew of the lake behind the cottages here. Peter had no trouble getting his hands dirty. Which had him recall something, "I do believe you have met my knight, Sir Calhoun." More a statement as he started for one of those piles.

"You really don't have to." It wasn't that she didn't appreciate the offer, but surely this man hadn't come here to work and get dirty even if he didn't mind. She thought over the name he'd given and after a moment she nodded and smile. "Oh, yes. I met him a few nights ago at the Thistle." Recalling their passing banter with a quiet laugh. In passing, she picked up a pile of pulled garden things and turned to walk back towards the lake with him.

He had a good armful, not too much that he couldn't see where he was going but most of what she had pulled up. "I would not have offered," to him most things were black and white. In short, he didn't say or commit to something he didn't really wish to do. "It is a very nice area here. The lake freezes in the winter and can be used for ice skating." Which had him laugh as they reached the shore and a spot chosen that would have the fire not near anything that could catch with any sparks that lifted. "Ever see a frozen lake at night with torches lit to give some light and snowflakes falling? There is something very peaceful of such a sight and the night silent as one holding their breath for something wonderful to happen." Arranging the pile then adding hers to it before he was heading back up to get the next pile of underbrush left.

There was a wax sealed note tucked in his tunic pocket as Cal went in search of his King. A few citizens stopped on the way that enough of which had seen him so pointed Cal in the right direction. A whistled tuned picked up as he headed up the street in that direction. Night would be here soon as the sky was turning those pink and purple colors that would blaze into golds and reds soon enough. Seeing Peter coming up from the lake, he turned on that property to give him a fisted salute as he approached. "Sire, a message." Which he then drew from the pocket to offer over.

Ice skating must have been a major thing here. She'd heard about it from nearly everyone who had words regarding the winter sports. To his question though, she shook her head. "No, I've not seen such a sight. Perhaps this year that will change." She smiled, freeing her arms from around the dried brush when he took it and turned to walk back into the gardens for some more. Seeing Cal approach, brow quirked but she offered a smile to the man. No interruption though as it seemed he was on duty at the moment. Sire? The word caught her attention, she looked over to Peter curiously.

"This year then shall bring such a wondrous sight as well many more. There are froze waterfalls in blue white lights that give it a surreal feel," though his words were cut off there as Calhoun approached and in turn taking the note. He recognized the seal and had a good idea what the note contained. It would wait a little longer as it was tucked into his tunic pocket. "Come give us a hand, bringing this brush down to the lake shore will allow us to have it burned safely and less for the lady to do." Which he was over to collect up more of the brush.

The glint in Fae green eyes was short of wicked, or mischievous might be more appropriate. He noticed the look for the word used but said nothing on it. Only a bow of his head. "Vanessa, it is good to see you again. Dirty hands," giving a humorous tsk under his tongue but the wink that followed especially showed the tease as he was over to help out Peter and her in turn by gathering up as much of the underbrush he could carry. Once done he was following Peter down to where he planned to burn the brush.

She looked from Peter to Cal with a small grin and faux prideful lift of her chin. "Dirty hands for all the right reasons, Calhoun. It's nice to see you again as well." She wasn't going to question the formal addressing Cal gave to Peter. Instead she was going to gather up another pile to take down towards the lake. "Thank you both for the help." Now that night was drawing closer, the chirps of day hour birds were growing quiet, leaving only the sounds of the owls and a few of the hawks to cry out.

Which had him give a scratch along the scruff of his jaw once his brush was set to the pile. Stepping away, "aye, all the right reasons but not as much fun, eh?" Tossing in a wink and he had kept it clean enough to keep up the tease.

"Yes, Calhoun, all the right reasons compared to your type of reasons." Which had him laugh as he knew his knight only teased the lass in all good sport. He had gathered up some small pieces which he placed under the larger stack as he crouched down. Drawing out the empowered sword had a blue white light sleek up its blade. Easiest way to start this fire over flint and steel. A good size stone, he brought the blade down against, slicing it like a potato which also had sparks to fly off the blade and set the kindling ablaze after a few strikes. He was up, not a mark on the blade that was slid back into its scabbard at his left hip. The hilt was exactly like the one worn at Calhoun's hip and if she got to meet the rest of his knights or any of the knights and kingsmen of these lands she might start noticing the hilts were all the same of theirs too.

Date: 09-27-09
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 4

Brow rose to Cal's comment as she set the pile she carried onto the pile being made. "You'll never know, Calhoun. You'll just have to use that witty imagination of yours because you missed the fun." Her smile spoke that she teased as she turned attention to watch Peter start the fire to burn the useless brush. When it started to blaze, she kept a close eye on it to make sure it didn't grow larger than need be.

"Aye, I have? What kind of fun prey tell." He was actually interested in what story of amusement would emerge as he found this lass to have wit. Not all did and so the reason he continued his banter with her. He picked up one of the larger branches which he stripped of any smaller ones and leaves, one to be used to poke around the pile as it burned to help the process and keep it from scattering while burning down. This night he wore a sleeveless tunic and no shirt, black pants and boots lacing up and yes, the empowered sword hung at his side as well an eating dagger and filet knife on the belt, in sheathes also.

Looking back to Cal, she took on a far more serious expression. "You should have seen it! Wicked fae-folk appeared out of nowhere within the gardens and threatened to turn me into a frog!" Which was actually true. "He prodded my arm and was mean." The serious expression faded into a very subtle grin though. The story was true, but she exaggerated it a bit just for the purpose of being funny.

"Must have been a Fae gone loco in the head. Fae's I know would capture you up and whisk you away to be their queen or at least try and use all their charms to sway you to fall in love with them." Except he had serious tone, there were many Fae in these lands, from sprites to nymphs and then some human mixes as well Elves. "Must not have been a Fae from these lands but a renegade if he was mean." That part didn't sound right to him.

She plucked a small twig that had gotten caught on her apron and threw it playfully at Cal. "Who would want a dirt smudge pho...woman for their queen? You surely jest, Sir Calhoun. And I am sure he was not a fae from these areas." A glance cast back towards the bench to see the over-grown fae gone apparently, she shook her head and smiled back to Cal. "But I know if such were true, you'd come to my rescue for you'd miss my wit and dazzling charms." Snickering softly, clearly joking.

Blond-brown brows lifted as he listened to the banter between Vanessa and Calhoun. Concern was there in his eyes for the words had truth ringing in them. "I will alert the Druid Prince, he would not be happy to hear of such mean spirited Fae in these lands. There are wards." Why certain kinds didn't stay around like goblins.

The twig fell short but that didn't stop him from dashing forward to scoop her up into his arms. Very strong arms as he was heading into the wake of the lake, boots on and all. "I will bet you wash up nicely that then they will be dazzled by your beauty. Surely a human as beautiful as any Fae Maiden." There was that glint in his eyes that made them look so Fae as he proceeded in further with her still clutched securely in his arms. "Aye it would be a tragedy so a washing would be a double blessing..."

She looked at Peter and shook her head. "No, no, no need to alert. The fae..the man you saw here earlier, well his threats were made, but it was over a misundessss..." And then she was scooped up with a squeak and both arms wrapped around Cal's neck as he seemed to be heading for the lake. She was all giggles though and cheeks blushed a darker shade of rouge. "Calhoun, you're full of flattery and hot air. You'd not dare drop me in the lake!" Hopefully he wouldn't!

Smile slowly grew as arms wrapped around his neck. Eyes dipped that were a certain green with gold flecks mixed in. Chin tucked so that he could see her better. Then made like he was dropping her but she'd find those strong arms in a new hold, one that he could sweep her down and around just over the top of the water before he turned and headed the short distance back in. "On a warmer day, certainly, but I would be remiss if by doing so, you'd take a chill and become sick." Which as a knight would be very wrong of him no matter the banter. Instead he safely set her to her feet upon the sand.

He watched as something that came second nature to him but then left the two to their teasing as he saw to the fire. The stick Cal had obviously abandoned was taken up to continue poking and stoking so that the fire continued to burn down the brush safely.

Another of those squeaky kind of cries/giggled when she was dipped down closer to the water, probably soaking the hem of her skirt. Nothing to concern about. In the same motion, her arms tightened around him out of reflex before he turned to walk back towards the sand. "A blessing for me then for surely I would have no means of returning the favor of dropping you in the water." Little petite Vanessa picking Cal up to drop him in the lake. Funny imagery. Set down, she straightened her skirt and smiled to him. "And yet you're going to walk in wet boots?" She took his upper arm gently to walk him closer to the warmth of the small fire. "You're not permitted to get ill." She looked at Peter with a smile. "Would either of you can for something to drink?" Since they were there, might as well ask.

"Aye, but it might prove interesting watching you try." Dimples dipped with the flash of a smile, one tipped more to the right. He took a lean to check the back of her dress with a swipe of his hand to dispel any debris she'd not see. If there was any? Straightening away one could wonder for the glint in Fae eyes. "Not to worry for these are treated that water does not soak through." The leather so fine and supple they fitted perfectly with the pieces wrapping over the other to fit. Strolling with her the distance to the fire like on a Sunday to mass. His hand settled over the curve of hers about his arm. Once there, his would lift away as she was released. "I would not mind a drink if my Sire has the time?" Looking from her to Peter as he knew that note would not wait too much longer. They were expected.

He was around as the fire had burned down far enough it would pose no problem in burning out the rest of the hour. "I think we have time for a drink with the lady." Smile touched off in sienna eyes as the light from the fire played over bronze skin and hair. A heritage in his blood yet to discover was hinted at under such lighting.


She couldn't help but laugh at the thought of trying to drop Cal in a lake. When he swiped at the back of her skirt, she paused and looked at him, then down at her skirt. Undoubtedly she had bits of grass and leaves and what not all over. She'd spent a decent amount of time crawling around the gardens to take out the dried brush and such things. When both men agreed to a drink, she nodded. "I have a small pitcher of ale, some cider and water. What is your preference?"

"Ale would quench a dry throat this evening." For some reason he couldn't picture her chugging ale, though sipping on lemonade would fit her petite frame. "This fire we can leave, it is near down, sand doesn't burn nor water." Else he'd dampen it down and out which it was getting near to that as it were. Obviously they would head up to her cottage in escort than have her go up and need to come back down carrying the pitcher and mugs.

Kicking sand on some edges to put them out complete before he would join Peter along with Vanessa in heading up to the cottage. "Ale would do me nicely also."

Once their requests had been given, she turned to walk with them towards the cottage. "Thank you again for the help with the dead brush." She really did appreciate it. The walk wasn't too long and the side door of the cottage was left open, leading into the kitchen. The cottage was still bare of most of its furnishings, but she had acquired some of the necessities, such as a small kitchen table with four chairs. "Make yourselves comfortable." Once inside, she veered off for a small tub of water to wash her hands in, then picked up two pints to fill with ale, by ladle.

"It is the least we could do." Something those of these lands did if offered the opportunity. Which had come about and he seized the moment. He got a better view of the cottage's structure as they approached then within with a duck of his head. Drawing out a chair for her first, he took up one of the remaining three. Hand guiding the sword to the side as he sat and got comfortable, naturally checking out the interior. "Nice feel to it," more a comment to himself under his breath and held the tone of approval.

Cal was in right behind his king and taking up a chair to the other side of the one drawn out for Vanessa. "How many days have you been living within the cottage? The Avian building went up quickly but that doesn't surprise me with the McAndrews prince and his men."

The cottage suited her way even if it was a bit more room than she required. The extra space was nice. Once she'd acquired the two pints, and a mug of cider for herself, she joined them at the table, setting their drinks on the center so they could reach for them. "Mm...I've been in the cottage for nearly a week, I believe. Perhaps a day or two short." She looked at Cal when he mentioned the prince and blinked. "They did a fine job on the flight cages. A friend of mine insisted on helping, so it made it a bit easier."

"You had even more help then. Gets things done quicker as the snow is not long in the waiting. The leaves on the trees are turning and after they cover the earth, so then the snow will fall to hide them in a virgin blanket until spring is to return." Taking up one of the pints as he set to a long drink of the ale.

"You should be settled in well before the snow comes. If there is anything you need, let me know." He certainly had resources to see her in what little comforts she had need of. Though he understood the spirit of the kind of woman that didn't depend on a man to find comforts for herself while many were frivolous. More one closer to the other but not a complete cold shoulder to one wishing to help out.

"I did. The dragon certainly helped move things along." She lifted her mug for a small drink of the cider, looking between the two then to Peter with a nod. "Thank you. I will certainly keep the offer in mind." A smile given to the offer and another turn of her attention between them. "I take it then that you both are prepared for winter?"

He looked first to Peter than back with a lazy smile tipping off to the side. "Aye, it makes me appreciate spring all the more though it is possible a trip that has been held off will come about for part of the winter in Innis." Which was his home prior relocating here to work with the other knights appointed, sharing tactical skills.

There was still the business of helping out some merchants of lands they traded with if needed. The renegades seemed to stall their assaults aside gaining more information on where it was coming from exactly. "I think it would be a good time to head back to the island for a while. The other three are still waiting to see it. They will probably employ you as their guide. I'm sure you will show them all the best places." Which would mean the four of them finding enough entertainment while there. "Elaina is to be married soon and preparations are being made." Which meant her ladies coming back with them. Which in and of itself usually proved an interesting time. He worked on his ale, quenching his thirst in between adding his comments.

"The spring will be welcome after a winter." She fell quiet with another small drink of the cider as she listened to the conversation pass between the two men. "How far is Innis?" Curious since he said it was more tropical. It must have been quite a distance to avoid the cold weather.

"Near a good week to two by sea. We have one of the finest fleets of warships. Many up this way for recent events but they are disguised while patrolling. Finishing off his ale as the time had come to see to the matter of the note. He rose once done. "I thank you for your hospitality, Vanessa. It has been a real pleasure to meet and welcome you to the lands."

"I've had the pleasure twice over." Rising in the wake of his king as his tankard was emptied of its last before set aside. "As was offered, if you have need of anything, let Alex know as he knows how to get in touch with us." Though he doubted the lady had needs she didn't usually take care of herself unless unable to.

Seemed like such a long time on a small space of a ship. She pondered that a moment until Peter rose from his seat, followed by Cal. Setting her mug down, she stood up to walk them to the door. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Peter and always nice to see you Calhoun." Attention moved between the two according to who she spoke to. "Thank you again for the offer. I hope to see you both soon and bid you a safe night." Smiling to both, she'd not rush them to the door, but walked with them when they were ready.

There was something they could see to for her. "You will be needing wood for the winter, so allow me to see to a couple of cords being delivered and stacked to the one side where the trees offer shelter." Or, if needed, he would see that a small building with a roof constructed that would be just big enough for about four cords. "Good night, sleep sweet knowing you are safe and will be warm for the winter that is coming."

He nodded in agreement and they would see to the task, probably with Peter's help in chopping the wood needed. Why his knights were so loyal, they were not separate but as one. "Good night Vanessa, may the Fae be more kind you meet in the future though with wit and charm test your skills as it should be." Giving a quick wink as he followed his King out.

Fire wood. Oddly something she'd not even thought of as of yet. She smiled to that and dipped her head. "Thank you." And would see them to the door.

Once out and beyond the cottage he would go over some matters with Calhoun as he knew he would be made privy to certain information as well reading the note.



Date: 10-08-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 5

The Chosen

The weather was a bit chillier than Vanessa preferred. Skies were lightly overcast but not too dark. Just...chilly. The gates were open for those who wanted to venture into the gardens. Cottage door closed, as Vanessa was around in the gardens working with one of the cockatoos. A wooden perch where the bird was sitting, Vanessa stood with him. Dark purple cloak with the hood drawn up over the back of her hand, one hand gloved the other not. She lifted the bare hand, brushing her fingers lightly over the bird's chest feathers, with a small slice of dried fruit held between fingers. "Salutations." Spoken to the bird, who then mimicked the word. Salutations.

It wasn't the best of days but then it wasn't the worse of them either. He heard tell snow was on its way for next week though it wouldn't be anything that stayed, just looked pretty coming down. He had a run to do tomorrow that would take him the whole weekend and so there wasn't picking a better day as he was already late in getting to the Avian Gardens for the bet won. Cool enough to have him wearing a lined brown leather long vest over a soft cotton shirt of light blue. Pants of brown as well the boots lacing up. He headed through the open gates, a whistled tune accompanying him as he noted the cottage door closed and averted his path to the Avian Gardens. Most likely Vanessa would be there and there she was, not hard to miss as his steps slowed, brows up impressed as he heard the parrot mimic her word. All proper too unlike what one would learn on a ship amongst sailors. He didn't say anything but waited for he wished not to interrupt what seemed to be a training lesson.

Properly mimicked, she fed the bird a small bit of the dried fruit as reward and waited for him to finish with it. The bird repeated the word, but with a crane of his head and attention turned to Segan. Salutations. Brow quirked, she turned to find Segan standing there and not having to wait long. "Well, hello there." She smiled, offering the remaining portion of fruit to the bird. "Did your run end early?" Curious, she thought she heard Segan mention having a run today.

Maybe the bird could learn to salute with the word, "salutations," hand coming up to salute and a growing smile that was fully by the time his hand lowered. "Salutations, Lady Vanessa," all proper as he saluted again as if reinforcing the gesture with the word. From his understanding these particular birds could learn to do tricks too aside being able to talk. "The run is tomorrow and I shall be back Sunday if not sooner," all depended on the weather and cooperation of those the cargo was delivered to, if they had the money for it which he was to collect. No excuses. None. Or he came back with the goods and the last Bovee dealt with these customers.

So formal. She smiled to that and motioned him closer. "I take it that you've come to see about your bird, Captain Segan?" A nod given to the insight about his run. "Well, I hope it's safe and that the snow spares you. Waits until your return to fall." It was certainly getting cold enough for snow, even if it didn't last.

"Aye, my lady, you have assumed correctly," a twinkle rising to blue eyes as he stepped closer and closer still, chin dipping as with the proximity he needed to dip a glance down to keep eye contact. "That is if the lady is not indisposed with her duties to her feather students." His smile growing, "where I am headed it is warmer so I will be spared though I'm sure back in time to see the first snowfall over these lands." Being he and his brothers had not arrived until last summer. Though he knew enough about what was offered during the coldest of seasons.

the bird mimicked once more, raising a wing in mimic of the salute from Segan. A bit late, as though the bird was considering the action. M'lady the bird squawked, ruffling his feathers against the chilly breeze. Vanessa turned to better face Segan with a small grin, hearing the bird. "Of course not. A bet is a bet you made your win." Her hand blindly brushed across the bird's chest to nudge against his legs and urge him to step onto her hand. "I look forward to seeing the first snow but likely from near the hearth." Perhaps her anticipation of the cold would be worse than the truth of it. "So, have you any preference which of the cages you'd like to visit first?" He'd mentioned both parrots and hawks, so she wasn't sure. The bird perched on her hand, she held her thumb firmly over the talons to offer a sense of stability.

"I'm liking this parrot more and more. He's a gentleman," assuming it was a male but very well could be a female. "I will go wherever you lead me this day, Vanessa, for I am at your disposal." Win or not if she needed help with anything he had two strong hands to lend to any task. As the parrot stepped on her hand, his curled that he slowly moved it to brush against the bird's chest.

She smiled, taking what Segan said as a compliment and looked to the creamy white colored bird. "He's a good bird. Very intelligent." She looked at the bird when Segan brushed his hand against it. Removing her thumb, the bird attempted to step up on Segan's hand. If he took the bird, she moved her hand away. "Well, I thought either a parrot or a hawk. A parrot makes a good companion because it can learn and speak, and can be trained to scout. A hawk is not as conversational, but can hunt. Which would more suit you?"

The lady knight had been keeping a low profile, looking around a small section of the kingdom in her quest for knowledge. But now as she happens upon the avian gardens, her horse moving steadily along the path, she thought about what kind of bird she might want. She didn't wear her armor today, keeping it back at the tavern. All she had was her normal clothing, and her sword on her person. Her long golden blonde hair was loose today, and she smiles as a gentle breeze blows through it, and her horse continues along at his normal pace. He was about the size of a warhorse, but seemed as gentle as a lamb.

"Aye, I can see that he is aside looking as grand as he acts." His hand stalling to allow the bird to climb up on it. Probably a bit more to sit on for his hands were much larger than hers, weathered too with hard work. "Though I might not take him on me ship but keep at the manor for when I am there." She knew why for this gentleman mannered bird would become quite the foul mouthed pirate mascot. He was thinking it over for he also went hunting with his brothers when ashore and had the time. Though neither his brothers had time of late. Distracted as another came about though he didn't jar his arm any with the cockatoo sitting there. "I think you are getting more company," recognizing Malaika from the distance as it would take her a few more to reach them. "I would like to see the hawks too," always best in making a choice but he was starting to favor the cockatoo.

The day was chilly with a slight overcast. Gates of the garden and cottage were left open and a few colored and white peacocks wondered around the grounds freely. Vanessa and Segan would be found to the side of the cottage in the
gardens. She could understand why he wouldn't want a bird on the ship and all the ... amusing things the bird would undoubtedly pick up on. "Well, you can always have more than one. If one settles with you today, which it seems the
cockatoo is doing, you can return for a hawk or falcon." She leaned back some to look around Segan and smiled to Malaika. "Aye. She was curious about a bird as well." The woman was given a wave before looking back to Segan. "Why don't you see if you can teach him something to say?"

Seeing the two she had met that night at the tavern, Malaika waves back and smiles, coming closer, carefully moving Nokar around the peacocks so they wouldn't get accidentally trampled. Once she is where they are, she dismounts, patting his side and letting him go off to eat some grass while she bows her head to them. "Good day to you both. I hope you're quite well today." Seeing that Segan had a big white bird on his arm, she smiles and moves closer, making little clicking noises to it and reaching out to pet it gently.

"If I return for a hawk or falcon, I will be purchasing him." Tone low with conviction although he was very appreciative of this becoming a bit more than he had suggested he would not take advantage. "Grandmama might take him over on me," but most likely he would become a favorite in the Quinn household with everyone. Though technically his, the bird would go with whomever it decided to like. Then to the bird he let watch his lips move, "top o' t'e morn," which was another greeting and the way he rolled the words together in a definite Irish brogue, made it sound almost one long word. Then to the warrior lass, "good day to you Malaika."

A smile to Mal. "Doing quite well. How are you?" The bird was an umbrella cockatoo. It looked at Segan as he spoke the greeting, and did his best to mimic the words. Top t'e morn spoken over a rough sort of squawk. It would take a few tries for the bird to accomplish and practice to remember. Reaching into the pocket of her cloak, she pulled free a couple slices of dried fruit. "Reward him for his accomplishment." Spoken more as a suggestion with a smile to Segan. "I think he likes you." Vanessa brushed her fingers over the bird's head, causing the feathers to rise, then did the same thing against the bend of his wing so he opened it up to show off the fair yellow coloring along the inside of the feathers.

"I am very good, thank you." As she watches them with the bird, she couldn't help but chuckle. "Such a smart animal. If I could teach Nokar to do that then I would have had someone to talk with on my travels." Her horse seemed to look at her with a bit of annoyance, coming up behind Mal to nudge her hard with his muzzle and knock her off-balance. She laughs and hugs his muzzle, giving him a kiss and a whole apple to munch on before turning back to them. "I don't know if I would want a parrot like that, or a bird of prey...a hard decision to make."

He chuckled for how it sounded with the squawk but one could tell the brogue was attempted with the words. He had done remarkably well. Taking the slices, which he now knew to do in reinforcing any training and one was offered. "You are quite the beauty." From the white to yellow feather and the crown he wore proudly. "What all do they eat?" He would need to make sure he was properly fed and if he needed a cage and/or a perch to be on. Then to Mal, "perhaps a bird the horse liked and would speak for him." Which might prove to be an interesting concept.

Looking to Mal, she smiled. "Well, if you spend a great deal of time out and about and intend to take the bird with you, I would suggest one that is more likely to be of assistance. Since you are a knight, a hawk or falcon might do well for you, taught to hunt and scout. They all make good companions, just not all are as verbal as the parrots or song birds." Looking back to Segan. "Mostly fruits, some vegetation and seed. Now and then they enjoy a cricket or something along those lines. I have a couple houses if you'd like one. They do well with perches, but if you're anticipating a lot going on, then a cage to keep him from flying into the ceiling." The cockatoo, feeling more comfortable, adjusted his hold and walked his way up to Segan's shoulder, bobbing his head a bit.

"Hmmm...might I see your selection when you have the chance?" She giggles as she watches the pretty cockatoo seeming to take quite well to Segan. "Seems you have a new friend there." She would wait until they were done before she would see which kind of hunting and scouting bird she might be able to acquire.

"And leather ties?" For after the bobbing of his head he had reached back with his beak to tug and chew, leaving Segan's near shoulder length hair to fall free. The bird was proudly working on the leather. "I will build the perch but will buy a cage to keep him in." Which he had the funds for all the races he betting on correctly. Lots of coins, time to start spending some of them. "Shall I leave him here while we go look at the hawks and falcons," for Mel's sake but he wanted to see them as well. He would also need to think of a good and proper name for the cockatoo.

A nod given to Malaika and one to Segan with a laugh. "And leather ties." She motioned to the four flight cages gathered around the hut, which was where she kept supplies. "You can leave him on the perch there." Motioning to where she'd lifted the bird from. Waiting for Segan to settle the bird before moving off to the furthest of the cages to the right where hawks and falcons were housed. Getting closer to the cages, the warmth increased thanks to the heating spires in the center of the cages.

She would follow them towards the cage, and marvels at the birds held within. They all looked so regal, and perfect for the hunt. She would wait for Vanessa to open the cage, and she would poke her head in and look around. "Such marvelous birds."

It only took him a few moments for the bird was quite content presently with his new toy to chew on and moved from hand to perch. Once the bird was settled, he was around to smooth back his hair from his face and join them as hands lowered down to his sides. He hung back being this was more for Mal to choose. "Do you do a lot of hunting, Malaika?"

The cages were twenty feet tall and about fifteen feet wide with a tree inside along with the spire. The flight cage that housed the prey birds had the least amount, due to size and that they tended to be a bit more territorial. A small crate next to the door of the cage, she leaned down to open it up and withdrew two heavy leather gloves with arm protection. Both were offered to Mal, one for left hand one for right. "Wear this on your dominant hand."

"Not so much hunting, as merely traveling. But if and when I hunt in my travels, it never hurts to have an extra scout handy." She smiles to Segan, then nods to Vanessa as puts on the right glove. Then stepping into the cage fully, she looks around at the birds as they seem to stare at her. She would give the birds their space, wondering how she could choose...She almost felt unworthy to be here.

"One that can pick out a rabbit and bring it back before you set yourself to ready." Which would come in hand on a long trek over lands and getting hungry to only eat beef jerky or the like which was the usual staple. Oh, he knew. Been there and a place he'd rather not return unless absolutely needed. Though being out at sea and the adventures it took him on, some might prefer the other. He would watch, keenly checking out each and every bird of prey present. Sure and a few of them checked him out too as well Mal.

Once Mal had the glove, the door was opened to allow her in. Most of the birds were higher up and turned attention to both Mal and Vanessa as they entered. "Now, hold your arm up. If one here is meant for you, it will come to you." Waiting until Mal rose her gloved hand skyward, Vanessa clicked and whistled a few various sounds, mimicking some of the sounds that hawks were familiar with in a sort of communication. It drew their attention a bit closer, a couple of the birds came down closer to inspect Mal, and closer yet to try and get a feel for her. After a couple of minutes, a hawk shaded in various browns, blacks and white would come to the call and perch itself on Mal's arm. Vanessa smiled lightly. "You've been chosen. She's a cooper hawk. Wait here for a moment."


"Oh my...goodness..." She didn't think any of them would choose her, their gazes all seemed too assessing. But now she had a hawk that chose her...and she was in awe of the beautiful one. She wasn't sure if she could reach her hand up to pet her or not, not wanting to disrespect the bird, and/or lose a finger.


Meanwhile Karina was puttering around behind the scenes, in one of the cages furthest from where the small group was now gathered. With her skinny but steely-strong arms, she used a rake to turn over the mulch of the cage floor, searching for any leftover messes she might have missed. The occupants of this cage, kestrels, were not exactly neat eaters.... and not always keen on her presence here with that big rake either. But somehow they'd become her favorites, and she chattered to them lightly as she worked and they hovered restlessly all around.

He was intrigued when the first initial name for the cockatoo came to mind. "Mister Bently." Watching the hawk with Mal and Vanessa from where he stood. He shook his head, "no, Master Bently." That sounded more right.

The hawk had a very firm grip, which was the purpose of the glove, to keep the hawk's talons from breaking the skin. The hawk bobbed her head, studying Mal carefully, but seemed quite comfortable. Around both legs was a thin though well made with eyelets. Vanessa stepped out of the hawks' cage long enough to pick up a leather throng then back to where Malaika and the hawk were. The throng was laced through the eyelets of the cuffs. "This will keep her from taking flight before you're ready. It's very important that you let her hunt daily. It helps keep her skills on par, and keeps her from becoming so docile that she no longer urges to hunt." She motioned to the cage door, letting Mal out first. "You can pet her and talk to her."



Date: 10-08-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 6

Of course Segan would pipe in, "what kind of bird is that cleaning up after the others?" Having noticed movement and who that movement was from the short distance across.

Vanessa snickered softly. "That would be a Karina bird. Rare indeed."

"Thank you, so very much." She would take the thong once it was looped through the eyelets at the bird's talons. After she comes out of the cage, she slowly reaches her other and up to stroke the bird's wings, using a gentle touch as she gently speaks to her. "You are such a magnificent bird. I feel honored that you chose me." She was still rather surprised, but then Mal looks and listens to Vanessa and Segan, chuckling a little now herself as she continues to stroke the hawk that chose her.

"Aye, a rare Karina bird at work." Loud enough she would hear of course.

Karina wasn't paying much attention to the visitors, since such was fairly common and she was rather absorbed with her task. But then she heard her name mentioned and glanced up from the rake. A blink as she pushed a few intrusive curls out of her eyes, with the back of her hand, then she broke into a grin when she recognized Segan. "Hiya." She called from within the kestrel cage, though not too loudly, for these small falcons were more sensitive than some others.

She walked with Malaika just out of the cages and motioned to the gardens were some other perches stood. "Get to know her. It will make training easier for you both." Her attention then went to Segan. "So, what do you think? Are you going to content yourself with Master Bently for now, or try your hand at a prey bird as well?"

He raised a hand to wave in her direction, smile sweeping in place, "hello Karina." Actually proud of her in her new job and under Vanessa's care. One he trusted to do well by her. Then back to Vanessa as the smile lingered. "I think I will take one step at a time. I am thinking a bird of prey would be good for each of me brothers come Yule and later than sooner I will purchase one for myself." He might become one of her best customers as he had a few sisters that love-birds might be perfect for.

Smiling and nodding, she goes to a perch that wasn't too close to any other birds that might be considered prey. After letting the female get onto the perch, she lets go of the leather strap and takes off the glove, moving that hand to gently stroke her as she continues to talk with her. And try to think of a name fitting such a creature.

A bright smile was given to Segan. "Very well. I can get you all the supplies you will need for Master Bently. Or.." She looked over to Karina. "Karina, could you show Segan the cages and gather supplies for him? It's all in the hut." Motioning to the white building at the center of all the cages.

"Oh. Sure!" Karina brightened. Not usually over-eager to shmooze customers who were strangers, Segan was another story. Letting herself out of the kestrel cage, she shut the door securely behind her, then leaned the rake up against the gate. Approaching Segan she wiped her hands off on the stained old apron she wore over a comfortable dress of light blue wool. Cheeks were stained with a rosy color, from the chill of the air or just exertion. "So uh... any idea which sorts of birds you'd be interested in most?"

Malaika couldn't believe how well this was going, and it all seemed so easy. As she continues to speak with the hawk and stroke her, she tilts her head and smiles. "Aila...Perhaps that might be a good name for you. Do you like it?" She didn't expect the bird to answer her, much less understand.

The hawk would make a sound in return to being spoken to. Malaika would have to take it as she would. Seeing that Segan was taken care of at the moment, Vanessa walked over to where Mal was and smiled. "She's quite the bird. She'll serve you well as long as you treat her well." Which she had no doubt Mal would do. "She's fully capable of hunting animals as large as rabbits, she's also an excellent fisher."

"I have that Cockatoo over there..." which he pointed in the direction of the umbrella one. Good size bird too. "Master Bently or Ben for short.." trying to get use to the name. "He has a tendency to be a gentleman."

"I have witnessed such birds in the wild. I never thought I would have one of my very own." She smiles, now leaning her head close to Aila and she couldn't help but nuzzle her cheek lightly against the feathers. "I believe Aila and I will be the best companions for each other." Now she looks to Vanessa, reaching for her pouch. Ready to pay whatever price was asked for the bird.

She followed his gesturing hand over to the large cockatoo, always an impressive and rather ostentatious animal. She snickered at the name, which seemed to fit perfectly. "A gentleman, huh? For shame, Master Bently..." She teased before glancing back to Segan. "Well, you're gonna need a big cage to keep him in, so he don't - doesn't get bored or nothin'." One grammatical lapse corrected, the other went unnoticed still. Baby steps! As she spoke she was moving towards the supply hut that Vanessa had mentioned. "He won't need a bath too often, just once a week maybe to get all the dust from his feathers. And there's a little tool-thingy we can give ya, to help him preen.."

"I'm sure you will." She smiled. "220 coins for her. She's already minimally trained. For her to take flight, you remove the throng while she is on your arm and push her up towards the air. She will take. If you wish her to hunt, you only have to tell her. Hunt. If you want her to scout, then you tell her to scout. When she's ready to return, she will circle overhead and call to you. Raise your arm and she will come."

Malaika gladly handed over the coins in the pouch. She had just enough to buy the bird. Listening carefully to the instructions, she nods and files them away to memory. "I do have a question though, is there an alternative to this large glove? If I am riding my horse I cannot have her on my arm the entire time, nor can I wear the glove all the time."

Which he was prepared for the remarks for certainly Karina knew what the port was like, what some of the pubs he and his brothers spent time in. See the smirk? "He will be kept at the manor under the watchful eye of Grandmother when I cannot be around. That and any of my sisters or aunt who favor birds." Which the bird piped up the first word he learned, "salutations." Raising one wing in salute like Segan had shown it. Whoa! He was impressed as she corrected her grammar. Though he didn't comment on it for he'd not chance ruining a good thing. She really was doing well under Vanessa! "A tool thingy?" Well, couldn't help the chuckle to follow as he was right with her to take up the cage and other thingies that went with it. "I will see about making a little jungle place in what room I'm allowed with a bath."

She took the coins and tucked them into a pocket of her cloak. "While you are on the move you can send her to flight overhead. She'll follow and scout from overhead to let you know of potential danger. If you don't like the glove, you can always use a bracer, but I recommend heavy leather over metal. That way the bird won't damage her talons, and she'll be able to grip without harming you."

The cockatoo's new vocab word, accompanied by that winged gesture had her giggling like crazy for a second. But his question had her containing herself to answer, "Yeah. It's almost like a little comb, I guess, 'cept it's not really for makin' the feathers look nicer. It's so's you can get rid of the clear bits from their new feathers. Those are called feather sheaths and they can get itchy if they don't fall off themselves." Nodding approval to Segan's idea of a jungle room, she chatted away as they stepped into the supply hut and she began moving around, collecting things here and there. A good-sized bird bath, into which she tossed one of those preening tools, as well as a couple small toys. Then she started looking around the collection for the proper cage, big enough for Master Bently to move around in comfortably.

"Then I shall purchase a couple leather bracers as well. Thank you so much, Lady Vanessa. I am grateful to you." She bows her head once more to the lady, then puts on the glove once more and holds out her arm for Aila to come up.


A smile to Mal. "You're most welcome. If you wish any further training for her, or have any questions, you're welcome to return and I will help you." She reached out to brush her fingers over the bird's side as she climbed up on the gloved hand.

"I will make him a perch to be out on but the cage used when too many others are about." Which Bently might retreat to on his own! The Quinn Manor could get lively at times. He was helping her, well more watching what she picked up for the collection that went with the cage. "You seem to have gotten the knack of this.." meaning in working here and she also seemed to enjoy it.

"I will." She smiles as Aila steps up and climbs up, coming to stroke her and even give her some light scratchings on her back and around on her chest.

Karina bobbed her head, still moving around as she answered to the first, "You could even build a couple perches, and hang a container for food from 'em. You can feed him seeds mostly, but he'll like fresh veggies too, just not meat.." A pause to turn back around to face Segan, and she offered a slow grin that was almost sheepish, as well as a shrug. "Guess so. I do like it here.." She admitted to that freely and then spotted what she wanted. Letting Segan take hold of the laden bird-bath she carefully maneuvered a large, round-walled cage off its shelf.

She nodded, watching them. "When you want to call her back, click your tongue four times and hold your arm up. She'll return." Vanessa got slightly attached to the birds, but it was always good to see them find who they were meant to be with.

Nodding, she smiles and makes little clicking and whistling noises to Aila similar to what Vanessa had done inside the cage, wondering what Aila would do, or if she would even understand the message Mal was trying to convey that she was happy.

Aila returned the clicks with a couple whistles and bobbed her head. "I'm going to see how Segan is doing." And so she turned and wandered herself towards the supply hut.

"Alright." She nods, and giggles as Aila returns the sounds. Moving to find a bench to sit, she continues to stroke her and makes more of the noises, as well as regular speak.

Which he took the bath and thingies and then reached over her to help in getting down the cage. She ducked out needing to finish what she was doing once he had all he needed. He was back over to where Master Bently still perched and coaxed him into the cage with some of the fruit slices he still had. "I will make you a network of open perches too." As it seemed he liked being out of a cage than in it. "Though when all the Quinn ladies are within the manor and in a heightened state over this and that, you'll want too hide in here."

Finding Segan back with Master Bently, she smiled to him. "Did Karina get everything that you needed?" She watched the cockatoo manage his way into the cage, hopefully content enough to at least make it to the manor.

He had walked so there would be no jostling him on a horse too. He turned with an ever ready smile that seemed to reach blue eyes. "Aye," motioning to the bath and other things including some toys, started kit of seeds, dried fruits and veggies. The preening tool for those new feathers when they came in and of course the cage he was presently in, settling in to preen as it were already. "I see the Hawk worked out for Malaika," looking beyond to see the lady warrior content with the bird that choose her.

Pleased to see that Kaline had gotten everything Segan would need, she looked back to Mal with a nod. "It would seem that way. They will work well with one other given a little time to get used to each other." She smiled back to Segan. "As I'm sure you and Master Bently will do. Do you need any help getting him back to the manor?"

Malaika was indeed content, and Aila seemed to be rather happy with her choice of human. She was continuing to stroke and talk to her, and now her horse comes up to investigate the new addition to their little group. He was sniffing and watching the bird, and smirks as she pets Nokar with her free hand. She wondered if she should get something for Aila to use to perch on Nokar as well so he wouldn't get hurt.

"I can manage," though he paused with a curious look, "unless you are really looking to take a walk now that business is done?" It was a grand sight with the trees now turned and some starting to shed their leaves. If a good breeze came it showered them like rain in a rainbow of color.

A small grin to his curious look. "A walk would be nice. I don't often get to see things along a walk as I am usually busy with the birds during the day."

"Then I shall enjoy the walk, maybe take the scenic route. One does need to take a break and no finer company you will make." Which once to the manor she would be offered something to eat and drink, be it a slice of pie and cider or a meal if they reached the place during such time. "I will see about making the perch while it is light out so we might take a route through a wooded area with fallen trees."

She soon stands up and lets the leather strap loose of the eyelets, moving her arm up so that Aila could take flight. This was going to be a test for her and the bird. As she runs across the property, she keeps her eye on the sky, seeing if Aila will follow. Then if it was successful, she would click her tongue four times, and hold her arm up to get Aila to land back.

"Sounds lovely." To the idea of the scenic route and a very subtle color of her cheeks to the compliment. "The perch is always ideal. The do enjoy the freedom of climbing around." Aila would follow across the distance and come to land when called.

This was wonderful! Smiling and stroking Aila and praising her, she takes a piece of dried meat from her pocket and holds it up to the bird, wondering if she would take it. She couldn't help it, it was in her to spoil animals. Just look at her horse!

"Then I will have your expertise in picking out the best that can be found." Which came with a sweeping smile before he took up the cage, handing her the bath with things in it. Then calling over to Malaika, "it was good seeing you again. I'm pleased to see how pleased you are with thanks to Vanessa too."


"Thank you Segan. I hope you and Master Bently will be the best of friends." Waving her free hand back to them. It seemed they were going to leave, and now she begins to get herself ready to go. Letting Aila go into full flight, she takes off the glove and moves to hand it back to Vanessa. "I must be going. I thank you again Lady Vanessa for everything." Once it was done, she would mount up on her horse, and begin to move out of the gardens.

The hawk would take the dried meat happily with talon and beak to tear it apart and stomach it. Vanessa smiled, taking the bath and things and set to walk with Segan. "Malaika, it was good to see you again. I hope to see you again."



Date: 10-14-09
Poster: Calhoun Quinlan
Post # 7


There were three wagons pulled up along the one side of the cottage. Six men whose voices could be heard calling out a comment here and there are they worked unloading the wagons. One at a time and were near done with the first one as one of the men had already climbed up onto the buckboard to move it around back and out the front.

Vanessa had taken to the being inside a good portion of the day, tending to things that were needed. Such as creation of warmer clothes for the coming months. Though it took longer than a day, she had the patterns laid out and material marked. Ready to begin cutting on the material until she heard the calls of various men and it sounded very close to the cottage. Curiosity piqued since she wasn't expecting company, she picked up a warm shawl and wandered out the side door to see men unloading..firewood?

Cal had stripped of his shirt for it was a more mild evening, promises of autumn summer in the air. Usually the last of its flight before autumn becomes winter. There was a cloth hanging around his neck he grasped to slide off and wipe his face on before it was flipped back. The one wagon having moved on as he stood there a moment in full view. Of course well fitting pants hugged his hips with the empowered sword hanging against the left. "Evening Vanessa," Fae eyes held a twinkle that one could wonder if it wasn't a bit wicked. Just the way it came off. Some of the other men were shirtless too as they paused to wave to the woman then about their work as the second wagon pulled in place. "Some of the knights, squires, warriors.." with them moving in and out, around lugging wood all cut up, it would be hard to make introductions and it wasn't really a social affair. Although he moved across the way before the second wagon was in place. "It seems that is where the wood was stacked before and best for the location in retrieving it and having it sheltered under trees and wall overhang."

None of the other men were recognized, but the greeting from Cal she couldn't help but smile to Cal as attention returned to him. The gray woolen shawl was nothing fancy, neither was the coral colored dress she wore beneath. The others who greeted her received a nod and a smile, but being that Cal was the one she recognized, her approach was to him with a smile. "That's a fine location. Close to the door and away from most of the weather that would reach it." Agreed easily enough. Meant she wouldn't have to run too far in the snow to get wood when needed. There's a fresh barrel of water just to the back of the cottage if you all are thirsty." The offer made, it seemed unkind to have them laboring without something to quench their thirst.

If she got close enough she may well note the sheen of sweat over a well toned chest and arm muscles. Bits of dirt and tree debris collected in areas especially where there was chest hair. "I was going to ask," as the dip of his head that naturally came with her approach, lifted as he called out in general to the men, "water behind the cottage in a barrel." One man left the group to head there for a drink, the others would gradually. Smile grew with the show of white turned back on Vanessa. "Wood is all split too so you don't have to split it." Which he figured would be another help than huge logs that wouldn't even fit in the hearth otherwise. "You will notice larger logs too that would be put on after the fire gets going and before sleeping that will burn all night."

The men were welcome to help themselves to all the water they wanted. There was plenty available and she kept it easily accessible for the flight cages. She watched the men briefly before turning back to Cal with a smile. "I am grateful to you and the man for splitting it and delivering it. Is there anything I can do to repay the favor?" Never one to feel as though she were indebted, even if it was just a friendly favor being done for a neighbor.

He acted like he was contemplating something that she could do in compensation, eyes moving heavenwards with a hmmm, then another hmmm as a hand lifted to rub at his chin. Enough seconds to pass before his hand fell away and the grin was back. "I think the pleasure of your smile has been worth it for us all. Though if you are really looking for compensation, chase down the King of Innis, this is all because of him." And Cal but he preferred to shift it all onto his king. Certainly he was the one who paid for it, not that such was much for the wealth the family had. So many that owed Peter favors too that donating wood was the least they could do.

Brow quirked slight, she nodded though with understanding. "Very well. Then I will thank him." Thoughts over how to do such, she turned her attention towards the flight cages. Perhaps she would call upon him to be claimed by one of the hawks as thanks for the amount of wood and having it delivered. The thought was brief before returning attention to Cal. "How are you? I've not seen you since you threatened to drop me in the lake." A small grin to him. "And how is your King?" Having not seen him either.

Those green eyes lit up again, certainly more thoughts than spoken upon. "He will not be easy you know." If she picked up anything on Peter, he would not allow compensation but expect a gift freely given be accepted freely by her. So there was the hint of a challenge and of course Cal would do such on his king. As a brother and comrade would do, not really a subject under him in that way. "I'm doing very fine, very fine indeed. Days are cooler nights one sleeps better than in the heat of summer. He was starting to get some looks from his comrades being he was standing there talking to the pretty woman instead of doing his share, though he had done more to start. So he hefted up a bunch into his arms and headed for the pile to stack them there. "How have you been doing," called over his shoulder before his task was done and he was back to get another load.

"He will accept if I have any say in it." She gleaned a bright smile to him and nodded as he spoke of the cooler days. Cool days she could appreciate. Cold days she had little care for, but was in the process of curing that with warmer clothing and outerwear. A step back taken as he hefted up one of the piles, she smiled. "Doing well enough. Seems the birds are an enjoyed addition to the area, so I have little complaints and some dear friends of mine will be arriving soon, to take up residence in Ballicastle from what I understand as their interest." Quite excited that Zira and Set were to be moving so much closer. "When your men are done, I have stew left over if they dare attempt to eat."

"I hope to be around," which there was a pause as he unloaded the armful onto the stack and arranged them. "in the background.." though she couldn't see the more wicked gleam in his eyes with not facing her for the task. He  was back around and coming her way only to turn and take another load of the wood. The second wagon was near done at this point and one of the men already back onto the buckboard of the last as well one to climb into place on this one. "It is always good, important even, to have friends near so I am glad to hear. Ballicastle is as good a place to live as here." Smile tipped with the added wink before he was off again to pile the armful on the growing stack. The second wagon was brought around back to the front behind the other empty one, ready to be taken out once they were done. The last was already being started on. "The men will appreciate the stew in mugs," which would be easier under the circumstances.

He hoped to be around. She grinned some to that and just shook her head, watching the men briefly before looking back to Cal with a nod. "I'm glad they will be coming." They were an interesting couple to say the least. The moonman and the woman from the stars, odd personalities, but good people nonetheless. "Well then, since you are all nearly done, I will go in and prepare the mugs for you and your men." With that, she took the short walk back to the side door, which she left open. Mugs were collected, enough for all the men and set out on the counter so that she could fill them all with stew. Hopefully none of them keeled over. She wasn't that great a cook.

As the last of the wood was unloaded he shot a smile Vanessa's way. "You know none of us mind helping out another for the same is done for you, not necessarily by any you directly help but it ends up going around." A more serious tone usually hidden by this particular knight. Offered in her wake as he grabbed up his shirt and headed around back to wash up more than the need of a drink but one was taken before the other and toweled off with the one he carried over his shoulder. Once done and far more clean, his shirt was put back on against the cold wet skin would have him feeling. The other men did the same, least the ones that had taken off their shirts and all waited for that mug of hot stew. She would get all sorts of polite greetings and a few of the younger ones to linger a look, hard not to for the woman was fetching though some of the older ones nudged gawking squires.

Vanessa might as well have been oblivious to such looks for she didn't seem to notice them in the least. Once the six mugs were filled, taken three in each hand by the handles, she came back out with a smile to them all. "Here you are, gentlemen. I am grateful for your help. Thank you all." Very grateful. It would have taken her weeks to acquire that much wood and have to find someone else to split it for her since that sort of labor was rather foreign to her.

There was a low rumbling as all five made their comments like 'a pleasure to help out' and so forth. Cal stood there quite proud of them, ghosted smile said it all as he took his mug last to enjoy the stew. It would only take a couple minutes before they were done with their mugs. Once his was done, he gathered up the others. The five getting ready to leave on the wagons. "I will join you in a moment," as they parted. "If you need anything else, do let me know or Peter. It will be seen to in helping out. This is your first year here and it takes time to adjust." Perhaps there was an understanding in that very statement that had brought about the wood.

Waiting patiently as they all finished their stew, she took the mugs back from Cal and smiled. "I will. Thank you, again Calhoun. Please thank your King for me as well." Though she would send a letter to him, along with a gift of thanks. "I wish you all safe travel tonight. And feel free to come for a visit if you ever get the chance."

"Indeed I will and mostly tell how it kept a gorgeous smile upon your features." Giving her a wink as he'd not keep her, "perhaps our paths will cross again." One never knew as he swept a more formal bow as a knight would a lady. Once straightened he was around on a booted heel and heading to catch up with men in a lift on the last wagon back.

A blush to his compliment, she was glad it wasn't in the light of day, perhaps it wouldn't be noticed. She'd wait long enough to see them all off before turning to the cottage to finish things up, expecting her friends sometime soon and needing to finish the room they would occupy.



Date: 10-17-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 8


Once the bowl and mug were set down, she seated herself and smiled. "We have to put fire in them to last the night. The tropical birds need it more than the others, so I keep the other spires down low. I can't have the birds freezing." Even those used to the colder weather she provided the warmth for.

The night was getting colder and the dampness in the air held shimmers of crystallization that was gradually showing flakes sparingly. Segan was dressed warm, fisherman sweater, woolen pants and boots lacing up just beneath his knees. Leaves were starting to look frosted on the ground as he made his way through the fields taking him to the lake behind the cottages. A whistle tune held an eerie note like some far off place not of this earth. Silence descended like veils only dispelled by the soulful notes. He knew Vanessa would most likely be at her cottage so averted his steps from the lake towards the building.

He nodded a bit. "That makes enough sense..." He smiled and looked at the bowl of stew, inhaling the aroma. "This smells very good...thank you again Vanessa." He offered another smile, before he reached for the spoon. Taking a small sip of the stew, he savored the taste and took another spoonful. "It is very good," he said after swallowing, before he felt the stew begin to warm up his insides. "Did you have the birds in Eldyn also? or have they always been here?"

Most of the birds would be in slumber given the hour of the evening. Hawks, falcons and owls would still be up and communicating with one another. The windows of the cottage were dimly lit with hearth and candle light. "No, I didn't have the birds in Eldyn. In Eldyn, I was the Queen's lady in waiting. I enjoy them though and train them for the services of others."

He could see the light coming from the kitchen which was the first to be seen and so came to the kitchen door than all the way around the front. Easier for him to be heard as a fisted hand lifted and three sounding thuds against wood followed.

He nodded once more as she explained about the birds. "I see...well, it seems like an interest job. I bet the tropical birds are rather fascinating." He hoped he'd get a good glimpse of them, even with the darkness. But then again, his eyesight wasn't hindered too much by it. Ears twitched again as he heard the knock on her door. Taking another spoonful of stew, he washed it down with some cider before chuckling. "You seem to be a popular one today, Vanessa." Offering a small smile, as he continued to eat.

"They are all very intelligent. The tropical ones you can teach to speak with you and mimic things." Hearing the knock, brow quirked slightly. "It would seem that way." Spoken with a smile as she rose from her seat and moved to the kitchen door. Pulling it open enough to peek out and see a familiar face, her smile brightened and the door was pulled open. "Good eve, Segan." Sweeping motion of her hand to invite him in.

His hair of dark blond was frosted with the first snowflakes as he captured her hand. "First come here," not realizing there was another inside as this was something she should see. The light from the door would illuminate the lazy drifting flakes that had grown from the shimmer particles when he first set out. Stepping back that she might step out as he held his other hand out palm up.

Continuing to eat the stew, he paid no mind to her going off to answer the door. He was simply enjoying the food, and the rest of his cider quite contently.

Despite the cold earlier, it hadn't been snowing in any form. A bit surprised when taken by the hand, she smiled. "Alright..." And moved out through the door, curious what he wanted her to see. It took her a moment, watching him turn his palm up to catch the snowflakes before they melted, then lifted her chin some to feel the small speckles cold against her face for just a moment before they melted. "Is this to be the first snow?" Ooooh so glad that Calhoun had delivered the firewood now!

"Yes, though it wont stick and it is not bitter cold yet. Barely cold enough to turn what rain there would have been to snow. There may be a light coating over the grass and leaves tomorrow morning." Watching her enjoy the light white specks touch against her face. Eyes trained there soaking in the sight although not wise to linger, "best not for you to stay long without a coat, a few minutes all right," hand lowering to capture hers to turn her in spin like one would in dance and have her facing her door again guiding her there.

Having finished with the stew, he had also finished with his cider. Taking the time to bring the bowl and cup back into the kitchen, he rinsed them with some water from a bucket that was there. Cleaning the bowl and the cup, he then placed them on the counter as he hadn't known where they were supposed to go. Coming back to his seat, he moved to sit back down.

The lighter snow she didn't mind. It wasn't as cold as the heavy snow that required shoveling and drudging through. "Yes, and you should come in for some warm cider or tea." Spun around, she laughed softly and went on into the cottage, not yet releasing Segan's hand. He was coming in like it or not. Once inside, she smiled to Amalbryn. "Segan, this is my friend Amalbryn. Amalbryn, my friend Segan."

How could he refuse warm cider or tea or even better the company. His hand was warm in spite of being out in the cold but then he was dressed appropriately. His hand sliding from hers that he may open up his cloak to take off which he did deftly as he greeted the man there. "Well met Amalbryn, welcome to the lands in your visit."

Slender ears twitched at the sound of boots, and the drow turned to gaze at the two as they came back inside. As he was introduced to the man, Amalbryn nodded his head politely and smiled. "Greetings Sir Segan...It is a pleasure to meet another friend of Vanessa's." He offered a warm smile. "Thank you for your welcome to Heathfield." The drow was rather glad that most people here were polite. It was much different than what he was used to.

Once Segan was inside, she closed the door and made her way over to the counter for a mug and then to the small stove for warm cider. "Did you get lost on your way to the Thistle?" Smile heard in her teasing words, she walked to the table, offering the mug to Segan as she seated herself.

Cloak was hung over the back of the chair he would soon occupy, once Vanessa was seated. "I had started there but decided to swing by here on my way from the Manor in case you were here. I was in luck and you got to see the first snow to fall. Though the next will be the first snow fall, where it coats the lands in at least six inches." A low chuckle rose up for the way her comment sounded, "sounds like a song in the making." Blue eyes turned upon Amalbryn, "have you traveled far and safely?"

Ears twitched as he heard of the snowfall, and his white hues shifted to the window. He could make out the small flakes even through the darkness that had crept up on the cottage. But his attention pulled back to Segan as he spoke to him again. "Aye...and yes. Most recently, I came from Eldyn." He smiled again, politely. "Before that, it was much further...but I haven't had much trouble on my trip."

"You keep reminding me of the bigger snows. I'd think you wanted me to stay inside during the winter." She snickered softly and looked between the two. "I was actually about to ask Amalbyrn if he'd like to walk to the Thistle, perhaps see what there is to see there tonight." Hopefully not anyone who'd seen her beet red with blushing the night prior.

"How are things in Eldyn," over the past month he had gotten to learn some of those lands. Although Vanessa's comment had him grinning her way as he finally took his seat, delayed a little as he took up the mug. Strong hands encompassed it for the warmth presently. "I plan to get you out in the snow, give it a try as long as you are dressed properly." Cider wasn't so hot he couldn't drink it down quick enough if they were going to head out to the Thistle. Segan had yet to hear about that but it might reach his ears.

He blinked for a moment, realizing he had trailed off in solemn thought. "Oh...well, I did not exactly stay long enough to find out. I had come back to visit Vanessa...but then I heard she had moved here, so I left shortly after." He frowned a bit. "I'm sorry I cannot give you much more information on the place." Ears perked up though at the suggestion of the Thistle. "What is the Thistle?" Amalbryn had no clue as to what she had been talking about.

The gardens were where Morjin liked to go, and he even conversed with the caged birds on her property. Tonight he would be walking onto the property, in his full dragon form, the ground shaking slightly with each step he takes. An ancient bronze dragon that looked like he had seen better days. About two-hundred feet from nose to tail, he was quite large in stature. Seeing Vanessa there, along with a couple of other people, the bronze moves to sit himself by the cages, watching them all in silence.

The three were seated in the cottage. She'd have added more on Eldyn's current standing, but in truth, she didn't know. She hadn't been there in weeks. A grin given to Segan. "Yes, I figured as much so I am making heavier skirts and lining my cloaks in wool for the winter." Morjin's presence didn't go without notice, and she cast a glance out the window before looking over to Alambyrn. "The Thistle is the local inn and tavern I was telling you about earlier."

"It's fine, more for conversation," though he wouldn't mind the information had there been any. He liked to know things that were associated with those he cared for. "You may want to see about getting some woolen britches to wear too. Especially for sledding. Ice skating, the ladies wear skirts but if you tumble, petticoats and even bloomers may be seen." Fair warning came with a widening smile. He took the time to enjoy the cider before it got cold.

He listened to the two talk, and the thought of winter events seemed to grow on his mind. But suddenly a yawn came over him, and he realized he was suddenly very tired. "While going to an Inn to meet more people does sound fun, I think I am going to have to pass. I feel I will be asleep not before long." He chuckled a bit, before looking to Vanessa. "Would you like me to take care of the spires so that you may go and enjoy your evening?"

A smile given to Amalbyrn, she shook her head. "No. I'll take care of them when I get back. You get some rest. I'm sure you're exhausted after your travels."

"The tavern offers rooms without cost as well some of the best food around." He would add that in just in case Amalbyrn didn't want to travel back, although possibly he would stay here? Either way the information was out there to make use of or not. He was up from his seat collecting his cloak. "You will need a warm cloak," stating the obvious to Vanessa with a flash of a smile.

He nodded to her, before nodding to Segan. "It was very nice to meet you. I hope we will meet again, when I am less tired....I would be more than glad to converse some more with you." He smiled and stood up, before smiling to Segan. "Thank you, but Vanessa has offered me her empty room for the time being. I appreciate you concern though." He nodded to him again. "Enjoy your evening and thank you again Vanessa." He smiled and headed off to the room, and it wouldn't be long before he fell asleep.

Vanessa rose from her seat. "Rest well, Amalbyrn." Then smiled to Segan. "Let me get my cloak and I will walk with you." Reaching around her back, she pulled the ties for the apron she was wearing to pull it off from over the tan colored dress. Out of the kitchen to the den for her cloak and then she came back again. "How is Master Bently doing? Getting along with all the women?"

"That is another reason I stopped by.." watching her the while although there was a wondering edge to his eyes before passed off as not his business. "He is learning more words and yelling, Conor you get in here right now, just like Grandmama. He seems to alter his voice accordingly to the one he is mimicking." He had advanced on the door to get it open once she was ready.

Her cloak fastened about her neck and hood drawn up over the messy pile of curls, she snickered softly and nodded. "That doesn't surprise me. He'll be more Grandmama's cockatoo than anyone else's. She'll give him a glance and he'll just know who to call out to." A bright smile as she passed through the open door and waited just outside for him. A wave given to Morjin. "Eve, Morjin."

He shut the door behind them but then he came closer to draw down her hood again. His touch was gentle as he brought her curling hair to order then off to the side before drawing up her hood again. "There, that has to feel better," turning then to give a wave to Morjin. "Evening Morjin," cordially as he'd wait on Vanessa to start for the tavern.

"Good eve." Morjin had been conversing with some of the birds outside, and nods to the both of them with a small smile on his muzzle. The night was chilly, but he still had an aura of warmth around him.

"We are going to the Thistle if you decide to join." Any step she might have taken paused for a moment as Segan fixed the curls to lay right within her hood. A smile given to him. "Thank you. Much better. Are you ready?" Gloves were pulled free of the cloak pockets to pull onto her hands and keep her fingers from freezing.

"I am ready," smile broadening again in a quick sort of way before he offered her the bend of his arm. She would be escorted properly through the streets of Heathfield to the tavern. Keeping her close would also offer her a measure of warmth as well the walk brisk enough to raise body heat and warm by the time their destination was reached.


"I might be along to the tavern soon." Nodding to them, he then turns back to the tropical birds that were chatting up a storm with him and talking some basic human talk. These birds fascinated him sometimes, and the fact that Vanessa taught them to talk made it all the more interesting.


There were a few he recognized and knew for certain some of them would be teasing him first chance they got with having a lady on his arm. One most didn't recognize that he recognized. Some from his ship which honestly she was better off not meeting for their tongues got away on them far too often. He was mulling over something and seemed to draw a logical conclusion on that something which was far better than some other thoughts. So he was mostly quiet on the walk, just enjoying it before all too soon they were at the tavern. There was something he would bring up, "is your friend looking for a home?" By his wording it had that curiosity. Guiding her up the steps before his arm lowered bringing her hand to come away as he stepped ahead to get the door.

The walk was brisk, Vanessa took the offered arm and remained close with bits of chat here and there as they walked. "It was a pleasant surprise to have you come to the cottage." A bright smile up to him just as he made his inquiry was made. "I'm not sure. I know he has no place to go." Spoken as she stepped up the stairs and through the door after he opened it. "Amalbyrn has just recently come from sort of a long journey to learn about his magic abilities. I introduced him to Zira today when she stopped by. I'm hoping that perhaps she and Setsuna can help him further and perhaps he will find a place soon."



Date: 10-17-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 9

He was listening attentively as she stepped within and he behind her to see to the door. "It is a good when you have a place to hang your hat. Though I could on me ship for a number of years, even that is not the same as a place on land where there are family and friends. Something that is a comfort to the heart to help ride over the turbulence of life." He would see to her cloak and then his own, hanging them to the pegs along the wall inside from the door. "Best if one can get settle before the winter moves in too."

Once within the tavern, her gloves were removed and tucked away into her pockets before unclasping the cloak with a nod. "I agree. He's a kind soul. I've offered him a room at the cottage for a while. At least until he can speak with Set and Zira to see what he might do next." She smiled and started for the bar once Segan was ready. "I have hopes for him. Perhaps either Zira or Set will take him under their wing and teach him. He seems like he needs a mentor of some sort."

"I've not seen one of your friend's race before." So his curiosity came out though he had not treated the man any different than anyone else he first met. Actually better in a way for he was friends with Vanessa so that gave him a plus right there. He was right there at her side to the bar and took the usual of potcheen. Something to warm him right to the bone. "What kind of mentor to teach him what kind of skill?" Wondering if she knew and what it would be.

"He's a drow." She smiled over to him. "An elf of sorts. Though from what I understand, most of their kind isn't very nice." She wasn't overly knowledgeable about the race. She only knew what Amalbyrn had told her while still in Eldyn. "He's trying to learn magic. And doing very well at it so far. But he could use a bit of guidance." Her usual mug of cider for herself, she hitched herself up onto a stool with a smile to Alex then back to Segan.

He took up the stool next to her as he would tease by grasping the back and moving her a little to the right then left then right but not in away to have her fall or lose her balance. "I've heard of the race now that you mention it but I've never seen one before. He seems cordial, even friendly for just having met me tonight. I suppose there is always the exception in any race from stigma attached."

A little squeak, she grabbed onto the bar and gave him a little nudge for twisting her seat back and forth. "He's always been very polite. I don't think he's very old. Maybe a year or two younger than I am in human years. I had promised to introduce him to Zira when we met in Eldyn, but he was called away for a while. So I was glad he got to meet her today. She offered to help him once she and Setsuna get settled in a home."

"Not very old looking for human years but he might be a good thousand that he's been here, or at least a hundred and two." Teasing her and yet not while his hand fell away as he gave a wink. "You are a very kind human to go through the trouble of helping others out." Taking up his glass to kick back the shot of potcheen before lifting the bottle left to refresh his glass with more.

She thanked Alex for her drink and smiled to Segan. "Half human, but I find no harm in helping others as long as they have no ill will against myself or any others." Mug held in her hands to collect the warmth. "He seems to have an interest in the birds. Perhaps he can learn more about them and help me with them, along with Karina."

"I'm not sure we are all human, the Quinn clan, if one were to believe my grandfather's stories about days of old when the Fae walked the lands side by side and didn't hide from humans." There was also something else but that was more a way of seeing things, doing them, a view that was not like the majority. At least here he felt at home for the oddities that happened in his life. "You have quite a few birds that having more help would be good. Karina seems to be elusive anymore." There was a slight shrug there being she would disappear for months at a time but always came back. "I wonder at times if she wanted a permanent home here."

"To be honest, I'm not sure anyone is all human. But who's to say?" It wasn't anything she was sure of, but things that she'd seen 'humans' do that put some wonder in her mind. "More help would be nice. Karina makes it when she can. Her help his very much appreciated when she comes and I know she enjoys the time with the birds. But I also know that she's a free spirit of sorts, so hold her to nothing set." It just seemed more appropriate that way in regards to Karina.

"Good chance few are that are drawn to these lands. My brother, Eion, had a hard time but I think the reason goes far deeper than he realizes." The pause was long as he decided to confide in her or not on a matter, not one usually to broach this particular subject. "I think Karina has a crush on me brother Conor but I don't think it went anywhere being me brother has a eye for a few ladies. Which is normal for some as he is the youngest. I had wondered if she left because of it," there was something there he couldn't put his finger on and because he couldn't he was at a stand still to say anything more. So he shrugged. "Aye, she's a free spirit that will be as the wind."

A nod given to the mention of Eion, but she wouldn't pry. Finally the first drink of her cider was taken as she continued to listen to Segan speak on Karina and her crush on Conor and smiled lightly. "A girl's first crush can be a heart breaking experience. Especially if it doesn't happen in the way she pictures it to happen in her heart. Perhaps though she will grow out of it and find another for her heart to flutter over."

"Have you had your first crush yet that you speak from experience?" He was imagining it and not far, "we may be the opposite gender but we have crushes too. In our teens, seems to happen during those ages. Though mine was on a woman much older that dazzle the men as she walked by. We mostly gawk then." Which had a twinkle to set in blue eyes and his smile tipping off to the side. "Honestly, it is a pity the world is not like the innocent ideals."

Vanessa's smile shied some as to the question. "I suppose the honest answer would be yes, but mine was a bit later than the girls my age, that I knew." Brow quirked some as he spoke of his first crush, she nodded some. "Interesting. Did she know you had a crush on her?"

"Looking back, probably read me like an open book. Seen so many males look at her in an idolizing way." Which had him chuckle, "she never took advantage of it but she probably didn't care to being she had almost any male she wanted. I was a kid, though no longer skinny for all my training as a warrior." So there was that part of his life just divulged. "Though, she looked me over with a predatory smile. I think at the time, it could have been my father to say something. There is that hierarchy of intrigues and warnings to stay away. It didn't last long. A week?" Trying to remember but he hadn't been the only one either.

She continued to listen quietly, nodding now and then to show she was indeed paying attention. "Sounds like quite the first crush. I can't say I've heard stories like that one before." Which she found amusing. Last night the tavern conversation was love at first sight, tonight the conversation is crushes.

And it wasn't spring yet! "Well, the look had me comrades taking shoves and nudges to tease me and some for a bit of jealously she had not looked at them that way so we ended up in a ruckus all in good fun that might have been better of the two incidences. After that, I haven't really had time to think along those lines. Life was one life and death adventure after another that finally landed me here and for the first time in a while I can catch me breath."

She could easily imagine Segan and a group of young men much as he described and the thought had her laughing softly. "Well, they say that things happen as they are meant to and when the time is right. One adventure after another I highly doubt with cease for you. It will just be a matter of adventures by sea vs. land."

Although he took pause for something she said, being she was not that old to start with, "how long ago did you have your crush?" Almost went over his head. "Aye, I think I'm due for some at land again but then the ones at sea were mostly on land when they happened, foreign shores, tropical ones mostly."

"Hm.." She looked thoughtful for a moment, thinking over his question regarding her own crush. Might have been a very slight blush as she thought it over. "I can't say my crush ever really came to a halt. So far though, I would have to guess between four and six months." A rough guess, as she hadn't been keeping track really. "Adventures on tropical shores sound like so much fun."

"Some adventures are fun, too many were not. The tropics can be very deadly places to be and not just for the wild animals there but the different kinds of tribes." He was mussing over the other. "Four to six months, would put you back in Eldyn." Which had him almost go blank a moment before it was out, "Amalbyrn?" She was fond of him and one she knew from before here and who was here now.

"Dangers are part of the adventure, are they not?" Though those adventures she would keep away from since she had no talent with any sort of weapon. As he went back to topic of her crush, she shook her head. "No, not Amalbyrn. He's not from Eldyn. My crush, I mean."

"He seems a very nice person. I really shouldn't pry or pressure you to divulge but if you want to say, then you will." He remembered enough that being pressured to say a name was not a good feeling even from family and friends. Knowing you might well get teased or for them to know if the other never knew you even breathed. He reached over to slide the tip of his finger down her nose and off. "One day there will be a lucky man for you."

She smiled lightly and tilted her head a bit with a slight turn away, but not fully so. "I cannot tell who he is. Have you ever heard that telling the things you wish or dream to another will prevent them from coming true?" She gleamed a smile to him and sipped from her mug again.

"Actually, I have not. I think if you believe in yourself you can have near all your dreams. Though some dreams that involve another, well, there is that fate figures in too. Sometimes what we think we want is no where near what we need. Fate will bring us what we need but never settle for less than what your heart tells you." It was getting late and the windows proved the snow was getting heavier. The very sight had him smiling from ear to ear. "Let's go walk in the heavier snow, you can bundle up and I'll keep you close and warm in seeing you back."

"I gladly leave it to the fates and thus is why I am in no rush to confess my crush. We still have plenty to learn of one another and always enjoy what time we can get in each others' company." His attention followed to the windows, she all but shivered at the side of the snow building tiny drifts on the panes. Her cider finished while it was warm, she nodded. "Sounds delightful. An offer I cannot resist."

His second drink was kicked back before he was up to see to her cloak then his to don. "If you stay close I can keep you warmer and we can even try running like one, or as one in a sack race." Wondering if she had ever played that game usually done at a fair or meet. He waved to Alex before ushering her outside, the door closed securely so now the tender could see to closing up. Once past the porch the flakes would even stick to their eyelashes and brows, soft, floating, large wet flakes. Many were a number that had attached themselves together.

Up and to the door, she pulled her gloves from her pockets once the cloak was draped over her shoulders, then fastened it around her neck. "Mm..perhaps. Sounds like it could be an interesting event just getting back to the cottage." She stepped out with a wave and smile to Alex and into the snow that was falling. "It's so pretty. Shame it doesn't happen during warmer weather." Her arm wrapped playfully around his own, she tugged him off a few more steps in the right direction.

Which had him laughing while a strong arm slid around her shoulders as he tucked her in against his side and chest. She'd pick up the subtle woodsy smell, a touch of peat and sandalwood blended with his unique scent. Being tugged brought laughter as he pretended to trip, lunging forward only to scoop her completely up into his arms. Lifting her with a swing around then on the ground again and tucked back to his side in against his chest. Now he was challenging her steps to match his.

Pulled in close, her arm wrapped around his back and the scent picked up so close. It was a very warming scent. Reminded her of candles and hearth fire. When he lunged forward, she was forced to stumble with him, laughing the entire time even as he scooped her up. Oh he was going to be teased by all who saw! Of course, she probably would be too. Set back down, she looked down to try and match his steps, which was a job and a half. "Segan, you have very long legs which make for very long steps." Laughing again, trying to keep in stride with him.

"Is this better?" Which had him almost marching in place or running, and not gaining an inch. Legs and feet were doing the beat and if she was still moving forward she'd end up in an arching swing around him for his arm was still holding her securely.

She didn't expect that, so actually walked out a couple steps only to be swung back in, laughing still. "Only if you intend to be out here all night walking me home."

Which had him dip as she swung back in and up she went in his arms. He was very strong for all his training and years of hard work. "Now I shall get you home." Which he was moving steadily forward and lucky for them both, unlike earlier, the streets were devoid of others. All had gone home as the snow was coming down steadily. "This snow might actually stick and a few inches by morning." Perhaps a little surprised but he knew that another day where it climbed back into the forties, it would be gone again.


Brought up into his arms again with a bright smile, one arm wrapped around back of his neck with a nod. "Well, a few inches won't hurt. I'm sure the owls and hawks will enjoy it for a change." Which she was sure of, like she was sure she would have to increase the heat of the spires in the tropical birds cage a great deal to keep them comfortable.

"There can be snow without bitter cold. In fact, it wont snow if it is bitter cold." He wasn't sure why but it was the way it was. "You will know bitter cold when you step outside and the very next breath has the hairs in your nose freeze. Your face freezes and the ground has an odd arid crunching sound." So their conversation would continue on the oddity of some things and the comfort of her birds which he was sure would be fine. Long as she kept those fires in the spires warm enough. The birds of prey were probably use to it. He had a nice view of her face this close to his too and she wasn't so heavy to carry though by the time he got her to her door step, his arms felt like rubber for a few moments after setting her to her feet. "Delivered safely m'lady," giving her a bow with a step back.


"Oh dare remind me of the bitter cold." The days she would not venture from the cottage, more than likely. The conversation was nice and she likely told him he could set her down. But apparently only when she was delivered to her door. Set on her feet, she smiled brightly to him. "That I am, thanks to my handsome escort." She reached out to give his hand a small squeeze, but moved a step away from the door. "You be safe on your walk home, Segan. No adventures between here and the manor." Teasing grin was given wink as she turned to go to the gardens to heat up the spires.

Before she could get away, he touched a kiss to her cheek when her hand squeezed his. "Sleep sweetly, Vanessa." Then looking out into the blackness of the night except the every growing white. "I will make it home safely as I can see yonder glow from the lighthouse." Something he was use to making use of at sea during a storm. As she set off, so did he to melt with the shadows beyond the lights of her home.


And she walked away with a blush!



Date: 10-25-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 10

Feeling Better

Finishing the wrap around his ankle, she put all the supplies back in the basket and smiled up to him. "It's good to have someone to take care of. Despite tending the birds, having you around gives me a good sense of being needed." Something she felt sort of lacking as she was no longer a lady in waiting. She always enjoyed that sense of purpose and having someone to look after. "Alright, all mended. Now, are you hungry or thirsty?"

A weak smile crossed his face before he let his head move side to side. "No, thank you I'm fine." A short stomach rumble followed the end of his sentence as those green hues swirled with a deep orange color. A lie! It was so easy to spot! For those that knew him well enough he couldn't hide anything with his eyes. Not that the stomach wasn't a dead give away.

Brow quirked, she looked at Aiden and smirked. "Fibber." She stood and set all the supplies on the nightstand then turned to Aiden. "Come on. To the kitchen. I have stew on the stove and fresh juice." Her arm wrapped around his to help him up off the bed if he needed it. "When you're walking better, we're going to the commons to get you some new clothes and boots."

Segan had finally awoken and filled in by his brother what had gone on as they headed to visit Vanessa at her place being she'd been going back and forth checking on him. It was only right to do so. When he woke it was if no fever or madness had touched him. He remembered nothing of the nightmares and little of the night before, only up to a point where he went to chase Vanessa on something said all in fun. "Is there anything else that happened I should know about?" Probably the fifth time he asked his brother as a frown played. He didn't like pulling a blank and having to ask another to fill the memory in. This time he was lucky someone could. Though now it brought back a few memories of not being able to remember short periods of time. It was hard shaking off the almost out of contact feeling as they turned in through the gate leading to the cottage.

Eion had hardly left Segan's room, except for those times when it was necessary. He had ended sleeping on the floor but there had been worse places in his past. When Segan wanted to speak to Vanessa, he insisted on cleaning up some first. "No, nothing happened." Answering again, and he would say the same each time, though this time he added, "though you mumbled a lot in your sleep about a lass named Susan or something." If Segan looked his way, he might notice a quirk of a smile but nothing else would give away that Eion was teasing.

He felt somewhat...well mostly useless as he helped carry himself to the kitchen. He had not eaten a thing all day, but then again how could he in his sleep? It had seemed like everyone was getting ill or sick or at least the sniffles. "Thanks again." A laugh was given as he would try to shimmy his body into a chair. The smell of the stew invaded his nose. The delicious smell made his stomach turn. This was going to be good.

Vanessa had worried greatly over Segan running his fever and knew that Eion had as well. She'd been there to relieve Eion when he needed it and see to Segan. The running back and forth would prove later to have taken its toll on her when she finally had a chance to retire for a good night's sleep. Aiden was helped to the kitchen and the small four seat table before letting go of him. "You don't have to thank me, Aiden. You would do the same." She smiled and turned to the counter to fill a mug with juice and set that on the table for him, then to the stove to stir and turn the stew a few times before serving any.

"I don't know any..." then gave his brother a shot to his arm with a laugh. "Good thing you're my brother." Knowing he would tease him but not really lead him to believe something that didn't happen. "I'm really grateful to you and Vanessa, Kuwan too for being there." Though now he was somewhat embarrassed also as he'd always been healthy to come down with such a fever. It seemed the kitchen lights were the brightest as he went around to the side to knock on the door there and waited.

"Kuwan stayed all night and came into the room before she left in the morning, once your fever seemed to have broken. She was worried too. She's a good-hearted lass." He crossed his arms over his chest as they waited, his expression hidden in the shadows.

Aiden's eyes shot over to the door and then looked to Vanessa. He wasn't dressed; he looked like a little kid in his pajamas. "Oops." He put his head down on the table and blew a puff of air at his bangs making them lift then fall right back down in his face. A very childish expression of frustration. Those orange eyes swirled with a dark blue before they completely changed color.

Hearing the knock, brow quirked slightly with a glance to the door. She hoped it wasn't any bad news. The filled bowl of stew and a spoon set on the table for Aiden, she moved to the door and opened it once unlocked. Needless to say she was a bit surprised to see Eion and Segan standing there, but smiled. "Ave, gentlemen." Stepping back away from the door, she invited them both in.

"Too bad you don't like lasses that way, she would be a nice one for you to spend time with. Take her on a picnic before the snow falls." So he wanted to see his brother happy, "and if you're not attracted to her there are plenty.." but his words halted luckily for Eion as the door opened and his smile spread. "I owe you thanks in helping me out, seems I was running a fever and all." He couldn't really say he knew it was happening when it did, more like a by the way, Segan... kind of deal. Stepping in and a few steps further to give Eion the room he needed to step in as well.

The way Segan said that had Eion giving him a look of exasperation. He was almost making it sound like Eion didn't like women at all until he added the rest. "Evening, Vanessa." Letting Segan stammer around with his thanks as he stepped inside.

Once both men were inside, she closed the door, smiling to both. "You didn't have to come all the way here to thank me, but you are welcome." A dip of her head to Eion. "Nice to see you. This is my brother, Aiden." Who appeared to be a young man of about twenty or so, maybe a touch older. He'd offer a wave but otherwise just quietly eat. "Would you two care for stew or something to drink?"

"It was the least I could do." Considering she had been running between her cottage and the Inn last evening into this evening. "I would love to have some of your stew." Realizing he was famished as he'd not eaten since yesterday for having slept near twenty four hours. "Evening Aiden," enough said without interrupting his meal.

"Well met, Aiden." He gave the man a nod then looked at Vanessa and nodded. "Stew sounds good." It had been a while since he had gone downstairs at the Thistle to grab something, and before he could again, Segan had awakened.

Motioning the brothers to the table, she moved along the counter to pick up a couple more bowls and ladled stew into them. The two bowls filled were set on the table along with spoons. "I'm afraid I haven't got anything other than cider and fresh juice to drink. Which would you prefer?"

Cider was juice.. least in his book as a grin started to form, "cider will be fine. Thank you very much." Meaning his words far deeper than spoken as he watched her get the meal for them.

"Cider will do for me as well." He glanced at Segan before he watched Vanessa as well. "Did you sleep at all?" Being she was back and forth as much as she was, he wondered.

Well, fresh squeezed juice as opposed to cider. A nod given to Segan as she set the bowls down. Turning back to the counter, she picked up two mugs to fill. "I slept for a little bit before returning early this morning, to the inn." The mugs set down, then she went about serving herself. "I'm a bit surprised to see you up and about." To Segan, his fever seemed more than just a mild one. Confirmed to her that he was more than he seemed.

"You know I feel horrid knowing I kept you both up last night and not even knowing what was going on. Yet at the same time it warms me inside to know there are ones who care what happens to me." He had no inkling other than what he was told but it would be something he would look into soon. Not tonight, probably tomorrow give it reflection. Eion had told him what little he had said in a fever induced rambling. "I can't say this hasn't happened before but if some memory loss of time occurred due to something like this before, it's been a few years." Hard to tell for like the night he drank himself into oblivion at the Snake Pit had nothing to do with this.

"Only did what you did for me, little brother." He answered quietly, understanding what Segan meant. It had been a long road back to recovery for him and he might be dead had his brothers not freed him from that prison in England. "Thank you, Vanessa." And with that he set to eating.

Aiden finished and excused himself, insisting Vanessa not get up, and hobbled back to his room. She watched to make sure he made it without incident and joined the brothers at the table. She smiled to them both and set to eating her own meal while listening to them. "You're welcome." To Eion and looked to Segan. "Don't feel bad. I didn't mind at all, though I much prefer seeing you well and healthy."

He dug in like a man starved after holding off more than he could bear with the good aroma the stew gave off. Every last drop of both stew and cider. "I prefer being healthy. Honestly didn't know I wasn't." Which was very disconcerting. "Is your brother all right?" He noticed that he hobbled away. "I didn't know you had a brother and must be good to have him home with you." Not remembering she had told him the previous night.

He paused to watch Segan near inhale the food before finishing his own. The cider he'd take his time with, leaning back in the chair as he listened.

She made her way through her meal probably slower than either of the brothers with a glance back towards Aiden's door and nodded. "Aye, he's alright. Had an accident with his horse a couple nights past. It's nice to have him here. I haven't seen him since before leaving Eldyn. Aiden isn't a kin by blood. Sort of adopted him on a promise." Added late.

"Someone had you promise to look after him?" Seemed an interesting comment to make. "How old is he?" He seemed a little old to adopt but that wasn't something he could comfortably point out.

Segan had asked what Eion was wondering so he just nodded agreement and waited for Vanessa to answer.

"No, I promised to look after him." She finished off her stew with an awkward little laugh. "Aiden is ten. He fell victim to a spell cast on him that aged his body but not his mind." It all sounded strange, even to her.

"First ten year old I met that could shave." Trying to make light of the situation. He suddenly got the impression that every single wounded wild animal that came Vanessa's way would be taken in under her care. Shaking off the image presently, "maybe there is someone here that can help him. I've been told there are quite a few Druids about."

"That must be a bit confusing for him at times. Especially if his body reacts differently than his mind." He cleared his throat suddenly, feeling bad for the lad.

There was that as he shot his brother a look, certainly sympathy there for the lad.

Vanessa laughed quietly. "Mariah had made a similar comment to that the other night at the Thistle. I'm not sure he really wants to go back to being fully a ten year old. But his reasons I fear for not, are not the right reasons. I told him the choice is his though and that I would support whatever decision he made."

"So he hasn't made this decision yet? I can find out who would be best once he does make the decision. Well, first if he wants one to help change this condition and then which way."

Hell, it had been confusing when they were older and had to deal with all those new emotions. "I could see him choosing to stay older, of course. Every child wants to grow up. I just hope he doesn't regret it. He looked at Segan and nodded. "Good idea. It might be easier him to talk to someone else."

"That would be appreciated. He mentioned the other night that he wants to stay the way he is so he's more capable of helping me. I told him that he'd be missing a lot. His teens and new experiences along the way, the way a teen would experience them. We haven't really spoken on it since. Perhaps if he has someone to speak to about possible options, it would help."

"Maybe move him up to sixteen say, still get in a few of his teen years?" That age a young man would be about the size and development Aiden seemed to be. A strange thought occurring with what she had said but there too, not something to easily state.

As he listened, he covered a yawn. The night and day had taken it's toll on him it seemed. He looked at Segan then Vanessa. Hopefully there'd be a message waiting for him at the Thistle. He had written a note to explain what was happening and hoped he might have another day off, though he didn't request it.

"Why does he figure you need protecting? Like a bodyguard?" It was stated too he was not blood related and he had a crush when he was only ten years old. Had he at the time been offered to turn into an older man, he would have jumped on it. Knowing well his chances were zero for the age difference.

"Perhaps." A smile to Segan. "I know he dreams and works hard to become a knight someday, which I think too influences him to stay the way he is. I'm not sure it's protection, as much as just helping in general. Perhaps he feels now that he's the way he is, he owes it to me to take care of me as I have taken care of him." She couldn't be sure. Aiden didn't have a crush on her, she knew that for sure. They were instantly as brother and sister from the day they'd met.

It was getting late and perhaps his thoughts were working overtime, creating scenarios that were not there. "They do take lads on as squires. Eion here could give you more information on that." Rising from his seat as he was sure they both needed sleep. He had too much and probably be up a number of hours so he would get out his journal and a quiet place to write in the manor home. Probably where Master Bently was kept in a small room turned into his own little jungle thanks to his sisters and himself.

"Aye, we can talk more if he wishes." He stood as well, looking at Segan. "Need to stop at the stables so I can get Diablo." And see if the message was there.

"That would be wonderful." Grateful smile to Eion, she stood from her seat to see them both to the door. "Thank you for coming to see me, and let me know that you are up and about."

He would let Eion go out before him as he paused by Vanessa. A hand lifted to gently allow the backs of his fingers caress against her cheek. Nothing said but it was there in his eyes as they held the moment before he was out the door as they had yet a stop to make it seemed.

"Good night, Vanessa, rest well." He breathed deeply as he stepped outside, then when Segan was beside him, made for the Thistle first. Maybe he'd just leave Diablo where he was. A walk would be welcome.

Pause brought attention up to Segan with a soft smile that spoke more than words could, parting with a light pat to his upper arm. "Good night to both of you. Be safe on your travel home."



Date: 11-05-09
Poster: Logan Cunningham
Post # 11

Certificate Redemption

Early evening crossed the lands, shown with the brilliant shades of oranges and pinks and other fabulous colors that were totally against the chilly air of autumn fading into winter. Vanessa had spent the past few days working with some new birds, as she was currently before the night grew too cold for her blood, and too dark. The gates to the garden open, she was around the side of the cottage and down the hill a short ways towards the flight cages with one of the new hawks. A lovely Kestrel with calico colors in the midst of green training. A piece of fish in one hand, deer in the other, they were both held up. "Fish." The hawk looked between the two options before snipping at the fish held in hand. Which she gave him as a reward.

With the colder weather, Logan made one concession a sleeveless tunic of a heavier  patchwork cloth instead of the leather vest, with arms to remain bare for no shirt. Pants too were of a dark brown wool and boots to finish his attire. He caught up with his brother as both of them had certificates and not visiting the lady this late night for certain talk might spread of her entertaining gentlemen, alone.   Groups were fine. Two was a group. Long stride carried him well to cut the distance from their manor to the Avian Gardens.

Mike had been planning on surprising Brigid tonight but several things had kept him busy and as it was late, he agreed to go with Logan. He wore his favorite Aran sweater of gray, over black pants tucked into riding boots. Hands shoved into his pockets, he kept up with his brother taking note of the rising moon.

Which he didn't know about him wishing to see Brigid. If he had, he would have waited on this visit to see to the certificates. Though, Mike could always go see her afterwards with a new bird to show. "You can see your breath already," which frosted in the moonlight. Grin split his features before turning in through the gates and towards the cottage, though the cages were not that far so he averted his steps in that direction. Lucky he had for he noticed someone there within the cages. "Hey ho.." Called up that she would hear and then see them before frightening the one.

Vanessa withdrew another piece of fish from a small pouch and held it out to the bird. "Fish. Hunt." Then gave a specific series of clicks with her tongue. The bird took flight. Just as she looked up to watch the avian ascend higher she heard the call and turned to look in direction of the source with a smile. "Ave, gentlemen!" Called back with a welcoming tone and a small wave.

"Aye, won't be long until it snows." If it wasn't that this was home now, Mike would have been in warmer climes. But he had another reason for staying now. He squinted when Logan called out, not seeing the lass until she called.  He lifted a hand to wave as well. "Evening, Lady Vanessa. It's Mike Cunningham, and me brother, Logan."

The meats in hand were set on a flat end of the perch before wiping her hands on the apron she wore over her dress with a nod. "Nice to see you again, Mike. Pleasure to meet you, Logan." Looking between them, wondering what would bring them to the gardens at such an hour.

"Broch said to come in the wee hours of the morn for the birds of prey were at their best then but, we decided this was early enough." He moved closer to the cage as sharp eyes took in each of the birds. Which he was taking out the folded piece of paper from his tunic pocket as he stepped back to hand it to her. "Our brother wasn't just pulling our leg?" Though that would be pushing it even for Broch to play such a prank.

He gave her an boyish smile as he added, "We wanted to see the birds since he gave us the certificates. You training the one that flew off?" He watched Logan a moment before stepping closer himself.

A nod given to Logan before looking up towards the sky with another nod. "Aye. He just came in not too long ago." The paper taken from Logan as she turned back to them. "No. He purchased two birds for you beforehand."

"What do you do if he doesn't come back?" He withdrew the paper he had and offered it over to her as well.

That brought the flash of a smile back as his brother then spoke up with a question so he would hear that out.

A blink to the question, she took the paper and folded it with the other to tuck into a pocket of the apron. "Then I just let him go. Means he wishes his freedom more than he wishes to be here."

"Ah, I see." Made sense to him.

Now that was a very interesting answer. "Have you had any that just kept going and not return?" Curious as ever as he was once more looking over the ones in the cage. "Which makes the best one to hunt? To Scout?"

Vanessa didn't force the birds to stay. If they opted fly away, then so be it. "I haven't had any not return so far." She turned to the cage and looked over the various prey birds. "Most any of the birds of prey are excellent for both. The Kestrels can't catch meals quite as large as some of the others can, but they're all quite clever in both fields." The kestrel she'd been working with circled overhead, crying out his return. A leather bracer pulled from the strap of her apron and was put on, she held her arm up and whistled back, giving him a place to land. The kestrel returned, holding a fish in its beak.

"I would say that is a high compliment to you." Which certainly had him impressed. "How would you say an Osprey over a Falcon would do?" It was the two he was interested in, well, one or the other being the eagle was too large and owls were best at night.

"It would depend on the type of bird. Red tails tend to be better at hunting land based prey while Osprey are better built as fishers."

He was fascinated with the kestrel and grinned as it landed. Then while Logan and Vanessa talked, he looked the cages, studying the birds.

That was what he was thinking, while fish would serve him well when gone on his hunting trips in a pinch, smaller game like rabbit would be tastier. Plus the scouting when needed. "Do you have any red tails?"

She looked up to the cage and nodded. "Aye. I have two. Just came in a couple days ago. However, I don't generally pick the bird to the potential owner. I allow the birds to pick for themselves."

"How do you do that?" That explains why Broch gave them the certificates rather than the birds.

She smiled to Mike and moved to the door of the cage with the birds of prey and opened it. The kestrel released into the cage, then to the small box to the side for two leather bracers. "You hold your arm up and let one choose you." Smiling to them both, she offered the leathers and motioned them in.

Sounded good to him. He took one of the bracers, and pulled it on then grinned at Logan. He didn't wait for his brother as he stepped inside and held up his arm. And waited.

He took the leathers as he wrapped it around his arm before stepping into the cage like he was directed to. He held his arm up off to the side of his brother. "Will this confuse them with two in here?" He could wait.

"It shouldn't, no." She stepped in the door frame just after them and looked up at the birds. There were fifteen in there currently. They all eyed the two with their arms held up, most stayed, a few hoped and descended closer. It would probably take a good five or six minutes before the two red tails descend and took perch on the offered arms. Talons clamped tightly for balance and settled. Vanessa smiled. "Perhaps brothers for brothers."

He let out a low whistle, then chuckled. "It seems so. Have you ever had two birds settle on one person?" He wasn't sure if he could pet the bird like Laura's macaw but he did offer to see if the hawk lowered his head.

Which he lowered his arm some, bird noises under his breath as his other hand lifted to smooth the back of his finger against the red tail's chest. "You are a beauty and if we have a guy and gal here.." Mike's question gained his interest in hearing the answer to that as well.

"I have." She stepped back out of the cage to allow the brothers out with their new found friends. "I leave it to the birds to choose. It's only happened once."

He nodded at that, grinning as he was able to scratch at the back of the bird's head where it wasn't so easy for him to groom. Stepping outside, he studied the bird for a moment. "Now, we'll have to work on your name, aye?"

Once she was out, he was to follow, arm at an angle before him so he didn't upset the hawk. "Have you trained them some so far?" Wondering where they should start.

She motioned to the more spacious part of the garden and closed the cage door. "They have some training. They will take to flight if you raise your arm, and return with the same gesture and a whistle. That's as far as their training has gotten so far."

"So, the next step would be the hunting and returning with the prey, like the kestrel that just came back with a fish?" He headed for where she motioned, still studying his new comrade.

"Aye. The training isn't difficult. Teach them the difference in land prey and fish by word so they know what to hunt, then send them off to hunt according to demand." She followed out towards the open part of the garden. "I'll have to get some threads for you. But Since they know the command to fly and return, if you wanted to train them to your own commands, I recommend it. Then they respond to you alone and not another's commands." Because the command would be unique to the master.

"Aye, I can do that." He was listening attentively. It would be the first he possessed a hawk or one that possessed him. Might make a good argument in the future. "Do you cage them at all or does a perch suit them better?" Being the cage she had them in here was pretty much open. They flew in and out as wanted so such freedom would be expected over say the exotic birds not so allowed? Though he wasn't certain on that.

Cage might not matter. He had come downstairs early and found Indigo looking for Laura. He had a feeling the macaw's cage would be moved into her bedroom if that kept up.

She checked the pockets of her apron. "A perch works well for them. As long as you have the jess laced through their cuffs, they won't take to flight." Digging a hand into one of the pockets, she pulled out two leather throngs, and offered one to each brother. The hawks were already equipped with the small leather cuffs around each of their ankles with eyelet holes.

"This should be interesting." He chuckled as he took the jess offered, then tipped his head to see those eyelets and attempt to thread the leather through.

A smile given to Mike, she helped get the throng through the eyelets. "I'm sure you'll both do very well with them. If you need any help, you're always free to come to me."

"Thank you. So, if we teach them in Gaelic, that would be a good idea?" He watched her then nodded. Not quite as bad as having to thread a needle.

"It would be." She smiled and left the throng to hang without tying it. "I suggest you talk to them a lot for the first couple weeks. Make sure they get to know your voice and familiar with the language you wish to train their commands in. Be sure to reward them for their right doing, and repeat their teachings for wrong." Never punish, not that she thought they would.

"Can you thread a needle, Mike?" Chuckle under his breath. "I think I'll take him cliff scaling with me, get up high before the snow comes." Which would give him a lot of time to bond with the hawk.

"I think he'd really enjoy that. They are good companions, loyal to only one. The more time you spend with them, the easier it will be to communicate and for them to read your needs."

"If we need to keep them somewhere safe, what do you suggest? I know chickens have coops, but what do you call a shelter for hawks?" He just nodded at Logan, though the needles he had to thread had been for fixing sails.  He snapped the fingers of his free hands.  "Mews, the shelter is called a mews."

Ones he had to thread were for sewing up a wound. "Do you have any perches?" Being it was late and he would not want to keep her up too long. They had come unexpected tonight.

"I leave Winter to perch in the trees when he needs somewhere safe to be. You can always keep them in a barn. Good for keeping mice out, or if you need a cage, I can have a couple custom built. I have some spare perches in the hut. I'll bring a couple out for you."

"We do have the stable and a barn for the various animals so either would be good. Although he would have the perch to set up as needed. He would figure it out between himself and the hawk. "I'll have to come up with a good name for you too." Scratching around the hawk's neck as he spoke, certainly he was getting use to his voice.

Mike had been murmuring to his in Gaelic but was listening. "Aye, and it would keep them out of the weather." If the signs were true, and winter would be as bad as they were showing.

Vanessa nodded and turned to go to the hut to get out a couple of perches. nothing grand about them. Just curved wood set on stands to make them stable. She brought out two for the brothers and smiled. "I'm sure they'd appreciate that."

"What do we owe you for the stands, Vanessa?" He looked at her then at his brother. Surely he agreed they should pay for those.

Shake of her head, she set the stands down and brushed blonde curls from her face. "Nothing. Your brother's taken care of it."

"We should get him something for all his work in our last caper to Kildare. Maybe set him up on a date with Vadoma.. though I'm tempted to ask her out myself." This as an aside to Mike as Logan was looking to stir some mischief.

Logan had him laughing, glad to be out of that loop. Or so he hoped! "Well, if you don't, maybe we can. They might both appreciate it. Otherwise, we'll have to work on something else. Especially if you ask her out yourself."

Vanessa smiled to them both. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"She also did a crack up job. I think it went better having them both there than had we done it alone like usual." They could talk more on it later as a smile flashed Vanessa's way. "You're not taken are you?" She could swat him anytime. She was as fetching as he heard. Except he didn't know her all that well to tease around too much with.

She blushed lightly to the question, but the smile maintained. "I have interest in someone."

He snapped his fingers, free hand of course being the hawk was still sitting on his other arm. "Lucky him or else you would find me needing your expert advise a lot." Teasing, certainly, but it was a compliment to her too. "I do think we should get back before my arm falls off.." though he might have the hawk fly some of the distance and try out seeing if he would come back with a whistle and the lift of his arm.

"You're so very kind." Smile brightened some with another nod. "Put him to flight if you like. He'll follow your lead from overhead."

"Just remove the jess?" Didn't she say they'd not fly otherwise?  He hoped he could get it back through the eyelet on the anklets.

"Aye. Pull the throngs from their cuffs first, then push your arm up to the air, They'll take flight to that command."

"Thank you very much, Vanessa, it has been a great pleasure meeting you." She had said to remove the leather throngs from the cuffs which he did then pushed up his arm. The hawk took flight but circled around in wider ones probably to see what Logan would do. He shook out his arm, he was muscular, strong, but that didn't mean holding his arm up like that could last too long. He would have to see about making a perch attached to his saddle too.

He followed suit, watching as the hawk took flight also, then rubbed his arm. A grin to Logan, and then he bowed slightly to Vanessa. "Thank you for allowing us to interrupt your work, Vanessa. It was good to see you again."

"You're very welcome, and it was a pleasure to meet you as well, Logan." Then to Mike. "It was nice to see you again, as well. Tell Broch I said hello when you see him next."

"That will be when we arrived home." He nudged Logan and started to head off the grounds, and he looked upward to see if the hawk was following. A pleased grin appeared when he saw he was. The still bright light of the waning moon allowed the bird to see well.  And if he remembered come morning, he might see to having a special saddle made for Logan's horse and his own. He had heard some could be made to accommodate such birds.

She walked them as far as the cottage. "Both of you travel safe, and I hope to see you again some time."

"Laura should be coming around soon." Which would be good for her to make girlie friends and all that entailed. He didn't ask her to come with them to force her to come alone. "She has that certificate for some of the things Broch forgot to bring. She loves the macaw but she will tell you all about him." Talking as they walked to the cottage and then continued on. He could see both of the hawks soaring above only to disappear then reappear again under the moonlight.

"I look forward to meeting her and hearing how she is doing with the macaw." The brothers got a wave from her as she watched them as far as the road then turned to go into the cottage for the night.

Date: 11-13-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 12

Sealed with a Kiss

Broch had veered off in another direction when the three hit the Commons after the Turkey Shoot in Solurius. It was just he and she by the time the tavern was reached. Segan dismounted barely as the stallion was reined in and around to help her down. His smile said it all in having enjoyed the night out with her.

After farewells to Broch, arrival at the Thistle was a welcome sight. Warm cider! Good company! Helped down from the saddle, smile returned to him, having enjoyed the night out with him as well. "Ready for drinks to warm up with?"

Except he didn't move right away with her in his arms between the two stallions near making it a world apart. "I could stay warm right here with you in my arms." He well noted she had not slapped him when he kissed her for her great shot at the event, quick as it was, she had not protested at all either. Maybe she might notice how his eyes drank her in and a certain dangerous look to them as they went from her eyes to her lips.

No, she'd not slapped him. Far too surprised by the kiss, and was grateful to have learned the truth from the fib her parents told her. "It is comfortable right here." Shy smile, eyes shifted over his face, watching the way he looked at her with a settling of butterflies. Her own expression fond, even as she lightly bit her lower lip for a moment. Both hands moved to his upper arms as she leaned up on her toes closer to him.

There was a certain hungry look to a man's eyes when he desired a woman. It was there in the deepening blue of his, roughen fingers had cupped her chin to lift. Of course he would notice her biting her bottom lip, "make me jealous to devour that which you nibble." Eyelids had lowered as well his voice in a more emotionally roughen tone. Thumb caressed lightly over the curve of her chin as he leaned in to touch a kiss to one cheek. It was slow, gentle, before lifting to touch one to the tip of her nose then down to her other cheek. From there lips moved drawing against her skin, teasing, tempting her lips to draw to his as they painstakingly moved towards them.

Chin lifted at his gesture. "You give me butterflies when you look at me like that." Not at all spoken or hinted to in a negative way, and spoken in barely more than a whisper. She closed her eyes to the warmth of the kisses placed so sweetly and his tempting motivation worked well. A subtle tilt of her head to draw closer to his lips with a soft brush of contact. Shy, but curious for the soft kiss pressed gently against his lips with barely any hesitance, but even at that it was just nervousness.


It was well worth the sweet torture until his lips finally devoured hers in a heated kiss to brand them as his own. A true kiss, not something quick but one full of restrained passion for the newness. That underlying emotion would be felt full of promises for more one day. He savored her taste, savored the feel, slow drawing of his lips over hers to explore from one corner to the other as she might notice she was completely into his arms at this point. The fingers of one hand had worked up through the warmth of her hair like a comb brushed against her scalp along the back of her head. It gave him leverage to kiss longer, to kiss her complete.

Sweet temptation turned into an eternal warmth the likes she'd never experienced before. Butterflies crawled from her toes upwards as the kiss was placed fully and given into as if she'd melt right there. A deep breath to take him into her senses, burning this moment into a memory that would live eternally. For a moment she had tensed up, being her first real kiss, but tension quickly faded as she relaxed in his embrace. Both hands remained on his upper arms where fingers curled into the material that covered, as if afraid the moment would escape her far sooner than she wanted it to.

She might more feel than hear the low growl under his breath. A feral, drawing sound from the beginning of time between man and woman. Though they had advanced in culture some would say, some things were as natural as their beginnings. A certain domination that should be and humbled by her sweet response. The kiss was intense for a span before melting away to something more playful in nibbles, like one tickled another with their lips to get the other into play.

She thought for sure that she would just melt right there. There was a quiet sound from her. Barely on a breath that was vocal to be heard only by him. One that whispered of enjoying the moment as it moved into affections more playful, to which there was a very slight smile that couldn't be helped. A natural ending was bound to happen and came with a much simpler, though still very warm kiss before she tilted her chin down some, opening her eyes to look up to him. "You take my breath away."

"You more than take my breath away," the nibbling had ended as he kept her close, felt so good he didn't wish to move but move he would for they needed to. "Let us get inside and something warm to drink." He had told her he was attracted to her and now she knew how much. Not a passing fancy but one fueled by passion. He recognized her natural response to him and it pleased him well.

Height was slowly drawn down to what was natural in her boots as she lowered down off her toes. Aside from that, she was in no rush to move. Her confession to having a crush on him wasn't the correct term. It was more than a crush, but it was something she couldn't put in words. Certainly not anything passing or fleeting for as long as she'd waited to make such a confession. When he finally moved, she moved with him. "A warm drink would be nice." Though standing there with him was likely to keep her far warmer than a drink could offer.

There would be time, there would be the right time. It was too early for certain things to be voiced but was there in the current that flowed between them in that kiss. Let them both get use to it. No rush, all would go as it should. He kept her close as he escorted her within and right to the bar. "Warmed up cider, mine to have a good dose of the pure in it." He had drinks like that, something more like a treat than drinking the pure straight. Once they were delivered he would suggest the wing backs in front of the hearth. Making sure his would be butted up next to hers.

Time they had. She was in no rush and fully looked forward to exploring this relationship as it bloomed at its own pace. Close at his side she followed him in with a smile to Alex. "Ave, Alex." Greeting him in normal fashion as she walked to the bar to collect her drink then to the chairs to sit next to Segan. Removing her coat first though so she could get comfortable for a little while. "I am going to clean that turkey and deliver it to your grandmama." A smile given, she settled into the seat leaned more towards him.

"She would dress it up properly." Getting settled in the seat next to her once she had. Arm rested on the arm of her chair instead of his. Little things that spoke volumes she might well notice. "If you are not going anywhere for Thanksgiving, I would like you to come to our house to spend it."

Once his arm was placed comfortably, she coiled her arm around/behind his with a smile. "I'm hoping she does. It's really more meat than I can eat alone, especially now that Aiden has taken to his wandering again." The mug of cider sipped from while he made his invitation, she looked back to him with a soft smile. "That would be very nice." She'd have to think of something to bring. She wasn't planning to save the turkey until then. She'd probably try to deliver that over the weekend.

"I was going to ask on Aiden, if you had heard from him or not or your other friend that was staying at your place?" For the life of him the name escaped him. "Turkey is big enough to have for Thanksgiving or just a dinner on its own." He would leave that between her and Grandmama.

"Aiden sent me a letter, which I received a few days ago. He is doing well. The other has moved along as well. The house is empty except for me." Which made it very quiet and kind of lonely. Made her appreciative of the birds being there. "Well, your grandmama can decide. I'll deliver it to her sometime over the weekend."

"I will warn her you will be descending upon her armed with a turkey," teasing her good considering she had not met his Grandmother. If Herself had heard Segan, she'd be taking the broom to him and the chase would be on. "I'll just have to show up to fill the emptiness when I can. Which also reminds me, see if Karina can watch the birds for you a day coming up. First sunny one so we can take the trip down along the shore in the Anaconda."

Smirk given to his teasing. "I have a turkey and I know how to use it." An affirming nod, she hid her snicker in her mug with a drink. "Having you there would certainly help fill the void of quiet in the cottage." "I haven't seen her recently, but if I do, I will ask her. Sailing along the coast sounds wonderful."

"Or I will find one reliable, suitable, to bird sit while I whisk you off with me." And he would and see to them properly paid. "I worry on Karina, wandering the way she does. She usually returns, has always thus far but many the time she is thread bare, bone weary and with little meat on her thin frame." Bad enough at times it had been very noticeable. "She seems to get better while here, then goes off again." There was a pattern emerging here.

Well, if he didn't find someone to watch the birds, she would. Perhaps Benji would watch the birds for her. His concern over Karina was shared. She worried for her to. A small smile offered. "Some are just free spirits and feel the need to move as they wish. She's a free spirit if ever I have seen one." And Karina was young though and would learn. Of course, Vanessa wouldn't say that. She was only a year or so older than Karina.

Some were wiser than their years and some even younger for them in needing to not only learn every harsh lesson of life first hand but to repeatedly learn it. "Maybe one day she'll decide to stay and settle down." Although he wasn't really sure if Karina could settle down. If she met a lad she liked and he liked her, then she would he felt. There was something there that told him that.

"Maybe." She was still smiling some and turned to look at him better. "It's good though that she follows what feels right now while she is young, yes? Better than breaking some poor lads heart later down the line, feeling that she'd missed her chance to wander freely?"

"Yes, though it has nothing to do with exploring lads or meeting as many as she can. Her adventures have been of a dangerous kind." Then again that was a high for some, to live dangerously but she seemed to give that much up. He had witnessed her street-rat ways firsthand. Thieving, though he would not speak on such unless a life and death situation and the information helpful. "The right lad comes along she will stay. I'll bet you a coin on that." Which wasn't really the amount for it was only one coin but a testing of perspectives.

"Some live for that kind of life. Plenty of men do it." Concern, but there was no changing who a person truly was. "A coin? That's all? No dinner or kisses?" Teasing him now with a little nudge of her shoulder against his.

"Wait then, a kiss. I think I like that much better. I might try and get as many of those in how some like to win coins. How do you feel on that?"

Lopsided grin given to him. "As if you have to win them. I'm sure that they are only for you whether you win them or claim them. But winning them could be fun."

"I hope they are only for me or I will become insanely jealous and might have to tear a few suitors apart." Which got him back on that teasing track he had before with her. "How many now is it? I must prepare myself.."

Oh he was so very funny. A teasing smile was given, once more mocking as though she had to think about it. "I think now it is up to four, but they are all very clever to not come around too often."

Which he managed a twitch to his eye.. and brow, like a well practiced tick. "I'm ready, I'll take them on all at once. With one hand tied behind my back, two hands, I'll still win for I'll be fueled by the memory of your kiss."

She smiled back to him with a small tilt of her head. "I'm sure just to see you coming with such intense purpose, they would scatter to the wind like antelopes in the arrival of a lion."

"They will hear my ROAR..." which he growled it out like a fierce lion. All teasing aside and his drink done by this time. "I will see you safely to your door tonight, by your leave of course. I had a very good evening." Knowing it was because of her. She would find him to be intense at times and playful at others and hoped to keep the child alive in both of them.

He would certainly manage to keep her laughing when appropriate. Eyes lightened with his roar before she looked down into her empty mug. How did that happen? "I believe the time has come. It has been a wonderful evening. I can't thank you enough."

"We would be thanking each other all night but if we are to do that, I'd rather have it in kisses." Giving a wink but then there was the lingering idea of kissing all night into the morn left to her as he got up from his seat. A hand offered to help her up before he would see to her cloak. He never had taken his off.

Little blush to his comment. "Then perhaps you will have it in kisses." Thoughtful moment, she stood from her seat, taking both her mug and his over to the bar for Alex, wishing him a good night then back to Segan. "Thank you." for helping her with her cloak. Once fastened, she lightly took his arm. "I await your lead, good sir."

He offered her the bend of his arm and a dimple smile to go with it. An upnod to Alex in g'night before he was escorting her out.

Arm taken with one more wave to Alex, she followed out for a pleasant walk home and enjoying her time with Segan.

He would be keeping her close and closer still as the weather got colder. A comfortable pace kept, brisk but not running for his gait. He was wearing a smile the whole way back to her cottage and would be from now on, one that would creep up on him that others might notice and he unaware other than his thoughts.

She wore her own smile, one arm occupied to keep her close to him, the other leading Tennison along to the cottage behind them. The gates open, she stopped just inside since she had to stable the horse. "I had a nice night. I'm glad
to hear that you did as well."

He had his stallion walking behind too but hardly noticed. Walks with her were enjoyed. Pure and simple and an area in him had become far more settled than it had been four or more months ago.

"Don't forget to give your Yaya warning that I will come armed with turkey this weekend." She smiled up to him. A smile that only he could bring from her. "And be safe on your ride home." Free hand went to his arm, she leaned way
up for a soft kiss to his cheek, then boldly one pressed to his lips.

Yaya? That was a new one on him that started a low rumbling laugh. Once to her door, he left go the reins of his horse as certain he would take her up into his arms again to warm her lips under his. So the bold one was met and savored though it would not be long for the hour. Not try to outdo what had taken place earlier. There would be a time for all kinds of kisses she would find.

Taken warmly into his arms, she released Ten's reins to wrap her arms around him for the moment of the kiss. A pleasant good night kiss that ended with a smile. "You'll spoil me with such sweetness."

"As long as it is the right kind of spoiling, then one can't have too much." She would see it in his eyes in the way they darkened, the way his smile tipped at the edges. "Sleep sweet, I will see you soon." One last kiss to the tip of her nose before he was off or he would be lingering longer and certainly that would lead to more kissing. Then he'd be seeking a cold dip in the lake and probably catch cold.

No more colds or fevers for Segan. "I'll remember that." A nod to seeing him soon, little crinkle of her nose to the kiss, she watched him down the road a ways then went about stabling Tenni with a smile she couldn't rid herself of even if she'd wanted to.

Date: 11-23-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 13


His aim had been to hurry to the cottage and began rapping against the door however he found his ears picking up the distinct sound of laughter and so, after a quick battle on the course he should take, he chose to go to those laughing. He hadn't a clue if he had in fact reached his destination so he thought best to ask for help. Rounding the side of the cottage, he would arrive just in time for a snow ball to come sailing past his head. "Hey! Minchione!" His brows furrowed in anger but instantly melted away once this so the person who had tossed it. "Sei bellissima..." He said in a surprise tone as he removed the hood from his head with his left hand, while he found his right hand coming to rest over his heart in surprise. Well she seemed to be a beauty. The moment would fade however as he reminded himself of why he had come. "Scusi." He managed a smile despite how embarrassed he felt for the outburst he had moments before which had been followed by the dumbfounded look soon after. "I was wondering if you would be as kind as to help me?"

Oh indeed, quite the vision of beauty. Working out in the snow all day to start preparations for the children's event, Vanessa was dressed in a dark blue full length coat with a black fur lined hood which lay back against her shoulders at the moment with her hair pulled back in a snood. Her face red both from having a face full of snow and the cold weather. She could probably put Rudolf to shame at the moment! When she heard the foreign words, she automatically snapped to spin around see who was there. However, laughter like that wasn't something that died easily so to keep her laughter hidden, both gloved hands went to cover her mouth with a glance to Benji who smirked, dusting snow off his coat. Vanessa cleared her throat and collected herself enough that she wasn't outright laughing, but still chuckling some. "My apologies, good sir." Spoken as she started across the span of garden towards where the man stood. "I can try to help you, but you must forgive my friend's bad aim." Motioning to Benji who threatened her with another snowball.

It was a cold day this one even with the brightness it didn't temper the temperature any. There had been a deal made and she should see to the exchange before she headed back to Ballicastle. Most of her shopping was done and her sketches made in how she would make the figurines in decoration for the Thistle mantle. A dark gown of midnight blue was worn under a cloak lined in fur of a deep russet. She knew where the Avian was located although she had not been up this way before. She brought a package of eclairs she picked up along the way at the deli, a little treat for the Avian lady Vanessa. Cheeks held a healthy rosy glow, blue eyes bright, as she turned into the walk from the gate towards the cottage. Checking as she went to see if Vanessa was at the Avian building itself.


"Mi bella." He held his arms out at either side to show he was ok, a flattering smile upon his face. "It is quite ok, no harm done." Arms brought back to his side he would continue on. "I am looking for the Avian Gardens, might you know if I'm headed in the right direction?" The smile had faded and had been replace with a sense of urgency at this point.


Roseann would find the fence of the gardens and the gate decorated with garland and red bows and all conversation was coming from around the side of the cottage where Vanessa greeted the dark featured stranger, and Benji was helping set up decorations for the upcoming event. Vanessa offered the man a smile, dusting snow from her coat. "You've found the Avian Gardens." The smile faded slightly though when the man took on a more serious expression. "Is there something I can help you with?"

The place was being transformed which brought a soft smile in appreciation. She didn't see anyone at first but she heard voices. Instead of going to the cottage door, she averted her steps taking her around the side. She slowed as she drew closer not wishing to interrupt but a small wiggle of fingers was her greeting to Vanessa. She had a lot of patience that would show in her demeanor.


"Si si." He said quickly."Please, tell me you have messenger birds of some sort. I need to deliver a message and it is of dire importance." He apparently spoke with his hands as well for as he spoke, they to moved about in front of him in tune with his voice, showing the importance of the matter."I will pay anything, do anything." He pleaded, which was very uncommon for him, but given the circumstances...

She spotted Roseann and smiled to her while listening to the man speak his need for a carrier bird. With a nod, she turned and motioned to the flight cages down the hill towards the lake a short distance. "Aye, I do. That front cage is carrier birds. We will find you one." Her attention returned to Roseann with a smile once more. "Good afternoon, Roseann. Have you come to collect on my debt?" She snickered softly, motioning the man to go ahead towards the cages figuring she and Roseann would be joining him.

The man reminded her of the Sibio males she had met before. His accent, speaking with his hands as she couldn't help but notice in a curious way. Weight shifted slightly to her right leg as the smaller box was cradled in the curve of her forearm. The larger box would be delivered once it arrived at the Thistle and a lad hired to bring it up. Drawn from the other as her smile warmed Vanessa's
 way. "Yes. I have," pausing with a glance to the other and back, "if it is a bad time I could come back later?" Not sure how she ran things, Roseann was polite. Maybe too much, she should learn how to crack Eion upside the head for his behavior the other night. Maybe her sister was waiting for that kind of spunk in her to come alive again.

"Grazie grazie." He nodded his head excitedly with each thank you before dark eyes wandered to Roseann. "Buon giorno." He said pleasantly offering a small smile. Best be nice to the natives and such. And yes, he just stood there
 waiting for Vanessa to take the lead. It was clear however, his impatience that is, by the way he began to fidget with the clasp on his cloak and such.

"Not at all, Roseann. If you'd like to set your boxes down there on the bench, we'll all go look at the birds." She moved to offer to help with the boxes if she needed the help. "The snowflake light catchers are positively beautiful." Which she'd hung in the front windows and one side/kitchen window of the cottage.

She could barely keep down the smirk and did so by not looking at the man and his fidgeting. Alhough it brought the spark of humor to blue eyes. When he addressed her, she caught the words and would assume they meant good afternoon or the like. "A good day to you Sir," smile whispered across her features for a fleeting moment. Cordial, before easily distracted back to Vanessa. "I have the one, if you like eclairs?" The lad was coming up the path as they spoke with the larger box holding the six snowflakes done up so a candle fit behind them as requested. She set the one package down and upon noticing him, waved him over so he could set the other box to the bench as well.

And well to help speed up the process, he'd grab a box himself and help, though it was not asked for nor offered by him. He was in a rush to send the note off and was at the complete mercy of Vanessa and her pace.

Oh yes, the man was in a rush. "I would love one, perhaps after I get you both situated with birds? If you'd like, the side door is unlocked Roseann. You can set the eclairs inside if you like and join us at the cages?" Spoken with a step closer to the man who waited so patiently.

"Yes, I will do so," leaving her to take care of the man and a good idea not to leave the eclairs outside for any animals or birds that might get a scent of what was inside.

Phew, they seem to be headed to the cages now and the worried look Enzo had adopted had washed over it would seem. "Once again, I thank you so much. You have not a clue how much time you have saved me." Nor lives. The thought slipped past his mind as he followed her lead. "The letter is to be delivered to a ship off the western coast, the Aureo Promessa." He would then dig into his cloak and produce a small flag. "This is the flag they fly." He would offer it up so she could in turn inspect it. Golden in color, a red crown with wings played a stark contrast to its back drop. "Thank you again." Another thanks was issued forth.

A nod was given to Roseann before walking off through the snow towards the flight cages with the man. She smiled to his words of thanks and took the flag when it was offered. She'd never heard of the place he spoke of though. "How far is this coast you speak of?" The best suited bird would depend on the distance of this coast he spoke of. The flag was held onto for the time being as she reached the gate of the cage for the carrier birds, but no further until she got a bit more detail.

Roseann would not loiter too long in Vanessa's cottage but she would long enough, about five minutes, to warm up. The first chills were the hardest to get use to but she would. Happened every winter, or beginning of it. It also gave time for Vanessa to see to the man's request. Truth be told she was curious on such birds so would venture back out, closing the door behind her securely then headed down to the area that had been indicated earlier. She would stay back and watch, listen, learn.

"It is your very own coast mi bella, the name of the ship is the Aureo Promessa... The situation dictates I not been seen any where near it. Besides, wings could travel far faster then these legs." He went on to pat his own thighs which for the most part were worn from the long trek up here.

"Oh.." Well didn't she feel silly now. The cage door was opened with a glance back towards Roseann. "You're welcome to look over the birds. The exotic companion birds are in that flight cage." Pointing to the correct one as she stepped into the cage with all the carriers, she looked over the birds perched about on various branches within the tree, the area kept warm by heating spires in the center of the cages. Given what he said about his person not going near the ports, she opted for a common pigeon. Over to where the bird was perched on a low branch, her hand extended to allow the bird to move to her hand then she was coming back to the gate. "Have you a message already written out?"

The spark of excitement lit up blue eyes as she glanced to where it was indicated of the exotic birds. That being the best suited for her in her shop, one that would learn to talk well. "Thank you," quickly spoken as she headed in the direction pointed out, already sizing up the many kinds and all gathered in the cage. She would walk around it, studying each, talking low under her breath while she waited. She would not go inside until the time came to actually pick one out.

"Si..." He said as he went about getting the little note out. He made sure to keep it short and simple as possible so as to not confuse its reader. Held between his index and middle finger, the note would be offered up, dark eyes wandering from Vanessa to Roseann. Risky using a outside source but Enzo saw it as his last option... Riskier was coming.... They dare not extend their reach here Enzo, you know that... He reminded himself. It was safe here.. The the docks, that was another story. "All is in your hands now." pressure, right? While he was digging for his note, she reached into a tall wooden chest next to the gate of the cage for a small leather wrap for the bird for the carrying of the note. It was fitting like a breastplate with a couple ties on it. The bird was set on the chest once it was closed again and the leather garment placed around its neck before taking the note, which she didn't read but fixed securely to the leather now dressed on the bird. The flag she'd held onto was lifted, the bird examined it briefly as Vanessa gave a signal whistle, an instruction, the bird took flight and turned in direction of the ports.

And then it was out of Vanessa's hand and resting upon the wings of the bird. Dark eyes watched it as it faded from view and his shoulders slumped. "How long? Do you know?" If it seemed he was being impatient or too forth coming, well one could say it was because he wasn't speaking in his native tongue.

"To the ports of Heathfield? Not long. Half an hour perhaps. The pigeon will return here with or without a message." She offered him a smile and turned her attention to Roseann for a moment, then back to the man. "You're welcome to wait here if you need to. When the bird returns, if you wish to purchase him you can." There were various benches around here and there, some dusted free of snow, some not. "Have you found a pair you like, Roseann?"


"Pair?" She was thinking more along the line of one. "Which are best at talking? If I got a pair, male and female, could I breed them or are they difficult in captivity?" Coming from around the one side with only a glance spared the
 man Vanessa had been helping. It seemed he was done for now and her focus back upon her new friend. "They're all so lovely," in short it was going to be hard to pick though she liked colorful ones or a cockatoo. All white or with color.

"A pair." That is what they had agreed on at the Thistle. Looking in through the cage, thoughtfully thinking over Roseann's question. "Mm...they all are capable of speaking." The gate was opened, she stepped inside. "They're all friendly and should do well in captivity. As long as they are well tended to, which I have no doubt you will keep up with them." Looking around, she pointed to a pair of cockatoos. "Those two have been a pair since they arrived here and both have learned to speak some greeting and parting phrases."

Purchase, well that certainly might work out for the best. Up until now he had received notes from chosen check points. Things had changed. Snapping out of the daze he had slipped into he would clear his throat. "Thank you..." He said before he realized what he hadn't done.  "Scusi scusi... Thank you so much for helping me. You went out of your way to help a stranger would had not the manor to introduce himself. I promise you I'm usually better behaved
 and such. I am Enzo Vinicio Corvo de Luca." That was a mouth full. "And I believe parrots talk and ravens if I am not mistaken."

"I might spoil them," more mussed with a touch of laughter. She would too being she spent long hours in her workshop and a place already picked out she would turn into a natural habitat for them. They would be kept clean, toys to play with, affection lavished with attention when she took breaks which she did or have too much a strain on her eyes with the more delicate working of stain glass. "They would be perfect then." Kept together and already well on the way to learning to mimic their language. She  had moved within the cage and towards the pair, raising an arm to see if either would come to her. Although startled with a quick look over her shoulder as the man became animated and needing Vanessa's attention again. After the initial blink a smile followed as his words sank in. The words spoken to her friend so left her to respond and not butting in.

When Roseann came into the cage, Vanessa whistled softly to the pair and held an arm up. Two could be heavy. They both took flight, one landing on each of the offered arm. Vanessa smiled over her shoulder to Enzo. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Enzo. My name is Vanessa Baltimore, and this is my friend Miss Roseann Cleary." Once the cockatoo was settled, she lowered her arm and waited for Roseann to exit first.

"Ah,  molto lieto (pleased to meet you) Lady Vanessa, Lady Roseann." A polite dip of his chin was given, a show of respect, and he straighten up his posture once more. "Quite the lovely couple." He added in. Seeing how he would be around until the return of the bird, he didn't wish to alienate Roseann whenever he spoke up.

They were healthy birds as she was a little surprise they were heavier than they looked. Lowering her arm as the one landed to a more comfortable position. A hand rose to slide over the softness of feathers. "You are a beauty," tones under her breath as she reveled in the feel. Petting came easy. Once Vanessa introduced them both she turned a smile the man's way as she came out of the cage. It seemed that was what she was to do. "A pleasure to meet you Enzo," shortening it right down as she didn't want to trip up and not repeat the rest correctly. He spoke quickly! "They are a very beautiful pair, couple." Being he used that word. "Do they have names, Vanessa or shall I pick ones out for them?"

She smiled, looking at the bird on her arm and closed the gate. "They are lovely, and they have no names. The one with the pink bracelet is a female. Their names are up to you, Roseann." Over to a standing perch near by, she urged the cockatoo onto it so she could gather up a cage and supplies from the hut.

Yes he tended to introduce himself in a quick manor, and even worse, that accent of his could make it hard for some to follow. Arms coming to cross over his chest, he'd watch the bird with a amused smirk. "Now I am not expect on birds, but I would say, you have trained these creatures quite well." He seemed impressed that the pair would warm up to Roseann so quickly. His uncle trained pigeons and from was Enzo saw, it was a hell of task.. But.. Maybe his uncle was just a bad trainer.

"I will put thought into their names, something befitting their beauty," which more than likely they would end up with a god and goddess name but not necessarily of the more common ones. "Pleasure to meet, pleasure to meet," the male cockatoo piped up with a ruffle of his wings in half flaps before settling again. She kept the one bird on her arm to continue getting acquainted, that was until the female started fussing over the male was getting more attention. So, she made the switch and cooed under her breath on how beautiful the female was too. In fact more but that would be between them.

"Thank you." She smiled to the compliment of how well trained the birds were. It helped to have an affinity for them, and being part phoenix helped that a great deal. Vanessa disappeared into the hut to start collecting supplies. "Roseann, do you have a way to get all of this back to your shop?" If not, Vanessa would go with her and they would take one of the wagons.

"I say you take the offer Lady Roseann... The walk up here." He would place a hand upon the small of his back and groan. "Hard on the body." Maybe it was for dramatic effect, but all the same, the gardens was a bit ways off from the town.

"Yes, though I will need a cover over the cage for the trip to the Thistle," called over to Vanessa as she was distracted there to answer her. Then Enzo spoke up, "ah, but it is all downhill from here." Quick wink with that spark in blue eyes then indicating with a slight gesture of hand (something Enzo could appreciate!) "The lad with the box," who was loitering not far from them, "will carry it for me. When I leave for Ballicastle in a few days, I will bring them with me via a carriage my brother left at my disposal." Which had her thinking she should introduce her brother to Vanessa as he was single. Terrible having friends wasn't it! Doing such would be new for the more quiet Roseann. Her brothers needed to get out. Michael was single too.

Vanessa came back out with a large white cage, more than comfortable for the couple with perches and the like inside and supplies laid on the floor of the cage to get Roseann started on their care, including toys and soft brushes for their feathers. "If you need help, I have plenty of wagons." A bright smile to the woman as she approached and set the cage carefully on the ground.

"Well then, I find both of you are far luckier then I." He'd have to travel the old fashion way until he could find a way to get his horse back in his company.

It would be best to see the birds within the cage if the lad of about sixteen was to carry them down. He was certainly tall enough and strong. She had not noticed the red about his collar in blushing the whole time being around two ladies and all that were not hard on the eyes. "You are totally on foot, sir? If you need a horse, there are ones they let out from the stables from behind the Thistle Tavern in the commons." Trying to be helpful as she carefully crouched down to help the bird within the cage. Her mate came flapping over to land atop the cage. Once the female was inside he swung down and around to let himself in to be soon at her side. She straightened at that point with a bit of relief to let the circulation back into her arm.

A smile was given to Enzo, nodding agreement to what Roseann spoke. "Aye, and surely in this winter cold a horse would be quicker than traveling by foot?" She hadn't really noticed the other boy who was about Benji's age. Benji was working on getting more of the decorations up where could be reached without a ladder since that was the goal for today and tomorrow. "And if you seek a night's shelter or more, the Thistle would be the place to go. Warm with good company and needs are covered at the expense of the kingdom."

"Is that so?" He seemed surprised by the good nature of this kingdom.. For too long he lived in a world where everything had a price and the only thing that was free was death's embrace. "I do suppose it would be the wise thing to do despite me making one nice ice sculptor." He'd say as he took on a "heroic" pose. He had his moments at humor it seemed.

"You do know what happens to statues, be they ice or marble around many birds.." smile sneaking up as she took the coverlet to slide over the cage then indicated the lad, whose name was Johnny, to take it. He was getting paid to help her out this day and certainly earned the coins requested. Hands coming to rest at her hips as she could appreciate a good looking man poising as Enzo offered for their pleasure.

Vanessa snickered quietly at the pose Enzo gave and smirked to Roseann's retort. "If you enjoy the gardens, perhaps you'd pose as one of Santa's elves for the event coming up." A small nudge given to Roseann, watching Johnny collect the cage and carry it off. "Would either of you care for some tea?" Eclairs were sounding yummy.


Roseann had a tendency to be somewhat blind in ways, especially on a sixteen year old lad. Boy. Though certainly Johnny probably didn't feel that way. The nudge had her catch sight of the red on his neck. Almost asking him if he had an irritation, wool bothering his skin or the like. Luckily he'd been too quick, murmured greeting to Vanessa and off quickly to his task. "I would love some tea and the eclairs I brought are my favorite so I'm hoping they are liked by you. Real pudding inside and thick chocolate fudge layered on top the flaky enclosure." Already starting in that direction as she was in the way otherwise.

"This statue tends to freeze and stain quite easily, so I'm afraid no prolong expose around birds or the cold... Not much for tea but, if you have any cafe that would be lovely." Smile given to the both the ladies as the thought of coffee filled his mind. a chance encounter with the brown elixir and well, he had become smitten with it. Oh and Rose best not tell Enzo such things like him being handsome.. His head was already big enough.

"They sound wonderful." Hope there was a third. She didn't like eating in front of others if she had none to share. "I'm sure I have some coffee somewhere." Not a big drinker of the stuff, but probably had some sitting around. To the cottage! She pushed the side door open, leading into the kitchen where there was a small table and the air smelled of slow cooking stew. "Make yourselves comfortable." Then it would be digging for coffee.


It would have to be dragged from her lips! She was far too shy to tell a man he was good looking, handsome even, that he might take it she wanted to bed him. Yes, she'd seen others and it would only strike terror in her heart at this point but she certainly noticed men, she was a normal female in that way she has just never been with one. In that way. Probably wouldn't happen for a long time if her encounters were like the recent one with one Eion Quinn. There was a half dozen eclairs in the box. Coming into the cottage after Vanessa as she lowered her hood then took the cloak off or become too hot and then too cold when she had to go outside again. One of the seats taken as she settled comfortable. "Your stew smells wonderful." For it filled the house with its rich aroma and should be complimented on. When the aroma was near a meal itself, it was a good stew cooking.

Invite taken, he followed suit and would make himself comfortable. Heavy cloak abandon and hung up near by, one could see what the olive skin travel really look like. A man ready for battle it seemed! Though about first glance, he'd easily blend in with a crowd thanks to the flowing dress shirt with it's flared collar and cuffs and the elegant white vest. However the red lining and silver embroidery added a air of nobility about him.  However once one began to take on his details, they would find more to the man clad in white. The sturdy leather armor did its best to blend in but once spotted, no one could mistake him for a simple commoner on the streets. Of course the assortment of weapons, the sword and dagger which hung at his side as well as the throwing knives which were in place upon his belt suggest he may be a man who needed its use. Not wanting to frighten his new found company, he casually removed the belt and set it to hang with his cloak. No longer sporting any visible weapons, he paused, struggling with the idea of removing the short cape witch hung over his left shoulder.... Pause taken, he'd remove it. No
 sense wearing it indoor after all. So, in "short" he had finished settling in, and in turn would join the two. "Rather lovely indeed... Your house that is.. and the stew does smell lovely."

"Thank you." She smiled to Roseann and waited for Enzo to enter before closing the door, then went about looking for coffee. Unfortunately, her kitchen was a mess, collecting ingredients for making cookies gradually. Over to one of the cabinets for a small basket of various flavors of tea, she found the coffee in there as well. Both were taken down and some water set to boil. "Well, if you're both hungry, the stew should be ready." While the water boiled, she went about removing her coat and gloves, leaving her in a very simply designed fawn colored dress without much in the way of design, but suited for the colder weather. The box of eclairs set on the table with a plate for each of them, she smiled to Enzo. "Thank you. It's still a bit bare." Furniture shopping not exactly her priority when she figured she had what she needed.


His military appearance took her a little by surprise. The connection with needing so urgently to send off a message to a ship in the harbor was already winding intrigue around this male. Though caution too for he was not known and obviously a warrior of some type. Spy possibly, undercover agent, mercenary, could be one of many. "I best not eat dinner this early if I am to have an eclair but I will take you up on it the next time I'm here and you are making stew." That was a certain. It was more the time frame. Curiosity would get the better of her too as she tried a nonchalant question Enzo's way. "Where are you from Enzo? Maybe lands we have heard of," including Vanessa in that. The gown she wore of midnight blue had a lighter cast of blue for the crushed velvet look. Tatted white lace on a square modest neckline and edging the cuffs of full length sleeves. Only a bit from each side of her hair was drawn back and held by a ribbon of blue that had gotten lost in the thickness of her hair down the back.

"Grazie, I will take you up on that offer." What man would pass out a free meal. Finding a seat to claim as his own, he'd would settle in before turning to Rose who had asked him a question. "Well Lady Rose, I am from Italiaon, an island nation to the south." And being that is was island nation, one could bet it had a fleet of ships, ships that would surely travel in trade with other lands. There was a fair chance she may have heard of his home. The conversation continued while they ate and before they needed to be on their way.



Date: 11-26-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 14

Snowy Night

Evening had come and settled rather cold across Heathfield with a light fall of snow that was beginning to accumulate on the ground. Nothing more than a dusting currently but would certainly gain in depth as the night went on. Vanessa was on a mission to get things as done as she could before the event being held for the children because there was still much to be done and she planned on at least a week to get the trees decorated because there were a lot of them and it would require climbing and moving and climbing and more moving. Benji had been kind enough to refuse her kicking him out of the garden to go home, instead staying to help finish up the ground decorations, which were being finished up now. The gates of the gardens stood open and anything that could be lit up was so they could see their progress. Various paths laid out about the open spaces of land, leading off here and there were lit in various colors, sparkling off the ornaments that were already out and placed. Benji was securing things to the ground, Vanessa was finishing up with placement of the last few ornaments she had from an old crate. Dressed warm in her long coat with fur trim about the hood, didn't help hide the rosey color of her cheeks and nose from time spend in the winter weather.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. The words to the song rang in his ears as indeed it was snowing as he headed up from the commons towards the avian gardens. He knew Vanessa would be decorating as it would take time to get all the decorations up she had in mind and the event about a week away. He'd been to the tailor to see about an Elf suit that would keep him warm as it was going to be outside. There was also the fact that it seemed one too many were interested in seeing him in tights. Green or red tights no less and Karina suggesting sparkles. They were vicious but it had him laughing as he turned in from the street through the gate leading to the cottage. Steps slowed as he cross that threshold into another world in the making. A low whistle under his breath as he gradually turned, walking backwards in the process. He was impressed. Around about had Vanessa in his sights. "You've done so much already!" Surprise held only lending to him realizing she was very efficient. "Anything left for me to do?"

Oddly none of the birds seemed the bit bothered by the cold or snow that had begun. The peacocks still wandered about the grounds as they always did and the birds in the flight cages were as they always were, though drawn in closer towards the heating spires. Hearing the whistle, Vanessa turned to smile to Segan. "Oh, there's plenty left to do. We have yet to start on the trees or the cottage." Little sniffle but not from getting a cold. It was just an effect of the cold. "I'm glad you like it though." She hoped the children would love it.

"The children will be dazzled." And his words would certainly be true. He noted that she had on a very warm cloak but what kind of boots did she have? "The tailor will have my Elf suit done by this Friday and the Santa ones for Eion and Concessa." Letting her know how that was progressing so she'd not have to worry on it.

The beauty within the lights mixed with the welcoming snow helped to bring her ease and, as right hand coiled around the open gate she slowly stepped within and shifted cobalt hues about the scenery. The heat of her breath was corded between cracked lips and flaring nostrils as the hooded cloaked woman continued onward in an aimless conquest of solitude and peace. The draping lights over head within the trees was like a cathedral of tranquil homage. Full, rose hues tiers stretched into a steady smile as questions billowed within her mind. Was there an event? Light eyes fell downward, allowing heavy lashes to obscure her vision while she acknowledged the snow beneath.

Karina was moving at top speed, not because she was in any particular hurry but because it was cold out. Her oversized wool coat wasn't exactly water repellant, nor was it thick enough to provide much extra warmth to her thin frame. And as the snow drifted down steadily, dampening that sensitive line of exposed skin on her neck she shivered and crunched quickly towards the cottage. Her hands were shoved firmly into her pockets, so she didn't wave to those already gathered there but instead offered a red-cheeked grin and nod as her curls bobbed beneath her knitted wool cap. Beneath her long coat she wore a dark green woolen dress, another cast-off from Vanessa, and beneath that, fraying tights and her usual sturdy work boots. Thankfully these lacked holes so her socks, at least, remained dry in the snow.

He had been tempted to scoop up some snow to form into a ball and throw at Karina but ... she looked too cold to even tease. "Looks like you could use a scarf and is that cloak warm enough?" Like big brother chiding her already but lucky for her he noticed another lass making her way up the path. "Good evening to you." With a glance towards Vanessa wondering if maybe she knew the one. After all, it was her place of business and living.

She had boots! Her attention solely set to Segan for a moment with a nod. "Wonderful. I hope Eion is looking forward to his role as Santa." Seemed like such a fun role. She hoped maybe it would lighten his spirits some. Attention followed Segan's to Karina who was greeted with a smile and a wave. "Ave, Karina. What are you doing out here so late?" Curious what would bring her to the gardens. Benji finished up with what he was doing and excused himself to run home from the cold. Vanessa gave him a wave as well then turned to the woman wandering their way with a smile. "Ave miss." Called to Diana.

"Warm enough," she answered Segan more or less truthfully. She wasn't about to die of the cold and she'd been far more uncomfortable before. She shifted from foot to foot as she beamed a smile towards Diana, a stranger to her, then turned back towards Vanessa. "Just wanted to check on Thomas - errr, one of the kestrels, he was lookin' a bit peaky earlier. And to see if ya needed any help with decorating." Actually she just hadn't been able to sleep. Thus the fewer-than-necessary clothing layers, she'd more or less rolled out of bed and pulled her coat on without stopping to think about it.

Her eyes were heavy but nonetheless she was in quite a contented mood. The lightly dance of the snow.. The arrangements of lights.. All contributed to her eager intrigue of the season that was upon them. Then, as blues gradually lifted from the ivory crystals she noticed eyes upon her and smiles of pure welcome. Thin manicured brows pinched together as her own vibrant smile was issued to the trio. "Good evening everyone." Her voice was gentle and perhaps motherly. "Such a beautiful arrangement." She looked from their attractive faces to favor the lights. "My name is Diana." Only then would she stare back at them. "To what event do I have the honor of entering upon?" Oh she just loved a gathering of friends and family.

Vanessa had boots but how high were those boots? Anklet types, just above, calves or all the way up to her knees? He was trying to see, gauge, which was a challenge with her cloak on. So he moved closer to clasp a fold with a gloved hand to lift up some. Would he get away with it? "Warm enough is not enough for what will be coming," answering Karina at the same time. He wasn't really nagging her as she'd hear the concern in his voice. There was a reason to his seeming madness. As the newcomer spoke up, he paid attention there as a smile brought a dimple. "Evening Diana, I'm Segan. This is Vanessa and here is Karina. Vanessa can explain the decorations." Leaving it to her for certainly most further questions would be for her to answer.

Vanessa's attention went to Segan as he started prying to the height of her boots. Watching a moment as he reached for her coat and layers of skirts beneath before she swatted playfully at his hand. "What on earth are you doing?" Laughing lightly and attention of golden hue went to Diana as introductions were given. Segan would find that they were not ankle high boots. Not sure if he'd dare look to find them just below the knee. "We are decorating to celebrate Yule for the children of Heathfield and those that are brought from friendly lands. Santa will be here to take their Yule wishes with him back to the north pole."

Karina bobbed another nod to Diana at the introduction, about to part her lips to answer... but instead, she ended up giving Segan a somewhat confused stare, as he pawed at Vanessa's cloak. That sharp sea-green gaze moved between Segan and Vanessa before she answered the Quinn male. "Why... is there supposed to be worse weather coming?" She asked it but her interest had suddenly moved onto other topics. That penetrating look still moving between the two of them, Segan and Vanessa. Out here together, late at night, in the snow.... 'decorating' was it? Karina's eyes narrowed just slightly as she tried to read body language. Curiosity killed the cat so they say.

Hearts of purity.. That was the emotion that emanated from her new found friends. Vanessa was doing all this for the children? "I could think of no greater idea than this. The holidays are magical." She nodded and issued to the woman absolute favor.. Then she eyed Segan as he playfully toyed with the woman's coat. That smile of hers could not be withheld. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

They were extending further than ankle and calve so he dropped the fold of cloak with a laugh as she swatted him too. "I was just making sure. The snow gets deep in the coming months." Which answered Karina too. "I would not care for those I care about to freeze any parts off if it can be avoided." There was a saying about curiosity and the cat, that satisfaction brought him back. "This is the time I can help, and now you have two more sets of hands offered, Vanessa. Put us to work!" Big grin spreading as he wondered what still needed to be done. "Have you done all this by yourself or the lad I saw leaving ... tell me he at least helped.."

"The celebration is for us all, the magic is for the children. They should never lose the magic of their hopes and dreams." Vanessa adored children and this holiday was more for them than for anyone else. She smiled to Segan before drifting a look around the gardens, to which only the groundwork (quite literally) had been finished. "Benji helped me with all of this. We still have all the trees and the cottage to decorate but I wouldn't wish anyone on a ladder at this hour of evening."

"Hrmm." Karina said it aloud but to nobody in particular, staring between them both. Finally though she relented, giving a rather surprised glance to the newcomer. Odd, that a stranger just happening upon them would offer to help so readily. A slight shrug to herself and then she spoke, "Aye, put me to work an' keep me busy to stay warm. But I'm gonna go check on Thomas, I'll be right back." And she'd mince off in the direction of the flight cages, specifically the one that housed her beloved kestrels. She helped to look after all of the birds but those small falcons had become her favorites.


Head gave a small tilt while slender arms gave rise to lace along the busty slope of her chest as she patiently listened to everyone. She was slightly chilled but it was a welcoming sensation.. Then again she was not one to complain. "I'm sure the ladder is sturdy enough" Always the optimistic type. When Karina spoke of checking on Thomas she nodded. "It was very nice meeting you" Then she turned her attention upon Segan and Vanessa. "I would climb and hang the lights" Her smile was hesitant.. Nearly experiencing the vibe of awkwardness from them.. A stranger comes from nowhere and wishes to offer not only aide but friendship as well. "Movement will indeed be good for us." Small hands casually rubbed along her forearms as she stepped closer.

If Segan didn't know Karina fairly well, he could wonder why she was staring at him, or was it Vanessa? Or just in general but the lass tended to do such things for no seeming particular reason. "I think her Thomas may have chosen her," more mussed under his breath that Vanessa would hear as Karina took off. She might well be claimed by one of her beloved kestrels. "I can climb a ladder at night, I've good night vision and it isn't any riskier for me. Where's the ladder and the that which I need to string up along the roof's edge?" She would need to direct him, give him the equipment and means. "And we have another volunteer." As Diana offered her help too.

Brow arched slightly as Karina took off to check on Thomas, giving Segan a nod in agreement. "Aye. That might very well be true." Smiling to him. "I'd noticed when Karina is around Thomas takes very well to her." Diana's offer also gained a smile. "That's most kind of you, Diana. The more the merrier, I suppose." She motioned towards where Karina had wandered, to the flight cages. "They too will be decorated. Perhaps you'd care to start there? It's a bit warmer with the spires inside with the birds." Heating spires to keep them warm from the winter cold. "I'll bring a couple crates over." Then to Segan with a glance to the cottage. Not keen on the idea of anyone on a ladder at this hour, though she had a feeling she wasn't going to talk him out of it. "Crates are there against the back wall of the cottage. If you get up there, I'll help feed some of the lines to you."

When Vanessa gave her direction Diana smiled and quickly moved over to the flight cage and began the decoration of the beautiful lights. She was very glad to help and as each string was placed she began to hum a cheery tune. Oh the children will just love this! She was certain of it.

He went to get the crates to stack near where he brought the ladder in easy reach. "I'm ready," being she could feed the string of lights and he found tacks to use to hold them in place. He would string a section then be down to move the ladder and crates as needed.

Watching Diana, she went to get a couple crates of lights to take to her. "Alright. I'll be right there." The crates taken over to the cage that Diana currently worked on with a smile to the woman. "Your help is very much appreciated, Diana. Thank you." The crates set down. "If you need anything, let me know." Then back towards the cottage to help feed lines to Segan. "With all of this help, decorating will not take long at all."

Karina had latched the door of the large cage behind her, so that it would not swing open and accidentally release one of its residents. When she stepped inside, the skittish birds characteristically took wing, but soon settled down to her familiar voice. She greeted each of them in turn then advanced with slow, deliberate steps towards Thomas, whom she'd noticed earlier was losing feathers around his neck. Probably just a random abnormality but she wanted to make sure he didn't seem to be feeling badly. She stretched out a hand towards the kestrel and he nibbled at it, as if hoping for a treat but sidestepped quickly. Karina hadn't tried to get him onto a glove yet but every day he let her get a little bit closer.

He was up the ladder by the time she got back over with the one end to tack into place then as much as he could down the way before he would need to move the ladder.

If there were anything seriously wrong with the kestral, Vanessa would know. She checked on them at least three times a day, more if it's really cold. Now and then she glanced over in her way while following along with Segan,
feeding him line and making sure it was tangled.

It went pretty smoothly but he could see from this distance. "I think we lost the help of the lass." As he noticed all had been abandoned. Maybe it had been too much, too cold? He could make out Karina as a shadow moving inside the one cage as he tacked in the last of this side of the house. "Do you plan to just do the front of the house?" Or did she plan to do the sides and even the back. Climbing back down as he asked.

It was more Karina worrying because she didn't know as much about the birds, and because she'd grown rather attached to this one. She spent a few minutes in the flight cage, talking softly to Thomas and the other falcons, inspecting him as well as she could without talking. Eventually though she reassured herself that he was fine, maybe had just been scratching himself in the neck area a bunch. So she bade her feathery friends a farewell and let herself out of the cage. Frozen fingers were shoved back into her pockets as she headed back to the others. "Looks like we lost that other lady," she observed just as Segan had. "What else can I help out with?"

"Hm?" Looking back towards the cages. "It would seem so." Odd, but that was alright. "I think I should do all sides visible from the gar..." Hm... "Perhaps just do the whole cottage." Seemed simpler that way. Much of it showed with the gardens around. A smile given to Karina as she approached. "There's some hot cider on the stove if you'd like to have some. I'm about to drag Segan down to have some. No sense in all of us becoming icicles."

Now that they were all settled into their home and had things arranged in the shop without a formal name, Zira decided to force Set away from his studies for an evening. They'd received word that Vanessa was holding some event for the children and wanted to see it, and they owed her thanks for the pair of birds she'd given them as a warm welcome. Promise was hitched to a small wagon and Set conned into driving, it was cold with fresh fallen snow to dust everything. Their favorite weather. "Should be interesting to see if she's started decorating for this event she plans."

He had left grateful for the previous meal of stew and tea, and now, he had come back to see how things were going with the decorations. But now scents of others had caught his attention, and he hesitates outside of the gates of the gardens, and then slowly makes his way inside. Once more the cloak covered his form, moving with an unnatural grace as he moved over the snowy ground. The lights were on inside of the cottage, and he would slowly begin to move towards a window. He wondered how the celebrations were going, even if he didn't believe in the same things that the others did.

"Knowing her... It's been done for months." He laughed lightly as he pressed up against Zira... Yea the nip was his favorite weather alright! Reins in hand, he really didn't have to steer Promise too much, he was a rather easy horse to get along with. . "You know... I should get out more often..." He said in a curious tone as those brilliant blue eyes wandered about. "I'm starting to forget what the world looks like." He laughed lightly. Poor man had buried himself in studies for the past few weeks. This would be a welcome change of pace.

Date: 11-26-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 15

"We can get the cages done after the cottage," as he hefted the ladder down around to the side. "Evening," noticing the one coming up to look in one of the windows. Once the ladder was in place, he was over to bring one of the crates. A wave to Zira and Set as they were on their way in as well. "We have a party!"

"Anything hot sounds good" She agreed willingly, smiling through chattering teeth. Or trying to! The cottage was really starting to look nice, she had to admit. A party... she glanced around, noticing more people wandering in. "This place is popular at odd hours...." She commented to Vanessa with a wry smirk.

He was called to, and now he looks towards the one calling to him with a nod, keeping the cloak around himself as he moves to come closer towards the man a little, and notices Vanessa there as well finishing up the decorating for the time being. "Good evening." His voice was soft, and he looks out from under the hood to see that the decorations were almost complete. "Thossse are lovely."

She looked up at Segan. "You intend to do all that tonight?" Not if she had any say about it. Smirk returned to Karina with a nod. "It would seem so. I hadn't expected anyone at this hour." Her attention drawn to Vin, a smile given to him in greeting. "Ave, Vin. It's coming along quite nicely thanks to all the help I have received." Still much to be done, but progress was being made. "Vin, this is Segan and that's Karina." Motioning to her...or the cottage door where ever she'd gone to, then a wave given to Zira and Set as they made their approach.

"Then I will have to drag you from your studies kicking and screaming more often." Her arm wrapped around his with a kiss planted on his cheek. A hand rose to return the wave to those who were greeting them. "Look, a party." Pointing to the gathering.

Now he was introduced to some others, and would bow his head some. "A pleasure to meet you both." Then he would remain silent, hanging back out of the way as he watches them continue with the decorating. It did seem like fun to do. But now other voices had caught Vin's attention and he turns to silently watch the approaching others.

The kiss had him smiling, a smile that would transfer over to the other who had gathered and for good measure a wave would be added in. "Well I wouldn't exactly say I was kicking and screaming.... You make it seem as if I'm some sort of creature who would rather lay hidden." And of course being as close to Zira as he was at the moment... He'd poke her side with a grin. That would teach her to call him names!


"Hi." Karina greeted Vin simply with a hapless little wave, before returning her hand quickly to its pocket. The man was a little strange-looking but then, many people around these parts were.

"I think finishing up the one side will do for tonight then the hot drink offered!" He would make quick work of it but get this part done before he was down. Sidhe in his blood, he was resilient to a few things including weather. "Well met Vin." As he was back down upon ground to move the ladder than up again for more line feed.

One side worked well enough. There was still plenty of time and plenty of people helping for this evening. "Karina, would get mugs from the cabinet for everyone? They're above the wash bin. Please." She continued moving along with Segan to feed the line to him while watching Set and Zira approach. "You can park the wagon where ever you wish. Don't crush the lights though."

Leaning off just slightly, she looked to Set with perk of her brow, batting at his hand playfully. "Aren't you?" Keen smile, she got up and hopped down as the carriage was pulled to a halt, before he could retaliate against her any way shape or form. Ever dressed in black, she looked at Set and blew him a kiss before going off to greet Vanessa with a hug. "It looks wonderful! Are you going to come decorate the cottage as well?" Teasing, of course.

"Mugs? Oh... uh...." She meant going inside the cottage, didn't she. Karina glanced at the door then back to Vanessa, but already she was busy again with the lights. She hated to tread inside another person's house but nevertheless, she finally worked around to opening the door. Then she spent about a full minute wiping her feet off on the threshold before stepping gingerly inside, and looking about for the cabinet and or washbin.


"That would be lovely if you did so, you did a oh so wonderful job Vanessa!" He said adding in to what Zira said, taking a moment ot park the carriage and then following behind Zira. How sweet of the husband and wife to be to wear similar clothing. Like her, he was dressed down in black as well. "Always a pleasure." Greeting to Van given with a playful hip bump to Zira. her words hadn't escaped him.

Eventually she found the cabinet Vanessa had mentioned, and reaching up, stood on her toes to grab some mugs. One at a time, each placed down on the counter before she would reach for the next. It wouldn't do to break one of them.

Once he saw the girl going inside for mugs, he would nod to the ones that greeted him in turn and moves to settle himself down on the nearest bench. Many were coming here tonight, and he wondered if maybe he would be welcome or not. But they were welcoming so far, so perhaps things wouldn't be so bad.

The hug was returned with a smile to her friends. "Thank you, and no. One yard and house is more than enough. What brings you out here?" A glance around, she motioned to Vin. "Zira, Set this is Vin. Vin, this is Zira and her soon to be, Setsuna."

Smirk to the hip bump before wrapping her arm around Set's again. "A pleasure to meet you, Vin." "I had to get my moon man out of the house for a while, and where better to come than to see our friend?"

"A pleasssure asss well." The lisp, the damn lisp! But now he was seated, and soon the hood would be pulled from his head, revealing tanned flesh on a smooth face. Black, curled hair hung down to his shoulders as he watches the others. They were all so friendly here.

Back down again, he was busy putting everything away until the next time it was needed. Not good to leave such out and about. Once done he was back with a wary eye on the work he had done. "It isn't crooked is it?"

"Well, I'm glad you came by." About to say more, she turned to Segan then looked up at what he'd managed so far. "I think it looks perfect. Now I say we all go inside for some warm cider and good company."

"Nice to meet you." Polite bow of his head offered up before he went on. "Yes I needed to be dragged out of the cottage before I lost my mind. The terrors you gave to us are quite frankly destroying everything and have pooped on me several times... I had no idea you hated me so much." Of course he was just picking on Van as always. The love birds were simply a delightful addition to their family.

"Not as crooked as yer nose." She piped up as she came back through the door, a wide teasing smirk given to Segan. Only kidding, of course! Segan had a very nice nose she had to say. "Mugs are out," she added to Vanessa as it seemed everyone was getting ready to go inside.

Slightly wide-eyed to Set's response, it took her a moment to catch on before she started laughing. What a clown. She shook her head and pointed to Zira. "Don't blame me. That's what she asked for." Laughing died down some, she scooted away from Zira with a grin to Karina. "Thank you, Karina. Are you going to join us? What about you, Vin? Care for some warm cider?"

Which had brows up and eyes going cross in a comical way. "My nose is crooked?" Even a nasal sound to it before eyes righted and a laugh followed.

Zira swatted first at Set then jaw dropped to Vanessa's reply. "You weren't supposed to tell him!" Bright green eyes went to Set innocently. "I never said anything like that to her."

"Cider sssoundsss wonderful, especially being warm." A nod given, and he smiles. His eyes had a golden color to them, the pupils slitted as he regards Vanessa with a nod, slowly moving to get himself up from the bench.

Vanessa disappeared into the cottage with a snicker. First she had to find one more chair to put around the table in the kitchen, then she went to fill mugs with cider from the stove while the others were all hopefully making their
way inside.

"Not as crooked as it could be, and let that be a warning to ya's." She grinned to Segan but hung back at the threshold as the others began to file inside. Karina had also stoked up the fire in the hearth to get some extra warmth going.

"The truth is out I see my love.. No worries... Sleep with one eyeeee opeeeen." The last part said in spooky overtones while ducking out of the swats range. Yes he was a clown at heart and quick to act the fool for a laugh.

He was in, and into the kitchen as he happened to know where it was. He would wait until the ladies found a seat and even wait with a hand on the back of Vanessa's chair, for her when she was ready to sit and join them. Only then would he take his seat.

Chuckling at the antics of the others, he would allow them to move into the cottage first before he came in, bringing up the rear. The warmth and company reminded him of his homeland, when they would get together for their one and only celebration. But perhaps he could give their Yule celebration a try.

Eyes narrowed at Setsuna. "That's fine. I'm going to tell Oni when we get home how mean you were to me." Yeah.. because Oni was going to do something about it beyond slinking around Set's ankles. Into the cottage! Dragging Set along with her.

Vanessa was laughing at Set and Zira as she filled mugs and brought them over to the table to set out for everyone. "I'm so happy to have you all here tonight." So much for a quiet night at home. She was glad for the company though. "Have a seat everyone, and get warm." Light pat to Segan's upper arm. "That includes you, Mr. Quinn."

As the mugs were delivered and the request made, a slow grin followed as blue eyes met hers. "Your wish.." not saying the rest as the spark of humor lit his eyes. Almost a dare but he soon sat with the others.

"Uhh.... actually, I think I'm gonna get goin'." Karina was still hanging back at the door, one hand on the doorframe as she leaned there somewhat awkwardly. She glanced between the others gathered so comfortably inside. "Thanks anyways, though, you know, for the cider and all..."

"It will warm you up Karina, before you head back." Curious stare her way this time as she stood what appeared to be awkward at the door. She had not been awkward up until now.

Brow went up, she looked at Karina curiously, but gave a nod. "Alright. Well, you're welcome to take a mug with you if you want, to keep you warm for the walk?" She wondered if there was something upsetting Karina.

Looking to the one known as Karina curiously as well, he would settle himself at another empty spot of the table, the form below him curling around the chair gently while the cloak hid most of the actions. Was it his presence that made her uneasy? It wouldn't be the first time, either way.

"I just, uh...." She lingered there still for the warmth of the indoors, and the idea of hot cider was nothing less than tantalizing. It was difficult to explain just what was bugging her without going into all sorts of life history that frankly, she wasn't about to share. Again she glanced between them, to Segan at his words, then finally latching her gaze upon Vanessa. "You don't mind, really?"

"We haven't bitten you yet, I think you could warm up for five minutes before you leave?" Encouraging her for she seemed not to really wish to leave.

"My love you know as well as I do... That Oni will cuddle with me anyhow." And with that, he took hold of Zira's arm and lead the way around the cottage to admire Van's hard work.

A glance passed between Segan and Karina, finally resting on Karina. "Of course not. You're as much a welcome friend here as anyone else we are in company with." Over to the door, she looped an arm around Karina's and brought her over to one of the empty chairs. "Sit and keep us company." A warm smile offered to Karina. "I have a mug of cider waiting for you."

She smirked to Set and gave a nod. "Aye, and you both can snuggle on the couch." Wink given to him, she walked with him to a pair of seats to seat themselves and took up a mug. "Thank you, Van. This is wonderful."

"Errr... okay." She gave a tentative smile but could hardly protest further when Vanessa physically took hold of her arm. It was a gentle touch but enough to guide her fully inwards, the door shut against the cold behind her. Karina sat in the chair she was brought to, shook back the too-long sleeves of her coat then reached for her mug. Fingers wrapping around the warm ceramic as she glanced up to give Van a look of genuine gratitude. "Thanks." Cue crooked smile.

Seat taken as well, he'd claim his mug and settle in. " Very much so. If I had half a mind to tear myself from my studies, this is what I'd hope our cottage to look like... Couch and all." Since apparently him and the cat had been banished to it.

"How is Thomas?" Addressed to Karina as he'd been watching her the while she came to join them finally. Pleased that she had and whatever that worry or wary look that was there seemed to disappear. Mug was lifted for a careful drink of the steaming brew. Smelled like apple pie when warmed up like this.

Karina received a light squeeze to her shoulder before Vanessa picked up her own mug from the table with a smile to Set. "It's still fairly bare, but comfortable. I'm so glad you all came by tonight." Smile to Segan with a quick wink and smile to Vin. "Nice to see you've come back as well. Despite your lacking care for the cold?"

The cider was warm, and pleasant to him as far as taste. It was good the girl had decided to stay, and now looking to Vanessa he would shrug a little. Tanned hands remaining around his own mug. "My kind asss well asss myself are not fond of the cold. It ssslows us down greatly. If I were sssmarter I would have migrated with them, but I chossse to stay behind."

Zira wrinkled her nose to Set and picked up her mug as well. "It looks wonderful, Van. It's very cozy here." She enjoyed coming to Vanessa's cottage. It had a very welcoming feel to it. Brilliant green eyes turned to Vin curiously. "Where are you from?"

In truth Karina was still feeling pretty tense about being here, but the warmth of the cider and normal conversation would soothe that feeling in time. Though she did perk up as Segan brought up the kestrel. "Oh, he's fine I think, just been scratchin' at himself. He let me touch his beak, just barely," she added with quiet pride.

He turns his attention to the one called Zira. "I come from landsss many daysss journey from here. We are not without our ssseasons and we tend to migrate further sssouth. But I am one to alwaysss explore new places, cultures, and peoples."

"He could be molting, cold weather setting in but there is heat," so not the normal cycle of things. He was curious as to Vin and his heritage certainly not human though partially by appearances.

Zira gave a nod after sipping from her cider. "Interesting. Is that what brought you here?" Slight lean taken towards Set with a smile to him, then back to Vin.

Lean taken against the counter, she listened to them all and smiled towards Karina. "Karina, you should work more with Thomas. When you can call him to your glove, you're welcome to take him home." Seemed like no one from Eldyn liked the cold! What a bunch of hum-bugs.



Date: 11-26-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 16

For the most part he was simply quiet, sipping from his mug as he too listen to Vin. Much like him, he was much for traveling and such.. And much like Vin, he wasn't a fan of the cold.

"Oh...nah, I couldn't." She smiled but gave her head (and wild bronze curls) a shake. "Alex tolerates Amergin well enough but I don't know 'bout a bird, and besides..." She gave a shrug and took a sip of cider.

"Molting?" Turning his attention briefly to Segan, he shakes his head. "We only do that once per year, more towards the sssummer time." Then nodding to Zira. "I happened upon thessse lands, and found Vanessa'sss home. A very welcoming woman she isss." Now sipping more of the cider. The taste was beginning to grow on him already.


"..He wouldn't be happy in that little room. He needs room to fly." She concluded but not without a strange look towards the man with the lisp. 'We'?

She shook her head to Karina. "You'll have to accept him as yours because he's accepted you as his own. He won't take to another. And you can leave him here if need be for the time being."

Well, there was a tidbit of information then again snakes shed their skins as they grew. He cleared his throat, "I was speaking on the kestral that Karina is concerned on. Though, thanks for the interesting bit of information." Sweeping a smile at the last.


Hm...that was interesting. She smiled though. "Vanessa has a heart of gold." No doubt about that. Since Set had gone so quiet, she gave him a little nudge with her elbow.

Oh, the comment wasn't directed at him? He needed to pay more attention. Just simply nodding for now towards all of them as he finishes off his mug of cider.

And the nudge was replied to with a growl. Playful of course. "I hope that the weather doesn't beat down on upon you to much... Taking me sometime to get use to it myself."

"Meh...hush you two." Smile hidden by the mug when she took another drink as she watched the others. Her attention went to Set and Zira. "Have you two set a date for you wedding yet?"

Karina blinked a couple of times as Vanessa spoke so confidently on Thomas 'accepting' her. Was that really the case? It silenced her for a moment of thought as the conversation continued around her.

Click of her tongue in response to Set before looking over to Vanessa. "Ask the moonman. He wants a wedding near the water. I want a winter wedding." Snickering quietly with a side long glance to Set.

"Fine fine fine... Zira my love wed me now. We have enough guests." He said in a dramatic voice, another joke from the moon man it would seem. "I was just hoping for a beautiful spring wedding but honestly... What ever my love wants."

"" It seemed he was curious about that as well. He had heard of it through his travels, but never witnessed one himself. Tilting his head curiously. "That isss a ceremonial mating ritual among humansss?"

And Karina almost choked on her cider. Laughing.

"A wedding on ice," more mussed to himself but obviously he was listening to the conversation. A smile crept up hearing Vin and oh what a grin it turned into. "Some customs of weddings would be considered so."


She looked at Set and snickered softly, then laughed to Karina's response. Vanessa picked up a small kitchen towel and tossed it at Segan, laughing still. "Behave yourself."

Zira just shook her head. "We'll never decide because I want him to help pick." She looked to Vin with a nod, laughing quietly. "Yes, it is. More than just humans, but in variations."

Cough splutter. She was okay, really! And grinning as she wiped her lips off. "Aye, or at least a good excuse for the mating part after." Oops. She'd forgotten again to watch her tongue and nearly clapped a hand over her mouth.

"I sssee." He did not understand what was so funny...he was being sincere in his questioning. Though obviously he hadn't been among humans for too long as of yet to understand their jokes and such. Now looking to Karina and believing her to be choking...until she spoke. Good thing he didn't have to deliver the anti-choking maneuver.

Slanting a glance to Karina but she was street wise, "it use to be traditional that the parents would be in the room to witness that the union be completed." Guess the thrown towel didn't work as he caught it, balled it up and threw it back.

Another shake of her head. "Don't mind them, Vin. There's more to it than just the mating part of things."

Oh heavens. She caught the towel and threw it back at him, kind of wide eyed at what he said, but decided to leave it alone.

She relaxed again when nobody seemed too offended, and wrinkled her nose up at Segan. "Ugh. That's a horrible tradition." Then a snicker at the antics between Segan and Vanessa. It only added fuel to the fire of her latest theory!

Nodding to Zira, he would push his cup away now that it was empty, giving a bit of a hissing chuckle at the hatchling-like antics of the hostess and the male Segan.

"I agree. Wont happen in my lifetime to me." Amazing what some traditions were. He had caught the towel up but this time let it come to rest on the table, half folded over.

Her mug set down, she smiled to Vin. "Would you like some more cider, Vin." Don't worry, she had plenty of other things to throw at Segan.

"Nor me." Emphatically stated.

"Ok how about we plot out sometime after the holidays so there is nothing to compete with our magical moment." See he was helping!

"If you would not mind missss Vanessa, thank you." Nodding to her with a smile. Now he would silently listen to the others around him speaking of the holidays and wedding plans. Human traditions were...complicated.


She took up the empty mug and went to the stove to refill it then brought it back to Vin. "Would anyone else like more cider?"

Yes, he was helping. She leaned over and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. "Sounds perfect."

He was going to hold out to when she had nothing left to throw at him but herself!

Hopefully their parents wouldn't be there when that happened...

If that's what he wants, all he would have to do is say so! parents. That would be weird considering she only has her two dads.

Karina had finished her mug off quickly to warm herself up, and glanced down into it before speaking up to Vanessa. "Uh... I'll take more, only if there's plenty left? Please."

Both of his parents were dead and Grandmama would have to fill in along with his Aunt Chandra? It would get too kinky.


"Well... Then it is decided." He said with a sturdy nod. Wow it was set in stone just about. That was exciting.

"Of course." Smiling to Karina, she took the empty mug for a refill and brought it back to her. "Are you still going to join us for getting a Christmas tree after the giving holiday is over?" Still had to do that for the cottage. Hopefully Segan and Eion were still joining for that as well.

"We have to pick a date, but that gives us plenty of time to decide on one. I'm sure we can find somewhere warm to hold the wedding and the celebration after."

Karina had almost forgotten about that! "Oh, aye. I'd like to. I did promise to help haul it," she added with a little grin.

They would have a tree inside of the home? Another human tradition that confused him. But he would drink his newly refilled cider, allowing the warmth to move through him.

"Wonderful!" Smile went from Karina to Segan. "And what of you?"

Vin might be getting overkill in information. He would probably have to assemble it into coherent notes later on. Segan had gone quiet in relaxing and would have some more of the cider but he would see to his own so that Vanessa could enjoy herself.

"Well then, looks like we a fun time ahead of us my love." Head would be laid upon her shoulder. Le sip. That was him drinking of course.

"That we do." Smirking, she laid her head on his watching the others now. "Seems everyone is looking forward to the holidays. It's nice to see."

"Course he is." She answered for Segan, since he seemed to have gone off into a daze. "He wouldn't miss a chance to show off his manly tree-hacking skills."

"Vanessssa hasss told me of this Yule holiday. It sssoundsss rather pleasant." Speaking up a bit, and wondering if he could use the others to gain more insight into the holidays.

Well, since Segan was seeing to his own drink, she returned to her lean against the counter with a small laugh to Karina's answering for Segan. "Couldn't miss that."

She tilted her head enough to look at Vin. "Most of the holidays are pleasant. This one is just..warm though. Warms the heart."

In all the conversations, he had missed that bit. "Aye, I will be there as I offered and anyone else who wishes to come along."

"Maybe can play the part up of gift givers... I suspect it wouldn't be fairly hard between the both of us to come up with gifts." And by that, he meant the abuse... Err, the use of their unique crafts. How oddly festive of him.

"Esspecially those of the children, who will be seeing the fable Sssanta Clawsss. Though I would hope his clawsss wouldn't hurt the young onesss."

Vanessa nodded to Segan then quickly pointed to Karina. "You'll have to speak with her for gifts. She's in charge of that."

Confused for a moment, she looked at Vin before catching on. "He doesn't have claws.." A little smirk to that. "Claus is his last name. Santa Claus."

And Karina perked up a bit in her chair at the offer. "Aye, I'm gathering gifts for all the little'uns but I could always use the help, anything you could add to the pile..."

Wait until Vin found out there wasn't really a Santa Claus but others that dressed up as one. "So what does Karina want from Santa Claus this year?" Smirk was there..

"Oh...Ssso that isss a good thing then." Feeling satisfied about the explanation, he would look to Karina as the question was directed towards her.

Karina grinned a little, but shifted in her chair somewhat uncomfortably. She glanced between them without answer, til she finally said with a sheepish little smile. "Uh... someone's gonna have to explain this whole Santa Claus thing." She was just in the dark as the serpent-man on this one.

Comfortable lean against the counter while listening, she grinned toward Karina. "Children get to ask Santa for one Yule wish before Yule eve. He's the spirit of Yule for children, waiting to see what he brings them."

"We'd be glad to help with the toys. How many do you need?" Since Setsuna apparently zoned out. "Van, no more spiking his drinks." Snickering quietly.

"Oh can dress as elves too and help out that night." Bright smile given to the couple.

He was more than a little surprised that Karina didn't know about Santa Claus even if she didn't have much in her formative years growing up. It was just it was so wide spread or so he thought. Where the hell did she grow up? A question he may never learn the answer to but certainly this was a new twist.

"Elvesss? What do elvesss have to do with the Yule? If I remember right, they celebrate sssomething known as the Sssolstice."

"Elves..." Well.. Slap on the pointed ears and he could very well be a elf. He wasn't crazy about wearing that festive hat Santa's elves were known to wear. "We will talk on this."

"Elves?" What?...she just looked at Vanessa. "I don't dress in anything that's not black." She looked at Set like he was crazy.

Where'd she grow up? No place where kind strangers brought them Christmas gifts and festivities, that's for sure. To Vanessa's answer, she blinked then tapped her chin with a thoughtful smirk. "One wish, eh? That's gonna take some consideration..." Ha! She wished she had elves for this endeavor, then. Back over to Zira. "Oh, I dunno. I have a couple dozen gifts put together already, but there'll be over thirty kids..."

"It is believed that the Elves help Santa to magically make all the toys he would need to give every child in the world at least one."

"Not those kinds of elves." She laughed to Zira's response though. "You can't wear black to be a yule elf. You have to wear red or green."

"Nope. If it's not black I'm not wearing it. I have reputation to uphold as the mean witch in the web decorated cottage." A nod given to Karina. "Let us know. Or let Van know and she'll let us know."

"You could always wear a black arm band?" Trying to be helpful.



Date: 11-26-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 17

"Anything you can add would be a big help, really." She gave a nod and one of those rare genuine smiles of hers, before disappearing behind her mug of cider.
"A black armband?" She laughed some. "I don't wear color well. And I can't be a mean witch if I'm dressing like an elf."

"Does this Santa Claus have any witch friends she could dress up as?" Piped up curiously.

"I don't think so." Laughing. "I know who to come to for Halloween though."

"Aye! That's more like it. You can come to me for Halloween any time."

"I will remember that. Though there was a little something else I was hoping that perhaps you and Setsuna could help with for this Yule event."

"And what would that be?" Curious now, she finished her drink and set the mug on the table.

"Well then, that's not happening... From time to time when Zira is sleeping, I tie colorful bows in her hair and she catches a fit... She's a black kind of girl after all." Little chuckle given.


"Well, there's going to be a wagon ride to and from the cottage for the childr..." Pause to look at Set, she couldn't even finish, she was laughing too hard.

Karina swallowed her cider quickly to avoid a repeat of her choking fit earlier, and promptly burst into giggles at that imagery too.

Blink...she looked at Set and swatted at his arm. "You're not supposed to tell them that. Make me sound like some kind of colorful ... bowtie ...." Even she was trying not to laugh at that.

"Anyways..." Pause to get herself together. "There's a tree at the edge of the gardens that the children pass by before getting here. I was hoping one or both of you could perhaps create the illusion of passing from Heathfield to the North Pole."

He had never sat in on actual human conversations before, and was finding all of this fascinating. All of these people were different, and yet they could be in the same room together without getting into actual fights. This was unity in a kitchen. And this, Vin could understand. Slurp of the cider.

Kitchen are the heart of all homes!

"What's the North Pole?" Oh dear, she was really showing her ignorance now but she glanced between them curiously. Not knowing that this was something most everyone was aware of... just wanting to know more about this holiday that she was helping to make special for the kids.

He was laughing before he finished up his cider and was up again to bring it to the sink, placing it in there.

"I'm sure we can come up with something." A nod given, she and Set would see what could be made magically for something like that. "The North Pole is where Santa lives."

"That's what we're decorating the cottage and gardens to look like." Looking from the table to watch Segan with a small smile.

"Oh." She looked a little confused, in truth wondering if the North Pole really existed. Clearly Santa was a fairytale, but was his home based on a real place? Something to mull over herself, since she was now realizing just how in the dark she was about this compared to the others.

The night had gotten later than they anticipated. She looked over to Set. "Shall we make the ride home?"

"Yes we can come up with something surely." Hand taken in his he gave a squeeze. "Yes I suppose we should get going."

Lean was taken up from the counter, she walked to the other room for a moment and came back with a book, offering it to Karina. "Here. It's got all sorts of songs and stories about Santa." Maybe that would help. Then went back to her lean against the counter.

Instead of going back to the table, he leaned against the counter. Arms lifting to cross over his chest and just immensely enjoying the sight before him and how all got along, even the 'stranger' in this cottage fitted.

A nod given, she returned the squeeze and stood up. "I'm sure Promise has had enough of the wagon for the night." She smiled to Vanessa. "Thank you for having us. We will see you again soon. Segan, Karina it was good to see you and nice to meet you Vin." Over to Van to give her a hug.

"...Oh." She said again as she accepted the book. Glancing down at the cover, her cheeks became pigmented with deep crimson but she didn't say a word. In fact embarrassment prevented her from saying anything as she just ran a finger along the cover instead. A slight nod and half-smile given to the couple as they made to depart, they seemed like nice folks.

"It wasss very nice meeting the both of you asss w
ell." Giving a bow of his head to the both of them as he would watch them leave, and enjoy his cider.

"Zira, Set, it was good to see you both again. Safe travels and don't be strangers." He enjoyed their company and that would be obvious.

There were plenty of pictures in the book that explained what the text said. It was a children's book she was going to offer for the sleigh ride. The hug was returned to Zira with a smile. "Thank you for coming, and for your help." Set would get a hug whenever he got up.

"It has been a pleasure to have been in such good company this eve." polite bow of his head offered up, and the often clown of a man spared this moment to be rather quite calm and sincere." And of course he was up now and giving Van a hug. "Don't worry, I'll talk my dearest into the elf wear... And don't worry, I'll pry myself from the study more."

"We'll try not to." Smile to Segan, she took Set's arm to walk out with him, giving a wave to everyone. "He might get me into elf wear." Teasing.

She would see them both to the door. "You should, on both of those. Travel safe to Ballicastle."

"Sssafe travelsss." Waving to them both before slurping the rest of his cider. This one went down faster than his first cup. Now he felt blissfully warm.

"Travel safe we shall." And with that, both he and Zira where off, moving to the carriage to make their way home.

Maybe there were pictures but Karina hadn't even opened it past the cover to see. From her perspective, what would be the point? "Night," she added as the others left. Karina set the book down carefully on the table then rose, finishing off her mug and then moving to the washbasin to clean it out.

Vanessa closed the door after the couple stepped out. Always glad to see them. She didn't get to see them nearly enough.

He wondered if Karina would be leaving the book behind without even going through it after asking. He was probably in her way as he shifted up to move down a bit to make room.

Deciding not to be rude, he would get up from his chair now as well, uncurling from the legs before moving himself to the washbasin after Karina would vacate it so he would be able to wash his own mug as well. Some of his lower portion would be exposed from the cloak, a tail brown as mud, that twitched some along the floor.

"It was nice to have you all here. Thank you for coming by and offering your help." She hoped Karina would take the book. Even if just to look at the pictures.

"Ach, sorry." That said as she accidentally bumped Segan with her elbow. Glancing behind her as the stranger approached, she hurried to finish then moved down the counter to dry it off. Eventually it would be set back up into the cabinet carefully. "Thanks for the cider. And.. the book," she added with a glance towards where it sat on the table.

"You're welcome." She smiled to Karina. "I hope it keeps you warm all the way back to the inn." Referring to the cider, of course.

"owwwwwwwwww..." howled as a hand gripped his side like he was wounded by her elbow. "She sharpens those at night," teasing as anyone that picked up on the feel of things could tell.

That helped to lighten her mood and she gave Segan a sardonic smirk. "Sharpen 'em just for you," she teased right back. This time on her way to the table she purposely bumped up against him. Just their typical sibling-esque behavior.

He could tell the joke, and they were indeed like siblings, or where he was from, nestmates. Moving his attention to Vanessa, his head would bow. "Thank you for your hossspitality once more."

Snickering to the antics, she smiled to Vin. "You're most welcome. If you need a place to stay, perhaps Karina could show you to the inn. It's very comfortable there."

"See.. she admits it!" Grinning wide with a flash of a smile and dimple to follow before all settled back to normal. Which the bump got a swat of her rump then back peddled to Vanessa.

"That isss not necessary. I will be warm enough now to take to sleeping outssside." A smile on his features before looking to Segan and Karina. "The both of you are rather amusssing."

"Just wait 'til I get Thomas trained up a bit. He's got sharper bits than me," with a wicked grin to Segan. Glancing over to Vin she stared for a second (sleep in the snow?) then shrugged. "Suit yourself, but the rooms at the Inn are pretty warm and I'm sure Alex has extra space..."

"I don't know about that, I haven't seen all your bits to compare them to Thomas'." He was cruising but they were teasing.

"I am not sssure if he would allow a Naga within hisss establishment." This spoken to Karina.

She just snickered softly, and gave Segan a little nudge. "You two are quite amusing."

Jaw-drop and mock gasp! "Ooooooh you are askin' for it, buddy...." And she aimed a sucker-punch to his arm. Somewhere amidst the ruckus she glanced back to answer Vin. "Well I dunno nothin' about Nagas but Alex didn't ask anything 'bout me before givin' me a room. I'm sure he'd do the same for you."

"I think Alex has seen just about every kind of species. I would say as long as you come in peace, there is no problem. The Queen was married to an Avian type human and has two children with wings." He had done his homework.

"Really?" This land had just become even more intriguing to him. With a nod, he would move closer to where Karina was. "Then when you are ready to leave, I will go as well."

"Alex is a kind soul, he'd not turn anyone away as long as they came with good intentions." She moved out of the way of the sucker punch with a smirk.

Oh wait, he was suppose to feel that sucker punch as he belatedly grabbed his arm, albeit the wrong one. "I'm wounded, will you nurse me back to health, Vanessa?" Bringing her into the teasing.

"Of course I will. Then she can do it all over again." Snickered quietly to Segan with an affirming nod.

"Wrong arm, ye poor victim you." She rolled her eyes with a smirk towards Vanessa, then nodded to the self-proclaimed Naga.

"I believe missss Karina would win, ssshould it come to a real fight." Yes, side with the females! Now the cloak would be parted in the front, exposing most of his serpentine tail from the hips down. Then from the hips up, a naked human torso, deeply tanned skin stretched taut over muscles that seemed to make him look more lean, rather than buldgy.

"I see a vicious circle here, wait, I accept." Flashing Vanessa a smile before attention turned on Vin. "I'm pleased to have met you Vin and perhaps will be seeing you about the lands."

"Of course she would. She's got pointier elbows." Grin back to Karina, walking her and Vin to the door. "It was nice to see you again, Vin."

Smart man! Or.... serpent-man. She realized then what he meant by 'Naga'. She spent a moment gaping then closed her mouth. Just one more strange thing to add to her growing list. A grin flashed back to Vanessa as she edged closer to the table, carefully picked up the book as if it were made of finest china. "I'll bring this back to you soon," she promised.

Which he was to the door as well. "I should be getting back to the manor," or his ship, depending where his steps took him this night as he headed out.

"Asss it was nice to see you Vanessssa, and you asss well Segan." Giving a nod to the both of them, he would follow Karina out into the snow to go towards the inn. Her reaction wasn't anything he hadn't seen before.

"Take your time with it, Karina. Enjoy it. It has some wonderful stories in it." A wave given to Karina and Vin, then a smile to Segan with a nod. "Thank you for your help, and your company."

She just sort of nodded and smiled crookedly to that. "Night. And... thanks again." She added before following the others out the door. Brr, she'd forgotten how cold it was out! She quickly buttoned up her coat and tugged her hat on more snugly. Segan got a nudge of farewell. "Night to ya too."

"You've my help anytime possible and the company is always enjoyed." Half leaning against the frame as blue eyes held upon her then the nudge came bringing about a grin. "Good night Karina, keep warm." He was going to get her a scarf to have with her hat and coat. Keep her neck warm.

"I will have to take you up on that offer soon then." Smiling some to his grin from Karina's actions. She made such a good sister type.

"Goodnight to the both of you." He would wait for Karina, and continue to follow after her.

"I'll try!" The book was settled into one of her big pockets, her hands shoving into the pockets as well as she addressed Vin. "The Inn's this way, c'mon." Her words frank but not unfriendly. Yep, that was her... always the sister type!

He was out soon with a smile on his face as he headed into the cold. His ship his destination.



Date: 12-02-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 18

Nightly Stop

"I don't know...." She hesitated, following Vanessa's glance to the window and her eyes lingered there. She started to bite her lip but thought better of it when it hurt her gash worse. What if they did the unthinkable and track her down here? She took a shaky sip of tea from her mug. "I don't wanna drag you into this Vanessa." Her large eyes turned back over to her friend, mute with dread at that thought.

"Nonsense." Spoken with a tone of assurance. If it came down to it, and anyone came here to cause trouble, Vanessa would just make a big fire. She could do that. Privy to being part phoenix, though very few people knew that. "You can take up the extra room down here for the night, we'll have breakfast in the morning."

In the drifting snow, steadily coming down at this point, a figure emerged shadowed against white. One that was cloaked but on foot as he came up the lane, the lamplight illuminating some with the flight of white. He turned into the lane, drawing the gate open then swung close behind him as he headed for the cottage.

It took several seconds of hesitation longer before she finally nodded. Overwhelmed by exhaustion and all that had happened the night prior, she was more easily persuaded. A slow nod as she spoke simply. "Thanks, Vanessa."

All the lights and what not were still on. Vanessa kept them going for the Yule. "You're welcome." She smiled then heard the clack of the gate as it swung closed. Another guest? Tea was set down, she rose from her seat and went to the window next to the door to peek out and see who it was. Cloaked and all! Hard to tell. Though guessing by the build, she'd have to say it was Segan, and was smiling to herself.

Karina on the other hand jumped and almost spilled her tea. She held her breath as Vanessa rose and went to the window, feeling her heart hammer in her chest. She couldn't see her friend's face and Vanessa didn't say a word. Karina finally had to ask tensely, "Who is it?"

Soon the knock came upon the door, three taps then two more, so Vanessa would recognize them and not be worried to open her door. He was well bundled up against the wind and cold.

Hearing the knock, she smiled to Karina as she stepped to the door. "It is Segan." The door pulled open with a smile to him. "You two are daft for traveling around in this cold. Come in and warm yourself." Motioning to the fire in the den where Karina already was seated, she would close the door behind him once he was inside and offer to take his cloak.

Karina released her breath on a long sigh of relief, giving Segan half a glance over her shoulder and a crooked smile in greeting. She sat hunched on the edge of her chair still, cap snug on her head in her damp wool sweater and dress underneath. Probably she ought to take off the sweater to dry too alongside her coat but she didn't just yet. Instead she held her mug tightly in her still-cold fingers and took another sip.

He wasn't quite in through the door when cool lips met hers as he moved over the threshold. Something quickly stolen to warm them up although his were never really cold. He had not realized she had company and they were off to the small foyer out of sight a moment and a moment later not as he waved to Karina. "You look warm." Like nothing had happened even if his heart skipped a beat. More for Vanessa's sake than his. "Oh, I have something for you, Vanessa." Being she had liked the scarf he got Karina, there was one he was wearing under his cloak besides his own. This one was a deep green mohair, soft as could be and fuzzy too. Delicate but warm as once his cloak was off he might slide it from around his neck to hers.

Luckily Karina's glance was so fleeting that she didn't catch that kiss! Though it might have cheered her up a bit. At least she had Segan fooled, now if only her body would catch up and get warm too.

Surprised, but pleasantly so by the small kiss which was returned with a smile. And a blush! Brow quirked as he spoke of having something for her. "You didn't have to bring me anything." Though when the scarf was offered, she looked at it a moment and smiled, reaching out to pet it because it was fuzzy and soft!

If she was going to continue to pet it, "I think I might wear it for a while," words low with a wink before he stepped into the living area and towards the hearth. "Do you have a bit of warm brandy a man might warm himself up with?" Although he could think of better ways they would not be expressed in front of company. Even if there was not company he might get swatted.

Karina sensed that they would have liked some 'alone time' and regretted invading upon that. But she was just so chilled still that she couldn't move herself away from her planted spot by the hearth. She glanced again over to Segan then away, back down into her mug, keeping the side of her face turned away.

"I'm sure I have a bottle somewhere." Holding the tai of the scarf in her hand, she followed with a quiet laugh before letting go and veering off to the kitchen. She had to dig around for the small bottle, but eventually found it, picked up a mug and both were brought back out with a smile towards Karina. "Here you go, Segan." Her attention to him as she offered the glass and mug to him.

Karina had need not, tonight was not a good time for time alone for there was little left. More, he was stopping in to see how everything worked out from this morning. "How did the lights look to you?" As they could not be seen in full effect during daylight. "Thank you, I hope asking for brandy didn't put you out. Anything warm would have done well." It was just what came to mind as he took the glass and a drink to follow. The burn felt real good at the moment.

"Ask Karina. I've not yet been outside to look at them in the dark." They were all in full effect though. "Not at all. Now and then I need a reminder of where I put such things." Liquors were kept for company, but being that she did not drink, they didn't come out often. Her seat returned to, she picked up her tea. "Karina's going to stay the night and help me finish up my elf costume tonight."

Karina was more than happy to let them converse while she kept to her silence. The tea was growing lukewarm so she finished off the last sip, then set the mug carefully on the ground. Arms wrapping about herself as she let her eyes unfocus towards the fire. She didn't notice when Vanessa mentioned her name.

Turing to the unfocused Karina. "You look like you've been through the proverbial wringer." Which he knew her long enough to pick up on even the smaller nuances. Yes, he was keenly studying her.

Vanessa glanced over to Karina and gave her a little nudge since she was sitting close enough. Just a subtle one with a smile before leaning down to pick up her mug and going off to the kitchen with it for a refill.

"Hm?" The nudge roused her and she glanced to Van, then over to Segan. Realizing what he'd just said she gave a slight shrug. "Been a long night." Which had lasted from the moment she'd left the tavern last night. She probably looked as exhausted as she felt. And she forgot to keep her face angled away so Segan might see the cut that had split her lower lip and the swollen skin around it.

"Where you out all last night? You look exhausted." Words stalling as he got a good look at her bottom lip. "Who did you get into a fight with and I hope you left them looking worse." Not to assume it was a male, there were some pretty vicious women down the docks and such places if they thought another female was moving in on their territory.

Vanessa returned with a fresh mug of tea for Karina and offered it to her as she returned to her seat, keeping quiet as the two spoke.

She just shrugged to answer the question as vaguely as possible then gave her head a slight shake. "They just shoved me and run. Or else I woulda left them looking worse." She said darkly. Although by herself she probably couldn't have done much damage to those two big lads. "Ran." She corrected herself belatedly. A quirk of her lips in thanks to Vanessa as she took the new hot tea gratefully. "I thought I was done with all that." She added so quietly it might've even gone unheard.

"So did I." Which his words were quiet too. "You always had a knack for finding trouble but going out that late at night down there in particular you were looking for it. Maybe a little rebellion against your newer life to your old ways?" Which he could understand. Maybe feeling like others were changing her life for her and not her own choice so by doing so it showed she had her freedom to choose still.

"No." And now she did look at him directly with a scowl even and a little more punch in her words. "That's not why I went." She frowned a few seconds longer before she'd explain herself though. And when she did it was a mumble. "I went to find out why they're here. To try to get them to leave." She gave a short angry shake of her head. "It was stupid, I shoulda known better. I should've stayed away from them." Likely if she'd not gone straight up to them, they wouldn't have recognized her in her new get-up and they would've never crossed paths. But then they would have been able to go about their merry wicked way. And she couldn't countenance that. But then again what could she really do? Her jaw clenched again.

"Good," he was glad to hear that in fact. Although the last mumbled part drew more of a concern. "Who are they that need to leave? Are they still in the lands?"

"It doesn't matter. And maybe. Probably, I dunno." She gave another short shrug and then swallowed some tea. Slowly she was starting to warm up and all the aches and tiredness in her muscles was manifesting as a result.

Vanessa just sat quietly and listened while sipping down the rest of her tea. A glance given to both of them before looking back to the fire.

He knew when Karina was going to be stubborn and had met that crossroads when no more information was offered willingly. "Will you at least tell us if they come around to bother you again? I think maybe someone their own size to pick on will have them running with their tails tucked." He was probably keeping them up. Tempted to stay the night too but Karina might need an older sister type to comfort her better than he could. "I should probably get going so you two can get some sleep."

"I can handle myself." Segan knew her well; hello, crossroads. Her defensive tone relented slightly as she glanced back over to Segan and gave a half-smile. "But I'll let you know if I can't. Thanks." She didn't mean that for one second. She'd never involve her friends in this, but a little white lie like that couldn't hurt right?

Vanessa decided to use this chance to hopefully lighten the mood some. "Sleep? We're staying up all night to play with pins and needles and Christmas colored fabric." A smile given to them both, she set her empty mug aside and stuck her tongue out at Segan there.

"You will have pins and needles if you stay up all night working.." slow grin Vanessa's way as he let the other go. Didn't mean he had accepted she could take care of herself. She had a fat cut lip to prove otherwise. He would devise a way to find out. Depending on how many of them there were, well, he had brothers and they fought very well together. Though when Vanessa stuck out her tongue, "if you're going to be teasing me with that, you better know how to use it." Often said and so right now.

"I hope you mean that in a gentlemanly sorta way, Segan." Karina smirked a bit. She gave Vanessa a grateful look too, happy to let the darker subject matter pass for now. It was time to forget about it, at least til later, when likely it would arise in her pre-sleep dozing.

"It's not work when you have a friend around to help." An affirming nod to that with a smiling glance to Karina before looking back to Segan. "I think I use it just fine. I haven't choked yet." Smirk to follow. "I've received no complaints." Mumbled under her breath as she stood up with a bright smile. "Now, Mr. Quinn, it is time that you leave us ladies to a night of girl talk, sweet treats, pins and needles!" Before any sort of commentary could be made further about her tongue.

"Of course, in sparring I wont try biting it off." Which had him smirk right back Karina's way before sliding a glance back to Vanessa. He could say something, it was right there on the tip of his tongue but he might show her sometime instead. Perhaps it was the smile that was her only answer that might convey those thoughts. She was smart too, especially with him getting tired he might say more than he should and she'd have to take a broom to his hide. He'd love it too for he'd turn even that to his advantage. "I bid you ladies a good night," his brandy done as he set the glass to the table. A step back in a smooth bow before he was back to the door to collect his cloak and scarf.

"Ugh." Karina wrinkled her nose as if disgusted at the insinuations, but there was the faint beginnings of a grin about her lips too. "Night Segan." She watched him going to the door. Then looked over to Vanessa. "I'll just put me mug away." A significant glance from Vanessa, over to Segan, then back and she took herself out of the room and into the kitchen.

She smiled to Karina. "I'll be right there. If you're hungry, feel free to help yourself to whatever you can find." She turned to follow Segan to the front door and smiled to him. "You be safe and hurry to somewhere of warmth." She reached up to snag the scarf from him before he pulled his cloak on, and wrapped it around her neck. Smelled like him!

"Hey," but he was laughing as she confiscated his scarf too. "I'll be back for that," glancing up as they were alone and so he tugged on the ends to draw her in and up against him, wrapping them back behind her as first he nuzzled against her cheek. Lips grazing in tease over her nose and down her other cheek before nipping at her chin as it came beneath.

And Karina very quietly peeked around the kitchen door, grinning to herself at what she saw.

"Good. I hope you do come back for it." Drawn in close, she smiled up to him, resting her hands on his sides. Eyes closed to the little bits of affection and returned each kiss on the cheek to his. After a moment and the nip, she leaned back to look up at him. "You're supposed to nod and say ... yes, I will be careful and hurry home... " Then leaned up and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

He was coming in for the kill. Certainly she knew that as lips moved from the chin nipping to the lip claiming. Almost, she moved back but before he could respond lips were searing their claim. No, he didn't see Karina peeking. Peeping Karina! Lips so sweet he could devour them for hours but the hour was late and he needed to be mindful of that. Drawn away far too soon but as it should be. "I will be careful and hurry home." Mimicking in tease before he was heading out the door to do just that.

The smile was softening on her lips as she watched for just a moment longer. But she quickly moved out of sight and back into the kitchen as Segan turned to make his exit.

If he didn't see Karina, bet Vanessa didn't. Searing kiss was returned just as warm and left her somewhere between melting and having one of those foot popping moments. Ended far too quickly for her liking, but she smiled and took a small step back. "I certainly hope so. I will see you soon." Holding the door open for his exit and watching him as far as the gate before the door was closed and she turned to the kitchen with a sort of goofy, glowing smile thing going on.

Date: 12-07-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 19


Karina was surprised when Vanessa came out with that, but it brought a smile to her face, albeit a crooked one. "Really? Thought you woulda gotten sick of me by now." A little smirk as she took another sip of the warm liquid.

Vanessa shook her head and smiled to Karina. "Not at all. I really like having you here. Just makes it that much more cozy." She paused for a moment, thoughtful again and shifted her mug to one hand so she could dip the other into a pocket of her dress. "I'd like it if you stayed. Only if you want to, of course. It's not something I want you to feel forced into, so if you need time to think it over, I'll understand."

"Stay?" Karina's surprise a moment ago was nothing compared to the shock she experienced now. Looking at Vanessa blankly she just blinked for a moment. Slowly she lowered her mug as she found her voice. "Don't get me wrong... I've enjoyed being here, too. I really have." It was true. She'd never felt so safe, so surrounded by friends and as she'd felt it, cozy, than while living in the cottage. "But this place... it's your home. You have your whole life here and... I don't want to mess that up or intrude on it."

Concessa escaped the manor with all kinds of day dreaming thoughts on the upcoming ball and the fun they would all have with the children in a few days. She had the edited edition of the Mrs Claus outfit with her packaged up and tucked under her arm. The Quinn manor was not that far from the Avian Gardens and cottage where Vanessa stayed. She followed a well beaten path through the snow. How it was there had her grinning wickedly. Although it saved her from having to make a path, shortest route possible between. Once arriving and it was snowing again she knocked on her door and watched the flakes drift while she waited. She was all bundled up in a thick lined cloak of wool. Boots as well lined up to her knees, gloves, scarf and layered clothing beneath. She was watching her breath frost in little puffs for the light given off from the window.

She smiled and shook her head. "You're not intruding at all. And it's not beyond thought to share a life with a good friend. Your company makes the cottage warmer and less lonely." And Vanessa enjoyed it. It had a safer feeling to it, that whole thing about not being alone. She glanced to the door when she heard the knock and set the mug down, then was up to see who knocked. Hopefully it wasn't the woman on the horse again. Peek through the window, she smiled and opened the door. "Concessa. A pleasant surprise. Come in out of the cold."

She couldn't think of anything to say to that. Not because she didn't agree... more because she was touched that Vanessa would put it into words that way. But the conversation was put on pause momentarily when the knock to the door came. Hearing Concessa's name she perked up a bit, smiling as she waved in greeting from her seat by the hearth.

Her lips were trembling, teeth slightly chattering and her expending the excess energy by hopping from foot to foot by the time Vanessa opened the door. Not that it was actually any length of time but for one like Concessa, she got in a lot of motion in those few minutes. She was quick to come in out of the cold and even shared some of it by an impromptu hug while still half dancing to warm up. "Karrrrrrriiiinnnnnaaaa." Greeting her came in a cold slur slipping right out. She headed straight for the hearth still bouncing and slipping the package off on a table on her way before she was holding out her gloved hands to warm. "It's freak'in cold out there." And if Gran heard her using that word she'd have a broom at her bottom.

Vanessa returned the hug with a little "Burr" of her own and closed the door when Concessa moved on to the hearth. "It gets colder by the day out there." Following into the den, she smiled some. "Would you like some tea?"

"Hey, Concessa." She grinned a little at the girl's high-paced movements and bouncing; she didn't blame her, it WAS freakin' cold out. "Still got some hot water in the kettle," she added to Van's offer.

"Aye, though it is still not as bitter as it can get." Her smile bright that turned on them both as she turned to warm her back. Her gloves finally worked off as her hands were warmed up. "Are your outfits all ready? That is what is in the package. Grandmother added a longer skirt to the one made that was too short. Eion thinks I look like he  robbed the cradle and I'm his sister!" Which had her burst into giggles at the whole idea of it all.

Vanessa moved into the kitchen to fix a mug of tea for Cessa, giggling softly to what she said about Eion. "I highly doubt the children will notice." Called out from where she was.

"No, but the adult males would." She gave a wry grin, having to snicker a bit herself at Concessa's infectious laughter.

"Only way around it would be to wear a wig but I think that would look strange on me. White one." She was shrugging out of the cloak in a half dance around then bustling over to hang it with the others inside the door, gloves in the pocket and scarf draped over all. Her cheeks were nice and rosy too. "It's so warm and a warm feeling here in your cottage, Vanessa. The manor is always so busy you have to find a hideaway room in it to have a calm spot." Just a wayward comment she was prone to as she was back to take up a seat not far from Karina. "How are you doing, Karina? Having fun in the snow yet?"

"I think it would depend on the wig." Spoken as she came out with a steaming mug of tea for Concessa and invited her to sit down. A smile to the compliment. "Thank you. It's become a lot warmer the past few nights with good company."

A little smile at that sent to Vanessa. Their conversation earlier wasn't forgotten but perhaps she would do as Van suggested, think about it. She already knew what her instinctual answer would be. Looking back to Concessa she grinned a bit. "Oh aye. The snow is much more fun when you're building sled runs and having snowball fights and all."

She half stood to carefully take the mug of tea, wrapping her hands around the porcelain to soak in the heat. That would have the last of any chill chased away as she carefully sat. "Thank you," delighted and showed in the tone of her voice. "You have enough wood for the winter? If not I will get Eion and Segan to bring you over some." Being helpful she would employ their services. There was little they would not do for her. "Have they started the Dragon Run then?" Hopeful look shot Karina's way before she lifted the mug for that first tentative sip.

"I have plenty of wood. King Peter saw to it in the fall." Which she was grateful for. Oh yes...mention of the costumes. "I've finished mine and Karina's costumes." Leaving the question of the run to Karina to answer.

"Yup. We started building it last night." She answered after Van had finished speaking. A little grin over to Vanessa; thank goodness her friend had sewn her costume or it would have been a complete mess of patchwork.

"I missed the fun," doing pages for the magistrate but she didn't add that. There were a few cases that took more time than the usual. There went the pout for she would have liked to have been there. The pouts never lasted long, only a moment before she was rolling right along. "Who all were there? Did you get it finished?"

"I don't think we got it finished." She hadn't been paying much attention, but she knew they got a good start. "Segan was there, a couple of the MacKays and...Rhett with Douglas."

"Oh, Trevet and Kynan?" They were the only younger two she really knew. She had met Mikhail but he was like much older looking to her.

Karina shot a look to Vanessa at the final names, then bobbed a nod to Cessa. "Aye, Trevet and Kynan. I didn't really meet Kynan but Trevet seemed nice."

"Oh, he is nice, so is Kynan, the ladies were all watching them during the jousts." Bobbing her head before another giggle slipped free remembering the times at Solurius and their jousts. "They did very well."

"That they did. They're both very nice." Very different personalities. She sipped her mug and smiled. "Let's head to the Thistle and see whose company we can find tonight." Spoken more as a suggestion than anything else. A chance for the three of them to potentially meet others was always nice, or run into familiar faces.

She was all warmed up, tea finished to warm her up inside. "That's a great idea, never know who might be about." Or not, she was already in good company so it didn't matter. She was up to put the mug in the kitchen sink then back out again to collect her cloak and put all it on. Not one to doddle!

"Sounds good. Guess that means we gotta re-bundle." A little grin as she finished off her tea and rose to follow Concessa into the kitchen, there to wash out the mug. Then back over to re-layer with hat, scarf and mittens.

She went to rinse her mug with a nod. "Aye, but a little ventured walk in the cold isn't bad." Then it was over to bundle up in all her warm coat and gloves and scarves and everything else.

And off they went!


Off into the wild white yonder...


-continued under Thistle Tavern-

Date: 12-07-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 20

Holiday Tree
The next couple of days were going to be busy for Vanessa. She wanted to make sure that everything was perfect for the children's Yule event and had plenty of supplies to be gotten for cookies and treats and she was trying to help Karina get settled and make her room comfortable rather than just looking like a guest room. She was ecstatic that Karina had decided to take up the room and Karina seemed fond of the idea as well. The garden gate was open, Vanessa had just shortly ago returned with a couple sacks full of things needed for the cookies and dinner for tomorrow night since Segan would be joining them, maybe Cessa too and Eion. Better too much than not enough. The food wouldn't last long even if there weren't that many, between herself and Karina. They both had healthy appetites. The side door of the cottage left open a bit while Vanessa went around putting things away.

Segan had gone out very early in the morning to find a perfect tree for Vanessa's cottage. One that was not too big, nor too round, yet not skinny either. He found a very nice long needle one which was 'softer' than the short needle ones. It was a pretty shade, not as dark as some nor as blue but a tint somewhere between. A workhorse drawn wagon was borrowed from the stables. There was no problem as it wasn't needed this day. He had gone up into the woods behind where he had found his own secluded place to retreat to. Little did he know he had gotten a tree from enchanted lands. Obviously the ones had not minded him being there and he sill had not discovered that his little hideaway was not of a normal place. Hence, the tree was not normal although so far all seemed to be fine. There was one little notion while getting it, he thought he heard giggling of all things. The wind had picked up over snow laden fields so he thought it was just the wind about him and proceeded to cut it down. Cut down easily too and wasn't hard to manipulate up onto the wagon, like it folded in its branches. With the gate open, he directed the equine through and up to the cottage. The rambling of wheels might be heard as at last the wind had died down even if the snow had not. He was mindful of the decorations setup already.

She appreciated people being mindful of the decorations, which were wide set for paths and what not so wagons could get in and not worry about running over anything. Sacks laid out across the kitchen counters, she heard the wagon pull up and quirked a brow. She wasn't expecting anyone to arrive...of course she usually wasn't. Leaving everything where it was, she ventured out through the side door and around to spot the wagon, Segan, and a tree! A very pretty tree at that. "If that's not my tree, I think I'm going to cry!" Joking of course, but it was beautiful.

Sometimes the Avian Gardens were a grand central station with how many showed up out of the blue, from known to unknown. He was bundled up good but his nose was red of which showed along with his eyes. He hopped down just as Vanessa came out through the side door, hooking his finger into the scarf to pull it down from his mouth so he could speak up. "No need for tears for this is your very own tree." Knowing she needed it sooner for the holiday event and there was no better time than this morning to go out. Originally a clear day that gradually turned to snow. "I brought a stand in case you didn't have one?" Wondering if it would be needed as he approached. "I hope you don't mind that I just went out and did it? I know how busy you have been to be able to go." Which he caught sight of the sacks laying over the counters as he also ushered her back inside so she didn't catch cold nor lose the heat from her home.

A bright smile given to his comment of no tears, she looked at the tree again with a nod. "I have one. I went and bought it a couple days ago." Then she was ushered back into the cottage, she pulled him in as well and closed the door behind them. "I don't mind at all. I'm very grateful in fact." Quick rub of her palms together, she leaned up to greet him with a kiss and cold nose of her own since she hadn't been home long. "Eion didn't help you?" She felt bad since it looked like he'd gone out to get the tree on his own. If he'd come by, she'd have gone with him to help at least.

"No, he is off working on something with Raphael and Lancely. I've not had time to find out exactly as last I saw him he was on way out.. spared few words. At least he has found something to occupy his mind than negative thoughts of the past." Which was a good thing in his mind. Cold nose nuzzle before lips were warmed over hers. His had been covered so were warm while wrapping her up into his arms even all bundled like he was. "It is not a big tree like they need in some places. It didn't take me long but let's get the stand in place so I can bring it in and you can help me get it all situated."

Affections were happily returned and snuggled into him when he wrapped his arms around her. She was glad to hear that Eion had something to occupy his mind. "I wouldn't know what to do with a big tree." Smile and a nod, she took a step back. "The stand is in the den. We can bring it in through the front door and set it up right there in front of the window." It was a good place. Then it wouldn't be far to move out to the porch for the Santa scene. She picked up her gloves from the counter. "Oh, Concessa left her Mrs. Claus costume here when she stopped by last night. When you leave, remind me to get it for you."

"Ah, yes, she mentioned something about that." Luckily Van reminded him or he would forget with all that was on his mind. "All right I'll go out and get the tree, bring it around and through the front door." So he stepped out again to bring the wagon more towards the front so he had less area to drag it. It was the perfect size tree and both of them should be able to manage it just fine. If either of them still wanted to go out for a tree, they still had to get the one for the manor which would be sometime this coming week, a couple days before Christmas Eve. The tree was very manageable. Somewhere in the back of his mind he noticed there was not a loss of pine needles that usually came with chopping down and dragging a tree. He hefted it out by the bottom, carefully, using the strongest branches as handles before making his way up the steps to the front door, waiting the moment for Vanessa to open it so he could continue on into the den.

Vanessa had put Concessa's costume somewhere safe so there was no worry of it getting lost or Amergin getting hold of the package. She figured if nothing else, she'd just hold onto it since the event was at the cottage anyway. She went to the den to grab the stand then went over to the door to pull it open for Segan. The stand set on the floor near the door but on the open side so there was no need to worry about the door hitting it, then she slipped outside, looking at the tree with a happy smile. "What can I help with?"

"Help me get it standing up straight," as he half pulled it into the door after she went out. Bringing it in far enough that it didn't crash into the doorframe. Being the stand was right there to ease it into. Still there were no needles laying about and he thinking he'd done a great job of it so far. Not losing any.

Vanessa nodded and went to the smaller end. Once she had her gloves on, she reached down to grab a couple of the stronger branches and lift the tree up right so it could be placed into the stand. "The tree's beautiful, Segan."

"Yes it is. Soon as I saw it I knew it was the right one for your cottage. Like it called to me." Maybe the Sidhe part of him unbeknownst to Segan other than rumors in their family that were passed down. With her help he got it straightened, which was a little taller than he. Perfect height for the room and have a treetop star or angel on it. "Little lift now," as he lifted his side and took the few steps to ease the trunk down into the stand. Keeping hold of a branch while he knelt down to turn the screws in to hold it firm. ooooooooo.. seemed to whisper through the branches as they started to unfold down like a flower opening up or so the effect. The tree was perfect, symmetrical, no barren spots no branches too long or too short. Once done he got up and took a step back. "Did you say something?" Wondering if what he heard was while he was down and under tightening up the stand supports.

"Well, you know me so well." She smiled and lifted the tree up, leaning off to the side to watch as he put it in the stand then tightened down the bolts to hold it up. Once it was secured, she let go and pulled her gloves off, closed the door and admired the tree. She didn't have decorations yet. She wanted to see the tree before buying any. She thought she heard a whisper, but figured it was just Segan. When he asked, she looked at him and shook her head. "No, not I. I will have to go out and get some decorations today, then it can be decorated tonight."

"I've the wagon outside, How about we take a trip in but first we should put water in the holding part of the stand." The branches seemed to subtly move but that he chalked up to it still settling. "It will give it time for the branches to spread out naturally." Like that was the logical reason. He stepped back to admire it for it was perfect and pleased him that Vanessa was pleased with it too.

"Alright." She nodded, looking at the tree for a moment longer before leaning up to give Segan a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, again." Then it was off to the kitchen to get some water to fill the stand with. Didn't take long to fill a bucket and come back with it. She filled up the stand carefully. "Karina's going to be so surprised."

He wrapped her up in his arms when she offered the kiss, he could never get enough of them. There was a rushing sound in his ears but he felt that was just how she managed to make him feel. That silent rolling thunder. It ended all too soon as she was off to get some water then back again as he waited for her at the door. Else he might end up kissing her again and let time roll away on them. Better to get to the stores before nightfall and that would be coming soon.

It wasn't easy to drag herself away from him! Especially when she was all wrapped up in his arms. She stood up and motioned to the door. "I didn't tell you. I've invited Karina to stay here with me. She's been here for the past few nights, and it's been really nice having her here. So last night, I asked her if she'd like to keep the room she's been sleeping in."

"That is very kind hearted of you to share your home. I'm pleased for I feel it will benefit you both and I not to overly worry with you being alone. If something happened..." not getting into such thoughts but such could happen especially with the winter months ahead. Going outside, slipping in a fall that rendered her unconscious and have her freeze to death. Being they both still had their cloaks on and all, he whisked her outside and into the wagon. Dragging one of the thick woolen blankets from under the seat to put over her lap before climbing up and in. A click of the reins started them off towards the commons.

She just smiled to Segan, not commenting on worst case scenarios. It was more that the cottage was quiet, and really more space than she needed alone so it was nice to have a friend help fill some of that space. Especially since it seemed that she and Karina got along so well. Up into the wagon and settled, she was excited to get to shop for decorations for the tree. "Karina's going to the ball. Would you mind if she arrived with us?" That way she wouldn't have to make her entrance alone. Maybe by the end of the night, she'd have some nice gent offering her an escort home.

"I don't mind at all. In fact I will have a carriage big enough to fit us all and a few others if needed. Never know, we might end up giving someone a ride home too by the time the night is done."They moved out into the square, which was really round, before he headed down and around onto another street. He had noticed this place before that seemed to be geared to all holidays but mostly Yule and Christmas. He stopped the wagon in front of the lively lighted place, dazzling colors and show of Yule cheer in decorations. Thousands of ornaments of which many were hand made by the children of the orphanage that if bought, the funds went there. Other children as well that didn't have a whole lot were allowed to sell any ornaments they made along with the others. Sometimes the more destitute such as orphan kids got more than ones that had a normal means of money earned by hard working parents in average jobs. It would give them money to add to their meager meals and have some extra to spend on presents for siblings. Most had a brood of children.

"You're so very thoughtful." She smiled over to him and loosely wrapped her arm around his for the ride to the Square. When the pulled up in front of the shoppe, she peeked in through the windows from where she was sitting, looking over the displays and such that were set. "Oh, look at all the lovely decorations. I was thinking lots of silver and dark green for the tree." Things that would stand out but not clash against the color of the tree itself.

"Concessa will be going with us as well. Possibly Eion." One never knew with his brother but he wouldn't hold his breath. "She doesn't have a beau either even if there seems to be one interested in her from another lands during the jousting." Which they teased her about until that article came out in their paper of which a copy was sent here. One that mortified her with as much as saying she was a floozie fawning over this knight. It had not been that way but articles in a paper could be cruel without caring and he comforted her with this. After that he never mentioned this knight, nothing against him either for he seemed an upstanding fellow. "Time to go look instead of peeking," grinning her way before he was down and around to offer a hand in helping her down from the buckboard of the wagon.

"Oh...well that'll be good. She and Karina seem to be getting along really well also." At least neither of them would feel third-wheelish. That could be very uncomfortable. The blanket was set on his seat once he was down, she turned towards him as he came around to take his help. "I'm so glad I got to see you this afternoon. Such a pleasant surprise." Golden eyes held to his own even after being placed on her feet with a soft smile. He really did spoil her.

He did it without effort then for all that he did, he wanted to do. Gave him reason to be with her without crowding or suffocating. They had time away from each other too, which was good, made the heart grow fonder. "I think you could probably spend a whole day in a place like this, not necessarily buying but seeing all there is to see aside getting what you need. There is also a toy maker's shop not far from here, candy store and such others." Escorting her in as the bell tinkled overhead as they went through the door. Closing it off once both were inside to keep the heat in. There was a middle age woman at the counter that greeted them with a smile and assurance that if they needed her for anything to just let her know. "I will leave you to wander and carry the basket for you to fill." Which there was a bunch by the door as he took one up, leaving her the use of both hands.

Toy maker's shop. She thought on that for a moment. She should probably get Iason a little something for Yule. She hoped her little step brother and both fathers would show for the Yule event. No telling if they would or not though. She followed inside with a look around and smile to the woman behind the counter, thanking her for the offer before turning to Segan. "Thank you. Have you made up a list of things you'd like for Yule?" She still had no idea what to get him as a gift, but she'd get him something! It was time to start wandering the stands and walls of ornaments. Gloves were pulled off and tucked away into her pocket before trying to handle any of the ornaments.

"Me?" Obviously he hadn't thought of it as he shook his head. Although he still had something for her in his pocket he was hoping to pick the right moment in giving her and why. He would comment on various ornaments and was mostly drawn to the handmade ones, be they of the orphanage or those of little means of monies.

"Yes you." She laughed softly. Handmade ones were those she tended to flock to as well, since it was clear that they were hand made. Various ornaments were picked up and looked over and either placed in the basket or put back. She picked out some silver bead trim to string around the tree, most ornaments were either silver, or varying shades of greens and blues, nothing too big since the tree wasn't huge. "I love these ornaments." Motioning to the ones the children made.

"When is your birthday? You made reference to it being in December if I correctly remember," he was picking up various handmade ones and adding them to the basket. Ones that he liked. Others were admired but not chosen much like she was doing. "I think they are the best but some blown glass ones will be nice too, a little of those?"

Her birthday? She paused and looked at him with a small smile. "The sixth." Hopefully he'd realize it had passed and not make any sort of fuss over it. "I love the glass ones. I just hope Amergin doesn't pounce the tree with them hung." She snickered quietly, able to imagine the half grown pup wanting to climb the tree.

Which had brows up then dipping into a furrow. "A moment," setting the basket aside as he spoke over to the woman at the desk going through some inventory while they shopped. He was practically dragging Vanessa over to where they had a live tree set up, one all decorated. "I didn't know when your birthday was but I had gotten something for you." He was peeling off her glove as he spoke.

Brow quirked, she looked at the woman then back to Segan as she was being dragged off and a glove peeled from her hand. "You didn't have to get me anything, Segan." Which was why she told so few when her birthday was. She didn't want them fussing over her birthday. It wasn't something overly celebrated in the family she grew up in, so she was used to it just being another day.

"I know, but I wanted to. Would you have not for me if it was my birthday and knew about it even if not what exact date?" All said in a long string as he released her hand long enough to bring out the black box. Which he turned enough that she could see the ring it contained when he opened it. There was a neatly penned paper telling all about the claddagh ring as he lifted it from the box to slide on her finger with the heart facing out. "Only a friend can give you this, loved one or such but a ring you cannot buy for yourself by Irish tradition. There is a lot of meaning in this ring as you have meaning to me."

Well, she couldn't argue with that logic. It reminded her to ask when his birthday was, but she'd ask later. She watched as he retrieved the box and opened it to see the beautiful ring within, holding her birthstone. Needless to say she was blushing due to the gesture. His words made her curious of the ring, and the paper attached she'd definitely read later to have better understanding. The ring though was taken from the box with a soft smile as she admired it. "Segan, it's beautiful." And it truly was. Even more so knowing that it came from his heart. "I love it. Thank you." Soft smile up to him, she leaned up to press a warm kiss to his cheek. "I will cherish it as I do you."

As the kiss touched his cheek, he angled in to bring a brief one upon her lips. "I have become so very fond.." admitting that much as this was a whole new area for him. Certainly there had been women in his past, especially those come across during his travels at sea but none had been like this for him. She had passion and innocence mixed, something far more drawing than those other women of the past. "I am pleased you like it," holding her there for the moment as there were not many customers about this particular hour, maybe because it was too close to dinner time. Not too long before he was bringing her back to where they had been picking out the ornaments to continue and head back. He was expected at the manor for dinner this night.

She held to his lips for a moment before returning heels to the floor with a smile up to him. The ring placed on her middle finger since she wasn't sure and that seemed like a good place for it. "How could I not? You picked it out." Then it was back to shopping. It wouldn't take too much longer to pick out a few more ornaments. She wanted the three decorated but not overly so. Once finished, she walked with him to the counter to pay for the decorations. "When is your birthday?" Looking up to Segan while the ornaments were gone through.

"December as well, the 31st. I was almost a New Year's child." Which had a wry smile. Fair was Fair to tell her. He gave her some coins to cover the ones he had picked out to go on her tree. Not ones for the manor one. "You will get to see some of the ornaments I made when growing up on our tree. I think the last one was when I was twelve." Once all was rung up and paid for he escorted her out, helping her into the wagon as he held the packaged up bag filled with their purchases, each individually wrapped up to keep any from breaking. Once she was in, he handed her the bag to place at her feet then got the cover out again to keep her legs warmed. Around and up onto the buckboard he had them on their way a few minutes later. "Soon it wont be a wagon but a sleigh drawn." When the snow got too deep.

Oooo..he was a December baby too! She smiled brightly to that and nodded. "I can't wait to see them." She looked forward to that. Once the bag was made up and ornaments filled, she followed him out and up onto the wagon to take the bag and set it down. Once covered and he was on the seat with her, it would be back to the cottage with a few more kisses before parting ways.

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