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Heathfield Commons

Date: 01-24-09
Poster: Rick McAndrews
Post # 1

Unusual Way to Make Friends

The commons was quieter this time of night with few wandering the shops that were still open. The sky went from dusk to dark having the lights glow from the shop spilling out over new fallen snow. Snow that was starting to fall again. At first light then heavier in swirls. Somewhere in that time rose walls of snow that stood near five feet in height with areas dug through having it look like the top of a castle fortress.

Kynan was humming to himself as he made his way toward the shop. He had been doing a bit of exploring while Treve was tending to some errands. Bundle up warmly, he resembled a small bear making it's way through the commons, though a small one, maybe too slim too. The quiet was nice, especially considering he wasn't having to look over his shoulder as he ambled along.

Rick had been watching. Waiting. Catching sight of the lad that fitted the description of the bully that had been bothering his female cousins. A barrage of snowballs came fast pace Kynan's way. One after the other in rapid fire once he was within Rick's range of throwing. He had calculated it all.

Trevet was not far behind his brother but "whoa!" He stopped in his tracks as more than the snow falling came whipping his brother's way. One of those stand there and stare in disbelief first than taking action. He was a distance behind as it were.

Had Kynan been given a chance to say anything, he would have protested being considered a bully. After all, he hadn't been here long enough to know many lasses, especially any his age. He left out a yip as he covered his face with his arms but those still stung. Turning, he ran out of range, or what he hope was out of range, nearly plowing into a building for not being able to see. Once he cleared his face, he looked around. "All rig't, yae assassin, where are yae?" He squinted toward the fortress as snow was cleared from beneath his scarf.

He came around from the barrier snow, the crock of his arm lined with snowballs, one held in a gloved hand. He was wrapped up good, scar over the bottom half of his face. Cap down to his eyebrows and the heavy woolen cloak over all including the hood up over the knitted cap. "That will teach you, Butch, to be bullying me cousins and I've nine more brothers to descend on yea if you keep it up." Mary Colleen had described the lad to him and told him of her plight along with other lasses the bully picked on. "Sissy lad picking on the girlies, will go crying home to his mommy," singsong before another snowball went flying his way.

Trevet had time to make a few snowballs while his brother moved from the onslaught. That was when a snowball went flying Rick's way followed by two more. "Who are you to be calling my brother a Bully? His name isn't Butch either." Unnoticed, he had gotten within throwing range of the one picking on his brother.

"M'name isn't Butch!" He protested, ducking from the snowball but then Treve was there, lobbing snowballs at the other. "Aye, I'm no bully." His accent had become heavier when he was taken by surprise but he had regained some control. "And if I was, my brothers would beat the tar out of me." He scooped up snow and sent it flying toward Rick as well.

Snowball splattered against a shoulder, one to miss and one to hit his cloak near his leg. That had him whipping a glance to the approaching one throwing in the other's defense. "Well, me cousin didn't say he had any friends, let alone a brother. Only that he looked like a bear, the height of the one there." Snowball in hand as he motioned to Kynan. "Seems I've mistaken yea identity laddies. Who be you?" Obviously Rick was one that was use to demanding answers, came with his position in life and he held that kind of authority. He was here alone because there was only one Bully to take care of. Probably would have to be more than five for him to call in his brothers. Mostly then for them to join in the fun.

"Aye, if he was, I'd be sending those snowballs his way." He didn't throw any more as he was slightly tossing the one held in his hand, up-down, up-down like testing its weight and with the feel it could go flying out instead of up-down at any moment. Being the tall one, which he realized the man was very tall as he had drawn closer slowly, was not throwing any more at his brother he would hold off.

He looked like a bear. That had him puffing up a bit since he'd been trying to put on some muscle lately. "I'm Kynan MacKay and that's m'brother, Trevet. We're just recently arrived in these lands to join with our family. Who be you?" It felt good to mention that they had joined their family too. He was watching Treve grow closer and just blinked at the height difference.

He noted the lad drawing closer, no shorty though he was a few inches taller than the one. A finger hooked into the scarf drawing it down. Voice had been clear even with it on for the way theirs naturally traveled. "Rick McAndrews of Ballicastle. It seems I owe your brother here an apology for a mistaken identity. I've worked with Mikhail MacKay for the fighting needed in Kildare to suppress some uprisings. He's not only one of the best warriors I'm privilege to call friend but a sharp mind when it comes to tactical warfare maneuvers. Would he be your brother or relation then?"

Leaving Kynan talking with the one, he was over to check out the fort the man had built. Going behind and up on some squared off mounds to stand where he could fire off a snowball at his brother this time.

He drew closer as well, brushing snow off still. "Aye, he's our brother. One of three older." His voice became a little more eager. "He's spoken of you some, though we're still catching up on a lot. You're ... " His words were cut off by the snowball that hit him in the chest. He closed his eyes briefly, then looked up at Rick and held up a finger. "One sec." And then he sent a snowball toward his brother, even if he was hidden by the snow walls of the fort.

Which had a good robust laugh follow as the snowball whipped by to hit Kynan, quick turn as Kynan whipped one back to see if he managed to hit his brother.

He ducked behind the square of snow from where he had throw his through the open space. It hit the edge with a spray before he ducked back where he could be seen again. "This works real well." Of course it would but he had to try it out. He raised empty hands just before jumping down and back around making his way towards brother and friend of his older brother. "I'm honored to meet you Rick McAndrews of Ballicastle." Staying to the traditions of the lands he didn't need to go to a bend of knee for the one being a Prince, high prince at that.

"I'm honored to meet you both, Trevet and Kynan MacKay. Brothers of Mikhail are as brothers to me. Just wait until you meet my nine brothers." Dimpled grin came with the last in the natural McAndrews trait. "Tell me, are you warriors like your brother or have other professions?" He glance towards the welcoming lights spilling from the Thistle. "We might consider getting warm inside," hand lifting to gesture that way, "while we continue our conversation." They had been out in the snow for a while now, especially him. "I'll just have to wait on waylaying this Butch Bully another time for me cousin."

"Nine more brothers? Here I thought having Kynan was enough." Of course he gave a snow crusted glove slight shove to his brother's shoulder. "Getting warmed up sounds like a very good idea to me." Once warmed up he would answer Rick's question on a profession. They had one, or more. He was quick to head that way as now was as good a time as any.

He wondered idly how old the lass might be but didn't ask. "Sounds like he deserves a good thrashing." He paused and grinned. "Or snowballing. Aye, getting warm does sound ... " He made an exaggerated oof sound with the push.

Nora had been in and out for most of the day, finding it difficult to stay cooped up in the Thistle for so long. She was in a new dress that she bought with some of the coin she brought with her. Light blues and yellows were the main colors and the sleeves sported small ruffles. Slinking from her mare's back, her full skirting swished around her ankles when she stepped around to hand Luna off to a stable boy. Clutching her cloak around her, she turned sharply on her heel to head for the door of the tavern.

Which had him turning, walking backwards. "If you get into a ruckus with me brother, you'll find he makes all kinds of sounds." Half dancing steps in a body language dare on his brother to try and catch him. Of course not looking where he was going he bumped into someone near the tavern, doing one of those swing-arounds looking like he might fall as he caught his balance, arm sliding around the one so they didn't fall as well.

"I do think your brother sets down dares your way, Kynan." Dimple grin was back again as he started forward as well, a hand lifting to try and flag Trevet to watch out but too late. Instead he laughed, one that traveled well. "That's what you get for showing off lad." Giving a thud to Kynan's back before his steps quickened to catch up in case the lass needed any assistance for almost being barreled over.

She didn't make it very far. She was aware of others approaching, yet not looking quite at them. By the time she was aware that someone was too close, it was too late. The collision might have been a small one, and yet it would have knocked her off her balance had he not caught her. She gasped quite audibly. "My pardons, Sir, I did not see you there!" Stammered out quickly as she regained her balance and took a step, or two, in reverse.

"Aye, he usually does." Treve might be bigger than Kynan but he was quick. Of course, Treve outweighed him but that didn't stop him from trying to take him down, especially when he lost his temper. He had been worse when he was younger, likely because he was the youngest. He opened his mouth to call out but it was too late. The thud had him laughing and he followed Rick, though at a leisurely pace.

"My pardons, I didn't see you there." How could he when he was moving backwards? Hands were up in an almost apologetic way. "Didn't mean to touch you, lass" So he was a touch embarrassed in the realization it was a pretty little lady. "I hope I didn't upset you too much with the run in?" Taking a few steps away as well to further the distance. Ignoring the laughs as well. A sweep of a hand to the steps that she might ascend them without further incident.

"No, no, you didn't. Everything is fine. Just fine." A little shaken, but that was something she could get over easily. She dipped her head gently, a nod. Her blue green eyes briefly studied the others. And she worked up a timid smile before stepping ahead to ease inside first. She moved out of the way of the door to remove her cloak, her gloves.

They had caught up by then. Hard to miss the McAndrews' dimples as he watched Trevet and the lass, blue eyes dancing there with a bemused look within them. Leaving her to head in first with a passing grin upon Trevet as he was up in two long-legged steps to catch the door and hold for the others. Ushering them in quick as well within himself in their wake. "Good night to get out of the cold." Woolen cloak removed with the hat and scarf to follow, hanging them over a peg before hailing Alex. "Some stew and potcheen!" Dimples dipped more turned on the lass. "I am Rick, and my newfound friends, Trevet and Kynan." Indicating which was which.

He was in and quickly out of his cloak, hat and gloves as he studied the lass in the light as Rick spoke to her. He was sure there would be more ribbing on his end not in front of the lady, for to embarrass him they would need to embarrass her as well.

He glanced at Treve as he hung up his cloak, fumbling with it and then dropping his gloves. "Evenin', Miss." He nearly mumbled the words as he turned.

She must have been a little embarrassed herself. Or either her cheeks were pinkened from the cold. She slowed her movements when Rick offered introductions. Her eyes on them, even as she reached up to hang her cloak. "My name is Nora." She said it quietly, nearly mumbling like Kynan had. She turned her gaze from one to the other, then finally smiled. "It is nice to meet you.."

Rick was tall she might note as he took a step close enough to lift that cloak easily from her hands to hang over the peg. Stepping away once it was secured. "Nice to meet you Nora. You are new to the lands?" Gesture of hand to the bar where Alex awaited them before he was moving in that direction. Long legs and stride had him there in a moment's time. Potcheen set out, taking one of the glasses to kick back the fire.

"My pleasure, Nora." Slight quick bow before he too was heading for the bar in need of that drink and not just from the cold. He was around only to be distracted by a flyer resting there of a Joust. "Hey, Kynan, come take a look at this. Might be a good way to get back into shape." Not that he had done a lot of jousting in particular but he knew what it entailed having done it a couple times in training long ago. Which also reminded him of Rick's questions. "We took over the leather shop in town but we come from a warring clan, more out of need than desire, so fight as well when needed."

He followed them over, nodding to Alex for the tankard of ale set out. He didn't drink potcheen much. Leaning, he read over the flyer. "It's from now until November looks like." He said, tapping the paper.

"I -- yes." She didn't offer much information, did she? Only a simple answer to Rick's question with a hesitant smile. She made to the bar and glanced to what he was drinking. Grateful for the conversation starting up, she listened to Treve and Kynan, seeming quite interested. She turned to Alex to order herself red wine.

"Once a month, two nights. Points added up." Reading to himself. "I'm game, I guess. You ever been to one of these, Rick?"

He straddled up a stool in wait of his stew. Potcheen to drink from in the interim. "Do you have relatives here? Planning on staying? I'd have no gripe with another pretty lass in the lands. Although I am more from Ballicastle. I'm still up here more than there being in tactical warfare maneuvers and coming up with new ways of fighting for the men along with their brother Mikhail." Indicating the brothers again. He was also making note of the flyer that drew Trevet's attention. "You could represent the lands if you do, meet one of our allies." Well, only active ally as one dissolved completely he learned and the other pretty much merged with another.

"I do not have relatives here, no. And I may stay. I may. It is quite possible." She seemed thoughtful on the matter. She was quiet for a moment, watching him with her blue and green eyes. "So, you are a Knight then?" She was guessing.


Date: 01-24-09
Poster: Rick McAndrews
Post # 2

He wasn't sure who Nora was addressing with the question, could be Trevet and/or Kynan for talking on joining the jousting. "Do you mean me or the brothers?"

"By the names listed of those already joined, we might go up against women." Well, fighting in their lands there was always that possibility. "We will just look upon them as pretty men." That was the way to do it. Glancing up with a look shared between Nora and Rick for their conversation. "Might be a good thing then, represent the lands. Hopefully not do badly for being out of practice." He had a brogue too, not all that unlike Rick and his brother. Irish.

She studied Rick again, then smiled. "All of you.." Since there was the jousting topic. She suddenly peered over at Trevet. "Women jousting?" She'd never seen such a thing, of course, and this caught her by complete surprise. "And they compete with men? Against men?"

"Well, I guess a first lesson here is that we don't hold stiffly to titles. Royalty mixes with everyone and merit is earned not a birthright. I am the eldest son of King Chadrick McAndrews of Ballicastle." And the pride couldn't be helped in his tone, yes a brogue, when he spoke on his father. "First of ten sons and heir to the throne. A day I hope comes very far away into the future. Me Da and Ma living a long full life until very old."

"Aye, it would seem so by this flyer. It is not unheard of in the highlands so many must be from such areas." He wasn't really fond of the idea of going up against a lass in such a rough event. "Shall we sign up then Kynan?" Dark eyes tracing from Rick and Nora to his brother.

"You sound very proud, and you should be. It is comforting to know there are Royals that do not take advantage of their station." She didn't mean just in these lands, but everywhere. Her smile faded a notch and she turned her attention to Treve and Kynan, wondering if they would both sign up for the event.

"Aye, but you know we'll be ribbed something awful if we lose to a woman." A half smile appeared as he looked toward his brother. They both knew women could be very dangerous but still ...

"You will meet quite a few then iffin you stay around. If you need any help in getting settled, place to stay, profession to take on. I can help you out if around or another will." It would be the first time he got someone settled in but his position allowed him to do so if he wanted and had the time. "How much do you know of the lands?"

"I do not know much, I admit. I have not traveled out of Heathfield since I have arrived. It is very kind of you to offer your assistance, Rick. First, before I decide on anything, it would be wise if I request sanctuary; I have not had the chance yet." She swallowed some, as if her throat might have been dry. She lifted her wine to sip.

"Well, I be thinking any lass that enters a jousting is more along the lines of a man in wanting to fight and trained as so, so it's not really like they're a woman."

"I can grant you that sanctuary in my family's name even here in Heathfield." Glancing to Alex which he was now made aware of it being given. "Alex here was First Knight for the Queen's Father in his time." Not many knew that but it served to prove Nora would be safe if she chose to stay in the Thistle. "Do you consider your situation dire enough you best move into the castle? That can be easily arranged. You can tell of your situation if you wish or not, we will respect your privacy for your reasons. Although it is always prudent to tell one of the rulers in confidence the circumstances so they can better assist."

He blinked and looked at Treve, brow furrowing. "You really feel that way?" He had heard about the Lady Knights here and understood they were pretty.

So surprised by what she was hearing, she could hardly speak. She side glanced to Treve, the quiet Kynan. Then her eyes, misting by the way, turned back to watch Rick intently. "My Lord, you do not know of my situation and yet you are kind enough to grant me sanctuary?" Her eyes were slightly wide. She wasn't sure how to react and for his questions, her excitement faded somewhat. "Dire?" After what she was about to say, he may change his mind on what he just granted her. "I was the Queen's Maid of Honour in my country. The king has died, he has been murdered. The Queen has accused me." She tensed, a lot. She'd not been that open about her situation with anyone yet, not that open.

"Best way to set your mind or be distracted and that could prove being unseated..." words trailing off as focus shifted to Nora. "What do you think, being a lady?"

He became even quieter, listening to Nora now. Eyes that were more brown than green, became greener in that moment. He looked at Rick, having talked to Ruarc, their oldest brother, some on the rulers of these lands.

"I would say that is a dire situation." He was studying her as she spoke, "the fact you would relate this to me here in the open with the others in witness speaks of your innocence." Least in his mind. "I would be bold to venture that if indeed you had killed the king there was a good reason behind it. One like self defense." It was not unknown in some places where a king would demand of a lass in their service for sexual favors against their will. Or a jealous queen to kill a faithless king and blame it on one he had wanted or had for that matter. Oh, it could be many a reason but he didn't see this lass before him just murdering someone for no good reason.

She was not so distracted that she didn't hear Trevet. She glanced to him thoughtfully, but her silence was a lingering thing. She'd noted Kynan's look out of the corner of her eye. "I hear that some women who train themselves like warriors can be just as competitive as other men. I have not seen this with my own eyes, yet.." She trailed off. It seemed that was all she had to say, a warning maybe for Treve and Kynan. She wasn't sure. She divided her attention between the three, carefully addressing Rick's words. "I did not do it." Simply put. "I was the last seen with him, or so was claimed."

Well, there seemed to be a far more serious conversation going on between her and Rick. "Do you want to tell more of what happened? It will not go further than us." It might do her well to get it off her chest. It would also let her know he nor his brother would repeat what was said here. They were raised in that kind of honor held. "I didn't think you did it either." She just didn't seem to be the type. "You can always come and watch us if you want. We could use a cheering section, perhaps even wear your favor." Ladies sometimes did that for the ones jousting. It didn't seem to have any requirement one needed to be a knight either.

He still had much to learn from his brothers, but he could sense no evil in the young woman, only a quiet desperation, or perhaps it was resignation. He offered her a shy smile when she looked his way, trying to reassure but said nothing further. He merely nodded in agreement to Treve's words.

"Aye, I agree in believing yea." Becoming more serious in his response had his voice not only a touch deeper and the brogue thicker.

"I have a few bows, ribbons up in my room and one or two small scarves; which would you prefer, Treve?" She sounded as if she might be accepting his invitation. "Kynan?" The question was for him, too. She wasn't really trying to stray too far from the serious topic, though she did think somehow avoiding it sounded nice. "The last I saw the king, he seemed very displeased. He was in the gardens. He spoke to me often. ..."

"Usually it is a bit of silk scarf they tie around their lance or upper arm." He almost cringed with hearing bows, although ribbon was at least closer.

She trailed off, noting Treve's cringe. She somewhat smiled. "No pink, fluffy bow, then? I have a few scarves."

"Did you notice anyone else around, lingering? Have any idea who might have wanted the king dead. If it was one of the court they might hire an assassin than do the job themselves." The laugh came easily for the talk on ribbons, bows and scarves. "Ribbons in your hair and bells on your toes, you'll sure to be noticed." Giving Nora a wink as he teased the brothers.

Luckily he hadn't taken a drink of his potcheen for certain he'd be snorting it and feeling like fire. "A small silk scarf will do in whatever color you consider to be yours, Nora." Eyes met squarely with Rick's in almost a challenge. Then he laughed as he raised his glass. "Might make those warrior lasses worry we be prettier then."

"Who knows, the pretty bows might distract a woman in competition and make her wish for girly things. You could down her easily." Adding on. She shook her head for Rick's question. "I did not. It was evening, though, so it was dark, a lot of shadows." She nearly, nearly laughed. Treve was almost on the same page as she.

He grinned at Nora then looked at Rick and Treve. "Can two participants wear a favor from the same Lady?" He wasn't sure if he had ever heard if it was a rule or not.

"There was no ruling we had to wear a favor so I don't think it would matter unless you've a lass you've got hidden to ask of her favor?" Raising his brows Kynan's way as he put him on the hot seat with that one.

He was about to say practically the same as Trevet, so didn't need to. He drew over the flyer to take another quick look over it. "I don't see anything on it either of such requirement or if a man could wear a couple of favors for that matter." Shooting a dimple grin Kynan's way as if to imply maybe there was more than one in what Trevet implied.

He was thankful he was passed the stage where his voice cracked when he got caught off guard. "No! " He was laughing when he answered, then he looked somberly toward Nora. "I would be honored to wear a favor from you."

"He just doesn't want to wear pink." She murmured, only teasing.

"Blue, green, purple.. all better than pink but if that is all you have or like the best, then pink I would wear on me lance or arm in your honor." If Kynan even had an eye for some lass, he would more than likely be the one to know it for they were constantly together. Working together. At least his brother didn't sputter this time around like he would have a year ago. He was ready for the jousts.

Well, he did say he would wear something. She smiled towards him gently, warmly. "Pale yellow." She was fond of the color and seemed to reach her decision quickly.

"Would you feel safer staying in the castle or the accommodations here?" It was getting late and he needed to head up to the castle for that matter and would escort her. See her settled in.

No, he didn't sputter, but he still found it hard to talk to a lass, unless either his brother or Rick it seemed. "For us both?" He looked sheepishly at Rick. Hadn't met to blurt that out.

"I will stay here for the night, Rick." Since she was already there. "Thank you though." Kynan amused her. "If there is not a real rule, I do not see that it would matter that you both have the same. Unless you want a different color? Pale blue?"

At least he had time to wolf down his stew before it got cold and drink more of the potcheen to warm him up good. He nudged his brother, "why not the same being neither of us are courting Nora and it would show she is favored twice in the joust."

"I wouldn't mind either." His smile grew wider, and he nodded. "Aye, it would at that, wouldn't it?"

"In time things will settle out for you here, I've a good feeling on that. Maybe even a position in the court as a lady in waiting if you wish to continue in that avenue or do something else. If you'd like an audience with the queen here, that too can be arranged. Might have you feeling even more comfortable." He finished off his drink as it was time for him to leave.

"There are many things for me to consider, yes. I thank you, Rick, for everything." Not one to be so touchy, she did reach out to clasp one of his hands in hers, both of hers for a warm squeeze. She released him right after.

The gesture told him of perhaps another need as when his hand was grasped, he took her into a warm hug. Strong arms to envelope her a moment in reassurance that she might be on the run but she was no longer alone. Friends in the making to help her in facing her future. "I will see you all soon, probably see your brother Mikhail before yea again." There was to be a meeting at the break of dawn just before the practice on the king's field.

Unexpected and yet the surprise was a pleasant one. She hugged him gently, then backed away with a soft smile.

"You should have him read your card." He was curious on how a card would come up for the prince. "Might find us there on the field tomorrow to get in some practice as we've an invitation."

"I'll walk a short distance with you, Rick.." He stood, then bowed slightly toward Nora. "Good night, Nora, and have pleasant dreams." A look given to Treve to see if he was leaving too or staying a while longer.

"Good night, Rick, Kynan. Sleep well and sweet dreams.." She moved to collect her things; her cloak mainly.

He too stepped away, "aye, it is on our way." To walk part in least. A bow given Nora. "Sleep sweet this night and ones to come. I'm sure we'll be seeing you again." He was over to collect his cloak.

"You too, Trevet." She lingered for a moment, watching them all, then drew in a deep breath before she turned for the stairs to go up them.

"I might take him up on that if we get a few spare minutes." Or when he was out socially and caught up with Mikhail. "Good night sweet Nora," dimpled smile her way as she disappeared and he to collect his cloak and head out with the brothers.


Date: 06-22-09
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 3

The Forger

The marketplace cleared of the mobile vendors as the last of the wagons rolled off. That was except for one that needed some work on the wheel axle and brought it to Rhett. He was fashioning swords, now that the heat of the day had cooled down, this was the best time for him to work with the forge as well the morning hours. Too much heat would do him in if he wasn't careful. So the hammer ran out over anvil, bare chest with suspenders holding up the brown work pants. A cotton kerchief tied around his brow to keep the sweat from running in his eyes as each strike was done with precision.

Segan left Eion a note on a certain matter he thought on, and wondering if he wanted to join him in the venture. He was loading cargo into the Anaconda for a trip down the coast in delivering goods for Bovee Shipping. His first job with them to see how it all went. Long day had him heading for the Thistle first for a cold tankard of ale and some food before heading to the marketplace.

Eion had again spent the day doing some work around the estate after a long morning on the King's field. He had received the note and after cleaning up, headed for the Thistle to join his brother. The warm evening had him smiling to himself. They should build a bonfire tonight in celebration of the solstice.

Eion wouldn't find him there for he already headed down to the marketplace. Window shopping to see what the various shops had to offer or for some, what new items they had gotten in. He finally was over to sit along the base of the large fountain at the center.

Then once Alex told him that Segan had headed on out, Eion thanked the man and headed for the commons. He spotted him and started in his direction. "Evening, Segan. Enjoying the sights?" Not quite sure what sights there were, but Segan could decide for himself.

He lifted a bottle of potcheen. "Aye, t'e sig'ts bae just rig't." Grinning as he took a swig then held it out to him. "Yea got mae note, aye. Yea bae agree'in it bae from bot' o' us iffin we agree on one 'e showed mae." His accent was really thick after hanging out with the boys all day on the ship and then imbibing.

Now that he fashioned a new axle, he was out propping the wagon up so that he could replace the other. Hair was soaked for he'd pour some of the water from a barrel over himself to cool off. So intent on his work he hadn't realized the marketplace pretty much cleared out this night. Sometimes they did, to go swimming after a long hot day sweltering under the hood of a vardo or canopy.

Thick enough that Eion had to really pay attention to what Segan was saying. Though it was good to hear it after all this time. He smiled and clapped a hand to Segan's shoulder in greeting, then accepted the bottle. He took a long drink from it before he handed it back. "Aye, I'll take a look and see what I think." He grinned as he answered. "Then we have to see to our sisters." They should have knives at least.

The loudest, ear-piercing shrill shot down the street, and Conor lowered his fingers from his lips from that whistle to gain his brothers' attention. He started in a trot toward the fountain where he saw the both of them.

"'e's got a' assortment o' t'ose." He was up from his seat to start heading in the direction of the smithy. Obviously the sounds told Rhett was there in the building set slightly apart from the others, nestled with trees and greenery. The whistle was heard over hammer and anvil, which apparently had him stop anyway. He swung around on a heel. "Speak o' t'e devil, 'is ears must be ring'in loud."

"Might consider a sword for Gemma." He smiled slightly before turning to watch as Conor approached. "Conor! All moved in?" He had hated to see the youngest move out but still, they each had to follow their own path. Besides, it was hard to think at times with everyone around.

His ears were ringing, but it was because of the whistle. He came up alongside the two of them, slowing his pace to walk to the smithy. That was the general direction at least.

He was rarely at the manor anymore with seeing to things on his ship, staying there the night more often than not anymore. Well, they were expected so Conor might as well know as it would make it far easier. "We got something for you, Conor." All the while edging forward again towards the smithy.

"Aye." He nodded. "Best I can for now." The space provided for him was quite spacious, and while he was grateful, it sure made it clear just how much he lacked. All in good time. That was his new motto. Conor actually cringed away at first instinct with Segan's comment, casting a wary eye from Segan to Eion, wondering who was going to be 'giving' him that 'something." Wasn't that how they used to lure him out into the field, or forest, or shed, as youngsters and then...let him have it?

Rhett finished up the wheel as it was ready for when the man came by in the morning. It was his means of making a living that had Rhett setting other projects aside to see to it. He was cooling down with a tankard while seated on the porch edge of the smithy. It was then he noticed the sun almost setting, most of everyone gone to someplace cool to relax. That was except three whom he recognized. He was up again to take up a lean against one of the posts. The sword was a finished one that Eion was to take a look over in a final approval that Segan had chosen.

Conor could fight back now. Things were different... somewhat. He laughed at his expression then put up both his hands. "See, nothing up my sleeves." Which were rolled up. "Come on, little brother."

Still cautious, he nodded, and continued on with them. "You've been keeping yourself absent of late, Segan." The youngest commented. Only because his grandmother had been asking all sorts of questions and though Conor knew the reasons for his brother's absences, Segan could be forewarned right now, that Conor had slathered it on thick for Gran. Segan would have a lot of explaining to do!

Fingers dipped into the pocket of his shirt where there was a small bag of peanuts. Plucking one out to toss at Conor before around on a heel and making quicker work of getting to the smithy. "This way Conor.." casting a glance over his shoulder, "I'm starting to make some runs for Bovee Shipping. I should let Grandmama know that it is working out." So far but all so new, that he didn't get chance to tell her yet. Reaching where Rhett was leaning against a post. "Evening Rhett, all's well?"

Was there any question why the older brothers used to take this particular brother for a comeuppance 'discussion'? Conor threw up a hand to Rhett. "Evening, Shawnesey."

Shifting up as arms uncrossed over a still bare chest as they approached. Rhett was muscular, had a lot to do with his profession. The night's air was starting to cool him down and no good to catch a chill as he reached for his shirt to don. "Alls well especially that ends well. I think this is one of those nights that ends well.." smile came in a pressed of his lips but one that was seen in dark blue eyes. "Item you wanted is ready."

He just shook his head, eyeing Conor a moment before his attention was on Rhett. "Evenin' Rhett." Hopefully Gran didn't protest too much when he started to stay at the barracks on those nights he was on duty. He could just imagine her marching to the King's field come dawn.

Hand came in a thud to Conor's back as he back pedaled a few steps to where he was. "Let's go see what he has. Oh, by the by, there's a dance thing at an allied place I was thinking we should take our sisters. Well, Concessa and Gemma. If they want to go." Melantha was pretty occupied with her winged knight.


Dancing? "Oh? Dancing is good." Drinking and dancing even better! Held all sorts of possibilities. "When is it?" Conor started up the couple of steps to the porch.

"Place call the Moors. Seems they have been allies with these lands a long time." Following Rhett inside the smithy as it was a good thing there were vents in the high ceilings or it would be sweltering. The blast of heat coming from one of the forge fires they had to pass to get inside.

"Help yourself to some ale, it's cold." Kept in an area away from the fires. There was a long wooden table down the one end, side wall to the left that stretched a good ten feet. Various swords were in stages of being completed while he hung the completed ones on the wall or stacked the simple effective ones for the masses on racks. He made them for the warriors here and in Kildare. Lochlan Kearney took care of Ballicastle, Brian McAndrews for here and Tyremoor. A swatch of cloth was haphazardly laid over and under the sword. Sheathe set to the side of it. He had finished polishing and sharpening the blade that it picked up light even as night set in.

Conor meandered about, checking out Rhett's tools of trade, strolling along beside that table, studying the swords in the works. He didn't even realize he was nodding in approval. He turned slightly as Rhett spoke, casting a look to where the ale was kept, then started in that direction. "You stay busy enough." He chuckled, taking up a tankard for himself.

He just eyed Segan when he spoke of dancing. Not. Saying. A. Word. Blinking at the heat, he gave a single shake of his head. He had been in a smithy's before but the fact these men could handle the heat impressed him almost as the work the men did.

He caught Eion's look his way so he discreetly added. "Our little sister seems to have some around her and we should check them out if such is indeed true." He was over to the table to where the sword laid on the cloth, lifting the edge away to expose it complete. "Conor, what do you think of this one?" Polishing and sharpening the blade made an even bigger difference from when he first chose it as he gave a low whistle under his breath.

With drink in hand, Conor made his way over to look at the sword Segan laid out to his view. Both brows shot up and he leaned in closer, pulled back farther. He looked over to Rhett. "This is a beauty, Rhett. Which of the Heathfield's knights gets to show this off?" He'd be a lucky son-of-a-biscuit-eater. He glanced to Segan with a huge grin. "Makes a man envious, no?" He turned to find Eion. "Did you see this?"

"Seems your brothers saw to that. You can be the envied one. Sword has a way of becoming an extension of its owner and I know you'll do it proud, good as any warrior or knight."

If there was one thing Conor was good at, it was talking. He poured himself a mug of ale before he was over to join Conor. First he had seen it and he grinned at Conor when Rhett informed him who would be owner.

What the...? The hand at his side fisted and flexed, as if it itched to take it up. He glanced from one brother to the next in disbelief. This was way better than a punch in the gut! "More handsome than yours even." Hoarse with emotion, he barely had time to set the tankard aside before he grabbed Eion, who stood closest, and crushed him into a hug. A pound or two on his back and then he turned to snatch Segan into that same tight embrace.

It was always interesting to watch Conor go through any emotion. From getting punched in the gut when they tricked him as kids, as brothers would do, to fighting in a bar or even eyeing the same lass with an interest and some competition. That kind of competition though, Segan decided was the most dangerous and would try to avoid it. "So, you're saying you like.." and the last came out in a grunt of air as he was snagged in a bear hug. Grinning by the time released for it would be a time to remember. As Rhett had said earlier, alls well when a night ends well. He realized then he should consider getting himself a sword too or he'd be the one left out.

He was saying nothing at this point. He couldn't! He was swallowing hard when he released Segan, looking toward Rhett then with a motion of hand. Could he? Actually? Take it now? While he was a man of leather by trade, he had also been trained by father, by brothers, by skilled masters in the use of weapons.

Well, he wouldn't agree on which sword was the better looking of the two. He liked his just fine but Conor's  was a handsome sword. "Well made. And you're welcome." Though it was Segan's idea.  He rubbed at his side after Conor released but it was all in fun and he grinned as he watched him with Segan. A drink of the ale was taken while Conor remained speechless. This was a first!

One was a love of his, the other a necessity. And when you had something so grand to support any necessity, how could you possibly go wrong?

He gave a nod to that look, pressed smile only growing. Watching as one would who crafted an item, taking them hours to create and who it ended up with, if delighted or only taken for granted.

Conor Quinn had never and would never take anything for granted, ever! He offered over a nod of thanks to Rhett and with almost a loving caress, he stroked his fingertips down the hilt until he could curl his hand around the handle. He brought the blade up slowly, twist-tilting it so that it caught the light of that glowing fire. How could he ever repay his brothers for 'something' like this? He lowered it just as slowly as he had lifted it and eased it into the skillfully crafted sheath. Put to bed for now, like a babe wrapped in his mother's arms. Tucked away safely. He swallowed once more, then reached for his tankard, downing the ale to clear his throat of the emotions there.  He cleared his throat, setting the empty container aside. "Guess we'll be letting you get on home now, Rhett. Unless you want to join us for some drinks?" Although Rhett didn't look the drinking, carousing, possible brawling type he did look like the type that could have a good time of it.

Eion was grinning as he watched Conor. He was proud of both brothers. Of course, he might not say it but it was there as always. "She's a beauty, Conor. You'll do her proud." Blue eyes shifted from him to Rhett with the offer. Of course he'd be welcome.

His smile was somewhat sheepish. "I am home. I live above the smithy," which they might notice the building was tall enough for even a large loft-attic making a third floor though somewhat smaller.

"We might be along soon to see about three finely made daggers for our sisters. Wouldn't hurt for them to own one and learn how to use it." Place seemed cozy to be living here. He would have heat all winter!

Conor shot a glance up to the rafters above his head. "Well, that works nice." He chuckled. No reason to look sheepish about living above where you worked. A lot of craftsmen did. Worked well for long, hard hours.

Rhett was just looking for an opportunity. Quiet spoken didn't mean he didn't have the same thoughts as others his age. He was a few years younger than them though not really looking it. He had his ale to lift in toast. "To swords that find the right hand to wield them as they were created." Taking a long drink before attention shifted to Segan. "I will be forging some new ones in the next week or so to add to what I already have." All in good time as there were other needs too even if fashioning swords was his niche.

"And to those who make them." He added before taking a long drink of the ale. He cut another glance toward Segan and hid his grin. Segan needed to talk to Gemma. A knife would be welcome, but she'd likely enjoy receiving a sword as well.

"Here, here, for you've made my brothers speechless in the giving of them." Which he had enjoyed immensely. Who needed a reason for giving a gift other than you wanted to. Not waiting for some proclaimed time.

He didn't like to think of his sisters having any blades larger than a kitchen knife. They were mean with those! He'd been nicked enough when reaching in for a slice of apple or chancing to steal a slice of cheese they had just carved off. He realized the need to have them protected but still ... dang.

"We'll be by then," as it would be nice of them after they were done with their ale, to head on home so all broke fast with Grandmama in the morning. Maybe she would make them her famous blueberry waffles. Thanking Rhett again before heading out with his brothers the drinking would have to wait another time for the late hour.



Date: 11-26-09
Poster: Myles MacKeogh
Post # 4

To Speak of Ancient Times

People mulled about the streets window shopping even this late at night. Some of the places were open in case one wanted to place an order so it would be done before Christmas. Such was the Clock shop. Velvet's Jewelry was still open as Myles was browsing the various crafted pieces she had then headed back out into the street. Drawn here this night as he had gotten a bag of warmed up nuts and soon sat on the fountain's edge. Dark eyes keenly watching though he greeted others pleasantly that happened by. Some seemed surprised to see the elusive Mystic that worked with Andrew out in the Commons, perhaps even wondering if something was wrong.

Nycole had decided to do a little shopping while she had the chance. There were times when she just couldn't get away, and with the holidays and wedding plans, it had been worse than usual. She had managed to take care of a few things and was talking to the boy who had accompanied her when she spotted Myles. Giving the lad a coin, she made her way toward the fountain, her smile warm. It was unusual to see him here, yes, but a very pleasant surprise. She had chosen a gown of dark green beneath a cloak of red trimmed with white., making her look very festive. The hood was up, hiding her hair which had been pulled by with a simple bow.

He stood as soon as he saw her, dark eyes fathomless depths as such for his kind. "Nycole, I knew you would chance by here this evening and took advantage of it." He offered out the bag of warmed up nuts, mostly cashews. "How have you been for it has been a while. No thanks to both of our schedules."

"Good evening, Myles." She laughed as he stood, having to look way up and feeling very small. "I've been well. Things have been hectic but enjoyable. Thank you." She'd never refuse such a treat and thanked him. "How have you been?"

"Waiting for time of my own. Waiting to find if you could get some time. I'm sure even tonight it is on a mission that involves your work?" He was not perfect in knowing without really delving into one's mind and that was not something he just did.

"Actually, I was just taking advantage of no duties but there will be other nights." She laughed bell-like and clear. "Connor's promised to take Elaina shopping, or for sleigh rides, but Elaina's said the same about having more time to ourselves, especially during this season And I'm finished for the evening."

"Then let us plan upon a night to spend together but certainly we can window shop this one while they are still open. Have you all you need, Nycole?" Moving closer as he offered her the bend of his arm in escort.

"For tonight, I believe." She slid her arm through his, resting her hand on the crook of his arm. "I still need to sit down, go over what I have and decide what else I need to do." She lowered her voice as if giving over a great secret. "I start early enough that I don't have to panic."

"If you could wish upon a star, is there anything you would wish for at all? I imagine you have most of what you need, being in waiting on the princess but there are things that cannot be bought and secrets of the heart.." strolling along as words were kept low between them. A greeting lifting in tone here and there as they passed ones he knew and even ones he only knew on sight or not at all.

She offered a smile to those they passed, one that reached her eyes and caused them to sparkle. His words brought a thoughtful expression and she looked at him after a moment, a dimple appearing. "I would wish for a day where there were no duties, no formalities, just a day of doing whatever I want." She gave him a coy look. "With whomever I want."

"And what would be whatever you wanted with this whomever you wanted? Sometimes wishes are granted, sometimes they come true." Pausing by Sibios as the aroma alone could fill one's stomach.

And that wonderful smell had her sniffing the air briefly before she continued. "I would ask the someone to show me what it is that fills that person's time, and, if we were back home, I would show off my favorite places, some that I've shared with no one," though she was certain others knew of them. "Maybe walk along the beach, letting the waves dance around our feet, or sit on the cliffs overlooking the sea and just talk." She sighed softly, without meaning to do so. "And for a little while, I'd forget everything else."

"If it is the right someone, they could take you places you have never dreamed of or seen so differently. They could bring you to those very spots in the second of a thought that you would show them to him. Provided this person is a him you refer to? This man could bring you to a world that puts the other in perspective, where the song of the nightingale can be given freely."

"Yes, it is a man." She looked up at him again, blue eyes shining in the light of the torches. "And would this same man dance with me to that nightingale's song when I am so moved or hold me if it brings me to tears with its beauty?" And while the world moved on around them, it seemed to her that for a moment, it had stopped.

"He would hold you up when you needed. He would let you fly when wanted. He would hold you close when you cried a river never letting you drown in those tears. Whether happy or sad, all things are to be experienced but when shared they unite."

"I have been alone for many years, though not alone if that can make sense. Having lost my parents, and being taken in by the Crown to be educated. There were times when I wished to soar. But I could only do so in my dreams." She laughed softly. "And yet, I was never angry, never bitter because dreams can give so much. And so can experiencing them with someone else. And what of you, Myles? What is it you would wish for, if such wishes came true?"

"Do you remember times when you felt the most lonely that there would be a presence at your side as if an old friend, although unseen, had come to share your feelings? Perhaps think it was your mother or father or your guardian angel?" Moving along as his arm lowered to move about her shoulders to draw her closer. "Sometimes dreams are as real as this existence. Who is to dispute what is reality and what is not when death is a certainty?"

She leaned against him, nodding slowly. "There have been many times when I have, when I've thought I've caught a hint of my mother's perfume or felt comfort as if I was being surrounded by a cover of warmth." She smiled as she went on. "I like to think the good ones are real. I'll leave the bad in the realms of the imaginary."

"There were many times when no one else could be there, I was." So he was letting her in on something that she would never have known otherwise. Perhaps she might recognize his scent. Something more than the splash of cologne he wore but something more in summing up complete his essence. It gave off color. It gave off sound and it gave off a scent as well to those who could recognize them.

Had he not said so, she might have never remembered but that scene had always been familiar to her, and she wondered now if that's why she felt so comfortable with him, so safe. There had been nights when the rain fell heavy  against the roof of the castle and she had fallen asleep surrounded by that comfort and safety. She accepted that he did but had to ask, "why?" Maybe she knew the answer even as she spoke the word.

"I watched you grow once I found you about ten or so in years." Age was hard for him to determine but it was before she hit puberty. "I once knew you from afar in another life time but you were taken before I could meet you. There was something about you that drew me like others had not and so down the centuries I searched for my nightingale. In that time of old you sang beautifully but your life was snuffed out by renegades as I headed for your father's castle to help him fight. It was too late. I had to accept that we were not to meet then but I felt it would be some day. Still patience was needed and to see if you felt the same draw, that it wasn't one sided."

She looked away briefly, her expression far away but when she smiled again, it was filled with warmth and understanding. "That explains so much. I've seen you in my dreams, heard your voice though with more of a brogue I think." She stopped to turn and lay her hand upon his. "And you've watched for me all this time?" She closed her eyes for a moment then opened them slowly. "And yes, I feel the same draw. Perhaps I've been waiting for you too."

"Aye, the brogue is there if I wish. Thick as you like and was more such in past. Ancient tongue first learned was thicker than the later Gaelic. What is time but the moments all put together and always those moments until the right ones become real. This is our moment in time, be it only now or until our dying days. I am hoping for the latter and then we may well once more meet in another life drawn again. Or it may take many lives to find each other."

"I would like it to last for as long as possible, yes." She held a bit of an impish look. "And we'll find one another, again, somehow, whether it's through each life, or many, we will find one another again." She didn't know how she could be so certain, but she was. "You are an ancient soul, my warrior, but it seems that so am I."

"This is so. I have known about myself but the many lives had you become numb to that fact. But that is awakening in you again. Although, this is our first time together in spite of the many lives behind us. Shared with others but there was always that elusive quality that left them unfulfilled. Then I got the glimpse. I wasn't sure if you had seen me but in this life I was able to be by your side on another level until time brought you to these lands. As they had brought me here first to my calling." There were duties too before personal endeavors but this time around, he would have what his heart needed.

She nodded then laughed, a sound of pure joy as she wrapped her arms around him as best she could. "Will you help me as those past lives awaken? I don't fear it, though I might find some of it confusing." She tipped her head slightly, almost birdlike. "I would like to be your nightingale forever, Myles."

He had her up to cocoon into his arms, sharing his warmth and the feel of his heart. "Yes, I will help you in all ways that I can. I wasn't sure you were drawn, I had to painfully wait to see if you'd call. For you to understand the riddle and then make use of its answer. I had to prepare myself if I had been so terribly wrong it would have set me back a few centuries to recover." He had become so profoundly trusting in his instincts. "I believe they will awaken only when you are ready to know them again."

"I was a little unsure, a little afraid." She leaned her head against his chest, listening to the beat of his heart. "You are someone who is looked up to and I was a little unsure of myself. I'm not anymore." And again, she had to nod. "When I'm ready, yes. Perhaps it will be soon."

"Ah, the god imagine?" She could feel the rumble of his laughter as he cuddled her in his arms so gently. Muscles and ability that could rip another being apart by hand but his hand was stayed by a loving nature than hatred. "There is nothing to be afraid of when your heart is in the right place. Some will be soon, all in good time. There is no rush and now that we know of one another better, you have more of a security as do I."

"Yes, and that knowledge is wonderful." She laughed then tipped her head back again. "We will need to see more of one another whenever possible. Once Elaina and Connor are married, I should have more free time, and I'd like to be with you, Myles." It was more a need.

"I have made arrangements that will not interfere with what is needed of you but the time was more than willingly granted, so you know. With your approval. I should see you back as the night wears on and the sooner we shall see each other. I will come to you this time."

"Then I'll be patient while I wait." Again the impish look appeared. "Though perhaps not as patient as you have been." She laughed. "No more years for waiting."

"We can have all our patience done together and take our good ole time in discovery." There was a lot to be discovered between them, of each other, of days to look forward to. With thoughts of her when he rose and when he laid his head to rest. "Release time from your thoughts and allow what is to be, be. Enjoy all moments." Gradually heading them up to the castle where they both stayed.

Date: 12-01-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 5

Snowball Fight

Karina had bundled herself up to spend some time outside this evening, despite the temperatures which seemed to plummet further each day. Her thick-furred pup was getting antsy with spending so much time indoors, and so Karina had put on almost every piece of clothing she owned and headed outside to play in the snow. Amergin was having the time of his life, frisking around, digging up the ice, diving into the snowdrifts. By now Karina was soaked at the knees and elbows but she'd been running about so much herself, that she hardly noticed. A laugh rang out from somewhere in the swaths of wool (her new scarf and snood both had been employed for this event) as the husky tumbled about, paws seeking purchase in the slippery snow.

Vanessa spotted the pair as she came through the commons from the cottage, playing in the snow. Bundled up herself with the full length coat that included fur lining, she was glad she wore gloves as she came upon the pair. Sneaking around the far side of the fountain to come up from a corner of a building, she reached down for a handful of snow to cluster and form into a ball, then waited. One good shot! Easy to say for someone with bad aim, but when Karina was up and that shot could be taken, the snow ball was hurled at her friend, then she ducked down behind the corner of the building, giggling.

"Amer, stop diggin' - AGH!" Shot in the back with the frigid lump, the husky's antics were quickly forgotten. Feeling the snow soak into the thickness of her wool coat, she spun around, expecting to see one of the Quinn boys. But she saw.... nobody? Panting a little from the activity, her eyes narrowed. Slow steps forward as her vision swung about keenly, though with the shadows and the sparkle of the ice, it was hard to discern shapes. "Alright... I know you're there.... come out and fight like a man." Again, working under the assumption that it was Segan or Eion or somebody. Bending over Karina began to pack a revenge snowball in preparation.

While waiting, she gathered enough snow for another snow ball and quickly quieted her giggling when she heard the crunch of snow coming her way. She almost broke the silence with a bout of laughter at being called out and dared to fight like a man. Oooh..what to do! Finally she stood up, quickly at that, and jumped out from around the corner. "Ha!!" Mocking a manly baritone as she hurled the second snow ball at Karina and went running to try and out run what she knew was coming.

Karina spun quickly again at the low-pitched outcry but the tone was not quite right.... and was promptly splattered by another snowball! She let out a yelp, wiping the snow out of her eyes just in time to see not Segan, but Vanessa take off running. Karina let out another cry, this one half-surprise and half-laughter. "Think you can get away with that eh?!" Now on the run after Van, she hurled her own snowball directly at her friend's back. Her boots had little traction in the snow though and her running was more like haphazard slipping and sliding. Amergin was wound up by all the antics and was yipping his little head off, as Karina tried to gather another snowball up on the fly.

Segan was well bundled up with an armload of snowballs as he stalked the night. Trees, bushes, houses his means of keeping out of sight. He whipped one at a tree near Vanessa to have it splattered for the force of the throw and another to follow near Karina before he was already away from the spot the snowballs came from. Certainly they would figure that out in the least.

"Eep!" Cried out loud when she was pegged on the back with a snowball. She was all laughter though as she came to a sliding halt, barely missing the snowball that came from another direction. The sudden stop (which wasn't a stop, but a slide) landed her on her rear with another bout of laughter while looking around for the culprit! "I think we have attracted others, Karina!" Laughing still, she carefully got up, rub/brush her bum from landing and freeing her seat of snow before stalking off in the direction the snowball had come from.

"Whoa!" That yelped out as another snowball came out of nowhere to explode just at her feet. Laughing still, she regained her footing. "An intruder!" She edged closer to Vanessa, lowering her voice conspiratorially. "What do ya say we band together against the fiend?" She too began gathering up an extra-large snowball and moving forward. Amergin, meanwhile, with his excellent nose was busy sniffing for the 'invader' - who had a very familiar scent to the pup!

They had attracted others as Bruce the bruiser had his team of teens that caught on and headed for some action. Snowballs started flying from many directions. That force of flying snowballs was aimed at the two women. Something this bully was noted for. That's when Segan started his rebellion the balls of snow he had made were now flying in the teens direction.

Vanessa could hear others that were collecting for the playful battle and reached out to snag Karina by the arm. "More come!" Announced loudly as she pointed down one of the paths before buildings and leaned closer to whisper to Karina. "We should take to a rooftop where we can see them all." Meant for her ears only as she gestured with a nod of her head to a low roof that would be easy to reach with the aid of crates.

"Agh!" Karina cried out, ducking and flinging an arm up as multiple snowballs came winging their way. "We're under attack!" She leaned closer to Vanessa when her arm was grabbed, then gave a nod of agreement. "Let's go." And she made a scramble for those crates. "Amergin!" She called out in a lifted whisper, but the puppy was on a mission. He had soon located Segan in his hiding spot and was busy assaulting the man with licks. Karina frowned as the pup  moved out of sight, clambering onto the roof and laying out flat on her stomach atop it. As soon as Vanessa was settled she pointed. "I think we have an ally..."

Segan was whipping them madly at the bunch that probably amounted to five and soon caught their attention. Now he had the bunch on his tail as he turned the corner and found Vanessa up away from ground cover and would make a select target. Amergin at his feet and wanting attention as he got it on the run.  The teens were all double shooters too. She'd be hit by ten balls before she knew what happened. "Take cover," tackling her down as the barrage came overhead as he rolled with her in the snow. He still had a bunch in the crook of his one arm. "Karina up there?" Taking a glance towards the roof but he was ushering her away behind some bushes close to where they landed.

She didn't even have a chance to follow Karina to the roof before she was attacked by more than just an armful of snowballs! She crouched down and covered her face to keep snow from getting into her hood, and no sooner was she about to get up, she was tackled for cover and rolled over in the snow with squeaks and giggles. Quick enough she was off behind the bushes and looking for the others who had joined into hers and Karina's snowball fight. One of the children popped into view, she grabbed a snowball from Segan's arm and threw it, laughing with a glance up to the roof where Karina had vanished.

"Vanessa!" She called down in a muted shout, the upper half of her face appearing overhead as she leaned down over the edge of the roof. "Where'd she go?" She asked aloud to herself, then let out a yelp and ducked down again as her voice attracted more snowballs her way.

"She'll be lucky she doesn't break her freakin' neck on that roof. They are pitched and usually ice forms under the snow enough to make it like a sliding board." They might see Karina flying off the roof into one of the snowbanks. As kids, he and his brothers use to go up on them purposely for that very ride. He whipped a few, hitting Bruce in the head with one good shot that had the bully crying no fair.  Right. One of his friends was charging their way as he handed off a few snowballs to Vanessa and was quickly making more. He would get up pass the bushes to shoot them as needed. Although it would not be wise to stay in this one place much longer.

Nor would it be much fun. She took the snowballs from Segan and began throwing them, aiming for those the closest to where they were and charging at their place of hiding. She hit a couple more of the kids who retaliated with throwing their own. Vanessa was hit by one and ducked the others. "Time for a new hiding place!" Karina would probably have fun sliding off the roof. Two handfuls of snow picked up to make two more snowballs, she jumped up to stand and threw one at Segan than started running. Her attention went to the band of kids as she pointed towards the Quinn. "He has candy too!" Redirecting attention!

"Holy," turned against as he got pelted by one he was trying to rescue. "She's got more candy! Pockets stuffed!" as he fended off some of the flying balls with a roll then up to his feet as he disappeared from her sight around another building. The gang didn't know who to believe so three went after the female and two on the male. The wiser choice being the female over the male for them. He found a good spot a few buildings away from where he had been and the one Karina was on, although he hadn't seen her, and was quickly making more balls for an ambush on the two once they turned that corner.

Segan's words turned out to be foreshadowing. As she lay there on the rooftop she felt a little shift in the snow beneath her. Then another. And she realized that gravity was causing her to inch forward. All of a sudden the snow, melted by her body heat, gave way in a rush. A long squeal issued forth as she slid forward as predicted, right off the edge of the roof, her body airborne for only a couple of seconds before she tumbled out of sight behind a snowdrift with a thud.

"Preposterous!" She squeaked out while trying to duck more snowballs. "I only have two pockets! He has trouser pockets and coat pockets to keep candy in!" Hearing Karina's squeal as she slid, Vanessa tried to stop, but ended with another of those ice slides to land on her bum and turned just enough to see her friend fall into the snow drift. Now that she was down, likely she would be pelted with more projectiles, but she was too busy laughing to try and get up!

Eion, following the advice of several of the knights, had made his way into the Thistle from the back, avoiding any snowballs. He wasn't all that thrilled with the snow or cold, and being pelted would have made his mood darker than usual. So he stood at the window, a glass of potcheen in hand and watched.

The two came as predicted and met with an onslaught of white but Segan noted the other three had abandoned the lass for her words and to help their friends. Before the two could retaliate, he was fast on the run and a runner he was as he managed to dart in through the back door of the tavern before it could close behind Eion. He was smattered in white from head to toe with little of cloth showing through. The door was quickly closed and a few minutes later he could hear the ones outside trying to figure out where he had gone before taking off in the opposite direction. He started shaking the snow off where he stood. Cap and scarf drawn off that were stiff with white.

"Ow...." Karina rolled over behind the snowdrift, wincing and spitting out snow. Just then Amergin came bounding up from out of nowhere and she caught the pup with an arm around his belly. "Shh..." Slowly and cautiously she peered around the snowdrift. She could see one of the teenage lads on the run and she gathered up a snowball, swiftly throwing it with dead aim at the kid's back, and then just as quickly ducked out of sight again. She'd use the same  technique for another of the boys just a few seconds later. She smirked to herself at their confused cries.

"You best dry off before you go back to the manor." He turned to look at his brother and chuckled. "Snowman."

The snowballs faded into nothing and Vanessa finally stopped laughing long enough to look around. No Segan, kids were running in other directions. Laughing quietly, she stood up and started dusting herself off as she made her way to the snowdrift Karina had landed in. Might have been another rub to her hip and bum from the landing before drudging through the drift to where she found Karina. "They're on the run. We should use this chance to make our run for the Thistle to warm up." Her free hand offered to help her friend up off the ground.

"I think the lasses are coming in. Best have something warm ready for them, Alex." He turned from the window and made his way over to Segan, holding out the glass of potcheen. "Haven't drank from it yet."

Laying flat on her stomach in the snow (with Amergin lying the exact same way beside her), she looked up as Vanessa appeared overhead and offered a grin. "Good idea," she answered through chattery teeth! Soaked to the bone she was, just like the others. She reached up to grab Vanessa's hand, hauling herself up. A low whistle to Amergin, she cast one more cautious glance behind her then took off with Vanessa up to the Thistle. She laughed as she limped a little, having landed oddly in her tumble. But she'd live. In she burst to the Tavern, bundled and dripping wet, red-cheeked and bright-eyed above the many wraps of her scarf. "I don't care what it is, Alex but make it hot!"

He had his coat off and most of the snow on his pants and boots brushed away. "An hour or two and the coat and rest will be dried." Being he hung them near the hearth to pick up the warmth. Taking the glass offered with a grin, "thanks, I could use this. Can't trust a female with snowballs I found out tonight."  Amusement glinted in blue eyes before he kicked back the burn that would warm his blood like fire searing through. Just in time too as Karina burst through and most likely Vanessa in her wake.

Vanessa helped Karina up then turned to follow and make a not so graceful run towards the tavern door. Wet and cold with snow in places it shouldn't be, but laughing still as she came in the door right on her friend's heels. She stopped long enough to shake out the length of the coat and skirts beneath to get rid of the snow and kick it from her boots before entering and closing the door. Red cheeks, red nose, chattering teeth all went with a bright smile. "I second that!" To Karina's greeting of Alex.

"With snowballs." He repeated, low, then turned as the two came in, raising his voice. "And snow lasses." Since he had warned Alex, they wouldn't have to wait long. "It seems the predictions about the weather being snowy this year were right." He would wait to retrieve another drink.

"We're off to a good start. Soon there will be enough for the dragon run to be made." An obvious connection and where his mind was presently still.

"Shyte, it is bloody freezing!" In her exhilaration she forgot her language, but she was grinning all the while. Off came her scarf, which took a minute because of all the wrappings, then her coat and a long wool sweater that had been layered under that. All of those damp items were hung up over a chair which she dragged close to the hearth's drying flames. Now in her long-sleeved woolen dress (with pants and boots worn beneath) she tromped over to the bar.  Rubbing her numb hands together all the way! "Hiya Eion," she greeted the Quinn, "and Segan, was that you out there?"

Vanessa snickered to Karina's outburst. Gloves were removed and pocketed, the coat next and hung up over two hooks to help it dry, then she was enroute to the bar to pick up the drink that waited for her. "Ave, Eion." Greeted happily before grinning to Segan. "It was not nice of you to turn all those kids on me, Segan." Pot, meet the kettle!

"Aye," to Karina. There was something caught in Eion's repeated words that only had him glance his way with an unreadable look, fleeting one at best before he was getting the bottle of potcheen to refill his glass. He was going to need a couple of these as the next dram went down smooth to follow the other. Another poured as well another glass which he was back around to offer to Eion. "I think if the two ladies could have ganged up on me and left me a shivering icicle pelted into the snow they would have." He had not hit either directly, just hitting an object near to have it splatter on them. "They are unmerciful beasts at heart.." grin surfacing with a spark in blue eyes, "I do believe it was you that tried to turn the whole gang on me.. telling them I had something I had not. If anything you are the one that could be considered candy for them to devour.." let her argue that!


Karina glanced between the two of them at the playful bickering, grinning, casting a wide smirk over to Eion above their heads. And then Alex delivered a steaming cup of... hot cocoa! "Ahh, Alex you are a saint..." A happy sigh as she wrapped her chilly fingers around the mug.

"Evening, Vanessa, Karina. Bound to get worse following the new year." Which had him look thoughtful briefly before he headed to the bar to get another glass. He moved back to the window and watched the teens running around. "I think they're still looking for the three of you." He did give Karina a slight smile when he caught her look.

Jaw dropped with a fake gasp at "Such accusations!" Whatever laughter would have been followed was silenced with a drink of warm cider, which was reveled in and held between both hands to collect the warmth. "I'm not nearly sweet enough to be considered candy. I'm just the strange bird lady." The name apparently had stuck and though she knew who had started that, for the life of her she couldn't remember a name.

He glanced out the window, "most likely until someone else comes along and becomes their prey. At least Concessa is bigger this year to give them back as good as they can give. Although they will gang up on her, we should warn her to take the back way unless with a few others."

"Bruce and them boys are bad news," Karina smirked wryly, shaking her head before taking another deep sip of cocoa. She'd tussled with them before although she wondered if they'd recognized her tonight.

A grin was lifting again, "be it heard tonight that Vanessa has admitted to being the strange bird lady, starting her own rumor!" Then a consideration of Karina's comment. "They will pick on the wrong person, one of the elementals say, and will learn a lesson they'll not forget."

Vanessa just offered a lopsided grin to Segan's comment and shrugged. Not a name she'd given herself, but she might as well go with it. It was true enough.

"If she'll listen. I ... " He paused as the kitchen door swung open and the Irish wolfhound pup he had gotten from the kennels came charging out, all feet, legs and ears. The pup had been visiting Hazel and her dog, Candy.  The wolfhound skittered, slipped and slid over to Eion, near knocking him over. "Anlan, ye great omadon." He scolded, hiding his grin as he leaned over to ruff the oversized pup up.

Amergin, who'd shaken himself off at the door and then skipped over to lie down in front of the hearth, jumped up as the other canine came charging into the room. The half-grown husky let out a deep bark (or as deep as his puppyish voice could manage) but then went skipping cautiously towards the wolfhound to sniff. Karina grinned, "Looks like he wants to make friends..." Another gulp of cocoa as feeling began returning to her fingers, toes, and nose.

He had drawn closer but certainly his words would be heard by all as he would wait to see if he could elicit a blush upon her fair cheeks as that of the cold had subsided. "Maybe you will be known as the Avian Goddess instead."

There might have been a blush...hard to say since her cheeks were red from cold first, now blushed from the contrasting warmth, but the smile would say it all. "Strange bird lady gives me more room to be my clumsy self."

"Ah, but that very ideal you have can be debated. You are as graceful as the creatures you care for. As surely as the eagle glides your steps about your duties would rival. I have watched you about your work a number of times I have come to your domain." The cottage and avian cages were like a world set apart from the norm and she the life at its center.

Well, if her cheeks could turn even more red, they did. What could possibly be said to something like that? "Perhaps it is only when you're around, for if you ask the birds they would tell you another story."

Karina just looked between Segan and Vanessa, a smile growing on her lips. But she pressed those lips together and discreetly moved away, carrying her mug over to where Eion was with the pups. She sat down on the floor nearby, crossing her legs beneath her comfortably. A grin cast over her shoulder, then she murmured something for Eion's ears.

"Aye, it does at that." The pup immediately danced around the husky pup, tail wagging madly. He was used to the other pups in the household so there'd be no problem from him. He was crouched down still, so he could hear Karina easily enough. Which had a low grunt in answer.

"The blush upon your cheeks attest to my words as being true for certainly you would pale if they had not been." Giving her a wink as he would not keep it up presently, they were chasing Karina away for starters. "Come warm yourself by the fire." As he headed in that direction, glass in one hand, bottle in the other. He stopped by his brother to top off his glass.


He stood as Segan approached and held out the glass, then downed it by half.



Date: 12-01-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 6

She just looked at him with a grin still before following towards the fire to claim a seat. "I'm not sure I could pale more than my complexion is naturally." Not going to admit defeat! Eased down onto a seat, she looked to Eion. "It is nice to see you again, Eion. It's been a while." Week or so, at least.

Karina just smirked to herself again as the curmudgeon only grunted, but he wouldn't dissuade her from her theory. She grinned up at both Segan and Vanessa as they came over to join them, from her seat on the floor. Her mug safely put on a table out of the way, she continued rough-housing both puppies whenever they came near. Generally though they couldn't be bothered, busy as they sniffed and play-nipped at each other.

To him it was settled, no argument based on facts. Though he didn't pursue the issue, instead taking a seat on one of the wingbacks. Legs stretched out as he slouched back into a lazy lounge. Drink kicked back and another poured. He went quiet.

It might be more discerning had Karina seen his face but he carefully made sure he was expressionless when he looked up again. "Aye, it has. You've been well I take it."

"I have, thank you. The gardens are almost finished for the children's event. All that's left is to make up a place for the children to meet with Santa." Which had her smiling again.

"And they look wonderful," Karina piped up from the floor. She'd been by the gardens only this morning, and they were a veritable winter wonderland. Just like the pictures of the North Pole in the book that Vanessa had lent her.  Speaking of... "Oh, Vanessa! I'm sorry... I meant to give that book back to you." She didn't want her friend to think she'd stolen the book. Which wouldn't exactly be beyond the realm of possibility for her, would it.

"Did you enjoy it?" Her smile turned to Karina, hoping she'd found some enjoyment in the book even if it was a children's book.

And there went the rest of the drink. "Aye, well, hopefully they'll not find him lacking." To be honest, he wasn't sure if he could do the whole jolly bit. Even if Concessa had threatened him with Gran.

Just have to get some good spirits in him! "I'm sure they won't." A reassuring smile, she took another drink from her mug. "I'm sure he won't be lacking. He'll have the visual of his elves in stretch tights."

"Oh.... yeah." She gave a crooked smile, hoping Vanessa wouldn't ask any specifics about the stories themselves. She could only glean so much of it from the pictures. "The pictures were real nice." Lopsided grin, and she rose to jog up the stairs to get the book from her room. Taking the stairs two at a time as always.

At least there was one in the family that could worm her way into Eion's heart, the youngest with the oldest. "Did you see the skirt on Concessa's outfit? Grans is adding a better length to it."

"I did and told her if she didn't make herself look older, I'd say she's Santa's daughter. Just what we need, Santa robbing the cradle."

Karina caught that just as she came trotting back down the stairs, and let out a laugh. "Oh that is just wrong Eion...." And she went over to Vanessa, offering the book out to her friend carefully. Her fingers lingered on the leather and parchment for a few moments. It was the first book she'd ever really been able to hold and admire. "Thanks, Vanessa..."

"I'm sure she will see to your wishes being you expressed them. She adores you, Eion." Wondering if he knew that about their little sister. It went with reason. He could be jealous over the idea but he chose not to. While Grans was at extending the length of their little sister's outfit, he was having her make the tunic longer to cover up where those stretchy elf pants fitted too well over legs and hips. Made him look like one of those professional ice skaters.

She took the book back while snickering softly to Eion's comment. The snicker was silenced though to Segan's words. Might have been funny to see if it wasn't for the small children!

It would have Vanessa red as a beet the whole night NOT trying to look at him.

His expression softened slightly but he shook his head. "She didn't look too adoring when I said that."

Tch..should see her elf costume!

"I can see her now, she gave one of those pouts where her bottom lip sticks out in a cute way. One you usually give in to unless a serious matter. She will comply, probably didn't think of it as robbing the cradle being you're her brother." Which kind of made it worse didn't it!

Which had Karina wondering aloud... "What sorta thing should I be wearing? Something like those pictures?" Her nose wrinkled as she asked it, recalling the costumes she'd seen in the book.

She nodded to Karina. "Aye, but you don't have to wear tights. You can wear trousers instead if you want. As long as you look like an elf."

"Hrmmm." She'd have to spend some time concocting something. Her brow still furrowed as she admitted, "I'm not too much of a sew-er...."

"Oh, so we can wear trousers?" With a glance whipped Vanessa's way. "I'll alert Grans." He was sure he could come up with some green trousers. Maybe Mister Green Jeans style.


"I'll pay to have your costume made." Seemed fair since the whole thing was her idea. Which reminded her to ask how much the Quinn's costumes to reimburse for what they spent.
Then a nod given to Segan. "Aye."

"Oh nonono." That's not what she'd meant! She waved her hands and shook her head. "You don't haveta do that. I'm sure I can put something together." It might look like a piece of patchwork but the kids would never notice.

A tilt of her head, she smiled. "The idea was mine, I should pay for it." That's how Vanessa saw it.

The one saving grace is all this was his face would at least be hidden behind the beard, mustache and wig.

She would find the Quinn brothers saying they put their outfits together through their grandmother and Aunt Chandra, both who knew how to sew after the initial one made by the tailor in town. They could be as stubborn as she.

Vanessa already knew they had their outfits tailored. Segan told Vanessa he'd picked them up from the tailor. So there.

He'd word his way around it!

He can try!

He does all the time with her! It was becoming a practiced art.

Then she'll just go to the tailor!

"Nah, you shouldn't." She straightened her shoulders a little, and tossed her hair over her shoulder with a determined air. "I want to try to do it myself."

A nod was given to Karina. "Alright, but if you have any troubles, let me know?" She didn't mind helping out.

He had also thought about backing about, but that minx of a sister of theirs knew it somehow and threatened him again!

"I will." She grinned a bit as she rumpled Amergin's fur. "Careful though. I may be knockin' on your door at midnight the night before, fingers pricked to death by needles and a costume that looks like a five year old made it."

"That's fine." She laughed quietly. "We'll just stay up with hot chocolate and sewing needles."

"The more homemade they are the better I'm thinking." More mussed to himself as a straying glance settled on his brother.

"Perhaps. Maybe we'll have a good mix of both." Book set aside, she finished her drink and settled back in her seat.

"You will be dressed as an Elf as well? Color coordinated with Karina?" Slight smirk with a glance her way then back to Eion, "your outfit is a given. Has Gran come up with the wig and beard yet?" They could always borrow one from the theater as most likely the Valdez family has such wigs handy.

"I will be dressed as an Elf, not sure if it will coordinate with Karina's." She already had her costume finished.

"What's yours like?" She asked Vanessa, craning her neck upward to glance to her friend. Maybe that would give her some ideas to start with.

"Aye, she has though the gods know where she found it. And she was going on about my having the right color eyes for it."

"That's what I thought when I asked you to be Santa." She smiled and looked to Karina. "Mines red with a knee length skirt and belted tunic, and fuzzy trim in green."

"It's supposed to be red and green, right?" Karina pondered her limited resources. Maybe she could patch together some of her old clothes into something wearable. "Maybe I'll make mine mostly green then, and trim it in red and white..."

"Aye." She nodded to Karina. "Traditional Yule colors, but you can add other colors if you want."

"Hmm." Think, think. Karina went quiet as she pondered, still petting Amergin and the wolfhound pup too when he came near enough. Her eyes drifted to the window, where snow was falling again.

And he thought Santa should have kinder eyes. Anlan was settling down so he'd accept petting and scratching. After another drink, he looked at Vanessa a long moment. "Vanessa, why exactly did you pick me? I'm not what you'd call the friendliest man around. I'm not even sure how good I am with children who aren't training to be knights."

Blink...she looked at Eion for a moment looking for the right words. Of course, she'd never lie to him. "Honestly...because you're the only person I know who doesn't smile. I thought perhaps the happiness of children might rub off on you." was a little more complex than that...that was the simple version. She took a soft breath. "I hoped that perhaps that night you would return to the manor or the knights hall with your own sense of joy. A child's smile has that effect on people."

Which he stayed quiet, very, very quiet as he listened to both question and response. Hardly any movement as to not disturb even the air around him.  Like when he goes wabbit hunting. So tempted to say something, that if little Concessa could affect the eldest, grumpy brother so should little children with their innocent faces lit up to see Santa.

He studied her for a long moment before looking down at his glass. "Be nice if it were that easy, wouldn't it?" It needed a refill so he looked for that bottle. If it was empty, he'd be going for another. Concessa was their sister. She was different.

Meanwhile Karina seemed off in her own little world just watching the snow fall outside, a hand absently lain on Amergin's back.

The bottle was half full, from the optimist.

"You won't know until the night comes, now will you?" She offered Eion a small smile before picking up her mug and standing to take it to the bar.

Then it be a little less full when he was done.

Time would tell just how hardened Eion's heart had become if the rug rats couldn't penetrate that rugged cast over it. He sat up to refill his glass once Eion was done with the bottle. "Are all the decorations up now or is there still more to be done, Vanessa?" Blue eyed glance her way as eyes held while he finished up with his glass to lift away full again.

She debated a moment another mug of cider or taking her leave for the night before turning to Segan. "Everything is done except the cottage. With the exception of what you started and what I could reach yesterday."

"Then I shall come by early, during daylight, to help finish it up." Smile tucked as he sat back some, eyes still held until he kicked back the shot.

That look was held for a moment with a subtle nod. "I look forward to it. It shouldn't take long." The mug set down with a small lean against the counter.

He was back at the window, watching the snow fall. Rubbing his eyes a moment, he glanced at Segan and Vanessa in the window's reflection then looked out again. The frown deepened. "You know, I think the snow is coming down harder."

Karina's legs were starting to get cramped up sitting on the floor, so she stood, stretching for a moment. Then she reached for her mug, and carried it with an unhurried stride over to the window as well. She gave Eion a little tentative grin before reverting her gaze outside. He was right; the snowfall was coming heavier, making any shapes difficult to see. Just a couple random gentlemen going down the street. Karina's eyes narrowed slightly as she leaned closer to the windowpane.

Which would distract him. "I will make sure to head for the manor tonight as we'll be doing shoveling come tomorrow morning for Grandmama. After seeing Vanessa home safely," which would be a given with her permission when it reached that time. A time that would be coming all too soon. "At least you don't have to go back out into it, Karina." Flashing a smile her way.

Pretty sure the time had come. She was tired and ready to go home for the night. She wouldn't rush Segan though. "Whenever you are ready." Light smile given to him then to Karina. "Lucky indeed."

"Hm?" She only tore her eyes away when she heard her name, casting a distracted glance over her shoulder. But the smile wasn't returned, rather she had a frown furrowing her brows. "Actually, I think I'm goin' out." Back over to the hearth, she reached for her sweater and jacket and scarf, starting to layer up again quickly. The clothes were still a little damp but they'd have to do.

He was up as he'd have to collect his cloak, scarf, hat and gloves as he checked them to make sure they were dry. They were after all this time. A brow lifting as Karina planned to go out. "At least the lads are home by now so they wont be bothering you." Too young to stay out for they were of families in the area. Most around thirteen-fourteen. A little older and they would have been flirting with Vanessa and Karina.

He nodded at Karina then looked over his shoulder at Segan. "I'll be there as soon as I'm able tomorrow. Good night to you all." He glanced at Karina a brow lifting but said nothing.

A wave was given to Eion as she moved to collect her coat. "Be safe, Eion." Her coat pulled on and fastened, she then pulled her gloves out to put on and smiled to Karina. "There will be another snowball fight soon."

"...Right." Another delayed reaction, she gave a brief half-smile though didn't seem to have really heard him. Sweater on, jacket buttoned up, she was still wrapping her scarf as she strode purposefully to the door.

Are you staying at the barracks tonight then, Eion?" To be certain that was his meaning or he planned to take a longer way back as he tended to contemplate a lot.

"The barracks tonight, aye. I'll be on the field come dawn as always." He made a motion toward the window. "That won't be stopping us anymore than rain does."

"Amergin, stay." She said in an undertone to the pup, who reluctantly but obediently laid back down. "Right." She answered Vanessa as well. Same tight smile, she lifted a hand in farewell and stepped out the door. Just a second later she was hurrying down the street and would soon be lost to sight in the snow.

"I might head there tonight then," they had that talk and he was accepted in for over the winter months so now he would find out they practiced no matter.

She watched Karina go as she pulled the fur lined hood up over her head and smirked. Looking to Segan. "You know you don't have to walk me to the cottage if you would rather walk with Eion."

"I will see you to the cottage. Eion is welcome to join us but you will be seen home for the distance in this weather." Karina made it a choice to go out into it and by her look she had trouble on her mind to get into. Or so it seemed to him. Exactly what, he was not sure.

That had Eion nearly chuckling. "I think he'd rather walk with you, lass." He watched out the window a moment, then grabbed his cloak. "I'll talk to you soon." He might be following the trouble seeking lass.

Grin given to the brothers, she waited for Segan's ready before reaching for the door and waving to Alex, then stepped outside.

He was to the door with a wave to Alex near in unison and held for his brother if he was ready. Closed off by the last one out.

He'd wait for Vanessa to step out first before heading down the steps, the pup on his heels.



Date: 12-29-09
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 7

At the Smithy

The wind swept outside with snow coming down sending it in spiraling vertigo effect to the ground. Most were huddled within the shops or homes and those out were dressed accordingly, bundled up. All except one whose stone porch was where the fires in the furnace were kept. Late night but he was working on another steel skeleton for the Rollers being made. Shirtless with only a bib over bare skin for the heat and in fact the wintry wind a relief in keeping him cooler. Cloth band tied around his forehead to keep any sweat from his eyes as he worked, sparks flying as the hammer kept coming down repetitively as he shaped the pieces that would make the Y shape harness between Roller and horses.

Much as Karina loved the Gardens and spending time with Vanessa, sometimes a girl just needed a little space to think. So she'd bundled up, grabbed her husky and headed out for a long walk. Or in Amergin's case, a romp in the snow. The quickly-growing husky was in heaven, diving into snowdrifts and snapping his jaws at the snowflakes falling down. She had his leash in her pocket but he was well trained enough now to not really need it. So she strolled along a few yards behind the canine, hands buried deep into her pockets against the chill. A crimson dress with a modest laced-up neck was worn beneath her long coat, the new boots from Segan keeping her feet warm. Scarf wound around her neck and a floppy wool hat on her head, which did little to restrain the coppery ringlets spilling out from beneath it to fall past her shoulders. Lost in thought, it was the sound of clanging steel that drew her attention and made her realize she'd wandered up towards the Smithy. Seemed a strange coincidence, remembering what Concessa had told her last night, but now that she was here there seemed to be little excuse. Still a ways off, she paused to watch out of the corner of her eye while Amergin stopped for a little piddle break.

Rhett was muscular in a pleasing way. Iron bands of the smithy, something that seemed to go with the trade. All the hard work and the glow of the fire under such heat leaving a sheen. The steel piece was doused in water as he lifted it with a tong fork instrument. The motion had muscles flex as it took two hands then laid back on the table as he wiped his hands in the apron part of the bib, drawing it up to wipe over his face before released. Pants worn were of wool with lined boots lacing up to under his knees. He knew not to stay out too long as he set the damper on the fire before heading in to get his shirt. Door was left open to what was a shop just within. Swords hung on the walls with shields between. Daggers and head pieces set upon tables along the walls under the hung items. There was a very large table in the middle that now contained the sections for the steel frames being made.

Karina only dared a peek here and there.... though she could have happily stared for minutes at a time. It wasn't what you'd call an unpleasant sight to say the least. Realizing that Amergin had already started to scamper off, she gave a low whistle to make him come along and headed up to the Smithy door. Pausing in the porch area, she looked around curiously before peeking in the door. Leash taken from pocket she tied Amergin off to a post by the door, long enough so that he could be near the warmth, though with his thick fur and Northern breeding he hardly needed it. Straightening, she again peered around the side of the door before lifting a hand to knock. "Hullo?" Called out to announce herself, not wanting him to know she was spying or anything and knew he was here!

There were stone ledges built around the furnace area where many a tool laid for shaping the steel when being forged. Many hammers of various sizes and shapes. The forge was kept hot at all times though dampened through the night a few degrees. Her voice echoed as there was not a lot of furniture in the large room filled with things he made. "I'll be right with you." Came from somewhere in the back, a door left ajar at the one end. Beyond there was a staircase to a flat upstairs but there were other rooms on the first floor too. He came in a few minutes later, fisherman's sweater tugged on and the worker's bib gone as well the band from around his head. Blue eyes brightened with the pressed smile that always seemed to reach them. He had a pot of gourmet coffee, smelled like vanilla, in one hand and four mugs by the handle in the other. "Would you like some vanilla coffee?"

She ventured inside when his voice called out, spending the moments to look around the place. Her eyes widened a bit in awe, not only at the quantity of metalworks laid about the place, but the quality. She'd wandered over to inspect the filigree on one of the sword hilts when he returned, and she spun to greet him. Her smile returned his a bit uncertainly, eyes falling to the four mugs in his hand. "Oh! Uh... expecting company?" In which case she didn't want to intrude or take any of his delicious-smelling coffee.

"Well, yes. You. As it turned out." Which he seemed pleased with the prospect as he headed over to a small area with a table and chairs. There were also some benches here and there one could sit upon. Where he sat when sharpening the blades of the swords he sold. None were given that final sharpness until bought. "I get ones to stop by, many just to get in out of the cold. I don't mind, breaks up my long nights that I have work that needs to be done." He set the mugs and pot before collecting the dirty ones, checking each as a few were still clean and taking the dirty ones back to where the kitchen was beyond that other door. "You can pour yourself some," letting her know she was welcome to if she wanted something hot. It was tasty she would find. That from beyond the door.

"Oh." She said again, surprised but a bit pleased herself at that response. Following him over to the table, she nodded, about to offer to help collect the dirty dishes but then he was off again. "Thanks," she called out when he'd gone through the door. Pausing to look around a moment more, she then shrugged out of her coat and hung it over one of the chairs, which she then pulled out to sit in. Felt a little strange to help herself with him gone but he'd bidden her to, so... she reached out for the coffee pot, pouring herself some into a mug. She took a moment to just take a whiff of the fragrance before testing a sip. "Mmm." Involuntary sound of appreciation. She'd never thought of adding vanilla to coffee before but the result was amazing.

There were subtle noises, one like something that dropped, another thud and finally Rhett returned. He had combed the unruly mass of auburn tinted hair and put on a bit of a spicy cologne after washing up a bit from all the earlier sweaty work. Last thing he wanted to do was offend her. "Really nice after being out in the cold." Words came clearer as he was back into the room and over to take up a seat at the small table. Once seated he poured a mug, "how have you been? Did you have a nice holiday?" Setting the pot aside as his eyes had flecks of gold in blue that could be seen this close.

She stole a glance or two over her shoulder while he was gone, blinking at the various muted clunks and thuds before letting her eyes casually wander the wares. That is until he returned looking rather cleaned up, and she was aware of her own attire. The color and scooped neck was appealing on her, but she didn't realize that. All she knew was that it was a hand-me-down from Vanessa and a little too big on her thin frame. A couple curls were tucked behind her ear as she answered, "I don't usually like coffee but it's good like this." Another sip, though she lowered the mug when he asked the questions. "It was nice. Really nice." A genuine smile, the rare kind lifted her lips. "The Cottage looked amazing and the kids loved the Solstice event... especially Santa Claus," she added with a little grin. She'd always smile when remembering Eion in that Santa suit. "How about you?"

"Aye, I don't drink a lot of coffee and this is not real coffee as a real coffee drinker has told me. I have tea too. Coffee just seemed more suited for tonight." Why he had the pot of it on. Smile was lopsided as he sat back in a discreet study of her. "Crimson looks good on you as does the dress." Taking his first drink as he needed something to warm his throat. "I enjoyed the Solstice Ball. I think that is the first one I've gone to." Well, it was the first one he had gone to. Same for his brother. "We stayed at Dunshire where the rest of me family lives. Lots of presents, good cheer, singing carols out in the snow until we could sing no more. Hearty feast and far too many snacks, candy and the like as we ate until we felt like we'd explode. I've been working on the Roller project with Eion, Raphael and Lancely for the past week and will take another two weeks to finish the rest of them," giving a slight lift of his chin in the direction of the table were many parts laid in wait.

A low snicker to the comment about it not being real coffee as she wondered just what constituted 'real' and 'not real'. At the compliment though her cheeks flushed to match her dress, and while her lips crept upward she didn't know what to say. Luckily he soon went on and she was able to smile again as she listened. "That sounds grand." She knew he had a large family which probably added to the chaos, as well as the fun of the season. She could just picture it and it was a happy sort of image. She bobbed a nod as he went on about the Roller. "Eion actually let me drive it last night. I felt.. very powerful up there," she admitted with a little grin. "It's an amazing contraption. You lot did a good job." Eion had also mentioned that there would be other small Rollers to take care of the more narrow streets. "You're building 'em quick too, just how many more are you making?" Another sip of the yummy coffee.

"Black. Thick. Bitter brewed beans with nothing else added. Manly stuff." For the low snicker as he caught on and clarified. Well, Rhett didn't feel coffee made the man. Near dying for his country and allies did. The pressed smile turned into a full one with the show of white straight teeth a moment. "It's incredible isn't it. Eion should be right proud of his invention and how well it works. It cuts down the time of cleaning the streets by days." Then to answer the last question, "Four for here then two each for Tyremoor and Ballicastle. If we have time then two, one of each size, for Kildare. We have two large ones completed and two small ones. Couple more weeks and the rest will be done. Worse of the snow has yet to come."

His tone of voice at the description of 'manly' coffee drew a brief giggle from her which was smothered behind a sip from her mug. "You should be proud too..." She ventured, large blue-green eyes lifting to his with an awry smile. "Eion said you did all the metalwork and that's a big part of it." Wow, she hadn't imagined they'd be building THAT many more. "It's become a pretty big project." Not missing that comment about there being more snow coming which made her wince internally. Yeah... worst time ever to be traveling but what choice did she have? But their conversation was so nice and relaxed she didn't want to mention it just yet.

"I am proud to work alongside one such as Eion." Blue eyes locked with blue green in a somewhat curious way as one getting to know another slowly. Usually it came with conversation, no matter the topic and all those things read under and in between. "Aye, that is the part I am best at. Raphael is amazing as a wainwright and fashioning it all together. Eion the inventor, Lancely helping with the grunt work as he is use to putting contraptions together. I make what they have needed in the past." A few of them worked hand in hand and in the process a bond in friendship developed no matter their ages. More in they didn't look down upon him for his age but treated him with equal respect. "Have you seen the Gauntlet and Water Gauntlet Lancely made or all the wagons and horse drawn sleds Raphael built?"

Clearly it was a team that worked, as evidenced by the Roller and other such successful projects. She gave a half smile then nodded to his question. "Aye, I rode in one of his sleds last night from the Thistle back to the Gardens. I haven't seen the water gauntlet yet but I've heard a lot about it." Lots of stories about those who competed, most of them amusing. "I wouldn't mind trying them out sometime..." Another semi-shy sort of grin, for while she loved trying new things she was hardly a warrior or the sort that she imagined usually competed in Gauntlets. She could wield her boot dagger well enough but that was about it. Another sip of coffee. "I uh.. enjoyed the Solstice Ball too." He'd said that earlier in the conversation but, better late than never? "Thanks for risking your toes to teach me to dance." The grin was expanding on her lips though her vivid gaze left his briefly before lifting again.

"You plan on staying then? In the spring you can test it out up close and personal. That one is a lot of fun and not as dangerous as the other but even with the other you are well padded before going onto it. The aim is not to maim anyone but a test of skill. Lancely is a bit of a devil for he keeps changing the timing so no one can ever beat it every time. The idea is that is how life is, no matter what you accomplish, another time it will look the same but will be different. I can say the same for dancing as it was probably the first time I danced with anyone other than me Ma or sisters." Pressed smile seemed to be steady as he continued to watch her. "You danced good."

She gave a slight shrug about the question of staying, parting her lips to answer but chose to just listen instead as he went on. That seemed like an appropriate metaphor, the unpredictability of the Gauntlet. Much of life was a test and a challenge, even a grueling and painful one and nobody could ever know what was coming next. Scary, but part of the fun of it too. She was mulling that over until he brought up the Ball again and his comment drew a snicker from her lips. "Now you're just being nice. I danced like a drunken goose." She didn't say it to lure out more compliments, that much was clear by her easy laughter at herself. She knew she'd been a bit clumsy at least at first.



Date: 12-29-09
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 8

"Drunken goose," repeating it for it had him laughing. "Except you didn't look drunk nor a goose that night. You look real good in a dress." Probably as he got older he would become more smooth in his compliments. Like you were as graceful as a swan and just as elegant. "Where do you hail from and where is it you want to be one day if not here?" Rhett faced death, more than faced it, he was dead but was brought back through the rare gifts of two others. He had met his grandparents on the other side, coming back knowing things he would never have known otherwise. More than that, as he would gradually discover, touched as much as he'd been there and of the unusual gifts of the two, it had opened him up to things that would gradually become part of him too.

And maybe as she got older she'd learn how to NOT go all pink and tongue-tied at compliments from handsome men. But as it was... when he said she looked good, she flushed again and dropped her eyes, not flirtatiously but out of mild embarrassment. Or maybe because subconsciously she knew her eyes were sparkling, pleased he hadn't been put off by her inexpert dancing. The next round of questions though brought her crashing back down to earth. "Big questions..." A slight laugh as she paused, not angry, but just in thought. "Well I'm from a tiny" (horrible) "place just north of Kildare. And one day...." She'd never really thought any farther into her future than the next day. Her head tilted to the side for a moment, then her gaze returned to him with a shrug and slight smile. "Well, anywhere is better than there. And I like it here in Heathfield." The smile grew a bit. "Don't see any real reason to live anywhere else."

"Aye, they are big questions but the kind of answers a friend should know." Least in his mind to allow their friendship to become more substantial. How embarrassing if after spending months around one, you found you knew practically nothing substantial about them at all? "Places north of Kildare are pretty rough. Lot of killing, thieving, outbreaks of strange carnivorous animals. Some that got away from the Witch. Blood curdling things." So he was reflecting on what he heard about the forest that was at the northwest tip of Kildare and who knew if it went beyond into the unknown territory above. "If you stay here, you'll be safe. You have made many friends and if there is something you ever dreamed of doing, those here would try and help you realize that dream. Is there something or have you not really thought about what you wanted to do with your life when you grow up. Cause..." and here the usual pressed smile split into a full one, "you are just about all growed up."

"Aye, I know," she muttered more under her breath when he listed off all the awful things north of Kildare. She was well aware but had no desire to talk any more on that. She shifted a bit in her chair, reaching up to scratch beneath her curls as he went on. Again referring to her life, her future... things which had always seemed so hazy and uncertain before, it was odd to hear anybody suggesting possibilities to be found. Teeth came down to lightly bite her lower lip as she tried to work out how to answer. But his final comment was what brought her gaze back to him and the smile back to her lips, this one with a smirk about it. "Ah.. I wouldn't say that." She teased back with a lopsided grin before going on with more gravity. "I've never really thought about it, to be honest. What to do with my life, where to go... there was never much choice about that before." A small shrug as she realized she was speaking far more frankly and openly than usual and went quiet for a moment.

The biting of her lower lip had focus shift down to there a moment. "How does it taste?" Teasing her as eyes lifted and the press of a smile to follow again. The last had him cock his head to the side as he studied her seriously. "Well, you do to me but I'm only eighteen. Almost nineteen come spring. Far as choices, maybe you didn't' have them before but you have them now." Kind of thing that came with growing up.

Blink back up to him at the unexpected question, but she quit biting her lip when she realized he was teasing and snickered a bit instead. "Aye... I have choices now." She echoed on a murmur. "Well, I'm seventeen... but sometimes I feel ten years old... and sometimes a hundred." A quirky grin as she tilted her head, and ventured to meet his eyes with clear turquoises of her own. "I know it sounds silly but do you ever feel that way?"

A shadow crossed his features with his first look away for a moment as his mind transcended on a thought then was back. "Sometimes I feel very ancient and that what childhood I knew in innocence of the real world shattered that day I died on the field." Something he didn't admit to too many. His brother Douglas knew as well his father. He had spared his mother so she would not worry more than she did already on him. Of course both Sir Trevor and King Leoric knew for it was those two working together that brought him back from the dead. Trevor to heal like no other being an earth elemental and Leoric a druid like his older brother Andrew, led him from the shadows of death back in a way he would never have found on his own. "It doesn't sound silly at all to me. At least you can still feel like you are ten."

It had begun as a jest but there was truth behind it too, and her own eyes clouded over as she watched him. His words were dark, but not enough to make her flinch away. Instead her brows drew together as she just listened and wished she could somehow reach out. Or tell him that she knew exactly, exactly how he felt. Only she hadn't died on a battlefield but a much baser place. Her smile was weak when it returned with a shake of her head. "I'd rather not. Ten wasn't good. Ten was..." weak, beaten, frightened, helpless? "..I think I'd rather feel a hundred." She was trying to catch his eyes now, shadows and all. "At least then I'd have the excuse to be crabby and yell at kids to get off my damn lawn." An attempt to bring a smile back to his face that hopefully wouldn't backfire and make him angry or sad instead.

"Well, there is something to being a hundred or ancient, maybe wisdom comes through disappointments, discouragement and so on. The fact is, both you and I are here today and we have choices. Choices that will be wiser dealt with than when we were ten and help to avoid heartache and if not, maybe stronger to weather them. There will be more I'm sure but there will be more good moments too, both better when shared with friends. Both better getting through with others at your side and if some of them go, then others will come." He was starting to ramble as he sometimes got and ended with pressing his lips together to stall any more words that would otherwise trip past his tongue and aired. "Ornery has its merit." Staying the few last didn't work.

She'd noticed his tendency to ramble but... somehow it was rather, well, charming. She dipped her head to hide a smile at the thought, but nodded to acknowledge his words as true. It was a new way of thinking for her but now that she was learning how to trust others as friends... she could almost fully believe it. "Hopefully more wisdom than ornery-ness." She looked up again to offer a soft teasing smile. "And more friends who stay than those who go." She'd drink to that, with a small sip from her mug whose contents were dwindling. Her fingers absently traced along the rim once she'd lowered the mug. "..But sometimes.. no matter how much you want to get away from it, how much you run from it, the past can still reach out to grab you, ya know?" Not quite rambling but she was suddenly speaking a bit more quickly. A breath to slow herself down. "What I mean is - well, part of why I came by tonight was, I figured I'd mention to you any ways..." Ahh kay, now she really WAS rambling too. A glance outside, where she saw that Amergin had curled up near the furnace and gone to sleep. "...I'm goin' back to where I'm from for a little while. Soon."

"Aye, ornery-ness can get you into a lot of messes." Which she was met in kind, smile that reached his eyes. "We can always hog tie our new friends to make them stay." That would go over real well but it was an amusing thought and even visualization. Lifting his glass in kind as he finished what was left before it was cold. "Yes it can so the only thing is, you got to be prepared for it. Face it head on and kill all your demons so you don't have to keep looking over your shoulder wondering when they will attack. No matter how much you can watch, you know they will always get you when least expected until you face them. Keep what is good from the past, that which doesn't cause you pain, learn from the rest then throw it away so it doesn't hinder your future." Pausing with a nod as blue eyes kept their hold. "Because you need to." All that needed to be said, he understood. Then to be sure instead of only assuming, "you're coming back.." almost a statement in truth.

He was talking alot again, but his words struck home and made plenty of sense, again. Drawing a breath, she brought her eyes up to meet his and only nodded tightly with a small smile to his words of advice. He was absolutely right. Easier said than done, but he was right, and her determination to make this her last trip north was renewed. She couldn't help a moment of surprise as he instinctually understood why she was going, far more immediately than the others had. "Aye...because I need to." Holding his eyes for a moment before she nodded again. "Yes, I'm coming back. Come hell or high water," she added with a little grin even though both seemed possible, metaphorically speaking. Her eyes shadowed over at the thought and she had to shift her gaze away lest she be called dishonest. Heck... her attempt to sever herself from the past could be dangerous in itself and she fervently hoped she would indeed be coming back. In one piece too.

"You will then. You're a natural survivalist. A scrapper as they would say in Eire. I would guess you've seen both hell and high water more than many in these lands." This place was a safe haven for those that had been through hell and where to raise one's children in safety, well as safe as life allowed. Living was never totally safe for death had its own rule beyond those of man adding to it. "If you needed help you know there are a few here that would but I think this is something you have to do on your own and I or anyone else can only hope for the best. It would upset me if you didn't return and return safe." Perhaps more mature, a little wiser and lighter in the weight she carried. It was there, elusive but there. Seen in the way she averted her gaze from him at certain times.

Oh it was there, a six-ton weight always on her back but she was careful to walk with straight shoulders nonetheless. His words did lend her some courage and brought a little smirk to her lips. Scrapper, that was one she'd heard before. Another small nod as well as silence was her answer to his saying she'd seen plenty of hell, more eloquent than words could have been. Besides she got the feeling he understood without words. It was strange that he guessed she had to do this on her own... that was something she'd been about to say herself. So she just nodded instead. Then dared a glance up as he concluded. A small shift in cadence of her heartbeat as she just smiled softly at him a moment. "Well... I'll miss everyone here. So I'll try to get back as soon as I can."

He jumped to his feet as he near forgot. "I have to pick up the meat for me Ma at Ham's place. Frasier." A blink in a quick look towards the partially open door and darkness beyond. "Come walk with me?" He didn't wish to run out on her but he had promised and now near forgetting. Ham should still be open. "When do you go?" Collecting his cloak as he would need it beyond his smithy.

Blinkblink, that was sudden! She jumped a bit herself as he leapt up but as he spoke, she was getting to her feet too with one hasty last sip of coffee. "Oh, um..." A glance outside too but it wasn't too late so, "Alright." She was pulling on her coat as she followed him to the door. "In a week or so. Soon as I have supplies and such together." Unclipping Amergin's leash would rouse the sleepy puppy, who'd romp alongside them to the butcher's.

"You need anything, you let me know? Let me help in that much." He meant his words and Rhett had access to a lot of different things. Holding the door for her until she passed through then locked it up for all the swords inside. A better safe than sorry, not so much those of the lands but those that wandered up from the port from other lands. Even with the troops that constantly patrolled. He would stay close, catch her up if she started to slip in the snow. "Have you been to Ham's yet?" Best meat in town and so the conversation would continue in smaller talk, both knowing a bit more about each other for the other talk.

"I'm not usually one to ask for help..." Then she glanced back up to him with a little grin. "But I will, if I need it. Thanks." Waiting until he was ready before striking off into the snowy night. She hadn't been to Ham's yet, and was happy to let the conversation drift into lighter realms. Even though speaking of heavier things had a cathartic effect... and had left her with a certain sense of clarity about what must be done. But talk about butchers and bakers and such was much more pleasant.

"Good," all that was needed to be said before the pressed smile was in place and he shot ahead, "race you.." not that she knew where she was going but then it was all in fun. Tossing snow her way came next but not in a way to really coat her but teasing. He also threw ones for Amergin who chased them even after they fell, trying to pick up the splatter before darting after another.

Funny how they could go from such serious talk to frolicking in the snow... but it was rather great. A return to the ten-year-old self, leaving behind the centenarian for just a few moments. She let out a yelp of laughter as he took off and was quick to follow, dashing through the snow even as she dodged his snowy missiles. Which would be returned, of course, and with no mercy! Pelting him with snowballs and laughing in between all the way to Ham's.

Date: 01-11-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 9

Quiet Night on the Town

Rhett was out from his smithy, remembering to throw on an appropriate lined overcloak, scarf, cap and gloves so he didn't catch his death of cold. He was out watching them test drive one of the smaller rollers that fitted perfectly in width of the side street. Many of the townspeople were out to watch as the novelty hadn't worn off. There were the dogs to bark and chase but keeping a distance for the size of the barrel. One that was just as high but not as wide as the first one made.

"Amergin!" Not surprisingly, the husky pup was amongst the other local mongrels, joining in the fray as they snapped their jaws at the giant rolling monster. Karina had been out for a stroll and not clipped Amer to his leash before he took off. So she chased him, weaving her way through the crowd, dodging people and ducking under arms nearly as deftly as the pup himself. Breaking through the front line of viewers she gave a sharp whistle, which gave Amer just enough pause for her to dart out and grab him up under her arm. The husky got a scolding for not listening, though she couldn't help but smirk at his dejected expression.

He was laughing at the dogs chasing the Roller but it could become a nuisance too. Especially if one got too close and hurt. He heard a familiar name called out and arm out to steady Karina as she managed to break through the front line where he stood. "Hey there, be careful! As she had gotten too close to the Roller too by capturing the pup. Helping her back a safe distance in guiding.

"Whoops!" Distracted by her pup, she might have lost a toe or two beneath the roller had she not been pulled back by someone. "Tell that to my dog - oh." Which was when she looked up to see that it was Rhett speaking. Cheeks rosy from the run in the cold, a crooked smile surfaced. "Hi there. I shoulda noticed how close I was..." The driver of the roller was glancing back to give her dirty glares, making her look a bit sheepish. "Thanks." She added to Rhett.

"You could have lost your puppy producing equipment there Amergin." Like the dog understood but he understood the tone and whimpered, which in turn had Rhett laugh. Blue eyes lifting to meet those of Karina's, "hi there," repeated back with a press of a smile to follow. The glance had him whip a look to the driver and wave him on that all was all right now. In short, keep his looks to himself. "C'mon, there is a cafe near where we can get a cup of something hot." Hand upon her elbow as he was gently guiding her back from the crowd and away. Once breaking free his hand fell away.

Karina laughed too at the way Amergin whined in response to Rhett's words. Sometimes she could have sworn he understood English better than she did. The laugh broke the awkwardness somewhat even if his suggestion to go somewhere together took her by surprise. Pleasant surprise though. "Oh. Alright... c'mon you, rotten pup," that part was for Amergin of course! Once free of the crowd she set the husky down to walk alongside them. He had fun chasing Rhett's shoelaces for a second. She smirked, watching him, and gave a slight shake of her head. "He usually listens better'n that but there must be somethin' in the air today." Karina was bundled in her new boots (now a little worn from the trip), a floppy dark blue knitted cap and mittens. One of Vanessa's old wool dresses too, the color of dried sage, the modest neckline mostly hidden by her scarf.


"One moment they're rotten and the next they are heroes, such is the destiny of dogs and their masters." Edge of tease laced his words before a surprised, "hey there," came as Amer near tripped him up going for his shoelaces. He was scooped up and under his arm in one swoop as he took a step then continued at a more normal pace. "Place is right around the corner between two other bigger shops." One might miss it if they blinked! Except for those that knew of it. It was frequented often for he had as good if not better, coffee than the Thistle. Baked goods from Teri's shop across the street so they were always fresh and easily acquired if they ran out. A cook in the back made simple meals, kind ones wanted while shopping or otherwise on the move. "I think they wont mind the puppy if you put him on his leash." Hopefully she had a leash with her or they had extra in the shop.

"Don't let him hear any of that hero stuff... he's cocky enough already," Karina snickered at the way Amergin was swooped up by Rhett, the pup of course delighted by it. Karina looked ahead with interest, having never been into this particular shop before. She'd just been about to ask if dogs were allowed inside when Rhett answered the question for her. "Got it right here." The leash which Conor had given her so very long ago was produced from her pocket, and clipped to Amer's collar as he was held by Rhett. "This place as good as that vanilla coffee you made?" She'd dreamed of that coffee during her trip!

The retort brought a press of a smile as he stepped ahead, arm full of pup, to get the door. He was a gentleman much like his father and certainly his mother would insist of her boys. Once inside as well Karina, door shut, he put down Amer as his hand slid to capture the leash. "There's a nice table over there in the corner where they have some plants." Ones that looked like palm trees but were known as false arelia. He had asked for it was a rather interesting tree plant. Amer's claws slid against the tiles of the floor, ones in a mosaic pattern, as he guided them over. Once there he would loop the end over a catch on the table's leg made of cast iron. He'd seen others do this so gave it a try. Crouched down to the task as he looked up her way, "what would you like?" The menu was posted on the wall behind the counter and between tables on the wall.

She would have been drawn to the table by the foliage anyway. "That's the first green I've seen since winter came," said appreciatively as she reached out to touch one of the leaves. Glancing down as Rhett dealt with Amergin she pulled out a chair, plopping down as she started tugging off her mittens, one finger at a time. "Oh! Um...." Just as politeness was as natural to Rhett as breathing it was still a foreign concept when aimed her way. So she stared up at the menu, trying to decide. Not knowing if this place was free like the Thistle was, she decided to go small. "Just a coffee I guess." Seemed logical being as this was a coffee shop.

"Coffee is really good here." It was not free like the Thistle but Rhett had a lot of money, money to spend which he rarely got the chance. He was up and over to hail Jake as he put in an order for the French vanilla coffee and a basket of cheese fried fingers and sauce as a treat. There would be at least ten fat ones that would make them a mini meal. The aroma was intoxicating and had his stomach growling as he waited, taking up a lean that gave him a view of her and Amer as well the owner of the place. About ten minutes later he had the tray with two coffees and the basket, that was covered over in a red checker cloth, in hand. The money to cover the fare was already setting on the counter with a nice tip before he was over to slide it onto their table. "I thought you might like to try these fried cheese fingers to dip in marinated sauce." Taking up the seat across from her, they could nibble at their leisure.

Karina spent the time minding her own business, looking about at nothing in particular as her thoughts wandered. Though her eyes flicked occasionally over to the counter. Having reached down to scratch Amer's ears, she sat up in her chair again when Rhett came back over. "Well I love cheese and I love anything fried.... so sounds good." She was starting to speak more freely around him though the smile which followed was still askew. "I saw that, by the way," she added. Rhett putting the coins on the counter. "So now I owe you coffee or somethin' some other time." Mittens placed on the table, she unbuttoned her coat next though the hat stayed on... a small measure to restrain those coppery curls. The food did smell wonderful, making her realize her hunger where she hadn't before, so reached out to pluck up one of the cheese fingers.

"You don't owe me nothing," and he meant it. "Since when can't I buy a coffee for a friend when I invited them here?" See, he would use logic against her for it was solid. Rhett rarely did anything that didn't have the foundation of logic beneath it. "Although spending time with you in the future is not something I would rebel against." giving her a wink as well the pressed smile bringing about a dimple. He plucked a fried cheese finger up and waved it at her like a sword, "gotta dip it," which he proceeded to do just that into the tangy red sauce then bit off the end. Hand went immediately to fan his mouth a oooo oooo oooo and grabbing a glass of water that had been set out to cool it down.

"Well..." She started to retort but couldn't come up with anything good, at least not after he went on. "Alright then, guess next time I'll have to be the one doin' the invitin'." And paying. His smile was reflected with one of her own which stretched into an easier grin as steam nearly came out his ears. "Oh, is it hot?" She asked innocently even through her snickers. Having watched and learned, she dipped the stick then took a tiny bite off the end. But even that was enough to have her eyes popping and reaching for water too.

"Aye, I binkkk I soocrrrch meeee tonnngue." As he was trying to see it with it stuck out once food was gone. Only felt that way as it would take a few moments for it to be all right. "Cheese sticks are hot." Followed by a big grin that showed the white of teeth for a moment. "So tell me all about your trip. I know it must have been successful in that you came home to us all." He took the moment to remove the Stetson and his scarf, gloves had already been removed when he paid the man.

Watching him goof off had her giggling some. She didn't think she'd ever seen him really act that way before, but it was nice to see. Helped her to relax some too. She grinned back for a second, just before he went on speaking. This time the question about her trip came out of the blue, her mind having been in better places. She gave a shrug, "Not much to tell.." Or more like she wasn't sure how to tell it, or how much. Giving herself time to decide she took another, careful bite. It was chewed and swallowed before she went on. "Successful... yeah." Small smile offered, she took a sip of water. "I ah... was just closin' up some business. Won't have to take any more trips up there anymore." She stopped there again. Part of her wanted to tell all about it, but the instinct for secrecy was so ingrained it stalled her tongue.

"Closing up some business or tying up some loose ends?" There was more to Rhett and she might see that keen glint in blue eyes he most often hid. "Or if you do, might bring along some friends." More a statement than a question. He figured there was a dam good reason she went alone and not in the company of friends or friend even. He could tell she was hedging and didn't press it further. If she ever wanted to tell him more, it would come out. In time. Sure enough there was enough he could talk about if gotten started. He tested the rest of the cheese stick and found it not near as hot, but still good and warm as he dipped it in the sauce to finish off. A bit of coffee would follow.

"Both," she answered, and then couldn't help but let out a snicker. "Doubt they'd be my friends anymore if I brought them there on vacation." A wry smirk which faded away quickly. She was still struggling through that inward debate but would try the coffee in the meanwhile. Mug lifted to her lips, "Mm... this is good," she agreed to his earlier statement on the quality of coffee here. Another sip slurped up before she set the cup down again. Her legs crossed at the ankles, her foot started jiggling beneath the table.

"I'd bet you different." The dare there in his voice and meant. What she might think was so horrible they would turn from her, well, then they didn't make very good friends if they did. He happened to know that they were. Still, he didn't press the dare but would let it linger in her mind to mull over. In fact, he changed the subject. "So, do you want to do more than clean cages at the Avian Gardens," not that he was suggesting she give that up but certainly it didn't take up all her time.

She still had her doubts, but not because she doubted her friends. More because she knew anybody would be put off by a trip to the lovely festering villages north of Kildare. She didn't say anything though, just kept jiggling her foot almost nervously. Who knows if she might have said something more but then Rhett changed the subject. She was mostly grateful for that. "Well..." Now she was looking bashful again, eyes sweeping down as she shoved a curl behind her ear. "I like to draw. I mean, I'm not good or anything, I just doodle with charcoal but... I like it." A half shrug as she reached for more fried cheesy goodness. "Thought maybe I'd do more of that when I can.."

"There's an Art Gallery in the Castle that aspiring artists can show their works, put a price on them to sell too if they want. I haven't seen any of your work, maybe you can show me some sometime?" So he learned something new about her. That was how it was suppose to go, learn about each other and let the friendship grow. "Have you thought about getting a race horse? Douglas and I recently had and I like how it is working out."

"Mm." She hardly expected to ever see her works on the walls of the castle, and for sale at that! She shrugged again but this time it was accompanied by a slight smile. "Sure... if you really want, but don't get too excited 'bout it." Maybe she'd show him the drawing she'd done for Vanessa for Christmas, if he ever came by the cottage again. It looked nicer hanging above the mantle than it ever had on its own. His second question brought out a laugh. "Me getting a race horse? Nope, never thought about it... though I did have fun riding in the race." Pause, and she couldn't resist adding, "And beating everyone." A brief grin at the tease.

"You can tie me to a chair before you show me your artwork." Teasing on the point of not getting overly excited and that would tie him down. "Aye, you did at that. I like being there to see how my horse will do each month. I hear some are going to be turned over so you could get a deal on one and work with the horse." It was an idea, "just another way to make money." Then she could buy things for the house she was sharing with Vanessa or anyone or thing else. It also got her involved. There was a multitude of reasons he suggested it. "The races have a turn over every six months."

"That a promise?" The tease came right back his way along with another little grin. As he went on she reached up to scratch the back of her neck. "I don't know anything 'bout training a race horse..." In truth it was sort of a daunting idea... her owning anything of value. Amergin himself had been enough of a shock. Difficult to envision herself training a winning, valuable race horse. "That's best left to someone who knows what they're doin', don'tcha think?" She was curious about the idea though, that was clear from the spark in her eyes.

"Aye, only if you take advantage of me." He was headed for trouble and certainly a risky step for the quiet, mild manner Rhett. There was more to him too. "I'm new at it but willing to give it a try. I have Rory keep him at his stables for a small fee. You can keep them in your own back yard if you wanted. I think we could go to the Quinn or McDonough ranch and watch how they train them." He was a blacksmith, a forger of blades, not a racing horse trainer. He was willing to learn, that was what life was about and best when you could choose what you wanted to learn.

She just looked at him blankly a second til his meaning filtered in.... bringing a bright flush to her cheeks! "Don't be filthy," she managed to say, halfway between chortling and mortification. Luckily she didn't have to decide which as they got back to the racehorses. "Well.... sounds like somethin' new and different anyway. And nothin' wrong with that." Her tone a bit brighter as the idea began seeming more possible. She had loved riding in that race and always liked being around horses... if she could build up some more funds, why not? It fit into her vow to have a brand new life now, post-Kildare. Certainly something she never could have done before. "Doesn't hurt to try I guess. The horse'll be getting his hay either way, aye?"

Which had him burst into laughter, not just a laugh but many strung together. He had a nice sounding laugh too, rich and thick in tone. "Can't mind a man trying.." still teasing as he reined in his laughter. "Aye, something that would be fun and not get you into trouble." There were many things one could choose to do and usually many of those choices got one in trouble of one kind or another. "Something to think about and I could take you to see Rory's stables if you want. See all those horses we watch pounding the track up close. They all have personalities just like Amergin."

The burst of laughter took her aback - again, just as his lewd comments had. She was starting to think she hardly knew Rhett at all! At the very least... there was a whole other side to him that couldn't be easily guessed. She liked the sound of the laughter though, and a grin crept over her own face as she watched him, brows raised. "Who me? Get into trouble? I'm practic'ly a lady now." She made a show of smoothing her hands over her skirts, though the gesture seemed strange on the former ragamuffin and she was smirking as she gave up the jest. "Sure, I'd like to see the stables. Bet Amer would have fun too chasin' any stable cats that hang around."

"Aye, you are a lady and I should mind me tongue about yea." He had a brogue that came out, Irish accent he picked up from his Ma and Da. "I think Amergin will have a surprise, some of those barn cats are as big as him and more apt you'll see him running being chased by a cat." Which would probably be amusing too.

"Aye. You should." She agreed stoutly, the light of laughter creeping up into her eyes now, illuminating the clear aqua color. "Amer's a baby 'round me but I think he's braver than that... least I hope so." A look cast down to her pup, who lifted his head slightly and cocked his head sideways as if to say, What? She smirked and reached for her coffee again, taking a long sip while it was still warm. A moment taken to soak in the cozy place, its pleasant ambiance, the company, who she glanced back up at. "Y'know, I don't think I'll ever leave Heathfield again." It was declared lightly but had the note of truth about it. There seemed little reason now to ever leave.

He was watching her as he worked on his coffee and the cheese sticks which were much better when not burning his tongue. "Only for good trips." They all took trips as needed sometimes to Ballicastle, Tyremoor or Kildare. Some to Luneberg or Innis Daingneach. Sometimes he went as far north to that infamous tavern just like one went to the circus. Unbelievable things happened there, strange things to see. "I should get you home soon.." it was getting late and he wondered if she needed to be up early.

"Right." She could agree to that. There might be more Balls, after all, which she was secretly looking forward to. His words had her blinking toward the window as she realized the sky had grown dark. She wondered how long they'd been sitting here. "Oh. Right..." Another sip of coffee. "I'm not tired or anything, but aye, you probably want to get back.." Night owl as she was, it was still early for her. But she imagined Rhett was used to a more normal schedule and had to wake up early in the morning.

"Aye, I do have to get up early and continue working. You know your welcome to stop by and watch me if you get bored." Giving her a wink as he was finished with his coffee and cheese sticks. "Want to take the Dragon Run with me sometime?" He had yet to go down it and he was the one who built it, started it those few years ago before going off to battle. He was up to fasten up his coat, put the scarf around his neck, gloves on next and lastly the brown Stetson. There was probably a lot of places Karina hadn't seen yet in these lands, maybe in time she would get to see them. Unique places.

"Maybe I will if Vanessa ever lets me get bored at the Aviary." Little grin as she stood too, tugging on her coat, buttoning it up then pulling on her mittens. "Sure." A bright smile flashed. "I've heard talk 'bout it. Been wanting to try it myself.... though I warn you I might be screaming," just as she had been the first time she'd gone sledding not too long ago. A little grin as she started looping her own scarf about her neck, then reached down to unfasten Amergin's leash.

"I will be sure to wear earmuffs under me knitted cap." Which had the pressed lips in a smile to show before he was escorting her to the door, avoiding getting tangled with Amergin too as the pup had more energy than he at the moment. "You can scream all you want then, that's the fun part of it."

"Good idea." She held the leash tight as Amergin attempted to charge out the door, digging her heels in a quickened jog to keep up. Though she held the door for a second so it wouldn't swing back and take Rhett out. "Aye... that and the rush of wind on your face. I don't think I've ever gone that fast before."

A arm slid about her waist as she would have been pulled forward by Amer. Such a skinny lass that a pup could pull her onto her face if she wasn't careful. Presently that would not happen as he was very strong. He was also warm if she wanted to stay close, he'd not mind as the grip loosen some in case she did mind once they were outside. The snow was falling again but otherwise it was a nice evening for a walk. One not too far yet far enough to enjoy it.


She didn't mind it at all. She was surprised by it.... but didn't mind it. A glance was shot up to Rhett at the grip but she didn't pull away, even when Amergin's initial burst of energy slowed and allowed them to walk at more normal speed. Karina didn't exactly huddle against him but nor did she shy away, and as they walked there was the occasional lean or accidental hip-bump. A lopsided smile would be cast up to him as they went.



Date: 03-18-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 10

At the Smithy: Spring Day

Today was the second day that spoke of spring. Bulbs sprouts had tips making their way up through the ground. The crocus already blooming, some with patches of snow around them. The earth was soggy in a lot of areas, even the fields of dead grass that had new green showing underneath. The area in front of the smithy was clear though water was held in dips forming puddles here and there. The sun still shone down brightly over all beneath as the buds were getting bigger on tree branches and bushes alike. The steady clank of hammer against heated steel could be heard right into the square of which the smithy was a part even if set somewhat apart from the last shop along the walk. Rhett was there, strip of cloth tied around his forehead, shirtless, except for a full work bib, and a sheen of sweat over exposed tone muscles.

Everything about the last couple of days was simply, delicious. The sunshine was clear enough to give the air a hint of warmth, and the whole world smelled of fresh earth and green things. Winter was losing its steely grip on the land and Karina was among those who wouldn't be sorry to see its backside. Everyone seemed to have an extra pep in their steps and a laugh in their voice... it was amazing what the turning of the seasons could do for one's mood. Karina wasn't immune to it either, and the birth of spring had her feeling restless, almost giddy, and wanting to share it with someone. And so today on her lunch break, instead of eating in the cottage as she always did she waved goodbye to Vanessa and walked into town. A small basket held in one hand she strode along til she reached the smithy, the sound of the metalworking telling her that Rhett was there. Instead of going right up she peeked around the corner a moment, watching him work. It brought a little grin to her lips which she quickly squelched, then walked up to the porch, making her presence known. Muddy work boots poked out beneath a simple yellow dress... she didn't usually wear such bright colors but it was just that sort of day. Though he might not even see her at first with all the noise and his absorption in his work.

There were a few young ladies at the end of the walkway of stores, gathered there, eyes bright and one giggling behind her upraised hand as one the others was speaking low. The two of the five watching the young smithy working perhaps in admiration of his skill? When they saw another walking up to the open porch where he stood in front of the forge fire, they turned pretending to be interested in something in the shop window where they stood. It wasn't until Karina stepped up onto the porch that Rhett realized someone was about as the hammer hit molten steel one last time before it was doused in could water. The hiss of steam following as blue eyes were even brighter in daylight and no hat to cover the unruly spiked curls. His smile immediately flashed to the tune of straight white teeth. "Karina, I'm pleased to see you." Already abandoning the sword in the process of being shaped as he wiped his hands off on the bib. "Beautiful day," as he happened to glance up to see the clutch of girls looking their way. "Friends of yours?" The question barely out as they seemed to become flustered when he looked their way and they were quickly retreating down the street, half running and laughing from what he could determine.

There was a moment that she blinked and paused, turning towards the giggling girls who seemed to have their eyes trained on her man. She arched her brow eloquently and stared them down, the death stare, until they fled the scene. By the time she turned back to Rhett there was a smile on her face. "Nope, don't know 'em." She moved forward a step, grinning a bit tentatively as she held up the basket. "I thought maybe you'd want a break, or some food?" That was half of it, just wanting to spend some time with him. The other half was still feeling a bit disconcerted over what had happened in the Celtic Gardens. Though they had made up... or at least she assumed so from the way he kissed her in the cottage... there were still things left unsaid between them. She wasn't sure if she'd say them but at the very least she wanted to make it up to him. Her amber curls were growing longer but had been pinned back in the bun Vanessa had shown her.. though whereas the result on her friend was neat, with Karina's untamed mass of hair, there were little ringlets escaping everywhere. "It is beautiful, seems like Spring is here." Which had her smiling again in a bright sort of way.

He stepped closer to tug at a ringlet. "You look radiant today," the press of a smile to follow as he stepped back after one last gentle tug of a curl. "Let me go get a shirt on and we can either sit inside at the kitchen table or we can make use of the bench outside in the back for our own private little picnic." The decision was up to her and he would wash a bit real quick too so he didn't smell. Put on some spicy smelly stuff.

Her grin expanded in a most silly way at the compliment, which brought a bloom of roses to her cheeks as well. Eyes bounced down then back up to him, as she tried to push that curl back into the bun (a useless endeavor). "Outside, definitely." She'd voice her opinion and hopefully he would agree... she had a feeling he would. After all, spring was here! In the meanwhile she wandered inside the smithy, looking around idly while he cleaned himself up. She always enjoyed studying his craftwork and probably unlike most girls, could appreciate a good weapon when she saw it. His blades had both beauty and function and she admired that.

Which had him smile more for the choice, what he prefered himself. "Just down the side and around to the back." There was a bench up near the front too under a tree but that was not the one he meant. There was another located in what was a small backyard then a lot of woods behind it. He didn't mind her coming in while waiting on him as he made his way to the back, already pulling off the bib exposing the breadth of muscles there before disappearing through a door. There was no particular order for swords presently but Rhett discovered it was better to be ahead of the game for certainly there would be more orders coming in. It also gave him time to make a few special swords between those functional and not fancy. He was quick to wash up, a splash of a light spicy cologne before he filled the frame of the doorway. "We can go out the back door." Stepping back so that she could follow him out through a small kitchen.

Looking up from a bootknife she'd been admiring, one with filigree along the hilt, she nodded. Quick to follow him out and through the backdoor, into the yard that was currently a mix of grass and mushy snow puddles. The forest in the background made for a great panorama. "This is really nice out here..." Large turquoise-tinted eyes looked around brightly. Everything seemed prettier the last couple of days. She looked back to him, not missing the fact that he'd put on some cologne, a scent familiar and dear to her by now. She couldn't resist it, and found herself stepping forward to stand on her toes and give him a kiss. Arms going to wrap around him briefly, basket and all. Pulling back she wore an almost sheepish smile. "Alright, that's.. done... hungry?"

"I was thinking of putting a picnic table back here and making a canopy area around it with some mesh to keep out the bugs once they come." Which wouldn't be too long as the days got warmer. Certain kinds of bugs got annoying like the may flies, gnats and mosquitoes. He also had torches to burn that kept them at bay too. As she came closer, hands slipped about her waist and around as he met that kiss in a quick but fiery one before it was extinguished. For now. "Aye, I've worked up a good appetite. Whatcha got?" He would eat just about anything but always better if it tasted good too! Hand still about her waist as he danced her over in a few swirling steps, hand sliding to capture the basket by the time the bench was reached to set it down for her, leaving it between them both as they sat.

"That's a great idea," she said about his idea for a canopy before getting caught up in that kiss. And then swept into a dance! She let out a laugh as he spun her around, eyes dancing just as sure as her feet did. She was a little breathless when they sat on the bench. "Well, I wasn't sure what you liked best so I sort of brought.. everything." And he'd see what she meant as she began pulling sandwich rolls out of the basket, naming them as she went. "Turkey, roast beef, chicken, or.. this one's just butter and cheese." She offered a little grin as the sandwiches wrapped in wax paper were piled up onto the bench. "Oh, and some potato salad aaaand..." she pulled out a glass bottle and tugged the cork out with her teeth. "I filched some apple cider for us."

"Smells real good, you made 'em?" Picking out turkey as that was one he liked the best. Apple cider was good with him too. He gobbled down a few bites to squelch some of his hunger before striking up a conversation. "How was your day today? Mine was mostly spent out on the porch working.." in case she would ask he was already answering that part.

"Oh no, don't worry, I didn't make them." She was quick with that disclaimer, for she had exactly zero talent for cooking. Even if it was just making sandwiches, with her luck something was bound to go awry. "I sweet-talked Hazel into making them for me." She chose the roast beef, taking a big bite out of the roll and chewing it with appreciation. Taking the bottle from him once he'd had some she took a sip of cider to wash it all down before answering. "I had a good day, I was mostly outside too. I think the birds know it's spring too, they're all perky and flying around their cages like mad." She gave a little grin.

"The flowers are already coming up. I was thinking that if next week is as nice, maybe we could go for a canoe ride on the lake. I noticed that the ice is melting away fast." There was still ice on it but another week of warm days would have that all gone. "Maybe a little fishing and I'll show you how to cook them?" He knew how to cook well enough, not as good as Hazel of course but enough to live off of and actually taste good.

"Is it already melting? Seems like just yesterday we were out there skating." A memory she'd always happily hold onto. "I'd love to go canoeing, I've never been." She smiled and then bobbed a nod to his suggestion of fishing. "Sure, I'd like that. Maybe I can show you how I used to fish too." Her smile turning into a bit of a sly smirk though it vanished behind another bite of sandwich.

"Aye, I'd like to learn anything you want to show me. Fair is fair." Which he believed in as in sharing than being more one sided. Something about balance had a relationship working out far better than one unbalanced. "How are the birds doing?" As her job took a good part of her day but he knew she liked it...well not really the shoveling of bird droppings but working with the birds.

She didn't even mind the shoveling... it was a heck of a lot better than some jobs she'd had. It was honest work at least. "They're all doing good, some of the locks were rusting after all the snow and the parrots were trying to pick their way out. They're real smart. So I took the lock apart and sorta modified it, you know, made it harder for them to figure out." Who would have thought that her lockpicking skills would have come into use at an aviary.... certainly not her. But it was clear the mechanical aspect of it was fascinating to her from the way she talked. "It was a challenge but I think it'll hold. The owls are piling up sticks too, getting ready to nest." She realized she was babbling on and stopped herself there with an awkward grin, taking another swig of cider.

He had finished a second sandwich as they talked, washing it down with some cider before patting his stomach (one of stone-hard muscle). Blue eyes were intense upon her as a pressed smile slowly lifted. "I got some stuff that is good on rust, I can bring it with us when I walk you back." Which was asking her in his own way and a good excuse to too, not that he really needed one. "Pretty soon there will be lot of baby birds about."

She didn't miss the little hint-hint about walking her home, and with a grin and brief glance away she accepted it. "Aye, and all sorts of other critters. Y'know, I used to always tell when spring was coming not from the birds or the crocuses, but from the grass. As soon as it started poking up through cracks in the cobblestone you knew warmer weather was coming. People always call grass a weed but you gotta admit... anything that hardy deserves some respect, right?" Rhett ought to know by now that she had a prodigious appetite of her own, and she too reached for another sandwich, not caring which one it was as she started to munch.

"You'll find me lounged out on it like a mat with the warmer weather. It protects the earth, nourishes it, feeds many small critters and animals. The Earth would be naked without it so, yeah, it deserves a lot of respect." Pressed smile back again as he was up from his seat, "let me go get the cleaning solution while you finish up." He was looking forward to walking her back, getting away from his own work place as a needed break. Disappearing inside only taking a few minutes as he was back out with a canister wrapped up in a cloth, one that bore the dark markings of many times used. He also had put on a vest over the poets shirt as it would be getting cooler by the time he was to make his way back.


She let out a chuckle at that imagery, of Rhett sprawled out in a field of grass like a cat with a full belly. She nodded when he got up to go, taking the opportunity to gobble down the rest of her sandwich. There were some leftovers which she'd bring back home for Vanessa. She packed up the basket quickly and then leaned back on her hand on the bench, enjoying the afternoon... and looking forward to the prospect of a stroll in the sunshine with Rhett.

Once outside he took up the basket in one hand while offering her the bend of his other arm to escort. "Maybe take a stroll along the walk to see what the stores are offering for spring in their windows, then the park and see if they have turned on any of the fountains or if any flowers are blooming there." Which the crocus were the first to show and possibly were. There would be no rush in spending time together this day so promising of spring.



Date: 04-24-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 11

Market and Gossip
She too wore a simple dress, almond brown with short sleeves and light boots beneath. Her growing ringlets held back in a low ponytail tied up by a ribbon at the nape of her neck. She didn't often go to the markets so she was looking around curiously, noticing plenty of new wares that had popped up since her last visit. Her glance cut back to Vanessa and the question on how things were going with Rhett brought a completely silly smile that she was helpless to stop. "Good enough," she answered vaguely despite the grin.

Vanessa quirked a brow at the vague answer and leaned in closer to give Karina a little nudge of her elbow. "How well enough?" Curious now. Well, she was always curious, but tried not to invade or pry too deeply. But this was meant in good humor. "Does he still give you butterflies?"

The whole.... girly gossip thing had been foreign to her til she befriended Vanessa, but she was getting better at it! Even if getting those details was probably like pulling teeth for Van. "Yeah... every time I see him" she admitted on a mutter through her grin. To ease her embarrassment some she reached down to ruffle Ysa's hair in the stroller in front of them. "I still can't believe we're actually.. together. Or,  I mean... you know, that he really likes me." That was something that still bugged her sometimes. It seemed too good to be true quite honestly.

Vaness smiled. She wouldn't dig any deeper than that. It was nice to see the more girlie side of Karina shine through. "Karina, believe it or not, you have a lot of likeable qualities." Which was very true. Ysa giggled and reached up to try and grab the hand playing with her hair, which was growing into curls now and lightening in color, now a sort of brown color.

"Well, he's, you know.. the nicest man alive. So." She gave a crooked smile. "Guess he can put up even with me." She snickered when Ysa caught her finger for a second.

She laughed quietly. "You're not so tough to put up with. Just gotta smack you around now and then." She was kidding, of course. Ysa tugged the finger, then let go to go back to babbling to herself. Vanessa went back to window shopping, stopping at a display of nice hand held fans and looked them over.

Karina didn't smile at that but gave a slight twitch, swallowing the flash of anger that had nothing to do with Vanessa. The unwittingly haunting wording wasn't her friend's fault, Karina knew she was just joking around. So she kept herself quiet til the anger passed. The innocent babe was a good way to help it pass, and when they paused she went to crouch in front of the stroller and adjust Ysa's little frock, wiping off her toy and such.

Vanessa hadn't meant anything by what she said and though Karina did well to suppress the anger, Vanessa saw the flash. She was going to apologize, but it might make things worse, so she looked back to the fans. One in particular she spotted, but she wasn't going to buy it. She had fans, and still needed to find a companion for Tennison. Which she hadn't even started looking into yet. Attention went to Karina and Ysa with a smile. "You're such a good auntie."

Karina didn't blame Vanessa in the slightest, after all, her friend couldn't know the joke would affect her. Which is why she kept silent til the mood passed, which it did quickly. At Van's words she glanced up with a smile reappearing. "It's not so hard, she's a good kid." Who Karina was growing fonder of every day. Who knew she'd fall in love with an infant? Certainly something she'd never expected to do, but Ysa was irresistible that way.
Ysa was a good kid. Vanessa was lucky that her twin's baby would be so wonderfully behaved. "She is a good baby. She's going to be something else when she grows up." Vanessa looked forward to seeing Ysa grow, but not in any kind of a rush for it. "One of these days, I need to make it to the stables to find a friend for Tenni. Is there anything you can think of we need while we're in the square?"

That made Karina grin. "She'll not be afraid to speak her mind... and break plenty of boys' hearts, I'm sure." Which the outspokenness was a good quality, in Karina's mind. She bobbed the toy in front of the baby's face playfully before settling it in the tiny hands, rising to re-join Vanessa behind the stroller as they kept walking. "Oh, I could use some new gloves." And before Vanessa could have a heart attack at the thought of Karina donning ladylike gloves, she clarified, "work gloves." The thick leather sort useful for handling birds and other chores. The talk of stables reminded her, "Segan's been telling me I ought to buy a horse, Rhett mentioned it too. But I dunno..."

Mariah was wandering after sending off a letter with Joe's correspondence to the Colonies. At least she was pretty sure hers would get there and not get lost somewhere. She had this distant look about her, the other two might recognize even if they had never met Mariah. Out in the square she wandered from one vardo type wagon to another, absently looking at things and picking them up briefly only to set them back. When inquired upon she'd shake her head and continue on. Although later in the afternoon, the sun still beat down upon all below, she wore a light dress of a darker bronze with small daisies and brown eyed susans embroidered along the hem, neckline and short puffy sleeves.

She looked over at the mention of gloves, then smiled when Karina clarified. "You know, if you're going to be riding on a regular basis, you should get riding gloves. Leather, but thinner and easier to grasp the reins with." Of course, being the girlie girl that Vanessa was, it was to keep her hands from gaining calluses. All proper to how she was raised. "I think there are some gloves down that way." Motioning in the direction she thought they'd be going in. "You should come with me when I go to pick a companion for Tenni. The barn's set up for four horses, so there's plenty of room."

She couldn't have been happier! She had already finished the dozen kerchiefs and the gloves, stylizing one with masculine colors and the other with daisy's and ivy. Now all that was left was the table cloth, which she knew would require more of her attention. For now though, her fingers were cramped and her eyes a little crossed but she was smiling brightly. The distracting hum that was usually present to keep her words from stuttering was absent given her cheery mood. It matched the butter colored skirt and bodice of lighter wool she wore, with the three quarter sleeve chemise that proudly displayed more vibrant handiwork along the edge and yoked collar. Her hair was as usual, covered as was the fashion and habit given to her by her mother. Bobbing from one stall to the next, she contemplated some other additions for the little space that was her own for now. Maybe some material to make lace for a new pillow?


"Yeah, but... it's an awful lot of money to spend all on one thing." Which was the root of her reluctance, though she hadn't said this in so many words to either Segan or Rhett. "I'd like to come with you to the stables though, just to take a look." She enjoyed being around horses even if she never intended to own one herself... and ever since winning the Hometown race she loved riding them too. She followed along with Vanessa through the market. Along the way she noticed a blonde-haired woman standing at a stall but looking rather dreamy.... Karina thought she looked familiar, perhaps from the tavern some time so she gave a nod of hello.

She smiled over to Karina. "Don't think of it like that. Think of it as acquiring a long term friend. Horses live upwards of 35 or more years when tended to well and make excellent companions. I don't know what I'd do without Tenni sometimes." Following Karina's attention, she too spotted the blonde woman and offered a smile in greeting. Yeah, she looked familiar. Vanessa stopped. "Excuse me, haven't we met?"

Her distraction would get the better of her eventually as eyes of bronzed green focused in when she nearly ran into the stroller. She came to a halt quickly with a blink. Color rushing to her cheeks but had managed to avoid the disaster. "Hello, OH, what an adorable baby," which her words were genuine as she crouched down to get a better look. Such a lopsided almost silly smile before she straightened. The two ladies together then the other near as well. "I'm Mariah," had she seen the two about? They looked somewhat familiar.

She wound her way over everything that was offered, happening on Mistress Baltimore whom she had met previously. The other two ladies with her she didn't know but everyone in Heathfield had been so nice that she couldn't resist the warmth that seeped out of her when she greeted them. "Good afternoon!" She did however spy a particularly interesting looking piece of glass, which she thought might look nice just inside the little window of her room.

She smiled to Mariah, fairly sure they'd met. "Are you alright?" Since she'd almost run into the woman with the stroller. Ysa was all giggles and squeals and babbling. Vanessa watched with a smile and glance to Karina before looking back to Mariah. "Mariah, we've met. Vanessa Baltimore, and my friend Karina Streetborn." And then Bea was joining, she smiled to her as well. "Good afternoon, Bea. Have you met Karina and Mariah?" Motioning to each.

"Yes, yes we have," the flush upon her cheeks only deepened with the realization. "I'm sorry, I am so distracted today you may think me a dimwit. You have the lovely birds." It was all quickly coming back in place. "Hello, Karina, really nice to meet you and to meet you Bea." Her smile warm and sincere from the green eyed blond. She was having a blond moment.

"Mariah, that's right." Karina knew the face and now the name to go with it. She gave her own crooked smile in greeting, half awkward but genuine. The same given to the other woman who joined them, though Karina didn't recognize her. It seemed she'd picked up that rather rough last name for herself here in Heathfield, but in such a large town it seemed everyone needed a last name... and that was the best she had. Blue-green eyes bouncing from Mariah to Bea as she nodded her greeting to both. Thank goodness for Van for doing the polite introductions and things, Karina was rubbish at all that. Though a smile was on her face at the way Ysa squealed at Mariah's attentions.

Bea could understand bouts of dreaminess even if she didn't know the cause. Then again, Bea had more of a forgiving nature when it came to being distracted, since she was so easily done herself at times! "I hadn't, but then I really haven't met a whole lot of people yet! It is very nice to meet you, Miss Mariah, Miss Karina." She was bubbly in a way that was subtle, just there at the edges of green eyes that were a little like fog covered hills. "It seems someone is having a rousing good time, isn't it?" She bent then, eye to eye with Ysa. She hadn't quite gotten a good look at the child last time she'd seen her but now that she did she could only laugh in turn at the squeals before rising. "They have everything here! Are you all shopping for something in particular, or just on afternoon holiday?" It was wonderful to speak with others about such things.

"You don't have to apologize." She reached out to Mariah's hand give a little squeeze. "You own the wool shoppe. I haven't seen you since shortly after coming to Heathfield." It'd been about eight or nine months since she'd seen the other woman. Looking to Bea, she nodded. "We were out just looking around, but Karina mentioned the need for gloves. If you ladies would like to join us, perhaps we can stop at the bistro after for tea?" Seemed like a good way to spend the afternoon to her. Good company. Ysa was looking at them all curious, chewing on her favored toy and babbling on as she always did. Vanessa turned soft gold eyes down to the babe and wrinkled her nose, causing her to giggle some.

She was really grateful that Vanessa didn't poke fun at her, such could be an easy thing to do for her blunder. She needed to focus more! Considering she was born in these lands, lived her whole life here even if most of it was on the sheep ranch for helping her father out. She returned the squeeze of her hand which as much showed her gratitude, in her eyes and in her smile. "Bea, you are new here?" Karina's name she recognized and had seen her about but now had the privilege of meeting her. "I would love to join you, keep my feet on the ground and my thoughts as well grounded."

"Work gloves." She clarified once again. Karina might be wearing simple dresses now but she still wanted to make the point that she was no fine lady! "You don't need the 'Miss', but nice to meet you too Bea." She bobbed a nod to Van's suggestion and fell into place alongside the other girls, keeping herself to herself for now while the rest chatted easily. Her own thoughts wandering just as Mariah's had been, eyes idly glancing over the storefronts they passed.

"It's an old habit." Waving one hand about airily, she couldn't help the grin of her lips. Beatrice was neat as a pin, kept scrupulously so out of habit again that was past down from her mother. "Indeed I am new. I wandered off from home as it were and kept going. I have a rather nasty habit of getting lost, but thankfully I got lost here!" Which of course was a blessing for her considering! Looking to Karina, she immediately felt a sort of kinship. "You know, there are some very well made gloves at the far vendor. I rather like a sturdy leather set myself for carding wool before you spin it into thread. Or for drying hides with lime." She knew a little about many things, so she offered what she could. "My hands get so cracked and sore though, so it's best to use some lanolin with them for the first few weeks." Which is what she always forgot! Taking up with the three, she kept pace next to Karina.


Vanessa smiled as the ladies agreed and looped and arm with Karina's before moving over to share stroller duty with her. "I need a new pair of riding gloves. Mine have worn so thin the threads are loose at the seams." Falling in stride with the other ladies, she smiled to them all. "It's so nice to see you both out and about, enjoying the beautiful day. Far too fine a day to stay cooped up."

"Getting lost to a good place is not a bad thing at all." Amusing concept that had her smiling in reflection of such for a moment. "You must be staying at the Thistle. Have you met the cute handyman?" Idle talk as she lagged a few steps behind, they all couldn't fit side by side on some of the walks. "Work gloves," turning attention on Karina, "what kind of work do you do that you need gloves?"

A surprised look briefly passed her face when Bea fell into step beside her and struck up a conversation. Glancing to Van that simple gesture of hooking arms gave her some confidence and she looked back to Bea. "Yeah? I haven't been to that vendor I don't think," Ach, now Mariah was talking to her too! Looking to the other woman, "Um, I work with Vanessa here. At the Avian Gardens. I tend the birds and such." A slight pause before eyes bounced between them again. "What work do you both do?"

She laughed then, more at ease in female company. "I am, and no, I hadn't I don't think. I've met two Joes, one Leoric, one Joshua and a Segan. Oh! And a Rick!" She was sure there were more, but she wasn't quite good at keeping tabs on the body count. Especially the male one. They were rather, potent! Still holding fast to her smile, she let her eyes roam away and back merrily. "Some of the knights I've met, but I tend to stray from that lot. And it is a great occupation to tend to the birds. They are quite impressive! The whole garden there is too." That she had seen. She'd gotten lost and stumbled there more or less. "I hadn't much to do until Mistress McGuire gave me some items to embroider. A godsend it was since Hazel had been so nice to give me some minor things to do otherwise I'm quite sure she would have swatted me." She was almost like a humming bird, flitting from one thing to another but then Bea was always tripping over herself to get in as much of life as possible.

"My father has the sheep ranch, woolen mill and has put me in charge of the Wool Shop. Things will slow down there with the summer upon us. I was thinking of getting a colorful parrot to have there to yack away and keep me company." Which then she would hire another so the shop was always open, or move into the flat above. That was an idea. "You've met a few then and probably more the longer you stay. Do you plan to stay?" The usual curious question asked of newcomers, gave an idea of how things were going for them too.

Vanessa smiled over to Karina as they walked along, looking to each lady as they spoke. To Mariah though, she nodded. "Karina's wonderful with the birds. They adore her." Which was the truth. Those birds loved Karina. She continued listen to the banter and conversation passed back and forth with a smile, glancing down at Ysa now and then to see her wide eyed and in awe as they walked through the markets towards the vendor mentioned for gloves.

Vanessa's compliments had her looking half-awkward again though the other half was pleased. A crooked smile as she glanced between the two women who were chatting away. The one named Bea seemed a cheerful sort, and Mariah quite nice so she was content to just listen for now. It didn't take long to reach the vendor who was suggested, and Karina detached herself from the group to go over to the booth. Greeting the salesman before starting to look over the heavier gloves with a critical eye.



Date: 04-24-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 12

"Segan Quinn, he is cousin to Liam and Ciaran? I have met them and their friend Evan." Of course that would have her thoughts wandering there and the bit of concern that he continued to do well in the colonies.

She was just as enchanted with the sunshine outside as she was with the company, all but floating along. "I hope to stay. I don't see why I shouldn't. Heathfield is by far the nicest place I've wandered into. Lost or not." Her throat hummed, a nasty habit that helped to keep her from stuttering. "Segan, I think it was Quinn. Mistress Ba -- Vanessa would know better I think. I met him while seeing her!" She was eager to look over the gloves, thinking maybe a nice pair would stand her in good stead. Her own mount was just shy of being too old for a mount, but she had had Petunia since she was a child and even then the mare had been old. Maybe she'd embroider the cuffs? Or not. "Do you see any you like, Karina?"

She smiled over to Karina before unlooping her arm so she could venture off to look at gloves and looked to Mariah with a nod. "Yes, cousins to Liam and Ciaran." Who she'd only met twice...she thought. Small blush to what Bea had said, she too ventured closer to look over gloves after taking Ysa up from her stroller and propping the child on her hip. Suede rather than smooth leather, she found a pair that would cover just to the crest of her palm, which was good for summer.

The mention of Segan had her grinning Vanessa's way, but to her credit she kept her lips buttoned amongst this unfamiliar company. Hearing her name again she glanced to Bea. "These look nice and sturdy." She was tugging on a nondescript, thick brown leather glove to try. A bit big on her, but that was fairly common considering her small hands. At least the leather was nice and flexible.

Bea was generally oblivious to such things so whatever it was she said went completely over her head. Leaning toward the stall, she nodded at Karina's choice. "I can take those in for you if you like, so they fit better. You don't want them rubbing or you'll get sores." Bea for herself looked at a set of leather that went over her wrists, and fit pretty well. Another pair caught her eye and soon she was trying on several sets while humming again.

Ysa was reaching for the gloves that Van was holding. Smiling to the child, she held them out of reach. "If I thought you would wear gloves, I would buy you some. But just to chew on, I don't think is a very good idea." Babble and barble, Vanessa offered the gloves to the vendor to hold so she could pay for them.

Well, she kind of put two and two together and came up with ten, Vanessa might well be seeing Segan Quinn. She was trying to recall the other rumor of a certain man, born here too that was.. oh bother... she should have paid more attention to the ladies as they picked out their yarns. She too looked over the gloves in a somewhat distracted way. "Excuse me a moment," noticing her sister's book store being open she was quickly across the street and within to say hello. Something both did when out and about near the other's shop.

"Really?" She looked at Bea in surprise again. "I didn't know gloves could be taken in. Dresses maybe. That'd be real nice of you." A half-smile given to the woman. The offer to have the gloves fitted more to her hands decided her, and she stepped up to pay the vendor after Vanessa. A snicker down at Ysa. "You'd ruin any leather gloves with your drool, li'l girl."

Van was grateful to Karina for not saying anything. She had no shame in seeing Segan, and though quite a few had their suspicions and some knew, they'd never really discussed just how public they were as of yet. Vanessa paid for the gloves, laughing quietly to what Karina said to Ysa, who kind of leaned towards Karina, reaching with nice, drooly hands. "This is true." Laughing again, she watched Mariah wander to the book store, then looked to Bea. "You should stay in Heathfield. There are plenty of residences available, and men to help with the move." Flashing a quick wink and grin to the woman.

"Certainly! They've seams just like anything else. Some sturdy thread and a very sharp eye and you've fitted gloves!" Bea was confident of her needlework, given her fastidious nature each stitch was mirror perfect. She chuckled over the idea of Ysa chewing threw a set of gloves and smiled up at Mariah as she stepped away. "There isn't any reason I can't settle here. It's very nice. The people are nice." Bea thought well of everyone until she was proven otherwise but like before the wink and grin went a little over her head. "Oh! Everyone has been so helpful to me, I'm sure Alex would muster some assistance for me. He's rather like my uncle Horace, only much neater." Which was a boon to Beatrice's neat-as-a-pin soul. "I'll take these." They were as soft as butter, a little longer and slimmer in the fingers -- perfect! "Have you seen any fabrics? I want to get something lighter for my hair." Patting one covered temple with her hand while laughing.

"Ohhhh no," that said to Ysa with a chuckle, quickly moving her new set of gloves away from the infant's slobbery hands. "Guess that makes sense," she answered Bea about the seams though she knew less than nothing about sewing. Then went quiet to let the other two chat.


Vanessa turned to tuck the gloves into a pocket of the stroller while Karina teased Ysa. Looking over to Bea, she smiled brightly. "You know, I have a whole chest of fabrics if you'd like to come to the cottage some time and go through them all. A lot of large bits and pieces left from making dresses or costumes. Or jumpers." Motioning to Ysa. "Would you mind if we stopped in the book store? I'd like to pick up some children's books." Easy to read, lots of pictures kinds of books for Ysa now that she was getting old enough to want to look at pictures while someone read to her.

"My mother was chatelaine for an old lord. We learned to do lots of different things since he didn't have much in the way of staff." Children were for some, cheap labor. Bea knew hard work and how it could pay off! Looking to Vanessa she clapped her hands together after tucking her new gloves into one of the pockets of her apron. "I would love too! I need something to keep everything out of the way." Which explained why Bea covered her hair. It was easier to scrub a floor, muck a stall or beat out tapestries with your hair well out of the way. "Maybe I can make a patchwork blanket. Something to add some color to my room." Happy as a lark, she nodded to the idea of the bookshop, and meandered with the group that way.

Mariah came back out with a couple cloth made baby books that she was over to offer to Vanessa first, than directly to the child. A way of seeking approval first. "I think your daughter would like these? I'm told they are safe for her to chew on, maul and so forth and wont come apart." She also had a rattler for her as her sister sold a few such things that went with the baby books. There were ones for all ages.

Smiling to Bea, she nodded. "Learning such things isn't always bad. I was a lady in waiting before coming here. I knew a variety of things, but there were many things lost on me. Such as cooking." That was learned by trial and error. There was a lot of errors made at first, and even now she stuck to very simple things, such as stew. Kind of hard to mess that up. En route to the book store, they all stopped as Mariah approached. Vanessa looked at the books and smiled. "Must be a mind reader. She can have them." Spoken as she leaned down to set Ysa back in her stroller so she could swat the cloth made books around all she wanted and not hurt anyone.

"My sister Jesilyn, we call her Ally for short is a wonderful cook. She makes this roasted chicken with preserved apricots that is simply to die for." Her mind wandered back to the glass she'd seen earlier. She would have to pick that up at some point. "I have a fair hand with it." Bea liked to bake, because making dough was the perfect opportunity to daydream. Cooking required attention!

"There are some positions open too if one has the ability. They are in need of a dance instructor for instance. A toymaker shop but one would need to know how to make toys," she pictured an older man at a bench working a way creating toys, looking down the length of his nose through glasses. Pleased that Van liked the books for the little one, she handed them over. The rattle would make a lot of noise for the beads inside. "There is a holiday shop needing a proprietor as well a Beauty Salon," that was all she could think of at the moment that was anywhere near appropriate for Bea's consideration.

Karina was happy to listen while the others talked, surprised that she enjoyed the company of a gaggle of women (not the norm for this tomboy). She realized the time then though and a.. previous engagement. Snapping back into focus she gave them all a light smile. "I've gotta go. Nice to meet you, Bea, and Mariah. Bye Vanessa, bye li'l girl." Her farewells said speedily, she headed off across the market square. A spring to her steps as she would eventually aim for the Blacksmithy.

Not with her two left feet. She would stick to embroidering for Mistress McGuire for now, she was after all, only seventeen. "I am sure I'll see you soon, for the gloves! Take care, Karina!" She smiled happily while thinking over one of the books featured in the window. "Do you have a big family, Mariah? Everyone I've met seems to be one of ten or some such. You aren't one of ten are you?" At first Bea had thought people were jesting with her, but then again she'd been proven serious to that.

"Nice to meet you Karina, I hope to get to talk with you again," noticing the direction she was taking and a certain smithy. Yes! That was it, what she heard. Though nothing was said. She knew Rhett all her life. More like all his, she was a few years older! Then back to Bea, "not real big, big enough, I have a brother Christopher who is twenty and two, Carisa and Scott, twins that are twenty. There are other families that are pretty large in these lands, or sister lands." She had idle thoughts that sometimes slipped out like this one, "I wish my father could find someone as we grow and leave. He deserves to be happy and have someone.." thoughts wandering a moment in silence.

Vanesas just waved to Karina, pretty sure she knew where she was going and smiled quietly to herself, returning to the conversation of the other two women. "I come from a small family." Now that they'd finished with the gloves, it was time to head over to the bistro unless the others had something else in mind.

Thankfully Mariah was from a similar sized family as she was. Good to know that not everyone came from a tribe as it were! "He should meet my mother." Muttering a little to herself before she laughed. "My father as it were finally got to her last nerve and she booted him out straight away. MacKinnon gave her employment and she hasn't looked back since. I was four or five at the time. My brother wasn't born yet and Ally was eight." Which was a wonder why Bea was so happy coming from such an odd home. Bea wandered with them, toward the Bistro. She hadn't eaten there yet!

"My mother up and left for no apparent reason. About a year after the twins were born. Didn't want us either. He came in from taking care of the sheep to find her gone, no note, nothing. He did a good job of raising us. We were young at the time too. I grew into taking care of the house, the meals. It wasn't until recent my Da all but threw me out. Said I should find something of my own and to meet men that I might find love one day and a family of my own than grow old taking care of him. He would be fine. He hired a cook and housekeeper." Which had her giggle under her breath, she knew her father was right.

Vanessa kept further mention of her family quiet for now. No sense in dampening their happy conversation. As they reached the bistro, Vanessa motioned to the outdoor seating as a suggestion, but waited to see if the ladies agreed or preferred to dine inside.

"I've never eaten in such a place. Outside would be f-f-fine." A blip of nerves, nothing more and she reeled herself back in with a little hum. "My mother says her blood is just tattered blue. Whatever that means. She fell in love with my Da, but he was a pig so she threw him out." Her mother might have been tired from running a shabby manor home of an old man on his last threads of life single handedly but she was stubborn to the core. "She might like to come here but I doubt it. She is a little scared of traveling. Bandits and all." Which made her brighten immensely. "Speaking of which, did you know that they have a female kissing bandit here? I saw it myself the other night!"

"Oh, this is perfect," her smile lighting up her face as she drew out a seat, the air would keep the warmth until the sun set complete. Certainly enough time to have a cup of tea, relax, before they each needed to be off to their own means of the evening. "Well, blue blood means you have royalty in your blood by heritage. Tattered, might mean mixed, some not. Not that such really matters over the person. I can't say as I've been pretty protected all my life in these lands. There was a time long, long ago when a war raged here but the usurp was killed and the daughter set to the throne as was her heritage and destiny." The last struck her funny as she settled on one of the chairs. "No, oh my! Someone trying to get even with Jon McAndrews? He had gone around kissing ladies, black mask on and wore his brother Joe's shirt as well Patrick's clothes. The McAndrews all tall, blond.. with a mask on it was anyone's guess of ten except for the clothes. He got his two brothers in trouble."

Just as she was about to sit down, she leaned in to pick up Ysa and noticed she smelled funny. "Oh dear." She smiled to the women. "If you two will excuse me, I think someone's in need of a change. I'd like to meet you both at the Thistle later though." She left a few coins to pay for the tea, since it was her idea then left to get rid of the smell, hopefully before anyone caught whiff.

Bea wasn't sure what her mother meant, but then again when she had asked she'd been met with stony silence. "Well it was this tiny woman. She had to use a stool to get herself of a height with Joe. And then Rick was there as well. And Marcy McGuire." Seeing that Vanessa was leaving, she smiled brightly. "I look forward to seeing you soon! You too, Ysa." Her own tea was sipped lightly. "She gave me a rose, the kissing bandit did and I thought it very nice but a little strange."

Luckily they were outside for the smell really wasn't noticed. Not over all that Italian cuisine being prepared for the nights dinners inside the building. "I wonder who she is. One that must know the McAndrews to be that brave." Tall, handsome, good natured men were a bit intimidating to most women. Especially for their height. Brawny men too, not skinny bean poles. "Good eve, Vanessa, see you soon." She might well be up to buy one of her parrots. Then the giggle escaped with the lighting up of green eyes, "maybe she is one that favored women too?" She heard about such although there was not a single woman in these lands that would or did.

"They seemed to be familiar with one another. Both Joe and Rick took the whole thing with quite a bit of humor." Bea seemed oblivious to male charm but it was more for her own good. When she got flustered she stuttered horribly. It was better to ignore their looks altogether or to give up the ability to speak coherently. "Oh, she didn't try to kiss us. Just gave us roses. Passing the torch maybe?" Which only made Beatrice laugh since there was no way she was going to go about kissing strange men, no matter how handsome. To her, they certainly had been but that was beside the point. Wasn't it? "She was rather bold. I envy that sort of confidence."

There might be a few males that came into the tavern even she might not be able to not notice. That hit you with a cart deadly handsome, winning smile and built like a Zeus. "They are widely traveled, so it could be anyone, even from outside the lands. Well, that was good. I think if a woman tried to kiss me, I'd punch them right in the nose. Hard." Which had her blink, "passing the torch did you see it through, kiss that handsome Prince of Ballicastle?"

She blinked and then blinked a little more. "Me? Oh god no!" Which would have really made it that much more embarrassing. "I had only just met him." She did laugh though at the thought, trying to picture herself doing so. It only made her cheeks go red and her throat bob with a swallow as she hummed nervously. "I can't see myself kissing a girl in the same fashion as this one did Joe."



Date: 04-24-10
Poster: Mariah McCormick
Post # 13

If one pictured it, it wasn't such a bad picture. "You'd need to climb up on a stool and if Rick is like the rest of them, he'd not only let you kiss him but he'd kiss you back. Not expect anything either but the humor of the moment sort of thing." Wait... "kissing a girl that way or kissing Rick that way?"

"Either. I wouldn't kiss a girl or Rick in the same fashion as the Kissing Bandit kissed Joe." She followed along for so long, then lost her own way! Typical Bea. "It looks as if it requires quite a bit of c-c-con-concentration." There it went, that little blip of nerves, and she was back to humming a bit of something to put her right back on track. Kissing Rick wasn't good for her sense of concentration.

"It was that bad of a kiss or that good of a kiss? Kind that should not have been done in public?" She had Mariah's curiosity! "Concentration or intensity?" Her tea was getting cold so it was taken up to drink some of it down before set away again. She glanced up to see Franko Sibio at the open door of the Bistro and waved, which was returned before the older man stepped back in.

"I suppose it was a good kiss. Joe seemed to enjoy it!" Which made Bea giggle then as she toyed with her own cup. "I suppose it should be done in public." She hadn't been that sure at the time, but it seemed to be all in good humor so Beatrice hadn't worried at the time if it was proper or not. Chewing her lower lip a moment the hum grew louder if only for a second or two. "I was impressed with both the intensity and the skill she seemed to employ." Which had been nothing but truth.


There were quite a few handsome men in these lands that she could and did have stray thoughts on what it would be like to be kissed and to kiss back. Recently they had taken a back seat to the wonder on one in particular. Most wonders never came about but sometimes, some times they did. She wondered if this one would for the confession he made in a letter. A letter packed in the clutch she had tied to the sash at the waist of her dress. She shook her head free of them, or she would be gone in a daydream again. "You do not have a beau then either?"

"She just dragged a stool over, sort of stood on it and went right on with the whole of it. Running her fingers into his hair, and moving her mouth in a way I can't quite describe." But Bea had certainly been paying attention. Mariah's question made her laugh. "The closest I've ever come to a beau was a distant cousin of mine who smelled more of the pigs he cared for than anything else." A description which caused her to shudder delicately. "One can't help but smell of their work sometimes, but he didn't like to bathe is my assumption." Tugging a bit a the covering on her hair at her temple, she shook her head. "And you?" Now she eyed Mariah seriously.

"The closest I got to a man, was one rescuing me from swinging on the curtain rod in the front window of my shop." And here her cheeks were finding some color now knowing how he got there so fast. He'd been sneaking around to get a glimpse of her. That kind of said he liked her didn't it? Something to dawn on her more. That last comment brought her back from more dreamy thoughts. "That is just awful. I think I'd have my brother throw him in the trough." Being, most likely, she would not be big or strong enough to do so herself.

Bea knew the dreamy look, even if she didn't know the root cause of it. It made her smile in that soft way that meant she understood. "My younger brother tried, but Liam is quite a bit bigger than Cadam so it wasn't much of a contest." Though her little brother had been valiant at the time. "If the men here are any indication more than likely he's bigger than Liam is. Your brother I mean." She didn't want to insult Mariah's family! "What do you do once you've got a beau? And how do you know he's your beau?" They were in Bea's mind, valid questions.

"I'm the oldest of the four and you'd think not considering they all have an interest and one interested in them. My youngest brother was the first to fall and he was only sixteen at the time, same as the girl. Carisa is not technically with anyone but there is a McAndrews, that draws her eye and thoughts. No wonder my father felt I was going to grow old without ever the chance of meeting anyone." Another blink with the question, "Christopher is six foot four, average build, strong for all the work he does on my Da's ranch. I'm not sure what you do once you've a beau. I've never gotten that far. I think though, it would be something you'd agree on or made clear not just by thinking it so. I know I would never say such unless I knew the other felt the same. I think then it would only mean I would not go off with another man that might wish to?" Oi, she needed to talk to someone to find out for sure!

"Your brother fell in love at sixteen?" That was only a year younger than Bea and she could almost not believe it! Her sister was near enough to Mariah's brother's age but she didn't see Ally going into a swoon. "Do you find yourself playing matchmaker for your brothers?" Which Beatrice thought quite funny, but then she might do the same for Cadam or Ally. "Is it the water that makes everyone so tall here?" She skipped about a bit, humming loudly enough at that point that Mariah might hear her before cruising back toward the conversation. "I should think your right about the idea of not going off with someone if your already interested in one in particular. That is not only harsh, but god awful rude." To Bea's very fastidious sense of mind, it was hideously rude but she didn't want to go on about it.

Vanessa wasn't sure if the ladies were still at the bistro, but she had Ysa changed and dressed in something a bit warmer. The walk was out of the way, but she didn't mind the bit of extra before heading to the Thistle to see if they had returned there. She and the babe strolled quiet content through the now quieting markets in path to the outside table first to see if they were still there.

"Yes, only sixteen. Pretty amazing. As the others started to have interests, it made me feel even more drawn away. Like I was living in a closet. I had never been to the notorious tavern up north either." Where wild things happened. "I never played matchmaker, I was never out to really know anyone to match them up with. They found others easily on their own. I suppose had I been out before them, learning the ropes, I might have been tempted if one were.. well.. if they were me!" Which had her laughing thinking on it. "It is said the water makes you grow tall, or was it getting fertile? The potcheen to put hair on your chest. The air does something too I'm sure." It was all silly but certainly funny. They were still outside as it was starting to get dark. She caught sight of Vanessa and waved.

Indeed they were and in quite the thick of discussion regarding beau's, matchmaking and the Kissing Bandit. "My sister is the serious minded sort like my mother. I don't see her falling over anyone. I think she might be a spinster." Which didn't seem to bother Bea at all. "My brother is still into his horses and talk of building. He likes to build things." Which only made Bea proud. "My mom is well, she's heart sore. She's not one to put store by love since her own backfired on her. And I'm in the middle!" Which to her was just as well as being invisible sometimes. "I'll find my feet someday my mother says. As long as I don't blind someone with my constant sunshine." She could be, too happy sometimes? Like her thoughts before, she was just in a hurry to get as much out of life as was possible. Waving at Vanessa, she all but beamed. Her time with Mariah had been wonderful! "Welcome back!" She had been so engrossed she hadn't realized it was starting to get dark. Not that she minded.

Vanessa smiled to them both as she approached. "My apologies for the abrupt leave." Couldn't leave Ysa to stink though, that just wouldn't do at all. For the time being, she reclaimed her seat, having caught the end of the  conversation. "Thank you." She smiled to Bea and pulled the stroller in close next to her. "Looks as though the both of you have had fun." They both seemed to have the glow of chatting with a good female companion.

"I've seen ones that were as you call, heart sore, find love again and be a lot happier than alone. It can happen and usually does to the one that says.. bah! Never! Fate likes to play pranks, prove you wrong and make you eat your words more often than not." Then to Vanessa in response. "Oh, no worries, it is very understandable. A child needs a lot of attention and a lot of your time." She had helped raise the twins when they were little. Although young herself. She had been one of those motherly little girls growing up.

"The conversation has been most educational for me." She couldn't help but giggle just a little as she twirled the long forgotten teacup between her fingers. "I'd like for my mother to be happy but it seems like she just doesn't have the time, what with MacKinnon being as cranky as he is. She does everything for him, down to changing his bed sheets. I think he's just mean, but mother see's it as being good to a soul who has done without." Whatever the heck that meant!

"Same for my father, far too busy to even try meeting any ladies." So she understood and her father wasn't unhappy either. "How old is MacKinnon?" He sounded young, like five years old. Oh, and so she decided to include Vanessa in their girly talk, "we are talking about beaus and how we don't have one. Do you? Have one that is?" She was pretty certain for all things said over months now and hadn't changed but it would be nicer to have it said from Vanessa instead.

A smile to both, her attention turned to Bea as she started speaking. "It does one soul good to do another good. Even if the one receiving doesn't seem to share the idea." She smiled lightly and fell silent hearing Mariah's comments and questions. When her question was posed to Vanessa, she blushed lightly but couldn't resist the smile. "I do have one. He's quite stolen my heart."

"Seventy-five and about as childish as my cousin Maude who is ten." And spoiled with it! "See, that is why I think your Da should meet my mother." Which was in Bea's mind a joke. MacKinnon would have to kick up his toes for her to go anywhere. Having said something rather unpleasant about the man though she felt guilty, chewing at her lip. "He just never really got over his wife. She's been dead for years. I think that is why my mother is so forgiving." At least she hoped it was! Turning toward Vanessa at Mariah's prompting, her smile widened. At least here they might both find some pointers! "And so what do you do once they've stolen it away? Is it like the books always tell you? All walking about and talking and kissing in t-t-th-the moon, moonlight?" She got herself on a roll and rolled right out of her rhythm!

"Then it is true, the speculations. Provided that one is indeed Segan. He seems to be a very fine gentleman." A good catch as some had put it but she didn't like to put things that way like they were fish. "Ah, one that old can be ornery. It would have to be up to your mother to break from the spell or being spellbound." Which she had a question in there for Vanessa on beaus that maybe she might be able to answer. "Yes, those questions," pointing to Bea a moment then laughing. "I hope to have a beau one day," not adding it was possible and even possibly soon, "I'm not sure what to do with one."

Vanessa wasn't any older than either of her company at the moment. Same age or within a couple of years, more than likely, at only 19 years. "It is indeed Segan." She smiled fondly at mention of his name and looked from Mariah to Bea. "We have taken many a walk, and spent time talking, and have shared a kiss or two." Or three! Giggling quietly. "When you get close enough to a man who makes your heart flutter, you share things with him. Secrets, thoughts, aspects of life and time. He shares time with Ysa as well as myself."

It didn't sound so great to Bea when Vanessa put it that way. "I am not certain I want my heart to flutter. I have a hard enough time speaking when my heart is perfectly fine." It was a little embarrassing to admit, but in the present company she felt alright about it. "The last thing I need is to be caught stuttering like an idiot." Which she would do more so if she was nervous. And who needed that in their life?

"This is good, it would be harder if he didn't care for children." Probably have them part as she thought on it. "I've not kiss a man yet," admitting that which most would not. Socially she didn't know any better than to be honest. She liked all the other things said with it, understanding flutter for having been around such drop dead handsome males it did that even if nothing more.

She smiled softly to Bea and shook her head gently. "It's not like that. Not literally. It's just...a feeling. It makes your heart soar and your spirit warm, and any man would be more than lucky to have such a ray of sunshine to call his own." She nodded with certain to that, putting no weight into the fact that she had a stutter. It was the way she was, and there was nothing wrong with that. They all had little things about them. To Mariah she nodded. "Segan was my first kiss. Hopefully the only I will ever kiss." Thinking back to pre-winter, she blushed lightly. "I can't say that I wouldn't have kissed another, perhaps if I didn't know any better, but my parents told me and my twin when we were growing up, that kissing lead to being with child."

Her stutter had not really registered to Mariah. "That would be a difficult situation." By her words now she could imagine it. "Oh my, I can see why you may wish to avoid it but what if you can't? If one walks through the tavern doors that has your heart pounding and your head feeling like you might faint?" Sounded like getting the flu. Vanessa stole any thoughts more away, "I never heard that one, I sure hope it is not true." Mariah was that kind of naive that if someone told her that she would probably believe them until she found out different. She was back to Bea, "then if there is to be a man 
 in your life, it will take a special one to overcome any silliness you are less because of a stutter, it's nonsense."

"You are lucky, Vanessa that he is so good with Ysa. Some men are not fatherly material." Take her own for example! Shaking her head, she shrugged a little. "Usually I just hum in my head when I speak so I keep my words on track. It keeps my speech in a sort of rhythm so I don't mush my vowels and such. When I get nervous, or scared I just can't help it. I've done it since I was small." Not that it usually mattered to her, unless she was being really honest and then well, people could be painfully hurtful. "There is someone for everyone, my mother says. Sometimes the someone though isn't the right someone." She was ever optimistic, Beatrice was.

"It's not true." Reassuring Mariah and nodded to Bea. "I am very lucky that he is so good with Ysa. She's my sister's child, but my sister passed over the winter. I couldn't imagine anyone else raising her." Spoken as she reached to pick Ysa up and set her on her lap. "My mother told us that she had to court quite a few frogs before she finally got to kiss her prince charming, and that love happens when it is meant to." Looking between the women, she cleared her throat softly. "We all have quirks. Some are just more obvious, and you should be proud of what sets you apart from everyone else."

"Sometimes those frogs are toads.." which had her laughing before she quieted into softer words. "I am so sorry on your sister. I could not imagine.." leaving it go there as she could not imagine losing her sister. A terrifying thought. "She is a beautiful child." Which was a tribute to her sister without her needing to say it more plainly. "Sometimes the right one grows not along the same path as you and you part after a while." Like she felt happened with her mother. Her Da never spoke ill of her even if he probably had a right to. He just no longer talked of her at all. She was gone, dead in a sense and certainly had not been a mother for them. "I get distracted and forgetful at times." Which she admitted honestly.

"I think I might prefer something a little more subtle." Which made Beatrice laugh heartily. "I think it's quite nice though that you both have someone who you can call special in your lives. I am sorry for your sister though." Patting Vanessa's arm briefly she listened to Mariah's words with some gravity while nodding.

Thoughtful smile to Mariah and to Bea. "No need to be sorry. Even though she was young, she had a very beautiful and fulfilling life. The life she wanted. Ysa honors it every day. Don't you?" Looking down to Ysa who giggled and squeaked, kicking her legs out some. It had gotten dark, Vanessa hardly even noticed. "Shall we continue our conversation on way to the Thistle? I would love some cider."

"A lovely idea!" She rather liked the thought that little Ysa was an extension of her mother's life. It made a sad state less so.

Getting up she needed to stop in the book store again, made her think of her sister. "I will be along shortly." So she was off again across the way.

Standing, she propped Ysa on her hip and nodded. "See you soon, Mariah."


-continued in the Thistle-

Date: 04-27-10
Poster: Karina Streetborn
Post # 14

Visit to the Smithy

Things felt.... strange since their little fight at the Tavern the other night. Though it hadn't lasted long and they had made up that same night, Karina still felt odd about it. Especially since it had been she to start the whole disagreement. She'd been kept busy since then and with all the excitement of Vanessa's engagement, she hadn't had the chance yet to make amends. That would change today, when she took a long lunch break and headed across the square towards the smithy. It wasn't the first time she'd brought Rhett lunch and had a basket over one arm, full of plenty of food for both of them. She was wearing a dress today, of which she owned few, so the sky-blue scoop-necked frock might be recognized. Straw hat to cover her curls and protect her eyes from the sun. She stepped up towards the porch, looking and listening for signs of him working outside though he could be inside as well.

Rhett tried to think on what had happened that night that got them into a near break up but for the life of him, every time he tried to sort it out, it left him more confused and with a headache. Finally he gave it up for the heat of the forge was not helping matters especially on a day that was proving to be getting hotter. Temperatures rising into the upper eighties. He had abandoned the sword he was fashioning on the anvil, cool at this point and certainly would need more work. The coals had been dampened and the door left open to the smithy. Although there was a large room with all the swords and weapons he'd made that were for sale, the smithy consisted of a rather large cottage too. A second floor and even a live in attic above that. He was downstairs but sprawled out over the couch in the room beyond the weapons room. One that separated the kitchen and small bedroom from that initial room. He was asleep for the medicinal tea he drank to get rid of the pain in his head.

Nobody outside, and she noticed the coals were dampened so she stepped past the porch and indoors.... into an abandoned room. Maybe he'd gone elsewhere for lunch? She took a moment to pull off her hat, the back of her hand swiping fine beads of sweat that had formed beneath. It was a warm day and even hotter with the forge. Karina looked around for a moment, wondering if he was here in another room or just not at home. "Rhett?" She called out his name but it was rather quiet, uncertain as she stepped slowly into the next room only to see him sprawled there on the couch. The sight made her smile for a second. She sort of wanted to curl up there next to him but after their fight... she just wasn't sure. Instead she stood there halfway through the doorway, not wanting to wake him but maybe he was waking already after her call?

He was with little clothing on, only wore a bib over a bared chest when working the forge. That was off, half hanging on the chair it was tossed over. Doused in an unnatural sleep, the sound of someone calling his name, half tangled in a coverlet from the couch, he ended up rolling off it in a groggy state to the floor. One could tell he was fighting the dregs of sleep to consciousness. Cut off pants his only attire. The thump onto the floor had him fighting the coverlet off and at first it might look like the coverlet would win for he only got tangled more. That was until eyes focused in on someone standing there. Blue eyes lifting as he stilled. "Karina," a bit surprised or half wondering he was still sleeping.

Oops! She grimaced when he tumbled off the couch, setting down her basket and going over quickly to help him win the battle against the coverlet. Even so she was fighting laughter too, he looked so groggy and confused. Giving the coverlet a tug to free one of his arms, she settled into a crouch beside him there on the floor. "Sorry.. I didn't mean to wake you up." There was a sheepish smile and then she was studying him, noting just how deeply he'd been asleep and the lines around his eyes. The smile became a frown of concern. "You alright?"

"You're not a vision in my dreams." Which would lead to a correct deduction that she featured in his dreams before. He was slightly feverish but something that was breaking. Probably the real cause of his headache. With the coverlet tugged away, limbs were not so akimbo as he managed to get up on the couch to sit next to her. One hand lifting as fingers were run through the mass of disheveled curls in an effort to wake up more. "I'm not sure how long I've been sleeping. I had a nasty headache I took some of that medicinal tea for." Hand easing down to set against his thigh. "It is good you woke me, anyone could have come in here as it seems I left the door unbolted too." Which he had a lot of pricey weapons that could have been taken. Not that the chances were good in that area for the type of citizens about but there was always the chance someone from the port area on leave of a visiting ship could have wandered in. "Yes, I'm fine." Whether he was or not, he was enough to answer her truthfully. "How are you?"

"Nope, not unless we're both asleep." A slight smirk as she helped him up then sat on the couch next to him. She eyed him when he mentioned the headache, and it wasn't like him to fall asleep in the middle of the day like that, especially with the door wide open like he'd mentioned. All signs of something amiss and so she was giving him that sharp gaze. "You're not fine.. you're sick." Worry had her speaking bluntly. The back of her hand lifted to rest against his brow. She was no doctor but certainly had seen enough to know that a fever meant bad things. It was probably just a simple cold but people died of those too sometimes. "At least it's Spring," that muttered more to herself... meaning, at least it was not winter when the frigid temperatures might worsen a simple cold.

He noticed the picnic basket as coherence was becoming clearer. "I built a gazebo out back, we could go out there where we'll be out of the direct sunlight and enjoy the light breeze." One that was warm thankfully so or it would do him more harm than good. Presently the fresh air would do him good and something to eat as he could not earlier. Although he drank plenty of water and tea. "I think there is still some tea too. Pot of it still simmering," over the low heat of the pot belly stove.

She dropped her hand and narrowed her eyes at him when he chose to overlook her concerns. Stubborn man. A short sigh and she nodded. "Alright, but after that maybe you should close up the shop and go back to sleep." A medicine that could do wonders. She rose from the couch and collected the basket, tucking it in the crook of one arm then going for the stove. A piece of leather used to lift the kettle by its handle; she figured she'd bring the whole pot out, since she had cups in the basket. She joined Rhett again to step outside, and indeed, there was a gazebo there now. "When did you have time to build that?" A bit flabbergasted, did the man not sleep?

"Over the past few weeks, it was to be a surprise," with his words fading off as he drank in the fresh air, warmth filled as well the scent of flowers. "I thought maybe you could help me fill the planters around it with flowers." He had not really gardened before because he never had to or wanted or needed to. It would make the gazebo fancier like that she would enjoy or so he hoped when it was to be a picnic here than going out.

A surprise - for her? She shot him a look which became a slow smile. A genuine one as she nodded. "Sure. It's real nice already but that'll make it beautiful." And she stepped over to admire the gazebo, setting the basket and kettle down before tilting her head back to look up. "I love it." She announced with a hand running down one of the sturdy beams. "You did a good job of it for being a blacksmith," that was meant as a light tease as she gave him a soft smirk.

"I did other things before I got into mostly blacksmithing," he designed the hilts and fancy work down the blades of the swords he made. So that talent, using his hands, was extended to building the gazebo, although it was not something he made a profession of like his friend Sean. He settled onto the bench near where the picnic basket was. It was as one taking the weight of the day from their shoulders or in this case being up to walk out here had taken a small toll for his not being so well. But it was good for him too. "I am hungry finally," which meant he had not been for a period of time. Also a good indication that whatever had ailed him was on the way out.

Those sharp eyes of hers noticed the way the short walk had tired him out, and she fixed him with that same look of concern as before. Sitting on the bench beside him, a hand lifted to rub along his arm, a wordless gesture of sympathy that he was feeling poorly. Then she reached for the basket. "I brought a few different sandwiches, turkey and roast beef and plain old cheese, so you can pick whatever you think you'll handle best." A bottle of cider and one of potcheen were also lifted out and set on the bench beside her. Though that was more to get them out of the way, for when she reached for a cup, she would pour Rhett some tea from that kettle instead.

"A turkey sandwich sounds good with the tea." He would add a shot of the potcheen to it and probably sweat the last of the flu he had from his body within the hour. He was watching her with the press of a smile to show. "I'm glad you stopped by today." A lot of reasons and certainly it was good for him that she had. "I was thinking of making screens for it so that we could sit out here without being bothered by the bugs, especially the mosquitoes. Screen should fit inside so one got the breeze and sunlight when angled right." More mused in thought though hazy presently as he dug into his sandwich more in that he knew he needed to eat. He ate about half before going for the tea to drink.

"Turkey it is." She pulled out that sandwich and started unwrapping it from the wax paper Hazel had packed it in, then handed it off to him. Eyes lifted when he said he was glad she was here, and she returned his smile. Briefly but it was there. A shot of potcheen was added to his tea without even being asked, for that was a tried and true old remedy she'd swear by as well. She gave him the mug and let him eat. A nod given to his words but mostly she was just watching him. "That's a good idea." A pause. There was a reason she'd come here today, a lot of things needing saying but she still was at a loss how to say them. So for now she reached for the cheese sandwich for herself. "Segan and Vanessa are engaged." She shared the news in case he'd not heard it already before taking a bite.

He would have some more of the tea, with more of the potcheen, not too much, just the shot. Her words had him pause, "that's wonderful. I'm not totally surprised but always nice when something works out for they have been seeing each other for a while. Are you going to the races tomorrow?" If she was, he planned to take her provided he wasn't on death's bed.

"Yeah, I was sorta wondering when they'd make it official, myself. I'm gonna move out of the cottage... but Vanessa suggested I build my own place, somewhere on the grounds. Guess I'll do that this summer." The idea of her having her own home was still a mind-boggling one she was getting used to. An exciting idea as much as it was daunting. A nod to the mention of the races. "Of course, I never miss them." There was a quick grin there. "Are you?"

"I will help you do that as well others I know. Kind of like a barn raising but it will be a house. That has been done here before. Aye, I hope to and hope to bring you if you are willing?" Half teasing so he must be getting well! "You always seem like there is something you want to say but never get to it." Call it intuition too and it came out presently for his mind was still a bit bungled not to.

"Really? Thanks," that to his offer of helping to build her new place, which she was relieved to hear, since she knew nothing about building a house herself. "Sure, I guess I'm willing." She teased him right back with a sparkle in her eyes. One that faded when he went on. He was right and she nodded finally. "Yeah...about the other day." A slight sigh as she gathered her thoughts. Putting those thoughts into words, that was a whole other story and she was still working on that skill. "I didn't mean to get all crazy on you. I just - I've been with other guys before. Like that, but it wasn't like that at all with them. It was.." she trailed off and shrugged. "It didn't mean anything. And afterwards they sorta tended to treat me like a leper." A smirking curve of her lips there that faded into the serious when she went on. "It never bothered me much. But with you... that day felt - it meant a lot to me." Eyes dropped and she fiddled with a napkin that was hanging out of the picnic basket. "And I guess I was afraid it didn't mean the same to you, and you might start actin' like I had boils on my face too." She was trying to make a joke out of it but that was a thin cover for the worries she'd had.

"It didn't mean anything with them.." which he would clarify! "Well, it means something to me. I've been with another but that was different too." Which he would not get into as he didn't need to know the details of anyone else she had been with before. "What matters is here and now and how we feel about each other. Know that even if we don't end up together like Segan and Vanessa, it meant something to me. I would not have done so if it would not mean something for I am, in the very least, your friend. Friends don't use the other and toss them aside." So he hoped that bit was clarified. "If we were to stop seeing each other more as a couple, then it would be something we talked of and agreed, and I would hope our friendship remains."

A blink and she looked up at him again while he spoke. A whole mishmash of thoughts and emotions were evoked by what he said, of being friends and not ending up like Segan and Van. She told herself to swallow the insecurities that rose to make her angry, just as they had the other night. "Yeah. I know.. I should've known better. You're miles better than any of those other guys." And cared about her more too as friends and... whatever else. She realized then what he'd said about being a couple... was it official then? They hadn't spoken of it since that day in the Celtic Gardens but certainly they'd been acting like a couple. She guessed, anyway, having never been involved that way before. "Anyway... I just wanted to say Sorry for reacting that way. Especially since I might again. Fair warning." The start of a crooked smile there. "I'm rubbish at these things and you don't really deserve that."

He was watching her carefully too as much as he could concentrate presently. "I hope we do, but it is more to let you know how I feel about things, how I feel about you." In short, he respected her, something rare for some to do and that respect hadn't changed. "You know, I'm just waiting for you to say you want to be my girl." She had turned it down and he'd not ask again but wait until she took the step. He wasn't expecting her to right now either. She needed time it seemed and he was giving her that time. "Aye, you might and I might, we both have tempers but they will either make us stronger or have us realize we are not meant for each other that way." Only time would tell and he was comfortable in letting it show them which way it was. "Can't say I'm much better, I've not been involved with someone I cared about like this with you."

Well. There it was again.... the question of commitment. After all they'd been through since the first time he'd asked, it seemed stupid to fight it. Still she didn't answer it for a moment, listening to him go on instead. He was speaking bluntly and he was right - either they'd figure out how to not let their tempers get the better of them, or not. Until then? Why not live in the moment? His final words decided her, softened her enough to bring a smile quirking her lips. She spoke on a lower key with sea-green eyes lifting to his. "Don't you know I'm your girl already?" She had been for awhile even if it took her this long to admit it.

He was watching her, the sweating out of the bug he had already starting. He looked a bit groggy at the moment but he was coherent still. A smile pressed only to widen fully, "I was hoping that you were." As in he'd not assume. "I think I better get some sleep, get rid of whatever this is so I can take you to the races tomorrow." He would take the pot of tea in as he eased up, his strength was not back but it would come and come quickly when it did.

"Well, I am." His smile was infectious and brought a broad smile to her own face, pausing long enough in their exit to stand on her toes and give him a kiss. The reasons why she'd first said No had not disappeared and maybe some day it would all come to bite her in the arse. For now she had decided to throw caution to the wind, for once. He was simply too hard to resist. The kiss was a sweet but brief one, to get him inside and to bed. She collected all the rest of their picnic supplies and walked inside with him. She'd never been back to his personal rooms but she followed him to make sure he got there alright. "Do you need anything?" She could bring anything else he might need by the smithy later.

He brought one arm around her to hug her close being he had the tea pot in the other. The kiss met but didn't linger for his not feeling well. Most likely he was no longer contagious. "You brightened my day already. I'll bring the tea into my room in case I get up later and still not feeling well." All the while he was heading back in and through the rooms to his bedroom. One that was a very good size in the back of the place. Bed wasn't made but the rest of the room was fairly neat, considering it was a bachelor's place. He set the teapot to the bed side table before falling into the bed. "Maybe come by later tonight around dinner time see if I'm up being I should eat something more then.." but he was fading already as he was talking and eyes closing. Hopefully she would close the doors behind her when she left. Lock them too, "Key is right there. Extra one on that side table, to get in later if you need to."

Karina trailed him to the bedroom, glancing around with brief interest before watching him all but collapse into bed. Must be that tea. She gave a nod but she was hesitating to leave. Then with a decided air she kicked off her shoes, set down the picnic basket and climbed right into bed with him. Nothing erotic about it, she just wanted to be with him. "I'm not gonna leave you all by yourself just in case you do need something," she said just to prevent any protests. She pulled the blanket up over him and over herself as well, laying on her back next to him. She didn't push herself closer since he might not be in the mood for snuggling, but all the same she wasn't about to leave his side. There was something supremely satisfying about doing that for him, something nobody had done for her but at times she had really needed it.

Wasn't really a question of in the mood or not, he was out of it. An arm draped over as he turned and was out like a light. Luckily no one would bother them for the street was patrolled. Most of all he needed sleep and his body demanded it presently. He was aware of her being there and maybe that was why he looked so peaceful in his sleep.

With him asleep she nestled in a bit more against him and closed her own eyes. It was so cozy and comforting she couldn't resist a little nap. She slept lightly, alerted by his movements and when night fell, she'd get him up long enough to eat one of the leftover sandwiches and have some more tea. Somehow she ended up staying there the rest of the night, laying down with him when he fell asleep again. She wondered if Van would notice that she never came home.. but any explanation she'd have to come up with would be worth it.

Date: 05-08-10
Poster: Davin Byrne
Post # 15

Floral Shop

Davin was wandering around the commons, from one store front to another without going in. He'd stand there then take a few steps as if he were to go in but then change his mind and travel along the walk to the next store front. Some he skipped over totally before stopping in front of the floral shop window and checking out all the sample arrangements including the live small gardens.

Maggie glanced overhead at the sun as it began to sink, descending towards the horizon. She had a bit of time before the rush at the Tavern began, and she'd saved her favorite errand for last. Maggie had a basket over one arm and a  grass-green gown hugging her tall slim frame, its color bringing out the brightness in her blue eyes. Half of her dark hair swept up and the rest cascading in waves along her shoulders, as she came up to the floral shop with a spring in her step. It was her favorite store in town and she could lose herself for minutes, looking in the window. It seemed someone else had beaten her to it, as she noticed a man standing there. Coming up to stand beside him, Maggie followed his gaze to the floral arrangements, amused by his intent stare. She thought he had the look of someone trying to make a decision, so after a moment of shared silence she offered a smile. "If you are looking for flowers for your sweetheart, I might choose those." She motioned towards a basket of flowers. "It has nearly eveyr color in the rainbow, so her favorite must be in there... and it simply looks like Spring, don't you think?"

The pricing didn't seem to bother him one bit and she'd see his profile first as he was so concentrated on the various offerings he didn't even notice her approach. The straight line of his nose had an aristocratic edge that he might have royal blood in his veins or just looked it. Hair was a rich chestnut brown that glossed in red tones where the sunlight angled over the strands. He had grown a moustache over the winter but had shaved the beard and trimmed those whiskers too into a neat line. Upon hearing a voice next to him, he startled a moment as eyes of a bright blue turned upon the woman. One that was indeed pleasant to gaze upon. Caught him up there a moment too before he cleared his throat with a dashing smile to follow. "I was trying to decide between an arrangement like you have pointed out and one of the dish type gardens that would last many years." Indicating the Shamrocks in a pot along with the amaryllis and tiger lily in pots, "something for my mother. I don't get to see a whole lot of her anymore though she is not that far from me." Which he should feel guilty about and did. He knew they wished him more often at the Quinn Manor.

She noticed how she'd startled him out of his reverie and the amusement grew. Now she had a better opportunity to see his features, which she rather liked the look of. There was an intriguing combination of aristocracy and ruggedness about him, the sense of a complex personality that could quirk a person's curiosity. His dashing smile was returned with a charming one of her own, before she glanced back to the window. Though snuck a glance back to him at the mention of his mother... not his sweetheart! "How sweet." Her smile deepened before she turned towards the displays. "Hm. Both are very nice... does she enjoy tending plants, or would something that is meant to die within a few days be better?" A lilting tone to her voice and a knowing one, for some people didn't exactly have a green thumb.

"Maybe the flowers," he really wasn't sure if she had a green thumb or if everything died like that she tried to tend. "She lives at the Quinn manor and it becomes a madhouse there so," her suggestion helped him to think it all out. "I'm her only child and with my father long gone," he was sure there would be no more. Not that his mother was old but she was getting there. He had hoped she'd marry his uncle who had been like a father to him in place of his father after his death but she didn't seem interested. He couldn't understand that part. Although now that he was getting older he might reconsider those thoughts. Relationships, love, were complicated things. He was watching her eyes instead of the plants, interest shifting there now that he made a decision. "The flowers are for Mother's Day." Nothing like doing something the last moment considering the shop might not be open tomorrow but there was a sign saying they would be for the occasion, not something usual. "What is your name fair lady of the flowers?"

Maggie noted the way he tended to leave sentences unfinished, hanging in the air under the assumption that she'd fill in the blanks herself. Which she did. It wasn't an annoying quirk though, indeed it was sort of endearing. She also didn't miss the mention of his father's absence, and though she didn't know whether that meant death or abandonment her smile warmed. It was with a pang that she realized that tomorrow was in fact Mother's Day, and it made her wonder what her mother was doing at this moment... whether her father would bring her flowers tomorrow morning or perhaps some smaller siblings whom Maggie had never met. She tried not to take that a step further to wonder whether they even still lived. Then he was asking her name and the bright smile returned. "Maggie. Maggie Callahan. And you are?"

"There's a sadness in your eyes that has me wondering why for na'ever a tear should fall, but light up the day with your smile and dash away any gloom." There was an elusive dimple when he smiled and it showed up following his words. His hand had lifted and almost touched her cheek with the backs of his fingers but caught himself, lowering his hand instead. "A lovely name Maggie, one that tells of spunk. I am Davin Byrne, I am the Keeper of the Lighthouse," which he indicated o'er the distance that could be seen out on the cliffs across the port from where they stood.

Apparently her mood had been transparent for a moment and she looked a bit sheepish, his words answered with a bittersweet smile. "I have not seen my mother in a very long time," she said softly and would leave the explanation at that. Moving along to nicer venues for the conversation. "Davin of the Lighthouse. It's a pleasure to meet you." Her own smile was quick, bright as daylight and dimpled her cheeks easily. Following his point she squinted a bit to see the lighthouse up on the hill. "I have been wanting to walk up there. It must be a lovely view. Do you actually live inside?" If so she imagined it must be almost like a fairytale for its remoteness and its beauty.

"I am sorry," more for treading where he didn't know there was pain and unwittingly so. So the apology and that such a situation existed for her. He didn't intrude any further. He knew what it was like to have lost a parent, no chance of ever seeing him again until he was dead and buried too. "The light tower is open to the public, with caution for the height. It has a breathtaking view of the lands and of course over the ocean. You can see more of the ships sailing greater distances. Like a clutter of white butterflies against blue some days. The waves crashing up against the steep cliffs below," he was there for the moment he spoke on it then back. "The ocean bears strange gifts of that which it takes and then gives back. Some it never gives up." Unless one went diving for lost treasures. "I live in the adjacent house that is quite big for one person. I suppose it was built in case a family was to live there. There is one other occupant I'm told has been here for as along as anyone can remember, which would make the old orange tabby quite old. Older than any cat could live so maybe Sir Eric is as mysterious as the sea itself and not of the ordinary at all."

"If that is the case, then I will definitely come for a visit soon. You make the view sound nothing less than heavenly." He had a way of speaking that painted a picture in her mind, one that had her gazing towards the sea cliffs again with an absent smile. Her blazing blue gaze skipped back to Davin, brows arching curiously at the mention of another resident.... and when it turned out to be a cat she laughed. "Or perhaps it is that view which keeps Sir Eric young at heart." There was a sense of teasing in her tone then before she asked a question of curiosity. "What sorts of gifts have you found? I imagine each has its own story..."

"The call of the gulls," which could barely be made out flying about the cliffs, "the wind in your hair, the scent of the sea filling your lungs, invigorating them. It is a sight to be seen. I hear tell that Logan Cunningham scaled the wall." Which was short of amazing but it seemed that particular man was good at such. His laugh mingled with hers on the last. "Sir Eric might be the Old man of the Sea incarnate. It was his acceptance that gained me the position as the Keeper." Although he knew the position had been offered to him, a youth at the time, old enough to be on his own, and not knowing where his feet should land. A hope of his mother that he would stay here so Laird McDonough intrigued him with the job that was open at the time. "Things like this," which he reached into his pocket to draw out an unusual item. It was an odd disk with strange markings that fitted in the palm of his hand as he showed it to her. One of the many unusual things the sea gave up to his shores.

"Ahh, I love the sea..." She took a breath as if able to taste that salty tang from here, and then snickered at the comment of Sir Eric. "That is probably good that you are friends rather than enemies with such an august creature." Her dimple reappearing before attention fell down to his hand, or more specifically the item in his hand. She drew in a breath and reached up instinctively to touch it, delicately. "That looks very old. Those carvings..." A finger traced along one of them. "They do not look like they're from around here, do they? I wonder what it was used for." Her inquisitive mind was running away from her, and realizing that, she drew her finger back and looked up at him again with a smile. "It's amazing."

"No, I plan to stop by Alexander's Imports shop to see if he knows. It seems to be something of ancient gods of an ancient people. Hopefully it is not cursed. Some might think that what the sea claims is then cursed for the lives that it usually takes with such objects." He obviously didn't hold that view but best she not hold it completely just in case. He would have to have a druid check it out. "Where are you from? I've not seen you before although it has been a while since I've been out socially." He'd taken to finding artifacts all the spare minutes and only now realizing he needed to get out amongst others again.

"I would think that an object would only be cursed if its owner wished it so. And that if its owner had been a good sort... it would actually be lucky." She tilted her head, wondering what his opinion was though it didn't seem he really thought it cursed. Or else he would not be carrying it around in his pocket. "At least that is what I'd like to think." There was that dimple again before she answered his question. "I am from Wales originally, and fairly new here. I wait tables, do some cleaning and other chores at Thistle Tavern." Where she had never seen him, either. Perhaps he liked to keep his own company.. which would make sense considering his occupation. Keeping a lighthouse was a solitary thing after all. She realized they'd been chatting in the street for a few minutes when somebody brushed past them to go inside the floral shop. She motioned towards the door, "I need to pick up a few things inside. Would you like to come along to get that arrangement for your Mam?"

"I would agree with you on that ideal. There are many items associated with the sea that are cursed or so believed. Usually things that got in the hands of pirates. Especially the notorious Unholy Trinity, Doom, Black Beard and the Stirling Scourge. They like their titles I was thinking but I think it was others that gave them the titles for their deeds. It is said that Doom had his servants tongues cut out so they could not repeat what was said. They didn't know how to read or write either and that he captured and sold slaves." He had gotten away with the tales of the sea and came back to her response, "a waitress for the Thistle. That will surely help Alex out and a pretty lass would have customers more sated. One to offset the more stern yet respected tender." His job was a solitary one and it showed for how much he was talking when he finally got the chance. He cleared his throat with a gruff chuckle under his breath. "I think that would be a good idea before the shop closes and I'd be rushing here tomorrow. Perhaps I shall eat dinner up at the Thistle once done here." So he would see her back and get a good cooked meal too. Presently they went inside as he would see to the delivery of the flowers for his mother and she to the things she wanted.



Date: 05-12-10
Poster: Kevin Finnerty
Post # 16

Certain Something's Shoppe

It was one of those unpredictable spring days where the sun shone most of the time, but an occasional shower could appear.  Sorcha had the door and windows of her shop open, letting air in as she set up several new displays.  She had set out vases of fresh flowers here and there from Lisette's on small tables and counters scattered around the shop.   She had just set out lace and cotton gloves and was stepping back to study the display.  Sorcha was dressed in a lightweight gown, one with a skirt of pink, bodice of white and pink sleeves. The bodice had tiny pink roses scattered over it,  Laces allowed a white underlay to peek through.  Her hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail with a white ribbon.  She was humming to herself as she worked.

Kevin had been tied up in meetings, counsels, and training for the past two weeks with those of these lands. He was informed fully on the situation of the missing King who still had not been found. Nine months had passed since his disappearance and the outlook looked grim. He knew that it would be soon, even now, that he would be considered departed even if a body was not found. Such morbid thoughts were only dispelled by the fact he was to see Sorcha again. She would be finished with the gowns by this time that he could pick them up. Attired in a dark brown tunic with a russet shirt beneath, he held the stoic appearance of a knight yet more casual for lack of armor. The crest of Ballicastle embroidered on the tunic over his heart, black pants and shorter boots. He greeted those he passed as he headed from the castle to the commons. There was something in those blue eyes that spoke of the mischievous lad he'd been and never quite died within. He looked over the names of the places as he passed. There were quite a few stores, many more than he remembered when here years ago. Certain Somethings was finally caught sight of as he headed there taking him across the street. With the doors left open he continue right on in. "Good day Lady Sorcha." Coming upon her as she stood there admiring something before her.

She turned when she heard Kevin's voice and smiled brightly. "Sir Kevin.  It's so good to see you.  I have the gowns you requested from Brigid MacKinlay and accessories to recommend for each."  She called over one of the young women who worked for her and handed her the box of gloves then joined him.  "How have you been?"  She asked as she led him to the back.

"I appreciate you saving me the trip into a lady's dress shop." Something the first knight of Ballicastle would have dreaded. "I am thinking of staying longer in the lands, with permission of course, and having the gowns sent on ahead so the Queen need not wait for her new spring ensemble." Then Chadrick would need not suffer and in turn he would not suffer the consequences of late arriving gowns. Following her into the back as he glanced over the various things sold on the way. Definitely more a woman's shop but the items were of the highest quality. "I am doing fine, although it has been said I am working far too much," which was more the usual for him with his men and the new trainees to see if they had what it took to become a squire than assigned to a knight from there.

There was the men's shop next store with a open door connecting the two. "Brigid made the gowns so that with a little change here and there, they could go from every day to more formal." Of course, the Queen would have ball gowns for very formal occasions. Sorcha had the gowns covered and proceeded to uncover them one by one. The first was a sky blue silk, with a sweetheart neckline and a hint of lace at the hem of the full sleeves. The second was a shade of rose what would compliment the Queen's skin with a scoop neckline and three quarter length sleeves that belled at the elbow. Eyelet lace trimmed the sleeves and neckline. The last was lavender in color with a delicate print of tiny flowers in a slightly dark shade. She'd let him look at the gowns first before showing him the accessories.

The finery was somewhat lost on the knight, one with a warrior's mind full of swords, knives, battle maneuvers, training of others, sweat and toil. He was afraid to touch such fine material. "I am sure she will be pleased with these gowns." More hoping she would be but in spite of Danielle liking her finery, she was not hard to please, provided they were what was in fashion and finely made. "Will you be able to pack them to be sent so they are not ruined?" They looked so full, yards and yards of material to him as in how did one pack such finery? "Do you think they would be best shipped than by carriage?"

There were gloves, shawls, small purses, and all the other necessities to go with them. "By carriage would be perfect. I can see to their packing so they'll be in perfect condition when they arrive save perhaps for a little touch up and her ladies will know how to do that. " She wanted to giggle at the expression on his face but understood. Enough men had come here to find gifts for their ladies. "I'll even pack the accessories in tissue paper."

"Thank you. If by carriage then I will hire one just for this purpose. A gown express that will go straight to the castle gates so there is no chance of them being jostled, misplaced or ruined in any way." Sorcha would probably understand the predicament this put him in and he would see to it as he saw to the training of his men, with precision. Detaching the bag of coins it would cover everything with extra, for Chadrick at least had an idea of how much all would cost, Kevin was clueless there too.

If there was too much there, Sorcha would certainly return the extra when she packed everything into the carriage. The gowns could actually be shipped by wagon but she didn't want to put the poor man into a panic. "Thank you, and of course, if the Queen isn't satisfied or would like something different, we'll either refund the money or replace the item." Her profit for the month would certainly be a good one but she was also honored to be able to help. "Is there anything else, Sir Kevin?"

Niklas' concern over his sister's welfare was a growing one as time went on. A concern his brother shared with him and the two pooled together some coins, quite a few coins, to cover the cost of buying her a few hats. Something she loved and hadn't been even wearing them for the depression that beset her. Something that would take time but it tore at their hearts to see her going through this. First he went down the wrong street only to double back and head down the next, luckily the shoppe he was told about was here as he quickly stepped inside. Did a bell tinkle?

A tiny one. And when he stepped inside, the young lady who worked for Sorcha stepped forward and curtseyed. "May I help you, sir?" Of course, the lass, who's name was Teresa, was just a touch flustered. Two handsome men in the shop!

"I'm sure she will be pleased for Ballicastle doesn't have quite the styles you have here in Heathfield. I think she likes the idea too that they were bought from here. Most likely she will be ordering more. Chadrick doesn't spare any coin where his wife is concern, the only angel he has." Being he had ten sons and not a single daughter. He heard the bell, "I wish not to keep you from your customers." Having gotten to see the gowns being purchased, it really would be when Danielle got them that they passed the grade or not. Which he was sure they would.

This was the first time for him to be in a ladies' shop. He felt like a fish out of water but he had a smile when the young miss approached. "This is Sorcha Beirne's shop?" Whom he had briefly met and this lass certainly was not her. "Hats, the latest styles and the fancier the better. They would be for my sister," not adding who lost her husband, which was the reason for the hats to hopefully cheer her up. "She is blond and about this tall," which his hand was up a couple inches over her head but not too many. "Something colorful, cheerful, perfect for spring and summer." Giving a quick glance about as his hand lowered for if Amory or any of the other knights caught sight of him in here there would be the devil to pay. He moved in a bit further having a tall shelf block him from view through the window.

"Teresa is out there, though that's a familiar voice." She had covered the gowns again to keep them free from dust as she led the way out. "Good evening, Niklas." Having heard his last, she smiled at the girl. "Teresa, why don't you get the new ones that have just been delivered. There would be some simple, some fancy and some in between, some with feathers, some with flowers and some with both!

"Yes it is, a familiar voice." Which had him chuckle. Wasn't so bad being in this ladies' shop if another male came in. Of course had it been Birdie in all his finery, that would not count. He was starting to ease up as he followed Sorcha back out. "Good to see you again Niklas." With a slight dip of his head to the King's man. A little solemn too for his loss. Sire and brother in law.

They certainly had a lot of feathers on them. He was trying to look at the one and had to keep blowing the stuff away from his mouth and face. If either suggested he try one on, he might growl. Worse thing about that was he could get away with putting such a hat on and look pretty! Which, of course, he didn't wish to do. "This hat with the black feathers and this one white flowers and black and white stripe bow. Also one of those shawls, the black gold and silver one." Feathers were starting to make him feel itchy.  "Sorcha, Kevin, good to see you both again." Handing off the lot of feathered hats to the younger lass.

The sales girl was trying not to giggle as Niklas attempted to keep the feathers from his mouth. She gave a small curtsey before taking the hats and giving him a price. Being he knew Sorcha, he could have credit and pay later.  The hats and shawl were all wrapped in tissue paper, and the hats placed in boxes while the shawl was put in a small box. "It's good to see you as well. Would you like those gift wrapped?" Though the boxes were pretty in themselves and would just take a bow to dress them up. "How is Julia?"

"Yes, however to make them fancy as they are a present and even the wrapping and bows are something my sister use to save." Why ever he would never understand but whatever pleased her was the aim. "I have the money with me too so I don't forget or get caught up in my work or sent off to Luneberg." Why he as keeping up with anything he owed. Here he paused, "not so good. With each passing day there is less chance she will ever see her husband again, brother in law, brother in arms and long time friend." She could tell by the tone in his voice that it was not something easy to talk on and not get emotional. Enough was said to get the picture of the mental state his sister was in and himself. Julia had always been emotionally sensitive.

Kevin was bothered by the whole situation as were many of the knights throughout all the sister lands. He wandered into the next store through the connecting door that had things for men, leaving Niklas the privacy of conversation with Sorcha.

She nodded at Teresa who took the packages into the back room so she could wrap them. "Things have become that dire then. Is there anything I can do? For any of you?" She knew Julia had those in the castle to help but still.  "And how is the situation in Luneburg?"

"If you are friends with her, maybe pay a visit, have her go out for tea or something?" He wasn't sure but socializing would probably be good for her. "Claude had made amends with his brother, as much as he can be trusted but it seems he can be, just such doesn't come easily." For a number of them. "He wont let anyone else go into the area they disappeared, although it seems whatever vortex was open, is closed." If she understood such things. "It is believed they are lost in time for good, if they are even still alive. Three of those that went in were found dead but not the king or three of his horsemen. Trevor had been ordered by the other three to stay here no matter what. I don't think Claude could exert any command over him. I don't know if he will try anyway now that they are gone and cannot demand." Depended on Trevor's commitment to a command he didn't like. That much Niklas knew.

"I know Julia of course, but haven't seen her in some time. I'll be certain to visit her though." She frowned as she listened, understanding a little of such. "Claude will be regent only until the son of the King and Queen comes of age?" She knew the story of course, most citizens of the lands did.

"The twins are getting big, growing like weeds. Wont be long before they are three." At least one of the siblings had married and had children. He or Aleric would need to do so to carry on the family name but so far that wasn't happening! "Aye, it
will have Carlton become King of Luneberg in time.  Best they don't title him too soon so he can have somewhat of a normal life." Time would tell but he would serve Karl's heir and be there to counsel.

Beatrice found herself again wandering, this time in the commons. She liked the way the shops lined the streets and how neat those streets were. Neat as a pin, she smiled at a few of the shop owners she was getting to know. It was nice to be a part of that dynamic. She had a mind to purchase some other items for herself to make her current room feel a little more like home. Humming, she thought of heading to the Linen shop. It was going to be her place of  employment after all.

Teresa returned with the boxes, offering them to Sorcha who then offered them to Niklas. "I'll make a point of going to visit her and take gifts to the twins as well. Perhaps she'd like a day at the zoo." She couldn't imagine how it would be to suffer such a loss, especially when one's children were so young. "And how is the Queen holding up?"

He handed over the coins that were needed to cover the cost before taking the packages. "Jerry," calling to the lad he knew was waiting outside. "Take these to the Clock shop," offering him a few coins to see to the task. That was all he needed, to be walking around the commons with women's hat boxes. "I think she would like that, it is hard to part her from the twins presently. The Queen, she is much stronger than Julia. Maybe it is due to living through many disappointments, even a death of one of her husbands." Not that he would lump Karl in with the Queen's past husbands but more in that she probably was tougher to weather the heartache. "I didn't wish to take up all your time," glancing to where Sir Kevin had gone, a doorway to another shop it seemed. One with men's things in it from what he caught sight of. "Thank you for all your help."

"I'm glad to have been of some help, Niklas. I only wish I could have been more." She smiled at him. "And please, if there's anything else I can do, just ask." She wasn't certain how she could help but one never knew.

Humming right along, she stepped into the Certain Somethings Shop with a wide smile on her face. Her eyes lit at a familiar face, but those eyes moved on toward the merchandise with a sense of awe. "Hello Niklas. Oh, what pretty fans!" Bea wondered if perhaps they were handmade. She had once seen a lady make lace, but some of these were quite elaborate!

He almost collided with Bea as he turned from the farewell with Sorcha. Hands quickly shooting out to touch upon her shoulders with a light grip that he didn't send her flying. "Hello Beatrice," clearing his throat, "sorry about that," like almost mowing her over. Hands were back down as he stepped to the side. "Sorcha, this is Beatrice if you haven't met her?"

Kevin returned with a top hat on and a cane tucked under his arm. White gloves had been donned as well. "Think I could get a spot acting with the Valdez family?" Being their theater was also located in the commons.

"No, I haven't. It's a pleasure to meet you, Beatrice." She smiled then turned to look at Kevin and laughed. "Well, you certainly look charming enough. I think you could manage."

She really shouldn't have worried about being bowled over, since Niklas was right there to right her. "Oh! Thank you!" Laughing, she turned toward Sorcha, her smile still beaming and broad. "It is nice to meet you as well. You've wonderful things." Turning toward the next stranger, she blinked a few times before putting together the theater with this Valdez family. There were so many people! So many families!

"I will leave you to your customers. See you on the king's field Kevin. Oh, this is Beatrice. Seems she has not met the Valdez family yet." He needed to get out and walk off the emotional stir talking on Karl and the knights brought on, so walking backwards, he was around just in time to step out into night, well, eyes would adjust as he headed for the fountain to take a seat on its wall for a bit.

"I hadn't no. But thank you, Niklas." As he backtracked away and into the night, Bea's own features crinkled with confusion before they cleared. Obviously he had something weighing on him this evening. But at least he wasn't cranky about it! Bea thought him somewhat of a reserved individual.

Kevin understood what Niklas was going through even if it wasn't so close to the heart as the fellow warrior. "Nice to meet you Beatrice. There are a lot of things here that will probably interest you." Teresa came out with a cape to add to the effect as he took it from her to swing around his shoulders. "Maybe a villain?" Waggling his brows but he was too good looking for the part, though some were good looking, he still didn't have that sinister edge to him.

"It is nice to meet you, Kevin. I was just telling Mistress Sorcha here how lovely the items in her shop are. I love the painted fans. Are they done by hand?" Beatrice laughed a little at the cape swirling, thinking that Kevin was a good natured fellow. "Not with such an endearing smile, no, I think not." It was becoming easier to be around complete strangers, so much so that she only had to hum softly every now and then.

"With the hotter weather coming up, you should invest in one to cool yourself with on those hotter days." Maybe he would make a good salesman? He removed the top hat with a smooth bow, coming up he placed it on Sorcha's head instead.

It wasn't shopping that drew Maggie to the marketplace at such an hour. It was a nocturnal stroll, some cool fresh air to clear her head. Slender arms were crossed beneath the swell of her busom, a light shawl draped around her shoulders against the chill. The hems of her pale green skirts barely brushed the ground with each strolling step. A smile was given to those whom she recognized, or who recognized her, but mostly she was enveloped in her own  thoughts. The evening shadows weren't enough to hide a familiar face though and she paused by the fountain, head tilting as her lips curved gently. "Niklas, wasn't it? Maggie.." She reminded him just in case it understandably had slipped his mind, adding with a teasing note, "or Sleeping Beauty as you most graciously dubbed me..."

"Of course, Niklas." She watched him a moment, her expression unreadable. She looked at Bea and nodded, "Yes, they are and by women of the realms." She adjusted the top hat, tipping it slightly. "Fans are also a lovely accessory."

Nik was distracted as the area he occupied was fairly empty. There were many memories dealing with Luneberg, his family, his father dying for he would not betray Karl to his brother. Beheaded in front of them, though his mother and sister didn't know it at the time that he had been there in the crowd. They were hard times, going undercover, his family lost to him and believed dead, or so the reports were sent on Aleric so he was spared them going after him too to murder in cold blood. He blinked from where his mind had wandered, hand dipping in the water to swirl around came up with a sprinkle of drops Maggie's way. "I would end up Rip van Winkle I think should I fall asleep unattended." Teasing her back as he rose from his seat. "How is the lovely Thistle Waitress this night?" Relieved to pull his head out of the dark past as a smile came with a dimple to follow.

"They are wonderfully made. I wonder, the gray one with the beads? I think I should like it very much." It sort of glowed, like the moon didn't it? She loved the beaded flowers. "I am searching for pretty things to make my home a pretty place." When the finer details of course were all worked out, she hoped to know exactly where her new home would be. She was excited about this new facet of her life and it seemed that, that excitement was bursting to get out. "But it is a good idea, Kevin."

"Have you met Sean MacGrath of MacGrath Furniture?" If she was moving into a new home, certainly she would need furniture. "There are a number of shops to see to your needs, there is also an import place between the commons and port.The port is not a place for a young lady to go at night
unescorted. Even daytime is it not a good idea to go alone. Too many ships not of these lands that come and go."


Date: 05-12-10
Poster: Kevin Finnerty
Post # 17

"Ah, that's silk and it is a lovely piece." She would have to see to replacing the items she had sold today. They'd be similar but since they were handmade they'd also be unique. "That one is 25 coins." She nodded and motioned toward the square. "I think you'll find everything you need."

Her own thoughts were none too bright and cheery this evening, but like Nik, she was grateful to escape them for a time. She gave a laugh and a skipping step backwards when he splashed that water her way. She gave him an angular smile at the compliment, regaining that step she'd lost. "I'm well, and how are you? What are you doing upon the fountain wall by your lonesome at this hour?"

One handed he swept the cape from his shoulders, red silk lined under black as he came around to place it around Sorcha's shoulders. Certainly amused.

"Oh, I don't go towards the ports. My mother taught me far better than that." She gave Kevin a winsome smile before turning toward Sorcha. "I should like to purchase that fan, if I could?" At the name, her head tilted as her eyes clouded a little in that covered head of hers. "I do not think I have met him. But yes, your probably right. I'll need furniture. Maybe. I'm not sure." Laughing, she shook her head then, clearing her eyes. "I am going to be working for Mistress McGuire at the Linen's shop."

"Some of the places have furniture already. Basic things that you can replace at your leisure." She moved over to the display to remove the fan, leaving the cape in place, after giving Kevin an impish look. "There was some here when I moved in. The shop has living quarters above it." Before that she had stayed at the castle.


"Been busy, making clocks, seeing to matters that is required of me. At least spring is here or it would be greatly depressing." A slight shrug with the last before giving a glance behind him. "Wide and deep enough to go splashing through." About knee deep or more on others depending on their size. "There is something soothing about fountains, maybe it is their constant low gurgling."

Maggie nodded to accept his explanation, gaze going behind him when he spoke of the fountain. "Aye. It's a peaceful sound, and continuous. Something at least that never changes." Her gaze had gone inward for a moment, but then returned to Niklas as her smile revived. "At any rate it seems a good place to sit and think. Which I seemed to have interrupted for you, I'm sorry," she bit her lower lip lightly as she offered a sheepish smile.

"Sean is a good sort, around your age. I'm sure he'll come out of his cave soon enough." If he remembered correctly on the young man's age. Leaving her in Sorcha's care at this point as he peeled off the gloves to hand over to Teresa along with the cane so that they could be returned. "I actually came tonight aside the reason of those gowns for Queen Danielle, to ask you out while I'm here, Sorcha." Now wouldn't it be embarrassing if she turned him down but then again that would not be like Sorcha to do it rudely but politely if she wasn't interested. Doing it in a way he would save face.

"Nothing to be sorry about at all. I dare you to walk it's edge. First one to fall in." Taking off the light boots he wore, it was certainly warm enough out as well the water was warm.

"Queen Danielle is Rick's mother, isn't she?" She was sure she had that right, but still! One never knew. Still though, she nodded over the information regarding the basics of furniture. "There are so many here who are talented. It  is of little wonder that so many people come to Heathfield to stay." She was mesmerized by the gray fan, and took out several coins in order to purchase it. Smiling as it was packaged and wrap she handed them over before wandering out of the shop with a quiet 'thank you'. She didn't want to interrupt their moment. But Bea couldn't resist the giddy little laugh when she was outside. Wasn't that sweet?!?

The fan was placed in a box after being wrapped in tissue paper and then placed in a cloth bag that she had made with the shop name embroidered on it. "Twenty five coins, Beatrice, and yes, she is his mother." Cheeks turned pink and she looked at Kevin, her smile growing. "I would be delighted, Kevin." Bea was given another smile as she left.


Maggie sensed there was something dark going on within Niklas that had caused that look on his face when she happened upon him... but he seemed determined to brush it off with some fun and she would comply. She arched a brow and regarded him mischievously. "I never refuse a dare. Very well." She reached down to pull off her slipper-style shoes, one at a time.

"I will start, being I made the dare." It could end rather quickly here but he would just dare again! He was up onto the precarious lip as it was all hand made and so not really even as he moved along, one foot  in front of the other.  He missed a step taking him to the street but made it look like it was planned. "Like that.."

Which made Maggie laugh. "Ah yes. Exactly like that." A teasing glance sent his way. One hand lifting the ends of her skirt as she alighted the fountain wall. Bare toes pointed as she walked along the wall, slowly. She moved like a dancer but would that be enough?

"All right, you go first," sneaky devil as he was back up and imitating her ballerina, or whatever the male equal was.

Eyes widened, arms windmilled, and in she went with a splash!

So he had stayed dry and she got wet! He was actually laughing, "we're not too good with this," back up on the wall as he offered her a hand.

She surfaced with water streaming down her face and the dark mass of hair that had come unpinned. Her shawl floating off and away as she caught her breath and began laughing. "No, I'm afraid not though I will insist that you got the wall wet which made me slip." She stood in the fountain and took his hand, as if about to help herself out.... but instead she gave it a sharp tug to pull him into the water right along with her. As if he would be allowed to stay dry when she was soaked!

"I'm here for a week or two, so the day after tomorrow if that is a good time? A picnic lunch down at the lake." Which there might be others out and about too.

He was trying to keep to the wall even with her tug, it was slippery with her getting it all wet! Laughing too, as he teetered but tried to maintain his balance. Over compensating he ended up back on the street, her hands slipping from their hold. "Let me go get your shawl," with the motion of the water it had floated over to the other side's outer edge.

It was somewhat disconcerting to see her friend Maggie go down into the fountain, but another glance saw Niklas was with her so Bea didn't worry. No, not at all! She was sure he would assist her friend, so she laughed a little once more. Spring was certainly in the air for some.

"I think that would be perfect. Teresa can take over the shop for the day." There were no shipments coming in and she had been working for Sorcha long enough to not get flustered, plus she had been training a lad to work in the gentlemen's shop.

He was quickly around to collect the shawl and try to get the extra moisture from it. "Hello Bea, maybe you are better balanced to walk the edge of the fountain?" Sending the dare her way!

"Darn you!" She cried out but she was laughing, as he remained impervious to her tugging. He escaped to dry ground unscathed, which made her smirk as she watched him. For a moment. Then, even as he moved around the fountain she waded through the water and around to where her shawl and now Nik had gone. A wave was given to Bea before she reached up to wrap one hand around the sodden fabric of the shawl Nik held. "The lady is soaked and the gentleman dry...  not very gallant for a Knight, is it?" Brows arching as glowing blue eyes danced.

"I think I heard a splash." Very pleased she has accepted as he motioned to the door, moving in that direction and out onto the porch to watch.

"I'm not a knight, actually. A king's man in service to the king under other skills, one of which is not falling in the fountain." Leaving her to take the shawl, he rolled up his pants real quick and was into the fountain splashing her way. "The Lady is becoming saturated.."

"Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am not." Who could resist a dare like that? "I'll try my luck." Setting aside her newly purchase items, and her apron, she moved to the edge of the fountain as Niklas jumped in after Maggie. "What do I get if I am successful?" She was learning from Maggie what it meant to tease others in a good way, rather than the way she was used to being teased.

"What would you like?" Not having a clue and not to step on toes either, it was easier to ask. It could be assumed correctly that Niklas was less sensitive to choices, would do just about anything.

"So did I." Teresa was starting to clean up and just grinned as she glanced up. Sorcha handed the young woman the top hat and cape and followed Kevin outside. There were tables and chairs though the porch wasn't a covered one. "Ah, it must be spring. Someone's playing in the fountain."

Maggie shrugged. "One is not much different from the other, besides the title and ceremony of getting tapped upon the shoulders with a sword." She had never been much for titles, considering she'd met plenty of knights who were sleazy and stablehands who were noble. She respected Niklas for being a King's Man whether he was a Sir or not. She let out a little squeal of laughter when he jumped in and splashed her... if she wasn't soaked before she certainly was now. "Bea! Help! This rogue is harassing me!"

"I do believe it is Niklas with Beatrice and another." Which had him chuckling.

Bea laughed and looked at Maggie. "What should I ask for, if I am successful? What think you fair?" She pondered the fountain, and her own sense of balance. Was it really any good?  "I have been dared my lady! I am to balance on the fountain's edge." She couldn't help laughing now, feeling a sense of lightness.

Maggie was trying to both shield herself from Niklas's splashing and splash him right back at the same time. Head turning to speak to Bea, "ask for him to cease these abuses!" She was only kidding of course, clearly she was having plenty of fun with it.

"Alright then. If I can, then Maggie and I are allowed to, dunk you at our leisure." Which Bea thought was just fine.

"Yes it is." She was laughing as she made her way to one of the chairs and sat.

Which he was chasing her at this point, still splashing. "Ja, you are a sprite little one but I will get you my pretty," trying to sound sinister and darting this way and that while splashing, sending one Beatrice's way too.

Bea kicked off her shoes and after a sideways glance toward Niklas reached under the Turkish pants she wore to peel off her stockings. If she went in, she didn't want to soak them! "Very well then." Licking her lips, she edged one foot onto the fountain edge before leveling herself up. She didn't remain level for long it seems! Rather than graceful prance about the fountain's edge, Bea took a few steps, teetered and then fell side long into the fountain with a scream and a splash. Obviously, Bea lacked some grace.

She was squealing with laughter as she tried to run, which was difficult being waist-deep in water! So it was a sluggish chase about the fountain. She turned suddenly, splashing Niklas right in the face and then let out another laugh when Bea came tumbling down too. "Glad you joined us!" Laughing merrily as she teased.

He managed to shield his face some but it had him right on her, lifting her up by the waist for he was that kind of strong, like a rag doll to then toss her again. "Take that my pretty," and he was coming after her again. Determined and focused was some of his better qualities.

Maggie yelped as she was grabbed right up, easy to do for her slender frame, though admittedly she didn't fight too hard. Partly because she was laughing so it was difficult to fight. She landed where she was tossed with a splash, but instead of running again, this time she turned around and went straight for Nik. One hand grabbing for his wrist with surprising strength to hold at least one arm at bay, and with the other hand she attempted to dunk Nik face first. "I will not surrender without a fight!" She declared mirthfully.

Sputtering a little, Bea finally came up for air. With the covering on her hair slipping off, she swiped one hand against the waist long, braid that was left behind. "Oh, Christmas!" She'd have stomped her foot if that would have helped but the water was deep given her lack of height. It just past her waist, Turkish pants floating amiably there in the water around her.

She might be strong but she wasn't that strong as in the twisting he tackled her, taking them both under. Disentangled he was up only to see Bea from down under and so sent a good splash her way, one formed by the sweep of his hand.

"I'm afraid the ladies aren't faring so well." She laughed again, eyes sparkling.

"I would say they are all wet." Certainly were from the looks of it. He'd been just as mischievous and that old streak surfaced as he swept Sorcha up into his arms and headed down the steps and towards the fountain. "Maybe you would like a dip too?"

"Eep-" just barely enough time for that before he tackled her underwater. Where she remained, even after he resurfaced and went after Bea. Lungs straining, she held her breath nonetheless and swam around and behind Nik, tweaking one of his toes along the way. She did the same to Bea before popping to the surface like a cork, hair all in her eyes which were very blue even in the darkness.

She squealed as he picked her up, arms going around his neck. Not surprised he could lift her of course. "No, I would not!" She declared, laughing. "It's not at all dignified!" Not that she really cared about dignified but well, it was a good protest after all.

It was hard enough to right oneself after having fallen, and another to be splashed at on purpose. Laughing as she was first splashed by Niklas and then by Maggie, she did her best to return fire, laughing all the way while trailing behind a very long, very wet braid of dark hair. "I'll get you both!" She was using both hands now to splash at them.

"Piranhas in the fountain!" Yelling it as it had a few out and about take notice. Well, there was a crowd gathering all around the square watching the three having fun. Seeing Kevin coming their way with Sorcha in his arms he dashed, splashing more, towards them and sending a good splash their way just as Kevin got near enough to get them both wet.

"I think I like this more than putting you in the fountain." With her arms about his neck but he had gotten that far when a splash came their way like a sudden spring rain. "Water's warm."

She giggled at the piranhas comment, then yelped again when Bea started her splash attack. Which was returned!

Warm but it still startled her. She yelped then laughed, burying her face against Kevin's neck. "I don't mind it at all." Was it the water she meant, or being held?

He held out his hands at this point, one for each of them to take, once he was out of the fountain for it was getting late. "Shall we adjourn to the tavern and dry off? There are extra clothes in one of the rooms in the hall that leads up to the guest rooms." Something that had all kinds of treasures in it of clothing, shoes, cloaks and so on.

After splashing Maggie one last time, she waded toward the edge of the fountain and took Niklas' hand to be hauled out of the fountain. After she grabbed her head covering of course! "It is rather nice. The water. I agree though, it is getting late." Her hair was going to take forever to dry at this rate, and it was night time. Damnation. Dripping, she stood there for a moment before gathering her things up and holding them away from her.

"Thanks Nik!" Laughing as he back peddled a few steps before easing Sorcha from his arms. "How about we take a walk since it is so nice out and discuss further plans." Being they were not soaking wet and it was a fair night, warm breeze, stars above and a woman who felt right in his arms.


Nik's hand was taken and she used it to step out of the fountain daintily, well.... pretend-daintily, for one could hardly be dainty when breathless and sopping wet. The ledge was of course wet too which made her bare feet slip a little as she sought her balance. Her shawl was also laying in a dripping pile on the ground, no help to her but at least the night was warm.

"I'd like that. Let me tell Teresa to go ahead and lock up and so I can grab my shawl." She smiled at the three water sprites. "Good night to you all."

He liked the breathless part, "not often I can brag about leaving two pretty ladies breathless." Dimple dipped with his smile this time and the added twinkle in periwinkle eyes.

"Good night," giving a wave of his hand as Sorcha took her leave and he wandered that-a-way too but remained outside.

Maggie's reply was to smack Niklas in the chest with the back of her hand... but she was smirking broadly and it overflowed into laughter only a moment laughter. "Aye well, don't let it go to your head."

"You try wading in a fountain waist deep in skirts. That'll leave you breathless." Of course, she was joking! Smiling at Kevin and Sorcha, she nodded while walking along in bare feet. "Good night to you!"

"Well, it could have been better to brag that two pretty ladies left me breathless," laughing with the backhanded swat to his chest, Bea's hand in his still for a moment longer until she was situated, grounded. "Race you up!" and he was already tearing off in that direction.  "Night Kevin, Sorcha," while on the run past them, boots in hand as he did remember to grab those up on the way.

It didn't take her long at all until she was rejoining Kevin. She smiled as she did, sliding her arm through his. It truly was a perfect night for a walk. Niklas had her laughing as he flew by. At least they didn't have far to go.

Maggie was sleuthing out her shawl and slippers, both in her hands when Nik took off. A glance exchanged with Bea and she laughed, taking off with long light strides in the chase.

When her hand was returned to her, she flushed just a little. "Race you?" She would look a sight trying to race with her arms full of dry things, and her feet bare but she was game to try! So off she went too!


Date: 05-16-10
Poster: Marcy McGuire
Post # 18

Linen, Lingerie and Baby Shoppe

Although late in the evening, Marcy sent word to the Thistle for Beatrice to meet her here at her shop. The note was short but concise as this was a better time to talk business and if she had all the items she had her practice on, to bring them at this time.

Beatrice took the note as an excellent sign, letting it mean nothing less than good things as she packed away the handkerchiefs, the set of gloves and the table cloth. Each had been done as neatly as she knew how. When she stepped into the shop it was with a brilliant smile, and a neat outward appearance. Skirt and bodice of muted green, a pristine chemise of white with buttercups embroidered at the collar and three quarter sleeve cuffs. As usual, she covered her hair and wore an apron. One never knew when you were going to need pockets. "Good evening!" Her voice all but bubbled over with excitement!

Marcy had a little table set up with tea and light biscuits, more a pastry than biscuit. Her attire was of a pale moss green with white lace shaped in a V down the front with scalloped edges over her shoulders. A band of silk about her waist was tied off in a subtle bow at the back. She waited at the door with the sign that still said open. All customers were done and highly unlikely any others would show tonight. Her smile turned bright as she opened the door upon Beatrice's approach and closed it over after her but left unlocked. "A very good evening Beatrice, how have you been since we last saw each other? I trust you had no setbacks with the embroidery?"

Wide-eyed was one of the few ways to describe Beatrice and be completely accurate. She had the sort of eyes that were guileless as they could be clueless, but the cluelessness was rare unless of course she was confused about something. When she looked at Marcy, it was with eyes brimming over with sunshine. "Oh, I have been fine really. Very well! I hadn't any problems, and hope you like my work." She felt a little self conscious about the items in the basket but with a steadying breath, set them atop the counter and set each one out for inspection.

"I've heard only good things, as people will talk. Most will only say something if there is something good to say in these lands. What goes around comes around is well versed to all." Her smile filled with genuine warmth as she indicated where to set the basket on the cleared off side of the tea table. "Come, sit, have a cup of tea." She was already looking over the work done on the gloves, and handkerchiefs. The tablecloth, which was the hardest and largest sample she took the most time with. "You do beautiful work, Beatrice. Steady, practiced hand with precise stitches." Smoothing the tablecloth out on the corner beneath where there was plenty of light from the wall candle with the mirror pieces behind in its enclosed cage. "I would like to offer you a job, here in the linen shop. It pays the average a week with a flat included upstairs. Violet occupies one and she will help to train you but I know you will do well for part of such a job requires a sunny smile and good disposition. One willing to help others out that are looking for something in particular and if we don't have what they need, then to suggest another shop that does." Before she would continue, "are you interested?"

It would have been wrong for Beatrice to say to herself that she hadn't been worried about what Marcy would think, but her words and the warmth of her tone soon eased out those jumpy nerves she had. Of course, she couldn't help twisting her fingers onto one another but that was a given, since Marcy was now offering her not only employment but also a place to call home. Imagine that! With her mouth suddenly dry, she had to lick her lips a few times before her tongue could properly move, with a little snatch of humming before hand. "I am very interested, ma'am." She would be working for Marcy, so she hoped that the appropriate title suited her. It was only polite and Bea knew plenty about that.

Taking a seat adjacent to hers she poured some of the herbal tea in each of their cups. There was a quality about Marcy, Bea would gradually notice, of having the tranquil affect on her surroundings the longer one was in her presence. Though young in features she had quite the experiences behind her to pull upon for wisdom when needed. "Please call me Marcy as I know you will respect our work positions. I know in most lands such is not traditional but most in these lands is not traditional." Which she felt Beatrice was probably already coming to realize even if no ruling body could ever be perfect. Simply, humanity was not perfect. "What are your aspirations and goals in life if you have any," knowing well that this job may only be a stepping stone and if she could help her in this particular step, she would do her best.

Bea laughed with only the tiniest hint of nerves. "Alright then, Marcy." Taking the teacup, she sipped at the tea after blowing across the surface discreetly. "I hope maybe to have my mother come live here. I noticed that Heathfield has so much to offer someone like her. Maybe we'd have our own place, a little farm maybe. Now that I have gainful employment it would be nice to send home word and let her know I'm doing well." Not that Beatrice would be boastful.

"There is room enough for two in the flat above but if living with your mother should prove a problem, then we shall see about getting you a cottage nearby." There were always solutions to any given situation once they arrived but she set out one option already for consideration down the road. "Your mother would be welcome. You may have noticed that family is encouraged in these lands."

Nodding a little, Beatrice smiled hugely. "I had noticed that most of the families in Heathfield would be considered small, nomadic tribes in some lands." Sipping again at her tea, she set it aside before smoothing down her skirts. "To tell you the truth of it, I honestly hope to simply be able to enjoy life. I suppose that would mean eventually settling down, perhaps children. For right now though, my first goal is to enjoy a warm summer." Since those in Scotland were rare indeed.

Which had her laughing, laughter that lilted like soft chimes on the breeze. "There are actually a few that have no family or no family here. Those that settled a very long time ago, had children that are having children. For those that do not, they will enjoy the experience of becoming like family with others here. Provided they wish such. Not all do and that is what makes the people beautiful, those differences. Although, there are traits that are not tolerated and if one wishes to be such, they usually don't stay here." She was talking elusively but she felt Beatrice was bright enough on that certain kind of level to understand her meaning without needing to get into great detail. "I can have empathy with your goals. They are not much different than mine. I have my friends, my shop, my everyday things and if a man should become a permanent part of that one day, I would not rule that out or say it could never happen. It can happen to even one older." Giving one of those sparkling quick winks before taking a drink of her tea. Once done it was set to the saucer, "would you like to see the room?"

Beatrice could only agree with Marcy's words and what she said of others, how they fit in and if they didn't sank in well. She wasn't completely naive most of the time, just some of the time but usually she was pretty affable about it. "I'm not in a big rush, for any of that. Right now, I'm just going to enjoy myself and make friends." Which would be a greater change from her childhood. Bea was still learning some of the nuisances of day to day interaction, but she learned fast! "I would very much like to see the room, please?" She might be able to call her Marcy, but Bea was far away from dropping her polite habits. Or her neat ones. It was a thing.

Marcy appreciated the kind words, please, thank you and so forth used in being courteous. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. She was Druid. She was also the Queen's cousin and in that she always felt her own behavior reflected on those she was related to. Rising from her seat as she stepped away. "You can move in tomorrow if you like, soon as you are ready to start working. As you can see, the shop is linen and lingerie. We also carry baby products in a separate section devoted to infants and toddler needs." Pointing out the various areas as they moved through the store to the back. Beyond the first door was a kitchen, well stocked with a couple tables, ovens, storage room, pantry and a privy. Steps led from there to the upstairs. "You will eat here, make your dinners and such, work it out between you and Violet in sharing or if different times then what works best." That would be left to them, "I rarely stay here for I've a manor across the bay," all the while making her way up the steps to a hall that had three doors, one on either side down the one end and one up the other front end. Smaller one that she used when staying here instead of making the trip back to her manor.

Following docilely along, Bea kept it in the back of her head to get to know Violet and see how and if the woman enjoyed cooking. If she didn't, then Bea would happily indulge herself with the small chore of making sure that they were both fed, and fed well. "Do you bake goods for your customers? Is there anything in particular that seems pleasing to them?" Wandering, she smiled over the tiny little clothes. Someday. And not a moment before! "I'm sure Alex will assist me with finding someone to help me move my things here tomorrow." Bea wondered what sort of sights she might see from her room? Hopefully there was a little of everything in that sight.

Joe had a twofold reason for stopping at the shop tonight. One was to purchase gifts for his mother and sister-in-law, Danielle, and the other was to deliver a bouquet of flowers to Marcy. He had other sister-in-laws of course, but they would be taken care of over the course of the year with birthdays. He stepped inside and glanced around, then moved forward a few steps and stopped right there. Not too much wandering for him.

"There are a few lads that hang around the Thistle for that very prospect, of helping someone with their horses, moving, lugging luggage and so forth. Tommy, Johnny and Joey I think their names are. The tea table downstairs is there for that very reason. Many of the older ladies like to come to have some tea and see what is new, meet with friends. Sometimes they buy," which had the light laugh to follow. Marcy obviously didn't mind and in fact enjoyed the older women and the stories they had to tell. Of course they would hint at some lordship or duke for Marcy to maybe meet. Unlocking the door she opened it up to a spacious enough living area with peat burning low in the hearth. A vase with some carnations and roses sat upon the mantel above. There was a couch and a small table with chairs off to another corner. A desk in another.
"There are two rooms that can be used as bedrooms or turn one into a study or office." The bedroom had a bed and dresser that matched made of a fine oak with carvings of acorns, leaves and vines. "Sean MacGrath sells furniture, all handmade. There are other such items up at the Thistle in a couple storage rooms you can have if you find something you like. Some were from old manors that ones took over and had their own furniture so they go there." The windows had been open to air out the flat. Handing her the key at this point. "I will await you downstairs. Take your time and check it all out." She didn't need her breathing down her neck in that sense. There was a privy shared between the two bedrooms whose windows overlooked the front side and back. The backyard sported a splendid English Garden, gazebo, small pond and various benches. So with a smile she left as she heard the tinkle of the bell downstairs. "Someone  has come in." Parting words as she was light on her feet heading down to the kitchen then out into the room. "Joseph, how good to see you," perhaps surprised but a welcome one.

Nodding as she followed along, Bea kept herself in check with a bit of humming every now and then. When she got nervous or too excited she often fell into a fit of stuttering. Carefully entering the opened room, Bea just stared with her mouth agape. Bea had shared a room with her sister, Jesilyn for as long as she could remember and her room at the Thistle which was generous by most terms seemed dwarfed by all the space here! Knocked momentarily speechless, all she could do was nod as Marcy took her leave to see to an unexpected customer downstairs. Soon enough, it would be her duty to see to those customers as well but for the moment, all Bea could do was touch some of the surfaces and look out the windows.

"Evening, Marcy." He offered the bouquet of roses, daisies and tiny orchids with a bit of babies breath. "These are for you. A thank you for a lovely day, and for your suggestions for my mother, though I wasn't able to buy anything here, yet. She was delighted with the wildflowers and I had a brooch that I had found sometime ago and had cleaned up. Nearly forgot about it."

Her smile bloomed as she crossed the room to accept the bouquet of flowers. The scent appreciated for a few breaths to fill her lungs. "They are beautiful, thank you so very much, Joseph." She really enjoyed getting flowers and it brought a nice pink hint to her cheeks. "Would you like some tea?" Which she brought them to that very table. "I am sure your mother loved the fresh picked wild flowers best of all, Joseph," turning to face him once the vase was set. "In a few moments you will get to meet the young lady I am hiring to help me run my store. Between her and Violet, I will have a lot more time on my hands." Which was something earned after all these years, a new step in her life that was being embraced.

Bea was still up there, rattling around in her very own little space. It was a feeling she couldn't quite get used to thinking was actually happening. She did however take a moment to look down at her hand, at the key that lay there before doing a little jig of a dance while stepping out into the hall. She didn't want to keep Marcy waiting, and hurried with a light step down toward the shop front. "It is wonderful! I can't - " Falling back a little, she grinned hugely, if a little bit embarrassed. "Good evening!" Bea wasn't sure if she had met the man next to Marcy yet. She could very well have, but then again, there were so many people she'd probably forgotten his name. Which was rude and horrible, but bound to happen!

"That's good news," he grinned at her, knowing she rarely took time to herself. Then again, he got the same way when they started working. "That means I'll have to steal away from the mine more." He turned the smile on the young woman. "Good evening to you as well."

"I'm Beatrice. Marcy has probably already told you that though." Weren't they all cozy? It took Bea a split second to notice the fresh bouquet of flowers that Joe had delivered and it made her cheeks go a little pink on Marcy's behalf. Turning toward her new employer, her smile brightened a notch. "It's a perfect space, ma'am, I mean, Marcy. I can't wait to make it more ... me." Which meant color and as much of it as she possibly could find.

"This is Joseph McAndrews of one of those very large tribes, or clans as the Irish call them. There are quite a few Celtic descendant families here as well many from other countries too. All seem to get along with each other." Her smile warmed again. "Good, that is what I was hoping to hear and you can get started as early as tomorrow." Then upon Joseph, "I think you may well be at a point in your life that I have reached too." One to finally give them more time to spend doing fun things than all work.

"A pleasure to meet you, Beatrice. I take it you're a newcomer here then?" He bowed slightly as he greeted her, a habit taught long ago. He wondered if she had met any others of the family though if so, it was likely the younger ones.

"You are one of the ten originals, not one of the one of the ten. Like Rick." It was a little joke to Bea now just how many of those McAndrews' there were! Giving him a quick, bobbed curtsy of muted green skirts she beamed. "I am a newcomer or somewhat of one now. Miss Marcy here has just set me to her employ and I am very excited to be so." She could have been a chatterbox if she was comfortable, but at the moment it was more nerves than anything that made her run on so. "What brings you into the shop this evening?" Curious, but polite she glanced side long as the flowers if only to speculate as one would.

She made sure the flowers had enough water as the two spoke and got acquainted. Smiling away for it had been a very long time since a man bought her flowers. Oh, she was beaming next with that thought as she rejoined them. "Beatrice is very talented with embroidery and that lovely touch will set our product apart from the others." Violet also did embroidery as well selling, for one could do embroidery when there were no customers or the other was seeing to those that came in. "I should close up being we are done here." Which she would see to bringing the tea tray with the cups and all to the kitchen and set to quickly wash them.

Bea wouldn't allow that! She had a guest, if not a customer so she gently took the tray from Marcy's hand. "Let me see to this, as you've a guest, ma'am." It just couldn't be helped! Bea had it ingrained in her head to be polite!

"I'm sure you'll do very well, Beatrice." He looked at Marcy as she spoke and smiled. "Indeed it will. And it seems I missed the offer of tea." He winked at Marcy then chuckled as they both seemed to have the same idea. "I came to see Marcy."  He'd see to the gifts later. It wasn't urgent.

Setting to washing the tray and storing what was left, Beatrice pondered if the market and the season might sustain the use of lemon to make meringues. It also gave Marcy and Joe some much needed privacy since, as he said, he came to see Marcy.

Laughing as Beatrice swept away the tray, "thank you Beatrice." She knew Joe didn't come this late to do shopping. "The tea would have been cold by now and I was thinking it would be a nice walk to the Bay Cafe." Which she would need an escort to as it was down towards the port though in a more residential area. "Come see the work she has done," which she would show him the gloves with the embroidered cuffs, the men's handkerchiefs and lastly the tablecloth which had various flowers, leaves and vines along a scalloped edge then a masterpiece in the center of it. They would wait for Beatrice to see her back as it was the proper thing to do this late.

She came back shortly there after, having taken care of the dishes and food storage. "I am especially proud of the tablecloth. It took the most effort. But the gloves, they are finely made themselves. It was no hardship stitching ivy and daisies along the cuffs." Though she knew Joe wasn't shopping, Bea didn't mind talking about her work. Nothing boastful, just informative sort. "I don't think I'll sleep a wink tonight. I'll be too excited." Which of course meant that she'd no doubt fall asleep like a log just before she was supposed to get up.

"I think we could manage that." He hadn't been to the Cafe yet but had heard about it. "You have a sale on both the gloves," which would be for Danielle, "and the tablecloth," which would be for his mother. She had her own suite of rooms and sometimes like to have small dinners for her friends. "I know two Ladies who will appreciate the work very much."

"Wonderful!" Beatrice couldn't hide the joy she felt from her features. She had never made something that would be sold before, so it was a marvel and a delight.

"You have your first sale Beatrice!" Smiling up to Joseph as she knew the two items would please both the ladies he bought them for. "You can take with them with you tonight." She would show Beatrice where the boxes were and pretty paper to wrap all up in with a bow.

Oh! Beatrice enjoyed wrapping presents! It was all about cutting just the right amount of paper, using the proper length of twine. Making sure all the corners lined up. Setting herself right to it, she boxed and wrapped the tablecloth and then the gloves.

They both had him smiling and while they were getting the gifts ready, he did study some of the items. He'd be getting all kinds of questions when he gave the gifts.

A nice bag to carry both wrapped gifts in and cards attached that Joseph could write something special on or just sign his name if he wanted. They were back in short work from the wrapping table where all was kept needed for doing so. Almost everything they sold was wrapped unless the customer didn't need it to be or preferred to do their own wrapping. The service was freely offered otherwise. "Now," handing him over the bag with the packages. "Shall we get my carriage and see Beatrice back to the Thistle on our way to the Cafe?" Which would have been brought around to the front of the shoppe at this point.

"Sounds like a good idea to me." Beatrice would get to ride in style. He was over to stand at the door in wait. "Ladies."

Smiling, she made sure to grab her basket to carry along with her. "Thank you, Joe." He held the door after all!

Which gained him an alluring smile as she passed, green eyes lifting under the dark fringe of lashes before she was out. The carriage awaiting them with her driver, for after the visit at the Cafe, she would be heading home to Dunmore Manor. "There are stairs in the back leading up to a porch you can get into your flat from there instead of the need to go through the store." So Beatrice knew.

"Thank you for telling me. I don't want to go trampling through the shop with my things." Though I'm sure no one would mind, but still. Seated and on their way, she was happy for the short jaunt to the Thistle.

He helped them both in before climbing in himself and settled in. It would be a pleasant little trip, both to the Thistle, and then on to the Cafe. He smiled as he listened, content to do so.

When they did get there, which was quicker than walking, Bea hopped herself down with a mile wide grin. "You two have a wonderful time! Thank you for the ride, and I shall see you soon Miss Marcy." She couldn't wait to start working

"Good night, Beatrice. Again, it was a pleasure." She was out quick and he didn't have a chance to even make an offer to help. Laughing, he lifted his hand in a wave.

Which she had an extra key to the shop on her. "Take this in case you need to open or close the shop." By then the driver had set the carriage in motion. "Good night Beatrice, I will see you soon. Sleep well." And off she and Joe went.

Date: 07-31-10
Poster: Raphael O'Keeffe
Post # 19

Summer Night

The Commons was alive tonight as with the warmer weather those few diehards kept their vardos open or offered quick cooked treats such as a flatbread wrapped around vegetables and meats. A variety of variations that tempted the senses and taste buds. Raphael had worked late before taking a break and wandering the streets out in the commons. Eating here and there. Small shops that offered strange things off the beaten track seemed to open at night than during the day as he ventured to explore them. An old woman was reading palms on the back steps of her vardo with a line waiting to take their turns. The Valdez family were out and gathering a crowd as they acted out some scene that had a few acrobatic moves to it.

Sara enjoyed nights like this, warm, starlit ones with lightning bugs dancing around in brush and over grass, crickets and their song, and of course the sound of children allowed to stay up later, playing hide and seek. The Commons too was one of her favorite places to wander, especially after a long day. This one hadn't been spent at the office or shop in the hospital but tending the gardens, both the hospital and her own private one where she grew some of the more delicate herbs. She had bought a flaky apple turnover and had paused in her wanderings to watch the performance by the Valdez family while she enjoyed the treat.

Raph had wandered over by the fountain which was right across from the Theater. There was a scene that they were going on about rain but of course it wasn't raining, so they were pretending. That was until his wings came out and he rustled up a concentrated sweeping of air above the fountain that sent a spray over the cast and the audience. It had them startled at first but then laughing as he added to the scene. Not enough to soak anyone and on such a night it was actually welcome. Those who did not, just ducked out of the way. He eased back down as his wings disappeared. For those that knew about it, such a sight still was startling in itself and those who were clueless were left staring and then trying to disbelieve what they had just seen.

She had heard about the wings of course, but this was the first time she had seen them. For a moment she stared, fingers itching to touch them to see if they were real.  Then she  laughed and tipped her face up to allow the shower to cool her skin. She was dressed simply, in a skirt of dark blue linen and peasant blouse of white cotton. Worn off the shoulder, it was decorated with embroidery. Her hair had been pulled back with a ribbon, showing off silver hoops worn in her ears. A heart pendant hung at the hollow of her neck and she had a few thin silver bracelets on her left wrist.

Booted feet touched down along the wall of the fountain before he easily jumped down. The little show over of his part as the Play continued drawing the focus of the crowd back there. It was one that interacted with the crowd, drew some into it as laughing and clapping came in spurts. He wore a special shirt with pleats in the back to hide the slits, poet's style of a tan, brown pants and boots. Smile was infectious as focus lingered on the players before torn away as he stepped out onto the street and nearly ran over a lass for not paying attention. It was the heart he noticed first as hands naturally shot out to cup bare shoulders so that he didn't bowl her over. The action and reaction trigger quick as he was next stepping back. "Pardon, I didn't see you there."

She had been watching again until there was suddenly a man's chest in front of her. She let out a little squeak of surprise, eyes lifting to the man who apologized as he stepped back. "It's quite all right. That was a nice touch you added to the play. I'm Sara Devonshire." She offered her hand as she spoke.

Eyes were a golden bronze that touched upon hers. Smile swiftly in place as he took her hand up in his. Fingers curling beneath its palm as it was lifted to a very chaste kiss there just above her fingertips. Lowered away instead of a shake, "charmed to meet you Miss Devonshire, Sara if it pleases you as it would please me to be allowed to use your given name. I am Raphael O'Keeffe, wainwright, at your service."

"Please, I prefer Sara in fact, and if you are agreeable, I'll do the same. I've heard of you, Raphael, and that people are quite happy with the work you do." She offered a dimpled smile, cheeks touched with pink for the gesture. It was hard not to blush when a gentleman greeted one in such a manner. "In fact, I may be coming to do business with you."

"Ah, this is good to hear. Best business is by word of mouth especially when the word is good. I do my best with my skills which have been in practiced a good long time." Pausing a heartbeat to add with a grin, "since I was knee high to a grasshopper, my father started teaching me." Which seemed like a lifetime ago and had been ways for he had another, higher calling but the skills learned would keep him grounded in a reality he needed to live and work in this world. "Tell me of yourself, Sara, and then what exactly are you looking for that I may help you with?"

She had finished the turnover and so motioned toward the fountain. They could sit on the wall and talk, if he didn't mind. "I work at the Barrington Hospital, and have the herbal shop there. Administrative work mostly, and sometimes I help with nursing. What I was thinking was it would be nice to have a wagon to transport those patients who have been at the hospital for a while and take them places. Sometimes I think being cooped up and not being able to see the ocean or even here, in the commons, makes them feel worse. Of course, it wouldn't be those who are contagious." She smiled again, "Mostly those who are nearly ready to go home but still need time to convalesce."

"I have yet to meet the good doctor although I've heard a lot said in praise. Nor have I seen the hospital but that is more a good thing I would think. It sounds like you have a varied and interesting position there. What kind of herbs do you sell? Anything for a work weary body, muscle aches?" Moving to the edge of the fountain while talking and taking a seat after her; leaving a space between as they were still virtually strangers. "Do you wish a wagon or sort of carriage bus? A bit longer than the average carriage, comfortable seats, covered against the weather and would up to a dozen."

"He's a good man and an excellent doctor.  As for the herbs... all kinds." She nodded, waiting until they were both seated to answer. "And yes, I do. I make a salve that includes arnica, a little cayenne, lavender to make it smell nice among others. Those who buy it seem pleased, or at least, are kind enough not to complain." She looked at him thoughtfully. "Sort of carriage bus would be nice. That sounds perfect. We have a few covered wagons that are smaller to transport those who have no way to get to the hospital, but they're not suitable for what I said. That one sounds perfect."

"I have two built presently, so maybe tomorrow or the next you can come during the afternoon and take a look. See if either suits," at least what she had to say drew a picture in his mind then what he had that came close. If you bring some of the salve with you I can purchase a canister or jar," however she sold them. "Maybe something light that I can put in some tea to help me sleep when the night's sleep doesn't wish to find me..." slight smile to follow had a tipped boyish touch to it.

"I sell them in jars, so I'll bring one for you to try." She nodded to the second too. "Yes, I have some teas for that too. Chamomile works quite well." She tipped her head slightly as she studied him. "Does that happen often?"

"When I start getting invaded with images from a prehistoric time past, aye, it does, accelerates my mind that it starts racing and hard to rein in so I can fall asleep. Least a normal sleep. It might take something stronger than chamomile."

"Then Valerian would work best for you, I think. It's a bit stronger. Another is passionflower. I can bring tinctures of both, and let you try them to see if either works for you. " She studied him again. "That's an interesting reason. A past life?" Sara had no problem accepting things out of the ordinary, especially since dealing with a ghost!

"Aye, I think that is the one I was given some time ago by this old woman. I ran out years prior but then I wasn't troubled for a long time until lately. I would appreciate it and will pay you their worth." To make that clear as he wasn't asking to try and get something for free. "Aye, might say a past life or at least one that parallels at the same time." Like he could really explain this when he wasn't certain on all the points yet.

"As I said, that sounds interesting but I can see where it would be disruptive." She laughed softly, touching his arm. "I didn't think you were, Raphael. It's growing late and I'm getting tired so I think I'll return to the Thistle tonight instead of home." She had a couple lasses living with her who cleaned and took care of her animals and garden when she wasn't there, so a night away was a treat. "And once I'm up and moving, I'll come to your shop if that's all right?"

"I'll walk you up to see you safely there." Although most likely she would be safe on her own but it was the proper thing for him to do and he would get to talk a little longer. "I can get a bottle of potcheen from Alex then too." Giving a wink as he rose from the stone wall seat and offered her his arm to take. He knew the courtly ways.

She would have a lad run to the hospital before she came to his shop to retrieve the items he requested so she could bring them along. "Thank you." Of course, what woman would refuse the company of a handsome gentleman? She slid her arm through his, her hand coming to rest on the crook of his arm. "That should help you too." She chuckled softly. Nothing like the pure for what ailed you.

So the light conversation would continue and all too soon be at an end as he saw her inside the tavern where he gained a bottle of potcheen and she a key to a room. "I will see you on the morrow then, Lady Sara. I look forward to it and feel I may have what is needed for the hospital." Figuring the hospital was buying it rather then she personally.

Yes, it was for the hospital. She was also thinking of replacing her own surrey which was showing some wear. "Good night, Raphael. I hope your dreams are sweet ones, and I look forward to seeing what you have for us." A good night was also given to Alex before she moved to the doorway and then up the stairs. She truly was looking forward to her visit to his shop.

"Good night, may you be upon the wings of dreams swiftly." Watching her leave for the hall that would take her upstairs before he headed on out. The streets were being vacated as the performances were over and the few remaining vardos were all packed up and heading off the streets for the night. Tomorrow would be here soon.



Date: 08-14-10
Poster: Sara Devonshire
Post # 20

The Wainwright
Raphael had returned from a flight as the day had more misty rain than sun. In fact, it was all misty rain now as he landed in back of the warehouse. The large doors left open as it was protected from the straight downpour of rain. Warehouses tended to get hot inside so windows and doors were kept open most of the time. Higher ones along the wall had mesh that kept any intruders out, be they of the forest, air or of man. He liked the mist as he stood outside under one of the large spreading chestnut trees and preened his wings making sure all the feathers were in a row and all set right before his next flight. Loose fitting poet's shirt was made with pleats in the back hiding the slits for his wings. Brown pants and short boots worn for he never knew where he'd land at times.

Sara had decided to use her old surrey since it was raining, even if it was a misty one. She didn't mind the rain normally but didn't want to be soaked if she walked or rode. She was wearing a light summer gown of cream with an overlay of lace in a slightly lighter shade. A ribbon was tied in her hair, keeping her hair back from her face. It fell to the middle of her back. As she neared the warehouse, she saw Raphael standing outside in the rain, his wings outspread and smiled. He presented quite an amazing sight.

He hadn't seen her yet, as not many were out and he was busy checking all those feathers. A ritual done easier in the rain and needed to be done now and then. Luckily not an every night ritual. One of the easiest ways was what he did next, wings expanded as he rapidly whipped them in a fashion it slightly raised him up but it rushed air and rain in a sheet before him having it whip off the ground as well the air before his feet were back on the ground and he realized then there had been a surrey a few yards out in front of him that probably got the mini tsunami.

The poor horse hadn't expected a wind to come up from nowhere and she let out a neigh and reared. Sara let out a squeak of surprise, managing to keep the horse from taking off but she was soaked through after all. She had put on the brake of the surrey then she was down to calm the mare. She was laughing as she cut a look toward Raphael. "Well, that was quite a greeting."

"Stars above," he rushed over to help calm the horse by grabbing the bridle and words flowed in an ancient tongue that the horse naturally recognized, something about them. "I'm so sorry, I hadn't seen you and didn't think anyone would be out this way on such an evening." Wings had disappeared before he had reached them. "Come, let us get the surrey and horse out of the rain, I've room in the warehouse and I can get you a blanket or extra tunic to put on." Such a sheepish smile that followed reflected what he must have looked like when a boy as he started leading the horse inside the warehouse. One that was very large and had quite a few wagons, buggies, surreys, buckboards and the like inside. From simple to elaborate. A couple of vardos too.

"It's all right, really." She smiled brightly in return as they made their way inside the warehouse. "I don't mind getting wet though I'm sure I look a fright right now." She chuckled as she patted the mare's neck. "You've a  good touch with horses."

"I think a bit o' rain enhances a woman's beauty," ducking around under the mare's neck as he got her settled and the smile remaining as he easily smiled. "At least it is warm and you'll dry quickly." Especially being inside out of the rain although she was a bit more wet, no thanks to him, than she should be. "I'm sure you came to see the wagons.." as he was already indicating the rest of the long warehouse loaded with the various transportation vehicles he crafted. Any steel working was done by Rhett.

She fluffed her hair with a hand and batted her lashes. "Why, Mr. O'Keeffe, you do know how to turn a lass' head." Though she did appreciate the compliment! She winked then nodded. "Aye, I'm here to see the wagons." She knew he did excellent work but now she'd see firsthand.  And of course she noted the vardos, but she had sold her old one to Mikhail MacKay since she no longer had time to travel.

He was right over as she teased. A hand lifting to caress along her cheek. Eyes held with an ancient draw as he took in her features up close and personal. "I really am sorry for the spraying of water. I will find a way to make it up to you." The touch of his fingers grazed skin before touching upon the fluffed up damp hair then away. "Come, let me show you the two in particular that might suit the needs of the hospital and Doctor Barrington I presume is footing the bill?" Which would go along with the bill of the hospital, not her personally. The first one would seat up to twelve and was made well like all he made. Although this one reminded him of a parson's wagon to keep everyone on the stiff and proper seating. The second was red over white, a bit more classy and certainly more comfortable with the padded seats. It would seat up to nine comfortably.

She felt a touch of heat come to her cheeks and knew they were now pink. Still, she didn't want him feeling bad. "I'm not upset at all, Raphael." She smiled again, then walked with him to the wagons. The second caught her eye before the first, though she made sure to study them both. "I think the second will suit the hospital. If we're taking patients on an excursion, I think the second is a better choice." She circled it again and nodded. "I like the seats being padded. It'll be more comfortable for the patients."

"I could pad the first as it is larger, but you may not want to take too many patients out at one time anyway. I would think." In case some medical emergency happened or worse, more than one. "The price is 2,200 coins but I will reduce that to 2,000 for the lady is lovely that is purchasing it. Doctor Barrington was wise to send you." Giving her a wink as he held his hand that she might ascend and try out the front seat.

"No, this one is perfect." She had made up her mind and the smile Raphael received was near dazzling. Placing her hand in his, she climbed into the seat and sat. "Oh yes, this is perfect. She even gave the seat a little bounce to try it out. Gates trusted her judgement and she knew he'd be pleased with the surrey as well. "I'll be sure to tell him that."  Laughing.

He climbed up in next to her, sliding his arm along the back of the seat. Boyish smile held lots of charm and he certainly was not as innocent as he looked. Something luring in his eyes that spoke on centuries of old. "So, tell me about yourself, Sara. What brought you to Heathfield?" Giving her a point to start with.

"A friend, well, actually two friends." She smiled as she leaned back. "I was selling herbs, and products made from them from my vardo to the north when I met Malcolm Douglas and Maurice McDonough. After talking to both of them, I decided to come here and see it all for myself. I sold my little cottage, and moved here, planted another garden and started all over."

"Oh, and yes, thank you for the herbs you sent over." Being she had not come to look at the carriage wagon soon after their last meeting. "The lad did bring you the coins to cover them?" Which he was sure the one would or his hide would not be worth sitting on for the rest of his life! He knew how strict the parents were in these lands on certain matters. "Where did you move from? How did you meet Doctor Barrington?"

"Yes he did and you're very welcome. Did they help?" She twirled a strand of hair around a finger as she continued. "A little village to the south of Rhydin. Kept to the old ways there. I was helping some friends fix up the hospital. We discovered it was haunted by Dr. Barrington's ancestor and saw him laid to rest. He looked just like the doctor, who decided to come to Heathfield after he learned about the ghost. I opened the door to see one who I thought to be the ghost and fainted in his arms." She laughed softly. "Not a good way to introduce myself."

"Yes they did. I'll be ordering some more when these run out. Better, before they run out." He had finally gotten some rest away from dreams of the past. Waking disoriented too often and then having to readjust to the here and now. In time it would be resolved when that right point in time caught up so he and a few others could go back before written history. Make history. "Now that is a very interesting way to meet a man. I doubted the good doctor minded having a beautiful lady faint in his arms." Which had him chuckling under his breath picturing it.

"No, he didn't but I was terribly embarrassed. I avoided him for a time but got over it. After all, we were working together. When the others left, I remained as Administrator and sometimes a nurse when needed. It was easier to move the shop into the hospital as well. And here I've been ever since."

"So your job at the hospital is varying as needed. A good way to be and should prove you never getting bored. I'm surprised you have not married but then such a job probably keeps you too busy to think in such avenues." Which had him chuckle again, "then again I've never found time to marry," not that it was quite that simple as he made it sound. Plagued to find the others, destined to go back in time, so today remained as it was.

"Time? What's that?" She gave him an impish smile then shrugged. "It will happen if it's supposed to but I've not caught anyone's eye that I know of." She knew life was never that simple. Well, rarely. "And I love what I do, so I never mind keeping busy."

"You have probably been too busy to notice if you caught a man's eye as I am sure you have." There was the boyish smile again as he noticed it was getting late. "If you allow me to escort you back," even if she took the surrey, he could attach his horse to the back to back for his return ride. "Let me close up here first," which would only take him a few minutes. "I can have the carriage delivered tomorrow if you have a team of horses to pull it." Which would need to be brought here of course which stood to reason.

"Aye, we do." A team had been donated by a grateful patient. "We have a young man who will be the driver of the surrey so he'll bring them, and can ride back with you." Her smile grew a bit wider. "And I would be delighted with your company, Raphael." It would be to her cottage of course, but it wasn't far from the hospital.

He helped her down then brought her surrey out. The drizzle had turned into mist as he closed up the place and locked it up. His cottage was right behind the place nestled in the small woods. The way he liked it when he wasn't staying in the tree house. Which was most of the time in the summer months especially. Once done he saw her seated in the surrey then was in to take up the reins as he would drive it. "Do you have time for any hobbies aside your work and gathering herbs. Which I suspect takes you to the woods in the darkest of hours for some of them." Which gave a hint he knew some of that area.

"Well, I like to watch birds. And I raise roses." She chuckled at the irony since she was talking to a man with wings!. "I'm not a very exciting person." She did nod. "Yes, I do sneak into the woods at times but I also grow my own. What about you, any hobbies?"

"I would say you do a lot of exciting things but must be mundane to you.." words trailing off with a quirk of a smile and a glance her way before eyes were back on the road as they rode through the commons then out towards the hospital. "Do you wish your life was more exciting then?"

"No." She didn't hesitate with her answer. "When I traveled, it was exciting at times but I'm happy now and content. If I want excitement, I'll go to the races." She laughed and shrugged. "I like being around people and helping them and the hospital is the perfect place for both."

"Oh well, then," chuckling under his breath again, "I wont help to change the mundane life you are happy with." Teasing came as easy as his smiles as they reached her destination, pulling up in front of her cottage before he was out and around to see her down. "Do you have a lad to see to the horse and surrey?"

"Oh, you had something in mind?" She laughed again as she accepted his help in getting down. "Aye, here he comes now. He's the son of the groundskeeper and his wife." She studied him a moment. "When you bring the horses, we'll have coffee and talk a bit more. If you want. I might even show you around, including the portrait of the original Lord of the manor."

"I always have something in mind," but the hour grew late and no time to discuss anything out of the ordinary. Seeing his wings alone should have told her his life was not an ordinary one except for building the carriages and such vehicles of transport. "I would like that, fair is fair," as certainly she had talked on her life with his bidding questions. He handed over the surrey to the lad after untying his horse from the back then mounted up. "Till then, sweet dreams Lady Sara." Not one for long adieus, he was around and heading home.

"Good night, Raphael. And I hope your dreams too, are sweet ones." She went to her door but stopped and watched as he left. Then she went inside. A cup of tea would be perfect and then to bed.



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