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Innis Daingneach Stories

Date: 07-09-09
Poster: Cole Lachian
Post # 1

Cole's Return

Gabriel headed up from the spar field after working out on Lancely's water gauntlet. He .. was .. soaking .. wet. In spite of that fact for a hot summer's night, he was grinning. He'd taken off his boots and walking bare foot. He'd been to the Tree House earlier to talk with Raphael, convincing him he needed to get out and take a break from watching a past they could not access at the present time.

Raphael had thought on the advice and presently was flying, getting his night flight in above the lake, dive bombing into it until he had his full. It was something more than physical he was working through and had finished up, drying off, before heading up to the Thistle. He wondered if the others would be there. Though not a knight himself he had a vested interest in a few of them for a past that connected them all.

Where one knight was, there was usually another. Aiden was every bit as soaked as his friend , and was grumbling good nature as they made their way to the Thistle. He was carrying his boots also, and, if truth be told, didn't mind being barefoot at all. Though he was seeing Mo, there were nights where they both had things to do and tonight she was busy elsewhere.

He caught sight of Raphael as he came up alongside matching his stride. Slow grin as dark eyes dipped to the side. "You've been flying." He'd gotten to that point he could tell by a certain smell. It was then he caught sight of Aiden to have his grin grow even more. A step up in speed and they caught up with him.

A hand came to rest against Gabriel's shoulder, "always practicing," tipping a grin as his hand fell away only to catch sigh of Aiden. A moment to check to see if the shadow cat was with him, or shadowing to ponce the knight. "How've you been Aiden? How is Mo?" Knowing he was seeing the lass and had not been in contact for a while. Both of them would be needed when the constellations matched up to a time long ago to open a worm hole. Gabriel he saw enough to have kept up with most news.

"Doing well, both of us." He greeted Raphael with a grin. "She's busy, but we see one another often." Of course they did, since they were both at the castle. "She's gotten two letters from two possible candidates for the Order of Athena." He motioned toward the tavern. "Shall we?" He had built up quite a thirst.

Even he didn't know that. "Really? Who are they if you know?" Curious because the women practiced on the king's field that were of this Order of Knights. "I told Melantha she can come watch up on the walk way of the castle wall." Where they let certain ladies view the men in practice, where they would not be too much of a distraction. By this time the tavern was reached as he was up the steps and across the porch to continue on in. There was potcheen to be had and a few days off after some intense training.

"I have not forgotten any of you. I've just been keeping strict watch of the constellations and those I see from that time before. We may need some practicing soon of our skills working them together." Though all had been busy, time would be made in this effort. The world as they knew it might have great changes if this particular battle back prehistoric times wasn't seen to. He was up and into the tavern with the other two, diverting from them to pick out a table near one of the open windows. He knew enough potcheen and glasses would be brought over while he turned out the chairs before choosing one to settle down into.

"One's an Elven lass Rhiannon, last name begins with a N. The other is Mel's sister, Gemma." Maybe she hadn't told her family yet. His expression became sober as he listened to Raphael, and he just nodded. Jewel had been hiding because both Gabriel and Aiden were wet but when Raphael sat, she appeared, curling around his legs and purring.

"How is setting up your business coming along, Raphael?" He knew his friend spent a lot of time at the tree house nexus. Though, when he worked, for he'd seen him, it was watching a whirlwind with accuracy. Taking up two bottles and four glasses as he headed over to the table to set them there before taking up one of the turned out chairs.

Cole had not long been arrived from his trip to Innis. Brine still clung to his skin, his hair, his clothing. Though Cole knew the barracks at the castle would be available for him, he came to the tavern instead. Sir Melville remained on the ship because Cole didn't really know how long he would be staying in Heathfield. He entered without a smile, but as he surveyed the room, the faintest of that expression touched at his eyes.

Raphael leaned down to scoop up Jewel, "there's my little shadow cat," though she was not his at all. Not really even Aiden's. Though she was assigned to Aiden by her own choosing. Strong fingers smooth over her fur in a gentle touch as he held her on his lap. He'd been in the lake but the flight afterwards had dried him off.  Now to answer Gabe's question. "I've been selling a few carriages but mostly wagons, both long and short ones." Glancing up a moment from his administrations to Jewel. "I will be opening up to the public soon as I add to my inventory before I did so."

Dark eyes turned the bright summer blue upon seeing Cole. He was to his feet and stepping away from his chair. "I hope you have come to join us this evening, Cole?" He had always picked up on that inner turmoil that had been separating them, comrades of old from their birthlands to these.

Jewel tolerated Aiden to all appearances. He was about to sit but caught movement and turned. A wide grin appeared at the sight of their friend and comrade. "Cole. It's good to see you." That grin might surprise Cole being Aiden had been one who rarely smiled.

Aiden in love was a different man. They could tease him about that! And then get to play with his shadow beasties for it.

That could happen!

That was exactly what they were going to need to practice, working together to be able to win a battle fought out long ago that would require them. A time continuum that overlapped.

A nod of head marked each of the men in the room with a greeting, then he spoke quietly with Alex a few moments, procuring a room for himself. That done, he collected a drink and joined the others.

He was pleased when Cole joined them and studied the man a moment. "Things have been well with you?" He asked before lifting his glass for a drink. They had all been concerned.

Raphael recognized the man Cole, though their encounters had been brief. He knew far more than Cole knew of lands that existed in a time thousands if not millions of years ago. Time had a way of bending back on itself, the amount in between didn't matter in an ultimate level not held by time. Yesterday was today, today was the tomorrow of yesterday. "Evening Cole, good to see you again." Polite greeting but Raphael would fall into being quiet and watching on those other levels instead.

Gabriel gave a skimming shot to his arm, better was it said in the action before lifting his drink. "To times friends meet, lest they be forgotten."

"All is well." He offered to Aiden before he lifted his glass with Gabriel's toast then drank. As he lowered his tankard, he slowly passed his gaze through the room. "It seems that Heathfield is none the worse for my absence." As if this tavern's interior showed all of Heathfield's state.

"That might be so, but it is a far better a place with your presence," which Cole would pick up on the better meaning of it all. The fact he returned said a lot and perhaps some choices he was considering making. First was the choice to return, unlike Dylann and Leith.

Well then, he took another drink in answer to the toast, dark eyes shifting to each of his comrades then back to Cole. "Things are quiet here but aye, far better. Will you be staying?" And that was the big question, wasn't it?

Leave it to Aiden to just come right out and ask. He scratched the nail of his thumb to the side of his nose, squinting an eye to first Gabriel, then to Aiden. "I journeyed first to Innis, Brothers...before coming here." It was there he had requested and then spoke with the O'Neill liege and plans had begun. "And, as it looks, what I have to offer, I offer to Heathfield and her sister isle, Innis Daingneach."

They had been knighted together under King Peter O'Neill but Cole had refused the honor of the empowered blade to carry. No one was certain why other than some kind of inner struggle and Peter had not taken offense but left the door open for when Cole was ready. With Cole's words now, having gone there, it had him dipping his glance to his hip to see if such a sword hung there.

"And as before, we're glad that you've done so." Aiden nodded then, as Gabriel did, he looked to see if he had taken on one of the Swords.

Cole noticed the search and smiled for the first time in a long time, turning just enough to display that which he now wore, his hand lowering to the hilt. "It is not as heavy as I thought it might be." He shrugged, lowering his hand away. The weight of this sword for Cole was not actually due to the bulk of metal but more so for him, the heaviness of fealty. What he feared he would never be able to offer to another kingdom. His time away had given him the chance to clarify certain concerns, to cement his desires, to come to terms with what his future held. No, as it was, the sword was not heavy at all for him to bear after all.

"Figuratively nor literally, I have found." Which had him smiling and a good deal of relief to see his comrade smile as well. That had been a long time in the coming and had honestly wondered if they would see the day. "The sword is alive. It has power and personality. The best way to find your rapport is by practicing with another that has such a sword. As friends behind the sword, so are the swords connected. You cannot harm the other in practice. It can only harm your enemy. If  you purposely tried to use it with the intent of wrongful harm, it would shatter into a million pieces then to dust." His smile growing as he fell back onto a time long ago, "so if you have a hankering to learn, brother, my sword and myself are at the ready." Which they could on the kings field tomorrow.

"And appreciated, Gabriel." Cole nodded, moving then to take a seat with a shifting of the mentioned sword to allow for his comfort. "I have been told by Innis that my hankerings to learn can be also satiated on the King's field. Which I'm sure to see you at come dawn." He looked to each of them, since that you was addressing them all, not just Vaughn.

Raphael sat back, listening, though not much was given away by any expression. This was between the knights but there would come a time for him to show Cole something of the past. When he was ready. Right now he was taking other needed steps. Jewel finally leaped down to approach Cole.

Much of the past Cole already knew...probably even lived through...though not as far back as Raphael was considering!

"Aye, you'll find there will be a few who are willing to test you on the field." He grinned as he answered. "And we'll be there for certain." He waited a moment and added. "There will be some women knights on the field as well."

The drink that had started up, stopped, with Cole looking over at Aiden. "Is that so?"

"Aye, Order of Athena was established to protect the women of the court. The woman I'm seeing, Maureen McLoughan, is Captain of the order."

"She's the only one so far but there is rumored a few wish to join the ranks. Mo is one hell of a fighter and I think she especially likes to go up against Aiden here." Mostly teasing as the practice was all friendly.

Now brows were on the way up. Aiden was seeing a woman warrior? "Order of Athena." He repeated with a slow nod of head. With Gabriel's addition, Cole cleared his throat, dipping his head then cast a look from that lowered position over to Aiden. "I may have been wrong with my initial belief that Heathfield was none the worse for my absence."

"Maureen has wings." Like he and Gabriel had wings that emerged from an ancient looking tattoo on their backs. "This developed in your absence. I knew there was a third with wings." Differentiating for there were other skills he had seen of these races. Aiden fulfilling one of the others.

"There's another." He chuckled and looked at Gabriel then at Cole. "Maeve Ni Cas'Corach. She's half Elven." He looked at Cole a moment. "Now why would that make it worse?" Though he might know the answer to that.

"A third?" A quick look landed on Raphael.

"Aye, three with wings. Gabriel. Myself and Maureen. A shadow caster and some others."

His smile had faded from his lips but it was still evident in his eyes as he looked to Aiden. "One of the best warriors I know, smitten. It's a sad, sad, sad day to be sure."

Wait until he found out Gabriel had fallen after many had tried for years. Lands were cursed! Though after the fact, and he realizing it, he could only grin hearing Cole. Not .. saying ... a ... word.

Aiden took a drink, grinning as he lowered the glass. "Aye, not something that was not expected to ever happen again. And to a warrior lass no less." He chuckled and glanced at Gabriel but he didn't say a word either. Yet.

Eyes narrowed a fraction but lips twitched before taking another drink. He didn't look in Raphael's direction at all or possibly get him going.



Date: 07-09-09
Poster: Cole Lachian
Post # 2

Raphael was amused. Greatly. He continued to sit back and bide his time as he listened between the warriors. At least he was not hooked up nor had any plans in that direction. In fact, he hadn't met anyone that even breathed in that area with an eye upon him. Too busy working on his wagons and carriages and the rest of the time in the company of his friends or at the tree house, or both. "You're welcome to come see the Tree House if you want a bit of an escape. Open invitation call it. Place is as much Gabriel's and Aidan's too."

Cole nodded. "Yes, might just take you up on that, Raphael, especially if Aiden starts spouting  poetic verse and begins to reek of roses or lilacs." A twitch of amusement pulled at his lips, but that was hidden soon enough by taking a drink of his tankard.

"Or if you find yourself surrounded when Gabriel joins him." And there it was, the perfect moment to inject that tidbit with a lopsided grin.

"That would be a fat chance in hell." He laughed, nodding to Gabriel. If any of them besides Cole himself was less likely to succumb to the choker and chain, it would be Gabriel.

Which had Raphael looking upon Gabriel in that silent study to see how he reacted.

Sheepish grin started to spread as a hand was up to rub over his chin then dive through his hair before lowered again. An idiosyncrasy of his under such topics. "Aye, Melantha Quinn, an angel," if that was spewing, he would admit to some. "She has the Royal Stables and a grandmother you should be introduced to." Cole needed some mothering!

Following that, Cole just blinked, slowly setting his glass aside on the counter without even looking in that direction. His gaze never left Gabriel. "The odds in hell just got better it seems." Broad shoulders started to shake with suppressed laughter and he shook his head with disbelief. "Raphael, keep me from departing these lands again, lest you find yourself shackled in kind!"

"Indeed I will then but if you can't help yourself, make sure I'm in your company. They cant get me then," going along with it with a big ole grin Aiden and Gabriel's way.

"Ha! Famous last words, just you wait but maybe you'll be spared a few more months before you cease your carousing."

"Were I the carousing sort, that is." Cole grunted out a laugh. "And if that be the case, Gabriel, my friend, my last words will be a cry of dismay. This...I am sure of." It was good to be back in the company of his comrades. He had denied himself too long. He made a show of stepping closer to Raphael, just in case what possessed Aiden and Gabriel might seek him out from sheer proximity to them.

"Hiding or seeking the company of others who have not fallen doesn't help." He grinned as he added. "Not even being untouchable. Look at Sir Vincent." Who was quite happily surrounded by three lovely lasses.

A brow arched by way of a grin. "Look at the lovely lass he married. There is the exception perhaps." And even though de Beauvais was not in the room, Cole did not speak more on Julia save to mention she was, in comparison, above most women. She would have to be, to bring one such as Vincent to his knees.

Raphael was making the sign of the cross as one finger tipped sideways over the finger of his other hand and held out their way. Nothing said but he was grinning good nature.

Correcting Aiden, "four, Sir Lazare donated a female puppy he won in a race." Smile quirked to the side, "best not to protest too loudly my brothers or it shall surely find you as it has us."

He waved a hand by way of swatting away this conversation. "I wish you the best, Aiden... Gabriel...of course I do. I but wish not the same fate for me. Now, tell me of what else I have missed."

Gabriel's eyes took on the summer blue hue, "I found the red patches on me wings can send small balls of fire. I have also learned to use the bow and arrow while in flight. Aiden can tell you of his progress in casting shadows to life. Have you learned anything more of what skills you possess? Ian is like a magnet but he seems to have secluded himself off from the rest." He'd not come across Ian Waincross in some time.

"Aye, four."  Corrected, he continued. "Let's see. The opening of the race track, which has earned us all quite a big of coin. Eion Quinn joining the ranks of those in training." He looked thoughtful as he tried not to laugh at Raphael. "Aye, Ian's become something of a recluse. As far as what I've learned, I can use the shadows to move from one place to another, create a net that has become stronger, and yes, I still get to listen to Jewel."

He listened with a nod. Cole knew he was different, and how, since his youth. It was the way of the Legion to train their young to accept and use what made them Lachians. It was just that Cole wasn't comfortable with openness regarding his unique abilities. "Quinn?" He paused a moment, thinking on that name. "The same family as your lady, Vaughn?"

"Aye, the very one. He has two brothers of which one, Segan, was trained with him but choose a different path. Sailing, working for Bovee presently. The youngest, Conor, is good with leather working."

As far as Ian went, Cole wouldn't give it a second thought. Either he chose to be a part of the gathering, or he chose to sequester himself away ... they all had choices to make. Cole had to do the same.

"So, are you ready to be on the king's field come tomorrow morning?" He was pleased to have Cole back with them and not just physically. It finally felt like he was coming back to them as a brother. Though he was always one to take small steps. "Lancely and Cal are around and challenging us to the water Gauntlet. Good way to use some of our skills without the extra," there were rules to make it fair. "Sir Lazare had tried it out last summer."

"Do you think they'd be allowing me to come practice in the morn on the King's field with you?" Yes, he'd been trained but if he didn't start practicing again, he would be losing his edge completely and it would be needed in the near future.

"Aye, I don't see why not." He placed his glass on the table. "There have been others who have done some soul searching, and come back. Besides, you're still serving King Peter."

He wasn't sure if Aiden had answered Raphael or was talking solely to Cole. He'd make sure Raphael was answered or confirmed as it may be, "aye, you'd be welcome there and though you work as a wainwright you might consider going in service to Peter if needed." He didn't know how good Raphael was with a sword but he knew how well he flew and beholding to him teaching him a lot.

The first part had been for both and the second for Cole. Though it was better that Gabe had clarified.

"I'm looking forward to the morning if for no other reason." Cole relaxed back, bringing up a foot to hook on the bottom rung of his stool. "Someone needs to make sure the two of you are pushed to your limits." He looked to Raphael. "And it will be nice not to be the only new face on the field." Cole knew how the newcomer was greeted when in the company of seasoned warriors. He had done so himself when in Daurenia and a new face appeared for training.

"Well, we'll make sure you get your chance on the two Beasts, both you and Raphael." He grinned as he picked up a bottle and refilled his glass, then topped the others off.

He nodded off his thanks for the refill. "These Beasts you speak of, I've heard of them. Many a man has fallen because of their expertise it is said. I look forward to a chance to take either or both on." He looked to Gabriel then, leaning a bit as if to check out his back. "So, you shoot fire...? I hope this is something you can control and not just an urge which cramps you up until it is released." Since no ladies were present to have to worry over their sensibilities, the reference to farting did not even come with the least hesitation.

Luckily Aiden wasn't drinking. He let out a loud laugh, lowering his glass. He wasn't even going to attempt to top that one!

A sudden, temporary flash of grin to Aiden and then Cole appeared all serious again while waiting for the reply from Gabriel.

"Aye, something I have been working on since it was discovered. You have to angle the wings just so, that when the two flares shoot off, which I can feel to make them do so at will, they come together at the junction of where the target is you are trying to hit." So it was not a simple matter at all. He glanced to Raphael and back. "Raph has helped me a great deal in learning to control it, as well we gave a light show as part of the exercise one evening for those about. It was when little Naomi, was around still. I think she went by Willow by the time she left, called her Nessa for a while too."

Cole jerked his head in Gabriel's direction, looking to Aiden. Always the serious one, Vaughn, but Cole was interested and intrigued with what Gabriel had mastered. He released a slow whistle. "Rather intimidating, Gabriel. As if the ability to fly wasn't enough to cause the enemy to quake in their boots."

He chuckled as Gabriel answered more seriously then expected and gave Cole a slight shrug. It had been something to see when Gabriel finally demonstrated it.

"And," moving from the serious side of it after a good pause, "if we expel air while shooting, it can crush a building."

"No shit." Cole chuckled low, not believing a word of that quite yet. "A fearsome thing to behold I'm sure."

"It can be, Raphael here can shoot shards of lightning. So put us working together..." grinning as he noticed Raph was pretty quiet. "We still have yet to find out what Mo can do besides fly," which had him giving a slow look towards Aiden, "or have you help find that out." Might be a better stance to take in this.

Raphael was enjoying listening. In time he hoped to have the rapport they shared, shared with him. It was something to look forward to, and best if it was already in motion before they went back in time. That kind of rapport would see them through the task without losing any of them. He finished off his drink as it was time to go do his ritual at the lake. "I hope to see you all soon, starting on the field come dawn." A clasp of Gabriel's shoulder was given as well one to Aiden's and lastly Cole's. Brief but with sincerity behind it before he was heading out the side door.

"Catch you later Raphael, I might bring down Melantha tonight to spend a few hours in the tree house." Since it had a fantastic.. and quite romantic view.

"She's become fairly comfortable with the flying so it might be time. Good night, Raphael. See you at dawn." He looked back to Cole. "Your room at the castle is still available, if you want it."

"We could head up there, stop in the knight's hall and see who is around. Lazare and Trevor can often be found there. Issue them a challenge. Take your chances," according to what Cole said before.

Cole lifted a hand in farewell to Raphael as well as offering him an uplift of chin."Come morning." He added, then looked to Gabriel.  "I've always been about taking chances." He turned to glance to Alex and offered the tender the slightest nod of thanks then stood from his stool. "I was thinking about staying here the night, but if my room is still available, I'd much rather sleep there. Sir Melville would prefer the castle to the tighter quarters  above."

"Sir Melville?" He stood after finishing what remained in his glass as he stood. That would be carried over to the bar in a moment.

"Yes." His comment came with a brief nod, glancing toward Jewel. "Soon to be best friends with your kitty." Cole knew what Jewel was capable of and was rather amused with the idea of his small, friendly canine coming up snout to snout with the talented feline.

He too was finished up as the table was cleared off and glasses returned to the bar. "You two should get race horses, never know what luck will bring you in doing so." How he met Melantha! Though he'd not add that.

Good thing, Cole would swear horse racing was against his religion.  "Might just do that." Cole commented. "Though I know little about race horses."

"I've been considering getting one, but I'm not sure." As far as Jewel and Sir Melville, that remained to be seen and instead of the shadow cat disappearing, she jumped onto the bar then onto Aiden's shoulder. She would just tag along in that way.

"I can meet you two there. I need to return to the ship to collect my things, and my dog." He started for the door. "I know my way home." He took one back step, then turned, exiting from the tavern on the way to continue with his life.



Date: 07-28-09
Poster: Calhoun Quinlan
Post # 3

The Spar of Words

Cal was out relaxing this night. Having the day off tomorrow to spend however he wanted. They didn't come often and so he contemplated how he should spend it while in an almost one sided conversation with Alex. "I should not go to the spar hall or field. Though with such hot days the water gauntlet is actually appealing." Mussing that over while Alex continued to wipe down the bar. The empty plates taken away since he'd had his meal here. "Hazel is still one of the best cooks around." Offhanded as he knew Alex would extend his compliment to her. "I should stay way from the knight's hall," which had Alex giving him a look in a way a laugh erupted. "All right, I should be considering where I can spend a day off and not be around sparring or other knights in that way." It was obvious that time off was long overdue for Calhoun if he had to figure out how to spend it and have it as worthwhile time off. Attired in a poet's shirt of a faded blue tucked into lightweight black pants and pitch leather boots he was comfortable in spite of the heat. He was enjoying another glass of the potcheen with a look over his shoulder every so often if there was any noise outside to see if any of his comrades wandered down this way tonight.

The warmth of the day had left Cara's dark hair in curls, some framing her face in spite of wearing it up and off her neck. Though the night was cooling off nicely, heat still radiated from the cobblestone streets and buildings but that too was beginning to fade in the face of a cooling breeze. She was wearing a lightweight gown of cotton, in white with a delicate print of blue and violet butterflies. It was hard to see the design unless you were close.  The neckline and hems of her short sleeves were trimmed in eyelet lace, and she had bound her hair with a ribbon of white also. With so much white, she might look ethereal to some but from living in Innis, it was so much color on these hotter days. She was surprised to see the tavern nearly empty as she stepped inside, though she recognized the man at the bar. "Good evening, Alex, Sir Quinlan." Using his last name since she wasn't sure how formal he'd want to be.

He half turned on his stool, hand raising to shade his eyes. "Alex, I'm blinded by the white. An angel has descended upon us, douse the lights." Teasing Cara as he was up immediately to his feet, hand sweeping down in constrained bow with flare. "M'Lady Thompson, you have escaped the confines of the castle walls as well. Have any of the others or are they kept prisoners?"

She laughed as she looked down at herself, then up again with eyes that were bright with that laughter. "I didn't mean to bring a glow into the tavern. Escaped?" She pursed her lips thoughtfully as she considered his question.  "I suppose you could say I escaped but alas, I'm alone in my freedom. And have you done the same?" She crossed the room as she spoke, sliding onto a stool where she requested a glass of the blackberry flavored punch.

"Glow? Bright as a noon day sun." Still one to naturally tease as he waited for her to be seated before taking up his again. There was a stool between. About par for the Innis knight to avoid the ladies in waiting as much as possible. Such rumors that had only grown since the princess got engaged. "I have escaped, Alex here has escaped so we are not alone." Of course Alex seemed not to be paying any attention to their conversation let alone the idea he escaped from anywhere. He also realized he knew little to nothing about the lady in waiting for he never gave it a chance. "Now that we have our freedom, I think we can use our given names without being tortured. I'm Calhoun." Like she didn't know his first name for the Sir.

She might not have! The rumors were a good thing if they kept the knights away and plotting from Elaina's far too clever mind. "And I'm Cara." In truth, she wasn't certain if he did know her first name. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Calhoun." She glanced around then offered him a smile. "Are you sure it's safe to be seen with me?" Teasing in return.

"The pleasure is mine Cara," giving a look over one shoulder then the other before leaning slightly to see down one hall then to the other side to do the same. Of course no one was in sight other than Alex as he straightened with a serious look her way. Fae blue eyes bright in an otherwise stoic expression. "I fear not, we are surrounded by ears and gossiping tongues. You're reputation is on the ruin."

His eyes were fascinating and of course she had noted him before but she had never been so close. "Ah, well, I suppose I'll just have to deal with it. Hard as it may be." Her voice took on a dramatic tone though she was smiling now. "But then, how can one's reputation be ruined when in the company of such a knight?" She lowered her eyes slightly so that she was peeking at him through thick lashes. In another minute or two, she might start laughing.

"Are you sure you will not faint away and need a knight upon a white horse to come to the rescue?" As if it would be that hard. "Ah, well then, that is a horse of a different color. They'll just have you paired off with said knight and you will spend the rest of eternity explaining how it really is with all your words falling upon deaf ears." Now that sounded very tragic and worse, hinted upon a truth. For his height she would see him looking down at an angle seeing the underneath of his chin. Blue eyes had shards of gold in them that made them appear green under certain lighting or angle like present. Square jaw and a stern line to his lips as he kept up the facade, though she didn't really know him at all to necessarily know it was a facade. Maybe it was something in his eyes?

"Tsk." She waved the notion away. "If that's so then the same will be said of said knight and myself. And some might even feel sorry for the man for all their talk of pairing." Lips twitched ever so slightly as laughter tried to escape. "Poor lad, stuck with one of Elaina's snooty ladies." Odd that but it was said often enough back home. Then again, one had to consider the source for making jealous remarks.

"Ah, but there is the paradox, a man can weather such claims and when indifferent to said woman, it is not unexpected. Though if the woman acts in the same way, she will be callous and cold. The man can flirt and be with other women but if the woman does the same, she becomes as good as a doxy at the docks. Her reputation ruined. Far harder for a man to ruin his reputation with off kilter standards, makes him more a man while make the woman less." Here is where he laughed, "snooty? Actually that is a new one for my ears. It was more husband hunters," which he realized he actually repeated the gist of most of the rumors.

"It is terribly unfair, isn't it?" Her lower lip jutted out in a pout briefly then she grinned. "I think it depends on the one talking. Snooty if they are ones who feel we're in competition with them. Husband hunters if they're the ones who feel hunted. I'll tell you a little secret though." She looked around, blue eyes shining as she looked back, her voice lowered. "We don't hunt husbands. Elaina was the instigator more often than not in the rumor." And they each tried to match one another up with someone, even if it was just in fun. Of course, if one was to fall, it was usually done without the matchmaking!


"Aye, terribly unfair. I think you should put in a petition to your local village idiot." He exaggerated a blink. Once. Twice. "If you pout that lip too much a mon will want to kiss the frown away. Women go into competition?" Like something totally unheard of. "Here I thought they all worked together in their conspiracies." One for all and all for one, what did he know! Or maybe he was kidding? He leaned a little, though not really ending up close for the stool and space between them. "No. They don't? So all woman are forced into marriages by men?" He tsk'ed under his tongue as he straightened, still the gleam in Fae eyes the giveaway. "And men want to remain free, I think somewhere there is a flaw in one of those theories."

She laughed finally, then fluttered her eyelashes at him. "Yes, women go into competition. That's why we primp and dress up and mothers teach their daughters all sorts of little tricks though some just can't seem to get it right." She pursed her lips this time instead of pouting as if thinking. "I believe that deep down inside men want to get caught, otherwise, there would be no marriages at all, and it's the same for women though some of us are afraid to lose our freedom. It's a very odd situation, don't you think?" She finally took a drink of the potcheen punch, blue eyes watching him over the rim of her glass.

He contorted his lips half off to the side in a way considering all she was telling him. Giving the impression it had been completely unheard of by him or ever imagined. It ended up lending a comical look to his features. "Tricks you say? What kind of tricks? Are they like military maneuvers?" The expression melting away back to normal as he continued to tease her, bait her in the instance. "Did the mothers get them right to be able to teach them or the generation of daughters just too fumbling and unskilled as the women before them?" A smile shot wide, "it is a very contradictory situation though there are single men such as myself and older, not whet behind the ears over some ogling lad staring at a woman's b.... beauty." Nearly didn't catch that one!

"Now, Calhoun, if I give away all our secrets, some poor lass won't have a chance to try out her wiles on you." She gave a toss of her head, hiding the fact that she had caught that near mistake, though her cheeks had taken on a light tint. "Indeed, and the situation is not likely to change even with any explanations. For some reason, men will never understand women." She lowered her lashes slightly as she looked at him. "And I think it's best that way. It makes life so much more interesting."

"Well, in that case, I mean," if he even knew what he meant for all the teasing, "I couldn't last much longer if wiles were not used on me." Sounded good like some kind of needed element to exist. He leaned in looking very serious again. "You don't happen to have a few spare wiles to use on me so I don't fade away to my demise?" Like a big warrior as himself would ever fade to anything let alone lack of a woman's wiles. "On the contrary, I hear there is a whole book written all about women by Justin Youknowit." Slow smile hinting.

She lowered her glass, eyes dropping in a slow study then lifting again. "Somehow, I doubt very much that you would fall prey to the wiles of a pretty lass or fade away." She gave him a wide eyed look. "A book and have you read it?" She gave a dramatic sigh. "I would hate to think a man has figured us out. That will be no fun at all."

"Well then, I think we've come to some kind of agreement in there." In there was a very questionable place to begin with but he flashed a smile, showing off straight white teeth. "Oh, yes, the book was passed to me to read but we found out every page was blank. I think we would need to hire women to fill them in but as you say, where would be the fun in that?"

Her chin lifted slightly, just a bit of challenge in her look. "Just a touch of an agreement. And I'm glad to hear the book was blank. Why, that would be a disaster for every woman in existence. We have to keep men on their toes after all. " That bright smile appeared again. "Just as you men have to keep women on their toes." She had reached out to tap his chest lightly with the words you men. "And now, I'm afraid I should return to the castle before they send out a search party." And with nothing really answered!

He reached over running the pad of his forefinger over the back of her hand in a quick touch before he moved back again, "just a touch." As if for emphasis. "Perhaps I should get hold of the book again and fill in all the pages." Not saying with what but make it look good anyway. "Men like to be kept on their toes or...." deciding he would be pushing the envelope if he finished that statement. Instead he watched her eyes to see if she could guess what he might say. Did she know enough? Know little? Know a lot? He captured her hand as she went to tap his chest, coming to his feet as he did. Her hand lifted as fingers curled under the palm in lifting. Brought it right up to meet a touch of his lips there above her knuckles as Fae eyes held hers captive for the duration. Only breaking the lock as her hand was brought down and released. "If I may escort you back there?" He would avoid the knight's hall but he would find out if any of his comrades were around and perhaps get a basket of food from there or here and head for the lake. Topping off the evening with a swim and food would make it a perfect one.

A delicate brow lifted when he didn't end the sentence and her cheeks were touched with pink again. She dropped her eyes briefly to watch as her hand was captured and brought up to his lips, then her eyes were caught by his. How utterly charming and those eyes were dangerous! "I would very much like your company. I'm sure we can come up with another ... topic of conversation on the way back." She had enjoyed the evening though she might not share that bit of information with the others! She didn't need to have them plotting on her account! A wave to Alex and she was ready to leave.

He offered the bend of his arm and once her hand settled there within the crock, he gave an upnod to Alex before escorting the lady out and up to the castle. She would be well protected if ever needed. "Now, what other topics do you have in mind?" The way asked she could wonder if he would twist them around much like the other in a humorous way. At least humorous to him. Some could take offense.



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