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Avian Gardens

Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 21

Gift Giving

Vanessa picked up the finished dishes from the table with a smile to Karina. "So when are you leaving for this adventure of yours?" Dishes carried over to the wash bin and dropped down into the water to soak for a short bit. "Would you like some tea?" She already had a pot of water on the stove so she could have some after dinner, and expecting Segan and Cessa as well.

Karina rose to collect up their used mugs, following Vanessa into the kitchen. A grimace behind Van's back as the question came though her answering tone was light. "Ah, dunno. Maybe a week or so." Whenever she could get enough supplies together and also find the chutzpah to get going. That was much easier when it was sunny outside, and not a blizzard. "Tea would be great." That said with a glance out the window. She didn't need to see the light snowfall to know it was freezing cold outside. She wore comfy clothes around the cottage, a big wooly sweater over more snug stretchy pants, and some sheepskin-lined slippers. A bit big on her but they kept her toes toasty.

Vanessa nodded to the answer. She was going to miss Karina while she was gone. Two mugs picked up and set out, along with the basket she kept with different teas. "Karina..?" Turning to look at her friend with a look of concern. "This doesn't have anything to do with what happened a few weeks ago, does it?" Referring to Karina's venture down to the docks and her returning with a split lip. "I just worry for you and I understand the adventure thing. I just want to know that you're going to be safe, is all." Vanessa was dressed comfortably in a heavy dress that was a size or two too big colored in sage green with long sleeves and her own slippers.

She knew from her friend's tone that she was about to venture something serious, and she paused over the sink to listen to her words before pulling her large-eyed gaze back up to Van. "Nah. It has nothing to do with that. And it's not just for adventure - if it were just that I'd go when it's warmer." A faint smirk as she tucked a stray curl behind her ear; her hair was growing longer now but still fell in crazed ringlets. "I have to go." She added in a lower tone as she started cleaning out her mug.

Segan accompanied his sister to the Avian Gardens as they had been invited. He pulled a small sled that had their packages secured. It was an old child's one with sides on it and worked out perfectly. The snow was falling again and coating their cloaks. Once the cottage was reached he stepped ahead to knock on the door, kitchen door as that was where Vanessa and Karina could usually be found this time of night.

Her brother was lucky she didn't talk too much but enjoyed the walk and the fall of snow. She gathered up some of the presents while he knocked on the door so he didn't have to lug them all. Hers were small and fitted in her pockets while he had big ones wrapped up. Although they were not heavy so she took two of them leaving two there in the sled.

Nodding, she filled the two tea mugs with hot water. She might have had more to say, but fell short when there was a knock on the door. Smiling to Karina. "Well I'll keep your room dusted." Laughing softly, she went over to the door and pulled it open with a bright smile to Segan and Concessa. "You're just in time for tea." Pulling the door open, she stepped out of the way, motioning the two in. "How are you?"

A little grateful for the interruption she just cast her friend a wry smirk. "Thanks for that." Glancing up as the others tromped in, she waved before setting the mugs to dry. "Hallo you two."

"Merry Christmas," stepping aside to let Concessa through first as he took up the last two presents from the sled, making sure it was out of the way before he was up and in a few moments after his sister. Both were bearing gifts even if the four larger ones were his to give.

She was quickly in sliding past Segan and over to set the presents down upon the table. "It's snowing pretty good out there again. Perfect for sledding and ice skating. I'm sure many will start heading for the lake and get up some group play." Sledding, ice skating or snowball fights.

Once they were both in, she closed the door with a nod. "I'm sure they will be. Maybe we should all head down that way after hot tea." She went to get two more mugs and set the basket of tea flavors out so everyone could pick their own.

She didn't even have her cloak off when she was over to give Karina a hug and a small wrapped up gift. Next it was Vanessa by the time she had the door closed.

"Segan can use his new skates," Karina grinned a bit at the thought of going outside to play.. after bundling up of course! And then she was being hugged and handed something. A blink as she took the small package then patted Cessa's back. "Oh... uh, thanks!"

There were two packages with Karina's name on them and three with Vanessa, two larger ones like Karina and one smaller box that she would get last. "Seems Santa time all over again." Handing the packages off to each that they could open them at their convenience.

Vanessa returned the hug and took the gift. "Thank you." She smiled, looking to Segan. "Aye, can give them a try." Then opened the gift from Cessa. "Oh Cessa, it's beautiful. Thank you." And gave her another hug before taking the gifts from Segan with a bright smile. "Seems that way." Smiling brightly to him.

She hugged Karina, "I was hoping you liked it and remember me while you're gone, remember us and make sure you come back." A little teary eyed that she tried to hide behind her smile. She was worried.

Karina blinked at the teary tone her friend was using... and her eyes fell to the gift a second. A soft bite of her lip before she looked up again to smile softly at Cessa. "Be right back." And THEN it was up the stairs and to her room! Carefully gathering up the gifts she'd wrapped earlier, another second to convince herself to actually take them downstairs, and then she was jogging back down to join the others. After a second of thought those gifts were laid down on the floor by the hearth and then she poked her head into the kitchen. "You lot want to go into the den for this? It's warmer." She'd poked up the flames burning in the hearth. Plus the tree was out there by the door and it just seemed more festive. Like the pictures she'd seen in the book Vanessa lent her.

"Yes, let's go sit in the den. Cessa, would you like some tea? Segan, some potcheen?"

She shrugged out of her cloak as the invitation came to join Karina in the living room. "Sure.." as she made her way in and hung her cloak near the door. "Yes, I'd love some tea," over her shoulder while in the task then around and over to the hearth to get the last of the chill chased from her bones.

Karina retrieved the gift from Cessa before heading into the den too, settling herself cross-legged on the floor by her pile of gifts. Which she eyed before the others got there uncertainly.

He lingered to draw Vanessa into a hug once the two were in the living area, den, hearth, social room. His nose cold that pressed against the side of her neck with a dip of his head to do so. She might hear the low chuckle knowing he'd probably get swatted. "Potcheen sounds perfect." The strong brew would warm him inside as surely as the hearth would once in the den.

He must have been reading her mind. The hug returned with a quiet squeak from his cold nose against her neck, she nodded and snuck a small kiss before he could get away. "Go sit and warm yourself. I'll be out with drinks."

"I'll help you carry them," with a grin as she wasn't getting rid of him easily at all now that he was here. He'd carry in two.

She was over, crushed black velvet riding outfit worn, vest with a lacy blouse beneath kept it feminine. Down into a cross leg sitting position on the floor next to Karina. That's when she called up. "No necking out there you two..." like she could see them. Snickering quietly with a glint in dark eyes with a look to Karina.

Karina glanced to the kitchen door then over to Cessa, letting out a snicker at her comment. "Bet they won't make any promises 'bout that..." Comment given beneath her breath with a broad smirk.

"Alright." A third mug filled with hot water, and the last with potcheen, she handed him one mug with hot water and the one with his drink, then picked up the other two and the basket of tea and out to the den with a small grin to the other two women, blushing a bit. "Hush you two. I happen to know one of you have an eye for one of the gents here, and the other soon will I'm sure."

"You think you know quite a lot," she quipped back while hoping Vanessa wasn't about to go into any more detail... and that Segan wouldn't pry for details!

"So you know what goes on behind closed doors Concessa?" Wicked tip to his smile as he brought in the hot water filled mug and his glass of potcheen. Setting the mug down on the hearth's bottom ledge in easy reach.

That had her mulling over very quickly what Vanessa said, "Karina has her eye on someone?" Being she knew she didn't. Dark eyes went round that turned on Karina. "Who is it, oh.." glancing to her brother and back, "whisper it."

Vanessa just notched her chin up with a coy grin and took her seat near the hearth, offering one mug of hot water to Cessa with the basket of tea flavors.

"I'm not gonna whisper nothin' - anything I mean, 'cause there isn't anybody." That said loudly enough for them all to hear. Yes she would declare such to her grave! She took her own mug of water when offered and then plucked up some spiced cinnamon tea to plunk down in to steep.

The other hot mug was for Karina that had been set. "She has a few to choose from as do you, Concessa." He knew at least one knight that favored her but he was a very long way off and not seen much of.

Vanessa snickered quietly at Karina's fibbing confession but said nothing of it. Selecting some apple tea, she dropped it into the water. "I have something for you to take to Yaya as well."

"Oh pooh, I don't want to have my eye on the same guy as you is all, Karina." Which would be her luck if she decided to start noticing more than just notice the good looking males their age in these lands. She took one of the teas, spicy one to add to her hot water and let it steep. Her cheeks were a touch rosy for Segan's question but she had conveniently ignored it!

A roll of her eyes at Segan's comment of there being a 'few' before looking back to Cessa. "No worries 'cause like I said... it isn't anybody." Nope. That was where her lips were sealed. Even if she did enjoy certain walks with a certain someone... it didn't matter because they were just friends.

Suuure they were. Vanessa set her mug aside and went upstairs for a moment. She came back with a basket covered in red and white gingham cloth. "This is for Yaya. I hope she enjoys it."

"Does the one know you're leaving?" Like she didn't hear a word of what Karina had said or didn't translate like she had wanted it to. "I'm sure she will and I will make sure she gets it." Big smile given Vanessa.

"No, I haven't mentioned it 'cause it doesn't matter and he likely won't notice anyway." Oops! Too late she realized that it was as good as a confession that there actually WAS a someone. Rosy color stole up into her cheeks as she poked at the teabag in her mug with her index finger.

"Thank you." She smiled to Concessa then to Karina. "Mmm....I doubt that's true." Then into the kitchen to get the gifts from Segan and Cessa to bring out and set down to be opened.

See the Cheshire grin with a spark lit in dark eyes as focus turned on Karina. "I will bet he would and if he finds out through others, he'll think that you don't care at all. Gone off and not even a word. You should at least send him a note. Even friends get upset when friends don't tell them things like that."



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 22

He was up to help Vanessa with the gifts, setting Karina's two within her reach then a lean against the stones of the hearth as he watched the trio. A ghosted smile the only reflection of any thoughts.

She was scowling furiously behind her blush but Concessa's words had her silenced in thought. Was that true? She didn't want him to think that... But there was the small problem of not being able to send a note. Unless she found someone to dictate a note to. She just shrugged and sought distraction by thrusting a small, parchment-wrapped package at Cessa. "Here. I've never done this before so... if you lot hate 'em you can, ya know, just give 'em away or something." Slight smirk as she passed a small rectangle package to Segan and then stood to bring a larger, flat present to Vanessa, also wrapped in the brown parchment paper.

She was waggling her finger towards Karina, "gifts are given to love no matter what they are." The waggling stop as she collected up the gift thrust her way and proceeded to open it with aplomb.

Concessa would find within a brightly-colored knitted cap, the slouchy beret-style sort that fit about one's head snugly but then flopped sideways over one's hair. It was knitted in vibrant blues, greens and yellows. "All those bright colors sorta reminded me of you..." She offered by way of explanation, watching for her reaction.

Vanessa seated herself next to Segan and took the gift from Karina with a smile. "Thank you." And started opening her gift from Karina.

Vanessa's gift had taken her the longest to decide what to do, and in the end it wasn't anything she had bought or found in a store. Vanessa would reveal a thin canvas on which was sketched none other than the Cottage. Her home. It was done in charcoal but the monotone contained vivid details nonetheless, from the forest nestled behind the cottage to the bird cages off to the side. Everything was there, the path and the gate, the smoke drifting out of the cottage's chimney. The picture was everything that the cottage represented to her.... coziness, friendliness, warmth. There were even small birds flitting across the sky above the cottage roof.

She squealed in delight, she had a hood but not a knitted cap. She had it on immediately bringing it down over her head and leaving the tip to one side. "How does it look?" Smile was beaming.

He was up from his lean as he had the rectangular gift in hand and soon to unwrap it's packaging. "The hat looks good on you Concessa."

"It looks wonderful." Smiling to Concessa as she unwrapped the gift and looked down at it. Careful not to touch the canvas. She looked at it quietly for a long moment. "Karina....This is beautiful...." Vanessa was speechless.

She had scooted over near Vanessa as she looked over her shoulder. "You are a very gifted artist, Karina." She was in awe too as she looked it over.

Which he got to see as he hadn't quite opened his up and gave a low whistle. "Very impressive artist."

She tilted it over so Cessa could see it, smiling brightly. "I love it." Glancing up over the mantle of the hearth. "And I'm going to hang it right there."

Karina grinned a bit as Cessa put the hat right on - the splash of color did look good against her friend's dark hair. Segan's gift was a book of sea stories, tall tales from sailors ancient and modern. The bookshop owner had assured her that the stories were thrilling. All of their praises had her cheeks flushing again and her shoulders hunching as she pushed some hair behind her ear. "Nah, I'm not really. Just sketched it... wish I coulda captured even more but..." Breath taken as she looked at Van. "I love this place and well... I know you do too and... I'm really glad you let me live here." Crooked smile as the words came muttered but genuine.

Which had a grin surface as he read the title. This would go hand in hand with his journal in comparison. "Thank you Karina, I'll enjoy reading these." Someday others might enjoy reading the ones from his journal once it was completed. A note to self that he needed to work on it again.

She leaned over to Karina and gave her a hug. "I'm glad you call it home too and that you love it as much as I do." Then stood up to set it on the mantle until she could hang it.

She watched as Vanessa got right up to hang her creation over the mantle, a little taken aback that her sketch would be given such a place of honor. Despite the embarrassed flush she was beaming shyly, please she could make Vanessa happy. Her friend had done so much for her, it was really nothing in comparison to all that but the most she could offer.

Karina would never know how much that meant to her. Seating herself where she had been, she smiled to Segan. "So which should I open first. Is there an order?"

"Biggest to the smallest.." said with a grin as he settled in to watch their expressions as they opened up the gifts he brought.

"Alright." She went for the biggest first and opened it up to find a nice soft quilt in nice shades. "I'm putting this on my bed tonight."

She worked on her tea before it got cold while watching the others. She knew what Segan had gotten them because she had time to work on him until he gave in and told her. Not a word said as she promised.

Karina realized then that she was still holding Concessa's gift in her lap, but she'd wait until the others had opened all their gifts before doing so herself. Admiring the quilt that Vanessa now held which looked cozy warm, good armor against the chilly nights. Now that her tea had cooled enough to drink she sipped at it, enjoying the spiciness against her tongue.

"Open yours too, Karina." Vanessa felt strange being the only one opening presents. The second picked up and unwrapped, a pair of white ice skates. "I guess that means I'm going to be learning to skate after all." With a glance to Segan and bright smile.

"The first to keep you warm when I cannot. The second to come skating with me." Not adding about the last until she opened it.

"Oh, okay.." Not much urging needed since she was downright curious. Concessa's would be opened first and her eyes widened as she turned the golden bangle over in her hand, looking at the rose emblazoned in the metal. "This is real pretty, Concessa...." And it looked so expensive. Karina was a bit awed now. "Thank you..." And remembering what Cessa had said earlier, about it reminding her of them and bringing her back to Heathfield, she looked up to give her friend a soft smile.

"I'll think of you more when you're not here to keep me warm." Spoken quietly as she looked at what Karina got. "That's beautiful." And it looked very nice on Karina. The smallest package picked up and opened, she held it up to look at the butterfly pendant with three stones. "Segan...I love it." She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you."

She had a big smile as dark eyes looked up from beneath the colorful knitted cap. "Something pretty for someone pretty."

"You remind me of the butterfly. Beautiful. Graceful. The epitome of freedom to be where you choose to be, not something to be captured and forced. Butterfly wings hold the scent of every flower they've been to so brings every field of flowers with it." Which he took the stones to represent. Smile was there as eyes had been locked with lowered words, "I prefer keeping you warm in my arms." Which he captured a kiss at the end. One that didn't linger but certainly was tender in emotion.

"Think you got the wrong person then," she teased a bit with a snicker though she slid the bangle onto her wrist. Falling quiet to listen to Segan's words, she then gave Concessa a grin. Though this time it lacked sarcasm, because Segan's words were admittedly very sweet.

Segan's words made her blush lightly. They were very sweet and she was very lucky. "Thank you." Taken from the box, she held it up. "Will you fasten it for me?"

She had that dreamy look on her face as she caught enough what was going on between her brother and Vanessa. Happy for both until she remembered something she nearly forgot. "OH!" Getting up to stand as she set the empty mug aside. "Eion couldn't come tonight because they were going to Roll the streets up with the Roller. He should be out there by now if you haven't seen it yet."

His mug set aside as he took the necklace to fasten around Vanessa's neck. Fingers traced against the softness of her skin as he placed a light kiss there at the crook. That didn't last too long either as Cessa leaped up. That he was use to but still came as a surprise. "You said you'd like to see The Roller, Vanessa?"


Fingers traced over the pendant with a smile up to Concessa. "Sounds like fun." A tilt of her head towards Segan and the soft placed kiss, she looked over her shoulder to him with a nod. "Aye, I would."

Karina meanwhile had opened up her gifts from Segan, letting out an 'ooooooh' as she first found the boots... which were sturdy and warm but a lot nicer-looking than her current clunky ones. She kicked off her slippers and tugged them on, wiggling her toes within before opening up the other... a dagger that was both pretty with its Celtic knotwork but also had a good sharp edge. She pulled it out of its hilt then slid it back, looking up to Segan with a crooked smile. "Thanks, Segan..." She was touched by all their gifts, and the reception she'd gotten from her own and suddenly really, really didn't want to leave again.

"They should serve you well on your trip, hopefully only the one need in serving." Which she knew what he meant and knew he understood she at least knew how to use the dagger if needed. She'd do her best to get away from a fight so a sword would not be needed. Anyone got close, it would be close enough for that dagger. He was sure she had a few others but not one for the boot in particular. "Let's go see Eion with his new invention." He would help Vanessa with her cloak and the other two if needed before his own was donned.

"Last one there.. is a rotten egg." Grabbing her cloak and off she went near flying out the door. A few snowballs might come flying back through the veil of snowflakes.

Karina stood and tucked the hilted dagger carefully into her right boot, before nimbly working to tie up the leather shoes which came up nearly to her knees. They'd be warm over those snug suede leggings. A laugh at Concessa's whirlwind banished the slight lump in her throat and she grabbed her own coat, tugging it over her baggy sweater and then grabbing her hat before following at a gallop out the door. Her legs might've been shorter but she was fast and soon catching up to Cessa.

Setting everything aside, she stood up to get her cloak and boots, laughing to Concessa's term of racing to find Eion, and Karina tailing her. Smiling to Segan, she'd steal one more kiss. "Thank you for the gifts."

He'd match that stolen kiss that would warm them both for the trip to the tavern. Heated sear as he folded her up into his arms, cloak and all. It would end with a small one to the tip of her nose knowing if they were real late in showing up, they would both be rightfully teased. "C'mon," grabbing up her hand in his once outside and the door secured closed as they could run, holding hands no less.


Happily snuggled away in his arms, cloak and all, she wrapped both arms around him and smiled. "I think this is the best part of my holiday." Then out the door, she pulled it closed and they'd be running into town.


-continued under the Thistle Folder-

Date: 02-02-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 23

Fulfilling a Bet

Life had a way of keeping one busy even if the time seemed to go by in a way if one asked:, what have you been doing, you could not list all the things and wonder yourself where the time went. Segan had an obligation to see to which found him this day at Vanessa's cottage, outside in the cages mucking up bird poop and rat guts, a job Karina took care of daily but not this day. There had been a bet and so he was seeing to his end of the bargain.

Vanessa had only been out to see to the birds very early to make sure they were fed and all doing well with the heating spires keeping warm enough. Aside from that, she'd been in the cottage tending to Ysa, trying to get her settled  and get used to having the little on around. She'd have to go back out come mid afternoon though to check on the spires again, so once she got Ysa settled for a nap, she bundled up and headed out to the flight cages, and was pleasantly surprised to find Segan there. "Why've grown so tall and...masculine." Attempting to keep a straight face.

"And hair on my face too," pausing with a laugh as he straightened up from shoveling the last of it. There was fresh, but frozen, poop on his snow coated shoulders unbeknownst to him. Some of the birds were getting even for having an unknown take care of their droppings. Perhaps the birds were partial to them? A hand lifting to rub along the shadow of whiskers. "Think I need a shave?" Too bad Karina wasn't around to hear this conversation for she would have gotten a kick out of it.

Yeah, Karina would have laughed. Vanessa laughed as she approached the cage he was in and smirked. "The birds I think like you." Motioning to his shoulders with a chuckle. Sort of like their version of initiation! "Mm...I don't know. The shadow is quite becoming on you." Little rugged look was quite handsome on him. "How are you today?"

"Better me than she," still laughing as he shoveled the last from the cage out into the bushes beyond the area. Once back he set the shovel aside and was over, pooped on shoulders and all to bring her into his arms, "I am doing well, better at this moment." Which had a glint to spark in blue eyes that held to hers in obviously why. "How are you doing? Adjusting to little Ysa? She adjusting to you?" Concern still held there as it was a life changing situation for one to go from single to foster mother/aunt.

She was happily pulled in and wrapped her arms around his sides, tipping her head back to look up to him with a smile. "Better now. Ysa is ... well she is. I'm not sure she really understands why she's here, but she seems content all things considered, I am happy to have her here." If Ysa couldn't be with her mother, then Van was happy to take her in and raise her. It was a heartwarming memory and piece of her sister.

Indeed there was that to come out of the tragedy. He didn't bring up her sister in particular, maybe sometime he would later on when the hurt was not so raw. "How old is she? Three months?" He wasn't really sure but the infant seemed very small to him so couldn't be too many months old.

Vanessa was dealing with the loss of her twin as well as anyone would. She'd cried, been to the funeral and cried some more. If it weren't for Ysa, it would probably be a lot harder. "She's a month and a half old." Born in mid December. "Hopefully asleep. She was on her way to sleeping when I left to come check on the spires."

"Well, I'm done out here so, let's get inside if you don't mind me company," like she would. He knew better but he'd tease. He swiped the snow and bird droppings from his shoulder once he had stepped back from the hug. "A mug of something hot is very appealing presently."

She nodded and took a step back. "I have water set for tea, and some potcheen. Whichever you prefer." Once he was cleaned off, she walked to the cottage with him and in through the side door to the kitchen, stomping snow from her boots and hem of her coat and skirts.

"Tea with some potcheen will chase the cold from me bones." Most certainly. Heading in with her from the side door, he took off his gloves to stuff in a pocket, hat, scarf followed along with his coat to hang to a peg there. He knocked off any snow from his boots as well, making sure so he didn't leave clumps that would melt into puddles. "I found out that Marcy McGuires bed and linens shop also carries baby things." Which from what he was told including everything why he used the word 'things' to encompass it.

Nod given to his drink of choice, she hung her coat on the peg and closed the door once he was in, then moved around to get out the tea and potcheen, which was set on the table before getting a mug of hot water for him. "I'm not  sure I know where that is. I think for now though, I just need somewhere safe for her to sleep, and clothes and such of course. I'm going to keep her upstairs in the loft with me for a while at night."

"I can get hold of a cradle for you, to keep her in your room until a little older and both you have adjusted. I'll bring it by tonight." He knew exactly where to get one. "Marcy's shop is in the Commons." Which was not far and could get things as she needed them. "Being I will be out later, is there anything you will be needing so I can pick them up for you than be taking her out in the cold."

Cup of hot water was set on the table for him, then she went back for her own. "Milk. I've not had the chance to go to market yet. Are you sure that it's not too much trouble though?" The crib would certainly be appreciated. As it stood, Ysa had a large basket with blankets all nested to keep her off the floor or from rolling off furniture.

"No trouble at all," knowing it would be far more trouble for her to go having to take such a young infant too. "Grandmama said you can leave Ysa with her anytime. She loves babies. Even emergency without warning or just to take a break, get some time to yourself. Just bring her over with written instructions of her feedings."

All of that felt like such an imposition, but at the opposite end of that, she was very grateful for the offer. "Thank you, and give Yaya a hug for me and tell her thank you, as well." Tea was picked out and the bag dropped in her cup.

That's why he was schooled to add all that to hopefully get across that Mary Quinn wanted to have the baby as much as allowed so she could coddle and coo, lavish love on the child. "I will, but maybe you can when you first bring Ysa over." Slow grin with a wink. Once she took the step of the first time, she would realize all was good in this offer. His tea was already steeped having done it as soon as the mug was set. Potcheen was being added. "Once the weather gets warmer, you can get out as much as before. Spring is not that far off and should come to these lands by next month." He had come at the end of this month a year ago and missed most of the winter.

"Yaya will get a hug and more from me." Smiling to his wink. She knew the offer wouldn't be made unless it was a genuine offer. "Yes, it will be easier when spring comes and the weather warms." Which she was very much looking forward to for multiple reasons. She was about to take another drink from the mug when she heard some burbled sounds from the den and smirked. "That was either a short nap, or she's been listening to our conversation." Little eavesdropper! A little smile, she got up and ventured out to the other room to collect Ysa from the bundle of blankets arranged in the large basket, then brought her into the kitchen. Thumbs hooked under her arms and fingers up her back to help support her head. "She talks a lot." Well, she made sounds. Noisy baby, but well behaved.

"Have you learned her language yet?" Watching as she left the few minutes to collect the precious one. What he was starting to refer to her in his mind. Leaning then to get a look at her from behind as he made goofy faces, not that she was old enough to appreciate them. "Her chin is all wet," drool, not that Segan would know that was normal.

"Not yet."  Vanessa sat down. "I'm learning that she has different sounds for different things. The only one I've learned so far is her hungry sound." Ysa was settled on her lap and turned to face Segan, Vanessa used the apron she'd  been wearing over the skirt of her dress to wipe the drool away. "Yes. She does that. Most babies do. I've heard it gets worse when they teethe." Ysa looked at Segan and seemed mesmerized by him.

"A hellion of a scream saying she is hungry?" He had finished off his tea as he rose, touch a kiss to Ysa's forehead before easing up the bit to touch one to Vanessa's lips. "I've missed these too." Murmured after he was through, "I better go get the things needed before it gets later, and sooner I will be back here where I can settle for a few hours in your company." Or even overnight depending on how it went.

Lopsided grin given. "She's a lot louder than she was right after being born." That little shuddered lamb cry that all newborns had wasn't so bad. Ysabeau had some lungs though. Ysa watched Segan get up, as did Van, and leaned up to return the kiss with a smile. "Sounds like a good plan for the night. Thank you again. For everything." She stood, settling Ysa into one arm to walk Segan to the door.

She would get a one arm hug at the door and a little longer kiss before he was into the bundling of outerwear worn. "I'll be back soon, want me to pick up something for dinner too?" While he was out then she wouldn't need to cook this night. He'd see about a roasted chicken that there would be leftovers for her too.

The longer kiss was lingered in, as was the one armed hug. "Only if you intend to have dinner here." She smiled up to him, straightened the collar of his coat and scarf. "And you be careful in the cold."

"I would like to," which the smile that shot wide told of that very intention by the offer. "I'll be careful, I should be back within two and a half hours to three at the latest. I shall try to make it less than two." Mostly leaving room for things that came up that were never figured in otherwise. With that he was on his way wearing a smile for the feel of her kiss that still lingered.



Date: 02-07-10
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 24


Luckily the day was a bit warmer than it had been. Not by much, but lesser winds and a momentary break of snow fall counted for a lot. Vanessa had Ysa bundled up nice and warm and they were currently out at one of the flight cages with the exotic birds. Ysa was completely fascinated by the birds, so when the weather permitted, Van took her out to see them. They were standing outside the flight cage, Vanessa was in her usual winter coat with fur lined hood of dark blue, with Ysa seated on one arm, the other secured around her middle with her back to Van's chest. One of the more colorful birds had taken to talking to the infant, giving her reason to squeak and squeal and kick in delight.

Segan came bearing gifts. He drove one of the smaller horse drawn sleighs to deliver them. Mary had outdone herself, making tiny outfits in the few days, some she had stored away, since Ysa's arrival. There was a homemade swing for as she got older and a crank to allow it to move back and forth about an hour each time wound up. Blankets, diapers, all kinds of things in boxes. He pulled up outside the cottage before vacating the seat and reins as booted feet hit panked snow. Catching sight of Vanessa out at the cages, he headed there. A smile growing as he went. "Hello there my two ladies.."

Hearing the horse and sleigh approach, Vanessa turned enough to see the driver and smiled before turning towards him. Well, partially since Ysa was so taken with the birds. "Afternoon, Segan." Ysa continued her squealing and kicking as one of the parrots chirped little comments at her. She was going to be a handful when she realized what hands were for.

Catching sight of Ysa's antics had him laughing as Vanessa got a one arm hug and a stolen kiss before he got whacked by a flailing small hand. "Nicer day to be outside. How are you both?"

The one armed hug returned along with the kiss, she smiled up to him. "We are both well. A nicer day to be outside is welcome and luckily she's easy to please." Didn't take much to entertain Ysa during her time awake.

"I should take you both to the Celtic Gardens, they say it is like spring there all year round. The woodland Fae keep the gardens and sometimes they manifest if they like you. The hot springs are there too."

"Sounds wonderful. I'm sure Ysa would love it." Ysa was kicking and just babbling away to the bird, which had Vanessa laughing softly. "Shall we go inside? Would you like some tea?" Inquired to Segan of course.

Karina was cheerfully at work in one of the cages, despite the fact that it was extra mucky work today as the layer of frost on the ground was half-melted (and the bird 'presents' along with it). But she was whistling as she raked, her deceptively skinny arms working strongly to clear the ground as the birds of this cage flitted overhead. Her head was bare of a hat for the first time in weeks to enjoy the sun, though it was cold enough still to keep her bundled up well in her coat, scarf and tall boots.

"Something warm to drink. Yes. Oh, and I have boxes of baby things sent over by Grandmama. I think it's a hint to have you leave Ysa with her for some time of your own." Mary had a way of working around things to get her way. If thwarted she would just find another way about it. "Hey Skinny," calling out to Karina as he noted her there working hard, "good afternoon."

Brow quirked curiously, she smirked and shook her head. "Tell Yaya if she really wants Ysa, we'll arrange for a day when it's convenient to her." She was going to have to find a way to thank the woman for her kindness. She looked over to Karina and smiled. "You should come in and warm up, Karina. I'm going to fix some tea."

"Hey Ugly," Karina called back to Segan in return, but her tone was teasing and she was grinning. She paused to lean on the rake, the back of her hand going to scratch her brow. "I'll be in, in a minute," she answered Van. They could go on inside while she finished up out here.

A hand touched lightly along Van's arm before he was heading back to the sleigh to get the boxes, enough of them he would make two trips bringing them in and putting the four boxes on a table within the living room.

Once the two had gone inside Karina went back to work, whistling still as she idly wondered what Rhett might be doing.... though it wasn't a big question, he was probably working just like her. They both kept busy schedules and so she hadn't seen him in a few days. Maybe later she'd casually drop by the smithy... it was with that thought that she let herself out of the cage, locking it behind her before heading to put the rake away. A warm drink would be welcome after a couple hours spent outside.

Van followed out to the front of the cottage, but turned to move to the door so she could open it for Segan while he brought the boxes in. Then it was on to the kitchen where she had the basket of blankets set on the dining table to set Ysa in. Some water set to boil, then she went about unwrapping the baby from the layers and left her there to coo and croon to herself while tea was prepared.

Ysa gave a different feel to the cottage, feel of family to it. Odd how some things came about as Vanessa had started out alone, except for a few friends staying overnight. Which had him wondering, "how is your adopted brother doing?"

Stomping her boots off at the door, Karina headed inside. Straight to the kitchen, smiling at Segan along the way, she joined Van near the sink. Sleeves rolled up to wash her hands, important after the dirty work she'd been doing. "Boo." That said to the baby who was wriggling in the basket.

She looked over to Segan and shrugged. "I'm not sure. I haven't heard from him in quite some time. Comes with his desire to wander." Waiting for the water to boil, she set three mugs out and moved Ysa and her basket from the table to the floor. Ysa was focused on Karina, kicking and coo'ing happily. "I'm sure he's fine though. Probably buttoned down somewhere for the winter."

He gave Karina a swat on her way as an older brother would do. Grinning too as he listened to Vanessa's reply. Next he was over to play with Ysa as much as one could at her age while the two were at the sink.

Karina had adjusted quickly to Ysa's presence in the house and now, anyone could tell that she adored the infant. She'd already switched rooms with Van to take the loft, and while the extra privacy was nice in ways, Karina spent most of her time outside with the birds or downstairs with Vanessa and Ysa. Reaching for a towel to dry her hands, she smirked over her shoulder at Segan. "So it sounds like your clan is growin' even more."

What baby wasn't happy for the attention? Basket of various teas was set out with a smirk to Karina, and nod of agreement. "Aye. Quinns are going to be coming out of the wood work soon enough." Kettle of water was picked up and used to fill the three mugs, then taken back to the stove before she sat down to mix up her own mug of tea.

"Indeed, word gets around quick too." Luckily in a good way but it certainly traveled fast. "You should meet them." Eyeing her a moment wondering if possibly she had. "Liam and Ciaran, a good friend by the name of Evan Hunt, like a brother so he will be treated the same by us." He leaned in to make raspberry sounds against Ysa's belly which had her first sucking in a breath before a squeal of laughter followed.

"I already have. I was there in the tavern that night you met them too, thanks for noticing me." Her words sarcastic but she was just smirking as she watched Segan with Ysa. Likely then, as now he'd been too distracted by the baby to notice her. And then she had been half-asleep too and not said much to the three handsome young men. "Anyway, more family is always nice to have I guess." For the orphan it really was, just a guess!

Just wait until she learned how to grab onto hair and noses and ears, Segan! But he had her in bouts of laughter that sounded something akin to a lamb. Vanessa smirked and looked at Karina. "I knew you were there!" Had to count for something, right?

"That's right," he was having a memory lapse. A slight frown followed, he'd been doing too much lately in getting his ship ready for the trip. "As family we are going to help them out on a matter which will have me sailing to Barbados soon for a week or so and however long it takes us to get there." He would probably mix it with business too although he didn't like sailing the sea in winter for how rough it got.

"Really?" She glanced to Vanessa, wondering if her friend already knew about this little expedition. Blue-green eyes returning to Segan she commented, "Sounds like an adventure..." Hands dried, she went to tickle Ysa then had a seat at the table, dropping a teabag into her mug before wrapping her fingers around it.

There was also the newness of Ysa and had gotten a lot of his attention. It surprised himself how he was reacting around the little baby girl. This was the first he was mentioning it. They probably didn't know about he and Eion meeting them at the boxing ring when the three came clean to their real surname.

Brow quirked, she looked between the two curiously. No, she didn't know about his little expedition. "Seems a bit cold for sailing." At least in her opinion it did.

"Yes, but it can't be helped. Or more like to be able to help them, Eion especially, we will need to sail soon. I'm not sure exactly when other than in a day or few days. My crew is happy about the idea."

"Hopefully the weather holds for you." Winter storms were notorious on the high seas, even she knew that.

A slow nod given, she finally sipped from her mug slowly. "Aye, here's hoping the weather holds well for you while on the waters."

Which he had seen to his tea and now lifted it in good form of hopes for the same. "A swift trip without incident and I return to those I love." Taking a careful sip when done for it was fairly hot still. He knew where to find the potcheen to add some to it. Needed something and that would warm him even better.

"Why Barbados?" Karina held her hand out hopefully for Segan to share the potcheen, once he got the bottle.

A light smile given. "Certainly hope so. Yaya and I would make a scout party to search for you and the others." He was welcome to help himself to anything in the cottage. Ysa was getting fussy, so the mug was set down, she got up to get a bottle, then sat down to settle with Ysa and feed her.

"It's where they ran into a bit of trouble and a threat upon their relatives there." Giving enough but not giving too much as it was a private matter for the men he was sure. They had to be sure about them before coming clean. He put some of the potcheen in her tea too. She was old enough in his mind.

Huzzah! Glad he wasn't taking the big brother thing too far.... though he'd be appalled to know that she'd been drinking the stuff since a young age. A quick grin to thank Segan before taking a long sip of the improved brew. Ahh. She nodded to his answer, "Well, don't get into too much trouble," another grin.

He already figured that one out and the fact he's seen her drinking before too. "I wont be getting into any woman troubles, cause I got one I hold dear already." Which was one of the things he and Conor had gotten into when they had gone to rescue Eion in an English dungeon. "Would you like me to make a child's playground area in the back once spring has come long enough to have the earth not too wet, Vanessa?"

Vanessa was just quietly listening. She could understand wanting to help relatives and the threat against them kind of thing. Lopsided grin to Karina's comment, and blushed lightly to Segan's following comment. Ysa was in that place of a happy full belly, eyes half lidded between awake and asleep. "Only if you let me help you." Smile flashed to Segan, the bottle was set down and Ysa was picked up and held to burb.

"Not really what I meant.." but she murmured it with a smirk. Leaning back in her chair, she held her mug with both hands and allowed herself to lapse out of their conversation for a few moments while they made plans and her
thoughts wandered.

"Of course, I will need help and figured you would want to. I can make a picnic bench or two to have out there too for the adults to sit at when not being a kid with the kid." Grinning with the implications.

She smirked back to him and nodded. "Sounds like a date come this spring then." The gardens were going to be filled with all sorts of fun things before too long. Birds, playground, picnic area.

"Date then and hopefully many between." Which had him thinking that he usually showed up here a lot and that he should arrange for Grams to watch Ysa so he could take Vanessa out for an afternoon or evening.

"Here's hoping." Another smile flashed, she settled Ysa in the crook of her arm to put her to sleep. "Going to stay for dinner tonight?" She already had most of the dinner stuff set out, having done that before taking Ysa out to see the birds.

"I would be most pleased to be invited to dinner." Sounding so very proper but that bit of humor to gleam in blue eyes gave him away. "What are we having?" Glancing to Karina and back, "there is enough?" Skinny ate like a horse.

Skinny's thoughts had wandered off into their own dimension, but not enough so to prevent her from hearing that comment from Segan. She didn't have anything handy to throw at him so instead, she just stuck out her tongue. So the time was spent in banter until parting after dinner.



Date: 03-10-10
Poster: Karina
Post # 25

Pillow Talk

Karina had vanished for nearly the whole of this Sunday, whisked off by Rhett just after her morning chores for a date they had been planning for awhile. Or rather, it seemed as if Rhett had been planning it for awhile, everything from the sled ride to the lobster supper, the Celtic Gardens and the warm springs. It had been a magical day, one of the most memorable in her life, yet her thoughts weighed heavy as she walked up the pathway to the cottage door. The moon was high overhead, the hour later than she'd realized.. much later than she ought to have been returning. She eased open the door, wincing at the tiny creak, and slipped inside, shutting the door just as carefully behind her. The cottage was dim for the late hour and she slid out of her coat, scarf and mittens, every movement slow and wary to cause the least amount of noise. She didn't want to wake Vanessa or the baby. With her layers hung up she bent to unlace her boots, then crept on tiptoes in her stocking feet over to the sitting area. She ought to go straight to bed, but her mind was too full for sleep, so she stirred up the coals and then flopped down into one of the comfy chairs. She still held the rose he'd given her, and twirled its stem absently between her fingers as she settled back into her seat.

Oh....there was a good chance that Vanessa was up and about. She usually didn't go to sleep any too early, staying up to tend to little things and mending and writing in her journal and such. Tonight was no different, though she wasn't in her room. She was in the kitchen, which was held in dim candle light, preparing a couple of bottles for Ysa, which were set in the window to keep cold until she was ready for them. Hearing the door open, she leaned over the counter enough to see Karina come in, shed some layers, and then leave her view holding a rose. Naturally, Van couldn't help but smile. It wasn't until she heard the stirring of the coals that she spoke up while wrapping up the open end of the last bottle. "Your cheeks are almost as red as that rose." Spoken just loud enough to be heard, hopefully without startling Karina.

Soft as Vanessa's voice was, Karina nearly jumped out of the chair in her startlement. Her head turned quickly to see Vanessa standing there, eyes wide for a second until she gave a slight laugh. "Oh.. yeah..." A bit of a smile as she held up the rose slightly, before dropping it back down to her lap. "Thought ya were asleep." Said to explain her surprised reaction. Though Van did keep strange hours these days, with Ysa to tend to. Perhaps she shouldn't have been shocked that she was awake, though Karina had half-hoped she wouldn't be caught sneaking back home at such an hour.

Vanessa wasn't going to say anything about the hour. Karina was about the same age, and Van wasn't her mother, but her friend. "I decided to make a couple bottles for Ysa before going to bed." Finishing what she was doing, she filled a kettle with water to boil for some tea. "Lovely rose. Can I guess who it's from?" A little grin, sure it was from Rhett. He and Karina had taken a rather obvious interest in one another.

Again Karina gave that slight laugh and smile, offering Van a bit of a sheepish shrug. She knew her friend knew exactly who it was from. Looking down at the rose a moment, she twirled it against the pads of her fingers. "He took me on a sled ride to the Celtic Gardens. Brought a picnic dinner and everything." Yes... a fantastic day up until she'd gone and tainted it. Which was why she wasn't glowing as she had been some hours ago. A faint smile was about her face but it looked more wistful than thrilled.

Vanessa watched her friend quietly for a moment. Even as shy as Karina tended to be, she didn't seem excited about the time she'd had with Rhett. Leaving the water to heat up, she went to Karina was sitting and sat across from her. "Sounds like a lovely day. Why are you not thrilled about it?" Brows knit slightly. "He didn't do something you wished him not to, did he?" Not that she thought Rhett to be the sort, and certainly wasn't accusing him of anything, but she wanted to be sure. She'd never knowingly let anything bad happen to Karina.

"No... no." She quickly shook her head to reassure her friend that it wasn't anything like that. "He didn't do anything. He was... perfect. The whole day was perfect." There was a pause as she looked down at the rose again. The old Karina probably would have gotten up and gone to bed to avoid further discussion but... she just squirmed and went on instead. "He asked me to be his girl." She added that softly. The smile gone from her face now as she twiddled with the dark crimson flower.

Vanessa nodded to the assurance that Rhett had been a gentleman and continued to listen. Brow quirked curiously at the confession, still watching Karina. "What's wrong with that? You like him, do you not?"

"Yes I like him," she answered almost defensively, throwing up her hands as if to emphasize. She met Vanessa's eyes then, hoping her friend might understand her explanation where Rhett had not. "But really, can you see the two of us together? I mean, he's this... wonderful man, he's going places, you know? And what am I. Barely off the streets and with folks still there who know my name." That was rather vague but her face darkened. "I had to tell him I couldn't be his."

Brow remained quirked as Karina gave her explanation, and thought it over. On some level, she could understand, though it probably wasn't the level Karina might have hoped for. "Of course I can see the two of you together. He's a wonderful man, and he's going places, he's also a few years older than you are, so he's had a bit more time than you have. But look at you. You're cleaning up your past as best you can, you've got a job that you love, a real residence and a good guy who likes you and wants you to be his girl. Everything has to start at the beginning, Karina. Beginnings create direction."

Nope, Vanessa didn't get it either. Not that it was her fault, but Karina wasn't eager to explain it all over again. In fact, she would avoid explaining it at all costs, considering Rhett's concerned reaction. She didn't want her friend getting all worked up over it too. So she just ground her teeth together and said nothing for a moment. A new track taken when she spoke again. "Maybe he likes me now but I'm all wrong for him. He's gonna see that eventually." Listening to herself speak so callously, part of Karina wondered what was wrong with her. The rest of her insisted that it was better this way.

Vanessa continued to look at her quietly. She didn't say anything right away. Just twisted her mouth into a sideways expression of thought. And since Karina didn't seem to be paying much attention, she was going to get thwapped with a pillow. Not hard of course, but it was a good throw to hit her with the soft item from the back of the chair. "Now you listen to me, Karina! Get your head out from whatever rock you have it buried under. If Rhett likes you, and you like him, then let things happen the way they will. You have absolutely no right to make this decision for him, so you might as well follow your heart and see where it leads. Now, would you like some tea?" She smiled sweetly and stood up to go back to the stove.

Ack, what the hell?! She threw up an arm reflexively to protect her head, but by then the pillow had bounced off harmlessly and to the floor. Leaning over to snatch it up, she tossed it back towards Vanessa along with a scowl. "And you have no right to tell me what to do!" Arms crossing against her chest as she huffed and turned her eyes back to the hearth. "I did it for him. To help him." She muttered with a stubborn set of her jaw. If the hour hadn't been so late and Ysa not been asleep upstairs, she might've flown into a temper, but she resisted that urge now. Barely.

Van caught the pillow when it was thrown back at her, by that point she was standing up. "He's a grown man." Spoken calmly with a grin of mischief right before she thwapped Karina with the pillow again. "I'm fairly sure he's capable of making his own decisions." Thwapped again, but this was clearly an act of child-like hopeful fun since she was smiling. "And you like him..." Another light thwap. " why deny yourself what you know you want?!"

"Stop that!" Karina jumped to her feet and took a step back to fend off any more blows from the pillow. It was just as clear that Karina was nowhere near laughing about this. "You don't understand, alright? You think I'm just bein', what, shy or something, is that it? That isn't it, and you don't know anything about it, so stop acting like you do!" So much for controlling her temper. By now her emotions were dangling by a thin thread and Vanessa's teasing, as good-natured as it was, nearly made the thread snap. Cheeks flushed again and hands nearly balling at her sides as she glared at Vanessa.

Vanessa stopped and looked at Karina when her temper got the better of her. The pillow was tossed onto a chair, she took the few steps to where Karina stood. "Karina, I wasn't trying to make fun of what you're going through but Rhett knows what's good for him. Maybe he's just willing to take the chance. You can't fault him for that. I know you like him. A lot. If you don't give him the chance to decide for himself, and you don't give yourself the chance to see what could be, then you're going feel worse than you do now. You're going to live with the What If and What If lasts an entire life time."

"Aaaaagh," the frustrated sound rolled from her throat as she half-turned as if to go. "You think I don't know that?" She moved around the chair she'd been sitting in. "You don't get it, Vanessa, alright? There's more to it than that, and I know what I'm doing. So quit meddling."  Without going into the big explanation that's really all there was to say. Vanessa's words of regret would be ringing in her ears all night and that only made the ugly reality harder to bear. She made for the stairs and quickly jogged up them, heading for her lofted bedroom.

Vanessa stood there and listened to Karina. Part of her wanted to be offended, another part wanted to be hurt, but the larger part of her figured that Karina was more frustrated than anything, so Vanessa let it go with a soft sigh as Karina took her leave. She watched Karina up go up to the loft and just shook her head. "I'm sorry!" called up the stairs before she went and took the water off the fire and just decided to retire to her room for the night.


Date: 03-12-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 26

Needed Talk

With warmer weather finally beginning to set in during the day, Vanessa had been spending most of the time with Ysa and Karina around the gardens, getting them prepared and cleaned for planting and growth. Most of the heavier snows were gone and the gardens were looking better, but the mornings were prettiest with the sparkle of frost covering everything when the sun rose.  Karina was out doing whatever it was she did when not there, Vanessa and Ysa were just now finishing up supper, which Vanessa set a plate aside for when Karina got home. Most of the ground floor was lit up by some means of light since both Van and the babe were awake and moving around. Ysa was set in her nest of blankets on the floor before the hearth, batting at small toys that hung from a cloth covered arch to keep her entertained. Her giggles and squeals could easily be heard, which Vanessa was grateful for. Meant she knew what the babe was doing and where she was.

The more Rhett thought on his date with Karina, for certainly he considered it a date, the more confused he became over it. Like one plucked the petals of a daisy, she likes me, she likes me not. That saying kept playing over and over in his mind to a point of distraction. Dangerous distraction as he worked forging swords and finally set them aside before he either cut or burnt himself. Just as desperately, he needed someone to talk to. In the past it had always been his brother Douglas he turned to. He was ruled out for his inexperience with women. If he asked his father's advice, or mother's, then they would want to know all about Karina and pretty much assume they were together. He was not ready for that with only one date. It was not a question of him being ashamed but assumptions. He took to walking and that walk had him headed for the Avian Gardens. He caught sight of Karina leaving for one of her walks and was about to follow her, catch up, when another idea hit instead. Vanessa was her closest family, a good woman, that knew about them or the start of them, if one was to put a 'them' to it and found his feet taking him to the front door instead giving it a few knocks. He stepped back and waited obviously very nervous as he removed his hat thinking on it and kept running the brim between fingers and palm in a nervous tic.

Dishes were cleaned, dried and put away, Vanessa went about setting up for a couple of bottles for Ysa for the night to keep in the window for when she was ready when the knock came on the door. "One moment." Called towards the door as she dried her hands. She couldn't imagine who it was that would come calling this late except Segan, but he knew well enough he was welcome to come in. Apron was untied from around her waist and laid over a chair back, she went to the door with a glance to Ysa who was now chewing on her toes. Apparently she'd discovered she had feet. Smiling a bit, the door was opened with a peek outside and small blink of surprise. "Good eve, Rhett." She was indeed surprised to see him, but stepped back to pull the door open fully. "Come in."

Hands went into a cold sweat, much like that day he was chosen to fight to the death. A matter of pride and a whole battle depending on his expertise in keeping Sir Aiden alive more than himself. "I hope I .. I am not disturbing," pauses as this was a whole new step for him. "Good eve, Vanessa." Swinging back mentally as he grasped for what to say even with her invitation of which he stepped in as she stepped back inside. Seeing to the door, "I know Karina has taken her walk. I wanted to talk to you." Feeling the heat creeping up his neck as he quickly amended, "about Karina." Wondering there for a moment if Segan was here as a quick darting glance was given the room. If  he was, he still needed to talk but had kind of hoped to keep it down to a minimum until he knew what to do.

Brow quirked upward with a gentle shake of her head. "Not at all." Then offered him a small smile and motioned towards the kitchen so she could finish with Ysa's bottles. "Come sit down and we'll talk. Would you like something to drink?" Another glance to Ysa who was happy on the nest of blankets, gumming on her toes, then into the kitchen. "Have a seat." It wasn't hard to tell that Rhett was either nervous or upset. Hopefully it was the first of the two. Upset wouldn't do at all.

The rigid line of his shoulders relaxed a notch as he followed her into the kitchen and a chair pulled out to sit upon. He set his Stetson on the table before he completely ruined the creasing in it. "I'm fine," in response to something to drink as he wasn't sure he'd not spill it on himself at the moment. "I .. I don't know who else to talk to that can help me. I am not sure if Karina likes me much other than a friend, which is fine," he quickly amended not to be taken wrong, "but I can't tell. Seems she does but then says she doesn't. Thinks she is not good enough for me because of her past." Which he didn't know but added his thought, "I wasn't judging our relationship on her past. She said I didn't understand and I still don't after she explained some." Finally taking a deep breath as he got to the point of why he came to talk about it, "it is confusing how she feels but that becomes a mote point when she implied that her life is in danger by ones from her past. I got the impression they will come here after her and she doesn't want any of us getting hurt. She thinks she is the only one that knows how to deal with them, that they have ways of harming others we would not know how to handle. As much as I know little of her past, and admitted that, she as much doesn't know what I can handle or not, or what any others here that care about her can do or not do. Because of that, I think she just doesn't want me involved much with her or her life but the fact I know she could be in danger, I needed to talk to someone." And here he finally clamped his lips shut in a pressed way but not a smile. He felt he got most of all of it out in one rant before he forgot anything.

Vanessa went about preparing the bottles and filling them with fresh milk while listening to Rhett. Vanessa knew as much about Karina's past as Rhett did, or that's how she felt, and that was fine. She always figured that Karina would tell her if and when the time was right, and never pushed it. Except perhaps the time Karina returned with a broken lip. While Rhett explained, Vanessa thought back on a couple nights past and the sort of, not really conversation that she and Karina had. Leaving the bottles, she turned to look at Rhett, quietly for a moment of thought before speaking. "Karina likes you. I would dare say that she likes you very much. She worries about her past catching up with her a great deal. We had spoken of her past when I asked that she move into the cottage with me. She never really goes into great detail regarding her past, but those involved are dangerous. I ... feel that her concerns are justified enough to make her fearful that if her past catches up with her, it would do harm to those she's grown to care about."


"Aye, that is what I am saying. Except I feel she may think she is not safe even here from those of her past. I never dated one before Karina, and I'm left confused. I'm not sure what to do. Leave her alone until she comes around and tells me differently, if not too long." He had sworn he'd never let a lass leave him hanging on indefinitely like he'd seen on some others. "I know she cares, as I care but in the same breath she tells me we can never be anything more."

Vanessa smiled softly and moved to the table to sit across from Rhett. "Karina came back after your date a couple nights past, holding onto that rose you gave her. I honestly can't say I know of her past any better than anyone else here. As much as I wish she would speak about it, she doesn't. It wouldn't be fair for me to say one way or the other what I think you should do. The only thing I can tell you comfortably is that she does like you and she does care. I think perhaps she needs to know that you'll be there if she truly wants you there, but you have to decide to be there, and allow her to decide if she's comfortable with that. Take things slow, and let the winds guide you, Rhett." She paused for a moment. "I told Karina that if you want to be there for her, she can't make that choice for you. And if you want to be there, don't let her make that decision."

"I hope I am not over reacting for all such being new to me and not certain what to do. I think you should know and the others that care for her that there is a possible danger that could follow her, so it doesn't come as a surprise. To keep an eye out even if not telling her." He wasn't sure how to put it but felt it urgent to do so. "I will take your advice to take it slow, be more a friend." Which reminded him he had one date before Karina but it was an Attendant Services one. A lass that was part devil and Karina had her beat in that department!

A nod was given to the warning. "Yes, Karina's given me the warning as well. It was given the night I asked that she stay here with me. I told her that whatever came to the door, we would deal with it then if it came to the door and not a moment before that, and that she was safer even in my company than alone." Vanessa couldn't fight, but at least Karina wasn't alone and that was important.

Fingers ran through the thick spiky curls as he listened. The motion then stopped, "aye, I am pleased she is in your company and with Segan around a lot.." like maybe he wasn't needed but that didn't stop him asking, " if someone or ones came to the door, would you let me know so I can help? I am a knight." Which may be something Vanessa didn't know, he wasn't sure if Karina realized it either being he didn't go around saying such because of decisions and circumstances. He was rising from his seat as he would not keep her either. He had barged in on her time plus the fact that Karina could walk through that door at any moment.


Another smile dawned to Rhett with a nod. "I will let you know." It didn't surprise her much that he was a knight. When he rose from his seat, she stood. "I think you should join us for dinner one night soon when I can get Segan freed for a night to join us all." Oooh...Karina was going to ring her neck, but that was okay. Vanessa just smiled. "Would you like something warm to drink for your walk?"

Karina enjoyed her evening ramble as she always did, for it gave her some time in the open air to clear her head. Though her own decisions and what had transpired in the Celtic Gardens still weighed on her mind heavily, the walks helped relax her some. But she'd had enough of her alone time for the night. plus the sun was dipping beneath the horizon, chasing away the last of the day's warmth. So she came back up to the cottage, knocking the mud from her boots against the stoop and calling out as she opened the door. "Vanessa? I think we're gonna need a new lock on the parrots' cage, they've been pickin' at it and - Oh." During the course of her speech she'd taken off her coat and scarf, and walked across the den into the kitchen, where she now stood, blinking in surprise at Rhett. "..What.. are you doing here?" She didn't seem angry, just taken aback.


"I would like that, to come to dinner," barely responding as he turned on a heel hearing Karina. Surprise evident in bright blue eyes as brows lifted. He had already gone over if Karina came before he had left in what to say. "I was out for a walk," all true, "and it had me here so I decided to stop in, see if you were around." Which was bending it some but definitely true for after his talk with Vanessa which was done. Pressed smile followed as he watched her closely.

Vanessa nodded to Rhett and looked to Karina with a small smile. "I invited him out of the cold for a bit. Perhaps now that you are here, he'd like to stay for a while?" Curious glance to Rhett, then to Karina. "I will take care of the lock tomorrow when I go into the square. We'll have to devise something more clever to keep the birds from ruining it."


"Oh." She said again, seeming to accept his explanation, which wasn't really all that suspicious after all. Though she wasn't sure what she ought to be feeling after the way they'd parted last... what she WAS feeling was glad to see him. Distracted, she looked back to Van and nodded. "Aye, I've got some ideas, there's this type of lock I've seen that I think will be sturdy enough.." What was she doing talking about work with Rhett still standing there? Ack, she glanced back to Rhett once more. "Um... do you want some tea or anything... want to sit over by the hearth?" She'd never hosted somebody in her own place before and it was a rather odd feeling, playing the hostess.. but despite her uncertainty she was hoping he did want to stay.


"Aye, some tea or cocoa." He would leave the choice with her. Although with the near caught, potcheen came to mind but he didn't really need any tonight. "Here or by the hearth, I don't mind either, so what you would like. What is more comfortable. I wont be staying too long enough time for a drink." Almost reassuring her for how nervous she seemed.

Vanessa just smiled quietly and returned to the counter to fill the bottles and set them in the window. "There's plenty of left over supper if you're both hungry." A bottle she'd made a while ago that remained at room temperature was picked up, she turned to go to the den. "I'm going to go put Ysa to bed. It was nice to see you, Rhett." Out she went to gather the babe and take her off to the nursery room to put her to sleep.

Strangely enough Karina was thinking the same about the potcheen. "Oh - no - I mean... you can stay as long as you like." She reassured him right back, lips quirking in a tentative smile. Glancing to Vanessa when she left, Karina waved her good-night and then looked back to Rhett. Oh... right... drinks. "Um... if you wanna go sit out by the hearth I'll bring some tea right out." She sounded slightly more decisive now as she nodded and offered him a crooked little smile.

"It was nice seeing you again, Vanessa. I look forward to that dinner. Send word when and what time." Standing still before moving off to the hearth as Karina got the drinks. Probably a good moment for her to catch her breath figuratively too. The awkward moment seemed to be passing which had a silent breath exhaled as he relaxed more. "How was your day?" Lifting his voice to travel from the living area to the kitchen. "A splash of potcheen in the tea if you have any?"

Wait. Dinner? She blinked, looking over her shoulder at that, but by then both Vanessa and Rhett had gone from sight. Her brows knitted briefly but right now she had other concerns on her mind. When Rhett left the room she knelt to open up the cupboard beneath the sink, reaching within to find the potcheen bottle. It was mainly kept there for Segan's visits though Karina nipped from it occasionally too. The bottle popped off, she took a small swig, then straightened to Rhett's voice. The fact that he asked for potcheen while she held it guiltily in her hands, she couldn't help the grin at that as she walked back out into the den, carrying a tray with two steaming tea cups, and the potcheen bottle. "Already on that." A little smirk as she set one teacup down beside him, then one by the chair she'd sit in; their chairs shared the same table. She held the potcheen out for him to take. "My day was... you know. A normal day." She gave a slight shrug, watching as he poured the potcheen, then dropped her voice to speak more seriously. "I'm glad you're here." With the way she met his eyes it was clear she meant it.

He took the bottle as she spoke, listening as he automatically added a good dose to his tea then set the bottle aside. Blue eyes were intense that met and held hers captive. Not a word for a long moment before the pressed smile showed again. "I'm glad to be here and that you had a normal day." He too meant it and decided if he wanted to know the truth, he needed to read the actions over the words where Karina was concern. "Spring is coming, the snow is melting, the ground is getting softer, soon there will be crocus, the first small flowers before the snow is completely gone."

That intense eye contact had her heart skipping a beat or two, and she would have gotten lost in it had he not spoken up again. Reaching for the potcheen, she just barely resisted the impulse to take a swig straight from the bottle, and instead poured a shot into her tea cup. Nodding at his words, a smile came naturally to her lips at the thought. "I saw a bit of green poking up today, beneath a tree where it must've gotten some shelter from the snow. Spring won't be long." It felt like it had been such a long winter... but also short in some ways. Karina swirled her tea around in the cup to mix in the alcohol. "Listen, Rhett..." She took a breath. Though his arrival was unexpected she'd been trying to think of what to say to him ever since their date, and now attempted to recall the cogent speech she'd written in her head. A useless endeavor, instead her words just came out improvised. "I didn't mean to offend you or.. or make you think I didn't care. It's not that, it's just - I don't know... I don't ever know what to expect and I feel like it's not fair to make you a part of those threats.." Her lips twisted abashedly as she glanced up. "I only said all that to.. protect you. I just don't want to see anything bad happen to you because of me, if that happened I'd.." she trailed off with a shake of her head.

He was enjoying the tea, no wonder for what was in it. Eyes watched the while as she spoke, listening quietly. Quiet was a normal place for Rhett to go. His talk with Vanessa was probably the most he ever spoke, especially in near one sentence, to a lass. The tea cup was set down soon as he heard the more serious tone. Almost coming to 'attention' as called by the King to his knights when needed. He too had been thinking a lot, although getting him more confused before he talked with Vanessa, cleared up some anyway. "I would not say you offended me. You do confuse me." Being real honest here, "I wasn't sure if, well.." pausing, "if you like me more as just a friend, not that there is anything wrong with that," this is where he would be tripping over his own feet trying to explain, "I don't want to offend you. I'm new at all this and don't know the rules or guidelines if there are any. I think they are experience and learn as you go and I feel like I'm fumbling." Then on a more serious note. "Threats on people you care about, well, they are threats on you too even if indirectly. If you loved someone that was threatened and those threats were realized and something bad happened to them, it happens to you too. Way it is. I would not change it to not knowing you. If I did, then those other people win and I'm not one that likes to lose to such people." His words lowering even if filled with passion for he didn't want to disturb Vanessa with the baby.

The first thing she registered was surprise, when he said he wasn't sure if she liked him. Karina had been ever so careful throughout to not act like some stupid love-struck girl, but even so... did he really not realize how crazy she was about him? Her response slipped out before she could think about it, "Do you think I kiss everyone I know like that?" Her natural joking habit fueled by the potcheen... a crooked smirk offered after. She meant it though. "I'm new at all this too, and... I never really thought I'd have to worry about caring for someone else's safety, honestly." Eyes dipped away for a brief moment, falling upon the potcheen bottle. Screw the tea. She uncorked the bottle and took a small swig, then held it out for Rhett with a faint smirk. She had a feeling he might want some more too. She was reflecting about what he'd said, about it affecting him either way, either directly or indirectly. "I never really thought about it like that.." she admitted quietly and it sounded almost like a grudging surrender. A slight sigh expelled as she looked up again to meet his eyes, not sure where to go from here.

Well, he hadn't really thought about it in that way and thinking on it the response came in a definite tone. "No, I don't think you'd kiss anyone that you didn't really want to kiss a lot. Not just a passing wonder." Rhett had natural insecurities just like anyone else. He took the bottle and a good direct swig from it too before handing it back. Tomorrow Vanessa and she would find a case of it left on their doorstep. "Aye, it is, why I would like to help if the time ever comes. Hopefully it wont and this be a mote point but a good point to know, aye?" He finished off what was left of his tea too as it was moving to luke-warm.

"Yeah... hopefully it won't." She looked up to him again and offered a half-smile, genuine for all it was small. In that moment she really thought that day might never come. Or she wanted to believe so anyway. Taking the potcheen back she took another swig herself before setting it down on the table. The drink was making her feel a little woozy and making her tongue loosen. "The reason I got so mad about it is 'cause I do care, alright? And I never have felt like that about another person before, so... sometimes I just don't really know what to do about it." A slight sheepish laugh. Not the most eloquent speech but entirely true. "Your fault." She added the accusation on a lower note with a brief grin that said she was only kidding.

He wasn't the most eloquent speaker either so she was speaking his language. The honesty behind her words were what reached him best. He was up from his seat and over to hers only to bring her up into his arms. "Allow those who care about you to care. Warn them of anything that might bring you or them harm for their caring, trust in them for there are a few here, Karina, who care very much for you." One arm around her shoulders and back while the other hand cupped her cheek. Held this close as blue eyes could burn to her very soul with the intensity behind his words. "I do understand, so I hope you can understand me too." Maybe making that connection, one she was not use to which he was. He knew his brothers and sisters, mother and father, friends would all go to bat for him if he was in danger. "I care too," and that was followed by a searing kiss as head tilted and lips met. Classic moment if Vanessa happened down to get something for the baby!


Her heart started beating faster when he came over to wrap her up in that embrace, which felt natural and comforting and exciting all at once. Her gaze was captured easily by his own intense one, staring back into his eyes as she absorbed his words. Just now she could believe in them... and trust in them. It shouldn't have been a shocking realization, the reminder that people did care about her, but it was. Of course she'd known that already but never had the point been reiterated so soundly. She just nodded slightly when he asked her to understand too, wordlessly agreeing that she did, and then she was swept up in that kiss that she would have initiated herself had he not. Arms wrapping about his neck as the liplock was returned just as fiercely. Even shifting some in her stance to get closer. Yep, she had completely forgotten where she was...

She was wrapped up good as the kiss intensified seemingly of its own accord and he as much being swept away in the strong current. Kissy sounds would be heard in the quiet of the house if one were listening! Couldn't be helped, even the easing off had nibbling and smaller kisses from the fullness of her lips to the corners then up and to her nose. "I better go now," not something she would understand but for a man if they stayed they would be wanting far more. There was a point of no return which she would not understand so the excuse she would came easily, "I need to be on the king's field tomorrow by dawn." Not quite giving up her being in his arms.

Not something she would understand?! Au contraire.... even if he didn't think it was something she'd be thinking of. Street kids learned the birds and the bees young. Busily devouring his lips, she felt the loss of the kiss suddenly, eyes reluctant to open and end it. Instead she kept her arms snugly wound about him and laid her head against his neck. "Do you have to?" She murmured it against his shirt playfully, even if her reluctance to let him go was real.

"I don't want to," of course he didn't and if he kept kissing her.. well.. best his mind didn't even go there right now, "but I have to." Still reluctant to ease from the hug but finally started to disentangle, slow but sure. "I will see you soon." Not really asking but a statement. "You know where to find me," least most of the time.

She pretended to be grouchy when he insisted on pulling away, letting him go slowly as he towered above her. Head tilting back to look at him, she nodded and let a smile surface fully to her lips. "Maybe I'll come find you sometime then." She suggested almost mischievously. Certainly there was a glint in her deep sea-green eyes.

"Yes, as the flowers bloom in the meadow soon." Stealing one last kiss for it was too irresistible not to and then he was decisively heading for the door while he still had his mind about him to see it through. Hand on the knob as he turned with a wink and pressed smile, moment suspended, then was out the door and gone, heading into the night to be back and get some rest. He had a long day ahead of him but certainly left calmer than he had arrived on the other matter.


She lifted her face for that last kiss, and would have happily made it last, had he not whisked himself off without delay. She watched him go, returning his last smile with a crooked grin of her own. When the door closed behind him she was stealing across the room to perch on the windowsill to watch him walk away. Sigh. Heading back to the armchair, she flopped down into it... also feeling much better about things in general. Of course, in the morning it would occur to her that she still didn't want him meddling in her affairs, if only for his own safety.. but for now she was just glowing.



Date: 03-26-10
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 27


It was an absolutely beautiful day. Sun was shinning, birds were out and the very first signs of spring were popping up here and there with spots of green grass and little buds on the trees and gardens were finally decently dry! And in the gardens was where Vanessa could be found right at the moment. Even Ysa was enjoying the warmth. Vanessa was out in one of the flower beds, cleaning and turning the dirt to get ready for planting. Ysa was on a big blanket spread out not far from the flower bed with a small tent like covering over her to keep the sun out of her eyes and a bunch of toys spread out around her. She was learning to roll over and no doubt would soon be crawling everywhere!

Karina was outside as well, relishing the sun on her face and the chirping of the birds all around them. There was so much life popping up everywhere, from the buds in the ground to the insects zipping through the air, she couldn't help but feel cheerful. She whistled as she put the rake away in the shed and peeled off her work gloves, then minced across the yard. "Whooooooo's my little rugrat?" That of course was said in singsong to Ysa, as Karina crouched down on the blanket to peer inside the tent. She let out a chuckle as Ysa laboriously rolled over and waved her arms around, eventually latching onto Karina's finger. "She's getting so big," she said to Vanessa. Ysa's development was a source of fascination for Karina, something new noticed everyday.

Ysa was growing like a weed in Vanessa's opinion. Everyday she was doing something new and different. Vanessa paused her working in the dirt to look at Karina and Ysa with a smile. "She is getting big. She seems so ready to start moving on her own." She'd gotten good at pushing herself up on her hands, belly down, and trying to kick herself to get somewhere. Ysa was all giggles and trying to gnaw on Karina's finger. No teeth yet! Up from the ground, she went over to join Karina and Ysa on the blanket after dusting her skirts off. "And so very fond of her aunt Karina." Yup, auntie Karina!

Karina made little gnawing sounds herself at Ysa, allowing the infant to drool harmlessly all over her hand. A snicker was given at the moniker Van used, though as always there was that pleased look about her features at being called Aunt. The implication of course being that she was part of a family. "Do you really think she'll be able to crawl and walk soon? She's growing but still seems so little.." Since Karina knew nothing about babies she often asked questions like that of Vanessa.

Once most of the dirt was brushed from her skirts, she knelt on the blanket but didn't interrupt the moment between Karina and Ysa. It was good to see. Especially after all the worry Vanessa'd had about having Ysa there with her and Karina. "Oh, I have no doubt she'll be crawling soon. She seems ready. Just has to figure out how to get her legs up under herself. We're going to have to do some child proofing around the cottage to keep her safe." Ysa would be into everything. Most of what she was worried about were the stairs and the stone ledge around the fire place.

Karina giggled and wiped off her hand on the blanket, then reached inside the tent, scooping up the infant beneath the armpits. Ysa was settled on her knee and bounced lightly. "It'll be funny to see her walking around on her own.."

Yesa wasn't letting go of Karina's finger quit so easily. Strong grasp, but it was worth it to be picked up. Both grabby hands went out and started waving around. Vanessa laughed a bit and nodded. "Aye. It'll be something to see. Though I'm sure we'll be seeing it from behind because we'll be chasing her down."

That mental image had Karina laughing too. "I wonder if all babies are this much trouble. Or is it just you who causes trouble? Hmm?" That spoken to Ysa teasingly as she gave the babe another bounce on her knee. It was times like this Karina could forget other cares and worries... with the sun shining and Ysa smiling toothlessly the rest of it melted away.

Ysa kicked and waved her arms around, squealing kind of loud, but it was a happy sound. Vanessa snickered. "Trouble or not, I can't imagine not having her here." She leaned over, burying her face against the side of Ysa's neck, blowing raspberries to make her laugh.

"I can't imagine that either." She'd never admit it aloud, but sometimes it was nice to have something small and warm to snuggle. She did so now, setting Ysa down in her lap and wrapping an arm around the infant's stomach to hold her gently upright against Karina's abdomen. Resting her cheek briefly against the baby's downy head she mopped some drool from Ysa's chin.

No doubt that Ysa was a loved child. Happy for the snuggles, she might have gotten a hand in Karina's hair to slobber up. "I'm going to write her majesty and request to legally adopt Ysabeau. I think it's only proper." Van picked up one of the rattles and held it out, Ysa batted at it playfully, giggling.

The turquoise of her eyes lifted to Vanessa at that, a bit surprised though she shouldn't have been. It did seem only proper and Karina was glad to hear it. Nevertheless the topic left Karina quiet instead of replying. One thing was for sure, Ysa was a darn lucky little baby, she thought as she gently disentangled tiny fingers from her curls.

Ysa was lucky. She had a lot of love, and that included from Karina. She couldn't stand the thought of something happening because of lacking legal jargon and losing Ysa to it. "I think on one of these warm days, we should take Ysa out to the lake. maybe have a picnic?" Asking Karina because she wanted Karina to go with them.

"That sounds real nice. I bet she'll love watching the birds flying around." Which would be returning to the lake now that the weather was growing warmer. "Maybe Segan would like to come. And, I dunno, maybe Rhett or someone might wanna join us too." Her tone utterly casual as she straightened Ysa's little jumper she wore.

Casual...riiiight. Vanessa tried to hide the grin; she nodded. "I'm sure they'd both enjoy that. We should plan something like that. We can have a nice picnic, maybe take a badminton net and things with us."


Phew! At least Van hadn't harped on her 'casual' suggestion. Karina dared to look back up at her friend now and bobbed a nod. "And lots of toys for Ysa. That'll be nice." She took a breath of the warm fresh air, released it on a sigh. "I'm glad Spring is here at last. It sure took long enough!"

Van wasn't going to give Karina a hard time about Rhett. She was happy to see Karina and Rhett together. Moving closer, she held her hands out for Ysa. "I am too. Not that the winter isn't lovely, but it's nice to be outside and getting the gardens ready for growth. Just outside in general."

Karina handed Ysa over to Van, carefully lifting the baby under the arms and passing her off. She watched Van settle in with Ysa with a soft smile. "Right... nice to be outside and not feel like your fingers or nose are gonna freeze off." She grinned a bit and got more comfortable on the blanket, flopping down to lay on her side facing Van, head propped up by one hand.

"I was just thinking the exact same thing." In regards to frozen fingers and noses. Taking Ysa, she settled on her hip and laid Ysa against her leg. "I was thinking we should have an Easter egg hunt. What do you think?" Looking to Karina while Ysa occupied herself with one of her toys.

Karina tilted her head some towards Van, looking quizzical. That look might warn her friend that this was going to be like Christmas all over again. She tried to piece the three seemingly random words together, Easter Egg Hunt. "...What exactly would we be hunting?"

Ooooh...right. Vanessa watched her, quirking a small grin. "It's a holiday. Easter. With an Easter Bunny. It's more a kids event. You color and hide hard boiled eggs, candies, small toys and send kids out to go find them."

She frowned for a second, looking mildly offended. "I've heard of Easter," a bit defensively! "I just don't know why you'd waste the time boiling eggs that are just gonna rot in a few days. And what does a bunny have to do with it?"

She was still smirking a bit. "You know, I'm not quite sure what a bunny has to do with it, but it's just another holiday tradition. The Easter Bunny comes and hides all his eggs. Kids find them and take them home."

A warm breeze seemed to blow in one captain through the field leading away in the direction of the Quinn manor. Lazy swagger might be recognized as he sometimes took on when especially relaxed. Beautiful day that held so much promise, not just for today but the days to come. Lifted up one's spirits. One could see it in the smiles upon many faces, even some that didn't usually smile.

Ahhhh. Lightbulb! "The Easter Bunny is like Santa... right?" She got it now. "Just a character to sorta promote the holiday." She nodded slightly then frowned again. "Still dunno why it would be a bunny though." Little Miss Scrooge was interrupted by a glance up, which recognized a familiar figure strolling their way. She lifted her hand to wave and then gave Vanessa a knowing grin.

Vanessa was thinking on that for a moment before laughing. "I'm not sure why they use a bunny. Especially since the bunny delivers eggs." After a moment she shrugged and saw Karina waving; turned to look over her shoulder to spy Segan and waved to him. "Hello there, Captain!" Ysa tossed her toy to the side and sort of slid/rolled off onto her side, then with a little more wiggling, onto her belly with her arms tucked under her so she could look around.

Rhett headed up from the commons after finishing up needed work and setting all other aside. Too nice to be sweltering in front of the forge fires the whole day. Deciding to take a walk which had him greeting many along the way, most of he knew, some all his life. Stetson dipped kept the sun out of his eyes as he turned in through the gate leading to the Cottage.

His grin grew as he drew closer, "ladies, a beautiful day as beautiful as the ladies it shines down upon." Ducking under the tent to join them as he took up a seat on the ground. Tickling fingers to tease Ysa over her belly. A wave given Rhett who was on his way to join them also.

"Yeah, last time I checked, bunnies didn't lay eggs." Karina snickered now too before turning to Segan in greeting. A wide smirk at the compliments given. "I'm guessin' you mean Ysa too." Even if that 'lady' was currently drooling all over herself. Then Segan was waving to someone else and she glanced up curiously, then blinked to see Rhett strolling up. Hopefully the shade of the tent hid the crimson color that rose to her cheeks and she waved too.

"It could be argued that it's a handsome day." She smiled to Segan as he claimed a place under the tent as well, then looked to Rhett, giving him a wave before flashing a knowing glance to Karina. "You two are just in time to have part in all the plans we're making." Ysa was making all kinds of happy noise and kicking her legs, managing to scoot herself around a little bit.

"What's this about egg laying bunnies?" Pressed smile hitting off a spark in blue eyes as he got close enough to pick up part of the conversation. "I see you have been getting some sun, Karina," thinking that was the reason for her red cheeks. Joining them under the tent as he sat down crossed legged near her. "What plans?" He was all ears as well chuckling under his breath for Ysa's antics.

"Sounds good to me," he had a few ideas for plans and hope to see some of them through this time around. Unfortunately his and Van's schedules didn't get them to sledding or ice skating, though they were on the turn of the seasons when they had hoped to find time.

Lips pressed together in a grin as he eyed Segan. That sounded like a death wish to him. "Maybe a female bunny?" Was the Easter bunny only male?

Vanessa looked at Segan for his suggestion before she started laughing. Ooooh...she could picture the look she'd get from Eion asking him that. "Nooo. I think I pressed my luck with the Santa thing." She looked at Rhett then and shook her head. "I've only ever seen male Easter Bunnies." Ya know...the whole Easter bunny thing just made less sense the more they talked about it. She briefly had a thought and looked at Segan. "Perhaps, if he has the time, Peter O'Neill would do it." Get him and Henna together!

Both their comments had Karina bursting out laughing. She could just see it in her mind's eye, Eion standing there with bunny ears and an expression far from amused. "Yeah, he agreed to be Santa but I think a furry tail would be too 
 much for him." Wide grin to Rhett and then she looked back to Vanessa. "What, King Peter playing the Easter bunny?" She sounded incredulous.

"Aye, I think you're right on that account." Asking his brother to do that was a NO, capital letters but it sure made a humorous visual. That and a few certain others, hell, no man would want to play the Easter Bunny, made playing Santa far more appealing. At least Santa was manly, lots of manly in a very rounded way. "You want to ask a King to be an Easter Bunny?" They might do better hiring a younger lad.

She looked from Karina to Segan with a nod. "Aye. He's been busy on the training field from what I've understood. Perhaps it would be a good, heart warming break for him. I'd love to invite the Queen and her children as well."

He was listening, not having much to say at this point, more the quiet one but that didn't mean he wasn't being part. "Aye, he has been and his sister is getting married soon plus his brother has returned." Peter was a very busy man so he added what he knew.

"I can't imagine a King in a bunny costume or a Queen running around looking for hidden eggs." Karina sounded skeptical, glancing between each as they discussed it. She'd forgotten she still wore Rhett's Stetson, which sat askew atop her head of curls, giving her a rakish sort of look.

"The Queen may come to observe as well the King if they can." That was his thoughts on it more than either being a part that required them to be there. "Will you be looking for hidden eggs, Karina?" Slow grin as he was so use to teasing her that would never end.

Karina arched a brow at Segan. "Maybe." But she couldn't resist a slight grin, despite her nonchalant tone.

"Don't worry Segan, I can help her find some," like she couldn't on her own but certainly it was teasing her, or maybe he would lead her astray for a walk with him instead. Never knew. "I think there is something you should know." His face going to a dead serious look, all the teasing of earlier fleeing. "It is not something the town crier is making all aware of but allowing this information to seep out as it is not being hushed either. The King has been missing for about seven or eight months. He had gone to Luneberg on one of his usual trips. Set out to see about some disturbances and rumors and disappeared. He and a few other royal guards. When they didn't show back up, three of his four horsemen went there to find him and they have gone missing. The fourth horseman was made to stay and protect the Queen. It doesn't look good. The forest area has been banned for anyone to go into until they can learn more. They are not sure if it is connected with the Kildare forests and rumors on the Northwest or if it has something to do with an ancient underworld beneath Luneberg."

Well, it never hurt to ask. She didn't expect the Queen to go egg hunting, but to bring her children and have some time around those not in the castle. The topic changed though and her attention went to Rhett as he spoke. The smile faded some to such dreary news. She felt bad for the Queen, and now was the one holding her tongue.

Eyes shot back to Rhett at the tease, which had her grin expanding. But that faded when he went on in a more serious tone, and she became quiet to listen. Her brows knitted together in concern for what this might mean for Heathfield... she had no idea. The poor Queen too, going all this time with him missing, unable to be confirmed either dead or alive.

He gave a slow nod, "I heard as much and sure wish I could help." Not more was given and a fools errand to go rushing in without some sort of order. "Peter is a very good friend of his. I hear he planning on something musical at the palace for her."

The sun would be going down soon, "I didn't mean to ruin the conversation." Then with a pause as blue eyes turned on Karina, "I came by hoping your chores were done and you could go on a walk with me while it is still light out." Which would stay light out a little longer but certainly nice for a walk about.

Karina had been absently dawdling her fingers at Ysa, thinking over what Rhett had said, but she looked up at his words and brightened. "Yep, all done." And up to her feet she went! Segan and Vanessa would probably poke fun at her eagerness once she left, but she didn't notice it as she stepped over to leave with Rhett. "See ya's later," back over her shoulder with a smile to Van and Segan.

Vanessa Nodded. "Aye. He spoke to me and..." Oi...she couldn't remember the other woman's name. "A woman who owns an instrument shop, about possibly holding some sort of concert." Attention went to Karina and Rhett, giving a waggle of her fingers. "You two have fun."

"Perhaps you'd like to take a walk, bring Ysa in her stroller?" Of course they would go a different route, leaving Rhett and Karina to privacy as well hogging their own privacy too.

"That would be nice." She smiled and collected Ysa. "Come now, hummingbird. Time for a walk." Ysa just giggled and squealed. "I'll get her things."

He was up just as quick, "nice seeing you both, Vanessa, Segan." Leaving Karina to wear his hat which would do her more good in protecting her fair skin from the sun. He discreetly slipped his hand over hers as fingers entwined before setting off to a walk though the fields.



Date: 04-14-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 28

A Bird in Hand

Coming to early evening, the sun was on its descent, lighting the sky in beautiful dusk colors. Vanessa and Ysa had spent the entire day in the gardens, planting flowers and tending to those that were starting to bloom and a little work with the birds while Ysa was napping. Now it was feeding time. Ysa was set up on a blanket with all her favorite things not too far from the flight cages, Vanessa had already fed the prey birds, now was feeding the others while keeping an eye on Ysa now that she would be crawling any day now. Or so Van suspected.

Leo walked alongside Vincent and Simon as the three headed for the Avian gardens to see a Lady about a bird. In this case a few of them. Attired accordingly to the evening more so for appearance sake. A long dark green vest hung open over a pale maze poet's shirt. Black pants and boots concluded his attire. He spotted the two as they turned in through the gate, heading for the little one with a gift to give of a soft doll, kind that one would wont to hug a lot. Hair of gold too like her mother's. "Hello there little one," coming to crouch down where she sat playing and the doll offered. If his men said anything, there would be a price to pay. Leoric had a big heart and it showed in times like this.

Beautiful night to enjoy as they headed for the avian gardens and these birds of prey to be given as a gift from their king. Vincent had no complaints, nor complained as the walk here was done in mostly silence. He was enjoying the scent of the air, the feel of the breeze in deep easy breaths. The sky he loved to watch as it gradually changed until all color was drained. Such thoughts were kept to himself and that stoic mask worn would never give them away. He observed the young child that Leo doted upon with a doll, he'd not say anything although he didn't crouch down or get too close. Mostly he didn't want to scare her. He could just see burst out crying right in his face. Plus she might be wet or worse. Instead he moved passed to greet the woman at the cages. "Good evening Lady Vanessa."

There was nothing to say, at least on Simon's part. If Leoric liked children, that was fine, so long as he didn't insist that Simon hold any. He watched a moment, then followed a few steps behind Vincent. "Good evening, Lady Baltimore."

Ysa was dressed in a light blue jumper kind of thing with a little hood. A rattle in one hand and something to chew on in the other, she was happily cooing away until Leoric came with the doll. Big blue eyes looked at the man, then the doll, then the man, then the doll before dropping everything in her hands to reach out and take it with pudgy little grabby fingers. She squeaked, giggled and kicked her legs, and instantly put the doll in her mouth. Vanessa turned from pitching out grains and corn to see the men approach and smiled. "Ave, gentlemen. How are you?" Attire was a simple green dress with a half apron worn over the skirt.

The little one would not be left alone with Leo here. Her mother needing to do what was required of her at least had her out where she could be seen. He scooped her up, doll and all into his arms as he would take her over to where her mother was working. "I remember when Solarina was as little as you." Bouncing her a little in his arms as the birds would draw her attention too this close. "Pick out the prettiest, most colorful and most noisy parrot your mother has." Giving Vanessa a wink in coming close enough she'd see. He was to pick up a parrot for the castle so all could enjoy the bird.

"Doing well and I hope the day finds you such as well," Deep rugged voice with an Irish accent rumble as if he didn't do much talking at all. Giving way for his king with a few steps aside. "Tell me of  your birds of prey." He was sure there were differences although he was not that learned of them.

"I'm well, thank you." He smiled as he answered, "And I hope you can say the same?" Since Vincent had asked the question, he would listen though he did glance at the King and child. This should be interesting.

Ysa was happy to be picked up, not that she was at all neglected by Vanessa, but it was always nice being picked up! Doll went with her so she could slobber on it, she looked at the birds and started babbling at them. "I am doing quite well." Looking to the flight cage with the prey birds, she pondered what to tell him since he hadn't asked anything specific. "Well, all but the chicks are trained, but you won't get to pick your bird." She smiled brightly to the men. "Your bird will chose you."

Interesting concept as he kept an easy pace about the cages, leaving Ysa to squeal at them and they at her. Seems she was a curiosity to them as much as they were to her. It also entertained her as his men could see to the birds. He had a voucher to cover all bought and possibly another if Thane could make his way down another time.

"One will pick me?" Well, for some reason the thought amused him and for a split second the stoic demeanor held something else, a twitch at the corner of his lips. "Then by all means, how do you wish us to proceed?" He had managed his way closer to the birds of prey cage and was looking the lot of them over. "I would prefer not a chick," anyway, as mentioned they were not trained at all.

He remained where he was, arms crossing over his chest as he studied the birds. If the birds did the picking, that also meant they might not get picked. Again, he waited for Vanessa to explain.

Ysa was completely fascinated by the birds while chewing on the arm of the doll. Vanessa smiled and went to the chest near the door of the cage. "The chicks won't chose." Three leather gloves picked from the chest, she motioned Vincent closer and offered him one of the gloves, then went back for bracelets and throngs. "All you have to do is go into the cage after you've put your glove on and hold your arm up. Your bird will come to you."

Leo headed a short distance from the cages as he crouched to pluck a dandelion to tease Ysa under the chin with. Chin and nose, ears and cheek with the soft petals as he stood and wandered back towards the cages again. He didn't want to miss watching his men get.. picked.

"No worry, Simon, the chicks wont be carrying you away with them," teasing his comrade as he eased up some. Sometimes it took a while for him to loosen up around someone new. Sometimes he never did. He stepped up to take the glove and fasten it around his arm. That part he knew how to do as it was done quickly and efficiently. Slight bow of his head to indicate he heard her and then stepped into the cage, drawing the door open then closed behind him. Loosely, so that Simon could enter also. He held up his arm with wry words to follow, "any of you brave enough?"

It wasn't that Claire was becoming bored, for certainly she wasn't! She just needed a change of scenery for the night to stamp down her restlessness while she waited for word from Joe about her new home--one of her very own! Such an exciting prospect and one that had her spirits soaring. And in the search for a new place to enjoy, she'd remembered Vanessa's invitation to come to the Avian Gardens. Granted the night was late however word from Alex said that there was something to be seen tonight with the choosing of the birds. That man mysteriously knew Without too much thought about the subject and with the help from dear Alex, she'd arrived at the Gardens and in her usual whirlwind fashion, entered the gardens. Gown of dark blue draped her tall slender form, rich brown hair left loose to tumble in a mass of curls. Curiosity held her tongue silent as she made her way towards the small group amassed in the Gardens, teeth nibbling at her lip in slight worry as she didn't want to impose. However, that didn't stop her from nearing and then joining the group. "Good evening, everyone." Murmured with a warm smile.

Vanessa offered the other glove out to Simon with a smile. "You can go in, do the same. Once your bird chooses you, place your thumb firmly over the talons and I'll be in to put their bracelets on." Then over to Leoric, she offered him the last of the gloves with one hand, the other arm extended to take Ysa from him. "You too. Then we will see about choosing a parrot for the ladies."

Simon just chuckled at Vincent's words before he too, accepted a glove and stepped inside. He didn't offer a challenge though he was curious to see if any took Vincent up on his. Just held his arm out and waited.

He took the glove while carefully transferring Ysa, being she had a nice grip on his beard. Long enough for little fingers to take hold. "If you will leave that with me sweetling," words kind as always as little fingers slipped from their hold. Luckily the length of dark golden hair was tied back. Before he put on the glove, he detached the pouch from his belt that encircled his waist. There was 600 coins in it, "this should cover the cost of the birds and any extras needed." Which he would leave to her knowledge of what was needed. The glove put on he was following Simon into the cage. His presence should calm the stir as he was One with Nature in his training.

Ysa giggled and reached out for Vanessa. "Little butterfly, come here." Taking the child, she turned to see Claire and waved. "Greetings, Claire!" The gardens were lit with garden lamps, now visible with the dark, flowers were just starting their bloom. Turning to the cage as Leoric entered, she looked up at the birds in the branches over head. The gathering of prey birds all looked down at the three men. Some remaining where they were, others moving to nearer  branches for a better look. It wouldn't take long before a few had taken flight and took the arm of their chosen. All of young adult age with many years to be of service. Vanessa smiled and looked to Ysa, who was watching. "Did you see that?" The child babbled and giggled, blowing bubbles and trying to reach out to the birds through the cage, which of course Vanessa wouldn't allow.

"No casting a spell on them, Leo," said under his breath in a humorous way that he and Simon would hear. Implying a bird would choose him because Leo had it so. They were merging down after his king had entered! Surprise came in a blink as feathers flashed before his eyes and the weight of a bird was felt on his arm. One brave, or Leo entranced! "Well, seems I have a brave one after all." Vincent was the type to take care of that which was his very well. The bird would not lack for care. He hadn't noticed any other approaching due to his focus on the birds. Thumb was placed over the talons as he heard Vanessa advise Simon. Only a glance away with a slight bow of his head in greeting of the lady, briefly met. "Lady Claire," then back to his bird of prey.

He would have laughed out loud but he was suddenly eye to eye with one of his own. He placed his thumb over the talons then smiled as he looked over his shoulder. "Good eve, Lady O'Reilly." It was a brief greeting as his attention was back on the bird.

"Get over yourself," countered to Vincent in the same kind of humor. "Evening Claire," called out to her even if he didn't need to look her way. Basically because one had come to land on his glove. "Fine looking bird you are too." Now captured of his thumb over the talons.

"I see you are having quite the party, Vanessa," Claire remarked with a laugh. The beauty of the Gardens was breathtaking. Claire could barely converse for her attention was captured by the trees and flowers and not to mention-- birds! A scene to...paint, yes, of course. "Hello, Gentlemen." Claire pausing to look respectfully at each for a moment before turning back to the scene around her. "You've done wonders. I'm quite impressed!" Her fingers were itching to sketch.

While the men took a moment with their new companions, Vanessa took Ysabeau back over to her blankets and toys for the moment, then returned to the cage. "Come join us, Claire." A bright smile, she entered the cage with the men, going to each to put the bracelets on each of the birds, and thread them with the throngs. "These birds have been taught three basic commands. They are capable of learning so much more, but since I do not know each individual's desires or needs of the birds, I teach them to scout, hunt and travel." Once the bracelets were in place and threaded, she motioned the men out of the cage.

If Vincent had any retort, it died on the tip of his tongue as Vanessa came within the cage too. Listening as he watched her thread the bracelets so he would know how in the future. "Those are the three things I would wish." He wasn't sure what else there was to train a bird but if there was more, he would find it. He was the first to step outside and took the moment to look this bird over, one that was equally looking him over. So they stood there eyeing one another.

"Thank you." He said quietly to Vanessa before he was stepping out of the cage. Fascinated by the bird who had chosen him, he did much the same as Vincent. "Is there anything more we need to know, Lady Baltimore?"

She smiled to Simon and looked at all three men. "I'm going to show you the three commands. If ever your companion is in the air and you wish to call them back, all you have to do is hold your arm up and whistle. They will come back to you. For the scout command, touch fingertips together, touch your brow, then push your arm up to the air. They will take flight only then, and if they find anything during their scout, provided they can carry it, they will bring it back to you. Hunt is similar, but rather than touch your brow, you touch your lips before sending them up. To travel, you just push your arm up to take flight, and call them back when you are ready. What they hunt will be according to the area you are in, and what's available to them. Remember, before you can send them to flight, you have to remove the leather throngs from their bracelets."

"I'll assume it's safe since you are inviting me in," though Claire looked a little bit nervous as she stepped in, walking rapidly to come up close behind the men. Eyes darted in every direction, locating the birds in the cage. She held clasped hands before her as she watched, both in awe and wariness as Vanessa instructed them.

Once Vincent and Simon stepped out of the cage, he followed in their wake passing Claire as he did with a smile. He hadn't necessarily come for a bird of prey for himself but since he now had one, he was pleased with the idea. Leo was already communicating on another level with the bird but not something he would have it show. Having things look ordinary and normal was the best way to go. One of the things he would use the bird for, would be to see through his eyes once they mastered that level.

He was listening and getting it all down, repeating them under his breath once. "I will come up with an honorable name for you too." Words low as he spoke to his bird. "What kind of shelter will they  need, something like this," giving a gesture with his free hand to the large cage. He was sure Leo would have one built if there are to be a few birds and more to come possibly.

"These birds will stay where you put them as long as the bracelets are threaded. So, you could simply get a large branch for your quarters if that's what you wished to do. I suggest that when before ask them to hunt for you, you allow them to hunt for themselves. It's only polite, after all. When you're out on a journey, you can show them to any tree to sleep. They're too large for indoor cages, and outdoors, well.." She motioned to the flight cage specific for the large birds of prey, which was not nearly as filled as the others with less dangerous birds. "As you can see, they require room."

"They are territorial on the norm. Although they tolerate other birds of prey around them under certain circumstances." All the while he was scratching along the birds neck which he found out he would like. His ways far deeper than they would appear on the outside. "I'm sure you and Simon can find good sturdy branches to use as a perch."

"What do you plan to use them for? Mere pets or do you look to hunt?" Now the curiosity was starting to unravel as Claire grew more comfortable in her surroundings. Although she didn't want to hold one herself at the moment, she was content to watch and study, perhaps store away colors and shapes for her artwork. She most definitely planned to come back with her utensils, with Vanessa's permission, of course.

A nod given to Leoric, she smiled to Claire. "How are you this eve, Claire? Any interest in a companion?" There was quite the variety of birds available in the gardens. Claire looked like someone who could enjoy a companion bird.

He wasn't sure who Claire addressed but he politely answered her. "To hunt when on the trail," he, Simon and Thane traveled the woods a lot and scouted through the lands along with Jael. "To scout as needed." Which might be the best reason of those given in what laid ahead of them. It dawned on him in that moment why Leo wanted to get them the birds. Clever man but that didn't totally surprise Vincent. Only a glance his king's way then back to the ladies. Simon was keeping quiet.

The question had been addressed to any of the gentlemen who'd cared to indulge her curiosity. She nodded slowly and then blinked at Vanessa. "Me? Well, perhaps, though certainly not one for hunting. I may be more inclined to acquire a puppy but perhaps a bird that...sings would be nice too." Wry smile given there, turning in a small circle to get a three hundred and sixty degree perspective.

Vincent glanced to Simon and back, "by your leave Sire." Not explaining as he need not but they were to meet up with a few other knights of these lands and Innis at the knight's hall in the castle. This would also afford more direct attention to the Lady Claire from Vanessa as he and Simon need not.

"Gentlemen, you're welcome to give the commands a try if you like." She smiled to them, then to Claire and took her gently by the arm to lead her over to one of the other cages. "I think a lovebird would be a wonderful companion to you. Small, they sing, and they speak." She looked back to the men, then the pouch. "What about the bird for the ladies? Will you be coming back for it and the supplies?"

"When you are ready, Vincent." Glancing from his first knight to his second, "when you are ready," pleased the two would get to know the knights here and probably spar them on the king's field come the morrow. "I will be staying a while longer," turning the answer to Vanessa in reassurance.



Date: 04-14-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 29

"A lovebird? Sounds like an interesting companion to have. Is it possible to return in the next couple of days to perhaps acquire a lovebird and also paint here? I find myself enchanted by the beauty here." The hour was growing late for Claire as she was normally an early riser to catch the sunrise. It was her favorite time of day, especially as a scene to capture on canvas.

"Lady Baltimore, it has been a pleasure. Thank you for your time. Lady Claire, good to see you again." As Simon echoed his words. They would both give the birds the acquired the lift to take flight after the leather throngs were removed. They would go a distance before lifting their arm with a whistle.

"May you have a safe journey home. Good night, gentlemen." said with a smile to Sir Vincent and Sir Simon as they departed.

A nod given to Claire. "Of course, you're welcome any time." Giving her a smile, then turned to Leoric. "Of course. Do you have any specifics for your ladies?" A nod given to Vincent, "A pleasure to see you again." She went over to where Ysa was and picked her up since she'd managed to kick herself off her blanket, then looked back to Leoric, awaiting his answer.

"Perfect! I look forward to it and we shall arrange it soon!" With a big grin, Claire leaned forward on impulse and embraced her quickly. "May you both have a wonderful evening. I bid you a goodnight!" Claire nodded to Leoric and  followed Vincent and Simon out to make her way to the Thistle.

The embrace returned. "That we shall."


"Something mainly for my sister in law as I've not a lady to speak of." Long story, there had been an opportunity before but the one held no patience for a world that was under reconstruction. "Something colorful, vocal and that they shall have a good time with. We have renovated the solarium and the gardens outside so perhaps a pair if that would be wiser?"

Vanessa thought on it for a moment before smiling. "I have the perfect pair. They've been mates since I brought them here last summer." Going to the cage with parrots and such companion birds, she motioned Leoric to follow. She took Ysa with her, no concern of the babe around the gentler birds. Through the gate, she looked up and pointed to the pair of rainbow parrots perched together. "I call them Mr. and Mrs. They're quite vocal and know a variety of words already."

Leo followed behind making silly faces to Ysa where she could only see. Crossing his eyes, hanging out his tongue, pulling his cheeks, kind that you wouldn't want anyone to see but a child. Soon as Vanessa would look his way, he would be perfectly normal too. Soon as she looked back, more faces and silly gestures, then normal again. Of course it all ceased once inside the cage. "They would be perfect." Colorful, vocal, pretty just to watch and would stand out in their court gardens as belonging there. "I will need a cage for transporting them and will send a trusted squire to pick them up tomorrow." A lad of around sixteen that was strong and had a gentle nature about him. Leo wasn't sure being a squire was going to suit him but time would tell and if not, he could find a more suitable position.

Vanessa nodded. "Aye, I can do that. Ask him to come mid morning and I will have the pair ready for travel, along with all their needs and some care instructions for the ladies."

After dinner, Herself had found plenty of work for he and Eion. Segan didn't mind as the two worked wonderfully together and it gave them time to talk on many things. Something that had been long missing. There was another on his mind and time to swing by the Gardens to see if she was about and of course little Ysa too. He had a basket with some more clothes from Herself and a few new toys. One was a cup that had handles on both side that she would gradually grow into using. He had that sailor's swagger that would be recognized as he came through the fields back of the cages.

"That will work out perfectly and if they work out well, I may have to purchases a few more. We certainly have the room even inside." Admiring the pair as he noticed another coming up the field. He had very good night vision but then one part Elf and Grugrach would. The human part some might say was limiting but he would disagree, instead he was proud of all that was mixed in his blood. "Good evening Segan." Greeting the man politely.

Hearing Leoric's greeting, she leaned to look past him and smiled. "Ave, Segan." Spoken as she waved him over with her free hand. Turning back to Leoric, she nodded. "I'm sure the ladies will love having the birds there."

It was the perfect time to go bounding through the bushes as her mother would say, and Beatrice had to agree. Although lately she had felt about as constructive as a slug she did try to occupy herself with walks and talks. Even if she was walking and talking with only herself! Humming as she went about her way, she failed to notice at first where she was until she was all but stumbling on it and then only grinned further. She'd gotten someplace even if the  someplace hadn't quite been where she thought she was going. Wasn't the lake this way? Or was it the other way? Beatrice wasn't at all like her younger brother who had a superior sense of direction. She was rather lacking in that area but made up for it in sheer internal happiness.

His smile sprang to life as he drew closer and around the cages to where they stood. Holding out the basket to show Vanessa at least. "This is for you and Ysa," there was some canned goods and sweet bread freshly made for Vanessa. She wasn't forgotten due to Ysa. "How are you this day," addressed to them both. He was attired more like a sailor, loose fitting shirt was left partially open, wide belt held a rapier sheathed against his left hip, hunting knife to the other. Pants were loose fitting but fitted at the ankles where short boots were laced up. Hair was tied back to a tail.

Motioning Leoric out of the cage, she smiled to Segan as she followed out with Ysa. "Quite well myself. How are you this eve?" Ysa squealed and giggled, happy to see Segan as well, swinging her doll around.

"Beatrice.." noticing the younger lass with a smile in welcome. "You look a bit lost but in these lands you'll end up in a good place nonetheless. This is the Lady Vanessa Baltimore and Captain Segan Quinn."  He stepped out of the cage at that point, having left the bird of prey on a branch.

She perked up at hearing her name. Not only was she in a pretty as you please looking sort of place, but there were friendlies all about too! "Oh, Leoric! Hello." She took a breath while cruising her gaze over the others. "Good evening!" Boisterous as usual, she waved then found that she had somehow caught some brambles on her. Going to work, she picked them carefully from her sleeve. She looked as though she'd gotten lost, with a few leaves caught against the covering on her hair. "I was looking for the lake, but I think I took a wrong left turn. Somewhere." Motioning with a wide swing of one arm toward the path she'd just come from.

He was over to relieve Van of Ysa for a few moments or just the fact it gave him a moment to hold the child they had all come to adore. "Nice to meet you Beatrice." The lift of blue eyes her way were sincere before he was giving raspberries to the side of Ysa's neck.

Vanessa tipped her head to Bea and smiled to her. "Ave, miss Beatrice. A wrong turn, but you're welcome to join us." Relieved of the growing baby, she smiled up to Segan and took the basket from him. "Would anyone care for some tea or lemonade?"

"I'll have a little of tea if you put a shot of potcheen in it." She should have received the carton of bottles he sent over so she was well supplied. He was jouncing Ysa in his arms as it got her laughing and as she laughed it would end up having him laugh too.

"Tea would be lovely!" Although it had been very warm that day, it was just a bit chilly now in the evening. Not that she seemed to mind at the moment given her absent-mindedness. Rubbing her hands together, she followed along while spying the child. Cherubic and smiling, she rather enjoyed children but wasn't quite interested in having any of her own anytime soon! "Hello there beautiful!" Waving her fingers at the child, she found herself humming again.

"The lake is much further from here and this late, not such a good idea to go alone. There is a lot of dense woods that have cougars and bears in them." Although no one had been hurt by such, it was still not a good practice to go out in the wilderness at night, alone. "I am fine, as I will be needing to get back to the castle fairly soon."

Ysa was happy to laugh and kick her legs and swing her new doll around. Watch it. Don't get whacked with the doll! "Of course." To Segan's request, she motioned to some chairs gathered around a table closer to the cottage. "If you'd all like to have a seat, I'll be out with tea." She looked to Leoric and nodded. "If you're sure. You could sit and relax for a bit before leaving?" Giving him time to answer, she then headed off to the side door of the cottage, taking the basket with her.

"Cougars and bears?" She gave Leoric a look as if for a second she didn't believe him before her features sobered with the clearing of her throat. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Most wild animals will leave you alone," there were exceptions as one bear went renegade and near killed Michael Reeves if it weren't for Malcolm's bear who killed the other. "Although there is one huge big old bear that is more a pet." He stepped just out of the line of the doll's swinging path as he spoke. "I would like to not worry on you Beatrice."  Giving a nod to Vanessa as he was over to take up one of the seats. "A few, don't worry on me though." The last to Vanessa.

He seemed rather serious to her, so she kept from making light of it just to cover her own worries. "Wild animals shouldn't be pets, should they? I suppose if you had its permission?" Was that possible? There were Druids here, so figured with a shrug that why not! Certainly it was possible! "I am a dog person myself. That has merit I think." Fingers twitched at the folds of her apron, worn out of habit rather than necessity.

"Remind me not to get her a bat to hit balls with..." more muttered as Ysa would be dangerous otherwise. Although she clobbered his arm and Van's as he bumped into her before she was off to get the tea and he was over to take up a seat, settling Yas on his knee where she continued to play. "I can't imagine having this much energy.."

Vanessa didn't take long getting tea. She already had water on the stove for when she finished in the gardens. A tray set up with a tea pot, mugs, tea selection and potcheen, she returned outside to set the tray in the center of the table for everyone to help themselves. "Neither can I. Seems like she's always going. Even in her sleep sometimes."

"The story is, in a nutshell, Malcolm Douglas was doing a Shaman ritual, druid based as well and he found the hidden forest area that is a vortex to speak with the ancients. When he left he came across a cub that was almost dead, left for dead. He took it up and brought it home, nursed it back to health along with his children when they were young. So the cub grew up under their care and never left. Although he roams as a bear would wont to do. He is like an overgrown pet."

Most of that explanation went right over her head, but she got the general underlying gist of it and so she nodded before grinning at Lady Baltimore as she brought tea. "I can only say that such an event is unheard of where I am from. Here though, it seems quite ... normal?" Of that she was sure.

He took one of the mugs as he listened to the story Leo had to tell. Filling it with the brew three quarters then adding the rest with potcheen. Ysa, at this point was reaching out for mama which she actually said. Or at least it sounded like that to him. "Did you hear that??"
In the midst of pouring her own drink, she heard the likeness to something that sounded like mama and looked at Ysa. "I did." She smiled and set her mug down to take the babe with a lavish of kisses to her cheek, making the child giggle.

"Aye, here things are somewhat different." Which he could use a very good example. "My one half sister and brother have wings. Their father was of a bird type race. She is about your age and quite conscious of the fact. One of the reasons she's hesitated to go to the tavern." Although he heard she had braved coming out.

That had her blinking although she was certain that she could well understand how it felt to be singled out for something you couldn't help. "That is how I felt about my stutter. I have to concentrate not to do so." And even then sometimes when she was nervous she did anyway. "I would very much like to meet her. But not for her wings." She had to be pretty because she was a princess. Coupled with the fact that she has wings only made it possible for her to look like an angel. Great. She got to be an angel and Bea got stuck babbling like a brook.

"I hope the two of you meet then." Not adding as it might be good for them both. Just a kind of smile to touch on his features may have reflected some of his thoughts. "Her wings are pure white which in her father's culture set her above the others. Her brother's are peppered and he had a harder time learning to fly and not crash into things. It was harder for them for they were not purebreds as it was put by a visiting member of that breed, said they would probably never fly." Like the ostrich, had wings but were useless. "They can both fly, so the one was wrong." They were both at an age where things were a wonder, where life was and their newly discovered gender, noticing men and soon to have crushes. He was glad to be long past that age. Although his was traumatic for the fighting relationship with his twin at the time.

He sat comfortably silent, watching Vanessa with Ysa and learning more by Leo's stories. It would seem he was a wealth of them. His words low to Van as he sat a touch closer but not in swinging path of Ysa. "I don't consider the other night fulfilling the bet I lost. Although it could be consider partial." Slow grin with the last and she would know what he meant.

"She can fly." Of course that had to be said, because to Bea it was a wonder for a being to fly like a bird. Much like the ones calling every now and then. "Does she sing at all?" Which would only be the capper if she was accomplished at that too. Bea couldn't sing a note, but she tried often when no one was around.

"Aye, she can. Her brother can and there are a few others." So, this would not be a shock to her. The others, she could find out about on her own. They were different than his sister and brother. For one, their wings didn't show all the time. "I believe all my sisters can sing," so could he but he was not going to admit that. "My cousin Sean has the best voice and plays the music too."

She looked over to Segan and smiled. "Very well. Whenever Yaya insists on pushing you through the door, then you can. How is Yaya?" She'd have send the woman something nice for all her contributions to Ysa.

"She is well, expanding her circle of friends she can brag with over tea. She was asking me today when she might take Ysa to bring to her friends tea party so they could all dote on her." Also bragging rights and at least she was not on his case about getting married and providing her with a great grandchild. There was yet for her to learn about Eion and Dolly. He was not touching that one with a ten foot pole.

"Yaya's such a gem." She smiled and looked down at Ysa, content to gum the doll while seated on Van's lap, laid back against her chest. "Oh, I suppose Yaya can take her next time she gets to meet with her friends. I'm sure Ysa would love it and perhaps you and I can go on an outing."

It was that kind of late and he would not be lasting any longer. He was up from his seat, "thank you Lady Vanessa, my squire will be here tomorrow midday," as she requested. "Segan, Beatrice, good seeing you both," then to them all as he went over to collect his bird of prey to the gloved hand. "Have a good night and the days to come." He was still here for his mother's sake and her missing king but he would be heading back to Kildare at least for a short time before returning again. All depended how things went.

There had to be a few, didn't there? Not that Bea seemed to be able to take it in all at once, she would however digest those mental bites one at a time. Taking up a cup of tea, she sipped at it lightly. "Goodnight!"  Humming a little she drank more of the tea. "I hope you sleep well!" Which hopefully she would find herself.

"I will have them ready when he arrives. Do travel safe, Leoric." A smile to him, then to Bea. "Do you live around here?"

She was lucky that he didn't mention the fact his cousin Sean could turn into a dragon. He and his sister whose father was partially so. He set the bird to flight as he'd been instructed but he was trying out the connection to see through its eyes. It was a little blurry but would be worked on, the bird would need getting use to the mind meld.

That little fact might freak her out a little. But she was imaginative. It might go over well.  "I live at the Thistle. Fiona and Hazel and Alex and Matthew have to put up with me for now." Which gave her reason to smile. At least she had nagged her way into helping hang the linens for drying today. So she hadn't been so completely lazy.

He was up from his seat as he knew Van was getting tired even if Ysa wasn't. "Shall we adjourn?" He might stay the night if it got later and he was still there. "A pleasure meeting you Beatrice, you will be safe from here back to the Thistle, no wild animals this close to the commons." Reassuring her for the walk.

Vanessa nodded and stood up as well. Ysa looked like she was on her way to sleep. "Have a good eve, Beatrice." A smile to the woman, she turned with Segan to go into the cottage.

"Thank you so much! A good night to you." She could use the directions as she was up and wandering. Eventually she'd get there before too long.



Date: 04-27-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 30

Garden Work

Quiet day at the gardens where everything was in bloom and celebrating the weather. Ysa was napping on a blanket beneath the tent on the green between the cottage and the flight cages and Vanessa was cleaning out one of the last flower beds. Apron over a tan dress and gloves on, she donned a brimmed woven hat with her hair pulled back in a pony tail. The birds were enjoying the day as well, making all kinds of less than quiet noise, some talking random words that they'd been taught. It was rather funny to listen to them and their randomness. And some of the words they spoke? Vanessa wondered if some of the kids snuck onto the grounds at night to teach them such words!

Segan arrived this fine sunny day by horse driven flatbed wagon. A day that had the air even warmer than it had been so far, temperatures climbing to the upper eighties by the feel of it. Shirt was off as he soaked up the sun, wearing cut off and sandals as his attire. In the back he had dozens of primroses in pots ready for transplanting that were already blooming. Shades of reds, pinks and whites, yellows and some mixed colors. There were also pansies and daisies, black eye susans and phlox. Upon reaching the front area he reined in the horse and was down to go in search of his fiancee. A word he rolled over in his mind that would end up having him smile for seemingly no reason. "Vanessa," coming around the side of the cottage to hear some of the words the parrots were imitating, Cac cac cac was one of them. Bitseach, damnu ort! Bog! and a few others. Gaelic he knew! He stood at first in surprise then started laughing.

Vanessa just laughed quietly to herself. She didn't speak Gaelic and she wasn't sure she wanted to know what those words meant, but it was entertaining to listen to nonetheless. She heard the wagon from where she was, but didn't look up until she heard Segan laughing. A bright smile to him, and a look towards the parrot cage, she shook her head and stood up. "I'd almost bet they make fun of Karina with those words." Joking, of course! Dusting gloves against her apron, she pulled them off and walked towards where Segan stood. "How are you today?" Surely by now, he'd heard about the excitement at the Thistle the night prior. Word spread quick here, especially words of fortune and good news.

"They would have even Karina's ears burning if she knows Gaelic. Sounds like some ones have been in the field behind the cages." He was betting a party of teens out drinking and carousing. He'd been there in his teens along with his brothers. He had her scooped up into his arms as she neared, turning her about as lips found hers in a tempting kiss, kind that warranted more. Although for now it would have to do. "I've a surprise for you." His arm remaining around her shoulders as at an angle down her back as his hand curved against her waist. He was starting them around to the front so she could see.

Scooped up, she took the hat from her head so as not to lose it or have him hit with the brim. The kiss was happily returned, with everything it could possibly hint to. When set on her feet, she looked at him curiously. "For me?" There wasn't anything she wanted or needed. She had all of her heart's desires, so she couldn't imagine what he'd have been bringing. A glance over to Ysa still asleep, then followed his lead around the cottage. "And I hope Karina doesn't know Gaelic. Then she might be quite likely to try and find out who taught those birds such words."

"You or we may want to check that field behind the cages for any evidence before she finds it and tries to find out who they are. Most likely it is local teens out having fun and with some drinking feeling grown up using certain words. If their parents found out, they would be washing their mouths out with soap. It is something normal, especially for males." Not as much for the females, at least he hoped. Ysa was still in sight for the angle that Vanessa would see the flatbed wagon loaded with the flowers. "Some are from Grandmama as her gardens are overcrowded this year and some are from the local florist that sells perennials as well annuals. The primroses are perennials so will come up every year and usually multiply."

She wasn't really overly worried about the birds. Not at the moment, at least. Though if it continued, it would certainly be a problem to be fixed. She couldn't sell the birds saying inappropriate things in any language. "Perhaps I should get some dogs to watch the grounds." Just a passing thought. No bird-dogs though. Coming around the side of the cottage, she saw the flatbed full of flowers and smiled. "Oh my. They're beautiful." She looked up to Segan. "She has no garden space left?" Asked because Vanessa had flowers in planters for Yaya.

"Eddie McAndrews sells puppies and full grown dogs. It is not a bad idea, keep away any wolves or other such predators even aside human ones. Perhaps a puppy for Ysa soon that she can grow up with." Blue eyes brightened, "oh, Grandmama will always have enough space but she has shared her flowers before with friends. Where they need to be thinned out some, she would offer and now she is for you. A gift when she found out you were setting up gardens for the first time. She also wants us over to dinner soon, a special one for us and for my sister Melantha, she got engaged to Gabriel about a week or two before we did."

"A puppy for Ysa is an excellent idea. I think she's old enough now to have one. Learn proper treatment now and care as she grows." Thoughtful, she looked back to Ysa for a moment, then smiled. "Well then, I have flowers to share with Yaya." She turned and pointed a short distance from where they stood to several pots of various flowers from her gardens. Roses, snap dragons, among others, but nothing like what Segan had brought. "Did she?" In reference to Melantha. "Dinner with Yaya, Melantha and Gabriel would be nice. A chance to celebrate for all of us."

"Then later on a pony when she is old enough to ride." Ysa was going to have the life, mostly those who loved her and that area was growing, then the benefit of parents who cared to spoil with love and things they could afford that would benefit in her growth as a person. He followed her indication. "That will be perfect, you both will have the best gardens in the lands for their variety, sans those of the castle." Which were more than splendid but they had many gardeners hired. "She did, we are making Grandmama very happy. She might lay off Eion but he is the oldest. The others will be there too and you are welcome to invite anyone you want to share the celebration with us, like Karina," and anyone else she befriended close enough to wish them there. "Shall I help now, direct me where to bring the plants."

Ysa would certainly have a pony when she was old enough to learn to ride. There was no doubt the child would be spoiled and loved. "I like the idea of sharing flowers with Yaya. It gives us something to share." She smiled up to Segan and placed her hat of her head again. "Eion will find his lady someday, but in the mean time Yaya can dote over you and Melantha." Thinking over who she would invite. She knew quite a few people, but Karina was the closest of them. "Perhaps Karina and Rhett. And Bea. It would give her a chance to meet others and she's such a joy to have around." She looked about the gardens again, trying to decide where the new flowers would go. "Let's put them over near the flight cages. I think I will make a flower bed for them in the center of the cages."

He could carry a few flats at a time so started with the primroses to bring over to the cages, center area. "Shall I dig this up and how big?" Setting the flats aside as he was over to get the pitch fork to break up the ground first.

She of course helped carry flowers to their new place and shook her head. "Not today. But thank you." Loving smile offered to him. "Ysa will be waking from her nap soon and I've done about all the gardening I intend for the day." She paused for thought a moment. "Segan, what is the name of the man who carries lumber?" For the life of her, she couldn't remember now who had come out to build the cages.

"Jon McAndrews." He stuck the pitch fork in the ground where it would be needed to start the digging. "Are you sure? It will not take me long." Although he was over to get more of the flats for they would take a few trips. "Unless you intend to do one of those raised gardens?" A box made of lumber then filled with soil. It made upkeep easier and weeding them as well.

She hadn't thought of a raised garden. "I like that idea. I think I will do that. And it will give me a chance to speak with him also." She too was helping move flowers. "I told Karina of our engagement, last night. She and I discussed our current living arrangement and we agreed that she would have a cottage built on the other end of the gardens from where our cottage is now. That way she's still close, but we have our privacy."

"That is a good idea, although who knows, she and Rhett may get married one day. Then we shall use the cottage for one hired permanently. A nanny or Cook, to help you out." Segan had the monetary means and would spare nothing where his wife was concerned. "Is it to your liking, that instead of you moving into my family manor with me, or building a manor, that I move in here where you are already established?" In short it was the most practical idea and anyway, his home otherwise was on his ship though that would be changing.

"She and Rhett may be married one day, but I still want her close." She'd lost one sister and didn't want to lose another, despite Karina not being blood. "I don't know that I could leave the gardens. If we were to take residence in your family's home, or a manor of our own, then we would have to have everything rebuilt for the birds. We could always build a manor more suiting here if that's what your wish is."

"This is why I presented the idea, so not wonder upon later on or if someone asks, we already know our answers. The cottage is big enough presently, for a captain of a ship who was use to much less. If our family grows that we need more room, then we can enlarge the cottage to suit. There is plenty of land here and the cages already built. There is the lake in the back accessible to us, a perfect location in my humble opinion." Smile was there that brightened blue eyes again, dimples too with that kind of smile as he continued to unload the flats with her.

She was happy to hear that he was alright with living in the gardens. She'd come to love those gardens and the peace they offered, as well as the home. Of course, she'd have left them behind for something that fit both their needs if he'd not wanted to remain there. "I believe you are right, Captain Quinn." It was a great location, both as a home and business with plenty of space for their future. She continued to help unload everything until it was done. They could take a break before loading the other plants onto the flatbed for Yaya. "Would you like something to drink?"

He probably spent more time here than his family manor when not on his ship. He too had grown to love it here and had plans once they were married. "I saw a curried ham at Ham's shop and thought about picking it up later to cook up for dinner along with some potatoes and vegetables if you like the idea. Aye, something to drink would be good." By this time they had finished unloading the flowers and only needed to load the ones for Grandmama.

"I think that sounds like an excellent idea." Taking his arm, she walked with him up to the tent set where Ysa was just starting to wake up. Turned on her back, just kind of looking around quietly. There were a couple chairs set up in the shade, along with a small table with cups and a pitcher of lemonade. "Sit and I will pour you a glass." A smile down to Ysa. "Little flower, you're awake." She reached down to tickle the babe's tummy before seating herself and reaching for the cups.

"She loves being outdoors, I think she will be one that loves to ride and go places." Which was good for he loved going places too but there was that part in him of needing a home to return to as well. He got situated comfortably and it was good to get off his feet again and relax. Later he would load up the flowers for his Gramdmother and bring them there on his way to the commns. He'd been going all day and still more to go before he was back with the ham and a dinner cooked they could sit down and enjoy together along with Karina if she was around.. then time afterwards to spend in each other's arms.

Date: 07-28-10
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 31

Clearing the Land

One never really realized how much land they had until they had to clear it. Or...part of it. Karina and Vanessa had been working the last few weeks on clearing what they could of the land to plot out Karina's cottage across the flight cages from Vanessa's cottage. That way they were close still, but had plenty of their privacy when wanted or needed. Van was in her normal sort of work clothes which was just a plain brown dress with an apron tied on. They'd done very well to get things cleared out; all but the large brush with roots too deep to pull and the trees, which Vanessa intended to cure soon enough. They'd fenced off a large area for Ysa to run around in with a tent for her to hide away from the sun or nap in when she got tired. Leather gloves on, she was tugging at one of the bushes with the too-deep-roots, trying to cut some of the branch and foliage away so that it could be cleared later.


Karina still had that flabbergasted moment every time she stopped to think that they were building her future house. A cottage with more than one room that would be entirely her own. Never in her life had Karina had more than a spot on the floor to sleep on, until she moved in with Vanessa. Just having her own room had been amazing enough, but an entire house? It still felt unreal and likely would even after the first few months living there. The more she thought about it though, the more excited she got, especially since she would still be close by to Van and Ysa. She wore her own version of work clothes, long canvas pants and an oversized plaid shirt rolled up to the elbows. Heavy gloves on her hands and a wide-brimmed straw hat to fend off the sun, though she still sweated beneath it. Karina was hacking away at another stubborn bush. "Think I'm losing this battle," she muttered as she tried to tear it from its roots.

Vanessa couldn't imagine having Karina anywhere but close to her. She'd really grown to love Karina. She was no longer a friend, but a true sister. Of course, she wished that Karina had been able to meet Jasmine, but as it was, she sure that Jasmine was always close in spirit and adored Karina just as much. Such thoughts she kept to herself, though. Crouched down next to her own shrub, she brushed the back of her glove over her fore head and looked over to Karina with a quiet laugh. "You're not the only one. I think we should get the rope and Tennison out. Maybe he can pull these smaller bigger ones out of the ground."

That made Karina laugh. "Aye, maybe we could strap Amergin up to a rope, too." A good joke because her husky pup was growing rapidly into a horse himself! The energetic Amergin also adored Ysa and was fiercely protective of her, and more gentle with the babe than with anyone else. He was currently sharing the infant's tent in the pen, his heavy fur a burden in this weather. Karina glanced over to where the both of them were sacked out with a snicker. "Other than that I dunno if I'll ever get this thing out of the ground." She sat back on her heels a moment before scootching over to try another shrub. "So, you and Segan set a day for the wedding yet?" With a glance over to her friend.

Amergin had certain turned out to be a true friend to Ysa. She adored the growing pup and being around him was good for her. Vanessa didn't want her afraid of animals at all. Even the creepy crawlies. She glanced to where the babe and pup were sleeping, then over to the stables where Tennison was hanging his head out. "I think getting Tenni to help is a good idea." Kar's question brought attention back to her. "No, not yet. I think we're hoping to get everyone together. We were talking on a picnic to make a formal announcement and everything." Smile turned into a grin. "Which means you're going to have to be there. With Rhett, of course."

"A picnic? Sounds good. Maybe at the lake where there's actually a breeze," just a suggestion. Something to help beat the summer heat or at least distract everyone from it. "That sounds nice, and I bet Rhett would like that too." There was a little grin that teased her lips as she went back to her yanking and hacking of shrubbery.

"We were actually thinking of having it here. But when the weather cools some." She agreed with doing it somehow under cooler circumstances. Standing up, she dusted her apron and pulled her gloves off. "Do you know how to tie knots?"

"Here would be nice too."  Either way, a get-together with all their friends was always nice. And often difficult to accomplish with everyone so busy and on their own schedules. She stood when Van did, wiping her work gloves together. "Sure do." One of the more honest skills she'd picked up on the streets. "Want to try it out with Tenni now?"

"Yeah." She nodded, looking at the shrubs. "I'll get Tenni and some rope. We should probably soak the earth a bit before trying to pull the shrubs. Should make it a little easier."

"Soak the earth huh?" That was something she hadn't thought of, but it sounded like it would help. "I'll get some buckets from the well." And of she went to do just that. Fetching some spare buckets, she was over to fill them up with fresh water. Once full they were quite heavy, but she carried one in each hand nimbly, skinny arms slightly out to balance them both as she began walking back.

Vanessa would have helped after getting Tenni out, but by the time she found some rope and brought the horse out to where they worked, Karina already had the buckets. Tennison's lead was left hanging and the rope on the ground, Van grabbed a shovel and took it over to the brush. "Yeah, some water should help. I'm gonna use the shovel and see if loosening it will help if you'll get the knots tied up?" Van knew nothing about knots.

"Alrighty." She set the buckets down near where Van was working with barely any sloshing, then jogged over to where Tennison stood placidly waiting. "Hope you're ready for some hard work, ole boy," said as she patted the horse on the neck, then she grabbed the rope up and moved over to the shrub. Standing with head tilted a moment in thought before wrapping the line around the base of the plant, tying off a series of knots, first a constrictor knot, and then a Boleyn. "That should hold."

Vanessa dumped the water as close to the base as she could get, then took up the shovel and started picking it into the ground in the wet earth as deep as she could. Given about ten minutes with the first shrub, she looked at the toiled dirt and nodded. "I think that should work." Then looked to Karina. "Are you ready?"

"Yep." She stood by, ready and waiting at Tenni's bridle. Fingers wrapped around the leather as she would urge the big horse forward. "C'mon..." Tenni walked until the rope was taut, and then it would take some urging to keep Tennison moving. The roots of the shrubs, however, would slowly give way.

Tennison was a good horse and would put everything he had into it with a huff and a grunt and a lot of strength. Vanessa stood by the shrub and as it started to pull slowly, she shoved the spade head of the shovel under the roots to try and heave it up. "Keep going, Tenni. Almost loose."

"C'mon, ole boy, you can do it!" She would keep tugging on the bridle, straining herself against the weight of the horse and the shrub behind it. When finally the bush came ripping out of the earth, it was like a chain of dominoes. Pop went the shrub, the horse stumbled forward, and with the line suddenly slack, so did Karina. She tumbled to her toosh on the ground. Blink, blink. "Did it come out?" Hollered back to Van.

When the brush came loose enough, Van grabbed onto the rope to keep it from slingshotting into Tenni's rump. Then it popped out, Tenni stumbled a couple steps and down went Karina. Laughing some, she nodded. "Yup, it's out. How's Tenni holding up?" It was only one bush, but the horse didn't usually do the manual labor kind of things unless he was running hard.

"Better than me, least he doesn't have a bruise on his - bum." She almost said arse  but she was working on swearing less, especially with Ysa around and starting to talk. Didn't want the sweet little baby shouting ARSE and HELL! Karina bounced back to her feet, wiping her hands off and then her bum before patting Tenni's nose. "Think he's alright to try another. What's the next stubborn bush?" She went over to untie the rope from around the one that had come out.

She smirked at Karina. "I'll call Rhett later tonight to come fix it for you." A smug grin was flashed. "Let's work on that one over there." With that, she took up the other bucket of water and took it to wet the ground, then poke and prod at it with the shovel again. "Gonna have to find out who tends to the lumber yard here. I can't really remember. But we can use the lumber we clear to help make the cottage."

Karina gave Vanessa a smirk, then suddenly she was laughing. "I knew you weren't that shy! Even if you didn't go for that massage bet," teasing with a grin. While the ground was soaking, Karina worked on tying the rope around the next shrub. "That's a good idea, no sense in letting all this good wood go to waste."

"I never claimed to be shy, but I have to save something for the honeymoon." Giggling quietly, she watched the knot being tied while digging the spade into the ground. "I agree, and what we can't use, we'll save for firewood and kindling."

Karina snickered. "Hope for Segan's sake he gets more than a massage on the honeymoon..." A wicked glance stolen over to Vanessa. Sometimes she wondered just how innocent her friend was. It was hard to know, since they didn't usually talk about such things, at least not in detail. "Alright, the knots are all set. Ready Tenni?" Going to take the lead line once more and urging the horse forward.

Innocent enough to say she was untouched! At least...under her clothes. She laughed at Kar's response though and shook her head. "You're very bad, Karina. I love you for it." Once the horse was ready, she waited for some of the brush to give so that she could wedge the spade under it and give the heave while Tenni gave the hoe.

"It's natural, girlie. As natural as the birds and the bees and the flowers and trees..." She could go on, but grinned instead. Pulling on the horse's bridle, but not as much this time, not wanting to land on her aft end in the dirt again. "Anything?" Calling back as Tenni tossed his head and kept pulling.

Tenni put in the effort of trying to pull. Probably would have worked better and been less strain on him if they had a proper harness, but this would work. "Yeah, it's coming up." She stuck the ground again with the spade head under the roots and pushed down on the handle with most of her weight. Down it went and the brush popped and jumped up, then landed.

Both horse and girl stumbled again with the sudden release of the pressure, but luckily this time Karina kept her feet. "Phew." This was hard work, and she wasn't even the one pulling bushes out of the ground. "We'll have to bring you some apples later," she told Tenni with a reassuring pat. He'd certainly earned some treats. Speaking of which, "I'm getting hungry, how about you?"

"Whew." Van could agree with that. Sweat wiped from her brow, she looked at Karina and then the sky which was beginning to grow into evening with a nod. "Yeah. Famished. We can get the rest of these pulled in the morning when it's cooler. We should leave the holes though. That way if they're still there once the foundation is set, we can replant where we took from."

"Sounds good to me." She went over to untie the rope from the shrub, then back to Tennison to untie it from his bridle. Praising the big horse once more before she looped the rope up into a neat coil. This was tossed over her shoulder and she waited for Van before heading over to collect their respective babies - Ysa and Amer. "Maybe I'll try to put together some sort of harness to make the work easier for Tenni," she mused along the way.

A nod given, she retreived the two big brushes and tossed them into a pile with everything else they'd pulled from the ground or trimmed back. Then Tennison was put back in the round pen with a nod as she walked back to Karina. "I'm sure he'd appreciate it. It would probably be easier to bare that pressure on his chest and neck than on his head." Ysa was up...kind of. Waking up, chewing on her fist and babbling. Gloves removed, Vanessa went to scoop her up and give her a big kiss on the cheek. "So, shall we clean up and head to the Thistle for dinner?" Vanessa didn't feel like throwing a meal together.

"That sounds great." She agreed, the less fuss with dinner tonight, the better. Karina tugged her own gloves off and stuffed them in her pocket, tickled Ysa lightly under the chin, then knelt to rub Amergin's tummy. "Wake up, ya big lazy mutt, it's dinner time." She grinned as Amergin roused with some slobbery kisses. "Ugh." She shoved his nose away then straightened to her feet, tapping her leg to get Amer to follow. "I'm ready." She for once didn't care about showing up at the tavern in what she was wearing now.

It was a late hour that had Segan heading for the Avian Gardens from the port. They had run into a storm along the coast, odd one, up near Kildare. Spooked his season sailors as some said they say things in the fog that had descended but it was swept back inland and they finally calmed. The trip back uneventful other than they were behind schedule. He was hungry but would forego food presently and headed straight for his destination: Avian Gardens. Even the vest he wore had sea salt stains on it, sleeves rolled up and a rapier hanging from the belt down his left side. He was surprised to see the lights dim at the cottage and the two out in the field down the side. He was quickly in through the gate and headed their way wondering what was going on.


Ysa giggled lazily to the attention, then was tossed up in the air as Van stepped out of the tent. "Ya hungry?" Ysa squealed and kicked and was caught. "Alright, then away we go. Oh! Let me get Ysa's bag that I keep there." Had to bring it back to put clean clothes and stuff in it. Karina and Vanessa had done a lot of work on the property across the flight cages from the cottage, clearing land for Karina's cottage. There was a massive pile of everything they had managed to pull up, with the exception of the really large brush, which they were working on with Tennison's help, and the trees, of course. She missed the approach of that tall handsome figure as she jogged towards the side door of the cottage for Ysa's bag.


Karina took Ysa into her arms when Vanessa made to take off for the cottage. She was busy jostling the little girl to get her to laugh, which wasn't hard to do for the happy-go-lucky infant. Amergin distracted her by nipping at her pants, demanding attention too, and she looked over to see Segan heading their way with those long rolling strides of a sailor. Her free hand lifted to wave. "Ahoy!" A proper greeting for a Captain offered along with a grin.

"Ahoy," greeting Karina as Vanessa disappeared. "Looks like you two have gone ahead and started things going." Which he would have been around to help had he known. He was over to give Ysa a kiss while held by Karina and a bit of tickling as he was wont to do. "Although, maybe you had others over to help?" He could hope they hadn't attempted it all by themselves but then look at the two stubborn personalities at work here.


The bag was on the end of the counter by the door, so all she had to do was pop in, then she was coming back to join Karina after pulling the door closed. A bright smile to Segan. "Evening love." He was greeted with a kiss to the cheek because she was dirty and sweaty. A glance to where they'd been working, she shook her head. "No, we've done all of this ourselves. I'll be calling for help with the trees and the brush we can't uproot. A pleasant surprise to see you this eve."


"Nope, it was just us." She arched a brow at him. "What, you think we couldn't do it on our own?" She was gratified though when Vanessa told her man what was what! A smirk given to Segan as if to say, Told you so. She bobbed Ysa on her hip. "We were about to head to the Thistle for dinner," she told Segan, figuring he would want to join them.


He stepped away to bring Van up into a hug, lifting her from her feet and around before set back to the ground. His kiss landed on her lips. Karina was a grown woman to see such but it was not held either to make it uncomfortable for anyone. "You would fit on my ship right now," chuckle came with the wink for she was sweaty and dirty. "Then I shall be here bright and early tomorrow morning with a few of men if you will mark the trees with some paint or a ribbon, I will see to taking them down. If you want, we can offer the trees to Jon McAndrews to cut and cure, use them to build the house." It was an idea to consider. A look was given Karina as much promising he would get even, somewhere down the line when she least expected it. "I am hungry if you are heading there, then I shall join you."


Hug was tight and the kiss returned with a scoffing laugh to mention of fitting in on his ship. "That's a fantastic idea. Karina and I were just discussing using the wood taken down to help build the cottage." A nod was given. Great minds. "Please do join us then. The more the merrier." She looked Karina. "Don't forget when we get back, you promised Tenni treats."


Funny, they were just saying that before Segan came up. Karina just gave Segan a snarky look in return, behind Vanessa's back of course. Her features quickly relaxing into a smile when Vanessa turned back towards her. "Aye, I'll get some apples or something to bring back." She handed Ysa off to Segan, since Vanessa had the diaper bag and Karina would have her hands full with the husky pup who was now fully awake and romping around their ankles.


He easily took up Ysa, if she were older he'd be giving her a ride on his shoulders but she was too little yet for that. Instead he had a firm grip that she could not wiggle out of and facing more to the front so she didn't miss anything along the way. He would get the gate as they headed out.


-continued in the Thistle Folder-

Date: 09-03-10
Poster: Karina Baltimore
Post # 32

Karina's Cottage

And while she was there, one hand would tickle the infant while the other started unwrapping some more parcels, specifically some kitchen linens.

She laughed softly and nodded. "Calm is always good. Always good. They match the furniture too." Hearing Ysa, she looked down at her and smiled as the babe giggled to the tickle. "So what can I help you with now?"

"Well.... how do you think I should arrange all this stuff?" The furniture set that Van had bought her, she meant. Right now the chairs and tables were just sort of haphazardly arranged where they'd been set down.

Thud, thudthudthud, thud... thud, thudthudthudthud, the two within might wonder if the roof was falling.

She looked around, considering space and all of that. "Well, I think the couch would be nice near the window, maybe with the chairs pulled in with it to make a semicircle?" Asking since it was Karina's house and all. Then she looked
up curiously, Ysa looked up curiously as well. "Santa's early this year." Grin.

A curse, rather a few actually all rolled into one, came after one of those thuds.

She was considering the room too, until those godawful sounds came from above. "What the?" She hopped up to cross the room, stepping out the door and down from the porch, backing out onto the yard until she could see up onto the roof. "OY! What's going on up there?"

Scooping Ysa up, she followed curiously out the door and back far enough that she'd be able to hopefully see what was up on the roof.

That's when she would first notice there was nothing up on the roof, but Rhett was dancing on one foot as a good size log laid on the ground while Segan continued stacking the cut firewood Karina was going to need.

Segan was hard pressed not to laugh at Rhett's new dance and about to at least say something when the ladies came out. "Good evening Vanessa, Kar, I hope we are not disturbing you. Rhett invented a new dance."

Vanessa blinked to see the two men then smiled to Segan. "Not at all. We're decorating." Ysa waved to Segan and Rhett, opening her fingers then closing them, and repeating.

Luckily he had boots on or he may have been really injured. Still, he was limping as he stopped his hopping and went right back to unloading the wagon of wood to stack. "Evening Karina, Vanessa." Pressed smile sent their way.

Strange how sound moved, she coulda sworn there had been giants hopping around on the roof. Blink, and she whirled as the voices came from behind her. Hands dropped from her hips and she couldn't help the quick grin that surfaced. "Nice dance. Evening," returning Rhett's greeting first, then, "Hiya Segan. Vanessa is decorating, I'm just bashing about the place without knowing what I'm doing." A wry smirk as she stepped a bit closer to Rhett. "Didn't break anything, did ya?"

He waved back to Ysa, as the pressed smile spread a touch more. As Karina stepped closer, he stepped closer, matching her steps before taking up her hands and limping a small circle, the limp getting less and less with each step. "Fine as a fiddle."

"You're hobbling like you have a peg leg," she protested, but started snickering when he took up her hands for that rather unique dance. It turned into full-on laughter when she tried to twirl and tripped over his feet instead.

She just smiled and shrugged. "She's doing the decorating. I'm just offering ideas." Yes was set on her hip, she smiled to Segan. "How are you this eve, Captain."

Which he caught her up, right up into strong arms as he cradled her there. Stetson was pushed back slightly as he carried her back to the porch to set her there. "Once we finish unloading the wood," not finishing the statement other than a waggle of brows.

He continued stacking leaving about a quarter left on the wagon before he was over to scoop Vanessa into his arms. Both in that way that had Ysa laughing as she became a little pancake. "The Captain is in from the sea for a couple weeks and I plan to help build the new cages you need." If he remembered correctly she had said about needing new cages for how many birds were born this spring.

Ysa was held securely, she smiled when taken up and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. "Oh? Well, it would be nice to have you around for a couple weeks. Can you spare that from the waters?"

Her laugh became a squeak of surprise as she was literally swept off her feet. Made her breathless, being pulled close to him like that, and the crimson color crept up into her cheeks. Holding onto him still for support even when her feet were set squarely on the porch. "I've missed you," she blurted without biting her tongue first. It was true, they'd both been so busy lately, they'd hardly seen each other.

Which he gave a kiss to the top of her nose and one to Ysa's too. The hug eased from but his arm remained about her shoulders. "Aye, that I can do for I got in a few good ones. Those cages need to be built before the cold winds blow and the snow too deep." Which he would be off a couple months during the worse of the winter too. "Besides, I like the idea of spending more time with you both, that is if you like the idea too?" Brows rising a slight fraction in near challenge to deny it so.

"I've missed you too," words lowered as he wasn't going to let her go too quickly. A glance given over his shoulder assured him Segan was distracted to where he should be distracted. Pressed smile returned as blue eyes were back on Karina. "I'm going to go finish unloading the wagon," being Segan had done most of it already, "then I'll be in to see how you are going to decorate your house."

Nose scrunched up to the kiss with a quiet laugh, Ysa reached out for Segan's cheeks to pinch. Don't let her. Her pinches were kind of painful since she just grabbed on. "I think it's a fantastic idea. I can't wait. I miss you during the summer months when you're so busy." An honest response, she did miss him. But, he had a business to run.

Ooooh it was difficult to not kiss the heck out of him right then and there. But she settled for just smiling back up at him, giving a squeeze before letting go. "C'mon, I'll help you unload."

Luckily he missed the pinch but had caught up her hands to pretend he was going to devour her fingers. That always sent Ysa into a fit of squeals and giggles. "I missed you too and unfortunately we didn't get in any runs together." Best laid plans didn't always happen but perhaps next summer they would. He had to run his ship as she had to run her business too, luckily they did get to see each other often enough. Just not all the time often.

"All right," not that he really needed her help but it got them off together. Fingers caught up hers to entwine as he was soon leading her back down off the porch and around to the side. Once out of sight he wrapped her up good within his arms as lips founds hers in a bold hungry kiss. That said it all there.

Well good thing, because that had been exactly her plan too! They'd barely gotten around the side of the house when she stood up on her toes to reach his lips. Returning the kiss just as hungrily, arms entwining around his neck.

She smiled to Segan. "It happens. Next time, perhaps." It would happen and as long as she didn't have to go months with out him, she'd survive. "You know, one of these days we're going to have to start planning a wedding." She
smiled brightly to him.

He was ducking them behind the wood pile, walking backwards with arms about her and lips locked. That very same log he had dropped on his foot, caught it again as he went down with her on top.

"He noticed that Karina and Rhett were not in sight, figuring they had gone inside. "Shall we go in?" He could use a drink and probably put Ysa down so she could fall asleep. "Best I leave the planning part up to you for I'd have us jump over a broom and be married." Old savage style which he gave a wink. "What kind of wedding would you like?" Arm still about her as she held Ysa, guiding her in as he spoke.

She followed his guide with a bright smile. "Oh no, Captain Quinn, you shall help with the planning of the wedding that is yours as much as it is mine." Smiling lightly, she shifting Ysa in her arms to cradle her.

Her feet somehow found their way beneath her, as she didn't let their lips part even a hairsbreadth while they moved. Stumbling and fumbling their way until they finally went down to the ground together. She might've giggled but it was muffled between their kisses. Landing on top, the position only had her blood pumping faster and for just a moment she let herself get swept away with it.. forgetting they were right outside her new house with the others inside.

"I am clueless but I will help in whatever way I can." Which he figured they would smooth out once they got to talking about it. "Do you want to be married out at sea on me ship or here in your gardens?" That was a start.

He certainly wasn't remembering where they were or that some were not that far and could walk out on them if they got curious as to where they were. On top, then on bottom as he rolled pinning her there, the kissing a touch more rough before finally drawing it to a close, or there would be no thought further in not stopping! "The wagon," voice held that rough edge to it as he knew they had to get it unloaded as it was expected back this night or by daybreak.

She thought on it for a moment before smiling. "What about some cliffs looking over the waters?" She wasn't sure about on his ship since some people tended to get motion sick.

There were a few Quinns that would be green around the gills at their wedding if it was out on his ship. "There are plenty of cliffs to choose from. Whatever pleases you best on this." He was sure there would be parts he would make the decision on but where the wedding took place was one more geared to the bride. "Got something to put Ysa in?" Noticing she was getting that winding down look to her.

Oh what an excruciating tease! She caught her breath when she was pinned beneath him, only wrapping her limbs all the tighter to pull him yet closer. She claimed his lips greedily, right up until the moment he pulled away, her face upturned still til the kiss was left unreturned. Eyes opening only then to stare at him a few moments, breathless. "I hate it when you're right," she muttered. A wry grin curving her lips as neither of them had moved just yet. "You'll have to get off me to unload it, you know..." she murmured, but made no effort to release him.

"I hate it when I'm right too," least in this kind of moment. Pressed smile as he was up, taking her with him. So he was of her, logical, "I hate when you're right too." Giving a wink and sweeping up his Stetson to slip back on his head. It wouldn't take them too much longer to unload the wagon then get inside or they would think they had been out there kissing or more.

"At least we agree on one thing," she snickered. Keeping to her word, she'd help Rhett unload the wagon until it was empty of timber, quite possibly stealing another kiss or two along the way. Finally taking his hand to step back inside, a little disheveled and out of breath, but there they were! They only looked that way because they'd been unloading the wagon.... riiiight.

He noticed that Karina nor Rhett where within and Rhett would see to the wagon being brought back, so he would escort Vanessa and Ysa back up to her place where he'd spend some time and talk more on wedding plans. Well, the twp came in as they were going out. Both looking disheveled! He cleared his throat, "night you two," before sweeping off with Vanessa who gave her farewells too. Ysa asleep in her arms.

Well, she was all ready to explain what had taken them so long... and instead she found them on their way out. It was still a shambles inside, the living room furniture in random places, piles of linens and other purchases in the center of the room. The curtains were hung though! "Night Segan," she gave the Quinn her most innocent grin. Which of course.... wasn't all that innocent. A blink, and then she was giving Rhett a sly look. "Seems like we have the place to ourselves..."

He gave a low whistle after saying his farewells to both Segan and Vanessa. "Wont take too much to fill this place up at the rate you're going. It is homey though," which larger places usually lacked unless you had enough people to fill it up.

"I know, there's so much stuff! I thought we bought too much, but Vanessa said it was just 'cause it was all piled up in the middle like that." She shrugged. It did look sort of like a mess... but now was hardly the time to decorate. "I haven't lit the first fire in the hearth yet. Shall we?" Snuggling up together in front of the fireplace, now that sounded nice. The night had a bit of a cool chill about it too, making the idea more appealing. She had to maneuver around boxes and chairs to get to the fireplace though.

So maybe he wouldn't get the wagon back until tomorrow but he would make sure he got it back early enough, before it was needed. "That sounds like a good idea." So he would help her get the fire going in the hearth and other fires going soon afterwards.



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