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Heathfield Castle Adventures

Date: 07-12-11
Poster: Ellyn Royce
Post # 41

Into the Order

Ellyn had written the princess Noirin to be interviewed as a candidate for the Order of Athena. She came with credentials of which was endorsed by her appointed guardian, Neale Frasier and even her father's signature on the document attached with her letter. She also informed Molly that she finally had written and waited a reply. Molly, of course, would have to send her own letter in.


Molly had written as well, once she received Ellyn's note and she too, was waiting to speak to the Princess. She had letters from her brother, and from Lorcan, speaking of her training and also giving permission for her to be trained should she be accepted. Once that was done, it was a matter of waiting. And waiting patiently, as hard as that was to do.


Noirin had received both letters of course and made appointments with the young ladies to come and see her at the castle. She was pregnant again with her and Andrew's third child so she would meet with them in the Solarium, which was her favorite room, as it was most of the inhabitants of the castle. They would be escorted there by a page, and would find Noirin with her two children. The princes would be taken out by their nannies once the girls arrived.


Once she received word, Ellyn got hold of Molly to coordinate, hoping she would be interviewed at the same time. They were in luck and so this evening they both headed for the castle in escort of the Page. Once inside the massive foyer that lead into the great hall, they were approached by a guard who then led them to the Solarium. A male only a few years older than them. Once there he stepped aside with a bow then turned on a heel to head back to his post. Ellyn couldn't help the grin as the man left, "he's cute." Drawing in a deep breath as her hand snaked out to squeeze Molly's then released, "ready?"


Molly smiled at the guard then followed while looking around. Not only was it fascinating it was where Rina and Tykir lived. She laughed when she heard Ellyn, though softly, squeezing her hand in return. "He is but maybe it's the uniform." Teasing just a little before she nodded. "Aye, I'm ready."


The Princess was aware that the two young women had entered and stood to hand Argyle to his nanny. She spoke to Val, placing a kiss on top of his head then she turned and faced the direction of the doorway. A maid met them to led them through to where Noirin waited.


"I like the cape," teasing to ease being nervous but certainly the lands had a lot of good looking men. All different types as one face was recalled then shook out. Now was not the time to entertain fantasies. This was business. A step forward in her life. She was no longer a child but coming into her own, becoming the woman she was destined to be. One with a natural skill with the sword and to fight with all her might where needed to protect loved ones and those deserving to be protected. Such as the royal family of these lands. With the agreed 'ready' she entered and moved straight for the Princess. Once there she curtsied in all due respect. She noticed the two young princes that would day step into their destined positions of royalty regime. Good looking lads that would grow into good looking men and hopefully with the heart of their mother and father. Not all children proved worthy of their birthright. Such thoughts were fleeting as she addressed Noirin, "your majesty, I hope all is well with you and yours." Leaving her to address them for all papers sent.


"Very dashing." She agreed with another soft laugh. She smiled at the maid then smoothed down the dress she had agreed to wear. Reluctantly until she was reminded there would be formal affairs to attend. She curtseyed to the Princess, her smile a touch shy. She would lose that shyness in time perhaps. "Your majesty." Keeping her greeting simple since she didn't have Ellyn's confidence.


"Lady Ellyn. Lady Molly." Addressing them both in the same manner, Noirin motioned for them to sit at the small table set there. Glasses of iced tea were prepared for all three as well as some small cakes and cookies. "Please, be seated." She was wearing a gown herself, the Sword of Heathfield worn at her hip. The gown was light silk, pale blue in color as if to remind one where the Princess' abilities were. "Your papers are all in order and I'm must say I'm pleased you would like to join the Order. I would like to speak to a member of your family if possible, only to answer any questions or concerns they may have. I don't have many questions but I will ask if either of you will object to being tested, and after you've answered that, where do you think your strengths are?" She picked up one of the glasses so the young women would feel comfortable and relax.


She wasn't sure what to expect but certainly not tea and cakes with the Princess of the lands. Green eyes lit up being on her best behavior as she took one of the seats. She relaxed some. Ellyn was the only one in pants but it was a very well made riding outfit of a deep blue with black and silver accents. Long hair was left loose about her shoulders. Noirin was beautiful and hardly looked the warrior at the moment. She could see where the Crown Prince would be drawn to her. It was one of those fairy tale matches. The sword at her hip reminded everyone that appearances could be deceiving and that the warrior lurked beneath the elite attired. "My uncle Neale would speak with you," better he than her father. She never knew what world he might be in speaking with others. It was possible Noirin had met her uncle too. "I expect to be tested and hope that my abilities will prove to be worthy of such a high honor serving under you." She could feel her heart beating faster at the moment with each word spoken from there. She took a moment to consider the last and not getting too long winded so Molly had her turn to speak up. "I am focused when it comes to using the sword, to keep going to the best of my ability until I cannot physically continue." That was a start and hoped it answered the question. If not, she was sure she'd be asked more.


Molly was interested in everything being said of course and listened quietly. She sat in the third seat and took a drink of tea only because her mouth was so dry. She hadn't been sure what to expect but the Princess was very nice and she too, felt herself relaxing. When Ellyn finished and Noirin looked at her, Molly spoke. "My brother, Dorian, will speak to you as my legal guardian." She answered, then looked thoughtful. "I've some training with swords and daggers so I can defend myself in close quarters, but I feel my strength is in the bow."


Noirin smiled at both of them, then looked down at the papers then up again. "Becoming a knight, whether male or female means several things. One, in your case, Ellyn, if you wish to serve Heathfield, you'll be a good distance from home. I know you have some family here of course, but you must be aware that there could be times when you won't be able to travel, as when the incident in Kildare happened. You will also need to learn the more refined duties and will be expected to act as a representative of Heathfield when and if you travel. The Order of Athena is sworn to protect the Queen, the nobility of Heathfield and the children. You will be trained exactly as the young men are and will find they will not be easy on you." A smile appeared suddenly, showing a dimple. "Well, most won't. You will also find that some of the older knights will not spar with you. There will be times when you will be expected to follow orders you may not like and if that involves staying behind, you will do so. If, in time, you find you cannot keep up with the training, or your instructors feel you cannot, then you will be re-evaluated. Is this going to be a problem for either of you?" She knew what their answers would be, but they needed to be duly warned that it could happen.


She wondered if it was kosher to ask questions being she had one. She had been nodding about not traveling during certain times. That was a given. She was spending more time in Heathfield already so that wasn't a problem either. "What are these more refined duties in particular?" She didn't wish to assume and more than likely it could well be off the mark. She didn't want the young men to be easy on her for she fully intended to be hard on them. "I think if we prove our mettle in our abilities maybe those that wont spar a lass will reconsider?" There was that thought, "especially if they can help us train by doing so. I completely understand and would be the first to step down if I don't make the grade needed in upholding such a position." She completely understood.


Molly bit back a smile as Ellyn asked what she was thinking then she looked at her a long moment, eyes twinkling. Yes, she could see Ellyn wanting to challenge one. She looked back and nodded. "I understand completely." It was a possibility even with the lads.


"It's not a disgrace and there still could be a position for you." She looked at Ellyn and tried to look serious though her eyes showed that she was pleased. "It is possible they could change their minds, but ... it is for them to approach you and not the other way around. Some feel very strongly about this." The smile appeared again as she continued. "More refined in that you may be expected to attend any balls and celebrations, dressed properly and able to blend in. You may need to interact with visitors from other lands, and you will be expected not to offend. And sometimes, sometimes you will be expected to hold your tongue and not say what's on your mind." Something that even Noirin found hard at times.


"Well then, I would accept that is their outlook and not make an.." and she almost said ass of herself but managed to override such a word. "nuisance of myself. Hopefully they will respect that a lass can fight just as fierce when protecting loved ones, land and country." She blinked with the next, "is there a place then to be fitted for a gown?" Could Noirin tell she cringed? Still, she would face this as another kind of battle. Lucky for Ellyn she was feminine looking in form and not like the tomboy inside. Eyes lit up with the idea of meeting visitors from other lands, that was an exciting prospect for her. Lips pursed with the last as maybe she talked to much! That the Princess would mention such.


"They know that very well, Ellyn but each man has their own reasons for their refusal. " She didn't think Ellyn talked too much or that Molly didn't talk enough. Everyone was different and that too, was to be respected. "I will warn you that some are more tolerant then others but I'm sure both Prince Tykir and Sir Bannon can tell you that. Or the McAndrews princes. As I am once again with child, I'll not be taking as much part in your training as I normally would." It was possible Mo wouldn't either but that would remain to be seen. "I will be watching though. You may both spend some time with your families and move in next week to the women's barracks. There are some other young women who have begun training so you won't be alone. It will take time, just as it does with the squires. You will advance in stages until you are ready to become a Dame in the Order. And hopefully I'll have spoken to your guardians by then so their concerns are alleviated."


"I look forward to it and thank you for allowing me this opportunity. I hope to make you proud as well my family and friends." She finally took a sip of her tea but she was too wound up to eat anything.


"My brother will likely write to see when he can meet with you, your Highness." Molly smiled and looked at Ellyn, nearly beaming. They had been accepted to start training and that was a step in the right direction. "Are we to bring our own weapons?"


"If you have ones that you're more comfortable with, of course but sparring, for now, will be with wooden weapons." And she looked at Ellyn and smiled again. "And don't worry about the gowns. There is a seamstress here who will see to a gown for each of you to start. You will also wear tunics and pants similar to what the squires wear while you're on the field and on duty. Off duty, of course, you wear what you like. Do your best and that's all you will need to make us all proud. Now, if neither of you have any more questions, I'll take my leave." Her husband had returned home and Noirin wished to see him but she would wait until the girls were finished talking. "And if you aren't finished, I hope you'll stay and enjoy the Solarium while you enjoy your repast."


"I hear that Rhett Shawnesey comes highly recommended for sword making. I am given the monies to have him make me one." Although they would practice with wooden ones.. she would also practice with one fitted to her hand until the day she had one of the covet Heathfield swords. "Thank you for your time, your majesty," she rose as Noirin did with a respectful curtsy. Although she was sure they could stay and enjoy the tea and cakes that were set out. Give her time to talk with Molly, girl to girl.


"Thank you, your majesty. I will also do my best to succeed." A goal to reach for. She stood and curtseyed again to the Princess, then looked at Ellyn and grinned. It hadn't been bad at all. But she would wait for Noirin to leave before she let out a squeal of joy and hugged her friend.


"Yes, he does as does your own Uncle and Brian McAndrews. But of course, they're some distance away." She smiled warmly. "Welcome, Lady Ellyn and Lady Molly. You will earn your titles should you succeed." She was still smiling as she turned and left the two, through the same door her children had been taken.

-tbc-

Date: 07-16-11
Poster: Trevor Cairns
Post # 42

Dinner with a Princess

Once she was ready he offered his arm, "we can walk to the stables in the Commons for I've a surrey kept there." His manor was on the other side of the port and a bit too far to be walking it especially after the grueling hours they had both spent. "You can tell me about the different children you take care of.." for the walk to the Commons would take at least twenty minutes or more if they strolled. He was in no hurry and certainly would be working up an appetite.


It only took a few moments for her to tell the others where she was going and to removed the apron she had been wearing over her clothes. She smoothed down her hair, retied it and hurried back to join Trevor. A dimpled smile appeared as she slid her arm through his. "It's nice to be the object of some chivalry in the face of all this." Though work was progressing it could take well into winter to see to everything. The children... "Well, the oldest is Emmy. She'll be leaving us next year and has been apprenticing with a milliner. She's hoping to make enough to support her younger brother and sister, also at the orphanage. That's Andy and Deanna. We don't have as many teens as we did at one time. But the next is David, who was helping us. Then there's Leisa and Anna. They lost their parents when they were both small and have been with us since. It's not easy to get people to adopt siblings."


A dip of his chin came with the slight turn of his head as well dark eyes to feast upon her features. Henna was a beauty in his eyes. He was surprised she had not settled down like her twin. Surprised that someone had not snatched her up long ago. It was all there in dark eyes along with something more, something wild and fierce belying the impeccable proper actions and attire. Not a harmful dangerous but rather a wild abandon if he chose. A fierce spirit behind the well maintained facade. Sight traced over her eyes, over her lips and even the dimple that appeared when she spoke of her children. "Chivalry is our anchor to some kind of order when chaos reigns." Certainly the hurricane was nature throwing in chaos to have those living reflect on life and how precarious it really is and should be appreciated. "If she makes enough," pausing, "this Emmy, will her younger siblings be allowed to live with her or do they have to stay in the orphanage?" He had listened to the others spoken on as well. At least they were not out on the street without a clue to where their next meal came from. "You do the kingdom a great service, Princess." Certainly in her station few would be bother let alone work at it to help those less fortunate. By this time they had reached the main road that would have them in the Commons soon.


"Yes, they will." Henna lifted her chin, showing her determination that these children have as a normal life as possible. She shook her head, smiling. "I only do what is necessary, Trevor. The children need someone and I was available. I didn't leave for that time until I was certain there was someone to watch over them. It's so much better then them wandering the streets." Though there were always a few who slipped through.


"If I may be so personal, why did you leave and where did you go?" He kept his words low as there were others out walking here and there to get what was needed. Many working, helping others. The vendors still set up their wagons and stands in the square. Life was picking up where it had left off for the duration of the Hurricane. Luckily many didn't have as much damage as those closer to the cliffs. He knew about living on the streets but he didn't go there at this time. His situation was different for many reasons.


"It was only because I felt that I needed to come to know myself, and learn where I had been and where I wanted to go with my life. I went to Ireland, to England, and other places. To the sacred places of those lands. And I do believe I came back calmer, more sure of myself and more accepting." She laughed softly, "though I think when it comes to some things, I'm still very protective and temperamental."


"Not everyone takes the time to see to themselves when necessary." There were others to pass them again as he nodded. Some of the women had that look in their eyes, a gleam, to see one of the legendary horsemen out strolling along the street with a princess on his arm. "You have not found love yet?" That was one of the better parts of life especially if it could last the lifetime. It didn't always as he could attest to but he had no regrets having loved and would not mind if it came his way again. Trevor seemed imperious to looks their ways but greeted all who greeted while a nod sufficed for any others.


She smiled at those they passed, laughing to herself at the look in some of the eyes of the women, and not just because they could gossip. Trevor was a handsome man. "I've come close but something's always happened to change the way I thought things were going." She shrugged slightly, and turned her head to look at him. "It will happen when and if it's supposed to." She would regret some things but refused to live her life feeling sorry for herself.


"Then if anyone says anything," as there would be something said by someone that might get around to her, "you are just waiting for the right man to come along. He is just taking his time." There was humor there in the way he presented his idea. That it really had nothing to do with her but the man taking his time. "I think it will happen, as you say, when it is suppose to but I do think it will." With her love for children, as he saw firsthand, she was one that should have a few of her own too. Put more into the world hopefully like her. She got the hinted tipped smile as he didn't continue the topic. His curiosity sated. They reached the stables as he picked up an apple from the barrel they passed when heading inside. One he gave to her that she could feed it to one of the many horses about as he got the stablemaster to bring about his surrey.


"I wouldn't turn it away." She answered then accepted the apple with a smile. There was a sweet filly there, golden with a white man and it was to her the apple was offered. She laughed as another horse snorted at her. "Hush now. I'm sure you get your share." She knew not one horse was neglected when in these stables.


In fact Trevor came up alongside her to offer the stallion feeling he should have one too, another apple. "It is not good to give one more than the other even with the animals, aye?" Yet he had a blend of Scots and a French accent. About that time the surrey was brought out with two golden horses with white manes hitched to it. "Shall we then?" His cook would have dinner ready soon but they would probably have time to share a glass of wine before the main event. He offered his arm once more and would see her to the surrey and within before he was around and into the driving seat. They would set out once she was settled.


"They do let you know they're not pleased." She chuckled then gave both horses a pet before she was with him to be helped into the surrey. It didn't take long before they were on their way and she was enjoying the breeze. "I have always loved riding, whether on horseback or like this, through the countryside. Though I loved visiting other lands, it's hard not to feel that home is the most beautiful, most comfortable place to be.


It was a comfortable ride for the seats were padded. They still got noticing looks as they drove through the upper part of the port. Mainly because it was shorter to do so and no one bothered a Kingsman. The came near to the square with all the vendors but not through it directly. The square had a tendency to collect all kinds from the upper and lower parts of the port. Certainly there were a number of shops along the boardwalk too. Trevor glanced her way with a hinted smile before dark eyes were back upon the road ahead as he veered off and through an arched gate. One that led them back out to the countryside after a number of dwellings were passed. About twenty minute later he was taking another road from the main one that led up to his manor. It was an imposing sight. Regal. High windows and stylish of that period. There were gardeners out fixing the lawns though none where near the damage suffered towards the shore. Hardly anything more than a bad storm. He pulled up to the front before reining in the horses. Trevor was out and around to help her down. He had let the scenes they passed to be enjoyed rather than gabbing. He finally commented. "The lands here are as close to Scotland's that it was not hard to have it become home in my heart."

And she had enjoyed the ride, never one to feel uncomfortable with friendly silence. She smiled as Trevor helped her from the surrey, then she looked around the grounds and at the manor. "And a touch of Scotland is here with you, I'm sure." Though she knew it had ben a long time since he had left his homeland and joined with Karl and the others.. "It's all very lovely, Trevor."

The step down brought her close for that moment. Chin dipped as he was about to say something but... "daddy, daddy, daddy, daaaddddyyy," came as the five year old came racing down the short stone path leading up to the manor. He stepped aside and had to stop himself from laughing as turning to the sound of his son's voice which also brought into view his plump nanny trying to run after the precocious child. Seconds later he was up into his father's arms with a small leap that had him caught up. Small arms were thrown around Trevor's neck as the child laid his head against his shoulder. The angle had him staring at Henna, checking her out. Wondering. Curious. Little tiny smile before he got shy and looked down. That was only for a split second as Trevor spoke up. "Trev, this is Lady Henna, the one I've told you about." Which had little Trev perk right up and spoke up. "You are the precess with many children." Quite proud of himself that he had remembered as Trevor set him back to his feet. Little Trev offered his hand, "puease to meet," and then drew back his hand to give a bow as if rethinking the first was not correct.


She smiled when she heard the child's voice and watched Trevor with his son. The boy was adorable and her smile grew wider. ""Yes I am, and I'm very pleased to meet you Trev. You're every bit as handsome and grown up as your father said you are." She looked up at Trevor, her eyes sparkling. She could see the pride in his eyes.


The compliment had little Trev puff up his chest with a look to his father. Trevor nodded but there was a glance slid to Henna with an unreadable look in dark eyes for a moment. Fleeting one. Smile hinted nonetheless. Little Trev took her one hand, without asking as Trevor gave him a look, which had Lil Trev only smile up at Henna and pretended not to notice his father. It was a small thing but Trevor would remind him later that he should ask to be polite. His hand came to lightly rest at the small of her back as they started up the path. "Gloria, you can take a few hours rest." Poor lady was beet red and looked about to faint. She had at least stopped half way and waited for further orders. She smiled with relief as she curtsied to both then took her leave. She would be back when it was time to get Lil Trev ready for bed. Trev was in his glory, no pretensions there in the child as he was beaming a smile up at Henna as they were on their way. "De ye read bedtime stories?" He didn't see Trevor roll his eyes and slightly look away. Nor the slight twitch to his lips either.


He was so cute, she couldn't help smiling but she did manage not to laugh. She winked when the young lad took her hand then smiled at up at Trevor before he spoke to the nanny. "Yes, I've read a few. Do you have a favorite?" Trevor would know she was delighted with the boy from the way she looked at him again, quickly while she waited for the boy's answer. She was sure he had a least one, if not several!


"The one with the big wolf and princess," although it was really red riding hood but he felt she was a princess. Trev sometimes changed around the stories better to his liking. In that he had a good imagination. The look told Trevor all and he was pleased she could understand. Hopefully understand why her hand might feel moist and when Lil Trev let it go to run ahead. "I'm gonna tell Mary Beth we have a guest!" He was quick like that, impetuous, as he didn't even look back. Trevor finally laughed as his son went running inside, near running the butler over. Actually right between his legs as he was a bit bow legged. Henna would find a soothing touch left to the palm of her hand along with the residue of moss.


That was an odd sensation that went into another, though the second was, yes, more pleasant though the first was more surprising then anything. "He takes after you, doesn't he?" She teased, laughing at the expression on the face of the butler, though she quickly covered it. She gave Trevor a mischievous look but then turned her smile toward the butler. "Good evening." Quite cheerful.


"It seems so. I hope to nourish his talents instead of him being view as some kind of monster or deformity," although there was nothing physically deforming of either the father nor the son. The mischievous smile came as a pleasant surprise as Henry held the door for them and they could see Mary Beth bustling about getting the dinner on the table. "It seems we made it here just in time." Thinking it was earlier than usual but perhaps MB kept the dinner warm until he got home and that was when they ate. Henry was seeing the child into his seat properly as Trevor escorted Henna into their dining room. A good size room with MB's feminine touch as she was head of the three younger women who took care of cleaning, washing up the dishes, laundry and so forth. "I hope you are hungry," reaching a seat near the head of the table as he drew out the chair for her.


She nodded, studying him a moment. "He's a bright and adorable little boy and I'm sure he'll grow up into the same kind of man as his father." She answered as they moved toward the dining area. "I am starved to be honest. I don't think I've thought much about eating since this all happened to be honest." It was the smell of the food that made her realize how hungry she was and how delicious the food smelled. "Thank you," sitting gracefully, she looked at those around the table again. There was a warm, homey feeling here.


They were close, close like family. From Mary Beth to Gloria, to Henry and even the three younger girls MB kept in line. One was happily married but the other two had too many looks towards the man of the manor. Not just any man but one that was one of the notorious Four Horsemen. They knew he was different and that made it all the more thrilling, wondering how he'd be alone with a woman. Luckily Trevor was fairly oblivious to their notices. He was not here a lot for his duties but he spent a lot of time with his son as he could and was guiding him for the ability already showing in a promising way. He needed to learn to control it. The scent of such a meal filled the room and there was one added scent he had not mentioned: Dutch apple pie for dessert. "A red wine to start?" As Henry offered up a vintage bottle of a Merlot. He took his seat at the head of the table. His son to his left and Henna to his right. Henry would pour the wine for Henna if she approved and then Trevor. Trev got a wine glass with red juice in it. He was also seated upon a few cushions so he was level with the table.


She was going to enjoy the meal, not just because it would be delicious but because of that feeling. They had it in the castle when everyone managed to get together, something that happened less and less as siblings married and moved away. "That sounds wonderful," agreeing to the red wine. She watched Trev then smiled at his father. The wine was perfect and she had no doubt the food would bet as well.


He lifted his glass in a toast before the meal would begin. "To sunny days and a healing of the lands for those that suffer, may it be swift and left a memory to pass on." Lifting his glass to take a drink then lowering it back to the table as Mary Beth was in, with two of the girls, the unmarried ones as they stayed longer for they didn't have a husband to see to. They were polite, as they helped to set out the dishes but certainly there were a few looks stolen upon Henna and the Lord of the Manor. The latter had the lowering of lashes and more sultry look before MB caught on and was whooshing them back into the kitchen to get ready for the next round. First was a garden fresh salad and a small bowl of cut fruits. Trev dug right in. "Trev," which had his son stop long enough for the rest, "thank you for the food upon this table and those to share it with." Once the thanks was done, Trev dug right back in. Little smile with bright eyes lifting Henna's way to see if she was digging in too.


She lifted her glass when he completed the toast, smiling again. She was doing that a lot tonight. She watched the two young women, taking a drink to hide the laughter that threatened. Trevor didn't even seem to take notice. Lowering her head for the blessing, she listened, and then, yes, like Trev, she was digging in. After little food, she truly was hungry and it tasted heavenly.


Silence would prevail as they finished their salads, then the main meal to follow. Yes, he didn't notice the stolen looks and if he had, he would ignore them anyway. Luckily neither of the younger ladies were bold enough to make themselves obvious for then Trevor would have to address such behavior. The food was good and his son had a healthy appetite as Trev set into eat his vegetables.. he spoke up. "You need to eat your veggies because there are others in the world that don't even have veggies to eat."


"That's very true." She paused long enough to speak to the lad, "but they also help you to grow big and strong like your father and the other Horsemen." She tipped her head, studying the lad a moment. "You're well on the way to that too, Trev. I can see that already. I think you're going to be as big as your daddy!"


It was becoming obvious that little Trev was starting to adore Henna. Once the remains of the main meal were cleared away they had a smooth, creamy coffee offered or a gentle tea blend. This would come before the slices of apple pie. Lil Trev knew that once the meal was done, it would be getting ready for bed. "Will you read me my bedtime story?" If Trevor was not home for duty's call, Gloria read him the story or Mary Beth, sometimes one of the younger ladies, Tracy or Darleen. When his father was home, he took over but tonight he wanted the Princess to read about the Princess or any other story she had to tell. Trevor cleared his throat in an effort not to laugh outright as it was trapping Henna for a story later.


Henna choose the tea, knowing coffee would keep her awake. She looked at Trev and smiled, obviously pleased. "I would be delighted to read you the story, Trev." She leaned toward him, lowering her voice. "And we'll have your father sit in with us, won't we?" She knew Trevor wouldn't miss it but she'd let Trev ask him.


Trev was bobbing his head as he looked from Henna to his father. "You will, wont you Da?" Trevor smiled, not just hinted, "I would love to hear Henna tell you a story," dark eyes moving from his son to the Princess. "But first we shall have some pie." Which was being brought out with warm with a slab of vanilla ice cream on the side. Trev's portion was smaller, about one third the size given Trevor and Henna. "Now this is something I have been waiting for. The meal was splendid and the dessert is a bit o' heaven, Mary Beth." Her cheeks turned rosy but she was well pleased with the compliment as she was once more ushering out the ladies. They would be going home once they cleaned up the kitchen. That was the big part of their job this evening being they didn't do any of the cooking.

-c-

Date: 07-16-11
Poster: Trevor Cairns
Post # 43

"Yes it was. Thank you so much, Mary Beth." She dug into the pie quite happily, watching as the ladies left. She didn't say much while she ate. It was far too good but when she sat back, she sighed. "I am extremely full but I wouldn't have refused a thing." She smiled at Trev and Trevor again. "And I'm certainly enjoying the company."

Even the smaller version of Trevor was quiet while eating such a fine dessert. When they were done, Gloria seemed to appear out of nowhere. Right on schedule. "If you are done, I will see to your bath and night wear, giving leave of your father and his guest." Trevor nodded as Lil Trev was done, rising from his seat in due course. "We will be up in a half hour's time for his bedtime story," knowing by then Gloria would have him all snuggled up in his bed with his favorite toys as company for the night. Trevor was noticing the signs that he might well have an Imaginary friend in the making but quite different than the one that had tortured him as a youth. "Henna, would you like to see the gardens?" Stepping away from his chair to lay his hand on the back of hers. Meanwhile little Trev was waving to them as he was ushered away. This time there was no reluctance to taking his bath and getting ready for bed. There was the new treat of having the Princess read to him.


"We'll see you soon, Trev." She waved at the boy then nodded. "Yes, I would." She waited for him to pull her chair out then stood. "It's good that you didn't have much damage here." They hadn't lost much in the way of crops either so their people wouldn't go hungry.


"It only ended up a bad storm here, not a hurricane." He was too far inland which was a relief that during it, he didn't have to worry on the safety of his son and staff who were like family. The backyard was large with not only flower gardens, which filled the vases in the house during spring and summer, but vegetable gardens. All kinds of flowers and all kinds of vegetables. Everything needed to be self sufficient and then some. The surplus was given to those who worked for him. Some sold what was given, some used it or gave it to others that were needy. He strolled with her amongst the flowers, vegetables and greenery. The lawns were well maintained having an artistic appeal in the arrangement and even color schemes.


It was nice to walk through the gardens, talking quietly and seeing what was there. She stopped to smell some of the more fragrant blooms, then looked at Trevor again, sliding her arm through his. "So this is your paradise where you escape when you can from all the cares of your duties. It is a lovely refuge, Trevor, and peaceful."


"It is indeed. My son is the center point." It seemed he was about to say something more but he let it pass. There was definitely something that could make his life even better if it was to be found again. The gardens were lush, well tended and well producing both flowers and vegetables. Even the grass was like a lush carpet of green that one could walk barefoot on easily. He led her about to see but in the direction of the gazebo he had constructed on an outcropping of the land. It rendered it part of an overall artistic scheme. The thing was, it was in the perfect position to see the rolling greenery and the ocean beyond. Even the lighthouse could be seen as a distant point and the light coming from the top. The sun was setting as he took her hand in escort up the couple steps. It was made of cedar and so lent a nice scent to mingle with the flowers. "I thought you might enjoy this." A few more steps having them to the other side and total view. The sky was streaked with yellow, orange and red near the horizon with purples and blues blended higher. He came to stand behind her with his hands upon the curve of her shoulders. "Nature can be so inspiring to have poets write the deeper meaning of what is seen. Never exactly the same but nonetheless perfection. Much like the woman sharing it with me."


She could tell Trev was the center of his life and it was as it should be. The boy was growing up well adjusted and happy. As they went up the steps, she was curious, the sight of the sunrise taking her breath away. She hadn't seen any like the ones that happened in Heathfield, or at least she'd deny it. His words took her by surprise and she felt her cheeks turn pink. "You're a poet, Trevor. And thank you." She hadn't been feeling very lovely with all the work that was being done. She placed her hand over one of his while they continued to watch. It was a nice change to be able to watch and enjoy the silence.


"I'm only a poet then if it means speaking from the heart in what I see to be true." Birds flew about getting ready to bed down for the night. A lone nightingale sang it's lonely tune somewhere from deep in the woods beyond the cultured domain. He could say more but the words never came. Not yet, there would have to be more between them as right now they were sharing a beautiful scene together. Nothing more, nothing less. He kept her near, her back to his chest as the scene before them was something to be revered. Only as it started to fade darker did he say anything. "Sailor's delight.." for it was a red sky at night. "I think Trev is waiting on us." Knowing well the half hour was approached and Trev knew how to read the clock. "Shall we?" Stepping aside as he offered the bend of his arm.


She smiled though he couldn't see it and fell silent. It was her favorite time of day. "Another beautiful day tomorrow." And another day for the repairs to continue. "Yes, we shall." She inclined her head slightly, eyes bright. "We don't want to keep a very important young man waiting, do we?" She was looking forward to reading to the boy and perhaps spending a little more time with his father.


"Tomorrow I will be over with a few others to help you finish up the work at the Orphanage." He laughed then, a rich hearty one as he slid his other hand over hers where it rested in the crock of his other arm. "One who will be very discontent if we are too late in getting to his side. Worse, if we were so late that he fell asleep before we arrived." Which he doubted for the present circumstances but it had happened a rare time or two. She may have noticed that the bugs didn't bother them but certainly seen about, just keeping from them unlike the norm on others. Once inside, the whole place was transformed into candle light that lit the halls, rooms and stairs. Some rooms brighter than others, some more dim as they were not used. The house was big enough to have a ball in it, with at least thirty guest rooms. Those halls were left dark as they were not in use presently. Although a room had been prepared if Henna needed to stay the night. Mary Beth looked forward in those ways to see to everything being perfect as humanly possible. Trev's door was left open as he ushered Henna inside with him. Trev sat up and started introducing all his toys. The wooden soldiers that were hand carved, some mounted even, they all had names. So did the overstuffed frog that was Lord of the pond that was part of the grounds. There was Giffy the giraffe, Lumpy the lop eared rabbit and so on. He was quick on the introductions so she could get to her story. He had made room on his bed for her to sit. He had the typical boy's room, tons of things including a rock collection, a terrarium with lizards in it and small turtles. Things hanging from the ceiling of various animals that he had made with paper mache.


She did notice the bugs and wasn't surprised. Such was the way things were around the Horsemen, even around the castle itself. . The Horsemen were after all, exceptional in ways people wouldn't expect. "And we don't want to disappoint him." She spoke softly as they stepped inside. Somehow she wasn't surprised that it would be lit up in this way. Somehow it suited the youngest Horsemen. "I'll be so glad when the orphanage is back to normal. I worry that if it takes too long, the children will be upset but they've been excellent, and so have my helpers." She couldn't have done all she did without them. Even the cottage of the elderly couple had been built quickly and with the extra help tomorrow, things would be back to normal in no time. Once in Trev's room, all her thoughts and concerns were put away and she focused fully on the boy, paying attention to each thing he presented to her. "Your room is wonderful, Trev. I have to admit, it's one of the best I've seen." She was finding the precocious child to be a true joy to be around.


All would be done and quickly now that everything was in motion. Trevor took a seat on the sill of the bay window, surrounded by many of his son's toys. Somehow it as befitting the king's man. Trev was beaming a smile at her compliment. "Can you tell me a story about Sigfried, my gallant lizard," which he pointed to the terrarium, "or Lumpy or Giffy? Can they rescue the princess? Can you make up stories?" Trevor cleared his throat as his sone would be challenging Henna to keep up with him and already deviating from the original story he asked for. Trev heard his father as he caught himself with a look his way but he didn't take back his questions, only added a sheepish smile, adoring one, large brown eyes round and innocent. They went well with the sandy brown hair and freckles dashed over cheeks and nose.


"Well, let's see." She had settled herself on the bed, feet still on the ground and turned sideways toward him. "Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a magical lizard named Sigfried who served as a mount for a very brave rabbit knight named Lumpy. Lumpy's best friend in all the world was the wizard Giffy, a tall and handsome giraffe. They all served a Princess whose name was ... " Here she paused to allow Trev to give the princess a name.


"Henna!" Came with a burst of enthusiasm. Trevor looked over towards the door, so that he didn't laugh and have it taken wrong. It was quite obvious his son was enamored with the Princess. He could not blame him.


"Henna." She was laughing, almost certain the lad would pick her name. "One day, a terrible troop of bears attacked the town where they all lived and took the princess away. You see, they knew that Sir Lumpy, Giffy and Sigfried were all away and thought the turtles guarding Princess Henna were very brave, they were also very slow. The next day Lumpy, Giffy and Sigfried came home to find everyone sad and crying because their princess was gone. 'Dry your tears,' Lumpy said. 'We will bring the princess back,' and off they went. They had to cross a swift river but Sigfried swam in and carried both Lumpy and Giffy to safety."


Little Trev hung on her every word, "the river is real big," spreading his arms as wide as he could and back. "They had to swim good. Did they find the Princess Henna?" Trevor was impressed with how Henna integrated his favorite toys, giving them a new dimension he knew his son would incorporate and build upon in the days to follow.


"Yes, real big... you could hardly see the other side. They didn't find her yet. They had to climb a great cliff and then they came to the home of the bears. First, they scouted, sneaking around the city of the bears and looking for the weakest point. Then they had to have a plan. The bears were having a great celebration because they had the Princess and they were going to make her their very own. Now everyone knows that bears are fond of honey wine so the brave knight, wizard and lizard waited until the bears had drank too much and almost all of them were asleep. They sneaked into the city and after looking and looking, found the Princess. But her guards were still awake and grumpy because they didn't have any wine to drink. And what do you think they did?" She paused when she asked her question, glancing over at Trevor and winking before her attention was back on Trev.


Trev's eyes went wide, "Endless River," giving it a name which gave more of a reality to the story. "Bears are good if like Baar," giving a firm nod to that as he had met Malcolm's bear. A slight frown followed, "but these are badbears," coming out as one word. Trevor was watching Henna as she was immersed in the story, it allowed him time to study her in an elusive way. Nothing given away in any change of expression. A few glances upon his son so that if she looked she'd not find him staring, it wasn't like that. Trev quickly piped in, "what did they do?" Trevor responded with a wink and the hint of a smile.


"They did exactly what knights and wizards, and faithful lizards should do. They fought the bears and won. And after they tied them up, they released the princess from her cell. And then they all escaped. Of course, they had to be very, very quiet because they didn't want to wake the baby bears and make them cry. That would wake all the bears. So, they climbed back down the cliffs and Sigfried took them across the river and they started back to their own city. But then they heard a shout behind them. Some of the bears had woke up so they mounted Sigfried and rode as fast as they could back to their city. And they locked the gates and waited for the bears to come." She paused, nearly laughing at how wide the boy's eyes were. "With all the bears at the gate, Sir Lumpy went to the top of the wall. 'The Princess belongs here. Go back home.' He told the bears who cried. 'We want our own princess.' Lumpy thought and thought and then he told them, 'Go and pick the prettiest bear in your city and she can be your princess.' Well, the bears hadn't thought about that so they talked and thought that was a good idea. They would rather drink honey wine and work for their own princess then fight. So off they went. Princess Henna gave the brave Sir Lumpy and clever Giffy and faithful Sigfried each a hug and a medal for saving her. She thought they were the best heroes in all the lands. And so they all lived happily ever after." She leaned forward to kiss Trev on the forehead. "And now it's time for all growing boys to sleep."


Trev's eyes couldn't get any wider and he had shifted in his bed to get even closer to Henna. Little hand slipping into hers for reassurance Princess Henna would be rescued and they would get back safely. "Do you think the bad bears could become good bears?" Trev liked the story but in his eyes... even bad people could become good or what he hoped. He was becoming sleepy eyed, after the end of the story and they were no longer wide. Trevor was up and over to give his son another kiss on the forehead good night. "Maybe that will be another story, another time. Sleep well my son, tomorrow is another day." Which Trev hugged Henna first then his father. Laying back down with a sheet for his blanket. He insisted no matter how hot it was at night now. Even if he held on to just a corner. "I hope you can tell me another story again," yawning as his eyes drooped even more as he curled up on his side. Trevor pressed a finger to his lips, knowing if either of them spoke, he might come back from dreamland. Offering his hand to ease her up from her seat and then out of the lad's room. The door would be left open a crack as Trevor would check on him again before he went to bed and no need to open the door and possibly disturb his son's sleep.


"Yes, I do." She knew there were some who would never change, but she too, believed some could. The hug was returned and she watched him a moment before Trevor offered his hand. Tiptoeing out, she waited for him to close the door, fingers still curled with his. "He's a wonderful child, Trevor. And he's going to grow up to be a strong and brave man like his father." She kept her voice in a whisper of course, her face turned up to his so he could see her smile.


"I agree with you wholehearted but I am prejudice." Which had a glint of laughter in his eyes as they made their way down the hall. "Would you like a nightcap, some tea, coffee or something a bit stronger, glass of Chablis?" Which as he talked he led her to the back porch, one that was screened in and had a nice view of the gardens and the gazebo a distance away.


"A glass of Chablis would be perfect. I'm not in a rush." She figured it would be too late to return to the orphanage in any case, though she was unaware of the room being held for her. She was thinking the castle would be where she'd stay tonight. It had cooled off and she sighed happily. "This is very nice."


"If you will excuse me a moment then," as he would see to the glasses himself. He'd not keep Mary Beth up or any of the staff to wait on him this late. They had lives too and served him well although Mary Beth insisted that if he needed her it would not be a problem for her to stay longer. He was back with the cold Chablis as he came to stand by her, drink offered. "It is late and Mary Beth had a room readied in case you would like to spend the night here. She has already made plans for a splendid breakfast before our day's duties. I would like it if you'd stay but I will escort you to wherever it is you wish to stay the night otherwise." His voice mellow, something earthy that had a way of drawing one to its comfort.


"Thank you." She accepted the drink then looked thoughtful. She had spent time away from both home and orphanage so no one would be worried and she really didn't want Trevor making another trip back and forth. "I think I'll accept the offer." And she would look forward to the breakfast as well. "This has been a good day. I'm glad you invited me for dinner."


"I am glad I asked and that you accepted," there was the glint in his eyes to accompany his smile. One that came fully. He lifted his glass. "To good friends that possibly might become more. Fate allowing but in the very least the friendship will last." If she agreed their glasses would lightly clink together before he would take a drink of the fine wine. "Being that you are staying, please have a seat," giving a slight hand motion to the cushioned swing that would be comfortable. They had more time to spend together in conversation, in getting to know each other. He would wait for her to be seated before taking up the cushion next to hers.


One never knew where the future led and Henna was always glad for friendships. "And to the future and whatever it brings." She touched her glass lightly to his before taking a seat on the swing. "Though I do hope the next few weeks at least will be peaceful." She laughed softly. "While we completely recover." From hurricanes, problems in Kildare and pirates along the coast.


"Aye, and we will recover," he set the swing into a gentle motion as their conversation would continue about the lands, about her children, about their duties right down to include the weather. When the stars were out fully and a second glass of Chablis enjoyed, he would show her to her room for the night. Standing close a moment with the touch of his hand to her cheek. Eyes held as he leaned in. If she gave any movement to avoid being kissed he would naturally straighten and leave it go for now. He would not push the issue as it might be too early.


The talk was pleasant, the Chablis of course, delicious. But she was ready for sleep. She paused to look up at Trevor, not moving away, eyes staying on his until they fluttered closed with the touch of his lips. It wasn't too early except in knowing just where her heart would go. She was drawn to him as well as another.


The kiss was gentle as she didn't move away nor avoid it. In spite of gentle there was an underlying fierce quality that was kept in check. He would be the kind of lover that didn't leave a woman wanting should it go there. Presently he was pleased with the kiss for her lips were as giving as he knew they would be. As sweet as he believed them to be and didn't go disappointed. His hand slipped away as he took her into his arms and let the kiss consume with that fire for the last couple seconds. A way of letting her know what was ahead if they should take that path. He didn't keep to it or there would be wanting more. Instead he eased as his voice held that roughen quality, "sleep sweet Princess. I shall see you in the morning." He may well lay awake for awhile thinking on the whole of the evening.


It had been some time since she had been kissed, and kissed so well. She was drawn into his arms and melted against him, arms sliding around him until he stepped away. Eyes held a dreamy quality as she looked up at him again. "Good night, Trevor. May your dreams be sweet ones." She watched him walk away before going into the room. Perhaps she too, would be awake for a while before sleep finally claimed her. There was much to think about.

-e-

Date: 10-05-11
Poster: Trevor Cairns
Post # 44

Surprise!

There had been one skirmish after another this brisk autumn day. Many of the knights and this particular Kingsman, stayed after the morning's ritual practice. A few short breaks in between but he was interested in the new recruits. Lads being tested out to become squires. The idea of having a squire again had been nagging at him for whatever reason. Eventually his son would be one of them. The clang of sword against sword or sword against shield still rung out as he finally evacuated the training field and headed for the castle. Evening was setting in and he found he was hungry. Hungry enough to eat in the knight's hall, knowing it would be a good fare, than waiting another hour or so that would get him home. Trevor might eat the plate of food kept warm for him there once he returned. Presently he was relaxed at a table near the front entrance to the hall. He watched, as he ate, those coming in and out.


There were times that Dana disappeared from the field and did not return until evening. Today had been such a day but it wasn't due to a lady. He had taken a few of the lads for training, leaving them on their own for a few hours to see if they could find their way out of the woods. He knew where each was and had continued to check on them, and they had all managed to find a road to take them back to Heathfield. They didn't have to walk back since he saw to their horses. After cleaning up, the Frenchman made his way to the hall to see to a meal and drink. It had been a sunny day but the air had grown colder once the sun had set. When he saw Trevor also having dinner, he joined him at the table.


He felt Dana's presence long before he turned that last corner bringing him through the entry of the knight's hall. Smile touched in a slight twitch as he halted in chowing down to greet his friend, "long invigorating day this one." He didn't need to invite him to his table, it was assumed, in fact it was expected. "How did your day go?" The ledger off to the side was open, listing all the new recruits as well those he tested out today. There were various notes and scores that had been taken. Some stood out amongst the others, including one that was much younger than the others but was fighting his way through like a little demon.


"Aye, it was that." He chuckled as he agreed then took a careful sip of the hot coffee he had chosen. "The lads did well but when it begins to grow cold and they are tired and hungry, they are glad to return home." He grinned as he added, "at least this time none found the rocks of a stream to be slippery." In other words, none had fallen in while crossing. "But they will sleep well tonight." He nodded to the notebook. "You have been busy." And then he took a bite of his meal.


"In time, they will learn not to feel the cold or the emptiness of their stomachs." They would be hard on them to learn so that if they ended up in battle, many of which saw poverty, they would survive. "Aye," giving a nod with a glance to the ledger of names, numbers and facts. "I'm thinking of taking on a squire. It's been a while." The glance up was unspoken wondering if Dana would take one on too.


"It is good to pass on your knowledge, oui?" He smiled at Trevor after finishing another bite and swallowing. "It proves to be interesting at times. Do you have one in mind?"


"I tend to go for the underdog that shows more than the average abilities. I've yet to find what I'm looking for but feel that I will..." whatever else he was about to say was distracted to an argument at the main entry. There was a lad there holding something. What exactly he could not be certain for the guard's body was in the way. The guard that was halting him with a lot of questions, barring him from coming in.


Dana ate while he listened, nodding until Trevor's attention, and his was taken away. He turned slightly in his chair to look, a brow lifting. "Now what do you suppose that is about?"


It was a half notice as he started eating again but the argument had the guards' voice getting louder as the lad wasn't easily brushed off and sent on his way. He seemed determined. Not wishing for this to get ugly, Trevor was up and over to come between the two. Dana might not hear the exchange but the guard stepped down as he turned to the lad. They went into conversation before he dug out a few silvers to hand over and take what the lad had wrapped against his chest so the guard could not take it. He all but ran then out of the castle as Trevor returned to their table with a medium size basket. "Something for Sir Lazare. Smells good." Which some of the aroma escaped. He took his seat again and stared at the basket. "He would not give it over to the guard, I convinced him to give it over to me, being one of the four horsemen and close to Lazare."


"The way he was clinging to it, it is a miracle he gave it over." He chuckled and studied the basket. "Did the boy say who it is from?" He continued eating, eyes still on the basket. "It does smell good." He was studying it to see if there might be a card or note.


"Aye, you'd think the King's ransom was in it." Curiosity had him as he reached over, letting the tip of his eating knife lift under one corner of the basket's lid. It was not latched down. There was a heavy cloth that had what smelled like roasted chicken, mash potatoes possibly, gravy? He was discerning the different scents. He didn't get to see exactly unless he wanted to open it all the way and take a look. "There is parchment setting on top of the coverlet." Letting the tip of his blade slide away as the basket lid fell back in place. Oh yeah, he was debating to take a look or not what would be Lazare's. They would probably get accused of it anyway.


"Too bad de Beauvais isn't here. He could keep it warm for him." There was just a hint of a smile as he watched Trevor then glanced around. "No one is looking now." Since the boy had left and all had settled, everyone was about their own business. "You should have asked the boy." Tsking as he settled back into eating. Yes, they likely would be accused of peeking in any case.


"Warm? It would be ashes.." which had him laughing. Wouldn't that take the cake. "I wonder if there is dessert in there too?" He was right, no one about paying any more attention to what was old news at this point. "I asked the lad who sent it. He didn't know. Said a man came through their village, that fisherman's one, with it. He said he heard they could use an extra coin and so enlisted the lad to bring this here for a few silver. That was a lot just to deliver this basket to a King's man. Seems he knows of us. Wouldn't give it to anyone but Lazare but conceded to allow me to see it delivered from here being Lazare is not about. Yet." Which he could show up any time. Curious as he was, there was privacy to respect. There was a note. "We'll just see if he shows. If not, then we should check to see what is in it so it doesn't go to waste."


Dana laughed then shrugged. "No telling until we see inside, that is if Lazare allows us to see." He finished his meal and pushed it back, his expression thoughtful. "Why would someone go to all that trouble? And from a distance it seems?" He studied the basket again. "Hopefully it will not grow cold. " He chuckled again at the thought of their comrade's reaction should he miss such a treat!

-tbc-

Date: 10-16-11
Poster: Lazare Carno
Post # 45

Admired

"What will not grow cold?" The depth of vibration carried across the room in the form of that question. De Beauvais continued forward toward his comrades, loosening the thick leather belt that held the sword of his station at his hip. The weapon was eased to the table top, flattening out right in front of that basket. Vincent pressed a hand to the wood and leaned forward to bring the basket closer to himself and, unlike his brothers in arms, tossed aside the cloth covering the contents to one side. And there was the note, the one the items were prepared for and the note addressed to written with unidentifiable block lettering ... Sir Lazare. This particular warrior had not been present for the arrival of the goods, so when he saw the name scribed on the parchment, dark brows lifted slowly with amusement. "Now this is rather interesting." He picked up the folded paper and flipped it over then back. He didn't open it, but instead placed it on top of his sword hilt to look back in the basket.


One could only invade so far of a comrade, no matter how curious they all were. Trevor split a wide grin as Vincent made his way in. Halted his and Dana's conversation. "I was wondering when you'd join us." Half rising as he clasped a hand to Vincent's shoulder then was back down. "...life is a conscious continuity.." which came as a natural response at this point. "Seems our friend has a mystery gift of food here..." it also had him looking towards the entry .. speak of the devil and all. Where one of the four gathered it was very likely to draw the others.


Dana had just pushed the plate away when Vincent entered. He covered his mouth to hide his expression though it was obvious the man was laughing. That had ended their hem hawing around, hadn't it? He pointed toward the basket after Vincent was through and grinned. "We were wondering how long we should wait to see what was inside so it didn't grow cold. But you've solved that." Yes, all they needed now was for Lazare to come through the door. He
wouldn't need to blame Trevor and Dana because Vincent was right there, looking inside.


There would be no blame blasting, Vincent would not hesitate to tell their winded brother who had disturbed the sanctity of this meal. Vincent slanted a narrowed look to Trevor and then to Dana. "Smells good." And he brought out one of the containers to pass it under his nose.

Just as he did, the final one of the Four came whistling his way into the hall. "Ah! So this is where the meeting was meant to be. And here I've been wandering about in search of ...." Lazare's words died down to a smiling silence when he noticed where Trevor's and Dana's attention had been resting and that even now, Vincent was breathing in a wrapped up morsel of something most delicious and tempting drifting on the air to Carno. "Really, de Beauvais, you shouldn't have. From the aroma, you've been practicing more in the kitchen than on the field. Even from here my mouth waters." Carno had continued walking as he spoke, coming up alongside his brothers circling that basket.


"You damn fool, it's a gift ... for you ... and not from me." Vincent's growl could easily be distinguished as tinted with a laugh, but only by the other three closest to him. Otherwise, it was very much, a growl.


The usual stoic Trevor was grinning like a loon at the moment. Couldn't be helped. "I think Vincent here only knows charcoal crispy, everything tastes the same once through the furnace.. I hope his wife knows how to cook." Indicating the note that at least was still unopened. "Came by carrier lad who doesn't know who it is from other than it was to be delivered to you. He was getting close to being thrown out insisting.. so I interceded for you so it got to you tonight. Maybe the note will clear up who sent it.." which he waited on Lazare taking a look.


"It does smell good. Were any of us gifted with Lazare's appetite, he'd have nothing left." He paused as Lazare joined them and just smiled. "We were trying to decide if we should check for quality. But now that you are here, you can do it yourself." He looked thoughtfully toward the basket, "though ... you haven't angered a woman lately, have you?"


"Never you mind, Trevor, what Julia knows how to do." A dark brow twitched with his feigned threat, leaving the comment to carry itself. Since Lazare was still taking the wrapped food out of the basket, and Trevor had mentioned the note, and Carno still didn't reach for it, Vincent did, taking it up and flicking it toward the man it was intended for. "Open the thing."

"I have never angered a woman, my entire life, that I am aw..." The note came sailing his way which had him dropping his thought and his sentence to catch it up. He grinned, looking at the writing on the front then over to the three waiting. "I think I will open this in the privacy of my rooms." But, he was joking, and that was obvious when he eased his dagger out and slipped the blade beneath the seal, separating wax from paper. The weapon was lowered to the table and he opened it, brows dancing for emphasis before closing it again and tucking it in the waistband of his pants. Not saying a single thing.


His threat only gained a grunted laugh. Neither could really threaten the other and have it .. a threat! None of the four. They were the Best of the best. Only a few were an exception. Kings. There was nothing like impatience from the growling inferno! That had a good laugh before he went all stoic as the note sailed Lazare's way, he wanted to hear what it had to say too. "I think if you do, you'll either have it beaten out of you or your room invaded tonight by earthquake, hurricane and Hell." It was very hard not to grin wide. In fact so hard, he finally gave way to it. "So.. you only want the beating.."


"What about the Duchess in Brussels?" He asked then shrugged and looked at Trevor and Vincent. "Lazare is hoping to taunt us with the note." He chuckled as he picked up his glass. "So, we wait for him to taste it and see if he is turned into some toad or put to sleep for a thousand years." He acted like he didn't care but he was as curious as his comrades.


Lazare was chuckling low as he stalled, enjoying the comments all around. He pointed a bent forefinger toward Dana. "The Duchess of Brussels...I didn't realize was the Duchess of Brussels. Heck, for all I knew, she was the Duke...costumed for the masquerade in his wife's dress. And so did the lot of you and the Black Griffon too!" He nodded to each of them as he laughed, tugging out the note again. "So that doesn't count." With the one hand he held the note out Trevor's way, the other hand began to unwrap one of the items that was, without doubt, dessert. "If I do turn to a toad, de Vimeure, you keep your blasted French clutches off of my legs."


"..as in Brussels sprouts? That would be Lazare's kind of woman. But.." and here he looked between the three before adding, "it could be a male that sent him this." He had seen the plain lettering on the note and when it was offered over he rose enough to be able to reach and grasp it away. Flipped open the next moment with the rise of brows, "an admirer who writes plainly." Lifting the parchment to run under his nose, "no discerning scent that would mark it female.." so that comment in jest it could be a male, had some weight as he offered it over to Dana to inspect next. Muttering next with a laugh, "if turned to a toad, we could all have frog legs."


"Yes, she was rather ... " He waved that away, laughing then took the note. "No perfume. A pity." He looked it over then held it out toward Vincent though he looked at Lazare and grinned. "Not me, but the cook, yes. Though I'm not certain toad legs would be the same as frog legs." He glanced at Trevor and laughed. "Is your mind on Brussels sprouts, Trevor? Lazare has said we're to keep our hands off his legs if he turns into one. Then again, I'm not sure I'd wish to touch his legs, frog or toad."


As much as the Four of them did for the people of these lands on a daily basis, it was nothing to receive thanks from male and female alike. So the fact that the basket of goods may have come from a male, a family or a female...mattered not at all to Lazare. What mattered was the expert culinary skills that had made up the goods in the basket. Carno had eased to a bench and was tasting each of the items as it was unwrapped.


Vincent stood, listening and watching, taking the note as it came his way and glancing within to the single line that gave none of them fuel to burn their comrade on more than just another admirer. All of them kept their affairs discreet. And each of them respected that honorable trait, even if they did taunt each other with possibilities.


Trevor went thoughtful, "not much to go on but it seems the food is cooked well, would put any of the culinary experts of the lands to a test. I guess what will remain to be seen, is if there is more of this.." giving a slight motion of hand to the basket and its contents. It could be an isolated incident which would leave it to remain a mystery but if it was the beginning of a trend, then it was more than something sent anonymous in appreciation.


"If there is more of that, then it's a good thing Carno is on the field every day. Otherwise, he'd have to waddle around the city to get to each eating establishment." He laughed at the thought then checked on Lazare. Ah, the man was happily sampling. "It is as good as it smells? Or are you just making a show of it so we don't laugh at you?"


"I am but testing before sharing, Brother." Carno laughed, sliding some of the food both in Dana's direction and Trevor's. Carno knew better than to offer Vincent any, so didn't. "It is as good if not better." Carno raised from the bench slightly to reach once more into the basket but the smile faded when his fingers curled around something not of the food type. He came fully to his feet, both hands within the basket and withdrew the pair of finely crafted throwing daggers.


As soon as Lazare's smile disappeared, Vincent stiffened, a dark frown passing over his features. "What is it?" Though the words were spoken, they were low, and deep, and did not require so much a verbal response as the sight of the weapons that were brought from the bottom of the basket.


Trevor took the food offered to sample. If one was going to turn into a toad, then they would be the frogs with him. Instead, he found it to be as good as Hazel's cooking in the Thistle. When Lazare's expression changed so did the air around them. They all picked up on that something 'else' and the food was forgotten. "What..." his question tripping over Vincent's that he didn't need to finish. The next moment had brows lifting once again as it turned out to be yet more in this bottomless basket. A low whistle under his breath as he eyed the fine weapons. "Obviously whoever sent this, knows of your skill and tastes." Something to consider.


Of course, he wouldn't turn down the offer to sample though he paused to watch Lazare. "Very nice," was muttered under his breath before he looked from the knives to Carno. "And they actually know how to shock him into silence." He rubbed at his chin, eyes narrowing slightly. "Perhaps if this happens again, you'll have more of a clue with it."


Carno weighed the well balanced blades in his hand, twirling first one and then the other before holding the one at arms length to eye the making down the blade. "They are very nice." The sender and the blades themselves. "Shame I can't send my thanks." He was still nodding to Trevor's comment about the sender's knowledge of Lazare's interests, both in food and in skill.


"If...it happens again is exactly the key word, Dana." Vincent watched Lazare, even as he, himself, judged the craftsmanship of the weapons in the warrior's experienced hold. "What have you there, Trevor?" Vincent pulled his gaze from the weapons still being played with by the man most experienced with them to the book that had been pushed aside but clearly belonging to Cairns.


".... or more of a mystery." Could work either way. He finished off his sampling before done. The food was obviously very good and not anything more. Turning the conversation back to an earlier one. One before they had gotten here. "We have quite the influx of new squires. Some a bit more talented and one or two exceptionally so to keep a watch on. They will move thorough the ranks quicker." Best way to keep them challenged. Vincent's question fitted right in as he sat up more to push the ledger his way. "Have a look."


Since they were done with the mystery for now, Dana just nodded, stretching out his legs. He watched Vincent with the book, Lazare with the knives and just relaxed as he listened. Other than being in the arms of a comely lass, this was the kind of night he favored.


Lazare lowered his gaze as the book drifted under his nose toward Vincent, catching a few names, their marks, before redirecting his attention back to his new 'toys'. The meal was delicious and appreciated. But the weapons? The weapons would hold him entertained for quite some time.


"So we've all noticed." Vincent dipped his head in agreement with Trevor, reaching out to bring the book closer and note the young men that Trevor found promising. Most matched his own mental notes, but there were a few that Cairns had noticed with favor beyond Vincent's skeptical eye. Those names were tucked away in memory for a more thorough study come the morning. "I noticed your squire today, Dana." That dark gaze slanted de Vimeure's way briefly before returning to the book. "He hesitates at times, as if he's afraid you might find his efforts lacking and disapprove." A single nod and he slid the book back to Trevor. "I'll be interested to see how these young men progress once they face more experienced knights, won't you?" Heathfield's prospects were good, including Dana's squire no matter how Vincent might pick him apart.


"You might be interested in the promising Shawnesey lad, Lazare," drawing him back from his toys and distraction, "younger brother of Rhett. Shaun." Rhett had proven to be a hero in an old tradition in Kildare's battle. The lad showed promise of the same kind of skill and determination as the brother. Not to be mistaken for the older brother even if he favored him in looks too. Giving a nod to Vincent's suggestion as it went without saying.. he had this ledger.


"Young MacKay is harder on himself then I could ever be," Dana laughed and shrugged. "He will grow comfortable in time and prove himself." The lad had brothers to live up to. Never made things easy. He glanced at Trevor, frowning slightly as he tried to remember which he was talking about. "Ah, the thin one. Lazare could teach him to eat." Lips twitching as he teased. He didn't know a teenage lad alive who didn't eat exactly like Lazare.


There were many heroes in Vincent's opinion when it came to Kildare. There were many heroic deeds in any great battle none any more worthy of praise than another. War was war, and sacrifices were demanded of those who chose this life. In the end, it was placing your head on the pillow of your bed and not of your coffin and doing your damnedest to make sure your comrades could do the same. "What say you, Lazare? Are you up to a squire?"

Huh? The daggers ceased their spinning and he looked from Trevor to Vincent as he attempted to catch up with the conversation that had been underway while his own thoughts drifted. "Squire? Who? Me? Shawnesey? I haven't thought about it really..." And then Dana's comment registered. "I could teach him more than that, Frenchie. I could teach him to skewer a Frenchman from across the training field." He stood up, grabbing his balls in one hand and hopping around on one foot. "Ouwooooo! Good aim, Shawnesey, considering the size of your target!" He continued to dance around in that circle, pretending to be de Vimeure, bouncing from one foot to another, howling as if in pain.


Vincent watched a little while, lowered his gaze and snorted out what very well might have been a laugh.


"Now see that, if he's not handling one weapon he's handling another." Which had him laughing as Lazare did his ball-less dance. "He's got the howling down right... although I think he needs a woman soon.." as if he handled himself far too much and this just another excuse.


"Bah. I'll teach MacKay to shoot the knife out of the air before it even reaches me. And continue on so that you really do dance on the field, Carno." He waved a hand as if dismissing the whole idea. "So you are going to take the lad on and teach him the proper way to howl in pain?" And in an aside to Trevor, he added, "he'd scare a woman away with that dance."


Vincent lifted his gaze but not his head and looked over to Lazare with Dana's question. Would the man take on a squire? It would be his first actual commitment other than to the Black Griffon.

Lazare ceased his dance, still cupping the baggage in his britches. "No, no squire for me yet. I'll have to watch this Shawnesey you speak of." He was grinning as he looked between Trevor and Dana. "Have to make sure he has the lung capacity to howl." He released his hold, shaking a leg just to settle everything back in place after that dance. "Now, I'll leave you three to finish up my meal and I'm taking my gift of admiration..." Yes, he did emphasize the word so that they heard once again he was 'admired', "and head back to my rooms." He muttered low following that statement, but made sure the others heard. "I believe I've pulled something or other with that blasted dance." He faked a disjointed step to back his comment.


"Take him to dance and howl then." Chuckling as he rose. "I've a son to see to before his lids are closed for the night." Little Trev would wait up but not too late. "One day one of you will be taking him on." He would not settle for less and he'd need someone other than his father to be squire to. The lad had gifts that set him apart already. "I will see you all on the field tomorrow." He'd walk Lazare out if he was leaving as well or to the door if they were staying here as they had quarters here.


"You still have to be on the field tomorrow, Carno." He stood with a yawn. Yes, it was that time. "Give my regards to your Lady wife, Vincent and a kiss for your daughters. I too, shall find my bed." He saw Vincent's three ladies on occasion but it didn't hurt to have the Dragon pass on his greetings. "And I look forward to see your lad on the field." He started for the door as well. Tomorrow he'd have to work on Kynan's confidence.


Confidence might be the only thing the lad lacked. Vincent nodded to Dana, he would see to that. "That will be our honor, Trevor, when the day arrives." He tapped a fisted hand to his chest for all of them. "Within the movement of change, Brothers. Within the movement of change." The remainders of that basket was left for any that followed them, though it was not much to be sure. de Beauvais' curiosity was still peaked where this admirer was concerned, though he hid it well. Together The Four made their way out of the hall. Life was a constant continuity...

-tbc-

Date: 10-19-11
Poster: Tykir Riktafir
Post # 46

It was the end of a typical fall day though Molly wasn't certain if the nice weather still remained or if it had gotten cloudy. She had finished cleaning up, sweeping and putting away things, and was just about done. She hadn't even thought about eating though she had taken a few breaks. She puffed a few loose hairs out of her face then grinned as she leaned on the broom and studied the job she had done. She was quite pleased with herself!

Barrett's Bay. It had become a favorite haunt for one of the younger of Heathfield's nobles and with good reason. The sea-side folk had recognized the dark prince immediately and now weren't the least bit surprised and perhaps even expected the teen to make his periodic visit to the mercantile. He was Honeee's son, and would stop to chat, joke, laugh and even give aide if needed as he made his way to the destination of choice. Even though the oncoming hour of evening brought with it a slightly bitter air, Tykir had rolled up his shirt sleeves to help hang a door three buildings down. He waved his goodbyes, calling out his good natured rebuttal to the humorous warnings of protective brothers. He had only just started pressing the folded sleeves down when he passed the main window of the mercantile, seeing Molly within propped on her broom. The smile from earlier faded a bit, only because she was a sight, that Molly Tremaine, and he couldn't help but stare until a shout further down the street about Tykir's intentions snapped him from his entranced state. He leaned toward the glass and tapped a knuckle against the window to gain her attention.


Indeed she was, with her hair curling around her face and half out of the braids she wore. Even a bit of dust on her cheek but she came out of her thoughts with the knock and grinned when she saw Tykir. Of course, being who she was, she didn't mind her current state. She called out to whomever was in the back room, likely one of the women who worked there. Then she headed for the door and opened it. "Evening, Tykir." She didn't add that it was good to see him because her smile would have said that.


He made quick work of his sleeves, then ran a hand through his hair, which did nothing to help the appearance and more than likely caused it to stick up where once it was even laying flat. "Hey, Moll. Finishing up?"


"Yes I am." In spite of not normally caring, she smoothed down her hair. "Do you want to come in or do you have something else in mind?" She wouldn't care if they left or not. Just so she could spend time with him. She never felt shy around him, and always comfortable.


They were friends, good friends, and that in itself helped to move them past any uncomfortable awkwardness around each other. "I'll come in if you are going to tell the others in back you're heading out." It would be better if he came in for that time. It might give the others down the street the incentive to go back to whatever they had been doing and cease with the jibes coming Tykir's way before Molly heard them. "I haven't eaten yet, thought maybe you might not have had a chance either. And if you then you could just join me ... and watch me eat." Big grin spread over his features and he shrugged a shoulder in jest.


She held open the door and nodded. "I can do that." Quite cheerfully in fact. Once Tykir stepped inside, she headed to the door of the back room and called out. "I'll be back later!" Someone answered and she laughed then joined Tykir again. "To be honest, I'm starved! I forgot to eat earlier. Focused on training, you know." She shrugged too but only because it was a natural thing. "But I could watch you too, while I eat." The apron was removed, a quick glance taken in the mirror behind the counter, and she rubbed off the dust and tidied her hair a bit. "I'm ready."


"How can anyone forget to eat?" He laughed, extending a hand to capture hers. "Come on, Moll, before they change their minds or they figure out you're leaving with me." He shot her a wink, giving her a gentle tug and lead them out of the shop. He paused, releasing his hold for her to see to the door behind them.


"I got busy!" Well, she had been nibbling at some things here and there while she worked at the shop. Candy and the like. But her answer was a little sheepish. She laughed as she was tugged out, then closed the door behind her. The closed sign was up a little earlier then usual because a new shipment had come in so she had taken over the cleaning chores. Once the door was closed, she caught his hand again. "Where to?"


"It's a surprise." He grinned, the jerk of head to indicate their immediate destination to the right down the street. He stepped toward her and took up her hand again, fingers wrapping around her palm and he started off in that direction. "Mr. Clymore, down the way, told me about this, sounded good, thought we could enjoy it too." He slanted a look her way. He'd always be looking her way every chance he could. They weaved their way in and out and around, down this alley, that back street, until the narrow, shadowed passageway opened up to a backyard. They could hear the gathering before they arrived. Music. Laughing. Conversations. A good thirty people had gathered on the sandy earth, and the scent of wood smoke, soaked in whiskey, filled the air. Three medium fires popped and cracked and above the flames fish had been hung to poles to cook up the flavor of the whiskey chips. "The best flavor ever, Moll. They break up the old whiskey barrels to make wood chips to cook the fish." He tore his attention from the gathering to look her way again. "Pretty nifty, eh?" He gave her another tug and they moved to join the others. The lass of the mercantile was recognized by several, the Prince of Heathfield recognized by that many more. They were welcomed with smiles, words and waves.


That was intriguing! She was looking at him as much as she could without causing herself to trip too. By the time they reached the yard, she wasn't sure where they were but the gathering was a good one. She sniffed the air then grinned. "It is! And it smells great." And was making her all the more hungry. She greeted those that greeted her and then some. And heard a few talking about them in a way that made her cheeks turn pink. Nothing bad, just talk.


Perhaps it was his upbringing, perhaps it was his blood, but Tykir had never met a stranger that wasn't soon enough no longer so. "Ah, Prince Tykir! I see you talked the lass into joining you. Miss Tremaine, such a treat to have you at our small gathering." Mr. Clymore moved over to the teens, thumping Tykir on the back and dipping his head to the lass. Together, the man lead Molly and Tykir through the crowd, introductions all around. "Make yourselves at home. There are none of us here overly fond of pomp and such." The man shooshed a few gossipers to silence with the wave of a hand, but that was for the moment. The two teens made for too delicious a fodder not to chew some on the sight of them together.


"Thank you." She quite happy to be among other people tonight, especially with Tykir here to keep her from becoming overly shy. So many of them and she'd do her best to remember names. Oh, she knew there'd be talk. She had been teased at home about it but she didn't mind really. There was other food to go with the fish and she giggled when her stomach growled.


"Did you say something, Moll?" Tykir twitched off a wink to her when he heard that familiar sound of neglect. "Oh, you said again that you forgot to eat..." He leaned toward her, her hand still in his, and gave her a nudge with the side of his arm. Several of the people had been enjoying the evening for quite some time and were already dancing around with their partners. Others worked the fires. Set out the additional food and drink for when the fish was ready. "Can we do something to help, Mr. Clymore?" Tykir called out to the obvious host, even as he gave Molly's hand a squeeze. "You are our guests, Lad. You and the lass enjoy yourselves. Grab a plate, and a tankard and anything else your hands can manage to." And that had a good round of robust laughter following from all around, causing Tykir to cast a ill-suppressed grin Molly's way.


"My stomach hasn't forgotten." She chuckled and gave another shrug, taking a step to the side with the nudge. When Tykir offered their help, she looked toward the man. She did smile at Tykir but her cheeks were pink again. Not that she minded the teasing. She just couldn't help it lately!


"Let's get us something to eat." The Dark Prince guided them over to take up a wooden dish for each of them, more than likely also made from the same wood as what cooked the fish. He handed her one and no sooner than it was in her hand then a young blonde, probably more their age was placing deviled eggs and twice fire baked potatoes on their plates.


"I won't argue." She smiled as the food was placed on their plates then breathed in deeply. Though it had been a long time since she had gone hungry, Molly would never stop appreciating the taste of food. And in spite of having her favorites, she was almost always willing to try something new. One of the deviled eggs was eaten before they even found a place to sit.


"You can sit with us." The young blonde offered, motioning to the other four teens who had huddled nearer one of the fires close to the cooked fish. "I'm Lena, Miss Molly. Don't know if you remember me. You helped me pick out some fabric just the day before yesterday..." She dropped her hands to pull at the skirt she wore. "And it is perfect. Thank you." She offered a dipped curtsy and started toward her friends. "Miss Molly, Tykir ... this is Meghan. Alfred. Jonesey. And Laurel." The other youths nodded their greetings. Jonesey pointed with an elbow to the fish. "Help yourselves...it's done. Hot. But done."


"Please, just call me Molly." Miss made her feel like a school teacher or something though she knew some used it automatically. "It's nice to meet each of you and yes, I remember Lena. It just looked like it would be really nice on you."And it did. "It smells delicious." And she carefully picked some out for herself and offered to do the same for Tykir, even though he could do it himself.


He gave her a nod, watching her as she pulled the flaky layers carefully from the string for him. He held his plate out for the meat then thanked her with a slight dip of head and a smile that may have given away more than just his gratitude. "It does smell great. Thanks for letting us join." Alfred shifted in his seated stance and muttered. "Did we have a choice?" Tykir's gaze drifted that way, dark brows lifted. Lena gasped softly and the rest of them shot looks to the newcomers. "Actually, Alfred, no...you didn't. All the better for us." Tykir pinched up some fish and took his first taste with a chewing smile Alfred's way. Alfred offered the prince a slow, apologetic nod. All would remain social. A good time was to be had.


Molly smiled again as she sat down beside Tykir though the comment from Alfred made the smile fade slightly. Then again, it seemed all was well quickly enough and she was smiling again. "Anyway, it's all delicious. Does this happen often?" She meant the celebration. It seemed spontaneous and that was a good way for things to happen. At least in her opinion."


Lena tucked her legs beside her, spreading her skirt to hide her limbs. "Every Monday night, Molly. My father likes his parties, and this is his way of sharing that. You should come every Monday, Miss...er...I mean, Molly." She offered a sheepish grin toward the newest of the lasses. "I know that Jonesey here would enjoy that. He was asking after you as soon as he saw you arrive...ow!" The tweak to the back of her arm could not be missed, the action itself or the fact that Lena had reacted to it.


"Sounds like fun." She smiled at Lena, "and a good way to share the fun." She blinked then looked at Jonesey. That certainly caught her by surprise but her smile returned. "I couldn't come without Tykir though." It was important to her that she made that clear.


"Of course not." The deeper voice of maturity loomed above them and the teens all looked up to Clymore standing there. "Now, if you've had enough to eat, young'uns, you might find it in you to show us old folk how to dance. Then again...it might be the other way around. Come on now, finish up, get to your feet, work off that meal with some fancy shuffling." A upward sweep of arm invited them all to answer to the call...it was time to dance.


She jumped a bit when Mr. Clymore spoke, biting back a giggle. A few more bites were taken so she could finish then she stood though she had a nervous look on her face. Her brother had taught her some dances but she never danced in front of strangers before. She wasn't going to let Tykir get away either, at least not for the first dance and had already grabbed his hand.


Good she had, because Jonesey had come to his feet and had meant to ask her. Seeing her take Tykir's hand and Tykir's reaction to that claim, he just nodded faintly and asked Lena instead. Tykir had only just come to his feet, setting his plate aside as he did, when Molly took his hand. He looked down to that contact, then up to her with a smile. The dance would be in a group, so she'd end up dancing with several, but when it all came to an end, she'd be leaving with him. Lena was giggling too, cheeks tinted pink with her excitement, as she raced toward the two lines forming for the dance. "Come on!" She laughed, skip-hopping, her skirt swaying and swishing with her enthusiasm as she joined the lines. "Here beside me, Molly! Tykir you there!" She used the top of her hand to direct Tykir with a wave. He was hesitant to release the hold, smiling still to Molly and offering her a quick wink before he slipped his hand from her touch and took his place.


Well, that wasn't too bad though she gave Tykir another quick look and smiled to let him know she'd be fine. Or maybe she was just reassuring herself. She wasn't wearing a skirt but that never bothered her. And Lena's enthusiasm was contagious. She laughed and joined Lena, her smile growing. This did seem like it was going to be fun. She'd just be watching to see exactly how to do it. And of course, this way, she could watch Tykir too. It helped her not feel so shy when she saw how he interacted with others, even if it was because of his training and background.


The music led them, and the lines moved, melody blending with laughter and shouts of enthusiasm as several of the older lasses lifted their hems to set free their fast moving feet. The dance was familiar to Tykir, as were so many thanks to his mother's insistence, and he found himself laughing as he moved in and out, under uplifted arms, holding his own up for others to pass under. Stepping up to Molly, smiling down to her, then back again. Circling around her, back to back, though his head turned and he watched her as best he could until they were face to face again. Then swept away by the crowd, partners switching briefly for the same motion. A cluster of four next, Molly, Lena, Jonesey and himself, arms lifted between them as they circled in a clockwise direction, laughter shared between them.


It really was fun though at times she wasn't sure which way to face or she stepped wrong but someone always got her going right again and when Tykir came around the first time, she was more confident about her steps. Her smile was brilliant for him and she tried her best to watch him too though nearly everyone was taller then she was. Finally they were in the smaller group and she was happy to join in the laughter. This would be a night she'd remember the rest of her life.


Jonesey whooped out a yell of fun just before they were separated again by the dance steps and ending in two lines, just the same as they had started. The men bowed, the women curtsied. Tykir dipped his head and shoulders to Molly slowly, his gaze lowering for only that time and as he straightened, dark eyes that practically twinkled at all times with the need for adventure no longer held a playful glint. Everyone was clapping in appreciation of the tune that had provided the dance but Tykir was crossing the distance between lines, his arm circled around Molly's back and he scooped her up to him, her body tight to his as he didn't allow her a moment more to acknowledge the players or the dancers but claimed her lips in a kiss. Forgetting entirely that they were in the midst of these kind folk and that, no doubt, what gossip was only until then assumed, would blaze out of control now in earnest.


She laughed when Jonesey whooped, then stepped back to exactly where she should be, quite proud of herself. She even managed a decent curtsey in spite of wearing pants, her smile growing a touch softer when she watched Tykir. Instead of clapping she watched as he came toward her, tipping her head to look up. Her eyes grew wider but she didn't try to get away. Instead, her lips pressed against his in return. Her arms even went around his neck and the only sound she heard was the pounding of her heart. The gossip would certainly flow and spread but it didn't matter. It never had.


Nor had it ever mattered or would it ever matter to the winged prince. If there had been hooting and shouting during the dance, it was nothing compared to the reaction from that kiss. Lena had even pressed both hands to her cheeks in response, long lashes blinking with amazement. "Yeah!" Jonesey howled out, snatching up Lena and repeating the scene. Men were grabbing up women all around, squeals of surprise and delight followed, and the calls of encouragement ensued from the spectators not dancing or kissing. Mr. Clymore had even caught his wife and had her tilted back in a thoroughly enjoyed embrace and kiss. Not that Tykir was even noticing. All his senses registered was the taste of Molly, the way she molded to him, offered to him, and how his body reacted because of her. Around the yard, partners were being switched off, girls and boys, men and women, kissing and hugging through their laughter. One older lad tugged at Tykir to share his partner but the burly twenty year old only received a shove to leave off...Tykir was happy where he was.


Molly wasn't even aware of what was going on around them, not yet. Once she realized what they had caused, she'd likely blush and laugh but not because she was embarrassed about the kiss. Oh no, not at all! She felt like she was floating, like she was all giddy inside and out and she didn't want it to end. She was only slightly aware when the lad came up to Tykir who pushed him away and though her eyelids fluttered, they remained closed. They'd need air soon enough but not yet. She even let out a soft near cooing sound, and pressed just a little closer, if that was even possible.


This moment seemed an eternity. It seemed not long enough. Tykir eased from the taste of her lips, leaving with a final peck to the soft, sweet, temptingly willing kiss. With her eyes still closed, he studied her features, smiled to himself and was smiling still when her lashes lifted. From the periphery he could see what his impulsive act had caused but he didn't look away from her. "I could blame this on the excess whiskey...smoked in the fish, soaked on the plates, drank from the tankards." A flicker of gaze touched on her lips, the lines smudged and making them rather difficult not to resume what had caused them to look so. "Better I just be honest, Moll, because, dang, I wanted to kiss you tonight since I saw you through the window." The previous lad stepped up and the dark prince jerked his gaze from Molly to look right at him. "Get...away." Tykir warned, and the young man lifted his hands, laughing in defense and back stepped to do as he was ordered.


It took a moment, maybe two for her eyes to open, only because she was afraid when she did, it would be just a dream and Tykir wouldn't be standing there. But he was and she smiled. She felt different somehow as if everything around her had become softer in color, warmer. "You did? I'm glad you decided to do so." Her eyes went wide as she realized what was going on around them after it finally registered and she giggled. When the lad stepped up and Tykir warned him away she laid her head against Tykir's shoulder, watching as the other stepped away. It was easy to forget at times that Tykir was a prince but there were always reminders.


Lena came twirling toward them, taking up Molly's hand and tugging to lead her away to the next dance that the band was getting warmed up to begin. "Is it not a great night, Molly? I have never had so much fun, thank you!" She waved Tykir to follow, and where he could bark off a male from stealing Molly, he could not in good manners do the same for the happy Lena. With a laugh to himself, he followed. Dance after dance they participated, taking time between only to drink and be dragged back by Lena and her friends to continue enjoying their evening. The hour was early...or late...but well passed the bewitching hour when things began to wind down. Either because the band had consumed too much whiskey and could not play more and the dancers had as well, or that it was just that time, to begin to break up the festivities and find their beds. With a hug to each of their new friends, even the males with a thump on the back, Tykir escorted Molly away. He shouted around his shoulder to them that they would, definitely, make it a point to return another night, sooner than later, yes, with Molly, of course. And so now, it was just the two of them, wandering the shadowed streets of Barrett's Bay to Molly's quarters.


She had to go with Lena, as reluctant as she was to move away from Tykir but the night continued until finally it was time for it all to end. "It's a wonderful night." And she meant it. Not only because she was having so much fun but because of the kiss she and Tykir had shared. In fact, it was mostly because of that kiss. She enjoyed every dance, drank cider instead of whiskey but still was feeling the effects of the night. Her goodbyes were happily given to each new friend, along with a hug. Including Mr. Clymore. And finally, they were alone again as they walked back to Barrett's Bay. She leaned against Tykir, barely feeling the cobblestones beneath her feet.


If there was danger along their path, within the dark recesses of streets, none made itself known to the teens and soon enough, all too soon, they were at their door. Tykir paused, not taking his hand from hers where they were linked. A street lamp provided illumination along the walkway as well as the lantern that had been lit for her return outside the door. For just a moment, his attention touched on the windows, remembering the warnings from earlier made in jest about her kin. "Would you mind, Molly, if I dared a kiss goodnight?" His smile twitched at one corner of his mouth. "Er...good morning?"


Funny, she didn't feel the least bit worried about any danger or being stalked. She was surprised at how fast the walk seemed to go, and when he paused, she looked up at him in a dreamy way. It was a combination of things perhaps. She watched as he looked at the windows then their eyes met again and she smiled. "I wouldn't mind at all, Tykir. I would have been a little disappointed if you didn't." And what would her kin really say except to tease her a little. No doubt one of them was watching. Someone always seemed to know where she was.


"Let it not be said that I ever disappoint you." With her hand still in his, he lifted it and pressed his lips to her knuckles. He then tucked that hand linked with his behind her back, pressing her toward him, and he dipped his head. First he kissed the tip of her nose, then her chin, and finally he kissed her mouth. There wasn't the same heat as when inspired by the dance, but the fact he enjoyed kissing her very much could not be denied. He moved his mouth over hers, testing its softness. And finally, his lips brushed against hers as he spoke. "Good night, Moll. Sleep sweet. Pleasant dreams."


In the light of the street lamp it might be hard to tell she was blushing, but Molly could feel her cheeks growing warm. She felt less like a young squire and more like a very pretty young woman then she ever had, and decided it was a nice feeling. Again their lips met and she felt that rush of blood and the pounding of her heart again. Her eyes had closed and fluttered open again with his last touch of lips. "Good night, Tykir. I hope your dreams will be as sweet as mine are sure to be." She wasn't sure she'd do well at training today, but it would be worth any extra work she had to do. "I'll see you in a few hours. I hope." The last added with a giggle. Reluctantly she moved to the door and opened it, but paused there to turn and look at him one last time. Then with a wave, she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. A curtain moved slightly in one of the upper windows as the Dark Prince moved away.

Date: 11-26-11
Poster: Vincent deBeauvais
Post # 47

Blessings

Thanksgiving had come and gone as everyone settled in for the winter weather that was sure to come. Thoughts were turned to the Yuletide that also came with the colder weather. Perhaps there had been a method to this madness having it as winter approached and the songs of snow making a perfect blessed night. Julia hummed one of those tunes that mingled with yet another as she set out a candlelight dinner for two. Yes, Julianne and Marie were off with her elder brother Aleric for the night. He wanted to know what married life with children would be like and was jumping in with both feet. Although she was sure the two would have their uncle wrapped around their baby fingers, all of three years old now. She had worried on the fact she couldn't find her knitting needles which she was going to hide off. She was sure she'd find them soon enough. Thoughts turned to her husband that was due back any moment. Blue eyes lifting to the door to their quarters within the castle in expectation as she set the plates out.


First detained by the King, and then by Cairns, Vincent had finally managed to get away and bathe in the knight's hall. Since they all kept clothing stored there, he was able to slip into clean pants but had simply tossed the shirt over his shoulder. He was going to his quarters, and the woman waiting for him there would not find it offensive if he arrived only partially clothed. Even his daughters were used to the sight of their father without a shirt, especially when Julia brought them down to the field in order to watch the Four practice. A nod of dismissal was offered to the guard outside the door to his private chambers and the man offered one in return. Although, both knew he would not be leaving his post. It was the way of the warriors and a nightly ritual between the two. Vincent entered his 'home', drawing in a deep breath with what could be a smile as he took in the aroma of dinner and the fragrance he recognized beyond as his wife. The shirt was slid from his shoulder and tossed aside and he continued in to where they would be eating. It was in the doorway he paused, a narrowing of gaze as he glanced around and didn't find two of his most treasured waiting for him there as they usually did. "Where..." His darkened gaze returned to Julia. "...are the girls?" Their absence though, for the moment, caused the Dragon's gaze to pass over his lovely wife and a brow to twitch up. Any moment the twins could come bursting into the room, but for now, there was a definite change in the atmosphere and male.


His daughters thought the hair on his chest was amusing, especially when little fingers could manage to pinch just one hair to tug at a time. Now Julia, on the other hand, became very distracted when her husband was half clothed around her. She fumbled with words, she fumbled with things in her hands for her hands wanted to run through that very mat of hair their daughters would rather pluck. Although expecting him, the plate in her hand nearly slipped from her fingers upon the virile sight he made. A hungry gaze ran down from his in fact to rove over that very chest and just that quick dip lower before shooting back up. She was tongue-tied a moment, "they are camping out with Aleric," spoken in a distracted way as she set the plate to the table before it was dropped. Hair had been pinned up in aesthetic waves of blond with wisps that always managed to set themselves free. These curled down along the sides of her face and neck. The lightweight gown was of an almost sheer deep wine red that should definitely distract over her still slight figure. Meal was under a cover dome of polished silver. One that consisted of succulent lobster with the hint of lemon and melted butter. Baby Brussels sprouts on the side as well double baked potatoes with bits of cheddar and bacon and more melted butter. One minute at the table, the next she was slipping into his arms as was her right. "How did practice go?" He had been a little later than usual or it was just the time passed by so slowly in waiting for him and her plan of surprise.


Four years had passed since she agreed to be his wife and still, the Dragon found it difficult to believe she was his. That she would have him, would be here for him when he returned home. He continued to her as she answered and gathered her to him as she came to him and touched a kiss on the top of her head. "With...Aleric?" He leaned back, although kept her in his arms, to look down upon her. "And yet you thought to fix us dinner?" For hungry he might be, but one hunger had instantly changed to another, which surely she could see in his gaze as it dipped to her lips, along her neck and slender shoulder and then slowly back up to her eyes. "Practice went ... long." He answered, already tilting his head and leaning down to capture her lips. His last word possibly spoken as his mouth touched hers and his hold on her tightened. With one arm, he reached behind him and wrapped his fingers around his chair. This he pulled further from the table and with Julia in the embrace of his other arm he leaned back to sit on the cushion offered to him, intending to settle his wife on his lap.


"Yes..." very long space between, "with Aleric," see and feel her distraction as a healthy pink rose to her cheeks. "He had said about watching them and I took him up on it. I wanted to spend a quiet evening with you. Alone." With the rambunctious three year olds, quiet was rare until they were asleep and looking like angels. Both were usually too tired by then to have enough hours alone before they slept. Whatever else she was going to say was lost in the kiss. So lost she didn't even notice the knitting needles about to greet his derriere.


No sooner had he touched down, then he was back up, the kiss and the moment broken by a sharp intake of breath and a curse for the release of it. Vincent still had Julia in his embrace but he twisted to look around to his seat. "Dammit, Julia, as if I do not have to face enough attempts in the day to skewer my ass, I come home to yet another?" He released his hold of one arm to snatch up the knitting she had obviously left by accident on his chair. "I would have rather had you in my lap by now, Wi..." His title of Wife failed to finish from his lips as he shook the knitting in front of her and then realized what she was knitting. A dark brow furrowed and he looked from the craft to the woman. "You are working on your holiday gifts?" He was almost afraid to breathe out those words...for then he would have to wait for her answer.


Actually, she had not left it on the chair, it was found and placed there by Marie being when she was done looking at it, it was a good height for her to reach. "So your daughter is your undoing.." off handed as that pink upon her cheeks was getting to a darker hue. Now she knew what the questions meant her little daughter had been asking her about fuzzy thread. "This one," her hand coming to rest over his as she spoke, "is for us.." Her expression guileless as she watched his face for the reaction.


Would it be like Vincent to reveal anything by way of expression? He held her gaze as the silent moments passed, and only because she knew him better than most, she might notice the faintest twitch of his lips, the softening of his gaze as he looked to her. In an instant, the knitting was tossed aside, the needles tinging against the covers which protected the food. He scooped her up in his arms and actually spun her once as his mouth found hers again, kissing her deep with the motion of their bodies and releasing that kiss as the single spin stopped. "One hellova way to tell me, Julia." For emphasis, he popped her backside to indicate his own as he lowered her back to solid footing.


She usually had a hellova a way about everything. Right from the start with cutting her hair those many years ago and he going in search of her. The kiss was met with the same kind of fierce fire before her laughter was allowed its freedom with the pat to her rump. The swirl had her just as giddy from the release of worry on how he would react. Of course logic told her how he would react but hormones had a tendency to play havoc with reason. "Perhaps you will have a son, Sir Vincent deBeauvais, and what would you want to name him?" She slipped away long enough to collect the bit of a bootie and set it to a much safer place on the mantel. She wasn't gone long from his side.


He was loathe to release her and kept his arm extended until she returned to him. "I will name him de Beauvais, but if a girl .. I shall see her named a beauty just as my other three beautiful ladies." His daughters had proved to him that he cared not whether a son or daughter for his heart could not swell more with pride or devotion. "When do you think the babe will come, Julia?"


"de Beauvais deBeauvais, is that not a little repetitive?" Teasing him as she curled her index finger into the mat of chest hair once back in his arms. Blue eyes had traveled there. His compliment had not gone missed, he could tell by the rising color to her cheeks again. What had cooled down hadn't last long with him around. His words, his looks, his touch and helluva of a kisser too. "When summer has come and the daylilies bloom."


Then Lily it would be. Here she was making a jest when he was waxing emotional, she knew how to snatch him back to who he was supposed to be with her. The color in her cheeks, the way her eyes sparkled when her fingers worked their magic against his skin. His gaze drifted from her features down to her finger. "M'Lady wife, do you wish for dinner to get cold beneath those covers? For surely, this news and the way you look at me, the touch you tease me with, will definitely see it so." That intense gaze dragged upward to meet hers. This was not really a question. For the food would wait. He wanted his wife against him, her soft skin, her unclothed scent, her body pressed beneath his.


That sparkle was quickly ignited into a flame, a flame he knew would kindle a fire to match his once under other covers or not even under them at all. "Let us eat then we shall see about other covers..." trailing off with the thought before stepping away to lift the dome off the first plate that she would serve him. Luckily her mother had taught her to cook before her untimely demise. "I hope you enjoy what I've prepared," although she knew there should be no reason he would not. His plate was heaped with just the right amount too. She would be sitting adjacent to his seat for she preferred to keep the closeness over protocol that had the wife sitting across from her husband or the fact two little ones sat either side of them on the norm.


He grunted out his response, although the aroma of the food was tempting, his wife proved much more so. But she moved away from him to prepare the table for dining and he turned to watch her. The heated gaze passing over her figure as if he could do so with his hands. He drew in a deep breath, shook his head once to settle his thoughts, then crossed to his chair. He caught her around the waist in passing though, pulling her down on his lap where he wanted her moments before. She would not be sitting across from him, or adjacent to him, not tonight. Tonight, he pinched off a piece of the shellfish and eased it through the melted butter, bringing it up to her lips. The lobster touched lightly against the soft swell and he smoothed it over before dipping the bite within for her to suck from his fingers. His gaze never left her lips, mesmerized by the process.


It was all his and he knew how she felt beneath him. How she moved to meet all his moves. She could feel his eyes upon as she was trying her best to concentrate on her task but soon she was in his lap. Her plate dragged the short distance and released within reach. She had just the right movement there in his lap to settle that might not have him settling at all but there was the meal to see to first and sweet torture was not something the deBeauvais would shrink away from. Not shrink at all. The bit of lobster was a sweet treat as the fullness of her lips curved over his fingers to get every bit. The part that linger was much more than the tasty morsel however. As he had fed her from his plate, she slipped a morsel of the same from hers to be offered in exchange. What was his was hers, what was hers was his.


Gaze to gaze, his mouth closed over her fingers, sucking the butter-slicked meat from her butter-slicked fingertips. The sensation of her tongue over his fingers and hers against his tongue built a deep moan in his throat which he swallowed down with the food and leaned in, their lips touching a moment, slippery to slippery, then he passed his tongue along the bottom one to taste the butter before he relaxed back. Just a flicker of a gaze as he took up his fork and scooped up a bite of the potatoes, cupping his other hand beneath as he brought it to her mouth.


That particular moan brought a shiver to slide up her spine for it happened other times with a certain result. The touch of their lips, the taste of lobster, lemon and butter to linger to tantalize them both. It was getting warm in here and it was not the warmth of the food which managed to stay warm long enough under those domes. As the next morsel was offered, she had plucked a buttery Brussels sprout to offer his way. This method of eating might not last long at all as another appetite grew stronger.


The fork eased into her mouth, his own opening to welcome her offering. His free hand lowered to her wrist and he held her fingers between his mouth, caressing the tips with his tongue. Suckling, drawing them out slowly with his guidance until he kissed the tips. "Wife, I can eat no more at the moment." She was on his lap, there was no hiding the fact that this particular means of consuming the meal was at an almost desperate end.


His words brought a shudder for certainly the sweet torture had gone on long enough. "I can eat no more.." sounding repetitive but she was agreeing and certainly the flush to her skin would be his gauge to just how ready she was. The meal could be eaten later for passion was taking priority. So a little greasy butter if any left upon her fingertips would slide into his hair either side of his face before she was giving him the kind of kiss he'd not forget for some time. Passion flared, no more words of need were needed.


de Beauvais was never a man of words and his head tilted back to accept that kiss. His fingers worked through her hair, loosening it from its bindings, freeing it to his touch. He never forgot Julia's kiss. From the first one, the taste of her, the feel of her, the imprint of her lips on his had always been with him. He murmured a release of breath which spoke of his devotion to her. "A'maelamin." He sighed in a hoarse, passion-laden tone.


His word of endearment caressed as much as their lips were, having her heart swell all the more for him. "Mein Liebe..." was her soft reply. The rest of the night was theirs.

-e-

Date: 01-09-12
Poster: Athalia Edan
Post # 48

(Continued from Other Lands Folder)

It had been a while since Lia had anything to write in her diary beyond the normal day to day events. She had been busy with work, delivering babies when her mother could not and making the jewelry that she was becoming known for. They were special gifts and she had come to know Shiloh Frasier, wife of Daniel Frasier, in her search for the right stones and gems. She didn't travel often to Falkirk but when there was a need, she knew the singer would find just what she wanted. It was Yule and the celebration was still going on beyond the vardo but Lia had needed to withdraw from the noise and laughter.

It wasn't that she didn't enjoy the celebration but that she just needed a few moments to herself. As she stepped inside, she chuckled seeing the large cat that shared her wagon sprawled in front of the small stove. "It is chilly tonight, isn't it." Tabby purred in answer and when Lia stood from petting him, she saw her diary on the table. Likely the cat had been exploring the shelves again and knocked it down. She lowered the plank that served as her desk from the wall, securing the chains and looked out the window. Tabby was sitting with her dog, Neige, no longer a pup, but grown full size, on the bed. They were looking out another window, watching the dancing. Paris had changed both Ger and herself in ways she had yet to understand but they were good ways. She lit the lantern and brought it, and a bottle of ink and a quill to the desk and sat down. Her last entry was about the difficult birth of a child only last week and she sighed and began to write.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dear diary, I find myself at a loss today. The routine I've settled into is becoming too familiar and I long for something more. Dr. Barrington has been extremely busy and finally took a badly needed visit to his family. Ger is not painting as much as he should be and I understand why. Though our vardos have always been comfortable homes, I believe we need a larger space to live. Ger to paint and myself to give my dear Neige and Tabby room. I have decided to contact either Laird McDonough or Laird MacShire and see if I can look for such a place. I want to surprise Ger so it must be on the sly.

I saw Rhett not too long ago. He is still sweet and as cute as ever and I suppose I'm no longer angry or hurt. I doubt if he realized how I felt now that I look back on it. But perhaps it's for the best. I know I'm not ready to settle into a relationship until I find the right path for myself. And that will take time.

I suppose what has me in this mood is the letter I received this week. Chrestien wrote to me, apologizing for not writing sooner. It seemed he finally joined in the fighting, just before the English and French negotiated a tentative peace treaty. He says there is still fighting in France and that Paris, beautiful Paris, has suffered. The streets are filled with homeless, hungry people and he and his family have decided to remain in the south on their estate. Their home in Paris was set on fire and there is little left. He had also been badly injured, and cannot walk without a limp. He teased me and said had I been there he was sure he would have been completely healed. But what worries me is the Duchess. The loss of the home she had with her beloved husband has affected her greatly and Chrestien says she stares out of a window all day. He is certain a letter for me would make her smile. So, tomorrow I will write to her and have Ger make a sketch of me and my pets in front of the vardo. I'm also going to find out if I can ship a live fir tree to her to replace the one at her estate. When I go to mail it, I'll speak to Alex and ask which of the two nobles I should speak to. Perhaps, before the new year is very old, Ger and I will have a new home to work from. Until again,

Lia

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


When she finished, she sprinkled sand on the page to help the ink dry. Outside it had begun to snow again and she heard her brothers calling to her. Adol even threw a snowball against the window, causing Neige to jump up and bark. Tabby jumped up and scolded the dog loudly, causing Lia to laugh. "Come on, Neige, we'll get them for that." She dressed and together they went outside to enjoy the rest of the celebration.

~tbc~

Date: 01-10-12
Poster: Trevor Carins
Post # 49

Persistent Admirer

The holidays were over and a calm seemed to settle over the lands. A good kind but Trevor knew such usually herald a time of unrest. He could hope that any hurricane to come would be mild considering all bad scenarios. A land that has known peace for decades could find itself in the thralls of war on any given level. Such blackened thoughts took him by surprise and soon dashed them away with a mumbling comment not to be repeated nor recognized by those meandering about the knight's hall. It still didn't alleviate the dread he suddenly felt. Something was going to happen of which he had no clue to any particulars. Yet. Such were his thoughts and he could excuse them for the long hours of grueling practice on a much colder king's field. Although the weather had little effect on any of the four horsemen and a few others of the land, it had them working the lads harder to keep them warm for the activity.

Rhett had sent the new swords ordered and all were being tested, not one to find fault with the lad's craftsmanship. Trevor was keeping track of all the squires but there were a few that he especially kept an eye on. As were his brothers in arms doing the same and well noted. It was part of their duty and all reports were given to Karl, either on a weekly basis or daily if such signs of improvement were worthwhile. As king of the lands, Karl would always have updated information that could affect the welfare of the kingdom. He distractedly heard a clearing of a throat, one of those very squires stood there noting Trevor distraction and attempting to get his attention.

"Excuse me sir.."

Almost quietly his words came for the more outspoken but well trusted and respected squire. Alexander Solomon Muldoon had a name to live up to. So far he was making his parents and the whole of his family proud along with those who were getting to know him. It was not only that he fought like a demon once pressed into battle's testing, and not only could he could saunter across a ballroom floor like ballet performer, but the fact he kept his peers' confidence. He could be trusted on all levels. He didn't fall victim to the shortcomings of vices that most did. Alexander had all the qualities of a knight to be one day.

The familiar voice had Trevor blink up to the lad standing there in all due respect. Fingers were steeple with the tips touching against his chin. A clear sign that Sir Trevor Cairns was deep in thought. Hands were lowered as one bend of arm rested against the edge of the table. He was quick to notice the lad had something in his hands. A tube that looked damaged on one end.

"Yes, Squire Muldoon.."

Giving the lad the opportunity to state his reason for disturbing one of the Four Horsemen. Although none of them purposely had any squire, warrior, guard or of such in service of the kingdom to fear them. Still, they were approached reverently if not with hesitation.

Alexander straightened to attention and brought out the tube tucked under his arm to hold out to the kingsman. "I have not been able to locate Sir Lazare and was told that you were here at the moment in residence. So, I brought it to you if that is alright?" Clearing his throat as he quickly, efficiently, explained. "I found this in my barracks room with money and a note to deliver it to Sir Lazare or any of the other three." As he held it out, the bottom part, which had clearly gotten wet and softened the cardboard it was wrapped in, gave way; out spilled a manual and a spearte sheet of paper. Mortified, Alex looked away as to not view that which was not meant for his eyes.

Trevor was quick as the contents spilled and quickly overturned them so that no one wandering about would see. He had seen all in that split second but that was where he differed from the common man. "It is not your fault. You've seen to the request given you, if you would please leave that letter with me as well. You may return to your duties, Squire Muldoon." Being polite but not really a question as in more expected that he leave his note as well; which the young squire set on the table. He waited for the lad to take his leave before turning over the manual. Something Lazare would probably like being a history of the throwing knife. The other sheet of paper was already captured by a photographic memory. A poem. Another bit added to the growing mystery upon Lazare secret admirer.

Trevor sat back with expectation as dark eyes trained on the door that led into the Knight's Hall.


Admiring You From Afar
I wait for the rare moments
I can see your handsome face
It fills my empty spirit
With wondrous life and grace

As I watch, and you unknowing
I admire you dearly from afar
I can see your face shining
Underneath the northern star

In a great majestic palace
Of 'forever' do I wait
And not once feeling callous
To the outcome of my fate

Forever will I want you
And forever you will you be
A memory of something true
That wasnít meant for me

Iíll see you standing there
And want you standing here
But always admiring from afar
And never very near
(adapted from a poem by Rebecca L Waters:
"Loving you from Afar")

The manual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife_throwing

 

Date: 01-14-12
Poster: Lazare Carno
Post # 50

The Mystery Deepens

Dana had been out of the city, seeing to some business for the King (if that's all right), and was only now returning. He was hungry but
not overly so, nor tired. It was a day that was satisfactory in what he had accomplished and he was looking forward to a meal and the usual company that one found in the knight's hall. If it were one or all of his companions, so much the better. He spotted Trevor as he stepped into the hall and headed for the younger man, a smile on his face.

Not unlike the first of his comrades to arrive, Vincent had taken the time to bathe following the training field, but instead of seeking out his family, had taken refuge in the hall. His mood had soured by the fourth round of the squires unable to cling to their weapons in the cold, or stumbling over numbed legs due to the same. Even the more seasoned of warriors had not been pleased with the chill that burrowed through steel, cloth, skin and bone. de Beauvais had encouraged that they train all the harder to compensate, which had not set well with most even if none spoke of their displeasure. What did they think? A battle would wait until the tulips bloomed and the birds twittered about, draping their pates in wildflowers? What the hell? It was best he let his ire settle before seeking out the more pleasant company of his ladyloves. He strode into the knight's hall, his head dipped in thought, a muttering rampage on his tongue, before the realization that he was aware of who already waited within took hold. When it did, he practically came to a skidding stop. A grunted out sound that could be a laugh, he shook his head, then lifted a hand. "Life is a conscious continuity..." He began as his steps did the same once again, eating the distance between him and his comrades.


The ring gave them away long before they stepped foot in the knight's hall. He didn't need to glance to his finger to know the blue glow of the stone for it was felt instead. Trevor was sitting back in his chair at this point with the manual and papers set on the table before him aside his notebook and the damaged tube. Only the manual faced up with the love poem face down across part of it. A smile twitched as he looked beyond Dana and Vincent a moment in expectation of the fourth.. "within the movement of change," although he didn't get up as he indicated the empty seats at his table. "Please join me." His hand coming to rest near the delivered gift, "have you news to tell Vincent?" He had said something to him a month ago he might not remember ... or he might. But the feel Vincent had news prevailed.


"Within the movement of change," was said as an echo to Trevor and Dana laughed. He slid into one of the chairs and motioned to the serving maid to order dinner. Then looked at Vincent, motioning for the girl to wait and see if the Dragon also wished to order, though for a moment, he looked at the gift on the package and back to Trevor. Curious, yes.


"Nothing you don't already know." Vincent replied, a quirk to one corner of his lips. "My wife is once again with child." He offered a dip of head to the Earth then slanted a narrowing gaze on the object before him. "Now that's interesting." He took up a seat near his brothers-in-arm and with a flick of wrist, motioned to that which rested before Trevor. "More lists of squires with potential?" Although this particular King's Man could pick up a bit more from the parchment. Energy lingered for quite some time, especially in porous material, and from what oozed from in front of Trevor, the Dragon could only hope had nothing to do with squires.


"Indeed, for it was a pregnant thought. Congratulations to you both." He didn't chuckle but he easily could have for the spark in dark eyes as a hand came to rest on the ledger he kept. "Aye, within these pages but.." slight dip of his head to what now held both of their curiosity he answered with a question, "a cold breeze rolls down from the north, have either of you met up with our winded friend?" His presence could be felt but that didn't necessarily mean it would have his feet follow in the steps of his brothers in arms. The question, being they should both know him fairly well, connected with the very articles resting on the table in question.


"Congratulations, de Beauvais." He smiled easily at the man then looked back toward the package. "Not I. I just have returned from Luneburg and have not stopped to seek anyone out after I spoke to the King. Is it for him again?" He reached out to touch a finger to the package, then leaned back. "More mystery?"


"Ahhh, a good mystery, always brings the blood to soar and the mind to race." Without a doubt, where three were gathered, so would come the fourth. Especially when there was food to be had. Come on! Was there any doubt? The words were spoken and Lazare blew on in. Well, more of a stroll with a light-hearted attitude and free-and-easy spirit so completely at odds with the Dragon, it was no wonder the two had been selected. One to buffer the other and compliment the whole when it came to the Four of them. Since Vincent hadn't requested any food, the lass had turned to see to the other orders but was stopped with a ... "Hey. Hey. Heyheyhey...I do apologize but I've regretfully forgotten your name. Do forgive me that slight. It truly has nothing to do with your excellent service or your beauty, but all to do with the aging of the gray matter that is scrambled daily upon yonder fields. But, whatever you are bringing forth for these two?" He used a forefinger to ping the air in the direction of Trevor and Dana and Trevor and Dana. "Bring for me as well...both...for me. Yes? I do thank you." He hadn't waited for her nod, but he knew she would agree and that she would provide so he just claimed a chair in wait, looking from one man to the other and then again all the way around before his brows lifted with question. "I've ... missed something."

Vincent snorted out a grunt of amusement. "That's putting it mildly and leaves quite a bit to discussion." But he added no more, stretching his legs out under the table as he settled into the comfort of that chair.


Trevor finally laughed, "indeed Lazare," as he turned over that top page that had rested face down. His name on the damaged tube that had fallen apart. "Something for you from.. who knows.." He knew both Dana and Vincent would read it before Lazare could snatch it up, let alone read it himself. "Another courier.."


A poem... a poem?! Dana had leaned forward and yes, skimmed over it, a brow lifting. "This grows more and more interesting. And it seems you have more then just an admirer but one who is infatuated with you, Lazare. " He looked up at his comrades, finally settling on Lazare. "I find myself looking forward to whatever you receive next." Hopefully it was that, and not someone seeking to draw Lazare in and then destroy him.


Trevor muttered under his breath, "god help the lad if one such wrote that." Certainly the content was more suited a female towards a male.


As Dana leaned in, so did Lazare and he trailed his gaze over the phrases that were, actually, very well written. "Too bad she feels the need to be kept afar, eh?" He leaned back in his chair, grinning all around, then on second though, sat back up and collected the poem, folding it gently to place in his chest pocket. Yes he said 'she', thank you very the heck much Trevor! Their food arrived just then so Lazare, still smiling, looked up at the lass. "So remind me again, Miss...what is your name?" Vincent hadn't even attempted to sit forward or to read the thing, hearing the comments all around was enough for him. That and the color of aramanth and fuscia that swirled within its weave was plenty enough to keep the Dragon rooted in his chair. Silent.


Trevor had taken out his pipe which he carefully packed with the cherry tobacco. The lass was back and if she got to see anything, hear anything.. anything at all, "not a word Lisa." The tone was all the warning she would need. A match was struck and cupped over the bowl as the tobacco was lit. He was taking his time again as the spent match was flicked away into an ashtray. He leaned back slowly surveying his comrades as fingers steepled where his hands rested against his midsection. "Shall we become Sherlock Holmes and see if we can make light of this mystery or at least where to start?" Spoken around the pipe clenched between his teeth. Instead of waiting for a reply he continued, "if it is a lass, hence such a poem," giving Lazare the grace that it would be, "there must be a reason as to why she would hide her identity.." letting it start there.


"Well, that will be up to Lazare. So, tell us, mon ami," deliberately using French of course, "what would you like... to solve this mystery or to keep it going and see if your admirer wishes to come forward in time?" That could go on and on and on.


Lisa it was then. He nodded politely to Lisa, Lisa, he had to remember that name, Lazare then looked at his brothers. "I wish not to cause any discomfort on her part. Leave this be. Perhaps it is but a passing fancy, regardless of ... " He pointedly looked at Trevor before continuing. "Who it may be."

de Beauvais nodded once, coming to his feet. "Guess that settles that." It was good he came here prior to seeking out his wife for many reasons now. He was in a much better mood, and the remains of whatever filtered from that page as it was rustled about had an affect on at least one of the Four. "Enjoy your meal, I mean to go and enjoy ... " He actually smiled, although it was faint, secretive, and hidden quickly. "...mine."


"Oh," as if he had forgotten, "the tube was left in Squire Muldoon's room in the barracks with a note and money asking him to deliver it. Which means the one had access to the barracks without notice and knew of Squire Muldoon being an upstanding individual that would see to the delivery without question." As in opening it up as he added, "the bottom dropped off here at this table." Which couldn't have been timed more perfect. He paused then as Vincent was making his leave for far better reasons then they had, "extend my congratulations to Julia and the girls." Who would have a new sister or brother in a few months.


"Congratulations?" Once again, Lazare was out of the loop of information, but then, did he ever really need to be within it? His brothers kept him informed when it was necessary and so, he could eat, drink and make merry, and when came time to be otherwise, he could count on them.


He stopped for a moment, pausing to swallow what he had been chewing, then nodded at Vincent. "Give our regards to your lovely ladies." From there he looked to Lazare and grinned. "Yes, it seems Julia is going to make Vincent a father again." Who would have believed that Vincent de Beauvais would have settled to such a contented life?


Not even de Beauvais would have ever believed it to be possible, but it was so. He thanked his comrades with a dip of head and shoulders in their direction.

Lazare slapped a hand to the side of his leg. "And here we were talking about this when there was celebrating to be done. Grand news, Vincent. Damn exciting news. I'll be above later to give my congratulations to your lovely family myself." And even as he spoke the words, he was all but splitting his face in two with that grin.

Vincent's departure halted and he looked around his arm to Lazare. "Don't."

"But Vincent!"

"I'll pass it on."

"But to be done in person." Lazare slid his gaze to Dana, still smiling.

"My wife will be otherwise disposed, Carno. If you come upstairs, they will be carrying you back down."

"Kill joy."

Vincent grunted. "More like Kill Carno...so don't friggin' forget it." And the Dragon continued on his way.

"He is such a dark cloud on our chilled but pleasant day." Carno laughed, lowering to his seat again. "So, de Vimeure, hand me that other thing and let me see...." He was still chuckling after Vincent as he made his request, pulling his plate closer to start eating as well.


"You know just how far to push." He was laughing too, shaking his head before the tube was handed over. "Are you not the least bit curious as to who is behind all this?" Dana certainly would be... was, in fact but then again, he didn't hide the fact he was. Of course, the food was a perfect distraction, even while Lazare opened the contents.


Chewing his first bite, he collected and studied the manual. "Of course I'm curious. Beyond measure. But surely, if I was meant to know the identity of the kind soul then it would be revealed to me. Obviously, she wishes not to be known, aye? No matter how curious I am or how I would prefer to be able to thank her for her kind thoughts and gifts."


"True." He motioned toward the gift with his fork. "Or perhaps each part is a clue, to make you work at finding her." Now that was a more romantic notion in the Frenchman's mind. "The poem would have hints in it perhaps?"


"Leave it to a Frenchie to place more in it than what may needs be." He laughed, fishing out the poem and, placing it on the table, used two of his fingertips to slide it over to Dana. "Feel free to delve within the words, and see what you find. I wouldn't work that hard, even for a meal."


For a change, Trevor was listening, soaking in that rapport they all shared. Different and yet the same. He set his pipe to the ashtray as it was fairly spent and lifted a glass of whiskey in a silent toast. To exactly who or what it covered would be left unsaid. The good news, the bantering and just such a good night. For the first time, Dana and Lazare had buddied up against the Dragon. At least some of which he suggested took hold as Dana offered another perspective, a lass setting forth a challenge for their winded, food loving, comrade. "I think if a lass is that smart, she might just catch our Wind and sail away with him.." in short, like Vincent fell to the charm of Julia, Lazare could succumb as well. "Of course he might not even notice the hole he fell into until he hit the bottom.." laughing then that was more shared in amusement.


Lazare laughed along with Trevor, since he did not think it possible. "Good God man, did you not taste her cooking? I would follow her anywhere, willingly!" Still laughing, he leaned forward, placing the manual aside, to get down to the business of his meal.


"You would only work that hard if ordered." Dana retorted with a laugh, then studied the poem as he continued his meal. He tapped the part about afar. "She lives away but sees you? A scryer perhaps? Witch?" He was teasing Lazare but it could well be.


"If that were the case," if they were to take the remark made in jest seriously, "we could find out all such in these lands through Andrew." Wouldn't that be something as he threw in without missing a beat, "or it could be Matilda Dannon from the docks.." woman who had food pressed between her breasts so he was told.


With that, Lazare shoved his plate away for the show of it. "Matilda? Dammitall, Trevor, you just made me lose my appetite. And you'll go to hell for that, waste is a sin." He brought up his napkin and swiped at his face. "I'm serious, leave this woman alone. She will reveal herself in time, as she is comfortable, or she will not, which will also be for her comfort. Besides, if Matilda could cook like that, she would already have herself a husband so I doubt it is her. Her talents must lie in other areas, since we all possess them." Where, he would not speculate, it was not for him to find out.


That had him lose it as he finally burst out into laughter, deep rooted and fully capable of it. Something that was rare but rang through the knights hall in a pleasant way. Had a few turn or stand up a moment and take notice. "We have not pursued this lady, only brought forth the mystery of it and if it can even be resolved."


Lazare wagged a finger at Trevor. "You brought up Andrew, that makes it serious and I say nay, my beloved brother. Leave the female be."


"Only if she is a witch or seer of some sort weaving a spell upon you.." brows lifting as he kept from laughing and looking very serious.


"Mon Dieu, Trevor." He laughed and pushed the paper back to Lazare. "As you wish, Carno. We will wait and see what happens next." It went without saying though if things took a bad turn, they would seek out the writer of the poem. He finished his meal and sat back in his chair. He didn't need to repeat it though. Trevor had made that very clear.


Trevor considered this one of those good nights, better than the average as he rose. "I will see you both on the Kings field come dawn." He slid the ledger with all his notes their way. "If either of you or both would like to look this over, I can get it back from you come tomorrow." They might find some of the information interesting. Leaving it with them, he took his leave. Perhaps Dana and Lazare would share a few laughs together for a change before they headed for bed.

-tbc-

Date: 02-24-12
Poster: Tykir Riktafir
Post # 51

It was early afternoon, the training for the day over and the lasses training for the Order of Athena allowed some free time. Molly had approached Princess Noirin, and waited for her attention. She was shy with the Crown Princess, but the warmth of Noirin's smile, made her less so. A quiet conversation followed, and Molly nearly ran to her room, a grin on her face. She had been given permission to seek out a certain Prince of the realm. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Noirin smiling before she turned and finished that run. She had to change into something nicer!

A certain prince of the realm was actually stretched out on the large, comfortable couch of the sitting room in the family wing of the castle. He should have been reading. He had the book opened and laying on his chest, an arm uplifted and tucked under the back of his head and his face was turned to the window. The prince wasn't studying anything at the moment except the soft, floating flakes of white that drifted on the breeze on the other side of that window. If he was devoted to his studies, he would have gotten up, jerked that sash loose and let the heavy curtains fall together to thwart that distraction. But, at the moment, he wasn't. Winter always seemed to put a damper on ... things.


It didn't take her long to clean up, put on new britches and a blouse of pale blue, with ruffles at the wrist. Her long hair was pulled back instead of in the usual braids. She had to ask several guards where he might be and finally had to ask one to please tell the Prince that Molly was here to see him. And that was exactly what the guard did, much to her delight. Of course, she had to sit in a chair and try to wait patiently. But wait she did. Even if she was very anxious under it all. What if he didn't want to see her? What if he wasn't allowed? What if... what if... what if?


And the conversation went like this when the guard entered the room: "Your Highness, Miss Molly Tremaine is here to..." Tykir leapt from his lounging state, the book sailing off to the side and him already rushing past the guard before he slid to a halt. He turned back to the guard. "Where?" "The Lady is here to see you and awaits ..." Tykir rolled his hands to hurry the man. "Where is she?" The guard attempted to continue but Tykir's eagerness had the man stammering. "It is okay, forget it!" Tykir had already spun and raced out the door, calling back to the man. "I'll find her!" The dark prince knew there were only a few places guests would be delivered to wait royal company. She would be in one of .... a squeak of soles on polished floors pulled him to a stop when he almost passed the very room he caught a glimpse of her in. He sucked in a quick breath to calm himself, slicked his hand over his hair, as if that would do anything, and then walked on in. All dignified, except for the biggest grin EVER! "Molly, how'd you get away?" Tell me you snuck away just to see me. Risked your place within the Order to seek me out. Geeze! Don't tell me that! Some things are not worth risking! Do...do...do tell me that! Wait, no...it's just really good to see you!
*

She heard someone moving quickly, and looked up but no one had stopped. Looking down, she watched her feet swinging forward and back and forward, until she heard steps again and there was Tykir! She grinned right back at him as she stood. And it took all she could not to just run and tackle him. "I asked Princess Noirin. She was there watching us today and I told her I really wanted to see you. She smiled at me and leaned forward and whispered, that of course I could. And here I am." She giggled and stepped a little closer. "Is it all right that I came?" Of course it was. Just look at the grin and what would she had done if Noirin said no... she still would have came., somehow.


Was it all right she came? Tykir blinked, searching her features as he did, his mouth opening and closing with possible responses and nothing coming. Instead he just ate up those few steps that separated them and snatched her up in a hug. "I've missed you." He finally managed to get out over his tied tongue and then bent his head to touch a kiss to her forehead. "I know I see you, out training, but I don't see ... well ... it isn't a matter of seeing actually as much as...it's just not the same as... shoot..." He muttered at the end, smiling down to her still. "I've missed you." He repeated, because, in the end, it really was the gist of it.


He couldn't have done anything better then hug her. She hugged him tightly, keeping her arms around his waist when she tipped her head back for the kiss to her forehead. "I know it's not, and I keep thinking how we can see each other in other places." She gave him a winsome smile. "I miss you too, Tykir." She missed their adventures and time alone and ... sometimes if she wondered if it was all worth it if she had to miss him like this! So confusing. And so amazing. She had never felt like this.


Not confusing. She was where she should be, training under the Order and, at the moment, in his arms. There was a gasp, then a rattle of china on silver, which had Tykir turning with Molly in his hold to glance toward the door. A young maid had come in to bring refreshments for the guest only to find her wrapped in the Prince of Heathfield's embrace. Tykir's smile didn't falter, looking back down to Molly then around to the maid. At times, Tykir would like to forget his station in life. However, like now, he was reminded at the most inopportune times. "Thank you, Evie. If you'll just place them over on that side table. I'll see to our guest. You need not stay." The poor girl's hands shook as she placed the setting on the table, bobbed off a quick, uncomfortable curtsy and then hurried out. Reluctantly, the dark prince loosened his hold on Molly. "It's probably hot cider, or tea...would you like some?" He knew what he wanted, but that sure wouldn't have been delivered to the lady waiting.


Molly let out a soft squeak, then giggle as she was turned. She felt sorry for the poor maid and wasn't sure why. But then Tykir was speaking again and she turned back to him just as he let her go. She did the same, reluctantly. "Yes, please." She answered, then laughed. "Then we can stop being so formal. Unless someone comes in?" Maybe, in a little while, she'd suggest they escape the castle. Or find a more private place, but here, she'd behave.


Tykir remained close, even after she admitted she'd like whatever was in that pot. "You are in a formal setting, Molly. This...is my life." His gaze lifted from her and searched around the room as if that was as good as pointing out their surroundings. Molly was training for the Order, she'd soon enough find just how formal life could get. Welcome to his world...was there any wonder why he escaped as often as he could. His hand lowered, capturing hers, and he gave it a squeeze. "How much time do you have, Moll?"


"Oh." It was going to take her time to grow used to it all, but she would likely sneak away as much as possible too, especially if she could convince someone to come with her. Or several someones! "Then, I'll learn to fit in." Things could change in the future but here they were and she intended to stay. "The rest of the day, as long as I'm back on the field tomorrow morning." Just like the boys and knights and everyone else who had to be on the field come morning. "And the day after tomorrow, the afternoon. Tomorrow she would visit her family.


"Soooo..." Tykir's voice had lowered, his smile actually twinkling in his eyes. "You have until tomorrow morning?" He turned to glance toward the door, then with a gentle tug, urged Molly to follow him. Knowing she would. Excited because of it. The room was paneled in white and thick, wide strips of decorated wood boxed off sections of the walls to create a comfortable setting. Tykir led them over to one of the wood dividers and pressed two fingers to the center of one of the carved wooden flowers, popping open a concealed door. He shot another look to the hall entrance, then to Molly. "Would you allow me to keep you company until morning, Moll?"


She hadn't been in the castle but a few times since she had began training, and of course, never in this part of the castle, even if it was a waiting room. That look in his eyes had her smile growing wider. "Aye, I do." And of course, she followed. Ever curious, and willing to go where the Dark Prince led. She leaned to watch him, then her eyes widened in surprise. It truly was a perfect castle, right down to the secret panels. "I would love it if you would, Tykir." They never knew when they might get another chance though she wanted to make more time to see Tykir if possible.


He allowed her to move in, using his hold on her hand to guide her around him, then he reached up and closed them in with a soft click. Darkness. Complete and utter darkness. Tykir wasn't making any moves to light the lanterns yet either. He knew where she was, he was holding her hand, so he just tugged her closer, his other hand lifting to rest against the outside of her free arm. "Will you kiss me, Molly?"


Molly felt that familiar, wonderful tingle when they were completely and utterly alone. The dark didn't bother her one bit, not with Tykir there as well. She moved in closer willingly, her breath taken away by his words. "Aye, I will." Her voice was soft, though he could probably tell she was smiling. Molly had to stand on her toes to lift herself higher, while she placed her other hand against the back of his neck. She really had missed him, and she showed him how much as soon as her lips touched his, molding to them, teasing with their warmth.


He dipped his head to her, meeting her halfway, her arm lifted, his slid off and under hers, coming to rest on her back. The hand in his was twisted around behind her as well, pulling her in as close as they could be while their lips met. He had more than missed her, he had missed ... them ... and with this shared kiss, in the darkness, the privacy, the secrecy of this hidden corridor, he made up for that. Only a few steps forward for him, backwards for her, had her back to the wall. One of his palms flattened to that cool surface while the other tightened in her grasp, tucked there to the small of her back between her body and the support. His mouth moved over hers, sucking at her full bottom lip, then capturing both completely again. God, she tasted good. So good. The warmth of his tongue touched and tested along her lip. His words were no more than a breath within their union. "Let me in..." And any further words were lost in a pleased moan when she actually did.


She was more then willing, moving backward as he directed, a slight gasp escaping when she felt the coolness of the warm. The tingle that had started in her spine spread, until she could feel it all over. It was ... wonderful and undescribable, and perfect. Lips parted willingly and the sound of his moan had her giving a soft one in return, along with a shiver that moved through her. Her tongue moved against his, and around, exploring, teasing. She felt butterflies in her stomach, and oh goodness, the reaction inside made her brain go to mush.


Holyheavenlywonders, she just made his knees go weak. Good thing he was bracing his hand to the wall. Who would have ever thought it possible? Just that softest sound, that he could almost taste, shot this fantastic surge of delight through his entire body. All this wonderful, indescribably, perfect ... ness ... definitely made itself known in ways Tykir didn't exactly think Molly would appreciate. Not in the dark unknown. While his mind and body screamed to press up against her, his conscience and better judgement voiced over it, pulling his hips away just enough. Their tongues danced and played for a little longer before Tykir withdrew, pecking a kiss to her lips. He didn't need to see her...to see her. This was Molly. "I'd like for you to come with me to my rooms." He took a step to walk away, her hand still in his, but paused. "Wait, that didn't come out right. I want to share something with you." He turned, but paused again. Totally craptastic, he was messing this up royally. At least, he was keeping it royal. "Molly." His breath was released as long and steady as it had been drawn in. "Listen, I'm probably way out of line to say I really want you. I mean...want you." Good thing it was dark or else she'd see just how much he really wanted her. The difficulty level was already way out of the roof for him just telling her, better not to have the visuals. "But that's not why I want you to come to my room." Actually, that was a dang good reason, but not the initial reason! He struggled some more with his words to try to get it out. "I want you to see exactly where I live. My stuff. I mean...my things."


They could definitely get in trouble if they stayed here, but she hadn't noticed he had moved his hips away. Not as lost as she was in the kiss, his touch, the way his hair felt as she played her fingers through it. She was smiling in the dark when he moved away, and she felt the touch of his lips against hers again. She really liked being with him, and the kisses... ! She was feeling light-headed and warm and ... then she bit at her lip, trying not to giggle. Just a touch nervous but not because of what he was asking, though... she wasn't exactly sure what he was asking. Molly was sure her cheeks were turning red. And when he finally got it out, she nodded, then did laugh. He couldn't see her. "I would love to see your things." And the fact that it was his room... made it dangerous.


"Trust me then." And he led her in the dark through this corridor and then that, up stairs, another corridor, some more stairs. Once or twice he stopped, shared a kiss, then continued them on until he had to let go of her hand to open the portal to the room beyond. As the light streamed in, she'd see he was still smiling. He had been the entire time. There was nothing he enjoyed more than to have Molly with him. "We have arrived." Was it obvious how very often the dark prince had traversed these corridors? He probably used them more than the actual hallways of the castle.


She was going to get dizzy if they kept going, all the twists and turns and steps, but those kisses made up for it. And just kept warming her through and through. She made a little purring sound each time, unable to stop it -- that is, if she had wanted to. "You get around very well in there." She laughed as she turned to look where they had come in. Nothing there. And now she was looking at the room. "So I see." And she had to blink a moment with the change in light. She really was pleased that he trusted her enough to show her his things. *


As they stepped through, the room opened up...really opened up. The ceilings were extremely high, enough so a younger version of the prince could practice his flying skills, the walls well spread out. To the right his chambers branched off into a sitting area, stocked with books and chairs and his desk. To the left, the bathing and dressing chambers, a bit messy with his clothes tossed around. He wasn't expecting company, okay, and the maids obviously hadn't come through yet. His four posted bed remained unmade, the thick duvet, covers and sheets beneath tossed open on one side as if he had not moved all night and just rolled out from there. Objects of flight were everywhere. Kites. Models of birds. Pictures of winged dragons. On the large dresser was a framed portrait of a man, sketched in charcoal and beside that one, the same of his sister and then his mother. The wooden floors were polished to a glossy shine, then plush rugs littered the surface for warmth. The wide fireplace was along the wall just right of his bed to add to the warmth, a happy fire blazing within its depths. Tykir paused, noticing for the first time in his life the jumbled up mess that usually he couldn't care less about. It probably wasn't a good idea to bring Molly here. Er...yet.


The mess didn't bother Molly at all. She was too fascinated with everything from the sketches to the high ceilings to the view the windows might offer. "You have so many books and things." She darted over to one of the dragon pictures, then was over to the framed portraits. "I think, even if you hadn't shown me, I would know these are yours. You have so much room." She had a much smaller bedroom both at her home and here, at the castle, she was in the barracks with the other girls. "These are really nicely done," she motioned to the sketches then was back to hug him. "I like it all." Messy was fine. Her room at home usually was, though she kept her little area in the barracks neat. Her eyes were bright as she looked up at him.


He gathered her into his arms, smiling down to her. "But I haven't even showed you what I what I wanted to." He glanced up toward the high ceilings then back down to her. At the present moment, he couldn't think of anything better than having Molly ... here ... with him. "Give me a minute." A quick bend of knees and Tykir scooped Molly up in his arms, crossing to where his bed waited. A knee to the mattress and he leaned her to rest on the welcoming softness. Sliding his arms out from under her, he pushed up from his lean and then moved away, lighting candles all through the room. "I had a seer tell me once that I was born under the sign of the Scorpion. It's also the sign of the Phoenix." He smiled back at her and allowed his wings to flutter. "Imagine that." But continued around, lighting candles until almost all of the pillars in his room were flickering with their fiery light. "The constellations on the day of my birth were arranged so, that they could tell a lot about my future. Although, at the time, I wasn't allowed to know just what." He crossed over to the expansive windows and jerked at the heavy cords, setting the thick curtains free to fall into place before the glass and block out any light. Sometimes glancing back to her, other times walking backwards so he could watch her fully, as he circled the room releasing the material and snuffing any other illumination except the candles. With the fluttering yellow glow the only light to see, he went back to his bed and crawled in beside her, lowering to his back, one arm behind his head, the other extended to Molly. "Come look."


She let out a tiny squeak, then put her arms around Tykir's neck. Sitting up on the bed, she watched him move around the room. She grinned too, when he fluttered his wings. "I think that's amazing." She got up on her knees to watch him. "That sounds really interesting." And it was! So, not only was being a prince hard, boring, fun, etc., it could also be interesting. She was always watching him as he moved, sometimes leaning forward. Finally, when he joined her on the bed and gave the invitation, she snuggled in close, her head on his shoulder. She didn't even think where she was or what could happen. Just here and now was all that mattered.


As Molly curled up against him with her head on his shoulder, he rested his cheek to the softness of her hair. "Look up, Moll...it's the constellation on the night I was born, so that someday, I might be able to decipher it and know my destiny. If I ever wish not to be surprised." On the ceiling, way up there, lights twinkled in the darkness, whatever had been hidden in the daylight now caught the dancing glow of the candles and showed the constellations and the stars surrounding them. "The exact moment of my birth...so I'm told." His words were soft, almost reverent as he looked up at the recreation of the Scorpio night.


She liked being cuddled up tight against him in this way, though when he told her to look up, her breath caught. It was absolutely lovely, and the fact that it was connected to Tykir made it even more so. "The very moment... Do you have any idea how to go about it? Do you even want to? I think I'd be both excited and scared if I could do something like that." She was whispering as she spoke, then she sighed softly. "It's like looking at the stars outside. So very real." And much nicer when shared with someone special.


He smiled to himself, since she couldn't see him with their positioning. "I guess, maybe someday, I might see about getting them read. Then again...I'm finding it rather interesting just to let the stars guide me as they will. It will be what it will be, right? Maybe these were given to me so I could realize that just because I have the power to know, doesn't mean that I have to know." He shrugged beneath her, still looking up. With the strength and power of his family lineage, his mother, Andrew, Leoric, Gaidan, Even his younger brother, Karlton, would be rulers of lands one day...there was so much open to the rest of the siblings. Did Tykir even want any of that? Was any of that to be Tykir's? "For now, I'm content just realizing I could, if I would. Those stars are just ... Possibilities."


She never stopped studying those twinkling lights above them, smiling when she heard his answer. It was something she'd expect him to say. "Yes, though some say it's possible to change your destiny. I don't know if that's true or not but I think I'd do it your way." She grinned in the darkness. "Aye, possibilities are always more fun to think about then knowing your life is plotted for you." And to be a prince and heir, meant just that, though at least the King and Queen were content to let their family chose to follow their hearts instead of arranging who they'd be with. And Tykir had so many paths to pick.


"And it is all about fun for now, isn't it, Moll?" The slightest tilt of his head allowed him to breathe in the scent of her hair some more, that natural fragrance that was so Molly. "Thing is, here we are, in my candle lit bedroom, you're on my bed, heck, under star light in fact ... what fun could we ... possibly ... find here?" Had he ever stared up at those stars and wondered who else was in them for him? With him? Had he ever allowed his gaze to search, late at night, and imagine if those stars
held any one in particular? Could the dark prince be so fanciful as all that?

"Aye, for now, until we have to settle into adulthood and all that comes with it." She wrinkled her nose in the dark. "I think it should still be fun, or exciting." She decided, then she thought about his question. If Tykir had, he would be like other lads wouldn't he? But Tykir was more then others, at least in Molly's opinion. "I'm sure we could figure out something." Her voice had a shy tone to it now, but he was right. Here they were, alone and ... she took a deep breath and made a decision. Instead of being shy, she sat up, then turned so she was facing him. Without a word, she leaned over, somehow managed not to bump him with her nose and she found his mouth. Was she being bold? Yes she was, but no one else was around and she wanted to kiss him again. She wondered, just briefly, if he could hear how hard her heart was pounding.


Tykir's breath locked down tight in his chest, his heart taking over the momentum in full force when Molly shifted to rise above him. And then! And then! And then she was touching her lips to his, in this candlelit room, shadows of privacy swirling around them, imagery of stars above them. He brought up his hand, sliding his fingers along her neck and lacing his fingers into her hair at the back of her head. His other hand finding the curve of her shoulder as he returned her offering. Had he hoped for this? Darn right he had. Had he planned on this? Planned in an off the wall ... or ceiling ... sort of way but more was weighing on the hope aspect, and not so much the planned and sure. Didn't matter, Molly was kissing him, and he made the most of giving her his response to that kiss. His mouth moved under hers, a slight smile at first, then he was lost in the feel of her, all serious in ways his body made the most of. The heat of her so close, the taste of her against his tongue, the scent of her skin, of their shared kiss ... ohholymoretroublethantheycouldhandle...this might not have been the best idea for the dark prince of Heathfield and the inductee to the Order of Athena.


It might not have been the best idea but here they were, and the opportunity was there ... and neither one of them were quite able to resist the temptation to kiss. Molly had never been sure what to expect, or how she would feel but every time they kissed ... wowohwow! Her body reacted in a way that warmed her up from head to toe and left a lovey gooey feeling in her stomach. She didn't realize she moaned, or moved her fingers over his shoulder. She wasn't aware of anything but Tykir. He smelled good, he felt good and she liked how his kisses made her feel.


Now, oh, that moan she may not have realized but it sent a shiver through the young man to such a degree that every muscle in his body responded and contracted and released, a wave of spasms so darn roarifiable that he almost, no, too late, no almost. Tykir bent at the waist, coming up and with his hands still on her, he twisted, lowering her to her back on one of his cushy pillows and his torso covering hers. Their lips never parted. Tykir wasn't even sure at this point if he could ever breathe without her mouth touching his. Positions changed. Of bodies, of lips, of tongues. Capturing. Conquering. Surrendering. Offering. Nibbling. Suckling. Scraping. Licking. Teasing. Tasting. Urging. Until finally, Tykir gasped, and rolled away from her, almost dove away from her, clear across the mattress and jolted to his feet, his chest heaving with the air that he forced into his lungs. "God Moll! That's just...." He started to lunge toward her again but caught himself as his hands hit the mattress, fingers digging into the thick fabric. "you are..." He let his breath loose with a groan of nothing short of desire, because, darn, she had definitely ignited that lava in the veins he had heard so much about his whole life. "Whew" He breathed again, smiling to her. "This could be..." Yeah, she knew, surely she knew without him saying the words. Because, his brain was offline...his mouth was working...but sure as shooting he couldn't form the words to express anything more than sounds and unfinished starts to statements.


All those things and more. Molly couldn't believe how she felt, almost like she was floating and that heat that built up! Then she was on her back and his body on top of hers. She was feeling floaty and ... and... oh boy! Her body was moving on its own under him. Her brain really wasn't working very well right now. And then, he jumped off the bed, leaving her breathless, her heart pounded. "Oh... I... aye... " and she couldn't do anything but watch him, eyes half closed. "Dangerous." She finally whispered, in a voice that was husky and maybe enticing. "We should... " She reached out to slide her fingers along his arm. They both need to cool down but she really, really didn't want to. Not at all. She wanted to keep feeling like this.


He couldn't help but look down to where her fingers trailed along his arm, sucking in a halting breath that didn't want to go further than the back of his throat. No. His lungs were not working at this point. Neither was his brain. He blinked a few times, then looked over to her. He was on his hands and knees facing her. It would have been so easy just to lean in and ...There was a sharp rap of knuckles on the heavy wood of door. "Prince Tykir, are you within?" Tykir shot a look to the door, then back to Molly. Okay, brainpower rejuvenated and on overload now. "Craptastic, Moll!" He hissed, flashing her the biggest smile ever before he fell to his side and rolled from the bed onto his feet. "Stay there! Be still!" He hissed, nearly tripping over his own feet as he stumbled toward the door. "It's ... " He didn't need to say more, just slipped the lock free from it's hold and cracked the door ajar ever so slightly. "Aye, I am, Sir de Beauvais. Just star gazing."


She was expecting him to kiss her again, wanting him to, even though she knew if they kept going, they could be in really big trouble. And then came the knock at the door, with a voice that was like a splash of cold water only because she knew who it was! Her eyes were wide and she nearly giggled when he grinned. Wait?! Stay there?! Be still. Ohhhhh boy! She actually put both hands to her mouth to keep herself from making a sound and that was the only movement she made while she watched Tykir answer the door. Well, except to breath and to pray.... go away, go away.


Vincent had flattened his hand against the wood of the door above Tykir's head, but he didn't press to enter. Tykir looked up to the man, all 'that's-what-I'm-doing, my-story, sticking-to-it' sort of bored blink. "Contemplating your destiny, Prince? Better consider it carefully." This time Tykir's blink was followed by an unconscious nod. "Aye, Sir. If ever I do, I do." Vincent's palm smacked on the wood twice before he lowered it. "The king wanted to talk to you, when you get the chance. And chances are, that should be soon." "Aye. Sure. Will do. Thanks." Tykir practically shut the door right in the Dragon's face. After all, it wasn't unlike the man to be able to pick up on energy beyond that which the sight provided. The sooner the door shut, the better the odds that Molly's presence wouldn't be known. But then, just the choice of the warrior's words could cause the dark prince to wonder. He spun, spine to the door, and smiled through the candlelit room toward the young woman on his bed. As if by leaning on the door it would keep anyone else out. "When you said dangerous, you weren't just kidding." He waved her over to him. "Come here, Moll, if you would. I'd like another taste of your lips before I should probably lead you out the way we came in. Unless, you wouldn't mind marching right smack down the center of the corridor with me." In the private hallways of the castle, the royal family's lodgings.


She giggled as the door closed, well, not quite then, but after Tykir started speaking. Then she slid out of the bed, trying to not get tangled in the covers and was right over. She wrapped her arms around his waist and smiled. "I'm not sure that wouldn't be dangerous either. I think my heart stopped beating when you were talking to Sir Vincent." And that was all she was going to say because she wanted to kiss him again! Sigh. And then, yes, she'd have to leave. But what a lovely night of dreams she would have.


"I don't think mine ever ceased pounding from the moment you placed your head on my shoulder, Moll." His head dipped and he allowed himself that taste again. Brief as it would have to be, it lingered as long as he dared. Their lips together, his hand lowered to capture hers, fingers lacing, and then he forced himself to relinquish, as much as his entire being howled with disagreement. "Come, Moll. Let's get you back before I forget why it is in our best interest."


She just smiled up at him, her eyes soft. She wasn't sure if she could explain how she felt though. "Okay, so it stopped after it was pounding." And then started to pound away again. Why did everything she said come out sounding silly? And then he was kissing her again, making her feel gooey inside all over again. She just about pouted but she didn't want him to feel bad. "All right. Maybe we can see each other at breakfast. Or do you have to eat with your family?" She wouldn't expect him not to! But it would be nice to see him before they got all sweaty, and could only take peeks at one another.


Peeks sufficed when all else failed. Tykir gave her hand a squeeze "We'll let the stars guide us, Moll. Even where breakfast is concerned." He smiled down to her and then led her toward the hidden doorway, pressing to pop the entrance opened and then they both slipped beyond. Yes, he left the candles burning. He'd enjoy them some more just because he could, and because they would even remind him of one certain lass, who may or may not be in them for the long term. But darn sure had to be in them...for now.

Date: 08-04-12
Poster: Liam Quinn
Post # 52

Muggy Night - Heathfield Commons

The day was hot and long, the night was not proving any better. Only relief could be found outside the warehouse. In fact many were milling about, many by the fountain, some wading in the knee deep water just to help cool down. It was not just that it was hot, it was muggy. The air thick and the sky clouded over with the threat of a thunderstorm. Nothing so far than the rumblings. The threats of a sleeping giant. Liam was leaning against the outside wall of the warehouse, there were still some within and even some practicing their boxing moves after the games and the bets earlier. The smoke from the cigarillo drifted on the air with a hint of vanilla. Something that mingled nicely with the heavier scents of flowers. Although none near him, there were many a garden the scents drifted from and hung in the air.


There was also the lake, and it was there Ciaran had been, at least for the past hour. Dark hair was still damp and plastered against his head. He had pulled on his shirt just as he entered Heathfield, though with great reluctance. All he wanted was a cold mug of ale and rain. Didn't matter if it was thundering or not. That was what he wanted.


She was one in the crowd that lingered around the fountain, but the pale haired woman draped in gossamer silk of silver tried to keep herself at a certain distance. Brilliant eyes were focused on the fountains water, and while so many waded, she gently took a knee and leaned over to trail her fingers over the water's surface. Her near-white hair was pinned up in a way that the length of pointed ears were clearly in view. So pale, that she almost seemed to shine beneath what light was offered. Sometimes, she peered up at the sky, quite aware that a threat of a storm lingered close. The electricity in the air prickled her skin, and the humidity filled her lungs, making it seem like she was stuck in a room full of steam.


He was watching those of whom he knew, everyone knew everyone of the lands at least to see. The Valdez family were out performing, entertaining and one of them was even shooting off fireworks. Probably Raul. Dark eyes were in a lazy pursuit that came to pause on one that he'd not seen before. Perhaps it was the light hair that had her stand out or the fact she was different than most about her. Attire consisted of a loose fitting, cut off sleeve, cotton shirt. Maze in hue and left open to help cool. Not that it helped much. Cut off pants and sandals on his feet. He watched discreetly before the last trail of smoke was followed by him dropping what was left and crushing it beneath a foot. He was up from his lean as there was a vendor selling cold drinks and ale that moved about in the crowd. Perhaps he would find his brother there.


Ciar was ignoring most of the crowd as he headed for the vendor. If he were back in the colonies, he'd be wearing a loincloth and little else. But, to appease both sister and ... housekeeper, he wore buckskin pants, moccasins and a very light linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His hair was pulled back at his neck. It had grown that long again. Stopping at the vendor, he ordered ale, then turned to watch the crowd while he drank.


There was something vaguely otherworldly about her. An elf, yes, but there was something different about her compared to the more common relatives that were known. She held a close regard to the sky, perhaps somehow believing she and those like her were connected somehow to the stars and the cosmos that were hidden away by a blanket of clouds. A thoughtful glint sparked eyes of star blue, and she lowered her attention to watch people scattered around the area. The person that had been watching her was noted and she offered a very small dip of her head in something of a nod. The other coming up on the vendor was noted too. She studied the pair in silence before glancing back to the water while she rose then took a few steps back.


He caught the nod and offered the same in return but as he passed closer he spoke, "a guid evening to yea lass.." dark eyes held a glint that matched the hint of a smile to linger at the corners of his mouth. Attention then shifted as he approached the vendor. "About time yea showed up. How was the fishing?" Looking to see if he had a bucket of fish with him or not before ordering an ale. The vendor was quick to see to both and certainly he was making a good profit tonight. The sky still rumbled above with the added hint of a mist accumulating. Something refreshing even if not a downpour yet.


"Too hot to fish." He answered as he lowered the mug. Ale was gone so he ordered another. "Too bluidy hot, so I swam instead." He gave his brother a half smile. "Just like we used to back home, without a stitch of clothing. And now I'm hot and sweaty again. How was your afternoon?" He had deserted the warehouse because it was too hot.


"Good evening," she replied in a soft tone to the two men. Standing straight, her hands folded in a delicate manner, slim shoulders rolling back when she paused to correct her posture. Accents were noted and she quietly wondered where the two men were born. So focused on the tumble of words through their mouths and the way they rang through the air, that she had grown silent for the moment. The watch she gave them might have been nearly unnerving; not quite a predator's stare, more like something of an owl--unblinking and steady. Her face held a neutral expression, but there was a ghost of a smile threatening to pass along her full mouth. Exhaling a breath, she turned on a heel, hands parting to grasp gossamer silk to give a bit of a lift from her feet to keep herself from tripping while she walked.


"Might head there tonight.." more mussed before he took a long needed drink of the cold ale. Something to sate the heat and quench his thirst. He realized he was being watched, no.. observed, by the one he had greeted. He sent her a quick disarming kind of smile. Only because he could. She was not from these parts but he recalled something as he asked, "are you one of the elusive Sylvan elves of the forest north of here?"


"I might go back." He chuckled then directed his gaze toward the Elven lass who spoke. "Good eve." Politely with a smile and a nod of his head before the second ale was started on, slower then the first had been.


"Not... not exactly." Hesitance could be noted in her answer. She paused to stare back over her shoulder to the man that offered the question. "Though I am familiar with them. It is believed that the very stars are behind the creation of my kind, and likewise, it is believed, after our last breath, we become one with a star. The stars are my ancestors." That was deep, no? "Or at least, that is how our story goes. We are just as elusive as the Sylvan, however."


"So you are one of those star children?" He wasn't exactly sure of the title but something close enough like that. "I be Liam and this be mae brother Ciaran," his brogue was eased from being it might be hard for her to understand him otherwise. Such were previous experiences. "Where be you from then lass? And do you have a name.." reaching for his second ale as he paid the man. "Would you like a drink?"


Liam had asked all the right questions so he just kept quiet, though he did glance around them. An old habit and one that had saved his life a few times.


"Originally? A place far from here, but I have not been there in many years. My family, and a few others, have taken to travel. A nomadic life, you could say." It seemed fitting, somehow. "And I am Minaethiel Estelwen. You may call me Mina, if you wish." It was much, much easier to remember, at least. She took another step back, offered a curtsey to the men, then with a silent smile, she turned and briskly walked away.


He cleared his throat as the lass all but ran away from them after giving her name, "maybe I do need a bath." More than likely but he didn't think he smelled that bad. In fact he lifted up an arm to take a whiff.. then repeated what he stated earlier, "maybe I do need that swim."


Ciaran watched Mina leave then he grinned at Liam. "Maybe. Or maybe she's just a bit flighty or shy." He shrugged and finished the last of his ale. "Or she didn't like our company." That was possible too. "To the lake?" He'd go back willingly.


"Aye, to the lake and a bar o' soap." Which should be in the shed there as well towels.. fishing gear, oars, just about anything needed at a lake. "Then maybe see about some o' the bars down at the docks." he as in that kind of mood.


"Sounds good to me. Haven't been down there in a while." He was always willing to find a good game or a fight or two to liven up the night. "The night is young, brother mine. Who knows what kind of fun we'll find." He clapped a hand to Liam's shoulder before starting away from the square and in the direction of the lake.

-e-

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