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Clan of the Bear

Date: 06-07-11
Poster: Patwin
Post # 41

A swarm of bees once its hive has been disturbed.

That’s how the ranch appeared to Patwin as he made his way through the front gates and down the wide, tree-lined drive. Activity buzzed in every direction. Men racing here. Women running there. Horses pranced in an uneasy pace within their fenced in yards. Dogs barked and darted in and out. The chickens that roamed free squawked and flapped out of the way of the bustle.

All that seemed to intensify when the Indian on horseback was spotted.

Patwin guided the horse to a stop, not proceeding further. Shouts and shots were added to the mix but neither one traveled far enough to cause the Indian brave any concern. In fact, he just sat tall where he had paused, watching the frantic reaction to his possible arrival.

This is where Allyson Byrd found him. Still mounted on the horse he had stolen. He had not returned it to Lord Frederick after all. Patwin heard the approach of horse but didn’t turn to look to see who it was. He could tell there was only one rider and the faint scent of rosewater and female drifted to him. He did not need to shift his attention to know who it was that rode up alongside him.

“You did not deliver the horse.”

Patwin’s lips twitched, but he didn’t smile. “Perhaps I did, perhaps I have stolen yet another.”

The woman’s laughter was soft. “By the looks of my ranch, it would seem you very well could have. Look at them running about. And yet, here you still sit, upon one of my horses!”

“And here you are beside me, and yet all they do is run about, and do not come to your aide.”

The woman nudged her horse forward so that it circled the Indian brave, facing in the opposite direction down the lane. The two of them studied each other and for a moment or two neither one of them said anything.

Allyson broke the silence between them. “I have spoken with Captain Eli. He will investigate the matter. I owe you a great deal….and I don’t even know your name.”


The lady smiled with a nod. “I owe you a great deal, Patwin. How can I ever repay you? I have invited the captain and his men over for dinner. Will you join us?”

"Where is this Captain Eli?" Patwin asked, turning where he sat on his horse to look behind him, then back to her. "I thought you said they would escort you home."

Allyson smiled to him. "Oh, I assured them I was safe enough this close to home once we reached the crossroads. And made it clear that they would need to clean up before joining me for dinner and I hurried them along on their way. So? Will you also be joining us?"

“No.” Patwin began, leaning forward and stroking the horse’s neck. “A meal isn’t what I have in mind for repayment.” He canted his head to look over at her. “I’ll take the horse. You would have lost it anyway had I returned it to that man.”

Allyson’s brows raised with surprise, but she laughed. “The horse? That is payment indeed! Do you have any idea how much one of my horses sells for?”

Patwin didn’t appear to have noticed that he had asked for more than he might deserve. In fact, he added to it. “I’ll take the horse…and I’ll take four more with it.”

Allyson was shaking her head even before she began to speak. “You have got to be kidding me, Patwin. That is outrageous. The one horse you can have. You deserve that much, I will admit. But five? No.” She continued to shake her head, giving her reins a tug to start her horse away. “No, that’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard.”

Patwin snaked out a hand, catching her reins so that she couldn’t go further. “I will take the horses to Heathfield with me. Five horses. Find a way.”

The lady looked from the intensity of deep brown eyes, down to his hand that detained her, then back up to him. There her gaze rested for a long, drawn out period of time while the shouts and hubbub continued down the lane closer to the manor house.

“Here is the way of it, Patwin.” She started slowly, as if she still considered her own proposition even as she spoke it. “You keep the one horse, or you race my best rider for the five. If you lose, you walk away, on your own two feet. If you win, you ride this horse away and take with you the additional four. Win, ride. Lose…walk.”

The Indian brave had not been given many reasons to trust these past few weeks so it was his turn to study the woman. “You are agreeing to the five horses then?”

Allyson shrugged a slender shoulder. “Only if you win, Patwin.”

“Then you are agreeing to me taking five horses when I win.”

“If…if you win.” She corrected, tapping her heels to her horse’s middle to start away again. The Indian’s fingers slipped from the hold on her reins. She turned to look around her shoulder. “Come on…you’ll be safe enough with me. And if you wish to be gone by the time Captain Eli arrives with his men, we had better get started. Walking takes more time than riding.”

Patwin actually snorted out a laugh before he was riding along beside her.

Date: 06-25-11
Poster: Kuwan
Post # 42

Kuwan's Return

The island had come through the storm and what was left behind not a complete disaster. True, they had lost most of their wigwams and some of the crop. But the spirit of the Bear Clan was strong and they had been through far too much to be dragged down now. With help from the mainland, stores were replenished, and some put into the cave that had saved their lives, guarded by youngsters who kept away wild animals. The destroy crops were cleared out, replanted and they began the process of clearing out trees. They also kept an eye on the Others and helped where they were able until those from the mainland came to repair the manor. Yas found working hard in this way was a good way to keep his mind clear, keeping him from worry. And it gave him the opportunity to work with his brothers.

There were minor injuries to be dealt with along with the day to day needs of the people. Kali was one of those who surveyed the island for damage and was pleased to find many of the animals had survived as well. Those that had died were allowed to return to Mother Earth. She helped everywhere she could, especially the Elders, but her mind often drifted, worrying about Patwin, about Kuwan and preparing for another storm.

Delsey could be found here, there, everywhere but such was the way of the work to be done. So much work to be done. Unlike his compassionate sister, Delsey didn't worry over anyone, what would be would be, and none would be their's to decide, so as they struggled to reconstruct their lives, he sent up what prayers he could for safe passage. For those who now walked the spirit path ... and for those who may eventually find their way home. And that, was where his thoughts on such matters ended. At present, he worked at the shore, having repaired and baited the baskets, these had been placed back into the water and he squatted on the sand, weaving the mendings to a net.

Mat had done his spiritual ritual for his friends, for his tribe, for those healthy and those not. There was thanks and there was hope, there was a lot of work to be done and so he set to that task along with his brothers, his family. The elder tended to first then the younger before those of capable age were seen to as need dictated. This night he was set to the task of mending one of the wigwams that had suffered damage before he would be seeing to a few new ones that needed to be constructed after the debris was cleared away. Everyone had a task set to them as they were capable of doing. A few set to tasks that would be a new challenge.

Many moons had passed since Kuwan had left her departing note. There was much that happened in that time away that only showed in a shadow about her eyes. There too an emotion of dread and concern was set that had her abandoning her need to come back to those of heart. In that way she had never really parted. As far as she had gotten in her travels, word still had reached her ears about the Hurricane that hit lands far to the south that she recognized the name of immediately. Home. She found means to return, a bit thinner than when she had left. Haunted still perhaps but not in a way she had been when she departed. The ferry man, Dancing Bear, was pleased to see her as she was greeted and taken across to the island. Few words between them probably because of a slight distant feel that clung to her still. Dread and excitement mingled with fears as she came down the path that finally emerged into the open area that was their village. The wigwam she shared with Kali was gone along with many others that were damaged to varying degrees. She stood there holding a pack to her chest as she surveyed the area, looking for ones in particular.

Yas had finished chopping branches off a large tree and was taking a few moments to rest. He had borrowed a two man saw from his father's estate and would be needing help. Some of the wood could be sold to the lumber yard, and the money used to replace possessions. He looked out over the ocean and breathed in deeply. It still amazed him how nature could change so quickly. A normal storm turned into one of great fury over the vastness of the Great Water.

Kali looked up when she heard someone speak a name, one familiar and unexpected. She stood from where she had been seeing to one of her 'patients' and looked toward the edge of the camp. The figure she saw had her telling the woman she'd be back and then she was running to embrace her sister. "Kuwan!"

Delsey was down the shoreline from where the ferry landed. He had watched the progress and saw the two riding in. It wasn't until the woman stepped from the platform that he realized who it was. With a smile, and a nod of silent thanks for the answering of so many prayers sent up by those who cared about the woman, he started putting his work aside. It was time. Delsey had just topped the knoll of the path when he heard his sister exclaim. Past Kuwan he saw Kali running toward her.

"You sleep in the head, brother." Only words spoken as Mat was there to tug the other side of the saw being it needed another person. But that tug ended as he jerked up a look Kali's way then beyond as Kuwan was spotted then Delsey a distance back from her headed their way. "Kuwan is home." He too offered up a silent thank you for one prayer answer. Now there was one left and his hope remained that Patwin too would return safely. His hold abandoned as he started in that direction, giving time for Kali's greeting in progress.

Dark eyes shifted immediately spotting Kali coming towards her. A smile found her features chasing any shadows away for the moment. "You are well, the others?" Being she had no idea so was asked. Those particulars had not been known in the word that traveled around on the Hurricane. Her clothes were worn looking, mended by hand as best one could out on the road, but they were clean. She was clean. The pack was let go,  falling to the ground as she ran the last few steps to grab Kali into a hug. A good tight one as she buried her face against hair and shoulder. "I have missed you," meaning all in the way said, although she didn't see the brothers at this point yet.

"Is she?" He turned and looked toward the camp watching, showing little expression as he watched Kali greet her. "Well, then we should go greet her as well." He left the saw where it was and started walking. Neither fast nor slow, just a steady pace.

"We have missed you too and all have survived the storm though there is much to be done." She stopped and took a deep breath. "You left without a real goodbye and I still don't understand. I am glad you are back." She released her reluctantly and smiled. "We all are."

Indeed, several had placed aside their work and stood along the perimeter as Kali and Kuwan embraced. "We are that." Delsey spoke up from behind her, having walked up to the two women so that now he could place a hand on Kuwan's shoulder and turned her, pulling her close to his chest for his hug. "You have arrived at a good time, Little Sister. Kali can use the extra pair of healing hands." With his hands gripping her shoulders, he set her away, looking past her to the brothers he gave her a little spin to face in their direction.

Mat reached them as Yas did but stood aside as Delsey greeted. He only voiced to confirm it was his feelings too. "I am glad you have come home." He was watching her discreetly for there was something off that clung to her but not something he could readily discern. Time might bring it out, it was well held inside at the moment.

Her heart jumped in her throat for a split second as soon as Delsey's hand touched her shoulder from behind. Those in front would see her pale for that second and fear that she couldn't hide in her eyes. There and gone with recognition in that next split second as she was turned and hugged Delsey in kind. She buried her face against his chest as the pounding of her heart settled then turned from the embrace whit his spin to address them all. "I am sorry if I worried any of you. I could not explain and still cannot why I needed to go. Only that I did and now I am back." As much as saying whatever the reason she had found her solution. It came with a price perhaps but that was the way of life. Eyes turned more on Kali, "how can I help." As she was detaining them and that would not suit her for longer than needed.

Yas watched as each of the others hugged her then nodded. "It is over and you are home. I hope you plan to stay." He looked at the others around before speaking further. "Come and welcome Kuwan home. But there is work to be done. When night falls and we rest, we will celebrate. As best we can." He looked at Kuwan a moment longer before he turned on a heel and started back to the tree.

Kali watched Yas, biting her lip but she said nothing until he walked away. "There are injuries though we are lucky to not have any deaths. Much damage with clothes to be replaced, baskets, pottery. And the injured need their dressings changed. The Elders are very shaken by it all." She gave Kuwan a small smile. "Our wigwam is gone and has yet to be replaced but we have spread skins between trees for shelter." She was among those who would wait for the wigwams of those with children, now that the Elders' were taken care of.

Delsey looked from Yas to Kuwan back to Yas as the man walked away. So the man had stepped forward, whether he realized it or not, and spoke as a leader of his people. Waving the others closer with Yas' order, he weaved passed them to join the twin at the tree. Kuwan was swarmed for a moment, each person offering their welcome home with hugs and smiles to see her before returning to their chores. "There is hope for you yet, Yas." Delsey actually grinned as he looked over at Yas, continuing on to take up the far end of that saw, not knowing Mat had originally been back and forthing it with his brother.

If Kuwan had elusive shadows so did Mat as he watched the scene unfold. Not something easily put into words but he stepped up and hugged Kuwan too. A touch of his hand to her cheek and a wink instead of words. A passing look paused on Kali as he passed then leaving the two to each other as he would return to help saw the wood. He said nothing to his brother this time, not teasing him as he would usually.

She returned Mat's hug and well noticed that Yas did not offer the same although he said he was pleased she was back. A trailing glance followed him as she spoke up, quiet in tone that might be heard and might not, "we can celebrate another time." She didn't feel her return merit such especially after Yas' reaction. Not that she begrudged his reaction but it made something clear that had her speak up low to Kali. "He is angry with me." Not a question, a statement that didn't really need to be added to or why, something that was that was just so. She greeted everyone else in turn that greeted. Some with hugs some with only words she didn't know well. Once they receded she turned back to Kali, "I will help." She was more than ready to set herself to work rather than dwell on anything else, or punish herself. She made sure, however, to take up the pack she would put in a safe place before setting out to work.

Yas looked up at Delsey, a brow lifting. "I am no leader," he said firmly though yes, he knew he had just given an order like one. "Quit grinning like a fool and start sawing." He wouldn't look at either Delsey or Mat as the saw moved back and forth, his mind keeping on the rhythm.

"He is moody as always." Kali brushed it away and once Kuwan had put her pack away, she slipped her arm around Kuwan's waist. "It will be good to have extra hands.

"Yet." Delsey muttered to himself past the smile that remained, though he did stop grinning like a fool with Yas' next order to do so. He sawed until Mat stepped up, then as the handle moved away, then back, he stepped aside so the twin could grab hold and he was walking away to return to his previous chore when he paused for a moment. "It is a great leader who can put his emotions aside. It makes for a clear mind to make clear decisions. You just need to work on that great part, Yas, is all." He turned to look around his arm at Yas, a brow lifting to match his slight smile, then he turned and was once more on his way to the shore.

"You are leader," correcting his brother with a grin. He could argue all he wanted and he knew Mat was set to continue saying yes to his every no. He pulled hard on the saw only to push it back just as hard much like yes and no in emphasis.

Kuwan dipped her head with the lowering of lashes to brush against her cheeks as she slipped a glance upon Kali as she walked with her arm around her as well to their destination. Words were soft under her breath. "He is still angry at himself that Patwin has not returned." Certainly if Patwin had returned he would have been there to greet too. It probably wasn't too much her at all for leaving. "Yes, I am ready to work." They probably would not have any celebration this night for later they would find her curled up in the crock of a tree trunk fast asleep. No appetite this night and exhaustion claiming her when she slipped away to rest a moment.


Date: 07-18-11
Poster: Patwin
Post # 43

Patwin's Return

The days had been hot and humid with little relief in the form of rain. At the docks there was usually a breeze, unless you were traveling the alleys or stuck working in the warehouses. It helped to make the day more bearable, even when the sun was beating down fully. Yas had been helping to patrol the docks today, knowing a ship would be coming in from the colonies. He had worn the normal clothing of a brave of his tribe, amused at the reactions of most of those on the docks. Loincloth, leggings and no shirt, moccasins, feathers intertwined in a braid in his hair. All that was missing was paint. Now, as the sun began to sink, he made his way to his usual perch, ignoring the women who spoke to him for the most part, and definitely ignoring the men who would likely be looking for a fight.

The Willamena scraped along its bay, coming to a slow, swaying halt. People had already gathered at the gangplank, prepared for departure. Heathfield. A long journey had, at last, been completed and all aboard were ready to set their feet on the solid ground of these fair lands, even the sailors. Some of these waiting sea-travelers pointed, for quite the sight the Indian brave made there on his perch. One particular man followed the line of conversation and motion, and a smile actually touched upon weary features. Unlike the brave on land, the one traveling had taken on the attire of the masses. A white, linen shirt tied at the throat, doe colored pants made of the softest leather, his hair was pulled back in a knot at the nape of his neck. But...his feet...his feet were covered in the same as his crouching brother. Eyeing Yas, Patwin let out a loud, piercing, skin-curdling war cry that set quite a few people, on board the ship and on land, squealing with surprise or jumping to get away from such a sound, or further away from the man that shrieked for what they thought, was absolutely no reason!

He was watching the ship, again ignoring the pointing, having grown used to it and was fully prepared to once again be disappointed. But there came a war cry that had him jumping to his feet and answering. Some people not only jumped, but ran, thinking the braves were mad or perhaps on the warpath. Especially when Yas ran over and climbed one of the ropes that were holding the ship in place. As he came to the top, he stood on the rail and scanned the passengers, finally spotting the brother who had been lost for so long, recognizing him even in white man's clothing. His grin was wide as he ran over and nearly tackled Patwin in a bear hug. Then he stepped back studying him for a long moment. "Welcome back." All that needed to be said.

The people that didn't move out of the way when Patwin charged for the railing of the ship to follow Yas' direction, were either bumped, nudged...okay, shoved...out of the way. He watched his brother scale the rope until he could see him no longer, then turned to look up to where he thought he might emerge. He had missed it because the next thing he knew, there he was! He barely had time to brace his stance for the assault, and grunted out what breath he had been able to inhale with the contact. He pounded a hand in excitement to Yas' back then when the twin moved back, he just crossed his arms and allowed that study. Speaking only after Yas' comment. "It has been too long in coming. There were a few ... delays." One Indian brave, dark and threatening, was bad enough, now the people who weren't familiar with Heathfield's clan were making haste to depart since the actions and reactions from the men were unpredictable. "All...are well?" Yas was no dim-witted simpleton, he would know exactly
who 'all' started with.

Patwin looked better then Yas expected though he wasn't sure why he expected anything less. And there were no signs of his own ordeal. He nodded with the question, the smile returning. "All are well. And she never doubted for one minute that you would return. It has been long but you are here." He clapped a hand to Patwin's shoulder, "And ready to go to the island? We will have much to talk about." He paused then continued. "Delsey has also come back, Patwin." Back from the dead with much of his tale left untold.

Patwin had started to answer that he was very ready to return, but Yas added a bit of information that he would never have ever thought possible. Patwin, himself, had seen Delsey go down, touched his lifeless, soulless body. "As a man?" Did that sound strange? It didn't feel strange for Patwin to ask it.

Patwin's reaction made Yas grin again and he nodded. "As a man though some were certain he was a ghost come to haunt the island. He is ... different. But it is a good different. More thoughtful, and he gives good advice." He motioned toward the gangplank. "We go, unless you have possessions? The island will look different. There was a hurricane and it wiped out many of the trees but we lost no one only possessions." And they were things easily replaced.

Patwin still stared at Yas, as if Yas was Delsey, slowly shaking his head. If Yas said it, though, it must be true. Possessions? Ah! The motion of Patwin's head changed from the negative of disbelief to the positive of amusement. "I have a few things to bring back to the island, yes." Even as he spoke, there was commotion and activity that drew Patwin's gaze. The five spirited horses were being led to the decks to take the wide gangplank down. "Ah...and here they are." With a quick, amused look to Yas, he moved away, taking the reins of the two leading horses in his hands. "Care to help me see to my ... possessions, brother?"

His brother's reaction amused Yas though only Patwin would be able to tell. Well, had anyone remained around them other then the few sailors that had no choice. Patwin would see for himself soon enough. "I will explain as best I can while we.... " He paused to watch the horses then the grin returned. Count on Patwin to bring back a surprise. "They are magnificent. Of course I'll help and you can tell me how you managed to not only bring yourself back not looking none the worse for your ordeal, and with horses, unless you prefer to speak of it only once." He frowned before reaching for one of the set of reins. "I thought I had sent you to your death."

Patwin actually laughed, it was a pleasant enough sound, deep and heartfelt. Rare. But at Yas' comment there was no helping it. "It takes more than a few foolish young braves and a handful of white soldiers to manage that." One of the sailors saw to the final horses and they were led to the solid surface of ground. "And you did not send me anywhere, Brother, that I did not willingly go." Since the braves would not need saddles, Patwin jumped, swung and mounted the back of the closest horse, motioning for the sailor to bring him the reins of one of the beasts that man directed. Between Patwin and Yas, they could get the animals to the island. "You will help me get the beasts to the island then, yes? Or are you duty bound here?"

Adam knew that should Patwin return, Yas would be leaving to go to the island. "I will go but let me send word to Adam Callihan." He motioned over to a curious young lad and gave him the message, having him repeat it so everything was right. Adam had told him that he would see to word being sent to the twins' father who might well come to the island to see Patwin. since he thought well of the young brave. After the message was taken care of, he mounted the one whose reins he held then took the reins of the remaining horse. "Ready when you are, Brother. " Seeing the faces of Kali and the others was something Yas would not miss.

Date: 08-02-11
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 44

Long Time

Time wove onward through the days as temperatures dropped at night hinting on the season to come. There was still summer left, there was Indian summer to come during fall before winter laid a permanent claim. Things had settled after her return, settled into daily routines and the completion of their destroyed wigwam. There was still Patwin left to worry on and certainly it wore on both Kali and Yas. This day had the sun shining for a while, warmth offered under its rays until the clouds came. Clouds that soon covered the sky with rain falling in a steady drizzle. Many were taking cover as well she from the marketplace. She was soaked, trying to cover her head with a newspaper she had bought earlier. Running as the rain came heavier that one couldn't see far in front of them and only had her laughing as she neared the Thistle, knowing she could warm up, get dry and have a good meal before venturing back out to head to the island.

There was a man hurrying toward her in the opposite direction. His own arm lifted to cover his head, as inadequate as that gesture was, he kept his gaze lowered while he rushed through the rain toward the Thistle. He knew the way well enough. By the time they both arrived, they would be taking the steps in unison, which brought Conor's gaze from the walkway to the leather of footwear, then slowly up. "Kuwan." He breathed, a smile spreading while the water streamed over his features, hair plastered black to his head and face. "Good Lord, Lass, get you inside out of this mess." He hurried up, grabbing hold of the door and opening it for her while he shook the other arm free of excess water.

She was in her heavier leathers, tunic embroidered with beadwork that added a feminine touch to an otherwise a more feral look. Hair had been braided back at the sides to fit with the bulk left free flowing. She knew another was rushing, the form male caught from the corner of her eyes but the rain prevented identification at first. It was the voice that caught her as her step near faltered with the surprise. So long a time since she heard it last it had become part of a past she had run from. Not that he would know any of this or that running into him been shortly before she left, she probably would not have spoken to him at all. But, time heals and maybe best she had not run into him sooner. Whether her reasons were legitimate or not, in others' view, they were what they were. The drenched newspaper was lowered as she turned, dark eyes lifting as to ascertain the voice belonged to the face. It did. "Conor, it has been a long time." Voice was soft as she stood there a moment in place as he held the door. Luckily the basket she carried had a lid to keep the contents from getting too drenched. Possibly some.

While he held the door for her, his gaze completed a modest, but thorough scan of her. "Much too long, Goddess. Let's go in, and if you are in no rush to be somewhere else, perhaps we can catch up by a drying fire."

"I am in no rush other than seeking warmth and drying before the fire." Conversation was not awkward as she had thought it might be while she moved on in and straight for the hearth. A good fire burned as it seemed a few others within had come for the same reason. There was plenty of room there as she set the basket on the stone ledge that it might dry as well. "How is Great Mother and the others?" She was interested in their welfare.

Conor would not have felt any awkwardness with the Indian lass, he had no clue she had fled, but had just taken a much needed sabbatical. Or that he was involved in that need in any way. He remained standing until she claimed a chair, smiling over to her. "They are quite well, Kuwan. I'm sure they would enjoy a visit from you should you find any spare time to grant them. When did you return, Kuwan? I had not heard that you had come home." As interested as she may be regarding the Quinn household, he was more so interested in her own well being. And so, the conversation turned there.

He would be remaining to stand then as she would not sit with wet clothes on. She turned so her back benefited from the heat. "I am pleased to hear. I will visit soon then." There were still shadows that haunted her eyes, more evident at certain times than others. The mention of her being gone brought such unexpected before she was chasing them away mentally. "It was a quiet return." As quiet as her voice became speaking on it. "a few moons ago." She was quick then to change the subject, "we wait on Patwin to return and whole."

"It is the waiting and not knowing that is hardest." He nodded, drops of water releasing from the thick strands of dark hair to stream down his cheek. He peeled his coat away, spreading it out on the ample hearth to begin drying. As he bent, he cut a look up to her. "I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am to see you." He hesitated only a moment, but ... this was Conor. Impulsive actions and a Quinn man usually went hand in hand. He closed the space between them with a single step and took her up in a fond embrace, her wet body full against his dry-shirt covered chest, then popped a kiss to her rain soaked hair on the top of her head. "Damn, pleased is an understatement. I'm especially glad to see you, Woman. I've missed you. Had you not been Kuwan, I could have worried I scared you away...but..." He leaned back, the lass still in his arms but not too tight so that he could look down to her features. "You are Kuwan, the forest Goddess."

"It is very hard, not knowing that makes the waiting never ending." She watched him discreetly, every motion but when he closed the distance so quickly it took her by surprise. Eyes widened as she soaked in his words. She had not thought on anyone missing her. Not really. Maybe Kali but Kali had bigger things to worry on. "I missed you.." perhaps there was some hesitation but the words rang true. Hesitated for the unexpected and she had not reevaluated things. She could feel her bottom lip start to quiver so she hid it with a hug back, nestling her head against his chest in a dip down. She realized she could hear his heartbeat, steady and strong. So very much alive. Regaining her composure in the next moment as she stepped back, dark eyes lifting to meet his and delve if possible. The quiver of lip was because he hit a chord. He had not known, he probably would never know. That was best. "I am no Goddess," she finally corrected him on that whether he had ever used it before or not.

He twitched off a wink and a half grin for her. "But you're not standing where I'm standing." His hand lifted, gently stroking along her arm if even by accident and he hooked the side of his forefinger under her chin so she wouldn't break that eye contact. "I'm sure there are clothes stored above if you'd like to change into something dry." That's what he was saying out loud, what he was thinking was probably best left unsaid. His thumb passed lightly against her cheek while he held her thus, then moved away reluctantly to lower to his side. Where he had held her, his own shirt was flattened to his chest, but at the moment, he didn't even notice what the damp linen might reveal of the man most times hidden beneath.

As much as the darker tone of her skin could show a blush, it was. He may have hooked her chin to keep eye contact but eyes lowered no matter. Briefly for there was nothing she could do about the heat that touched upon her cheeks. Show or not. Luckily she was too innocent to even catch the look in his eyes as being something more. Mostly because she'd not that experience to link it. Nor what the damp linen might reveal as she hadn't looked down 'there'. "I should see to these clothes." She had not thought of it but remembered for his works of the back room with all kinds of clothing, cloaks and shoes. "This is good idea." And had her escaping from the heat caused to her cheeks. "Perhaps you should too?" Seeing how his shirt had absorbed the dampness from her. That had a little smile started as she then turned and headed for that particular room.

For just the briefest of moments, his gaze touched on the lovely tint of cheeks, but soon enough she was hurrying away. He turned to watch her disappear from the room then looked to Alex. "Would you mind overmuch if I dry this shirt before the fire? I'll be quick about donning it if someone enters." Since Kuwan would be used to exposed male chests, neither man would find anything amiss with Conor drying his shirt. The ties were loosed at the neck and fabric pulled up over his head. He edged a chair closer and draped the garment over the back. It wasn't soaked, so it shouldn't take long. Depending on how long it took for Kuwan to find something, he may even be fully dressed again before she returned. "Would you pour us each a dram, Alex? That'll help build the fire from the inside out."

She found a dress in a medium blue trimmed in white that would fit her size as it was held up for inspection. Her boots were waterproof for the oils rubbed into the leather when preparing them. Being the room was down the hall and the steps outside the door, she was fast out from the room and up to the second floor to use one of the empty guest rooms. She was quick to change as she wore nothing beneath and would not under the dry clothes either. It fitted her well, exposing the tops of her breasts as was the white man's style. Not too revealing as the lace accented against bronze. Hair was still damp as some of the long strands snaked down over her bosom, hanging free from there. Her clothing discarded to the floor was quickly taken up as she was out and back down the steps. She came in the next moment only to catch a shirtless Conor, "you look like one of the braves about to go on a hunt." Not really sure why she said all that but it filled the seconds in her rejoining him. Once to the hearth she set her outfit to dry over the back of another chair drawn closer.

Conor dipped his head with a smile hearing her comparison, although he felt he was far from appearing such a noble brave as she suggested. He slanted a look her way with a slow, steady nod of appreciation. Even in the clothing of a Lady, she still held the demeanor of an Indian maid, strong of spirit, confident of stature, without a doubt, captivating. Yes, Conor could go and grab a shirt as she had a dress, but Kuwan had seen him this way before. Unless she protested, he would remain as he was until his shirt dried. "Does it offend you, Kuwan? this?" His head lifted and he turned to face her fully, a smile on his lips and there in his eyes as he passed his gaze once more over the image she presented dressed so.

There was one difference. Conor had hair on his chest which drew her for some odd reason. Without thinking on her actions as she drew closer, her fingers had a mind of their own to sift through the light mat. It was different. Interesting. The soft touch might not be noticed as her eyes trailed the motion before her hand was drawn away and she smiled up at him. "It does not offend me." Surprised that he even asked. "I wish to make you a band to wear on your arm when no shirt is needed."

He had not drawn a single breath from the moment she stepped toward him until she spoke. He watched her features, not looking down to her actions, but studying her face as she eased her fingertips over his chest. Since the breath held was an intake, he finally released it slowly. His reply was spoken almost in a trance, his smile still lingering when her gaze met his. "I'd like that." He had to blink himself from that surreal state. Just to have her move toward him like that, and then to touch him, was enough to cause a man to lose himself to wayward thoughts best left in the secret workings of a male mind. "I'm glad you're back, Kuwan. I'm sure your people are as well. When I return, I'd like to come visit the island."

The statement showed for certain that he knew she had gone. Something else that surprised her. She had thought, there was not a spare thought on her for the time of months that had passed they had not seen nor ever come across the other. She had, with her wild thoughts, thought he had found a woman and took off with her. Probably the one seated on his lap that time in the Thistle. Reasoning connected for occurrences before the hiatus. Eyes lowered to hide such thoughts as her voice softened with truth. Many reasons, perhaps more being added as she may have been wrong on other matters all new to her. "I am pleased to be back." Dark eyes lifted once more to meet his as if she could read within them so many questions that were left unanswered. So many questions that would never be asked most likely.

The native lass should not delve too deeply or she may find truths that could cause her to blush. Conor allowed the search for a moment or two, just long enough that he could enjoy the contact, then he dared not allow her to delve further, offering her a faint wink. "...if that is okay with your people, of course." He added to his original request, lest she think him pushing his company off on her.

"It is, being I will gift you with such." Speaking on the band she would make him which was a high honor even if not in their tradition. Perhaps he might realize it. "How does your saddle making come along? I wish to purchase one as I am to get a horse soon." She felt a little awkward for the distance of time but not overly and as the minutes progressed she was starting to feel comfortable with him again. She wondered how much changed. Idle thought that wisped by. Here too, only time would tell. Another thought followed not connect to others at all, "do you still like the rabbit pies?" She didn't have any with her like she use to never leave home without them it seemed.

Everything else she said, would wait. It was the mention of the rabbit pies that had him chuckle, leaning over to test the dryness of his shirt. "How can anyone ever not like rabbit pies once they have tasted them, Kuwan? Especially yours?" Pulling his hand back, he looked to her again. How easy it was to smile in her presence, to find himself with that expression without even a thought to the fact he was...smiling still. "Let me know when you have your horse, and I'll be sure to see you with a saddle made especially for your ... er ..." This was Kuwan, he couldn't just spout off like he would with his sisters, no backside comments! "For your comfort."

His smile, that seemed never ending, had her smiling as well. One that reached dark eyes trained on him more than not. "I am pleased you have not lost the taste for them. I will be sure to make you up a batch of them, enough to share with Great Mother." Which was how she referred to Herself. She had missed her too. A woman who welcomed her into her home. She noticed him reach for his shirt that was near dry. Bold at times or such the thought if she took time to think rather than react. Taking a step she grabbed it up and held it behind her. A step or two taken backwards. "I like you without." Which she took the time to run a more heated look down over his chest, especially where her fingers had touched earlier.

He had started to respond to her comment about his grandmother, but her next action completely took him by surprise. His gaze dropped to where her hands were held behind her, then back up just in time to see a look, far from a look of innocence no matter her intentions, pass over his chest. He cleared his throat softly, and a dark brow twitched upward with the hint of playfulness on her part. He didn't dare suggest that he would like her without as well, instead he just nodded off toward the object she held away from him. "Retreating, Kuwan? And where do you think you would run if I decided to give chase?"

The look held promises even she didn't realize. Had he dared, she might have accommodated being it was not something out of the ordinary for her clan. They bathed together at times. The last had her suck in a breath. "I do not know, other than where my feet take me." She hesitated there in a stalemate as that moment of truce in how far to carry out the playfulness.

No stalemate, just anticipation of the next action. "Then let them take you here." He pointed down right in front of him, looking down to that very spot he indicated before lifting his attention back to her. "And I'll not put it back on, and you'll not wrinkle it further in its dampness." The finger that had pointed now crooked to invite her over, closer, to that area he had suggested just a comment before.

Eyes shifted as he motioned to the spot in front of him. Slow was the daring look that lifted that might have him wonder if she would bolt, taking his shirt with her. There was that moment but her heart started beating so fast she thought it might leap out of her chest. She wasn't sure the why of it but took the steps forward instead, moving to the spot he indicated. The shirt was still held behind her. The mention of wrinkles, that he would care it be wrinkled, overruled her playfulness with concern as she finally drew it around to check for such wrinkles that would be her fault.

Kuwan started to draw the shirt around, began to lift it to check for wrinkles. With her close like this, he caught her hand, directed it back around, the shirt crumpled tight in his hold over hers and pinned her arms behind her with both of his wrapped around her. He smiled down to her. "I don't care about wrinkles, Kuwan." With her in his hold, her chin was lifted to look up to him, his dipped to look down to her. A drift of gaze touched her lips then lifted back to large, dark, mesmerizing eyes. "But you sure do surrender easily."

She felt a captive. Captivated. His eyes held hers and he was right, she seemed to surrender easily. She didn't feel bad about it however. Only her bottom lip quivered when his eyes touched there as if she could feel his and surrender more or even his surrender. Strange thoughts flicked by and no witty comment could cover up the look in her eyes. Dark with a flame igniting somewhere deep down that she felt everyone in the room could tell. Luckily there were no others at the moment as that heat seemed to transfer to her cheeks. The shirt was surrendered over, even if the truth came out he was not concern one iota on any possible wrinkles. She had a tendency to speak out as the thought grabbed her. "You look dangerous," which was a true, he did. Yet the kind of dangerous was not one that would harm her physically.

He could actually feel the warmth of her body beyond the fabric of her clothing pressed up against his bared chest. He could feel his heart beating there, hell, he would swear he could even feel hers thudding in exact rhythm with his own. Slowly, appreciating every moment, his gaze swept over her features and he recognized what he saw there which only caused his pulse to race more. When he looked back into her eyes, his gaze flashed with a gentle, but firm, warning. "If you continue to look at me like that, Kuwan, I fear I very well may be." Reluctantly, he withdrew his arms from around her, bringing his shirt around and her arms, his hands still clamped around hers. "I'll have to leave for a while with my brothers ... save that look? I find it more enjoyable than even your rabbit pies."

She was lost in that look. Lost in the way her heart beat fast and furious at this point. She could hardly hear his words more than feel them. Her voice was not her own but something thick and sultry sounding when she finally spoke. "I am not afraid." Which was true. She was not afraid even if her experiences were limited. Her imagination was not, however. A fleeting thought had her wondering if he could feel what she felt or perhaps such was common place for a man far more worldly. All too soon she was deprived of all those sensations, leaving her feel naked a moment. The last had her smile, true and fully. Something better than her rabbit pies! "I will be here." She was not going to take off again like she had but that adventure had matured her in some ways too. The reality of life outside of friends and family. A life unprotected by those you loved and loved you back. She wasn't sure what that look was other than her being herself at the moment. "How long will you be gone?" She would have his band ready, one made of silver and etched.

She might not be afraid, but he could almost admit to that trepidation. She was innocent to the lure, he was not. He knew exactly where that look from her, willing without realizing, inviting without knowledgeable consent, could and would take him. Conor released the hold on her hand and lifted a fingertip under her chin, leaning in to touch a light, soft kiss at the corner of her lips before releasing his touch completely from her. "I'll find you then, and look forward to returning." He brought his shirt around, and it was wrinkled!, easing it over his head as he spoke, his words muffled behind the fabric until his head popped through. "We will be gone as long as it takes to attend to family business, Kuwan. In truth, I do not have any idea how long."

The thickness of lash fell with the lowering of her lids as he came that close. She could breathe him in and cherished the scent. Where her heart had been racing it near stopped when his lips touched to the corner of hers. Could he feel the tremble? One that held back responding by turning to feel his complete over hers. One she imagined in that brief moment that was gone too quickly. The breath was drawn in as he drew back starting up her heart again. Or so it seemed. "I wish you safe and swift in seeing to family business." She didn't ask what that was for she knew where to draw the line. She could ask, "when do you leave?" As once more eyes had lifted to meet his. An abandoned look left that he might catch. Perhaps a hunger that had never been sated.

Oh, he caught it, and it caused his stomach to clench with the regret of her sharing it with him. He would never wish to cause her to feel what she must feel to have that look. "Whenever Eion states 'tis time." He shrugged, it was all he could do to ease his own guilt for leaving her as soon as they had found one another again. "...and Segan has his torture chamber prepared for sailing." With that he smiled over to her. "Are you headed back to the island? The rain seems to have eased. I can escort you back to the ferry."

She watched his eyes as he spoke, taking it all in. It seemed it was something on the spur of the moment than planned in taking this trip. Still she asked no further. The last gave her time to laugh. "He is well then to torture you." Knowing of his distaste for the sea unless swimming in it. "It is time to return with the items I came for. I would enjoy your company. If you are hungry and have the time, you are welcome to eat with us. There will be rabbit pies as they are slowly cooking as we speak." She would not hesitate to invite him when there was plenty to share.

Oh the temptations where Kuwan was concerned. "I had better stay this side of the water for now, Kuwan, incase my brothers say its time. Can I save your invitation for another day...soon?"

"Of course and I will visit Great Mother in the meantime." She would not wait for them to return to have her visit being they might be gone a long time. "It is best to leave." Which had her collecting her basket with the items as she stepped away and waited on him. The rain had ceased. The air was a little brisk for the season. Still, it held a clean fresh scent to it. A new start.


Date: 09-07-11
Poster: Patwin
Post # 45

Returning to the Village

The horses that Patwin had brought back with him were well trained and though nervous about the ride in the ferry, there were no incidents. Yas let out a sigh of relief as they reached the shore then he grinned at Patwin. "Do you plan to walk into the village and see who notices?" The island had fared well enough during the hurricane though there were trees down and in one spot, the beach was gone. Nothing that couldn't be dealt with. He would let Patwin enter the village first if that was what he wanted. Likely those watching knew Yas had returned so no alarm was sounded, even if there was another with him.

His reply was laced with a laugh. "We have five horses in tow, Brother. More likely these fine animals will be noticed more so than the animal long gone missing." Together they strolled through the wooded area toward the clearing where the clan had centered their dwellings. There was no missing the damage done by the storm, and yet, there was also no denying the amount of hard work that had gone into correcting the damages. Patwin guided two of the horses on the left, and one in between himself and Yas. Yas' beasts created a solid bulk of horse wall on the outside right. The beasts snorted and sniffed, jerking their heads on occasion to test the air and their restraints. They were fine specimens indeed, and Patwin knew it. Anything worth having was worth the effort to gain it...and great was the effort, and pleased was the man because of it.

Mat could sense it in the air, knew that certain smell that was particular to Patwin. He'd been gathering some rare herbs when he stopped and took in the scent and sound that was in the air even if no where near him at the moment. Next moment he would be coming out from the thicket to waylay both brother and blood brother. "It is about time," for a lot of reasons as strong hands clasped Patwin's shoulders, halting him there as dark blue eyes searched. A grin showed up as the grip was released, "no worse for the wear." Turning then to Yas as certainly he hoped to see a huge weight lifted from his brother finally. Some night, Patwin might learn how Yas was a ghost upon the port's piers.

There would always been some guilt, some sense of not having done things right but yes, much had been lifted from his shoulders this day. He chuckled as he watched then glanced over at the others of the village. They saw the horses and the twins and a third but for many, it had yet to register.

Kali had just finished checking on the last of the elders of the tribe, and a few who were still recovering from their injuries. She was walking toward the wigwam she shared with Kuwan and noticed the horses, and the brothers. A hand lifted to wave to them, but she paused, frowning slightly. Why had her heart starting to race so? And was there someone else there that Mat was talking to?

"I was merely temporarily delayed, Butur." He replied with a nod of respect to the shaman. "We are surrounded by fine horses, leave me be and take one, Brother. For it is yours, courtesy of the colonies." He held out the two reins that guided the horses to the left. "And, delay me no longer. Where is Kali?" There was where his search and his attention diverted from his brothers to scan the area for one face, and one face only.

"It is the way of the spirits when they wish to test you so, we are not to question their ways but accept and try to understand if we can." Although speaking to Patwin he gave his brother a pointed look before stepping aside. "There is one who waits," glancing beyond to village and that particular one waving. He would never pass up a gifted horse and so chose one with a shine to his hide. "I am sure there is a story to be told another time." He certainly wondered how he came back with such a fine breed of horse flesh. This he spotted right off.

Kuwan slipped from their wigwam with an armful of blankets she had woven to bring to some of the elders in their village. She spotted Yas and Mat then with a blink, there was Patwin too. She dropped the bundle right there as she turned to her blood sister, "what are you waiting for?" Giving her a nudge as she'd not go running to them until Kali was in the lead under the circumstances.

Yas crossed his arms over his chest as he turned slightly to scan the villagers. He saw Kali and his grin grew wider and there was Kuwan, nudging her forward. He moved the horses out of the way so they'd not be startled by the whirlwind that should soon approach.

She had been uncertain until Kuwan spoke and then the basket she held too was dropped and she was running for Patwin as fast as she could, nearly leaping as she neared, her arms going around his neck. Dark eyes were filled with tears as she took in his features and looked into his eyes as if they would tell her all that happened in the months away. "I have missed you so." Whispered softly, not trusting her voice. She was trembling from the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her.

The other reins he held were just dropped, that horse shifting back as the woman raced forward. He practically swept Mat completely aside as he strode forward, catching Kali up and wrapping her in his embrace. "Have you now? I did not think one day of you." He thought of her every single day, and that thought of her every waking moment of those every days was what kept him pressing on. He searched her eyes as well, the hardness of warrior slipping for that brief notice. Still holding her close with one arm, he pulled his gaze from her to nod an invitation to Kuwan. "Have I no welcome from my sister?"

Delsey stepped from the cover of trees, a stick propped over his shoulders and several rabbits dangling from each end. He smiled when he saw the returned warrior, and that smile grew when he saw the horses that accompanied the return. "It is a moon for reunions." Handing off the burden of meat and fur, he joined the gathering that started to converge on the horses and returned man.

Matt was laughing as he back peddled a step or two. "Let no one be in his way.." grabbing up the reins of the horse left to step back during the assault along with the other four. "I will see them to the corral," catching sight of Delsey with a grin. He should prove a surprise to Patwin. "It is a good moon that shines on us this day," for they were all together after an even longer period than Patwin's.

Kuwan was on Kali's heels but her steps averted as Patwin was tackled good as he should be. It was Yas she came aside of. Her eyes were wide, glossed over in unshed happy tears. Happy for Kali, happy for Yas that he may no longer be a shadow of himself. She'd been down to the docks to see him at his worse. Although chastised for it, it hadn't stopped her. In lieu of saying anything, she hoped to convey some of her thoughts with the touch of her hand against his. It was brief as well her staying near for she stepped away to take her turn in greeting their long lost blood brother. The greeting came quick with a widening smile and no hesitation to curl into that arm offered. One slipping around his waist as she gave him a side tugging hug. "You have my deepest welcome. You have been missed." Not only by her but certainly the others too. Here was Delsey too and her smile could not have grown brighter. Life was looking up as after the shadows came sunshine. This was such a moment. "You wish a hug too, Delsey?"

"They are good stock." He spoke to his twin of the horses then watched the reunion, hiding whatever he was feeling. Ah, here was the one he had been waiting for and he watched to see Patwin's reaction There was a hint of laughter in his eyes, as he looked at Kuwan and winked. He had recovered some when Mat had returned, now his recovery could continue.

She laughed at his words, and hugged him again, keeping an arm around his waist as he offered Kuwan an arm. Her smile was bright for her heart sister and for the others that were coming to see the return of another lost Brave. But this one, this one she knew would return. She touched Kuwan's arm briefly, then looked up when Delsey joined them. The circle of friends was complete once more. With a soft sigh, she leaned her head briefly against Patwin's shoulder.

Delsey started forward, coming straight to Patwin. "A hug? But he has no more arms consumed so by females. I will have to settle for a kiss." And he leaned in toward the gruff warrior as if to peck a kiss to a chiseled jaw.

Patwin still could not believe what his eyes demanded was true, but when the man leaned in for a kiss, a kiss!, Patwin twisted with both females still in his arms and raised a knee in defense, placing enough space between them that no contact was made. "What the Snake did not accomplish, Brother, I will if you touch me with those lips of yours. This...I promise you." There was amusement in his tone even if it never would show on his features. "I could not have asked of the Spirits so great a gift as my brother returned...they have made our family complete, and for this I will be ever grateful. It is good to have you among us again, Delsey, if the words can even express it."

Delsey stood for a moment more, making fish faces and kissy noises for Patwin, but then nodded off his returned gratitude to the Spirits. It was good to be back, and it was better to have them all together.

Which had Kuwan laughing as she was moved with Patwin while he managed his defense against Delsey. "He is saying your lips are deadly.." as if he would be poisoned by the kiss. "You must admit, with Kali to kiss he would shun yours." She couldn't help the teasing. "Perhaps Yas would like the kiss." Although she didn't look Yas' way. Nope. Laughter was dancing in dark eyes set upon Delsey at the moment.

Mat only smirked at the jests passed between them, "on that, I will see you in the village. A feast to be prepared and hopefully there are rabbit pies," although he had smelled them cooking earlier and knew there would be. On that kissing que, he was heading down the trail with the horses in tow.

"No, Delsey can keep his kisses to himself." Yas gave Kuwan a little poke to the side before putting up his hand. "You run away, Brother? " Teasing Mat, though he too, smelled the food cooking and realized he was hungry. "It will take time for all to greet and settle in." Another night of dancing but he'd not have to haunt the docks any longer, unless he continued to work for the dockmasters. The Elders would be making more speeches, which they loved, the young ones would be allowed to stay up, which they loved. And the sun would rise on a village that was looking more and more like home. "We will talk more soon." And he saw to getting the rest of the horses to the village.

She was laughing as her brother teased Patwin and he moved them away, not releasing. It wasn't as if she was about to let go of Patwin in any case. If she did, he might vanish. "You look like a whiskered fish, Delsey." She was almost light-headed with joy. How could she not be?!

"Yas, bah...he does not deserve one." Delsey laughed hearing Yas' response but that poke to Kuwan's side worked to his advantage when she squirmed toward him. "You are closer." He smiled, snagging her arm and tugging her to him. Puckering up to a great extent and placing a loud, sucking kiss to her lovely lips, he broke the contact with a wink to her. "Let it not be said my kisses are wasted...or deadly. Unless, you swoon with rapture. Come, Kuwan... surely there are rabbit pies carried on the breeze as well. I wish only one of yours." He glanced over his shoulder as he led Kuwan away, a nod to Patwin and Kali before his attention reverted to a young lad dashing in front of them. "Don't you dare beat me to my pie!" He shouted playfully to the youngster.

Patwin waited until the others had a good distance, knowing they would need to join. His hold tightened on Kali and he dipped his head for a moment, keeping his gaze on the activity nearer the fire. His voice vibrated deep and smooth near her ear. "I will come to you later..get Kuwan to sleep." With that he eased his arm from around her and took her hand, guiding them toward the gathering for the evening.

Kuwan squealed and squirmed even more as Delsey tugged her to him. "That is no kiss! That is a bath," wiping a hand over her face as if he had slobbered on her. A dramatic act as she swatted his rump and RAN in a quick spurt from him before dancing backwards with the taunt, "race you to the village," and she was around and off like a thoroughbred. There were rabbit pies and other dishes made by various wives and maidens. They would feast and dance well tonight.


Date: 09-17-11
Poster: Patwin
Post # 46

The evening festivities continued on well into the wee hours of morning, leaving only the younger of the Bear to see the fire to its end. Silence settled, night sounds reigned, and all found their resting places, including Patwin. He sat outside the hut that had recently been restored by Delsey but he hadn't entered with his brother. No, he had lingered outside, squatted next to the opening, and watched the moon as the canopy of limbs overhead danced over its face. Delsey snuffed out the lantern inside and it was only then that Patwin stood, turning to place his forearm along the wood of doorframe. "I will return." There was silence as the initial reply, then the familiar voice from within. "And we shall speak come the dawn." Patwin's features seemed to shift to a smile as he nodded, which no one but Kali had ever truly witnessed, and with Delsey within, such remained the case. He knocked lightly on that same wood as he pushed off and walked in silence to one special hut on the other side of the camp.

Kali found she was not tired as she waited out the celebration and then for the camp to fall to silence. She had stayed as close to Patwin as possible during it all, though at times she had to be satisfied with watching him. She still managed to pay attention to others. Finally the camp was quiet. She and Kuwan retired and talked for a time but then she stepped outside. She was uncertain if her sister slept but knew Kuwan would at least pretend. One of the dogs kept her company but he too, finally curled up to sleep. She felt Patwin's approach before she caught sight of him, knowing by the way her heart began to beat faster that he was near.

He didn't step out immediately, but moved with stealth behind the trees watching Kali as the white light of the moon highlighted her features and then hid them in shadows. For months he had imagined her, even as this, and yet, for months his imagination had fallen short of the beauty before him. Not for a moment he thought she didn't know he was near, they had spent too many years together, all of them, to ever be deceived in that way. Still, being able to watch her, even for that short time as he weaved his path around the trees, caused his heart to ache, his pulse to quicken. When he stepped out and walked toward her, his gaze darted first to the opening of her lodging, then back to her, his hand extended to the only one that was able to speed his heart to this pace, even since he was a young brave.

She waited patiently, just as she had for the time he was gone. He would step out when he was ready. He was home and it made her heart sing. She nearly laughed out loud, barely unable to contain the joy she felt and then, there he was. She stood slowly, watching him as he approached and she smiled. When he held out his hand, she took it without looking down, her dark eyes on his. "Patwin." His name was whispered but so much was put into it. All the sadness, the worry was gone as she stepped closer to him. Finally, they were alone.

In the silence of early morning, whispers carried on the wind, and the sound of his name so softly spoken from her lips was all the homecoming he would ever need. They held each others gaze and his fingers closed around her hand, bringing the pair to his chest as he pulled her close to him. His other hand lifted, lacing through the thick, dark strands of her hair, and his mouth sought out hers in a kiss that had been delayed for too long. Before didn't exist, the separation of lives as he struggled to return and she struggled to wait out that return, his battle with death and survival, her battle to trust he would be successful in that endeavor. His injury, her pain. It was all behind them now, she was in his arms, and she tasted of sweet herbs, of forest freshness...of home.

This, this was what she had waited for, what she had longed for. To be in his arms again, to feel his heart beating with hers, and to have his lips against hers. Nothing would separate them again, even if they were apart. His kiss would wash the past away completely. There was no pain left, no sorrow. The spirits had proven true once more and had brought him home. Nothing else existed but the two of them. Nothing else mattered but this.

Their kiss eased just enough for him to breathe out his invitation. "Come with me, Kali." A touch of lips to the side of her mouth, to her cheek, to her neck and he started away, using the hand in his to guide them toward the trees.

The kiss ended far to quickly but the invitation was given and she accepted without saying a word. Those touches caused her to sigh with contentment. Moving away without looking back, she curled her fingers through his. She had dreamed of this moment for so long. Refusing to go with him never entered her thoughts.

The forest was as much a part of them as they were a part of each other. Blending into the solitude of darkness and foliage as easily as any forest creature until their silent steps paused, and Patwin turned to ease Kali back against the rough but sturdy support of a tree. The back of his fingers traced along the length of her neck, then his palm rested on her shoulder. "I would have you have your blessings, Kali, long life, good crops...children. I would have you have your baskets, the corn pounded for the feast of celebration. I would have you have all these things, but to me, we are already united. Father Sky, Mother Earth. Have they not already blessed us? You and me?" Deep within the cover of trees, the moon did not penetrate, the darkness surrounded them, but he could see her as well in this shadowed place as if she stood in the sun of day. He knew her, he knew every nuance of her being. How many times had he watched her, studied her, been caught doing so? "It is all I have within me not to ask you to lay with me now, but I fear the Spirits that have kept us safe, one for the other, might frown upon my need, my urgency to make you fully mine - In body and in spirit as well as in promise." His hand, hungry to feel her beneath his touch stroked lightly down and up her arm, a gentle squeeze every so often to emphasize his words, his desire to have her and his struggle to not have her now.

His words took her breath away and she wrapped her arms around his waist, seeing him just as he saw her. The warmth of his hand on her shoulder kept her focused but she wanted to sing. "I too, feel we are as one. I am uncertain if the Spirits would frown upon such, Patwin. It may be that we have been tested and if so, they have not found us lacking." She couldn't help but lower her eyes even if the darkness hid the action. "I would not refuse you, my love, and there would still be a celebration and a ceremony to bind us. But again, I do not know if the Spirits would be pleased or not." And so much depended on their blessings.

He sucked in a quick breath with her words, a willingness on her part and as he released that breath a low, rumble of a primal growl could not be contained, caught deep in his throat as he captured her lips again, there, where they stood, his hand rising to brace against the tree above her shoulder while he savored what was his, by the Gods and by his own desires. He could not take the chance that their union would be sacrificed if he did not act the true Bear Brave and allow the elders to bless their coupling, their new life together, he would not take that chance. But he also could not let this moment pass, Kali was his with only the shadows to bear witness to his need for her. He savored the sweet surrender of her mouth to him, easing his tongue into that sacred dance of lovers embraced in each other's arms and within each other's kiss.

She melted against him as he kissed her again, holding him tightly, her heart singing again as it beat with his. She was his completely and he was hers. They had weathered a storm of a different type and had won the approval of the Gods. Their union would be blessed but she knew she did not want to wait long. Her thoughts were not coherent now, not with the passion she felt, not with the passion that was coming from the man whose arms held her. Tongue teasing against his, she felt only the heat of the moment, and the need. Once again, the world had receded until there was only the two of them and the whispering of the wind in the trees.

The evening hushed around them, as if in reverence to the homecoming shared between brave and maiden. Not a sound, even the leaves stilled their rustling dance. Patwin had never doubted he would hold her, from the time he was but a youngster chasing squirrels with the five of them, he had not doubted it. He had never questioned the possessive attraction that grew in him, only whether that feeling was mutual. The wondering had been put to rest many moons ago, and then, many more moons had passed before he was once again, holding her, claiming her, branding her with his kiss. He had not doubted he would return, draped over the back of his pony, his blood marking the earth they crossed. He had not doubted his return, it was what kept him alive, in spirit and in body. The mating of their tongues, the press and slide of their lips, the soft sounds she made, the deeper of the same from his own needs, it was all meant to be. Patwin. Kali. He could have paid more attention. He could have read the
inevitability of their union in the heavens, written there in the stars for any to see. But he didn't need to. Kali was his, and he was hers and it had always been in his mind. He did not need to seek out the signs to make it more clear to him. It ... was.

He couldn't know that Kali's heart had become his in those carefree days, well before the training that came with puberty had begun. She had watched him grow into a warrior, just as her brother and twins had and when life had changed for them all, her reasons for following, though not shared, included her need to be near him. Perhaps it was his determination to return that had given her faith over the many miles that separated them, along with the whispered assurance of the Spirits. It didn't matter now. Had she been able to think, she might have thought they had been lifted from Mother Earth, taken to a place where they were apart from the world but she couldn't think. She was aware of his ever touch, the feel of him against her, the fire that was growing within. And somewhere, she was aware of the soft voice of warning. But that was ignored. She didn't want to listen, she just wanted what was happening now.

That soft voice could easily be ignored, by the both of them, so caught up in this moment of intense pleasure shared within their kiss. Ignored, though, the soft voice could grow stronger, more urgent, demanding attention, just as his passion grew stronger, more urgent, demanding attention. A warrior from birth, the Bear Brave could enter into a battle with little fear. This was one such battle. He wanted Kali, in every way, completely and the taste of her blending with the sounds and smells and feel of her made for a battle of great willpower versus a great devotion with the alliance of forced separation and determined return there to bolster either side. He groaned out the regret of defeat, the acceptance of victory and his kiss trailed to the side of her mouth, to her cheekbone, to come to press between her brows. "Arrange the ceremony, Kali, I wish not to sleep without you ever again."

She could almost feel his reluctance as he broke the kiss, his lips pressing three times against her skin. Eyes still closed, she allowed her heart to still as much as possible, smiling at his words. Their vows would be given and would remain strong for the rest of their lives. Of this she was certain. "I will speak to the Elders at first light," And to her parents following. They had blessed this union those many moons ago, pleased that the two had finally spoken what as in their hearts. Dark eyes opened and she sighed once again with contentment. "My heart is filled with joy, Patwin. I love you so and I will see to it that you do not have to wait long for us to share your furs." She placed a kiss against his mouth, then laughed. "We should return to the camp now." Before they started again.

He nodded off his agreement, even as his gaze drifted down to her lips. He wished to start again. He wished to start again and never stop. He pushed up from his hand on the tree and lowered that to capture her slender fingers. "Come then, for I know I would rather remain than to go, and the need to do so grows greater with every passing breath." His features softened, even if he didn't smile to her, and he started to lead them away with a tug to her hand. Soon enough, he would never have to dread the night because the woman he missed within his embrace while he lay in his hut, would always be there beside him.

Date: 11-01-11
Poster: Matoskah
Post # 47

Harvest Ritual

Being single and unattached, gave Mat a lot of time to himself. Time he used constructively rather than dwell on being alone. Not that he was alone for his connections with others but there was no one special in his life at this time. Much like his brother. Both had been attracted to someone out of their reach, not that there had been any implication of a mutual notice for him. This night the air was crisp and clear. Trees snaked up to the midnight blue sky studded with stars. Most barren now as the leaves covered the ground of the forest around the clearing where he stood. Smoke curled up from the fire surrounding his form that he'd built a few hours ago. Hair was braided woven with feathers, his chest bare in spite of the colder air. Paint covered all flesh exposed as he wore only the leather flap covering his lower body. His voice pure that filled the crisp air as he sang in a flowing tone, calling forth the spirits of harvest to keep his people safe this coming winter. Offerings of sprinkled tobacco and corn littered the ground as he moved slowly around the fire in an ancient dance.

Yas was nearby, sitting quietly as his brother performed the ritual. Such had been done during the full moon by the elders but some preferred to add their private appeals to the Spirits. He figured it was good to have many prayers lifted to insure the cycle of the seasons brought good fortune to their people. Unlike his brother, he was dressed in heavier buckskin trousers and shirt against the chill, dark hair left to hang loose around his face. He was content to sit and listen and watch. The breeze blew occasionally stirring the leaves and sending them to dance and he smiled as it reminded him of their old home.

He took his time moving in dance and once he was done, just before it became obvious, he sprinkled tobacco and corn on his brother. "And help him most of all to become a great leader which we all know he has it in him except himself." Which in truth, was true as he danced away. The fire kept him warm but it was starting to die down as well the air getting colder still. He took up the buffalo skin to fold over his torso, encompassing him and looking the furry beast as he took on a serious stem demeanor.

Yas closed his eyes as soon as Mat moved in, though he had no idea what was coming. He just shook his head at the words and gave a half smile to Mat's back. It would take more then words to convince him. "Finished? It will be time to do the winter ritual soon." He moved the basket that he had carried from the camp. Most of the time such rituals involved fasts and if that had been the case, Mat would be hungry. He placed the basket on the ground and looked at the fire. "Will you let it die now or shall I gather more wood?"

Indeed he was and the smell of the food in the basket, had his stomach growl as he was back. "You brought enough to share with your starving brother?" Taking up a seat cross legged next to his brother.

"I brought plenty for my starving brother." Yas laughed as Mat sat. "I ate earlier so you can take as much as you need. There's plenty in there, including rabbit pies." There was water to drink. He'd need it after the ritual and of course, potcheen for later. "Won't be long until it snows. In spite of the hurricane, we'll have enough to last the winter."

He started with the water and it was a bit of heaven as he drank a good amount to quench his mighty thirst. "Will you be performing the winter ritual?" Eyeing his brother as he dug out one of the rabbit pies to start with.

"I will take part as I always have, with the Elders and the tribe." He laughed again, eyeing Mat. "It is part of the ritual after all that we each take part. But," and here he looked up at the sky, "Though I learned the ways of the shaman, it is not my strength. I will leave that to you and Delsey."

"And what do you consider your strength my brother?" Knowing he fought his leadership abilities. All the while he was licking his fingers after the rabbit pie before starting into the venison strips.

"I am a warrior. Nothing more. Nothing less. It has been my calling since we did the spirit walk so long ago. And of course, I provide support if you should need it. I always have, and always will, brother." He shrugged slightly. "I can lead a small war party or a scouting party well enough."

"As I support you in the hunt or in times of war." Which he ended up chewing for a few moments before washing it down with more of the water. He went for another rabbit pie. "I have become like the bear, feast before I sleep." Which had him laugh before he was finishing up the pie. "I need to find myself a wife one day soon. I just don't know where to look. Maybe that catalog I heard about." Which had him making a half laugh and half grunting sound.

"Catalog?" He shook his head and leaned forward sightly to poke at the fire, causing it to flare a little. It would die soon enough. "And what's the rush, brother? While it's true many our age have a mate, is there really a great rush? You can have a younger wife when you grow old and still have many children." Just barely hiding his grin.

"I can have a few younger wives that will rub my tired bones and feed me well. Give me many children." Which he gave another grunt that turned into a laugh. Finishing off the last pie he was finally full. He purposely made an effort getting up. "Now I am as fatten cow. It is time to find my bed and sleep." Something else he had starved himself of so that the visions came. He was over to help put down the fire. Built where it would burn down safely for the small pond nearby. It was already smoldering in the pit. "We should have a wild boar roast before winter sets in."

"We should. A hunt and feast to follow." There were several large boars here and there on the island. They hadn't done enough of that and it would be good to lay in a supply of meat. "Come, brother." He grabbed the basket as he stood so he didn't get scolded for leaving it behind. "I will see that you make it to your furs before you fall asleep." He clapped a hand to Mat's shoulder. "I am certain you won't have to worry about finding a wife. It will take you by surprise."

The clap to his shoulder sent him a few hurried steps ahead as he caught his balance. He was more tired than he realized and would barely make it to his furs tonight. "We shall talk more tomorrow on this feast." As he liked the whole idea. It would take them a while to get back for the distance he had picked. He had yet to find a spot on the island he liked but there was still much to explore.

Yas could help him reach the camp if needed. It wouldn't be the first time or the last for either of them. "Yes, tomorrow. We will make sure the winter is not dull for our people, eh?" He laughed as they continued on. There would be more to talk about and the feast would certainly be the most important.


Date: 03-18-12
Poster: Kuwan
Post # 48


Kuwan had worried on Conor although she would never admit it to anyone. With winter coming and going, she had pretty much stayed on the island after they had stocked up. There had been a few births which she helped with and that helped to occupy her mind. She knew she needed to visit the Quinn Matron and pay her homage. Something she looked forward to but didn't wish deeper feelings to be noticed and that woman was far too keen not to. Sometimes she felt like everyone could tell but really none could for she hid it so well. Why? Lots of reasons at this point in time. The flowers were starting to push up through the now softened ground, many with buds and the crocus already in full bloom. It lightened the heart, this renewal of life and had her wondering what new things would come into her life before the ground went silent and cold again. She had made a special place off from the secluded waterfall and subsequent pool it flowed into. A place that would become like a tropical oasis making one feel like they transcended into another world. It was here that she prayed in her own way to the spirits to protect those she cared about in particular and in general of her tribe and those of the lands. Since the ground was fairly wet in places for the snows having all melted and rains, she wore leggings and a tunic of leather with beaded patterns. The length of dark hair was tamed back with braids over free flowing beneath. They were woven with the beads and ended in such along with smaller feathers of various colors.

Strangers on the island did not go unnoticed for long by the Bear Tribe. In fact, as soon as Conor pulled his boat onto the sand, a warrior walked from the treeline to greet him and assist him in shoring his small boat. Patwin. Conor recognized him from the Thistle before. "Thanks." Conor offered, which was responded to with a nod from the brave. The man didn't say a word, just passed his dark regard over the Irishman before he provided a jerk of head for Conor to follow. "I'm looking for..." Before he could finish speaking, Patwin said the one name of importance to the Quinn. "Kuwanyauma." Conor couldn't help but chuckle to himself with a nod, though Patwin would not hear or see him since the Indian was walking away already, expecting Conor to follow "Aye." Conor replied, trotting a few steps to catch up to the man. "I hear you've had quite an adventure." Patwin paused in his steps, then started forward again without looking back. "She is not expecting you." Was the reply, which only had Conor's smile tipping up a bit more. Not of blood, but all the more the protective brother without a doubt. Noted. And respected. But expected or not, Conor did intend on seeing the woman. They weaved a path through the trees until Conor heard the telltale sounds of a waterfall. They didn't continue though. Patwin stopped and turned, placing the wide expanse of palm on Conor's chest to halt him. "You go no farther without her consent, Quinn." That contact didn't release until Conor nodded once. "Aye, all right." While Patwin lowered his hand, Conor looked around the wooded area. "I'll wait right over there then." He gave a nod to a fallen tree that would suffice as a sturdy waiting place. Patwin narrowed his gaze for a moment to the man opposite him, then dipped his chin in agreement. "Good to see you, Con-Ore." Conor repeated the motion, an incline of head, but his sported a smile. "And you, Patwin." Conor didn't wait to know that he was watched by the Indian until he settled on that downed tree trunk, but when he looked up and over, Patwin was no longer there. A part of the sounds of the surrounding forest and waters beyond, Conor hadn't even heard the man leave.

She had crushed certain herbs and leaves together that were set to burn much like incense in a contained pot secured where it would not spark and cause a fire. The scent would travel on the light spring breeze long before she appeared. A basket filled with the precious herbs over one arm. She had sense a stirring in this part of the forest but it was not of a negative warning kind. Her thoughts distracted and her steps silent as she moved over the soften earth. That was until she came upon one that had her pause as if seen an apparition from those very distracted thoughts had materialized. She paused with a blink or two waiting for the image to disappear on her. It would be unsettling as she cautiously asked, "Conor?" The silence of her steps picked up again as she tried not rushing to that clearing of the forest.

As soon as he saw her coming up, her mind obviously elsewhere, he came to his feet. His name reached him in almost a whisper, as if she questioned his presence, which caused him to smile all the more. She was ever a goddess of the forest, and with the way she looked, the way she moved while in these woods, it made her appear even more so. He swallowed and then repeated his initial response. "Aye." Then a subtle shrug. "We're back...and I...well, I really couldn't wait for our paths to just cross. Unless you would consider this...just crossing...with a little nudge of sorts." He took a step toward her, but stopped himself, clearing his throat so that he wouldn't ramble on in her presence.

Much like a creature of the forest, she could move as swiftly as a fawn. One moment moving towards him, the next having throw her arms up around his neck. Her face buried against his chest as she took in his scent. "I had asked the spirits to watch over you and your brothers to bring you back to us safely." More murmured there before catching herself as she eased back. Her arms sliding from around his neck to let her hands rest on his chest. Albeit different than how Patwin had held his against Conor. Dark eyes lifting with the slight flush set to bronze skin. Eyes searched as to read his state of health and that her prayers had not gone to naught. "You will tell me of your adventure there? I have rabbit pies made back at the village if you are hungry?"

When she embraced him, he wrapped an arm around her lower back, holding her to him. He smiled down to her, far more pleased with her greeting than he would allow himself to admit. "I doubt not that it had to be your prayers that saw us through the toughest times." God help him if Patwin remained hidden in the trees, or any of her other 'protectors' just happened to be hovering. His gaze lowered to her lips as she spoke and remained there. He forced another swallow so that he could continue speaking. His free hand lifted and claimed the top of hers against his chest, holding them there. Could she feel his heart as it slammed against the inside of his ribs? Fingers tightened in his hold, squeezing in a modified hug between the two of them. "I'd rather hear about all that has been done here, Kuwan. And as tempting as those rabbit pies sound, if you wouldn't mind, I'd prefer not to have to deal with the likes of your ... brothers ... just yet." Did she notice the rumble of his chuckle as he held her hand to his chest? While Conor was a bit of an instigator where conflict was concerned, at present, he really just wanted to be with this particular lady, in this particular spot, at this particular moment. "I brought something back for you."

Could he tell that this look upon her lips made them quiver? A warm shiver thrilled through her body that she wondered if he could feel even if there were no outward signs. Perhaps she picked up on a thought, or just his words on avoiding her brothers that had her understand and agree with a slight nod. Presently she didn't trust her voice for all stirred up inside her. Perhaps she could feel the beat of his heart for where her hands rested now with his over them. Finally finding her voice as it came in a lower huskier sound. "You have a strong heart. Would you wish for us to remain here or come where I have my offering to the spirits burning?" Any one of the tribe could wander through this part of the forest and they were out in the clearing. "There is not much changed here since you left and while it doesn't make for much to speak on, it is also better than anything bad to happen. We have kept the normal busy, a few births and no deaths." Which was far different from their original home where the lands and white men were far more hostile. She made one admittance tinged with guild, "I have not visited Mother Quinn." Not adding excuses as to why for she would not excuse herself for it.

He dipped his head with her confession, his lips close to her ear. "Nor have I lately, perhaps together we could do so safely." He lifted his stance slightly to look into her eyes. "Strength in numbers and such." Another touch of gaze to her lips, this close, oh so close and he straightened away, sliding a look to the path she had arrived from. "I wish not to disturb your offering, Kuwan. Perhaps we could just remain here." He turned just a fraction, though he didn't release his hold on her as he searched their surroundings. "Come sit with me here?" The earth was wet, both from the weather and the thickness of layered leaves to hold it in, that tree trunk he was using seemed to be the best option for now.

That closeness only sent another delicious feeling shiver through her, adding to the others there already. He was making it hard for her to think this close but she managed out an agreement. "Yes, I wish to see her again with you." She liked Mary Quinn, held her in honor and respect within her mind. "Yes," once again agreeing as she kept close, easing by his side to take up a perch on the tree trunk. "Your brothers are well also?" She figured they were but she had not asked. On top of that question she followed with the other before she forgot. It would be easy to forget things around Conor Quinn. At least for her. "We should visit soon." Perhaps that soon would be after they had some time along together. "I have missed you," admitted too if she hadn't already or again if she had.

Those four words were enough for his breath to catch, and he turned and lowered to sit next to her. His hand slid beneath his coat and he pulled out a small, tied black satin bag. "It isn't much, but when I came across this, I thought you may be able to use it." The small satchel filled his palm and he offered it over to her like that. "It is Irish moss." The dark purplish-brown fungus had been crushed down into an almost powder-like consistency to aid in its use. "From what I'm told, it's good for burns. Boiled down, added to lard and beeswax." Not that he'd even begin to pretend to know herbal remedies. He had wanted to bring her something she might like and now, as he held it out to her, he began to doubt his original plan and that he should have stuck with the classic souvenirs of jewelry or perhaps a doo-dad for her hair.

"Matron Mother knows how to do this?" Taking the satchel with awe as she lifted it to her nose to take in its scent. "It comes of good land," lowering it as she could tell this much. "I would like to see this Ireland one day. This is good gift. I have not but rabbit pies.." except her words trailed off as she hesitated as if in debate a moment but then acted out her thought this time. Leaning up as one hand came to touch upon his cheek and her nose to nudge his. It may at first seem that was all she intended until her eyes closed and her lips tentatively touched his. Full enough to match over his perfectly.

Still. He dared not even breath as she leaned to him, touched him...and then his heart rate soared, his pulse raced when her lips passed over his. No thought was given to any who may be watching over her, there was only Kuwan. His hand lit upon the curve of upper arm and shoulder, his fingers tightening as he pulled her closer still. His other arm wrapped around to lace his fingers through the softness of her hair, cupping the back of her head in his palm. The tentative touch was met with a much more determined one. His mouth against hers, reclaiming what she had initiated in a mastery of ignited desire. What care for he with rabbit pies? Nothing could be better enjoyed than this. Allowing himself this small amount of time to taste her, learn her, memorize her before he ended the kiss with a light peck, first full to her lips, then to the corner of her mouth. "This...was a better gift, Kuwan." He whispered as he pulled away from her, eyeing the smudged lines of her lips from the shared kiss, then lifting his gaze to those dark eyes.

She was not sure how her bold act would be responded to and she never expected the warmth that filled her very soul as he took her into his arms like in her dreams. Better still than her dreams. Her heart pounded in her chest half caught in her throat. Surely he could tell how she felt as her lips moved as if on their own accord to meet that demand she felt under his. She had probably stopped breathing for she was reminded finally when her lips parted long enough to suck in that needed breath. It took her a moment to come down from wherever that kiss had brought her as the lowered tones of her voice were still held in that emotion. "My heart has always sung your name." She wasn't sure how he'd feel about that but she finally admitted what had been in her heart for some time. It was a daring act but she could no longer live with the secret come what may of it. She wasn't expecting anything in return of her words for Conor had always been an elusive mystery to her. Those dark eyes held the serenity that came of the acceptance of her words hearing them voiced. Finally.

A smile in his eyes was the initial response to her words and while he didn't retreat the hold he had on the back of her head, the other hand lifted to stroke lightly along the shape of her face. His gaze passed over her features, from the arch of her brow, to the line of her nose, to the lips he had so much delighted in sampling, to the slight uplift of her chin following her confession. Dang but she had a way with words, all singing hearts with her native tongue to cause it to sound like the confession of a lifetime. It could very well have been that for the man -- the confession of his lifetime, especially how she had phrased it. As desperate as he was at this moment in time to possibly spout all manner of affections in return, he couldn't, and wouldn't. She was Kuwan, healer of her people, goddess of the forests in which she lived and thrived and protected. He...Conor Quinn. Kuwan belonged with her people. Conor, was not among those. That didn't diminish the deep seated desire to whisk her away and just face what might come of that impetuous action, but no matter how deep, no matter how powerful the draw, what was truth was truth. And Conor could not deny Kuwan that which she appeared most devoted to. Instead, as he lowered his gaze to her lips once again, he reverted back to something she had said previously. "I missed you as well, Butterfly."

Luckily she didn't know his exact thoughts as eyes searched his as such was going through his head. She might beat on his chest for his 'reasons'. His perusal of her features only warmed her to the pit of her stomach. Unlike most, she was not disappointed that he only said he had missed her and nothing more. There was an awkward moment that needed to be filled and thoughts turned to something more productive than wondering or allowing her thoughts to wander again. "I should go into town," more mussed being she had not been there in a while but it would not be an all day thing as she added, "would it be a good time to visit Mother Quinn today?" That was better than pushing her luck and kissing him again when his gaze wandered there. Made her lips itch to do so. These were all new emotions too for her she needed to wonder on later.

Conor blinked when the moment morphed in a way he hadn't expected. "Mother...?" Shit, Man, get it together. He forced his gaze from her lips up to her eyes. "Aye, sure, absolutely. I'm sure she would love to see you." He eased his fingers from her hair and used that hand to ease her back then push himself up, curling his hand around hers in the process so that he could hold her hand to help her to stand. "Let's get what you need in town and then we shall make our way over to the manor."

Her lips felt abandoned even from the heat of his gaze let alone the heat that had been there when they had kissed. She almost regretted asking but knew the moment was to move forward and at least she would be spending them with him. Later she could mull over the whole of the day and this unexpected surprise. A welcome one for certain. She was reluctant to move as his touch would also leave her feeling abandoned as his fingers eased from her hair. A touch she had very much welcomed. Once standing she was finally fortified to go with him.


Date: 04-07-12
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 49

A Visit to Grandmother

Mary Quinn sat on the front porch, a light shawl draped around her shoulders, a cup of tea warming the palm of her hand while she took a break from the bustle and activity of the manor house. It was a nice day to be outside, and soon enough, Mary would be digging her fingers into the earth with her planting. For now though, she relaxed, rocking ever so gently in the white-washed rocking chair there on the porch. The couple walking up the field from the stables caused her gaze to squint, and a smile touched before she called around her shoulder toward the door. "Trudie! Looks as if Conor is a'comin' with that dark haired lass. Would you?" Mary wouldn't need to say more. Trudie knew Mary well enough and even before those two made the front porch drinks would be waiting for them on the table. Mary didn't get up, she just sipped her tea, and watched them as they neared.

Conor saw the woman on the porch before they got closer. Because of that, he shifted slightly to come up against the side of Kuwan's arm. They had arrived together, no doubt the Quinn matriarch would realize who Conor felt the need to seek out first. All the more reason he had a bolt of laced fabric tucked under arm. Mary probably wouldn't mind his priorities at all, but...just to make sure, a Quinn man knew when an offering of peace might be the best option.

Kuwan felt her cheeks filling with heat the closer they got. Eyes had a brightness to them that had never been there before. The thought that Mary could see the kiss still upon her lips was the cause of the sudden blush. She was hoping her voice didn't give her away by the time they reached the respected lady. "Mother Quinn, it is good to see you again." Voice was soft almost sounding of one catching their breath but Kuwan was not physically challenged by the walk. When Conor moved closer, it gave her a sense of strength she found no matter how obvious it was to herself on her feelings where he was concerned. She had gotten Mary a new bonnet she couldn't pass up as well one for herself that was of light blue and white lace. The colors looked well in contrast to her dark hair and features. The one for Mary was of peach and white lace. Hers was not so much a peace offering but one showing her respect and liking of the Quinn Matriarch.

Conor slid his hand briefly behind Kuwan, stroking her back, then he started up the steps to his grandmother. He set the fabric in the first chair he passed then bent forward to press a kiss to the woman's cheek. "Missed you, Gran. No doubt Eion told you all went well enough except for Michael." As he straightened, he held out his hand for Kuwan to come closer. "You remember Kuwan, I'm sure."

Mary lifted a hand to Conor's cheek as the younger man kissed her own. She looked past Conor to the lass and shot her a wink of greeting until Mary could speak to her. "Aye, he did, and I'm truly proud of all you boys were able to do for us." She too held out a hand toward Kuwan. "And of course I remember her, Conor." Then she touched her fingers lightly on the table top to indicate their drinks. "I only wish she wouldn't stay gone so long between visits. Always such a pleasure to see you, Kuwan. lovely you are. Come, Sweetums, come sit next to me before I have to start back into my day. It has been too long. Tell me the news of your people while Conor goes and tells his sisters hello." She didn't even bother to look at her grandson, just smiled to Kuwan. Such an enjoyable sight, to see Conor, so attentive, to so interesting a lass. "Go on now, Conor. Go on. They've been fretting over your absence." Maybe they had, maybe they hadn't - who knew with Mary Quinn.

His touch gave her support further than physical contact. The wink did even more as it was followed by a bright smile. All the tension, if one could call it that or more just nerves, eased visibly. She set the bonnet on top of the bolt of material then waited aside Conor as he and Mary shared a family greeting. "I wish not to stay away but the winter was hard on some of the elders." Her words quiet as she added, "but spring brings things anew and I will be off the island more." She settled into a seat near Mother Quinn so they could speak easily. Dark eyes followed Conor as he retreated into the manor to greet his sisters and any other family within or those he knew that worked here. Only after he left her sight did it switch to Mother Quinn. "I will help you with your work if you wish." Certainly she was capable and would enjoy the work. "The winter was hard on some but more it was hard getting off the island when chunks of ice floated in the water that span the gap. You look well, you have been well and the others? I am pleased Conor, Eion and Segan are back safely." Perhaps her thoughts were a little disjointed but this day was disjointed in a good way.

Oh, the smile Mary fought to keep cordial, because, just hearing this mysterious, quiet woman almost ramble with information told her so much more than the words not being spoken. Conor was elsewhere for now, but Mary knew the Quinn men, probably better than anyone else, and so she realized if she wished to speak alone with Kuwan, they would need to get as much said as soon as they could. Quinn men were ever available for their women. Conor...Quinn man. Kuwan...hmmm...his woman? "Winter is never easy, but it can be enjoyable while being endured if spent with those most dear to you." Mary shifted, a mug of apple cider taken up and then when she rolled easily to her other hip, it was offered to Kuwan. "Did you and Conor just happen across one another when he returned, Kuwan?"

The majority of the family would be outside, and so it took Connor longer than he would have liked to leave Mary alone with Kuwan. There was no anticipating what would come out of his grandmother's mouth, especially now that spring was looming. Spring and Mary Quinn...that could be dangerous. Hugs all around, brief discussions about the goings on in Ireland, and he was coming back through the front door to the porch when Mary asked her question. "No, Gran. I went to the island especially to see her." Yes. He sought Kuwan out First. Peace offering now. "I brought you some fabric..." He motioned to the chair with the material and the bonnet as he passed it by, claiming a chair right next to Kuwan.

Luckily blushes didn't really show upon her bronze skin because she could feel the heat rise again, initiated by her thoughts or even a look that had her wonder just how much Mother Quinn could see. She was use to elders seeing far more than one said or acted outwardly. She took the mug of cider that was offered. "I was doing my routine of prayers for them when I came from the hallow grounds to find him..." and there Conor was.. stepping out and answering Mother Quinn, she never got in the rest of waiting for me. She wasn't sure if that would qualify compared to happen across her but that would be way out of Conor's way to just happen across her. So, he had not happened across her. That thought, being brought up, had her smile right up at Conor. That knowledge, brought to her attention by Mother Mary, was as good as the kiss they shared. Well, close.

Mary nodded with a pretty little smile on her lips, glancing over to the fabric and then up to her grandson until he sat down. "I think I should like to see that island one day." Mary spoke softly to herself, to them, just a thought spoken out loud, not that she'd ever see to making it a reality, just ... a thought. "Kuwan, I would very much enjoy your company while working my herb garden, but surely you have much to do to help those on your island. Perhaps Conor could offer his able hands to assist you, depending on what might be needed." She sat back slowly, using the back of the chair as support. "He will be busy with his leather, I am sure, but surely he wouldn't mind some time with you...doing what you do...for those you do it for. He spends too much time working for profit. He should spend more time volunteering ... it is oh so gratifying to give and in the process, receive."

Conor tilted his head away, pretending to look out over the expanse of landscape while he scratched the side of his neck exposed with that position of head. Was there any rest for the family of Mary Quinn? Any rest, that is, from her shrewd manipulation and conniving? Granted, it was always in their best interest, but Conor could handle things on his own, thank you very much, Gran. When he turned back to the women, his gaze touched on Kuwan, then shifted to his grandmother. "I'm sitting here, you know. Right here. I hear you, Gran."

Mary's smile tipped a bit more upward. "Of course you can, Conor. That's the point."

Conor chuckled, leaning forward to rest his forearms on his thighs, and in doing so, touching the side of Kuwan's hand with the side of his so that their little fingers linked. "Yea, that's what I thought." He dipped his chin, his own smile poorly suppressed before he canted his head to look again at Kuwan.

She didn't always phrase her sayings correctly but she came closer than she had when they first came here. "It would make me happy to help you in your garden. I've done my duties on the island already." She would end up helping others or making rabbit pies or something to occupy her time. She wasn't one to sit around, it made her antsy. There were quick looks between Mary and Conor as she felt she was missing something here but.. did not ask. When he turned back he might noticed that slight confusion upon Kuwan's features or more, in her eyes that held to his momentarily. She would be one that would do anything Mary asked of her that she could. She was easy in that way. The last spoken by Conor made certain this was something else. She was paying acute attention now! She would learn. So....... it was a game of words in a way. In a way that perhaps kept Conor and she was now sure, his siblings as well, on their toes. She was trying to suppress her smile but the edges of her lips quirked.

Mary took a small sip of her tea, then reached back to place the cup on the table. "I like you lass, so very much, you make my boy happy." The Quinn Mother patted the young woman lightly on her forearm then linked her own fingers together on her lap.

Conor blinked. "Gran." He cleared away a cough, smiling to Kuwan before opening his eyes wide to his lash-fluttering grandmother's response.

"Well, Lad, I do like her..." All truth, every word of it, so what was he all flabbergasted about? As if...she didn't know. She turned to look toward the door. "I thought I heard Trudie call for me." She said, pushing up using the arms of the wooden chair as support. That was truth too, although, probably not right now. But surely, she had, at some point in time thought she heard Trudie call. "Will you both excuse me a moment?"

Conor stood as his grandmother stood, looking toward the same door and narrowing his eyes with suspicion. He didn't hear any such call but then, this was Mary Quinn. The woman could hear and see and 'suspect' things most people missed. "Aye, we'll be here."

"I like making him.." but the words were never finished on making him happy as she blinked Conor's way as he blinked Mother Quinn's way. She was on unfamiliar grounds again. There was more to all of this that went unsaid. She was pleased that Mother Quinn liked her, not just for Conor's sake but because she liked her. Had liked her from the moment they met many years ago. Just as much as she had grown to care for Conor more than she had cared to admit, keeping her from advances from others in turning them down politely. Keeping her from saying anything when he seemed more interested in others she got to witness at times. There was a lot she didn't understand of the white man's ways. She was learning. Right now, all past troubled thoughts were gone, taken in a gentle breeze after her morning ritual when Conor was there. She blinked out of her thoughts as she had not heard Trudie call for Mother Quinn and assumed it was because she had wandered in her thoughts. Something she didn't usually do. In fact, there was a long time she would not allow her thoughts! "Of course Mother Quinn," using her respectful title she gave Mary. Dark eyes followed Mother Quinn before she was out of sight and they turned upon Conor to see if he had anything to say about all that was said.

When the screen door bumped closed, Conor bent to sit, but as he did he leaned forward just a bit more and touched a kiss to Kuwan's lips. "I'm sorry for all that. My grandmother likes to think of herself as a matchmaker. You know..." His backside touched down and he motioned between himself and the native lass. "You and me, together, as a couple."

Chin tilted as he bent close so that her lips were in easy reach. The touch was most welcome and ended up in a smile before it was gone. "It is because she loves you and wishes you to be happy." The last of his words had the heat touch upon her cheeks again. She wasn't sure what to say or more feeling bold to say anything but words came. "This would be if you wish.." almost sounding as a question even if offered as a statement.

"If I wish?" The youngest of Jaxon's sons laughed low, nodding to Kuwan. "It would be whether or not I wished it. But then, who doesn't wish to be happy? And she's right, afterall, I do very much enjoy your company." He pitched toward her a bit more, his gaze traveling from her dark eyes to her full lips then back up again. "Especially when you allow me to kiss you. Because, well Kuwan, that's really ..." His lips twitched with his smile. "...really...nice."

It was if he wished for she felt it was obvious that she wished. She wasn't sure why he laughed but then the words that followed explained some. "I do not know of anyone that does not." Well there were some cranky individuals she had met in her lifetime that one could suspect they liked being miserable. Thrived on it. But, she felt he wasn't speaking on such individuals. "I like being with you. I like your kiss." Certainly as it drew her dark eyes there to linger a moment before lifting only to find him closer. It caused a smile in response. "I do not wish another's kiss." So very honest!

Conor started to sit back, to straighten away from the lean of forearm to the arm of his chair so he could be closer to her, mistaking her comment at first as she didn't wish 'another' kiss, but then realizing what Kuwan actually had said. "Well then, if you'd not mind too much, I'd like to share more of them." Crap! Movement by the door made him realize that his grandmother was back, and just standing there. He slowly moved his gaze, to the matron, and his brow arched ever so faintly, in a silent 'what?'.

"I don't mind.. " but here too she followed his gaze to the door and surely that was Mother Quinn standing just beyond the screen. "We should go and help her with her garden." Perhaps she was learning to derail certain things. She had finished her cider as she stood to set it away to the table. A look back to Conor as three pairs of hands would have it done faster than one or even two while they were here.

"Yes, better that we do." Because no doubt the woman was already hashing all kinds of schemes behind that intelligent brow of hers. Ahwell...did Conor ever expect any less from Mary Quinn? The remainder of the afternoon would be spent digging with his grandmother in the comfortable company of one certain Forest Goddess.


Date: 06-26-12
Poster: Kuwan
Post # 50

The Bear Clan

This hour after the evening meal had been cleared away, after the stories shared with the youngsters by the elders, after the fires had been reduced to only the main one in the center of the village...this hour...was for the gathering of the Chosen. Those who had been sent before to these lands and had delivered the Bear from the evil that threatened their tribe. None of them felt worthy to be exalted, but there was no denying that all of the clan respected those six with something akin to reverence. Patwin squatted near that fire, poking a stick into the flames and watching as the ashes flared in response. His gaze lifted, followed their ascent into darkness, then lowered to poke again.

"You encourage the fire gods, Patwin?" Delsey crossed over to the warrior and lowered to a knee, doing the same of watching the ashes drift upward and then dissipate into dark, cool ash before they drifted off someplace unknown.

Patwin turned a gaze over to his Brother, offering an uplift of chin to Delsey though he said nothing, then returned to his gentle jabs of encouragement.

Yas had spent the day with some of the younger boys who were learning to shoot the bow. It was an enjoyable pastime and one that didn't make him feel like anything else was expected. He had taken some time to himself before returning to the camp, then joined in the evening meal and listening to the tales. It didn't matter how many times they were spoken for it was the way they passed the stories from one generation to another. Someday it would be those gathered around the fire now who would be the telling, and their tales would be added to their history. Now he joined his brothers at the fire and waited for the others to join them.

Kali had helped with cleanup as she usually did, then while the elders told their tales, had checked on the hides she had curing outside of the camp. She made her way back in time to hear Delsey tease Patwin and smiled at the two as she joined them. It had been a good day but she was glad it was over.

Mat came upon the conversation, "I may have him join me in a ritual to inspire the gods to smile upon us." Which on all accounts, the gods had smiled upon them for they had been rescued. He squatted down, shirtless with only a vest and the remnants of paint that had been mostly washed away from one such ritual done earlier up on the mountainside.

Kuwan had disappeared for a while to a secluded part of a pond near where she claimed her hallow grounds. Hair was wet and left loose to dry for it took a long time to dry braided. She wore lighter leather that showed a bit of stomach being the top was shorter than the skirt. One that had slits up the side to her thighs. Boots were gone in favor of the moccasins. She was carrying a woven reed basket that contained a few rabbit pies as a treat now that a few hours had passed since their main meal. She greeted all with a smile and quietly set the basket where they could help themselves.

Patwin looked over to Kali as she arrived, his free hand reaching out with a twirl of wrist for her to get closer. As each of the other three arrived, he offered them a nod as well and just a snort of amusement to Mat's suggestion. His dark gaze extended past Delsey to where Kuwan had placed her basket. He opened his mouth to speak.

"I smell something absolutely delicious." Delsey interrupted, knee-scooting his way over to Kuwan and her basket but he didn't reach for the woven carryall, but rather Kuwan's hand, dragging her down toward him. "And it smells like Kuwan!" A twist of his body and he was cross legged, pulling the Indian lass into that nest of his legs for as long as she'd settle there. He popped a kiss to her cheek. "Mmmm, tastes good as well."

The glow of the fire illuminated the antics and Patwin drifted his gaze from warrior to woman, warrior to woman, lids narrowing with consideration.

Yas sat, saying nothing as he listened to the others. He smiled when Kuwan approached, then watched Delsey as he pulled her down into his lap. His jaw tightened minutely but in the light of the dancing fire, it likely wouldn't be seen. He forced himself to relax as he looked at the flames. It had always been so between Delsey and Kuwan. He looked up, smiling until he noticed Patwin watching the two. Did the most stoic of braves have something on his mind?

Mat was over to get one of those rabbit pies before they were gone. He knew Patwin would be raiding it. He was on the quiet side so nothing unusual for him as he took up a spot and watched as he devoured the treat.

Kali scooted over as soon as Patwin made that motion. She wasn't sure if one of the twins was going to sit there or not but she probably would have squeezed in beside the more somber of the four braves in any case. She also made sure she grabbed two of those pies. One for Patwin and one for herself. A soft sigh escaped her as she finally sat, easing her aching back. Bending over the hides was always hard work.

That was unexpected as she let out a squeal for the surprise. Wet hair in his face but she had used a nice smelling soap she'd gotten in the Heathfield commons market. She laughed next swatting at him for certainly it was like a brother with his sister teasing. "You are silly," a new word she learned, "you would be better with the rabbit pie," she would wiggle her way off his lap but would sit there near all of them.

Patwin wasn't one to offer an excessive show of outward affection, so having Kali close was as good as it got around his clan brothers and Kuwan. He accepted the pie, features softening as he looked to his Kali, then back over to Kuwan and Delsey. "How is Con-ore, Kuwan?" He brought up his pie and took a bite, releasing his stick, and relaxing back into a similar stance as Delsey, his supporting arm behind Kali.

Delsey struggled to keep her where she was, making a show of that scramble to claim his prize, but he wouldn't force her to be where she didn't wish to be. After all, he had been gone for some time. Things for her had ... changed. Speaking of. "Con-ore?" He repeated, glancing over to Patwin, then back to Kali. "What type of ore is this?"

Con-Ore? It took Yas a moment before he realized who Patwin meant. He looked at Kuwan then at Patwin. "Quinn?" He just looked at Delsey and chuckled. It would take time for Delsey to get things right but Patwin could correct Delsey if he was so inclined.

Kali gave her sister a warm smile, then waited for her to answer the question. She didn't expect Patwin to do more then he was, but she could lean against him. And did!

She was about to answer Patwin but Delsey's remark had her laugh. "It is Conor and he is back with his brothers. All has gone well in their mission back to their mother country. He came to let me know." So it was all innocent as she slid a glance to Patwin. Hard to tell how he felt about the man but she would never ask. Instead, she took a bite of a rabbit pie and enjoyed the companionship. Although she felt more alone now that Kali was gone out of what was their wigwam. Such was life and she really didn't know where she stood with Conor anyway. Their relationship was not at any point she could say more on.

Whether Kuwan could say or not, Patwin had seen the man when he came for Kuwan. The Quinn was anxious. Eager. It was probably good the warrior had not seen how he looked ... at...her. With Yas' question, Patwin made eye contact with the future leader and a single nod was the answer. "He sought her out, here on the island. Waited for her at her sacred place. I brought him there so he'd not wander about in search of her. His purpose was Kuwan." His voice lowered to what could almost be described as a growl. "His purpose ... is ... Kuwan."

Delsey's brows raised with the conversation underway. "Conor. Quinn." He spoke the name, as if by doing so it was set firmly in his mind. "I would meet this man who seeks out our Butterfly, and must endure the temperament of Patwin to do so." Delsey wagged a finger at Kuwan. "You keep your secrets much too deep, Kuwan. We are none of us here an island by ourselves, but grains of sand that make up an island, all together." Mixed emotions assaulted the man. How was he supposed to feel about this information? He'd have to spend some time searching out the answers.

Yas had always known how Delsey felt about Kuwan. And he had dealt with that. Conor had been the same though for a time, he was uncertain what had been happening there. "He works for Mat and my uncle, Maurice, making saddles, other things with leather. It is good he sought you out, Kuwan. I know you would worry." He reached for one of the rabbit pies then, maybe to keep his mouth occupied and his words to himself.

Kali didn't say a word because she wasn't sure why this was a concern. She would ask Patwin later. She looked at Kuwan and smiled, trying to let her know that she wasn't alone, even if she felt she was.

Her brows lifted as the pie was lowered to her lap. "Yes, his purpose was to let me know that they did well and were back safe." Was there more implication in Patwin's tone? Certainly sounded like it. "If he had more intentions, you would not approve?" So maybe she could find out some from him. Here Patwin sat quite content in his love for Kali and one that was returned. He would not wish the same for her if it were even possible? She blinked Delsey's way, which was more up and to the side. "I have no secret where Conor Quinn is concern than we are friends." So they had kissed but the white man didn't hold a lot to that.

It was a good thing Patwin couldn't read her mind. To know she thought of the white man's kiss as something so meaningless and empty...and that Conor Quinn had dared to share such an intimate act with so flippant an attitude to Kuwan's way of thinking. Ore wouldn't be deep enough to bury the body of Conor Quinn. Patwin set his pie aside. That, in itself, spoke volumes. This was serious to him. Kuwan's well being and happiness had always been serious to him. "I do not know the man. I do not trust the man. I do not ... like .. the man. He does not know our ways and draws you into his. He has not joined our fires and yet, you go to him and seek out his clan." He would take Kuwan away from them. That...was really the crux of his concern. He really wasn't the best at expressing himself. All of them would realize that.

Delsey remained quiet while the warrior snarled out his comments. Every male around the fire knew how Delsey felt about Kuwan. Since they were young, each of them had shared their heart interests, even if it was the cause for ridicule or jealousy. And still yet, if any of them would wish Kuwan her greatest joy, it would be Delsey. "Were I this Conor, I would not wish to have to attempt to eat in the presence of one who could turn my stomach to acid and my food to bitterness with his foul mood either." He pulled his gaze from the protective brave to Kuwan. "If he is but a friend, it is good that you have him as such. If he could be more than a friend, I would wish you to have him as such. But do bring him amongst us either way, Kuwan. It is best." He scrunched up his nose and jerked his head toward Patwin who had just grunted with Delsey's response. "If he can not deal with the likes of a mother bear, he should not be playing near the cub." Yes. Delsey had just called Patwin a mother bear. The serious warrior would just have to deal.

And Patwin thought Yas should be leader? He watched the two braves spar with words then glanced at Mat who had been silent. He then looked at Kuwan. "You understand Patwin's concern? It is also mine. If Conor intends to see you more, then he should come here and meet the People. The Elders. Even if you remain as friends, it would ease concerns." His lips twitched slightly as he added. "Of course, I'm not certain if I dislike the man or not." Yes he did know but he was trying to not pass judgement based on his own feelings.

No judgement based on feelings? Who was the true leader after all?

Yas would deny it.

Patwin would argue the denial.

Delsey would encourage the argument.

Oh yes, she was going to argue for the man even if nearly in tears for how this all sounded. Accusing her on assumptions, judging him. "If you do not know the man, then how can you not like him?" There had to be a basis to like or not like someone and as he said, he didn't know the man. "Maybe it would be good for you to get to know the man. I will invite him to our fire." That would settle it as she blinked back the sting in her eyes. There was a turmoil of emotions in her that now coiled into a knot as she stood, leaving the unfinished pie behind and walked about the fire, arms crossing over her stomach. She would not even bring Matron Mother Quinn into this conversation as her visiting, as that would be an insult to her. She knew what her heart felt but she didn't know how Conor felt. She knew she might have to face she was just another woman to him, although one he didn't mind kissing. This inquiry was only making her doubts deeper but feeling like she was being judged negatively. There was a slight smile Delsey's way for trying to lighten the situation. Delsey also referred to her as being a cub. One that could not take care of herself. "Patwin's concern," speaking now of him as if he was not there, "is more of presumptions and veiled threats on a man he has admitted not knowing." So the temper was starting to rise as she paused to face them on the opposite side of the fire.

"It would be good for us to know him. You know these four will trust no one until they meet him. And this one," She nudged Patwin though she smiled at him. "Is the most stubborn of all." And he knew it. "It is because we love you that we worry." And with her little addition added, she reached for another pie. Even with all the words, she was enjoying them very much!

Another growled out grunt with Kali's bump. He would not like whom he chose to not like and he needed not to have a reason except he did not choose to like them. "I will not make veiled threats, Kuwanyauma. If he hurts you, I will flay him, peel off his muscle and toss his wet bones to the dogs. Whether his heart beats or not during the process." A firm nod but then his tone softened just a tad. "I may do it if he even looks at you in a way that I don't approve of." Faint snort. "So if you invite him to our fire, remind him to keep his gaze lowered away from you for his own protection."

Delsey's comment about a cub had nothing to do with her not being able to defend herself so he would have no idea that he had insulted her with it. "...and remind me to sit as far from Patwin and this Conor as I possibly can. You can sit with me, Kuwan."

Yas looked toward Patwin as he spoke then watched Kuwan as she stood there like some goddess of the fire. He glanced at Delsey and shook his head. He was right in one way. It could be dangerous to sit near Patwin if he decided to move quickly. And he would if he became angry enough. "None of us wish you to be angry with us, Kuwan. It is only that we wish you not to be harmed." He rubbed at his eyes. "Perhaps wrongly. But we will protect you, as we would any of our own. You are one of us." Even if she left the island.

"We have come to new lands. We live amongst those of white skin and others. Do these arguments suggest that I am not allowed to love outside our tribe or be loved by one not of our clan?" Maybe that was the whole point here. Which she felt was greatly unfair. "And I will warn you, you do Conor Quinn harm over me in any degree, then you will have a clan of Quinns after you. This would only start another war between our people and those we are here to live amongst. This has nothing to do with losing our traditions, or I losing my traditions. There is no reason traditions can't live side by side. I thought we left such behind us." But it would seem she was wrong. "Conor Quinn will not harm me." Hearts could be broken but she didn't see him purposely doing that to her.

Mat was quiet, listening to all of this and with the decision not to get involved in such a conversation.

Patwin's dark gaze had narrowed to mere slits as she ranted. "There is no argument here, Kuwan. " He began, his voice steady and low. He meant what he said and he cared not if she liked it or if she didn't. She spoke her heart. He could do no less. "I am of the Bear, Kuwan. I do not need to be warned against this tribe of Quinn. If their honor flows so shallow, then they will come after me. Tell me they would not do the same for one of theirs...and I will know their nature. You can love or be loved by any man you chose, Sister. But this is not about love, you said so. If this man would spend time with you, he would spend time with us." A smooth motion of hand indicated those around the fire. "Until he does...I do not know him. I do not trust him. I do not ... like him. And it will be the way with any man who would spend time with any female of the Bear." It was his turn to shift to the side and stand, looking across the fire to her. "Figure out what he is to you, Napayshni, so that we may know what he is to you. Otherwise, he is what we chose him to be." Once more around that gathering flame his gaze drifted, then lowered to look to Kali. "Tend to your sister and then come tend to me." His nod and then he walked away. Patwin wasn't the kindest, or the most diplomatic, but he was one that would stand firm and strong for any within this clan of Bear.

Delsey had waited in silence while the two had it out, his head dipped, his fingers tugging at his bottom lip while he listened. He then watched as Patwin's determined stride carried him away. The once lost and now returned shifted his attention back to Kuwan. "I would prefer you chose a brave from within our clan, but..." He shrugged with a smile her way. His was for selfish reasons that would be adapted for Kuwan's greater good. "But the Spirit guides as we need, not as we prefer. But always for the good. Will you join me come the daylight to seek out some of the larger shells that wash ashore during the night, Kuwan? I've promised the children some for painting, I could use the extra hands."

Yas stood after Patwin and watched him leave then looked at Kuwan. "There are no white men on this island." He and his brother were not pure blood but they were of the Bear. The others here were mostly of Bear, some of other clans but none were white. They had isolated themselves in a sense when they came to the island for the comfort and protection of their people. The Ones at the manor were not fully human. Perhaps that would change in time. "All we ask is to have him here, as a guest. It would be good to know the man beyond his name." He nodded at her then at Kali. Delsey was the one to handle this it seemed and Kali. He looked at Mat before he too turned and walked away, though not toward his tent. He was not ready to rest.

Kali watched Patwin and finally stood, moving over to her sister. Everything would be fine eventually. It just would take time. "All will be well," she whispered softly to her heart sister then fell silent so she could answer Delsey.

She didn't like it. Not one bit. And for the first time she was actually getting to dislike someone. She could understand their concern but this cross over to something else being there was no indication of foul play he was acting upon with his words, with his threats. "I think maybe it would be better not to have him here for it seems your mind is set to do him harm, Patwin. You talk about honor but you're not showing much of it yourself." All of a sudden she felt bad for Kali but this was the man her sister loved. "With your attitude, he may well not like you once you meet. You are not the Leader of this clan to decide such laws." He was speaking as if he had such clout. "I am done with this conversation." To Patwin as he walked away, "Kali, tend to your husband." Trying not to sound harsh and gave her a quick hug. She didn't need tending to as he ordered of her sister. Attention turned upon Delsey, "it would seem all would be happier with me if I was with one of our clan than an outsider." She paused as she tried to cool her temper. "I will help you with the shells." Something she did anyway. Then to Yas she turned, "I will ask him to come but I will warn him of this night and words spoken." She felt that was only fair. There was a last glance between them before she spun on a heel and headed away too, intent on taking a walk and cooling her rising temper down.

She was talking, he wasn't hearing. All those words carried into the air. He had determined when the conversation was finished. He didn't say one thing that made it appear to anyone but Kuwan that he felt he was any leader. He only spoke what was true to himself. It was also a darn good thing that he hadn't heard her flog his sense of honor. He would have been saddened with her shift of allegiance and her determination to find him lacking because of his love for her. It was better... he had walked away.

Delsey stood as the others did, watching as his sister offered to Kuwan what Kuwan did not feel she needed. "Not all...just me. But I have my reasons, Kuwan." A kiss in the air toward her and it was his turn to leave. "First light, or else we'll lose the best ones to the kids themselves. And if so, what sort of hero would I then be?" He lifted a hand as he walked away from Mat and Kali and Kuwan. This had been some night. Conor Quinn. Yes. This was someone he would be seeking out...and soon.

Mat was left there after they had all gone. Watching each in that silent way of his before he was up, taking the basket of rabbit pies with him and in the direction his twin had taken.

Kali had yet to leave though it seemed she had been dismissed, forgotten. She sighed and tended to the fire, making sure it did not burn too hot, sending sparks that could cause fire. For a moment, she stood there, worrying her lower lip as she considered the evening. Finally she turned from the fire to seek out the one in whose arms she would find consolation, and perhaps give some in return..


Date: 06-28-12
Poster: Kuwan
Post # 51

Conor's Visit

Kuwan had dressed her best for the excursion into town. There were things needed and this was a good opportunity to stop by the Quinn residence. She was lucky that Conor was there and that she got to visit with Mother Quinn. In privacy as Mary had disappeared conveniently, she asked Conor to join her, them, at their fire this evening if he didn't have any plans. She also paused and warned him before he accepted, about Patwin's attitude and the remarks that he had never joined them yet. Not that he had any real opportunity until now. She wore the lighter leather, skin showing about her waist, long hair in a few braids woven with flowers that would soon be discarded as they wilted. He may well realize how upset she was over Patwin and his words, although now bearing with them and extending the offer. She was pleased he had accepted and soon they were crossing the expanse of shallow ocean water by ferry to the island.

Kuwan needn't be so concerned. Conor had realized that Patwin had not really cared for his visit to her once the Quinns returned from Ireland. Did that stop him? Hellno. Did that keep him from bringing her back to Clearview? Definitely not. Would it make the evening unpleasant? Eh...not for Conor and hopefully not for Kuwan. Granted, he didn't enjoy the whole channel crossing, but they were soon on solid ground and continuing on to the Indian village.

The camp was aware of the arrival before they reached the island. There were watchers on the cliffs overlooking the beach area, and runners went from there to the village. The evening meal was nearly ready and it was Milip, the Shaman, who had adopted the twins who announced they would have guests. Kirima sent word to any of the tribe that was not in the village, using the fastest youngsters to do so. They would welcome Kuwan and her guest as was proper. Dekanawida, still war chief, though that title was no longer needed, would be waiting at the path into the village to greet and escort. It wasn't often they had outsiders as guests but they were grateful to the people of Heathfield for allowing them the land of Ashford Island as their home. Of course, the sight of a white man wouldn't be new to them. Xander McDonough visited his sons often.

There was a nice hue of rose upon bronze cheeks as well dark eyes had a light in them not always seen. They walked side by side and certainly there would have been a lot more 'talk' if they had walked hand in hand. Dekanawida was greeted properly and Conor introduced before he escorted them into the village and the main fire that burned brightly. She had made rabbit pies earlier to add to the festivities, the clan, most of them, all ate around the big fire outside when possible and there was a main wigwam they ate in otherwise. She stole glimpses Conor's way to see how he was taking this all in.

Mat was already at the Fire before the arrival and he spoke of the ship that would be coming to the Heathfield port with a few new braves and maidens in the near future. Perhaps there would be one... he dared to reflect then dashed it away with a grumble.

Conor greeted the impressive war chief and started to offer his hand, but the man had turned and was leading on. At times, he shared Kuwan's looks, other times he just glanced her way with no eye contact. There were quite a few gathered for this meal. And he thought the Quinns set out a spread and fed many.

Since the majority of the clan had gathered with word of the arrival and that the meal would soon begin, Delsey had already taken a stance of waiting near the fire. When Kuwan and the dark-haired man joined them, a cant of head, an down-up assessment, and he smiled. The male didn't look to be one to take any unkind words to Kuwan lightly and while he may answer questions, this Conor Quinn might just give as good as he got if he was pushed. He had said he wouldn't be sitting near Patwin or Conor. Delsey changed his mind. Might be better to sit close enough to one of prevent any possible confrontations. Subtle or blatant.

Patwin stood off from the majority, though still close enough to be considered a member of the evening. When the couple showed up behind Dekanawida, he reached over and caught Kali by the wrist, and started them forward. He wasn't the leader. He never felt himself to be. Patwin was a warrior, nothing more, nothing less and as guff as that made him, he was sure of himself in this. If he didn't like something. You'd know it. If he did like may just not. Conor Quinn. He did not like. And everyone knew it even without Patwin saying a word.

"Welcome to our Fire, friend of Kuwanyauma." Kirima spoke as Elder of the Tribe. "You are welcome among the Clan of the Bear. I am Kirima. To my right is Milap, Shaman of the Bear. To my left is Dekanawida. We are the Elders of the Clan." Among others but they were the leaders. "There are many here, but I will give you the name of the ones who brought us to this land. Yaskitchi, Matoskah, Patwin, Kaliska and Delsey." Perhaps Delsey hadn't exactly been one of those but it had been intended. She named some others then smiled. "The rest will greet you as they will. We are glad to be able to share our feast with you this eve." She motioned for them to sit near Milap before nodding. The maidens of the Tribe began to serve as Milap helped Kirima sit, then nodded for all to do the same.

Yas had met Conor, though their meeting was brief. He nodded at the man but said nothing, having arrived only minutes before Kuwan and Conor had entered the camp. He took his place beside Dekanawida and waited until they were given the signal to sit. It wasn't a common thing but they had a guest and would be slightly more formal. He glanced at his twin and his brothers briefly, then at Kali, giving her a wink.

Kali no longer served during the dinners, though she offered Patwin choice bits of her own meal at times. Tonight she was trying to be serious, though dark eyes twinkled merrily. She nearly giggled when he grabbed her wrist but didn't because he'd give her that look! She did smile though, especially when Yas winked at her.

Mat gave a nod to both Kuwan and Conor. The latter with a look to linger but he didn't have an unpleasant look either. More curious. He sat next to his brother and once served he began to eat. This was no different than any other meal in his opinion. They shared with many.

Kuwan usually sat near Kali but decided it was better to choose a neutral area for this evening. She would not be serving this night either as she took up a seat where they were not across from Patwin and her blood sister either. Neutral meaning they would miss most of Patwin's frowns. She too offered Conor choice bits of meat and side dishes for he was her guest. It was the first for her doing this she realized.


Date: 07-10-12
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 52

The Gathering

Conor made himself comfortable, watching as Kuwan served him before he lifted his gaze and searched the perimeter of the fire. The Twins. The one called Delsey. The warchief. The elders. The others. And then, he noticed that, even though Kuwan had initially positioned herself so that Patwin and his wife would have to sit further away from their immediate view, the warrior had 'convinced' some people to shift their positions and the man and woman had taken up a place directly across from him. Conor dipped his chin toward the brave, received the same silent return, then looked back over to Kuwan. "It smells wonderful."

The gathering was a large one. But Delsey had strategically placed himself midway to the right between Kuwan and her guest and left of Patwin and his sister. The twins had managed the same on the other side of the fire. If all proceeded as it should, the evening would be quite enjoyable. If something went afoul, then Patwin would have to dive over the flames to reach whatever it may be that set him off. Granted. They all knew what that 'something' would be.

While Kali served him, Patwin watched through the rising smoke of the center fire, saw Kuwan treating the man as if she were his chosen rather than allowing the maidens to tend to him. He pinched up some meat, dark eyes reflecting the red of embers with his study, and brought that squeezed, juicy morsel between his lips and teeth.

Yas glanced at his twin then toward Delsey. Whether he wanted to be involved or not, he would have no choice should Patwin go after Conor. It would not be good for the Bear Clan to treat a guest badly but he knew that wouldn't stop their brother. And likely it would take all three of them to hold him if he was mad enough. He started to eat, doing his best to enjoy the food. Conversation was light, with laughter, though the tension was surely felt by all. He glanced at the Elders who seemed to be unaware but he knew better.

Kali touched Patwin's arm lightly, just a flutter of a touch and nothing more. She knew how he felt, had talked to him in private. He made no promises, nor did she expect him to, concerning this visit. But it was her hope all would go well tonight at least.

Mat could feel the tension mounting and purposely rattled off a few words in his native tongue that had that tension feed the fire in an attempt to nullify it. Oh, the fire would blaze up every so often but luckily it would just seem to be the breeze about the island so far that played with it. Yas would know what he was up to and most likely one particular Elder. He dug in as he was served, the fair maidens of the tribe trying to win a look or any notice from the twins and Delsey. Certain ones on each but they all seemed more distracted than usual.

Kuwan was enjoying this. Serving Conor as such was not common but yet not uncommon either to treat a guest in such a special way. At first she didn't notice that Patwin had changed seats to put him directly across from her and Conor. It wasn't until the hair on the back neck prickled that had dark eyes looking up as she offered yet another tender piece of roasted boar. There was a foreboding defiance there in her eyes to meet steadfast with Patwin's. He may have rights and claim over Kali but he had none such over her. Never had she expected this confrontation from the warrior that might be expected more of one that could claim the right of rival for her affections. The lock of eyes was long enough, only a few seconds but such could not be measured by time, before she was back tending to Conor and finally eating as well.

Unlike Kuwan, Conor Quinn completely understood that look which skewered him from across the way. It had nothing to do with rights or claims. It had nothing to do with power or jealousy. It had all to do with protection. It wasn't uncomfortable for him, it was almost a relief that all of the men closest to Kuwan cared enough about her to ... want to kill him. As long as that possibility didn't turn into a reality. The youngest Quinn male in Jaxon's brood would attempt not to cross any unrealized lines of 'ahhellnah you didn't just'. But the thing about those lines? You really didn't know you had crossed them, until your toe bumped up against the opposition. And then, oh well, 'ahhellyea, I did. My bad'. Now what? "I've heard you were hit rather hard with the hurricane. You'd never know to look around. It seems you're well settled here." His gaze dropped and he brought up one of those perfectly cooked and tender pieces of meat and offered it over to Kuwan to eat from his fingertips as he'd seen some of the other men doing.

Delsey was fine with the way things were progressing. The Quinn man appeared kind enough, caring enough, careful enough ... Delsey's eyes widened and he wiped his fingertips free of any grease on his pant legs. Take that back. Kind, caring ... but careful? With that offer of food to Kuwan's lips even the pleasant mannered Delsey felt his shoulders tighten. But that might have to do with the impending need to launch himself across a fire to tackle a brother mixed with, of course, his own feelings toward Kuwan and the Quinn's actions.

Patwin had just sucked his thumb free of some juice when Conor spoke and then ... toe/line/nonexistent. An instant sweep of the gathering around the fire with his gaze and he growled out a comment that only Kali might hear before he spoke aloud, reaching across to place a piece of meat from his plate to Kali's. "We can take care of our own, Con-nor, and do. We have survived much and we do so because we are none of us alone, but a part of a whole and stronger with each other. We do you say..." His lips thinned with thought then he spoke again. "Devoted. Devoted?" He looked over to Kali for confirmation of the right word, but not for long, because he looked back at Conor. "Devoted to those among us."

Conor nodded, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Aye. I can understand that. I do completely." And then some!

The elder Twin watched Kuwan's actions with lifted brow, glancing at the others to see their reactions. "We have recovered well. It is as Patwin has said. Because we are devoted to our Clan, our way of life." He smiled slightly and did not look in Patwin's direction. "Patwin is one of the Keepers of our Tradition. He sees that we do not lose our way of life." He lowered his eyes a moment then lifted them again, this time looking at Kuwan. The Elders merely watched, allowing those who would take their places to attend to the newcomer.

Kali accepted the meat with a smile though what Patwin said had her blinking. She chewed the morsel quietly, listening as Patwin spoke, then Yas and finally she looked up at Conor. He seemed a good man and she was certain Patwin would come to realize it in time, or things could get very, very bad.

That proclamation by his brother had Mat giving Yas an odd look. Were they all not keepers of tradition but as times changed so would some of those traditions but not the Core of them. The fire flared high to the point the Elders made a motion of hand that it be of the Good Spirits with such power.

Kuwan took that bit of a morsel that was offered, not overly but certainly daring. Words came low to Conor, "they will have you married off to me if you offer me any more." It would seem that most eyes were upon her and Conor as her shoulders straightened, "have you not better things to attend to such as your own food.." not really a question but certainly it was rude to stare unless they were making a challenge on Conor.

Within the fold of the Bear, they all had their parts to play. It was the way of the generations. As the elders faded into the spirit way, the youngers progressed to take up the torch. And while they all would strive to remain steadfast to their traditions, change was inevitable and the burden of shaman and leader and protector, healer, arbitrator and historian would transfer to those who had not expected the honor but who had been blessed and chosen by the Great Spirits to assume it. It was not Kuwan's words but her tone that had Patwin grunt. "I do, and I am." He shifted to his hip and stood, offering a bow of head and torso to the elders one by one. Even the basest of the chosen was as important as the highest called, one could not survive without the other. Patwin had not missed the flare and ebb of the flames. "Con-nor, walk with us. Then we will return to finish the meal. When the fire does not burn so hot." Patwin ran his fingers along the back of Kali's head and started around behind everyone to make his way toward Conor. "Us...the four of us." He looked down to Kuwan. "If Kuwan dares to spare you for the time needed."

Yas stood when Patwin spoke of four, knowing that things would be kept to a minimum of blood loss should conversation become heated. He stayed where he was until Conor and Kuwan both answered. When he glanced at Miliap, the twins' father nodded. Yas crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the fire.

Kali was surprised when Patwin stood but smiled to herself. He was full of surprises and she felt this might be the best way for them to settle things. She was certain it wouldn't end in bloodshed... for now at least. The touch had her smiling fully and she watched him as he spoke and waited for Conor.

Conor remained seated a moment more after Patwin spoke, his hand lifting behind Kuwan to stroke against her back. When the dark warrior approached them, he rolled to a stand as well. "Kuwan dares much where I'm concerned it seems and endures even more." Quinn eyes held warrior eyes before Conor offered a slight cant and then bent toward Kuwan, touching his lips to her cheek. He whispered close to her ear as his lips left the contact of her skin. "I do not
deserve to spend time with you if I can not hold my own against only four of your closest kin, Kuwan." He straightened then. "Let's walk."

Mat was up to join the 'four' and at least he would help to keep order, keep anyone from throwing blows. If there was a challenge to be laid down, then it would have to be by tradition. He would be the guardian.

She was asked but Conor already agreed before she could get in a word edge wise. She didn't like any of this, she didn't like being the 'cause' but yes, as Conor put it, she had become very daring of late. Perhaps Conor had built some confidence in her without even knowing. She was very much aware of Conor's touch but she was also very much aware of all that was going down as she gave no outward signs. She would not fuel their fire. She rose nearly as Conor did, giving them only a slight dip of her head before heading over to keep Kali company. She didn't say anything at this point.

Since none of them were threatened by such an act as staring like the white man, it was more than likely that Patwin was just waiting. Delsey would go along because it was good for this Con-Ore to get to know Kuwan's brothers. Not because he thought there might be blows thrown, because, if there were, it would be between Patwin and Conor only. There would be nothing traditional about it except for the fact that Conor might say something...offhand...and Patwin would fly hand. Their history was enough to prove that blood had been shed for less in the past. Delsey snagged a torch in passing and joined the others.

Patwin looked around to his brothers then to Kuwan. He offered her a nod. A promise? Or his gratitude? She could decipher that on her own. The five of them wandered off into the woods. Man time. Bonding time. Intentions and retributions time.

Yas looked at Mat and Delsey and gave them both a slight smile and a shrug. He had no idea what Patwin had planned but it should prove interesting. One torch would be enough for the Braves. Would it for Conor? He glanced back at the Clan but they were acting as if nothing was wrong, a fact that had him smiling. They trusted the four Braves.

Mat looked at Yas, then Delsey and lastly Patwin right next to Conor. He was expressionless and quiet as usual. That part was in his nature as this talk was going to be mostly between Patwin and Conor, possibly Delsey.. less possibly Yas for he was not aggressive. He would speak if there was something for him to speak up on.

They didn't go far into the trees, just enough so that their discussion would not disturb the meal underway around the fire. A fire which had calmed considerably once the men took their leave. The glow of torch could still be seen from any chance looks into the depths of shadows. Conor stood in the middle of the men, arms hanging limp at this sides, checking out the faces that were set aglow by the torchlight. "I really do care for Kuwan, gentlemen." He started, and he left it at that.


Date: 07-10-12
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 53

Patwin didn't stop immediately when they reached their destination, he walked a little farther until Conor spoke, then he turned and walked right up to the man, practically nose to nose. Personal space was never a dispute among their people. Really, the pale men were the only ones that preferred an arms length of perimeter in order to feel secure. They seemed to demand more space than what was really needed for themselves. "And do we. Do you care more than we do?"

Delsey reached out a hand, grasping Patwin by the upper arm although he didn't encourage him to step away or to back down. It was more a gesture of silent support. The twins may not feel as strongly about this issue. Delsey had his reasons and Conor was the only one in this group who didn't know them. Still the brave did not dislike the Quinn man because of those reasons. The Great Spirit had a direction for them all and that included Kuwan and Delsey. The time away was part of that plan. Delsey accepted that, and he also accepted after time passed with her in his life again, that theirs seemed to be a different walk than what had begun when they were younger.

Yas hadn't expected to stop so close to the camp but he turned on a heel and watched Patwin approach Conor. He watched Delsey as well, then looked at Conor. "There's no doubt of your feelings for her, but as our brother said, do you care more than we do? We would give our lives for her. Since childhood, she has been a sister to us," and more but he didn't add that, "and we will not see her hurt. In any way." He fell silent again, crossing his arms over his chest.

Mat was out of the loop in a way on this. Although he knew where his brother was coming from. Where Delsey was coming from. Patwin spoke as a brother and actually Conor was lucky they were level headed or he would be in a lot of trouble. Probably challenged in a fight to the death by one that held more than sisterly affection for the woman. He stood off to the side and would watch to see how this played out.

Conor didn't miss the fact that three of the four were close, that one was setting himself apart. He was well aware of what they were implying. Knew it was coming. Had expected it. "Not more than you, no." Nose to nose, he didn't look Yas' way when that man spoke. At the moment, he kept his attention on the one closest. Too damn close. "And not as you. You all share something I wish not to take away. Who Kuwan is has come from her time with you. I would not have her change, I have for some time been intrigued with this woman you call sister because ...of who she is." It was true, Conor really needed more space than Patwin was allowing, but he didn't insist on it. Yet. "I would not see her hurt and...." He turned his head, Patwin's nose practically tucking in his ear as he did. He could actually hear the man breathing. "Not that you need my permission, but hell, if I'm ever at fault for her hurt you can have full at me. But only after...she has."

Patwin snorted, that too was in Conor's ear, and he took a step back, adding a grunt to that snort that sounded like a name. And that name was... "Delsey."

Delsey's hand had fallen away when Patwin stepped back and with his name spoken, or grunted, or growled, however you'd like to describe that sound, his brows lifted. But he nodded, stepping up to Conor. He stared at the man a moment, drew in a deep breath, then brought up his hand and with the speed and strength he was known for, brought the back of his hand across Conor's jaw, causing the man's head to snap to the side. "That will help you remember our talk." Plus, it made Delsey feel a little better. No matter his mantra of being okay with Kuwan's choice, that sure felt good.

Conor brought his hand up, working his jaw back and forth at the chin and cast his gaze around the group again. "Sure as hell will."

Yas bit back a laugh though he did allow another slight smile to appear. He nodded at Conor. "Good. We would not want you to forget." He hadn't raised a hand, probably wouldn't have to. But he certainly wouldn't stop the others.

"Now that you will not forget this talk, you will prove that you are man enough for Kuwan for there are ones that are such men.." but he let anything else go of that point and continued with his main point. "You will come bear hunting with us." Which was a ritual of men. Some in passing to manhood but this would be proof he was worthy of one of theirs.

Still working his jaw, Conor looked over to the one that had secluded himself away from the gathering. "Bear?" Uhm. Okay. Shit. Man enough...for Kuwan? That statement hit next. Did they think he was ... thinking of ... was he at that point in his fondness for her? They sounded like they were getting ready to marry them off! "Just tell me when."

Patwin hadn't moved far, just enough to allow Delsey to step up and relieve any wanting for Kuwan. "You will continue to we all do."

Delsey gave his hand a shake and stepped back a pace. His head dipped, as if he was considering something that was best not seen in his gaze there in the torch he held in his other hand. When he brought up his chin, he looked past them all toward where the people had gathered. "I'm hungry." He muttered to himself, but not really, all would hear, and there was a touch of humor to his tone.

"We will have a session in the sweat lodge as well. Smoke. Talk." It was another rite of passage. Conor would learn about the Bear Clan as they learned about the people of Heathfield on their arrival. He did laugh when he heard Delsey. "Come then. I think our talk is concluded." He looked at Conor, and nodded. He had kept his temper even after Delsey had struck him. Now to see if Kuwan did the same if the man bruised.

They were more cut and dry about their women. They either wanted them or not for their wife. They used to offer gifts to any surviving parent for their hand. They only showed that kind of extended interested only if they were seriously interested and the affection was return once the first step was taken. It was clear to him that Kuwan return his affection just by feeding him the choice pieces of meat during their dinner. He knew why Delsey hit the man and it had him sliding a look to Yas, perhaps he should do the same. He could do the other side of Conor's jaw. There would be no mistaking him not remembering this talk and talks to come.

Conor wouldn't be so quick to make a decision regarding the rest of his life, or the life of another. Love and life was not cut and dry in his opinion. His brothers may be more like the Indians in that respect than Conor was. Like his leather, the best results always came with time and patience and carefully applied attentions. He wouldn't rush himself. And he sure wouldn't rush Kuwan. No matter how much bear he might have to down, or sweat he might have to produce or slaps he might have to endure. As far as his jaw was concerned at that, it was perhaps good that Kuwan had chosen the more tender pieces of meat for him. Maybe she knew all along what might transpire tonight. With a half smile, he nodded to Yas but he waited for the brothers to lead the way, just as they had in, they would out.

Patwin watched and listened with that stone exterior. No expression except...Patwin. When their leader declared their next course, he jerked off a nod of acceptance. Delsey led the way with the torch and Patwin stepped in behind.

Not the leader! He hadn't suggested the walk or the hunt! He allowed Conor to follow after Delsey and Patwin, bringing up the rear with his brother. Kuwan should be relieved to see Conor in one piece. The Elders would certainly be glad the Tsvsgino had not been harder on the man.

"The hunt will be in a week's time." So Conor had a head's up. They needed intense hunting so they had the furs and food for the winter. Mat fell in behind the others as he realized he was not done eating for he was still hungry.

When Conor returned, he realized that Kuwan wasn't where he had left her, and for an instant, he made a frantic search around the fire. But there she was with Kali and he drew in a deep breath. He offered her a nod of 'alls well' and invited her over to him with a wiggle of his fingers.

Patwin walked around the people, once again offering the elders a dipped head of respect before he joined Kali. But he didn't sit, he bent to speak close to her ear. "I'm hungry." and with that said, he lowered his hand to her so she could take it and come with him. He may have used the same words Delsey had earlier but his hunger would be addressed within the privacy of his and Kali's home.

Yas took his seat again once they reached the camp. Some were finished but most would linger. The Elders would tell a tale tonight, for Conor as much as the others, likely of the beginning of the world, and how the Clan came to be. Yas might not listen, his thoughts elsewhere. Some of the mothers were gone already, settling the youngest for sleep. He did smile when one tiny girl protested leaving. Not with tears, but by sitting again. Her mother carried her away, whispering soft words.

Kali tipped her head to listen to Patwin and smiled, a soft blush coming to her cheeks. She stood as she curled her fingers around his and inclined her head to the Elders. She touched her hand to Kuwan's shoulder, then she and her husband would disappear for their own wigwam.

Kali and she had not spoken much for being in public but it had been comforting for her to be with her sister of heart. As soon as Patwin and the others returned, she rose to vacate the spot she'd taken that was his. A sliding glance his way in passing but nothing spoken before dark eyes turned on Conor and his invitation to join her. They had not scared him away, in that she let out a silent breath of relief. "Are you hungry?" Although she noted the redness on the one side of his face along his jaw. She didn't ask at the moment and would see if he said anything. Men were strange in their ways and a woman found it was best not to ask, for most things anyway.

Mat took his usual spot and started up right were he left off as if nothing had transpired at all.

To answer her question, Conor first offered Kuwan a wink and then a nod. "I am, quite, Kuwan." His gaze lifted over to Patwin as that man took his leave for the evening, drifting another time around those remaining. His hand reached out and caught hers and together they lowered to sit by what remained of the fire. He had to build up his strength, you know, for bear and sweat lodges and who the hell knew what else!

Yas finished his meal, then waited for the Elders to speak. Those who wished to remain to listen to the tales of the Clan could remain, while those that had duties and chores to do could leave. Most would stay, and there would be no clean up until the Elders had left so even the maidens could relax now. He stood and bowed to the Elders, then looked at Conor and Kuwan, inclining his head slightly before he glanced at Delsey and Mat. Turning on a heel, he headed out of the camp. He had traps to check.

Wearing war paint that would not come off easily. A hand lifted as fingers touched lightly against his jaw before lowered again. "Do you wish to stay and listen to the stories of old or take a walk along the shore," words were lowered in that if he chose the latter they could talk more openly. Then too, it would be to his credit if he stayed to listen to the stories .. then took the walk. If it was not too late.

Mat was up once he was done, he knew all the stories by heart and then some. He had some work to do at his sacred site and would walk with his brother for a short time before getting there. A respectful dip of his head given, was all that was needed, before he too took his departure.

Delsey remained, he could never hear the stories enough even if he could recite them with as much enthusiasm as the elder speaking. He had stretched out, several of the children using him for story-time cushioning, and there he would remain until the evening drew to its end.

"Let's do both. For the moment this, Kuwan?" With a wink the woman's way, Conor and Kuwan remained too. The Quinn was intrigued with the story unfolding and wrapped his arm around Kuwan, drawing her to rest up against him while they listened. For all the aching of his jaw and the need to eat as much pride as he had meat tonight, he felt it had gone well enough. Tomorrow, however, would be another day. Until then. Until...then.


Date: 08-03-12
Poster: Matoskah
Post # 54

Time of the Year

It had been a hot, muggy day, much like one back in the homeland of the Clan. The weather was one reason the Clan had settled so quickly. Not even the hurricane last year could change that. Yas had gone hunting, then once the meat and skin was delivered to camp, he went off to do some fishing. Though harvest wouldn't be for a while yet, they were beginning to prepare for winter. After he set the fish up to be smoked, he left word that he was heading to Heathfield. He didn't take the ferry, but a canoe he had been working on since spring. It was easy enough to beach when he reached the city and he paid a lad to keep an eye on it while he was gone. After making some purchases, he headed for the Thistle for a meal and some drinking. And that's what he was doing, sitting in front of the hearth, drinking.

Mat had been on his own mission, to find the buffalo. It would be a trip north but there were buffalo up in the wild lands above Ballicastle. It would be a trip but not all that unlike the ones they took when in the Americas. Something he was looking forward to. He'd been down to the port's mercantile to buy spear heads which he would then alter to his liking but they would save time in making the spears. There were other supplies he got as well that would be needed. It didn't bother him if they were not hand made by himself as long as they were well made. Why it took him longer than most to buy anything. Once done he headed for the Thistle with the idea of a late meal and some drinking. Soon as he got near the place he sensed his brother was near and a good guess.. within. So he first checked through a window then sneaked in to pounce him at the best moment.

He put his drink down and stretched his arms over his head, then turned slightly waiting to catch his brother, so they would both tumble to the ground and wrestle around. Normal for the Thistle but perhaps not in a while. They'd roll around on the floor and hopefully not knock anything down or Hazel might come after them with a broom!

He let out a war cry that he probably should not have. Got the dogs barking outside, the cats screeching, trash cans tumbling as all hell broke loose in the alleyway. That had Hazel coming out from the kitchen with her broom and going right after the tumbling, rumbling, rolling brothers. Although one could tell she was laughing even with the swats and one given Alex for good measure before she headed back into her domain. That had Mat skiitering to his feet and oh the grin that swiped over his face.

Yas was laughing as he stood, pretending to cover his head, then his backside. Chuckling, he watched as she went back into the kitchen then looked at Mat. "Have you finished your errands? I bought dried beans and flour to be sent to the island. Some wool blankets as well."

"I have." After he stopped laughing with the swats they were given. He showed his brother one of the larger spear heads. "For the Buffalo Hunt," something they had talked about and would be taken Conor Quinn with them as per the discussion that night. Mat had not forgotten. "We will make sure he is worthy." He ordered some stew, that came with the brown bread he favored as well some of the pure. Taking the latter he was back over to a table to settle in and start enjoying the potcheen first.

Yas just grunted in answer to his comment about the hunt, and Conor Quinn. He put the chair up right, grabbed his drink and the bottle and joined Mat at the table. He didn't drink right away though, just ran his finger along the rim.

"You don't like this Con-ore," pronouncing it just like Patwin did and trying not to grin. But then he looked at his brother in that certain way, "you still have feelings for Kuwan?" Certainly Patwin didn't which was obvious for him being with Kali, but Delsey did and he was beginning to suspect that was the reason. Conor was an outsider, not of clan blood but he was of a respected family.

He looked up at Mat and shrugged. "No." He answered after a long moment. "At one time, yes, I had feelings for her but I would have never said anything because of Delsey. And then, Conor." He shrugged again. "The ways of the white man are only slightly different when it comes to a mate. She will leave the clan if it comes to marriage. That is the way of things. I do not like it but we cannot change where the heart leads."

"No we can't and we have to remember that our father is white. Different circumstances and outcome but what matters is if this man is true to her and loves her to keep her and not discard her for another. She will not be that far in leaving but if the heart is content then who are we to pick out who should be her husband for our convenience. I plan to keep our ways but I will not ignore new ways that might be better in some ways but if not, then I will not keep them."

He looked at Mat a long moment then shook his head. "I know our father is white. But at one time, I had thought she might care for me. It's disappointing but then again, I have little to offer." He picked up the glass. "And Kuwan has adjusted better then any of us to change."

That's when he punched him in the arm. Let it jostle, even spill his drink. "If you ever say that again I will send the shadow spirits on you. You have just as much to offer, if not more, than the next man." He was frowning in that serious way of his. "I thought maybe Kali and I could have something but it never even got started as Patwin got to her first." About the only way of putting it and he backed off. He shrugged a shoulder, "not like it even got a start but no matter, I don't feel I'm worthless to anyone." Then he grinned, "just think, many fall for the worthless ones.."

He put the drink back down, shaking off his hand and arm and looked at Mat. "I don't mean worthless as a man. But it doesn't matter since she is not in love with me." He snorted and shook his head. "I'm not worrying about love or marriage right now. We still have newcomers, still have much to do. Though, once we go on the hunt, I may make a spirit journey." He refilled his glass as he spoke. "It's been long overdue."

"Yes, there are newcomers and from other tribes that will become part of our tribe." Although he had some reservations on a particular one, he didn't voice such as there was nothing concrete as to the why. More a strange vibe. "There are pretty maidens amongst them but time will tell what they are like, where their hearts are. It is long overdue for your spirit journey and I will help in whatever way I can." He knew he was there for him, just as Mat knew Yas was there for him if needed too. He lifted his drink, "to spirit journeys and the buffalo hunt that will make men out of boys." As that was going to be part of the hunt for some of their young men.

"May we both survive it." He said it in jest though they both knew it could be dangerous. That was why it was such an important rite of passage. He took a long drink, before the glass was finally lowered. "Are the herds you found large?"

"Not like out on the plains but a good size. Not so big it would be more dangerous." It might be a rite of passage but he didn't like seeing young men pass into the next world for it. "I am going to stay here tonight and see about more equipment tomorrow." He had finished his meal and his drink and was starting to feel the weight of the day, tired.

"I think I will as well." Yas leaned back in his chair and studied his brother a moment. "The four of us will make sure the herd does not stampede in the wrong direction." That was only one danger of course, but it was enough. "And we will draw sticks to see who watches over Conor Quinn."


Date: 08-14-12
Poster: Matoskah
Post # 55

The Hunt

The Hunt was something traditional from their native lands and it was time to bring it back in these new lands. It was the Great Buffalo Hunt, a right of passage for young men and a time to honor their heritage for those who had already passed into manhood. Even the women would be preparing for their return with a great feast, a huge fire and there would be a special drink that would enhance their dance around this fire after they had thanked the spirits for a good hunt by eating well. A time to splurge when they conserved for the year. The Buffalo would bring them furs for the winter as well meat. Because they were in these new lands and of the Bear Clan it would be Bear hunted. Mat stripped off most of his clothing, painting his body and dressing his braids with feathers and strips of leather. If a man had a woman, then she did it for him as well helped to paint him. Unfortunately he did not. Although one of the tribe's maidens would help to pain this back where he could not reach. He knew Kuwan had offered to paint Conor being he would not know where to begin and it was important he be painted properly. Mules with wagons would be brought to carry the kill back. They hoped to have them filled. That would mean a good year coming, especially getting through winter which was the harshest.

Yas, like Mat, had stripped down to loincloth and little else. He braided his hair with feathers and a bear claw from his first hunt. The painting was a ritual to him, and he did most himself. He wore moccasins on his feet to protect them from stones. Conor could chose to wear the same, or whatever he was comfortable in, though Yas did insist on the same footwear. White man boots were made for noise, not for hunting the way they did. He glanced around and grinned at his brothers, then looked at Conor. "We will go when all are ready." He didn't say who lost the draw of sticks. Conor didn't need to know that. Once again, he checked his weapons, knives, spears, bow and arrow, then nodded to himself. He was as ready as he was going to be and he smiled to himself. He was as anxious as one of the younger braves.

Conor Quinn. Indian brave pretender. He had to pass on the loincloth, because, well, that was a bit more - or less as the case might be - than he was comfortable with. He did follow the lead and strip off his shirt, don the skinned boots, smear on the paint. Bear. Boar. Deer. How difficult could it be? Until the slim basket of quiver filled with arrows and the bow was handed to him. Test of manly skill? Hell. This was life and death. He was allowed his dagger tucked to his pants, leather chap like attire that was more a loincloth...with legs but it was more substantial than just the flap-your-nuts-in-the-breeze basics the others had on. Hmmm. He scanned the area, looking over the others with their spears, bows, axes, knives. Quite honestly, they made for a rather impressive crew. If only the bear and boar could be intimidated by looks alone. Conor...was fucked.

Patwin watched Conor prepare from beneath his lowered brow while the warrior saw to his own readiness. He jerked the blade of his knife a few more times over the tip of his spear then spit on the end of the sharpened tip, pinching his fingers toward the wooden point. The angle following actually pointed in Conor's direction whether the Quinn man realized it or not. He strapped the three he had sharpened to his back, along with his bow and arrow, a dagger at his waist, another leather tied to his biceps and one at his calf. He had not drawn that shortened straw, and all the better for Con-Ore.

This was a day for celebration for the Bear Clan would soon have enough meat, pelt, bone and fat to last their winter. Although Delsey was aware of Conor's presence, how could anyone not be, he rejoiced in the knowledge of what this truly stood for. The men of the Bear working together to provide for the whole. A clan. A tribe. A family. He tossed a few extra spears to one of the wagons, as well as tarp and rope, and walked over to Yas. "The beasts are willing, Brother, if perhaps reluctant, their spirits know the sacrifice to be made. Shall we continue to make them wait?"

Aside his hunting knife, Mat preferred the spear over bow and arrow even if he was well skilled with those too. They were all trained well when it came to hunting with any type of weapon, even to improvise when taken by surprise. They would take the ferry over to the main lands and had gotten permission to hunt in the royal forest area. This way they would not be running into other hunters who might not understand this ritual of theirs. So the caravan would make their way up past Sakura Vineyards towards the small mountains and thick forest. There was also a lake not too far they could catch some fresh water fish if they had time. They got curious looks from bypassers but luckily this particular area was not traveled heavily as it was a distance from the castle as well the port that attracted the denser crowds.

Yas watched as the wagons were taken over to the mainland before he followed in a canoe. He preferred bow and arrow normally but in a thick forest, it would be harder to stick to one type of weapon. Once they were moving, he rode beside Conor. "You have hunted deer before? Boar?" Dark blue eyes looked at the Quinn man and he smiled. "I'm only asking to be certain what you have done, not to offend." For Kuwan's sake, he would be civil. Besides, he really had no reason to dislike the man.

The ferry ride...not a favorite. But soon enough they were on solid ground again. Conor glanced over to Yas, providing a nod and shrug together. "Deer, not boar. And definitely not bear. But here's to proving one's worth, eh? Guess if I don't end up worth...I'll end up dead.

Patwin, as he most times did, had taken the rear of the caravan but that didn't mean he couldn't keep an eye on the Quinn as well as the other young braves who would be taking their first real hunting trip out with the older men.

"Or mutilated, or maimed...half eaten, gored, infected and suffering...not necessarily dead." Delsey chuckled to himself as he made sure to correct Conor as he passed him and Yas by. "But then, there is always dead." He waved a hand ahead to one of the warriors to wait for him and he hurried up to catch him.

They counted a total of twenty. A good size hunting party and would separate into ten each where needed to surround their prey. They would stay close enough that if one group needed help, it would be there. Mat sent three of the younger men ahead to scout as that was what they wanted to become proficient in. He followed up, passing Yas and Conor by and not far from Delsey by the time all was said and done. He helped to show Silver Fox the track left by a buck, which he had picked up on.. but had almost missed the does' softer tread close by. He pressed his fingers into the impression and indicated by motion of hand a somewhat northwest direction then indicated that they were made about fifteen minutes ago. The deer would go slow depending on foraging through brush and berries that were ripe. Wild apple trees a big favorite.

Yas bit back a laugh when he heard Delsey, cutting a glance to see Conor's reaction. "I will not lie to you, Conor. Depending on the animal, the danger will change. Even a doe will fight to protect her young." He watched the youngsters as they began their tracking and dismounted. The horses would stay with the wagons but they needed no leads. He pointed toward a path and started for it. The forests of Heathfield were the same in many ways as those of their homeland, except for the feel of magic that permeated the land. As they made their way down into a small valley, mist rose from the stream that meandered through. Yas looked at Conor and smiled slightly. "Step as lightly as you can," he whispered. "Though the deer here have little fear, we don't not wish to frighten them into thinking we are a bear."

Worse yet...that there might actually BE a bear, but that didn't seem to even enter Yas' mind. After all, they were there to track that beast as well. He nodded to the order, stepping carefully within the thick, damp blanket of decades of autumns. The fog was thicker under the branches and nearer the water and Conor could barely see farther than a few feet ahead. And then, it brushed past him from behind. He hadn't heard it and he didn't see it until it had passed him, those cloven hooves almost silent on the sodden leaves. Stunned by the suddenness of the vision, it really didn't occur to him at first what it even was. He simply stared into the mist where the bristled blackness had vanished into that veil. Suddenly, there was a piercing scream that rose high above the fog and trees, startling rabbits, ravens and pheasants from their resting places. "Jesus Christ." Conor gasped, shooting a look to Yas before he started running in the direction of that sound. He knew the sound of mortal wounding when he heard it. Splashing through the small brook the creature had only just traversed, Conor disappeared into the wall of mist in search of that wounded man.

Conor wasn't the only man who had taken off into the blinding mist, and when the Irishman came to a skidding halt at the bottom of a small hill, he'd find Patwin and several other of the braves at the bottom of the small slope. Patwin looked up to Conor with a frown, then back down to the injured brave. A wide scrape of black mud showed that the lad had tumbled through the muddied leaves, landing at last at the bottom. Patwin was on his knees beside the young man, an arm behind the victim's shoulders. A fine spray of blood had splattered high, sharp cheekbones and droplets were drying in his hair on one side. "The beast carries my spear at its neck, Yas after..." He didn't finish but looked down to the brave. Patwin's hand was clamped down on the gash along the inside of the thigh, attempting to squeeze it together. Patwin the fierce, the ruthless, the warrior was speaking in a low voice to the lad, repeating words of comfort, his head dipped close so that the bloodied braids of his hair almost curtained the lad's face. The wound ran for at least six inches from groin down to the thigh and the blood was gushing in a steady flow between Patwin's fingers no matter how tightly he squeezed. The men around began to stir, and reach for weapons they had set aside while they watched. For there, there it was, that nightmare shape, once more soundless, just as determined shifting out of the cover of mist and trees. The spear protruded from its neck and the curved, sharp yellowed ivory of its tusks were stained red, as red as those beady little eyes that glared at the men.

Although Delsey had continued on to begin the search for the track of bear, the bellow of pain had brought him back, and as the men began to rustle around and prepare, he snatched a spear from the hands of a companion and stepped into the clearing. The warrior walked with what could almost be described as a casual pace, carrying the spear low, braced in both hands as if he meant to scoop up a shovel full of dirt and not deal with the life-threatening tusks of a blood-thirsty boar. His attention was centered solely on the beast though, speaking to it in an undertone of coaxing, inviting it gently in the words of their people from the shelter of the tree it stood beside. And then, the explosion. The first charge had the beast charging past, so closely that the Indian's loin cloth slapped against his thigh as he spun, his hair whipped around his shoulder to follow it. The boar dug in its hooves and spun, coming back in a blur of muscular rage. Not much unlike the man that faced off against it, although the rage was centered, focused, intent. Back and forth and then once again the dance so perfect the two seemed to float above the ground. As it neared the group, spears were sent into its thick hide but it continued to charge. The whole thing, which seemed to continue an eternity, only lasted a minute or so. Delsey whirled to the side from the slashing ivory, raised his spear high and drove it straight down between the beast's romping shoulders. A shrill squeal filled the forest and the heavy body toppled to one side, even though the hooves spurred the ground and churned up thick clods of earth. The squeal stopped almost instantly. A piglike grunt. From the beast or from the man? And there...was silence.

After hearing the piercing scream, Mat had the three younger men take to the trees and keep track of the deer they were following by eyesight until he got back. He was fast, leaping much like the deer they tracked, over bush and through mists making them swirl behind him. The Shaman didn't need sight to know exactly where to go, but he bypassed the boar for the need of the bleeding brave. He was one of the younger ones and his participation would be limited from here onto the end but they would not eliminate him, not after Mat was done. He took over from Patwin, taking a certain mixture of herbs from a pouch and pressing them into the wound. Once they were added along with certain rhythmic words, he bound the wound with cloth. The mixture would stop the bleeding and enhance mending. Exceptionally. Mat was drawn to the mystics of these lands that held so many of varying kinds. He drew upon their energies to aid him in his efforts. He would miss participating in killing the boar but that was the first kill of the day.

Yas had been slightly ahead of Conor when the boar went by. He turned when he heard the scream and followed after Conor. If the man were killed chasing the beast... he followed into the clearing, his heart nearly stopping when he saw the boy. When Patwin looked his way, he had nodded. There was nothing they could do, but then Mat came running out of the forest and Yas smiled slightly. "Thank you, Mat." He spoke softly to his twin then spoke up. "Twofeathers, Eagle Cry, take him back to the wagons, and see he is comfortable." That was all he said as he turned to watch Delsey deliver the killing blow, then he raised his arm. "Delsey, you bring luck to the hunt today by killing the boar." He turned back to Conor, though he wasn't smiling. "And we continue to hunt, yes?"

Conor, just a little stunned, could only nod to Yas. He, like the others had grabbed up a spear once the threat had once again made itself known. That was, until Delsey seized the thing from his hands. Then Conor had resorted to bow and arrow although he knew for darn sure that those would never pierce that thick hide. He watched a moment as the young man was carted away, as was the boar, then looked down to Patwin who remained on his knees, wiping his bloodied hand on the wet leaves next to his legs before the warrior stood. They made eye contact. The compassion and caring for the injured lad...gone. The hard, relentless distrust and ever resilient wall of warrior returned. These four men, Patwin, Yaskitchi, Matoskah, Delsey had been through much of life's trials together. There was no mistaking Conor was the outsider. The ... fifth wheel so to speak. But, that he was, and here he was, and damn if he was going anywhere but onward. To the next near death experience until that wagon was loaded with the numbers needed to see this tribe through their winter.

The eye contact held until Patwin turned and walked away. The warrior bowed his head as he walked, sending up a quick and silent supplication to the Spirit Guides to work well through the skills of Matoskah. He shook his head free of the wisp of wishes and his gaze narrowed on the mist ahead. He warbled out a call that brought Delsey's gaze around to the disappearing warrior.

So it was on for the bear while Mat and his men sought out the deer. Alright then. Delsey smiled, the sound of nature's call used by the warriors since they were young to communicate was something he had missed far too much. Could make a man all giddy and squirmish with delight. He slapped a hand to Yas' shoulder in passing, dipped his head in respect to Mat as that one was crossed before and took off in a trot after Patwin. But not before he looked at Conor, wagged his dark brows, and gave a tilt of head. Yes. Could have easily been that Con-Ore on the back of the wagon. Then again, could as easily been any of them.

As the two braves brought the younger one back. to the wagon, he refused to go but would catch up with the rest. He did all he could for the lad, there rest was up to nature and the spirits. Mat returned to catch up with Conor. "You will not die this day but there will be a moment that your decision will take you one course or another, one of pain or one of victory." Victory could come in a few ways, depending upon how one defined it. "It is what the Spirits say," and enough that he could relate that much to the man. "I am here if needed," but he disappeared back into the mists to return to the tracking of the deer. This tracking would also lead them to a bear who was hunting the buck.

Yas looked back at Conor and gave him a sheepish smile. "I am sorry that one escaped us. But, there is plenty of game in the valley. You'll have your chance soon." He led him back to the area they had been in earlier, a little shaken though he didn't show it, nor would he admit it. It was a part of the Way and it was risky, but they wanted to preserve their way of life.

Conor's brows raised with Mat's prophecy, but then, the youngest Quinn wasn't one much for this is the way things are going to be. Once Mat walked away, Conor looked back to Yas. "I'm not sorry. Between me and you, Yas? That rattled my cage just a wee bit. It's different coming up against a man. That...shit, man...that was pure evil in swinehide form."


Date: 08-16-12
Poster: Matoskah
Post # 56

More Than The Hunt

Yas stopped when he heard Conor and glanced back at where the boar and men had been. "They are foul, angry beasts when it comes to protecting what is theirs. It could be there are young ones about, or he was just protecting his territory. Hard to say." Yas looked at Conor and smiled again. "But as you saw, pure evil. Then again, you have not come up against a badger." There were more then a few predators one could face. He started forward again. "My
adopted father went up against one once. He still bears the scars of the claw on his leg. He killed it in spite of being badly injured. It could have caught either of us but the spirits choose otherwise." He chuckled. "We will be more careful, aye?"

Conor followed Yas' lead and looked back over his shoulder. "Aye, when protecting our own, we all can and will be." Point. But he returned Yas' smile. "I think careful doesn't have as much to do with it as timing...when it's your time..." He shrugged, voices low as they tread silently through the mist and underbrush. "And no, I've ne'er come up against a badger, but I've seen Mary Quinn riled a time or two. And a look alone from the woman could gut a man and leave his entrails dangling to dry in the wind." A quirk, a quick glance to Yas and he quieted except to say. "Did Patwin know the boy?" Seeing the way the man cradled the injured lad gave cause to wonder, considering the warrior's otherwise calloused emotional exterior.

Patwin and Delsey, along with a few men with them, had found the stripped bark from several trees, and then on others the dark brown stiff fur from where the large animal scratched up against the trees. Leaves on the ground were brushed aside, showing the large, press of long clawed paws and where the animal had torn apart rotting logs in search of ants. A nearby berry bush plucked clean of its ripened fruit. All good signs.

Mat and the three young males moved through the woods as silent as one possibly could. Hand signals were used as they soon parted to surround a lone buck that found one of the wild apple trees and was feasting on its early fruit that had fallen to the ground. Each had gotten in place and waited. At first the buck raised his head, nostrils flared as he looked about to flee. Except they didn't move a muscle and after a few minutes of debate the buck decided it was still safe. That's when the four charged in unison from their positions, arrows flying as well Mat's spear which landed true into the buck's chest before he could even leap. The hunting cries went out so any of the others would hear that another game had been taken down.

"Aye, there is little to be done then." He paused to consider Conor's question. "He was one of our Clan, and Patwin cares deeply for our people, Conor. That is why he wants you to understand our way of life, so that if you and Kuwan become more involved, you will see how we are. Close." He rubbed at his chin, thoughtfully. "Some will never accept the ways of the Whites, even though they will not turn any away from our campfire unless they truly mean harm. Some will accept and still keep the old ways. Others will find it too tempting. With Patwin, and the brave ... the man was dying, and would have had Mat not come in time. It would not be a dishonorable death, but still tragic. Part of life. Patwin was comforting him as he would a brother. In his eyes, they are." He looked at Conor and smiled. "My brother and I are half-white, but more comfortable here, in the forests and we were accepted from the day we were born." Even when he was at his lowest point, he sought the comfort of the woodlands. "Patwin will be suspicious of you for some time, but you are willing to try. He may come around." Or he may not. But no one could predict what another would do. "Now, we hunt so we don't return empty handed." He pointed to deer tracks and started forward again.

Conor lowered to a knee to run a finger along the wet area by the track. Fresh. The urine had not long been there. Their deer was near. He rubbed his fingers against the hem of his pants and stood. "Yas, it isn't Patwin's suspicion that concerns me, it's his expertise with his weapons." A flash of Quinn smile and he nodded to where the deer's path led. Hearing the shouts in the distance made it clear that he and Yas should be about getting themselves a kill. All Conor needed was to come back empty handed!

They gutted the buck right there and he let the brave that got in the first arrow to take the rack. They would see to the rest in getting it back to the wagon as Mat would catch up with his brother and the others. The three braves would meet up with them once all was taken care of. Mat got side tracked collecting a few rabbits on the way which he hung from his belt.

Yas laughed and nodded agreement. "I can understand that." Patwin was a good friend, a brother. But he was stubborn, especially if he was certain he was in the right. This would likely not be the first time he butted heads with someone from Heathfield. Yas held a finger up to his lips then motioned for Conor to go around a small group of pines. He wanted to make sure Conor had first strike at the buck.

Brows lifted when Yas motioned. It really wasn't the first time Conor had been on the hunt of a deer. He crouched and continued light footed around that grouping, soft needles wafting free the fragrance of his passing, sending the scent on the breeze in the opposite direction. He reached behind, freeing bow and arrow with no sound at all, only the faintest of creaking when the gut string was pulled back tightly from the notched fletch. It was a small group, seven, eight perhaps of pine but they were hearty and thickly feathered with their green fingers. Conor attempted to scan on ahead of him as he used a shoulder to brush aside a branch.

Mat didn't catch up until they were surrounding a buck, so he stood back in a place he'd not be spotted, crouched down and waited.

Yas knew Conor had hunted deer before but he wanted him to get the next kill. He watched the Irishman a moment then started around the other way. One step, then another until he came out of the clearing. The buck was grazing closer to where Conor was but Yas still had his bow ready. He heard something, and looked away from the deer, who had suddenly looked up and started moving toward the pines. A large bear came out of the woods, stood on his back legs and sniffed the air. It wasn't after the buck, but it did seem to catch a scent and started for the trees. This one wasn't going to be one to be kept alive. It seemed to be stalking Conor. Yas let out a blood curdling scream and when the bear looked his way, swaying and growling, let the arrow fly. It flew forward, catching the beast in the chest. Yas grabbed a spear, letting the bow fall to the ground and moved forward as the bear dropped to all fours and charged toward Conor. Injured and angry it didn't get far. The arrow had set true and brought it down to its chest. It thrashed about then was still. He took a deep breath then looked to see what had happened to Conor. The bear let out a wheeze of air and just to be safe, Yas stuck it with the spear as he jumped back.

When the buck had looked up and away from Conor, Conor pulled back the bow just enough, his fingers easing to release the first arrow. But then, beyond, all he could see was the fully raised bulk of bear. The buck lurched and leapt, but even when the bear dropped and started lumbering with its great muscles bunching and hurling him toward Conor, the Quinn snatched his bow around and let loose toward the deer, reaching back and grabbing another arrow and with a quick peripheral gauge of distance between him and death, loosed that one as well toward the staggering but fleeing buck. He stumbled back then, bumping into a pine tree, brown needles from the season past raining down on him with the contact. With a ground shuddering thud, the bear hit dirt, Yas delivering the death blow or the life saving blow with the length of his spear. "HolyMother" Conor breathed. "Do you braves ever hunt...without death lurking behind every tree?" And then he added. "Two more feet and I may have shyte myself."

The deer was down as well and the men that came running out from the trees that had been with Patwin and Delsey hurried over to it, big brown eyes fixed. The braves thanked it then began to prepare it for transport. Patwin strolled forward to the bear, hands to knees and he bent over it to study the creature. "There's another close, Yas. Darker in color. Claws a bit smaller." He pushed up and looked to their...leader. "Let Con-Ore lug this one to the wagon, we four will find the other."

Delsey held back, looking between the men - Yas, Mat in the trees, Patwin and Conor. "The youngers can see to that ,don't you think?" Delsey didn't come forward but looked to Yas. "Straws and all."

To that, Patwin grunted, narrowing a gaze Conor's way. "As it should be." And he started away.

They would also find Mat's spear lodged into the bear's back between its shoulder blades. A placement that had helped slow the very large beast down. He had come out of his crouched position as soon as he saw the bear coming out of the woods not far from where he was, it had turned to go after Conor and so gave him that angle to throw his spear hitting him from behind. The other three were back and joined up with the others in taking care of the kill. He caught the words between Delsey and Patwin but said nothing at this point. Only a last glance given Conor before he was getting his spear back out of the bear before it was carted away.

Yas chuckled when he heard Conor, and lowered his voice. " So did I when I thought it was moving again. And that's understandable when you have a bear coming toward you, though then no one would have wanted to walk with you, and the animals surely would have run away." He looked up at the others, shaking his head when he heard Patwin. "What about the deer Conor shot?" He had uttered a prayer when the bear fell, thanking it for the contribution to the tribe. His thanks to Mat was a touch of his hand to his twin's shoulder. He smirked at Delsey but didn't say anything, only looked back at Conor.

To Yas' question, Patwin thumbed in the direction of the deer and the work underway there. "Then he would have been of use. We would but stand upwind and him down, and all the prey would have fled to us." After that was said, he muttered, walking away. "Too bad."

Delsey choked back a laugh, cutting a look to Conor, all covered in brown needles, then followed after Patwin. "And so now being mated has made you into a lazy hunter. Come, Mat, I wish to hunt alongside a ... warrior."

Patwin shot out a fist, knocking Delsey in the upper arm and causing the man to sidestep a few, laughing softly with the gesture as the two continued on, knowing the others would follow in order to find the other bear and with the spirit's blessings, more meat.

Conor brushed off the needles, choosing for now to let those comments fall where they would. He crossed over to the deer to collect his two arrows and thanked the men preparing the meat. With a deep breath and a slow release of the same, he shook his head and turned to follow. Worth. That was hard stuff to prove without a doubt.

Which had Mat snort out a laugh for Delsey's words with a look to Patwin then back with a slight nod as if he agreed. Ribbing was not limited to Conor being the odd man out, white man at that. "We need more deer and bear. Rabbits," the last looking to Patwin as if that was high stake game for him at this point. Wherein, they all got rabbit and squirrel as they went for the bigger game. What they were all doing this day was of great value, essential, to the Tribe. There would be grand tales later around the fire that certainly would be embellished.

He nodded and watched as Patwin and the others left, lips pressed tight together to keep from laughing. It would come in time, worth, he was certain of it. "We can go with them or hunt more on our own." He motioned toward one of the groups. "We will have plenty for the winter. And as to death being behind every bush, it may be so, but it is worth when there is war with another Clan. Then you watch for game and enemies." If Conor didn't want to be under Patwin's oh-so-watchful eye, Yas would understand.

No, bring on the Patwin glare. "Seems it would be better if we spread out, but I'm all for staying together as a group, Yas." Conor Quinn was Irish. Warring clans. Bloodlines here. Not much different from the Indian Tribe. Whether Patwin wished to acknowledge that or not. "I just need to bring in more game than the grumbling, scowling one. And the more rabbit, the better. Kuwan's pies...and all. What say you we stick a little to the left of everyone, a fan of sorts and what doesn't come directly in front of us, may dart off toward them?"

"We should stay as a larger group now that evening approaches. It will be safer." Provided they didn't shoot each other, so far it had only been by words and not hateful kind. "There is Elk not far that were spotted earlier a little more north. We should go there and take a few from the herd." Mat took a moment to drink some water from the flask he carried as his thirst had grown great.

He nodded, smiling. Conor was beginning to understand Patwin. "Kuwan also knows how to trap rabbits. That's how she's kept us happy." He nodded when Mat spoke, but motioned with his hand. "We fan out and take in more land, within sight of one another, and careful not to spook them to stampede." Otherwise they'd be in the path, and have to do some fast maneuvering or climbing. "It's been long since I've tasted the meat of the Elk." Since they had left home in fact.

Patwin dipped his head in silent agreement, doing as he was told, bringing his bow around and ready.

Delsey leaned forward as he walked, looking down the line. Short straw was doing a fine job, the white man had survived boar and bear and thus far, Patwin. As they walked, if a pheasant or rabbit were roused from their hiding place, it was taken and added for bringing back. Each man along the line had a few extra creatures hanging from their belts by the time the elk were spotted.

Elk. Conor couldn't say he had ever tasted elk. Could be interesting. But what about this little 'outing' had not already been? He followed the actions of the others, blending in with his dark hair and tanned skin, the hide pants, the soft boots...the only difference was...he wasn't one of them. And not a single one of them forgot that. Not even Conor.


Date: 08-16-12
Poster: Matoskah
Post # 57

The tricky part would be separating a few that they could then bring down under their arrows and spears. So they fanned out as quickly and quietly as they could. Hand motions once more used so that their voices were not picked up upon the wind. Their scent was of the forest, mostly, if they didn't get too close. He spotted a few young bucks and does, not of mating age and whose meat would be the most tender and tastier. He motioned to the braves nearest who then motion to those nearest them that it got down along to all within a few minutes. They would need to cut them off, which would have Mat charging in between that they parted just so. The others would be ready to take the ones down that would be heading their way.

Elk were large and almost fearless. This would be a test of their skills as surely as the other animals that had been hunted. The skins would make warm blankets for the elders, their antlers would be used in ceremonies, and in making medicine. Not a part would be wasted. He was well aware of where Conor was, and was pleased to see him repeat what the rest were doing. Again, the thought came that this hunt would be a good one.

Luckily this went off without a hitch for a change. But then things could change and did as another buck decided to go after the few cut off and a few were following him. It would take some of the braves to avert them from this path.

It was always a good thing to be expecting trouble and the warriors of the Clan knew what to do. They had been learning since they were boys and some began to cut off the second group. Yas joined them, shouting and whooping to make the Elk change course. One of the younger men nearly came too close but he jumped out of the way in time. Likely he'd be teased but then again, he was alive to laugh with his brothers. Yas could almost smell the meat cooking as he chased one group away and turned to watch the other. "Let's join the hunt quickly." He didn't' want anyone left out.

As the men darted this way and that, diverting, corralling, singling out Conor just joined in. The energy in the air was enough to draw in any testosterone flowing mammal and those of the four legged kind responded to those of the two. Man, the lesser of the earth bound creatures, without their natural defenses, had learned to use their minds and with that, created weapons that could not only bring about equaling out the war field of survival, but master it. The braves were prime examples of using the talents and skills gained from eons of passing time. To Conor's left one large bull dropped and skidded to a halt. He could allow only the quickest glance in that direction as he and two other braves were aimed in on yet another. Their arrows sailed, their bodies in a zig-zag dance of avoidance and pursuit.

Delsey wailed out a war cry of success as that elk slammed to the earth but none could get close enough yet as others raced and jumped and bumped into one another and possibly into any man that got in the way of their flight.

This...was life and death at its most obvious. Large, muscles churned. Sleek precision prevailed. The braves were as much a part of that herd as they were of their tribe. Two. Three. A fourth elk body fell as the masses surged on and the men gave thanks and began their preparations. Patwin never doubted their success. It they were raised to be.

Mat chased a younger elk away from the slaughter before he was joining in helping to take down one then another by the time they were done, they had eight elk and it would take a few of the braves to gut then bring them back to the wagon. The women back at the camp would be ready to take care of the meat before it spoiled and in the process would prepare the hides for tanning. After the great rush would come the cool down but even then their spirits would be high throughout this night. "Do we need more or shall we head back?" This posed to his brother, Patwin and Delsey as he approached.

Yas was euphoric as he watched the kills being prepared. They had learned from a young age how to prepare the meat and all were helping. He stood as Mat spoke then he stretched. It had been a good day. "It grows late." He chuckled and looked at the small group. They could use the journey back to settle down if needed. "Even with the moon in the sky, it will be too dark to hunt." The night animals would see to the remains of the animals that were left behind. All returned to Mother Earth. "But I will go with what everyone else wants." This had been a successful hunt, and there were plenty of meat and furs.

Patwin, his arms bloodied up to his elbows sat back on his heels, looking over to Yas for the answer to that question. Although the man did not feel worthy of leading, to those who knew and recognized his potential and intended title, Yas would always be looked to for answers. Whether he liked that or not. Once again, it they were raised to be. The herd had left behind it the torn up earth of their retreat, what blood that wasn't saved pooled in the deep gouges, reflecting the beginning of the setting sun. "It will be too dark to hunt then, at least the animals of the day." Although, he would very much like to entice Con-Ore to capture a skunk. Would the man be able to do so and keep it alive? That would make him a brave and useful warrior? Yas had said it, it would be so. He turned back to finish with his work, so that the younger men could transport the kill.

Delsey smiled up to Mat then looked over to Yas as the man spoke. "My bones grow old, I am finished for this day." But what a day it had been. Many small game would travel back with them, the bear, boar, and a more than adequate supply of elk for one day's hunt. Delsey was far from old, and his body was as fit if not more so than when they were younger, strength of muscle growing along with the wisdom of age. Several of the younger braves laughed, enjoying that comment that the older braves were worn out, commenting amongst themselves. Delsey enjoyed it as well. He had once been them. Remembering how he, himself, had once thought he was so full of knowledge, so mighty of body. Ah...their time would come to also realize the difference which comes with maturity.

Conor's leather leggings were smeared with blood, and so was his shoulder now as he hefted up the hind quarter of the elk to help carry his share to the wagon. Whether today proved his 'worth' or not, he had truly enjoyed it.

Which had Mat grin before shaking his head. "Beaver might be good, the pelts are worth a lot and the meat is good. Muskrat and wolverine. Fox, we could get a few of each." He was fixing the leather that wrapped the head of his spear in place. "Delsey is much older than us.." which he didn't look his way but confirmed the man was 'old'. It added to the humor and that was more the idea behind the statement. "We can take a way back that brings us past the small lake." It was up to them, he still had enough energy for a few more smaller kills and possibly fishing.

Smaller kills on the way back wouldn't hurt. "We will plan a night hunt soon." He looked at Mat and laughed. "You still feel the energy from the hunt but I'm not so sure about the rest of us." He looked at the younger men as they waited. "Beavers would be good if we want to trade furs too. Hard for many to be able to obtain." He looked at the wagons, thoughtful. "We should get the meat back before too much longer. It will turn and the women are probably waiting." They would all catch it if they were too late. "But... the lake sounds good. We'll all be sticky and smelly when we reach the camp and some might not be allowed to enter their tents." He cut a look toward Patwin and grinned. Clean up, those who wanted to fish could, and the rest could see the wagons back.

With that look from Yas, Patwin's dark brows raised. What? Kali would never deny him access to his ... wait ... his gaze dropped to his arms dried and caked with blood, dirt and sweat. His bared chest not much different. His hair was matted from the boar attack and he could actually smell death all around him. No doubt, part of that stench was ... personal.

"So much older, that an entire full moon separates our birth, Brother." Delsey chuckled as he passed by Mat, using the flat side of his stone axe to pop the back of that twin's shoulder. "A full season for the papoose, Patwin." He used that weapon to wag at the much younger braves. "And all of you together do not add up in age to the wisdom of those three mentioned. Think you no other way." He could use a swim, and a scrubbing, even if he didn't have to concern himself with being barred from his bed.

A lake, now that was something Conor would definitely take advantage of. Although he said nothing, it wasn't his place to comment, he did nod to himself. For all the scum of the hunt, he felt good, but a good soaking would feel sooo much better.

Which he swatted back at Delsey, falling short on purpose but it was mostly a good hearty laugh for the action. "It is to the lake, we can all wash and clean anything needing to be cleaned." They could fish and get some smaller game as well. So he was off to help them get the kill back to the wagon and lead them in the right direction. It would put them between Birchwood and Sakura Vineyards, more towards the latter as they made their way around the lake.

The time after a hunt was a time of bonding, of ties becoming more solid. Yas grinned as he watched Delsey and Mat, then glanced at Conor. A few of the younger braves were starting to talk to him. He had been on the Hunt with them and in their opinion, had proved himself. Even the brave who had been injured earlier was congratulating all and joining in the fun.

Knowing the lake awaited, everyone made quick work of filling the wagons and setting off toward the cleansing waters. Conor joined in the conversations, although he was cautious with the jabs and jokes tossed about to remain distanced. The horses were not at first comfortable with the scent of blood, but beneath that was the familiar of rider, and that soon calmed the animals into a cooperative journey.

Delsey spoke of past hunts, of the times when the four had achieved great things, of course and even some stories with Kuwan and Kali added, drawing the younger braves into a mesmerized state of interest that made for a shorter trip to the water.

Pleased with the outcome of their day, it was difficult for Patwin to remain ... unpleasant...if he was ever not completely so. He added some information to Delsey's stories, laughed with Mat or Yas as comments were made, but not once, not the entire trip to the water, looked in the direction of Con-Ore. He had proved himself to some degree. At least, in the hunt. But Kuwan was still of the Bear, and the Quinn was not. A part yet set apart. Like stories being told as they rode, only time would bring about the ending.

He walked side by side, shoulder to shoulder with Delsey as they led the mules to the lake, they could get a drink of water and forage through the various fauna that grew there. Mat gave out a whopping war cry as soon as the sparkling waters could be seen through the distance trees. Awash in a setting sun it made it look golden. He was running next, stripping of his clothes as he reached the shore and continue right on in, disappearing under the cool depths before surfacing again.

Mat was followed by the young braves, laughing and whooping as they stripped off their clothes and jumped into the water. Yas watched for just a moment, looked at Patwin, then at Conor. Without a word, he was running for the water and jumped in. He didn't bother taking off the loincloth. It needed washed anyway, and so did his boots. After the long, hot day, the water felt glorious. The injured brave was helped to the water so he too could clean up.

Delsey was already stripping down, as he walked. Boots were tucked to the rope tied with his smaller game to the mule, his loin cloth was loosed and by the time Mat howled out his intent, bare assed Delsey was after him. Paint, blood, sweat, fur, dirt, grass...ahhhhhh, the Great Spirit of the water knew exactly what was needed.

Conor struggled at first to get the sweat tight ties of his pants released, but he was soon enough chasing after the braves to the water. He actually left a path of clothing from pants to start, one boot next, the other a few feet beyond, and he was in, diving beneath the surface.

Patwin remained to watch as the others all made for the water. He tied off the mules and horses, and then walked with purpose toward the others. Like Yas, his cloth was as much in need of a soak as he was. Kali would not be subjected to the stains and stench of this day. He didn't bother releasing the braids, he probably couldn't anyway considering how matted they were with blood, so he just walked in, until the silt beneath gave way and he allowed his body to dip beneath the surface.

He was chuckling to himself watching Patwin. He was changing some under the care of Kali or was it his heart was more content? Well, he was no expert never having been married, never having one to hold his heart. Something he wouldn't mind happening but so far the prospect was slim. He gave a mental shrug and soaked in the water long enough to be clean then swam in to get a fishing pole and some live bait that was kept in the sheds as this area was sandy, obviously fixed and kept for anyone wishing to make use of it.

It felt good to get the grime and blood off and Yas ducked under the water. He stood and watched Mat before he looked around at the others. This was perfect, how life was meant to be and though it wouldn't last, and life would intrude, for the moment, he stood and enjoyed it. The sun was nearly down, turning the sky to deeper blues.

Life was meant to intrude. From the moment of birth, that breath, was the first breath toward the last breath and with every one in between, life...happened. Perfect moments faded into heart wrenching moments that eased into acceptance and transformed once more, eventually, into perfection.

Delsey had grabbed up some lake grass and was scrubbing his body, sharing thoughts along the same lines as Yas. Though, his were also mixed with making sure to get the grime and filth from his chest, behind his ears, under his pits. That, and plucking free any fronds that came loose from his fingers and stuck with their wetness to his skin.

Patwin didn't bother with such thoughts. Warrior born and raised, he lived each moment, never attempting to contemplate the intricacies, only living for the next breath. After all, when all was said and done, it was the moment, and only that moment, that was promised to them. Nothing more. Nothing less. Live it. Having soaked for a while, he pinched off clods of paint or mud from his chest and watched them dissolve in the water, speaking out over the surface to...guess who. "You will present Kuwan with the hide of the deer you killed." He still didn't look to Conor, but most every one else in hearing range did. "It is the way."

Conor had used the water and rubbed his body free of any traces of the hunt, but when Patwin spoke, his ministrations instantly stopped. "Aye then." Patwin might not be looking at Conor but Conor definitely was looking across to Patwin. "I will."


Date: 08-21-12
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 58

The Feast

So the time at the lake was spent in the water, fishing and general getting cleaned up. What was caught, was gutted and filet and packed away on the one mule with the least of a burden. Some of the younger braves had gotten beaver, rabbit, snakes, squirrels and the like of smaller game but not too small. Mat was getting hungry and it was time to be on their way as he led one of the pack mules with a wagon attached. Hopefully the ferry would be able to handle the weight, more likely only one brave and a wagon at a time.

Yas shook his head as he watched the wagons. The women would be both delighted and possibly ready to strangle the braves for bringing so much in. He grinned at the thought then took charge of one of the wagons. He was tired, hungry and pleased with how the day had been.

Patwin and Delsey rode over with Conor. Thanks a lot, Yas! But it was probably just as well, for both warriors, even if reluctantly, were offering over suggestions for Kuwan. At first, the youngest Quinn was skeptical. Having grown up with Eion and Segan, these suggestions could be just to get him in trouble. But the more they spoke, the more Conor believed them.

Delsey kept his input to little things, not wanting to give over too much information to help this Conor Quinn. But when Patwin started in earnest to aid the man, Delsey could only join in. It was for Kuwan, after all. If this man, this Conor Quinn man, was her chosen and the Spirit Guides found him worthy of her, who was Delsey to intercede? Besides a warrior who loved her, but with that love, came the truly deepest of desires to see her as happy as she might ever be. Could be this Conor Quinn. Could be

Patwin, after speaking of Kuwan in his no nonsense, straight forward, tell-it-like-it-is way also went into what would transpire once they returned to camp. Every detail. Leaving nothing to question.

So the group of them returned, one riding the wagon but recovering from his wounds already. He had a story to tell and it would be embellished making him a hero of the day. Each of the younger braves had made the passage into being a man and some of the maidens were counting on it for now they could seriously look for a mate, or be ask for their hand by one and taken seriously. Some of the fathers would stick to tradition and count on them making them an offer they couldn't resist. The women came running to surround the wagons and would help the men assigned to cook the meat. Some of each variety would be at the feast tonight while the majority would be cooked in smoke pits that would have the meat lasting a very long time as jerky. This would get them to the beginning of winter, end of the fall season when the men would go out again for the winter storage.

Kuwan was amongst the group of women heading for the wagon. She could not hide the worried look upon her features as dark eyes searched quickly to rest upon Conor, then Patwin and Delsey as the three were together and Conor alive. He didn't seemed to be harmed although there was one in the wagon that had been. She could tell by scent alone and yet with that scent, she knew he'd been taken care of. "You had a good hunt this day," the surprise was not hidden either at how much they had brought. "The forests are full in these lands.." as she set to helping with the meat and hides that would be cured.

Yas stepped back to help unload the wagon, smiling as some of the women talked. He finally had to step out of the way. Crossing his arms he watched with a smile. Dark blue eyes shifted to Kuwan and Conor then away again, his smile never fading. He sought out the others, and nodded to himself. Tonight would be a good celebration. The bear hide would go to Minima to replace the old one she used as a symbol of this new land. It was fitting the Eldest should have it. Milap and Dekanawida would have their pick of the Elk hides.

Kali was one of the women who came to the wagons but first she looked for Patwin. Stepping over to him, she touched his arm and smiled up at him. "Only one injury. All is well then?" He had been standing beside Conor and that was a good thing.

Kali came up to Patwin, and he wrapped an arm around her lower back, pulling her up close for a very uncharacteristic display of affectionate kiss. Perhaps it was the lingering affects of the hunt still soaring through him. Or the ick that seemed to seep off of Con-Ore regarding Kuwan. The man did seem to care for her greatly. Once the kiss ended, he smiled down to her, just for her, none others would see. " well."

Delsey took a step back as Patwin claimed Kali in that embrace, both of his brows shooting upward with disbelief. Even so, he shot out a hand and slapped Conor at the back of the shoulder, nodding toward Kuwan, the force of it sending the Quinn man stumbling forward a step or two.

"Kuwan...wait!" Conor called after her since she was already unloading and moving. He leaned to the wagon and slid the deer pelt he had skinned from the animal for her at Patwin's order. With it folded in half, he draped the hide over his arm and hurried over to her. "This, Kuwan, is for you." He drew in a deep breath as he presented it to her and recited what Delsey had drilled into his head on the journey over. "Earth's feet have become my feet, by means of these I shall live on. Earth's body has become my body." He hesitated, letting Delsey's voice ring in his head in order to finish. "by means of this I shall live on." He smiled over to her, all Conorfied and pleased with himself for remembering and the fact he could present this to her, as Patwin told him he should.

As Conor spoke those words, Delsey mouthed them with him, as did Patwin, silently reciting the lines, as probably did Yas and Mat if they heard or witnessed the scene. As did any hunter, no matter their age, whether they had been on this hunt or not.

Conor left her speechless. Lips parting as eyes drew wide. He had done many little things that she drew fond memories of but this was the sweetest of all. It also spoke on how much he wanted to know of her ways, not just his ways. The other women continued with the meat along with the braves help that was there and near pushed her away, near pushed her into Conor's arms. She actually bumped up against him and knew what the other women were trying to do, as well Conor had been versed but versed well. "It is an honor, Conor," as she took the deer skin, "this will make my best dress." Not pants this time. "You will sit with me around the fire?" Which had its own prestige if he accepted.

Yas was close enough to watch though he couldn't hear. He did know what Conor was saying and repeated the words before he turned away to tend to a child's questions. He hadn't seen Patwin or he would have been still staring at the warrior.

Kali was more then stunned, she was delighted. That should silence the old hens who commented on Patwin being so stern. She stayed in his hold a moment more, smiling up at him. No, the silly words the woman whispered didn't really matter, but his smile did. "I am so glad. I should help now." She whispered as she stepped back reluctantly, her hand sliding over his arm. There was always later.

"You...should." Patwin agreed, tugging her back toward him as if he meant to kiss her again, but instead spun her around and with a light slap of palm to her backside, sent her on her way. He watched as she hurried away and then turned to start helping unload. Only to catch Delsey's wide-eyed, brow lifted, mouth gaping gaze. With a soft fist, he popped the circle of the closed hand under Delsey's jaw to close it and reached into the wagon. "And so should you."

Delsey's mouth closed audibly, and then he laughed. "I know not what you did with my Bear Brother, but for the evening, I shall enjoy your company instead. He is much too stern of spirit for the most part. Welcome, Stranger. For tonight." Delsey shot a look Kuwan's way. To see how that was progressing. Only because of that! Okay? When Patwin knocked an elbow into his ribs, he set to work.

When Kuwan bumped up against him, he caught her with an arm around her waist. "The honor is mine, Kuwan. And yes, if you would have it so, I would sit with you around the fire." He had to force himself to pull his gaze away from hers to everyone busying themselves around them. "I will go help with the wagons." He made of motion of head in that direction, but was loathe to leave her so lingered. He cleared his throat, as if with resignation, and then released his hold on her, stepping away, and then another slow step, before he was turning to trot a path back to the wagon to assist there.

Mat stood back and watched for a few moments, not out of being lazy but out of seeing more than just those moving around. Interactions, reactions, changes that came with knowledge. He drew in a deep breath as if tasting life itself through the air brought into his lungs. Only a few moments passed before he was off to the wagons to help unload and carry the meat or hides to various destinations.

The stiffness that was set to her shoulders finally eased as there were no more intense verbal confrontations between Patwin and Conor. "I would have it so but first I must help the other women with the hides and meat," some would set to cooking too as there were her rabbit pies kept warm by the fire where they would be eating. Her smile was swift, one that lit up her eyes that he would be sitting by her when the time came. As he went off to help with the wagons she went off to help the other women with what was in the wagons.

Yas heard the interchange between Conor and Kuwan and stepped up to catch Kuwan. He leaned down so she could hear him, but no one else. "Conor must sit with the braves. But, after the ceremony, he can join you." His stern expression disappeared and he grinned. "We must recognize what he did today, Kuwan. He's done what few outside of our Clan have." He looked where Conor was working. "And he deserves the honor."

Conor had just handed off a good sized rear haunch of deer when his eyes drifted over to Kuwan, seeing Yas speaking with her. Ahshit. What did he do? The brave tried to take the heavy meat from his grip and actually tugged twice before the Quinn realized with an "Oh, sorry." and released his hold.

Patwin came up alongside Conor, hopping with ease up into the back of the wagon and tossed three pheasants to him with such quick succession that the man wouldn't have time to stare after Kuwan or he'd have a face full of feathers. He, himself, scooped up an arm full of limp squirrels and with his other hand, vaulted over the narrow side board of the wagon to the ground below. "She is going nowhere. These need to and have no other means but by us." A motion of head indicated waiting hands. "There."

Delsey was not far from the commotion and excitement of such a grand return, helping to tie up the boar to a branch so that they could just peel the tough, wire-haired hide from its body. His gaze touched on each of his brothers, he smiled as he saw Kali within the melee, and then darted back and forth between Conor and Kuwan. "Do you wish us to jump to reach the neck, Delsey?" The question caused him to look to the right and the younger man there whose neck was craned as he looked up. Delsey followed the man's gaze to the snout of the wild pig and that it almost was pressed to the large branch. "No, Black Sky, I meant for you to climb the trunk and leap, grabbing hold of the flap of skin and allowing gravity to pull you and the hide down. Easier, don't you think? Go on, start climbing." He elbowed the younger man as if to get him going. Black Sky looked down to Delsey, up to the boar, over to the large tree trunk. Another brave laughed as Delsey started to pay better attention and lower the large animal back down to their reach. That man spoke. "Delsey hides his own inability to concentrate on your willingness to obey, Black Sky. Do not take one step toward that trunk of tree or I will be forced to pray to the Great Spirit for fear you are weak minded, my brother." Delsey smiled, shrugging a shoulder to Black Sky as that brave shot a narrowed look his way. "I would have just joined in the prayers."

Kuwan let out a squeal as Yas caught her up. Surprise had eyes wide and brows up a moment before swatting that chest that she was practically up against, "don't scare me like that." Although the reminder went with their traditions. Ones they needed to get back to again. "Yes, he will sit with me later." Easing a step back with a glance over her shoulder only to catch Conor looking their way then the teasing he got for it. Not that she could hear them, but certainly she knew how it went. That was a good sign. A quick smile back Yas' way before she continued onward to help the other women.

Mat passed the threesome with a comment to Black Sky while Delsey lowered the hog, "I think you should have climbed the tree, grabbed the skin and jumped, showing it can be done." Now that would have shocked Delsey more. He was over then to give his brother a hand with lowering the hog and securing it in place before letting Black Sky and his brother have at it to learn. There would be a collection of hearts taken to be prepared special for the warriors that hunted today. Certain beasts for certain warriors all done up with certain spices and his special casting of spells over them. He would be taking care of that.

Yas laughed and planted a kiss to the top of Kuwan's head. "Forgive me, butterfly." He was still chuckling as he went back to work. With everyone helping the wagons were soon unloaded. The meal was prepared from food that they had at the ready, and soon everyone was settling around the fire, though before Conor could sit, some of the young braves grabbed him by the arms and practically dragged him to sit with them.

Milap watched with a smile then stood. "Tonight, our young men have become braves and this celebration is in honor of them. And we add to their names Con-ore Quinn." Milap nodded at Yas, who was standing behind Conor. "Stand, Conor and face me." When the Irish man did so, Yas used paints of red, blue and white to make three marks on his face. "After today, you are given the name Kuruk for standing firm in the face of the bear that charged you." The brave handed Conor a claw of the bear, with a string of rawhide for him to wear around his neck. Yas was barely able to keep from grinning as he spoke. "Face the Tribe so that any who would protest can speak." He lowered his voice as he added so only Conor could hear. "And you have the right to challenge them. By wrestling, not to the death."

And with that declaration, Kali looked at Patwin, dark eyes wide. The challenge was not unexpected but she wasn't sure what her husband would do; and she waited to see what happened.

With the order to stand, Conor did so, facing eye to eye with Yas as he spoke. Kuruk? Sounded good to him. He could only hope it didn't mean fungus or he who smells of dead meat. He liked the sound of it though, whatever it meant. Kuruk. Yes. He nodded ever so slightly to Yas before the markings, accepting the bear claw and rawhide with pride. But when the warrior added the next, he felt his chest tighten and he held his breath, his gaze searching the gathering until it hit on and locked with one particular Indian warrior.

Delsey, too, sat forward, seeking out and studying Patwin. It was Delsey who shoved up to stand. His hand, back side motioning toward Conor, palm to his people. "This man..." His hand, back side motioning toward Conor, palm to his people. "Drew the Bear with his motions out into the open, so that the great beast set his sights on him and none others" Yes, Conor stumbled back, retreating from the bear's attack. "This Bear charged and Conor stood." Backed up against a tree, he could go nowhere. "If any protest, they will challenge me as well." His stance widened, that arm joining the other folded across his chest.

Patwin had not moved, had watched, listened, saw the whole scene as it played out and could not help himself. He flattened a hand to the earth and used that to push himself up. He stood across from them, silent for the moment as that dark gaze traveled the distance of the fire over Delsey, Yas and then to Conor. His hands were at his sides but, not unlike Delsey, his legs were braced wider in a defensive stance. "Kuruk...if any challenge...then it shall be against me as well." Not many words, but the statement was made while holding Conor's gaze before moving to Yas. There, to their future intended leader, he inclined his head just a fraction out of the respect that man deserved. Then Milap received the same.

Mat was nodding during the whole interaction. "As with me and the Spirits too, anyone will need to face." Now that right there was pretty scary, no one messed with the Spirits unless you were a Shaman. Lips twitched as he brought the dish over to Conor. "You eat of Bear heart, Conor," once he took the piece, raw but spiced up in the ritual, "you become Kuruk as he now lives in you." Once Conor took the dish prepared for him, he would then bring one to each of the warriors that fought this day, the main kill they had. The rest of the hearts were cooked, spiced up and would be shared with the rest of the village as it made them part of the hunt this day too.

Kuwan's heart wanted to explode with pride for all the warriors, for Conor, for Mat, Yas, Delsey and Patwin, for all those that went and came back men with privileges that went with it after tonight. She had come to stand by Kali's side as she was sure her sister of heart.. heart was exploding with just as much pride. She didn't say a word as she looked her way then back to the men and the bond that was being formed.

Yas grinned as he stepped back and took his place again though he remained standing. Milap watched his adopted sons and their brothers with pride. Though he knew Yas denied that he would be leader, he showed that he would be a fine one. He felt pride in Mat and how he was progressing toward becoming the Shaman of the tribe when Milap was no longer able to guide the Clan. He nodded at Conor and once all had taken of the hearts, motioned for the food to be served. As he sat, he grunted. Being Elder meant he would be served first, but the sitting down again wasn't easy. Old bones creaked and groaned.

Kali smiled as Kuwan came to stand beside her. She put her arm around Kuwan's waist and leaned against her. She was proud of the young men and her husband and brothers. So very pleased for Conor and Kuwan.

Okay, you really did have to hand it to the man. Since Mat actually WAS handing it, as in the heart of a bear, to the man! Conor had swallowed only once before doing as he was told. When Milap sat, he watched as the others began sitting as well and crossed his legs to join them. His backside wasn't even to the ground before he had searched out and found Kuwan by Kali.

So the meal had begun, and later, after things were cleaned away, and the fire drew people closer while others drifted off to their shelters, Delsey might even tell the tale of the Great Kuruk against the Mighty Beast again. As it should be told, in honor of the Brave who faced death eye to eye. What were legends if not truths...spiced just enough to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Patwin would not be one that lingered but one that sought out the privacy of his home and the comforts...of his mate. He did, after all, have a promise to keep. And those of honor always kept to their oaths.

Once he had eaten his full, Mat would be off to the companionship of the stars and a full moon rising. He would do what he did best in his way to keep the clan safe and it would take him around the whole of the island in setting his wards of spirits. He would seek his spirit guide in case there was anything to come that he needed to know. Sometimes his brother found him and they walked a mile or so together. He enjoyed those walks too.

Once they had eaten, she would join Conor to sit by his side, bringing him yet another rabbit pie; whether he ate it or not, did not matter as much in the giving which was more traditional. Some were starting up a victory dance around the fire that included the children first before they were ushered off to bed. The dancing then became more intense with more meaning behind it as the young maidens joined in with the newly confirmed males. There were more to chose from as a mate. "Tell me of your adventure today," words were soft by Conor as she wanted to hear it from his own lips.

Kali quietly whispered to Kuwan that she would speak to her soon before she stood to join her husband. She was content, pleased with the events of the day. She leaned against him as they walked away, speaking quietly.

Yas watched as the stories and dancing began, smiling as he listened for a few moments. The young ones who were not dancing were listening to the stories with wide eyed wonder. Delsey especially was an excellent story teller. Yas moved away to speak to the Elders before he sought out his brother. It had been a good day, and for some, a good night. He would seek his rest soon enough.

As the evening came to a close, which was more like earlier morning, Delsey took Conor by the shirt along his shoulder, giving him a tug. "You can find your rest within our walls this night, Kuruk."

Conor looked up to him, then back over to Kuwan. He offered her a wink, leaned in quick to peck a kiss to her cheek then rolled to stand. "See you come morning, Kuwan. Sleep well. Pleasant dreams."

Kuwan was up, quick in step to approach Delsey, arms up and around his neck as she kissed his cheek. Nothing said, he'd know for they had always been good friends. Sometimes that counted more.. as friends often lasted better than lovers. But, she hoped to be one of the lucky ones and find her true mate. Time would tell. She was then around to face Conor, a peck more to the corner of his lips. "I will see you then and maybe go for a walk as the sun rises." That would be up to him if he wanted to get up that early.

The fire would be allowed to die slowly, some of the Clan staying awake, especially the young braves and maidens. Some would make their intentions known, some would wait. As the moon began to lower, the camp became quiet for the sounds of the night beyond. Crickets sang out their mating songs and the Island settled into sleep.


Post # 59


Post # 60


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