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Heathfield Castle Adventures

Date: 08-10-09
Poster: Nycole Nolan
Post # 1

The Call of the Nightingale

It was a typical summer night, humid with the occasional flash of heat lightning caused by a distant storm. Lightning bugs danced in the garden below while the sound of crickets filled the air. Moths and other insects that were attracted to light dance dangerously close to the torches that were lit. The moon, beginning to wane, still showed her bright face though it was somewhat dimmed by the haze. Nycole didn't mind the heat though she could wish for a breeze like those that cooled her island home. They had been busy with duties, preparing for Elaina's wedding and traveling back and forth but tonight she was relaxing. Too warm to do much, she leaned against the sill of her bedroom window and watched the night sky.

A breeze whisked by with just enough cooling effect, although it hinted upon something far more than the norm of the night there was nothing substantial to support that feel. The nightingale sang out its call to another and if one really listened hard, the answer came an even further distance off. There was a lot to be said about the mystical powers of the moon and its hazy light this night that had pinpoints of other lights seem to dance about the gardens below. The sweet scent of lilies filled the air along with daisies, black eye susans, marigolds, petunias and a host of other blooming flowers in their full glory. The breeze that had come and gone near at her wishing came back again full of the scents of this evening and something more tinted before it was gone again to the peaceful quiet. Quiet perhaps but so very alive on another level.

The breeze brought her attention to the garden and she looked down, smiling at the scents that it carried up to her. Somewhere she could hear laughter and voices, though they faded away. She moved away from the window, slippered feet nearly silent as she made her way to the door. The silk of her gown rustled softly as she moved out into the hall and then down the stairs. She made her way outside and to one of the stone benches to sit. It seemed that the breeze had brought a longing to be outdoors and she had followed.

The breeze seemed to follow her, light, scented and airy. The kind of clean after a good summer rain. Mist clung to the ground in about a half foot thickness in places. It too shifted as the breeze now teased the leaves on tree tops. Ones along the back garden then those along the east wall. One could almost imagine a unicorn stepping from the cropping of trees in a small wooded area that lent a more natural look to the well manicured gardens. Somewhere in the distance, someone was playing a harp as the light airy notes drifted in and out of  hearing range.

She wished she could be a little closer to the harp player but it added to the mystery of the night. She sat for only a moment then decided to walk the garden path. Fingers brushed over the face of a rose, moistened by the evening dew. She reached out once to allow the brief alighting of a lightning bug, laughing as it walked over her fingers in a light tickle. She watched it fly away and stopped a moment. The sound of the nightingale earlier had reminded her of something left undone and a promise made. "Myles." She called out softly, and waited.

As soon as his name was said there was the stir of a breeze again. Fragrant as it swirled the low crawling mist leaving him at her side. The shimmer of gold like fairy dust sprinkled to disappear leaving a shine upon a bronze muscular upper torso as he was without a shirt. Black pants and boots as well the empowered sword sheathed at his side. A hand coming to splay against her lower back had a warm energy to it. "I had begun to wonder if you would call my name." There was a reason for it and he wondered if she understood the ancient significance to his mysterious calling card in the form of a riddle and in turn if she answered it. The Fae seemed to follow him this night, winking in and out and the laughter much like the notes of that distant harp she heard, now not so distant.

It wasn't so much the shimmer of fairy dust but the pounding of her heart that alerted her of his presence. She turned her head to look at him with his touch, her eyes shinning. "I had thought to on many nights, but tonight ...  tonight it was perfect." Beyond perfect. She could see the difference between the Fae and the fireflies and it made her smiled but she kept her attention on him. How could she not?

Dark eyes met and held as he helped turn her to him, then in against him. She could feel the comfortable warmth that radiated from his skin. "Such would be the disappointment if you had not called but you have. You are my Aphrodite and I your Cuchulain," wondering if she had any idea who he once was, was still, but figuring she would know who Aphrodite was and the significance of using that goddess in particular. One arm angled down and around her lower back as a forefinger curled against her chin to gently lift as his dipped. Eyes delved in a serious way as he held her closer still, did she understand? By understanding she would used his name with that purpose.

She could feel the heat of a blush creep up her cheeks as he pulled her to him and felt a thrill of a shiver move up her spine. She understood and it showed in the way her eyes softened as they met his. She melted against him, her arms around his waist, lips parting slightly. "My Cuchulain, my hero, my ... love." She could feel her heart swell with the word. She had known it but tonight, seeing him again, she gave it voice.

She knew, something that transcended time to find her again. Now, she was finally in his arms as their eyes still held. His to burned their way to her very soul before his lips were hungry upon hers. A hunger as ancient as the gods and goddesses of long ago. Fire burned in his heart, searing in the devouring as she was encompassed into his arms and actions spoke far more than the limitations of words. Far too long he had gone without, far too many centuries searching. Now he had found her and she could bet he wasn't going to let her go. There was a power in him, a natural male domination and demanding but she would find him loving and kind, respective of her as an equal, though different as it was meant to be.

That fire moved from him into her, encompassed her being, filled her as the hunger filled her. She was his fully, lost in that moment. The music of the harp still could be heard, even above the pounding of her heart but it was another sound the end of a search she hadn't realized she'd been upon ... the call of the nightingale to her mate and his answer.

The kiss was to claim if claiming there would be. There was. Fully. Complete. His lips finally lifting and about to say something but the words never came as he plundered her lips again. Long and deep as his need was not complete. Probably wouldn't be until they became one. A deep breath sucked in as lips lifted once more. "I would like the blessing of Andrew before I take you off as my wife to love you the length of this lifetime."

He left her breathless, weak in the knees, and deliciously light-headed when finally the second kiss ended. Eyes as star-filled as the sky above lifted to his again, and she felt them fill with tears. She had missed him so and soon ... so very soon, they'd not be parted. "As would I, and that of Peter and Elaina." It wasn't necessary but they had been a part of her life for so long. She studied his face a moment more. "I love you, Myles."

"Then they shall be there." He would request all three to meet with them. Probably spring the news on them right there before drinking from a unique chalice filled with a special dew of the gods from long ago. "Let us take a walk in the garden," of course it would end up more than this plane the garden was rooted but in others where it took hold as well. He offered her the bend of his arm and the look in dark eyes could melt wax were she made of it. His feelings no longer hidden but palatable.



Date: 03-12-10
Poster: Lahoneee
Post # 2

Time to Tell a Secret
It was early evening as Honeee leaned against the sill of one of the great windows in the north tower. A view north as far as the eye could see, knowing it was where Luneberg existed. She came here often in the passing months, ever since the worse of anyone fears came back in whispered news. It was almost eight months since Karl left Heathfield on a routine trip to Luneberg. She had watched the seasons pass, summer into fall, fall into winter and now winter was coming around to spring again. Tear stained cheeks didn't change things but they could not be helped as in silence they fell. The thunder of emotion contained within her mind than outwardly shown. She was Queen of these lands and had to keep up the strong figure she was known to be even when falling apart inside.
It was summer, July to be exact, that Karl von Rundstedt took one of his routine trips to Luneberg. These trips took varying amounts of time away for as Ruler of his lands, he couldn't leave his brother as acting Regent be all that the people saw as their ruler. Karl was a good man for his People and for his brother. Claude von Rundstedt had deserved to die, a traitor and would-be murderer many years ago. Perhaps Karl knew deep in his heart that it was not so much his weak spirited and minded brother as it was Adelina who twisted his mind to her own ambitions. There was a long story there that spanned the many years until she was finally sent to a Nunnery far north of Luneberg and his brother separated from this woman he married. Since that time of separation, five years in passing, Claude's heart turned around and he worked diligently and honestly for his brother. Honeee had her own run in with the duo before things changed around. All past stories.
It was Claude that sent a messenger with confidential information. It was almost a month after Karl's arrival, about mid August, that he disappeared. There were disturbances a good distance northeast of the castle. A section of forest between the lands of Luneberg and Kildare. Karl had taken four trained men with him to investigate. Two were found dead just within the forest while Karl and the other two went missing. The oddity being they would not have left the men lying there to rot without burying them if they could have. Time was given in the hope that the three would emerge again. After a week in passing, three of Karl's four horsemen left Heathfield to find their beloved leader by the end of August: Sir Vincent deBeauvais, Sir Lazare Carno and Sir Dana de Vimeure. Sir Trevor Cairns chosen to stay in Heathfield in protection of the Queen. He was the youngest and the last to join the Four Horsemen and so the choice.
The four were shown where Karl and his men would have gone into the uncharted forests that reports had come back of men being torn apart and animals killed, shredded, not just of the normal animal chain of survival. The three headed in, as was reported back, and after a week they too seemed to be lost in this part of the uncharted Forest. One becoming known as Ghost Woods for others that had gone in and were never seen from again. Only a few found dead but not a single one returned alive so far. By the middle of September three more good men were missing with little hope. Trevor had reported that the rings Velvet had made for them, the connecting stones, had gone dead about the time the three had entered the forest. All four had reported before starting out on this mission that Karl's ring no longer had connection with theirs and had stopped in what would be the time he had entered this Forest. There were those villagers that lived near this area telling stories of seeing men walking in the shadows before they disappeared back into the mists. Sometimes they heard whisperings as if a call for help.
There were only a few that knew, her uncle Aaron who was becoming very concerned for his niece. Her sister who always had that connection and she knew Amberlette was also concerned for her knowing the tragedies that already existed in her life. Andrew, one she could never keep anything from for his talents. It was out of his realm to find out what happened and could not honestly offer her hope in the situation. Without saying it, she knew she had to possibly deal with the fact that Karl, her beloved husband, was gone for good this time. There had been other long periods of time away but he always came back. Never had it been this long. It had been suggested to her that she start getting out again, amongst her people that somehow that would feed her the strength she needed to be strong. She also knew it was time that she told all others of the situation instead of keeping it a secret. She knew there were many perceptive individuals in her lands and the very fact Karl had been missing from the king's field so long, they knew something was wrong. Ones like King Peter O'Neill probably already knew for he had been one of Karl's best friends but he kept quiet and saw to the practices and keeping questions at bay. She would thank him for this.
Many tears had been shed in this North Tower room but now it was time to face facts and the reality of her situation. It was time to prepare to move on without the man she loved at her side.


Date: 05-30-10
Poster: Honeee
Post # 3

Life's Tragedies
Honeee still kept from too much socially although she made the effort to visit her dear friend Queen Caillean. Rumor was that Victoria would be there as well. Unfortunately something kept Queen Victoria from attending but another pleasant surprise was to find Queen Eliana there. It had been an even longer time since they saw each other and the time spent renewed their friendship. There were a lot of good things in Honeee's life but there was still the hole left in her heart that even all her dear loved ones, family and friends, could not fill. They did help to ease the pain greatly. That was what friends and family were for.
Feeling more remorse than usual this sunny summer day, Honeee gave orders to the guards not to disturb her in the smaller courtyard garden. No one was to come, not family nor friends as she addressed her grief. The spot chosen was where she had first met Karl von Rundstedt alone one faithful evening. There by the lamp light and bench which a finger was drawn long its frame as she passed. She let the bittersweet memory engulf her as if by doing so she could bring him back. "I fell in love with you that night even if I rebelled the idea, Karl, my love." Words softly spoken instead of only thought that by doing so he might hear her from wherever he was. "Ten months have passed since you have gone, what was to be a routine trip to your homelands. You were taken from me and my heart cries out to you still. Live forces me to move on but that which we had will never be lost for it will live on in my heart." There was a long pause here as tears trickled down her cheeks as much as she tried not to cry again. "A thousand tears still brings naught but that which hurts most, is that we didn't get to say good bye." She wasn't sure why that ideal hurt so much or it was just a part latched onto in some kind of way the heart and mind tried to understand.
She knew in her heart that Karl would understand, even demand of her not to withdraw so much into her grief that her kingdom and people suffered without their ruler. She knew she had to get out even if there would be no way to hide the deep rooted sadness in her eyes. People would notice but few would dare to ask her why and those that knew her would know the why. All would be careful around her and she would feel the pity she didn't wish. Still, she would force herself through this until time healed all wounds. Although scars would be left, overall everything would be dealt with better. If it continued to be unbearable, she would see about stepping down, much like Queen Mary McAndrews had, and let her son Andrew take the throne. She would still be in attendance, just the weight would not be carried directly upon her shoulders. It was a thought and one good to consider. Here too, time would tell but it showed there were options in that she could adjust one way or another.
A single red rose was picked from those that bloomed in this garden. A perfect one that was not quite open, feeling much as their time was together had not been as a full rose to bloom but only partially that life had allowed them. All the thorns were meticulously removed before she set it on the bench in remembrance. It took her all this time to finally face the fact it was less and less likely her husband was coming back. As much as she wished differently it would be unhealthy to continue so. Still a part of her heart would continue to hope.

Date: 06-04-10
Poster: Trevor Cairns
Post # 4

Thistle Tavern: The Ring

Trevor was sitting in front of the hearth with only a fire for show in place. Which meant, that peat was burning low just to add the scent to the room rather than heat. Only took a little but Trevor could focus on one burning ember. The burning ember symbolizing fire grew brighter and larger under his perusal. What he didn't know for the intensity of his scrying, the ring that Velvet had made the four horsemen and king, give off a hint of light. Very dull though more than had been there for nine months in passing.

Henna had been spending time with her family, giving her support to her mother and to her younger siblings. After the younger children settled into sleep, she decided to take a walk and try to get her thoughts together. When she found herself in front of the Thistle, she paused but a moment before making her way up and inside. A glass of potcheen punch before she returned could help her to sleep. Though her mother put up a brave front, Henna was worried.

He was aware of someone coming in as shadows started to appear and take form so he didn't pull back from the trance in case more could be seen. This was the first he got anything, elusive as it was, not knowing there was a faint light in the ring, so faint one might not notice unless really close and focused on it. It was still there as he held the images in the fireplace to his third eye.

She noticed Trevor but also felt a draw of power surrounding him as he stared at the fire. The drink was forgotten though she approached in silence. She knew scrying could be tricky and didn't want to disturb him. As she neared her eye was drawn from the burning peat to the ring then back again.

After she drew near, and nothing more was to be discovered as pushing it would not make a difference, he drew back. In that instance the ring had dulled back to the onyx it was made from. "Hello Princess. How have you been?" Dark eyes shifting as well his body as he turned in the seat to look up at her standing near.

A glance at the ring when he drew back, had a flicker of confusion showing in dark eyes. She smiled at him, however, and answered, "As well as one can be, given the circumstances. And you, how are you doing, Trevor?" She felt he had to be feeling some frustration at not knowing what had happened to his comrades and King.

"I am doing as well as any in the lands that has lost a friend, brothers in heart and close comrades. It will take time. There is a great sadness in my heart, not just for myself but those who feel the pain even more. I have a son, so I can't let it overtake me that I'm no longer a functional father for him." So yes, it was rough.

"What were you doing when I came in?" She sat in a chair opposite, dark eyes intense. The story of the rings was known to her but she was unsure she had really seen a light within. "If my asking isn't an intrusion... "

There was a silent sigh in the release of air or like one not use to defeat as death could defeat one's heart in sorrow. "I was sitting here relaxing with one of the embers drew my eye. Next I know it was growing larger and I was drawn into it. There were shadows but not distinctive enough to make them out other than the distance feel of something or things, someone or ones."

She nodded, then stood again, smoothing the skirt of the blue cotton gown she wore. "Let me get a drink and then ... I want you to try again. I'll explain why after you do so." She gave him the slightest of smiles. "And I'm not trying to be mysterious or annoying. I want to be sure of what I saw."

"I can try but forcing something doesn't usually work." To make her aware being she thought she saw something. Thinking it was in the stare between man and ember. The ember was not as bright and had burned down more as he steeple his fingers leaving the tips to touch his nose. Willing the mood back upon him. All he got was the glowing spot and the ring remained the same that could be plainly seen with his hands up the way they were.

She returned with drink in hand as he stared at the fire. Taking her seat again, she looked at the ring for a long moment then her gaze shifted to the ember. She wanted to will that ember back to life, but as he said, some things could not be forced. Turning back to Trevor, she waited for him to lower his hands before speaking again.

He had done his best but the moment was past and that window closed to whatever started to be shown. One like a distant cry in a forest that was muffled out as you strained your ears to hear more. Hands lowered as he shook his head. "Whatever showed up was as the wind and long gone. This is not to say it wont show again." Hand lowered in a reach for his drink which was lifted to kick back the dram or so of potcheen.

"I think, though I am not positive, that your ring held the faintest glow when you were staring at the fire. And it faded when you looked away." She waited until he had finished his drink to mention it. "But I saw nothing when you tried again." The same could be said about the ring -- the light could show again.

"Really?" Which had dark eyes hold a light that was dulled in them for some time. He naturally looked at the ring which would not show anything but he placed his hand, healing hand, over the stone and closed his eyes. The murmur was faint in a distant as the ring retained some of what transpired as his eyes opened again. "It is too faint but it is the first shred of hope one of them is still alive in the least and managed to breach whatever density separates them. Too faint to alert your mother and give possibly false hope. I would not bear seeing her heart break all over again if there is nothing more to this."

She nodded then watched, her hand placed against her throat as he tried to tell if the ring had truly showed something. "I will say nothing to her but what will you do? If it's that faint, it may mean whatever has separated them from this world is very large, and nearly impossible to penetrate." She felt her mood lift a hair. "And is there anything I can do to help?"

"If they cannot conquer what they face, three horsemen and the skill of a King then I don't know what could. If they are alive or one, then it means there is still hope and I will have to watch the ring. I will probably go to Luneberg and find out, though that means breaking my word in staying here I gave to my comrades. Still, there is a time when you may have to break your word for the greater good." Hoping she understood that.

She did and nodded slowly, her answer careful. "There are times when one must follow their instincts or their heart. I think that is the case now. You will not rest until you're certain, Trevor, one way or the other know that there has been a spark." She looked at his ring again. "I hope it does show more."

"I will have to come up with a good excuse as it is known why I did not leave with Lazare, Vincent and Dana, commanded not being I was the last recruited and the youngest." Giving a wave of his hand he changed the subject, "tell me how things have been going for you, Henna. The children and all."

"Things have been going well at the orphanage. There have been several adoptions, and some of the children are apprenticed. Unfortunately, I've had three siblings come in. They lost their parents and don't want to be separated so I'll do all I can for them. I will return to the castle tonight and go to the orphanage tomorrow. The young women who help me know I have been concerned about my mother and family."

"I think if you were married you'd have children of your own and adopted ones.." teasing her but it said a lot about her caring nature. "Have you found any time for yourself?" Giving a nod to the last, "as it should be and I'm sure having you around has been a great support for your mother. I've noticed even Leoric has been in and Gaidan is to come with his bride once Leoric returns."

She smiled then nodded. "Yes, that's something my mother insists on. I've gone riding, and have done some shopping, even for myself." The smile grew, "Leoric has been a pillar of strength for us all, and of course, we're looking forward to seeing Gaidan and Corina. We haven't seen them since the wedding."

"He has come a long way, respected by many. Both of the twins for all they have done in Kildare. I'm sure Andrew and Noirin as well your other sisters and brothers have all helped equally, and yourself in this support for your mother."

"Yes, they have. Andrew is often with mother, helping her with the day to day dealings as well as keeping his watch over the kingdom. Noirin helps with Lydia and Carlton as do my sisters though he's to the age where he doesn't want to be fussed over so much. We're all so blessed with one another." She glanced up at the cuckoo clock and stood. "I should return to the castle and sleep. Will you let me know if you see the light in the ring?"

"I will let you know," rising as she made ready to leave, "I will see you to the castle to put in for a trip to Luneberg and seek out Bannon." Perhaps if the squire comes through with him on this, he would be knighted.

"Thank you." She carried her now empty glass to the bar and bade Alex good night. It was warm enough that she didn't carry a shawl.

It didn't matter what Trevor wore or not, he was always comfortable. With a hand to touch upon her lower back, one wave to Alex he then escorted Henna out. They would continue the light conversation.



Date: 06-05-10
Poster: Karl von Rundstedt
Post # 5

The men trudged from the cover of trees while the moonlight remained confined behind the thick layer of storm clouds, leaving the landscape in pitch.  Shadows were absent with no light to encourage them but light would not have bettered the situation of these travelers.  The rumble of thunder in the distance neither worsened their present state or bettered it.  It would seem they noticed it not at all.  By the cumbersome movement of large bodies, their physical beings had been tortured, torn, bruised, broken, their spirits tested and battered but intact even if still struggling for a strong hold.  
One man was draped over the shoulders of the largest, but even this warrior stumbled occasionally with the effort.  Weak from wear, the seasoned and previously strong man of battle pressed forward.
Flanked on one side by one of his men who walked a few steps ahead. He held his arm across his midsection, limp with injury, and supported by his other hand.  By his gait, he favored the right side of his body from useless arm to dragging foot. 
To the other side two more of his men forged on beyond their pain and weary bones, with another supported between the two of them, that man's legs scrapped the earth, useless behind him at present.  Perhaps asleep, perhaps too damaged, perhaps, no soul remaining to make use of them.
The middle man paused while the others pushed on, he brought up his hand and held the back of it in front of him,  squinting through the darkness to see the ring upon his finger:  The ring that had begun to glow, to react to stepping back on Heathfield lands. 
He drew in a deep breath of relief, ignoring the sharp pain of sacrificed ribs with the effort.  The wards would have already picked up their return. 
"Rest men." He called to the others, dropping to his knees with a soft grunt of complete surrender.  "We are home." The words caused an ache in his chest far greater than the wounds which had been inflicted.  An ache of longing that had settled there and could now, only now, be relieved.  An ache that took form behind his closed eyes even as he heard the others returning to where he had sunk.  The image of sea-blue eyes, hair the color of purest gold, a smile of such love that it would keep a man holding tight to hope even while mucking through the deepest pits of despair. 
They need only wait for now ... and rest for the first time in a long, long time.

Date: 06-13-10
Poster: Andrew MacNeil
Post # 6


It was the very next day, being the night prior when he spoke with Henna was too late to seek out permission to go to Luneberg, that Trevor sought out Bannon after speaking with Prince Andrew. Well, more like he waited in the Knight's Hall after he sent one of the other guards to find the young man and relate the summons.

Bannon had been working out with the other squires, trying to show the younger some of the things they had been taught. He was surprised to receive a summons from Sir Trevor and wasted little time getting to the Knight's Hall though he did take a few moments to clean up. He nearly ran into the hall, skidding to a stop just as he reached the door. Taking a deep breath, he walked inside and made his way to the King's man, saluting him as he approached.

Trevor wore an open leather vest over a lightweight poet's shirt tucked into black pants. The empowered sword hung at his left hip. Always. As Bannon arrived he stood. "I have been given permission to ride to Luneberg. The ring I wear," if Bannon had ever noticed them, "is connected to my comrades' rings as well the King's. The light had been missing for nine months until last night. It is possible one of them is alive in the least, hence the reason to ride out to Luneberg and see if glow returns," as the ring no longer had that glow to it again. "Do you wish to ride with me being Sir Vincent's squire?"

As Trevor spoke, Bannon's attention was fully on him. His expression went from carefully guarded to stunned then to hopeful. "Aye, Sir Trevor. I do, and I'd be honored to do so." It took all he had to keep from grinning ear to ear or shouting out loud. He kept reminding himself it was only a chance. "When do we leave?" The rings he knew about because of seeing Sir Vincent's.

"Soon as you get your gear and eat something. It will be a long ride so I'm having them pack us food for the journey." Drink and water as well. He was being served his lunch as they spoke. Most had to get their own meal but some, were served like Trevor.

"I won't be long, sir. I'll get my gear first." He saluted again, then headed out of the hall. Once he was out, he was near running to his room. Sir Vincent had taught him how to pack lightly and quickly so he was back and eating within twenty minutes.

The lad was quick, that much he'd give him. Had him chuckle when he was back so fast. "Don't make me inhale my food just to keep up." Which he was almost done but took his time. A Royal Guard came to let Trevor know that his and the Squire's horses were ready when they were. Which he thanked him before he was back to his meal. He knew they would be out in the courtyard under the eye of another Royal Guard until they got there. That anything they could need would be packed.

"Sorry, sir. I didn't want to keep you waiting." He did grin this time and he made sure not to inhale his own meal. "Does anyone else know why we're going?" Bannon wouldn't be talking to anyone in the meantime, but he was curious if the Queen had been told, though he didn't ask out right.

"I spoke to Prince Andrew MacNeil on the matter, told him what has happened and he agreed. He said it would not do well to say anything just yet to his mother, the Queen, until a bit more is certain. As I feel and he does," keeping his voice and words low between them. Not that the hall was crowded this time of early afternoon after seeing the Druid Prince, "as well not to cause any undue heartache as it is too early to tell if the ring's glow was a fluke or not." By this time he was finished with his meal and waited the few minutes for Bannon to finish his. "Nothing is to be said to anyone else presently," which was saying he was being let in on a secret mission.

He paused in his eating and nodded. "I won't say anything, sir." He could understand not wanting to cause anyone more pain as he thought of Lady Julia also. He finished the last of his meal, then stood. "I'm ready." The importance of the mission was hitting him by then and he became very solemn. There were questions trying to form that he wouldn't allow himself to think on yet.

He was up from his seat, having taken one of the reserved tables allotted certain King's men, Knights and even Kings when they were here. He gave greetings to any of the others in passing for Trevor knew them all as he headed out to the courtyard, the last to be the Royal Guard attending their steeds. Powerful ones that were bred for the kind of trip they were taking. One that would take them through forests and over mountains. At least that was the plan, head north past Clearview then up through the forests of Ballicastle. Over the mountains where he knew of a pass through, cutting around the lake and river which also would take them by AmunRa Manor then over the border into Luneberg itself. That was the plan. Greetings and well wishing of a safe trip were given both even if the Royal Guard didn't know where they were headed, they obviously were headed on a longer trip than usual. Trevor swung up into the saddle and waited the few minutes for Bannon to do the same before heading out and north.

Bannon, as a squire, greeted some with a salute, others with a polite nod of the head, depending on rank. He greeted the Royal Guard, whom he knew and thanked him then mounted the horse waiting for him after stowing his gear. As they rode out of the city, he glanced back once over his shoulder then looked forward. If he allowed himself a moment of reflection, he had come a long way from the stuttering and unsure lad who had followed Niklas, Vincent and Armory from Luneburg.

Trevor intended to make good time but he would not overtax the horses nor themselves. He had no idea what they would be up against and certainly whatever took the King and his Comrades was neither common nor ordinary and they would need all their strength and wits about them. It was fairly smooth riding on the main road that led past Clearview but they were barely past the area of the manor when he stopped. Something was wrong. He glanced to the sky as if it would clue him in then closed his eyes as he felt the earth all around him, a better way for him to communicate. It was with his eyes closed that he felt the vibration of his ring, having lids to fly open as the ring was glowing while his hand rested on the pummel. The difference this time was that the glow was not only brighter but the pinpoint of light pointed northeast instead of northwest towards Luneberg. "We have a change of course, Bannon." One that would be far rougher for it would take them over the rocky mountainous Northern Tier.

He would have been enjoying the ride had his mind not been on where they were going. When Trevor stopped, he halted his own horse, and watched the King's man with a puzzled expression. He was on that side of Trevor where he could see the ring and the glow caught his eye. "Aye, sir," he answered, ready to go wherever the man led, even if he had no idea why.

Back at the Castle................

Andrew had taken some time in the uppermost chamber of the West Tower. One that he had claimed for himself a long time ago as a lad. Four large windows, north, west, south and east, faced the directional compass points as well what was considered the four corners of the Earth, linked to the four elements. He stood in front of the North window feeling the usual pang in his heart when he was as helpless as anyone else to make a difference in the disappearance of his stepfather, King Karl and three of his esteem horsemen. He was not a god although he had many gifts that might be considered god-like. He was not a Messiah in that he was going to lead People to an eternal happiness if they followed his ways, although he could perform Miracles in how others would view some of his gifts. He did not consider them Miracles other than those that he helped then performed the miracle within themselves.


The area above Ballicastle and Tyremoor were out of his jurisdiction, out of the reach of his abilities. They were not to be his and he could only reach so far. His thoughts turned to something that warmed his heart, that of his wife in the chambers below attending their newest son and their firstborn. He also knew she was preparing to receive two females into the Order of Athena as well and needed time to concentrate. Sight had not left that which was seen beyond the window even if his inner sight had turned to those physically below him. The sky changed hue that drew his focus back in a split second to watch. The Wards were acting strangely. Usually the colors would turn golden red as they spit out a certain kind of evil on that level from the lands, this time they were golden blue hues, spitting something into the lands. This was the very first time and hope welled in his heart as he quickly contacted Noir by thought, transferring what he was seeing as it was happening.

Noirin always knew where Andrew was. The bond between them was that strong though she did not always see what he saw. She knew he was in the tower, and felt that he was once again thinking on the events of the past year. It was a constant in all the family. She was laughing at the antics of Val who was playing with a pull toy. Argyle was sleeping contentedly in her arms, his tummy full. When she felt that contact with Andrew, she called over one of the  nannies and handed the sleeping infant to her. Her expression became far away as soon as he was out of her arms and she smiled as she realized what this could mean. She kissed Val and promised to be back before leaving the nursery with the intention of joining her husband.

Andrew kept the contact with her as he scanned the realm to see where this breach of the Wards had taken place. There were a few that came through an ethereal door, not just one, this much he could make out but there was the sense that they were not in good shape. Whatever ordeal they had been through, left them wounded, although he didn't feel any were fatal. He could feel where the door had opened and closed, that because of who they were the Wards had allowed this access if not actually pulled them through it. He was able to gain a fleeting glimpse of the evil that was shut out behind them. They needed to get to them as quickly as possible. "Noir," opening the door that she would have reached in those few moments. "We shall go see my mother immediately," whom he was contacting on that other level as they spoke.

She could feel hope grow even more as she neared the door and when he pulled open the door, she was smiling. "You've told her?" She curled her fingers through his, her eyes bright. "Will we ride out together or are you sending someone?" She knew anything that might have been after them was blocked from entering the realm as well as the condition those who entered were in.

"We will go see her, she is in the Solarium." Which he picked up on for all the flowers and greenery around her but no sky above, just the late afternoon streaming sunlight from the windows that held his mother in a golden aura. Taking his wife's hand in his to descend the steps that would lead to the second floor of the castle where the Solarium was situated.

Honeee had found solace in the Solarium this late afternoon. In all honesty, she was hiding from her Uncle who had arrived last evening. He was to see her today and she knew why. The length of time her husband had been missing would have her back to single status and he probably wanted to organize a Tournament of Champions to elect her bodyguards in lieu of husband and his kingsmen. Trevor alone would not be enough for this twenty four hour job that those chosen would alternate and there would also be alternates for those chosen. So, yes, she was hiding, fear in her heart at being proclaimed single again. Her eyes still swollen with tears that she could allow herself to shed here in the Solarium where she was alone. She felt like one had a grip on her heart, squeezing the life out of it when her son's thoughts invaded hers. A welcome invasion as she dared to hope while the scene of the Wards was relayed to her. The feel was that of her husband and his men. Hope swelling in her heart as she flew from her retreat to meet up with her son.

She nodded, her steps light as they made their way down the stairs. The Solarium was a favored place for many, including herself. She knew Honeee often retreated there although she wouldn't have connected her retreat today with the visit of her Uncle! When she saw Honeee, she released Andrew's hand so he could greet her first.

Andrew had known too and had made himself scarce when usually he was right there to greet his Uncle upon arrival. Aaron probably suspected, suspected correctly they knew what mission he was on. A man that lived in the practical, sterile world of numbers that could make them double, even triple in the span of a few hours. "I suggest that a team of guards and warriors be sent along with a few wagons for they are wounded, lucky to be alive." Speaking as he greeted his mother first and to convey more of what he saw and knew to be. "It is Karl and some of his men, I cannot be sure what condition any of them are in other than presently they are alive. I gave permission to Trevor earlier this day to head to Luneberg for reasons of a new development which I felt was not enough to speak to you on and bring up possibly false hope, Mother." Speaking while he embraced her then stepped back so that Noir could do the same as she usually did. "The three of us shall travel by Rift that will be opening up and should deliver us close to the area they have been deposited upon. An area just above the Northern Tier in a combined wooded and grassy area."


She was listening to Andrew the while they embraced, he felt like a life line to this newfound hope. Eyes closed tight to keep any more tears from being shed. She had shed so many over the past ten months they could not be counted. If she was to shed any more, they would be ones of joy. "I feel it is Karl too." Words whispered to her son's ear before the embraced ended. "I will have what you suggested to be immediately sent," which they would be shown the area on the Map. As Noirin reached her next, Honeee embraced her as she would her own daughter before done. They were that close "At least we can help any healing while we wait for the others to show. If Trevor left early this morning, then he may reach the area by the time we do as well." She knew Trevor had extraordinary healing abilities along with a connection to his comrades and king to find them no matter what destination he had originally in mind. "Let us be on our way.." which she was already approaching one of the castle Royal Guards to relay the message to the head Royal Guard, Sir MacMillan. A very reliable man.

She embraced the Queen and hugged her tightly, her eyes filling with moisture though the tears did not escape. She had been blessed when she married Andrew, in so many ways. Not the least of which was the acceptance given, especially by one she had come to think of as a mother more than mother-in-law. She watched mother and son, nodding at Honeee's words. The sooner they reached the men, the better for all their sakes.

The door would be opened in the West Tower as once the orders were given to the ground crew to head North, Andrew escorted both Mother and Wife to the upper most chambers of the West Tower and through this ethereal gateway.



Date: 06-18-10
Poster: Lahoneee
Post # 7

The King's Return

It didn't take Andrew long to bring both Noir and his mother through the doorway, rift in time, to the northern part of the lands above the Northern Tier where he felt the ones had 'landed.' Spit out from another dimension as closely one could call it. There was definitely evil there in that other dimension where they had been. The night surrounded them as they stepped foot on a grassy field. He kept them both close in case anything else had escaped through that window of time but he didn't really feel so, the wards would have reacted in a negative way too, disposing of such things. "They are here someplace," as he started searching the shadows. There was a good hundred acres of woods and fields in this section.

Honeee had tear stained cheeks and hadn't bothered to wipe them clean when accompanying Andrew and Noir. Anxious was one of the words that would describe her presently as she stepped through the time displacement door with her son and daughter. "Karl," she couldn't help calling out as she shot forward but not too far from her son. She didn't want to worry him or have him chase after her either.

It was instinctive that Noir's hand fall to the hilt of her sword as they stepped through the doorway. She brushed back strands of hair that the breeze caused to tickle her cheeks and looked around. As Honeee started forward, she looked at Andrew and smiled then quickly set off after her. If anyone would know where they were, it would be the Queen.

Karl had not moved from his kneeled position except to ease the weight of the body he carried from his shoulders to the ground. His hand rested on the man's shoulder, sitting on his heels, his head back, his eyes closed. A mist had settled around them, feather-light and gently veiling their skin with moisture. Almost a relief from the deathly, bone-dry existence they had escaped from. He heard his men moving as best they could around him. Vincent and Lazare lowering the man they supported to the ground, then one of them crossing to assist Dana to the comfort of welcoming earth. Even the miniscule droplets on Karl's eyelashes felt a burden, and his eyes remained closed still. He had dreamed of her face, of her touch, of her voice so many, many nights, that when he heard her call to him, he thought he was at first just dreaming again. That his need to be with her, that which had kept him alive and  fighting still these past months even when his body begged for death's release, was yet again, just keeping him filled with the desire to press on. The impending storm off in the distance had silenced their surroundings, and her
voice was so crystal clear to him, and nearer than he had ever imagined it before. His lips managed a smile and he willed her to call to him again, just so he could keep her with him.

"Tis the Queen!" But it was Vincent's voice that would break Karl's fantasy. "She is near." He forced himself to stand, and squinted through the darkness. Surely she had not come alone.  He shouted into the darkness, his voice hoarse and his throat raw with dryness."Here!" Was this yet another mirage to their pleading minds? His hands had raised to cup his mouth to call, and in doing so, he noticed his ring. The Griffin had claimed they were home, and the glow confirmed it, this was no illusion to a dying man's soul. "Call again, we are here!" He forced himself forward, toward the sound of her voice.

Karl shot to his feet, energy returning where it had only just moments before forsaken him. "Vincent, stay with the men." He barked the order, motioning the Dragon back to his comrades as the King strode forward toward the voice  with a determination that none could match. Her call had circled them in this silence, but if she was near, the Black Griffin would go directly to her.

The shadows played tricks in these parts where trees would break into clumps of forest then field again. She heard voices as she turned one way then another. Her gown of ivory white looked surreal in this light. The mist a cooling addition laid like silver spun thread over golden streak hair. Hair that was left unbound reaching her waist. "Karl!" the lilt of her voice would carry as she went flying through the field as if her feet had sprung wings. They had in a way but then the Elf could move so quickly like a breeze, one that barely stirred that which was about her in passing. "Andrew, Noir, over here," she was sure she was making out the form of a man, and hopefully it would be Karl's arms that would surround her soon.

Andrew was swift to follow and ready to defend it they were being mislead. Noir at his side as he spoke on a concern he picked up on, "I think they are hurt, some more than others." He too made out the form of a man but it was uncertain by sight which one it was at this distance. He used his other sense and picked up on his stepfather so didn't stop his mother as she advanced on the misty form that would grow clearer the closer they got.

Trevor pressed on no matter how late it was getting and the need for a respite. His ring glowed even more and knew he was getting closer. The mountains had seen a lot of rain and the ground softened having areas with landslides. So the going was slow as the rains ceased to a mist with yet another storm to threaten in the distance. His horse as weary as the one riding with a hood drawn up. He could sense his healing talents would be needed and so the pressing forward relentlessly with Bannon in tow. The young squire would be learning first hand about perseverance when there was such a need. To push the body beyond its limits when life and death hung in the difference.

Bannon was to the point where he was nearly falling asleep in the saddle when he suddenly got his second wind. Excitement took over and he coaxed his horse to keep moving. He'd feel it all later and his sleep would be likely be deep but right now, nothing else mattered.

Noir nodded when Andrew spoke, her eyes narrowing slightly as she peered through the mist. "You may need to use your abilities then." She said softly as they followed after the Queen. She felt nothing evil and had relaxed a touch  as they neared. And of course, she too, would do all she could.

She was to him at first a spirit, floating in the mist, a graceful vision of flowing white. His chest tightened with the clenching of his heart. His throat constricted with words that forced their way upward, but knotted in his throat. He couldn't run, but his stride never eased as his gait carried him to her, dropping to his knees just before her as he wrapped his arms around her, pressing the side of his face to damp fabric against her hips. "If I have died, My Queen, and you are but an illusion, I pray to whatever God governs this realm that you do not drift away from me. " From the tight hold he had on this woman, even were she spirit, she could not manage to sift away.

Since Vincent was ordered to remain, Carno followed at a good pace behind their liege until he saw the embrace, and then he paused, dropping his gaze and taking a step back. Movement caught his eye, and it was the Crown Prince and his wife that he noticed as he sought out the reason for it. He offered a bow, as best he could with more than one rib that screamed from fracture. "Prince Andrew." He whispered, words barely audible from a throat not used to uttering them lately. "Tis good to see you, as always." Though more so now. He'd smile, but his lips would crack. He'd drop to a knee, but he wasn't so sure he'd make it back up again. "Your Grace." He offered to Noir, even as he remained bowed to Andrew, then slowly, with great effort, straightened. And then, the wetness of breeze brought to him the sound of horse hooves, and lips be damned, he smiled, cracking a crater or two on his mouth, but it was a sound that spoke of brotherhood.

She was not spirit so there was no way for he was holding onto flesh and blood. He would be able to tell by the warmth of her skin and the scent of lilacs that had always been part of her makeup. The strangled words wrought in tears that flowed down her cheeks in a mixture of emotions. "It was thought you were dead but I continued to hope for my heart would die within my breast if you were taken from me." Hands curling into his hair as fingers delve in a hold as sure as the one he had around her waist as she cradled his head to her bosom. "You are hurt m'love.." more a statement than a question as they would need to see what they could do here before getting them back. Karl was probably immune to rift riding by now and that which was not so easily explained in the so called normal world. Her essence gave off healing waves as if will alone coupled with her deep love would restore his health, flesh and bone along with his spirit was it was uplifted with hers.

Andrew kept on moving past where his mother greeted Karl, she had healing powers too that he was sure she would be using. The kind of which would drain a person if there were many that needed of its healing qualities. Luckily that would not be the case. "Lazare, good god man," as he rushed ahead to help the man before he collapsed. A hand moving to pause over his cracked rib. The healing power already started as he asked a few questions, at least the pain should be ebbing. "Is this the worse of it for you and what of the others?" He could sense them near and picked up on agony but hard to tell which was from which.

Trevor and Bannon arrived from the other side, coming upon Vincent, Dana and a couple others as he drove his horse into a gallop to reach them, dismounting before the stallion had completely stopped. "Vincent, Dana.." all he needed to get out as he was quickly over to them, "Bannon, help as you can.."

Noir smiled at Lazare, amazed at the resilience of the man though not totally surprised. He was, after all, one of the king's men. "It's good to see you, Lazare." Her voice was husky as she spoke, eyes bright. The reunion of Karl and Honeee had nearly done her in as it was. She quieted so the man could answer Andrew, though she too, heard the sound of horses.

"Aye, sir." He was quickly down from his horse, grabbing a canteen first of all. "Sir Vincent, Sir Dana, I... " was all he managed to choke out before he was offering out the canteen. He wouldn't trust himself to speak more, not yet.

Karl tugged against the hold on his Queen, the essence of her healing providing him with the strength needed to pull her to his lap as he kneeled back. "I feel no pain." He muttered close to her cheek before he pressed his lips there, cool against the warmth of her flesh. Her scent, the taste of her, the feel of her, her nearness as she enveloped him with love and homecoming, healing of not only the body had begun. Whether he was in pain or no, mattered not at all to him. Indeed, pain was but a physical sensation, and such had been overloaded, taxed to the borders of no return, that he cared little to notice physical discomfort. His soul had been returned to him. And she was now in his arms.

The depth of bones began to knit with Andrew's administrations, not a pleasant feeling, but a necessary one. "Aye, for the most part. A punctured lung, I'm thinking, but I've another." Even that felt as if it meshed and filled again, even as he spoke. "I'm the best of the bunch, in my humble opinion. The other two with Vincent and Dana, they be the hurting ones." A motion of head indicated the two men unconscious on the ground behind them. Carno offered a guarded look to the King and Queen, then along with Andrew and Noir, started back to the others.

Like his brother-in-arms, Vincent felt Trevor's approach even before the man came out of the darkness more into sight. The thud of fist to chest for his comrade was not as hearty as it once had been. "Life is a conscious continuity..." He began, looking to the young squire who crossed toward them. "Mouse." The hard line of jaw, the sharp glint of eye, seemed to ease with the realization that his squire had to ride hard to keep up with Trevor. There was a very slight limp to his step, not to say he was not injured, but Vincent was one more likely to mask his pain than acknowledge it in any way to anyone. Even the large chunks of flesh that had been sliced from his arm, from his chest, the flogging strap marks which had cut and would scar his back in stripes he showed no mention to. He crossed to the now man, once mouse, and, well, gripping him by an arm, pulled him in for an embrace. "My family, Bannon?" But he didn't wait for his reply via words. "Where are we and is your horse too exhausted to take me from this place to my ladies?" It was the Prince of Heathfield, though that ceased his questions, breaking his hold from Bannon to bow to him. "My Liege." He offered to both the prince and his wife, remaining bowed until Andrew moved more fully to them.

Dana couldn't stand at this point, once he was down, he was down. But he dipped his head to the Prince and Princess.

She would envelope them in a white healing aura that spanned a few feet around them. Honeee would take care of her King. Andrew and Noir could help his esteem men as well the two loyal guards that had stayed with Karl into the uncharted woods filled with beasts of an ethereal kind. Later they could tell their tale of what happened over those ten months or more before they escaped the devil's playground. Tears ran silently down her cheek that nestled against his, she could just squeeze him to death but that would not do. Instead, she soaked him in on many levels especially as lips found his, his finding hers and one that traversed a year's worth of missing him, of loving him. Her heart swelling in her chest that it was amazing she could still breathe. "I will take you home by means of the rift and see to your healing for as long as it takes." Lips parting long enough to soft spoken words before they devoured his once again. At least his weren't cracked! She also knew he would heal not taking a long time for there was one thing about Karl, he was duty bound not to be bound to a bed until he was better. So better he would become quicker.

Trevor embraced Vincent but he left a bit of moss behind that would begin its traveling to sores and wounds where flesh had been parted to make new flesh. A little trick he had learned and his comrade would not be aware until later when he took his clothes off and found the layering of moss covering his body! Wouldn't Julia be surprised?  Leaving Vincent to Bannon as he was over to work on Dana. Possibly he would not be as stubborn that he needed alternate ways.

With Lazare on the mend, he guided Noir with him to see to the two unconscious ones as Trevor was seeing to Vincent and Dana. "There will be ones arriving soon if your horse is not too worn to leave Vincent to ride him back.." It was a suggestion as he further warned. "When the Wards went off we came as quickly as possible so your wife knows not you are alive, Vincent." A hand giving a clasp to Vincent's shoulder as he remained bowing even under these circumstances, the hand straightening him with a gentle but strong ease. He was also aware of a healing moss growing but said nothing, giving only a glance Trevor's way. Later he would let out the good hearty laugh! "See to it and them, you will heal fast as the Warrior you are, Sir Vincent," and the moss... there was the moss! He was over to help with the unconscious men and best they were for the type of healing Andrew performed. Some got spooked by it but really what he did was put their natural healing abilities to work at their best performance which most were only in tune to about five percent of that capability.

He would have to explain to Noir about the moss! "Welcome back, Vincent. The joy that fills us will be felt tenfold by Julia when she sees you again." And hopefully she'd not faint when he found her. She smiled at Bannon before moving with Andrew to assist him with the two men. In a day or two, the king's field would be a different place than it had been of late

"Your family is well. Lady Julia is sad but she hides it as best she can. And you won't believe how big the twins are." He waited until everyone had moved on to answer. "We pressed the horses to arrive here as quickly as possible so I'm not certain how tired mine is." He lowered his voice. "I watched over Lady Julia and the girls as best I could. I ... it's hard to say how glad I am right now." He felt like he was babbling and fell silent again, though he finally smiled.

Although Vincent was no longer embracing the younger man, he was well aware of him. He stood with Andrew's permission. "She does not know? Aye, then, I would wish to remedy that as soon as I am able, Andrew." His back had begun to itch, and he shifted beneath the torn, worn, grime-laden weight of his shirt in an attempt to ease that feeling. It just seemed to spread instead. "Thank you." As soon as the others arrived, Vincent would be gone. Leaving Dana, Carno, Karl and the other men to the healers, he had his own healing to see to which would be better served in a particular chamber back at the castle. Amazing how just the presence of these they knew, and the knowledge that they were home, and all would soon return to 'normal' pumped them with energy they had just moments before been depleted of.

Karl's voice lowered, not that he needed to, there were none near, but because he and his wife were wrapped so close, one to the other. "Let us away, then, My Queen." He wished now only to be back in the castle walls, bathed, salved, a moment to greet his children, then to mend ... and hold tight to the one that had, even with her absence, rescued him, rescued them all since she kept Karl pushing them with his need to return to her.

It would be another hour before the wagons came, men and extra horses. Bannon's horse might well be refreshed enough before the others arrived. Andrew could feel Vincent's anxiety, his need to be with the woman he loved. He knew his love for Noir and couldn't fathom such a separation. They would load the two guards onto the wagons, as well Lazare and Dana unto another. He noticed that his mother and the King were gone and knew they had taken the short cut. Vincent, was gone as well at this point.

That kiss was like no other as in the depth of it she had opened the rift for them to take right to their chambers. A bath would be drawn for him which she would see to his soaking and cleaning then a light respite would be sent up for his physical nourishment while she saw to all his other needs once the need of any staff help was no longer.

"You did a good job Bannon," they would ride back together alongside the wagons. "In a couple weeks time, I'm sure the King will see to your knighting." Which was what the mouse had wanted that had grown into a Lion before them.



Date: 06-19-10
Poster: Vincent deBeauvais
Post # 8

The Dragon's Return

Julia had gotten use to the chambers they were granted in the castle. West Wing, Third Floor, away from the rowdy knights and their hall on the first floor. The twins were getting bigger every day as she kept up a good, smiling even, front for them. They had only been a little over a year old and so questions had not come on their father missing as much. He was away seeing to his king. Her heart was another matter for all she and Vincent had been through together, this was the most unexpected and hardest thing to accept, that he was gone along with his king and two of his comrades. He was gone, was the main part she was struggling to adjust to. Niklas had her laugh when he brought her the fancy feathered hats, even more feathers than she would have picked. She laughed till she cried and had to excuse herself to her room. She knew she left him standing there confused and he was good about it, staying with his nieces until the nanny took over and he quietly left. Julia had locked herself in her room. She later made up for it and Niklas had been forgiving, he too was missing his friends and king. She was not the only one hurting. Tonight had been a pleasant evening as the two were finally put to bed for the night. This was the hardest part of the day for her, the time to herself ... without him. The latter becoming more pronounced as she did what she usually did, stared out the window of the antechamber knowing she would not find sleep for some time.

There was no waiting where Vincent was concerned. Bannon's horse may have been exhausted, but Vincent had jerked Carno (no matter his discomfort) from what recovery may be underway on his part and ordered him to see to the horse. Considering the source, it was an order, but Lazare knew it was more a plea to be on his way. So it was for Julia first, and Vincent next, that Air was breathed into the nostrils of the beast, allowing it to revive and carry the knight back to Heathfield Castle on speeding hooves. Never once did it slow, and even at unrelenting journey's end the horse was not winded nor tired. The stable hands would have their hands full with the energy still flowing through this particular mammal tonight. Vincent, on the other hand, fought a mighty battle between exhaustion and the need to see, to be with, to hold Julia. As he dismounted and began the climb up the steps toward the entry, that dark gaze lifted to the antechamber window. The one he knew she watched the field from, the one he felt her in even now. Morning had tinted the previous darkness with a faint red glow, or was it the fire that drove him to her even now. Either way, that soft maroon light filtered over her features, causing the step of the King's Man to falter. Sweet God of Mercy, for surely there must be one, for even now just the sight of her caused his heart to surge, his blood to throb in waves of molten lava through his veins. Satan himself would not have been able to keep the Dragon from his lair and the woman within it at this point. Men were racing forth when they heard of the arrival, the King had already been rumored to be back, bolted away behind locked doors to heal. But rather than stepping out to greet the returning warrior, they all kept a safe distance, relief perhaps of the return, of knowing all would return, but daring not to cross the path of such determination. Not with this man. He strode up the winding stairs, up and up until there was nothing left to bar him from his destination but the heavy door which sealed off the chamber from the castle corridor. He tried the latch, found it locked as it should be, and pounded once with the side of his fist. "Julia deBeauvais!"

Eyes had drifted closed, tears dried upon her cheeks that had been shed as she slept sitting up, propped there at the window. It was not the first night this happened. Such had startled the chambermaid that came in to find here there like a ghost when expected to be in her bed. It all started the week after the horsemen didn't come back for surely everyone thought they would come back with their king. The men who had always conquered, who always came back with few wounds for any battles seen. Chin was tucked against her chest, the rooms in silence bearing the only witness to her continual distress. That was until the earth shattered and thunder struck in her semiunconscious state, jolting her up so fast she fell to the floor with a thud of entangled limbs and a mind trying to wake. Wake she did in realizing it was not thunder at all but her name being bellowed this hour just before the dawn. She didn't bellow back for the children still slept but got herself up and over to the door to unlatch. Struggling with that for her sleepy state and the length of blond hair that got in her way. No longer short but near down to her waist again after these three years. Frustrated as the latch decided to be stubborn, "hold on knave!" thinking it one of the delivery lads with something she had ordered and forgotten about. Finally it gave way as she swung it over, one hand pulling her night shift closer about her so nothing was exposed. She had that rumpled look about her and something else one that knew her well would see in her eyes, a ghosted look of someone in mental pain. It would be hard for anyone to imagine her shock but certainly Vincent would see that. "If I am still dreaming let it remain forever," came muttered under her breath before a hand shot out to knock against what seemed a solid form, there against his chest.

An eternity could have passed by the time he finally heard her voice, hoarse with sleep, and the metal grinding of the latch being drawn. He stood firm against her blow, dark eyes taking in the sleep disheveled beauty of her. "Aye, wife, is just what I plan to do, hold on. Though Knave I have not been called in some time." As quick as a warrior's practiced hand can be, he caught hold of her wrist where her hand had delivered that test and delivered her fully to the chest she had just knocked. A firm, never-yielding embrace. "I told you once to lock the door against me...and that was only for that once, Julia." His words were gruff, in classic Vincent fashion, but his eyes betrayed the sound of them, the feelings he had for her raw and evident in that dark gaze. With her against him, he stepped them inside the chamber and used the back of his boot heel to close the door behind them.

She remembered his reference though it didn't really apply here as it was normal to latch the doors at night. She had strength beyond what had been sleepy as she clung to him in a vice grip, "you are real, you have returned to me. I pray the others have as well." But she was not lasting in her desire as one of fire heated her within like no other ever could. The pulse of which throbbed in her ears as her arms when tight around his neck and her lips sealed his beneath while he kicked the door closed behind them. At this moment, there was only her desire and his that needed attention. Demanded its time and tribute.

No dashing knight in shining armor. No. He was battle filthy, bloodied and covered in sweat and grime, but still, Julia was his and at the moment, none of that mattered to him. She was in his arms, those arms sliced and scored to weaken him body and spirit. Yet, here he was, where he was told he would never be again, with her against him, with her lips pressed with the hunger of passion against his. There was no moving from this spot. He lowered them both to the floor, draping her to sit across his kneeling lap while he tasted what he feared he would never again. Yes, Vincent de Beauvais had feared. And greatly. For this woman was the only one that had ever caused him to hope and thus, had given all a weapon against him that could lay him low and at the same time, provide him with the strength to endure. His fingers laced in the heavy silk of her hair, tightening in his grip to hold on, as she had directed. To hold fast. To take all she offered, to match and offer in return all that he was. For all that he was, was only found with her.

Tears of joy finally replaced the ones of sorrow as their kisses only deepened, "love" being heard with a needed drawn breath that briefly had her lips from his before they were back to drink deeply. Fingers roamed as hands moved as if assuring her he was real, in her arms, in his arms, the strength leaving her legs as they went down to a more sitting position. "Missed you," dragged out but the way she kissed he would know all the words aside the ones to escape. The scent of blood that filled her air passage had her worried more than the manly scent she was use to on him. Finally she could wait no longer in the asking, "are you hurt? Shall I draw a bath and tend to you?"

When the contact of their kiss was forsaken in lieu of words, his lips sought hers out, though in vain. Her words, so lovingly spoken, caused a frown at first, then he nodded. A bath would definitely be appreciated and Julia's attentions while bathing would always be a favorite of this particular warrior. He growled deeply at first, wanting her yet at the same time now, wanting her with him not such an affront to any senses. "With your hands to see to me, Wife, I suffer not at all." He leaned in, to steal one last kiss for now, then helped her to ease up, struggling to his own feet after. He held her gaze a moment, that contact broken only because he tugged his shirt over his head to toss it aside. And behold, the Moss-man of Heathfield! Trevor's efforts at healing had spread from back to arms and chest, managing to begin the process of healing to all the deeply gashed flesh.

He had brought life back into her. The kiss sought and lingered for the withheld fierceness otherwise. Need filled her but so did her duty as Wife and wanting to be of service. Something she could give him of her love. It was when he took off his shirt, as she even helped that a startled cry left her lips and that fraction of doubt her husband had really come back but some kind of moss creature in his stead. "What, what is that??" stepping back as one hand pointed and the other to her lips to muffle any more outbursts like .. ewwwww...

"What?" Confusion masked over his features as he looked at her finger, then down to his chest. His hand lifted to weave his fingers through the matt of moss on his chest. And Vincent De Beauvais ... laughed! His grip tightened, he tugged, but the healing had begun and there would be no relenting until the process was completed. He looked to Julia, laughter still rumbling in his chest as he shook his head. "That, My Love, is Trevor's attempt at healing. And I'm sure, he is enjoying what he imagines is my reaction to such." Another light pull, knowing it would do no good, not even really wanting to remove the covering because Vincent knew healing would be quick now thanks to his comrade. "Though, we may not want to water it too much, lest it spread out of control." He chuckled some more, slanting a palm down his arm in amused appreciation of Cairns' ingenuity.

"A very strange poultice indeed." But she found laughter to mingle with his as he wasn't some creature from the Black Lagoon come to taunt her. "Ja, I was wondering what might happen if moss got dampened." If Vincent showed up on the king's field tomorrow, which she suspected that he would at least go to show with the others, that they were back and whole. "Let me see to any needs then that you have and the bath can wait." Wondering how the moss would leave once the healing was done? She noticed he couldn't tug it off.

"No." He shook his head, leading her by the hand toward the bathing chamber. "No, I was thinking, perhaps you'd be joining me in that bath, and then, let come what may." No doubt the stuff would just slough off when it no longer had a reason to hold firm to its place. Hopefully, that is. Vincent had no sure way of knowing. This was a first for him. If he had been exhausted upon arrival, Julia's welcome home was enough to revive and excite him to do whatever it was she would have of him. It was more than good to be, yes, home. He had heard it said home is where the heart is. A saying that always seemed superficial and ridiculous to a man that had a vow, a honorable duty, an allegiance. That was what 'heart' was. Loyalty. A brotherhood. Then. But now? Now, he could embrace the concept, and did wholeheartedly.

"Taking a bath with you is a good idea." The bath would help to revive her from the lack of sleep that had accumulated over the past too many months. Eyeing him speculatively as they adjourned to the bathing room. Wondering too just how far that moss had spread. There was some humor to be found, "I could use you as a sponge.." not really sure how her fingers would feel sliding against that which covered his skin. The best thing, was it was healing him. "How bad were the wounds?" And she would make a mental note to thank Trevor in his unusual way of mending, but mend it would her warrior knight. Of course once done with the bath he could heat himself up so it all fell off, dried up and whatnot. Once to the room she was quick to see about pouring that bath for them. At least it didn't need to be hot to start with her husband's ability; he could make it so rather than wait tediously for water to boil.

Just one of the many advantages of his special ... talents. "The physical wounds are nothing compared to the thought we may not return ... I may not return." Off came the boots, down came the britches. With nothing that needed mending there, the moss had only spread to the curve of his spine. He stepped a foot in the tub, steam lifted in a veil of warmth. "I've always a liking for a good idea." A dark brow twitched up with invitation. "Come join me in this good idea, and we'll not talk again until the water cools." Which may be a long ... long ... very long time, considering.

"The thought of you never returning would have a part of me dying," which she admitted to. The sight was rather different, like a moss armor coat. Intriguing in a way, one that would probably, hopefully, never be need of repeating. Her nightshift was easily left behind as she joined him in the tub. Time to make up for far too many months being separated as only two in love could.

Date: 08-07-10
Poster:  Lahoneee
Post # 9

Dearest Queen Lahoneee,

You receive this letter hopefully in good health and spirits, but I will keep my requests brief. Recently there have been additions to mine family, and I respectfully request to have them made official. The first is the adoption of the daughter of my now passed sister. She is mine daughter in heart and mind, but have wishes to secure her place within my home by formal adoption. The second is that I wish to share my surname with Karina Streetborn, thus naming her Karina Baltimore. When it pleases, audience regarding these two matters would be most appreciated.
Vanessa R. Baltimore


Honeee had received the petition, read it over and then had it sent to her Barrister, David Frasier. She would grant both. The first account adoption of the infant, was a heartbreaking story she had learned of. Little didn't she know even if she was not seen by some. The second was also fine by her as long as the recipient freely wished to take on the surname. Two documents would be drawn up and signed in her office of the castle and sealed with her ring to make them law. This would take place the evening of this day in August, sixth, that David was summoned to her office, doing it in the evening so all could see to their normal daily business or matters of such concern. One of the squires was sent to the Avian gardens earlier that day when all was set with Mister Frasier. The evening turned out to be another warm one with an earlier shower. The rains were good, far enough between as to not cause rotting of the crops. The windows were left open with the light breeze to tease the sheers, having them billow, ripple and flow like angels' wings. Sun streaked hair was done up off her neck but ever would tendrils come loose to tease down past her shoulders to trickle over a gown of midnight blue with embroidered hems of silver threads forming intricate Celtic knots entwined with ivy. This office was on the first floor and the guards at the door alerted to escort Vanessa and Karina in when they arrived. There was another set of guards stationed outside her office's closed doors where the first pair would bring them to before taking their leave.

David's family would have been pleasantly surprised had they seen David this night. His hair was nearly pulled back, his beard trimmed, and his suit pressed. He had arrived not long after the sun had set, carrying the necessary documents for the Queen to look over. He seemed to barely notice the warmth that still lingered, though he did enjoy the breeze that caused the curtains to dance. While they waited, he read over the papers again, or answered any questions the Queen might have.

Vanessa had spent the afternoon calmly fussing over Ysa once word was received that the Queen was going to see to her petitions. News of course that she shared with Karina as soon as she found out. The afternoon spent preparing before they were all packed up for the journey to the castle. Vanessa was ecstatic. Both to have Ysa's adopting made final and to be sharing her surname with Karina. She hoped of course that Karina was just as happy about it and had checked more than once through the day to make sure she was really alright with all of this. Upon arrival at the castle, the group of females left their ride and were met for escort to where the Queen awaited them. Vanessa's attire was simple, though a bit more than she normally wore these days, a cream colored dress with light green patterns of embroidered vines and flowers. Ysa was in a light pink jumper with matching bonnet.

Karina would be happy about it indeed... once it was all over and done with. For now she was fidgeting in a borrowed dress of fine pale yellow, its cut lower in the bosom and tighter at the waist than she preferred, but a meeting with the Queen meant nicer garb required. "Oh bloody hell," muttered as she tripped some; its hem was a tad long on her too. Karina was always nervous around nobles and royalty was the ultimate of intimidating. She still tended to harbor that paranoia that the people here would discover all her foul doings of the past, and throw her right out of Heathfield. So she was a bit tense as she tugged up the ends of her dress and walked along with Vanessa and their escort. Her head of thick curls had been tamed back with a couple of silver combs, then gathered into a bun at the nape of her neck, and she kept reaching up to tug an escaped ringlet or two.

Honeee had David to arrive about a half hour earlier than the ladies were expected. It gave her time to go over the two documents as would be expected of her. She didn't see any problem as both were straightforward and details were already known to support the petition under each given. Once the two arrived at the office doors, one of the guards stepped inside to announce them before he was back outside to open the door to allow their entry. This office as not as big as some and so held a more relaxed atmosphere. A low fire burned in the hearth mostly of peat for castles tended to keep a chill about them with all that stone. The furniture was all finely handcrafted consisting of cherry in this particular office. The plush cushions of deep wine hue. There was a table where the papers rested to be gone over and signed respectively as needed. There was also another smaller side table that had an assortment of drinks and some finger foods. Pates and flaky fruit filled pastries. She had met both briefly at a Christmas function with a lot going on at the time. This would be the first they got to meet her more one on one. If they had not noticed they may well now note that she was very Fae looking. Elven in that glow about her skin that humans didn't possess. Her ears were not pointed but if one inspected them closely they were slightly tapered. She was a lot younger looking than her years as well, part of the Sylvan Elf heritage. A smile readily lifted, natural type and certainly not forced, as she was over to take Vanessa's free hand in hers, "I'm pleased you were able to make it tonight, Vanessa," easing her hands away as she took up Karina's next, "as well you, Karina." The touch was reassuring and she had that relaxing quality about her like her oldest son. "Come meet his Lordship David Frasier, he is our Barrister and has prepared the documents for you to look over and sign upon your approval." Which she had stepped aside and towards the table where he stood near the documents.

David had been standing before the guard announced the arrival of the two women. He turned toward the door, smiling. Dressed in a suit of gray linen with a shirt of darker hue, and a silk tie, he presented a proper picture of a Barrister. When he was introduced by the Queen, he bowed. "Ladies, it's a pleasure to meet you. I trust you'll find everything in order, and if you have any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer." He motioned to the papers. While Vanessa would be the sole signer on the paper to adopt the child, Karina would need to sign the other along with her.

Ysa was balanced on her hip, she smiled over to Karina. "Take a deep breath. The royals are people too." Her arm wrapped around Karina's for the walk in a reassuring manner and a smile. Reaching the study, she nodded to the guards and entered when announced. A proper curtsey to the Queen before giving her free hand to the woman's. A smile. "It is a pleasure to see you again, Majesty." She looked to Karina and smiled, then turned attention to David as he was introduced. A nod given to the man. "A pleasure to meet you, Lord Frasier. Thank you both for taking the time for these documents." She greatly appreciated it.

Right. She was completely calm, cool and collected. She gave Vanessa a tight nod before they were escorted into the study. Seeing Van out of the corner of her eye, she too dropped a curtsy, slightly awkward before her hands were taken by the Queen herself. She bowed her head and nodded to Honeee's words, letting Van do most of the talking here, since she was so much better at it. Eyes shifted to David with another nod of greeting. Then she was looking around the room with some measure of curiosity. She'd only set foot in the Castle a handful of times and certainly had never seen any of these rooms.

Honeee had nine children and the youngest was now older as she was drawn to the little one. "Will you let me hold Ysa while you see to the papers?" She respected if one did not wish another to hold their child, be she a Queen or not. One of the guards stood inside the door while the others were here, "Sir Jason, please go to the nursery and bring me one of the middle sized teddy bears and one of the many dolls. Not too big mind you, I think little ones find them more scary than appealing. One no taller than a foot." The guard was use to being sent for odd things like this as he bowed his head and disappeared. He would return in about ten minutes with the requested items. These were set on the table at the end closest to the door.

Children were somewhat outside of David's expertise and he smiled at the youngster but remained standing out of the way. He winked at Karina to reassure her when she looked her way then moved to the hearth and stood there as he waited patiently. A nod was given to Sir Jason as the man left.

Ysa was busy looking around, chewing on the doll that had been brought to her by King Peter. When asked, Van looked to Ysa then back to Honeee with a smile. "Sure." Ysa was offered out with a giggle from the child. Once taken, Van took Karina by the hand and walked to the table with her. "Thank you, Lord Frasier. I'm sure everything drawn up is as it should be." Of course she'd read it, but she figured it was as it should be.

She caught that wink from David and flashed him a grateful albeit short-lived grin. Watching the Queen with Ysa, she was almost wary, but there was something about Lahoneee that suggested she could be trusted. Although any trust from Karina was hard-earned and only over time. And over to the table she went with Van! Glancing down at the papers which of course, could have been written in Sanskrit for all she could tell.

Honeee had a naturing appeal about her as she took up the little girl. Of course Ysa would notice Honeee's earrings that dangled giving off a prism of light from the various delicate jewels. Now she would have a teddy along with another doll that were collected up. A little girl couldn't ever have enough dolls. She would fuss over her as she moved to the thick rug in front of the hearth, back far enough of course, to sit with her right on the floor as she told stories about the teddy and the new dolly that would be a friend for her other dolly. This would give them time to go over the papers, and sign them before she was needed and they would have that bit of privacy, not feeling one was looking over their shoulder, in the interim.

After a moment, once everyone was settled, David moved to the table to help himself to coffee. He paused to look at the ladies. "Would any of you like something?" He'd serve them so they could continue to do what they were doing. If not, he'd continue to enjoy the coffee.

Seating herself next to Karina, she pulled the papers closer to read over them. She read first over the adoption papers for Ysa. It didn't take her long to look it over, then she looked over the document that entailed having Karina's legal surname changed to Baltimore. Though no one else knew, Van had picked up that Karina couldn't actually read. Leaning in close, she read to Karina what was written on the document so that she would understand what was there, without making it overly obvious, for Karina's comfort.

Karina seated herself next to Van, but let her eyes wander while her friend read over the papers. She'd just have to trust that Vanessa would look for anything funny in the documents, though she guessed they would be fairly straight forward. It was a surprise when Van leaned over and quietly began reading. Eyes shot back to her friend, lingering there a second. A bit of embarrassment mixed with gratitude at Van's discretion mixed. Then she focused to listen,  nodding every now and then to show she understood.

Perhaps it was the very reason Honeee had moved away with Ysa. She had taken her up into her arms again and over to the window to look out over the ocean and the lighthouse that could seen on the far end. Ships silhouetted against a sky not much lighter than their blackness. Some had lights that moved steadily towards or away from the port. Once she figured they had read the documents, found no faults, she was back over as she would press her ring into wax by her name decreeing them legal in the lands and sister lands and all who respected her government. Ysa would be handed back over to Vanessa before that process along with an extra dolly and teddy bear.

David had gone to another window and found himself smiling as he glanced at the Queen and Ysa. When she moved back to the table, he had finished his coffee and placed the cup down. There was little for him to say if they had no questions though he'd be signing the papers as well. Sir Jason would be asked to sign as a witness.

Once the document had been read to Karina and she agreed, Van signed the adoption document and then the document for the change of Karina's last name and took Ysa back and settle her on her lap. While Karina was signing the document van reached into a pocket of her dress and withdrew a small black box and set it on the table for Karina with a smile.

Everything seemed to make sense and Karina lifted up the quill, poising it over the line where her name was supposed to go before scrawling a 'K' and then a random line after that. It was the best she could do for a signature. She looked at the paper a moment longer, feeling the gravity of the moment weighing heavily, but it was a good weight. She had become something of a new person in her time here in these lands... but now it was official. Now she really could be just another ordinary person, with home and family and proper name. She was stirred from her reverie when Van set a box down. "What's this?" And she moved quickly over when the Queen stepped over to seal the documents.

One of the staff waitress came in to serve them any of the finger foods, coffee, wine, potcheen punch or anything they wished, cookies offered to Ysa or the little flaky pastries, whichever Vanessa wished her to have. There was a duplicate of each document so both signed and recorded, one to be filed in the Barrister's office while the matching pair went home with Vanessa.

Once the papers were signed and tended to, David took the original and placed into a special folder. "Congratulations, Miss Baltimore." He smiled at Karina again, "And to you also, Lady Vanessa." He bowed to the Queen. "If you no longer need me, I'll be off to see these papers to my office before I retire for the night."

Ysa was given some cookies, Van looked over to Karina and smiled. "It's a gift. All Baltimores get one. Either born or married or..adopted into the family." She had one. All of her family did. Smiling to David, she nodded. "Thank you, Lord Frasier, again. I appreciate you taking the time to help us." Then to Honeee. "And you, Majesty. Thank you as well."

It took her a moment to realize that David was referring to her as Miss Baltimore. That would take some getting used to, but she managed to nod in time before he took his leave. "Aye, thanks.." Eyes shifted to Vanessa then and she went quiet at her friend's words. Reaching for the box she opened it up to see the gleaming cross-shaped pendant nestled inside the velvet. Lifting the item gingerly to hand, she flipped it over, finger running over the engraving on the back. She recognized only a few letters but could guess that it spelled out her new name. "Wow.. thank you.." She was touched almost speechless so just gave Vanessa a hug instead. And Ysa too since Van was holding her at this point!

"Thank you for coming this late, Lord Frasier and seeing to this matter for me." Giving him a warm smile as she would not detain him any longer. The guard outside the door would see to his retainer. Turning back to the ladies. "Congratulations to you both on both matters. If you have need of me, you know where I can be found," giving the impish smile she was noted for. "One of the guards outside will see you safely back to your home." As she suspected they had walked, she would have for it was not a great distance and the night very pleasant. She would walk them out part of the way before going to see her two youngest to tuck into bed and probably Lydia would want a story read or made up by her mother from days of old. Quiet smile for Karina's reaction to the pendant given her by Vanessa.

"It is my pleasure to serve, your Majesty." He didn't mind no matter the time, especially for something like this. "Good night to you all." He stepped out and was gone before the ladies left.

She returned the hug and smiled. "You're welcome. I think perhaps we should go to the Thistle and celebrate. What do you think?" Her attention drawn to the Queen, she nodded and slowly stood. "Thank you. I hope to see you again soon Majesty."

"I think that sounds great." Pulling back to give Vanessa a crooked smile, and she fastened the necklace around her neck then and there. Likely not to take it off again for awhile at least. She came to her feet when the Queen made her way out. "Thanks, thank you..." Another little curtsy dipped but this time Karina managed a little grin.



Date: 10-12-10
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 10

Heathfield Port - Crooked Goose


Peter tracked down Henna at the Orphanage and luckily she was done with her needs there by the time he arrived. He had dressed down like he said he would, borrowing clothes from one of the gardeners. Baggy brown pants with some tears that were mended and grass stains that would never come out no matter how many scrubbings. A plaid cotton shirt of browns and reds, with a scarf tied around his neck in the loose way they wore them. Hair was tied back at the nape of his neck with a leather strap. There was something about his chisel looks that nothing could cover up. He did his best with a smuge or two and went unshaven. He would leave Henna to lead him to the exact place this woman worked at.

Henna had been helping to clean one of the rooms, so her dress was a simple one, made of gray cotton, with quarter length sleeves. Her hair had been pulled back into a braid and though she knew Mary, she decided to remain as she was. She was delighted to see Peter dressed as he was, though it would still be hard for him to hide that regal demeanor. "You look perfect." She chuckled as she grabbed her cloak, and they started for the docks. It was one of those lovely autumn days where the breeze played with those leaves that had fallen, sending them dancing down the streets. They left the commons and were soon walking through the dock area.

"Aye? Peter the Gardener but I do feel to pose as a warrior would be more appropriate. Except a warrior may intimidate her from what you said of the woman." At least the impression  he got when she spoke of her. One of those high strung, afraid of her own shadow and would have a tendency to exaggerate any story to support her reactions. Still, one could not be certain and hence here he was. "You don't come down to the port that often... by yourself, Henna?" Sliding a glance her way with a slight raise of his brows. It was not his place but there was the safety factor and he was sure her mother would not approve, not alone anyway. His stride not quite as long as normal so it would be one comfortably to match hers as they headed down from the commons.

"No, I don't come down here at all. Mary told me where she works in case the twins were adopted." Which was going to happen soon. She offered him a dimpled smile, tipping her head slightly. "It's nice to know you care, Peter." She glanced at a group of sailors who walked by then at Peter. "Though I definitely wouldn't come down here without an escort." Just to make herself feel safer, she moved closer to Peter.

The Sailors started to look, how could they not with such a beautiful woman but soon as they saw Peter with her, there was something about him that almost had them suck in a breath for the hard look their way. He would bode no words from them even like they tended to make comments. They knew it immediately and even changed their path to avoid them both. The empowered sword still hung from his belt as his left hip, this he would not leave behind no matter the guise. "I am relieved to hear it. Most of the sailors about the port are not from these lands but others and you don't know how they will behave. Most go in groups of three or more too." Which would have a lone lady outnumbered right there. They were getting down towards the docks and the many rows of businesses. The majority of them being taverns, some inns as well. The Blue Marlin looked majestic compared to the others.

"I know and I've been warned enough." Dark eyes held a hint of mischief as she watched the sailors leave. She studied the taverns then pointed to one at the end of the docks. It was probably one of the worse there, though not as bad as those in the back alleys. A sign proclaimed it as the Crooked Goose, one showing a goose with a crooked neck. "There is where she works." She frowned slightly as she studied the place. Maybe she'd see to another job for the woman. Even the castle kitchens would be better than the tavern.

"Crooked Goose..." more mussed under his breath as she pointed it out. "I wonder sometimes where they come up with these names." He caught her looking, and frowning and guessed her thoughts, "if she is a decent woman, insisting she move her location should not be too hard. She may well feel trapped where she is and tired of the manhandling she would get in a tavern like this." No matter how strict the Keeper was, the deed would be done before the one was thrown out. Usually ended up in an all out brawl so the woman usually took the pinches instead of having her boss loose business over her. He advanced on the door only to open it up as two came out stumbling right towards Henna. That was until he was quick to pull her to his side and missed the collision.

"Aye, and she seems to be. Just world weary. I know she feels guilt about the twins." Certain a job could be found for her, she started forward with Peter, letting out a squeak of surprise at the two. She looked up at Peter and smiled warmly. "Thank you." Inside the tavern was dimly lit, the window covered with years of grime, the floor had a layer of rushes that looked to need replacing and the sconces were filled with foul smelling oil.

Nothing looked clean in this place, food scraps on the tables and one even had a rat that jumped up to grab a scrap before dashing away into the shadows. A hand curled around her upper arm to keep her close, "I think it safest at the bar." Words came low by her ear as certainly she was being eyed up in a lecherous way by a few dirty looking sailors, not the kind you wanted to meet in an alley during full daylight. The kind that would be better off with their throats slit before they accosted another woman or murdered a fellow sailor to steal his coins. There was no way they could order cider in the place like this as they approached the bar. Something hard core would be better suited.

She nodded agreement with Peter, more determined to see Mary working elsewhere. Once at the bar, she eyed the tender, chin lifting slightly. He was watching them approach and when they finally reached the bar, he straightened.  Even he knew that the two weren't common folks. "Wha' kin I d' fer ye?" He was missing a tooth and had a thick scar on his cheek. "We're looking for Mary." Henna told him, her voice determined. The man scratched at his neck then called out the woman's name. A moment later, Mary came from the kitchen. She was possibly in her twenties and still had her looks, though she was pale in the way of one who didn't get enough sun. When she saw Henna, it took all she could to keep from curtsying. She was eyeing Peter until the tender spoke. "Go ta th' back room. An' ye best not be in trouble." Mary gave the tender a look. "I'm not in trouble. Didn't do anything wrong." She lifted her chin and led them out of the common room into one of the rooms used for card games.

"Aye, a back room would do for our talk," sliding a silver coin to the bartop to keep the Keeper happy. He was quick to take it up and hide it away so that no one saw he had that much. He was good at that for years of practice and a few beatings that had him parted with his money. Mary didn't want any trouble so was quick to lead them away down a long hall that led to another room. One could wonder what it was used for. More ornate than the rest of the tavern, so much so it looked out of place completely. Couches were lush with a red velvet fabric that must have cost the Keeper a pretty penny but obviously worth it to him. He waited until the door was closed with a look given Henna to start being she knew the woman. Even in rags Peter proved a rugged handsome figure.

"Mary, this is Peter and he'd like to ask you a few questions." She took hold of the woman's hand as she spoke. "You're not in any trouble, but there's a concern we have and it's important we find out what we can." She would talk to her about a job at the castle after Peter asked his questions.

"There is a small purse for your trouble too," which he handed right over to her. "I only need to know all that you know about the shipwreck that left the twins orphans. Being it will be second hand information, the survivor spoken of, where I might find him and his name. This is important in keeping these lands safe and a few of its prominent families." He could add more as sienna eyes rested fully upon hers and would await her answer to the questions thus far.

The money would help loosen her tongue as much as anything. though Henna's being there helped.  Mary looked at Peter then nodded. "I don't know much, but that they were attacked by a pirate ship. The lad that spoke to me said he heard the Captain shouting it were Black Beard himself, one of the Unholy Trio that was attackin' and to prepare for a great battle. He said the man had no mercy, even slit a few throats. The lad's name be Jamie Bartholomew. He did work here but lately he's been loading ships. Makes more money and he's supporting his widowed mother and four siblings." She had tucked the purse away. "Don't know more'n that but he's a good lad. Never been one to tell tales."

"So the lad is here at the docks. We'll find him and you have been a great help. I would, at this time, propose to you a job change as this place cannot be the best of times." More like the worse of times, all the time. "If you can cook and clean, I can get you a job in the kitchen at the castle that serves the knights. From there, depending on how you do, you may get into the castle staff directly if you'd like that. You seem to be a decent woman and not for the likes of the Port." Which she knew her life was always on the line and always looking over her shoulder.

Henna had stayed standing beside Mary the whole time, never saying a word. With the offer from Peter, she nodded at Mary when she looked her way. The young woman blinked several times before her eyes filled with tears. "Aye, I can cook and clean. I'm a hard worker too, and not afraid to get me hands dirty." She looked from Peter to Henna and back. "I can mend and darn too." She had never considered she'd have a chance to escape this life and wanted it desperately.

"You may well get some mending and darning after hours in the kitchen as many a knight can't do it for themselves and they've no woman to tend to them of the like. Finish your day here then head up to the castle, tell them King Peter send you. There will be a guard to escort you there." So now she knew his identity but it also gave his words credence too. "I'm sure the Keeper here can find another to work for him." Probably had a few others, paying them less a piece than he'd have to if they worked all the time. Which also kept them poor. Turning to Henna, "shall we take a trip to Bovee's?" If anyone knew all the working dockhands and their whereabouts it would be Andre or Pierre of Bovee Shipping.

Henna hugged Mary, then allowed her to compose herself. Mary then turned to Peter and smiled through her tears. "I know he can. Thank you, your Majesty, your Highness. You'll not regret this. Thank you." The rest of her shift would likely go slow for her. Henna smiled as Mary left then looked at Peter. "Thank you. And yes, that's a very good idea." She was anxious to get away from the strong smells of onions cooking, stale ale and all the other smells associated with such a place.

He noticed a back door from the lounge, with a slight upnod to indicate his direction before starting that way. The door locked from the inside so once out and closed, it would be locked again. He held it for her before out in her wake leaving the door to close. Once more he was at her side, a hand to curl against her upper arm in escort. There were enough sailors about, wagons and surreys moving through the streets, people bustling along, some of couples and families heading to catch a ship or coming from one. A lot of sailors amongst them as well sidewalk vendors. Another time he'd stop and pick up a few things that were actually of value but they had a mission and he wished to be done before the sun set, having Henna out of this place when it turned into a different world altogether. "Have you met Andre or Pierre?" the walk would be in tiers that brought them up the side of a good incline the port was built on, mostly the back part of the port which was safer than the water front. That's were the harbor masters were kept busy.



Date: 10-14-10
Poster: Henna Suex
Post # 11

Heathfield Port: Bovee Shipping


Visiting Mary where she worked had Henna thoughtful as they left the docks and moved into the better area. It seemed there should be a way to help women who saw no hope of escape from their life. There would always be some who were happy where they were but even they could use a hand. She was so lost in her thoughts she barely noticed the switch from the more dilapidated buildings to the better. It wasn't until they were nearing the building that housed Bovee Shipping that she came out of her thoughts. Thank goodness Peter was there, or she could have gotten into a bit of trouble. She smiled at him a touch sheepish, wondering if he had noticed the lapse.

He was aware of her wandering thoughts and remained quiet in the last part of their walk bringing them to Bovee's. Up in this part it was safer than the lower part where sailors off ships from other lands basically stayed. In the earlier days they had not and swiftly found justice to be measured with a fair but strong hand. There was some headway in the taverns along the docks except one or two with less tolerance for the rowdy. There would always be crimes and those who lived such lives to get away with some but it was like the saying that one can't get away with it all the time especially in lands such as here that had ones to uphold the laws. His hand fell away from the touch at her elbow to open the door at Bovee office, leaving Henna to enter first then in behind her. The ring of the bell over the door would alert anyone within or he figured the door would have been locked.

Pierre had still to hire a secretary, well.. neither he nor Andre had found one suitable. The last proved a disaster in being totally incompetent. So they were far more strict in any interviews given and in the meantime saw to what was needed themselves. Certainly it would lighten their work load but they needed someone efficient and willing to turn a blind eye to some undercover activity they sometimes got involved in, not so much illegal but under the board or in cases, dealings in the black market. Although such dealings were done out of country. Feet were propped up on the receptionist's desk as he went through a bunch of papers, some gobbled up into a ball and tossed towards the hearth, some reaching the fire and some not. It had been quiet and certainly caught off guard when a King and Princess stepped into their waiting room. He near tipped over in the chair getting out of it so fast and to his feet. "What can I do for you Sire," knowing Peter personally and knowing of Henna which had the lock of topaz eyes on her a longer moment, she was far prettier than he expected.

She smiled up at Peter as she stepped past him and through the door. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust but the smile remained when she saw Pierre setting at the desk and the balled up papers. She had to bite at her lip to keep from laughing out loud when Pierre stood so quickly. At least they didn't startle him so that he fell backwards. She gave Peter a side look, eyes bright with that laughter and waited for him to speak.

He held his amusement as he glanced from the man to the papers strewn in the direction of the hearth wondering how many made it the flames to be burned up compared to how many didn't. There then back as he spoke up. "We are looking for a lad by the name of Jamie Bartholomew whom it was stated has been working down at the docks, loading and unloading cargo. It is important. I figured if anyone would know exactly where we could find him it would be you or Andre."

"Jammer, oui," then frowning some, "is the lad in trouble? I can vouch for his changeover having gotten him steady work and no idle time to get himself in trouble or in with the wrong crowds." Life for a lad at the docks was a rough one and easier to turn corrupt than not. "I can get him for you now. I've him and a couple others crating cargo for me that will be going out soon." Which he paid them for of course.

"Yes, please get him for me. He's not in any trouble," glancing to Henna and back. "We just need to ask him about a shipwreck he's been in, possibly Black Doom or Black Beard was involved."

Which had brows lifted with a low whistle to follow. "Oui? I will get him right away, you can use my office," which he indicated the one with the door left open. He turned on a heel and headed down the hall and through another door into the ware house connected to this building.

"He's not in trouble." She added her assurance to Peter's words. She gave a little shiver at the mention of the names of the pirates but said nothing. Instead she waited for Peter to lead the way into the office. She truly hoped the lad could be of service being those two were so very dangerous.

It was better to be in the office in case anyone else happened into the reception area tonight. Escorting Henna in and seeing to a chair for her while he decided to remain standing while he waited.

The four in the warehouse were joking back and forth while they worked, a strong friendship growing between them that was good to see. It would help them stay fast on the narrower path than so easily drawn to the darker side of dock life. "Jammer, I've something for you," which had all them look up Pierre's way as the way put didn't put it as something out of the ordinary. Jammer was up in quick fashion as Pierre led him back towards the office, speaking up once they were out of earshot. "Now lad, a King is here to talk to you. You tell him all you know down to the last detail of that hit on your ship some time ago. It's important and this King is one of the good guys." Having placed a hand on Jamie's shoulder in a squeeze of support as he led the lad to the office. "Sir Peter, Lady Henna, this is Jamie or otherwise known as Jammer." The lad was nervous but there was a strength in his character that Pierre had seen that he got involved in his life, having caught him cheating at cards with a rough group, to turn his life around.

Henna had a soothing way about her, much like her siblings. "Hello Jamie. It's a pleasure to meet you." She had sat in one of the chairs in the office. "We spoke to Mary Wilson before we came here and she told us you had been a survivor on a ship that had been attacked. Can you tell us about it and answer any questions Peter may have?"

"Aye lad, Jammer," indicating the seat near Henna. "Please sit down and tell me everything you can remember about the incident. Where you were when it happened, how it happened and any description of the men in charge no matter what was said who they may be. There are lot of pirates out there that ride on the fame of notorious ones."

"I'll be right out here," which they would even be able to see him as he was back to the desk to sort out more of the papers, giving them privacy and there to intercept anyone else that came in tonight.

Jammer nodded at Pierre as he sat down. He had light brown hair that was streaked blonde though the color was fading with the cooler weather and fewer days outside. Blue eyes went from Henna, to Peter and he nodded. "Been a while but we was in the Atlantic, goin' round the Cape of Good Hope. It was a long voyage and we had a full cargo, passengers. We were heading for Spain." He brushed his hair from his eyes before continuing. "Man in the nest spotted the ship first and called out to the Captain. We were in Morocco waters by then. Didn't have a flag so we weren't sure. The Captain called us to alert just in case." He paused to rub at his neck, his eyes becoming distant. "It's well traveled there but no flag just didn't seem right. Next thing we knew, they was hailing us and then firing on us. Before we knew it, some were coming aboard. Won't never forget that fight, sir. Never. Them pirates was showin' no mercy."

Peter poured the lad a glass of water which he handed to him for certainly talking that long he'd need something to drink before he continued. "Go on lad, tell me how they fought, what weapons they used, the style of fighting if you remember." Doom and his men had a particular style that was not so well known over his reputation being ruthless.. A scourge upon the high seas as were his cronies.

He accepted the drink gratefully, gulping half down before he came up for air. "Well, some of 'em just hacked and slashed but most of 'em seemed to want to make sure the bodies were a mess.  Right bloody, cutting off their heads and the like." He looked at Henna. "Sorry, ma'am. They had short swords, flintlocks. They cut down anyone they could. Passengers too. Didn't seem to care if they took prisoners. There were two men, kind of both acted like captains. Both black haired. Bearded and the one had a scar runnin' down his face. Right nasty one. I think they woulda killed us all except a fleet of Spanish ships came on us, and they lit outta there. More'n half the crew and passengers were dead, dying or hurt bad." His eyes had a haunted look.  "They set the ship afire but me and some of the other lads started puttin' it out and the Spanish sailors came and helped."


That sounded much like two of the Unholy Trinity. "So there was just the two, dark haired ones with beards and a scar on the one's face." To make certain, that would exclude Stirling being with them, double trouble instead of triple. "They only had one ship?" To make certain there too. "How long ago exactly was this attack in the Morocco waters?"

Jammer nodded, his expression still showing that haunted look. "Just the two. I know there's supposed to be another, younger, but he weren't there, and aye, only one ship." He had to count backwards as he thought. "About three months, I'd say." Which meant those two could be anywhere unless they still had only one ship.

Henna smiled encouragingly at the lad. He'd be haunted by what he had saw for the rest of his life.

Three months could have them anywhere but in the whole of the world, he now knew where to start looking. Taking out a coin, he pressed a silver into the palm of the lad's hand, "you've been a big help and if you can think of anything else, send word up to the castle, or come yourself and say it is for Peter of Innis." Which was a sort of code, although Peter would be alerted first, "and give your name." Eyes shifted from the lad to rest upon Henna, "shall we," with a gesture of his hand to the open door where the waiting room was just beyond and Pierre at the desk, seen from where they stood in his office.

"Thank you, sir. I will." Pierre paid the lads well but more money was always appreciated. He bowed to the two, a bit awkwardly before he headed out the door to rejoin his comrades.

Pierre was up from his seat as the trio left his office. He had a basketful of crumbled up papers to be burned. The stack much shorter that was gone through, the important things set in a stack on the desk to be filed away later. Andre would be going over them before they were. "Everything go all right? Was Jamie cooperative?" Being the lad was out and through the outer door to continue working in the warehouse with the others packing the cargo.

Henna smiled as she watched the boy go then she smiled at Peter. Without a word she started for the door, thoughtful. She had a feeling that a search would soon begin for the twosome.  She smiled at Pierre and nodded.  She had been quiet impressed with the lad.

"He was very cooperative. You've a good worker there that will grow with your business if he chooses to continue." Putting in a good word for Jamie as he shook Pierre's hand. "Thanks for use of your office. Also, set up a run to pick up live seafood from Innis to Kildare." So word got around and certainly he would give Bovee the business having the type of ships needed. "Two ships should do it." The handshake released before he would escort Henna out, time to get out of the dock area as the sky was getting duskier.

"I will do that, two ships," figuring Leoric would know but he'd send a message to him to get the exact amount he wanted shipped to Kildare. "Have a good day and I'll keep that in mind for Jamie," which he would rise in the business ranks here if he continued on.



Date: 10-28-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 12

Ghosts in Ashford Manor

The excursion to Ashford Island was planned a few days ahead of the actual Hallow's Eve night. That way they could be back to take little ones out or see to their trick or treats when they arrived at their doorsteps. This day had been planned, no one remembered for certain how it came up but it traveled amongst the teens as more decided to join in. Ages varied from thirteen to nineteen sans the Chaperones who were in their twenties. The night was a perfect cast for such an outing as flatboats were acquired to bring the groups over. Only two were needed being large enough to accommodate up to a dozen each. The full moon would probably not be so full on the actual Hallow's eve so they had that in their favor

for a spooky night. Clouds floated by, covering up any moonlight at times only to have it disappear letting the beams through again; playing shadow tag on all beneath. Ones that danced off the small choppy waves that splashed at the sides of the flat boats. Long poles were used being the area between the shores of Heathfield and the shores of Ashford were not deep at all, far too shallow for any ships and so marked with warning buoys at either end. It would take them at least two hours to cross that distance of five or so miles. The lads were requested to do the poling but some of the girls pitched in so that they could get across faster. It became an unspoken challenge of which flatboat would arrive first. In the middle of the boats were stacked all the equipment they would need for one night. Tents had already been erected by the squires, Kieran, Bannon and Shaun along with Joshua whom had all gone the day prior to save time. The same for the Villagers.

The wind seemed to pick up just as they reached the shores, the flatboat manned by a few fellows and gals from the Ruiaidin Fishing Village managed to hit the sands first. A shout of triumph, all in good nature, went out. One of those hard calls but certainly the lads from that village had a lot of practice over the squires manning the other. Dares were offered in bantering fun between the two groups or so it seemed to emerge that way. Evan Hunt and Mariah McCormick were the chaperones. Who was to say they didn't have some ideas in mind to make it an entertaining night for all? Certainly they didn't believe the old Ashford manor was really haunted. After the unloading while dusk claimed the sky, they headed in with lit oil lamps as under the canopy of trees, it would be darker still. The trees had not shed their leaves here yet. Shaun, Kieran, Bannon and Joshua seemed to have mischievous smirks that were noticed by others with a wary eye. Those others included Tamara who knew her brother all too well, Rina, Concessa, and Fawn. Niamh was amongst the ones from the village, having heard of the adventure from one of the others. She was accompanied by Davin Bryne, and three others, a lass named Lily and two brothers, Micky and Tim. The small group was usually called the Villagers, or sometimes the Fishers, depending on who was doing the talking. Another girl, Jessie, and a younger lad, Kit, made up the rest of their group. Like the squires, they had come to the island and pitched their tents the day before, luckily spotting where the lads had pitched theirs. They happily hauled the supplies to the campsite after making sure the flatboats were secured. Wouldn't do to lose them, leaving them trapped on the isle.
The Day Before:
Those four lads along with Davin seemed to be up to something but what was in store, they had already set up before the arrival. They had chosen the courtyard of the old manor so it loomed up a distance of only 200 yards from them. Certainly the perfect backdrop with broken upper windows (if not totally missing panes) that had bats flying in and out in these last days to collect bugs before going into hibernation for the winter. In that day and evening, although none stayed to dusk, after pitching the tents and seeing to the fire pits, (the Villagers doing the same and required they all stay within the general area), Joshua went inside the manor while daylight played through the various windows. After a few delays and false starts, he found his way up to the right side tower for there was a very large tree to string rope from the small balcony at the top and across. He planned to fly a sheet in the form of a ghost across. All was set up and he'd only have to sneak off from the others to let it fly at a good moment when it would be seen. Shaun went and set up his own contraption within the manor, for most likely there would be the challenge to go in.
The place was sturdy built even if those higher windows were broken, floor boards were secure as well all the steps and doors. Just inside the front door down the left hand side was an inner door that Shaun rigged. Once opened, as the front door on the right of the building was locked (of which only a few knew) a dead looking body would fall down right in front of the first one there. While those two were creating their mischief to add to the night, Davin caught up with them and catching on, decided to spider web the main archway of the patio to the front door. The fine thread would not be seen by dusk of which they were to arrive the next night. This would probably be the first trap encountered. He left things to go bump in the night with Kieran and the others. He knew Kieran the best but he was getting to know the others too, not really being from the Village but having friends there for living at the Lighthouse.
Kieran and Bannon had worked on their own tricks. Hidden away in the brush were a couple of strings. One was attached to a strange looking box. Once it was up and hanging in place, the wind would make the weighed string move back and forth, causing low moan-like sounds. The second was to use the bamboo that Bannon had scrounged up at the docks. They had strung several sets on either side of the camp so the noise of rattling bones would surround them. There was high anticipation from the various pranksters for the coming evening and the night of spooky revelry to begin. What they didn't know was that which lingered within Ashford manor might well trip up the tricksters or add to their pranks with something far more real. That large raven type bird was perched on the top most tower watching all below through dark beady eyes as the ones came and went and tents left behind. The other shadows were missed within the manor itself being even more elusive during the day just as the ones outside that wandered the courtyard and nearby forest to the edge of what was considered Ashford boundaries, which consisted of about ten acres. The house and courtyards, front, side and back as well the house taking up about six acres while the remaining four extended into the surrounding woods.
Being Mariah was not married to Evan, although engaged, they were to sleep in separate tents even if they were right next to each other. She made sure both had plenty of quilts to soften the lay against ground before she was out to help the girls with anything they needed.

This was Rina's first outing ever and so far, there was no brother so she would be bragging even more. That.. ha ha, you didn't make it, you missed out and your own fault without really saying it. He was so going to have to do time in the dungeon at night! She was smiling to herself as she had pitched a tent with Concessa. They had it all ready before out to see to the fires and hot chocolate, a small meal if anyone was hungry. She was dressed warm for the season, though it wasn't too bad a night and the cloak sufficient that covered up, and protected, her wings.

Concessa helped Rina and certainly was smiling a lot herself with glances stolen while girl talk and comments were made, mainly on the handsome squires and of course there was Joshua and Davin. Talk was too low for anyone to hear but helped to make the time pass quickly and any jitters to calm in expectation of ghosts to possibly see. She was soon gathered at one of the fire pits to have a mug of cocoa.

Josh exchanged looks with both Shaun and Davin and even got Davin to tell them of the Villagers, lads and lasses they didn't know but soon would. There was also talk of another village newly developed not far from the other of one from another parallel existence though they had been here before and now returning hardly aged after two decades. So that held their wondering as they got things ready in two large tents to accommodate them all set up next to each other and across the fire pit from the ladies.

Evan had agreed to act as 'chaperone' without too much of a fuss, though the suggestion had made him laugh to himself. Likely it would have cracked his brothers up too, considering how often they still acted like kids together... as far as pranks and the occasional wrestling match went. He was a responsible man for all that and would keep an eye on the 'youngun's' to make sure they were safe... without spoiling their fun. Of course the outing gave him an opportunity to spend some time with Mariah, something he always craved and so he was in a fine mood, even helping with the rowing (having captained plenty of flatboats in his days in the Colonies) and leading the others in some goofy shanties. Once arriving, he swung a glance around the rather ramshackle place, arching a brow and leaning close to Mariah to murmur, "Not exactly my idea of a vacation spot..." He pulled back enough to grin, then let her go to help the girls, while he went to help the lads.

Tamara was extremely excited about the outing. It was the first she had been allowed to go on even if they did have chaperones. She barely kept from asking a thousand questions as they crossed the channel then began to work on the campsite. Finally she couldn't stand it anymore and once they were settled, and having cocoa and something to eat, they began. She wanted to know about the manor behind them, why no one lived on the island anymore and why there were so many crows when there weren't any crops. Every once in a while, she'd grow silent again but another question always popped up.

And somewhere in there he intervened, "Do you still have that puzzle box Tamara?" Which made him wink to Joshua. Before in the tavern.. it had been the only thing that shut her up!

Nia would have preferred her little skiff to cross but agreed to the flat boats with a hint of an amused pout. It didn't really bother her but the flatboats were slower than what she was used to. She made sure to introduce herself and her friends to the others as they settled in for the moment.

Kieran was pleased with the turnout of course, and surprised as well. They were going to have a grand time. He winked at Bannon as they set to work then talked to the others, introducing both himself and his quieter friend.

Bannon just smiled when anyone talked to him, especially the lasses. He wasn't as shy as he had been but there were more people here than he expected. So, he just tagged along with Kieran mostly though he helped where he could until it was time to sit for a while. Tamara had him chuckling with all his questions. Maybe it was good not to have siblings?

Mariah was right by Evan's side as she took her responsibility seriously. "I remember stories about this place when I was young and the ones that stayed here conducted experiments. No one was sure what kind but there would be times at night odd lights could be seen from various points such as along the cliffs and Lighthouse. The last anyone was heard of was after a big explosion that lit up the whole sky one evening. A number of men went over but they found the place completely abandoned. No sign of human life after combing the whole of the island from one side to the other. There were some strange animals seen but they quickly hid out of sight." Then admitting, "the place gives me the chills but it is perfect for Hallow's Eve." Next she was addressing the girls, answering some of Tamara's questions while Evan had the boys, not that either were that young to be addressed as such. "If you need to go potty, make sure you bring another with you, in fact, please stay in groups if you wander to explore. Anything odd, get right back here to let us know. You are not to go wandering too deep into the woods or far from this site as you can get lost and we're not sure what kind of animals are out there. There are wolves," which had been reported and in fact, on cue, one howled as she realized it had gotten a lot darker, only the moonlight to see by and that from the fire pits. "Make sure to carry the oil lanterns." Which they all had one.

Rina was passing out mugs of cocoa to anyone near, including the squires, Joshua and Davin, the Villager lads and lasses. Bannon got a slight smirk when she handed one to him being she had met him before. Then she was back to light her lantern and have a mug of the cocoa herself.

"To go potty.." words trailing that as the blush might have shown if it wasn't for the fact her skin had a natural tan and glow to it already. "If we do, you boys better not try and scare us then or.. Or I'll get my lance and spear you good once we are back." Concessa was threatening them if they crossed the line! She could too having joust a few times. The story got around about her unseating a king.

Shaun nudged Bannon after Rina gave him his mug and moved away. Words came low just to see how he reacted, "I think she likes you." He was gauging his time after all were settled in and the fact a wolf already howled. Lips were pressed as he dared a glance to the manor then back between Kieran, Davin, Bannon and Joshua.

Josh was eyeing the manor as if he'd not seen it before but was determining if the wire from the tower could be seen or not running to the large oak. It couldn't, so when he sent the dummy of sheets down, it should really look like a ghost floating.

Evan listened to the stories Mariah shared about the manor, having not heard as much about it being a relative newcomer to these lands still. When she said the word 'potty' he snorted laughter, then quickly covered it up with a gulp of his cocoa. He did see the lads exchanging looks and cleared his throat. "Aye, and pranks are all well and good but only in fun. Nothing dangerous and cease and desist if anyone gets too frightened... aye?" He'd lighten his tone
when he added, "I'm not cleaning anyone up if they pee in their pants."

Davin shook his head trying hard not to laugh but he was watching Naimh and the others from that Village in how they were getting along with the others.

Tamara's eyes were wide as she listened to the stories. She had grinned at Evan and showed him the box but she was a little bit too excited to worry about it just yet. Instead she grinned at Mariah. After all, she was one who spent lots of time in the woods, even if they were close to home.

Nia and her friends were doing just fine, though the youngest lad, like Bannon, was a little shy. She knew about the lights and such because they had seen them from the village. She even added a few tales of her own about a strange looking fish caught in their nets. And Jessie agreed, though most of the stories had been from their parents.

Kieran just snickered as he watched Bannon but he was listening to the stories as well. There were interesting because he still didn't know a lot of the history of Heathfield  He hid his smirk as he glanced at the others but the look he gave Evan was nothing but innocent. He even managed not to laugh at Concessa being embarrassed, understanding how she might feel The howl of the wolf had him looking about but he wasn't really afraid. It was interesting rather than scary. At least for now.

Bannon turned red when Josh whispered to him but he poked him in the side. "No she's not. She's nice to everyone." He whispered back though he did watch her. He wasn't going to say much at all about her. Nooo sir.

She poked Evan, mumbling under her breath about.. just wait till later before taking a drink of her cocoa. Wolves howling never sat well with her as she moved a bit closer to Evan. Words came low then, "you brought the hooded cloaks and masks?" If they were to do any scaring once the group moved out to explore.

Concessa was a natural born leader as she rallied up the girls. "Tamara you stay with us too, real close." Looking between the others, "lets go take a look at this manor. It is said it is sturdy built so should be safe." Her lantern in hand she started for the front of the place.

Rina was all for it as she headed out with the girls. Oh.. she suspected the boys would be up to something and would be on the alert. She was only a step or two behind Concessa.

Joshua disappeared into the shadows as he made his way around the back to the kitchen door he knew was unlocked, being Shaun booby trapped the side door and Davin with the spider webbing across the front archway. Concessa would find that out soon!

Evan slid his arm around Mariah's shoulders smoothly when she scootched over a bit closer. Giving her a small squeeze to assuage the moment of discomfort he was sensing from her, he smirked at her mumble. Then nodded to her question and answered under his breath, "In my pack." Glancing up when the others began to venture toward the manor he lifted a brow at Mariah. Did she want to explore some first too... or get down to a bit of scaring?

Shaun lingered, taking a lantern and hung back from the group of girls just in case they ended up needing help, except he stayed to the shadows. The wind picked up sending those bamboo pieces to clattering. Another wolf howled at the moon which was steadily rising in the night's sky.

Davin disappeared down the left side of the building, keeping to the shadows and watching that area that was rigged. There were other shadows moving in the woods, that showed up as glowing eyes that blinked away. Davin thought he saw something but then figured it had been an owl that flew off.

Tamara had a sturdy stick that she was using as a walking stick . She picked up her lantern and nodded at Concessa. She'd stay nice and close, and for once, she wasn't talking a mile a minute. She tripped over a root, letting out a squeak then a nervous giggle. That manor looked spookier and spookier as they got closer. She didn't want to hold anyone's hand, but if something happened, she'd sure be grabbing hold of an arm or shirt.

Nia was enjoying herself already. She knew the lads were up to something, including the ones from her own village. Though there were spiders in the house already, they had rigged some to fall and a cage of rats would be let loose, though she didn't know that. She stayed behind Tamara to be able to keep an eye on her a bit better.



Date: 10-28-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 13

Kieran made his way to the noise making box Bannon had created and strung it up. Every time the wind shifted the trees, a low moan would sound. He checked the tubes then slipped through one of the broken windows. This was going to be fun.

Bannon was the last one left in the clearing. He smiled at the couple, then grabbed up his lantern. While the others had their plans, he had his own and was heading into the manor to get into costume. He hadn't even told Kieran about it.

Fawn had been mostly quiet and keeping to herself. It wasn't anything against the others, just trying to get things done so that she could have nothing more to worry about while there with the others. Having been the last to finish bedding preparations, she was now running to catch up with the others.

Mariah had seen the manor before with her brothers and sister, long time ago but after it was vacant. She eyed the manor, noticing at that point that large raven type bird way up on one of the towers. It gave her a shiver even with Evan's arm around her shoulders. "I think staying outside is a good idea, once they are within, we can get on the costumes and give them a scare when they come back out?" Words were low once she saw Fawn catch up with the others.

Concessa ran right into that gooey, sticky, spidery web stuff someone had put in the archway. Cue the high pitch squeal as it was all over her face, hair and hands as the tried wiping the stuff away. "IF you did this Kieran! I will get even!" Determined.

Rina stalled dead in her tracks as Concessa hit something unseen, something not pleasant and helped her get the stuff off her once out of the mess. "Be careful," thrown over her shoulder to the others before she continued onward being Concessa cleared the way. "The door is locked," more moaned in disbelief as she jiggled and rattled the latch, pulling on the door the best she could in case it was only jammed but no, it was locked. "Let's go around to the other side, there is a door down there.

This was Joshua's moment as he had reached the tower in record time, just as the girls gathered to the front, down went the willowy form with flowing white sheets like some spirit descending. Of course the tree would stop it but it was slow going, so rigged that way and the breeze played nicely with the white panels. The rattling bones sounds coupled with the moaning blended well. A real wolf howled again and some other unearthly bird like screech followed in the distance.

Shaun lingered, trying hard not to laugh when Concessa found the webbing Davin had place, even better she thought it was Kieran! This was getting good.

Davin was roaming around back, keeping track of the noises, except there was something out in the woods, possibly a wolf? His lantern was doused at the moment as he slipped in through a paneless window, swinging  the lantern in first with his body to follow. Once on his feet he noticed something shoot by the window behind him but when he looked out, there was nothing more to see. Shrugging it off he went to find a good hiding spot.

Evan couldn't help but chuckle at Mariah's shiver, his hand chafing her arm lightly to soothe it. He nodded, agreeing to her suggestion quickly since it meant he'd be able to steal some alone time with her. He grinned at Fawn as she ran by, then looked back at Mariah. "In that case..." His arm still around her, he pulled her just that much closer and dipped his head, finding her lips with his. So it was that he was... otherwise occupied when that 'ghost' came flying down in front of the manor. But he didn't miss the chorus of eerie sounds that followed. Evan wasn't one to spook easily so he didn't pay it much mind... right now this kiss was much more interesting.

Fawn was there! Swear she was and she was closely following behind the others. The scream caught her off guard, she jumped to the sound and clutched onto herself. Hearing the wolves, she glanced around, but otherwise was quiet and wary.

They were all heading into the manor and certainly not paying any attention to the grups, even if they were not much older than them. She too missed the ghost after hearing Concessa's dilemma she was sure it was just the start of the pranks. The kiss left her not only breathless but mindless too, there was only the feel of his lips upon hers, his strong arms around her and all her fear melted away. She was a lightweight when it came to getting scared.

If his kiss didn't scare her, not sure much else would!


Fawn must have missed the floating ghost as he put on the mask and pulled up his hood. That's when Shaun rushed out, letting out a long GROWL.. rawwwwwwwwww and turning her about in a spin as he passed by then quickly disappearing back into the shadows down along the other side of the building.

Fawn was off in lala land when the ghost appeared, but it was hard missing something spinning her around. Jump and scream (wow she had a set of lungs!) she was spun around with both hands over her face.

Good thing she didn't see the face under the hood? Or had she gotten a glimpse of what appeared to be one missing eye and one hanging from the socket. A scar down the missing eye side and teeth that were sharp looking from a slit of a mouth.

Yeah...she missed that. All it took apparently was the growl and running at her, she hid her face in both hands.

Joshua had a good spot where he started throwing down large black spiders made of fuzzy yarn and looking quite real in the dark. One landed on top of Fawn's head as she stood there covering up her face. If anyone saw movement from high above it was a hooded one. But there was another shadow moving in the direction of Josh too.

Weren't they such good chaperones... the 'kiddos' inside exploring a haunted house, and they were outside necking by the campfire! But of course they'd be right there in case anything serious happened. He didn't mind that she was a lightweight, indeed he would enjoy the opportunity to comfort her and be the 'strong one'. What man didn't like that feeling? His fingers gently stroked the ends of her hair as they shared that sweet kiss, oblivious for now of the pranks starting up.

Tamara let out a yell first when Cessa ran into the cobweb, then when the 'ghost' appeared and finally with the hooded man. In spite of being scared briefly each time, she was sure it was the boys and they made her laugh. She watched as the door was tried then merrily trooped along with the others. Spiders didn't scare her much at all though, when she stopped to think about it, something felt ... weird.

Nia let out a yelp, then giggled when Kieran was blamed for the webs. Inside she could hear thumps, groans and whispers but it just had to the be the lads. "Be careful walking. Things might get slippery." The boys from the village had brought a bit of grease along and she couldn't imagine any other reason, except to grease a few doors. Jessie and the other girl were clinging together. Things might get slippery.

Kieran pulled on a dark cloak before he headed inside. He had chains that he rattled as he walked, just a soft sound. One of those that made you wonder if you really heard it. He headed for a room that he had worked on. The furniture would move while he worked a pulley.

Bannon's costume had been thought out carefully. He remembered the sewers (even if no one else did), and a story that had been told there. When he was done, he looked like part rat, part man. He lurked in the hall waiting, trying not to chuckle when he heard a low, evil laugh somewhere in the manor.

Oblivious, fabulously so. Fingers curled into his shirt as she literally hung on under that kiss. The lights from the fire pits danced brightly keeping shadows they knew not of a safe distance away. She was so lost, that she didn't hear any of the screams, the jangle of bones or moans, unless it was one of her own that escaped. Certainly a different kind. If there was a real cry of need, they'd be able to distinguish it?

Evan was more than content to linger here by the fire, but some muted sounds or maybe it was the twinge of responsibility had him parting his lips from hers, just long enough to speak. "Should we check on them?" Of course even as he spoke he was dipping in for another kiss.

"Yes," rather wistful, rather moaned under her breath but her hold on his shirt didn't ease nor did the pursuit of her lips on his again.

Rina gathered in Fawn as the ghostly thing slid from the roof of the place. It startled her a moment but she ended up laughing as she was over to swing an arm around Fawn. Looking from the others to where Tamara started off, "let's go," bringing Fawn with her so she wasn't as scared.

Concessa didn't get scared easily but she so hated gooey sticky stuff in her hair and face. Only consolation was that it would wash off. She stepped out to look up towards the towers, figuring one of the boys were up there and was soon catching up with the other girls. A smirk as young Tamara was leading the way. Brave lass.

When Josh noticed Fawn being taken off by another he was quick to dip back into the shadows as Concessa looked up his way. Turning quickly he headed in through the door, not noticing the thud against it as it was shut behind him.

Mmhm. They would check on the kiddos... just... in a few more minutes! A hand lifted to brush the hair back from her temple then buried there gently as the lip lock continued.

The loud evil laugh came from Davin as he had that kind of rich deep voice. Moving quickly from one room to another and throwing his voice, or in this case, laugh.

Shaun had a basketful of harmless snakes he was letting loose. One thing girls usually disliked above all else, was snakes!

He was starting to make her dizzy as lips finally parted and eyes opened in a dreamy sort of way. That was until she happened a glimpse of something beyond Evan at the edge of where the firelight dissolved into the shadows. "Did.. you see that?" Like if he could even considering it was behind him at a good distance. She shook her head then. Unsure if she had even seen something.

There weren't many choices where to go but Tamara pulled open the door that was to her left just inside the outer door. She didn't go completely in and peered into the darkness. Just as she started forward, something fell in front of her and she was sure it was a body! She screamed loud enough to wake the dead, slammed the door shut and turned to run but there were people behind her and she couldn't go anywhere! She might have screamed her brother's name but she'd deny it!

Nia blinked in surprise when Tamara screamed and slammed the door. She caught the girl by the shoulders, keeping her from running outside and into the woods. "What was it? What did you see?" If they made the younger girl cry, she was going to beat those boys.

Wow! Tamara could scream. Kieran jumped when he heard the girl and just stopped himself from running to her aid. He climbed up a set of stairs that lead to a type of balcony but still he couldn't see them. Uttering a little curse, he turned to find the steps were gone from where he thought they had been and were a distance away. He held up the lantern and looked around before heading for them. This was getting creepy.

Bannon had found the perfect place to hide. There was a closet that had a broken door though it still closed. He could look through it and watch for the lanterns. Once inside, he doused his own lantern and waited. Something feather light touched his ear and he brushed it away but nothing was there. He shrugged it off as one of his hairs or a cobweb.

He pulled back when she did, eyes opening slowly to offer one of his goofy half-grins. His thumb brushed her jaw lightly, and he might have ducked in for more had her words not arrested him. A brow lifted and reluctantly, he looked away from her face and back over his shoulder. "What was it?" Then came that piercing scream from inside, enough to make him cringe. "Maybe we should get in there."

Bannon's ear got brushed again each time like a breath of air. Air that was becoming fowl smelling and if he looked over his shoulder he'd see two moonlike yellowish eyes with a pale pupil. He was not alone in the closet.

"Yes, I feel there are other things around tonight. Maybe just animals?" Trying to reassure herself even if she didn't want to run into any nocturnal animals either. She was beginning to wonder if some of those stories had some truths to them. She shivered when she heard the scream, only reason she came was because she found out Evan was going and could use some help, braving her inner fears. Maybe it had something to do with an occurrence in her past.

Concessa was right to Tamara and past, opening the door again to get a look of what fell. Even with her ears ringing! "It's fake, look!" Darn good dummy though as she held her lantern above the prone object. Once done assuring her and kicking it aside with a food, she was on her way inside using the lantern to scan the room before entering carefully. She thought she heard someone moving around as she looked for some steps.

Rina had backed outside in case Tamara wanted to retreat. She still had her arm around Fawn who seemed to cringe with the scream too. Something caught her attention as she left Fawn with Niamh and the other girls as she took flight to find out who was moving around up on the balcony at the top of the roof.

Josh couldn't resist coming to Tamara's aid. Always had when she was little and had her nightmares. He passed Concessa in a run by as he was over to make sure Tams was all right. "It's only fake," echoing what  Concessa had confirmed.

Niamh was a little distance from the others as a hand slid over her mouth and she was dragged away. She would hear a voice from under the hooded form assuring her it was Davin. The girls might start to notice one was missing.

There went Mariah shuddering again, and after inspecting the darkness around and shrugging some, he turned back to her. Studying her face more with a frown. "Are you alright?" He wasn't going to take her inside if she was already getting spooked out here.

Shaun would take the opportunity when Fawn was isolated and in that moment sweep her away but for her, he would take her back to the campsite being it seemed she had enough of the frights already.

She really was hesitant to go inside and just as hesitant to stay outside!  Unsure how to reply when here came Shaun with Fawn. "I will see to them,  maybe go make sure everyone inside is all right. I'll be fine and have some treats to give the ones that have had enough."

He straightened up some when Fawn appeared with Shaun, giving his half-sister a smile then looking back to Mariah. "Are you sure?" Just wanting to check, he was loathe to leave her if she wasn't feeling comfortable.

Everyone's reassurance helped a lot but she was still spooked. She peered around Josh then giggled nervously. "This is pretty scary fun." Well, it was her explanation anyway. When Rina took off, she wanted to watch her but Cessa was going exploring too. And ... "Where's Nia?" Uh oh. Now she was reaching for Josh's hand.

Nia had been set to bite and elbow whoever was messing with her but she didn't when she heard the voice. She wasn't giggling yet, but thought it was grand to be part of the fun! Her friends had joined Fawn in escaping, though they were giggling as they sat down. The boys had gone down into the basement after releasing the rats who ran out of the manor, though the basement wasn't where the three wanted to go. When they turned to open the door, it had locked. Deciding to look for a door out, they went on down the steps and found a door that luckily led to the outside.



Date: 10-28-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 14

As Kieran neared the stairs, his lantern went out. It took a minute for him to re-light it and by then, the stairs were where they had been.

"Who's in here?" He spoke out, but yeah, he was getting a little spooked here. There was an odd metallic scent as well, sort of like blood but not quite. When he turned and saw those eyes, Bannon's eyes went wide and he stepped back until he was against the door. He pulled out the knife he carried and held it in front of him. "If that's you, Kieran, I'm going to get you for this." And if it wasn't ... turning he bumped into the door then feeling panic build. When it opened, he nearly fell out and slammed it shut behind him. Time to hightail it away from that closet!

"Yes, I'll be fine," as a few from the Village rugrats were coming out too to get something to drink and eat at this point. The younger ones were a bit shaken, some more than others and knew when to quit. "Go see the others are all right, I'll see to these." Something she felt comfortable with as she tried to shake off that other feeling that had been nagging ever since they started out to investigate the manor. Maybe it would go away? Right.

This time he accepted her assurances. "Alright." He pulled her close with one arm to plant a kiss on her temple, then lurched to his feet. "I'll be back soon," a promise and quick grin as he then started for the house with his long-legged stride. Stepping through the door, he batted away some of that fake spider web, looking at the stuff stuck on his hand with a wrinkle of his nose. Ducking some, he stepped in a bit further, lifting the lantern he'd snagged on the way in.

There was a saying about when shit hit the fan, it usually hit it fast and fully. Rina didn't get to see any of the lads up on the roof but she got to see strange beast type things. She wasn't sure if they were shadows or not but what worried her, frightened her even, was seeing them moving in the short perimeter of the woods with some heading for the manor and slipping inside. Hard to tell if they went through windows or the walls themselves. In the next instance she was being attacked by that large raven type bird. It came as a surprise but she was not ill prepared as she acted on instinct. She had size over the other and something of her race had her whirl around in the air as she drew out her knife to slash at its beak as it tried biting her, claws as well which had blood sprinkling down on the ones below. "Get out of here!" Yelled amongst the shrieks of the injured bird although it didn't give up too quickly.

Concessa caught up to Kieran with a thump to the back of his shoulder since she came up on him from behind. Only fate knew how she managed to find him. But then she froze on the spot as she heard the shrieks outside and what turned around was not Kieran at all. See how fast she would move! She stumbled down some steps in her mad escape.

Josh wasn't sure what was going on but the ones left there, wait was it only Tamara? Where had all the others gone, then there was the shrieks as he got her outside, rushing Tamara back to the campsite where it was safe? Or at least until he found out what was going on. Shaun was here but not Davin, Kieran nor Bannon.

Well, that was the plan, to have some fun but with some real screams and the feel something was going definitely wrong. "Maybe we should go back to the campfire or do you want to stay?" Niamh might notice that something moved not far behind them as she turned a look at Davin when he spoke. Something that had a wolf's face but was walking on two legs, not four.

It wasn't fun anymore and Tamara was quite happy to go back outside where the others were. She was counting too, though everything kept distracting her. And then she realized she didn't know who all had come!

She was about to answer when she caught sight of that ... creature. "Oh my stars!" She pointed over Davin's shoulder, then grabbed his hand and started to tug him. "Run!" As they ran, the thing went inside the manor.

The wolf man was growling, at least until a rat man the size of Bannon went charging by. He was pulling off the mask and ears as he did.  Oh, and in his mad rush, Bannon ran into the taller, stockier Evan!

Kieran finally charged down the steps and went out the door. As he did, he ran into something small that snapped at his heels. Maybe it was a rabid dog but he didn't stick around to look. He got outside about the time the boys from the village crawled out of the cellar door, then slowed down.  Skidding to a stop, he ran back inside, passed Evan with an "Excuse me."  And then he yelled, "Cessa?!" He thought he saw her in there.

Just as he was stepping around the hall, there came Josh and Tam rushing past him in a dash for the door. "Are you - " blink, and they were gone. Followed then by Kieran, but then Kieran was pushing past him a second later to get BACK inside. Shaking his head, Evan was half-turned and didn't see Bannon until the lad collided with him. Oomph! A hand went to the other's shoulder, "Steady..." chuckling some. "Do you know who's left in here?"

The battle in the air was still going on with Rina barely having the advantage when it dawned on her, there was more to all of this and gave the Raven one last good shove that sent it into the side of a tower before she was swooping down. She had blood stained on her white wings that was not her own but she had scratches on her arms that would need being seen to for they were bleeding. Her tone was serious as she slid the knife back into the small scabbard on her belt. "We need to get out of here now. Light all the lanterns, they seem to shy from light but there are things, shadows and some not shadows that are converging on this manor and probably the campsite next if the lights go out." Which they would have to stay up all night keeping the things at bay and who knew what else might emerge from those woods in the back or the bowels of the manor itself. Her heart was pounding but she was keeping her head about her.

Davin caught sight of the thing that was not a shadow and certainly not human nor normal beast. His hand curled in a hold on Naimh's as the two ran out from the outer shadows where the things were starting to show up in force. He held onto his lantern too, although not lit presently. That he would do soon as they were with the others and he stopped running. "She's right, leave the stuff and get us all back on the boats and across the way."

A blood curdling scream ripped from Concessa's throat as whatever she thumped on the shoulder was now in pursuit. She was knocking things over on her way as if that might slow down whatever she thought was still behind her. She didn't even notice the few snakes along the way until she almost tripped over one and went flying forward right into Kieran's chest. Thinking it was that other thing, he might find her wiggling and pounding at him!

First the scream and then Kieran could hear her running and just as he was about to yell out her name again, there she was, crashing into him. Next he was getting pounded on. "Ow, ow! Cessa!" And then he spotted something coming their way. He pulled her behind him and pulled his out his knife. "Go toward the door." Backing up. Knife might not be good against the thing, but it was all he had.

Bannon had seen Kieran going back in and somehow it registered that he was yelling for Cessa. "Cessa. Kieran. Don't know who else." Pulling off the rest of the costume he looked up at Evan. "I'll go with you." After all, he was Sir Vincent's squire.

Tamara wasn't going to leave everything behind. Well, at least not the lucky stone she always carried or her puzzle box.  Other than that, she was ready to go when the others were.  And boy, was she sticking close to Joshua!

Mariah believed Rina but knew she had to keep the others from panic too. "All right everyone, the others will be out in a few moments," hopefully her chattering teeth didn't give away the fact she was really scared now. "Light your lanterns, take any personal items and leave behind the tents, bedding and food." They didn't need any of those nor even the mugs and plates they had brought. Clothes and personal things as they would be few anyway for they were only to stay the one night. The moon was full presently so those things beyond the fire's light could be seen better now.  It wasn't like there were tons of them but three or four she saw were too many. She waited for the others for they would not leave any behind! Hopefully they were all found. She worried her bottom lip, it couldn't be helped.

Rina helped the others and well getting her few things together and her lamp lit. It seemed the more light there was, the further back the things went. Boy did Tykir miss out! No one knew she was hurt yet and she'd keep that fact unknown until back on Heathfield shores. "We can all go to the Thistle and stay there tonight." That would give her the chance to see to any wounds inflicted.

Concessa wasn't scared before but she was scared now. It took her through a half scream to realize this one was Kieran, in that same instance she was being pushed behind him as the thing that had chased was now standing there but something had it turn tail and go running off on goat like hind legs. They could hear the receding thumps. Maybe it was the knife Kieran pulled? "Let's get out of here, I heard others screaming outside." Grabbing his hand as she started in that direction.

He wasn't putting that knife away until they were with the others. It didn't matter if the thing ran. "I hope everyone else is out." He kept looking over his shoulder as they headed for the door that led outside.

"Alright, lad." A solid thump on Bannon's shoulder to lighten his evident near-panic some. Hoisting his lantern overhead, he proceeded a bit further just slightly in front of Bannon. "Concessa?" Calling out names seemed a good course of action. "Kieran?"

"Here, we're here." Kieran called out as they headed for Evan's voice, right quick. He let out an exhale when he saw Evan with Bannon. "There's something in here. Maybe more than one." And he was glad to see that Bannon looked as scared as he felt!

And there were the other two, looking white as a sheet (or at least Cessa did). "Now, just calm down, I'm sure it's just the other lads having a laugh. Do you know if anyone else is left in here?"

"I don't think so but I'm not positive." He paused to look over his shoulder when he heard a low growl. "At least, I haven't heard any familiar screams. I mean voices."

"Alright. Why don't you two head on out, we'll just have a quick look around." Evan hadn't yet experienced anything 'spooky' about this place, except its general feel... so he was still writing it off to pranking. It seemed like everyone was out but he figured, do a quick run-through of the place to double check.

Kieran didn't argue though he gave Evan a half smile. "If you're not out of here in ten minutes, we're coming in after you." He looked at Bannon and nodded then continued to lead Cessa on out.

"It's not any of the others," pleading that this was something real, not fun and games of the lads anymore. "We are the only ones left," and certainly he could hear the heavier footfalls above them on the next floor. That was when she was led out by Kieran.

Davin helped the others get ready and had his knife at the ready. He also made a torch while waiting that could be used as a weapon if necessary. "Don't worry, we'll stay safe," reassuring the ladies as he worked with Joshua and Shaun.

Shaun had a sword his brother got him with him so that was a touch more safe being he knew how to use it too. He kept Fawn close by as the girls were all near, except Concessa. Rina had joined them.

Josh, of course, had his sister close as he worked with Shaun and Davin, they would keep them safe. He didn't have a sword but he had a knife and set to making a torch as well while they waited on the rest to get out of the manor.

Niamh carried her own knife all the time and touched the hilt for a bit of reassurance.  Boy, would they have a tale to tell!

It sounded like they were fairly certain everyone was out but he'd take a long way back to the door, just to make extra sure. "Hello? Anyone else in here?" Called out loudly enough to echo off the halls as he swung his torch around and kept moving.

Time to get Cessa out of there. He led her outside, seeing everyone getting ready with a sigh of relief. "Evan's making sure no one else is in there. Told him he had ten minutes or we're coming in." He moved back to the door though, just in case and he even yelled in, "Everyone is out!" Except those two.

The words were no sooner out of Kieran's mouth when there was a terrible howl from the room above the two. Dust shook from an impact as if one jumped another and there were a series of growls. While he didn't turn or run, Bannon looked up at Evan wide-eyed.

Evan instinctively hunched his shoulders, looking overhead at that horrific noise, but then shielding his eyes from the dust a moment later. There was a long pause as the howl faded off... then he simply said, "Let's go." And then it was a more direct route for the door.

No argument from this lad. Bannon stayed right with Evan, breathing in a little sigh of relief as they stepped outside. It didn't mean they were safer, but at least they were out. And it looked like everyone was getting ready to get the heck out of there.  He grabbed up his belongings as quickly as he could.

Tamara was ready to go. She had her belongings, she had her walking stick and she was shifting from one foot to the other as they waited. A howl had her squeaking then looking at Mariah and Evan while she leaned right against Josh. She was scared but what a story she and Josh would have for Da.

Evan got a pleading look as he emerged from the manor. "I don't know what is going on but we need to get them out of here and let the Crown know. Let's get them to the Thistle and some treats there." Somewhere safe, familiar, and give them a night together to talk over what happened. Not just dump them back on their parents looking so frightened to the bone as they all were at this point. She blinked. Evan looked ghostly pale!

Yes he did look somewhat shaken, and he was usually fairly unflappable. Upon reaching the group he immediately put a hand to Mariah's arm, protectively. "Alright, aye. Are we leaving the tents up?" It appeared they were and he didn't wait for the answer, "Let's get them to the boats, I'll help row." And so they would begin herding the frightened teens back to the island's shore and onto the boats.

Time was of the essence. The ones already out got the things that belonged to the ones that were last coming out so they didn't have to scurry. "We should all stay close together, Josh and Davin lead the way with the torches and keep the lanterns on the outside to surround us all with light." Which she and Evan would take up the rear and she was certain there were things moving through the brush behind them for a few hundred yards before they stopped. Or so the sounds ceased as they moved away. "The tents can be gotten tomorrow by a crew sent over during daylight." They might well find them shredded to bits.



Date: 10-30-10
Poster: Tykir Riktafir
Post # 15

Lean on Me


Rina didn't say much on how she got the scratches on her arms and one on her face, near her jaw and not as noticeable. She was up early not being able to sleep much after the experience they all had on that island. She was carefully smoothing some salve over her arms that Alex left for her, and covering the sleeves back down every time she thought she heard a footstep. She didn't even let Alex see how bad some of them were. They would heal. She had to decide if she should let her mother or Karl know. She also didn't know what happened to Tykir that night that he didn't make it. She knew he had to see to something important, not that anyone suspected the night would become as serious as it had, and would fly out when done. If he was very late, he'd get there to find the whole place abandoned and possibly the spirits back to dormant. She left behind a very wounded oversize, strange Raven looking bird.

Tykir had, accidentally on purpose, mentioned to Karl that Rina might begin training for the jousting field.  Just in passing.  Just because they were talking about how Tykir's training was progressing.  Tykir wasn't fooled into believing that Karl didn't know, that he was only asking to engage Tykir in conversation.  Still, when the opportunity presented itself, Tykir just happened to mention...that.  The King was silent for the passing of a breath, then had nodded, as if he had made up his mind on something of great importance.  He had ordered Tykir to follow him, and then...Tykir was set to cleaning, polishing and repairing shields, chainmail, swords, lances.  You name it, and it had Tykir's name on it to attend to.  "How better to become familiar with the weight of the weaponry and feel of the weaponry, Riktafir."  Karl had smiled down to him, then turned and left.


The prince knew with the click of the closing door he'd not be going on any island adventure that night. His night would be spent proving to Karl he was worthy to sit a horse and charge a field. Only once he went and looked out to the night sky, imagining the adventures underway on Ashford, which only brought a deep sigh of regret, before he returned to his work. Today, he actually ached with his work the night before, leaving him only a few hours of sleep before he had to be on the training field. But, now, it was all behind him, and he wandered along the streets of Heathfield, in search of anyone who may know how the night of spooky-searching went. He finally gave up and entered the Thistle, only to find the VERY one to get information from! His sister! The excited expression on his face was quickly hidden and he walked with as much nonchalance as he could to stand next to her. "Hey there." That was it. Nothing more.

That voice! Which had her head whip up and around as her other hand discreetly rolled down the sleeve of her sweater. One specially made of course for her wings. Riding pants afforded her comfort as she wasn't feeling girlish today to wear a gown of any sort. Her smile was quick, perhaps too quick to draw his attention there. "Hey there. Where were you last night? You did get my message?" Tipping her head to the left as temple feathers puffed up a bit in concern. Leaf green eyes intense on him as if picking up anything that might support concern.

He turned to lean his back against the edge of the barcounter, one arm cocked to the surface for support. "Yes, got it. Also got stuffed in the armory cleaning and repairing all sorts of stuff. There was no leaving for me." He smiled to his sister, then the smile faded a little and he leaned toward her. He straightened away from her but still continued his lean. "Nice little scratch you have there, Sis. Banshee battle?" More like branch battle he'd bet, but grinned all the same.

"So late at night?" She was relieved he got the note for certainly she had made sure one was left as he requested. Sorry he didn't make it though. She blinked and pulled back instinctively, then swatting at him when he leaned close like that. Except color drained from her features, more than her usual pale skin afforded. "You might say something like that." She was debating if she should tell him. He would get to hear some in the least, few knew she was wounded, not that she was wounded badly, they were only scratches and bites. "We all had to leave there last night. The boys had all their pranks ready for a fun time but then, other things showed up that had nothing to do with the lads.."

Concessa had no idea what time it was but she tossed and turned until she couldn't sleep anymore. Certainly it was not early but considering they didn't get here until around five am when the sky was just starting to look a lighter shade of black. She had thrown on a soft cotton gown of browns with gold lacing. Nothing too fancy. Bare feet and hair somewhat mussed was left down without being brushed. Gave a little wild look to one that seemed to be almost sleepwalking with a haunted look about her too. Still she smiled, "good morning," as she was right over to get some coffee from Alex.

So late at night? "All night." He muttered with almost a grumble, although he was elated with Karl's reaction to his hard work come the morning. He considered his sister with a cant of head, and the slightest twitch of a narrowed look. "What other things?" His voice lowered as he spoke the last words, looking to the lass joining them. He offered her an uplift of chin, and even though the conversation had gotten a bit more serious, he was still a lad, and this other a lass, and he managed to shift his weight to pass a not so obvious look from her head to her feet and back up again. His sister may not even notice.

She would not notice her brother in particular noticing a lass. He never had before and it would not dawn on her he was not a little lad anymore. "Hello Concessa, this is my brother, Tykir. Concessa saw one of the things." Sliding a glance back to her. They had talked for a while last night but all were worn out fast and needed sleep.

She drank down a few careful mouthfuls of her coffee before looking a bit more awake. Still a sleepy smile emerged as dark brown eyes turned on Rina then her brother. "Hello Tykir, nice to meet you," offering her other hand but the conversation brought back that haunted look. "The squires had rigged up things to scare us, all in fun but then some things happened that had nothing to do with our pranks. Not sure what they were but they didn't like us invading their place. The thing was hooded, maybe others from the island or mainland went to really give us a scare but there was something strange about them too." She couldn't really put her finger on it.


Tykir pushed up and slipped his hand under hers, offering a gentle shake of introduction. "Pleasure, Concessa." As his eased his hand free, he returned to that relaxed stance, back to bar. "Shame I missed it." His attention diverted back to his sister. "Is that what you got tangled up with, those hooded things?" He slanted a look over his shoulder in search of Alex. He didn't exactly want to have the man overhearing their discussion. He wasn't sure how much his mother knew and how much Rina wanted her to know. They needed to be careful.

At least the introduction gave her a few moments to collect herself, even smile between the two and Concessa to support what she was saying. None of them knew what had gone down only that there was the feel they were or might be in danger so Evan and Mariah got them out of there. She took a very long moment to answer Tykir. That look was this is between us. "I flew up for I saw something moving along a balcony at the top of the roof. I got attacked by this oversized Raven looking bird. Luckily I had a knife with me and fended myself off. I was bigger than it and left it wounded by the time everyone was out of the manor and we headed out real fast, but kept light around us. Seems the things didn't like light."

Concessa had a sweet smile and it was there as she couldn't help but notice that Tykir was cute. Not that she would say such. He didn't look too much younger either. She watched him under the fringe of dark lashes as all these thoughts were entertained as he talked to Rina, nodding her head now and then to confirm what she was saying.


"Dang, Rina." A deep frown marked his brow, and he looked between the two females. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." He muttered, almost too soft for either of them to hear. "Are you going to tell anyone so those things can be found out?"

"Yes, it was an easy decision that Karl and mother be told. I told the others I would tell being I can so easily. Today. Later." But that worried look kept to her features as she looked down. Did she tell them about fighting the bird? Best to no matter the outcome. She rolled up her sleeve enough for him to see the cuts, some scratches, red lines and some deeper, gouges but they had Andrew's salve on them and the healing beginning already. She was quick to roll her sleeve back down while Concessa wasn't really noticing that, so done in a way her brother would only really see.

"Rina." Tykir hissed low, looking over the damage done to her flesh. He shook his head, shooting a look to Concessa then back to his sister. "I'll come with you, even though I didn't go."

She heard that hiss that only confirmed that she needed to not waste any more time. She had waited long enough. "Then come with me now?" At least if there was anything to be said about her fighting the bird, her brother would be at her side. There was some comfort in that so she was up from her stool. "Catch you later Concessa," having become friends now. There then to her brother as she started for the door. She knew he would be right with her and easy for them to fly up into the castle and find their mother and Karl.

She had tried not to pay too much attention to what seemed a private conversation. Although once addressed she smiled their way. "Please take care and I'll see you soon Rina. Nice to meet you Tykir," as the two made their exit. She had heard enough so mentally wished them well in seeking out the King and Queen to tell them of last eve. Mariah and Evan ready to be summoned if needed as per the conversation last evening.

Tykir offered Concessa a brief but well meant bow of departure. Tykir would be with Rina, now, and whenever she needed him for support. It was the way for them. Always had been, would always be.



Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 16

The Tale of Ashford

Honeee always loved when Karl got to spend time with his children. Although he considered Rina and Tykir his as well but they were getting older and more independent. Carlton and Lydia absolutely adored their father and it was a real treat to break fast together. Heartbreaking thought as she was almost at the point a few months ago to have to tell them he was gone, not just on a long trip. Once the morning ritual was done, a pleasant tea room was procured not far from Karl's office to see Rina and Tykir there. Tea was served for any to enjoy, kept hot in a porcelain kettle. Of course there were scones, and pastries she knew the two liked. That was her touch as the maid got the room readied while Karl escorted the little ones to their teacher for their morning music lessons. A note was sent to Rina which she happened to know Tykir was with her. That had not surprised Honeee.

Rina had gotten the note that she was to meet with Karl and her mother in the Rose Tea Room. She knew exactly where that one was so she was soon pounding on Tykir's door adjacent to hers from their shared antechamber. "Tykir, it is time, Karl will see us now along with Mother." Pressing her ear to the door a moment to see if she could hear him snoring, that he'd possibly fallen back asleep. She didn't hear much of anything so stepped back and waited yet ready to pound on his door again.

Tykir was seated at his desk, finishing up some of the studies he had left to the last minute when the pounding started. He knew the approximate time they would join their mother and Karl, but he had let the hours get away from him so the pounding startled him, caused him to actually jump. "Blast it." He grumped, swiping the pad of his thumb along a blob of ink that he splattered at the edge of his page. He looked around, now what to do with the ink on his thumb. His pants were black, and so, there solved his dilemma. He stood, leaned over his paper and blew gently, then realizing it would have time to dry by the time he got back, he crossed to the door and opened it. He stood there, arm lifted above his head against the side doorframe as he looked his sister over. "You're wearing that?" His lip pulled up into a half grin and he shot her a wink. "Good choice, come on."

She dipped a look over her modest long dress of dark green trimmed in gold. Appropriate she felt and not overly dressed. Hair was a golden sheen as she had brushed it well. She should look her best even if the King was their step dad. Eyes narrowed that lifted on him. "You're wearing that and what is that stain on your thumb?" So there was still a grey mark left, course she would notice and make mention of it. "C'mon," as they were wasting time when there was no more to waste, make haste instead or be late. Both were lithe of foot as she half ran, half walked down the corridor, the flight of steps down to be taken and a few more corridors until arriving at the Rose Tea Room as requested. She made note her mother was already there but not Karl. She ran over to give her a hug.

Honeee has just poured a cup of tea when the two arrived, a little winded so she knew they had run some of the way so as not to be late. The hug not only accepted but returned as she would for Tykir as well. Once done, "have some tea and a bite to eat if you're hungry."

Karl entered just behind the two making a towering backdrop against the forms of teenagers. He watched as they received their embrace of greeting then moved over to pass just behind Tykir. A light but sturdy pat of shoulder as he moved around him and bent to place a kiss to their mother's temple. As he straightened he looked to Rina. "Good morning, M'Lady. Please." He indicated the places at the table their mother had prepared for them, even as he took his seat. He had not yet changed into his field gear, so the cream cable knit sweater contrasted the darkness of his hair and features, making for a figure not many saw. The king in everyday clothes. These two, however, were different and often spent time in the company of the king and queen, comfortable and informal, for obvious reasons! He didn't take up a cup himself, but rested his arms on the table before him, fingers laced.

Tykir offered a kiss to his mother and received the hug from her then stood away. Only to receive that pat on the shoulder which caused him to stiffen. The Dark One had joined them. He cut a quick look Rina's direction then held the chair out for her to sit. "A beautiful morning, is it not? And doesn't Rina look lovely in green?"

Carlton and Lydia were not the only two that absolutely adored this man. The cast of ocean blue eyes said it all that watched him as he came through the door. It was a treat to have him in everyday clothes or, to be honest, in no clothes at all appropriately. Tykir's reaction to Karl was always classic and hard for her not to laugh. Instead she took her seat intent on listening after all hugs and kisses of affection were done. "Yes she does as you are looking very handsome, Tykir." As in saying he was growing up into a handsome man.

Rina's heart raced once Karl entered the room. She wasn't sure how her account would be received and the fact she fought this bird. The scratches and bites were covered up but she fully intended to show them. Andrew's salve was working wonders but the damage that had been there would still be noticed. A glance up silently thanking her brother for seeing to her chair. She poured some tea and even took a sip as she waited to start once everyone was seated and Karl gave the go-ahead.

The prince waited for his sister to be seated then claimed a chair for himself. He kept his thumb tucked, lest it give away the fact he wasn't exactly as put together as his mother may think, thanks to Rina! "Thank you, Mother, and you are as beautiful as ever. Is she not, Sir?" Slathering it on a bit thick was he? He grinned to Karl but that grin faded ever so slightly when the Dark One just looked his way, nodded the once, then looked to Rina. Oh boy...Tykir was about to begin.

Dark blue eyes returned to Rina. "What's on your mind, Solarina? I will say you have both of us quite curious and a bit concerned." The contrast in voices, Tykir's manly but innocent compared to Karl's warrior-deep and steeped in experiences could not be missed. So much so, Tykir cleared his throat and shut the heck up for now, allowing Rina to speak instead.

Tykir lathering it on thick only had Honeee smile. Amused certainly. She knew if he learned the art of it, perfected it, he too would have the ladies drooling over him. Presently she wondered if he would like that drooling or find it gross. She said nothing more but expectantly turned her focus on Rina.

Rina set her cup down as it rattled somewhat in the saucer, or so it seemed more prominent to her. She took a breath as leaf green eyes traveled from her brother to her mother to Karl, stopping there. "You are well aware of Hallow's Eve escapade to Ashford Island. An Island that has pretty much been abandoned as well its manor. A place believed harmless for a group of teens to have a fun night at. Knowing the place was taken care of originally and sound of structure." She was sounding so grown up even to her ears.  It amazed her that the quiver she felt in her chest didn't come out in her voice. She also folded her hands neatly on her lap so she didn't pull at threads on her sleeve edges or the like. "Chaperones accompanied us who made wise decisions and got us all out safely once it became realized that there was something afoot that supported all those old rumors and possible danger. None of us can be exactly sure what these creatures are as the ones on the grounds didn't hurt anyone. Or, didn't get a chance to for our hasty departure. Of course the squires and lads that came had their harmless pranks all set up but things started showing up that were not part of their pranks.


I know Squire Bannon and Squire Kieran saw them face to face as did Concessa Quinn and Evan Hunt when in the manor. I did not but I did have a different encounter. I thought I saw someone moving along the upper roof balcony and so flew up. It was not one of us what I saw but almost immediately I was attacked," as she rolled up her one sleeve to expose the wounds inflicted but she had seen to their care too, "it clawed and bit. Luckily I had a eating knife with me and so defended myself. It took a number of stabbing and luckily there was only one and I was much larger than it. It looked like an overgrown, three times the size, Raven. The eyes beady with a strange look to them. It flew off bleeding as I joined the others below and then headed for the boats. We made sure all our lanterns were on while Joshua and Shaun made torches to light. The creatures seemed to avoid the light." That was all of it as much as she could remember. Now was the crucial point as she let a breath pass softly from her lips.

"Christ, Rina." Karl sat forward, reaching out to take gentle hold of her arm, turning it to see the extent of the injury well on its way to healing but still identifiable. He looked to Honeee then back to the girl. He was aware what Tykir had been doing that night, so he was unable to protect his sister, that subject need not be addressed. With the fast rate of healing, her oldest brother must have been part of the healing process. Had she told him why she needed the salve or what had happened? "None others were hurt such as this?" He sat back again, reaching this time from his side to rest a hand on Honeee's leg. "The natives from the colony mean to make Ashford their home, whatever evil resides there needs to be vanquished before they settle." He turned to look to his wife. "With our departure in a few days..." He would have to leave the clearing of the evil up to her alone. Not that she couldn't handle it, she had many times taken care of 'business' before his arrival, while he was away. He just regretted having to think of her having to do it.

Tykir sat up, reaching out to take Rina's hand where her arm still rested on the table. "I can help, Mother." Then as an aside, he looked to Karl. "Sire." Shoulders squared and he offered Rina a tight squeeze of hand. "I can manage any part of it that you need of me, Mother." Once more he looked to Karl, almost a pleading look that the man agree. "You know that I can, Sire." He almost slipped and said Father. It was how he felt about Karl, a respectful devotion that went deeper than just a guardian. Still, because of that respect, and especially the discussion at hand, Tykir stuck with formal titles
. "Afterall, Andrew's wards have not stepped in for the place...surely we can handle them." Tykir drew in a deep breath and held it, waiting for the decision.

Honeee had been told by Andrew that Rina had come to him but it was up to her to tell them all that happened rather than he relate what she needed to. Honeee understood and was also assured by Andrew that it was natural for Rina at this point, not to worry her parents if she could take care of it herself. She was growing up. He also had assured her that there was no infection on any other level from the creature. Still it hurt her inside to see the wounds inflicted but also a pride in her daughter for defending herself too.

Rina stiffened with Karl's reaction and taking her arm to get a better look. It was a natural response and unsure how they would react that she had taken care of herself. Nothing against either of them but she was all grown up in her mind and proving herself. "No. None others got hurt other than some bruises and scratches but I think they were more in the haste to get out of the manor when it was realized it was occupied." A blink given her brother but then a smile. "I could help too. We can see to this so you need not worry Dad." Respectfully and it slipped out. Odd how she felt that although he was not her Father she barely remembered, he was her Dad. He was the one that made her mother happy, made her glow, and the one that took interest in them, treated them as his own. She looked from her brother to her mother to Karl to wait on the verdict.

Honeee stepped in here as something else came to mind in speaking with her son on this situation. "The wards are odd in what exactly they cover as Ashford is barely along the line of their influence. Andrew has offered to go in seeing to these creatures or whatever is wrong with Ashford Manor. The wards never picked up on ghosts that infest a number of old manors and homesteads. They are sort of residents. It does react to outside forces trying to come in with a negative intent." She would leave the decision to Karl on this or any suggestion of someone else he felt should be in charge. Andrew had a lot on his plate as Karl well knew in keeping the lands safe on many levels but he would help if they needed him.

Tykir huffed. In his opinion, Andrew was all-powerful. This force out there, protecting them all with some superhuman ability. He was ... da'bomb! "Andrew doesn't need to do that, Mother. We can handle it."

Karl remained silent as Honeee explained the working of Andrew's forces, then as Tykir took over the responsibility for Ashford. Karl extended his hand in the teenagers' direction, palm up, presenting their case back to their mother before he rested it in a soft fist on the table. "Rina, you did well in defending yourself, and seeing to your own healing, and then being wise enough to seek us out and explain the goings on there." He dipped his head to  her as a sign of respect for her mature decision making. "And Tykir, I have no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that you and your sister could not return to the island with sufficient support and tend to the matters there. However...." And here he paused, and watched as Tykir grimaced anticipating the deferring of duty. "If you two do will only be with adequate backing, determined by your mother, and never, ever, and I mean to make myself explicitly clear here, not ever by yourselves." He turned his attention to Honeee. "Are you comfortable with that arrangement?" The two across from them needed to experience that there was more to life than field training and dungeon exploring. With proper backing, both spiritually and physically, this may just be the perfect opportunity. Dangerous, yes. Unknown, most definitely. A true life experience.

"I do indeed agree. The very fact so little is known and the very fact even if no one else was hurt, Rina was. If she had not a knife on her, she may have been seriously wounded. I would first assign any, up to all of the Horsemen to take on this task with you both but they will not be here and in what is known to be grave danger. I do know this, Tykir, if your brother Andrew takes you, he will allow you the experience you need without being the death of you if these creatures are far more dangerous than realized." She, at the moment could not think of anyone safer to send them with. "Although, perhaps, there are Andrew's Force of Five to choose from or perhaps I will send the two female warriors with you Tykir.." such a sweet little smirk, "like Orlaith and Desiree." Both Elementals.

Rina actually blushed with the compliment, certainly not what she expected to be the outcome of this meeting. Pleased, certainly. From there she listened while rolling the sleeve back down on her gown. She would go but she didn't have the drive like Tykir seemed to have to go back there. She would because it seemed to be that she should.

Deflated. But wait. What? Karl was saying yes? The however...was a yes? The teenager perked, straightened, almost grinned. "You have our word on that, Sire." He waved his forefinger back and forth between himself and Rina. Only with support will we go to the island." And the nodding that followed had him looking to Rina and back to his mother and Karl. Still nodding. Eager. Willing. Ready.

"Very well then." Karl spoke low, providing a light pat of Honeee's leg where his hand rested beneath the shield of table. "We will leave the decision to Andrew who would best serve as the force behind the crown." Karl would have been far more comfortable with his men to escort these two, but only because he knew them so well. Andrew's Force of Five or the Crown Prince himself could and would do just as good a job at keeping the teenagers safe and still allowing them to experience the decision making necessary.

Her hand slid beneath the table's edge to rest on his where it rested upon her leg. Such ideas that brought to mind as they concluded the meeting. He still had to change, he had a little more time. "I will talk to Andrew later, and leave it to him to contact you. His word is law on Ashford Island but you will both go with him or any one he assigns." Enforcing what Karl had stated that she fully approved of that decision. She squeezed his hand before rising as it was for her to rise first. "Stay and have your tea along with the treats." Sliding a glance between them as she felt they probably caught on now that they were older.. or maybe not quite old enough to yet. "Karl, shall we see to your trappings before going out on the field?" He had yet to talk to Peter who would probably remain, along with all the others for that matter, before leaving for the day. Just a smile offered the two as she passed them on her way out along with Karl.

Rina rose as her mother did. She didn't say out loud that she felt safer knowing Andrew was there to help them. Much as Tykir wanted to be all grown up and The Man, that would come in time and she wanted him to live to see that day. "I will see you later, mother." As she had said she would contact them later or that Andrew would. Either or both, she would see her mother later.

"Indeed, I shall." But the King paused next to Tykir, leaning in to speak to the lad. "Explicitly clear." His voice was lowered, just for him and when the young man looked up to him with wide eyes, then nodded, Karl felt confident his command would be obeyed. "Enjoy your day." He offered to them both, then allowed his wife to lead him out, and away. Afterall, there were preparations that needed attending to prior to joining his men on the field.

Date: 11-01-10
Poster: Aaric the Black
Post # 17

Force of Five - Aaric


Although the night was colder than it had been so far, rain came to pelt the ground while the slow steady cadence of hooves mixed with other sounds as they marked the cobble stone below. A hooded figure leaned forward to keep the rain from pelting his face as those that had been about ran for cover. Storm gave a snort leaving a vaporized cloud from each nostril that seemed to crystallize as it fell away. The road thus becoming slippery as it started to freeze upon contact with the earth and stone beneath. Aaric didn't seem to pay the weather much mind as he reined in Storm in front of the tavern. Dismounting in the next moment as he was around to speak to the stallion in an ancient tongue that fell easily from his lips. Storm shook his head sending his mane in tangles of icy formation before trotting off in the direction of stables a short distance down behind the tavern along the side street. The stable boys were use to the horse appearing on his own for some oats and feed as well being brushed down. Coins always left for his care. Aaric took the steps to the tavern's porch and stalled there in a lean against the rail as he lit up a cigarillo to enjoy. From here he could see those still about scurrying carefully to a dry place although the storm was already passing.

Tykir wasn't one of the scurriers but he was hurrying down the side alley to the Thistle door. A wing was raised over his head as protection against the rain. Water dripped from the very tips of his feathers, but his head and shoulders were dry. Worked for him. Just before he entered the establishment, he flicked the wetness away and tucked his uniqueness tight against his back. Thus entered Tykir into the Thistle tavern. He lifted a hand and waved to Alex, glad the man placed potcheen on the counter. Not exactly wet, and not exactly frozen, but chilled enough to appreciate a glass or two of Sean's best.

Tykir may have seen the rather unusual equine that passed him down the street. The Equine noticed him and in turn Aaric became aware. What was left of the cigarillo was flicked out into the street, the red glow of ashes being doused in a puddle leaving a short lived sizzle. Aaric turned and headed in, lowering his hood as he passed through the door then sliding the cloak from his shoulders to a peg. Of course he knew who the young man was, no longer a lad. He headed for the bar and without any pretense spoke up to the very one, "hello Master Tykir. Not the kind of weather you'd want to fly in, ice up your wings." Which if his wings iced up, he'd be spiraling downward.

It was unfortunate that Tykir had been hell bent on watching his boots and getting into the Thistle or else he would have truly been in awe of such a fine creature. He had been grumbling under his breath the whole time as well. Couldn't exactly fly and keep a wing over one's head, so it was hoofing it to the Thistle instead. The use of wings rather spoiled a man and walking became quite a bothersome chore when distance was involved. He had just finished swallowing, and a good thing, because when the man entered, Tykir had already noticed something 'different' about him. But ... THEN ... he mentioned Tykir's name in such a way, the winged royal did a mental scramble. Was he supposed to know this man? ", you're right there." He squinted one eye as he studied the stranger. "And you know me, or of me ... but I'm at the disadvantage." He snapped a look to Alex who just continued to work, so Tykir didn't feel threatened, just a bit confused. "Care to introduce yourself maybe?" Was there just the faintest hint of attitude in that question? Tykir wasn't without a bit of 'tude when the moment called for it. And no man liked to be at the disadvantage which he definitely felt himself to be at the moment.

"Of course I do. Not many young men in these lands have wings. Especially wings of your distinction. Of course there is Gabriel and Raphael but their wings are different even if they fly like yours would bear you from the earth skyward. Then there are a few that don't need wings at all to elevate far above the earth's surface. Anyone who is anybody knows of Master Tykir now that he is growing into a man and one to be contended with each passing year." Yes, Aaric was taking his own good time getting around to the introduction. "I am Aaric, also known as Aaric the Black for no other reason than I am not privilege in knowing my surname and will not take any other in substitute. One day I will learn of it but that is for another day." He extended his hand as he added. "I work with your brother Andrew as part of the Force of Five."

A study was underway as the man spoke. Yeah, not many men had wings. Yeah, Tykir knew the ones that did. Sure, some could levitate or float or whatever and didn't need wings. Tykir was waiting for the introduction, that was all cared about at the moment since the man seemed to know so much about Heathfield, Innis and the men that protected them. And then...the name. And then! The reason he knew of Tykir and had made such an impression when he entered the common room! "One of the Five?" Tykir set his glass aside, smiling. "Aaric the Black, I've heard of you. Quite the honor."

Rina slipped out a window to fly but the weather had her landing rather quick. Though the rain had stopped, the air was still heavy with moisture that could freeze upon her wing feathers. She wore a cloak and so the back was flipped back over her wings. A wary glance over her shoulders before hurrying on foot the rest of the way. She was quick to take the back entrance and commanded the Guard there not to let anyone else in behind her! She was not going to make this easy if Bannon were following her.

He had been a tracker of sorts in the sewers, especially if he didn't wish to get caught. The hardest part of course was knowing when Rina was going to take off. During the day it wasn't so bad but at night, gads! So, after a bit of wheeling and dealing with all the guards Sir Vincent had told him about, he got a signal. He was trying something different too. Some of the houses and shops were close together, easy enough to scramble over the rooftops until the weather got freaky. After a  slip then a slide down one roof and just barely catching himself on a trellis, that sloooooowly fell to the ground, allowing him to land on his feet, he darted in the direction he thought she was going. With all this running, and Bannon still growing, it was going to take at least an extra meal a day for him to keep up. He paused in the commons then decided to head into the front door to see if she was there.

He shook his hand like a man would another man before released. "Aye, one of the five and now I've the honor of meeting you, Master Tykir. You will be meeting the others soon as we are to help you discover the secret of Ashford Manor and possibly the whole island." Noticing Bannon come in he greeted him next. "Good evening Squire Bannon, which I hear that wont be too long that it will be Sir."

The front door opened and there stood Bannon. As Tykir released the hold of the hand shake, he looked around the Thistle common room. Was Rina here? "Ah." Tykir answered, pulling his attention very slowly from his scan back to Aaric. "Excellent, that should be quite the interesting adventure." He leaned to the side to catch Bannon's gaze, lifting a hand in question.

"Good evening, Aaric, sir." He managed a half smile to his comment. "It's my hope, sir." Though if he failed this assignment set before him, who could say. He gave Tykir the slightest of shrugs. He thought she was but ... now he wasn't sure.


Rina was still in the back. She had the guard check outside then back to reassure her that the young squire was not in sight, so. he had not tried to follow her back here in the restricted area of the Tavern. She started down the hall but then she heard HIS voice as well her brother's along with another. Steps paused in indecision. She wanted a drink but she could escape without him ever knowing she'd even been here.

He continued on. "When do you think we might start on it?" After all, they had a trip to Kildare to make! "My sister and I are anxious to get this started, to find out what's going on." He shot a wink to Bannon. "Although, Rina may be a bit scared to return. She got scratched up the last she was there, not so sure she wants to go again." And he waited. His sister was a brave one, but she was also proud, and the whole scared comment should bring her out to explain the reason to the Elemental...if she was within.

"I came tonight in the hope that your or your sister or both, were here. I would like to take a trip over tomorrow or the next, weather permitting. We can go early morning and check around. I was told that your sister was attacked and she drove off the beastly bird although left it with some wounds." The way he spoke, spoke highly of his sister that she braved such a creature and even won the battle.

She heard that! She was quick to come in, cloak still on her as she proclaimed. "I'm not scared to go back or I would not have said I'd help." Giving Tykir a glare for he knew better! It was then she noticed Bannon with a slightly wide eyed look before looking away just as quickly and pretending he was not there. She took off her cloak as she headed for the bar, "some blueberry punch Alex, please." She was wearing a red satin gown that she'd been trying on for the upcoming festive season of Yule Tide.

Tykir didn't doubt his sisters bravery or the fact she had spirit! She was in the process of displaying that 'spirit' with gusto as she charged the room. Tykir smiled to himself, ducking his head to hide the amusement in his eyes and only when he felt he had it under control did he look back over to Aaric. "Maybe I should have said apprehensive, since she knows some of the dangers there." His gaze touched on Bannon, then he turned to look to Rina. "Do you know Aaric the Black, Rina? He and the other Four of Five will be helping us at the island." He turned back to Aaric then. "Will it be only the three of us or all of us tomorrow morning or the next?" What if whatever was there and mad?  Shouldn't all seven of them venture out, there was safety in numbers after all!

Once she had a glass of the punch, she turned to face her brother and the handsome man near. Oh. She went slightly wide eyed again. There was something about him too that was not of the norm, like being around her older brothers. "It is a pleasure to meet you Sir Aaric. I'm pleased to know you will be helping us." If she was here tomorrow or the next, she had heard that. Leoric was leaving soon and she planned to be going with him but would leave it sounding that she was staying for one certain squire in the room.

Lips twitched slightly at Rina's reaction and had gave Tykir the slightest hint of a grin. Then he cleared his throat and looked at Aaric. "Uh, excuse me, Sir Aaric? I'm uh, well, I've been assigned by Sir Vincent de Beauvais to escort the Princess, everywhere and anywhere." If she thought that Leoric wouldn't know that he was to guard her or the whole bloody castle by now, she was mistaken. Some of the younger squires didn't keep secrets well.  And if she wasn't with them in the morning, he'd head back to the castle.

"I'm honored to meet you finally, Princess Rina." Being he was still standing, he bowed his head to her then addressed Tykir's question. "Any and all those who can make the initial investigation. I will not wait on anyone in starting this project other than weather." Not even Tykir if he decided to sleep in. Aaric was a man of action and not a baby sitter of anyone, regardless of their age. The other three should be accompanying him. "Then by all means, Squire Bannon, join us in our search tomorrow or the next." He would not hold him back if Sir Vincent assigned him the task of guarding, or escorting, the princess.

Thing was, Rina had shared her intentions with Bannon, so if she wasn't at the castle and Leoric was gone then the squire could very well guess where she had hied off to. He didn't say anything, just listened for now. Seemed Aaric was taking control over Tykir's quest. Had he been older, he may have been offended. At seventeen, it was all good. Less he had to do since he really didn't know what he was supposed to do!

There was a short moment there after hearing Aaric giving Bannon the go ahead to come with them to Ashford that her bottom lip quivered and she almost looked like there were tears burning in her eyes. She caught the reaction and turned to collect her drink from Alex.

"Thank you, sir. I'll escort her to meet you." Aww, man. Not tears. He just pretended not to see them and just squared his shoulders slightly. He hadn't even gotten a drink tonight so he wouldn't be the least bit tipsy if he had to chase her again. And at least he didn't call it guarding.  Tykir would figure things out. Right now all Bannon was doing was his best, and apparently badly!

Tykir elbowed his sister with excitement. Ashford or Kildare, either way they'd be getting into some deep 'stuff'.

What Aaric planned was to teach or at least guide Tykir in becoming proficient as an investigator, how to go about it, what to look for, where to look for clues and what to do with them. In the least he would discover how good Tykir was. This was what his brother Andrew wanted for him. The situation at Ashford provided the means in a hands on experience and the four, to make sure nothing harmed them.

Tykir always seemed to find the best in any given situation!

"Guess I better go and rest up then, don't want to be late. coming?" To Ashford? Or to the castle? Let Rina decide which one she'd answer to.

"I will walk you both back," glancing to Rina then back to her bother. "Not a night to fly and we can talk a little more on the way."

She drank down her drink in near one shot before it was set away. "I'm coming, are you coming too Squire Bannon?" A way to take a grip of the situation.

"Aaric is coming with us, I think Bannon could use the break." He slanted a look the squire's way. Tykir knew that Bannon couldn't watch Rina 24/7 and there were times, such as this, he could be relieved of his duty. She was with Aaric and Tykir, Bannon could breathe. "Night, Bannon. See you in the morning." He tilted toward Rina. "Give the guy a break, Sis, he's doing what he was assigned to do. I wouldn't want to be in his boots." He gave his sister's hair a tug, just as he had when he was younger, but affection was now in the gesture whenever it was performed as young adults.

"Aye, he might be but I can't help it if I don't like it at all. No matter if he doesn't like it." Maybe once she adjusted she would be better at it. "He has to go back to the castle anyway." Which was true. Either way she headed for the side door and outside, to await them there, grumbling under her breath. She never needed a guard before! Well, not since she was little. She was in a pout and even the hair tugging was not going to ease it at the moment. At least she could cool off outside.

Now he was a bit confused and he shrugged. "I'll uh ... follow." He would just return to the barracks anyway, put up with a bit of ribbing, and then go to sleep. And then his day would start all over again.

Aaric took all in but the man gave nothing away as to his thoughts. "Shall we then?" Leaving them to their individual decisions as he stepped outside to where the princess waited.

Tykir chuckled. "Yes, but he may want to go back to the castle, anyway, without you!" He called to her retreating form. He followed, but a few paces behind Aaric and Rina out of the door. Why was it she did need a guard now, when she never had before? Maybe it was because of the dangers that swirled just on the borders of these lands. Or...had she been guarded before and she just hadn't realized it because her shadow didn't have a specific name and that name didn't have the same face everyday? Who was Tykir to try to figure it out. He didn't even care. It was what it was. Rina had a guard. He didn't. Adventures awaited. Life was good.

Tykir was going to have a sore arm tonight for surely she would punch his left arm again once he was outside and got close enough.

With Aaric between them, he started toward the castle ... walking. Ugh.

He bit his lip to keep from laughing, and followed along silently. And now that he was around the two so much, he was wondering ... just what it was like to be able to fly.  And yes, he had decided it wasn't such a bad thing to be an only child!



Date: 11-07-10
Poster: Jon Stirling
Post # 18

Stirling Scourge

The village of Tarifa, sat on a rugged coast of Spain just 11 kilometers across from Africa.  Unlike the Pine Islands, the village was rarely attacked by the Barbary pirates and it's location made it a perfect place for ships to port to take on water and supplies.  While fishing was the main source of revenue, those ships were also a source of gold. 

The village itself was picturesque with colorful buildings that showed Moorish influence and a small fortress built to oversee it all though the soldiers that manned it were small in number.  Along the coast were caves, some of which disappeared during high tide.  It was rumored that some of the caves were used by pirates as their bases. Most of the natives, including the soldiers weren't interested in finding out for certain, as long as the pirates left the village alone. Of course, the visitors to the village were often told tales of how the Barbary pirates swept down on the Pine islands to the point where the King was considering evacuating them.  There were also tales of a new twosome, ones just as fierce and deadly without a bit of morals or compassion.  Though they sailed together on one ship, it was said at one time they had sailed together with two ships, and for a time, there was a third.  Speculation was often made on where that one, Stirling Scourge was. Some said the one called Blackbeard had killed him, some said he preferred the wilder seas of the Cape, while others said he sailed in the Caribbean, under the orders of Black Doom so that he gained experience.

The fate of the youngest of the Unholy Trinity was most often talked about in the tavern of The Dancing Moon.  It was located near the docks and was popular with the sailors both from the town and who came there.The proprietor, one Will Saxton, was willing to take items for food and drinks as well as coins.  He was willing to see to the sale of certain types of items and only took ten percent for his commission. His lasses were amiable and pretty, his drink and food good and though he only had a few rooms upstairs to rent out, they were cleaner than most of the places dockside.

Will Saxton was a tall man, lean and muscular with an athlete's build and the hungry look of a wolf.  He was good natured for the most part but the few who had seen him angry claimed he had the eyes of a madman.  There were rumors he had killed a man, that he had made a pact with the devil, that he was a priest who had left the church after a fire.  He'd laugh at the mention of them of the rumors especially the last.  True, he did have scars that covered the left side of his back.  The other side was heavily tattooed as if to draw the eye away from the scars.  He avoided talking about them except to say he had been in a fire and barely remembered what happened. 

He was sitting at his private table when a group of sailors came in, looking a bit worse for the wear.  Among them was a man he recognized and he called him over.  "What happened to ye, Billy?" He asked as the man sat and one of the lasses poured him a shot of whiskey.  Billy downed that shot and poured another from the bottle she had left, then he leaned toward Will.

Billy kept his voice low as he spoke, dark eyes darting about.  "We was attacked, Cap'n, by the devils themselves."

"Will," came the reminder though he was smiling as he asked a question. "On one ship?"

"Aye, on one. But still devils."

Will threw back his head and laughed, then lifted his own glass in toast to Billy. "Go get a meal. Tell the lass everythin' is on me. You can have one of the rooms upstairs, a hot bath and a wench if you want.  Tomorrow, we'll talk." 

Billy gave a gap-toothed grin before he left to speak to one of the women.  Will watched him before he downed the last of his drink. He spoke to the lass that had served Billy, then headed for a door marked "privado".   Beyond the door was a hall that led to a courtyard and from there to Will's private quarters.  He looked up at the sky, drawing in a deep breath of cool night air. There were stars but clouds were moving in and it would be raining by morning.  A large black dog stood as he approached and he patted his heat.  "Come on, lad.  Time to go in and relax a bit."  A fire was burning in the fireplace in his bedroom and the dog went immediately to a rug there and laid down.  Will chuckled but instead of preparing to bed, he walked to the west wall and pushed a hidden lever.  A door in the wall swung inward and he stepped inside a room where he lit a lantern.  Inside were many different articles having to do with sailing but he went straight to a chest and opened it.

Pulling out a coat of black decorated with silver trim he held it up then tried it on.  After a few moments, the coat was placed back in the chest.  It was early for those in the tavern but he was tired and had a lot on his mind.  Stripping down, he laid on the bed, his hands behind his neck.  His thoughts were on the news he had heard today and his life here in Spain.  Nothing had been resolved when he finally fell asleep but there was tomorrow.


Date: 11-11-10
Poster: Keriann Frasier
Post # 19



Nights were long sometimes that she worked long hours having a suite in the castle and a nanny for her children. Some might think it lonely but for Keri, it gave her mind a chance to travel to that creative place and her escape from reality. A productive escape as she circled the newest sculpture, stepping in every so often to chip away at the marble. Hard to tell exactly who it was of other than the shapes were taking on human form, one seated next to the other on a chaise lounge. This time of night it was exceptionally quiet in this wing that expanded three floors, two for the library and the gallery over it. Most likely Abigail was still working downstairs and usually came up before she left to have Keri realize the time and get some sleep. Clad in overalls with her hair penned up, she still didn't look much the tom boy for the way the britches fit. Perhaps she was a little thinner than she should be but life had been emotionally hard for some time. Except for her children, she'd been given a raw deal from the first she had met her former husband. It was over but some things would still take time and she was progressing. She'd gone out and met some others. Including men.

There had been some extra trips to Kildare of late, supplies that it would seem would be used during the winter and possibly for a war that was rumored. For the most part, Morgan ignored the rumors, knowing there would be some truth to them. He felt it best not to speculate and just do the work without question. Tonight had been the first night back and he made a trip to the castle to see if Keri was about. He had been told she worked late. Guided in the right direction by a servant, he tapped lightly on the gallery door. No point in startling the woman if she was there.

Startled with the knock on the door, which was unlocked still, she nearly dropped her chisel. Fumbling with it a moment before sliding it into her belt. She was quickly over to open up the door, "it's not locked, silly," teasing glint in dark eyes as she expected to see Abigail or even her sister. Eyes went wide as there stood the handsome Callihan Captain. A blush to follow immediately as she stood there momentarily frozen as the reality of his being here sunk in. The expression was rather comical in the least.

He had his hat in his hand, as he leaned there though he was laughing when he heard her. "Well, I didnae think I should jus' walk in," he answered with a grin as she opened the door, and he gave her a bow. "Me apologies, dear lady, as I've been sailing between here and Kildare before the weather grows foul and haven't been able to come before." The accent became a little less, though still there. "That is, if you still want me to pose for you?"

The flush to her cheeks deepened. She could feel the heat yet she couldn't help but laugh with him. He had that kind of laugh. "Most likely if you had, I'd probably of had a heart attack I was so into my work." That scenario probably would have been worse, or more comical. "I had heard you were away," hand fluttering like a bird flying as she realized she still blocked the doorway and stepped to the side to allow his entry. Maybe he'd not notice that her comment meant she had asked on his welfare, or even whereabouts. "Yes, I do. Of course. If you still want to, but you must if you are here." Which playing on logic, she answered her own question. "Please come have a seat," she was already moving across the rotunda on polished flooring. All wide open except for statues here and there in this foyer of the gallery. She ducked into an office room only to come back out dragging a chair with her to the area of best lighting the place had to offer this late.

She was lovely and even more so when she blushed but he just smiled at her. And though he noticed the comment, he didn't say anything about it. Poor lass was flustered enough. "I always keep my word if possible." He watched as she walked away, then followed, pausing as she went into the office. When she dragged out the chair, he nearly took it but realized she was seeking a spot. Once she had it in place, he smiled at her. "You'll have to tell me what exactly you want me to do."

"You're an honorable man then, Morgan Callihan." Pushing the strands of curling hair back from her eyes as she completed the task of chair dragging. She had lost faith in honorable men even if she knew there were many in these lands. Why she came home. Her hand sweeping down to indicate the chair. "Please sit here. I think the lighting will be good." And she was hurrying back to her office again to get a sketch pad and charcoal.

"I'm not sure if a seafarin' man is supposed to be honorable." He sounded thoughtful then he smiled again. "As you command." And he sat down, waiting expectantly. "If it's not, I can come back. I've no business for the week while m'ship is in dry dock."

She was getting over her insecurities and self consciousness as a smile lit her features. "That's a dangerous thing to say to a woman," teasing as she was over to slide her fingers under his jaw and chin to ease to a certain angle where it captured the lines of his face in a dynamic way. "Perhaps I can get a sketch of you on your ship?" If he allowed her more than one setting, she was going to take advantage of it. "You've a dynamic face. Handsome." Least in her mind and then realized what she had said. That tint to her cheeks was not going away any time soon at this rate. She was her own undoing as well. She stepped back cradling the sketch book in her left arm as she started the preliminary lines.

He couldn't help smiling at her in a way that lit up his face. Once she had him move his head, he kept still though he nodded. "Aye, you can if you want." His crew would be on their best behavior until she left. Then he'd be in for a lot of good natured ribbing. "Thank you. Sometimes I think I look too blasted young."

Which had her pause as she got in the major lines and distances that would capture 'his look' that the drawing, when finished, would be recognized as him. "How young do they think you are compared to how old you are?" She had no idea, certainly she looked young for her age too more than likely.

"I've been asked if I'm eighteen." He laughed and shrugged. "Though I guess when I'm older, that'll be a relief. I'm 24 but I've always been asked that. It's worse for Faelan I think."

"I would not say you look eighteen, certainly there is a maturity about your eyes and the way your jaw sets," dark eyes lingering until she caught herself and dipped her chin as well her focus on the page below. She stared at it what seemed a suspended moment before reacting as the charcoal was set into motion. Shading with her hand, fingers mostly, as she went.

"Maybe at first glance." He gave her a half smile, then watched her as she began to get into the art work. It had always intrigued him how artists could do so much with lines and shading. He remained silent but had a feeling even if he talked away, she'd not lose her focus.

She might not hear him once she was focused in what she was doing. She was up and over to get a better look at how his ear was shaped even if partially hidden by his hair. It had been some time since she needed to use any social skills. She would probably falter but better to try than not, "so... what do you do with your time when you're not sailing or having your picture drawn," smile twitched just at the corners as she straightened from the lean for that better look and sketched it in correctly as she remained standing there. The scent of apple blossoms seemed to surround her.

He tried not to laugh as she studied his ear. That was an odd feeling. "Depends where I am at the time I suppose. I gamble, more than I should probably. I spend time with my father if I'm at Montrose, family when I can." He liked the scent, thinking it reminded him of spring. "If I'm somewhere I've never been and no one is trying to kill me, I explore. And ... I read books." That last might be a bit of a surprise.

Probably even more odd when the drift of her breath caressed when that close. At least she didn't blow in his ear. Yet. "I'd like to explore again," wistful all considering as she made her way around to the other side because ears were not exactly alike even if so very close. This one she lightly blew on to move the hair aside so she could see, being she couldn't use her fingers or he'd have charcoal marks on it.

He closed one eye in reaction, trying to stop the shiver. Lordie! He did laugh, drawing his shoulders up. "What are you doing that for?" He could move the hair! "Where did you explore? And why can't you now?" It took all he could do to keep from turning his head to look at her.

Which had her blink then turn red when she realized cause and effect. "Oh, I'm sorry. I wanted to move some of your hair away from your ear so I could see it better look like the other." She was fumbling wasn't she! She stepped back more for her own sake that she didn't embarrass herself more. "I was married not long ago, but not for some time. Long story but I have twins. They are young and I don't think it is fair to leave them under the care of others too often or too long. Although those at Falkirk, it's like a huge school with mothers and nannies and they would take them if I had a place to go," lips ceased their motion as she realized she was rambling.


He just grinned though it faded a bit. That couldn't be easy on her, though she was lucky for having a large family. "Do you stay here or at Falkirk? And, to make a suggestion if you don't take offense, you would do yourself and them better if you did take an occasional day. Away from work, something for fun. Did you grow up here? Or in Ballicastle?"

"I stay here in the castle. I have a suite and a nanny for the children. Because of my hours, Kathleen suggested I leave the children there at Falkirk and go there on the weekends to spend with them for I'm not really spending much time even with them here." It was breaking her heart, this dilemma. "It might be better because they would have cousins to grow up with and far more things to do." She got that far away look before dipping her chin, eyes going downcast for she could feel the tears welling up in them. Her voice was small and faraway, "I will figure it out." So she hoped. "I don't know what I would do with myself wandering around alone," which she tried to bring back some cheerfulness, "I'd probably get lost." Chin lifting as well dark eyes as a slight smile threatened, like it wasn't sure. "I grew up mostly in Scotland. We all moved here years ago, the main family even longer ago."

"And you've not explored this land yet. Lass, are yae daft?" He chuckled, then did look at her. "Keriann, I don't know a thing about raising children but I am certain they know when their mother isn't happy. Do you have assistants who can deal with the public when you're not here?"

"I will give it a try and see if it works out better. I can always go and visit them during the week. Any time." So there was that. Still, it was a hard decision for her. "I've not had time. I barely came here when I was hounded," yes, she had been hounded by her X in the beginning. She wanted to keep clear of that topic, "anyway, as I said, a long story. Since I returned from Scotland, I got my old job back here and I've not had time to explore or train an assistant. Although my sister could take over for me." She was mussing over ideas, "I suppose I could see if Abigail is free and would like to explore. Although," now here she smiled, "I think should rather explore it with Michael McAndrews."

"Try it just for two weeks. If you're utterly miserable, it won't do you any good either." He looked thoughtful a moment. "I've got some free time. Why don't we take a day and we'll get a packed lunch from the Thistle, get horses and really explore. What would you like to see? And, there are a few places I haven't seen. We can even sail along the coast once my ship is gone over by the shipwrights."

"I would love that!" Being totally honest and how she brightened at the idea. She had been told she should see some men again but had not. There were one or two that came to the gallery trying to get her to go out but she had no interest. This would make a few relatives happy. Make them feel like she was getting over her hurt and at the same time, she felt she could really have a good time with Morgan. "Yes, when would you have time? I can arrange mine."

"I'm free for the next week for certain. There's no real damage to the Naiad that I know of but she needs to be made ready for winter. You pick the day, and we'll start early, see as much as we can see. Maybe we'll make it as far as the lighthouse. The view from there is amazing." He gave her an easy smile. "That is, if that's the direction you want to go, and we'll be sure to see the Celtic Gardens if you haven't seen it yet. And when the ship is ready,  we can take the twins to Ballicastle that way if you'd like."

"How about the day after tomorrow? That will give me time to make the arrangements and take a few days off." Her smile was growing with all these ideas and she liked them all! Except one needed to take steps. "Best time to go out towards the Lighthouse before it gets any colder. The Gardens will remain warm and how wonderful to visit there when the snow falls. Ballicastle by ship is a great idea and I'd get to see your ship too." He would have to tempt her with a few ideas but the Lighthouse was the first mentioned.

"The Lighthouse it is. We can try to find the wild horses and if you'd like, since you probably worry about spending time with the twins, we can take another day and take them to the zoo." It would get him out too, something his father had mentioned about all his children! And if nothing else, they would become good friends.

She wasn't thinking along the lines of getting herself another husband, although some romance wouldn't hurt if a night led to such. Good friends, she'd not pass up either. Come what may, she was taking a much needed step thanks to him. Nice to look at, nice to talk to, she knew she'd be having a good time. "They would love that if you don't mind." Perhaps a little surprised for most men wouldn't look twice at a woman with children. She stepped back to turn the sketch pad around so he could see the rather fetching rendering of him and the implication of a ship at sea with wild winds that tossed the sea gulls about too in the background. Some cliffs in the distance and a lighthouse also implicated. Most of the clarity and detail was him in the foreground.

"I don't mind at all." The truth was Morgan liked children, even the smaller ones, and they seemed to like him though it was hard to be certain. He grinned at her then lowered his eyes to look at the drawing. "That's ... amazing, Keriann. And you're planning to transfer that to marble? Or are you going to do a painting?" He ran a hand through his hair, looking a little embarrassed. "You make me look very dashing."

"You are very dashing. I may give it over to Kristina to paint as she is a splendid painter and I will set the bust in marble." She stood there looking at him, picturing him with children and them all liking being around the Captain of a ship. "The drawing will be yours once I do the bust." Which she then turned over the page to show him rough drafts of his head from all angles she had captured too in moving around him earlier like she had.

"You truly are talented and I am honored that you wished me to be a subject." It hadn't taken much time as all which was also a pleasant surprise. "What will you do with it after you make it?" He'd ask about the painting later, being certain she'd tell him. He was considering buying it for his father but was afraid it might look a touch egotistical. Then again, maybe he could get everyone in the family to have one done. Hmmm.

"Well, I would put it in a seafaring section of the Gallery. Paintings of the sea, artifacts and possibly some wooden ships made as models." Although if he wanted it, she would sell it to him, he'd have first dibs but he might like the painting of it instead.

He'd like that as well! "If it was earlier in the year, I think I would have each of my siblings sit for you so we could give busts of each of us to our father. Though I may talk to them about having it done anyway." They could always give them to him for his birthday. "Of course, I'd have to convince them all to sit." Chuckling softly.

"I'm sure that can be arranged if they are willing." She wouldn't mind and she had time when the gallery was empty to work on any sculptures. She closed over the sketch book so it wouldn't get smeared. "I think I should be getting back as it is later than I realized." Time flew when having fun and she had enjoyed this time with Morgan. "Do you think your siblings will tease you about coming here?" It was at night and alone with a woman!

"Aye, it is at that." He stood then laughed. "Oh, aye. They'll have a grand time with it. About time you got out. You sat still for how long? And you didn't even flirt with such a pretty woman?" He watched her as he said the last, a roguish smile in place. "And I'll tell them I was a perfect gentleman." Because he didn't want the Frasiers after him.

That was smart on his part. The Frasiers were a large and a fiercely family oriented clan. The part of about her being pretty had the light blush that he would expect. It felt good to her very bruised ego too. "Do you think they will believe you?" Lowered lashes lifted with a twinkle to emerge in dark eyes before she was heading for her office to put the sketch pad away there. She liked having projects so that her hands were never idle when here. She was back out and over to the door, "shall we?" So she could lock up for the night and they both could get their sleep.

He watched her thoughtfully then smiled. "Aye, they will because they know you're a lady." A simple answer but true. He joined her at the door. Once through, he waited for her to lock up. "So I will see you early the day after tomorrow." He'd see to the lunch too, stopping tonight to ask Hazel to make it up. "Do you have a horse, or will you borrow one from the Thistle stable?"

Once the door was locked up, she turned to him to answer his questions and a couple of her own to add. "I have a horse, one that usually pulls a surrey but can be ridden as well." So he would not need to worry on that. "Shall I meet you at the Thistle after breaking fast?" So she had an idea of what time and where.

"Aye, that would work well." He'd stay there overnight and be ready and waiting. "I enjoyed m'self, Keriann. And I hope I wasn't too bad a model." Hard to keep still but she was fast.

"Not at all, you made a dashing and very tempting model." Which she would not say anything more on exactly how tempting or what kind of temptation. Just a smile. One that he could wonder what her thoughts were behind it. "I will see you then." She wanted to linger, one of those odd moments in what one should do but what she should do was to start on her way, leaving him with that smile.

Tempting? He hadn't been called tempting before. He smiled and gallantly bowed. "You are a lovely and gracious artist and you'll have me wondering what you mean from now until we meet again." That type of smile could be dangerous. "Good night, m' Lady Frasier. I look forward to our day together." The formality was a farce and the look in his eyes told that tale clearly.

Which he got a glance over her shoulder as she had started on her way. The pause in her step seemed timed, "perhaps one day I will tell you just how tempting you are. Good night m'lord Captain." Adding a sassy wink before she was quick about her steps taking her towards the hall that led into the castle area of suites. The conversation made her feel giddy inside, to flirt playfully like that and yes, she had to admit, there was a sensual undercurrent.

He watched as she disappeared down the hall, then grinned, giving a little shake of his head. His hat was placed back on his head, tipped at a rakish angle as he turned. Whistling a merry tune, he headed back out of the castle and for the Thistle. Hopefully the day would be as enjoyable as this evening had been.



Date: 11-21-10
Poster: Aaric the Black
Post # 20

Finding Clues


Andrew had put this assignment in Aaric hands, or more precisely the hands of his force. Aaric had not questioned him on why he was not going himself for it was not his place to question. He'd come to know Andrew well enough to know there was a reason for everything and so accepted. He sent one of the squires out to request Tykir to join him at the Thistle, from there they would go to Ashford Island, an island that would be renamed soon enough too he was told. Darragh, Orlaith and Desiree could be involved in this and encouraged to do so. At what point was up to them as they each had their own instincts. So Aaric waited on the porch of the Thistle, horses ready if needed of those that showed here. It was possible that any of the other three would be on the island already.

Tykir touched down in the alley beside the Thistle. Excitement caused his feathers to twitch as he folded his wings against his back and walked around to meet up with Aaric. His sword was strapped to his side, a dagger at his other hip as well as another one tucked safely within his boot. He didn't think weapons would be of much use against 'things' that probably weren't even alive, but one might as well be prepared just in case. He had spent a good many hours in the library of Heathfield, researching the island, the history of the manor and then, some different sorts of studying where none would know of it in the ways of his mother and Forces of Old. With Andrew's five to support him, he was as ready as he could be. He cut the corner, lifted his hand in greeting to Aaric and smiled. "Perfect moon for what we have to do, eh?"

"Aye, best it is not at night this one master Tykir. We've plenty to do afoot upon the island so let us be on our way. You do ride or do you plan to fly the distance?" Which he had his own means of getting over there that was not of the normal human course and.. it would save time. "I believe the others are there already waiting on us." Attired in a cable knit sweater of cream and dark brown pants topped off in black boots that laced up to just beneath his knees, Aaric was comfortable for the day ahead of them.
: No need of a cape or jacket for him, least not until it got really bitter cold.

"As the crow flies, as they say..." Tykir grinned. "Faster in the air, meet you there then?"

"Aye," came with a laugh, as he and Tyrkir were going to get along just fine. He was down the steps with a glance about, no one around as he turned once around. Next minute there was a dust devil bouncing along the road until the third bounce it was airborne and out of sight.

Tykir gave the horse a light pat against the side of his neck. "Maybe next time, Ole boy." He chuckled, then he spun and took to the air in almost one fluid motion. The horses shied and whinnied with that departure but soon quieted, settling into waiting for someone to come return them to their stalls. His training came in handy with the distance to be flown. The young prince was strong of wing, his heart and lungs pumping to provide the power behind each solid whoosh. Some of the citizens below looked to the sky as the shadow passed over, but then went about their business. Though most enjoyed the sight of either of the winged royals in full flight, most had become familiar with the pair and barely gave them a second look if there was work to be tended to. He flew low over the water, allowing his fingers to dip in the chilled water and causing a tiny wake on either side of him. A flick of water off his fingertips dried them and he was up higher to scan the island as he approached, then lowered in a slow, study of the manor as he settled down on the ground before the once grand estate house.

Orlaith was at the site, and what a sight on the grounds before the manor. Clothing was scattered, any food that had been left, eaten. The tents torn down literally and a littered mess. Hard to tell what did it other than it seemed by the design of animals. Clad in a comfortable riding outfit, although she had not ridden here, she was set to the task of at least cleaning up the place while she waited. She turned first with the feel of a familiar presence then the sight of the young male with wings. It could be none other than the royal prince Tykir. "Hello there, welcome to Ashford Island," eyes of the brightest blue upon him before lifting with sight beyond.

Aaric came from around the side of the manor, having landed in the back first to make sure no one else was about. It was said they only came out at night but he wasn't going to trust that as a certain. "Ah, there you are Tykir, I see you made excellent time. This is Orlaith," glancing beyond to see if Darragh and Desiree had arrived, most likely checking out the whole of the island for any signs.

Darragh wasn't long in coming up to the manor. He had gone off to explore the island around the manor, looking for ways in or out besides the usual doors and windows. He smiled as he joined his companions. "Tykir, Aaric. Interesting place." He made a motion toward the deserted manor.

Desiree came from the other direction as Aaric, not having explored far. "It has a strange feel to it," she added to Darragh's words then smiled and bowed slightly to the Prince. "Tykir. It's good to be working with you." She studied the lad with eyes of ocean blue.

Wow. He blinked with the sight of Orlaith and hoped he hadn't mouthed the word that had first entered his mind when he saw the Force of Fire. Wings pulled tight, he offered her a nod of greeting. Then the others arrived and a tingling started at his scalp and traveled in an instant to his toes causing the prince to shiver in response. He offered them all one bow in greeting. "And an honor for me to be working with Andrew's Four. Surreal." And with that word he glanced to the manor. "Found anything yet?"

Orlaith bowed her head then was on the move right past the young prince, "you're turning out to be quite the man," words very low in compliment as a glint shimmered in blue eyes, "hello Handsome," addressed to Darragh with a sassy wink added, "Desiree," smile there as she reached the porch and drew the door open, "we were waiting for you Tykir, to have the honor." They had all been advised that this was Tykir's project.

"They were to secure the grounds before we got here, Tykir. Now," motioning to Orlaith, "we shall explore the manor." Waiting on the prince to lead the way, putting him in charge in a sense.

Darragh winked at Orlaith as she walked by then allowed Desiree to follow after though they all stopped to wait for the prince to take that first step.

While in Heathfield, it was easy to be sure of himself, to be brave and cocky with the adventure awaiting on Ashford. Now, however, he was standing before the manor, his gaze lifting to the high pointed arches of the windows of the top stories, darkened from within and he sucked in a deep breath. Fortified with his own determination, he walked past the others with an almost silent..."Okay..." and meant to enter but stopped, just shy of the door. His gaze narrowed on the ornate frame and he reached out, tracing his finger into the deep gash which had been gouged in the wood. Not once, but several times, as if someone or something attempted to enter by slamming something blunt there and had missed the door hitting the frame instead. Noted. Was it important? He wouldn't know until later. He gripped the latch, twisted and pressed inward, the heavy portal fighting the effort at first but then giving way with a mighty groan of defeat. Entry was granted. And in Tykir walked, hand on the hilt of his sword.

She watched the young prince with the usual slight smirk and that glint danced in blue eyes. She was next in line to enter once he stepped within. The place wasn't' all that bad in what daylight was let through dirty windows or more aptly, the broken ones. "This place was probably magnificent in its day." When it was taken care of. It probably had a lot of stories to tell for it was centuries old. Built long before the last occupants. Probably a few over the centuries and certainly there were signs it was not completely deserted. Dust and cobwebs were the main occupancy but dust left prints and there were a lot of prints tracked all over the place. Certainly there were the ones from the Halloweeners but there were far more than just those. Odd shaped like hooves and paws. "Well, here we are," big huge encouraging smile on the young prince before she wandered ahead to check out the broken windows, latched frames and any drawers and the like of furniture in this room to start.

Yes, here they were. Orlaith had already started searching but Tykir spoke anyway. "Go ahead and search about. We're looking for anything that might give us some information as to what happened the night that Rina was here and what sort of devils had chased them out." He too had noted the smudges in the dust, wondering how the farm animals had found entry when the door was closed to this group when they arrived. Still more questions. So he started his own search.

Aaric waited on Darragh and Desiree outside the open door, "did you find anything on the grounds other than what is apparent on the front lawn?"

"Only more traces of damages, and life. Most of the animals here seem to avoid the grounds so whatever is here may be hungry." He looked toward the east as if listening then back. "And I found no other way out like a tunnel."

"T'was the same for me." Desiree answered after Darragh. "There's clean water nearby so they have that but it could be whatever is here is on the point of starvation." Which may be why it attacked. She then headed inside in time to hear the young Prince and smiled. "As you command." And from there she moved into another room.

Most of the drawers were empty, some had old keys left in them probably for the keyholes in the drawers of the cabinet. A sliding glance was given Tykir, "as you decree my prince." Eyes lifting to touch upon Desiree as she entered and went off to explore another room. There then to the open door giving her a glimpse of both Aaric and Darragh before she was back to discover anything this large foyer had to offer. She would work her way then into the den as it looked like Des had gone into what might be the living or dining room.

Aaric was in after Desiree as he would head upstairs to see if anything was out of order up there. He started to find that doors led into odd rooms and not where they should be. One could get lost up here easily at night.

Good thing Tykir didn't realize how amused they were with his 'authority'. Instead, he wandered down the side hall, stopping to pick up toppled tables, using the side of his boot to clear aside broken glass. He paused to look into portraits on the wall, pulling his shirt sleeve over his fist to rub away some of the dust that covered the picture within. Pleasant enough. No clues there. A closet to his left caught his attention with the door hanging loose from the top. He bent over to pick up the long bolt and looked to where it should be in the hinge. The floor there was well used it seemed, clear of most of the dust, which had his curiosity up for sure. He glanced down the hall to mark the location of the others, then tucked the bolt into his pocket, entering the closet. His hand lifted, resting on the furthest of three hooks along the closet door. On the floor by the back wall he saw something else, a vial of some sort. He bent to reach for it but as he did, the hook slid down the crease in the wood panel, nearly toppling the prince as he was pitched off balance. He fell forward, his shoulder knocking against the back of the closet and then, when he thought he would stop, he tumbled forward still as the wall shifted inward to reveal a dark, musty, secret passage. "Whoah! Ho!" Crap! "Guys!" He shouted, even as he used his crouched stance to slip his dagger from his boot.

She wasn't so much amused by this all as more it was strange for her to be taking orders from one as young as Tykir, no disrespect. The orders came not only from Andrew but the King of Heathfield so it was all in due respect even if odd for her. She was keeping her eye on the young prince too. Her search was never too far off from the lad's. She was already on the run in his wake soon as she heard that first thump. Skidding to halt for that second to realize he was in the closet. The door was no longer hanging loose as she tore it from the last hinge and let it fall to the floor, off to the side, as she went inside. "Tykir, are you all right?" Seeing the new hole in the wall as she was quickly there.

Aaric came running from upstairs, quick as a gust of wind that sent dust billowing in his wake until he arrived soon behind Orlaith. "Darragh, Desiree, come quick." As he started to enter the closet but held back just a space behind Orlaith so they were not overcrowding. "Need a lantern?" It looked pretty dark in there but it might not really be.

Tykir bolted to his feet when Orlaith entered. "Yes, fine." He leaned a bit to see past her. "There are a couple on the wall here, but we'll need them lit." Slowly he moved his gaze back to Orlaith not sure of what she was capable of.


Darragh wasn't far from the closet either, though in a room where he had found a lot of damage. Old books torn apart, a mirror shattered to pieces, pictures shredded. He could almost feel the anger still. But when he heard Tykir it was all forgotten. He paused at the door then grinned at the Prince. "Well done, Tykir." He didn't know if the find was accidental or on a hunch but he was impressed.

Desiree had gone into the library, and though she didn't find much in there except for footprints, she did find a few empty goblets and what seemed to be the remains of a animal. Before she could examine it fully, she heard the Prince and then Aaric. She joined the others to peer inside then looked at the doorway. "There's water somewhere below." Which could be another way out.


"That's easy to take care of." Taking the first lantern hanging there it lit as soon as she touched it taking it from the nail it hung from. She handed that one to him before taking up the next. This one she offered to Aaric as he was next in line. "Looks like we've found a source to explore." She would stay behind Ty, so as he'd start forward so would she as the others could join them.



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