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The Callihans

Date: 02-08-12
Poster: Michael Dewar
Post # 41

Callihan Den

A sideways glance was given the Captain as they entered the Den. Quiet had fallen over the mansion as most of the servants had either gone home or taken to their rooms. A few stayed within the mansion itself such as the Butler who may be needed at any hour of the day or night. The handyman and one of the kitchen maids that ran errands or whatever else was needed that she was capable of doing. The one picked was capable of doing just about anything asked of her. A few stayed in a smaller home on the estate lands. Close enough that they could be summoned. The rest were scattered about the lands with their families or even by themselves. The quiet blended in with the fall of snow seen from the large window panes out over the vast lawns. Well, as far as the lighting allowed of lamps kept lit along the walks about the mansion. The glow of the fire in the heart was the main source of light until Cai turned up the wick in the lamp. She set about getting the paper from the desk drawer as she nonchalantly asked, "are you afraid of my brother, Captain?"

The mansion was in much better shape after Gillean and Caiome took possession. Though there was still work to be done, they had made it into an elegant and comfortable home. Dewar had not been in the Den before, so he was interested in how it had been done over. He looked out the windows at the falling snow and smiled slightly. It was a normal winter, certainly. He turned to face Caiome when she spoke, a brow lifting. "No I'm not, but I'm curious as to why you would ask, Lady Caiome." There was a hint of a smile as he spoke, dark eyes showing a hint of amusement.

It was more masculine than feminine. Damask curtains were swept aside so that one could enjoy the view this room had to offer. There was an ornate fountain in the courtyard but was presently stilled and filled with snow. "Oh, just curious as well." She had stepped closer as a hand came to rest against his chest over his heart. "It is quite the romantic setting, wouldn't you say." The touch of a smile upon her lips went with the twinkle in hazel green eyes as she lifted her hand away, "if you had the right woman.." She took the few steps that would separate them as her hand came to rest on the back of a cushioned chair. "You can bring this over and sit by me as we go over the list we're about to start. Otherwise I'd have to sit in your lap.." which the visual was there and then her brother coming in. Slight smirk as she was back over to get out the pen and ink to set beside the small stack of a paper. "If you'd like a drink, there is the bar. I would like some brandy if you don't mind."

He watched her step closer, his expression not changing. One could almost feel sorry for her brother... almost. But, as he had thought so many times before, his return had done Caiome a lot of good. She had certainly come out of her shell. He looked down at her hand and up again, smiling fully. "Are you talking about the den, or the scene beyond, Lady Caiome? I suppose with candles and the right drink, it could be." He said nothing about the right woman though he was tempted. If he encouraged her, it would get under Gillean's skin. He laughed when she said about sitting on his lap. "I wouldn't refuse, but I'm afraid your brother would be very displeased if he happened to come in." He carried the chair over to the desk, then proceeded to the bar where he poured her brandy and himself whiskey. Both glasses were carried over and placed on the desk so he could see to her chair.

"All of it," giving a sweeping wave of her hand, "it is the whole that makes it romantic. You wouldn't refuse," giving a slight pause here, "if you had a few drinks in you." How he made it sound. She give a slight tsking sound before she sat with a flourish, adjusting the folds of her gown. "Come sit, I'll not bother you about romance again being it seems it is fairly alien to you." Which she slid a hooded glance his way under the lush of dark lashes. A look that would be hard to read if one even attempted it. She briefly patted the cushion of the seat he would be sitting in.

"Drinks are not necessary." He chuckled as he pushed in her chair. "But supposedly, candlelight, drinks and a lovely lady is what is needed for a romantic setting." He slid into the other chair and looked at her a moment. "Are you trying to get me to talk about past romances, m'Lady?" He looked down at the stack of papers then back. "I've been told that there isn't a woman alive who would consider a mannerless, rude bore like myself worth her time." Looking up again, he smiled. "And that was by not one, but several women. Although I must admit, they used more colorful language." He shrugged slightly. "I'm told my manners have improved some."

"Indeed." Having an almost sarcastic tone to it for effect, "I am not lovely enough then." Knowing full well that was not what he meant but he left himself open to it! "If it wasn't for the looks I've gotten from other men, I could wonder if I had appeal at all." Was she teasing? Hard to tell. "Then again they were probably looking at the woman of the mansion, woman who has wealth." Brows lifted with his disclosure and the laugh slipped out before she could stop it. Hell, she probably would not have stopped it anyway. "Really? A bore. I wonder why you'd be so accused. Do you consider yourself a bore? So you have one that has passed by the idea of bore to give you some praise?" Then jumping back to a previous comment. "My brother would be as the ranging bull and you the matador." The comment came with a wink, would he believe it so? Would it scare him away? Perhaps it is why she has never had a suitor. And if forced to admit, had never really been kissed.

Now it was his turn to tsk. "You are very lovely, m'Lady. That shade of pink suits you very much. It makes your skin glow. Then again, I think your new life has brought a glow that few could match. " He looked thoughtful. "It is hard to know what men are thinking, I agree, but, even if you had no money at all, you would have their attention. As far as being a bore? Maybe I am. I'm not very good at small talk Not much interested in fashion or what this lady wore or that lord did. Crops, war, horses, yes." He looked slightly confused. "One who has given me some praise? And do you mean I'm calmer then your brother?" He picked up the glass to take a drink, but paused. "Or that we're that dangerous to one another?"

"I didn't know you had it in you, Captain. Perhaps there is still hope for you yet. I'd not expect a man to be with the fashion other than saying to the tailor, suit me in the latest fashion, if so pressed. I would imagine that a man would mostly notice a gown a woman wore if he noticed the woman or it was so outstanding it would be hard to miss or so tacky, there are two sides. Crops?" Yes, she looked genuinely surprised. War horses, training, swords, armor, those would be expected. "I suppose the last remains to be seen." Finally taking a drink of her brandy then set aside as she picked up with pen to start making the list. "King Leoric McLarkin, does he have a woman, or someone suitable to invite to hopefully see him to a few dances. Prince Gaidan is married so it will be he and his wife and how many ladies in waiting should be invited?" She wasn't sure of their names as she carefully wrote out the three royal members first.

"I don't know if he's seeing anyone or not. Last I heard, he hadn't been. There are five ladies in waiting. " He scratched at his beard as he considered. "Ladies Vadoma Ayres, Dairine Fisher, Aingeal Farrell, Coreen Duffy and um... Neassa O'Brien." He grinned at her. "Do you want the names of his knights as well. They will likely escort the royals in any case."

She wrote them down carefully checking the spelling with him too to make sure all was written properly. "Anyone else from the castle?" She wasn't sure of the setup and certainly there would be those that would be attending them which included guards and the like.

"Just the knights as I said. Those would be Sirs Vincent Hamilton, Simon Marshall, and Thane Roberts, and Dame Jaelysa. Any others would be guards, ladies' maids." That should cover the castle. He took another drink, watching her write. Occasionally, he glanced at the door, thinking he heard the creak of floorboards.

"Oh yes, can't forget about the knights." Which had her nibbling on the end of the pen where the wood came to a point. It only lasted a moment before she was carefully penning their names. "Do you know if they are with anyone or should I have it... and guest?" That would take care of that end which they then had the choice to come alone or with a lovely on their arm.

"That I don't know to be honest. And guest should cover it if they do." He gave her a smile that was almost boyish. "I don't hear as much as I used to since I came here." He did visit Montrose on occasion, but only to talk to friends there.

"Of course there is the whole of the Callihan family. I don't think any of them are with someone but I will talk to Regan on that to be certain. She would know." So she penned in their names, "a few are in Heathfield," more mumbled to herself so that the invitation found them. "You can jump in with any names," sliding a glance his way with a twinkle in her eyes before back to carefully writing out the names.

"You might want to consider Lord Charles Ackerman and his sister Marina." They were older then the two siblings. "Charles is a friend of James, I believe. Then there are the MacKinlays. The older brother is Lord Niall, the younger Cian, and their sister Brigid. She is engaged to Michael Cunningham of Heathfield. There's Earl Merlin Davis, and his two daughters, Ellena and Martina, and a younger son, William. Baron Ashdown has four sons. Colin, Andrew, Jonathan and Ryder. Colin is engaged though I don't remember the lass' name."

The hours passed as they went over the list until it grew very late. Caiome thanked Dewar for the help and as usually he insisted on seeing himself out. Within the half hour the mansion was completely quiet as all had found their beds by this point. Morning would come too soon for some of them. One Lady could at least sleep in and would.


Date: 02-12-12
Poster: Adrian Frasier
Post # 42

Time Shared

The wind whipped up blowing the fallen snow near sideways in a sheet of white at times. White outs. Still, that didn't stop some of the ships coming in nor those preparing to depart. Until the bay iced up would it stop such activity. There were many that had taken the night off as nothing important was pressing them to bear the weather. Adrian's job kept him through all kinds of weather but using his smarts too. He was mostly helping those that needed an extra hand. There was one good thing, it kept the fighting down and otherwise public nuisances were huddled away in one of the inns not wishing to be thrown back out into the cold. Thanks were given, and the promise to buy him a few rounds next they were in, had Adrian leaving the one pier and starting down the boardwalk. Collar was turned up to keep the snow from his neck of the heavy woolen cloak he wore. An Irish cap tipped to one side would keep his head warm and snow from his face. A long scarf was tossed around his neck that he could draw up to cover half his face as he proceeded to do.

The Dream was in port, after a run from Kildare. It would stay another day or two, then Regan intended to back to Kildare. The weather was always iffy this time of year, but there was a purpose behind her decision. It didn't have anything to do with the weather but with a promise made to her cousin, Caiome. Regan had grown up in Montrose where the weather could be wild, and the snow deep. She still dressed warmly, in a long overcoat of red velvet, lined with fur and a hood instead of one of her wide brimmed hat. Gloves and a scarf helped keep her warm though the scarf didn't hide those bright blue eyes. Boots kept her steady on the boards of ship, docks or boardwalk. She had just finished a transaction and was making back to the Dream. The wind caused one of those white outs, making her step to the side to lean against a building until she could see again. That had her thinking, she was looking forward to being in tropical waters again.

It was when she stepped aside she'd find an arm slide around her to keep her steady, "Nice night, wouldn't you say Captain?" Hopefully she recognized Adrian's voice or at least catch her swing as he had drawn down the scarf so his words were not muffled. She'd see the smile and set of white teeth briefly shown. The dark green eyes under near black brows that the flakes were trying to stick to, as well the scruff along his jaw.

Had she not recognized the voice, Regan would have reacted in a most unladylike way. Instead she turned slightly in his hold so she could look up at him. "Lovely night, Master Frasier. One that has me wondering if you ever take a rest from your patrols. You and that brother of mine." Snow coated her lashes and she laughed. "You look as much a snowman as I likely do."

He didn't seem to readily relinquish his hold. In fact, although loosely, he kept his arm around her, tucking her close against him to stave off the weather. "Aye, makes me wonder as well." There was humor in his voice, "there is also this other Captain that keeps just as strange hours out in questionable weather." Which had him chuckle on the comment of Adam. "Aye, he's got the same bug up his arse..." which he had not stopped quick enough but then, Regan had heard worse. Certainly. Then again in his eyes she was still an upstanding lady even if she chose a rougher life than most of her gender. A gloved hand lifted to brush away the snow from her face but he only got more on it. Up the hand went as teeth pressed into the leather ends and he drew the leather glove from his hand. His hand was warm that now touched her skin and drew away the snow that would otherwise stay. The glove was then retrieved and drawn back on. "Yea see, I was heading for that ship over there to visit someone I've not seen in too long a time." Giving a slight upnod in the direction of her ship which she didn't need to look over her shoulder to know where he meant.

Regan just laughed at the comment, shrugging it off. She knew her brother well enough, and nothing short of being near dead would keep him from his work. Blue eyes sparkled even in the shadows of the overhang as he brushed away the snow. "I'm afraid that won't be lastin' very long. It's snowing too heavy to keep it away." She grinned, knowing full well where he meant. "Well, then, why don't we continue on and see if there's something to warm up a near frozen man. I happen to know the captain keeps potcheen on hand as well as some other drinks."

"Aye, I was hoping yea would be offering as I think you may be as cold as I am getting, or will be if we stay out in this much longer." Which he kept her tucked to his side with a strong arm for the way was slippery and spots unseen when the snow from the ground blew up to meet that which was falling. Luckily by the time they had met up, her ship was not that far so it wouldn't take them long but take them a lot longer than it should, however.

"I haven't been out as long as you." She fixed the scarf again as they made their way toward the ship. She looked up at the ship as they neared, watching the masts a moment to make sure they weren't swaying. The sails had been rolled up and everything fastened down well before the storm hit. She slid from his side when they reached the gangplank. Two going up at the same time would be dangerous. "Come on, then, Adrian. Let's get out of the wind." Her usual guards had gone up ahead, and a sharp whistle sounded to announce her return. There was always a watch but tonight, he or she was watching from beneath an overhang where a small brazier burned for warmth.

"I have a feeling there would be a posse out after you if you hadn't returned within a reasonable amount of time due to the weather." Words were low between them and certainly a compliment to her crew they cared enough in what happened to her. "I'm thinking of sailing again." Far too long for a sea captain not to be out at sea. The drive was starting to get to him much to the pleasure of his crew. Adrian would figure out a way to do both. He had her go first once she slipped from his arms for if there was any slipping, it would put her back into them again. "You have potcheen stocked I'm assuming.."

"Aye, I do." She saluted the crew member who had piped her aboard, then gave him a little push. "Get back over to the warmth, Johnny, before your nose freezes off. And other things best not mentioned." She laughed as the youth scurried off then turned to walk backwards. "A ship from Heathfield and her sister realms would be having a poor Captain if there wasn't potcheen aboard. So, when are you planning to sail again?" She couldn't have a better crew, and she well knew it. When she reached the door, she turned and opened it. "And you're right about me crew. Course, they give me a certain amount of time to get lost." Or send one of her men back with word she'd be late. The cabin was warm with it's own brazier going. The outer room held table, chairs and a large desk as well as shelves, behind glass doors. A bit extravagant but Regan could see everything she had. "Step inside and we'll let the snow and ice melt away. " Even though the buildings of the dock area were not so far away, the snow made them near impossible to be seen.

As she turned backwards, he was right there moon walking with her. He got that up close and personal that she might even be able to tell where the pupils of his eyes were for being such a dark green. Their breaths fogged with each word spoken and even just breathing. "Aye, that I would agree. And aye, a captain can only stay so long on land." He didn't comment on her comment about giving her room. They would not be her crew much longer if they didn't. A hand lifted to capture the door over her head once she opened it and soon they were both within as he saw to closing it behind them. He was already pulling the gloves from hand and fingers as he stepped within as well discard some of his outer wear. "Nice cabin yea have here." Which he was appreciative of the space and how she had it set up.

She slipped under his arm and inside, pulling off the scarf then the gloves. They were tossed over a small table near the brazier to dry and her cloak hung near. She offered to take his as well, then she grinned. "I learned how to make use of every bit of space back when I was sailing with me brothers. Me cabin wasn't so big then. Only problem I have is when the glass breaks but see, the wires in diamond pattern? James suggested leaded glass in that style to make it strong." She headed for the area where the liquor was stored, removing two pewter goblets and a bottle of potcheen. In port, the ship still rocked and swayed but not as much as it would have out on the open sea. "How's your family?" She asked as she poured the two goblets full. Of course, that could cover a lot if he spoke of them all.

"It's a good idea," which was one he used too but didn't get into that. Glass would break even fortified if hit hard enough but less likely. He was still use to the sway even if not on a ship constantly at the moment."My family does well and I hope the same of yours? Tell me of your adventures." He was genuinely interested as only another captain could be. He settled onto a chair once she was back. Indeed it could be a very long conversation if he started to talk on all of his family but he'd rather hear about her.

"Aye, they're all doing well. Father has grown stronger, much to his pleasure, since he's not feeling like an invalid. I think me brothers Morgan and Faelan are up to something, but then again, I always think that of them." She handed him one of the goblets before she took up another chair. "My sisters are happily keeping busy and my cousins are settled at Swan Lake Manor." She had to hide a grin when she thought of how happy Cai was and how Gillean was uncomfortable. "My adventures... lately I've been making Bridgeport my home during the winter season. I met a Voudun priestess who told me I attract trouble. Oh, and I had a close call with BlackBeard himself." She was close enough to see the man's eyes.

"You didn't need any priestess to tell you that." Giving her a wink but she might notice that he genuinely cared about her and what happened. The life she chose was hard for even a man let alone a lass. Still there were those females that were just as drawn to the sea and trouble. Regan was one of those. The last had him pause, kick back his drink, then set it aside. "Aye, I've heard rumors about him and the other two emerging again in that area and a few others." Maybe one of the reasons he had an itch to get back out at sea.

"This was along the coast of North Africa. I sailed there to find some new sources of trade, and used a friend's ship in case they were about. Sometime partner in trade as well. My first mate and I decided to see the sights in one of the cities, and there he was, big as life. I put on a burka. My mate robes and a turban and followed him. Not sure what gave us away but he gave chase." Regan took a drink and chuckled. "We hid in a cafe, and BlackBeard came in. Tore the veil of the wrong woman. We didn't stick around to see the fight but I assume he got away." She had made good coin on that trip. "I haven't been back since, and likely won't until I hear they've moved on. The Spanish ships are said to be prime targets for the three." All that lovely gold coming from the Americas.

"Aye," he was taking it all in to be added with all the information that was already gained for him. "You do flirt with a deadly snake in that one or any of the three for that matter." He gave a nod to the last as such an incident would not keep a man like that down at all. "They're building up again. You can be sure there are a few on their list who set them back last time around. There is the draw of the adventure but you should be careful where any of those three are concern let alone when they are together."

"We left as soon as we got back to the ship, left the coast as well and headed across the ocean." She looked up at the ceiling of the cabin, but she wasn't really seeing it. "He had a man in Tortuga but I'd not be surprise if that one found his end from the blade of a knife. I'm sure Doom keeps an eye on things too. And I'm not ashamed to admit if I hear of any of them sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean, I'll set sail for other waters. I might flirt with danger, Adrian but I'm no fool. My ship might outrun theirs but they've been sailing a long time. I know when I'm outgunned." She was serious now. "That meeting was an accident and had I known the ship was his, I wouldn't have had the Benevolence make port. I guess he lost his last one again."

He watched her with interest, listened too, with interest. He found just about everything about her with interest. "That is good to hear. Relieving in fact for I wish nothing to happen to you." Words barely withheld the intensity behind them. "There are lots of rumors that float around a port. Any port for that matter. I prefer to dispel ones that I've a reason behind dispelling them. I find it hard to believe the one I hear on you."

"Rumors can be dangerous." Regan shrugged slightly, eyes still holding that sparkle. A half smile appeared and she studied him over the rim of the goblet held in her hands. "What is it that you find hard to believe, Adrian? You have me curious now." She took a sip of the potcheen after asking, lowering the goblet again.

He counted on that curiosity. "That the lady captain really wanted to be a man, that she doesn't look at men the way a woman would. Although she wished to be a man, she is not interested in women but neither of men." Oh, he was doing his best keeping a straight face but the twitch was there at the corners of his lips. Once. Twice. Dark eyes holding hers the while to discern every little nuance.

She lowered her goblet and stared at him a moment, then burst out laughing. "Ah, I would say that came from a male who tried to flirt and failed. " She placed the goblet on the table, near her elbow, her chin resting on her raised hand. "I don't flirt well, and I never have. Perhaps if I used a fan?" Chuckling again, she shook her head. "More then likely, it was spread by someone whose ego I hurt." She gave a slight shrug. "And I have no romantic interests in women." She gave him an impish grin. "Now sure, but there's also the one that says I'm a man-eater ." She shrugged. "Best not to worry on any, aye?"

"Aye, methinks that would be the case here and I hope I don't end up failing for you see.." here he paused a few seconds as he gathered his thoughts. "It's been a long time since I kissed a woman and I've been wanting to kiss you since we first met. I'm pleased you have no romantic interest in women for that would ruin the whole idea..." which had that smile finally tuck within the trimmed beard, "for I don't consider myself a woman by any stretch of the imagination." Deciding not to add anything more until he gained her reaction to all of that!

She looked at Adrian for a long moment, chuckling. "Now there are some men who would enjoy seeing another woman with a woman." She wasn't bothering to hide her amusement when she answered. With his next comment, she took another moment to look him up and down. "No, you don't look like a woman at all." Her eyes closed slightly as she raised them to his. "If you wish to kiss me, then you should. But I cannot make any promises. As you know, the sea is a harsh mistress, or in my case, master. And the future is always uncertain." She had to find out what the Voudun priestess had meant by things she would learn. One never knew.

"I'm not asking for promises.. for I am one of the sea as well." And knew full well that it would take far more than one kiss to make any promises or at least attempt them. Being she was that close, he reached over to take hold, strong yet gentle, and draw her onto his lap. "Now this is a bit better," as one hand rose then to filter through the strands of her hair in drawing them from her face. There was fire in the dark of his eyes as brows slightly dipped at the bridge of his nose. The intensity even more profound this close while fingers dove down and around the back of her neck and head. There was a quick ravishing touch that was drawn back near as quick as his lips assaulted hers then in again, a touch more gentle but coaxing to let the fire burn and share in the inferno brought on by a longer real kiss.

He would find no resistance, though still there was a hint of a smile. Such a scandal if her sisters' saw her. Not really, but there would be questions. She slid her arms around his neck, her eyes closing as their lips touched. The quick touch left her lips still in a pout. And then her lips molded to his, sharing in that fire that had started in his eyes and spread.

There were some that would be extremely jealous if they knew he was kissing her just as there were those males that would be jealous of him. Except his thoughts were not there but on the kiss as her lips responded to his It was a dance of its own he was thoroughly enjoying. Eyes had long closed and his fingers caressed against the back of her head just as much like his lips over hers. He didn't even notice that the storm had picked up to near blizzard quality, the snow heavier and the ship to rock more side to side. A feel he was so accustomed to, it only added to the exploration. The dip of his tongue came to part her lips and delve even deeper.

The kiss deepened and so did her response as she tangled her fingers through his hair. She couldn't get any closer then she was... close enough to feel the beat of his heart. A soft murmur sounded softly as their tongues met in a dance. This close, she would smell of sea air and sweet jasmine, just a hint, a tease to the senses.

Which only stimulated his senses more but he knew there should not be anything more than the kiss. This night. He had respect for her but then again if she dragged him off to her bed, he'd not resist! The murmur was met with a deeper growl held low in his throat as tongues entangled and teased in a dance known instinctively throughout time. Finally he came up for air but his lips worked over hers still once his tongue slipped free. "I like.." lips meeting and up again, "how," once more delving before lifting, "you kiss."

Not this night but perhaps another. One never knew with the Callihan Captain. She took in a breath, then her eyes opened part way as he spoke and kissed, spoke and kissed. The Captain gave a soft laugh, not quite a giggle. "I like how you kiss as well." An impish look appeared in her eyes. "And here I was thinking you had no practice."

He knew it was getting late but his smile lingered one that touched in the darkness of his eyes. "Then perhaps, we can try it again but I make no promises." The tease was evident there but she could tell he would like to do such again. "I should get back but let me know when you're leaving." She had mentioned she had to get on the go again. He kept her on his lap, not willing to give up the closeness just yet.

"And I would expect none of a sea-faring man." She tapped his nose lightly then smiled. "Perhaps we will." She didn't get up just yet, keeping her arms around his neck. "I have a ball to attend, as promised to my cousin, Caiome. I'm not quite sure of the date, but we'll not be leaving until it's over. I do need to sail back to Kildare once the storm is over and it's safe to travel." She wouldn't even dare attempt to take the Dream out to sea to avoid it at this point. The wind howled and she looked upward. "As reluctant as I am to have you leave, I think you better make your way back to your office, Adrian. It sounds worse." He didn't need to get lost in the storm on his way back!

"A ball? And your going to be at it?" Now there was a thought to get to it himself. Why not? He could dance and he would enjoy dancing with her. He had his contacts even in Kildare and would find out more. "Aye, I should or I'll be sleeping on the floor of your ship." Which would not be too comfortable. He finally eased up, taking her with him as he brought her into a hug. The hug ended with a kiss to her lips that would hopefully carry off into her dreams as a reminder of the one they shared this night. "Good night captain.." leaving it hang as if unfinished business.

"I wouldn't make you sleep on the floor. There are guest quarters should the wind be too strong." She stood and hugged him in return, her head tipped up to accept the kiss. "Good night, captain Dockmaster." She grinned at the title she had just given him, then walked him to the door. There she waited for him to wrap up again, while she did the same to escort him to the gangplank.

"You need not come out into the cold," halting her there at the door although he appreciated the thought. Warmed him in fact. "I will see you soon." If she didn't leave for a few days he would do his best to spend time with her. A quick warm touch of his lips to the tip of her nose before he was ducking out the door and hurrying through the wind, braced against it as he maneuvered off the ship and moved quickly to his place. He would disappear from her sight before he even got off the ship for the visibility had gotten worse with the snow.

She watched as long as she could until he disappeared from sight then shut out the cold. Even if he didn't make it to his quarters, he'd at least be able to duck into one of the taverns. The thought made her laugh. He might well be good and warm before he got into bed. And that's where she headed after blowing out the lanterns. It was time to sleep.


Date: 02-13-12
Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 43

Trip to the Port

It was a great day to awake to even if the cold winds of winter still blew. She was hoping her cousin Regan would show up one day .. very soon to help her with the list of guests. Still there were the decorations to be worked on and they needed a few more trees. There was also the list of libations that she worked on and now had ready to hand to her brother. She was putting him in charge of the drinking being he knew better of what was the best drink. Beside, it was better to make him a part of all this being the Lord of Swan Lakes. It would mean a trip to the Port and she was determined to see it as well. The handyman had assured her, as he seemed to be around every place she went, that they had a warehouse stocked with many wines, kegs of beer and so forth along the pier. So she dressed warmly with that idea in mind before going in search of her brother. Gown was a heavier wool of deep red offset in black satin. It made durability look presentable in her eyes. Cai was informed that his Lordship had gone outside to see to matters there. Hence the toss of a heavy woolen cloak around her shoulders before the hood was drawn up, gloves and scarf added last before she was out through the kitchen door leading to the back.

Dewar was outside, making sure the newly falling snow was cleared once more from the rink. He didn't want to have his men trying to remove snow that was four feet deep the day before the party. The latest reports had been good, with no sign of bandits. They were using ashes to keep the paths from being slippery and some of the younger lads were making sure to uncover the lighting. He was well protected from the wind in cloak and gloves though his face was red from the cold.

The Lord of Swan Lakes was in the stables, bent at the waist, palms to his knees, to take a look at the rim of the cracked hoof the stablemaster was presenting to him. They spoke in lowered tones about the animal's diet, what salves to apply, horse this, horse that, then the red beast's leg was lowered and Gillean stood up with a stretch. He reached out and gave the man's shoulder a pat and drew in a deep breath. "As long as the others aren't showing the same damage, we'll just focus our attention on getting this guy healed up." The pat of palm to the horse's broad flank probably held more affection than the one offered to the man, but then, Gill didn't seem the type to give much more mind to those who served him as the beasts that did as well. Proof he hadn't meant to get more involved than just looking was in the fact that he still had on his black, woolen coat and leather gloves. His scarf hadn't even loosened around his neck with the effort. He let loose a long exhaled breath with the completion of his stretch then started away, back stepping to look out of the window he had flickered a glance to in passing. It was the red against the white that had snatched his attention, but he stood where he was, watching Caiome cross the landscape from his hidden point of regard. Dark eyes narrowed as he let his gaze drift in front of her, out toward the rink...and who he recognized there. From the captain, back to his sister, then back to the captain he allowed his notice to skip and actually took a few steps closer to the window to see better who would ... notice ... first.

The rink was closest as she started in that direction but soon discovered it was only a red face Dewar standing there in command over his men who were busy shoveling. There was a second indecision that had her standing there before she turned and started in the one other place closest, the stables. She knew her brother liked to ride but to go riding on a cold night like this, well, she would not put it past him.

Dewar was busy so he didn't notice the Lady yet. He was leaning slightly to hear what one of the young squires had to say. He laughed and answered then watched the boy run back to his chore.

When his sister paused, his gaze narrowed even more, but then she turned and started toward the stables, which brought his brows up with surprise. He shot a look back out to the rink, then nodded to himself. "Keep me posted." He called to the stablemaster and headed for the side door. He closed it solid behind him and started toward Cai, pulling the collar of his coat up around the thick scarf around his neck. He ducked his head against the cold but kept his eyes on his approaching sister. "Aren't you a vision in red." He nodded to the hem of red and black winking from beneath her cloak with her steps.

She hefted the material of cloak and skirts up as she noticed the one figure that was her brother come through the side door. She managed a few yards before they were dropped (big mistake) and her arms were thrown open wide. "Gillean," excitement in her voice that she had found him as she started too quickly forward and ... disappeared down into a good few feet of snow.

Gill reacted with a lunge forward, but the distance between them wouldn't keep Cai from landing face first in the snow. He was quickly over to her though, giving her a hand to her upper arm to help her back to her feet. "I am beginning to believe you enjoy lying in the snow, Dearest. Are you all right?" While that one hand held her, the other was busy brushing the snow off of her.

She was laughing by the time he reached her, rolled over with a coating of snow down her front and melting on her face. Her hand slipped in his, allowing his strength to bring her to her feet, "I really do need a new pair of boots.." more mussed as she was going to blame her boots! Eyes were aglow with that sparkle nonetheless for the mishap. "I'm good," as she helped him dust the snow from her cloak. She was then giving him a tight hug just because. An impromptu of emotion she easily gave into. "I hope I find a man like you one day." He might disagree but in her eyes there were few .. if any .. that stood a chance. She released him next as she waved a list she withdrew from her pocket. "We need to get to the port to see about some of these libations we don't have enough in stock of."

One not like her brother heard voices and turned a moment to watch the siblings. Then he turned back to signal to the lads working. It was time for their shift to end and for them to enjoy a hot meal. When some didn't react, he let out a shrill whistle to get their attention. Tomorrow was another day.

"And I hope you meet a man worthy of you one day." Gillean spoke low, probably too low for even his sister to hear as she fussed with her clothing and continued with her comments. He nodded to her when she spoke of the need for additional spirits, taking the list and tucking it to his coat pocket, even as he glanced over his shoulder with that whistle. It might have been meant to catch the attention of the guards working, but it managed to snag more than just that. "I'll...see to it, Caiome." Gill muttered, fully intending to do as he promised, but at the moment, watching something else.

"Aye, I wish to go. You'll be there with me and I will learn how to go about this." She really wanted to learn. "You can have a few guards come too," willing even to put up with a guard! She indicated in Dewar's direction, "I think they can manage without an onlooker to clear the snow.." amusement persisted through her words as Dewar stood there over his men, or were they not men but squires?

Not just squires, there were other guards there as well. They each spoke to Dewar as they passed, including O'Brien, who made a remark that had Dewar laughing. After he was sure not one was left out in the cold, he started after them. The guards for the night were coming out of the barracks and again, he stopped to have a few words with them. Two would be patrolling and to them, he pointed north while he spoke.

"Can they?" Gillean watched as the men were sent on their way, Dewar to continue with his duties. He turned his gaze back to Caiome. "I take it the two of you finished your list for guests?" With his guidance, he steered her around, meaning to make their way back to the manor and the warmth within. One could only hope it would remain the two of them...but then, this was Caiome, and that, Michael. Maybe if he moved her a bit faster...

"Yes, although I can't be sure it has everyone needed. I will see to that." Not stating that Regan hoped to get here as she couldn't even be sure her cousin could make it. Be it the weather or some adventure that would keep her. All the while she was being steered, had it been anyone else other than her brother, that steering might go way astray. She dipped a glance to where Dewar and the guards were then back to her brother as they reached the mansion. She was uncertain if he would let her come with him or the need of any guard or guards. Usually guards when she ventured anywhere it could prove dangerous. She didn't have to worry before she became the Lady of Swan Lakes and set into a higher position in society. It had its pluses but there was a lot to get use to as well.

Michael had waited for the men to leave before he glanced toward the mansion. It looked like he was going to be able to be where he was comfortable. With a soft chuckle, he headed inside the barracks himself, eager to get out of the cold.

Note, Gillean had not continued along that line of discussion for a good reason. That dip of gaze she had shot in that particular direction did not go without her brother's notice. She didn't press for the captain's company so Gillean kept their direction to the front door on track. So far, so good.

They made it to the front steps as the butler opened up the door, ready to take their cloaks and see to any other immediate needs asked of him. Hood came down as her brother had still not answered her. "I can get a pair of boots in the cobbler shop there.." replace the ones she had fallen a few times wearing them.

What did he have to answer? "We should have already seen to that." He commented, shrugging out of his cloak as the butler saw to Caiome's. "You can spend some time with the cobbler while I see to your list." All so pleasantly spoken so not to even sound as if he was keeping her from anything she wished to do, more so, making sure she was doing exactly what she needed to do.

"We shall go tonight then, within the hour?" She seemed anxious to get this done and it was early enough to make the excursion. "I will set to the coach being made ready," which the Butler would be seeing to in actuality.

"So you were already planning to ..." Gillean chuckled, hitching his shoulder to bring the coat back over his back where he had just dropped it away. He looked over to the Butler, but the man didn't look his way. Wrapped tight around the lady's little finger he was, dammitall. "Send for Captain Dewar." Gill growled with the unmistakable tone of begrudging the need to request it to the butler who continued to avoid his gaze.

Whew... came under her breath as her eyes lit up again. "As the saying goes, there is no time like the present to see to this matter. I'm sure there will be a lot of last minute things to be done and I wish this not to be one of them." Which the words rang true as she straightened the lapel of his cloak. "I get to spend the evening with you and a small feast to return to being prepared. Roasted quail." One of his favorites.

Dewar was halfway through his meal when the message came. He grumbled under his breath but sent the lad back to the house. A few more bites were shoveled into his mouth before he grabbed his cloak and gloves. He went back to the table, gobbled down the rest to the amusement of his men, drank half of his ale and gave them not so nice salute. "O'Brien, you're in charge." Out he went, and headed for the mansion where he knocked on the front door.

"Quail? Then why must we venture from the house at ..." The knock ceased his complaint. In fact, it caused him to stiffen, the smile for his sister fading from his features. He lifted his hat, raked his hand through his hair, then tugged the thing back on. As she said, no time like the present, even if 'presently' he'd have to endure longing looks he couldn't control any more than he could control his sister's ability to manipulate him.

"Well.." her brother was just standing there waddlegaggling as they use to call it. Lost in some moment she had no idea where it took him as she patted his face. "You shall eat your fill later this evening and be content for the fresh air and duty we see to shall enhance that appetite of yours." Wink came quick as she moved around him to the door, "perhaps it is a lady friend to see you that makes you so hesitant," teasing him as she opened the door only to find Dewar standing there. "Well.." was all she could manage considering her prior words.

Well? Dewar nearly laughed but only gave Caiome a mild, questioning look. "A lad brought a message and said your brother wished to see me, Lady Caiome." He looked over her head at the noble standing there. "My Lord." Just a slight nod of his head but he was wondering what the two had been talking about... No, maybe it was better he didn't know.

Oh yes! How thoughtless of him! Because he had so many lady friends! Past Caiome he saw Dewar and heard him speak to his sister. "Caiome wishes to go into town tonight and we will be in need of a guard's escort due to the hour." There was the explanation he would get. Gill started foward, reaching above his sister's head to take the door so she could go out before him. "She has already seen to the carriage to save some time because she knows how much I enjoy quail and that I do not wish to be waylaid from my enjoyment overly long."

Which near had her cheeks hurting from restraining the smile that wished to break free, causing dimples in her cheeks instead. "Yes, yourself or whomever," giving a wave of her hand being there were other guards employed by her brother that were under him if he wished to pass the duty on to another like O'Brien. The carriage was already outside waiting as she dipped by both men, not wasting another moment that could be spent in getting to the port. The footman was down to see her within and there were two horses made ready in case either or both wished to ride instead of making use of the carriage. There was, of course, enough room for her brother within if he so wished and the back or front end of the carriage would accommodate the guard or guards should her brother wish more than one.

"Of course, m'Lord. Do you wish more then one." Caiome had just given him an out and he considered it for a moment but no. He was here and ready. It wouldn't take long to get another guard if desired. He watched as Caiome slipped by, just long enough to see her getting inside the carriage. It was automatic. She was the lady of the manor and he was to keep an eye on her. As much as was possible.

Gill allowed the butler to see to closing the door as he moved past Dewar, not even looking in his direction. "No, you would do well enough." He managed to ease up alongside his sister, bracing his palm to her elbow to assist her into the carriage. And he would ride with her inside to keep her company. It was always the way.

And she was always pleased when he rode with her. It made her feel safe and comfortable. There were times, like this moment, he might notice her watching him but would avert her gaze if his should meet. It was more the reflection that he was really here with her after the last few horrid years she thought she might never see him again. Many wondered why she had not been herself, it was because her beloved brother was not part of her life. He was her hero and had been since she was little. To avoid any questions her gaze left the window of the carriage and scene of snow covered hills rolling by, back to her brother. "Our first spring will be here. What improvements can we work on? The gardens, the stable, any part of the mansion?"

Well, at least there was a horse for him. He just shook his head as he headed for the mount, though he stopped and grabbed a scarf from a passing guard. The man could get another. Mounting, he gave a wave to the coachman, letting him know he was ready. Looking up at the sky, he noticed a few stars were out. That brought a slight smile and another shake of his head. So much for a peaceful night.

Gill made sure Caiome had a fur over her legs and then settled back to his cushioned bench opposite her. He smiled, resting his head against the wood behind him. "Allow me some time to just sit and not think, Rabbit. You have this party of yours to see completed even before I begin to ponder the upcoming spring." Although, he had already been forced to make preparations. Certain improvements, necessary repairs, required months of planning, of purchasing to see to the required ends. Yes, he had started, but the final feminine touches would be left for his sister. He turned his head to look out of the window, lifting a hand to move the covering which helped keep the chill out so that he could see the dark exterior beyond and mark the guard set for his sister's safety.

Which had a pondering thought emerge as she listened. "Are you happy my dearest brother?" Words were low and came from the heart for she wanted him to be happy if happiness was possible at all. There was a time when they were carefree and happy and she so hoped to recapture that or at least something similar being nothing could ever be the same again. See, she had deeper thoughts that showed themselves where her brother was concern.

Dewar was beside the coach where the road was wide enough. He'd be in the back of it where the road narrowed, or front as needed. The roads were familiar to him and being they weren't traveling clear to Heathfield, this was a trip he didn't mind. Familiar house, farms and even the bark of a certain dog made it easy to identify where they were. That didn't mean he wasn't paying attention. Trouble could happen anytime, anywhere.

Gill had closed his eyes with the motion of the carriage, but when his sister asked that question, he opened them and turned his head against the wood behind it to look over to her. The two lanterns beside the doors set Caiome's features in soft display, and heavy lidded, her brother smiled over to her. "There is nothing I have longed for more than to see you smile, everyday. I wake to find your smiles and the last I go to my chamber at night, I am blessed with your smiles. How could I not be happy?" Were they ever truly carefree and happy? Perhaps Caiome, it was the younger Gillean's sole purpose in life when they were younger to make it seem so, no matter their father's ill intent. When they were ensconced in the castle, Gillean was kind in the eyes of his sister, but he was arrogant and demanding, with the world his for the taking how could he not demand it on a platter of silver? Reality was a bitter potion to swallow though, and it made for an even more bitter aftertaste called life. Caiome was what kept Gillean going all these years, she was still what kept him sane even to this night.

His reply set her at ease and brought that smile he so loved. "Then I am happy." The tie between them was strong, maybe because he had sheltered her from the worse of life, from the worse of their father. She leaned her head back then and let her eyes drift close or he might see the water that had formed in them threatening into tears. Tears of relief for so much that had happened. Luckily it wasn't too long before they were arriving into the port of Kildare. Already there was some fight going down as red marked white in a few places. The furious whistles of the harbor patrol could be heard amongst the shouting. The port was very much alive as it seemed a band of bandits were at work and got caught or in the process of being caught. There was a thud against the side of their carriage as one of the bandits tried to overpower the driver and take over the carriage in his getaway. The thud had her startled wide awake.

Once they were at the port, Dewar pushed his cloak to one side to make it easier to reach his sword. The docks were as wild as ever, and his horse snorted nervously. A few men got in between himself and the carriage, causing the horse to dance nervously. "Move, or I'll run you down." He nearly did too as he charged forward when he saw the man attack the driver. The horse would follow the coach, and if anyone tried to climb into his saddle, they'd find themselves flying through the air. Only known riders allowed. He managed to climb up the back of the coach, balancing as it swerved wildly. Hell, not only did he have to stop the bandit but there were people in the way!


Date: 02-13-12
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 44

A Wintry Night

It was another wintry night, winds blew, temperatures dropped, but at least the snow wasn't blowing like it had been the other night. Most were busy about their business along the piers as even now many were finding shelter from the cold. A warm hearth, warm food and drink were far more appealing than anything else this evening. Except for one lone figure down at the furthest point, standing out on a jagged ledge of stone. The long cloak flapped about lined boots as well the length of a scarf would rise up at times like a flag in the wind. A captain's hat upon his head kept it warm to some degree as he pulled up the collar of his cloak to keep the bite from penetrating even with the scarf. Otherwise he was unmoving like a chisel statue that sprouted up overnight.

One never knew where the Callihan Captain might turn up, though she had not planned for an extra day in Heathfield. A minor accident had prevented cargo from being loaded and so it was hoped tomorrow would see the Dream on her way. The figure at the end of the docks, and on the rock that jutted out into the bay was pointed out to Regan by one of her crew. She sent the man ahead to the tavern to join others and started making her way down the docks. A warm cloak protected her just as it had last night, thought this one was of oilskin. The rocks were slippery with ice but she moved as easily as an Elf until she reached the man standing there. She merely stepped up beside him, not saying a word as she looked in the direction he was staring.

She had barely reached him when he spoke low, never once glancing her way to see who it was. Perhaps he knew, perhaps it didn't matter. One could only guess. "Even in death there is a magnificence contained in her," if she followed his gaze it would take it to the skeleton ship crashed upon the rocks. A reminder of how nature can rue the day, anyone's day. The hull stuck up with one smaller mast still intact, many planks missing that lent to the frame or bones in this case in his reference as if she had been alive. Tattered sails still flapped in the wind. There was a moment of silence before he spoke again. "How are you Regan?" It was only then that he tore his gaze from a ship he would remember and those she took with her, the sea claiming them and her but had spit him out.

"I find that to be true of many wrecks, though they don't last long. She'll likely be gone by winter's end." She looked at him, face shadowed beneath the cloak. "I'm doing well, Segan. I thought that it was you standing here. How many did you lose that night?" She knew how close she was with her crew, and how the loss must still touch him.

There was blond scruff along his jaw as if he hadn't bothered to shave for a day or so. Usually he was smooth skin. It didn't take away from the aristocratic cut of his face. "I lost twenty-eight good men and there were then ten more ... out of sixty that were wounded bad enough they may never sail again. Some of those may anyway." Which the while he eased open his cloak and drew it around her as he tucked her close. The action was not only smooth but a reasonable one for the cold.

"I've valuable cargo beneath the sea there that I know has not been gone after even if enough know about it. The waters are far too cold even for the most daring of thieves." Which he let that sink in but knew it would be a race against time once it could be managed at all. He could very well lose his cargo not to the sea but ruthless men. "I am concern not so much in the sailors that frequent our port for they are superstitious too that me ship would capture and claim them in her count of the dead. It is the pirates we discovered not far from the spot where they had found me washed upon the shore, that are of concern. So far there has not been any more signs of them but I know they will be back." Blue eyes were as dark as a stormy night as the line of his jaw clenched with the thought.

"Not only the cold and superstition but when the weather warms, the rocks themselves will be dangerous. You might be wise to speak to the Crown." She had allowed her gaze to drift back to the ship when he had tucked her beneath his cloak. She frowned at mention of the pirates, but knew it couldn't be ones that were known. Otherwise they'd not dare the shores of Heathfield. "This close to the port, they'd find their lives at risk." Valuable could mean so many things. "Have you made plans on how to protect it, watch over it once the warmer weather comes?"

"Oh, they were not along the coast here but further down past the point. They had dragged me there. I didn't land where most of my crew washed up. Davin Byrne has seen them too I found out." It would be something the Crown was keeping an eye on as guards were sent but came up with nothing. Only remnants that prove someone or ones had been there. "I've an idea. I hear that the Alterians have a contraption that you can go under water and retrieve things, has arms and graspers like a hands." Which he'd been fascinated to learn about but didn't have the time. "By the time I healed we were off to Eire to help out our uncle in their legal battle with the English over land."

"Davin is your cousin, isn't he?" She smiled slightly. "The Lighthouse Keeper." His next words had her pausing. "An underwater ship then?" She hadn't heard about that but it would be something to have when sailing and maybe find lost treasure, provided Davy Jones was willing to give it up. "How did things go for your family there?" Yes, she had heard the Quinn men had returned home. Tales moved quickly even here.

"Aye, he is but if I said me cousin you might not know whom I was talking about." Which had a crooked smile slip easily into place as focus was on her then lifted away to one last look on the silhouette of his wrecked ship. He wondered if her words would be true, if what remained would be gone by the spring but he doubted it for a strange thought that it would linger for a long time as a reminder. Like there was some magic or voodoo connected. He was back to the topic at hand. "More like a bubble than a ship. I think it can only contain one man." Although he wasn't sure on that or how many they had. "It was not an easy road, there were deaths and I got to see the dungeon. Some surprises, quite a few tales and far more to them than telling while standing in the cold. Unless.." and here he paused dipping a glance down to her again with her tucked snugly in warmth against him. "You'd like to stay where you are?" Slight lift of his brows with the last of his words.

"Well, it's plenty warm enough but I'm thinking folks might wonder at the strange apparition staring out over the ocean with four legs." She chuckled at the thought. "Me crew was heading for a night of cards, drinking and food if you'd like to join them. Or we can go to the Blue Marlin and warm up and talk." Her crew deserved a night of fun before they headed out to sea again. They'd be lively and ready to go by afternoon.

"The silhouette of a man and woman together, standing out on a ledge overlooking the choppy sea below, a skeleton ship crashed upon the rocks with the moon rising above. Valentine's day is not far ahead, they would think we are lovers and part of something very ancient that deals with Poseidon." Blue eyes never left hers but it was more logical, smarter, to get out of the cold than some romantic idea. He didn't think this particular Captain was attracted to romance that he knew of anyway. Then again, he'd not judge for he didn't come off much as being a lady's man. "I'd like a more quiet night with you than a crowd bent on drinking and gaming. Save that for another night." He was obviously in another kind of mood than the usual carousing that afflicted most sailors.

Not the classic swooning woman, gallant knight type of romantic, no. At least not yet. She could understand his mood however, and inclined her head. "The Blue Marlin then or another place with fewer people and less noise?" Even the Marlin could get noisy though Marlana kept things well in hand. She glanced up at the sky and smiled slightly. "Seems the clouds are moving out." Which would make it even colder.

"I would not wish to compromise you by saying your cabin when there are secluded booths in the Marlin. I would prefer leaving the choice up to you as I would see to your wishes as best to my ability." Certainly more could be read into that and certainly this captain could see to fulfilling his words if that were the choice. He'd not offer such to just anyone and she'd know that instinctively. He only tucked her closer as the wind was picking up. It was a cold moonlight that played in iridescent light chasing shadows in twilight effect around them.

"I would invite you to me cabin but there is a lack of food there until tomorrow and I'm in need of a hot meal tonight. Truth is, I would prefer to enjoy it in the company of one, rather then deal with a noisy crowd. Even if the crowd has me own crew in it." There was no worry about compromising Regan. She didn't care though she knew Segan might. "Though if the night were warmer, I would go find a meal that could be eaten here where the sea can be heard and the moonrise watched. Tonight however, I think we'd be freezing our arses off. Or worse yet, have our meal blown away."

"The the Lady Captain should have her hot meal." Which reminded him that he'd not eaten being so preoccupied. "And this Captain as well," admitting he was hungry too and a hot meal sounded far too appealing as he started them in the direction of the Blue Marlin. He kept her close although not under his cloak for they would be meeting face to face with a few before they arrived at their destination.

"Then we'll be gracing the Blue Marlin with two hungry Captains," Regan said with a laugh. She certainly didn't mind sharing warmth either as the wind danced through the streets. There were fewer people about then usual -- a good thing about the wind, in fact, the only good thing. Less trouble, at least outside. In the taverns and pubs that catered to the sailors, there would be plenty. "You've replaced your ship?" She thought he had but wanted to hear it for certain from him. She couldn't imagine Segan not sailing anymore then she could stop.

There were quite a few in the Blue Marlin, some with their coats on still as they sat drinking hot tea, coffee or even cocoa along with hot meals. "Aye," getting the door for her as they reached their destination. "Named her the Anaconda II, for the first served me well and I know this one will too. I would have gone down with me ship but she spit me out, would have none of it." Tipping grin that touched off a twinkle in blue eyes. He made sure the door was soundly closed behind them for the wind would take hold if not and whip it back open. A few turned their heads some with a nod in recognition of either one of them or both. Perhaps one or two took that few seconds longer look over the two as he guided her to one of the alcoves so they could have some privacy as much as a public place would allow. He saw to her seat too for the was brought up right, two sides to this particular sailor. "What will you be having?" as he'd not be one to leave his cloak on with the heavy fisherman's sweater worn beneath in a dark blue-gray heather.

"I'm thinking either hot soup, brown bread or a hearty stew, and brown bread." She chuckled as she too shed her cloak. Beneath she wore a heavy wool vest over a shirt of cotton that was a shade of red that suited her. Black wool pants were tucked into knee high boots for the snow. Her gloves had been removed when they entered and were tucked into an inside pocket in the cloak. "That's a good name, especially since your first ship took such good care of you. Did you sail her to Eire?" When the lass approached to take their orders, Regan decided on hot tea, along with Irish stew, and of course, brown bread.

"Irish stew it is with brown bread," he leaned in closer with a whisper to her ear, "I think Hazel gave her the recipe," smile came with a dimple as he straightened. One of the serving lasses was right over, "Irish stew, brown bread some ale and snifters of warmed brandy." Although he took it upon himself to do the ordering, he left it open with a look Regan's way if she wanted to add anything to it. Once she was seated he took the seat next to hers so they could enjoy a more private conversation. "Aye, her first trip came of need and she took to the seas like a dolphin. Perhaps we can sail together sometime soon."

Regan thanked Segan for helping with her chair, then settled back. She was fine with the order, deciding the ale and brandy sounded better then tea. She grinned when he whispered in her ear, giving him a impish look. "That explains why it's so good." "Perhaps we can. I'll not be headed out to the open seas for a few more weeks in the least though. Especially if the storms keep popping up." Though the short runs were keeping her crew and family happy. The crew because they were at least making some runs, and her family obviously because she was home more.

"What are your plans for the next few weeks then?" Pausing as the waitress was back with the warmed brandies and ale then off again. "I am thinking of going to see the Alterians, see who is in charge of the undersea contraption and what might I do in trade or such to have them let me use it, soon as the storms break." But he would not have to wait until spring when the waters warmed enough to immerse oneself and not freeze to death. "I've limited myself, well, now that I'm back to the shorter runs. Need to pick up a routine again."

"I don't know if you had heard about my uncle, and how he had nearly killed my father, then tried to again take Montrose and Kildare itself?" It was a question but she continued. "He has two children, my cousins. It was proven that his son, Gillean," the name was said with a hint of something there, anger, dislike? It was hard to say since it didn't show in Regan's eyes, "was forced into helping his father. He had disappeared and returned to see his sister, who was living in Montrose. Gillean was given lands and Caiome is having a ball to introduce themselves to society." All of which Regan would endure for Caiome. "Then there's our father's birthday, but he wants no fuss, just family. So, short runs for the next few weeks." She chuckled. "Nothing hard at all." Unless some ships decided to sneak along the coast and attack again.

"Aye, but that was a number of years ago.." unless there was some new development but it seemed more an opener. He didn't miss the tone when she said her cousin's name. One he knew of as well the sister. "Are you going to this Ball? If you are, can a sailor from good family get an invite or just crash it if he is up that way and get a check mark on a dance card of a certain Lady Captain?" Dark blue eyes held an intensity to them in spite of the nonchalant way he voiced his thoughts.

She didn't answer right away as the serving maid was there with their drinks and food. Once the lass was gone, Regan smiled. "I'm sure that anyone who is visiting Montrose at the time might be invited and yes, I'll be there with my family. I saw Cai and Gillean here and promised her I'd visit before hand and help with the list. The weather hasn't allowed me to leave yet." She took a taste of the stew and sighed, "This is just what was needed to warm a body up."

"Then I'll take that as an invitation," giving her a wink as it brought a smile to follow. Now it was time to dig in and that is exactly what he did. Segan had a good appetite too especially for food this good. The stew vanished quickly as he held up the warmed brandy for a toast, "to the Captains that sail the ocean blue, they continue to do so and come back to family who would miss them each time they set sail." He was well aware of the grief he caused at times but then each of his brothers had cause for this very toast too. Then he added another that fitted them both, "and.. here is to the old days, may they inspire... and here's to the days ahead.. may they be as grand if not as wild." His smile was infectious when he did and it was there for the words before gone as he kicked back the double shot of brandy.

"Ah, now that's a grand toast, and to that I'll add, and to the friends we've found and will find, and to those lost." She kicked back the brandy, lowering the glass to the table. Perhaps she should have added and to the foes we shall send to Davy Jones, but she didn't. Another time. "The doors of Montrose are always open to friends as is our home here." It was the way of most after all.

He had almost added to keep our friends close and our enemies in their grave. Instead of keeping them closer. "I will remember that and don't be surprised if I show up on your doorstep when you are there. I would see you to a grand time out if you be willing." At least he could hope she had a grand time out with him if it should come about. He also was not pushy but so far it seemed she enjoyed his company as he was enjoying hers. "I should see you back to your ship as well myself back to mine." As he wasn't going any further than the port this night.

"I won't be surprised." She smiled, then studied him a moment. "I'd be willing, though I make no promises." She nodded, "I'm not sure how many of me crew will be there, but I'm thinking it's time to head back too." The cabin boy and the watch would be there. The youngster hadn't wanted to go to the tavern and watch everyone drinking. "I should like to see how your Lady sails too." Her interests in ships including others beside hers and her brothers'!

"Aye, a captain can't make too many promises when the sea holds her fate." But there were things one looked forward to and would accomplish if the sea didn't claim them or other such adventures detain them. He was up as he had finished his ale and would see to her cloak like a gentleman. "Then I shall take you on a run with me once convenient for both." His hands lingered at her shoulders as with the dip of his chin he could make eye contact better. She would find him smiling for whatever reason that may not be so apparent as the smile itself. Hands fell away as one cupped at her elbow and this would be how he would escort her back, seeing to the door and her safely on her ship before he would head for his.


Date: 02-14-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 45

Kildare Port

The bump and jostle had Gillean shooting a hand to the side, slapping to the interior of the carriage. The other one went instantly across the way to his sister to make sure she didn't pitch forward. "What the hell..." He growled low, his hearing straining to make out what was going on outside their cozy confines. The Lord of Swan Lakes realized, prior to their departure, it wasn't the best of hours to be venturing to the portside of these lands but his sister could make a man forget their common sense to do anything to make her happy. "Caiome." Gill spoke just as low, listening to the commotion that was out of their sight range but not out of their hearing range. "Do me a favor, Dearest, and let us change seats." Braced against the rocking motion due to the conflict outside, Gillean helped his sister to shift and sit on his bench, even as he bent forward and jerked the cushions of her previous seat aside. A hidden compartment was exposed as he jerked up the wooden lid and reached within to snatch out a fighting dagger which he carefully stuffed into his boot and then two swords. The lid was dropped with a loud 'pop' and he spun to sit, placing the length of one sword over his lap, the other he withdrew from the sheath. "All smiles, Rabbit, we're about to do business dockstyle." He used the hilt of his sword to bang twice on the roof of the cabin. Then he called out from within. "How goes ... business ... Captain?"

No one tried to get onto the Captain's horse as the driver was pushed from his seat even with a struggle. He fell out into the gathering crowd and near trampled there until one sailor hefted him up from underfoot. The bandit took those reins but by that time Dewar would be upon him. Inside, Cai near pitched forward across that small expanse had it not been for her brother's quick reaction and halting her half up from her seat in mid flight. It had her catch her breath and the small scream that still managed to be muffled past her lips. She caught hold of his arm in a near swing around that had them exchanging places. "Oh my," once she saw what was contained beneath that seat and quickly got herself a boot dagger before he could close the lid. With a lift of her skirt and cloak she exposed the sheath attached her boot, "so that is what this is for," it had been empty as she slid the knife in place then let the folds of material fall back into place. She was still holding onto his arm with one hand, more the jacket of his arm. "I'm ready.." giving her brother a swift smile that all but said, she was growing away from the timid lass she had once been.

There went the driver, and with no one holding the reins the horses were in a panic. It was crowded, even at this time of night, and that seemed to slow them some, even with the man trying to take charge. Michael tapped him on the shoulder and the fool actually turned and met with a large fist. He nearly fell off but Michael had hold of him. The horses chose at the moment to swerve, nearly throwing both men and causing the Captain to lose his grip. He nearly went over the side but at least he heard the knocks and question. "Swimmingly!" Came the answer with a touch of sarcasm. The bandit came at him, swinging his blade. As Dewar ducked, he brought the flat of the sword against the man's knee, causing the bandit to go down. Dewar kicked at the man's face but he was a touch quicker and grabbed Dewar's foot. Down he went with a thump that might make the siblings think he was coming through the roof. The man tried striking again, his blade going through the roof when Dewar rolled. The Captain stopped at the edge and brought his blade around, striking the bandit in the arm. While the man howled, Dewar kicked him off the carriage then made a grab for the reins.

Gillean looked from the exposed weapon on his sister's leg to her face to her weapon up to her face. Ready his ass but he had to smile with her assumption. "Ahh." He nodded, cringing as he heard the banging and bumping above. "You stay ... ready ... Dearest, right where you are, let the fight come to you." That said, he leaned forward and pecked a kiss to her forehead, and with that motion had swung open the door and swung himself out. Boot toe found hold on the decorative brass while the other foot slammed the door shut behind him. People screeched and dove to avoid the large conveyance and wild-eyed horses that pulled it. Sheep to the slaughter, damn fools, just get the heck out of the path! Just as he climbed topside, he saw the stranger go sailing off the side, hitting the ground with a sickening thud that didn't bode well for the man's internal organs or the bones which protected them. The black flaps of his coat swung around as he settled on the perch of the carriage. "Nice night for a ride, Dewar. Is our coachman dead? Or just left behind?" Even as he spoke, Gill turned his head to squint out into the converging masses that coalesced in their carriage's wake. A crowd had gathered in several areas back there from what he could make out in the darkness.

They shared the same blood. Their father had done his best to keep her meek and mild. A perfect candidate for an arranged marriage one day. The old coot had even thought of marrying her to her cousin! She was not really paying attention to the sarcasm in her brother's voice as she was staring at the blade that had come through the roof of the carriage. "That is blood dripping from it," but her brother had already climbed out the window and going atop the carriage. She was over to the door and away from the drip of red, half hanging out to see what she could. "Is everything all right up there?" So she was a bit concern and really wanted to know. Meanwhile the driver was running as best he could through the clumps of people gathered to catch up to the carriage.

It took a few moments to slow the horses, then a few moments more to bring them to a halt. And they were right at the beginning of a pier when they did stop. Michael was aware of Gillean climbing up and then plopping down beside him but he didn't answer right away. He looked toward the noble and grinned. "Very nice night." Glancing over his shoulder, he frowned. He hadn't been able to tell if the driver had been hurt. "I'm hoping just left behind." Unlike the man that went sailing into the street. He looked at Gillean again but whatever he had to say was stilled when he heard Caiome. "Aye, it's all fine." He hadn't noticed the man had cut his arm, a minor wound, but one that had ruined his best shirt. "I hope the two of you weren't shaken up too bad, m'Lord." His horse came trotting up beside the carriage and stopped, hoof pawing the ground. Better trained then his own... maybe Michael would switch them.

Gillean had noticed the injury though he said nothing to Michael about it. "I do believe my sister is a catalyst for adventure." Or maybe it was Gillean? Or was their bloodline truly tainted to forever bring one trial after another. Hearing her, he leaned to the side so he could see her head poked out with her inquiry. "Your boy is cut, Caiome. See to him, will you? I must go and find our driver with the hopes he can still hold these reins." Not that he was unharmed. Only that he was alive and could still transport them back to the manor once their business was completed. Several people had started to gather around the carriage, asking after their well being following that attack. Gillean just looked over their concerned faces and turned to climb down, glancing up to Dewar as he did. "See to your arm, and then boots for the lady. Quail is not as good reheated." He dropped boots to ground, and shouldered his way through the crowd and the questions.

"My boy..." blink, then the laugh came like chimes on the wind, wintry wind, as she tried to keep her hood in place while she continued to hang slightly out the window. "Is that my boy's blood dripping in my carriage then?" Whether it was or not, it seemed not to matter overly much to them either, "are we there yet?" Since the horses had slowed to a stop and she was getting looks, some of the sailors starting to whistle as her hood blew down and she struggled to get it back atop her head. One brave one was even approaching the carriage in spite of the lord sitting on the driver's bench, "I'll help you with that.." Which she promptly ducked back in but that wasn't to escape so much as the man was at the carriage door, but so she could open it, hard, hitting him square in the chest and sending him backwards onto the ground. "No, thank you. I've have everything under control." The driver managed to catch up once the horses had stopped.

Wonderful. Now he was a boy... and not any boy but Lady Caiome's? He rolled his eyes heavenward, then looked at the stinging cut on his arm. "Seems so unless the bast... brigand had hit someone else." He answered as the Callihan lord slid down from the carriage and started off. He heard a man speak, heard her answer and then heard a thump. "Is everything alright, Lady Caiome?" He made sure the reins were tied so the horses didn't bolt again and started to climb down. Ah, there was the driver.

Gill saw the driver hurrying to the carriage. That made one of his tasks complete. He snorted out a laugh and continued on to place the order for the alcohol needed for the festival. His willingness to leave his sister in Dewar's care said a lot for the Lord's opinion of the Captain's capabilities. He better be capable, or James would hear about it without even a moment's hesitation. As he walked along in front of the shops, Gill allowed his gaze to pass over the items displayed in the windows. His hand dipped into his coat pocket and he withdrew the list given to him. A side glance through the next glassed window and he stopped. His dark gaze narrowed and he took a few steps back, pressing his wool cloaked spine to the sturdy wooden support of the building. Lord Reglanton. One of his father's own. Now wasn't this just a fine-fucking-how-do-you-do. He shot a look back around toward where the carriage was, in an attempt to see what transpired there, but the distance and the crowd prevented his success. He cursed low, ducked his head, snapped up his coat's collar and strode on past. Some things were best left for the right opportunity to present. And this night, this place, was not at all what Gill would consider opportune.

Cai was out the door stepping down as the driver finally caught up with them. He was huffing some and would have a few bruises to show for this evening. The footman was down and around as well to help where needed and check over the horses. Cai lifted up her skirts to expose the petticoat which she ripped a length of frill that would serve as a temporary bandage. She gave it to the driver. "Here is some bandage if he needs it." Being Dewar was probably still up in the drivers seat. "Everything is fine, let Doogle see to your wound," she was sending a fast wave as she had kept an eye on her brother. The window margin was growing slimmer as she took off in a run, skirts now held up enough so she could. The one she had flattened out was also getting up in a daze but shook it off as he noticed Cai taking off into the crowd. He was on her trail. Little did he know she was catching up to her brother as a hand slipped around his arm after he stalled and started walking forward again, "see something you wanted to get?" As it was an odd step back for him.. as if he saw something he considered for a second in buying. Least that was how she saw it.

He had been climbing down from the seat and then Cai was taking off after her brother. "Lady... " Doogle was trying to wrap the bandage around his arm and Dewar grabbed it from the man. "Get up there and see to turning the carriage around, then... wait somewhere around here for us." Hell, he was losing sight of her as he finished tying up the material. Drawing his cloak around himself, he realized he didn't have his sword. A quick step up and he reached over the seat to grab it, then started through the crowd, while sheathing the blade. "Everything is fine, folks. Thanks for your concern." He waved people off, then he lost her but kept pushing through, heading in that same direction, and cursing all the while. At least that caused some to move out of his path.

Cai had hooked her hand through his arm before she spoke, which almost caused Gillean to jerk around, retaliate for the assumed attack, but her voice calmed him just in time. He stopped, offering her a smile, then looked back beyond her for the man that was 'supposed' to be protecting her. Caiome's words actually struck a chord deep within him. Something he wanted to ... get. If she only knew just how deeply that want to 'get' really was but then, he would always hope she never did know. Ever. He left her question there on the cool breeze, bringing his gaze back down to her. "I thought you wished to get boots tonight. Dewar was to take you to do just that while I saw to the order for the libations." Speaking of Dewar, Gill's gaze drifted ever so slightly in search of the man who should be...aha...something captain this way cometh.

Instead of Dewar there was that man who came on her heels, she turned just as he reached them. A charming smile on his face, "Lady, I just.." but he stopped dead in his tracks realizing she had her arm slipped around another man's. There was something odd about this man dressed in sailor's attire but had a different air about him. He was tall, even good looking in a rugged sailor's way. She didn't get to answer as he stepped back with a slight bow. See, that was odd. "Excuse the interruption sir, your wife.." more like a question posed to Gillean. Now she was amused in how her brother would respond to that! Oh, and was that Dewar just beyond this stranger, coming through the crowd to also catch up? She didn't answer Gill just yet due to the interruption.

He had finally managed to see where Cai had gone, and while he was relieved she was with Gillean, he also groaned inwardly. He wouldn't excuse himself by saying she was quick to slip away, or too quick to take dangerous risks. Dewar stepped up as the man spoke and bowed. "The Lady is his Lordship's sister, not his wife. And you were told once, she was not in need of your help." He looked at Cai and Gillean then back to the man, studying him. Something definitely was strange here.

Gill heard Michael's explanation, drawing his attention from the man to the captain before returning to the man. "And I will not excuse your interruption, wife or sister, if a Lady has stated she wishes not your assistance, then it is in your best interest to accept her at her word...and leave her be." Gill's larger frame stepped slightly in front of Caiome. "That would apply to now as well. Leave. Her. Be." If Gillean sensed anything odd with the man's mannerisms or even his speech patterns, he didn't let on. The only point of importance now was ... Caiome wished not his assistance and Gillean was far from amused with the delay. The Lord of Swan Lake jerked off a nod to the man."Go? Now?" Dammit, go, before that sap-ass Lord finished up his business and strolled his ugly-puss out into their business.

She realized who the one was and in fact, didn't realize he was genuinely, well possibly, coming to her aid. It was amusing that Dewar answered for her brother. "I'm sorry sir, I mistook you for a possible bandit." Which was true and now uncertain. His speech was cultured for all his attire as Cai cocked her head to the side in studying him. The man straightened as his eyes narrowed slightly upon Dewar then back to the brother briefly before upon the woman again. "I am pleased you are all right." Lifting his hand to tip his hat but there was none there and so lowered, "have a good day." In a way he ignored the brother's hostile reaction, one step back and he was around heading back into the crowd with a smile on his face they'd not see. Cai watched him leave, her arm still tucked in her brother's. Focus skipped to Dewar's arm, "you're still bleeding. Didn't Doogle fix that up for you?" It looked too loose and flimsy a job. Sliding a glance back to her brother, "that was interesting," but maybe not so for him as he looked like a bull that had been enraged. "Let's go see to the libations and I will see about hiring a cobbler for the estate instead of going to some public place."


Date: 02-14-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan 
Post # 46

Dewar was not in the least intimidated by the look, neither did he care. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing, protecting the Lord and Lady of Swan Lake Manor. He watched the man until he walked away then looked at Caiome. "No, Lady Caiome. I didn't want you running off alone with all the trouble that was going on, so I did it myself and followed." And didn't care that he was still bleeding. "It'll stop."

Gill watched the man take his leave as well and spoke after Michael answered Caiome. "You shouldn't have apologized to him, Caiome. Bandit or no, even a commoner should have the decency to accept a lady's word as truth." Once Gillean was satisfied the man was good and gone, he looked to Dewar and offered him a nod. The only gratitude the Lord of Swan Lake may ever extend to the Captain of the Guard considering the reasoning behind leaving his wound unattended. "Let us be about that order then, Dearest, so that we can end this evening with a succulent breast, perfectly prepared and awaiting our return home."

She lifted her chin slightly in her usual defiant way, "I was only telling him the truth. He wasn't crass like most of them." Them was very broad but they could figure it was the common folk as referred to. "I am getting hungry so it is good that you know your wines and champagnes." Sliding a glance to Dewar and his wound. "So you're saying you wont faint away on us at least until we are back?" Slight twitch of her lips as she started her brother forward with herself as she noted the place was just a few shops up from where they were stalled.

Dewar stood there, like a statue, hand resting on the hilt of his sword. He inclined his head slightly in return to Gillean, not expecting anything more from the man. He still felt the man shouldn't have approached Caiome the second time, and he was wondering if maybe a younger guard would do better for Caiome. At least he'd be able to catch up to her... but he probably would get in more trouble then Dewar. So he shrugged that off. "I'm fine, Lady Caiome. It stopped bleeding." He didn't bother looking down at the wound. Just waited for the two of them to be about their business. And he seemed a bit... distant.

Gillean stood where they were for a moment more, just one moment more, studying Dewar with the faintest tilt to his head. Pouting? Jealous? Proooobably not. Frustrated? There was a possibility. Struggling? Could be. Caiome might drive the man bat shit crazy, but the captain would get over it. He had better get over it. "Come then." He placed his hand over his sister's where it rested on his arm and turned them to continue on to their task. And farther away from Lord Reglanton before he wandered out of that shop. The three of them spent the time necessary to purchase only the best in libations and those in excess, then made their way back toward the carriage. Conversation was light, rarely including the captain unless Caiome was so inclined. All the better for the captain of the guard. Gill's steps slowed as they neared the coach, and he muttered an unmistakable "fuckme" beneath his breath because look who had recognized the crest on the side of the conveyance and had adopted a lean against it.

Cai figured the captain was blood deprived so didn't bother him much further. The picking out of wines and champagnes was a learning experience. One she tucked away for further use if needed. It was time to head back so with that part of the Ball seen to, the weight on her shoulders was getting lighter by each thing crossed off. "Are you still with us Captain," finally asked as they stepped out into the cold air. Enough to bring anyone to their senses. While Gill cursed as they reached the carriage, her smile grew! She had a cohort now to plan things with. "Regan!" Her arm slipping from her brother's as she dashed forward to give her a squeezing hug, genuine affection and certainly glad to see her. "Can you attend a wound?" Being she didn't want to admit she was not proficient at such and had handed the task off to the footman.

The Captain was ... brooding, but when wasn't he when in the company of the siblings? He followed behind, listening as they talked and taking note of what they bought. He had calmed some by the time they reached the carriage.When Gill cursed, he frowned and looked at the carriage until he realized who was there. Barely suppressing a grin, he watched Caiome rush forward. A chuckle did escape when she asked about the wound. It really wasn't that bad but he'd not argue with Caiome.

Regan's ship had been in port for a few hours, but she had a few things to see to before she could leave. Samuel had accompanied her, to carry her bag, while she found an inn to stay. She had been planning to find a coach come morning but lo and behold, there was a coach with a familiar crest. Asking the driver proved that it was indeed her cousins. So, Samuel saw to putting the large bag onto the top of the coach, bade his captain farewell until her return and headed off. She saw the two larger men before she heard Caiome and hugged her in return. "A wound? Aye I can." She looked at Dewar and chuckled. "Still, let me take a look and at least retie the bandage." Then eyes of cornflower blue turned on Gillean. "Good evening, Gillean. I trust you won't mind company?" And while she asked, she saw to the wound.

Gillean's jaw worked as it tightened and released in silence. How could he not appreciate and enjoy Caiome's excitement for seeing their cousin. He, however, would refrain and yes, it was his turn to ...struggle. "How could I mind when Caiome finds such delight with that possibility." His gaze lifted to the bag that had been added to the top of the coach then sucked in a silent, steadying breath. "After all, she has invited you to the manor, tonight is as good a time as any. Captain, if you'll let the driver know we are preparing to depart once you are duly ... re-tied?"

Her words lowered with a sliding glance to her brother and back, "don't mind him, he hasn't eaten yet. Have you? Roasted quail.. with all the fixings.." obviously inviting her as their home would always be open to her or any of their family that so chose to come. Speaking up then as Dewar's wound was seen to, "he'll live?" Like she had to ask that and more in humor than really fearing for his life. The footman was there to see them within. She was so very pleased and it glowed in her eyes and her smile as she settled next to her cousin within.

Dewar just smiled as Regan saw to the bandage then nodded at Gillean. "Aye, my Lord, as you command." He winked at Regan before he called up to Doogle to be ready for the command, and headed back around the coach to his horse. Once the nobles were inside, he could actually grin at Caiome's explanation for Gillean's mood.

Regan did laugh, out loud, when she heard the explanation. She knew better! "Then we'll not have to wait any longer. The Captain will live as long as the blade wasn't poisoned." Obviously, it hadn't been! "And I had been planning to eat at the inn, so the answer is no to that." She would sit beside Caiome when they climbed inside. "Did you enjoy yourself this evening? It seems extra busy tonight." Not that she minded. The busier, the better!

Gillean shifted a look to Dewar as he took up the rear, entering after the ladies and draping Caiome's legs with the fur throw. He settled across from them, arranging his coat over his legs. Since the women chatted, he resigned himself to listening, and riding, and looking forward to his dinner regardless of the company that he would have to keep in order to partake.

She proceeded to tell her all that happened once they reached the port for certainly it had been exciting. That included the odd man that dressed and looked like a sailor but had another air about him. The time from the port was filled with easy chatter and a few glances were given her brother who sat across from them. She had a feeling he didn't care to participate in the conversation but she was sure he was listening to every word. "Now tell me about your adventures," which she felt would have her adventure pale in comparison but that didn't matter as long as she got to hear them.

At least this time, it wouldn't be so exciting. Dewar settled into the usual routine, staying behind the coach while they left the port then changes where he rode on the journey back to Swan Lake. He could hear their voices but not what was said when he rode beside the coach and it just made him smile again.

"It sounds like you had quite a time, but at least the man was stopped before anyone was hurt. Too badly." She added the last because of Dewar's minor cut. "How mysterious." Said of the man. "Did he seem to know you?" She took on a thoughtful look then grinned. "I'm not sure where to begin, Caiome. They started back when I was navigator on me brothers' ship." She did tell her about finding the treasure and the dragon guarding it. "And Faelan wears the tooth around his neck still." That had been one of the milder ones.

For all appearances, Gillean looked to be interested in the tale of Regan's adventure, just dismissing the mention of the man who had pressed Caiome's company following their incident. In truth, his own thoughts raced and rambled inside his skull, bouncing around, bumping about to gain prominence and when one did, it was usurped and the scramble began again. His sister's future, his future, the future of Swan Lake, the manor house, the lands, the people on
those lands, the captain and his guard, the winter festival, his damn cousin and ... her brothers. He brought up a hand and rubbed his fingertips to his temple, leaning as he did and using his other hand to reach across his chest and pull aside the protective drapery to mark the landscape. They should be nearing the manse by now.

"Oh, they are always good to hear over again but what of the ones," glancing to her brother as her voice lowered and he had that look of drowning in his own thoughts anyway as he looked out the window, "they call the Unholy Trinity." She obviously had heard about them and that wild chase over sea by a few prominent Captains." Then she went a little dreamy eyed, "if only I could get a glimpse of such ones that cause terror in the hearts of most."

They were near the estate, as Dewar rode by the window Gillean was looking out to scout the road ahead and make sure the guards were in position. The night hadn't been quite as bad as it could have been, and he, for one, was glad to be back.

Regan watched her cousin, then glanced at Gillean before she became very serious. "Caiome, it was not a good adventure. It was horrible, and remember how long it took me to recover. Those men are ruthless, dangerous killers, with only the thought of treasure on their minds. What they planned to do to us ... " She shuddered. "Even today I try avoid seeing them, though I've had a close call or two." She shook her head. "I turn my ship in another direction if I hear where they are." She would tell Caiome the tales when Gillean wasn't around to hear, and hopefully keep Cai from being dreamy eyed about them. "They don't even attempt to follow the so called Pirates code." Yes, it had been fun to run from Westmoreland, but only because she knew he didn't know she had been on the Benevolence!

The current conversation yanked Gillean back from the depths of thought, bringing his gaze to Regan. "There are worse fates than dying, Dearest, especially for a female who places herself in harm's way." His dark gaze narrowed on his female cousin of a captain, the addition to the subject obviously meant more for one than for the other across from him. The carriage slowed to a stop and the footman soon enough had the door opened for the nobles within. "And
speaking of undesirable fates, let us hope that the quail has not dried up from our delay." Gill looked out of the opening to see the captain of the guard beyond, dismounting and speaking with the men who served under him.

She could feel the heat rising about her neck, not that such would deter her from her thoughts on the matter. Oh, she knew they were bad but then she also had no real physical experience to compare what was worse than death to. Only knew what they meant that between male and female. Yes, slightly clueless there. She bit her bottom lip, not hard enough to draw blood but tucked so she didn't say anything more on the matter. Luckily they had arrived and that was the perfect distraction. "I'm starving." Came out instead as the footman opened the carriage door and lent a hand to each of the ladies down. "I can smell how good it is all the way out here." And certainly the scent of well prepared food carried on the crisp cold breeze.

Once he learned that all had been quiet at the manor, Dewar remounted. He followed the carriage and dismounted again, waiting to be certain he wasn't needed for anything. He was cold and wanted to get back to the barracks to warm up and relax.

Dewar was left to see to his duties and his men while the three Callihans went in to enjoy an excellent meal of quail. Even Gill could not complain for the presence of their cousin which Cai kept in light conversation. Nothing more on the Notorious Pirates or such adventures. That didn't mean they were dismissed but more to leave her brother to enjoy his meal, especially quail.


Date: 02-17-12
Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 47

Arrival at Swan Lake

Regan smiled as she followed Caiome out, even allowing the footman to help her. She sniffed the air, nodding agreement with Caiome. "It does smell delicious." Linking her arm through her pretty cousin's, she leaned to whisper. "I'll tell you all about them, but not in front of Gillean." She knew damn well he wouldn't want that story told, or the other about her adventure in Africa. "I can't wait to see what you've done to the manor." That was said in a normal tone of voice, for both Cai and Gillean.

Gillean waited for the ladies to step down, then followed, allowing the footman to see to the door behind them. He had no need to say anything since the women were practically temple to temple with their conversation. Gill drew his attention over to Dewar, giving him a motion of head as dismissal for him to take his leave. After all, his cousin at dinner would serve as adequate discomfort during his meal, he didn't need the Captain of the Guard also in attendance to add to that unpleasant experience.

She gave a minute dip of her head as they could talk later once retired to their rooms. The two might be up all night chatting with such stories to tell and some girl talk both were deprived of. Men were good for certain things, chatting about this and that.. was rare. She didn't slide a glance on her brother being he was a few steps behind them. Just enough that the one comment would go unheard. He had too good of hearing and she was well aware of it. Only a glimpse of Dewar departing and she figured the man was probably relieved! "Oh, we are doing a lot of improvements and I'd love to show you what we have been able to do so far. The gardens will have to wait until spring and you just have to see the ice skating rink.." by that time they were to the door which was opened by the butler, whom also saw to their cloaks and the door closed behind them. "Oh, it smells like heaven in here. The meal will be perfect," dissolving the notion it had gone dry.

Regan had female crew members with whom she did sometimes just sit and chat. It wasn't quite the same as having her sisters or Cai to do the same with and it made her grin. "That will give you time to sit and plan. Do you have a gardener?" There would be plenty more employed around Swan Lake, though that could very well make Gillean more uncomfortable. She smiled at the butler, then laughed when her stomach growled. "I think me stomach is agreeing with you." She waited for one of her cousins to lead the way, though she was very, very tempted to link her arms though both.

Uhm, no. No cousin-to-cousin arm linking. Gillean had peeled out of his coat, scarf, gloves, hat and had handed them off. Then he came to Caiome to help with her outerwear. Even though the butler stepped up to Regan to assist, the rough-and-ready Ovaries-of-the-Ocean would probably not even oblige the man. Then again, who knew? Once Gill handed off the heavy garments, he motioned for the ladies to go before him. He snorted softly with Regan's comment, taking a moment to pluck off the cufflinks and roll his sleeves to mid arm. Wasn't it just like a female to slip into the ways of a male, and worse, males that couldn't speak proper English. "Lest it continue to speak aloud..." Let alone in seafarer lingo. "Shall we proceed?"

"Thank you," murmured in a pleasant tone to her brother as he took her coat. Ah, but Cai linked her arm with her brother's then Regan's. Lucky for her brother, that put her in the middle and separating him from their cousin. Once inside the spacious dining room, which was the first room she renovated to a light and airy atmospher even for the dreary winter. She would be separating him from her at the dinner table as well. One that was already prepare for their arrival and once they were seated, the first kitchen maid was out to bring their cup of fruit (something rare this time of the year) to start.

Had Regan known Gill's thoughts, there would have been more than a few words spoken out of line. And none of them would be ladylike. Maybe. She might just ignore him. Truth was, Regan didn't really give a damn what anyone thought. Under the cloak, Regan had on a frilly shirt, tucked into her pants. She had a weapons belt on as well as a wide belt, but she did remove it once inside the manor. There was no need for it, after all, was there? The fruit was appreciated by the Captain, just because she knew how hard it was to get it. "Do you have a greenhouse, Gill?" She was actually speaking to him! "If so, Cai and I can bring some fruit trees and roses back when we go to Innis." Yes, she was planning on taking her cousin for a sail to that lovely island.

Settling in, he nodded to the maid that placed his fruit bowl before him. "Of course we do, Regan." Damn but it was hard to use her name and not her title of captain, it seemed far too personal and friendly. "Although, additions to it may be put off until other matters are attended to."

"We do?" She was unaware of exactly who was or wasn't in their employ at the moment. Thinking there would be a gardener with that greenhouse too. "I was hoping I would not have to bother Captain Dewar for a list of those in the villages that would qualify." After they finished their fruit, the salad came and then the main meal of roasted quail. The cook always seemed to be able to serve it hot enough and still moist. Side dishes of glazed carrots, potatoes and coleslaw accompanied it.

Caiome had Regan a little confused. "You didn't know you had a greenhouse? Or do you mean a gardener, Cai." She might still have to ask for a list! The Captain did quiet some as the rest of the meal was served. No matter where she was, ship, home or traveling, good food was appreciated and this was excellent. Even sour-puss Gill couldn't ruin her enjoyment. "How is your guest list coming? I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner, but the weather took a turn for the worse."

Gillean didn't feel the need to clarify for Regan so once again it became unnecessary to join in the conversation. Instead, Gillean made the most of his meal. Even the less than appropriate company for his sister of a cousin wouldn't ruin his appreciation of a well prepared meal.

She was stuffed so when offered dessert she passed for now but would have something a later on after they went over the list. She skipped the first and went right to the second questioned asked. That was, afterall, why Regan was visiting at the moment. "We can adjourn to the den and I can show you the list I have so far once you are both ready." She figured her brother would come for certainly he should get to know all of those in the lands of that caliber.

Regan turned down the dessert as well. She didn't pat her stomach but she certainly felt full. "All right. I'm ready when you are." She smiled again. "I'm so glad you invited me here, Caiome. Alannah and Deirdre can't wait to come as well." Of course, her sisters were much more the ladies though Alannah was still nervous about seeing Gillean, though she had never told Regan why.

Since the ladies declined for now, Gill offered a quick shake of head for his as well. Men moved forward to help ease their chairs back. The Lord of Swan Lakes' lips thinned. Alannah and Deirdre, as well as the brothers, just a regular, flippin' family reunion. Such fun! Gill drifted a look to Caiome, all aglow with excitement and anticipation. He pulled back hard on those tough to manage reins. Anger to the proper cause, Man. Sure, they had left him to suffer his father's ... tutelage, but true, not the root of his loathing. Focus, dammit. That didn't change the fact, however, that he didn't approve of certain professions for females and those females luring his sister in.

Cai was probably one of the few who could read some of those minute changes of her brother's facial expressions. Not that she knew the root or cause but she knew he was brooding over something and that something might have to do with her cousin. Had it not been for at least James, they would not have had the opportunity of a new start and she living indebted to them for the rest of her life, directly under their roof otherwise. In spite of the situation she came to care for her cousins after getting to know them and the fact they didn't hold her father against her. She put on a smile nonetheless as she rose and headed for the Den and certainly a drink would be had there before they even started! The list was out on the desk as she indicated it on her way to the small bar, "that is what we have so far. Would you like a drink as well?" She would be having a brandy.

Regan only taunted Gill because he had been such a shit before she and her siblings had managed to escape. The truth was, she didn't hold either responsible for the acts of their father but Gill made his disapproval so obvious, even if he tried to hide it. She would do anything for Caiome, and if it came down to it, for Gill as well. Then again, he would probably not want her help. Caiome was as close as her sisters to Regan and she missed her. "Aye, I would. Whatever you're having, Caiome." No potcheen while she was here. She might attempt to drink her cousin under the table. The captain headed for the list, reading it over. It was more extensive then she had expected.

Gill went to stand by the fire. Cai would know he'd prefer brandy after his meal so he didn't make a request. "Caiome is concerned that excluding someone will bring insult. We appreciate any names you might offer to prevent that possibility, Regan."

She poured a brandy for her brother first, which she was over to hand to him and such a smile given with it. One he knew from when she was little and had always adored him no matter how foul his mood. He had been Moody Moose Buttons, which she had nicknamed him. Perhaps he could tell what she was thinking for that smile. Brief as it was before she was back to pour herself some and Regan which she then brought over to her to set near. "So Captain Dewar hasn't missed anyone?" She sure would hate to be sending apologies. "We decided it would be best to put.. and guest."

"That explains why the list is so extensive. Dewar knows more then most about the families here." She smiled her appreciation for the brandy and then looked at Gill. "She's right in that. Some of them are touchy ...." She almost added beggars but caught herself. "And guest works if you don't know if they're seeing anyone." She thought for a moment, then added, "you should add Lord and Lady Donovan, though they probably won't travel since she's in a delicate condition. " Regan nearly snorted over that one. Why not bluidy well say pregnant. And then she pursed her lips, looking up from the list to Caiome and then to Gill. There was no doubt she was considering something.

That smile was one of the very reasons that Gillean Callihan would do anything, everything, for his sister. He accepted the drink with a twitched wink of thanks then looked over to Regan as she read over the list. Brows pulled tight between his brows as their cousin looked over to them. Who was Caiome leaving out? Who was Regan reluctant to suggest?

She had come up alongside her cousin as she looked over the list. "Who are the Donovans?" She had not heard of them and would need first names too... or at least his. "So there are more to be added," then her words came low with a slight dip of her head and a glance to her brother and back. "Any fair ladies that could put up with a moody lordship?" So very low, that Regan would probably have to lean in closer to hear. She would have the glance seem to be for the next question, "have we left out anyone?" Tone just right, not too high like she was covering over something.

"His name is Jacob I believe. Hers is Eleanor. He's the stepson of this one." She pointed to a list then leaned to hear Caiome. Chuckling softly, she just pointed to a few of the names. After all, Gillean, in spite of his moodiness was a handsome man, especially when he smiled at Caiome. The captain looked up then and looked at Caiome. Best to make a decision. Her sweet cousin didn't want to insult anyone and Regan wouldn't be the cause of that. "Baron Sebastian Dewar, his second wife, Olivia and their older children. Neville, Prudence, Arabella and Summer. The parents are older though, so you might just want to ask the children?" That might save Dewar some humiliation.

The glass had been on its way up, but when Regan finished talking, it was already started back down. "De...war?" He looked to his sister then toward the door, as if that very man might come walking through simply because they mentioned his name. Gill cleared his throat softly, his expression barely showed his surprise to begin with but instantly it was void of that emotion. "Regardless of their age, they will need to be invited and then allow them to decide whether they wish to attend or not." Baron? Well wasn't this a fish bone in the throat. Made you just want to choke until you puked.

Brows lifted as the name was given out... "son of a Baron," but her brother spoke up having her attention shift there. "Yes, De...war," saying like he did. It had her looking to the door too in a sort of spooked way that he would appear. Regan might find it all amusing. She nodded with the next part in agreement. "I'm sure if they are not able to make it they will send their regards." But then they will not have been slighted. Did she hear footsteps? A slight shiver and attention was back on Regan. "We should make sure his name is Jacob in the least... and Eleanor. Stepson, do we invite the mother and the stepmother?" Oi... how that might go! Or she had the stepson bit mixed up.

Regan was amused by both their reactions but the reason behind it all was not maliciousness. "Jacob and Eleanor are not related, dear Caiome. They are related to another. Michael's mother would not come if her ex-husband is here, but should be invited in any case, as she is well-liked." She looked down at the list and up again. "The Captain has not spoke to his father or the eldest son and daughter for ten years. I'm certain that's why he left them out. Neville and Prudence both lost their spouses. So be warned, they are looking for new mates."

"New mates? Regan, I have yet to attend a function where that wasn't the case, regardless of their current marital status." His glass was lifted and he watched the women over the rim until the libation was lowered again. "Regardless of the Captain's standing with his family, leaving them from the list puts this House at the risk of insult. Caiome made it clear she wished not to neglect any family of standing."

Oh, the complications and now she wondered how the evening would go if certain ones all came instead of their usual avoidance. "Invitations will go out to all no matter. We will just double up on the guards," shooting Gill one of those smiles as if that would take care of anything that might or could occur. She was agreeing with her brother. "Anyone or anything else we should know about? Anyone or ones you would like invited for yourself, your sisters or brothers?" The edges of her lips were twitching with that one!

Regan had taken up a lean against the desk while she drank her brandy. She nodded when Gill spoke, though she did smile. "It was ... a warning, nothing more." And Cai had her attention almost immediately after that. "No, none that I can think of." She was NOT going to get into that, though she might mention it to her sisters.

Gill remained where he stood, his gaze passing from female to female. "That should do it then." A nod and he started over to place his glass on the bar. "Caiome can send out the invitations and the festivities can begin." Joy. Joy. Fun. Fun.

"I would wish you and your siblings surrounded by friends." Words had quieted but then she might have to guess at those. "Should we have dance cards..?" She heard about them but wasn't sure if they were the in thing or not. Then again she might get some more ideas when they had their girlie talk. "I will need the invitations drawn up." She found someone that was good with calligraphy to do them up nicely. Another she already hired to do a wintry wash of blues for the other to then write over so they were not plain white parchment.

"My sister, Deirdre works for a gentleman," she didn't say tattoo artist, or even artist. "She might enjoy his company. My brothers," and there she shrugged, "I have no idea about any of them." And she didn't know what the two were planning for her or James. Or she'd be leaving for the high seas by now. His name is Seanan O'Caiside." She looked at Gillean as he walked to the bar. His devotion to his sister was amazing, wasn't it?

All or nothing. Caiome had it all, that left nothing for anyone else. "Such family devotion, ask me if I'm not surprised." He muttered under his breath when Regan didn't seem to know much about any of her siblings.

She settled into one of the comfortable seats with her drink. One she had refreshed too. "Care to tell us all the latest news coming out of Montrose. Are your two brothers sailing the seas still as well, winter hasn't set them back?" So we was curious and would enjoy anything and all Regan had to share with them. It was too early to retire, but then once they did they would have another talk. A different one.

Regan was as devoted to her family as Gillean was to his sister, but she did not ask for information they might not want to give. The latest news was sparse. "Father is doing well, as are my siblings." She had slipped back into 'proper' grammar, for now at least. "They are back, came back for the holidays in fact, but if there are any lasses or lads for either, they keep that to themselves. James is looking into searching for the bandits. And I told them all they have no choice but to come to your very first affair in your new home in a letter I sent to them after I made port." She had also written she would be home soon, but that wasn't necessary to add. "Winter is rather dull in Montrose." Which was why she longed for the sea.

"That is..." Gillean crossed to his sister and leaned to her, touching a kiss to the top of her head. "...unless the Lady of Swan Lakes is providing a means to escape the doldrums." As he straightened he looked to his cousin and offered her a nod. "I will leave you ladies to your conversation. I should see to ..." Gill actually almost smiled, but it was far from the kind he offered to his sister. "...things."

"It would take a threat to bring them here?" Which had her surprised for she thought they would come, or Regan was teasing, "or the fact some men don't like to attend such affairs?" A hand lifted to cup Gill's cheek in a sisterly loving way. "I will see you when breaking fast then dearest. Sleep well," smiling up to him as his head lifted and her hand slipping away.

"Yes, unless that." Regan looked fondly at Caiome then returned the nod to Gillean. She laughed softly, shaking her head. "Of course they'd come, Caiome, without a single threat. I was teasing. Good night Gillean. Rest well." And remember she would also be greeting him come morning. She looked at Caiome again, studying her.

He never said he was going to sleep but it was all just as well that the ladies assumed such an innocent ending to his evening. And the fact that Regan would be seated at his morning meal did not even enter his mind, he had far more intriguing thoughts to ponder at the moment. A light, passing touch stroked along Caiome's shoulder and the Lord of Swan Lakes made his departure. He paused only long enough at the double doors to turn and pull them both shut, sealing the women in to their private discussion, beyond the ears of any more-than-interested household staff. Indeed, that was the reason. For surely it wasn't so that his sister might not hear other comings or goings which she should not.


Date: 02-21-12
Poster: Regan Callihan
Post # 48

The Talk Continues

It was getting late but more it was chilly in these large rooms late at night as the fire was allowed to burn down lower. "Let's go up to my chambers and finish this there." Even though her brother had closed the door she looked that way as if he would mysteriously appear and overhear her. Why she made it seem more of the list than the girl chat. She rose gathering the papers as she would carefully write out a new updated list and make sure of the names. "Mildred please bring up a pot of tea, some brandy and some pastries." Although she was not in the habit of eating late at night the thought of having something to nibble on, should they desire, would be there for them and she'd not have to keep bothering Mildred. This being requested of Mildred once they left the Den. She was one of the few house employees that stayed in the mansion as they had a servant's quarters. With this thought in mind she headed for her chambers but stopped dead with a slight tilt of her head, "did you hear someone moving down the hall?" The one she was looking towards led to her brother's chambers.

Regan had been so busy helping with the list, and trying to make sure of any additonal names needed that she had barely realized the time. She stretched, arms over her head and arching her back, as she stood, then nodded. "That's a good idea. Then we'll be closer to our beds when we're done." She grinned at her cousin as she waited for her to collect the papers, even offering to carry some herself. A smile was given to Mildred before she followed Cai out and up. Tipping her head at the question, she thought perhaps there were soft footsteps. "I'm not certain. You don't have any cats or dogs? Maybe ghosts?" The last was said with a hint of a smile. Weren't all old houses supposed to have ghosts?

"No cats or dogs," but the last had her pale some. "I'm not sure about ghosts.." and she made a quick sign of the cross as if to ward off any such notions. She put the thought aside but she would be more aware or attuned to see if anyone was creeping around the halls at night. Even one of the servants... but then... she shook her head and continued. "You can tell me more in depth about your trip." She had a feeling she was going to need the brandy tonight! It didn't take them long in getting to her rooms and settling all the papers on the desk in the corner. She had one of those very large beds that would accommodate at least three if not four people. "You can sleep here if needed." Although the room she chose was right next to hers so it would not be far, all depended on how the evening went and if they passed out! Mildred was up with all she requested not long after them. She was thanked but not much was said that could be repeated as she placed everything then left.

"Maybe I should get my nightgown on now." She slept in a shirt on board the Dream but for modesty and practicality at home, she wore warm nightgowns. Kicking off the low boots she wore, she wiggled her toes and grinned at Cai. "Should we sit on the bed and get comfortable?" Just as she asked, Mildred was there, and Regan fell silent until the woman was gone. She tiptoed to the door, pulled it open a bit and peeked out. "Coast be clear, matey." Just to make her cousin laugh, but then again, maybe she was making sure ol' sour puss wasn't lurking about.

"I think I could write while on the bed." She had a bed table she could use. "Changing now would be a good idea." She was already getting out her nightgown to change into and a duster to put over it. She prepared the tea as it was set to the bed side table and added brandy and honey. A good amount of brandy! Sliding a glance Regan's way as she was sure she had seen. A laugh followed for how she expressed the hall being clear. The cup was offered then she get settled with pen and Ink with the table set over her lap as she settled onto the bed.

She chuckled as she took the tea and tasted it. "Perfect. Let me slip over to my room and change and then we can settle in." Setting the cup on the beside table, she slipped off the bed and picked up her boots. On out she slipped, returning a few minutes later. One of the perks of not wearing gowns and all the fancy undergarments, she could dress quickly. She left her socks on though. Doggone floors were bluidy cold!

She started with those highest in rank as she wrote out King Leoric McLarkin and guest, Regent Gaidan McLarkin and his wife Corina. Next were the ladies in waiting: Vadoma Ayers, Diarine Fisher, Aingeal Farrell, Coreen Duffy and Neassa O'Brien. Next came the knights of Kildare: Vincent Hamilton, Simon Marshall, Thane Roberts and Jaelysa. She penned the names carefully although the woman that would be printing them out would have better calligraphic ability than she. Next came Niall MacKinlay, Cian, and Brigid. Charles Ackerman and his sister Marina, and guest was added to any single. "Now tell me of your adventures." Although asked before, now she could talk freely while she wrote and sipped the brandy induced tea.

Regan climbed onto the bed, sitting cross-legged after she picked up her tea. She nodded at the names, then took a sip. Adjusting the gown so her legs and feet were covered, she looked at Caiome a moment. "Well, we left the coast of South America, laden with treasure. It slowed the Fianna down just a touch but she was still swift. What we didn't know was the Unholy Trinity was also after the gold, and they weren't pleased we had beat them to it. Faelan had run a fever and when he woke, he had a feeling something was wrong, and back here, in Montrose, so did James and he gather up other ships, including the Frasiers." She took another sip of the tea, her eyes distant. "There was a fog bank and a storm beyond so we avoided it. But then they were spotted... three ships bearing down on us, all bearing the jolly roger. They started firing their cannons, and though Morgan turnedthe Fianna from them, we found ourselves flanked and outgunned. Faelan had sent me to my cabin to dress like a lad while they attacked. And then, there they were. They used grappling hooks to tie up the Fianna and began to board. I was with the two cabin boys, partly hidden. My brothers were in the middle of fighting when Faelan was suddenly grabbed from behind by a huge man, and he couldn't get away." She blinked and looked at Cai, then took a drink of the tea. All the while she had been speaking in hushed tones, so if they were being spied upon, it would be impossible to hear.

She had stopped writing the names out as she became enthralled with the story, "please go on..." whispered too but her doors were thick oak and the walls just as dense. Her brother or anyone else for that matter would literally have to be standing in the room and close to hear their whispers. She started on their family, Ronan Callihan, James Roy, Adam, Alannah, Morgan, Faelan, Regan and Deirdre. Captain Michael Dewar and then his parents, Sebastian and Olivia, and his mother, Millicent. Lord Henry Talbert and his wife Maryann. Lord Albert Monteque and wife Alicia, children: Brian, Joseph, Rudolph, Casey, Leana and April. Baron Frances Westfield and guest.

Regan nodded, and took a breath. She could almost smell the smoke and the blood, hear the screams and shouts. "The deck was awash with blood, making it slippery. Our masts were down and the Fianna was listing. Morgan was taken next, surrounded by men even as he ran one through. Another giant of a man hit him in the temple with his fist and he was down. He called out to BlackBeard, two down and they started to gather the crew up. " She lifted her cup and realized it was nearly empty, so she paused to slip from the bed and refill it and added more brandy.

Cai set the list aside after adding a few more names for the distraction may well have her spelling some of them wrong. Regan had her full attention and she added more brandy to the tea she had left in her cup, only refreshing it with a splash of tea.

Settling on the bed again, Regan looked at Caiome. Her cousin would probably have nightmares tonight between her mentioning ghosts and telling this tale. "I was hidden among the men but Blackbeard found me and they dragged me forward. Morgan was stripped of vest and shirt and tied to the mast to watch what they were going to do to me. Faelan... we thought he was dead when he pulled free of the man and was hit. I remember the cold steel of the blade against my neck,and Blackbeard made clear what they were going to do with me. I had managed to kick one man in the balls, bit another but it was a useless struggle. So I spit in his face. He laughed, and grabbed hold of my face, squeezing, mocking me. And I grabbed a knife from his belt, slashing his face open." She made a mark where the knife had cut. I nearly escaped but Sterling grabbed me. He and Westmoreland faced off, and Doom whispered in my ear saying 'Later, darlin'. I know you can't wait'. I was as much a prize as the gold was. But by then, three ships were coming for us. The Fury, the Wasp and Frontier, Neale and Adrian Frasier and my brother, James . So we were dragged below and locked into our own prison cells with two of Doom's men, three of Blackbeard's and three of Stirling's, to watch over us, and to make sure none took the gold." She had to pause again, taking a drink and easing the expression of hate that twisted her face.

She was soaking it all in and almost asked her if they were going to make her walk the plank blindfolded but realized it was something worse than that. Dying to know but she also didn't want Regan to realize how naive she was. "All three notorious pirates were there..." and she had to ask, "were you scared?" She also didn't want to talk too much or ask too many questions for she didn't want her to get side tracked and not get to hear the rest of the tale.

"I was terrified. Lucky I didn't wet myself." She gave Caiome a half smile, then looked at her cousin a long moment, "Do you know what they planned for me? For my brothers? " Regan didn't wait for Caiome to answer. "They each were going to rape me, maybe allow the men the same. I don't know. But after all that, they were going to cut off my head and send it back to Heathfield. They were going to torture Morgan, flay him until he finally died after they were through with me. And Faelan... " She shook her head. "The man that captured him wanted him for ... his own pleasure." Her lip curled again then she took a deep breath. "Of the two men of Doom's, one went above to watch the battle while the other stayed guard. Faelan finally woke up and we heard the first sound of the cannons. Morg went to one of the portholes and watched. Faelan had two knives, one in each boot, and one was handed over to me. So we waited until the time was right." And once again Regan emptied her cup, but this time, she didn't refill it, instead she just stared down, not really seeing it.

Her eyes got bigger the more Regan told of this encounter. It was nothing like anything she had experienced so it took time to even imagine such! She choked on the word, "raa..." not being able to get it out fully. She was already pulling her closer to give her a hug, then she needed more of the brandy, not even adding the tea this time. "Man.. wanted.. Faelan," now she had wide owl eyes. "Did he.. " unable to voice the rest but she was sure Regan knew what she was asking. Instead of bothering to ask any more questions she waited to listen to the rest.

Regan accepted the hug gratefully, the brandy even more so. She took a sip then shook her head. "The man thought Faelan was still unconscious and didn't see him slip me two knives while the man watched the battle. Morgan was watching too, and didn't know Faelan was awake. Morgan taunted the man about being left behind but he didn't seem to care. We had others of our crew held in another cell. But the man just kept watching." For the first time since she started to tell the story, Regan smiled. "Faelan give me a little signal for me to lean over so he could whisper. Since I had been talking to him before while he was unconscious, he felt there was a good chance the pirate didn't notice. And I let my hair fall down over him to block him more." When she spoke of the signal, she gave a crook of her finger. "Morgan saw and moved over to block us from him. And then... Faelan asked me how a lass attracts a man so he could do the same to the pirate. I told him things like fluttering his lashes and a breathless voice. I thought he'd choke right then and there." This time she was laughing butback then.... she was too scared. "I told him other things, then to act like a doxie from the docks. Then he winked at me, and started the best act I'd ever seen. You could have put a dress and wig on him and one would never know." Dear Lord, if Faelan knew what she was doing right now... !

She had that WOW look and was left speechless for a few minutes. She gulped down some of the brandy and near coughed it right back up being she'd done it too fast. Took a few moments and she could blame the heaving of breaths on that. When it sunk in, just the imagery of Faelan taking on the role of a female suddenly hit her and it came with spontaneous laughing. Maybe that was the result of the brandy too! She slapped a hand over her mouth as it sounded loud even to her ears and shot a look towards her doors as if Gill would magically appear there for the ruckus. But could he hear such? The last only had her blink and laugh some more muffled behind her hand. Finally when she managed down to giggles that would cease and start up again, she managed to comment, "well, he is very good looking in a way if you put a wig and dress on him he might get away with it?" It was just too funny and she was laughing again.

She was giggling too, though she shook her head. "You must never tell him, Cai! He'll be furious with me." She took a few breaths, but then she couldn't resist and put her hand to her forehead. "I need those strong arms around me again. " She made her voice deeper and then just started giggling again. It took her a few minutes to stop, but the rest of the story had her sober again. "Morg put his arms around me and thought Faelan had lost his mind. Until I slipped him the knife. The bastard came into the cell and ripped what was left of my brother's shirt from him. Poor Faelan had a concussion and he was hurting but, he pretended to faint. The pirate dropped his sword to catch him and Morgan and I ran in to attack. Well, we thought the sword had dropped but the pirate was still holding it by the hilt was he was trying to drag Faelan. My brothers are no lightweights, all muscle and that dead weight slowed the man. Faelan was barely conscious but he was aware enough that he tangled his legs around the man's and they both fell. That's when the pirate jumped up and went after Morg. He got him in the shoulder, and I got him." Her eyes lit up with fire. "I struck twice and I killed him." She shivered once as if clearing her mind and she looked at Caiome. "Morg freed our men, though one was near death and couldn't fight. But our weapons were there, and we charged up the steps, even Faelan. That's when we realized the Frontier was there, my brother's ship, as well as Neale and Adrian Frasier's ship. Two of the Trinity's ships were burning." She let out a soft breath. "And I thought I was going to lose everything that was in my stomach. That's when I saw the third remaining ship bearing down on us, and then we discovered Blackbeard had climbed aboard the Fianna."

She was dying.. "he said that? Didn't choke on his words?" She burst out into another fit of giggles with laughs mixed within. The laughter was sucked in when her next words registered. "You killed him, was it the first man you ever killed? It was a good ploy and got you out of there. I wont say anything to him." Although she might look at him differently, a bit of admiration mixed in. "So Blackbeard got away as well the other two.." that much she knew but never the details. "Hopefully you wont have any other adventures quite like that one." Being she knew Regan and her brothers craved adventure. It may well turn out that she did too.

Regan smiled slightly. "Yes, he was the first I killed. It happened so fast but after... took me a while to get over it. But Morg said that's how it is. Some never get over it. And Blackbeard hadn't escaped yet. He was standing, big as life in front of us. But with the three of us, and our remaining crew, he was outnumbered. So he jumped over the side. By then the third ship was on us. They fired a cannon but so did one of the rescuing ships and they didn't do much damage though it scared me and I screamed. They were so close we could see Doom and Stirling. I think Stirling was aiming at Blackbeard because they hated one another. But Doom knocked him aside and the bullet hit me, and in his escape, Westmoreland threw a knife at Faelan and got him in the shoulder. They left though, and then James was there. It had been so long since we had seen him, I cried. They took everything they could off the ship, including the prisoners and the gold, and the birds I had gotten in South America, and we went back to Heathfield." She gave her cousin an impish smile. "Oh, I had another close encounter with Westmoreland though there was no blood shed." At least none of hers or Samuel's. "And we got away." She drank down what was left in her cup. "Though that will have to wait for another night, I'm afraid. I'm getting tired." Thanks to that brandy. The talking, well, Regan could keep up with her sisters most of the time.

"I can't imagine doing so but if one had to.. well then they had to," she was talking about having to kill someone and she had sobered up with the idea. She gave a nod in agreement with Morg's assessment. Ooops.. she had skipped ahead thinking it sounded like Blackbeard got away, the giggles came back for a few moments. She sucked in a breath then, "you are going to tell me about this second encounter and when... was it recent?" Then she knew they needed to get some sleep.

Regan giggled again and nodded. "I returned to Bridgetown, and then after a few short runs, came home for the holidays. My brothers would have found me and dragged me back otherwise!" She was only half kidding too! "So, maybe tomorrow night if we have a chance. They should be able to since Gillean had gone to bed earlier then they had since her arrival. "At least we'll sleep well, aye?"

She plopped down on the bed, leaving lots of room for her cousin. "Then I will hold you to your promise.." she might not have lived such an adventurous life as Regan but she could enjoy the exploits through her until such time she had an adventure of her own, and survived it!

Regan leaned over to place the cup on the bedside table, then yawned as she stretched out beside Caiome. "Most of the time, sailing is not so exciting, believe me. And though the Trinity is said to be off the coast of Africa somewhere, I still watch over my shoulder for them. Still I wouldn't change a thing. Well, maybe not getting captured in the first place." She was babbling and she knew it. "We can whisper away about other things until we sleep." And that wouldn't take long.

Which had her laughing with the last, "aye, don't get captured and run like demons on your heels if they show up." Giving a nod but her lids were getting heavier, "good night my sweet cousin." She was probably the only one that would refer to her as such but then maybe she saw another side to the Captain.

Cai and Regan's family were the only ones that could get away with it too. "Good night, pretty Caiome. We'll be good and talk about clothes tomorrow around Gill, then whisper more tomorrow night." And hopefully Caiome's dreams would be sweet ones, not scary! The next evening, she'd tell Caiome about her escapades in Africa and how she had another close encounter. More funny then scary though the possibility of her capture had still been there.


Date: 02-22-12
Poster: Michael Dewar
Post # 49


It had been a good day for once. Dewar had gone with several others to ride the perimeter of the lands and set patrol paths. With all the snow, the men would be able to see the tracks of any who crossed into the grounds, though some might be villagers. He had returned to check on some of the youngsters training, and who were close to ready for actual duty as guards, then enjoyed a quiet meal. Having Regan at the estate seemed to be making a difference for the manor and on the Lord and Lady within. He was sitting in what served as an office, going over reports, with only a few left. These were the kind of days he lived for. Outside, the weather had turned again, and snow was falling once more. He watched it a moment, then added to his notes. Clear off the ice again. He was sure his men were to the point of wishing the ball was over and done with. He certainly was.

On days like this, when everything seemed to be going just right, a man should be more on his guard than ever. The stillness of Michael's quiet evening soon came to an end with the opening of his office door, and the entering of one Lord of Swan Lakes. The door closed behind him and Gillean continued toward the desk without even pausing. A sheet of parchment was tossed on top of the other papers littering the work space and Gill started plucking off his glove. "Here are some names for you." He didn't look over to the captain of the guard, but instead to his shoulder, swatting off the snow with the loose glove in hand. "...hmmm...starting with..let's see..the Baron of Harcourt, His in Dewar?" Then he looked to Michael as he continued. "Millicent, Neville, Prudence, Arabella, Summer...all Dewar. How about..." Gill leaned forward to tap the page because he had also written out each of their names on that parchment. "Olivia... Matthew? There are some rather interesting names left from the list provided to my sister to prevent any ill feelings toward Swan Lakes."

Dewar had just finished writing when the door opened up and in stepped Gillean. He stood slowly, watching Gill until that paper was tossed and then he just stared at the names there. "Where... ?" He started then shook his head. He knew where and who, and knew it wasn't done out of malice. "And now you have them." The Captain finally looked up, and took a moment before he continued. "However, Lord Callihan, you should know that there is likely to be trouble with my father, stepmother and brother there. The ill feelings would come from many." Including himself.

His fingertips remained resting on the paper. "There will be no trouble on this property, Dewar. I am sure of that. I have a capable staff and a highly trained Captain of the Guard to see to it. Should I have cause to think my confidence in your professionalism is in err? So much so that we would slight a Baron and his family in order to prevent you from coming in contact with them?"

Dewar's jaw worked as his eyes met Gillean's and for a long moment he said nothing. "I would not have excluded them if I had not thought they would be trouble. My father will make sure to comment on my status, my step-mother will have just about every woman here angry and my brother... " He stopped, and looked down again. There would be no excuse for this, especially now that he was caught. "You're right, your Lordship. I should not have left them out, regardless of how I feel." Damn it. Eyes raised again, but there was no denying the anger that was there.

And there was no denying that Gillean Callihan was well acquainted with that look. He had seen it staring back at him from every mirror, every creek, every reflective surface most of his adult life. "Indeed, you should have added them, and allowed Caiome to decide if she wished to exclude them for the possibility they may ruin her perfect evening. As far as your status..." Fingers pinched up that parchment and rolled the sheet in his palm. A flicker of a glance to the side and he tossed the crumpled page in that direction into the waste basket. "If your sire's comment is not on how well you have done to be in my employ, then he surely will not mention it at all. Will not ... mention it at all." Although Gillean was only a step up to the Baron status, a word to the wise would be sufficient. And that word would spread quickly to Baron Dewar if the Viscount so desired it. "Do you have a problem with your station here, Dewar?"

"I was to be a knight, in the service of Kildare, had my father's wishes been followed. I chose otherwise, and I have never been ashamed of what and who I am. Not even here." He stopped talking, looking down to where the list had been, as he fought to stay in control. "I think you have a problem with me, Lord Callihan, both you and your sister." He couldn't take those words back now as he looked back at Gillean.

Not even here? Dark eyes narrowed with the assumption that Gill had a problem and those spoken words that spewed regarding it. "You seem to think there are problems with quite a few people, over quite a few things. Is that due to your upbringing? Or your chosen profession, Dewar? And while we are on the subject of you... and my sister... let me ask you, Michael. What would be the problem between us? Because of her?"

Michael? He paused in the answer he was about to give, then shook his head. "No, not because of your sister. She is and always has been a lady, and obviously, I'm no gentleman." That last was said dryly. "I don't know what the problem is between us. I do know it began the day I arrested you at Montrose." And then he was put here. "And maybe it is because of my upbringing but it makes me damn good at doing what I do." Why the hell wasn't he losing his temper? He just threw his hands up in the air. "You tell me? What is your problem with me?"

"I see..." Gill brought up his exposed hand and rubbed at his chin, watching with a suppressed smile as Michael didn't lose his temper but still threw up his hands with exasperation. "Because, being arrested by the very man who is now protecting me and the one most dear to my heart, is ... a good way to begin a working relationship. I have no problem with your abilities, Dewar. Professionally, you have my complete trust in you.

"Professionally." Dewar put his hands down on the desk, leaning forward. "That sounds like there's a but in there." It was almost a demand to know. He wasn't sure if he should have said it ... no, he knew he shouldn't have but he wouldn't take it back if he could. "And what should I do if things get out of hand?" He'd like to throw his brother out on his ear, probably his father and that harridan of a step-mother as well, but his siblings would be there, and his mother.

"No - but - Dewar. Only. There is only professionally." One bared hand, one gloved pressed down on the Captain's large desk and the Lord of Swan Lakes leaned forward as well, the men were nearly nose to nose. Gill's dark gaze searched Dewar's, drifted for just a moment to the man's thinned, angry lips, then back up instantly to meet his eyes again. "You are the Captain of My Guard, Dewar. You will do as you need to do to make sure my sister's festivities remain hospitable and pleasant. With any means available to you to do so. But the Baron and his family must and will be invited if my sister so chooses. Prepare as you need for their inclusion."

Nose to nose, and it was taking Dewar all he could not to do ... something! He growled low in his throat, teeth grinding. "As you command, your Lordship." He knew his duty, he knew his job but this was the hardest damn thing he had ever had to do in his life. No! Second hardest. First was not telling James to forget it when he sent him to Swan Lake in the first place and just leaving.

Those words, so deep in the man's throat, so forced and yet constrained, were not lost on the Lord of Swan Lakes. He pushed back, sliding some of those papers resting on Michael's desk toward the guard and the edge of the surface with his own frustration. "Don't ever placate me, Dewar. If you have a problem with serving here, under my command, then you damn better tell me and I'll notify James. I've been told you're the best man there is, and that's the reason I desire you, but damn if I'll have you ever again speaking words you do not truly feel when it comes to serving me or my sister. Are. We. Clear?"

For the first time since Gillean entered, Dewar was suddenly less on edge. He frowned slightly as he heard the words. The best there is. The anger faded to a low boil, not completely gone. "Very clear, Lord Callihan. I will deal with whatever happens the night of the Ball." He understood what Gill was saying and had to respect that in the man. "And I apologize for excluding my family and will also apologize to Lady Caiome."

Gillean let out a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. Released muscles he hadn't realized he had tensed in preparation for any retaliation from the Captain. "She will probably not require your apology, Captain, but do explain your reasoning as to why you wished to keep them excluded. Caiome can then decide, on her own, if invitations will be sent forth." Gillean turned away, as if to take his leave, but paused, looking back again to the Captain of the Guard. A muscle twitched at the corner of his eye, a moment passed, but he said nothing, just shifted once more and continued to the door.

Dewar straightened, then inclined his head. He watched Gillean as he started to leave, waiting for him to say more. As the door closed, the Captain frowned, but again it was a thoughtful one. He let out a exhale, sending some of the papers that had been close to the edge to the floor. That caused a laugh as he moved around the desk to retrieve them. They were placed on the desk and then he decided, instead of continuing on the papers, it was time for a drink. Maybe a whole lot of drinks.


Date: 02-23-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 50


Cai and seen Regan off along with her brother. A sliding glance given Gillean as she wondered if he was relieved now that she was gone. His shoulders were not quite as stiff. In a way it was amusing for all the challenges her brother created with others. Not her in that way so in that it was a blessing. The thoughts were short lived as Gill took off to his own business to see to. She had enjoyed Regan's company as did her cousin of her or she would not have come. She knew in that alone had her brother, grumpy as he could be, not retaliating. There was still a dark side to him she would dare to wonder on, maybe even try to connect to find out. Such thoughts, however, were set aside as she went over the menu, from what drinks to serve the guests and when, right down to every morsel that would be made available and where. Each serving lass hired would be in charge of a certain area and of a certain food or drink. Presently she was in the kitchen with Mrs Brown as they discussed it all while making bread. Cai had an apron on dusted with flour as the heels of her hands pushed into the elastic dough. This was not something her brother knew about that she indulged in. Little did he know that she had made that lemon meringue pie they all had eaten the other night.

Dewar had waited until Regan left before he attempted to speak to Caiome. He felt he at least needed to explain why he had done... what he had done. He had made the rounds as usual, hoping Cai's brother was about his own business. At least until he was done speaking to the Lady of Swan Lake. He came to the front door and knocked, inquiring about Caiome while making sure there was no snow left on his boots. Blessedly, the snow had let up and the day was a glorious one with a bright blue sky and the snow so bright a man could be blinded by it. He followed the maid to the kitchen, wondering why she didn't announce him, though the lass had him wait outside the door. For a moment, he allowed himself to relax, leaning against the wall while he closed his eyes. When he opened them, he had adjusted enough to the lower level of light not to feel as if he were in some dark cave or dungeon.

This was Mrs Brown's domain. Where she was Queen. When the maid came to announce that Dewar was waiting outside the door, she told her not to let the man wait. Perhaps he was hungry and she the type of motherly that would feed the man or any stray! Cai was about to protest but she realized that Mrs Brown didn't have a clue this was a secret she kept. That would have to be remedied. She was quick in making the explanation now as she hurried to take off the apron, tossing it onto the table but it slid onto the floor. She adjusted her gown that had been protected beneath the apron, making sure there were no marks. She smoothed back her hair, making herself that proper to be presented air. She didn't realize that she had a smudge of flour on her cheek, opposite where Mrs Brown would have noticed and otherwise whisked it away with the dish towel. Grey green eyes were trained on the door, ready now to face the Captain of the Guard.

When the maid came out, Michael straightened from his lean and nodded. "Thank you, lass," he said quietly as he passed her and entered the kitchen. Mrs. Brown had always been kind to him, fussing like he was one of the young pages or soldiers rather then a rather grumpy man. He smiled at both her and at Lady Caiome. "I'm sorry to interrupt, ladies, but I need to speak to you, Lady Caiome and didn't want to wait any longer." He didn't add that he felt it had been too long as it was. He looked at Caiome, the smile gone. She didn't have a temper as bad as Gillean's but her tongue could be sharp as any knife.

Well now. She eyed him suspiciously and of course the maid was lingering just outside the door to gain any juicy tidbit that could be used in gossip that she could. Mrs Brown was not immune to it but she managed to keep such at a minimum rather than let it spread like wildfire knowing what kind of damage such could bring. A sliding glance was given the woman who was becoming almost a surrogate mother. Hard to do on a strong willed woman such as Caiome had become. Still, a gentle hand could gain a lot more than a strict one like her father had been. "Let us retreat to the office," which would be her brother's but he was away. It was the most secure room in the mansion. "Mrs Brown, you have the list to go over. I will talk more tonight after dinner." When she would be done with all her baking. There was a last glance to the mound of dough she'd been working on but there too, Mrs Brown would take care of it. Mrs Brown gave her one of those widening smiles and all but shoo'ed her from the kitchen, she would go over the list and be ready to discuss it later. Cai was quick of step, silent too, as she swept by Dewar without a look back. She expected him to follow her down the hall to another until she finally reached the office and stepped within. Only then did she turn and indicated the door that he might close it if is was a serious conversation or leave it open enough that no one could say anything that they went behind closed doors together. It was positioned that they could see anyone that came into that hall but none should this time of day. Ah, but the bit of a wicked smile was that sort of challenging she figured he'd step away from. Run away from!

He inclined his head to Caiome, not saying a word as she swept by him. He did give Mrs. Brown a devilish smile and wink before he turned and followed, his face serious again. He hid another grin when he caught a glimpse of the maid disappearing into another room. Dewar was quite serious but he also knew that Gillean Callihan would not appreciate his being in the office with Caiome and the door closed. He did turn and close it part way so that no claim of impropriety could be claimed or gossiped about. He respected Caiome too much to allow that to happen, in spite of that very wicked smile. "It seems I owe you an apology of sorts, Lady Caiome. I do regret that you had to learn of my family from Regan Callihan, and I was wrong to try to keep it from you and your brother. Such will not happen again." It wasn't easy to admit he had been wrong in spite of how he felt about his kin.

Paint her shocked but that surprised look was quickly masked over. Dewar apologizing to her. Pigs do fly. "I accept your apology. I had no idea you had a family," like he'd been hatched or something and came into existence that way. She indicated a seat if he wanted to sit if this conversation was to go any further or maybe that was it, cut and dry? "Tell me about them, Michael." Oh how pleasant his name sounded slipping from her tongue with the smooth brogue.

His lips pulled into a tight line at first but then he nodded. Perhaps it was time to face what had happened. Unless they made complete asses of themselves, they might be invited to the Manor again. "My father was, is, a strong, opinioned man. He knows what he wants and demands it, from his family. He did have some diplomatic skills. I haven't talked to him in about ten years, though I have kept in touch with my mother, grandmother and younger siblings. And of course, my mother's father." He shrugged slightly. "He and my mother were married by arrangement, not love. He had a mistress who is now my stepmother. When I confronted him, we fought, I left and he disowned me. So here I am." There was a hint of laughter in blue eyes, as if what had hurt him so much before, now amused him.

She took it all in, starting with his father. "Your father may well hit it off with my brother," or the other would be the disaster for both were strong opinioned men. That was the start but not having talked to his father in ten years left a long area of  'why'. And of course there it was . "Why?" The question barely out and it seemed the answer was forthcoming, "for his indiscretion? I thought all noble men cheated on their wives especially if it was an arranged marriage. Not to say the woman or man, was lacking as a person." She gave a slight shrug of a shoulder but it gave no indication on how she would personally feel on the matter. No one had ever asked her and probably would not ask her unless they had such an interest in her. "Your story sounds a bit like my cousin James." At least in the fighting part. The mother had died and there was the conflict of them moving in as well. She knew James liked both her and her brother, that it all had to do with their father. Green eyes had averted while distracted with other thoughts before sliding back to note the laughter in his eyes. "Are you still disowned?" Curiously.

"He wasn't happy that after he divorced my mother and married his present wife, I refused to accept her. I also did not become a knight, which he desired." He shrugged slightly, then nodded. "Aye, I am. Not that it matters. My older brother, Neville, is his heir. And there is the second reason for my avoidance. Neville is a .... an unpleasant sort, at least he was to me once he grew older. Prudence is his twin and she constantly looks like she's sucked a lemon. They were quite happy when I was disowned Both were married, both lost their spouses." Maybe he was giving her a warning, one to be passed to her brother. Again he shrugged broad shoulders. "My stepmother hates me but I have no problem with the rest of my siblings, including my half brothers and sister." He had looked down at his hands while speaking of his father but looked up again. "As far as your brother becoming friends with my father, perhaps, but he is a good deal older. Neville, on the other hand... " He let that trail off, inwardly wincing at the thought. Seeing Neville here would be punishment in itself.

She had been very serious but when he stated about his sister Prudence she started laughing. It couldn't be helped but then she sobered up fast. The thought in wondering of how he might describe her hit. She doubted it would be all too pleasant considering all the teasing she had done. Still, she would not change that. She also wondered how he'd describe her brother. There was a good amount of animosity there but she felt that might change one day. No rhyme or reason, certainly, to such a thought. "So, of all of them you get along best with your half siblings?" Oi, what a soap opera that house must be! Still, "I will have to invite them. Come what may of it and hope for the best. I'm sure my brother will be able to handle anything any of them try to throw his way." Of course there was the other end where they might cow tow to her brother for any gain for them being higher on the scale of things. She knew her brother would despise any of them that did.

While he might grumble to O'Brien about them, to anyone else, his description would be nothing but respectful. He was after all, in service to Lord Gillean. He ginned at her laughter, then shook his head. "All of them except for those two. I have a huge family, even though it's two combined. My father is not as strict as he was. There's Arabella, Bella. She's flighty, easily distracted so she may be talking to you and something catch her eye and off she'll go. Please don't be offended. Summer is only 19 and my half-brother, Matthew, who is 16. . This will be the first ball for both. My mother and grandmother may not come and it's not against you." He chuckled. "If you invite them. The youngest are too young, April who is thirteen and Sebastian, who is ten and named for my father." He paused, his eyes growing distant. "They were just babies when I left, but my grandmother loves them and they visit her often. I see them there."

"Then I shall make sure to have a dance with the young man so that his first ball is memorable. Unless, of course, he has the young ladies swarming around him." She marked Bella up as flighty and would not take offense. She paused then with a slight tilt of her head while watching him. Studying him was probably more accurate. "I will have to invite them both even if they may not come." Which she was hoping they would anyway. Never knew.

"Thank you, Lady Caiome, I'm sure he'll be delighted to dance with such a lovely lady." He inclined his head, then looked thoughtful. "My grandmother is an elegant lady and still quite lively. She may come just to watch the dancing and not stay. " He knew she would likely come for his mother's sake since she would come to see Michael and Olivia would be here. He felt less guilty now that he had told her about them. "I'm hoping that my stepmother, Olivia isn't ... sharp with anyone. My grandmother tells me she has been quite unhappy of late, though Grandmother doesn't know why." Not a totally true statement. Lady Constance had told Michael the children said his father was drinking, his stepmother complaining and the younger ones especially, from Summer down, escaped often to her home. But he would not speak more of his father unless Caiome asked. "My grandmother's name is Constance, my mother Millicent."

"I'll handle Olivia if needed." She might just poke her sour puss and say.. watch what comes out of there or leave. The thought had laughter in her eyes and easier to cover up any flush for the comment on her being lovely. Such a word she was not use to being associated with her other than the terms of endearment her brother used. No one else ever did, she didn't expect one ever to for that matter. Except Michael was the first and she sure was not going to let him know that. Considering it was just a nice thing to say sort of attachment anyway. She noticed then that it was starting to snow again. It would be good to have snow considering winter was moving on out and spring would be here all too soon. A soft sigh escaped for her thoughts without even realizing it. Gill had been away most of the day but he would probably be coming back in soon too. Dinner would be ready by that time. Normally she would ask Dewar to stay for dinner but that had been quite the disaster and she couldn't promise not to tease both men relentlessly. Eyes shifted back to meet his. "I'm sure it will be interesting." Best way to approach such for one never could predict on such personalities how they would actually behave. Neither of them had sat so she moved over to the small table with the various libations. "Would you like a spot of brandy?" She knew he was on duty but there were no rules against a spot of brandy. Drunkenness would not be tolerated though.

He watched her after he spoke, glancing at the window when she did then back when she sighed. He didn't say anything though and chuckled when she spoke. "I'm sure it will be as well. His Lordship told me that I should do whatever is necessary to keep the peace during the ball." Even if that meant 'escorting' an unruly guest out. "A bit of brandy would be very appreciated." He would never be drunk on duty but the thought of the cold and the warmth the brandy would bring was a temptation. Besides, he would be back in the barracks after doing another check of the grounds and the ice rink before returning to the barracks for the night. Then there would be reports to take care of.

Cai had a sweet smile when keeping herself from such. One came naturally as she poured him a spot of the fine aged brandy as well the same amount for herself. She turned with one in hand, offering the other. "Then we shall drink to an interesting night with no mishaps, at least physically." Adding a wink with that thought before lifting her glass and kicking back the dram like a pro.

"And also to the success I'm sure your night will be." He lifted his glass then drank it down. He didn't know she had received so few compliments in her life, except from family. But she was about to find what society was like in Kildare and there would be many compliments. He stood after finishing the drink then smiled again. "Thank you for listening and being so gracious, Lady Caiome. I haven't had to face a situation like this for a long while. Perhaps it's time." He would likely never be accepted by his father and the others, but after all this time, he found it didn't really bother him. "I should get back to my duties. Good day, m'Lady. Enjoy the rest of your day." He saluted her with his fist to his chest, then bowed.

Successful would be that there were no deaths for one reason or another, nor such wounds that would be considered serious. It would also mean that the evening be memorable, whether one's first dance or some intrigue that would have others talking, good or bad, for some time. Not too bad however. "All things happen in due time that are due. Good luck." As she may as well offer that much while she could and they were on the subject. She set her glass aside and would walk to the door with him, office door, she would wait for her brother here knowing this would be his first stop before dinner. "Sleep well tonight." Reassuring smile that would linger after he was gone.


Date: 03-08-12
Poster: Vincent Hamilton
Post # 51

Kildare Kingsmen
Preparing for the Ball

A Ball was coming and they were to dress appropriately. Leoric had in no uncertain terms expressed this. There was a retainer with the local Tailor they were to go see in the Commons. A way of supporting the growing city. For indeed many had not only return to Kildare but it had attracted many others. Many of which were young families that would grow with the Kingdom over the coming years. Vincent didn't mind looking the part of royalty. He had royal blood in him but this was not something he had talked about. It was something that showed in the way he dressed on occasion. He waited for his comrades not far from the Tailor's office as he looked over some oranges a woman was selling she had gotten from a ship that recently ported. He chose one carefully, noting the firmness and scent. One that he knew would be ripe for it was not hard like some of them. He was paying the few coopers it cost before taking out his small eating knife and commenced peeling the orange flesh from the meat of the orange.

How was a knight supposed to dress appropriately? Didn't they already? Those were Simon's thoughts as he headed for the tailor's. If it didn't actually make them look any better, why pay the coin? Still, orders were orders and he was obeying them. He stopped to talk to two youngsters who seemed to be arguing, then laughed when they answered. Yes, sir knight, they were arguing but they were brothers and they always argued. They didn't mean anything by it and would stop now. He gave them each a coin and watched as they ran off to show their mother, then containued on. Spotting Vincent ahead, he picked up a small pebble and tossed it toward the man. It might sting, but it was too small to even put his comrade's eye out.

Coming from the opposite direction, Thane paused in his steps to watch the interaction between knight and children and then knight and knight. He smiled, dipping his head to look down to his boot toes, then with his smile still visible, he continued toward the tailor's. He didn't mind one way or the other when it came to the orders passed down from the crown. It was as the King commanded, so it would be. As he neared, he looked up at the tailor's sign swinging over the door then back over to his comrades-in-arms. He didn't say anything, just lifted his hand in greeting. Might as well do this thing.

Simon was testing his reflexes. There were comments given back and forth about the other getting old or rusty of which Vincent was neither as he had peeled that orange like a lotus flower. Fruit in one hand as the other shot out catching that pebble before it could do him or anyone else near, any harm. There were children running about. Dark eyes turned on Simon as he tossed up the pebble once he neared but let it fall to the ground instead of catching it. "Ready for the fitting?" He offered out the orange with the sections ready to be plucked. By this time he had neared the entry to the Tailors.

If there had been children close enough to get hurt, Simon wouldn't have tossed it. He just shook his head at the offer of the orange, then looked toward Thane and smiled a greeting. "Aye, let's get this done." The one thing that helped... he knew Jaelysa was extremely unhappy about having to wear a gown.

He nodded off his greeting to Vincent and Simon and was the first to enter through the doorway. Which, of course, sent the men within into a flurry of motion. Not one but three men had been retained by the castle to see to the men. No reason to have anyone standing in wait while the others were being fitted. One of the men rushed immediately to Thane, directing him to a section of the room prepared to begin.

They were in for a surprise too for a cloak had been designed with the Kildare crest on the back over black satin, the underneath kelly green. Hats as well in a stylish tricorn and feathers, styled after the musketeers of France who were becoming well known. The rest of the ensemble would be a doublet and pants of black satin with the trim in the kelly green. Boots were an intricate design tooled into the leather that had been brought over by the cobbler. The fit would be perfect they would discover. The tool work was in Celtic knots in a subtle flow that added to the over all classy look. Vincent ate a few pieces of the orange then handed off the rest to the little daughter of the cobbler who was present to ascertain his craftsmanship was perfect. That was the job her father had given her.

Now that was a bit of a surprise. Simon had expected choices and decisions but things were ready for them. He smiled to himself since it seemed Leoric had thought of everything. He adjusted the hat slightly, fluffed the feathers, and tried on the boots. The whole look was better then expected and no fussing it seemed. He stood still, waiting while the tailor pinned, tugged and made sure the outfit fit perfectly.

The room was relatively quiet, save for the soft words spoken between knights and tailors. Thane squinted an eye as he looked into the full length looking glass, tilting his head side to side as he surveyed the overall appearance."If you'd be so kind as to add a frog on either side of the cape, so I can tuck it back at the bottom?" Another shift of head and he nodded, taking his hat and tucking it under his arm. "A fine job of it for sure. I thank you." Coins were added as a gratuity to that which the crown had provided and then Thane began changing back into his everydays. "I must say, My Friends." He called back to his comrades. "It should be quite the evening come the Callihan event."

"I'm thinking he wanted us to be his Musketeers," Vincent said with a laugh for the elaborate design. There were some choices of the shirt to be worn although all had French lace. They would also be fitted perfectly that they could even fight while in this get up. "I wonder if Jaelysa will be attired similar but in the feminine gown..." speaking his thoughts out loud as the tailor assigned to him was helping him out of his clothing and into the new so he could poke and prod, pinch and pin. Once satisfied, he was back into his regular clothing. The outfit would be sent to the castle once it was sewn up properly. He too tipped the man handsomely as well the cobbler and a little extra for the daughter to buy her some ribbons and candy. He figured she was about eight or ten.

He joked with the tailor assigned to him then changed his clothes. That hat would be something to get used to but he'd manage. He tipped the man, then grabbed up his cloak and gloves. Time well spent as far as he was concerned. He chuckled when he heard his two comrades talking. "Well, we'll certainly look fancy enough." And that too was expected.

"No Simple Simon here." Thane was still adjusting his collar as he crossed over to Marshall and thumped him on the back of the shoulder. "All in a day's work, my friend. All in a day's work."


Date: 03-15-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 52

The Ball
Swan Lake Estates

There was no RSVP to the artfully lettered invitations that were sent out. The night would hold many surprises they would discover. Everything was set to perfection and the whole manor buzzed with anticipation. Extra servants were hired on, from the cloak girls to the ice rink overseers. Every precaution would be taken to ensure there be no mishaps. The dining room where the guests would be taken, and announced, upon arrival had a winter theme. Small trees had been decorated and set as center pieces. They picked up the silver glitter that prevailed throughout the room. Fine silk webbing added to the feel along with the lighting that brought out the silver cast that transform the room into a unique wonderland. The adjacent ballroom would continue with this theme having the guests feel that they had walked into another mysterious land. A moon hung from the ceiling, one of silvers and blues whose lights dazzled beams in slow motion across the polished floor. Caiome's handmaid spent the last two hours fussing over her mistress to ascertain she would be one of the most beautiful women this evening in attendance. For Caiome, that was a long shot but she didn't mind the fussing and she didn't mind the daydreaming that went along with it. She was sure each lady that attended this evening, young to old, had that flutter of lashes and gleam in their eyes of fairy tales told them in their youth.

Her gown was black silk with an inlay of silver thread that held a subtle yet flowing pattern accenting her bust in the swirl up the sides. The beautiful artwork might go unnoticed by some for the cut was low in the front, showing off creamy skin and the feminine swell of her breasts. It was very stylish, all the rave in France (probably by the men mostly!). The shoulders also swept around the curve with the touch of fanned feathers with a silver sparkle. They matched the ones set in her hair that was swept up in French curls, allowing a few free to tease down along the line of her neck and shoulders. The cut of the gown tapered to a V down the front that flattered the curve of her hips with the slightly gathered material on the sides. It was not as wide as most gowns of the times but the way made, it would flow like a waterfall in a sweeping dance step. Jewelry consisted of pearls. Something simple yet elegant. Blue white went well with black and silver and continued the wintry theme. Her handmaid had made glaze to touch upon her cheeks that gave them a silvery sparkle when the light caught just right. She could not be fashionably late for she was the Hostess and so she would arrive downstairs, not far from the announcer, a few moments before the time on the card. Those that arrived early were seen to in the anti rooms where finger foods and an assortment of liquor and ales would be served. The orchestra could be heard playing various melodies in the background. It was their way of warming up and adding to the evening long before the waltzes would begin.

Outside, the night was perfect. Snow had been cleared from the road and ashes spread to keep it from turning to ice whether the guests came in carriages with wheels or runners. Two guards stood at the gates to the manor where fires burned merrily in fanciful braziers to mark the opening. The guards would retreat to a small guardhouse when the tide slowed until the ball's end. In the barracks, Dewar was finishing dressing in the clothing made for him. He had to admit to himself (and never to anyone else), Lady Caiome had been right in her choices. Pants of dark blue, nearly black were tucked into highly polished boots. A pristine white shirt could be seen at the collar of the jacket, cut to fit perfectly. His weapon belt was black leather as were the gloves he'd be wearing when outside. The final touch was a cloak with the crest of Swan Lake embroidered on the back. The sword he carried had been highly polished by one of the squires. Epaulets on his shoulders were trimmed with silver fringe to show his rank. He took a breath and stepped out of his room, waiting for the whistles and comments. O'Brien laughed, though he straightened from his lean and saluted Michael. "And that is how a Captain should look. Not your normal ragamuffin garb. Look, lads. He even combed his hair and trimmed his beard." Dewar just smirked. "Aye, and any of you out of uniform tonight will be in for it tomorrow. O'Brien, ride with me while we check that the guards are in place." Once they were outside, he looked at his friend. "I'm expecting you to keep everyone on their toes, Robby." He said quietly. They had already talked about his family and O'Brien and a few of the older men would be waiting should they be needed. Dewar wasn't worried about the Royals who would be coming. They'd have their own guards. After the two men checked on the guards, they parted. Dewar went to the rink where the ice glittered in the moonlight. It had been smoothed again, after any snow was swept away, and with the lights in the trees, it truly did look like a winter wonderland. Peaceful and quiet ... for now.

Gillean Callihan, Lord of Swan Lake Manor, watched from the window of his study as the carriages began to arrive. Early, no less. He snorted softly with a shake of head and released his press of the curtain's heavy material which he held aside to watch, even though it was slashed opened already. A touch of fingers played along the silk cloth tied in an intricate manner at his neck. As he cut his gaze away from the view outside the window, he caught his reflection there which showed the Lord of the Manor would do his sister proud in his woolen, black, double-breasted coat with wide lapels and high collar. That outer garment cut away at the waist to the long tails behind and the black and cream colored brocade vest beneath sported matching brass buttons as the coat and held the cream silk of his elaborately knotted tie into the v'ed neckline. Black, full length trousers clung to his legs, tailored to perfection by the man hired on by Caiome to create this illusion of Lord and then disappeared into the well-polished top boots of the evening attire's choice of color -- black. Most appropriate considering the man's soul. Gill left the solitude of his study to greet his cousins as they poured forth from their carriages, grabbing up the waist sash and wrapping it as he strode past the servants toward his sister. The only actual color to his attire this evening...a deep, rich color of blood. Their blood. Callihan blood. Red.

"There you are," the flutter of the fan halted as she could hear carriages arriving a good half hour early. "I didn't expect anyone to arrive yet," giving a nod to the man that would be announcing all arrivals to take his position as she was on her way to meet her brother half way. She tucked a red rose bud, red as the sash he wore, into his lapel. "Hold still," or she'd be sticking him with that very long hair pin and there would be real blood on his attire. He probably never saw so much of his sister before for the low cut gown, black as well except for the threading of silver. "I don't see Dewar within and I hope he has his men in position," such concerns would be muttered to her brother as she fixed the flower then stepped back. She had some kind of elusive, seductive even, perfume about her when close enough.

Dewar wasn't far from the manor, in fact, he was coming through the side door and slipping into place while the siblings were talking. The guards were all in place, the rink was perfect, and he was bluidy cold. He managed to snitch a glass of whiskey to warm up before he stepped out where the Lord and Lady could see him. Arms to the front, hands crossed over hands and he waited, dreading the moment his family stepped through the front door.

Gill's gaze passed over his sister, lowering to where her fingers worked to pin that rosebud to his lapel. He kept his attention there while he spoke. "I am as still as a statue, Rabbit, I dare not even breathe." He twitched off a smile and as she finished, he let out the breath he pretended to hold. "Dewar will see to everything as you wished it, Caiome. That is one aspect of this evening that you need not fret about." And speak of the devil, the man presented himself. Gill dipped a dark look over the man and back up, the corner of his lip pulling ever so slightly, then he tugged at the waist line of his coat, straightening his shoulders in the process. "And the ... family ... arrives." He could hear the voices raised in anticipation of the evening beyond the doors. He jerked off a nod to the man waiting there to allow them in without the need to knock. They were kin, after all. " look absolutely stunning, Caiome." He added, not looking back to her but keeping his attention on the door. His arm reached out, his hand grazing along her lower back.

She patted his chest as she noticed Dewar step within, "he looks scared..' which he had such a look about him to her. More in that she had not seen him like that but such thoughts were tossed aside as the voices were heard. His compliment had the smile already on her face as she waited.

James Roy Callihan, would be remiss if he didn't attend the Ball his cousin Caiome put so much effort into. This was commendable even if it was not something he was incline to attend. He would make her proud too as the newer Duke of Montrose should be and would be represented. He could not remember being so dressed as the newly appointed tailor was left to make what would be appropriate. He was at the disposal for the whole of the Callihan family that wished such. An older man who had studied in both England and France before returning home to Kildare once the true sons gained it back. Ronan had countered all pleas that he attend saying it was for the Youngsters than old geezers like him. Except he wanted an account, especially from his daughters, once they returned. Although he felt like a stuffed ostrich, James looked the part of duke from the deep russet color of a frock crush velvet coat trimmed in gold vine trim, breeches that matched, lace cuffs and jabot with noble shirt, an aristocractic vest down to the white hosen. Shoes of gold matched the trim in a pilgrim styling. Two carriages would carry the brothers and sisters. The males arriving first so they could see to their sisters. Alannah would be on his arm as there was no 'guest' for him to bring. Being first cousins, family, they would arrive a half hour earlier than the appointed time to help out if such was needed. James was impressed with the decor, right down to the skating rink outside. Some of the families had younger members that would be taking advantage of such sport. He didn't plan to, although he planned to partake of the various liquors, a smoke in the room assigned for smoking to avoid the sensibilities of certain ladies and the meeting of many of the lands he'd not had a chance to.

Though Adam was, like James, not one for balls, he would not refuse to attend this one. It was a sign of support for their cousins, even for Gillean since James had given him a chance to start over. He teased James a bit, glad it was his oldest brother and not himself who was Duke. The second brother was dressed in a similar fashion but instead of white hose and shoes, he wore boots. His coat was of black velvet, relieved with silver embroidery. The shirt beneath was cream colored, with ruffles along the front. His pants too, were black and beneath the jacket he wore a brocade vest of midnight blue. As they rode the driveway to the manor, he commented on how it all looked. One could never tell that it had been damaged or neglected. Finally, they stopped in front of the house and he nodded, quite impressed with the way the siblings had decorated but then Caiome had always been clever, even if she had been quiet when she lived with them.

Alannah was excited. A feeling that rose from the pit of her stomach. Butterflies. A swarm of them. She could not remember the last Ball she was to but certainly it was the ones long ago when they were different for a child of ten or eleven. She had gotten a seamstress in lieu of the tailor James had hired. Why? Not because she felt he wasn't up to doing gowns, she felt more comfortable with a woman, poking and prodding than a male touching her, no matter how professional he was. Crush velvet seemed to be the choice for such a Wintry Ball. Hers was a deep forest green which went well with her light golden brown hair and fair looks. Gold embroideries and fairy scroll trim that is hand pearled at the neckline and sleeves. Candlelight gold jacquard and kicker. Very full Cartridge pleated overskirt having Celtic motif embroideries. Underskirt of golden cream has a decorative front with satin back panels and drawstring waist. Belt of pearls finishing off the ensemble. With such a full skirt she could wear suitable low boots that would keep her feet warm for the cold temperature. She felt proud being escorted by James and had to say in a low whisper about how good he looked. A light laugh escaped when he gave her that unbelieving look. Once inside, arriving before the announcer was ready, she was straight off to greet Caiome and her more gruff brother.

Morgan's choice of clothing had been an easy one. He was a Ship's Captain and that was how he dressed. His coat was, of course, crushed velvet in midnight blue, with a proper ruffled shirt beneath, not of white but a pale blue. The coat was trimmed in gold along the hems and collar, and ruffles were also at his wrist. His pants were black wool, tucked into knee high black leather boots, polished to a high gloss. He wore a jaunty and fancy tricorn hat, trimmed with three fancy feathers. He'd give it over to a servant of course, once they were inside. He also wore a vest, in a rich, deep blue. His hair had been pulled back neatly from his face. Though he joined with Adam in teasing James about being all fancied up, truth was, he thought his brother looked regal, though he didn't share that with James. He'd likely suffer for it if he did.

Faelan looked much like his Captain brother. Being the Captain of the Dragon's Tooth, of which he wore around his neck even to this Ball. He wore a coat of black satin trimmed in a silver brocade.. Ruffled shirt of white complimented. Pants were white satin tucked into black, calf high, boots. He wore a fancier captain's tricorn hat of black with a white feather tucked in along the ridge. Blond hair was pulled back, like his brothers, into a tail at the nape of his neck. Mum was the word on commenting on James' attire, befitting as it were so in that he thinking much on the same lines as Morgan. The glance given him would say as much. He felt the tug on his arm so offered it to Deirdre to take much like her sister Alannah with James. A glance was given to Regan as he offered his other arm to her.

Regan had teased her sisters the whole time they were getting ready, threatening to put on her usual clothing, not to do up her hair, but she finally settled in and presented a completely different Regan to her family. Her gown was also velvet, but not in a darker shade. It was of velvet, but a shade of blue that reminded one of an ocean in a Northern clime. The bodice had a white overlay from the low neckline to the waist in a V shape, trimmed with gold laces. It wasn't dangerously low but enough. Tiny pearls decorated the skirt, and she wore a necklace of pearls with dangling earrings to match. A braid ran from left to right, partly framing her face. The rest of her hair was pulled over her left shoulder in loose curls. Tiny pearls decorated the braid. Caiome had picked the right color for her cousin, bringing out her blue eyes. She gave Faelan an impish smile and wink before she took hold of Morgan's arm, reminding him he had a duty to perform here. That only left Adam alone but he didn't seem to mind in the least, though he stepped up beside Alannah.

Morgan had actually been looking around and not paying attention until Regan slid her arm through his. Then he laughed and placed his hand over hers. "I was just admiring how beautiful all our sisters are." He tried to cover the gaffe but was laughing. He'd been caught!

With Deirdre's red hair, it was harder choosing a color and she didn't want something dark or the typical green so when with a silvery coral taffeta. The fabric is contrasted with an overlay of lace around the bodice which is further ornamented with strings of pearls and a delicate central flower. A thin strip of lace trim runs around the entire neckline. Flared sleeve cuffs feature the same trim as well as smaller lace flowers with ribbons and pearls that echo the bodice ornamentation. The back fastened with laces and featured both bones and an extra layer in the bodice to keep the shape of the gown and texture of the material perfectly. Part of her long hair was done up in swirls leaving the rest to fall down over her shoulders to her waist that had been curled. Her cheeks flattered the color of her hair as well her green eyes with a brightened gleam to them. Tiny pearls were woven through strands of her hair and a simple pearl necklace matched the pearl dangle earrings. "I think you all look so handsome.." addressed to her brothers as she barely contained her excitement for attending such a Ball. "It looks like a dreamy wonderland,"which had her thoughts to go romantic. But reality would plague them no less that such fancies were just that. Fancies. Once inside she was following Alannah to greet Caio first and giving that impish wrinkle nose look upon her cousin Gill. Teasing sweet kind that would probably have his spine stiffen against it. Deirdre was the sweet one, young and naive much like Caio.

Caio was quick to give the hugs back without messing up their attire, hair, and so forth as well her own. "You all look so beautiful," noticing the men had lingered behind her female cousins. She'd wait until they got closer.

James had loitered behind as he saw to his guards that had escorted them here. There was no need for them to be within, except to warm up at intervals, but go and join up with those under Dewar. Once the matter was seen to, he passed the announcer and joined the rest of his siblings, "Caiome, you look beautiful. Gill, I see you have done well here," which he offered his hand to give a shake in that congratulations sort of way.

Michael grinned when he saw James and the others come in. He hid it quickly though, not wanting to take attention from the Lord and Lady of the manor, purposely. He would have to be sure to mention on how grateful he was to Lady Caiome for the uniform. At least he wasn't too fancy. He nodded at any that looked his way, then glanced to make sure the men that were stationed inside were somewhat invisible.

Gill offered the Callihan ladies each a bow in greeting, then took up James' hand. "Don't sound so surprised, James. I'm glad you were able to come to enjoy Caiome's evening." That was why James was here, right? In support of Caiome, not to check on their ability to resurrect Swan Lakes. Gill managed a smile for his cousin, all civil like, then looked past him to the captains. "So pleased to see you both. Welcome. Welcome." He offered a hand to each of them, then stepped aside so that their outer wear could be collected until time to return out of doors.

Adam greeted Gill next after he handed his coat off to the servant. "The role of Lord suits you, Gillean." He said as he too offered his hand. It was good their cousin had been given a second chance, even if his feelings toward their family were a bit ambiguous. He would either warm up, or not, considering how things had been for a time.

"I'm not surprised but pleased." There was a difference in his view. Head was shook but then he stepped away as his brothers took their turn. With a slight bow of his head he excused himself from the lineup and headed for one of the serving tables to get himself a drink. The Duke of Montrose was a little uncomfortable all decked out and the whole idea of a ball.

Alannah whispered to James about there being many handsome men to come for her sisters. Who would be pinching her if they heard! Ones not related for certainly the Callihan men had the looks. Her laugher light as she fluttered about as she and her brother parted ways to check on the tables and decor. Wandering suited her too, like a butterfly that flitted from one flower to the next.

Faelan grinned as he shook his cousin's hand once his brothers were done. "Look'in good." And it certainly was as he was eyeing the serving table his brother headed for. That seemed like a good idea, "how are you liking the new role?" Asked of Gillean as attention turned back there instead. He'd start drinking in a short bit. He was interested in Gill's response.

Deirdre gave Gill an impish look, "save me one of your dances." She wasn't planning on getting in a whole lot during such an affair where she would probably blend in with the decor. She would get ones from her brothers and be content to have danced at all. She stepped away then as she studied those about.

Morgan had stepped up after Faelan complimented Gill the way he did. He offered his hand, and nodded. "I have to agree with my brothers." Gill's second chance worked out well, not only for him but for Caiome whom they all had been worried about. "And you are blossoming, Caiome." He gave Alannah a gentle nudge out of the way so he could kiss Cai on the cheek but he too wanted to hear Gill's response.

Regan was the last to step up but only because she was last to hand her cloak to the servant. She wasn't swaggering as she walked forward, but glided with a true lady-like walk, half-afraid she'd trip over the skirt. "Caiome, you look fantastic." She leaned forward to kiss her cousin's cheek, and whispered. "My sisters can't believe I actually wore the gown but how could I not? I really do like it." She cut a glance toward Gill surrounded by her two brothers and bit back a laugh.

Lest the cousins forget, Gillean had been primed for such a position since he was a youth. Indeed, a position of greater influence than that of this Lordly estate. He dipped his head to Adam then rested his attention on the need to answer Faelan's question. "I do believe I'm up to the challenge, Faelan. I've been enjoying it far more than expected. Although, in truth, it is Caiome who has taken the initiative to create such a lovely home out of an otherwise deprived manor house." Gill nodded toward his sister, then his gaze drifted past the Captain brothers to Regan. Well, what do you know? The sea-bitch could bedazzle with the best of them after all. Slowly, he pulled that dark notice to Deirdre. "Cousin, I shall be available whenever I see you free which, as lovely as you appear this night, may leave me without such a delightful opportunity."

Dewar took the opportunity to greet James once he moved away from Gillean. So far his family hadn't arrived, to his great relief. He was hopeful that they would be late and he'd be lost in the crowd. That would make this night a success in his eyes.


Date: 03-16-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 53

Kildare Castle
Getting Ready for the Ball

Years passed since Leo and Gaidan took the seat of Kildare. In some ways it amazed Leo as he stood at the ceiling to floor length window of his outer chamber. He was waiting on his tailor and valet. He had fallen into the customs of court for it was all part of the organization, rules of propriety and procedures that held a castle together. Although he grew up as a prince, such stuffiness was not held to a T as in English and French courts. His mother was half elf, he could not blame her. So he customized such stuffiness too, only on such matters where he would be presented in public would they be adhered to. Such was tonight. The finest linen and silks were provided and offset each other in the elaborate tunic of purple with the Kildare crest embroidered by hand on the chest. Trim was braided in gold cording around the armhole with silvery threaded sleeves of gray. Leather bracers with a finely tooled Celtic design covered half his forearms. Belt was of the same styling. The slit up the front tunic had the same material as the sleeves. Black britches were tucked into finely tooled boots that came up to his knees, wider at the top for ease of motion. The cape was of a deep red crushed velvet with the styling to drape over one shoulder, trimmed in white fur with spots of black evenly spaced. He would be wearing the Crown of Kildare and the Heathfield Sword at his hip empowered by his brother. He was looking over the lands from this prestigious vantage point but his mind was elsewhere wondering on one in particular for the strange connection that had been made. Where was she now at this moment? Would she laugh seeing him being fluffed up to present himself at a ball. No matter. With a deep breath he turned from the rare luxury of his own thoughts to be fixed up. His brother and wife would be doing the same along with his men and thirty escort guards. Three carriages were prepared drawn by matching white horses. Black with a purple interior and trim, the Kildare crest on the doors. A driver and two footmen, one with the driver up front and one at the back would see to those getting in and then getting out. Once he was ready, he waited for his twin brother and wife to meet him outside where he took the time to talk to his men.

Gaidan was in his chambers waiting for his wife, while the finishing touches were added to his own clothing. He also wore a tunic, similar in cut to his brothers but of a deep blue. The crest of Kildare was also embroidered on the left shoulder. He wore black pants tucked into knight's boots, worn to the knee. The cape he wore was black lined with silk. He wore braces with a single dragon embossed on each and a plain belt. His own Empowered Sword hung at his side. A gold circlet marked him as Regent.

While her husband got ready she was in a separate chamber with her ladies in waiting. She had to take extra care and the styling of her gown accommodated the swell of her abdomen. Along with her were the five ladies in waiting. It was not a place Gaidan wanted to be with the whispering, secrets shared and that special rapport amongst women especially tending to a pregnant one. Corina would be the woman representing Kildare even if she was not the Queen, her position just as important being there was not one. The length of blond hair was coffered in a way small pearls were added, her gown of peach fashioned to be flattering and not having her look like a whale. Once they were ready, they headed downstairs where their cloaks were placed upon their shoulders. She noticed that Gaidan had not arrived downstairs yet so there would be some teasing that he took longer than she!

Gaidan moved to the chamber door where his wife had been and knocked. He heard nothing so opened the door and looked inside. No one? They must have gone out another door. He headed out of the chamber, knocked at Leoric's door as he passed, to make sure he wasn't there either, then he joined his wife and ladies downstairs. "Did you forget me, wife?" He teased before offering his arm so they could head outside.

She turned with flutter of skirts and a growing smile. "Here I thought you would come straight down to linger outside a moment with Leoric." Here she could be informal in addressing her brother in law. "Ladies," giving a slight dip of her head that they head out while she stepped by her husband's side, slipping her arm within his once his cloak was seen to.

Neassa stood off to Corina's right, as the others, waiting the indication they could start away. Their whispers of excitement were kept to a minimum, but were present all the same. How could they help themselves? Their Lady was the epitome of royal beauty dressed in the evening's finest. Neassa's russet-brown gown swept the floor in a swish of movement when they started forward, blending with the sound of the others in motion. Her hair had been twisted and pulled back at her temples, leaving the remainder to curl along her slender neck. Fingernail sized cloth flowers of burnt gold and forest green had been stitched in excess and overlapping along the neckline which capped the outer curve of her shoulders and then draped in strands of ribbons down her back. She eased into her chocolate brown cloak with the aid of a servant almost in passing as they made their way out to the men waiting.

Coreen moved along with the others, the thickness of layered skirts a comforting and familiar weight. Dark haired, dark eyed, pale of skin, she had chosen a soft-brushed velvet overlay of brick red to compliment the satin skirt and bodice of that same color beneath. The design was not so fancy as some might choose, but this particular shade of red had always been one of her favorites. Tonight was no different. The entourage fell in behind their Lady, and Coreen slanted a smiling peek over to Vadoma. It had been too long since they last were able to attend such an evening. Much too long.

Vadoma was as excited as the rest, laughing and whispering as they spoke, teasing the others about the king's men or some of the guard. She favored a velvet gown of dark purple, with panels of paler silk at the bodice sides. The trim at her neckline and at the hem of the wide sleeves was black lace. A necklace of amethysts and gold hung around her neck, the stones cut into delicate flower shapes. Matching earrings dangled at her ears. Her dark hair was pulled back with a headband of gold filigree. She caught the wink from Coreen and returned it, her smile bright. This was going to be a lovely night, one sorely needed by all.


Date: 03-24-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 54

King of Kildare and Court Arrive

Aingeal, also known as Angel, was nearest Coreen as they moved into the room with the King, Regent and Duchess Corina. Blond hair was pinned up in style with little pearls. A-line style gown in coral and white crushed velvet. The lacy underskirt showing some from the shorter length front panel. Capped shoulders in a square neckline with a strand of pearls that matched her dangle earrings. She waited in position with her 'sisters' seeing to Corina and awaiting the signal they would get into the carriages. Her wrap was seen to by one of the butlers ever present near the entry.

In contrast to Angel was Diarine with her dark hair and blue eyes. Near half of the thick tresses were pinned up but with enough left to flow freely down her back for the dipping cut of her gown. One that was sliver blue trimmed in white fur. A plainer style but then it didn't need to be fancy. She moved in a flowing step that would have one wonder if she was part Elf. Even her ears flared a little at the tips. Her eyes somewhat slanted with thick dark lashes. Her appearance was pleasant but she was far more reserved as she waited quietly for the next part of this journey. That was how she viewed this Ball, as a journey that could possibly hold surprises.

Gaidan laughed softly, and looked down at Corina. She looked beautiful and his thoughts showed in his eyes. "I wanted to escort you down but seeing you makes up for missing that. You are beautiful, my love." He said it low then placing his hand over hers, he led the way outside.

Simon was actually looking forward to attending the ball. He could dance decently, but it was getting out to see others, and perhaps some friends. He felt quite resplendent in his new clothing. He kept from grinning though, trying to keep a more serious demeanor. One that suited a Knight of Kildare.

Jaelysa had come to accept the fact that she was to wear a gown to the ball. It was black and Kelly green, and she wore a cloak similar to the ones the male knights wore. The skirt had been made so she could wear her sword without it being obvious. Her hair had been pulled to the crown of her head, and curled . A single string of pearls with a pendant of a dragon was worn about her neck.. Luckily, she was able to wear flat shoes so she wouldn't have to worry about dealing with skirt and heels at the same time.

Thane looked up as the women started down, a slow smile of appreciation spreading over his features. Surely there wasn't a man who could witness such a sight and not enjoy it. Above and beyond was Jaelysa, and didn't she just stun with her ability to present as a Lady of the Court as she could fight with the best of them. Thane twitched off a wink to her then turned to return to his horse knowing the groomsmen should attend to the ladies into the carriages. It seemed the time to depart had arrived.

Thane wasn't the only one noticing the women all dressed up as they stood there attired the same. A good look for the three men and Jael to compliment in the feminine. Vincent may notice but dark eyes strayed to one in particular, soaking in the sight and committing it to memory to recall at times. Perhaps a little plagued of late with such thoughts, something he was not accustomed to. As usual they were set aside as duty was always foremost on Vincent's mind. The first of Kildare's king's man. He was right there to see to any of the ladies in turn outside and into the carriages as once all the ladies were inside as well the carriage that had the King, brother and Duchess seen to, he mounted up as he would ride alongside that particular carriage. The guards were given the signal as they all fell into formation in escort.

The trip went uneventful but certainly they were noticed as they traveled through the main town then various villages and hamlets along the way. Most cheered having stayed out to see the procession. The Twins were becoming well liked and respected for all they were doing to better those in the lands of Kildare. Of course there were those that remained in the shadows that would like to see their downfall for various nefarious reasons. Leoric's mind was distracted again for the steady rumbling of wheel and hooves as he watched out the window. Snow still covered the lands but that would not last long. This was a good occasion and he would entertain the idea of having yet another Ball in the castle itself come summer. A couple hours as he basically remained in silence except for the occasional comment in response to anything Gaidan might asked or Corina. He preferred listening to them as a background to his thoughts.

Gaidan did not usually ride in a carriage and he was not comfortable though only his brother and wife might realize it. He was pointing out different landmarks to Corina with an occasional a remark to Leoric. Usually a reminder of some past time. He was watching Corina mostly though for any sign of discomfort on her part, though she had assured him she would be fine.

A few hours later they arrived at Swan Lake Estates where the footmen were down and around to help those out of the various carriages. The Kingsmen would surround King, Regent and Duchess as well the ladies in waiting before proceeding in. About six guards would also be joining them inside but stationed with those of Swan Lake while the rest would remain outside and secure the area. They were announced as everyone was announced as they gained the dining area where the host and hostess waited.

Cai could feel her heart just about jump into her throat at the sight of the King of Kildare and his mirror image when announced. As soon as he and his party approached she dipped into an elegant curtsey and remained there until he motioned for her to stand again. "It is an honor your majesty, that you could join us tonight." She felt near tongued tied and wondered if Gill could tell! This was the first real encounter with the king. There was something about him too, that she couldn't quite put her finger on that naturally had one looking up to him. Something mystical. The Duchess was as beautiful as she heard and she looked where she belonged alongside her dashing husband. Her welcome was given to the whole of his party but addressed to the King in particular

Gill watched as the royals entered, and following Caiome's greeting, he tucked his arm to his midsection and bowed low as well. As he stood his gaze drifted past Leoric and Gaidan to the ladies and knights that followed beyond. "Our home is yours, please, enjoy yourselves." Servants offered the due respect to the crown and then began to circulate to see to any needs of the esteemed guests of their Lord and Lady.

"It is good to meet you finally, Lord Gillean, Lady Caiome." They could bet that their residing where they were now had been approved by him when approached by James. Leoric held James in great esteem. A hand came in offer to have Cai rise and once she was it would be released. "My brother and Regent, Gaidan and his lovely wife the Duchess of Kildare, Corina." Introducing them formally as Leo stepped aside so they all could greet. "As well her ladies in waiting." Which they had been announced already so he didn't repeat. He was noting where James was and would head there once done with the greetings. "The improvements are well notable," adding that comment as he was pleased in how things changed once Gill and Caiome moved in.

One couldn't wipe the smile off Angel's face as blue eyes roamed over all those within. Especially the men. Hey, she was single and there was an arresting halt on Gillean having never seen him before and assuming who he was for where he stood with his sister. Also assumed. Her assumptions would be confirmed shortly as being accurate. He was indeed a handsome man and she wondered on the rumors that surrounded him. Was he as dark and formable? Certainly had her curiosity even if she may not find out. She gave a quick polite curtsey to the two but remained by Corina and her sisters in waiting.

Corina's smile was winsome as she stepped forward with Gaidan once Leo stepped to the side. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you both." Giving a slight dip of her head. Her arm still linked with Gaidan's.

Diarine held to her reserved ways but curtsey in unison with her sisters in waiting but here too remained aloft near their Duchess. Hard to read eyes studied both Caiome and Gillean but left the greetings to those who it should be left to.

Michael bowed as did his men when the King and his court came into the ball room. He glanced over at Caiome and Gillean and smiled slightly then resumed his watching stance. He would greet those who spoke to him, just as was expected of a Captain.

Gaidan smiled at Caiome and Gillean when his brother introduced he and Corina. He inclined his head slightly, offering his hand to Gill after Leoric was done speaking. "Good to meet you both." Caiome would receive a slight brush of lips against her knuckles. Simon, Jael and Vadoma also added their greetings before moving on so others could speak.

Gill accepted the Regent's hand and then watched as the royals moved away followed by the knights and ladies. He met every gaze that touched on his, holding that notice until the other was lowered away or the movement of bodies stepped between the eye contact. The evening had begun and though Gill and Caiome would need to remain for a while to greet any still arriving, the others could mingle and begin to enjoy the festivities. It was actually Gill who did a double take to one particular lady whose gaze wasn't at all as retreating as the rest. A twitch plucked at a nerve under his left eye as he watched her, and Gill was the one who reluctantly shifted his gaze to the knights following her to end the intensity.

Two particular ladies leaned in to whisper to one another as they passed and noticed that double take. Neassa turned to peek around her shoulder to the lady knight and the males behind them and then with a tilt of head spoke in soft tones once more to the lady-in-waiting beside her. This night was sure to be so very enjoyable

There certainly was a flush to Angel's cheeks as she tore her eyes from ones so captivating. The whispering only cause the flush to deepen and her heart to beat harder. She said nothing but had to agree to those low words spoken she would catch so close.

As the ladies moved on, Leo introduced his Kingsmen. "Sir Vincent Hamilton, Sir Simon Marshall, Sir Thane Roberts and Dame Jaelysa." There was pride in each name given and the honor given to introduce them personally. Once done and he finally taking Gill's hand in a clan embrace than just shaking. The grip to his wrist as the other crossed over to his forearm. "We shall talk one day soon." Leo wished to know those of his lands especially holding a respected position. The hold was brief as there were others arriving. A slight dip of his head was given Dewar, knowing of the man and his building reputation as he passed.

Diarine actually let her lips twitched hearing her two sisters' whispers. She noted the flush on Angel's face, which was the cause of the near smile. It was Dewar her focus shifted and linger that few seconds longer than it should. The study intense for she had heard about the man's growing reputation too. The note was of his sword before focus would shift again as she was on her way with sisters and Duchess.

Coreen and Nessa would meet the dark eyes of Vincent and that reserved smile of a kind that wanted to go fully but didn't. It was more in his eyes and amused already. Such would be taken in briefly as he turned focus on the Lord and Lady of Swan Lakes, "an honor to meet you both." Coming with a slight bow of his head and a fisted hand to thump over his heart once. Once they started away in following the others, he would step alongside Jael. "I request a dance if you dance.." words low, eyes forward as one would not even guess he asked her anything.

Before Corina stepped away with her husband, and her girls not quite within earshot, she asked a favor of Gillean for certainly she didn't miss a thing. "If you are free to dance and any of my ladies have not, please consider a dance with them." She wished that each had at least one dance and she could not be certain each would. It was a request but it was coming from a Duchess and certainly a small thing to do. She didn't wait for an answer as she gave a slight dip of her head and continued on with her husband while minding her steps. She needed to sit about this time too.

Corina wouldn't see but Gill returned the slightest dip of head in response to the request.


Date: 03-25-12
Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 55

The Ball Begins

"My Lords, Ladies...if you will, the Lady Caiome has prepared a winter wonderland for us just beyond these walls." Gill stepped forward to collect Caiome's cloak from the butler and then assisted her to don the cold weather attire. "If you all would be so kind as to accompany us out?" Once Caiome was bundled up appropriately, he moved around to see to any other ladies' in need of assistance, even as the staff did the same. When all were ready to return out of doors, including himself, they filed through the room decorated by the Lady of Swan Lake to represent the wintry view outside and out of the large french doors that opened up to the field beyond. Gill slid a look in the Captain's direction before he dipped his head in that modified bow to each of the ladies that passed him on their way toward the evening's outdoor festivities.

Michael felt this night was going to be better and better. So far there was no sign of his family, although a few others had yet to arrive. The look from one of the ladies was caught by the Captain, and he inclined his head to her, smiling as he met her gaze until she walked away. He met Gill's look as well then his attention was caught by the arrival of his mother and grandmother. He nodded at Gill, letting him know that he would be stay at his station and keep an eye on both arriving guests and those outdoors. He walked over to greet his mother and grandmother, a smile on his face. They fussed over him for a moment, causing him to laugh before he guided them outdoors. There they could be introduced to the Lord and Lady, if she was available. Likely his grandmother would only stay outside for a few moments, unless there was somewhere warm for her to sit.

Jaelysa listened to Vincent and smiled. "The Ladies taught me to dance when they learned I did not know how. I will try not to step on your feet." And she joined in the exodus outside, following the Royals and the Ladies-in-waiting.

Gaidan was concerned though he would see what Corina wanted to do. He wasn't sure it was safe for her to be on skates!

Such a smile was given her brother as green eyes lifted to meet his. He could tell she was excited just by the way a nice flush had settled on her cheeks. That otherworldly sparkle in her eyes as fingers smoothed over the fur of her cloak as he placed it about her shoulders. Oh, she noticed one of the ladies in waiting managed to discreetly be in line to have Gill help her out. Had her chuckle under her breath as they all but paraded out. Skates were handed out to those who would glide over the ice. Cai would be one of those.

While everyone participating slipped into skates, Gill remained at the ice-field's edge. He may eventually also join the skaters but, for now, he made sure others were comfortable around the large bon-fires and barrel-blazes set around for warmth. Staff had started bringing around the refreshments to further add to the warming of insides as well. As the newest arrivals joined the others and were announced, Gillean fought back a smile. The Lord of Swan Lake tugged his heavy fur up around his throat and headed in that direction to assist the older woman along the cleared pathway toward the fire and the comfortable chairs available there. "We are so pleased you could join us, M'Ladies." He added as the elder of the two lowered to her seat. "Warmed apple libations." He nodded to the servant to bring them over for Michael's first two arrived family members. "I trust you will enjoy yourselves this evening. Gillean Callihan at your service should you require ... anything at all." When the two made it quite clear they were comfortable enough and needed nothing else to increase their evening's enjoyment, he moved away to once again look to the ice and those skating upon it.

Corina would not be getting on skates. Not in her condition but she would bundle up and stay with her husband as well Leo who now flanked her, to head outside for a short bit.

Leoric gained his heavy cloak not that he needed any cloak but that would have some wondering on him. Enough knew already or suspected he was not wholely human. He didn't plan to skate but he would be one of the spectators and stay with his brother and sister-in-law.

Angel would be one of those to get skates and go right out onto the ice. Something she loved but rarely got a chance in the past few years.

Diarine followed them outside but stayed near the Duchess as she was in charge of. She watched. If one watched her they might note there was a lot going on behind blue eyes that they could only guess on.

The night turned out prefect for the skating rink withe the glow of torches and burn barrels to keep ones warm giving off that soft light that sparkled over the mounds of snow and then the expanse of ice. Had various colors of light dancing over the surface and of the sparks the blades of the skates gave off as those starting to move over the smooth surface might note. Caiome had waited for this moment and was out on the ice before the two ladies arrived that Gill was seeing to. As she came round she got to see him doing such and it warmed her heart in that moment. This was the Gillean she knew and treasured.

Gaidan would not leave Corina's side, except perhaps during the dancing, when he would at least dance with the Lady of Swan Lake. He occasionally leaned down to whisper something to Corina or pointed out someone to Leoric. "You should go enjoy yourself, brother." He teased, "cause a few hearts to flutter and all that."

After escorting his grandmother and mother out, and getting a bit of a surprise when Gill gave them attention, Michael returned to the ball room so he could guide the other arrivals out. He was standing so he could watch both door and lake. He knew O'Brien was always watching but that wouldn't mean he'd relax.

Vadoma had joined in her friends and was quite happy to be skating. She had been a girl when she was last on skates and though it was a bit touch and go at first, she found she hadn't forgotten a thing.

Jael on the other hand, stayed on the bank of the rink, close to the Royals. She had not skated in some time and was certain it would be impossible in a skirt. Especially since this was really the first time she had worn a fancy gown!

Coreen was so excited to skate but that didn't stop her from pausing by Diarine and catching her up by a hand. "Come, D, let us make the most of the evening. Our Lady's gallant husband is quite capable of watching after her for the now and I will not participate unless you do as well. Would you deny me this chance to ice skate, Sister?" Her laughter was light, and playful and she tugged with both of her hands on Diarine's one as she begged in action and word for that LiW to be a part of the fun.

Neassa proved a bit bolder, but then, this was a night of magic, was it not? And all was fair when the evening involved glistening ice and flickering flames and stars and snow and ... a handsome king. She dropped into a deep curtsy before the King of Kildare, slowly bringing her gaze up to their crowned leader. "Will you not be joining us out on the ice, Your Majesty?" She remained in that dip of respect and would do so until He ordered otherwise, but that didn't mean she didn't dare further. "Or will you reserve your skills for the dance floor?" Neassa did have the decency to lower her eyes with that last comment, although she heard Coreen gasp. Which only had the O'Brien lass smiling beneath the cover of her bowed head.

Thane moved closer to stand near Jael, his gaze on the skaters but his words for the female warrior. "And here I thought there were no blades that you could not master." A flicker of a gaze touched on her and he smiled. "Tonight I finally find your weakness, and that is the blades of ice skates. Unless..." He turned to her fully then, a smile touching his lips and his eyes. "You would prove me wrong in that assumption?" He held out his upturned palm to her. "What shall it be, Dame? Cowering on the sidelines? Or daring the combination of skates and skirts?"

The announcement was called out that the MacKinlays and the Ackermans had arrived. Gill would not have Caiome give up her skating, something she very much enjoyed, so he went over to greet and welcome them, inviting them to join the festivities of the evening as best it suited them and their guests.

That had Diarine laughing, a very musical sound much like the elusive elves of ole. Her hands in Coreen's she moved away from the Duchess and her husband. It was true, she was in the best of hands and she should skate. She knew how. "How can I resist then my first partner." It would not be the first they had danced as they learned with each other any of the new steps that came from England, Spain or France. It wasn't only Coreen that gasped but Rine as well before she was the one tugging Coreen away from the incorrigible Ness. She was trying not to laugh at the same time as it would further ruin her image.

Ness took Leo by surprise as he stood there with his hands folded behind his back, feet apart in a solid stance. That position was relinquished as Ness went into her curtsey. A hand coming to cup hers in bringing her up from that position. "I am more for a dance floor, so there I shall see to any dance of the night. One shall be yours." Which was proper and nothing encouraging her way. He planned to dance with a few but he didn't plan to put on skates. "Go with your sisters," as he had heard them refer to each other, "and enjoy the flight upon the ice." There was a twinkle in silver blue eyes when he caught those gasps but he never looked their way.

Poor Jael as there was Vincent at her other side and his hand out. "Aye, let us see how well you can be with the blade upon ice and show this scoundrel up." She would have two escorts out onto the ice. A gruff sound as he lowered his voice and a slight lean towards her, "and see if Thane can put the blade where his mouth is."

Caiome was pretty much on the ice by herself as she wove her way around the others. Smiling all the while and a few pleasant words in passing. She heard the announcement and knew that she should present herself again so headed off the rink and skates to eventually join up with her brother again and welcoming their neighboring families.

Once the introductions were done and the Ackermans then greeted, Niall headed outside where many of the guests were either on the ice or watching. He was looking for one in particular.


Date: 04-01-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 56

Jael blinked at Thane then laughed. "A challenge is it? You know I can't resist such." She found a pair of skates that fit and by the time she was ready to try the ice, Vincent had joined in. "I should not fall with the two of you here to catch me." She wasn't really planning on falling but because Thane had offered his hand, she placed hers in his and grinned at Vincent. "Are you two going to race?" And there was Niall coming to the ice. Maybe the three of them could do so.

Dewar in the meantime was relieved to be inside, escorting guests out and returning to his post. He had not missed the look from one of the ladies in waiting and had inclined his head slightly, meeting her gaze before she moved away. He had just returned from escorting his mother and grandmother when Lord Charles Ackerman, his sister, Lady Marina, and her escort, Lord Joseph McDonough were announced. He greeted them and then escorted them outdoors.

Marina was delighted with how wonderful Swan Lake looked after that terrible war. She wasn't certain she would skate, unless Joseph wished to.

As each new guest was announced, Gill greeted them and then encouraged  them to join the gathering. Depending on their likes, the guests made their way to the ice or to the warming fires and refreshments. Ackermans, MacKinlays, McDonough and Cunningham. Some of the older families which had served against or for the Callihans during the first and second attempts filtered in. Greenwalds, Hastings, Plitherman, Greens. All making their presences known to the Lord and Lady of the Manor before mingling. None had been left from Caiome's list and it appeared most had accepted the invitation. Collinswood, Webster, Anderson, Pollock. It was when Lord Daniel Remmington, Baron of Thornston, was announced that Gill did a second look before moving to welcome him. The man, for all his fine clothes and air of intelligence was recognized immediately. "Remmington, is it?" Gill's dark gaze narrowed, and he tilted his head ever so slightly as he studied the man's features. "Welcome, on behalf of Swan Lake, to my sister's festivities." Gillean took a step back, sweeping his hand to indicate the area of activity.

"Why thank you, M'Lord." Daniel dipped his head in a nod that could very well be mistaken as an insult or sincere gratitude depending on who witnessed action. "It is your sister who I've been most eager to see, actually."

Though Gill had stepped away initially to allow the man access, he stepped in front of him again, barring the way. "I trust you will not be monopolizing her time."

Daniel smiled, that flash of white that could, on occasion, enthrall the most cautious of lasses. "I trust you will allow her to spend her time as she sees fit." Another dip of chin. "My Lord." Daniel's gaze swept past the Lord of Swan Lake and locked on the Lady not that far from where they stood. "Now..." Daniel redirected his gaze to Gillean. " will excuse me, I believe I'll make the most of this fine event."

Gillean's jaw tensed and he looked around his shoulder to find Cai as well. For her benefit, he remained the gracious host, although if any looked down, his gloved fists were clenched tight at his side. No sooner than Daniel walked away than Gill's gaze shot to the interior of the manor in search of Michael, but the doubled doors opened into the house did not produce any evidence of the Captain of the Guard.

While Jael donned her skates, so had Thane and once her hand was in his, he was laughing. "Ever the courageous and brave, Jael." Thane stepped backward onto the ice, leading the Lady Warrior and his comrade onto the playing arena.

Corina's Ladies were all on the ice now, weaving in and out of the other skaters, laughing, calling out with feminine amusement, coaxing others to join. One or two skating a circle around the ice-settled warriors before joyfully soaring away.

Segan Quinn found his way to Swan Lake Estates of Kildare, leaving his crew at the port to their individual amusements in taking turns with shore leave. All could be trusted and not a second thought there. No. His thoughts were elsewhere as he showed up giving Lady Captain Regan Callihan's name as his invite. It was not questioned especially seeing the Sea Captain splendidly decked out. Captain's hat of black with a white and blue plume accented the dark blue double breasted waist jacket with gold buttons, white pants and tooled black boots. Blond hair was pulled back neatly into a tail as the overcloak was left on if he should continue outside where the ice pond was located and most of the guests presently. That was where he headed, blue eyes holding a twinkle for the surprise his presence might bring. He wove his way through the mingling crowd to stand at the edge as he searched through those upon the ice.

After Ness joined her sisters upon the ice, Leoric made his way over to Caiome with lowered words once the conversation ceased she was in as he approached. "I would like to lead you in the opening dance upon the ballroom floor when the time comes." Feeling it appropriate that the King of the lands should do so with the hostess being he was not married nor she. Silver blue eyes touched upon those of the Collinswood and Webster members before leaving them back to their conversation. Once gaining the affirmative from Caiome, he made his way back to where his brother and wife remained watching the others. Once again taking that elusive quality and stance with his hands behind his back and feet a space apart.

Cai was not only surprised but flustered a moment, going into a curtsey and wholeheartedly agreeing. Was there any other option really? As Leo left she shot a glance to her brother as they had become separated in mingling with their guests. That was when she noticed the man coming towards her that looked familiar and on another level noticed the clench of her brother's fists. She wasn't quite sure of the reason but felt she would probably find out in time. She braced herself as the man drew closer. That straight spine, slightly lifted chin stance.

Vincent was grinning as they donned the skates and headed out onto the pond. He recognized Niall and gave a wave. All their history intertwined with another at this point. Jael was in good hands and if she had not been good on the ice, it would not matter for she could use them as a swing if she wanted.

It had been a long time since Deirdre had been on the ice and with a lot of bravo, she got going really fast. So fast she spun out of control and ended up crashing into one of Kildare's finest king's men. Poor Thane, hit from behind and worse, the piercing squeal that her momentum would send the threesome and her. Lucky for her it was these kingsmen and kingslady who were trained for the unexpected and better than most balance.

Joseph was pleased to be here in the company of Marina and her brother as they had gotten along well and only strengthened the growing friendship. Of course he knew the twins, Corina and a few others such as James Callihan and his siblings. Gill he didn't really know nor his sister but this night would correct that. He donned the skates and took Marina out on the ice for it seemed it was something she wished to do. He had no problem with that and proved to be an excellent skater.

It would seem that Jael had more than enough company and being she had not yet a third arm, Niall remained where he was in watching instead, in spite of the welcoming gesture given by Vincent. He waved back and left it at that. The laugh came unexpected just as the unexpected circumstances as little, yet no longer little really, Deirdre crashed into them. He was too far away to lend any help so was the spectator instead.

Regan hadn't waited to get out on the ice, though of course, she had stopped to tell Gillean that she expected a dance with him too. Just to prove she could dance. Leoric was given a graceful curtsey and an impish grin, treating him exactly as she did anyone, even though he would know she respected both the man and his birthright greatly. She skated off, skidding to a stop when she saw Deirdre losing control. She watched wide-eyed at the crash, laughing when she was sure no one was hurt. Then she skated over to help untangle the tangle. Regan did look up and see Segan, and gave him a wave before she tripped over someone and just barely managed to keep her footing. Wheeee!

Simon too, was skating but had refrained from making comments to his brothers, and sister, in arm. He had just circled the trio once, then skated to ask Caiome if he might be added to her dance card when he saw the youngest Callihan lass fly by. He headed over to help if needed.

Vadoma was another of those moving to help, giggling as she did. In fact she almost lost her footing because she was laughing.

Marina grabbed hold of Joe and watched as it seemed enough were moving in to help. And even more were watching!

Jael had seen Niall and grinned at him but then, suddenly and without warning, she was trying to keep her balance. She didn't know what happened other then there was a squeal and bam! It would seem the skirts had one advantage. They made good padding when one fell on their arse while skating! She wasn't sure where Thane or Vincent were but she certainly wasn't where she had been.

Gill had started toward the newest arrival, not recognizing the name or the man when the announcement was made. It was when that man looked beyond the crowd to the ice, and Gill did the same, that he caught the wave from Regan. Gill's gaze drifted back to Segan and he snorted softly. Go figure. Looked as if the Runt of the Reef had siren songed herself a date for the evening. Gill actually fought back a smile. To each their own, considering the man's attire. Segan was offered a nod and a 'welcome' before Gill set his sights on more worthy concerns. That of one particular sneak and his bee line toward the Lady of this Manor.

Daniel refused to think about the hole being bored into his spine by the Lady's brother as he approached her. He offered her a genuine bow, and as he slowly straightened, he smiled to her. "M'Lady Callihan. I'm Daniel Remmington, of Thornston. At last we meet..." A dark brow arched up with his widening smile. "officially."

One minute Thane was laughing, the next he was pitching forward, trying to turn to make sure he landed first before Jael or the lass who had collided with them. Some fine show of skatesmanship on his part! Guess he was eating almost putting his blades where his mouth is' as Vincent had accused. He rolled to a skidding knee as quickly as they all touched down in order to help anyone up. "Is everyone alright?" Hard to tell with all the material and thrashing ladies.

There was yet another sea captain to arrive as a guest of Regan Callihan. This one was the opposite in looks than his predecessor, dark hair, dark green eyes, darker brooding looks. He was suited in dark brown with brass buttons of the doublet, ecru pants and brown boots. Captain Adrian Frasier was announced without question even if the announcer schooled his surprise expertly. He too was directed outside where he made his way through the crowd. Stopping at times to speak with those he knew or who introduced themselves which he did in kind. The name Frasier was heard of even as far as the seat of Kildare.

Segan noticed Gill and had been pointed out earlier to whom he was and his sister. The captain's hat was removed and tucked under his arm as he gave a respectful dip of his head to Gill but his attention was distracted with the mishap on the ice and he was moving quickly out to help those that needed a hand, especially Regan being the first he approached.

Thane was not the only one as the grip upon Jael was to keep her steady when all thrown to the wind in the crash. They were really amongst skirts as it pulled him to his knees. It was an upset but it had him laugh outright as it seemed there was no blood at least.

Deirdre's cheeks were probably as red as her hair, hiding most of her freckles for the first time as she tried to scurry to her feet. Normally nimble on them this was the first time to feel so awkward as she took an offer hand in helping her up. "I'm so sorry," murmured out with a demure look under thick golden red lashes. Worse, in her fluster, she started to dust Thane off of the snow stuck to his clothing as well Vincent and Jael too! She might be making matters worse.

It wasn't until the man drew closer that she recognized the face of one they thought to be a petty thief of the streets. For a second her composure went unguarded until she quickly schooled that surprise and regained her composure. There was a flash of grey green eyes towards her brother for the fact this man even got past him! There and back in an instant as she held out her hand. Would he shake it or kiss it? "I've heard of you Lord Remmington," not adding she heard there had been an old man Remmington. One she thought it was said had died. Certainly this man was not him. "Welcome to our festivity."

Adam, and Morgan, were laughing, not only at the crash but at the fact there were two additions to the guest list they hadn't expected. A ribald comment or two before they were shaking their heads and pretending they hadn't said a word.

Jael was having a bit of trouble getting up. Skirts, petticoats, skates. Finally, she just sat back down and laughed. "I'm fine. I just can't get up." Had they not been where they were, she might have added a few words she had learned since being knighed.

Michael had known Daniel Remington as the man in Kildare as soon as he saw him but the man had been invited. He watched as Daniel headed outside, then came the accident. He stood briefly at the door until he heard an announcement that had him groaning. Sebastian Dewar, Baron of Harcourt, Baroness Olivia Dewar and family. He turned slowly to watch as they approached, his expression completely blank, even to his eyes. "My Lord, My Lady, welcome to Swan Lake. You and your family." He bowed then straightened, looking his father right in the eye. "Lord and Lady Callihan are outside as are their guests. Please, fill free to join in the festivities until dinner is served."

Regan laughed as Segan helped her before she fell flat on her face. "Thank you, Segan. Now we need to rescue Deirdre." She grabbed his hand and tugged him over to stop Deirdre from getting herself in deeper. "Deiredre, this is the gallant Captain Segan Quinn. This is my beautiful youngest sister, Deirdre, Segan." And there was Adrien. She grinned and waved at him, and if he was braving the ice, waved him over.

Sebastian had not expected his estranged son to be greeting them as they entered, late of course because of Olivia's need to make sure everything was perfect. He was sober for once, though not by choice. He eyed Michael as he spoke, brows nearly together in a frown. Still just a captain of the guard when he could have been a knight. But he did look well, even if he couldn't smile at his family. When Michael escorted them out, Sebastian inclined his head to his son. He couldn't help murmuring. "You look well, Michael," as he passed. Knight or Captain, Michael was performing his duties well. And there was no point in lingering on could have been.

Olivia sniffed when she saw Michael, for all intents and purposes, ignoring him. She kept her nose in the air as she and Sebastian moved outdoors, though she did have to nod in his direction. Sebastian got a glare for the murmur even if she didn't hear what he said. But even she had to pause to stare at the way the rink and surrounding areas looked. Beautiful. She guided her husband toward the Master of Swan Lake after Michael pointed him out. The Lady they would be sure to meet later. "Lord Callihan, how gracious of you to invite us." She curtseyed before the man while her husband inclined his head in respect.

Neville was sneering as he entered the room. As he stepped up to Michael, he spoke in a normal tone of voice. Michael had selected this life. Let him suffer for it. "A doorman as well, Michael. How wonderful you're doing for yourself." He noted with satisfaction that Michael's hands clenched into fists as he stepped outside to join his parents in greeting the Lord and especially the Lady of Swan Lake.

Michael would give Arabella and Summer a wink as they passed, and a smile to Matthew. He relaxed some for now, knowing the worse could still happen once the party moved indoors.

Prudence's hair was done up in stylish hairdo. Gold was her choice of color accented with black lace. Had her life been different, she could easily have been beautiful but her sour disposition had her purse lips drawing in her cheeks looking much like a gorami fish instead. There were distraught lines between her brows that one might be tempted to draw their thumb over to see if they could be ease. Only tempted for she might bite. Bite she would too with words when she could. If she bothered. She didn't bother with Michael as they passed, not even looking his way even if she was aware he was indeed standing there. She didn't wish to be associated with a doorman as her brother would end up commenting. She trailed her mother, much like a dour shadow. In spite of her attitude she too was taken by surprise at the beauty that surrounded them once outside. An ice wonderland. Her hand touched upon her mother's arm but she said nothing, only that moment to share before it was dashed away. Dashed away because dark eyes settled on one Gillean Callihan that soon devoured him from head to toe. She was as proper as her mother as they were introduced. She dipped into a like curtsey, lowering her eyes for a moment before she was back up.

Arabella bounced where she stood, the long, thick curls practically 'boinging' with the action. That wink from Michael had her squealing with delight, her hands clapping in quick contact before her chin as she looked from him and hurried after the others with tiny steps much like a song sparrow as she darted forward. Tiny eyes, long nose, thin lips, she was everything but attractive and her wits left much to be desired as well. Was there any question as she fidgeted back and forth, foot to foot, as the introductions to Gillean Callihan were made. She brought up hands up, fiddling her fingers at her waist, then dancing aside to look past her family to the scene beyond. Oooooh. Soooo preeeetty.

This announcement happened to be one that Gill had been anticipating all evening. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips as the seven of them paused before them. "It was my sister who invited you, Lady Dewar. But welcome you are to Swan Lake. May you enjoy yourselves while in our home. Please." A sweep of hand indicated the whole of the party outdoors. "Enjoy yourselves." A dark brow twitched when he caught Prudence's gaze. A predator. Without a doubt. But in the wild, the strongest survived and ruled. She was a mere jackal to his wolf. Hyena to his lion. A smile, far from innocent, spread over his lips as he inclined his head once to her. Was she dangerous? Or was she daring a fate that would prove her as frail as any female before her? Slowly he looked from the woman to her siblings. Arabella. Shudder. Neville. Noted. Summer. Intrigued. Matthew. Interesting.

Unknown to the Lord and Lady of Swan Lake, one of their invited guests had not come forth to the party. She lingered in the treeline, the gentle, chilled breeze lifting and tossing the dark hair that flowed over her shoulders in thick waves. She wasn't one for gatherings, but in honor of the returning of Kildare, and of Swan Lake one of her favorite haunts, to its former glory, she bit back her trepidation and at least viewed the festivity from afar. Did they truly know the Lady upon which that invitation had been offered to? It had not made it to her for only the crown knew of her whereabouts even now that the witch had been vanquished. It was the way she desired it. It was granted to her. She smiled to herself since none others were about, noting those in attendance. Such a fine gathering. The hem of her gauze-like gown joined in the sway and lilt of the breeze and she laughed softly with the sight on the ice.. Then, she stepped back into the shadows of the winter evening. A thank you voiced as silent as that breeze for the invitation sent though not received. And she...was gone.

There was one who picked up on the mystery and started through the crowd, leaving his brother and Corina without a word. His brother would notice he disappeared, taking one of those unseen doors that brought him to where the One had been but she was already gone. The disappointment was clear on his features but it proved she was still about and he would surprise her next time. Had she lingered only a few moments longer, they could have danced under the moonlight with stars so clear above for the cold. One minute outside and the next minute he was back moving towards his brother again. Nothing said and nothing would be said at least here. His brother was about the only one who would notice and perhaps question him later on at a more appropriate time.

Adrian caught sight of Regan and started forward after concluding his greetings. It was then he realized she was pretty much occupied and so gestured with his hands where he'd be.. and that was over with Adam, his co-harbor master. A nod to Segan whom he recognized of course and the others as well before he was gone where he indicated.

It would be hard to tell with Prudence for she gave no indication through facial expression, she held his gaze however. That was until one moving past them caught her eye. The King no less and attention shifted immediately. She watched him but he disappeared all too quickly and the rest around were noted as she continued her perusal there.

Deirdre could blame her fair skin being red on the cold and not the embarrassment which seem to uncomfortably continue. The Kingsmen were as handsome as she heard. Luckily her sister came to the rescue and she was saved. Maybe? She curtsied to Segan, he too was handsome and one would think she'd become immune by now! "I'm pleased to finally meet you." She knew of him of course as well the Frasier captain. She heard a lot about them even more in that small tattoo office. "I wont keep you.." making her escape as she was off to get those skates off and get her red cheeks back to normal.

Vincent couldn't help the low chuckle as Jael got all tangled up in her own skirts. Strong hands soon gripped under her arms and hoisted her up and kept hold until she got her grounding. All seemed to be put aright and no one hurt in the slight mishap.

Diarine could easily be a fly on the wall as she had come back from skating and was taking in the social innuendos that were like shouts to her. From dark intents to light heads as she referred to them. This was better than the many books she read for it was real and anything could happen. Not as predictable as most writers.

If Dewar knew what Gill had been thinking .... he'd think exactly what he always did when it came to the Lord he served. And he had nearly stuck his tongue out at Prudence's back, but no, acting childish would not help things. At least Neville's comment had been mild and his father had him caught by surprise, though no one would know it. It seemed all the guests had arrived that were going to, so he relaxed for a moment, leaning against the wall where he could see but not be seen. A flask from his pocket was put in use too. A quick drink before they all started wandering in again.

Regan didn't want her sister to be so flustered, but she understood. Did she ever! "Adrien Frasier is here as well." Segan would know that Captain as well. "And might I say, you look dashing Captain Quinn?" What man here didn't tonight. Unlike Michael, Regan didn't restrain herself and stuck her tongue out at her two chortling brothers as she leaned back to give them a look. Hmph.

Sebastian would have been stealing that flask from his son had he seen it, speaking or not. But Olivia was simpering about how lovely everything was until, he felt her fingernails bore into his arms. Thank goodness for thick fur or he'd have marks. He looked where his wife was to see his ex-wife and his mother together. Blast it! Still there would have to be a greeting, at least to his mother, once his wife pried her fingers free.

Neville was over to greet them both. After all, there was still a chance both mother and grandmother would change their minds about who was heir, and Summer and Matthew were of course, on his heels.

And where was Simon during all this. He kept skating around some of the ladies after the accident was over. How could he not? It was too much fun to try to make them laugh.

Vadoma had come over after Vincent helped Jael and straightened the lady knight's skirts so she didn't have to work on that. She winked at Vincent before skating over to warm herself a bit.

"Thank you both." Jael spoke then laughed. "I think these blades have won the battle." For a moment, she wondered if anyone had seen she had britches on under her skirts but it didn't really matter.


Date: 04-02-12
Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 57

Dinner Is Served

Daniel took a step closer as Caiome spoke. Not yet into her private space, but teetering on the rim. "My father, yes, he passed in October." He lifted a hand to snuff any need on her part to comment on that. "I've been looking forward to this chance to meet you since receiving the invitation. I am more than pleased that you felt compelled to include Thornston. When I recognized you in town that night, I would have introduced myself then but..." He made a show of glancing around his shoulder to her brother then back to her. "But your chaperones made it all too much fun to just walk right up and announce myself. I do so hope you won't hold that against me."

Gillean watched from the distance half way between manor house and Caiome. He couldn't hear the conversation, but when the man looked back at him, Gill tensed even if not visibly. He took a few steps back, catching one of the guards by the cuff of a sleeve and growled something for only the two of them. The guard nodded, then left his current post to see to the Lord's request. Find Dewar. Get his ass out here. Simple enough.

Arabella had been forbidden to skate, but she hop-skipped in the snow around the edge of the rink until everyone began to file off of the slippery surface. "Is not so pretty? So pretty." She flounced on over to Corina's ladies. "You are all so pretty. So pretty." Oh! My! Look at the guards, all so handsome in their uniforms." She didn't even wait for a response, she was skittling with a swish of skirts in her hands off to the nearest man on duty. "Michael is my brother." She stood, swaying back and forth, still holding her skirts to swing them side to side. "Are you cold?" No need for a reply, off she danced again, and she'd be making a circuit unless one of her family members snatched her to a halt. Right to Leoric and Gaidan, she had already forgotten who they were. "I have a painted pony, with ribbons and bells in her mane." Smile, flutter of lashes, and fah-lah-lah-lah-lah, she was off again just humming to herself.

Thane watched as the woman flitted here, there and everywhere, moving through the snow as if she were on the green pastures of a field, not a slip in her step. God did protect fools and little children, did he not? He shook his head once she spoke to the King and Regent as if they were any two men just standing around and he started to chuckle softly. "Life can be oh so pleasant."

Coreen pressed a hand to her chest as the woman hopped from one subject to the next, looking to her sisters and tightening her lips so she didn't insult anyone if she let loose with the amusement she fought against.

Neassa leaned ever so slightly to nudge the Lady nearest her. "Why thank you, Miss..." But that was all she got out, the woman was off again. She searched the area for the ones with her, surely they would corral her before she wandered off into the woods, or through the house unattended, or who knew what, where, how. Goodness!

In spite of him lifting a hand, words came low and quickly, "I'm sorry for your loss.." anything else was left unsaid as Caiome even looked away. She didn't want him to see true sympathy in her eyes. She lost a father even if he wasn't dead. So there was a shred of sympathy for a man she didn't even know. She passed it off as a demure glance, lashes lowering and only back when any emotion was schooled to where it should be. How could she hold it against him? It was actually amusing in how both her brother and the Captain responded but certainly she was not going to let him know that either! She turned into the gracious hostess again, "then perhaps you'll save a dance for me when the time comes." Not waiting for a response as she deterred one of the passing servants to pass the word, it was time to go inside and eat. Dancing, drinking for some, even cards for a few small groups in alcoves would then commence to whatever the pleasure was. A small smile his way over her shoulder would be hard to discern to what was behind it. Brief. Gone. She was on her way towards her brother and within.

Leo was wool gathering as some would call it. Not something unusual for the unusual man. Silver blue eyes had a distant quality to them but were back in that second as the Arabella butterfly landed for a few split seconds and was on her way. He was back fully from other thoughts or more a scrying in search but needed to let it go for now. It didn't phase him to be treated as anyone else in the child's eyes, for she was a child no matter her growing years. A glance his brother's way but then the announcement came to head back in. Not that the cold would get to him for his nature. He was hungry at this point so it was perfect timing. He would head in with his brother and sister in law along with her ladies.

Diarine was discreetly watching Gillean and Caiome. The man of interest at the moment hardly noted as just being one of those incidences that catapulted other incidences, actions and reactions. She almost missed the young woman but had on another level when Nessa bumped her and small laugh escaped. Not so much in the negative but the little one was of nature and something she appreciated. Hopefully her innocence would remain so.

"Ladies," came in a deeper tone as Vincent included the ladies in waiting as well Jael with that title. Being one of the king's men, he was ready to escort en mass as they all headed in. Once inside they would be shown where they were to sit. The King and all with him would be in a prestigious spot and first served.

Deirdre had recuperated from her earlier faux pas and slipped a smile Thane's way as she passed. Blue eyes bright and perhaps it was her way of an apology. It was quick so her siblings would not notice, demure enough but there was spunk in the tattoo artist. Her stomach growled, not that others could hear unless right next to her and it had her laughing as she slipped an arm within Regan's, words soft to flow, "how many Captains do you have?" Going with the idea of Captains having a woman in every port.. her sister might have more than one in a few ports too. How exciting!

Adrian was with Adam who would end up catching up with his siblings, so would he then too. He was one very hard to read but there was a pleasant enough expression in place for any and all whom he greeted or passed.

Segan's jaw was set as he fell in with the Callihans much like Adrian. There were some questions to arise but they would probably never be voiced nor answered. They were shaken off as he planned to have a good time. He was here after all and when didn't a Quinn made do of a situation in having fun?

Angel was about after having surveyed the whole of the guests and the enchanted world of ice she got to enjoy. She was back with the others and making note of certain ones and what they were up to as they headed in.

Michael wasn't really surprised when he received word that the Lord of the manor wished to see him. He had expected it a lot sooner. Squaring his shoulders, and keeping his expression as stoic as possible. He went straight to Gill even as the others were coming in, nodding pleasantly to a few. After talking to Gill, if one of his family didn't catch the butterfly, he'd guide her inside.

Olivia spoke sharply to Summer, sending her after Bella but before the young woman could stop her half-sister, Arabella was called to Lady Constance's side. Her grandmother had a soft spot in her heart for this grandchild and in spite of Olivia or Sebastian would do her best to keep Bella with her.

Neville wasn't the least bothered by Daniel Reminngton's attentions to Caiome. He intended to secure at least one dance with the Lady of Swan Manor. And of course, there were the ladies in waiting as well. He'd make the best of the opportunity even if it was Caiome in his sights more than the others.

Vadoma joined the others as they left the ice. Her cheeks were pink and she was not above teasing the knights about their accident. She was certainly enjoying the night so far.

Regan laughed when she heard Deirdre and gave her a little nudge. "I know many Captains, little sister, and not all are as nice or as handsome as Segan and Adrien." She slid her arm through her younger sister's. "No more questions, now. You're here to have fun." She gave Deirdre a wink as they continued inside.

For some reason Jael felt as if she and the three knights were herding a flock of geese. Not because of the chattering or laughter. It just seemed to suit the situation.

Gaidan offered his arm to Corina as they headed inside. He didn't want her to slip. Maybe he was being a touch too solicitous but it was his right after all.

Daniel just smiled as Caiome started away, offering her an incline of head. "A dance, but oh the possibilities." He spoke to himself, his comment mixed with a soft chuckle. He took a moment to speak with the other houses which represented Kildare, then joined the masses as they entered back into the manor house.

Gill had been watching the interaction of Thornston and Swan Lake so he didn't even realize that Michael had arrived. He actually only realized it when he turned his gaze to watch the guests begin to enter for the meal. "Michael." It came almost as a bark of surprise, which definitely was obvious since he used the man's first name rather than his surname. He grit his teeth as his jaw tensed then sucked in a breath. "I don't care what you have to do, Dewar, but do attempt to keep Caiome's evening as uncomplicated as possible. That...Remmington." He dipped his head to the man as he passed just then to the interior with several of the other Lords of the land. By all appearances, just the cordial host speaking a moment with his Captain of the Guard about nothing of major importance. Gill flickered a glance to Michael as he started in himself, his words serious and low for the Captain even if none would even realize he spoke them. "Keep him the fuck away from Caiome."

Thane smiled to Deirdre as she passed, his smile as much a 'no harm, no foul' as hers was an apology. In fact, after she finished speaking with her sister, he broke from his group and slid up beside her. "If you don't mind, M'Lady, I'd very much like to prove to you that I can keep my feet in a dance far better than I can on the ice." A slight bow, that smile lingering, and he stepped back, letting the suggestion fall where it may as she continued with her kin and he swerved off to rejoin his ranks.

Prudence couldn't make up her mind. Gillean had a few in pursuit. The King would be reaching so high that even she knew it would be a waste of time for her. No matter how tempting. He seemed oblivious to his surroundings at times. Yes, she stood near her mother plotting her night. There was also the Duke of Montrose, another fine catch. Why limit her prowling? She almost smiled. Almost. Next they where heading in to eat. She would try to get her brother to help her out being she could not socially pull off asking the men to dance. So she sidled up next to Neville as they headed in and spoke on how it would be to his advantage if she married into position and money. Hopefully he was willing to plot along with her.

Color Deirdre surprised as Thane was of a sudden at her side. Pleasant surprise. "I will take up the challenge and keep from crashing into other couples.." such a smile to sweep before she was swept in with the rest of her family and off to their designated seating. She had heard her sister's words but she was going to get her alone and have a very long talk. About time being she was always gone and Dre always working! "Soon sister, you shall tell me the tales of the high seas!" She meant it too in a way she would track her sister down otherwise. On land or sea!

Vincent could nearly hear Jael's thoughts as he gave a wink her way. He would see to each seat needed of the ladies until they were all seated, then he would take a seat with his comrades.

Niall managed to come by Jael finally after making rounds in meeting others he had not met before. There were a few other Barons and Viscounts, ones that could influence the multitude of citizens under them. "I would appreciate if you save me one dance," not being sure which custom they followed here. If they had dance cards or one just went and dance. Dark eyes were hard to read but dip of his head was cordial as he left her to her duties.

Once everyone was seated, as she remained standing, she spoke up with her brother at her side. "I am very pleased and honored that you have come here tonight. It warms my heart that words cannot even being to touch. Many of you know each other or of each other and I hope this night proves a catalyst to future relations that will benefit the whole of Kildare. My brother will share a few words then we shall be led into grace by our Majesty King McLarkin." Which was best suited that the King be heard.

Michael's brows lifted at Gill's obvious surprise when he turned. Though the corner of his lip twitched, he kept that careful expression and listened to the noble's words. He inclined his head as each group passed, keeping his eyes on his own family but then he nodded slowly. "I'll do my best, m'Lord, not only to keep him away, but to not make it obvious." As if he didn't have enough to worry about seeing Prudence and Neville whispering. Once everyone was inside, he looked around for O'Brien who gave him a wave. He'd be heading indoors to keep a discreet eye on things.

Prudence was Neville's twin and he only wanted what was best for her. So, while they walked in, he listened and nodded. Perhaps they could use Michael to gain some advantage in all this but it would have to be worked on. He too, was interested in a few, including the Callihan women, except for the sea Captain. She scared him.

Jael gave Niall a warm smile as he approached. It had been a while since they had seen one another but that didn't lessen her pleasure at seeing him. "I will most definitely save you a dance, Niall." She didn't add that she had been practicing. She had declared that enough. And Vincent received a smile in return. He was probably thinking the same.

Regan would likely tell Deirdre the same thing as she had Caiome. Being a Captain had plenty of perks, but plenty of dangers as well. In the meantime, she was just going to enjoy her evening, and enjoy watching Gill squirm for having to deal with all these people. She was also enjoying seeing both Deirdre and Alannah blushing so much.

Simon would ask each lady for a dance, so none were left out. After all, that's what a knight was supposed to do?


Date: 04-03-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 58

Opening Dance

Gill stood down the table from Caiome, smiling in what could very well be mistaken as a pleased Lord of the Manor. He dipped his head briefly when she finished speaking then watched as the serving staff filled the glasses all around with a deep, red wine. He brought up his own glass. "To Kildare, and her continued growth. May those who rule Her, rule with wisdom and compassion." He tipped his glass toward the Royals. "And those who serve Her, serve with dedication without exception." He motioned to the others before taking a drink to seal the toast. Then he continued. "Once again, on behalf of Swan Lake, welcome all, and enjoy." He looked to Leoric so that they could begin their meal.

Leoric was not much of a speech giver, or more that he never needed to do much public speaking. He stood as the others naturally stood having been invited to say grace. "Bless this manor and all who have come this night. No matter what unseen higher entity you believe in or not, there is something to be said in sharing a meal with others. May indifferences be set aside as we all have chosen a new future here in Kildare. What was ruined has been renewed with each and every one of us in some small way or on a larger scale. Things take time and it is times like our Host and Hostess provided tonight that will help. In the future, when the Duchess has her child, we shall have another such celebration in the castle. I wish for all of you to see it." He paused with a smile that wandered a moment as did his gaze reach further than the windows beyond provided. It was brief before taking the moment to touch upon each and every face present. "Now let us enjoy this splendid meal before us." In the months ahead, lords and ladies would be contacted to meet with him to establish a better rapport. A slight movement of hand before he sat so they could all begin.

Caiome actually gave a sigh. Her brother speaking then the king, what could make it a better night than it was already? She caught herself when she realized that doing such exposed another side of her and covered it up with a slight dip of her head before taking her seat after the King sat. All the ladies would before the rest of the men. The servants were ready with the first course of fruit and a salad. There were various toppings for the latter. Wine would be flowing as well ales and other such drinks requested. One of the reasons this manor was named Swan Lake was for the lake with hundreds upon hundreds of swans. Tonight they would be served the delicacy of roasted swan instead of duckling. Small boiled potatoes, and a variety of vegetables. The orchestra would play various tunes in the background as the ice area would also be cleaned up from earlier and the lighting replenished in case anyone wished to come back out to skate or just take a walk. It was a romantic stroll.

Michael was expected to join in the meal so he allowed O'Brien to take over. Luckily he was seated with his mother and grandmother. As each course was served, he took a moment to look over the very elegant group of nobles who were quite impressed with the meal. The toast had been well done, the King's blessings received and the meal continued on. He kept an eye on a certain noble as well. Hopefully Caiome's dance card would keep her busy. All too soon, dessert would arrived and then, the dance would begin.

Conversation floated with ease throughout the meal, although it was rare that Gillean joined in with more than a nod of agreement or a few words to remain polite. Once dessert had been enjoyed and cleared, Gillean stood from his chair. "Caiome has been diligent in finding entertainment for all so I'll leave it to her to explain the possibilities and from there, if you would all be so kind as to share a few moments with us in the ballroom while His Majesty the King leads our Lovely Lady of the Lake in the opening dance." Gill turned to place his napkin on the chair, then glanced to Caiome with a smile he reserved for one and only one ... her.

Leoric had long finished his meal and even some of the dessert being one offered was Black Forest cake. When he rose, many rose and then reseated as he made his way over to where Caiome sat and offered his hand in ready to lead her onto the dance floor.

Gill was rewarded with her smile. That one and only smile special to him before the King arrived. She explained as she rose and put her hand in his, the various entertainments they provided, from game tables in the next room where the door was now open, to a few magicians that roamed. There was also a few Bards that would tell of tales pertinent to these lands in particular and of others far and distant. Some magical as well exotic. The first dance was a waltz and she moved as nimble as an elf no matter how nervous she was with not only the King of the lands but was exceptionally handsome. She would be blind not to notice. Which each of his steps she moved in unison, allowing the length of gown to flow with the music.

Leoric knew how to dance well for they were all taught by their mother and aunt. Her hand in his to guide but he found she was lithe on her feet and so it made it much easier to move with her. Around they went using the full of the ballroom floor as they passed their guests who had crowded around the circumference. This would continue until the end where Leo had it timed to end up near her brother and offer her hand to him. Usually the Host danced with the Hostess at some point and near the beginning was good.

Gillean stood as the music and dancers swirled through the room, and had it been any other than the King of Kildare, he may have moved forward to step in. Instead, he allowed his gaze to scan the room. The knights. The families of influence. Michael. Neville. Where was ....

"She is as graceful as she is beautiful."

The comment caused Swan Lake's lord to tightened his jaw and he cleared his throat in an attempt to not say the words that initially formed on his tongue. "That and more." He managed to grit free from between clenched teeth, shifting to face the Lord of Thornston. "Remmington, are you trying to bait me?"

Daniel smiled, an easy, life-is-good sort of uplift to his lips. He didn't change the object of his focus even though he was speaking with Gill. "By no means, Lord Callihan. I am merely commenting on what I'm sure everyone else is noticing as well."

Pressure release, Gill, dammit, before the evening is ruined because you friggin' don't like or trust this male next to you. Gillean rolled the shoulder furthest away from Daniel in an attempt to ease away the mounting anger. Why had the man decided to come and stand right next to Gill if he wasn't trying to ignite some sort of fire, especially with that toss of fueling words to the flame? "Caiome is dear to me." Gill admitted, and with that admission, perhaps in the tone, there was the undeniable warning.

Still watching the dancers, Daniel nodded. "Only a fool could not realize she is and always has been so, so well protected by all those who care for her. I dare say, she could be considered the straw to a certain camel's back, should any harm befall her."

Gill didn't move, although he realized in the back of his mind that the music was drawing near the last note. "I've never been known for subtlety, Thornston, so let me say this. Intrigue will be your death, so either make yourself clear or die a man of mystery. I'm not a simpering lass who finds a play on words amusing. I'll take any hint of a threat as an actual reason to retaliate. You see, I enjoy it. Retaliation. So, don't play with me. insure your longevity..." His words lowered in volume for the man alone incase any close were eavesdropping. "...don't play with Caiome."

Daniel slid a look Gill's way, his smile growing. "The music has stopped. Would you not wish to dance with your sister next?"

Although most of the guests spoke in lower tones and eyes upon the King of Kildare and Caiome, there was one that overheard enough of the two nobles talking. One that was reserved and rarely interfered but in this, Diarine stepped forward coming up by Gill's side. "Your sister and the King make a handsome pair, do you not think so?" Dark eyes upon those she spoke on before shifting with a slight turn to first touch upon Lord Thornston in a stoic expression then the slight smile as she focused on the one she spoke to, the Lord of Swan Lake. Nothing more said as she then lowered her eyes as she dipped a graceful curtsey, "your lordships," and with that she was melting back into the crowd. Her comment needed no answer and there was a multitude of subtleties beneath it.

After the meal ended and the dancing began, Michael escaped family to move closer to Remmington. He wasn't close enough to hear what was said, but he knew the Callihan Lord well enough to tell Gillean was fighting anger. He watched as one of the Ladies-in-Waiting moved in to speak but so far, nothing seemed out of order. From him, he looked up to watch as the King of Kildare approached with Caiome. She certainly looked beautiful, and had to be proud of the results so far.

Even as Diarine spoke, Daniel and Gill held each others' gaze. Finally, as the lady spoke to excuse herself, Gillean jerked his notice over to her, only to find her already on her way. Probably just as well, this wasn't a perfect opportunity for chit-chat. He watched her weave her way back through the observers of the previous dance and as partners paired off for the next one, he started for Caiome. As he did though, he commented one last time. "Glad we had this opportunity to get to know one another better." Gillean's gaze shifted just a little farther to Michael, then he turned and bowed before the King. "You two have definitely set the standard for the remainder of the evening, Your Majesty." He then accepted Caiome's hand. "Since I may not have another opportunity to dance with you, Mimi, will you allow me this chance?"

Daniel stood where he was, well aware that the Captain of the Guard had taken up where Gillean had left off. Which only had him smiling to himself all the more. Caiome Callihan was a prize, and one he was willing to risk more than just an 'interesting' discussion with her brother to obtain. When it all comes down, it is he who possesses the treasure in the end, who claims the victory.

Leoric smiled, one that reached silver blue eyes as Caiome's hand was placed within her brother's. "It was my pleasure, a most graceful and beautiful lady to share the first dance with." Leo was well aware of the undercurrents that surrounded all three men before him and also aware that the beauty he was handing over was essentially clueless to them. He had never involved himself in such way and wasn't about to here. Because he had enjoyed his time with the Lady Caiome, he would keep track on another level. Such things usually worked themselves out but he would be incline to step in to keep her from getting hurt. "Carry on.." with a slight dip of his head before he was heading back to see to a few more dances with the ladies in waiting. Diarine would be the first as she was heading that way as well.

Caiome could blame the flush upon her cheeks and the brightness of her eyes, athough that she would not be aware of, for the dance itself and the fact she had danced with the King. "Always, brother mine." Slight glance shifting to first Lord Thornston then Dewar as they had been standing near her brother and was natural to notice. Such was brief as full focus was back upon her brother leaving him to lead her in this next dance.

Remmington was given a thoughtful look. If only he could sic Prudence on him. That had him smiling as Caiome looked his way and he winked at her. As they danced away, Summer approached, asking for a dance from her handsome big brother. Laughing, he led her out onto the floor. And while he enjoyed dancing and was quite good at it, Remmington was still being watched.

Now it was time to get out on the floor and dance. Gaidan bowed to his lady love and offered his arm. This was a much safer form of entertainment though next winter, he would see that she got to skate, and maybe even go tobogganing.

Vadoma was out on the floor with one of the Lords of the realm. Piddleton, or Piddling or some such. It didn't matter really, as long as she had fun, and that her sisters were enjoying themselves as well. It had been too long! And the Kingsmen better watch out because she intended to approach them, if they didn't approach her.

Adam and Morg didn't waste time, though first they approached their sisters. Of course, Deirdre had a dance promised already but Morgan wanted to be sure to dance with each sister when there was a chance. Even the sea hellion.

Thane hadn't gotten all dressed up to sit on the sidelines, but since the King had taken Diarine out onto the dance floor, he approached Coreen with a bow and an offer of hand. Together they joined the others already en route through out the room.

Daniel didn't hide the look at Michael. That smile, a dip of head, then he looked through the room, marked his temporary target and crossed to her. "You are Captain Callihan..." Remmington glanced to her brothers and rippled out a deep laugh. "The female Captain Callihan, are you not?" He extended his palm to her. "Daniel Remmington, could I perhaps share just this one dance? I'm sure you will be otherwise entertained the remainder of the night." There was little Remmington missed and he was not with any doubt that she would find herself busy for the evening.

Gill dipped his head, whispering near his sister's ear as they danced. "You have done Swan Lake proud, Caiome." With the cant of head to speak those words, he also marked Remmington's location. As well as Michael's. And Neville's. And every other eligible bachelor in the room, especially since his sibling had made it clear she wished to look her best for every eligible bachelor in Kildare.

Arabella tip-toed in place, taking a step forward whenever a gentleman passed in front of her, then shuffling back that same distance when they didn't pause to ask her to dance. But then she'd get distracted with the twinkling lights that were laced on the trees inside, then to the dancers, but all the while, tippy-toeing in a stilted prance where she stood.


Date: 04-05-12
Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 59

Corina took her husband's hand and joined him on the dance floor for a very slow waltz. In time she could go back to doing the things that were more physical. This was a special moment for her and there was no one else while in Gaidan's arms. "My Snow Prince," came the low  words as they had met in another place during a magical night of winter much like this one.

Once the dance with Diarine was done, he asked Vadoma, then it would be the other ladies in waiting.. in turn. Leoric enjoyed the dancing but he remained aloft on another level as any real interest being initiated. There were reasons even he didn't understand. As skilled as he was, much like his brother Andrew, matters of the heart were a completely different matter and beyond his expertise.

Prudence had her eye on three at this point. Gillean, Daniel and James. She was giving Neville that look that her brother wiggle a dance for her with one of them to start. Her lips pursed even more that one could wonder if she had swallowed a sour ball.

Daniel was correct as in at least Segan wanting a dance with the Lady Captain. He didn't come all the way up here to this Ball without getting at least one with her. Although tonight was a bit of an eye opener that he would keep in mind and best it happened before any disillusions. Fanciful thoughts would not do and he should know better at this point in life!

Adrian was preoccupied in a discussion with Adam as well Morgan. Not one that went out of his way to dance, he would at some point if the opportunity presented itself. As each of them went dancing and Regan off with some other lord, he got Deirdre into a dance after her brother.

Angel wove her way through those on the outskirts looking upon the dancers. She was watching Gillean dance away with his sister. Too bad they were siblings for they made a fine pair. Odd thought but she would end up where they ended their dance and debate on how bold she could be .. or not. She was a lady in waiting and that limited her .. boldness.

Niall showed up near Jael as in quiet words he asked her to dance. She would find he was as stealth in dance as his namesake given over the years.

Vincent was about to ask Jael but Niall managed that step ahead of him so he took up a dance with Nessa if she would. He would in idle conversation ask her if she was related to the O'Brien of the guards here in Swan Lake.

It was James that caught up with the child woman, Arabella and took her into dance for as long as she could last, knowing she would be off to do something else and he'd deliver her back to where her grandmother sat watching.

Caiome's smile was of pure joy that was not covered up for her brother. The slight tip of her head his way for his compliment, probably would not go unnoticed in that unguarded moment. "As does the Host do his sister proud." Moving in step as those standing watching were only a blur to her. She was on Cloud Nine for the Ball coming off better than she could ever have expected. She did it for him, she did it for her, she did it for the whole of their part being in Kildare.

Excusing himself from the conversation with Charles Ackerman, Joseph offered his hand to Marina to lead her out onto the dance floor. It was a big part of the night especially for the ladies but certainly he enjoyed dancing.

Michael Cunningham offered his hand to Brigid when the music began. He spoke quietly to her as they danced, but always his attention was on her. Somehow he managed not to bump any of the other couples, aware of where they were, in spite of that focus. She was always beautiful, always graceful and tonight, exceptionally so.

"My snow angel." Gaidan answered, with a soft murmur. He knew where Leoric was without looking for that connection between them. And there was tension but he wouldn't allow it to bother him, nor would he interfere unless there was truly a need.

Vadoma was flattered that Leoric had asked her. Though she would never admit it, she often watched him when they were with Corina and he was there. But then again, the others did the same she was sure, and he would dance with them all. But for a few moments, she could enjoy his company alone.

Neville asked some nobody to dance just so he would at least seem interested in others. However, he was not unaware of his twin sister and would certainly do his best to have her dance with one of the more eligible bachelors. If only she would smile!

Regan didn't know Daniel but she smiled and accepted his offer to dance. She hadn't caught any of the interaction between her cousin and the man either. He was a very good dancing as well as good looking. Not knowing how Gillean felt about the man, she might even encourage him to dance with her lovely cousin! Then again, she might anyway.

Jael was pleased when Niall asked her to dance. It had been so long since they had spoken. "I would be delighted." She could show off a bit. And of course, their conversation would include catching up.

Dewar enjoyed dancing with Summer, but when the dance finished, he made his way over to Gillean and Caiome. "If you will, my Lady, I believe I'm to dance with you." He caught Gill's eye for just a moment then looked back to see if she'd accept. "I've been looking forward to it." He'd step in again should Daniel try to monopolize Caiome's time.

Delighted. No doubt about it. When the Duke asked Arabella to dance, she twittered out a sound of nothing less than utter and complete...delightment. And dance she did. For all of Arabella's flitty mannerisms, she could spin with the best of them, that was, until she stopped mid-dance to bend and scratch at her calf through the layers of her skirts. Then, oh look, the satin bow on her shoe was yellow, her favorite color, and so shimmery in the lights. She squatted right smack dab in the middle of the dance floor to untie and then retie the thing. Nice leg. Whose...her gaze followed that leg up, up and she stood still following with her gaze up. Oh! Hello. "Would you like to dance with me? Is that why you're here?" Flutter of lashes, lips disappearing with her smile and she held out her arms to begin. Until James delivered her once again to her grandmother's side.

Gill's grip tightened on Caiome when Michael stepped up to the next dance but really, the evening would be a long one, well into the morning hours, and there were many who would desire time on the dance floor with his sister. Better Dewar than...Gillean's gaze shot around the room to find Daniel leading Regan from the dance floor. Bloody hell. Who next? Deirdre? Alannah? He started in their direction to offer instead, just because, dammit. Just. Because. Except Jasper Collinswood eased in front of him. "If I might have a moment of your time tonight, Lord Callihan. Just to borrow your ear for a moment or two." Gill looked to the man, then over to his cousins, then back to the man. "I'm not my father, Collinswood." Jasper put up both hands, then lowered them to curl his fingers into the lapels of his waist coat. "Oh! No. No. Of course not." The man's head dipped slightly, finding and watching the Royals while he spoke in a hushed tone which Gillean may not have been able to pick up past the music if they had not been standing so close. "You are nothing like your father. Banished isn't he?" Up came his head and his eyes to Gillean. "A word or two, at your leisure." Gillean's gaze narrowed as he studied the man opposite him, then he spoke. "Not tonight." And Gillean slid his gaze around to find James, lingering a moment, then with a deep breath, returned his attention to one of Kildare's questionable nobles. "Probably not ever, but...definitely not tonight." Gill offered the man an incline of head, which received a slight bow and back step from Collinswood. "When you see fit, My Lord." The man replied, repeating Gill's action of searching out James before motioning for the Lord of Swan Lake to continue on his way. Gill hesitated a moment more, then set off toward his original destination.

Daniel thanked Regan for the dance and turned just in time to see Gill heading their way. Ah, it seemed the House of Callihan was indeed the whole of Montrose, not just Swan Lake. Easy, My Lord. T'was just a dance. And to make that clear, Daniel moved away to find his next dance partner. The night was young. Oh the appetizers until the sweetest of desserts

Gillean acknowledged his cousins with a forced smile, could they tell, and a nod but he continued on, offering his hand to the Lady Dewar. The original, Lady Dewar. He extended his arm with the request to Millicent. "M'Lady Dewar, would you do me the honors?"

For the most part, couples switched off, music flowed, dancers glided, conversation blended with the melodies. The knights, the Ladies, the royals, the nobles, all making the most of this evening that Caiome had planned so carefully and so successfully.

Segan caught himself standing there in all his Sea Captain splendor having purposely dressed to the hilt, while Regan danced away as it should be. He could hear his brothers' taunts already so instead of standing there he headed over to the group of ladies in waiting and asking one to dance. The dark haired one so in contrast to his blond fair looks. It turned out to be the Lady Coreen he'd find out and though he wasn't one of the sought out nobles she would do fine by a Sea Captain dressed the part.

James was unaware of any looks his way for his focus was on the young lady whose mind was never quite there. His stance would hide some of her, or any ankle or calf seen for her squatting on the floor but he didn't make matters worse while she retied the bow. His patience was unquestionable. A hand ready for when she was done and helped her to her feet then bringing her to her grandmother and leaving her in her care. Now for a real dance which had him around and approaching Lady Vadoma, one he knew from sight being the Duke of Montrose and to Kildare castle quite often. "If you would do me the honor.." Perhaps like Caiome, James saw a different side to Gillean and willing to take that chance he was right instead of being taken asunder like his father had been to Gill's father. Time would prove him right or wrong but James would be prepared unlike his father had been.

The night was just beginning for Caiome. Certainly on that kind of high would keep her going until every last soul left this night. "Captain Dewar, I would be delighted," taking his hand in hers with a wink to her brother in the hope to ease that tension resting between his brows in a way she recognized. This was Dewar.. he should not worry. Right? Off she went to find out how good he took to his dancing lessons that had been requested.

Faelan had remained much in the background as possible and after dinner he took to the game tables until propriety got to him and the fact his cards were not falling as good as he would wish. He was out to the dance floor in search of one to dance with so nothing could be said. Lady Neassa was asked to dance.

Thane would find that Deirdre ended up standing near him. "So I have seen you are well balanced on the dance floor." So far she had not danced but figured one of her brothers would be around to her eventually.

Once the dance with Vadoma ended and she asked by another, Leo took to the side table of various libations in respite.

Prudence was getting impatient. It showed in her stance. It showed in the crossing of her arms over her waist and in the slight tapping of her foot under those skirts against the spotless floor. The sour look grew the more her brother procrastinated in getting her a dance partner, one of the three. At this point she didn't care which one she started with.

Diarine enjoyed her dance with the King but she was just as content to gain her usual position in watch along the sides. She was one that could as easily watch as she could participate and not complain either way. She had no designs on any of the males but found the whole social undercurrents amusing to a point. Including those of her sisters that thrived on who danced with who and who they might end up with. She had noticed the noble that waylaid the Lord of Swan Lakes. He had become a point of interest to her but not of the usual a lady's point of interest held. She looked like she might make yet another move.

Alannah Callihan was quiet for such affairs. Well, this was her first since long long ago. She was far more comfortable between the pages of a book or a stroll in nature on a warm summer's day. Daydreams were far safer than reality, far more daring and colorful until the real life proved different. So far it had not, but she was enjoying herself nonetheless.

Adrian had not danced at all but filled the time with the rumble of deep laughter in conversations picked up with a few. He happened to notice Regan was free and so excused himself to approach in offer of a dance.

Niall was pleased he managed to get a dance with her and would hog her as long as he could. If she liked he would come to see her, spend some time in a more relaxed atmosphere to catch up. He would never push the issue. Preferring it a mutual desire.


Date: 04-07-12
Poster: Caiome Callihan
Post # 60

Caiome would be surprised because Dewar actually did well on the dance floor. He had lessons as a youth, and in spite of his saying otherwise, he never stepped on her toes. He wouldn't step on anyone's toes. That had been an easy way to avoid any balls elsewhere. "Are you enjoying your night, Lady Caiome." He spoke over the music but not so loud everyone could hear.

Cian MacKinlay had been hanging back from the crowd but when he saw Summer after her dance with her brother, he went to her and asked.

Michael's youngest brother, Matthew, wasn't afraid to ask, even if he was young. And he didn't care if they were minor nobles, or important ones. He was enjoying himself immensely.

Partners switched off, the music continued, and the dance floor was awash with swirling skirts and flowing movements. There were none, it would appear, who were not enjoying their evening immensely. Certain men kept their eyes on certain targets but for the most part, the atmosphere in the room was light and festive. From the Lady Dewar to Summer to Arabella, Gill even asked the Grand Dame of the Dewars, although she declined with a smile and her deepest gratitude. Not once, during those many dances from the Ladies of Kildare's court to the female knight did he see Daniel approach Caiome for her dance. Bloody bastard, he was waiting until last. Gill even managed to slip a dance in with Olivia, although he thought for sure Prudence was stepping up to accept instead. Was he putting off that moment? Would the night's music run out before he had to extend his hand to her? A man could only use the best strategy he had. When Olivia was delivered back to her husband, Gill lowered his gaze, then brought it up slowly to meet Prudence's. "Could I have this turn around the room, M'Lady?" And as it was asked, he looked beyond her to mark Michael's location...and Daniel's, but more importantly, Caiome's vicinity in comparison to the two.

Not unlike all of the men and women tonight, Daniel changed off partners, and only missed a single dance when he excused himself to enjoy the refreshments offered by the host and hostess. He kept his conversations polite, the weather, the decor of the party, the excellence of the dancers present tonight. So very cordial, so very ... boring. Perhaps not for his partners but for himself. He could practically hear the sands in the hour glass shifting through that narrow neck and pinging on the grains piling up below.

Caiome moved gracefully with every step as Michael led. Eyes were upon him with her head held slightly dipped back. "I knew you had such hidden talent," teasing him with a wink, "you dance as handsome as you look tonight. You are turning many a pretty head." Although she didn't look past him she was well aware of the ladies watching them move around the dance floor. She figured he probably had not noticed but drawing attention to it would have him look naturally. Would it cause a misstep? She was devious like that! "I am very much enjoying my night.." but she didn't add anything more, only the smile.

Cian may well get a surprise when he found Diarine in his path that he might actually ask her to dance. Perhaps of the males here, she instinctively felt he was a safe one to dance with.

So her sisters could not say a word, since they all were dancing, Alannah would intercept her cousin Gill once he was finished dancing with the dour face woman.

Prudence near fainted but astonishing was the fact the sour face disappeared in that instance Gill asked her to dance. She wanted to make a face at Neville for she had gotten no help from him. "I would love to," sounding out of breath in a whispery tone. She latched on to his hand as he looked beyond so that he didn't change his mind. He would find she was trained in the art of dancing although not quite as good as others. Not quite as natural.

If one were a bird to fly above the manor they would hear laughter and music, lights dancing off the white of snow that glowed under a full moon in a clear sky. A monumental moment for those enjoying themselves below. If one were to soar north over snow covered hill and dale as the silence of the night came to prevailed, they would eventually come to the most northern outpost of the manor with guards stationed fending off the chill of the night over a small fire. Each were taking turns keeping the watch. Shadows moved through the pines and brush inch by inch before the watchman was struck by rock. It glanced off his helmet but he gave the call having the rest of the guards rush to his position. The bowmen took position on the rampart of the outpost walls while Joey, their runner was sent post haste to the Manor. It was in near an hour's time that he caught up with Jacob O'Brien and told him of the conflict. Although it was not an outright battle, he was to report anything out of the ordinary. O'Brien hated to disturb Michael during this particular Ball but he made his way inside, just under the archway to the hall. It was not out of the ordinary that he had come within but the look was one that Dewar would recognize without him causing a scene or worse, a panic, by approaching his superior and friend.

Neville did head toward Daniel to speak to him. So Prudence didn't complain the whole way home. He cleared his throat as the man returned to from the dance floor. "Excuse me, my Lord, may I have a word?"

Michael saw O'Brien but first he finished the dance with Caiome. It was nearly over in any case so the Sergeant wouldn't be waiting long. When it was over, the Captain guided her to the side and smiled "I'm a man with many talents, m'Lady, but then most men have secrets they keep. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. If I have another chance, I would like to dance with you again." Then as another man approached, he bowed and moved away, toward O'Brien.

Cian smiled at Diarine and of course he asked her to dance. He wasn't shy just a quiet young man, but he would never pass up a chance to dance with a lovely lady. She would also find he was a good conversationalist.

Regan smiled brightly when Adrien asked her dance. "Of course, Captain. I have to say, I'm glad you came." And she was glad to see him and Segan. On the dance floor, Regan's moved as easily as she did on a ship. Not a misstep, or a trip as she flowed gracefully over the floor. She was enjoying herself, but she would be glad to be back on the Dream when this was all over.

There would be none more eager for Regan's return to the Dream than the Lord of Swan Lake. The sooner the female Cousin-of-a'captain set sail to far off places, the safer his sister would be from being hauled into the dangers that accompanied the profession. As the dance finished with Prudence, he bowed to her slightly, flexing and releasing the hand she had gripped so tightly the dang thing was tingling now, and thanked her with "My sincere gratitude, M'Lady, for enduring my clumsy efforts with your elegant grace." O'Brien's entrance into the ballroom had already been noted by Gill and while he started a back step from Prudence, he squinted his gaze toward the two guards in the hopes he might catch a word or two by the motion of their lips alone since he was too far away to hear. Back off, Callihan, surely the men have everything under control. Is it not why he paid them their salaries each month? Still, though he slanted a look back to his former dance partner with a brief dip of head, he started in their direction.

Daniel was heading to one of the LiW but when Neville stepped between him and his goal, he paused. "But of course, Lord Dewar." Daniel offered his hand to the man opposite him. Remmington's current 'matters' of state, so to speak, kept him very much aware of everyone who .... matters. . And while Neville had not yet taken over the title of his father, time would pass and sires along with it. "Daniel Remmington."

Caiome smiled, "of course Captain Dewar." Not really taking the notion to heart that there would be another dance in reality. It was a polite response to the end of the dance. She was well aware of O'Brien under the archway and the fact the dance had not been quite over. It was Lord Hastings that had taken advantage, or attempted to, of Michael leaving his dance partner. Cai plead that she was taking a break and needed a drink. Lord Hastings was not easily put off as he towered over her, insisting he accompany her to the refreshment table then. He would start in a direction of one table but she managed to at least maneuver him to the one that was near where Michael met up with O'Brien. With a glass of champagne in hand she ended up in idle talk with the Lord but her hearing was not trained on him but what she could of Michael and Jacob.

Diarine was off in dance with Cian with a winsome smile taking place. At least he was one much taller than her than some of the unknown Lords (and she would keep it way) that had asked. Some she did, some she easily avoided.

Adrian was very much enjoying his dance with Regan. For a change he actually kept the conversation from that of ships, sailing and the many adventures one could have on the high seas. He knew of a few places that few knew. Another time perhaps as he was sure their paths would continue to cross although maybe not so long in between.

As the music wound down for the present dance, Segan was over to intercept Regan for the next. From one Captain to another she would be turned and she would find he was very good on the dance floor. Celyn had made sure that all her boys knew how to dance that if they ever ended up at a Ball they would do her proud.

Adrian released Regan into Segan's hand with a slight bow of his head and a quick wink to Regan before he was off. He'd find Morgan and Adam again to continue their conversation or start up a new one.

Prudence's heart was in a flutter, her cheeks flushed and for once she actually looked alive than a dried up prune imitating a gorami fish. That hold should have been Gillean's warning of things to come. The dance ended far too soon even if she seemed out of breath. It was not from the dance. Oh, there might even be rumors to follow! "It was a pleasure Lord Callihan. I hope there will be other.. " catching her breath, "pleasures." Perhaps referring to their dance that there might come a time they would dance again, or something more. Her flutter of lashes was more distracting than erotic for one not use to flirting but she attempted a hand at being seductive. When He looked back, he'd see her fanning herself and a coy smile that looked like she had swallowed her tongue instead.

Jacob shifted from foot to foot as he waited for Michael. There would be no hurry or that would give off concern in a disrupting way. In those few minutes, he noticed all the various couples on the dance floor. Many prominent families he knew and some he only knew about. Now he had faces to some of them. He had well marked who everyone was upon their arrival. Something of a pastime for him. As soon as Michael approached, he lifted his chin some as he was well aware of those within earshot. "A word Captain," stepping back out into the hallway just beyond the ballroom. Voice was lowered as he kept track of those around them. "Our runner Joey stationed at the northern outpost came in post haste." Words falling away to silence as a small group of guests came through the hall that had been outside enjoying the rink again. They were laughing on how cold they had gotten and warming up as they all but rushed by. Once they were on their way he began again. "There is a skirmish, lads out under the cover of tree and wood throwing some rocks so far." There was a pause as he usually didn't add his thoughts unless asked but this was his friend from forever. "I think they are from the Mullen mountain clans. We await your orders." Now the Mullen highland, or mountain, clan were of a good size family that no one had an exact count of yet. They were situated to the far north of Kildare above where Swan Lake Estates sat. There was not a whole lot know about them other than if some of them came down from those mountains, they usually caused trouble. Some fights had been to the death. No one ventured up there into those mountains for they were a death's wish for most who were not accustomed to mountain hiking and the kind of wild life that lived up there. It was also the location of some of the otherworldly stuff that went on in previous years of Kildare's history.

Regan was laughing as she was switched from one Captain to another. She curtseyed to Segan, then once they were out on the dance floor, she tipped her head to study him. "You look quite dashing tonight, Segan." The comment was sincerely meant. She took note of Jacob O'Brien and saw Michael heading for him but this was an affair for them to deal with, not for her to go over and butt in. Of course, James might and then she'd learn what happened.

"A pleasure to meet you, Lord Remmington. I'm sorry to be so forward, but would you please treat my sister to a dance. She's been in mourning and well, it's hard coming back into society." Gads! He was trying not to sound like a twittering idiot but well, he did.

Michael had meant what he said to Caiome but it might not happen. "Of course, Sergeant." He nodded to the nobles who passed then returned his attention fully to his friend. "Do you have an idea if it's a large group?" Gillean was making his way toward them and he held up a hand for Jacob to wait until the Callihan Lord had joined them. Once Gill was there, Dewar quickly filled him in and motioned for Jacob to continue.

And didn't they make for a foreboding group, the Lord of Swan Lake, the Captain of the Guard and the guard newly arrived from outdoors? Gillean didn't say anything once briefed to O'Brien, just waited to hear the answer to Michael's question. Caiome's nearness caused Gill to clear his throat but since Lord Hastings practically poured his presence over the top of her, what could he do? It was dance with the man or remain near. By the look on his sister's face, Gill knew the only answer to that. Because of the possibility of being overheard, Gillean re-evaluated his previous decision to remain silent in lieu of ... "Take this outside, Dewar, until you've got some answers for me. And if this involves all of Montrose and not just Swan Lake, we will need bring James into the discussion." He turned, as if to leave, but then looked back to Dewar. "Get me answers, Dewar, mere boys with rocks had better not disrupt Caiome's fun." His head dipped as one brow lifted. End. Of. Discussion. Then Gill turned to Caiome and Hastings. "Lord Hastings, have you been introduced to the Dewars? Their family is not as steeped in Kildare history as your own, but surely, you will find the Lady Prudence a delightful dance partner." Gill's hand clamped down on the back of the man's upper arm and he 'escorted' him around the periphery of the dancers toward Prudence et al. He had smiled to his sister, twitched off the faintest of winks to her, without any other than Caiome ever bearing witness.

Daniel glanced to the woman of whom he and Neville spoke and, for all his upbringing, it took everything within him not to visibly cringe. She may be the epitome of femininity, but from all appearances...well...hmmm. She wasn't Caiome in comeliness or lineage. Movement along the edge of the dancers caught his gaze and he smiled, returning his attention to heir of the Dewars. "I would surely do so, however, it looks as if your sister's launch from widowed cocoon to social butterfly is well on the way." And with Callihan delivering Hastings...that left Caiome... alone. "Perhaps next turn around the room, My Lord. I wouldn't wish to step in where I am not needed, and it does seem that the Hostess of this affair is pitifully without a dance partner. Something that should never be and I should see to remedying immediately. Do excuse me." Daniel dipped his shoulders to Neville and started straight away to Caiome, not even waiting for the man's reply if any. Up he came, right at her side. "Lady Caiome, I had hoped to share the last dance with you, but I couldn't bear to see you standing idle when such inviting music fills the air. Would you honor me with this dance? And perhaps, allow me to be greedy and ask to be granted your final one as well?"

Regan got a full smile from Segan as he turned her about the dance floor. "Thank you for the compliment but I will be bold in saying how ravishing beautiful you look tonight. I am pleased to be here just to see you thus. You are as accomplished on one side of the coin as you are on the other." The music was perfect that their steps were matched to as he guided her amongst the other couples. He made note where she made note and if needed he would be at their service along with his ship and crew. Still, in the meantime, he was very much enjoying this dance.

O'Brien kept moving them further away from the Ball as Gillean returned to the room and in doing so, had a breath released in relief. "I have sent Mark back to the post and he should be returning again soon with an update." He would not wear out Joey but take turns with their runners. "From what they could determine it is about a dozen or so. Hard to count as they are well versed in keeping to the shadows. I do not like making presumptions, Sir," as he was all business now with no fooling around like they usually did. He waited for Dewar to decide what he wanted done. Their men there, ten without counting the runner, would not move from the post and fight if needed there. They had stone walls between them and any conflict but if it were an army of men, they could be overrun easily enough depending on the size. Jacob awaited any orders.

Prudence at first thought Gillean was coming back to dance with her until she realized he had a man in tow and with that sour look to return it would be him that she would be dancing with. She would do it for Gillean but her attention would be forever more on where that man was and what occupied his time.

Lord Hastings wanted to object but this was the Lord of Swan lakes that was practically dragging him to dance with some unknown. "But.." came out at first as he didn't want to leave Caiome's presence no matter but gave in as the polite thing to do, do what the Lord of the Manor wished. He would dance with this Prudence even if he felt his stomach tightening into a knot. Hopefully the dance would be quick and he would not be obligated to entertain her any longer than that.

James had enjoyed not one, not two, but three dances so far with Vadoma. It had been a long time and she was not only easy on the eyes but easy to talk to. He also knew he would be avoiding the man hunters which he had already spotted more than one or two of. Lady Vadoma didn't seem to be minding his attention either and if she showed any signs she'd rather be dancing with someone else, he would deliver her to the next. That didn't come about as he too noticed the little situation near the archway. For most it would go unnoticed but he delivered her back to her charge, the Duchess of Kildare, and excused himself to see to a matter but asked if he might share another dance before the night was out. She would know there was another reason as he passed Gillean with a certain look and headed out into the hall. Once arriving there he caught sight of the two taking the talk outdoors. He followed arriving just in time as O'Brien told Dewar of the few in disturbance.

Murphy's Law.......

It was probably a good thing that Vadoma was delivered back to Corina for as she stood after sitting a while for an odd pain in her back, her water broke. Luckily it was concealed by her gown but there was a hushed rush about with her ladies and Gaidan right there, to get hold of a few servants and clean it all up, getting her up to a room for this child was not going to wait for them to get back to the castle. Gaidan might notice, but with no surprise, Leo was not about.

Caiome gave Gill a wink, her brother knowing her far too well as he guided the Lord Hastings away. All the more intense trying to hear not knowing Dewar and O'Brien were moving further way, out of sight and sound. She was actually leaning without realizing it when Daniel came upon her. Startled, she turned so fast her glass of champagne splashed over the front of him. Luckily it didn't fully spill but it had her wide-eyed both of greens sparkling. "Oh my," a hand coming to touch upon bare skin of her chest for the dip of her gown. Stylish but also revealing even if she looked good in it. Not too busty but certainly not undersized either. "D.. " almost saying his given name but quickly regaining her composure. "Lord Thornston," so very formal. Her brother delivered her out of one situation but now she was with Daniel in the Lion's den. "I would be delighted to dance with you but I cannot promise the last." That one might well be taken by her brother. She wasn't sure at this point for something was possibly amiss.


The small group of ruffians, for that is what they seemed to be, ceased in their barrage for about twenty minutes before it started up in heavier doses. The guards kept their post, there was roughly twelve that they could figure moving out in the underbrush and thickness of pine trees. Even the moonlight couldn't penetrate in most spots and left shadows in others. A few rocks came close but that seemed to be all they were delivering. Although one of the guards shouted for them to cease, there were no retorts returned to give them any idea of who they were for certain or their reason.

Although Leoric seemed distracted to his own thoughts, it often was something much more and so he had found a quiet place outside to listen. He would not be seen by anyone for he was cloaked at this point and not by any material.


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