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Kildare Castle Tales

Date: 07-21-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 1

Castle Solarium

Though Thane had spent a fair amount of time in and around Heathfield Castle, and was even residing here during their stay in the kingdom, there was still plenty left to explore. The late afternoon hour was spent wandering through the gardens, of which there were several. His favorite by far were the Hanging Gardens, perhaps just because they were so different from anything he'd ever seen. The flora towered above him as they swept up the side of a steep terrain... it was amazing how something that appeared so delicate could survive, and even thrive in these seemingly less-than-ideal places.


Thane may have noticed a disturbance from the solarium windows a few floors above a section of the garden. A bird had gotten trapped in one of the upper windows where they opened to allow air flow. Through a fluke, it had half closed in on the bird trapping her there as it fluttered its wings trying to escape. The beating of wings would cease as the bird silently panted in gaining its strength to start all over again.
As the sun began to set, a horde of ravenous insects chased him back to the door, but he paused just in the threshold at the muffled sounds of flapping. Glancing overhead found its source, a small bird trying to no avail to free itself through the small opening in the window. A window that must belong to the Solarium. He watched it for a moment, seeing that its quest was futile, then moved inside. Up a couple flights of stairs had him entering the Solarium.

The Solarium was a lush tropical escape with the exotic growing plants inside. The air filled with the scent of vegetation, rich soil and flowering plants. The windows that formed the outer wall, as they reached from floor to ceiling, were hardly seen from the room's entry for all the growing plants. Paths wound around various beds of various sizes and shapes. It was a great place for the children to play hide and seek. One part had a small cave with a back way out if one was adventurous enough to explore through the darkness. Solarina had in chasing her brother when they were young. She came here to escape as she had when young. Having wings was not common and she had always felt a critical eye would be found upon her. What made it a little easier was that her brother, of the same father, had wings too, although his were peppered while hers were white. She had been told that very few ever got white wings in her father's race and that it was a sign of high royalty. But she never knew his people and felt quite the opposite having them at all. They were not to fly in the castle but with the bird being stuck so high up and the pole unable to prop it back open, she was up there under the spread of white forcing the window back open. Without leverage she had to land on the small ledge of the window itself, almost hanging there precariously while yanking at the stuck hinge. Finally it gave way to open, as oppose to closing and killing the bird. The bird, anxious as it was, fluttered down to the lush greenery below before Rina could scoop her up.

Thane began to cross the room, en route for the avian victim, but what he saw along with the bird stopped him in his tracks. "Oh." Spoken aloud in surprise before he could check his tongue. He knew who the girl was, of course, even if they'd never been properly introduced. And he also knew of her unique wings though had never seen them in use. The sight was striking, for with those white wings, blonde locks and innocent face, she almost looked like a little angel. "Princess Solarina." He spoke up in his deep and quiet voice, half to make her aware of his presence but not startle her. "I was coming up for the same purpose... Are you quite alright up there?" Even if she had wings, it made him a bit nervous with her balancing on the ledge like that.

She near fell from the ledge in surprise hearing a voice. Well, she did as her the wings naturally spread out to glide her down. Her cheeks were like pink roses, her eyes a yellow leaf green as she stood there in front of the knight. At least she was in riding gear of a deeper green in a soft spun cotton. One specially made. He would notice the fine feathers at her temples of about three each side that smooth away into her hair. Brows were dark as were her lashes contrasting the color. "I am at a disadvantage, I do not know your name, Sir." Very polite, very precise. Luckily the edges of her lips turned up naturally so she had that pleasant look about her, not frowning or bad tempered for being taken by surprise. As an afterthought, being he was obviously older than her, she dipped a quick curtsey. Something about him spoke of warrior or knight. Wings were tightly folded behind her making them as small as possible, something she perfected over the years.

At least one thing would suggest he was a warrior or knight, and of high standing: the ornate, empowered sword sheathed at his hip. He was also dressed 'properly' tonight, foregoing the farmer's homespuns for a well-fitting tunic of deep dark green, across which leapt a graceful white stag, the sigil of his family. This was belted at the waist by a rich brown leather belt with a silver clasp, and the pants beneath too were dark brown. With his near-black hair, and dark green eyes (also part of his family heritage) the only contrast to all the dark was the fairness of his skin.... a hint of his Scottish side. When she alighted before him, he gave a deep bow. "Sir Thane Roberts of Kildare, my lady. It is an honor."

"I have heard of you. I have watched the men on the king's field from the tower." Which gave one such as she a bird's eye view, having that kind of sight too. "I am honored to meet you, my brothers should be proud of their knights, the three of you do well." So she had been curious as any girl her age who was prone then to daydreams of which she'd never admit. Here too, she had not been down to the fortress walk just above the field where most of the ladies gathered, a few men and at times her mother to watch the daily routines. "Do you like Kildare?" Odd question but there it was.

He was half surprised to hear that she knew of him already... and half not. Word tended to travel around a castle such as this, and Heathfield had been hosting the knights of Kildare for some days now. Her compliments had him bowing his head deeply in thanks. When he lifted his eyes again, her question had his brows drawn slightly together. "I love it as my homeland. But it is a troubled region at the moment."

"My brother has told me some and they are not at all like the rumors and speculations but still troubled. He said that he and Gaidan along with knights such as yourself and Jael who has stayed there having moved from these lands, will bring peace further and further extended from the castle. He would not talk on the northeast forest though I plied him with questions. I think he is afraid it might bring me nightmares," for her overactive imagination and Leo would be correct to her chagrin. "There are good things about the lands, not all troubled?" She was also trying to discreetly locate the bird that had been trapped in the window to see if it was all right, assuming it was for it had glided down, not dropped.

Thane nodded his head, long mahogany locks moving around his face. "All you say is true, and it is wise that King Leoric spare you the details. Those are things you should not dwell your thoughts upon, Princess." He had those lines in his brow a moment longer. "Aye, there are good things beyond the wilds of the woods. Rich farmland and untouched rivers. People who continue to flourish despite their hardships." Dark greens followed Solarina's subtle glances, noticing that she seemed to be seeking something.

"Yes, the bird came down here.." noticing him catching her looking and now looking too. It finally brought a smile to angelic features only making that point pronounced, even if in her mind she felt she was not attractive for her pronounced differences. She caught movement of some leaves behind him as she ducked around and carefully approached. Kneeling into the soft moss that cushioned the floor beneath, she carefully drew back a branch that obscured the way. Further beyond was the very bird preening itself after its ordeal and obviously in finer condition at the moment.

He watched as she moved almost stealthily, and with footsteps careful and quiet he followed, though stayed several paces behind. He leaned over slightly when she moved the branch, to see what sat behind it... the bird looking quite pleased with himself. "He looks no worse for the wear." For the first time a smile quirked his lips though it was a very subtle gesture, quickly there and fleeting.

Almost like her own. As if something that would come naturally was then caught and dampened away. She gave a look over her shoulder as he spoke, giving a nod as she let the branch ease back in place. What was odd, she was not overly uncomfortable around the knight. Maybe because he served under her brothers. The King's four horsemen were intimidating, especially Vincent deBeauvias. Her brother had Karl as a hero and his horsemen like Hercules. She eased up and kept the few feet between them that was not only proper but comfortable not really knowing him. "Tell me what it was like in Kildare before my brothers regained their inheritance and cleared their father's name.." Slightly pleading as she wasn't sure he's tell her the tales and she loved such tales.

Nor was Thane too uncomfortable, oddly enough for she was a stranger (and member of the royal household besides). Perhaps it was her youth, or her easy way of talking, or maybe just that she had that childlike aura (despite being a woman of age). He was a bit surprised that she would inquire so much about Kildare, and his brows drew together again, though this time it was a more thoughtful expression. Green eyes moved from her own and off to the distance, into the past. He began to walk at a slow pace, the better to speak as they moved slowly through the solarium. "It was chaotic, my lady, not an age of heroes versus villains as some Bards might have you believe. It was much more complicated than that. Brothers were turned against each other. Nobody dared to trust their neighbor, for fear that they might be bewitched, or disloyal. The famous Witch was not the only one at the time." He glanced her way. "Aye, she was the most powerful, but I dwelt for a time in a small village. Even far from the Castle, there was terror surrounding any form of magic and before I arrived, women had been burned at the stake simply for sneezing the wrong way. A few even pretended to have great magical abilities of their own, though I doubt they did. Nobody was certain how far the darkness would reach. Nobody was certain whether they would live to see the morrow." His tone was as grave as his words, but he would not sugarcoat it, for she had asked. Hopefully Leoric wouldn't have his head later for giving her nightmares.

As he started to pace, or more become mobile while talking, she too took up the same, emulating his stride and tucking her hands behind her back. It wasn't done in a way to tease or mimic in a negative way. Not on her would it come off such but cute if anything. Her fine features turned grave as she was intently listening to each word like one would a renown bard. "Such a Witch would have everyone looking at those they knew that they could be possessed, not knowing who to trust," repeating that as it was the worse horror on the mental level. She shuddered when he spoke of women being burned at the stake, "a way of some husbands to be rid of their wives." So she had heard such tales as horrible as they were. "That all changed when my brothers arrived and Leo throwing the Witch into a void." That was her understanding of it. "It must have taken the people some time to trust the former kings sons as his heirs and as their king. How did you feel about their arrival and how did you meet them?" She was full of questions!
He nodded slightly to her understanding of how the war had been won. Of course, it had not been so simple as that, but he would not disillusion her this time. "Aye, it was difficult to trust that their intentions were pure. The prior King had succumbed to the Witch's powers and gone mad, and lost his life for it. King Seamus had been a good king, proud and strong. If he could fall, how could we believe that another would not?" A slight shake of his head. He did indeed walk with hands clasped behind his back, but didn't notice that she was doing the same. "I was amongst those who doubted. I met your brothers when I was recalled from the village and back to the Castle. After knowing Leoric for only a few days, I believed he was different, that he could withstand all of the dangers and temptations a throne brings. I believe that still. That is why I have pledged my sword and my life to his service." Every word was spoken with a sense of gravity, a sense of Thane knowing his place in the world. There was no pride when he spoke of pledging his sword, only a certain... resigning? Though she may not easily identify it as such. More she might simply think him humble. The classic image of a True Knight.

She even turned corners the same as him, exact pivots on a heel that kept her in unison with his walk as he talked, as she talked. "That is because you did not know they were their mother's sons too." She was purely and wholly prejudiced. She never knew this king, he was long dead by the time she was born. There had been her twin sisters in between of a man her mother was to marry but something had changed her mind that was never divulged and they were not married. Next came her father who she was told left to go back with his people to help out. There was probably a lot more to it, a hint of betrayal, but she never pushed to find out. "He is like my older brother Andrew and my cousin Sean, the blue dragon," which she still called him that. Eyes went a little wide as she realized she let out a secret she was so comfortable talking to this knight. "Leo will need his knights and their loyalty without question in the days to come." Little seer sounded ageless there for a moment and like she was talking from centuries past. "I am trying to convince my brother to let me come visit, I can stay with Gaidan's wife Corina as I know her from the candy shop." Which she and her sister ran here. Now just the sister.

Thane thought nothing of the moniker she gave to her cousin Sean, assuming that 'blue dragon' was simply a nickname for the man. It was only the widening of her eyes that gave a hint of something strange, but before he could think too far on that, she was going on. For a moment she had that prophetic look in her eye, a trait she shared with her brother Leoric. "Aye... he will." Thane agreed quietly. By now he knew enough of what had occurred, and what might be about to happen, to know she spoke true. He frowned again when she spoke of visiting. "Now is not a time to go to Kildare for a visit, Princess. The woods are wild, the roads treacherous, even the city holds its own dangers."

Which had more of a pout to occur with a peek of leaf green eyes at a slant up at the knight walking at her side, or she was walking at his side depending on how one looked at it. "You sound like my brother but I am old enough to be careful. I can fly out of danger and I would get to visit my new sister in law. I was briefly there for the wedding." And whisked right back home afterwards. "If I went back when Leoric does, I would be safely escorted." She was pleading her case well and would the best she could for she was curious about Kildare. Something that stuck in her craw as one might put it.

Despite her words of being 'old enough', her words were so innocent... her features so fetchingly naive, he almost didn't want to destroy all of her bright hopes. Glancing over in her direction, something about her made his features soften. "Aye... if you were to go with Leoric, perhaps it would be alright." He offered, almost cautiously. Leoric would have his neck if he suspected Thane had encouraged his sister in this endeavor, he had a feeling. "But your brother is right to be wary. There will be time enough for visits when Kildare is a safe place again."

"Aye," definite Irish accent to the rather non Irish looking young woman. Not any common nationality. "I am hoping he agrees as I would be good company for Corina." One of her stronger points in the argument. Others had gone too but they left, even if they didn't come back here to the lands. There was also the fact that she had not found her niche yet and free to travel. Nothing holding her here but her love of her mother, siblings, cousins and so on, but two of her dearest were in Kildare! It would be an enlightening experience and she might help Corina in her duties. From her understanding she had quite a few more of the social area and humanitarian such as establishing an orphanage for the devastation after the Witch had left many orphans. The faraway look at the moment only showed her determination and new ideas to present in supporting her cause. "It is getting late and I should be away as my brother will expect me to speak of his day and mine." The two were only a year apart and very close. "I would like to talk again Sir Thane." Realizing she had managed through a whole conversation with the man.

"Aye.." He agreed with her gently, and that subtle smile was back, only this time, it lingered a few moments longer. "I am certain you would be." When she spoke of leaving, he straightened up again, seeming to take on that Knightly demeanor once more though it had never quite left him completely. "Of course. I apologize for keeping you. It would be an honor to speak again." A pause as he reconsidered and offered politely, "Would you like me to escort you to wherever you are going?"

Here came the more shy smile. "You do not keep me and if you wish to escort me then I accept." In her eyes she would have one up on her brother, something that has been going on since they were small. On the arm of a knight to their door, which would be open and Tykir would see! Ah yes, life was grand at the moment. "Can I put my hand on your arm like others do when being escorted?" She had to make sure of that part!

She seemed a sweet lass, Leoric's little sister, Thane thought as he offered her his arm. Almost reminded him of... but he shook that ghost away. Once she took his arm, he tucked his other hand behind his back and began walking at her speed out into the hall. Her question surprised him but its directness had his lips twitching. "Aye, if you so wish."

She would guide him through the many halls and stairwells before her chambers and that of her brother's were gained. They shared a suite, own bedrooms of course but a joint living area with all the accommodations of their status. Carlton and Lydia were next to theirs. Henna still stayed in the castle and her suite not far either. Andrew had the West Tower with his wife and two children. She smiled discreetly, walking like a natural born queen at the knight's side. Little did he know the tremendous step she had taken this evening. Maybe it was the good karma from rescuing the small bird. Tykir saw them coming and quickly moved out of sight. She knew why, so he could pretend he didn't see her being escorted by one of the knights! She knew he saw. "That is the rapscallion Tykir who ran chicken." Her hand sliding away from his arm as she smiled up to him. Real warmth there as it even lifted those small delicate temple feathers. Something, one would find, expressed various emotions in the two.

And little did SHE know, Rina had given the Knight a bit more confidence as far as talking to others went. His father had always impressed upon Thane the line that must not be crossed with royalty. 'You can eat and drink and fight with Kings,' his father had said, 'But they know, and you must always remember, that does not make you one of them.' Thus he had always felt a necessary sense of formality around royalty. But for a time tonight, he had almost forgotten he was speaking with a Princess. When they came to her door, he blinked when a young man went capering away, dark greens moving back to Rina for the explanation she offered. Ah, he knew the name... Tykir was her younger brother. Her comment brought a slight chuckle beneath his breath. "Ah." When her hand slid away, he clasped both hands again behind his back. "It was an honor and pleasure to meet you, my lady."

He would gradually learn that this kingdom was not like any other and Royalty was just a title, not the person who was born to it but needed in some structuring of society. Even there it was loosely used. Rina was part Elf too, though her ears were not pointed the set of her eyes slanted. Her smile absolutely beamed when he chuckled at her comment. He had found her funny when she was trying to be funny. She didn't feel so abnormal in that moment. "I shall bid you a wonderful night, as wonderful as it has been meeting and talking with you." Offering him the quick yet graceful dip of a curtsey and lingering a moment in the uncertainty of what to say more or not say, or turn about and march into the room was the proper thing. The bewildered look on her face was probably as comical as the dilemma.

That beaming smile of hers felt like a ray of sunshine even though it was dark outside by now, the castle dimly lit by torches in their sconces along the stony walls. When she curtsied, he bowed deeply, and that might have been his only reply had she not hesitated in her departure with that strange pause. He looked at her in return, just as bewildered. Finally breaking the silence with a concerned query. "Are you well?"

"Yes, I should get some sleep .." words tumbled unsure but she quickly smiled again to make up for them. She was looking at his handsome face as if seeing it for the first time before she was finally quickly around on a heel and into the chambers. The door eased closed as it was to be closed at night before they found their beds and sleep.

Leaving him standing outside her closed door with the same baffled look upon his face. Had he said something wrong, missed a step somehow? Or did he have something on his face? A hand reached up to rub his stubbly chin, both to see if he had been drooling or something and a gesture of befuddlement. Dismissing the strange moment amongst an otherwise pleasant night, he eventually turned and walked away, for the guest chambers where he was residing until they departed Heathfield.

Date: 08-02-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 2

The Book of Kildare

It would be the next evening when a servant would deliver the small package to Solarina's door. A piece of twine its only wrappings, and this more to keep the pages together, for it was in fact a book. It had the slightly yellowed pages and the deep earthy smell of an old and much-read volume. The title, carved in fancy scrolls into the leather of the binding, was The Trials and Triumphs of the Kings of Kildare. When she began to pore through the pages, Solarina would find that the stories were written by someone with quite an imaginative style, and dated back to the ancient first days of her brother's kingdom. There was no note left with it, no message of its sender. The only hint was the feather that was stuck midway through the book. It wasn't white like her wings, but a creamy mottled brown, very similar to the bird which she had rescued yesterday in the Solarium.

Rina had not been in her suites when the package arrived. Instead the chambermaid had set it on the small table just inside the door. A spot where mail or anything sent was set so that Master Tykir or Mistress Rina would find it as soon as they stepped inside. It couldn't be for Tykir and luckily he had not arrived before Rina and assume it was for him with no markings. The title and the feather were the only clues that this book was intended for her. She eagerly took it up and off to her private bed chambers. Here she threw herself onto the bed, stomach down and book in hand. The twine was removed and the cover was carefully opened, first to let the feather fall out as it seemed stuck in a random page than a particular chapter the sender wished her to read. Who had she talked on about Kildare? There had been only one other than her brother and her brother would have told her about such a book. A treasure. It had to be Sir Thane. Although she couldn't be one hundred percent certain.
So the stories started with a flourish. The writing as ancient as the pages that were very carefully turned. It came to pass from times of old when man walked the earth alongside the Fae and Elves, that gods saw favor in the women born of man and so took them as their wives. So was true of Elves and Gods, Elves and Man, Fae and Elves, Fae and Man. Fae being a loose term used for all divisions below angels. Each class had their own special abilities that had separated them. The mixed generations shared abilities of some or even of all inherited. So emerged the McLarkin clan, son of the Lark, the old ground dwelling songbirds that are brownish in color. Symbolic of the line of kings to come that were more than they seemed. The first was name Emmet, the Warrior. The lands of Kildare were overrun with goblins and fierce beasts that he led an army to defeat. His prowess with the sword and other weapons having him rise amongst his fellow men. He was a big man, made in the image of a god and after the battles that took a decade were won, he was made their king. The next decade had the castle built and a fortress to surround it to keep those of Kildare safe.
This first long chapter of the book then went into the many different heroic stories of Emmet McLarkin of which Rina read through a half dozen. The man of times past became bigger than life through his stories as written by some unknown bardic author for included were songs in praise that were sung. She could not find any signature nor reference as to who wrote down these stories. She heard Tykir coming in and realized she had missed her evening meal as the chambermaid knocked on her door. She had brought her up a tray of a light fare and to make sure she hadn't fallen ill. The book was quickly hidden under her pillow as he was up and to the door to let the chambermaid in that took care of them. She was thanked as it was set to a table and Rina realized just how hungry she had gotten. Once she was done with her meal, she would seek out her mother to talk for a while and to say good night to. A ritual of time spent with her in the least. There were days she was with her mother near all day but as she grew older, there was more time spent on her own as would be of any teen her age. Soon she would try to seek out, or even waylay, Sir Thane and see if he was the one that had sent her the book.

Date: 08-03-10
Poster: Thane Roberts
Post # 3


Sir Thane had the tendency of being a night-owl, a habit not conducive of his lifestyle, when he always had to rise early and work hard from dawn til dusk. But he couldn't help it. At night, his thoughts came alive and his mind chattered with such nuisance noise, that there was nothing to do but find some form of distraction. Oftentimes he would take a walk amongst the nocturnal creatures of the woods, or practice his swordplay, alone under the moonlight. The evening prior he had been up past the midnight hour reading, and it made him groggy by the following afternoon. Thane had a bit of free time before dinner was called in the great hall, even after changing into a clean tunic, and he lay down flat on his back on the bed. Just to rest his eyes a moment... but the moment his eyelids drooped closed, sleep took him, and the dream followed.


The house he was swept to was familiar, nestled on the far edge of Outhenby village. It appeared small from a distance, but as he drew nearer shapes began to take form. There was the enormous old oak tree growing beside it, the sloped roof that always needed mending in one place or the other. The windows were open, undrawn curtains fluttering in the summer breeze. There was the porch, and there, sitting in the creaky old rocking chair, was Seren.


She was all in white, an ivory-colored gown embedded with tiny seed pearls: a simple garb, but she was so lovely it took his breath away. He recognized it instantly as her wedding dress. Seren's fair blonde hair was all a swirl of gold silk, and it fluttered around her face when she lifted her head to smile at him, so tenderly it nearly broke his heart. He stepped closer and only then noticed what she was holding in her arms. It was an infant, a baby boy, and he had Thane's dark green eyes.... He reached out to touch the child's cheek, but his fingers went right through it as if the baby were nothing but mist. It frightened him, and he reached out for Seren, but she too was mist... and even when he began to weep with frustration, she only tilted her head towards him, and smiled up at him with those blue blue eyes...


He was jolted awake by a bang on his door. No - outside his door, in the hallway. A couple of his neighbor knights were loudly exiting their chambers, exuberantly wondering what would be served tonight in the great hall. Thane brushed a hand down his face; his cheeks were dry though his eyes felt as strained and tired as before. There was no time to dwell over the dream, nor any sense in doing so, either. He pushed to his feet, buckled his sword belt about his waist, and left the room. He'd have to hurry down to the great hall, though likely he was already late.

There was reason to her madness as she donned a light sweater over the summer cotton dress for where she was going. A torch would be her comfort of light that she lifted from one of the holders along the wall. Hair was braided and looped back out of her face. The flames seem to intensify the deep yellow of her attire, the sweater a dark brown. The door to the dungeons, one of them, was just down from the knights hall. There was no one imprisoned presently that she knew of. Looking up and down the hallway before she pressed the door open and quickly slipped inside. It was darker than the hall she was in but there were a few lights along the way. In silent stealth she moved, her ears drumming while straining to hear any noise at all. For the confinement of space, though not real small, wings were tightly tucked behind her, the flight feathers crossing.

Thane shut his door behind him, then was nearly knocked into by a squire who had been hustling by. Thane waved off the lad's profuse apologies and turned to walk down the hall. He was still somewhat bleary from his nap, and trying to shake that hollow feeling, so was somewhat preoccupied as he walked. But not so much that he failed to notice the dungeon door, standing slightly ajar. Thane paused there, glancing around, but the hall was otherwise deserted. It was odd, because there were no prisoners being held currently, so no guards stationed and no reason anybody should be down there. Thane frowned, glanced over his shoulder once more, then lifted a torch off the wall and stepped into the dim dungeon hallway. Perhaps merely the wind had blown the door open but it deserved to be checked out.

Many had died, worse, been tortured in these dungeons when Rath ruled. His cruelty knew no boundaries. There was a wind in the tunnels, as out of nowhere it would whisk by, sometimes howling as if the voices of the damned still echoed through the decades. At times it would feel like something flew past one's foot while shadows danced from the flickering flames of the torch. Hard to tell what it was but then one might get a glimpse of a rat. Shrew type with the longer nose and far more vicious looking. There was a hint of bells chiming somewhere. Hard to tell for as one got deeper down the dungeon tunnels, they split off. Solarina was already getting lost. She didn't remember some of these tunnels but knew they would eventually come back to the start. That was if one knew their way. She was deeper instead. There was at least three levels that were used and there were at least two levels below that. One of those was where Rath had his weapons of torture made.

Thane knew the stories of what had happened during Rath's rule well enough. It was to be expected that men-at-arms would trade such stories amongst themselves, and that the tales grew taller with each telling. Not that the horrors that occurred here needed much exaggeration to be deeply disturbing. Thane held his torch aloft as he began to make his way deeper into the dungeons, lifting his boot with a frown when a beady-eyed shrew snaked past. He wasn't sure what was drawing him onward; chances are nobody was down here, but one foot followed the other and he did not yet turn around. There was a sense of unsettled spirits here, but he was not afraid. There was not much that a ghost could do to him which would be worse than those feelings evoked by his dream. He lifted his voice,"Hello?" It echoed over and over down the stony walls.

As Thane reached a long corridor that the light dimmed a certain distance down for it was fairly straight of fifty feet. There was a form that the light barely touched and so one could reason the light was playing tricks. Flowing hair, flowing gown, most likely a blond, a candle held in her hand as she stopped as if looking his way then disappeared down a corridor that thwo others intersected with. A choice of three he would find once he reached the spot. At that point Rina stopped, knowing she was lost. Her heart started pounding in her chest, her throat and her ears were drumming like a tribe on the warpath. The feathers at her temples stood nearly straight out and she knew when she froze in the middle of this corridor, she wasn't alone. That's when she saw the disfigured face, the contorted limbs and she screamed. Couldn't be helped, blood curdling one that would scare the ghosts themselves as she turned in a split second and started running.

He was about to call out again, when a shadow moving ahead had him stopping dead. A woman, a blonde... his heart almost stopped and in that moment, all logic flew, and an impossible hope flushed him. It couldn't be, it wasn't possible, perhaps he was going mad.... but there was that tiniest glimmer of hope that had him calling her name. "Seren?" He started forward quickly, only to see her vanish. He ran forward but had to stop again when confronted with a three-way choice. His heart pounded in his throat, where had she gone? He was still trying to decide when that scream chilled his very bones. "Seren!" He ducked down the corridor where the scream had come from and began running towards it.

Luckily she had not dropped the torch in her moment of total fear. Fear had not frozen her to the spot either or take away from the good pair of lungs on the older teen. He was running, she was running. Torch light danced off the corridors and around corners. Rina wasn't expecting anyone down here when a larger shadow loomed up played over by the dancing lights but before she could stop, she ran into something solid and hard. Although winded and gasping for a breath, she managed a deafening scream right against whatever she had run into. The torch knocked out of her hand went flying only to roll up against the wall of stone harmlessly and still continued to burn as she beat against what was blocking her escape.

It felt as if it was taking years to reach her, and now his blood was pumping in fear, but for her, not himself. "Seren!" He had thought he was following her, so when the torch light was suddenly coming at him, he was taken aback. There was barely time to register a shock of blonde hair before the figure slammed into him, solid and very much real. His heart swelled into his throat, an arm instinctively lifting to take hold, but something was wrong. The shape and size were wrong, and she was screaming and beating against him.... reality struck him in a rush and he had to swallow the lump that had come to his throat. "Princess." His voice was deep, low and very calm. He still held his torch up and out of the way, his other arm now trying to discourage her blows. "Princess Solarina, don't fear, it's me. Sir Thane."

Her fists ceased, what little damage they could even do against him. Green eyes wide with fear changed instantly as she threw her arms around him and held onto him tight. He could probably feel her body trembling before she became urgent, "we need to get out of here. There was something down that corridor and down another that means us harm. Bloodied contorted face and body." She shivered again as one hand got a hold of the hem of his tunic. He wasn't leaving this place without taking her with him. "I came down to face my fears only to have them realized." She would get even with Tykir by daring him to come down here and telling him of the events that took place. That was once she was out of here. Presently they were too real.

Thane pushed away his own deep sorrow, the sort that could swallow you up if you let it, but he didn't. Couldn't. He had to take care of this one first. Once she calmed, he wrapped his arm around her to make her feel more secure. She felt very small and vulnerable in his embrace, trembling as she was, and his hand rubbed her shoulder slightly in a comforting gesture. His frown returned as he wondered what on earth had drawn her down here, but he only nodded. Time enough for questions later, it was time to leave. "Alright, it's alright. We'll be out of here soon." He picked up Solarina's fallen torch to offer it back to the girl, and then began escorting her back the way he'd come from, remembering the routes he'd gone though the place was like a labyrinth. He could not help that final glance over his shoulder as he remembered the flaxen-haired phantom he'd followed. But no, it would be folly to seek her still. One couldn't chase ghosts forever.

He might notice that the feathers of her wings stood out like ruffled or slightly electrically charged from getting near something of a strong source of ethereal energy. Negative as it was, there was both roaming these corridors as if from some other place and time. His arm about her shoulders, wings and all, had a comforting feel that was not expected but certainly appreciated. She cuddled in before taking the torch, getting out of here was the best idea in a decade! Her heart rate settling the closer they got to the door, which was now seen up ahead still ajar. Her screams would not have been heard by anyone beyond that door, even with it slightly open. The tunnels below, one could think they were going in the direction of sound heard only to be misguided completely from where it had originated for the way sound traveled. Why sounds were still traveling from decades before. She tried to bring in some humor to override her recent fear. "What brings you down here Sir Thane," though with the glance up, if he looked, he would see he was her hero.

Solarina even looked a bit like Seren, or at least, how Seren might have looked as a younger girl, and it was a bit like torture having her clinging to him like that. He endured it without a word, acting only as a protective presence as he led her back towards the warm light seeping through the ajar door. He missed her glance up, for he was looking ahead with a stare that seemed distant, his features appearing almost haggard. "The door was open," he replied quietly. "It seemed strange so I decided to check that nobody had strayed down here by error."

"I thought I had closed it behind me when I went in," more mussed and the gobbled up tunic hem material crushed in her hand was released. "I'm glad you did." Debating to expose her foolishness or what seemed to her as foolish now. "I get teased by my brother and dares I would never go down into the dungeons by myself. I was reading a book about men who braved so much, I thought I could at least brave a dusty old dungeon." Which first off, it wasn't dusty at all but cold and damp, stone didn't really collect dust although there was dirt in some of them and in some of the lower cells. "I could use a drink," as she eyed the knight's hall which was very close. Women were allowed there but they didn't make a habit of it. If she wanted to go there she could for her status.

That explained the why of it. "You ought not to heed others' empty dares. Such places are not safe, especially by yourself." His frown was more concerned than disapproving. She won his dark green gaze when she mentioned the book, and he was about to comment upon it, but then they were stepping out into the hall and she was talking about a drink. "I will escort you to the Knight's Hall, if you wish, or the great hall if you prefer." He placed the torch back in its holder on the wall, keeping an arm about her still but more loosely as she began moving away.

She replaced her torch into its holder near at the same time. There were other fears that were just as pronounced in her life even if completely different. She hesitated but logic won out. "The Great Hall is a distance and then servants would need to be rung for to bring what is requested. Where, here, it is but a few feet away and drink readily available." She needed something stronger than water, cider or lemonade. Which in the great hall with the staff that served the royal family would be giving her looks if she went for something stronger. Here it would not be noticed but here laid one of her other fears. Except she was at Sir Thane's side as she started forward, "who is Seren that you called for in the corridor?" So she had heard.

A simple nod of assent was given when she hinted she would prefer the Knights' Hall. "Very well." He would offer his arm as they started in that direction. He did not pause when she asked that question, nor did he answer for such a long moment that she might begin to wonder if he'd heard her. If she stole a look up at his face, she would see his handsome features creased darkly. Not forbidding, but there was something dark and haunted flickering there in his eyes. "She was my wife. My late wife." He did not go on, until the silence stretched uncomfortably and he felt as if he ought to explain. "I suppose I.. caught a glimpse of your hair and thought.." a shake of his head. "She was fair of hair like you, you see."

The long moment had her looking up at him and she saw there, the pain in his eyes and in the lines of his face so she hushed. Wishing in that moment she had not asked him the simple question. But he came through. Wife? That was a surprise and a slight blow. She thought she could think of him as single, unattached, hero, but his heart was attached to another. "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry," as her heart went out to him. "Oh, I see, she had light hair like mine," which she could understand but she had not been near him until she ran down that last bit of corridor, a turn taken that took her slamming right into his chest. The braids were coming undone for the harrowing event. At least the feathers had smoothed down on her wings by the time they entered the knight's hall. Present was one of her other fears. Her arm upon Thane's her only security from the looks that were sure to go her way. She was thinking 'freak' but the cluster of young squires her age and another group a few years older were not looking her way with that in mind. There were nudges, words spoken low especially when one was staring. Not upon her wings like she thought but upon her features until one of the others knocked him off the bench they sat on, he had nudged so hard. Green eyes couldn't help but be drawn there, handsome faces the lot of them as the blush rose to her cheeks unbidden and she tore her sight away from them, ignored them, or she would not speak coherently soon. "Wine," as they gained the bar near the open area where the food was served.

"Aye." A hushed response, and slight bow of his head in acknowledgement of her 'I'm sorry.' That was all he would say on the matter until asked further. The pain was an old one but it still ached... and all the more for the combination of his dream earlier and then 'seeing' her in the dungeons. In the light of day he was certain now it had been only a trick of his imagination. Stepping into the knights' hall, he sensed Solarina's apprehension and Thane seemed to draw himself a bit taller, protectively. There was a certain hush that followed his presence as well, being one of the few and elite Kingsmen and a foreigner from Kildare at that. He inclined his head in general greeting too all before escorting Rina over to the bar. Adding an order of potcheen onto her order of wine. He could do with something strong himself.

There was another group, younger knights that had progressed up the scale from squire that were watching. These young men didn't nudge each other or the like but certainly it was the first time they got to see this particular princess up close. She had become a myth of beauty for her elusive ways that none got to see but only hear of the fairness of her skin, hair and features. There was also the wings but there were other winged ones even if their wings were not natural. She was well aware of those in the room, others too that paid no mind at all seated further away, more interested in their intense conversation on weapons, protocol and battles. Thane might notice that her voice became very low, a hush whisper, "thank you," to the man who smiled after giving her the chalice of wine. A good vintage they reserved for the more elite knights and horsemen. There was a table nearer the bar and a distance from the other occupied tables. "Can we sit here?" Moving already in that direction.

Thane noticed the way that some of the younger lads were staring at his young companion, noticed too the way that Rina's cheeks became flushed and her voice soft as a dove. She seemed a bit uncomfortable and he, too prefered a table at some distance away. So he nodded, thanking the tender when his potcheen was delivered, and taking the bottle and glass over to the table she'd gestured to. He pulled out the chair first for Rina before seating himself. The bottle was uncorked, a measure of the clear potent liquid poured into his glass before he spoke again. "You are enjoying the book then?"

She had a way of sitting gracefully even with the cumbersome wings, or so it would seem but they adjusted just as she sat and curved to cross behind the chair so that the feathers didn't get crushed. She also seated herself so her back was to both groups of men, or else she knew she'd keep looking their way and making the awkward situation even worse. They might end up thinking she was stuck up but in reality she was very shy. "Yes, very much. I have only read on Emmet McLarkin first as he seems to be the father of the line. At least where written history starts up. You left the book for me.." said as a statement for it had to be him! He could see the light in leaf green eyes, the young wonderment that was there and innocence that hadn't been crushed by reality yet. "Thank you."

He was watching her curiously, noting that she did not seem surprised that he mentioned the book... she must have guessed it was him all along. But then she trailed off and spoke her realization aloud, and he had to smile, a faint uplifting of lips that smoothed some of the lines on his face. "Aye, I did. You're welcome. That was always one of my favorite books. After speaking to you of Kildare, I thought you might enjoy it." He had read those stories dozens of times himself. She had that way of lighting up when she smiled like that and almost appeared much younger, untouched by the harsher hands of life. She had been sheltered but Thane suspected she would have had that same sweet innocence even if she had not been born royalty. "There are other titles you might like, as well. Surely the large library here would have many."

"My brothers, do they know of this book?" It was possible they had not or surely they would have brought her a copy before. If they did not, she was going to make sure they got to see it being it was of their family, part of it anyway." She could still feel eyes upon her from her back and next drank down the wine almost in one gulp to get rid of the other sensation. Except, her metabolism, she could drink a bottle of potcheen and it would have little effect but wine, the type of fermentation, it had a giggle to escape. She had not tried wine before, not that Thane would know that, not that she would know of any adverse effect. "I would like to read all you have even if only loaned."

"I do not know if your brothers know of it. I'm not even certain another copy exists. It was a part of my father's collection for as long as I can remember, and passed on to me upon his death." He swallowed his shot of potcheen neatly, and would have poured another, but he noted her sudden chugging of her wine and the giggle which followed. "You are certainly welcome to the few books I have here." Perhaps he would send another to her chambers. Thane re-corked the bottle of potcheen for he'd take it back to his chambers. He had neglected to ever get his dinner, but was reluctant to face the hustle and bustle of the great hall. He pushed back his chair and rose, offering his arm. "The hour grows late and I would not want your parents and brother to worry. Shall I escort you back to your chambers?"

She knew then that they had not and would greatly appreciate reading it, "I will give it to them to read when I'm done." Rising with a sly glance that had her look a lot older in that moment, "when I go to Kildare." She had not been deterred from that idea. Rina would have the book read by the time they went or soon after getting there. She certainly would not leave it behind. One hand paused to be placed on his arm like they had arrived when one of the knights ran up to her, as if waiting for this moment to press a folded up paper into her hand before bowing away, with words that tumbled to the tune of, a pleasure to see you your graceness. There went the heat to her cheeks and this wad of paper to burn in her clutched hand. The one had to have fold it as many times possible before it could be folded no more. A glance trailed to notice far too many eyes upon her and certainly she had very pink cheeks, flabbergasted too as she couldn't even respond. Thane might notice the lad didn't stay too long, did what was requested of him by a friend and then ran!

He did not miss her determined words, the way she phrased it as when rather than if. It made his lips quirk upward again and he simply nodded his head in acknowledgement. He held out his arm then noticed the other knight running over. Again he seemed to straighten himself up taller though the skinny young lad certainly wasn't much of a physical threat. He eyed the knight as he went skittering off again, then looked down to the note that Rina had wadded up in her hand. And he could not help it, she looked so stunned that he chuckled quietly beneath his breath. Not laughing at her, simply finding humor in the situation. "Shall we?" He offered his arm and would escort her to some sort of escape from all the staring eyes.

A trailing glance was given the group, as it could be any one of them. She suspected the one who delivered the note was not the writer of it. She knew not to linger in a curious wandering eye before focus was back on Thane. "Are the other books a continuation of kings or other stories too?" There were probably many a hero that kept the royal family flourishing as well their own until the Witch. Which reminded her, "Leo and Gaidan will be written about too and their knights." Which would include him. Not a word was said on the note as she would not open it until she was in the privacy of her chambers, and if it was something not nice then it could be burned in the hearth and no one the wiser.

He was curious about the note, certainly but would not pry. "There is one volume I think you'd like. It is about the mythical beasts which roamed Kildare's forests in the days of old. Some wonderful, and some terrible." He would not mention that a few of these were rumored to be in those forests still, though it was possible she'd heard those rumors already. A glance passed down to her when she mentioned her brothers. "Aye, your brothers will go down in history, I am sure." Modestly neglecting to include himself.

Which had her smile brightened again that turned up his way. Innocently adoring for all that he had done for her. Luckily it was pure innocence or it might have him running. She didn't need to say thank you again as it was there in her eyes and in her smile. The tuffs of feathers at her temples lifting. "I will see you soon Sir Thane. Sleep well." She planned to go to the king's field tomorrow, to see him and possibly watch whoever wrote the note in her hand. The curiosity near killing her as they reached her door. It was ajar which meant Tykir was still up, she would have to rush to her room so he didn't notice the note and bug her over it. She knew he would. "I will see you soon," wait she already said that as another giggle escaped. Once he said his farewells, she would dart into the room straight for her bed chambers, say something to Tykir on the way and leave him to close the door.

Not likely he would run, for the man tended to be oblivious to such things. He simply thought that the Princess was a sweet girl and they were becoming friends. Part of him believed that she likely thought him 'too' old, he being a decade her senior. And he felt it sometimes. Rina was so young at heart, so pure and innocent and he.... was not. She deserved one as sunny and full of bright hopes as she was. "Aye, fair dreams to you, Princess." His reply murmured with a nod of his head, then she was running off, probably to read her love letter. At least he assumed that was what the note contained. A respectful nod was given to the young prince, her brother Tykir, and he would see himself back to his chambers. Hopefully the bottle of potcheen in his hand would mean a quick and dreamless slumber.

Date: 08-06-10
Poster: Vincent Hamilton
Post # 4

Knights of Kildare
At the Thistle


Vincent seemed to be the only one around this evening. So far. He had gone exploring, taking a long walk as that was the first best way to really see the countryside. Riding would be second. He had taken his meal here and then sat outside on the porch whittling away the while wondering if any of his comrades might show up. They had all gone their separate ways while waiting in these lands. Their king still in wait of an audience with the King of Heathfield. A man still recovering.

Simon had gone riding again, returning after dark. His horse was returned to the castle stables where he paid the lad some extra coin for taking care of him, then he headed for the Thistle for a drink or two. He had taken a lunch and had enjoyed it while watching the sun set. As he approached the tavern, he saw a familiar figure sitting on the porch. Moving on up the steps, he took a lean against the railing. "Evenin', Vincent."

The whittling was turning into a small owl, crude but a piece for good luck usually was. Symbolic. He didn't claim to be an artist but the miniature was descent work. It was pocketed as the small knife was closed up and slipped into a small leather casing on his belt. "Evening Simon. I haven't seen hide nor hair of Thane in a while, have you?" Although there were some rumors floating that put their comrade about in the least.

He scratched thoughtfully at the stubble along his jaw, then shook his head. "No, I haven't seen him. I figured he was off exploring somewhere." He was sure if there were a problem, Leoric would have sent them out looking for their friend.

He gave a slight shrug of his shoulder before rising from the seat butted up against the tavern's outside wall and was over to take up a lean against the rail. A star filled sky lent to the serenity of this evening. Warm air, a little too humid like it wanted to rain and possibly would later on for clouds not that far off that would obscure those stars soon enough. "Seems a few saw him escorting one of the princesses to the knight's hall. Had a few of the younger knights and some of the squires jealous, so one said to another I happened to overhear." He wasn't much for gossip except this one concerned a comrade. So it was different.

"Really?" He chuckled and shook his head again, only this time it was just because of the lads being jealous. "Must have been one of the younger princesses then. Well, it gives them something to aspire to." He grinned and added, "and it might do Thane some good, aye?"

Speak of the devil and he shall appear.... it wasn't long before Thane came up the path towards the Thistle. Hands in pockets as he moved at an easy strolling pace. He usually took his meals up at the castle for the sake of convenience, but a change was nice every once in awhile. So up he came, lost in his own thoughts, but recognizing the familiar silhouettes of his comrades even before he could hear their voices. A hand lifted to wave as he took his time getting there.

"Aye, that I'll agree on although I would have thought he'd shy away from royalty." Dark eyes shifted as speaking of the devil would have Thane materialize. There he was! The bottle of potcheen in hand was offered over to Simon, "devil comes when you call," chuckle under his breath with the lowered words as Thane approached. "Evening Thane, how has life been? Anything new and exciting?"

He nodded as he looked to see Thane, "so it seems." The bottle was accepted and a long drink taken before it was offered back. "Evening, Thane." He'd let Vincent do the questioning.

They seemed rather.... chipper, or at least Vince was. And they had a look which made Thane wonder what they had just been talking about. Stepping up onto the porch, his eyes shifted from one to the other. "No, only the usual. How have you both been?"

Vincent was usually chipper although one would not say exploding with joy that he'd get up and tap dance or do a jig. He noticed the more wary look their way as he offered the bottle of potcheen to share a drink. "The usual being seen with one of the princesses?" Like come on, that was not usual!  He was grinning next, "not as good as you've been it seems."

That was direct! Simon blinked and looked at Vincent. He managed to keep a straight face though and looked back to Thane. "Been good." Yeah, that was enough of an answer. If he said more, he would be grinning.

Thane also blinked and looked humorously blank a moment with surprise that they'd heard. Though really he shouldn't have been surprised, the way word got around. He took the offered bottle to buy a moment and took a sip. Swallowing, he just gave a slight shake of his head. "I have met Princess Solarina a couple of times, aye. She's a nice little lass." His brows drew together, hoping they weren't about to suggest anything more than that.

Surely something like that would be the hot topic amongst all the squires and young knights and then to leak up the line. "I imagine she is. I hear she is quite strikingly pretty," if not more but Vincent  didn't tend to refer to any woman as beautiful when talking seriously. He had his reasons. His reasons would have pretty being the better adjective. "She is the one with the wings?" No, he would not suggest Thane was doing anything untoward with the young princess.

They both knew Thane well enough to not suggest such. "It sounds as if the royal family is starting to get out again. How did you manage to meet her the first time?"

"I suppose she is, and aye, the one with the wings." He answered Vince's questions simply, not knowing how else to go about it. Another small swig of potcheen taken before he gave the bottle to Simon. "I was wandering the castle grounds and found her in the solarium... trying to free a bird. She has a curiosity for Kildare so I loaned her a book of its history, and really, that is all."

"There are still some of those books around? I know many were destroyed when the Witch took over, hoping to erase the kingdom's history to a point it was starting over from the ground up." And that in the future no one could make claims, if there were books around in testament.

"She does sound like a good lass." He patted his pocket then pulled out a pack of cigarillos, vanilla scented, and offered one to his friends before lighting up one of his own.

"It was in my father's library. I took it with me when we all dispersed." Dark and troubled times, and that book had always been a precious possession to him. He accepted Simon's offer of a cigarillo with a nod of thanks, lighting it up and taking a long drag before speaking again. "Aye, she is. And she is determined to go with her brothers when we all return to Kildare."

"Aye, I know where a few more of them are that the Witch didn't find." Not just books on Kildare's history but a history book of many of the noble families. "She is that interested in Kildare?" More like a hmmmm sound to it. He too took one of the cigarillos offered to be lit up and enjoyed. The layering of vanilla scent loitered on the air as there was hardly a breeze at all. "If she goes, it will be our hides if something happens to her." As it would be put upon them to her safety if not said directly.

There was a possibility that the young princess was more interested in the stories of the forests. Simon frowned slightly as he looked at Vincent. "Aye, it would be. Maybe one of the Order of Athena will be assigned to go with her." Jael would be part of the guard but she had the duty of watching over the Regent's wife and the ladies of the court as well.

Thane agreed to that. Having the young princess along would only make things that much more tense, for everyone from the men-at-arms to the King himself. They'd all be worried about her safety on top of everything else. But then again she was a woman grown, it was hardly as if they could treat her as a child and simply tell her she couldn't come. Though when it came down to it... that decision would be the King's. "Mm." A thoughtful sound of agreement as he took another drag of cigarillo and gazed out with furrowed brows.

Which was about how they all looked, had Vincent finally grinning just because. A puff of smoke came out in a ring which he then shot a few smaller ones through like a circus hoop. "I'm sure if the King allows her to go she will have restrictions. Jael would have her hands full and the Regent's wife, Duchess of Kildare with her. It is possible there will be a consideration for a regiment of lady knights in Kildare." Such would certainly take the heat off them to be put in charge of a woman. They were just far too unpredictable, at least all his dealings with them had proven such. If you told them not to do something because they could be harmed, they would do it just to put you through a gauntlet with Hell. Being male, it was hardly proper to be in their chambers all night or follow them into the privy for their own protection. Whole thing was awkward and women rebelled against a man protecting most of the time.

"There are the ladies in waiting too, who would help to keep an eye on her." He blew a puff of smoke into the air then continued. "It would take time to build up a regiment though. Training and then testing." He shrugged  slightly. "I'm sure the King will know what to do." Or maybe not. He decided not to predict anything else!

"I doubt she realizes what extra precautions and preparations her presence would mean. She only wishes to see the world, to explore her birthright." He blew out a long stream of smoke. Nobody could fault the Princess for her innocence and enthusiasm. She, too had the right to ride out if she so wished.

"Just one more thing on the list of things to do as Kildare is restored and grows into its own." Taking another long drag of the smoke to pour out into a drifting layer "Aye, and we are all looking at the negative side of it. Never know, her going to Kildare could be a great help instead of a fly in the ointment."

"I suppose we'll see in time." He straightened from his lean as he spoke. "I think I'm going to head back to the castle. Maybe see if there's a card game going on that I can join." He wasn't quite ready for sleep yet.

"Sounds like a good idea to me and if there is none at the hall, there is the Casino." He knew that there were private parties there during the later hours. He was done with the cigarillo as he didn't smoke them down to almost nothing. They got too rough tasting, so it was dropped to be crushed out under the heel of his booth as he was up from his lean. The bottle of potcheen would be going with them.

"Aye.... we shall see." Thane nodded, keeping any other thoughts to himself, then glanced up when the other two suggested finding a game to join. But he didn't move from his lean against the post. "Enjoy. I'll see you both in the morning." He still had some of his cigarillo left and would savor it.

"Maybe keep that pretty little waitress company in there." Having gotten a glimpse of Maggie. Cards were safer. Although he wondered at times if Thane avoided them in certain ways, kept apart in a way. He shrugged it off as he headed down from the porch and in the direction of the castle.

"G'night, Thane." He headed down the steps, finishing a few more drags of the cigarillo before dropping it and crushing it out. "Haven't been to the casino yet." Maybe he'd go there another night if they found a game at the hall.



Date: 10-04-10
Poster: Gaidan McLarkin
Post # 5

Royal News
The day had been a warm one after a few days of rain. The sun drying the lands somewhat with a tease of summer even with the trees changing colors. Gaidan was seeing to the men in  practice and talking with Captain Airtre Madison on some maneuvers. Such military situations went over her head but she did her best to understand and support her husband in all matters where needed. He would be late and she decided to have their dinner out in the courtyard. One she had worked hard on to bringing it to a majestic glory. The sun went down earlier for the season so torches were lit as well candles upon the table set amongst the fall flowers. All the spring and summer ones gone except black eye susans, some phlox and of course the marigolds and mums in full bloom. It still looked pretty as she made it her duty to keep the gardens neat, trimmed and flowers added as needed throughout the season. Of course she had two gardeners but she worked right along with them. Tonight was going to be special as she dressed in a sky blue gown with a dark blue scallop edging. A royal guard was set to the task of intercepting Gaidan when he got into the castle to join his wife in the garden for a late supper. Once he cleaned up of course.

Corina wouldn't have to wait long. He had been intercepted by the guard and went immediately to their room to see to cleaning up and putting on clean clothing. He was trying to remember if this was an anniversary or some other celebration he should have remembered. Taking pain with his clothing, he picked a tunic of dark green with the crest of Kildare embroidered on the left side, black pants tucked into finely tooled leather boots, and of course, his sword at his side. He came into the garden and smiled when he saw her. Corina never failed to take his breath away, but seeing her in the candlelight, in the midst of the autumn garden had him nearly bedazzled. He made his way to her side and took her into his arms. "You look absolutely beautiful tonight," he whispered before kissing her.

She had been walking along the edge of the garden and paused to look up at the sky. A harvest moon was on the horizon. It was in that moment that Gaidan came, feeling that stir even without the need of sight as she turned. Her smile radiant upon sight. "And you the most handsome of all." Even if he had a twin brother that looked exactly like him! She slipped easily into his arms as the kiss was met lovingly while she lingered in his arms and in the kiss.

It was a long time joke between Leoric and himself and it always made him laugh when Corina got involved. As he drew back, his arms remained around her. "That's how you tell us apart, isn't it?" He kept one arm around her and guided her to the table. "I'm glad you decided to have dinner out here tonight. There won't be many more days like this I fear."

"There is something different, though not in looks that I can tell upon sight." After getting with Gaidan, she was one of the few that could tell them apart even if they dressed exactly alike. Which the two of them had on a few occasions. "This night will probably be the last to have such a dinner, under the stars and not too cold." There was a pause as they neared their chairs. One next to the other. "And a night to celebrate," which had green eyes slide up his way to see how he reacted.

Kildare's weather could change all too quickly, especially in spring and fall. He pulled out one of the chair for her but paused and managed to look sheepish. Lowering his voice a touch, Gaidan glanced around then asked, "Do you mean I've forgotten something important? Or some other reason to celebrate?" He'd make it up to her if he had forgotten.

"No, it will be a new celebration," all the while taking his hand as she slid it over the flat of her stomach. Flat for now or if one really looked a slight curve that had not been there before. "We are going to have our first child."

While she took his hand and spoke, he looked confused. It lasted for a second, then another, then his face lit up. "You... you're pregnant? We're going to be parents?" He laughed and instead of her sitting, she was lifted and spun around then he blinked and set her down carefully. "Are you all right? I shouldn't have done that? When?" Laughing, Gaidan suddenly put his head back and yelled up at the stars. "We're having a baby!!"  Maybe Leoric heard that in Heathfield!

That had made her dizzy it was done so quickly! There were changes already taking place as she held onto him once her feet were back on the ground. "Yes, the midwife confirmed my suspicion. I am about  two months pregnant. Seven more to go. I figured eventually you'd figure it out or stop letting me eat for getting too fat." Teasing him as laughter followed while he shouted it to the stars.

"Hopefully I'm not so thick as to think you were just getting fat." His smile was filled with warmth and love as he looked down at her again. This time, he made sure she was seated then he sat as well. "You may have to remind me  that you're not made of glass. Unless you like to be treated that way. What else did the midwife say? What are you allowed to do? Can you travel or is it best we stay here until after the baby is born?" There would be so much else to think about but he was trying not to be overly enthusiastic. He wondered briefly what Leoric would have thought of his outburst, but just shrugged inwardly. Leoric would understand!

"She told me to do things within reason and nothing that might have me thrown such as riding too fast. If I have too many fainting spells or start to bleed, I'm to see her right away. She will do everything she can for me and the child to ensure our safety and health. You'll probably find a note from her on your desk about keeping a guard or even two with me in the Commons." She wasn't sure all that the woman had put in the note, "I wanted to tell you myself before you learned it through a note." Which this was a royal child to be born and possibly the heir if Leo remained childless. The royal midwife/medicine woman would take no chances.

He had moved his chair a touch closer (if possible) and taken hold of her hand, curling his fingers around hers. While the child could become heir, first and foremost, he or she, was their child. He brought her hand up to his lips, placing a gentle kiss on the knuckles. '"Although I know that might be a nuisance to you, that is a necessity, Corina. If Jaelysa is unavailable, then another will take her place." He smile at her again. "Have I told you lately how  tremendously happy I am?"

"I think I can manage to not disobey," which the latter was going to be hard for how devilish and independent she was. "There are the ladies in waiting that can attend to me along with any guards. I wish their safety as much as my own." Knowing, though, for her rank they would sacrifice their lives for her. So, better the guards around! "There might be some that would not be pleased of this news but more will be?" She was hoping and felt the latter would be true.

"Yes, most will be. I would say all but there will always be plotting and planning. A child will establish our family even more than now. And I happen to know, everyone adores you, even if they dislike Leoric and myself." He studied her a moment. "How do you feel? And are you considering names?"

"I have been doing well but the spells of not keeping anything down in the morning had started, why I sought the midwife. You are usually gone by the time it happens as you need to see to many duties with Leo gone. I hope all is well with him," knowing Gaidan had the connection and would have said something if it were not. He was gone a lot longer than planned or so she was under the assumption. "Shall we eat while we talk," she was ravenous in the evening a little more each day. Under the domes that kept all warm was sauteed tender chicken chunks in a light creamy sauce over rice. Broccoli cooked until tender on the side with a sprinkle of cheese and some herbs. Her goblet contained a small amount of wine that was watered down some but she could have. "I have not begun to think of names, something we can do together."

"Aye, we should. You'll need to keep up your strength." He wouldn't keep her from a meal certainly. "Yes, he's well, though of course, there was a great deal of concern once Karl and the others were found. I'm not certain yet what is being planned but I have no doubt Leoric and the knights will not be gone much longer." It seemed as the time for All Hallow's Eve grew closer, the activity of the creatures increased but he said nothing of that. She didn't need that added worry.

If she heard those stories, she would be liable to lock herself in her room! She listened as she started eating. When she started eating she ate like one starved. Skinny as she was she could pack it away and now there was a reason her appetite grew. "It will be good to have them back." Smile went warm and a touch shy with a dipping away of her eyes, "I'll have more of you to myself again."

"Aye, it will, if only for that reason alone." He chuckled as he watched her pack the food away for a moment.  "Of course, I'll be helping as much as I can. We need to reclaim that part of the forest and protect those who live nearby." He knew their concern, knew how dangerous black magic was. His training under Leoric had made him able to feel more and he didn't like how that area of the kingdom made him feel. "I see now what is meant by the glow a woman has when she's carrying a child. You're radiant, Corina."

Which had her pause then push the plate away as her appetite changed in that instant. "I heard some rumors." Her voice changing into a solemn tone. "Are they true? They are pretty horrifying." So he knew she had heard the worse of the worse one. Actually overheard the gardeners talking then later on some of the maids. Those whispers that one happens upon in daily routines. Her blush deepened with his compliment but certainly her eyes light up too.

He wouldn't lie to her as much as he wanted to protect her from the horror. "Aye, they are unfortunately. But they are restricted to that area and haven't attempted to go beyond." As far as they knew. "We've increased the men  in that area but they're no longer allowed to patrol within the boundaries. We haven't proven anything though as of yet, but if they're true, we'll see it end."

"Normally I'm not so affected by hearing such things. Many a tall tale was told to us by our father when he was alive, things to scare little children in a way they like to be scared but this, this is different and I wonder if it is because of my condition that they terrify me. Terrify me that something will happen to you or our child."

"I'm sure it is." He smiled again, "Which is why it's very possible that Leoric won't allow me to accompany him to that part of our lands. We'll see." He had sworn to protect and serve his brother, but Leoric was king. If he didn't wish for Gaidan to take part, though he might argue, Gaidan would do what Leoric wanted.

That seemed to satisfy her as the serving maid was out to clear away the dishes and clean up. "Would you like to take a stroll then have some dessert in the kitchen or our suite later?" She was rising as she needed to be moving for she was not one to sit too long.

That would be interesting once she was further along. "That, my dear, sounds like a perfect plan. " He stood and was over to help her, then offered his arm. "We can talk of the baby and pleasant things for the rest of the night." The frightening ones would return all too soon.



Date: 10-30-10
Poster: Karl von Rundstedt
Post # 6

A Meeting of Kings and Knights


Five men sat around the large hearth inside the office of Heathfield's King. Word had been sent for others to join them, but for the moment, these five men spoke between themselves. Two guards were posted at the entrance with their instructions, to admit the others as soon as they arrived, and then to allow no further interruptions. For the most part, healing of the body was complete. There could be found nowhere else healers with as much skill as those in Heathfield. It was the healing of the mind that continued at this point. The need to see certain things put to rights, put to a necessary end. It was not the first these five had faced death and rode, walked or crawled away. Death was an ever constant playmate for warriors of their ilk. Still, when He made his demands for souls known, warriors of this caliber were not so easily persuaded to hand over their trump cards. And in such moments of life and the afterlife, these five had yet to do more than taste that bitter nectar, leaving the feasting at Death's table for the foe instead. In camaraderie and brotherhood they spoke now, relaxed in this discussion no matter the subject matter.

Kildare had been left in good hands under Gaidan and one of their knights stayed behind to recruit and keep those in line that needed to be. Leoric had come to Heathfield first to console his mother and then had three of his knights join him after Karl and three of his horsemen returned as that followed a few days after his arrival. Vincent, Simon and Thane had been by his side in finding the MacKinlays who were steeped in rumors dealing with the West End forest. Now there seemed to be disturbances in the Northwest, deepest part of the forest that continued into the Wild Lands between Kildare and Luneberg. He was unable to look into the matter, being there was no substantial proof to start, for the need of securing the Keeps of Swan Lake and Cottonwood and the uprising there that was put down. There was something afoot, elusive at first and ever rising its head. The matter could not be set aside any longer especially if there was a connection to the rumors in Kildare and what happened to the King of these lands when in Luneberg. It was why Leo waited patiently as the King healed and now that he was finally summoned, he gathered his three knights with him and approached the guards at the hour given. The Guards immediately let them in as they joined the five near the hearth. Leo greeted them first with a thud of his hand to his chest. "I am pleased you are getting well, Karl." Being he could address him by his first name.

Vincent had been in the knights hall enjoying a meal when the summons came. He finished up and went back to his quarters to freshen up, put on something more presentable then joined his king and comrades. He had not met the infamous King and his four horsemen and for him, this was an honor even if it was under grave circumstances. "Sires, Sirs," respectfully as a hand came to a pound against his chest and bow of his head.

Simon was in his room when the summons came. He had been out earlier, honing his skill with bow and arrow, then gone for a short ride. He had eaten, cleaned up, and was relaxing a bit. It was just a matter of pulling on his tunic and boots and making his way to the office of King Karl. He stepped inside the room and paused to salute and greet the two Kings and the Horsemen.

Thane was not long after Simon, wasting no time when the summons came. He had been in his chambers reading at the window, so it was a short trip down to the King's office. Thane had changed into more knightly attire, a long tunic of deep green belted at the waist with his sword belt. Ear-length dark hair had been combed neatly and his thin beard trimmed. Once admitted to the office, Thane greeted both kings with a fist against his heart and a deep bow. "Sires." He gave a respectful nod to the Horsemen as well and moved to take a seat.

As soon as the door opened, all of the men came to their feet in unison. The Four remained by their chairs and it was Karl who moved beyond, welcoming the Honeee's son and his men with a deep bow of respect. "Thank you, Leoric, and thank you all for coming on such short notice. Please, there are drinks to be had there." A dip of his head indicated the bar that had been set up for their refreshments. "And we'll be seated near the hearth if you don't mind overmuch. We can control the heat from there." He took a step back. "Have you all met?" Karl wasn't really sure who had met on the training field and who had not. "Leoric, Vincent, Simon, Thane ... Vincent, Trevor, Lazare and Dana." Though the King of Heathfield, Karl wasn't one much on ceremony in the privacy of his office tonight. There were matters far more important than the formalities of propriety this evening.

Each one of the Horsemen offered their fist to chest, their bow of greeting, allowing Karl to attend to the arrangements until such time as any of them needed to contribute their part.

Leo was about to make the introductions as he too was not sure if they had met on the king's field or not. Or, in the least had not been formally introduced even if they were not standing on real formal here this night. Respect was there and that was what mattered. He was over to gain himself a drink, strong one even if it didn't have much affect on him for his bloodline. He was back over by the time the introductions were over and taking up a seat so this meeting could begin.

Vincent had not met them formally, though had seen them when they were on the king's field and he was as well to practice. "I'm honored and if it makes matters easier, I can easily go by my middle name of Samuel." Sir Vincent deBeauvais was infamous in his own right. As well his chair. With a bow, he then follow suit in getting a drink of brandy before over to take up a seat in joining them. He knew his part was to listen mostly.

Simon knew each of their names of course, but this was his first formal introduction as well. "I will repeat the words of my comrade, and say I too, am honored to meet each of you." He bowed slightly, then stepped back as well. He'd have a tankard of ale and joined them in a few moments.

It seemed fitting, the two sets of men in the room a good match, with one monarch and four loyal followers each. Thane had seen the others in passing and returned their salute. His respect was clear even if he didn't say much. He went to pour himself a simple ale, then joined the others at the designated meeting spot at the hearth.

As the men made their way over, the Horsemen returned to their seats. Karl remained standing until the last was seated and then he, too, reclaimed a chair. "If you don't mind..." He started, even before he fully settled into the cushion. "I'll cut straight to the point of this meeting. You are aware, Leoric, that there are strange forces at large between Luneberg and Kildare? Some sort of vortex ..." He looked to his men and their confirmation came silent, with just a few nods of heads.

"That is why I wanted to meet with you to find out if there was. We were in the middle of putting down an uprising that would have England involved in trying to crush Kildare when reports came in of men vanishing, being torn apart, some destroyed. There was no evidence offered, no bodies or even parts to support these rumors. There are many straggling families, clans, roaming Kildare that are superstitious and still hold to the time of the Witch. By the time the other matter was being addressed, the news came that you and three of your men in turn, disappeared in Luneberg of the very forest that connects between there and Kildare. I am hoping you can enlighten me of what happened before I arrange a party to go into the forest in Kildare that is inflicted with these rumors." He needed to know what he was up against so few men were lost.

There would be no need for Simon to speak, at least not for a time. He studied each man before turning his attention fully to the conversation between the two Kings.

He listened. And drank some ale.

"I am not one to take to rumors, Leoric ..." Karl smiled, relaxing back in his chair. "But in this, I can say tales are true. We were just south of Luneberg, crossing a mist shrouded field, and the next any of us remember, there was a rumbling, and these creatures came from every direction, we were outflanked and outnumbered by winged, gargoyle-like beasts. Have you heard tell of them? Somehow, through that mist, we had slipped through the vortex from our realm to theirs. I thought by accident ... until your name was mentioned, Leoric."

"Yes, the reports told of winged creatures that were glimpsed before their fellowman disappeared before their eyes. Some said they saw them being ripped apart before escaping but there was no body to be found when they went back. There were varying descriptions some of hound type creatures that leaped great distances." But the last had him stopped to silence for a few suspended moments, "who mentioned my name?" Indeed he was surprised and wondered as he waited on the clarification.


Karl sat forward now, his arms braced to his knees as he looked to his wife's son, the heir of Kildare. "In the midst of the battle, as our defenses were weakened, the creatures parted, as if controlled or even frightened of the one robed in red and black that moved through their masses. She ordered we be taken, and I say she, only for the faintest of feminine tone in her voice, no other reason. None of us ever saw her." He glanced to the other four, then right back to Leoric, not needing confirmation from the men. "It was she who mentioned your name, yours ... and your brother's. Threats, my friend, to add to the tortures that caused us to believe we would never survive to return home." Fingers laced between his knees. "You know of whom I speak?" Karl was well aware of Kildare's past, and knew long before his encounter who they were up against. Still, he watched Leoric.

As Karl leaned forward, Leo naturally mirrored his action. He might notice the faraway look but knowing this son of Honeee, he'd know he was visualizing it, jumping in that warp as much as he could to be there. See what he could first hand. The connection through Karl. He was hearing that voice. A voice he recognized or somewhat recognized. "It is impossible," though nothing was impossible and he knew that. "The Witch, I put her into a vortex, she was dead." But if that was her voice, Keary DeVessa had taken on another form and didn't cross over into hell where she belonged. It had him frowning.

Leo certainly would know the clearing of a throat as Thalan materialized just outside their little perimeter leaning on his staff. He didn't wear any hat as his head was slightly balding but his hair was long in white, and his features old as dirt. Eyebrows were bushy with a few sliver spikes sticking out from the mat of white. Eyes were sky blue as he muttered something under his breath. He looked old, he was old but he was far older than even his old looks. "I hope you don't mind the intrusion." His voice sounded as old as he looked too, like it came from some tunnel leading back to ancient times. He addressed Karl but he was looking over the new knights under Leoric then upon the four horsemen. Instead of moving directly, he took a path that brought him by Sir Vincent deBeauvais and of course managed to tap his leg as he passed. Same on Lazare, Dana and Trevor. "I see you still have your men," with something that sounded like a chuckle. "I wont intrude long," Thalan rarely stayed long. The robe he wore, yanked over the boots of the last so it didn't get snagged. "The Witch is not dead, nor is she alive either. She has embodied herself into an abomination. You thought she'd been destroyed but she needs to be destroyed by both as one, then she will not be able to return." This was addressed to Leoric for although Gaidan had been present the last time, it was only the one twin that had taken care of the Witch.

Vincent wasn't sure at first who this older man was but there was something about him that had him bowing his head in respect as the one moved towards Karl and Leo. Was he the elusive wizard he heard about? He kept to his silence for now, listening, watching.

Thane blinked at the sudden appearance of the old man, as if he had come out of nowhere... and though he did not know the gentleman, he seemed one who deserved a measure of respect. His brows furrowed as the old man spoke, sharing that the Witch still existed even if she did not 'live'. That was bad news and he swung his glance around to the others, knowing that none of them wanted what had happened before to happen again.


The appearance of the elderly man startled Simon just as it had the others but since both Kings and the Horsemen remained as if all was perfectly normal, he didn't react. He met Thane's look briefly before attention was on the wizard again.

Karl shifted a gaze to the Wizard as he approached, offering a nod of greeting and respect. He didn't stand, although he started to, but did sit up from his previous lean forward. He watched, and listened, bringing steepled fingers to rest against his lips as he considered the words. As he lowered them away, he spoke. "Your presence is most welcomed and appreciated, My Lord Thalan."

de Beauvais rose from his chair after the man passed with that touch, moving toward the area where refreshment could be had. He poured a tall glass of water, cool and crystal clear, and returned to offer it over to the wizard. A cant of head served as a bow to the wise one before he returned to take his seat. The Dragon was not without some knowledge of this particular elder, nor were any of the King's men. "It obviously will take more than a witch's wiles to see to the end of us, My Lord." Vincent growled, lowering back to his seat and falling silent once again for Thalan and Leoric to discuss what course must now be taken to see to the end of that witch instead.

Leoric stood. Thalan had played a big part in his life and of his brother since they were born. "Then we shall have to face her together to end this once and for all even if I had wanted to avoid getting Gaidan involved with Corina being with child." They would just have to succeed. "She is no longer human, but did the swords of Heathfield hold against these creatures?" Knowing these creatures were more than spirit alone and not human either. The last question was addressed more towards Karl and the three of his horsemen who dealt with the beasts in that altered world. "Is there anything of your wisdom that can help us in dealing with, no, not just dealing with but conquering these things as well the Witch?" The final question presently addressed up on Thalan as he turned his focus there. Hoping it wasn't too cryptic this time around.

"Thank you lad," he was probably the only one that could call Vincent a lad and address Karl as one as well. For certainly in age, they were lads to him. Good lads. Taking the glass of water, "your deeds have been rewarded once more, a son comes when the earth is warmed by summer again." Probably lucky he had taken the glass before he gave Vincent that news. He was back to Leoric. "The old wise woman that told you of Niall, seek her out, she knows the secrets of the beasts." It wasn't going to be easy for them to find her and the secrets would only tip things their way but not win the battle for them. He finished his water before setting the glass aside and a last look upon Karl, "I will visit Honeee soon." Being she was like a daughter to him, he had raised her and her sister and would pay them a visit while .. about the lands .. as he obviously was. As he came, so he left. That would be all the information he had for Leoric, his brother and Karl or the others.

Trevor made a motion of favored respect of the wizard in his own silent way. When he started to leave, he rose to his feet until he was gone, then took his seat again. A brow lifted as he shot a glance to Vincent with the last and mumbled, "you waste no time," obviously a result of his return.

Karl stood as Thalan spoke to him, a smile forming for the promise, even though it faded beneath the weight of the situation being addressed. His men stood out of respect as well, Carno pitching to the side to thump Vincent with a fist to his comrade's shoulder. Old devil dog! Homecomings were obviously productive for married men. No doubt all three of the Dragon's brothers-in-arms were enjoying that particular bit of news even as Vincent pondered the realization of what the wizard had shared with him. As Karl sat back down, so did his men, three probably still grinning, one blinking past the surprise. "The swords do hold against the beasts, Leoric." Karl started, pulling his gaze from the stunned de Beauvais back to Kildare. "They can be slain, but their numbers are great and their cunning, stealth and power even greater. It will not be an easy battle. You will seek out this old woman? It is the witch, it seems, more so than the beasts that must be conquered in the end. We know what to expect with the monsters...not so much your nemesis.  Her manner of torture, if captured, is not just of the body, but of the soul."

"Aye, I will seek out the Old Woman. Any help to get us past the beasts without much bloodshed will be a godsend. If we get to her and dispense of her once in for all, then these beasts will fall too." He knew well, now that the culprit has been revealed, what she wanted to do with both he and his brother. Of anyone else she could get her hands on. "This will be a dangerous mission," turning to his men. "I will not force any of you to go, it will be on volunteer with nothing against you if you do not want to go up against something inhuman." Otherwise he would expect it of them as his knights.

Vinnie was probably the first to speak up as he stood, fisting a hand against his chest, "count me in." He gave his oath, didn't exclude facing the unknown.

Simon stood, mirroring the actions of his comrade. "I swore an oath to serve. There was nothing said about not taking part when things got hard. I'm in."

All the men stood as the first. Karl looked to his men, they having just faced off against the likes of these beasts, the tortures of the witch. That look spoke more than words. He, unlike Leoric, would expect their participation, although he knew all four would be at Leoric's side as would Karl without that expectation. It was Carno who spoke up. "Can't very well let the likes of these blokes to go off into the unknown alone to have all the fun, eh?" He tested a shoulder as he shot a look to Dana. "You able to hop about enough there ballerina to dance a round or two with those beasties again, Tinkerbell?" If looks could kill, Dana just practiced that tactic on Lazare. "I could dance circles around the likes of you to be sure, Leadfoot. No matter the form of dance." Dana looked to Leoric. "There are none in this room, My Lord, that will not fight or die for you and yours." He was the son of the Queen, and they had all four taken a vow to Honeee. Hell, five, since Karl had once taken that vow as well prior to the vow of husband.

There was a difference, because Leoric knew that unlike the four horsemen, his three knights didn't have any extraordinary, supernatural talents other than good warriors. He didn't expect it of Karl nor his men but certainly pleased for it meant the chances of success just bolted higher. "My men can learn a great deal from you." One thing on the practice field and a whole other learning experience on a real battle field. One without rules or where a practice field could prepare you completely. He gave a nod to the four and Karl. "I am honored. I leave tomorrow to find the Old Woman first, if you wish to join me then or in a couple days?" That was up to them.

Vincent still stood, "I will be honored to serve alongside each of you and to learn more by doing so." He didn't plan to die but if he died in battle then he died a hero's death.

"I heard about that step, Dana, I'd sure like to see it." Which he was just out of reach too as he spoke up. "Can't very well go without me this time around." He was the youngest and had been ordered to stay in guarding the queen when they had left before. Of course this meant that the guarding of the Queen would fall on the other knights still in the kingdom and the Royal Guard.

Simon smiled when he heard the banter between the King's men. Even though the dangers were great, they could still face them with humor. He nodded agreement to Vinnie's words. Nothing else really needed to be said.

Thane had stood as the others did, without hesitation or reluctance. A fisted hand went to his heart, not a word spoken, but his nod and steadfast gaze was his pledge.

"Seek her out, let us know what is needed. We shall stay to prepare. I shall need to Honeee." He drew in a deep breath. She would support the need for action, he just regretted the concern that would come with that need. It was the way of the warrior and his wife. Vincent bowed his head to Karl and took a step away from his chair. In silence he offered each of the men in the room a look, a nod, then with Karl's silent permission by way of a return nod to depart, Vincent did just that. There were plans to be made, preparations that would begin tonight, in more ways than just battle. Karl watched Vincent leave, then offered a dip of shoulders to Leoric. "Gentlemen." So it shall come to pass....let it begin.



Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Bannon Zimmer
Post # 7

The Squire


That had been an interesting meeting as Trevor managed to get Vincent aside to join him in the pub of the castle before they got some sleep. "I wonder if Julia knows." Most likely not or she would have told him. Julia might well be in for a surprise herself, let Vincent explain that one to her. Yes, he was smirking! Burt was busy at the bar, much like Alex but Burt looked like some kind of prize fighter. "Potcheen tonight my good man," which was quickly being set out. "Karl will have a few knightings once we are done in Kildare."

Trevor's pondering caused Vincent to glance to the ceiling, as if he could see through the many layers up to the personal suites above. He knew of what his comrade spoke, but answered quite the opposite. "She knows there is trouble in Kildare, but not that we will set out again to deal with it so soon." His dark gaze settled on Trevor. The discussion of a son would not be brought up again tonight, not even with Julia. It was not for the father to know before the mother that a child was expected. At least in Vincent's opinion. He would allow his wife the joy of telling him when the time came. He wouldn't even let it enter his mind that any of them any not return this time, having all made it safely returned the first. He thanked Burt for the tankard of ale that was placed before him without the need to ask by a light tap of fingers on the polished wood of bar counter and a nod. "I'm concerned that Dana's leg may not yet be healed enough to fight." Here was quiet a moment, tilting his tankard to look to the liquid within it. "But I suppose we shall see."

He would catch that fleeting look of sympathy, knowing well he, himself, would have to address his son about going away to Kildare to help out when the precocious lad knew his father faced real dangers. He had heard rumors for he got interested in them for some reason. Perception? "I wonder if Karl will be able to convince Honeee.." slanting a look Vincent's way before kicking back the shot of potcheen. He figured he would but not easily. He could be wrong too when it came to women.

Vincent grunted, almost smiling at the thought of that discussion. "By the way, Cairns..." He returned that look to Trevor. "Thanks for the moss treatment. It's healing worked both body and spirit. Julia was amused. As was I...slightly."

"Oh, you're welcome. Glad to be of service, any time I can repeat it for you as needed." Which had a wider grin surface as he refilled their glasses.

Bannon hadn't allowed himself to think much about their little excursion during the day though he had talked about it for a little while with Kieran. He had finished his training, done the extra chores that were required since the prank on the water beastie, and gone to the lake just to do a little fishing. On his return, some of the lads were in the commons and he spent time talking to them. Chilled from the colder night air, he headed back to the castle and the pub there.
And lookie there! Sir Vincent and Sir Trevor were enjoying a drink. He paused to salute them both with a fisted hand to his chest. "Evening, sirs."

Vincent turned fully to greet Bannon, leaving his tankard behind. He would only have the one tankard, it was his standard, even though the evening and the upcoming excursion called for a second. It was better just to stick to his routine, since he'd be speaking with Julia shortly about his impending departure. "Come join us Zimmer." Vincent waved the nearly-knighted over. He'd soon be ranked alongside those who trained him, might as well share a drink with the two.

"Evening Squire Bannon," somewhat formal and yet not really. Smile there was genuine as he liked the lad that once was his squire for a short duration. He looked between the two with a slight nod, if they needed to talk privately or not. "How did the excursion to Ashford Island go?" Yes, he knew about it, everyone did.

Vincent watched Bannon following Trevor's question with that dark gaze that read so much and revealed so little.

He was going to have a tankard of ale before bed. The invitation was accepted gratefully though he winced slightly at the question. There was a slight bruise on his cheek from where he had ran into the door of the closet but that was the only souvenir of his visit. "It was ... We went into the manor and it seemed to be haunted. With real monsters." No point in stumbling about with the story. It had been decided to tell so that the manor could be looked at. "We didn't stay all night." And after a pause, as he sat, he added, "we decided it was too dangerous."

These two King's men were not strangers to 'real' monsters. Vincent's brows drew into a frown. "So you picked your battle, deciding retreat better served the whole?" He shot a look to Trevor, with all that Honeee was going to have to deal with tonight, information about monsters and hauntings on Ashford was probably left for another day if she didn't know of it already. If so, Karl's news would be the bitter icing on the cake. Oh so glad not to be the Black Griffon tonight for more reasons than one.

He was concerned, brows furrowing almost in unison with Vincent's. Except Vincent was scarier looking than Trevor. "The Princess, Rina, she was there was she not? Did you protect her and is she all right?"

"I was in a closet with one." He gave Vincent a sheepish look, "and retreated from there. Went back in with Evan Hunt to make sure everyone was out. Kieran went back in after Concessa Quinn." He looked at Trevor, his face lighting up. "The Princess flew up into the air to have a look and she fought something there. I couldn't do much for her but she drove it off." He didn't mention the scratches yet. "Mistress McCormick and Master Hunt made the real decision to go." Not that any of them argued. "The Princess is real brave, Sir Trevor. All of us were I think. Even Tamara McDonough didn't really cry. Sure can scream though." Oops. He was going on and on and took a drink to shut himself up.

The tale on the princess had a brow lifting, Honeee and Karl where going to have one hell of a week. "She fought something in the air, did she get hurt at all? Was her brother there?" At least he could fly as well. "I'm pleased to know that the chaperones had the sense to get you all out of there. I'm sure there will be an investigation as to what went on." Someone could have played an elaborate prank on the whole group.

Vincent waited to hear the answers to Trevor's question before he barked out his own...only one...but it brewed inside him even now.

"She had some pretty nasty scratches on her arms but they were taken care of, Sir." He shook his head at mention of the Prince. "No sir. I'm not sure why he couldn't come. I believe he had duties that kept him away."

"Karl had him in the armory, preparing to start training for the jousting field." Vincent offered in a deep rumble as he eyed his squire. "What the hell were you doing in a closet?" And the answer better not be hiding! But dang if Vincent could think of another reason the young man would be in there besides one, and that answer wouldn't sit well with de Beauvais either!

Erk. He looked at Vincent and swallowed hard before answering. "We were playing pranks, Sir. I was in a costume and was waiting for the girls to come by. Then I was going to jump out at them. Instead, I heard a low growl and turned. There were glowing eyes, higher than me and it smelled like the sewers so I pulled my knife, backed out and slammed the door. Didn't keep it in there too long but it backed off, ran away. Not sure if it was the knife or Master Hunt or something else that scared it off."  And he had gone back in because he didn't want Vincent to chew him out for running.

A flicker of dark gaze touched on Trevor with the young man's answer, but for the most part, he seemed never to take his gaze from Bannon. "Ahhh, I see, so you have nothing better to do with your time than to cower in closets to frighten females. Because doing that...would have been so gratifying." If the reality of creatures haunting Ashford wasn't so ominous, it would have been just rewards for Bannon to have to face off against a menace. Was Vincent ever a young man, eager to play pranks and have fun? One could wonder. "Good that you all made it out safely." And the warrior hadn't missed the fact that Bannon had re-entered the fray to help out those still within. Noted. Though not yet mentioned.

Trevor caught that flicker and tried his hardest to keep a straight face, which he could manage. Years of practice. "If I may have a word with you, Vincent." Which would have Bannon sweating as he stepped away with the intent of speaking low with his comrade on a suggestion.

He could have said the others did too but he didn't, though he straightened his shoulders. Cowering? He hadn't cowered. Lurked but cowered? Never!

Vincent held up a finger to Bannon, a wait-right-here sort of command as he stepped aside, dipping his head to the side to listen to what Trevor had to share.

He looked over Vincent's shoulder upon Bannon every so often for that kind of effect. Bannon would not hear the low words other than a low rumbling. Rumble. Rumble. "Considering all our young squire had to say on this outing. Considering we will be headed for Kildare soon and to keep him from getting idle. Perhaps an assignment in guarding would be just the thing, of the Princess Rina being that he could not while danger lurked in Ashford manor." It was a bit wicked considering they both knew how headstrong the young princess was. How daring, going where many lads cowered to go. It might prove interesting.

When Trevor finished his suggestion, Vincent dipped his head in thought. A snort of decision followed and he returned to the waiting Bannon. Vincent reached up and rubbed the back of his neck, the stress that was building there could use a feminine touch. He cut a look to Bannon, dropping his hand to his side again. "Seems since you have idle time to think of pranks for unsuspecting females you may need a bit more responsibility to keep you true to your upcoming vows, Bannon. What say you? How do you feel about more responsibility rather than play?" Vincent had come to know this particular 'Mouse' well during their time together, and vice versa, so both knew how Bannon would answer. Vincent just waited for the lad to jump in with both feet.

Trevor returned to the bar where Vincent addressed Bannon. Taking up a lean there with the last of his drink as he watched the young squire in how he responded.

That wasn't quite what he expected and he had heard a few of the younger guards grumbling about trying to keep up with the Princess. His mouth dropped open briefly but he snapped it shut. There wouldn't be much point in protesting. ""Of course, Sir Vincent, I'll do as you say.

Vincent nodded to the appropriate response. "Aye then, it will soon be known that the Four of us." He motioned with his head toward Trevor. "And the King will soon be departing with Leoric and his men for Kildare. Doing so will place the Queen without someone to watch after her." He studied Bannon's expression and almost ... almost! ... smiled with what he caught there. "As well as the Princess Rina." He added before the lad could get too excited. "Good luck with that, Zimmer." He started forward, patting Bannon on the shoulder as he passed him. "The princess is not the easiest to keep up with, nor the most appreciative of those assigned to guard her well being." He glanced to Trevor with a wink of thanks and continued to the door, without Bannon actually seeing the twitch at the corners of his lips. He paused by the door, but didn't turn. "Oh, and be sure to let her know that you and you alone are responsible for her welfare."

"You may wish to employ the help of her brother." So he would offer some suggestions that he might complete his assignment.  "Good luck with your assignment, Squire Bannon," as if using that title for as long as he could until it was to change. There would be challenges all around this way, good way to keep them all busy. Slight dip of his head and if Bannon caught any glint of amusement it was brief in dark eyes as he headed out. He had a son to see tucked in his bed with a story to tell. He had a good one now.

He pressed his lips together, to keep from reacting. That wasn't what he expected and he had heard her guards grumbling about her. "Yes sir." Why hadn't the lady knights been assigned to her. And if Kieran got to go to Kildare, while Bannon was stuck watching the princess, he would owe Bannon big time. Right now it didn't matter how pretty the princess was... he was not happy. The tankard, still nearly full, was carried over to the bar and he headed back to the barracks. Somehow he didn't think the princess was going to be happy about it either. Especially if she knew he asked her brother for help. Stupid Ashford monsters had caused far more trouble than he thought possible.

Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Lahoneee
Post # 8

Troubled Times


Karl did not go into public at Honeee's insistence until he was completely healed. She felt that is was not a good idea for the People to see him wounded, crippled up as he'd been for a while of a type that would fade away given some time. A couple of months was not asking for much and his horsemen helped with the therapy in swordsmanship. It had been probably the first time that any one of them could have won a match but not one of them took advantage of Karl von Rundstedt during his healing. This night there was a meeting as the months had passed and Karl as good as new. He would be seen as the old 'fit' Karl everyone knew. Certainly the news of him being wounded badly had spread over the lands like a brush fire gone wild. So when they got to see him, they saw the healthy Karl as cheers went up when he showed his face on the king's field. The nights were getting colder as she paced in front of the hearth in the antechamber of their suite of rooms. Night attire worn of white satin trimmed in bronze embroidery. Hair flowing loose picked up the light from the fire to glow off golden strands within honey brown. She stopped to listen for footsteps. She'd been visited by Thalan already who had already done some groundwork for Karl in reassuring her of what was to come.

Once Karl had left the meeting, his return to Honeee in their bed chamber was delayed only long enough to collect some grapes in a bowl. He munched on a few of them while he walked, took a deep breath outside the chamber door, and then pressed inward. And there she was, pacing before the fire. The firelight was the perfect backdrop, illuminating hair and skin, causing the sleek material of her attire to practically disappear, revealing the silhouette of her form. "My Queen." He stated, continuing toward her and in the process placing the bowl of fruit on a table he passed. Though seeing her had softened his features, grim reality still marred his brow, the corners of his lips.

The light wringing of her hands ceased when she turned complete as Karl entered their chambers. "My King," affection softened her words when speaking with him. Although he might notice that strained edge of tenseness. A few silent soft steps taken to meet him as he approached, laying a hand upon his chest over his heart. The draw of ocean blue eyes there a moment before lifting, delving into the deeper blue of his eyes. Never too far, only how far allowed. There had always been that respect. She cut to the quick too for there were only so many hours ahead of them that most would be demanded of in sleep. "How did the meeting go?" If Thalan told her anything, she wanted to hear his side no matter.

His hand lifted to cover hers, pressing her hand to his heart as their eyes met and held. "As we suspected, Honeee. Considering the severity of the threat in Kildare, we have but one course of action." His grip tightened against her touch, as if holding her there would keep her with him for the time he was gone. "Leoric is to speak with the wise woman who may know more of the witch, and then we shall leave." His other hand lifted, stroking fingers along the shape of her face, then cupping to hold the soft curve of her jaw.

Eyes had held until lowered so he didn't see the edge of fear in them. She thought she had lost him for good once already. The chance of losing him again caused her words to get caught in her throat not being able to get past the what felt like an obstacle there. His touch soothing while tears moistened the length of lashes that didn't fall as she stepped closer to rest her head against his chest. The sound of his heartbeat giving her strength as she knew he was alive and well in this moment, here in his arms, safe and sound. "You plan to go with your men? Face that which had nearly killed you." The first coming as a question but the second as a statement with the confirmation of knowing.

Fingers laced through the silky smooth length of her hair and he held her to his chest. Because he knew, she knew, the answer to her own question, he nodded, even though she wouldn't see. He caressed the silky strands in the momentary silence which followed. "I shall lead the Four, Honeee." He leaned back, so that her head would come up, her face would lift, he could see her eyes. "Which will leave other knights to Heathfield's safety." Meaning her. "Are there any you particularly favor for the task?" The King of Heathfield had changed the subject of his going as smoothly as he could. Knowing his wife would fear for him until his return. Knowing there was no other way but to join his men, Leoric and his men, in this battle. Karl and the Four had faced off against these beasts, the witch, and survived. There was some wisdom in that which must be used to defeat them.

She couldn't help the race of her heart or knowing he'd see the fear in her eyes for him, for her sons and for any that went with them. Eyes lifting to his raw with these emotions as if she stood naked before him. Her trust in him would never waver no matter how much she hated the situation. "Do you need anyone more than the four?" There was the slight twitch of a smile curling at the edge of her lips for humor found its way in the oddest of moments. "I see the treachery parted bringing my sons to the core, parting as they meet that which Thalan had predicted of them long ago and had only been partially done. The one that wield the sword would wield much more and the one that wield much more would wield the sword. It completes the Crown of Kildare in its strength to endure the years." Karl might notice that Honeee was looking into the undetermined future in the cryptic way of the prophets before her eyes focused back again still held to his.

"There will be few, but plenty enough to see the battle won, My Love." Seeing the fear in her eyes nearly was his undoing. He managed a smile of reassurance for her. "My Four, and Leoric will be bringing men, perhaps Gaidan as well, that is not known as yet. The force will be small, but we will not be unprepared." There was no denying the sheer magnitude of the war which would be fought against evil creatures and the undead. Nor could it be denied that Karl was but a mere mortal, as were Leo's men. But Heathfield and Kildare's forces were at the advantage since the enemy to them was known. The opposing force had yet to meet up with the Four together much less the extra expertise of the knights of Kildare. "I had thought to speak with Peter. Perhaps enlist a couple of his knights as well. Gabriel would be useful in the air. I don't see O'Neill denying my request, I'm just not sure I wish to involve any more lives in the outcome of this." Honeee was not unaware of the dangers, and Karl, though mentally confident in his men and in Leo's, couldn't guarantee any of them would survive. He tucked away the information she had shared in order to share it with Leo but said no more on it.

"Your friendship runs deep with Peter, a brother in arms and in heart. I don't see him denying you anything you need that he can give. His knights loyal to him as your four are to you will do without question what is requested. It may be wise not to bring in a army but there are many creatures as you said before, that is why you with only three of your horsemen were overcome. You need enough of varying skills. The Witch is probably hoping you bring an army that would only end up getting in your way in getting to her. She fears you, she fears my sons. I can feel that much where she is concern. That is her weakness."

Karl listened as Honeee worked through the process aloud, allowing her that time to reassure herself in some small way that all would turn out well. "She had used our fears against us, and now the same shall be her demise. De Vimeure assures me his wounds are healed enough to fight and he will not be a detriment to the battle. We need him in his best form. The stage is set, Honeee. We need but gather the players and see the scene completed once and for all." He paused, looking past her to the door which remained closed leading to the other rooms of their grand castle suite. "The children are asleep?" It was late, but at times they managed to trick their nannies and remained secretly awake. Dark blue eyes touched once more on her features, and the reason for his asking became evident in the heat of his gaze. Nights for them would be few until he left for this battle.

"Much lies in Leoric and Gaidan once you get them to face the Witch." If she could get them all killed before they reached her, she was going to do everything in her power. "Be certain on Dana," she knew the horseman would undermine his healing even if close to being completely healed. "If he is not, send him to Andrew first." Then it would be certain he was. Andrew had a hand in Karl's healing so she knew he was, he'd been the worse and obvious. She saw that look and almost lost all thought. "Yes, they are sound asleep but with promises that their father would spend breakfast with them." Knowing he had to be on the field but perhaps tomorrow it would a little later for his arrival. Peter could be seen by any there as needed for he was in the lands. He had come in case he was needed. Which implied he might fight by his Karl's side like old times along with his men. "Tomorrow, there is another matter. Solarina needs to speak with you, us, at some point." Which Honeee would be present as it was a matter to be discussed with them both. She, already knowing of what it was about.

A smile twitched at the corners of his eyes. "I've no doubt the Three will test him sufficiently in the next few days. If he is not, then I will speak with Andrew." Breakfast would be much enjoyed it seemed, and the King of Heathfield would be as late for training as the morning demanded of him. There were always matters to be attended to, matters of importance, and this was one of the most important a man could have. Whether Peter and his men joined the forces would be Leoric's choice to make, Karl could only ask Peter if his might would be available for the battle. True, Leo had not asked Karl and his men to help, but the Black Griffon had always been a force to be reckoned with, and it had not even occurred to the King of Heathfield that he and his men would not be a part of it. It was just the way of this man and the Four who served him so closely. "Solarina?" That came as a surprise, but even as dark brows raised with the unexpected request, they lowered into a frown. It was not like the young princess to ask to speak with Karl. Honeeee, yes. But Karl with her? There was more trouble brewing, it was just a matter of finding out what that trouble was now. "Perhaps after breakfast then, before the day begins with the preparations of departure."

"As they say, sometimes when it rains, it pours. Tomorrow at that time would do well. However, there is nothing more to do on either fronts tonight. There is, however, another matter that needs your attention." He would know that seductive look full of promises as her hand fell to slide her fingers to intertwine with his. "If you will come into my office," which was really their bed chambers leading from the antechamber.

The man chuckled low, almost a wicked sound as it rumbled up from deep in his chest. "Indeed, and I've delayed in the undertaking much too long." He lingered only long enough to let their arms stretch, and he could watch the view of seductive mistress from behind. He sucked in a quick breath, his body reacting to even the sight of her, the thought of her. "I will remain in your office, My Queen, for as long as my services are required." Or at least, until the hour that the new day demanded they both slip out of the roles of passionate lovers and back into the titles of Queen and King.

Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Vincent deBeauvais
Post # 9

The Dragon and The Maiden


Meanwhile, in another wing of the castle, another waited patiently for her husband to return from the meeting. Unaware he had stopped off for a drink too with his comrade. When Julia became impatient, she fiddled with her hats, fixing them this way and that, rearrange the feathers on some, or the bands of ribbons on others. This was a night she sat on their bed surrounded by at least twenty she kept rearrange while waiting.

Having left Bannon to prepare for his upcoming assignment and Trevor to prepare for their upcoming departure, Vincent paused at the door of their bedroom to prepare for the 'discussion' to follow. Julia Traugott de Beauvais was no simpering female to take the upcoming news with wifely acceptance, what he said went. No. There would be a discussion to be sure, and perhaps that was what drew the Dragon to the Maiden in the first place. He cleared his throat and entered, there to find her encased in hat-hell! Not a spare section of bed to be seen. And that, my dear readers, was a sure sign the night may be long indeed. Julia's impatience took the form of hat arranging, and with so many hats to fiddle with, there could be no doubting her current state of distress. "Well, quite the array, My Lady Wife, and with only one lovely head to don them. How do you ever choose?" He crossed over to her, gently and with great care sliding a few out of his way so he could sit next to her on the bed. He stroked the wisp of a feather, not yet looking back to her. He thought he had arranged his words perfectly as he made his way to their room, but now seeing her, the gruff and Vincent-like fire to just tell her how it was with determination, fizzled down to uncertainty with just how to relay his message.

Her fiddling ceased as she tossed the hat aside with the clearing of the Dragon's throat. Guileless blue eyes lifting that he knew could be so defiant too, to meet his. There was a pause, for the look upon his face, the impending battle that automatically had all her armor up. This was the challenge, always had been and what fed them both emotionally into a powerful relationship. Many of the hats were new, ones her brothers had bought her to soothe when she was missing her partner of heart and even the heated discussions that always ensure with one such as a Dragon. "They please you then, dear Husband," teasing smile appeased some of the uptightness as she was up to collect most back to their boxes. Except he was over to move some out of the way instead. "It is easy, one just matches up the bow with the color of her attire." Which she had as many dresses too. Her words were soft as she gave a gentle reminder before any onslaught. "The girls are asleep so we mind the volume of our voices." If anyone came close to taming the two, it was their daughters.

There was a grunt to her initial comment, perhaps Vincent's form of a laugh, as he tugged at an earlobe and slanted a look her way with the cant of his head. "If they please you, Julia, I can say no more." He cast a quick look to their bedroom door with the mention of their daughters and fought the need to glance to her midsection, knowing more than he should at this point about her present condition. The intensity of his gaze found hers once again. "Will do." At least, for the moment, their voices would remain lowered. My dear, there is something I need to discuss with you. It doesn't come easy for me to have to tell you, because I know how this news will cause you grief. Nope. Not that. It was the intention to ease into the discussion. But ... when he opened his mouth, Vincent de Beauvais regressed to the man of few words. The necessary ones. "I leave in a few days for Kildare, with Karl and Kildare's men."

It didn't need to be stated of the obvious, that she liked her hats. Something she could blame on her mother for overindulging after their release from the dungeons in Luneberg. Marie had made up for all the time lost. Julia especially missed the way her mother always needed to comb her hair and fix it this way or that as the mood struck her. It was that sharing and deep rooted love. Their little Marie looked so much like her. The words so blunt, not that such shocked her anymore, had her blink. Blink. And blink again. Few words but not as few as it could have been and her reply put his few words to shame, "why?"

Why? Did she just ask why? He turned, his leg coming up to bend against the mattress though his other foot remained planted to the floor. He could have replied with a simple 'because' and it was there, on the tip of his tongue, but the warrior actually swallowed it down, and fought to choose his words a bit more carefully. And quite the battle it was! "I am needed." Alright, perhaps not quite as short as his previously considered response, but to him, it stated the facts in a more gentle way. Sure. Right! And, he was keeping his voice lowered to an acceptable rumble.

Julia learned a new tactic. Never too old or set in her way not to. With his leg jutted out that way and she still standing, she took advantage as she slipped to sit there. One hand coming to rest on a broad shoulder while the other hand lifted to run her fingers through his hair in a combing fashion. Fiddling there instead. "Why?" Simple response again to wring out more information that was not readily given. It was as if they had to go through this process for it was painful for the Dragon to talk too much all at one time.

As Julia settled in so comfortably, Vincent leaned back against the headboard of the bed, resting the heat of his hand against her hip. Had he doubted he heard her correctly the first time, he couldn't dismiss the second time she asked the same thing. Tricky female changed strategies on him. AND he had fallen into the trap of it. Although, he would admit it was a nice trap to be in he struggled to counter her switch in tactics. "Julia, the King needs the Four of us. He goes as well. The creatures there are powerful and difficult to defeat. We failed the first time to conquer them without our force in tact. We can't afford to fail again." He stroked along the curve of her side, the sway of her hip and back up again, he, himself was not without the ability to maneuver effectively with a new form of attack. "It shall be the Four and the King, as well as Kildare and his men." And there she had it.

Her sigh was so soft he may not have heard it. Her fingers stilling in his hair that moment showing his words sunk in. She knew that his part as a Horseman, his part with his king didn't undermine what they had and it was just as important. She had never heard the word fail fall from his lips before. She knew in her heart he welcomed this chance to make good what had not been in the first encounter. He had opened up at least in telling her what she needed to know even if that telling would strike fear in her heart, rightfully so. "I have but one request of you." Like he needed one more request after what was already requested of him. Eyes were intense in a darker blue, her love shinning through as well her deep concern. Sitting like that also put her on equal height so she looked him directly in the eyes instead up having to look up. His touch wasn't going unnoticed through she tried to hold her ground.

There was little about Julia that slipped Vincent's notice. Her sighs were always something he was attuned to. This particular sigh was no different, no matter how softly breathed. The change in her gaze caused his muscles to tense and not at all in bad ways. "And that would be?" He would deny her nothing within his power to promise her.

"That you come back alive and bring the other four with you," which included their King. Like he was the one that could over all the other three horsemen. Their King foremost in being brought back alive. He had to know what he meant to her, he was her breath of life and one scare was enough that near took him from her. "Wipe out those creatures that they cannot harm another again. That they not be able to take husbands from their wives or men from their loved ones."

Ahh, so it was to be a small request, easily accomplished. And here he feared she'd make it difficult for him to give his word! He understood her intentions for the request and his features softened, as much as granite could soften, but for Julia, it could be so. He nodded, not speaking the oath, but committing himself to the successful completion of her plea to the very last of his breath. "I have no greater desire than to do just that, Lady de Beauvais." His dark gaze narrowed. "Hold. I do have a greater desire at present however." He shifted, his arm wrapping around her waist as he guided her down to the bed. "And a request as well..." Vincent actually smiled to her as he hovered above. Poor hats be damned, the King's man had just crumpled at least three with his actions. "Mind your tone, Wife, the girls are asleep." The serious warrior actually wagged his brows at the woman in his arms before he lowered his lips to hers.

Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Bannon Zimmer
Post # 10

To Tell the Princess


It would have been hard to pass up the treats with the tea so they feasted for a short bit then decided it would do good to get away from the castle for a while. Being able to fly made it even easier as they landed in the side garden then headed inside. "I was so afraid I would be in trouble for tending to the wound myself," even if she had done it all properly. Destination was the bar as she slid a glance to Tykir, "I bet you are allowed to have a drink of potcheen, being a man now and all." Which she knew Alex allowed a drink of ones from sixteen and up.

He wouldn't tell her he had already had a drink or two, or more of potcheen, just looked to her and smiled. "Yes, well, you did well, Sis. You impressed Karl and made Mother proud." Tykir walked with Rina to the bar with an uplift of hand in greeting for Alex. "I'll have whatever she has."

She smile sweetly as she pronounced her drink to Alex, "then he would like some peach punch."

Peach...punch? Ah well, he couldn't take it back now. He just curled up a lip to Alex without Rina seeing and took a seat at the bar.

Bannon had been unusually quiet during the day as he tried to figure out just how to go about approaching the Princess about 'his' punishment. He also couldn't help wonder what the King and Queen would think about it just a little but Rina's reaction was a much, much bigger concern. So, when he walked into the Thistle and saw both in there, he nearly walked back out. Then he thought about Vincent. In he went, hanging up his cloak and then shoving his hands into his pockets as he headed for the bar. Tonight it was potcheen he'd be having.

The amused look in Alex's eyes was priceless as he set out two fancy glasses of peach punch. Those fluted kinds that have delicate stems and the top like a small bowl. "I'm sure you can handle this drink, Tykir." Giving him an amused wink as she took up the one glass, leaving the other for him.

Tykir looked to the opening door, then away, then immediately back again. "Bannon!" He called, his smile adding to the greeting. He could handle the drink, he just wasn't sure he could handle the ribbing if anyone he knew came in to see him with it.  He didn't hold his stemmed glass as delicately as his sister, but a fisted grip covered the thin glass as he brought the glass to his lips. He could smell the peach even before the rim touched his mouth beneath his nose. Not a good omen.

"Evening, Tykir." He grinned at the Prince, then turned to Rina and bowed slightly. "Evening, Rina." Just a touch softer. He knew it was all right to call them by first names here in the Thistle but it still felt funny. And what was Tykir drinking? He tried not to stare or laugh. Yeah, that peach smell was strong.

Radar detecting, she'd been so amused with Tykir drinking peach punch from a fancy glass she almost missed Bannon coming in. There was also the fact that her mind was still whirling from the meeting they just had.  "Hello Bannon, have you met my brother Tykir?" Then to Tykir, as an afterthought on something, "where do you think the King and his men are going that Andrew has to see to this development on Ashford Island?"

Sweeee-eee-eet! Whoa! Not too bad, but definitely sweet. He set the glass back on the bar counter, careful not to do it with excess force and shatter the dainty crystal. "Where do I think? Who can even guess. Some place dangerous to be sure, to take the whole of them." He looked to Alex, perhaps they could get information there. Second thought. No. That man wouldn't divulge Heathfield secrets under the most horrible of tortures, so he leaned to look past Rina to Bannon. "You know?"

"Aye, on the field." Lips twitching a bit because Tykir had called out his name and he had answered. Rina's mind was definitely elsewhere. He also knew where they were going but kept his mouth shut until Tykir asked. Glancing at Alex, he looked back at nodded. "Not sure I should say though." Then again, he hadn't been told he couldn't.

She also turned a look on Bannon to see if he knew and it seemed that he did. "Well, if you know then there is no reason for us not to know." Obviously it was more common knowledge than they thought and they'd find out sooner or later. They just had not thought to ask at the meeting for other matters. She was learning new tactics as she abandoned her drink and slipped away to come up close to Bannon and walking her fingers up his chest. Feathers twitched at her temples with the oh so sweet smile. Words too low for Alex to hear and for Tykir too unless he came closer too. "Tell or I will fly you outside and up high..." threat!

Since Bannon glanced to Alex, so did Tykir again, only to see the man shrug a shoulder. More so a twitch of muscle, a shooing of a fly sort of gesture. Good! He looked back to Bannon to find Rina finger walking up the fellow's chest! What the ... ? Good that Tykir couldn't hear or he'd make it clear she didn't have the strength of arms to haul Bannon up. Wings might be strong enough, but arms couldn't support the weight of a man yet. She was whispering to him as well? He jerked his head back with disbelief! What exactly happened on that island!

Common knowledge? He was Sir Vincent's squire. That's how he knew! He blinked as Rina came closer, turning red as he could possibly be. And then he backed up. "You'd drop me!" And then ... "I got in enough trouble with Sir Vincent for not protecting you." Even though he couldn't fly! And he promptly bumped into a chair, sending it into the table and blinking as it fell.

That waylaid the discussion a moment. "You got in trouble for not protecting her? How could you? She was ... well up there! And you are grounded. What sort of trouble?" Vincent de Beauvais intrigued Tykir. In an intimidating sort of way. When one got in trouble with him...what happened? He moved in closer, easing Rina's chair aside so he could. The other chair, the one that hit the floor was ignored. There were two matters of grave importance now on the playing field. Which one would Bannon take up and run with?

That had her blink. She never expected him to turn red nor get clumsy with her that close. "I bathed today," said with a bit of amusement as she watched him catch himself. The next had her floored. "What? What do you mean? You were suppose to protect me and right," whipping a glance to Tykir and back, "how could you? What happened?" Repeating the same question as her brother and stepping back away from him so he could regain his composure. That put her near her brother.

"Grounded? No, not grounded.  Well, partly for that. Mostly for hiding in the closet to scare the lasses." Not cower! "He thinks I have too much free time so ... I uh ... " This was not working out too well, was it? "I have to be your escort, uh, guard, while they're gone. And only myself responsible for you, unless Tykir wants to help." Wait. Was he supposed to tell her that last? He ran a hand through his hair, trying to brush his bangs out of his eyes. Too late to worry about what he had said. It was all out.

WhoahNellyTakeYourBellsOff! That was some major punishment in Tykir's opinion! Both of Tykir's hands lifted next to his chest with palms out, he wanted no part of that task! He knew his sister all too well, and could almost guess her next reaction. So, when he lowered one hand, he gripped a hold on the edge of her shirt without her knowing. "Speaking of gone..." Could he switch the conversation before Rina reacted? "Where are they going?" His fingers ached with the death grip he had on her clothing.

Sigh.  He couldn't get in any more trouble than he was as far as he was concerned. "Kildare."

"The five of them to Kildare? They just returned...and barely."

At first she thought he was talking to Tykir until the last part! It still didn't register for a few minutes as she looked between them all confused. "Escort to where?" Tykir was somehow involved in this as eyes narrowed on him. "What is the meaning of all this?"

"Ah, and Leoric and his men are going back as well." He looked at Rina again, and turned red. "I'm to be your guard and responsible for keeping you safe until ... I guess until Sir Vincent tells me otherwise. And no, Tykir isn't involved in this." He'd explain to the Prince tomorrow why he had said that. Mostly because Bannon couldn't fly! "They knew you don't like it, and I'd be kept busy trying to follow you the whole time." He wanted to sulk ... all of it had come about just because he wanted to have a little fun.

"Kildare?" Whipping a look back to Bannon. "I'm going to Kildare to stay with the Regent's wife." And Tykir wanted to come! She would have to catch up with her brother. She waved her hand, "I don't need a guard and you'll only be bored." Right.

"Does the King and Queen know you're going?" He frowned with the last. "No, you don't understand, Princess. I've been ordered by Sir Vincent to be your guard. I don't have any choice."  And not even she could undermine Sir Vincent's orders, at least not where Bannon was concerned!

That's when her bottom lip puffed out some before her retort to that. "But you're too young to be my guard." He seemed young to her by his actions, maybe fifteen or sixteen. "They will know once my brother says it is fine for me to go."

Don't hate him Bannon, but he had the side of his fist pressed to his lips to keep from laughing out loud. Poor Bannon.  "Then I guess you'll be going to Kildare with us, Bannon." Tykir forced through his amusement. "And give the guy a break, Rina. De Beauvais is the one that thinks you need to be protected while they are away. I'm betting mother has one and all of the royal ... females. You just got lucky and Bannon was assigned to you!" He gave Bannon a nod. That should appease his sister ... not at all.

"I'm nearly nineteen." He answered Rina in a low voice then looked at Tykir. "The Order of Athena are supposed to be guards and escorts for the Queen and ladies of the court." Another reason he would have liked to sulk outwardly.  But that would probably get him into more trouble though, he was too good-natured not to grin at Tykir. "I guess I will be."

Dang it man! Tykir was trying to help. "Yes, but guards they will have." A sloooow nod, catch the point, Friend. Catch the point!

Ohhhh. "Aye, they will. Even more so now with all that's going on."

"Yes..." He rolled his hand in front of his chest. "So, what's going on, do you know that?"

"You are?" She said with a lot of disbelief in it but kind of looked him over in a new light. So he wasn't as young as she thought even if she felt, so far, he looked and acted it. She was, unfortunately, bluntly honest. "You need to practice that haughty stoic sour puss look like Sir Vincent has then."

He hadn't let go of his hold on Rina, and she still hadn't noticed.

She hadn't tried to move yet!

Exactly. Tykir's brows shot up and he looked from Bannon to Rina to Bannon. He was well aware of how respected de Beauvais was in the ranks of the men. "He has a lot of responsibility, Rina..." Still looking from one to the other, hoping his sister hadn't offended Bannon with that comment. She was a princess, true, and Bannon probably wouldn't comment inappropriately. Still. "And a lot of power. Might make a man rather sour in the puss. Lady Julia
doesn't seem to mind it much." Perhaps that was the way to go, all grumbly, grouchy, serious. The ladies seemed to like it well enough.

"Yes, but he has that look. So does Trevor and Dana, Lazare is the only one with the infectious goofy grin." Which she liked!

"He's not a sour puss, just very serious. You don't know him very well." He had seen the King's Man with Lady Julia and his daughters. He looked at Tykir then shook his head. "Not entirely. It's something to do with what happened I think." He knew it was dangerous for sure. "And like Tykir said, they have a lot of responsibility.  Maybe he was a touch offended.

Lazare could sit there passing wind and everyone would be laughing with him!

Yes, even the most haughty of ladies. Now that was talent.


"Oh, don't get me wrong. I have the highest respect for Sir Vincent and the others. They just know how to look like they do." So she may have been wording it badly.



Date: 10-31-10
Poster: Bannon Zimmer
Post # 11

Very slowly, very gently, Tykir was releasing his hold. She wasn't going to dart out of the room after all. "Even Karl gets that look when he's in the midst of something, ever notice?" And Tykir tried to mimic it, encouraging Rina to do the same with a wink of eye. His drew in his brow, he offered that single nod of head. The threat wasn't there though, a lethal aspect of the look was missing with Tykir's youth and inexperience. "Well, I, for one, would like to know what is going on in Kildare." Perhaps they would find out more once they arrived there.  "So..." Both hands free, he moved his fingers side to side, wiper style, between Rina and Bannon. "We're good here then?"

He couldn't help chuckling at the expression. "I think it takes years to learn too. " He thought about what Tykir had said though and decided to ask the other squires if they had heard. Especially Kieran since he was squire to Sir Trevor. "I guess so." He looked at the Princess who didn't seem like she was going to protest anymore.

At times, when Rina was quiet, was when a fella needed to be most cautious!

He didn't know that yet!

Ah, but Tykir knew, why he was keeping an eye on her while he waited for her answer.

She did, try to mimic it. The pretty line of her lips went straight instead, and she tried so hard it looked like maybe she was passing gas. Brows dipped, cheeks went pink as she looked at her brother like an over bloated frog about to explode. Of course at the very last moment she crossed her eyes before letting go of this 'face'.

Which, actually, caused Tykir to laugh out loud. "That looked like it hurt, Sis."

Wait. "How will we go to Kildare and take care of Ashford Island too?" If Leoric was leaving soon, that was their ticket to go. They had to go with him for otherwise it was unsafe. Rina was an escape artist, she need not try it when obvious.

Crapit! There was that. So he said what he thought. "Crapit." He'd have to think on that one.

"Take care of Ashford Island?" Somehow... he didn't like the sound of that!

"Yes, King Karl put Tykir in charge, under Andrew.." like that made sense!

"Oh yeah!" Tykir jumped on that conversation like a cricket! "Karl put us in charge of Ashford Island and tending to what is going on there." He slid a look to Rina. "Yes, okay, with Andrew."

"You sure he didn't have an idea you were planning to go to Kildare?" After all, he was the King.  If he knew, he might be trying to keep them busy.

She had to ruin the whole 'in charge' thing by adding that Andrew would also be involved. "Don't think it has been mentioned yet, actually. Right?" He looked again to Rina. "I mean, with all that has been going on. It's not really come up yet. Has it?"

That was crossing her mind! She stood there pondering.  "Only one I mentioned it to besides Tykir is Sir Thane. He didn't think they would allow me, didn't think I should go.." now wondering if he said anything to them but she doubted it. He was honorable.

These two rarely needed permission anyway. They tended to do and go as they pleased and dealt with the aftermath of the deeds when the fallout hit. "Not a big deal, pack a bag, seat a horse...and off you go." But now there was Ashford and Karl was expecting Tykir to take care of it. And so, that was the bottom line. Wait, actually, these two rarely sought permission anyway. That was more accurate for Solarina and Tykir Riktafir. Their place in the line of heirs gave them more freedom than those before them who had more responsibilities and those after them who were too young to do anything worth talking about! They were, for the most part, left to their own except for training.

"Do you know when they're leaving?" That would be the first thing to figure out. "And when did he say you had to take care of the island?"

"After Mother speaks with Andrew and Andrew decides who would best serve with us. I'm guessing the Force of Five! That would be extremely exciting!" Though fighting alongside his esteemed brother would be just as awe-inspiring for Tykir, perhaps even more! Tykir would have to stay in Heathfield until Ashford was cleared. He knew that. Kildare's adventures would be postponed for the likes of him.

"I don't think anyone said exactly when they are going other than they would be." They would find out that Leo would be leaving tomorrow to start the search for the old woman but Karl and his men would not be leaving until the information was gained and that could be a couple of weeks.

"So there might be time to fix the island before they leave." In any case, Bannon would be following Rina, or attempting to.

"Possible." A canted nod agreed with Bannon, good idea, that.

Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. He'd at least get to go to Kildare, and none of the other squires would.

Good thing the conversation was so attention riveting, Tykir hadn't had a need to reach for his drink until now. And even then, his fingers recoiled from possible contact, curling into his palm. Ah-nope. He'd pass. He chose to return his efforts to Bannon. "Just think, Man. If Rina manages to pull this off..." And this was Rina they were talking about, it was as good as done! "Then, you'll be the only squire in Kildare where all the action is!" Could Tykir read minds? Not really. But the two young men probably thought a little alike at times such as now. They could just talk about her as if she wasn't there...

"But, she doesn't know where they're going either. Even if we will be in Kildare." Yes, they could until she got mad.

Rina decided to give Bannon a taste of what he was in for. She knew Tykir had released his hold on her gown so she raced for the steps going up the first floor and to the second. She was fast being part elf.

So, because they were men in the making, they pushed their luck where the female was concerned and continued with their course of conversation. "True, that...but, I heard Karl say Kildare is volatile. So no matter where you end up with her...there you will be." Holy...Hole in the Doughnut! There she went!

"Aye, it is from what .... " He blinked as she suddenly ran up the stairs then sighed. "That's why Sir Vincent and Sir Trevor said you might help me. Because she can fly and I'll be on the ground trying to track her." He didn't know when he was supposed to start chasing her so he stood there a moment then shrugged. "I guess I'm going to play chase a lot, aye?" And he started for the steps, trying to listen for her steps. Of course, if she had opened a window and taken to the air, he might as well start tomorrow!

She waited on the second floor. She had acute hearing too.

Tykir laughed, she wasn't in any danger right now, Bannon could chill a bit. "Might want to consider tying a string to her leg!" Like he used to do to those June bugs to watch them fly around in circles. He glanced toward the top of the steps, as far as he could see. He lowered his voice, thinking she may just be listening. "I'll do what I can, Bannon, when I can. But Vincent knew what he was doing when he put you as guard for her."

So did Bannon from living years in the sewers and surrounded by magic though he thought everyone was like that! A string to her leg? He laughed then quieted again, stopping to listen to Tykir. That made him feel better. "You really think so?" He liked to feel that Sir Vincent trusted him by now.

"He must put a lot of faith in your abilities to watch after Rina. She's a princess...and as you said, that's usually not for a squire to do." He pointed toward the ceiling above them, she was still there. "And everyone in the castle knows, she's not exactly an easy charge." Part of it was due to Tykir, but he'd back off a bit since Bannon was responsible for her actions now.

He looked up and nodded, not hiding his grin. "Aye, I know. I've been warned." He chuckled and then became serious. Almost had that face down but he had a way to go. "I just don't want her to get hurt." Not because it would be his fault but because he really didn't want to see her get hurt!

She was getting impatient with him as she stomped on the floor, making a lot of noise that she could then let out a yell. ".. noooooo."

"Probably another reason why Vincent chose you." He was up and walking toward the garden side door. He gave an uplift of chin toward the stairs for Bannon to head that way, he would be outside if she shot out of a window.

He chuckled and started up the steps, making noise so she'd hear him coming. And when she yelled, he ran, just as if she was really in trouble. Now to see if she'd run again!

By the time he hit the second floor and the corridor where she stood at the other in, he could tell she was waiting for that exact moment. The window flew open and she flew outside all right but she flew down right at her brother and suckered punched him in the arm. "That's for being rude and talking about me as if I was not in the room when I had not been rude to you." She proceeded to stomp back into the tavern and over to her drink where she took it down in one long guzzle.

Tykir saw her swooping down on him and he ducked, but got that sock in the arm instead! "Ow!" He shouted after her, then laughed, looking up to the window expecting to see Bannon's face peering down. "Good luck!" He shouted up to him, and with another laugh, he bent his knees and out spread his wings, and into the air he went.

He was over to the window quick then looked down, watching her go back inside. He didn't laugh when she punched Tykir just groaned when he heard him yell that out. He lifted a hand as the Prince took off and watched him fly into the air. Man, that must be amazing!

If Bannon needed him for serious Rina problems, Tykir would be there for him.

He appreciated that! And back downstairs he went, needing to finish his drink. "Princess, I know you don't like this situation and I'm not too happy either but ... can we try to make the best of it?" He wasn't sure how but if she didn't want to do that, fine. He'd deal with whatever she dished out.

Not like the situation, he wasn't happy about it either. Oh, those words rolled around in her head as she abandoned her empty glass and marched right up to him. He was taller but she was gaining this new look of being formable. The way her wings curved out at the shoulders with the flight feather tips dragging on the floor. The feathers at the sides of her temples nearly stuck straight out. Leaf green eyes grew dark with a golden flame in their depths. The fingers of one hand curled into his shirt in a hold of material in her fist. "Don't you ever talk about me as if I was not in the room when I am. If you do it again, I will tell of such rudeness to Sir Vincent."

The way the feathers stuck out had him staring until she drew close and he looked down at her, hand curling around hers even as she grabbed his shirt. "Tell him what you want, but I'll be a gentleman and not mention what a spoiled little girl you are."

He might also notice that the skin shimmered that ran over her lids and to the temple feathers. After that retort, she ended with the emphasis of stomping on his foot as she let go of his shirt. She was around and heading out again. She would take flight and he'd have to run the distance to the castle.

She was a lightweight as far as the foot stomping and his boots but he released her hand and let her run off. "Think I'd rather face the monsters on the island." Muttered to himself, as he picked up the glass and downed it. He looked at Alex, gave him a slight smile and ran out the door.

If she was hurt by his words, he'd not see but she had done nothing rude to them first when they had been so rude to her. Oh, she planned now to get even. The war had begun!

And Bannon had no idea there was a war on. He was just trying to catch up! And wondering what he was supposed to do at night. He sure wasn't going to go anywhere near her room! He'd have a few question for Vincent come morning.



Date: 11-02-10
Poster: King Peter O'Neill
Post # 12

Innis Knights

It had been a good few weeks so far. The cold weather was just starting to set in, the newest batch of squires were ready for training, and there was plenty to keep the knights busy. When he wasn't on the field, Aiden spent as much time as possible with Maureen but there were many nights like tonight when she had duties to tend to. He had gone to the Thistle to enjoy a meal and now sat in one of the chairs in front of the hearth watching the flames dance in the fireplace.

Peter had not left for Innis, as he would be taking Henna with him for the trip so she could see it. Luckily he had not for he got to talk to Karl about the latest development where Kildare was concerned. More than likely, the reason he had not gone to Innis yet, was instinct kept him here. He sent word to three of his knights to meet him at the Thistle this evening. Not a particular hour but they'd know to wait all night if needed. He first met with Leoric after talking with Karl. Now to meet with three of his with special abilities above the norm. Lancely and Calhoun would be staying on here to protect the Queen in the King's absence along with a few others. The Queen would be well protected between Andrew's Force of Five and the Royal guards as well. He finally arrived making his way in through the side door, a heavier cloak worn that had a few snow flakes gathered upon the shoulders. That was until it was immediately taken off and folded over his arm as he headed for the bar. Alex already setting out a tumbler of the pure and leaving the bottle. "I must admit, on nights like this, I miss being in Innis." Addressed to Aiden who was already here.

Gabriel arrived from the front door just as Peter entered from the side. "Good evening Sire," giving a respectful dip of his head, "I hope I'm not late. Aiden." Greeting his comrade in turn before he was straight over to pick up one of the menus to see what was offered this evening. "I'll have the chicken and dumplings," deciding to go with that fare for the time of night. "Ale," which he'd have being he'd be eating instead of the potcheen. Some of that could come later.

He stood as Peter entered, saluting him with a fisted hand to his chest. "Good evening, Sire. Good evening, Gabriel." He smiled at Peter and nodded. "I think I've finally gotten used to the change in seasons. It doesn't seem to take me as long to be able to handle the chill in the air."

"Ah, Gabriel," looking pass him a moment then back. "Your timing is good. We will wait for Cole." For he needed to be here too. "Tell me, Aiden, how the new squires are doing and which ones seem promising to you."

They would need not wait long. Cole entered through the front, turning to make sure that door latched behind him. Bloody chilled weather of this place. His blood had thinned since enjoying the warmth of the island. He was rubbing the tops of his arms as he joined his comrades and the King. "Sire." He dropped his hands long enough to greet Innis' king then a nod of brotherly hello to the others.

"Most are doing well though of course there are usually one or two a bit homesick. They'll adjust quickly enough though and we make sure they aren't teased by the older boys. We usually match the older boys with one of the younger and that helps. I've my eye on four though the rest seem to be above average this time around." That could change of course. "Evening, Cole. You may need a glass of the pure to warm you up."

Gabriel hailed Cole with a salute as he waited for his meal. He didn't want to interrupt Aiden speaking with their king. He also was interested in what Aiden had to say on the squires.

"I hope the ones that are homesick are the very younger ones. Otherwise we'll send the lad home back to his mother's apron strings for he'll do no good as even a guard." Mama's boys didn't fit in such a vocation. "Ah, Cole, there you are." Then back to Aiden, "I will come see these lads in action soon. I would appreciate a list of the names and a brief description so I know which one I'm watching." Obviously he would be plainly attired so the lads had no clue who was watching them. "Let us adjourn to the hearth and get comfortable, bring your food there, Gabriel." Being there was a table for such. Taking up the bottle and tumbler, he headed over to take up a seat and waited.

Cole meant to do just that and Alex had already seen to a glass and bottle waiting for him on the counter. He collected both to move to the hearth and there he claimed a chair, pouring the amber liquid then setting the bottle aside for now.

His plate delivered by the time Peter was headed for the hearth, so he took it up as well his ale and was over in his wake. A chair chosen closest to the table as he set his food there. It wasn't so piping hot that he couldn't start in as it was only making him more hungry for the aroma. He started in, carefully.

He didn't have far to go since he was there, just a few steps after grabbing up his drink. "They are and the first time away from home, though they'll adjust quickly enough.  Of course, Sire. I'll have it for you in the morning." An older squire could also help Peter since they knew him.

He sat back a moment, looking over each in turn and quite proud of them before he spoke up. "There is a dire matter at hand as I came from a meeting with King Karl on it. Afterwards I spoke to Leoric so as to not overstep another king." Leaving that to sink in before he continued, pacing himself. "I'm sure you have wondered on King Karl's recovery and what brought him to such a state as well three of his horsemen. The matter is directly connected with the Northwest Forest that extends beyond Kildare all the way across to Luneberg." Here he took another pause as he looked upon his avid listeners. "The Witch of Kildare is not dead after all or more accurately her spirit has by sorcery, come back. The beasts are not of living flesh and blood but a form of necromancy at work. The Heathfield swords will be needed in this as well the particular skills you each possess. It will offer you a chance to work together with these skills. The aim will be, along with the four horsemen, King Karl, myself and Leoric's knights is to have a small army of force to drive through the unearthly beasts so that Leo and Gaidan can do what must be done by them to bring down this Witch once and for all. When she is brought down, so will the beasts."

Cryptic beginning, Cole drank slowly while he listened. "Undead, witchcraft and revenge. What man could turn such a tempting battle down." A lean provided the reach to curl his fingers around that bottle again, bringing it back up to refill his glass. He grinned to himself, not one to openly share that expression. Sounded quite the challenge. He tipped his filled glass toward Peter in a toast. Cole was in.

Gabriel had managed to get down a good portion of his meal but as the reason for this particular meeting became clear, Peter had his undivided attention. The food would wait. "You can count on me."

Aiden leaned forward as Peter began to speak, dark eyes intent on the King's face. He nodded as each of his comrades gave an answer, then nodded again. "Of course, I'll be part of it."

"I know you will do yourselves and Innis proud. Leoric leaves soon along with his knights to find an Old Woman that has information on how the various beasts can be destroyed for there is a multitude of them we will have to fight our way through. Some are winged," as he glanced to Gabriel then back to the other two. "Instead of an army in numbers that would have many to die that are not equipped to face such an enemy, it was decided on a smaller force made up of men that could face such a danger. Ones that were born to. Although there will be a few not with supernatural abilities but a higher caliber of warrior."

They had still to take Cole to the field. No perfect a time than come morning after the training on the king's field. The glance he gave Aiden then Cole in turn would speak his mind to them.

"So, about a dozen of us, to face off against the masses?" He slid a look to his comrades before he settled back on the King of Innis. "Odds are against them, poor beasts."

He gave the slightest of nods to Gabriel, his expression serious until Cole spoke. Then he chuckled. "Aye, they may turn tail and run when they see what they have to face."

"Raphael may want to come along for some fun. If that would not be a problem?" Then it would be a warm up for the four before they needed to go back to an ancient time to make sure the course of history stayed where it was meant to be.

"In Raphael's case, it would not be a problem if he wants to come. We probably have at least a week if not a couple before Leo sends word. I highly doubt it would be longer than that but could be sooner."

"I'd rather wait it out on the island, blasted weather here causes my bones to ache." The cold of winter hadn't even set in yet! He really had no problem with the chiller climes, and his body did not revolt against the cold, but the island was so much more pleasant in the fall and winter. At least to Cole's thinking.

"Wherever is best for the circumstances." Though ... the island sounded better at this point. He looked at Gabriel and nodded. Peter had just given them another to fight against the monsters.

"There would not be time to go to Innis and wait to be summons from there to get back in time to be of any help. It will take a couple days just to ride north to Kildare. I am considering leaving sooner and be ready at the castle. I suggest some long underwear, ones with a trap in the back so you don't have to undress as much when nature calls and chill off more than you'd want to, Cole." Said with humor to lace his tone.

It had been a long journey to Heathfield and she wasn't even sure she had the right place. From port she was directed the walk to Heathfield and the Thistle. After looking over the face of the building briefly, she pushed on. The door opened quietly, the white clad red-head slipped into the warmth and looked around. Grateful for the warmth and directions from someone at the docks.

Gabriel kept his thoughts to himself but there was a low chuckle as he continued to finish up his dinner. The plate finally pushed aside as he washed it all down with his ale. Quite the belch to follow as a woman took that moment to come in. Just his luck in timing. "Evening Miss," maybe it would be missed.

Because the King was as much a part of the brotherhood as the others in the room, Cole opened his mouth to respond, but managed to squelch his comment as the lady entered. "I'll see to packing a month's worth, My Liege." He stated instead.  He had noted the woman's entrance. That would suffice for Cole.

Peter turned enough to view the one coming in that Gabriel spotted. A slight dip of his head given with the greeting. "Evening m'lady." Except Cole's response had a hearty laugh with his retort back, all in good fun as he added, "good idea in case you're prone to skid marks."

Amber hue turned to those who greeted her, she nodded in return. "To you a good evening." Silent steps carried her to the bar. She hadn't meant to interrupt on conversation and she'd do her best to stay out of it, and request sake if the tender carried it.

He laughed and shook his head, lifting his glass to salute both Cole for his comment and Gabriel for the belch. "Evening, lass."

"Good evening." Replied in return with a brief glance over the group of males, then attention fell to her cup of chosen drink.

He stood at that moment as he addressed the woman. There were standards in this Tavern to be seen to and he was not without manners. "I am Peter and these are my comrades, Aiden, Gabriel and Cole." Indicating each as he introduced them. "What name do you go by?" Their conversation of importance was over at this point. "You are welcome to join us if you don't feel uncomfortable in the presence of a few rugged warriors." For Peter was a warrior long before he became a King.



Date: 11-02-10
Poster: King Peter O'Neill
Post # 13

Her attention returned to the group as introductions were made. "Meeting you is a pleasure. Naniko is my name." Eastern accent matched features and attire and the single weapon she carried, being a katana sword in a black saya. Mug in hand, she moved to join the group to some extent, not wishing to appear rude since the invitation was extended.

The shift of dark eyes briefly turned blue as he looked up at the woman again when introductions were being made. Something about her. The color change in the blink of an eye would most likely be missed as he stood as a gentleman would when she approached. "Well met Naniko." Then he was seated again. There were a few wing backs empty so she had her choice of one with the group.

"A pleasure to meet you Naniko, please have a seat," as he indicated one near his and the others so that they could speak easily. "Are you traveling?" Being he had not seen nor heard of her before. Once she was seated, he would take his seat again.

He stood as well, nodding briefly. "A pleasure, Naniko," and then he sat again. Lips twitching, he looked toward Cole.

Felt strange to be greeted with such manners. One of the wingbacks was chosen, she eased onto the seat after removing the sword and setting it next to the chair. "Traveling I am. My destination has been reached, I hope. Heathfield I hope is the right place."

Dang, Peter, the woman could have enjoyed her drink ... over there...just as well as she could over here. With Peter's lead, he rose from the comfort of his seat, offering the woman a nod with silence, then settled back in again when she finally lowered into a chair. He shot a guarded look in her direction, then swept a glance to each of his comrades before muttering under his breath and washing that sound down with another swallow of potcheen.

"This is the place. Certainly. Are you looking for someone or ones in particular?" Obviously he would help her out if he could and Peter probably knew just about everyone in these lands too. There was a glance towards Cole, only because it sounded like he swallowed a frog or something other but in his throat. Expression remained the same but he'd recognize a glint of amusement before attention was back upon the woman.

There wasn't much that escaped her. The muttering was noted, but what specifically was said passed her by. Looking at her drink for a moment. "Invited I was. The Quinn's I helped to seek their sister. Heathfield they spoke. Decided I have to see it for myself."

He sat back with a pleasant look upon his features as he enjoyed the various interactions. A glance to the door was taken in a faraway look then back again.

"I know the Quinns. There are two families of with both are related. Eion Quinn heads the older family here although that is debatable that indeed the esteem matriarch, Mary, heads the family. The second family is headed by Liam Quinn. He and his brothers returned after finding their lost sister a number of months ago. So this would be the one."

"Liam Quinn." She spoke softly before lifting her cup for a hearty drink of the contents. "Their guide I was."

"With her help it seems." That motion of head to the odd speaking woman indicated he had heard her claim to helping out.  And there Peter had it! Right out of the woman's mouth...again. He didn't say anything else though. Out of respect for his liege lord.

"I am sure they will be happy to see you. You are welcome to stay the night here where there is no cost and a lad sent to seek out Liam with the message you are here." A guide, which had him wondering on her skills as he studied her in a new light. Her odd form of speech didn't seem to faze him any.

Cole was in fine form tonight. He listened but didn't say anything. The potcheen was helping him to become nice and ... numb.

"Bother them I wish not. Sure I am busy they are, but thank you." A small smile, genuinely grateful for the offer was given as she looked from Peter to the others who had fallen silent with her entrance.

"As a guide, are you a tracker too?" Some only guided from one place to another as in direction while another kind of guide, did far more. Depending on how good they were.

"I am sure they would wish to know you have arrived. Liam has a boxing ring set up in a warehouse not far from here." Although he doubted he was there this late of an hour. Cole got that slight dip of his head for joining in the conversation.

Looking to Gabriel, she nodded. "Skills in tracking I do have." Though the skill hadn't been so much used, as it seemed she was there more as an extra sword. Which she'd been fine with. "Boxing?" A term she wasn't familiar with.

He had noticed the sword so it was more than show. A tracker would know how to fight to survive. "Have you arrived to stay or just visit?" That was his next curiosity.

"Decided I have not yet. If a place there is, then consider it I shall." It had been more curiosity that brought her, but she was not opposed to staying.

"A sport of one's skills in hand fighting. Using fists, sometimes in gloves. A match with another." She probably had seen such in clans where the men had fights, betting on them, who'd win, when nothing else to do.  "Trackers are not always needed but there is a need for them in certain areas of the sister castles. Especially the expanse of forests. I am assuming you know how to use that sword of yours too." Which there was always a need for a good swordsman or woman.

For as much as he joined in. He watched the woman while he drank, listened while he sat but that was all for now. What did he have to say to a female? Especially one he knew not at all. Absolutelyfrigginnothing.

"Prize fighting." A term she understood better. A glance given to the sword, she nodded and looked back to Peter. "For me crafted it was, when became a soldier in the homelands of mine."

"It is finely crafted." And looked like it was kept well and used well. Such swords had a look about them that said a lot about their owner. "Tell me of your homelands?"

He excused himself momentarily to stand and move to the bar. Time for a refill of the drink.

He seemed content with that answer and Peter was talking with her anyway. At this point it would only overburden her. He watched Aiden leave for the bar before focus shifted to Cole. Thoughts of tomorrow and getting him to that back field up from the spar hall filtered through his thoughts.

A slight frown, if it was even noticeable. "Home lands of mine are far East. Snow covered mountains where the village once was, no longer it is there." The sake was finished off, she rose from her seat with a bow to the gentlemen, "Excuse me, you will please. Traveled long I have and rest I should. For the warm welcome, thank you." Sword was picked up, she carried the cup to the bar and inquired for a room. Key given and she took her leave.

The woman rose, Cole rose as well.

He was returning to the hearth but stopped so the woman could pass him with little trouble. "Good night and rest well."

"Think the mention of her home didn't sit well with her?" His tone was lowered as he spoke to Peter, snorting out a final sound as he dropped back to the cushion of his chair.

He rose too as she needed to go. He hoped he had not hit a sensitive area as it was for many it seemed along in his travels. It sounded like she needed sleep more than anything. "Good night Naniko," leaving it go at that as she exited the room. "Alex would you see that Tommy alerts Liam Quinn on the morrow's morn that their lady guide is visiting here." Of which Alex gave a nod, Tommy would be pleased to earn a coin.

That had been ... different. He sat in the chair again and looked at Cole. "Hard to tell if she was upset or not."

"I think you might well be right, Cole. But it is something that will be asked of her," in short she would have to get use to it.

He rose but didn't say much at all as he remained standing. "With your leave, Sire.." as he hoped to see Melantha and let her know about where he would be going. "I will see you both on the field tomorrow, both of them." Expressed to his comrades as well he would see Peter on the King's field.

"Odd sort." He muttered, taking up his glass and his bottle. "I will be ready to depart whenever you need, Sire." He glanced to Gabriel with a nod. "I'll be in the barracks." Freezing my arse off in this fall season crap.

"Aye, Gabriel." Tip of a smile to follow, "give my tidings to Melantha." He wondered how she would respond to the news and hoped Gabriel didn't have to put up with a hard time for he had to go.

"Then perhaps I will see you later in the barracks," if he was still up when he returned. He would not be staying too long for he knew what it would be like on the king's field tomorrow if he did.

"Good night, Gabriel and aye, I'll see you then." He looked at Cole and chuckled. "Will you be seeking extra blankets?" He'd be talking to Maureen as soon as he could, hopefully when he returned to the castle. Then again, she could have heard the rumors.

"Aiden," giving a nod of his head before a fisted hand thunked over his heart in respect to Peter. On a heel he turned and headed out. He would fly the distance to save time.

"As many as I can steal from any who are lost in the unconscious state of the extras provided." A twitch pulled at his lips. "Good evening, My Liege. Aiden." The salute of fist to chest was offered for each and he took up the bottle and glass to bring back over to Alex.

"It seems to be a good time to depart, let Alex have some quality time with Hazel." Which Alex probably heard him but would not offer any response if he did or not.

He sat back in the chair though Cole was preparing to leave as well. Perhaps he should do the same and seek out Maureen now. He stood, hiding a laugh as he glanced at Alex. A nod to that gentleman then he was collecting his cloak. "Make sure to build up the fire in your room, Cole."

He would walk back with Cole and rev him up for his match with his comrades. "Good night Aiden, I'll see you on the field tomorrow too."

"I'll join you both on the walk back." He was heading for the castle too.

He never needed rev'ving for a match with his brothers in arms. But Peter's company was always enjoyed. He wagged a forefinger to Aiden, he'd do just that, and started for the door braced for the chill that will hit him with his departure.



Date: 11-04-10
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 14

After the Meeting

Gabriel took flight as he left the Thistle so that he could save time and always good to stretch his wings, keep up their strength. He landed just outside the main stable near the corral as he whistled. Blackbird was out and came running as he met him at the fence, climbing up to straddle the top and run his hand down Blackbird's nose. Something the stallion liked as he nickered. "So, I don't get to see you enough either my friend. You did not do too badly in this last race but I know you can do better. You have come in second and in third, you should be able to come in first." Words to encourage as he added wryly, "Is not your trainer taking enough time? You are attention starved?" Teasing was in his tone as Blackbird couldn't seem to get enough, nudging anytime Gabriel's hand stalled.

Mel had been in the stable going over a few things and updating her books. The buildings had been winterized, the fences checked to see if they needed mending, and she had a couple mares in foal. None were the racers but one of the Royal carriage horses was among them. Luckily they had enough so the mare wouldn't be missed. There was a sound outside, and then a couple of the horses snorted. That normally meant someone was about, even if it happened to one of her family. Then again, they all recognized the handsome winged knight who Mel spotted as soon as she stepped outside. She finished pulling on her cloak as she made her way over to the knight and his horse.

His wings were still out too, that helped keep his balance on the fence as he continued to pay attention to his horse. "Do you think she'll figure it out that I'm here." Which Blackbird gave a snort, head going up and down as he pawed the ground a moment. Just then Mel stepped outside that had the racehorse perk his ears forward as his head went up regally. Gabriel shifted on the fence as a smile broke free. "Were your ears ringing just a little bit?" With a flick of his wings he was down to the ground wrapping her up into his arms. His wings had a way of surrounding her in a cocoon sort of way.

The sight of Gabriel always made her heart race though she did notice Blackbird and chuckled. "Just a touch," she answered as she was wrapped up. She sighed in a contented way, and slid her arms around him. "I was hoping I'd see you tonight." She knew how busy he got but always missed him.

"I came here to see you," chin was tucked as eyes turned sky blue that locked onto hers. The sky a dusky backdrop that only added to the feel of this night. One that whispered of things to come. The look thorough before his lips found hers in a heated kiss. One that made up for the days they'd not seen each other of late. He always made up for it in one way or another, usually in a kiss that reminded her of how he felt.

"And you know that I'm always glad to see you." That look sent heat right through her, warming up from head to toe. Her lips parted slightly as he leaned down to kiss her and it was returned with passion. She made a low purring sound as the kiss deepened. Perhaps, in the back of her mind, this meant he was going away for at least a few days. But she was lost in the here and now.

This was how he always kissed her, especially if their lives had them parted for more than a week. Warmth surrounded within the circle of his wings as he held her close, the kiss to deepen from her willing lips before they finally parted or he'd not be able to stop. One thing would lead to another. "How have you been my love?" Eyes blazed that met hers now, full of the emotions stoked by her kiss.

"Busy. Well. And missing you." She wasn't going to lose that feeling of warmth for a long time and that was fine with her. "And you? All is well?" She kept her eyes on his, her voice low. No one else was around except for Blackbird and even he was leaving them alone, for now.

The night had the chill of frost which killed off most summer plants completely. The marigolds and mums seem to be hardier as their blooms were even more profuse since the middle of last month. Wings slid away back under the special-made shirt and away into the tattoo on his back. "Let us adjourn to your office." He probably had taken her from her work, stepping outside just to see what had the horses alerting her on.

She kept one arm around his waist as they made their way to the door, then she stepped through first. It was warmer inside, and her office had a small wood stove. "Would you like a drink?" Being a proper hostess, though the twinkle in her eyes would show she was thinking anything but proper thoughts. She still had the books and papers on the desk but there wasn't anything she didn't trust him with.

As he trusted her or they should not be together. It was as simple as that. Hopefully trust would never be lost between them for then all would be lost. "Yes, please. I'll have one with you, whatever you desire." Leaving her to make the choice as she knew what she had on hand. He was over to stoke the wood in the burner and add another log as she got the drinks. Once done he turned, taking a few steps away. "We had a meeting with Peter tonight. I'm sure you recall me mentioning, or heard, about the oddities in the Kildare Forest and the awaiting on King Karl's healing to know of what happened to him and his men?"

Potcheen was the choice, though she poured a very small amount of it for herself.   Gabriel had the usual amount. She brought them over and motioned to the chairs she had sitting there. They could sit and talk if he wished. "Aye, I do remember. You learned what happened then? And what does it have to do with you and King Peter?" She took a sip of the drink, waiting for the burn to pass. Otherwise, she'd not be able to speak for a few minutes.

He took up a seat in the chair indicated as she brought over the drink. "Aye, seems the things rumored about in the section of Kildare forest are the same things that grabbed Karl, a few guards and three of his horsemen later who went to find him. Karl had a meeting with Leoric and will head for Kildare once Leo finds this old woman that knows more in how to get past these entities. When he does, he will send for Karl and his men that have volunteered. Peter spoke with Karl then Leoric and offered our services, three of us with special abilities. So when the word comes that Leoric is ready to invade the Northwest Forest of Kildare, we will ride up to join him." Of course he was keenly watching her to see how she took this news, more what it implied, that he would be going to fight in a dangerous battle.

She sat across from him, the paperwork forgotten as she listened. Her expression changed to one of concern then worry, and yes, fear. Those things had taken Karl and his Horsemen down and even though Leoric and others would be there, she couldn't help but be afraid for Gabriel. "When I fell in love with you, Gabriel, I knew there would be times you would be called away, even though Heathfield is at peace." She managed a smile as she reached for his hand. "Aiden and Cole are going too?" It didn't seem enough to her but she wouldn't say it.

He chucked back the potcheen in his tumbler as the information soaked in. Reaching to set the glass on the desk before his hands captured hers that reached out. Once fingers locked he drew her onto his lap. "I will always have to face dangers. I know I will survive this test of endurance for what is to come that will bring us back into the past. Raphael will probably want to go and help too. Leoric has a large army at this point, as does Heathfield, Ballicastle, Innis and so on. The thing with fighting undead creatures, they would kill many normal human beings and although that might prove a buffer to get through, the kings will not slaughter innocents. Instead, a speciality force is being gathered and once Leoric is armed with the weaknesses of these creatures, then we have a good chance not to lose anyone and be able to defeat this Witch. I do believe as do a few others, that if these undead are not stopped, they will soon pose a direct threat to all the sister castles for they have touched upon Luneberg boarders already."

She went willingly, leaning her head on his shoulder as he spoke, even shuddering at mention of the undead. Sitting up again so she could look at his face, she touched her fingers to his cheek. "You will never stop me from worrying, Gabriel. I love you so much. And I would never try to stop you from doing what you need to do." She was quiet for a moment, then frowned. "Does this Witch wish to conquer all the lands then? She wouldn't be able to get by Andrew's wards surely." Though she knew his reach was only so far. Then again, there would be a huge influx of people fleeing. Would that stretch the wards to their limits?

"To have you stop worrying would mean that you no longer loved me." So, in that light he hoped she worried on him. "I love you and I worry on you as well." Even if she was not in any danger, one never knew what could happen in the course of a day that might take a loved one away. Or become the departed. "I think this Witch wants Revenge and according to the stories from before, wanted power." Which answered her question. "She would try to get by Andrew but I don't see that ever happening. There are some things less likely to ever happen. Let us hope there is less damage before she is stopped than has already happened." There were those she had killed already. Switching to a better topic, "I think you and I should set a date for our wedding. It is time."

The change in topic had her blinking then laughing softly. She brushed her lips over his, leaning back just a bit so she could look into his eyes. "Yes it is." Her smile turned mischievous as she continued, "Gram has been hinting that it's well passed time though she never quite says it. Shall we see to it this year, or wait until after the new year begins?" Her smile softened as she added, "I'm favoring as soon as possible."

"Then let us see to it this year, a Yuletide wedding but we shall have it either before or after that special day. I want a special day for us." So the choosing was hers and it would be festive for a few weeks being in the Yuletide season. He met that kiss and initiated another. Something he couldn't seem to get enough of.

"Before." That made the decision easier and it would give Gram both a baby to fuss over and a wedding as well. Any thoughts of picking out a date flew out the window though as she melted into the second kiss. There would be plenty of questions later from all sides but she did have one that couldn't be ignored. So when the kiss finally ended, she leaned her forehead against his. "I know everyone is going to ask this, so... where will we live? Shall we stay here or move into another home close by so I can come here every day."

"How does December 21st sound to you? I believe that is the Winter Solstice." Which he felt would fit in nicely to have a wedding on. "I believe the babe is to come sooner than December?" He thought he overheard a conversation that it would be around the middle of this month or sooner. Any day now? His forehead against hers as they talked before lifting again. "I can hope that information is correct for I'd rather see Grandmother have each to celebrate separately than jumbled together. We can live here or find a place close by and have our privacy. I will leave that choice to you."

"That day would be perfect and yes, he'll be born before then. Then, we'll find our own place." Chandra had never moved into the cottage on the grounds, so they could look at that.  She chuckled as she leaned her head against his shoulder again. "She'll celebrate every day, Gabriel. It's how she is." She placed a kiss against his neck. "We will have to go into the manor soon and tell Gram." But not just yet


"I was going to suggest we head up to the manor and give Grandmother the news as well the others there," although not his grandmother he had come to address her as such in respect. "She would want to know the news, yesterrrrr..." and the word was cut off as she began kissing his neck. That certainly distracted him and, well, Mary Quinn could wait a little longer tonight to hear the news.



Date: 11-07-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 15

Preparing to Leave for Kildare


Rina had just come from talking with her brother Leoric on the trip to Kildare. Because of all the rumors and how exciting it must be in a place not totally tamed, she had been wanting to go there for some time. It had been mentioned in conversation although most didn't seem to approve of the idea. She had a convincing reason which worked as she had hoped. Besides, Leoric had a soft spot for them both. She had all her bags packed, not one to need a whole lot as anything formal could be gotten there. They had a market and shops she was told. She hoped in this departure, she got to lose her guard too! Of course that would remain to be seen but he didn't have wind of her leaving. Yet. While she waited, she headed for the pub as Burt served her some potcheen punch. Just like in the Thistle. No one else around as she felt a twinge of guilt that Tykir didn't know yet.

Her guilty conscious may just have served as a call to her younger winged brother. For who but he should enter the pub from the direction of the kitchen. He tossed an apple up, caught it in his palm, tossed it up again and then sank his teeth into it with a crunch of crisp, red skin. He didn't even wait to chew before he smiled to his sister. "Hey, Rina." The words came with the threat of a sweet, juicy drool but he managed to control that, chewing away at the apple flesh as he approached her. A swallow, he wasn't completely crude, before he spoke again. "Winds got a whip to it, want to head outside for a while? Test it out?"

Sir Thane was biding his time until he was delivered word of the departure. It could come at any moment, and as such he was already ready to go. His small amount of belongings was gathered, his armor cleaned and oiled and put away, his horse and all its tack seen to. He had bathed, anticipating the long and dusty road ahead, and dressed in clothing that would be comfortable while traveling. As ever he wore dark colors, a midnight blue tunic belted with his sword belt, black chouses beneath and tall black riding boots that were well scuffed from use. With his sure stride and solemn features he looked every inch a knight, except perhaps for the fact that he chose to wear his black hair on the longer side. It brushed his ears as he walked up into the pub, having not much else to do except to seek a drink and some quiet thoughts before leaving. But when he stepped in and found the royal siblings... he knew the quiet part at least would not be happening. "Prince. Princess." He greeted them in his deep quiet voice with a bow of his head.

She was waiting for pieces of apple to fall from his mouth but then he had at least swallowed. Brows lifted with his news as she shot a glance to the window. She'd been drinking potcheen punch so there was that bit in there that might have her really whipped around but then that might be fun! She was attired in a supple butter-soft leather riding outfit in shades of russet and pumpkin. She didn't have to worry about a skirt being blown up to her chin and Tykir never letting her live that down, worse embarrassment ever! All those thoughts in a split second that didn't really matter for her automatic reply. "All right! Burt, I'll be right outside if word comes from my brother on departing." Sliding down from the stool just as Sir Thane walked into the room. "Sir Thane!" Her smile lit her face even if there was a solemn one upon his. "You have come to wait too? Have you met my brother Tykir?" She wasn't sure if they had formally met or not.

With Solarina's consent to fly, Tykir hooted with a "Hot diggity dog!" His free hand slapped against his leg and he took another large bite of apple, turning on a heel to get a head start. His speedy departure was thwarted by the solemn sort who had entered the room. Tykir knew him by sight, had watched him on the training field on occasion, but the knight proved to be quite a bit larger in person than from a distance. Then Rina's words ... sank in ... past his own thoughts regarding the intimidation aspect of the approaching warrior. Wait, er, too? Too? Wait for what...too? He snapped a look back to his sister and swallowed hard. That large bite had not even been chewed adequately and Tykir felt it travel thick and hard down his throat and past his chest, which caused him to flinch slightly just before he spoke. "What 'cha waiting for?" He turned to Thane and offered him a return bow of respect but darn if that man was holding his attention long! He was soon enough back on his sister like white on rice! "What? Who? Huh?"

A hand lifted automatically to prevent a collision between himself and the prince, and then dropped. "Not formally," he answered Solarina, and was about to introduce himself... but then Tykir was wheeling on his sister with demanding questions that had him blinking. It took a moment for him to connect Tykir's questions with the offhanded comment Rina had made when he stepped in. Indeed... why exactly was she waiting too? Now the Princess had both their eyes upon her.

It seemed that they knew of each other, knew each other's name. If not, both had been put out there for them. Leaf green eyes grew a bit bigger as it slowly dawned on her that they were looking at her.. in that way. It had her blink between the two. "What?" Like she even recalled her slip? Nope, she was focused on introducing them. She even looked over her shoulder towards Burt to make sure they were not looking at him instead. Nope, he was busy with inventory as eyes slid back while her head followed back their way. "I'm going to Kildare today with you." More directed at Sir Thane as realization dawned it had to be on that and something she said that slipped.

One word started his response. One word which was more a croak of sound than a word. "What?" The prince was looking from Rina to Thane to Rina again. "Kildare today? Nuhuh. Today? For real?" Each little comment had his gaze snapping to each of the other occupants in the room. ""Who said?" And finally, his frantic side to side ceased and rested on Rina with the final question.

Don't look at him, he had not known about this either. He blinked at Rina and watched her closely, letting her brother do the cross examination at first. "I do not think that is wise, Princess.." He began, somewhat gently. Of course he had no idea that she already had all the permission she needed.

She was getting a dejavu with Thane, took her a moment back before followed by a blink. That slight lift of her chin said it all even before the words parted her mouth. "Leo said I can go, I'm going to help Aunt Corina prepare for her baby. There is a lot for her to do and I'll be company for her when Gaidan helps Leoric." She knew Tykir wanted to go as he looked to him next, "I leave Ashford all in your hands." Being she got a more important project now. Leoric, of course, would have made sure it was fine with their mother too before allowing it.

Of course it was wise! It was just ill timed! Tykir still had Ashford to attend to before he could consider leaving! Crap! Crap! Crapcrapcrap! He started pacing, short little course, just a step or two before he spun around and took those same amount of steps back. His mind raced to find a way to get to attend to Ashford and go to Kildare too! Skidding to a halt as Rina mentioned Ashford, he crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his gaze on his sister. He paused there for a moment, then walked up next to her, patting her gently on the shoulder. "I understand, Rina. It's better you go to Kildare and help tend to baby affairs then to face off again against the unknowns of Ashford. I'll definitely take care of it. No need to even think on it." Did Tykir know how to get his sister going? He had seventeen years of experience! Darn right he did. He'd have Ashford handled and settled in no time, what with the Force of Five to back him. Then, he'd ride up with Karl's men! That was the solution! He looked to Thane with a smile. "You are a good man, Sir Thane. And from what I've heard, you have rescued my sister once already." Ohno, he was not looking at his sister now, but knew, if looks could kill.... "Do keep good care of her during the journey. She's not easily managed." Then the shrug. To ease off the boring hole Rina burned into his back?

Leoric said she could go. Well, that settled it, and negated any of his own misgivings. He knew she had a new guard now in the form of Bannon, but the lad was young and green, and the forests wild. He could not help but be concerned for her safety, and it showed in the way the skin at the side of his eyes pinched. He was quiet while Tykir spoke, clearly baiting his sister (and doing so expertly). He couldn't help but be amused by their exchange though his lips merely gave a twitch. Yes, he had heard about the fiasco on Ashford Island but did not know Tykir had been assigned to take charge of it. When the Prince went on though... blink. Which rescue was Tykir talking about exactly? Forest green eyes flicked to Solarina before returning to Tykir, evenly. "It seems to me.. that she is more than adept at managing herself," the knight said dryly.

Eyes narrowed on her brother as he tried that old tactic. Lips formed into a straight line to keep her from retorting that Kildare had bigger dangers than Ashford. Instead she nodded her head and gave a quip of an excuse back. "My arm finally healed from the attack," words barely out when she realized that Sir Thane didn't know. A glance slid there and quickly back as she added, "Corina will need the help being they will all be gone to fight mythical beasts in the forest." Except he brought up the dungeon tale. She was boring a hole in the back of his head, in fact she took the few steps between them and slapped him right there, across the back of his head. "Sir Thane is the best of knights." Not that there were others but she was warning her brother to tread carefully here. Thane was her hero but she didn't mention that. No, one would have to use torture on her to find that out! She turned then to Thane. "Tykir is to spend a whole night in the dungeons to know the truth of my words." There, seal him into that!

rescue? There was more than one? Well, wouldn't Tykir loooooove to know about them all.....Ooooowww! His head snapped forward, dark strands of hair falling over his face. He started to fuss, but then with her declaration he just smoothed the hair aside with the motion of hand. "I have no doubts as to Sir Thane's abilities, Rina. I've seen him on the field." This he said with sincerity, the next was coming with a crooked, half smile as evidence of his intentions. "And to a night in the dungeon..." He shook his head. "No time soon, I've too much to attend to by order of the King." Yes, he was jealous that Rina was heading to the very core of danger this very day! He had to do something to quell that green monster stirring about in his gut. "And you are correct, Sir Thane. She's more than adept at managing to get herself right into the damnedest predicaments, and you have my word on that!" He laughed a bit, rubbing the back of his head where it throbbed from Rina's show of ... affection. "Off now to test the wind and my wings against it." A flutter of black feathers, ever so slightly, followed. "Godspeed, Sister. Sir Thane. I'll catch you up when my quest of Ashford is complete." Busy man. Busy, busy, blastitall, busy man!

Was Thane going to say a word in comment about the siblings' little.. discussion? Absolutely not. Instead, he nodded respectfully to the young prince as he made to take his leave, stepping aside to let him do so. Then his eyes turned to Solarina. One brow lifted just ever so slightly, and then he crossed to the bar, leaning over to order an ale quietly from Burt. He needed a drink suddenly.

"No worries, brother. I will remind you of the dungeon when things finally slow for you." So it would be like the sword hanging over his head by a thread until it was seen to. He could bet his right wing, Rina would not forget. "Good luck with Ashford," which the tone showed she was really concerned that he do well. She always wanted him to do well even if at the same time she wanted to best him in some way too. "Wait, don't you want me to fly the wild winds too?" Or had he changed his mind now? Her words stilled as Thane came over to get a drink. She finished off hers before adding, "you want to watch?"

"Of course!" He shouted over his shoulder. Anytime he could have his favorite flying companion accompany betcha!

"No, Princess, it's alright." He replied quietly, thanking Burt for the ale and drawing a long, quenching sip. "You go join him if you wish."

She took a fleeing moment to debate but the truth was, she was not going to see her brother in a while and she would get to see Thane for heading back with them. Her smile lit like sunshine a second before planting a kiss on his cheek. One of those quick fly by things that couldn't be stopped if the one wanted to do so it was that fast. "I will be right back in, only outside if word comes." Already half way out the door with a smiling glance back his way before gone through the door taking the two out into the extensive back courtyard. Plenty of room for flying.

The knight was taken by surprise by that quick little kiss and it even made him stiffen some when she drew that close. The memories were strong. Nodding slightly as his farewell, he listened to Rina skip away, finished his ale, and ordered a potcheen. This called for something stronger... though he would not drink too much. He had to sit a saddle soon. And he would be watching out the window just to make sure the youngsters didn't get blown away.



Date: 11-08-10
Poster: Aiden Collins
Post # 16

Near Future Plans


It was late when Mo got back in from her three weeks of scouting through the lands for potential women that would make good warriors and be trained for the women's division. She was tired but a good tired as she made her way into the tavern. Her first stop home. A cloak with the Heathfield emblem was worn over leather armor as she had to look the part and did. A breast plate of steel over the leather trappings that she was already taking off as she stopped at a table near the bar. The cloak joined the breast plate as she greeted Alex. "Good even Alex, I'm finally back." Which he knew of her departure and why. So many villages and she didn't get to them all. There were many small ones scattered throughout the mountains especially the Northern Tier mountain range that extended into Ballicastle and Tyremoor.

Winter would make it hard for some of those villages to be reached. He had hoped Mo would be back before his departure and there she was. He thanked whatever gods watched over them as he watched her enter the tavern. He had a letter to be sent out with the rest of the mail Alex had , one to an old friend he hadn't heard from in over three years and thought dead. Entering the tavern, he closed the door and stood there, watching her. "Alex, is that a vision I see standing with you at the bar? Is it an angel or a woman of flesh and blood?" His comrades would never believe he was saying those words!

She turned on a heel, Aiden might recall just how fast she could be! Leaping into his arms as hers went around his neck and her smile was like none other, nearly splitting her face in two. "Aiden, how I've missed you. Sweet words.." which it was rare for her to blush but from him the words meant a lot, even if another might find them corny or mushy. "News! News! Tell me all the news but first." And here she planted a long fierce kiss upon his lips.

He was expecting it and wrapped his arms around her waist. Of course, before she could answer, her lips were on his and he returned the kiss with equal passion. Reluctantly ending the kiss, he leaned his forehead against hers. "The King has emerged from seclusion, fully healed. There is danger in the woods of Kildare far greater than we knew and it is reaching into Luneburg. Let's get drinks and sit." He had a glass of potcheen waiting for him and of course, there would be whatever Mo favored tonight. Aiden's expression was solemn as he released her.

The passion ignited her emotions as they usually did with him. There was a flare in her eyes of that hunger to linger after the kiss ended. Perhaps her voice was just a bit more sultry, "he has, this is good news." The next had the arch of brows in a deceptive delicate line. "No wonder he was wounded so, what tell you of all this?" She wanted to know more so getting drinks of potcheen was in order. She could handle it as well he could. Once seated she kicked back the first dram then poured them both more, provided he kicked back his too. Then she waited.

Which had him chuckling, at least momentarily as he too took a seat. He took a drink as well then leaned toward her. "King Leoric is mounting an attack but it will not be what the enemy expects. While he has his army, it is intended that the King's Horsemen and King Karl himself will go as well as Gabriel, Cole and myself. Leoric and Gaidan will lead of course. Leoric and his knights go first to find someone with information. The rest of us will follow." He had taken hold of her hand as he spoke. "We will need be parted again."

"You are going then?" Her heart took a leap, feeling more downwards than not. "Do you know what you are up against then?" Surely once Karl emerged there was much to be told? "When do you leave," her hands folding tight over his as if that could keep him here. They got to see so little of each other for their duties, but it didn't have her heart go forgetful.

"Aye, I'm going. We'll be up against Necromancy. Creatures not of living flesh, and our unique abilities will be put to the test but Peter is certain we'll do well. He also will be going, to fight by Karl's side. It seems this is an enemy from before."

"In my time off when out, I spent it flying and practicing maneuvers," she had not forgotten the conversations that went on before, Gabriel, Raphael and Aiden and eventually Cole. "If they need another," but she didn't have the force of women warriors yet to leave in charge. So far there was only four of them. That was something she was working on.

"I would have you go if I could," he smiled then became serious again as he continued to speak, "but you will be needed here more than ever. The Queen and the ladies of the court are well protected by Andrew's wards and the Crown Prince will remain here but, these are dangerous times, Mo. Even if the danger is faraway, those that remain behind will reassure not only the Queen and court, but the people remain safe. I believe that Andrew's trust in the four of you is great. I know the Crown Princess believes in you, just as I do."

"You make sure you come back to me or I will come looking for you if you go missing." Sounded like a threat but it was more a plea, a promise, one she never thought she'd hear from her own lips. "If I am needed, I can fly the distance to be there. When do you leave? I will request time for us to spend together." She felt that would not be a problem for the long dedicated hours she had put in never asking for anything, now she had a reason to ask for this.

"Within the week, two at most." He smiled and placed a kiss against her knuckles. "Far enough that time together should be arranged. Mo, I have a question for you. Will you marry me in the beginning of the new year? I have always known that time is precious, but now, I see it is even more so than I had thought. I am certain we'll defeat these creatures and the one that guides them, but there may well be other battles in the future. And if you would say yes... you saved me from myself once, Maureen. I think having you as my wife would make me even stronger."

"I will marry you any time you want. Be it the new year, be it tomorrow. We have no family to cater to in waiting and our comrades can be there if they want. None of them stand on normal traditions." Of course there could be a whole debate on what was normal because the definition was different for every culture and varied amongst the many that made up that culture. There was nothing normal at all in the world!

"Whatever you wish then. In my lands, there was a formal ceremony where the couple stated their intent, and were blessed by the priest or priestess of the god or goddess they most favored. I don't know your traditions." He stood and pulled her to him. "I would be content to marry you in the simplest way possible." Since he had come to this land, he came to believe in the Druidic traditions.

"Having no real traditions of my own, other than for marriage it is the intent of the hearts in question to state their devotion, all else is trimmings. So, I will adhere to any traditions you have so that this union sates any," whatever else she was going to say got lost in the pull up from her seat and easily into his arms. "I am content in that which contents you.." which she meant fully as eyes met and it was all there for him to see.

"I will speak to King Peter then. If he will perform the ceremony," which would be simple enough and could have the Knights of Innis Daingneach and those of the Order of Athena as witnesses." He gave her a half smile. "And whomever else you would wish. Or we could have Andrew do so since you serve his wife." He laughed suddenly. "I'm not making this easy am I?"
   Glancing at Alex he looked back and kissed her. "Why don't we return to the palace and discuss it? Alex looks like a man ready for sleep and perhaps we can make a decision before we need to do the same. Though to tell you the truth, if it could be done, I'd marry you tonight."

"That would be wonderful." Hands were finding their way into his hair, running her fingers up along his scalp. "Perfect," then there would be no one that could doubt the legality of their union. "Do you wish this before you have to leave?" That way they would be spending a different kind of quality time together. "Perhaps then tomorrow night?" Tilting her head a mite as her eyes lit up.

"Aye," The way she looked nearly took his breath away, and he dropped his voice as he spoke. "Having a wife would give a man more incentive to come home whole." Teasing her a touch. He didn't want her to worry too much though he knew she would no matter what he said. "I love you, mo shíorghrá." He wasn't Irish but he knew a bit of the language.

"As I love you, Aiden Collins, my warrior." Of course she was going to worry, as she was sure he had worried on her while she was off exploring the wilderness and defending herself against some wayards she encountered along the way. These she didn't mentioned for it would probably worry him more. The lands were safe to an extent, the wards picked up on big things, not human failings. "Shall we head up to the knights hall and see if Peter might be around?" One never knew.

"All right." He carried the glasses back to the bar then retrieved their cloaks. After helping her with her own, he put his arm around her to keep her close. And he would worry more. The walk back would be enjoyable because of the decision made.



Date: 11-17-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 17

King's Return


Kildare was in festive mode and extra royal guards and knights roamed the grounds for the feast that was in progress. The King had returned after a lengthy (a few months and counting) absence. Leo and his party took a reprieve after first arriving, all getting rested up. His knights had things to see to before joining the festivities that was open to all of the lands. Hence the extra patrol all considering. Leo walked amongst his people nonetheless for he held no such fears not to. He had yet to meet up with his brother and what better time than over food and drink? Attire was semi dressed down, more a warrior's garb with the tunic over a long sleeve shirt and a cape over his shoulders with the Kildare crest on the back like his men wore. Black pants, boots and the empowered sword at his side. Although it was a festive time and he joined in, there was an elusive pensive look about his eyes.

The splendor of Heathfield along with her inhabitants were unlike anything this traveler had ever seen. Hailing from dusty roads a good portion of life there were many nations she could have compared.. But as she ventured through and was given the good fortune of meeting some of the locals. But aimless wandering eventually carried her northward passed Tyremoor Castle and beyond until she founded herself in the lands of Kildare. As it would seem there was a bit of a festival going on.. The joy, smiles and merriment was certainly enough to bring a soft smile to the edges of her porcelain lips. Vibrant emeralds watched in kind observance as the majesty of the hour milled about and even joined them in conversation.. She had yet to meet any of the royals and, with a timid sigh she pressed onward and chose now to meet one. Daring not to step right into his line of vision she did however dip into a rich curtsey when and if he were to look toward her general direction.

Though there was great concern over what was happening in their lands, Gaidan was grinning when he met up with Leoric. He greeted him with a warrior's greeting, a clap to the shoulders as he studied his face. "I know the time is serious, Leoric, but you're to be an uncle, so this is a double celebration." Even though Leoric would likely know already, it felt good to say it. "You look thoughtful." In times past, it had been Gaidan who was the serious one. He was dressed in similar fashion to his brother, right down to the empowered sword.

Speaking with one of his enterprising young squires he was surprised to notice a lady that he'd not seen before. Of course there were probably many he'd not seen in particular as his kingdom grew. "Good eve m'lady," giving a slight dip of his head in acknowledging her gesture. "Please," gesturing with a sleight of hand for her to rise. "We need not stand on formality this day here in the courtyards open to all." She might notice his mirror image appear through the crowd, if one didn't know the two personally it would be easy to confuse which was which. Except, perhaps, Gaidan look far happier than his brother, not that Leo was unhappy. Giving his brother the same greeting, clasp of hands to each shoulder as he drew him into a brief yet strong bear hug. "You have been missed brother mine and much to speak on at the right time." Words exchanged during the hug before he was released. Words that probably didn't need speaking upon for his brother already knew. Although he didn't know a few extra things which he would warn him of. "Congratulations, for you are to be a father." Slow smile forming grew into a grin.

To say she was now surprised the majesty indeed approached her would truly have been a lie. In fact as he neared she felt her cheeks flair hot. A thin brow craned upward and, though thin lips cracked open she did not speak. Not at first anyway. But the warm gesture of his hand uplifted her spirits and a revering smile was placed onto him. Face bowed a soft nod and she pushed herself to her tall height once more. It was in that moment that dark tendrils splashed out from the confines of her midnight hood. "Yes, your majesty.." Kind, almost nurturing words were given and then her attention was stolen toward yet another royal who indeed was his other half. A knowing grin was the placement from uncertainty and to the other man's credit she would dip her head out of customs of respect. To be a father? Oh this brought such a winning smile to her beautiful lips. "Many congratulations, my lord" Perhaps spoken out of turn but since Leoric allowed her to stand near by she would feel comfortable at least to offer joy. Since she was not familiar to the two majesties she was unaware of Leoric's unusual state of dispassion. As well as the mannerisms that commonly defined the twin.

He nodded to the words exchanged then stepped back. "Maybe she'll have twins." Though his words were light, his brother would know that Gaidan was worried and trying hard not to hover. That was nearly impossible not to do. "My thanks, m'lady." He stepped up beside Leoric and turned to face the people as his brother did. "I think the people missed you as much as Corina and I did."

He saw the worry beyond the words but he would not speak on such things here, during the festivities. It was good rapport for the growing nation as well. Businesses were prospering rather than stabbing the other in the back and both failing in the long run. Certainly there would be some of such, especially down at the docks, but in their marketplace within the outer walls of the castle, there should be better harmony. "How is Corina feeling?" As that would be his first concern and then to address the woman as to not have her feel left out when standing right there. "I am Leoric McLarkin and this is my brother Gaidan, what name do you go by m'lady?"

Standing at the other side of Leoric the five feet and ten inched woman shifted her gaze away from the brothers and replaced her focus upon the growing number of courtiers, lords, and common folk milling about. The energy in the yard spoke volumes for the devotion of which they felt toward the returning majesty. Heralds and trumpets all but played at his arrival. Straightening a bit when there attention moved back onto her smile once more dusted upon
her lips. With subtle grace she shifted in order to look upon both of there faces in introduction. "I am most honored to be acquainted with you both your majesties" Yes she had heard of there names spoken from the lips of those recently in passing. "I am Kirstean" There was pride to be sure..Yet it was ever fragile.

He smiled at the thought of Corina, answering Leoric quietly. "She's doing well enough with all the changes she's going through. Not much sickness at all." Likely because of her heritage. He inclined his head again to the woman. "A pleasure, Lady Kirstean. You are a stranger to Kildare?"

It was about that moment that the winged impish young lady burst forth to accost her brother Gaidan, having arrived with Leoric and his knights and having no idea if a certain squire was following her or not. With the help of her wings, that leap was easy as arms surrounded his neck. She had not seen him yet nor Corina. "Gaiiiiiiiidannn.." squealing his name like when she was much younger. Then she realized they were out in public as her actions were noticed by some, startled was more like it. She slipped down, not being able to hide the grin as she tried to behave herself.

There were jugglers and bards moving about the crowds entertaining, weaving the tale on how the twins overtook the Witch and sent her to a just hell. Of course Leoric would not quite put such that way, nor the obvious exaggerations that had him become twenty feet in height with a sword that burned blue fire when he banished the witch. How the storm drew them up into a funnel with lightning streaking all around them until that final moment the earth opened up below and sucked the witch into its burning belly. Leo picked up some on what bard as the only amusement showed in the crinkles at the corners of his eyes for the moment. "Welcome to the lands of Kildare, Lady Kirstean. You are welcome to join in, have a meal and drink." Next was Rina tackling Gaidan as he laughed outright, "and this is one of the other surprises. Rina has come to help Corina prepare for the baby. Keep her company," which he left it there and not adding when they marched out. There were things to see to first before dealing with the Northern Forests and the bard would have another tale to tell that came from the same origins as the first.

When Gaidan.. Or at least she thought it was Gaidan spoke she couldn't withhold the chuckle from sliding between cracked lips. Not to offend but because this place already felt like home. "I am indeed a stranger to your lands.. But most humble I assure you" Thoughts stolen straight from her lips as she too caught the whispered tale of the bard.. the tale peaked her interest and was the newfound cause for her animated face to enlighten with wonderment and allure.. But tales were as such.. Stretched out of the contents of what really happened but she was nevertheless impressed by the feats. "Thank you very much for your warm hospitality it shall always be remembered" Words were spoken out of a coo.. But suddenly she froze still in place as the winged woman swept down and grasped around Gaidan. Eyes flashed wide yet it was not entirely fear that she felt. More along the lines of cautious curiosity. Though weak her smile was sent toward the other woman. "Rina I presume.. My name is Kirstean." She eyed the brothers seemingly for approval upon her own bold introduction.

And he was immediately distracted when Rina jumped at him. Laughing, he hugged her tightly before letting her down. "Corina will appreciate that greatly, Imp." He planted a kiss to the top of Rina's head. "You've grown since I saw you last." And that was at the wedding. He looked over her head at Leoric, not needing to speak while Kirstean introduced herself.

Gaidan got his hug and she got hers, there would be more later as she was going to be around him until chased to bed. It had been too long since she had seen him. Leo had been in Heathfield for at least six months so she got to see him a lot. She was attired simply in an ivory gown, a dark deep purple cape with a hood and made to accommodate her wings. Pure white ones. She obviously had a different father than her brothers. The slender feathers at her temples fluffed out as Gaidan might noticed that since she hit maturity (in his absence) there was a golden glistening streak that ran from the temple feathers and over her eyelids. Eyes of leaf green under the fan of dark golden lashes. A slight bird like tilt of her head took in the woman addressing her. A smile swiftly following. "You presume correctly Lady Kirstean, nice to meet you." Slipping her arm through Gaidan's in claim of this brother for a while.

Gaidan would read the concern that their adventurous sister probably had more on her mind than only helping Corina. Which he felt was honest on her part too but she was drawn to the rumors circulating around in that insatiable curiosity of hers. "We can expect Tykir to follow," where Rina went, her year younger brother, their brother, would be found. It was at that moment he searched the crowd to see if the squire Vincent de Beauvais set upon their sister was present too.  One of the squires came to wait on Leo as he set the lad to getting him some of the shepherd pies, smaller ones once could eat more like a pastry along with a tankard of ale. "Would you like something as well, Lady Kirstean?"

Nothing was more important to her than family and, as the siblings met in union she felt herself drawing backward to allow them the private, timeless moment. But when the squire arrived and placed in front of them delicacies she felt the obligation of remaining there in company of a royal family. "A...." She gave a pause to look at the faces of the others and then smartly back upon Leoric and his stoic face. "A pastry would indeed do me wonders." Lips coiled into a smile. Accepting the treat she raised it to her lips and eased a dainty bite in sample. Her approval instantly known. "Delicious."


"Of that I'm certain." He too was worried about her and of course, if Tykir followed, there would be double trouble. He slid an arm around Rina's shoulders, wondering what or rather, who, Leoric was looking for. There was a glimmer of an impression but he'd wait to find out more. "Are you hungry, sprite?" He asked Rina as he studied her. So many changes had him wondering if it was the same for Tykir. Then there was another thought. "Do you have the lads all flustered back in Heathfield?"

"I am ravishing and I have time to eat before going to help Corina. She is not feeling well this evening." What she was told as it seemed to come upon her in the mornings and in the evenings now. The last, however, had her blinking at him owlish. "They have to bow before me if I go into the knights hall.." tipping her head in that way before she realized he was teasing her and swatted a hand against his chest. "I don't think so!" More like she would be mortified to acknowledge it when it was happening like the time Sir Thane brought her into the hall after rescuing her from the dungeons, where she went on her own as a bet upon her brother.

Leo was exercising imprinting the image of Squire Bannon upon his brother's mind. A thing easier between identical twins but even more than that. It was something that was going to be useful in the fall of what held to the Northwest Forest of Kildare. He was pleased that the Lady would partake of the feast for it made her part. He too took up a pastry as the squire would remain there with the tray and refreshments.

What exactly was she doing.. There at the centered point of the feast she really had no idea. She was not of this family.. Or even royal to begin with. Eyes were upon her.. She could feel it and yet she upheld herself with poise and grace she could not deny the bashfulness that settled within. She was of gentle nature in every way, shape and form. Educated from the examples placed upon her in life's offering. In hearing the imp she tilted her head to the side and widely smiled at her.. Then she eased back and leveled her gaze upon the squire... "Thank you" Accepting a goblet she raised it in offering to Leoric's glass. "To the promise of a new beginning" Spoken as if she really knew what had been going on here..

A glimmer, an impression and the reason. "Then enjoy yourself, Rina. Aye, she has those times." And he wouldn't leave Corina for long for those reasons. "And make sure to dance in the snow. That might fluster someone special." He glanced at Kirstean then looked over the crowd himself. If the lad was to accompany Rina and hadn't, he would be in grave trouble with Sir Vincent. Perhaps he had given up trying to keep up with their energetic sister. That thought had him smiling. Rina was a handful.

She partook of a pie and some wine and feeling the hair on the back of her neck rising, she looked into the crowds but didn't see any familiar faces. There were faces, however, looking her over. That's when she became self-conscious all of a sudden.



Date: 11-17-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 18

It wouldn't be hard for her to hear of the history of Kildare, only six or seven years in the making. A kingdom that had to be brought back under its true heirs and a fight to get it there. The struggle of those that remained to accept the Twins as their King and Regent and all those who had left in fear of their lives under the Witch, to return and gradually make this a better place to live again. He noticed a number of the younger lads, well, younger than him and even a few of the older ones checking out Rina. Oh yes, her stay here was going to be interesting. He shot a look Gaidan's way before taking a good drink from his tankard. Leo didn't mind lulls of silence, his mind never was.

A difficult feat.. Yet won by deserving fate.. The twins were indeed the rightful heirs and, though she truly did not know either of them nor their family she founded herself caring very deeply for them and their cause. As the pipers roamed closer to their position she took one last sip of her wine to drain the contents and then sat it back upon the silver tray. "May I be bold, your majesty and suggest a dance?" They would not have been alone for many did so already.. She already had it set in the back of her mind.. If the King should refuse then her next target would be Rina herself!

She had finished her food and the fact she was being checked out as some might call it, had her blushing which probably added an alluring feature to the already different looking young woman. Hair a golden spun that cast a sheen over its length held back by a few small braids. "I must be off to see the  Duchess," at last that seemed an appropriate title for Corina. First Gaidan got hugged then Leo, "I will see you later in the castle." Stepping back with a smile upon Kirstean, "I'm sure you will stay the night," knowing they had rooms in the castle for visitors. "It was nice meeting you."

He agreed with Leoric on that. It was going to be very interesting. He glanced at Rina and smiled slightly. She would grow used to this in time, perhaps, as she was becoming a beautiful young woman "Tell her I'll be there soon, and the three of us will catch up then." Again, he was struck by how grown up she looked but the blushing showed him there were some things that hadn't change. And he'd amend to "The four of us," before Rina slipped away!

There were musicians about and his sister to hug, "I will be in later to see Corina," and offer his congratulations to his sister in law. Kirstean's request came as a surprise but a pleasant one. "You wish to dance for us?" Perhaps she knew of an exotic dance like some did. "Certainly, if that is your wish." He would enjoy such.

Head tilted and an almost disappointed look swept upon her features at such departing news. "It was very nice to have met you, Lady Rina" Kindness warmed her voice.. But she was slightly taken a back by the invitation. "Well.."  In truth she had not intended on staying the night at the castle. Truth be known she had spent many a wonderful nights staring above at the star filled heaven.. "I thank you for your warm suggestion but .. I simply can not accept." Thin brows momentarily pinched tightly together and then she tilted her small chin upward once more to study Leoric when he comment was made.. "I....Would if that is your wish, majesty" She was confused but tried not to show it.

"Perhaps I will see you again," smile swept from the lady to her brother Gaidan, "I will," figuring that would be wonderful news for Corina. "I have chocolates from Cairenn," Corina's sister who insisted in sending many pounds of delicious confections. Giving a slight nod Kirstean's way as she'd not argue her choice. She was quick then to make her escape, more escaping the curious looks and some far too long, swift of foot as she disappeared. She almost was tempted to fly up to the balcony that would take her into the chambers of Corina and Gaidan's. But she resisted!

"If you are not too tired, please do." There was a touch of uncertainty there as she had offered to dance or he was mistaken. As proficient as Leoric was in certain areas, this one, socially, he faltered more than not. He watched his sister take her quick leave. "She has grown up so much but still there is the heart of a child in a woman's body." That was where Rina was at. "de Beauvais has set Squire Bannon as her body guard. Rina has been doing her best to lose the lad. I think it is not so much she doesn't like the squire as it is she is use to her independence. But if she is to be here where danger lurks... have you seen Bannon? If not I may have to assign one of my knights."

The energy by which Rina possessed was indeed like a child. Yet already Kirstean was feeling a certain depth of love for her. She was innocent and full of life. It was a beautiful way to live. "She's beautiful..Truly a woman worthy of belonging in your family." Immanently after it was spoken she cursed herself and fluttered lashes downward as though she possessed the ability of invisibility. It might have come in handy about now! A breath and she shook her head. "I probably should also make my leave. " First she acknowledged Gaidan.. "Many a congratulations to you and your wife, your majesty" Then to Leoric and she faltered but bowed. "Welcome home."

He would probably be asking his brother on what faux pas he had stumbled on. "As you wish m'lady Kirstean. If you'll not stay the night," for certainly the nights got bitter cold with winter coming upon them, "at the castle, I would suggest one of the taverns in town where you will find comfortable accommodations." It was possible the weather didn't affect her as it didn't affect him but that was because of a few reasons. Still he dressed accordingly so it was not obvious. "Thank you for the welcoming home," as Kildare was becoming more his home.

"Aye, and still has the shyness." He watched Rina then looked at Leoric. "Give the lad another day. I'm sure he's realized she's gone and would likely follow, especially if de Beauvais has also learned she's gone." He felt sorry for the lad if so. "And if he's not here by then, assign Jaelysa to her. I'll send men to look for him along the roads." He smiled at Kirstean. "Thank you, m'Lady. It is a very joyful time for us. Enjoy your stay here and  please, make sure to check out the taverns as Leoric said. Kildare nights can be freezing."

It was in that moment that she felt the chill befall upon her slender form.. Shoulders quivered to the discomfort and she moved closer to the fires contained and lit about to provide herself with warmth. "If..." She hated to relent and seem wishy washy around the majesties but the cold that began to settle in was not welcoming at all.. "Forgive me I'm not normally this uncertain.. I would be honored to stay the night here at your castle." Her smile was weak.

"Well then, shall we adjourn inside?" A slight motion of hand and a smile to appear. He was sure Gaidan would be coming too. The servants and staff of the castle would see to cleaning up after the towns folk had their fill. They would probably go late into the night as contests were offered with caber and sheaf toss, stone put and the haggis hurl. He asked Vincent to keep his eye out on any lads good at the jousting rounds also in progress in the field outside the walls. Which reminded him of something. "I believe we may have a shipwright finally to take over the drydock down at the port, Gaidan. I will seek out Captain Joe Walsh who is presently looking for such an opportunity and it was what he did in his homelands, how Collin McAndrews learned the trade."

He smiled at Kirstean's answer then his attention shifted to Leoric. "Will he still sail, or will he be content to stay and work?" He knew Joe had his own ship and of course he was going inside as well. He had a lovely bride to check on and comfort.

"I believe he will work if he takes on the dry docks here. I'm sure there will be times he will sail but not when he has work to do." He was certain other shipwrights took extrusions when they had time.

She issued Leoric a nod and fell back into formation to allow the brothers to walk side by side.. She would follow after them and issue the crowd one last over the shoulder glance. They spoke of shipments and, though she really no business being a part of the conversation she stepped into the castle and shifted side long in order to face them once more. "I would.. Like to meet Corina perhaps sometime and offer her my blessing.. If that is alright with you, your highness." Of course spoken to Gaidan.

"It'll be good to have those ships whole." It was kind of a sad thing, seeing the skeletons of what were to be magnificent ships. He looked at Kirstean and smiled. "I'm sure she'd be pleased to meet you when she's feeling up to it. Perhaps tomorrow. We'll have one of the ladies see you to your accommodations tonight. Rest well, m'Lady Kirstean." He and Leoric would continue on to the Regent's suite and talk a bit longer.

Which he would pause as Lady Coreen came to see to Kirstean. The brunette had a wonderful smile, and a set kindness to her eyes. She was one of the Ladies in waiting. Giving a bow of his head in due respect, "thank you Lady Coreen. Good night Lady Kirstean. I know you will sleep well," and it seemed would be meeting Corina in the morning.

Equaling Coreen's smile, Kirstean bowed her head in a respectful welcome to the other woman and gathered the weight of her gown to begin the climb up the stairs. But before she got very far she heard Leoric speak and she halted to stare back at the brothers. "I shall indeed have a good night.. Good night.. My majesties" She curtseyed and then resumed her follow as the lady in waiting saw her comfortably to her room. She was actually very excited to meet the Queen.. Corina was a Queen was she not? She was certain they would fill her in on what was appropriate to call her.


"Aye, we need to start making our own fleet, nothing against Peter's of course but this is a long way for them to be." As there was still a fleet in their harbor to help out after the last incident. "I should see about sending Peter a gift from our kingdom to his for all his help." A firm nod with that thought as it would be so marked to be done. "What do you think, Gaidan, of the idea and any ideas of what that could be?" Something a king of a tropical island didn't have and could use or at least appreciate. All the while they made steady progress to Gaidan's chambers.

"It's a good idea but it'll take some time to figure out." He chuckled as he rubbed his bearded chin. "Maybe Corina or Rina will be able to help with that. Something unique definitely." He grinned as he paused before the door. "Maybe snow." Kidding of course, but they got enough of it that they could fill a cargo hold. He opened the door and motioned for Leoric to go in first. Corina might be resting but she'd be in the bedroom of the suite.

He stilled his hand on the door wishing to speak with him before they entered now that they were alone. Closing it back over. He'd keep his voice down as he was sure the women were in one of the inner chambers than the immediate one they would first enter. "Karl and Peter will both be coming with select men." A good a place as any to start. "What happened to Karl and three of his four horsemen is connected to the rumors on our Northwest Forest. Thalan showed up at the meeting," this, Gaidan would know was very important. "I was going to see to this without involving you," which his brother knew why, "but it seems this time, you shall be the one that uses his mystical abilities and I the sword, working as one to finally defeat the Witch once and for all. Karl heard her use our names, she is not physical this time but has taken on one of her demon's forms. Before we go, I need to find the Old Woman that helped us once before with Niall." Which he was sure Gaidan would remember the woman, "Thalan suggested that she knows ways to defeat the demon hordes that will descend upon us once we enter her forest domain. One that reaches across the Wild Lands to the boarders of Luneberg. Although, she has kept hidden, not attacking any along those roads but any that enters her domain so they would not live to tell anyone."  Still, they had found out and it would not be long before the Witch realized her secret was no longer.

He knew as soon as Leoric touched the door that he had something to say. As he listened, his smile faded. "My abilities are not as strong as yours, Leoric but I'll do whatever is necessary of course." He glanced at the door, then looked back. "The Old Woman will know we are coming then. We'll have to be careful when we go to see her. The Witch could have her watched." Though likely the woman would have herself hidden well enough. "When do we start?"

"Then we shall practice them long hours until they are." This was important for not only their future but the future of Kildare. "It seems my sending her into the vortex last time was not enough for we were suppose to do even that together. Literally." Thoughts reverting to the Old Woman, "I don't think she fears our coming over the Witch coming and possibly following us. We shall work on this issue on the invisibility charm." Easing his hand from the door so that he could open it again, "I would say yesterday but tomorrow will have to do." Adding a touch of humor or so he hoped.

"Aye, it will, considering the time." He grinned at his brother, though he was feeling nervous about the whole ordeal. "So, we'll be reversing things in order to make sure she stays whereever she ends up." He looked at the door and squared his shoulders. "I think I'll let you inform Corina."

"Yes, if we can defeat her as each other, then she will never come back again." Or so he hoped, this was unexpected to start with. He was shaking his head with the last, "I'm sorry but that is something you need to do in private. She is your wife." He was not going to touch that one! Especially a pregnant woman. There was a slight smirk that Gaidan would try to get out of it and fully understood the reasoning too.

"And here I thought you were braver than that." He chuckled again as he finally opened the door. He would do it of course, after Leoric and Rina were gone. "Corina? Leoric is here to see you if you're up to it." Hopefully she was feeling better and would be able to sit and talk for a little while.

"I am very brave, but not with that!" Which had him laughing. "I will be questioning all our men tomorrow if anyone knows of the whereabouts of the Old Woman." They had enough men in their ranks there had to be one of them that lived near or knew of, the old woman. Moving within as he opened the door to give his Congratulations personally and see how his sister in law was feeling.



Date: 11-18-10
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 19

Waiting on Word

Peter had a glass of potcheen in hand as he stood in front of the hearth. Glass tucked near his chest as he stared into the fire as if he could see the future there. Exactly where his thoughts were, no one else would know and it might not be as they might assume should they catch the more pensive expression, thoughtful kind. Alex was busy at the bar doing what he did efficiently. Meticulously. Peter was not royally attired but in a ecru cable knit sweater over black pants and boots. The sword that hung at his left hip the more impressive over his clothing. Sun bleached brown hair was tied back in a tail at the nape of his neck.

After a near all day ride from the lands of Kildare and over the several counties she finally founded herself in the heartland of Heathfield itself and staring upon the Thistle tavern. A heavy breath sucked between cracked lips while a hand was gingerly placed upon her loyal equine's neck.. Sliding off the stallion's back she released the beast to roam about.. She knew well he would not stray too far. Climbing the porch she extended a hand and lifted the handle to allow herself access within.. The sharp breath of the heat was a quick comfort.. Body riddled by the torrent of climate change.. The chill coming off she issued those seated about a kind smile of welcome.

He heard the steps but left them to the back of his thoughts, unlike when he'd been on the battlefield. The opening of the door still held him to his trance until the whisk of cold air brought him back with a turn  in that direction. Peter had manners, well bred ones. He didn't recognize the woman. "Welcome in from the cold Lady. I am Peter." Never one to lollygag about and got to the introductions.

Lids fluttered several times to ward off the sudden sensation of lethargy. Tavern brought her comfort and for that she was grateful. Head tilted to the side upon introduction and thin lips twitched into a small, curious smile..  It's very nice to meet you, Sir Peter.. I am Kirstean" Cheeks flushed a bit as the tall woman stepped beyond the shadow and into the dim lighting toward the bar. "Very lovely establishment I must say." She took a moment to stare about.

She was partially right using Sir, for he'd been knighted here long before he was reunited with his family. A title he had earned, not just a birthright. "It is equally nice to meet you Kirstean. Have you traveled far?" She looked a little trail tired, maybe it was such debris that clung to her clothing. "Aye, this tavern has been a long time favorite for many. Sometimes, like presently, it is quiet and other times it is not," which had him glancing to the door for one never knew when others would arrive.

His question brought a humored smile to her lips.. Not with intent to offend but because had he known her then he would know she was very much a traveler. Her body should have been used to the lifestyle yet the winter months always were trying for her. "Indeed..I enjoy wandering.. Yet never before have I seen lands as beautiful as these." Leaning a hip against the edge of a chair she lowered herself down and propped herself with her elbows. "Nothing wrong with a little peace and quiet." Lips twitched into a friendly smile.

"There are many that have said just that." It had him reflecting on those many years ago when he and Karl first came here. Teasing his comrade on the tournament of champions and appealing queen. "Alex here is the distinguished tender, and you can have anything to eat or drink without the need of coin. The monarchy here has set it up that way." Which he proceeded to salute Alex before kicking back some of the potcheen.

Once again, the wayward Prince, made his way back to port. First to Heathfield and then he'd head home. There was always a chance that Peter would be here. With the winter coming on, Jerome had decided this year to spend it on the isle where tropical breezes blew and most days were sunny. It could have been due to the fact that he was growing older but he'd certainly deny it. After giving orders to those staying on the ship, he headed for the Thistle.  If his brother was in Heathfield, he'd be there or at the castle most likely.

Head tilted to the side as she watched Peter for a moment.. Had she known he was a KING she would have acted much different that her casual state currently. "That is very nice of the monarchy." Head bowed out of respect, then to Alex. "Could I have a cup of hot cider please?" A thin brow arched and she pulled away to press the small of her back against the chair. "I had the good fortune of visiting the lands of Kildare yesterday" Actually she was staying at the castle but.. That would have been far too much information.. By that time Alex had returned with her mug and she was grateful she had a new distraction.

Hopefully no one saw the eyes that bopped up at the front window and away again. Rory was skulking the area for his brothers, pointedly the two the same age. They could have some fun here. He was vaulting over the railing to land on the ground below and quickly off with a turn into the side garden.

"Kildare that is a good ride from here. Leoric and his knights headed that way, perhaps you ran into them? Although they probably reached the castle by early last evening." Not knowing her time frame in being there. "Where are you originally from?" Peter never claimed to be the best socially, in fact compared to how he was a year ago and especially many years ago, he is a lot better than he was.

When Leoric's name was spoken her eyes flickered a bit brighter. She did indeed know him.. "Yes I have meet his majesty.. As well have I been fortunate enough to met his twin" For a moment there she thought she was seeing double.. Her smile faded however when he asked where she was from.. "I'm..." She offered him a bit of a timid smile.. "Well it's been quite a while since I was anywhere near where I was born but.. I honestly can't remember" Raising the
mug to her lips she took a hearty sip and took comfort.

"You have lost your past memories? Did you have an accident of some sort?" He was over to get the bottle of potcheen to take with him back to the hearth. This way he'd not be traveling back and forth. He noticed the windows but there was another feel to them.

He had stopped to talk to a vendor, buying a bagful of sweets as it was the last the woman had. Whistling now, he headed across the commons, pausing a minute to watch the lad who seemed to be skulking about. Chuckling, he headed on up the steps, tapping on the glass of one window as he passed it and saw Peter in there. A moment later the door opened and then closed quickly. "Brother mine! How lucky for you that I came here first!"

Jerome might feel the twap of an acorn against his shoulder yet not enough to really hurt the man. He'd only see shadows when he turned.  Or if he stuck his head back out.

It was a sour subject to talk about her past but, since he asked she refused to be rude and deny him.. A breath drawn in and she began to ponder how to answer him effectively. "No accident.. I just have chosen to forget. I come the lands of Heliax" She was confidant he was not familiar to it. Then the door opened once more and a young man came flying in and presented himself as Peter's brother? Humored by the act she grinned and tilted her head to the side in mild surveillance. "Actually he came here first.." She should not have spoken but truth me known she couldn't resist.

He did and leaned back, raising his voice a bit. "Lad, your aim is off. M'head is a tad higher than that." Then he shut the door again. Potcheen or greeting his brother? No battle there as he crossed the floor to Peter.

"Well, look at who the seas have washed up to shore again." Lucky Kirstean for the distraction although he heard her response as he was across the way to wrap his brother up in a bear hug. Easing from the manly hug as he addressed the young lady. "Jerome this is Kirstean coming in from Kildare." Being she had mentioned those lands as being the last she was in. Original lands wished to be forgotten.

"I mean lucky for him that I came here instead of going on to Innis." Which he was certain Peter knew. "Well met, Kirstean." He eyed Peter a moment then grinned. "And what mission has you here in Heathfield instead of home? Has our baby sister and her new husband returned home?"

As Jerome moved over to them she offered him a light smile but remained silent as the two siblings spoke. She was starting to get used to being in conversations she really didn't belong in. Kind of humorous actually. "Nice to meet you, Jerome" He was a man of the sea? She could smell the salty air upon him.

"I am informed that Elaina and Connor should be back before the day of giving thanks. They have probably arrived already in Innis. I will bet there is news of a child to be born for the length of the honeymoon." Which had a slow grin on the rise. This idea pleased him and who better than their sister? "I have been here some months already with only a trip back a month or so ago. Karl had been injured and found," which details he would leave out. "The culprit seems to be one and the same stalking in the forests of the Wild Lands across to Kildare," here too he left out the major details. "We await on Leo's word and when it comes, then myself along with three of my men, Karl and a few of his men, will ride to Kildare." Which meant it had to be some pretty heavy stuff for them to ride there.

He could have that smell from just being down at the docks.  "I still haven't gotten used to the fact that she's married and you're talking babies?" Jerome actually shuddered. Karl had gone missing before he had left so that news was good to hear. Since Peter didn't mention how badly, he would ask later. "Sounds pretty serious. I can stay in port, sail you there when you're ready if you want." Be a touch faster. "Unless you've made other plans?"

Speaking of Kildare... The hour was growing a bit late and she was beginning to think she should head back to the castle. Taking one last sip she pushed herself off the chair and set the cup upon the bar. " Seems I will be seeing you both, in Kildare then" She nodded and turned back to face them.. "I should start heading back myself" Nights grew cold and she truly was not looking forward to this.. "It was very nice to meet you, Sir.. Peter, Jerome."

He turned and smiled at Kirstean. "It was nice to meet you as well, Lady Kirstean. Do you have far to travel?"

Smoothing out her gown she shifted a bit and then slowly turned back around to face Jerome, smiling instantly to match his own. "Yes. I am heading back to Kildare tonight." She had a 'date' to meet Corina tomorrow morning.

"I see. That's a distance to travel in the dark so be careful." That was a distance to travel. And while Peter said his farewells, Jerome headed to the bar for a drink.

Leaving the two to speak before he spoke up so he wasn't interrupting. The story on Kildare, he would relate in detail later with his brother. "We may not be there for a few weeks," so she wasn't expecting them right away. All depended on how soon Leo and his brother could find the old woman spoken on by the Wizard. "Safe travels Lady Kirstean, it was a pleasure meeting you. Perhaps our paths will cross again."

Rory had taken off to try and find his brothers. Next place was the port and if they weren't down there, he'd most likely get into trouble. Or get into trouble if they were there. One thing was for certain, trouble was going to be found! There would be Trouble with a capital T if he ran into Charlie sometime!

Never fear, that was a given, Charlie's reputation of course preceding her, which was often a good thing ..

Of course there was Victor that had Charlie faltering in her step, one of those rare occasions aside Kenneth.

Ah yes there was Victor, were it not her love of Kenneth, her sanity would have slipped away with Victor, but alas the poor gypsy was bound to her brand of insanity, both reveling in her oddities ..or proclivities or what not ...

He was over to where Jer got his drink, "shall we head up to the Knights' hall and see if any of mine are out and about still?" He knew Jer got along well with them and perhaps something to get into tonight for entertainment.

"Aye, that sounds like a grand idea. Haven't seen them for a while." He needed to catch up on all the news, not just that about Kildare.

Being in agreement, he said his farewell to Alex and Hazel. Taking the bottle of potcheen with him to share as there was a lot of particulars to be filled in with his brother if he wanted to help out with this situation  in Kildare.

He downed the last of the drink, saluted Alex and headed out with Peter, always ready to lend a hand where needed.



Date: 11-24-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 20


The Gathering for Information

Bannon had stayed a distance behind Leoric and the others as they traveled toward Kildare. He was very grateful for the note Leoric had left him, and more than a touch upset with Rina, though he did understand. It almost seemed as if she were being punished. Pushing his thoughts aside, he had paid more attention to the roads as he left the more civilized lands and moved into the wild lands. He kept his hand on his sword, hoping one lad on a horse wouldn't attract too much trouble. Of course, that hope ended when three men stepped out of the woods. They weren't warriors, just bandits. Three against one wasn't the best of odds but Bannon arrived in Kildare a day later than he should have. It was pouring down rain as he headed for the castle.


Leo had all his men gathered on the training field as he would deliver his message on the course of things and actions to be taken. Most would be left here to defend the castle if he and his brother were not successful. A small force would be going into the Northwest Forest to deal with any problem to be found there. He didn't get into affirming the rumors other than there was an enemy not of natural means to be taken down. It was why a smaller force with such capabilities was being organized. That to remain was as important as those going. After answering any questions and certain all understood, he proceeded to ask individuals if any knew the whereabout the Old Woman, one many considered a Seer that had been living near the outpost and had disappeared but believed to be within the lands still in hiding. Leo asked of  his knights that they filtered through the men asking on this as well.


Like the others Thane was huddled beneath the shelter of an oilskin cloak, the rain pattering down loudly on his hood. A situation like this didn't stop for weather and he was moving around those gathered, doing as Leoric had bidden and trying to learn as much as possible about the old woman that many seemed to consider of mystical powers. He heard plenty of rumors and unfounded stories, but no solid details that would help them locate her whereabouts. He was about to make the rounds again, when quite suddenly he saw a familiar face. Standing within a knot of new recruits was young Davydd, the son of farmers from the village of Outhenby , where Thane had spent the years of the witch's reign. He greeted the lad warmly, noting to himself how much taller and broader he'd grown since last he'd seen him working in the fields. They spoke of the village and the people there but Davydd offered a glimmer of information, as well. It was said that the old woman had moved into the southern woods, that many there went to seek her help in various matters, but nobody seemed to know exactly where she was. Even Davydd didn't know anybody who had ventured into the woods to find her and returned with such knoweldge. Thane clapped Davydd on the back, wishing him luck and asking him to send his regards to his family, then began weaving through the crowd to find Leoric.


He rode his horse to the field, dismounting with a wince. He stood there for a few moments, rain streaming down his face, his hand pressing against his side as he looked for Leoric. It was only natural he would report to the King first. Feeling much as he had the first time he had met King Karl, he made his way to him and saluted by thunking his fist to his chest. "Your majesty, thank you for leaving the note. Does the Princess know that I was following?" He had a bruise under his left eye and a scratch that was bleeding though the rain caused the blood to mix with the mud on his face. He looked like he had been wrestling.

Vincent had seen to another portion of the warriors as he wove amongst them, asking each individually or in small groups if they had seen or heard of the Old Woman that use to live by the outpost where he, Simon and Thane had been stationed. Some knew of her, some were very superstitious and he could see the fear in their eyes on such a one, while others were more curious. One remembered her when she lived by the outpost, had even helped her out one day with a load of wood of which she had blessed him and it was the next day he met his sweetheart. Like Thane, he also got to hear some outlandish stories that most likely didn't have a whole lot of truth to it as more speculation that grew from there. By this time he ran into Thane, "have any success?" With a glance to see where Simon was too. The rain was dampening  a number of moods and most of them wished to get inside for something warm to drink and eat. At least the hood of his oil treated cloak kept the worse of the rain at bay. The ground was starting to become muddy in places and slick as only a good downpour could do. By tonight, if it didn't cease they may have to contend with ice.


 It was indeed miserable weather, and he wasn't the only one soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone. Turning slightly to maneuver past some people, Thane craned his neck to see over the crowd, but then there was a nudge from his left and he turned to see Vince. "Aye, I met a lad I knew from Outhenby who says the woman is believed to be living in the southern woods, beyond the village. Have you seen Leoric?"


Like everyone else this dreary early evening, Leo wore the oilskin cloak of like issued to all of his men. He wasn't having any luck and debated on scrying for the information, something he was not as good doing, yet, as his older brother. He turned to find Bannon there as a brow lifted taking in his appearance. "I thought you would be here an hour or so after we arrived. What happened?" Then shaking his head, "she knows not of your arrival nor that I informed you of her departure with us."


Simon too, was asking questions of the men gathered and like the others, was hearing some tales that had him chuckling, or raising a brow. He finally made his way to his comrades in time to hear Thane's answer to Vincent. He looked around to see if he could spot the king as well.


"I was behind you for most of the distance until we reach the borders of Tyremoor and Kildare. Bandits were waiting and I had to fight." He shrugged slightly. "Well, only one really fought. The other two ran after I brought their leader down. They weren't very good fighters, and not very brave." He glanced around then looked back at Leoric. "It might be better for her to not know. She doesn't like me very much and I can still watch over her."

"Then this dreary evening will have some success to it." He took a sweeping look over the hundreds of warriors when with a double take, he pointed out where Leo was standing there talking to another. That other he recognized too, "over there." Which he greeted Simon with a clasp to his shoulder, "how did you fare? Seems Thane has had better luck if you haven't any good news. At least we might be able to get in out of the rain and a good warm meal with one having some knowledge."


He noticed his men coming his way and back upon Bannon, "go get something to eat, and see the healer for that shiner. I will be sending a troupe of soldiers down to find the three that jumped you and bring them here. They may overcome someone who doesn't know how to defend themselves or a lady." That had happened before and they went after the bandits to keep the lands safe. "Some get too comfortable thinking the outerlands are just as safe as that which is within the outer fortress walls. Rina will probably find  out soon enough so I'd not suggest trying to hide the fact you are here but maybe let her discover it casually. I will bet that Tykir will be on his way soon enough, once his duty to Karl is seen to." So Bannon would have help. Possibly. Or it could make matters worse. The two could be more trouble together. "I need you to keep an even tighter watch on her while here. If you suspect she is going to take off to explore these wild lands, send word before you take off after her or as you do."

Thane glanced over to see Simon arriving as well, giving his comrade a nod of greeting before following Vincent's line of vision. Ah, there was the King, and a young man he recognized. Blinking, Thane watched the lad with slightly narrowed eyes before giving his comrades a wry look. "We can only hope." And then he was moving, doggedly making his way over to where the King was surrounded by the sea of people. Once there he nodded slightly to Bannon then spoke quietly to Leoric. "My liege, some news."

Since Thane was moving over to the king, Simon followed, figuring Vincent would be coming along as well. He stayed quiet while Thane spoke.

"Yes, your Majesty." He kept from pressing his hand to side while he spoke then saluted the Knights as they approached. He was always respectful, no matter his feelings. The thought of food had his stomach growling. "Only need to find two, your Majesty. The leader isn't alive." Hungry and not at the same time because of what happened. "They were pretty scraggly looking."

Vincent was right alongside both Thane and Simon as they made their way through the crowds of warriors. A few words here and there but he didn't stop to continue any conversation and those that knew the Knights, knew the three had priorities and nodded knowingly. Once through to where Leoric stood talking to Bannon, Vincent saluted his king while Thane spoke up. Obviously he didn't have the luck his comrade had or he would be speaking up too.


"See to that side of yours," so Leo had picked up on pain even if Bannon had not placed his hand there. The way spoken, it was an order. With his knights now in immediate attendance, he first introduced the squire. "If you have not already met Squire Bannon Zimmer, my knights Thane, Simon and Vincent. Bannon has been put as a guard on Rina by Sir Vincent de Beauvais and approved by King Karl," so in other words this wish was respected. As Thane spoke up he was pleased, with a touch of relief too, that someone with some knowledge had been found. "Please go get this man and bring him to me. We shall talk inside," which he gave the orders they could all head inside now that the assembly was done and the rain only getting harder.


Thane nodded to Bannon once more when the formal introduction came, dark green eyes sweeping the lad's rumpled appearance; but if he thought anything of it, he kept that to himself. Then he was nodding to Leoric, saluting him once more before again venturing out into the crowd. Finding Davydd again might be a bit like locating a needle in a haystack, but he'd persevere till the lad was picked out. Once found, Thane let him know that the King wished to speak to him, and couldn't help but chuckle some at the way the former farm boy's eyes grew  larger. Davydd nodded eagerly and off they went to join the others in the hall.

Bannon blinked in surprise, then gave a half smile to the King. He nodded to the three knights then as Thane walked away, muttered under his breath, "He doesn't like me either." Giving Leoric another hint of a smile, he saluted and  headed for the castle. He really didn't have an attitude, but he was tired, hungry, cold and hurting. Thoughtful too as he headed on inside, asking on the healer first. He'd need to be in top form to follow after Rina.


He headed in with Bannon, Simon and Vincent while Thane went to find the lad he spoke on. The hall was a welcoming warmth as there was a designated area for the King and his knights which Thane would obviously know of where to find him. "I doubt Thane dislikes you, Bannon." His words low but certainly he too had picked up on something. Something not known but not the feel of disliking Bannon personally. By this time Thane had returned as he waited for him to introduce him to the young warrior. One he had not seen yet so he must be one of the new recruits during his absence.


Vincent was amused by Thane's reaction to Bannon and the lad's reaction to the reaction. Amused as it wasn't anything dire to worry on. Hence it amusing him. He got into a conversation with a couple warriors he knew as he stood just outside the circle of Leo, Thane and the new recruit.

They stepped in together and Thane noticed the way Davydd was fidgeting. "Calm yourself, lad," he told the boy in a calm quiet voice. "And walk tall. You're a warrior now." He knew Davydd must be feeling intimidated by his own humble roots, so he stood to the side and just slightly behind the lad when they drew to a stop before Leoric. "Your Majesty, this is Davydd of Outhenby."


The lad in question dropped to a knee and put a fist to his heart, bowing his curly blonde head dampened by the rain. "Your Majesty, it's an honor truly."


Simon watched it all, feeling a bit lost at what was going on. He wasn't ready to go inside so turned to speak to a few others before heading inside.


Bannon looked at the King and nodded but he felt rather different about the knight. Perhaps not dislike but something ... He saluted again before heading to find the healer.


"Please rise Davydd and tell me all you know about the old woman." Which Leo gave a detail description of her to make certain that they were talking on the same aged woman. She had a scar in the shape of a V on the right side of her neck. It had to do with some coven she had once belonged to. The woman Davydd knew of was the same and he knew she was hiding out in the Southern forest not far from his village but when a few went to seek her out, they could not find her. Yet, she came to their village moments later after they returned to help out with the sick ones they had sought her for. They paid her in food and clothing before she vanished again, telling them she would know when to come, when they needed her and not to try searching the forest again. He noticed Bannon took his leave to see the healer. This was as it should be as he headed inside to find his brother. After seeing his brother and updating him on all that was found this evening, Leo prepared to leave immediately.



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