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Crystal-Gold Lake

Date: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Poster: 12-06-09
Post # 21

"If you think we should." He took the bottle then paused and gave his brother a devilish look. "Sure you want me drinkin' from the same bottle?" And as if to emphasize another sneeze broke loose.

"Aye. What are ya, cowards?" Karina hollered back towards the men, though she was grinning and clearly good-natured. Smirking back to Vanessa, "I think they'd rather stand there and drink..."

He gave a shrug of a shoulder but the smile was tipping off to the side again. "If you haven't already given it to me. Besides. the pure will kill any germs if germs there be."  Taking the bottle once he took a slug of it to take another.

Segan's comments though had her curious, clearly, as that light of thought came into her eyes. "Hmm." Pushing herself to her feet she wobbled a second, then attempted to push forward. Arms outspread as she glided forward for just one graceful moment... then her legs splayed and she nearly went down again.

"No thank you. I like my ankles in one piece." A wave to Segan and then back to Karina. "Probably. More fun to stand and watch others make a fool of themselves." She stayed there and watched Karina get up, smirking.

Turning attention back out over the ladies as Karina spoke up. "It's more fun watching you two crawl around out there while drinking potcheen."

A snicker fit though as she refused to give up just yet. "Lazy lout." That comment returned to Trevet.

"I've been called worse..." but he was laughing as he edged closer to the ice. "That's not bad. Try it on thin blades."

Vanessa snickered again and tried to get up now herself. Carefully...carefully...swing of arms. "Aha!" She was up on her feet. Wobbly and all and not trying to glide anywhere. Just stand there. "I might need rescuing!" Cute grin to Segan, maybe just a little mischievous.

Which had a wry grin surface as he was more concern at first they didn't go out too far and run into trouble. That would be plain stupid and just asking for it considering how big this lake was. How deep it was for that matter. He didn't have skates on but he knew how to skate as he used the motions with boot soles and out he went in Vanessa's direction. Next she would find an arm snaking about her waist as he turned her with him and in close so she didn't fall.

"I can barely move on me own two feet..." She called back to Trevet, as her knees wobbled once again. Deep breath of determination, she forced herself to steady for a second. Then she tried to do a little spin, arms out, feet brought in together in a twirl. It worked for just a second before she had to spread her feet apart again with a giggle.

He leaned to whisper something to his brother and waited to see if he agreed.

Slipping but not falling, she snickered some when Segan came out to her rescue. Latched onto his arm with a smile. " didn't even flinch out here!" So not fair.

"I had my days of learning, although it is better on skates designed for it." So more clumsy but he was taking her about slowly.

"Whoa!" Karina had ventured out a bit to give Segan and Van their space. She was occupied with improving her maneuvering on the ice. Pushing forward again to slide on one foot she just barely prevented herself from tumbling down again.

A long stare at his brother before shaking his head as the bit of fun would not be this night. He cupped his hands over his mouth as he called out. "That's the spirit, you're doing great." Hands lowering as he took the bottle from where he tucked it under his arm for another drink.

He just snickered and shook his head. He was starting to feel the effects of the cold so it was time for him to head out. "Night everyone." He gathered the shovels to take to the shed on his way.

"Har har." Just assuming that Trevet was being sarcastic she cast another smirk over her shoulder towards shore. "Night," that called out to Kynan on his way out.

Which he would take his leave with his brother because he knew he wasn't feeling well. "Have a good night, don't stay out too long." It was getting to that point where the cold would seep down to the bones no matter how good one layered their attire. All seemed to be fine and he had a few saddles to finish before the weekend was over to get them delivered.

Vanessa was just going to follow because she was in no place to try and argue. Wave given to Kynan. "G'night Kynan! and Trevet!" She looked over to Karina. "don't fall down!"

He watched them a few moments longer before turning on a booted heel and heading out. He was getting tired as well. Long day and it was going to be a long weekend.

He didn't want to ruin Treve's fun! But he'd be glad for the company as well. Everything tucked away and then on toward home. Unless he could talk Treve into staying at the Thistle. At least Aunt Hazel wouldn't scold.

"Night!" Called out once more as Trevet took his leave. A grin over to Van, "Too late for that." A laugh as she stumbled again then started making her painstaking way back towards shore.


He waved to them both as he helped Vanessa into shore. Coming up alongside Karina too in case she needed assistance. If that be the case, hopefully they both didn't pull him down!

Laughing some to Karina, she just shook her head. "Never too late for another one." Speaking of which another slip, but no fall unless Segan lost his balance and they all went toppling over.

Karina might be able to help with that because she 'accidentally' gave Segan a nudge on her way onto shore! A devilish grin as she then quickly skipped up and away.

It depended how she fell as he stopped to keep his balance while she regained hers. Then the nudge came and toppled him as Vanessa was still sliding and down he went in a roll with her. The roll only making them slide more but luckily towards shore. "I'll get you yet Squirt!" Laughing however and arms and legs becoming tangled with Vanessa's. They might end up looking like a pretzel.

"Dare ya to try," she called back. A wide grin as she watched the two of them roll and tumble together and not seem to mind it much. Shivering then as the cold caught up to her. "Brr. I'm too bloody freezing to stick 'round, see you lot back at the cottage!" And off she'd go at a quickened jog, arms folded tight against her chest as she aimed for the aviary.

"Whoa!" Down she went, with Segan to tumble and roll around, laughing the entire time.

It was getting late and the cold seeping in. He helped Vanessa up once they stopped sliding only to notice Karina had gone. So in that twilight of a wintry night in the silence of the lake, he drew her into his arms to hold and get warm.

She glanced to Karina when she headed off, then looked at Segan with a grin as she was pulled up onto her feet and close to get warm. She wrapped her arms around his sides and snuggled there.

He didn't say anything as he held her close, wrapped up well into his arms at the edge of the ice and shore. Closing his eyes instead as he soaked in the magical moment. Lips pressed against her headgear. One could almost hear the flakes touching upon the ground as they fell all around them. Finally he broke the silence in a roughen lower tone. "I wish to get to know you more, your past, your dreams, things a man should know about a woman he starts to spend a lot of his time with. There is no other." More in that he was not seeing a few ladies or the like.

She was quite happy right there in the warmth. Segan's warmth. An unseen smile to the crown of her head, which well...he'd be kissing the top of her hood. When he started to speak, she tilted her head back enough to look at him from under the furred hem of the hood with a smile. "I wish to get to know you in all the same ways. In all ways. You are the only." Assurance that there weren't others. Vanessa had never been able to fathom how women could have more than one personal interest and maintain them.

The best way was one at a time in seeing if it worked out or not than a multitude that only promoted confusion and hurt feelings. He couldn't resist when she tipped her head back, to draw her in full before drinking deeply of her lips. The kiss held fire in sharing warmth and he let himself become lost in the kiss, allowing all the feelings it promoted in him.

Happy for the kiss, always waiting for one of those private moments to share one, it was reveled and melted into while it lingered on and she could lose herself in it just as he did. His embrace warmed from the outside, the kiss warmed from the inside with her own fire to meld and mingle with his own. Momentarily broken only to be replaced with another.

One kiss led to another until both would be thoroughly kissed. He was taking full advantage of the moment, stretching them out for as long as he could. They got so few and he was getting in a fix of his newfound addiction. It was hard to describe how he felt and suspected it was how when one fell in love. He wanted to swallow her up into his being as if holding her wasn't close enough, the kiss wasn't all consuming enough. He finally lifted from the longer kiss in a sucked in breath before raining small kisses over her cheeks and nose. Words between each touch, "I... should... get.... you.. back.. before.. we.. both.. freeze." Or worse, take cold for being out so long. "Our.. carriage... awaits." The light touches finally finishing with one upon her lips again.

Addictions were dangerous, but this once certainly worth the risk. When the lingering affection came to an end to be sprinkled with simpler kisses, she smiled and returned those which she could while listening to him. "Aye...we probably should." Spoken in just enough time before he finished with that last kiss. It ended not quickly, but not lingering as the first had been. She looked up at him for a moment, smiling softening to her own thoughts. "You're going to spoil me with all of this time over the winter months and having this kind of time with you." Come spring when the waters thawed, he would be back to his norm of business and she feared not having the chance to see him nearly as much as she did now. Which wasn't enough. She wanted to spend more time with him and get to know him, but she accepted the time she did have with him and cherished it.

"I think it is I that is being spoiled by the most beautiful woman in the lands. You can argue with me on this but it is one you will lose for to me, you are." One never knew how things would turn out and better not to go there but be in the moment they had. Obviously he would find time where it mattered most. He was guiding her off the last portion of ice and up to the carriage to see her tucked within, a blanket pulled beneath the seat to lay over her before he was around to the other side and at her side before taking up the reins. "When do you plan to make the cookies?" He had not forgotten and had said he would help in their making or at least their decoration, iced? However she wanted them done. The horse was started up as the rungs dug in and they were off at a leisurely pace.

Another moment it paid to have rosy cheeks from the cold. His compliment had her blushing for sure. She followed to the carriage and once he was seated, she shared the blanket with him. "The night before. That way they're still fresh." Or mostly fresh. They wouldn't be rock hard or anything like that. Still needed to get out and get a tree too. That was the last bit of decoration she needed for the cottage. Something she, Karina, Segan and Eion were all supposed to do together, but she wasn't going to try and push Eion for it. Just because he already seemed slightly put off for the whole Santa thing, which she was still hopeful would cheer him up some.

Eion had his demons as did some others and one could not run nor ruin their lives by them. It bothered Segan on his brother and he had tried a few things only to be met with a very frigid cold front so gave it up. Eion was going to have to struggle through whatever it was he fought on his own. Well, he had a good idea and honestly, it was a demon only Eion could face. Reins switched to one hand as the other arm came around her to draw her close to have tucked in against his side. He knew she had thoughts she didn't express much like himself but he felt he was sensing them a lot more and in time they would easily say whatever was on their minds or know without need of words as that communication got stronger. To be honest, he wasn't sure Eion would be approving of him getting with anyone for that matter, not just it being her. And he felt it had a direct connection with his own problem. Segan knew he was going to need to possibly face off his brother but there was a time to do such and not. Just like he felt Karina wouldn't have responded so positively to what was growing between them a month ago. Least that was the impression he got. He wasn't going to give up something that was true of heart between them for anyone. It was not right, he was no martyr either.

Everyone had their demons. Vanessa could relate on some level for she had her own that she dealt with. It was just a part of life, but how one dealt with those demons made all the difference in day to day life. Her lack for talking about personal things was just something she'd learned along the way of being brought up and educated in being a lady in waiting. It wasn't for her to burden others with her problems. Part of her upbringing. Her sister was her confidante, and since she was married and had a life far away, Vanessa had learned to deal with keeping things to herself. Hopefully Eion would come around though. Maybe his role as Santa would brighten the holiday some for him. Who knows and only time will tell. The event wasn't far off. Pulled into Segan's side, she snuggled against him and laid her head against his shoulder, enjoying the time with him and the drawn ride. This would be a good first holiday for her, away from the family and friends she'd had in the past. "I've been meaning to ask, what color will you be wearing to the ball?" If they were to be assisting in welcoming those attending the ball, she planned to wear a similar color to what he intended to wear.

"I'm not sure but if you have something in mind I can make sure it will compliment." Not something he had ever had to consider before. Coordinating what one wore. Had a grin sneaking up on him as he only snugged her closer. "This late hour, would you mind me staying the night at your place?" They could leave the carriage at the Thistle for a lad to see it down to the stable and all taken care of being the distance from there was not all that far to her place.

"Well, I have two gowns suitable. One is white, the other is a sort of champagne color." Both of which would be easy to match to whatever he decided to wear. "No, you're welcome to stay at the cottage. Give Karina more to snicker about." Which had her laughing quietly. She was learning to adore Karina like a younger sister. Which reminded her. "Karina is going to come to the ball as well."

"Champagne, I like the idea of that color." Just he could picture her in that than the other. "I'm sure anything I wear will compliment then." Made it easier on him. Smile spread as she took up his offer, "let her tease, we'll get even." It would all come around and probably Karina knew that, why she got in as much as she could before the other shoe fell.

Karina had a crush and Vanessa knew it! "I'm sure anything will compliment the color. It's a very light, but rich color." A gown she'd had for a while without purpose of wearing it until now. She looked forward to the chance.

Soon the carriage was taken care of and he to walk with her the rest of the way to her cottage. It would be done with a strong arm around her shoulders tucking her in close yet able to set a pace that was comfortable.

It would be a brisk walk. She was ready for the warmth of the fireplace and chance for her nose and cheeks to thaw out. But again, happily she walked along with Segan, tucked into his side almost like she was meant to be right there.

Perhaps a cup of tea before settling in for the night, he to her spare room of course. Otherwise Karina would have a lot to tease them on!


Good thing the cottage had two spare rooms! No, just a pile of pillows and blankets from where she'd been tailoring their elf costumes with Karina's company.



Date: 12-13-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 22

Dragon Run Test Drive

The snow run was completed as they had come out earlier to find Rhett and Douglas here and so helped them out. It went much faster but the lads were expected home to Dunshire for a big meal so had left. Segan stood admiring the run and a gleam in blue eyes much like when he was ten. "So, are you going to bet me you can make it further than myself, Eion? My jacks and ball for your best shooter marble?" A bet they had once made when kids.

He straightened up from where he had been checking the laces of his boots and just looked at Segan a moment. "You have to be kidding... you're planning to bet me at sledding?" He snorted as he adjust the scarf he wore. "I've not been on a sled in years." Though he was eyeing the run thoughtfully.

"Neither have I, all the more reason we should don't you think?" It was a beauty and a definite challenge. "I think Trevet made those bumps up there in the first part. We're not that old yet. One day we will be and looking back saying either we should have gone every chance we had or proud that we had. Choice is ours now."

"It's insane. We're grown men, not lads." But there was a hint of a smile as he looked at his brother. "I'll deny I've been on it." Maybe.

"I'll get you one of Rhett's knives if you can beat me, otherwise you get me one." Always good to sweeten the pot for the challenge. He took up his toboggan and headed for the top. He was going down regardless.

Segan came prepared? He had to laugh and headed for the shed to collect one of those stored there. Then he would be trudging after his brother. He was glad for all the training he'd had, at least he wasn't winded as he climbed though the snow although he did stop to look out over the lake once or twice.

Vanessa had spent the day traveling to and from Eldyn to return Grady's wagon sleigh to him, and take a couple small gifts for him and the Missus. She and Tennison made the ride back in good time, and had opted for the road that would lead them by the lake, curious to see how the sled run was coming along, or had in this case since it was finished.

Not only did he have his sled but had treated it and the bottom all waxed. He was studying the snow run ahead of them before glancing off to spy Eion and see if he was getting a sled. It was then he noticed a familiar horse and rider come into view as he did a flagging wave of an arm.

Seeing the wave, Vanessa gave Tenni a small nudge of her heel and stepped the horse up just a touch towards the run, impressed by the size and detail of it. Much more than she expected it to be.

Ah hell. There was a witness but he had joined Segan and wouldn't back down now. "I'll deny it if she tells anyone too."

"At least Karina is not here for you'd never hear the end of it." Then again the very fact he said her name might bring the little devil around. He would start the run as he backed up enough and ran, leaping down as the toboggan hit the packed snow and off he went.

The forest was cold, and the lake up ahead she could see was frozen. There were voices she could hear in the distance, and the sounds of something sliding against the snow. Tilting her head, she moves among the trees before poking her head out, looking around. Blue scales shimmer in the light provided by the moon, and now seeing someone sliding on a shiny thing, she stares, transfixed.

He barely managed the bump and was picking up speed down the first slick straight away. The first embankment was coming up and he hoped it was backed enough or he'd be eating snow real quick.

Vanessa approached where the men were standing at the top of the run with a smile to...well Eion since Segan had already headed down the slide. "The slide looks fantastic!"

It seemed the top part was not packed all that well as he tried to hang on, boot out dragging to try and keep it from leaving the run when part of the embankment gave way. That did the trick as he didn't lose too much speed and would pick it up again as he made the first turn to the left then another quick one to the right. He could see all the bumps coming up that Trevet had so painstakingly placed.

Slowly her body begins to emerge. About the size of a really large horse, the baby blue dragon would make her way slightly closer to where the man was sliding along on the thingy. Large wings, somewhat fin-like, folded against her back as she saw him coming a bit closer, and backs up, making a chirping noise before running out onto the frozen lake.

"It'll get better as it gets packed down." Though so far, it looked bloody good. He watched with a hint of a smile, waiting to see what the bumps were like.

He hit those bumps and swore his teeth were going to clatter right out of his head. Made his whole body tingle.. "Vvvvvaaaa..nnnnnnnaaaaa....saaaaaaaaa," called having it sound really funny. Now he was headed for the packed up turns one after another.

Vanessa smirked, drawing Tenni to a stand still and looking over the length with a laugh, hearing Segan. She looked up at Eion. "Don't tell me that you are going to try too?" Flashing a grin up to him.

One. Two. Three, starting to get blinded by the speed, Four, Five, Five.. no that was six as the water in his eyes froze. His lips too numb to call out but certainly thrilling and hoping he had enough speed for the dip and incline.

He moved over a few steps to watch then looked at Vanessa. "I wasn't planning on it until he bet me. Can't turn down a bet. Be an affront to me heritage."

Eion seemed in good spirits! It was nice to see. "Nor would I expect you to. Good luck to you, Eion." She noted the blue dragon across the way and looked to where Segan was coming up, to watch.

His toboggan was slowing down to a point he didn't know if he had enough speed to make that bump up ahead to bring him through the dragon's head.  He didn't, so close and yet so far as he was faster going in the opposite direction back down the slope, spinning up and off the side into an embankment.

"Holy ... " Maybe this was a mistake. He waited to see if Segan came out of the embankment or they'd need be digging him out. "Segan?!"

The man crashed, and now she slowly moves closer to the embankment, trying to use her jaws to grab at the thing that he was riding, trying to drag it back to the lake. If she could dig into the ice then she could hide in the lake! But hearing someone call for the man, the little blue would stare, trying to dash to grab at the toboggan.

He rolled off the toboggan and onto his back, letting go a loud. "Arrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhh," type laugh. A moment later he was catching Vanessa by the hand and dragging her down with him.

She'd gone to make sure that Segan was alright just to be grabbed and yanked down! Didn't take much for her to topple over, laughing. "Segan Quinn!" And swatted a mitten hand at him.


"What in the hell ... " He was staring at the small dragon. Well, smaller than the one that had come to the estate. "Segan, something is trying to steal your toboggan." He was hoping the cold wasn't causing him to see things.

"Ada's thingy!" Now the toboggan was within her jaws and being dragged towards the frozen lake, staring at the lot of them as she lets out a growl, sounding something like a small dog trying to act big.

Except he saw his toboggan being taken by ... something, "HEY!" Called really loud as he had made that one himself an spent hours fixing it up just to use in these runs. A quick kiss stolen while he could as he managed to get up with Vanessa with him. "Did you see that thing?" Which had him taking out a folded mirror from an inside pocket of his jacket to reflect the moonlight over the lake.

Now she had it in her mouth, moving out over the lake and digging at the ice with her claws. The wooden thing was hanging from her mouth, and she tries to get down to the water before they can take it away from her.

Just barely caught sight of something stealing the toboggan and assumed it was the dragon. Quick kiss returned, then helped onto her feet. "I think it was a dragon..." Coat dusted off, looking for a way out of the dip.

"Be right back," which he was up to the shed to pick up one of the silvery disks. One that was pretty beaten up and seen better days but was still shiny. He was out onto the ice, not unlike the other night and skating on his boots towards the dragon. "Hey, Dragon...dragon, dragon," waving the shiny disk to get her attention.

Oh...and that was very, very shiny...Shimmering blue eyes lock onto the disk, the wooden toboggan still dangling from her mouth. "Shiny..."

Well, the only way he was going to get down there was to go down the blasted run. He tested it by pushing it back and forth briefly, then started off. And no one was watching. Even better. Not knowing if the sled was waxed, he pushed it off with a run and jumped on. And added a prayer.

It was a lot more shiny than wood could ever be, moving it around so it would catch the moonlight to beam off it. He was standing a distance away and the only way the dragon could possible go for the shiny would be to drop the toboggan and come after it.

Vanessa followed out towards the lake, but not onto it. She learned a few nights ago that ice was not Vanessa-friendly. Hearing the toboggan scrape against the snow, she looked back towards Eion and smiled.

Ugh. Looked like it was going to bog down.  And unfortunately perhaps for him, he got it going again. Somehow.

Slowly she would come towards the man with the big shiny disc, slowly moving to let go of the wooden toboggan so it clattered onto the ice. Tilting her head as she comes closer to the man. "Shiny for Ada?"

Ohhell! There were the first turns. Though, if anyone could hear over the scraping of the sled and what was going on down at the bottom ... Eion was laughing.


Oooo! Eion was laughing! Her attention went between Segan and the dragon and Eion coming down the run with a smile.

"Yes," once she let go of the toboggan he tossed the shiny in the opposite direction out further onto the lake. It sparkled as it slid, skittering over the smooth ice. "Catch," soon as she went after it, it would be hers, he was over to get his toboggan and hoped it wasn't damaged. He could hear his brother as he shot a glance from where he stood. Good view as he cupped a hand over his mouth. "Come on EION!"

As soon as the shiny was tossed, nothing more needed to be said. With a chirping roar she heads after it, pouncing the shiny and holding it within her claws even as she goes down rather hard. Rolling onto her side with it, the claws on her front and hind parts hold it while she licks at it, gently gnawing on the shiny metal as well.

And the bumps were coming up. He yelled out something as he hit the bumps, and though most wouldn't know it because it was Irish Gaelic, Segan would!  And he still deny he had been on the run or laughed!

The dragon was happy, Segan was happy to have the toboggan back he made and Eion was happy as he heard that laughter all the way out to the lake. Voice traveled out here better for some reason. Open space, clear clean air and the trees and shrubs barren, what ones could be seen for the snow. He headed in to come up alongside Vanessa and watch his brother. Maybe rattled his teeth right out for all the cussing! But maybe he could be resourceful to keep on his sled.

She smiled up to Segan then back to the run. "Come on, Eion! You can make it!"

She was definitely happy with her shiny, and continues to hold and gnaw on it as she stares at the other man coming down the big slope. Was this a human fun thing to do?

He'd have to check later to make sure he hadn't lost a tooth or bitten his tongue for all the bouncing. It sure felt like it. The toboggan was gaining speed and he couldn't see a blasted thing for the way his eyes were watering.  His whole face felt frozen as he started into those series of turns.

Eion could deny it all he wanted, but he'd know every time she smiled at him, she knew he had laughed! "Looks like he's slowing down."

And then he was spinning out of control, the toboggan flying over the embankment while Eion ended up in the snow. He laid there for a few moments, catching his breath before he stood, snow covered and slightly disoriented from the spinning.

"Looks like he got wiped out on the succession of turns." They were wicked and he didn't make it much pass that point either. He was quick from Vanessa's side to make sure Eion was all right. A hand coming to thud against his arm, "speak to me old man." Considering he was only a year older than himself.

"Oh no!" She followed Segan and went over to where Eion had landed. "Eion, are you alright?" Looked at him, reaching out to dust off some of the snow.

He blinked a few times then nodded. "Aye, I'm fine. But I don' t'ink eit'er one o' us won t'at bet." He gave another shake of his head, chuckling when he heard the heavier brogue. "Maybe I hit me head."

She dusted off a bit more snow and smirked at him. "You're not allowed to scare people like that, Eion."

"I wonder if anyone's made it down that." And then he paused. "I have snow down me shirt." Cold!

Which had this thought that maybe it would shake loose all the negative he'd been carrying around with him. Odd thought. "I think we are the first ones on it. As you know, Rhett and Douglas had to leave before we finished cleaning up. The one embankment needs a little more work and we can add those spine spikes."

"So ... whose is that?" He pointed to the blue dragon chewing on her shiny before he looked up. "The embankment I flew over." Vanessa got a look. "You're not going down?"

She saw the crash, but she had her shiny thing. All else was gone in her little world as she takes to it like a child with a stuffed animal.

She glanced at the dragon and shrugged. Not the one she knew and hadn't seen in a while, then looked back to Eion and shook her head. "After seeing you fly? Not likely." Grinning.

"I could take you down if you'd like, my toboggan wasn't damaged." Luckily. Which he took the moment to look out over the lake and the dragon having fun with the silver disc.

She looked at Segan and shook her head. "I think I'll wait until the embankment is fixed first. Then I will hold you to that offer."

It was late too, "I'll hold you to it. It will have you clinging to me for dear life." Which he hoped so very much by the way he said it, wicked grin to follow.

"Bah." He had to find that toboggan too, so he went over the embankment to look for it.

She was on her back on the ice, seemingly not being bothered by the cold in the least. Claws along the inner curve of the shiny disc as she bounces it up and down and rolls around with it.

"I hope you do." Grin to Segan, she watched Eion go off to look for his toboggan. "Eion, now that I know you can smile, I expect to see it now and then. Will it take a sled run to get one from you?"

"That was a one time event." He'd only gone on it because no one else had been around. "I don't plan on getting me teeth knocked out of me head again." And he was back after tugging the sled free of some branches. "You heard Segan call me old man. Too old for tomfoolery." Again there was just a hint of a smile, nothing more.

"I wonder if the dragonette is Morjin's?" Mussed out loud as he continued the watch what appeared to be a baby dragon rather than a full grown one. It was still pretty big. "Don't believe a word he says. You'll get to see that smile again but you'll have to not draw attention to it." Or Eion clammed up.

She glanced over to the dragon and smirked to Segan. "Perhaps. I've not seen Morjin in quite some time." Then back to Eion. "Tomfoolery? You sound like my grandfather. And you don't have near as many wrinkles as he does. Still one or two shy." Grin was tightlipped to keep from chuckling with a nod to what Segan said.

Soon her attention would turn to the others that had seemed to look at her, and moves to get onto her feet, scooting a bit closer with the disc dome against her belly as she moves along. They seemed to be nice, they weren't screaming, or at least one of them wasn't now that he had crashed.

"More like Eionfoolery," grinning but focus was on the blue dragon coming their way. "Do you like your shiny, Ada?" Now his brother and Vanessa would learn of her name.

Nodding, she tilts her head as she looks to all of them. Being as large as a massive warhorse, she was still rather young. Flapping her wings a little before shifting them and settling them on her back. Claws coming protectively around the dome of the shiny. "You give Ada shiny."

"Yes, it is yours to keep." He doubted anyone would miss it here for it was battered up and the little dragon held onto it like it was the finest jewel in all of the nations.

Smirk to Segan, she turned to look at the dragon who came closer. Apparently her name was Ada. She just smiled lightly though and watched.

"Thank!" Stroking it with her claws like it was her precious, she then looks to the others, shimmying a bit closer as she looks to the female one of the group. "You the mama?"

He just snorted, then looked at Segan. Ada? He just shook his head then looked back at the run. "Embankment, spines or Thistle?"

The mama? Ouch! Little bit of a frown, she shook her head. "No, I'm not." Did she really look that old?!?

Not that at all! Ada had only seen women with males when they had young ones. In most cases they screamed when seeing Ada. Seeing the frown, she said something bad...and pouts a little. "You pretty."

"Thank you." A little smile given, she looked towards Eion. "I say Thistle for warming up before heading home."

"I would say this late, the Thistle for something warm to drink." This to Eion as he nudged Vanessa to tease, "you'd make a good mama one day."

She nudged him back and smirked. "Someday, maybe. Right now I do good to take of the birds."

"Let me take this back to the shed." He turned and walked away, dragging the toboggan behind. Once it was safely in the shed, and the door secured, he joined them again.

"Ada want fish..." Her stomach was growling, and she moves to try and dig her claws into the ice once more, though it was a bit thick for her.

"There is a spot down towards the large cove on the other side of that hill," which he was pointing. "There are some holes from where a few went ice fishing." A designated area and marked off from anyone going ice skating so they didn't trip up on any of the holes, though they were small. "Let me put my sled in the shed here," this to Eion and Vanessa as he might as well being it was all fixed up and he'd only be using it down here. He was quickly on the move to take care of it.

Vanessa went to pick up Tenni's reins then went to join Eion and Segan when he was ready. She looked to Eion. "That was a good run you did. You had a really great start."

Looking to where he was pointing, she gives a bit of a nod and begins to shimmy once more towards that area. Ice fishing, still meant fish! She had heard the name Morjin mentioned, but didn't know that name. Now she was trying to get through the snow with her shiny in her undercarriage.

"That first part bogged me down. I didn't think I'd get anywhere." He watched the dragon as he continued. "Those bumps are another thing altogether. Thought I knocked a tooth out." He looked at Segan for his opinion on them. That is, if Segan had returned!

He was back to pick up on the conversation. "Aye, didn't think I would make it past that first embankment, part of it fell off." Which would be fixed along with any other area needing tending. The dip before going up to the dragon's head needs to be packed down more, made more slick to get up the speed needed." Though that was a lot of the challenge, few would make it.  Being he and his brother walked down, he would start up a pace towards the Thistle.

"It was still a good first run though." Or so she thought. At least the run didn't totally fall out from beneath them.

It was a hard climb, but she finally learned to put the shiny disc in her mouth before she continued up and towards where the holes were so she could get some fish.

"Aye, wasn't bad at all." He agreed before starting right behind Segan. He was starting to feel the cold seep through his gloves. Wouldn't be long before he was cold through and through.

Why the stop at the Thistle would be perfect timing and a nice way to end the evening before all were off to seek their beds. Of course Segan would see Vanessa to her doorstep.


-continued in Thistle folder-

Date: 12-18-09
Poster: Trevet MacKay
Post # 23

Toboggan Run Fun

Trevet was considering taking the dragon run but he was here by himself so made a few hidden mini snow forts, built up walls that blended in with nature with piles of snowballs hidden away inside them. He was well bundled up from head to toe that even his brother might not recognize him other than he had said something earlier about heading here.

Vanessa and Karina had left the cottage a short bit ago. Despite the cold weather and likely snow, a walk was indeed called for and they opted to take Amergin with them so he could go snow drift diving. Vanessa was bundled in her usual layers with her coat over that, all fur lined and warm with her gloves, but hands were stuffed into her pockets also. Not sure how far they'd go, they had decided for the walk then possibly stopping at the Thistle after.

From an unseen source, snowballs came flying overhead crashing into branches of trees above the two walking. He had no idea who they were and the branches instead dumped snow on anything or ones below.

Karina was in a fine mood despite the freezing cold, and she tromped along in the snow. Swathed in several layers of wool from head to toe, she was warm enough as she alternately walked or chased Amergin across the snow. The northern-bred pup was in his element, yipping and bouncing along with even more energy than his master. Karina was just about to scoop her pup up when suddenly - "Oof!" A bucketful of snow, it felt like was dumped upon her head.  A groan which was half a laugh as she attempted to clear the snow from her eyes, "Not again..."

Vanessa had given into the chase as well playing with the pup and was just about to make a (not so) strategic attack on Karina when snow dumped over on her. Squeak and look around, laughing some, shaking the snow from her  "That was not nice.... "

They were met with silence as Trevet had stealth in moving away to another area of wall and balls stored away. He would leave the two wonder as he noticed the pup too. Only thing left behind were his tracks and there were tracks all over the place from the crowd earlier during daylight down to have fun at the lake. Many had gone ice skating as there were benches in place for ones to sit and change the shoes to skates or skates to shoes or just sit and watch. Most of the snow gone from the ice as it was cleared away. The run showed the signs of being used as it was far more packed down and slick. Faster that way.

"Wonder where that came from...." But as the girls dilly-dallied the husky was on a mission. Nose to the ground he was sniffing along intently, following a trail that only his keen nose could detect. Karina snickered as Amer made his way, if anyone could find their assailant, Amergin could!

Here's hoping! Vanessa brushed off the snow from Karina's shoulder and smirked. "Who knows. With all the men around her that enjoy their pranks on one another, it could have been anyone." Then watched as Amergin went on the snoop.

That's when he started tossing balls down towards the lake for the dog to chase. Once Amer got close enough, whip. Trevet had a very good arm. Now the pup would be going nuts when the ball landed and became part of the snow on the ground. He was also in a range far away from where snow dumped on them from the tree branches. He had a good arm, but not that good.

"Oh bloody hell - Amergin!" But Karina was laughing as the pup abandoned his mission to chase snowballs, yipping and almost running in circles in his eagerness. A snicker as she watched him from some distance, "So much for loyalty... " She glanced overhead again, snow still melting on her hat, then shrugged towards Vanessa. No more attacks thus far. Maybe it had just fallen off the tree?

She laughed at the pup who was easily distracted and shook her head. "So much for it. Can't blame him though. Must be more fun to chase snowballs than go snooping." No more snow would be falling on her. She was quick to get out from under the trees and wait there for Karina.

Trevet was pretty tall, far taller than the two ladies as he heard their voices and recognized them. Having been here for hours and having fun in the snow, he looked like the abominable snowman. Layered clothing, cloak that went down to his calves, boots were fur lined, face all but covered in a scarf except for his eyes, hat pulled down to meet where his brows would be. He leaped up, charging down the hill with snowballs in hand and a growled out, "ARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGG."

Kynan figured that Treve had headed for the lake and that's where he went, though he was trying to sneak figuring he'd get creamed otherwise if his brother was about. In spite of having had a good time at the ball, he was still a touch under the weather. And he got at the lake just as his brother was doing an imitation of a snow monster. Of course, he wasn't sure it was Treve.

"Shyte, we're under attack!" Karina yelped, forgetting her language but laughing. Hey, she wasn't at the ball anymore! She was wearing a dress but it was thickly layered with pants underneath and worn under a long woolen coat.  Karina threw one hand over her head, grabbed Van's arm with the other hand and started to run! Though she'd be trying to scoop up some retaliation snowballs along the way.

Vanessa hadn't been expecting the monster to come stomping down the hill! Another squeak, she was reaching for Karina's hand while Karina was reaching for her arm. "Come on, we'll go over to that bank over there!" Laughing and pointing to where she was talking about, trying to scoop up snow along the way while running with Karina. A couple glances back to see if she could tell who it was, but no luck.

As Karina was trying to scoop up snowballs to retaliate with, he was aiming his at Vanessa to distract her before he was scooping up Karina as his captive. Trevet was not only tall, he was strong and fast. He also had momentum on his side as up she went over his shoulder, snowballs all gone and he in a fast run in the opposite direction towards one of his hidden walls. If he was successful in reaching it, once there he would set her to the ground and press a finger over his lips while looking back to see if anyone came after them.

"Aaah!" Karina wasn't really afraid but she hollered anyway, laughing even as she beat at her captor with hands against his back. Being the scrappy wee thing that she was, it wouldn't be too difficult for Trevet to carry her like a sack of potatoes. She recognized the man in the second before she was hanging face-down over his shoulder. She protested all along the way of course though when he set her down and made that gesture, she arched an eyebrow and crossed her arms, and whispered back, "And what do I get for my silence?"

The distraction was only good for a minute. Once the snowballs stopped, she was looking around to see...someone tote Karina off. Laughing the entire time, "Hey! You can't have her!" Unfortunately, Treve was faster than Vanessa was, but she ran after him nonetheless! "Bring her back!" And during the run, she slipped, fell and before she could get up, Karina and the mystery assailant have disappeared. "Amergin!" Calling the pup over to help her find them.

He was transposing his voice out over that distance to fill the silence of the night. Throwing his voice in a higher pitch, best he could manage. "Ohhhh... myyyyy... ABOMINABLE.... you ... are ... so... big..." like it was suppose to be Karina but anyone could tell it wasn't her of course. Eyes held the laughter withheld turned on her to finally answer her question. "What would you like?" Low in a far more masculine baritone.

Amergin was again spinning himself into circles, yipping and over-excited but he bounded over to Vanessa at her call. Though his ears quirked and he barked again at the strange high-pitched voice calling.

Pleasurable moaning and even some groaning followed as if the captive and snowman monster were doing naughty things somewhere in the forest where it started not far from the dragon's run.

Karina's lips pressed together as her big eyes stared back at Trevet, trying hard to look stern and to not burst into giggles. She had to really swallow her chortles as she heard Amergin going nuts. Trevet's question elicited another brow quirk.... but when the moaning and groaning started. "Alright that's enough," said with a grin as she popped her head up from behind the wall and started waving her arms wildly. "Help, help, I'm being ravished by the Abominable Snowman!"

Vanessa got up and pointed in the direction Treve had carried Karina off. "Go find her, Amergin!" Then all the strange sounds started, she looked around, not quite sure where they were coming from. ....and cracked up laughing.

And he was up, towering over her, "GRRRAAAWWWWLLL..." hands moving in mock ravishing before he pulled her into his arms and started rolling over and over in the snow in a tumbling down the hill towards the others.  Of course the pup would be all over them both, jumping back and forth, half nipping and barking as he chased the rolling human log.

Oooookay, that had to be Treve. He chuckled and started out along the path they had made, whistling to himself as he did. Though he stopped to pause and watch the human snowball. He had no intentions of becoming part of it.

"Ack!" Another yelp as she was suddenly grabbed and sent a-rolling. All she could do was close her eyes, hang on and not forget to breath! When they finally landed she'd be panting nonetheless and scrambling to free/right herself.

"Wow, Treve, talk about sweeping a lass off her feet." He snickered as he called out. "Oh, look, a big ol' snowman and a teeny one."

He only added another light layer of snow over his cloak. Couldn't feel it as he was up and helping her up. It was all in fun. "If only I could, Kynan." Giving Karina a wink as a dimple came with his smile. "Want to go down the toboggan run with me?" He had his toboggan here too.

Heart was hammering quickly and while she glanced up to Trevet with a wavering smile she paused before grabbing his hand to pull herself up. Breathless laugh allowed to escape at his comment though the sound was a bit absent.  Reaching down to pet Amergin and calm him, and herself somewhat she focused upon the innocently smiling Trevet and made herself answer. "Toboggan? Sure...." First time for everything she guessed.

"Kynan, did you bring your toboggan?" Wondering as he pointed to where his was then went in a pace Karina could easily keep up with him to the awaiting toboggan. Once there the rope was caught up as it wasn't much further to the top of the slide. He would help her into the toboggan and slide in behind her to maneuver it, both the rope in hands and the use of his feet when necessary. She would end up spooned against him. Vanessa was no where in sight.

"Aye. Just left it back a bit at the path." He was over to collect it, adjusting his scarf as he did. It wouldn't help his eyes but he should have his breath taken away by the wind. He trudged the rest of the way to join them.

Karina glanced over when she belatedly recognized Kynan, offering a wave and crooked smile to one of the few men she'd danced with recently at the Ball. And then she was being ushered along to see exactly what a toboggan was. Glancing to Treve she did as instructed and settled down on the sled, skinny legs bent at the knee as her petite frame easily fit. Even when Trevet settled in behind her, making her glance back with another quick lopsided grin.  Calming her nerves with a self-assurance that these were friends and everything was alright. She made herself not fidget either where she sat. Old instincts and all, it was still difficult to fight the FLEE impulse sometimes.

Kynan could start once they were passed the third section to be a safe distance. She was met with a big grin as dark eyes met with that twinkle in them. It looked really long.. and steep at the top. "Here we go, ready or not," as he pushed off and they started picking up speed right away especially with two on the toboggan.

He wiggled his gloved fingers in a wave as he reached the top, grinning at Karina though it could likely only been seen in his eyes. Half his face was covered with the scarf and he wore his knit hat. Then he put the sled down and watched.

They were picking up good speed as the first turning wall was coming up fast, "hoooooold... on!" was all he got out.

Oh shyte...." Nervous laugh as she muttered this under her breath, looking down the hill and gripping the sides of the toboggan tightly. And they were off! She yelled in a way that picked up pitch and volume as they went, "aaaaAAAAAIIIIEEEE!"

WHOOSH to their right as the sled tipped up in that direction then down before they were SWOOSH up the one on the left which all but spit them out on the bumpy stretch he had made. thud thud thud thud thud, "aarrreeee ... yoooouuuu alllll riiigggggttttt..." his voice bouncing as much as they were on the sled and he holding onto her.

"Aah!" Karina held on for dear life, eyes alternatively squinting against the rush of wind and widening at some new obstacle. "WAAH!" Yelping at each swoosh but as they went her exclamations were becoming followed by laughter.  "Tthhhhiiis.... iiiiiis.... AMAZINGGGG!" She answered with a grin shot over her shoulder before squeaking at a particularly big bump, leaning back against him and holding tightly still.

They were bounding right off the track and going fast still, threatening to go up over the side as he tried to shift his weight with hers to get back on it.  But they didn't make it and flew up over the embankment, spilling them out there. He laid on his back laughing but then was up to make sure she was all right.

He was standing at the top just grinning as he watched. But then they wiped out. Rather than start down, he waited. Wanted them out of the way in case he did the same thing.

"Wooaah-!" Her yell cut off when they were thrown right off course and into the snow. She rolled a couple of times before coming to a rest flat on her back. Chest heaving to catch her breath but then she was giggling up at Trevet as he stood over her. "Let's try again!"

"Kynan goes next but would you like to try it on your own? You can use my toboggan." Which it and them were unharmed. Too much snow and too many layers of clothing to really get hurt. They were off the track so Kynan could go anytime ready.

"Look out below!" He yelled at the two before trying to push off with his own toboggan . Let's see if he bogged down like they did at first, and then got going again.  Weeeelll, slow but at least he didn't bog down and the sled started to pick up speed as he came to the turns. Hopefully he'd not go sailing by his brother and Karina.  He leaned with the first turn, laughing as he came close to the top and then turning the other way. Now were the bumps and he tried to not grit his teeth or bite his tongue as he hit them.

"On my own?" She didn't look so sure about that, even if she was still smiling as she watched Kynan. "Doin' good!" She yelled with a laugh after him.

He watched as his brother went sailing by them on the run. "Look at him go!" Pointing.

And he was going over them, yelling out as he bumpbumpbumped. "Hhhh---oooool'----lllllll --- yyyyyy ..... ! " Eyes were starting to water as he picked up speed and headed into the series of sharp, quick turns. He could barely tell where he was.  And then he was coming to the part that led to the dragon's head, downhill, then up and into the final stretch. Didn't even have time to think if he had enough speed.  And he did it! But boy, did those icicle teeth look intimidating, even through watery eyes. Still he let out a whoop. Even if he didn't make it, it was a good run. And it was rough in there, he felt himself losing control of the sled and did his best not to get dumped or knocked off the toboggan.

It certainly was as he was intently watching to see if his brother made it all the way through or got caught up in the icicles and it seemed that is where he did, waiting for him to go down the tongue and be flipped over like a pancake.

And the toboggan came flying out of the dragon's head, leaving Kynan somewhere inside, laughing. He wasn't quite sure how that happened but at least the toboggan made it!

Karina's eyes widened as he kept going and managed to hold on even as the toboggan swerved and wove crazily. A laugh let out as he seemed to almost make it... then a groan and wince as he wiped out.

It was icy inside there and he had to crawl out on hands and knees, slipping back a few times. "Whooooa! That's even better than last year!"

"No one has made it all the way through yet this year." Although ones had made it all the way through former years but then many had tried and it had only begun here.

"Hmmm." Just watch that determination spark in her eyes. She was gonna try it herself at some point and maybe even make it... after some practice! Though it was growing late and that would have to be some other evening. She snickered and clapped as Kynan crawled out on hands and knees. "Not bad!"

"It's slick inside there." He laughed as he finally stood and went for his toboggan, forgetting of course he was walking on snow covered ice but so far, so good.

"Let's call it a night and go to the Thistle for something hot to drink." It was pretty late and he'd been out for many hours. He'd be lucky not to get sick like his brother.  "You did good little brother," not that Kynan was all that little anymore.

Karina put two fingers to her lips and let out a sharp whistle. Amergin wiggled out of a snowdrift and came bounding to his master, a fluffy snow monster himself. "Sounds great to me." Karina was soaked through too and a cider was  just the cure.

No, but he was still the youngest and would likely be stuck with that for the rest of his life. "Was fun. And I could use something hot meself." And likely something to eat too. Three snow people and one snow dog, heading for the Thistle.  Still a little stuffy sounding but otherwise, he was good!

He was leaving his toboggan here in the shed and was sure to toss a snowball at his brother before starting off in a run for the Thistle. It would probably attract Amer to run after him.



Date: 01-10-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 24

Two to Return

Segan had not seen Vanessa in over a week. He wasn't quite sure where she had gone or was, only that she had not been at the Avian when he stopped by. Nor the tavern or in town. It could just be bad timing but for over a week of it? Of course thoughts would come unbidden like she already got tired of him or found someone else. It wasn't like they were formally going together and she could see anyone she wanted. Yes, he was torturing himself so got his gear and headed for the lake. He left a message with Grans who also sent him off with a basket full of food, hot, all wrapped up good to keep the warmth for a good while as well the thermos filled with coffee, one with tea, one with cocoa and one with hot cider. He had a bottle of potcheen with him too. The picnic table was covered in snow so he took the time to clean it off and drag it down where the benches were. A cloth thrown over the frozen wood before the basket was placed on top. Next he was on the bench to take his boots off and exchange them with the pair of skates. It was a dusky night but with all the snow one could see well enough after their eyes adjusted. There were torches that could be lit and some were along the Dragon Run where some of the older children were. He could hear them laughing. Snow drifted in a light way and shimmered like minute crystals with the breeze shifted them as they fell.

Eion had been busy for the last few days and hadn't been at the manor when his brothers were. Apparently he had missed them again. After spending a short time with Gran, she shooed him out of the kitchen with a promise to come back to stay overnight. He collected his old skates, checked them over and headed to the lake. The quiet of the night and the falling of the snow added a magic to the night that gave him a touch of peace. His pup kind of followed behind, busy snuffing out rabbits and other scents, burying his nose in the snow then charging after Eion when he got too far ahead.

He was bent over his skate tying the laces to make sure they were secure and not too tight when he got a slobbering lick on his face. That got his attention and who the dog was too. Eion's. Had him send a quick look up in catching sight of his brother. Smile finally showed up. "Hey Eion, come to skate?"

"Aye, I've come to make the attempt. Braveheart there is searching out the ferocious rabbit." He was kidding of course. The dog's name wasn't Braveheart! "I stopped at the manor and Gran decided I should join you. Even though I told her I haven't been on skates since I left Ireland." He sat near him on the bench and looked out over the lake. "Though I have to admit, it's a fine night to be out."

The snow was drifting down steadily, seeping into her hat and hair but she'd long since stopped noticing it. She reached down to pat Big Red's neck, who was plodding along gamely in the snow. She'd pushed the horse hard out of  Kildare but now with the weather, and her own exhaustion it was alright to move slowly. They'd get there... sooner or later. "Nearly there Red" she reassured the horse, though she didn't yet quite recognize the surroundings. Only
knew that they were familiar.

"I'm sure it will all come back. Seems our paths haven't crossed much of late nor anyone's," which caused a frown as he finished up the laces of his skates. "It's been a while for me," but he was confident as he stood.  No sooner was he upright when his skates started moving on their own. Seemed the crusty snow had frozen where people trodden from the bench on out to the lake. Arms went in windmill motion like he was going to take off and possibly the only reason he didn't fall as he bent this way and that before gaining his balance when he stopped over compensating.

"Been getting the lads settled as they've returned from their family visits. But things are slowing a bit so I should be around and more want to help with those rollers." They'd be shipping them to the other realms soon, except for Innis of course. He hadn't put on his skates yet when Segan began doing his balancing act. Leaning away form the flailing, he started to laugh once his brother caught himself again. "Do that again."

Which had him laughing too. "At least you are the one who got to see that. I don't think I could do that again if I tried." The next few movements were still a little awkward but they quickly smoothed out the further he went out onto the ice.

The forest wasn't heavy in this area, made even more sparse by the lack of leaves. The skeletal twigs arched over her head like boughs, glistening with ice. With the moonlight above it had that almost eerie beauty that she loved so much. She'd like to draw it. Perhaps she'd start drawing more, now that the others had seen her sketching and not outright laughed at it. It was these idle thoughts that she purposely kept flitting through her mind, distracting herself from the cold. Thank goodness for Red who at least provided some body warmth along her legs. The trees were beginning to part and she sat up a bit in the saddle, trying to better see what lay ahead.

Rhett showed up not far behind Eion having seen him head this way as well as others. He had ice skates and a toboggan but wasn't sure if he was going to do either. He was pretty tired after a long day and would be content to watch. He headed straight for the bench where Segan and Eion were. "Is that food I smell?" Realizing he hadn't eaten yet and would beg for food at this point if needed. Bribe. Steal, he'd come up with something.

Funny, he could remember when he was like that. "Evening, Rhett. And yes it is." He motioned to the basket. "Herself was hard at work, making sure there'd be food for us while we skated. Help yourself." He motioned toward Segan out on the lake. "He's remembering how to skate."

"Thanks, don't mind if I do." Ravenous at this point as he was into the basket to see what there was to eat. A fried chicken leg was his first choice, devouring it while he glanced out over the lake to where Segan was out there pretty far. "He's not doing too badly for remembering."

Well, Vanessa had been away, unfortunately, but some things couldn't be helped. She hadn't planned to be gone more than a night, but circumstances being what they were, she'd stayed. She'd taken Amergin with her though. Wouldn't leave him behind! So the pup, Vanessa and Tennison were all coming from some direction that brought them around the lake before it would take them to the cottage. Vanessa was on foot, watching the pup nose around through the snow, probably happy to be on their way home.

The more he moved the more it came back as now he was skating backwards and moving in sweeping circles. As the confidence and feel built, he relaxed more into it. Enough to have him notice from his advantage looking in, was first Amer, then Tennison and with a keener eye, the small lady with the large horse. "VANESSA..." called out as he started towards shore in sweeping strokes of his skates against ice.

"No, hasn't been that long I guess, though sometimes it seems a lifetime ago." He paused when Segan yelled out and peered through the snow. The pup started to bark when Segan yelled and started on the ice. As soon as he went down he was up again, cautiously making his way back to ground that wasn't slippery. Eion chuckled then looked at Rhett. "What else is in there?"

Vanessa had been more occupied with watching the pup that when she heard her name called out, she about jumped out of her skin and slipped on a spot of ice. Didn't fall though, and waved back with a bright smile. "Segan!" And that was her new direction.

Karina lifted her head at the sound of barking, which was soon echoed by another pup's barking. And that second bark, she knew. Her own pup answering Eion's. But where was Amergin? She almost thought she was imagining it till she heard the echoes of her friends' voices. A huge feeling of relief swept her and she gripped the reins tighter, telling her frozen fingers that it was almost over. She must be near the lake! Big Red must have sensed her excitement or else recognized the area too, for he started walking faster, soon clearing the treeline with his petite rider hunched atop.

He too did a heads up with the call and laughed at the pup that slipped on the ice, being he didn't get hurt. "Fried chicken legs," opening up the lid again to look in. "Various meats and cheeses rolled up in breads. Some fish sticks, friend onion rings, chicken strips fried up too." Seemed their Grandmother was in a frying mood. "Cookies and apple pie."

He skated right over to her, sweeping her up into his arms without so much a by your leave. "I was worried about you," growled under his breath in a way it couldn't be helped. All those worries but she was safe and hale as he eased from the embraced to look her over. He almost blurted out where were you but it was not really his right other than concern. "Everything is all right?" Hoping that if for some reason it wasn't, she would tell him and not just brush it off.

No, the Lad was fine. His legs had gone out from under him and he had gone flat on his stomach but he was fine. "Apple pie. " He looked at the lake then the basket. "Skating can wait for a few, I'm thinking." And now the pup was barking at the other barking.

Swept up, she smiled and gave him a big hug before she was released and looked over. She was fine and in good condition. "I didn't mean to make you worry. I had only intended to be gone a night, perhaps two. My sister gave birth. I had gone to help her." She leaned up and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. "Glad to see you're doing well. How are the skates?" Undoubtedly Amer would know Karina was coming and go bounding off for her.

Karina was still a small distance off but if they watched Amergin take off, they'd see her slide down from the horse to catch the pup in her arms. Down to her knees in the snow she went, snuggling the pup tightly against her as Amer all but attacked with kisses.

"That's great news. She and the baby are fine?" A great weight being lifted as blue eyes held hers with that intensity still attached. It would ease. "Want something warm to drink, food? Grans filled a basket before I came here. Insisted." He may have eased from the hug but he was keeping that close proximity with a hand to her elbow even if he was the one on skates. The roughness was gone and it was as if he were walking at her side than skating. He was directing her over to the bench where Eion and Rhett were.

Being lead off towards the bench, she looked around to Amer and found him running over to Karina. She smiled happily. "Look, there's Karina!" Then looked up to Segan with a smile. "They're fine. The baby's healthy and Jasmine is up and about and doing well." Seeing Eion and Rhett, she waved to them both. "A drink would be wonderful. I've missed you." Spoken warmly as she looked back up to him.

He lifted a hand in a wave but they'd have to excuse him. He was a bit busy stuffing his face. It wasn't until Rhett started on the food that Eion had realized how hungry he was.

"I'm pleased to hear that," attention diverted to where Amerg had gone and true enough, there was Karina. "Just in time for some hot cider." Called out to her as they reached the bench and picnic table.


"ebmeshb," well he started to try and say something but his mouth was still too full. Quickly chewing and swallowing, "evening Vanessa." Whipping a glance to where the pup had gone and noticing who was also home. A smile pressed as he waited, watching and seeing that she was all right by observation.

Karina gave Amer another hug but she was starting to shiver in the snow, so she rose to her feet then and set the pup down to trot beside her. Big Red had stood docilely by and now she took his reins, leading him on foot towards the others. Hearing Segan's call she raised her hand to wave, thinking that hot cider sounded better than heaven at this moment. Soon enough she was at the table, and she'd tie off the horse to a low-hanging tree limb. "Fine horse you  got," was her greeting to Segan before looking around at the others. Her crooked smile was tired but present as she greeted them.

"Cider!" How she'd missed cider. "Ave, Rhett, Eion. Nice to see you both." She moved around the bench to sit, leaving the end open for Segan to sit. Then she was back up to greet Karina with a hug!

"He took care of you. He is a very fine horse." Over on skates still he gave her a good hug, "got hot cider, tea, coffee and cocoa." She looked a bit frozen. "A fire in a hearth for you tonight," looking towards Vanessa as he was sure she would be wanting the same at her place.

"Good to have you back Karina," pressed smile in place as he got out the thermos with the hot cider in it, a cup to pour some into then offered her way.

Oof, hugged, she smiled through a brief wince and returned it. "Hey Vanessa. Eion. Hey Rhett... thanks," that said to both his words and the cup given over to her. Sore she was from head to toe and she sank gratefully onto the edge of the bench, holding the cider like a precious gem and lifting it to let the warm steam drift up along her face.

"Evening, ladies. There's food in the basket from herself and plenty of it." He had finished the slice of pie and would maybe have some fried chicken later. "And welcome back to you both."

He would pour out some of the cider for Vanessa and the mug then offered her way. Once she had it in hand, he would take up the seat next to her and proceed to take his skates off. "We still need to go skating soon," words low and a by the way kind of tone.

She was happy to see everyone! "Come sit with us and warm up with something to drink." Taking the cider from Segan, she smiled and held it in her gloved hands for now and retake her seat with a nod. "That we do. I'm looking forward to it."

Amergin clearly wanted to be as close to his long-lost master as possible, and after some trial and error he curled up right atop her boots. Karina perched beside Vanessa on the bench, eyes closing briefly as she took that first sip of hot cider. Just because it tasted so darn good, and was so nice and warm it sent a happy shiver from her head to her husky-laden toes.

He was watching her keenly as they all kind of got quiet. It was pretty late and definitely cold out here. Took energy just to keep warm. "How did everything go?" Figuring she had a general answer in the least and possibly more considering she was amongst friends.

He had an arm around each, Vanessa to the one side and Karina to the other. Each held dear in a different way but both held a spot in his heart. Being Rhett had asked the question of Karina, he would wait for the answer. It was one he would have eventually ask.

Karina found herself snuggling into Segan's embrace and the warmth it offered. Shoulders sagging as she began to relax out of being frozen. She was just holding that cup, soaking in the hot beverage when Rhett asked the question. And she realized the others were looking at her. Swallowing her sip gave her a moment before answering. "Fine, it went.. good." Positivity injected into her tone because really, it HAD went well. Better than she'd expected even if it couldn't be classified a rip-roarin'-fun experience. She went quiet again before adding, "Thanks for all the stuff beforehand, the canteen and supplies and everything, it really helped." That said to Rhett and the others in general too who'd all pitched in to see her off safely.

Vanessa was tired, as it seemed that pretty much everyone was at this point. Late and cold, but glad to be home. Light lean taken against Segan while listening to Karina. "I'm glad you're home. I know Amer missed you." Vanessa had missed her as well, and been worried for her.

"Maybe I'll see you sometime this week." Which would not be hard to do all considering. "I'm glad your back safe." To the point and few words. The food was taking its toll as well the late hour and he knew he better get back before he was asleep on the bench or worse, in one of the snow drifts. That happened once but luckily his brother dragged him out and home.

"How about I get you ladies up to the house, get a fire going and something warm to drink before heading for bed. If you don't mind me staying on the couch?" If he was going to do the fire and all that, he would end up there fairly late.

She smiled to Segan, giving a nod. "Sounds nice. Though you can take the extra room if you want." It was the smaller of the two rooms downstairs, but better a bed than a couch.

Now, that was a surprise and he gave Segan a look but said nothing. He was preoccupied concerning a letter he had received earlier from Ireland from Brady. It would keep until morning however and he motioned to the basket. "You may as well take that with you. Rhett, help yourself to something for later if you'd like."

Karina was grateful that he didn't push further. Maybe later she'd share more of the details... maybe, but for now she was nearly half-asleep herself and still chilly. A nod given to Segan at his suggestion and she took a big sip to help finish off her cider. "I'm glad I'm back too." That was all she'd add but her tone was genuine. So too was the soft smile that followed.

"I've had enough," being both Vanessa and Karina had been away, he doubted there was anything to eat at their cottage and he had stuff at his place if he got hungry later. "I'll walk back with you all to the Commons." May as well go back as a crowd, warmer that way. He was up to the shed to store his sled and skates there before back down and starting on the way home.

He hadn't mentioned it to him yet! "I will be there for breakfast in the morning," this to Eion so he knew to let Gran know being he had promised. He was up to collect the basket. "Shall we ladies?" Sometimes one had to light a fire under them to get them going.

When Segan moved, she could have just fallen over. She didn't though. A last sip of her cider, she stood from her seat with a nod. "Yes, we shall." Waving to Rhett and Eion. "You both get home safe."

He hadn't a chance to! Giving his brother a nod, he whistled for the pup who came running from somewhere out in the brush. "Aye, I will. She'll be watching for you, I'm sure." He rubbed the pup behind his ears. "Come on, laddie, time to head back." He'd join them on the walk back until their paths parted. "Aye."

He was chuckling, "aye, best get these two home or we'll be carrying them." Straight to the Cottage without a stop at the Thistle this night. "Coming with us through, Eion?" It would be mostly on his way too.

"Say g'bye to your friend," Karina smirked a bit as Amergin sniffed Eion's pup in farewell. Not unhappy that Rhett was joining them for part of the walk, and Eion too. Mostly companionable silence from her until they reached the cottage... Home Sweet Home.



Date: 01-17-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 25

Fun on the Toboggan Run

There was a sledding date and once his work was finished for the day, mid afternoon it turned out to be, Rhett headed for the Avian Gardens to see if Karina wanted to come out to play. That thought had a wry grin tipped in a boyish lopsided way. Knock, knock, knock, then waiting patiently outside on the stoop of the cottage, toboggan held by the rope connected. There were more in the shed at the lake if another was needed but she was welcome to ride with him.

It was the time of the day just after she'd finished all the morning duties of feeding birds and cleaning out cages, and a couple hours before she'd make the rounds to feed the nocturnal birds. It was one of her favorite times of day, in fact, a few moments where she could curl up by the hearth and have some tea and just let her mind drift. Lately she'd been using the time to sketch. Ever since Christmas, the first time she'd ever shown anyone her drawing, it was like the floodgate had opened and now she couldn't stop. So that's where she was at this moment, legs tucked comfortably beneath her, a piece of parchment flattened against a board in her lap, a bit of coal in her hand. Hearing the knock she didn't look up but called out, "The door's open, c'mon in." Often they received deliveries and she figured it was one of those.

Leaving the toboggan outside, the door was pressed open allowing the entry of what looked like a mountain man he was so well clothed. "You ready to go sledding, Karina?" Gloved hand wiping away at his nose that now threatened to run for the difference in temperature.

She looked up at the voice which was familiar, but didn't belong to any old delivery man. She was seated in one of the highback chairs so she had to sit up and crane her neck to see over top of it. "Oh! Hullo Rhett.. Sledding?" His arrival was a surprise but her grin was quick. "I've been waiting for that. Let's go." She stood from the chair, wearing her usual indoor clothes of leggings and an oversized wool sweater which hung down to her thighs overtop. She set the parchment down on the chair then pushed the sleeves of the sweater back. "Um... just gotta get more clothes on." A little grin as she passed him en-route to the stairs. "Tea in the kitchen if ya want it," she called over her shoulder before jogging up the stairs and slipping into her room.

Which he caught sight of her casual wear, dipping glance came naturally fast before shifted away with a cough under his breath. "Aye," looking out the window where it showed the snow steadily coming down. Far safer view! The invitation for tea had him heading there for a cup of it while he waited. He was use to cooking and serving himself so found a mug and then the kettle with the tea made and pour some. A little hot but it cooled down quick enough to not too hot and drinkable.

Hey, she was fully clothed! And it wasn't exactly sexy wear. Upstairs Karina skipped about her room, not literally, but dashing here and there to collect the various articles she needed. It wasn't long before she came clomping back downstairs. A pair of fawn-colored leather breeches had been pulled over her leggings and she had her button-up navy wool coat over the knit sweater. Her slouchy knitted cap sat sideways atop her curls. She was winding up her scarf and tugging on her mittens as she headed down. Oh bugger, she'd left her drawing sitting there half-finished. She went to flip the paper upside-down on the board then looked to Rhett. "Ready!"

That didn't matter to one who was not use to seeing a woman not fully attired in day wear, gown or such. He took the initiative to fill an insulated bottle with hot tea so they could take it with them. He had some potcheen and hot chocolate too in the sack attached to the toboggan outside. By the time she came downstairs, he was back out to the living room and door. "I'm ready, here is some tea," which he held out to her before getting the door.

"Oh." That was thoughtful. "Thanks." Rhett earned a true smile for that as she took the canteen from him. Then it was out the door and into the cold they went. There was still a good layer of snow on the ground and on the trees and Karina took a deep breath, almost enjoying the way the icy air seared her lungs. It made her feel alive. "Nice day for it," she commented to Rhett as they walked along down the path. Hopefully Vanessa wouldn't miss her absence but she was sure her friend and employer would find a way to get word to her if it was urgent.

"It's snowing," like a great revelation when they stepped outside. Stating the obvious, "aye, perfect for sledding. How is Vanessa?" He hadn't seen her in a while and there was some worry there. The toboggan dragged behind him as they made their way through the commons then the road leading north taking them to the lake, well an offshoot otherwise they would keep going to the border if they stayed on the main road. There were tracks and paths made by dragged sleds too and the lake had the markings of skate blades over the ice as they passed by it. "Do you have skates?" Passing thought for he knew how to skate too for living in these lands all his life.

Yes, it was snowing and she tilted her face upward briefly to let the snowflakes catch upon her eyelashes. Blinking them away she looked back to Rhett. "She's good, I think. I haven't seen her much lately, actually." Which she was concerned about too. A frown marred her face for a second, hands sliding into her pockets as they followed the well-beaten path. Then a shake of her head had her curls bouncing. "Nope. Never been skating."

Kenneth had Charlie in tow as he scooped up some snow to make a ball and throw at Rhett and the one he was with, well, threw two snowballs their way. One for each. He was wrapped up good in winter clothes and coat, scarf, gloves and cap.

"Then I'll have to see about getting you some.." but the last was cut off as a snowball hit his shoulder and splattered over his face. A quick turn about as he let go of the toboggan to gather up some snow and soon balls were flying back at Ken and Charlie. Being he couldn't be sure which one threw them.

Charlie looked like a walking bear, following Kenneth, a big smile on her face as he started pelting snowballs at Rhett and Karina. All the more fun in the snow, for them all ..."YOU WHO ..Hey," waving a gloved hand at the couple .. Rich laughter rose as she dodged the return of snowballs, hurrying to use Kenneth as a shield, if he stood still long enough, if not it was still amusing to wave and duck ...

Karina was hit square in the back, making her spin 'round to find their assailants. A laugh rang out as she bent to hastily scoop up a snowball of her own, taking good aim to crack Charlie right on the shoulder. Then another one would be formed for Kenneth, who she had never met actually, but all was fair in love and war right?

He was throwing more their way as Charlie tried to duck.


And he ducked leaving Charlie wide open just before the snowballs would have hit him. So, in her defense, as he was crouched down he made an armful of balls that he started whipping to hit Karina and Rhett equally.

Well being a target was nothing new to Charlie, she bent scooping up snow, and let it fly, hooting with laughter, as Kenneth ducked, never mind that she cut a flip on the impact, falling in the snow was just as fun as throwing it, she could throw low snowballs just as well as high ones ...

Well that wasn't very nice of Kenneth! Karina snickered again and, with an armful of snowballs she stole around Rhett and a little closer. To get a better angle on Kenneth. And once she had it, she aimed and let fly at the man who'd used Charlie as a human shield!

Turn about was always fun for Charlie, Kenneth suffered greatly her antics without a word of complaint ever, snowballs were whizzing back and forth, laughter rising with each toss " take that and that, and this," she trilled, even managing to pop one at Kenneth, just to be fair ...

Actually Charlie had used him as a shield but he ducked down to not get hit, not realizing she had moved behind him and was the receiving end. He got pelted as he laughed, sending more at Karina in a barrage of them.

He was throwing fast and furious, one after another as fast as he could make them. Oops. Karina moved around him and into his line of fire!

Charlie did not mind, every moment spent with Kenneth was an adventure for her, and him as well, neither knowing what kind of trouble they would find themselves in, usually of their own making, laughing at the errant snowballs that reminded her of a free for all, literally any one was fair game ..

"Ack!" She laughed as Kenneth hit her right back, then spun when she was assaulted from behind too. "Hey!" A yelp of laughter as she took aim at Rhett now. "I thought we were on the same team, traitor..." But she was grinning as she took aim for Rhett's chest. Then with another sent sidelong at Charlie just for fun.

Charlie ducked and bobbed, but the snowball hit true right on her noggin, making her laugh even harder. Packing a snow ball she threw it wildly, it would land where it may, she doubted that the children of the area were having as much fun as they were at the moment ..

He was holding up his hands in swatting the snowballs away as they came flying. "I want to go sledding!" Almost in complaint but he was laughing too much for it to be a complaint. Rich, husky laugh.

"Oh Kenneth is my sled," she yipped in reply, they had slipped and slid down many places in their adventures of love, her latest since the snow was so deep was to make an igloo and well explore the rites of Eskimos ...

"Errrrr," but he burst out in laughter as he ceased throwing the snowballs. "I think we can try using a sled this time, you know how I get brush burns.." taking the moment to head for the shed to get one of the extra toboggans. He was back out lickity-split. "Although I know you derive great pleasure in riding me." If they could only see the waggle of brows beneath the cap worn. One down practically over his eyes so it moved up and down.

Karina tried not to listen too hard to the other two's words! But Rhett's laughter had her giggling too, irresistibly. "Alright, alright. Truce!" She dropped the snowballs she had formed and held up her hands in the sign of peace. "Let's go sledding."

Charlie was giggling as Kenneth went to get the sled, watching her lean gypsy move. "OH sure you don't want to melt the snow," she snickered...

Aaack she was TRYING not to listen but their words had her cheeks going bright red! Her grin was half a grimace as she went to grab her cap which had fallen off. "Let's go.."

Karina's red face had him laugh, "you'll get use to them." Though truth be told he use to turn red too when first around them. Charlie knew his mom and pa! He headed for the top of the hill, then paused. "You want to ride with me? There are more toboggans if you don't."

Don't worry, they were always that way, most folks just blushed and laughed, at the antics of the two, shuffling to Kenneth to help him pull the sled to where they were going...

It was such hard work tugging a lightweight sled that was like air. Yes.. so he put on the act as if it weighted a ton, turning as if he was tugging with all his might. "Halp mae, Charlie..."

"No... that's okay." She grinned a bit as she watched her boots shuffle through the snow, heading up the hill with him. "I'll ride with you." She could shoot him just a half-second glance before giving a silly smile and then she reached out to take hold of the toboggan rope, helping to pull it up the hill, even if it wasn't that heavy.

Charlie giggled,her gloved hand moving to the tug rope, waggling her brows, "of course I shall," and she leaned into him. "How shall we come down the hill love?" As if pondering which way would be best, musing at Rhett and Karina doubling always made for fun accidents, she should know, she created a lot of them, just because ..well because it gave her Kenneth, served up like hot candy ...

"Once there at the very top, you could see down the quarter mile of rolling fields that made up the run. It was pretty steep in parts and parts that ran parallel a short distance on a level before shooting down again, all leading towards the lake. "You climb in first and get situated." Once she did, he would climb on behind her. Legs on either side and her back spooned up against his chest, arms either side as he held the ropes. Booted feet just outside the sled to keep them from moving until they were ready.

He was actually pulling on the rope in a way Charlie would need to pull! All part of the ruse. "I think I'm working up a sweat already. We'll go down that run," one hand lifting to gesture where Rhett and Karina were setting up. "Once they are out of our way or we might have a four way body entanglement going."

"Oookay..." Karina gave a little laugh as she peered down the steep hill, half-scared, half-excited. She clambered onto the sled as directed, glancing behind her as she was pulled close up against Rhett. A slight cough and she looked forward. Her hands went to grip the sides of the sled. "So... now what?"

Charlie was tugging and trying to look, "Ohohoh, didn't we umm come down that hill already, a couple years back had snowburns on your umm buttocks," she laughed, recalling it had been a wondrous time. Nevermind they did not have a sled at the time, they were enjoying life, and whatnot ...

"Now we go!" Words barely out as he pushed with his feet then gathered them in as they started forward, the first bump determining if they worked up the speed enough to get over it and on their way. Well, they certainly were off to a FAST start as the wind picked up against their eyes enough to have them water. Rhett went to squinting with his body wrapped pretty much around Karina to keep her steady and on the toboggan with him. An embankment was coming up fast, one that would first turn them to the left then another to the right in succession.

"Yes, I do believe it was one of the first runs made and near straight down that hill. It had been used a lot and had turned to ice. Ah, you were on top that time.." grinning.

Off they went like... well, a racehorse out of the gate. It actually took her breath away when they sped off and she blinked rapidly to clear her eyes. She was grateful now that Rhett held her securely as she kept her grip tight. "Bump!" She yelled out as the embankment grew larger and larger before them.

She pointed at the fast pair heading down the hill chuckling at the telling, "yeah I remember it well, until you hit that bump," giggling as she recalled words that melted snow for certain ..

"Yes, the bump flipped me around, I had your legs to hold onto and you had mine as we slid on our sides. The ying and the yang position."

She bobbled her head, recalling that they had soaked for hours to thaw out, still she would do it again, just because well no one else would dare ...

Date: 01-17-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 26

"Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh," holding on tight as they went up the first embankment tipping them to the side then down with a bump as if it jumped into the next tipping to the right, he was managing both their weight in balance and moving like a bat out of hell. She might notice the many bumps up ahead they were headed for as the toboggan straightened out from the two turns. All white seen for the most part in those few split seconds of speed.

Charlie bounced up and down, "look at em fly woo hoo," certain that Karina was questioning her sanity at that moment ...

"By the time we hit the iced over lake, I was on top." Which had him grin. He was watching Rhett and Karina as he and Charlie had made the top of the hill where it all began.

"Yes, well, I recall it was a long walk for our clothes," not that she had given it any thought at the time, too busy laughing then, and shivering, but it had been the best winter adventure that year, and rumored of the antics had flown, spurred of course by Charlie ...

"Uuuuuuh..." Her voice was as bumpy as the landscape itself as the sled skipped and bounced beneath them. "More bumps...!" Leaning back against him she fought to keep her eyes open and held on tight!

It had slowed them down some but not enough to send them off the path as the bumps were felt, or so somewhat through the padding of their clothing. "Heeeeerrrrr rrrrrr eeee weee eeee gooo ooooo." Teeth clattering out the words as he held onto her tighter so they stayed on the toboggan and didn't fly off over the embankment. The toboggan was moving every which way beneath them too but he kept them on.

Her cheeks burned, stung by the icy wind and she could feel her very skin bouncing against her bones. "Aaaaaah...!" Her growing holler was half laughter, interrupted by each jolt the sled took. Which sounded somewhat like a monkey hooting, which just made her laugh more. "Hoooo ooooold ooonn...!"

"Hey listen ...whoo whos," certain the mystical creatures had invaded the sledding area, giggling at the noise made by Rhett and Karina. Look at em go," she mused...

Which had him bust up laughing right in her ear. Couldn't be helped and he hoped he could hold onto the sled at that speed, eyes watering even more for the laughter. They were headed for the fast paced turns, six in all that would have them turning this way and that quickly. Well, the laughter stopped when they started to spin, he was trying to duck in and hold them onto the toboggan so it didn't go shooting out like an arrow up and over the embankment. He managed it but was in a bit of vertigo with the spinning and all that was seen was white on white. They were fast heading downhill and hopefully at enough speed to take them up the dragon's neck.

Karina was in that helpless state of laughter that could not be stopped by anything, even sledding mishaps! She yelped, squinted eyes widening for a moment as they started to spin madly. "Wooo.." She blinked quickly but her eyes were watering and all she could see was white. "Iii caan't seeeee!" She cried out between giggles.

"I can't either!" Laughed right out on the end of her words. They were in trouble! Luckily they had enough speed that got them up over that hill, down again then up the neck of the dragon into the tunnel that was its head. There was a lot of icicles hanging down they could get caught up on.

"Look, they made it into the head," watching to see if they made it out the other side and not just dropped below.

Karina was a little thing but she ducked instinctively, as the icicles glittered with their deadly points overhead. She laughed again but the breath was almost stolen from her lungs as their speed mounted rapidly and they whizzed through that narrow tunnel. She was almost afraid to ask but... "What's next??"

They got caught up in those long icicles as the toboggan turned sideways and slowing down, he tried his best to get it straightened out and away from the ice.

Charlie grinned watching as they made the head, " dang and with a sled too. "Certain that was a ride of a life time ...

Yikes, THAT was next apparently. Karina squeezed her eyes shut as the sled spun dizzily, one hand atop Rhett's arm to cling as momentum did its thing.

He was not successful as they dropped out of the dragon's mouth instead of shooting through and down the slope to the lake. They ended up in an embankment, the sled vertical and she wrapped up in his arms as they sunk into the snow, "here," as it all went so fast his reply got out by that time.

"Our turn," helping to stuff Charlie up the front of the toboggan and he right in behind her to press up against her back. Long legs either side, "just say when!"

Indeed it happened so fast she wasn't sure WHAT happened! One minute they were zooming along and the next they were tumbling into the snow, minus the sled. She didn't move for a second, just blinked her eyes open. The vestiges of laughter still came breathlessly from her throat as she looked at him, both of them were covered in snow. "What happened?"

"ERM When ?" She giggled, folding herself and securing her arms around his long legs, "let's fly!" Like they would do anything else at that moment ...

"I think we fell down and went boom." Like one said to a toddler when they fell and didn't quite understand what happened. "Are you hurt at all?" It would be rare and most likely she would have been screaming in pain had she. She was all snugged up against him too, plastered there with a dusting of snow over her cap and he the same. Pressed smile came with a glint to brighten in blue eyes. "In a moment we should try moving."

His answer made her laugh a little but soon enough she was caught up in his blue gaze. "...Nah, I'm fine....I'm good." She was breathless for another reason now as she was all but smushed up against Rhett, limbs entangled. "Yes. In a moment." She couldn't help the smile that crawled up one side of her lips, then the other and finally up into her eyes to make the turquoise gems sparkle.

"Now," as he pushed forward hard enough to hopefully get them over that first bump and on their way. They were over the bump and on their way headed for the first two very big turns, embankments went up high for the sleds to go up in the fast pace turns.

"YAHOOOOOOOOOOO" hanging onto the long legs, game for anything and everything, she scrunched up small if that was possible, her heavy coat creating a comfort from the blowing snow and air .. "OH Do ME baby," whether that was for Kenneth or the slope was questionable ...

"I AM, I AM," panting in her ear as the sled smacked into those turns at a wild speed.

Which had him press a cold nose against hers and a slight shifting to the right and left a moment. He could hear another sled coming down the tracks and best they got out of the way or someone could really get hurt. First one leg pushed then the other as arms tightened around her lifting her with him as they moved up from the mound. In time to hear that shout from Charlie!

She'd never gotten an Eskimo kiss before! And couldn't name it if asked, but it was certainly a... sweet sort of gesture that stopped her breath again for just a second. When he started moving she went with him, not letting go just yet though as they detangled themselves and got up from the embankment, out of the line of danger more. The couple's hooting and hollering sort of made the moment go POOF though. Karina glanced up at them, reddening again. She caught Rhett's eye only briefly but she suddenly couldn't help it, and let out a burst of laughter. "They're uh... not shy, huh?"

Up to the edge of the embankment as they rode it much like their style then dipped down like falling out of a loft they were use to and back up again to the next embankment turn riding that edge before shooting off and landing flat on the path. They were headed for the bumps. "DO ME! .. DO ME!"

Charlie was howling with laughter, never mind what occurred, one could say Charlie was in her own world and Kenneth was that world. "HOT DANG do it so well ooooooooooooooooooooo," vocal was an understatement .... And those bumps well you know what happens when a wild woman and a gypsy take to bumping, "OOOOOoooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooOOOOO," just certain that it was the best they had yet, well almost .....

They were bumping good and in rhythm that they didn't go bouncing off the track. Not at all. Charlie was getting another ride to write about with her Gypsy.

Her shout was telling though of what could be questioned, "YESH.... OOOOOOOOooooooooooo YESH ...Work it," poor listeners, they were lost in their own world of laughter and love ....

He was careful too with her she might notice. For as strong as he was and could easily pick her up, he was gentle. They were out of the way and any danger to themselves or the couple flying down the run. "Ah," trying not to laugh. "That's just Charlie and Ken." Which he wondered then, "have you met them before?"

As someone who hadn't always been treated gently she did notice. And if it surprised her a bit she appreciated it, too. After stepping off the track completely she stood close alongside Rhett, glancing over her shoulder again with another snicker and shake of her head. "I've met Charlie once or twice, but I've never seen them.. together." She bet Alex just LOVED it when they visited the Thistle.

Needless to say the two of them were laughing in between knowing well how it all sounded. He didn't even notice the six turns in a row coming up as he was blinded by his Charlie's scarf that had blown over his eyes. All he felt was the motion back and forth with her in his arms. "YESSSSSSSS! MORE!" As if he could never get enough.

"WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOO....oh my GAWAD ..." laughter peeling brightly as she clasped his arms, rocking with him, "OOOOH I AM ....ooooooooooooooohhOOO," cackling breaking the wild noises they made. "I am READY."

"I think the last episode was in a ship they tugged into the lake."

Never mind what the slope or sled did, that they were together, and enjoying the unknown, made it all the more fun, most folks didn't live every day as the couple did, that Kenneth survived all the antics spoke of his strength, not that Charlie ever gave it any thought, she knew that Kenneth enjoyed their way of life, the adventure of many lifetimes ...

Karina tilted her head as she watched the couple soar. "How did they pull a ship into the lake?"

"I don't know, you'll have to ask Charlie." From his understanding she was the one behind it. He still had his arm around her like second nature and not really conscious of the fact. It was keeping her warmer.

He had a mind freezing moment that had the next few minutes go almost in reverse before they were shooting forward still, as in that he realized the speed they were going at to make it up the hill. They were losing it as they were nearing the top curve to take them into the dragon's head. "ROCK WITH ME BABY!" as if that could make the difference in them getting over the hump.

Asking Charlie about the couple's escapades could seriously cause mental damage to those not familiar with their antics."Wooo Baby ROCKING.. "laughter punctuating the movement to carry them hopefully ..

It was fun but it didn't work as they near that top they could almost smell it and then WHAM., they started moving just as fast backwards down the slope which had them spinning out of control and tossed off the run into an embankment.

For the time being she didn't notice the arm around her either, except to huddle next to him for warmth naturally. She was too caught up in the ridiculous comments flying from the sled run. They were growing less embarrassing and more.. just hilarious. She snickered and then winced when they were thrown off into the snowbank. "Oooh.." Another laugh but she was watching to make sure they were both alright. "They made it nearly as far as we did, anyway.."

"They almost made it as far as we did." Which was an accomplishment for this run. Rhett had designed it that way. A challenge.

For a moment she felt loss of control, not that it bothered her. "I AM ON TOP," of Kenneth of course, though that was questionable as they were tossed ....

Kenneth landed spread eagle over Charlie. She cushioned his fall for a change and the snow cushioned hers. Until he moved. there was no Charlie in sight.

Another laugh as they said nearly the same thing at the same moment and she nodded. "They don't seem too upset though," she snickered.

That had her giggling, "oh my GAWD ... was it good for you too?" She howled with laughter, her gloved hands checking him over, uhuh, that was her story, and she was sticking to it ...

"It was the best." As he got past that initial shock and wiggled fingers and toes to make sure he still had all his limbs. "I think I like it better on top," grinning like a madman before a searing kiss claimed and then he was up and off her, making sure she was up and nothing broken either.

Oh nothing was broken, took more then that to do any harm, they had fallen from higher places, the searing kiss told her she was just fine. "That was wonderful," setting to rights her clothes, just in case you know ..

The sledding was fun but the night was bitter cold. "How about we all head back to the Thistle for a hot drink." Although they had brought some with them, they would be able to warm up all over then.

Charlie grinned holding to Kenneth's arm, gamely willing to do it again ...

"Sounds good to me." Charlie could answer all Karina's questions should she have any. Ken would sit there with a grin as she did, nodding his head here and there as usual to affirm.

Poor Karina would never be the same, the pair had a reputation to live up too, and they did ...

Date: 01-24-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 27

Learning to Ice Skate

Rhett had a long day ahead of him being up at the break of dawn to work on the remaining Rollers being produced for the sister castle lands. He sent word to the Avian Gardens cottage, young lad sent for a coin to deliver a message to Karina that if she wished to join him at the lake for skating, he would be down there early evening. He would bring skates that should fit her as he had his own and unsure if she had any. Once the last bit of steel was forged and fashioned he dampened the fires down before cleaning up, including himself. First he stopped at the Thistle for a quick meal, already prepared, as otherwise he would be even later had he needed to prepare his own meal for the night. Hazel sent him off with a small basket, fried onion rings and chicken fingers along with a thermos of hot cider should they get thirsty. The snow had started falling earlier when he left the smithy only to find it heavier when he left the Thistle. Skates slung over a shoulder and the basket in hand. He was down to the lake within the half hour to clear off one of the benches already accumulating snow.

Karina had had a few delays at the Gardens. With Vanessa sometimes missing, there was more work for Karina to shoulder and normally she had no reason to complain... but after receiving Rhett's message she was impatient to be done. As soon as the owls had been fed, the mulch cleaned and the snow beaten from the top of the cages (lest it grow too heavy and make the cages sag) she hurried into the cottage to bundle up. In her haste she forgot to eat dinner and instead, tugged on her boots and scarf and was out the door. The night was sharply cold and the snow had grown heavier, she noticed, shoving her hands into her pockets and setting off at a brisk walk. By the time she drew close to the lake, stars were peeking out between the clouds overhead, the weak sunlight slowly fading over the horizon. She climbed the hill and once the top was gained, she look down at the lake, seeing a figure standing at the benches. Half-thinking he might have given up on her by now, she gave a wave and started jogging down the hill. Of course, with the steep decline she was running by the time she reached the bottom, and almost slid to a stop in front of the bench. Out of breath and red-cheeked from the exertion. "Sorry I'm late!"

At least the snow had grown lighter with parts of the sky to shine through the clouds as they dispersed some. Seeing her come down the hill at a neck breaking speed, Rhett was quick to set the skates aside and dart out to catch her by the time she was to the bottom. Arms hooking around her waist had him swing her around for the momentum before he was sure she was steadied on her feet. Pressed smile reached the blue of his eyes that held to hers, "You're not late and I'm really glad you could make it." He intended to go ice skating even if she couldn't but it would not be as long nor as much fun. "C'mon, I got skates that should fit you. Have you ever skated before?" He was pretty sure she had not if he remembered correctly. Guiding her to the bench a few feet away as he picked up the ladies skates that had been his older sister's. Ones she had no need for as she had no plans to go skating and if she did, she had a newer pair their parents had gotten her.

She'd called out her greeting on the way down, not realizing that her momentum was too  much to stop without sprawling into the snow! Luckily that was prevented by Rhett's quick snatch of her petite form, and she collided with his outstretched arms. Couldn't help but laugh though as she was swung about rather like a ragdoll. Catching his eyes the smile was on her face too, as well as that strange quiver in the pit of her stomach as she became aware of his arms about her. Set to her feet, she gained her own balance. Oh, he was asking her a question. "Nope. Never." She went along with him to the bench, looking at the skates with a mixture of curiosity and uncertainty. "Always seemed a little off to me. Strapping blades to your feet and sliding around on the ice with them." Of course, she had missed out on the 'fun' aspect of it all, having never gotten a chance to enjoy it but only to observe.

"Aye, it can be a daunting prospect to imagine but the feel you get is great once you master staying on them. Amazing what a human can do with their balance. There are countries where it is fastest to get from one place to another by skating their canals." Motioning for her to sit, he would take it upon himself to remove her boots, one at a time, and slide the skates on then strap them up with the ties. Kneeling at her feet to do so, she would see him glance up every so often with that usual pressed smile and a glint in blue eyes. He was wearing the brown Stetson which had a light layer of snow accumulated around the brim, a scarf around his neck and well layered in clothing beneath the lined coat. "There are some fried chicken fingers and onion rings in the basket." Which she might pick up the smell especially out here in the fresh air it was even more prominent. "Hot cider too, you're welcome to have all you want."

She snickered a bit at that. It was hard to imagine strapping on skates to get around town every day! Sitting on the bench with Rhett kneeling before her, she watched from the corner of her eyes as he pulled off her shoes and worked on the skates. She was getting dizzy with those upward glances so she concentrated on the conversation instead. "Thought I smelled something good.." Which the smell was waking her stomach up and causing it to rumble, reminding her that she'd missed dinner. Reaching over across the table she snagged one of the onion rings out of the basket. "Are these your old skates?" She asked, wondering where he'd gotten the extra smaller pair and guessing that maybe they were his from when he was a small boy. She nibbled on the onion ring as she looked down at him.

"They were my sister Stephanie's, she said I could let you borrow them and if they fit and you liked skating, you can have them unless you want to buy your own pair." Nothing ever got wasted or just thrown out if it was usable. It was either passed down to another sibling or given to someone who could use them. Stephie took care of her things. "One thing good about an older pair, they're broken in and not stiff like a new pair is that needs time to be broken in. Although the cobbler in town does a good job of working the leather so it's a bit more pliable." All the while deft fingers were at work and soon enough her skates were on snug, not too lose nor too tight. "Test them out?" He didn't have his on yet as he was up to hold out his hand so she could stand, using him for balance. "See if they are comfortable in fit."

She was surprised, and rather touched that a total stranger had offered to give up her skates to Karina for nothing. "Oh.. that was awful nice of her." She hadn't known Rhett had another sibling but shouldn't have been surprised, considering how big the families tended to be around here. When he stood her own, large green-blue eyes turned up to him. Test them out? "Alright.." She made sure to grab his hand first, not wanting to fall flat on her face! Using him as leverage then she slowly raised from the bench and stood a moment, getting used to the strange sensation of having the narrow sheets of metal beneath her feet. There was one perk though, "I'm taller." She stated that with a little grin as the skates elevated her diminutive height a couple of inches. "Pretty perfect fit," she added with a slight bend of her knees to test the fit.

Especially since once she was up, those blades started moving. "There is teeth cut into the tips of the blade to help you keep from moving, or for stopping by tipping your foot forward. Got to be careful you don't try to stop too suddenly either. You'll get the feel for it." Carefully retracting his hold in leaving her stand on her own before he was over to quickly get on his skates so he could join her.

Glancing down, she lifted one foot just slightly to look at the teeth which firmed jagged edges along the tips of the middle. Ahh, that made sense. She gave a nod. "Alright. I'm ready." Even if the whole idea seemed a little nutty she was eager to give it a try. Once his hand left hers she lifted her arms a little, an instinctive effort to gain her balance. She'd reached back to hold on to the edge of the table, and leaned forward slightly, trying to dig in with the fronts of the blades. It worked; she didn't slide around on the ground, at least, as she waited for him to get his own skates on. Another onion ring snagged in the meanwhile too.

He was quick about getting his skates on and up off the bench to the edge of the frozen lake. "Watch me first then I'll help you along to try what I do. You shift your weight back and forth as well the skates as you move," instructing then demonstrating as his feet pushed out with each forward motion to work up speed then he glided as he turned, more strokes of the blades then stopping on a dime where he had started. Taking a few steps to hold out his hand she could take and give it try at his side while he helped her with the balance so she didn't fall. He would easily move as she moved.

"You make it look so easy," she told him with a smirk. She watched him as he moved gracefully out onto the ice then returned to her side. "Alright, here goes nothing..." Deep breath taken and she took hold of his hand, then started forward. Of course as soon as they moved onto the ice her legs would wobble some as they became used to the strange feeling. She didn't falter though, but moved forward slowly. Her legs were held somewhat stiff, the habit of all beginner skaters as she tried to brace herself.

"Relax, move into the feel of it as part of you," which helped and the fact she didn't fall yet was a good sign she would get the hang of it quickly. Although she had not tried to turn yet! He was close at her side, moving with her and somewhat moving her along too. "Try moving your skates as I showed you and if you need to have your arms free, let me know." At some point she would want her hands free to be able to completely move on her own.

Relax? That was easier said than done! Though Karina's background made her naturally dextrous and sure-footed (if not always graceful). So she slowly but surely was trying to take longer strides, pushing off from one foot and sliding forward a couple of inches rather than just see-sawing along with both feet. She wavered a little the first time she tried it but after a few more tries, she could do it fairly steadily, though the strides were rather short. She glanced up to Rhett beside her with a flashed grin. "This isn't so bad.." Almost said 'ain't' but managed to catch herself!

"No, it's not and eventually you'll be skating backwards," as he moved to do so in front of her, a reverse of how one went forward. He wouldn't go too far ahead as he curved back and forth encouraging her to keep up with him. "You're doing great," which had a fuller smile flash with the show of teeth before back to the more pressed one that held a dimple to the side. He had gradually let go of her hands so she was free skating.

Oh boy, he was picking up speed which meant she was too! Concentrating on her footwork and on keeping her balance, she almost didn't notice that he'd let go of her hands. Not until she looked up from her feet and saw Rhett cruising along backwards a small distance in front of her. She wobbled a little but kept going forward. "You fink! It's your fault if I fall..." But she was laughing. One stroke at a time she was moving forward, though of course had no hope of matching his speed at this point. Her arms were slightly lifted, her legs moving slowly beneath her on the ice.

At one point it seemed to him she was going to fall as he scooted forward to wrap her up in his arms. Bulky hold for their clothing and he brought her around in a circle much like he had catching her when she ran down the hill. It brought them very close as he slowed their pace, blue eyes locked upon hers and that ever present pressed smile. He didn't say anything so he didn't break the spell of the moment but she might notice he was slow dancing with her, keeping her balance with his and he was slowly moving backwards as she moved forward as one.

Indeed she'd caught the blade of her skate against the ice strangely, and her arms began to windmill to catch herself, when suddenly she was caught up by his strong arms. It drew her gaze upward, where it latched upon his. Almost felt like she was drowning in the depths of his blue eyes, a sensation as dizzying as it was wonderful. Her arms had gone around him when he caught her and she didn't move them, not an inch as they started slowly drifting across the ice together. Supported by him like this she did almost feel graceful. Not just the ragtag runaway that she usually saw when she thought of herself. She saw something else reflected back when she looked at him and a smile, warm and true crept across her own lips. Even as her heart danced a tango in her ribcage, making her swallow.

It was a magical moment as only being on a frozen lake in the middle of the night could cast. Hazy blue white and the twinkle of silver minute diamonds that wayward light skipped over snow to dazzle. A few stars in the sky peeked through to twinkle as the night clouds continued to drizzle flakes to float all around them. They continued moving but it was getting slower and slower as he first pressed his nose against hers like he did once before. A nudge, a tease as eyelids lowered this close as well with the downcast of his eyes. All the while they were swaying, hard to tell if they were really moving or not still but it didn't matter. There was a lot of feeling welling up in him and it changed the color of his eyes to a far deeper blue, one that held restrained passion. His lips touched the corner of hers, teasing some and more seeing if hers welcomed his. Rhett was not one that would ever force himself on another but she was far too tempting for him no matter how disciplined he was, so he naturally would give it a try. If she hauled off and punched him, well, it would be worth it.



Date: 01-24-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 28

The landscape around them felt almost enchanted, enough to send a shiver down her spine though she was plenty warm in his embrace. Despite the beauty of the evening her eyes did not stray from Rhett's, looking as deeply into them as she dared, feeling him looking just as deeply into her own soul. The intensity of it was almost frightening as her heart thumped more quickly. She almost wasn't breathing when he bent to nudge her nose, her eyes moving down before flicking back upwards, catching his gaze only millimeters away. She watched him draw closer and then felt the featherlight touch of his lips along hers. The fear melted away in a rush. Releasing her held breath, Karina's eyes slid shut as her face lifted upward, instinctually finding his lips fully with her own. Her lips were warm and the kiss was slow, testing, all the more intense for its gentle uncertainty. One hand moved up to cradle along his neck, her fingers sliding beneath his scarf to feel his skin. They might have been standing still by now, but she felt as if they were spinning circles round the lake!

Rhett may not have kissed too many girls in his life but he certainly knew how to. Perhaps it was the girl he was kissing now that made it far easier. His lips moved over hers, taking and giving with each sliding stroke, meeting hers as the intensity slowly grew, drinking more and more to almost ravishing. He had stopped their motion with the tip of his skate to dip in a bite of the ice beneath. His hat pressing back as his head slanted to one side then lifted only to have his lips plunge at the opposite angle. A hand moved up her back to support her head and neck, fingers sprawled there as the silence around them formed a magical cocoon taking them to a world of their own suspended with their kiss.

Karina had only ever kissed one other boy in her life - well, two, if you counted Snoddy Jacobson at the age of ten. He'd tried to smooch her cheek and she'd punched him in the nose. Last year, Conor had been her first true kiss and his had been fiery, passionate and a little overwhelming by this very lake. But for all its slowness, this kiss was the one that was making her insides melt and her knees go weak (luckily he was holding her up!). Tentative at first, Karina felt Rhett's lips press more demandingly against hers and she responded with the same need. She was standing up on the tips of her skates as she reached for his lips, her head tilting to return his kiss in perfect time. All the while she was thinking that this couldn't be real and she must have accidentally stepped into some stranger's life somehow. But she didn't care. She was going to enjoy it while it lasted. Her fingers slid up a bit to tangle in the ends of his hair, feeling its softness.

His hair tended to curl and somewhere in the intensity of the kiss as it deepened, his hat slid off completely to fall behind to the ice below. He didn't notice. No. Not at all. Both hands had come to cup her face as lips seared her taste to his. It might become obvious he had wanted to do this before but had held back and now.. now there was no holding back. It continued like one starving in how devouring it became until the race of his breath matched that of his heart and he finally ended the pursuit so he could breathe. Breaths came in frosted exhales that were warm against her cheek, hands moving from her face as he crushed her into his arms. Not that either would or could get crushed for the bulk of their clothing.

Karina was transported to other worlds by the kiss and, much like the frog who doesn't jump out of the pot when the water is slowly brought to boil, she almost didn't notice the way the intensity built until the kiss was cut off. She couldn't bring herself to open her eyes just yet, lest it cause this dream to fracture into a thousand pieces, but just let her brow rest against his as her rapid breaths misted in the freezing air. The way he crushed her into his arms took her breath away, though not because he held her too tightly. She clung back just as hard and buried her face into his chest. Her heart was still pounding though with joy or terror she couldn't know. The normally dauntless lass might have been trembling just a little as she held on for dear life, feeling as if she teetered on the edge of some cliff she wasn't sure she wanted to jump off of.

They were panting like two race horses which had him chuckle under his breath once it was finally caught. Arms loosened to a more comfortable hold as he finally spoke up, "I like kissing you." Holding her there until she was ready to continue ice skating with him. After she would be steady on her feet again. He noticed the frosted breaths and the kind of scene around them that added to the moment, one he'd not forget.

His matter-of-fact words helped to ease the tension and she released her own shaky laugh. "You're good at it..." That was an understatement. She did not yet pull away but kept her head against his shoulder, face turning to rest her cheek against his chest. She could smell wool from his coat and warmth, good smells she'd always associate with him, and she heard his heart beating beneath her ear. She wasn't willing to let the moment go just yet as she watched the lace-like snowflakes drift down around them. It was a bit staggering, this sudden up-welling of emotions that had manifested only in the last couple of minutes. She'd known for awhile that she liked him, quite alot and Vanessa had guessed as much early on (even if she had denied it to her friends). But this... well, it was a gently rolling hill versus the precipice she felt like she stood by now. Just one small step and she could leap off the edge... but that, of course was a much greater risk than just walking down a rolling hill.

Rhett had been an unassuming sort. He had met her a while back and had noticed her but never figured she would notice him other than someone else there for all the other males around. Many of them far more outgoing than he was. A quiet man like his father with an inner strength if one got to know him. He thought for sure she would have gotten with one of the other more charming males but as he got to be around her more, the more he started liking her that brought them to this moment. Even in his mind he had never rushed ahead with thoughts that such a moment could exist, still in wonder of it as he held her in his arms. Warm, strong arms, new sensations for him as it wasn't like any other encounters thus far. He didn't jump ahead still as what would come of this night but let it be. He soaked in the feelings this moment brought, silent night all around them as soft as the drift of flakes under the few stars above. "So do you, kiss well." In case she didn't know. He had wondered and had not been disappointed. He shifted slightly, finally, night still had its icy bite. "I think I'm going to like skating even more." Pressed smile she could probably sense before he had dipped his head back, chin tucked, to look upon her face. Blue eyes were almost black with a serenity in them that warmed as they searched her eyes, then leaned in to press a kiss to the tip of her nose.

For all her personality others might have expected her to be attracted to the more outgoing sort. What few people realized, though was that for all her gumption... she was just as quiet and in some ways, as shy as he. Maybe that was part of what drew her to him, that inner kinship of personalities. With him it was alright to be quieter, more serious or even silly because he didn't expect her to be anything but just herself. Still a source of wonder for her, as she still found it difficult to be completely genuine around some people. Those walls were just built too thick and too high to be knocked down in a matter of months. A small laugh against his coat at his words, til she felt his gaze seeking hers. Finally she pulled back a bit from him to tilt her face upward to meet his eyes. Her own were very large, very turquoise and very deep... though not even that was enough to hold the mix of emotions properly. She was happy and she was scared... and everything in between. But his gaze was so calm, so peaceful and sure.... it did alot to help soothe her rougher-edged reactions, and she gave him one of her crooked smiles.

That was the smile he was hoping to see and it had his come more fully. He soaked it in, freeze famed it to add as a very special memory. "I think if we stand still too much longer, well become icicles rooted like statues on this lake." Shifting to her side as he kept an arm around her mid-back, he started to move forward in small easy strokes of the skates against the ice. Gauging with her starting up motions so he wasn't dragging her.

As soon as his smile came out fully she was helpless to do anything except return it, and her lips curved up more warmly. "We might make a nice centerpiece for the lake though." Alright, so her insides might still be swirling 'round like a typhoon but she was at least able to joke back. She'd almost forgotten she was skating and so took a second to steady herself, with his arm around her to help. After a couple tentative little steps she was moving along more smoothly again, her own arm settling without thought around his hips. She'd try to be nonchalant... but kept stealing glances up to his face, his lips and his eyes. Couldn't help it!

It was why he had kept his arm around her, to ensure she was steady after having been immobile for that length of time. Rhett had no idea exactly how long they were standing there as it seemed a timeless amount, where the world stopped moving until finally the kiss ended and it started up again. "I think you're a natural for this, catching on really quick." Encouraging her with the truth as he finally moved ahead, arm slipping away, with a few fast sweeps of his skates then around in a pivot before he was skating backwards again. Gloved fingers wiggling in come here motion, daring her to catch him.

"You say that now, just wait til my arse hits the ice..." Oops, the old language slipped out there but somehow she didn't think he'd mind. She wobbled just briefly when he moved away, her arms lifting quickly for balance as she continued doggedly forward. A brow quirked at his beckoning and she gave him 'the eye'.... as if he were trying to get her bum to hit the ice now! But she could only pretend to be stern for so long and it dissolved quickly into a smirk as she took a stab at going faster. First a longer stride, then another, skates moving out a bit more each time... faster and faster. The strides were a bit sloppy but it didn't matter, she felt like she was flying! An incredulous laugh as she sped over towards him and probably would have fallen if she didn't grab ahold of him. "That was fun!" Eyes sparkling now.

He didn't really see anything wrong with her language out here alone with him. In a courtroom filled with respectable citizens, well then one's tongue should be curbed. The laugh came swiftly when she gave him the eye but he only taunted her more as he moved a touch faster, backwards. Once she started to go faster he slowed for the speed would have her really on her arse without the skill behind it. She had to try to learn that skill and so at the last moment he was there for her to cling onto, wrapping her up in his arms as he absorbed the momentum and kept their balance. "It is fun, they may have races one day, on skates, on this very lake." He knew a few had thought about it a couple times. He was leading her into a more rhythmic glide on the skates back towards the shore where the basket was abandoned as well their shoes. "I think heading up to the Thistle would be a good thing. Get something hot to drink, maybe even something to eat." He had worked up an appetite again.

So had she, considering that all she ate for dinner was a couple of those onion rings. "You should enter one of those races. Bet you'd win." It wasn't just flattery, he seemed to really be comfortable out here on the ice... even if he'd been going at baby speed to help her along. Saved by him from crashing, at least for the day she turned as he maneuvered them back towards shore. She was content to skate along beside him, her strides much more confident than when she'd begun even if she was no pro yet. It felt like an accomplishment nonetheless and she was beaming in a quiet sort of way as they finally stepped off the ice. "The Thistle sounds like a great idea."

He saw her over to the bench so she didn't trip up where ice met the crusty snow. "Aye, if they have one I am going to enter." That was something thought on and decided a long time ago. "If I get wind they will have one, I'll have to practice, build up my leg muscles." Certainly his chest and arm muscles were kept tone for being a blacksmith. "I like swimming too if they ever have swimming contests." Although he would swim here in the lake for the rest of his life every chance he got, weather permitting. "If they have a skating contest, maybe you'll be there to cheer me on." Something that would be new for him too. The idea had the press of a smile back as the whole while he had taken off his skates to replace them with his boots.

"Maybe I will... if you bribe me with onion rings and hot drinks." Sitting half-bent on the bench while she untied her skates, she glanced up at that to give him a teasing grin. Of course she'd be there, wild hogs couldn't stop her coming to watch him skate. She perked when he mentioned swimming. "I like swimming too. It'll be awhile before the ice breaks up and we can go in the water without it stopping our hearts, though." Maybe she'd participate in a swimming contest too some day... might surprise some folks! Skates off and boots back on her feet, she stood and offered the skates out to Rhett. "Thank your sister for me, for lettin' me borrow them."

"I'll have to show you some of the places about these lands." Not saying anything else on them so leaving them to be a surprise. As they had time. "There are some that go swimming in the winter, break the ice, jump and back out. Not me!" Which came with a laugh. Some people were crazy, at least that was in his mind. "You can keep them until you get a pair of your own," up from the seat with his slung over his shoulder. "That way if you get a chance, you can practice." Even if he wasn't here or with others. Grabbing up the basket to one hand, the other lightly at her elbow as he moved into a comfortable gait by her side. Not too fast nor slow that would have them at the Thistle in a short bit.

She shivered at the thought of that! And laughed in agreement, no thank you. "I think I'd rather wait til Spring." She remembered that Rhett had mentioned she could keep the skates... but had figured it was just politeness, so she blinked a bit in surprise. "Thanks. Tell her thanks too." Karina smiled to herself, thinking she'd come down here to practice whenever she could... though it likely wouldn't be as much fun without Rhett there to catch her! She let the skates dangle from her free hand by their laces and walked along beside him. Aware of his hand on her arm she didn't stray far from his side as they headed for the Thistle.



Date: 05-05-10
Poster: Rick McAndrews
Post # 29

Skipping Stones

Rick was still here in Heathfield lands. Sir Kevin Finnerty had joined them and a few meetings with the Queen and then training with those of these lands on the king's field. Although there was no longer a King. The whole situation was odd as he stood there, bare chest standing in the wake of the lake. He had chosen flat rocks which he put in his pockets, taking one out at a time as needed. He couldn't fathom his father going missing and how his mother would feel, how all of them would feel. It had him greatly bothered as he struggled with such. The flat of the stone pressed against the palm of his hand before shifted to be held in his fingers, arm drawn back but it was more in the flick of his wrist that sent it skipping over the smooth waters. The second one he sent skidding across did much better over the first for he had drawn his concentration to the stone for the second throw

It was a gorgeous sunny and warm day, the kind that drew a body magnetically outdoors, especially after such a long winter. Maggie had decided to find the lake that had eluded Bea for so long, and had an easier time of it than her poor friend. It wasn't long before she stepped off the brushy trail and into a clearing, broad and flat enough for her to see the sunset sparkling on the surface of the lake beyond. The reason for its name was clear, the light making it look like a vast pool of liquid gold. She smiled, taking a moment to enjoy the sight before lifting her skirts to pick her way across the field. She wore a pale lilac gown, the color of some of those spring flowers all around them and her long hair was loose, the dark waves floating on the breeze behind her. It looked like someone else was enjoying the lake too, skipping stones, and as she drew closer she lifted her voice to comment, "Not bad." A smile then offered in greeting, dimpling her cheeks. "Hello..."

Tall and well proportioned as were all the McAndrews men. Most of them blonds too, only a few in the third generation had dark hair. Blue eyes were bright that turned as he did hearing the voice behind him. Tone muscles although he could use a tan, something he had started to work on for he usually burned first for his fair skin. He would tan but to be out on the practice field lily white or worse, lobster red would have him the brunt of jokes and poking fun. So this was his answer and his skin was not lobster red but a reddish over golden. "Hello," hand poised with the flat stone in it still, "do you skip stones?"

Maggie too was naturally fair for her heritage, though she easily gained a summer glow to her skin, and a smatter of freckles across her cheeks. The sun streaks in her dark hair too appeared easily, framing her face with ginger strands. She tucked a few of these behind her ear as her blazing blue glance fell to the rock he held. "I have before, though not well."

Pants were rolled up to his calves, muscular ones at that as he stepped back out of the wake to offer her the flat stone he still held in his hand. "Be my guest, if you would like to try?" Smile brought the dimples and glint that naturally danced in blue eyes. "I'm Rick McAndrews, I don't think we have met?" There was the chance they had and if he was concentrated elsewhere he could easily forget.

She often came to the lake now that she was able to find it, usually carrying a basket with a scallop-edged table cloth and a black dress shirt. Both of which were ongoing embroidery projects. In her absent minded, yet fastidiously neat fashion she had dressed as was considered appropriate in Turkish pants and bodice the color of lemons. It was her hail to Spring considering it was getting warmer. Her shoes were comfortable for walking, and her hair was covered as was the norm for Beatrice. What she had forgotten however was in which direction after the path she should have taken to avoid some blackberry brambles that littered a few patches of the woods. Since she'd missed the cue in the path she ended up with some stickers in her hems. When she did emerge to the lake front it was with a mile wide smile and an upraised arm. "Hi Maggie!"

"I don't believe we have though I've heard your surname." Couldn't quite recall where at the moment though. "Maggie Callahan. I'm a serving girl up at the Tavern." A pause as she caught the call, and she turned to returned Bea's wave with a bright smile. Turning back to Rick, she accepted the rock, giving it a thoughtful weighing in her hand before turning to give it a toss towards the water.

Luckily the other approaching had not fallen in with the raspberry bushes. Her clothes and skin would be torn up some if not careful. "I'm not surprised on having heard my surname, there are enough of us around." Sweeping smile had the dimples right back. "Nice to meet you Maggie Callahan, not of THE Callihans?" Being he had not heard of her associated with them and he knew them. "Hello Beatrice," having met her already in the Thistle for that matter. "How have you been?"

Blink. She watched the stone skip, skip away... and let out a laugh. "I promise I was not being modest, I've never skipped it so well in my life! You must be good luck." Her vivacious smile had a dimple upon her own cheek. "No, no elation to them that we know of at least."

Nodding as Maggie skipped the stone. "You do well."

"Hello Rick! It is nice to see you again!" They were skipping rocks, she saw but rather than join in that particular game she sat right on down and got to work. Bea liked to work out in the sunshine. She had a frame taunt with fabric that was slowly but surely coming together with a nice design. "That was great, Maggie. It's so nice to have such great weather!"

He looked between the two. "If my being shirtless troubles your sensibilities, I can put my shirt back on." Reluctant to do so for his working on a tan but he was well schooled in courtly ways not to offend the ladies. "Do you skip stones, Beatrice?" As a hand dipped into his pocket that bulged with them to draw out another.

Bea had to laugh then, just a little over his courtly gesture. "I did say it was 'nice' to see you, Rick. It doesn't bother me." Her head bent then over the frame, fingers moving needle and thread sure and steady. "They don't usually skip, more or less sink." Much to her chagrin.

She smiled at Bea then glanced over her shoulder to Rick at his offer. "It's no trouble." She allowed her eyes to flick down along that bare chest, long lashes dipping then raising once more to him. Just a brief moment of flirtation before she went to fetch herself another flat rock. Now that she'd actually had some success.. she wanted to try again!

He caught that look and with a grin, turned in a quick fluid motion to have the third rock flicked from his hand out over the lake.and it didn't go too far at all. "Like that?"

Maggie smothered a giggle and pretended not to notice that rather lackluster toss. Having found herself a suitable stone she gave it a flick.  "...I believe she meant like that...."

"Or like that?" Pointing at the one to follow by Maggie.

Looking up, she grinned in closed lip fashion. "Usually it's more like Maggie's than yours, Rick." She couldn't remain seated long. She had to show them that she was truly not skilled in this area. "Maybe this should be one of the games of skill, Maggie." She hunted up a rock and set herself up, with perhaps too much concentration.

She couldn't help it, the laughter overflowed from her eyes into giggles of mirth. "See, I told you I was awful. That first must have been simply a fluke." She turned to watch Bea throw then. "That's a good idea Bea..."

Her brows fell low over her narrowed eyes as she watched the rock skip on its merry way. "And that is an utter fluke." Though she was secretly happy with it, or perhaps not so secretly since she clapped enthusiastically.

After arriving at the castle, Trevel had headed for the Thistle to see if his brother was there. When the answer was no, he searched out a few other places before heading for the lake. The voices he heard definitely weren't his brother's, so he paused and listened. He wouldn't be surprised to find Rick surrounded by lasses. Ah, there he was.

"She's been holding out on us!" Giving a low whistle under his breath. "Remind me not to get into a stone skipping contest with you, best total of three stones."

Maggie's blue eyes flew wide open at Bea's incredible throw. "My goodness. If we do have a contest I will not even bother competing!"

"You are on!" She took up the gauntlet of competition with tongue protruding just at the corner of her mouth. "Maggie, I am serious. It must just be the sunshine, as I am never usually that good with stones." But she'd give it another go just to prove a point. The long skip of the stone dumbfounded her. "Maybe it's all the sewing I've been doing?" Laughing right along.

"Right," came out with a laugh, "but.. she might fold under competition! Or maybe I'm good luck?" That was Maggie's excuse. It was in that moment he noticed his brother at the wood line. Was he seeing things? Either that or someone stole his brother's face. "Trevel?"

He had been considering turning around and waiting for him at the castle but instead, he grinned, shrugging. "Don't know who else it'd be. Wanted to see what you were up to here in Heathfield." Not entirely true since their father had been 'encouraging' him to start traveling on his own.

"We're skipping stones, come and join us. Maybe you can beat this lass," which he indicted Bea. Although he near fudged up missing introductions. "Trevellyn, this is Maggie and Beatrice, this is my brother Trevel."

She gave Rick a side long glance, while laughing in good humor. "What say you, Maggie? Is Rick good luck?" Shifting from foot to foot, she turned as a stranger emerged from the wood. He had the same looks as Rick, so she assumed they were related only to be proven correct on that assumption. "It is nice to meet you, Trevel." Bea hummed a moment before bending to search for the perfect rock. "I get one more try, right?"

A brow arched and then she turned to Trevellyn, giving a sunny smile as she bobbed a nod of greeting. "Very nice to meet you." The two did look similar, in age and features. Rick's comment made her laugh. "They are skipping stones. I am mostly sinking them."

"I'll think I'll sit this one out." He laughed as he joined them. "Nice to both of you, ladies."

"Well, if we have a contest we all start anew. Three rocks each to skip, one with the highest total number of skips wins."

"Alright then. Why don't you go first then, Rick. Then Maggie and then I." She could deal with that, while she selected and discarded rocks.

"I suppose I can try again." She too would spend the time finding some good stones. Perhaps that had been her problem before.

"It's all in fun. No matter who wins or not." Luckily no one placed any bets as he took out another rock to finger first, getting its feel before his arm wound back, body twisting then back like a rubber band as he sent it flying towards the lake. He squinted an eye, "Trevel, you keep score?" So the counting would not be contested.

Rick was kidding right? He laughed as he perched on one of the tables, watching as the rock skipped numerous times.



Date: 05-05-10
Poster: Rick McAndrews
Post # 30

Maggie was leaning over sifting through pebbles, but she glanced up long enough to see Rick's skipping off to the horizon. She laughed. "Well, he's already beaten me."

"Sure, I can do that." Snickering a little at the comment.

He took another rock from his pocket, weighing it in his hand before he drew back his arm then whipping it out over the lake with that certain flick of the wrist.

"You get three tries, Maggie. Don't put yourself down just yet." She didn't want her friend to feel down about it. It was just a game after all. She wanted the smoothest, flattest rocks she could find. And with a good weight to 'em.

"You still have a chance." Anyone's game really.

"Maybe I should have made some bets here.." turning as he gave a waggle of dark blond brows, dimples dipping with the charmed sweeping smile then back to the last flat rock he took out to handle, weight, feel its shape before taking hold, arm brought back with a twist before swinging back letting it go with a flick.

"Right, bets." It was all Bea could say because really with how well Rick did, he'd probably clean up. "Your turn, Maggie!" She would cheer her friend on!

Maggie cast Bea a blithe smile, not taking this contest too seriously. "I am simply being honest." And there he went again. Maggie looked back to Rick, laughter nearly on her lips. "Perhaps you ought to have bet on yourself. Very well, I shall try my best!" She picked out the first stone of all she'd found, turned towards the lake, took a breath and threw. "Mm-hmmm..." A significant but mirthful glance over her shoulder to her audience, that was all she would say before trying again... giving it more of a flick this time?  "Ha!" Now that actually worked! And she laughed triumphantly. "Did you count all of those, Trevellyn?"

"Aye, I'm keeping an eye on them." He offered Maggie a smile.

"Good job, Maggie!" She clapped wildly then as the stone went skipping.

"Good." A wink before turning back to the lake. Now she would even narrow her eyes a bit, concentrating...

He was over to take up a seat by his brother. "I should have bargained for kisses. As many as each were less of what I threw.." Pointing to Maggie, "she would have owed me twenty and eight." Flashing a grin Maggie's way for the tease.

Maggie grinned as her final throw was more the norm, turning back to traverse back over to the others. Rick's eyes had her eyes widening and she began to laugh. "My goodness... I do hope you would have let me pay them off over time?"

Her palms broke out in a sweat as she watched Maggie's last stone sink after only four skips. Overhearing Rick, she laughed a little while squaring her shoulders. Either she would do marginally well, or she would be completely horrid. Either result was alright with her. Mostly.

He snickered again then nodded at Bea's throw. "Not bad."

"Thank you, Trevel." She was humming loudly now, her eyes just narrowing down. She really had to concentrate, because otherwise this whole discussion would have had her stuttering badly.  Maybe she was a little more nervous than she thought! "Oh boy!" She did a little dance then, forgetting there were other people around. When she did realize it, Bea just shrugged while grinning.  "One more!" Setting herself, she flipped the rock a little in her hand and had fun with it.

He gave an affected sigh, "all in one session which could last a few hours..." that was when the merriment gave way, blue eyes dancing then back to Bea with her last throw, "now she would have only owed me four kisses."

Bea laughed. She had to, because if she had to answer it would have come out no doubt with more syllables than necessary. Tracking back to the forlorn basket, she flopped down next to it with a grin to Rick.

Since Rick was telling the scores, in a way, he didn't have to say a word. He just shook his head figuring Rick just couldn't help himself!  "You should have bet." Agreeing.

"Well, I would have given over a few for you to see to for me." Grinning as he stretched out on the grass, arm curving behind his head as he glanced up at the sky. The hues were getting darker as the sun was setting. It wasn't often he got to rest but something he knew would be that way for most of his life.

Maggie chuckled and shook her head lightly. "Alas, I will never be a champion stone thrower. Perhaps I have found my calling as a barmaid." She gave a good-natured wink as she smoothed her skirts some. Maggie was the first person to poke gentle fun at herself. "It's been a lovely time, but I should be getting back to the tavern."

"I'll see you soon, Maggie." She was sure her friend had plenty of work to do but Bea just wasn't ready to go yet. "You have a bit of an advantage. Your arms are bigger." This to Rick as she picked up her embroidery again.

"Good night, Maggie. Again, it was nice to meet you." He gave her a warm smile.

"Maybe it will only need some practice, Maggie," getting up already as he grabbed up his shirt to put on too. "Good night Maggie, I'm sure we'll meet again." It was probably time to get back too. "Have you been to the knight's hall yet, Trevel?" If not he was going to take him there where he would get to hear all kinds of stories especially from the seasoned warriors.

"Lovely to meet you both, too." She returned the smile warmly. "Good night. Bea, I'm sure I'll see you soon, we need to keep planning our event!" Her dimples appeared again, she waved and traipsed her way back to town.

"Not yet. I only got settled, and then had to greet some members of the court." He wouldn't mind the stories before he fell asleep tonight.

Picking up her basket, she nodded to Maggie. "I can't wait to get them settled. The details that is." Humming a little, she shifted the basket to her hip. "I'm going to walk until the sun sets then be back." Of course she would stick to the paths she knew would take her to the Thistle. She didn't want to get lost in the dark.

Wait.. something sunk in that had him stall there on the spot. "My arms are bigger?"

Looking up at Rick, because well he was quite a bit taller than she, Bea nodded. "Yes. Your arms are bigger. You've got more muscle so you should be able to throw the stones farther." It seemed like simple logic to Bea. Had she insulted him? Biting her lip, she rushed on. "I'm sorry! I-i-if it's b-b-ba-bad of me to say so." Stomping one small foot, she put herself back on track. God, she hated doing that!

"Well, yes, that is possibly the reason but it is more in the wrist action and you're no slouch. You threw the best I've seen a girl throw." Had his smile right back again.

Well that certainly seemed a close one to Bea! Her smile returned, one bright beam of sunshine. "Thank you. I've never done that well before. It was nice." A pert nod of that covered head as she scanned the lake's horizon. Maybe she would practice!

That had left him a little confused too but when it was explained, it was all fine. He slid off the table and waited for Rick.

For some reason his mind was elsewhere and shook it off with a laugh. It would have been awkward to explain and her rush of words were so fast he didn't even catch the stutter, he was use to a few of his brothers talking fast to get a word in edgewise and hard to understand them when they did. "Can we see you back to the Thistle on our way?"

"That would be lovely, thank you, Rick and Trevel." It was very nice to be escorted back, because it meant that Bea definitely wouldn't be getting lost this evening! "Maggie and I want to have a picnic out here, with games and such. Just because, for Spring you know? Nothing big, just some fun." In theory it was a good idea. "I want to make a fraz bannock, but I might have to ask Hazel for the kitchen." She had to laugh, Hazel ruled the kitchen.

"You might ask to use one of the number of kitchens in the castle instead of the only one the Thistle has." It was a suggestion and he knew not all the kitchens were used all the time but more for big events that came about. "What exactly is a fraz bannock?" Yes, he was clueless and chanced being laughed at for not knowing. All the while he set the pace that would take them to the commons, which in turn would be the tavern then up to the castle for them from there.

"Actually, he's escorting. I'm remembering my way back." It had been a long while since he had been here and now that it was growing dark, he'd likely have trouble. He kept up the pace easily, knowing they would talk on the way to the castle.

"Well it's a recipe from Brittany my mother used to make. You mix, heavy cream and buckwheat and eggs. And sugar! You put it in the oven and it caramelizes on the top. Then you put fruit on the top if you like. Usually I like apples." It was just slightly denser than creme brulee but lighter than any flan she had ever tasted. Walking along she gave going to the castle a thought.

"You're making me hungry!" That sounded real good to him and his stomach even rumbled in affirmation. "How long have you been here, Beatrice and is it far from where you came from? Do you have family?" A few questions would help to pass the time as they headed from the lake to reach the commons, the tavern would not be far from here.

She chuckled then, shifting the basket on her hip a little as they went. "Brittany is where my mother is from. It's far from MacKinnon land, but that doesn't matter now. I have my mother, then my sister Jesilynn and my brother, Cadam." She just lit up when she talked about her family, her voice just a touch more bubbly. "I have some cousins, and an uncle. But they all live on MacKinnon land right now. The McCarrins are a poor lot, or so my uncle Horace says." Not that Bea seemed to mind the designation.

He took the basket from her if it was that heavy she needed to brace it against her hip, it would be returned and was returned to her upon reaching the steps of the tavern. Here they would depart but it had her safely back. "It's good to have family even if they are far away. Maybe they will come and see you if you plan to stay." Which followed by a smile. "Poor in coin mayhap but not in heart and they are the far richer then."

Taking her basket back with a grin, she nodded. "Exactly right! On both counts. Thank you very much for walking me back, Rick and Trevel. It was very nice of you." She hoped her mother would visit someday, but who knew! The future was not for her to tell. "Have a good evening, the two of you. And rest well! It was nice to meet you, Trevel. I'm sure we shall meet again!" If he came to the Thistle, he was sure to see Bea.

"Good night, Bea. Rest well and I'm sure we will." He bowed slightly, a habit taught him by his mother!

"A good evening to you as well. Sleep sweetly and remember to see about using one of the kitchens up at the castle." If she needed help with that he could see to it easily.  His brother was becoming a zombie so he was off with those parting words to usher Trevel away to the knight's hall.

"I shall ask most certainly. Thank you for the suggestion." It was so easy to be, just Bea around so many of the people in Heathfield. Turning, she went in for the night with a grin on her lips.



Date: 05-25-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 31

Picnic at the Lake

Rhett sent a runner to the Avian Gardens with a note for Karina. He was done early so was heading for the lake and if she had time, to come join him once her tasks were done. He needed to cool down after forging a number of swords. A break well earned as he floated on his back in the lake. The waters had warmed finally as the sun beat down over a slick glistening chest. There was a picnic basket on the table near the sandy area, it was packed with sandwiches, cider and pie slices that Hazel obliged him.

Karina still hadn't told Rhett in so many words that she couldn't read, little wonder she was embarrassed to admit it. So it had taken some detective work to figure out what was in the note and where Rhett had gone. Her beau would have a bit of a wait but eventually she came hastening down to the lake, a long green skirt brushing against sandal'ed feet and a crisp white short-sleeved blouse atop that. Hair bound back in a haphazard ponytail. Bounding down to the lake, she was about to call out but then saw him floating there so serenely. Mischief sparked in her eyes and she melted into the underbrush without a sound. Seconds later he'd have a small banshee pouncing him with a dive into the water, her skirt left behind in a bush to wear only that blouse and the white cotton pantaloons that had been beneath the skirt.

There was a lazy pressed smile upon his lips while Rhett drifted. Hands at his sides worked as propellers under the water as needed to keep his position and floating balance. He watched something in his mind's eye he discovered had opened up and so exploring it. Hazy as it may be there was a form, white, moving, slinking to dissolve into water with a splash, Eyes flew open to discover the reality of such an event happening. He naturally straightened to thread water for it was over his head where he'd been floating, "there you are! I'm pleased you could make it." He is wearing cut offs this hot day.

She surfaced with water streaming down her face and over loosened curls, which she pushed out of her eyes as she gave him a cheeky grin. Clearly pleased with herself for sneaking up on him. "Hallo. Sorry it took me awhile, I had to finish up some things at work." It was half a truth and she gave him a blithe smile. "This is the first time I've been swimming this year. I'm surprised how warm the water is already." It wasn't really WARM yet but at least it was not too chilly to chase one out of the water after only a few minutes.

A hand snaked out under the water as fingers curled around her arm to move her within his. Loosely held as he treaded water. It was a nice cooling warm compared to the air around them. "This is the first time for me too. I heard from others coming to look at swords that it was warm now." Wicked bit of a grin before he went under water taking her with him. Lips finding hers for a watery kiss.

Eyes widened briefly at the sudden grab and then she was comfortably in his embrace. Arms moving to loosely wrap about him in return as they floated there. It was his turn to take her by surprise with that underwater kiss, which she returned but then had to surface only a moment later, spluttering and laughing. "That's harder than it looks!" She caught her breath then quirked a brow at him. "Maybe we should try again?" No time for him to agree to the suggestion before she pulled him underwater with her, pulling his face to hers for a longer kiss.

The kiss to linger longer before he was up with her shaking his head as droplets flew all about them. Laughing good with her. "aye, it will take practice. So... ready..." the last word out quickly as he went under with her again, this time the kiss had a bit of tongue involved for a split second. Taking that longer kiss mutually. One could last three minutes to five at the most. He was going to hold his breath as long as he could while arms and legs entangled, dropping them naturally down with gravity but slower being in water. Once near the bottom. he used his feet to launch them up towards the surface again.. it was about eighteen feet here. Not as deep as the middle of the lake could be up to forty or more.

Karina didn't usually venture under the water itself much, at least not enough to have great lung capacity. But with that kiss she forgot that they were underwater, losing herself in it as her tongue flicked out testingly in return. Somewhere in the back of her mind she noticed they were sinking, and there was just the briefest moment of panic as eyes opened to look about the watery world around them.... but she trusted Rhett and sure enough, seconds later they were being propelled upwards and popping back up to the surface. Where she had to draw in several deep breaths to recover from the depth but they were half laughter.

He too was drawing in lusty lung fulls of air. Laughter mingled in short bursts between. "I think that is enough practice, underwater, for today." Although he was enjoying the moments keeping her in his arms. It was more the look in blue eyes coupled with the pressed smile that spoke more than words could. Watching her while held before finally breaking the spell as he looked beyond, shore wise, "are you hungry?"

"I think so or else my lungs might burst," she agreed with a little grin. One which faded into the expression of something deeper when she caught him looking at her like that. It was so intense it was almost too much but she couldn't look away either.... and might have just floated there looking at him goofily forever if he hadn't broken the spell. Turquoise eyes finally losing their grip on his as she glanced over to the picnic basket. "I am actually," but she made no move to remove herself from his arms, keeping herself entangled with their faces still only millimeters apart. "But this is nice too...."

He was going to try something being they were a good distance from the shore, he went floating on his back and tried to pull her up on him. That of course didn't work like he had planned and he started to sink so she ended up more at his side than atop him. Still, it was close enough as he started them floating towards shore. "I think you like the water as much as I do." More a statement as blue eyes captured turquoise.

Eyes danced as she let him maneuver her about, easy to do for her petite build, but she burst out laughing when even her small weight made him start to sink. "Otters are much better at that," she teased before settling into that sideways recline. Arms around him to hold herself close as he kicked them back to shore. "I do like the water," she agreed and then he was catching her eyes like that again. Something he was VERY good at for his gaze was like a magnet for her own. It was something of a challenge to continue conversing with that gaze, "I'm uh... not a great swimmer though since I just learned a few years ago.."

"You do well enough for not being a great swimmer. Most important thing is being able to float." Eyes were drifting about the lines of her face, stalling on her lips as for the look one could feel their touch as it had been only minutes ago. From there back to her eyes as they reached a depth where he could stand. Maneuvering easily, "get on my shoulders." which he would duck enough to help her on, piggy back style, arms curling around her legs and once she was ready, to stand up straight again.

That look had the heat rising on her face, his first words barely registered though she gave a nod of agreement. His second set of words though were strange enough to have her waking with a laugh. "What?" Wondering what he was up to she smirked at him a moment then complied. Extricating herself from his embrace to clamber onto his back, then with his help, up onto his shoulders. Her slim thighs straddling his neck loosely and once he came out of the water, she leaned over to regard him upside-down, fingers on his head to brace herself. "What exactly do you have in mind hmmm?"

"You never had a piggy back ride?" Children loved them as hands formed over her shins to keep her steady then he dashed to the right, then to the left as she would have to hold on good or topple off his back. The rush was exhilarating alone but then pretended to stumble here and there where they would both plunge if he really did.

"No-ooo aaaah!" Her reply peeling off into a sound of surprised exclamation. Her fingers wrapped tightly in his curls as if they were reins, holding for dear life but soon she was laughing amongst the yelps whenever he swerved. "You're doing that on purpose!" She accused him, grinning as the quick movements had the wind rushing against her face. "Now I know what it feels like to ride an ostrich.." She had an idea then, and reached down to put one of her hands right across his eyes to blind him... a daredevil move but she was curious how he'd react.

He started laughing when accused of doing it on purpose, for he was but the laughing had him loose his balance when his foot landed on some slippery mud coupled with the hand to go over his eyes and they both went plunging into the approximately five feet of water he had managed up to. It was like a whale surfacing and slapping its tail when they hit with such a force it sent a nice size wave in the splash. She would end up going flying from his shoulders into the water but water had that kind of buoyancy to make it a soft, yet splashy wet landing.

Ooops..... she could see them launching towards the water even if he couldn't, and let out a squeal that was soon muffled by water. SPLASH they hit the water, and she paddled her way up to the surface, spluttering and laughing. "Guess that was my fault..." A wry grin as she sloshed back over towards him. "Is my ostrich alright?"

"Ostrich???" Trying hard not to laugh, "is that how you see me? Well," he was chasing her again as hands swatted and splashed her all the way up to shore. He obviously was fine and certainly worked up an appetite at this point for his stomach growled but he was growling like a bear in chasing her.


"Well, you're tall like one," she squeaked and took off running to avoid his grabbing hands, "and you run like one!" Laughing as she swatted him right back, then wheeled suddenly to seize his hands. "Guess you're better looking than most ostriches..." that with a grin up to him, cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling vivaciously from the chase. Holding his eyes a moment as her grin stretched wider, hearing the noises from his stomach. "I've never heard any sort of bird growl like that, though.."

He was still laughing as he chased her only to come up short as she turned so he didn't bowl her over. Hands grabbed had fingers curling around her wrists as he pulled her up against him. Chin dipped with 
 mischief twinkling in blue eyes. "How many ostriches have you kissed? I would hope I am more handsome or I might have to see about hiring Faelan to bring back one just for you to kiss. I'll stand and watch of course." His stomach gave over a particularly loud rumble that had him laughing, "no excuse for it other than I am hungry and need to be fed.. soon.. immediately." Which he hauled her up, half over a shoulder as feet pounded, splashing water through the wake until they were at the picnic table where he gently set her down. The smell alone would make his stomach protest again in its want.

A brief gasp at the sudden grab of her wrists, which relaxed into snickers. "Well... there was this ostrich I met in a tavern once, he had a really nice - beak." She was trying hard not to burst out laughing, but failed as she started snickering again. "Don't worry though, you have a nice beak too," that said as she reached up to grab his nose between her fingers for a tweak. Letting out a yelp when she was slung over his shoulder, but she hung there like a sack of potatoes, enjoying the ride over to the picnic table. Once set down she pushed some of those unruly wet curls from her face. "Alright, let's get you fed then. Think you can manage to feed yourself, or are you too weak?" Clearly teasing him as she gave a mock pout.

"Beak.. like one very large proboscis?" Trying very hard not to laugh. "I didn't know that was your preference in men," he had a small one, well normal size. Rubbing it after being tweaked, "when in line for noses he thought God said roses and said I'll take a big red one." Hand snaking out as fingers tickled up her side. "I might plea too weak just to have such attention doted upon myself by yourself.." giving a wink as he opened up the basket and took out the plates. Next would be the food to distribute between them.

"A what?" Yeah, that big word sailed right over her head, but she chortled at the play of words that next came from him. Twitching a bit at the tickling and swatting his hands away once more. A roll of her eyes as he went on, "You  look strong enough to me," but her smirk was wide when he winked. Karina helped him to pile the food out on their plates before taking one of them for herself. Her hair pushed back to lay over her shoulders like a curly curtain before digging in. She was wearing only soaked-through cotton pants and shift, but luckily the day was warm and the sun bright to prevent feeling chilled. The food tasted wonderful after the swim and as always, she scarfed it down like a starving pup.

He was hungry as a bear, much like the rumble of his stomach foretold. Once the food was distributed, in dug in wolfing it down at first - one could wonder if he was inhaling it - before slowing down to something more human. "We can lay out in the sun and dry off once we've our bellies full. Like beached whales.." merriment in the tone before wolfing down the rest of his sandwich only to 
 be followed by a good long drink of the cider.

That sounded very nice indeed and she nodded willingly, but confined the movement of her mouth to chewing. Swimming made a person hungry and her prodigious appetite wasn't satisfied for several minutes of busily munching. Quick work made of the sandwich and she took the bottle of cider from Rhett once he'd finished, chugging down a long gulp. "Ahh." Now that was better. The bottle was offered back to Rhett before she was up from the bench and over to sit, then flopped backwards, lying on her back on the grass with arms outspread. "I feel like a beached whale. One with lots of blubber." She had a naturally skinny frame but that big meal had the smallest food baby forming on her stomach!

One last drink of the cider before he was up and over, taking the blanket with him to flip out over the grass next to her. Wry grin as he obviously wasn't going to lay directly in the grass with all its little crawlers, ants, beetles, small bugs, worms, centipedes and so on. Stuff that got stuck to wet skin a well non living debris. He was down to sit first, running fingers through his hair in a way it would send a spray of small droplets her way. "Better blubber to keep you grounded than so skinny you're picked up by the next strong breeze and tossed away to who knows were.." slanting a blue eyed look her way with a pressed smile she'd see more the profile of before he finally plopped down the rest of the way on his back. Arm hooked behind his head as he looked up at the sky above. "Perfect day at the lake," more mussed but it had that kind of fresh scent to the air near a body of water as big as this lake. A light warm breeze to keep it from becoming intolerable hot outside the water, clear sky of blue with only wisps of clouds near the horizon and birds flying above. A couple of hawks gliding.

She turned her head sideways to watch him lay the blanket down before sitting, and returned the wry grin. It was just as obvious that she didn't care about a few bugs, heck, she'd slept out in the open enough times before. And so to parry his spraying of water at her, she lifted a bit of dirt between her fingers, sprinkling just the tiniest bit onto his bare chest. Lips curved naughtily wondering if he'd even notice it, before she folded her arms beneath her head as a pillow to look up also. "Perfect," she agreed, eyes on the hawks above with her own musing thoughts.

The sprinkle of dirt on his chest had brows lifting as he turned a look her way. Pressed smile had a wry touch to it tipped off to one side for a suspended moment. Finally broken as he spoke up, "is that some kind of claiming ritual? Put a little dirt on his chest and he's yours?" It took a good amount of will power to keep a straight face the while and the only thing giving way was the sparkle it brought to his eyes.

Head tilted sideways again when she felt his eyes on her. Gaze flicking along his features as she noted the sparkle there, and it brought a grin to start on her own lips. Thinking a moment before replying, "Could be... that is if you weren't mine already...?" Playfully asked though her eyes were on his.

"Well, there is that.." which had him laugh. A low rumbling kind. "I would say that you and I are an item as some would put it. I'm not seeing anyone else and you're not seeing anyone else and we prefer being in each other's company in various ways that would support us being together." Of course she knew all this so it was a touch amusing, a touch teasing too in voicing it. "Shall we take a walk up to the commons once dried enough and see what the vendors have to sell today?" He would also drop off the basket at the Thistle on their way so he didn't forget and the least he could do after Hazel making up the basket or one of her kitchen maids, Hazel still did the cooking.

She didn't say anything to that, but as usual with Karina, what she didn't say was easy to read in her eyes. Which were soft and smiling to what he said. His question did elicit a reply. "Sure. Once I can move..." That with a bit of a grin for she was still lying there like that beached whale.

"Aye, once our blubber melts away under the sun.." referring to being a beached whale and wet still. No shirt on his top was already dry, just the cut offs as he heaved up and around like it was a great effort to flop over considering all they ate and drank. An 'oomph' as he turned onto his belly and nestled his chin against the backs of his folded hands. Eyes closed as he soaked in the moment and warmth.

He might catch a giggle from her when he made such a show of maneuvering over onto his belly. She turned on her own side then just lay there a few moments, watching him or at least his top half. An impulsive move had her scootching over, settling onto her stomach right next to him, the skin of her arm pressing against his. A bit of a sigh as she lay her head down on her folded arms and closed her eyes. It was just nice to be close.

He was aware of her scooting closer, the touch of her skin against his brought on other thoughts naturally. Shifting enough, he snaked an arm around and over her shoulders in a way to tuck her a bit closer. Content now himself with the release of a near silent breath he let the moment take him into a light doze. Birds heard even better as well her breathing.

The arm brought her to snuggle in closer. Now, she was perfectly comfortable and drifted off into a doze too with the birds to sing them a lullaby.

Date: 06-07-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 32

From the Thistle to the Lake
Instead of heading straight back to the cottage, Rhett maneuvered them onto the path that would bring them to the lake instead. "I don't think one of those bottles would go amiss if you'd like to share a few drinks with me?" It was a grand night too, stars above, a light breeze filled with the scent of flowers, warm too, warm enough to go swimming if one wanted to.

She'd been mostly quiet during the walk, wrapped up in her thoughts that kept her distant even as she walked not five inches away from Rhett. She only noticed that they were going a different direction when the lake was sparkling in the moonlight before them. "It won't go amiss, as long as we drink the whiskey." Since Vanessa didn't touch the stuff. The cider was for Van, the whiskey for whenever Segan visited.. or when Karina wanted a nightcap.

They didn't need to drink the whole bottle, as he wasn't looking to get shitfaced nor have her the same. "I know you said all is fine but you feel distant, not how you usually are so... still has me concerned. I get the feeling that whatever it is, it is not something you wish to share and I .. well.. I can respect that." He was being honest with her. It was not like her to be so quiet.

She stole a glance up to him as he spoke, gauging his expression and his words to be genuine. A little bit uncomfortable that he was able to guess her mood so quickly, but then they knew each other well by now. There wasn't much to say after he said he wouldn't push her for information.... nothing much except the obvious, of course. She gave half a shrug, "It's nothing, really. Just tired I guess." There was a pause as she stepped over a small rotting log fallen across the path. "I just think it's strange. Conor Quinn showing up out of nowhere when he disappeared, out of nowhere.. near a year ago now. Did a black hole suck him up then spit him out again?" A short laugh that was a bit harsh along the edges.

Lips pressed in that silent grim line this time around, one of resign in this matter. Even the near silent breath exhaled spoke volumes as a hand reached instinctively out as she had to step over the log. One filled with termites as the larger size ants went scurrying. Then she was saying something as he listened, a little heartened she would share. "The way his brothers greeted him, it seems that wherever he went, they were aware of but it was a long time gone and they were pleased to see him back. If you are so curious on where he went, you should have asked." Wondering why she cared. "Is there a reason you wish to know?"

"Why did I have to ask?" She countered. "Someone coulda told me. He coulda told me himself." She shook her head as if batting gnats away, irritably. "It doesn't matter. He was always an ass, anyway. C'mon," she switched topics, "I'll race you to the shore." And before another blink she took off running.

Which only had him blinking. "Was there something between the two of you that it matters to the point you are agitated in the way you are reacting?" It was not usual for people to just go around telling other people unless there was a reason to tell them. There she went running as he stood there a moment trying to process this all and obviously looking very confused. A moment later he was on the move but not running.

She pretended not to hear Rhett's question... indeed by the time he asked it she was out of good hearing range, but she caught the gist. Running with the wind streaming through her hair and the grass pressing beneath her sandaled feet, she soon reached the lake's edge and stopped to turn around. Only to see Rhett walking the rest of the way. That didn't bode well as now Rhett looked somewhat agitated too. Waiting for him, she caught her breath and kicked herself for blurting anything out in the first place.

When he caught up, the first thing he went for was the bottle of whiskey to open up and take a long burning drink. As if the burn would chase away the thoughts that wanted to torture his mind with. Once lowered it was offered her way as he took up a half sitting position against one of the larger flat rocks.

She handed over the whiskey when he reached for it, watching him take that long swig with some trepidation. Taking it back for a swig of her own, then she too sat, opposite Rhett atop a rock. Cue awkward silence as the crickets chirped all around them. She cast about for a change of subject. "I'll have to come by the smithy soon to see those swords you made. I bet they're really nice..."

She had the intensity of blue eyes on her as if he could pierce her right there to the spot and have the whole of the truth out of her just from the desire in his wishing to know. There was a personal stake in this and he certainly didn't wish to turn out to be the fool. "Aye, I would like that," his voice deceptively calm considering the whirl of his thoughts. The sting of jealously which he wasn't use to nor liked. "You aren't having second thoughts about you and me?" Daring the question that one could fear the answer to, most ignoring any questionable signs to pretend, hide their head in the sand.

She hadn't expected that question and the surprise was blatant on her features. Her brows drew together in a confused frown that was also defensive. " Why are you asking that?"
He visibly relaxed with her admittance that wasn't what he feared. "'Cause you're acting different, getting mad over another man being gone and all." Giving a slight rolling shrug of his shoulders so those little demons whispering in his ear could be chased away.

Well. He was right and she didn't know what to say about that. So her gaze fell away as she twiddled a twig between her fingers. "I was just mentioning it, I don't know. It didn't mean anything..."

"Why is it bugging you then?" Now he was curious, if it wasn't the reason he feared then there was some other reason.

"I don't know!" Now she was getting impatient. It wasn't really Rhett's fault, she was frustrated with herself and her confused muddle of thoughts. It had all just happened suddenly. "It's not bugging me. Can we just drop it? He's truly not worth it."

"Aye, it sounds like sour grapes between you, getting spurned." Not being sure if that was the right word but she was acting like someone who got turned down, that something had gone on and seeing the one, set her off. What happened was not his business only unless it affected how she felt about him. If that was not changed then, well, he took up the bottle again for another drink. Good one but not quite as long.

Her eyes shot back to Rhett at that and there was that unmistakable flash of temper. He had touched a nerve there alright. "Spurned?" She repeated the word with emphasis. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about." There was a pause as she fought to bite back the words that would probably only start another fight. And failed. "Why would you even say that? Like it's so obvious that he was the one who spurned me and not the other way around? It's none of your business anyway."

Actually he knew what he was talking about it was just that he should not have said it out loud. He was going by her reaction to a man returning that there should not have been such a reaction. Lips pressed together as he didn't say anything to her accusation at first. "If it was the other way around it would not bother you so, there would be nothing," she asked. "It is my business if you are with me and really wishing to be with someone else. Put yourself in my shoes, if I reacted to a lass that came back in the way you have with him."

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about," she repeated, firmly. She was really starting to get peeved but she was controlling it. That was something which had changed in the past year. "You're getting worked up about nothing. I loathe Conor Quinn." Maybe that vehement statement would put an end to it.

Well, that was what he was trying to find out earlier, if it was not some kind of unrequited love, "why do you loathe him so?" That was pure curiosity.
So much for ending it, that question put her on the spot again. She shook her head as if that might jar an answer into her brain. "Because. He's a complete arse. He doesn't care about anything except himself. Why are we still talking about this?" Taking the whiskey back to down another sip.

He was going to hash this out until he felt like his relationship with her wasn't threatened by an old flame or even arse that had flamed her. "Because it is one of those things that happened and I was there while it was happening," lips pressing together again so he didn't add.. and if it would matter to you not to be with me anymore to be with someone else.. Because that was the crux of it and trusting she was being honest with him. That he might have the shock of turning up someplace to see her in the other's arms after all they had been together. It would hurt him deeply especially feeling the fool that he didn't know. The bottle was lifted for another drink as he took it up after she had a drink.

She was shaking her head. "Nothing happened." That was a lie and she had a momentary pang. But really it was only half a lie. Because what had happened, turned out to mean nothing, to Conor at least. And nothing had come of it, so it really was... nothing. "Alright? You're making a mountain out of a molehill. I didn't know I could never mention any other man around you without you getting like this." That was added before she could realize how petulant and spiteful that sounded and she chomped down on her lip.

He had to think on that, examine himself and his reaction, "Only if I felt there was nothing, that you didn't go running like demons on your heels after running into the one. Things done and over have one with an aire of indifference but I'll trust your word that there is nothing no matter you're actions that caused me to question it in the first place. Not so much if there had been anything between you and him or you and anyone else that is in the past, see, that is what is questioned, is it in the past? If the man came to his knees before you spewing words of undying love of a sudden, would I be thrown aside for someone else that is not really in the past? That is why I got like this. It's called self-preservation when you care as much as I do.. about you."

He was making sense, the way he explained his reaction. That didn't mean she wasn't still discomfited by this whole conversation.. this whole night for that matter. For long moments she was at a loss, not only for how to answer but also how she felt. She shook her head again as the words pulled themselves haltingly from her lips. "Listen. You're the first person who has ever cared for me.. like that. You're one of the only people who's ever cared for me at all. No chance I'm gonna throw that away." She wasn't exactly eloquent but her voice rang true and genuine now. "I guess.. I don't know how to deal with that sometimes. Having people care enough about me to get upset when I say something wrong. Which is a lot unfortunately," there was the hint of a wry smirk there. A peace offering. "And I don't always trust it either. But the one thing I can say for sure is.. I'm trying." She met his eyes then, her turquoise against his blue. It was impossible to convey so many years of emotional and social handicaps but she really was trying.

"Karina, it is not that you have said anything wrong." The muscle along his jaw was worked a moment as one trying to find the right words to explain things. "You should love me, not because I'm the first, or one of the few to care about you. Really care. Love is more than that. Makes me feel like, obligation than a real draw to me, to whom I am. I am drawn to you, for no other reason than you, which encompasses quite a bit too." He moved closer with the bottle offered as his other arm slid around her shoulders to tuck her in against him. "Don't love me just because I treated you right, for if that is the case than someone else can come and turn your eyes to them and not see me anymore."

She was struck into silence, not just because she wasn't sure what to say to that. Or how to say it. But also because he'd tossed in that big L word. A word whose meaning she wasn't sure she knew. Its definition was much different for an orphan. Rhett had had parents to say 'I love you' each night as he was tucked into bed while Karina was fighting other children for a spare blanket and spot on the floor. She didn't have that instinct to know how to care about people but unlike others of her upbringing... she had a heart still. Which made everything that much more complicated. She took the bottle soundlessly but didn't drink from it, when he came around to tuck her into his arm. She didn't shy away from it either. Finally speaking in a small voice. "What if you leave here. What if you're killed?" It might seem entirely off topic but, there was the crux of it. The big reason why she was so scared of committing herself to him, when he could be ripped from her at any moment.

"I won't leave here, but one never knows, I could get killed. I was once .. killed." Which if she thought her words were odd, his were probably even more. "Death is something that is going to happen to us all, at some point. Hopefully not too soon. I would like to get married one day, have children. Get to experience what my father had and has before it is time for me to leave this life. Why do you ask? As in what is your point?" His arm sliding away as he took up the bottle she held, being she didn't drink from it, so he could.

She blinked, at his comment that he was 'once killed'. What did he mean by that? It was set aside for the time being though as he asked that question. "My point?" She looked at him, struggling to convey her thoughts in the right way. "My point is.." She drew a breath and released it on a short sigh, shrugging helplessly. "I'm not with you because I feel obligated. Or because you're the only one to care about me. I'm with you because I want to be. 'Cause you always smile when you see me, and I always smile, too. Even if you didn't give a rat's arse about me, I'd care about you." There was another pause to frame her words and when he started speaking.

"That's what I need to know. That you're with me for the right reasons, not because of any other that you feel you have to be, should be, or 'cause there is no one else who wants you. Although the latter I feel there are others that would like to be even if maybe you don't see it.." brows lifting as if in challenge to those very words, that she didn't see it. "Aye, I like being with you but don't want to feel like.. well.." now he was at a loss for words so ended it with a shrug. A shrug and a drink of the whiskey again.

She gave a short laugh at his suggestion of others wanting to be with her, an idea she clearly dismissed. But she was quieted when he went on, and this time it was her turn to press a bit further. "Feel like what?"

"I'm not sure there is a word for it.. like being with me because there is no one else or one you'd like to is not available, not sure how to put it. I think I'm tired." He had been up since the break of dawn working on the swords just so he could get enough done so he could have free time later. "I should see you back to the Cottage," trust in fate instead of giving himself a headache.

She'd already told him that she was with him because she cared about him, because she wanted to be. Karina didn't know how else to say it, to convince him. But she realized in that moment that he was just as insecure as she was, about their relationship or just about trusting another person to care about you. She was at a loss about how to fix that, for herself, or for him. She might have tried if he hadn't suggested leaving right then. All she could do was look at him a long moment and finally, just nod agreement. She was tired all of a sudden too.

That was the crux wasn't it, but maybe they both needed a break for the emotion-eliciting conversation they ended up having and for Karina to get past the shock of seeing Conor home and her reaction to that fact. Rhett was realizing that whatever was to be, he wouldn't be able to change it and could only hope for the best. He never spent the time with anyone else like he was with her and it hadn't been easy either. Then again he didn't know what to expect in how a relationship went. He was still in it, and wasn't trying to get out of it either. "We can talk more if you want, tomorrow." Or not. Or might not have to.

She was still looking at him and it was a long moment again before she nodded. "If you want." Though at this point she wasn't even sure what was left to be said. Something which had begun with Rhett's jealousy had brought out other issues for both of them. It was something else to process tonight. She stood up to go but as they started walking, she caught up his fingers in his hand to stop him a moment. "I'm not with you because there's no other choice." She caught his eyes, trying to stress at least that much.

He wasn't planning a quick brisk walk so the slow pace and let his mind settle was good with him. When his fingers were caught up, he caught up her hand too, drawing her up close and personal. Chin dipped eyes were a brighter blue to capture hers. "I'm not with you because there's no other choice either." Although he didn't expound on it because he leaned in with a fierce kiss to burn a trail over her lips.

Not for the first time that he took her completely by surprise. But it was in a good way this time. Just a moment for her eyes to widen before they closed, and she melted up into his kiss, returning it just as fiercely. A passion that was always there but now suddenly ignited. Her arms wrapping around his frame with tight abandon, and that was sort of all that was left to be said.. for tonight at least.

That probably said more for both of them than their struggle with this new territory they were in. It answered questions, it appeased insecurities. The kiss only deepened as it was returned as he had her up into his arms, lifting her from the ground as he swung her around in slow motion as lips worked their magic.

It always was a struggle for them... sometimes it was exhausting, but it all came back to this. And somehow moments like this made it all okay. Always, though... there was a tiny part of her brain that wanted to tell him the things he still didn't know about her, but as always she hushed it. And concentrated on the kiss, which she returned, lips plush against his and parting in a smile he would feel as he spun her around.

It lasted until they both needed to breathe and where gravity would have her feet back upon the ground as he had taken a few turning steps, kissing her the whole while. Once to her feet, his fingers laced with hers as now he felt better. It did seem that they struggled, perhaps because they were both new to all this, caring about someone and sharing so much with them. Although there was still more to be shared he was not fully aware of. Some had been broached under a conversation full of duress as this one had been. In spite of such, they were still together. There was something to be said for that.

Maybe that was what really mattered, that at the end of the day and after a taxing discussion... they could still come together for a kiss like this. No matter what they still cared about each other.. even when it got difficult. She felt better now too and let her fingers intertwine with his for the rest of the stroll to the cottage.

Date: 06-28-10
Poster: Rick McAndrews
Post # 33

A Dip in the Lake

A warm summer morning had grown unbearably hot by the afternoon, a bright sun unmitigated by even a single cloud. Her rooms had become simmering despite opening every window, drawing her out to somewhere breezy and shady. The Lake was the logical choice and she'd taken along a small basket, with a book and a piece of rhubarb crumble. Both were yet untouched and the basket abandoned on the grass, for she had waded into the cool waters of the vast lake. It was sheer relief from the heat and also provided her the chance to float, weightless, alone except for her thoughts. The nightmare still haunted her despite the passage of time and sunlight. Her eyes were open but unseeing as she floated on her back on the surface of the water, dark hair streaming about her head like tentacles. She wore a linen shift, short in the sleeve but of longer length, and a thicker cream-color fabric that remained opaque despite being soaked to the skin.

Rick was still in the lands of Heathfield while a few others were as well, including the King of Kildare, Mikhail and the return of King Karl and his men. A few were waiting time to piece together what had happened, and what needed to be done. It would not happen overnight and this day, after being on the king's field, had many heading for cooler parts of the lands. Shirt was already off and hooked over his shoulder along with a towel. Cut off pants suited for swimming were worn, sandals stepped out of once he reached the grassy spot and spied the basket. One he was quickly over to open up and see what treasures were held within, "my oh my, rhubarb crumble pie, looks good enough to scoff down in one inhale."

She was seeing the black-cloaked monster in her mind's eye, trying with a sort of horrified fascination to see past the shadow that obscured any features that might be hidden in its hood... when the image suddenly vanished with the sound of a voice on shore. She lifted her head first then let her lower body sink, floating upright now in the lake, perhaps thirty feet out from the shore. Dark brow quirking to see a familiar figure rummaging in her basket and she lifted her voice. "That was not left out by the fairies for just anybody to claim, you know." A playful tone it was, as a smile shimmered on her lips.

He pretended that he ate it nonetheless. "I'll just leave them an IOU then!" Devilish grin that lit up blue eyes as the towel and shirt were left behind with the sandals. Rick was on the run, leaping up on the boulder that jutted out over the lake as with speed he was soon flying through the air and down into a perfect dive. One that left little of a splash for the angle he entered the water. He didn't come up right away either.

Eyes widened as he pretended to eat the pie, "That note ought to be addressed to me!" She pointed out, but as she called that he was on the move. She watched as he ran like the wind, blinking as he alighted the boulder, a rather precarious leap to the water below. She would have called a warning but then he was diving in, poised like a champion swimmer. A snicker was on her lips as she waited for him to resurface.... and waited a moment longer... and then she was a bit concerned. "Rick?" She turned about in the water just in case he had come up behind her.

He popped up behind her as strong hands encircled her waist to lift her up and heaved forward, "you called?" He loved to swim as most of his brothers and kin. One of those that was a natural in this environment.

There was barely time for a yelp before her slim frame was being thrown as easily as a rag doll. Though it was a soft, splashy landing. Down she plunged then back up like a cork, spluttering through her laughter. "That was not very nice."

It was over their heads there so it was not a drastic lift and send forward that would be if he had footing. He was treading water with that kind of grin one could want to wipe off their face or end up grinning with them. "Not too nice? Tempting a man with Pie is not too nice," teasing her back as he was slowly (if she noticed) getting closer again.

"I did not bring the pie to tempt men with," she replied, both hands lifting to push the wet hair out of her eyes. She regarded him with a faint smirk as she treaded water. "I brought it for myself. It is no fault of mine that you are a snoop...."

"Snoop you say, I say just a normal curious man," so much closer she could see just how blue his eyes were, "and you are tempting," words spaced out, "to," giving a dipping glance that didn't get much more than the water up to her next presently but he'd seen more when he had lifted her before, "men." Sweeping smile with all the charm of the McAndrews' dimples to follow.

She did not break eye contact when he maneuvered his way closer, not except for the most flickering glance down then back up. His eyes were sky blue and hers a blazing blue of their own when they met his. A dark brow arching slowly as his words came, one at a time. And she gave a low chuckle. "It is not difficult for most girls to be tempting to men. You are all alike," she claimed airily. But their was a mischievous glint in her eye.

"Well, that's easy for one to say upon me, being I have nine brothers that are all blond haired and blue eyed," purposely taking it wrong. "And ladies can no longer take a compliment graciously anymore." A pfff sound following as he swam past her, easy to switch from threading water into an all out swim, strong arms as well legs taking him through in a fast pace. He reached where he could stand and walked the rest of the way to shore. "I've something I need to go take care of but may be back later.. with pie." Laughter in his tone with the last as he took up the towel to dry himself off.

Her smile came about when he purposely misinterpreted her words, though it was still half a smirk at what he said next. "I am not the sort of girl to swoon and flutter at a compliment, Rick McAndrews," she called after him and that was that when he then took off.

Not quite as he still had his shirt to put on and feet to slip into his sandals. "If you swoon, I can catch you in my arms.." giving a wink and full dimpled smile before he was off giving a wave. He went into jogging up the path.



Date: 07-05-10
Poster: Simon Marshall
Post # 34


Vincent was still wet from his swim but had taken up a fishing pole as ones were left to be used in general. A low fire still burned in the pit someone had been here earlier so that was already taken care of. He only needed to get out a few snags in the line, then bait it. There was a container that held minnows that were caught for ones to use in this small tank set off to the side. He was planning on a fish dinner but he had a small basket of food just in case his luck bottom out.

Lately Simon had been finishing his days by heading to the Lake, and today was no different. He had gone to find where the wild horses ran and hadn't been disappointed. It took some time to find his way back to the main road but once he did, his horse, Lamorak, was as eager to go there as his rider. He was pleased to see Simon there and as Lamorak headed for the lake to quench his thirst, Simon moved over to join Vincent after grabbing a pole himself.

"Between the two of us we should catch a good many, sauteed them up in lemon juice and seasoning." He was making himself hungry so stopped talking on food as he got a bite anyway and was soon reeling in a good size bass. Lots of bass in this lake he was told.

"Three of us," Thane would correct Vincent quietly as he stepped from seemingly nowhere to join the two. A smile quirked his lips as he reached for a pole of his own and then some bait. "If I may join you?"

"Sounds good." He had taken a lunch with him but that had been eaten some time ago, and he was beginning to feel the first pangs of hunger. He was about to comment when Vincent caught his first fish and then Thane appeared. "The more, the merrier as they say." And then he too was reeling in a bass of a good size.

"Ah, good. Thane. Yes, three of us so grab a pole. You have brought your appetite with you I hope?" He shifted from where he stood as he grabbed up the fish he landed and took it over to a small trough filled with water. It was then he noticed the canoes turned over down a bit along the shore and the idea of going out in one plagued his thoughts even if not this night.

"Aye, I've not yet eaten today." Which was unfortunately, not usual for him. Either he forgot his meals or elected not to take them in favor of his long rambles. So he had good reason to be motivated for some fishing. Securing the bait on the hook, a strong arm cast, the line soaring out till landing with a muted plunk in the water.

Once he had his hook baited again, he moved down a ways to give both Simon and Thane room so they were not crossing lines or worse getting tangled with each other. "I think we hit a good time for them to be biting." The cast was long and he would reel in a bit at a time, stop, a bit more and continued that way of lurking the fish to his bait.

"It seems so." He took the fish over to the trough and released it into the water before he was back to cast his line again. "Good way to end the day too."

Thane found himself a spot a suitable distance away, settling in to wait for a nibble on his hook. Or not. The man had a patience that bordered on aggravating for those with shorter attention spans.

It wasn't long before he was reeling in another good size fish and going through the same process but he would start cleaning and cooking them. "You keep on fishing, I'll get this started." Using some old papers and a stump he gutted the first fish, cutting off behind the gill and up so far from the fin. Slicing open the belly to remove the innards then carefully drawing the flesh from the bones. Adding lemon and herbs to the pan he tossed the meat in with a sizzle and the scent of cooking fish soon filled the air.

If that didn't set their stomach's to growling, nothing would. He added another fish to the water, grinned at Vincent and headed back to try for another. Two that quick ... maybe it was the luck of the Fae?

It would only be a few minutes before his own line began to dance, and he reeled it in swiftly, a fine looking trout soon surfacing with the hook. Thane lifted it by its gill flap, sliding the hook out of its mouth then stepping over to throw it in the bucket near Vince. "If these taste half as good as they smell, we'll have a fine meal."

"Aye, we'll be having a fine meal." He already had the second gutted and cleaned and added to the large iron frying pan over the coals. Checking on the first filet as it was turned over and coated with the lemon and herbs glaze. Then he added some wild potatoes and turnips on the side he gathered earlier.

A few more would be all they'd need so he kept fishing. It was a good way to relax and none of them could be sure how many more of these leisurely days they had left.

None of them were saying much of anything, including Thane, which was normal for him... but that was alright. It was a companionable silence they kept, Thane re-baiting his hook to cast it out on the water once more. Indeed it was a relaxing endeavor and a welcome one at that.

The fall of heavy hooves probably disrupted the otherwise quiet evening at the lake as Kristina came riding up the wake as if demons were on her heels. As well those of the black stallion she was riding, bent low to his neck and reins held tight as she became as one in the long muscular stride of the beast. Mane and tail flying as well the length of her hair left loose and wild. There was something about this night that had such a calling. Clad in a brown tweed riding outfit with a ruffle shirt of pale yellow under a fitted jacket. She didn't have to encourage the beast she rode but a call came as she saw the glint of a fishing line and reared the stallion up so abruptly, as he was that well trained, the forelegs were up into the air clawing at nothing to keep his balance and tossing his rider into the water.

Thane was lost in his own thoughts but tugged quickly to reality by the rather dramatic arrival of an unknown lady. Thane reacted swiftly to that, dropping his rod altogether and wading out into the water. Hopefully no fish would take his hook in these moments or the rod could be lost in the lake. Reaching Kristina's side quickly, he put a hand beneath her elbow to help her stand. "Are you alright?"

Vincent watched from where he was preparing and cooking the fish as it didn't seem he was needed. Although he wondered on Simon as he didn't seem to react at all. "Where's that reaction time, Simon?"  Certainly the two could go at it later all in fun.

Vincent could tease all he wanted but Simon was getting out of the way of that horse's hooves, his rod dropped. Once he was back on his feet he caught the reins of the horse since Thane was already to the rescue of the fair damsel in distress.

She was struggling to her feet with help, unharmed but certainly surprised. Dark eyes were very expressive as well the brows arched up. Wet hair in a tumble of curling waves was brushed back from her face as she did her best in recovering her composure. Except she noticed his pole being dragged into the water. "OH.. look.." and darting there to try and stop it but it was getting away fast.

Thane was looking Kristina up and down, but not because she was a pretty woman in clothes that were wet and sticking to her frame... he did so in order to discern whether she'd taken any wounds. He blinked at her words, following her gaze but by then she was darting after his runaway rod. And he would join her, splashing through the water gracelessly and then when his feet no longer touched, started on a strong swim after the pole which had seemed to come to life.

He stood from where he'd been crouched by the fire and pan, turning to watch with a turner in one hand and ready to help if needed. "Are you all right miss?" But she was off along with Thane to chase his pole down.

She stopped where it would be waist high as the man went after the pole, she turned and started in only to see another abandoned pole start into the water. At least with this one she could head it off, figuring it must belong to one of the two men left on shore. She caught it in the shallow area but whatever had gotten hooked was having her falling, rolling and still holding onto the rod. "Halp, Halp," ended up with a mouthful of water to then be spit out.

The horse was fine and he was laughing at Thane but there went his pole and the lass was in trouble. He ran into the water, splashing until he reached her. One strong arm went around her waist and pulled her up and the other reached for the rod. He set her on her feet while he held on then he began playing the line until he finally brought in a large channel cat. It still had some fight left too. "Need help getting to shore?" He grinned at the woman then looked to see if Thane had caught his pole.


He swam several strokes, stopped, swam another way, stopped... as the rod zigzagged at a crazy pace and speed across the lake. He stopped again when he heard Kristina's cry behind him, and looked back quickly, but Simon was there to help her. Even in that brief interlude, whatever fish was on the end of his hook had gained momentum, and the rod became smaller and smaller in the vast lake. Thane tread water there a moment, watching it disappear, then had nothing left to do but to turn and swim back to shore. Where he emerged, soaking wet and looking wry.

When that strong arm went around her waist it was just after another mouthful was taken that then squirted out like a dolphin on a fountain. Give her a moment to catch her breath but grateful the man had taken over the pole. Finally to her feet she had that moment to regain her composure or so hoped nothing else came along to lose it with again. "Oh dear, I think he has lost his pole."

He could offer the one he used but they had enough fish as it were. "Come have something to eat." Looking between his comrades and then the lass, "if you are hungry Miss, you are welcome to share in our small feast. I am Vincent and these are my comrades, Simon and Thane," indicating each with a slight gesture of hand so she knew which was which.

She had rolled the mass of hair to the side and was wringing it out by twisting it around like one did a towel. Dark eyes shifted between the three as they were introduced while sloshing steps took her to shore. She noticed her steed was grazing a few feet away and content. "I am sorry if Twilight and myself had anything to do with the lost pole. I will replace it." Contritely spoken as she was soon trying to wring out the ends of her blouse that had worked free from the waist of the riding cut pants. "I am Kristina Frasier, a pleasure to meet you all." That's when she smiled, the light chasing away the gloom effect.

He chuckled as he followed her back to shore. "Hadn't quite planned on a swim," he murmured to Thane then smiled at the lass. "Pleasure to meet you as well, Kristina. Might as well join us. The fire might help dry us all off."  At least it was still warm even as night began to descend.

"That is not necessary, miss." Thane intoned, dipping his head in a nod towards the lady as if they were being formally introduced at some ball... rather than standing and sopping wet on a lakeshore. He stripped out of his vest at least, leaving it to dry over a bush before moving on to wring out the bottom of his poet's shirt.

"A little rain never hurt anyone nor a dip in the lake especially on such a hot night as this one. I was riding to catch the wind.." there came her smile again as she wandered over to the fire pit. "Although I think we  may dry on the spot." There was a nice breeze and she was finally feeling somewhat cooled off.  She caught sight of Thane stripping of his vest as the perusal lasted only a second before dark lashes dipped with her glance away in case he should strip more. She might find the second soaked man doing the same.

He chuckled under his breath as he dished out portions of fish onto small plates, shaped more like wooden saucers. He added a couple of wild potatoes and bits of turnip that were all seasoned in the same as the fish.

Since Vincent had been doing all the cooking, he took care of cleaning and preparing the catfish. If they were filled up, he'd wrap the cooked fish up and take it back to the barracks. He was tempted to pull off his shirt but didn't want to cause her to become flustered. It was only the bottom of it that was so he pulled it loose before adding the catfish to one of the now empty pans to cook. "Smells great, Vincent."

Indeed it would have been improper to remove his shirt in the company of a lady, so he would simply have to remain in that sticky wet cloth for now. Venturing forward closer to the fire, he flicked a long strand of wet black hair from his eyes and shook his hands free of water.

One plate to Simon, another to Thane, and yet another to Kristina in a sort of peace offering. "Water is great tonight." If it had been a few months earlier they would need to be wrapped up in towels and gotten into dry clothing.

She peeked up with that tip of her head and such a sweet smile up at Thane, "thank you for helping me," then slanting that same look and smile Simon's way, "and thank you for helping me," last but not in the least as she took the plate, "thank you for the food, it smells delicious. Are you three from around here?" Trying to strike up polite conversation to chase away the awkward feeling she was picking up upon, although not certain of its source.

"Thanks." He nodded to Vincent as he took the plate then smiled at Kristina. "You're very welcome. We're from Kildare, knights serving King Leoric and here with him while he visits his family. What of you, or are you from Ballicastle, like many of the Frasiers?" He had recognized the last name.

She sat on one of the larger stones surrounding the pit. Setting her plate off to her side after taking a taste of the fish and one small potato before taking off the short, wet, riding boots. Each she turned over to allow the water to run out and set in the pit near the coals to dry, not on them nor too close. Once that was done she stretched out her legs and wiggled her toes into the soft grass while answering Simon's question. "I stay at Falkirk in Ballicastle but I have come here to see about getting a position in the art museum. My sister use to work in the Gallery but she has moved away with her husband so I might see if they still need another to take over the position, or help in any way. Move here most likely if they do."

Thane looked over to Kristina, mildly surprised at the way she smiled and thanked him. "No trouble at all, miss," he murmured this then fell silent to allow for the conversation that  followed. A nod of thanks given to Vince when he received his plate, and Thane took up a seat on one of the logs that formed a loose ring around the campfire. Using the small knife he kept in his belt to begin slicing off bites of the delicious smelling meal. He was listening though despite his silence.

"Haven't been to Ballicastle yet but maybe if we visit again." He smiled before he started to dig in, and all the while he kept an eye on the catfish. "Are you an artist?" Well, he could keep the conversation going too, so long as he didn't talk with his mouth full.

"Yes I am, or trying to be. Can't say how well my work will be received but I'm driven." Which was usually the case for an artist, like a disease they could not shake. She also wasn't one to talk much on herself and so changed the topic. "So, you are all knights from Kildare under King Leoric, the Queen of these lands son. It is an honor. I hear Kildare is fairly wild, is this true?" Looking from each expectantly.

He started in on cooking up the catfish so it could be then wrapped and brought up, wouldn't spoil on the way. So he left the talking to his comrades for a change. All ears but the scent of cooking started up again.

"It is," he nodded agreement, glancing at his friends though he knew they agreed, "And yes, parts of Kildare are still quite wild. Some of it's unexplored and there are rumors of all types of creatures in the forests." He smiled slightly, "so it's a place one should not explore just yet."

Thane was eating, and listening, and minding his own business... as usual.

Cue the dreamy look her features took on as he spoke. There she stood in the wild forests of Kildare with strange mythical beasts all around that she was drawing already in her mind. "I hope to see it sometime," the faraway look drawing back to be quickly replaced by a sheepish one, indicating she knew she got that look about her.. been told about it before. She set to eating her fish and bits before it got cold and leaving them to do the same.

He watched her a moment then grinned before he turned to finish his meal. Quiet for a few moments while he ate, but then the others were too. Finally he sighed and stood to carry the plate to the water to clean it up. "It's safe to travel, as long as you come by coach or with an escort and stay on the main road. There are bandits but they're slowly getting under control as we get more men. Ship is safe too." If either of the frying pans were empty, he'd take care of those too.

Thane added onto Simon's words in a quiet, serious tone. "Even so, it is nowhere to visit unless you must, miss." Perhaps he sounded grim but he wanted to discourage any thoughts she might be having about taking a holiday in the forests of Kildare. He'd gotten the sense that she was imagining it already, from that look in her eye.

She looked from one to other taking both comments in even if Thane's would have her stay away, precautions man. She listened but if she got it into her head to go, then go she would. She was that kind of adventurous. "Thank you for the comments."

He was going to say more but instead he just smiled and went back to finishing his task. Sometimes it was better to say nothing rather than add more fuel to the fire. "So, what kind of artist do you do? Drawings, painting, sculpture? Or do you do them all?"

Which only made her feel like maybe she overstayed her welcome. Fidgeting some as she finished up then stood to bring her plate over to be washed at the edge of the lake before she was back. "Drawing and painting mostly. My sister sculpt, she did lot of the animals for the zoo museum. Perhaps they would like some murals done on the walls or paintings."

Indeed,Thane was thinking the same as Simon, that silence was wiser than speech. Though for a moment, he regarded Kristina with a lifted brow, then went back to his meal.

He finished up the cat fish and once it was cool enough, wrapped it up in paper to put inside the basket he had brought.

"I've seen those. They're very well done." He grinned at her. "You know where else they might appreciate murals? The orphanage. They're doing a lot of improvements to it. Princess Henna is in charge. There are a few large rooms, like the dining hall, that could use some brightening up." So, he spent time visiting those places too. They didn't know when they'd be back and he wanted to give a donation to the orphanage.

"I could get any of the children with talent, or even without, to help. Thank you Simon, that is a wonderful idea. Perhaps I will find plenty of work to carve my own path than living off the Frasier family at Falkirk." Her cheeks immediately turning a soft shade of pink as she realized she let that out.. her inner feeling of wanting to support herself exposed. Although she was getting odd vibes from Thane as she turned a glance there to catch the lifted brows. "You wish to comment on something?" Getting brave and a touch sassy.

It was all too true... Thane was looking at Kristina, with a gaze so intense he barely blinked... but she might correctly guess that he wasn't really looking at her. No, his thoughts were quite far away, for her mention of drawing and painting had reminded him of something, a memory that was still sharp along the edges. With a blink, he pulled himself from it, and shook his head, lowering his eyes away from Kristina. "No, miss, I did not mean to seem rude. I apologize."

"I thought maybe you were finding fault with me," words lowered and the touch of hurt to lace them, something in the past as she really didn't know any of the three. "I should be on my way, I hope you all stay safe in Kildare and it finds the peace and harmony these lands have." Words were sincere a she was over to collect Twilight, running a hand down his nose before swinging up into the saddle. Thane would find a pole waiting for him at the castle, figuring that would be where they would be staying in these lands.

"No, not at all, I.." and then she was saying her farewells and riding away. And, that was pretty much how it usually went for him with women. Silence reigned after her departure, uncomfortable on Thane's end at least.

"Are you returning to Ballicastle, or staying at the Thistle? If you wish, I would escort you back." As fast as she had been riding before, he doubted she'd find trouble but it was nighttime and he would make the offer.  "Or we can, if my comrades are also ready to return to the castle."

She had said her farewells and she had mounted her horse but she hadn't rode off just yet. "I will be staying at the Thistle for it would be the most convenient and not getting in anyone's way." If her sister were still here, she would stay with her even if it was at the Graveyard Manor. A grave look over Thane but then her smile burst forth, "if you are traveling up that way I would not mind the company at all." The last being her answer to Simon as he had offered.

"Do they have schools for men of our age in etiquette or the like?" Words came low by Thane that none others could hear but him. He was really struggling this time. Although he didn't struggle too much with the stain glass maker.

Part of Thane wished they did have such classes.... he had always floundered in this area. His glance flicked to Vince wryly before he took it upon himself to speak up, perhaps make amends in a small way. "We would be pleased to accompany you, I'm sure." And he had struggled some with the stained glass maker.... at least he had been tongue-tied for the few brief moments they had spoken together.

"Aye, but we have come on foot, so you should ride and I'll take the horses lead reins." They could carry on a conversation as he picked up her boots she nearly left behind. They were mostly dry in the least! All the dishes were cleaned up, the iron pot which would be left there for anyone else in need of it to cook on the pit. Basket over his arm as he was over to take the reins and lead the horse as they walked beside her. Well, he would walk in front while Simon and Thane walked beside her.

They could always sit in with the squires. He smiled and inclined his head slightly. "Then, speaking for myself and my companions, we would be honored to accompany you." He whistled for Lamorak and once again, the well trained warhorse followed behind, though he did pause occasionally to enjoy a bite of a leaf or blade of grass here and there. He was trying to not laugh at the sound of his boots making squishing noises.

Her smile warmed upon all three, "I feel like some kind of Fairy Princess being escorted by gallant knights." Fanciful but she was barefoot and all she needed was a gossamer gown. Accepting the boots she tucked them by the horn as she would need to put them on later, or perhaps not, once they reached the tavern.

After collecting his vest (still damp) and tucking it beneath his arm for the trip back. He fell into step on Kristina's left side, or the left side of her horse, more specifically. The Knight was feeling decidedly sheepish but this hardly felt the time or the place to explain himself, amongst this company. And besides... he was not the sort to explain himself ordinarily, much less to a stranger. So he would be mostly quiet for their walk back to town.



Date: 07-10-10
Poster: Karina Streetborn
Post # 35

Lazy Summer Day

Rhett sent a runner to the Avian Gardens with a note for Karina. He was done with his work early so was heading for the lake and if she had time, to come join him once her tasks were done. He needed to cool down after forging a number of swords. A break well earned as he floated on his back in the lake. The waters cooling as the sun beat down over a slick glistening chest. There was a picnic basket on the table near the sandy area, it was packed with sandwiches, cider and pie slices that Hazel obliged him with.

Karina still hadn't told Rhett in so many words that she couldn't read, little wonder she was embarrassed to admit it. So it had taken some detective work to figure out what was in the note and where Rhett had gone. Her beau would have a bit of a wait but eventually she came hastening down to the lake, a long green skirt brushing against sandal'ed feet and a crisp white short-sleeved blouse atop that. Hair bound back in a haphazard ponytail. Bounding down to the lake, she was about to call out but then saw him floating there so serenely. Mischief sparked in her eyes and she melted into the underbrush without a sound. Seconds later he'd have a small banshee pouncing him with a dive into the water, her skirt left behind in a bush to wear only that blouse and the white cotton pantaloons that had been beneath the skirt.

There was a lazy pressed smile upon his lips while Rhett drifted. Hands at his sides worked as propellers under the water as needed to keep his position and floating balance. He watched something in his mind's eye he discovered had opened up and so exploring it. Hazy as it may be there was a form, white, moving, slinking to dissolve into water with a splash, Eyes flew open to discover the reality of such an event happening. He naturally straightened to thread water for it was over his head where he'd been floating, "there you are! I'm pleased you could make it." He is wearing cut offs.

She surfaced with water streaming down her face and over loosened curls, which she pushed out of her eyes as she gave him a cheeky grin. Clearly pleased with herself for sneaking up on him. "Hallo. Sorry it took me awhile, I had to finish up some things at work." It was half a truth and she gave him a blithe smile. "This is the first time I've been swimming this year. I'm surprised how warm the water is."

A hand snaked out under the water as fingers curled around her arm to move her within his. Loosely held as he treaded water. It was a nice cooling warm compared to the air around them. "This is the first time for me too. I heard from others coming to look at swords that it was warmed up good now." Wicked bit of a grin as he went under taking her with him. Lips finding hers for a watery kiss.

Eyes widened briefly at the sudden grab and then she was comfortably in his embrace. Arms moving to loosely wrap about him in return as they floated there. It was his turn to take her by surprise with that underwater kiss, which she returned but then had to surface only a moment later, spluttering and laughing. "That's harder than it looks!" She caught her breath then quirked a brow at him. "Maybe we should try again?" No time for him to agree to the suggestion before she pulled him underwater with her, pulling his face to hers for a longer kiss.

He was up with her shaking his head as droplets flew all about them. Laughing good with her. "aye, it will take practice. So... ready..." the last word out quickly as he went under with her again, this time the kiss had a bit of tongue involved for a split second. Taking that longer kiss mutually. One could last three minutes to five at the most. He was going to hold his breath as long as he could while arms and legs entangled, dropping them naturally down with gravity but slower being in water. Once near the bottom. he used his feet to launch them up towards the surface again.. it was about eighteen feet here. Not as deep as the middle of the lake could be up to fifty or more.

Karina didn't usually venture under the water itself much, at least not enough to have great lung capacity. But with that kiss she forgot that they were underwater, losing herself in it as her tongue flicked out testing in return. Somewhere in the back of her mind she noticed they were sinking, and there was just the briefest moment of panic as eyes opened to look about the watery world around them.... but she trusted Rhett and sure enough, seconds later they were being propelled upwards and popping back up to the surface. Where she had to draw in several deep breaths to recover from the depth but they were half laughter.

He too was drawing in lusty lung fulls of air. Laughter mingled in short bursts between. "I think... that is... enough practice, ...underwater, ...for today." Although he was enjoying the moments keeping her in his arms. It was more the look in blue eyes coupled with the pressed smile that spoke more than words could. Watching her while held before finally breaking the spell as he looked beyond, shore wise, "are you hungry?"

"I think so or else my lungs might burst," she agreed with a little grin. One which faded into the expression of something deeper when she caught him looking at her like that. It was so intense it was almost too much but she couldn't look away either.... and might have just floated there looking at him goofily forever if he hadn't broken the spell. Turquoise eyes finally losing their grip on his as she glanced over to the picnic basket. "I am actually," but she made no move to remove herself from his arms, keeping herself entangled with their faces still only millimeters apart. "But this is nice too...."

He was going to try something being they were a good distance from the shore, he went floating on his back and tried to pull her up on him. That of course didn't work like he had planned and he started to sink so she ended up more at his side than atop him. Still, it was close enough as he started them floating towards shore. "I think you like the water as much as I do." More a statement as blue eyes captured turquoise.

Eyes danced as she let him maneuver her about, easy to do for her petite build, but she burst out laughing when even her small weight made him start to sink. "Otters are much better at that," she teased before settling into that sideways recline. Arms around him to hold herself close as he kicked them back to shore. "I do like the water," she agreed and then he was catching her eyes like that again. Something he was VERY good at for his gaze was like a magnet for her own. It was something of a challenge to continue conversing with that gaze, "I'm uh... not a great swimmer though since I just learned a few years ago.."

"You do well enough for not being a great swimmer. Most important thing is being able to float." Eyes were drifting about the lines of her face, stalling on her lips as for the look one could feel their touch as it had been only minutes ago. From there back to her eyes as they reached a depth he could stand. Maneuvering easily, "get on my shoulders." which he would duck enough to help her on, piggy back style, arms curling around her legs and once she was ready, to stand up straight again.

That look had the heat rising on her face, his first words barely registered though she gave a nod of agreement. His second set of words though were strange enough to have her waking with a laugh. "What?" Wondering what he was up to she smirked at him a moment then complied. Extricating herself from his embrace to clamber onto his back, then with his help, up onto his shoulders. Her slim thighs straddling his neck loosely and once he came out of the water, she leaned over to regard him upside-down, fingers on his head to brace herself. "What exactly do you have in mind hmmm?"

"You never had a piggy back ride?" Children loved them as hands formed over her shins to keep her steady then he dashed to the right, then to the left as she would have to hold on good or topple off his back. The rush was exhilarating alone but then he pretended to stumble here and there where they would both plunge.

"No-ooo aaaah!" Her reply peeling off into a sound of surprised exclamation. Her fingers wrapped tightly in his curls as if they were reins, holding for dear life but soon she was laughing amongst the yelps whenever he swerved. "You're doing that on purpose!" She accused him, grinning as the quick movements had the wind rushing against her face. "Now I know what it feels like to ride an ostrich.." She had an idea then, and reached down to put one of her hands right across his eyes to blind him... a daredevil move but she was curious how he'd react.

He started laughing when accused of doing it on purpose, for he was but the laughing had him loose his balance when his foot landed on some slippery mud coupled with the hand to go over his eyes and they both went plunging into the approximately five feet of water he had managed enough towards shore. It was like a whale surfacing and slapping its tail they hit with such a force it sent a nice size wave in the splash. She would end up going flying from his shoulders into the water but water had that kind of buoyancy to make it a soft, yet splashy wet landing.

Ooops..... she could see them launching towards the water even if he couldn't, and let out a squeal that was soon muffled by water. SPLASH they hit the water, and she paddled her way up to the surface, spluttering and laughing. "Guess that was my fault..." A wry grin as she sloshed back over towards him. "Is my ostrich alright?"

"Ostrich???" Trying hard not to laugh, "is that how you see me? Well," he was chasing her again as hands swatted and splashing at her all the way up to shore. He obviously was fine and certainly worked up an appetite at this point for his stomach growled but he was growling like a bear in chasing her.

"Well, you're tall like one," she squeaked and took off running to avoid his grabbing hands, "and you run like one!" Laughing as she swatted him right back, then wheeled suddenly to seize his hands. "Guess you're better looking than most ostriches..." that with a grin up to him, cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling vivaciously from the chase. Holding his eyes a moment as her grin stretched wider, hearing the noises from his stomach. "I've never heard any sort of bird growl like that, though.."

He as laughing as he chased her only to come up short as she turned so he didn't bowl her over. Hands grabbed had fingers curling around her wrists as he pulled her up against him. Chin dipped with mischief twinkling in blue eyes. "How many ostriches have you kissed? I would hope I am more handsome or I might have to see about hiring Faelan to bring back one just for you to kiss. I'll stand and watch of course." His stomach gave over a particularly loud rumble that had him laughing, "no excuse for it other than I am hungry and need to be fed.. soon.. immediately." Which he hauled her up, half over a shoulder as feet pounded splashing water through the wake until they were at the picnic table where he gently set her down. The smell alone would make his stomach protest again in its want.

A brief gasp at the sudden grab of her wrists, which relaxed into snickers. "Well... there was this ostrich I met in a tavern once, he had a really nice - beak." She was trying hard not to burst out laughing, but failed as she started snickering again. "Don't worry though, you have a nice beak too," that said as she reached up to grab his nose between her fingers for a tweak. Letting out a yelp when she was slung over his shoulder, but she hung there like a sack of potatoes, enjoying the ride over to the picnic table. Once set down she pushed some of those unruly wet curls from her face. "Alright, let's get you fed then. Think you can manage to feed yourself, or are you too weak?" Clearly teasing him as she gave a mock pout.

"Beak.. like one very large proboscis?" Trying very hard not to laugh. "I didn't know that was your preference in men," he had a small one, well... normal size. Rubbing it after being tweaked, "when in line for noses he thought God said roses and said I'll take a big red one." Hand snaking out as fingers tickled up her side. "I might plea too weak just to have such attention doted upon myself by yourself.." giving a wink as he opened up the basket and took out the plates. Next would be the food to distribute between them.

"A what?" Yeah, that big word sailed right over her head, but she chortled at the play of words that next came from him. Twitching a bit at the tickling and swatting his hands away once more. A roll of her eyes as he went on, "You look strong enough to me," but her smirk was wide when he winked. Karina helped him to pile the food out on their plates before taking one of them for herself. Her hair pushed back to lay over her shoulders like a curly curtain before digging in. She was wearing only soaked-through cotton pants and shift, but luckily the day was warm and the sun bright to prevent feeling chilled. The food tasted wonderful after the swim and as always, she scarfed it down like a starving pup.

He was hungry as a bear, much like the rumble of his stomach foretold. Once the food was distributed, he dug in wolfing it down at first - one could wonder if he was inhaling it - before slowing down to something more human. "We can lay out in the sun and dry off once we've our bellies full. Like beached whales.." merriment in the tone before wolfing down the rest of his sandwich only to be followed by a good long drink of the cider. And so the day continued...

Date: 07-26-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 36

Nice Day for a Picnic

Such a nice day, one of many in a row that he had his grandmother pack him a basket to take Vanessa out on a picnic. Late morning he showed up at the Avian Gardens to pick her up, having gone on foot this time so they could enjoy a walk together too. "How are all the birds doing and Karina?" Of whom he had not seen much of, even less than Van.

Vanessa walked along with him, enjoying the day and the company, with one arm linked through his. Smiling over to him, she nodded. "All are doing well. We even have some hatchlings. I may have to add a couple more flight cages." She had left Ysa with one of her friends for the afternoon for the lunch. "This is really nice. How is your family? I've heard that your cousins have returned."

"Just let me know if you do and I'll help get them erected." Which she would know that he was there for her if ever needed. In many ways. "Grandmama wishes a chance to talk with you since our engagement to get to know you better." Which had a wry smile start to tip upwards. "Make sure you're good enough for one of her boys." Adding a wink for the way said was teasing and would be such for any matriarch of a family where her own were concerned. "I think she will just like you even more." The rolling fields were loaded with flowers, butterflies and bees that they past. Rabbits hopping and chasing one another out during the day. The forests were thicker with all trees in full foliage and cooler for the shade they provided. A lot of birds forging for food to feed their young flew about. A perfect summer day. Sun was hot but there was a gentle breeze to keep it from being intolerable. Swimming would be in order. "Everyone is doing well that I know of. Conor is back from Ireland," never a dull moment when he was around either. Eventually she would learn of the situation around Eion but Segan didn't feel it was for him to speak on just yet. Maybe after Grans met Dolly. "The others are all doing well. Summer has them busy most of the time," turning down the road that would then lead them to the lake.

A nod was given to the offer of help. She knew that Segan was there for her if she needed it. Brow quirked curiously at the mention of Yaya, she blushed lightly with a soft laugh. "I have no doubt she'll give me the talk." She adored Yaya, though. She adored his whole family. The whole scene outside was nice. It felt as though it'd been ages since she'd had any time away from the Aviary. "So then it seems that your whole family is there with you now." The smile returned. "A very large family. You're quite lucky to have them all so close."

"Aye, the cousins have returned and each will be looking for their niche to fit in. I hear Liam was given part of a warehouse to turn into a boxing ring. Ciaran, I'm not sure on but I will have to see about talking with them, Eion too, help them get situated. They have not come to the manor yet, though invited for it is big enough. They are staying at the Thistle so far. I would like to meet Oisian who also goes by Fawn. I know Grans would like to meet her too and the boys as she really didn't get to meet them when they first came. I think there will be a few bigger dinners planned.." how Grandmama went about doing things.. in the breaking of bread and sharing of food. Especially where family was concern. "One day, they will be your family too." She was going to have an instant large family when she became a Quinn. The thought had a sweeping smile to come and go as they bypassed the forest area and the lake soon spread out before them. There was a pit there too now that someone dug and an iron skillet left on one of the large rocks surrounding it. Coals were still hot under some ash that had burned down. "Looks like fishing has been a favored pastime lately." Guiding her over to one of the picnic tables to set the basket there. "Seems we have this spot to ourselves presently too."

She was going to go from practically no family to a very large family. Scary in some ways, but she was still thrilled over it. "I look forward to seeing them all again. I've not seen Eion in quite some time." Though with the warmer weather came busier work schedules, which she perfectly understood. Watching the scene change from forest to the lake, she smiled brightly. "It would appear so, though it's not surprising. Fishing is most excellent this time of year from what I've heard in the square." Once they reached the table, she uncoiled her arm from around his and pulled the basket close to start drawing things out. "I'm surprised we're the only ones here on such a beautiful day."

"The lake is quite large and I'm sure others may seek more private areas to spend time together. I'm rather pleased to have this spot all to ourselves, alone with you.." his smile growing before he was pulling his shirt off over his head then laying it over the bench out of the way. Pants were cut off older ones that he planned to swim in. Sandals were slipped out of. "Shall we cool off first, enjoy the water?"

"Perhaps." A few things pulled from the basket, such as drink and mugs, she couldn't help but watch as he started removing things down to his swimwear. "Sounds perfect." Her dress unfastened, she wore bloomers and a decent under shirt, enough to swim in. The dress laid over the table, she reached up to twist blonde curls and tie them into a knot on the back of her head to keep it from being soaked.

As she stood there, hands up to fix up her hair, he was over so slide his hands about her waist and draw her close. "You are so beautiful," voice held a hoarse edge that reflected the emotion behind it. Although she might notice the wicked glint in his eyes in the next moment as he had her up into the strength of his arms, feet leaving the ground as he started in a sprint towards the water. "Ahoy mates, out o' the water with yea as we're coming in!"

Blush filled her cheeks for the compliment, she leaned up close to place a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. Barely time for that, she was scooped up in his arms, laughing. "Segan! You're going to frighten the fish!" She wrapped her arm around his neck and held on for the quick pace to the lake's water.

"We'll scare them all within a mile," holding her secure within his arms so he didn't drop her as feet met the wake and splashing all around them before he was he far enough to plunge forward. Even going down he held onto her as lips found hers for a kiss underwater that only those fish would see. Once done arms loosen so that they could both head up for needed air.

Laughter stopped as soon as they met the water and went under, shrinking against him when the cooler water met her back and soaked through the material of her top. The kiss was met and held onto until his arms loosened around her. She loosened her own hold but didn't completely let go; instead bringing him up for air with her. So much for not getting her hair soaked! Fell from the knot and was pushed back from her face, she laughed and pushed back from him. "Segan, that was completely uncalled for." She didn't really agree with her own statement. If laughter was proof, she splashed at him a little bit, swimming back away from him.

Which had him throwing his head back with laughter before drawing her close. "Now I can play with your hair," as hands sunk in to twist it about and back out of her way while he tread water. He was completely enjoying himself. "If you feel anything nibbling at your feet that means the fish are back," which he used his toes to touch at hers as if those very fish were after hers right now.

She so loved hearing him laugh like that. He didn't do it nearly often enough. "It's easier to style when its dry." Laughing with him, she wiggled her toes against the feel of his own against her feet. "I'm not sure they'd come back even after we left, after the splash you made." She reached up, pulling hair from his face and brushed it back.

"Aye, that it might be but it's easier to stick it in places it would not stay when dry." So she had a very different kind of hairdo presently but it worked, ends twisted in and around each other that would come out easy enough provided she did before it dried. He was quite content to keep her this close, arms about each other and treading water. "Perfect day for a swim, if we didn't have the basket of food I would suggest we do some fishing and fry them up in the pit right here out in the open." Best kind of eating in his book. "Maybe next time, bring some food in case we don't catch anything so we don't starve." He was probably the one with the greater appetite.

He more than likely was the one with the greater appetite, but she put away her fair share of food. She certainly didn't have a delicate appetite. "A perfect day for a picnic and a swim. Perhaps next time we can come better prepared for fishing. Even if we don't eat them here, we can have them for supper." Either or was fine with her. She was quite content to have his arms around her and hers around him. "When is your next outing on your ship?" Been a while she knew he'd gone out, of course they'd both been busy so she wasn't able to keep up with his sailing like she had the previous year.

"If you wish, there are fishing poles in the shed and a small trough to put them in as well another with minnows." He knew the kids liked coming to catch the minnows to keep the one stocked. All this while he started dancing with her in the water. Drawing her close, cheek to cheek and turning carefully around. Luckily he got to where his feet touched even if hers didn't yet.

"If you want, we can do that after our swim." Though she wasn't keen on fish, it was mostly the skinning and gutting she didn't like. Pulled in closer, she smiled when he started dancing her around in the water, which would be more his efforts than hers since she couldn't touch bottom and wouldn't risk kicking him so close as they were. "Mm...this is nice. Best day I've had in quite some time."

She got to cling to him and would feel any missteps in mud as a foot would slip. The feel they might plunge but the step and balance caught at the last moment. "One could spend hours like this, while away the day staying cool."Although they both would be having the end results of the sun which would only deepen the tan he already had. "I am hoping to bring Grans down to Ballicastle on one of my runs so she can visit a friend there," idle talk as he took them on a swirl that tipped them precariously off to the right as the terrain beneath went into a hole.

She was trusting of him that he'd not let either of them drown, so even if they dipped under the water or teetered one way or the other, she wasn't flailing about. "That would be good for Yaya. I would love to have you all for dinner at the gardens one night. Perhaps an outdoor dinner in the gardens with a roasting pit." Something she'd thought up a while back but hadn't mentioned until now.

It all became part of the dance in a way. Making it rather humorous like two hippos dancing in the water for looking clumsy. "That is making me hungry already." Making his way from deeper waters to where she could stand. "I will help you set up the pit and get the pig to be roasted." Which would need a pit to be dug to cook the pig in. "I'm sure we can find a good spot and then you'll have it for the years to come." If it went off well, then it could become a tradition or even have more of them spaced out. "Oh, had you said roasted pig?" Wondering if that was something that just filled in on what she mentioned of a roasting pit.

Once she was taken to shallower water and she could touch bottom, she loosened her hold on him with a nod. "A pig would be fine, and it might be a wonderful tradition to begin. A summer picnic for the Quinns and their other kin. It sounds like a wonderful family celebration."

"I'm sure my grandmother will want to help out with the food. Maybe get Gemma to try her hand as she actually made breakfast and didn't burn it. Of course there was the incentive having lost to Patrick Frasier and had to make him and his son breakfast. Grans even left the manor for a while to give them privacy." Which was unheard of and he still felt she managed to spy on them somehow! "If you have a brush or comb with you, I can help with your hair." Which he wouldn't mind doing at all as he started for shore. He was hungry and the growl of his stomach attested to that.

"Hm..." She thought on that for a moment as she followed up towards the shore. "No reason why everyone can't bring a dish. Such a feast it would be!" At mention of the brush, she looked at the ends of her hair and shook her head. "I didn't bring a brush or comb. I hadn't thought I'd have the need for it." Her hair wasn't going to fall out from tangles. She'd deal with it later. She too was hungry though. Haste ahead to get to the basket first, to start pulling things out and setting up the table.

"Aye, and a diversity of food for all to try. Also makes it easier to have such celebrations and not take the toll nor burden on any one person." A helping hand make the work go easier and celebrations, although work was put into them, should not be considered 'work'. "Then I shall do me best with some finger combing." Guiding her to the bench for her to take a seat and once she was situated he would stand behind her and carefully set to work, running his fingers through and pausing to ease any knots out. "After all, I do believe this is my fault." He had taken her by surprise and more, submerged her with him. Which also had him stalling her haste to empty the basket, just yet.

"I think a pot luck would be fantastic." She smiled, slipping down onto the bench when guided, snickering quietly. "Yes, it is your fault I have tangles." Not really. She'd have ended up the tangles regardless. Curse of having curly hair. There were always tangles. But she wouldn't pass up a chance to have him playing with her hair. "Shall I return the favor when you're done?" She smiled, tipping her head back to look at him upside down.

"You wont have me fighting you off," humorously as he not only worked gently in getting the tangles out but worked his fingers over her scalp in a massage. He liked the feel of her hair, he liked what he was doing too, enough that even the hunger could wait. It wasn't like he was starving. So a good ten minutes more would pass before he was done. "Did Grans pack her chicken strips sauteed up in a fine crust so you can hold them with your fingers?" Moist and tasty, one of his favorites as he slid into the spot next to her.

She relaxed against his touch with her eyes and closed and enjoyed every moment of having his fingers through her hair. When he was done, she opened her eyes slowly and sighed with a relaxed tone. "I'm not sure. I didn't get that far." She'd pulled some things out of the basket, but not everything. She debated combing her fingers through his hair now or after eating, and decided on doing it after they ate for reasons of her own. So she went back to the basket to pull things out and lay them on the table. "Yes, she did." The strips set out within easy reach of them both.

There was a small container with homemade sweet and sour sauce and one of a tangy tomato base, barbecue. He was already digging in and dipping in the various sauces for that added flavor. "She knows my favorite and I hope you like them too." There were some devil eggs and a creamy cole slaw that was more sweet than some that were sour tasting. A variety of cookies of which there was chipped chocolate type in abundance. Segan became quiet as he set to eating, only sounds were mmmmm.. hmmm and mm mmm mmm as he ate.

"I'm sure I will." Once everything was laid out, she went about picking up some of this and that for herself and filled their mugs with what was available to drink. Then it was time to eat. She was definitely ready to silence her stomach! Plenty of Mmm sounds from her as well. She always enjoyed Yaya's cooking and sweets.

Sweet apple cider was the complimentary beverage and Segan drank heartily for he had a thirst along with his hunger. Once done he set to packing anything not being used back into the basket while eating one of the cookies. He obviously liked the smaller treats over cakes but he did like his pies too. "We should do this at least once a week when I'm not off delivering goods to sister castles." An idle thought but one worth voicing.

She finished all but a few sweets, which she'd saved for last and was not nibbling on. She looked at him and nodded. "That we should. We can plan them for when you're not away. Maybe sometime we should invite Karina and Rhett."

"That's a good idea being they are a part of our lives and we of theirs now." So the conversation continued as well the day wore on until they packed up and headed home. Certainly a nice day to remember. Especially the after lunch head and hair massage.



Date: 09-16-10
Poster: Shaun Shawnesey
Post # 37

Time at the Lake

This was one of Shaun's favorite places to come in solitude at the setting of the sun. He was taking steps he had not before and it was a new frontier for him. He had hoped his older, much more experienced, brother could help him in the ways of women. That was not to be as per the conversion the other evening. Douglas was a shy soul and it would be for Shaun to help his brother out. He felt like the blind leading the blind as he stood with his eyes closed on a ledge over the water down from where most went swimming. It was at an angle to be obscured from view too unless one was out swimming. He could feel the heat from the setting sun, knew it blared red for the reddish hue behind his eyelids. Raising his hands slowly at his sides in an upward sweep, he probably looked like one from old giving worship to the sun god at eve.

Doug was not as shy as his brother was assuming. He was just very private about what he knew and didn't, especially in the Thistle where Alex heard everything, even if the tender seemed to not be paying attention. He had been avoiding the Thistle, at least for a day or two, after the business with the two lasses the other night. Of course, there had been work at the warehouse but after going home to eat, he decided to walk. And now that the restless energy
was gone, he decided to go to the lake and just enjoy the evening until it was time to head back to the manor.

Perhaps he heard something, perhaps he just felt a presence or that unknown part of the brain that him turning from the jutting ledge to hope down to safer grounding. He picked his way down and around to public area. A shirt thrown over a shoulder as his skin sported more bronzing from the sun. He had been here for awhile. He caught sight of one on their way down, a familiar form as he was over to get his pole. "Have you eaten yet," called up his way as he checked his line.

Somehow he wasn't surprised to hear Shaun's voice and he just smiled to himself. It would happen like that - Shaun turning up at different places - at least until he headed back to the cabin, if that's what he was planning. "Not yet. How have they been biting today?" He settled on one of the logs as he watched Shaun in the fading light.

He gave an upnod to the holding tank which was a horse's trough that was not needed, filled with water and had five good size fish swimming around. Three large mouth bass and two pickerel. "I'm going to cast a few more times before I put the pole away and start cooking those," which meant gutting them first, "unless you want to start?" Meant they could both eat sooner.

"Aye, I can start." He headed over to where the fish were and managed to grab one. "So, have you come to any decisions yet?" He knew Shaun was doing some thinking and it might be too soon for anything but you never knew.

The girls of the Avian Gardens had decided that the afternoon was far too warm and the sunset far too beautiful, to be spent mucking out bird cages. It was Karina's idea to head down to the lake but Vanessa wasn't hard to convince, nor was Ysa! So the three of them were out on a nice stroll towards the lake, the sky a riot of purples and golds and blush reds above. Karina had changed into a light sundress, a pale orange color only a little loose on her slender frame. A straw hat covered her mass of amber curls but her sandals dangled from one hand; she liked walking barefoot in the grass. "Would you look at that sky?" She whistled in appreciation of the sunset.

"Not so far other than learning skills as a warrior, become a squire to one of the knights." Which had a pressed smile more in a smirk as he looked over Douglas' way while he baited the hook. "Least I can get a good sword at a good price from Rhett." Being his brother had told him if he ever needed a good sword to come to him.. or else. Anything else went to the waste side as he caught two beauties heading their way. Only indication was a slight upnod to his brother there were incoming.

Three beauties, thank you very much! Don't forget Ysa!

For an afternoon out, Vanessa rarely needed convincing. Especially knowing that cold weather was just around the corner. Dressed in an off white dress with a matching sun hat, her walk was far slower than it normally would have been. Now that they were on soft ground, Ysa was walking front of her. Not without assistance, she had a hand wrapped around fingers of each of Vanessa's hands, babbling on in words that mostly didn't make sense. Now and then there was "Tree" or "Grass" or "Bird" in there, depending on what she was looking at. Van looked up and smiled. "It is beautiful. I'm going to miss these evenings when the winter comes."

Doug squinted in the direction of the path. "Ah, that's Vanessa and Karina. Vanessa is engaged to Segan Quinn and Karina is Rhett's lass." He had looked up from the mess he was working on briefly then paid attention to what he was doing so he didn't lose a finger.

"Ach, don't remind me of winter!" Her least favorite time of year. "I'm gonna just pretend it's not coming for as long as I can." She maintained a slow rambling pace to match Ysa's short steps, and snickered some at the babbling. "I can't believe how many words she knows now." Then, "Wait a sec..." she shaded her eyes to look ahead, noticing a couple of men already by the lake. Were they who she thought they were?

They had talked about that, Rhett's lass, as he stared from one to the other while moving closer to Doug a moment, "which is which?"

Ysa went walking on, looking around. Her walk was really funny. More like a waddle. Van looked ahead to the two men, but from the distance didn't recognize either of them. "Who is it?"

"The one with blonde hair is Vanessa. The other is Karina." He looked at Shaun and grinned. "No flirting there, bucko."

He could flirt with Ysa! Bet she'd giggle and laugh.

"Aye, or Rhett will embed one of his swords in me. She sure is a looker." Curiosity having had the better of him for a while to get a look at Rhett's girl. Of course he knew about her, not that much was ever said by Rhett.

"Rhett's brothers." She was looking a little reluctant to approach now. She'd met Douglas only in passing and Shaun never, but recognized both immediately. She'd never made it a point to meet Rhett's family. Not that she thought any thing bad about them. She just always wondered in the back of her mind if they thought her unworthy of their Rhett. Deep breath, she was a true and successful citizen now, she told herself, with her own cottage and everything. The brim of her straw hat was floppy and she pushed it up on her brow as they came upon the pair. "Heya.. hey Douglas, and I haven't met you before," this said to Shaun, "But I'm Karina." Lopsided grin flashed.

Ysa was scooped and tossed up to be caught, getting a fit of laughter from her, then handed over to Karina to hold incase she got the fidgets or something. Had she met either of them? She couldn't quite remember. "Good afternoon, Gents."

Yay, something to do with her hands! She took hold of Ysa gratefully, turning her face to nuzzle Ysa's cheeks briefly to get her to giggle.

"Hello Karina. This is Shaun." He pointed with the knife then he smiled at Vanessa. "I'm Douglas." He hadn't met her but he had seen her.

"A pleasure to meet you both." She smiled back. "I'm Vanessa, and this is Ysa." Motioning to the little one who no longer had dark hair, but was on its way to lightening to be blonde, still with big blue eyes.

Pressed smile was back as blue eyes soaked in his brother's girl. He could look! "I'm Shaun, no we haven't met but I've heard about you being your with me brother Rhett and all." Cutting it off there before he tripped over his words more. Shifting his focus to the other was far safer, "hello," and his smile didn't falter a bit.

"Nice to see you again Douglas, and nice to meetcha, Shaun." Whose words had her flushing a bit pink! What exactly had they heard, she wondered? Not sure what to make of that she just snickered some, and bounced Ysa on her hip. One arm held the infant safe there while the other pushed her hat back off her head, baring her ringlets to catch the last rays of sunset. She was eyeing Shaun for a second too, only because he looked so much like Rhett! Even had the same smile! Spooky.

Ooooh...Vanessa was curious now. She looked at Shaun, interest peaked a bit. "Really? All good things you've heard, I hope. Karina's a gem." She smiled brightly to Karina and swept her and Ysa off to go sit at the picnic table.

"Nice to meet you Vanessa," not repeating anything his brother had said as if they had been talking about them. "Do you like fish?" Stealing a glance back to Karina before catching himself with straightening up of his spine. Pole in hand had a nice big fat worm dangling from it.

He had finished preparing the fish and was started to cook them, fry pan from the shed used.

"Uh, sure, I like fish just fine - " and then she was whisked away by Vanessa! Sheepish smirk cast over her shoulder before she leaned close to Van to walk. "A gem?" She repeated her friend's words dubiously, with a little grin. "He looks a lot like Rhett doesn't he?"

"Aye, all good things and sure is as pretty as I heard," this to Vanessa as she swept away the one and he was around and down to the shore to cast out his line before his mouth got him in trouble.

"Fish are good." She smiled to Shaun before looking to Karina. "My gem." She smiled and nodded. "He does look a lot like Rhett." Spoken quietly as she lowered onto the bench. Back to Shaun she nodded. "Good. Then it's all true."

What, were they playing a game of Let's-see-how-red-we-can-get-Karina?? She didn't like all this chatter about her supposed beauty one bit, and hunkered down on the bench to turn focus to Ysa.

He just snickered and kept his mouth shut. "Got the first batch cooking, Shaun." He sat on a log so he could keep an eye on the fish. "Bring anything else, Rhett?"

Poor Karina. The gem comment wasn't so much about her looks, just her as a person in general. Van adored her.

"Ysa, can you say My aunt is silly?"

Doug was calling him Rhett? Had him take a double take to see if Rhett had shown up. "Nah, there is potcheen up in the shed along with a few jugs of cider."

"Karina is silly." Parroted playfully.

She gave Van a wry smirk, then glanced back to the Shawnesey lads as they cooked and fished, respectively. She couldn't help her curiosity towards Rhett's siblings; he had a big family and she'd never really met any of them. It was fascinating in a way, a glimpse into his background and another part of himself.

Ysa was very much a worm in hot ashes and at the stage where she wanted to wiggle and move around. A lot. Good luck keeping her on your lap anymore unless she was tired. "You adore it." Van smiled to Karina and then turned her attention to the brothers, this being her first time meeting them, herself.

Family - those he fought with and for. Next Shaun was bringing in another good size bass. Fine cooking here as he was into the water's edge, then further with the fight the one was giving. Next he was waist deep before he was pulled under.

Ysa was a-squirming and a-wiggling. Karina couldn't wrestle the infant into sitting still much longer, and laughed when Ysa took it upon herself to start clambering off the bench. "Can I take her out to wade at the edge? I bet she'd like that."  Blink, wait, where did Shaun go?

Yup, she was a wiggle worm! Van looked over to Karina and nodded. "Sure, we'll all go to the water's edge." She kicked her sandals off and scooped Ysa up to take off her shoes and socks and roll her pant legs up.

That's what happened when you had a big family.  He just laughed it off but then... What the... ? He hadn't expected the fish to be that big. He was up and kicking off his boots and he headed for the water. "Someone watch the fish, please." Yelled before he was diving in where Shaun had disappeared.

Shaun was as stubborn as they come and didn't give up easily on anything. He soon broke water with a shake of his head that sent a spray all around. Smile was as huge as the fish he was holding by a gill. Probably three feet of good cooking as the small beast flapped and squirmed but Shaun's hold was solid. Pole in his other hand with the hook still in the lip of the lake monster. It wasn't ole one eye but probably a cousin.

A glance to Douglas, a glance to the fish, then to Vanessa. "You better watch the fish or I'll mess it up." Her lack of culinary skills were famous or was that infamous? She took a step towards the lake but then stopped when Shaun resurfaced. Phew! "Nice catch," she hollered out as she eyed the beast of a fish in Shaun's hand.

Van saw that and was up off the bench to watch, bringing Ysa with her. "What happened?" Looking over to Karina then back to the water with a tilt of her head. Just to see Shaun coming up. Shaking her head some, she smirked and went over to make sure the fish didn't burn.

Shaun had him laughing then he let out a low whistle. "Niiiiiiice, little brother. I don't think you'll need to do much more fishing now." He clapped a hand to Shaun's back but not too hard. Didn't want him to lose his prize.

"Aye, I'm done," that smile wasn't going away anytime soon. "Ready to clean this monster while put the pole and such away." Which he would come back with a bottle of potcheen too. Blue eyes seemed bluer still as he glanced between Karina and Vanessa before he was down to lightly brace a knee against the fish while he worked out the hook. Once done he was on his way with the equipment to the shed.

"Aye, ready and thank you, Vanessa for watching the fish for me." She could stay there if she wanted as he was going to gut and fillet the fish.

"Shaun caught himself a whopper." She answered Vanessa first before smirking towards Shaun, who seemed pleased with himself... and rightfully so! Now it was time to take Ysa wading. She went over to take the toddler by the hand, to lead her with those slow waddling steps over towards the lake. It was a huge body of water for such a little kid and Karina went really slow, speaking encouragingly down to Ysa all the way, in case she got frightened. Her free hand hitched her skirts up about to her knees as the water gently lapped against her toes.

"Sure, I'll watch the fish. You can clean that up." She smiled and handed Ysa off to Karina. Ysa loved the water too much to be afraid. Two things were certain when it came to that child. One, she'd never be afraid of birds. Two, she'd never be afraid of water. The instant her feet touched the water, most all her weight was going into holding onto Karina so she could hang there freely to splash and kick her feet.

Karina tucked the ends of her dress up into the belt at her waist, so she could have the other free for Ysa too. She held the toddler up by both hands, suspending her just an inch or so above the water and swinging her gently like a pendulum. A pendulum which giggled uncontrollably. "Wheee...." Karina was laughing too.

Vanessa watched from where she was with a bright smile to Karina and Ysa's antics. How fortunate she was to have such a good friend and wonderful fiance that accepted the babe so warmly. Of course she was keeping an eye on the fish as well, turning it when need be.

Shaun finally emerged from the shed, all spruced up. He found the means to wash up all the worm gunk from his hands and nails. Hair looked neater too as he made his way down to the fire pit, jug of cider in one hand and a bottle of potcheen in the other. A few cups were pressed against his side he carried the jug. The bottle of the pure was offered to Doug first before he was removing the cups from the press of arm against his side.

"Thanks." He was always ready for a bit of the pure. "How's the fish coming, Vanessa?" He nearly had the other ready for the fire.

"I think it's ready. Is there a plate to put them on?" Ysa had figured out that, while being swung, if she kicked her feet up high enough, she could get some of that splash up at Karina. Which had her laughing hysterically because it came raining down on her as well.

There were tin plates on the stone wall of the pit. "There are some here." Which he set the rest of the things down he hauled here to get them and bring them over. This close Vanessa might notice he had freckles on his face, especially across the bridge of his nose and cheeks.

"Tick, tock. Tick, tock - ACK!" She'd been swinging Ysa like a clock but then the infant started splashing water up! "You are way too smart for your own good, lil girl," she smirked down at the toddler. Suddenly swooping her up into the air to stop all that splashing! Though Ysa loved that too. Karina pulled her in close a moment, smooching her on the nose and then carefully set her down again. This time she knelt beside Ysa, holding the infant with one arm and splashing lightly with her fingertips. "See, little splashes."

Well, someone would find the plates. Van noticed the freckles and smiled. "Freckle face." Meant without offense. Ysa laughed when tossed up, grabbing onto Karina when she came back down. Little splashes? Yeeeah. Right! Since Karina had such a good hold on her, she started splashing again. This time stomping into the water quickly with both feet. Of course, there was no balance, she might fall, but she was having a heck of a time splashing!

Which had the coloring start up his neck as she drew attention to those freckles. Something he didn't think was very manly and he was a man now. He had hoped to get a tan that would have connected them all together. There was only a press of a smile before he was back over to where Douglas was, took the bottle for a good drink then lowered it back to him, "excuse me," was all that was said before he headed into the woods.


Yikes! It wouldn't do to have Ysa falling in face first, even though they were in shallow water. The toddler escaped Karina's grip in her pursuit of splashing, and Karina had to lunge after her to grab hold before she fell. Of course... that meant it was Karina who was now unbalanced. Splash! She tumbled into an awkwardly seated position there, at the edge of the lake, Ysa in one arm remaining practically dry. Karina got the distinct impression that Ysa was laughing at her, but that was alright, she was laughing too as she sloshed to her feet. Belly laughter that seemed big for her petite frame.

I'm willing to bet Ysa did it on purpose! Of course she was laughing. Vanessa was laughing too as she scooped fish up out of the pan to put on one of the plates. "Karina! You're only supposed to wade in the water!"

It wasn't too long before Shaun was back and heading for the food as well the potcheen. "Want to head over to Rhett's later and help me pick out a sword?" Words in a comfortable low tone as he helped to season the steaks the huge fish made.

"Sure, I can do that." He was off to wash up the mess after tossing the remains away into the brush. He'd be proud to help Shaun with that, though it would be more like suggestions. Shaun would have to find the right one.

"Tell that to your little brat!" She called back, grinning as she swept Ysa up safely away from the water. Now her skirts weren't just messily tucked into her belt, they were sopping wet.... and so was her rear end! Oh well, it was warm out. Bare feet slugged free from the water and the sand until she could walk across the grass towards the gathered group.

Van loaded the one plate with the filets that were finished and took them over to the table with a smile to Shaun. "A sword? Are you a knight?" She looked to Karina and laughed. "Don't blame me. You're the mischievous one."

"Actually... " He picked up a plate with some fish to take with him. "I'm going to head back to the warehouse for a bit. Come for me there."

Shaun took one look between the girls and his brother, got his plate the bottle of potcheen, "hey, wait up." Glancing back. "Nice to meet you both, see you around soon," and to Vanessa, "not yet." Then he was on the run to catch up with Douglas.



Date: 01-15-11
Poster: Tykir Riktafir
Post # 38

Ice Skating

Torch light on the snow and ice spread a warm glow over the pond not unlike the very name of it.  Tykir sat at one of the benches, bent over his knees to lace his skates up.  He'd been looking forward to this all day and at last the day was over, and the hour had come.

Since he had began training, Kynan was finding he took very little time to enjoy himself.  So, after the training, chores and various other duties were completed, he grabbed his skates and headed for the lake.  There was a familiar figure sitting on the bench, and he grinned to himself as he headed for the prince.  "Evenin' Tykir.  See you had the same idea for the night."  Snow crunched beneath his feet as he made his way to join the prince.

Tykir turned his head to look at Kynan, even though his fingers never stopped working.  "So it seems.  Enough of the field and polishing and mending and pounding out dents."  He smiled, finishing off that double knot.  It was the perfect night for skating, not only were the lamps lit, but the moon cast a bright light over the area as well.

"Aye, I don't want to even think of that until tomorrow morning, when it's time to get up again." He didn't mind getting up at dawn most of the time.   He sat near Tykir and pulled off his boots, pulled on his own skates and started working on the laces.

Trevet was a little behind Kynan as he finished up the project he was working on, locked up the store then headed for the lake. A pair of racing skates over a shoulder as he tried to recall the last time he skated. Reaching the lake he caught sight of his brother and friend as well as he gave a wave then headed their way. A bench used to sit while he exchanged his boots for the skates. "How've you been Ty?"

Tykir stood as Trevet joined them. "Doing well enough not to complain, Trev. Haven't seen you around much. The store keeping you busy I take it?" He stepped out onto the ice.

"He's having to take care of most of what I did too." Kynan admitted, his tone showing that bothered him. "Since training and the other work takes up so much time. Though I have been trying to get to the shop at least for a few hours every day." And going home, and then collapsing back into his bed at the barracks.

"Aye, it certainly has," as he finished up lacing the skates and stood. Just like riding a bike.. Right. He was wobbly with the first few steps. "Kynan is going to serve the crown soon, warrior in his blood like Ruarc and Mikhail." At least those two but most of them had some warrior blood as bestowed down the MacKay clan. Trevet, was more on the mystic side of things, recorder and information hidden away in his head for the right time when it was needed. He wasn't really aware of it other than dreams of strange things, reflections of things inside the hollow hills of Eire.

"No talk of work tonight then, My Friends." Tykir laughed, kicking off to glide across the edge of the frozen lake.

"And Aedan." Who had also worked on teaching, once they were reunited again. He grinned at Tykir, then was up to see how rusty he was. It only took a moment before he was gliding across the lake. ""No more talk of work." He looked upward a moment. "I'm glad you decided to shine tonight, Mistress Moon."

Tykir was skimming on past Kynan as he made mention of the moon, and the dark prince looked up to take notice of her too. A spin and he skated backwards a moment, snapping off a salute to Bella Luna.

"Sounds good to me," taking out a flask containing potcheen as he took a swig before capping it again. He needed that after a long hard day. He followed brother and friend out onto the slick ice as he went scooting straight across. It had been a long time as arms were in a windmill at first until he caught his balance and started to 'remember' quickly from there.

He laughed as he watched Trevet then let out a whoot. "Now you can get some exercise, Treve." Teasing of course. He looked at Tykir thoughtfully a moment. "Can you use your wings to pick up speed?" So long as the dark prince didn't get hurt. That might put a damper on a few things. After he asked the question, he was shooting across the ice, testing how fast he could go himself and hopefully be able to stop.

He and Rina raced on the ice in that way, performing all sorts of daring lifts, flips and excessive speeds in the past. He laughed with the question, the dark expanse of wings snapping out to add the force of air to his speed, coming up behind Kynan with the flat of his hands on his friend's shoulders and propelling him forward as well with the assistance of wings. That done, the wings folded back in and he spun away, darting off to the side and away from the brothers.

He was starting to pick up speed and so his first turn might have them wondering if he would end up in the embankment but he didn't. As the minutes ticked by his strokes were getting smoother and once he felt comfortable he started skating backwards, a little awkward at first but there too as each stroke of skate blade against ice, he was remembering and they smoothed out.

Kynan was certainly NOT expecting that and his arms went out to the side, eyes wide. He was laughing though, even when Tykir let go. With the length of the lake, he managed to slow down but it would take him a few minutes to get back to where his friend and brother were. "That's amazing!" He yelled it loud enough that it echoed!

"Whooo!" Tykir added his own echo to the shout into the moonfilled silence of the night.

He was whooping and hollering as he stopped to watch. "Hey Ky, you can fly!" Close as he was going to get.

"I'll be back there in a minute!" He was laughing at all the echoes as he built up speed again. Certainly not in the way Tykir had but it didn't take as long as he thought. "That's unbelievable." Yeah, in a bit of awe of his friend. Trevet was right ... that would be the closest he'd get to flying.

Tykir started in a wide circle around Trevet as Kynan made his way back to them. "I'd never say it to her face, but Rina is the fastest on the ice." Tykir might outfly her in the air, but his sister could flat out zippity-zoom on the lake's frozen surface. "This is the closest to flying anyone can get..." He chuckled. "Unless they can fly."

"It's too bad one can't grow wings!" as he passed by an embankment of snow and scooped up some snow which he formed into a ball to wing at Ty and then another at Ky as he skated just far enough away from them to hit.. or at least try. They both hit!

"I think I'm a wee bit jealous, Tykir." He would have said more but he got smacked in the face and was sputtering and trying to clear his eyes. "Treve!" Sputter! "Bad form!" He'd be after his brother in a minute or two.

And wasn't it just Tykir's luck that he had looked right at Trev just as he whizzed that snowball his way. The force of it actually caused his head to snap back, and he stumbled a few paces, all too easy to go down on the ice!

Well, he would never aim for the face! So Ky must have turned into the flying snowball!

He was laughing, not close enough to scoop up any snow to retaliate, but the time would come, oh, sure as shootin-snail-salt the time would come!

Ah oh! "Hey, didn't mean to hit either of you in the face, seems your kissers wanted some snow tonight!" He was skating backwards then around as it was an all out race. Unfortunately he hit a bump in the ice and it sent him flying, then skidding full body in a sprawled out way.

Eyes were cleared just in time to see Trevet sprawl to the ice, and he pointed and laughed. "Ha!" He skated over to his fallen brother and instead of trying to help him up, made like he was going to sit on him and keep him right there. At the same time, he was wiping the snow off himself so it fell on Treve.

That's when he rolled, "you big fat oaf!" which would have Ky on his arse next as he was up. Snow on him was flicked at his brother again. Like Ky was fat, more like a feather weight without wings.

Up his nose, clotted to his cheek, even in his mouth since he was smiling. He just ate what was in his mouth and scraped the snow off his face, digging in his ear at that same time. He could only laugh at the brothers, that is, after he was sure Trevet appeared to be okay.

He hadn't quite sat! Only had been acting like it. Snorting out a laugh, he moved away from Trevet and over to Tykir. "You look like a snowman, kind of, he was going to do!" He grinned and took off skating again. He had come here to skate and that's what he did.

Dang but Tykir missed his sister, everyday he realized it more and more. Though the castle teemed with family, people, just wasn't the same without Rina.

Which gave Trevet an idea, to make a snowman, or snowman out on the lake. So he was gathering up snow to roll while on skates and after a while it was getting pretty big.

"Oh yea?" That sounded almost like a five year old and as soon as he heard it out of his own mouth, he started laughing. "It takes one to know one!" He called out to the skating brother, adding to his previous statement to finish his pre-adolescent comment.

They all sounded like that at times! Probably even adults did it. He laughed, knowing he couldn't disagree but yelled out, "Nyaaah." Then he joined Trevet if he needed help in pushing that snowball. Skating and building a snowman might get interesting.

The bottom was up to his waist by the time Ky came to help so he started up a top section which would not be quite as big. The snow was wet enough to pack easily and once the small ball started growing, it got large fast.

Tykir skidded to a halt out on the ice. When did that man come to be standing at the edge of the pond, that man Tykir recognized from the castle. He stood still on the pond and lifted his shoulders and hands in the silent 'what' gesture and to that, he got the same silence and another gesture with a wave of hand for the prince to come on. Tykir's brows lifted as the silent communication continued with a nod from the dark prince. "Catch you two later!" He called to his friends, adding a wave of goodbye. He was quick to skate over to the bench and changing back into his boots. A messenger wouldn't be sent out looking for him unless there was a darn good reason. Darn good reasons usually were not all that good after all.

So when they finished up putting on the head too. Trev added two good snowballs to the top section making it female. Head had no features as of yet. It wasn't like he carried any coal or a carrot to add.
  "Hey, I'll head up with you." They would part once he reached the Thistle to get something to eat finally or at least warm to put in his stomach. So he and Ky were over to get off their skates and head up with the prince.


Date: 01-16-11
Poster: Anthea Drakos
Post # 39

The lake was frozen, but the beauty sparkled as the depths of her gaze.  The snow was thick, and she could still see the sleigh path that had been made two nights prior.  How gorgeous was the cold, how much she loved it. "Poseidon" She whispered softly to the rain that was snow, and frozen water.  Spoken to the God of all things water related.."Guide me."  Anthea sat with comfort on a fallen tree.  Silver hues to view the horizon within the skies.  The trees swayed against the soft breeze, but the daughter of Greece was not effected by the chill, it was like second nature for her to be in it.

The cool air on his cheeks while he marched his way through the thickness of the snow beneath his feet- at times knee level. His intentions were to reach the lake before darkness to capture the setting sun over the tree line and the rise of the moon to glimmer on the frozen surface. The journey seemed longer then ever, the thickness of the snow slowing his pace. Now thinking that the time is against him, looking around for bark to use as snow shoes to slide and move across the puffy surface.  The effort to trudge through the snow causing perspiration, and not wanting to be caught in a area not known, Achaz quickly fabricated snow shoes and began the trek to the lake.

Silver hues, in their exploration of the area, caught sight of?  No it couldn't be, they were home already?  "Achaz?!" she called out thru the winter's breeze.  She had only found her brothers, and felt fear even when a short trip was needed.

While trudging his way, be the wind or a voice he wasn't quite sure since he thought he was alone.  Stopping he looked around to see if he was alone. Achaz knew there was none to the front, so he began to scan the area, not wanting to give away his position, just in case there was none near.  He slowly took a knee while scanning. Unfortunately there was a tree to his side that prevented visual between Achaz and Anthea.

The smaller Greek would fix that. She jumped from the fallen tree that had been her comfort, and ran quickly thru the deep snow. Achaz, she knew, was weary of all due to their father and his evil, but he had nothing to fear on these lands.  Lands that were protected by the power of the crown.  "Achaz!"  Sable colored hair fluttered about her body like wings, with her petite form to speed up.  She had missed him, so very much.

Just as he was about to take to a full stand, the familiar voice seemed to dance within the slight breeze blowing through the bare branches of the trees surrounding the area. Quirking his brow as he leaned back slightly to view to the rear of the tree to his left, he seen Anthea, thinking to himself - by Zeus! - "Anthea?" His voice loud enough to be heard only within the distance between them "C'est vrai.. C'est toi?"

No sooner had the french escaped his lips, then she was flying into his arms.  He was her guardian angel, the man that had saved her so long ago.  He was the man that had saved Erastos, he was her hero.  "Your home!"

"Anthea, you are out here alone?" Returning the hug and swinging her around in one complete circle before letting her feet rest on the snow. "Yes, I have returned. I am surprised to see you out here."

She yelped like a mouse as his strength brought her to twirl about. The smile to illuminate features, and she to lean upon tip toes to kiss his jaw line.."I am fine, Achaz I promise... no need to worry about me here, no evil can touch me.. not even him.." She shivered with thoughts of their biological father Yusef.  "The trip was safe?  Erastos has returned with you?" She took his hand and pulled him with a smile. "Come sit?"

"Yes, the trip was very good. I am not sure about Erastos, we separated in midst of the return trip. He said he had some matters to attend to and would return here in two days time." As she went to pull him, he held his ground- not budging. "We go near the edge of the lake, the sun is close to setting and I would like to capture the sight and prepare for the night of catching fish."

"Achaz.. the lake is completely froze over, and many use it to skate.. " Then a tilt of her brow.."You are angry due to me being out alone, oui?" Softly spoken as she turned to face him with head tilted back to view his features.

"Angry?" Shaking his head slightly "I wouldn't say angry, just a bit off guard." Glancing towards the lake and then back down to meet her own gaze "Frozen over? Hmmm, mayhaps find a small stream to take fish. Where do you prefer to take a seat?"

"Achaz.. I know we have only met, and it has been years since you saved me from him.. but please trust me, I am fine, I will always be fine.." She was delighted to have a brother, and one that cared so much.  Slender arms circled about his larger frame and held him close.  "Your my brother.." softly spoken and still in awe that this man could be her hero from so long ago.  "I don't know where to fish, but to sit.." She smiled and pointed to the area where the fallen tree lay.

Glancing in the direction that her slender digit pointed, a slow nod given listening to her words. "I will find a place to take fish, no worries there." Holding his hand out to the side, palm skyward, pointing in the same direction she motioned too. "If you say you are fine, I will take the words. For now, lead the way to rest the legs." A chuckle followed his words.

"When you were in Spain, did you find out when the others are to come?" Of course she spoke of her other two brothers she had not met yet, as well as their baby sister.  "Oh, and will send a missive to the Crown, we will need a larger home.. with you, I, Erastos, and Jeremy, the cottage is busting at the seams.. ne, yes?" Wink and then she was moving to the fallen log, quickly to take a seat as the breeze from the frozen lake could be felt.

"I am not really sure when the others shall arrive. Their affairs that they have at the moment kept them from joining the return trip with me." A slight cant of the head given. "But, I am sure that they will eventually make their way here. Just a matter of time. Patience is virtue." Following her lead, then brushing snow from the area that would soon be taken as a seat on the fallen tree. "Merci, but I think a small cottage out here would be sufficient for
 myself, if that could be arranged?"

"I am just excited, Achaz.  You have known them your whole life, I have only just received a family" Warm smile brightened her features, looking to her oldest brother.  It was amazing, and still a lot to take in. "We could find a large home and keep the cottage I have now.. for privacy when needed.  Please don't move away, I have only just found you." Perhaps it was silly, but with the evil, the danger that surrounded them all, she wanted to keep them close at hand.  "You are like the god you believe in.. you know that.. Zeus.. a leader, and intimidating." Grin.
 "That would be sufficient. I am sure I would be able to adapt." The same chuckle escaped his lips while the cold air captured his warm breath. "They shall soon arrive. I believe I will be taking a trip to escort them here in a short while. Then you can rest and not worry the mind." A wink and a smile was then given.

She leaned against his shoulder, patting his leg with sisterly love as a squirrel attempted to scoot across the lake.  Poor animal, he was slipping and sliding, and gaining no ground. "Yusef is a very evil man, one that has made a deal with Hades.. I cannot help but worry.." And it had been Achaz that told her all this when he first arrived at the Heathfield port.  "But on to better news, ne.. yes?"

With a wave of his hand, while glancing to the furry creature attempting to make its way across the ice. "Worry not about the past, but only for the present and future. We cannot change what has been done, only learn and deviate from it." Laughing as he watched the furry creature run in place not able to get traction on the ice. "Good thing serpents don't like the cold, but look out from above because the birds of prey take to the air all the time."

"But Achaz, he will not stop.  He wishes the helmet, and .. "Well he was right.  For now she knew they should not worry, Yusef had not shown his face and perhaps he never will. She felt safe on these lands, safer then she had since the hanging of her tutor. "Poor thing, can you help him brother, so he is not eaten by the birds?" Pleading.

Hearing her plea, he lowered his head and growled slightly. "Because you asked, the creature will be fine." Reaching down to his front and rubbing the back of his ankle to give the creature better footing and power for moving across the ice to gain freedom. "Perhaps he will not stop, but neither shall we. There are some things that need work around, an obstacle to say the least. To go through what he is doing would be death. So we just remain aware of situation, and adapt. As long as we know what his intentions are, we can be proactive in all matters and alter what needs to put him in the reactive side to our happenings." A quirked brow. "Make sense?"

Such a sweet smile radiated features flushed with cold.  Eyes to sparkle as the wildlife all but escaped the clutches of the ice.  "Thank you my brother.." Gracefully her body unfolded from the log, eyes of silver viewing the winter skies as he spoke, and knew he was correct.  She had never met Yusef, but she knew Achaz and Dareios had, when they saved Erastos.  "Do you sometimes wonder how we are so much different then he is?" She looked down to her brother.. "We are kind, and gentle.. where he is evil and cruel.." Their mothers. She knew this and shrugged off the question before gaining an answer.."Come, we shall return home.. there is left over duck if you are hungry?  And my ward Jeremy, he has missed you and your tales of the ancient Gods" Warm smile.

Shaking his head. "No, I never wonder how. We lived through it. We know different." Taking to his feet in a fluid motion. "Indeed very hungry since there was no catching of fish today. Jeremy." Laughing "How is the boy doing? And before the night falls upon the woods here, I shall follow."

She looped slender fingers around her brother's forearm with a chuckle.  "Playing with our new wolf hound he found, a pup named Hermes.. learning to ride the mule Hercules.. and glad I will be home schooling him until he can read." She smiled with a tilt of her head.."I shall go then.. and you, well Achaz..  know you were missed?" Warm smile before she was trekking thru the snow on her way from whence she came.


Date: 02-09-11
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 40

Race Bet

She knew she had made a bargain, and it would be kept.  With a salute, and the smile to brighten silver hues, Anthea lifted the cup and down the entire glass.  "One.." Came the single word that held the warmth of her homeland.  "One to go?"  Words were whispered, lips to be slowly licked by the pink of her tongue as her eyes never left those of his own.

He gave a single nod in answer, having watched her drink, he now met and held her eyes.

No words needed to be spoken.  She felt that, knew it deep within her soul.  With a nod, she moved slowly so that her lithe form could reach the bottle with slender fingers.  Glass poured, she gave a salute and drank another cup.  The bottle was then set aside.. and she to feel the sensation of the drink within.

Conor smiled, white teeth a flash with the expression before he pushed up, leaning toward her and reaching past her to collect the bottle.  "There's more if you want it, but until you decide, the bottle stays here with me."  And he poured his second glass, setting the bottle down beside his boot on the floor.

"Two is fine.. that was the bargain, ne?" Two cups of potcheen, glory be she was becoming a pro at this.  Not that she wanted.. "Perhaps half a glass.. " Keep the bottle?  She felt the twitch of that grin.  Seems Conor loved this drink.

Conor loved to drink, but better it be well brewed potcheen than some rusty-piped semblance of the drink.   "Hold your glass over." He chuckled, bringing up the bottle again so she could have a half glass more.  He'd share, she'd just have to let him know or reach over and take it up herself if she wanted more.

"My brother Achaz has grown to love this, he had some this morning.." Soft smile with the memory of the conversation, glad the interview was finally done.  "Only half, and thank you.." She held the glass out, a smile as she viewed the glass to make sure only half a glass would be poured.

The door was nudged open as a wooly bear stepped through, or how Kuwan would appear more like an Eskimo. Snow dusted the fur hood that framed her face, shading it for protruding beyond dark hair. Boots we just as thickly furred and laced up to her knees. She stood there a moment to catch her breath or so it might appear as if being so bundled was burdensome in itself. "Good evening," wisped on a soft breath.

Conor would always give the lass what she wanted and no more.   He scooted forward just enough to pour her half the glass, then looked to the door to see the fur bedecked Kuwan as she paused in the entrance.  "Good evening to you, Kuwan." He called to her from where he and Anthea sat near the hearth.

Anthea knew that voice, a voice she had not heard in some time.  And a voice that went with one she thought kind.. "G'evening, Kuwan, so good to see you again." Spoken softly as she leaned forward to see her.

"Come and join us, Kuwan. The potcheen will help take the chill off." Not that it was possible to be chilled at all with all the fur she was wrapped in.

Warm smile was seen. She knew it was cold outside, and didn't want the woman to freeze. She remained silent so they could speak, sipping slowly on the last cup of potcheen she would drink this evening.

Wasn't long after Kuwan that the door opened again. He did so carefully in case anyone was in front of the door and slipped inside. Snow dusted the shoulders of his wool coat, and his cap. He stomped off his boots as he grinned at the fur wrapped lass and then lifted a hand in greeting to Conor and Anthea.

The chill brought Anthea to smile to Ciaran, waving her own hand in greeting. And nay to bother the man before his drink, if he was to receive one. A soft greeting.. "G'evening.." Was offered just before finishing the rest of her drink.

"You, Ciaran, will have to get your own bottle!" He laughed through his words as he addressed his cousin. But he raised his glass hand as a form of a wave to his entering kin.

"Are you ready for the snow run in the toboggan?" Glancing between Conor and Ciaran for the bet that was made between the three not long ago. It would attest to why she was so bundled up. Perhaps overdone but she was wary of being out in the cold in such a sport for a good amount of time.

Conor's smile grew, sliding a look to Anthea before drawing his gaze back to Kuwan. "It's a good night for it."

Anthea returned the smile knowing such a bet with his cousin and Kuwan would be fun for them. But, Anthea kept silent to enjoy the conversation and the potcheen that was warming her soul.

"Aye, that I will." He chuckled then nodded at Kuwan. "Tonight is as good a night as any." He'd collect the bottle and take it along.

Anthea smiled as Ciaran spoke of the sleighing. "Do keep warm if you all do go.. it is bitter outside, as Kuwan can testify due to her furs" Spoken to friends she cared about.

"Then tonight it will be." He slid from his chair and stood, downing the whiskey in his glass. "Miss Drakos, we're off to face the dangers of a snow covered mountain pass. You're welcome to come, of course..." He offered her a nod of invitation but continued around the grouping of chairs in order to start 'suiting' up for the cold again. "The prize is still the same?" He shot a grin to Kuwan.

She was over to Alex with some quiet words, a flask handed over and then returned to her that she slid in an oversize pocket that would be hard to tell where the opening slit was for the fur. Which luckily they could not really see her face much for the oversize hood but he would understand the bob of her head. "I am ready," starting for the door. Her heart was pounding for the unknown set before her.

"Thank you Conor, but this is a time that was planned before me.." She smiled warmly, not wishing to intrude and wanting them to enjoy one another. "Perhaps let me know who wins and I shall place in paper?" She silently would pray Kuwan would win. After all, girls must stick with girls. " But good luck to each of you."

He just removed his gloves so he could collect the bottle without it slipping from his fingers. He chuckled and gently nudged Kuwan. "You still offering the prize?" Lass was so nervous she hadn't heard Conor!

Once more he looked to Anthea, and it took a moment longer as he realized that for a second time, the lass had the guts to turn him down! Although his smile had wavered, as he realized what had just happened, it snuck back into view. Gutsy little Greek. Alright. "We will definitely let you know..." He tugged on his final glove and reached for the door, holding it open for Kuwan and his cousin. "Hell yes she's still offering, or I wouldn't be freezing my arse off to risk my neck down that hell of a hill."

Anthea cracked her wrist in a wave to all three, wishing them the best and to have only good fun. And yes, she could be gusty.


It was snowing again that had large flakes tossed in swirls as the three made it down to the lake, and pass it for that matter. There were tracks that led pass the lake and up to the hills that the Dragon Run was spread down over. She pointed. "It is done," like she'd been told. She headed for the shed and the toboggans that were kept there.

He paused to study the run, and let out a low whistle. "Hoooly sheeeeeet." Muttered but likely someone would hear it. He hadn't expected it to be so long. "You ready for this Conor?"

Conor was also looking over the path that would be their quest for the prize. He slanted a look to Ciaran with his cousin's question, then let out a slow breath. "Can't very well tuck tail and run now." He chuckled a bit and turned, following where Kuwan's footprints led to the shed in order to collect his toboggan.

"Guess not." He chuckled and followed waiting for Conor before he collected one of the wooden sleds for himself.

She near turned running into them both with a toboggan between them. "Here is one, you are not afraid of the slide?" Wondering dark eyes dipped between them as she handed off another.

Liam had hurried to finish up and get attired properly before heading down to the lake as there was a race to be had between brother and cousin he didn't want to miss. Seems like he was just in time and would not miss a minute of it. "I place my bet on Ciaran!" Grinning between them before giving a low whistle for the length of the run. "And if Ciaran wins, kiss him into tomorrow Kuwan!" Oh yes, he knew about the bet too. Word got around.

Conor took up the toboggan offered by Kuwan and stepped aside so Ciaran could collect his. He didn't answer Kuwan's question since bets were being made beyond the original one. He stood a moment, squinting an eye to Liam before he nodded. "I see how it is." A smile twitched but he said no more, continuing to the starting point.

She didn't answer the comment. She pretended like she didn't hear it at all. It was hard enough to concentrate and too many thoughts going through her head at the moment. Except she practically dropped the sled on Ciaran's foot. "It would seem your brother favors you to win a kiss." Words were low, softly spoken to Ciaran.

Of course, and the grin proved it given in a flash Conor's way. "He needs to be kissed silly." Maybe his brother would put that extra punch into the next boxing match between them.

Luckily, his reflexes were quick and he kept the toboggan from falling onto his foot. "I'm glad you have faith in me, brother." He chuckled before he looked at Kuwan. "Brothers." Was all he said to that. And yes, yes he would.  "And why aren't you taking on this beastie, Liam?" He asked as he headed for the path that led up to the top of the run.


Conor eased the length of toboggan to the snow, placing his foot in it to glide it back and forth in that spot and set it to go.


"Heads or tails?" Looking between the two as he tossed a coin up.

"I'll be gracious and let you call it, cousin." He grinned over at Conor while he lowered the toboggan... and had to grab it quick as it started to slide away.

Conor held the large sled in place with his foot. "Heads then."

"Tails win, you get to decide who goes first Ciaran.."

She took out the flask and had a good supporting drink from it before it was closed off and tucked away.

He looked at the course, then at Conor, then at his sled. "I guess I will." Might as well get it over with! "If I die, you can sell all my worldly goods and use the money for Fawn's dowry." Snickering as he moved to the top of the run.

"Mighty noble of you, Cousin." He chuckled with a nod.


A wink was given to Kuwan and a bow to Conor before he moved to the top and slid the sled back and forth a couple times before hoping on. And it took off like a bat out of hell! Letting out a whoop, he braced for the first set of curves. This time the whoop was more a curse. He leaned left then right and shot through the curves with ease. And there were the bumps. Yep, that was definitely a curse as the bumps came up. And his teeth were chattering hard as he made it on through there. Ye gods, what were those lads thinking?!! It seemed like the sled was picking up speed as he went into the next series of turns. And a prayer was said that if he wrecked, he'd not break any bones! And with the second, or was it the third turn, his toboggan went into a spin, making everything blur together until he was over the side, his toboggan embedded in a snow bank, and himself near buried. He sputtered as he dug himself out, then fell forward, rolled over and just stared up at the sky a moment.


Conor let out a whoop as Ciaran bit the ... snow. He was silently rooting for him to make it all the way down, just because it would be dang fun to see the man make it! "Get your lazy arse up and out of my way!" He shouted down to his cousin, laughing as Ciaran just lay there like the dead. Conor had studied the course, but he had no clue what it would actually be like to maneuver down it.


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